The 1950s (pronounced nineteen-fifties; commonly abbreviated as the '50s or Fifties) was a decade of the Gregorian calendar that began on January 1, 1950, and ended on December 31, 1959.
The Gregorian calendar is the calendar used in most of the world. It is named after Pope Gregory XIII, who introduced it in October 1582. The calendar spaces leap years to make the average year 365.2425 days long, approximating the 365.2422-day tropical year that is determined by the Earth's revolution around the Sun. The rule for leap years is:
Every year that is exactly divisible by four is a leap year, except for years that are exactly divisible by 100, but these centurial years are leap years if they are exactly divisible by 400. For example, the years 1700, 1800, and 1900 are not leap years, but the year 2000 is.
By its end, the world had largely recovered from World War II and the Cold War developed from its modest beginning in the late-1940s to a hot competition between the United States and the Soviet Union by the early-1960s.
World War II, also known as the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. The vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great powers—eventually formed two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. A state of total war emerged, directly involving more than 100 million people from over 30 countries. The major participants threw their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history, marked by 50 to 85 million fatalities, most of whom were civilians in the Soviet Union and China. It included massacres, the genocide of the Holocaust, strategic bombing, premeditated death from starvation and disease, and the only use of nuclear weapons in war.
The Cold War was a period of geopolitical tension between the Soviet Union with its satellite states, and the United States with its allies after World War II. A common historiography of the conflict begins between 1946, the year U.S. diplomat George F. Kennan's "Long Telegram" from Moscow cemented a U.S. foreign policy of containment of Soviet expansionism threatening strategically vital regions, and the Truman Doctrine of 1947, and ending between the Revolutions of 1989, which ended communism in Eastern Europe, and the 1991 collapse of the USSR, when nations of the Soviet Union abolished communism and restored their independence. The term "cold" is used because there was no large-scale fighting directly between the two sides, but they each supported major regional conflicts known as proxy wars. The conflict split the temporary wartime alliance against Nazi Germany and its allies, leaving the USSR and the US as two superpowers with profound economic and political differences.
Clashes between communism and capitalism dominated the decade, especially in the Northern Hemisphere. The conflicts included the Korean War in the beginnings of the decade and the beginning of the Space Race with the launch of Sputnik 1. Along with increased testing of nuclear weapons (such as RDS-37 and Upshot–Knothole), this created a politically conservative climate. In the United States, the Second Red Scare caused Congressional hearings by both houses in Congress and anti-communism was the prevailing sentiment in the United States throughout the decade. The beginning of decolonization in Africa and Asia took place in this decade and accelerated in the following decade.
In political and social sciences, communism is the philosophical, social, political, and economic ideology and movement whose ultimate goal is the establishment of the communist society, which is a socioeconomic order structured upon the common ownership of the means of production and the absence of social classes, money, and the state.
Capitalism is an economic system based on the private ownership of the means of production and their operation for profit. Characteristics central to capitalism include private property, capital accumulation, wage labor, voluntary exchange, a price system, and competitive markets. In a capitalist market economy, decision-making and investment are determined by every owner of wealth, property or production ability in financial and capital markets, whereas prices and the distribution of goods and services are mainly determined by competition in goods and services markets.
The Northern Hemisphere is the half of Earth that is north of the Equator. For other planets in the Solar System, north is defined as being in the same celestial hemisphere relative to the invariable plane of the solar system as Earth's North Pole.
North Korea, officially the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, is a country in East Asia constituting the northern part of the Korean Peninsula, with Pyongyang the capital and the largest city in the country. The name Korea is derived from Goguryeo which was one of the great powers in East Asia during its time, ruling most of the Korean Peninsula, Manchuria, parts of the Russian Far East and Inner Mongolia, under Gwanggaeto the Great. To the north and northwest, the country is bordered by China and by Russia along the Amnok and Tumen rivers; it is bordered to the south by South Korea, with the heavily fortified Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) separating the two. Nevertheless, North Korea, like its southern counterpart, claims to be the legitimate government of the entire peninsula and adjacent islands.
South Korea, officially the Republic of Korea (ROK), is a country in East Asia, constituting the southern part of the Korean Peninsula. The name Korea is derived from Goguryeo which was one of the great powers in East Asia during its time, ruling most of the Korean Peninsula, Manchuria, parts of the Russian Far East and Inner Mongolia under Gwanggaeto the Great. Its capital, Seoul, is a major global city and half of South Korea's 51 million people live in the Seoul Capital Area, the fourth largest metropolitan economy in the world.
The Division of Korea began at the end of World War II in 1945. With the defeat of Japan, the Soviet Union occupied the north of Korea, and the United States occupied the south, with the boundary between their zones being the 38th parallel.
The Korean War was a war between North Korea and South Korea. The war began on 25 June 1950 when North Korea invaded South Korea following a series of clashes along the border.
The Korean Armistice Agreement is the armistice which brought about a complete cessation of hostilities of the Korean War. It was signed by U.S. Army Lieutenant General William Harrison, Jr. representing the United Nations Command (UNC), North Korean General Nam Il representing the Korean People's Army (KPA), and the Chinese People's Volunteer Army (PVA). The armistice was signed on 27 July 1953, and was designed to "ensure a complete cessation of hostilities and of all acts of armed force in Korea until a final peaceful settlement is achieved."
A civil war, also known as an intrastate war in polemology, is a war between organized groups within the same state or country. The aim of one side may be to take control of the country or a region, to achieve independence for a region or to change government policies. The term is a calque of the Latin bellum civile which was used to refer to the various civil wars of the Roman Republic in the 1st century BC.
The Suez Crisis, or the Second Arab–Israeli War, also named the Tripartite Aggression in the Arab world and Operation Kadesh or Sinai War in Israel, was an invasion of Egypt in late 1956 by Israel, followed by the United Kingdom and France. The aims were to regain Western control of the Suez Canal and to remove Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser, who had just nationalized the canal. After the fighting had started, political pressure from the United States, the Soviet Union and the United Nations led to a withdrawal by the three invaders. The episode humiliated the United Kingdom and France and strengthened Nasser.
Egypt, officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, is a country spanning the northeast corner of Africa and southwest corner of Asia by a land bridge formed by the Sinai Peninsula. Egypt is a Mediterranean country bordered by the Gaza Strip and Israel to the northeast, the Gulf of Aqaba and the Red Sea to the east, Sudan to the south, and Libya to the west. Across the Gulf of Aqaba lies Jordan, across the Red Sea lies Saudi Arabia, and across the Mediterranean lie Greece, Turkey and Cyprus, although none share a land border with Egypt.
The Suez Canal is a sea-level waterway in Egypt, connecting the Mediterranean Sea to the Red Sea through the Isthmus of Suez. Constructed by the Suez Canal Company between 1859 and 1869, it was officially opened on 17 November 1869. The canal offers watercraft a more direct route between the North Atlantic and northern Indian Oceans via the Mediterranean and Red Seas, thus avoiding the South Atlantic and southern Indian Oceans and thereby reducing the journey distance from the Arabian Sea to, for example, London by approximately 8,900 kilometres (5,500 mi). It extends from the northern terminus of Port Said to the southern terminus of Port Tewfik at the city of Suez. Its length is 193.30 km (120.11 mi), including its northern and southern access channels. In 2012, 17,225 vessels traversed the canal.
Inflation was moderate during the decade of the 1950s. The first few months had a deflationary hangover from the 1940s but the first full year ended with what looked like the beginnings of massive inflation with annual inflation rates ranging from 8% to 9% a year. By 1952 inflation subsided. 1954 and 1955 flirted with deflation again but the remainder of the decade had moderate inflation ranging from 1% to 3.7%. The average annual inflation for the entire decade was only 2.04%.
On November 1, 1950, in the Apostolic Constitution Munificentissimus Deus, the Pope Pius XII declared the Assumption of Mary as a dogma:
By the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, of the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, and by our own authority, we pronounce, declare, and define it to be a divinely revealed dogma: that the Immaculate Mother of God, the ever Virgin Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory.
Pope Pius XII deliberately left open the question of whether Mary died before her Assumption.
Before the dogmatic definition, in Deiparae Virginis Mariae Pope Pius XII sought the opinion of Catholic Bishops and a large number of them pointed to the Book of Genesis (3:15) as scriptural support for the dogma. In Munificentissimus Deus Pius XII referred to the "struggle against the infernal foe" as in Genesis 3:15 and to "complete victory over the sin and death" as in the Letters of Paul as a scriptural basis for the dogmatic definition, Mary being assumed to heaven as in 1 Corinthians 15:54: "then shall come to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory".
Prominent assassinations, targeted killings, and assassination attempts include:
The recently invented transistor, though initially quite feeble, had clear potential and was rapidly improved and developed at the beginning of the 1950s by companies such as GE, RCA, and Philco. The first commercial transistor production started at the Western Electric plant in Allentown, Pennsylvania, in October, 1951 with the point contact germanium transistor. It wasn't until around 1954 that transistor products began to achieve real commercial success with small portable radios.
Television, which first reached the marketplace in the 1940s, attained maturity during the 1950s and by the end of the decade, most American households owned a TV set. A rush to produce larger screens than the tiny ones found on 1940s models occurred during 1950–52. In 1954, RCA intro Bell Telephone Labs produced the first Solar battery. In 1954, you could get a yard of contact paper for only 59 cents. Polypropylene was invented in 1954. In 1955, Jonas Salk invented a polio vaccine which was given to more than seven million American students. In 1956, a solar powered wrist watch was invented.
A surprise came in 1957: a 184-pound (83 kg) satellite named Sputnik 1 was launched by the Soviets. The space race began 4 months later as the United States launched a smaller satellite. In 1958, the first plastic Coke bottle appeared.
Popular music in the early 1950s was essentially a continuation of the crooner sound of the previous decade, with less emphasis on the jazz-influenced big band style and more emphasis on a conservative, operatic, symphonic style of music. Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Frankie Laine, Patti Page, Judy Garland, Johnnie Ray, Kay Starr, Perry Como, Bing Crosby, Rosemary Clooney, Dean Martin, Georgia Gibbs, Eddie Fisher, Teresa Brewer, Dinah Shore, Kitty Kallen, Joni James, Peggy Lee, Julie London, Toni Arden, June Valli, Doris Day, Arthur Godfrey, Tennessee Ernie Ford, Guy Mitchell, Nat King Cole, and vocal groups like the Mills Brothers, The Ink Spots, The Four Lads, The Four Aces, The Chordettes, The Fontane Sisters, The Hilltoppers and the Ames Brothers. Jo Stafford's "You Belong To Me" was the #1 song of 1952 on the Billboard Top 100 chart.
The middle of the decade saw a change in the popular music landscape as classic pop was swept off the charts by rock-and-roll. Crooners such as Eddie Fisher, Perry Como, and Patti Page, who had dominated the first half of the decade, found their access to the pop charts significantly curtailed by the decade's end.doo-wop entered the pop charts in the 1950s. Its popularity soon spawns the parody "Who Put the Bomp".
Rock-n-roll emerged in the mid-1950s with Sam Cooke, Jackie Wilson, Gene Vincent, Chuck Berry, Fats Domino, Little Richard, James Brown, Bo Diddley, Buddy Holly, Bobby Darin, Ritchie Valens, Duane Eddy, Eddie Cochran, Brenda Lee, Bobby Vee, Connie Francis, Johnny Mathis, Neil Sedaka, Pat Boone and Ricky Nelson being notable exponents. In the mid-1950s, Elvis Presley became the leading figure of the newly popular sound of rock and roll with a series of network television appearances and chart-topping records. Chuck Berry, with "Maybellene" (1955), "Roll Over Beethoven" (1956), "Rock and Roll Music" (1957) and "Johnny B. Goode" (1958), refined and developed the major elements that made rock and roll distinctive, focusing on teen life and introducing guitar solos and showmanship that would be a major influence on subsequent rock music.Bill Haley, Jerry Lee Lewis, The Everly Brothers, Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash, Conway Twitty, Johnny Horton, and Marty Robbins were Rockabilly musicians. Doo-wop was another popular genre at the time. Popular Doo Wop and Rock-n-Roll bands of the mid to late 1950s include The Platters, The Flamingos, The Dells, The Silhouettes, Frankie Lymon and The Teenagers, Little Anthony and The Imperials, Danny & the Juniors, The Coasters, The Drifters, The Del-Vikings and Dion and the Belmonts.
The new music differed from previous styles in that it was primarily targeted at the teenager market, which became a distinct entity for the first time in the 1950s as growing prosperity meant that young people did not have to grow up as quickly or be expected to support a family. Rock-and-roll proved to be a difficult phenomenon for older Americans to accept and there were widespread accusations of it being a communist-orchestrated scheme to corrupt the youth, although rock and roll was extremely market based and capitalistic.
Jazz stars in the 1950s who came into prominence in their genres called bebop, hard bop, cool jazz and the blues, at this time included Lester Young, Ben Webster, Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Thelonious Monk, Charles Mingus, Art Tatum, Bill Evans, Ahmad Jamal, Oscar Peterson, Gil Evans, Jerry Mulligan, Cannonball Adderley, Stan Getz, Chet Baker, Dave Brubeck, Art Blakey, Max Roach, the Miles Davis Quintet, the Modern Jazz Quartet, Ella Fitzgerald, Ray Charles, Sarah Vaughan, Dinah Washington, Nina Simone, and Billie Holiday.
The American folk music revival became a phenomenon in the United States in the 1950s to mid-1960s with the initial success of The Weavers who popularized the genre. Their sound, and their broad repertoire of traditional folk material and topical songs inspired other groups such as the Kingston Trio, the Chad Mitchell Trio, The New Christy Minstrels, and the "collegiate folk" groups such as The Brothers Four, The Four Freshmen, The Four Preps, and The Highwaymen. All featured tight vocal harmonies and a repertoire at least initially rooted in folk music and topical songs.
On 3 February 1959, a chartered plane transporting the three American rock and roll musicians Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and J. P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson goes down in foggy conditions near Clear Lake, Iowa, killing all four occupants on board, including pilot Roger Peterson. The tragedy is later termed "The Day the Music Died", popularized in Don McLean's 1972 song "American Pie". This event, combined with the conscription of Elvis into the US Army, is often taken to mark the point where the era of 1950s rock-and-roll ended.
The 1950s are known as The Golden Age of Television by some people. Sales of TV sets rose tremendously in the 1950s and by 1950 4.4 million families in America had a television set. Americans devoted most of their free time to watching television broadcasts. People spent so much time watching TV, that movie attendance dropped and so did the number of radio listeners.Television revolutionized the way Americans see themselves and the world around them. TV affects all aspects of American culture. "Television affects what we wear, the music we listen to, what we eat, and the news we receive."
European cinema experienced a renaissance in the 1950s following the deprivations of World War II. Italian director Federico Fellini won the first foreign language film Academy Award with La Strada and garnered another Academy Award with Nights of Cabiria . In 1955, Swedish director Ingmar Bergman earned a Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival with Smiles of a Summer Night and followed the film with masterpieces The Seventh Seal and Wild Strawberries . Jean Cocteau's Orphée , a film central to his Orphic Trilogy, starred Jean Marais and was released in 1950. French director Claude Chabrol's Le Beau Serge is now widely considered the first film of the French New Wave. Notable European film stars of the period include Brigitte Bardot, Sophia Loren, Marcello Mastroianni, Max von Sydow, and Jean-Paul Belmondo.
Japanese cinema reached its zenith with films from director Akira Kurosawa including Rashomon , Ikiru , Seven Samurai , Throne of Blood , and The Hidden Fortress . Other distinguished Japanese directors of the period were Yasujirō Ozu and Kenji Mizoguchi. Russian fantasy director Aleksandr Ptushko's mythological epics Sadko , Ilya Muromets , and Sampo were internationally acclaimed as was Ballad of a Soldier , a 1959 Soviet film directed by Grigory Chukhray
In Hollywood, the epic Ben-Hur grabbed a record 11 Academy Awards in 1959 and its success gave a new lease of life to motion picture studio MGM.
The "Golden Era" of 3-D cinematography transpired during the 1950s.
In the early 1950s Abstract expressionism and artists Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning were enormously influential. However, by the late 1950s Color Field painting and Barnett Newman and Mark Rothko's paintings became more in focus to the next generation.
Pop art used the iconography of television, photography, comics, cinema and advertising. With its roots in dadaism, it started to take form towards the end of the 1950s when some European artists started to make the symbols and products of the world of advertising and propaganda the main subject of their artistic work. This return of figurative art, in opposition to the abstract expressionism that dominated the aesthetic scene since the end of World War II was dominated by Great Britain until the early 1960s when Andy Warhol, the most known artist of this movement began to show Pop Art in galleries in the United States.
The 1950s saw the birth of the teenager and with it rock n roll and youth fashion dominating the fashion industry. In the UK the Teddy boy became both style icons and anti-authoritarian figures. While in America Greasers had a similar social position. Previously teenagers dressed similar to their parents but now a rebellious and different youth style was being developed. this was particularly noticeable in the overtly sexual nature of their dress. men wore tight trousers, leather jackets and emphasis was on long greasy hair.
New ideas meant new designers who had a concept of what was fashion. Fashion started gaining a voice and style when Christian Dior created “The New Look” collection. The 1950s was not only about spending on luxurious brands but also the idea of being comfortable was created. It was a time where resources were available and it was a new type of fashion. Designers were creating collections with different materials such as: taffeta, nylon, rayon, wool and leather that allowed different colors and patterns. People started wearing artificial fibers because it was easier to take care of and it was price effective.It was a time where shopping was part of a lifestyle.
Different designers emerged or made a comeback on the 1950s because as mention before it was a time for fashion and ideas. The most important designers from the time were:
Christian Dior: everything started in 1947 after World War II was over. Christian Dior found that there were a lot of resources in the market. He created the famous and inspirational collection named “The New Look.” This consisted on the idea of creating voluminous dresses that would not only represent wealth but also show power on women. This collection was the first collection to use 80 yards of fabric.He introduced the idea of the hourglass shape for women; wide shoulders, tight waistline and then voluminous full skirts. Dior was a revolutionary and he was the major influence for the next collections. He is known for always developing new ideas and designs, which led to a rapid expansion and becoming worldwide known. He had pressure to create innovative designs for each collection and Dior did manage to provide that to the consumers. He not only made the hourglass shape very famous but he also developed the H-line as well as the A and Y-Lines. Dior was a very important designer, he changed the way fashion was looked on the world but most importantly he reestablished Paris as a fashion capital.
Cristobal Balenciaga: Cristobal Balenciaga a Spanish designer who opened his first couture house in 1915. In 1936, he went to Paris in order to avoid the Spanish Civil War, there he had inspiration for his fashion collections. His designs were an inspiration for emerging designers of the time. His legacy is as important as the one from Dior, revolutionaries.He was known for creating sack dresses, heavy volumes and balloon skirts. For him everything started when he worked for Marquesa de Casa Torre who became his patron and main source of inspiration. Marquesa de Casa Torre helped Balenciaga enter the world of couture. His first suit was very dramatic. The suit consisted on cutout and cut-ins the waist over a slim skirt, something not seen before. Balenciaga was a revolutionary designer who was not afraid to cut and let loose because he had everything under control. In the 1950s and 1960s his designs were well known for attention to color and texture. He was creating different silhouettes for women, in 1955 he created the tunic, 1957 the sack dress and 1958 the Empire styles. He was known for moving from tailored designs to shapeless allowing him to show portion and balance on the bodies. Showing that his designs evolved with time and maintained his ideologies.
Coco Chanel: After World War II the famous designer reestablished herself. This time Chanel introduced very useful clothing for women, the boxy suit. The suits created in 1954 were special because of the unique tweeds that were made just for her.Her ideology was to create comfort clothing that had function and made women look pretty and young. The suits had jackets, skirts and accessories such as hats and handbags. Her style was well known over the world and her idea of having functional luxurious clothing influenced other designers from the era. Chanel believed that luxurious should come from being comfortable that is why her designers were so unique and different from the time period, she also achieved her looks by adding accessories such as pearl necklaces. Chanel believed that even though Dior designs were revolutionary for the time period they did not managed to represent the women of the time. She believed women had to wear something to represent their survival to another war and their active roles in society. Coming back from a closed house of fashion was not easy for Chanel and competing against younger designers. The Chanel suit was known as a status symbol for wealthy and powerful women. Chanel influenced over the years and her brand is still one of the most influential brands for fashion.
The 1958 World Cup is notable for marking the debut on the world stage of a then largely unknown 17-year-old Pelé.
The following articles contain brief timelines which list the most prominent events of the decade:
1950 • 1951 • 1952 • 1953 • 1954 • 1955 • 1956 • 1957 • 1958 • 1959
July 26 is the 207th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. 158 days remain until the end of the year.
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This section of the Timeline of United States history concerns events from 1950 to 1969.
For the United States of America, 1945 to 1964 was a time of high economic growth and general prosperity. It was also a time of confrontation as the capitalist United States and its allies politically opposed the Soviet Union and other communist countries; the Cold War had begun. African Americans united and organized, and a triumph of the Civil Rights Movement ended Jim Crow segregation in the South. Further laws were passed that made discrimination illegal and provided federal oversight to guarantee voting rights.
The United States in the 1950s experienced marked economic growth – with an increase in manufacturing and home construction amongst a post–World War II economic expansion. The Cold War and its associated conflicts helped create a politically conservative climate in the country, as the quasi-confrontation intensified throughout the entire decade. Fear of communism caused public Congressional hearings in both houses of Congress while anti-communism was the prevailing sentiment in the United States throughout the period. Conformity and conservatism characterized the social norms of the time. Accordingly, the 1950s in the United States are generally considered both socially conservative and highly materialistic in nature. The 1950s are noted in United States history as a time of compliance, conformity and also, to a lesser extent, of rebellion. Major U.S. events during the decade included: the Korean War (1950–1953); the 1952 election of Second World War hero and retired Army General Dwight D. Eisenhower as President and his subsequent re-election in 1956; the Red Scare and anti-communist concerns of the McCarthy-era; and the U.S. reaction to the 1957 launch by the Soviet Union of the Sputnik satellite, a major milestone in the Cold War.
Balenciaga is a luxury fashion house founded in Spain by Cristóbal Balenciaga, a designer born in the Basque Country, Spain. The brand is now owned by the French multinational company Kering. Balenciaga had a reputation as a couturier of uncompromising standards and was referred to as "the master of us all" by Christian Dior. His bubble skirts and odd, feminine, yet "modernistic silhouettes" became the trademarks of the house.
The presidency of Dwight D. Eisenhower began on January 20, 1953, when he was inaugurated as the 34th President of the United States, and ended on January 20, 1961. Eisenhower, a Republican, took office as president following a landslide win over Democrat Adlai Stevenson in the 1952 presidential election. This victory upended the New Deal Coalition that had kept the presidency in the hands of the Democratic Party for 20 years. Four years later, in the 1956 presidential election, he defeated Stevenson in a landslide again, winning a second term in office. He was succeeded in office by Democrat John F. Kennedy after the 1960 election.
Fashion in the years following World War II is characterized by the resurgence of haute couture after the austerity of the war years. Square shoulders and short skirts were replaced by the soft femininity of Christian Dior's "New Look" silhouette, with its sweeping longer skirts, fitted waist, and rounded shoulders, which in turn gave way to an unfitted, structural look in the later 1950s.
Helen Rose was an American costume designer and clothing designer who spent the bulk of her career with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.
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