On This Day

What Happened in December 1961

Historical Events

  • Dec 1 The independent Republic of West Papua is proclaimed in modern-day Western New Guinea.

Historic Event

Dec 2 Fidel Castro declares he's a Marxist & will lead Cuba to Communism

  • Dec 2 Wind Bell, journal of San Francisco Zen Center, begins publishing
  • Dec 2 26th Iron Bowl: Alabama beats Auburn 34-0 in Birmingham
  • Dec 2 CFL Grey Cup, CNE Stadium, Toronto: A 6th title for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers; beat Hamilton Tiger-Cats, 21-14
  • Dec 3 Dutchman Anton Geesink becomes 1st non-Japanese judo world champion
  • Dec 3 George Blanda of Houston Oilers kicks 55-yard field goal
  • Dec 3 US performs nuclear test at Nevada Test Site

Boxing Title Fight

Dec 4 Floyd Patterson KOs Tom McNeeley in 4 for heavyweight boxing title

Historic Event

Dec 4 Museum of Modern Art hangs Matisse's Le Bateau upside down for 47 days

  • Dec 4 Smallest NY Knick, 49th St Madison Square Garden crowd-1,300 (snowstorm)
  • Dec 4 Tanganyika becomes 104th member of UN
  • Dec 4 WXGA TV channel 8 in Waycross, GA (PBS) begins broadcasting

Historic Event

Dec 4 The female contraceptive 'pill' becomes available on the National Health Service in Britain

  • Dec 4 1962 NFL Draft: Ernie Davis from University of Syracuse first pick by Washington Redskins
  • Dec 6 27th Heisman Trophy Award: Ernie Davis, Syracuse (HB) (1st African American to win)
  • Dec 8 Antwerp Belgium diocese forms
  • Dec 8 Larry Costello scores 32 consecutive pts without a miss (NBA rec)
  • Dec 8 South Africa v NZ, Durban debuts for Eddie Barlow & Peter Pollock

NBA Record

Dec 8 Philadelphia Warriors center Wilt Chamberlain scores 78 points in 151-147 3OT defeat to LA Lakers at Philadelphia Civic Center; 2nd highest game total in the NBA history

  • Dec 9 "From the Second City" closes at Royale Theater NYC after 87 performances
  • Dec 9 "Let It Ride" closes at Eugene O'Neill Theater NYC after 68 performances
  • Dec 9 Tanganyika gains independence from Britain, takes name Tanzania

Sports History

Dec 10 Houston Oilers utility back Billy Cannon gains AFL record 373 yards combined rushing/receiving in 48-21 win over NY Titans at the Polo Grounds, NYC

  • Dec 10 US performs nuclear test at Carlsbad New Mexico (underground)
  • Dec 10 USSR & Albania break diplomatic relations

Nobel Prize

Dec 10 Robert Hofstadter and Rudolf Ludwig Mössbauer win the Nobel Prize in Physics for their pioneering studies of electron scattering in atomic nuclei and discoveries concerning the structure of the nucleon

  • Dec 11 "Please, Mr. Postman" by Marvelettes released

#1 in the Charts

Dec 11 Elvis Presley's "Blue Hawaii" album goes #1 & stays #1 for 20 wks

Historic Event

Dec 11 JFK provides US military helicopters & crews to South Vietnam

  • Dec 12 Amateur radio satellite Oscar 1 launched with military Discoverer 36

Football Awards

Dec 12 Ballon d'Or: Juventus' Argentine forward Omar Sívori wins award for best football player in Europe ahead of Spanish midfielder Luis Suárez and English forward Johnny Haynes

Agreement of Interest

Dec 13 The Beatles sign a formal agreement to be managed by Brian Epstein

Historic Event

Dec 13 Gideon Hausner in Jerusalem demands death penalty for Adolf Eichmann

Film Premiere

Dec 13 "The Young Ones" directed by Sidney J. Furie, starring Cliff Richard, Robert Morley and Carole Gray premieres in London

  • Dec 14 Jimmy Dean's "Big Bad John" is 1st country song to get a gold record
  • Dec 15 Adolf Eichmann is sentenced to death for war crimes in Israel
  • Dec 15 Equal access rule, political parties get TV broadcasting time
  • Dec 15 JFK visits Puerto Rico
  • Dec 15 L. J. Suenens appointed archbishop of Mechelen-Brussels

Historic Event

Dec 16 Martin Luther King Jr. joins over 500 jailed demonstrators who had been arrested in Albany, Georgia [1]

  • Dec 16 "Evening with Yves Montand" closes at John Golden Theatre, NYC after 55 performances
  • Dec 17 India seizes Goa & 2 other Portuguese colonies
  • Dec 17 Niteroi Circus in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil catches fire; 323 die after disgruntled employee sets fire to the tent
  • Dec 18 For 2nd consecutive year, AP names Wilma Rudolph female athlete of year
  • Dec 18 India annexes Portuguese colonies of Goa, Damao & Diu
  • Dec 18 KAIL TV channel 53 in Fresno, CA (IND) begins broadcasting

Historic Event

Dec 19 Indonesian President Sukarno proclaims general mobilization

  • Dec 21 Beatles record "Sweet Georgia Brown" & "Ready Teddy"

Meeting of Interest

Dec 21 US President John F. Kennedy and British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan meet in Bermuda

Historic Event

Dec 21 Gangster Joe Gallo is sentenced to 7 to 14 years in state prison for extortion

  • Dec 22 US performs nuclear test at Nevada Test Site
  • Dec 23 KICU TV channel 43 in Visalia-Fresno, CA (IND) begins broadcasting
  • Dec 23 Train accident in Italy, 70 die
  • Dec 23 Fidel Castro announces Cuba will release 1,113 prisoners from failed 1961 Bay of Pigs Invasion for $62M worth of food & medical supplies
  • Dec 24 AFL Championship, Balboa Stadium, San Diego: Houston Oilers beat San Diego Chargers 10-3; Billy Cannon scores game's only TD
  • Dec 27 Belgium & Congo resume diplomatic relations
  • Dec 27 Jule Styne, Betty Comden and Adolph Green's musical "Subways Are For Sleeping" premieres at St James Theater, NYC; runs for 205 performances

Historic Event

Dec 28 Tennessee Williams' "Night of the Iguana" premieres in NYC

  • Dec 28 50th Davis Cup: Australia beats Italy in Melbourne (5-0)

Music Premiere

Dec 30 Premiere of Dmitri Shostakovich's 4th Symphony in Moscow (completed 1936)

  • Dec 31 "lrma La Douce" closes at Plymouth Theater NYC after 527 performances
  • Dec 31 The Beach Boys play their debut gig under that name
  • Dec 31 Failed coup by Syrian group in Lebanon

NFL Championship

Dec 31 National Football League Championship, City Stadium, Green Bay: Green Bay Packers shutout NY Giants 37-0; first of 5 NFL titles won in 7-season span by Packers and head coach, Vince Lombardi

  • Dec 31 Marshall Plan expires after distributing more than $12 billion

Famous Birthdays

  • Dec 1 Barb Mucha, American golfer (5 LPGA titles), born in Parma Heights, Ohio
  • Dec 1 Jeremy Northam, English actor (Emma, The Crown), born in Cambridge, England
  • Dec 1 Armin Meiwes ' the Rotenburg Cannibal', German murder, brn in Essen, West Germany
  • Dec 3 Adal Ramones, Mexican television host
  • Dec 4 Frank Reich, American NFL quarterback (Buffalo Bills) and coach (Indianapolis Colts 2018-20), born in Freeport, New York
  • Dec 6 David Lovering, American drummer (Pixies), born in Burlington, Massachusetts
  • Dec 8 Ann Coulter, American author, political commentator, and attorney
  • Dec 8 Mikey Robins, Australian comedian
  • Dec 9 Ian Andrew Wright, New Zealand rower (Olympics 1996), born in Hamilton, New Zealand
  • Dec 9 Joe Lando, American actor (Byron Sully-Dr Quinn), born in Los Angeles, California
  • Dec 9 David Anthony Higgins, American actor (Malcolm in the Middle), born in Des Moines, Iowa
  • Dec 10 Mark McKoy, Canadian track star (world record 50m indoor, Olympic gold 1992), born in Georgetown, British Guiana
  • Dec 10 Nia Peeples, American dancer and host (Fame, Party Machine), born in Hollywood, California
  • Dec 11 Mike Henneman, American baseball pitcher (Texas Rangers), born in Saint Charles, Missouri
  • Dec 11 Marco Pierre White, English chef and restaurateur (youngest chef ever to have been awarded three Michelin stars), born in Leeds, England
  • Dec 11 Darryl Jones, American bass player (Sting; Rolling Stones, 1993-present), born in Chicago, Illinois
  • Dec 12 Dale Sanderson, Canadian CFL guard (Hamilton Tiger Cats), born in Hamilton, Ontario
  • Dec 12 Daniel O'Donnell, Irish singer and television presenter, born in Donegal, Ireland
  • Dec 13 Gary Zimmerman, American NFL tackle (Denver Broncos - Super Bowl XXXII), born in Fullerton, California
  • Dec 13 Harry Gregson-Williams, English composer, born in Chichester, England
  • Dec 13 Irene Sáez, Venezuelan beauty queen crowned Miss Universe 1981 and politician, born in Chacao, Miranda, Venezuela
  • Dec 14 Jeff Robinson, American baseball player (Det, Balt), born in Ventura, California, (d. 2014)
  • Dec 15 Annie Pujol, French TV hostess (Roue de la Fortune), born in Perpignan, France
  • Dec 15 Reginald Hudlin, American director (House Party), born in Centreville, Illinois
  • Dec 15 Karin Resetarits, Austrian journalist
  • Dec 16 Bill Hicks, American stand-up comedian and social critic, born in Valdosta, Georgia (d. 1994)
  • Dec 16 LaChanze [Rhonda LaChanze Sapp], American Broadway actress (The Color Purple), born in St. Augustine, Florida
  • Dec 17 Sara Dallin, British musician (Bananarama), born in Bristol, England
  • Dec 18 Brian Orser, Canadian figure skater (Olympic silver 1988)
  • Dec 18 Ken Foreman, British musician (Thrashing Doves - "Reprobate's Hymn")
  • Dec 18 Lalchand Rajput, Indian cricketer and coach (Indian Test opening batsman 1985-86), born in Bombay, India
  • Dec 18 Thomas Strittmatter, writer

Reggie White

Dec 19 Reggie White, American NFL defensive end (Green Bay Packers - Super Bowl 31), born in Chattanooga, Tennessee (d. 2004)

  • Dec 20 Gale Gilbert, NFL quarterback (San Diego Chargers), born in Red Bluff, California
  • Dec 20 Nate Newton, NFL guard (Dallas Cowboys), born in Orlando, Florida
  • Dec 20 Mohammad Fouad, Arab singer and actor, born in Ismailia Governorate, Egypt
  • Dec 21 Trevor Bayliss, Australian cricketer (NSW batsman) and coach (England), born in Goulburn, Australia
  • Dec 21 Francis Ng, Hong Kong actor (Internal Affairs), born in British Hong Kong
  • Dec 21 Ryuji Sasai, Japanese video game composer, born in Osaka Prefecture, Japan
  • Dec 22 Yuri Ivanovich Malinchenko, Russian cosmonaut (1st person to marry in space), born in Khrushchev, Ukrainian SSR, USSR
  • Dec 22 Andrew Fastow, US convicted criminal and businessman (former CFO of Enron), born in Washington, D.C., United States
  • Dec 23 Carol Smillie, British television personality, born in Glasgow, United Kingdom
  • Dec 24 Ilham Aliyev, President of Azerbaijan Republic, born in Baku, Azerbaijan
  • Dec 24 Jay Wright, American basketball coach, born in Churchville, Pennsylvania
  • Dec 24 Mary Barra, American CEO of General Motors (1st woman to head a global automotive company), born in Waterford, Michigan
  • Dec 24 Darren Wharton, British musician (Dare; Thin Lizzy), born in Failsworth, United Kingdom
  • Dec 25 Ingrid Betancourt, Colombian senator
  • Dec 25 Ghislaine Maxwell, British socialite and convicted sex offender, born in Maisons-Laffitte, France
  • Dec 26 Tahnee Welch [La Tahn Renee Welch], American actress (Cocoon), born in San Diego, California
  • Dec 26 John Lynch, Irish actor, born in County Armagh, Northern Ireland
  • Dec 28 Kent Nielsen, Danish football player & coach, born in Frederiksberg, Denmark
  • Dec 29 Robert Tewdwr Moss, British journalist, born in Congleton, United Kingdom (d. 1996)
  • Dec 29 Jim Reid, Scottish rock singer-songwriter (The Jesus and Mary Chain; Freeheat), born in East Kilbride, Scotland
  • Dec 30 Ben Johnson, Canadian athlete (Olympic 100m gold 1988-disqualified), born in Falmouth, Jamaica
  • Dec 30 Sue Malaxos, Australian marathoner (Olympics 1996)
  • Dec 30 Douglas Coupland, Canadian author
  • Dec 30 Bill English, New Zealand politician and Prime Minister (National: 2016-17), born in Lumsden, New Zealand
  • Dec 31 Joanna Johnson, American actress (Caroline-Bold & Beautiful), born in Phoenix, Arizona
  • Dec 31 Rick Aguilera, American baseball pitcher (Minnesota Twins), born in San Gabriel, California

Famous Weddings

  • Dec 10 Dr Ruth marries Fred Westheimer

Martin Sheen

Dec 23 Actor Martin Sheen (21) weds Janet Templeton


Famous Deaths

  • Dec 3 Jēkabs Graubiņš, Latvian composer, dies at 75
  • Dec 3 Mary Charleson, Irish-American silent film actress (Upstairs And Down), dies at 71
  • Dec 3 Pat O'Hara Wood, Australian tennis player (Australasian C'ship 1920, 23), dies at 70
  • Dec 6 Frantz Fanon, West Indian psychiatrist and philosopher (The Wretched of the Earth), dies of leukemia at 36
  • Dec 8 William Beatton Moonie, Scottish composer (The Weird of Colbar; Echoes of Perthshire), dies at 71
  • Dec 12 Daiun Sogaku Harada, Zen founder of Sanbo Kyodan lineage, dies at 91

Grandma Moses

Dec 13 Anna Mary "Grandma" Moses, American painter, dies at 101

  • Dec 15 William "Dummy" Hoy, American baseball outfielder (most accomplished deaf player in MLB history; NL stolen base leader 1888; Washington Senators, Cincinnati Reds), dies at 99
  • Dec 16 Boris Semyonovich Shekhter, Russian composer and teacher, dies at 61
  • Dec 16 Cato Engelen-Sewing, Dutch soprano singer, prima donna, dies at 93
  • Dec 17 Marion Perkins, sculptor (Man of Sorrow), dies at 53

Moss Hart

Dec 20 Moss Hart, American playwright (You Can't Take it With You, Act 1), dies of a heart attack at 57

  • Dec 20 Earle Page, eleventh Prime Minister of Australia (b. 1880)
  • Dec 23 Kurt Meyer, German SS officer (b. 1910)
  • Dec 24 Guy de Lioncourt, French composer, dies at 76
  • Dec 25 Rheinhold Rudenberg, inventor of electron microscope, dies
  • Dec 25 Otto Loewi, recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine (b. 1873)
  • Dec 25 Owen Brewster, U.S. Senator from Maine (b. 1888)
  • Dec 26 Charlie Frank, cricketer (S Af Test centurion v Aust 1921-22), dies
  • Dec 28 Edith Bolling Galt Wilson, 1st lady (1915-21), dies at 89
  • Dec 30 Jacobus "Ko" van den Bosch, Dutch actor (Amsterdamned)/dir, dies at 53