1953 Fun Facts, Trivia and History

1953 Fun Facts, Trivia and History

Quick Facts from 1953

  • World-Changing Event: The structure of DNA was discovered at the Cavendish Laboratory at the University of Cambridge.
  • The First Big Bubblegum Pop Song? (How Much is That) Doggie in the Window by Patti Page
  • The Movies to Watch include From Here to Eternity, Houdini, The Robe, Stalag 17, The Caddy, House of Wax, The Wild One, It Came from Outer Space, and War of the Worlds.
  • The Most Famous Person in America was probably Gary Cooper.
  • Notable books include Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, From Here to Eternity by James Jones, and Casino Royale by Ian Fleming.
  • Price of Packard Clipper automobile in 1953: $2,679.00
  • Arthur Miller’s play The Crucible premiered.
  • The Funny Comedy Team were: Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis
    The Funniest TV Duo: Sid Caesar and Imogene Coca
    The Funny Late Show Host: Steve Allen
    The Funny Guy was Milton Berle
    The Funny TV Lady: Lucille Ball
  • Atomic Espionage: Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were both found guilty of secret information about the atomic bomb to the Soviet Union and executed in 1953, becoming the first civilians to be executed for espionage in the United States.
  • MKUltra: The super-secret CIA program reputedly began in 1953 and ended in 1967.
  • Ray Bradbury wrote the first draft of Fahrenheit 451 on a coin-operated typewriter in the basement of the UCLA library. It charged 10¢ for 30 minutes, and he spent $9.80 on the machine.

Here are some significant events that took place in 1953

  • Queen Elizabeth II was coronated in Westminster Abbey on June 2, 1953.
  • The Korean War ended with the signing of the Korean Armistice Agreement on July 27, 1953.
  • Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were executed on June 19, 1953, after being found guilty of conspiracy to commit espionage for the Soviet Union.
  • The first issue of Playboy magazine was published in December 1953, featuring Marilyn Monroe as the cover model.
  • DNA structure was first described by James Watson and Francis Crick, who published their findings in the scientific journal Nature in April 1953. This discovery was later recognized as one of the most important scientific discoveries of the 20th century.

Top Ten Baby Names of 1953

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

Fashion Icons and Sex Symbols

Marilyn Monroe, Ava Gardner, Rita Hayworth, Audrey Hepburn, Doris Day, Lana Turner

Sex Symbols and Hollywood Hunks

Marlon Brando, Montgomery Clift

Oscars: 25th Academy Awards

The silver anniversary of the Oscars, also known as the 25th Academy Awards, was a spectacle held on March 19, 1953, at the RKO Pantages Theatre in Hollywood and the NBC International Theatre in New York City. This year was significant for being the first Oscars telecast, which was broadcast in black and white. Bob Hope served as host in Hollywood, while Conrad Nagel took on the role in New York. The Greatest Show on Earth secured Best Picture in a controversial win that still fuels debate among film aficionados. Gary Cooper took home Best Actor for his role in High Noon, and Shirley Booth was awarded Best Actress for her performance in Come Back, Little Sheba.

Emmy Awards: 5th Primetime Emmy Awards

For TV enthusiasts, the 5th Primetime Emmy Awards were celebrated on February 5, 1953, at the Statler Hotel in Los Angeles. Art Linkletter was the evening’s host. I Love Lucy still rode high, bagging the Best Situation Comedy award. A young and not-yet-famous James Dean was nominated for Best Actor, although the trophy ultimately went to Thomas Mitchell for The Doctor. The Best Actress accolade went to Helen Hayes for Schlitz Playhouse of Stars.

The Oscars had an eligibility period that ran from January 1, 1952, to December 31, 1952. The Emmy Awards, still in their infancy, were focused primarily on programming from the Los Angeles area.

“The Quotes:”

“The physician can bury his mistakes, but the architect can only advise his client to plant vines – so they should go as far as possible from home to build their first buildings.”
– Frank Lloyd Wright

“You’ll wonder where the yellow went when you brush your teeth with Pepsodent.”
Pepsodent toothpaste

“Shane. Shane. Come back!”
– Brandon De Wilde, in Shane

“Sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don’t.”
– Peter Paul Mounds/Almond Joy

Time Magazine’s Man of the Year

Konrad Adenauer

Miss America

Neva Langley (Macon, GA)

Miss USA

Myrna Hansen (Illinois)

The Scandals

Piltdown Man, an archaeological find from 1912, was exposed as a forgery, consisting of the lower jawbone of an orangutan combined with the skull of a fully developed, modern man. The theory of Evolution took several steps back with this scandal.

Country Pop Star Death

Hank Williams (drugs and alcohol poisoning)

US Politics

January 20, 1953 (Tuesday): First inauguration of Dwight D. Eisenhower

1953 Pop Culture Facts & History

The first modern use of the word word ‘Frenemy” was first used in the 1953 article titled Howz about calling the Russians Your Frienemies? by gossip columnist Walter Winchell in the Nevada State Journal.

The Coppertone Girl was introduced to the American public. It is probably the most popular ‘butt crack’ of all time.

RCA invented the first musical synthesizer.

Officially, Ohio is listed as the 17th state in the US, but it is technically number 47. Congress forgot to vote on the formal resolution to admit Ohio to the Union but finally did on August 7, 1953.

Kenneth H. Rowe (born No Kum-Sok), a North Korean fighter pilot, defected to South Korea with his MiG-15 and was rewarded $100,000 from the United States.

Swanson had 260 tons of leftover turkey from Thanksgiving and didn’t know how to get rid of it. They asked their workers for ideas, and one man thought they should package it in individual trays with sides and freeze it. Thus, the TV Dinner was born.

Colgate-Palmolive-Peet became Colgate-Palmolive. We are not sure why, but we think that the Peet brothers suffered the same fate as Alvah Curtis Roebuck, of Sears and Roebuck fame.

Playwright and Nobel laureate Eugene O’Neill was born on October 16, 1888, in a hotel at Times Square; he also died on November 27, 1953, in another hotel in Boston. His last words were, “I knew it. I knew it. Born in a hotel room and died in a hotel room.”

The Cincinnati Reds baseball team was renamed the “Redlegs” this year through 1958 to avoid being associated with The Red Scare and communism.

Radios manufactured in the US between 1953  and 1963 had a white triangle on the dial at 640 AM to indicate where Civil Defense information would be broadcast.

Rolling Stone Keith Richards was a choirboy at the Queen’s 1953 Coronation.

Coca-Cola attempted to persuade the US Treasury to mint a 7.5-cent coin; a can of Coke had been a nickel since 1886 and needed to be raised due to inflation, but they felt a dime was too much.

Ore-Ida offered ‘Tater Tots’ in grocery stores. There were just pressed leftovers from their french fry line.

A Pennsylvania town named Mauch Chunk managed to get the remains of an early 20th-century athlete and bought the rights to his name. They renamed the town ‘Jim Thorpe,’ a tourist attraction in PA.

The first issue of Playboy, published in December 1953, featured Marilyn Monroe from her 1949 nude calendar shoot and sold over 50,000 copies.

Isaac Asimov wrote a short story, Sally,  that claimed the first self-driving cars would be released around 2015.

In 1951, Ray Bradbury wrote a short story about a giant, fire-breathing lizard, which was made into the 1953 film The  Beast from 20,000 Fathoms. This film inspired Ishirō Honda, a Japanese producer, to make Godzilla in 1954.

Biologists James D. Watson and Francis Crick published “Molecular Structure of Nucleic Acids: A Structure for Deoxyribose Nucleic Acid.” With little more than a drawing and some accompanying text, Watson and Crick discovered the structure of DNA.

Arthur Holly Compton (the Nobel Prize-winning chancellor of Washington University) was irritated by how fast people drove through the campus. To combat this, he designed the modern speed bump.

Doomsday Clock

Two minutes to midnight, according to the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists.
1953: After much debate, the United States decides to pursue the hydrogen bomb, a weapon far more powerful than any atomic bomb. In October 1952, the United States tests its first thermonuclear device, obliterating a Pacific Ocean islet in the process; nine months later, the Soviets test an H-bomb of their own. “The hands of the Clock of Doom have moved again,” the Bulletin announces. “Only a few more swings of the pendulum, and, from Moscow to Chicago, atomic explosions will strike midnight for Western civilization.”

1st Appearances & 1953’s Most Popular Christmas gifts, toys, and presents:
Scrabble, Mrs. Potato Head, Wiffle Ball invented, Matchbox (U.K.)

Nobel Prize Winners

Physics – Frits (Frederik) Zernike
Chemistry – Hermann Staudinger
Medicine – Hans Adolf Krebs, Fritz Albert Lipmann
Literature – Sir Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill
Peace – George Catlett Marshall

Best Film Oscar Winner

1952’s The Greatest Show On Earth

The Biggest Films of 1953

1. Peter Pan (Disney)
2. The Robe (Pop Culture Classic)
3. From Here to Eternity (Pop Culture Classic)
4. How to Marry a Millionaire
5. Shane
6. Gentlemen Prefer Blondes
7. Hondo
8. House of Wax (Pop Culture Classic)
9. The War of the Worlds (Pop Culture Classic)
10. The Beast from 20,000. Fathoms
11. Niagara
12. Abbott and Costello Meet Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
13. Stalag 17
14. Roman Holiday
15. Kiss Me, Kate
16. Charade
17. Salome
18. The Wild One (Pop Culture Classic)
19. Houdini
20. The Caddy
21. Devil’s Canyon
22. I Love Lucy
23. The Eddie Cantor Story
24. Scared Stiff
25. I Confess
26. It Came From Outer Space
27. Take The High Ground
28. Julius Caesar
29. Robot Monster
30. Glen or Glenda
*Movies beyond the Top Five are based on (a somewhat subjective) ranking based on how much they had a long-lasting effect on Pop Culture.

Broadway Show

The Teahouse of the August Moon (Play) Opened on October 15, 1953, and Closed on March 24, 1956

Popular and Best-selling Books From 1953

Battle Cry by Leon M. Uris
Beyond This Place by A. J. Cronin
Casino Royale by Ian Fleming
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Silver Chair by C.S. Lewis
The Crucible by Arthur Miller.
Desirée by Annemarie Selinko
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury,
From Here to Eternity by James Jones
The High and the Mighty by Ernest K. Gann
Lord Vanity by Samuel Shellabarger
The Robe by Lloyd C. Douglas
The Silver Chalice by Thomas B. Costain
Time and Time Again by James Hilton
The Unconquered by Ben Ames Williams

1953 Most Popular TV Shows

1. I Love Lucy (CBS)
2. Dragnet (NBC)
3. Arthur Godfrey’s Talent Scouts (CBS)
4. You Bet Your Life (NBC)
5. The Milton Berle Show (NBC)
6. Arthur Godfrey and his Friends (CBS)
7. Ford Theatre (NBC)
8. The Jackie Gleason Show (CBS)
9. Fireside Theatre (NBC)
10. The Colgate Comedy Hour (NBC)

1953 Billboard Number One Songs

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

January 10February 13:
Don’t Let The Stars Get In Your Eyes – Perry Como

February 14March 20:
Till I Waltz Again With You – Teresa Brewer

March 21May 15:
The Doggie In The Window – Patti Page

May 16July 24:
Song From Moulin Rouge – Percy Faith & his Orchestra

July 25 – August 7:
I’m Walking Behind You – Eddie Fisher

August 8October 9:
Vaya Con Dios – Les Paul & Mary Ford

October 10November 6:
St. George And The Dragonet – Stan Freberg

November 7November 20:
Vaya Con Dios – Les Paul & Mary Ford

November 21, 1953 – January 1, 1954:
Rags To Riches – Tony Bennett


World Series Champions: New York Yankees
NFL Champions: Detroit Lions
NBA Champions: Minneapolis Lakers
Stanley Cup Champs: Montreal Canadiens
U.S. Open Golf Dick Mayer
U.S. Tennis: (Men/Ladies) Tony Trabert/Maureen Connolly
Wimbledon (Men/Women): Vic Seixas/Maureen Connolly
NCAA Football Champions: Maryland
NCAA Basketball Champions: Indiana
Kentucky Derby: Dark Star

More 1953 Facts & History Resources:

BabyBoomers.com (1953)
Most Popular Baby Names (BabyCenter.com)
Popular and Notable Books (popculture.us)
Broadway Shows that Opened in 1953X
1953 Calendar, courtesy of Time and Date.com
Fact Monster
Fifties Web (1953)
1950s, Infoplease.com World History
1953 in Movies (according to IMDB)
Retrowaste Vintage Culture
1953 Television
1950s Slang
Wikipedia 1953