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