History and Popular Culture in 1958
The year we began high school.

Our Heartthrobs

·        Politics and social movements
    • Our elected leaders – Dwight D. Eisenhower continues as thirty-fourth President of the United States, Richard Nixon is Vice President, W. Averill Harriman is governor and Robert Wagner is our mayor.
    • Elections – There is a landslide; Democrats take control of both houses of Congress, but in NY State, Republic candidate Nelson Rockefeller defeats Averill Harriman.
    • Communist threat – There is a growing fear that the Russia and Chinese communist regimes are rapidly gaining strength. Russia threatens to block access to Berlin if the US doesn't abandon it. Chinese Leader Mao Zedong launches the “Great Leap Forward”.
    • Civil Rights – The conflict between integration and segregation keeps 16,600 students out of school. Governor Orval Faubus closes all high schools in Little Rock, AZ in a protest against integration. Massive resistance spreads through the South.
    • World Leaders – Charles de Gaulle becomes premier of France, a position he will hold until 1969. Jawahar Nehru is India’s Prime Minister. Harold Macmillan is the United Kingdom’s Prime Minister. Khrushchev leads the USSR. David Ben-Gurion is Prime Minister of Israel and Abdul Nasser is President of Egypt.
    • The Middle East – U.S. Marines are sent to Lebanon to quiet the civil turmoil. The Republic of Iraq was established in 1958 following a coup d’état.
    • Protests – 9,000 scientists from 43 nations petition the UN for a nuclear test ban. Vice President Richard Nixon is shoved, stoned, booed & spat upon by protesters in Peru as he makes a goodwill tour of Latin America. The John Birch Society, a radical anti-Communist organization, is created.
    • Africa – Nelson Mandela weds Winnie Madikizela. The independence movement among former colonies gains momentum.
    • Military – The Air Force Academy opens in Colorado Springs, CO. The all- male facility won't become co-ed unto 1976.
·        The economy
    • Gross National Product – 468.3 billion dollars
    • Recession – Worst recession since World War II. Nearly 5.5 million people are out of work, unemployment hits 7.5% in July. In April manufacturing was down 14% from the previous year; by year-end manufacturing had recovered 75% of the loss.
    • Wages and prices – Average income – $4,650, Average home – $30,000, average monthly rent – $92, a Ford car – $1,967-$3929, gas – 24¢/gal., bread – 19¢, a postage stamp – 4¢ (from 3¢, where it had been for 26 years), Milk – 42¢ half gal, Tuition at Harvard – $1,250 yr. And, most important of all, a Nathan's Hot Dog – 25¢. Inflation is at 2.73%.
    • Imports – American imports 430,808 passenger cars. Datsun begins shipping its Model 211to the U.S.; only 52 are sold.
    • Commerce – 400 million frozen pot pies are sold in the U.S., the Boeing B707, America’s first commercial jet airliner, is delivered.
    • Credit – Modern consumer credit is born. The American Express Company introduces a charge card meant to compete with the successful Diners Club card. Bank of America introduces the BankAmericard, which will become Visa. Prime commercial paper (4 to 6 months) was 2.46%. In NYC, a commercial loan ran 4.12%.
    • Europe – The European Common Market is established.
    • Travel – 31.3% of all domestic non-automobile passenger travel was by railroad; 27.7% by bus; and 38% by air. The first domestic jet-airline passenger service is begun by National Airlines between New York City and Miami. This year, there are 37,000 motor vehicle related deaths. There were 8 airliner accidents resulting in 125 fatalities.
    • Advertising – 30.6% of all advertising dollars are spent on newspapers, 13.3% on TV.
·        Arts and entertainment
    • Music – Top Ten:  1. Johnny B. Goode, Chuck Berry; 2. Summertime Blues,  Eddie Cochran; 3. Good Golly Miss Molly, Little Richard; 4. For Your Precious Love, Jerry Butler & the Impressions; 5. Sweet Little Sixteen, Chuck Berry; 6. Yakety Yak, Coasters; 7. La Bamba, Ritchie Valens; 8. Since I Don't Have You, Skyliners; 9. Rumble , Link Wray; 10. Lonely Teardrops, Jackie Wilson. While Rock N’ Roll is king, The Kingston Trio’s Tom Dooley launches the folk revival and RIAA awards the very first Gold record to Perry Como. The first ever Grammy Award is given to Domenico Modugno for his signature song, Volare.
    • BooksA Raisin in the Sun, Lorraine Hansberry; Exodus, Leon Uris; Masters of Deceit, J. Edgar Hoover; Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Truman Capote; The Affluent Society, John K. Gailbraith.
    • Prizes for literature Dr. Zhivago is published in the US, and banned in the USSR. Zhivago won author Boris Pasternak the Nobel Prize, which he was forced to decline due to political forces at home. The Pulitzer prize is awarded to James Agee for his book Death in the Family.
    • Art – The term Pop art is first used by English critic, Lawrence Alloway in an edition of Architectural Digest. Intellectuals hotly debated the merits of the “Beat” movement.
    • Dance – The “Cha Cha” becomes a dance craze.
    • Museums – New York welcomes the Guggenheim Museum, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.
    • TV ShowsYou Asked for It, Wagon Train, To Tell the Truth, The Rifleman, and Have Gun Will Travel. The Donna Reed Show, 77 Sunset Strip and Concentration havetheirpremiers. We view the final original airings of Beat the Clock, George Burns/Gracie Allen and The $64,000 Question, but each will continue as re-runs for many more years.
    • TV usage – By now, more than 45 million American households have television sets. Pope Pius XII declares Saint Clare of Assisi patron saint of television. Her placement on the television set is said to guarantee good reception. Right after that, Pope Pius XII died.
    • Oscars – Best Picture Gigi, Best Actor David Niven for Separate Tables, Best Actress Susan Hayward for I Want to Live!
    • Movie theaters – This is the peak year for drive-in movies with 4,063 outdoor screens nationwide.
    • Advertising – The National Association of Broadcasters bans subliminal ads. The Jolly Green Giant first appears on TV. Crest toothpaste inaugurates the "Look, Ma! No cavities!" ad campaign. The "Burger King, Home of the WHOPPER" campaign is inaugurated, one year after opening the chain.
    • On the Air – You'd find 3,156 AM radio, 537 FM radio and 492 TV Stations.
    • News – United Press and the International News Service merge into United Press International.
·        Sports
    • Track and field – The Boston Marathon was won by Yugoslavian Franjo Mihalic in 2 hours 25 minutes 54 seconds he was the first and perhaps only Eastern block athlete to win this marathon. Australian Herb Elliott, breaks the world record for a mile with a time of 3 minutes 54.5 seconds.
    • Baseball – The Yankees defeat the Milwaukee Braves to again win the World Series. Dodger catcher Roy Campanella is paralyzed when the car he was driving skidded into a telephone pole. And the event that most of us remember most clearly, the former Brooklyn Dodgers play their first game as the Los Angeles Dodgers.
    • Golf – Arnold Palmer wins his first Masters golf tournament.
    • Tennis – the US defeated Argentina to win the World Cup, and Ashley Cooper defeated Neale Fraser to win the Gentlemen's Singles title at Wimbledon. Althea Gibson (USA) defeated Angela Mortimer for the Women’s title.
    • Football – The 1958 National Football League Championship Game was played at Yankee Stadium, the first NFL game to go into sudden death overtime. The final score was Baltimore Colts 23, New York Giants 17. The game has since become widely known as "The Greatest Game Ever Played". In college football, Ohio State defeats Oregon, 10 to 7 in the Rose Ball.
    • Bicycling – Charly Gaul from Luxembourg wins the Tour De France.
·        Technology and Medicine
    • Computers – The first integrated circuit is developed by Robert Noyce of Fairchild Semiconductor and Jack Kilby of Texas Instruments. The microchip was demonstrated on September 12, 1958. The programming language FORTRAN II is created.
    • Medicine – Dr. Ake Senning installs the first pacemaker.
    • Space – This is a big year for the US in the Space Race. NASA (formerly the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) is created and Explorer I is launched from Cape Canaveral atop a Jupiter rocket. In the beginning of the year, the US labored under the psychological burden of Russia’s Sputnik success, but by year end had almost caught up with the Atlas rocket reaching orbit and the beginning of the Mercury program. The US Military announces that our satellites will make detailed maps from space.
    • World Science – 1958 is declared the International Geophysical Year, pulling together scientists from around the world in a series of coordinated observations of geophysical. Technical panels are formed to study: aurora and airglow, cosmic rays, geomagnetism, glaciology, gravity, ionospheric physics, longitude and latitude determination, meteorology, oceanography, rocketry, seismology, and solar activity.
    • Milestones – The nuclear submarine Nautilus traverses the North Pole under the polar icecap.
·        Product Introductions
    • Music – Stereophonic recordings, which use two separately recorded channels of sound to create the impression of sound heard from various directions, come into commercial use.
    • Autos – We welcome the Edsel and the Chevrolet Impala.
    • Food – Kellogg’s Cocoa Krispies (45.9% sugar) competes with General Mills’ Cocoa Puffs (only 43% sugar). On the somewhat healthier side, we now have Rice-a-Roni, the San Francisco Treat (can’t you still hear that jingle in your head?). And if you were watching your sugar, the artificial sweetener Sweet'n Low receives U.S. trademark patent no. 1,000,000 for saccharin.
    • Toys and games – The Hula Hoop is a huge success, and the little ones have Lego Toy Bricks. William Higinbotham creates the first video game, Tennis for Two. Bill and Mark Richards of Dana Point, CA attach roller skate wheels to a square board and sell the first skateboard at their Val Surf Shop for $8 each.
    • Restaurants – Eighteen-year-old Frank Carney sees a story in the Saturday Evening Post about the "pizza fad" among teenagers and college students. With $600 borrowed from his mother, he opens the first Pizza Hut in Wichita, Kansas. McDonald's worldwide sells its 100 millionth hamburger.
    • Diamonds – Harry Winston, Inc. donates the 45.52 carat Hope Diamond to the Smithsonian Institution.