August 1959

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August 21, 1959: Hawaii admitted as the 50th state of the U.S.A.
Explorer 6, orbiting TV camera
August 14, 1959: Explorer 6 returns first weather satellite photos
The first satellite photo

The following events occurred in August 1959:

August 1, 1959 (Saturday)[edit]

August 2, 1959 (Sunday)[edit]

August 3, 1959 (Monday)[edit]

  • Portuguese soldiers and civilian police fired on a crowd of strikers at a dock in Pijiguiti, Portuguese Guinea, killing as many 50 and wounding 100. The massacre was the start of a 13-year battle that culminated in the independence of the colony in 1974 as Guinea-Bissau.[4]
  • The Army's Combat Development Experimentation Center unveiled the "Soldier of Tomorrow", described in a press release as "America's ultimate weapon – the man." The soldier of 1965 would have "a helmet with a built-in radio, infra-red binoculars and his own rocket device", a "jump belt", which "will enable him to cross streams and cliffs with ease".[5]
  • Born: Koichi Tanaka, Japanese scientist, recipient of the 2002 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, in Toyama

August 4, 1959 (Tuesday)[edit]

August 5, 1959 (Wednesday)[edit]

  • U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower approved a change in America's Basic National Security Policy, providing that "The United States will be prepared to use chemical and biological weapons to the extent that such use will enhance the effectiveness of the armed forces. The decisions as to their use will be made by the President."[7]
  • Three months of negotiations between the Soviet Union, and the United States, Great Britain and France, ended in Geneva with no resolution on the future of Berlin.[8]
  • Died: Edgar A. Guest, 77, English-born American poet for the Detroit Free Press who published 11,000 poems between 1898 and his death. At his height, he was syndicated in 300 newspapers and was dubbed "The People's Poet"

August 6, 1959 (Thursday)[edit]

  • The B-17 Flying Fortress was used in an American military operation for the last time. An unmanned radio-controlled drone was guided over the White Sands Missile Range, and shot down by Falcon air-to-air missiles from F-101 and F-106 jets.[9]
  • Died: Preston Sturges, 60, American film director and writer

August 7, 1959 (Friday)[edit]

  • In Taiwan, 1,075 people died in floods after Typhoon Ellen caused 1,164 mm (45 in) of rain to fall over three days.[10]
  • Six city blocks in downtown Roseburg, Oregon, were levelled at 1:20 a.m. by the explosion of a dynamite truck. The blast killed 14 people and left a 50-foot-wide (15 m) crater.[11]
  • The United Nations reported a deficit of $7,469,150. More than 60 member nations had not paid annual dues.[12]
  • Pakistan passed the Elective Bodies Disqualification Order, barring 75 leaders in East Pakistan from political activity until 1967 December 31, 1966.[13]

August 8, 1959 (Saturday)[edit]

  • After more than 1,000 performances in the London production of My Fair Lady, Julie Andrews retired from the role of Eliza Doolittle, freeing her to go on to a career in film and television. She was replaced in the role by Anne Rogers.[14]
  • A fatal car accident ignited a wildfire in the Decker Canyon near Lake Elsinore, California. The ensuing blaze killed six firefighters[15]

August 9, 1959 (Sunday)[edit]

August 10, 1959 (Monday)[edit]

  • Four of the five singers for The Platters, who had hit No. 1 earlier in the year with "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes", were arrested in Cincinnati and charged with soliciting prostitutes and using drugs. The charges were eventually dismissed, but the group's concert dates were cancelled, and disc jockeys refused to play their records, for several months.[17]
  • Born: Rosanna Arquette, American actress, in New York City

August 11, 1959 (Tuesday)[edit]

August 12, 1959 (Wednesday)[edit]

  • High schools in Little Rock, Arkansas, reopened, a year after being closed in order to avoid integration. Governor Orval E. Faubus addressed a crowd of 1,000 segregationists in front of the State Capitol while the two schools, each admitting three black students, were beginning classes. Afterward, a group of 200 protestors outside of Central High School were dispersed by the city police.[21]
  • The city of Crosslake, Minnesota, was incorporated.[22]

August 13, 1959 (Thursday)[edit]

August 14, 1959 (Friday)[edit]

  • The formation of the American Football League was announced at a press conference in Chicago, with at least six teams to begin play in autumn 1960, in New York, Los Angeles, Houston, Dallas, Denver and Minneapolis. Founder Lamar Hunt would later say that he had envisioned the AFL as being a six-team league in its inaugural season, but that interest from Ralph Wilson and others led to an 8-team circuit.[25]
  • Earth was photographed for the first time from an orbiting satellite, Explorer 6, which had been launched on August 7. The first image, taken from an altitude of about 27,000 km or 17,000 miles, showed the clouds over the northern Pacific Ocean. Although the photo was crude, it demonstrated the potential of observing weather patterns from orbit.[26]
  • The Federal Radiation Council was created by Executive Order 10831. Consisting of six cabinet members and the Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission, the council was established to advise the American President on federal standards for radiation and nuclear plant safety.[27]
  • Typhoon Georgia struck Japan, killing 137 people. Hitting Honshu Island, the typhoon caused the worst damage in history to Japan's rail lines.[28]
  • Born: Magic Johnson, American NBA player (as Earvin Johnson, Jr.), in Lansing, Michigan

August 15, 1959 (Saturday)[edit]

August 16, 1959 (Sunday)[edit]

August 17, 1959 (Monday)[edit]

August 18, 1959 (Tuesday)[edit]

August 19, 1959 (Wednesday)[edit]

August 20, 1959 (Thursday)[edit]

  • The Pilar II, an inter-island transport ship, capsized and sank off of the coast of Palawan Island in the Philippines, drowning more than 100 people on board.[40]

August 21, 1959 (Friday)[edit]

August 22, 1959 (Saturday)[edit]

August 23, 1959 (Sunday)[edit]

  • Professional baseball was played at Brooklyn's Ebbets Field for the last time. A crowd of 4,000 turned out to watch a doubleheader featuring Negro League teams in an exhibition. In the first game, the Kansas City Monarchs beat the Brooklyn Stars 3–1. In the second, the Monarchs lost to the Havana Cubans, 6–4.[43]

August 24, 1959 (Monday)[edit]

August 25, 1959 (Tuesday)[edit]

  • Troops in India and China clashed for the first time in a border dispute. A squad of Indian troops at Longju fired across the "McMahon Line" at Chinese guards stationed at the Tibetan village of Migyitun.[46]
  • The wives and daughters of senior government officials in Afghanistan appeared in public without veils. After initial resistance by Islamic scholars, the controversy over the unveiling ceased within a month.[47]
  • Born: Sönke Wortmann, German film director

August 26, 1959 (Wednesday)[edit]

Mini Cooper

August 27, 1959 (Thursday)[edit]

  • The Bulgarian prison camp at Belene Island, in the River Danube, was closed permanently when the Politburo of the Bulgarian Communist Party ordered the release of 276 political prisoners. Another 166 "incorrigible recidivsts" were transferred to the newer Lovech camp. At one time, Belene Island held 4,500 detainees.[50]
  • The Polaris missile was successfully launched for the first time. Designed to be fired by a submarine from underwater, the Polaris was tested above the surface from the ship USNS Observation Island. The 28-foot-tall (8.5 m) missile was fired by compressed air, with engine ignition at 70 feet.[51]
  • Mercury astronaut Donald "Deke" Slayton was found to have an irregular heartbeat while undergoing centrifuge training, later diagnosed as atrial fibrillation. A month later, he was disqualified from spaceflight. Slayton eventually went into space in 1975 on board the Apollo–Soyuz Test Project.[52]
  • Poet Frank O'Hara created what he called "Personism", noting later in "Personism: A Manifesto" that "It was founded by me after lunch with LeRoi Jones on August 27, 1959, a day in which I was in love with someone not Roi, by the way, a blond). I went back to work and wrote a poem for this person. While I was writing it I was realizing that if I wanted to, I could use the telephone instead of writing the poem, and so Personism was born." He added "It is too new, too vital a movement to promise anything ..."[53]

August 28, 1959 (Friday)[edit]

August 29, 1959 (Saturday)[edit]

August 30, 1959 (Sunday)[edit]

August 31, 1959 (Monday)[edit]

  • King Norodom Suramarit and Queen Sisowath Kosamak of Cambodia escaped an assassination attempt when a present for the Queen was opened instead by the Chief of Protocol, Prince Norodom Vakrivin. A bomb inside the package exploded, killing Vakrivin and two other servants.[61] Ten years later, Tran Kim Tuyen, who had been director of intelligence for South Vietnam at the time, admitted that the gift box had been prepared on orders of Ngo Dinh Nhu, because the Queen was known to enjoy opening her own gifts.[62]
  • Born: Tony DeFranco, Canadian pop singer
  • Died: David Carr, a 25-year-old English sailor, died at the Manchester Royal Infirmary from an unknown disease that destroyed his immune system, and tissue samples were saved for future study. Thirty years later, a team of researchers would conclude that Carr (whose name would be revealed by a newspaper expose′) had been infected with HIV, more than 20 years before the virus's identification as the cause of AIDS, and reported their results in the July 7, 1990, issue of The Lancet.[63] By 1995, the diagnosis was again called into doubt.[64]


  1. ^ Deborah Cowley, Georges Vanier, Soldier: The Wartime Letters and Diaries, 1915–1919 (Dundurn Press Ltd., 2000), p301
  2. ^ "The New Godfather", by Michael Daly, New York Magazine, June 23, 1986, p30
  3. ^ Vladimir A. Kozlov, Elaine McClarnand MacKinnon translator, Mass Uprisings in the USSR: Protest and Rebellion in the Post-Stalin Years (M.E. Sharpe, 2002), pp32–43
  4. ^ Richard A Lobban, Cape Verde: Crioulo Colony to Independent Nation (Westview Press, 1998), pp89–90
  5. ^ "Army Unveils Secret Weapon for 1965 – a Super-Soldier", Independent (Long Beach, California), August 4, 1959, pA-6
  6. ^ Nick Cullather, Illusions of Influence: The Political Economy of United States-Philippines Relations, 1942–1960 (Stanford University Press, 1994), pp156–157; "Chronology", The World Almanac and book of facts 1960 (New York World-Telegram Corporation, 1960), p114
  7. ^ Mark Wheelis, Lajos Rózsa and Malcolm Dando, Deadly Cultures: Biological Weapons Since 1945 (Harvard University Press, 2006), p403
  8. ^ Joseph Smith and Simon Davis, Historical Dictionary of the Cold War (Rowman & Littlefield, 2000), pp88–89
  9. ^ "Once Mighty Flying Fortress On Its Last And Lonely Trip", Las Vegas Daily Optic, August 20, 1959, p11
  10. ^ Matthias Jakob and Oldrich Hungr, Debris-flow Hazards and Related Phenomena (Springer, 2005), p556
  11. ^ "TNT Blast Levels 6 Blocks, Kills 9", Oakland Tribune, August 7, 1959, p1
  12. ^ P.N. Sharma, Politics Of Peace: U N General Assembly (Abhinav Publications, 1977), p188
  13. ^ Salahuddin Ahmed, Bangladesh: Past and Present (APH Publishing, 2004), p153
  14. ^ Jared Brown, Moss Hart: A Prince of the Theatre: A Biography In Three Acts (Back Stage Books, 2006), p59
  15. ^ Report on Decker Fire Archived April 1, 2012, at the Wayback Machine.
  16. ^ John Catchpole, Project Mercury: NASA's First Manned Space Programme (Springer, 2001), p38
  17. ^ Fred Bronson, The Billboard Book of Number 1 Hits (Billboard Books, 2003), p48
  18. ^ "Carter Hits Mighty 600 Foot Homer", El Paso Herald-Post, August 12, 1959, p16
  19. ^ "650-Foot Homer ... Longest?", El Paso Herald-Post, August 18, 1959, p18; Elysian Fields Quarterly
  20. ^ International Airport Guide
  21. ^ Gregg Ivers and Kevin T. McGuire, Creating Constitutional Change: Clashes Over Power and Liberty in the Supreme Court (University of Virginia Press, 2004), p20; "Club-Swinging Police Beat Back Crowd at Central High", Blytheville (Ark.) Courier News, August 12, 1959, p1;
  22. ^ Warren Upham and Patricia C. Harpole, Minnesota Place Names: A Geographical Encyclopedia (Minnesota Historical Society Press, 2001), pp157–58
  23. ^ Balázs Szalontai, Kim Il Sung in the Khrushchev era: Soviet-DPRK Relations and the Roots of North Korean Despotism, 1953–1964 (Stanford University Press, 2005) p146
  24. ^ Robert B. Kaplan and Richard B. Baldauf, Jr., Language and Language-in-Education Planning in the Pacific Basin (Springer, 2003), pp72–73
  25. ^ Jeff Miller, Going Long: The Wild 10-Year Saga of the Renegade American Football League in the Words of Those Who Lived It (McGraw-Hill Professional, 2003), pp7–8
  26. ^ Encyclopedia of Optical Engineering (Vol. 3), CRC Press, 2003), pp2049–50
  27. ^ Harry Foreman, Ed., Nuclear Power and the Public (University of Minnesota Press, 1970), pp149–150
  28. ^ "Second Typhoon Hits Central Japan", San Antonio Light, August 14, 1959, p28
  29. ^ "Jetliner Crashes On Training Flight", Oakland Tribune, August 16, 1959, p1
  30. ^ Queensland's 50 years of news Archived July 16, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.
  31. ^ Ed Cooper, Soul of the Rockies: Portraits of America's Largest Mountain Range (Globe Pequot, 2008), p34; David Lavender, The Rockies (University of Nebraska Press, 2003), p9
  32. ^ "Ballistic Missiles on Soviet Subs", Oakland Tribune, August 17, 1959, p1
  33. ^ Thomas W. Petrisko, Fatima's Third Secret Explained (St. Andrews Productions, 2001), pp50–55
  34. ^ M.C. Ricklefs, A History of Modern Indonesia Since c. 1200 (Stanford University Press, 2002), p323
  35. ^ John E. Jessup, An Encyclopedic Dictionary of Conflict and Conflict Resolution, 1945–1996 (Greenwood Publishing Group, 1998), p153; Inter-American Commission on Human Rights Archived May 30, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.
  36. ^ Lee Lowenfish, Branch Rickey: Baseball's Ferocious Gentleman (University of Nebraska Press, 2007), pp558–59
  37. ^ "60 Firemen Hurt As Tanks Blow Up", Oakland Tribune, August 18, 1959, p1
  38. ^ "Berserk Elephant Attacks At Ritual; 20 Killed in Crush", Charleston (W.V.) Daily Mail, August 20, 1959, p34
  39. ^ Amos Jenkins Peaslee, International Governmental Organizations (BRILL, 1979), p266
  40. ^ "Storm Sinks Ship; 100 Feared Lost", Oakland Tribune, August 21, 1959, p1
  41. ^ "Hawaii Becomes 50th Star In New US Flag" The Fresno Bee, August 22, 1959, p3-A
  42. ^ "Bernstein, N.Y. Philharmonic Smash hit in Moscow Debut", Oakland Tribune, August 23, 1959, p1
  43. ^ Ebbets Field
  44. ^ "Congress Seats 3 Hawaii Solons", Oakland Tribune, August 24, 1959, p4
  45. ^ Congressional Deskbook: The Practical and Comprehensive Guide to Congress (The Capitol Net Inc, 2007), pp218–19
  46. ^ Mark A. Ryan, David M. Finkelstein and Michael A. McDevitt, Chinese Warfighting: The PLA Experience Since 1949 (M.E. Sharpe, 2003), p177
  47. ^ Dilip Hiro, War Without End: The Rise of Islamist Terrorism and Global Response (Routledge, 2002), pp192–193
  48. ^ Kenneth T. Walsh, Air Force One: A History of the Presidents and Their Planes (Hyperion, 2003), pp57–58
  49. ^ Patrick C. Paternie, MINI (MotorBooks/MBI Publishing Company, 2002), p60
  50. ^ Lavinia Stan, Transitional Justice in Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet Union: Reckoning With the Communist Past (Taylor & Francis, 2009), p158
  51. ^ Joseph Nathan Kane, Famous First Facts, 4th Ed., (Ace Books, 1974) p550
  52. ^ Lawrence E. Lamb, Inside the Space Race: A Space Surgeon's Diary (BookPros, LLC, 2006), pp104–111
  53. ^ Mark Ford, ed., Frank O'Hara: Selected Poems (reissue Random House, Inc., 2008), pp247–48
  54. ^ Cheng Guan Ang, The Vietnam War From the Other Side: The Vietnamese Communists' Perspective (Routledge, 2002), pp41–42
  55. ^ "32 Killed in Crash of Suspension Car", Oakland Tribune, August 29, 1959, p1
  56. ^ K. Warikoo, Himalayan Frontiers of India: Historical, Geo-Political and Strategic Perspectives (Taylor & Francis, 2009), p141
  57. ^ Walter Everett, The Beatles as Musicians: The Quarry Men Through Rubber Soul (Oxford University Press US, 2001), p40
  58. ^ "9 Killed By Lightning in Wide Storm", Oakland Tribune, August 30, 1959, p1
  59. ^ Virginia Thompson and Richard Adloff, Djibouti and the Horn of Africa (Stanford University Press, 1968), p75
  60. ^ "The Murders and the Musical", by Mike McAlary, New York Magazine, November 10, 1997, pp38–44
  61. ^ "Royal Pair Miss Death By Bomb", Oakland Tribune, September 1, 1959, p3
  62. ^ Philip Short, Pol Pot: Anatomy of a Nightmare (Macmillan, 2006), p126
  63. ^ Gerald Corbitt, Andrew S. Bailey and George Williams, HIV infection in Manchester, 1959, The Lancet, Volume 336, Issue 8706, Page 51, 7 July 1990
  64. ^ Edward Hooper, The River: A Journey to the Source of HIV and AIDS (Back Bay Books, 2000) pp 20–25, 919, 1001