On This Day

What Happened in May 1959

Historical Events


Sport defeatBoxing Title Fight

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

Boxer and Undisputed Heavyweight Champion Floyd Patterson
Boxer and Undisputed Heavyweight Champion
Floyd Patterson
  • May 1 West Germany introduces 5 day work week
  • 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

Music awardsGrammy Awards

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

Jazz Musician Ella Fitzgerald
Jazz Musician
Ella Fitzgerald
  • May 4 Pulitzer Prize awarded to Archibald Macleish (JB)
  • May 4 "The 400 Blows", French film directed by François Truffaut, starring Jean-Pierre Léaud, is released
  • May 6 Iceland gunboats shoot at British fishing vessels

Event of interestEvent of Interest

May 7 "Roy Campanella Night" Largest baseball crowd (93,103 in LA Coliseum) sees Dodgers' Sandy Koufax beat Yankees 6-2 in exhibition

MLB Catcher Roy Campanella
MLB Catcher
Roy Campanella
  • May 8 3-deck Nile excursion steamer springs a leak panicking passengers who capsized ship. 200 drown just yards from shore

Event of interestEvent of Interest

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

Baseball Player Hank Greenberg
Baseball Player
Hank Greenberg
  • May 10 Soviet forces arrive in Afghanistan
  • 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 11 "Kookie, Kookie Lend Me Your Comb" by Byrnes & Connie Stevens hits #4
  • May 11 Rodgers & Barer's musical "Once upon a mattress" premieres in NYC

Event of interestEvent of Interest

May 11 Yankee catcher Yogi Berra's errorless streak of 148 games ends

MLB Catcher and Manager Yogi Berra
MLB Catcher and Manager
Yogi Berra

Event of interestEvent of Interest

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

Author Henry Miller
Author
Henry Miller
  • 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

Sports record brokenGolf Record

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

Golfer Sam Snead
Golfer
Sam Snead

PortugalSanctuary 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
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The Sanctuary of Christ the King in Almada, Portugal
The Sanctuary of Christ the King in Almada, Portugal
  • May 18 "Castin' My Spell" by 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

Event of interestEvent of Interest

May 20 Shah of Persia Mohammed Reza Pahlavi visits Netherlands

Last Shah of Iran Mohammad Reza Pahlavi
Last Shah of Iran
Mohammad Reza Pahlavi
  • 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
  • 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

Event of interestEvent of Interest

May 25 Russian premier Nikita Khrushchev visits Angola

Soviet First Secretary Nikita Khrushchev
Soviet First Secretary
Nikita Khrushchev
  • 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

Event of interestEvent of Interest

May 29 Charles de Gaulle forms French government

French President Charles de Gaulle
French President
Charles de Gaulle
  • May 29 Saunders-Roe SR.N1, the first practical hovercraft, performs its first engine run
  • May 30 "First Impressions" closes at Alvin Theater NYC after 84 performances
  • May 30 "Nervous Set" closes at Henry Miller's Theater NYC after 23 performances
  • 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.
  • May 30 Indianapolis 500: Rodger Ward wins in 3:40:47.470 (218.641 km/h)
  • 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)

Famous Birthdays

  • May 1 Eddie Johnson, American basketball guard/forward (NBA Sixth Man of the Year 1989), born in Chicago, Illinois
  • May 1 Paul Smith, rock saxophonist (Haircut 100)
  • May 1 Roger Chapman, English golfer (PGA Senior 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 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 Randy Travis, American country music singer (Diggin' Up Bones), born in Marshville, North Carolina
  • May 4 Bob Tway, American golfer (PGA C'ship 1986), born in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
  • 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 Ian McCulloch English rock vocalist (Echo & Bunnymen - Heaven Up Here), born in Liverpool
  • May 5 Brian Phelps, American disk jockey and actor (Mark & Brian), born in Cambridge, Illinois
  • May 6 Charles Hendry, British Conservative Party politician, born in Cuckfield, England
  • May 6 Eric D Fingerhut, (Rep-D-Ohio)
  • May 6 Kate Collins, actress (Natalie Hunter-All My Children), born in Boston, Massachusetts
  • 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 7 Barbara Yung Mei-ling, Hong Kong actress, born in Hong Kong (d. 1985)
  • May 8 Ronnie Lott, Albuquerque, NM, NFL defensive back (SF 49er)
  • May 9 Andrew Jones, cricketer (highly consistent for NZ at 1st drop)
  • May 9 Asantha De Mel, cricketer (pioneering Sri Lankan Test opening bowler)
  • May 10 Dan Schayes, NBA center/forward (Miami Heat, Orlando Magic)
  • May 11 Martha Quinn, MTV VJ (Tracey-Bradys), born in Albany, New York
  • May 12 Dave Christian, Minn, NHL right wing (Wash Caps, Olympic gold 1980)
  • 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, Algerian/French actor/rock vocalist (Coup of Sirocco)
  • May 15 Andrew Eldritch, rocker (Sisters of Mercy-Walk Away, Black Planet)
  • 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 Paul Di'anno, rocker (Iron Maiden Chingford, London V Early Vocalist
  • May 17 Jim Nantz, American sportscaster, born in Charlotte, North Carolina
  • May 18 Graham Dilley, cricketer (England wicket-taker of 80's)
  • 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 Peter Greene, American producer (After Midnight), born in Brooklyn, New York
  • May 20 Israel Kamakawiwo'ole, Native Hawaiian musician, entertainer and Hawaiian sovereignty advocate (Somewhere Over The Rainbow/What A Wonderful World), born in Honolulu, Hawaii (d. 1997)
  • May 21 Nick Cassavetes, American actor and director (The Notebook), born in NYC, New York
  • May 21 Brisn Lenihan, Jnr, Irish politician and minister, born in Dublin (d. 2011)
  • May 22 Ed Fry, American actor (Larry-As the World Turns, Adam Cory-Another World), born in Chicago, Illinois
  • May 22 [Steven] Morrissey, British rock vocalist (The Smiths), born in Davyhulme, Lancashire
  • May 22 Olin Browne, American golfer (US Senior Open 2011), born in Washington, D.C.
  • May 23 Linden Ashby, actor (Mortal Kombat)
  • May 23 Marcella Mesker, Netherlands, tennis star
  • May 23 Robert "Bob" Mortimer, British comedian, podcast presenter, and actor, born in Acklam, England
  • May 25 Cathryn Harrison, English actress (Old Woman in Black Moon), born in London, England
  • May 25 Manolis Kefalogiannis, Greek politician (Minister for Mercantile Marine), born in Heraklion, Greece
  • May 25 Julian Clary, English television personality, born in Surbiton, Surrey, England
  • May 26 Brian Peaker, rower (Olympics 1996), born in London, Ontario
  • May 26 Wayne Hussey, rocker (Mission-Lover for Life)
  • May 26 Steve Hanley, English musician (The Fall, Tom Hingley and the Lovers)
  • May 26 Ole Bornedal, Danish film director, actor and producer
  • May 27 Donna Strickland, Canadian physicist (Nobel Prize 2018 laser beams), born in Guelph, Ontario
  • May 28 Leon "The Bop" Klaasse, rock drummer/singer (The Pilgrims-Red)
  • May 28 John Morgan, British etiquette expert (d. 2000)
  • May 28 Steve Strange [Steven Harrington], Welsh pop singer (Visage) and nightclub host, born in Newbridge, Caerphily (d. 2015)
  • May 29 Mel Gaynor, rock drummer (Simple Minds-Water Front), born in Glasgow, Scotland
  • May 29 Rupert Everett, British actor (Princess Daisy, Another Country)
  • May 29 Tamayo Otsuki, actress (Mrs Yamagami-Davis Rules)
  • May 30 Frank Vanhecke, Belgian politician, born in Bruges, Belgium
  • May 30 Claudia Alexander, Canadian-born American NASA Scientist (led Galileo mission to Jupiter), born in Vancouver, British Columbia (d. 2015)

Famous Weddings


LoveWedding of Interest

May 8 Actress Raquel Welch (18) weds high school sweetheart James Welch

Actress Raquel Welch
Actress
Raquel Welch

LoveWedding of Interest

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

LoveWedding of Interest

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

Muppeteer Jim Henson
Muppeteer
Jim Henson

Famous Deaths

  • May 1 Oscar Torp, Norwegian premier, dies

Person of interestCarlos Saavedra Lamas

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

Nobel Peace Laureate Carlos Saavedra Lamas
Nobel Peace Laureate
Carlos Saavedra Lamas
  • May 8 Renato Caccioppoli, Italian mathematician/pianist, suicide at 55
  • May 14 Sidney Bechet, Americanjazz clarinetist, saxophonist and bandleader, dies at 62
  • May 16 Joe Cook, Stage comedian, dies at 69
  • May 16 Elisha Scott, Northern Irish footballer (b. 1894)
  • May 20 Alfred Schütz, Austrian-American architect and philosopher, dies at 60

Person of interestJohn Foster Dulles

May 24 John Foster Dulles, US Secretary of State (1953-59), dies at 71

US Secretary of State John Foster Dulles
US Secretary of State
John Foster Dulles
  • May 26 Ed Walsh, baseball pitcher (1.82 ERA), dies at 78
  • May 26 Joe Kelly, TV host (Quiz Kids), dies at 57
  • May 28 Bert Collins, cricketer (19 Tests for Aust 1920-26), dies
  • May 30 Thomas Carl Whitmer, American composer, dies at 85