2013 was an interesting year to say the least. The Obamacare website debacle, the government shutdown, the retail worker protest of Black Friday, the birth of Prince George, and a newer, groovier Pope to name just a few things. Yep, we have had an interesting year and things are only looking to be more interesting next year.
As much fun as we had though we can look back 50 years to 1963 to one of the most exciting and tumultuous years in history. Some of the darkest and some of the brightest spots in history can be found in just that one year, starting with...
William Hartnell premiered the iconic alien time traveler in the first Doctor Who serial "An Unearthly Child." Two high school teachers find their new student "Susan" to be very odd. She is far more advanced than her fellow students and argues with her history teacher about past events as if she had lived them.
The two teachers follow Susan into a junkyard where they see her enter a police call box. When they follow her in they discover that the box is much larger on the inside and they meet Susan's grandfather who introduces himself as the Doctor. The Doctor explains that the are in the TARDIS (Time and Relative Dimension in Space) when one of the teachers accidentally activates the controls sending them all back to 100,000 BC and beginning their adventures in time travel.
In its first season Doctor Who was meant to be an educational show. Shows set in the past were meant to bring alive the Earth's history. In addition to visiting the stone age, the Doctor and his companions encountered Marco Polo, visited the Aztecs, and barely held on to their lives during the Reign of Terror.
The shows set in the future focused on science. The second serial premeired every Whovian's favorite villains, the Daleks. The Doctor had to use science and ingenuity to outwit the evil aliens' ambitions of defeating their mortal enemies the Thals and claiming the planet Skaro for their own. Due to the rise in popularity of Doctor Who the writers and producers started to downplay the educational aspects of the series starting in the second season.
In 1966 William Hartnell had to step down as the Doctor due to his ailing health. The producer, Innes Lloyd, came up with the idea that since the Doctor is an alien he could regenerate and change his form, allowing for a plausible way for a new actor to take Hartnell's place. Hartnell personally picked Patrick Troughton to take the role as the second Doctor.
The Civil Rights Movement
Although neither the first nor last year of the Civil Rights Movement, 1963 is arguably the most iconic year of the struggle for equal rights for African Americans.
On April 12 Martin Luther King Jr was arrested in Birmingham for marching without a permit. Days later on April 16th he wrote his open letter defending his strategy of peaceful resistance on the margins of a newspaper and smuggled it out of jail with the aid of his attorney. The excerpts from the letter were published in several periodicals including the New York Post Sunday and the Atlantic Monthly.
On June 11th John F Kennedy broadcasted his Civil Rights address promising a civil rights bill that would demand the kind of treatment for African Americans as "we would want for ourselves." On the same day James Hood became the first African American to register at the University of Alabama. Governor George Wallace personally barred Hood's entry into the registration office until ordered out of the way by General Henry Graham. Months later on August 18th James Meredith became the first African American graduate of the University of Mississippi.
On August 28th protesters converged on Washington DC for the famous March on Washington in which Martin Luther King Jr gave his stirring I Have a Dream speech. The march featured other prominent speakers and performances from musicians like Joan Baez and Bob Dylan.
On September 15th the 16th Steet Baptist Church was bombed killing 4 young girls and wounding 22 others. The bombing sparked outrage throughout the country further solidifying the already strong movement. It wasn't until 1977 that KKK member Robert Chambliss was tried and convicted for first degree murder for his role in the bombing.
The First Woman in Space
While we Americans were just closing out the Mercury program, the Soviet side of the space race were about to make history yet again. On June 16th the Soviets launched Vostok 6 which carried Valentina Tereshkovam, the first woman in space, into orbit.
Tereshkova was one of five female cosmonauts selected out of a candidate pool of 400. Months of training preceded her flight including weightless training, centrifuge training, isolation tests, parachute jumps, MiG fighter training, rocket theory and spacecraft engineering.
In a single flight Tereshkova orbited the Earth 48 times for nearly 3 days, more total time in orbit than all of the American astronauts combined. After her flight Tereshkova embarked in a prolific career in Russian politics. In it she earned a pile of medals as much for her career as a politician as for her space flight.
The James Bond Film Franchise World Premier
1963 saw the worldwide premier of the first of the James Bond franchise, Dr. No (it was originally released in the UK in 1962). When producers Harry Saltzman and Albert Broccoli collaborated to bring author Ian Fleming's gentleman spy James Bond to the big screen little did they know that they were about to launch the biggest film franchise in history. A franchise that is responsible for some of the best spy films in the industry (From Russia with Love, Casino Royale), and also some of the worst (A View to A Kill, Quantum of Solace).
Saltzman and Broccoli had originally wanted to make Thunderball the first Bond film but a legal dispute between the screenwriter and Ian Flemind kept that project on hold for many years. They instead opted for Dr. No, which proved timely since the US were experiencing troubles with their rocket tests near Cape Canaveral.
In Dr. No Bond is sent to Jamaica to investigate the disappearance of a British agent in charge of a radio outpost. His investigations lead him to a bauxite mine in Crab Key and a confrontation with the evil Dr. No.
Several actors were considered for the role of James Bond. They included David Niven, who later starred in the campy spoof Casino Royale, and Roger Moore, who was considered too young at the time. Ian Fleming's choice for the role was Richard Todd, an established actor whose credits included three Disney films and Hitchcock's "Stage Fright." It was Sean Connery's sheer swagger that convinced Saltzman and Broccoli that he was the man for the job. Connery appeared at his meeting with the producers in scruffy clothes but with a "devil-may-care" attitude. As they watched Connery walk back to his car Saltzman and Broccoli decided then and there that Connery would have the role.
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