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John’s Believe It Or Not… June 5th

In 1956 Elvis rocks The Milton Berle Show. In 1968 Bobby Kennedy is assassinated. In 1967 Six-Day War begins. In 2012 Ray Bradbury science fiction author dies at 91. In 1947 George Marshall calls for aid to Europe.

John Fioravanti Stands at the front of his classroom in 2006

Oh-Oh, It’s Monday! Did you know…

* 1956 Elvis rocks The Milton Berle Show. (By the end of 1955, Elvis Presley had nearly 18 months of nonstop touring behind him and two dozen singles already under his belt, though his only hits were on the Country and Western charts. He was a hardworking and hard-to-categorize up-and-comer, but the next six months would make him a superstar. It was his debut single on RCA/Victor, his new label, which propelled Elvis to the top of the pop charts. But if “Heartbreak Hotel” is what made him the king of the radio and record stores during the spring of 1956, it was television that truly made him the King of Rock and Roll. And if any one moment might be called his coronation, it was his appearance on The Milton Berle Show on this day in 1956, when he set his guitar aside and put every part of his being into a blistering, scandalous performance of “Hound Dog.” This was not Presley’s first television appearance, nor even his first appearance on Milton Berle. Between January and March 1956, Elvis made six appearances on Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey’s Stage Show, and on April 3, he appeared for the first time with Uncle Miltie. But every one of those appearances featured Elvis either in close-up singing a slow ballad or full body but with his movements somewhat restricted by the acoustic guitar, he was playing. It was on his second Milton Berle Show appearance that he put the guitar aside and America witnessed, for the very first time, the 21-year-old Elvis Presley from head to toe, gyrating his soon-to-be-famous (or infamous) pelvis. Reaction to Elvis’ performance in the mainstream media was almost uniformly negative. “Mr. Presley has no discernible singing ability….For the ear, he is an unutterable bore,” wrote critic Jack Gould in the next day’s New York Times. “His one specialty is an accented movement of the body that heretofore has been primarily identified with the repertoire of the blonde bombshells of the burlesque runway. The gyration never had anything to do with the world of popular music and still doesn’t.” In the New York Daily News, Ben Gross described Presley’s performance as “tinged with the kind of animalism that should be confined to dives and bordellos,” while the New York Journal-American‘s Jack O’Brien said that Elvis “makes up for vocal shortcomings with the weirdest and plainly suggestive animation short of an aborigine’s mating dance.” Meanwhile, the Catholic weekly America got right to the point in its headline: “Beware of Elvis Presley.”)

June 5, 1956: Elvis Presley Introduces “Hound Dog” On TV (The Milton Berle Show)
June 5, 1956: Elvis Presley Introduces “Hound Dog” On TV (The Milton Berle Show) (For Elvis CD Collectors)

* 1968 Bobby Kennedy is assassinated. (Senator Robert Kennedy is shot at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles after winning the California presidential primary. Immediately after he announced to his cheering supporters that the country was ready to end its fractious divisions, Kennedy was shot several times by the 22-year-old Palestinian Sirhan Sirhan. He died a day later. The summer of 1968 was a tempestuous time in American history. Both the Vietnam War and the anti-war movement were peaking. Martin Luther King Jr. had been assassinated in the spring, igniting riots across the country. In the face of this unrest, President Lyndon B. Johnson decided not to seek a second term in the upcoming presidential election. Robert Kennedy, John’s younger brother, and former U.S. Attorney General stepped into this breach and experienced a groundswell of support. Kennedy was perceived by many to be the only person in American politics capable of uniting the people. He was beloved by the minority community for his integrity and devotion to the civil rights cause. After winning California’s primary, Kennedy was in the position to receive the Democratic nomination and face off against Richard Nixon in the general election. As star athletes Rafer Johnson and Roosevelt Grier accompanied Kennedy out a rear exit of the Ambassador Hotel, Sirhan Sirhan stepped forward with a rolled up campaign poster, hiding his .22 revolver. He was only a foot away when he fired several shots at Kennedy. Grier and Johnson wrestled Sirhan to the ground, but not before five bystanders were wounded. Grier was distraught afterward and blamed himself for allowing Kennedy to be shot. Sirhan, who was born in Palestine, confessed to the crime at his trial and received a death sentence on March 3, 1969. However, since the California State Supreme Court invalidated all death penalty sentences in 1972, Sirhan has spent the rest of his life in prison. According to the New York Times, he has since said that he believed Kennedy was “instrumental” in the oppression of Palestinians. Hubert Humphrey ended up running for the Democrats in 1968 but lost by a small margin to Nixon.)

Picture after Bobby Kennedy is shot.
(History on the Net)

* 1967 Six-Day War begins. (Israel responds to an ominous build-up of Arab forces along its borders by launching simultaneous attacks against Egypt and Syria. Jordan subsequently entered the fray, but the Arab coalition was no match for Israel’s proficient armed forces. In six days of fighting, Israel occupied the Gaza Strip and the Sinai Peninsula of Egypt, the Golan Heights of Syria, and the West Bank and Arab sector of East Jerusalem, both previously under Jordanian rule. By the time the United Nations cease-fire took effect on June 11, Israel had more than doubled its size. The true fruits of victory came in claiming the Old City of Jerusalem from Jordan. Many wept while bent in prayer at the Western Wall of the Second Temple. The U.N. Security Council called for a withdrawal from all the occupied regions, but Israel declined, permanently annexing East Jerusalem and setting up military administrations in the occupied territories. Israel let it be known that Gaza, the West Bank, the Golan Heights, and the Sinai would be returned in exchange for Arab recognition of the right of Israel to exist and guarantees against future attack. Arab leaders, stinging from their defeat, met in August to discuss the future of the Middle East. They decided upon a policy of no peace, no negotiations, and no recognition of Israel, and made plans to defend zealously the rights of Palestinian Arabs in the occupied territories. Egypt, however, would eventually negotiate and make peace with Israel, and in 1982 the Sinai Peninsula was returned to Egypt in exchange for full diplomatic recognition of Israel. Egypt and Jordan later gave up their respective claims to the Gaza Strip and the West Bank to the Palestinians, who opened “land for peace” talks with Israel beginning in the 1990s. A permanent Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement remains elusive, as does an agreement with Syria to return the Golan Heights.)

Map Of Israel and surrounding Arab countries.
Map Of Israel and surrounding Arab countries. (Wikipedia)

2012 Ray Bradbury science fiction author dies at 91. (On this day in 2012, one of the preeminent science fiction authors of the 20th century, Ray Bradbury, whose books include “The Martian Chronicles,” “Fahrenheit 451” and “Something Wicked This Way Comes,” dies at age 91 in Los Angeles. During his 70-year career, Bradbury, who also wrote works of horror, fantasy, and mystery, published nearly 50 books and hundreds of short stories. He is credited with helping to move science fiction out of the realm of pulp-fiction magazines and into the mainstream, and his work, which is taught in schools, has been translated into more than 35 languages and adapted for film and television. In addition to his short stories and novels, Bradbury wrote poetry, plays, television scripts and screenplays, including the one for the 1956 movie “Moby Dick,” directed by John Huston. Additionally, he hosted “Ray Bradbury Theater,” a television series based on his short stories that aired in the 1980s, and was involved in projects such as planning the Spaceship Earth attraction for Disney’s Epcot Center. Despite the fact that he often dealt with the futuristic in his writing, Bradbury never learned to drive, didn’t take his first plane trip until the 1980s and disliked computers and the Internet.)

Picture of Ray Bradbury
(Tammy Bruce)

* 1947 George Marshall calls for aid to Europe. (In one of the most significant speeches of the Cold War, Secretary of State George C. Marshall calls on the United States to assist in the economic recovery of postwar Europe. His speech provided the impetus for the so-called Marshall Plan, under which the United States sent billions of dollars to Western Europe to rebuild the war-torn countries. In 1946 and into 1947, economic disaster loomed for Western Europe. World War II had done immense damage, and the crippled economies of Great Britain and France could not reinvigorate the region’s economic activity. Germany, once the industrial dynamo of Western Europe, lay in ruins. Unemployment, homelessness, and even starvation were commonplace. For the United States, the situation was of special concern on two counts. First, the economic chaos of Western Europe was providing a prime breeding ground for the growth of communism. Second, the U.S. economy, which was quickly returning to a civilian state after several years of war, needed the markets of Western Europe in order to sustain itself. On June 5, 1947, Secretary of State George C. Marshall, speaking at Harvard University, outlined the dire situation in Western Europe and pleaded for U.S. assistance to the nations of that region. “The truth of the matter,” the secretary claimed, “is that Europe’s requirements for the next three or four years of foreign food and other essential products–principally from America–are so much greater than her present ability to pay that she must have substantial additional help or face economic, social, and political deterioration of a very grave character.” Marshall declared, “Our policy is directed not against any country or doctrine but against hunger, poverty, desperation, and chaos.” In a thinly veiled reference to the communist threat, he promised “governments, political parties, or groups which seek to perpetuate human misery in order to profit therefrom politically or otherwise will encounter the opposition of the United States.” In March 1948, the United States Congress passed the Economic Cooperation Act (more popularly known as the Marshall Plan), which set aside $4 billion in aid for Western Europe. By the time the program ended nearly four years later, the United States had provided over $12 billion for European economic recovery. British Foreign Secretary Ernest Bevin likened the Marshall Plan to a “lifeline to sinking men.”)

TIME Cover: George C. Marshall, Man of the Year
TIME Cover: George C. Marshall, Man of the Year (Pinterest)

Acknowledged Sources:


* This Day In History – What Happened Today

Author: John Fioravanti

I'm a retired History teacher (35 years), husband, father of three, grandfather of three. My wife, Anne, and I became business partners in December 2013 and launched our own publishing company, Fiora Books (, to publish my books. We have been married since 1973 and hope our joint business venture will be as successful as our marriage.

14 thoughts on “John’s Believe It Or Not… June 5th”

  1. You’re welcome, Nicholas. The history teacher in me wants to go on and on, but I try to take it easy on my readers!


  2. The sixties were so pivotal. A time of shattered illusions, and for many ending the dream that the Age of Reason had finally dawned. Thanks for posting this, John. ☮

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It was all of that, Soooz, with the Cold War terror thrown into the mix. Thinking back, there was such upheaval – Vietnam, race riots in the US, the sexual revolution… the list goes on. Historians in the future will have a field day interpreting the events of that decade. We’re still too close to it to have much perspective. Thanks for your insights, Soooz!


  3. This is packed with so many items that have touched me. Reading Ray Bradbury as a teenager definitely inspired me. I rank him as one of my favorite writers of all time. No one did magical realism better.

    Thank you for putting the six day war into a comprehensive nutshell. I can’t imagine what the Israelites must have felt standing before the Western Wall.

    And despite being too young to remember RFK (I have a vague, blurry memory of hearing a news report about the shooting), he has earned a place in my heart. A truly inspirational man. I’ve read so many books about him, watched countless documentaries, and am always left wondering how history might have changed if he’d become president of the U.S. Definitely a hero to me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, Ray Bradbury was a giant. I used one of his quotes in “Reflections”. I was 17 when Bobby was gunned down – so heartbreaking. I remember praying for the Israeli’s when that war started – they were outnumbered and surrounded by hostile countries. Turns out that the other side needed the prayers! The 1960s was one of the most memorable decades of the century. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Mae!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Gosh…I so remember when Kennedy was murdered. The bullets hit the hearts of many and shattered dreams, that would take decades to recover. Another insightful history lesson, professor Fioravanti! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks a bunch, Gwen. I don’t think any of us who lived through the assassinations of JFK, MLK, and RFK will ever forget the horror and the lost feelings. Thanks for your insights, Gwen!😉

      Liked by 1 person

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