The hot line, also known as the red phone, directly connecting the White House and the Kremlin, was installed on this date in 1963, prompted by the Cuban Missile Crisis of October, 1962. (During the crisis, it had taken the U.S. nearly 12 hours to receive and decode the USSR’s first settlement offering.) The hot line was first used in during Israel’s 1967 Six-Day War, when the proximity of the Soviet Black Sea Fleet and the US Sixth Fleet in the Mediterranean necessitated mutual assurance that the superpowers were not intervening. It was also used during the 1973 Arab-Israeli War, when the U.S. actually went on nuclear alert. Stanley Kubrick featured the red phone prominently in his dark comedy of 1964, Dr. Strangelove: How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love the Bomb.
“President Muffley: Hello?… Uh… Hello Dmitri? Listen uh uh I can’t hear too well. Do you suppose you could turn the music down just a little?… Oh-ho, that’s much better… yeah… huh… yes… Fine, I can hear you now, Dmitri… Clear and plain and coming through fine… I’m coming through fine, too, eh?… Good, then… well, then, as you say, we’re both coming through fine… Good… Well, it’s good that you’re fine and… and I’m fine… I agree with you, it’s great to be fine… a-ha-ha-ha-ha… Now then, Dmitri, you know how we’ve always talked about the possibility of something going wrong with the Bomb… The Bomb, Dmitri… The hydrogen bomb!…” –Peter Sellers in Dr. Strangelove