Pop Culture in Review for the Year 1958

Pop Culture in 1958 was no different than what we see today. Although television, arts, music, and other areas were not well-developed but it was a time that laid down the basis for the years to come. What we see today are basically layers above layers that with time have continuously progressed and developed. Some of the finest actors, movies, artists, and moments took place this year.

Those who have gone through the year will tell you how promising it was. The millennials would describe it ‘boring’ but in reality, it was a golden period. From Elizabeth Taylor to Paul Newman, 1958 was an example of what the upcoming years should be like, if not better. Furthermore, there was, even more, going on in politics, radio, and Hollywood, etc. which is hard to ignore. Therefore, let us take a drive down memory lane and see what 1958 had for us.


The Kingston Trio’s ‘Tom Dooley’

The Kingston Trio is an American based pop music and a folk group that is credited for the revival of folk music during the 1950s to late 1960s. In 1958, the band released a song titled ‘Tom Dooley’ which was based on a murder of a woman that took place in 1866 allegedly by Tom Dula. The song is well-known today as it was a hit as soon as it was released in 1958. It topped and reached the no.1 spot in Billboard and the Billboard R&B listing. Furthermore, it reached the no.1 spot at the Australian Singles Chart, Canadian Singles Chart, and Norwegian Singles Chart, etc.

The Everly Brothers’ ‘All I Have to Do Is Dream’

The Everly Brothers

Made by the famous ‘The Everly Brothers’, ‘All I have to Do Is Dream’ was a spectacular hit of 1958. Released in 1958, the song ranked no. 141 on the Rolling Stone magazine’s list of ‘The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time’. The best version of the song was sung by The Everly Brothers and it is recognized through them even today. It only took two takes for the Brothers’ to record the song. Furthermore, it was the only song that reached the no.1 spot on all the Billboard singles chart. Its success was not only limited to the United States but the United Kingdom and several other countries as well.

The Everly Brothers’ ‘Bird Dog’

Released in 1958, ‘Bird Dog’ is a song written by Boudleaux Bryant and recorded by The Everly Brothers. The song went on to become a hit as it reached the no.1 spot on the Billboard Country Chart. Furthermore, the song also touched the no.2 spot on the U.S Billboard Hot 100 along with peaking the R&B charts for two to three weeks. The song is based on the singer feeling sad and worried about a guy named Johnny trying to steal his girlfriend. As a result, the singer describes him as ‘Bird Dog’.

Are You Sincere by Andy Williams

The song ‘Are You Sincere’ was originally released in 1957. However, Andy Williams later released the song as a single in 1958 under Cadence Records. The song featured an orchestra conducted by Archie Bleyer. As it was released, the song reached the no.3 spot on the Billboard Chart. Then in 1973, Elvis Presley came forward with the version that he had recorded at his home.


The Boy in the Red Vest is Sold

The Boy in the Red Vest is a painting by Paul Cezanne, who painted it in 1889 or 1890. The painting is a perfect example of Paul’s innovative, skilled, and nuanced work after 1880. Paul had painted four different versions of the painting in which the boy posed differently but had the same red vest. This was his attempt to study the relationship between space and figure. The painting is known for its dense, rich, and festive colors. In 1958, the painting was sold at a price which made it set a new record price for a painting sold at auction. It was stolen in 2008 before being recovered in 2012.

Robert Frank publishes ‘The Americans’

Robert Frank published his photographic book in 1958, titled ‘The Americans’ which consisted of photography related to post-war American. Initially, it was published in France in 1958 while being later published in the United States. The book became famous and was known for its views highlighting both high and low strata of American society. It received rough criticism from the critics back in the US, who had criticized it by terming it ‘derogatory’ to national ideals. Regardless, of who criticized it and why, the book was successful in reaching the majority in a very short period of time.


Boris Pasternak’s Nobel Prize in Literature

Boris Pasternak

Boris Pasternak was a Russian poet, novelist, and literary translator. Pasternak is known for his famous novel Doctor Zhivago, which took place between the Russian Revolution of 1905 and the Second World War. Although the novel was not allowed to be published in USSR but the manuscript was smuggled to Italy for publication. As a result, Pasternak was awarded a Nobel Prize in Literature that he had to decline due to extreme pressure from the Soviet Union’s Communist Party. Later, his descendants were able to accept it in 1988. Even today the novel remains a part of the Russian school curriculum since 2003.


In 1958, Fashion mostly revolved around changing the silhouette’s shape. The designers were in a hurry to bring a replacement since the sack and loose-fitting dresses were not anyone’s preference. Then, ‘trapeze’ the triangular shape was introduced but even that was a bit extreme for most women. Regardless, women were excited about the new invention and hurried to get their hands on them but the fad died midway in the summer.

Furthermore, designers were working on creating clothes for every type and size of women. As a result, the tops became soft and the skirts fell smoothly. Now it was no longer about ‘one size fits all’. While coats and various other things remained popular, hair, shoes, hats, and fur on the other hand found their way into the closets of 1958 as well. It was 1958 when Chinchilla was introduced and became the ultimate luxury fur item. Lastly, people would choose bright colors such as vibrant blue and bright yellow to create perfect outfits everyday.


South Pacific

Released in 1958, South Pacific was the highest-grossing film of 1958. The film was released with color filters but that did not stop the movie from being a huge success. It earned $6.4 million alone in just rentals in Canada and the United States. The film was a huge success in the United Kingdom as well and was played for nearly four and a half years at the Dominion Theatre in London.

Auntie Mame

Auntie Mame was the second-highest-grossing film of 1958 with earnings of $8,800,000 in net profit. The movie was based on the novel ‘Auntie Mame: An Irreverent Escapade’. The film received a positive response from the critics while Rosalind Russell earning a round of applause for her performance. Furthermore, the film received a score of 93% on rotten tomatoes based on 13 critics out of 14 giving it a positive review.

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof was the third-highest-grossing film of 1958 that was an instant hit with the audience as well as the critics. It reached the no.1 spot at the US box office and remained there for 5 weeks. The film grossed $1.6 million in 24 key cities in just a month alone. Furthermore, it regained the no.1 spot for four weeks while becoming the number one film for the October month.


Released in 1958, Gigi was the fifth-highest grossing film of the year. According to MGM records, the film earned $6.5 million in Canada and the United States while reporting a profit of $1,983,000. From a critical point of view, the film was described as ‘elegant’. Gigi won a record-breaking nine Academy Awards, which was amongst the highest at the time.


Twenty-One is Cancelled by NBC

Twenty-One by NBC was a top-rated show that ran from 1956 to 1958. It was a game played by two contestants standing in an isolated booth, trying to answer general knowledge questions earning a total of 21 points. The show became quite controversial after it was found that it was rigged. This was the ultimate demise of the entire show. College Professor Charles Van Doren wished to compete with the current champion Herbert Stempel.

Stempel was ordered to provide a wrong answer to a question even when he knew the right answer. As a result, he was defeated and later decided to blow the whistle. However, it was termed as nothing more than ‘jealousy’. Then in 1958, Dotto a popular daytime game show of CBS was canceled when a notebook was found by a contestant including the answers to every question. Therefore, the show ended for once, and never saw the light again.

Dotto is found to be rigged

While Twenty-One was canceled by NBC, the incident gave rise to even more startling revelations. While Herbert Stempel had managed to blow the whistle, his statements gained even more credibility when match-fixing in Dotto was revealed. The ratings of the quiz show plummeted and the viewers were angry. The matter was investigated and as a result, the reputation of many contestants was ruined.


BBC Radiophonic Workshop


Created in 1958, the BBC Radiophonic Workshop was one of the units of sound effects of BBC. It was created to produce sounds that are incidental and new music for radio and later television. The workshop became famous and well-known for its music technology as well as electronic music along with popular scores for programs such as Quatermass and the Pit and Doctor Who. However, it was closed in 1998.


President Fulgencio Batista and Fidel Castro Collide

In 1958, Cuba’s President Fulgencio termed Fidel Castro’s action against his government as ‘arrogance’. As a result, President Batista assured the nation that he would take necessary actions to maintain order. Since Fidel Castro was looking for a total word with the government, President Batista called the Cuban National Assembly to discuss the situation. He provided the option to resign or face all-out war. Moreover, he said that his government would provide amnesty to all Cuban leaders who surrender their arms before the November elections.

NASA is created

President of the United States Dwight D. in 1958, signed the National Aeronautics and Space Act into Law, giving birth to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration usually referred to as NASA. It was built and created to expand researching abilities and apply aeronautical knowledge. In addition to that, NASA, which was originally a civilian-based agency was turned into a military-based one, while T. Keith Glennan was appointed as the first administrator.

U.S Launches Explorer 1 Satellite

In January, the United States had launched the Explorer 1 Satellite. It was the first satellite launched by the United States following the release of Soviet Union’s Sputnik, which was the world’s first satellite, launched in October the previous year. Explorer 1 was launched to measure radiation existing in the earth’s orbit. It before re-entering the atmosphere in 1970, orbited earth over 58,000 times, which made it a successful project and a direct competitor to the Soviet Union.


The Munich Air Disaster

The Munich Air Disaster took place on February 6, 1958. The incident involved a flight of British European Airways crashing at the Munich airport. The flight crashed soon after it took off, killing 23 people out of 44.  Furthermore, 8 individuals amongst them were the members of the Manchester United Team. The loss of young players was devastating news for the sports world as well as the fans, who then waited nearly 10 years until the team was rebuild.

Greatest NFL Game Ever Played

On December 28, Baltimore Colts faced New York Giants at the 26th NFL Championship. The Baltimore Colts had scored 23 while the New York Giants had score 17. The game was soon described as the ‘Greatest NFL Game Ever Played’. Furthermore, it was also voted as the best game in 100 years of the league after a nationwide poll was run. This marked the rising popularity of the game. NBC televised the game across the nation and although the greater New York City area was blacked out, it still did not stop the game from reaching out to the masses.


Integrated Circuit/microchip

The integrated circuit is a crucial part of today’s modern technology. What most people are not aware of is that it was created back in 1958 by Jack Kilby who was a newly-hired individual at Texas instruments. Kilby came up with the idea of miniaturizing all the parts of an entire transistor circuit and creating a smaller and easy to make integrated circuit by connecting them. At the time, Kilby was not the first one with the idea but he was the one who made a working model and filed a patent for the technology. This is exactly what our modern computers today rely on.


Michael Todd Dies

On March 22, 1958, Elizabeth Taylor’s husband Michael Todd was a victim of a plane crash, which claimed his life. The cause of the incident was the failure of the engines. He was on his way to New York to accept the New York Friars Club ‘Showman of the Year’ award. Furthermore, it was mentioned that Todd has paid for the installation of two extra fuel tanks in his aircraft. Before the fatal flight, the two tanks were filled to their capacity, causing the aircraft to become overweight.

Alan Freed resigns from WINS radio

In May 1958, Alan Freed and WINS radio had parted ways due to a riot that had taken place at his rock ‘n’ roll show. The resignation came as a surprise as Freed had nothing wrong. The incidents that resulted in riots involved the non-radio activities of Alan Freed. However, he was later hired by WABC radio where he would host six-nights a week show.

Dick Clark creates a storm

In 1958, ABC had added ‘The Dick Clark Show’ in their Saturday’s lineup. The show was a huge success as it successfully garnered over 20 million viewers. He would invite different artists to the show who would sing songs and perform. He was termed as ‘America’s youngest Starmaker’. It was estimated that his show had an audience of 50 million.

Final Word

This concludes our review of pop culture for the year 1958. With so many iconic moments taking place, now you know why it was a golden period. Thanks to the fans, the movies, actors, and music of the time are still preserved. You simply cannot delete them from your memory. Known as the year of ‘charm’, every pop moment occurring in 1958 was bound to become a part of history. Therefore, if a certain ratio of people prefers pop culture of that time, you should know, it would be all for the right reasons.

Related posts: