May 1961 calendar

May 1961

Learn the most interesting events and historical facts that happened in May 1961.
The US president was John F. Kennedy (Democrat), the UK Prime Minister was Harold Macmillan (Conservative), Pope John XXIII was leading the Catholic Church.

But much more happened on May 1961: find out below


Historical Events

Which were the important events of May 1961?


  • 01 May 1961 1st US airplane hijacked to Cuba
  • 03 May 1961 Warren Spahn pitches a two hitter after pitching a no hitter.
  • 04 May 1961 1st on-the-road Spacemobile lecture given.
  • 05 May 1961 Alan Shepard becomes first American in space (aboard Freedom 7).
  • 06 May 1961 Omer Vanaudenhove chosen chairman of Belgium Liberal Party.
  • 07 May 1961 Ruth Jessen wins LPGA Peach Blossom Golf Open.
  • 08 May 1961 First practical sea water conversion plant-Freeport, Texas, USA.
  • 09 May 1961 FCC Chairman Newton N Minow criticizes TV as a vast wasteland
  • 10 May 1961 Beyond the Fringe, premieres in London
  • 12 May 1961 Botvinnik wins world chess championship for third time.
  • 14 May 1961 Bus with first group of Freedom Riders bombed and burned in Alabama, USA.
  • 15 May 1961 Bonanza by Al Caiola Orchestra hits #19
  • 16 May 1961 13rd Emmy Awards: Jack Benny Show, Raymond Burr and Barbara Stanwyck
  • 17 May 1961 Fidel Castro offers to exchange Bay of Pigs prisoners for 500 bulldozers.
  • 18 May 1961 Donnybrook! opens at 46th St. Theater NYC for 68 performances
  • 19 May 1961 New pier opens in Scheveningen
  • 20 May 1961 Henzes opera Elegy for Young Lovers, premieres in Schwetzingen
  • 21 May 1961 Governor Patterson declares martial law in Montgomery, Alabama, USA.
  • 22 May 1961 Mother-In-Law by Ernie K-Doe hits #1
  • 24 May 1961 American civil rights movement: Freedom Riders are arrested in Jackson, Mississippi for ''disturbing the peace'' after disembarking from their bus.
  • 25 May 1961 JFK sets goal of putting a man on Moon before the end of decade
  • 26 May 1961 US Air Force bomber flies the Atlantic in a record of just over three hours.
  • 27 May 1961 President Kennedy announces US goal to reach Moon
  • 28 May 1961 Amnesty International founded
  • 29 May 1961 The US Department of Agriculture officially begins its Food Stamp program.
  • 30 May 1961 Maris hits his 10th and 11th of 61 HRs
  • 31 May 1961 JFK visits Charles de Gaulle in Paris
  • 05 May 1961 Project Mercury: Alan Shepard becomes the first American to travel into outer space, on a sub-orbital flight.
vinyl songs

Music charts

Which were the top hits in May 1961?
Unlimited, ad-free streaming of over a million songs, 30 day Free Trial

Top #5 songs in the USA

  1. - Runaway
  2. - Mother-In-Law
  3. - I've Told Every Little Star
  4. - A Hundred Pounds Of Clay
  5. - Daddy's Home

Top #5 songs in the UK

  1. - Blue Moon
  2. - You're Driving Me Crazy
  3. - On The Rebound
  4. - Wooden Heart
  5. - More Than I Can Say / Staying In


Which were the most popular Movies released in that month?


Which were the most popular books released in May 1961?

Something Light by Margery Sharp

Something Light


The story of Louisa Mary Datchett, who was "very fond of men"-indiscriminately fond of men in fact. For their part, men seemed to see this in her and took advantage.

Manila Galleon by F. Van Wyck Mason

Manila Galleon


This is a fantastic tale of the sea, based on George Anson's famous voyage.

The War Called Peace by Harry and Bonaro Overstreet

The War Called Peace


Harry, book by Overstreet

The Last Of The Just by Andre Schwarz-Bart

The Last Of The Just


Andre Schwarz-Bart's The Last of the Just was published in 16 languages and won the prestigious Prix Goncourt. It is widely considered the greatest Holocaust novel.

Pomp And Circumstance by Noel Coward

Pomp And Circumstance


The first novel by the author, a hilarious comedy with absurd dialogue and bizarre situations. This is a wonderfully funny story about the manners and customs of a tropical island.