“I started off writing the show as a scathing analysis of what happened to the United States,” ‘Mad Men’ creator Matthew Weiner told the New York Times in a fascinating interview. “But the more I got into Don, the more I realized this is an amazing place. Something really did change in those years” — the late ’50s and early ’60s. “What would it be like to go to that place?”
AMC’s Emmy Award-winning series returns for its third season next Sunday, August 16, and it will open in the year 1963. (Season one ended with main character Don Draper’s divorce on Thanksgiving 1960, and season two ended with his marriage repaired and the resolution of the Cuban Missile Crisis.) Beyond the above preview, though, Weiner is notoriously secretive about sharing upcoming story lines. When the Times asked if the series would cover the assassination of President Kennedy, he would only say, “We’re going to handle everything.” (Read more in the NY Times)
Assuming you have already researched cocktails of the era and picked up your ‘Man Men’ style guide at Banana Republic, here is a brief primer of highlights from 1963:
January: George Wallace was elected governor of Alabama, declaring “segregation now, segregation tomorrow, and segregation forever!” five U.S. helicopters shot down by Viet Cong in the Mekong Delta; Mutual of Omaha’s ‘Wild Kingdom’ premieres on NBC.
February: President Kennedy makes trade, travel and other dealings with Cuba illegal.
March: Country superstar Patsy Cline is killed in a plane crash in Tennessee; the Beatles release their first album, ‘Please, Please Me;” and the New York newspaper strike ends after nearly three months.
April: Academy Awards go to ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ (Best Picture), Gregory Peck (Best Actor – To Kill A Mockingbird), and Anne Bancroft (Best Actress – The Miracle Worker); and Martin Luther King Jr. is arrested in a Birmingham protest for “parading without a permit” and weeks later writes his famous letter from a Birmingham jail.
May: Coca-Cola debuts its first diet drink, TAB; NASA concludes it’s Mercury program; Fidel Castro visits the Soviet Union; and Bob Dylan releases his seminal album, “The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan,” which includes the songs Don’t Think Twice It’s All Right and Blowin’ in the Wind.
June: George Wallace stands in front of the University of Alabama to protest integration, and President Kennedy delivers his Civil Rights Address, promising a Civil Rights Bill, and asks for “the kind of equality of treatment that we would want for ourselves.”
July: Zip codes are introduced.
August: The U.S., United Kingdom and Soviet Union sign a nuclear test ban treaty; James Meredith becomes the first black person to graduate from the University of Mississippi; Martin Luther King Jr. delivers his “I Have A Dream” speech to 250,000 people at the Lincoln Memorial.
September: Marvel Comics releases the first X-Men comic; The Outer Limits, Petticoat Junction and the Judy Garland Show all debut.
October: Sam Cooke and his band are arrested in Louisiana for trying to register at a whites-only hotel; the television remote control is authorized by the FCC.
November: President Kennedy is assassinated in Dallas, Texas. Vice President Lyndon Johnson becomes the 36th President; President Johnson establishes the Warren Commission to investigate the Kennedy assassination.
December: Frank Sinatra Jr. is kidnapped; the Beatles release “I Want To Hold Your Hand” in the U.S., setting off Beatlemania
*for more timeline, go to Wikipedia 1963.