Pop Culture in Review for the Year 1963

Fun, entertainment, news, films, and what not – Pop cultures have become so important in our everyday lives that they impact how we live in the modern society. Pop cultures have always been important for how they change the thinking perspective of the people. The 1963s have been one of the most important ones in pop culture and have some of the very interesting events too.

Find out more about the highlights of pop culture in 1963.


For the film industry, especially the case of the USA, this year was full of different types of events and newest grossing films that made it to the top charts in no time.

  • Cleopatra

Considered as the most grossing film of the year 1963, Cleopatra was an American film based on the historical drama. The story was entirely based on the book by Carlo Maria Franzero, The Life and Times of Cleopatra. This book was written in 1957 but the film version was released in 1963. The story revolves around how the young Queen of Egypt tries to resist the dangerous ambitions of Rome.

Although, the film faced much trouble during the shooting due to major cost overruns and productions were rescheduled. Even the director and cast were changed at times. It was initially considered a disaster because it almost made the production company, 20th Century Fox, go bankrupt.

The film earned a total of $57 million on a high cost of $44 million which is why it was not considered as a major commercial success. The film received 9 nominations at the Academy Awards.

Elizabeth Taylor Cleopatra


  • The Birds

Another one of the classics that gained much fame was The Birds which was released on 28th March 1963. The film stars include Rod Taylor, TippiHedren, Jessica Tandy, Suzanne Pleshette, and Veronica Cartwright as well. The Birds is a film that takes on a whole new level of horror and thriller with suspense. The film revolves around how there is a sudden and unexpected bird attack near California.

It is a film based on the novel of the same name written by Daphne du Maurier in 1952. The director of the film was Alfred Hitchcock who developed new characters and modified the plot from the novel to some extent to make the film much more successful in the audience. The United States Library of Congress selected the film for preservation in the National Film Registry in 2016.

  • The Pink Panther Film

The famous series of The Pink Panther film was released in the form of a comedy film in 1963 by the production company United Artists. The film was directed by Blake Edwards and distributed by United artists. The story revolves around inspector Jacques Clouseau as he travels to another country to catch a thief who is about to steal a priceless diamond known as The Pink Panther.

The film starred David Niven, Peter Sellers, Robert Wagner, Capucine and Claudia Cardinale. Within North America, it earned $10 million while had a 90% approval rating as well. The film was preserved by the Library of Congress as a part of its National Film Registry for being culturally important.


  • A Year for Music

The Beach Boys became very famous with their popular song “Surfin U.S.A” and it made it to the top of the list of billboard year end hot 100 singles for the year 1963 charts. It was surprising that they made this song such a hit because the brand was merely created just two years ago. Such a high performance was therefore not expected.

A pop song that got highly popular was “The End of the World” which was composed by Arthur Kent and sung by Skeeter Davis. The song got so much hype that it made it to top 5 on four major charts for hot singles. Amongst the list of Billboard Hot 100, it got the second position. There are still many covers sung for that song.

  • 5th Annual Grammy Awards

The 5th Annual Grammy Awards ceremony was held in the year 1963 on 15th May. The event was held at three different locations at different times which includes Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York as well. These Grammy Awards were mainly for the musicians that had gotten quite successful in the previous year. Tony Bennett won three awards along with Igor Stravinsky.

Death of famous Dinah Washington

Dinah Washington was an American singer and pianist who was born in 1924 and died in the year 1963. She had a highly successful career and recorded songs in a wide variety of styles. The singer died at a young age of 39 due to overdose on medicines for insomnia and diet. She was cited as the most popular black female recording artist of the 50s.


  • Last mission of Mercury 9

On May 15th, NASA launched the last and final spacecraft under the program of Mercury 9. The final mission was conducted in Faith 7 spacecraft and completed its 22 earth orbits before coming down in the Pacific Ocean. The pilot for this spacecraft was Gordon Cooper who was a United States Air Force Major as well. This last mission was quite significant for the fact that this marks the last time when an American was sent alone to the orbital mission.

  • Discover of Quasar

One of the significant discoveries of the year in science was the visual appearance of Quasar which was one of the blue celestial objects that had the appearance of stars as well. Quasars were optically brighter than the galaxies with radio sources discovered before 1963 which is why this was a major discovery. It was one of the main discoveries that led to further studies towards the black holes. The first ever Quasar identified was named as 3C 273 and was discovered by Marten Schmid.

  • First Ever Liver Transplant and Lung Transplant

Perhaps one of the most significant scientific achievements of the year 1963 was the fact that the first ever liver transplant took place. The transplant was done by Thomas Earl Stazi who was an American physician and expert on organ transplants as well. The said scientist was also called as the father of modern transplantation because it is due to his efforts and research that the transplants of different types of body organs are being done today.

Another major achievement of the year is that the first ever lung transplant was done. James D. Hardy performed the surgical operation on a convicted murderer who survived for another 18 days before finally dying. It was a single lung transplantation only. However, the problems were there due to anastomotic bronchial healing. Although it was a failure, it led to further studies that further led to successful lung transplants today.

  • Nobel Prize Awards

For their valuable contributions in science, multiple different people were awarded with the Nobel Prize award. Among the notable scientists that got the Nobel Prize includes Eugene Paul Wigner for his contributions towards the theory of atomic nucleus, Maria Goeppert-Mayer for proposing the nuclear shell model, and J. Hans D. Jensen for his contributions to separation of Uranium isotopes.

In the field of medicine, Sir John Carew Eccles got the Nobel Prize for his work on the synapse. He shared his prize with Alan Lloyd Hodgkin and Andrew Fielding Huxley who helped him out in his work.

  • The Easy-Bake Oven Was Introduced

A unique toy called the Easy-Bake Oven was introduced in 1963 by Kenner, who is more known for manufacturing the classic Star Wars toys in the 1970s. The Easy-Bake Oven is an actual working oven that is smaller in size compared to regular oven so that they are easier to handle for kids. With the Easy-Bake Oven, kids will be able to cook and bake different kinds of small foods, like cookies and cupcakes. The baking process is made possible with the use of two 100-watt incandescent light bulbs that acts as a primary heat source. If you want to learn more about the Easy-Bake Oven, you can check out the article, “Popular Toys of the 70s that Bring Nostalgia.”


  • Basketball World Championship

Fourth annual session of the FIBA World Championship was held in the year 1963 and was hosted by Brazil. Although it was originally supposed to be hosted by the Philippines, FIBA revoked the rights after the country did not grant visas to players from different communist countries. The championship was held between May 12 to May 25.

Brazil held the title of Championship with just six games. The country had already won the Championship last time and got it again this time. The runners up were Yugoslavia while Soviet Union got third and the United States got fourth place. A total of 54 games were played.

  • Golf Games

The year 1963 was an interesting one for the different types of golf games as well. The Masters tournament was held which was won by Jack Nicklaus while he also won the PGA Championship. Despite having two major tournaments under his name, the richest player or the money leader of the year was Arnold Palmer who earned over $128,000 in one season only.

The case for women’s golf sport was quite one sided. Mickey Wright clearly emerged victorious in the Women’s Western Open as well as the LPGA Championship. She was also considered as the money leader of the LPGA tour being paid the highest amount of $31,629. The US Women’s Open was won by Mary Mills.


  • Emerging Fashion

In the 1960s, the center of fashion was London instead of anywhere in the United States. Year 1963 was important because people were starting to try out more of the bright color dresses for themselves. Pill box hats were becoming a symbol of fashion and were emerging. European fashion trends were what influenced the whole world. The concept of flared-bottom pants also came up which showed more obvious bell bottoms. Polyester was emerging in its usage although it failed later for the dresses. Basically, a more open approach to dressing was being adopted and women were no longer embarrassed to wear short clothing.


  • The Judy Garland Show

The Judy Garland Show was an American show that was aired on CBS regularly on Sunday nights for one year between 1963-1964. Even though there was a tough relationship with Judy Garland, CBS found it to be successful.  The show is still considered to be an important piece in television history.


  • Assassination of U.S President John F. Kennedy

The 35th President of the United States of America was brutally assassinated by Lee Harvey Oswald who was hiding in a nearby building. The President was on his motorcade in his roofless Limousine with his wife Jacqueline, Governor of Texas John Connally and his wife as well. The President was shot multiple bullets many of which hit Governor Connally as well. Although the President was rushed to Parkland Memorial Hospital, he died within 30 minutes. This was one of the most important events of the year 1963.

Events that followed were also unexpected. Oswald was arrested within 70 minutes and 2 days after the murder of the President, he was being transferred from city jail to county jail. This transfer was being covered by live television cameras when Jack Ruby shot a whole round of bullets at Oswald in the basement of Dallas Police Headquarters. Oswald died in the same hospital where the president had died earlier.

The event was quite upsetting as many different television channels suspended and the television channels only showed the different types of programs related to the broadcast of the assassination.

  • Speech by Martin Luther King

The famous speech by Martin Luther King “I Have a Dream” was given on the Lincoln Memorial on August 28th, 1963. The speech was delivered by the activist to end racism in the United States as well as he called for the different types of Civil and Economic rights. He called for a fair freedom and a dream of equality for all Americans without any racial profiling. The speech was delivered to more than 250,000 supporters.  The speech was ranked as the top American speech of the 20th Century and became one of the most famous speeches to date.


  • New Dances

Dance was also gaining popularity in 1963 because many different types of events and social gatherings were opening. A more open and changed perspective from dance was seen where conventional dances were not there. Women and men used to dance quite close to each other. The Pony and The Dog were two of the dances that got very famous in 1963.


1963 was a terrible year in the history of the United States owing to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. However, other different events and highlights such as the first ever liver transplant prove that this year was towards the growth and betterment of modern society. The pop culture of 1963 just came with too many ups and downs.

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