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The Headline News and Key Facts of 1963


On the National Scene

Dr. Martin Luther King delivers his "I Have a Dream" speech at the Lincoln Memorial to commemorate the centennial of the Emancipation Proclamation. More than 200,000 Americans will march in Washington in support of civil rights.

Martin Luther King 1963

Gordon Cooper makes America's longest spaceflight with 22 orbits around the earth.

The Supreme Court rules that reading verses from the Bible in public schools is unconstitutional. 

Soviet Missiles out of Cuba but Soviet troops remain.

Sniper kills Negro leder Medgar Evers.

Direct hotline between Washington and Moscow is put in operation.


For the first time in U.S. history the majority of college-age Americans are enrolled in college and universities.

U.S. Postal rates go up to five cents for the first ounce.

AT&T introduces touch-tone telephones.

"The Feminine Mystique" by Betty Friedan marks the beginning of the feminist movement.

Dr. Michael DeBakey uses an artificial heart to take over the functions of the heart during surgery.

Beatles first hit "I Wanna Hold Your Hand" is released.

Surf-rock lands dozens of guitar led instrumentals on the charts while the Beach Boys dominate the airwaves with a string of hit singles and three Top Ten albums in this year alone and are joined on the scene by Jan & Dean who notch the only surf rock #1 hit with "Surf City," written by The Beach Boys' Brian Wilson.

The Girl Group sound explodes as Phil Spector becomes the dominant producer in rock churning out hits by the Ronettes, Crystals and Darlene Love, while others such as Lesley Gore and The Chiffons top the charts as well.

Motown leads a revitalization of R&B with huge successes by Martha & The Vandellas, The Miracles, Mary Wells, Marvin Gaye and the first hit by the 12 year genius "Little" Stevie Wonder.

James Brown's album "Live At The Apollo" becomes the first LP by a pure R&B artist to hit the Top Five on the album charts and introduces the chitlin' circuit show and raw soul music to America.

Wolfman Jack begins broadcasting via a half million watt radio station, XERF out of Mexico. The powerful "border radio" stations are famous for their wild on-air activities and powerful broadcast signals that allow them to be heard across the entire North American continent, making Wolfman Jack the most famous rock 'n' roll DJ in the world.


The Yankees are in the World Series once again; but this year they lose to the Dodgers in four straight as Sandy Koufax leads the way

The Chicago Bears beats the New York Giants for the NFL championship.

Our President Has Been Killed

President Kennedy is assassinated in Dallas; two days later, his accused killer, Lee Harvey Oswald, is shot and killed by Jack Ruby.


JFK AssassinationRuby shooting Oswald

New York renames its Idlewild airport in memory of the assassinated president.

Movies and Television 

The Academy award for Best Picture goes to "Tom Jones." The most expensive film ever made, Cleopatra, starring Elizabeth Taylor is the year's top box office hit but still loses millions. Best actor award went to Sidney Poitier in Lilies Of The Field. Ian Fleming's Secret Agent 007, James Bond, starring Sean Connery in Dr. No hits the screen. Other hits at the box office were It's A Mad Mad Mad Mad World and Irma La Douce.

Alfred Hitchcock's movie The Byrds is a huge success.

CBS and NBC expand their nightly news telecasts from 15 minutes to 30 minutes. The fall's most popular shows are The Beverly Hillbillies, Bonanza, The Dick Van Dyke Show, Petticoat Junction and The Andy Griffith Show.

Click Here for Billboard's Top Ten hits of the day for 1963.


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