1951 Fun Facts, Trivia & History

1951 Fun Facts, Trivia & History

Quick Facts from 1951

  • TV Ratings: In 1951, the first year Nielsen released television ratings, the most-watched series was Texaco Star Theater, with a 61.6 rating. The 2017 winner (Sunday Night Football) scored only 12.2.
  • Influential Songs include Be My Love by Mario Lanza and Cry by Johnnie Ray.
  • The Movies to Watch include The African Queen, Scrooge (A Christmas Carol), The Day The Earth Stood Still, Kon Tiki, A Streetcar Named Desire, and Show Boat.
  • The Most Famous Person in America was probably John Wayne.
  • Notable books include The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger and The Revolt of Mamie Stover by William Bradford Huie.
  • Price of children’s pair of ‘Howdy Doody’ slippers in 1951: $1.99
  • US Life Expectancy: Males: 65.6 years, Females: 71.4 years
  • The Funny Guy was Milton Berle
    The Funny TV Lady: Lucille Ball
    The Funniest TV Duo: Sid Caesar and Imogene Coca
  • The Crazy Conspiracy: J.D. Salinger did not write Catcher in the Rye; the CIA did as a brainwashing instrument. Noted celebrity killers Mark David Chapman (John Lennon), John Hinckley (Ronald Reagan, survived), Robert Bardo (Rebecca Schaeffer), as Lee Harvey Oswald all supposedly recently read or had the book with them while committing their evil actions.

Top Ten Baby Names of 1951

Linda, Mary, Patricia, Deborah, Barbara, James, Robert, John, Michael, David

Fashion Icons and Sex Symbols

Lauren Bacall, Martine Carol, Dorothy Dandridge, Doris Day, Diana Dors, Ava Gardner, Rita Hayworth, Grace Kelly, Eartha Kitt, Marilyn Monroe, Jane Russell, Elizabeth Taylor, Lana Turner

Sex Symbols and Hollywood Hunks

Marlon Brando, Humphrey Bogart, Montgomery Clift

Oscars: 23rd Academy Awards

The 23rd edition of the Academy Awards happened on March 29, 1951, at the RKO Pantages Theatre in Hollywood. Fred Astaire charmed as the host of the event. The night it belonged to All About Eve, which tied the record for the most nominations (14) and won six awards, including Best Picture. Jose Ferrer won Best Actor for Cyrano de Bergerac, becoming the first Hispanic actor to win an Academy Award. The Best Actress award went to Judy Holliday for Born Yesterday.

Emmy Awards: 3rd Primetime Emmy Awards

Fast forward to the 3rd Primetime Emmy Awards, which occurred on February 15, 1951, at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles. Walter O’Keefe was the host. One notable winner was The Alan Young Show, bagging the Best Variety Show trophy. Robert Montgomery was awarded Most Outstanding Kinescoped Personality, a title that makes you appreciate how far television technology has come.

Both ceremonies were a testament to the ever-expanding scope of motion picture and television artistry. The Oscars had an eligibility period from January 1, 1950, to December 31, 1950. Meanwhile, the Emmy Awards, still in their infancy, didn’t yet have a standardized eligibility period and were still primarily recognizing shows produced in the Los Angeles area.

“The Quotes:”

“Gort! Klaatu barada nikto!”
– Patricia Neal in The Day the Earth Stood Still

“I have always depended on the kindness of strangers”
– Vivien Leigh, in A Streetcar Named Desire

“Stella! Hey, Stella!”
– Marlon Brando, in A Streetcar Named Desire

Time Magazine’s Man of the Year

Mohammed Mossadegh

Miss America

Yolande Betbeze (Mobile, AL)

1951 Pop Culture Facts & History

MLB’s Joe DiMaggio had a 56-game hitting streak.

In 1951, MGM owed the dog who played Lassie $40,000 in back pay. Not planning any more Lassie movies, MGM gave the rights to the Lassie trademark to the dog’s trainer, who spun it off into a TV show that ran for 19 seasons.

Clarence Karcher and Eugene McDermott renamed their ‘Geophysical Service Inc” to Texas Instruments.

Ike Turner, the ex-husband of Tina Turner, recorded what is considered by many to be the first rock and roll song, Rocket 88 (credited to Jackie Brenston and his Delta Cats, who were Ike Turner’s Kings of Rhythm).

1951 introduced the world to Tupperware parties, although the products were first available in 1946. 1947 saw the development of the soft-burping Tupperware seal.

UPI photographer Arthur Sasse asked Albert Einstein to smile, but instead, he stuck his tongue out, creating the famous photo. Leo Strauss coined the term ‘Reductio ad Hitlerum’ to describe the fallacy of trying to refute an opponent’s argument by comparing it to a view that Hitler or the Nazis would hold.

Eddie Gaedel, a dwarf, became the shortest person in MLB history when he went up to bat a single time. His jersey number was 1/8. He was released from the team the following day.

Joe Gold opened the first ‘Gold’s Gym’ in New Orleans. Things didn’t work out, but he started again in Venice, California, in 1965. The second time was the charm.

The first production car with power steering was the 1951 Chrysler Imperial.

The standard set for Compact Discs to hold 74 minutes of audio was made so that one disc could have Wilhelm Furtwangler’s recording of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 from the 1951 Bayreuth Festival.

The actor credited for performing in the most movies for a long time was Oliver Hardy, of Laurel and Hardy fame, with a record 417 movies between 1914 and 1951.

The first sex-change operation was performed in Denmark. George William Jorgensen, Jr. was transformed into Christine Jorgensen.

“The World’s First Porn Star” was 16-year-old Candy Barr (Juanita Slusher) starring in a silent porn film called Smart Alec.
“Only when my hunger was gone could I think straight. But I was still too young to understand what I had done fully,” Barr told Playboy Magazine. “I’m still sick with shame over what I did, but when you’re (young) and all alone and your insides are crying for food, you can’t always figure out right from wrong.”

Eric Morley organized a bikini contest as part of the Festival of Britain, and it was intended as a promotion for the recently introduced bikini, which was widely regarded as immodest. It then became an annual event called the Miss World Competition.

The movie Distant Drums contains the first known instance of “The Wilhelm Scream” (a sound effect of a man screaming, since used in hundreds of other films and television shows).

Le Bal Oriental was a costume ball held in Venice and was considered the “party of the century.” Hosted by Count  “Charlie” Beistegui, a thousand guests attended, including Salvador Dali, Christian Dior, & Orson Wells.

Hallmark’s Hall of Fame is the longest prime-time running TV show in history. It has been on several networks but has continued without interruption and has won over 80 Emmys.

It was this year, 1951, that Lillian Vernon started mailing her catalogs.

Most of the cast and crew of the film classic The African Queen suffered from dysentery while shooting on location in Uganda. Only Humphrey Bogart remained healthy because he drank more whiskey than water.

The school board of Logan, Utah, forced 7th graders to get tattoos of their blood type in case they were injured during a nuclear war. #ouch

The 1951 Boston Marathon was the first post-World War II athletic competition to invite Japanese athletes. Shigeki Tanaka, a Japanese citizen, won it.

Alfred “Teen” Blackburn (April 26, 1842 – March 8, 1951) was the last Confederate Civil War veteran and former slave.

Two different comic strips appeared, called “Dennis The Menace,” on March 12; Dennis UK became Dennis and Gnasher. Neither author was aware of the other’s existence. They were created by Hank Ketcham in America and David Law in Britain.

The Explorers Club in NYC hosted a dinner featuring meat from a woolly mammoth.

J.D. Salinger’s cultural phenomenon, The Catcher in the Rye, was published.

The Habit

Reading J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye

1st Appearances & 1951’s Most Popular Christmas Gifts, toys, and Presents

Muffin the Mule pull-toy, View-Master* with Disney reels, Scrabble**
*View-Master originally came out in 1939
** Scrabble was released in 1948 but didn’t become a hit until 1951/52

Nobel Prize Winners

Physics – John Cockcroft and Ernest Walton
Chemistry – Edwin McMillan and Glenn T. Seaborg
Physiology or Medicine – Max Theiler
Literature – Pär Lagerkvist
Peace – Léon Jouhaux

Popular and Best-selling Books From 1951

A Woman Called Fancy by Frank Yerby
The Caine Mutiny by Herman Wouk
The Cardinal by Henry Morton Robinson
The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian by C.S. Lewis
The Cruel Sea by Nicholas Monsarrat
The Foundling by Cardinal Spellman
From Here to Eternity by James Jones
Joy Street by Frances Parkinson Keyes
Melville Goodwin, U.S.A. by John P. Marquand
Moses by Sholem Asch
Return to Paradise by James A. Michener
The Revolt of Mamie Stover by William Bradford Huie
The Wanderer by Mika Waltari

Broadway Show

The King and I (Musical) Opened on March 29, 1951, and closed: on March 20, 1954

Oscar Best Picture

All About Eve (presented in 1951)

1951 Most Popular TV Shows

1. Texaco Star Theatre (NBC)
2. Arthur Godfrey’s Talent Scouts (CBS)
3. I Love Lucy (CBS)
4. The Red Skelton Show (NBC)
5. The Colgate Comedy Hour (NBC)
6. Arthur Godfrey and his Friends (CBS)
7. Fireside Theatre (NBC)
8. Your Show of Shows (NBC)
9. The Jack Benny Show (CBS)
10. You Bet Your Life (NBC)

1951 Billboard Number One Songs

December 16, 1950 – March 2, 1951:
The Tennessee Waltz – Patti Page

March 3March 9:
If – Perry Como

March 10April 20:
Be My Love – Mario Lanza

April 21June 22:
How High The Moon – Les Paul & Mary Ford

June 23July 27:
Too Young – Nat King Cole

July 28September 7:
Come On-A My House – Rosemary Clooney

September 8November 2:
Because Of You – Tony Bennett

November 3November 16:
Cold, Cold Heart – Tony Bennett

November 17December 28:
Sin (It’s No Sin) – Eddy Howard

December 29, 1951 – March 14, 1952:
Cry – Johnny Ray


World Series Champions: New York Yankees
NFL Champions: Los Angeles Rams
NBA Champions: Rochester Royals
Stanley Cup Champs: Toronto Maple Leafs
U.S. Open Golf Ben Hogan
U.S. Tennis: (Men/Ladies) Frank Sedgman/Maureen Connolly
Wimbledon (Men/Women): Dick Savitt/Doris Hart
NCAA Football Champions: Tennessee
NCAA Basketball Champions: Kentucky
Kentucky Derby: Count Turf

More 1951 Facts & History Resources:

BabyBoomers.com (1951)
Most Popular Baby Names (BabyCenter.com)
Popular and Notable Books (popculture.us)
Broadway Shows that Opened in 1951X
1951 Calendar, courtesy of Time and Date.com
Fact Monster
Fifties Web (1951)
1950s, Infoplease.com World History
1951 in Movies (according to IMDB)
Retrowaste Vintage Culture
1951 Television
1950s Slang
1950 US Census Fast Facts
Wikipedia 1951