(Pictured: Buddy Holly with fellow Crickets Joe Mauldin and Jerry Allison, 1958.)
October 11, 1958, was a Saturday. Catholics around the world are mourning the death of Pope Pius XII, who died on Thursday after 19 years as Supreme Pontiff. Yesterday, his body lay in state in St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. Today, NASA, the newly formed American space agency, launches its first satellite, Pioneer 1, from Cape Canaveral in Florida. The spacecraft, developed by the Air Force, is intended to fly by the moon, but engine problems will cause controllers to shoot for Earth orbit instead. That attempt will fail also, and on Monday, Pioneer 1 will burn up in the atmosphere on reentry. The launch is broadcast live on WLTV in Jacksonville. In her syndicated newspaper column My Day, former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt has been writing about her recent trip to the Soviet Union. In today’s column, she tells about her recent visit with Yekaterina Furtseva, the highest-ranking female member of the Supreme Soviet. (Today is Mrs. Roosevelt’s 74th birthday.) In Orfordville, Wisconsin, a farmer from rural Monroe and a schoolteacher from rural Brodhead get married. They will go to Yellowstone National Park for their honeymoon, getting as far as Cuba City, Wisconsin, on their wedding night.
In a clash of college football titans this afternoon, #3 Army beats #4 Notre Dame 14-2. Top-ranked Auburn beats Kentucky 8-0 while #2 Oklahoma loses its annual showdown with Texas 15-14. Ohio State, which was ranked #1 in preseason polls but has slipped to #5 despite winning its first two games, beats Illinois 19-13. Among the other Big Ten results, Wisconsin blows out Purdue 31-6 and Iowa beats Indiana 34-13. Baseball fans are waiting to learn whether New York Yankees manager Casey Stengel will return for an 11th season next year. The Yankees won the World Series this past Thursday afternoon, coming back from a 3-1 deficit to defeat the defending champion Milwaukee Braves in seven games. (Stengel does indeed return, and he will manage the Yankees through 1960.)
Prime-time TV is packed with westerns tonight, including Wanted: Dead or Alive, Have Gun Will Travel, Gunsmoke, and the debut episode of Cimarron City, starring George Montgomery, Audrey Totter, and John Smith, set on the Oklahoma frontier in the 1890s. Also airing tonight: Perry Mason, The Gale Storm Show, The Perry Como Show, Steve Canyon, and The Lawrence Welk Show. The latter has been broadcast with stereo sound in several American cities since its season premiere in September; ABC says the stereo broadcast will soon expand to 75 markets covering 80 percent of the country. Viewers will get one side of the stereo broadcast on TV and the other from tuning in the radio. Also on ABC, The Dick Clark Saturday Night Beechnut Show is broadcast live from Atlanta with guests including Sam Cooke, Danny and the Juniors, and Conway Twitty. The Ku Klux Klan has threatened to disrupt the show over Cooke’s appearance, so National Guard troops are on standby against trouble. In the UK, the sports show Grandstand premieres on the BBC. Showing a mix of live events and highlights, it will run until 2007.
The Biggest Show of Stars tour, which is playing 17 cities in 17 days, reaches Columbus, Ohio, on the ninth day. Stars include Buddy Holly and the Crickets, Clyde McPhatter, Frankie Avalon, Bobby Darin, the Coasters, Dion and the Belmonts, and others. On the new Fabulous Forty Survey at KFWB in Los Angeles, “It’s All in the Game” by Tommy Edwards and “Tears on My Pillow” by Little Anthony and the Imperials hold at #1 and #2 for another week. Bandleaders Cozy Cole and Tommy Dorsey are in the Top 10 with “Topsy Part 2” and “Tea for Two Cha Cha” respectively, at #3 and #5. “Bird Dog” by the Everly Brothers is #4. Three songs are new in the Top 10: “It’s Only Make Believe” by Conway Twitty, “Rockin’ Robin” by Bobby Day, and “To Know Him Is to Love Him” by the Teddy Bears. The biggest mover on the chart is “Non Dimenticar” by Nat King Cole, up 21 spots to #17 in its second week on. The highest debut is “Chantilly Lace” by the Big Bopper at #21.
Perspective From the Present: Stereo sound was new, having been launched by the major record labels late in 1957. One review of September’s Lawrence Welk season premiere said, “The stereo sound under this setup, where the speakers and sound systems are unbalanced, is not very good, but it’s a gimmick that helps rivet attention to the show’s sound.” Read more about the first year of stereo here.
The farmer and the schoolteacher became my parents, and today is their 60th wedding anniversary. We’ll have a family celebration this weekend.