1959 in the United States
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|1959 in the United States|
|Years:||1956 1957 1958 – 1959 – 1960 1961 1962|
49 stars (1959–60)
- President: Dwight D. Eisenhower (R-Kansas/New York)
- Vice President: Richard Nixon (R-California)
- Chief Justice: Earl Warren (California)
- Speaker of the House of Representatives: Sam Rayburn (D-Texas)
- Senate Majority Leader: Lyndon B. Johnson (D-Texas)
- Congress: 85th (until January 3), 86th (starting January 3)
- January 2 – CBS Radio cuts four soap operas: Backstage Wife, Our Gal Sunday, The Road of Life, and This is Nora Drake.
- January 3 – Alaska is admitted as the 49th U.S. state (see History of Alaska).
- January 7 – The United States recognizes the new Cuban government of Fidel Castro.
- January 22 – Knox Mine Disaster: Water breaches the River Slope Mine near Pittston City, Pennsylvania in Port Griffith; 12 miners are killed.
- January 29 – Walt Disney releases his 16th animated film, Sleeping Beauty in Beverly Hills.
- February 3 – A chartered plane transporting musicians Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and The Big Bopper goes down in foggy conditions near Clear Lake, Iowa, killing all 4 occupants on board, including pilot Roger Peterson. The tragedy is later termed "The Day the Music Died", popularized in Don McLean's 1972 song "American Pie".
- February 6 – At Cape Canaveral, Florida, the first successful test firing of a Titan intercontinental ballistic missile is accomplished.
- February 17 – The United States launches the Vanguard II weather satellite.
- February 22 – Lee Petty wins the first Daytona 500.
- March 1 – The USS Tuscaloosa, USS New Orleans, USS Tennessee and USS West Virginia are struck from the Naval Vessel Register.
- March 11 – A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry opens on Broadway in New York City.
- March 18 – American President Dwight D. Eisenhower signs a bill allowing for Hawaiian statehood.
- March 31 – Busch Gardens in Tampa, Florida is dedicated and opens its gates.
- April 6 – The 31st Academy Awards ceremony is held.
- April 9 – NASA announces its selection of the "Mercury Seven", seven military pilots to become the first U.S. astronauts.
- April 25 – The St. Lawrence Seaway linking the North American Great Lakes and the Atlantic Ocean officially opens to shipping.
- June 8 – The USS Barbero and United States Postal Service attempt the delivery of mail via Missile Mail.
- June 9 – The USS George Washington is launched as the first submarine to carry ballistic missiles.
- June 23 – Convicted Manhattan Project spy Klaus Fuchs is released after only 9 years in a British prison and allowed to emigrate to Dresden, East Germany (where he resumes a scientific career).
- June 26
- July 4 – With the admission of Alaska as the 49th U.S. state earlier in the year, the 49-star flag of the United States debuts in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
- July 8 – Charles Ovnand and Dale R. Buis become the first Americans killed in action in Vietnam.
- July 15 – Steel strike of 1959: Labor union strike in the U.S. steel industry.
- July 24 – At the opening of the American National Exhibition in Moscow, U.S. Vice President Richard Nixon and USSR Premier Nikita Khrushchev have a "kitchen debate."
- August 7
- August 17
- August 21 – Hawaii is admitted as the 50th and last U.S. state (see History of Hawaii).
- October 2 – Rod Serling's classic anthology series The Twilight Zone premieres on CBS.
- October 13 – Launch of Explorer 7.
- October 21 – In New York City, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (designed by Frank Lloyd Wright) opens to the public.
- November 15 – The Clutter family of Holcomb, Kansas is brutally murdered.
- November 18 – MGM's widescreen, multimillion-dollar, Technicolor version of Ben-Hur, starring Charlton Heston, is released and becomes the studio's greatest hit up to that time. It is critically acclaimed and eventually wins 11 Academy Awards – a record held until 1998, when 1997's Titanic becomes the first film to equal the record.
- December 1 – Cold War – Antarctic Treaty: 12 countries, including the United States and the Soviet Union, sign a landmark treaty, which sets aside Antarctica as a scientific preserve and bans military activity on that continent (the first arms control agreement established during the Cold War).
- December 13 – Three years after its first telecast, MGM's The Wizard of Oz is shown on television for only the second time, but it gains an even larger viewing audience than its first television outing, spurring CBS to make it an annual tradition.
- The Henney Kilowatt goes on sale in the United States, becoming the first mass-produced electric car in almost three decades.
- January 2 – Joe Bevilacqua, radio producer and dramatist
- January 10 – Larry McReynolds, auto racing commentator
- January 27 – Keith Olbermann, television sports and political commentator
- January 28 – Megan McDonald, children's author
- January 29 – Michael Sloane, actor, director, and screenwriter
- February 4 – Pamelyn Ferdin, actress and activist
- February 14 – Renée Fleming, soprano
- February 22 – Kyle MacLachlan, actor
- March 17 – Christian Clemenson, actor
- March 22 – Matthew Modine, actor
- April 3 – David Hyde Pierce, actor
- April 15 – Thomas F. Wilson, actor, writer, musician, painter, voice-over artist, stand-up comedian and podcaster
- May 5 – Brian Williams, television journalist
- May 8 – Ronnie Lott, American football player and sportscaster
- May 17 – Jim Nantz, sportscaster
- May 19 – Nicole Brown Simpson, second wife of American football player and actor O. J. Simpson and murder victim (k. 1994)
- May 21 – Loretta Lynch, 83rd U.S. Attorney General from 2015
- June 6 – Paul Germain, television screenwriter and producer
- June 10 – Eliot Spitzer, Governor of New York from 2007 to 2008
- June 11 – Magnum T.A. (Terry Allen), wrestler
- June 14 – Marcus Miller, African American jazz musician
- July 6 – Glenn Kessler, journalist
- July 7 – Ben Linder, engineer (d. 1987)
- July 14 – Susana Martinez, Governor of New Mexico from 2011
- July 23 – Carl Phillips, poet
- July 26 – Kevin Spacey, actor and director
- August 10 – Rosanna Arquette, actress
- August 14
- August 15 – Scott Altman, astronaut
- August 17
- August 19 – Anthony Sowell, serial killer
- August 21 – Jim McMahon, American football player
- August 26 – Stan Van Gundy, basketball coach
- September 12 – Scott Brown, U.S. Senator from Massachusetts from 2010 to 2013
- September 15 – Mark Kirk, U.S. Senator from Illinois from 2010
- September 22 – Saul Perlmutter, astrophysicist, recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2011
- September 23 – Jason Alexander, actor
- October 1 – Brian P. Cleary, humorist, author and poet
- October 3
- October 5 – David Shannon, writer and illustrator
- October 10 – Maya Lin, designer and artist
- October 13 – Marie Osmond, country pop singer
- October 23
- November 19 – Allison Janney, actress
- November 20 – Sean Young, actress
- December 2 – David Alward, 32nd Premier of New Brunswick 2010-2014
- December 21 – Florence Griffith Joyner, African American athlete (d. 1998)
- December 25 – Michael P. Anderson, astronaut (d. 2003)
- January 20 – Carl Switzer, actor, shot to death (born 1927)
- January 21 – Cecil B. DeMille, American film director (born 1881)
- February 3
- February 20 – Ray McDonald, dancer, dies of barbiturate overdose at 38 (born 1920)
- February 22 – Helen Parrish, American actress, dies of cancer (born 1924)
- March 3 – Lou Costello, actor and comedian, part of Abbott & Costello team, (born 1906)
- March 4 – Maxey Long, American athlete (born 1878)
- March 16 – John Sailing, last documented Civil War vet, dies at 111
- April 9 – Frank Lloyd Wright, architect, interior designer, writer and educator (born 1867)
- April 27 – Gordon Armstrong, inventor (baby incubator)
- May 26 – Joe Kelly, TV host (Quiz Kids), dies at 57 (born 1902)
- June 16 – George Reeves, actor, shot to death (born 1914)
- June 18 – Ethel Barrymore, American actress (born 1879)
- June 25 – Charles Starkweather, spree killer (born 1938)
- July 8
- July 17 – Billie Holiday, Jazz Singer (b. 1915)
- August 16 – William "Bull" F Halsey, US vice-admiral (WW II Pacific) (born 1882)
- October 7 – Mario Lanza, opera singer, heart attack (born 1921)
- October 14 – Errol Flynn, Australian-born American actor, heart attack (born 1909)
- October 16 – George C Marshall, American army general, (born 1880)
- November 21 – Max Baer, American heavyweight boxing champ (born 1909)
- Media related to 1959 in the United States at Wikimedia Commons