Highlights of the Major Pop Culture Trends of the 1950s

From 1950 to 1959, young Americans had a steadier cash flow, which allowed them to enjoy substantial material comforts. Most people devoted more of their time to leisure activities and involving or consuming pop culture. During this era, popular culture was created, and it evolved the most and stepped into a more recognizable and appreciated territory that we all love and are entertained by today.

Here is a massive throwback to one of the most astounding and inceptive eras of pop culture.


Hollywood was wound up and loaded with gossips during the 1950s. Even without social media, people were capable of surfacing their hot gossips in many scandalous ways. The best headlines from this decade are as follows:

Ingrid Bergman’s Affair

Ingrid Bergman

Ingrid was a Swedish actress known for her beauty. Her international love scandal with director Robert Rossellini was published when they were married at the time. After the birth of their love child, both of them divorced and married each other. This affair took a toll on Ingrid’s career, but after her divorce with Robert in the mid-50s, her career sky-rocketed, and she even earned an academy award.

Charlie Chaplin’s Obsession with Young Girls

Charlie Chaplin

Charlie was a very popular silent film actor, and due to his persona, he was perceived as innocent. Until the scandal of his lust for young girls surfaced after he married a 16-year-old teenager, despite being 29 years old. The marriage didn’t last and affected his career, but he remarried twice, nonetheless. His marriages ended in separation, besides his last 18-year-old wife, who he married when he was 50.

Elizabeth Taylor’s Various Marriages

Elizabeth Taylor was known to have many lovers, and she married a total of eight times in her lifetime. Her biggest scandal was during the 1950s; she lost her third husband in a plane crash and soon after was involved with his best friend, who also happened to be the husband of Elizabeth’s best friend, Debbie Reynold. She got them divorced and was involved in another affair soon after.

Following are some more highlights of the decade:

  • Famous actress-singer Judy Garland attempted suicide in the 1950s due to unstable mental health.
  • In January 1958, many people went against the Hollywood heartthrob Rock Hudson. When his wife, Phyllis Gates, accused him of his homosexuality.
  • In March 1953, the Academy Awards were televised for the first time.
  • The movie All About Eve had the most Oscar nominations and won in the 23rd Academy Awards.


The 1950s was when rock and roll music was created; other popular genres in this decade were pop, swing, rhythm and blues, country music, and jazz music. The consideration of multi-racial preferences at this time was very influential. The best tunes of this time include the following:

Carl Perkins Invented Rock’ n’ Roll

Carl Perkins fused country music with R&B, along with some rock influences, and pioneered rock ‘n’ roll music. His style of music was often referred to as Rockabilly.

King of Rock’ n’ Roll

Elvis Presley was crowned as the King of Rock’ n’ Roll after he rose to fame by working with Sam Philips. Elvis is said to epitomize this genre of music and rebellion.

Blue Suede Shoes

Carl Perkin’s hit song, Blue Suede Shoes, topped charts in 1955. Afterward, this song was covered by Elvis Presley, and it gained even more popularity.

Covers of Pre-released Songs Gained all the Popularity

Due to the popularity of traditional pop songs, original lyrics weren’t as well-received during the time, which is why most popular hits were of songs that had been previously released.

Hey Good Lookin’ Defined Country Style of Music

Johnny Cash and Hank Williams were the artists who defined the country and western style of music. Hank’s song Hey Good Lookin’ was characterized by the pianocombined with country music and rockabilly harmonies.

African-American Musicians and R&B

Rhythm and Blues emerged from Jazz music and was pioneered by African-American musicians, who were at first rock ‘n’ roll stars being pushed into the R&B industry by producers.

Anthem of Youth Rebellion

In response to the parents not appreciating rock ‘n’ roll music, in 1954, a popular rock group, Bill Haley and His Comets delivered youth the ultimate anthem for their rebellion through a song named “Rock Around the Clock.” It was very popular and also featured in the 1955 movie Blackboard Jungle.

Following are some more highlights of the decade:

  • In 1956, Elvis Presley showcased his unique qualities by doing hip gyrations on the Milton Berle Show. This performance was triggered in many conservative adults, but the youth loved it, as his next appearance on Ed Sullivan Show had an 80% viewing audience.
  • Johnny cash had compassion in his lyrics and performed for inmates in many prisons.
  • In 1955 TuttiFrutti by Little Richard was released and became the most popular song of the time.
  • Mona Liza by Nat King Cole was released in 1950; this popular song is included in the Grammy Hall of Fame.
  • Percy Faith’s song, The Song from Moulin Rouge (Where Is Your Heart), was released in 1953 and topped charts for ten consecutive weeks.


The 1950s had many monumentally important films that not many people talk about. The major rise of cinemas in this decade was due to narrative storytelling and amazing directors like Billy Wilder and John Ford. The best and most influential movies of this decade include:

“Cinderella” was released

The animated Disney princess film Cinderella first appeared on-screen on 22nd February 1950. The story of a godmother helping a girl go to the Royal Ball without her stepmother knowing is very popular and well-liked at all times and decades.

“Sunset Boulevard” was released

Sunset Boulevard

On 10th August 1950, a blockbuster film Sunset Boulevard was released, which showcased a dangerous relationship that a screenwriter develops with a faded film star settled on making a noteworthy return in the industry. It was nominated in many categories and won the award for the best music score.

“All About Eve” was released

All About Eve was a super hit movie of the time, released on 13th October 1950; it revolved around a timid and innocent young woman who involves herself in the life of a Broadway star and her friends. It had almost 12 nominations in the Academy and Golden Globe Awards and was the top movie of its time.

“Vertigo” was released

Vertigo was released on 9th May 1958. It is a top-grossing movie, even in today’s day and age. The storyline is a thriller/mystery about a detective hired to investigate his friend’s wife. This movie continues to engage and perplex viewers.

“Some Like It Hot” was released

This movie was released on 19th March 1958 and featured the top actress of that time, Marilyn Monroe. The storyline is about two musicians facing a mob hit, and to protect themselves, they disguise as women in an all-female band. It is a great movie and has won many awards for great comedy and screenplay.

Following are some more highlights of the decade:

  • A Street Car Named Desire was released on 18th September 1951 and was the screen adaptation of the Broadway production. The main lead in this film was actor Marlon Brando.
  • Musical Singing in the Rain also got its screen adaptation in 1952 and was about actors transitioning from silent movies to sound.
  • High Noon was a popular Western movie released in 1952, which used a real-time storytelling narrative for the first time in movies.


The period of the 1950s was termed as the century of literature, as many writers and novelists emerged and blessed the world with amazing creations. The important events that happened in arts and literature include:

The Catcher in the Rye was published

The Catcher in the Rye was written by J.D. Salinger in 1951. It is a war novel for modern teenage years and has sold 65 million copies since its publishing.

Invisible Man was published

Invisible Man was written by Ralph Ellison in 1952. It is such a highly influential novel that Barack Obama even modeled his book “Dreams of my Father’ on it. This book was awarded the National Book Award in 1953.

Fahrenheit 451 was published

Fahrenheit 451 is written by Ray Bradbury in 1953. It involves the talk and threat of book burning and is inspired by Hitler when he burned books on the street of Berlin.

The Fellowship of the Ring was published

The Fellowship of the Ring is written by J.R.R Tolkien in 1954, and it is stated as the best children story of the century at that time. The whole series of books combined is termed as the best set of literature ever written.

Exodus was Published

Exodus is written by Leon Uris in 1958 and revolves around the founding of Israel. The hardcover of this book was on the New York Times bestseller list for more than a year and the fastest-selling work published at that time.

Following are some more highlights of the decade:

  • The 1955 National Book Award for Fiction was given to William Faulkner for his book A Fable.
  • The 1956 National Book Award for Nonfiction was given to Herbert Kubly for An American in Italy.


This decade was truly the time when many foundations were laid regarding science and technology. The initial invention in these years was taken further and developed into something impressive. The main inventions and advancements in technology done during this decade are as follows:

  • First Credit Card

The first credit card was invented by Ralph Schneider in 1950 and was known to be the Diners Club Card. It was a regular cardboard card at first, and with development in further years, it turned into plastic. This was the revolution of plastic money.

  • The invention of Super Glue

Superglue was invented in 1951 and proved to be an incredibly stable cyanoacrylate, which helped repair anything ranging from household items to woodwork and even surgical procedures.

  • The invention of the Power Steering

Francis W. Davis invented the power steering in 1951. Chrysler Corporation used it in its commercially available passenger car named Chrysler Imperial. The car was marketed with the name “Hydra guide.”

  • First VTR

The Video Tape Recorder was invented by Charles Paulson Ginsburg, also known as “father of the video cassette recorder,” in 1951. Charles was a studio and transmitter engineer at a San Francisco area radio station. The VTR could capture live images through electrical impulses by saving them in a magnetic tape.

  • Diet Soft Drinks

The first soft drink was invented and sold in 1952 by Kirsch Bottling Company of Brooklyn. They produced a sugar-free version of ginger ale and marketed as the first no-calorie drink.

  • The invention of Black Box

A black box flight recorder was invented in 1953 by David Warren, of Aeronautical Research Laboratory (ARL) in Fisherman’s Bend. The black box is an electrical box, bright orange, and was purposefully placed in an aircraft to facilitate the investigation of aviation accidents and incidents. Due to their bright color, they were easily retracted after accidents.

  • Solar Cell

The solar cell was invented by Chaplin, Fuller, and Pearson in 1954 and was the first application of a photovoltaic cell that could convert light energy into electrical energy.

  • McDonald’s

McDonald’s restaurants were nationwide franchised by Ray Kroc, a multimixer salesman, impressed by the operation of McDonald’s and worked hard to become their franchise manager in 1954.

  • The invention of Liquid Paper

The liquid paper was previously known as Mistake Out. It was invented by Bette Nesmith Graham to paint over mistakes made while using a typewriter.

  • The invention of Computer Language

Fortran or Formula Translation was the first computer-programming language developed in 1957 by Jhon Backus. It was the most influential software program in history because it allowed easy translations of math formulas unto code and helped opened doors for modern computing.

  • Pacemaker

The first internal or implantable cardiac pacemaker was invented in 1959 by Wilson Greatbatch, an American electrical engineer. He also invented batteries that were essential for it to produce electrical impulses. After some years, it became a routine procedure, which saves countless lives.

Following are some more highlights of the decade:

  • Texas Instruments invented transistor Radio in 1953.
  • The first oral contraceptive was invented in 1954 and was called “The Pill.”
  • Fiber Optics was invented in 1955 by corning glass researchers.
  • The first computer hard disk was used in 1956.
  • Christopher Cockerell invented the hovercraft in 1956.
  • The first computer modem was introduced in 1958.
  • Hula hoops were invented by Richard Knerr and Arthur Melin in 1958 and have been a great toy and exercise tool ever since.
  • The integrated circuit was invented in 1958 by Jack Kilby and Robert Noyce.
  • The first-ever Barbie doll was invented in 1959.
  • Check out our “Learn About Mattel the Pop Culture Toy Icon” article if you want more information on the Barbie doll and its manufacturer, Mattel.


Although people might consider this decade somewhat behind with news and happenings, the time from 1950 to 1959 was not just about the World War. Countless other events took place, and we are here to tell you all about it.

  • Battle of Osan

On 5th July 1950, for the first time, North Korean forces and American troops fought against each other in the Battle of Osan. This happened when American troops were sent to support South Korea in the Korean War. Not many troops had reached there when the war began, and due to late and uncoordinated withdrawal, US troops suffered many casualties.

  • NSC-68 Report

In April of 1950, the report was sent to President Harry Truman,and it mentioned steps to deal with the Cold War. The report is heavily recommended to build up nuclear weaponry. After the Korean War, this report was made official. The report caused an increase in the military budget and was withdrawn in 1975.

  • Great Brinks Robbery

The Brinks Armored Car Deposit, located in Boston, Massachusetts, was robbed on 17th January 1950 by a group of 11 men. They were well prepared and led by Anthony Pino. Thousands of dollars were stolen, and the criminals were not caught until 1956.

  • First Comic Strip

The first newspaper comic strip was published on 2nd October 1950, called Peanuts. The comic created by Charles Schulz was a hit feature in many newspapers. It was also called a pop culture fixture and wasn’t published until the authors’ death in 2000.

Following are some more highlights of the decade:

  • Two Long Island commuter trains accidentally collided in Queens, Richmond Hills area, unfortunately killing 79 people.
  • The railroads of America were placed under the control of the US Army by President Harry S. Turman.
  • Albert Einstein warned that nuclear war could lead to manual destruction.
  • The Eastern side of the United States suffered about a week from heavy blizzard conditions and strong winds, as a result of which, about 1 million houses are left without power.
  • The US President approved the construction of a hydrogen bomb.


The television shows that were popular during this time were mostly sitcoms and comedy shows. People were smitten with shows, which is why TV sets were in huge demand. The popular TV shows from this decade include:

  • I Love Lucy

I Love Lucy is an American sitcom featuring a girl who wants to get into showbiz. It aired on 15th October 1951.

  • The $64,000 Question

The $64,000 Question is a very popular American gameshow presented by Hal March. It aired on 7th June 1955.

  • Gunsmoke

Gunsmoke is a western drama where the mail lead protects the Wild West town. It aired on 10th September 1955.

  • 77 Sunset Strip

77 Sunset Strip is a drama showcasing the story of two detectives and their female accomplice Kookie. It aired on 10th October 1958.

  • The Danny Thomas Show

The Danny Thomas Show was an American sitcom that revolved around the story of a nightclub singer. It aired on 29th September 1953.


Because a TV set was so popular in the 1950s, this made the radio a little less important of a device. That is why radio shifted to narrower formats of entertainment and broadcasts. Yet it remained a staple in many places. Following are some radio highlights of the decade:

  • NBC’s Monitor broadcasted live music from different New York jazz clubs to rural America in the 1950s.
  • NBC aired a very popular show named The Red Foley Show in 1951.
  • ABC Radio aired the show Ozark Jubilee in 1953.


The fashion industry was developed until the 1950s. Many designers influenced women’s wear of this decade. Following are some fashion highlights of this time:

  • The Dirndl Dress

During the early 1950s, the most popular clothing in women’s fashion was the dirndl dress. The dress came with either short, puffy sleeves or was completely sleeveless and had a billowy skirt with a defined waistline. It was a highlight in the casual attire of that time.

  • Full Skirts, Sleeveless Dresses, and V-neck Collars

During the mid-1950s, the trend of full pleated skirts was revived. Women preferred wearing them with short-sleeved blouses. Other than skirts, long sleeveless dresses with V-neck collars were also preferred.

  • Long Slim Skirts and Short Jackets

By the late 1950s, figure-hugging slim skits were back in trend. Women also loved styling short padded jackets during this time.

  • Men’s Fashion

Men were clean-cut during this time. Short hairstyles and well-fitted suits were preferred. Wide-brimmed Panama hats were a staple fashion item.


  • Tennis for Two

It was the first computer game invented in the USA by William Higginbotham in 1958. He created it by keeping the Donner Model 30 analog computer in mind, as it could stimulate graphics. He viewed the game on an oscilloscope and played with two custom aluminum controllers. It was very popular and celebrated as the first video game ever created for entertainment.


Following are some sports highlights from the 1950s:

  • Cleveland Browns won the 1950 National Football League Championship Game over the Los Angeles Rams.
  • The Coaches Poll was established in 1951 to help rank the top 20 American college football teams each year.
  • At the 1950 FIFA World Cup United States remarkably defeated England.
  • The United States National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame was founded in 1951 inNew York.
  • The New York Yankees won the 1950 World Series of Major League Baseball by defeating the Philadelphia Phillies.

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