1950 Fun Facts, Trivia & History
Quick Facts from 1950:
- World Changing Event: Pope Pius XII confirmed there was no conflict between Christianity and the theory of evolution, and the Church officially supported the idea of theistic evolution.
- The immortal cancer cells collected from patient Henrietta Lacks months before her 1950 death are still alive and being used today for research.
- Influential Songs include: Goodnight, Irene by The Weavers with Gordon Jenkins, Daddy’s Little Girl by The Mills Brothers and Here Comes Peter Cottontail by Gene Autry
- The Movies to Watch include Father of the Bride, Harvey, All About Eve, Sunset Boulevard, Rio Grande, The Asphalt Jungle and Cinderella
- The Most Famous Person in America was probably John Wayne
- Notable books include: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis and Kon-Tiki: Across the Pacific in a Raft by Thor Heyerdahl
- Minimum Wage in 1950: 75 cents per hour
Stromberg-Carlson TV: $279.95
- Did You Know? Since 1950, acceptance of an Academy Award statuette requires that neither winners nor their heirs may sell the statuettes without first offering to sell them back to the Academy for $1. If a winner refuses to agree to this stipulation, then the Academy keeps the statuette.
- The Funny Guy was: Milton Berle
The Funniest TV Duo: Sid Caesar and Imogene Coca
- The US Army rank of 5 Star General is still considered an active rank, although no one has attained that rank since 1950, when it was held by Omar Bradley.
Top Ten Baby Names of 1950:
Linda, Mary, Patricia, Barbara, Susan, James, Robert, John, Michael, David
The Hotties and Fashion Icons:
Lauren Bacall, Martine Carol, Doris Day, Ava Gardner, Rita Hayworth, Eartha Kitt, Marilyn Monroe, Jane Russell, Elizabeth Taylor, Lana Turner
Sex Symbols and Hollywood Hunks:
Humphrey Bogart, Montgomery Clift, Gregory Peck
“Most human beings have an almost infinite capacity for taking things for granted”
– Aldous Huxley
“Fasten your seat belts. It’s going to be a bumpy night.”
– Betty Davis, in ‘All About Eve’
“All right, Mr. DeMille, I’m ready for my close-up.”
“I am big! It’s the pictures that got small.”
– Gloria Swanson, in ‘Sunset Boulevard’
Time Magazine’s Man of the Year:
The American Fighting-Man (Korean War Troops)
Pop Culture News:
Kathryn Johnston became the first girl to play Little League baseball in 1950 when she tucked her hair under her hat, remaned herself “Tubby”, and joined the Kings Dairy team, posing as a boy. When she told her coach she was a girl, he said “That’s O.K., you’re a darned good player.”
The FBI made the first ‘Ten Most Wanted’ list in 1950. There were others of course. # 11 was Willie Sutton. He was probably the most successful and famous bank robber of all time, although he was caught several times. He was once quoted by a reporter, when asked why he robbed banks, “because that’s where the money is.”
7UP originally contained lithium citrate, a mood-stabilizing drug, until 1950.
An articulate man (and snazzy dresser), Mr. Sutton later said that he never said it, although the statement on itself was true. “Why did I rob banks? Because I enjoyed it. I loved it. I was more alive when I was inside a bank, robbing it, than at any other time in my life. I enjoyed everything about it so much that one or two weeks later I’d be out looking for the next job. But to me the money was the chips, that’s all.”
Minute Rice appeared on the shelves for the first time.
It is estimated 50% of all American films made before 1950 and over 90% of films made before 1929 are lost forever.
Disposable diapers were invented by Marion Donovan.
Smokey Bear was a real bear who was rescued from a forest fire and later became a living mascot for wildfire prevention.
If I Ran the Zoo by Dr. Seuss, published in 1950, is the first recorded instance of the word “nerd.”
Ranch Dressing originated from The Hidden Valley Dude Ranch in 1950, in Santa Barbara, California,
The Myxoma Virus (a type of pox virus) was deliberately released into the rabbit population in Australia as a means of population control, causing the death of over 500 million rabbits
Private Kenneth Shadrick was the first U.S. casualty of the Korean War, on July 5th 1950.
The US Navy sprayed San Francisco with “harmless” bacteria to simulate a biological attack. The not-so-harmless bacteria caused a spike in a rare UTI, killing one man. There were many unusually high reports of an increase in pneumonia and urinary tract infections. A lawsuit against the government was rejected on the grounds that the government held legal immunity.
Green plastic garbage bags, made from polyethylene, were invented by Harry Wasylyk.
The modern day “pirate accent” we know comes from Robert Newton’s portrayal of Long John Silver in the 1950 Disney adaptation of Treasure Island. Before that, there was no universal “pirate accent”. #arrrrh
After the Empire State Building opened in New York City in 1931, much of its office space went unrented. It was nicknamed the “Empty State Building” by New Yorkers and didn’t become profitable until 1950.
The first metal lunchbox, featuring Hopalong Cassidy, was produced by Aladdin (the company, NOT the 1001 Arabian Nights hero).
The 1950 toy lab set “Gilbert U-238 Atomic Energy Laboratory” contained uranium ore, polonium, a Geiger counter and a cloud chamber.
John Hopps invented the world’s first cardiac pacemaker. It was larger than life and had to be used outside the body of the first recipient.
Racing pioneer C.J. Hart was credited with creating the first commercial drag racing strip on the runway of the Orange County Airport in Santa Ana, California on June 19.
The average worker in the US today would only have to work 11 hours per week to be as productive as a 40 Hours per week worker in 1950.
Watching ‘Your Show of Shows’ on television.
1st appearances & 1950’s Most Popular Christmas gifts, toys and presents:
Little People and the Safety School Bus, Wooly Willy, official Magic-8 Ball, Silly Putty
Silly Putty was introduced as a toy March 6, 1950 by Peter Hodgson. But was invented in 1943 by James Wright, who was working for General Electric while trying to make synthetic rubber for the War Effort – it was in the middle of World War II. A guy named Earl Warrick also claimed to invent it about the same time.
Silly Putty sold pretty quickly. Kids found uses for it. Mostly making things, then squishing them. Plus you could copy your favorite comics. In early 1960s, they started selling internationally, and they even took one into Space in Apollo 8. In 1977, Silly Putty became part of ‘Big Crayon’ when Crayola bought it. Silly Putty entered The National Toy Hall of Fame’s Third class in 2001, along with Tonka Trucks. Silly Putty is still a popular stocking stuffer today.
Nobel Prize Winners:
Physics – Cecil Frank Powell
Chemistry – Otto Paul Hermann Diels, Kurt Alder
Medicine – Edward Calvin Kendall, Tadeusz Reichstein, Philip Showalter Hench
Literature – Earl (Bertrand Arthur William) Russell
Peace – Ralph Bunche
Popular and Notable Books From 1950:
Across the River and into the Trees by Ernest Hemingway
The Adventurer by Mika Waltari
The Cardinal by Henry Morton Robinson
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
The Disenchanted by Budd Schulberg
The Egyptian – Mika Waltari
Floodtide by Frank Yerby
Joy Street by Frances Parkinson Keyes
Jubilee Trail by Gwen Bristow
The Parasites by Daphne du Maurier
Star Money by Kathleen Winsor
The Wall by John Hersey
Best Picture Oscar:
All The King’s Men (presented in 1950)
Broadway Show – Guys and Dolls (Musical) Opened on November 24, 1950 and Closed: November 28, 1953
1950 Most Popular TV shows:
1. Texaco Star Theatre (NBC)
2. Fireside Theatre (NBC)
3. Philco TV Playhouse (NBC)
4. Your Show of Shows (NBC)
5. The Colgate Comedy Hour (NBC)
6. Gillette Cavalcade of Sports (NBC)
7. The Lone Ranger (ABC)
8. Arthur Godfrey’s Talent Scouts (CBS)
9. Hopalong Cassidy (NBC)
10. Mama (NBC)
1950 United States Census:
Total US Population: 151,325,798
1. New York, New York – 7,891,957
2. Chicago, Illinois – 3,620,962
3. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania – 2,071,605
4. Los Angeles, California – 1,970,358
5. Detroit, Michigan – 1,849,568
6. Baltimore, Maryland – 949,708
7. Cleveland, Ohio – 914,808
8. St. Louis, Missouri – 856,796
9. Washington, District of Columbia – 802,178
10. Boston, Massachusetts – 801,444
World Series Champions: New York Yankees
NFL Champions: Cleveland Browns
NBA Champions: Minneapolis Lakers
Stanley Cup Champs: Detroit Red Wings
U.S. Open Golf Ben Hogan
U.S. Tennis: (Men/Ladies) Arthur Larsen/Margaret Osborne duPont
Wimbledon (Men/Women): Budge Patty/Louis Brough
NCAA Football Champions: Oklahoma
NCAA Basketball Champions: CCNY
Kentucky Derby: Middleground