1959 Facts, Fun Trivia and History
Quick Facts from 1959
Top Ten Baby Names of 1959
Mary, Susan, Linda, Karen, Donna, Michael, David, James, John, Robert
Fashion Icons and Sex Symbols
Carroll Baker, Brigitte Bardot, Claudia Cardinale, Doris Day, Angie Dickinson, Anita Ekberg, Annette Funicello, Ava Gardner, Audrey Hepburn, Anna Karina, Gina Lollobrigida, Sophia Loren, Marilyn Monroe, Julie Newmar, Kim Novak, Leslie Parrish, Stella Stevens, Elizabeth Taylor, Mamie Van Doren
Sex Symbols and Hollywood Hunks
Warren Beatty, Harry Belafonte, Elvis Presley
Oscars: 31st Academy Awards (1959)
The 31st Academy Awards ceremony was held on April 6, 1959, at the Pantages Theatre in Hollywood. Multiple hosts, including Bob Hope and David Niven, led the event. Gigi stole the show, winning nine awards, including Best Picture. David Niven won Best Actor for Separate Tables, and Susan Hayward was awarded Best Actress for her role in I Want to Live!.
Grammy Awards: 1st Annual Grammy Awards (1959)
The 1959 Grammys ceremony took place on May 4, 1959. Two ceremonies co-occurred—one at the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills and another at the Park Sheraton Hotel in New York City. Perry Como and Ella Fitzgerald won the Best Vocal Performance awards for “Catch a Falling Star” and “Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Irving Berlin Song Book,” respectively.
Emmy Awards: 11th Primetime Emmy Awards (1959)
The 11th Primetime Emmy Awards took place on May 6, 1959, at the Moulin Rouge Nightclub in Hollywood. Raymond Burr took home the Best Actor award for Perry Mason, while Jane Wyatt won Best Actress for Father Knows Best. Alcoa-Goodyear Theatre received the Best Dramatic Series accolade, and The Jack Benny Program won Best Comedy Series.
“There is a fifth dimension beyond that which is known to man. It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, and it lies between the pit of man’s fears and the summit of his knowledge. This is the dimension of imagination. It is an area which we call ‘The Twilight Zone.’”
“Well, nobody’s perfect.”
After filming Some Like it Hot in 1959 Billy Wilder said about filming another movie with Marilyn Monroe, “I have discussed this with my doctor and my psychiatrist and they tell me I’m too old and too rich to go through this again.”
Time Magazine’s Man of the Year
Dwight D. Eisenhower
Mary Ann Mobley (Brandon, MS)
Terry Huntingdon (California)
The Scandals & Tragedies
Mysterious TV Star Violent Death: George Reeves (gunshot wound – murder or suicide?)
In testimony before Congress, gameshow contestant Charles Van Doren admitted he had been coached before appearing on NBC’s 21 game show in 1956.
1928’s scandalous Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D.H. Lawrence was officially published in the United States.
The Guggenheim Museum
The Guggenheim Museum opened in Manhattan, New York City, on October 15, 1959, ushering in a new era of architecture for museum spaces. The Guggenheim Museum in New York City has been a landmark for the arts. The museum is famous for its unique spiral design by architect Frank Lloyd Wright, which has become iconic in modern architecture around the world.
The museum was founded by Solomon R. Guggenheim and his wife, Peggy, as a place to house their art collection. The building’s construction was partly funded by the proceeds from selling paintings by Wassily Kandinsky, one of the museum’s earliest acquisitions. The building’s design was nearly complete when Frank Lloyd Wright died in 1959, but the project had already been so closely associated with Wright that it is often referred to as a “Frank Lloyd Wright creation.” His vision for this iconic building has stood the test of time and inspired many other museums worldwide.
1959 Pop Culture Facts & History
During screenings of the 1959 film The Tingler – a film about a creature that gets inside a person’s spine, causing them to feel a tingling that can only be stopped by screaming – buzzers were placed in random seats that caused the audience to feel tingling during the film.
The Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, Iowa, is the historic venue where Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and The Big Bopper performed on February 2, 1959.
A 1959 earthquake in Montana caused an 80 million ton landslide that created Quake Lake by blocking the Madison River in the Gallatin National Forest. 28 people were killed.
Kiwi fruit is named after Kiwi birds, and before 1959, were known as Chinese Gooseberries. They originated in China and came to Australia in the early 1900s.
The British Alpine Hannibal Expedition, led by John Hoyte, found the path used by Hannibal’s army to cross the Alps and invade Roman Italy successfully traversed the Alps from France to Italy with an 11-year-old former circus elephant named Jumbo.
In 1959, Westerns were the most popular television shows. There were 26 running that year.
In 1959, the FDA proposed a standard for peanut butter that was not finalized until a decision by the U.S. District Court of Appeals in 1970. The final standard required a 90% peanut content.
Bob Timm and John Wayne Cook broke the World Record for the longest manned, refueled flight in 1959 by traveling 150,000 miles over 64 days without landing.
25 South African students climbed into a telephone booth, setting a world record for the ‘event’ they had just created. For visitors born before 1990, a ‘phone booth’ contained a large ‘cellphone’ connected via wires to other telephones. They initially cost a nickel (5 cents) for a three-minute call.
Ben Hur won 11 Oscars.
The Rat Pack first appeared, including Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Peter Lawford, and Joey Bishop.
Russia’s ‘Luna-2’ landed on the moon, the first successful landing by an unmanned craft.
The Conair hair dryer changed the way hair was styled in the American household.
Neil Sedaka’s first Top Ten Hit Oh! Carol referred to his high school girlfriend Carol Klein. She is better known as songwriter/singer Carole King.
Scientists discovered the Y chromosome was needed to create males.
The opening scene of Raiders of the Lost Ark was inspired by a comic book story from 1959 – The Prize of Pizarro, in Uncle Scrooge #26, where Donald Duck, his nephews, and Uncle Scrooge must evade a succession of booby traps.
A Cement Truck crashed near Winganon, Oklahoma in 1959, It was too heavy to move, so locals painted and decorated it like a spaceship.
MLB player Stan Musial demanded his paycheck be cut by $20,000 after he had a subpar year in 1959.
Ermal Fraze devised a can-opening method in 1959 (patent #3439833) that would come to dominate the canned beverage market. His invention was the “pull-tab”.
The United States built a plane, the North American X-15, capable of going 4,520 MPH.
Disneyland Monorail System, the first daily operating monorail system in The Americas, opened to the public in Anaheim, California.
In 1959, the “inch” was adjusted by two-millionths of an inch to make it equal precisely 25.4 millimeters.
The USA has been sending checks annually for $4,085 to Cuba for the lease of Guantanamo Bay. Since 1959, only one check has been cashed by accident. The 1903 Lease for Guantanamo has no fixed expiration date.
The television cartoon Futurama is named after a 1939 World’s Fair exhibit that showed what they thought the world would be like in 1959.
January 3rd: Alaska became state # 49.
August 21st: Hawaii became the 50th state.
Nancy Drew books were revised in 1959 to eliminate racist stereotypes.
The Day the Music Died
The plane crash (in foggy conditions near Clear Lake, Iowa) that killed Buddy Holly, The Big Bopper, Ritchie Valens, and pilot Roger Peterson wasn’t described as such until Don McLean’s 1971 song American Pie.
At the first Grammy Awards, held in 1959, Frank Sinatra won a single award, and Alvin and The Chipmunks won three.
Dyatlov Pass Incident: Nine students went hiking in the Ural Mountains in 1959 and were inexplicably killed by an “unknown compelling force” that stumped investigators.
Australian racer Sir Jack Brabham finished the 1959 Formula One race on foot when his car ran out of fuel with 500 yards to go. He pushed the car the rest of the way to clinch the title.
Colonel William Rankin became the only known person to survive a fall through a cumulonimbus thunderstorm cloud. He suffered from frostbite, welts, bruises, and severe decompression as a result of the 40-minute fall over North Carolina.
Everybody watched the biblical epic Ben-Hur in their local theaters.
Nobel Prize Winners
Physics – Emilio Gino Segrè, Owen Chamberlain
The BIC Crystal ballpoint pen was sold in the US in 1959 for $0.19. It is still sold for about $0.19.
Mattel’s Barbie doll and board game RISK debuted.
Volvo invented the seatbelt in 1959 and left the patent open so other car manufacturers could use its design.
In 1959, Entemanns created the see-through cake box.
Guggenheim Museum, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, 1071 Fifth Avenue, Manhattan, New York, opened.
Berry Gordy, Jr founded Motown Records (then called Tamla Records).
Bonanza premiered on NBC. It was the first regularly scheduled TV program presented in color.
The Twilight Zone premiered on CBS.
Troll Dolls were created in 1959 by Danish fisherman and woodcutter Thomas Dam.
The Boeing 707 airliner began service.
The first appearance of Groot from Guardians of the Galaxy was in a 1959 comic book called Tales to Astonish, issue #13.
Best Film Oscar Winner
Gigi (presented in 1959)
Popular and Best-selling Books From 1959
A Separate Peace by John Knowles
1959 Most Popular TV Shows
1. Gunsmoke (CBS)
1959 Billboard Number One Songs
World Series Champions: Los Angeles Dodgers
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