Gregory DeVictor is a trivia enthusiast who loves to write articles on American nostalgia.
What Happened During the Year 1956?
What are some fun facts, trivia, and history events from the year 1956? What were the top news stories in the U.S. and around the world, and what major events took place in the business and financial sectors? How much did a loaf of bread or a gallon of milk cost, and what happened in science, technology, sports, and in the entertainment industry? What were the biggest food and fashion trends, and what were the most popular baby names and Christmas gifts?
From world leaders to pioneers to innovators, who were the most influential people in 1956? What was the median household income, the average life expectancy, and how much did a new house or car cost? What about famous birthdays, marriages, and deaths that year, as well as the most popular slang words and pastimes? Finally, what was the year 1956 best known for, and was it a good or bad year overall? Let's find out.
Here is a summary of the top news stories and history events that happened in 1956:
- As in previous years, Americans were buying houses in the suburbs, and were also busy purchasing new cars, televisions, and refrigerators. In 1956, about 60% of Americans owned a home, 71.8% of American households had a television, and 80% of households had a refrigerator. There were 387.58 vehicles per thousand people, and General Motors occupied over 50% of the American vehicle market. Fast food and TV dinners were all the rage, mothers could now buy disposable diapers, and one in three high school graduates was now going to college. Rocking around the clock with Elvis, playing the card game canasta, reading Peyton Place, and watching The Guiding Light and The Price Is Right had also become immensely popular.
- In the November election, Republican Dwight D. Eisenhower was re-elected president of the United States by defeating Democrat Adlai Stevenson. Eisenhower received 457 electoral votes and 35,579,180 popular votes to Stevenson’s 73 electoral votes and 26,028.028 popular votes.
- President Eisenhower signed the National Interstate and Defense Highways Act into law. Archives.gov tells us that “The act authorized the building of highways throughout the nation, which would be the biggest public works project in the nation's history.”
- The deadly Redondo Junction train wreck occurred on the Santa Fe Railroad in Los Angeles, not far from the LA River. The accident killed 30 people and injured 117 more.
- The USS Glacier, a U.S. Navy icebreaker, sighted the largest iceberg ever recorded. “At 208 miles long and 60 miles wide, it was about the size of Belgium!”
- On July 4, the most intense rain in U.S. history (1.23” in one minute) fell in Unionville, Maryland.
- The first completely enclosed shopping mall—the Southdale Shopping Center—opened in Edina, Minnesota. When it opened, the mall had 72 stores and was anchored by two major department stores.
- Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev first used the phrase "We will bury you!" while addressing Western ambassadors at a reception at the Polish embassy in Moscow.
- An electrical fire atop the Eiffel Tower startled both Paris and its tourists.
- A pound of coffee cost 69 cents, a gallon of milk was 97 cents, and six bottles of Rheingold beer were $1.20. Likewise, a movie ticket cost 50 cents, an Oldsmobile “88” holiday sedan was $2,929.29, and a bottle of Coke cost a nickel.
- At the 28th Academy Awards, which honored the best films of 1955, Marty won an Oscar for Best Picture, and Delbert Mann (Marty) won an Oscar for Best Director. Likewise, Ernest Borgnine (Marty) won an Oscar for Best Actor, and Anna Magnani (The Rose Tattoo) won an Oscar for Best Actress.
- At the 8th Emmy Awards, The Phil Silvers Show (CBS) won an Emmy for Best Comedy Series, and Producers’ Showcase (NBC) won an Emmy for Best Dramatic Series. Likewise, The Ed Sullivan Show won an Emmy for Best Variety Show, and The $64,000 Question won an Emmy for Best Audience Participation Series.
- On March 15, the smash musical comedy My Fair Lady opened at the Mark Hellinger Theater in New York for 2,715 performances. “The show proved to be immensely popular with audiences and was praised by critics. It was nominated for ten Tony Awards and won six, including Best Musical, Best Actor in a Musical, and Best Direction.”
- In 1956, the soaps As the World Turns and The Edge of Night both premiered on CBS. Likewise, the game shows To Tell the Truth (CBS) and The Price Is Right (NBC) both debuted on daytime television.
- Veteran NBC anchors Chet Huntley and David Brinkley teamed up for The Huntley–Brinkley Report, an evening news magazine.
- The last performance of the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus under a canvas tent took place at the Heidelberg Raceway in suburban Pittsburgh, PA.
- Here are some sports facts from 1956: The New York Giants were the NFL champions, the Montreal Canadiens won the Stanley Cup, and the New York Yankees were the World Series champs.
- MLB legends Hank Greenberg and Joe Cronin were both inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
- Undefeated world heavyweight boxing champion Rocky Marciano retired from the ring.
- MLB legend Jackie Robinson chose retirement over being traded from the Brooklyn Dodgers to the rival Giants. (By the way, Robinson broke the color barrier in 1947 when he became the first African American to play in the MLB.)
- Cincinnati Reds outfielder Frank Robinson hit his first of 586 HRs. Robinson also became the National League’s “Rookie of the Year.”
- In 1956, Anthony Bourdain, Arsenio Hall, Bill Maher, Bob Saget, Carrie Fisher, Joe Montana, Kenny G, La Toya Jackson, Mel Gibson, and Tom Hanks were all born.
- Consumer products introduced during 1956 include Certs, Cocoa Puffs, Comet cleanser, the Dove bar, Glade air fresheners, Play-Doh, Raid insecticide, Scotchgard stain repellent, Secret deodorant, Wisk laundry detergent, and Yahtzee, a dice game made by Milton Bradley.
- American companies and brands established during 1956 include 84 Lumber, Christopher Ranch, Clayton Homes, FICO, Jersey Mike’s Subs, Marshalls, Midas, Mister Donut, Mister Softee, Payless, Sbarro, and Williams Sonoma.
- At the 29th Scripps National Spelling Bee, 13-year-old Melody Sachko of Pittsburgh, PA correctly spelled the word "condominium."
This article teaches you fun facts, trivia, and history events from the year 1956. Find out about popular TV shows, movies, music, books, foods, sports facts, political and economic news, advances in science and medicine, famous birthdays, and other cool pop culture trends to get the right mix of questions and answers for your 1950s-themed trivia quiz.
Table of Contents
Are you ready for your next 1950s trivia quiz? For easier planning and referencing, I have divided this article into the following categories:
- Grocery Prices in the Year 1956
- History Facts and Events From the USA and World
- Entertainment News
- Sports Facts and Trivia
- Miscellaneous Fun Facts, Trivia, and Pop Culture Trends
- Nobel Prize Winners
- Best-Selling Novels
- 1956 in American Television
- 1956 in American Radio
- Popular Movies
- Horror Films From the Year 1956
- Animated Films Released in 1956
- Biggest Pop Music Artists
- Top 30 Songs for the Year
- Food and Beverage Trivia
- Famous Birthdays
- Notable Weddings
- Famous People Who Died
- America's Largest Companies in 1956
- U.S. Automobile Production Figures for the Year
- American Companies and Brands Established During 1956
1. Grocery Prices in the Year 1956
These 1956 grocery prices have been made available courtesy of the Morris County Public Library in Whippany, NJ.
- Apples (McIntosh): Three pounds for 29 cents
- Baby food (Gerber): Five jars for 49 cents
- Bacon (Lancaster brand): 27 cents for an eight-ounce package
- Bananas: Two pounds for 25 cents
- Beef (rib roast): 59 cents a pound
- Beef stew (Dinty Moore): Two 23-ounce cans for 39 cents
- Bread (Supreme): 22 cents for a 20-ounce loaf
- Cake flour (Pillsbury): 33 cents for a 2.75-pound box
- Canned pears (Del Monte): 39 cents for a 29-ounce can
- Cauliflower: 25 cents for a large head
- Cereal (Kellogg’s corn flakes): 15 cents a box
- Cheese (Kraft, Velveeta): 49 cents for a 16-ounce package
- Chocolate chip morsels (Nestlé): 19 cents for a six-ounce package
- Chocolate syrup (Hershey’s): 19 cents for a six-ounce can
- Coffee, (Maxwell House, instant): 49 cents for a two-ounce jar
- Cookies (Keebler, coconut): 49 cents for a one-pound package
- Crackers (Nabisco, premium saltines): 23 cents for a sixteen-ounce package
- Crisco: 32 cents for a one-pound tin
- Eggs: 79 cents a dozen
- Ham (smoked): 29 cents a pound
- Juice (Minute Maid): 29 cents for six two-ounce cans
- Ketchup (Del Monte): 19 cents for a 14-ounce bottle
- Lettuce (iceberg): 25 cents for two large heads
- Macaroni (Mueller’s): 57 cents for a two-pound package
- Margarine (Parkay): 19 cents for a one-pound package
- Milk: 97 cents a gallon
- Miracle Whip: 55 cents for a quart jar
- Pepper (ground, Ideal brand): 10 cents for a 1.5-ounce jar
- Pork and beans (Ideal brand): 10 cents for a one-pound can
- Potatoes: 59 cents for a 25-pound bag
- Salt (Sterling brand, iodized): 10 cents for a 26-ounce box
- TV dinner (Swanson): 73 cents for an 11-ounce package
- Tangerines: 19 cents a dozen
- Tea (Tetley): 49 cents for a 48-count box
- Tomatoes: 10 cents for a one-pound can
2. History Facts and Events From the USA and World
- In 1956, Dwight D. Eisenhower was president of the United States, and Richard M. Nixon was the vice-president.
- Sam Rayburn (D-Texas) was the Speaker of the House, and Lyndon Johnson (D-Texas) was the Senate Majority Leader.
- The 84th Congress was in session, and there were 232 Democrats and 203 Republicans. History.House.gov tells us that "Democrats regained control of both houses of the 84th Congress (1955–1957), but support for Republican President Dwight Eisenhower remained strong. Amid another Cold War crisis, Congress provided the President with unlimited authority to keep communist China out of Taiwan. At home, Democrats focused on public-works projects including a national interstate highway system and an extensive dam project along the Upper Colorado River. Congress also increased Social Security benefits."
- The U.S. population was 168,903,031.
- The homicide rate was 4.6 per 100,000 people.
- On January 3, an electrical fire atop the Eiffel Tower startled both Paris and its tourists. WalkingTime.Weebly.com reports that “The fire broke out at 7:21 PM in an area off limits to tourists. It started as a wisp of white and gray smoke, but it quickly spread until the dancing orange and yellow flames could be seen from the ground below. About 2,000 to 3,000 visitors were evacuated down the 1,070-foot tower's winding stairs. Approximately 125 firefighters and 20 fire trucks responded to the blaze.”
- On January 22, the deadly Redondo Junction train wreck occurred on the Santa Fe Railroad in Los Angeles, not far from the LA River. The accident killed 30 people and injured 117 more.
- On January 26, MLB legends Hank Greenberg and Joe Cronin were both inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
- On February 6, the Daily Defender, an African-American newspaper, began publishing in Chicago.
- On February 14, President Eisenhower’s doctors acknowledged that the president was well enough to seek another term at the White House.
- On February 23, Norma Jean Mortenson legally changed her name to Marilyn Monroe.
- On February 29, President Eisenhower announced that he would seek a second term.
- On February 29, the Cleveland Indians baseball franchise was sold for nearly four million dollars. Hank Greenberg—the team’s general manager and a former player—was part of the new ownership group.
- On March 3, the New York Dodgers and Giants were both planning to leave the city “that had given them sustenance for half a century.” However, Manhattan Borough President Hulan Jack suggested “that a domed stadium be built on stilts over rail yards on the West Side of Manhattan, a place where both teams could play.”
- On March 12, the Dow closed above 500 for the first time.
- On March 12, 96 members of Congress signed the Southern Manifesto, “a protest against the 1954 Supreme Court ruling (Brown v. Board of Education) desegregating public education.”
- On March 26, the nonprofit Medic Alert Foundation was established.
- On April 16, Antti Viskari of Finland won the Boston Marathon.
- On April 26, the first modern container ship—the Ideal X—left Port Newark, New Jersey for Houston, Texas.
- On April 27, undefeated world heavyweight boxing champion Rocky Marciano retired from the ring.
- On April 28, Cincinnati Reds outfielder Frank Robinson hit his first of 586 home runs.
- On May 2, at its General Conference, the Methodist Church decided “to grant women full ordained clergy status. It also calls for an end to racial segregation in the denomination.”
- On May 22, NBC introduced its famous Peacock logo, possibly as an incentive for people to buy color televisions.
- On May 28, President Eisenhower signed a bill that allowed the government to store agricultural surplus.
- On May 30, a bus boycott began in Tallahassee, Florida. What started the boycott? ZinneProject.org tells us that on May 26, “Wilhelmina Jakes and Carrie Patterson, both students from Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU), sat down in the whites-only section of a segregated bus in Tallahassee. When they refused to move, the bus driver pulled into a local service station and called the police.”
- On May 30, Pat Flaherty won the Indianapolis 500.
- On June 8, General Electric introduced “the Snooze Alarm,” the first snooze alarm clock.
- On July 25, “the Italian ocean liner SS Andrea Doria sank after colliding with the Swedish ship MS Stockholm in heavy fog, killing 51 people.”
- On June 29, President Eisenhower signed the National Interstate and Defense Highways Act into law. Archives.gov tells us that “The act authorized the building of highways throughout the nation, which would be the biggest public works project in the nation's history.”
- On July 4, the most intense rain in U.S. history (1.23” in one minute) fell in Unionville, Maryland.
- On July 16, radio executives John Fetzer and Fred Knorr bought the Detroit Tigers & Briggs Stadium for $5.5 million.
- On July 28, Roger Walkowiak of France won the 43rd Tour de France.
- On July 29, the McKee refinery fire in Texas killed 19.
- On July 30, President Eisenhower signed a Joint Resolution authorizing "In God We Trust" to become the U.S. national motto.
- On August 6, after going bankrupt in 1955, the DuMont television network aired its final broadcast—a boxing match from St. Nicholas Arena.
- On August 16, Adlai Stevenson became the U.S. Democratic presidential candidate.
- On August 22, at the Republican National Convention in San Francisco, President Dwight D. Eisenhower and Vice-President Richard M. Nixon were both renominated as the party’s candidates for the 1956 presidential election.
- On September 14, IBM introduced the RAMAC 305, “the first commercial computer with a hard drive that used magnetic disk storage.”
- On September 18, Mickey Mantle became the 8th MLB player to hit 50 HRs in a season.
- On September 19, the first international conference of black writers and artists took place at the Sorbonne in Paris.
- On October 6, Albert Sabin, a medical researcher and scientist, announced that his polio vaccine was ready for testing, and “that it would soon supplant Jonas Salk's vaccine in many parts of the world.”
- On October 31, Brooklyn, New York ended its street car service.
- On November 2, Hungary appealed to the UN for assistance against an invasion by the Soviet Union.
- On November 4, 200,000 Russian troops attacked the anti-Soviet movement in Budapest, Hungary.
- On November 6, Republican Dwight D. Eisenhower was re-elected president of the United States by defeating Democrat Adlai Stevenson. Eisenhower received 457 electoral votes and 35,579,180 popular votes to Stevenson’s 73 electoral votes and 26,028.028 popular votes.
- On November 8, the United Nations demanded that the USSR leave Hungary.
- On November 18, Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev first used the phrase "We will bury you!" while addressing Western ambassadors at a reception at the Polish embassy in Moscow.
- On November 30, African-American boxer Floyd Patterson won the world heavyweight championship that was left vacant after Rocky Marciano’s retirement.
- On December 1, Frank Robinson (NL) and Luis Aparicio (AL) became MLB’s Rookies of the Year.
- On December 13, MLB legend Jackie Robinson chose retirement over being traded from the Brooklyn Dodgers to the rival Giants. (By the way, Robinson broke the color barrier in 1947 when he became the first African American to play in the MLB.)
3. Entertainment News
- On January 10, Elvis Presley recorded his single Heartbreak Hotel.
- On January 14, singer and songwriter Little Richard released his single Tutti Frutti.
- On January 20, singer and songwriter Buddy Holly recorded his single Blue Days Black Night in Nashville.
- On January 27, Elvis Presley released his single Heartbreak Hotel, which later became his first million-selling single.
- On January 28, Elvis Presley made his first appearance on American television via The Dorsey Brothers Stage Show.
- On February 2, the Coasters signed with Atlantic Records.
- On February 10, the western TV series, My Friend Flicka, premiered on CBS.
- On March 15, the musical My Fair Lady opened at the Mark Hellinger Theater in New York for 2,715 performances. ThePeopleHistory.com tells us that “The musical, created by Lerner and Loewe, was based off of George Bernard Shaw's 1913 play Pygmalion, and starred Rex Harrison and Julie Andrews in the lead roles of Henry Higgins and Eliza Doolittle. The show proved to be immensely popular with audiences and was praised by critics. It was nominated for ten Tony Awards and won six, including Best Musical, Best Actor in a Musical, and Best Direction.”
- On March 17, at the 8th Emmy Awards, The Phil Silvers Show (CBS) won an Emmy for Best Comedy Series, and Producers’ Showcase (NBC) won an Emmy for Best Dramatic Series. Likewise, The Ed Sullivan Show won an Emmy for Best Variety Show, and The $64,000 Question won an Emmy for Best Audience Participation Series.
- On March 21, at the 28th Academy Awards, which honored the best films of 1955, Marty won an Oscar for Best Picture, and Delbert Mann (Marty) won an Oscar for Best Director. Likewise, Ernest Borgnine (Marty) won an Oscar for Best Actor, and Anna Magnani (The Rose Tattoo) won an Oscar for Best Actress.
- On April 2, the soaps As the World Turns and The Edge of Night both premiered on CBS.
- On April 21, Elvis Presley’s single Heartbreak Hotel became #1 on the charts.
- On May 10, at the 9th Cannes Film Festival, The Silent World—directed by Jacques Cousteau and Louis Malle—won the Palme d'Or.
- On May 22, the final broadcast of The Bob Hope Show aired on NBC.
- On June 5, the final installment of The Milton Berle Show was broadcast on NBC.
- On June 24, The Steve Allen Show returned to NBC.
- On July 1, Elvis Presley, wearing a tuxedo, appeared on The Steve Allen Show.
- On July 9, Dick Clark made his first appearance as the host of American Bandstand.
- On July 16, the last performance of the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus under a canvas tent took place at the Heidelberg Raceway in suburban Pittsburgh, marking the end of an era in entertainment. Soonafter, the show began performing in large, air-conditioned arenas.
- On July 17, MGM released the film High Society, a musical re-working of the romantic comedy The Philadelphia Story. It starred Bing Crosby, Grace Kelly, and Frank Sinatra, with songs by Cole Porter.
- On September 9, Elvis Presley appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show for the first time.
- On September 28, RCA Records announced that Elvis Presley had sold over 10 million records.
- On October 5, The Ten Commandments, a film directed by Cecil B. DeMille and starring Charlton Heston and Yul Brynner, opened in the U.S.
- On October 10, Giant, a film directed by George Stevens and starring Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson, and James Dean, premiered in NYC.
- On October 17, Around the World in 80 Days, a film directed by Michael Anderson and starring David Nivon and Cantinflas, premiered in New York.
- On October 29, NBC anchors Chet Huntley and David Brinkley teamed up for The Huntley–Brinkley Report, an evening news magazine.
- On November 3, The Wizard of Oz first aired on CBS.
- On November 5, The Nat King Cole Show debuted on NBC, and became the first variety program to be hosted by an African American.
- On November 24, The Pajama Game, a musical by George Abbot and Richard Pike Bissel, closed at the St. James Theater in NYC after 1,063 performances.
- On November 26, the game show The Price Is Right premiered on NBC.
- On December 7, singer Helen O'Donnell joined The Today Show team.
- On December 10, Guy Mitchell's single Singing the Blues went #1 on the charts for 10 weeks.
- On December 16, the musical Fanny closed at the Majestic Theater in NYC after 888 performances.
- On December 18, the game show To Tell the Truth premiered on CBS.
- On December 28, the last Ding Dong School, billed as “the nursery school of the air,” was broadcast on NBC.
4. Sports Facts and Trivia
Generally suitable for all age groups, sports questions are a welcome addition to any trivia quiz.
- Kentucky Derby: Needles
- NBA Champions: Philadelphia Warriors
- NCAA Basketball: San Francisco
- NCAA Football Champs: Oklahoma
- NFL Champions: New York Giants
- Orange Bowl: Oklahoma over Maryland
- Rose Bowl: Michigan State over UCLA
- Stanley Cup Champs: Montreal Canadiens
- Sugar Bowl: Georgia Tech over Pittsburgh
- U.S. Open Golf: Cary Middlecoff
- U.S. Open Tennis (men/women): Ken Rosewall/Shirley J. Fry
- Wimbledon (men/women): Lew Hoad/Shirley Fry
- World Series Champions: New York Yankees
5. Miscellaneous Fun Facts, Trivia, and Pop Culture Trends
- In 1956, the most popular male baby names were Michael, James, Robert, David, John, William, Richard, Mark, Thomas, and Steven. Today, the most popular names are Liam, Noah, Oliver, Elijah, William, James, Benjamin, Lucas, Henry, and Alexander.
- In 1956, the most popular baby names for girls were Mary, Debra, Linda, Deborah, Susan, Patricia, Karen, Cynthia, Barbara, and Donna. Today, the most popular names are Olivia, Emma, Amelia, Ava, Sophia, Charlotte, Isabella, Mia, Luna, and Harper.
- The average life expectancy at birth in the U.S. was 74.3 years.
- The most popular holiday gifts included Tonka trucks, Play-Doh, and the dice game Yahtzee.
- Fashion icons in 1956 were Brigitte Bardot, Doris Day, Ava Gardner, Grace Kelly, Sophia Loren, Jayne Mansfield, Marilyn Monroe, Julie Newmar, Kim Novak, Elizabeth Taylor, Lana Turner, Tuesday Weld, and Jane Wyatt.
- Sharon Ritchie (Denver) was crowned Miss America.
- Carol Morris (Iowa) became Miss USA.
- Time magazine’s “Person of the Year” was the Hungarian freedom fighter.
- Bon Appétit began publishing.
- The first completely enclosed shopping mall—the Southdale Shopping Center—opened in Edina, Minnesota.
- Del Monte introduced its pineapple grapefruit drink.
- According to FoodReference.com, “The U.S. Navy icebreaker, USS Glacier, sighted the largest iceberg ever recorded. At 208 miles long and 60 miles wide, it was about the size of Belgium! The iceberg had apparently broken from the Ross Ice Shelf in the Antarctic.”
- In 1956, 80% of U.S. households had a refrigerator, but only 8% of UK households had one.
- Budweiser introduced Busch beer.
- When Elvis Presley appeared on The Ed Sullivan Sullivan Show on September 9, 82.6% of American households were watching.
- On April 19, actress Grace Kelly married Prince Rainier III of Monaco.
- On June 29, actress and sex symbol Marilyn Monroe married playwright Arthur Miller.
- There were 2,790 AM radio stations, 540 FM radio stations, and 442 television stations.
- Great Britain abolished the death penalty.
- A pound of coffee cost 69 cents, a gallon of milk was 97 cents, and six bottles of Rheingold beer were $1.20.
- The price for a movie ticket was 50 cents, and a bottle of Coke cost a nickel.
- A McDonald’s cheeseburger was 19 cents, and French fries were 10 cents.
- A Jeep Dispatcher cost $1,367.48, and an Oldsmobile “88” holiday sedan was $2,929.29.
- Hockey sticks were 79 cents apiece, and men’s ice skates were $11.00 a pair.
- A black and white TV cost about $99.95.
- What about college tuition? LittleThings.com tells us that “the tuition for private universities like Harvard and Radcliffe rose from $800 to $1,000 for a full year, including dorm and food. State schools like the University of Wisconsin were $675 per year for out-of-state students and a mere $225 for students already residing in the state.”
- Average income per year: $4,450
- Average cost of a new house: $11,700
- Average monthly rent: $88.00
- Average cost of a new car: $2,050
- Average cost of a gallon of gas: 22 cents
- A first-class postage stamp cost three cents.
- The minimum wage was $1.00.
- Unemployment averaged 4.2%, and inflation was 1.52%.
- The price of gold averaged $35.20 per troy ounce.
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 1956 has been made available courtesy of NobelPrize.com.
- Chemistry: Nikolay Semyonov and Cyril Norman Hinshelwood
- Literature: Juan Ramón Jiménez
- Physics: William Shockley, Walter Brattain, and John Bardeen
- Physiology or medicine: Dickinson W. Richards, André Frédéric Cournand, and Werner Forssmann
7. Best-Selling Novels
This book trivia from 1956 has been made available courtesy of PublishersWeekly.com.
1. Don't Go Near the Water by William Brinkley
2. The Last Hurrah by Edwin O'Connor
3. Peyton Place by Grace Metalious
4. Auntie Mame by Patrick Dennis
5. Eloise by Kay Thompson
6. Andersonville by MacKinlay Kantor
7. A Certain Smile by Françoise Sagan
8. The Tribe That Lost Its Head by Nicholas Monsarrat
9. The Mandarins by Simone de Beauvoir
10. Boon Island by Kenneth Roberts
1. Arthritis and Common Sense (revised) by Dan Dale Alexander
2. Webster's New World Dictionary of the American Language (concise) by David B. Guralnik
3. Betty Crocker's Picture Cook Book, 2d edition by the Betty Crocker Editors
4. Etiquette by Frances Benton
5. Better Homes and Gardens Barbecue Book by the BH&G Editors
6. The Search for Bridey Murphy by Morey Bernstein
7. Love or Perish by Smiley Blanton
8. Better Homes and Gardens Decorating Book by the BH&G Editors
9. How To Live 365 Days a Year by John A. Schindler
10. The Nun's Story by Kathryn Hulme
8. 1956 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 were the most popular television shows for the 1956-57 season:
1. I Love Lucy (CBS)
2. The Ed Sullivan Show (CBS)
3. General Electric Theater (CBS)
4. The $64,000 Question (CBS)
5. December Bride (CBS)
6. Alfred Hitchcock Presents (CBS)
7. I've Got A Secret (CBS)
8. Gunsmoke (CBS)
9. The Perry Como Show (NBC)
10. The Jack Benny Show (CBS)
Here were the most popular soaps for the 1956-57 TV season:
1. The Guiding Light
2. Search for Tomorrow
3. The Secret Storm
4. The Edge of Night (debuted on April 2, 1956)
5. The Brighter Day
6. Love of Life
7. Modern Romances
8. As the World Turns (debuted on April 2, 1956)
9. Valiant Lady
9. 1956 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 were some of the most popular radio programs in 1956:
- Amos ‘n’ Andy
- Bing Crosby
- Fibber McGee & Molly
- Have Gun, Will Travel
- Lone Ranger
- Mr. Keen, Tracer of Lost Persons
- Sherlock Holmes
- Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar
10. Popular Movies
This movie trivia from 1956 has been made available courtesy of IMDB.
- The Ten Commandments
- Around the World in 80 Days
- The King and I
- War and Peace
- The Man Who Knew Too Much
- The Man in the Grey Flannel Suit
- Moby Dick
- Love Me Tender
11. Horror Films From the Year 1956
This film trivia has been made available courtesy of IMDB.com.
- Invasion of the Body Snatchers
- The Bad Seed
- Godzilla: King of the Monsters!
- The Hunchback of Notre Dame
- Earth vs. the Flying Saucers
- X the Unknown
- The Werewolf
- The Creature Walks Among Us
- The Black Sleep
12. Animated Films Released in 1956
- A Cowboy Needs a Horse (Walt Disney)
- A Short Vision (Joan and Peter Foldes)
- A Star Is Bored (Warner Bros.)
- After the Ball (Woody Woodpecker series)
- Barbary Coast Bunny (Warner Bros.)
- Barbecue Brawl (Tom and Jerry series)
- Broom-Stick Bunny (Warner Bros.)
- Bugs' Bonnets (Warner Bros.)
- Calling All Cuckoos (Woody Woodpecker series)
- Chief Charlie Horse (Woody Woodpecker series)
- Chips Ahoy (Walt Disney)
- Deduce, You Say! (Warner Bros.)
- Down Beat Bear (Tom and Jerry series)
- Gee Whiz-z-z-z-z-z-z (Warner Bros.)
- Get Lost (Woody Woodpecker series)
- Half-Fare Hare (Warner Bros.)
- Hooked Bear (Humphrey the Bear series)
- How to Have an Accident in the Home (Walt Disney)
- In the Bag (Walt Disney)
- Magoo's Puddle Jumper (UPA for Columbia Pictures)
- Rabbitson Crusoe (Warner Bros.)
- Raw! Raw! Rooster! (Warner Bros.)
- Rocket Squad (Warner Bros.)
- Rocket-Bye Baby (Warner Bros.)
- Stupor Duck (Warner Bros.)
- The Egg and Jerry (Tom and Jerry series)
- The Flying Sorceress (Tom and Jerry series)
- The High and the Flighty (Warner Bros.)
- There They Go-Go-Go! (Warner Bros.)
- To Hare Is Human (Warner Bros.)
- Tree Cornered Tweety (Warner Bros.)
- Tweet and Sour (Warner Bros.)
- Woodpecker from Mars (Woody Woodpecker series)
13. Biggest Pop Music Artists
Popular music artists from the year 1956 include the following:
- Chuck Berry
- Dean Martin
- Eddie Fisher
- Elvis Presley
- Fats Domino
- The Four Aces
- Frank Sinatra
- Gale Storm
- Joe Turner
- Lawrence Welk
- Little Richard
- The McGuire Sisters
- Nat King Cole
- Nelson Riddle
- Pat Boone
- Patti Page
- Perry Como
- The Platters
- Ray Charles
14. Top 30 Songs for the Year
This music trivia has been made available courtesy of Music-Outfitters.com.
1. Heartbreak Hotel: Elvis Presley
2. Don't Be Cruel: Elvis Presley
3. Lisbon Antigua: Nelson Riddle
4. My Prayer: The Platters
5. The Wayward Wind: Gogi Grant
6. The Poor People of Paris: Les Baxter
7. Que Sera, Sera (Whatever Will Be, Will Be): Doris Day
8. Hound Dog: Elvis Presley
9. Memories Are Made of This: Dean Martin
10. Rock And Roll Waltz: Kay Starr
11. Moonglow And Theme From Picnic: Morris Stoloff
12. The Great Pretender: The Platters
13. I Almost Lost My Mind: Pat Boone
14. I Want You, I Need You, I Love You: Elvis Presley
15. All Shook Up: Elvis Presley
16. Hot Diggity (Dog Ziggity Boom): Perry Como
17. Canadian Sunset: Eddie Heywood & Hugo Winterhalter
18. Blue Suede Shoes: Carl Perkins
19. The Green Door: Jim Lowe
20. No Not Much: The Four Lads
21. Honky Tonk: Bill Doggett
22. Sixteen Tons: Tennessee Ernie Ford
23. Just Walking In the Rain: Johnnie Ray
24. Allegheny Moon: Patti Page
25. I'm In Love Again: Fats Domino
26. Tonight You Belong to Me: Patience & Prudence
27. Be-Bop-A-Lula: Gene Vincent
28. Why Do Fools Fall In Love: Frankie Lymon & The Teenagers
29. Standing On the Corner: The Four Lads
30. The Flying Saucer: Buchanan & Goodman
15. 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 GoodHousekeeping.com, here are some foods and beverages that were popular in 1956:
- Apple pie
- Baked Alaska
- Baked beans
- Baked ham
- Beef Bourguignon
- Beef Stroganoff
- Braised pork chops
- Champagne punch
- Chicken a la king
- Chicken Tetrazzini: TheDailyMeal 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.”
- Chiffon cake
- Chili con carne
- Coca-Cola, Pepsi, and Royal Crown (RC) Cola
- Creamed chipped beef on toast
- Deviled ham
- Dinty Moore beef stew
- Egg salad
- Fruit cocktail cake
- Gelatin molds
- Green bean casseroles
- Hamburgers and French fries
- Jell-O salads
- Pineapple upside down cake
- Relish trays
- Shrimp cocktail
- Snowballs: TheDailyMeal.com describes this dessert as “a scoop of vanilla ice cream rolled in shredded coconut and usually drizzled with chocolate sauce.”
- Stuffed celery
- Swanson pot pies (chicken, beef, and turkey)
- Swanson TV dinners
- Swedish meatballs
- Tuna noodle casseroles
- Tunnel of fudge cake
- V-8 vegetable juice
- Wacky cake
16. Famous Birthdays
Here are some of the famous people who were born in 1956:
- Anthony Bourdain: Chef
- Arsenio Hall: TV show host
- Bill Maher: TV show host
- Bob Saget: Movie actor
- Bryan Cranston: TV actor
- Carrie Fisher: Movie actress
- David Copperfield: Magician
- Dwight Yoakam: Country singer
- Geena Davis: Movie actress
- Imelda Staunton: Movie actress
- Jeremy Wade: TV show host
- Joe Montana: Football player
- John Lydon: Rock singer
- John Posey: Movie actor
- Kenny G: Saxophonist
- La Toya Jackson: R&B singer
- Larry Bird: Basketball player
- Linda Hamilton: Movie actress
- Mae Jemison: Astronaut
- Mel Gibson: Movie actor
- Nathan Lane: Stage actor
- Randy Jackson: TV show host
- Rita Wilson: Movie actress
- Theresa May: Politician
- Tom Hanks: Movie actor
17. Notable Weddings
This marriage trivia has been made available courtesy of OnThisDay.com.
- On January 1, actor Gene Hackman married Fay Maltese.
- On January 28, science student and future astronaut Neil Armstrong married fellow student Janet Elizabeth Shearon.
- On February 14, MLB center fielder Willie Mays married Margherite Wendell Chapman.
- On April 14, actress Vera Miles married actor Gordon Scott.
- On April 18, actress Grace Kelly married Prince Rainier III of Monaco in a civil ceremony in Monaco.
- On April 23, novelist C. S. Lewis married poet Joy Davidman.
- On May 12, New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner married Elizabeth Joan Zieg.
- On June 29, actress and sex symbol Marilyn Monroe married playwright Arthur Miller.
- On August 12, Canadian actor William Shatner married Gloria Rand.
- On August 19, actor Christopher Plummer married actress Tammy Grimes.
- On August 21, boxing champion Archie Moore married model Joan Hardy.
- On August 27, socialite Gloria Vanderbilt married director Sidney Lumet.
- On September 14, British playwright Harold Pinter married actress Vivien Merchant.
- On September 28, Russian President Boris Yeltsin married Naina Girina.
- On October 13, MLB player Roger Maris married his high school sweetheart Pat Carvell.
- On December 9, NBA player Bill Russell married his college sweetheart Rose Swisher.
- On December 28, actress Elizabeth Montgomery married actor Gig Young.
18. Famous People Who Died
This information has been made available courtesy of TheFamousPeople.com.
- A. A. Milne: Novelist, playright, and poet
- Al Simmons: Baseball player
- Alex Raymond: Screenwriter
- Alfredo Ferrari: Engineer
- Art Tatum: Pianist and jazz musician
- Charles MacArthur: Playwright
- Clarence Birdseye: Engineer and inventor
- Clifford brown: Musician
- Connie Mack: Baseball player
- Fred Allen: Comedian
- Frieda Lawrence: Writer
- Jackson Pollock: Painter
- Lewis Terman: Psychologist and university teacher
- Louis Bromfield: Author
- Max Beerbohm: Essayist
- Mistinguett: Actress
- Preston Tucker: Engineer and automotive designer
- Robert Newton: Actor
- Robert Walser: Writer
- Sam Langford: Boxer
- Thomas J. Watson: Entrepreneur
- Tommy Dorsey: Trombonist
- Tommy Johnson: Musician
- Walter de la Mare: Poet
- William Boeing: Founder of the Boeing Company
19. America's Largest Companies in 1956
247WallSt.com tells us that "Today’s corporate America is dominated by service companies, tech firms, and huge retailers which have thousands of locations and hundreds of thousands of workers. At the end of the decade following WWII, corporate America looked very different from it does now. Fifty five years ago, most of the largest corporations in the US built cars, supplied car parts, or provided fuel for America’s vehicles."
Here were America’s biggest companies in 1956:
- General Motors
- Exxon Mobil
- Ford Motor
- U.S. Steel
- General Electric
- Bethlehem Steel
Comparatively, let’s look at America’s 10 biggest companies for 2021:
- UnitedHealth Group
- Berkshire Hathaway
- Exxon Mobil
20. U.S. Automobile Production Figures for the Year
Here are the U.S. automobile production figures for 1956:
- Chevrolet: 1,567,117
- Ford: 1,408,478
- Buick: 572,024
- Plymouth: 571,634
- Oldsmobile: 485,458
- Pontiac: 405,730
- Mercury: 327,943
- Dodge: 240,686
- Cadillac: 154,577
- Chrysler: 128,322
- DeSoto: 109,442
- Nash: 83,420
- Studebaker: 69,593
- Lincoln: 50,322
- Hudson: 22,588
- Clipper: 18,482
- Imperial: 10,684
- Packard: 10,353
- Metropolitan: 9,068
- Continental: 2,550
21. American Companies and Brands Established During 1956
- 84 Lumber is a building materials supply company that was founded by Joseph Hardy in the village of Eighty Four, Pennsylvania. Today, 84 Lumber owns and operates over 250 stores in 30 states, and has more than 5,600 employees. It is also the largest privately held supplier of building materials in the construction industry.
- Christopher Ranch is a garlic supplier based in Gilroy, California.
- Clayton Homes, now owned by Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway, “is the largest builder of manufactured housing and modular homes in the United States.”
- Disney Music Group is “the music recording arm of Disney Platform Distribution, a division of The Walt Disney Company. It is located at the studio's headquarters in Burbank, California.”
- FICO is a credit-scoring service that is based in San Jose, CA. MyFico.com tells us that “A FICO Score is a three-digit number based on the information in your credit reports. It helps lenders determine how likely you are to repay a loan.”
- Founded in Austin, Texas, Glastron is a boat manufacturing company that was one of the first manufacturers of fiberglass boats.
- Jersey Mike’s Subs is a chain of hoagie shops located in Manasquan, New Jersey.
- Marshalls is a chain of over 1,000 off-price department stores with locations in 42 states and Puerto Rico.
- Midas is a chain of automotive service centers that is headquartered in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.
- Mister Donut is a fast food franchise specializing in doughnuts, coffee, muffins, and pastries.
- Mister Softee is an ice cream truck franchise that is best known in the northeastern part of the United States.
- Payless was a discount footwear chain founded by cousins Louis and Shaol Pozez.
- Quill Corporation is an office supply retailer located in Lincolnshire, Illinois.
- Sbarro is a pizzeria chain that specializes in New York-style pizza that is sold by the slice.
- Tori Richard is a Honolulu-based company that produces men’s and women’s resort wear.
- Walt Disney Records is “an American record label of the Disney Music Group. The label releases soundtrack albums from Disney's motion picture studios, television series, theme parks, and traditional studio albums produced by its roster of pop, teen pop, and country artists.”
- Williams Sonoma is an American retailer of cookware, appliances, and home furnishings.
- 20 Most Iconic Foods Kids from the '50s and '60s Grew Up With - '50s and '
Whether you hated them (or you still secretly crave them!), here’s the iconic foods kids from the '50s and '60s remember.
- 1950s Food: Our Guide to Iconic American Eats | Taste of Home
Who's ready for a throwback? We break down the popular 1950s food trends for breakfast, lunch, dinner and more.
Top 100 songs for the year 1956 from the Billboard Year-End Hot 100 charts.
- Historical Events in 1956 - On This Day
Historical events from year 1956. Learn about 618 famous, scandalous and important events that happened in 1956 or search by date or keyword.
- What Happened in 1956 - Significant Events, Prices, 65 years ago Top Movies, TV and Music
1956 News Events include Suez Crisis, Rock and Roll Dance Craze, Federal-Aid Highway Act, Prices including Wages, Houses and Gas, Toys, Fashions and Furniture, ...
- Famous People Who Died in 1956
Discover the most famous people who died in 1956. The list includes people like B. R. Ambedkar, A. A. Milne, Jackson Pollock, Bela Lugosi, Bertolt Brecht and many more.
- Food Timeline: 1956 to 1960 - Food History Events
1956 - 1960 Food Timeline - Events in the History of Food and the Culinary Arts, Inventions, Creations, Restaurants, Births, Deaths
- The Numbers - Top-Grossing Movies of 1956
Top-Grossing Movies of 1956
- 10 Best Horror Films of 1956 - IMDb
10 Best Horror Films of 1956
- Remembering 1956 | Old Time Radio
By the mid-1950s the standard of living was increasing and rock n roll grew in popularity, UnAmerican Activities Committee searched the entertainment industry for Communist Sympathizers.
- FORTUNE 500: 1956 Archive Full List 1-100
- Born in 1956 | Famous Birthdays
Famous people born in 1956 including Tom Hanks, Bob Saget, Carrie Fisher, Larry Bird, Theresa May and many more.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2021 Gregory DeVictor
Gregory DeVictor (author) from Pittsburgh, PA on September 22, 2021:
Audrey, thank you for the comment.
Audrey Hunt from Pahrump NV on September 21, 2021:
I always enjoy your facts and trivia!
Gregory DeVictor (author) from Pittsburgh, PA on September 21, 2021:
Thank you for the comment.
Umesh Chandra Bhatt from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India on September 21, 2021:
Gregory DeVictor (author) from Pittsburgh, PA on September 21, 2021:
Liz, thank you for the comment.
Liz Westwood from UK on September 21, 2021:
You have created yet another fascinating fact file. It's a little before my time, so I have learnt a lot from reading it.