April 1961

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April 12, 1961: Soviets win race to send first man into space...
April 27, 1961: Sierra Leone becomes independents
April 19, 1961: Bay of Pigs invaders captured in Cuba

The following events occurred in April 1961:

April 1, 1961 (Saturday)[edit]

April 2, 1961 (Sunday)[edit]

April 3, 1961 (Monday)[edit]

Rediscovered possum

April 4, 1961 (Tuesday)[edit]

  • Carlos Marcello, boss of the Mafia in New Orleans, was arrested after making a required check-in with the local office of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, driven to the airport and placed as the only passenger on an airplane bound for Guatemala City. Marcello's deportation, ordered by U.S. Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, was done immediately, without affording him the benefit of a phone call, money or even a change of clothes. Marcello, outraged by the surprise move, would sneak back into the United States two months later. Some conspiracy theorists suggest that Marcello conspired in the 1963 assassination of President Kennedy in revenge for the act.[10]
  • Bay of Pigs Invasion: At 6:00 pm in a conference room at the office of U.S. Secretary of State Dean Rusk, President Kennedy convened a meeting to discuss final plans for the invasion of Cuba. U.S. Senator William Fulbright of Arkansas, who argued against the operation, was invited to participate at the meeting, which also included Defense Secretary Robert McNamara, CIA Director Allen Dulles, and three members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The meeting ended at 8:18 pm with Kennedy approving the mission.[11]
  • Born: Tom Byron, American actor, in Houston
  • Died: Simion Stoilow, 87, Romanian mathematician

April 5, 1961 (Wednesday)[edit]

"Barbara Strysand"

April 6, 1961 (Thursday)[edit]

April 7, 1961 (Friday)[edit]

April 8, 1961 (Saturday)[edit]

  • Shortly after 4:00 am, the British passenger ship MV Dara exploded off Dubai. In the fire and in panic during the rescue, 238 passengers and crew died, while another 565 were rescued.[20] The ship sank two days later while being towed.[21] A British Admiralty court concluded a year later that an anti-tank mine, "deliberately placed by a person or persons unknown", had "almost certainly" caused the explosion.[22]
  • The leadership of the Malta Labour Party, readers, advertisers and distributors of Party papers as well as its voters were placed under an interdict, which lasted until 1969.[23]
  • Born: Richard Hatch, American reality show contestant who, in 2000, won the first competition in the TV series Survivor; in Middletown, Rhode Island
  • Died: Princess Abigail Kapiolani Kawānanakoa, 58, pretender to the throne of Hawaii. Her son, Edward A. Kawānanakoa, proclaimed as the new pretender, Kawanakoa II, by monarchists, would live until 1997.

April 9, 1961 (Sunday)[edit]

King Zog
  • Bay of Pigs Invasion: Eight days before the scheduled invasion of Cuba, the CIA learned that the Soviet Union was aware that the attack would take place on the 17th, but didn't call it off. The information was not made public until 39 years later, when the Taylor Commission report was declassified.[24]
  • The last of the streetcars of Los Angeles was retired, after 136 passengers boarded the last scheduled Pacific Electric Railway red car to ride the 18 mile rail line to Long Beach. A charter car departed 10 minutes later. The network had been formed in 1902, but the interurban tracks were gradually removed after World War II.[25]
  • Albert Kalonji, President of the South Kasai breakaway republic, was crowned the "Mulopwe", a Baluba word that translates as King or Emperor, of his people.[26]
  • Joseph Ganda was ordained the first priest of Sierra Leone.
  • Died: Zog I, 65, former King of Albania from 1928 to 1939, died in Paris. As Ahmet Zogu, he had been Prime Minister and then President of Albania before proclaiming a monarchy. Albanian exiles proclaimed his 22-year-old son, the former crown prince, as King Leka I.[27]

April 10, 1961 (Monday)[edit]

April 11, 1961 (Tuesday)[edit]

April 12, 1961 (Wednesday)[edit]

  • At 2:07 p.m. local time (9:07 a.m. Moscow, 0607 UTC and 1:07 a.m. in New York), Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin was launched from Baikonur, in the Kazakh SSR on the Vostok 1 rocket, and became the first human being to go into outer space. Gagarin made one orbit of the Earth before re-entering, and landed at 10:55 a.m., 15 miles southwest of the city of Engels in Russia's Saratov Oblast.[34]

April 13, 1961 (Thursday)[edit]

  • In Portugal, an attempted coup against António de Oliveira Salazar failed.
  • Died: Former Private First Class John A. Bennett, 26, became the last[35] American serviceman to receive the death penalty following a court-martial. Bennett had been convicted of the 1954 rape and attempted murder of an 11-year-old girl while in Austria and was hanged at the prison at Fort Leavenworth.[36]

April 14, 1961 (Friday)[edit]

  • "MH-5", the Materials Handling Committee #5 of the American Standards Association, approved the standard size for shipping containers now used worldwide, with dimensions of 8 feet high, 8 feet wide, and in units of 10, 20, 30 and 40 feet long.[37]
  • In an event televised live throughout the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, Yuri Gagarin received a hero's welcome at the Vnukovo airport, where he was greeted by Soviet dignitaries, and along the ten mile route from the airport to Moscow's Red Square.[38]
  • Bay of Pigs Invasion: Brigade 2506, the group of 1,400 Cuban exiles, boarded ships and departed from Puerto Cabezas, Nicaragua for a three-day voyage to Cuba.[39]
  • Hungary abolished its "People's Courts", which had pronounced sentences on 22,000 people, including 280 death sentences, for their role in the Hungarian Revolution of 1956.[40]
  • Born: Robert Carlyle, Scottish film and TV actor, in Maryhill, Glasgow

April 15, 1961 (Saturday)[edit]

  • Bay of Pigs Invasion: Eight Douglas B-26B Invader bombers attacked Cuban airfields at San Antonio de Los Baños, Ciudad Libertad, and Santiago de Cuba airport. The B-26s had been prepared by the CIA on behalf of Brigade 2506, and painted in false flag markings of the Cuban air force. They had flown from Nicaragua with crews of Cuban exiles, and the purpose of Operation Puma was to destroy armed aircraft of the Cuban air force in advance of the main invasion.[41] Shortly after the attacks, another B-26 flew to Miami with false battle damage, and the pilot falsely claimed to be one of several Cuban defectors. At the United Nations, the Cuban Foreign Minister accused the US of aggressive air attacks against Cuba. The US ambassador to the UN Adlai Stevenson stated that US armed forces would not "under any conditions" intervene in Cuba. He was later embarrassed to realize that the CIA had lied to him and to Secretary of State Dean Rusk.[42]
  • Born: Tiina Lillak, Finnish javelin thrower and 1983 world champion; in Helsinki

April 16, 1961 (Sunday)[edit]

  • Bay of Pigs Invasion: In a funeral oration in Vedado for victims of the air raids the day before, Fidel Castro described the January 1959 Cuban Revolution as follows: "...esta es la Revolución socialista y democrática de los humildes, con los humildes y para los humildes..." (...this is the socialist and democratic revolution of the working people, with the working people, and for the working people...)[43][44]
  • The Vienna Grand Prix was won by Stirling Moss in a Lotus 18.

April 17, 1961 (Monday)[edit]

  • Bay of Pigs Invasion: At about 01:00, in Operation Zapata, the first group of a force of about 1,300 Cuban exiles of Brigade 2506 made an amphibious landing at Playa Girón, a beach at the Bahia de Cochinos ("Bay of Pigs" in modern Spanish) on the southern coast of Cuba. They had been trained by the CIA in Guatemala, then embarked in Nicaragua on four freighter ships chartered by the CIA, and escorted to Cuban waters by a large US Navy task force. A second group of attackers landed 35 km further northwest in the bay at Playa Larga. By about 06:30, the freighter ships and landing craft still unloading troops, vehicles and equipment were attacked by Sea Fury fighter-bombers and T-33 jets of the Cuban air force. At about 07:30, 177 invading paratroops were dropped at four locations north of the landing areas. By about 09:00, one of the freighters had been damaged and beached, and another was then sunk in the bay by air-to-ground rockets. The surviving vessels withdrew south to international waters. By the end of the day, four attacking B-26 bombers had been shot down by T-33s and ground fire, and invading troops had come under fire from Cuban militia and regular troops.[45]
  • At the 33rd Academy Awards ceremony, hosted by Bob Hope, the award for Best Picture went to The Apartment, for which Billy Wilder won Best Director. Burt Lancaster won Best Actor (for Elmer Gantry), Elizabeth Taylor Best Actress for Butterfield 8.[46]

April 18, 1961 (Tuesday)[edit]

  • Bay of Pigs Invasion: Cuban ground forces continued their advances against invading troops, retaking Playa Larga, and advancing towards Playa Girón and the paratroop positions. They were attacked by B-26s flown by Cuban exiles and CIA contractors using napalm, machine guns and bombs.[47]
  • The Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations was approved, 72-0, by participants at a six-week-long conference convened by the United Nations, and entered into effect on April 24, 1964.[48]
  • Catherine Dorris Norrell, widow and legislative assistant of Arkansas Congressman William F. Norrell, won a special election to fill the vacancy left by her husband's death on February 15, defeating four men vying for the office. She took office as U.S. Representative for the 6th District of Arkansas on April 25, and finished out his term.[49]

April 19, 1961 (Wednesday)[edit]

  • Bay of Pigs Invasion: Air attacks were made by B-26s against advancing Cuban ground forces. Combat air patrols, with strict rules of engagement, were flown by unmarked US Navy A4D Skyhawk jets from USS Essex, but they failed to prevent two bombers being shot down by Cuban aircraft, killing four Americans of the Alabama National Guard employed by the CIA as aircrew trainers. By dusk, about 17:30, Brigade 2506 ground forces had retreated to the beaches, then surrendered or dispersed into neighbouring swamps. About 114 Brigade ground troops, and 176 Cuban ground forces, were killed in combat. Subsequently, 1,189 prisoners were taken, and later tried for treason.[50] On December 24, 1962, the last group of 1,113 prisoners was released in exchange for $53,000,000 worth of food and medicine.[51]
  • Born: Anna Gerasimova, Russian singer and songwriter

April 20, 1961 (Thursday)[edit]

Bell Rocket Belt – James Bond Thunderball.JPG

April 21, 1961 (Friday)[edit]

  • The Minnesota Twins, who had already played six road games, played their first game at home and the first regular season MLB game in Minnesota. Formerly the Washington Senators until moving, the team played the new Washington Senators (who would later become the Texas Rangers, and lost, 5-3.[55]
  • At a press conference in the State Department, President Kennedy was asked by NBC reporter Sander Vanocur whether it was true that Dean Rusk and Chester Bowles were against the failed Bay of Pigs Invasion. Kennedy said "There's an old saying that victory has a hundred fathers and defeat is an orphan... What matters is only one fact, I am the responsible officer of the government."[56][57] (the saying was later attributed to Mussolini's Foreign Minister, Galeazzo Ciano, in 1942).
  • Died:

April 22, 1961 (Saturday)[edit]

  • Algiers putsch of 1961: Four retired French Generals-- Maurice Challe and Raoul Salan, both of whom had formerly been Commanders-in-Chief of the French Army in Algeria; Edmond Jouhaud, former Inspector General of the French Air Force; and André Zeller, former Chief of Staff of the French Ground Army—sent at least 2,000 paratroopers to seize control of cities in Algeria to prevent the transfer of power from France to Algerian nationals. In the early morning hours in Algiers, France's delegate general, Jean Morin, French Transport Minister Robert Buron, and General Fernand Gambiez were taken prisoner as the troops seized control of government offices.[58] Expecting that an attempted coup would reach the French mainland, President Charles De Gaulle ordered loyal units to fight the mutineers. Failing to win support in the coup, General Challe surrendered to loyal troops on April 26 and was flown to Paris to face trial for treason, while Salan, Jouhad and Zeller fled, along with former Prime Minister Georges Bidault, who had joined the generals in a statement calling for the overthrow of De Gaulle.[59]

April 23, 1961 (Sunday)[edit]

  • Judy Garland performed in a legendary comeback concert at Carnegie Hall in New York City, receiving a standing ovation as she arrived on stage, and five minutes of cheering. Variety critic Gordon Cox Tom Moon, 1,000 Recordings to Hear Before You Die: A Listener's Life List (Workman Publishing, 2008) described the event as "the greatest night in show business history". The live performance was recorded as a Grammy award winning and bestselling album, Judy at Carnegie Hall.[60]
  • For the first and only time in the history of the Fifth Republic of France, the emergency powers (pouvoirs exceptionnels) provision in Article 16 of its Constitution was invoked. President De Gaulle retained the special power following the uprising in Algeria, until September 29.[61]
  • A monument "to the victims of fascism" was dedicated, before a crowd of 200,000 by East German leader Walter Ulbricht at the site of the Sachsenhausen concentration camp.[62]
  • Born: George Lopez, Mexican American actor, comedian, and talk show host; in Mission Hills, Los Angeles, California.

April 24, 1961 (Monday)[edit]

  • The Swedish warship Vasa was raised from the sea after sinking in the Baltic Sea almost 333 years earlier. The Vasa capsized hours into its maiden voyage on August 10, 1628, drowning the 30 people on board. The ship was rediscovered in 1956 by Anders Franzén off of the island of Beckholmen, still well-preserved, and is now in a museum in Stockholm.[63] [64]

April 25, 1961 (Tuesday)[edit]

Early integrated circuit
  • U.S. Patent 2,981,877 was issued to Robert Noyce, founder of the Intel Corporation as the first ever granted for an integrated circuit. Noyce's application for "Semiconductor Device-and-Lead Structure" had been filed on July 30, 1959, after Jack Kilby's filing on May 6, 1959 for "Miniaturized Self-Contained Circuit Modules and Method of Fabrication", but was not approved until June 23, 1964 (and granted U.S. Patent 3,138,744) because it was more complex.[65]
  • Algiers putsch of 1961: In order to prevent an atomic bomb from falling under the control of mutineering French officers in Algeria, France hastily detonated the last of its plutonium fission devices at Reggane in the Sahara Desert.[66]
  • An unmanned American Atlas rocket was destroyed by ground control, 40 seconds after an attempt to launch it into orbit, sending a rain of shrapnel from 16,000 feet.[67] Gus Grissom, piloting an F-106A to observe the launch, was able to fly through the debris without injury.[68]

April 26, 1961 (Wednesday)[edit]

April 27, 1961 (Thursday)[edit]

  • At 10 seconds after midnight in Freetown, the green white and blue flag of the Dominion of Sierra Leone replaced Britain's Union Jack as the former British colony for freed slaves became an independent nation.[69] A British anti-slavery society had purchased West African land in 1787 from King Waimbana, and Britain created the colony in 1808. Later in the day, Sir Milton Margai took office as the nation's first Prime Minister, and accepted the new constitution from Prince Edward, Duke of Kent, who was appearing on behalf of his cousin, Queen Elizabeth II. The former colonial governor, Sir Maurice Dorman, became the first Governor-General. Opposition leader Siaka Stevens, who would become President when the Dominion became a Republic in 1971, was kept under house arrest until ceremonies were over.[70]
  • President Kennedy delivered the speech: The President and the Press: Address before the American Newspaper Publishers Association.[71] Kennedy told the assembled press that the Cold War required the media to avoid disclosing information that might threaten American interests, saying, "Every newspaper now asks itself with respect to every story: 'Is it news?'. All I ask is that you add the question: 'Is it in the interest of national security?'" [72]

April 28, 1961 (Friday)[edit]

  • Little Joe 5B, the final unmanned test of the Launch Escape System of the Mercury spacecraft, was launched from Wallops Island, Virginia, exactly one week before the first American astronaut would be launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida. A misfire sent the rocket to 14,000 feet rather than 40,000 feet, the original altitude at which the abort system was to eject the capsule. The system performed flawlessly, even against a dynamic pressure of almost twice as much as what had been planned.[73]

April 29, 1961 (Saturday)[edit]

UAS Flag
  • The television program ABC's Wide World of Sports, hosted by Jim McKay, made its debut at 2:00 pm EST. The innovative program used videotaped highlights of sports not often seen on TV, and started with two track and field competitions, the Penn Relays and the Drake Relays.[75]
  • The Union of African States was created as the nation of Mali joined an existing union between Ghana and Guinea to become the third member of what had Ghana's leader Kwame Nkrumah had described as the nucleus of a "United States of Africa" open to all nations on the continent. The Union fell apart after Nkrumah's ouster in 1966.[76]
  • Westward Television became the holder of the independent television franchise for the South West of England, retaining it for twenty years.
  • Died: Cisco Houston, 42, American folk singer

April 30, 1961 (Sunday)[edit]

  • Lee Harvey Oswald married Marina Prusakova in Minsk.[77]
  • Willie Mays of the San Francisco Giants ended a batting slump with what he described as "the greatest game of my career", becoming only the sixth major league player to hit four home runs in one game, in a 14-4 win over the host Milwaukee Braves, whose Hank Aaron hit two homers.[78] Giants' first-base coach Wes Westrum, a former catcher, is said to have been able to decode the signals from the Braves' catcher, and to have signaled Mays on what to expect.[79]
  • Eastern Air Lines revolutionized commuter air travel by inaugurating the Eastern Air-Shuttle, hourly flights between New York's LaGuardia airport and Boston and Washington, with no reservation required. If a customer was unable to make one flight, it was guaranteed that another one would be available within an hour or less. The New York Times described it as "the greatest advance in aviation since the Wright Brothers".[80]
  • Soviet submarine K-19, the first Russian nuclear-powered submarine, was commissioned.
  • Born: Isiah Thomas, American NBA player selected by the league in 1996 as one of the 50 greatest in its history; in Chicago
  • Died:


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