1960 Events & Facts

What Happened in 1960?


  • John F. Kennedy elected President in narrow contest over Richard Nixon
  • Soviet Union shoots down an American U-2 reconnaissance airplane over Soviet airspace and captures pilot Gary Powers, forcing U.S. to admit to aerial spying
  • Black students stage a sit-in at a lunch counter in Greensboro, NC to protest segregated seating at the establishment; the event inspires a wave of such sit-ins across the South
  • Belgian Congo wins independence
  • U.S., Britain, France and the Soviet Union conduct summit talks, but without results
  • U.S. relations with Cuba deteriorate as Castro regime seizes U.S. assets


  • U.S. launches:
    • Tiros I, first weather satellite
    • Echo I, first communications satellite (experimental)
    • Transit I-B, first navigational satellite
    • Corona, first spy satellite
  • Soviet Sputnik 5 launches two dogs into orbit and returns them safely to earth
  • U.S.-French team aboard the deep-sea vessel Trieste dives to a record 35,800 feet in the Pacific
  • First studies linking cigarette smoking with heart disease


  • World Series: Pittsburgh over New York Yankees, 4-3
  • Olympics held in Rome


  • Movies: Psycho, The Entertainer, The Apartment
  • Songs: Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini, Let’s Do the Twist, Never on Sunday, Teen Angel, Stay, Are You Lonesome Tonight
  • TV Shows: Perry Mason, Bonanza, My Three Sons, The Untouchables, Andy Griffith Show, The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis, Walt Disney Presents
  • Books: The Affair, C.P. Snow; The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner, Allan Sillitoe; To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee; Rabbit, Run, John Updike; The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, William L. Shirer
  • Pioneering rock-and-roll DJ Alan Freed arrested in national investigation of "payola" in radio industry
  • Presidential candidates Kennedy and Nixon engage in a televised debate that helps set the precedent for future TV political coverage
  • Clark Gable dies
  • Johnny Cash plays first of many free concerts behind bars


  • The number of television sets in the U.S. reaches 85 million, nearly one set for every two Americans
  • First "Teflon" non-sticking cookware goes on sale at Macy’s in New York
  • First oral contraceptives made available to the public
  • Loaf of bread costs 20 cents


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