Notes for the 1950s

1950    Official census shows U.S. population at 150,000,000.


1950    George Mikan (former DePaul University all-American) and the Minneapolis Lakers win their first NBA championship.


1950    U.S.A. & UN back South Korea following communist invasion - 60,000 reservists called up to active duty.


1950    Korean War involves many nations - General Douglas MacArthur & UN troops push Communists back toward the northern border. Most of the UN troops are from U.S. and South Korea.


1950    “Peanuts” comic strip, featuring Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Lucy, & Linus, makes its debut on October 2nd.


1950 – Ted Williams is baseball’s highest paid player, earning $125,000 a year.


1950 – Boston Celtics become the first team in the NBA to integrate, signing Charles Cooper to a contract. Boston Red Sox are MLB’s last team to integrate in 1959.

1951    22nd amendment is ratified – which limits U.S. Presidents to two terms in office.


1951    Insubordination costs MacArthur his job - President Truman relieves the general of his command and replaces him with General Matthew Ridgeway.


1951    American television audiences love Lucy. “I Love Lucy” becomes the top situation comedy of the early 1950s.


1951    Amount of appropriated funds for Marshall Plan tops $12 billion.


1951 – Veins from the leg are used in surgery to replace damaged vessels in other parts of the body.


1952 – The first full-length 3-D movie is released.


1952 – Heart attack victim is revived for the first time using electric shock.


1952 - Searle Laboratories develop the first birth control pill. Extensive testing done on 15,000 volunteers in Puerto Rico.


1952    Republican candidate Dwight Eisenhower defeats Democratic senator Adlai Stevenson in presidential election.


1952    MAD magazine make its debut.


1952    Decathlete Bob Mathias, boxer Floyd Patterson, and U.S. basketball team star in Summer Olympics hosted by Helsinki, Finland.


1953    McDonald’s goes nationwide - adopts the golden arches as their logo.


1953    Julius & Ethel Rosenberg are executed for selling atomic secrets to Soviets.


1953    Playboy magazine makes its debut -Marilyn Monroe is first centerfold Sweetheart of the Month.


1953    Korean War draws to a close - truce line is set at 38th parallel.


1953 – Chevrolet introduces its latest model – a sports car, the Corvette.


1954 – Miss America pageant is televised for the first time.


1954 – The U.S. Navy launches its first nuclear submarine, the Nautilus.


1954 – Surgeons for the first time perform open heart surgery.


1954    Dr. Jonas Salk discovers polio vaccine - 21,000 cases of polio reported in U.S. in the previous year, 1953.


1954    Brown vs. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas becomes landmark court case. It overturns Plessy vs. Ferguson, which allowed segregated school facilities.   


1954    Interstate highway bill passes by congress – signed into law by President Eisenhower it creates a nationwide highway system.


1955    Congress establishes a new minimum wage for the country - $1.00 an hour.


1955    Walt Disney converts orange groves into huge family amusement park. Disneyland opens in Anaheim, California.


1955    Backed by the NAACP, Rosa Parks actions spur successful bus boycott in Montgomery, Alabama.


1955    Screen star James Dean dies in auto accident in California.


1955 – Ford introduces its latest model, a two-seater called the Thunderbird.


1955 – NBA introduces the 24-second shot clock. Pre-shot clock games were slow and boring. Example: Ft. Wayne 19 – Minneapolis 18. Post-shot clock example: Boston 173 – Minneapolis 139. (Record: Detroit Pistons 186- Denver Nuggets 184, December 13, 1983 - 3OT)


1955 – Doctors perform the first successful kidney transplant.


1956    Elvis Presley, a young rock-a-billy artist from Tupelo, Mississippi makes a smash debut in the world of Rock and Roll.


1956    Yankee pitcher Don Larsen pitches perfect game in World Series vs. Brooklyn Dodgers – allows no hits, not runs, no walks, and no errors. Yankees win 2-0.


 1956   Eisenhower wins bid for re-election defeating Adlai Stevenson again.


1956    Soviets out duel U.S. for medals at Summer Olympics in Melbourne, Australia. Medal count: Soviet Union 99 – United States 74.


1956    Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) formed in Atlanta. Martin Luther King Jr. becomes best know of its leaders.


1957    US Army troops are brought in to assist with the integration of Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas. 9 African-American students are escorted to school and between classes.


1957    Soviets launch first satellite (Sputnik) into space. American scientists scramble to catch up as “Space Race” begins.


1957 – Wham-O introduces two successful products: the Frisbee and the Hula Hoop.


1957 – American Bandstand, with host Dick Clark, airs for the first time.


1958 – CBS and other studios drop their quiz shows from their programming line-up because of the Quiz Show scandal, in which contestants were given answers before going on the air.


1958 – Pizza Hut opens its first restaurant.


1958    Congress allots millions to create National Aeronautics & Space Agency (NASA).    


1959    Alaska & Hawaii become the 49th and 50th states respectively.


1959    Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, J.P. Richardson die in plane crash 2/3/59 “The day the music died."


1959 – The first Barbie dolls are sold.


1959 – Xerox introduces its first commercial photocopy machine.