Cultural and News Milestones for the month: The Cuban Missile Crisis, which had gripped the world the last two weeks of October, is formally resolved when the Soviet Union dismantles nuclear missiles on Cuba; President John F. Kennedy announces the agreement in a nationwide TV address (2). The term “personal computer” is introduced in an article in the New York Times which predicts widespread usage of user-friendly computers in the future (3). The last atmospheric nuclear bomb test takes place by the United States. Henceforth testing would be conducted underground (4). In midterm elections, the Democratic Party maintains control of Congress and increases their majority in the Senate (64-36); former Vice-President Richard Nixon loses his bid the become Governor of California (6). Nelson Mandela is first imprisoned in South Africa. The leader of the resistance to apartheid would remain behind bars for 22 years (7). Eleanor Roosevelt, the former First Lady and widow of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, dies at the age of 78 (7). Dulles International Airport is dedicated and opens 28 miles outside of Washington D.C. in Fairfax county, Virginia. It becomes the main airport for international traffic serving the nation’s capital (17).
On the Pop Music Charts: He’s a Rebel by the girl group The Crystals ascends to the top of the Billboard Singles chart for two weeks, followed by The Four Seasons and their second consecutive # 1 smash, Big Girls Don’t Cry, beginning a five week reign at the top. Other hits and their peak positions include Return to Sender, the biggest single of the year for Elvis Presley. He occupies the #2 spot for five weeks, blocked by the Four Seasons from rising to the apex. Gene Pitney also reaches # 2 with Only Love Can Break a Heart; Both Brenda Lee (All Alone Am I) and The Contours (Do You Love Me) climb to #3. Other hitmakers are Neil Sedaka (Next Door to an Angel) #5, Johnny Mathis (Gina) #6, and Philadelphians Chubby Checker (Popeye the Hitchhiker) and Bobby Rydell (The Cha-Cha-Cha) who both slip in at #10.
On the Albums chart, Peter, Paul and Mary continue at the top with their eponymous Lp. Long charting hits in the top 5 include the movie soundtracks for West Side Story and The Music Man, along with Nat King Cole (Ramblin’ Rose) and Ray Charles (Modern Sounds in Country and Western). Billboard officially renames it’s Country & Western music charts (3). Henceforth the label “Western” is dropped, and Country stands alone.
At the Movies: The Longest Day soars to the # 1 ranking at the Box-office, doing near capacity business in all its’ roadshow runs. It bumps The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm to #2, and that Cinerama family hit, also on hard ticket, barely holds off the dynamite duo of Bette Davis and Joan Crawford in their boffo smash thriller What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? at #3. Another huge hit is The Manchurian Candidate, a political fantasy that has become eerily prescient (#4). Other commercial successes and their ranking this month include holdovers Gigot (#5), Requiem for a Heavyweight (#6), West Story (#7), and the comedy trifle If a Man Answers with real-life married couple Bobby Darin and Sandra Dee (#8). Rounding out the top ten are two with rising star Jane Fonda, in The Chapman Report (#9) and a comedy from dramatic heavyweight playwright Tennessee Williams, Period of Adjustment (#10). Two international entries, Phaedra, and the critically acclaimed comedy Divorce Italian Style, both break out of the art houses to commercial theaters, just missing the top ten.