“Mr. Presley has no discernible singing ability.” So says the New York Times about Elvis Presley’s June 5, 1956 appearance on the Milton Berle show. The gyrating Presley is called “the virtuoso of the hootchy-kootchy.” With hits like Heartbreak Hotel and Hound Dog already under his belt, the singer whose voice is an “unutterable bore” need not have worried about the less than enthusiastic reviews. Presley will go on to earn 97 gold records.
June 1, 1938: Soaring into History
June 1, 1938, Superman makes his debut on the pages of Action Comics #1. Creator Jerry Siegel confesses that the inspiration for his superhero fantasy was the artist’s own teenage torments: “I had crushes on several attractive girls who either didn't know I existed or didn't care. Then it occurred to me: what if I had something going for me, like jumping over buildings or throwing cars around?” The man of steel will come to humanity’s aid once again, on the big screen in “Superman Returns,” opening June 30, 2006.
June 2, 1956: Game, Set, Match!
A week after becoming the first African-American to win the French championships, Althea Gibson wins the Surrey lawn tennis championships in England June 2, 1956. Despite the fact that she looks “bad on her backhand shots,” reports the Washington Post, “her long reach and superior strength” pays off. A month later Gibson will make history again by becoming the first African-American to win a Wimbledon championship by capturing the doubles title with her partner, Angela Buxton. Before her induction into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1971, Gibson will win 11 major titles.
June 3, 1989: Uprising
For seven weeks, thousands of demonstrators demanding democratic reform gather in Tiananmen Square in Beijing. In response, the Chinese government declares martial law and orders the People’s Liberation Army to forcibly remove the unyielding protesters. On June 3, 1989, tanks lumber into the plaza. Says one observer: “The citizens have gone crazy. They throw themselves in front of the tank.” Soldiers open fire on unarmed civilians. The next day, after hundreds have been killed and thousands more injured, the government declares that it has crushed the “counter-revolutionary rebellion.”
June 4, 1998: Locked Away
Three years after a bomb destroys the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, killing 168 people, a federal judge sentences Terry Nichols to life in prison June 4, 1998, for his role in the deadliest home-grown terrorist attack on American soil. The mastermind of the bombing, Timothy McVeigh, was previously sentenced to death. Nichols does not comment about the sentence but his brother says that Terry is “upset, because he’s innocent.” McVeigh is executed by lethal injection on June 11, 2001; Nichols remains in prison today.