How well do you remember 1969?
Around the world, 1969 was a year for the ages: the Vietnam War reached its bloody peak, the United States took a giant leap for mankind and safely landed astronauts on the moon, and a youth-driven counterculture emerged that would come to define the next decade through protests and music.
It was a triumphant year for the New York sports world and less so for Baltimore: The Mets clinched the World Series over the heavily favored Baltimore Orioles, while the Jets made good on quarterback Joe Namath's bold "guarantee" and beat the Baltimore Colts to become Super Bowl champions.
In the entertainment industry, the Academy Awards' Best Picture Oscar was presented to “Oliver!” but one of the most successful films was “The Stewardesses,” which would be the most profitable 3D film ever to be released until “Avatar” debuted in 2009. The Beatles also gave their last public performance as a band on the roof of Apple Records in London.
Of course, the most famous event of 1969 was arguably the Apollo moon landing. After landing on the lunar surface six hours earlier, on July 21, 1969, Neil Armstrong became the first human being to set foot on the moon; Buzz Aldrin followed 19 minutes later. An event watched by about 600 million people around the world, TV networks ABC, CBS, and NBC covered the event from Sunday morning to Monday evening and together spent between $11 million and $12 million following Apollo 11. But that wasn't enough to convince some people that the moon landing was real—the leading conspiracy theory of the year was that the whole thing was filmed in a studio in Arizona by Hollywood director Stanley Kubrick.
Stacker has compiled the 30 most notable events from 1969 in the order that they occurred. Take a walk down memory lane and rediscover what made the year one of the most momentous in history.
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Richard Nixon becomes president of the United States
Richard Nixon was inaugurated as the 37th president of the United States on Jan. 20, after defeating Hubert Humphrey in the November election and delivering a victory to the Republican Party. “The American dream does not come to those who fall asleep,” Nixon told the American public during his inauguration speech. Later, Nixon would become the first and only president to date to resign from office because of the Watergate scandal.
The Saturday Evening Post stops publishing
The last issue of the historic Saturday Evening Post was published Feb. 8, ending more than a century's worth of popular fiction, feature stories, humor, and cover illustrations made famous by Norman Rockwell. Beginning in the 1960s, the Post shifted to using photographs instead of illustrations for cover art and lost a key component of its identity. This, combined with competition from television and Life magazine, led to a decline in revenue before the publication officially closed its doors. It returned in 1971 as a quarterly publication and was reinvented yet again in 2013.
Mickey Mantle announces his retirement
Baseball icon Mickey Mantle announced his retirement during a March 1 press conference just as the New York Yankees were beginning spring training. Mantle was plagued with numerous leg and knee injuries, and his 1967 and 1968 seasons were marked by lower batting averages and fewer runs. He was 37 years old when he announced his departure, saying he never wanted to “give the fans anything less than they are entitled to expect” from him.
Golda Meir is elected prime minister of Israel
Golda Meir—a native Ukrainian who grew up in Milwaukee—was elected prime minister of Israel on March 17, becoming the country's first female leader. Her tenure was marked by her efforts toward achieving peace in the Middle East through diplomacy, and she was often referred to as Israel's “Iron Lady.” Prior to becoming prime minister, Meir served in the Israeli legislative body and was a signatory of Israel's independence declaration in 1948.
Former President Dwight Eisenhower dies
Dwight D. Eisenhower, who served as the United States' 34th president, died March 28 at Walter Reed Army Hospital in Washington D.C. from congestive heart failure at age 78. Eisenhower was president from 1953 to 1961 and counted the end of the Korean War as well as the development of the Interstate Highway System among his signature achievements. The former president's funeral was held in Abilene, Kansas; in his speech, President Richard Nixon called him “the world's most admired and respected man.”
Slaughterhouse-Five is published
Kurt Vonnegut's "Slaughterhouse-Five," a novel based on the author's own experiences during the Allied bombing of Dresden during World War II, was published on March 31. The book was an instant success, spending 16 weeks on the New York Times Best Seller list after rave reviews in the New York Times Book Review and (now defunct) Saturday Review. Although today the novel is considered a literary masterpiece, it continues to be controversial and has been banned in several school districts.
Milwaukee Bucks sign Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
With the first pick in the NBA draft, the Milwaukee Bucks selected Kareem Abdul-Jabbar—then known as Lew Alcindor—on April 12. In his first season, he was named Rookie of the Year, placed second in the league in scoring, and helped to boost the standing of his team. Though Abdul-Jabbar retired in 1989, he remains the NBA's all-time leading scorer and is considered one of the greatest basketball players in history.
Katharine Hepburn and Barbra Streisand both win Oscars for Best Actress
The 41st Academy Awards were broadcast on April 14, yielding the first tie in a major acting category in more than three decades. Katharine Hepburn won for her role in “The Lion in Winter,” while Barbra Streisand won for her debut performance in “Funny Girl.” Hepburn, who had also won the year before, was not present at the awards ceremony, but Streisand accepted the award in an emotional speech.
Robin Knox-Johnston becomes first person to sail around the world
Robin Knox-Johnston became the first person to sail nonstop around the globe alone on April 22, ending a 312-day journey with his arrival in Falmouth, England. Knox-Johnston was one of nine participants in a contest launched the year prior by The Sunday Times, which promised a “golden globe” to the first person who could single-handedly complete the round-trip journey alone. In 2007 at age 68, Knox-Johnston circumnavigated the globe once again as part of the Velux 5 Oceans Race.
British comedy troupe Monty Python forms
Monty Python, the legendary British comedy group, formed on May 11. It included Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, and Michael Palin. Later in 1969, the group's sketch comedy show “Monty Python's Flying Circus” would air on BBC, and eventually develop into touring shows, movies, books, and musicals, making the group one of the most famous symbols of British pop culture. The TV show would also serve as one of the early inspirations for “Saturday Night Live” in the U.S.2018 All rights reserved.