1950 Fun Facts, Trivia & History

1950 Fun Facts, Trivia, and History

Quick Facts from 1950

  • World Changing Event: Pope Pius XII confirmed there was no conflict between Christianity and the theory of evolution, and the Church officially supported the idea of theistic evolution.
  • The immortal cancer cells collected from patient Henrietta Lacks months before her 1950 death are still alive and being used today for research.
  • Influential Songs include Goodnight, Irene by The Weavers with Gordon Jenkins, Daddy’s Little Girl by The Mills Brothers, and Here Comes Peter Cottontail by Gene Autry.
  • The Movies to Watch include Father of the Bride, Harvey, All About Eve, Sunset Boulevard, Rio Grande, The Asphalt Jungle, and Cinderella.
  • The Most Famous Person in America was probably John Wayne.
  • Notable books include The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis and Kon-Tiki: Across the Pacific in a Raft by Thor Heyerdahl.
  • Minimum Wage in 1950: 75 cents per hour
    Stromberg-Carlson TV: $279.95
  • Did You Know? Since 1950, acceptance of an Academy Award statuette requires that neither winners nor their heirs may sell the statuettes without first offering to sell them back to the Academy for $1. If a winner refuses to agree to this stipulation, then the Academy keeps the statuette.
  • The Funny Guy was Milton Berle
    The Funniest TV Duo: Sid Caesar and Imogene Coca
  • FBI’s “10 Most Wanted Fugitives” program began.
  • The US Army rank of 5 Star General is still considered an active rank, although no one has attained that rank since 1950 when Omar Bradley held it.
  • Take our 1950 Quiz!

Top Ten Baby Names of 1950

Linda, Mary, Patricia, Barbara, Susan, Nancy, Deborah, Sandra, Carol, Kathleen
James, Robert, John, Michael, David, William, Richard, Thomas, Charles, Gary

US Statistics, 1950

US Life Expectancy: (1950) Males, 65.6 Females, 71.1
Federal spending: 
$42.56 billion
Federal debt $256.9 billion
Consumer Price Index: $24.1
Unemployment: 5.9%
A Gallon of Gas: 18 cents
Cost of a first-class stamp: $0.03

Fashion Icons and Sex Symbols

Lauren Bacall, Martine Carol, Doris Day, Ava Gardner, Rita Hayworth, Eartha Kitt, Marilyn Monroe, Jane Russell, Elizabeth Taylor, Lana Turner

Sex Symbols and Hollywood Hunks

Humphrey Bogart, Montgomery Clift, Gregory Peck

Oscars: 22nd Academy Awards

The 22nd Academy Awards took place on March 23, 1950, at the RKO Pantages Theatre in Hollywood. Paul Douglas served as the host for the evening. The film All the King’s Men dominated the ceremony, winning Best Picture, Best Actor for Broderick Crawford, and Best Supporting Actress for Mercedes McCambridge. Olivia de Havilland took home the Best Actress award for The Heiress. An interesting trivia nugget is that this was the first year that all five Best Picture nominees were in color. Also, this was the final year that the Best Sound category was open to original musicals only.

Emmy Awards: 2nd Primetime Emmy Awards

The second Primetime Emmy Awards were held on January 27, 1950, at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles. Bill Welsh served as host. The ceremony broadened its scope by recognizing achievements in various genres, such as drama and comedy, but still primarily focused on local Los Angeles programming. One of the significant winners was The Life of Riley, starring Jackie Gleason, which won for Best New Program. Alan Young won the Most Outstanding Personality category, making him the first actor to receive a Primetime Emmy for acting.

For the Oscars, the eligibility period was January 1, 1949, to December 31, 1949. The Emmys still centered mainly around Los Angeles area programming without a strict eligibility window.

“The Quotes:”

“Most human beings have an almost infinite capacity for taking things for granted.”
– Aldous Huxley

“Fasten your seat belts. It’s going to be a bumpy night.”
– Betty Davis, in All About Eve

“All right, Mr. DeMille, I’m ready for my close-up.”
“I am big! It’s the pictures that got small.”
– Gloria Swanson, in Sunset Boulevard

Willie Sutton robbed Manufacturers Bank of $64,000 in NYC. Urban legend says that when asked why he robbed banks, he said “Because that’s where the money is.”

Time Magazine’s Man of the Year

The American Fighting-Man (Korean War Troops)

Miss America



James Dean made his first appearance in a Pepsi commercial. #pepsibounce

Minute Rice appeared on the shelves for the first time.

A payment was first made by the prototype Diners Club Card at Majors Cabin Grill restaurant in New York City (the first use of a charge card). Cards became available for others on May 13, 1950.

The First TV remote control, Lazy Bones by Zenith, was sold.

Marion Donovan invented disposable diapers.

Darlington Raceway in South Carolina was the site of the inaugural Southern 500, the first 500-mile NASCAR race.

The first metal lunchbox featuring Hopalong Cassidy was produced by Aladdin (the company, NOT the 1001 Arabian Nights hero).

Corn Pops debuted in 1950 as ‘Corn Pops’. The name changed twice in 1951 to ‘Sugar Corn Pops’ then ‘Sugar Pops’. In 1978, it changed back to ‘Sugar Corn Pops’, then finally back to the original ‘Corn Pops’ in 1984. In 2006, it became ‘Pops’ and then back to ‘Corn Pops’ a few months later.

Green plastic garbage bags, made from polyethylene, were invented by Harry Wasylyk.

Bell Laboratories created a Telephone Answering Machine.

John Hopps invented the world’s first cardiac pacemaker. It was larger than life and had to be used outside the body of the first recipient.

Mort Walker created the comic strip Beetle Bailey.

Racing pioneer C.J. Hart was credited with creating the first commercial drag racing strip on the runway of the Orange County Airport in Santa Ana, California on June 19.

If I Ran the Zoo by Dr. Seuss, published in 1950, is the first recorded instance of the word “nerd.”

1950 Pop Culture Facts & History

The transistor was patented (#US 2,524,035) by William Shockley for Bell Labs.

Kathryn Johnston became the first girl to play Little League baseball in 1950 when she tucked her hair under her hat, renamed herself “Tubby”, and joined the Kings Dairy team, posing as a boy. When she told her coach she was a girl, he said “That’s O.K., you’re a darned good player.”

Earl Lloyd became the first African-American to play a game in the NBA.

The Barrier played at the Broadhurst Theatre (Nov 02, 1950 – Nov 04, 1950) for 4 performances. It is a race-based drama about a single day in the 1950s in rural Georgia.

7UP originally contained lithium citrate, a mood-stabilizing drug, until 1950.

An articulate man (and snazzy dresser), Mr. Sutton later said he never said it, although the statement was true. “Why did I rob banks? Because I enjoyed it. I loved it. I was more alive inside a bank, robbing it, than at any other time. I enjoyed everything about it so much that one or two weeks later, I’d be out looking for the next job. But to me, the money was the chips, that’s all.”

An estimated 50% of all American films made before 1950 and over 90% of films made before 1929 are lost forever.

Mother Teresa founded Missionaries of Charity in Calcutta, India.

Smokey Bear was a real bear who was rescued from a forest fire and later became a living mascot for wildfire prevention.

Groundbreaking Your Show of Shows with Sid Caesar & Imogene Coca premiered on NBC.

Radio’s Grand Ole Opry was broadcast on TV for 1st time

On February 15, Walt Disney released Cinderella.

Peter Pan opened at the Imperial Theater NYC for 320 performances.

Your Hit Parade premiered on NBC (later CBS).

Arthur Murray Party premiered on ABC TV (later DuMont, CBS, then NBC)

Crusader Rabbit, the first animated TV series, debuted.

The first printing of C.S. Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe was released in London.

I Robot,  a collection of sci-fi short stories by Isaac Asimov, was published.

Ranch Dressing originated from The Hidden Valley Dude Ranch in 1950 in Santa Barbara, California.

The Myxoma Virus (a type of poxvirus) was deliberately released into the rabbit population in Australia as a means of population control, causing the death of over 500 million rabbits.

The US Navy sprayed San Francisco with “harmless” bacteria to simulate a biological attack. The not-so-harmless bacteria caused a spike in a rare UTI, killing one man. There were many unusually high reports of increased pneumonia and urinary tract infections. A lawsuit against the government was rejected because the government-held legal immunity.

The Tollund Man, a mummified body from the 4th Century, was found in Denmark.

The modern-day “pirate accent” we know comes from Robert Newton’s portrayal of Long John Silver in the 1950 Disney adaptation of Treasure Island. Before that, there was no universal “pirate accent.” #arrrrh

The Great Brink’s Robbery: Eleven thieves stole over $2 million from the Brink’s armored car company headquarters in Boston, Massachusetts. The thieves were all caught, and Only $58,000 was recovered.

After the Empire State Building opened in New York City in 1931, much of its office space went unrented. It was nicknamed the “Empty State Building” by New Yorkers and didn’t become profitable until 1950.

The first Volkswagen Type 2 (aka the Microbus) rolls off the assembly line in Wolfsburg, Germany.

The 1950 toy lab set “Gilbert U-238 Atomic Energy Laboratory” contained uranium ore, polonium, a Geiger counter, and a cloud chamber.

L. Ron Hubbard published Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health.

In South Africa, the Group Areas Act was passed, formally segregating races.

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) began operations.

Cold War

January 12 – American Secretary of State Dean Acheson delivered his ‘Perimeter Speech,’ outlining the boundary of US security guarantees.

January 21 – Communist spy Alger Hiss was convicted on two counts of perjury.

January 30, 1950 – President Harry S. Truman ordered the development of the hydrogen bomb in response to the detonation of the Soviet Union’s first atomic bomb

February 8, 1950 -The Stasi was founded in East Germany and acted as secret police until 1990.

February 9 – In his speech to the Republican Women’s Club at the McClure Hotel in Wheeling, West Virginia, Senator Joseph McCarthy accused the United States Department of State of being filled with 205 Communists.

February 14 – The Soviet Union and the People’s Republic of China signed a mutual defense treaty.

March 1 – Klaus Fuchs was convicted in London of spying against both Britain and the United States for the Soviet Union by giving to the latter top-secret atomic bomb data.

June 17, 1950 – Julius Rosenberg was arrested on suspicion of espionage, based on David Greenglass’s confession. On August 11, 1950, Ethel Rosenberg was arrested.

July 4, 1950 – The first broadcast by Radio Free Europe.

September 8 – The Defense Production Act was enacted into law in the United States.

Korean & Vietnam Wars:
January 1 Ho Chi Minh started the offensive against French troops in Indo-China.

On KoKoMay 21, Vietnamese troops of Ho Chi-Minh attacked Cambodia.

June 25, 1950 – The Korean War began its three-year conflict when troops of North Korea, backed with Soviet weaponry, invaded South Korea. The United States sent support to South Korea 2 days later.

June 27, 1950 – Thirty-five military advisors were sent to South Vietnam to give military and economic aid to the anti-Communist government.

Jun 28 – The North Koreans captured Seoul.

Private Kenneth Shadrick was the first U.S. casualty of the Korean War on July 5, 1950.

July 7 – The UN Security Council established the United Nations Command to combat North Korean forces

July 8, 1950 -General Douglas MacArthur was named commander-in-chief of UN forces in Korea

November 26, 1950 – United Nations forces retreated south toward the 38th parallel when Chinese Communist forces opened a counteroffensive in the Korean War.

December 19 – Tibet’s Dalai Lama fled the Chinese invasion.


March 9: Willie Sutton robbed Manufacturers Bank of $64,000 in NYC. Urban legend says that when asked why he robbed banks, he said, “Because that’s where the money is.”
(not really, but the quote is often attributed to him)

1950 FBI’s “10 Most Wanted Fugitives”:
#1. Thomas James Holden
#2. Morley Vernon Kong
#3. William Nesbit
#4. Henry Randolph Mitchell
#5. Omar August Pinson
#6. Lee Emory Downs
#7. Orba Elmer Jackson
#8. Glen Roy Wright
#9. Henry Harland Shelton
#10. Morris Guralnick
Willie Sutton was number 11.


The average worker in the US today would only have to work 11 hours per week to be as productive as the 40 Hours per week worker in 1950.

The Habit

Watching ‘Your Show of Shows’ on television.

1st Appearances & 1950’s Most Popular Christmas Gifts, toys, and presents

Little People and the Safety School Bus, Wooly Willy, official Magic-8 Ball, Silly Putty

Silly Putty was introduced as a toy on March 6, 1950, by Peter Hodgson. But it was invented in 1943 by James Wright, who was working for General Electric while trying to make synthetic rubber for the War Effort – it was in the middle of World War II. Earl Warrick also claimed to have invented it at about the same time.

Silly Putty sold pretty quickly. Kids found uses for it. Mostly making things, then squishing them. Plus, you could copy your favorite comics. In the early 1960s, they started selling internationally, and they even took one into Space in Apollo 8. In 1977, Silly Putty became part of ‘Big Crayon’ when Crayola bought it. Silly Putty entered The National Toy Hall of Fame’s Third class in 2001, along with Tonka Trucks. Silly Putty is still a popular stocking stuffer today.

Nobel Prize Winners

Physics – Cecil Frank Powell
Chemistry – Otto Paul Hermann Diels, Kurt Alder
Medicine – Edward Calvin Kendall, Tadeusz Reichstein, Philip Showalter Hench
Literature – Earl (Bertrand Arthur William) Russell
Peace – Ralph Bunche

Popular and Best-selling Books From 1950

Across the River and Into the Trees by Ernest Hemingway
The Adventurer by Mika Waltari
The Cardinal by Henry Morton Robinson
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
The Disenchanted by Budd Schulberg
The Egyptian – Mika Waltari
Floodtide by Frank Yerby
Joy Street by Frances Parkinson Keyes
Jubilee Trail by Gwen Bristow
The Parasites by Daphne du Maurier
Star Money by Kathleen Winsor
The Wall by John Hersey

Best Picture Oscar

All The King’s Men (presented in 1950)

Broadway Show

Guys and Dolls (Musical) Opened on November 24, 1950, and closed: on November 28, 1953

1950 Most Popular TV Shows

1. Texaco Star Theatre (NBC)
2. Fireside Theatre (NBC)
3. Philco TV Playhouse (NBC)
4. Your Show of Shows (NBC)
5. The Colgate Comedy Hour (NBC)
6. Gillette Cavalcade of Sports (NBC)
7. The Lone Ranger (ABC)
8. Arthur Godfrey’s Talent Scouts (CBS)
9. Hopalong Cassidy (NBC)
10. Mama (NBC)

1950 United States Census

Total US Population: 151,325,798
1. New York, New York – 7,891,957
2. Chicago, Illinois – 3,620,962
3. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania – 2,071,605
4. Los Angeles, California – 1,970,358
5. Detroit, Michigan – 1,849,568
6. Baltimore, Maryland – 949,708
7. Cleveland, Ohio – 914,808
8. St. Louis, Missouri – 856,796
9. Washington, District of Columbia – 802,178
10. Boston, Massachusetts – 801,444


World Series Champions: New York Yankees
NFL Champions: Cleveland Browns
NBA Champions: Minneapolis Lakers
Stanley Cup Champs: Detroit Red Wings
U.S. Open Golf Ben Hogan
U.S. Tennis: (Men/Ladies) Arthur Larsen/Margaret Osborne DuPont
Wimbledon (Men/Women): Budge Patty/Louis Brough
NCAA Football Champions: Oklahoma
NCAA Basketball Champions: CCNY
Kentucky Derby: Middleground

More 1950 Facts & History Resources:

BabyBoomers.com (1950)
Most Popular Baby Names (BabyCenter.com)
Popular and Notable Books (popculture.us)
Broadway Shows that Opened in 1950X
1950 Calendar, courtesy of Time and Date.com
Fact Monster
Fifties Web (1950)
1950s, Infoplease.com World History
1950 in Movies (according to IMDB)
Retrowaste Vintage Culture
1950 Television
1950s Slang
1950 US Census Fast Facts
Wikipedia 1950