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January 1

Cultivars of plants named after this date must be named in a modern language, not in Latin.

Cuba: Fulgencio Batista flees Havana when the forces of Fidel Castro advance.

January 2

CBS Radio discontinues four soap operas: Backstage Wife, Our Gal Sunday, The Road of Life, and This is Nora Drake.

Castro's troops approach Havana.

The Soviet Union successfully launches the Luna 1 spacecraft from Baikonur Cosmodrome.

January 3

The island of Addu in the Maldives declares independence.

Alaska is admitted as the 49th U.S. state.

January 4

In Cuba, rebel troops led by Che Guevara and Camilo Cienfuegos enter the city of Havana.

In Léopoldville, 42 people are killed during food fights between the police and participants of a meeting of the Abako Party.

January 6

Fidel Castro arrives in Havana.

The International Maritime Organization is inaugurated.

January 7 – The United States recognizes the new Cuban government of Fidel Castro.

January 8Charles De Gaulle is inaugurated as the first president of the French Fifth Republic.

January 10 – The Soviet government recognizes the new Castro government.

January 11 – The Confédération Mondiale des Activités Subaquatiques is founded in Monaco.

January 12

The Caves of Nerja are discovered in Spain.

Motown Records is founded by Berry Gordy, Jr.

January 13Cuban communists execute 71 supporters of Fulgencio Batista.

January 15 – The Soviet Union conducts its first census after World War II.

January 21 – The European Court of Human Rights is established.

January 22Knox Mine Disaster: Water breaches the River Slope Mine in Port Griffith, Pennsylvania near Pittston, Pennsylvania; 12 miners are killed.

January 25Pope John XXIII announces that the Second Vatican Council will be convened in Rome.

January 29Walt Disney releases his 16th animated film, Sleeping Beauty in Beverly Hills. It is Disney's first animated film to be shown in 70mm and modern 6-track stereophonic sound.[1] Also on the program is Disney's new live-action short subject Grand Canyon, which uses the music of Ferde Grofe's Grand Canyon Suite. Grand Canyon wins an Oscar for Best Documentary Short.

January 30 – Danish passenger/cargo ship MS Hans Hedtoft, returning to Copenhagen after its maiden voyage to Greenland, strikes an iceberg and sinks off the Greenland coast with the loss of all 95 on board.[2]


February 1 – A referendum in Switzerland turns down female suffrage.

February 3

A chartered plane transporting musicians Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and The Big Bopper and pilot Roger Peterson goes down in foggy conditions near Clear Lake, Iowa, killing all 4 occupants on board. The tragedy is later termed "The Day the Music Died", popularized in Don McLean's 1972 song "American Pie".

American Airlines Flight 320, a Lockheed L-188 Electra heading from Chicago to New York City, crashes into the East River, killing 65 of the 73 people on board.

February 6 – At Cape Canaveral, Florida, the first successful test firing of a Titan intercontinental ballistic missile is accomplished.

February 9Yugoslavia and Spain set trade relations (not diplomatic ones).

February 13TAT-2, AT&T's second Trans-Atlantic telephone cable goes into operation.

February 16

Fidel Castro becomes Premier of Cuba.

A blizzard causes a massive power outage in Newfoundland.

February 17 – The United States launches the Vanguard II weather satellite.

February 18

Jesús Sosa Blanco, a colonel in the Cuban army of Fulgencio Batista, is executed in Cuba after being convicted of committing 108 murders for Batista.

Women in Nepal vote for the first time.

February 19 – The United Kingdom decides to grant Cyprus its independence.

February 20 – The Canadian Government cancels the CF-105 Arrow project.

February 22Lee Petty wins the first Daytona 500.


March 1

The USS Tuscaloosa, USS New Orleans, USS Tennessee and USS West Virginia are struck from the Naval Vessel Register.

Archbishop Makarios returns to Cyprus from exile.

March 2 – Recording sessions for the album Kind of Blue by Miles Davis take place at Columbia's 30th Street Studio in New York City.

March 8The Marx Brothers make their last television appearance, in The Incredible Jewel Robbery.

March 9 – The Barbie doll debuts.

March 10 – A Tibetan uprising against 10 years of Chinese rule erupts in Lhasa.

March 11

Een beetje by Teddy Scholten (music by Dick Schallies, text by Willy van Hemert) wins the Eurovision Song Contest for the Netherlands.

A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry opens on Broadway.

March 17Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama, flees Tibet.

March 18 – American President Dwight D. Eisenhower signs a bill allowing for Hawaiian statehood.

March 19 – Two other islands join Addu in the United Suvadive Republic (abolished September 1963), in the Maldives Islands.

March 31

Busch Gardens in Tampa, Florida opens.

The Dalai Lama is granted asylum in India.


April 6 – The 31st Academy Awards ceremony is held.

April 8 – The Inter-American Development Bank (IADB) is established.

April 9NASA announces its selection of seven military pilots to become the first U.S. astronauts (later known as the Mercury Seven).

April 10 – Crown Prince Akihito of Japan marries Shōda Michiko, the first commoner to marry into the Imperial House of Japan.

April 22 – Recording sessions for the influential jazz album Kind of Blue by Miles Davis take place at Columbia's 30th Street Studio in New York City.

April 25 – The St. Lawrence Seaway linking the Great Lakes and the Atlantic Ocean officially opens to shipping.

April 27National People's Congress elects Liu Shaoqi as Chairman of the People's Republic of China, as a successor of Mao Zedong.



The first Ten Tors event is held in Dartmoor.

Import tariffs are lifted in the United Kingdom.

May 21959 FA Cup Final: Nottingham Forest defeats Luton Town 2–1.

May 18 – The National Liberation Committee of Côte d'Ivoire is launched in Conakry, Guinea.

May 21Gypsy: A Musical Fable, starring Ethel Merman in her last new musical, opens on Broadway and runs for 702 performances

May 24 – British Empire Day is renamed Commonwealth Day.

May 28 – Two monkeys, Able and Miss Baker are the first living beings to successfully return to Earth from space aboard the flight Jupiter AM-18.


June 3Singapore becomes a self-governing crown colony of Britain with Lee Kuan Yew as Prime Minister.

June 5 – A new government of the State of Singapore is sworn in by Sir William Goode. Two former ministers are re-elected to the Legislative Assembly.

June 8 – The USS Barbero and United States Postal Service attempt the delivery of mail via Missile Mail.

June 9 – The USS George Washington is launched as the first submarine to carry ballistic missiles.

June 14

Disneyland Monorail System, the first daily operating monorail system in the Western Hemisphere, opens to the public in Anaheim, California.

A 3-front revolutionary invasion by air and sea takes place in the Dominican Republic, consisting of exiles aided by Fidel Castro and the Venezuelan government, whose objective is to overthrow dictator Rafael Leonidas Trujillo. Within a few days most are captured and executed. Only four are released by the government. Trujillo is killed less than two years later by men partly inspired by the deaths of the 1959 revolutionaries.

June 18 – The film The Nun's Story, based on the best-selling novel, is released. Audrey Hepburn stars as the title character; she later says that this is her favorite film role. The film is a box-office hit, and is nominated for several Oscars.

June 23

Sean Lemass becomes the third Taoiseach of Ireland.

Convicted Manhattan Project spy Klaus Fuchs is released after only nine years in a British prison and allowed to emigrate to Dresden, East Germany where he resumes a scientific career.

June 25 – A KH-1 Corona, believed to be the first operational spy satellite, is launched as science mission "Discoverer 4" from Vandenberg Air Force Base aboard a Thor-Agena rocket.

June 26

Elizabeth II (Queen of Canada) and U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower open the Saint Lawrence Seaway.

Darby O'Gill and the Little People, a film based on H.T. Kavanagh's short stories, is released in the U.S. by the Walt Disney Company after a world premiere in Ireland.

June 30 – Twenty-one students are killed and more than a hundred injured when an American North American F-100 Super Sabre jet crashes into Miamori Elementary School on the island of Okinawa. The pilot ejected before the plane struck the school.[3]


July 2Prince Albert of Belgium marries Italian Donna Paola Ruffo di Calabria.

July 4 – With the admission of Alaska as the 49th U.S. state earlier in the year, the 49-star flag of the United States debuts in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

July 7 – At 14:28 UT Venus occults the star Regulus. The rare event (which will next occur on October 1, 2044) is used to determine the diameter of Venus and the structure of Venus' atmosphere.

July 14 Groups of Kurdish and communist militias rebel in Kirkuk, Iraq against the central government.[4]

July 15 – A strike occurs against the United States' steel industry.

July 17 – The first skull of Australopithecus is discovered by Louis Leakey and his wife Mary Leakey in the Olduvai Gorge of Tanzania.

July 22 – A Kumamoto University medical research group studying Minamata disease concludes that it is caused by mercury.

July 24 – At the opening of the American National Exhibition in Moscow, United States Vice President Richard Nixon and USSR Premier Nikita Khrushchev engage in the "Kitchen Debate".

July 25 – The SR-N1 hovercraft crosses the English Channel from Calais to Dover in just over 2 hours, on the 50th anniversary of Louis Blériot's first crossing by heavier-than-air craft.


August 4Martial law is declared in Laos.

August 7

Explorer program: The United States launches Explorer 6 from the Atlantic Missile Range in Cape Canaveral, Florida.

United States: The Roseburg Oregon Blast kills 14 and causes $12 million worth of damage.

August 8 – A flood in Taiwan kills 2,000.

August 14Explorer 6 sends the first picture of Earth from orbit.

August 15Cyprus gains independence.

August 17

The 1959 Hebgen Lake earthquake in southwest Montana kills 28.

Columbia Records releases Miles Davis' groundbreaking album, Kind of Blue.

August 19 – The Central Treaty Organization (CENTO) is established.

August 21Hawaii is admitted as the 50th U.S. state.

August 24Cyprus joins the United Nations.

August 26 – The original Mini designed by Sir Alec Issigonis is launched.


September 14Luna 2 becomes the first man-made object to crash on the Moon.

September 15September 28USSR Premier Nikita Khrushchev and his wife tour the United States, at the invitation of U.S. President Dwight David Eisenhower.

September 16 – The Xerox 914, the first plain paper copier, is introduced to the public.

September 17

The first Navy Navigation Satellite System Transit 1A is launched but fails to reach orbit.

The Hypersonic North American X-15 Research Vehicle, piloted by Scott Crossfield, makes its first powered flight at Edwards Air Force Base, California.

September 23 – The M/S Princess of Tasmania, (Australia's first passenger RO/RO diesel ferry), makes its maiden voyage across the Bass Strait.

September 25Ceylon's prime minister S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike is assassinated.

September 26

Typhoon Vera hits central Honshū, Japan, killing an estimated 5,098, injuring another 38,921, and leaving 1,533,000 homeless. Most of the victims and damage are centered in the Nagoya area.

The first official large unit action of the Vietnam War takes place, when two companies of the ARVN 23d Division are ambushed by a well-organized Vietcong force of several hundred, identified as the "2d Liberation Battalion".

September 30Soviet Union leader Nikita Khrushchev meets Mao Zedong in Beijing.


October 1 – The 10th anniversary of the People's Republic of China is celebrated with pomp across the country.

October 2Rod Serling's classic anthology series The Twilight Zone premieres on CBS.

October 7 – The U.S.S.R. probe Luna 3 sends back the first ever photos of the far side of the Moon.

October 12 – At the national APRA Congress in Peru, a group of leftist radicals is expelled from the party; they later form APRA Rebelde.

October 13 – The United States launches Explorer 7.

October 21 – In New York City, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (designed by Frank Lloyd Wright) opens to the public.

October 29 – First appearance of Astérix the Gaul.[5]

October 31 – Riots break out in the Belgian Congo.


November 1 – In Rwanda, Hutu politician Dominique Mbonyumutwa is beaten up by Tutsi forces, leading to a period of violence known as the wind of destruction.

November 2 – At a ceremony near Toddington, British Minister of Transport Ernest Marples opens the first section of the M1 Motorway, between Watford and Crick, along with two spur motorways, the M45 and M10. Three decades of large scale motorway construction follow, leading to the rapid expansion of the UK motorway network.

November 12 – The Warner Bros. religious epic The Miracle, very loosely based on the 1911 stage pantomime Das Mirakel, is released. It is a critical and financial bomb.

November 15 – The Clutter family of Holcomb, Kansas is brutally murdered, inspiring Truman Capote's In Cold Blood.

November 18MGM's widescreen, multimillion dollar, Technicolor version of Ben-Hur, starring Charlton Heston, is released and becomes the studio's greatest hit up to that time. It is critically acclaimed and eventually wins 11 Academy Awards – a record held until 1998, when 1997's Titanic becomes the first film to equal the record. To the present day, the 1959 Ben-Hur remains the last MGM film to win a Best Picture Oscar, though Doctor Zhivago, another MGM film, was nominated in 1965.

November 20 – The Declaration of the Rights of the Child is adopted by the United Nations.


December 1Cold WarAntarctic Treaty: 12 countries, including the United States and the Soviet Union, sign a landmark treaty, which sets aside Antarctica as a scientific preserve and bans military activity on that continent (the first arms control agreement established during the Cold War).

December 2Malpasset Dam in southern France collapses and water flows over the town of Frejus, killing 412.

December 8 – The Mona, a lifeboat based at Broughty Ferry in Scotland, capsizes during a rescue attempt, with the loss of 8 lives.

December 14Makarios III is selected the first president of Cyprus.

Date unknown

Pantyhose is introduced by Glen Raven Mills.

The Workers World Party is founded by Sam Marcy.

The first known human with HIV dies in the Congo.[6]

The current (as of 2006) design of the Japanese 10 yen coin is put into circulation.

The Caspian Tiger becomes extinct in Iran.

The Henney Kilowatt goes on sale in the United States, becoming the first mass-produced electric car in almost three decades.

Erving Goffman publishes his seminal study in sociology, The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life.

The iconic 1959 Cadillac is introduced, ending the tailfin wars begun in 1948.