36-year-old sex symbol Marilyn Monroe was discovered dead in her Brentwood bungalow of an apparent drug overdose, a death the coroner ruled as “a probable suicide.” Speculations arose over her associations with President John F. Kennedy and his brother. Director Michael Curtiz died at age 75.
Universal was purchased by talent agency MCA. Later that year, Congress prohibited studios from operating their own talent agencies. After producing independent films for six years (mostly in Europe), former Fox studio VP Darryl Zanuck took over financially-troubled 20th Century Fox (at the time of the making of the expensive flop Cleopatra (1963)).
During the filming of Cleopatra (1963), in April of 1962, Pope John XXIII issued a denouncement of the rumored illicit affair between its two main stars, then-married Elizabeth Taylor and future husband Richard Burton. Taylor was accused of “erotic vagrancy”(!) by the Vatican. The two married in 1964 after divorcing their spouses.
Marlon Brando was paid $1.25 million for his role in MGM’s flop Mutiny on the Bounty (1962) as Fletcher Christian. He was the first actor to break the $1 million threshold.
Sixteen-year-old Patty Duke became the first minor to win a competitive award when she won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her performance as Helen Keller in The Miracle Worker.
The Bay of Pigs Fiasco ended when 1,113 prisoners taken during the attempted invasion were exchanged for $53 million in food and medicine. The Cuban missile crisis occupied the attention of the world in October and November and was finally resolved when the USSR removed the ICBM’s located there on November 20th. (I clearly remember my elementary school teacher telling us that we might be bombed soon!)
John Glenn became the first American to orbit the Earth. James Meredith became the first African-American student to enroll at the University of Mississippi. President Kennedy proposed a “Consumer Bill of Rights”.
The Edge of Sadness by Edwin O’Connor won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction. How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying by Frank Loesser and Abe Burrows won for Drama. The instrumental “Stranger on the Shore” headed the Billboard Hot 100, despite spending only one week atop the charts. “I Can’t Stop Loving You” by Ray Charles and “Sherry” by the Four Season tied for most weeks at number one, with five weeks each. Pope John XXIII was Time Magazine’s Man of the Year.
1962 looks like it will be one of the better years in cinema. The films I will select from can be found here.
Montage of Photos from Oscar Winners
Montage of photos from major Oscar Nominees