Sunday, April 30, 1961: Self-surgery in the Antarctic

Stationed at a Soviet base in Antarctica, Dr. Leonid Rogozov, 27, has to remove his own appendix before it bursts; he was the only doctor at the base. 
* Summary from theatlantic.com: @ 
* "Self Operation" (by Rogozov, published in Soviet Antarctic Expedition Information): @ 
* "Auto-appendectomy in the Antarctic: case report" (from the British Medical Journal): @


Saturday, April 29, 1961: Luciano Pavarotti

The opera tenor makes his debut, portraying Rodolfo in "La Bohรจme" at the Teatro Municipale in Reggio Emilia, Italy.

* Listen to part of debut: @
* Short biography and sound clips (from historyofthetenor.com): @
* Official Pavarotti website: @
* pavarottiforever.com (Decca Records website): @

Saturday, April 29, 1961: 'Wide World of Sports'

What would become a staple of sports programming premieres on ABC, televising track's Penn Relays and Drake Relays. The narration that opened the show (starting in its second year) would be memorable as well: "Spanning the globe to bring you the constant variety of sport ... the thrill of victory ... and the agony of defeat ... the human drama of athletic competition ... this is ABC's Wide World of Sports."

* Watch the original opening: @
* 1991 article from Sports Illustrated: @
* Excerpt from "A History of Sports Highlights: Replayed Plays from Edison to ESPN": @
* Excerpt from "Roone: A Memoir" (Roone Arledge was the show's first producer): @

Saturday, April 29, 1961: World Wildlife Fund

The organization dedicated to preserving wildlife and the environment is founded in Switzerland. Its now-familiar logo was inspired by Chi Chi, a giant panda that China had given to the London Zoo.

From the Morges Manifesto (the organization's founding document, dated April 29): "The new organisation will simply offer easy channels for all who want to help to do so by means of a world campaign to raise massive support for the cause and to distribute resources quickly where these are most needed."

* Official websites: @ and @


Tuesday, April 25, 1961: Integrated circuit

Robert Noyce of Fairchild Semiconductor Corp. in Mountain View, California, is granted a patent for a "Semiconductor Device-and-Lead Structure" -- a type of integrated circuit that allowed for much smaller and far fewer components in electronic devices.

* Definition of integrated circuit (from businessdictionary.com): @
* Summary from Computer History Museum: @
* Patent: @
* Short biography of Noyce and more links: @
* "Transistorized!" (from pbs.org): @


Sunday, April 23, 1961: 'Judy at Carnegie Hall'

Singer-actress Judy Garland performs live at New York's Carnegie Hall. Her performance is recorded on a double album, which reaches No. 1 on the charts and would win five Grammy Awards. For a time, the show put to rest any concerns about her ongoing health and substance-abuse problems. The crowd was adoring; The New York Times wrote: "Indeed, what actually was to have been a concert -- and was -- also turned into something not too remote from a revival meeting."

* More information and track listings (from thejudyroom.com): @
* Listen to "Stormy Weather": @


Friday, April 21, 1961: Golden Shears

What is now regarded as the world's most prestigious sheep-shearing event is held for the first time in Masterton, New Zealand.

* Summary (from nzhistory.net.nz): @
* Footage from first competition: @
* Official Golden Shears site: @
* www.shearingworld.com: @


Thursday, April 20, 1961: Jetpack flight

Harold Graham makes the first successful free-flight test of the Bell Aerosystems Rocket Belt. Graham travels 112 feet, rising four feet off the ground. The flight lasts 13 seconds.

* Excerpt from "Jetpack Dreams" (book by Mac Montandon): @
* jetpackdreamsthebook.com: @
* Bell progress report (footage): Part 1 @ and Part 2 @
* Rocket belts and jetpacks website: @
* Entry from flying-contraptions.com: @
* Entry from U.S. Army Transportation Museum: @
* "This Man Can Broad-Jump 368 Feet" (Scientific American, December 1961): @
* Graham obituary (2009): @

April: Bay of Pigs aftermath

April 20
* Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy's statement on Cuba and neutrality laws: @
* U.S. President John F. Kennedy's address to the American Society of Newspaper Editors: @
* Footage of speech: @

April 21
* Footage of JFK press conference, Part 1: @
* Part 2: @
* Part 3: @ (This contains the Kennedy quote, "There's an old saying that victory has a hundred fathers and defeat is an orphan.")

April 22
* Letter from Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev to JFK: @
* JFK meets with former President Eisenhower at Camp David, Maryland (photo above). The picture would win the 1962 Pulitzer Prize in photography. The story behind the photo: @

April 24
* The White House releases a statement that reads: "President Kennedy has stated from the beginning that as President he bears sole responsibility for the events of the past few days. He has stated it on all occasions and he restates it now so that it will be understood by all. The President is strongly opposed to anyone within or without the administration attempting to shift the responsibility."

April 27
* JFK address to the American Newspaper Publishers Association: @ (also known as "The President and the Press" speech)


Tuesday, April 18, 1961: Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations

Adopted on April 14 and signed on April 18 in Vienna, Austria. Summary from the United Nations (see first link below): "The Vienna Convention provides a complete framework for the establishment, maintenance and termination of diplomatic relations on a basis of consent between independent sovereign States. It specifies the functions of diplomatic missions, the formal rules regulating appointments, declarations of persona non grata of a diplomat who has in some way given offense, and precedence among heads of missions."

* Summary and history (from untreaty.un.org): @
* Full text: @
* Participants, declarations and reservations: @
* Anniversary website: @


Monday, April 17, 1961: The Oscars

At the 33rd Academy Awards, "The Apartment" wins best picture, while Burt Lancaster wins best actor for "Elmer Gantry" and Elizabeth Taylor wins best actress for "Butterfield 8." Hollywood legend has it that Taylor's victory was a sympathy vote, the actress having recently recovered from pneumonia and an emergency tracheotomy.

(Blog posts from 1960 movies include "The Apartment," "Elmer Gantry," "Psycho" and "Where the Boys Are." Click on "movies" label.)

* Summary and winners (from Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences): @
* Excerpt from "Liz: An Intimate Biography of Elizabeth Taylor" (book by C. David Heymann): @

Monday-Wednesday, April 17-19, 1961: Bay of Pigs

A U.S.-sponsored attempt to topple the government of Cuban leader Fidel Castro fails. An invasion force of some 1,400 Cuban exiles -- trained and financed by the CIA -- goes ashore at the Bay of Pigs. They are routed by government forces. The U.S. had hoped that the operation would spark an uprising against Castro (at lower right in photo); that, too, never takes hold.

* Summary (from americanheritage.com): @
* Summary (from Miami Herald): @
* Summary (from Kennedy library): @
* Summary (from the book "Disasters, Accidents, and Crises in American History"): @

* Letter from Khrushchev to Kennedy (April 18): @
* Letter from Kennedy to Khrushchev (April 18): @

* "Invasion at Bay of Pigs" (from historyofcuba.com): @
* "Assault Brigade 2506 and the Bay of Pigs" (from military.com): @
* "Inspector General's Survey of the Cuban Operation" (from CIA, October 1961): @
* "Official History of the Bay of Pigs Operation" (from CIA): @
* Government documents, April 17-19; start at "106 through 120": @
(from "Foreign Relations of the United States, 1961-1963 -- Volume X, Cuba, 1961-1962")
* Other links to relevant documents: @
* More from National Security Archive: @
* More from cuban-exile.com: @
* "Cuba and the United States: A Chronological History": @

* "Rebels Invade Castro's Cuba:" (newsreel, from britishpathe.com): @
* "Aftermath of the Cuban Episode" (newsreel, from britishpathe.com): @
* Battle footage (from criticalpast.com): @
* Photos (from life.com): @
* New York Times (April 18): Front page @ and article @
* Front page of San Francisco Chronicle (April 20): @


Undated: Operation Coffeecup

The American Medical Association launches a campaign against the creation of a government-funded health care program for elderly people. One part of the multimedia strategy -- Operation Coffeecup -- calls on doctors' wives to invite friends over for coffee and help spread the word against legislation then being considered in Congress.

Movie and TV actor Ronald Reagan adds his voice to the effort by recording "Ronald Reagan Speaks Out Against Socialized Medicine," arguing the AMA's case and encouraging listeners to write their senators and representatives.

* Listen to album (from Reagan Foundation): @
* Transcript: @
* Operation Coffeecup materials (accompanying letter dated April 15, 1961): @
* "Operation Coffeecup: Ronald Reagan's Effort to Prevent the Enactment of Medicare" (essay by Social Security historian Larry DeWitt): @
* Passage from "Securing America's Future: A Bold Plan to Preserve and Expand Social Security" (book by Max J. Skidmore): @
* Social Security history (1957-1965, from socialsecurity.gov): @


Thursday, April 13, 1961: U.S. military execution

John Arthur Bennett of the U.S. Army is put to death by hanging at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, after his conviction for the rape and attempted murder of an 11-year-girl. Bennett was stationed in Austria at the time. (As of this date, Bennett's death was the last military execution carried out by the United States.)

* Summary (from executedtoday.com): @
* Summary (2005, The Times, London): @
* Summary (2007, Los Angeles Times): @
* U.S. military executions since 1945 (from Death Penalty Information Center): @
* Military death penalty information (from court-martial.com): @


Wednesday, April 12, 1961: The first man in space

Perched atop the Vostok 1 spacecraft, cosmonaut Yuri Alekseyevich Gagarin, 27, is launched into outer space at 9:07 a.m. (local time at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in the Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic). His voyage takes him around the Earth once, traveling at 18,000 miles per hour, reaching an altitude of 203 miles and lasting 108 minutes. Gagarin ejects from the capsule as planned, but only after a dangerous re-entry. He parachutes safely to the ground, two miles away from Vostok 1. He is instantly a hero the world over.

-- Resources
* Photo from Science Photo Library. Website: @
* Anniversary website (yurigagarin50.org): @
* Flight summary and events leading up to flight (from Encylopedia Astronautica): @
* Flight information (from russianspaceweb.com): @
* Flight timeline (from yurigagarin50.org): @
* Flight analysis (from Space History Notes): @
* Infographic (from space.com): @
* Photo gallery (from Russian Archives Online): @
* Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center (includes flight information): @
* Anniversary party website (yurisnight.net): @
* More links (from firstorbit.org; several sites are in Russian): @

-- Magazines and newspapers
* Time magazine: April 21 cover @
* Life magazine: April 21 edition @
* Newsweek: April 24 cover @
* Front page of Pravda: (scroll down): @
* Front page of The Daily Worker: @
* Front page of New York Times: @
* Front page of Huntsville (Alabama) Times: @ and @
* "How Yuri Gagarin's historic flight was nearly grounded" (from The Guardian newspaper): @
* More Gagarin stories from The Guardian: @
* "Soviet Radio and Newspaper Reports on the Flight of the Spaceship Vostok" (translation from Jet Propulsion Laboratory): @

-- Books
* "The First Soviet Cosmonaut Team -- Their Lives, Legacy and Historical Impact": @
* "Challenge to Apollo: The Soviet Union and the Space Race, 1945-1974" (from NASA; in PDF format): @ and @
* 1977 booklet published in Soviet Union (from www.kosmonaut.se): @
* "Yuri's Day -- The Road to the Stars" (graphic novel): @

-- Videos from britishpathe.com
* Pre-flight footage and liftoff: @
* British newsreel: @
* "With Gagarin to the Stars" (Soviet documentary, narrated in English): @ and @ and @

-- More videos
* "First Orbit" (real-time re-creation, using footage shot from International Space Station): @
* Flight simulation using Orbiter computer program: @ and @
* Videos from criticalpast.com: @


Tuesday, April 11, 1961: The trial of Adolf Eichmann

In Jerusalem, Israel, former Nazi leader Adolf Eichmann goes on trial for his role in the Holocaust of World War II. (Eichmann had been captured the year before; see post of May 11, 1960.) The 15 counts against him include charges of crimes against the Jewish people, crimes against humanity, war crimes and membership in a hostile organization.

-- Trial summaries
* From United States Holocaust Memorial Museum: @
* From Holocaust Education & Archive Research Team: @
* From Israel State Archives: @
* From "The Encyclopedia of the Holocaust": @

-- Other resources
* "The Trial of Adolf Eichmann" (from remember.org): @
* "Marking 50 Years Since the Eichmann Trial" (from Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority): @
* Trial transcripts (from The Nizkor Project): @
* Trial photos (from Israel State Archives): @
* "How Nazi Adolf Eichmann's trial unified Israel" (from BBC): @
* holocaustsurvivors.org: @

-- Videos
* Eichmann Trial Channel (includes 200+ hours of trial footage): @
* Newsreel: @
* Portions of trial (from britishpathe.com): @
* Opening statement by Israeli attorney general Gideon Hausner: @
* Witness testimonies: @
* Significance (by Deborah Lipstadt, Holocaust studies professor, Emory University): @
* "The Seventh Million" (documentary): Part I @ and Part II @


Sunday, April 9, 1961: 'Sunday'

In what is considered one of the first social-protest films of the 1960s, Dan Drasin records the day's events as several people are arrested in New York's Washington Square after demonstrating against the denial of a permit to play music. The result is the 17-minute documentary "Sunday." Under the headline "Folk Singers Riot in Washington Sq.", The New York Times reported: "At the height of the battle, hundreds of young people, many of the boys with beards or banjos and many of the girls with long hair or guitars, fought with fifty policemen in clashes across the square. Hundreds more, including some baffled tourists, watched."

* Watch "Sunday": @
* "How the Beatnik Riot Helped Kick Off The '60s" (story from NPR): @
* Excerpt from the book "Experimental Cinema: The Film Reader": @
* Dan Drasin's website: @


Saturday, April 8, 1961: Last of the 'Big Red Cars'

Electric streetcar service comes to an end in Los Angeles, as buses take over the last of the trolley lines, connecting L.A. and Long Beach. The lines had dated back to the late 1800s.

* "The Red Cars of Los Angeles" (from the University of Southern California): @
* Los Angeles Mirror, April 8: @
* Entry from the Orange Empire Railway Museum: @
* Pacific Electric Railway Historical Society: @
* Electric Railway Historical Association of Southern California: @
* "What Did We Give Up With the Big Red Cars?" (by George Hilton, UCLA professor): @
* Ride the Last of the Big Red Cars" (footage): @


Undated: Fingerprinting a ghost

Sergeant Rowland Mason with the Manchester, England, fingerprint bureau attends several seances in a house that is (according to its owners) inhabited by a violin-playing ghost named Nicholas. With the apparition's consent, Mason attempts to take fingerprints; all that appear are three scratch marks.

* Summary of case (from www.trutv.com): @
* "Detective Stories" (pages 193-202): @


Wednesday, April 5, 1961: Barbra Streisand

The 18-year-old singer from Brooklyn makes her national television debut on "The Jack Paar Show" (guest-hosted that night by Orson Bean). She sings two songs: "A Sleepin' Bee" and "When the Sun Comes Out."

* More about appearance: @
* Footage from show: @
* Official Streisand website: @

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