The '60s at 50


Monday, April 20, 1964: 'I am prepared to die'

Charged with sabotage and conspiring to overthrow the South African government, Nelson Mandela makes a statement to the court as the defense begins its case in what is known as the Rivonia Trial. He concludes by saying:

During my lifetime I have dedicated my life to this struggle of the African people. I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons will live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an idea for which I hope to live for and to see realized. But, My Lord, if it needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.

-- Image from Australian Broadcasting Commission. Caption: "These are the five points Nelson Mandela jotted down in preparation for his statement ... 1. Statement from the dock 2. I meant everything I said. 3. The blood of many patriots in this country have been shed for demanding treatment in conformity with civilized standards. 4. That army is beginning to grow. 5. If I must die, let me declare for all to know that I will meet my fate like a man."
* Text of speech (Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory): @
* "Rescuing the Rivonia Trial recordings" (British Library; includes sound clips): @
* Trial summary (The Guardian): @
* Trial summary (South African History Online): @
* "The Rivonia Trial Fifty Years Later" (South African History Online): @
* "The Nelson Mandela (Rivonia) Trial" (Douglas Linder, University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law): @
* "The State vs. Nelson Mandela" (Joel Joffe, 2007): @
* "Saving Nelson Mandela: The Rivonia Trial and the Fate of South Africa" (Kenneth S. Broun, 2012): @ 


Monday, April 20, 1964: Picturephone

NEW YORK -- See-as-you-talk telephone service was demonstrated yesterday between the Bell Telphone System's world's fair building and Disneyland, Calif.
     The first transatlantic call on what American Telephone and Telegraph Co. has named the "picturephone" was made by William L. Laurence, science consultant for the fair, to Donald Shaffer, managing editor of the Anaheim, Calif., Bulletin.
     Later hostesses at the fair and Disneyland were introduced via picturephone and chatted with each other. Both video and sound came through clearly.
     The system will be demonstrated during the fair with calls going between eight sets at the fair and three at Disneyland.
-- Story from Associated Press, April 21 (story: @)
-- Photos from AT&T Archives and History Center

* "Video Telephony: An idea whose time may have finally come" (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, 2014): @
* "Bell Labs PicturePhone" (MuseumLeap, 2014): @
* "A Brief History of the Videophone That Almost Was" (Paleofuture, 2013): @
* "Picturephone Dials Up First Transcontinental Video Call" (Wired, 2012): @
* "These Videophone Concepts Are Cooler Than Your iPhone's Facetime" (io9, 2013): @
* "Western Electric Products -- Picturephone" (Porticus Centre, Beatrice Co.): @
* "Now ... see and be seen by PICTUREPHONE!" (1964 advertisement): @
* "seeing by telephone ... the PICTUREPHONE story" (Bell System brochure, June 1964): @
* "Lady Bird Johnson Using Picturephone Service" (National Archives photo; June 24, 1964): @
* "Amazing New Picturephone" (Popular Science, June 1968): @
* Record magazine, Bell Laboratories, May/June 1969: @
* "Talking of Tomorrow" (video, AT&T Tech Channel, 1962): @
* "A Ballad for the Fair" (video, AT&T Tech Channel, 1964): @
* "Debut of the Picturephone" (video, AT&T Tech Channel, 1970): @ 


Friday, April 17, 1964: Ford Mustang

The gleaming red hood stretching back to the distant windshield is the business end of a new U.S.-built sports car. But unlike most other sports cars, this one -- a Ford subspecies called the Mustang, which goes on sale this week -- is not offered as a rich man's toy. The manufacturers produced it on the theory that a lot of people who would like to own a sports car hold back because of the generally prohibitive cost of most models. In its basic model with stick shift and standard 6-cylinder engine -- but without frills -- the Mustang is made to sell for $2,368 (F.O.B. Detroit), which puts it in the price range of sporty compacts. There are, of course, lots of optional doo-dads that can run up the price. With the addition of a hotter engine and other equipment, the Mustang can be turned into a racer. An an electrical device can be installed to allow the optional girl, who fits naturally into a sports car, to put the top down with a languid finger.
-- From "Sports Car for the Masses" (Life magazine, April 17; story: @)
-- Photo of Mustang on display at New York World's Fair; from FordOnline

* "Today in History: 1964 Ford Mustang Debuts" (from @
* "Ford Mustang Introduced by Lee Iacocca at the 1964 World's Fair" (from FordOnline): @
* Text of Iacocca's speech (April 13): @
* Commercial (shown before debut): @
* Press kit: @
* "Ford Galloping Out a Mustang" (Miami News, April 13): @
* "New Mustang Looks Like Lot Of Car" (Pittsburgh Press, April 13): @
* "The Mustang" (Ford video on early stages of car's development): @
* Videos of first Mustang sold (April 15): @ and @
* Mustang YouTube channel: @
* "1964 1/2 Ford Mustang" (Car and Driver magazine, May 1964): @
* Happy 50th, Ford Mustang!" (Hot Rod magazine, 2014): @
* "The Ford Mustang Wasn't The First Pony Car" (Automobile magazine, 2013): @
* Mustang: Fifty Years: Celebrating America's Only True Pony Car" (Donald Farr, 2013): @
* "Mustang 1964 1/2 -- 1973" (Mike Mueller, 2000): @ 


Friday, April 10, 1964: Polo Grounds

A massive steel ball crashed against the grandstand wall of the Polo Grounds Friday with a thud -- unlike the sharp crack of a bat on a ball. The thud started the demolishing of the old diamond home of such greats as John J. McGraw, Christy Mathewson, Carl Hubbell, Mel Ott and Willie Mays to make way for 30-story apartment buildings.
     -- "Historic Polo Grounds Comes Tumbling Down in New York" (Associated Press; full story: @)
     -- Top photo from; bottom photo from ESPN

* "Wrecker's Ball Tolls Knell at Polo Grounds" (Associated Press): @
* History of ballpark (Society for American Baseball Research): @
* Entry from @
* Entry from @
* Entry from @
* "Classic Shots of the Polo Grounds" (Sports Illustrated): @
* "Polo Grounds, and Its Former Tenants, Emerge From the Shadows" (New York Times, January 2011): @
* "Land of the Giants: New York's Polo Grounds" (Stew Thornley, 2000): @ 


Saturday, April 4, 1964: Beatles on Billboard charts

The band holds the top five positions on Billboard magazine's Hot 100 singles chart for the week ending April 4. Altogether, 12 Beatles songs are in the Hot 100. (The following week, 14 songs would make the list.)
* April 4 Hot 100: @
* April 11 Hot 100: @
* Entry from @
* Entry from The Beatles Bible: @
* "Chart Crawls With Beatles" (Billboard, April 4; note that the article says, "In Canada, the Beatles hold the first nine chart positions."): @ 


Friday, April 3, 1964: Holograms

Emmett Leith and Juris Upatneiks published several papers on holography (a technique for making three-dimensional, viewable images) between 1961 and 1964. However, it wasn't until they showed a toy-train hologram to hundreds of attendees waiting in line at the April 1964 Optical Society of America meeting that the scientific community got excited over holography's potential.
-- From Center for Innovation Management Studies, North Carolina State University (link: @)
-- Image from MIT Museum (more images: @)

* "Wavefront Reconstruction with Diffused Illumination and Three-Dimensional Objects" (Leith and Upatneiks, Journal of the Optical Society of America, November 1964): @

* "How Holography Took a Giant Step Forward at the College of Engineering at the University of Michigan" (reprint from @

* Oral history with Leith (from American Institute of Physics): @
* Leith obituary (New York Times, 2006): @
* Hologram entry from "The Grove Encyclopedia of Materials and Techniques in Art" (2008): @
* "Holographic Visions: A History of New Science" (Sean Johnston, 2006): @ 


April 1964: MAD magazine Fold-In

Created by cartoonist Al Jaffee, the first Fold-In -- about the scandalous romance between Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton -- appears in MAD magazine.

Note: Special thanks to Doug Gilford ( for providing these images.

* Fold-In number 2 (June 1964): @
* Fold-In number 3 (July 1964): @
* "Fold-Ins, Past and Present" (New York Times, October 2010): @
* "The MAD Fold-In Collection: 1964-2010": @
* "Al Jaffee's Iconic Mad Fold-Ins" (Brain Pickings, August 2011): @
* "Al Jaffee's MAD Life" (Mary-Lou Weisman and Jaffee, 2010): @
* "Interview: Al Jaffee" (Boston Phoenix, November 2010): @
* "Cartoonist Al Jaffee Reveals the One Fold-In MAD magazine wouldn't run" (Yahoo/ABC): @ 


Wednesday, April 1, 1964: Plymouth Barracuda

Previewed for the press on April 1, the Plymouth Barracuda makes its public debut on April 4 at the International Auto Show in New York. Though touted as a rival to the Ford Mustang (which would be introduced two weeks later), Barracuda sales in 1964 were less than one-tenth that of the Mustang.
* "New Model Cars Pop Out Like Buds of Spring" (Associated Press, April 2, 1964): @
* "Family Car Taking on Sporty Look" (New York Herald Tribune, April 4): @
* Advertisement (Life magazine, May 15): @
* Brochure (from The Old Car Manual Project): @
* Entry from "The Complete Book of Dodge and Plymouth Muscle" (Mike Mueller, 2009): @
* "Happy 50th Birthday, Plymouth Barracuda" (from Hemmings Daily): @
* Entries from @ and @
* "Fish Story: The Plymouth Barracuda" (from Ate Up With Motor): @ 


Monday, March 30, 1964: 'Jeopardy!'

Premiering in 1964 in a daytime slot on NBC, "Jeopardy!" was one of the first quiz shows to reintroduce factual knowledge, including knowledge of sports and entertainment trivia as well as the arts, literature, and science, as the main source of questions. Seemingly reversing the logic of the big money quiz shows of the 1950s (e.g., "The 64,000 Question," "Twenty-One"), producer Merv Griffin introduced a format in which the answers for questions are revealed and the contestants must phrase their response in the form of a question.
-- From "Encyclopedia of Television" (2013; link: @)

* "Fleming Hosts Show; Rewards For Questions That Fit Answers" (March 27, 1964): @
* "How Merv Griffin Came Up With That Weird Question/Answer Format For 'Jeopardy!' (Smithsonian magazine, March 2014): @
* "Rules of the Game: Quiz Shows and American Culture" (Olaf Hoerschelmann, 2006): @
* " 'Jeopardy!' and Philosophy: What is Knowledge in the Form of a Question?" (Shaun P. Young, 2012): @ 


Saturday, March 28, 1964: Radio Caroline

The brainchild of Ronan O'Rahilly, the first of the UK pirate radio stations of the 1960s, and extremely important in the development of UK postwar radio. Radio Caroline, "your all-day music station" for younger listeners, first broadcast from a ship moored off the coast of Felixstowe, Suffolk. By playing what the British Broadcasting Corporation did not, the station shaped the music radio revolution that led to the creation of BBC's Radio 1 and ultimately, the launch of commercial radio in the UK in 1973. 
-- From "The A to Z of British Radio" (Sean Street, 2009): @
-- Photo from (link: @)

* "Pirate Radio Stations" entry from "Encyclopedia of Radio" (2004): @
* Excerpt from "Working Class Heroes: Rock Music and British Society in the 1960s and 1970s" (David Simonelli, 2013): @
* "British Pirate Radio" entry from "Pop Song Piracy: Disobedient Music Distribution Since 1929" (Berry Kernfeld, 2011): @
* History (from Offshore Echos): @
* Website of Radio Caroline: @
* Website of Ray Clark (Radio Caroline disc jockey): @
* "I Love Caroline on 199" (1965 documentary by Paul O'Dell): @
* "The Radio Caroline Story" (1965 documentary by Paul Kramer): @
* How a radio ship and 7 men shook up Britain in 1964" (from Flashes & Flames): @
* Horizon magazine: @
* The Pirate Radio Hall of Fame: @
* 1964 survey on Radio Caroline audience (from The National Archives): @
* "Selling the Sixties: The Pirates and Pop Music Radio" (Robert Chapman, 1992): @
* "The Ship That Rocked the World" (Tom Lodge, 2010): @
* "Death of a Pirate: British Radio and the Making of the Information Age" (Adrian Johns, 2011): @ 


Friday, March 27, 1964: Alaska earthquake

A devastating earthquake spread death and destruction through half a dozen Alaska cities Friday night. The shock set up tidal waves which swept down the west coast of the continent, doing heavy damage and taking more lives. The death toll could reach into the hundreds. There was no way to assess the number of dead and injured immediately.
-- Associated Press (link to Vancouver Sun, March 28: @)

-- Photo from U.S. Army. Caption: "Collapse of Fourth Avenue near C Street in Anchorage due to a landslide caused by the earthquake. Before the shock, the sidewalk on the left, which is in the graben, was at street level on the right. The graben subsided 11 feet in response to 14 feet of horizontal movement."

Note: The earthquake, which measured 9.2 on the Richter scale, killed 131 people -- 116 in Alaska and 15 in Oregon and California (according to the Alaska Earthquake Information Center, linked below).

* Vancouver Sun, March 30: @
* "Great Alaska Earthquake of 1964" (University of Alaska Anchorage): @
* "The Great Alaska Earthquake and Tsunami of March 27, 1964" (U.S. Geological Survey): @
* "Historic Reports Reissued for Great Alaska Quake 50th Anniversary" (USGS): @
* "50th Anniversary of the 1964 Earthquake" (Alaska Department of Military and Veterans Affairs): @
* "The Great Alaska Earthquake of 1964" (Alaska Earthquake Information Center): @
* "Great Alaskan Earthquake and Tsunami: Alaska, March 1964" (Popular Mechanics, 2007): @
* "Benchmarks -- March 27, 1964: The Good Friday Alaska Earthquake and Tsunamis" (EARTH magazine, 2014): @
* Anchorage Museum exhibit: @
* Photos, USGS: @
* Photos, Alaska Department of Military and Veterans Affairs: @
* Footage (Alaska Film Archives): @
* Video (USGS): @ 


Thursday, March 26, 1964: Floyd James Thompson

An Air Force observation plane flown by Captain Richard L. Whitesides and by U.S. Army Special Forces co-pilot Captain Floyd J. Thompson is downed by small arms fire. Thompson, the longest held prisoner of war in American history, would not be released until 16 March 1973. 
-- From Vietnam War Commemoration (U.S. Department of Defense; link: @)
-- Photo from POW Network (link: @)

* Summary (from Task Force Omega): @
* Summary (from Veteran Tributes): @
* "Glory Denied: The Vietnam Saga of Jim Thompson, America's Longest-Held Prisoner of War" (Tom Philpott, 2001): @
* C-SPAN interview with Philpott (August 2001): @
* Obituary/tribute (Philpott, 2002; entered into Congressional Record): @
* Obituary (from New York Times, July 2002): @
* Obituary (from Los Angeles Times): @ 


March-April, 1964: Malcolm X

Sunday, March 8
Malcolm X, outspoken Black Muslim advocate of racial separation, has defected from the parent organization to form his own mosque to promote "active self-defense against white separatists in all part of the country."
     -- Associated Press, March 9 (link to story: @)
* "Malcolm X Tells Of Breaks With Clay" (Chicago Daily News Service, March 22): @
* Excerpt from "History of American Political Thought" (2003): @
* Excerpt from "Malcolm X: The FBI File" (Clayborn Carson, 2012): @

Thursday, March 26
Malcolm and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. meet for the first and only time. Both men were in Washington to hear debate on civil rights legislation.
-- Photo by Marion S. Trikosko, U.S. News & World Report; from Library of Congress collection
* Excerpt from "Malcolm & Martin & America: A Dream or a Nightmare" (James H. Cone, 1991): @
* "The Unfinished Dialogue of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X" (Clayborn Carson, 2005): @
* "Negro Plans New Form of Protests" (Associated Press, March 26): @
* Earlier post on "The Negro and the American Promise" (June 24, 1963): @

Friday, April 3 and Sunday, April 12
Gives "The Ballot or the Bullet" speeches in Cleveland and Detroit.
     Many took from the speech only the message of violence; he had recently promoted the formation of "rifle clubs: and reiterated that blacks were constitutionally within their rights to defend themselves and their property if the goverment failed to do so. However, what had changed dramatically from years past and the rhetoric of the Nation of Islam was the possibility for reform through voting.
     --- From "The Portable Malcolm X Reader" (Manning Marable and Garrett Felber, 2013): @
* Transcript of April 3 speech (from @
* Transcript of April 12 speech (from "Say It Loud! Great Speeches on Civil Rights and African American Identity" (2013): @
* Audio of April 12 speech: @
* "Use Bullets To Get Ballot, Malcolm X Tells Negroes" (Associated Press, March 22): @
* Earlier post on "Message to the Grass Roots" (November 10, 1963): @ 


Friday, March 13, 1964: Kitty Genovese

On March 13, 1964, a 28-year-old woman named Catherine "Kitty" Genovese was raped and killed in two separate late-night attacks near her home in Kew Gardens, Queens. Police found that at least 38 people had seen the attacks or heard Genovese scream, but no one intervened and just one woman called the police.
     The story was barely reported until two weeks later, when Martin Gansberg covered it in vivid detail in The New York Times ... Gansberg detailed why some of the witnesses hadn't acted. One said that he "didn't want to get involved," while another said, "without emotion," according to Gansberg, "I was tired. I went back to bed."
     The article ignited outrage against the 38 residents. Pundits proclaimed that it was an example of society's moral decay ... Psychologists coined the term "Genovese syndrome" to explain why people are less likely to act in an emergency if others are present.
     The Kitty Genovese episode became infamous, but later examination found that Gansberg had exaggerated details and presented a misleading perspective of the witnesses' actions. All but one of the witnesses likely saw or heard only the first attack, after which Genovese walked away, giving the impression that she was all right. The second attack took place out of view of most people. Only one man saw the attack. He told another woman to call the police, but it was too late to save Genovese.
     -- From The Learning Network, New York Times (link: @)
     -- Photo from The Saturday Evening Post (link to story: @)

* New York Times story, March 27, 1964: @ (Note: The headline as printed was "37 Who Saw Murder Didn't Call the Police / Apathy at Stabbing of Queens Woman Shocks Inspector")
* "The Detached Americans" (Carousel Films, 1964): @
* "Kitty, 40 Years Later" (Jim Rasenberger, New York Times, February 2004): @
* "Nightmare On Austin Street" (Rasenberger, American Heritage, 2006): @
* "The Kitty Genovese Murder and the Social Psychology of Helping" (Rachel Manning, Mark Levine and Alan Collins, American Psychologist, September 2007): @
* "Debunking the myth of Kitty Genovese" (Larry Getlen, New York Post, February 2014): @
* "A Call For Help: What the Kitty Genovese story really means" (Nicholas Lemann, The New Yorker, March 2014): @
* "Kitty Genovese: The Murder, the Bystanders, the Crime That Changed America" (Kevin Cook, 2014): @
* "Fifty Years After Kitty Genovese: Inside The Case That Rocked Our Faith in Each Other" (Albert A. Seedman and Peter Hellman, 2014): @
* "Kitty Genovese: A True Account of a Public Murder and Its Private Consequences" (Catherine Pelonero, 2014): @ 

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