(Pictured: Louis Armstrong on stage, 1962.)
April 15, 1962, is Palm Sunday. Making headlines on the newspapers today is Fidel Castro’s decision to release for health reasons 60 prisoners held since the Bay of Pigs invasion last year. The released prisoners will be flown from Havana to Miami. Over 1,100 rebels still remain in custody. Georges Pompidou is the new prime minister of France; he took office yesterday following the resignation of Michel Debré. Debré left office at the request of French president Charles de Gaulle. Today in Chicago, firefighters are busy with three separate blazes. One of them, at a garage where ice-cream trucks are serviced, does $400,000 in damage, and over 100 firefighters are affected by fumes from the refrigerant used in the trucks. Six people are injured and 20 have to be rescued from a fire at the Tivoli Hotel, and a third fire damages an auto-parts store and a bar adjacent to it. Clara Blandick, who played Auntie Em in The Wizard of Oz, dies at age 85. In Monroe, Wisconsin, a two-year-old who will grow up to waste his time with a blog now has a brother, born yesterday.
The baseball season is one week old. The National League’s Pittsburgh Pirates and St. Louis Cardinals remain unbeaten; the best record in the American League belongs to the Los Angeles Angels, who are 3-and-1 after a 6-3 win over the Minnesota Twins today. The Twins use three pitchers in the game, including 18-year-old Jim Manning, who pitches three scoreless innings in his major-league debut. Manning will pitch in four more games with the Twins in the next three weeks, including one start. They will be his only big-league appearances. Back in the National League, the Milwaukee Braves get their first win, beating Sandy Koufax and the Dodgers 6-3 in Los Angeles. In Milwaukee, Braves fans attend an open house at Milwaukee County Stadium, where they tour the clubhouses, press box, and team offices before the home opener later in the week. The stadium has a new scoreboard this season, and fans will get there on a new expressway. The Chicago Black Hawks beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 3-0 in Chicago, but the Leafs still lead the Stanley Cup Final two games to one. It’s an off-day in the NBA Finals. Yesterday, the Los Angeles Lakers took a 3-1 lead with a 126-121 win over the Boston Celtics. Elgin Baylor scored 61 points for the Lakers, a playoff record that will stand until 1986. Game 6 will be tomorrow night in Boston.
Tomorrow, CBS will launch a new evening news broadcast titled Walter Cronkite With the News. Cronkite, who will double as managing editor, is taking over the anchor chair from Douglas Edwards, who has anchored the evening news on CBS since 1947. Shows on TV tonight include Lassie, Dennis the Menace, Maverick, The Bullwinkle Show, The Ed Sullivan Show (featuring Liberace, Sophia Loren, and Teresa Brewer), Bonanza, The Jack Benny Program, General Electric Theater, Candid Camera, What’s My Line, and Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color. Among the acts featured on the latter is a family group called the Osmond Brothers, who are making their national TV debut, along with Annette Funicello, Bobby Rydell, and Louis Armstrong. The performances are recorded; on this night, Armstrong is performing with his All-Stars in Berlin, Germany. Ray Charles plays the Apollo Theater in Harlem and Frank Sinatra opens a world tour in Mexico City. Proceeds from the 30-date, two-month tour will benefit children’s charities.
At WOHO in Toledo, Ohio, “Soldier Boy” by the Shirelles is #1, ahead of “Stranger on the Shore” by Mr. Acker Bilk and Elvis Presley’s “Good Luck Charm.” Dee Dee Sharp has two songs on the chart: “Slow Twistin'” with Chubby Checker at #4 and her own “Mashed Potato Time” at #12. Two young stars of TV’s The Donna Reed Show have hit records: “Johnny Angel” by Shelley Fabares at #8 (it’s currently #1 on the Billboard Hot 100) and “She Can’t Find Her Keys” by Paul Petersen at #30. Also charted: “Don’t Break the Heart That Loves You” by Connie Francis, “Shout! Shout! (Knock Yourself Out)” by Ernie Maresca, Jimmy Dean’s “P.T. 109,” “You Better Move On” by Arthur Alexander, and “Uptown” by the Crystals. With the twist remaining a national craze, WOHO is charting several twist records, including its own “Wally Wo-Ho Twist” by the Tip Top Twisters. Wally Wo-Ho is the station’s mascot; the record is produced by the jingle company Richard H. Ullman Inc., so the Tip Top Twisters may in fact be the Johnny Mann Singers.