The 1950s Portal

Top, L-R: U.S. Marines engaged in street fighting during the Korean War, circa late September 1950; The first polio vaccine is developed by Jonas Salk. Centre, L-R: US tests its first thermonuclear bomb with code name Ivy Mike in 1952. A 1954 thermonuclear test, code named Castle Romeo, is shown here; In 1959, Fidel Castro overthrows Fulgencio Batista in the Cuban Revolution, resulting in the creation of the first communist government in the Western hemisphere; Elvis Presley becomes the leading figure of rock and roll in the mid-1950s. Bottom, L-R: Smoke rises from oil tanks on Port Said following the invasion of Egypt as part of the Suez Crisis in late 1956; French paratroopers march in Algiers in the beginning of the Algerian War, 1957; The Soviet Union launches Sputnik 1, the first artificial satellite to orbit the earth, in October 1957.
Top, L-R: U.S. Marines engaged in street fighting during the Korean War, circa late September 1950; The first polio vaccine is developed by Jonas Salk.
Centre, L-R: US tests its first thermonuclear bomb with code name Ivy Mike in 1952. A 1954 thermonuclear test, code named Castle Romeo, is shown here; In 1959, Fidel Castro overthrows Fulgencio Batista in the Cuban Revolution, resulting in the creation of the first communist government in the Western hemisphere; Elvis Presley becomes the leading figure of rock and roll in the mid-1950s.
Bottom, L-R: Smoke rises from oil tanks on Port Said following the invasion of Egypt as part of the Suez Crisis in late 1956; French paratroopers march in Algiers in the beginning of the Algerian War, 1957; The Soviet Union launches Sputnik 1, the first artificial satellite to orbit the earth, in October 1957.

The 1950s (pronounced nineteen-fifties; commonly abbreviated as the "Fifties" or the " '50s") (among other variants) was a decade that began on January 1, 1950, and ended on December 31, 1959.

Throughout the decade, the world continued its recovery from World War II, aided by the post-World War II economic expansion. The period also saw great population growth with increased birth rates and the emergence of the baby boomer generation. Despite this recovery, the Cold War developed from its modest beginnings in the late 1940s to a heated competition between the Soviet Union and the United States by the early 1960s. The ideological clash between communism and capitalism dominated the decade, especially in the Northern Hemisphere, with conflicts including the Korean War in the early 1950s, the Cuban Revolution, the beginning of the Vietnam War in French Indochina, and the beginning of the Space Race with the launch of Sputnik 1 in 1957. Along with increased testing of nuclear weapons (such as RDS-37 and Upshot–Knothole), the tense geopolitical situation created a politically conservative climate. In the United States, a wave of anti-communist sentiment known as the Second Red Scare resulted in Congressional hearings by both houses in Congress. The beginning of decolonization in Africa and Asia also took place in this decade and accelerated in the following decade. (Full article...)

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The 1951 Philadelphia municipal election held on Tuesday November 6, was the first election under the city's new charter, which had been approved by the voters in April, and the first Democratic victory in the city in more than a half-century. The positions contested were those of mayor and district attorney, and all seventeen city council seats. There was also a referendum on whether to consolidate the city and county governments. Citywide, the Democrats took majorities of over 100,000 votes, breaking a 67-year Republican hold on city government. Joseph S. Clark Jr. and Richardson Dilworth, two of the main movers for the charter reform, were elected mayor and district attorney, respectively. Led by local party chairman James A. Finnegan, the Democrats also took fourteen of seventeen city council seats, and all of the citywide offices on the ballot. A referendum on city-county consolidation passed by a wide margin. The election marked the beginning of Democratic dominance of Philadelphia city politics, which continues today. (Full article...)
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Did you know...

  • ... that KWEM-LP in West Memphis, Arkansas, was established as a tribute to a radio station that in the late 1940s and 1950s helped launch the careers of B.B. King, Howlin' Wolf and Johnny Cash?
  • ... that My Michael, a novel by Israeli author Amos Oz set in Jerusalem of the 1950s, was reviled by critics as being "politically dangerous and subversive"?
  • ... that in the 1950s, the Soviet Union introduced an open university system to enable working-class students to become useful functionaries of the Communist party?
  • ... that Richardson Island was involved in an "annexation war" between two cities in the 1950s?
  • ... that Māori fiction written in English, now a key part of New Zealand literature, only emerged in the 1950s?
  • ... that in the 1950s, Slovene transgender lawyer and writer Ljuba Prenner used the introduction: "I am Dr. Ljuba Prenner, neither man nor woman"?

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Cline in a publicity portrait for Decca Records, 1960
Cline in a publicity portrait for Decca Records, 1960

Patsy Cline (born Virginia Patterson Hensley; September 8, 1932 – March 5, 1963) was an American singer. She is considered one of the most influential vocalists of the 20th century and was one of the first country music artists to cross over into pop music. Cline had several major hits during her eight-year recording career, including two number-one hits on the Billboard Hot Country and Western Sides chart.

Cline's first professional performances began at the local WINC radio station when she was fifteen. In the early 1950s, Cline began appearing in a local band led by performer Bill Peer. Various local appearances led to featured performances on Connie B. Gay's Town and Country television broadcasts. It also led to the signing of her first recording contract with the Four Star label in 1954. She had minor success with her earliest Four Star singles including "A Church, a Courtroom, Then Goodbye" (1955) and "I've Loved and Lost Again" (1956). In 1957 Cline made her first national television appearance on Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts. After performing "Walkin' After Midnight", the single became her first major hit on both the country and pop charts. (Full article...)

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