Rome 1960


The Games of the XVII Olympiad took place from August 25 to September 11, 1960, in Rome Italy. There were 5,338 participants of which, 611 were women. The Games were a mix of both the old and the new in Italy. An Olympic Stadium and Sports Complex were built for the Games, and such ancient sites as the Basilica of Maxentius and the Baths of Caracalla were restored to host wrestling and gymnastic events. The 1960’s games were the first to be covered fully by television and broadcast live in 18 European countries, and with a few hour delays in Japan, Canada, and the United States. The 1960 Summer Games were the last Games in which South Africa was allowed to participate in for 32 years, in protest to the racist policies of the South African government. The country returned to the Games in 1992, after the abolishment of apartheid.

Among the very talented participants of the Games, two standout; runner Abebe Bikila from Ethiopia, and boxer Cassius Clay from the United States.

Twenty-eight year old Abebe Bikila not only won the gold medal in the marathon, he did it barefoot. Bikila, who trained barefoot, decided to run barefoot in the Games also. At the Obelisk of Axum, a monument taken by Italian troops from Ethiopia, and erected in Rome, Bikila started to pull away from his competition and won the marathon by 200 meters. He went on to win a gold medal in the 1964 Olympics in the marathon, becoming the only man to ever win the gold in two marathons.

Cassius Clay, an eighteen year old from Louisville, Kentucky, came to the World stage during the gold medal light-heavyweight boxing match versus Zbigniew Pietrzykowski of Poland. Clay won an unanimous decision to claim the gold in the event. Clay, later changing his name to Muhammed Ali after converting to Islam in 1964, went on to become the heavy-weight Champion of the World. Ali continues to be one of the most recognized athletes in the World who could “sting like a butterfly and sting like a bee”. Review/1960/BDCE69/BDCE69x.pdf



Sputnik Program


On May 14, 1960, the Sputnik 4 was launched into space by the Soviet Union. The Sputnik program was a series of five space missions by the Russians, the first ever, of their kind. Sputnik 1, 2, and 3 launched previously, beginning on October 4, 1957. Sputnik 1 was a bare-bones satellite designed to orbit the Earth and measure the density of the atmosphere. It was in space for 22 days.

The Sputnik 2 launched on November 3, 1957, was the first spacecraft to carry a living thing, a dog named Laika. The dog apparently died just hours into the flight. Sputnik 2 returned to Earth after 162 days in orbit.

The Sputnik 3, designed to study the pressure and composition of the atmosphere at its upper most levels, was launched May 15, 1958. Sputnik 3 burned into the atmosphere on April 6, 1960.

Sputnik 4 was designed to study manned space flight. It was launched on May 14, 1960. It included instruments to determine if humans would be able to survive space travel. Sputnik 4 orbited the Earth for four days and was scheduled to return. Due to technical malfunctions, the spacecraft returned to atmosphere on September 5, 1960 in pieces to be found throughout the World.

Sputnik 5 was the first space flight of living creatures that returned to land unharmed. It was launched August 19, 1960. The flight carried two dogs, two rats, 40 mice, various plants, and a human mannequin named “Ivan”. Sputnik 5 orbited the earth for one day and returned to land with all passengers unharmed. The Sputnik program was the first of its kind, leading Russia to become the first country to get a man into space with the Vostok program, which followed Sputnik.


psycho1psycho2psychohouse“There follows one of the most disgusting murders in all screen history. It takes place in a bathroom and involves a great deal of swabbing of the tiles and flushings of the lavatory. It might be described with fairness as plug ugly” original review, Observer, August 7, 1960


September 8, 1960 saw the release of the original “slasher” movie, Psycho. The movie, directed by the renowned Alfred Hitchcock, was made on a shoestring budget financed by he and his wife, for $800,000 and was released by Paramount pictures. The movie considered to be crude by many at the time, was the first movie to show a toilet flushing on camera. Hitchcock filmed the movie in black and white, to cut costs and to give it a cinematic “edge” and used his production crew from his television show filming at the time, again to save money and time. The shower scene in which Janet Leigh’s character of Marion is killed by Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins) is revered as one of the best murder scenes on film; never showing a single stab, just the sound of the knife ripping into flesh (a knife stabbing a melon), and blood (chocolate syrup) going down the shower drain. The music from this scene however elemental still fills listeners with fear to this day. The film grossed a staggering 40 million dollars.

JFK for President


On May 10th, 1960, John Fitzgerald Kennedy (JFK) won the Democratic nomination for President of the United States.

Kennedy used television as his main medium to campaign and for the first time, this was where voters gathered the majority of information about the candidates. JFK hoped to pull Catholics back into the Democratic Party, using his own religion to his advantage. Kennedy, although controversial and against the advice of his campaign managers, showed his support for Martin Luther King and worked for his release from an  Atlanta jail in October of 1960.

On November 8, 1960, JFK, running against then Vice President Richard Nixon, was elected to the Presidency of the United States. The election was one of the closest in history, with Kennedy winning the popular vote by a mere 118,550 votes, out of almost 69 million votes. JFK was the youngest person ever elected into the office, the first Catholic President, and the first President to be born in the twentieth century.

Sharpeville Massacre


On March 21, 1960, at least 180, and as many as 300, black Africans were injured and 69 killed, while protesting in the township of Sharpeville, South Africa, against laws requiring all black citizens to carry passes to be checked at points throughout South Africa, giving authorities statistics about the carrier and where they were from, set to begin in April. The pass law was considered just another step toward complete segregation of blacks and whites, and limiting the rights of the blacks, by the South African government. The African National Congress (ANC) was a group working within the law, against all forms of discrimination based on race. The Pan Africanist Congress (PAC), founded by Robert Sobukwe in April of 1959, was another, more aggressive, group founded to protest discrimination. The ANC and PAC, competing for supporters, rarely agreed on any topic. The ANC had been planning peaceful demonstrations against the pass laws, to be held in the beginning of April, 1960. The PAC, not to be outdone, planned demonstrations throughout South Africa beginning on March 21. The president of the PAC, gave warning to government officials about the demonstrations to be held, where participants were told to leave their passes at home, to peaceably demonstrate their resistance. During the demonstration on the 21st, hundreds of black Africans walked to the police station in Sharpeville. During the peaceful march, a commotion broke out near the doors to the station related to protesters being pushed by those behind them. Police Officers panicked and opened fire on the crowd, shooting many protesters in the back as they were trying to flee the scene. This massacre brought the eyes of the World to the behavior of the South African government and is considered the beginning of the anti-apartheid movement.