(Pictured: Lyndon Johnson goes cow-punching at his ranch on November 4, 1964.)
(While we all go quietly mad waiting for this day to unfold however it’s going to, here’s a brand-new post about a bygone day.)
November 3, 1964, was a Tuesday. It is Election Day. Pre-election headlines in the morning papers include a change at the top in Saudi Arabia, where King Saud has been deposed and replaced by his younger brother, Prince Faisal. Also yesterday, CBS officially acquired the New York Yankees from a pair of hotel magnates, Del Webb and Dan Topping, for $14.4 million. NASA is preparing for the launch of Mariner 3 on Thursday. It is to make the first flyby of the planet Mars. Today, President and Mrs. Johnson cast their ballots in the president’s hometown of Johnson City, Texas, before returning to the LBJ Ranch. There, according to Johnson’s daily diary, they “spent the day resting in bed with no interruptions in preparation for the late hours to come.” In the early evening, Johnson takes a number of phone calls before he and Lady Bird helicopter to the ranch of family friend A. W. Moursund and then to Austin to watch the returns.
On network TV today, schedules are sprinkled with reruns of primetime shows including Father Knows Best, Wagon Train, The Donna Reed Show, I Love Lucy, and The Andy Griffith Show. Game shows include The Price Is Right, Password, Concentration, The Match Game, and Jeopardy. Daytime dramas include General Hospital, Search for Tomorrow, Another World, The Secret Storm, and As the World Turns. Tonight’s regular TV schedules are pre-empted for election coverage, which begins with the early evening newscasts. At the end of the night Johnson is reelected, defeating Arizona senator Barry Goldwater, taking 44 states, 486 electoral votes, and 61 percent of the popular vote. The Democrats will end up with a 295-140 margin in the House of Representatives and 68-32 in the Senate. Among the new senators will be Robert F. Kennedy, who won a seat in New York by defeating incumbent Kenneth Keating. Former Kennedy hand Pierre Salinger, who had been appointed to a Senate seat from California in August, lost his race to Republican George Murphy.
In Berkeley, Calfornia, tonight, moviegoers can see the James Bond film Dr. No, Richard Burton and Peter O’Toole in Becket or Burton and Elizabeth Taylor in Cleopatra, along with Fail Safe, Fate Is the Hunter, Yul Brynner in Invitation to a Gunfighter, and Shoot the Piano Player, directed by Francois Truffaut. In Memphis this afternoon, Sam Cooke and Jackie Wilson make a live appearance on a local TV show before their show at Ellis Auditorium tonight. Also tonight, the Rolling Stones play Cleveland. Teenage female fans rush the stage, causing police to stop the show only seconds after it begins, although it eventually resumes. During the show, a 17-year-old girl falls from a balcony and suffers minor injuries. The Stones are angry about the small crowd of only about 1,000; local radio station WHK blames Mayor Ralph Locher’s recent ban on future rock concerts, saying many fans with tickets were not permitted to attend. In England, the Hollies and the Tornadoes play Aylesbury and the Honeycombs play the Manchester Odeon.
At KQV in Pittsburgh, “She’s Not There” by the Zombies makes a giant leap from #13 to #1 on the new Finest Forty survey. Last week’s #1, “Leader of the Pack” by the Shangri-Las, falls to #3, while “Baby Love” by the Supremes holds at #2. Lorne Greene’s “Ringo” is #4. A double-sided hit by Elvis Presley, “Ask Me” and “Ain’t That Lovin’ You” debuts at #12, just ahead of Roy Orbison’s “Oh Pretty Woman,” which has fallen out of the Top 10 this week. Other debuts on the chart include “Mountain of Love” by Johnny Rivers, “Big Man in Town” by the Four Seasons, and Jan and Dean’s “Sidewalk Surfin’.” Apart from Elvis, the biggest movers on the chart are “I’m Gonna Be Strong” by Gene Pitney and “Mr. Lonely” by Bobby Vinton, both up 15 spots. The Beatles are absent from KQV’s chart for the first time since January.
Perspective From the Present: Mariner 3 malfunctioned after launch and the mission was terminated after eight hours. Sam Cooke’s Memphis TV appearance was his last on live TV before his murder in December. The Beatles would return to the KQV chart within a couple of weeks with “I Feel Fine” and “She’s a Woman.” And on another election day, 56 years on, a lot of us are hoping for a similar landslide, not to confirm the popularity of a sitting president, but to rebuke a president and a party unfit for office and homicidal toward democracy itself.