May 1960

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The following events occurred in May 1960.

May 7, 1960: Premier Khrushchev provides proof that an American spy plane and its pilot were captured on Soviet territory
May 1, 1960: USAF Pilot Gary Francis Powers (right) shot down while flying U-2 over USSR

May 1, 1960 (Sunday)

  • U-2 Incident: An American U-2 spy plane, piloted by Francis Gary Powers, entered Soviet airspace ten minutes after takeoff from a U.S. base in Pakistan, at Peshawar. At 9:53 am (0653 GMT), his plane was struck by shrapnel from an exploding Soviet SA-2 missile while he was at 70,500 feet (21,488 m).[1] Powers parachuted and chose not to commit suicide, and landed near Sverdlovsk, where he was captured alive.[2][3]
  • Gujarat and Maharashtra were formed as separate States of India, when the Bombay State was split along linguistic lines.[4]

May 2, 1960 (Monday)

  • Caryl Chessman, 38, American criminal, was executed at 10:03 a.m. in the gas chamber at California's San Quentin Prison after ten years on Death Row. In San Francisco, defense attorneys had asked to present an argument, and U.S. Judge Louis E. Goodman had decided to issue a stay of execution as Chessman was being strapped into his chair, and instructed his secretary to call the prison, but the secretary had copied only four of the five digits of the telephone number, after which the call took a full minute to go through. Goodman blamed the defense attorneys for waiting until the last minute to seek a stay, commenting that "One of them, at least, should have been here earlier."[5] Chessman, an accomplished author on death row for rape rather murder, had won eight prior stays of execution, and his death was protested worldwide.
  • WLS-AM of Chicago became the first large radio station in the Midwest to switch over to a rock 'n roll format.[6]

May 3, 1960 (Tuesday)

  • At 2:00 pm EDT, all regular television and radio broadcasting in the United States halted as the airwaves were taken over by CONELRAD (later the Emergency Broadcasting System), and sirens sounded across the nation, and all people outside were directed to go to the nearest fallout shelter. It was all part of "Operation Alert 1960" and regular programming was restored after 30 minutes.[7] At New York's City Hall Park, a crowd of 500 demonstrators refused police orders to seek shelter, in protest over the nuclear arms race.[8]
  • The European Free Trade Association, founded by Britain, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Switzerland, Austria and Portugal came into being, five months after the Stockholm treaty signed on January 4.[9]
  • The Fantasticks, the most popular musical of all time, was staged for the first time. The opening night, at the (off-Broadway) Sullivan Street Playhouse in New York, was the first of a record 17,162 for the show. The last performance there was on January 13, 2002.[10]
  • Outfielder Jim Lemon of the Washington Senators became the first Major League Baseball player to wear a batting helmet with earflaps. Helmets had been required in both leagues since 1958.[11]

May 4, 1960 (Wednesday)

May 5, 1960 (Thursday)

  • Soviet Premier Nikita S. Khrushchev announced to that nation's parliament that an American military plane had been downed in Soviet territory on May 1.[13]

May 6, 1960 (Friday)

May 7, 1960 (Saturday)

President Brezhnev

May 8, 1960 (Sunday)

  • A Nationalist Chinese Sabrejet crashed into a village in Taiwan, killing the pilot and 10 people on the ground.[21]
  • Cuba and the Soviet Union formally re-established diplomatic relations, which had been ended in 1952. The United States severed its diplomatic ties with Cuba five months later, on January 3, 1961.[22]
  • Born: Franco Baresi, Italian football defender, in Travagliato
  • Died: J. H. C. Whitehead, 55, British mathematician, in Princeton, New Jersey

May 9, 1960 (Monday)

May 10, 1960 (Tuesday)

  • The submarine U.S.S. Triton completed its circumnavigation of the globe, after an 84-day voyage that followed the route of Ferdinand Magellan's expedition of 1519–1522.[24]
  • John F. Kennedy defeated Hubert Humphrey in the West Virginia primary election, winning the predominantly Protestant state and dispelling doubts about whether Americans would support a Roman Catholic nominee. The win was Senator Kennedy's seventh in the primaries. At 1:08 a.m. the next day, Humphrey conceded defeat, and then said "I am no longer a candidate for the Democratic Presidential nomination," leaving Senator Kennedy unopposed.[25]
  • Nashville became the first major city in the United States to desegregate its lunch counters.[26]
  • Born: Bono, Irish rock singer, in Dublin, as Paul David Hewson; and Merlene Ottey, Jamaican women's 200 m champion, in Hanover, Jamaica
  • Died: Yury Olesha, 61, Russian novelist

May 11, 1960 (Wednesday)

  • In Buenos Aires, four Mossad agents abducted fugitive Nazi Adolf Eichmann a/k/a "Ricardo Klement", shortly after he got off of a bus near his home at 8:10 p.m. Eichmann, mastermind of the Jewish Holocaust in Germany, would be held captive for ten days until he could be flown to Israel.[27]
  • At a press conference, President Eisenhower of the United States accepted full responsibility for the U-2 incident, and said that spying on the Soviet Union was justified. "No one wants another Pearl Harbor," he said, adding "In most of the world, no large-scale attack could be prepared in secret, but in the Soviet Union there is a fetish of secrecy, and concealment."[28]
  • The passenger liner SS France was launched at Saint-Nazaire by Madame Yvonne de Gaulle, wife of the French president.[29]
  • Died: John D. Rockefeller, Jr., 86, American philanthropist who gave away $475,000,000 of his inheritance during his lifetime.

May 12, 1960 (Thursday)

  • Soviet Premier Khrushchev said in a statement that if the United States made further overflights of the U.S.S.R., "this might lead to war" and then added that further aggression would be met "with atom bombs in the first few minutes".[30]
  • By order of U.S. Defense Secretary Thomas S. Gates, the Defense Communications Agency was established.[31]
  • The capsizing of a boat, on the Krishna River in India's Andhara Pradesh state, drowned at least 60 people.[3]
  • Died: Prince Aly Khan, 48, Pakistan's "playboy turned diplomat", died of massive head injuries after his Lancia sports car collided with a sedan in the Parisian suburb of Suresnes, France. The other driver, Herve Bichaton, was reportedly on the wrong side of the road.[32]

May 13, 1960 (Friday)

  • Black Friday (1960) – A group of 200 students, mostly white, assembled inside the San Francisco City Hall to protest against the House Un-American Activities Committee. Taking a cue from African-American protesters, they staged a sit-in. The city police dispersed the crowd with fire hoses and clubs, but the students' defiance was dramatic. Between 1,500 and 2,000 persons picketed the last session of the Committee's hearings, and another 3,500 predominantly anti-Committee spectators massed outside the building.[33] As one author notes, "No one had previously dared confront HUAC so brazenly; most Americans were terrified of even coming into contact with the committee."[34]
  • A six-member team of Swiss, Austrian and Bhutanese climbers, were the first to reach the top of Dhaulagiri, at 8,167 m (26,794 ft), the world's seventh highest mountain.[35]
  • The first launch of the 91-foot-tall (28 m) Delta rocket failed, when the third stage did not ignite, but was followed by 15 consecutive successful launches.[36]

May 14, 1960 (Saturday)

  • U.S. President Eisenhower flew to Paris for the scheduled Four Power Summit, after President DeGaulle of France verified that Soviet Premier Khrushchev still wanted to convene the meeting. The talks broke off shortly after DeGaulle called them to order two days later.[37]

May 15, 1960 (Sunday)

  • While in Paris with President Eisenhower on the first day of a summit with Soviet Premier Khrushchev, U.S. Secretary of Defense Thomas S. Gates, Jr. ordered a test of the American military alert system. Declassified documents would later show that Gates's order at 0033 UTC for "a high state of command readiness" was misunderstood, and that within half an hour, the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff placed troops worldwide at DEFCON 3 status.[38] The American public learned of the alert when Lowry Air Force Base asked police to locate key personnel, and the police asked Denver radio station KOA (AM) and KOA-TV to assist. The message that followed- "All fighter pilots F-101 and fighter pilots F-102... Doe Three Alert, Hotcake One and Hotcake Six, scramble at Lowry immediately." was heard by thousands of Denver listeners.[39]
  • The Soviet Union launched Sputnik IV, a five-ton mockup of a manned spaceship, as a prelude to putting human beings into outer space.[40] The satellite was "manned" by a heavy life-size dummy, luckily; the retrorockets fired in the wrong direction, sending the ship into a higher orbit rather than returning it to Earth.[41] The satellite would re-enter Earth's atmosphere on September 5, 1962, with a 20-pound fragment landing at the intersection of North 8th Street and Park Street in Manitowoc, Wisconsin.[42]
  • The new Convair 880 made its first passenger flight, for Delta Air Lines.[43]

May 16, 1960 (Monday)

  • At Hughes Research Laboratory in Malibu, California, physicist Theodore Maiman focused a high-powered flash lamp on a silver-coated ruby rod, and created the first working laser.[44]
  • Shortly after the Four Power Summit in Paris was opened by France's President DeGaulle at 11:00 a.m., Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev demanded the right to speak, and then delivered an angry tirade, which ended with a cancellation of the invitation for President Eisenhower to visit the U.S.S.R. beginning June 10. The summit ended at 2:00 pm, and Khrushchev did not show up for further meetings. Eisenhower, Khrushchev and Britain's Prime Minister Macmillan left France three days later.[45]

May 17, 1960 (Tuesday)

May 18, 1960 (Wednesday)

  • The 132nd and last original broadcast of the landmark American TV series Playhouse 90, was shown on CBS, with the telecast of "In the Presence of Mine Enemies".[48]
  • Born: Jari Kurri, Finnish ice hockey player, in Helsinki; Yannick Noah, French tennis player, in Sedan

May 19, 1960 (Thursday)

May 20, 1960 (Friday)

  • In Japan, the lower house of the Diet of Japan voted at 12:17 a.m. to ratify the new security treaty with the United States, but only after police removed Socialist members who had blockaded Speaker Ichiro Kiyosein in his office.[51] Petitions against the unpopular treaty had gathered 1,900,000 names.

May 21, 1960 (Saturday)

  • PFC Buzo Minagawa of Japan, was captured in a jungle at Guam, where he had been sent in 1944 as part of the 3219th artillery during World War II. Through interpreters, Minagawa said that he still couldn't believe that Japan had lost the war.[52] His companion, Masashi Ito, was found two days later on May 23, and both men were welcomed home on May 28.[53]
  • An El Al flight took off from Buenos Aires at 12:05 a.m., with kidnapped Nazi fugitive Adolf Eichmann safely on board, to face trial for the Holocaust in Israel.[27]
  • Born: Jeffrey Dahmer, American serial killer, in Milwaukee (d. 1994)

May 22, 1960 (Sunday)

  • Great Chilean earthquake: At 3:11 pm local time (1911 GMT) the largest earthquake of the 20th century struck near Valdivia. Based on seismographic data, the tremor was later calculated to be at 9.5 on the Richter scale. The quake killed 1,655 people immediately in Chile, and its aftershocks killed another 4,000 people. Two million were left homeless, and the shock sent tsunamis that killed people as far away as Japan.[54]
  • Adolf Eichmann arrived in Israel at 7:35 a.m., roughly 24 hours after he had been spirited out of Argentina.[55]
  • Born: Hideaki Anno, Japanese film director, in Ube

May 23, 1960 (Monday)

May 24, 1960 (Tuesday)

  • Tsunamis from the Chilean earthquake, 8,000 miles away, struck the coast of Japan at Hokkaido, Sanriku and Kii, killing 119 people and washing away 2,800 homes.[59]
  • The United States launched the Midas II satellite, the first designed to detect missile launches. "Midas" was an acronym for Missile Defense Alarm System.[60]
  • Thirty-eight hours after the 1960 Valdivia earthquake in Chile, the volcano Cordón Caulle began a rhyodacitic fissure eruption.[61]
  • Born: Kristin Scott Thomas, English actress, in Redruth

May 25, 1960 (Wednesday)

May 26, 1960 (Thursday)

May 27, 1960 (Friday)

  • In Turkey, the army staged a coup d'état, led by General Cemal Gürsel, and arrested President Celal Bayar and Prime Minister Adnan Menderes.[64] General Gürsel assumed both offices and replaced the legislature with 37 officers who formed the Milli Birlik Komitesi (Committee of National Unity).[65] Menderes, Foreign Minister Fatin Rustu Zorlu and Finance Minister Hasan Polatkan were later hanged, while Bayar was released after three years imprisonment.[66]
  • Ireland's Grand Canal, connecting Dublin to Limerick, was closed after 156 years.
  • Dayton J. Lalonde completed a solo voyage from Los Angeles to Sydney after having been at sea on his sailboat, the Craig.[67]
  • King Hassan II of Morocco dismissed Prime Minister Abdallah Ibrahim and Ibrahim's ministers, then took on the additional job of Prime Minister of Morocco[68]

May 28, 1960 (Saturday)

May 29, 1960 (Sunday)

May 30, 1960 (Monday)

May 31, 1960 (Tuesday)


  1. Norman Polmar, Spyplane: The U-2 History Declassified (MBI, 2000), p134; Paul F. Crickmore, Lockheed Blackbird: Beyond the Secret Missions (Osprey, 2004), p20
  2. Gregory W. Pedlow and Donald E. Welzenbach, The CIA and the U-2 Program, 1954–1974 (Central Intelligence Agency, 1998), pp176–177
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 "Chronology May 1960", The World Almanac and book of facts, 1961 (New York World-Telegram, 1960), pp168–172
  4. J.C. Aggarwal and S.P. Agrawal, Uttarakhand: Past, Present, and Future (Concept Publishing, 1995), pp89–90
  5. "Caryl Chessman Executed; Last-Minute Stay Mixup", Oakland Tribune, May 2, 1960, p1
  6. Ray B. Browne and Pat Browne, eds. The Guide to United States Popular Culture (Bowling Green State University Popular Press, 2001), p93
  7. "Mock Attack Silences U.S. Radio and TV", Oakland Tribune, May 3, 1960, p1
  8. Dee Garrison, Bracing for Armageddon: Why Civil Defense Never Worked (Oxford University Press, 2006), pp98–99
  9. J.A.S. Grenville and Bernard Wasserstein, The Major International Treaties of the Twentieth Century: A History and Guide with Texts (Taylor & Francis, 2001) p524
  10. Robert Viagas, The Back Stage Guide to Broadway (Back Stage Books, 2004), p5
  11. Derek Gentile, Splitters, Squeezes, and Steals: The Plays, Strategies, and Rules of Baseball (Black Dog & Leventhal, 2009), p216
  12. "Lucille Ball Wins Divorce From Desi", Oakland Tribune, May 4, 1960, p1
  13. "Soviets Down U.S. Plane; Unarmed, State Dept. Says", Oakland Tribune, May 5, 1960, p1
  14. Jay Robert Nash, The Great Pictorial History of World Crime (Scarecrow Press, 2004), pp98–99
  15. "Ike Signs Civil Rights Bill Keyed to Guard Negro Vote", Oakland Tribune, May 6, 1960, p1 ; Nina M. Moore, Governing Race: Policy, Process, and the Politics of Race (Praeger, 2000), p45
  16. "27 Killed, 250 Hurt by Tornadoes", Oakland Tribune, May 7, 1960, p1
  17. "Princess Margaret Weds in Splendor", Oakland Tribune, May 7, 1960, p1
  18. "Voroshilov Resigns Russian Presidency", Oakland Tribune, May 7, 1960, p1
  19. "Khrushchev Says Downed U.S. Pilot Is Spy, May Order Trial", Oakland Tribune, May 7, 1960, p1
  20. "Officials in Washington Amazed at Soviet Charges; Relations Further Strained", Oakland Tribune, May 7, 1960, p1
  21. "Jet Crash Kills 11", Oakland Tribune, May 9, 1960, p1
  22. Irving Louis Horowitz, ed., Cuban Communism (Transaction Books, 1987) pp142, 623
  23. "U.S. Approves Pill For Birth Control", New York Times, May 10, 1960, p75
  24. "A-Sub Circles Globe Under Sea", Oakland Tribune, May 10, 1960, p1
  25. "Big Kennedy Victory in W. Virginia", Oakland Tribune, May 11, 1960, p1
  26. Jessie Carney Smith, ed., Encyclopedia of African American Business (Greenwood Press, 2006), pp26–27
  27. 27.0 27.1 Ephraim Kahana, Historical Dictionary of Israeli Intelligence (Scarecrow Press 2006), p84
  28. "Ike Defends Shut-Sky Spies", Salt Lake Tribune, May 12, 1960, p1
  29. Brian J. Cudahy, The Cruise Ship Phenomenon in North America (Cornell Maritime Press, 2001), p213
  30. "Russ Threaten Atomic War; U.S. Note Defends Spy Flights", Oakland Tribune, May 12, 1960, p1
  31. Christopher H. Sterling, Military Communications: From Ancient Times to the 21st Century (ABC-CLIO, 2008), p117
  32. "Aly Khan Mourned By Silent Crowd", Oakland Tribune, May 13, 1960, p1
  33. "HUAC: The Events of May 1960", Free Speech Movement Archives.
  34. Robert J. Bresler, Us vs. Them: American Political and Cultural Conflict from WW II to Watergate (Scholarly Resources, 2000), p42; Matthew Lasar, Pacifica Radio: The Rise of an Alternative Network (Temple University Press, 1999), 186; "General Riot Breaks Out At Red Quiz", Oakland Tribune, May 13, 1960, p1; HUAC May 1960
  35. Ramesh Chandra Bisht, International Encyclopaedia of Himalayas (Vol. 4, Mittal Publications, 2008), p61
  36. Frank H. Winter, Rockets Into space (Harvard University Press, 1990), p87
  37. Stephen E. Ambrose, Ike's Spies: Eisenhower and the Espionage Establishment (University Press of Mississippi, 1999), p288
  38. Sean M. Lynn-Jones, et al., Nuclear Diplomacy and Crisis Management: An International Security Reader (MIT Press, Sep 12, 1990) pp162-166
  39. "Whew! It's Just An Alert", Miami News, May 16, 1960, p1; "Panic After U.S. Military Combat Alert", The Age (Melbourne), May 17, 1960, p1
  40. "Soviets Say 'Spaceship' On Schedule", Oakland Tribune, May 16, 1960, p1
  41. John S. Lewis and Ruth A. Lewis, Space Resources: Breaking the Bonds of Earth (Columbia University Press, 1987), p28
  42. David Wallechinsky and Amy Wallace, The New Book of Lists: The Original Compendium of Curious Information (Canongate, 2005), p568; "Possible Remnant of Soviet Sputnik Found at Manitowoc", Manitowoc Herald-Times, September 6, 1962, p1; "Sputnik 'Dies' In Wisconsin", Salt Lake Tribune, September 7, 1962, p2
  43. Geoff Jones, Delta Air Lines: 75 Years of Airline Excellence (Arcadia, 2003), p42
  44. "The first laser", by Charles H. Townes, in A Century of Nature: Twenty-one Discoveries that Changed Science and the World (University of Chicago Press, 2003), p107
  45. "Summit Parley Collapses; Nikita Cancels Ike Visit", Oakland Tribune, May 16, 1960, p1; E. Bruce Geelhoed and Anthony O. Edmonds, Eisenhower, Macmillan, and Allied Unity: 1957–1961 (Palgrave Macmillan 2002), pp116–123
  46. Fabián Escalante, CIA covert operations 1959–62: The Cuba Project (Ocean Press, 2004), pp48–49
  47. "The Mad Dog Killer", by Mara Bovsun, New York Daily News, January 31, 2009
  48. William Hawes, Filmed Television Drama, 1952–1958 (McFarland, 2002), p136
  49. Dan Smoot, The Invisible Government (BiblioBazaar, LLC, 2008), pp164–165
  50. Elizabeth Ann Weinberg, The Development of Sociology in the Soviet Union (Routledge, 1974), pp83–84
  51. Richard L. Carson, Comparative Economic Systems (M.E. Sharpe, 1990), p445; "Japan House OKs Treaty Despite Riot", Oakland Tribune, May 19, 1960, p1
  52. "Japanese Soldier Finds War's Over", Oakland Tribune, May 21, 1960, p1
  53. Beatrice Trefalt, Japanese Army Stragglers and Memories of the War in Japan, 1950–1975 (Routledge, 2003), pp103–104
  54. "Neotectonics, Seismology and Paleoseismology", by Laura Perucca and Hugo Bastias, in The Late Cenozoic of Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego (Elsevier, 2008), p85
  55. David Cesarani, Becoming Eichmann: Rethinking the Life, Crimes, and Trial of a "Desk Murderer" (Da Capo Press, 2007), p234
  56. Tim Cole, Selling the Holocaust: From Auschwitz to Schindler (Routledge, 2000), p49; "Israelis Capture Top Nazi", Pacific Stars and Stripes, May 24, 1960, p1
  57. Anthony D. Fredericks, Tsunami Man: Learning About Killer Waves with Walter Dudley (University of Hawai'i Press, 2002), pp28–31
  58. Conrad Wright, A Stream of Light: A Short History of American Unitarianism (Skinner House Books, 1989), p154
  59. "A Numerical Model for Far-Field Tsunamis and Its Application to Predict Damages Done to Aquaculture", by Osami Nagano, et al., in Tsunami Hazard: A Practical Guide for Tsunami Hazard Reduction (Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1991), pp235–236
  60. "'Spy-in-Sky' Midas Rocket in Orbit", Oakland Tribune, May 24, 1960, p1
  61. "Chileans Hit By Volcano Erupton", Oakland Tribune, May 23, 1960, p1
  62. "4 New Quakes, Waves Hit Chile", Oakland Tribune, May 25, 1960, p1
  63. "Lodge Bares Soviet Microphone Plant in Embassy at Moscow", Oakland Tribune, May 26, 1960, p1
  64. "Strongman Ousted in Turkish Army Revolt", Oakland Tribune, May 27, 1960, p1
  65. F.R.C. Bagley, The Muslim World: A Historical Survey (E.J. Brill, 1981), p54
  66. "Celal Bayar: Conspiratorial Democrat", by George Harris, in Political Leaders and Democracy in Turkey (Lexington Books 2002), pp51–52
  67. William H. Longyard, A Speck on the Sea: Epic Voyages in the Most Improbable Vessels (International Marine/McGraw-Hill, 2003), p229
  68. Lise Storm, Democratization in Morocco: The political elite and struggles for power in the post-independence state (Routledge, 2007) p18
  69. Scientific and Technical Societies of the United States (National Academy of Sciences, 1968), p53
  70. Jürgen Kleiner, Korea: A Century of Change (World Scientific, 2001), p128
  71. David Cesarani, Becoming Eichmann: Rethinking the Life, Crimes, and Trial of a "Desk Murderer" (Da Capo Press, 2007), p242
  72. Meg Greene, Jane Goodall: A Biography (Greenwood Press, 2005), p45
  73. Hutchinson Encyclopedia