Mad Men runs on ambiguity. Whether its fourth season would skip over time, like season two, or flow right into the next year, like season three, had been one of creator Matt Weiner's many secrets. But the New York Times confirmed the new season would open in 1964 after season three ended in 1963's twilight.
The show always integrates real-world events (Cuban Missile Crisis, Kennedy's assassination) and phenomenas of the time (books, popular restaurants, and plays like Bye, Bye Birdie), so I'm sure there's plenty more historical detail to come. From politics to pop culture, 1964 was a turning point in American life. Find out what to watch for in season four.
- Civil Rights Act of 1964: Passed in February, the landmark act abolished racial segregation in schools, workplaces, and public spaces and gave everyone the right to vote.
- The British Invasion: The Beatles' first album, Introducing . . . the Beatles, dropped on Jan. 20, 1964, in the United States. By Feb. 1, "I Want to Hold Your Hand" was the number-one single on US charts. The Rolling Stones followed with its first album in April and The Kinks in October.
- Smoking officially (may be) bad for health: The surgeon general said smoking may be hazardous to health — the first such warning from the US government.
- Film and TV: My Fair Lady was remade from a Broadway play to a film and became an instant classic. Mary Poppins, James Bond's Goldfinger, and From Russia With Love were big-screen favorites while The Mary Tyler Moore Show and Dick Van Dyke dominated the small screen. Bewitched premiered that Fall to an adoring audience, showing nonhumans could work their magic in any decade.
Read the next four below.
- Vietnam War demonstrations: Nearly 1,000 students marched through Times Square in the first major protest against the Vietnam War on May 2. Similar protests were held the same day in San Francisco, Boston, Seattle, and Madison, WI.
- NY Times v. Sullivan: The Supreme Court ruled speech that criticized public figures could not be censored under the First Amendment.
- The first woman on a major party's presidential ballot: Though 1872 owns the first-woman-to-run-for-president distinction, a woman did not make it onto the ballot until 1964. Margaret Chase Smith ran for the Republican nomination but lost to Barry Goldwater. Democrat Lyndon Johnson beat Goldwater in November with 60 percent of the popular vote.
- New York hosts World Fair: To celebrate the 300th anniversary of Britain's Duke of York overtaking New Amsterdam, giving New York its name, the city hosted the famous fair. It was such a success that it opened again in 1965, but it was not officially sanctioned.
Photo courtesy of AMC