The Fabulous Fifties: A Decade to Remember Close your eyes, Baby Follow my heart The 50-s were one of the most Call on the memories popular and optimistic decades in Here in the dark American history: the Second World We’ll let the magic War has ended, soldiers are coming Take us away back to the states and families are en- Back to the feelings joying life again. The country is in a We shared when they played state of complete bliss; the economy is booming and Americans are experi- In the still of the night encing happy days. Middle classHold me, darling, hold me tight Americans have no problem spending So real, so right their money yet. Lost in the fifties tonight.
Entertainment of the Fifties The decade of the Fifties gave birth to Rock and Roll. While parents were listening toFrank Sinatra their children were moving to a new music style. Young generation was twist-ing, thrusting and bumping to the sounds of rock and roll. The prosperity of the 50s allowedteenagers to spend money on records by their favorite bands and singers. The roots of rock and roll lay in African American blues and gospel. DJ Alan Freed began a rhythm-and-blues show on one of the radio stations. Soon the audience grew and grew, and Freed thought up the term "rock and roll." White artists tried to sing R&B but their voices were too weak for this music style, so producers began to search a white artist who could capture the African American sound. And they found Elvis Presley. He took an old style and made it his own. Within two years he became the most popular name in en- tertainment business in the USA. Rock and Roll was shocking for Ameri-ca. Young teenagers were against the musictheir parents loved. In general, the older genera-tion didn’t like rock and roll too and proclaimedit Satan’s music (first of all, because it was themusic of ethnic groups and lower classes). Itwas banned from many radio stations andschools. But when Elvis appeared on TV withhis hits Love Me Tender and Heartbreak Hotelthe rating of the show soared and rock and rollbecame the music of the masses.
As TV became more com-monly available, people were en-chanted. This was much better thanradio. You became very popular andneat if your family had a TV. The earliest TV shows werequite successful. One of the popularshows for teenagers was AmericanBandstand. Dick Clark, the star ofthe show, got more than fifty thou-sand fan letters a week. They Among the first TV there were about 120thought watching this show was Westerns. Mostly in black and white, cowboysmore important than doing their set the standards of right and wrong and taughthomework. Teenagers loved Ameri- people about heroes.can Bandstand. In 1956 some scientists did a study on how much kids ages 10-16 watched television. The re- sults showed that an average kid watched six hours of television a day which was equal to how long they went to school everyday. Television was groovy.
SPORTS in the 50s People in the Fifties loved sports. They had more free time and enough money to go in for sports, more and more Americans participated in differ- ent athletic activities or were fans of all types of sports. All American sports such as base- ball and football gave opportuni- ties for the rise of stars like Jackie Robinson, Roy Campanella, Henry (Hank) Aaron, Juan Marichal, Jim Brown, and Frank Gifford. As television became more popu- lar, other sports found a lot of fans. College football and professional golf became very popular. That time there was an idea that to suc- ceed in business you needed to play golf. In 1950 women created Ladies Professional Golf Associa- Sports like tennis, basketball tion and joined men on golf cours-and boxing were also popular in es all over America.the fifties. Althea Gibson was thefirst African-American to play inthe U. S. Lawn Tennis Nationals atForest Hills, NY. Major names inbasketball were Wilt Chamber-lain, Elgin Baylor, and DolphSchayes. Another favorite, boxing,gave opportunities to great ath-letes, Sugar Ray Robinson andRocky Marciano.
WORLD EVENTS The world was recovering from the Soviet Union control andthe Second World War. People were the second one was under the con-building houses, plants and factories. trol of the USA.The American economy was growing During the 1950s the USAfaster and faster. But 1950s weren’t also participated in some localpeace and quiet for the American so- wars and internal conflicts such asciety. That time the Cold War – the Arab-Israeli conflict, Algerian andstate of political conflict, military ten- Cuban revolutions.sion and eco- Innomic compe- 1953tition between the UStwo super- testedpowers the theirSoviet Union firstand the United hydro-States - started genand played the bombwhole decade. onThe result of Mar-the Cold War shalbecame the Is-war in Korea. The Soviet Union was lands. Hawaii became the 50s stateto aid the Northern part of Korea, and of the US. In the field of sciencethe United States to help the South. In the first IBM computer was made:the long run Korea was divided into DNA structure was discovered andtwo parts: the northern part was under NASA was established.
Famous peopleMarilyn Monroe Achievement(real name Norma Jeanie Award at age 36.Mortenson or Baker) wasborn on June 1, 1926 in LosAngeles, California. She Arthurwas an icon of women’sbeauty and Hollywood Millerfilms of that time. The was born on1950s proved to be a gooddecade for Marilyn Monroe. October 17, 1915 inShe became famous in New York city and1950s for her films“Gentlemen Prefer was a leadingBlondes” (1953), “How to American dramatistmarry a Millionaire” (1953) Elvis Presleyand “Some like It who is best known was born on January 8,Hot” (1959).She was mar- work “Death of theried to baseball legend Joe 1935 in Mississippi. He wasDiMaggio and playwright an American musician and salesman” won theArthur Miller. She died due actor. A cultural icon, he’s Pulitzer Prize. Into an overdose of sleeping widely known as “The Kingpills. 1956, Miller was of Rock and Roll”. Presley awarder honorary is regarded as one of the most important figures of Degree at the uni- 20th-century popular cul- versity of Michi- ture. He had a very good gan. voice and sang and played in many genres. He is the best-selling solo artist in the history of popular music. Nom- inated for 14 Grammys, he won three, and re- ceived the Grammy Lifetime
Home life of the Fifties Men also felt a societal pressure. A good man had to have a wife and kids. His boss liked it. His neighbours and family expected it. On 50s there was a tradition to sit down to eat together. Mom cooked because it was her job. Most of the women worked at home as a housewife and didn’t get money for their work. Family life was After dinner the family would watch TVvery different in the Fifties. if they had one, which by the end of the decadeFor starters, most probably it was likely. The whole family watched the samewas a two - parent household. show, because there was only one TV in theBoth a mother and a father. whole house. Divorce was not a com- Kids spent their free time listening tomon thing. First of all be- their own record player or transistor radio.cause of societal pressure. They often visited with one another to talk toYou had to get married and each other. Older children usually went to a so-stay married, regardless of da shop or diner after school and hung outhow unhappy you were. Di- there.vorce was a stigma. Peoplespent more of their lives mar-ried than they do today due tolower divorce rates and earli-er ages at marriage. Today a woman can geta well-paid job but back inthe Fifties she could onlywork in traditional women’sjobs such as a secretary, ateacher, a nurse, a librarianand so far. So it was an eco-nomic motive to stay married.
Technological advances and scientific discoveries Great steps were made in Ameri- invented in 1954.can science during the 1950s. Im- In 1955 Jonas Salk invented a polio vac-portant discoveries were almost cine which was given to more thandaily events. seven million American students. There were massive military A surprise came in 1957; a 184 poundprojects with large group of scien- satellite was launched by the Russians.tists who worked with each other They named it Sputnik 1. The spacetoward a specified research goal. race begins 4 months later the UnitedThe example is the production of States launch a smaller satellite.the atomic bomb. In 1958 the first plastic Coke bottle It is difficult to separate the appeared.achievements of science and tech-nology of the 1950s from the otheraspects of life. Here are only someof them. Credit cards be-came widespreadduring the dec-ade. The first copy ma-chine was made1950 also. In 1954 Bell Tel-ephone labs pro-duce solar battery.Polypropylene was