1958 1959 1960 – 1961 – 1962 1963 1964
| Decades: |
1930s 1940s 1950s – 1960s – 1970s 1980s 1990s
| Centuries: |
19th century – 20th century – 21st century
Lists of leaders:
1961 was a common year starting on Sunday (link will take you to calendar).
Table of contents
- January 1 – The farthing coin, used since the 13th century, ceases to be legal tender in the United Kingdom.
- January 3 – President Dwight Eisenhower announced that the United States had severed diplomatic and consular relations with Cuba.
- January 3 – SL-1, an atomic reactor, exploded at National Reactor Testing Station in Idaho Falls, Idaho, killing 3 military technicians.
- January 7 – Following a four-day conference conference in Casablanca, five African chiefs of state announced plans for a NATO-type African organization to ensure common defense. The Charter of Casablanca involved were Morocco, the United Arab Republic, Ghana, Guinea, and Mali.
- January 8 – Large spy ring exposed in Britain
- January 12 – President Dwight Eisenhower gave his final State of the Union Address to Congress.
- January 17 Assassination of Patrice Lumumba
- January 20 – John F. Kennedy becomes President of the United States
- January 24 – US B-52 bomber with two 24-megaton nuclear bombs crashes near Goldsboro, North Carolina
- January 25 – In Washington, DC John F. Kennedy delivers the first live presidential news conference. In it, he announces that the Soviet Union had freed the two surviving crewmen of a USAF RB-47 reconnaissance plane shot down by Soviet flyers over the Barents Sea July 1, 1960. (see RB-47H shot down)
- January 25 – Acting to halt 'leftist excesses,' a junta comprised of two army officers and 4 civilians took over the rule of El Salvador, ousting another junta that had ruled for three months.
- January 26 – John F. Kennedy appoints Janet G. Travell to be his physician. This is the first time a woman held this appointment.
- January 30 – President John F. Kennedy delivered his first State of the Union Address.
- January 31 – Ham, a 37 pound male chimpanzee, was rocketed into space in a test of the Project Mercury capsule designed to carry U.S. astronauts into space.
- Change of US presidency from Dwight D. Eisenhower (1953-1961) to John F. Kennedy (1961-1963)
- February 4 – The Portuguese Colonial War begins in Angola.
- February 5 – The Sunday Telegraph publishes its first issue.
- February 9 – Former prime minister of Kongo Patrice Lumumba is murdered in Elisabethville.
- February 11 – Trial of Adolf Eichmann begins in Jerusalem.
- February 14 – Discovery of the chemical elements: Element 103, Lawrencium, is first synthesized (Berkeley, California).
- February 15 – A Boeing 707 crashes in Belgium killing 73, including the entire United States figure skating team and several coaches.
- February 26 – Hassan II is pronounced King of Morocco.
- March 1 – President of the United States John F. Kennedy establishes the Peace Corps.
- March 1 – First elections held in Uganda and it becomes self-governing.
- March 3 – Hassan II is crowned King of Morocco.
- March 8 – Max Conrad circumnavigates the earth in eight days, 18 hours and 49 minutes setting a new world record.
- March 8 – First US Polaris submarines arrive at Holy Loch.
- March 13 – A dam bursts on the Dnieper river in the USSR – 145 dead.
- March 15 – South Africa withdraws from the British Commonwealth.
- March 29 – The Twenty-third Amendment to the United States Constitution is ratified, allowing residents of Washington, DC to vote in presidential elections.
- March 30 – Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs signed at New York.
- April 12 – Yuri Gagarin is the first human in space.
- April 17 – Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba begins, ending in failure April 19.
- April 22 – Three French generals who oppose De Gaulle's policies in Algeria fail in a coup attempt.
- April 23-24 – Vasa raised in the Stockholm harbor.
- April 25 – Robert Noyce is granted the first patent for an integrated circuit.
- April 27 – Sierra Leone is granted its independence from the United Kingdom.
- April 29 – NSW votes @ refferendum to retain Legislative Council
- May 5 – Alan B. Shepard: is first American in space.
- May 8 – British George Blake is sentenced to 42 years inprisonment for spying.
- May 14 – American civil rights movement: A Freedom Riders bus is fire-bombed near Anniston, Alabama and the civil rights protestors are beaten by an angry mob.
- May 16 – A military coup in South Korea – Do Young Tsang takes over.
- May 19 – Venera program: Venera 1 becomes the first man-made object to fly-by another planet by passing Venus (however the probe had lost contact with earth a month earlier and did not send back any data).
- May 21 – American civil rights movement: Alabama Governor John Patterson declares martial law in an attempt to restore order after race riots break out.
- May 24 – American civil rights movement: Freedom Riders are arrested in Jackson, Mississippi for "disturbing the peace" after disembarking from their bus.
- May 25 – Apollo program: President Kennedy announces before a special joint session of Congress his goal to initiate a project to put a "man on the moon" before the end of the decade.
- May 28 – Peter Benenson's article "The Forgotten Prisoners" is published in several internationally read newspapers. This will later be thought of as the founding of the human rights organization Amnesty International.
- June 4 – John F. Kennedy and Nikita Khrushchev meet during two days in Vienna. They talk about nuclear tests, disarmament and Germany.
- June 17 – The New Democratic Party of Canada is founded with the merger of the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation (CCF) and the Canadian Labour Congress.
- June 21 – Russian ballet dancer Rudolf Nureyev requests asylum in France while in Paris with the Kirov Ballet
- June 22 – Moise Tshombe released
- June 25 – US philanthropist George Vanderbilt is found dead at the base of a San Francisco skyscraper
- June 25 – Iraqi president Abdul Karim Kassem announces he is going to annex Kuwait – Kuwaiti government ask British help in June 27. British army begin to send in troops.
- July 21 – Mercury program: Gus Grissom piloting the Mercury 4 capsule "Liberty Bell 7" becomes the second American to go into space (sub-orbital).
- July 31 – At Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts, the first All-Star Game tie in major league baseball history occurs when the game is stopped in the 9th inning due to rain.
- August 10 – Britain applies for membership of the EEC.
- August 13 – Construction of the Berlin Wall begins. Movement between East Berlin and West Berlin remains restricted for the next 28 years, until November 9, 1989.
- August 21 Jomo Kenyatta is fully released in Kenya.
- September 17-18 – Dag Hammarskjöld dies in an air crash enroute to Katanga, Congo.
- September 24 – The old Deutsche Opernhaus in the Berlin neighborhood of Charlottenburg returned to its newly rebuilt house as the Deutsche Oper Berlin.
- September 28 – A military coup in Damascus, Syria effectivly ends the United Arab Republic, the union between Egypt and Syria
- October 10 – Volcanic eruption on Tristan da Cunha – whole population evacuated.
- October 12 – The death penalty abolished in New Zealand.
- October 17 – "Battle of Paris": French police attack in Paris about 30,000 protesting a curfew applied solely to Algerians. Official death toll is 3, but human rights groups claim 240 dead.
- October 19 – Arab League takes over protection of Kuwait – last British troops leave.
- October 25 – The first edition of Private Eye, the British satirical magazine.
- October 30 – Nuclear testing: The Soviet Union detonates a 58 megaton yield hydrogen bomb over Novaya Zemlya (this is still the largest nuclear device to ever be detonated). Nikita Kruschev announces that the scientists had planned to make it 100 megatons, but had reduced the yield so as to avoid breaking all the windows in Moscow.
- October 31 – In the Soviet Union, Joseph Stalin's body is removed from Lenin's Tomb.
- October 31 – Hurricane Hattie hits Belize City. 400 dead, 65.000 made homeless.
- November 12 – Stalingrad's name changed to Volgograd.
- November 13 – Vladimir Yefimovich Semichastny succeeds Aleksandr Nikolayevich Shelepin as head of the KGB.
- November 16 – British Conservative government introduces the Commonwealth Immigration Bill, limiting immigration from British Commonwealth countries to Britain.
- November 29 – Mercury program: Mercury-Atlas 5 is launched with Enos the chimp aboard (the spacecraft orbited the Earth twice and splashed-down off the coast of Puerto Rico).
- December 2 – Cold War: In a nationally broadcast speech, Cuban leader Fidel Castro declares that he is a Marxist-Leninist and that Cuba was going to adopt Communism.
- December 5 US president John F. Kennedy gives support to Volta Dam project in Ghana.
- December 9 – Tanganyika gains independence and declares itself a republic with Julius Nyerere as its first President.
- December 9 – Menzies Government re-elected for sixth term
- December 10 – Soviet Union severs diplomatic relations with Albania.
- December 11 – Vietnam War officially begins as the first American helicopters arrive in Saigon along with 400 U.S. personnel.
- December 15 – An Israeli war crimes tribunal sentences Adolph Eichmann to die for his part in the Jewish holocaust.
- December 19 – Goa ceded to India after 400 years of Portuguese rule.
- December 31 – The Marshall Plan expires after having distributed more than $12 billion in foreign aid to rebuild Europe.
- December 31 – Ireland's first national television station, Teilifís Éireann, (later RTÉ) begins broadcasting.
- John F. Kennedy begins the Apollo program of U.S. manned spaceflight
- The first quasar is discovered by Allan Sandage at Mt Palomar, California
- Euston Arch in London is demolished
- January 1 – Marcia Cross, actress
- January 2
- January 5 – Suzy Amis, actress
- January 8 – Calvin Smith, American athlete
- January 13 – Julia Louis-Dreyfus, actress
- January 18 – Mark Messier, hockey star
- January 26 – Wayne Gretzky, Hockey Hall of Famer
- January 31 – Lloyd Cole, British singer and songwriter
- February 9 – John Kruk, baseball player, commentator
- February 10 – George Stephanopoulos, political consultant, commentator
- February 11
- February 13 – Henry Rollins, musician
- February 16 – Andy Taylor, musician, Duran Duran
- February 25 – Davey Allison, automobile racer (d. 1993)
- March 4 – Ray Mancini, boxer
- March 8 – Camryn Manheim, actress (The Practice)
- March 14 – Kirby Puckett, Baseball Hall of Famer
- March 15 – Fabio, model
- March 21 – Lothar Matthäus, German footballer
- March 27 – Tak Matsumoto, Japanese guitarist(B'z)
- March 29 – Gerardo Teissonniere, Puerto Rican classical pianist and teacher
- April 3 – Eddie Murphy, actor and comedian
- April 6 – Gene Eugene, actor, lead singer of Adam Again
- April 18 – Jane Leeves, actress
- April 20 – Don Mattingly, baseball player
- April 23 – George Lopez, actor, comedian
- April 26 – Joan Chen, actress
- April 30 – Isiah Thomas, basketball player, coach, owner
- May 6 – George Clooney, actor
- May 8 – Rosta Ágota from Hungary
- May 13 – Dennis Rodman, basketball player, actor
- May 14 – Tim Roth, actor
- May 17 – Enya, singer, songwriter
- May 27 – Peri Gilpin, actress
- May 29 – Melissa Etheridge, rock musician
- May 31 – Justin Madden, Australian Rules Footballer, and politician
- June 1 – Paul Coffey, hockey star
- June 14 – Boy George, British musician and producer
- June 18 – Andrés Galarraga, Major League Baseball player
- June 26 – Greg LeMond, cyclist, three-time Tour de France winner
- July 1 – Diana, Princess of Wales (d. 1997)
- July 1 – Carl Lewis, American track-and-field athlete
- July 12 – Ray Gillen, American rock singer (d. 1993)
- July 30 – Laurence Fishburne, actor
- August 8 – The Edge, U2 guitarist
- August 14 – Susan Olsen, American television actress
- September 2 – Eric Dickerson, American football Hall of Famer
- September 2 – Carlos Valderrama, footballer
- September 13 – Dave Mustaine, musician (Metallica/Megadeth)
- September 15 – Dan Marino, football player
- September 22 – Scott Baio, actor
- September 25 – Heather Locklear, actress
- October 9 – Jean Sagal, actress
- October 9 – Liz Sagal, actress
- October 11 – Steve Young, football player
- October 18 – Wynton Marsalis, musician
- October 26 – Dylan McDermott, actor (The Practice)
- October 29 – Randy Jackson, American musician
- October 31 – Alonzo Babers, American runner
- October 31 – Peter Jackson, director
- October 31 – Larry Mullen, Jr., U2 drummer
- November 2 – k.d. lang, singer, songwriter
- November 7 – Panta Erzsébet from Hungary
- November 19 – Meg Ryan, actress
- November 22 – Mariel Hemingway, actress
- November 22 – Randal L. Schwartz, computer professional
- December 4 – Frank Reich, American football quarterback
- December 8 – Ann Coulter, author, political commentator, attorney
- December 15 – Mauricio Patrón, Mexican Marathon Runner
- December 15 – Karin Resetarits, Austrian journalist and politician
- December 19 – Reggie White, American football player (d. 2004)
- December 25 – Ingrid Betancourt, Colombian senator
- December 30 – Douglas Coupland, author
- December 30 – Sean Hannity, talk radio host, political commentator
- December 30 – Ben Johnson, Canadian athlete
- January 4 – Erwin Schrödinger, physicist
- January 10 – Dashiell Hammett, American writer
- January 21 – Blaise Cendrars, writer
- January 24 – Alfred Carlton Gilbert, swimmer and inventor (b. 1884)
- February 11 – Eduard R Verkade, Dutch actor/director
- February 20 – Percy Grainger, Australian composer (b. 1882)
- February 22 – Nick LaRocca, jazz musician (b. 1889)
- February 26 – King Mohammed V of Morocco
- March 3 – Paul Wittgenstein, pianist
- April 6 – Jules Bordet, Belgian immunologist and microbiologist
- April 9 – Ahmet Zog, King of Albania
- April 10 – Stuart Sutcliffe, musician
- May 13 – Gary Cooper, actor
- May 30 – Rafael Leónidas Trujillo, dictator of the Dominican Republic
- June 1 – Melvin Jones, founder of Lions Clubs International
- June 6 – Carl Jung, Swiss psychiatrist (b. 1875)
- June 17 – Jeff Chandler, actor (b. 1918)
- June 30 – Lee DeForest, inventor
- July 1 – Louis-Ferdinand Céline, French writer (b. 1894)
- July 2 – Ernest Hemingway, American writer
- July 17 – Ty Cobb, Baseball Hall of Famer (b. 1886)
- September 18 – Dag Hammarskjöld, Secretary General of the United Nations
- October 11 – Chico Marx, American comedian (b. 1887)
- December 20 – Earle Page, eleventh Prime Minister of Australia