Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
United States in the 1950s
The 1950s are noted in United States history as a time of both compliance and conformity and also of rebellion. Major U.S. events during the decade included:
- The Korean War (1950-1953);
- The election of Second World War hero and retired Army Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower as President in 1952 and his subsequent re-election in 1956;
- The Red Scare and anti-Communist hysteria of the McCarthy era;
- The U.S. reaction to the 1957 launch by the Soviet Union of the Sputnik satellite, a major milepost of the Cold War.
Compliance and attempts at social perfection were hallmarks of the 1950s domestic scene, where the two-parent families in which the father worked in industry and the mother remained home as a homemaker were idealized in television programs such as Leave it to Beaver. Social undercurrents subverting this view were seen in movements such as beat poetry, rock and roll music, and in motion pictures such as Rebel Without a Cause, starring 1950s icon James Dean. In fact, Dean and rock star Elvis Presley are almost universally seen as 1950s icons, as is motion picture actress Marilyn Monroe. Television became almost universally available in the United States by the end of the decade, and its social effects have been debated from then until now.
One of the most influential and most highly critically-acclaimed of the many books about the era is The Fifties by journalist and author David Halberstam.
Many Americans are nostalgiac for the Fifties, as it brings about memories of diners, racial homogeneity (both good and bad), Frank Sinatra and a general period of calmness.
- Yogi Berra (U.S. baseball player)
- Jim Brown (U.S. American football player)
- Maureen Connolly (U.S. tennis player)
- Otto Graham (U.S. American football player)
- Mickey Mantle (U.S. baseball player)
- Rocky Marciano (U.S. boxer)
- Willie Mays (U.S. baseball player)
- George Mikan (U.S. basketball player)
- Stan Musial (U.S. baseball player)
- Sugar Ray Robinson (U.S. boxer)
- Johnny Unitas (U.S. American football player)
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