Photo of Michael Anderson, Mike Todd, and Frank Sinatra

Pop Culture in Review for the Year 1956

The 1950s came with massive changes in all fields. This era was highly popular for its speedy development and the political tensions between the countries. But on the other hand, technology and industries were growing faster than ever. Each year came with a new wave of advancement breaking all the previous records.

Indeed, that time was a defining period for future years. And while the entire decade was important, 1956 in particular, holds some critical events of history. From the very first hard disk to the first supersonic jet plane, this year definitely brought some revolutionary changes for the world.

Today, let’s discuss the significant events that took place this year and understand its pop culture. Because, what’s the better way to learn about time than closely investigating its pop culture? Now, before further ado, let’s have a look at the important aspects of 1956.

Films

The Movie Giant was released

The Movie Giant was released

Inspired by Edna Ferber’s novel, this movie was completely based on drama. It was both produced and directed by George Stevens. This film features a wide cast with some important characters played by Rock Hudson, Elizabeth Taylor, Jane Wither, Chill Wills, Dennis Hopper, and Earl Holliman.

The story covers the concept of racism, family values, and romance. The plot basically revolves around two families and their tensions. But the most important aspect of the movie was its inclusiveness. By showing a mixed-race family, this film addressed one of the biggest issues of that time.

It has received several academy awards, including Best Direction, Best Acting, Best Music, and many more. Moreover, it has been preserved as one of the best movies of American history. It is considered to be culturally, historically, and aesthetically important for the country.

Around the world in 80 days

Around the world in 80 days

Made in the direction of Michael Anderson, this movie was included in the top-grossing films of that year. Michael Todd produced it; however, it was released with the group of United Artists. The story of this epic film was inspired by the novel of the same name.

This movie takes us to the journey of the main role of Fogg and how he travels the entire earth within 80 days. When he started the journey, he had no idea of what he’s getting into. All the adventures that he encounters and the hurdles that he passes are beautifully captured in the movie.

This movie was included in the list of the biggest hits of that year. It was nominated for several awards and received a total of 5 academy awards. All in all, it is safe to say that it is one of the best movies in the American film industry.

The King and I

The King and I

Inspired by an autobiography novel named Anna and the king of Siam, this musical movie was a big hit. It featured Deborah Kerr and YulBrynner as the main leads.

The story revolves around the king and his palace affairs. When it was released, it received a lot of comments from the critics. Overall, the reviews were mixed, but still, the movie earned quite a lot. Later, it got nominated for 9 Oscar categories. Out of which, it won five.

Television

Hancock’s Half Hour Aired for the First Time

Hancock’s Half Hour Aired for the First Time

One of the classic comedy based shows of American television, Hancock’s half-hour debuted in the year 1956. It was aired on BBC and produced by Dennis Wilson. The famous comedian Tom Hancock appeared as the main character of this show.

This program was first a radio comedy show, but then the entire television series was planned. Though it required some adjustment to follow the characters properly, the show was an instant hit. At that time, not many comedy TV shows were aired, due to which Hancock’s half-hour was widely appreciated.

Queen for a Day Debuted

Queen for a Day Debuted

Another famous radio show, Queen for a Day, appeared on the television screens for the first time. It was a game show that grabbed the attention of viewers due to its glamorous settings. The show aired on NBC and quickly became one of the most-watched shows of the year.

Every episode had a similar pattern. The host, Jack Bailey, would open it by asking the viewers if they wanted to win. She would carry interviews with the contestants, and in the end, the audience decided the winner.

This show was very famous. Even the channel had to increase its time duration to accommodate all the contestants.

The Steve Allen Show

The Steve Allen Show

A spin-off version of tonight’s show, the Steve Allen show started in 1956. It was mostly based on comedy and genuine interviews. But because there were a lot of shows of this theme, it was considered normal.

Once the show aired for some time, it gained a good audience. The program was then modified, and the fans highly appreciated the new version. It also won a Peabody Award for genuine comedy and frank expressions.

The Edge of Night started on CBC

The Edge of Night started on CBC

The all-time famous soap opera, the Edge of the Night, also debuted this year. It was a pure drama-based program and had the elements of mystery and crime too. It was aired on CBC and featured live broadcast for most of its episodes.

It was written by PG Wodehouse and made in collaboration with Irvin Vending. It was quite famous in youth, and even some adults used to enjoy this mysterious show. Throughout its period on screen, this program received a total of five academy awards. From music to acting, it was beautifully planned with all the necessary aspects.

Fashion

  • Casual Blazers got Famous

The early 50s are known as the revolutionary years for changing styles and fashion. With the changing trends, 1956 came with a storm of professional dressing style. People who once wore dresses and skirts started wearing casual blazers and coats.

This year, many preferred wearing loose upper wears over tees and trousers. It added an element of boldness and kind of worked as an accessory too. This style was commonly seen in runway shows and magazines.

  • Office Pants Became Causal

Similar to blazers, professional pants and trousers got pretty famous too. Those who didn’t like broad shoulders and loose coats followed the trend by wearing such pants. Grey, blue, and brown colored trousers were seen more commonly paired with some light shirts.

This style was highly famous in the masses. High waist pants and fitted ankles added a dimension in the overall look. Because it was simple and easy to follow, a huge chunk of the population admired this attire.

  • Pinup Styles

Though many changes were seen in the fashion industry, the classic pinup style remained as popular as ever. The sleek hairstyles and the balloon-shaped dresses were the usual styles for a lot of people.

It was a signature look for a majority. And although the changing trends were getting popular, they could not beat this one.

Technology

  • The First Snooze Alarm Clock was Invented

This year, the very first alarm clock with snooze settings was introduced in the market. It took a long time to develop this setting. But at last, the workers of General Electron Techron figured it out.

It was named “the snooze” by the company. And since then, the setting was named snooze. It was pretty basic. But for that time, it was a unique idea. This is why it got highly famous among the locals.

  • Hard Disk Drive was Introduced

In 1956, the first hard disk was created by the company IBM. It was designed by Jacob Rainbow and hada storage space of 5MB. It was a breakthrough in computer sciences, and all the advancement in this field was only possible because of this invention.

Since it was extremely basic, it was quite bulky as well. It weighed nearly 1 ton and required a separate air compressor for cooling purposes. But despite everything, it was an important inventionat that time.

  • First Supersonic Jet

The common fighter jet of the American army, the great F-11, was introduced this year. This single seated navy aircraft is known for its speed and control. Since this version was new, it still required some changes. But one can say that 1956’s model of tiger F-11 worked as a framework to build faster and better jets for the armed forces.

Music

  • Heartbreak Hotel Became the Song of the Year

Released quite early on in the year, this song remained on the top of the list till the end. Written by Tommy Durden and Mae Axton, this song was sung by Elvis Presley. According to Elvis, this song was inspired by suicide news of a guy who jumped off a hotel building.

It ranked as the number one song of the year. Not only that, but it was also included in the Songs of the Decade list. It has been remade a few times, but the original one remains irreplaceable. It is said that Heartbreak Hotel is one of the songs that shaped rock and roll in America.

  • The Great Pretender was Released

This song is yet another famous single by the group Platters. It was written by Buck Ram, who also managed the music for the band. Buck chose Tony Williams as the lead singer, and this decision proved to be a good one.

The fan base of The Great Pretender did not stop in the United States. But in fact, it blew up all the charts worldwide. Just weeks after it was released, it became a top song in the United Kingdom. Not only that, but it was highly famous in Canada, Austria, and Belgium as well.

  • The Wayward Wind

Written by Stanley Lebowski and Herb Newman, this one is a famous track from the year 1956. It is a romantic song that represents the emotions of two separated lovers. Newman designed the lyrics, but Lebowski arranged the signature music.

When the song was released, it became a jam for the majority of the American and British populations. It not only got itself a position in billboard’s top songs of the year but also became a gold standard. Even years after it came out, it maintained its ranking. Indeed, this song is one of the finest songs ever produced in the American music industry.

News

  • McKee Refinery Fire Incident

In McKee’s refinery, located near Oklahoma, Texas, a major incident of fire casualty happened. It was the fourth most deadly fire event in the country. It is said that this accident happened during the delivery of some inflammable gases.

Supposedly, one tank caught on fire, and firefighters were called for help. Little did they know, when they tried to cool down the area to prevent the spread of gases, the tank exploded. Due to this explosion, massive damage was caused. It killed 19 firefighters, and many got injured. To this day, this event is considered as one of the most horrible tragedies of American history.

  • 1956 Presidential Elections

The 43rdquadrennial presidential elections of America were held in 1956. The president of that time, Dwight de Eisenhower, stood against Adlai Stevenson. Fun fact: both the opponents had faced each other in previous elections for governor too. Though Eisenhower had a pretty bad tenure overall, he still won. That, too, not for his virtues or personal values, but because of the work he put into the country.

He was first elected for his personality and his views for the future. But during his time, he couldn’t serve so well until the very last days. Because he worked fast during the last years of his service, he managed to gain the public’s trust again. As opposed to what experts predicted, he won the elections, becoming the 43rd president of the United States.

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