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1962 History, Trivia and Fun Facts

<< - 1961

1962 History Snapshot

  • Still Burning: The Centralia Mine Fire has been burning in Pennsylvania since 1962.
  • The Top Song was I Can't Stop Loving You by Ray Charles
  • The Big Movies included How The West Was Won, Bon Voyage! and The Machurian Candidate
  • Price of Ford Galaxy automobile in 1962: $2,645.00
    19 inch Lawn Mower: $49.88
  • The World Population was ~ 3,137,000,000
  • The LED light was invented in 1962 by Nick Holonyak at General Electric.
  • Dee Dee Sharp's The Mashed Potato was a dance that kept pace with The Twist for a few months. If it didn't have to be compared to The Twist, it would be still be considered a monster hit.
    The computer mouse was invented at the Stanford Research Institute.
  • And... The shortest Oscar Speech ever was given by Patty Duke in 1962, age 16, and she was the youngest person to accept an Oscar in a competitive category (for The Miracle Worker) said "Thank You" and walked off the stage.

World Series Champions

New York Yankees

NFL Champions

Green Bay Packers

AFL Champions

Dallas Texans

National Basketball Association Champions

Boston Celtics

NHL Stanley Cup Champions

Toronto Maple Leafs

US Open Golf

Jack Nicklaus

US Open Tennis (Men Ladies)

Rodney Laver/Margaret Smith

Wimbledon (Men/Women)

Rodney Laver/Karen Susman

FIFA World Cup Soccer


NCAA Football Champions


NCAA Basketball Champions


Bowl Games

Orange Bowl: January 1, 1962 - LSU over Colorado
Rose Bowl: January 1, 1962 - Minnesota over UCLA
Sugar Bowl : January 1, 1962 - Alabama over Arkansas

Kentucky Derby


Westminster Kennel Best in Show Dog

Elfinbrook Simon

Time Magazine's Man of the Year

Pope John XXIII

Miss America

Maria Fletcher (Asheville, NC)

Miss USA

Macel Leilani (Hawaii)

Fashion Icons and Movie Stars

Brigitte Bardot, 'Wilhelmina' Cooper, Doris Day, Annette Funicello, Audrey Hepburn, Anna Karina, Sophia Loren, Jayne Mansfield, Marilyn Monroe, Mary Tyler Moore, Rita Moreno, Julie Newmar, Kim Novak, Donna Reed, Jean Shrimpton, Elizabeth Taylor, Tuesday Weld

"The Quotes"

"Heeere's Johnnny!"
- Ed McMahon on the Tonight Show

"With a name like Smuckerís, it has to be good"

"We Try Harder"

"Think small"
- Volkwagon

"Bond. James Bond."
- Sean Connery, in Dr. No

President Kennedy invited 49 Nobel Laureates for dinner at the White House. Kennedy remarked, "I think this is the most extraordinary collection of talent, of human knowledge, that has ever been gathered at the White House, with the possible exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone."

During the Cuban Missile Crisis, Secretary of State Dean Acheson offered the President of France photographs of Russian missiles on Cuban soil, Charles de Gaulle responded "I do not wish to see the photographs. The word of the president of the United States is good enough for me."

Marilyn Monroe said in an interview for Life Magazine in 1962 "I never quite understood it, this sex symbol. I always thought symbols were those things you clash together! That's the trouble, a sex symbol becomes a thing. I just hate to be a thing."

The shortest Oscar Speech ever was given by Patty Duke in 1962, who at age 16, the youngest person to accept an Oscar in a competitive category, said "Thank You" and walked off the stage.

1962 Pop Culture History

Greek-Canadian Sam Panopoulos is credited for creating the first Hawaiian pizza at the Satellite Restaurant in Chatham, Ontario, Canada in 1962.

Vasili Arkhipov, a senior officer on a Soviet submarine, refused to launch a nuclear torpedo in October 1962, perhaps preventing WWIII

Although Stan Lee gave the Incredible Hulk's alter ego the alliterative name "Bruce Banner", Lee misremembered it and referred to him as "Bob Banner" in some later stories, an error which readers quickly picked up on. To resolve this discrepancy he decided the official name is "Robert Bruce Banner".

The Jetsons only aired 3 seasons, the first in 1962 and the second and third in 1985-1987, over two decades later

Jackie Chan's first movie appearance, Big and Little Wong Tin Bar (1962), was considered to be a lost film, as no known copies of the film existed. However, this was not the case, because on February 3rd, 2016, the entire movie was suddenly uploaded to YouTube.

Telstar was launched as the first working communications satellite.

The word 'thermos' used to be a trademark for vacuum flasks, until 1962 when US courts ruled it had become generic.

The 1962 groundbreaking ceremony for the Houston Astrodome was done not with shovels, but with six-guns.

The "Big 3" in US discount retailing stores (Wal-Mart, Kmart and Target) all opened their first stores in the same year, 1962. The first Target (Tar-zhay) store opened in Roseville, Minnesota.

When John Glenn flew above Perth, Australia in 1962 aboard Friendship 7, the city's homes, cars, and streetlights were lit for him. When Glenn returned to space aboard STS-95 in 1998, Perth repeated their act of friendship. Due to a glitch in John Glenn's radio, when capsule communicator Scott Carpenter uttered the famous phrase "Godspeed, John Glenn., he didn't hear the line during launch.

The light-emitting diode (LED) invented Nick Holonyak, while working for General Electric.

1930's actress Hedy Lamarr invented a new technology to stop Nazis from jamming Navy torpedoes, but the idea was rejected until 1962 and then implemented during the Cold War. Her frequency hopping technology is also the basis for modern Bluetooth.

President JFK purchased 1,200 Cuban cigars just hours before he ordered the Cuban Trade Embargo in 1962.

The setting of the Silent Hill movie took inspiration from real world Centralia, Pennsylvania. Centralia has been largely abandoned since 1962 due to an underground mine fire.

Seven year old Yo-Yo Ma performed in front of Presidents Kennedy and Eisenhower on national TV.

In 1962, Winston Churchill became the first ever Honorary Citizen of the United States.

Guitar distortion in Marty Robbins 1961 song Don't Worry was due to an electrical fault in the guitarist's amp. Other musicians sought to recreate this "fuzz" sound leading to the first purpose-designed commercial distortion circuit being released in 1962.

At the University of Texas at Austin, Janis Joplin was voted "ugliest man on campus"

LIFE magazine published an article about Lauri Rapala and his fishing lures. The cover featured recently deceased Marilyn Monroe and it became the magazine's best selling issue. Consequently, Rapala received millions of orders and is today the leading lure manufacturer in the world.

An epidemic of contagious laughter broke out in Tanzania in 1962, which lasted over six months and affected thousands of people.

Walter O'Malley, former owner of the Brooklyn/LA Dodgers was so determined to start the 1962 opening series in Dodger Stadium, that he had people dry the playing field with an F-84 jet engine after heavy rains threatened a relocation.

The Philips Company of the Netherlands invented and released the first audio-cassette.

Do you remember, before 1962, when you could not get Goldfish Crackers at your local store? Pepperidge Farm remembers.

You could by a fall-out shelter for as little as $100, feeding your family radiation-free for up to two weeks. Models were priced at $5000 and even higher as well.

Decca Records A&R executive Dick Rowe turned down the Beatles for a record deal and reportedly told their manager, "Guitar groups are on the way out." He made up for the mistake by signing the Rolling Stones the following year.

RIP, Scandals, Sad and Odd News

In 1962, special, hi-tech locks were added to all US nuclear missiles that would prevent launch without a secret, unique launch code. However, military officials quietly circumvented this safeguard by setting every locK to "00000000". The codes remained unchanged until 1977.

Starfish Prime was a US test atomic bomb detonated in space with a force 100 times larger than that of the one on Nagasaki. It generated a mild EMP strike inHawaii and wiped out several satellites.

Berthe Mayne was a Belgian singer who claimed to her family to have survived the sinking of the Titanic, traveling 1st class under an alias as the mistress of a young Canadian millionaire. No one believed her until after her death in 1962, when her belongings and correspondence corroborated the story.

Peter Fechter, an 18 year old East German who was shot by East German troops trying to cross the Berlin Wall, was caught in barbed wire, and bled to death in front of the world's media, as police tried to throw him bandages.

In and near a village in Tanganyika, a laughter epidemic occurred.The cause was found to be an increase in stress due to higher expectations from parents and teachers placed upon the students after the nation's recent victory in gaining independence.

An intruder climbing the fence at a Minnesota air base set off the "sabotage alarm" in all bases in the area. In one base, due to wrong wiring, the klaxon alarm was sounded ordering nuclear-armed aircraft to take off, and the pilots believed WW3 had started. The intruder was a bear.

A plan to attack American cities - a 'false flag' - to justify war with Cuba was approved by the Joint Chiefs of Staff in 1962. Rejected by President Kennedy, Operation Northwoods remained classified for 35 years.

The NFL allowed tacklers to grab the ball carrier by the face mask until 1962.

Marilyn Monroe's death was caused by an overdose of sleeping pills. Conspiracy theories involve the mob, President John F. Kennedy and his brother Robert Kennedy. Ex-husband and baseball great Joe DiMaggio took care of all of the funeral arrangements although the couple had divorced in 1954.

October 22-28 was probably the closest we ever came to nuclear war - The Cuban Missle Crisis was officially over on November 2. During the Cuban Missile Crisis, President John F. Kennedy's mother Rose Kennedy had Nikita Khrushchev sign a photo of himself for her signature collection, and she then sent it to JFK and asked him to add his signature

During the 1962 Szczecin military parade a tank of the Polish People's Army accidentally crushed bystanders, killing seven children and injuring many more. It was covered up for many years by the Polish communist authorities. Families of the dead children were told to not discuss the incident.

Mike Wallace's oldest son Peter went missing while exploring in Greece. Wallace flew to Greece alone, asked questions, followed his son's last known locations and found his body at the bottom of a hill where he fell while hiking.

Rock and Roll Death: ex-Beatle Stuart Sutcliff (brain hemorrhage)

Comedian Lenny Bruce was arrested for using the word "schmuck" on stage. "Schmuck" is a Yiddish swear word for "penis", and is considered deeply offensive in Yiddish speaking communities. The police asked a young George Carlin in the audience to show his ID, to which he responded, "I don't believe in ID." He was promptly arrested.

US spy planes were taking photos of Cuba. Those who analyzed them noticed something peculiar. They were building soccer fields. They knew Cubans didn't play soccer, they like baseball. Russians like soccer. This is how the Cuban Missile Crisis started.

Firsts and the Biggest Christmas Gifts

Tammy fashion doll, Mille Bornes Card Game , King Zor, LEGO Model Sets (with wheels), Boob Tube, Slinky*, Password TV Game home version, smooth & plastic wiffle bat is introduced, Limbo Party Kit

Glenn Bell's first Taco Bell opened in Downey, California.

The first computer video Game , Spacewar, was invented.

Audio cassetes were invented.

The first Vail Ski Resort opened in 1962.

Castle of Frankenstein Magazine (1962-1975)

The Habits

Twisting and Limbo!
Reading Rachel Carson's Silent Spring, which started the environmentalist movement.
Reading Ship of Fools by Katherine Anne Porter
Reading Pale Fire by Vladimir Nabokov
Reading A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess

1962/63 Biggest Television Shows

(according to Nielsen TV Research)
1. Beverly Hillbillies (CBS)
2. Candid Camera (CBS)
3. The Red Skelton Show (CBS)
4. Bonanza (NBC)
5. The Lucy Show (CBS)
6. The Andy Griffith Show (CBS)
7. Ben Casey (ABC)
8. The Danny Thomas Show (CBS)
9. The Dick Van Dyke Show (CBS)
10. Gunsmoke (CBS)

Popular Music Artists

The Biggest Pop Artists of 1962 include
Bobby Darin, Bobby Vee, Brenda Lee, Bruce Channel, Chubby Checker, The Crystals, Connie Francis, The Contours, Dee Dee Sharp, Dion, Elvis Presley, The 4 Seasons, Gene Chandler, Gene Pitney, Jackie Wilson, Joey Dee & the Starlighters, Jimmy Deen, Johnny Tillotson, Little Eva, The Marvelettes, Mary Wells, The Miracles, Neil Sedaka, The Orlons, Ray Charles, Sam Cooke, Neil Sedaka, The Shirelles, Tommy Roe

(Data is complied from various charts including: Billboard's Pop, Rock, Airplay, R&B/Dance and Singles Charts. The Hot 100 is the primary chart used for this list.)

Number One Hits of 1962

December 18, 1961 - January 12, 1962: The Tokens - The Lion Sleeps Tonight

January 13, 1962 - January 26, 1962: Chubby Checker - The Twist

January 27, 1962 - February 16, 1962: Joey Dee and the Starliters - Peppermint Twist - Part 1

February 17, 1962 - March 9, 1962: Gene Chandler - Duke of Earl

March 10, 1962 - March 30, 1962: Bruce Channel - Hey! Baby

March 31, 1962 - April 6, 1962: Connie Francis - Don't Break the Heart That Loves You

April 7, 1962 - April 20, 1962: Shelley Fabares - Johnny Angel

April 21, 1962 - May 4, 1962: Elvis Presley - Good Luck Charm

May 5, 1962 - May 25, 1962: The Shirelles - Soldier Boy

May 26, 1962 - June 1, 1962: Mr. Acker Bilk - Stranger on the Shore

June 2, 1962 - July 6, 1962: Ray Charles - I Can't Stop Loving You

July 7, 1962 - July 13, 1962: David Rose - The Stripper

July 14, 1962 - August 10, 1962: Bobby Vinton - Roses Are Red (My Love)

August 11, 1962 - August 24, 1962: Neil Sedaka - Breaking Up Is Hard to Do

August 25, 1962 - August 31, 1962: Little Eva - The Loco-Motion

September 1, 1962 - September 14, 1962: Tommy Roe - Sheila

September 15, 1962 - October 19, 1962: The Four Seasons - Sherry

October 20, 1962 - November 2, 1962: Bobby "Boris" Pickett and the Crypt-Kickers - Monster Mash

November 3, 1962 - November 16, 1962: The Crystals - He's a Rebel

November 17, 1962 - December 21, 1962: The Four Seasons - Big Girls Don't Cry

December 22, 1962 - January 11, 1963: The Tornados - Telstar

Popular Movies

Billy Budd, Birdman of Alcatraz, Capre Fear, The Day of the Triffids, Days of Wine and Roses, Dr. No, Girls! Girls! Girls!, Gypsy, How the West Was Won, King Kong vs. Godzilla, Lawrence of Arabia, The Longest Day, Lolita, The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner, The Longest Day, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, The Manchurian Candidate, The Miracle Worker, Mondo Cane (or A Dog's Life), The Music Man, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Trial, Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?

More Pop Culture History Resources

Popular Music in 1962
# 1 Hits of 1962
Pop Culture News

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