This Week In History: May 18 – May 24

Retro Staff Comments

Headlines & tidbits from the 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s, and 80s.

Bonnie and Clyde - early 1930s

Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow pose in the early '30s

American Experience:

1934 – Clyde Champion Barrow and Bonnie Parker are shot to death by Texas and Louisiana state police officers as they attempt to escape apprehension in a stolen 1934 Ford V-8 near Bienville Parish, Louisiana.

1964 – Johnson unveils his vision for America: “In your time we have the opportunity to move not only toward the rich society and the powerful society, but upward to the Great Society. The Great Society rests on abundance and liberty for all. It demands an end to poverty and injustice, to which we are totally committed in our time.”

1973 – President Nixon confesses his role in Watergate cover-up.

1980 – Mount St Helens blows its top in Washington State, 60 die.

Movies & TV:

1956Bob Hope Show last airs on NBC-TV.

The Empire Strikes Back Movie Poster Sign

The Empire Strikes Back movie poster tin sign reproduction.

1974Dean Martin Show last airs on NBC-TV.

1977Smokey & the Bandit premieres.


1980The Empire Strikes Back premieres.

Music & Radio:

1954 – Robert Zimmerman aka Bob Dylan is Bar Mitzvahed.

1955 – Chuck Berry records his hit song “Maybellene”. The song rose to No. 5 on the pop charts, one of the first rock and roll songs by an African American musician to hit the charts.

1958South Pacific soundtrack album goes to #1 & stays there for 31 weeks.

1960 – Alan Freed & eight other DJ’s are accused of taking radio payola.

1963 – Little Stevie Wonder records his first number #1 hit, “Fingertips – Pt. 2”. He was just 13 years old.

1965 – The Beatles’ “Ticket to Ride” single goes #1.

1969 – The Who releases the rock opera, Tommy.

1969 – The Beatles’ “Get Back” single goes #1 & stays there for 5 weeks.

1977 – Jefferson Starship is prohibited from putting on a free concert in Golden Gate Park, San Francisco because of a city ban on electronic instruments. This would inspire the hit years later, “We Built This City”.

1979 – Elton John becomes the first western rocker to perform live in USSR.

1979 – Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr play together for the first time since the break-up of The Beatles, at the wedding reception of Eric Clapton and Pattie Boyd.

1983 – David Bowie’s “Let’s Dance” single goes #1 with the help of Stevie Ray Vaughan.


Lauren Bacall & Humphrey Bogart

Lauren Bacall & Humphrey Bogart

Hollywood Headlines:

1945 – Lauren Bacall & Humphrey Bogart wed.

1982 – Sophia Loren is jailed in Naples for tax evasion.

1986 – Cher calls David Letterman an asshole on Late Night on NBC.

The Arts:

1986Singin’ in the Rain closes at the Gershwin Theater in NYC after 367 performances.


1941 – Joe Louis beats Buddy Baer on DQ in 7 for heavyweight boxing title.

1966 – Muhammad Ali TKOs Henry Cooper in 6 for heavyweight boxing title.

1976 – Muhammad Ali TKOs Richard Dunn in 5 for heavyweight boxing title.

1988 – Red Sox retire Bobby Doerr’s #1.

Automobile News:

1959 – Ford wins battle with Chrysler to call its new car “Falcon”.

1977 – Janet Guthrie becomes the first female to qualify for the Indianapolis 500.

Technology & Inventions:

1954 – IBM announces a vacuum tube “electronic” brain that can perform 10 million operations an hour.

1956 – At the Institute of Radio Engineers Convention, a tape head is described that can record the frequencies of video, making it possible to record TV programs on tape.

1959 – The first house with a built-in bomb shelter is exhibited (Pleasant Hills, PA).

Last updated: May 18, 2008
Filed under: This Week In History Tagged with: retro headlines, Retro News