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Arizona Memories from the
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Arizona in the '50s. . .
- 87 percent of Arizona voters were Democrats until the ’52 Eisenhower
- When the first home in Biltmore Estates sold for $200,000, it was
- In 1950, Scottsdale was a sleepy rural community of less than 2,000
- The Valley’s first television station, Channel 5/KPHO, went on the
air in 1949, just in time for the new decade. .
- Arizona State College became Arizona State University in 1958.
- KAET's General Manager Charles R. Allen was attending Edison Middle
And in the rest of the world . . .
- It was the decade of flying saucers – an average of 600 sightings
reported each year.
- Kids played with hula hoops and wore Davy Crockett coonskin caps.
- Moviegoers donned cardboard-framed glasses to watch Bwana Devil
- At the height of the Cold War, a commercial home bomb shelter, carpeted
and decorated, was advertised at $1,995.
- The James Dean legend was born when the actor died in a car crash
- Elvis had a number one hit with "Heartbreak Hotel" in
- In 1958, Elvis was drafted.
- Alaska and Hawaii became the 49th and 50th states.
- The Salk Polio vaccine was released in 1955.
- Nautilus, America’s first nuclear-powered submarine, cruised
under the North Pole.
- The first nuclear power plant was approved by the Atomic Energy
- Arnold (Arnie’s Army) Palmer and television boosted interest in
- The New York Yankees won six World Series titles.
- In 1958, investigators revealed that the big-money TV quiz shows
- Appearing on 60 magazine covers, Suzy Parker became America’s first
- The word "egghead" was coined in 1952 to describe Adlai
- Alfred E. Neuman appeared on the cover of Mad magazine as a write-in
candidate for President. His slogan was 'What, Me Worry?'
- Paint by Numbers kits were introduced in 1952 and 12 million
- Chlorophyll, added to everything from toothpaste to dog food, made
things "daisy fresh."
- Reincarnation was big news when a Colorado woman underwent hypnosis
and claimed she was Bridey Murphy, a 19th century Irish
- 20 million people watched TV each day to see Mafia leaders testify
before the Kefauver Committee investigating organized crime.
- The National Political Conventions were televised for the first
time in 1952.
- 1.396 million new homes were built in 1950 – The suburbia boom was
- A new job – babysitter – was created as couples moved away from
- Lawn furniture sales tripled, with pink plastic flamingos a popular
- The first battery-powered electric wristwatch was introduced.
- Washing machine sales doubled and lawnmower sales tripled
- The decade started with 776 Little Leagues and ended with 5,700.
- Frank Lloyd Wright’s controversial Guggenheim Museum opened in 1959.
- Abstract Impressionism was "in" with Jackson Pollock,
Willem DeKooning, Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg.
- By the end of the decade there were 200 symphony orchestras, an
80 percent increase.
- Disneyland opened in 1955.
- Toys introduced in the '50s included: the Barbie doll in 1959, Matchbox
cars in 1954, Davy Crockett merchandise and Play-Doh in '55. The Frisbee
and Hula Hoop debuted in 1957.
- Women’s fashions included pop-it necklaces, crinolines, sack dresses,
short shorts and bikinis. The "in" hairstyle was the poodle
- Men’s fashions included pink shirts, baggy pants and Bermuda shorts.
They wore their hair in crew cuts or duck tails.
- Good things were "real George," "real gone,"
or "the most." What had been "in" was "out,"
then "far out." "Way, way out" was about as "in"
as you could get. And nobody, but nobody, wanted to be "square."
- My Fair Lady, The Music Man, The King & I, The Sound of Music
and West Side Story were playing on Broadway
- The ‘50s started with mellow singers like Frank Sinatra, Perry Como,
Nat "King" Cole, Eddie Fisher, Jo Stafford, Rosemary Clooney,
Patti Page and Peggy Lee and songs like Come On’a My House, Mona
Lisa, Oh My Papa, Doggie in the Window, Mr. Sandman and Chances
Are. Then came rock and roll with Elvis Presley, Bill Haley and
the Comets, Little Richard, and Chuck Berry. By the end of the decade,
teenagers were buying 70 percent of all records sold.
- The first commercial paperback books hit the stores with prices
starting at 25 cents.
- Ann Landers advice column first appeared in 1955.
- Bestsellers included Peyton Place, Marjorie Morningstar, The
Caine Mutiny, The Catcher in the Rye, From Here to Eternity, Dr. Zhivago
- Non-Fiction hits included The Sea Around Us, The Power of Positive
Thinking, Kon Tiki and Gift from the Sea.
- The top new magazines were Mad, Playboy, TV Guide and
- Confidential, the first tabloid, hit the newsstands.
- On TV, people were watching Uncle Miltie, Ed Sullivan, Arthur
Godfrey, Groucho Marx, The Tonight Show with Steve Allen and Jack
Paar, and The Today Show with Dave Garroway. Panel shows like
What’s My Line? I’ve Got a Secret and To Tell the Truth
were popular along with Westerns – Maverick, Gunsmoke, Wagon
Train – and sitcoms – I Love Lucy, Dobie Gillis, Leave it to
Beaver, Ozzie & Harriet and Father Knows Best. Kids
were charmed by Kukla, Fran and Ollie and learned from Ding
Dong School and Mr. Wizard.
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