On This Day

Historical Events in 1961

Events 1 - 200 of 663

  • Jan 1 Briggs Stadium, home of baseball's Detroit Tigers is officially renamed Tigers Stadium
  • Jan 1 Largest check issued, National Bank of Chicago to Sears ($960.242 billion)
  • Jan 1 Russia introduces a new ruble worth $1.11
  • Jan 1 1st AFL Championship, Jeppesen Stadium, Houston; Houston Oilers beat Los Angeles Chargers, 24-16; QB George Blanda 3 TD passes, 3 conversions and a field goal
  • Jan 2 Hawaii's, then all time low temperature, 14°F recorded atop Haleakale
  • Jan 2 47th Rose Bowl: #6 Washington beats #1 Minnesota, 17-7
  • Jan 2 27th Sugar Bowl: #2 Mississippi beats Rice, 14-6
  • Jan 2 27th Orange Bowl: #5 Missouri beats #4 Navy, 21-14

Election of Interest

Jan 3 Adam Clayton Powell Jr. elected Chairman of US House Education and Labor Committee

  • Jan 3 US breaks diplomatic relations with Cuba
  • Jan 3 An explosion at the Nuclear Reactor Testing Station in Idaho Falls kills three operators
  • Jan 4 Longest recorded strike ends as the Danish barbers' assistants end a 33 year strike
  • Jan 7 1st NFL Playoff Bowl (runner-up bowl)-Detroit beats Cleveland 17-16
  • Jan 7 Trucial States (now UAE) issue their 1st postage stamps
  • Jan 8 Bollingen Prize for poetry awarded to Yvor Winters
  • Jan 8 The French vote for Algerian independence from French rule in the wake of seven years of guerrilla war
  • Jan 9 Twins agree on $500,000 payment to AA for Minn/St Paul territory
  • Jan 11 Racial riot at University of Georgia
  • Jan 12 "Show Girl" opens at Eugene O'Neill Theater NYC for 100 performances
  • Jan 12 UN genocide pact goes into effect
  • Jan 14 Chicago Bear Willard Dewveall becomes 1st NFLer to join AFL

NFL Pro Bowl

Jan 15 11th NFL Pro Bowl, LA Memorial Coliseum: Western Conference beats Eastern Conference, 35-31; MVPs: Johnny Unitas, Baltimore Colts, QB; Sam Huff, NY Giants, LB

  • Jan 16 "Conquering Hero" opens at ANTA Theater NYC for 8 performances
  • Jan 16 Russian espionage ring detected in Great Britain
  • Jan 17 President Dwight D. Eisenhower delivers a televised farewell address to the nation three days before leaving office, in which he warns against the accumulation of power by the "military-industrial complex".

NBA All-Star Game

Jan 17 11th NBA All-Star Game, Onondaga County Coliseum, Syracuse, NY: West beats East, 153-131; MVP: Oscar Robertson, Cincinnati Royals, PG; at 22, youngest player to receive All-Star MVP honours, 23 points & 14 assists

  • Jan 18 Zanzibar's Afro-Shirazi party wins 1 seat by a single vote & parliament by a single seat

Television Debut

Jan 19 1st episode of "Dick Van Dyke Show" is filmed

Historic Event

Jan 20 Yugoslav ex-vice-president Milovan Djilas flees

President Inaugurated

Jan 20 Democrat John F. Kennedy, the youngest elected President of the United States, is administered his oath of office at his inauguration by Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren. Robert Frost recites "Gift Outright".

  • Jan 21 Francis Poulenc's "Gloria" premieres in Boston (Boston Symphony and Chorus Pro Musica under conductor Charles Münch)
  • Jan 21 "Conquering Hero" closes at ANTA Theater NYC after 8 performances
  • Jan 21 KIFI TV channel 8 in Idaho Falls, Idaho (NBC) begins broadcasting
  • Jan 21 Portuguese rebels seize cruise ship Santa Maria
  • Jan 23 Supreme Court rules cities & states have right to censor films
  • Jan 23 Venezuela adopts constitution

Historic Event

Jan 24 Edward Albee's "American Dream" premieres in NYC

  • Jan 24 Lazard Brothers Ltd draw a check for $334,867,807.68
  • Jan 25 1st live, nationally televised presidential news conference with JFK
  • Jan 25 Military coup in El Salvador

Film Release

Jan 25 Walt Disney's animated film "101 Dalmatians", based on the novel by Dodie Smith and directed by Clyde Geronimi and Hamilton Luske is released in the US

Sports History

Jan 25 Toronto left wing Frank Mahovlich scores twice, giving him 39 for the season, and making him highest single season goal scorer in Maple Leafs' history, as Toronto beats Montreal Canadiens, 5-3

#1 in the Charts

Jan 26 "Are You Lonesome Tonight?" by Elvis Presley hits #1

  • Jan 26 1st woman personal physician to a US President - Janet G. Travell (to John F. Kennedy)
  • Jan 27 "Sing Along with Mitch" [Miller] premieres on NBC TV

Music History

Jan 27 Leontyne Price and Franco Corelli make debuts at the Metropolitan Opera in New York in "Il trovatore"; final curtain call lasts 35 minutes

  • Jan 27 Australian Championships Women's Tennis: Margaret Court retains title; repeat of previous year's final beating Jan Lehane O'Neill 6-1, 6-4

Australian Men's Tennis Open

Jan 27 Australian Championships Men's Tennis: Roy Emerson beats fellow Australian Rod Laver 1-6, 6-3, 7-5, 6-4 for his first Grand Slam title

  • Jan 28 Republic of Rwanda proclaimed
  • Jan 29 US female Figure Skating championship won by Laurence Owen
  • Jan 29 US male Figure Skating championship won by Bradley Lord
  • Jan 30 Bobby Darin is youngest performer to headline a TV special on NBC
  • Jan 30 JFK asks for an Alliance for Progress & Peace Corps
  • Jan 30 KAET TV channel 8 in Phoenix, AZ (PBS) begins broadcasting
  • Jan 30 Outstanding West Indian spin bowler Lance Gibbs takes hat-trick (Ken Mackay, Wally Grout, Frank Misson) in drawn 4th Test v Australia in Adelaide

Music Single

Jan 30 "I Fall to Pieces" single released by Patsy Cline (Billboard Song of the Year 1961)

Historic Event

Jan 31 David Ben-Gurion resigns as Prime Minister of Israel

  • Jan 31 Ham the chimpanzee is 1st primate in space (158 miles) aboard Mercury/Redstone 2
  • Jan 31 Houston voters approve bond to finance luxury domed stadium
  • Jan 31 Kanhai completes twin tons (117 & 115) v Aust at Adelaide
  • Jan 31 NATO secretary-general Paul-Henri Spaak says he'll resign
  • Jan 31 USAF launches Samos spy satellite to replace U-2 flights

Film Premiere

Jan 31 "The Misfits" premieres in NYC, final movie for both Clark Gable and Marilyn Monroe

  • Jan 31 West Indian cricket batsman Rohan Kanhai scores back-to-back centuries in the drawn 4th Test against Australia in Adelaide; follows 1st innings 117 with 115 in 2nd knock
  • Feb 1 1st full-scale test of US Minuteman ICBM is successful

Historic Event

Feb 1 British minister Enoch Powell makes medical insurance more expensive

  • Feb 1 Australian cricket tail-enders Ken Mackay (62no) and Lindsay Kline (15no) hang on for 100 minutes to earn a famous draw on the final day vs West Indies in 4th Test in Adelaide
  • Feb 2 Dutch Prince Bernhard opens new RAI building in Amsterdam
  • Feb 3 6th largest snowfall in NYC history (17.4" (44.2cm))
  • Feb 4 Sputnik 7 launches into Earth orbit; probable Venus probe failure

Historic Event

Feb 4 "Angolan War of Independence" begins

  • Feb 6 "Jail, No Bail" Jail-in movement starts in Rock Hill, South Carolina
  • Feb 6 KOAP TV channel 10 in Portland, OR (PBS) begins broadcasting

Film & TV History

Feb 7 Jane Fonda made her acting debut in the NBC drama "A String of Beads"

  • Feb 9 Joseph Ileo appointed Premier of Congo
  • Feb 9 The Beatles first gig at Liverpool's Cavern Club; they would play there nearly 300 times over the next two years
  • Feb 10 AFL's LA Chargers move to San Diego
  • Feb 10 Niagara Falls hydroelectric project begins producing power

Music Premiere

Feb 10 Walter Piston's 7th Symphony, commissioned by the Philadelphia Orchestra premieres under direction of Eugene Ormandy; wins 1961 Pulitzer Prize

  • Feb 11 Robert Weaver sworn in as Administrator of the Housing and Home Finance Agency, the 1st African American to be appointed to a US cabinet-level position

Sports History

Feb 12 Boston Celtic Bill Russell grabs 40 rebounds to beat Warriors 136-125

  • Feb 12 Pakistani cricketer Mushtaq Mohammad scores his 1st test cricket century for Pakistan at 17 years of age
  • Feb 12 USSR launches Venera 1 toward Venus

Music Recording

Feb 13 Frank Sinatra launches Reprise label under Warner Bros Records

  • Feb 13 Soviet Union fires a rocket from Sputnik V to Venus
  • Feb 14 Element 103, Lawrencium, 1st produced in Berkeley Calif
  • Feb 15 Australia beat West Indies 2-1 in one of best Test Cricket series ever
  • Feb 15 Plane crash kills entire US figure skating team outside Brussels airport in Belgium enroute to World Championships in Prague from NYC; 73 crew and passengers (including 34 American skaters, coaches, officials, and other team members), and a farmer on the ground are lost
  • Feb 16 1st all-solid-propellant rocket put in orbit, Wallops Island, Virginia
  • Feb 16 China uses its 1st nuclear reactor
  • Feb 16 NASA Explorer 9 mission launches satellite for the 1st time from Wallops Flight Facility, Wallops Island, Virginia; this was also the 1st all-solid-propellant rocket put into orbit
  • Feb 18 Henk van der Grift becomes world champion skater
  • Feb 19 Albania disavows Chinese "Revisionism"
  • Feb 19 Henk van der Grift (Neth) becomes world champ all-round skater
  • Feb 21 Friedrich Durrenmatt's "Die Physiker" premieres in Zurich
  • Feb 21 Gabon adopts constitution
  • Feb 21 Mercury-Atlas 2 reentry Test reaches 172 km
  • Feb 24 NASA Explorer S-45 mission; ionosphere beacon satellite fails to reach Earth orbit
  • Feb 25 Niagara ends St Bonaventura's 99-game home basketball win streak
  • Feb 25 Paul Bikle in glider climbs from 1208 m at release to record 14,10
  • Feb 26 3rd Daytona 500: Marvin Panch wins in a 1960 Pontiac owned by Smokey Yunick when race leader Fireball Roberts' car suffered a blown engine with 13 laps remaining
  • Feb 27 The first congress of the Spanish Trade Union Organisation is inaugurated
  • Mar 1 Cellist Jacqueline du Prés debut in Wigmore Hall
  • Mar 1 US President JFK establishes the Peace Corps
  • Mar 2 Eaton Magoon's musical "13 Daughters", starring Don Ameche and Sylvia Syms, opens at 54th St Theater, NYC; runs for 28 performances
  • Mar 3 King Hassan II ascends to throne of Morocco
  • Mar 4 Paul-Henri Spaak resigns as Secretary-General of NATO
  • Mar 4 8th ACC Men's Basketball Tournament: Wake Forest beats Duke, 96-81
  • Mar 6 1st London minicabs introduced
  • Mar 6 Dutch Queen Juliana celebrates 12½ year jubilee
  • Mar 6 Dutch guilder revalued 4.74%
  • Mar 8 Jean Kerr's "Mary, Mary" premieres in NYC

Historic Event

Mar 8 US nuclear submarine Patrick Henry arrives at Scottish naval base of Holy Loch from South Carolina in a record underseas journey of 66 days 22 hrs

Space Dog Laika Launched to her Death

Mar 9 Soviet flight Sputnik 9 carries and returns from orbit a dog named Chernushka (Blackie), frogs and a guinea pig

  • Mar 9 Mine cave-in in Japan, kills 72

Music Single

Mar 9 The Supremes release singles "I Want A Guy" and "Never Again"

Sports History

Mar 9 Philadelphia Warriors center Wilt Chamberlain scores 67 points in 135-126 win over NY Knicks at Philadelphia Civic Center

  • Mar 11 Then NHL record 40 penalties, Black Hawks & Maple Leafs (20 each)
  • Mar 13 Elizabeth Gurley Finn (70) becomes President of US Communist Party

Boxing Title Fight

Mar 13 Floyd Patterson KOs Ingemar Johansson in 6 for heavyweight boxing title

  • Mar 13 JFK sets up the Alliance for Progress
  • Mar 13 Landslide in USSR, kills 145
  • Mar 13 Old type, black & white notes cease to be legal tender
  • Mar 14 Former New York Yankees general manager George Weiss becomes first President of New York Mets after MLB expansion franchise formed
  • Mar 15 South Africa withdraws from British Commonwealth
  • Mar 17 NY DA arrests professional gamblers who implicate Seton Hall players
  • Mar 17 South Africa leaves British Commonwealth

Historic Event

Mar 17 Jaguar head William Lyons debuts the first E-Type model at the Geneva International Motor Show, creating a sensation

  • Mar 18 6th Eurovision Song Contest: Jean-Claude Pascal for Luxembourg wins "Nous les amoureux" in Cannes
  • Mar 21 Art Modell purchases Cleveland Browns for then record sum ($3,925,000)
  • Mar 21 The Beatles' first appearance at the Cavern Club in Liverpool
  • Mar 24 NY Senate approves $55M for a baseball stadium at Flushing Meadows
  • Mar 25 "13 Daughters" closes at 54th St Theater, NYC, after 28 performances
  • Mar 25 "Gypsy" closes at Broadway Theater NYC after 702 performances

Sports History

Mar 25 23rd NCAA Men's Basketball Championship: Cincinnati beats Ohio State, 70-65 (OT); Buckeyes' future Hall of Fame forward Jerry Lucas is MOP for 2nd straight year

  • Mar 25 Elvis Presley performs live on the USS Arizona
  • Mar 25 Explorer 10 launched into elongated Earth orbit (177/181,000 km)
  • Mar 25 Sputnik 10 carries a dog into Earth orbit; later recovered
  • Mar 25 3rd place game is one of the wildest contests in NCAA Tournament history as St Joseph's defeats Utah, 127-120 in quadruple overtime
  • Mar 25 115th Grand National: Bobby Beasley wins aboard Nicolaus Silver, 5 lengths ahead of defending champion Merryman II; first grey winner for 90 years
  • Mar 27 Black demonstrators in Charleston staged ride-ins on street cars
  • Mar 27 Failed assassination attempt on King Saif al-Islam Achmad of Yemen
  • Mar 29 23rd Amendment to the US Constitution ratified, allowing Washington, D.C. residents to vote in presidential elections

Historic Event

Mar 29 After a 4½ year trial Nelson Mandela is acquitted of treason in Pretoria

  • Mar 29 KCPT TV channel 19 in Kansas City, MO (PBS) begins broadcasting

Appointment of Interest

Mar 29 Economist John Kenneth Galbraith is appointed US Ambassador to India

Historic Event

Mar 30 NASA civilian pilot Joseph A. Walker takes X-15 169,600' (51,690 m)

  • Mar 30 The Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs is signed at New York
  • Mar 31 Aklilou Habtewold becomes 1st premier of Ethiopia
  • Mar 31 8th National Film Awards (India): "Anuradha" wins the Golden Lotus
  • Apr 3 Jacques Offenbach and Yip Harburg's musical "The Happiest Girl in the World", starring Cyril Ritchard and Justine Rule, opens at Martin Beck Theatre, NYC; runs for 97 performances
  • Apr 3 Connie Mack Stadium in Philadelphia is sold to J Schleifer Properties
  • Apr 5 Dutch governor Platteel installs New Guinea Council
  • Apr 8 "Show Girl" closes at Eugene O'Neill Theater NYC after 100 performances
  • Apr 8 British liner "Dara" explodes in Persian Gulf, kills 236

US Masters Golf

Apr 10 25th US Masters Tournament, Augusta National GC: South African Gary Player beats defending champion Arnold Palmer and amateur Charles Coe by 1 stroke to become first international champion; Monday finish because of rain

  • Apr 10 Dutch foreign minister Luns talks to JFK about New Guinea
  • Apr 10 Washington Senators play first game in franchise history with President John F. Kennedy in attendance; lose a 4-3 decision to the Chicago White Sox

Music History

Apr 11 Bob Dylan makes his 1st appearance at Folk City, Greenwich Village, New York City

  • Apr 11 15th NBA Championship: Bos Celtics beat St Louis Hawks, 4 games to 1
  • Apr 11 Austrian 4th & last government of Raab resigns

Grammy Awards

Apr 12 3rd Grammy Awards: Theme From a Summer Place, Ray Charles wins 4

Sports History

Apr 12 Douglas MacArthur declines offer to become baseball commissioner

Historic Event

Apr 12 Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin becomes the first person to orbit Earth (Vostok 1)

  • Apr 13 "Carnival!" opens at Imperial Theater NYC for 719 performances
  • Apr 13 UN General Assembly condemns South-Africa's apartheid
  • Apr 14 1st live television broadcast from Soviet Union
  • Apr 14 Cuban-American invasion army departs Nicaragua
  • Apr 14 US element 103 (Lawrencium) discovered
  • Apr 15 Meredith Willson's musical "The Music Man", starring Robert Preston and Barbara Cook, closes at Majestic Theater, NYC. after 1375 performances, 5 Tony Awards, and a Grammy
  • Apr 15 France wins it’s 2nd outright Five Nations Rugby Championship with an 15-3 victory over Ireland at Lansdowne Road, Dublin
  • Apr 16 15th Tony Awards: Becket & Bye Bye Birdie win
  • Apr 16 Stanley Cup Final, Olympia Stadium, Detroit, MI: Chicago Blackhawks beat Detroit Red Wings, 4-1 for a 4-2 series victory

Historic Event

Apr 17 1,400 Cuban exiles land in Bay of Pigs in a doomed attempt to overthrow Fidel Castro

Academy Awards

Apr 17 33rd Academy Awards: "Apartment" wins best film, Burt Lancaster & Elizabeth Taylor win best actor, actress

  • Apr 17 65th Boston Marathon won by Eino Oksanen of Finland in 2:23:39; his 2nd event title

Film & TV History

Apr 17 Jimmy Stewart accepts an honorary Oscar on behalf of his friend Gary Cooper, who is too ill to attend

  • Apr 18 CONCP is founded in Casablanca as a united front of African movements opposing Portuguese colonial rule
  • Apr 20 American Harold Graham makes 1st rocket belt flight
  • Apr 21 Dirk Stikker chosen as secretary general of NATO
  • Apr 21 French army revolts in Algeria
  • Apr 21 USAF Maj Robert M White takes X-15 to 32,000 m
  • Apr 22 Uprising of French parachutist of General Salan and Challe in Algeria
  • Apr 23 Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick's musical comedy "Tenderloin" closes at 46th St Theater, NYC, after 216 performances
  • Apr 23 Algiers putsch by French generals

Music History

Apr 23 Singer Judy Garland appears in concert at Carnegie Hall, NYC; event is recorded for a double live album, wins Grammy Award for Album of the Year (the first such win by a female artist)

  • Apr 24 JFK accepts "sole responsibility" following Bay of Pigs

The Sinking of the Vasa

Apr 24 17th century Swedish warship Vasa, which sunk on her maiden voyage in 1628, is salvaged

Historic Event

Apr 25 Belgium government of Gaston Eyskens falls over the Unitary Law

  • Apr 25 "Young Abe Lincoln" opens at Eugene O'Neill Theater NYC for 27 performances
  • Apr 25 France performs nuclear test at Reggane Proving Grounds Algeria
  • Apr 25 Mercury/Atlas rocket lifted off with an electronic mannequin
  • Apr 25 Premier Moise Tsjombe of Katanga arrested in Congo
  • Apr 25 Robert Noyce patents integrated circuit