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Forgotten stories from the '60s

Updated 9:03 AM ET, Wed August 13, 2014
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The 1960s is known for the major moments that shaped history -- civil rights, Vietnam, the assassinations of Kennedy and King. But the decade was also full of smaller events that also indicated change was in the wind. Remember Liz 'n Dick? Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor's tempestuous marriage(s) gave us celebrity media coverage on steroids -- and we're still living with the aftermath (Think Kim and Kanye or Brad and Angie). Click through the gallery for lesser known '60s moments that still resonate today: Express/Express/Getty Images
The United Nations has often been criticized as ineffectual, but Dag Hammarskjold, its second secretary-general, was determined to change that. "(The major powers) thought they had got a safe, bureaucratic civil servant, nonpolitical, and they got Hammarskjold. It will never happen again," an aide once said. Hammarskjold died in a plane crash on September 18, 1961, while trying to settle conflict in the Congo. He was the first person posthumously awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. MPI/Getty Images
On August 1, 1966, Charles Whitman -- who had already killed his wife and mother -- went to the top of the University of Texas Tower and shot 46 people, killing 16. In the '60s, such a mass shooting was almost unthinkable. In recent years, we've experienced them more often. ap/file
On March 13, 1964, Catherine "Kitty" Genovese was stabbed by a 29-year-old stranger, Winston Moseley. Two weeks later, The New York Times ran a story that said 38 people had heard her cries, but nobody rushed to help, not wanting to "get involved," said one. Though the details turned out to be overstated or inaccurate, the depiction of uncaring city dwellers has haunted society ever since. New York Daily News/AP
At the time it occurred in early 1969, the Santa Barbara oil spill, caused by a blow-out at a platform off the California coast, was the worst in American history. (It has since been succeeded by the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill and the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster.) The scope of the spill, which polluted waters and killed sea life, was key to creating environmental protection laws and the Environmental Protection Agency. from National Archives
The death-row debate remains a prominent one in American culture. The man who helped put it there, Caryl Chessman, was a small-time hoodlum who was given the death penalty after being convicted of robbery, kidnapping and rape. In prison, Chessman wrote a memoir -- "Cell 2455, Death Row" -- and energized the anti-capital punishment movement. He was put to death on May 2, 1960. The debate continues. Joe Munroe/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
On March 27, 1964 -- Good Friday -- the area around Anchorage, Alaska, was shaken by a magnitude 9.2 earthquake, the most powerful earthquake in U.S. history. An estimated 139 people died, most due to tsunamis in Alaska and down North America's West Coast. It made the front page, but a similar event today, thanks to news-gathering technology, would likely be even more heavily covered. At least scientists learned a lot. Central Press/Getty Images
You don't hear much about "society" anymore, but it still mattered in the '60s when Truman Capote (center) mixed socialites and celebrities with his 1966 Black and White Ball. Held in honor of the Washington Post's Katharine Graham -- pictured on the far left -- it was more of an excuse for a Capote party. The 500 attendees included Frank Sinatra, CBS founder William Paley, Lauren Bacall -- pictured on the far right dancing with choreographer Jerome Robbins -- three presidential daughters and Capote's elevator man. It was both a throwback to the swell soirees of the past and a precursor to the media-mad, celebrity-studded bashes of today. Express Newspapers/Getty Images
For 114 days in the winter of 1962-63, a strike shut down New York's daily newspapers. Publishing resumed in March 1963, but things had changed: in short order, the city went from seven newspapers to three, and TV and radio news became more important. The strike symbolized how easily people's news media preferences can shift -- something quite familiar in the internet age. AFP/Getty Images
The death of Aldous Huxley, the famed author of "Brave New World," was little noted at the time -- not because he was a minor figure, but because he happened to die on November 22, 1963. Yes, the same day John F. Kennedy was shot. (C.S. Lewis also died that day.) It's an indicator that media coverage of one death can overwhelm all other news. Farrah Fawcett, who died the same day as Michael Jackson, could probably relate. Hulton Archive/Getty Images