September 1962

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Significant Cultural, Political, and Social Events 

that occurred this month include the U.S. National Park Service designating the home of Frederick Douglas in Washington D.C. as a national historic site, the first such recognition for an African-American (5th). As a harbinger of the Cuban missile crisis, Soviet missiles first arrive in Cuba (8th). The U.S. Supreme Court intervenes in the growing civil rights confrontations in the South, halting the stays of lower court orders, which effectively pave the way for James Meredith, a black student, to enroll in the all-white University of Mississippi (10th). When Meredith enrolls 10 days later, he will be escorted by federal marshals.

In South Vietnam, U.S. Marine Corps helicopter pilots fly combat missions for Da Nang, previewing that conflict later in the decade (18th). Rachel Carson’s nonfiction work “Silent Spring” is published. It becomes the catalyst of the burgeoning environmentalist movement (27th). President Kennedy issues  a “cease and desist” order, calling the efforts to prevent James Meredith from attending classes at Ole Miss as unlawful (29th). This action fails to prevent rioting on the campus by white agitators against blacks, and members of the Mississippi National Guard are federalized to quell the violence. (30th)

In Sports and Entertainment,

“The Jetsons,” an animated show from Hanna Barbera studios about a mid-21st century family, premieres on the ABC television network in prime time. It lasts one season, but survives in baby boomer memories through decades of syndication (23rd). “The Beverly Hillbillies” sitcom premieres on CBS television, beginning a nine year run, rising to #1 in the ratings for the year. In boxing, Sonny Liston knocks out reigning world  heavyweight champion Floyd Patterson, claiming the title (25th).

On the Pop Singles Charts,

The Four Seasons explode on the music scene with their smash hit Sherry, which begins a 5 week reign at #1 mid-month. They follow the two week run of Sheila by Tommy Roe. Roe would not have another hit for seven years, climbing  back to the top of the charts in 1969 in a remarkable return. The Four Seasons go onto become one of the best selling groups of the Sixties. Other hit makers this month and their top chart position include Ray Charles with his timeless ballad, You Don’t Know Me (2) drawn from his classic Modern Sounds in Country and Western album. Nat King Cole has a best-selling single and album with Ramblin’ Rose (2); R&B instrumentalists Booker T. and the M.G.s score with Green Onions (3), which is also covered by jazz artists. Teen idol Rick Nelson hits with the self-titled Teen Age Idol (5). Elvis Presley, the king of rock ‘n roll, has yet another hit with She’s Not You (5). Claudine Clark leaves a one hit wonder legacy with Party Lights (6); Another one hit wonder, Bent Fabric, breaks through with the instrumental Alley Cat, a piano ditty that will survive as a wedding dance staple for decades. The Duprees keep doo wop alive with their enduring You Belong to Me (7). And Motown’s first successful solo female singer Mary Wells breaks into the top ten with You Beat Me to the Punch (9).

At Movie Theaters,

The Music Man leads the box-office parade for the second consecutive month at #1. The huge hit for-all-ages would be remembered at year’s end on critics’ polls as well. The Cinerama family extravaganza The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm finishes at #2, but tops the weekly chart by the end of the month in its limited roadshow runs. Holdover hits include the endless smash West Side Story at #3, Lolita at #5, The Miracle Worker holding on at #6, and art house hit Boccaccio ’70 crossing over to mainstream theaters and reaching #10. Newcomers are the hospital soaper The Interns #4, Vincente Minelli’s follow up to The Bad and the Beautiful, the not-as-memorable Two Weeks in Another Town #7, the international remake of The Phantom of the Opera starring Herbert Lom (who would later play Inspector Clouseau’s foil in The Pink Panther series) at #8, and the sword-and-sandal costumer, The 300 Spartans at #9.


In the art houses, the Oscar-winning documentary The Sky Above the Mud Below continues its remarkable run, and adds enough commercial theaters to reach #11 in the box office rankings. New successful entries include two from the UK, Waltz  of the Toreadors and  critics’ favorite A Taste of Honey.


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