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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