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As a history fan, I have many research resources available to compile information year-by-year. My specialty is putting popular culture in its news/historical context. Each year has its significant facts and figures.

1957, for example, was the most explosive year of the Baby Boom, with 4,332,000 births according to the U.S. Census Bureau. It's still the largest annual birthrate in the history of the world. I am among the many Americans born in 1957 -- I've competed all my life with these Boomers for attention, for schools, for jobs and for houses. And now, I'm competing with fellow Boomers, and the many millions more born in the years since, out here in cyberspace. Isn't modern life great? I can custom-create a "TimeLine" to order for a fee; e-mail me at for details.


"The first artificial earth satellite in the world ... was successfully launched in the U.S.S.R. .... The new socialist society turns even the most daring of man's dreams into reality." - Tass, the official Soviet news agency, announcing the October 4 launch of Sputnik I


The Cold War and the Space Race dominate the news for the year ... The United Nations' Emergency Force is the first multi-national peacekeeping force in the world ... Following Israel's 1956 invasion of the Sinai Peninsula and Britain's and France's bombing of Egypt, a United Nations-enforced truce takes hold in the region ... In January, 1957, British Prime Minister Anthony Eden resigns (he cites ill health) and Harold McMillan is sworn in ... Later in the year, Britain becomes a nuclear power, by exploding an H-bomb at Christmas Island ... The United States explodes its first underground nuclear test in a tunnel near Las Vegas in September ... Also in the U.S., President Dwight D. Eisenhower asks Congress for the power to send troops to the Middle East to curb the spread of Communism. The policy, which is passed on March 9, is called the Eisenhower Doctrine ... The U.S. loans money to Poland, while the U.S.S.R. sends aid to Syria ... With the Cold War in full swing, Russia refuses to agree to aerial inspection by the U.S. Eisenhower proposes a two-year test ban, while the Soviets announce the successful firing of an ICBM, or Intercontinental Ballistic Missile ... Ghana, a new nation, is formed in Africa ... An unsuccessful coup to overthrow Fulgencio Batista results in 46 deaths in Cuba ... The McClellan Committee denounces the Teamsters Union and the controversial, flamboyant Jimmy Hoffa, who is elected later in the year as Teamster president despite the union's expulsion from the AFL-CIO ... The Rev. Billy Graham hosts a revival meeting at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx and draws 92,000 faithful ... The Arkansas National Guard is called in to block black students from Little Rock's Central High School. Five days later, Ike signs the first civil rights laws into the books since Reconstruction. Eisenhower ultimately sends in federal troops to stop the "mob rule" in the town and enforce the court-ordered desegregation ... In October, The U.S.S.R. shocks the world and especially the U.S. with the launch of Sputnik I, the first space satellite. Aside from instilling massive paranoia in the minds of Americans, the launch marks the start of the space race, as well as the official dawn of the Space Age ... The Russians waste no time, and launch a second satellite, Sputnik II, before year's end. The rocket sends a dog, Laika, into orbit ... The Police, in a concerted effort to break the national mob organization commonly known as the Mafia, raids a top Mafia meeting at Appalachin, New York ... It's open warfare on mobsters all year long - Albert Anastasia is shot in a barber's chair at the New York Park Sheraton Hotel; Frank Scalice is shot at a fruit stand in the Bronx; Frank Costello is murdered in an apartment ... The first U.S. satellite explodes at Cape Canaveral, Florida; at the end of the year, America successfully tests its first Atlas ICBM ... Notable deaths for the year include Humphrey Bogart, modern sculptor Constantin Brancusi, explorer Richard E. Byrd, swing bandleader Jimmy Dorsey, anti-Communist Senator Joe McCarthy, composers Jean Sibelius and Arturo Toscanini and filmmaker Erich von Stroheim.


The average salary for Americans is $4,230; a teacher makes about $4,085, while a factory worker makes $4,786 and a doctor $22,100 ... A typical teenager's weekly allowance ranges from under $5 for a 13-year-old to over $15 for an 18-year-old ... Movies cost 75 cents for adults, 60 cents for teens and a quarter for kids. Popcorn costs 15 cents a box ... A milk shake at the local drive-in (a relatively new phenomenon) are 29 cents ... A 53-piece set of Noritake china costs $39.95; Cannon color sheets are $49 for a set; Martex Giant Towels $1.49; a twin foam mattress set $124.50; a four-piece cherry bedroom set from Sloane's costs $524 ... Montgomery Ward's catalog for the year includes a Shetland pony for $300 and a Great Dane for $120 ... The first large U.S. nuclear power plant goes on-line at Shippensport, Pennsylvania, and supplies electricity to Pittsburgh residents ... The first nonstop flight around the world is completed by a U.S. B-52 Superfortress bomber, in 45 hours and 19 minutes ... The first nuclear submarine, the Nautilus, runs 60,000 miles on 8.3 pounds of fuel ... The Automobile Manufacturers' Association announces that U.S. car makers will no longer pitch speed and horsepower in ads. U.S. auto companies also cease actively supporting auto racing ... Ford Motor Company spends $250 million designing, manufacturing and marketing (to no avail) a new model, the Edsel, to compete with General Motors' Oldsmobile ... Cadillac's Eldorado Brougham features lipstick, a vanity case and four gold cups on its dashboard ... 200,000 Beetles are sold in the U.S. by Volkswagen ... A Corvette lists at $3,465; a Chevy $1,885 ... Dual headlights become standard equipment on most cars ... National Geographic announces its crews have found the resting place of Captain Bligh's real-life Bounty, the ship scuttled following a 1790 mutiny and made famous in several movies ... The U.S. budget sets a new peacetime record, at $71,807 billion ... Plastic truly is the wave of the future - it's now a $2 billion industry ... A thousand computers are manufactured and shipped this year ... Margarine outsells butter for the first time, at an average per-person consumption of 8.6 pounds as opposed to butter's 8.3 ... Senator Strom Thurmond, a Democratic senator from South Carolina, sets a new record for speechifying in Congress, when he rages in a filibuster for 24 hours and 27 minutes against civil rights legislation ... Familiar celebrities for the year include Martin Luther King, Jr., Senator John F. Kennedy, baseball stars Mickey Mantle and Hank Aaron, Leonard Bernstein, actors Kim Novak and Yul Brynner, singer Pat Boone ... Popular words and phrases include "brinkmanship" (a term coined by John Foster Dulles to refer to diplomacy in the nuclear age), "beat," "beat generation" and "beatnik," "-nik" (placed at the end of almost any word in the wake of Sputnik) ... Darvon, a new wonder drug prescribed as a non-addictive painkiller to replace Codeine, is introduced ... Whiskey-flavored toothpaste briefly bites into the dental market ... Fads include Hula Hoops, FRISBEEs, bowling, Silly Putty, Slinky and the Bunny Hop ... A new advertising slogan is introduced for a brand of cigarettes: "Winstons taste good like a cigarette should" ... The state of Massachusetts overturns the witchcraft convictions of six Salem women - in 1692.


The 3/4 length "car coat" becomes a uniform of suburban living ... Men take on the Ivy League look (pre-preppie), with buttoned-down shirts, three-button single-breasted suits and pants without pleats ... Women fall for the unfitted, loose-fitting sack dress ... Hairstyles start to reflect rock-and-roll trends; the DA, or "duck's ass" is requisite for macho boys, who are thrown out of school for the slicked-back style ... Women head for the beauty parlor for apricot and silver-colored hair ... Favorite styles include poodle haircuts, saddle shoes, rolled-up white socks, crinolines, boyfriends' varsity sweaters, Dog Patch outfits and, briefly, raccoon coats ... The Sweater Girl bra reaches its peak(s) of popularity.


American tennis player Althea Gibson is the first black woman to win the singles crown at Wimbledon ... On September 24, the final game is played at Ebbets Field, as the Brooklyn Dodgers prepare to head across the country to Los Angeles. The Field was torn down on February 23, 1960 ... Also this year, the New York Giants move to San Francisco ... The American League batting champ is Boston's Ted Williams (.388); St. Louis' Stan Musial (.351) is the National League leader ... The top pitchers are Bob Buhl, Tom Sturdivant and Dick Donovan; most home runs are by Milwaukee's Hank Aaron, with 44 ... Milwaukee takes the World Series over New York in seven games ... In Football, Cleveland rookie Jim Brown earns a league-leading 942 yards carrying the ball. A record 237 yards were from one game ... Cleveland's Tom O'Connell is the NFL passing leader; Baltimore's Ray Berry the league-leading receiver ... Detroit wins the NFL Championship over Cleveland 59-14 ... The season's MVP is Baltimore's Johnny Unitas ... The Heisman Trophy goes to John Crow of Texas A&M ... In the January bowl games: Ohio State wins the Rose Bowl over Oregon 10-7; Oklahoma slaughters Duke 48-21 in the Orange Bowl; Navy takes the Cotton Bowl from Rice 20-7; and Mississippi destroys Texas 39-7 ... In the NBA, Boston wins the championship over St. Louis four games to one ... The NBA All-Pro First Team includes Paul Arizin (Philadelphia), Bob Petit (St. Louis), Dolph Schayes (Syracuse), George Yardley (Ft. Wayne), Bob Cousy (Boston) and Bill Sharman (Boston).


"Leave It to Beaver" debuts on CBS on October 4, the same day as the Sputnik launch ... Both "I Love Lucy" and "The Lone Ranger" end their long and successful runs ... Charles Van Doren, a history professor at Columbia University in New York, becomes a national hero and an obsession for his winning streak on TV's most popular game show, "Twenty-One," hosted by Jack Barry. Van Doren finally loses after earning $129,000 on 14 appearances on the program, by missing the question "Who is the King of Belgium?" It's later revealed that Van Doren was involved in a scandal that plagued the lucrative quiz-show industry, in which answers were given to players who advertisers wanted to win ... New series include: "Mike Wallace Interviews," "Tales of Wells Fargo" (Dale Robertson), "Perry Mason" (Raymond Burr), "Have Gun, Will Travel" (Richard Boone), "Wagon Train" (Robert Horton and Ward Bond), "To Tell the Truth" (Bud Collyer), "Bat Masterson" (Gene Barry), "The Pat Boone Show," "Leave It to Beaver" (Jerry Mathers and Hugh Beaumont), "Maverick" (James Garner and Jack Kelly), "Bachelor Father" (John Forsythe) and "American Bandstand" (Dick Clark) ... The top-ten shows for the year are "Gunsmoke," "The Danny Thomas Show," "Tales of Wells Fargo," "Have Gun, Will Travel," "I've Got a Secret," "The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp," "General Electric Theater," "The Restless Gun," "December Bride" and "You Bet Your Life" ... Five of the top-ten shows are Westerns ... The Senate Rackets Investigation, which is nationally televised, brings real-life crime-fighting to the small screen, led by Senator John F. Kennedy and counsel Robert Kennedy ... The television industry begins the widespread use of videotape, and the golden age of live TV is about to end ... Jack Paar replaces Steve Allen as host of "The Tonight Show."


New films for the year include The Bridge on the River Kwai (William Holden, Alec Guinness), The Three Faces of Eve (Joanne Woodward, Lee J. Cobb, Vince Edwards), Peyton Place (Lana Turner, Hope Lange, Diane Varsi), Sayonara (Marlon Brando, Red Buttons, Miyoshi Umeki), Twelve Angry Men (Henry Fonda, Sidney Lumet), Witness for the Prosecution (Marlene Dietrich, Charles Laughton, Tyrone Power), The Prince and the Showgirl (Laurence Olivier, Marilyn Monroe), Silk Stockings (Fred Astaire, Cyd Charisse), Love in the Afternoon (Gary Cooper, Audrey Hepburn), Les Girls (Gene Kelly, Kay Kendall), St. Joan (Jean Seberg), Paths of Glory (an early Stanley Kubrick film, with Kirk Douglas and Adolph Menjou), And God Created Woman (Brigitte Bardot) ... Oscars for the year (awarded in 1958) go to Bridge on the River Kwai (Best Picture), David Lean (Best Director, Bridge on the River Kwai ), Joanne Woodward (Best Actress, Three Faces of Eve ), Alec Guinness (Best Actor, Bridge on the River Kwai ) ... The biggest box-office draws are Rock Hudson, John Wayne, Pat Boone, Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, Gary Cooper, William Holden, James Stewart, Jerry Lewis and Yul Brynner ... The first "rock exploitation" movies, The Big Beat, Rock, Rock, Rock and Jamboree hit the screens.


Elvis Presley rules the airwaves and the record stores with hits such as "Hound Dog" and "Don't Be Cruel" ... Little Richards announces he's retiring from the rock and roll lifestyle after a year-and-a-half of wild hitmaking, to pursue evangelism and gospel singing ... As rock music takes over the pop charts, many radio stations adopt a new format called "Top 40," playing the most popular music in rotation to build familiarity with and for hits ... The first American stereo record is sold, Audio Fidelity's release of the Dukes of Dixieland backed by various railroad sounds ... The Everly Brothers' "Wake Up Little Susie" is banned in Boston ... Buddy Holly opens for Elvis in Lubbock Texas, and then forms the Crickets, the first self-contained rock band featuring bass, drums, lead and rhythm guitars ... The last new records that play back on 78 rpms are released; they're rhythm and blues discs ... The hits include: "Little Darlin'" (The Diamonds), "Bye Bye Love" (Everly Brothers), "Party Doll" (Buddy Knox), "Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On" (Jerry Lee Lewis), That'll Be the Day" (The Crickets), "Rock and Roll Music" (Chuck Berry), "Young Love" (Tab Hunter), "Young Love" (Sonny James), "Chances Are" (Johnny Mathis), "A White Sport Coat and a Pink Carnation" (Marty Robbins), "Come Go with Me" (Dell-Vikings), "You Send Me" (Sam Cooke), "Silhouettes" (The Rays), "Raunchy" (Bill Justis), Diana" (Paul Anka), "At the Hop" (Danny and the Juniors), "Kisses Sweeter than Wine" (Jimmie Rodgers), "Peggy Sue/Every Day" (Buddy Holly and the Crickets), "Little Bitty Pretty One" (Thurston Harris with the Sharps), "Summertime Blues" (Eddie Cochran), "C.C. Rider," Chuck Willis and "A Teenager's Romance" ... Rock may be all over Top-40 radio, but the year's number-one albums are hardly rocking - Nat King Cole's Love Is the Thing, the soundtrack album to Around the World in 80 Days, Elvis Presley's Loving You and Elvis' Christmas Album and Bing Crosby's Merry Christmas .


The Beat Generation takes over the publishing world, thanks to the publication of Jack Kerouac's On the Road and the furor over Allen Ginsberg's Howl , an extended poem that was originally banned but later allowed to be published ... Other notable books include: Grace Metalious' Peyton Place, Max Shulman's Rally 'Round the Flag, Boys!, Frances Parkinson Keyes' Blue Camellia, Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged, Bernard Malamud's The Assistant, William Faulkner's The Town, Art Linkletter's Kids Say the Darndest Things!, C. Northcote Parkinson's Parkinson's Law, James Gould Cozzens' By Love Possessed, Norman Vincent Peale's Stay Alive All Your Life and Jean Kerr's Please Don't Eat the Daisies .

Primary sources: American Chronicle (Lois Gordon & Alan Gordon, Atheneum 1987), Top Pop Singles (Joel Whitburn, Billboard 1990), Total Television (Alex McNeil, Penguin Books 1991), Year by Year in the Rock Era (Herb Hendler, Praeger, 1987).

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