Timeline – 1954 to 1973

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Top stars: John Wayne, Dean Martin & Jerry Lewis, Gary Cooper, (21/218)

Top 10 Moneymakers 1954

  • John Wayne
  • Martin and Lewis
  • Gary Cooper
  • James Stewart
  • Marilyn Monroe
  • Alan Ladd
  • William Holden
  • Bing Crosby
  • Jane Wyman
  • Marlon Brando

Top grossing films of 1954

  1. White Christmas
  2. The Caine Mutiny
  3. The Glenn Miller Story
  4. The Egyptian
  5. Rear Window
  6. The Country Girl
  7. The Barefoot Contessa

The popularity of TV causes radio programmers to adopt a largely musical format. (23/360)

JAN1954                 Tallulah Bankhead appears on the cover of Confidential guzzling booze out of her shoe. (88/109)

14JAN1954             Monroe marries Joe DiMaggio at San Francisco City Hall. http://marilynmonroepages.com/Timeline.html

18JAN1954             At a party at Ciro’s, Darryl Zanuck, slightly drunk, strips to the waist and swings on a trapeze bar as a Life magazine photographer shoots it.

23FEB1954             The first large scale vaccination of children against polio begins in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. http://americasbesthistory.home.att.net/abhtimeline1950.html

08FEB/14MAY1954                Howard Hughes dispenses with the Code Seal and releases the 3D musical ‘The French Line’ starring Jane Russell. It is the first time a Big Five studio had dared to distribute a film without a Code Seal making RKO liable for a $25,000 fine…which Howard Hughes did not pay. (77/310) http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0047000/releaseinfo

FEB1954                 The Senate passes an appropriation bill for the continued funding of McCarthy’s investigation committee by a vote of 85 to 1. (89/34)

Early 1954              By early 1954 the 3D boom is already over. (95/112)

Early 1954              Boeing unveils the jet that the aviation world has been seeking – a long-range luxury liner version of Howard Hughes’s beloved Constellation: the 707. (77/283)

01MAR1954            US tests hydrogen bomb in Bikini and produces the biggest ever man-made explosion so far in the Pacific archipelago of Bikini, part of the Marshall Islands. (94/345) http://news.bbc.co.uk/onthisday/hi/dates/stories/march/1/newsid_2781000/2781419.stm

05MAR1954            ‘Creature from the Black Lagoon’ opens. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0046876/releaseinfo

MAR1954                Howard Hughes becomes the sole owner of RKO for $23,489,478. (28/270) as a prelude to selling RKO to General Tire and Rubber Company for $18 million on 18JUL1955. (95/199)

MAR1954                Hollywood’s first official Censor Czar Will Hays dies. (28/270)

MAR1954                Gable leaves MGM. (44/177) His last MGM movie is “Betrayed” (1954 – http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0046770/)
After ‘Mogambo’ earned rave reviews, Dore Schary increased Gable’s contract renewal offer but Gable refused and left MGM in March 1954 after 51 films. Moving on, he finds that freelance deals pay mor Ethan his annual $500,000 MGM salary. (305/107) Everything MGM was removed from Gable’s life, except Grace Kelly. He rekindled his affair with Kelly, meeting her at the Bel Air Hotel bunglalow. She was also sleeping with Bing Crosby and William Holden at the time. (242/96)
Greer Garson’s contract is also not renewed. (51/375) (290/107)

09MAR1954            Edward R. Murrow – See it Now (CBS-TV) – “A Report on Senator Joseph R. McCarthy” http://www.honors.umd.edu/HONR269J/archive/Murrow540309.html

14MAR1954            Errol Flynn ends his association with Warner Bros. (21/222)

25MAR1954            Oscars ceremony at the Pantages Theater…NBC broadcasts the Oscars for the 2nd time…Dean Martin sings ‘That’s Amore’ from “The Caddy”…43 million people watch…Donald O’Connor is the MC… “From Here to Eternity” is the charmed entrant…Joseph Breen accepts an honorary Oscar as after 20 years at the helm, he is stepping down from the post. (77/6)

31MAR1954            By buying all outstanding shares of RKO stock, Howard Hughes becomes the only individual to ever completely own a major studio. (21/222)

APR-JUL1954         Geneva Conference is convened to bring peace to Vietnam (April to July). The country is divided at the 17th parallel, pending democratic elections. Dien Bien Phu, French military outpost in Vietnam, falls to Viet Minh army (May 7). http://www.infoplease.com/year/1954.html

16APR1954             Hollywood Freeway opens (11/14) (66/49)

22APR1953             Joseph McCarthy begins televised Senate hearings into alleged Communist influence in the United States Army.   Later this year, on December 2, the U.S. Congress votes to condemn Senator McCarthy for his conduct during the Army investigation hearings. http://americasbesthistory.home.att.net/abhtimeline1950.html

30APR1954            Creature From the Black Lagoon, in 3D, opens at the Paramount. (21/222)

17MAY1954            In Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka the Supreme Court unanimously bans racial segregation in public schools. http://www.infoplease.com/year/1954.html

09JUN1954             Senator McCarthy’s famous self-destruction at the hands of army counsel Joseph Welsh. (17/108)
In 1954, Senator McCarthy was censured by the Senate… (74/149)

17JUN1948             Earl Carroll dies in a plane crash. (p294/113)

19JUN1954             Them! opens and becomes Warner Bros. highest grossing movie for 194. (95/186)

JUL1954                 On The Waterfront is released. (80/213)

20AUG1954            Comedian Johnny Carson emcees the first live color TV show on CBS in Hollywood. (28/272)

AUG1854                The “re-premiere” of Gone with the Wind is held at Grauman’s Chinese Theater. (108/13)

15SEP1954             Infamous skirt-blowing scene shot for The Seven Year Itch. The Los Angeles location filming took place on 09JAN1955 on the Twentieth Century-Fox lot.

27SEP1954             The Tonight Show premieres, first hosted by Steve Allen until 1957 when it was taken over by Jack Paar who hosted until 1962. (80/292)

29SEP1954             Traffic on Hollywood Blvd has been rerouted for the premiere of Judy Garland’s A Star Is Born at the Pantages Theater. (21/224) Even though it was a prestigious CinemaScope production it lost money on it original release due the budget overruns caused by Jack Warner’s indecisiveness. (95/120) (108/3) Among the attendees are: Bogie and Bacall, Elizabeth Taylor and Michael Wilding, Edward G. Robinson, Robert Stack, Kim Novak, Marlene Dietrich, Liberace, Mickey Rooney, Olivia de Havilland, Lucy and Desi, Alan Ladd, Sinatra, Donna Reed, Fred MacMurray, Charleton Heston, Jack Benny, Groucho Marx. The post-premiere party is held at the Ambassador Hotel. (108/18) There were sixteen klieg lights at the premiere.  (108/21)

SEP1954                    A fire breaks out at Perino’s Restaurant in Wilshire Blvd and damages the interior. (Facebook)

OCT1954                   Cecil B. DeMille’s production of The Ten Commandments goes to Egypt for shooting. (p150/120)

06OCT1954               Marilyn announces her divorce from Joe DiMaggio.

OCT1954 (approx.)   Joseph Breen retires from the Production Code Administration (aka the Breen Office which oversaw the Hays Code (more officially known as the Production Code), after which it became the Johnston Office. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hays_Office

Joseph Breen retires as director of the Production Code Administration after 20 years. Geoffrey Shurlock is appointed to replace him, and soon afterwards the Production Code is amended to allow miscegenation, liquor and some profane words in future Hollywood productions. http://www.pictureshowman.com/timeline_1950_1960.cfm

03OCT1954            “Father Knows Best” premiers on CBS, and stays on the air on various networks until 1963. (80/100)

06OCT1954            Joe & Marilyn’s Newlywed Home – 508 N. Palm Dr. On October 6, 1954 this house became the focus of national attention when Marilyn stepped outside the front lawn with her lawyer to announce she was seeking a divorce after only 9 months of marriage. http://www.marilynmonroe.ca/mmsites/page0/page0.html

14OCT1954            Joseph Breen formally steps down from his work at the Hays Office. (77/314)

14OCT1954            Paramount’s “White Christmas” is released, the first VistaVision film. (95/120) VistaVision becomes technologically obsolete by the introduction of Kodak’s 5250 color film stock. (95/120)

15OCT1954            TV show Rin Tin Tin premieres on ABC and remained on prime time until 28AUG1959. (80/5)

27OCT1954            “Disneyland” commences on ABC TV. (89/325) And moves to NBC 7 years later as “Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color”. (95/140)

NOV1954                Dorothy Dandridge was the first African American woman to appear on the cover of Life magazine. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Life_magazine#Success

05NOV1954            Joe DiMaggio and Frank Sinatra go on “Wrong Door Raid” looking for Marilyn. http://marilynmonroepages.com/Timeline.html
Wrong Door Raid – 8122 Waring Avenue – Joe DiMaggio and Frank Sinatra broke down the door to an apartment they believed Marilyn was in, hoping to catch her having an affair. Unfortunately, they broke into the wrong apartment. Marilyn was in the building with a female friend and was able to make her escape. http://www.marilynmonroe.ca/mmsites/page0/page0.html

Late NOV1954        Ida Koverman, Louis B. Mayer’s longtime secretary, dies. (reported in the L.A. Times 25NOV1954)

02DEC1954            The result of a Senate committee into McCarthy’s conduct condemns McCarthy by his colleagues in the Senate by a vote of 67 to 22. Though he retains his senatorial privileges, McCarthy’s power does not survive censure. (89/36) April 22, 1954 – Joseph McCarthy begins televised Senate hearings into alleged Communist influence in the United States Army.   Later this year, on December 2, the U.S. Congress votes to condemn Senator McCarthy for his conduct during the Army investigation hearings. http://americasbesthistory.home.att.net/abhtimeline1950.html

1954                        The FCC lifted its ban on new TV stations in APR1952 and by 1954 there were 233 commercial stations and 26 million TV homes.

1954                        Japan gives birth to the long-running series of Godzilla monster films with Ishiro Honda’s Gojira. http://www.filmsite.org/milestones1950s.html

1954                        During on-location filming in Egypt of the Exodus sequence for 1956’s The Ten Commandments, the then 73 year-old Cecil B. DeMille climbed a 107-foot ladder to the top of the massive Per Rameses set and suffered a near fatal heart attack. Miraculously, aided by his daughter Cecilia, but against his doctor’s orders, he was back directing the film within a week. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cecil_B._DeMille (95/165)

1954                        In 1954 the CBS network became the single largest advertising medium in the world. Its profits reached $11.4 million – by 1957 it would total $22.2 million. (89/348)

1954                        Confidential wanted to do an exposé of Rock’s homosexuality and offered Bob Preble money for information and pictures. Eventually, someone from the magazine would offer Jack Navaar $10,000 – a large sum in 1954 – to talk about living with Rock. Jack called Henry Willson and told him Confidential was after Rock. (49/101)

1954                        Life in America in 1954: average family income is around $4000 a year…two-bedroom house in the suburbs is around $16,000 and to furnish it costs around $1500 which would include a seventeen-inch Magnavox TV…food for a family of four costs around $15 a week…a brand new Ford convertible is around $2400…interest at the bank is around 4%…gasoline is 20 cents a gallon…motels $2 a night…meals in a first class restaurant $1.50 (108/4)

1954                        In 1954 The Arthur Godfrey Show was the top-rated morning program. (93/196)

1954                        Allen Ginsberg moves to Berkeley, California where he soon emerges as the poet laureate of the Beat Generation. (80/23)

1954                        By 1954, up to 50 million people were watching I Love Lucy helping CBS TV in no small part to show a net profit for the first time. (93/199)

1954                        The Sheila Graham Television Show debuts as Sheila nears the peak of her career in the 1950s. (45/297)

1954                        The Mae West Revue opened at the Sahara Hotel in Las Vegas. http://maewest.blogspot.com/2005/02/mae-west-muscle-men.html

1954                        The first TV dinner is introduced. (89/7)

1954                        In 1954, gasoline cost 27 cents a gallon, eggs were 30 cents per dozen, steak cost 80 cents a pound. A 2-bedroom house that a young couple just starting out cost around $10,000 and their mortgage would be at 4%. (91/149)

1954                        An anti-Communist amendment is made to the constitution of the Screenwriter’s Guild preventing a writer working under an assumed name to become a member of the Guild. (75/360)

1954                        First nonstick pan produced.

1954                        By 1954 it is estimated that one-third of the world’s population has seen at least on Disney film. (95/142)

1954                        The World Series is broadcast in color for the first time. http://www.infoplease.com/year/1954.html

1954                        The revenue for television broadcasters finally surpasses that of radio broadcasters. Gross revenue for television is $593 million. http://www.infoplease.com/year/1954.html

1954                        Bill Haley and the Comets begin writing hit songs. As a white band using black-derived forms, they venture into rock ‘n’ roll. http://www.infoplease.com/year/1954.html

1954                        Boeing tests the 707, the first jet-powered transport plane. http://www.infoplease.com/year/1954.html

1954                        Ray Kroc starts McDonalds.

1954                        Simon Rodia completes the Watts Towers. http://www.laalmanac.com/history/hi01h.htm

1954                        Salk develops the polio vaccine. (23/361)

1954                        Average American’s favorite meal is fruit cup, vegetable soup, steak and potatoes, rolls and butter, and pie a la mode. (23/363)

1954                        Armistice ending the Korean War is declared.

1954                        The Capitol Records building built at 1750 Vine St




Top stars: James Stewart, Grace Kelly, John Wayne (21/225)
Top 10 Moneymakers 1955: (95/306)

  1. James Stewart
  2. Grace Kelly
  3. John Wayne
  4. William Holden
  5. Gary Cooper
  6. Marlon Brando
  7. Martin and Lewis
  8. Humphrey Bogart
  9. Jule Allyson
  10. Clark Gable

Top grossing films of 1955:

  1. Lady and the Tramp (total gross includes subsequent re-releases)
  2. Cinerama Holiday
  3. Mister Roberts
  4. tie: Battle Cry and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
  5. Not as a Stranger..
  6. The Country Girl
  7. The Seven Year Itch
  8. The Rose Tattoo
  9. The Far Country
  10. Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy


01JAN1955             American aid to South Vietnam, amounting to $216 million in 1955, begins. Diem, selected and groomed by Michigan State University will come to power later this year. (89/408)

1955                        “The Sheilah Graham Show” on NBC

JAN1955                 Philip Morris introduced the reinvented Marlboro cigarette, now with a filtered tip.
http://www.acsh.org/factsfears/newsID.509/news_detail.asp (however the “Marlboro Man” concept wasn’t introduced until early 1964). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marlboro_Man

JAN1955                 The publicity junket for the Howard Hughes-produced Jane Russell-starring “Underwater!” takes 200 journalists to Silver Springs, FL, and watch the movie underwater. (78/245)

03FEB1955             Harvey Matusov, a frequent witness against leftists before the HUAC and the FBI admits that he did it for the money and that he had consistently lied. (89/408)

MAR1955                                Sammy Davis Jnr makes a triumphant return to Ciro’s, a silk eye patch covering the damaged left socket. (45/205) On a loftier note, this was where Sammy Davis, Jr. staged his comeback after his near-fatal 1954 auto accident. Producer George Schlatter described the scene: “After Sammy came back from his eye injury, the whole town came out to see his first gig. Cooper was there. Gable and Bogart were there. Frank and Dean were playing cards at the stageside.” Confounding rumors that his career was finished, Davis danced and sang for two hours before grabbing — and playing — every instrument in the band for an encore. The star-studded audience gave him a half-hour standing ovation. http://www.filmsofthegoldenage.com/foga/1996/winter/hollywoodhotspots.shtml

24MAR1955            Tennessee Williams’s Cat on a Hot Tin Roof opens at the Morosco Theater on Broadway. (80/45)

MAR1955                Warner Bros and ABC-TV are deep in talks expected to result in one of the most significant movie-TV tie-ups to date. (28/285)

19MAR1955            Blackboard Jungle premieres at Loew’s State, introducing “Rock Around The Clock”

APR1955                 Life magazine runs a massive pictorial article about a mysterious new “Frenzied teenage music craze” that was creating “a big fuss” – rock and roll. (89/291)

18APR1955             Albert Einstein dies at Princeton Hospital after experiencing internal bleeding caused by the rupture of an aortic aneurysm. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Albert_einstein#Death

Spring 1955           The so-called Rat Pack was formed in the spring of 1955, at the end of a chartered expedition to Las Vegas that spring to see Noel Coward’s opening at the Desert Inn. Frank Sinatra organized the trip, and other travelers besides the Bogarts included Mike and Gloria Romanoff, David Niven and his wife Hjordis, agent Irving Lazar and Martha Hyer, songwriter Jimmy van Heusen and actress Angie Dickinson, Charlie Feldman and model Capuchine, the George Axelrods, screenwriter Charles Lederer, and Judy Garland and Sid Luft. After 4 days of partying, Bacall surveyed the wreckage of the party and declared “You look like a god damn rat pack.”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rat_Pack – The name may also refer to the belief that an established pack of rats will belligerently reject an outsider who tries to join them (“Never rat on a rat”) Garland’s daughter Lorna Luft tells the story that a certain gossip columnist (probably Hedda Hopper or Louella Parsons) wanted to be invited to the group’s parties. The group didn’t want their private parties becoming the subject of the writer’s next column, and so the columnist was never invited. Later, she was said to have written about “that rat pack in Holmby Hills” which Garland found incredibly funny.Garland later had stick pins made for the group in the shape of rats with rubies for eyes. Thus, the “Rat Pack” was born. So called “visiting members” included Errol Flynn, Mickey Rooney and Cesar Romero.

According to Stephen Bogart, the original members of the Holmby Hills Rat Pack were Sinatra (pack master), Garland (first vice-president), Bacall (den mother), Luft (cage master), Bogart (rat in charge of public relations), Swifty Lazar (recording secretary and treasurer), Nathaniel Benchley (historian), David Niven, Katharine Hepburn, Spencer Tracy, George Cukor, Cary Grant, Rex Harrison, and Jimmy Van Heusen. In his autobiography The Moon’s a Balloon, Niven confirms that the Rat Pack originally included him but not Sammy Davis Jr. or Dean Martin.

05MAY1955            Damn Yankees opens on Broadway. (80/71)

MAY1955                In the May 1955 issue of Confidential appears a story called “The Nude Who Came To Dinner”. Which tells a wild story of Robert Mitchum showing up drunk at a dinner party given by Charles Laughton and Elsa Lanchester. He sues Confidential for $1 million over a story called Confidential wins on a technicality, but it gives courage to other stars. (p187/45)

MAY1955                 Rory Calhoun’s mug shot is on the cover of Confidential – a result of cutting a deal to have Rock Hudson’s homosexuality not mentioned at all. (88/118)

01JUN1955             The Seven Year Itch premiers. http://marilynmonroepages.com/Timeline.html

07JUN1955             The $64,000 Question premieres on television on CBS and within 5 weeks is the top-rated show on TV. (93/645) Also, on this same day, the long-running Lux Radio Theater makes its final broadcast. (p295/113)

27JUN1955             The last ever Republic serial, King of the Carnival, is released. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1955_in_film

02JUL1955             The Lawrence Welk Show premieres on CBS, and stays in the air for 16 years. (80/167)

JULY 1955              Confidential’s editor in chief Howard Rushmore fakes his own disappearance making the national news and doubling Confidential’s circulation. (45/34)

13JUL1955             The last American film photographed with Technicolor cameras is released: Foxfire by Universal. (95/108)

17JUL1955             Disneyland opens in Anaheim at a cost of $17 million but without involving company funds. It is an instant success with 1 million visitors during its first seven weeks of operation. (95/141)

18JUL1955             Howard Hughes sells RKO to General Tire and Rubber Company for $18 million. (95/199)

22JUL1955             The Virgin Queen starring Bette Davis opens. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0048791/

12AUG1955            The $16 million Beverly Hilton opens. (28/276)

13SEP1955             With an estimated 55 million people watching, Marine captain Richard McCutcheon becomes the first person to go all the way on ‘The $64,000 Question’. (93/646)

13SEP1955             Warner Bros. premieres “Warner Bros. Presents” on television. This show featured three rotating series, “Kings Row”, “Cheyenne” and “Casablanca”. The last 15 minutes was devoted to promoting Warner Brothers movies but this was dropped along with “Kings Row” and “Casablanca”. “Cheyenne” went on to run on TV for eight years. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0047786/

15SEP1955             MGM premieres “The MGM Parade” on television. The original concept of the show was to allow the viewer to see the inner workings of a movie studio and featured interviews with MGM stars and explanations of how movies were made. Later, the format changed to show edited versions of MGM films. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0047753/

Lowe’s cut a deal with ABC for MGM Parade, in which host George Murphy took viewers behind the scenes at Culver City and also pitched upcoming MGM releases. The show was a commercial failure but it did signal MGM’s grudging acceptance of the TV age and its willingness to adapt to America’s changing media marketplace. For the following season, MGM Parade was overhauled: it had Walter Pidgeon introduce serialized versions of MGM classics. (p460/129)

Also premiering this fall are Warner Brothers Presents and The 20th Century-Fox Hour. (p477/129)
They are all major disappointments, which fail to capture the success of Disneyland.

SEP1955                 Confidential magazine publishes an article that newly-divorced Joe DiMaggio breaks down the wrong door at 754 Kilkea Drive looking for Marilyn Monroe. (88/113)

25SEP1955             “The Ed Sullivan Show”, which premiered on 20JUN1948 on CBS as “Toast of the Town” officially becomes known as “The Ed Sullivan Show” on 25SEP1955. (80/88) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Ed_Sullivan_Show

30SEP1955             James Dean dies. (21/227)

OCT1955                 Rock Hudson appears on the cover of Life magazine as “Hollywood’s Most Handsome Bachelor”. (60/101)

01OCT1955            The Honeymooners debuted as a half-hour series. Although initially a ratings success—it was the #2 show in the United States—it faced stiff competition from the popular Perry Como Show. The show eventually dropped to #19,and production ended after 39 episodes (now referred to as the “Classic 39”). The final episode of The Honeymooners aired on September 22, 1956. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_honeymooners

02OCT1955            The TV show Alfred Hitchcock Presents premiers on CBS and remains on air until SEP1965, switching between CBS and NBC. (80/10)

03OCT1955            The Mickey Mouse Club premieres on ABC. (80/192) At its most successful (‘55 to ‘56) it reaches 75% of the television sets in the U.S. (95/141)

05OCT1955            20th Century Fox premieres The 20th Century Fox Hour on television, an anthology of mini-features, new productions largely consisted of hasty retreads of successful Fox movies. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0047702/

05OCT1955            Mickey Cohen gets let out of jail in Seattle after 3 years and 8 months. (p214/124)

27OCT1955            Rebel Without A Cause is released. (80/237)
Although Rebel Without A Cause has been described as the first film to catch the revolutionary unease of the young generation, it is also among the first mainstream American films to present a veiled, homoerotic relationship between its two male leads. (p102/45)

31OCT1955            Marilyn granted final divorce from Joe DiMaggio. http://marilynmonroepages.com/Timeline.html

09NOV1955            Rock Hudson elopes with Phyllis Gates, they divorced in August 1958 (4/200)

22NOV1955            The Russians test a thermonuclear bomb. (93/99)

01DEC1955            Rosa Parks refuses to sit at the back of the bus, breaking Montgomery, Ala., segregated seating law. http://www.infoplease.com/year/1955.html , http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rosa_parks

December 1, 1955 – Rosa Parks, an African American seamstress, refuses to give up her seat on the bus to a white man, prompting the boycott and NAACP protect that would lead to the declaration that bus segregation laws were unconstitutional by a federal court. http://americasbesthistory.home.att.net/abhtimeline1950.html
The Black community rallies, starting a 54-week bus boycott that brings Martin Luther King Jnr to national prominence and eventually wins moderate demands. (89/409)

15DEC1955            The Man with the Golden Arm starring Frank Sinatra opens without the Production Code approval spelling the beginning of the end of the code. (89/326)
United Artists release the Otto Preminger movie ‘The Man with the Golden Arm’ without a Code Seal to high critical praise and solid box office. (77/323)

1955                        James Stewart is names the industry’s top box-office star, due to the Stewart-Universal which has resulted in a string of hits, including Winchester ’73, Harvey, Bend of the River, The Far Country, The Glenn Miller Story, and Thunder Bay. (p471/129)

DEC1955                Nicholas Schenck, longtime president of MGM’s parent company Loew’s resigns under pressure and is replaced by Arthur Loew, son of the company’s founder. However he only lasts until late 1956 and is replaced by Loew’s career employee Joseph Vogel. (95/198)

26DEC1955            RKO’s film library of 740 movies and 1000 shorts is sold to C & C Super Corporation for $15.2 million. RKO’s parent company General Teleradio retained the right to package 150 of the films for a one-time national TV showing before the went to C & C Super’s hands. (95/199)

26DEC1955            RKO first major studio to announce sale of film library to TV. (21/225)

1955                        The blacklist was still a reality, but the The Motion Picture Alliance for the Preservation of American Ideals was dying. The organization lost all credibility in 1955  after its members couldn’t agree on whether to expel Screen Writers Guild members who took the Fifth Amendment when testifying before Congress. By three votes, the proposal failed. (p306/118)

1955                        In 1947 Zenith’s “Phonevision” (a pay TV system) was introduced using telephone lines to unscramble a broadcast signal. After 1954 the company shifted to using a coin box or punch card system, but was having problems obtaining programming. (95/132)

1955                        Senator Estes Kefauver (Democrat of Tennessee) chairs hearings of the Juvenile Delinquency Subcommittee of the Judicial Committee on the influence of television, comic books, motion pictures, and pornography on juvenile delinquency. (95/100)

1955                        The novel ‘The Man in the Grey Flannel Suit’ appears in print and hits a nerve. (93/526)

1955                        Vladimir Nabokov’s novel “Lolita” is published.

1955                        Elvis Presley signs Col Tom Parker as his agent. (80/229)

1955                        The entire cast of The Conquerer would shoot most of the movie in the radioactive just in the Nevada desert in 1955, and just about every last one of them – John Wayne, Susan Hayward, Agnes Moorhead, director Dick Powell – all would die of the most gruesome cancers imaginable, riddled with metastasized illness. (88/54)

1955                        Airline travel eclipses train travel as the commercial vehicle of choice. (80/9)

1955                        Charlie Chaplin sells his share of United Artists to the studio. Mary Pickford tries to buy Chaplin’s share, but is outbid by Samuel Goldwyn. Pickford then sells her shares in 1956. (56/114) http://www.pictureshowman.com/timeline_1950_1960.cfm

10SEP1955             Gunsmoke debuts on CBS, and will go on to be television’s longest-running western. http://www.infoplease.com/year/1955.html , http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gunsmoke#Television_version

1955                        Liberace becomes the Las Vegas’s highest-paid entertainer, earning $50,000 a week. http://www.lasvegassun.com/history/timeline/

1955                        70mm film is introduced with Oklahoma! http://www.infoplease.com/year/1955.html

1955                        Miltown, the first widely popular tranquilizer (in fact a muscle relaxant) is launched. (80/293) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miltown

1955                        By 1955 Confidential’s national newsstand sales roar past 5 million, more that TV Guide, Time, Look or the Saturday Evening Post.

1955                        Howard Hughes sells RKO to “RKO General”, a division of General Tire. (58/xi) (66/34)

1955                        Movie Blackboard Jungle is released. Its theme song is “Rock Around the Clock”

1955                        “Daughters of Bilitis” – the first lesbian rights organization is founded in San Francisco. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daughters_of_bilitis

1955                        The TV show Queen For A Day begins broadcasting from the Moulin Rouge. (14/221)

1955                        The Confidential Rock Hudson/Rory Calhoun scandal trade-off. (17/29+30)

1955                        Stockholders rebellion at MGM leads to Dory Schary’s ousting in 1956. (47/363)

1955                        Blacks boycott segregated city bus lines in Montgomery, AL. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gains national prominence for advocating resistance to segregation in public places. (23/362)



Top stars: William Holden, John Wayne, James Stewart, (21/231) Kim Novak

Top 10 Moneymakers 1956: (95/306)

  • William Holden
  • John Wayne
  • James Stewart
  • Burt Lancaster
  • Glenn Ford
  • Martin and Lewis
  • Gary Cooper
  • Marilyn Monroe
  • Kim Novak
  • Frank Sinatra

Top grossing films of 1956

  1. Cecil B. DeMille’s The Ten Commandments
  2. Guys and Dolls
  3. The King and I
  4. Trapeze
  5. tie: High Society and I’ll Cry Tomorrow
  6. Picnic
  7. War and Peace
  8. Love Me Tender
  9. Moby Dick
  10. The Searchers
  11. tie: The Conqueror (with John Wayne as Genghis Khan) and Rebel Without a Cause


27JAN1956             Recorded in January 1956 in Nashville, the song introduced Presley to the American national music consciousness. It was released as a single with the b-side song “I Was the One” on January 27, 1956. “Heartbreak Hotel” became the first No.1 pop record by Elvis and was the best selling single of 1956. (89/300) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heartbreak_Hotel

30JAN1956             The 5-day Hollywood working week, agreed to by management 21OCT, starts. (21/231)

Early 1956               Bankrupted (by Howard Hughes), RKO sells off its film library to a TV syndication outfit for $15 million. (p461/129)

FEB1956                 Paramount announces a step up in television activities. (28/286)

05FEB1956             Darryl Zanuck announces he is leaving 20th Century Fox. (21/231) He had fallen in love with his protégé Bella Darvi in 1951 and followed her to Europe. (47/338) (95/1)

15MAR1956            “My Fair Lady” opens at the Mark Hellinger Theater on Broadway. http://www.ibdb.com/production.php?id=2407

15MAR1956            “Forbidden Planet” opens. (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0049223/releaseinfo)  q

18APR1956             Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier marry (5/22

01APR1956             On Easter Sunday, Mary Pickford holds a get together for 200 silent film stars, including William Boyd, Francis X. Bushman, Marion Davies, Hedda Hopper, Harold Lloyd, Frances Marion, Anna Q. Nilsson, Ramon Novarro, and Zasu Pitts. Some invited guests, though—including Joan Blondell, Ronald Colman and Norma Shearer—were no-shows, because they didn’t want to be classified as old-timers. (p269/130)

APR1956                 After McCarthy’s downfall, HUAC returns to Hollywood to hold a week of hearings on Communist influence on the local musicians union. (17/109)

23APR1956             Elvis Presley performs first shows in Las Vegas at the New Frontier Hotel. http://www.lasvegassun.com/history/timeline/

18JUN1956             Martin & Lewis announce they are splitting up.  (21/233)

JUN1956                 Schwab’s Drug Store, undergoing renovation, auctions off its old fixtures, including the soda fountain, for $57. (21/233)

29JUN1956             Marilyn marries Arthur Miller in a civil ceremony in White Plains, NY. And then again in a Jewish ceremony 01JUL. http://marilynmonroepages.com/Timeline.html

01JUL1956             “The Edgar Bergen/Charlie McCarthy Show” premiers on NBC Radio and, under various sponsors, is on the air since 17DEC1937. (80/27

25JUL1956             The sinking of the Andrea Doria off Nantucket Island. (23/267) (80/14) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SS_Andrea_Doria

30JUL1956             A law passed by the 84th Congress (P.L. 84-140) and approved by the President on July 30, 1956, the President approved a Joint Resolution of the 84th Congress, declaring IN GOD WE TRUST the national motto of the United States. IN GOD WE TRUST was first used on paper money in 1957, when it appeared on the one-dollar silver certificate. The first paper currency bearing the motto entered circulation on October 1, 1957. (89/89) http://www.treas.gov/education/fact-sheets/currency/in-god-we-trust.html

AUG1956                Hollywood Hotel falls to the wrecking ball. to make way for a $10,000,000 development, with a twelve story office building for the First Federal Savings & Loan Association of Hollywood, a shopping center and parking lots. (14/46) (14/235) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hollywood_Hotel

AUG1956                The National Office of the Legion reviews a finished print of “Tea and Sympathy” and found it unacceptable. (95/92)

AUG1956                 Loew’s cuts a deal with CBS to provide the first feature film to prime-time network TV in a complete telecast. The film was The Wizard of Oz, leased for 4 telecasts at $225,000 per showing. (p460/129)

16AUG1956            Bela Lugosi dies. (5/78)

SEP1956                 Bob Harrison’s faked shooting in the jungles of the Dominican Republic. (88/205)

SEP1956                 Elvis Presley appears on The Ed Sullivan Show, earning Elvis $50,000 and the highest audience ratings in television history. (80/229)

25SEP1956             The first transatlantic telephone cable began operation. http://americasbesthistory.home.att.net/abhtimeline1950.html

26SEP1956             Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson, and George Stevens, Grauman’s ceremony http://www.amug.org/~scrnsrc/chinese_theater.html

05OCT1956            Cecil B. DeMille’s ‘The Ten Commandments’ opens and goes on to become Paramount’s number one box attraction of the 1950s. (95/203) http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0049833/releaseinfo

OCT1956                 Giant has its world premiere in New York and its Hollywood premiere at Grauman’s. (63/101)

OCT1956-MAR1957   Suez Canal crisis – Anglo-French-Israeli forces invade the Suez region of Egypt in an attempt to regain the canal that the Egyptian leader Nasser earlier had nationalized in July. (89/16)

LATE OCT/EARLY NOV 1956         The Soviet Union crushes an anti-communist uprising in Hungary that had broken out a week before the Suez Canal crisis. (89/16)

03NOV1956            In the middle of the Suez crisis and the Hungarian revolution, America watched the first television telecast of The Wizard of Oz on CBS who’d licensed it for $250,000 as part of a deal of nine showings worth $1.7 million. Its high ratings revolutionized Hollywood’s attitude towards TV. (297/107)

06NOV1956            A repeat challenge in the presidential election between Eisenhower and Stevenson gains a similar outcome, with easy victory for the incumbent president by a 457 to 73 margin in the Electoral College vote. http://americasbesthistory.home.att.net/abhtimeline1950.html

15NOV1956            Love Me Tender, Elvis’ first movie, opens. (21/235) His single Hound Dog sold 2 million copies, “Don’t Be Cruel” sold 3 million copies.

11DEC1956            Hays Code is eased, allowing drugs, abortion, prostitution and kidnapping under certain circumstances. (21/231) (77/325)

12DEC1956            At 12 noon, the Production Censorship Code, completely revised for the first time since its original adoption in March of 1930, takes effect so as to include television broadcasts. (28/304&305)(95/93)

13DEC1956            The opening of Anastasia marks the start of Ingrid Bergman’s comeback.

18DEC1956            Tennessee William’s Baby Doll opens, despite being condemned by the Legion of Decency. (89/326)

1950                        By 1950 4.4 million families had a TV and people bought them at an acceleratingly feverish rate – 20,000 a day by 1956. (89/344)

1956                        Ed Sullivan is at the height of his power. He is making about $200,000 a year from CBS and another $50,000 from his column on the New York Daily News. (93/476)

1956                        The advice column “Dear Abby” is by Pauline Phillips under the pen name, Abigail Van Buren. (80/73)

1956                        Dory Schary is ousted from MGM, replaced by Joseph R. Vogel (who, in turn, is later replaced later by Sol Siegel in APR1958). (47/363) (299/107)

1956                        The Ocean House Hotel (the old Heart/Davies beach house at 415 Palisades Beach Rd) fails and the main house is torn down in 1956 leaving only the servants’ wing. (67/106)

1956                        For the first time, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will award a separate Oscar for “Best Foreign Language Film”. In the past, this was not a separate category, but an honorary award with no nominations. http://www.pictureshowman.com/timeline_1950_1960.cfm (p67/114)

1956                        Warner Bros. goes through a bizarre change of ownership that involved ousting Harry Warner and handing leadership to Jack Warner. (95/202)

1956                        Spencer Tracy walks off the set of Tribute to a Bad Man and leaves MGM after 21 years with the studio. He’s replaced by James Cagney. (310/107)

1956                        The city of Los Angeles removes the last of its two-light “semaphore” traffic signal replacing them with the three-light signal.

1956                        By 1956, Kim Novak is the biggest draw at the box office. (45/197)

1956                        Darryl Zanuck leaves 20th Century Fox and moves to Paris. (36/239)

1956                        The novel “Peyton Place” is published, Selling 60,000 copies within the first ten days of its release and a total of 12 million copies. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peyton_Place_(novel)

1956                        Capital Records building opens at 1740 Vine St (2/5)

1956                        By 1956 Americans for the first time were spending more hours watching their sets than working for pay. (89/7)

1956                        Bette Nesmith Graham invented “Mistake Out,” later renamed Liquid Paper, to paint over mistakes made with a typewriter,

1956                        Elvis Presley’s first film, Love Me Tender, was released, followed by Jailhouse Rock the next year. http://www.filmsite.org/milestones1950s.html

1956                        The first practical videotape recorder (VTR) was developed by the AMPEX Corporation in 1951. The first commercially-feasible ones (with 2 inch tape reels) were sold for $50,000 in 1956. http://www.filmsite.org/milestones1950s.html

1956                        First transatlantic telephone cable begins operation, stretching from Newfoundland to Scotland. (23/365)

22NOV-08DEC1956    Melbourne Olympic Games. (23/365) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Melbourne_Olympic_Games

1956                        1 out of 8 cars being made in the US is a stationwagon. (23/365

1956                        Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey Circus performs its last show under canvas. (23/365)



Top stars: Rock Hudson, John Wayne, Pat Boone (21/237)

Top 10 Moneymakers 1957: (95/306)

  • Rock Hudson
  • John Wayne
  • Pat Boone
  • Elvis Presley
  • Frank Sinatra
  • Gary Cooper
  • William Holden
  • James Stewart
  • Jerry Lewis
  • Yul Brynner

Top grossing films for 1957

  1. The Ten Commandments
  2. Around the World in Eighty Days
  3. Giant
  4. Oklahoma!
  5. Pal Joey
  6. Seven Wonders of the World
  7. The Teahouse of the August Moon
  8. Moby Dick
  9. Jailhouse Rock, starring Elvis Presley
  10. Loving You, starring Elvis Presley
  11. Old Yeller


10JAN1957             Showgirls make debut with “Minsky’s Follies” at the Desert Inn. http://www.lasvegassun.com/history/timeline/

12JAN1957             Howard Hughes marries Jean Peters. (78/304)

14JAN1957             Humphrey Bogart dies. (21/237) All studios observe a minute of silence on 17JAN. (21/238)

21JAN1957             President Dwight D. Eisenhower is inaugurated for his second term in office. http://americasbesthistory.home.att.net/abhtimeline1950.html

24JAN1957             RKO announces the folding of it feature film business. (21/238) (95/200)

Early 1957                  MGM leases 700 of its lesser pre-1948 titles to television for $25 millions. (p461/129)

FEB1957                 Dorothy Dandridge files suit against Confidential magazine after an article appeared describing her alleged exploits at a nudist camp. (“What Dorothy Dandridge did in the woods.”) She asked for $2 million. (45/40)

25MAR1957            The Treaties of Rome is signed by Belgium, France, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and West Germany establishing the European Economic Community (EEC). (80/60) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Treaties_of_Rome

MAR1957               Confidential publishes its infamously lurid piece, “It was a hot show in town when Maureen O’Hara cuddled in row 35.” The article said O’Hara had been observed in the dark balcony of Grauman’s Chinese Theatre by an assistant manager, lying across the lap of a “Latin lover” in a state of passion bordering on sexual intercourse. (p32/17)

02MAY1957            Senator Joseph McCarthy dies in Bethesda Naval Hospital at the age of 48. The official cause of death was acute hepatitis; it is widely accepted that this was brought on by alcoholism. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_McCarthy

06MAY1957            “I Love Lucy” ends its run on CBS. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I_Love_Lucy

15MAY1957            The grand jury returned indictments against Bob Harrison, Margorie and Fred Meade, Francesca de Scaffa. A.P. Govoni, Dan and Helen Studin, Edith Tobias, and her son and Margorie’s brother Michael Tobias. The 3 charges were Conspiracy to Publish Criminal Libel, Conspiracy to Publish and Distribute Lewd and Obscene Material, and Conspiracy to Disseminate Illegal Information (about abortions and male rejuvenation. (88/218)

SUMMER 1957       While appearing with Elvis in “Loving You”, Lizabeth Scott sues Confidential magazine for $2.5 million after the SEP55 issue insinuated that she was “prone to indecent, illegal, and highly offensive acts in her private and public life.” (59/193)

17JUL1957             ‘A Hatful of Rain’ premieres, and becomes the first Code-approved film dealing directly with drug addiction. (77/324)

JUL1957                 Celebration in Hollywood over the Confidential indictments when Bob Harrison et al in New York successfully resist extradition to California. … Instead the prosecution focuses on the two California residents, Fred and Margorie Meade. The press start going crazy, calling the upcoming trial “The Trial of 100 Stars” but suddenly the studio bosses wanted to back down and approach Attorney General Brown about putting a stop to the case. In the end Harrison agrees to a settlement (88/227, 229) Harrison settled the case with California, on the exact same terms they had agreed to before the trial ever started: Two $5000 fines for indecency and Harrison agreed to stop aggressively pursuing Hollywood gossip. (88/257)

02AUG-OCT1957      The infamous Confidential libel trial (17/28) (21/240) coming to a head in OCT. (22/56) Ultimately Confidential wins the libel and obscenity cases, but it really loses: without scandal the magazine becomes a shadow of itself and circulation drops. (45/41) See: http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/confidential/confidentialaccount.html The 8-week period of the Confidential trial was one of the quietest times on record in Hollywood. Maybe stars had skipped down or even the country to avoid being subpoenaed. (p35/17) Attorney Arthur Crowley defended Confidential magazine during its infamous 1957 trial. (p124/17)

26AUG1957            Fred Meade takes the stand and swears that all the stories (in Confidential magazine) are true, and that Hollywood Research was not a part of Confidential.  (88/245) The more mainstream Hollywood press, such as Variety and the Hollywood Reporter don’t even mention it. (88/275)

AUG1957                One of the biggest stories through AUG1957 in both Variety and the Hollywood Reporter is the court case that had sprung up when the truth emerged about Louis B. Mayer’s secret plan to seize control of Loew’s Corporation.

SEP1957                 Confidential publisher Bob Harrison speaks to his 5 million readers in an unusual editorial about his Grand Jury indictments. (88/221)

26SEP1957             West Side Story opens at the Winter Garden Theater on Broadway. (80/311)

04SEP1957             The “Little Rock Nine” integrate Arkansas high school. Eisenhower sends troops to quell mob and protect the students after Gov. Orval Faubus defies federal order.  (89/16) http://www.infoplease.com/year/1957.html 29SEP1958 – The US Supreme Court rules unanimously that Little Rock, Ark., schools must integrate.
National Guard called to duty by Arkansas Governor Orval Faubus bar nine black students from attending previously all-white Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas.  He withdrew the troops on September 21 and the students were allowed entrance to class two days later.  A threat of violence caused President Eisenhower to dispatch federal troops to Little Rock on September 24 to enforce the edict. http://americasbesthistory.home.att.net/abhtimeline1950.html

01OCT1957            Burning trash in backyard incinerators was officially banned in Los Angeles. http://twitter.com/LAhistory

01OCT1957            The jury in the Confidential trial take a final vote and split 7 to 5 for conviction. They inform Judge Walker they are hopelessly deadlocked and he declared a mistrial. Harrison immediately declares himself the winner. (88/255) Harrison settled the case with California, on the exact same terms they had agreed to before the trial ever started: Two $5000 fines for indecency and Harrison agreed to stop aggressively pursuing Hollywood gossip. (88/257)

04OCT1957            Russian launches Sputnik 1 – the first artificial satellite. (23/367)… profoundly shocking Americans out of their superior complacency. (89/16) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sputnik_1

04OCT1957            Leave It to Beaver premieres on CBS, ushering in an era of television shows that depict the ideal American. http://www.infoplease.com/year/1957.html It remains on the air until 1963. (80/167)

19OCT1957             Louella Parsons reports: “One of the biggest surprises to hit Hollywood in a long time came yesterday when Rock Hudson moved into the Hotel Beverly Hills under an assumed name.” His marriage to Phyllis Gates is over.

21OCT1957            The movie Jailhouse Rock, starring Elvis Presley opens. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1957_in_film

21OCT1957            Vadim’s “And God Created Woman” introducing Brigitte Bardot to America opens in Art House cinemas. (89/327)

29OCT1957            LBM dies (19/490) of leukemia http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0562454/bio
Last words (spoken to Howard Strickling): “Nothing matters! Don’t let them worry you. Nothing matters!” L.B. was hallucinating under a morphine drip. http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0562454/bio

03NOV1957            Sputnik 2 is the second spacecraft launched into Earth orbit, and the first to carry a living animal, a dog named Laika. (93/627) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sputnik_II

07NOV1957            Confidential agrees to halt exposes about movie stars. (21/241)

13DEC1957            The movie version of Peyton Place opens in New York. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0050839/

31DEC1957            Ciro’s closes (2/34)

LATE 1957              Taking possession in 1958, Desilu buys the RKO Pictures properties, including its main lot in Culver City, with the backlot known as Forty Acres, and another lot on Gower Street in Hollywood. These acquisitions gave the Ball-Arnaz TV empire a total of 33 sound stages — four more than Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and eleven more than Twentieth Century-Fox had in 1957. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Desilu#History

1957                        Beginning with a single dealer in 1950 who sold 330 cars, Volkswagen sales by 1957 were nearly the 200,000 mark. (89/143)

1957                        Rock Hudson debuts into the Quigley Top Ten at #1. (88/118)

1957                        The final Ziegfeld follies was staged in 1957, as a 50 year celebration on the beginning of the Follies. Unfortunately as the reviewer Louis Kronenberger said; “The spirit had all but vanished; the songs had no tunefulness, the lyrics no bounce, the sketches no crackle, and though the dances had moments, they lacked distinction.” Running only 123 performances, the Ziegfeld Follies finally faded from the American scene.

1957                        Having started in Philadelphia in 1953, “American Bandstand” goes national (on ABC). (80/11)

1957                        By 1957 only a third of MGM’s are in use at any given time, while the studio is renting out half of its facilities to independent producers. (51/375)

1957                        West Side Story debuts on Broadway and brings violence to the stage. http://www.infoplease.com/year/1957.html

1957                        Dr. Suess’s The Cat in the Hat is published. (80/44)

1957                        When Elvis performed at the Pan Pacific auditorium in Los Angeles, police ordered he “clean up his show, or else” and the vice squad monitored the entire performance to make sure he eliminated “all sexy overtones”. (89/307) He appeared in his now-famous gold lamé suit. (106)

1957                        Los Angeles lifts its 150 foot height limit for buildings. (51/59)

1957                        The National Enquirer starts publication. (16/329)

1957                        Belgium, France, Italy, Luxembourg, Holland and West Germany establish the European Economic Community, aka the Common Market. (23/366)



Top stars: Glenn Ford, Elizabeth Taylor, Jerry Lewis (21/243)

Top 10 Moneymakers 1958: (95/306)

  • Glenn Ford
  • Elizabeth Taylor
  • Jerry Lewis
  • Marlon Brando
  • Rock Hudson
  • William Holden
  • Brigitte Bardot
  • Yul Brynner
  • James Stewart
  • Frank Sinatra

Top grossing movies of 1958

  1. The Bridge on the River Kwai
  2. Peyton Place
  3. Sayonara
  4. No Time for Sergeants
  5. The Vikings
  6. The Search for Paradise
  7. South Pacific
  8. Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
  9. King Creole
  10. Gigi


01JAN1958             European Economic Community (Common Market) becomes effective. http://www.infoplease.com/year/1958.html

02JAN1958             In New York City ex-journalist with Confidential magazine, Howard Rushmore now flat broke and unemployed, shoots himself and his wife in the back of a taxi cab. (88/262)

JAN1958                 When newspaper columnists across the country get wind of the affair between (white) Kim Novac and (black) Sammy Davis Jr.) Harry Cohn mobilizes a campaign to end it. (p196/45)

27FEB1958             Harry Cohn dies of heart attack at 58yo (2/15)

MAR1958                Against his express wishes, a Sunday memorial service is held for Harry Cohn on the newly completely Stages 12 and 14 at Columbia studios. (xxii/141)

MAR1958                Elvis enters the army. (Chronicle)

27MAR1958            Khrushchev becomes the Soviet premier. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Khrushchev)

APR1958                 Sol Siegel replaces Joseph R. Vogel as the new head of production at MGM. (321/107)

04APR1958             Johnny Stompanado is stabbed to death at Lana Turner’s Beverly Hills home. (17/121) (21/245) (245/96)

14APR1958             Paramount opens its doors to independent movie producers. (21/244)

22APR1958             Phyllis files for divorce against Rock Hudson. (72/101)

APR1958                 Confidential magazine announces its “hands off Hollywood” policy. (88/266)

15MAY1958            New York premiere of the long-troubled Gigi. It goes on to bring in $15 million worldwide and becomes Arthur Freed’s highest grossing film. (319/107)

01JUN1958             Gen. Charles de Gaulle becomes French premier remaining in power until 1969.  http://www.infoplease.com/year/1958.html

02JUN1958             Hearst’s San Simeon is opened to the public. (21/245)

10JUL1958             Los Angeles premiere of Gigi.              http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0051658/releaseinfo

MID 1958                In MID 1958 five “road show” attractions were playing in the first-run Broadway cinemas: “Windjammer” (the first film made in Cinemiracle, a widescreen process similar to Cinerama), “South Pacific”, “This is Cinerama” (a revival of the 1952 film); “The Bridge on the River Kwai”, and “Around the World in 80 Days”. (95/215)

JUN1958                 The first broadcast of Billy Graham’s TV show “Hour of Decision” attracts 6.4 million viewers. (45/125)

30JUN1958            Mocambo nightclub on the Sunset Strip closes. (2/33) (14/218)

JUL1958                 Confidential magazine publisher Bob Harrison settles suits with Liberace, Maureen O’Hara and Flynn for pennies on the dollar…. He then pulls the plug and sells the rights to Confidential and Whisper for a bargain basement price of $25,000 writer-editor and self-styled entrepreneur Hy Steirman. (88/266)

12SEP1958             The Blob premieres. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0051418/releaseinfo

04AUG1958            Work on Some Like It Hot starts (which continues until 06NOV). http://marilynmonroepages.com/Timeline.html

AUG1958                The Fly premieres. (80/103)

AUG1958                Hula Hoops become the latest craze. (Chronicle)

24SEP1958             The Donna Reed Show premiers on ABC under SEP1966. (80/83)

01OCT1958            At the end of 1957, American Express CEO Ralph Reed decided to get into the card business, and by the launch date of October 1, 1958 public interest had become so significant that they issued 250,000 cards prior to the official launch date. The card was launched with an annual fee of $6, $1 higher than Diners Club, to be seen as a premium product. The first cards were paper, with the account number and cardmember’s name typed. It was not until 1959 that American Express began issuing embossed ISO 7810 plastic cards, an industry first. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Express#Charge_card_services_history

04OCT1958            First transatlantic jet passenger service started by BOAC, with a New York to London route. http://www.infoplease.com/year/1958.html

10DEC1958            Jet airline passenger service inaugurated in the United States by National Airlines with a flight between New York City and Miami, Florida. http://americasbesthistory.home.att.net/abhtimeline1950.html

DEC1958                Universal Studios sells its 376-acre studio lot for $11.25 million to MCA (Music Corporation of America) and then leases back studio space at $1 million a year.(95/143)
P479/129 puts this at FEB1959

31DEC1958            Fidel Castro ousts Batista as head of Cuba. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fidel_Castro

1958                        Bank of America unveils its Bank of Americard, the forerunner to the Visa credit card. (Vanity Fair, April 2009)

1958                        Having bought Universal’s studio lot, MCA also buys Paramount Studio’s pre-1950 sound film library for $50 million, the richest television syndication to date.

1958                        By 1958, 65% of Hollywood’s movies are made by independent producers, as stars moved from one to another, taking advantage of deals negotiated by agents, lawyers, banker and promoters. (47/378)

1958                        Billboard debuts its Hot 100 chart. Ricky Nelson’s “Poor Little Fool” boasts the first No. 1 record. http://www.infoplease.com/year/1958.html

1958                        The Elizabeth Taylor – Eddie Fisher – Debbie Reynolds affair highlights Hollywood gossip. (89/414)

1958                        For the first time in the history of American motion pictures, the major Hollywood studios earned more abroad than domestically. http://www.pictureshowman.com/timeline_1950_1960.cfm

1958                        Paramount takes over the old RKO Studio lot. (66/34)

1958                        Elvis Presley is the top-selling rock-and-roll artist in the country. (93/519)

1958                        The Mocambo closes (2/33) (14/218)

1958                        The John Birch Society is created in Indianapolis, Indiana, supporting traditionally conservative causes such as anti-communism, support for individual rights and the ownership of private property. It promotes U.S. independence and sovereignty and opposes globalism and international regional groups, such as the European Union or what the society claims is a proposed North American Union. (89/38) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Birch_Society

1958                        In 1958, a combination of congressional investigation and personal confessions revealed that the super-quiz shows had been rigged. … “Entertainment value” – that is, enhanced ratings – was the ostensible reason. (89/357)

1958                        Racism was both disseminated and encouraged by the TV medium. In 1958, for instance, Nat King Cole was to host his own musical variety program. Many top stars agreed to appear free of charge on the show. But the network was unable to find anyone willing to sponsor it. Cole’s show was canceled. (89/362)

1958                        Jesse L. Lasky dies unexpectedly. (28/326)

1958                        Howard Hughes buys 400,000 shares of 20th Century Fox, becoming the studio’s largest stockholder. (28/326)

1958                        The Restless Years launches Sandra Dee’s starring career. Dee is one of the last contract players at Universal. (45/270)

1958                        Hula Hoop invented by Richard Knerr and Arthur “Spud” Melin.

1958                        Xerox produces the first commercial copying machine. (23/369)

1958                        PanAm begins transatlantic jet service; and regular commercial jet flights in the US also begin. (23/369)

1958                        Valium is invented.

1958                        The number of drive-in theaters in the U.S. peaked near 5,000. http://www.filmsite.org/milestones1950s.html

LATE1950s             By the late 1950s, the Communist party has dwindled down to a few 1000 members, a high proportion of whom were probably FBI agents.

LATE1950s             In 1940 less than half the population belonged to the institutionalized churches, but by the late 1950s over 63% were officially enrolled. (89/85)



Top stars: Rock Hudson, Cary Grant, James Stewart (21/250) Sandra Dee

Top 10 Moneymakers 1959: (95/306)

  • Rock Hudson
  • Cary Grant
  • James Stewart
  • Doris Day
  • Debbie Reynolds
  • Glenn Ford
  • Frank Sinatra
  • John Wayne
  • Jerry Lewis
  • Susan Hayward

Top grossing movies of 1959: 1 Ben-Hur…2 Auntie Mame…3 The Shaggy Dog…4 Some Like It Hot…5 Pillow Talk…6 Imitation of Life…7 The Nun’s Story…8 tie Anatomy of a Murder and North by Northwest…9 Sleeping Beauty…10 Rio Bravo


03JAN1959             Alaska becomes the 49th state. http://www.infoplease.com/year/1959.html

08JAN1959             Castro enters Havana as a victorious conqueror. (93/720)

13JAN1959             The Academy abandons the exclusion of blacklisted people from Oscar consideration. (21/250)

16JAN1959             Blacklisted Hollywood Ten writer Dalton Trumbo reveals that “Robert Rich” awarded the Best Motion Picture Story in 1956 was a pseudonym for himself. (21/250)

25JAN1959             Jet service begins between L.A. and NY. (21/250)

21JAN1959             Cecil B. DeMille dies of heart seizure at 77yo (2/15), (320/107) http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0001124/

16FEB1959             January 7, 1959 – The United States recognizes the new Cuban government under rebel leader Fidel Castro.  Castro becomes the Premier of Cuba on February 16. http://americasbesthistory.home.att.net/abhtimeline1950.html

17MAR1959            The Dalai Lama flees to India when the Chinese crush a Tibetan revolt. (89/415)

29MAR1959            Premiere of Some Like it Hot”. http://marilynmonroepages.com/Timeline.html

SPRING 1959         The big college fad is telephone booth stuffing. (80/284)

04JUN1959             The Three Stooges make their 180th and last short film, Sappy Bullfighters. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1959_in_film

16JUN1959             George Reeves found dead at his home at 1579 Benedict Canyon Rd Beverly Hills. (63/99) (256/96)

17JUL1959             North by Northwest premieres in Los Angeles – Hitchcock’s first movie for MGM. (320/107)

22JUL1959             Hercules starring Steve Reeves opens in the USA by Warner Bros. and becomes a huge hit. (95/211)

AUG1959                After 32 years, the Garden of Allah hotel on Sunset Boulevard closes with one last huge party, asking guests to come dressed as the hotel’s previous guests. Over a thousand people turned up and the party lasted all night. As a tribute to Alla Nazimova, her 1923 silent film Salome was screened.

21AUG1959            Hawaii becomes the 50th state. http://www.infoplease.com/year/1959.html

19SEP1959             Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev arrives in Los Angeles. Unhappy at having been denied the chance to visit Disneyland (for security reasons), he tours the 20th Century Fox studios visiting the set of “Can-Can” and meeting Shirley MacLaine, Frank Sinatra, and Juliet Prouse. http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=2795 http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2004/mar/13/featuresreviews.guardianreview7

14OCT1959            Succumbing to a life of alcohol and drugs, the actor Errol Flynn dies at the age of 50 in Vancouver, Canada. http://www.pictureshowman.com/timeline_1950_1960.cfm

02NOV1959            Charles van Doren admits to the House Subcommittee on Legislative Oversight, a U.S. subcommittee, chaired by Arkansas Democrat Oren Harris, that he had been given questions and answers in advance of the show “Twenty One”. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Van_Doren#Quiz_show_scandal (89/17)(93/663)

18NOV1959            William Wyler’s film Ben-Hur premieres at Loew’s Theater in New York City.                                        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1959_in_film
…bringing to a climax the trend of quasi-religious spectacles, with a budget of $15 million, 25000 extras, 5 years in the making and a larger-than-Cinemascope “Camera 65” wide-screen process. (89/323)

24NOV1959            “Ben-Hur” remake premieres in Los Angeles. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0052618/releaseinfo

16DEC1959            Journey to the Center of the Earth opens and is one of only two releases by 20th Century Fox that earned significant profits. (The other one is ‘Blue Denim’.) (95/201)

17DEC1959            On The Beach has simultaneous premieres in Amsterdam, Berlin, Caracas, Chicago, Lima, London, Los Angeles, Madrid, Melbourne, Moscow, New York, Paris, Rome, Johannesburg, Stockholm, Tokyo, Toronto, Washington DC, and Zurich. (95/193)

31DEC1959            There are exactly 99 weekly TV shows being filmed in Hollywood. (28/287)

1959                        The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences sponsors the first Grammy Award ceremony for music recorded in 1958. Frank Sinatra wins his first Grammy — Best Album for Come Dance with Me. http://www.infoplease.com/year/1959.html

1959                        MGM is the last film company to divest itself from its theater chain. The studio then hits a profit of nearly $7.7 million, the highest since 1951. (320/107)

1959                        Howard Hughes loses his control of TWA by being forced to put his stock (78%) into a nonvoting trust. (77/284)

1959                        Universal-International becomes Universal City Studios (2/70)

1959                        In 1959 the U.S. House Oversight Committee, at the urging of ASCAP, began to look into deejays who took gifts from record companies in return for playing their records on their shows. Though a number of deejays and program directors were caught in the scandal, the committee decide to focus on Freed.  Freed’s broadcasts alliances quickly deserted him. In 1959, WABC in New York asked him to sign a statement confirming that he had never accepted payola. Freed refused “on principle” to sign and was fired. On Feb 8, 1960 a New York Grand Jury began looking into commercial information in the recording industry and on May 19, 1960 eight men  were charged with receiving $116,580 in illegal gratuities. This probe would lead to Freed being charged with income tax evasion by the IRS. http://www.history-of-rock.com/freed.htm

1959                        The comic team of The Three Stooges made their last (180th) film, Sappy Bullfighters. http://www.filmsite.org/milestones1950s.html

1959                        On one of the gigantic sound stages at MGM four men sang a Pepsi Cola commercial: might Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer has been reduced to renting out its space by the day to shoot commercials. (47/475)

1959                        In an effort to compete with television, the average U.S. movie ticket price has declined from $.53 in 1950 to $.51 in 1959. http://www.pictureshowman.com/timeline_1950_1960.cfm

1959                        China invades Tibet. (23/372)

1959                        Frank Lloyd Wright’s Guggenheim Museum is completed in NY. (23/372)

1959                        The Barbie doll makes its debut. http://www.ideafinder.com/history/inventions/barbiedoll.htm

1959                        Berry Gordy founds Motown Records. (23/372)

1959                        Alaska and Hawaii join the US as states. (23/370)



Top stars: Doris Day, Rock Hudson, Cary Grant (21/255)

Top 10 Moneymakers 1960 (95/306)

  • Doris Day
  • Rock Hudson
  • Cary Grant
  • Elizabeth Taylor
  • Debbie Reynolds
  • Tony Curtis
  • Sandra Dee
  • Frank Sinatra
  • Jack Lemmon
  • John Wayne

1960                        By 1960, when Americans possessed some 50 million TV sets, a fifth of the nation’s theaters had closed for lack of business. (89/321)

1960                        Rat Pack (Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Joey Bishop and Peter Lawford) performs for first time. http://www.lasvegassun.com/history/timeline/

18FEB1960             First smell-o-vision film: Scent of Mystery. (21/256)

08FEB1960             Official groundbreaking ceremony for the first 8 stars on the Walk of Fame are installed at the corner of Hollywood Blvd and Highland. The personalities were Olive Borden, Ronald Coleman, Louise Fazenda, Preston Foster, Burt Lancaster, Edward Sedgwick, Ernest Torrence, and Joanne Woodward. Dedication on 23NOV1960 (21/255) (66/50)

Early 1960s            Such directors as Otto Preminger open defy the blacklist, effectively ending its power, but the reaction against it had been building for a number of years. (10/339)

1961                        The red carpet is first introduced at the Academy Awards. The rug’s redness was still not discernible to at-home viewers of the black-and-white broadcast. http://www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/2014/08/red-carpet-history

1961                        MCA (owner of Universal Studios) signs a deal with Grey Line Bus Tours for “Dine with the Stars,” allowing buses to drive around the lot and have lunch in the Commissary. http://www.scripophily.net/unpiccomincl.html

13AUG1961            Construction of the 28 miles Berlin Wall around the three western sectors begins in East Berlin. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Berlin_wall

19AUG1961            TWA starts regular in-flight movie service (with Lana Turner’s By Love Possessed)

SEP1962                 Billy Wilkerson dies (17/114)

1962                        The audio cassette is invented.

05AUG1963            Marilyn Monroe dies at 36yo at 12305 Fifth Helena Dr. (2/??)

1963                        Cinerama Dome completed. (14/246)

01DEC1965            Louella Parson’s last byline appears. (16/341)

1967                        Desilu sells to Paramount. (67/67)

02MAY1970            3000 people crowd MGM’s sound stage 27 for the greatest auction in Hollywood’s history. (19/1)

1972                        Columbia abandons its lot at Sunset & Gower to move to Burbank. (66/51)

1973                        The Hollywood sign is declared a Historic Cultural Monument by the Los Angeles Cultural Heritage Board.


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