A Panair do Brasil Airlines DC-7, with 85 people on board crashed, killing 48 people. The plane, arriving from Lisbon, Portugal, was coming in for a landing at Recife when it struck a hillside in the suburb of Tijipio.
Women Strike for Peace held its first event, as thousands of American women, most of them housewives concerned over the contamination of strontium-90 from fallout, marched in 60 different U.S. cities to demand an end to further nuclear testing. Estimates of the number of participants ranged from 25,000 to 50,000
The cover of Oleg Penkovsky, who had passed along top secret Soviet information to American CIA agents operating in the U.S.S.R., was blown, after four KGB agents caught a CIA case officer in the act of picking up information that had been dropped off. The CIA man was expelled; the execution of Penkovsky would be announced on May 17, 1963.
Israel's Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion received approval to form a new coalition government, with the Knesset approving a vote of confidence, 63-46.
The musical Kean, based on the life of 18th Century Shakespearean actor Edmund Kean, opened at the Broadway Theater in New York City, closing on January 20 after only 92 performances.
U.S. Army Major General Edwin A. Walker resigned his commission, after having lost his command of a division in West Germany earlier in the year from controversial comments. Walker told reporters that "I must be free from the power of little men who, in the name of my country, punish loyal service to it."
The White House Historical Association was created as a result of the efforts of U.S. First Lady Jackie Kennedy to fund the maintenance of the American presidential residence. Money was raised through the sales of the Association's book, The White House: An Historic Guide.
After returning from South Vietnam on a factfinding mission for President Kennedy, U.S. Army General Maxwell Taylor submitted a report proposing the commitment of 10,000 American combat troops to defend against the Communist Viet Cong. Kennedy did not publicly commit reports, but eventually sent 25,000 troops to South Vietnam.
In one of the more unusual finishes in pro football history, the Dallas Texans were trailing the Boston Patriots, 28-21, put had made it down to the one yard line with one second left. Patriot fans rushed onto the field, and even after being held back by police, one spectator ran into the end zone on the final play, thwarting a pass to Dallas' Chris Burford from Cotton Davidson, then disappeared back into the crowd.
1961 Elbarusovo school fire: According to some sources, a fire at the Soviet City of Elbarusovo in the Chuvash ASSR area of Russia, killed 106 schoolchildren and 4 teachers, and the disaster was not acknowledged until 1994, when sculptor Vladimir Nagornov created a monument that was erected on the site. The fire was also acknowledged in news coverage following a 2009 fire at a nightclub in Perm.
The British freighter Cinn Keith exploded and sank in the Mediterranean Sea off of the coast of Tunisia, killing 62 of the 68 crewmen on board.
Heinz Felfe, West Germany's chief of counterintelligence for the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND), was arrested by his own agents. Felfe, a former Nazi, was discovered to have been passing secrets of the American CIA to the Soviet Union and to East Germany since 1959, revealing the identify of more than 100 CIA agents in Moscow.
The U.S. government issued a stamp honoring the 100th birthday of James Naismith.
The most damaging blaze in Southern California history destroyed hundreds of homes one of the wealthiest areas of the United States in the Hollywood Hills, including the houses of actors Burt Lancaster, Zsa Zsa Gabor, and Joe E. Brown.
José María Velasco Ibarra was pressured into resigning as President of Ecuador. The Ecuadorian Army had the oath of office administered to Supreme Court President Camilo Gallegos Toledo. Ten minutes later, the Ecuadorian Congress voted to elevate Vice-President Carlos Arosemena (who had been jailed by the Army the day before) to the post.
The Taiwanese cargo ship Union Reliance collided with the 9,003 GRT Norwegian tanker MS Berean in the Houston Ship Channel. As a result of the collision, Union Reliance caught fire and ran aground. Twelve people aboard the Berean were killed in the collision and subsequent fire.
Konrad Adenauer was re-elected by the Bundestag for a fourth four-year term as Chancellor of West Germany, but by a margin of only 8 votes. With approval necessary from 250 of the 499 members, the vote was 258 to 206 in his favor, with 26 abstaining and 9 members absent.
France secretly set off its first underground nuclear explosion, and its fifth overall since joining the nuclear club on February 13, 1960. Confirmation was not given until nearly three weeks later.
Imperial Airlines Flight 201/8 from Baltimore, chartered to carry U.S. Army recruits to basic training at Fort Jackson, South Carolina crashed while attempting an emergency landing at Richmond, Virginia. The plane caught fire after coming down in a wooded ravine at 9:24 pm, killing 77 of the 79 persons on board. Subsequent investigation by the Civil Aeronautics Board determined that most of the people on board had survived the impact, but died of smoke inhalation after panicking in their rush toward the exits. The crew of the plane was blamed for allowing the gas tank for one of the engines to empty, causing the stall; for failing to use an emergency valve to deploy a malfunctioning landing gear, which would have made an emergency landing possible at the airport; and for failing to instruct the passengers about what to do in the event of a crash. There was no attempt by the recruits to open any of the three emergency exits.
U.S. Amateur golf champion Jack Nicklaus, a 21 year old senior at Ohio State University announced at a press conference that he was turning professional. Nicklaus would go on to win 19 major championships, including six Masters tournaments and six PGA Championships.
The Professional Golfers Association (PGA) amended its constitution, ending a longstanding rule that limited its membership to white people, and only those from the Western Hemisphere. Prior to the rescission of the "Caucasian clause", the PGA had allowed non-whites to play in the PGA Tour, though not to join, most notably Charlie Sifford, an African-American who earned $1,300 on the Tour in 1961.
U.S. Air Force Captain Robert White set a new world record for speed in an airplane, becoming the first person to reach Mach 6 flying an X-15 rocket to Mach 6.04, at 6,587 km/h.
The Soviet city of Stalingrad, site of the Soviet defense of the Nazi invasion, was renamed Volgograd in honor of the Volga River, and in keeping with the Communist Party's reassessment of former leader Joseph Stalin. The city had been known as Tsaritsyn during the days of the Russian Tsars. Two other cities named in honor of the dictator—- Stalinsk in western Siberia, and Stalino in the Ukraine— were reanmed Novokuznetsk and Donetsk, respectively.
Griswold v. Connecticut: Nine days after opening a birth control clinic in New Haven, Connecticut in defiance of a state law prohibiting the use of "any drug, medicinal article or instrument for the purpose of preventing conception", Estelle Griswold of the Planned Parenthood League of Connecticut, and Dr. C. Lee Buxton, were arrested. Their challenge went to the United States Supreme Court, which ruled in 1965 that laws that infringed upon marital privacy were unconstitutional.
An Atlas missile, launched from the United States with a squirrel monkey on board, exploded 30 seconds after liftoff while being tested for a 5,000 mile flight. The body of "Goliath", the 24 ounce passenger, was found in the wreckage two days later.
Kindu atrocity: Thirteen Italian airmen, who were part of the UN Peacekeeping Force in the Congo, were brutally murdered after arriving at the airport in Kindu. Five days after the airmen had disappeared, United Nations investigators discovered that the unarmed group had been kidnapped shortly after their cargo planes had landed with scout cars for a contingent of Malayan UN troops. Mutinying soldiers from the Congolese army, loyal to Vice-Premier Antoine Gizenga, seized the Italian men, beat them, and then shot them in front of the town's prison. Some of the bodies were dismembered and thrown into the Lualaba River.
Bluebelle Murders: Retired USAF Captain Julian Harvey, operating a charter boat for the family of Wisconsin optometrist Dr. Arthur Duperrault, escaped the yacht as it sank between the Bahamas and Florida. Rescuers found Harvey and the body of the youngest of the three Duperrault children, whom he had taken off the boat before it went down. Harvey was the sole survivor of the seven persons on board — or so he thought. Four days later, the merchant ship Captain Theo spotted 11 year old Terry Jo Duperrault, clinging to a cork raft. The next day, after learning that there was a survivor, Harvey checked into a Miami motel and killed himself. Investigators soon discovered that Harvey had taken out a $20,000 double-indemnity life insurance policy on his wife, and had almost gotten away with multiple murder.
Born:Nadia Comăneci, Romanian gymnast who became the first person to win a perfect score of 10 in Olympic gymnastics; gold medalist 1976 and 1980; in Oneşti
Died:Louis C. Rabaut, 75, U.S. Congressman from Michigan in his 13th term of office, known for introducing the legislation that added the words "under God" to the Pledge of Allegiance to the United States flag; and Oscar B. Ellis, 59, Texas prison director whose reforms in the state penal system were followed elsewhere, including separating the most violent offenders from the inmate population.
Ten days after pressure blew the cap from a natural gas well in the Sahara Desert in Algeria, the "world's biggest fire" started, sending flames 600 feet high. Firefighting expert Red Adair would extinguish the blaze on April 29, 1962, with 660 pounds of dynamite.
World-famous cellist Pablo Casals, who had fled his native Spain and vowed in 1938 not to perform in any nation that recognized the regime of Francisco Franco (including the United States), played the cello at the request of the President and Mrs. Kennedy. The occasion was a state dinner at the White House in honor of Puerto Rico's Governor Luis Muñoz Marín. Casals, 84, had last performed at the White House 57 years earlier, for President Theodore Roosevelt on January 15, 1904.
During heavy storms, the Norwegian fishing vessel Peder Vinje disappeared off of Norway's north cape, with 13 men on board, while the Danish motorship Teddy sank in the Baltic Sea on the same evening, taking with it 12 of its 16 men.
A resolution to expel South Africa from the United Nations General Assembly failed to receive the required two-thirds majority. The vote of a committee of representatives from the 103 member nations was 47-32 in favor, and 34 abstaining.
The Shah of Iran gave Iranian Prime Minister Ali Amini the go-ahead to begin the "White Revolution", a comprehensive series of reforms aimed at improving education, combating poverty, and eliminating corruption over a period of ten years.
Kuwait Television began broadcasting. For the first twelve years, the station in Kuwaiti City showed programming, in black and white, for four hours per day. Color television would be inaugurated on March 16, 1974.
Maria Estela Martinez Cartas, who had been a nightclub dancer in Argentina using the stage name "Isabel", married former Argentine President Juan Perón in Madrid, where he had lived in exile since his overthrow in 1955. In 1973, when Perón returned from exile and was elected President, she became his vice-president as Isabel Perón; and in 1974, became the first woman to ever serve as President of any nation.
Dr. John Lykoudis, of Missolonghi in Greece, received a patent for the antibiotic medicine he had devised to effectively treat peptic ulcer disease, thought at the time to be caused by excessive stomach acid rather than by bacteria. However, he was rebuffed by the Greek government in attempting to obtain trials and approval of the medication, which he called Elgaco, and by medical journals. In 1983, three years after Lykoudis died, Drs. Barry Marshall and Robin Warren would confirm that ulcers were indeed caused by a bacterium, Helicobacter pylori, which thrived in acidic environments.
Portuguese troops at the colony of Goa fired, without provocation, on the passenger ship Sabarmati near Anjadip Island, killing one person and injuring another. By the end of the month, the government of India made the decision to drive the Portuguese out, culminating in the 1961 Indian Annexation of Goa.
West German pediatrician Widukind Lenz of Hamburg appeared delivered his findings at a meeting of the German Pediatric Society, making the link between the morning sickness pill thalidomide and phocomelia, a birth defect causing missing limbs. Dr. Lenz found that in 17 out of 20 cases of defects that he had investigated in Hamburg, the mothers had used the medicine, marketed there under the name Contergan. By contrast, there had been only one case of phocomelia out of 210,000 births in Hamburg between 1930 and 1955. A reporter at the meeting broke the story the next day in the German national Sunday paper Welt am Sonntag.
Eddie Arcaro, who had more wins than any other jockey up to that time, finished third in what would prove to be his final horse race, showing with Endymion in the Pimlico Futurity at Aqueduct Racetrack in New York City. Arcaro retired before the 1962 racing season, having ridden 24,092 races and winning 4,779 of them, as well as 807 second place and 3,302 third place finishes. Finishing first in the race was Willie Shoemaker, who would later hold the records.
Barry Goldwater, U.S. Senator from Arizona, spoke out in Atlanta against President Kennedy and big government. Although he was a member of the NAACP, the man who would become the Republican nominee for President in 1964, said that states, rather than Washington, should enforce school desegregation, offering "I wouldn't like to see my party assume it is the role of the federal government to enforce integration of schools."
During construction of the Severn Bridge, three men fell into the river. A rescue boat crewed by two men set sail from Chepstow, not knowing that the three men had been picked up safely by the Aust to Beachley ferry boat, the Severn Princess. Two tanker barges coming down empty from Sharpness, the Wyesdale H and the Wharfedale H, tied together and both being steered from the Wyesdale H collided with the rescue boat, which had no navigation lights. One member of the rescue boat crew was drowned.
The last twenty-seven members of the Trujillo family departed the Dominican Republic, where the relatives of the late Rafael Trujillo had ruled for 30 years. Rafael had been assassinated on May 30. Three of his brothers (including former President Héctor Trujillo, joined Rafael, Jr., who had left the previous day. The group departed on a chartered Pan American DC-6 to Miami from the soon to be renamed Dominican capital, Ciudad Trujillo.
İsmet İnönü of CHP formed the new government of Turkey (26th government, first coalition in Turkey, partner AP)
The United Nations General Assembly approved Resoulution 1653 (XVI), the "Declaration on the Prohibition of the Use of Nuclear and Thermonuclear Weapons", by a 2/3rds majority (55-20, with 26 abstentions).
West German pharmaceutical manufacturer Grünenthal GmbH became the first company to take thalidomide off of the market, nine days after the first report of its link to birth defects was published. Distillers Company Ltd. removed the drug from British distribution on December 21.
In the Avellaneda derby soccer match between Club Atlético Independiente and Racing Club de Avellaneda, the referee was forced to suspend play for six minutes due to fighting amongst the players. Four players from each team were sent off. The game ended in a 1–1 draw.
Four days after the #2 Ohio State Buckeyes football team had closed its season unbeaten, with a record of 8 wins and one tie and the championship of the Big Ten Conference, the faculty council at Ohio State University voted 28-25 to reverse the OSU Athletic Council's 6-4 decision to accept an invitation to the Rose Bowl. Objections to the post-season game, and a chance at the mythical national championship, were that OSU's academic prestige had been hurt by its image as "a football school".
After Morocco's King Hasssan II agreed to allow the Arab nation's Jewish minority to leave, the first group 105 Jews was allowed to fly out to Israel. By the end of the year, 11,478 had left, and over the next two years, the 85,000 members of the community had emigrated.
Born:Florian Vijent, Dutch-Suriname football goalkeeper (killed in airplane crash, 1989)
The United States successfully placed a chimpanzee, Enos, into orbit around the Earth, clearing the way for the first American astronaut to break the pull of Earth's gravity. Enos lifted off from Cape Canaveral on board Mercury-Atlas 5 at 9:07 am, made two circuits of the globe, and was recovered safely at 12:28 pm in the Atlantic Ocean. After the successful flight, NASA announced that one of two men would become the first to be sent into orbit, settling on John Glenn or Donald "Deke" Slayton.
U.S. President Kennedy, authorized Operation Mongoose, the secret funding of Cuban groups to overthrow Cuban dictator Fidel Castro. Brigadier General Edward Lansdale was put in command of the project, which had 4,000 operatives on its payroll between 1961 and 1963.
^"Missing Ship Has 13 Aboard", Miami News, November 15, 1961 p10A
^Dieter Nohlen, et al., Elections in Asia and the Pacific: South East Asia, East Asia, and the South Pacific (Oxford University Press, 2001) p227; "Macapagal Winner In Philippines", Miami News, November 15, 1961, p1
^"South Africa Hangs Onto Its Seat In U.N.", Miami News, November 14, 1961, p5A
^Kristen Blake, The U.S.-Soviet Confrontation in Iran, 1945-1962: A Case in the Annals of the Cold War (University Press of America, 2009) p155
^Barry Marshall, Helicobacter Pioneers: Firsthand Accounts from the Scientists who Discovered Helicobacters, 1892-1982 (Wiley-Blackwell, 2002) p78
^Craig C. Hannah, Striving for Air Superiority: The Tactical Air Command in Vietnam (Texas A&M University Press, 2002) p11
^Dennis R. Jenkins, To Reach the High Frontier: A History of U.S. Launch Vehicles (University Press of Kentucky, 2002) p254; "Minuteman In Pit Fired 3,000 Miles", Milwaukee Sentinel, November 18, 1961, p4
^Satyindra Singh, Blueprint to Bluewater, the Indian Navy, 1951-65 (Lancer Publishers, 1992) p350
^Mitchell H. Gail and Jacques Bénichou, Encyclopedia of Epidemiologic Methods (John Wiley and Sons, 2000 p924
^Philip J. Hilts, Protecting America's Health: The FDA, Business, and One Hundred Years of Regulation (UNC Press Books, 2004) p155
^Paul J. Christopher and Alicia Marie Smith, 50 Plus One Greatest Sports Heroes of All Times: North American Edition (Encouragement Press, LLC, 2006) p28; "Crimson Satan touted as hot Derby prospect", Hopkinsville (KY) New Era, November 20, 1961, p17
^Allan J. Lichtman, White Protestant Nation: The Rise of the American Conservative Movement (Grove Press, 2009) p232; "Goldwater Attacks 'Indecision' of JFK", Rome News-Tribune, - November 19, 1961, p1
^"3 Presidents at Rayburn Funeral", Chicago Tribune, November 19, 1961, p1
^"The News Around the U.S.", Miami News, February 1, 1964, p14A
^"TRUJILLO BROTHERS FLEE, ARRIVE ON BEACH", Miami News, November 20, 1961, p1
^Chad Randl, Revolving Architecture: A History of Buildings that Rotate, Swivel, and Pivot (Princeton Architectural Press, 2008) p105; Some Construction and Housing Firsts in Hawaii, by Robert C. Schmitt, in The Hawaiian Journal of History (Hawaiian Historical Society, 1981) p110