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The 1950s. The birth of rock and roll. News. 1955 Disneyland Opens McDonald's Corporation Founded Rosa Parks Refuses to Give Up Her Seat on a Bus 1956 Elvis Gyrates on Ed Sullivan's Show T.V. Remote Control Invented Velcro Introduced 1957 Dr. Seuss Publishes The Cat in the Hat

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The 1950s

The 1950s

The birth of rock and roll


  • 1955

  • Disneyland Opens

  • McDonald's Corporation Founded

  • Rosa Parks Refuses to Give Up Her Seat on a Bus

  • 1956

  • Elvis Gyrates on Ed Sullivan's Show

  • T.V. Remote Control Invented

  • Velcro Introduced

  • 1957

  • Dr. Seuss Publishes The Cat in the Hat

  • Soviet Satellite Sputnik Launches Space Age

  • 1958

  • Hula Hoops Become Popular

  • Lego Toy Bricks First Introduced

  • NASA Founded

  • 1959

  • Castro Becomes Dictator of Cuba

  • Alaska and Hawaii become final two states


  • First Modern Credit Card Introduced

  • First Organ Transplant

  • Korean War Begins

  • Senator Joseph McCarthy Begins Communist Witch Hunt

  • U.S. President Truman Orders Construction of Hydrogen Bomb


  • South Africans Forced to Carry ID Cards Identifying Race


  • Car Seat Belts Introduced

  • Princess Elizabeth Becomes Queen at Age 25


  • DNA Discovered

  • Julius and Ethel Rosenberg Executed for Espionage


  • First Atomic Submarine Launched

  • Report Says Cigarettes Cause Cancer

  • Roger Bannister Breaks the Four-Minute Mile

  • Segregation Ruled Illegal in U.S.


  • Spies, dictators, Presidents, movie stars, athletes, music superstars

  • Soon to be President John F. Kennedy; Marilyn Monroe, Martin Luther King Jr., Fidel Castro

  • James Dean, Marlon Brandon, Elizabeth Taylor, Doris Day

  • Joe DiMaggio, Jackie Robinson, Sugar Ray Leonard, Wilt Chamberlain, Maurice Richard

  • Lucille Ball, Milton Berle, The Marx Brothers

  • Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly, Jerry Lee Lewis


  • Early fifties music was ‘feel good’ sung by such artists as Pat Boone, Frank Sinatra, Rosemary Clooney etc.

  • Mid fifties, the rock and roll era began

  • First rock and roll song considered to be “Rock Around the Clock” by Bill Haley and the Comets

  • Rock and roll music was based on r and b music

  • Country music was popular in the South

  • American Bandstand played music on television and featured dancers and countdowns of the weeks biggest hits on the jukeboxes and radio

  • And then there was Elvis

  • Most successful artist ever: 17 #1 songs; over 140 top 40 singles

  • Also a movie star


Top songs of the 1950s:

  • Don’t Be Cruel/Hound Dog – Elvis

  • Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White – Perez Prado

  • Sincerely – The McGuire Sisters

  • Singing the Blues – Guy Mitchell

  • Mack the Knife – Bobby Darin

  • All Shook Up – Elvis

  • Rock Around the Clock – Bill Haley and the Comets

  • The Wayward Wind – Gogi Grant

  • Sixteen Tons – Tennessee Ernie Ford

  • Heartbreak Hotel - Elvis

  • Records from popular movies and musicals dominated the sales charts


  • Television was very limited in the 1950s

  • Very few homes had televisions

  • Black and white with very few channels

  • Programming was not available 24 hours a day

  • Genres included: game shows, variety, sitcom, soap operas, westerns

  • Remote controls were invented in the 1950s

  • Colour television was introduced near the end of the decade


  • I Love Lucy was the most popular sitcom

  • First inter-racial couple on TV

  • The $64,000 Question was a popular game show that turned out to be rigged

  • Other famous shows: Leave it to Beaver, Father Knows Best, Gunsmoke, Ed Sullivan, Lassie

  • When Elvis appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show, he had to be shown from the waist up


  • Movies were popular escapes from suburbia and the Cold War

  • Drive in theatres, 3-D movies very popular

  • Popular genres: science fiction, horror, musicals, dramas, westerns, comedies


Top Ten Movies of the 1950s

  • Lady and the Tramp (1955)

  • Peter Pan (1953)

  • Cinderella (1950)

  • The Ten Commandments (1956)

  • Ben-Hur (1959)

  • Sleeping Beauty (1959)

  • Around the World in 80 Days (1956)

  • This is Cinerama (1952)

  • South Pacific (1958)

  • The Robe (1953)

Fads and trends
Fads and Trends


  • Richard Knerr and Arthur "Spud" Melin, founders of the Wham-O Company, are the architects of the biggest fad of all time - the hula-hoop!

  • In 1957, an Australian visiting California told them, quite casually, that in his home country, children twirled bamboo hoops around their waists in gym class.

  • They understood how popular such an item could be and proceeded to manufacture one made of plastic, Marlex specifically, a lightweight but durable plastic then recently invented by Phillips Petroleum.

  • The name "hula hoop" came from the Hawaiian dance its users seemed to imitate.

  • Talk about sales! Wham-O sold 25 million hula-hoops in two months. Almost 100 million international orders followed. They were manufacturing 20,000 hoops a day at the peak of popularity.

  • Japan banned the hoops thinking they might promote improprieties.

  • The Soviet Union said the hula-hoop was an example of the "emptiness of American culture."

Fads and trends1
Fads and Trends

The Coonskin hats

  • Made famous by the Davey Crocket movies and television shows

    Telephone booth stuffing

  • The idea was to cram as many people as possible into a telephone booth

  • You had to be able to be able to either place or receive a call

  • Record was 25 people in South Africa

Fads and trends2
Fads and Trends

3-D Movies

  • the concept was re-introduced because film executives feared television would limit theatre sales

  • short lived fad

  • soon only “B” movies were3-D

Fashion overview
Fashion Overview

The 1950's stereotypical style…

1.  The cashmere sweater.2.   Poodle skirt. 3.  Rolled up t-shirt sleeve

4.  Pedal pushers 5.  Black leather jacket

6.  The scarf.7.  1950's gym wear.


Here is a list of new words added to the dictionary during the 1950s

  • BeatnikBermuda ShortsComputerizeData processingDesegregateDoublespeakGeodesic domeHash brownsJunk mailNeutron bombPolio virusSky divingWeirdo

Firsts inventions and innovations
Firsts, Inventions and Innovations

  • The TV Dinner

  • McDonalds

  • Disneyland

  • The Answering Machine

  • Super Glue

  • Mr. Potato Head

  • Vaccine for polio

  • Non-stick frying pan

  • Home microwave ovens

  • Hovercraft

  • Liquid paper

  • Laser

  • Barbie