1958 Fun Facts, Trivia and History

1958 Fun Facts, Trivia and History

Quick Facts from 1958

  • World-Changing Event: President Dwight Eisenhower signed the National Aeronautics and Space Act, creating NASA.
  • The Top Song was At The Hop by Danny & The Juniors.
  • Influential Songs include Tequila by The Champs, Tom Dooley by The Kingston Trio, and Rebel Rouser by Duane Eddy.
  • The Movies to Watch include South Pacific, High School Confidential, St. Louis Blues, Attack of the 50-Foot Woman, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, The Defiant Ones, The Fly, Auntie Mame, The Blob and Vertigo.
  • The Most Famous Person in America was probably Elizabeth Taylor.
  • Notable books include Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe and Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak.
  • Bank of America launched the first credit card with extended credit in September 1958.
  • Price of a postage stamp in 1958: 4 cents
    Price of a used ’57 Ford Fairlane: $1,995.00
  • The Bald Guy was Yul Brynner
  • The Story Behind the Song: Bruce Springsteen’s Nebraska is the story of 20-year-old Charles Starkweather and his 13-year-old girlfriend Caril Ann Fugate, who murdered 11 people over eight days in 1958.

Top Ten Baby Names of 1958

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

Fashion Icons and Sex Symbols

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

Sex Symbols and Hollywood Hunks

Paul Newman, Elvis Presley

Oscars: 30th Academy Awards

The Oscars unfurled their red carpet at the RKO Pantages Theatre in Hollywood on March 26, 1958. Rosalind Russell and Bob Hope hosted the ceremony. The Bridge on the River Kwai had a night to remember, scoring seven awards, including Best Picture. Alec Guinness captured Best Actor for the same film. The Best Actress honor went to Joanne Woodward for The Three Faces of Eve.

Emmy Awards: 10th Primetime Emmy Awards

Hosted by Danny Thomas, the Emmy Awards on April 15, 1958, took place at the Coconut Grove Ambassador Hotel, Los Angeles. Gunsmoke received the accolade for Best Dramatic Series, while The Phil Silvers Show claimed Best Comedy Series. Robert Young snagged Best Actor for Father Knows Best, and Jane Wyatt received Best Actress for the same show, proving that father—and mother—did know best that year.

“The Quotes”

“What counts is not necessarily the size of the dog in the fight – it’s the size of the fight in the dog. ”
– President Dwight D Eisenhower

“Look, Ma, no cavities!”
– Crest toothpaste ad

“Life is a banquet, and most poor suckers are starving to death!”
– Rosalind Russell, in ‘Auntie Mame’

Time Magazine’s Man of the Year

Charles de Gaulle

Miss America

Marilyn Van Derbur (Denver, CO)

Miss USA

Eurlyne Howell (Louisiana)

The Scandals

DJ Alan Freed, the inventor of the term ‘Rock and Roll’, was accused of being paid to promote specific songs on his popular radio and live shows. His career ended, along with his street cred, in the PAYOLA scandal.

Jerry Lee Lewis married his 13-year-old 2nd cousin.

Disney murdered scores of Lemmings for the ‘suicide scene’ in the 1958 movie White Wilderness. Producers pushed and threw them off a cliff while shooting footage of the cruelty, then framed it as a natural occurrence for the audience.

Lana Turner’s daughter, Cheryl, saw her mother being beaten by her boyfriend, Johnny Stompanato, and killed him with a kitchen knife. Some people think that Lana did the self-defensive killing.

1958 Pop Culture Facts & History

The Adventures of Superpup never passed the ‘unaired pilot’ stage.

The Modern plastic Hula Hoop was invented in 1958 by Arthur K. Melin and Richard Knerr. In the 1930s, the first marketed Hula Hoops were made of bamboo and sold as exercise equipment, but they have been used for at least a few hundred years; even in Europe, they used metal tubes. But When they started marketing them in the Summer of 1958, Wham-O sold 25 Million of them. By 1960, 200 Million of them were sold.

Two pilots, Robert Timm and John Cook, took off from McCarran Airfield in Las Vegas, Nevada. They flew a Cessna 172 for 64 days, 22 hours, 19 minutes, and 5 seconds without landing (December 4, 1958- February 4, 1959), refueling by matching speed with a fuel truck driving down a road.

The Ford Motor Company had conceived a nuclear-powered car called the “Nucleon,” with its own contained reactor.

The gesture of celebrating victory by lifting the trophy above the head came in 1958 when photographers asked Hilderaldo Bellini, captain of the Brazilian team at the time, to lift the World Cup trophy after beating Sweden so that they could get a better view of it.

Bobby Fischer (14 years old) won the United States Chess Championship.

As a test, Bank of America mailed 60,000 residents of Fresno, California, a small plastic card with a $500 credit line. The experiment was successful, and the program became Visa.

Music producer Phil Spector’s high-school band (The Teddy Bears) made their first record, To Know Him Is to Love Him. It became number one on the pop charts.

Led by the retired Boston candy manufacturer Robert H.W. Welch Jr., a group of anti-communist activists founded an organization called the John Birch Society that was dedicated to finding and destroying all traces of communism in the United States. The group got their name from John Birch, an intelligence officer killed in China during the Cold War.

The US 50 Star Flag was designed in 1958 by Robert Heft as a junior high history project and got a B-. The grade was later changed to an A after Heft’s design was accepted and adopted by the United States Congress in 1959. Robert and his teacher agreed after the initial B minus grade was given but before the US Congress accepted it.

Crayola’s Prussian Blue crayon was renamed Midnight Blue in 1958.

First Class Postage Stamps increased to 4 cents on August 1, 1958.

The only gas station ever designed by Frank Lloyd Wright was built in 1958 and still operates at 202 Cloquet Avenue, Cloquet, Minnesota.

The LEGO was patented (#3005282A) in 1958.

The world’s tallest ever recorded tsunami was in Alaska in 1958, caused by a landslide after an earthquake in the Fairweather Fault in the Alaska Panhandle. The 100-foot wave reached 1720 feet above sea level.

The Bossa Nova music genre was created in Rio de Janeiro with João Gilberto’s recording of Chega de Saudade.

Bruce Lee was the 1958 Hong Kong Cha Cha Dance Championship winner.

Elvis Presley was inducted into the US Army, Private #53310761.

Dick Dale invented Surf Guitar Music with Let’s Go Trippin’

Vanguard 1, launched in 1958, is the oldest man-made satellite in orbit. Communication with it stopped working in 1964.

Sir Edmund Hillary reached the South Pole.

The 1958 National Football League Championship Game was the 26th NFL championship game, played on December 28th at Yankee Stadium in New York City. It was the first NFL playoff game to go into sudden-death overtime, and the final score was Baltimore Colts 23, New York Giants 17. The game has since become known as “The Greatest Game Ever Played.”

Lawrence Welk was the first TV show to air in stereo before stereo TV had been invented. ABC simulcast one audio channel on its radio network and the other via TV so that listening to both would give you a stereo effect.

Nuclear Oops

The US Air Force lost a 7,600-pound (3,400 kg) Mark 15 nuclear bomb in an F-86/B-47 collision in the Atlantic Ocean off Tybee Island, near Savannah, Georgia, and it has still not been found.

A 26-kiloton Mark 6 mistakenly fell out of a B-47 jet, dropping 15,000 feet into the backyard of Walter Gregg in Mars Bluff, South Carolina. The non-nuclear part of the bomb blew up and left a crater. It’s on private property, so don’t visit without permission.

Project A119

The US Air Force made plans to detonate a nuclear bomb on the moon and wanted it to visible to the naked eye on Earth. They hoped it would boost American morale to counter the USSR’s advances in the space race. #coldwar

Civil Rights

Garth Williams, the illustrator of Stuart Little, wrote a kids’ book in 1958 called The Rabbits’ Wedding. An Alabama State Senator claimed the book was “propaganda for integration and intermarriage,” as the book featured a bunny with white fur and another with black.

Clennon Washington King Jr. applied to the (then) all-white University of Mississippi, and he was committed to Mississippi State Hospital in Whitfield for trying to attend it. In 1960, King ran for President as the candidate of the Independent Afro-American Party, with Reginald Carter as his running mate.


One of the worst school bus accidents in American history occurred in Prestonburg, Kentucky. 26 children and the bus driver were killed. Twenty-two children escaped.

World War I Update

Andorra declared war on Germany during WWI but didn’t send any soldiers because they didn’t have an army. At the Treaty of Versailles, Andorra was forgotten and technically remained at war with Germany until the two countries declared peace in 1958.

World War II Update

During a visit to Germany in 1958, Comedic Actor Groucho Marx climbed a pile of rubble that marked the site of Adolf Hitler’s bunker, the believed site of Hitler’s death, and performed a two-minute Charleston Dance.

Nobel Prize Winners

Physics – Pavel Alekseyevich Cherenkov, Ilya Mikhailovich Frank, and Igor Yevgenyevich Tamm
Chemistry – Frederick Sanger
Physiology or Medicine – George Wells Beadle, Edward Lawrie Tatum, and Joshua Lederberg
Literature – Boris Leonidovich Pasternak
Peace – Georges Pire

1st Appearances & 1958’s Most Popular Christmas Gifts, Toys and Presents

LEGOs, Skateboards, Beat the Clock Game, Crayola Crayons ’64 box’ with built-in sharpener*, Concentration TV Game home version, Hula Hoop (U.S.)
*Crayola crayons first came out in 1903

The Habit

Reading Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak

More 1958 Firsts

The American Express card was introduced in 1958.

The term “meritocracy” was coined by Michael Young in his 1958 dystopian essay The Rise of the Meritocracy.

The modern hula hoop was invented in 1958 by Arthur K. “Spud” Melin and Richard Knerr and distributed for sale by their company, Wham-O!

An Evening with Fred Astaire, the first television show recorded on color videotape, was broadcast on NBC.

Chicken Ramen, the first instant noodles, went on sale in Japan.

Clifton Hillegass in Lincoln, Nebraska, started cliffsNotes.

Dracula was released, starring Christopher Lee. It was the first horror movie from Hammer Films.

The Jim Henson Company (Muppets Inc.) was founded.

The internationally recognized peace symbol was designed in 1958 by Gerald Holtom as the logo for the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament.

Pizza Hut was founded in Wichita, Kansas, by Dan and Frank Carney.

The first video game, “Tennis for Two,” invented by William Higinbotham, was introduced at the Brookhaven National Laboratory Visitors’ Day Exhibit in the United States.

Jack Kilby invented the first integrated circuit while working at Texas Instruments.

Kitchens were smelling a lot cleaner thanks to the introduction of Mr. Clean in 1958. In 1998, People Magazine called Mr. Clean “one of the sexiest men alive.”

Commercial, domestic jet airline service opened between New York and Miami.

Best Film Oscar Winner

The Bridge Over River Kwai (presented in 1958)

Popular and Best-selling Books From 1958

A Fly Went By by Mike McClintock and Fritz Siebel
Anatomy of a Murder by Robert Traver
Around the World with Auntie Mame by Patrick Dennis
By Love Possessed by James Gould Cozzens
The Cat in the Hat Comes Back by Dr. Seuss
Dr. No by Ian Fleming
Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak
Eloise at Christmastime by Kay Thompson
The Enemy Camp by Jerome Weidman
From the Terrace by John O’Hara
Ice Palace by Edna Ferber
Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
Night by Elie Wiesel
Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
Victorine by Frances Parkinson Keyes
The Winthrop Woman by Anya Seton
Yertle the Turtle and Other Stories by Dr. Seuss

1958 Most Popular TV Shows

1. Gunsmoke (CBS)
2. Wagon Train (NBC)
3. Have Gun Will Travel (CBS)
4. The Rifleman (ABC)
5. The Danny Thomas Show (CBS)
6. Maverick (ABC)
7. Tales of Wells Fargo (NBC)
8. The Real McCoys (ABC)
9. I’ve Got a Secret (CBS)
10. The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp (ABC)

1958 Billboard Number One Songs

December 30, 1957January 10, 1958:
April Love – Pat Boone

January 11February 14:
At The Hop – Danny and the Juniors

February 15March 21:
Don’t (I Beg of You) – Elvis Presley

March 22April 25:
Tequila – The Champs

April 26May 2:
Twilight Time – The Platters

May 3May 16:
Witch Doctor – David Seville

May 17June 13:
All I Have To Do Is Dream – The Everly Brothers

June 14July 25:
Purple People Eater – Sheb Wooley

July 26August 8:
Hard Headed Woman – Elvis Presley

August 9August 22:
Poor Little Fool – Ricky Nelson

August 23August 29:
Volare – Domenico Modugno

August 30September 5:
Little Star – The Elegants

September 6October 3:
Volare – Domenico Modugno

October 4November 14:
It’s All In The Game – Tommy Edwards

November 15November 21:
It’s Only Make Believe – Conway Twitty

November 22November 28:
Tom Dooley – Kingston Trio

November 29December 5:
It’s Only Make Believe – Conway Twitty

December 6December 26:
To Know Him is To Love Him – Teddy Bears

December 27, 1958 – January 18, 1959:
Chipmunk Song – David Seville & The Chipmunks


World Series Champions: New York Yankees
NFL Champions: Baltimore Colts
NBA Champions: St. Louis Hawks
Stanley Cup Champs: Montreal Canadiens
U.S. Open Golf Tommy Bolt
U.S. Tennis: (Men/Ladies) Ashley J. Cooper/Althea Gibson
Wimbledon (Men/Women): Ashley Cooper/Althea Gibson
NCAA Football Champions: Iowa & LSU
NCAA Basketball Champions: Kentucky
Kentucky Derby: Tim Tam
World Cup (Soccer): Brazil

More 1958 Facts & History Resources:

BabyBoomers.com (1958)
Most Popular Baby Names (BabyCenter.com)
Popular and Notable Books (popculture.us)
Broadway Shows that Opened in 1958X
1958 Calendar, courtesy of Time and Date.com
Fact Monster
Fifties Web (1958)
1950s, Infoplease.com World History
1958 in Movies (according to IMDB)
Retrowaste Vintage Culture
1958 Television
1950s Slang
Wikipedia 1958