Updated date:

1961 Fun Facts and Trivia

Gregory DeVictor is a trivia enthusiast who loves to write articles on American nostalgia.

This article teaches you fun facts and trivia from the year 1961.

This article teaches you fun facts and trivia from the year 1961.

Why Was the Year 1961 so Special?

What are some fun facts, trivia, and historical events from the year 1961? What were the top news stories in the U.S. and around the world? What happened in the business and financial sectors, in science, technology, sports, the entertainment industry, and in everyday life? What about famous birthdays, marriages, and deaths that year?

  1. From April 1960 to February 1961, the United States slipped into a 10-month recession, during which time the GDP declined by 2.4% and unemployment increased to nearly 7%. The two major causes for the economic downturn were a “rolling adjustment” in several major industries, most notably automobiles, and the Fed’s tight monetary policy.
  2. In 1961, the 23rd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution—which gives the citizens of Washington, DC the right to vote in presidential elections—was approved by the requisite number of states. The Amendment was originally passed by the 86th Congress on June 16, 1960, but also needed to be ratified by at least 38 states.
  3. The United States broke diplomatic ties with Cuba.
  4. President Kennedy established the Peace Corps as a new agency within the Department of State. He also asked Congress to approve an aid program for Latin America, which came to be known as the Alliance for Progress.
  5. Alan Shepherd became the first American to travel into space, when the Freedom 7 Mercury spacecraft lifted off from Cape Canaveral, “and flew a suborbital trajectory lasting 15 minutes and 22 seconds.”
  6. President Kennedy advised Americans to build fallout shelters “in the event of a nuclear exchange with the Soviet Union.”
  7. The United Kingdom applied for membership in the Common Market.
  8. Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first person to orbit the Earth.
  9. Construction of the Berlin Wall began in East Germany.
  10. 1,400 American-backed Cuban exiles who opposed Fidel Castro launched “a botched invasion at the Bay of Pigs on the south coast of Cuba.”
  11. Record-high temperatures were recorded in San Francisco (106°F), Spokane (108°F), and in Harbor Dam, Washington (118°F).
  12. The element lawrencium (atomic number 103) was discovered at the University of California, Berkeley.
  13. The world’s first revolving restaurant opened atop Seattle’s Space Needle.
  14. TWA showed the first in-flight movie—By Love Possessed, starring Lana Turner.
  15. The Boston Celtics were the NBA champs, the New York Yankees won the World Series, and the Chicago Blackhawks clinched the Stanley Cup.
  16. In the year 1961, Willie Mays became the ninth player in MLB history to hit four home runs in one game.
  17. Mickey Mantle became the seventh MLB player to hit 400 home runs.
  18. The Hockey Hall of Fame—which is home to the Stanley Cup as well as a fine collection of hockey artifacts—opened in Toronto.
  19. Harper Lee received a Pulitzer Prize for her novel To Kill a Mockingbird.
  20. At the 33rd Academy Awards, The Apartment won four Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Director.
  21. Elvis Pressley’s album Blue Hawaii reached #1 and stayed there for 20 more weeks.
  22. Consumer products that were launched in 1961 include Coffee Mate, CoverGirl, Fritos, Grecian Formula, Head & Shoulders, the IBM Selectric typewriter, Life (cereal), Magic tape, Mrs. Butterworth’s, PAM (cooking spray), Pampers, Sprite, and Total (cereal).
  23. In 1961, Barack Obama, Dennis Rodman, Eddie Murphy, George Clooney, and Princess Diana were all born.
  24. Companies founded in the year 1961 include Cabela’s, Claire’s, Gabe’s, Humana, and Pearle Vision.
  25. John Capeheart of Tulsa, Oklahoma won the 34st Scripps National Spelling Bee with the word “smaragdine.”

Here are the five most popular TV shows from 1961-62:

  1. Wagon Train (NBC)
  2. Bonanza (NBC)
  3. Gunsmoke (CBS)
  4. Hazel (NBC)
  5. Perry Mason (CBS)

Here are ten cool food and beverage trends for the year:

  1. Chicken a la King
  2. Clam dip
  3. Doritos
  4. Frozen dinners
  5. Lipton onion soup dip
  6. Pineapple upside down cake
  7. SPAM
  8. Sprite
  9. Swedish meatballs
  10. Tunnel of fudge cake

This article teaches you fun facts, trivia, and historical events from the year 1961. Find out about popular TV shows, movies, music, books, foods, sports facts, famous birthdays, and other cool pop culture trends to get the right mix of questions and answers for your 1960s-themed trivia game.

In 1961, General Motors was America’s largest corporation.

In 1961, General Motors was America’s largest corporation.

Table of Contents

For easier reading and referencing, I have divided this article into the following categories:

  1. Grocery Prices in the Year 1961
  2. History Facts From the USA and World
  3. Sports Trivia
  4. Entertainment News
  5. Miscellaneous Fun Facts, Trivia, and Pop Culture Trends
  6. Nobel Prize Winners
  7. Best-Selling Books
  8. Most Popular Television Shows From 1961-62
  9. Favorite Radio Programs
  10. Highest-Grossing Films
  11. 10 Best Horror Movies of 1961
  12. Biggest Pop Music Artists
  13. Number One Songs for the Year
  14. Food and Beverage Trivia
  15. Famous Birthdays
  16. Notable Weddings
  17. Famous People Who Died
  18. U.S. Automobile Production Figures for the Year
  19. America’s Largest Corporations
  20. American Companies and Brands Established During 1961
In 1961, Bisquick cost 39 cents for a 40-ounce box.

In 1961, Bisquick cost 39 cents for a 40-ounce box.

1. Grocery Prices in the Year 1961

These grocery facts have been made available courtesy of the Morris County Public Library in Whippany, NJ.

  1. Apples: 29 cents for a three-pound bag
  2. Bacon: 49 cents for a one-pound package
  3. Beef (ground): Three pounds for $1.00
  4. Beef roast: 89 cents a pound
  5. Bisquick: 39 cents for a 40-ounce box
  6. Bread: 25 cents for a 16-ounce loaf
  7. Cake mix (Pillsbury): Four 18-ounce boxes for $1.00
  8. Candy canes: 25 cents for a package of six
  9. Carnation Instant Breakfast (a nutrition drink): $1.17 for a box of 14 packets
  10. Cereal (Kellogg’s, corn flakes): 49 cents for two 12-ounce packages
  11. Coffee (Maxwell House, instant): 95 cents for a six-ounce jar
  12. Cookies (Burry’s, chocolate chip): 29 cents for an 8.25-ounce package
  13. Eggs: 57 cents a dozen
  14. Fish (tuna): 33 cents for a seven-ounce can
  15. Flour (Pillsbury): 49 cents for a five-pound bag
  16. Frozen dinner (Birdseye): 49 cents apiece
  17. Ham (Hormel, canned): 59 cents a pound
  18. Lamb chops: 59 cents a pound
  19. Margarine (Fleischmann’s): 39 cents for a one-pound package
  20. Mayonnaise (Kraft): 59 cents for a one-quart jar
  21. Milk: 49 cents a gallon
  22. Onions (white): Two pounds for 25 cents
  23. Peanut butter (Fyne Taste): 35 cents for a 12-ounce jar
  24. Potatoes: 29 cents for a 10-pound bag
  25. Preserves (Ann Page): 95 cents for four 12-ounce jars
  26. Soda (Coca Cola): Two 12-ounce cans for 25 cents
  27. Tang: 51 cents for a 14-ounce jar
In 1961, the Coca-Cola Company introduced Sprite—a lime-flavored soft drink—to compete with 7 Up.

In 1961, the Coca-Cola Company introduced Sprite—a lime-flavored soft drink—to compete with 7 Up.

2. History Facts From the USA and World

  1. From April 1960 to February 1961, the United States slipped into a 10-month recession, during which time the GDP declined by 2.4% and unemployment increased to nearly 7%. The two major causes for the economic downturn were a “rolling adjustment” in several major industries, most notably automobiles, and the Fed’s tight monetary policy.
  2. On January 2, the temperature atop Mount Haleakalā on the Hawaiian island of Maui fell to a record low of 14°F.
  3. On January 3, Adam Clayton Powell Jr. became the chairman of the U.S. House Education and Labor Committee. (As an American politician, Powell “represented the Harlem neighborhood of New York City in the United States House of Representatives from 1945 until 1971. He was the first African-American to be elected from New York to Congress.”)
  4. On January 3, the United States broke diplomatic ties with Cuba.
  5. On January 17, President Eisenhower delivered a televised farewell address to the nation three days before leaving the Oval Office, in which he warned “against the accumulation of power by the ‘military-industrial complex.’”
  6. On January 20, John F. Kennedy was inaugurated as the 35th U.S. president.
  7. On January 25, JFK “became the first chief executive to hold a live televised news conference. An estimated 65 million people viewed the historic event.”
  8. On January 26, Janet G. Travell became President Kennedy’s personal physician, and the first woman ever to become a chief executive’s PCP.
  9. On February 3, New York City had the sixth biggest snowfall in its history—17.4”.
  10. On February 14, the element lawrencium (atomic number 103) was discovered at the University of California, Berkeley.
  11. On March 1, President Kennedy established the Peace Corps as a new agency within the Department of State. History.com reports that on the same day, Kennedy “sent a message to Congress asking for permanent funding for the agency, which would send trained American men and women to foreign nations to assist in development efforts.”
  12. On March 8, London cab drivers attended a two-hour protest meeting after car-hire chief Michael Gotla announced plans for a 100-strong fleet of cut-price minicabs.”
  13. On March 13, President Kennedy “asked Congress to approve a 10-year, multibillion-dollar aid program for Latin America. The program came to be known as the Alliance for Progress.”
  14. On March 13, Elizabeth Gurley Finn became the president of the U.S. Communist Party.
  15. On April 12, Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first person to orbit the Earth.
  16. On April 17, 1,400 American-backed Cuban exiles launched “a botched invasion at the Bay of Pigs on the south coast of Cuba.” The JFKLibrary.org tells us that “the Cuban-exile invasion force . . . landed at beaches along the Bay of Pigs and immediately came under heavy fire. Cuban planes strafed the invaders, sank two escort ships, and destroyed half of the exile's air support. Bad weather hampered the ground force, which had to work with soggy equipment and insufficient ammunition.”
  17. On April 24, President Kennedy accepted full responsibility for the Bay of Pigs fiasco.
  18. On April 24, the Vasa, a 17th century Swedish warship which sank on her maiden voyage in 1628, was salvaged in a busy shipping area in Stockholm. SmithsonianMag.com remarks that “An archaeologist who has studied the remains of the ship in great detail thinks it sank because the gun deck was far too heavy—the result of its having been designed and built by someone with no experience building such a well-armed ship.”
  19. On April 30, Willie Mays became the ninth player in MLB history to hit four home runs in one game.
  20. In May 1961, President Kennedy “authorized sending an additional 500 Special Forces troops and military advisors to assist the pro‑Western government of South Vietnam. By the end of 1962, there were approximately 11,000 [American] military advisors in South Vietnam.”
  21. On May 1, Harper Lee received the Pulitzer Prize for her novel To Kill a Mockingbird.
  22. On May 5, Alan Shepherd became the first American to travel into space, when the Freedom 7 Mercury spacecraft lifted off from Cape Canaveral, “and flew a suborbital trajectory lasting 15 minutes and 22 seconds.”
  23. On May 22, the world’s first revolving restaurant opened atop Seattle’s Space Needle.
  24. On May 25, JFK announced a long-term goal of putting a man on the moon by the end of the decade.
  25. On June 14, San Francisco recorded the hottest temperature ever—106°F.
  26. On June 19, in Torcaso v. Watkins, the Supreme Court “struck down a Maryland statute that required prospective state office holders to declare their belief in God before taking office.”
  27. On July 1, Haleakala National Park was established on the Hawaiian island of Maui.
  28. On July 7, James Hoffa was re-elected as the president of the teamsters.
  29. On August 1, the new San Francisco Hall of Justice opened.
  30. On August 4, the temperature reached 108°F in Spokane.
  31. On August 5, a state record was broken when the temperature hit 118°F in Harbor Dam, Washington.
  32. On August 10, the United Kingdom applied for membership in the Common Market.
  33. On August 13, construction of the Berlin Wall began in East Germany.
  34. On August 19, TWA showed the first in-flight movie.
  35. On August 26, the International Hockey Hall of Fame opened in Toronto.
  36. On September 10, Mickey Mantle became the seventh MLB player to hit 400 home runs.
  37. On September 11, Hurricane Carla, “one of the strongest storms of the century, slammed into the Texas coast. Just how strong was Carla? The storm destroyed buildings in Galveston, and that was 120 miles from where the center of the storm made landfall.”
  38. On October 6, President Kennedy advised Americans to build fallout shelters “in the event of a nuclear exchange with the Soviet Union. Kennedy also assured the public that the U.S. civil defense program would soon begin providing such protection for every American.” History.com tells us that “Only one year later, true to Kennedy’s fears, the world hovered on the brink of full-scale nuclear war when the Cuban Missile Crisis erupted over the USSR’s placement of nuclear missiles in Cuba. During the tense 13-day crisis, some Americans prepared for nuclear war by buying up canned goods and completing last-minute work on their backyard bomb shelters.”
  39. On November 6, the USPS issued a stamp that honored the birthday of James Naismith, the creator of basketball.
  40. On November 29, because of the failed Bay of Pigs invasion, CIA Director Allen Dulles resigned and was replaced by John McCone.
  41. On December 2, Fidel Castro announced that he would lead Cuba to Communism.
  42. On December 4, the female contraceptive “pill” became available “to married women only” on the National Health Service in Britain.
  43. On December 12, Adolf Eichmann was found guilty of war crimes, and was sentenced to death three days later.
  44. On December 23, Fidel Castro announced that Cuba would release 1,113 prisoners from the failed Bay of Pigs invasion in return for $62 million of food and medical supplies.
In 1961, tunnel of fudge cake was a real crowd-pleaser.

In 1961, tunnel of fudge cake was a real crowd-pleaser.

3. Sports Trivia

Generally suitable for all age groups, sports questions are a welcome addition to any trivia quiz.

  1. Indianapolis 500: A.J. Foyt
  2. Kentucky Derby: Carry Back
  3. AFL Champions: Houston Oilers
  4. NBA Champions: Boston Celtics
  5. NCAA Basketball: Cincinnati
  6. NCAA Football Champs: Alabama & Ohio State
  7. NFL Champions: Green Bay Packers
  8. Orange Bowl: Missouri over Navy
  9. Rose Bowl: Washington over Minnesota
  10. Stanley Cup Champs: Chicago Blackhawks
  11. Sugar Bowl: Ole Miss over Rice
  12. U.S. Open Golf: Gene Littler
  13. U.S. Open Tennis: Roy Emerson/Darlene R. Hard
  14. Wimbledon (men/women): Rod Laver/Angela Mortimer
  15. World Series Champions: New York Yankees
In 1961, the Boston Celtics were the NBA champions.

In 1961, the Boston Celtics were the NBA champions.

4. Entertainment News

  1. On January 15, the Supremes signed with Berry Gordy's Motown Records, “en route to a stellar career and a number of hits.” (BlackAmericaWeb.com explains that “Before they were known as The Supremes, the trio of Florence Ballard, Mary Wilson, and Diana Ross were part of a group known as the Primettes.”)
  2. On January 19, the first episode of the Dick Van Dyke Show was filmed.
  3. On January 25, Walt Disney's animated film—101 Dalmatians—was released in the U.S.
  4. On January 31, The Misfits, the final movie for both Clark Gable and Marilyn Monroe, premiered in New York. (Clark Gable passed away from a heart attack on May 13, 1961, and Marilyn Monroe died from an overdose of barbiturates on August 4, 1962.)
  5. On February 7, Jane Fonda made her acting debut on the NBC drama A String of Beads.
  6. On March 9, the Supremes released the songs I Want A Guy and Never Again.
  7. On March 25, the musical Gypsy closed on Broadway after 702 performances.
  8. On April 15, the Broadway musical Music Man closed after 1,375 performances.
  9. The 33th Academy Awards on April 17 honored the best films of 1960. Here were some of the winners: The Apartment won an Oscar for Best Picture, and Billy Wilder (The Apartment) won an Oscar for Best Director. Likewise, Burt Lancaster (Elmer Gantry) won an Oscar for Best Actor, and Elizabeth Taylor (Butterfield 8) won an Oscar for Best Actress.
  10. On April 17, Jimmy Stewart accepted an honorary Oscar on behalf of his friend Gary Cooper, who was too ill to attend the ceremonies. (As I mentioned above, Gary Cooper passed away on May 13, 1961.)
  11. On April 29, ABC’s Wide World of Sports debuted.
  12. At the 13th Primetime Emmy Awards on May 16, the Jack Benny Show (CBS) won an Emmy for Outstanding Program Achievement in the Field of Humor, and the Hallmark Hall of Fame: Macbeth (NBC) won an Emmy for Outstanding Program Achievement in the Field of Drama. Likewise, Raymond Burr (Perry Mason) (CBS) won an Emmy for Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Series (Lead), and Barbara Stanwyck (the Barbara Stanwyck Show) (NBC) won an Emmy for Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Series (Lead).
  13. On June 16, Dave Garroway left the Today Show in order to spend more time with his children.
  14. On June 18, CBS radio cancelled the western Gunsmoke after nine seasons.
  15. On September 4, the Carol Burnett-Richard Hayes Show debuted on CBS radio.
  16. On September 28, the medical drama Dr. Kildare premiered on NBC.
  17. On September 28, the sitcom Hazel—starring Shirley Booth—debuted on NBC.
  18. On October 2, the medical drama Ben Casey also premiered on NBC.
  19. On October 3, the Dick Van Dyke Show, a sitcom starring Dick Van Dyke and Mary Tyler Moore, debuted on CBS.
  20. On October 3, the sitcom Mr. Ed premiered on CBS.
  21. On October 5, Breakfast at Tiffany's—a film adaptation of Truman Capote's 1958 novella—was released.
  22. On October 7, the musical comedy Bye Bye Birdie closed on Broadway after 607 performances.
  23. On October 10, the Bob Newhart Show—a sitcom that aired for six seasons—debuted on NBC.
  24. On October 18, West Side Story, a film adaption of the 1957 Broadway show, was released.
  25. On October 21, the final broadcast of the NBC game show You Bet Your Life was aired.
  26. On December 11, Elvis Pressley’s album Blue Hawaii reached #1 and stayed there for 20 more weeks.
  27. On December 28, The Night of the Iguana—a drama romance written by Tennessee Williams—premiered in New York.
In 1961, the Green Bay Packers were the NFL champs.

In 1961, the Green Bay Packers were the NFL champs.

5. Miscellaneous Fun Facts, Trivia, and Pop Culture Trends

PBS.org explains that pop culture is that loose blend of books, music, fashion and other daily ephemera that contributes to the identity of a society at a particular point in time. In the 1960s, radio, film, television, and books defined the essence of American pop culture.

  1. In 1961, popular baby names were Michael, David, John, James, Robert, Mary, Lisa, Susan, Linda, and Karen.
  2. The average life expectancy at birth in the U.S. was 70.27 years.
  3. The most popular holiday gifts included LEGO building sets, Barbie fashion dolls, Ken Carson (Barbie’s boyfriend) dolls, Disneykins, Betsy-Wetsy dolls, astronaut robots, Flintstones characters, Shirley Temple dolls, model planes, doll houses, and vanity sets.
  4. What about fashion trends in 1961? Retrowaste.com explains that “In 1961, fashion was all about the costume look. The fashionable woman liked to go out in the evening dresses in an expensive but simply cut dress known affectionately as ‘little nothing.’ She never left home without an elegantly styled bouffant hairdo. Oval shaped shoulders and tapered hemlines were being replaced by straighter, wider shoulders, accompanied by a gentle inward curve at the midriff and a flare at the hem.”
  5. Fashion icons for the year were Brigitte Bardot, Doris Day, Annette Funicello, Audrey Hepburn, Sophia Loren, Jayne Mansfield, Marilyn Monroe, Mary Tyler Moore, Julie Newmar, Kim Novak, Donna Reed, Elizabeth Taylor, and Tuesday Weld.
  6. Nancy Fleming (Michigan) won the Miss America crown.
  7. Sharon Brown (Louisiana) became Miss USA.
  8. Time magazine’s “Man of the Year” was John F. Kennedy.
  9. Cars that were introduced in 1961 include the Buick Skylark, Checker Marathon, Checker Superba, Dodge Lancer, Ford E-Series, Ford Thunderbird (third generation), Oldsmobile Cutlass, Rambler Classic, Renault 4, and the Toyota Publica.
  10. The World Wildlife Fund, a conservation organization, was established.
  11. Food stamp programs were being conducted in eight pilot areas throughout the U.S., including locations in Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. In 1961, President Kennedy asked the Department of Agriculture to continue the programs in these areas for another year, and to offer the program to an additional 25 areas in 18 states.
  12. The first franchised Hardee’s restaurant opened in Rocky Mount, North Carolina.
  13. Carpaccio—”a dish of meat or fish, thinly sliced or pounded thin, and served raw, typically as an appetizer”—was invented at Harry's Bar in Venice, Italy.
  14. Julia Child published her first cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking.
  15. The H.W. Lay Company of Atlanta and the Frito Company of Dallas merged to form Frito-Lay, Inc.
  16. Green Giant introduced frozen peas, corn, green beans, and baby lima beans in pouches with butter sauce.
  17. Teflon coated frying pans appeared for the first time.
  18. The first electric toothbrush was manufactured by the Squibb pharmaceutical company.
  19. The Quaker Oats Company launched Life cereal.
  20. General Mills introduced Total cereal.
  21. Unilever, a British consumer goods company, launched Mrs. Butterworth’s syrup.
  22. The Coca-Cola Company introduced Sprite—a lime-flavored soft drink—to compete with 7 Up.
  23. Carnation created Coffee Mate, a non-dairy creamer.
  24. Fritos corn chips—the iconic snack in a class of its own—first appeared in the marketplace.
  25. Other consumer products introduced back in 1961 were CoverGirl cosmetics, Grecian Formula, Head & Shoulders, the IBM Selectric typewriter, Magic tape, PAM, Pampers, Tiparillos, and Total.
In 1961, the highly successful IBM Selectric typewriter was introduced.

In 1961, the highly successful IBM Selectric typewriter was introduced.

6. Nobel Prize Winners

Beth Rowen tells us that winning a Nobel Prize is a life-changing honor. Whether the laureate is an internationally known figure (such as Mother Teresa) or a scientist from obscurity (like Richard R. Ernst), the award brings worldwide recognition that highlights one's life work and provides the funds to continue the mission.

This Nobel Prize information from 1961 has been made available courtesy of NobelPrize.com.

  • Chemistry: Melvin Calvin
  • Literature: Ivo Andrić
  • Peace: Dag Hammarskjöld
  • Physics: Robert Hofstadter and Rudolf Mössbauer
  • Physiology or medicine: Georg von Békésy

7. Best-Selling Books

This book trivia from 1961 has been made available courtesy of PublishersWeekly.com.

Fiction books:

  1. The Agony and the Ecstasy by Irving Stone
  2. Franny and Zooey by J.D. Salinger
  3. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  4. Mila 18 by Leon Uris
  5. The Carpetbaggers by Harold Robbins
  6. Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller
  7. Winnie Ille Pu by A.A. Milne
  8. Daughter of Silence by Morris West
  9. The Edge of Sadness by Edwin O'Connor
  10. The Winter of Our Discontent by John Steinbeck

Nonfiction books:

  1. The New English Bible: The New Testament
  2. The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich by William Shirer
  3. Better Homes and Gardens Sewing Book by the BH&G Editors
  4. Casserole Cook Book by the BH&G Editors
  5. A Nation of Sheep by William Lederer
  6. Better Homes and Gardens Nutrition for Your Family by the BH&G Editors
  7. The Making of the President, 1960 by Theodore H. White
  8. Calories Don't Count by Dr. Herman Taller
  9. Betty Crocker's New Picture Cook Book: New Edition by the Betty Crocker Editors
  10. Ring of Bright Water by Gavin Maxwell

8. Most Popular Television Shows From 1961-62

Encyclopedia.com tells us that “Television cemented its grip on American attention spans during the 1960s. The industry added channels and improved the quality of its color pictures. Americans enjoyed watching the Westerns, situation comedies (sitcoms), and action-adventure shows that made up the majority of network programming, but few could claim that these shows were of great quality.”

This TV trivia from 1961 has been made available courtesy of Nielsen TV Research.

  1. Wagon Train (NBC)
  2. Bonanza (NBC)
  3. Gunsmoke (CBS)
  4. Hazel (NBC)
  5. Perry Mason (CBS)
  6. The Red Skelton Show (CBS)
  7. The Andy Griffith Show (CBS)
  8. The Danny Thomas Show (CBS)
  9. Dr. Kildare (NBC)
  10. Candid Camera (CBS)
In 1961, Perry Mason was one of the most popular TV shows.

In 1961, Perry Mason was one of the most popular TV shows.

9. Favorite Radio Programs

Encyclopedia.com tells us that “With TV as Americans' first choice for news, as well as drama, comedy, and adventure stories, radio was forced to take on a different role in American entertainment [during the 1960s]. The spread of portable transistor radios and of car radios made radio a portable form of entertainment, and radios provided music and news for those on the go. Stations diversified to carry different types of music, from rock to classical, folk to country. One of the most popular radio formats was the Top 40 station, which played only the most popular hits in America.”

Here are some of the most popular radio programs from 1961:

  1. The Bing Crosby - Rosemary Clooney Show
  2. Don McNeill's Breakfast Club
  3. Major League Baseball on NBC Radio
  4. Midwestern Hayride
  5. Monitor
  6. Moon River
  7. Ranger Bill
  8. Suspense
  9. Young Doctor Malone
  10. Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar

10. Highest-Grossing Films

These movie facts have been made available courtesy of The-Numbers.com.

  1. 101 Dalmatians
  2. West Side Story
  3. The Guns of Navarone
  4. El Cid
  5. The Absent Minded Professor
  6. The Parent Trap
  7. La Dolce Vita
  8. Lover Come Back
  9. Gone with the Wind
  10. King of Kings
  11. Come September
  12. Flower Drum Song
  13. Blue Hawaii
  14. Babes in Toyland
  15. Judgment at Nuremberg
  16. Return to Peyton Place
  17. Fanny
  18. Breakfast at Tiffany’s
  19. The Misfits
  20. The Hustler

11. 10 Best Horror Movies of 1961

This film trivia has been made available courtesy of IMDB.com.

  1. The Innocents
  2. Mother Joan of the Angels
  3. Pit and the Pendulum
  4. Scream of Fear
  5. Homicidal
  6. The Curse of the Werewolf
  7. Mr. Sardonicus
  8. Hercules in the Haunted World
  9. Dead Eyes of London
  10. Night Tide
In 1961, Green Giant introduced frozen peas, corn, green beans, and baby lima beans in pouches with butter sauce.

In 1961, Green Giant introduced frozen peas, corn, green beans, and baby lima beans in pouches with butter sauce.

12. Biggest Pop Music Artists

Popular music artists from 1961 included Bobby Rydell, Brenda Lee, Chubby Checker, Connie Francis, The Dovells, Elvis Presley, Etta James, The Everly Brothers, Fats Domino, Ike & Tina Turner, Jackie Wilson, James Brown, Jimmy Reed, Linda Scott, Ray Charles, Ricky Nelson, and The Shirelles.

13. Number One Songs for the Year

This music trivia from 1961 has been made available courtesy of Pop-Culture.us.

  1. November 28, 1960 - January 8, 1961: Elvis Presley - Are You Lonesome Tonight?
  2. January 9 - January 29: Bert Kaempfert - Wonderland by Night
  3. January 30 - February 12: The Shirelles - Will You Love Me Tomorrow
  4. February 13 - February 26: Lawrence Welk - Calcutta
  5. February 27 - March 19: Chubby Checker - Pony Time
  6. March 20 - April 2: Elvis Presley - Surrender
  7. April 3 - April 23: The Marcels - Blue Moon
  8. April 24 - May 21: Del Shannon - Runaway
  9. May 22 - May 28: Ernie K-Doe - Mother-in-Law
  10. May 29 - June 4: Ricky Nelson - Travelin' Man
  11. June 5 - June 18: Roy Orbison - Running Scared
  12. June 19 - June 25: Pat Boone - Moody River
  13. June 26 - July 9: Gary US Bonds - Quarter to Three
  14. July 10 - August 27: Bobby Lewis - Tossin' and Turnin
  15. August 28 - September 3: Joe Dowell - Wooden Heart (Muss I Denn)
  16. September 4 - September 17: The Highwaymen - Michael
  17. September 18 - October 8: Bobby Vee - Take Good Care of My Baby
  18. October 9 - October 22: Ray Charles - Hit the Road Jack
  19. October 23 - November 5: Dion - Runaround Sue
  20. November 6 - December 10: Jimmy Dean - Big Bad John
  21. December 11 - December 17: The Marvelettes - Please Mr. Postman
  22. December 18, 1961 - January 12, 1962: The Tokens - The Lion Sleeps Tonight
In 1961, Swedish meatballs were all the rage.

In 1961, Swedish meatballs were all the rage.

14. Food and Beverage Trivia

GoodHousekeeping.com tells us that “Like fashion, food falls in and out of style. Back when kids of the '50s and '60s were growing up, family dinners meant these dishes were front and center at every family get-together, holiday meal, or cocktail party your parents threw. Many of these recipes evolved from the appeal of new ‘convenience’ foods ranging from canned soups to boxed cake mixes.”

Courtesy of TheDailyMeal.com and GoodHousekeeping.com, here are some foods and beverages that were popular in 1961.

  1. Ambrosia
  2. Baked Alaska
  3. Beef Bourguignon
  4. Beef stroganoff
  5. Chicken a la King
  6. Clam dip
  7. Diet Rite
  8. Doritos
  9. Fondue
  10. Frozen dinners
  11. Fruit cocktail cake
  12. Gatorade
  13. Gelatin molds
  14. Lipton onion soup dip
  15. Meatloaf
  16. Party mixes
  17. Pineapple upside down cake
  18. Pop-Tarts
  19. Pringles
  20. Ruffles
  21. Rumaki: GoodHousekeeping.com defines rumaki as “a popular appetizer consisting of chicken liver and water chestnuts wrapped in bacon.”
  22. SPAM
  23. Sprite
  24. Starburst (candy)
  25. Swedish meatballs
  26. Tang
  27. Tomato aspic
  28. Tuna noodle casseroles
  29. Tunnel of fudge cake
  30. Wacky cake
In 1961, Disney’s 101 Dalmatians was the highest-grossing film.

In 1961, Disney’s 101 Dalmatians was the highest-grossing film.

15. Famous Birthdays

Here are some of the famous people who were born in 1961:

  1. Barack Obama: U.S. President
  2. Andy Griffiths: Children’s author
  3. Billy Ray Cyrus: Country singer
  4. Boy George: Pop singer
  5. Dan Marino: Football player
  6. Dennis Rodman: Basketball player
  7. Eddie Murphy: Movie actor
  8. Erna Solberg: Prime Minister of Norway
  9. Forest Whitaker: Movie actor
  10. George Clooney: Movie actor
  11. Jodi Benson: Voice actress
  12. Julia Louis-Dreyfus: TV actress
  13. Lauren Tom: Voice actress
  14. Laurence Fishburne: Movie actor
  15. Meg Ryan: Movie actress
  16. Michael J. Fox: Movie actor
  17. Princess Diana (1961-97): Princess
  18. Stephen Hillenburg (1961-2018): Director
  19. Tom Ford: Fashion designer
  20. Wayne Gretzky: Hockey player

16. Notable Weddings

These trivia facts have been made available courtesy of OnThisDay.com.

Marriages:

  1. On January 28, NFL coach Mike Ditka married Marge Dougherty.
  2. On March 13, world-famous painter Pablo Picasso wed his model Jacqueline Rocque.
  3. On March 25, playwright and novelist Samuel Beckett married Suzanne Dechevaux-Dumesnil.
  4. On April 1, American televangelist Jim Bakker wed Christian singer Tammy Faye.
  5. On June 26, NFL legend Ray Nitschke married Jackie Forchette.
  6. On July 1, business magnate Martha Strewart wed Andrew Stewart.
  7. On October 14, author Ann Rice married artist and poet Stan Rice.
  8. On October 14, author Upton Sinclair wed Mary Elizabeth Willis.
  9. On November 25, racing car driver Mario Andretti married his high school sweetheart Dee Ann Hoch.
  10. On December 23, actor Martin Sheen wed Janet Templeton.

17. Famous People Who Died

Thus information has been made available courtesy of OnThisDay.com.

  1. January 4: Erwin Schrodinger (an Austrian physicist and Nobel Prize Laureate)
  2. January 24: Alfred Carleton Gilbert (an American athlete and inventor who created the erector set)
  3. April 10: Irene Warfield (a silent screen actress who played in the movie Satan Sanderson)
  4. May 13: Gary Cooper (an American actor who won Academy Awards for Best Actor twice)
  5. May 22: Joan Davis (an American actress who starred in the NBC sitcom I Married Joan)
  6. June 6: Carl Jung (a Swiss psychiatrist who founded analytic psychology)
  7. July 2: Ernest Hemingway (an American author and Nobel Prize Laureate)
  8. July 17: Ty Cobb (an MLB legend)
  9. September 18: Dag Hammarskjold (the Secretary-General of the United Nations)
  10. October 11: Leonard “Choco” Marx (one of the Marx Brothers)
  11. November 16: Sam Rayburn (the Speaker of the House for 17 years)
  12. December 13: Grandma Moses (an American painter)
In 1961, Fritos corn chips—the iconic snack in a class of its own—first appeared in the marketplace.

In 1961, Fritos corn chips—the iconic snack in a class of its own—first appeared in the marketplace.

18. U.S. Automobile Production Figures for the Year

  1. Ford: 1,338,790
  2. Chevrolet: 1,318,014
  3. Rambler: 377,902
  4. Plymouth: 356,257
  5. Pontiac: 340,635
  6. Oldsmobile: 317,548
  7. Mercury: 317,351
  8. Buick: 276,754
  9. Dodge: 269,367
  10. Cadillac: 138,379
  11. Chrysler: 96,454
  12. Studebaker: 59,713
  13. Lincoln: 25,164
  14. Imperial: 12,258
  15. DeSoto: 3,034
  16. Metropolitan: 969
  17. Checker: 860

19. America’s Largest Corporations

Money.CNN tells us that “Since 1955, when the first FORTUNE 500 was created, more than 1,800 companies have appeared on the list. Many of these companies have changed names over this period, owing to mergers, acquisitions, and bankruptcies. Other companies have gone private, or simply changed their names."

Here is the 1961 FORTUNE 500:

  1. General Motors
  2. Exxon Mobil
  3. Ford Motor Company
  4. General Electric
  5. U.S. Steel
  6. Mobil
  7. Chrysler
  8. Texaco
  9. Gulf Oil
  10. AT&T
  11. Esmark
  12. Bethlehem Steel
  13. DuPont
  14. Amoco
  15. General Dynamics
  16. CBS
  17. Shell Oil
  18. Armour
  19. Navistar International
  20. Kraft
  21. ChevronTexaco
  22. Boeing
  23. Goodyear Tire & Rubber
  24. Union Carbide
  25. RCA

20. American Companies and Brands Established During 1961

  1. Broadcom, Inc.: A semiconductor manufacturing company
  2. Business Wire: A media company
  3. Cabela’s: A specialty retailer that sells outdoor recreational merchandise.
  4. Claire’s: A retailer of “accessories, jewelry, and toys primarily aimed toward girls, tweens, and teens.”
  5. Dairy Barn: A regional chain of convenience stores located on Long Island, New York.
  6. Gabe’s: A discount retailer that sells clothing, shoes, and homeware.
  7. Humana: A “for-profit” health insurance company.
  8. Pearle Vision: A chain of vision care stores, and “one of the largest franchised optical retailers in North America.”
  9. Piedmont: A regional airline, currently doing business as American Eagle.
  10. Red Barn: A former fast-food restaurant chain which operated 300-400 restaurants at its peak.
In 1961, the Chicago Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup.

In 1961, the Chicago Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup.

References:

In 1961, Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird was a best-selling book.

In 1961, Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird was a best-selling book.

© 2020 Gregory DeVictor

Related Articles