On This Day

What Happened in May 1961

Historical Events

  • May 1 1st US airplane hijacked to Cuba

Historic Event

May 1 Fidel Castro announces there will be no more elections in Cuba

Historic Event

May 1 Pulitzer prize awarded to Harper Lee for her novel "To Kill a Mockingbird"

  • May 1 Tanganyika granted full internal self-government by Britain

Sports History

May 3 Warren Spahn pitches a 2 hitter after pitching a no hitter

  • May 4 1st on-the-road Spacemobile lecture given.
  • May 4 CORE begins freedom rides from Washington, D.C.
  • May 4 Malcolm Ross & Victor Prather reach 34,668 m (record) in balloon
  • May 4 South Africa ANC leader John Nkadimeng arrested
  • May 5 Alan Shepard becomes 1st American in space (aboard Freedom 7)
  • May 6 87th Kentucky Derby: John Sellers aboard Carry Back wins in 2:04
  • May 6 Omer Vanaudenhove chosen chairman of Belgium Liberal Party
  • May 7 "Young Abe Lincoln" closes at Eugene O'Neill NYC after 27 performances
  • May 8 1st practical sea water conversion plant-Freeport, Texas
  • May 8 Alan Shepard receives NASA Distinguished Service Medal, Washington
  • May 9 Baltimore Oriole Jim Gentile hits 2 grand slams (9 RBIs) vs Minnesota Twins
  • May 9 FCC Chairman Newton N Minow criticizes TV as a "vast wasteland"
  • May 9 Jim Gentile is 4th to hit grand slams in consecutive innings
  • May 10 "Beyond the Fringe" premieres in London
  • May 12 Russian Mikhail Botvinnik wins world chess championship for 3rd time
  • May 14 Bus with 1st group of Freedom Riders bombed & burned in Alabama

Sports History

May 14 Stirling Moss wins the 1961 Monaco Grand Prix

  • May 15 "Bonanza" by Al Caiola Orchestra hits #19
  • May 15 36 Unification church couples wed in Korea

Catholic Encyclical

May 15 Pope John XXIII publishes encyclical Mater et Magistra

Emmy Awards

May 16 13th Emmy Awards: Jack Benny Show, Raymond Burr & Barbara Stanwyck win

  • May 17 Fidel Castro offers to exchange Bay of Pigs prisoners for 500 bulldozers
  • May 18 "Donnybrook!" opens at 46th St Theater NYC for 68 performances
  • May 18 14th Cannes Film Festival: "The Long Absence" directed by Henri Colpi and "Viridiana" directed by Luis Bunuel jointly awarded the Palme d'Or
  • May 19 New pier opens in Scheveningen, the Netherlands
  • May 20 86th Preakness: Johnny Sellers aboard Carry Back wins in 1:57.6
  • May 20 Henzes opera "Elegy for Young Lovers," premieres in Schwetzingen
  • May 20 Mauritania adopts constitution
  • May 20 White mob attacks "Freedom Riders" in Montgomery, Alabama
  • May 21 Governor Patterson declares martial law in Montgomery, Alabama
  • May 22 "Mother-In-Law" by Ernie K-Doe hits #1
  • May 22 "Touchables In Brooklyn" by Dickie Goodman hits #42
  • May 22 1st revolving restaurant (Top Of The Needle in Seattle) opens
  • May 24 27 Freedom Riders arrested in Jackson, Mississippi
  • May 24 NASA Explorer Ionosphere research mission fails to reach Earth orbit
  • May 24 Cyprus joins the Council of Europe.

Historic Event

May 25 JFK announces US goal of putting a man on the Moon before the end of decade

  • May 26 Freedom Ride Coordinating Committee establishes in Atlanta
  • May 26 USAF bomber flies Atlantic in a record of just over 3 hours
  • May 27 1st black light is sold
  • May 27 Fiorentina of Italy win 1st European Cup Winner's Cup against Glasgow Rangers 4-2 in Florence (2nd leg)
  • May 27 Ralph Boston of US, sets then long jump record at 27' ½"
  • May 27 French Championships Men's Tennis : Manuel Santana beats Nicola Pietrangeli (4-6, 6-1, 3-6, 6-0, 6-2)
  • May 27 60th Women's French Championships: Ann Haydon beats Yola Ramirez (6-2, 6-1)

Historic Event

May 28 Amnesty International founded in London (Nobel Peace Prize 1977)

The Orient Express

May 28 Last trip (Paris to Bucharest) on the Orient Express (after 78 years)

  • May 28 Record 27 HRs hit in 7 AL games

Film Premiere

May 29 "A Raisin in the Sun", film adaptation of Lorraine Hansberry's stage play, starring the Broadway cast including Sidney Poitier, Ruby Dee, John Fiedler, and Ivan Dixon premieres

  • May 30 Dutch DC-8 crashes after takeoff at Lisbon, 62 die
  • May 30 Maris hits his 10th & 11th of 61 HRs
  • May 30 Long time Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo is assassinated in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.

Sports History

May 30 50th Indianapolis 500: A. J. Foyt takes lead with 3 laps to go to win his first of 4 Indy 500 victories by a margin of 8.28 seconds from Eddie Sachs

  • May 31 Arthur Michael Ramsey appointed the 100th Archbishop of Canterbury

Music History

May 31 Chuck Berry's amusement park, Berryland in St Louis, Missouri opens

  • May 31 Judge Irving Kaufman orders Board of Ed of New Rochelle, to integrate
  • May 31 Union of South Africa becomes a republic, leaves Commonwealth
  • May 31 European Cup Final, Wankdorf Stadium, Bern: Benfica beats Barcelona 3-2; first Portuguese team to reach final and win the tournament

Famous Birthdays

  • May 1 Charlie O'Brien, American MLB catcher (pioneered hockey style catcher's mask; World Series 1995 Atlanta Braves), born in Tulsa, Oklahoma
  • May 1 Steven Cauthen, American Hall of Fame jockey (Triple Crown 1978-Affirmed, Epsom Derby 1985, 87; Ascot Gold Cup 1984, 87), born in Covington, Kentucky
  • May 1 Marilyn Milian, current judge on The People's Court
  • May 2 Doctor Robert [Bruce Robert Howard], Scottish singer-songwriter (The Blow Monkeys - "It Doesn't Have To Be This Way"), born in Haddington, Scotland
  • May 2 Peter Doohan, Australian professional tennis player, born in Newcastle, NSW (d. 2017)
  • May 2 Phil Vickery, English celebrity chef (This Morning), born in Folkestone, Kent, England
  • May 3 Steve McClaren, English football manager, born in Fulford, York, England
  • May 3 Joe Murray, American cartoonist (Rocko's Modern Life), born in San Jose, California
  • May 3 David Vitter, American politician, U.S. House of Representatives from Louisiana (1999-2005), born in New Orleans, Louisiana
  • May 4 Eugene Daniel, American football NFL center (Indianapolis Colts, Baltimore Ravens), born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana
  • May 4 Jay Aston, English singer (Bucks Fizz), born in Purley, Surrey
  • May 4 Mary Elizabeth McDonough, American actress (Erin in The Waltons), born in Van Nuys, California
  • May 4 Luis Herrera, Colombian cyclist, born in Fusagasugá, Colombia
  • May 4 Ishita Bhaduri, Indian (Bengali) poet, born in Kolkata, India
  • May 5 Hiroshi Hase, Japanese wrestler (NJPW) and politician (Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology), born in Oyabe, Toyama, Japan
  • May 5 Mike Dunleavy, American politician, Governor of Alaska (2018-), born in Scranton, Pennsylvania
  • May 6 Clay O'Brien, American actor (Weedy-Cowboys), born in Ray, Arizona

George Clooney

May 6 George Clooney, American actor (ER, Batman, The Descendants), born in Lexington, Kentucky

  • May 6 Roma Downey, Irish actress (1 Life to Live, Touched by an Angel), born in Derry, Northern Ireland
  • May 6 Frans Timmermans, Dutch politician (First Vice President of the European Commission 2014-), born in Maastricht, Netherlands
  • May 7 Phil "Wizzö" Campbell, Welsh rock musician (Motörhead), born in Pontypridd, Wales
  • May 8 David Winning, Canadian film director
  • May 8 Akira Taue, Japanese professional wrestler
  • May 8 Bill de Blasio, American politician and NYC Mayor (2014-21), born in Manhattan, New York
  • May 9 Rene Capo, Cuban half-heavyweight judoka (Olympics 1996), born in Pinal del Rio Cuba
  • May 10 Blyth Tait, New Zealand equestrian (Olympic gold Individual eventing 1996, bronze 1992), born in Whangārei, New Zealand
  • May 10 Randy Cunneyworth, Canadian ice hockey left wing (Pittsburgh Penguins, Hartford Whalers) and coach (Atlanta Thrashers, Montreal Canadiens), born in Etobicoke, Ontario
  • May 10 Teri Copley, Arcadia California, actress (Mickey-We've Got it Made)
  • May 10 Johanna ter Steege, Dutch actress
  • May 10 Danny Carey, American drummer (Tool), born in Lawrence, Kansas
  • May 11 Cecile Licad, Filipina concert pianist (Leventritt Award, 1981), born in Manila, Philippines
  • May 11 Diana Lee[-Hsu], American actress (Licence to Kill), and model (Playboy playmate May, 1988), born in Seattle, Washington
  • May 11 David Ake, American jazz pianist (Humanities) and educator, born in New Haven, Connecticut
  • May 12 Billy Duffy, British rock musician (The Cult), born in Manchester, England
  • May 12 Lar Park Lincoln, American actress, born in Dallas, Texas
  • May 12 Bruce McCulloch, Canadian actor (The Kids in the Hall), born in Edmonton, Alberta
  • May 12 Thomas Dooley, American soccer midfielder (81 caps; FC Homburg, 1. FC Kaiserslautern), born in Bechhofen, Germany

Dennis Rodman

May 13 Dennis Rodman, American NBA forward (Chicago Bulls), born in Trenton, New Jersey

  • May 14 Tim Roth, British actor (Reservoir Dogs; Vincent & Theo; The Hateful Eight), born in Dulwich, London, England
  • May 14 Ulrike Folkerts, German actress
  • May 14 Alain Vigneault, Canadian NHL ice hockey coach, since 1997 (New York Rangers, 2013-18; Philadelphia Flyers, 2019-present; and two other teams), born in Quebec City, Quebec
  • May 15 Katrin Cartlidge, British actress (d. 2002)
  • May 15 Melle Mel [Melvin Glover], American rapper (Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five), born in The Bronx, New York
  • May 15 Nichaud Fitzgibbon, Australian jazz singer, born in Wycheproof, Australia
  • May 16 Nina Arvesen, actress (Cassandra-Young & Restless), born in White Plains, New York
  • May 16 Kevin McDonald, Canadian comedian and actor
  • May 16 Charles Wright, American professional wrestler known as "The Godfather"

Enya

May 17 Enya [Eithne Ní Bhraonáin], Irish singer and songwriter ("Orinoco Flow"; "Carribbean Blue"; "Only Time"), born in Gweedore, County Donegal, Ireland

  • May 18 Hugh Whitaker, British rock drummer (The Housemartins), born in England
  • May 19 Lisa Rathgber Wagner, bowler (3-time LPBT Player of Year, Bowler of Decade), born in Hillsboro Illinois
  • May 19 Gregory Poirier, American screenwriter and director
  • May 19 Ronan Hardiman, Irish composer (Michael Flatley soundtracks), born in Dublin, Ireland
  • May 20 Kit Clarke, Scottish rocker (Danny Wilson - "Mary's Prayer"), born in Dundee, Scotland
  • May 20 Nick Heyward, British rock guitarist and vocalist (Haircut 100 - "Favourite Shirts (Boy Meets Girl)"), born in Becjenham, Kent, England
  • May 20 Vaughn Jefferis, New Zealand equestrian rider (World C'ship gold 1994, 98; Olympic bronze 1996), born in Huntly, New Zealand
  • May 21 Tim Lever, British musician (Dead or Alive-You Spin Me Round)
  • May 22 Dana Williams, American singer (Diamond Rio-Meet in the Middle), born in Dayton, Ohio
  • May 23 Dave Babych, Edmonton, NHL defenseman (Vancouver Canucks)
  • May 23 Kevin Romine, baseball player
  • May 25 Hiro Saito, Japanese professional wrestler (All-Japan/NJPW/Calgary), born in Kawasaki, Kanagawa, Japan
  • May 26 Stephen Pate, American golfer (6 PGA Tour titles, US Open 1988, US Masters 1990 3rd), born in Ventura, California
  • May 26 Tarsem Singh, Indian film director, born in Jalandhar, India
  • May 27 Cathy Silvers, actress (Happy Days, Foley Square), born in NYC, New York
  • May 27 Jill Sterkel, US swimmer (Olympic bronze 1976, 84, 88)
  • May 27 John Lugbill, Wauseon Ohio, US canoeist/kayaker (Olympic-92)
  • May 27 Peri Gilpin, actor (Roz Doyle-Frasier), born in Waco, Texas
  • May 28 Roland Gift, British pop-rock singer (Fine Young Cannibals - "She Drives Me Crazy"), and actor, born in Sparkhill, Birmingham, England
  • May 29 David Palmer, British drummer (ABC - The Lexicon Of Love), born in Chesterfield, England

Melissa Etheridge

May 29 Melissa Etheridge, American singer-songwriter and guitarist (Never Enough), born in Leavenworth, Kansas

  • May 29 John Miceli, American rock drummer (Meat Loaf), born in Long Island, New York
  • May 30 Ella Arolovich, Leningrad USSR, model
  • May 30 Ralph Carter, American actor (Michael Evans-Good Times), born in NYC, New York
  • May 30 Harry Enfield, Horsham, West Sussex, English comedian (Dermot-Men Behaving Badly, Saturday Live)
  • May 31 Lea Thompson, actress (Back to the Future, Caroline In The City)

Famous Weddings

  • May 25 King Hussein of Jordan marries Princess Muna al-Hussein (Antoinette Gardiner).

Famous Deaths

  • May 2 J C White, English cricket spin bowler (15 Tests, 49 wickets; 10-76 Somerset v Worcestershire 1921), dies at 70
  • May 3 Maurice [Jean Jacques] Merleau-Ponty, French philosopher, dies at 53
  • May 4 Anita Stewart, American silent film actress (South of Hell Mountain), producer, and mystery novelist,, dies of heart attack at 66
  • May 6 Lucian Blaga, Romanian philosopher and poet (Transcendental censor), dies at 65

Gary Cooper

May 13 Gary Cooper, American 2 time Academy award-winning actor (High Noon), dies at 60

  • May 16 George A. Malcolm, American jurist (17th Associate Justice of the Philippine Supreme Court) and educator, dies at 79
  • May 17 Frans van Cauwelaert, Flemish minister/mayor of Antwerp, dies at 81
  • May 17 Henri Gagnon, Canadian organist (Notre-Dame Basilica (Quebec), 1915-1961), composer (Rondel de Thibaut de Champagne), and music educator, dies at 74
  • May 18 Henry O'Neill, American actor (Lady Killer, Nothing But Trouble), dies
  • May 19 Joe Howard, American vaudeville, Broadway, and television singer (Gay Nineties Revue), and songwriter ("Hello Ma Baby"), dies at 91
  • May 20 Josef "Pips" Priller, German fighter ace (b. 1915)
  • May 20 Nannie Helen Burroughs, American educator and civil rights activist (founded National Training School for Women and Girls), dies at 82
  • May 22 Joan Davis, American actress (I Married Joan), dies of heart attack at 53
  • May 29 Uuno Klami, Finnish composer (Psalmus; Kalevala Suite), dies of a heart attack while sailing at 60
  • May 30 Rafael Trujillo [Rafael Leónidas Trujillo Molina], Dominican politician, soldier and dictator of the Dominican Republic (1930-61), assassinated at 69
  • May 31 Walter Little, Canadian politician (b. 1877)