May 1963

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The following events occurred in May 1963:

May 1, 1963 (Wednesday)

  • West New Guinea, the last remaining Netherlands possession in what had been the Dutch East Indies, was formally transferred to Indonesian control by the United Nations in ceremonies at Hollandia. The Indonesians renamed the territory West Irian, and Hollandia was renamed Kotabaru.[1]
  • Sir Winston Churchill announced his retirement from politics at the age of 88, for reasons of health. He pledged that he would remain an M.P. until Parliament was dissolved, but would not stand for re-election.[2]
  • American mountaineer Jim Whittaker and Sherpa guide Nawang Gombu became the fifth and sixth persons to successfully reach the top of Mount Everest, following Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay (May 29, 1953), and Ernst Reiss and Fritz Luchsinger (May 18, 1957). Whittaker, a 32-year-old resident of Redmond, Washington, became the first American to accomplish the feat.[3]
  • Former U.S. Vice-President (and future President) Richard M. Nixon continued his retirement from politics with the announcement that he would join the New York City law firm of Mudge, Stern, Baldwin & Todd on June 1.[4]
  • Died: Lope K. Santos, 83, Filipino writer and politician

May 2, 1963 (Thursday)

  • Hundreds of African Americans, including children, were arrested as they set out from the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama to protest segregation.[5] There were 959 people taken on the first day, and two days later, Public Safety Commissioner Eugene "Bull" Connor ordered the use of dogs and fire hoses to repel new demonstrators, images of which were picked up by news media around the world. "Civil Rights Coverage", in The Encyclopedia of Television News, Michael D. Murray, ed. (Greenwood Publishing Group, 1999) p45
  • Near Cuxhaven, Berthold Seliger launched a three-stage rocket with a maximum flight altitude of more than 62 miles. This was the only sounding rocket developed in Germany.

May 3, 1963 (Friday)

  • A Cruzeiro do Sul Convair 340-59 registration PP-CDW plane, flying from São Paulo-Congonhas to Rio de Janeiro-Santos Dumont with 50 people on board, was forced to return to São Paulo after its no. 2 engine caught fire. On its final approach to touchdown, the aircraft nosed up 45°, stalled and struck a house, killing 37 people.[6]
  • On the same day, an Air Afrique Douglas DC-6B crashed into Mount Cameroon less than half an hour after takeoff from Douala, bound for Lagos, killing all 55 people on board. Blame for the accident was placed on the pilot's decision to descend from 16,500 feet to 6,500 feet while flying toward the 13,000 foot high mountain.[7]
  • Condingup, in Western Australia, was declared a townsite.[8]

May 4, 1963 (Saturday)

  • The sinking of a motor launch on the Nile River drowned more than 185 people in Egypt, nearly all of them Moslem pilgrims who were beginning the journey to Mecca from the city of Maghagha. The boat's capacity was only 80 people, but more than 200 people crowded on board to make the trip. Among the 15 people who survived were the boat's captain, its owner and its conductor, who were all jailed while the matter was investigated.[9]
  • The Le Monde Theater fire in Dioirbel, Senegal, killed 64 people.
  • New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller secretly married his girlfriend, Margaretta "Happy" Murphy, despite being advised that his remarriage, after divorcing the year before, would hurt his chances for the Republican Party nomination for the U.S. presidency.[10] Television comedian Carol Burnett, 28, married television producer Joe Hamilton in a ceremony in Juarez, Mexico, on the same day, after Hamilton had obtained "a quickie Mexican divorce".[11]
  • High pressure water hoses and police dogs were used by police to disperse a crowd of more than 1,000 African-American protesters in Birmingham, Alabama.[12]
  • Died: Dickey Kerr, 69, American baseball pitcher for the Chicago White Sox, praised later for remaining honest during the corrupt Black Sox Scandal in 1919.

May 5, 1963 (Sunday)

  • After 18 years of denial, the Soviet Union confirmed that it had recovered and identified the burned remains of Adolf Hitler on April 30, 1945.[13] Marshal Vasily Sokolovsky, the Chief of Operations during the Battle of Berlin, publicly disclosed the details to American researcher Cornelius Ryan and allowed him and unprecedented access to to classified documents, and allowed him and English historian John Erickson to interview fifty top-ranking officials. Sokolovsky told Ryan, "You should be informed that the Soviet Union officially regards Hitler as dead." Previously, the official Soviet position had been that of the Soviet commander, Georgy Zhukov, who had said, "We have found no body definitely identifed as Hitler's. For all we know, he may be in Spain or Argentina."
  • Celebrations were held in the city of Huế in South Vietnam, to honor the ordination of Ngo Dinh Thuc, elder brother of President Ngo Dinh Diem, as the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Huế. In advance of the event, the President decreed that religious banners could not be displayed above the national flag, a rule that would lead to tragedy at a Buddhist celebration three days later.
  • Graduate student Beverly Samans, 23, became the tenth murder victim of Albert DeSalvo. Unlike the first nine Boston Strangler victims, Samans was stabbed repeatedly, although he repeated his modus operandi of strangling a woman with her own stocking.[14] Her body was discovered three days later.[15]
  • The 4th Pan American Games drew to a close in São Paulo, Brazil.

May 6, 1963 (Monday)

May 7, 1963 (Tuesday)

May 8, 1963 (Wednesday)

May 9, 1963 (Thursday)

  • After the first six attempts at a successful launch of the MIDAS (Missile Defense Alarm System) satellite failed, MIDAS 7 was successfully placed into a polar orbit. During the first three years of attempts, three of the satellites failed to reach orbit, while the other three were plagued with power failures. MIDAS 7 would operate for 47 days, and would detecting nine Soviet missile launches.[19]
  • The 1963 Cannes Film Festival opened.

May 10, 1963 (Friday)

  • A settlement was reached between the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and the leading business owners of Birmingham, Alabama, with the SCLC agreeing to call off its boycott of local retailers, who in return "agreed to desegregate lunch counters, rest rooms, fitting rooms and drinking fountains" and to hire more African-Americans for sales and clerical jobs.[20]
  • Author Maurice Sendak, working on his first book for children, made the decision to abandon his original title, Where the Wild Horses Are, after concluding that horses were too difficult to draw, and changed the characters in the book to friendly monsters. The book, Where the Wild Things Are, would become a Caldecott Medal winning bestseller and launch Sendak's career.[21]
  • Born: Sławomir Skrzypek, Polish financier, in Katowice (killed in the 2010 Polish Air Force Tu-154 crash)
  • Died: Léonce Crenier, 74, French Catholic monk who promoted the theological/political concept of Precarity
  • Died: Eugene Lipscomb, 31, American NFL player for the Pittsburgh Steelers, of a heroin overdose

May 11, 1963 (Saturday)

May 12, 1963 (Sunday)

May 13, 1963 (Monday)

May 14, 1963 (Tuesday)

May 15, 1963 (Wednesday)

May 16, 1963 (Thursday)

  • Astronaut Gordon Cooper returned to Earth safely after making 22 orbits and traveling 546,167 miles in Faith 7. During his 34 hours[28]
  • The 26th Canadian Parliament began its session.
  • The fourth legislature of the Italian Republic opened.
  • Died: Oleg Penkovsky, 44, formerly a Soviet Army colonel and spy, was executed five days after being sentenced to death by a military tribunal for passing secrets to the United States and the United Kingdom.[29]

May 17, 1963 (Friday)

  • Challenger Bruno Sammartino faced champion Buddy Rogers of the World Wide Wrestling Federation (now WWE) in a professional wrestling match at New York's Madison Square Garden. Sammartino, using his signature move, "the Italian backbreaker", defeated Rogers in only 48 seconds, and would reign as the WWWF champion for the next eight years.[30]
  • A U.S. Army OH-23 helicopter with two men on board, Captains Ben W. Stutts and Charleton W. Voltz, was shot down by North Korean ground forces after straying north of the Demilitarized Zone.[31] The two men would be freed, after 365 days imprisonment, on May 16, 1964, following the United Nations Command agreeing to sign a statement that the Stutts and Voltz had committed espionage, but declined to return the helicopter.[32]
  • In Germany, the Regensburg trolleybus system went out of service.

May 18, 1963 (Saturday)

  • Sukarno (sometimes referred to as Ahmed Sukarno) was named as President for Life of Indonesia. Sukarno, who had ruled since 1945, would serve for another four years before being deposed, and would spend the rest of his life afterward under house arrest, dying on June 21, 1970.[33]
  • The 1963 European Judo Championships were held in Geneva, Switzerland.
  • Died: Ernie Davis, 23, African-American football star who won the 1961 Heisman Trophy, but was diagnosed with leukemia after signing with the Cleveland Browns

May 19, 1963 (Sunday)

May 20, 1963 (Monday)

May 21, 1963 (Tuesday)

May 22, 1963 (Wednesday)

  • Greek anti-Fascist politician Grigoris Lambrakis, shortly after delivering the keynote speech at an anti-war meeting in Thessaloniki, was run down by a trikyklo (a three-wheeled delivery truck) and then clubbed to death by hired killers. Lambrakis suffered brain injuries and died in the hospital five days later. The assassination would become the basis for a novel by Vassilis Vassilikos, which later was adapted to the film Z.[39]
  • The American Football League team owner Lamar Hunt of the Dallas Texans agrees to move the club to the Kansas City, MO-KS area and rename them the Kansas City Chiefs. The AFL trustees approve the move a week later.

May 23, 1963 (Thursday)

May 24, 1963 (Friday)

  • Baldwin–Kennedy meeting: Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy invited James Baldwin and other Black leaders to discuss race relations at his apartment in Manhattan. The turbulent meeting gained wide publicity and had a significant impact on Kennedy.[41]
  • Project Emily: In the UK, the Hemswell Group of RAF Strategic Missile (SM) stations and squadrons was disbanded.
  • The New York Journal-American said in a copyrighted story that NASA had revealed in a closed session of a congressional subcommittee that there had been five fatalities in the Soviet cosmonaut program, all of which had been covered up. According to the source, Serenty Shiborin had been the first man in space, launched in February 1959 and "never heard of again after 28 minutes when the signals went dead". Other failed launches were said to have been Piotr Dolgov on October 11, 1960; Vassilievitch Zowodovsky in April 1961; and two persons, possibly a man and a woman, launched together on May 17, 1961.[42] Alexei Adzhubei, the editor of the newspaper Izvestia and the son-in-law of Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev, denied the reports of four of the five deaths in the newspaper's May 27 edition, saying that the persons had been "technicians working on space equipment" and that two of them were still alive, although no denial was made about the alleged 1959 death of Siborin.[43]
  • Born: Michael Chabon, American novelist (The Mysteries of Pittsburgh), in Washington DC
  • Died: Elmore James, 45, American blues musician (heart attack)

May 25, 1963 (Saturday)

  • The Organization of African Unity (OAU) was established in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, by representatives from 32 African nations.[44] On July 9, 2002, the OAU, by then with 53 members, would be replaced by the African Union.[45]
  • At the track and field competition for six universities in what is now the Pac-12 Conference, Phil Shinnick jumped 27 feet, 4 inches in the long jump, 3/4 inch ahead of the world record set by Igor Ter-Ovanesyan, but "two officials, whose only duty was to place the wind gauge on the long jump runway and watch it to make sure the wind was blowing at less than the allowable limit, were not paying attention"[46] so the mark was not submitted as a world record.
  • Aldo Moro was asked to become the new Prime Minister of Italy by President Antonio Segni.[47]
  • Born: Mike Myers, Canadian actor and comedian, in Scarborough, Ontario

May 26, 1963 (Sunday)

May 27, 1963 (Monday)

May 28, 1963 (Tuesday)

May 29, 1963 (Wednesday)

May 30, 1963 (Thursday)

  • The initial announcements were made for the first diet drink manufactured by the Coca-Cola Company, with TaB cola, with "one calorie per six-ounce serving".[52]
  • Parnelli Jones of the United States won the 1963 Indianapolis 500, finishing 34 seconds ahead of Jim Clark of Scotland.[53]
  • Buddhist crisis, 1963: More than 500 monks demonstrated in front of Vietnam's National Assembly building in Saigon, evading a ban on public assembly by hiring four buses and pulling the blinds down. It was the first open protest against President Ngô Đình Diệm's regime since he came into power eight years earlier.

May 31, 1963 (Friday)


  1. "Indonesia Takes Over Half Island", Miami News, May , 1963, p4A
  2. "Churchill Quitting Politics", Miami News, May 2, 1963, p1
  3. "Yank Team On Top Of The World", Miami News, May 2, 1963, p1; "Conquest Of Everest Led By Sherpa Guide", Miami News, May 3, 1963, p1
  4. "Nixon Moving To New York", Miami News, May 2, 1963, p1
  5. "Alabama Children Jam Jails", Miami News, May 7, 1963, p1
  6. "Accident description PP-CDW." Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved: August 17, 2011
  7. Aviation Safety Network
  8. "New Townsite — Condingup (per 484/60)". Western Australia Government Gazette. 3 May 1963. p. 1963:1182.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. "185 Drown In Nile As Boat Sinks", Miami News, May 5, 1963, p1
  10. "Rocky's Bridey Murphy!", Miami News, May 5, 1963, p1.
  11. "Carol Burnett Marries", Miami News, May 5, 1963, p1
  12. "1,000 Negroes Defy Alabama Police In Wild Protest", Miami News, May 5, 1963, p1
  13. "Russians Admit They Recovered Hitler's Body", UPI report by Henry Shapiro, Bridgeport (CT) Telegram, May 6, 1963, p1
  14. Peter Vronsky, Serial Killers: The Method and Madness of Monsters (Penguin, 2004)
  15. "Ninth Victim Found Slain", San Antonio Express, May 9, 1963, p7-A
  16. The Crimson Takes Leary, Alpert to Task by Joseph M. Russin and Andrew T. Weil, January 24, 1973 The Harvard Crimson
  18. L. Shelton Woods, Vietnam: A Global Studies Handbook (ABC-CLIO, 2002) pp 150-151
  19. "Defense Support Program (DSP) and Missile Detection, in Air Warfare: An International Encyclopedia, Volume Two, Walter J. Boyne, ed. (ABC-CLIO, 2002) pp170-171
  20. James Waller, Prejudice Across America (University Press of Mississippi, 2000) p187
  21. Claudette Hegel, Newbery and Caldecott: Trivia and More for Every Day of the Year (Libraries Unlimited, 2000) p45
  22. "U.S., Canada Agree on A-Weapons", Miami News, May 12, 1963, p1
  23. Daniel Mark Epstein, The Ballad of Bob Dylan: A Portrait (HarperCollins, 2011); "Television Is the 'American Timid Giant', El Paso Herald Post, May 15, 1963, pA-10
  24. Nakamura, Ken (2010-03-05). Course record in jeopardy at Lake Biwa Marathon? - Preview. IAAF. Retrieved on 2010-03-08.
  25. "O'Donnell, Peter", in Encyclopedia of Pulp Fiction Writers, Lee Server, ed. (Infobase Publishing, 2009) p201
  26. Thomas Forget, Rock & Roll Hall of Famers: The Rolling Stones (Rosen Publishing Group, 2002) p13
  27. "WE FLY COOP!", Miami News, May 15, 1963, p1
  28. "COOPER SPLASHDOWN PERFECT, NAVIGATES RE-ENTRY MANUALLY", Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, May 17, 1963, p1; William E. Burrows, This New Ocean: The Story of the First Space Age (Random House Digital, 1999) p343
  29. Robert Wallace, et al., Spycraft: The Secret History of the CIA's Spytechs from Communism to Al-Qaeda (Penguin, 2008) p31
  30. Kevin Sullivan, The WWE Championship: A Look Back at the Rich History of the WWE Championship (Simon and Schuster, 2010) p10
  31. "Korean Reds Shoot Down U.S. Copter", , Miami News, May 17, 1963, p1
  32. Chuck Downs, Over the Line: North Korea's Negotiating Strategy (American Enterprise Institute, 1999) pp112-113; "Korean Reds Release Two U. S. Pilots", Tucson (AZ) Daily Citizen, May 16, 1964, p1
  33. "Sukarno, Achmed", in An Encyclopedic Dictionary of Conflict and Conflict Resolution, 1945-1996, John E. Jessup, ed. (Greenwood Publishing Group, 1998) pp701-703
  34. "History of the World Chess Championship: Botvinnik vs Petrosian 1963"
  35. Michele Hilmes, Only Connect: A Cultural History of Broadcasting in the United States (Cengage Learning, 2010) p269
  36. Alexander, E. G. M., Barron G. K. B. and Bateman, A. J. (1986). South African Orders, Decorations and Medals. Human and Rousseau
  37. Jim Futrell, Amusement Parks of Pennsylvania (Stackpole Books, 2002) pp171-172
  38. "Israel Elects Russ-Born Zalman Shazar President", Tucson (AZ) Daily Citizen May 21, 1963, p1
  39. John Taylor, Into the Heart of European Poetry (Transaction Publishers, 2010) p161
  40. James A. Walker, et al., Seize the High Ground: The Army in Space and Missile Defense (Government Printing Office, 2003) p47
  41. "Negroes shocked by Robert Kennedy's 'naivete'." Washington Post, May 25, 1963. Accessed via ProQuest; "Robert Kennedy Fails to Sway Negroes at Secret Talks Here", New York Times May 26, 1963; accessed via ProQuest May 21, 2013.
  42. "RUSSIAN DEATHS IN SPACE", Miami News, May 24, 1963, p1
  43. "Reds Deny Four Died In Space", Miami News, May 28, 1963, p1
  44. "The United States Of Africa — A Plan", Miami News, May 26, 1963, p1
  45. "The African Union", by Max du Plessis, in International Law: A South African Perspective (Kluwer, 2006) p546
  46. Jim Daves and W. Thomas Porter, The Glory of Washington: The People and Events That Shaped Husky Athletic Tradition (Sports Publishing LLC, 2001) p189
  47. "Aldo Moro Next Chief Of Italy", Miami News, May 26, 1963, p1
  48. "Kenya: 1963 House of Representatives election results" Electoral Institute for the Sustainability of Democracy in Africa
  49. Thomas P. Grazulis, The Tornado: Nature's Ultimate Windstorm (University of Oklahoma Press, 2003) pp33-34
  50. Rizwan Hussain, Pakistan And The Emergence Of Islamic Militancy In Afghanistan (Ashgate Publishing, 2005) p73
  51. "Bangladesh", in Encyclopedia of Hurricanes, Typhoons, and Cyclones, David Longshore, ed. (Infobase Publishing, 2009) p39; "22,000 Dead After Cyclone", Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, June 3, 1963, p1
  52. "New Low Calorie TAB Goes on Market Soon", Thomasville (NC) Times Enterprise May 30, 1963, p8; Advertising began in the June 6 issues of some newspapers, including the Arlington Heights (IL) Herald, where the beverage was promoted as a substitute for cola in mixed drinks.
  53. "Parnelli Jones Stunned, Dazed And Lot Richer", Miami News, May 31, 1963, p1C