October 28: The Cuban Missile Crisis brought Russia and
the United States to the brink of nuclear war and was formally
resolved on this day. While it lasted, in churches and schools
throughout Britain, frightened people offered prayers.
The crisis began when US spy planes detected missile sites under
construction in the newly-communist state of Cuba. The Soviet
Union, claiming it was threatened by US missiles almost on its
borders in Turkey and by America's growing nuclear arsenal, had
been secretly shipping nuclear weapons into Cuba.
The US responded by blockading the island. Plans were laid to
invade and, if that had gone ahead, Cuba could have attacked the
US fleet with nuclear missiles. For a few tense days the US and
Soviet leaders, Kennedy and Krushchev, stood eyeball-to-eyeball
on the world stage.
In the end, Russia agreed to take down its missile sites and
send the warheads home. It looked like a triumph of will for the
United States but Kennedy, visibly aged by the confrontation,
had agreed to remove nuclear weapons in Turkey.
5: Goddess of the silver screen Marilyn Monroe was found dead.
She had a bottle of pills at her bedside and a telephone receiver
in her hand. She was, as the first version of Elton John's famous
song "Candle In The Wind" was to remind us, stark naked.
The death of the troubled star, just weeks after being fired
from the set of the movie "Something's Got To Give" for persistent
absenteeism, was widely thought to be suicide. But it has sparked
of almost as many conspiracy theories as those relating to a man
now known to have been one of her many lovers, American President
John F Kennedy.
February 20: After the successes of the Russians the
previous year, the space race tilted back towards the Americans
when John Glenn became his first countryman to orbit the earth.
Glenn's flight in his Mercury capsule called Friendship had been
postponed 10 times due to difficult weather conditions. He splashed
down off the coast of Puerto Rico after circling the earth three
times and declared: "My condition is excellent." He must have
liked it for he came back for more in 1998 - at the age of 76.
April 30: A new magazine called "Private Eye" went on
sale for the first time. The satirical magazine, which took swipes
at those in public life, soon took on cult status among the young
and the chattering classes. In danger of going under due to a
series of financial blunders in its early weeks, it was rescued
by one of the stars of the West End show "Beyond The Fringe" Peter
February 4: The first Sunday newspaper colour supplement
was published by the Sunday Times. It featured articles on fashion
queen Mary Quant and on Pop Art. Most readers of the first issue
thought it was a great yawn and that the idea would never catch
on. Newspaper proprietor Lord Thomson, ahead of his time as always,