BROWSE DECADES
   
 

1950's

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Events of the Decade:

Korean War
Independence for Libya, Morocco, Tunisia, Ghana, Jamaica, Northern Nigeria, Sudan
Puerto Rico first independent U.S. Commonwealth
French defeated in Vietnam after seven years war
Mau Mau uprisings in Kenya
Middle East crisis
Hungarian uprising; Russians invade
Israeli forces invade Sinai Peninsula
Egypt now a Republic
Civil War in Cuba
Populations of Cities (1950) in millions:
London, 8.3
New York, 7.8
Tokyo, 5.3
Moscow, 4.1
Chicago, 3.6
Shanghai, 3.6
Calcutta, 3.5
Berlin, 3.3
Population of Countries (1951) in millions:
China, 490
India, 357
U.S.S.R., 190
U.S. 153
Japan, 85
Pakistan, 76
Britain, 50
West Germany, 48
Italy, 47
France, 42
South Africa, 2.4 Europeans
9.3 non-Europeans
World population 2.3 billion

Who's 'In':

President Harry S. Truman
President Dwight D. Eisenhower
Queen Elizabeth II
Marilyn Monroe and her husbands Joe Dimaggio and Arthur Miller
British PM's: Winston Churchill, Anthony Eden, Harold MacMillan
Fidel Castro
Brigitte Bardot
Explorer Thor Heyerdahl
The racehorse Citation
Christine (George) Jorgensen
Sir Edmund Hillary
Oveta Culp Hobby
Claire Booth Luce
Charles de Gaulle, President of 5th French Republic
Jockey Eddie Arcaro
First seven astronauts inc. John Glenn, Alan B. Shepard, Cooper, Grissom, Slayton, Carpenter and Schirra
Maureen "Little Mo" Connolly
Marian Anderson
Althea Gibson
Chou En-lai
Boxers Floyd Patterson, Archie Moore, Jersey Joe Walcott, Rocky Marciano, Ezzard Charles, Ingemar Johansson
Rosa Parks
Ralph Bunche
Mort Sahl
British P.M. Harold MacMillan
Explorer Thor Heyerdahl
Averell Harriman
President Juan Perón of Argentina
Yugoslavia's Marshal Tito
Grace Kelly and her Prince, Rainier
Georgi Malenkov
Nikita Khrushchev
Architects Corbusier, van der Rohe, Philip Johnson and Saarinen
Dr. Jonas Salk
Prince Charles, Prince of Wales
Dag Hammarskjöld
Edmund Hillary
Under 4 minute miler Roger Bannister
Gamel Abdul Nasser
Pierre Mendès-France
King Faisal II of Iraq and King Hussein of Jordan

Who Died:

4,000 in Great London smog
Typhoon Vera hits Japan near Honshu; 4,466 die
Extinction of Euler's Flycatcher
Eunuchs
3,000 in volcano eruption in New Guinea
172 Israelis, 3,000 Egyptians in Suez War of 1956
2,500 in 7.4 earthquake in Iran
530 Texans and Louisianians by Hurricane Audrey
The electric trolley car and the elevated trains in New York
King George VI
Queen Mary, 85
Alexander Fleming, 73
Jacob Epstein, 78
Arturo Toscanini, 89
Ralph Vaughan Williams, 85
Pope Pius XII, 82
Joseph McCarthy, 47
Aga Khan, 79
Jean Sibelius, 91
Dorothy L. Sayers, 64
Albert Einstein, 76
Thomas Mann, 80
Hilaire Belloc, 82
Josef Stalin, 73
George Orwell, 47
Harry Lauder, 79
Henri Matisse, 84
Jan Christian Smuts, 80
George Bernard Shaw, 94
King Abdullah of Jordan
André Gide, 81
Arnold Schöenberg, 76
Chaim Weizmann, 77
Eva Perón, 30
Hank Williams
Edward Weston
Sinclair Lewis
Laura Ingalls Wilder
Humphrey Bogart, 58
Ferdinand Porsche
Cecil B. deMille, 78
Alexander Korda
H.L. Mencken
A.A. Milne
Buddy Holly
Connie Mack
Maxwell Anderson
Sergei Prokofiev
Edgar Lee Masters
Charlie Parker
Fred Allen, 62
Edgar Rice Burroughs
Mike Todd, 51
Max Ophuls
Jim Thorpe, 65
Ferenc Molnar
Kurt Weill
Theda Bara
Nijinsky
Frank Lloyd Wright
Eric von Stroheim
James Agee
Sir Max Beerbohm
John Foster Dulles
Robert Capa
Fanny Brice
Bill Tilden, 60
Ugo Betti
Jimmy Dorsey
Imre Nagy
Ethel Barrymore
Julius & Ethel Rosenberg
Sholem Asch
Aga Khan
King Faisal Iraq
Hilaire Belloc
Billie Holiday
Robert A. Taft
Preston Sturges
Oliver Hardy
Jackson Pollock, 44
William Randolph Hearst, 88
Bertolt Brecht
Bela Lugosi
Admiral Bull Halsey
Fernand Leger
Alfred Kinsey
Ralph Vaughan Williams
Gertrude Lawrence
Mary Roberts Rinehart
George Santayana
Babe Zaharias
James Dean
Clarence Birdseye
Mario Lanza
Errol Flynn
Edna St. Vincent Millay
Al Jolson
Prince Carl Sweden
Christian Dior, 52
King Gustav V Sweden
Louis B. Mayer
Grover Cleveland Alexander
Cy Young
Art Tatum
Maurice Utrillo, 72
Sigmund Romberg
Ibn Saud Saudi Arabia
Dylan Thomas
Robert E. Sherwood
Lionel Barrymore
Heitor Villa-Lobos
Mel Ott
Max Baer
Diego Rivera, 71
Tommy Dorsey
Eugene O"Neill
Enrico Fermi

Bad Guys:

Alger Hiss (?)
Richard Nixon
British spies Guy Burgess and Donald Maclean, Klaus Fuchs
American spies Ethel and Julius Rosenberg
Senator Joseph McCarthy and his Hollywood Communist witch-hunts
Eleven Brinks robbers get $2.7 million and, later, jail
Willie Sutton
Mass-murderer Charles Starkweather
Albert Anastasia
Laventry Beria
English killer John Christie
Murderer Henry Washburn

What's 'In':

Panty raids on college campuses and students stuffing themselves into phone booths and cars
Kodak's Wet Copier
New cars: Corvair, Corvette, Edsel, Ford Falcon, Thunderbird, Lincoln Continental
The Kon-Tiki Expedition
World's first shopping mall in U.S. - Seattle's Northgate Mall
First transistor radios from Sony - the TR55
Pizza
Pets- Boston Terriers
Magic marker felt-tip pens
Velcro fasteners
Transistor radios
Barbie dolls
Hula hoops
New dance: "The Twist"
Crazy beach hats, propeller beanies, Davy Crockett caps
Naming hurricanes after women
Stereo records
Eero Saarinen's building designs in U.S.
Obscenity arguments over D.H. Lawrence's "Lady Chatterley's Lover" and Nabokov's "Lolita"
Water-skiing
Parking meters in London
Beatniks
Talk about "flying saucers" and "brain washing"
Sputnik satellites in orbit
The Frisbee
US submarine Nautilus, first Atom powered ship
Smith-Corona electric portable typewriter
RCA's new color television sets
Ampex's new video tape recorder
McDonald's Hamburgers, TV dinners, Kentucky Fried Chicken, and Pizza Hut
St. Lawrence Seaway
Egypt becomes a republic
Disneyland - the Magic Kingdom
The Boeing 707
The Hovercraft
NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration)
"In God We Trust" motto of the United States
Silicon computer chip
Teflon
First direct hit on moon (Luna II) and first soft moon landing
Atomic Energy Commission approved by United Nations.
NOW, the National Organization of Women
Synthetic diamonds
Civil rights movement; Supreme Court orders desegregation of schools
First color photograph of the earth from outer space

Entertainment:

Brussels World Exhibition

Plays:
In London: Agatha Christie's play "The Mousetrap" (still running in 1990)
Brendan Behan's "The Hostage," "The Quare Fellow"
Shelagh Delaney "A Taste of Honey"
Jean Genet's "The Balcony"
Eugène Ionesco's "The Bald Soprano," "The Lesson," "Amédé," "Rhinoceros"
Thornton Wilder's "The Matchmaker"
Arnold Wesker "Roots"
Arthur Miller's "The Crucible," "A View from the Bridge"
Friedrich Dürrenmatt's "The Visit"
Harold Pinter's "The Birthday Party,"
John Osborne's "Look Back in Anger," "The Entertainer,"
Samuel Beckett's "Waiting for Godot," "Endgame," "Krapp's Last Tape"
Enid Bagnold "The Chalk Garden"
Tennessee Williams" "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof," "Sweet Bird of Youth"
Eugene O"Neill's "Long Days Journey Into Night," "A Touch of the Poet,"
Paddy Chayevsky's "The Tenth Man"
William Inge's "Come Back Little Sheba," "Picnic"
also: "Witness for the Prosecution," "I am a Camera," "Look Homeward Angel," "Bell Book and Candle," "Dial M For Murder," "Teahouse of the August Moon," "No Time for Sergeants," "The Caine Mutiny Court Martial," "Inherit the Wind," "A Raisin in the Sun," "The Moon is Blue," "Two for the Seesaw," and "A Member of the Wedding"

Musicals:
"Call Me Madam" by Irving Berlin
"Gypsy" by Jule Styne, Stephen Sondheim, Arthur Lorenz
"Bells are Ringing" by Jules Styne starring Judy Holliday
"Guys and Dolls" "The Most Happy Fella," Frank Loesser
Rodgers and Hammerstein's "The King and I, "Me and Juliet," "Pipe Dream"
Lerner and Loewe "Paint Your Wagon" "My Fair Lady"
Meredith Willson's "The Music Man"
"New Faces of 1952"
Cole Porter's "Can-Can" "Silk Stockings"
"Kismet"
Harnick and Bock's "Fiorello"
"The Boy Friend" by Sandy Wilson
Leonard Bernstein's "Wonderful Town" "Candide" "West Side Story"
"Fanny" by Harold Rome
Richard Adler's "The Pajama Game," "Damn Yankees"

Academy Award Winning Films:
"All About Eve"
"An American in Paris"
"The Greatest Show on Earth"
"From Here to Eternity"
"On the Waterfront"
"Marty"
"Around the World in 80 Days"
"The Bridge on the River Kwai"
"Gigi"
"Ben-Hur"

Others:
Cinerama wide screen; first film "The Robe"
First 3-D film "Bwana Devil"
Disney's "Cinderella," "Peter Pan,"
Chaplin's "Limelight," "A King in New York,"
Akira Kurosawa's "Rashomon"
Alfred Hitchcock's "Strangers on a Train," "Rear Window," "Vertigo,"
John Huston's "The African Queen"
David Lean's "The Bridge on the River Kwai"
Elia Kazan's "On the Waterfront"
Billy Wilder's "Sunset Boulevard"
Federico Fellini's "La Strata"
Jacques Tati's "Mon Oncle"
Fred Zinnemann's "From Here to Eternity"
Ingmar Bergman's "Smiles of a Summer Night," "The Seventh Seal," "Wild Strawberries,"
Also: "Moulin Rouge" "Rebel Without a Cause," "Roman Holiday" and "Gigi" with Audrey Hepburn, "The Seven Samurai," "Anatomy of a Murder," "Hiroshima, mon Amour," "Look Back in Anger," "Cyrano de Bergerac," "A Streetcar Named Desire" with Marlon Brando, "the Seven-Year Itch" with Marilyn Monroej, "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" with Elizabeth Taylor
Television:
Comedies: "I Love Lucy," "George Burns and Gracie Allen," "The Jack Benny Show," "The Red Skelton Show," "The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet," "The Danny Thomas Show," "The George Gobel Show," "Father Knows Best," "The Honeymooners," "Leave it to Beaver"
"Tonight Show" starring Steve Allen, Jack Parr and "The Today Show" with Dave Garroway
Miss America pageant,
Variety: Dick Clark's "American Bandstand," "Your Hit Parade," "The Arthur Murray Party," "This is Your Life" "The Lawrence Welk Show," "
Quiz: "You Bet Your Life" starring Groucho Marks, "What's My Line," "Beat the Clock" "I"ve got a Secret," "Name That Tune," "To Tell the Truth," "The Price is Right"
Drama series" "Davy Crockett" "Dragnet," "General Electric Theatre," "Alfred Hitchcock Presents," "Lassie," "Gunsmoke," "Have Gun Will Travel," "Perry Mason," "The Twilight Zone," "Bonanza"

Music:

Stereo Recordings
First Grammy Awards
The birth of Rock "n Roll:
Little Richard's "Tutti Frutti," Bill Haley's "Rock Around the Clock," Elvis Presley gets 82.6 share of TV audience on the Ed Sullivan Show
Frank Sinatra's "Come Dance With Me"
Also: The Chordettes, Ricky Nelson, Chuck Berry, Cliff Richard in the UK, The McGuire Sisters, Mitch Miller, Tennessee Ernie Ford, Gogi Grant, Tab Hunter, Pat Boone, Everly Brothers, Danny and the Juniors, The Silhouettes, The Coasters, Domenico Modugno, The Kingston Trio, The Platters, Frankie Avalon, Paul Anka, Bobby Darin, The Fleetwoods
Paul Hindemith's Symphony "Harmony of the World"
Carlo Menotti's operas "The Consul" and "The Saint of Bleecker Street"
William Walton's violin sonata
and cello concerto
Benjamin Britten's operas "Billy Budd," "The Turn of the Screw," and ballet "Prince of the Pagodas"
Ralph Vaughan Williams" opera "A Pilgrim's Progress," Romance for harmonica (for Larry Adler), and 7th Symphony, Symphony no. 9 in E. minor
Van Cliburn wins Tchaikovsky piano competition
Prokofiev's 7th Symphony ("Symphony of Youth")
Shostakovich's 10th Symphony
Igor Stravinsky's ballet "Agon"

Literature:

The Diary of Anne Frank
"Lolita" by Vladimir Nabokov
James Agee's "The Morning Watch," "A Death in the Family"
Mary McCarthy "Memories of a Catholic Girlhood"
Bernard Malamud "The Natural"
Betty Crocker's Cookbook
Philip Roth "Goodbye, Columbus"
J.P. Donleavy's "The Ginger Man"
James Baldwin's "Go Tell It on the Mountain," "Notes of a Native Son"
"Breakfast at Tiffany"s" by Truman Capote
Saul Bellow's "The Adventures of Augie March"
John Hersey's "The Wall"
Ernest Hemingway "Across the River and Into the Trees," "the Old Man and the Sea"
John Braine "Room at the Top"
Graham Greene's "The Third Man," "Our Man in Havana"
"Charlotte's Web" by E.B. White
James Michener's "Hawaii"
"The Once and Future King" by T.H. White
J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Fellowship of the Ring"
"Lady Chatterley's Lover" not obscene- is best seller in 1959
Nikos Kazantzakis "The Last Temptation of Christ"
Winston Churchill's "A History of the English- Speaking Peoples"
Boris Pasternak "Doctor Zhivago"
Jack Kerouac "On the Road"
Iris Murdoch "The Sandcastle," "Under the Net"
Kingsley Amis "That Uncertain Feeling"
Lawrence Durrell "Justine,"
Nicholas Montsarrat's "The Cruel Sea"
J.D. Salinger "The Catcher in the Rye"
William Golding "Lord of the Flies," "The Inheritors"
Norman Mailer's "Advertisements for Myself"
James Thurber's "The Years with Ross"
Françoise Sagan's "Bonjour Tristesse"
J.R.R. Tolkien "The Lord of the Rings"
Herman Wouk "The Caine Mutiny," "Marjorie Morningstar"
Ray Bradbury "The Illustrated Man"
Ian Fleming's James Bond series inc. "Casino Royale,"
Ayn Rand's "Atlas Shrugged"
"Peyton Place" by Grace Metalious
"Eloise" by Kay Thompson
"Compulsion" by Meyer Levin
"The Last Hurrah" by Edwin O"Connor
"From Here to Eternity," by James Jones
Guinness Book of World Records
"The Silver Chalice by Thomas Costain
Leon Uris's "Battle Cry," "Exodus"
"The Egyptian" by Mika Waltari
"Auntie Mame" by Patrick Dennis
"Andersonville" by MacKinlay Kantor
John Steinbeck's "East of Eden"
Dylan Thomas "In Country Sleep"
Henri Cartier-Bresson's "The Europeans"

Art:

Kitchen Sink School of painting in England - John Bratby
Braque's "Studio VIII"
Marc Chagall's "King David," "The Roofs," and "The Circus"
Picasso's sculpture "The Goat" and paintings "Sylvette,"
Graham Sutherland's portrait of Winston Churchill, "Princess Gourielli,"
Giacometti's sculptures "Seven Figures and a Head," "The Street"
Willem de Kooning's "Woman and Bicycle," "Excavation," "Door to the River," "The Visit," "Interchange" and his controversial three hole toilet seat (art or joke?)
Bernard Buffet's "Horreur de la Guerre," "Circus"
Robert Motherwell's "Five in the Afternoon," "Africa,"
Mark Rothko "Light, Earth, and Blue
Joan Miró's murals for UNESCO Bldg., Paris
Frank Lloyd Wright's Guggenheim Art Museum, NY
Stuart Davis" "Visa," "Owh! in San Pao"
Léger's series of Flower ceramics
Salvadore Dali's "Christ of St. John on the Cross," "The Lord's Supper, " "Last Supper"
Jackson Pollock's "Convergence," "Portrait and a Dream," "Sleeping Effort"
Jacob Epstein sculptures "Madonna and Child," "Christ in Majesty,"
Henry Moore sculptures "Time-Life Screen," "King and Queen"
Calder's stabiles "Monumental Mobile" and "The Dog"
John Bratby's "A Painter's Credo," "Coachhouse Door"
Andrew Wyeth "River Cove"
Jasper Johns" "Jubilee"
Rene Magritte's "Invisible World," "The Glass Key," "Dominion of Light," "Listening Room," "Memory of a Journey," "Galconda"
Robert Rauschenberg's "Yoicks," "Erased de Kooning Drawing," "Automobile Tire Print"
Franz Kline's "Elizabeth"

Fashion & Beauty:

Man-made fibers
Men:
Hart, Shaffner & Marx's new Dacron suit
Military styles
Button-down Ivy League look
"Beat" styles: oversize dark sweaters and jeans, loose long hair, long boots or stiletto heels
Flat-top and duck-tail hair styles
Blazers
Italian-style worsted suits
Deep side vents
Pork pie hats
Felt hats with wide ribbon
Dirty-white buck shoes
Bermuda shorts
Women
14 inch hemlines dropping to 11, then up to 16
Hats galore
Long kid gloves
Long pony-tails, bouffant and beehive hairdos
Suits and dresses for daywear
Flats and pumps
A-line suits
Bras with laced cups
Tweed and mohair coats
Figure-hugging dresses for evening
Christian Dior
Yves Saint-Laurent's designs for the house of Dior
Coco Chanel's security suit with gold buttons and braid trim
Saddle shoes
Crinolines and chemise
Norman Norell's harem pants and low-cut evening gowns
Balenciaga's Sack Dress
Only 7% of American women die their hair; 20 years later 70% will do so

Media:

Village Voice newspaper
"Peanuts" with Charlie Brown first appears illustrated by Charles Schulz
Mad Magazine
TV Guide
First televised Coronation
Playboy Magazine founded by Hugh Hefner
Color Television
The Huntley-Brinkley Report on NBC
Better Homes and Gardens is hot with best-selling magazine-books
59 million copies sold daily of 1,768 U.S. newspapers (1954)
29 million US homes have television

Money:

U.S. minimum wage $1.00 per hour
Lincoln Continental: $10,000
Austin Mini in England: £500
Franklin National Bank in New York issues the first credit card
European Common Market established
European Free Trade Association founded
Bank rates in Britain escalate from 3-5-7% interest
Recession in the U.S. 1958
Ford Foundation gives $1/2 billion to colleges and medical institutions
Cigarettes 25¢ a pack
Hospital stay $35.00 per day
Luxury hotel $15 a night
A week's groceries - $20.00
Gasoline 29¢ a gallon

UK Prices:
1 kg potatoes - 1p
1 kg granulated sugar - 5p
1/2 dozen eggs - 11p
250g butter - 6p
250g cheddar cheese - 3p
125g loose tea - 5p
500g streaky bacon - 11p

Religion:

Billy Graham's evangelistic meetings a big success in New York and London
United Presbyterian Church in U.S. formed; general assembly approves ordination of women
United Church of Christ formed in U.S. merging Congregationalists and Evangelicals
Pope John XXIII (first TV coronation of Pope)

Science:

Discovery of element 98 (Californium)
Electric power first produced from atomic energy
Doctors using ultrasound to examine fetus
Integrated circuit invented by Jack Kilbey at Texas Instrument
1st prefrontal lobotomy
Implantation of an artificial heart valve in a human and first kidney transplant
H-bomb built by Edward Teller; tested at Eniwetok Atoll and Bikini
Radioactive carbon testing to date archaeological finds
Bell Laboratories new solar battery
Louis Leakey discovers 600,000 year old "Nutcracker Man"
Research into smoking as a cause of lung cancer
Salk's vaccine against polio and Sabin's oral vaccine
Interferon discovered
Heart-lung machines in use
Solar wind discovered
Amniocentesis in use to diagnose fetuses
First sex-change operation
Birth-control pill tests
Radiation (Cobalt 60) used for treatment of cancer

New Slang Words:

Go, man, go
All shook up
The point of no return
Slip me some skin
All that jazz
Big brother is watching you
Black is beautiful
Cry all the way to the bank
Do your own thing
Don't make a federal case out of it
The panic button
Don't rock the boat
Something is a drag
Get with it
Someone doesn't miss a beat
Hit the road, Jack
How's your love life?
I kid you not
I"ll drink to that
Something really turns me on
The greatest thing since sliced bread
I"ve got news for you
Just for the record
Let's face it
We"ve never had it so good
No comment
Right on
So sue me
Shall I spell it out for you?
Take me to your leader
That is where it's at
We"ll live with it
It seemed like a good idea at the time
What's shaking?
What's the score?
You could have fooled me
You tell me and we"ll both know
Jailbait
To jump on the bandwagon
Bobby soxer
To make a booboo (mistake)
Bright-eyed and bushy-tailed
To bug someone (annoy)
Chicken (coward)
Groovy
Culture-vulture
Fink
Girlie magazine
Hey daddy-o
To go through the motions
Headshrinker (psychiatrist)
Hi-fi
Hip, hipster
To have a hang-up
New words added to Collins Dictionary:
Nato
Discotheque
Stoned
Rock "n roll
Teddy boy
Lego
Angry Young Man
Psychedelic
Silicon chip
Hovercraft

 

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