The decade of the 1950’s was marked by the baby boom, the Cold War, the Iron Curtain, Hollywood blacklists, drive-in movies, suburban build ups, rock and roll, nuclear proliferation, and the space race.
People survived the decade without cable TV, satellite communications, the Internet, GPS devices, PC’s, laptops, CD’s, cell phones, hand held media devices, VCR’s, DVD’s, digital cameras and host of other gadgets.
Here is a brief look at some people and events from the year 1959.
On January 3, 1959 Alaska officially became the 49th State of the Union.
On March 18, 1959 President Eisenhower signed the Hawaii Statehood Law; on August 21st Hawaii was officially admitted to the Union as the 50th State.
Congressman Sam Rayburn (Democrat) from Texas was the Speaker of the House of Representatives.
The annual unemployment rate for 1959 was 5.5%.
On New Years Day 1959 President Fulgencio Batista fled Havana as Cuban rebels approached; on January 4, 1959 rebel forces under the command of Che Guevara and Camilo Cienfuegos entered Havana. On February 16, 1959 Fidel Castro became the Premier of Cuba.
The Los Angeles Dodgers won the 1959 World Series defeating the Chicago White Sox in 4 out of 6 games. This MLB match up was the first World Series the Dodgers were in since leaving Brooklyn; in fact, it was the first World Series a California team played in. Prior to 1959 it had been 50 years since the Chicago White Sox won a pennant and played in a World Series.
On May 1, 1959 Heavyweight Boxing Champion Floyd Patterson successfully defended the title defeating challenger Brian London winning by KO in the 11th round. On June 26, 1959 Patterson lost the title in a 3 round bout to Swede, Ingemar Johansson.
Arts and Entertainment
On February 3, 1959 an airplane crash in Iowa took the lives of music greats Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and J.P. Richardson (the “Big Bopper”). The pilot, Roger Peterson also perished in the accident.
The 31sthAcademy Awards were hosted by a team of celebrities on April 6, 1959. The hosts included; Bob Hope, Sir Laurence Olivier, David Niven, Jerry Lewis, Tony Randall, and Mort Sahl. The Best Picture Award for 1958 went to, “Gigi”.
In 1959 the prime time Emmy for comedy went to, “The Jack Benny Show”. In the drama category, there was a three way tie, the prime time Emmys went to, “Playhouse 90” (third time in a row), “The Alcoa/Goodyear Television Playhouse” and “Maverick”. The Emmy for best variety show was awarded to “The Dinah Shore Chevy Show” (second time in a row).
The Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1959 went to “The Travels of Jaimie McPheeters”, by Robert Lewis Taylor.
On January 12, 1959 Berry Gordy Jr. started Tamala Records; in 1960 Tamala would become the famed Motown Records.
On March 11, 1959 “A Raisin in the Sun” opened on the Great White Way.
On October 2, 1959 CBS first televised Rod Serling’s show, “The Twilight Zone.”
On March 9, 1959 the Barbie Doll was first introduced.
On March 31, 1959 Busch Gardens opened in Tampa, Florida.
On April 9, 1959 NASA introduce the Mercury 7 Astronauts, they were; Alan Shepard Jr., Virgil (Gus) Grissom, John Glenn Jr., Malcolm Scott Carpenter, Walter (Wally) Schirra Jr., Leroy Gordon Cooper and Donald (Deke) Slayton.
On April 25, 1959 the St. Lawrence Seaway first opened; later in the year President Eisenhower and Queen Elizabeth II would appear at an official opening ceremony.
On September 14, 1959 the Soviet spacecraft Luna-2 crashed into the moon; this would be the first time a spacecraft reached the moon. On October 7, 1959 the Soviet spacecraft Luna-3 sent back photos of the far side of the moon
I hope you have enjoyed this article looking back at some of the highlights of 1959 and the entire series on the 1950’s. Stay tuned, the highlights of the 1960’s are on deck.
US Census Bureau www.census.gov
Bureau of Labor Statistics www.bls.gov