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1961 Events & Facts

MAJOR EVENTS:

  • Outgoing President Eisenhower issues warning of a "military industrial complex" developing in America
  • President Kennedy establishes Peace Corps
  • Cuban exiles fail in their bid to invade Cuba through the Bay of Pigs; President Kennedy accepts responsibility
  • Soviets build wall dividing East and West Berlin
  • Nazi leader Adolf Eichmann tried in Israel, found guilty
  • "Freedom Riders" travel throughout the South to test and promote integration measures; many are assaulted and beaten

SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY:

  • Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin becomes first human in space during a single-orbit flight
  • Commander Alan Shephard Jr. becomes first American in space in a suborbital flight aboard Mercury 3; Virgil Grissom follows in similar fashion two months later
  • Soviet space probe Venera 1 becomes the first man-made vehicle to reach another planet when it arrives at Venus
  • First lasers developed
  • Anthropologists Louis and Mary Leakey discover Homo habilis in the Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania

SPORTS:

  • World Series: New York Yankees over Cincinnati, 4-1
  • Ty Cobb dies

ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT:

  • Movies: West Side Story, The Hustler, Judgment at Nuremburg
  • Songs: Moon River, Where the Boys Are, Will You Love Me Tomorrow, Blue Moon, The Lion Sleeps Tonight
  • TV Shows: Bullwinkle, Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color, Hazel, Dick Van Dyke Show, Top Cat
  • Books: Stranger in a Strange Land, Robert Heinlein; Catch-22, Joseph Heller; The Carpetbaggers, Harold Robbins; The Making of the President: 1960, Theodore White; The Agony and the Ecstasy, Irving Stone; The Winter of Our Discontent, John Steinbeck
  • Henry Miller’s 1934 novel Tropic of Cancer published legally in the U.S. for the first time
  • Ernest Hemmingway dies of a self-inflicted gunshot wound
  • Gary Cooper dies

EVERYDAY LIFE:

  • Electric toothbrushes introduced
  • "Frito" corn chips appear

FUN FACTS:

  • "Barbie" gets a boyfriend when the "Ken" doll is introduced

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