1955: Subur­bia, “Rock Around the Clock” and Davy Crock­ett

Reminisce - - Spotlight - BY DE­BRA STEILEN

Ris­ing in­comes and pent-up de­mand led to sub­ur­ban ex­pan­sion, big-ticket item pur­chases and a de­sire for any­thing new and im­proved. It was a mon­ster year for car sales, in­clud­ing the new Chevy Bel Air with its op­tional over­head V-8, power steer­ing, power brakes and air con­di­tion­ing. Michael and Mary were the most pop­u­lar names given to the 4,047,295 ba­bies born this year (and the baby boom had not even peaked). Rock ’n’ roll picked up steam when Bill Ha­ley’s “Rock Around the Clock” be­came an in­ter­na­tional sen­sa­tion. And a new vac­cine was about to erad­i­cate po­lio.

JAN. 7 Con­tralto Mar­ian An­der­son be­comes the first African-Amer­i­can soloist with the New York Met­ro­pol­i­tan Opera.

JAN. 17 The sub­ma­rine

USS Nau­tilus be­gins its nu­clear-pow­ered test voy­age—the first ever.

JAN. 19 Pres­i­dent Eisen­hower holds the first pres­i­den­tial news con­fer­ence.

JAN. 19 Scrabble hits shelves in the U.K., mak­ing the board game an in­ter­na­tional suc­cess.

MARCH 7 NBC broad­casts Pe­ter Pan live. Mary Martin stars in the ti­tle role.

APRIL 15 En­tre­pre­neur Ray Kroc opens his first McDonald’s fran­chise in Des Plaines, IL.

MAY 31 A unan­i­mous Supreme Court in­structs pub­lic schools to be­gin in­te­gra­tion “with all de­lib­er­ate speed” in its Brown II de­ci­sion.

JUNE 7 The $64,000 Ques­tion, the first big-money quiz show, de­buts on CBS.

JULY 2 Fam­ily-friendly The Lawrence Welk Show pre­mieres on ABC. JULY 17 Dis­ney­land opens to the press in Ana­heim, CA, and to the pub­lic the next day.

AUG. 27 The Guin­ness Book of Records is first pub­lished in the U.K.

SEPT. 10 The Western hit Gun­smoke de­buts on CBS (see quiz, op­po­site).

SEPT. 30 Ac­tor James Dean, left, dies at age 24 in a car ac­ci­dent near Cho­lame, CA, be­fore Rebel With­out a Cause

and Gi­ant are re­leased. OCT. 1 CBS de­buts

The Honey­moon­ers, star­ring Jackie Glea­son. It lasts only one sea­son.

OCT. 2 Al­fred Hitch­cock Presents de­buts on CBS. OCT. 3 Kid show

Cap­tain Kan­ga­roo

first ap­pears on CBS.

OCT. 3 The Mickey Mouse Club, fea­tur­ing

An­nette Fu­ni­cello, left,

de­buts on ABC.

DEC. 1 Rosa Parks, above, is ar­rested when she re­fuses to give up her seat on the bus to a white man in Mont­gomery, AL.

DEC. 5 The Amer­i­can Fed­er­a­tion of La­bor merges with the Congress of In­dus­trial Or­ga­ni­za­tions to form the AFL-CIO.



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