Cleopatra, the most expensive film ever made to date, opened. It was one of the biggest flops in film history (cost-overruns made the $2 million budget become $44 million). The off-screen extra-marital affair conducted between stars Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton) was beneficial for the film’s bottom line. Nevertheless, it took many years for the film to recoup its enormous costs.
Ampex began to offer its first consumer version of a videotape recorder, sold through the Neiman-Marcus Christmas catalogue for $30,000. The first theater originally designed as a multiplex opened – it was called Parkway Twin (for its two screens).
Sex symbol Jayne Mansfield appeared naked (breasts and buttocks) in the unrated sex farce Promises! Promises, making her the first mainstream actress to appear nude in an American feature sound film. (The honor would have been held by Marilyn Monroe in Something’s Gotta Give (1962), but she died during production.) The provocative film was heavily publicized in Playboy‘s June 1963 issue, with pictures to prove it. That led to the magazine’s publisher Hugh Hefner being charged with obscenity (and later acquitted) — the only time in his life.
Actor/director Dick Powell died at the age of 58 in Los Angeles, CA — much too soon.
The biggest and saddest news of the year was the assassination of President John F. Kennedy Dallas, Texas on November 22. Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson was sworn in as president later that day. Shooter Lee Harvey Oswald was murdered by Jack Ruby two days later. The FBI and the Warren Commission officially concluded that Oswald was the lone assassin, but various groups contradicted the findings of the Warren Report and believed that Kennedy was the victim of a conspiracy. After Kennedy’s death, Congress enacted many of his proposals, including the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
In Civil Rights, the year began with Alabama governor George Wallace declaring “Segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation for ever.” On April 3, African Americans in Birmingham, Ala., began daily nonviolent demonstrations and sit-ins . Over 400 protestors were arrested, including Dr. Martin Luther King. On August 28, King gave his “I Have a Dream” speech at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC. In September, Ku Klux Klan members bombed the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Ala.
“Sugar Shack” by Jimmy Gilmore and the Fireballs was the #1 song on Billboard‘s 1963 Year-End Chart of Pop Singles. The Reivers by William Faulkner won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. Martin Luther King was Time Magazine’s Man of the Year.
The Beatles’ first full-length album “Please Please Me” was released in March. It topped the charts in the United Kingdom for thirty weeks until replaced by another Beatles album, “With The Beatles.” The band’s massive success in the USA would wait until 1964.
The Soviet Union launched the Vostok 6 spacecraft, carrying Valentina Tereshkova, the first woman in space. UK War Minister John Profumo resigned after admitting he lied about his relationship with Christine Keeler. Call girl Keeler was simultaneously involved with a Soviet Navy officer and a drug dealer.
I have 139 films on my list for 1963, though I doubt that I will watch all of them. It can be found here.
1963 Oscar Winners
1963 Nominees for Major Oscars