What Happened in 1959

January 1: Fidel Castro’s revolutionaries take power in Cuba.

January 2: Soviets’ Lunik1 spacecraft breaks free of Earth’s gravitational pull.

January 3: Alaska becomes the 49th state.

January 25: The first non-stop Jet Airliner flight from Los Angeles to New York is flown by American Airlines with a Boeing 707.

February 03: The Day the Music Died: A plane crash kills rock-and-roll performers Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and The Big Bopper just days after performing at the Capitol Theater in Davenport, IA. (1/29/59)

Mar. 17: Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama, flees Tibet and travels to India.

March 24: Texas Instruments introduces the integrated circuit microchip, paving the way for the first personal computers.

April 9: Mercury program: NASA announces the selection of the United States' first seven astronauts which the news media quickly dub the "Mercury Seven".

April 25: The St. Lawrence Seaway opens linking the North American Great Lakes and the Atlantic Ocean.

May 4: The first Grammy Awards are announced.

Jul. 8: MSGT Charles Ovnand and Maj. Dale R. Buis become the first Americans killed in action in Vietnam.

July 23: Pharmaceutical company, Searle, applies for FDA approval for the birth-control pill.

Aug. 14: Explorer VI sends the first picture of Earth from space.

August 21: Hawaii becomes the 50th state of the union.

September 12: Bonanza premiers. It was the first regularly-scheduled TV program presented in color.

September 14: The Soviet probe Luna 2 crashes onto the Moon, becoming the first man-made object to reach it.

October 5: IBM 1401, first practical business computer, goes on sale.

October 21. Frank Lloyd Wright's Guggenheim Museum, first US art museum dedicated to non-objective art, opens in NY.

November 19: Ford Motor Company discontinues the unpopular Edsel.

December 14: Motown record label is founded in Detroit, MI. Barry Gordy borrowed $800 from his family to buy a studio for it.

December 31: John F. Kennedy prepares to announce his run for the 1960 presidential election.

Other 1959 Information

Obscenity laws are challenged with Lady Chatterley’s Lover and Naked Lunch. Causing its own stir was Goodbye, Columbus.

The “Cold War” escalates with fears of nuclear war and a “missile gap”. There is concern about fallout shelters.

The space race heats up. Khrushchev visits Ike in the United States, arriving the day after the Soviet’s successful Luna 2 trip to the moon.

Racial discrimination in housing, voting, and schools is being investigated by the new US Civil Rights Commission.

42,000,000 American homes have television, some already have 2 sets.

Glen Raven Mills of North Carolina introduced pantyhose.

“Happenings” are introduced and art expands outside the canvas.

Jazz takes great steps in popular culture with hits by icons Dave Brubeck, Miles Davis, Charles Mingus, and John Coltrane.

Princess Phones and Barbie Dolls are brand-new items on the market!

Sport News in 1959

American Football League was formed.

Basketball Hall of Fame opened and the First BB team (1891) was enshrined.

Ernie Banks was named MVP in both 1958 and 1959.

Lee Petty wins the 1st Daytona 500 Race.

My source for some of this information is a newly published book,
1959: The Year Everything Changed
, written by Fred Kaplan.
It was published by John Wiley & Sons, Inc., Hoboken, New Jersey, 2009.


More 1959 Trivia

Top 10 Grossing Movies in 1959

Ben-Hur MGM $56,992,000
Sleeping Beauty* Disney $51,998,000
The Shaggy Dog* Disney $12,317,000
Operation Petticoat Universal $9,322,000
Darby O'Gill and the Little People* Disney $8,336,000
Some Like it Hot United Artists $8,128,000
Pillow Talk Universal $7,670,000
North by Northwest MGM $6,703,000
Imitation of Life Universal $6,418,000
Suddenly, Last Summer Columbia $6,375,000

Popular Music Artists

Elvis Presley
Little Richard
Four Lads
Chuck Berry
Jerry Lee Lewis
Bill Haley & the Comets
Ray Charles
Buddy Holly
Fats Domino
Bobby Darin
Paul Anka
Pat Boone

Song Hits of the Week 1959

Smoke Gets in Your Eyes - The Platters
My Happiness - Connie Francis
The All American Boy - Bill Parsons (Bobby Bare)
Stagger Lee - Lloyd Price
16 Candles - Crests
Donna - Ritchie Valens
Venus - Frankie Avalon
Charlie Brown - The Coasters
Alvin's Harmonica - The Chipmunks
It's Just a Matter of Time - Brook Benton
Come Softly to Me - The Fleetwoods
Pink Shoe Laces - Dodie Stevens
(Now and Then There's) A Fool Such As I Elvis Presley
The Happy Organ - Dave "Baby" Cortez
Sorry (I Ran All The Way Home) - The Impalas
Kansas City - Wilbert Harrison
Battle of New Orleans - Johnny Horton
Quiet Village - Martin Denny
Dream Lover - Bobby Darin
Personality - Lloyd Price
Lonely Boy - Paul Anka
Waterloo - Stonewall Jackson
Tiger - Fabian
My Heart Is An Open Book - Carl Dobkins Jr. A Big Hunk Of Love - Elvis Presley
There Goes My Baby - The Drifters
The Three Bells - The Browns
Sea of Love - Phil Phillips
Lavender Blue - Sammy Turner
I'm Gonna Get Married - Lloyd Price
Sleep Walk - Santo and Johnny
I Kissed You - Everly Brothers
Mack the Knife - Bobby Darin
Put Your Head on My Shoulder - Paul Anka
Teen Beat - Sandy Nelson
Mr. Blue - The Fleetwoods
Don't You Know - Della Reese
Heartaches By The Number - Guy Mitchell
Why - Frankie Avalon
The Big Hurt - Miss Toni Fisher
US - Top Albums 1959

1. Sound of Music - Original Cast
2. The Kingston Trio at Large - Kingston Trio
3. The Music From Peter Gunn - Henry Mancini
4. Here We Go Again - Kingston Trio
5. Heavenly - Johnny Mathis

Top Rated TV Shows from Oct 58-Apr 59

1. Gunsmoke
2. Wagon Train
3. Have Gun Will Travel
4. The Rifleman
5. The Danny Thomas Show
6. Maverick
7. Tales of Wells Fargo
8. The Real McCoys
9. I've Got A Secret
10. The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp
11. The Price Is Right
12. The Red Skelton
13. Zane Grey Theatre
14. Father Knows Best
15. The Texan
16. Wanted: Dead or Alive
17. Peter Gunn
18. Cheyenne
19. Perry Mason
20. The Ford Show
21. Sugarfoot
22. The Ann Sothern Show
23. The Perry Como Show
24. Alfred Hitchcock Presents
25. Name That Tune

What Things Cost in 1959

Car: $2,200
Gasoline: 30 cents/gal
House: $18,500
Bread: 20 cents/loaf
Milk: $1.01/gal
Postage Stamp: 4 cents
Stock Market: 679
Average Annual Salary: $5,500
Minimum Wage: $1.00 per hour

Drive-ins: Our local McDonald’s had 15 cent hamburgers, 10 cent fries, and 20 cent shakes!

Great Stuff Made in the Q-C for over 50 years

Country Style Soft-Serve Ice Cream
Boetje’s Mustard
Lagomarcino’s Candy
Maid-Rite Sandwiches
John Deere Farm Equipment (especially combines!)
Whitey’s Ice Cream

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