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The Year Was 1959

Significant Events of 1959

January 1959


Thursday 01:

Fulgencio Batista, President of the Republic of Cuba, is overthrown by Fidel Castro's forces.

Saturday 03:

Alaska is admitted as the 49th U.S. state.

Sunday 04:

Luna 1 becomes the first spacecraft to reach the vicinity of the Moon.

Wednesday 07:

The United States recognizes the new Cuban government of Fidel Castro

Thursday 29:

Sleeping Beauty, the last animated feature produced by Walt Disney to be based upon a fairy tale, was first released.


February 1959


Friday 06:

At Cape Canaveral, Florida, the first successful test firing of a Titan intercontinental ballistic missile is accomplished.

Monday 16:

Fidel Castro becomes Premier of Cuba after President Fulgencio Batista was overthrown on January 1.

Thursday 19:

The United Kingdom grants Cyprus its independence, which is then on formally proclaimed on August 16, 1960.

Friday 20:

The Avro Arrow programme to design and manufacture supersonic jet fighters in Canada is cancelled by the Diefenbaker government amid much political debate.

Sunday 22:

Lee Petty wins the first Daytona 500.


March 1959


Sunday 08:

Last television appearance of The Marx Brothers, in The Incredible Jewel Robbery

Monday 09:

The Barbie doll debuts.

Wednesday 11:

In Cannes, France, Teddy Scholten wins the fourth Eurovision Song Contest for the Netherlands singing "Een beetje" (A little bit).

Tuesday 17:

Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama, flees Tibet and travels to India.

Wednesday 18:

American President Dwight D. Eisenhower signs a bill into law allowing for Hawaiian statehood, which would become official on August 21.


April 1959


Thursday 09:

Mercury program: NASA announces the selection of the United States' first seven astronauts which the news media quickly dub the "Mercury Seven".

Saturday 25:

David Carr, a 25-year-old Briton, enters Royal Manchester Infirmary in England. His death later that year was in 1990 attributed to AIDS by a director at the infirmary, Gerald Corbitt; a 1995 by Corbitt cowrote an update noting that the virus was from 1990.


May 1959


Monday 04:

The first Grammy Awards are announced.

Monday 18:

Launching of the National Liberation Committee of Côte d'Ivoire in Conakry, Guinea.


June 1959



Monday 08:

The USS Barbero and United States Postal Service attempt the delivery of mail via Missile Mail.

Tuesday 09:

The USS George Washington is launched as the first submarine to carry ballistic missiles.

Sunday 14:

A group of left-leaning Dominican exiles in Cuba landed in the Dominican Republic with the intent of assassinating Trujillo. They would later be known as the J14 or "Catorce de Junio" (14th of June) group.

Wednesday 17:
Redford High School Graduation
June Class of 1959
(at Cooley HS 10am)

Tuesday 23:

A fire in a resort hotel in Stalheim, Norway kills 34 people.

Thursday 25:

Eamon de Valera is elected the third President of Ireland.


July 1959


Wednesday 01:

The Party of the African Federation (PFA) holds its constitutive conference.

Saturday 04:

With the admission of Alaska as the 49th U.S. state earlier in the year, the 49-star flag of the United States debuts in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Tuesday 07:

14:28 UT Venus occults the star Regulus. This rare event was used to determine the diameter of Venus and the structure of the Venusian atmosphere.

Monday 20:

Elias Tsirimokos becomes Prime Minister of Greece.

Friday 24:

At the opening of the American National Exhibition in Moscow, US vice-president Richard Nixon and Nikita Khrushchev have a "kitchen debate."


August 1959


Friday 07:

Explorer program: The United States launches Explorer 6 from the Atlantic Missile Range in Cape Canaveral, Florida.

Friday 21:

President Eisenhower signs an executive order proclaiming Hawaii the 50th state of the union.


September 1959


Saturday 12:

Bonanza premiers. First regularly-scheduled TV program presented in color.

Monday 14:

The Soviet probe Luna 2 crashes onto the Moon, becoming the first man-made object to reach it.

Tuesday 15:

Nikita Khrushchev becomes the first Soviet leader to visit the United States.

Saturday 19:

Nikita Khrushchev is barred from visiting Disneyland.

Friday 25:

Solomon Bandaranaike, prime minister of Sri Lanka is assassinated by a Buddhist monk,Talduwe Somarama, and dies the next day.


October 1959


Friday 02:

The Twilight Zone pilot premieres.

Wednesday 07:

Far side of the Moon seen for first time, compliments of U.S.S.R.'s Luna 3.

Wednesday 21:

US President Dwight D. Eisenhower signs an executive order transferring Wernher von Braun and other German scientists from the United States Army to NASA.


November 1959


Monday 02:

Ice Hockey: After being struck in the face with a puck, goalkeeper Jacques Plante returns to play wearing a protective mask for the first time in professional play.

Sunday 15:

Four members of the Herbert Clutter Family murdered at their farm outside Holcomb, Kansas.

Wednesday 18:

William Wyler's film Ben-Hur premieres at Loew's Theater in New York City.

Thursday 19:

Ford Motor Company announces the discontinuation of the unpopular Edsel.


December 1959


Tuesday 01:

Cold War: Antarctic Treaty signed , which sets aside Antarctica as a scientific preserve and bans military activity on that continent.

Sunday 13:

Archbishop Makarios becomes the first President of Cyprus

Monday 14:

Motown record label is founded in Detroit, Michigan.

Significant Movies of 1959

The Diary of Anne Frank
Anatomy of a Murder
Alfred Hitchcock's North by Northwest, starring Cary Grant and Eva Marie Saint
Some Like It Hot
Sleeping Beauty

Pillow Talk

Music of 1959

'It Doesn't Matter Anymore' - Buddy Holly
'Raining In My Heart' - Buddy Holly
'Peggy Sue Got Married' - Buddy Holly
'Crying, Waiting, Hoping' - Buddy Holly
'Sweet Nothin's' - Brenda Lee
'A Teenager In Love' - Dion & the Belmonts
'El Paso' - Marty Robbins
'M.T.A' - The Kingston Trio
'A Worried Man' - The Kingston Trio
'Kansas City' - Wilbur Harrison
'What'd I Say' - Ray Charles
'Lonely Boy' - Paul Anka
'Love Potion Number Nine' - The Clovers
'La Bamba' - Ritchie Valens
'Mack The Knife' - Bobby Darin
'Poison Ivy' - The Coasters
'Sleepwalk' - Santo & Johnny
'Stagger Lee' - Lloyd Price
'Tall Oak Tree' - Dorsey Burnette
'Venus' - Frankie Avalon
'Why' - Frankie Avalon
'Where the Boys Are' - Connie Francis
'Lipstick On Your Collar' - Connie Francis
'The Twist' - Hank Ballard
'All For The Love Of A Girl' - Johnny Horton
'The Battle Of New Orleans' - Johnny Horton

Albums released
Come Dance With Me - Frank Sinatra
Connie's Greatest Hits - Connie Francis
from the Hungry i - The Kingston Trio
Kind of Blue - Miles Davis
The Kingston Trio At Large - The Kingston Trio
Look To Your Heart - Frank Sinatra
No One Cares - Frank Sinatra

Popular Television Shows in 1959

Bonanza premieres (1959-1973)
Rod Serling's The Twilight Zone debuts (1959-1965)
The Ed Sullivan Show (1948-1971)
Gunsmoke (1955-1975)
The Tonight Show (1954-present)
Lawrence Welk Show (1955-1982)
Walt Disney Presents (1954-1983)

Sports in 1959

Auto Racing
Stock car racing:
Lee Petty won the inaugural Daytona 500
NASCAR Championship - Lee Petty
Indianapolis 500 - Rodger Ward
USAC Racing - Rodger Ward
Formula One Champion - Jack Brabham of Australia
24 hours of Le Mans: Carroll Shelby / Roy Salvadori won driving an Aston Martin DBR1
Rally racing - Paul Coltelloni / P Alexandre won the Monte Carlo Rally driving a Citroen ID

Drag racing
Chris the 'Greek' Karamesines won the AHRA 'Top Fuel'
Rodney Singer won Top Eliminator at the NHRA Nationals

World Series: Los Angeles Dodgers win 4 games to 2 over the Chicago White Sox. The Series MVP is Larry Sherry, Los Angeles

NCAA Men's Basketball Championship:
California wins 71-70 over West Virginia

NBA Finals
Boston Celtics win 4 games to 0 over the Minneapolis Lakers

June 26 - in New York City, Ingemar Johansson scored a 3rd round TKO over Floyd Patterson to win the World Heavyweight Championship

Tour de France - Federico Bahamontes of Spain

Figure Skating
World Figure Skating Championships:
Men's champion: David Jenkins, United States
Women's champion: Carol Heiss, United States
Pairs champions: Barbara Wagner & Robert Paul, Canada

Football (Soccer)
England - FA Cup: Nottingham Forest won 2-1 over Luton Town

Football (American)
NFL Championship: Baltimore Colts won 31-16 over the New York Giants

Men's Golf
Grand Slam of golf results:
May - The Masters golf tournament - Art Wall, Jr.
June - US Open - Billy Casper
July - British Open - Gary Player
August - PGA Championship - Bob Rosburg
PGA tour's leading money winner for the year: Art Wall - $53,168
Ryder Cup: United States 8 1/2 to 3 1/2 over Britain in world team golf

Women's Golf
US Women's Open - Mickey Wright
LPGA Championship - Betsy Rawls
Betsy Rawls: leading money winner on the LPGA tour, earning $26,774.

Thoroughbred Horse Racing
United States Triple Crown Races:
Kentucky Derby - Tomy Lee
Preakness Stakes - Royal Orbit
Belmont Stakes - Sword Dancer

Ice Hockey
Stanley Cup: Montreal Canadiens win 4 games to 1 over the Toronto Maple Leafs

Grand Slam in tennis men's results:
Australian Open - Alex Olmedo
French Open - Nicola Pietrangeli
Wimbledon championships - Alex Olmedo
US Open - Neale Fraser

Grand Slam in tennis women's results:
Australian Open - Mary Carter-Reitano
French Open - Christine Truman
Wimbledon championships - Maria Bueno
US Open - Maria Bueno

Davis Cup: Australia wins 3-2 over the United States in world tennis.

1959 Highlights

-Danny's Coffee Shops are renamed Dennys
-Pantyhose, which give women the look of stockings without garters, garter-belts, or corsets, are introduced
-The Nikon F35mm single-lens reflex camera is introduced by Nippon Kogaku K.K.
-On the Air! You'd find 3,287 AM radio, 578 FM radio and 509 TV stations
-Lady Chatterly's Lover banned by the U.S. Postal Service
-Swimmer Esther Williams gets her own Wheaties box
-'Think Small' campaign from Volkwagon. VW will sell 120,000 cars in the U.S. in 1959, four times the number sold in 1955
-Maxwell House inaugurates the 'Good to the last drop' ad campaign
-The BIC ballpoint pen is introduced to America
-One billionth can of SPAM sold
-Space monkeys Able and Baker boldly go where no monkey (or human) has gone before
-NASA picks the Mercury Astronauts, 7 guys with the 'right stuff'
-Aluminum beer can introduced by Coors of Golden, Colorado
-Alaska is admitted to statehood on Feb 3, and Hawaii on August 21
-The microchip is invented by Jack Kilby and Robert Noyce of the U.S.
-The Guggenheim opens in New York City
-The Sound of Music staring Mary Martin opens on Broadway
-Metrecal is introduced by the 59-year-old Mead Johnson Company as a weight reducing aid
-Presbyterian church accepts women preachers
-Vince Lombardi signs on to coach Green Bay Packers
-Walt Disney's 'Sleeping Beauty' is released
-Giants Stadium is renamed Candlestick Park
-Fidel Castro gets control of Cuba

A Few 1959 Statistics
-America will import 430,808 passenger cars.
-There are 36,981 motor vehicle related deaths. While in the air, there were 8 accidents resulting in 125 fatalities.
-Unemployment is 6.8%.
-U.S. Gross National Product is $503.5 billion.
-There is a 51.8% business failure rate.
-31.7% of all advertising dollars are spent on newspapers - 13.7% on TV.
-Americans will spend $1.2 billion on books in a year in which 14,876 new ones are published.
-The average American worker earns $91.53 a week.

Fashion and Hair Styles in 1959

In women's fashion women wore a full knee-length skirt and there was a brief fling with the sack dress, which was much as it sounds, and expertly parodied on the 'I Love Lucy' show, the television hit of the decade. The bobbysoxers flourished for a brief time, characterized by a large collared blouse, poodle skirt, scarf-tied ponytail and saddle shoes. For the boys it was the James Dean and Marlon Brando look of rebels without causes and motorcycle gang members. In the more out of the way places, the trendy coffee shops, held morose Beatniks, all dressed in black, with matching berets, with an audible spritzing of 'man' and 'like' in every sentence. Hair was generally soft and curly, often short and imaginative. The oddball woman's cut of the decade was the poodle cut, most notably used by Lucille Ball, and for men it was the ducktail, with the hair combed back and a duck's butt made out of a center part. Men also had the crewcut and the flattop, both of which were inspired by the military and were eradicated by the British invasion of the sixties.