Glimpse Into Legendary 1960s: a Decade Full of Unforgettable Moments

Glimpse Into Legendary 1960s: a Decade Full of Unforgettable Moments

Jul 06, 2020Svetlana Ugrynyuk

Although the '60s were ages ago, there's no denying that this was a decade full of unforgettable moments. From civil rights movements that changed our society forever, to birthing some of the most legendary sports and entertainment icons in history, this was arguably one of the most influential times in history. 

Sure, this might be hard to believe since many of us didn't live to see theses days first hand. Many names have since faded away and so much time has passed since - but today, we're going to show you how big a mark the 60s really made in our world.

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1960: A New Low

January 23, in the Trieste submersible, Navy Lt. Donald Walsh and Jacques Piccard descended into the Mariana Trench. This was the first and only time that humans had descended into the Challenger Deep. After Walsh and Piccard's five-hour descent, they spent about 20 minutes at the bottom. Unfortunately, no photographs were taken due to the clouds of silt stirred up.

 

1960: A Star Is Placed

It might seem impossible to imagine Hollywood without it, the first star made its appearance on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on February 9. Joanne Woodward took the honor. Over 2600 stars currently make up the Walk of Fame. 47% are in the Motion Pictures Category, 24% in Television, 17% in Music, 10% in Radio, and 2% in Live Performance.

 

1960: We'll Always Love Lucy

March 2 marks the end of the ‘I Love Lucy’ franchise, as Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz officially divorce. CBS executives were extremely nervous about casting Ball's real-life husband on the show. And no, it wasn't due to their notoriously tumultuous relationship - it was his Cuban heritage. They became the first interracial couple on American television. 

 

1960: A New Sports Icon

Muhammad Ali takes home the gold medal in light-heavyweight boxing, at the 1960 Summer Olympics. Cassius became an American hero. In total, Ali had fought in 22 professional heavyweight championship bouts. His most famous fights were in the '70s; "Fight of the Century" in New York, "Rumble in the Jungle" in Kinshasa, Zaire, and "Thrilla in Manilla" in the Philippines.

 

1960: The TV Era of Politics

On September 26, millions of viewers tuned in to watch the first-ever televised debate. 70-million television viewers preferred Kennedy, even though those who were listening on the radio believed that Vice President Richard Nixon and Senator John F. Kennedy's performances were equal.

 

1960: Stoneage Sitcom

Premiered on September 30, Fred, Wilma, Betty and Barney make their debut on ‘The Flintstones.’ Originally, the show was named 'The Flagstones.' Joe Barbera even thought about calling it 'The Gladstones,' until he realized a comic strip with the same title already existed. When the show's 1959 pilot didn't air, the name was then changed to its current title.

 

1961: Breaking a Record

New York Yankees' Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle captivate the nation in chasing the then record-60 home runs of Babe Ruth in a season. Maris hit #61 on the season’s final game. They became famously known as the "M&M Boys," as it was surprisingly rare that two teammates would perform exceptionally well in a season.

 

1961: Dream Date

Barbie's boyfriend, Ken, makes his debut on March 11, 1961. The dolls full name is Ken Carson, and was named after the son of Mattel founders, Ruth and Elliott Handles. His zodiac sign is a Pisces, and he is two years and two days younger than his girlfriend, Barbie. Fictionally, Ken is from Willows, Wisconsin.

 

1961: Pop Star

Bonwit Teller exhibits five paintings in April, by an artist who contributed to the production of their window displays. The artist? Andy Warhol. He is considered a pioneer of "Pop Art", a movement that was popular during the 1950s. It started in Britain during the mid-1950s and made its way into American later on. 

 

1961: A Future Princess

Diana Spencer is born on July 1st, in Sandringham, United Kingdom. Titled the "People's Princess" later in life, Diana was a trailblazer, style icon, activist, and one of the most influential people of the 20th century. Living the majority of her life in the spotlight, unbearable amount of media attention and scrutiny is what ultimately led to her early passing. 

 

1961: A Future President

President Barack Obama is born on August 4, in Honolulu, Hawaii. Thirty years down the road, the future president would graduate from Harvard Law School. Obama became the first and only president that was born outside the contiguous 48 states, as well as the first African American to hold the office.

 

1961: Groundbreaking Gourmet

‘Mastering The Art Of French Cooking’ is published in September, after years of hard work. The cookbook didn’t just instantly become a hit — it ended up being a bestseller for 5 years, making Julia Child a star. In 1962, she premiered her TV show - ‘The French Chef.’

 

1961: A New Favorite TV Couple

Rob and Laura Petrie won everyone over with their charm during ‘The Dick Van Dyke Show’ debut. Before casting Dick, the lead role was almost given to Johnny Carson. Veteran Producer, Sheldon Leonard, suggested that the lead character needs to be 'mainstream American'. Because of name recognition, due to success on Broadway, Van Dyke landed the role.

 

1962: Dylan Debuts

Bob Dylan releases his eponymous first album on March 19. Want to hear something unbelievable? The album took only two afternoons to record. Dylan is considered to be a legend in more than just music. He is hailed as one of the best poets of the modern era. Just take a look at his lyrics and context of his songs.

 

1962: A Single Girl's Best Friend

Helen Gurley Brown publishes ‘Sex and the Single Girl’ in May, a lifestyle guide for single, working women. It was received with plenty of positive reviews and sold two million copies in the first three weeks. The book was giving advice and encouraging women to become financially stable and independent on their own, and experience sexual relationships before marriage.

 

1962: Goodbye, Norma Jean

On August 5, millions of people are left in shock after hearing about Marilyn Monroe being found dead in her home. The beloved celebrity's death has been a controversial topic for decades, with the nature of her passing constantly debated. Accident, suicide, and murder have been all been named, with the official cause of death being listed a barbiturate overdose.

 

1962: A Tennis Record

On September 2, by winning all four prestigious major tournaments in the same year, Rod Laver becomes the third tennis player to win the "Calendar Grand Slam." The Australian tennis player became the second male player in the history of the game to win the four major singles championships; Australian, French, British, and U.S. - all in one year.

 

1962: Come Fly With Me

When the TWA Flight Center, designed by Eero Saarinen, opened this year, jet-age glamor finally arrives in New York. Saarinen, sadly, passed away from a brain tumor in 1961 and never witness his long-term project debut. Even though some portions of the structure had been destroyed, the Saarinen-designed head house was renovated and currently encircled by a replacement terminal building.

 

1962: Here's Johnny!

Groucho Marx introduces the new host of 'The Tonight Show: Johnny Carson,' on October 1st. His first guests are Joan Crawford, Rudy Vallee, and The Phoenix Singers. Carson established the standard format for television chat shows. Yes, this even includes small details such as the guest couch and the studio band, becoming the king of late-night television.

 

1962: Noteworthy Nobel Winners

John Steinbeck won the Literature Nobel Prize. Linus Pauling also won the Nobel Peace Prize due to his opposing of weapons of mass destruction, his second Nobel Prize (won in 1954). This is also the year that James Watson and Francis Crick shared with Maurice Wilkins the Nobel Prize in Physiology / Medicine for the discovery of the DNA structure.

 

1963: A New Bestseller

Ava Gardner totes Betty Friedan's groundbreaking novel, 'The Feminine Mystique.' In its first three years, it sold 3 million copies - and sparked the women's movement. It explains how in the post-World War II life in the United States, women were conforming to roles that weren't giving them fulfilment. They were expected to be wives, mothers, and housewives - and only that.

 

1963: The End of the Rock

Alcatraz is shut down on March 21 as a prison, because of high operation costs. Alcatraz was considered "escape-proof," with no confirmed prisoners escaping its premises. But that didn't stop about 36 inmates from putting the theory to the test. 23 of them were captured, six were shot to death, and two drowned. The other five were missing presumed drowned.

 

1963: Teen Scene

'Beach Party' is released on July 14, helping to launch the film genre of "beach party." In order to draw more public attention, the press used a special tactic to make moviegoers see the movie in theatres -  “Guys showing up at the theater in black leather jackets and greased-down hair will receive 50 percent off on Cokes and hamburgers.”

 

1963: An Historic Speech

Martin Luther King, Jr. stands at the Lincoln Memorial on August 28, speaking to an audience of 250,000. This is where the infamous "I Have a Dream." speech is born. Martin Luther King Jr. called for an end to racism, and the beginning for freedom and equality. The speech became one of the defining moments of the civil rights movement.

 

1963: End of an Era

In 1963, despite protests, demolition of the new Penn Station begins. "And we will probably be judged not by the monuments we build but by those we have destroyed," writes Ada Louise Huxtable in the New York Times. The ruins will inspire historic conservation legislation.

 

1963: A Nation in Mourning

On November 22, whilst his motorcade rolled through Dealey Plaza in Dallas, Texas, President John F. Kennedy is assassinated. Lee Harvey Oswald, his shooter, is killed days later on live TV by Jack Ruby. To this day, JFK remains one of the most intriguing figures in history, and according to many surveys, America's favorite president.

 

1964: A Tech Titan Is Born

Jeff Bezos is born on January 12, in Albuquerque. The Amazon CEO is now the richest person in the world. According to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, he is worth an estimated $110 billion. This makes him 20% richer than the British monarchy. In fact, his net worth is higher than the GDP of Iceland, Afghanistan, and Costa Rica - combined. Mindblowing.

 

1964: And a Future First Lady

Michelle LaVaughn Robinson is born on January 17 in Chicago, Illinois. She would go on to marry Barack Obama in 1992. Michelle's current titles include lawyer, university administrator, and writer. She was the first lady of the United States from 2009 to 2017.

 

1964: Instant Smash

The Beatles make their American debut to a crowd of screaming fans on the Ed Sullivan Show on February 9. This marks the beginning of Beatlemania. Before their first live appearance, they were unknown to the American public. By the time they arrived from England, they had already become the most hyped rock and roll band in America's History.

 

1964: Famous Fight

Cassius Clay beats Sonny Liston in a technical knockout on February 25 at the age of 22, winning the world's heavyweight championship. On March 6, Clay changed his name to Muhammad Ali as testament to his devotion to his Islamic faith.

 

1964: A Legendary Love

On March 15, Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton get married. The couple first met on the set of 'Cleopatra' in the early '60s, which marked the beginning of one of the best publicized and turbulent love stories of all time. Taylor and Burton captivated millions with their on-again, off-again love.

1964: An Incredible Expo

The New York World Fair will open in Flushing Meadows, Queens on April 21. The thrilling exhibits, cafes and pavilions that made up the show would be visited by over 51 million people. It held over 140 pavilions, 110 restaurants, for 80 nations, 24 states, and over 45 corporations. There hasn't been one in the United States since 1986.

 

1964: A Nobel Win

The Nobel Peace Prize is awarded to Martin Luther King, Jr. making him the youngest recipient of this honor. He then donates all of the prize money to civil rights causes. From 1957 to 1968, King spoke over 2,500 times and travelled over 6 million miles. 

Although he was admired and respected by many, police officials saw him as a threat to American security. Throughout his life, he went to jail 30 times, for acts of 'civil disobedience' - this includes the time he was driving at a pace of five miles per hour of the speed limit.

1965: Funny Lady

Joan Rivers debuted on February 17 at 'The Tonight Show.' She was the show's permanent guest host from 1983 to 1986. She credited to Carson for launching her career. However, the two never made contact again after Rivers left to host 'The Late Show with Joan Rivers'. Carson allegedly hung up on her when she told him she was leaving.

 

1965: Supersized Stadium

On April 9, the Astrodome, the first multi-purpose domed stadium, will open. It also gives us a new invention, called the Astroturf. The stadium was built in order to protect a whole sports area suitable for both football and baseball, seating 66,000 spectators. It was nicknamed the "Eighth Wonder of the World."

 

1965: A New Landmark

On October 28, the top of the Gateway Arch would be secured. The monument is 630-feet (192 m) in size, making it the world's tallest arch, as well as the tallest man-made monument in the Western Hemisphere. It has become a worldwide symbol of the city of St. Louis, with millions visiting the site in the last 50 years.

 

1965: Planning a Not-So-Small World

On November 15, Walt Disney officially announces his vision for Disney World. The grand opening took place in 1971, with Walt missing - passing in 1966. Although he died so long ago, Walt Disney is still considered to be one of the most influential Americans who ever lived. With his infamous characters, cartoons, and theme parks, Walt's legacy has become immortal.

 

1966: A Scandalous Novel

Jacqueline Susann's 'Valley of the Dolls' hits the # 1 spot on the bestseller list of the New York Times. The novel stayed there for 23 weeks, and was registered as the decade's most popular novel in the later half of the '60s. 

Because of its success, a film was released about the novel the following year. The movie grossed $50 million. The story focuses on three young women - Patty Duke, Sharone Tate, and Barbara Parkins - are trying to get through New York's and L.A.'s entertainment industry, only to get addicted to barbiturates (A.K.A. "dolls).

 

1966: A Rocking Year

Considered one of the greatest years in history for music. Releases included: The Beatles' Revolver; The Beach Boys' Pet Sounds; Bob Dylan's Blonde on Blonde; The Rolling Stones' Aftermath; The Kinks' Face to Face; Simon & Garfunkel's Parsley, Sage, Rosemary & Thyme and The Sounds of Silence; The Who's A Quick One; Cream's Fresh Cream; Stevie Wonder's Down to Earth.

 

1966: A Trend With Legs

This is the year that Mary Quant creates a sensation by selling mini-skirts at her hip, London boutique Bazaar. The skirt ended up becoming an extraordinary phenomenon and had a massive impact on both fashion and society as a whole. It marked the beginning of freedom of expression and the sexual liberation movement in the youth culture.

 

1966: Top Model

Twiggy is nicknamed "The Face of '66" for her leggy appearance and short crop 'do. She's considered to be the first real "supermodel," becoming a classic icon of the '60s. Her thin frame, pixie haircut, and painted lashes defined the decade's look. After reaching massive success in the modelling industry, Twiggy retired just four years later from the industry.

 

1966: Match Made

John Lennon meets Yoko Ono on November 7. The lovers met at Yoko's exhibition at the Indica art gallery in London. At the time, John was already married to his first wife, Cynthia. However, two years later, Lennon officially divorced from Cynthia, and soon after, married Yoko.

 

1967: Football's Top Game Debuts

Another thing that seems like it's been around since the beginning of time, the first Super Bowl takes place this year. The Chiefs are finally beaten by the Packers. Before being called the Super Bowl, Pete Rozelle, the NFL's commissioner during that time, was suggesting titles such as 'The Big One' and 'The Pro Bowl.'

Eventually, they decided on the 'AFL-NFL World Championship Game.' Because the name didn't create enough buzz, they needed to think of something punchier. After recalling his children's toy, Super Ball, Lamar Hunt (owner of the Kansas City Chiefs), was finally led to the idea that changed everything - the Super Bowl.

 

1967: A Big Year for Music

This was an important year for future musicians. The following legends were born this year: Kurt Cobain, Billy Corgan, Scott Weiland, Harry Connick, Jr., Dave Matthews, Layne Staley, Noel Gallagher, Liz Phair, Dave Navarro, Toni Braxton, R. Kelly, Vanilla Ice, Tim McGraw, Faith Hill, Jeff Tweedy, Nina Gordon, Dale Crover, Juliana Hatfield, John Popper, Funkmaster Flex, Serj Tankian, and more. 

 

1967: Our Favorite Monster

In an IBM commercial, Cookie Monster makes its official debut. With his legendary appetite for cookies, the Cookie Monster, along with Elmo, Oscar the Grouch, and Big Bird, is one of the creatures 'Sesame Street.' Because of the problem with childhood obesity in the United States, in 2005, the 'Sesame Street ' producers began moderating the Cookie Monster's appetite for cookies.

 

1967: Big Release

The Beatles release their Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album оn June 1. After almost losing their status as the Biggest Music Group in the World during the first few months of 1967, this album is what saved the band. It served as confirmation that The Beatles were still at the forefront of pop music innovation.

 

1967: A Pirate's Life for Me

After a productive run at the World Fair, Walt Disney's Carousel of Progress opens in Disneyland. The Pirates of the Caribbean ride opens up this same year. The ride officially became the last attraction that Walt Disney himself personally overseed the construction of.

 

1967: Mrs. Robinson

'The Graduate' premieres on December 22. It became one of the top 10 top-grossing movies of the 1960s. The film marked the beginning of the "New Hollywood" era of moviemaking. It turned Dustan Hoffman, a no-name actor, into a star, rewarded director Mike Nicholds with his first (and only) Oscar, and gave us the new slang term - "Mrs. Robinson."

 

1968: Another Icon Gone

On April 4, in a hotel in Tennessee, Martin Luther King, Jr. was killed while standing outside his balcony. He was assassinated by the 277th man on the FBI's "Most Wanted Fugitives" list. The assassin, James Earl Ray, escape from the Missouri State Penitentiary by hiding in a transporting truck. Ray positioned himself with a view straight to King's motel.

 

1968: Ahead of Its Time

'2001: A Space Odyssey' debuts on April 6. Although groundbreaking, the science fiction film, directed by Stanley Kubrick, wasn't well-received at first. However, as time has gone by, the film has aged well. It has become known as one of the most important movies in America cinema history.

 

1968: An Ivy Goes Coed

Yale reports that next year, 588 women will attend the university. Princeton followed the next year. Kingman Brewster Jr., Yale's president at the time, shook the university to its core by announcing his decision to go coed. The women who enrolled in the institution had the same effect.

 

1968: Liftoff

The first manned flight of NASA's Apollo program launches successfully into space on October 11, Apollo 7. The crew - Wally Schirra, Don Eisele, and Walter Cunningham, spent almost 11 days in space. During their trip, they orbited Earth and tested out the command module spacecraft, which was specifically designed to safely bring humans to the moon and back.

 

1968: Jackie Weds

Jacqueline Kennedy marries Greek shipping magnate, Aristotle Onassis, on October 20. Following her husband's death in 1975, Jacqueline had a career as a book editor in New York City. Throughout her lifetime, she was regarded as an international fashion icon. She passed away in 1994 of non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

 

1969: A Racing Icon

Mario Andretti wins the Indy 500 on May 31, the only victory for the famous Andretti family as a driver in the "Great American Race." He is considered one of the most successful Americans in the history of the sport and one of the only two drivers to have won races in Formula One, IndyCar, World Sportscar Championship, and NASCAR.

 

1969: Bowie's Hit

As David Bowie launches his Space Oddity single on July 11, a new era of rock is born. The single, whose lyrics tell the story of an astronaut's doomed journey into space, propelled Bowie to icon status. 'Space Oddity' was inspired by Stanley Kubrick's sensational film ('2001: A Space Oddity').

 

1969: Man on the Moon

"That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind." Neil Armstrong infamously states on July 20, as he takes the first step onto the moon. More than half a billion people around the world watched the Moon Landing. He walked a distance of about 60 meters on the moon's surface - roughly the length of 11 Asian elephants.

 

1969: A Legendary Line-Up

On August 17, The Woodstock Music Festival begins. The legendary "peace, love and rock ' n' roll" three-day festival featured artists like Richie Havens, Joan Baez, The Who, Janis Joplin, Creedence Clearwater Revival, and Jimi Hendrix. Initially, organizers of the festival believed that a maximum of 200,000 people would show up. A total of 400,000-500,000 people ended up at the event.

 

1969: A New TV Family

'The Brady Bunch' premieres on September 26 with a theme song that just gets stuck in your head. Sherwood Schwartz found inspiration in a four-line filler piece from the Los Angeles Times, about an increase in marriages that have couples with children from previous unions. This is when 'The Brady Brunch' was born.

 

1969: Elvis Tops the Charts

Elvis scores his last #1 hit on November 1 with the track, 'Suspicious Minds.' In 1977, Presley died of heart failure at the age 42. The official cause of death was related to his drug use. Elvis is regarded as one of the most influential people in music history. To this day, fans are still flocking to his home, Graceland.

 

1969: Our Favorite Street

'Sesame Street' makes its way into a generation's homes, hearts and minds when it premieres on November 10. Ever since, the show has aired in over 120 countries, and is now in its 47th season. It has become the longest-running children's television series and won 159 Emmys and numerous Grammys.

 

Feeling nostalgic yet? Taking this walk down memory lane really has us feeling goosebumps and yearning for a time we can't remember. Which of these events had the most impact on you? Share your thoughts in the comment section!