What Happened in May 1959

Historical Events

Boxing Title Fight

May 1 Floyd Patterson scores 11th round KO of Englishman Brian London in Indianapolis; his 4th World Heavyweight Boxing title defence

  • May 1 West Germany introduces 5 day work week

Sports History

May 2 85th Kentucky Derby: Bill Shoemaker aboard Tomy Lee wins in 2:02.2

  • May 3 Tiger's Charlie Maxwell hits 4 consecutive HRs in a doubleheader
  • May 4 "The 400 Blows", French film directed by François Truffaut, starring Jean-Pierre Léaud, is released

Grammy Awards

May 4 First Grammy Awards: Perry Como & Ella Fitzgerald win

Historic Event

May 4 Pulitzer Prize awarded to Archibald MacLeish (J.B.)

  • May 6 Iceland gunboats shoot at British fishing vessels

Sports History

May 7 "Roy Campanella Night" Largest baseball crowd at 93,103 at the LA Coliseum see Yankees beat Dodgers 6-2 in exhibition game

  • May 8 3-deck Nile River excursion steamer springs a leak panicking passengers who capsized ship; 200 drown just yards from shore

Historic Event

May 8 Little Caesars Pizza is founded by Mike Ilitch and his wife Marian Ilitch in Garden City, Michigan

Sports History

May 9 Dorothy Rigney, husband John, and Hank Greenberg resign from White Sox

  • May 10 Giants Jim Hearn allows 2 runs against Pirates, game is suspended, Hearn is released & charged with loss 2 months after his retirement
  • May 10 Soviet forces arrive in Afghanistan
  • May 11 "Kookie, Kookie Lend Me Your Comb" by Byrnes & Connie Stevens hits #4

Music Premiere

May 11 Mary Rodgers & Marshall Barer's musical "Once Upon A Mattress", starring Carol Burnett and directed by George Abbott, opens at Phoenix Theatre, NYC, later transferring to the Alvin Theater; runs for 244 performances

Sports History

May 11 New York Yankees catcher Yogi Berra's errorless streak of 148 games ends

Music History

May 12 "Nervous Set" opens at Henry Miller's Theater NYC for 23 performances

Television Finale

May 13 Kraft Music Hall with Milton Berle last airs on NBC-TV

  • May 15 100th anniversary of 1st college baseball game, between Amherst & Williams Teams reenact the original contest
  • May 15 12th Cannes Film Festival: "Black Orpheus" directed by Marcel Camus wins the Palme d'Or
  • May 16 84th Preakness: William Harmatz aboard Royal Orbit wins in 1:57
  • May 16 WTOM TV channel 4 in Cheboygan, MI (NBC) begins broadcasting

Golf Record

May 17 Sam Snead sets PGA record for 36 holes at 122

Sanctuary of Christ the King

May 17 Sanctuary of Christ the King inaugurated, a 28 meter (92 ft) high monument and shrine overlooking Lisbon, Portugal by sculptor Francisco Franco de Sousa

  • May 18 "Castin' My Spell" by The Johnny Otis Show hits #52
  • May 18 "Judy" by David Seville hits #86
  • May 18 "Russian Band Stand" by Spencer & Spencer hits #91
  • May 19 Jan de Quay becomes premier of Netherlands
  • May 19 The USS Triton, the first submarine with two nuclear reactors, is completed
  • May 20 Ford wins battle with Chrysler to call its new car "Falcon"
  • May 20 Japanese-Americans regain their citizenship

Historic Event

May 20 Shah of Persia Mohammad Reza Pahlavi visits Netherlands

  • May 20 Yanks sink to last place, 1st time since May 25, 1940
  • May 21 "Gypsy" opens at Broadway Theater NYC for 702 performances
  • May 21 Cleveland Metroparks Zoo Children's Petting Farm opens (Cleveland, Ohio)
  • May 22 Benjamin O Davis Jr becomes 1st black major general in US Air Force
  • May 23 "Party with Comden & Green" closes at John Golden NYC after 44 performances
  • May 24 1st house with built-in bomb shelter exhibited (Pleasant Hills, Pennsylvania)
  • May 24 Empire Day renamed Commonwealth Day in Great Britain

Historic Event

May 25 Russian premier Nikita Khrushchev visits Angola

  • May 25 US Supreme Courtt rules Louisiana prohibiting black-white boxing unconstitutional
  • May 26 Harvey Haddix pitches 12 perfect innings, loses in 13th
  • May 28 Congressional Committee of Astronautics meets Project 7 astronauts
  • May 28 Johnson & Bart's musical "Lock Up Your Daughters" premieres in London
  • May 28 Monkeys Able & Baker zoom 300 miles (500 km) into space on Jupiter missile, become 1st animals retrieved from a space mission

Historic Event

May 29 Charles de Gaulle forms French government

  • May 29 Saunders-Roe SR.N1, the first practical hovercraft, performs its first engine run
  • May 30 "Nervous Set" closes at Henry Miller's Theater NYC after 23 performances
  • May 30 58th Men's French Championships: Nicola Pietrangeli beats Ian Vermaak (3-6, 6-3, 6-4, 6-1)
  • May 30 58th Women's French Championships: Christine Truman beats Zsuzsi Kormoczy (6-4, 7-5)

Musical Finale

May 30 George Weiss, Bo Goldman, and Glenn Paxton musical "First Impressions", adapted from Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice", starring Polly Bergen; Farley Granger, and Hermione Gingold, closes at Alvin Theater, NYC, after 84 performances

  • May 30 Indianapolis 500: Rodger Ward earns first of 2 career Indy 500 victories as a record 16 cars complete full 500 miles; for the first time all cars required to have roll bars
  • May 30 Iraq withdraws from the Baghdad Pact (Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Turkey, and the United Kingdom)
  • May 30 President Luis Somoza Debayle ends emergency crisis in Nicaragua
  • May 30 President Stroessner disbands Paraguay's parliament
  • May 30 The Auckland Harbour Bridge is officially opened in Auckland, New Zealand.

Famous Birthdays

  • May 1 Eddie Johnson, American basketball guard/forward (NBA Sixth Man of the Year 1989; Phoenix Suns, Seattle SuperSonics), born in Chicago, Illinois
  • May 1 Phil Smith, British rock saxophonist (Haircut One Hundred - "Love Plus One"), born in Redbridge, Essex, England
  • May 1 Roger Chapman, English golfer (Senior PGA 2012, US Seniors Open 2012), born in Nakuru, Kenya
  • May 2 Alan Best, Canadian animation director and producer, born in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
  • May 3 Ben Elton, English actor and comedian (Blackadder Back & Forth, Friday Night Live), born in Fitzrovia, London
  • May 3 Carlos De León, Puerto Rican boxer (WBC cruiserweight champion (1980–82, 83–85, 86–88, 89–90), born in Trujillo Alto, Puerto Rico (d. 2020)
  • May 3 David Ball, English rock keyboardist (Soft Cell), born in Blackpool, Lancashire
  • May 3 Uma Bharati, Indian politician, Minister of Drinking Water & Sanitation, born in Tikamgarh, Madhya Pradesh, India
  • May 4 Bob Tway, American golfer (PGA C'ship 1986), born in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Randy TravisRandy Travis (63 years old)

May 4 American country and gospel music singer ("Diggin' Up Bones"; "Forever and Ever, Amen"), and actor, born in Marshville, North Carolina

  • May 4 Rohn Stark, American football NFL punter (Pittsburgh Steelers), born in Minneapolis, Minnesota
  • May 4 Scott Armstrong, American professional wrestling referee, born in Marietta, Georgia
  • May 5 Brian Phelps, American disk jockey and actor (Mark & Brian), born in Cambridge, Illinois
  • May 5 Ian McCulloch English rock vocalist (Echo & Bunnymen - "Heaven Up Here"), born in Liverpool
  • May 5 Steve Stevens [Schneider], American rock guitarist and songwriter (Billy Idol - "Rebel Yell"; Bozzio Levin Stevens), born in New York City
  • May 6 Charles Hendry, British Conservative Party politician, born in Cuckfield, England
  • May 6 Eric D. Fingerhut, American businessman and politician (Rep-D-Ohio 1993-95), born in Cleveland, Ohio
  • May 6 Kate Collins, actress (Natalie Hunter-All My Children), born in Boston, Massachusetts
  • May 7 Barbara Yung Mei-ling, Hong Kong actress, born in Hong Kong (d. 1985)
  • May 7 Michael E. Knight, America actor (All My Children), born in Princeton, New Jersey
  • May 7 Tamara E. Jernigan, American astronaut (STS 40, 52, 67, 80), born in Chattanooga, Tennessee
  • May 8 Ronnie Lott, College and Pro Football Hall of Fame defensive back (10-time NFL Pro Bowl; Super Bowl 1981, 84, 88-89; SF 49ers), born in Albuquerque, New Mexico
  • May 9 Andrew Jones, New Zealand cricket batsman (39 Tests @ 44.27, 87 ODIs), born in Wellington, New Zealand
  • May 9 Asantha De Mel, cricketer (pioneering Sri Lankan Test opening bowler)
  • May 10 Cindy Hyde-Smith, American politician (Senator-R-Mississippi 2018-), born in Brookhaven, Mississippi
  • May 10 Dan Schayes, NBA center/forward (Miami Heat, Orlando Magic)
  • May 11 Ion Adrian Zare, Romanian soccer defender (7 caps; FC Bihor, BFC Siófok), born in Oradea, Romania (d. 2022)
  • May 11 Martha Quinn, MTV VJ (Tracey-Bradys), born in Albany, New York
  • May 12 Dave Christian, American NHL right wing (Wash Caps, Olympic gold 1980), born in Warroad, Minnesota
  • May 12 Ving Rhames [Irving Rameses Rhames], American actor (Mission Impossible), born in New York City
  • May 13 Paul Pesco, Eurasian American session guitarist, singer-songwriter and record producer, born in Canandaigua, New York
  • May 14 Mike Quick, NFL wide receiver (Philadelphia Eagles)
  • May 14 Patrick Bruel [Benguigui], Algerian-French actor (Coup of Sirocco), rock vocalist ("Marre de cette nana-là" - "Fed Up With That Chick"), and world class poker player, born in Tlemcen, Algeria
  • May 15 Andrew Eldritch, British rock singer-songwriter (Sisters of Mercy - Walk Away; Black Planet), born in Ely, England
  • May 15 Kaokor Galaxy, Thai boxer
  • May 16 Bob Patterson, pitcher (Chicago Cubs), born in Jacksonville, Florida
  • May 16 Mare Winningham, actress (St Elmo's Fire, Turner & Hooch), born in Phoenix, Arizona
  • May 17 Jim Nantz, American sportscaster, born in Charlotte, North Carolina
  • May 17 Paul Di'anno [Andrews], Brazilian-British rock singer (Iron Maiden, 1981-84), born in Chingford, London, England
  • May 18 Graham Dilley, English cricket fast bowler (41 Tests, 138 wickets; Kent CCC, Worcestershire CCC), born in Dartford, England (d. 2011)
  • May 19 Nicole Brown Simpson, German-American ex-wife of O.J. Simpson who was later murdered, born in Frankfurt, Germany (d. 1994)
  • May 20 Bronson Pinchot, American actor (Perfect Strangers, Beverly Hills Cop), born in NYC, New York
  • May 20 Israel Kamakawiwo'ole, Native Hawaiian singer, songwriter ("Somewhere Over The Rainbow/What A Wonderful World"), and Hawaiian sovereignty advocate, born in Honolulu, Hawaii (d. 1997)
  • May 20 Peter Greene, American producer (After Midnight), born in Brooklyn, New York
  • May 21 Brisn Lenihan, Jnr, Irish politician and minister, born in Dublin (d. 2011)
  • May 21 Nick Cassavetes, American actor and director (The Notebook), born in NYC, New York
  • May 22 Ed Fry, American actor (Larry-As the World Turns, Adam Cory-Another World), born in Chicago, Illinois
  • May 22 Olin Browne, American golfer (US Senior Open 2011), born in Washington, D.C.
  • May 22 [Steven] Morrissey, British rock vocalist (The Smiths), born in Davyhulme, Lancashire
  • May 23 Ken Peplowski, American swing jazz clarinetist and tenor saxophonist, born in Cleveland, Ohio
  • May 23 Linden Ashby, American actor (Mortal Kombat), born in Atlantic Beach, Florida
  • May 23 Marcella Mesker, Netherlands, tennis star
  • May 23 Robert "Bob" Mortimer, British comedian, podcast presenter, and actor, born in Acklam, England
  • May 24 Mario Igrec, Croatian jazz guitarist, composer and music professor (Cubismo), born in Zagreb, Croatia
  • May 24 Pelle Lindbergh, Swedish NHL goaltender, 1981-86, Vezina Award winner (Philadelphia Flyers), born in Stockholm, Sweden (d. 1986)
  • May 25 Cathryn Harrison, English actress (Old Woman in Black Moon), born in London, England
  • May 25 Julian Clary, British television personality, born in Surbiton, Surrey, England
  • May 25 Manolis Kefalogiannis, Greek politician (Minister for Mercantile Marine), born in Heraklion, Greece
  • May 26 Brian Peaker, rower (Olympics 1996), born in London, Ontario
  • May 26 Ole Bornedal, Danish film director, actor and producer
  • May 26 Steve Hanley, English rock bassist (The Fall; Tom Hingley and the Lovers; Brix & the Extricated), born in Dublin, Ireland
  • May 26 Wayne Hussey, English musician (Mission - "Lover for Life"), born in Bristol, England
  • May 27 Donna Strickland, Canadian physicist (Nobel Prize 2018 laser beams), born in Guelph, Ontario
  • May 28 John Morgan, British etiquette expert (d. 2000)
  • May 28 Léon Klaassen, Dutch session and touring rock and jazz drummer (Powerplay; The Pilgrims; D'Wys), born in The Netherlands
  • May 28 Steve Strange [Harrington], Welsh pop singer (Visage) and nightclub host, born in Newbridge, Caerphily, Wales (d. 2015)
  • May 29 Juliano Mer-Khamis, Israeli actor, director, filmmaker and political activist, born in Nazareth, Israel (d. 2011)
  • May 29 Mel Gaynor, British rock drummer (Simple Minds - "Don't You (Forget About Me)"; "Alive And Kicking"), born in Balham, London, England
  • May 29 Rupert Everett, British actor (Another Country, My Best Friend's Wedding), born in Burnham Deepdale, England
  • May 30 Claudia Alexander, Canadian-born American NASA Scientist (led Galileo mission to Jupiter), born in Vancouver, British Columbia (d. 2015)
  • May 30 Frank Vanhecke, Belgian politician, born in Bruges, Belgium

Famous Weddings

Raquel Welch

May 8 Aspiring American actress Raquel Tejada (18) weds high school sweetheart James Welch; divorce in 1964 - she keeps his name (Raquel Welch)

Julie Andrews

May 10 British stage actress and singer Julie Andrews (23) weds British theatrical set designer Tony Walton (24) in Weybridge, Surrey, England; divorce in 1968

Elizabeth Taylor

May 12 Actress Elizabeth Taylor (27) marries for the 4th time to entertainer Eddie Fisher (30)

Jim Henson

May 28 Muppeteer Jim Henson (22) weds Jane Nebel (24) in Salisbury, Maryland


Famous Deaths

  • May 1 Oscar Torp, Norwegian premier, dies

Carlos Saavedra LamasCarlos Saavedra Lamas (1878-1959)

May 5 Argentine politician (Nobel Peace Prize 1936), dies at 80

  • May 8 Renato Caccioppoli, Italian mathematician and pianist, takes his own life at 55
  • May 14 Sidney Bechet, American jazz clarinetist, saxophonist, band leader, and composer ("Petite Fleur"), dies of lung cancer on his 62nd birthday
  • May 16 Elisha Scott, Northern Irish footballer (b. 1894)
  • May 16 Joe Cook, Stage comedian, dies at 69
  • May 20 Alfred Schütz, Austrian-American architect and philosopher, dies at 60
  • May 26 Ed Walsh, American Baseball HOF pitcher (World Series 1906; no-hitter 1911; MLB record 1.82 career ERA; Chicago White Sox) and manager (Chicago WS 1924), dies at 78
  • May 26 Joe Kelly, TV host (Quiz Kids), dies at 57
  • May 28 Herbie Collins, Australian cricket all-rounder and captain (19 Tests, 1,352 runs @ 45.06, 4 x 100s), dies at 71
  • May 30 Thomas Carl Whitmer, American composer, dies at 85