April 1959

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April 2, 1959: The first seven American astronauts selected from 110 candidates
April 18, 1959: Corvette Stingray introduced
April 10, 1959: Royal Wedding in Japan
April 9, 1959: Frank Lloyd Wright dies at 91

The following events occurred in April 1959:

April 1, 1959 (Wednesday)[edit]

  • A U.S. Air Force cargo plane crashed at Orting, Washington, killing all four of the crew on board. Witnesses reported that the C-118 had collided with another object in midair, and the incident has become part of UFO Lore.[1] The pilot, Lt. Robert R. Dimmick, radioed "We have hit something, or something has hit us", moments before the crash.[2]
  • The Navajo Nation Supreme Court came into existence, along with a set of district courts with jurisdiction in Navajo territory in Arizona and New Mexico.[3]
  • After the Soviet Union restricted travel of American diplomats, the U.S. did the same for the Soviets in America.[4]

April 2, 1959 (Thursday)[edit]

  • NASA announced the names of the seven men chosen as astronauts for Project Mercury. Originally planning to select six men, the Space Task Group screened 508 records and found 110 candidates who met the minimum standards, interviewed 69, invited 32 to go through tests and narrowed the number down to 18. Deputy Administrator Robert Gilruth suggested picking the seven finalists with the most flying experience.[5]
  • A superbolt, more powerful than an ordinary lightning bolt, struck a cornfield near Leland, Illinois, leaving a crater one foot deep, and breaking windows in homes almost a mile away.[6]
  • The Soviet Union's Council for Russian Orthodox Church Affairs advised the Russian Orthodox patriarch of new measures to reduce the number of convents, followed by property and income tax increases on the convents.[7]
  • Born: Juha Kankkunen, Finnish rally car driver and four time world champion; in Laukaa

April 3, 1959 (Friday)[edit]

April 4, 1959 (Saturday)[edit]

  • In a speech at Gettysburg College, U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower announced the first American commitment to keeping South Vietnam as a separate, non-Communist nation. "We reach the inescapable conclusion", said Eisenhower, "that our own national interests demand some help from us in sustaining in Vietnam the morale, the economic progress and the military strength necessary to its continued existence in Freedom."[10]

April 5, 1959 (Sunday)[edit]

  • In Dortmund, West Germany, Rong Guotan of Communist China defeated Ferenc Sido of Hungary to win the 25th World Table Tennis Championships, becoming the first Chinese player to do so.
  • At the Southmoor Hotel in Chicago, black nationalist S.A. Davis, Chairman of the Joint Council of Repatriation, and eight of his associates met with George Lincoln Rockwell, white supremacist, and two of his associates in the American Nazi Party, to discuss a joint resolution in support of government-supported "repatriation" of African-Americans to a homeland on the African continent.[11]

April 6, 1959 (Monday)[edit]

April 7, 1959 (Tuesday)[edit]

  • In Washington, the National Safety Council first warned parents about the risk of suffocation posed by plastic bags, particularly those used by dry cleaners.[16] The AMA, as well as a trade association of dry cleaning stores, joined in the warning. In January, Dr. Paul B. Jarrett of Phoenix had begun a campaign to educate the public after five children had suffocated in the previous year.[17]
  • The first photograph of a falling meteorite was taken in Pribram, Czechoslovakia.[18]
  • For the first time, a radar signal was sent between the Earth and the Sun. A team led by Dr. Von R. Eshleman, Lt. Col. Robert C. Barthle, and Dr. Philip B. Gallagher, transmitted the beam from Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, and received the return 17 minutes later. The morning experiments were repeated on April 10 and April 12, and the data was published in the journal Science on February 5, 1960.[19]
  • By a margin of 386,845 to 314,380 voters in Oklahoma elected to repeal the state's constitutional prohibition on the sale of alcohol, leaving Mississippi as the only dry American state. Liquor sales began on September 1.[20]
  • The town of Jackpot, Nevada, was founded. Located a few miles south of the border with Idaho, the gambling center was created after Idaho banned gambling.[21]
  • Israel created the first Holocaust Memorial Day by vote of the Knesset in Tel Aviv, to be observed on the 27th day of Nisan, which fell on May 5 in 1959. If the 27th falls on a Friday, the observation is held on the 26th. In 2009, Nisan 27 was on April 21.[22]
  • The Philippine government began use of the presidential yacht, the R.P.S. Lapu-Lapu (PY-77).[23]

April 8, 1959 (Wednesday)[edit]

April 9, 1959 (Thursday)[edit]

April 10, 1959 (Friday)[edit]

April 11, 1959 (Saturday)[edit]

April 12, 1959 (Sunday)[edit]

  • The body of former Haitian presidential candidate Clement Jumelle was hijacked from the funeral procession in Port-au-Prince. It has been speculated that Haitian dictator François Duvalier wanted to use the brain in a voodoo ceremony.[40]
  • The myth of the Chinese word for "crisis", perpetuated by Senator John F. Kennedy, who said "When written in Chinese, the word crisis is composed of two characters—one represents danger and the other represents opportunity."[41]

April 13, 1959 (Monday)[edit]

  • The United States and Britain asked the Soviet Union to join in a moratorium on above-ground nuclear weapons testing.[42]
  • The United States launched the Discoverer II satellite from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California at 1:20 pm. The capsule was successfully ejected, but lost after a timing error sent it to Norway rather than Hawaii.
  • Singer Mario Lanza gave his final concert, in Kiel, West Germany. He would die on October 7 of the same year.[43]
  • Died:' Eduard van Beinum, 57, Dutch conductor, collapsed of a heart attack while rehearsing with the Concertgebouw Orchestra in Amsterdam. Van Beinum was reportedly leading the orchestra in playing Brahms' First Symphony in C Minor "when he lowered his baton and called for a pause", then fell to the floor. [44]

April 14, 1959 (Tuesday)[edit]

  • The Robert A. Taft Memorial, a carillon with 27 bells, was dedicated in Washington. President Eisenhower and former president Hoover delivered remarks before a crowd of 5,000 people.[45]
  • The Atlas D missile was launched from Cape Canaveral in its first test. With a range of 10,360 miles, the missile could travel further than any previously produced in the United States. The rocket exploded soon after launch, as did two other Atlas D launches, until succeeding on July 29, 1959.[46]
  • The Grumman OV-1 Mohawk, built as the U.S. Army's reconnaissance airplane, made its first flight.[47]

April 15, 1959 (Wednesday)[edit]

April 16, 1959 (Thursday)[edit]

  • Rioters at the Montana State Prison in Deer Lodge took 16 guards and 7 other people hostage. The disturbance broke out at 4:30. Two hostages were released the next day.[51]
  • The first Thor missiles were deployed in Great Britain by the United States, under the command of Royal Air Force crews. The nuclear warheads on the missiles remained under American control.[52]
  • At an altitude of 11,700 meters, an Air France flight from Paris to Dijon lost power 265 kilometers from its destination. The crew glided the plane the rest of the way.[53]
  • Voters in Harlem Heights, a neighborhood near Chicago, elected in a referendum to incorporate as the city of Palos Heights, Illinois.[54]
  • "Judgment at Nuremberg" was telecast as a live television broadcast on Playhouse 90, and was then adapted to a 1961 film.[55]

April 17, 1959 (Friday)[edit]

April 18, 1959 (Saturday)[edit]

April 19, 1959 (Sunday)[edit]

April 20, 1959 (Monday)[edit]

April 21, 1959 (Tuesday)[edit]

  • Alfred Dean set a record by catching a 2,664 pound great white shark off the coast of Ceduna, South Australia.[65]
  • The tradition of a cannon firing at noon in Rome was started again after a 20-year hiatus.[66]

April 22, 1959 (Wednesday)[edit]

  • In a game between the Kansas City Athletics and the Chicago White Sox, the Sox scored 11 runs in the seventh inning on only one base hit, and went on to win 20–6. John Callison singled to bring in two players who had reached base on Athletics' errors. After the bases were loaded, eight other players (including Callison) scored from third base by a player being walked, while another scored from third after a batter was struck by a pitch.[67]
  • In 1955, Florence Houteff, whose husband Victor had founded the Branch Davidian sect in Waco, Texas, had predicted that God would establish the Kingdom of Palestine on April 22, 1959. The prophecy failed, but the Davidians continued, dying in a fire at Waco in 1993.[68]
  • The Untouchables premiered on CBS.
  • Norman Rosen filed a patent for the mesh crib bumper, designed to prevent infant suffocation by providing an alternative to the traditional cloth or vinyl sides within a crib. Rosen would receive U.S. Patent No. 3,018,492 on January 30, 1962, for his invention.[69]
  • The second of two recording dates of Miles Davis' Kind of Blue at Columbia Records' 30th Street Studio in New York City
  • Born: Ryan Stiles, American comedian, in Seattle

April 23, 1959 (Thursday)[edit]

  • The press secretary for Ernesto de la Guardia, the President of Panama, charged that American actor John Wayne was financing an attempt by Roberto Arias to overthrow the government there. Wayne dismissed the accusations as ridiculous, and noted, "Roberto never talked politics, and I never heard him say anything about overthrowing the Panamanian government."[70]

April 24, 1959 (Friday)[edit]

  • The bond graph was invented, described as "one of the most effective and most elegant tools for modeling system dynamics".[71]
  • Your Hit Parade was broadcast for the last time.[72]
  • The 34 Shan States were merged into one region by the government of Burma (now Myanmar.[73]
  • Died: Omaha, 24, American thoroughbred racehorse and winner of the 1935 Triple Crown, died at the age of 24 on a farm in Nebraska City, Nebraska. The horse was buried somewhere on the Ak-Sar-Ben Raceway grounds, but the location has been lost.[74]

April 25, 1959 (Saturday)[edit]

  • The St. Lawrence Seaway opened at 8:00 a.m.. The icebreaker D'Iberville was at the front of 70 ships that would sail from the Atlantic Ocean to Lake Ontario, starting at Montreal. At the same time, 600 miles away in Ogdensburg, New York, 19 cargo ships began the journey from the other end of the seaway. The project had taken five years and cost $475,000,000 with a majority of the funding from Canada.[75] The Seaway was dedicated on June 26, 1959.
  • At the Nazareth, Pennsylvania, Motor Speedway, 19-year-old Mario Andretti made his racing debut, winning a race in a 1948 Hudson.[76]
  • In Poplarville, Mississippi, a lynch mob kidnapped 23-year-old Mack Charles Parker from his jail cell.[77] His body was found on May 4 in the Pearl River, where he was thrown after being tortured and killed.
  • A force of about 80 rebels invaded Panama from the Caribbean Sea in an attempt to overthrow the government there. Although Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro denounced the attack along with other OAS members, it was accused that he had sponsored the attack.[78]

April 26, 1959 (Sunday)[edit]

  • Reds pitcher Willard Schmidt was the first major league baseball player to be hit by a pitch twice in the same inning in a game against the Milwaukee Braves, once by Lew Burdette and once by Bob Rush. Later, he was struck by a line drive hit by Johnny Logan. Only two other major leaguers have repeated the result, Frank Thomas of the Mets in 1962, and Brady Anderson in 1999. [79]
  • Born: John Corabi, heavy metal guitarist (Mötley Crüe), in Philadelphia

April 27, 1959 (Monday)[edit]

April 28, 1959 (Tuesday)[edit]

  • Former President Harry S Truman told students at Columbia University that he had made the decision to drop nuclear weapons on Hiroshima and on Nagasaki because an invasion would have cost millions of lives.[83]
  • Casa de las Americas was founded in Cuba by order of Fidel Castro.[84]
  • The Vatican announced that Roman Catholics worldwide would receive dispensation to eat meat on Friday during the May Day holiday.[85]
  • The U.S. Senate confirmed Clare Boothe Luce as ambassador to Brazil by 79–11 vote, in spite of efforts by Senator Wayne Morse to block the nomination. In thanking the Senate, Mrs. Luce then caused an uproar when she said in a statement, "My difficulties, of course, go some years back and began when Senator Wayne Morse was kicked in the head by a horse",[86] referring to a 1951 accident in which the Senator's jaw had been broken, and calls were made for her resignation. Ambassador Luce quit on May 1.[87] During the debate, Senator Everett Dirksen made a memorable gaffe in defending Mrs. Luce, saying "Why thresh old straws or beat an old bag of bones?"[88]

April 29, 1959 (Wednesday)[edit]

April 30, 1959 (Thursday)[edit]


  1. ^ "Air Force C-118 Aircraft Has Airborne Collision and Then Crashes - Killing Crew of Four", UFOs Northwest
  2. ^ "4 Die in Fiery Crash of Plane", Oakland Tribune, April 2, 1959, p28
  3. ^ Laurence French, Native American Justice (Rowman & Littlefield, 2003), pp151–152
  4. ^ "U.S. Defies Russia on Berlin; Soviet Travel Ban Matched", Oakland Tribune, April 1, 1959, p1
  5. ^ Leslie Haynsworth and David M. Toomey, Amelia Earhart's Daughters (HarperCollins, 2000), pp190–191
  6. ^ Christopher C. Burt, Extreme Weather: A Guide & Record Book (W. W. Norton & Company, 2007), p149
  7. ^ Nathaniel Davis, Long Walk to Church: A Contemporary History of Russian Orthodoxy (Westview Press, 2003) p34
  8. ^ Sam Roberts, A Kind of Genius: Herb Sturtz and His Work on Society's Toughest Problems (PublicAffairs, 2009), p25
  9. ^ "'Thy Brother's Blood'": Capital Punishment in West Virginia" Archived 2008-08-10 at the Wayback Machine, by Stan Bumgardner and Christine Kreiser, West Virginia Historical Society Quarterly (March 1996)
  10. ^ James Rothrock, Divided We Fall: How Disunity Leads to Defeat (AuthorHouse, 2006), p25
  11. ^ E. U. Essien-Udom, Black Nationalism: A Search For an Identity in America (1962)
  12. ^ Gene Lees, The Musical Worlds of Lerner and Loewe (University of Nebraska Press, 2005), pp166–67
  13. ^ "College Wins Fight to Keep Women Out", Oakland Tribune, April 6, 1959, p1
  14. ^ John J. Ansbro, The Credos of Eight Black Leaders: Converting Obstacles Into Opportunities (Rowman & Littlefield, 2005), p153
  15. ^ "Holbrook, Hal", Current Biography Yearbook: 1998 (H.W. Wilson Company, 1999)
  16. ^ "Plastic Bags Cause Deaths", UPI rept in Albuquerque Tribune, April 8, 1959, p1
  17. ^ "Plastic Bags Deadly Toy", Tucson Daily Citizen, January 21, 1959, p1
  18. ^ [1]
  19. ^ "Sun Reached With Radar At Stanford", Oakland Tribune, February 5, 1960, p1
  20. ^ Arrell Morgan Gibson, Oklahoma: A History of Five Centuries (University of Oklahoma Press, 1981), p247
  21. ^ Jackpot Nevada Tourism
  22. ^ James E. Young, "Mandating the National Memory of Catastrophe", in Law and Catastrophe (Stanford University Press, 2007), p139
  23. ^ [2]
  24. ^ Robert Slater, Portraits in Silicon (MIT Press, 1989) pp 225–226
  25. ^ Salvatore Bizzarro, Historical Dictionary of Chile (Scarecrow Press, 2005), p 380
  26. ^ "Food Poisons At Least 100 In Union Meet", Oakland Tribune, April 8, 1959, p 1
  27. ^ "U.S. Bares Names of 7 Spacemen", Oakland Tribune, April 9, 1959, p1
  28. ^ "The Trials of Lenny Bruce, by Doug Lender
  29. ^ "Haiti Rebels Slay Pilot, Fly to Cuba", Oakland Tribune, April 10, 1959, p1
  30. ^ "Celts Beat Lakers 4th Straight Time For Pro Cage Title", Oakland Tribune, April 10, 1959, p52
  31. ^ E. J. Fleming, The Fixers: Eddie Mannix, Howard Strickling, and the MGM Publicity Machine (McFarland, 2004), p256
  32. ^ "Frank Lloyd Wright Dies In Phoenix", Oakland Tribune, April 9, 1959, p1
  33. ^ "Japan Prince To Wed in Tokyo Today", Oakland Tribune, April 9, 1959, p1
  34. ^ "Student Attacks Royal Newlyweds", Oakland Tribune, April 10, 1959, p1
  35. ^ "Sniper Tries to Ambush Gov. Almond", Oakland Tribune, April 11, 1959, p1
  36. ^ "Salvaged Bomb Blast Kills 34 Filipinos", Fresno Bee, April 10, 1959, p1
  37. ^ "Youth, 17 Dies in Gas Chamber", Baltimore Sun, April 11, 1959, p28
  38. ^ Marilyn D. McShane and Franklin P. Williams, Youth Violence and Delinquency: Juvenile Treatment and Crime Prevention (University of South Carolina Press, 2007) p172
  39. ^ "U.S. Plans Manned Round Trip to Moon", Sunday Express and News (San Antonio), April 12, 1959, p1
  40. ^ Fordi9.com
  41. ^ Jay M. Shafritz, Dictionary of Public Policy and Administration (Westview Press, Aug 27, 2004) p81
  42. ^ "Surface Nuclear Test Ban Offered by West to Russia", Oakland Tribune, April 13, 1959, p1; "Ike Offers Russ New A-Ban Plan", Oakland Tribune, April 21, 1959, p1
  43. ^ "Mario Lanza, 1921-1959", Sicilian Culture]
  44. ^ "Baton in Hand, Van Beinum, 58, Dies on Podium— Conductor Stricken at Rehearsal", Chicago Tribune, April 14, 1959, p2-11
  45. ^ http://www.gpoaccess.gov/congress/senate/notabledays/chap6.pdf
  46. ^ http://www.strategic-air-command.com/missiles/Atlas/Atlas_Missile_Performance.htm
  47. ^ "The Last of The Mohawks", by John Sotham, Air & Space magazine (March 1997)
  48. ^ "New Cancer Forces Secy. Dulles to Quit", Oakland Tribune, April 15, 1959, p1
  49. ^ "The Ring of Truth: Interview With a Man Who Flew a Real Saucer", by Doug Yurchey
  50. ^ "Anniversary of Fidel Castro U.S. visit 49 years ago", Miami Herald blog
  51. ^ "Prisoners Threaten To Kill Hostages-- Some By Hanging", Oakland Tribune, April 17, 1959, p1
  52. ^ http://projectemily.com/Thor_Missile_in_the_UK.html
  53. ^ http://www.airfrancelasaga.com/spip.php?article104
  54. ^ "Yesterday was 1959", PalosHeights.org
  55. ^ imdb.com
  56. ^ Montreal Canadiens historical website
  57. ^ "Troops Smash Mutiny With Bazookas, Free All Hostages", Oakland Tribune, April 18, 1959, p1
  58. ^ ConceptCarz.com
  59. ^ "Swiss Woman Votes", Oakland Tribune, April 20, 1959, p2
  60. ^ Thomas M. Leonard, Fidel Castro: A Biography (Greenwood Publishing Group, 2004), p48
  61. ^ [3]
  62. ^ "Pepsi Cola, Joan Crawford, and Albion", Albion (Mich.) Morning Star, March 1, 1998, p6
  63. ^ "Saucer Man Suicide", The News-Press (Fort Myers, FL), April 22, 1959, p1
  64. ^ Jonathan Vankin and John Whalen, The 80 Greatest Conspiracies of All Time: History's Biggest Mysteries, Coverups, and Cabals (Citadel Press, 2004) pp620–621
  65. ^ "Fascinating Fishing Facts", by Keith Sutton, ESPN.com, June 27, 2007
  66. ^ "Rome Off The Beaten Path", VirtualTourist.com
  67. ^ Big Inning Wrap-up: 11 Runs on One Hit", Milwaukee Journal, April 23, 1959, p17
  68. ^ Robert P. Sutton, Modern American Communes: A Dictionaryj (Greenwood Publishing Group, 2005), p39; "Cult of Death", TIME Magazine, March 15, 1993
  69. ^ Mesh Crib Bumper.com
  70. ^ "John Wayne Link In Panama Plot", Oakland Tribune, April 23, 1959, p1
  71. ^ http://www.inf.ethz.ch/personal/fcellier/Pubs/BG/icbgm_95_gussn.pdf
  72. ^ "A Nostalgic Finale", New York Times, April 24, 1959
  73. ^ "The Shans: People Forgotten By the World"
  74. ^ "Burial site of Triple Crown winner Omaha shrouded in mystery", Thoroughbred Times, September 3, 2006
  75. ^ "St. Lawrence Seaway Gets First Ships", Oakland Tribune, April 25, 1959, p1
  76. ^ "Rearview Mirror", by Al Binder, Ward's AutoWorld, April 1, 2002
  77. ^ "FBI Hunts Lynch Mob; Fear Dixie Victim Dead", Oakland Tribune, April 25, 1959, p1
  78. ^ Michael Brecher and Jonathan Wilkenfeld, A Study of Crisis (University of Michigan Press, 1997), p505
  79. ^ http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/baseball/mlb/al/scoreboards/1999/05/23/recap.BAL-TEX.html
  80. ^ "Red China Names New President", Oakland Tribune, April 27, 1959, p1
  81. ^ "Walkout of Technicians Hits NBC-TV", Oakland Tribune, April 27, 1959, p1
  82. ^ "Madagascar: Late French Colonialism (1945-1960)", EISA.org
  83. ^ Dave Chaitanya, Crimes Against Humanity: A Shocking History of U.S. Crimes Since 1776 (AuthorHouse, 2007), p87
  84. ^ "Preparations for Havana Casa Literary Prizes in Full Swing", JuventudRebelde.co.cu, February 3, 2009
  85. ^ "Pope Gives May Day Meat Dispensation", Oakland Tribune, April 28, 1959, p1
  86. ^ "Ike Backs Mrs. Luce In Row With Morse", Fresno Bee, April 29, 1959, p1
  87. ^ "Mrs. Luce Quits As Envoy To Brazil; Blames Morse", Fresno Bee, May 1, 1959, p1
  88. ^ Dean L. Yarwood, When Congress Makes a Joke: Congressional Humor Then and Now (Rowman & Littlefield, 2004), p47; "Did Senator Really Mean Clare Was 'An 'Old Bag of Bones'?" El Paso Herald-Post, April 29, 1959, p1
  89. ^ "The Las Vegas Convention Center Planning $737 million in Improvements, Expansion", Las Vegas Review-Journal, February 12, 2006
  90. ^ Phi Kappa Theta History, PhiKaps.org
  91. ^ "28 Are Killed In Spanish Crash", Albuquerque (NM) Journal, April 30, 1959, p1
  92. ^ Chad Randl, Revolving Architecture: A History of Buildings that Rotate, Swivel, and Pivot (Princeton Architectural Press, 2008) p102; [4]
  93. ^ http://thoughtcrimewave.blogspot.com/2008/06/graveyard-of-aluminum-overcast.html
  94. ^ ThoughCrimeWave blog, June 7, 2008