1965. It’s the year I was born. A lot of cool stuff happened that year, besides my birth. I wish I could say I remember it firsthand, but since I was just a baby, that would really be stretching it. I’ve come to know more about the year of my birth as I’ve gotten older, and as I look back, I wish I could have been more a part of it.
Let’s start with the music. I put together a compilation disc of songs from 1965 to mark the occasion of my 40th birthday. I was surprised by how many great songs and artists I didn’t realize were big that year. Of course I knew about The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, both of whom were really hitting their stride. But how about Tom Jones? Herb Alpert? Junior Wells? Frank Sinatra? Bob Dylan? There were a lot of great tunes outside of the British Invasion during the year I was born.
As for movies, 1965 had its share of good ones. The Sound of Music. Doctor Zhivago. And Thunderball. Sean Connery as James Bond was the epitome of 1960s cool, in so many ways! The sharp clothes, fast cars, cool drinks, hot babes – he was a Mid-Century Modern dream, and should have been celebrated in a SHAG painting by now (are you listening, Josh Agle?). And in Thunderball, we had one of the more iconic Bond villains (Largo a/k/a Number 2) and one of the hotter Bond girls (Domino). The 4th James Bond film was the highest-grossing installment in the series (and still is, when adjusted for inflation).
Speaking of top sellers, the Ford Mustang made its debut in 1965. With almost 1.5 million cars produced in the first 2 years, the Ford Mustang ushered in the era of the Pony Car, the small, sporty cars that became all the rage in the late 1960s. Cars like the Camaro, Firebird, Cougar, and Challenger were all introduced to compete with the Mustang. The original is still the most iconic of the bunch, and is cherished to this day.
1965 saw some pretty auspicious television debuts: Green Acres, Get Smart, I Dream of Jeannie, and my personal favorite, Hogan’s Heroes. These are the shows that will live on forever for Gen X latchkey kids like me. But to get the true feeling of life in the 1960s, there’s nothing that beats today’s best show on television: Mad Men. The winner of multiple Emmys, Mad Men really captures the look and feel of the 1960s through dress, decor, music, and most importantly, the backdrop of actual historical events. Season 4, which spans 1965, is arguably the best season of the show so far. In that season’s most dramatic episode, The Suitcase, the characters’ stories are intertwined with one of the biggest sporting events of the year: the 2nd Cassius Clay vs. Sonny Liston fight in May 1965. It was riveting television! As was, apparently, the entire year of 1965. I wish I had been there. Oh yeah, I was. Kind of.