Astronaut John Glenn Dies at 95. His Flight as the First U.S. Astronaut to Orbit the Earth was a Huge TV Event

Dec 8, 2016  •  Post A Comment

“John Glenn, a freckle-faced son of Ohio who was hailed as a national hero and a symbol of the space age as the first American to orbit Earth, then became a national political figure for 24 years in the Senate, died on Thursday in Columbus, Ohio,” reports The New York Times, adding “He was 95.”

In a sign of how technology has changed since that day in 1962 when Glenn orbited the Earth, “His death was announced on Twitter by Gov. John Kasich of Ohio,” the Times says.

“In just five hours on Feb. 20, 1962, Mr. Glenn joined a select roster of Americans whose feats have seized the country’s imagination and come to embody a moment in its history, figures like Lewis and Clark, the Wright brothers and Charles Lindbergh,” the Times notes.

Glenn’s accomplishment was a huge TV event. Eighty-one percent of U.S. TV homes watched at least some part of the coverage of Glenn’s flight, and the average time spent viewing the event was five hours and 15 minutes, according to Steve Barkin’s book “American Television News.”

Here’s newsreel footage of Glenn’s remarkable feat. It lasts 6 minutes and would have been seen  in movie theaters of the day. (We found it on YouTube):

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