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February 1, 1950 (Wednesday)
- U.S. President Truman issued Executive Order 10104, adding
another level of nondisclosure to United States government
information. The first three levels ("restricted", "confidential"
and "secret") were kept, but an even higher classification — "top
secret" — was used for the first time.
- The United States Senate voted 64-27 in favor of a proposed
amendment to the United States Constitution that would change the
method of selecting the
Electoral College. Under the proposal, which received the
required 2/3rds majority, a state's electoral votes would be divided
in proportion to the percentage of the popular vote that a
presidential candidate received, rather than the winner in an
individual receiving all of the electoral votes in that state.
bill failed a few months later to get approval in the U.S. House of
February 2, 1950 (Thursday)
French Assembly approved the Saigon Convention, granting
sovereignty and promising eventual independence to the
State of Vietnam, under the leadership of former Emperor
Constantin Carathéodory, 74, Greek mathematician
February 3, 1950 (Friday)
- Nuclear physicist
Klaus Fuchs was arrested by agents of
Scotland Yard and charged with having provided American atomic
bomb secrets to the
Morgan Fairchild, American actress, as Patsy Ann McClenny in
Zaynab Alkali, Nigerian novelist, in
- Died: Sir
Lionel Cripps, 86, Rhodesian politician, first Speaker of the
colonial legislative assembly;
Sid Field, 45, British comedian; and
Émile Borel, 85, French mathematician
February 4, 1950 (Saturday)
- Lt. General
Leslie R. Groves testified in a closed hearing before a joint
congressional committee in Washington that, as a result of the
secrets that Dr.
Klaus Fuchs had provided to the U.S.S.R., the Soviet Union had
not only begun development of an atomic bomb arsenal, but that the
U.S. was in a race against the Soviets on the development of the
Montagu Collet Norman, 78, British financier, Governor of the
Bank of England 1920-1944, nicknamed "The Sphinx of Threadneedle
February 5, 1950 (Sunday)
- The Soviet Union and the People's Republic of China signed a
treaty in Moscow, for the return of the
Port Arthur naval base territory to Chinese control. Located in
Manchuria, Port Arthur had been under Russian control until 1905,
when it was captured by Japan in the
Russo-Japanese War and renamed Ryojun. The U.S.S.R. recaptured
the port in 1945 during
World War II, and would finally be turned over to China in 1955.
- Totocalcio the
football pool for betting on soccer football matches in
Italy, had its first big winner, when a miner from
Sardinia, Giovanni Mannu, won 77,000,000
Italian lire for predicted all 12 of that weekend's matches
correctly. The amount, worth $123,000 American at the time, would be
equivalent to $1.1 million (or €850,000) in 2010.
Kate Braverman, American novelist, in
February 6, 1950 (Monday)
- The Air Force of the
Republic of China, flying from the island of
made a successful bombing raid on the Communist Chinese mainland,
striking the People's Republic's largest city,
Shanghai; the 17 aircraft, including two
B-29 bombers, targeted the power plants of Shanghai's electrical
power plants, shutting down the electricity in 90% of the city.
According to the PRC, 500 people were killed, 600 were injured and
50,000 were left homeless by the raid.
Natalie Cole, American singer, in
Los Angeles (d. 2015)
Georges Imbert, 65, German chemist
February 7, 1950 (Tuesday)
- The United States gave diplomatic recognition to the newly
established French-supported governments in Vietnam, Laos and
Cambodia with the aim to help "the establishment of stable,
non-Communist governments in areas adjacent to Communist China".
D. K. Broster, 72, British historical novelist
February 8, 1950 (Wednesday)
credit card was used for the first time, after loan company
Frank X. McNamara and lawyer Ralph E. Schneider persuaded 14 New
York City restaurants to accept the
Diners Club card rather than cash. The 200 Diners Club members
who had cards would be billed each month by the Club, which would
pay the participating restaurants for the debt incurred.
Matty Simmons accompanied McNamara and Schneider to what is
called, in credit card histories, "The First Supper" (actually,
lunch) at Major's Cabin Grill, adjacent to the Empire State
Building. At the end of the mail, McNamara handed the waiter a piece
of cardboard, Diners Club card #1,000 and charged the meal;
Schneider carried #1,001 and Simmons #1,002.
East Germany, the Ministerium fur Staatssicherhetsdienst,
a secret police organization more commonly known as the "Stasi"
rather than the MfS, was established. For nearly 40 years, the Stasi
would spy, and maintain files, on every resident of the German
February 9, 1950 (Thursday)
February 9, 1950: Senator McCarthy announces that he has a
list of 205 names of Communist employees in the U.S. State
- McCarthyism: In a speech to the Ohio County Republican Women's
Club at the McClure Hotel in
Wheeling, West Virginia, U.S. Senator
Joseph McCarthy told listeners that Communists had infiltrated
the U.S. State Department. Underscoring his point, McCarthy held up
a piece of paper and said, "While I cannot take the time to name all
of the men in the State Department who have been named as members of
the Communist Party and members of a spy ring, I have here in my
hand a list of 205- a list of names that were known to the Secretary
of State, and who, nevertheless, are still working and shaping the
policy in the State Department."
The speech had been written by Ed Nellor of the Washington
Times-Herald, whom McCarthy had approached to compose a short
talk. Nellor had a list, obtained from Congressional staffer Robert
Lee, of 57 State Department employees who were still being
investigated by the House Appropriations Committee as possible
February 9, 1950: Element 98, first synthesized, dubbed
- Element 98 was created for the first time by a team of
physicists at the University of California at Berkeley.
Glenn T. Seaborg,
Stanley G. Thompson and
Kenneth Street, Jr., having named Element 97
berkelium, gave the name
californium to the new element.
February 10, 1950 (Friday)
Maudheim Station was established, by the
Norwegian–British–Swedish Antarctic Expedition, on a floating
thick ice shelf at
Queen Maud Land.
- The CIA sent a report to U.S. President Truman that concluded
that the Soviet Union would have a stockpile of 100 atomic bombs by
the end of 1953, and 200 by the end of 1955. The Joint Chiefs of
Staff had estimated that the Soviets would have as many as 20
A-bombs by the end of the year, and between 70 and 135 by mid-1953.
Mark Spitz, American Olympic swimmer, 7 time gold medalist in
1972, 2 in 1968, in
Modesto, California; and
Luis Donaldo Colosio, Mexican presidential nominee, in
Magdalena de Kino (assassinated in 1994)
February 11, 1950 (Saturday)
Kurt Vonnegut was published for the first time, as his story
"Report on the Barnhouse Effect" appeared in Collier's magazine.
Kiki Cuyler, 51, American MLB baseball player and Hall of Fame
February 12, 1950 (Sunday)
European Broadcasting Union was founded at a conference in the
English coastal resort of
Torquay, by representatives of 23 Western European broadcasting
stations. In 1993, the EBU would incorporate OIRT, the International
Radio and Television Organization
Michael Ironside, Canadian actor, in
Steve Hackett, British songwriter and guitarist, former member
of rock group Genesis, in the
City of Westminster
February 13, 1950 (Monday)
- British Columbia B-36 crash - Off the west coast of Canada, the
U.S. Air Force lost a
Convair B-36 bomber
that carried a
Mark 4 nuclear bomb. According to reports declassified and
released in 1977, the bomb casing contained "no functional nuclear
explosive" and exploded on impact with the ocean.
Twelve of the 17 crewmen were rescued by a fishing boat, while the
others were missing and presumed dead.
- Jim Thorpe was voted "the greatest male athlete of the half
century" in a poll of American sportswriters and broadcasters by the
Associated Press, named in first place by 252 of 393 voters, well
Babe Ruth (86) and
Jack Dempsey (67).
The next day,
Babe Didrikson Zaharias was voted the greatest female athlete of
the half century by the panel, with 319 of 361 first place votes.
Helen Wills Moody was a distant second.
Peter Gabriel, British rock musician (Sledgehammer) and
former member of rock group Genesis, in
Rafael Sabatini, 74, Italian novelist
February 14, 1950 (Tuesday)
- Sino-Soviet Treaty of Friendship, Alliance and Mutual Assistance:
Soviet Union and the
People's Republic of China, the two largest Communist nations on
Earth, signed a 30-year treaty, pledging to come to each other's aid
in the event either nation was attacked.
The treaty also contained a provision that it would renew for an
additional five years if not cancelled one year prior to its
February 15, 1950 (Wednesday)
- Walt Disney released his 12th animated film,
Cinderella, with a premiere in Boston, followed on
February 22 in other major cities. The very successful film marked a
"profitable return to the fairy tale" for Disney after the losing
money on Fantasia and Bambi.
- Sardi's, a restaurant in the
Theater District of Manhattan, began the tradition of hosting
opening-night parties for plays premiering on Broadway, starting
with a celebration for the cast and crew following Come Back,
- Come Back, Little Sheba made its debut on Broadway, as the
first play for
William Inge. Actors
Shirley Booth and
Sidney Blackmer would both win Tony Awards for their
performances in the play, which ran for 190 performances, and Booth
would win an Academy Award two years later when she reprised her
role as "Lola" in the film version of the play.
Tsui Hark (Tsui Man-kong), Hong Kong film director, in
February 16, 1950 (Thursday)
- Electoral reform was enacted by Turkey's Parliament, adopting
for the first time the
secret ballot, open counting of ballots, and oversight of the
selection of election judges. In the next election three months
later, the Republican People's Party would lose its majority in
Parliament after 27 years.
- France requested American economic and military assistance to
aid French efforts in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia.
Roman Tam, renowned Hong Kong singer nicknamed "Godfather of
Guiping, China (d. 2002); and
Peter Hain, British cabinet minister, Leader of the House of
Commons 2003-05, in
Nairobi, Kenya, British East Africa
Charles "Mile-a-Minute" Murphy, 79, American cyclist who was the
first person (in 1899) to ride a bicycle at more than 60 miles an
S. Otis Bland, 67, U.S. Congressman since 1918
February 17, 1950 (Friday)
- In the worst railroad accident in the New York metropolitan
area, 29 commuters were killed and 105 injured in the collision of
two Long Island Railroad trains. At 10:38 pm, eastbound Train No.
192 ran through a red light signal and crashed head on into the
westbound Train No. 175 at
Rockville Centre, New York. Together, the two trains carried
"about 1,000 passengers" and were ripped down the center of the
Abdullah I of Jordan and
Reuven Shiloah of
met at the King's winter palace at
El Shuneh, where the King presented a seven-point treaty
- Mao Zedong, the leader of the Communist Party of the People's
Republic of China, returned home from the Soviet Union after a stay
of two months. Mao had arrived in Moscow on December 16, 1949, and
remained there for nine weeks.
pointer dog for the British ship
HMS Grasshopper, credited with saving the lives of its
crew during World War II
February 18, 1950 (Saturday)
- U.S. businessman Robert A. Vogeler, a telephone company
executive in Hungary, pleaded guilty to charges of espionarge and
told a Budapest court that he had tried to help atomic scientists
escape from the Communist-controlled nation.
Three days later, Voegeler, who had asked the court for mercy, was
given a 15-year prison sentence.
Vogeler would finally be released on April 27, 1951, after
"concessions" were made by the United States, and would write a book
about the experience, I Was Stalin's Prisoner.
John Hughes, American film director, producer, and writer, in
Lansing, Michigan (d. 2009);
Bebe Moore Campbell, American novelist, in
Cybill Shepherd, American film and TV actress, in
February 19, 1950 (Sunday)
- The United States broke diplomatic relations with
Bulgaria in the first American withdrawal of representatives
since World War II. The move followed Bulgaria's refusal to drop
espionage charges against American foreign officer Donald R. Heath.
The 12 members of the Bulgarian mission in Washington were ordered
to leave, and the 38 American diplomats in Sofia were directed to
leave as soon as possible.
- The demotion of Soviet Communist Party Politburo member
Andrey Andreyevich Andreyev began when an unsigned editorial
appeared in the official Party newspaper, Pravda.
Entitled "Against Distortions in the Organization of the Kolkhoz",
the article criticized Andreyev for his attempt to change the format
collective farming by advocating smaller groups of laborers
("links") instead of the larger "brigades", making him the scapegoat
for a policy that had been in place since 1939.
February 20, 1950 (Monday)
- U.S. Senator Joe McCarthy elaborated on his charges of Communism
in the U.S. State Department, giving a five-hour speech on the floor
of the Senate in Washington, D.C. In the speech read into the Congressional Record, McCarthy revised his charge of 205 or 57
Communists in the State Department, to 81.
Tony Wilson, English music producer, in
Salford, Greater Manchester (d. 2007)
Sarat Chandra Bose, 60, Indian independence fighter
February 21, 1950 (Tuesday)
- The first
International Pancake Race was staged between competitors at
Olney, Buckinghamshire (which had started the tradition in
in England, and in
Liberal, Kansas, in the United States. The President of the
Jaycees service club in Liberal had read about the race and had
written to the vicar of St. Peter's and St. Paul's Church in Olney,
with the housewives in both towns trying to make the best time in
the race. The two towns have competed on every
Shrove Tuesday since then.
- WOI-TV began broadcasting from studios at
Iowa State University in
Ames, becoming the first regular broadcaster of educational
television. As the first TV station to cover most of Iowa, WOI also
carried some programming from commercial networks; the first fully
noncommercial educational TV station would be
University of Houston, which would sign on May 25, 1953.
February 22, 1950 (Wednesday)
- Egypt and
signed a General Armistice Agreement at
Auja al-Hafir, a town on the border between the two nations. The
Agreement defined the boundaries of the
Gaza Strip as a neutral zone between the Muslim and Jewish
countries, which had fought a war less than two years earlier.
- The National Intercollegiate Recreational Sports Association was
created by agreement of representatives from eleven
historically black colleges (Albany State College, Arkansas A&M
College, Bethune-Cookman College, Dillard University, North Carolina
College, Southern University, Texas Southern University, Tillotson
College, Tuskegee Institute, Wiley College, and Xavier University).
Julius Erving ("Dr. J"), American pro basketball player for ABA
and NBA, in
Roosevelt, New York;
Awn Shawkat Al-Khasawneh,
Prime Minister of Jordan 2011-2012, in
Julie Walters, English stage actress, in
Miou-Miou (Sylvette Herry), French actress, in
February 23, 1950 (Thursday)
February 23, 1950: Asteroid 1950 DA discovered, 970 years
before its possible impact with Earth
- United Kingdom general election, 1950: The Labour Party, led by
Clement Attlee, lost heavily in the House of Commons, dropping
78 MPs from 393 seats to 315 of the 617 available, while Winston
Churchill's Conservative Party increased its share from 197 to 282.
Attlee was able to form a new government and continue as Prime
- Asteroid 1950 DA was first discovered by astronomers only five
million miles from Earth, then tracked for 17 days as the distance
increased. On December 31, 2000, the last day of the 20th Century,
it would be seen again and measured as 0.7 miles in diameter. The
trajectory of 1950 DA was calculated by NASA's Near Earth Object
Program from the two appearances, and the asteroid will make its
closest approach to Earth on March 16,
2880, with a chance of 1 in 300 of a collision, the highest
probability so far noted of any possible impact.
February 24, 1950 (Friday)
Regents of the University of California voted 12-6 to require
all employees of the university system to sign a
loyalty oath that included a statement specifically disavowing
Communism, and to dismiss, by June 30, any faculty member or
other employee who refused to agree.
The 31 professors who were dismissed would bring suit, and the oath
would be overturned by the California Supreme Court on October 17,
1952, in the case of Tolman v. Underhill.
- China's Communist government issued the "Circular on Strict
Prohibition of Opium and Drug Taking", outlawing the manufacture,
transportation, trafficking and use of
narcotics, as well as cigarettes. Users were required to
register with the local authorities and to give up their addictions
with a specified time, or face punishment. The punishment of drug
dealers was, at first, lenient.
- Construction began on the "Beijing
Qinghe State Farm", promoted as a "model
labor camp" that would house 5,000 inmates.
- Representatives of Israel and Jordan initialed a five-year peace
treaty that provided for joint control of
Jerusalem and commerce between the two nations, but the pact was
not approved by either side.
February 25, 1950 (Saturday)
- NBC premiered a 90-minute comedy variety show that was telecast
live every Saturday night, with a different guest host each week and
a regular cast of comedians. The program, originally called Saturday Night Revue was soon called
Your Show of Shows.
- The final issue of Great Britain's The Strand Magazine reached newsstands, after publishing
monthly since 1894. The Strand had introduced the
Sherlock Holmes stories of Sir
Arthur Conan Doyle, as well as the
H.G. Wells' novel The First Men in the Moon.
Neil Jordan, Irish film director, writer, and producer (The
Crying Game), in
Néstor Kirchner, 51st
President of Argentina 2003-2007, in
Río Gallegos (d. 2010)
George Minot, 64, American physician, 1934 Nobel Prize laureate;
Nikolai Luzin, 66, Soviet mathematician
February 26, 1950 (Sunday)
- Hungarian-American nuclear physicist
Leó Szilárd appeared with other atomic scientists on the NBC
Radio program University of Chicago Round Table, and first
cobalt bomb, whose radioactive
cobalt-60 fallout cloud could spread across the world and
destroy all life on Earth.
- Yunnan Province, the last
Nationalist Chinese stronghold in "Mainland
China", as Communist Chinese troops marched into the provincial
Helen Clark, 37th
Prime Minister of New Zealand (1999-2008), in
Harry Lauder, 79, Scottish entertainer
February 27, 1950 (Monday)
- An unidentified 8-year-old boy from the
Letchworth Village institution near
Otisville, New York, became the first test subject for the
prototype of the oral
polio vaccine, developed by Dr.
Hilary Koprowski. After the boy showed no signs of side effects,
Dr. Koprowski expanded the experiment to another 19 children.
February 28, 1950 (Tuesday)
- U.S. Undersecretary of State
John Peurifoy testified to a Senate subcommittee that most of
the 91 U.S. State Department employees who had been dismissed as
security risks, weren't barred because of Communist leanings, but
because they were homosexual. The result was a wave of
investigations and dismissals of gays and lesbians from federal
- Morris Fidanque de Castro was appointed as the first native-born
Governor of the United States Virgin Islands, after the assembly
of the U.S. territory passed a resolution asking U.S. President
Truman to select "one of their own" to fill a vacancy in the office.
Dai Wangshu, 44, Chinese poet