Category Archives: 1951-1960

“Coal History”
Selected Stories: 1950s-2010s

[…] “Topics Page” with links to 10 stories at this website that focus on coal history, coal politics, coal activists, coal & Congress, strip mining, strip mining history, strip mining politics, famous books about coal and /or strip mining, environmental & community impacts of coal, and more […]

“Richard Nixon History”
Selected Stories: 1950s-1970s

[…] This “topics page” includes links to Nixon & Watergate-related stories — among them: Nixon’s famous Checkers Speech; Nixon celebrities 1968; Nixon & Jefferson Airplane 1960s song, “White Rabbit”; Pentagon Papers history & Nixon “plumbers” unit; Nixon & Kent State; David Frost TV interviews w/Nixon post-Watergate; Paul Conrad Nixon cartoons; Nixon & the environment … and more […]

“Marilyn & Joe, et al.”
A 70-Year Saga

[…] This story covers the love affair of Joe DiMaggio and Marilyn Monroe…. He, the famous baseball player; she, the beautiful movie star – seen in the 1950s as the perfect, all-American, love story… But alas, theirs became a star-crossed union that ended in divorce – but not completely… With the celebrity- and Hollywood-obsessed media, their story – chiefly through the twists and turns of Monroe’s career in Hollywood, with the Rat Pack, and the Kennedys (and her premature death) – stayed alive for decades… Includes a history of related books, films, photos & magazine covers […]

“Stand By Me”
Ben E. King Music

[…] In the late 1950s and early 1960s there came a series of recordings by Ben E. King with the Drifters, and Ben E. King as a solo artist – hit songs that lit up the music charts and became soulful classics that still resonate today. The best known of these is “Stand By Me.” …This story reviews King’s career with the Drifters and as a solo artist, includes four full songs, two used in film reviving their chart performance (25 years later in one case), and how “Stand By Me” was used at 2018 wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle […]

“Smog Conspiracy”
DOJ vs. Detroit Automakers

[…] In 1969, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) brought an anti-trust lawsuit against American automobile companies for conspiring to hold back and delay the use of pollution-control technologies for motor vehicles. Called the “smog conspiracy” case, it alleged that Detroit’s then “Big Four” automakers – American Motors, Chrysler, Ford, and General Motors, along with the Automobile Manufacturers Association (AMA) – had conspired for sixteen years (1953-1969) to prevent and delay the manufacture and use of pollution-control devices for automobiles. This story tracks that case, the history of the Los Angeles air pollution behind its origin, details on some of the technologies held back, case outcome & protests, also pointing to the longer story of continued automaker recalcitrance in battling clean air and fuel economy laws to the present day […]

“A Season of Hurt”
Aaron Chasing Ruth

[…] Henry “Hank” Aaron, professional Hall-of-Fame baseball player for 23 years, held the all-time home run record at 755 for 31 years between 1976 and 2007… This is the story of how he achieved that singular athletic accomplishment under much personal duress, battling the Jim Crow south in the minor leagues, and later, a very ugly chapter of American racism, hate mail, and death threats as he approached Babe Ruth’s home run record in the early 1970s… But Henry Aaron was much more than a baseball champion, as numerous civic and civil rights awards attest, as well as considerable business and baseball front-office success… And most of all, he was a good and decent man who had only set out from Mobile, Alabama to fulfil his boyhood dream of playing baseball […]

“Music in Film”
Songs & Soundtracks

[…] This topics page offers more that two dozen story choices that include some focus on the use of music in film, whether in soundtracks or with notable songs linked to particular movie scenes, TV shows, or conveying special emotional impact or other quality… Among topics, for example, are: Samuel Barber’s “Adagio for Strings,” used in PLATOON and other films; “Philadelphia Morning” and other songs from Bill Conti’s first ROCKY film score; reggae music from THE HARDER THEY COME; the love theme from LOVE STORY; Carly Simon’s “Let the River Run” song for WORKING GIRL; DIRTY DANCING songs, “Love is Strange” and “Do You Love Me?”; two theme songs from James Bond films; a story on THE BIG CHILL soundtrack; and others. Among artists with film songs profiled are: Louis Armstrong, the Beach Boys, Fats Domino, Bill Haley, the Righteous Brothers, Link Wray, Moby, Bruce Springsteen, Rogers & Hammerstein, and others […]

“Highway Wars”

[…] Citizen activists’ objections to, and battles with, Interstate Highway projects in several American cities is the focus of this story… Beginning with superhighway imagery dating from the 1939 World’s Fair and General Motors’ Futurama exhibit, “highways & horizons,” profiles of freeway fights in several American cities are offered, including those in San Francisco, Boston, New York, and Washington, DC, along with a separate feature section – “Highways & Race” – on freeway dislocation of African American and other minority communities. Environmental activist contributions are also covered, as are “road gang” and highway trust fund politics… Also included are numerous photos and book-cover links to more than 30 freeway- and auto-related books and other sources […]

“John Clymer’s America”
The Saturday Evening Post

[…] This story offers a sampling of the stunning artwork of John Clymer, an American illustrator and painter who did more than 80 covers for “The Saturday Evening Post,” one of America’s popular large-format magazines that flourished in the mid-20th century, distinguished in part by its lush cover art that captured American culture and landscapes… Clymer’s work at the Post, from 1942 to 1962, was especially noted for his Western, Rocky Mountain, and Pacific Northwest landscapes and outdoor scenes, many quite stunning… A second part of Clymer’s career is also covered, referencing his work on wildlife, frontier trappers, Western history, and Native American subjects… Some of Clymer’s art now sells at $300,000-to-$500,000 [….]

“Charisse & Astaire”
Girl Hunt Ballet: 1953

[…] Cyd Charisse and Fred Astaire were two of the most elegant and exacting dancers of the 1950s, appearing as a famous dancing pair in a number of Hollywood musicals. A scene from one of those films – the “Girl Hunt Ballet” sequence from the 1953 film, “The Band Wagon,” via YouTube – is used in this story to highlight their dancing talents… There is also some review of how 1953’s “The Band Wagon” and Fred Astaire, had some influence on Michael Jackson’s “Smooth Criminal” video of 1988 and others, as well as the Jackson film, “Moonwalker”[…].

“Two-Sport Man”
Pittsburgh’s Dick Groat

[…] Dick Groat grew up in the Wilkinsburg-Pittsburgh area of Pennsylvania in the 1940s, and would become a talented two-sport All-American and collegiate hall-of-fame athlete at Duke University, then joining the Pittsburgh Pirates professional baseball team while also playing pro basketball briefly for the Ft. Wayne (and later, Detroit) Pistons in the NBA… With the Pirates, Groat would have an exceptional 1960 season, winning the National League batting title and MVP award while serving as team captain as the Pirates beat the NY Yankees in the 1960 World Series… Groat would also play on the championship 1964 St. Louis Cardinals team, and after 13 years in major league baseball, he returned to basketball, serving 40 years (1979-2019 ) as a color commentator radio analyst for University of Pittsburgh basketball games […]

“Big Game, New Era”
Colts vs. Giants, 1958

[…] Some believe it was one of the greatest football games ever played – the 1958 NFL Championship Game between the NY Giants and Baltimore Colts…Johnny Unitas, Raymond Berry, Sam Huff, and Frank Gifford were among its Hall-of-Fame players… It was a game of high drama, multiple lead changes, exciting plays, player heroics, and more – plus a first-time “sudden death” overtime finish. Fifty years later, “greatest” and “best” game accolades came from all quarters, with multiple books, TV shows, and media reports… This story recounts some of that history, drawing the conclusion that it does offer an historic demarcation from which pro football went “big time” in terms of fan base, media coverage, cultural prominence, celebrity players, and big money investment […]

“The M&M Boys”
Summer of 1961

[…] Baseball fans in the summer of 1961 had a special treat that brought them to the sports pages daily. A “home run race” developed that summer between two New York Yankee teammates: Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris. They were seeking to topple the venerable single-season home run mark of 60 set by Babe Ruth in 1927 – which Maris broke with his 61st home run on the last day of the season… This story provides a detailed account of the Mantle-Maris race — controversies and personal travail included — along with photos, press accounts, game-by-game home run tabulations, and the books and one film that followed in its wake […]

“Goffin and King”
Love & Music: 1950s-2010s

[…] For a time in the 1950s-1960s era, Carole King and Gerry Goffin made beautiful music together…They became, at a young age, one of America’s most creative and productive songwriting teams, as well as husband and wife…. They rose to fame turning out pop and rock `n rolls for the fabled New York City / Brill Building song publisher, Aldon Music. Their story is one of great accomplishment, though touched by personal sorrow, love undone, and rocky travels ahead for each…. This story tracks some of that history, its music, and cultural context [….]

“Pop Music, 1950s”
Artists, Songs, Bios

[…] This topics page includes links to detailed stories on a number of songs and artists from the 1950s, among them: Fats Domino, Bill Haley, Elvis Presley, Bobby Darin, Dion Dimucci, Phil Spector with The Teddy Bears, Mickey & Sylvia, Link Ray, The Fleetwoods, and The Flamingos. Stories on two key DJ’s from that period are also included – Dick Clark and Alan Freed – as is a profile of American Bandstand’s 1957 guest performers […]

“Fats Domino”

[…]Fats Domino, a rhythm and blues piano player from New Orleans, was one of the early creators of rock ‘n roll music, although his considerable contributions to that genre are not always given the full recognition they deserve. This piece covers his career, his hit songs, and the role his music played in helping move the nation toward integration… Domino would sell more than 60 million recordings between 1949 and 1962, and in his full career, would be second only to Elvis Presley in total sales… Includes extensive photos and six complete songs[…]

“Democrats’ History”

[…] A topics page offering a selection of stories on Democratic politicians and Democratic history, including those involving presidential campaigns and various candidates, among them: Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, John F. Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Hubert Humphrey, Gene McCarthy, Bill Bradley, Jerry Brown, and others… Democratic celebrities are also featured in a few of these stories, including Frank Sinatra, Paul Newman, Bruce Springsteen, Linda Ronstadt and others […]

“Republican History”

[…] A topics page offering a selection of stories on Republican politicians and Republican history, including those involving presidential campaigns and various candidates, among them: Ronald Reagan, Richard Nixon, Bob Dole, George W. Bush, Sarah Palin, and others… Spiro Agnew appears in one story about 1960s pop music lyrics; Geo. W. Bush & Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi visit Graceland in another; and David Frost conducts his famous Nixon TV interviews in a third… Ray Charles, Frank Sinatra, Tom Petty, and Bruce Springsteen also have their “Republican moments” in a few of theses stories […]

“Jackie & The Twist”
First Lady History

[…] In 1961-62, an unlikely advocate of a popular dance called “The Twist” was First Lady Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy, wife of then newly-elected President John F. Kennedy… The song & dance were originally crafted in a somewhat bawdy version by Hank Ballard, an African American R&B artist. Dick Clark of “American Bandstand” fame, then recruited African American Chubby Checker to record a more conservative version that became popular & swept the nation… Jackie Kennedy, however, provided something of a cultural imprimatur on the song & dance by incorporating it into White House parties […]

“Jack & Stan”
Kennedy/Musial: 1959-64

[…] In his run for the White House in 1960, Jack Kennedy sought out the help of a range of VIPs – including sports stars… One of the latter was famous baseball slugger, Stan Musial of the St. Louis Cardinals, recruited by Kennedy while campaigning in 1959… This profile explores the help Musial gave Kennedy on the campaign trail as well as the friendship formed between the two, and their meeting at the 1962 All-Star game in Washington, D.C. and subsequent Musial & family visit with JFK at the White House […]

“Rock Around The Clock”
Bill Haley: 1951-1981

[…] One of the first major rock ‘n roll songs of the 1950s – and still ranked among the world’s all-time Top Ten best-selling singles – is “Rock Around The Clock” by Bill Haley and His Comets. It is widely considered to be the one song, more than any other (although a culmination of decades-long blues, R& B, and other influences), that brought rock `n roll into mainstream culture around the world. This story tracks the tale of that song, the rise and fall of Bill Haley (who became wildly popular in Europe for years but lost favor in the U.S.), the sometimes unforgiving nature of the music business, and the vagaries of pop music stardom […]

“Dutchman’s Big Day”
NFL Passing Record

[…] In 1951, Norm Van Brocklin, quarterback of the Los Angeles Rams professional football team, did what no other quarterback (QB) had done before or since: completing passes for a record-setting single-game total of 554 yards… His record still stands. This story also covers Van Brocklin’s career with the Rams and Philadelphia Eagles, his passing accomplishments in championship games, and his statistics in the context of other 1950s QBs… Also included is a listing of the 15 other QBs who have had 500-yard games, coming close to, but not surpassing, Van Brocklin’s record […]

“Mary Tyler Moore”

[…In the 1970s, CBS featured Mary Tyler Moore in a 30-minute sitcom as Mary Richards, an independent, professional woman working at a TV station in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The top-rated, half-hour show soon had a following of millions… It became, in many ways a statement of the times; a weekly story about women coming into their own, asserting their place in the male-dominated work world….This story also covers the career, real life struggles, and politics of Mary Tyler Moore, and also profiles MTM Enterprises, a highly successful TV production company co-owned by Moore…]

“Sinatra Stories”

[…]This topics page includes links & thumbnail sketches for eight Frank Sinatra-related stories at this website: two about women he married, Ava Gardner and Mia Farrow; two about his politics during the JFK years with the Rat Pack and the years thereafter; two profiling songs and their context (“Cycles” and “Summer Wind”); another on his early years as a teen idol in the 1940s; and one his photographer role for Life magazine covering the 1971 Ali-Frazier fight at Madison Square Garden in New York […]

“Magazine History”
Selected Stories: 1910s-2010s

[…] This “topics page” provides thumbnail sketches and links to 18 stories at this website that feature or include magazine-related content from the last 100 years – including selected cover art, illustrator profiles, advertising art, political stories, civil rights stories, business stories, sports stories, and more… Cover samples are typically included throughout the stories from a range of magazines – Time, Life, Vanity Fair, Esquire, Fortune, The New Yorker, Sports Illustrated, The Saturday Evening Post, New York Magazine, Wired, and others […]

“They Go To Graceland”
Elvis Home a Big Draw

[…] This story uses a July 2006 visit to Elvis Presley’s Graceland estate by U.S. President George Bush and visiting Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, as a segue into the history of Graceland, why it (and the Elvis Presley legacy) have become such a fan-based and tourist mecca, and how some big business interests have recently taken hold there, seeing an ongoing Elvis Presley payday […]

“Inferno at Whiting”
Standard Oil: 1955

[…] In August 1955, the Standard Oil refinery at Whiting, Indiana had a catastrophic explosion and fire of historic proportion that shattered nearby-communities and burned through the refinery grounds and nearly 70 large storage tanks for 8 days…This story recounts that incident with photos, a short video, and eyewitness accounts and also lists some of the refinery’s 1940s-through-2015 performance history & environmental record, including those of new owner, British Petroleum (BP) […]

“Athletes Advertising”
Selected Stories: 1900s-2010s

[…] This “Topics Page” offers thumbnail sketches and links to 14 stories at this website that include history about famous athletes who have lent their name and/or image in print, radio, and/or TV advertising on behalf of various products or marketing efforts. Among those included are: Olympics star and pro golfer Babe Didrikson; football stars Frank Gifford and Sammy Baugh; 1930s aviatrix Elinor Smith; baseball stars Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra, Babe Ruth, Christy Mathewson and others; soccer legends Pelé, Zidane and Maradona; and 1930s tennis star, Ellsworth Vines […]

“Environmental History”
Selected Stories: 1950s-2010s

[…] This “topics page” provides thumbnail sketches and links to more than two dozen stories at this website, including those covering: Rachel Carson & her book “Silent Spring;” Kentucky author & activist Harry Caudill; Cuyahoga River pollution history; strip mining at Paradise, Kentucky; Union Carbide and General Electric advertising (Carbide on pesticides, GE on coal); and several stories covering oil industry mishaps in Montana, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh & the Gulf of Mexico […]

“…A Richer Harvest”
Union Carbide Ads: 1960s

[…] Three of Union Carbide’s “giant hand” magazine ads from the late 1950s and early 1960s are used in this story as segues into some 1980s history on chemical plant safety and the use of toxic chemicals… Two of the ads tout the Union Carbide pesticide “Sevin” (carbaryl), and one boasts of the company’s agricultural science help to India, the latter of which leads into a review of the 1984 Bhopal toxic gas disaster and aftermath… Politics, regulation, and proliferating chemical use are also explored […]

“Falter’s Art, Rising”
Saturday Evening Post

[…] In 2014-2015, a painting for a ‘Saturday Evening Post’ magazine cover illustration by artist John Falter came up on the ‘Antiques Roadshow’ TV program, valued at between $200,000 and $250,000… Falter’s work, and that of other ‘Saturday Evening Post’ illustrators, has been rising in value in recent years… This piece explores Falter’s work for the ‘Post’ and some of the sales of those paintings in recent years […]

“Sea of Love”

[…] Story of the 1959 song, “Sea of Love,” by Phil Phillips – from the front porch of his girl friend to the top of the music charts, including appearances on Dick Clark’s American Bandstand and Alan Freed’s show… History of cover versions of “Sea of Love” also included – those of Marty Wilde, Del Shannon, and the Honeydrippers, as well as Al Pacino film, “Sea of Love” […]

“Harry Caudill”
Writer & Activist: 1950s-1980s

[…]Harry M. Caudill (1922-1990) was a writer and activist who did battle with the coal industry and political establishment in a life-long effort to improve his Eastern Kentucky homeland and the larger Appalachian region. During the 1950s and 1960s, he rose on the issue of coal mining’s destructive effects on land and people, publishing a landmark 1962 book, “Night Comes to the Cumberlands,” that helped convince JFK and LBJ to bring federal help to the region …This account provides an overview of his and his region’s struggles with coal mining, its environmental effects, and some of their battles[…]

“CBS Loved Lucy”

[…] “I Love Lucy,” a 1950s television sitcom starring comedienne Lucille Ball and husband Desi Arnaz, dominated TV like no other program had before, and few since. Generating 30-to-40 million viewers per episode, “I Love Lucy” (and subsequent Lucy shows) helped make CBS a leading television network, brought in tens of millions in advertising, and enriched Lucy and Desi beyond their wildest dreams, making them entertainment moguls with Desilu Studios… The“Lucy effect” has reverberated throughout the world for nearly 70 years – in TV reruns, TV publications, and the TV nostalgia industry – generating tens of millions well into the 2010s […]

“Lucy & TV Guide

[…]For more than 60 years, Lucille Ball’s famous TV character “Lucy” – the red-headed star of the iconic 1950s “I Love Lucy” sitcom – helped establish and enrich one of the world’s largest selling magazines, TV Guide. She and/or her show appeared on its cover at least 44 times, more than any other star or show. Those covers, Lucy history, and the history of Triangle Publications and the Annenberg family are all presented in this piece […]

“Mailer on Kennedy”
New Taschen Book

[…] In November 2014, the Taschen publishing house released its “JFK/Norman Mailer” book, a spiffy new photography/politics book featuring 300 JFK campaign photos built around Norman Mailer’s famous 1960 Esquire magazine piece – “Superman Comes to The Supermarket.” The 370-page book takes a unique historical cut on politics, campaigning, journalism, and photography… This piece provides an overview of its contents along with a few photos and a profile of Mailer […]

“Legend of a Mind”
Timothy Leary & LSD

[…]“Legend of a Mind” is the name of a 1968 Moody Blues song about a man named Timothy Leary, a former Harvard University instructor and research psychologist who became something of a “pied piper” for LSD drug use in the 1960s… This story includes the Moody Blues song as intro and period piece, and also a detailed history on Leary & associates, as well Leary’s run-ins with Art Linkletter, Richard Nixon, his prison escape, and his global flight from the law […]

“The Mazeroski Moment”
1960 World Series

[…] The 1960 World Series pitted the heavily-favored NY Yankees against the scrappy Pittsburgh Pirates… While the Yankees with Maris, Mantle, Berra & Ford out-played the Pirates, the Pirates won the series… Bill Mazeroski’s clutch home run in the bottom of the 9th in a tie ball game provided the margin, but there is much more to this 7-game series that just “the Mazeroski moment” – some regarding Game 7 with its amazing twists and turns – as one of the greatest games in baseball history. It also marked the end of a baseball era, loss of a certain innocence, and came at the dawning of Kennedy-powered cultural change […]

“Noteworthy Ladies”
Selected Stories: 1910s-2010s

[…] This “topics page” provides thumbnail sketches and links to 36 stories at this website on female careers in music, film, sport, politics, publishing and other endeavors… Some offer in-depth biographical profiles with extensive photos, and in the case of recording artists, mp3 song files… Among those featured, are: Ali MacGraw, Anna Q Nilsson, Ava Gardner, Babe Didrikson, Barbara Lewis, Barbra Streisand, Bette Davis, Billie Holiday, Carly Simon, Cyd Charisse, Dinah Shore, Gisele Bündchen, Grizabella from “Cats,” Janis Joplin, Lady Gaga, Keira Knightley, Linda Ronstadt, Madonna, Marilyn Monroe, Martha & the Vandellas, Meryl Streep, Mia Farrow, Pearl White, Petula Clark, Princess Diana, Rachel Carson, Rosie The Riveter, Sarah Palin, Skeeter Davis, Taylor Swift, the Ronettes, The Shirelles, and Tina Turner […]

“JFK’s 1960 Campaign”
Primaries & Fall Election

[…] This story covers Sen. John F. Kennedy’s run for the White House in 1960 – from the primary elections and the Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles, through the extensive fall campaign, long election night, and photo finish. An introductory narrative of JFK’s successful White House run is offered, followed by a detailed listing of his campaign itinerary for the entire year, city-by-city, along with related speech topics, photos, and other anecdote… Extensive sources are also included with additional photos and links to his earlier presidential campaigning in 1957, 1958 and 1959 […]

“The End of the World”
Skeeter Davis: 1963

[…] In early 1963, a song by country singer Skeeter Davis with the title “The End of the World” was doing something that no other recording had done then or since then – making its way into the Top Ten of four of the nation’s music charts… This story covers the history of that song, the biography of Skeeter Davis, and the success of some of her country and pop music hits… Includes photos & music sample […]

“Last Date”

[…] A couple of Floyd Cramer’s instrumental piano hits of the early 1960s are the focus of this piece, as the “countrypolitan” Nashville sound began to permeate pop music at the time… Cover versions of Cramer’s hit song “Last Date” by Skeeter Davis, Emmylou Harris, and Conway Twitty are also discussed, as well as his Cramer’s work with Elvis Presley and Chet Atkins […]

“Burn On, Big River…”
Cuyahoga River Fires

[…] This story explores the history of several Cuyahoga River fires in the Cleveland, Ohio region, circa 1890s to 1969; their influence on national environmental history & public policy; and some related music from Randy Newman, R.E.M., and Adam Again… Includes photos, political cartoons, and some music […]

“Moondog Alan Freed”

[…] In the staid Eisenhower 1950s, when pop radio featured mostly standard fare, a Cleveland, Ohio disc jockey named Alan Freed began to shake things up with his what he called “rock ’n roll” music – the upbeat rhythm & blues music then primarily performed and followed by black Americans… Freed soon made a name for himself with upbeat broadcasts and live stage shows, taking R&B and rock ’n roll to New York and throughout the country… Later hit with charges of inciting “rock ’n roll riots” and implicated in a national “payola” scandal, Freed suffered a reversal of fortune that left him dead & financially ruined at 43… His story and his impact on music & popular culture are covered here […]

“Bednarik-Gifford Lore”
Football: 1950s-1960s

[…] Includes back story & biographies of two professional football players – Philadelphia Eagles’ linebacker, Chuck Bednarik, and New York Giants’ running back, Frank Gifford – leading up to a famous November 1960 game & collision between the two… Also about a transition era – football prior to Super Bowls, media glare & pop culture focus – kind of “old school” meets “new era”… Workman-like players vs. those with media appeal, public personas & second careers in media, advertising, entertainment […]

“Celebrity Gifford”

[…] Frank Gifford, a talented New York Giants football player in the 1950s & 1960s, became a popular figure in New York & nationally and a familiar face in print & TV ads. He also became one of the first professional athletes to successfully venture into TV sports broadcasting, first with CBS and later — for 25-plus years — on ABC’s “Monday Night Football” program. Gifford’s celebrity, in fact, would span nearly six decades, helped in later years by his marriage to Kathie Lee Gifford, books & magazine stories about him, his own publishing, and a controversy or two […].

“The Saddest Song”

[…]“Adagio for Strings” by Samuel Barber might also be called “Adagio for Tears” since it is known for evoking very powerful emotion and sadness among its listeners. Used in film scores from “Elephant Man” to “Platoon,” Barber’s Adagio has also been used at prominent state & celebrity funerals, such as those for FDR, JFK. Grace Kelly & others – also played following 9/11. Electronic dance and trance DJs have recorded versions as well… This piece looks at the history and reception of “Adagio for Strings” and its related choral version, “Angus Dei”[…]

“Kennedy History”
Selected Stories: 1950s-2010s

[…This topics page provides links to ten Kennedy family stories at this website – 8 stories on John F. Kennedy and 2 on Robert F. Kennedy. The JFK stories deal with his career as a U.S. Senator and his White House run in 1960; his involvement with Frank Sinatra and his Rat Pack; his visit to Ft. Worth, Texas hours before he was assassinated, and a tribute site & statue erected there in 2012. Two RFK stories cover his work in Brooklyn, NY (and a commemorative memorial there) and his bid for the 1968 Democratic Presidential nomination…]

“JFK’s Early Campaign”

[…] In 1959, the third year of Sen. John F. Kennedy’s “unofficial” campaign for president (he would not formally announce until January 1960), he traveled extensively across the U.S., meeting with party officials, local press, and giving speeches before various interest groups in at least 27 states. This story includes a listing of JFK’s travel and speaking itinerary for the year 1959, highlighted by an extensive selection of photographs and a detailed source list of his 1959 speeches and other references […]

“Civil Rights Stories”

[…] This “topics page” lists 14 stories at this website which include civil rights-related content. Among stories listed are several related to civil rights & music; civil rights & television; civil rights & art; and civil rights & politics – stories which include performers & artists such as: Billie Holiday, Bob Dylan, Sammy Davis, Jr., Norman Rockwell, Petula Clark, Harry Belafonte, Martha & the Vandellas, U2, and others. Also listed are stories on Jackie Robinson and Barack Obama, and others with sections on Robert F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King […]

“JFK’s Early Campaign”

[…] In 1958, the second year of JFK’s “unofficial campaign” for president, in addition to campaigning for re-election to his U.S. Senate seat and winning big – which also figured into his presidential calculus – Sen. John F. Kennedy also traveled extensively across the U.S., meeting with party officials, helping other candidates in the mid-term elections, and giving speeches. It was all part of his presidential and Democratic Party ground game […]

“JFK’s Early Campaign”

[…] After JFK nearly won the VP slot at the 1956 Democratic Convention, he decided to begin campaigning early for the presidency in 1960… And so he began in 1957 – well in advance of the 1960 DNC – making speeches and traveling the U.S…This piece includes a listing of some of JFK’s travel & speaking itinerary for 1957, highlighted with photos & other information […]

“1960s Girl Groups”

[…] They were named The Crystals, The Shirelles, The Ronettes, and more. Their music was buoyant & optimistic, befitting a time when a new young president took office…The “girl-group sound” also became a key source of innovative song-writing & novel instrumentation, powering the industry to new heights with millions of records sold to approving Boomer kids… This piece reviews the era & its leading groups w/18 full song samples included […]

“1930s Super Girl”
Babe Didrikson

[…] Mildred “Babe” Didrikson, received her Ruthian nickname for her sandlot baseball heroics in the late 1920s… But baseball was the least of her talents, as there was little in athletics she couldn’t do. Babe Didrikson would become a standout track & field sensation at the 1932 Summer Olympics, and thereafter, in the 1940s and 1950s, a golf superstar & multi-tournament winner who helped change the women’s game for the better…Her story, and death by cancer at age 45, is told here with period photos and numerous source links […]


[…] In late 1964 a memorable spy film named “Goldfinger” arrived in theaters – the third in a series featuring British secret agent, James Bond, played by actor Sean Connery. The “Bond films” were based on novels penned by former British intelligence officer Ian Fleming… “Goldfinger” became something of a spy film trend-setter & template for 22 more “Bond films” to follow, one of the world’s most lucrative film franchises to date… “Goldfinger” song also featured, along with film screen shots, magazine covers & more […]

“Drew Pearson on Elvis”

[…] Drew Pearson, one of the best-known American newspaper columnists of his day, noted for his muckraking stories on politicians that appeared in his “Washington Merry-Go-Round” column, takes a crack at the “Elvis Presley controversy” in a 12-minute video commentary […]

“Dion DiMucci”

[…] Dion DiMucci – better known as “Dion” from his 1950s doo-wop fame – flourished as a pop recording artist through the 1960s. This story recounts parts of his career, touching on his family life, his battle with drugs, and how he explored various musical genres in later years, from Christian music to the blues roots of rock `n roll. Dismissed by some critics as being defined by his teen idol years, a range of artists – including Paul Simon, Bruce Springsteen, Lou Reed and others – have cited his influence. Six songs also included […]

“The Yogi Chronicles”

[…] Yogi Berra, the famous Hall-of-Fame, New York Yankee baseball player, in addition to becoming a sports celebrity of his day, also became something of cultural icon know for his “famous sayings” – sparking a bit of cottage industry in book publishing… Berra’s story not only captures the baseball aura of his times, but also shows how his sports popularity seeped into popular culture in a novel way, as Yogi Berra’s celebrity is now in its eighth decade […]

“Empire Newhouse”

[…] Advance Publications is a sprawling media empire of leading magazines, newspapers, cable TV and websites owned by the Newhouse family of Long Island, New York. In recent years the Newhouse/Advance empire has ranked among the 50 largest privately-held companies in the U.S. This article dips into the 90 years of Newhouse empire-building history, with some focus on the newspaper and magazine parts of the story, celebrity and political issues, and the Newhouse publishing and media impact on America culture…[…]

“Baseball Stories”

[…] This “topics page” provides thumbnail sketches and links to 14 baseball stories at this website, including in-depth profiles and photos of Mickey Mantle, Babe Ruth, Sandy Koufax, Pee Wee Reese, Jackie Robinson, Honus Wagner, Christie Mathewson, Lou Gehrig, and others […]

“Elvis Riles Florida”

[…] In August 1956, when Elvis Presley and his band rolled into Jacksonville, Florida for a few shows at the Florida Theater, they were threatened with jail time if Elvis became too provocative with his dance moves on stage…. They were scheduled to play six shows there […]

“Power in the Pen”
Silent Spring: 1962

[…] In June of 1962, a series of three articles under the title “Silent Spring” began appearing in The New Yorker magazine. The articles – excerpted from a blockbuster book of the same name by Rachel Carson – offered disturbing accounts of how chemical pesticides were contaminating the environment… A national uproar followed… This account revisits book, author, controversy & legacy at its 50th anniversary […]

“See The U.S.A.”

Note: This 2:05 minute video shows Dinah Shore singing the famous “See-The-U.S.A.- in-Your-Chevrolet” jingle. In the piece, she sings the entire song, adding her famous goodbye kiss at the finish. This ad appears to be from the early 1950s — likely the fall of 1952, as the Chevy models featured are for the 1953 model … Continue reading “See The U.S.A.”

“The U.S. Post Office”

[…] A series of 1950s Saturday Evening Post magazine covers are presented by artist Stevan Dohanos, who offered several Post Office and U.S. mail-related scenes from American communities and everyday life… These serve as indications of the importance of the local post office and U.S. postal system in American culture and local communities for both mid-20th century America and beyond, offering some relevance to the current debate over the proposed closing of some 3,600 post offices across urban and rural America […]

“Rockwell & Race”

[…] In 2011, Norman Rockwell’s painting, “The Problem We All Live With,” depicting a famous 1960 school desegregation scene in New Orleans, was displayed in the Obama White House. This article explores that painting and other Norman Rockwell civil rights paintings, as well as related history on magazine cover art dealing with African American and civil rights topics during the late 1950s and early 1960s […]

“The Jack Pack”

[…]“The Jack Pack” was the name briefly attributed to a famous group of 1960s entertainers who supported U.S. Senator John F. “Jack” Kennedy (JFK) in his 1960 run for president. “The Jack Pack” moniker was a variant of “The Rat Pack,” a nickname for a coterie of Hollywood stars and Las Vegas entertainers… Part 1 of this two-part story covers Jack Pack & Rat Pack history, with JFK and Frank Sinatra at the center, along with related stories about Sinatra’s politics, the group and their friends during Kennedy’s presidential run […]

“Reese & Robbie”

[…] A Brooklyn, NY “baseball sculpture” of Brooklyn Dodger players Jackie Robinson and Pee Wee Reese dedicated in 2005, commemorates Reese’s “arm-around-the-shoulders” support of black player Robinson on the field during racial taunts and fan heckling at a 1947 Cincinnati Reds game….This story covers Robinson’s breaking the color barrier in major league baseball, the sculpture’s genesis, Brooklyn Dodger history, and more […]

“Christy Mathewson”
Hancock Ad:1958

[…] In the 1940s and 1950s, magazine ads from the John Hancock Life Insurance Co. used history and famous people from sports, business, politics & the arts to help burnish its reputation – such as this 1958 ad on baseball legend, Christy Mathewson… Story covers Mathewson’s career, accomplishments, product endorsements & “good guy” celebrity as well as some John Hancock history […]

“Come Softly to Me”

[…] In 1959, a singing group from the Pacific Northwest named the Fleetwoods rose briefly to the top of the pop music scene with a few top hits that were sweet and melodic with good harmonies, engaging arrangement, and innocent lyrics… The style flourished briefly as the pop music landscape was soon to be transformed by the Beatles and other British groups a few years later…But for a time, the Fleetwoods’ sound became very popular […]

“Love is Strange”

[…] In January 1957, a new song with the title “Love is Strange” by two artists known as “Mickey & Sylvia” became a top hit on the R&B and pop music charts and a million-seller… Thirty years later, the song had a revival of sorts with the 1987 film “Dirty Dancing” when the song was used as a background piece for a practice dance session with Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey […]

“To Know, Know…Him”

[…] In 2010, a hit song that was written more than 50 years ago by a rock-n roll legend and convicted murderer Phil Spector, and became a 1958 hit with The Teddy Bears, was used in a sweetly-portrayed TV ad by Humana Health Care…The ad depicts a series of loving scenes between grandchildren and their grandparents… Story covers song, Teddy Bears & Phil Spector history […]

“Remington’s West”
Hancock Ad:1959

[…] During the 1950s, the John Hancock Life Insurance Co. ran a series of low-keyed print advertisements that touted historic figures from the nation’s past. In 1959, one of these focused on Frederic Remington, the famous artist of the American West. This story examines that ad, Remington’s work, and the John Hancock “historical figures” advertising campaign […]

“Bandstand Performers”

[…] In August 1957, American Bandstand, a new television show was being broadcast that featured teenagers dancing to the new rock ‘n roll music. The show had just “gone national” on the ABC television network… It soon became a place where new talent could be seen, as host Dick Clark allotted featured spots for new acts to perform their songs….In 1957, some 200 guests appeared….Story includes listing of dates & artists […]

“At The Hop”

[…] They began singing on Philadelphia street corners in the mid-1950s…They were just teenagers, 14 and 15 years old…. They had cut a record locally, and in December 1957 caught a big break, when Dick Clark at ‘American Bandstand’ asked them to fill-in for a last-minute cancellation… Their recording, “At The Hop,” shot to No.1 on the charts and their lives were forever changed […]

“Pitcher Perfect”

[…] There are only three people in all of baseball history who have done it: win three “triple crowns” in pitching. Sandy Koufax is one of them. He garnered this distinction during his magical years on the pitching mound with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1963, 1965 and 1966 – a memorable time for baseball…But Sandy Koufax almost missed these years, as he tossed his glove and spikes into the trash at one point, believing he was through with baseball […]

“Harlem Nocturne”

[…] “Harlem Nocturne” is a saxophone-saturated song that has had a long shelf life. It first found fame in the late 1930s’ jazz and big band era…More than 20 years later, and again nearly 50 years after its first release, “Harlem Nocturne” found popular appeal – first in a sultry1959-1960 version by The Viscounts from New Jersey, and again in the 1980s’ as the signature crime show theme song for “The Mike Hammer” TV series… This story includes the full song and covers its history […]

“Rumble” Riles Censors

[…] A guitar tune written in 1958 has the distinction of being the only instrumental song ever banned for radio play in the U.S. The song’s name was “Rumble,” performed by a guitarist named Link Wray and his band, the Rayman… Link Wray became an influential guitar rocker, credited with the invention of the power chord and other guitar innovations… His songs were used in films such as “Pulp Fiction”, “Blow”, and “Desperado” […]

“Gifford For Luckies”

[…] Frank Gifford, a famous professional football player with the New York Giants in the 1950s and 1960s, is shown in early 1960s’ magazine ads for the Lucky Strike cigarette brand…. Gifford’s football achievements are also covered, as well as some of his second career as a sports broadcaster on Monday Night Football and as husband of Kathie Lee Gifford […]

“Mantle’s Griffith Shot”
April 1953

[…] In mid-April 1953, a young baseball player named Micky Mantle of the New York Yankees hit one of the longest home runs ever in a game against the Washington Senators at Griffith Stadium in Washington, D.C…This article includes some of the historic press coverage of that home run, some of the controversy that followed it, and a look at the power of Mickey Mantle is some of his other famous home runs… Several interesting photos and magazine covers are also included […]

“Wayne For Camels”

[…] John Wayne, the popular Hollywood film star of the 1950s, became one of a number of celebrities, sports stars, and other famous individuals to participate in cigarette and tobacco-product advertising in the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s… This short article examines two of Wayne’s print ads, some of his film history during that period, and his personal battles with cancer […]

“Legs: Cyd Charisse”

[…] From the late 1940s through the 1960s, a classically-trained dancer named Cyd Charisse helped bring a new style of dance to Hollywood film during the Golden Age of the MGM musical. Dancing with partners such as Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire, and others in some of the most famous films of that era, including “Singin’ in the Rain” and “The Band Wagon,” Charisse brought grace, beauty, and sensuality to dance in a way not often seen on film before that time, making her an audience favorite then and something of a Hollywood dance icon today […]

“…Keeps on Ticking”

[…] In the 1950s and 1960s, Timex, a brand-named wristwatch, became some- thing of an iconic American product through a long-running advertising campaign that used sports newscaster John Cameron Swayze as well as sports celebrities such as Mickey Mantle, Rocky Marciano, Ben Hogan, Babe Didrikson and others to pitch the product…. Swayze hosted 20-years of TV ads featuring various “torture tests” of Timex watches […]

“The Sound of Money”

[…] In April 2009, a European entertainment company named Imagem Music, shelled out an estimated $250-to-$300 million to acquire the rights to the Broadway legacy of music legends Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein — plus their New York organization covering some 12,000 songs, 900 concert works, 100 musicals, and 200 writers…This story covers that deal, and also the success, cultural impact, and history of R&H productions in America and elsewhere […]

“I Only Have Eyes For You”

…In the summer of 1959, a vocal group from Chicago named The Flamingos recorded an old standard from the 1930s — “I Only Have Eyes For You” — that rose to the top of the R & B and pop music charts… Their recording of the song gave it a whole new dimension, set in the “doo-wop” style — a version that continues to resonate with many listeners today… Some history of the group & their song is covered in this article…

Ava Gardner

[…] Hollywood film star Ava Gardner is profiled from her “country girl” roots in North Carolina to her discovery in New York City, her film roles, and her love affairs with other notables, including Artie Shaw, George C. Scott, Spanish bullfighters and others, but especially Frank Sinatra (separate sidebar)… Includes photos, film posters and magazine covers […]

“Dinah Shore & Chevrolet”

[…] Dinah Shore was one of the first television celebrities whose name became synonymous with a product – Chevrolet automobiles. Singing the “See-The-USA-in-Your Chevrolet” jingle on her popular 1950s TV show every week, Dinah Shore had the nation as her audience, reaching tens of millions…She became a super-salesperson for General Motors and a trusted national persona […]

“Ralph Kramden Statue”
August 2000

Close-up of Ralph Kramden-Jackie Gleason statue at the August 2000 ‘TV Land’ unveiling in New York city.      Ralph Kramden is the name of a fictional New York City bus driver who starred in the popular 1950s television comedy The Honeymooners.  Actor Jackie Gleason played the role of Ralph, who was a memorable, one-of-a-kind character.  … Continue reading “Ralph Kramden Statue”
August 2000

“Slingin’ Sammy”

[…] Sammy Baugh had come out of the college ranks from TCU as an innovative “passing” back, then a rarity in professional football. Baugh’s professional career would be played entirely with the Washington Redskins over 16 years, where, with the forward pass, he helped revolutionize pro-football, adding to its excitement and drama, and winning the moniker, “Slingin’ Sammy” […]

“Sixteen Tons”

The top song in America during late 1955 and early 1956 was a tune about coal mining — a song about the hard life and poverty of being a coal miner. Its title was “Sixteen Tons” and it was made popular by a singer named Tennessee Ernie Ford. The song had actually been written in the 1940s, its verse grown piecemeal from oft-heard phrases….

“Nixon’s Checkers Speech”
September 1952

[…] Richard Nixon’s political career almost came to an abrupt end after 1952 press accounts reported that the sitting Vice President had a secret “rich men’s” trust fund and campaign account supporting he and his family… The reports surfaced prior to the fall election with pressure on President Eisenhower to drop Nixon from the ticket and for Nixon to resign… Nixon fought back with a direct television appeal, winning public approval and elevating TV as a “magic” medium in Nixon’s view, allowing him to ignore print reporters […]

“Mickey Mantle’s 535th”
19 September 1968

[…] In later years Mickey Mantle would joke half heartedly about his hobbled, late-career performance: “Hitting the ball was easy,” he would say. “Running around the bases was the hard part.” Those who played with Mantle, however, knew it wasn’t funny. In the above photo, you can almost see him wincing as he ran the bases […]

“Dream Lover”

[…] Bobby Darin’s music and film career lasted a short 15 years, ending in his premature death at age 37. But for a time, Bobby Darin set the entertainment world on fire, topping the pop music charts, becoming a successful Las Vegas headliner, Hollywood actor, and film-score writer. Along the way he married actress Sandra Dee, became a social & political activist, and had a change of life after Bobby Kennedy’s assassination […]

“American Bandstand”

[…] “American Bandstand” was a TV dance show that began in Philadelphia, PA in the 1950s. It became an important arbiter of rock `n roll in American culture, enabling a giant rock music business to explode nationally with the help of Baby Boomer kids… The show also became synonymous with its principal creator & DJ, Dick Clark, who parlayed the show into other entertainment ventures making him a wealthy man […]

“Person to Person”

[…] Among the first television shows to bring celebrities into the homes of millions of Americans was “Person to Person,” a 1950s show produced by CBS. “Person to Person” was created by the legendary newsman, Edward R. Murrow, a celebrity himself who first gained notoriety on radio […]

“Rocker Supreme”

[…]She walked away from her husband and a successful musical career with some loose pocket change, a gasoline credit card, and little else. It was early July 1976… For a time, she relied on friends and food stamps to survive… But Tina Turner never lost her moxie… By 2005, Tina Turner had become one of the most successful female rock artists of all time […]

“The Kefauver Hearings”

In May 1950, a little-known U.S. Senator named Estes Kefauver, a 47 year-old Democrat from Tennessee, began a series of investigative hearings on organized crime […] An estimated 30 million Americans watched the ‘Kefauver hearings’ in 1950-51, some in movie theaters […]

“Profiles in Courage”
JFK Book: 1954-2008

[…] “Profiles in Courage” became a best-seller and was ground-breaking in its day, becoming one of the first books used to advance a political career aimed at the White House […] The book gave Kennedy a certain political gravitas and national recognition he did not have before, lifting him from the ranks of unknown senators […]

“Elvis On The Road”

Elvis Presley in the mid-1950s, before he became a fully-known national rock ’n roll star, was constantly on the road. During 1955 and 1956, he performed widely throughout the country, making numerous personal appearances, from high schools to county fairs, especially in the south […]