Photo of Mary Martin as Peter Pan from the Broadway production

Pop Culture in Review for the Year 1955

When we talk about pop culture, we often think that it is related to the entertainment industry, but it’s actually way more than that;it’s what you call “hip.” 1955 was a big year for the entertainment industry and a very important year as well for the medical and science field.

One of the founding fathers of physics passed away. Cars became so commonto the point that 9 out of 10 people had a car. Coca-Cola beverage cans were introduced and were bought and sold rapidly. Inflation was at an all-time low, and the first-ever McDonald’s fast-food restaurant chain was introduced.

Following are some of the highlights of what happened in the year 1955:

Film

“Oklahoma!”

Poster for the American theatrical run of the 1955 film Oklahoma!

Oklahoma!was an American musical film based on the musical of the same name, originally composed and produced by Richard Rogers and Oscar Hammerstein II. It premiered on 11 October 1995 and was first featured at the Rivoli Theatre in New York City. It was the first feature film that was photographed and taken in the Todd-AO 70mmwidescreen process.

The movie features the story of a girl named Laurie Williams and her love life in thetown of Oklahoma. This film was also voted as New York Times Critics Pick with greatreviews.

“Rebel Without a Cause”

US theatrical release poster for the 1955 film Rebel without a Cause

We’ve all seen movies of rebels in high school, and this is what started it. This classic movie was produced by Warner Bros, which turned out to be their second-highest selling box office of that year, featuring one of the best roles of James Dean. It was released on 27 October 1995. Sadly, he passed away after less than a month of its release.

The movie received favorable reviews from The Hollywood Reporter and The New York Times.

The film focuses on the American youth and the troubles they are facing by featuring the story of a troubled teenager Jim Stark, with a troublesome background mixed with family issues. Definitely worth watching!

“5 Against the House”

poster for 5 Against the House

The fictional film, 5 Against the House, premiered on 10 June 1995, in New York City. It was directed by Phil Karlson and produced by StirlingSilliphant. It was based on the novel 5 Against the House. The music was featured by George Dunling, and Lester White did the film’s cinematography. The movie had some of the greatest actors like Guy Madison, Kim Novak, and Brian Keith. Moreover, it was nominated for the Saturn Awards.

The story features a group of college students based in Arizona. They get into the habit of gambling and plan a heist to rob a casino.

Music

1955 was the year of rock ‘n roll. Rock musicians such as Elvis Presley and Bill Haley were all over the news. They had concerts everywhere in the US, and each concert was jam-packed and sold out. Who doesn’t love Elvis Presley? Chuck Berry, Fat Dominoes, and The Platters also were very popular throughout the year.

Bill Haley & His Comets – Rock Around The Clock

This classic hit rendition of the song “Rock Around the Clock,” performed by Bill Haley and His Comets, was originally released in 1954 and was written by Max C. Freedman and James E. Myers. The song got its fame when it was used under the opening credits of the film “Blackboard Jungle.” This song hit the Billboard charts as the number one most hit rock and roll song on 9 July 1955. It remained at the top for some time after its release in the US and the UK.

Technology

The First Wireless Remote was Invented

An electrical engineer, Eugene Polley invented the first-ever remote-controlled, wireless television named Zenith Flashmatic. Visible light was used to remotely control a television, which was provided with four photocells found in the cabinet at the corners of the screen. It had a pistol-shaped remote control, which was used to turn the receiver on and off, to mute, and to change the TV channels.

Shippingport Atomic Power Station was established

Reactor pressure vessel during construction

The world’s first-ever full-scale atomic-electric power plant was established. It’s located in Beaver County, Pennsylvania, on the Ohio River. It became fully stable and critical in 1957. This power station proved to be one of the most important achievements in US history.

The pocket-sized radio was invented

In the summer of 1954, Texas Instruments and Industrial Development Engineering Associates (IDEA) got together and planned to create a radio device that could fit in the pocket and taken anywhere. The plan came to fruition the following year, and hence pocket-sized transistor radios became available to the public. The device was named TR-1 and was featured in red color.

Sports

Hazleton Hawks

Hazleton Hawks was a famous basketball team in the year 1955. The Hawks were based in Hazleton, Pennsylvania hence the name “Hazleton Hawks.” They started off as Hazelton Professionals with the name “Professionals” being replaced with “Hawks” in the second season of the basketball league. They played in the Eastern Professional Basketball League. Unfortunately, due to lack of proper management, and the team’s performance in the games, the franchise couldn’t last and eventually came to an end.

Television

The Mickey Mouse Club

Title screen for the children's television variety program The Mickey Mouse Club

Alt-text: In October of 1955, Disney launched a kid’s show “The Mickey Mouse Club,” which debuted on ABC. The show we even watch today in an improved version, first debuted in 1955. It was written and produced by Walt Disney. The first program lasted for about four years, also consisting of four seasons. The first-ever Mouseketeer was played by Bobby Burgess, with the character of Mickey Mouse appearing in every episode. Jimmie Dodd and Roy Williams presented the show.

Peter Pan

cover art for Peter Pan

Peter Pan, the famous character we know from Disney, went to Broadway. The first-ever musical based on the play by J.M Barrie’s book “Peter Pan, or The Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up” was broadcasted on TV on 7 March 1955. It was produced by Walt Disney and featured music by Moose Charlap and JuleStyne. Mary Martin was the voice behind Peter while Cyril Ritcharddid the voiceover for Captain Hook.

Hollywood Today

Hollywood Today was an American reality show, featuring events of Hollywood and its actors. The show debuted on NBC on 3 January 1955. It was originally 15 minutes long but was later extended to 30 minutes. The host of the show was Sheila Graham, along with a co-host, which was a different Hollywood celebrity each week.

The $64,000 Question

The $64,000 Question was a quiz game TV show, which was the first broadcast in 1955 on NBC. In the show, contestants were asked to participate and were asked questions. The more questions they answered, the more money they earned until they reached the final question, which was worth 64,000 dollars. This show is considered one of the pioneers of quiz game shows, which became popular later on.

News

Jonas Salk’s Polio Vaccine

In the early 1950s, the Polio epidemic broke out, and at that time, there wasn’t anycure for it. Jonas Salk was an American medical researcher who invented a cure for Polio and developed a vaccine for it. The clinical trials were under process and became successful in April of 1955. Hence his vaccine was available to the public after the FDA’s approval.

The vaccine was used in schools nationwide and became one of the most vital cures of Polio, curing hundreds of thousands of victims, not just in the US but worldwide.

Albert Einstein Passed Away

Albert Einstein during a lecture in Vienna in 1921

1955 saw the loss of one of the founding fathers of physics. The man who gave the theory of relativity, Albert Einstein, passed away in April of 1955. Albert Einstein was a German scientist and a war refugee in the Hitler era. This man devoted his entire life to science. He was given a Nobel Prize as well. Science made tremendous progress with the help of his theories. He has helped in making great strides in the field of nuclear physics and chemistry. Moreover, he assisted in devising and preparing the formula of an atom bomb. Science wouldn’t be where it is now without the help of Albert Einstein.

The USS Nautilus

USS Nautilus during its initial sea trials on 20 January 1955

USS Nautilus was a submarine that was completed in 1955 and is known as the world’s first-ever nuclear-powered submarine. The submarine was planned and supervised by Captain Hyman G. Rickover, who’s also known as “Father of the Nuclear Navy.” The first commanding officer of this ship was Eugene Parks Wilkinson. The submarine remained operational for another 25 years before it was decommissioned and declared a National Historic Landmark in 1982.

The Vietnam Conflict

The historic Vietnam conflict began on 1 November 1955, when the US decided to help South Vietnam right after the conflict of Vietnam ended with the French. This battle was between the countries of Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam, which is also known as the Second Indochina War. It all happened when Vietnam was divided into two parts; South and North Vietnam.The communists supported the North Side, such as China and the Soviet Union, and on the other hand, the Southside was supported by the US and anti-communist allies such as South Korea and the Philippines. The war lasted for about 19 years and ended in 1973.

Disneyland Opened Its Doors to the Public

Yes, that’s right! The Disneyland we all know and love opened its doors to the public in Anaheim, California, in the year 1955. Walt Disney took complete supervision of its design and construction. The construction began in 1954 and was completed the following year. Disneyland was unveiled during a special TV show on ABC on 17 July 1955, and a few days later, it was named “The Happiest Place on Earth.”

Radio

The Jack Benny Program

Jack Benny Cast

The Jack Benny Program was one of the most influential comedy radio shows of that time, which ended in 1955. The show lasted for about three decades and began its broadcast on radio, slowly shifting towards the TV, and finally, on 22 May 1955, the radio show came to an end due to CBS’s decision. The show continued airing on TV.

The Big Story

The Big Story was a radio show known for telling stories of brave and heroic news reporters, giving their best and risking their lives to provide us with the most authentic and reliable news. The show came to an end on the radio, moving on towards TV. The show began on NBC radio with its final broadcast on 23 March 1955.Bob Sloane was the narrator of the show, and it featured many celebrities, including James Dean.

Monitor

The Monitor was a radio show related to news of all sorts, ranging from sports, music, and art to celebrity interviews, etc. The show was originally 30 minutes long but was later extended to 60 minutes and became one of the major sources of entertainment in the US. Monitor had a catchy opening to it made by a mix of audio telephonic tones and using Morse code as well. It first aired on NBC. Radio on 12 June 1955, and was well-received by the public.

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