July 1966 – 50 years ago

2 July 1966 – Billie Jean King wins her first Wimbledon singles title

Billie Jean King - July 1966
Photo Credit: Mitchell Weinstock (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Billie Jean King won 39 Grand Slam titles, including 12 singles, 16 women’s doubles, and 11 mixed doubles titles. 20 of these were at Wimbledon.

In 1966, King defeated Dorothy “Dodo” Cheney (then 49 years old) for the first time in five career matches, winning their semifinal at the Southern California Championships 6–0, 6–3. King also ended her nine match losing streak to Margaret Court by defeating her in the final of the South African Tennis Championships. At the Wightman Cup just before Wimbledon, King defeated Virginia Wade and Ann Haydon-Jones. After thirteen unsuccessful attempts to win a Grand Slam singles title from 1959 through 1965, King at the age of 22 finally won the first of her six singles titles at Wimbledon on 2 July 1966. It was the first of twelve Grand Slam singles titles overall. She defeated Margaret Court in the semifinals 6–3, 6–3 and Maria Bueno in the final. King credited her semifinal victory to her forehand down the line, a new shot in her repertoire. She also said that the strategy for playing Court is, “Simple. Just chip the ball back at her feet.”



11 – 30 July 1966 – The FIFA World Cup

World Cup - July 1966The 1966 World Cup consisted of 16 nations. The format was similar to today’s 32 team format, but the draw for the groups were not seeded, rather each of the four groups included a South American team, a European team, a Latin European team, and a team from the rest of the world (which included Bulgaria and Switzerland).

The eventual tournament winner, England, was grouped with Uruguay, Mexico and France. England won the group with Uruguay also progressing from second spot.

Group 4 was the group that made headlines. In the opening two matches, the Soviet Union easily beat North Korea and Italy likewise saw off Chile. In the second round North Korea surprised with a late goal to draw with Chile, while the Soviets beat Italy 1-0. In the last round the Soviet Union defeated Chile and topped the group while in the other game North Korea made a giant killing and knocked Italy out of the competition with a 1-0 win at Ayresome Park home to Middlesbrough FC before the move to the Riverside Stadium in 1995.

FIFA World Cup - July 1966
The Queen presents the 1966 World Cup to England Captain Bobby Moore.

In the quarter finals North Korea shocked again by going 3-0 up against Portugal inside 25 minutes but before half time Eusebio scored twice to bring the score to 3-2 at the break. In the second half Eusebio netted twice more and Jose Augusto scored one to have Portugal eventually winning 5-3.

England defeated Argentina and Portugal to set up a final with West Germany on 30 July 1966.

Helmut Haller opened the scoring for the Germans in the 12th minute, but Geoff Hurst equalised for England six minutes later. With 12 minutes to play, Martin Peters gave the host the lead but an 89th minute equaliser saw the game go to extra time.

Hurst scored two more in extra time including the still controversial goal that bounced down from the underside of the crossbar before being headed away. England was adamant the ball crossed the line while the West Germans argued it hadn’t. The Swiss referee consulted with his assistant then awarded the goal.

Geoff Hurst is the only man to have scored a hat-trick in a World Cup Final. This is also the longest hat-trick to be completed – most time between the first and third goals. His first goal came at 10′, while the second goals were in extra time at 98′ and 120′.



14 July 1966 – The student nurses murders

Richard Speck - July 1966

At 11:00 p.m. on 13 July 1966, 24-year-old Richard Speck broke into a townhouse in Chicago’s Jeffery Manor neighbourhood, which was functioning as a dormitory for student nurses. Armed with a knife, he entered and eventually killed eight student nurses. Speck, who later claimed he was high on both alcohol and drugs, may have originally planned to commit a routine burglary.

Speck held the women in a room for hours, leading them out one by one, stabbing or strangling each to death, then finally raping and strangling his last victim, Gloria Davy.

One woman, Cora (Corazon) Amurao, escaped because she managed to hide under a bed while Speck was out of the room. Richard Speck may have lost count, or may have known eight women lived in the townhouse but not known a ninth woman was spending the night. Amurao stayed hidden until almost 6 a.m.

Speck was captured and arrested three days later. The following year a jury found him guilty and recommended the death penalty. He was sentenced to die in the electric chair. The death sentenced was later overturned because of issues with jury selection. He was re-sentenced to 400 to 1,200 years in prison (8 consecutive sentences of 50 to 150 years).

He died from a heart attack in December 1991 aged 50.


The Crime of the Century

Crime of the Century - July 1966On July 14th, 1966, Richard Franklin Speck swept through a quiet Chicago townhouse like a summer tornado and stabbed, strangled, and killed eight young nurses in a violent sexual rampage. By morning, only one nurse, Corazon Amurao, had miraculously survived, and her scream of terror was heard around the world.

As the eight bodies were carried out of the small building, the coroner, who had seen the carnage up close, told a gathering crowd: “It is the crime of the century!”

Now, on the 50th anniversary of the murders, the prosecutor who put Speck in prison for life (William J. Martin) and the author and journalist who won an award for his coverage of the crime (Dennis L. Breo) have teamed up to re-create the blood-soaked night that opened a new chapter in the history of American crime: mass murder. Their riveting and richly documented account reveals fascinating behind-the-scenes descriptions of Speck, the young nurses, the relentless manhunt and massive investigation, and the bold legal moves and painstaking preparation for the trial that returned a death sentence for Speck.

Corazon Amurao, the nurse the killer left behind, confronted Speck at trial and told jurors, “This is the man!” Richard Speck was spared execution by Supreme Court rulings and here is the inside story of how he confessed to the murders in a sordid prison video made three years before his death of a heart attack in 1991. And here, in exclusive interviews and photos, is the life today of  the nurse who survived the crime that murdered American innocence.


July 1966 – Other events

1 July 1966 – Prime Minister Harold Holt promises Australian support in Vietnam during his visit to the USA

4 July 1966 – The Freedom of Information Act was signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson despite his misgivings, and went into effect the following year. The Freedom of Information Act is a federal freedom of information law that allows for the full or partial disclosure of previously unreleased information and documents controlled by the United States government. The Act defines agency records subject to disclosure, outlines mandatory disclosure procedures and grants nine exemptions to the statute.

Queen Elizabeth II - July 19664 July 1966 – Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Phillip had a four kilogram concrete block thrown at their Rolls Royce while visiting Northern Ireland. The block was thrown from the sixth floor of a scaffolding on a building under construction by 17-year-old John Morgan. The Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) reportedly attempted to make the incident out to be an IRA plot, but Morgan insisted he acted alone. He was convicted on three charges and sentenced to four years for each to be served concurrently. Fortunately the block hit the bonnet of the vehicle, a few feet further back and it would have smashed through the car’s glass roof above the Queen.

5 July 1966 – McDonald’s Corporation is listed on the New York Stock Exchange opening at $32 per share. Over five years, with stock splits and increasing prices on more shares, the value of an investment made that day would increase to 68.75 times its original worth within six years, so that an original $32 investment would be worth $2,200.

7 July 1966 – Air-to-air missiles were used in combat for the first time as American F-105 fighters found themselves being fired upon by rockets from two MiG-21 jets in the skies over North Vietnam.

10 July 1966 – A heat wave began across much of the midwestern United States, killing hundreds of people over an six-day period where temperatures remained above 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Hardest hit was the area in and around St. Louis, Missouri, where 149 people, most of them elderly, died from heat exhaustion. New York City officials reported that the number of deaths from natural causes was 650 higher than normal during the week, although only 17 of the 2,250 people had died directly from heat stroke.

16 July 1966 – Chinese Communist Party Chairman Mao Zedong inspired tens of millions of followers by swimming in the Yangtze River at the age of 73. An “unexpected virtue” was that hundreds of thousands of people in China were inspired to learn how to swim, and swimming became a highly competitive sport in the People’s Republic.

16 July 1966 – Jack Brabham wins the British Grand Prix at Brands Hatch. Finishing sixth in the race was Bruce McLaren. It was the McLaren Racing team’s first F1 point.

18 July 1966 – Singer Bobby Fuller, best known for “Love’s Made a Fool of You” and “I Fought the Law”, was found dead in a car parked outside his apartment. The autopsy report sated Fuller’s face, chest, and side were covered in “petechial hemorrhages” probably caused by gasoline vapours and the summer heat. There was no evidence of foul play though some commentators believed Fuller was murdered.

23 July 1966 – Saddam Hussein, Deputy Secretary of Iraq’s Ba’ath Party, escaped from prison after almost two years of incarceration, where he had been held on charges of conspiracy to assassinate President Abdul Rahman Arif. Saddam and a fellow prisoner were being transported to Baghdad for a trial, and slipped out of the back door of a restaurant where the party had stopped for lunch, and escaped in a waiting car. Two years later, Saddam would help lead a coup that overthrew President Arif and, in 1979, would become President of Iraq.

25 July 1966 – Twenty-seven children and six adults from Belgium were killed when the bus they were riding in skidding off of a bridge while driving on the autobahn outside of Idstein, West Germany. It fell 50 feet to another highway below. All were on their way home to Brussels from a vacation in the Austrian Alps; the nine survivors were all seriously injured. The driver had fallen asleep at the wheel.

27 July 1966 – Mississippi repealed prohibition laws. It was the last American state to do so. Prohibition was a state law in Mississippi since January 1908. It was a “dry” state for 58 years.



July 1966 – Music, Movies, Books and TV

Batman - July 1966The music we were listening to in July 1966 was varied. The Beatles’ Paperback Writer was among the top of the charts during the month as was Sunny Afternoon (The Kinks), Hanky Panky (Tommy Jones and the Shondels), Bus Stop (The Hollies) and Ray Coniff & The Singers’ Lara’s Theme (Somewher My Love) adapted from the movie, Doctor Zhivago.

At the movies the Box Office top movies were Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf (Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, George Segal, Sandy Dennis) and Torn Curtain (Paul Newman, Julie Andrews). Also popular were Three On A Couch (Jerry Lewis, Janet Leigh, Leslie Parrish, Mary Ann Mobley, James Best, Kathleen Freeman) and Batman (Adam West, Burt Ward, Lee Meriwether, Cesar Romero, Burgess Meredith, Frank Gorshin).

Ultraman - July 1966The Bestsellers list in July 1966 was still dominated by Valley of the Dolls (Jacqueline Susann), The Adventurers (Harold Robins) and The Source (James Mitchner) but trying to push its way up was Tai-Pan written by James Clavell.

On TV in 1966 saw the debut of the Japanese superhero, Ultraman. It became a cult classic over the years spawning dozens of sequels, spin-offs, imitators, parodies and remakes. In fact in a TV mini series, Ultraman: Towards the Future, Ernie Dingo as Mudjudi appeared in one episode.

Another major event for TV in July 1966 is the Miss Universe pageant which was televised in colour for the first time. Margareta Arvidsson of Swenden was crowned.



Would a fly without wings be called a walk?”