Pop Culture in Review for the Year 1964

Pop Cultures are a series of different ways in which voice to the public is given through different types of media and events happening in the surroundings which include films, technology, sports, television, news, and other important aspects. Each time has its own pop culture which is ultimately shaping how people live in the future. The year 1964 pop culture is also considered as one of the important ones.

Take a look at some of the most interesting events and pop culture highlights of 1964.


Below are some of the highlights of the Hollywood film industry of 1964. It was quite an unexpected year for Hollywood.

  • First Film of The Beatles Released

The famous brand, The Beatles, released their first official film this year. The film was called A Hard Day’s Night. It was a musical comedy film which was directed by Richard Lesler with the main stars of the film as the crew of Beatles the band. The film is basically a portrayal of how lives of the group go on in 36 hours. The story was written by Alun Owen and originally released by United Artists.

Although, the film did not gain much initial success, but it was considered successful forty years after its release. Times Magazine considered it among the top 100 of all-time great films.  British critic Leslie Halliwell gave the film a full star rating. British film institute gave it the rank of 88th Greatest British Film of the 20th Century.

  • Death of Alan Ladd

Perhaps one of the saddest events in Hollywood is the death of the famous actor Alan Ladd. Alan Ladd was an actor who was particularly successful for a number of films such as The Great Gatsby, The Gun for Hire, The Glass Key, and Two Years Before the Mast as well. Throughout his career, the actor made it to the top 15 stars at the Box Office ranking almost every time.

The death of Alan Ladd was accidental, and he died due to overdosing a combination of alcohol with a barbiturate and two tranquilizers on 29th January 1964. The said actor used to take these on medical grounds since he was suffering Chronic Insomnia. His final film was The Carpetbaggers which got much commercial success.


  • Work of Luther Terry

It was the year 1964 in which US Surgeon General Luther Terry confirmed with his profound theory that smoking causes cancer. Throughout his studies, Terry had been providing evidence of negative impacts on human health due to the extensive use of Tobacco and related products. Due to his exceptional efforts in the study, he was ranked as the Surgeon General of the United States.

  • US Planetary Programs

Since NASA was actively pursuing the research towards the moon and other planets and celestial objects, it used to regularly launch its spacecraft for research purposes. Ranger 6 aircraft was launched in the year 1964 and is considered as a significant improvement to the work of NASA for the fact that Ranger 6 took first very close satellite images of the moon. It carried different types of television cameras and crash landed on the moon.

The experience with Ranger 6 is much successful as it was able to take more than 4300 pictures before crash landing on the moon.

  • Focus on Heart Diseases

Year 1964 is significant for the work done on the different types of heart diseases which further led to the development of studies. It is important because the first ever heart transplantation on a human using a chimpanzee heart was conducted in this year This was conducted by U.S. surgeon James D. Hardy on Boyd Rush. However, problems arose within few arose and the patient had a cardiac arrest leading to death. Although, it was still of much importance because the heart functioned well for the first 90 minutes following the surgery.

The first ever angioplasty was also done in this year on a superficial femoral artery by U.S. interventional radiologist Charles Dotter. For his exceptional work in the field, he is now known as the Father of Interventional Radiology.

  • Clinical Breakthrough for HIV / AIDS

In the year 1964, Jerome Horwitz was the man behind developing Zidovudine, an antiviral medication that was later on used to treat patients with HIV. Although, he initially developed it for the treatment of cancer but later used it for HIV.  In the same year, Horwitz also produced and demonstrated the use of X-gal as chromogenic substrate for further improvements in molecular biology.


  • Summer Olympics 1964

The Summer Olympics of 1964 was one of the major sporting events of the year hosted in Tokyo Japan from 10th October to 24th October. These were the first ever Olympic games which were held in an Asian economy. A total of 93 nations participated which is why it was considered one of the largest events of the Olympics. The United States was able to get the most number of gold medals while the Soviet Union was able to get the most number of overall medals.

These Olympic games are considered to be the first ones to have color telecasts. North Korea, China, and Indonesia decided to not attend any of the Summer Olympics because of issues with GANEFO (Games of New Emerging Forces).

  • Golf 1964

Just like the previous years, Golf remained highly popular in the United States as well as other parts of the world too. However, the results were not like last year and varied a lot. Last year, it was Arnold Palmer winning multiple championships while this time he won the Masters Tournament only while the new PGA money leader for men’s golf also changed to Jack Nicklaus who earned over $110,000 in one season. The US Open was won by Ken Venturi.

For Women’s golf, Mickey Wright sustained her title of the LPGA Tour money leader with earnings over $29,000. Wright also won the US Women’s Open while the Women’s Western Open was won by Carol Mann.

  • Ups and downs in Baseball

There were various events in 1954 for Baseball as a sport. Early in the year on February 15th, professional baseball player Ken Hubbs died in a plane crash shortly before the season began. He was a player of the Chicago Cubs.

It was a bad year for the New York Mits who faced multiple losses. The first one was a major game against the Pittsburgh Pirates in the brand new Shea Stadium. On June 21, New York Mets faced another loss against Philadelphia Phillies who won a game of 6-0. The World Series was also not in the favor of New York’s team as St. Louis Cardinals won against New York Yankees with a game ratio of 4 wins against 3.


Mary Poppins

In 1964, pop culture was mostly impacted by two of the highly successful music films along with a few other events.

  • Mary Poppins

The film Mary Poppins was released as a musical fantasy film with the direction under Robert Stevenson and production company being Walt Disney. The film was so successful that it was nominated for 13 Academy Awards of which it won 5. These include Best Actress for Andrews, Best Film Editing, Best Original Music Score, Best Visual Effects, and Best Original Song for “ChimChim Cher-ee”

The film starred Julie Andrews, Dick Van Dyke, and David Tomlinson. With a budget of $6 million, it became the most grossing film of the year and earned a massive sum of $103 million. It is also preserved by the National Film Registry for being aesthetically important.

  • My Fair Lady

Another American musical drama film which was adapted on George Bernard Shaw’s Stage play was released this year. My Fair Lady was directed by George Cukor. The film revolves around a poor flower seller who comes across a professor that agrees to teach her to speak an appropriate level of English.

The film starred Audrey Hepburn and Rex Harrison. Winning 8 Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Actor, it became the second greatest film of the year. The American film institute considers it to be the 91st greatest American film of all times.

  • Popularity for Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan was a folk singer and has stayed as an important figure of the pop culture of America for more than 50 years. His songs in 1964 were significantly important because they were used for social injustice, civil rights, and anti-war movements. He expressed his concerns from the American society through a range of different types of protests as well. His songs are influential. Rolling Stone said that no other pop song has been so thoroughly challenged and transformed the commercial laws of its time.


  • The Addams Family

The Addams Family was a fictional household that was created as a cartoon by Charles Addams. The famous television series was created byDavid Levy and Donald Saltzman and was shot in black and white initially. The first season of The Addams family was from September 18, 1964 to April 8, 1966 with 64 episodes. The show was quite successful and received multiple Saturn Awards and American Comedy Award Nominations as well. The show was started again after a few years.


Alaska Earthquake 1964

  • Alaska Earthquake 1964

The Alaskan earthquake of 1964 is considered as the most powerful and violent earthquake in the history of North America. The Great Alaskan earthquake was on Friday, March 27 which resulted in more than 125 deaths as well as collapsing tall towers and buildings while tsunamis also erupted. The earthquake lasted for four minutes and thirty-eight second with a magnitude of 9.2. The city of Anchorage sustained the most damage and destruction with destruction of many earthquake engineered houses. It was one of the worst events of the year.

  • The Warren Report Published

A year after the terrible attack on the 35th President of the United States, John F. Kennedy, The Warren Report was published. This report concluded that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone in the killing of the President while Jack Ruby was convicted as the murderer of Lee Oswald. The report was considered controversial at the beginning but was approved later on.

  • Nelson Mandela Jailed

An important event of the year was that Nelson Mandela, revolutionary political leader and philanthropist was jailed. He, along with 7 others, was imprisoned for a lifetime and spent more than 27 years in prison after which he was released due to international pressure and became the President of South Africa as well. He was jailed for allegedly conspiring to overthrow the state following the Rivonia Trial.

Dance and Fashion

  • Changing Trends

Dance and Fashion were both changing in the year 1964. Newer kinds of dances such as The Jerk and The Hully Gully were introduced which were usually danced in the casual events. Novelty and fad dances also gained popularity in the year 1964 for a short period of time.

Fashion changes were there as women were adopting modern clothing which not only included tighter clothes but also included the different types of miniskirts as well. Pillbox hats also got popular in 1964.


1964 was a major year of change in the popular culture of the United States as well as the other parts of the world. The above-mentioned highlights of pop culture in 1964 clearly show how there has been a cultural impact on the modern-day happenings. With major improvements in technology, 1964 marks an important year for modern day medical treatments as well.

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