1956 Facts, History and Fun Trivia

1956 Facts, History and Fun Trivia

Quick Facts from 1956

  • World-Changing Event: Elvis Presley appeared on The Ed Sullivan Sullivan Show on September 9. 82.6% of American households watched.
  • The Top Song was Don’t Be Cruel/ Hound Dog by Elvis Presley.
  • Influential Songs include Tutti Frutti by Little Richard and Don’t Be Cruel/ Hound Dog by Elvis Presley.
  • The Happy Earworm: The Happy Whistler by Don Robertson.
  • The Movies to Watch include The Ten Commandments, Giant, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Love Me Tender, Carousel, Bus Stop, Forbidden Planet, High Society, Seven Wonders of the World, and The King and I.
  • The Most Famous Person in America was probably William Holden.
  • Soap Operas As the World Turns and Edge of Night premiered on TV.
  • Notable books include Peyton Place by Grace Metalious and Eloise by Kay Thompson.
  • Price of 6 oz Nestles Chocolate Chip Morsels in 1956: 19 cents.
    Basketball, official size: $2.89
    Hockey Stick: 79 cents
    Hockey Puck: 25 cents
  • The Funny TV Guy was: Ernie Kovacs
    The Funny Late Show Host: Steve Allen
    The Funny TV Lady: Lucille Ball
  • The Bald Guy was Yul Brynner
  • Tween and Teen Dancing: ‘Sock Hops’- 50s school dances, were named after you had to remove your shoes to protect the varnished cafeteria and gymnasium floors.
  • The Conversation: Was Elvis Presley dancing with too much sex appeal on TV?

Top Ten Baby Names of 1956

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

Fashion Icons and Sex Symbols

Carroll Baker, Doris Day, Diana Dors, Anita Ekberg, Annette Funicello, Ava Gardner, Audrey Hepburn, Gina Lollobrigida, Sophia Loren, Jayne Mansfield, Marilyn Monroe, Julie Newmar, Kim Novak, Bettie Page, Elizabeth Taylor, Mamie Van Doren

Sex Symbols and Hollywood Hunks

James Dean, Harry Belafonte, Elvis Presley, Gregory Peck

Oscars: 28th Academy Awards

The 28th Academy Awards took place on March 21, 1956, at the RKO Pantages Theatre in Hollywood. Comedy legend Jerry Lewis hosted the ceremony. This year, Marty was the standout film, claiming Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Actor for Ernest Borgnine. Anna Magnani won Best Actress for her role in The Rose Tattoo.

Emmy Awards: 8th Primetime Emmy Awards

The Emmy Awards for this year were held on March 17, 1956, at the Pan Pacific Auditorium in Los Angeles. Art Linkletter served as the host. The Phil Silvers Show grabbed the Best Comedy Series award, while Producers’ Showcase bagged Best Dramatic Series. The Best Actor and Actress honors went to Phil Silvers for The Phil Silvers Show and Loretta Young for Letter to Loretta, respectively.

For the Oscars, the eligibility spanned the entire calendar year of 1955. The Emmy Awards also adhered to a 1955 production year for eligibility but had less formal rules than the Oscars.

“The Quotes of 1956”

“That’ll be the day.”
– John Wayne, in The Searchers

“You’re in good hands with Allstate.”

“We will bury you.”
Nikita Khrushchev

“Live fast, die young, leave a good-looking corpse.”
– James Dean

“Takes a licking and keeps on ticking.”
-Times (watches)

“Away go troubles down the drain.”
– Roto-Rooter

Time Magazine’s Men of the Year

Hungarian Freedom Fighter

Miss America

Sharon Ritchie (Denver, CO)

Miss USA

Carol Morris (Iowa)

The Scandals

Charles Van Doren and Herb Stempel, the leading competitors on TV’s quiz show Twenty-One, admitted to being coached by the show’s producers.

At the 1956 Olympics, Barry Larkin, a veterinary science student at Sydney University’s St. Johns College, successfully impersonated an Olympic torchbearer, handing the mayor of Sydney a painted chair leg topped with a pair of burning underwear in front of a crowd of thousands.

Dick Clark took over hosting duties on Bob Horn’s Bandstand after Bob allegedly twiddled with female teenage dancers who appeared on his show. They changed the name to American Bandstand.


Nearly half the cast and crew (91 of ~220 people) of the 1956 film The Conqueror developed cancer after filming the movie downwind of a nuclear weapons testing site and later shipping dirt from the filming location to the studio for reshoots.

1956 Firsts

Dodge produced the first car marketed explicitly to women. The La Femme had a pink exterior with a pink umbrella and a lipstick holder.

On July 9, 1956, Dick Clark began hosting American Bandstand.

The first backup camera in a car was in the 1956 Buick Centurion concept car.

The first shipping container was invented and patented (Patent #2853968A) in 1956 by Malcolm Mc Lean, which reduced his shipping cost from $5.86 to .16 cents, paving the way for globalization and mass intercontinental shipping.

As the World Turns was first broadcast on CBS.

NBC introduced its multicolored peacock logo in 1956 to entice people to buy color TVs manufactured by RCA, which owned the network.

Neutrinos were discovered. #science

Abigail Van Buren’s (aka Pauline Phillips) “Dear Abby” advice column first appeared in newspapers.

Jimmy Woo, Federal Agent in Antman and The Wasp and S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent in comics books first appeared in 1956’s Yellow Claw #1 from Atlas Comics (later Marvel Comics).

Batwoman (aka Kathy Kane) first appeared in Detective Comics #233 (July 1956).

“In God We Trust” wasn’t the official U.S. motto until 1956.

Tater Tots went on sale.

1st Appearances & 1956’s Most Popular Christmas Gifts, Toys and Presents

Yahtzee, Ticklebee Game, Play-Doh (color, actual white came out in 1958), Ant Farm

1956 Pop Culture Facts & History

Monkee Mike Nesmith’s mother, Bette Nesmith Graham invented “Mistake Out,” later renamed Liquid Paper.

On October 8, Game 5 of the World Series, NY Yankee right-hander Don Larson pitched a ‘perfect game.’

Soviet gymnast Larissa Latynina holds the record for the most Olympic medals ever won by a female. Competing in three Olympics between 1956 and 1964, she won 18 medals.

Christopher Cockerell invented the hovercraft.

Completed in 1954, the Capitol Records Building in Los Angeles has a light on top that spells out the word ‘Hollywood’ in Morse code. It started blinking Hollywood in 1956 and has only stopped to celebrate Capitol Records’ 50th Anniversary, where it flashed “Capitol 50”.

On CBS, The Wizard of Oz became the first major Hollywood film running over ninety minutes to be televised uncut in one evening.

In 1956, the US passed the Refrigerator Safety Act, which required all fridges to be magnetically sealed.

The world record for “Greatest One-Minute Rainfall” is 31.2 mm (1.23 inches) in Unionville, Maryland on July 4, 1956

Twenty-five people were hospitalized after a melee at a Bill Haley concert in Asbury Park, New Jersey.

Killer bees (Africanized bees) were created in Brazil in 1956 by crossbreeding African and Brazilian honeybees to increase honey production.

In 1956, the IBM 350 hard disk drive had 3.75 MB of storage and weighed over 2000 lbs.

The phrase “I cried all the way to the bank” reputedly came from Liberace in 1956 after a newspaper crudely accused him of homosexuality, and he sued and won.
A. The phrase was used before he said it.
B. He was a (closeted) homosexual.

Alfred Hitchcock remade his movie 1934’s The Man Who Knew Too Much as The Man Who Knew Too Much in 1956.

Thomas W. Attridge Jr, a test pilot, shot the Grumman F-11 Tiger plane he was flying by catching up to the fired 20 mm bullets that caused his crash landing.


Alcohol-Related Artist Death: Jackson Pollock died in a car accident. His 1948 work, No. 5, was sold to David Geffen for $140,000,000.

Albert Woolson (February 11, 1850 – August 2, 1956), the last Civil War veteran and Union Soldier, died in 1956.

The DuMont Television Network was a fourth network on American broadcast television in the 1940s and 1950s. The network folded in 1956, and today it has been all but forgotten because most of its archives were destroyed.

Not RIP:
Indian illusionist P.C. Sorcar, a magician, was performing the “cut a person in half” trick using his assistant for a performance on BBC’s Panorama. Immediately after she was divided, the show ended. There is some controversy as to whether it was a coincidence or Sorcar planned it for publicity. The assistant was fine.

Nobel Prize Winners

Physics – William Shockley, John Bardeen, Walter Houser Brattain
Chemistry – Sir Cyril Norman Hinshelwood, Nikolay Semyonov
Physiology or Medicine – André Frédéric Cournand, Werner Forssmann, Dickinson W. Richards
Literature – Juan Ramón Jiménez
Peace – Not Awarded

The Habit

Reading Profiles in Courage by John F. Kennedy

Best Film Oscar Winner

Marty (presented in 1956)

Popular and Best-selling Books From 1956

A Certain Smile by Francoise Sagan
Andersonville by MacKinlay Kantor
Auntie Mame by Patrick Dennis
Boon Island by Kenneth Roberts
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis
Diamonds Are Forever by Ian Fleming
Don’t Go Near the Water by William Brinkley
Eloise by Kay Thompson
The Last Hurrah by Edwin O’Connor
The Mandarins by Simone de Beauvoir
Peyton Place by Grace Metalious
The Tribe That Lost Its Head by Nicholas Monsarrat

Broadway Show

My Fair Lady (Musical) Opened on March 15, 1956, and closed on September 29, 1962

1956 Most Popular TV Shows

1. I Love Lucy (CBS)
2. The Ed Sullivan Show (CBS)
3. General Electric Theatre (CBS)
4. The $64,000 Question (CBS)
5. December Bride (CBS)
6. Alfred Hitchcock Presents (CBS)
7. I’ve Got A Secret (CBS)
8. Gunsmoke (CBS)
9. The Perry Como Show (NBC)
10. The Jack Benny Show (CBS)

1956 Billboard Number One Songs

November 26, 1955 – January 13, 1956:
Sixteen Tons – Tennessee Ernie Ford

January 14February 17:
Memories Are Made Of This – Dean Martin

February 18 – March 2:
Great Pretender – The Platters

March 3March 23:
Rock And Roll Waltz – Kay Starr

March 24May 2:
Poor People Of Paris – Les Baxter

May 3June 15:
Heartbreak Hotel – Elvis Presley

June 16August 3:
Wayward Wind – Gogi Grant

August 4August 17:
I Almost Lost My Mind – Pat Boone

August 18September 14:
My Prayer – The Platters

September 15November 2:
Don’t Be Cruel/Hound Dog – Elvis Presley

November 3November 16:
Green Door – Jim Lowe

November 17December 7:
Love Me Tender – Elvis Presley

December 8December 21:
Singing The Blues – Guy Mitchell

December 22December 28:
Love Me Tender – Elvis Presley

December 29, 1956 – February 8, 1957:
Singing The Blues – Guy Mitchell


World Series Champions: New York Yankees
NFL Champions: New York Giants
NBA Champions: Philadelphia Warriors
Stanley Cup Champs: Montreal Canadians
U.S. Open Golf Cary Middlecoff
U.S. Tennis: (Men/Ladies) Ken Rosewall/Shirley J. Fry
Wimbledon (Men/Women): Lew Hoad/Shirley Fry
NCAA Football Champions: Oklahoma
NCAA Basketball Champions: San Francisco
Kentucky Derby: Needles

More 1956 Facts & History Resources:

BabyBoomers.com (1956)
Most Popular Baby Names (BabyCenter.com)
Popular and Notable Books (popculture.us)
Broadway Shows that Opened in 1956X
1956 Calendar, courtesy of Time and Date.com
Fact Monster
Fifties Web (1956)
1950s, Infoplease.com World History
1956 in Movies (according to IMDB)
Retrowaste Vintage Culture
1956 Television
1950s Slang
Wikipedia 1956