March 1963

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The following events occurred in March 1963:

March 7, 1963: Pan Am Building (now the MetLife Building) opens in New York
March 21, 1963: Alcatraz prison closes
March 12, 1963: Lee Harvey Oswald buys a rifle by mail order
March 5, 1963: Country music star Patsy Cline killed in plane crash

March 1, 1963 (Friday)[edit]

  • Eurocontrol, the European Organisation for the Safety of Air Navigation, came into existence as an international treaty signed on December 13, 1960, by West Germany, France, the United Kingdom, Belgium, Netherlands and Luxembourg became effective.[1]
  • Died: Felice Casorati, 79, Italian painter, sculptor, and printmaker

March 2, 1963 (Saturday)[edit]

  • The first attempt at liver transplantation in a human being was made by a team in Denver, led by Dr. Thomas Starzl. The patient, an unidentified 3-year-old child, died shortly after the surgery. On July 23, 1967, Dr. Starzl would perform the first liver transplant where a patient survived for longer than one year.[2]
  • At Beijing, Pakistan Foreign Minister (and future Prime Minister) Zulfikar Ali Bhutto signed a formal agreement with China's Foreign Minister, Chen Yi to confirm the boundary between the two nations. Pakistan gave up 2,700 square miles of Kashmir property that was also claimed by India, while gaining 750 square miles of land from China.[3]
  • Born: Tanyu Kiryakov, Bulgarian Olympic pistol shooting champion and gold medalist in 1988 and 2000; in Ruse

March 3, 1963 (Sunday)[edit]

March 4, 1963 (Monday)[edit]

  • In Paris, six people were sentenced to death for conspiring to assassinate President Charles de Gaulle.[8] Three of the men— Georges Watin, Serge Bernier and Lajos Marton— had eluded capture and were tried, convicted and sentenced in absentia. Lt. Col. Jean-Marie Bastien-Thiry, Lt. Alain de Bougernet, and Jacques Prevost were put on death row. De Gaulle would pardon all but Bastien-Thiry, who would be executed by firing squad on March 11.
  • The Mona Lisa was displayed in the United States for the last time, when the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City closed at 9:00 pm. The painting was loaded on to a ship the next day for its return to Paris and the Louvre Museum.[9]
  • For the first time, the election for the office of Chairman of the Tribal Council of the Navajo Nation was contested among multiple candidates. Paul Jones, who had been the chief executive for the semi-sovereign Navajos since 1955, was defeated by Raymond Nakai, a radio announcer employed in Flagstaff, Arizona.
  • A break in the nearly three-month-long New York City newspaper strike saw the New York Post become the first of nine daily papers to settle with striking printers and to resume publication.[10]
  • Kuwait was admitted to the United Nations by unanimous vote of the General Assembly, after the Soviet Union dropped its opposition to the emirate's membership.[11]
  • Born: Jason Newsted, American heavy metal bass guitar player for Metallica, in Battle Creek, Michigan
  • Died:

March 5, 1963 (Tuesday)[edit]

  • In Camden, Tennessee, country music superstar Patsy Cline (Virginia Patterson Hensley) was killed in a plane crash along with fellow performers Hawkshaw Hawkins, Cowboy Copas and Cline's manager and pilot Randy Hughes, after returning from a benefit performance in Kansas City, Kansas, for country radio disc jockey "Cactus" Jack Call.[12]
  • In China, the "Learn from Lei Feng" campaign was instituted by Chairman Mao Zedong, making a hero of the 21-year-old soldier who had been accidentally killed on August 15, 1962.[13]
  • Born: Joe Exotic (Joseph Maldonado-Passage), American zoo owner and convicted felon profiled as the "Tiger King" in the Netflix documentary series of the same name; in Garden City, Kansas

March 6, 1963 (Wednesday)[edit]

  • Prime Minister Robert Menzies of Australia opened the new Monaro Shopping Centre, one of the first shopping malls in Australia, in Canberra. In 1989, the structure would be expanded and become the Canberra Centre.[14]
  • Great Britain's longest, coldest winter in the 20th century started to come to an end, with the ground being snow-free for the first time since the blizzard over the Christmas period. Many places saw their first frost-free night of the year and since before Christmas. The south saw temperatures rose above freezing and into the low 60s Fahrenheit (17 °C).[15]
  • Construction began on the Unisphere, a 120-foot diameter Earth globe and the symbol of the 1964 World's Fair in New York.[16]

March 7, 1963 (Thursday)[edit]

  • The 58-story tall Pan Am Building (now the MetLife Building) opened at 200 Park Avenue in New York City. With more than three million square feet of floor space, it was the largest commercial office building in the world at the time of its completion.[17]
  • The Front de libération du Québec (FLQ), a militant organization seeking to make Quebec independent of the rest of Canada, made its first attack, firebombing a wooden building in Montreal at the Canadian National Railway.[18]
  • The first horse race meeting in England since December 23, 1962 took place, after scheduled races had been called off due to the severe winter conditions.
  • Born: Kim Ung-yong, South Korean engineer and former child prodigy listed by Guinness for "Highest IQ", with a measured intelligence quotient of 210; in Seoul

March 8, 1963 (Friday)[edit]

March 9, 1963 (Saturday)[edit]

March 10, 1963 (Sunday)[edit]

March 11, 1963 (Monday)[edit]

  • An unidentified flying object, described as a "hazy white light" was seen by hundreds of residents of the "Big Island" of Hawaii, where it hovered for more than five minutes.[28]
  • Born: Alex Kingston, English actress, in Epsom, Surrey
  • Died: Jean Bastien-Thiry, 35, French military officer and engineer, was executed by firing squad after being convicted of attempting to assassinate French President Charles de Gaulle on August 22, 1962,

March 12, 1963 (Tuesday)[edit]

  • Lee Harvey Oswald, using the name of "A. Hidell", mailed a money order in the amount of $21.45 to Klein's Sporting Goods of Chicago, along with a coupon clipped from the February 1963 issue of American Rifleman magazine, to purchase a rifle that would be used eight months later to kill President John F. Kennedy.[29]
  • Born: Randall Kenan, American author, in Brooklyn

March 13, 1963 (Wednesday)[edit]

  • Ernesto Miranda, a 22-year-old warehouse employee, was arrested in Phoenix, Arizona, on suspicion of rape, and subsequently convicted based on statements that he made to the police without being advised of his constitutional right not to incriminate himself. He would fight the conviction to the United States Supreme Court, leading to the landmark 1966 decision in Miranda v. Arizona. His name lives on in the name of the instructions that all police are required to give to persons arrested, beginning with "You have the right to remain silent", referred to as the Miranda warning, and in the phrase "Miranda rights".[30]
  • The Soviet Union announced that the Chairman Mao Zedong, of the People's Republic of China, had invited Soviet Chairman Nikita Khrushchev to visit Beijing. Chairman Mao had made the proposal on February 23 to Soviet Ambassador Stepan Chervonenko, in an effort to close the growing rift between the world's two largest Communist nations.[31]
  • Up and coming heavyweight boxer Cassius Clay almost had his career derailed in a bout at New York City's Madison Square Garden, against Doug Jones. Although the future Muhammad Ali, had predicted he would defeat Jones in four rounds, Clay appeared to be losing the bout as it went into round 7. Scheduled for only ten rounds, the fight ended in a decision in favor of Clay, with many in the crowd protesting that it had been fixed. Clay would win the right to face Sonny Liston the following year, and win the title.[32]
  • Lake Powell began to form inside the Arizona's Glen Canyon, as construction of a dam of the Colorado River neared completion, though it would not be considered completely full until March 13, 1980; it is now the second largest man-made lake in the United States.[33]
  • Dmitriy Ustinov was appointed as the new First Deputy Premier of the Soviet Union by Premier Nikita Khrushchev. He would later serve as the Soviet Minister of Defense.

March 14, 1963 (Thursday)[edit]

  • In the British courts, Ridge v Baldwin, a landmark case in the law of judicial review, was decided on appeal, holding that a public official cannot be dismissed without first being given notice of the grounds on which the decision was made, as well as an opportunity to be heard in his own defence.[34]
  • Mohammad Yusuf, Afghanistan's Minister of Mines and Industry, became the new Prime Minister of Afghanistan, as King Mohammed Zahir Shah appointed the first cabinet that did not include any members of the royal family, and the first to be dominated by technical experts.[35]

March 15, 1963 (Friday)[edit]

  • The first confirmed penetration of United States airspace by Soviet military aircraft took place with two violations on the same day over the state of Alaska. One Soviet reconnaissance plane flew over Nelson Island, while the other made a pass over Nunivak Island.[36]
  • Lloyd Aéreo Boliviano Flight 915 departed from the Chilean city of Arica at noon with 41 people on board for a one-hour flight to the Bolivian capital of La Paz, and never arrived.[37] The wreckage of the Douglas DC-6 airplane was found at the Chachakumani Mountain in Bolivia, where impact had occurred in poor weather.[38]
  • The Saturday Evening Post magazine issued a statement that athletic director Wally Butts of Georgia, and college football coach Bear Bryant of Alabama, had "fixed" the September 22, 1962, game between the Georgia Bulldogs and the Alabama Crimson Tide. According to the Post, its upcoming issue on March 19 would give details of Butts supplying Georgia's plays to Bryant in advance of Alabama's 35-0 win in a game where the point spread was a 14 to 17 point win. Both Bryant and Butts denied the allegations.[39] Butts would win a $3,000,000 libel judgment against the Post on August 20.[40]
  • Died: Victor Feguer, 27, became the last federal inmate executed in the United States before the 1972 moratorium on the death penalty, after being his conviction for kidnapping a physician in Iowa and murdering him in Illinois. Feguer, who had been held at the federal penitentiary in Leavenworth, Kansas, had been transported to the Iowa State Penitentiary, where he was hanged,[41] becoming the last person to be legally executed in the state of Iowa. For the next 38 years, no more federal inmates would be put to death until the June 11, 2001, lethal injection of terrorist Timothy McVeigh.

March 16, 1963 (Saturday)[edit]

  • The British scientific journal, Nature, published an article by Maarten Schmidt entitled "3C 273 : A Star-Like Object with Large Red-Shift", marking the first announcement of the discovery of a quasar (quasi-stellar radio source).[42]
  • Died: Sir William Beveridge, 61, British economist, social reformer, and architect of the post-war welfare state in the United Kingdom.

March 17, 1963 (Sunday)[edit]

March 18, 1963 (Monday)[edit]

  • The United States Supreme Court issued its opinion in Gideon v. Wainwright, establishing the principle that any criminal defendant, unable to afford to pay for a lawyer, had an absolute right to have a public defender appointed for him or her, at government expense.[47]
  • On the same day, in Gray v. Sanders, the Court issued an 8 to 1 decision striking down the county-unit system of voting. In the U.S. state of Georgia, state law awarded at least two "unit votes" to the candidate winning even the least populated rural county, and no more than six such units to the most populated counties. Justice William O. Douglas wrote "The conception of political equality... can mean only one thing— one person, one vote." At the time of the ruling, only Georgia, Mississippi, and Maryland retained the system.[48]
  • Somalia broke diplomatic relations with the United Kingdom because of Britain's support for Kenya in a border dispute between the two African nations.[49]
  • Born: Vanessa L. Williams, American pop singer, and first African-American woman to be crowned Miss America; in Tarrytown, New York
  • Died: Sir Hubert Gough, 92, British general

March 19, 1963 (Tuesday)[edit]

  • The 89-year-old ship SS Arctic Bear, which had served in the United States Coast Guard and the navy of Canada, and had assisted the Antarctic exploration by Admiral Richard E. Byrd, was being towed from Nova Scotia to Philadelphia, where it was to be used as a floating restaurant. En route, the Bear ran into a storm and sank[50][51]
  • Born: Jake White, South African rugby player and coach, in Johannesburg, as Jacob Westerduin[52])

March 20, 1963 (Wednesday)[edit]

  • The United States and the Soviet Union signed an agreement in Rome to work jointly on a weather satellite program.[53]
  • Hope Cooke, a 22-year-old American student at Sarah Lawrence College had a royal wedding, marrying Palden Thondup Namgyal, the Crown Prince of the Himalayan Kingdom of Sikkim. For nearly ten years, she was the Queen of Sikkim, until the semi-independent monarchy was annexed into neighboring India in 1973. She later divorced Palden and returned to the United States.[54]
  • Born: David Thewlis, English actor, in Blackpool, as David Wheeler

March 21, 1963 (Thursday)[edit]

  • The Alcatraz Island federal penitentiary in San Francisco Bay closed because it cost twice as much to operate as other units in the federal system.[55] The last 27 prisoners were transferred elsewhere at the order of Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy. Frank P. Weatherman was the last of the 27 inmates to depart the prison.[56]
  • World featherweight boxing champion Davey Moore was fatally injured in a bout with challenger Sugar Ramos at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. In the 10th round, the fight was stopped after Moore had been knocked down twice and was slumped over the ropes of the boxing ring, and the Ramos was declared the new champion. Forty-five minutes later, after Moore told reporters, "I'd like to fight him again", the dethroned champion collapsed in his dressing room and never regained consciousness. Moore died four days later at a Los Angeles hospital.[57]
  • In the UK Parliament, Labour MP George Wigg asked the government to hold hearings on whether Secretary for War John Profumo had behaved inappropriately with missing 20-year-old call girl Christine Keeler.[58]
  • The United States Food and Drug Administration gave approval for the first vaccine against measles, produced by Merck Sharp & Dohme.[59]
  • At a conference of the Australian Labor Party, called to debate the building of a North-west Cape communications facility which would support the US nuclear submarine capability, Arthur Calwell and Gough Whitlam were photographed outside the venue at Kingston in Canberra. Although Calwell was the Leader of the Opposition, neither man was a member of the federal executive. Prime Minister Robert Menzies jibed that the Australian Labor Party was ruled by "36 faceless men".[60]
  • All communication was lost from the Soviet Union's Mars 1 spacecraft, which would become the first man-made object to reach Mars, because of a malfunction in its antenna. The probe would fly within 120,000 miles of Mars on June 19.[61]

March 22, 1963 (Friday)[edit]

  • The Beatles released their first album, Please Please Me.[62]
  • In response to the previous day's parliamentary question, John Profumo told the House of Commons that "there was no impropriety whatsoever in my acquaintanceship with Miss Keeler".[63] Defence Minister Profumo, who actually had had an extramarital relationship with Christine Keeler, compounded the problem by telling his fellow Members of Parliament, "I shall not hesitate to issue writs for libel and slander if scandalous allegations are made or repeated outside the House."[64]
  • The Shah of Iran, who had already started a crackdown on the nation's Shi'ite Muslims, sent soldiers to arrest theology students of the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini at the Fayziya Madrasa at Qom. Two of the students were beaten to death, and dozens other arrested, becoming the first martyrs of the Shah's campaign against the Shi'ites, and Khomeini would begin his defiance of the Shah in June.[65]

March 23, 1963 (Saturday)[edit]

  • Loyola University won the NCAA college basketball championship, defeating the University of Cincinnati Bearcats, 60-58, in overtime. The Ramblers of Loyola had played all of regulation time without ever taking the lead, and fought back from a 45-30 deficit to tie the game at 54-54 on a jump shot by Jerry Harkness, before upsetting the defending national champion Bearcats on a tip-in by Vic Rouse.[66]
  • Microbiologist Maurice Hilleman, who would develop nearly 40 vaccines, including eight of the 14 on the worldwide vaccination schedule, began the development of the Mumpsvax vaccine against the mumps virus, by harvesting the live virus from his five-year-old daughter. The strain of mumps virus that was used to develop the vaccine was given the name "Jeryl Lynn" after the little girl, Jeryl Lynn Hilleman.[67]
  • Dansevise by Grethe & Jørgen Ingmann (music by Otto Francker, text by Sejr Volmer-Sørensen) won the Eurovision Song Contest 1963 for Denmark.
  • France defeated Wales 5–3 in the final match of the 1963 Five Nations Championship in rugby, although England was already assured of the championship.
  • Died: Thoralf Skolem, 75, Norwegian mathematician

March 24, 1963 (Sunday)[edit]

  • The influential animated film Wanpaku Ōji no Orochi Taiji was released in Japan. Based on folk tales first written down in the year 712, the film was given a title that literally translated to "The Bratty Prince and the Giant Snake". It would be redubbed in English by Columbia Pictures for release in the U.S. as The Little Prince and the Eight-Headed Dragon.[68]
  • Lord Brookeborough (Basil Brooke), who had served as Prime Minister of Northern Ireland since 1943, retired. The next day, the Home Secretary of the United Kingdom appointed Terence O'Neill as the new Prime Minister.[69]

March 25, 1963 (Monday)[edit]

  • Pilot Ralph Flores and his passenger, Helen Klaben, were rescued, 49 days after their plane crashed in northern British Columbia. On February 4, Flores and Klaben had disappeared on their way back to the United States, and survived in sub-zero temperatures with almost no food for seven weeks. The story was made into the film Hey, I'm Alive, with Edward Asner and Sally Struthers portraying the two survivors.[70]
  • Isser Harel was fired as Director of the Mossad, after his defiance of Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion on attempting to stop West German scientists from working on rockets in Egypt. In Harel's place, Major General Meir Amit was appointed.[71]
  • During an official visit to Australia, Queen Elizabeth II opened the Council House, Perth.
  • Born: Robbie Fulks, American country singer, in York, Pennsylvania
  • Died:
    • Lyman Briggs, 88, American physicist, inventor and agricultural engineer
    • Davey Moore, 29, American professional boxer who lost his world featherweight championship in a bout Sugar Ramos, died of his injuries sustained in the fight.

March 26, 1963 (Tuesday)[edit]

March 27, 1963 (Wednesday)[edit]

British Rail network, as it would have become, if "Beeching axe" plans had been fully implemented (only bolded rail lines would have remained).

March 28, 1963 (Thursday)[edit]

  • In northern Nigeria Muhammad Sanusi was forced to resign as the Emir of Kano, along with 14 other emirate officials, after a four-month investigation found irregularities in the areas finances.[77]
  • Four women in Kankakee, Illinois, claimed that they were dealt four perfect bridge hands, with the dealer getting all 13 spades in her 13 playing cards, her partner having 13 diamonds, and the other two players having 13 hearts and 13 clubs. According to a probability expert, the odds were "2,554,511,322,166,132,992,844,640,000 to one" against the event.[78] On October 22, a group of women in Jacksonville, Florida, would report being dealt four perfect hands [79] and a group of women in Fort Lauderdale, Florida would report the same incident on January 27, 1964.[80] The Guinness Book of World Records has noted that "if all the people in the world were grouped in bridge fours, and each four were dealt 120 hands a day, it would require 62 x 1012 years before one 'perfect' deal could be expected to recur." [81]
  • In Wales, Labour Party candidate Neil McBride won the Swansea East by-election caused by the death of Labour Member of Parliament (MP) David Mort.

March 29, 1963 (Friday)[edit]

  • A bolt of lightning struck the nose of a TWA Boeing 707 shortly after it took off a flight from London to New York, and tore a 21-inch by 8-inch hole in the fuselage. The TWA pilot jettisoned 10,000 gallons of fuel while circling for 35 minutes over southwestern England before safely landing at London with his 110 passengers, who included 22 Methodist ministers on their way home from a tour of Israel, MGM Films President Robert O'Brien, and film actor Warren Beatty.[82]
  • The government of Cuba made "the hostile Castro regime's first apology to the United States", conceding that Cuban MiG jets had "probably fired in error" on the Floridian, an American merchant ship the night before.[83]
  • Died:
    • Ruby Owens Fox, 54, American country singer who performed as "Texas Ruby", died in a fire at her mobile home near Nashville.[84][85]
    • Frances Jenkins Olcott, 90, American author of children's books and librarian references
    • Gaspard Fauteux, 64, Canadian parliamentarian, Speaker of the Canadian House of Commons 1945-1949 and the 19th Lieutenant Governor of Quebec (1950-1958);
    • Siyaramsharan Gupta, 67, Hindi-language poet

March 30, 1963 (Saturday)[edit]

March 31, 1963 (Sunday)[edit]

  • The 1962 New York City newspaper strike ended after 114 days. The New York Times and the New York Herald-Tribune printed and sold editions that night, at a new price (10 cents), twice as much as before the strike began on December 6.[87]
  • A military coup in Guatemala overthrew the government of President Miguel Ydígoras Fuentes, who was flown to exile in Nicaragua after the takeover by his Defense Minister, Colonel Enrique Peralta Azurdia. The coup took place after Juan José Arévalo, a Communist supporter and former President, returned to Guatemala and announced that he would run in the November presidential election. Ex-President Ydígoras, who had believed that Arévalo had a good chance of winning the race, told reporters the next day, "What is going on in Guatemala is for her own good and for the good of the rest of Central America."[88] Peralta would remain in power until 1966.[89]
  • The 1963 South American Championship football competition was won by host country Bolivia.
  • Walter Nash retired as Leader of the New Zealand Labour Party.


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  80. ^ "Four Perfect Bridge Hands Wasted", Chicago Tribune, January 29, 1964, p2-5
  81. ^ Guinness Book of World Records (1978 edition), by Norris McWhirter (Sterling Publishing, 1977) p570
  82. ^ "Lightning Rips Jet; 110 Safe", Detroit Free Press, March 30, 1963, p1
  83. ^ "CUBA APOLOGIZES TO U.S. FOR JETS' RAID ON SHIP— Havana Says MiGs 'Erred'", Detroit Free Press, March 30, 1963, p1
  84. ^ "Sixth 'Opry' Member Dies in Accident", Chicago Tribune, March 16, 1963, p2
  85. ^ "Fire Kills Ex-Star Of Grand Ole Opry", Pittsburgh Press, March 30, 1963, p12
  86. ^ Robert J. Chapuis, Amos E. Joel, 100 Years of Telephone Switching: Manual and Electromechanical Switching, 1878-1960's (IOS Press, 2003) p290
  87. ^ "News-Hungry N.Y. Gobbles Up Papers", Miami News, April 1, 1963, p1
  88. ^ "Guatemala Coup Stops Reds", Miami News, April 1, 1963, p1
  89. ^ Virginia Garrard-Burnett, Terror in the Land of the Holy Spirit: Guatemala under General Efrain Rios Montt 1982-1983 (Oxford University Press, 2010) p27