Nikita Khrushchev had come to power in the Soviet Union following the death of Josef Stalin. He among others, but eventually he was the leader. It was a time of animosity between the West, represented and led by the United States and the Soviet bloc, represented by the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). In 1959, the U.S. and Soviet governments surprised the world by announcing that Khrushchev would visit America in September and meet with Eisenhower face to face. He arrived on September 15 for two weeks and in addition to many planned diplomatic exchanges, Premier Khrushchev wanted to visit Disneyland.
September 19, 1959
Khrushchev arrived in Los Angeles around noon that day. He had flown from New York and expressed his disappointment at not having the "opportunity of coming into contact with the ordinary people, the workers, who are the backbone of the life of the city, the producers of its wealth."
Anti Communists lunch with Communist Head
20th Century Fox President Spyros Skouras hosted a luncheon for Khrushchev at the Cafe de Paris, the studio's commissary. There was a blitz of requests to attend and many Hollywood stars attended such as Frank Sinatra, Gary Cooper, Elizabeth Taylor, and Marilyn Monroe among others. Such enthusiasm to attend an event for a Communist leader was ironic given the blacklisting of so many of Hollywood's writers, directors, and actors earlier in the decade because of supposed or actual ties to the Communist Party. A few, such as Bing Crosby, Ward Bond, and Ronald Reagan, did turn down their invitations. [Perhaps Reagan said, "Mr Khrushchev, I am tearing up this ticket!"]
During the luncheon, the Los Angeles Police Chief William Parker informed Henry Cabot Lodge, the US Ambassador to the United Nations, the he, Parker, could not guarantee the safety of Khrushchev though Parker had thought so earlier. During Khrushchev's entourage from the airport to 20th Century Fox, someone had thrown a tomato at Khrushchev's car. It missed, but still worried Parker. Lodge agreed with Parker's concerns and said that another event would replace it. Word got to Khrushchev and sent a note to Lodge: "I understand you have canceled the trip to Disneyland. I am most displeased."
Spyros P. Skouras
Skouras spoke. He represented the immigrant's American dream. Arriving in the US at 17, selling newpapers, being a bus boy, with his brother investing in a movie theater and then others, by 1932 he managed a chain of 500 theaters.
He said at the luncheon, "In all modesty, I beg you to look at me, I am an example of one of those immigrants who, with my two brothers, came to this country. Because of the American system of equal opportunities, I am now fortunate enough to be president of 20th Century Fox."
Khrushchev's following remarks included how he, too, had worked his way up from manual labor to be the powerful person he was.
Khrushchev Can Can
After the luncheon, Skouras brought Khrushchev to the soundstage where Can-Can was being filmed. They stopped and greeted various celebrities, including Marilyn Monroe. He said to her, "You're a very lovely young lady." Perhaps presenting a dance scene was not the best choice for the prudish leader. After the dance, hedenounced that it was a pornographic exploitation, despite his smiles while watching it.
No Disneyland for Khrushchev
That ended his Hollywood visit and there was no Disneyland for Khrushchev. Lodge decided that taking the premier on a tour of tract housing developments instead was the alternative.
November 15, 1913: first issue of The Suffragist published. Rheta Louise Childe Dorr was its first editor. (see Nov 18)
Suffragist Tortured, Night of Terror
November 15, 1917: “Night of Terror” pickets (arrested Nov 10) transferred to Occoquan Workhouse, where Superintendent Raymond Whittaker, just back from White House meeting of district commissioners, set in motion a brutal reception for newly arrived prisoners. Whittaker summarily dismissed demands for political prisoner status and watched guards hurl Dora Lewis into a dark cell, smash her head against an iron bed, and knock her. Her cellmate, Alice Cosu, thought Lewis was dead and suffered a heart attack. They beat Lucy Burns, chained her hands to the cell bars above her head, and left her hanging for the night, bleeding and gasping for air. Julia Emory showed support and sympathy by assuming same position. The next day, 16 women went on hunger strike. (San Francisco site full story) (see Nov 18)
Battle of Guadalcanal
November 15, 1942: during the battle of Guadalcanal, the South Dakota was hit forty-seven times by enemy fire. One explosion threw Calvin down three decks of stairs. He was seriously wounded by shrapnel that tore through his jaw and mouth. In spite of his injuries, he helped pull fellow sailors from danger. Half the ship's crew of 3,300 were killed or wounded. He was awarded the Bronze Star, the Purple Heart and the Navy Unit Commendation medal.
36 years later…
November 15, 1978: the General Accounting Office received Graham’s claim from back-pay due him from his World War II service. (see Calvin Graham for full sad story)
The Cold War
November 15, 1957: in a long and rambling interview with an American reporter, Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev claims that the Soviet Union has missile superiority over the United States and challenges America to a missile "shooting match" to prove his assertion. The interview further fueled fears in the United States that the nation was falling perilously behind the Soviets in the arms race. (NYT article) (see December 9, 1958)
November 15 Music et al
Beatles before their US appearance
November 15, 1959: Paul McCartney, John Lennon and George Harrison auditioned for a British talent program called TV Star Search at the Hippodrome Theatre in Lancashire. They had been known as The Quarrymen but for this audition, they took the name "Johnny and the Moondogs." They played two Buddy Holly songs: "Think It Over" and "It's So Easy." They must have been good as they were invited back for the next round of audition the next day.They returned to Liverpool the same night, having no money to rent a hotel room, and therefore missing out on the next round of auditions. (see April 23 & 24, 1960)
November 15, 1966: Gen. Earle Wheeler, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, addressed a gathering at Brown University and approximately 60 students walk out to protest his defense of U.S. involvement in Vietnam. Some of those who remained shouted and heckled Wheeler, while others attempted to storm the stage. Outside, over 100 students continued the protest. (Wheeler article) (see Dec 12)
March for Peace in Washington, DC
November 15, 1969: 250,000 people marched for peace in Washington, DC . It was the largest antiwar rally in U.S. history. Some of the speakers: McCarthy, McGovern, Coretta King, Dick Gregory, Leonard Bernstein. Singers: Arlo Guthrie, Pete Seeger, Peter, Paul, & Mary, John Denver, Mitch Miller, touring cast of Hair . (NYT article) (see Nov 20)
November 15 Peace Love Activism
November 15, 1985: Britain and Ireland signed an accord giving Dublin an official consultative role in governing Northern Ireland. (see November 8, 1987)
Sexual Abuse of Children
November 15, 2004: US Roman Catholic bishops elected Bishop William Skylstad as their new president. His Washington diocese faced bankruptcy due to the volume of compensation claims made by alleged victims of child abuse. (see Dec 3)
November 15, 2006: the Road-to-Freedom tour kicked off. The 50-state bus tour and photographic exhibit chronicles the history of the grassroots "people's movement" that led to passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). (see October 22, 2012)
The Code Talkers
November 15, 2008: President George W. Bush signed The Code Talkers Recognition Act of 2008 into law. The Act recognized every Native American code talker who served in the US military during WWI or WWII with a Congressional Gold Medal for his tribe (to be retained by the Smithsonian Institution) and a silver medal duplicate to each code talker. (see February 14, 2011)
Jimmie Lee Jackson
On February 18, 1965, during a protest near the Perry County Jail in Perry, Alabama, twenty-six-year-old Jimmie Lee Jackson, his mother Viola Jackson, and his 82-year-old grandfather, Cager Lee, ran into a cafe pursued by Alabama State Troopers. Police clubbed Cager Lee to the floor in the kitchen. His daughter Viola attempted to pull the police off, she was also beaten. When Jimmie Lee attempted to protect his mother, one trooper threw him against a cigarette machine. A second trooper shot Jimmie Lee twice in the abdomen. Jimmie Lee Jackson died 8 days later. A grand jury will not indict James Fowler, the trooper who shot Jackson, but on May 10, 2007, 42 years after the homicide, an Alabama grand jury did indict the former state trooper for the February 18, 1965 murder of Jimmie Lee Jackson. On this date, November 15, 2010, James Fowler apologized for his shooting of Jimmie Lee Jackson, but insisted that he had acted in self-defense, believing that Mr. Jackson was trying to grab his gun. Fowler was sentenced to six months in prison. Perry County commissioner, Albert Turner Jr, called the agreement “a slap in the face of the people of this county.” Fowler served 5 of the 6 months. [BH, see June 26, 2011; Fowler, see July 5, 2015]
BLACK & SHOT
November 15, 2015: white Minneapolis police officers Mark Ringgenberg and Dustin Schwarze fatally shot Jamar Clark, 24, an unarmed black man. (B & S, see Nov 19; Minneapolis, see Nov 23)
Occupy Wall Street
November 15, 2011: day 60 of Occupy Wall Street. NYPD began to clear Zuccotti Park. Mayor Bloomberg released the following statement: “At one o’clock this morning, the New York City Police Department and the owners of Zuccotti Park notified protesters in the park that they had to immediately remove tents, sleeping bags and other belongings, and must follow the park rules if they wished to continue to use it to protest. Many protesters peacefully complied and left. At Brookfield’s request, members of the NYPD and Sanitation Department assisted in removing any remaining tents and sleeping bags. This action was taken at this time of day to reduce the risk of confrontation in the park, and to minimize disruption to the surrounding neighborhood.” (NYT article) (see Nov 18)
November 15, 2013, LGBT: Gov. Neil Abercrombie signed legislation into law, making Hawaii the 15th state to legalize gay marriage. (NYT article) (see Nov 18)
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