1952 Fun Facts, Trivia and History

1952 Fun Facts, Trivia and History

Quick Facts from 1952

  • World Changing Event: The first patent for bar code was issued to inventors Joseph Woodland and Bernard Silver.
  • The Bigger World-Changing Event: The United States passed its first-ever hydrogen bomb explosion test, Ivy Mike,  on November 1, 1952, on Enewetak Atoll in the Pacific Ocean.
  • Influential Songs include Your Cheatin’ Heart by Hank Williams, Heart and Soul by The Four Aces, and High Noon (Do Not Forsake Me) by Frankie Laine.
  • The Movies to Watch include The Greatest Show on Earth, Hans Christian Andersen, The Quiet Man, High Noon, Moulin Rouge, The Big Sky, and Singin’ in the Rain.
  • The Most Famous Person in America was probably Gary Cooper.
  • Notable books include Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White, The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway, and The Power of Positive Thinking by Norman Vincent Peale.
  • Price of Jaguar XK 120 hardtop in 1952: $5,065.00
  • US Life Expectancy: Males: 65.8 years, Females: 71.6 years
  • The Funny Comedy Duo were: Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis
    The Funniest TV Duo: Sid Caesar and Imogene Coca
    The Funny Guy was Milton Berle
    The Funny TV Lady: Lucille Ball
  • The Logo: Adidas purchased its famous 3-stripe logo from Karhu Sports in 1952 for two bottles of whiskey and less than $2,000.

Top Ten Baby Names of 1952

Linda, Mary, Patricia, Deborah, Susan, 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, Bettie Page, Jane Russell, Elizabeth Taylor, Lana Turner

Sex Symbols and Hollywood Hunks

Montgomery Clift

Oscars: 24th Academy Awards

In 1952, the 24th Academy Awards ceremony unfolded on March 20 at the RKO Pantages Theatre in Hollywood, California. Danny Kaye served as the show’s host. An American in Paris waltzed away with Best Picture, surprising some who thought A Streetcar Named Desire would win. Vivien Leigh won Best Actress for her role in Streetcar, while Humphrey Bogart snagged Best Actor for his performance in The African Queen. A tidbit of trivia: the Best Animated Short Film category had only two nominees that year, the lowest in the Academy’s history.

Emmy Awards: 4th Primetime Emmy Awards

Over on the television side, the 4th Primetime Emmy Awards were held on February 18, 1952, at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles. Lucille Ball captured the Best Comedian award, forever immortalizing her iconic role in I Love Lucy. Her show also won Best Situation Comedy, solidifying its place in TV history. Red Skelton, the host for the evening, was awarded Best Comedy Show for The Red Skelton Show.

The eligibility period for the Oscars was from January 1, 1951, to December 31, 1951. The Emmy Awards were still working out their framework and mainly recognized shows produced in and around Los Angeles. Both events offer a fascinating snapshot into the entertainment landscape of the early 1950s.

“The Quotes:”

“Lucy, I’m home!”
– Ricky Ricardo, played by Dezi Arnez

“They’re gr-r-r-eat! ”
Tony The Tiger, voiced by Thurl Ravenscroft

“Finger-lickin’ good!”
– Kentucky Fried Chicken

Time Magazine’s Woman of the Year

Queen Elizabeth II

Miss America

Colleen Hutchins (Salt Lake City, UT)

Miss USA

Jackie Loughery (New York)

The Scandal

Area 51, if it existed at 37°14’20 N 115°48’58 W  (37.239, -115.816) in southern Nevada, would have been started this year.

Pop Culture Facts & History

Boardgame Scrabble was created in 1938 but did not become popular until 1952 when the president of Macy’s played it while on vacation. Surprised that Macy’s did not carry it, he placed a large order, and within two years, four million games were sold.

French writer Alfred Sauvy invented the term “Third World” to describe the vast stretches of Africa, Asia, and Latin America whose citizens lived in dire poverty.

The “London Fog” was yellow smog so thick you couldn’t see the ground. These “pea-soupers” often carried toxic chemicals and killed 4,000 people in five days. Due to the Clean Air Act, the last London Fog was in 1962.

Wernher von Braun wrote a book called Project Mars, which imagined that human colonists on Mars would be led by someone named “Elon.”

The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 allows the President to “suspend the entry of all aliens or any class of aliens” who “would be detrimental to the interests of the United States.”

Joseph Woodland and Bernard Silver received the first patents for optical bar codes on October 7.

The British Hypnotism Act of 1952 prevents the broadcasting of hypnosis procedures due to the risk that people watching the broadcast are hypnotized and cannot be brought back.

‘Invasion of Washington’ was a 1952 Washington, DC, mass UFO incident that several institutions and many people witnessed. The Air Force dismissed it as a combination of weather phenomena and the night sky, a claim which was disputed by all many people.

Les Paul started selling his classic electric guitar.

The 20th Century Fox media empire, now owned by Disney, is the namesake of William Fox ((born as Vilmos Fried, January 1, 1879 – May 8, 1952)) who was born as Vilmos Fried, lost control of the company in 1930, went bankrupt after the stock market crash went to jail for perjury, and died more or less unnoticed.

Season Two of  I Love Lucy included the most popular and remembered skit from the show – Lucy selling (and drinking) Vitameatavegamin. It had the expected ingredients – vitamins, meat, veggies, and minerals. It also had a high (23%) alcohol content.

1952, Tony the Tiger started telling people that Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes were “Gr-r-reat!” Thurl Ravenscroft is best known for supplying the voice of Tony. Thurl also sang You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch, in the original How the Grinch Stole Christmas TV special(1966), although many people mistakenly think it was narrator Boris Karloff.

The saying “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it” was first said by philosopher, essayist, poet, and novelist George Santayana (December 16, 1863 – September 26, 1952). He was mentioned in Billy Joel’s song We Didn’t Start the Fire, which referred to Santayana’s death.

Albert Einstein was offered the Presidency of the State of Israel. He declined, saying that as a scientist trained to deal with objective facts, he lacked the aptitude and experience to deal with people.

The B-52 bomber, prototyped in 1952, is planned to remain in service until at least 2040.

The first rock and roll concert, the Moondog Coronation Ball of 1952 at the Cleveland Arena in Cleveland, Ohio, was also the first rock and roll concert to be shut down by the local authorities.

A volcano emerged in a cornfield 1943 named Paricutín in Michoacán, Mexico. By the time it went dormant in 1952, three people had lost their lives, and hundreds relocated, while two towns were buried by lava and three others were heavily affected. The volcano is still quiet today and is now a tourist attraction.

George Stephen designed and sold the first Weber Grill in 1952.

Albert Gunton was a London city double-decker bus driver who found himself driving his route crossing Tower Bridge when the bridge began to rise to allow a ship to pass. He accelerated, jumped the gap, and was awarded £10 for his bravery. Sadly, no smartphones existed at the time to record the event.

American Bandstand, originally called Bandstand, premiered on a Philadelphia TV Station on October 7, 1952, with DJ Bob Horn as host.

A man wrote to The Philadelphia Inquirer to tell them they had spelled his name wrong in a recent column; it was “Wolfeschlegelsteinhausenbergerdorff,” not “Wolfeschlegelsteinhasenbergerdorff.”

On May 2, the first commercial passenger jet flew from London to Johannesburg, inaugurating the age of jet travel. The trip carried 32 passengers and stopped five times en route.

Kent sold cigarettes with an asbestos filter, claiming it was healthier than regular smoking. #itwasnt

Over 200 passengers were trapped for days on a train at Donner Pass above Lake Tahoe in a massive blizzard in the California Sierra when their train hit a snowbank. Two rescuers died trying to reach them. All the passengers survived.

The United Kingdom successfully conducted a nuclear test to become the world’s third nuclear power on October 3, 1952.

The US Supreme Court passed a decision in 1915 establishing that free speech did not extend to motion pictures because they were not a form of art but a business. It was overturned in 1952

1st Appearances & 1952’s Most Popular Christmas Gifts, toys, and Presents

Mr. Potato Head (Mr. PH was the first toy advertised on American TV), Slinky Dog, PEZ candy dispensers*
*originally released in Europe starting in 1927, and the only ‘real’ human heads (For Regular Public Consumption) were Paul Revere, Daniel Boone, Santa Clause, and Betsy Ross

Nobel Prize Winners

Physics – Felix Bloch, Edward Mills Purcell
Chemistry – Archer John Porter Martin, Richard Laurence Millington Synge
Medicine – Selman Abraham Waksman
Literature – François Mauriac
Peace – Albert Schweitzer

Best Film Oscar Winner

An American in Paris (presented in 1952)

The Biggest Films of 1952

1. The Greatest Show on Earth
2. The Snows of Kilimanjaro
3. Hans Christian Anderson
4. Ivanhoe
5. Sailor Beware
6. Moulin Rouge
7. Jumping Jacks
8. The Quiet Man (Pop Culture Classic)
9. Singin’ in the Rain (Pop Culture Classic)
10. High Noon (Pop Culture Classic)
11. Come Back, Little Sheba
12. Against All Flags
13. Road to Bali
14. The Big Sky
15. Limelight
16. The Miracle of Our Lady of Fatima
17. Son of Paleface
18. Million Dollar Mermaid
19. The World in His Arms
20. Jack and the Beanstalk
21. Hiawatha
22. Red Planet Mars
23. The Stooge
24. Stars and Stripes Forever
25. The Pride of St. Louis
26. Clash By Night
27. Meet Danny Wilson
28. The Crimson Pirate
29. Monkey Business
30. Invasion, U.S.A.
*Movies beyond the Top Ten are based on (a somewhat subjective) ranking based on how much they had a long-lasting effect on Pop Culture.

Broadway Show

The Seven Year Itch (Play) Opened on November 20, 1952, and closed on August 13, 1955

Popular and Best-selling Books From 1952

The Caine Mutiny by Herman Wouk
The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis
East of Eden by John Steinbeck
Giant by Edna Ferber
The Gown of Glory by Agnes Sligh Turnbull
The Houses in Between by Howard Spring
Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
Kon-Tiki: Across the Pacific in a Raft by Thor Heyerdahl
My Cousin Rachel by Daphne du Maurier
The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
The Power of Positive Thinking by Norman Vincent Peale
The Saracen Blade by Frank Yerby
The Silver Chalice by Thomas B. Costain
Steamboat Gothic by Frances Parkinson Keyes

1952 Most Popular TV Shows

1. I Love Lucy (CBS)
2. Arthur Godfrey’s Talent Scouts (CBS)
3. Arthur Godfrey and his Friends (CBS)
4. Dragnet (NBC)
5. Texaco Star Theatre (NBC)
6. The Buick Circus Hour (NBC)
7. The Colgate Comedy Hour (NBC)
8. Gangbusters (NBC)
9. You Bet Your Life (NBC)
10. Fireside Theatre (NBC)

1952 Billboard Number One Songs

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

March 15May 16:
Wheel of Fortune – Kay Starr

May 17June 20:
Blue Tango – Leroy Anderson

June 21July 4:
Here in My Heart – Al Martino

July 5July 11:
Delicado – Percy Faith & his Orchestra

July 12September 12:
Auf Wiedersehen Sweetheart – Vera Lynn

September 13October 17:
You Belong to Me – Jo Stafford

October 18November 21:
I Went To Your Wedding – Patti Page

November 22November 28:
It’s In The Book – Johnny Standley

November 29December 26:
Why Don’t You Believe Me – Joni James

December 27, 1952 – January 9, 1953:
I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus – Jimmy Boyd


World Series Champions: New York Yankees
NFL Champions: Detroit Lions
NBA Champions: Minneapolis Lakers
Stanley Cup Champs: Detroit Red Wings
U.S. Open Golf Julius Boros
U.S. Tennis: (Men/Ladies) Frank Sedgman/Maureen Connolly
Wimbledon (Men/Women): Frank Sedgman/Maureen Connolly
NCAA Football Champions: Georgia Tech & Michigan State
NCAA Basketball Champions: Kansas
Kentucky Derby: Hill Gail

More 1952 Facts & History Resources:

BabyBoomers.com (1952)
Most Popular Baby Names (BabyCenter.com)
Popular and Notable Books (popculture.us)
Broadway Shows that Opened in 1952X
1952 Calendar, courtesy of Time and Date.com
Fact Monster
Fifties Web (1952)
1950s, Infoplease.com World History
1952 in Movies (according to IMDB)
Retrowaste Vintage Culture
1952 Television
1950s Slang
Wikipedia 1952