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1954 History, Trivia and Fun Facts

<< - 1953

1954 History Snapshot

  • Politics: Brown v. Board of Education legally ended "separate but equal" school segregation in the US.
  • Biggest Songs include: Sh-boom by The Chords, Mr. Sandman by The Chordettes and Oh! My Pa-Pa (O Mein Papa) by Eddie Fisher
  • The Big Movies included Rear Window, White Christmas and 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea
  • Price of Living room set in 1954: $189.95
    Philco Air Conditioner: $199.00
  • The World Population was ~ 2,772,000,000
  • Sports: Roger Bannister becomes the first man to break the four minute mile, at 3 minutes 59.4 seconds.
  • And... The 1954 book I Am Legend by Richard Matheson has had three movie adaptations. The Omega Man (1971), The Last Man on Earth (1964), and I Am Legend (2007).

World Series Champions

New York Giants

NFL Champions

Cleveland Browns

National Basketball Association Champions

Minneapolis Lakers

NHL Stanley Cup Champions

Detroit Red Wings

US Open Golf

Ed Furgol

US Open Tennis (Men Ladies)

E. Victor Seixas, Jr./Doris Hart

Wimbledon (Men/Women)

Jaroslav Drobny/Maureen Connolly

FIFA World Cup Soccer

West Germany

NCAA Football Champions

Ohio State & UCLA

NCAA Basketball Champions

La Salle

Bowl Games

Orange Bowl: January 1, 1954 - Oklahoma over Maryland
Rose Bowl: January 1, 1954 - Michigan State over UCLA
Sugar Bowl : January 1, 1954 - Georgia Tech over West Virginia

Kentucky Derby


Westminster Kennel Best in Show Dog

Carmor's Ride and Shine

Time Magazine's Man of the Year

John Foster Dulles

Miss America

Evelyn Ay (Ephrata, PA)

Miss USA

Miriam Stevenson (South Carolina)

Fashion Icons and Movie Stars

Joan Davis, Doris Day, Ava Gardner, Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelly, Sophia Loren, Audrey Meadows, Marilyn Monroe, Julie Newmar, Elizabeth Taylor, Lana Turner, Jane Wyatt

"The Quotes"

"Hey Kids, What time is it?"
- It's Howdy Doody time!

"Melts in your mouth, not in your hands"
- M&Ms

"You don't understand! I coulda had class. I coulda been a contender. I could've been somebody, instead of a bum, which is what I am."
- Marlon Brando, in 'On The Waterfront.'

"Winston tastes good like a cigarette should"
- Winston Cigarettes

1954 Pop Culture History

April 11, 1954 may have been the most boring day in history. The most noteworthy events of that day included a general election in Belgium and the birth of a Turkish academic.

The phrase "under God" wasn't part of the Pledge of Allegiance until 1954, and that its adoption was largely due to pressure from the Knights of Colombus and nationwide concerns about 'godless communism'.

Roger Bannister was the first human to run a mile in less than four minutes (3:59) on May 6th. Mr. Bannister stopped running shortly after that, and became a neurologist. He was knighted (for his neurogist work) in 1975.

The Ivy League isn't what it seems. It was created in 1954 for football and people just assume its old because the individual schools are.

In 1660, a 70-year-old British man named William Harrison went missing. Three suspects were hanged for murder, despite the lack of a body. The man arrived a year later, claiming to have been abducted by pirates. This judicial mistake led England to adopt the "no body, no murder" rule, which lasted up until 1954.

Philly-born pool player Willie Mosconi sunk 526 pool balls, without missing, in Springfield, Ohio. Noone has come close to breaking that record.

The first 7 seasons of the Walt Disney anthology series (begun in 1954) were filmed in color so that when color TV became more common, they could air colored versions of earlier episodes for reruns.

Then Vice-President Richard Nixon broke the original ivory gavel that had been in use by the Senate since 1789. #oopsie

Paul Newman was so ashamed of his role in The Silver Chalice that when the movie was due to make its television debut, he bought a magazine ad to apologize for his performance and to warn people away from it. He later called it "the worst motion picture produced during the 1950s".

Royal Crown Soda was the first company to sell soft drinks in a can, and later the first company to sell a soft drink in an aluminum can.

The film Salt of the Earth was the first/only film blacklisted in the US in 1954.

John W. Backus created the FORTRAN computer language.

Before 1954, it was popular opinion that the human body was incapable of running a mile in under 4 minutes.

The Fast and the Furious movie series is "loosely" based on a film from 1954, also called The Fast and the Furious.

Late 1954, and early 1955 is when Edgar Hetteen and David Johnson started making and selling their Polaris snowmobiles.

Although started as a fruit-packing business in 1947, Tropicana owner Anthony Rossi developed a 'flash pasteurization' process that made OJ more easily transported fresh across the country.

Elvis Presley played his first and only show at Nashville's Grand Ole Opry. He was subsequently kicked out of the venue by management because they didn't like how he was playing country music.

Prior to 1954, Thanksgiving turkeys were supplied by the local farmer or butcher, but Frank Swift's well-bred, larger-than-typical Butterball turkeys changed all that.

The Piña Colada was invented at Puerto Rico in 1954 at the Caribe Hilton

Many of the worlds elite from politicians to academia, industry and the media have been meeting annually, behind closed doors, at Bilderberg Conferences since 1954.

Former Australian Prime Minister Bob Hawke won his place in the Guiness Book of World records for drinking 2.5 pints of beer in 11 seconds.

John Stapp strapped himself to a rocket sled, accelerated to 632 MPH in 5 seconds, and then decelerated to 0 MPH in 1.4 seconds. He experienced 46.2 G's. He went temporarily blind and experienced two black eyes from his eyeballs having been shot so far forward.

Archaeologists excavating an 8th-century Viking settlement in Sweden found a Buddha statuette from India.

The famous "rock" opening scene from Raiders of the Lost Ark was lifted from a 1954 Scrooge McDuck comic book.

American surgeon Joseph Murray completed the first successful organ transplant when he moved a living kidney from one identical twin to the other. The operation took about 4 hours.

RIP, Scandals, Sad and Odd News

Rock and Roll Death: Johnny Ace rhythm-and-blues singer Johnny Ace died after jokingly pointing a gun toward himself and accidentally shooting himself with it. His last words were "It's okay! Gun's not loaded… see?"

The city of Bombay, India had such a bad rat problem that they began accepting dead rats in place of taxes. Of course this led to the mass breeding and killing of rats to use them for payment.

Lester Callaway Hunt, Sr. (D), a US Senator, committed suicide at his Capitol Hill desk after being blackmailed for his son's homosexuality.

The FCC had a ban on TV/radio media releasing tornado warnings until 1954 when Harry Volkman broadcast the first televised tornado warning in Oklahoma City, due to his belief the ban was costing lives.

Ann Hodges is the only verified person in history that was hit by a meteorite and survived. The Sylacauga meteorite fell on November 30, 1954.

The flag of Bikini Atoll includes 3 black stars for the islands that were vaporized by the United States in 1954 during the Operation Castle nuclear tests. These tests may have been responsible for Godzilla's birth.

The first film to use the iconic shot of an army coming into view as they crest a hilltop was 1954's Seven Samurai.

The CIA was involved with finacing and re-writing the animated film version of Animal Farm.

1954 Canadian Bank Notes Had a 'Devil's Face' In the Queen's Hair and Had to Be Discontinued Because of It

A Japanese trawler was caught in the fallout of the Castle Bravo nuclear test, killing its radioman, Aikichi Kuboyama. His last words were "I pray that I am the last victim of an atomic or hydrogen bomb."

Maurice Tillet, the inspiration for the character Shrek, was a successful wrestler that suffered from acromegaly. He was better known by his ring name, The French Angel, and was twice recognized world heavyweight champion by the American Wrestling Association (AWA). He died in 1954.

Paul Newman took an ad out in Variety Magazine apologizing for his performance in The Silver Chalice.

The United Fruit Company (now known as Chiquita), asked the US government to act militarily against the Guatemalan government when, under a new law, some of its unused farmland was going to be given to peasants. This led to the CIA assisting in deposing Guatemala's president in 1954.

Economist Armen Alchian was able to figure out what the secret fuel was for the newly developed hydrogen bomb just by looking at the share prices of chemical suppliers on the stock market.

Firsts and the Biggest Christmas Gifts

Matchbox Cars, Yahtzee, Lincoln Logs, Scrabble, thin wooden wiffle bat invented to go with 1953's wiffle ball

The sensory deprivation tank was invented in 1954.

Popular Electronics Magazine (1954-1999)

Sports Illustrated began publication

The Habits

Reading Not as a Stranger by Morton Thompson
Reading Lord of the Flies by William Golding
Reading Under the Net by Iris Murdoch
Watching Rear Window, Seven Samurai, Godzilla, Sabrina, The Creature From the Black Laggon, Dial M for Murder, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, 20000 Leagues Under the Sea and On the Waterfront in theaters.
Playing the Card Game Canasta.

1954/55 Biggest Television Shows

(according to Nielsen TV Research)
1. I Love Lucy (CBS)
2. The Jackie Gleason Show ((CBS)
3. Dragnet (NBC)
4. You Bet Your Life (NBC)
5. The Toast of the Town (CBS)
6. Disneyland (ABC)
7. The Jack Benny Show (CBS)
8. The George Gobel Show (NBC)
9. Ford Theatre (NBC)
10. December Bride (CBS)

Popular Music Artists

The Biggest Pop Artists of 1954 include
B.B. King, The Charms, The Chords, The Chordettes, Crew-Cuts, Doris Day, The Drifters, Eddie Fisher, Four Aces, Frank Sinatra, Hank Ballard, Jo Stafford, Joe Turner, Johnny Ace, Kay Starr, Kitty Kallen, Muddy Waters, Patti Page, Perry Como, Rosemary Clooney, Roy Hamilton, Ruth Brown, Tony Bennett, Tony Martin

(Data is complied from various charts including: Billboard's Pop, Rock, Airplay, R&B/Dance and Singles Charts. The Hot 100 is the primary chart used for this list.)

Number One Hits of 1954

November 21, 1953 - January 1, 1954: Tony Bennett - Rags To Riches

January 2, 1954 - February 26, 1954: Eddie Fisher - Oh! My Pa-pa (O Mein Papa)

February 27, 1954 - March 12, 1954: Doris Day - Secret Love

March 13, 1954 - April 9, 1954: Jo Stafford - Make Love To Me!

April 10, 1954 - June 4, 1954: Perry Como - Wanted

June 5, 1954 - August 6, 1954: Kitty Kallen - Little Things Mean A Lot

August 7, 1954 - September 24, 1954: The Crew-Cuts - Sh-Boom

September 25, 1954 - November 5, 1954: Rosemary Clooney - Hey There

November 6, 1954 - November 12, 1954: Rosemary Clooney - This Ole House

November 13, 1954 - December 3, 1954: Eddie Fisher - I Need You Now

December 4, 1954 - January 21, 1955: The Chordettes - Mr. Sandman

Popular Movies

20,000 Leagues Under The Sea, A Star is Born, Animal Farm, The Barefoot Contessa, The Caine Mutiny, Carmen Jones, Demetrius and the Gladiators, Dial M for Murder, Godzilla, Johnny Guitar, On the Waterfront, Rear Window, Sabrina, Salt of the Earth, Senso (or The Wanton Countess), Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, Seven Samarai, Silver Load, La Strada, Three Coins in the Fountain

More Pop Culture History Resources

Popular Music in 1954
# 1 Hits of 1954
Pop Culture News

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