1962 was quite a year! In February, John Glenn became the first American to orbit the earth, and President Kennedy continued the Space Race against the Soviet Union by asking congress for $350 million to put a man on the moon by the end of the decade. A second event with the Russians happened from October 16th to October 28th: The Soviet Union began to install nuclear missiles in Cuba, launching the Cuban Missile Crisis. And in even more political news, the failed Bay of Pigs operation ended in December.
Another memorable Kennedy moment: On May 19th, Marilyn Monroe famously sang him Happy Birthday at Madison Square Garden in front of 15,000 people. Sadly, she died only three months later, on August 5th, at 36 years old. Eleanor Roosevelt also died that year, in November.
On September 30th, James Meredith became the first African American student to enroll at the University of Mississippi, making him one of the top pioneers of the Civil Rights Movement.
In lighter news, Seattle completed the Space Needle in time to host the World’s Fair, and the oral Polio vaccine was given to millions of children for the first time. Phil Knight developed the first running shoe, and the first Walmart, first Kmart, and first Motel 6 opened.
In the pop culture world, ABC broadcasted the first color tv series: The Jetsons by Hanna-Barbera, Spider-Man made his first comic appearance, The New York Yankees won the world series over the San Francisco Giants 4 to 3, and Johnny Carson took over the Tonight Show. Some of the biggest movie releases were To Kill a Mockingbird (March), The Manchurian Candidate (October) and Lawrence of Arabia (December), and famous songs to debut that year were Little Eva’s “The Loco-Motion” (June), Monster Mash by Bobby “Boris” Pickett (August), and the Four Seasons’ “Big Girl’s Don’t Cry” (August).