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Fun Facts and Trivia From the Year 1959

Gregory DeVictor is a trivia enthusiast who loves to write articles on American nostalgia.

This article teaches you fun facts, trivia, and historical events from the year 1959.

This article teaches you fun facts, trivia, and historical events from the year 1959.

What Happened in the Year 1959?

What are some fun facts, trivia, and history events from the year 1959? What were some of the top news stories in the U.S. and around the world, and what major events took place in the business and financial sectors? What was popular in everyday life, and what happened in science, technology, sports, and in the entertainment industry? From world leaders to pioneers to innovators, who were the most influential people in 1959? What about famous birthdays, marriages, and deaths that year, as well as how much things cost at the grocery store? Finally, what was the year 1959 best known for, and was it a good or bad year overall?

Here is a summary of what took place in 1959:

  1. On October 18, 1867, the United States took possession of Alaska after purchasing the territory from Russia for less than two cents an acre. On July 12, 1898, the Newlands Resolution was passed by Congress to annex the independent Republic of Hawaii. In 1959, Alaska and Hawaii were admitted, individually, as the 49th and 50th states of the Union.
  2. President Eisenhower issued an order for an updated American flag that featured 50 stars arranged in staggered rows: five six-star rows and four five-star rows. (The new flag became official on July 4, 1960.)
  3. The United States recognized Fidel Castro’s new Cuban government, and believed that it could work with the new regime.
  4. Charles Ovnand and Dale R. Buis became the first Americans to be killed in action in Vietnam. (Approximately 47,434 American soldiers were killed in battle during the Vietnam conflict. An additional 10,786 soldiers died out of battle, making a total of 58,220 deaths.)
  5. NASA announced its selection of the seven military pilots—the “Mercury Seven”—who would become the first U.S. astronauts. They were Scott Carpenter, Gordon Cooper, John Glenn, Gus Grissom, Wally Schirra, Alan Shepard, and Deke Slayton.
  6. From July 15 to November 7, a 116-day steel strike idled the steel industry throughout the United States. So what caused the steelworkers to go on strike? Politico.com explains that the steelworkers demanded “that the union give up a clause in their contract which limited management’s ability to change the number of workers assigned to a task or to introduce new work rules or machinery that would result in reduced hours or numbers of employees.”
  7. The St. Lawrence Seaway opened, connecting the Great Lakes to the Atlantic Ocean. (In 1954, President Eisenhower signed legislation authorizing the construction of the St. Lawrence Seaway—an elaborate system of locks and canals in both the United States and Canada that would connect the Great Lakes with the Atlantic Ocean.)
  8. Congress passed legislation authorizing the Secretary of Agriculture to run a Food Stamp program through 1962. However, the Eisenhower administration never took action on the measure.
  9. In the killing that shocked the nation, four members of the Clutter family—Herb Clutter, his wife Bonnie, and their teenage children Nancy and Kenyon—were brutally murdered in Holcomb, Kansas. Two ex-convicts, Perry Smith and Richard Hickock, were found guilty of the murders and sentenced to death. (Truman Capote’s best-selling novel, In Cold Blood, published in 1966, details the quadruple murder.)
  10. A chartered plane that was transporting rock and roll musicians Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and the Big Bopper crashed in foggy conditions near Clear Lake, Iowa. All four occupants on board, including the pilot Roger Peterson, were killed. (The tragedy popularized Don McLean's 1972 song—American Pie.)
  11. The Ford Motor Company discontinued the troubled Edsel brand, and the last car rolled off the assembly line in November.
  12. British paleoanthropologist Mary Leakey discovered a human skull in Tanzania that was about 1.8 million years old.
  13. The Boston Celtics were the NBA champs, the Los Angeles Dodgers won the World Series, and the Montreal Canadiens clinched the Stanley Cup.
  14. The American Football League (AFL) was founded. The AFL's original lineup consisted of “an Eastern division of the New York Titans, Boston Patriots, Buffalo Bills, and the Houston Oilers, and a Western division of the Los Angeles Chargers, Denver Broncos, Oakland Raiders, and Dallas Texans.”
  15. The San Francisco Giants named their new baseball stadium Candlestick Park.
  16. The first Barbie doll went on display at the American Toy Fair in New York. American businesswoman Ruth Handler was credited with creating Barbie by using a German doll named Bild Lilli as her inspiration.
  17. There were 32,000 supermarkets in the U.S., and 15,000 delis in New York City.
  18. McDonald’s opened its 100th restaurant, and the one-billionth can of Spam was sold.
  19. Mike Ilitch and his wife Marian opened the first Little Caesars pizza restaurant in Garden City, Michigan.
  20. New York businessman Reuben Mattus created a premium ice cream, and gave it a Danish sounding name—Haagen Dazs.
  21. At the 31st Academy Awards, the film Gigi won eight Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Costume Design, Best Film Editing, and Best Cinematography.
  22. Consumer products introduced in 1959 include 9 Lives cat food, Jiffy Pop popcorn, Princess telephones, Skip laundry detergent, Surf laundry detergent, Troll dolls, and the Xerox 914 plain paper copier.
  23. Allison Janney, Babyface, Chris Hansen, Emma Thompson, Hugh Laurie, Lawrence Taylor, Maggie Baird, Magic Johnson, Marie Osmond, Michael Kors, and Mike Pence were all born.
  24. In 1959, milk cost $1.01 a gallon, Swanson TV dinners were 49 cents apiece, and Skippy peanut butter was 33 cents for a 12-ounce jar. Eggs were 53 cents a dozen, Herr’s potato chips cost 59 cents for a 16-ounce bag, and SPAM was 43 cents for a 12-ounce can. A movie ticket went for $1.00, a daily newspaper cost seven cents, and bowling dresses were $10.98-$14.98 each.
  25. At the 32nd Scripps National Spelling Bee, 12-year-old Joel Montgomery of Denver, Colorado correctly spelled the word “catamaran.”

This article teaches you fun facts, trivia, and historical events from the year 1959. Find out about popular TV shows, movies, music, books, foods, sports facts, famous birthdays, and other cool pop culture trends to get the right mix of questions and answers for your 1960s-themed trivia game.

In 1959, General Motors was America’s largest corporation.

In 1959, General Motors was America’s largest corporation.

Table of Contents

For easier reading and referencing, I have divided this article into the following categories:

  1. Grocery Prices in the Year 1959
  2. History Facts From the USA and World
  3. Sports Trivia
  4. Miscellaneous Fun Facts, Trivia, and Pop Culture Trends
  5. Entertainment News
  6. Nobel Prize Winners
  7. Best-Selling Books
  8. 1959 in American Television
  9. 1959 in American Radio
  10. Highest-Grossing Films
  11. Ten Best Horror Movies of 1959
  12. Biggest Pop Music Artists
  13. Top 30 Songs for the Year
  14. Food and Beverage Trivia
  15. Famous Birthdays
  16. Notable Weddings
  17. Famous People Who Died
  18. Top 25 U.S. Companies by Revenue
  19. U.S. Automobile Production Figures for the Year
  20. American Companies and Brands Established During 1959
In 1959, cheese balls—a puffed corn snack that is coated with either cheese or a cheese-flavored powder—were all the rage. (By the way, Planters Cheese Balls were not introduced until 1981.)

In 1959, cheese balls—a puffed corn snack that is coated with either cheese or a cheese-flavored powder—were all the rage. (By the way, Planters Cheese Balls were not introduced until 1981.)

1. Grocery Prices in the Year 1959

These grocery facts have been made available courtesy of the Morris County Public Library in Whippany, NJ.

  1. Baby food (Gerber’s, strained): 10 jars for 99 cents
  2. Bacon (sliced): 49 cents a pound
  3. Beef (chuck steak): 39 cents a pound
  4. Beef stew (Dinty Moore): 49 cents for a 24-ounce can
  5. Bread: 29 cents for a 20-ounce loaf
  6. Cereal (Kellogg’s variety, 10 pack): 49 cents apiece
  7. Cheese (Borden, American slices): Five six-ounce packages for $1.00
  8. Chow mein noodles (La Choy): 27 cents for a six-ounce can
  9. Coffee (Eight O’Clock): 53 cents for a one-pound bag
  10. Cold cuts (bologna): 59 cents a pound
  11. Cookies (Burry’s, Happy Family): 39 cents for a 14-ounce package
  12. Corn (fresh): 10 ears for 25 cents
  13. Crackers (Ritz): 25 cents for a 12-ounce box
  14. Fish (Mrs. Paul’s, frozen codfish cakes): 35 cents for an eight-ounce package
  15. French fries (frozen): 49 cents for two 16-ounce packages
  16. Ham (Morrell, canned): $2.49 for a one-pound tin
  17. Juice (Libby, frozen orange): 89 cents for four six-ounce cans
  18. Marshmallow Fluff: 25 cents for a 7.5-ounce jar
  19. Milk: $1.01 a gallon
  20. Miracle Whip (Kraft): 29 cents for a 16-ounce jar
  21. Oil (Wesson): 28 cents for a pint bottle
  22. Onions (yellow): Three pounds for 13 cents
  23. Oranges (Valencia): Ten for 39 cents
  24. Peanut butter (Skippy): 33 cents for a 12-ounce jar
  25. Pickles (Colonial, kosher): 25 cents for a quart jar
  26. Pie (Jane Parker, 8″, assorted flavors): 47 cents each
  27. Potato chips (Herr’s): 59 cents for a one-pound bag
  28. Soda (Coca-Cola): Five 26-ounce bottles for 89 cents
  29. Soup (Campbell’s): Four 10.5-ounce cans for 41 cents
  30. SPAM (Hormel): 43 cents for a 12-ounce can
  31. TV dinner (Swanson): 49 cents for an 11-ounce package
Mike Ilitch and his wife Marian opened the first Little Caesars pizza restaurant in Garden City, Michigan.

Mike Ilitch and his wife Marian opened the first Little Caesars pizza restaurant in Garden City, Michigan.

2. History Facts From the USA and World

  1. On January 3, Alaska became the 49th and largest U.S. state.
  2. On January 7, the United States recognized Fidel Castro’s new Cuban government. History.com tells us that “just six days after the fall of the Fulgencio Batista dictatorship in Cuba, U.S. officials recognized the new provisional government of the island nation. Despite fears that Fidel Castro, whose rebel army helped to overthrow Batista, might have communist leanings, the U.S. government believed that it could work with the new regime and protect American interests in Cuba.”
  3. On February 1, Switzerland “held a referendum on whether women should be allowed to vote in general elections. Only men could take part in the referendum and two-thirds of them voted no.” (In 1971, Swiss women finally won the right to vote.)
  4. On February 3, American Airlines Flight 320 crashed into the East River while on approach to LaGuardia Airport, killing 65 and injuring eight.
  5. On February 3, a chartered plane that was transporting rock and roll musicians Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and the Big Bopper crashed in foggy conditions near Clear Lake, Iowa. All four occupants on board, including the pilot Roger Peterson, were killed. (The tragedy popularized Don McLean's 1972 song—American Pie.)
  6. On February 17, Vanguard 2—the first Earth-orbiting weather satellite—was launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida.
  7. On February 22, Lee Petty won the first Daytona 500.
  8. On February 28, Discoverer 1 was launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, and became “the first man-made object ever put into a polar orbit.”
  9. On March 3, Pioneer 4 was launched from Cape Canaveral, and became “the first U.S. spacecraft to leave the Earth’s gravitational field.” (Pioneer 4 came within 37,300 miles of the Moon’s surface.)
  10. On March 3, the San Francisco Giants named their new baseball stadium Candlestick Park.
  11. On March 9, the first Barbie doll went on display at the American Toy Fair in New York. American businesswoman Ruth Handler was credited with creating Barbie by using a German doll named Bild Lilli as her inspiration.
  12. On March 18, President Eisenhower signed the Hawaii Admission Act, a proclamation which dissolved the Territory of Hawaii and admitted Hawaii into the Union as the 50th state. History.com adds that “The president also issued an order for an American flag featuring 50 stars arranged in staggered rows: five six-star rows and four five-star rows. The new flag became official July 4, 1960.”
  13. On April 7, Oklahoma ended Prohibition after 51 years.
  14. On April 9, NASA announced its selection of the seven military pilots—the “Mercury Seven”—who would become the first U.S. astronauts. They were Scott Carpenter, Gordon Cooper, John Glenn, Gus Grissom, Wally Schirra, Alan Shepard, and Deke Slayton.
  15. On April 15, U.S. Secretary of State John Foster Dulles resigned because of declining health. (Dulles passed away on May 24, 1959 at the Walter Reed Medical Center.)
  16. On April 25, the St. Lawrence Seaway opened, connecting the Great Lakes to the Atlantic Ocean. (In 1959, President Eisenhower signed legislation authorizing the construction of the St. Lawrence Seaway—an elaborate system of locks and canals in both the United States and Canada that would connect the Great Lakes with the Atlantic Ocean.)
  17. On May 8, Mike Ilitch and his wife Marian opened the first Little Caesars pizza restaurant in Garden City, Michigan.
  18. On July 8, Charles Ovnand and Dale R. Buis became the first Americans to be killed in action in Vietnam.
  19. From July 15 to November 7, a 116-day steel strike idled the steel industry throughout the United States. So what caused the steelworkers to go on strike? Politico.com explains that the steelworkers demanded “that the union give up a clause in their contract which limited management’s ability to change the number of workers assigned to a task or to introduce new work rules or machinery that would result in reduced hours or numbers of employees.”
  20. On July 24, Vice President Richard Nixon and Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev engaged in a heated “kitchen debate” about capitalism and communism while attending a Moscow trade show where U.S. kitchen appliances were on exhibit.
  21. On August 15, the American Football League (AFL) was founded. The AFL's original lineup consisted of “an Eastern division of the New York Titans, Boston Patriots, Buffalo Bills, and the Houston Oilers, and a Western division of the Los Angeles Chargers, Denver Broncos, Oakland Raiders, and Dallas Texans.”
  22. On August 21, Hawaii officially became the 50th U.S. state.
  23. On August 26, the British Motor Corporation (BMC) introduced the Morris Mini-Minor, a small economy car that was only 10-feet long but seated four passengers.
  24. On October 8, the Los Angeles Dodgers defeated the Chicago White Sox—four games to two—to win their second World Series title.
  25. On October 11, the UK began using postcodes (originally, postal codes). PostalMuseum.org explains that “The first postcodes were introduced on a trial basis in Norwich in 1959 with the first three characters of the code ('NOR') representing the name of the city, and the last three characters a particular street. Larger firms and businesses received their own individual codes.”
  26. On October 21, the Guggenheim Museum, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, opened to the public in New York City.
  27. On November 15, in the killing that shocked the nation, four members of the Clutter family—Herb Clutter, his wife Bonnie, and their teenage children Nancy and Kenyon—were brutally murdered in Holcomb, Kansas. Two ex-convicts, Perry Smith and Richard Hickock, were found guilty of the murders and sentenced to death. (Truman Capote’s best-selling novel, In Cold Blood, published in 1966, details the quadruple murder.)
  28. On December 1, the Antarctic Treaty of 1959 was signed by 12 countries, including Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Chile, France, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, South Africa, the United Kingdom, the United States, and the Soviet Union. Britannica.com explains that “The treaty encouraged the freedom of scientific investigation and the exchange of scientific information and personnel in Antarctica. A protocol to the 1959 treaty was signed in 1991. The agreement banned mineral and oil exploration for 50 years and included regulations for the protection of the Antarctic environment.”
  29. On December 13, The Wizard of Oz was shown on television for the second time.
  30. On December 28, at the 26th NFL championship game, the Baltimore Colts won 31–16 over the New York Giants at Baltimore's Memorial Stadium.
In 1959, the Los Angeles Dodgers won the World Series.

In 1959, the Los Angeles Dodgers won the World Series.

3. Sports Trivia

Generally suitable for all age groups, sports questions are a welcome addition to any trivia quiz.

  1. Indianapolis 500: Roger Ward
  2. Kentucky Derby: Tommy Lee
  3. NBA Champions: Boston Celtics
  4. NCAA Basketball: California
  5. NCAA Football Champs: Syracuse
  6. NFL Champions: Baltimore Colts
  7. Orange Bowl: Oklahoma over Syracuse
  8. Rose Bowl: Iowa over California
  9. Stanley Cup Champs: Montreal Canadiens
  10. Sugar Bowl: LSU over Clemson
  11. U.S. Open Golf: Billy Casper
  12. U.S. Open Tennis (men/women): Neale Fraser/Maria Bueno
  13. Wimbledon (men/women): Alex Olmedo/Maria Bueno
  14. World Series Champions: Los Angeles Dodgers
In 1959, the Boston Celtics were the NBA champions.

In 1959, the Boston Celtics were the NBA champions.

  1. In 1959, popular baby names were Michael, David, James, John, Mary, Susan, Linda, and Karen.
  2. The average life expectancy at birth in the U.S. was 66.8 years.
  3. Fashion icons for the year included Brigitte Bardot, Doris Day, Mamie Van Doren, Annette Funicello, Audrey Hepburn, Sophia Loren, Jayne Mansfield, Marilyn Monroe, Julie Newmar, Kim Novak, Donna Reed, Elizabeth Taylor, Lana Turner, Tuesday Weld, and Jane Wyatt.
  4. Mary Ann Mobley (Mississippi) was crowned Miss America.
  5. Terry Huntingdon (California) became Miss USA.
  6. Time magazine’s “Person of the Year” was President Dwight D. Eisenhower.
  7. Consumer products introduced in 1959 include 9 Lives cat food, Jiffy Pop popcorn, Princess telephones, Skip laundry detergent, Surf laundry detergent, Troll dolls, and the Xerox 914 plain paper copier.
  8. In 1959, Soviet Premier Nikita Krushchev could not visit Disneyland because of his political views.
  9. British paleoanthropologist Mary Leakey discovered a human skull in Tanzania that was about 1.8 million years old.
  10. Ford discontinued the troubled Edsel brand, and the final car rolled off the assembly line in November.
  11. During the 1950s, U.S. agricultural exports averaged about $3.53 billion a year, or about 22% of total exports.
  12. The aluminum Christmas tree was introduced.
  13. Danny’s coffee shops were renamed Denny’s.
  14. There were about 15,000 delis in New York City.
  15. Bic pens were introduced in the U.S. (Europe had them since 1952.)
  16. There were 32,000 supermarkets in the U.S.
  17. Coors of Golden, Colorado introduced the recyclable aluminum beer can.
  18. The one-billionth can of Spam was sold.
  19. McDonald’s opened its 100th restaurant.
  20. Congress passed legislation authorizing the Secretary of Agriculture to run a Food Stamp program through 1962. However, the Eisenhower administration never took action on the measure.
  21. New York businessman Reuben Mattus created a premium ice cream, and gave it a Danish sounding name—Haagen Dazs.
  22. Mike Ilitch and his wife Marian opened the first Little Caesars pizza restaurant in Garden City, Michigan.
  23. Charles “Charlie” Trotter—the famed American chef and restaurateur—was born. Food-Reference.com reminds us that Trotter’s “eponymous Chicago restaurant (opened in 1987) was recognized as one of the finest in the world. He was also host of the PBS cooking show 'Kitchen Sessions with Charlie Trotter' and the author of 14 cookbooks.”
  24. Average income per year: $5,016.00
  25. Average cost of a new house: $12,400.00
  26. Average cost of a new car: $2,200.00
  27. Average cost of a gallon of gas: 25 cents
  28. Cost of a first-class postage stamp: Four cents
  29. Unemployment averaged 5.3%.
  30. Inflation was 0.69%.
  31. The minimum wage was $1.00 per hour.
  32. On January 2, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) closed at 439.27.
  33. On December 31, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) closed at 679.36
  34. In May, the prime rate was 4.5%.
  35. GDP growth was 6.9% for the year.
  36. The price of gold averaged $35.25 per troy ounce.
  37. Average price for a movie ticket: $1.00
  38. A Chevrolet Kingswood station wagon: $2,970.00
  39. A Pontiac Star Chief: $3,500.00
  40. A man’s wool sports coat: $21.95
  41. A boy’s coat: $6.66
  42. Women’s shoes: $14.95 a pair
  43. A girl’s dress: $2.98-$3.98 each
  44. Alcoa aluminum wrap (75’): 69 cents
  45. Swanee toilet tissue: Three 500-sheet rolls for 37 cents
  46. A General Electric washing machine: $185.00
  47. A Sears Craftsman lawn mower: $79.88-$89.95 apiece
  48. A daily newspaper: Seven cents
  49. A Tiny Tears doll: $9.88
  50. A Steve Canyon jet helmet: $2.88
In 1959, Surf laundry detergent appeared on American grocery store shelves for the first time.

In 1959, Surf laundry detergent appeared on American grocery store shelves for the first time.

5. Entertainment News

  1. On January 9, the western Rawhide—starring Clint Eastwood—premiered on CBS. The series ran for eight seasons.
  2. On January 12, Berry Gordy Jr. founded the record company Motown as Tamla Records.
  3. On January 29, Walt Disney’s animated musical fantasy film—Sleeping Beauty—was released.
  4. On March 29, the film Some Like It Hot—directed by Billy Wilder and starring Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis, and Jack Lemmon—debuted in New York City.
  5. On April 6, the 31st Academy Awards honored the best films of 1958. Here were some of the winners: Gigi won an Oscar for Best Picture, and Vincent Minnelli (Gigi) won an Oscar for Best Director. Likewise, David Niven (Separate Tables) won an Oscar for Best Actor, and Susan Hayward (I Want to Live!) won an Oscar for Best Actress. Finally, Burt Ives (The Big Country) won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor, and Wendy Hiller (Separate Tables) won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress.
  6. On May 13, the final broadcast of the Kraft Music Hall aired on NBC. The variety show ran for 13 seasons.
  7. On May 6, at the 11th Primetime Emmy Awards, The Jack Benny Show (CBS) won an Emmy for Outstanding Comedy Series, and Alcoa-Goodyear Theatre (NBC) won an Emmy for Outstanding Drama Series. Likewise, Perry Como (The Perry Como Show) (CBS) won an Emmy for Best Performance by an Actor (Continuing Character) in a Musical or Variety Series. Finally, Dinah Shore (The Dinah Shore Chevy Show) (NBC) won an Emmy for Best Performance by an Actress (Continuing Character) in a Musical or Variety Series.
  8. On June 13, the final broadcast of the Sammy Kaye Show aired on ABC.
  9. On June 18, the film version of Kathryn Hulme's 1956 novel—The Nun's Story—premiered in New York City.
  10. On June 27, the musical West Side Story closed at the Garden Theater in New York City after 734 performances.
  11. On July 17, North by Northwest, a mystery film directed by Alfred Hitchcock and starring Cary Grant and Eva Marie Saint, debuted in Los Angeles.
  12. On July 18, the film version of Kathryn Hulme's 1956 novel—The Nun's Story—premiered in Los Angeles.
  13. On July 22, Ed Wood's black-and-white science fiction-horror film, Plan 9 From Outer Space, was released.
  14. On September 11, jazz musician Duke Ellington won the Spingarn Medal for his musical achievements.
  15. On September 12, Bonanza debuted on NBC.
  16. On September 28, Hennessy premiered on CBS.
  17. On September 29, the Many Loves Of Dobie Gillis debuted on CBS.
  18. On September 29, Philip Marlowe premiered on ABC.
  19. On October 2, Rod Serling’s Twilight Zone debuted on CBS.
  20. On October 7, Pillow Talk, a romantic-comedy film starring Doris Day and Rock Hudson, was released.
  21. On November 16, The Sound of Music, a musical by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II, opened at the Lunt Fontanne Theater in New York City. It ran for 1,443 performances.
  22. On November 18, the adventure film Ben-Hur, directed by William Wyler and starring Charlton Heston, premiered in New York City.
  23. On November 19, Rocky and His Friends debuted on ABC.
  24. On November 21, Jack Benny (violin) and Richard Nixon (piano) played their famous duet.
  25. On November 23, the musical Fiorello! opened at the Broadhurst Theater in New York City. It ran for 796 performances.
At the 31st Academy Awards, the film Gigi won eight Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Costume Design, Best Film Editing, and Best Cinematography.

At the 31st Academy Awards, the film Gigi won eight Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Costume Design, Best Film Editing, and Best Cinematography.

6. Nobel Prize Winners

Beth Rowen tells us that winning a Nobel Prize is a life-changing honor. Whether the laureate is an internationally known figure (such as Mother Teresa) or a scientist from obscurity (like Richard R. Ernst), the award brings worldwide recognition that highlights one's life work and provides the funds to continue the mission.

This Nobel Prize information from 1959 has been made available courtesy of NobelPrize.com.

  • Chemistry: Jaroslav Heyrovský
  • Literature: Salvatore Quasimodo
  • Peace: Philip Noel-Baker
  • Physics: Owen Chamberlain and Emilio Segrè
  • Physiology or medicine: Severo Ochoa and Arthur Kornberg

7. Best-Selling Books

This book trivia from 1959 has been made available courtesy of PublishersWeekly.com.

Fiction books:

1. Exodus by Leon Uris

2. Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak

3. Hawaii by James Michener

4. Advise and Consent by Allen Drury

5. Lady Chatterley's Lover by D.H. Lawrence

6 . The Ugly American by William J. Lederer and Eugene L. Burdick

7. Dear and Glorious Physician by Taylor Caldwell

8. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

9. Mrs. 'Arris Goes to Paris by Paul Gallico

10. Poor No More by Robert Ruark

Nonfiction books:

1. Twixt Twelve and Twenty by Pat Boone

2. Folk Medicine by D.C. Jarvis

3. For 2¢ Plain by Harry Golden

4. The Status Seekers by Vance Packard

5. Act One by Moss Hart

6. Charley Weaver's Letters from Mamma by Cliff Arquette

7. The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White

8. The General Foods Kitchens Cookbook by the GFK Editors

9. Only in America by Harry Golden

10. Mine Enemy Grows Older by Alexander King

In 1959, The Price Is Right was a favorite daytime game show. The original version of The Price Is Right premiered in 1956 on NBC, and was hosted by Bill Cullen.

In 1959, The Price Is Right was a favorite daytime game show. The original version of The Price Is Right premiered in 1956 on NBC, and was hosted by Bill Cullen.

8. 1959 in American Television

Encyclopedia.com tells us that “Television was introduced to Americans in 1939 and began to gain a foothold after World War II (1939–45). In the 1950s, the sale of TV sets and the boom in programming made TV America's favorite source of entertainment. Consider the numbers: in 1946, 7,000 TV sets were sold; in 1948, 172,000 sets were sold; and in 1950, 5 million sets were sold. In 1950, just under 20 percent of American homes contained a TV set. Ten years later, nearly 90 percent of homes contained a TV—and some even had color TVs.”

Courtesy of Nielsen TV Research, here are the most popular television shows from the 1959-55 season:

1. Gunsmoke (CBS)

2. Wagon Train (NBC)

3. Have Gun Will Travel (CBS)

4. The Danny Thomas Show (CBS)

5. The Red Skelton Show (CBS)

6. Father Knows Best (CBS)

7. 77 Sunset Strip (ABC)

8. The Price Is Right (CBS)

9. Wanted: Dead or Alive (CBS)

10. Perry Mason (CBS)

In 1959, the following USA-based television stations began broadcasting:

  1. On January 12, KOED TV (PBS) in Tulsa, Oklahoma began broadcasting.
  2. On January 24, WHCT TV (IND) in Hartford, Connecticut began broadcasting.
  3. On January 26, KOKH TV (PBS/IND) in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma began broadcasting.
  4. On February 1, WVUE TV (ABC) in New Orleans, Louisiana began broadcasting.
  5. On February 23, KVIE TV (PBS) in Sacramento-Stockton, California began broadcasting.
  6. On March 8, KUAT TV (PBS) in Tucson, Arizona began broadcasting.
  7. On March 15, WILX TV (NBC) in Lansing, Michigan began broadcasting.
  8. On March 30, WNED TV (PBS) in Buffalo, New York began broadcasting.
  9. On April 14, KDIN TV (PBS) in Des Moines, Iowa began broadcasting.
  10. On April 24, WICD TV (NBC/ABC) in Champaign, Illinois began broadcasting.
  11. On April 28, KLOE TV (CBS) in Goodland, Kansas began broadcasting.
  12. On April 28, KPLR TV (IND) in St. Louis, Missouri began broadcasting.
  13. On May 16, WTOM TV (NBC) in Cheboygan, Michigan began broadcasting.
  14. On July 1, WVTV TV (IND) in Milwaukee, Wisconsin began broadcasting.
  15. On July 6, WENH TV (PBS) in Durham, New Hampshire began broadcasting.
  16. On August 1, WAAY TV (ABC/NBC) in Huntsville, Alabama began broadcasting.
  17. On September 14, WQEX TV (PBS) in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (PBS) began broadcasting.
  18. On October 11, KTHI TV (NBC) in Fargo-Grand Forks, North Dakota began broadcasting.
  19. On October 14, WMUB TV (now WPTO TV) (PBS) in Oxford, Ohio began broadcasting.
  20. On October 15, KNDO TV (NBC) in Yakima, Washington began broadcasting.
  21. On October 20, WABG TV (ABC) in Greenwood-Greenville, Mississippi began broadcasting.
  22. On November 8, KJTV TV (now KGET TV) (NBC) in Bakersfield, California began broadcasting.
  23. On November 28, KOMC TV (now KSNK TV) (NBC) in McCook-Oberlin, Nebraska began broadcasting.
In 1959, Perry Mason—an American legal drama starring Raymond Burr, Barbara Hale, William Hopper, William Talman, and Ray Collins—was one of the most popular television shows.

In 1959, Perry Mason—an American legal drama starring Raymond Burr, Barbara Hale, William Hopper, William Talman, and Ray Collins—was one of the most popular television shows.

9. 1959 in American Radio

Encyclopedia.com tells us that “Television changed the American entertainment landscape. In towns where TV was introduced, movie attendance and book sales dropped off dramatically. Radio, which had been America's favorite form of at-home amusement, declined in importance in the 1950s. Variety, comedy, and dramatic shows left the airwaves for TV. Radio increasingly focused on news, talk shows, and sports broadcasting.”

Here are some of the most popular radio programs from 1959:

  1. Don McNeill’s Breakfast Club
  2. Ma Perkins
  3. Midwestern Hayride
  4. Milkman’s Matinee
  5. Monitor
  6. Moon River
  7. Pop Chronicles
  8. Ranger Bill
  9. Suspense (radio drama)
  10. The Eternal Light
  11. The Romance of Helen Trent
  12. The Standard School Broadcast
  13. Unshackled!
  14. Young Doctor Malone
  15. Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar

10. Highest-Grossing Films

This movie trivia has been made available courtesy of The-Numbers.com.

  1. Ben-Hur
  2. The Shaggy Dog
  3. Some Like It Hot
  4. Operation Petticoat
  5. Pillow Talk
  6. Imitation of Life
  7. North by Northwest
  8. The Nun’s Story
  9. On the Beach
  10. A Hole in the Head
  11. Solomon and Sheba
  12. Journey to the Center of the Earth
  13. Rio Bravo
  14. Pork Chop Hill

11. Ten Best Horror Movies of 1959

This film trivia from 1959 has been made available courtesy of IMDB.com.

  1. House on Haunted Hill
  2. A Bucket of Blood
  3. The Hound of the Baskervilles
  4. The Ghost of Yotsuya
  5. The Tingler
  6. The Mummy
  7. Experiment in Evil
  8. Jack the Ripper
  9. The Black Pit of Dr. M
  10. The Bat
In 1959, Ma Perkins—a radio soap opera that was heard on NBC from 1933 to 1949, and on CBS from 1942 to 1960—was the story of “a benevolent, self-sufficient widow who owned and managed a lumber yard in the fictitious town of Rushville Center.”

In 1959, Ma Perkins—a radio soap opera that was heard on NBC from 1933 to 1949, and on CBS from 1942 to 1960—was the story of “a benevolent, self-sufficient widow who owned and managed a lumber yard in the fictitious town of Rushville Center.”

12. Biggest Pop Music Artists

Popular music artists from 1959 included Bobby Darin, Brook Benton, Connie Francis, the Coasters, the Crests, the Drifters, Elvis Presley, Fabian, Fats Domino, the Fleetwoods, Frankie Avalon, Jackie Wilson, Johnny Cash, Johnny Mathis, Pat Boone, Paul Anka, the Platters, Paul Anka, Ricky Nelson, the Skyliners, and Tommy Edwards.

13. Top 30 Songs for the Year

This music trivia from 1959 has been made available courtesy of Music-Outfitters.com.

1. The Battle of New Orleans: Johnny Horton

2. Mack the Knife: Bobby Darin

3. Personality: Lloyd Price

4. Venus: Frankie Avalon

5. Lonely Boy: Paul Anka

6. Dream Lover: Bobby Darin

7. The Three Bells (Les trois cloches): the Browns

8. Come Softly to Me: the Fleetwoods

9. Kansas City: Wilbert Harrison

10. Mr. Blue: the Fleetwoods

11. Sleep Walk: Santo & Johnny

12. Put Your Head On My Shoulder: Paul Anka

13. Stagger Lee: Lloyd Price

14. Donna: Ritchie Valens

15. Pink Shoelaces: Dodie Stevens

16. Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: the Platters

17. Charlie Brown: the Coasters

18. Quiet Village: Martin Denny

19. My Heart Is an Open Book: Carl Dobkins Jr.

20. 'Til I Kissed You: Everly Brothers

21. Sea Of Love: Phil Phillips & the Twilights

22. The Happy Organ: Dave "Baby" Cortez

23. I'm Gonna Get Married: Lloyd Price

24. Sorry (I Ran All The Way Home): the Impalas

25. A Teenager In Love: Dion and the Belmonts

26. 16 Candles: the Crests

27. It's Just a Matter of Time: Brook Benton

28. Lipstick On Your Collar: Connie Francis

29. There Goes My Baby: the Drifters

30. A Big Hunk O' Love: Elvis Presley

Bobby Darin: Mack the Knife

14. Food and Beverage Trivia

GoodHousekeeping.com tells us that “Like fashion, food falls in and out of style. Back when kids of the '50s and '60s were growing up, family dinners meant these dishes were front and center at every family get-together, holiday meal, or cocktail party your parents threw. Many of these recipes evolved from the appeal of new ‘convenience’ foods ranging from canned soups to boxed cake mixes.”

Courtesy of TheDailyMeal.com and TasteofHome.com, here are some foods and beverages that were popular in 1959.

  1. Ambrosia salad
  2. Apple pie
  3. Bacon-wrapped Spam bites
  4. Baked ham with pineapple
  5. Beer
  6. Butter-toasted corn
  7. Celebration cheese balls
  8. Charcoal-broiled hamburgers
  9. Charcoal-broiled steak
  10. Cherry nut cake
  11. Chicken a la King
  12. Chicken amandine
  13. Chicken and dumplings
  14. Chicken Tetrazzini: TheDailyMeal.com tells us that “Named after opera singer Luisa Tetrazzini, Tetrazzini is a dish made with poultry or seafood (usually chicken or turkey) and mushrooms in a creamy sauce flavored with wine or sherry, served over pasta.”
  15. Chocolate chiffon cake
  16. Chocolate cream pie
  17. Coca-Cola, Pepsi, and RC Cola
  18. Cold bean casseroles
  19. Deviled eggs
  20. Deviled ham
  21. Dinty Moore beef stew
  22. Eggnog
  23. French-fried onions
  24. Fried chicken
  25. Gin (the sloe gin fizz and the Tom Collins)
  26. Grapefruit Alaska
  27. Grasshopper shakes
  28. Green beans amandine
  29. Hawaiian pie
  30. Jell-O salads
  31. Lamb roast
  32. Manhattans and martinis
  33. Meatloaf
  34. Molded strawberry salad
  35. Olive-stuffed celery
  36. Peach pie
  37. Pina colada molded salad
  38. Relish trays
  39. Roast beef
  40. Rum (rum and coke)
  41. Shrimp and cucumber canapes
  42. Spaghetti with meat sauce
  43. Spiced pineapple upside-down cake
  44. Strawberry shakes
  45. Strawberry shortcake
  46. Stuffed celery
  47. Swanson TV dinners
  48. Swedish meatballs
  49. Tuna noodle casseroles
  50. Vodka (screwdrivers and the bloody Mary)
In 1959, Pillow Talk—a romantic comedy starring Rock Hudson, Doris Day, Tony Randall, Thelma Ritter, and Nick Adams—was one of the highest-grossing films.

In 1959, Pillow Talk—a romantic comedy starring Rock Hudson, Doris Day, Tony Randall, Thelma Ritter, and Nick Adams—was one of the highest-grossing films.

15. Famous Birthdays

Here are some of the famous people who were born in 1959:

  1. Allison Janney: TV actress
  2. Babyface: Music producer
  3. Cathy Nesbitt: Reality star
  4. Chris Hansen: Journalist
  5. Clancy Brown: Movie actor
  6. Emma Thompson: Movie actress
  7. Helen Pearson: Soap opera actress
  8. Hugh Laurie: TV actor
  9. Jacques Torres: Chef
  10. Jason Alexander: TV actor
  11. Judd Nelson: Movie actor
  12. Kevin Spacey: Movie actor
  13. Lawrence Taylor: Football player
  14. Maggie Baird: TV actress
  15. Magic Johnson: Baseball player
  16. Marie Osmond: TV show host
  17. Matthew Modine: Movie actor
  18. Michael Kors: Fashion designer
  19. Mike Pence: Former Vice-President
  20. Rachel Renee Russel: Children’s author
  21. Randy Travis: Country singer
  22. Sade: R&B singer
  23. Simon Cowell: Talent Manager
  24. Stephen Harper: World leader
  25. Steve McFadden: Soap opera actor

16. Notable Weddings

These trivia facts have been made available courtesy of OnThisDay.com.

  1. On January 26, Raúl Castro, President of Cuba, married revolutionary Vilma Espín.
  2. On April 1, science fiction writer Philip K. Dick wed Anne Williams Rubinstein.
  3. On April 10, Japan's Crown Prince Akihito married Michiko Shoda.
  4. On May 8, actress Raquel Welch wed high school sweetheart James Welch.
  5. On May 12, actress Elizabeth Taylor married entertainer Eddie Fisher.
  6. On July 18, actress Louise Fletcher wed producer Jerry Bick.
  7. On September 5, motorcycle daredevil Evel Knievel married Linda Joan Bork.
  8. On September 19, Academy award-winning actor Rod Steiger wed stage and film actress Claire Bloom.
  9. On September 25, Cosmopolitan magazine founder Helen Gurley Brown married theater producer David Brown.
  10. On December 26, NFL coach John Madden wed Virginia Fields.

17. Famous People Who Died

This information has been made available courtesy of FamousBirthdays.com.

  1. Baby Dodds: Drummer
  2. Billie Holiday: Jazz singer
  3. Buddy Holly: Rock singer
  4. Carl Switzer: TV actor
  5. Cecil B. DeMille: Director
  6. Ed Walsh: Baseball player
  7. Errol Flynn: Movie actor
  8. Ethel Barrymore: Stage actress
  9. Frank Lloyd Wright: Architect
  10. George Marshall: War hero
  11. George Reeves: TV actor
  12. Gilda Gray: Movie actress
  13. Jack Norworth: Songwriter
  14. James Gleason: Movie actor
  15. John Foster Dulles: Politician
  16. Kay Kendall: Movie actress
  17. Lefty Williams: Baseball player
  18. Lou Costello: Comedian
  19. Mario Lanza: Opera singer
  20. Maryla Jonas: Pianist
  21. Paul Douglas: Movie actor
  22. Raymond Chandler: Novelist
  23. Richie Valens: Rock singer
  24. Sam M. Lewis: Songwriter
  25. William Bishop: TV actor
In 1959, Family Dollar, a variety store chain that operates over 8,000 retail outlets, was founded by Leon Levine, a 21-year-old entrepreneur. The first store opened in Charlotte, North Carolina.

In 1959, Family Dollar, a variety store chain that operates over 8,000 retail outlets, was founded by Leon Levine, a 21-year-old entrepreneur. The first store opened in Charlotte, North Carolina.

18. Top 25 U.S. Companies by Revenue

These corporate facts have been made available courtesy of Money.CNN.com.

  1. General Motors
  2. Exxon Mobil
  3. Ford Motor Company
  4. General Electric
  5. U.S. Steel
  6. Mobil
  7. Gulf Oil
  8. Esmark
  9. Texaco
  10. AT&T
  11. Chrysler
  12. Bethlehem Steel
  13. CBS
  14. Amoco
  15. Armour
  16. Dupont
  17. Boeing
  18. Shell Oil
  19. ChevronTexaco
  20. General Dynamics
  21. Kraft
  22. Goodyear Tire & Rubber
  23. Union Carbide
  24. Procter & Gamble
  25. Douglas Aircraft

19. U.S. Automobile Production Figures for the Year

Here are the U.S. automobile production figures for 1959:

  1. Chevrolet: 1,462,140
  2. Ford: 1,450,953
  3. Plymouth: 458,261
  4. Pontiac: 383,320
  5. Oldsmobile: 382,865
  6. Rambler: 374,240
  7. Buick: 285,089
  8. Dodge: 156,385
  9. Mercury: 150,000
  10. Cadillac: 142,272
  11. Studebaker: 126,156
  12. Chrysler: 69,970
  13. DeSoto: 45,734
  14. Edsel: 44,891
  15. Lincoln/Continental: 26,906
  16. Metropolitan: 22,209
  17. Imperial: 17,269
  18. Checker: 1,050

20. American Companies and Brands Established During 1959

  1. Alpha Industries: A clothing manufacturer that is located in Knoxville, Tennessee.
  2. AmeriGas: Headquartered in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, AmeriGas is “the largest retail propane distributor in the United States based on the volume of propane gallons distributed annually. It serves over 1.7 million residential, commercial, industrial, agricultural, wholesale, and motor fuel customers in all 50 states from approximately 1,900 propane distribution locations.”
  3. The Conco Companies: Located in Concord, California, the Concord Companies provide commercial concrete services to the surrounding areas of San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Jose, Sacramento, Seattle, Portland, Reno, Denver, and Colorado Springs.
  4. A. Eicoff & Company: One of the top ten advertising agencies in Chicago.
  5. Family Dollar: An American variety store chain that operates over 8,000 retail outlets in all states except Alaska, Hawaii, Oregon, and Washington.
  6. Guitar Center: A retail music chain that has 269 locations.
  7. Karns Quality Foods: A privately-owned grocery store chain in the Harrisburg, Pennsylvania metropolitan area.
  8. Kum & Go: A convenience store chain that operates 400 stores in the Midwest United States.
  9. Rodney Strong Vineyards: A family-owned winery that is based in Healdsburg, California.
  10. Round Table Pizza: A chain and franchise of over 400 pizza parlours in the western United States.
In 1959, Round Table Pizza—a chain and franchise of over 400 pizza parlours in the western United States—was founded.

In 1959, Round Table Pizza—a chain and franchise of over 400 pizza parlours in the western United States—was founded.

References:

In 1959, the one-billionth can of Spam was sold.

In 1959, the one-billionth can of Spam was sold.

© 2021 Gregory DeVictor

Comments

Gregory DeVictor (author) from Pittsburgh, PA on April 11, 2021:

Ravi, thanks for reading my article and for sharing. Yes, 1959 was quite a unique year.

Ravi Rajan from Mumbai on April 11, 2021:

Nice Trivia Gregory about 1959.1959 really looks to be a special year with lot of things happening. Thanks for sharing.

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