1962 Fun Facts, Trivia and History

1962 Fun Facts, Trivia, and History

Quick Facts from 1962

  • World Changing Event: The Cuban Missile Crisis between The United States, The USSR, and Cuba between Oct 16, 1962, and Oct 28, 1962.
  • Space Race: John Glenn became the first American to orbit the earth, keeping the Space Race with the USSR about even.
  • The Top Song was I Can’t Stop Loving You by Ray Charles
  • The Movies to Watch include Lawrence of Arabia, The Manchurian Candidate, and Girls! Girls! Girls!
  • The Most Famous Person in America was probably Elvis Presley
  • Notable books include A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle and Silent Spring by Rachel Carson
  • Price of a Men’s 100% Wool Suit in 1962: $45.00
    Price of a movie ticket: 70 cents
  • The Funny Guys were The Smothers Brothers
    The Funny Guy was Ernie Kovacs
    The Funny Lady was Moms Mabley
    The Funny Late Night Host Johnny Carson
    The Other Funny Late Show Host Steve Allen
    The Guy Who Had One Successful Funny Album (The First Family): Vaughn Meader
  • The Superstores: Walton opened Wal-Mart Discount City in Rogers, Arkansas. Woolco, Target, and Kmart also opened.
  • The Crazy Conspiracy: Marilyn Monroe was found dead in her home on August 5, 1962. Did she take her own life as the news reports said? Was it the CIA? The Kennedys? The Mob?
  • Take our 1962 Quiz!

Top Ten Baby Names of 1962

Lisa, Mary, Susan, Karen, Linda, Michael, David, John, James, Robert

Fashion Icons and Sex Symbols

Ursula Andress, Brigitte Bardot, Carroll Baker, Honor Blackman, Claudia Cardinale, Doris Day, Angie Dickinson, Annette Funicello, Audrey Hepburn, Sophia Loren, Jayne Mansfield, Ann-Margret, Marilyn Monroe, Julie Newmar, Kim Novak, Leslie Parrish, Stella Stevens, Elizabeth Taylor, Veruschka, Natalie Wood

Sex Symbols and Hollywood Hunks

Sean Connery, Robert Goulet, Elvis Presley, Gregory Peck

Oscars: 34th Academy Awards (1962)

Held on April 9, 1962, at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, the 34th Academy Awards showcased the power of historical epics. Bob Hope was the emcee of the evening. Lawrence of Arabia dominated the ceremony, winning seven awards, including Best Picture and Best Director for David Lean.

Grammy Awards: 1962 Grammys (4th Annual Grammy Awards)

In the music realm, the 4th Annual Grammy Awards, better known as the 1962 Grammys, took place on May 29. The big winners were Henry Mancini’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s soundtrack for Album of the Year and Tony Bennett for Record of the Year with “I Left My Heart in San Francisco.”

Emmy Awards: 14th Primetime Emmy Awards (1962)

Bob Newhart hosted the 14th Primetime Emmy Awards on May 22, 1962. The Bob Newhart Show secured the award for Outstanding Program Achievement in the Field of Humor, which was the equivalent of today’s Outstanding Comedy Series. The Defenders, a legal drama, received the Emmy for Outstanding Program Achievement in the Field of Drama.

“The Quotes”

“Heeere’s Johnnny!”
– Ed McMahon on the Tonight Show

“With a name like Smucker’s, it has to be good.”
-Smucker’s Jelly

“We Try Harder”

“Think small”
– Volkswagen

“Bond. James Bond.”
– Sean Connery, in Dr. No

Time Magazine’s Man of the Year

Pope John XXIII

Miss America

Maria Fletcher (Asheville, NC)

Miss USA

Macel Leilani (Hawaii)

The Scandals

An overdose of sleeping pills caused Marilyn Monroe’s death. 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 funeral arrangements, although the couple divorced in 1954.

October 22-28 was probably the closest we ever came to nuclear war – The Cuban Missile Crisis was officially over on November 2.

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

1962 Firsts

Telstar was launched as the first working communications satellite.

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

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

The first computer video game, Spacewar, was invented.

The first Vail Ski Resort opened in 1962.

The first Target (Tar-zhay) store opened in Roseville, Minnesota.

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

The Biggest Films of 1962

1. The Longest Day
2. Lawrence of Arabia (Pop Culture Classic)
3. In Search of Castaways
4. That Touch of Mink
5. The Music Man
6. Mutiny on The Bounty (Pop Culture Classic)
7. To Kill A Mockingbird (Pop Culture Classic)
8. Hatari!
9. Gypsy
10. Lolita
11. The Interns
12. Bon Voyage!
13. The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm
14. Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?
15. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (Pop Culture Classic)
16. The Manchurian Candidate (Pop Culture Classic)
17. Days of Wine and Roses
18. State Fair (Pop Culture Classic)
19. Taras Bulba
20. Girls! Girls! Girls!
21. The Premature Burial
22. King Kong vs. Godzilla
23. The Day of the Triffids (Pop Culture Classic)
24. How the West was Won (Pop Culture Classic)
25. The Miracle Worker
26. Hell is for Heroes
27. Dr. No
28. The Tower of London
29. Kid Gahahad (Elvis Presley)
30. Cape Fear
31. Jack The Giant Killer
32. Kid Galahad
33. Carnival of Souls (Pop Culture Classic)
34. Gigot
35. Tales of Terror
36. Pressure POint
37. Something’s Got To Give
38. Requiem for a Heavyweight
39. The Road to Hong Kong
40. Birdman of Alcatraz
Movies beyond the Top Ten are based on (a somewhat subjective) ranking based on how much they had a long-lasting effect on Pop Culture.


From 1962 to 1977, the US Nuclear Launch code was 00000000. This was due to an effort to allow the weapons to be armed and ready to launch as soon as possible.

A small town called Centralia, PA, is completely abandoned because of a coal-seam fire at depths of up to 300 feet and a stretch of 3,700 acres ignited on May 27, 1962, and is only speculated to be extinguished in the year 2256.

Starfish Prime was the largest nuclear test conducted in outer space. The electromagnetic pulse knocked out streetlights and alarms in Waikiki. The explosion was visible around Hawaii.

The CIA’s concern over soccer fields along the coast of Cuba led to the Cuban Missile Crisis. In September 1962, a CIA analyst noticed the fields and became concerned because, as he put it, “Cubans play baseball, Russians play soccer.”

World News

The US signed the independence treaty for the Philippines on the 4th of July, giving them both the same “Independence Day” until 1962.

Seattle’s Space Needle, Pacific Science Center, Monorail, Seattle Center, and many other buildings were built for the 1962 World Fair.

James Dresnok was an American soldier who defected to North Korea in 1962 and lived there until he died in 2016.

Interesting Politics

US President John F Kennedy got 1200 Cuban cigars for himself in the hours before he banned their import.

The Heroes

Frances Oldham Kelsey received the US President’s Award for Distinguished Federal Civilian Service in 1962 for not giving FDA approval to Thalidomide. This German medication caused over 10,000 severe birth defects in Europe, Canada, and South America.

On October 27, 1962, Vasili Arkhipov, a senior officer on the Soviet B-59 submarine, refused permission to launch its nuclear torpedo during the Cuban Missile Crisis, avoiding World War III.

The Outliers

Sam Panopoulos, a Greek Canadian restaurateur who owned the Satellite Restaurant in Chatham, Ontario, decided to put ham and pineapple on a pizza, aiming for something sweet and savory. He called it the Hawaiian pizza.

The Tanganyika, Tanzania, laughter epidemic affected 14 schools and over 1000 people. #masshysteria

The White House Correspondent’s Dinner was men-only until 1962 when JFK refused to attend unless women did.

Elephant bones were discovered under the Vatican. Decades later, it was found that they were the bones of Pope Leo X’s pet elephant, Hanno, who died in 1516.

Constance Smith went to jail for stabbing her boyfriend in 1962. She stabbed him again in 1968 and was charged with attempted murder. They married in 1974.

1962 Pop Culture Facts & History

Episode 122 of The Twilight Zone, An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge, was a French film short that won the Cannes Film Festival in 1962 and an Oscar for Live Action Short Film in 1963. Producers paid $25,000 for rights that limited them to airing the story no more than two times.

The Jetsons’ original run consisted of only 24 episodes that first aired on ABC from September 1962 to March 1963. Reruns of those same 24 episodes were broadcast on Saturday mornings on ABC (1963-64), CBS (1964–65 and 1969–71), and NBC (1965–67, 1971–76, 1979–81 and 1982–83).

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

You could buy 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.

James Earl Jones Was in the First Production of NYC’s Shakespeare in the Park in 1962.

Marlon Brando was the first actor to command a $1 million salary for his starring role in 1962’s Mutiny on the Bounty.

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

Decca Records turned down a band auditioning with them by saying, “Guitar groups are on the way out.” The band they turned down: the Beatles.

A question mark superimposed onto an exclamation mark, often seen as ?!, is called an Interrobang. Martin K. Speckter is credited with inventing the mark in 1962, making it the first new punctuation mark to be introduced in 300 years. It hasn’t caught on (yet).

McDonald’s Filet-O-Fish was created in 1962 for Catholics abstaining from meat on Fridays during Lent.

The Sedan Crater in Nevada, created in August 1962 using a 104-kiloton nuclear blast, was used by Apollo astronauts in February 1965 to train on geological formations similar to those they might encounter on the moon’s surface.

The first modem was invented in 1962 with a speed of 300 bits per second.

The 1996 movie Mars Attacks was based on a set of controversial trading cards from Topps.

The record for most interceptions in a season is 42, in 1962, by Houston Oiler George Blanda.

The Habit

Spacewar!, a 1962  scientist-only lab game, became the Galaxy game, the first coin-operated video game.

Reading Rachel Carson’s book, ‘Silent Spring’, which started the environmentalist movement.

1st Appearances & 1962’s Most Popular Christmas Gifts, Toys and Presents

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
*Slinky was originally mass-released in 1945. This comeback was due to the catchy “Slinky” Commercial jingle

Best Film Oscar Winner

West Side Story (presented in 1962)

Broadway Show

Never Too Late (Play) Opened on November 27, 1962, and closed on April 24, 1965

Popular and Best-selling Books From 1962

A Shade of Difference by Allen Drury
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
The Agony and the Ecstasy by Irving Stone
Capitalism and Freedom by Milton Friedman
Dearly Beloved by Anne Morrow Lindbergh
Fail-Safe by Eugene Burdick and Harvey Wheeler
Franny and Zooey by J.D. Salinger
The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick
Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl
The Prize by Irving Wallace
The Reivers by William Faulkner
Dr. Seuss’s Sleep Book by Dr. Seuss
Seven Days in May by Fletcher Knebel
Ship of Fools by Katherine Anne Porter
Silent Spring – Rachel Carson
The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats
The Spy Who Loved Me by Ian Fleming
The Structure of Scientific Revolutions by Thomas Kuhn
Youngblood Hawke by Herman Wouk

1962 Most Popular TV Shows

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)

1962 Billboard Number One Songs

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

January 13January 26:
The Twist – Chubby Checker

January 27February 16:
Peppermint Twist – Part I – Joey Dee & the Starliters

February 17March 9:
Duke Of Earl – Gene Chandler

March 10March 30:
Hey! Baby – Bruce Channel

March 31April 6:
Don’t Break The Heart That Loves You – Connie Francis

April 7April 20:
Johnny Angel – Shelley Fabares

April 21May 4:
Good Luck Charm – Elvis Presley

May 5May 25:
Soldier Boy – The Shirelles

May 26June 1:
Stranger On The Shore – Mr. Acker Bilk

June 2July 6:
I Can’t Stop Loving You – Ray Charles

July 7July 13:
The Stripper – David Rose

July 14August 10:
Roses Are Red (My Love) – Bobby Vinton

August 11August 24:
Breaking Up Is Hard To Do – Neil Sedaka

August 25August 31:
The Loco-Motion – Little Eva

September 1September 14:
Sheila – Tommy Roe

September 15October 19:
Sherry – The Four Seasons

October 20November 2:
Monster Mash – Bobby ‘Boris’  Pickett & The Crypt-Kickers

November 3November 16:
He’s A Rebel – The Crystals

November 17December 21:
Big Girls Don’t Cry – The Four Seasons

December 22, 1962 – January 11, 1963:
Telstar – The Tornadoes


World Series Champions: New York Yankees
NFL Champions: Green Bay Packers
AFL Champions: Dallas Texans
NBA Champions: Boston Celtics
Stanley Cup Champs: Toronto Maple Leafs
U.S. Open Golf Jack Nicklaus
U.S. Tennis: (Men/Ladies) Rodney Laver/Margaret Smith
Wimbledon (Men/Women): Rod Laver/Karen Susman
NCAA Football Champions: USC
NCAA Basketball Champions: Cincinnati
Kentucky Derby: Decidedly
World Cup (Soccer): Brazil

More 1962 Facts & History Resources:

BabyBoomers.com (1962)
Most Popular Baby Names (BabyCenter.com)
Popular and Notable Books (popculture.us)
Broadway Shows that Opened in 1962
1962 Calendar, courtesy of Time and Date.com
Fact Monster
1960s, Infoplease.com World History
1962 in Movies (according to IMDB)
JFK 1961-1963 PBS
Retrowaste Vintage Culture
1962 Television
1960s Slang
1960 US Census Fast Facts
1960s Timeline: SEC
Wikipedia 1962