Fifty years ago, moviegoers saw a number of spectacles, ambitious art films and genre-busting originals unlike anything they'd seen before. One was a thrilling spy adventure, packed with sleek sets and international intrigue surrounding the space race -- and a sexy, amoral, supremely confident hero with a license to kill.


The movie was, of course, Dr. No, the first in the most enduring and popular film franchise of all time, still going strong today. Although less gadget-crazy than its successors, the first James Bond film established the formula (mysteriously deformed ;but superhuman villain, nifty secret lair, Bond girl in jeopardy, etc.) for much of what was to come. And it was part of a larger upheaval that magical year -- in movies, pop music, politics, and more -- that marks the true beginning of what we mean when we talk about the Sixties.

The environmental movement was also born that year. In 1959, Rachel Carson received a letter from a friend mentioning the death of many birds in her area after an aerial DDT spray to kill mosquitos. Although Carson had been concerned about the chemical since the forties, the letter galvanized her to write Silent Spring.

A promising folk singer/songwriter, Robert Zimmerman, released his first album, Bob Dylan. The Beatles released their first single, Love Me Do, and the Rolling Stones did their first live shows.

While Kennedy was averting a nuclear disaster by finessing the Cuban missile crisis, Nixon proclaimed that we wouldn't have him to kick around any more after the loss of the California governor's race.

Other notable events of 1962:

  • The Interrobang is invented
  • The Pill is approved by the FDA
  • Fruit Loops are introduced
  • The first use of silicone breast implants by Houston plastic surgeons
  • The first Taco Bell opens
  • The audio cassette is invented. The original use is for dictation machines, but within a few years it is the medium of choice for music
  • The United Nations General Assembly passes a resolution condemning South Africa's racist apartheid policies, and calls for all UN member states to cease military and economic relations with the nation
  • The Space Needle opens in Seattle
  • Federal troops take control when riots result after African-American James Meredith attempts to register at the University of Mississippi
  • Marilyn Monroe dies of overdose
  • Diet Right and Tab make their first appearance
  • John Glenn orbits the earth
  • Andy Warhol paints his first Campbell's Soup can
  • Stan Lee and Steve Ditko introduce Spider-Man in Amazing Fantasy #15
  • Supreme Court bans prayer in public schools


Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?

Dr. No

Lawrence of Arabia

To Kill a Mockingbird


The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance

The Manchurian Candidate

Cape Fear


Silent Spring by Rachel Carson

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L'Engle

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey

A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess

One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Alexander Solzhenitsyn

Travels with Charley: In Search of America by John Steinbeck

Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? by Edward Albee


The Beverly Hillbillies


The Lucy Show

Candid Camera

The Andy Griffith Show

Check out the opening scene of Dr. No:

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Written by Lisa on May 16, 2012


Leigh Ann on May 18, 2012


The sixties were amazing...thanks for taking us back to such a memorable year (1962) and remarkable decade! Also, I remember hearing 'sonic booms' set off at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal & practicing "duck and cover" under our school desks ( was life during the Cuban Missile Crisis!


I remember those things too. Also being taken to see Whatever Happened to Baby Jane at the age of five. Child abuse!


Loved all the info as this is the year I graduated from High School. Oh my! Put a hold on Dr. No and have to wait as there are 9 holds. Thanks.

JB on May 19, 2012


It was certainly a milestone year for Hollywood, before the studio system went completely bust. David Lean's greatest film, Gregory Peck's best movie, one of John Ford's most memorable westerns -- and that little trip to Jamaica, under the mango tree with Honey Ryder...great list!

KCok on June 16, 2012


This was so fun to read. I love all the facts and it is such a trip down memory lane.
Love your blogs.

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