01 – French Cameroon becomes the Republic of Cameroon with Ahmadun Ahidjo as its first president.
01 – Johnny Cash performs a New Year Concert for the prisoners at San Quentin penitentiary in California. One particularly impressed inmate is a young Merle Haggard, serving time for armed robbery. The event inspires Haggard to concentrate on music instead of crime.
04 – French Nobel prize-winning existentialist writer Albert Camus, aged 46, is killed when a car in which he is a passenger veers into a tree at 80mph. Camus once remarked there would be no more meaningless way to die than in an automobile accident.
10 – In Egypt, Nasser lays the foundation stone of the Aswan High Dam.
11 – Vicky Peterson of The Bangles is born.
12 – British author Nevil Shute dies (b.1899).
14 – Khrushchev says the USSR will cut its armed forces by 1.2 million over the next two years.
15 – The FB Holden is released in Australia.
18 – Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay establish the Latin American Free Trade Association (LAFTA).
19 – USA and Japan sign a treaty of mutual cooperation and security.
19 – In Paris, De Gaulle recalls and sacks General Jacques Massu, a senior commander in Algeria, for criticising his policy there.
20 – UK Government curbs the sale of ‘pep pills’.
22 – Michael Hutchence of Australian rock group INXS is born.
23 – Swiss engineer Jacques Piccard and US Navy Lieutenant Don Walsh dive to the bottom of the Pacific Ocean’s Marianas Trench – at 35,813 feet (6.78 miles), the lowest point on Earth – aboard the bathyscaphe Trieste.
24 – In Algeria, French settlers riot in response to President de Gaulle‘s sacking of Commander Jacques Massu. A State of Siege is declared.
27 – Heat wave in Sydney, Australia, kills 13 people.
01 – At Greensboro, North Carolina (USA) four black students defy a whites-only rule and sit at a Woolworths lunch counter. The sit-in tactic spreads as the civil rights movement gathers pace.
02 – French MPs give de Gaulle emergency powers.
03 – In South Africa, British PM Harold Macmillan makes his famous “wind of change” speech in Cape Town urging South Africa to abandon its policy on apartheid.
07 – US actor – and Brat Pack member – James Spader is born in New York.
09 – A bomb explodes at the home of one of the first black students to attend Little Rock Central High School, USA.
09 – The first gold star is laid on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, by actress Joanne Woodward.
13 – An atomic bomb is exploded by France in the Sahara Desert, despite UN and US opposition. They are the fourth nation to have one.
16 – US nuclear submarine USS Triton sets off on the first underwater voyage around the world without resurfacing.
17 – Martin Luther King is arrested for perjury in connection with his state income taxes in 1956.
19 – Queen Elizabeth II gives birth to a son, Andrew Albert Christian Edward.
21 – Fidel Castro nationalises private business in Cuba.
25 – Australia agrees to make available two satellite tracking stations for US space programme.
26 – Anthony Armstrong-Jones (later Lord Snowdon) becomes engaged to Princess Margaret.
29 – A violent earthquake strikes Agadir in Morocco, killing 12,500 people.
29 – The first Playboy Club opens, in Chicago. Newsweek calls it “Disneyland for adults”.
01 – The Agadir earthquake in Morocco kills over 10,000 people.
01 – Free Medicine Scheme ends in Australia. From now on each prescription will cost five shillings, except for pensioners.
03 – Elvis Presley, on the way home from Germany after his two-year stint in the army, stops off for a couple of hours at Prestwick Airport in Scotland. It is his first and last visit to the UK. He signs autographs for the few lucky fans who were tipped off and warms himself in the mess while the plane is refuelled.
05 – Sgt Elvis Presley is discharged from the US Army.
07 – Arthur Calwell is elected new Australian Labor Party leader.
07 – Tennis player Ivan Lendl is born.
11 – Chuck Berry is sentenced to five years in prison after being convicted of transporting a 14-year-old girl from El Paso, Texas, to St Louis for “immoral purposes”. On appeal the trial is deemed unfair due to racial comments made by the judge, and a retrial is ordered.
13 – Adam Clayton of Irish rock band, U2, is born.
14 – Martial law is declared in the Belgian Congo after unrest in which 14 people die.
14 – The Silver Beats (later to find success as The Beatles) audition to play at The Latham venue in Seaforth, Liverpool.
15 – Syngman Rhee wins his fourth presidential election in South Korea. Allegations of fraud lead to Rhee’s resignation weeks later.
16 – Eisenhower advises Southern states to set up bi-racial talks to hear black grievances.
21 – At a demonstration in Sharpeville, South Africa, police open fire on unarmed protesters, killing some 70 people and injuring 180. A post-mortem reveals that 70% of the bullets had entered the victim’s backs, indicating that they were shot whilst running away. The incident leads to a hardening in world opinion against Apartheid.
21 – Capital of Brazil moves from Rio de Janeiro to Brasilia.
25 – Oliver Cromwell’s head is buried at Sydney Sussex College in Cambridge, England. His head parted company with his body in 1660.
25 – In the aftermath of the Sharpeville massacre, the South African government outlaws all non-white political organisations, including the ANC (African National Congress).
26 – ‘Merryman II’ wins the English Grand National.
30 – A state of emergency is declared in South Africa as 30,000 blacks demand the release of their leaders.
01 – First weather satellite, Tiros I, is put into space by the USA.
05 – Ben Hur wins a record ten Oscars.
07 – Blacks riot against apartheid in Durban.
09 – South African Prime Minister Hendrik Verwoerd is shot twice at point-blank range by farmer David Beresford Pratt in Johannesburg. The assassination attempt is not successful and Pratt commits suicide in his prison cell on 1 October 1961.
13 – France tests its first atomic bomb in the Sahara Desert of southern Algeria, becoming the world’s fourth nuclear power after the USA, USSR and UK.
13 – Racing driver Stirling Moss loses his drivers license for a year for dangerous driving.
18 – Discoverer XIV launches the first US spy satellite.
19 – In Korea, Rhee declares martial law as police shoot dead 30 marchers protesting against “rigged” elections.
19 – Flood of East Germans in flight to West.
21 – The newly formed Commonwealth Police force begins operation in Australia.
21 – Brasilia replaces Rio de Janeiro as capital of Brazil.
21 – Rhee’s cabinet resigns in Seoul after 115 protesters are reported killed by police.
22 – Fidel Castro accuses the USA of plotting to overthrow his newly established government.
25 – Ten blacks are shot in a Mississippi race riot after blacks gather on a segregated beach.
25 – Australian pubs and theatres are permitted to stay open on Anzac Day for the first time. Organised sport is also allowed in the afternoon.
26 – Roger Taylor of Duran Duran is born.
27 – Korean president Syngman Rhee resigns following a week of rioting and bloodshed in the streets to protest against irregularities in last months elections.
28 – Martial law is declared in Turkey following student riots in Ankara and Istanbul.
01 – An American U2 aircraft is downed inside the Soviet Union. The Russians announce they will put the pilot, Francis Gary Powers, on trial as a spy. The Americans claim that Powers must have strayed off course, and was only carrying out weather research.
02 – Convicted US rapist Caryl Chessman is executed in San Quentin prison after 12 years on death row.
04 – Leonid Brezhnev succeeds Marshall Voroshilov as Head of State in USSR.
06 – England’s Princess Margaret weds commoner, photographer Antony Armstrong-Jones in Westminster Abbey.
07 – Wolverhampton Wanderers defeat Blackburn Rovers 3-0 in British FA Cup Final.
07 – US admits that the downed U2 plane was on a spying mission.
09 – The Food and Drug Administration in Washington DC approves the contraceptive pill for use.
10 – Bono (Paul Hewson), U2 vocalist, is born.
11 – The liner France is launched at St Nazaire.
15 – The first optical laser is demonstrated by Theodore Maiman.
16 – Nikita Khrushchev cancels Paris summit meeting over U2 incident (the spyplane, not the birth of Bono!).
17 – US Democratic hopeful Hubert Humphrey gives up after campaign defeats.
18 – Real Madrid win European Cup for record fifth year after beating Eintracht Frankfurt 7 – 3.
22 – Thousands die as a 9.5 earthquake and resulting 26-foot high tidal wave hits Chile at 125mph.
23 – Adolf Eichmann, the SS officer who master-minded Hitler’s extermination of six million Jews, is in Israeli hands and will be put on trial for his life. Announcing this news to a startled Knesset , Mr Ben Gurion, the Prime Minister, described Eichmann as “one of the greatest of the Nazi war criminals”. The Israeli intelligence service, Mossad, seized Eichmann from Argentina where he had been living under an assumed identity.
24 – In Australia, the Victorian State Parliament passes a bill to legalise off-course betting for horse racing – the TAB.
27 – In Turkey, premier Adnan Menderes is ousted in a military coup.
28 – Martin Luther King is acquitted of perjury.
29 – Stirling Moss wins Monaco Grand Prix.
30 – Soviet author, Boris Leonidovich Pasternak (b.1890) dies.
30 – Melbourne (Australia) cafe owner Sam Borg is found mysteriously battered to death in his bedroom with the door nailed shut from inside.
01 – Television comes to New Zealand with AKTV Channel 2.
06 – Argentine government demand the return of Adolf Eichmann from Israel.
07 – Free hearing aids are distributed for the first time on the UK National Health Services.
07 – Prince Rogers Nelson (eventually to find fame as plain old Prince) is born in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is named after his father’s jazz band, The Prince Rogers Trio.
08 – Mick Hucknall (Simply Red) is born.
10 – In Australia, a TAA plane crashes off Mackay, Queensland, killing 29.
19 – Two British drivers, Bristow and Stacey, die in the Belgian Grand Prix. Stirling Moss is injured.
20 – John Taylor (Duran Duran) is born.
20 – Floyd Patterson delivers a merciless left hook to the head of Ingemar Johansson half way through the fifth round of their return bout, to knock the champion out and administer the first defeat in the Swede’s 23 fight career. Patterson is the first heavyweight to regain a lost world title.
22 – Eleven die in a blaze in one of Liverpool’s (UK) biggest department stores.
22 – Sino-Soviet split brought into open.
23 – The Cavern Club in Liverpool relaxes its Jazz-only policy and allows rock groups to play.
26 – British Somaliland becomes independent.
26 – Madagascar becomes independent as the Malagasy Republic.
27 – Australian rocker Johnny O’Keefe is seriously injured in a car crash near Kempsey, NSW.
29 – The BBC Television Centre at Shepherd’s Bush in London is opened.
30 – National Service military training, introduced in 1951, officially ends in Australia.
30 – The Belgian Congo becomes independent from Belgium under President Youlou.
01 – Italian Somaliland joins British Somaliland to form the new Republic of Somalia.
02 – Neale Fraser beats Rod Laver in the all-Australian men’s singles final at Wimbledon. Maria Bueno beats Sue Reynolds in the women’s final.
03 – Jack Brabham wins the French Grand Prix.
04 – The USA introduces its new official flag, with a 50th star added for the latest state in the union, Hawaii.
06 – Civil War begins in Congo. Army mutinies against the government and UN Peacekeeping forces are called in.
06 – President Eisenhower starts trade sanctions against Cuba in the hope that economic hardship will lead the Cuban people to overthrow their Communist-style government.
07 – The USSR shoots down a US aircraft over the Barents Sea.
07 – £100,000 lottery win leads to Australia’s first kidnap as 8-year-old Sydney boy, Graeme Thorne, is abducted.
08 – Soviet court finds US pilot guilty of spying.
11 – Richie Sambora (Bon Jovi) is born.
11 – Moise Tshombe, prime minister of the Congolese province of Katanga, declares independence.
12 – The Etch-A-Sketch is created by Ohio Arts – originally with the hope of being a one-off Christmas novelty. The toy has remained in production virtually unchanged ever since.
13 – US Democratic party nominates John F Kennedy for Presidency.
15 – First UN troops arrive in Congo.
21 – The solo Atlantic sailor, Francis Chichester, sails into New York in Gypsy Moth II, setting a new record of 40 days for the crossing from Plymouth, The 58 year old sailor who has had lung cancer for two years, battled against hurricane-strength winds for part of the voyage.
21 – Mrs Sirimavo Bandaranaike, widow of the assassinated Prime Minister and leader of Ceylon’s Sri Lanka Freedom Party, is sworn in as the world’s first woman Prime Minister. In the general election yesterday her party won 75 seats out of 150.
23 – CBS announces it will build a skyscraper headquarters on the Avenue of the Americas in New York, two blocks north of the RCA building, home of NBC. CBS has purchased the site, almost one acre of land, for a reported $7 million. Noted architect Eero Saarinen will design the site, to be completed by the spring of 1964.
25 – Republican Party nominates Vice President Richard M Nixon for Presidency.
30 – Tony Curtis and wife Janet Leigh purchase the Desert Skies Hotel, a Palm Springs resort hotel. Plans are to convert it and the surrounding land into a country club.
04 – A USAAF rocket-propelled research aircraft sets a world speed record for manned aircraft of 2150 mph.
07 – In Cuba, Castro nationalises all US-owned property in retaliation for “US economic aggression”.
11 – Discoverer 13 is launched by the US Air Force. It sets an altitude record of 131,000 feet and the capsule parachutes back into the sea.
12 – In Liverpool, England, drummer Pete Best joins The Silver Beetles (Beatles).
12 – NASA launches Echo 1, the first communications satellite.
14 – Jack Brabham wins the Portuguese Grand Prix to become Formula One World Champion.
16 – Cyprus becomes a republic at midnight with a 21-gun salute. Fearing riots, most Cypriots kept off the streets. British rule now ends and Archbishop Makarios becomes President.
18 – The contraceptive pill Enovid is made available in the USA (though not in the UK for another year), ushering in a new era of sexual freedom.
19 – Francis Gary Powers is sentenced to ten years in Soviet prison for espionage.
19 – Sputnik 5, a Soviet spacecraft carrying two dogs – Belka and Strelka – makes 17 orbits of the Earth before returning safely. One of Strelka’s puppies is later given to President Kennedy as a gift.
23 – Lyricist and musical theatre giant Oscar Hammerstein II dies. His last composed work was The Sound Of Music.
25 – XVIIth Olympic Games open in Rome.
25 – Cassius Clay wins the gold medal in the light heavyweight boxing class at the seventeenth Olympic Games in Rome.
29 – Jordanian Premier Hazza Majali is assassinated by a bomb.
02 – Having fled from the Chinese occupation of Tibet last year, the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, and his fellow asylum seekers set up their Tibetan parliament-in-exile in its new home of Dharamsala in the mountains of northern India.
03 – St George win the Australian Rugby League Grand Final for the third consecutive year, beating Eastern Suburbs 31-6.
08 – Penguin Books is tried for publishing D H Lawrence’s banned novel Lady Chatterley’s Lover. The publishing company were found not guilty of obscenity on 2 November.
10 – Siobhan Fahey (Bananarama) is born.
11 – Wilma Rudolph from Tennessee sprints her way to triple gold at the Rome Olympics, winning the 100 metre and 200 metre races, and forming part of a triumphant 400 metre relay team. Rudolph suffered from polio as a child and only learned to walk properly at 8 years of age.
11 – The first episode of Danger Man (starring Patrick McGoohan) is broadcast on British television.
13 – The director of public prosecution in Britain is called upon to ban all records of the American hit Tell Laura I Love Her, by Ray Peterson. The song is being denounced in Britain as likely to inspire a teenage “glorious death cult.” The song tells of a lovesick youngster who drives in a stock car race to win the hand of his sweetheart. He crashes and just before dying, groans out the words of the title.
14 – The Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) is formed by Iraq, Iran, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela.
16 – Donald Campbell survives after crashing Bluebird at 350 mph in Britain.
21 – In Australia, Melbourne win their first VFL Grand Final in six years defeating Collingwood 8.14 to 2.2.
22 – Riots break out in St Pancras in London as tenants protest against the effects of the 1957 Rent Act.
22 – Joan Jett (born Joan Larkin) is born.
25 – The first atomic-powered aircraft carrier, the USS Enterprise is launched in the USA.
25 – 16-year-old Barry White (not yet embarked on his musical career as the Walrus Of Love) is released from jail after serving three months for stealing 300 car tyres.
27 – British suffragette, Estelle Sylvia Pankhurst (b.1882) dies.
27 – Fidel Castro visits Manhattan. Refused admission by New York’s upscale hotels, Castro and his entourage eventually end up at the Hotel Theresa in Harlem.
27 – Pan American Airways announces it will lease 15 floors in a skyscraper being constructed over Grand Central Terminal in Manhattan. It is the largest single lease of office space in the city.
27 – Pontiac introduces its 1961 models. They are 4″ shorter and 2½” narrower than the 1960 model.
01 – Nigeria becomes an independent republic within the Commonwealth.
03 – Brigitte Bardot leaves hospital in Nice after recovering from a suicide attempt.
05 – Former President Harry Truman states publicly that Richard Nixon “never told the truth in his life” and that anyone who votes for Nixon “ought to go to Hell”.
06 – A referendum in South Africa favours the establishment of a republic.
11 – Thousands die as Pakistan is battered by a tidal wave and a hurricane.
11 – Japanese socialist leader Inejiro Asanuma is murdered in Tokyo by a right-wing student. The killer uses a sword and the gruesome event is recorded by the Japan Broadcasting Corporation, becoming the first televised assassination of a public figure.
12 – The 25th-anniversary meeting of the United Nations breaks up in pandemonium after Khrushchev pounds the table with his shoe before making a dramatic exit.
14 – Warragamba Dam officially opened in Sydney, Australia, by Premier Heffron.
15 – Ringo Starr, drummer with Rory Storm & The Hurricanes, deputises for Pete Best when The Beatles back Lou Walters of The Hurricanes during a recording session in Akustik Studio, Hamburg (Germany).
18 – The British newspaper News Chronicle is merged with the Daily Mail and the London evening newspaper The Star is merged with The Evening News.
18 – Soviet newspaper Pravda prints its first attack on the Chinese Communists.
19 – US imposes an embargo on shipments to Cuba.
20 – Australian immunologist Sir Frank Macfarlane Burnet wins Nobel Prize for Medicine.
21 – Queen Elizabeth II launches HMS Dreadnought, the first British nuclear submarine.
21 – The Hawker P1127 vertical take-off “jump” jet makes its first test flight.
22 – Cassius Clay has his first bout as a professional boxer, in Louisville, Kentucky.
24 – Bertrand Russell resigns as leader of CND in UK.
26 – South Vietnamese army clashes with Viet Cong guerrillas.
01 – British PM Macmillan announces a Bill to allow US nuclear submarines to use Holy Loch in Scotland.
01 – In Australia, ‘Hi Jinx’ wins the Melbourne Cup.
02 – A jury at the Old Bailey finds that the novel Lady Chatterley’s Lover by DH Lawrence is not obscene. The book had been banned in Britain for 30 years.
05 – Mack Sennett, movie producer from the silent era, dies at the age of 80, Known in his day as the King of Comedy, Sennett first introduced audiences to Charlie Chaplin and the Keystone Kops, and founded Hollywood’s Studio City.
07 – Missiles appear for the first time at the annual parade in Red Square, Moscow, USSR.
09 – After a night of uncertainty John Fitzgerald Kennedy has emerged as the new President of the United States by a narrow margin (pictured at right). He obtained only 120,000 more votes than his Republican opponent, Vice-President Nixon. At 43 JFK is the youngest to win the Presidency. He is also the first Roman Catholic.
10 – Penguin’s first run of Lady Chatterley’s Lover – 200,000 copies – sells out on the first day of publication in Britain.
16 – US actor, Clark William Gable (b. 1901) dies at his Encino home, having suffered a heart attack a few weeks ago after filming ended on The Misfits.
17 – British statesman, William Wedgwood Benn (b.1877) dies.
18 – The last National Service conscripts are called up in Britain.
18 – British singer Kim Wilde is born.
19 – The Hawker Siddeley P1127 (Kestrel) Vertical Take-off and Landing aircraft is flown for the first time.
19 – In San Francisco, Elvis Presley threatens passengers in his car with a gun, believing they have insulted him. The singer is known to be suffering mood swings, presumed to be caused by work-related stress.
19 – Stephen Bradley appears in Sydney Central Court charged with Graeme Thorne’s kidnap and murder.
26 – The New Zealand Labour party loses office after just one term. Keith Holyoake forms a National Government with a majority of 12 seats.
01 – USSR launches Sputnik 6 containing two more dogs, Pchelka and Mushka. The satellite orbits Earth for 24 hours but burns up on re-entry, destroying its passengers.
01 – Actress Sandra Dee marries singer and actor Bobby Darin in a secret ceremony in New Jersey. The marriage lasts seven years.
02 – Pope John XXIII meets the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Fisher – The first such meeting since the Anglican/Catholic split of 1534.
02 – Rick Savage of Def Leppard is born.
09 – The first episode of Coronation Street is broadcast by Granada TV.
09 – Dominick Devarti sells his pizzeria in Michigan to Thomas Monaghan, who decides to keep the trading name ‘Dominick’s’. Devarti objects so Monaghan changes it slightly to ‘Domino’s’ – a company which by 2003 will be selling over 400 million pizzas a year in over 50 countries.
16 – Beatle George Harrison is deported from Germany for working underage.
16 – Two passenger airliners collide in mid-air in a snowstorm over New York and spray debris over Brooklyn, killing 137 people, including six on the ground.
19 – The American aircraft carrier USS Constellation catches fire in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, causing 42 deaths.
20 – Richard Baer, the last commandant of Auschwitz, is arrested in West Germany.
26 – Young Barry, Robin and Maurice Gibb, later to find fame as The Bee Gees, begin two weeks of appearances in a pantomime, Jack & The Beanstalk, at the Rialto Theatre in Sydney, Australia.
27 – France explodes a third atomic device in the Sahara.