The Andrews Sisters
January 6, 1945: Ten-year-old Elvis Presley goes shopping with his mother, Gladys, and buys his first guitar. It costs $7.75.
Pentecostal Holiness preacher Oral Roberts, twenty-six, has just ended his three-year Shawnee, Oklahoma, ministry: 119 saved, 50 sanctified, 32 received Holy Ghost. Roberts enrolls, secretly, in Oklahoma Baptist University.
Norma Jean Baker Dougherty (later to become Marilyn Monroe), eighteen, works for $20 a week, five days a week, ten hours per day, as a fuselage paint sprayer at Radio Plane in L.A., a plant that makes aircraft used for target practice, while her husband Jim, a merchant marine, is overseas. Norma Jean lives with her husband’s mother.
Late in 1944 an army photographer — whose commanding officer is Capt. Ronald Reagan — comes to the plant to take “morale-boosting” shots for Yank magazine. He tells NJ she belongs in pictures, not in a factory, and offers her $5 per hour to work as a free-lance model. NJ soon gets an offer from Blue Book Model Agency and begins appearing in “men’s” mags.
Twenty-year-old Hugh Hefner is a clerk/typist in the U.S. Army. “The only liquor that has touched my lips is Episcopalian altar wine,” he writes to his parents. He is still a virgin.
20 Franklin D. Roosevelt is inaugurated to his fourth term. Harry S Truman is vice president.
4 FDR, Stalin, and Churchill meet at Yalta. Alger Hiss advises FDR.
Actor Ronald Reagan, who tells Photoplay, “My alias is Mr. Norm,” and his actress wife Jane Wyman adopt a son.
The Japanese military command occupies Indochina. .
29 The last V-rockets fall on London.
12 FDR dies Earlier that day he ripped up his draft card, saying, “I won’t be needing it anymore.”
I Love Lucy
15 Allied troops in Germany begin to “open” concentration camps. Columnist Walter Winchell asks a Harlem resident how she would punish Hitler: “Paint him black,” she says. “Send him here.”
29 At Dachau, 32,000 inmates are freed.
Young Hugh Hefner
Poet and Assistant Secretary of State
Archibald MacLeish says, “As things are going now, the peace we will make ... will be a peace of oil, a peace of gold, a peace of shipping...”
7 Germany surrenders.
26 United Nations Charter deliberations begin in San Francisco. Alger Hiss serves as Secretary General of the conference.
Oral Roberts’s first healing: Clyde Lawson’s foot, crushed when he dropped a motor on it.
16 The first A-bomb is exploded at Alamogordo, New Mexico. Watching the explosion, J. Robert Oppenheimer, “father of the bomb,” recalls this verse from the Bhagavad-Gita: “I [God] am death, the shatterer of worlds.”
Roy Rogers, Trigger, and Dale Evans
A state department official says: “Review of the past thirty-five years' diplomatic history will show petroleum has played a larger part in the external relations of the U.S. than any other commodity.”
6 Approximately 100,000 die in the Hiroshima atom blast.
9 The second A-bomb is dropped on Nagasaki.
14 Japan surrenders. World War II military fatalities total 15,843,000. Among them: the USSR — 6,750,000; China — 1,310,000; Japan — 1,862,000; the U.S. — 407,000.
The U.S. has expended 2425 pounds of ammo per enemy fatality: three tons of bombs for each German; 1.5 tons for each Japanese.
22 Vernon Presley, Elvis’s father, buys a new home in East Tupelo, Mississippi.
Military studies showed that 80 percent of unmarried troops, and 50 percent of married men, had “full” sexual relations during World War II. For ten cents U.S. soldiers'could buy kits holding three condoms and a tube of lubricating gel; as many as 50 million condoms were passed out each month. Posters read “Sex exposure without prophylaxis is a help to the Axis,” while army pamphlets warned of the “amateur,” or “victory girl": “She is more dangerous to the community than a mad dog. Rabies can be recognized. Gonorrhea and syphilis ordinarly cannot.” The incidence of VD among servicemen during wartime years was 37 cases per 1000.
A labor leader tells the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce, “People have grown accustomed to new wage scales, new ways of being treated. Rosie the Riveter isn’t going back to emptying slop jars.”
2 Elvis wins a talent contest at Mississippi-Alabama Fair.
Half a million hear Ho Chi Minh, leader of Viet Minh committee, proclaim the birth of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam.
The Lone Ranger, Silver, Tonto
4 Entering fifth grade. Elvis sings “Old Shep” at a school assembly.
9 U.S. troops march into Tokyo and Korea.
12 A British commander arrives in factional Saigon and permits French POWs to execute a coup. The French takeover is complete in January of 1946.
Creature from the Black Lagoon
10 A thousand white students, protesting integration. walk out of the schools in Gary, Indiana.
The first “unbreakable” vinyl 78 rpm record is released: RCA’s pressing of Richard Strauss’s Till Eulenspeigel’s Merry Pranks.
Joe Dimaggio and Marlyn Monroe
30 President Truman tells business leaders they can afford higher wages without raising prices but warns labor not to expect war boom paychecks.
Shoe rationing ends.
Roberts publishes an essay entitled, “Sunday Schools, Our Sleeping Giant.”
The FBI’s J. Edgar Hoover puts Alger Hiss under surveillance.
13 Joseph R. (Tail-Gunner Joe) McCarthy, a 36-year-old Marine veteran, is re-elected circuit judge in Wisconsin.
23 Rationing of meat and butter ends.
Norma Jean, now nineteen, away in Washington State on a “modeling" assignment, can’t spend Christmas with her husband Jim.
“Race” records have begun to creep from Billboard's “Top Juke Box Race Hits” to its “Pop Singles Chart,” with Louis Jordan’s “Caldonia” number six on pop singles and Jimmie Lunceford’s version of Joe Liggins’s “The Honeydrippers” number ten.
Employment: In the U.S. 52 million workers have jobs, two million are unemployed. California teachers' minimum wage: $2400 annually. Per capita income for farmers: $1500, compared to $550 in 1941.
Infant mortality for U.S. white population: 31.8 per 1000 live births; for nonwhite, 49.5 per 1000. Federal grants-in-aid to dependent children: $13.50 for the first child; $6 to $9 per month for subsequent children.
Polio reaches epidemic proportions, with 25,698 reported cases.
Union membership is 15 million, up from 3.4 million in 1930.
There are 4985 strikes that involve 4.6 million workers.
Race relations: The NAACP calls 1946 “one of the grimmest" and reports “blowtorch killing and eye-gouging of Negro veterans freshly returned from a war to end torture and racial extermination.” Blood banks end segregation of black and white blood.
Weekly movie attendance: 82 million. There are 10,000 TV sets in the U.S., 7000 of them in New York City.
Housing shortage: Five million Americans seek homes. Two thousand Atlantans answer one rental ad. A 768-square-foot plywood prefab house, including lot, costs $5400 in Chicago.
Dr. Benjamin Spock’s Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care makes motherhood a fulltime job.
Jerry Lee Lewis and bride
Printed circuits are developed.
Even with materials shortage and strikes, record production hits its highest level since 1921. Bebop enters “race hits” with Lionel Hampton’s million-seller “Hey! Ba-Ba-Re-Bop.”
Hepburn and Bogart in African Queen
Jim tells Norma Jean. “Choose between modeling career or a home life with me." NJ nixes “home life.”
Roberts re-enrolls at OBU. A church member, discovering that Roberts is attending a Baptist institution, declares that he now “even walks like a Baptist.”
Vernon Presley’s father, J.D., takes off. Minnie Mae, Vernon’s mother, moves in with Vernon, Gladys, and Elvis.
10 The first U.N. General Assembly session is convened.
750.000 United Steel Workers walk off their jobs.
11 Publication of the Yalta agreement reveals Stalin asked for and received advantages as the price of the USSR’s entry into war with Japan. For the American right, “Yalta” becomes synonymous with left betrayal.
17 The steel strike ends.
26 There is a race riot in Columbia, Tennesee.
Richard M. Nixon, "the fighting Quaker,” is mustered out of the navy. Having set up “Nixon’s Snack Shack” in the Solomon Islands, he is rumored to have returned from the war with $10,000 in poker winnings. In Nixon’s home district, the GOP, desperate for a candidate to oppose incumbent New Deal liberal Jerry Voorhis, puts an ad in the paper. The newspaper’s editor suggests Nixon.
5 Winston Churchill, in Fulton, Missouri, warns of Soviet expansionism and coins the phrase “iron curtain.”
Twenty-year-old Hugh Hefner is discharged from the army.
Vernon Presley is made a First Assembly of God deacon. He and Elvis are invited to sing “If We Never Meet Again This Side of Heaven" at the Free Will Baptist Church.
Ronald Reagan denounces Communism, saying he will no longer permit himself to be used by “class warfare boys" as a “big-name dupe.” About his previous political views, Reagan says later, “I was a near-hopeless hemophiliac liberal. I bled for ‘causes.’ ”
1 400.000 U.S. coal miners strike.
3 General Hideki Tojo’s trial begins. American trial observers complain that Tojo picks his nose.
9 The coal strike brings the economy to a full stop. “Truman lets the public freeze while his guts quiver," the president of the National Association of Manufacturers complains. Truman calls the coal miners’ walkout a “strike against the government.”
25 Truman asks Congress for emergency strike-breaking powers and for authority to draft strikers into the army.
29 The coal strike ends. “When Harry walked back to the mansion, you could hear his balls clank,” a White House aide says.
New York Daily News headline: “PRICES SOAR, BUYERS SORE.” A ten-cent Sunday newspaper now costs fifteen cents.
1 Norma Jean, twenty, with a bad case of trench mouth, spends her birthday in a rented room in Las Vegas, fulfilling residency requirements for a quicky divorce from Jim.
18 John F. Kennedy, twenty-nine, wins the Massachusetts primary for a seat in Congress.
The Presleys, their budget shattered by inflation and Gladys's impulse buying, fall behind on their mortgage and are forced to sell their house. They move across the tracks to a shack near Tupelo’s black section.
1 An A-bomb is tested near Bikini atoll in the South Pacific.
Three days later, 90 percent of Bikini test animals show falling blood counts from radiation exposure.
5 A bathing suit shown in Paris is called the “bikini” because the suit has “ultimate impact.”
26 The Nuremberg trials end.
27 Gertrude Stein’s last words: “What is the answer? What was the question?”
29 According to a Los Angeles Times gossip column, Howard Hughes, hospitalized after a flying accident, sees Norma Jean on the cover of Laff magazine and offers her a movie contract.
31 Norma Jean takes a screen test.
Norma Jean becomes Marilyn Monroe (“When I just wrote. This is the end of Norma Jean,’ I blushed as if I had been caught in a lie,” she will say later, “because this sad, bitter child who grew up too fast is hardly ever out of my heart") She signs with 20th Century Fox at $75 per week.
1 The Atomic Energy Commission is created to promote the peaceful uses of atomic energy,
10 A race riot occurs in Athens, Alabama.
By Labor Day Nixon has smeared his opponent, Jerry Voorhis, as a dangerous Socialist with Communist Party ties. Nixon workers distribute 25,000 thimbles engraved “Safeguard the American Home."
Elvis, barefoot and wearing overalls, begins sixth grade. During the second week he sings “Old Shep” for homeroom devotions. For the next three years, unless it looks like rain, Elvis brings his guitar to class. Kids like his music, but not him.
Entering Macon, Georgia’s “colored” high school, Richard Penniman (later to become “Little Richard,”), thirteen going on fourteen, gets an E-flat alto sax. “It gave me many a headache.” says his sister. Leva Mae.
Oral Roberts becomes pastor of a church in Enid, Oklahoma.
23 A federal maritime commission discloses that 19 corporations operating government-built shipyards have made “estimated profits” of $356 million on investments of $22 million.
30 The FBI’s J. Edgar Hoover warns the American Legion that more than 100,000 Communists are loose in the U.S.
In the Nixon campaign’s last days, anonymous phone calls are made to Democratic voters. A voice says, “Did you know Voorhis is a Communist?” Then the phone is hung up.
5 The GOP, for the first time since 1928, wins congressional control. The New Republic notes: “Bow your heads, folks, conservatism has hit America. All the rest of the world is moving Left, America is moving Right.”
The congressional class of '46 includes first-timers Kennedy, Nixon, and Joe McCarthy. Hitting town, McCarthy says at a cocktail party, “Pretty good going for a mick from the backwoods, eh?” Nixon recalls, “When I first came to Washington, I was a bit naive about public service, I suppose, a kind of dragon slayer.”
Americans for Democratic Action forms in the wake of the elections. Liberal Democrats hope to prevent a further political backlash by carrying on their own “soft core” Red purge.
9 Truman ends price and wage controls, including wartime regulations controlling the maximum yardage of cloth allowed in any one garment. Curbs on rent and sugar remain, however.
1 A hitherto suppressed report on U.S. forces in Germany reveals an “alarmingly high VD rate" and “flagrant miscegenation.” There are 550,000 U.S. troops abroad, most in Germany, Japan, and Korea.
25 W.C. Fields dies from “drink ” He leaves a will establishing a school for “orphan white boys and girls, where no religion of any sort is to be preached."
The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists's cover, for the first time, shows the clock predicting nuclear holocaust. (The closer to midnight, the closer to the end of time.) In 1947 it’s 11:53 p.m.
Radios are owned by 37 million U.S. families. One-radio families listen 223 minutes per day; those with two radios, 285 minutes. TV sets produced in 1947: 170,000.
Passenger car production, hampered by the steel shortage, totals 3.5 million, 5 percent lower than 1941 and 66 percent greater than 1946. There are 32,000 traffic fatalities: 30.5 million passenger cars are registered.
Georgia abolishes the last prison road chain gang.
U.S. per capita consumption reaches 3400 calories per day, up 5 percent from 1940. Americans begin to eat meat five nights a week.
Bubble gum, invented in 1938, is now a national fad.
The transistor (replacing the vacuum tube). Velcro, Scrabble, and Frisbee are invented.
Mickey Spillane’s first Mike Hammer novel, I, the Jury, is published, along with The Diary of Anne Frank and Arnold Toynbee’s Study of History.
The Central Intelligence Agency is established.
Oral Roberts’s next-door neighbor, Mr. Gustavus, owner of the local Buick agency, says Oral’s car looks “pretty bad” and suggests a new one. But there’s no slack in Oral’s budget. Mr. Gustavus shows the way, selling the old car for the “highest ceiling” price. Oral acquires a “brand new ... long, green, slick Buick.” For Roberts, this Buick becomes “a symbol of what a man could do if he would believe God.”
1 University of Illinois beats UCLA 45-14 in the Rose Bowl. Hugh Hefner, covering the game for the Daily lllini, writes: "Who cares if Communism is moving across Europe and Palestine is caught in the throes of civil war?”
5 Gladys Presley takes a job at a laundry, and the family moves to a slightly better house. Twelve-year-old Elvis, wearing a white suit, appears on Mississippi Slim’s Saturday Jamboree.
7 Truman nominates Gen. George C. Marshall, back in the U.S. after spending thirteen months trying to mediate the Chinese civil war, as Secretary of State.
10 The annual budget submitted by Truman for fiscal year starting July 1 puts expenditures at $37.5 billion, revenue at $37.7 billion, military costs at $11.2 billion. Can an economy that boomed on war sustain itself now that the fighting is over?
15 Marilyn Monroe, appearing as an extra in her first film, says “hello” in Scudda Hoo, Scudda Hay. She begins an affair with Charlie Chaplin, Jr. and will soon have an abortion.
25 “Scarface” Al Capone dies — according to rumor, from untreated syphilis.
The State Department has “eased” Hiss into a nonsensitive academic post as president of the Carnegie Endowment.
6 Nixon joins the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC),
12 Christian Dior launches the “New Look”: padded hips, handspan waists, longer daytime skirts. The “Merry Widow” waist-cincher is introduced.
20 The British announce their planned withdrawal from India by June, 1948. (This prompts Winston Churchill to voice his “grief” at the “clattering down of the British Empire.”)
Richard Penniman, in trouble because of homosexual involvements in Macon, leaves home and joins Dr. Hudson’s Medicine Show. Richard sings the only nonchurch song he knows: Louis Jordan’s “Caldonia (what makes your big head so hard?).” He grows a pompadour and begins calling himself “Little Richard."
8 In Greece, a left-wing guerrilla movement has risen against the right-wing dictatorship, and bankrupt Britain has withdrawn its forces. The U.S. sends 250 army officers and 74,000 tons of military equipment to Athens.
12 Fighting Communism externally: Truman states his principle of Soviet containment, the “Truman Doctrine.” Telling Congress the U.S. must help “free peoples who are resisting attempteid subjugation by armed minorities or by outside pressures,” he asks for $400 million aid to Greece and Turkey.
22 Fighting Communism internally: Truman issues Executive Order 9835, a directive to search out “disloyal persons” in government. Without judge or jury, using secret evidence and, often, paid informers. 308 government employees are eventually fired as security risks.
God speaks to Oral Roberts, telling him to heal. Roberts holds his first healing services in church and begins his radio healing ministry. He mails out “anointed handkerchiefs,” 2 1/2 x 5-inch cloths cut from old sheets that have been prayed over — individually — by Roberts. “Use the cloth,” the instructions read, “as a point of contact for the release of your faith in God."
10 Jackie Robinson signs with the Brooklyn Dodgers and becomes the first black major-league baseball player in this century.
16 “Let us not be deceived — today we are in the midst of a cold war,” says Bernard Baruch, coining the phrase.
Ronald Reagan comes down with viral pneumonia, the disease that killed the Gipper.
9 The World Bank makes first loan: $250 million to France.
14 Churchill asks, “What is Europe now?” and booms his answer, “It is a rubble heap, a charnel house, a breeding-ground of pestilence and hate.”
26 A coup d’etat by former president Gen. Anastasio Somoza unseats the elected Nicaraguan government.
Marilyn Monroe’s contract is not renewed by 20th Century Fox. Broke, MM lives in cars and rented rooms, possibly working as a call girl, but through it all she stays in acting school.
5 George Marshall proposes the European Recovery Program — the “Marshall Plan" — to aid European nations. Congress will authorize $12 billion over the next four years.
6 The Taft-Hartley Act passes 54-17 in the Senate. It forbids closed shops, outlaws certain strikes and boycotts (including sympathy strikes and strikes by federal employees), and restricts the amount unions can spend on political activity.
11 Sugar rationing, fought by soft drink lobbyists, ends seven months early. Sen. Joe McCarthy, a gambler — horses, cards, dice, stock market — is deeply in debt. A Pepsi lobbyist picks up McCarthy’s $20,000 gambling note; in the sugar rationing debate, McCarthy claims no shortage exists. McCarthy’s nickname changes from “Tail-Gunner Joe” to “Pepsi Cola Kid” as, for the first time, he is accused of lying on the Senate floor.
23 After Truman vetoes the Taft-Hartley Act, Congress overrides the veto.
The Roberts family moves to Tulsa. “Wearing a maroon sport coat and white trousers and black-and-white wing tip shoes ” Roberts holds Tulsa’s greatest healing revival since 1922.
1 Marshall brands as “malicious distortion” charges that the U.S. employs foreign aid to secure political and economic domination of Europe.
5 An epidemic of “flying discs” (saucers) throughout the U.S. is dismissed by experts as a prank of nature magnified by "popular imagination.”
6 Larry Doby joins the Cleveland Indians, becoming the first black player in the American League. Brownie McGhee writes “Robbie-Doby Boogie” for Doby and Jackie Robinson.
9 2800 Greeks are arrested by the Greek government, allegedly to foil a Communist revolution.
26 All armed services branches are united into the Department of War.
One million vets are enrolled in college under the “GI Bill.” A debutante named Jacqueline Bouvier enters Vassar.
13 NBC radio bans crime and mystery shows before 9:30 p.m. EST to protect children.
18 The "Department of War” is renamed the “Department of Defense."
5 Truman urges Americans to observe meatless Tuesdays and poultryless Thursdays to conserve food for starving Europeans. The “Trumanburger” is introduced: a sandwich with a filling of mashed beans and barbecue sauce.
The USSR accuses the U.S. of turning Greece into a military base.
9 South Africa loans Britain $320 million in gold.
10 The steamer Honda Knot returns the first shipload of American dead from World War II's Pacific theater to San Francisco. The ship carries 3028 coffins.
22 HUAC, with Klan supporters and Nixon on board, opens hearings on alleged Communist infiltration in Hollywood. Jews are a special target of Wisconsin Congressman Joseph Rankin, who announces, “June Havoc, we found out her real name is June Hovick. Another one was Danny Kaye, and we found out his real name was David Daniel Kamirsky.... There are others.” Reagan, called to testify, refuses to label anyone a Communist and quotes Thomas Jefferson: “If all the American people know all of the facts, they will never make a mistake.”
HUAC toll: in 1947, 28 percent of all movies are “social-problem films”; in 1949, 18 percent; in 1954, 8 percent.
25 U.S. distilleries close for 60 days to release grain for Europe.
28 James Thurber writes to his eye doctor: “The inquisition will probably close in on me soon, and I may be led off to the gallows as a dangerous Red.... The retinue of persecutors grows very large in Congress. What this country needs is a good detached retinue.”
17 Truman asks Congress to reimpose price, rationing, and wage controls to prevent economic disaster. Taft denounces this program as a “step toward a totalitarian nation."
29 The U.N. divides Palestine into Arab and Jewish stales, both to achieve independence on October 1, 1948.
4 A list of ninety questionably loyal organizations is made public.
Ten Hollywoodites who refuse to tell HUAC if they are Communists are indicted for contempt of Congress.
The U.S. median family income is $3187, up from $3033 in 1947; $2621 in 1945; $2533 in 1944.
Largest auto production since 1929: 5.5 million cars and trucks, including 78,925 station wagons. Car prices increase 8.7 percent over 1947. For the first time automobile imports into the U.S. pass 1500 units: 21,977 new passenger cars are imported, most from England. There are 820 drive-in movie theaters in America.There are 27,000 new cases of polio.
From 1948 to 1954 Hollywood produces more than forty anti-Communist films: The Whip Hand, The Steel Fist, I Was a Communist for the FBI, The Red Menace.
George Orwell’s 1984, Thomas Merton's The Seven Story Mountain, and Norman Mailer’s The Naked and the Dead are published.
Miles Davis’s nine-piece group ushers in “cool” jazz. Pop hits include: “Nature Boy.” "All I Want for Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth." “Buttons and Bows.”
God speaks to Roberts, urging him to cease holding revivals in churches. Roberts starts fundraising for a tent.
6 The Greek army is advanced $15 million by the U.S.
12 The proposed federal budget puts expenditures at $39.6 billion, revenues at $44.4 billion, military costs at $11 billion, international aid at $7 billion.
30 Mahatma Gandhi is assassinated.
Orville Wright, seventy-six, dies of natural causes. On the same day, three separate U.S. airplane crashes leave fifty people dead.
In Memphis, black radio station WDIA begins broadcasting; Elvis hears his first “race records.”
In a Photoplay article entitled "Those Fightin’ Reagans,” Jane Wyman says she and Ron are through.
Little Richard joins "Sugarfoot Sam from Alabam," a minstrel show in which he dresses in drag and is called Princess Lavonne.
2 Truman presents a civil rights package to Congress. Southern Demos call “all true white Jeffersonian Democrats" to block it.
13 Czechoslovakia, since 1945 ruled by a coalition representing widely different views, begins to feel Russia’s iron hand. At a cabinet meeting the majority orders the interior minister, a Communist, to cease packing police force with his party. He ignores the order.
25 A new Czech government dominated by Communists is formed and begins a purge.
Albert Kinsey’s Sexual Behavior in the Human Male is published. It reports that 86 percent of American men have had intercourse before marriage; 70 percent have had intercourse with prostitutes; 40 percent admit to extamarital intercourse.
God speaks again to Roberts: “Son, you have been faithful up to this hour, and now you will feel My presence in your right hand. You will be able to detect the presence of demons. You will know their number and name.”
Louisiana State Senator Dudley J. (“Uncle Dud”) Le Blanc stirs up a patent medicine to “make old people feel young.” Uncle Dud’s “Hadacol” is a big hit, and no wonder — it’s 20 percent alcohol.
Columbia Pictures signs Marilyn Monroe. Later she will tell friends about the next few years, “I spent a great deal of time on my knees.” She falls in love with Fred Karger, composer of the From Here to Eternity theme song, and has the first of several more abortions. Eventually Karger will throw Marilyn over to marry Reagan’s ex. Jane Wyman.
31 The U.S. and Britain reject USSR proposals to put rail and road traffic in Berlin under Soviet control.
“At this writing, the President’s influence is weaker than any President’s has been in modem history,” opines Arthur Krock in The New York Times.
In Photoplay Louella Parsons writes, “Last Call for Happiness: This is Ronald Reagan’s Heart Speaking, with the Frankness that Would Be Given Only to an Old Friend.” Reagan tells Parsons, “I think Jane takes her work too seriously." Wyman wins an Academy Award as Best Actress for role in Johnny Belinda. She and Reagan are divorced.
James Forrestal. U.S. Secretary of Defense, tells the Senate that the USSR knows how to make an A-bomb.
28 The purged Czech parliament nationalizes 90 percent of the country’s industries and prepares for a new constitution based on the USSR's.
3 The U.S. Supreme Court knocks down restrictive covenants barring persons from owning or occupying property because of race.
14 Israel declares independence. During the next year. 8000 will die in the resulting war.
After four years’ courtship, Hugh Hefner persuades his wife-to-be Millie to “go all the way” in a Danville, Illinois, motel.
So far this year, Roberts’s office has answered 25,000 letters and mailed out 30,000 anointed handkerchiefs.
Socialist Party presidential candidate Norman Thomas makes his sixth and last bid for the presidency.
18 USSR occupation authorities issue orders banning all traffic between Berlin and Germany’s western zones.
20 Adjournment of the 80th Congress, called the worst in history by Truman, who has vetoed seventy-five bills.
Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis, splitting $200 of the total talent budget of $475, debut on Ed Sullivan’s first Sunday night Toast of the Town.
21 Columbia issues the first long-playing 33 rpm catalogue: from Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto to The Voice of Frank Sinatra. Each side plays twenty-three minutes, as compared to four on 78 rpm.
23 The telecast of the GOP convention reaches a nine-state area. New York governor Thomas Dewey is chosen as presidential nominee; California governor Earl Warren is his running mate. The GOP’s slogan: “To err is Truman.”
26 The U.S. mobilizes aircraft for Berlin shuttle service.
4 Three thousand tons of food are airlifted into Berlin.
14 Southern Democrats bolt the party, announcing they will run Strom Thurmond on a state’s rights "Dixiecrat” platform. When the Southerners stalk from the convention floor, dramatically stripping off their badges, a TV camera focuses on the mounting pile of badges. The gesture had been suggested by an NBC director; this is the first known "media event” staged specifically for TV.
15 Truman is nominated, along with Kentucky’s Alben Barkley for VP. Truman calls Congress back for a special session to consider anti-inflation and public housing measures.
26 Truman orders segregation’s end in armed forces and federal jobs.
31 Elizabeth Bentley, the “Blond Spy Queen,” tells HUAC that two former FDR aides gave her secrets that she sent to the USSR.
Truman denounces HUAC’s Commie-hunting forays as “red herrings” designed to divert attention from the inadequate GOP program, but a Gallop poll shows three out of four Americans support the spy hunt.
3 Plump, rumpled Whittaker Chambers, a Time magazine senior editor, is called to corroborate Bentley's testimony. Chambers accuses eight former U.S. officials of belonging to a Communist Party underground in prewar Washington. Chambers will eventually write in his memoirs (for which the Saturday Evening Post will pay $75,000) that his break with the CP began when, staring at his baby daughter’s ears, he thought, "No, these ears were not created by any chance coming together of atoms in nature (the Communist view). They could have been created only by immense design.”
7 Congress adjourns after enacting limited housing and anti-inflation measures.
12 Truman begins a 22,000-mile campaign tour. "Give ’em hell, Harry," the crowds yell — “’em” being the GOP, the big-money boys, the Commies. “I warn you,” Truman says in the 271 formal speeches he delivers between now and election day, “If you let the Republicans get control of the government, you will be making America an economic colony of Wall Street.”
16 Babe Ruth, fifty-three, dies. So does Margaret Mitchell, forty-nine, author of Gone with the Wind, after being struck by a taxicab in Atlanta.
Alger Hiss, accused by Chambers of belonging to the Commie underground, testifies before HUAC. Nixon recalls that after this day Hiss was “twisting, turning.”
17 Nixon arranges a confrontation between Chambers and Hiss. Hiss says he knew Chambers as "George Crosley.” “I do not hate Mr. Hiss,” says Chambers. “We are caught in a tragedy of history.”
In the first weeks of eighth grade, fellow classmates steal Elvis's guitar and cut its strings. Later in the month Vernon, fired from his truckdriving job, lashes the family’s belongings atop a 1939 Plymouth. Vernon, Gladys. Minnie Mac, and Elvis move into a Memphis slum, renting a room in a boarding house where they share the kitchen with sixty boarders. Vernon can’t find work. Gladys takes a job as seamstress at Fashion Curtains, then as a cafeteria waitress. Elvis enrolls in the 1600-pupil Humes High School; his voice begins to change.
MM is fired by Columbia Pictures when the studio’s president sees Ladies of the Chorus rushes. “What did you put that fat pig in the picture for?" he screams. MM, hoping to get Columbia to reconsider, calls on a Christian Science practitioner for advice.
14 Milton Berle — “Uncle Miltie” — begins as emcee for Texaco Star Theater, a one-hour Tuesday night show with a budget of $15,000. Berle’s salary is $1250 per week.
1 The California Supreme Court voids the state’s ban on interracial marriage.
2 Truman, getting votes from labor, blacks, most white minorities, and the “newer middle classes,” wins a surprise victory over mustachioed Dewey. (“It defies all common sense for the country to send that roughneck ward politician back to the White House,” says the GOP’s Taft.) Strom Thurmond, the “Dixiecrat," gets thirty-nine electoral votes; Henry Wallace, the Progressive, receives one million popular and no electoral votes.
4 T.S. Eliot wins the Nobel Prize for Literature.
8 Parnell Thomas, HUAC chairman, is indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of padding his congressional office payroll.
14 Princess Elizabeth, heiress to the British throne, gives birth to a baby boy.
15 Xerography and the Polaroid Land camera are given their first public demonstration.
17 Chambers, for the first time, publicly accuses Hiss of being a spy.
29 Kukla, Fran and Ollie debuts on nationwide TV.
Roberts holds his first annual Healing Waters Banquet at Michael's Cafeteria in Tulsa and completes construction of an office building whose neon sign reads: “Turn Your Faith Loose.” Inside the building is a trophy case stacked with crutches, braces, hearing aids, trusses, et cetera.
MM, broke, buys a $500 engraved watch for Karger. It will take her two years to pay it off.
Hefner and Millie arc engaged.
3 HUAC announces that Chambers has surrendered papers allegedly left in a pumpkin by Hiss.
15 Hiss is indicted for perjury in denying he passed along documents to Chambers in ’37 and ’38.
25 Amos Milburn’s “Chicken Shack Boogie’ hits number one on the R&B charts.
The U.S. population reaches 149.2 million — an increase of 2.6 million over 1948. 19.6 of the population is under ten years old.
U.S. car and truck registrations total 43.2 million. 62 million cars and trucks are manufactured — 85,271 of them station wagons. There are 31,701 automobile fatalities.
Telephones in service in the U.S.: 40.6 million. Americans have 160 million phone conversations per day.
TV set production is triple that of 1948; the average price of a new set is $280. There are ninety-eight TV stations operating on a regular basis, double the 1948 number; fifty are network affiliates.
Get-rich-quick chain letters and pyramid clubs become brief U.S. sensations, along with “scatter pins," mother-daughter dresses. Canasta, Caesar salads, and a dance called the Hucklebuck.
There are 41.442 new cases of polio.
Roberts mails 100,000 anointed handkerchiefs.
A blond Smith graduate named Nancy Davis signs a contract with MGM, taking two years off her age. She lists as her “greatest ambition" a “successful, happy marriage.” She will work in eight movies before marrying Ronald Reagan in 1952.
Jack Bailey, host of the popular radio show Queen for a Day, publishes a cookbook. His favorite recipe: Noodleburger Casserole, a mix of elbow macaroni, cream of tomato soup, creamed corn, grated cheese, bacon drippings, and ground beef.
New phrases of 1949: “atomic cocktail" (a medicine containing a radioactive substance), “cook-out,” “double-think” (from Orwell), “name-dropper,” “multiphasic.”
Pop hits: “Bali Ha’i,” “Some Enchanted Evening," “So in Love,” “Riders in the Sky,” “I Love Those Dear Hearts and Gentle People,” “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend,” "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.”
Two million Americans are unemployed.
1 The Rose Bowl is won by Northwestern, which defeats California 20-14.
Vernon, Gladys, Minnie Mae, and Elvis move into Lauderdale Courts Federal Housing Project (still in the slums) with 400 other families. Vernon finally gets work, loading paint cans for eighty-three cents an hour. Elvis mows lawns for pocket money.
7 Dapper Dean Acheson becomes Secretary of State. “I look at that fellow Acheson,” says a senator from Nebraska. “I watch his smart-aleck manner and his British clothes and that everlasting New Dealism in everything he says and does, and I want to shout, ’Get out! You stand for everything that has been wrong with the U.S. for years.’ ”
18 TV’s first sitcom. The Goldbergs, debuts. (Molly Goldberg’s on-screen husband will be blacklisted in 1952 and will commit suicide in 1955.)
20 Truman is inaugurated. Ten million Americans watch on TV — a number greater than the sum of all who saw presidential inaugurations from Washington to FDR.
22 Mao’s army marches into Peking. Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalist government flees to Formosa.
28 Sid Caesar opens in a Friday night variety hour. Admiral Broadway Review (later to be called Your Show of Shows, co-starring Imogene Coca and Carl Reiner).
Hefner’s Millie, a schoolteacher, confesses she’s had an affair with a fellow teacher. Several weeks later Hefner graduates from the University of Illinois. He tries unsuccessfully to sell two comic strips, “Gene Fantus, Psycho-Investigator" and “Freddie Frat.”
U.S. unemployment passes 3 million.
Out-of-work MM serves as a magician’s assistant and for $50 poses for a calendar “with nothing on but the radio.”
6 Cardinal Spellman in his St. Patrick’s pulpit warns Catholics to halt “Communist floodings of our land."
25 General Motors announces its first postwar price cuts.
RCA-Victor brings out the first 45 rpm’s.
MM gets a brief part in the Marx Brothers’ Love Happy. “Mae West. Theda Bara, and Bo-peep rolled into one,” Groucho says about MM. An influential lover gets her a seven-year contract with 20th Century Fox.
1 Suspense, the first TV mystery thriller, debuts and arouses controversy with an episode showing a woman drinking blood.
8 Ho Chi Minh. encouraged by Mao's success, announces his goal to reunite Indochina under a pro-nationalist government.
24 U.S. consumer prices drop for the fifth consecutive month.
Lillian Heilman sponsors the “far left" Cultural and Scientific Conference for World Peace at the Waldorf in New York. A thousand pickets surround the hotel. Splits between left-wing “intellectuals" begin to show: Sidney Hook, Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., James Wechsler, Mary McCarthy, Dwight MacDonald, and Norman Cousins all oppose the CSCWP.
Hefner takes a job in the personnel department of Chicago Carton Company.
6 Attorneys for eleven Communists on trial inNew York object to testimony by Herbert A. Philbrick, a CP member who secretly reported to the FBI. (Philbrick’s I Led Three Lives will be serialized in 500 newspapers; in 1953 it will become a syndicated TV series. The Massachusetts legislature will institute “Philbrick Day.”)
10 South Pacific opens on Broadway.
2 Playwright Arthur Miller wins the Pulitzer Prize for Death of a Salesman. (Miller’s salesman, Willy Loman: “It’s not what you do ... it’s who you know and the smile on your face. It’s contacts.... Be liked and you will never want.”)
Roberts publishes the first 3000 copies of If You Need Healing — Do These Things.
10 Alger Hiss’s first trial opens in NYC.
12 The Berlin Blockade ends after 321 days; 2.5 million tons of cargo have been airlifted in.
Billboard changes the name of its “hillbilly” chart to “country and western" and the “race” records chart to “rhythm and blues.”
Bill Nettle’s “Hadacol Boogie” is released.
6 Kansas goes wet, only Oklahoma and Mississippi are dry.
Stock prices on the N.Y. Stock Exchange reach their lowest level since May of 1947.
12 UC Berkeley asks its faculty and administrative officers to take non-Communist oaths.
15 Hugh Hefner and Millie are married in Chicago. A week later Hefner quits his $45-a-week job with the carton company and moves in with his parents.
24 TV's first Western, Hopalong Cassidy, debuts.
26 Fred Allen’s last regular radio show is aired.
28 The Alabama state legislature makes wearing hoods or masks in public illegal.
29 The U.S. removes its last postwar occupation troops from Korea, leaving 500 advisors.
U.S. unemployment passes 4 million, the highest level since the war.
8 A mistrial is declared in the first Hiss case.
5 A State Department “white paper" admits that mainland China has been lost to the Communists. Acheson calls Chiang Kai-shek’s government “corrupt, inefficient, and utterly purblind to the just aspirations of the masses of Chinese people.... The unfortunate but inescapable feet is that the ominous result of the civil war in China was beyond the control of the government of the United States.”
6 John F. Kennedy tells the House, “So concerned were our diplomats and their advisors ... with the imperfection of the democratic system in China ... and the tales of corruption in high places they lost sight of our tremendous stake in a non-Communist China. This House must now assume the responsibility of preventing the onrushing tide of Communism from engulfing all of Asia."
24 The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is established by the U.S., Canada, and ten West European nations.
Billy Graham opens a three-week “Christ for Greater Los Angeles Crusade,” promising “Glorious Music, Dazzling Array of Gospel Talent, Twenty-two Tremendous Nights.” The revival will be extended to eight weeks, and 350,000 will attend.
RKO’s I Married a Communist is released.
21 Mao announces the formation of the People’s Republic of China.
23 Truman's press secretary announces that the USSR has developed an A-bomb.
3 WERD, the first black-owned radio station, opens in Atlanta.
Roberts tells Houston reporter, “I know I will be immortal until my work is done.”
16 The Greek rebellion is defeated. (Investment capital from Esso, Dow Chemical, Chrysler, et cetera, soon begins to flow into Greece.)
The first UNICEF Christmas cards are issued.
24 Pope Pius XII calls upon Catholics to embark upon a “Crusade of the Great Return” to persuade atheists to return to the Mother Church.
25 Hopalong Cassidy's popularity puts cowboy hats under American Christmas trees. Also popular: Toni permanent wave dolls, Schmoos.
The world population reaches 2.3 billion; 480 million of earth's 800 million children are undernourished.
The U.S. population is 150.6 million, up from 131j6 million in 1940. The U.S. black population is now 15 million. White male's median wage: $2982; black male's; $1828.
Eight million cars are sold. (This is Studebaker’s best year, with a third of a million units sold; Volkswagen sells 300 cars in the U.S.) Twelve million American families own two cars. Auto fatalities: 34,763.
Polio’s toll continues, with 31,189 cases.
Advertising time sales for TV increase from $28 million in 1949 to $84 million. A TV trade association ad: “Some things your son and daughter won't tell you.... How can a little girl describe the bruise deep inside? ... How can you deny television to your children any longer?”
Candy bars account for more than one-half of U.S. candy sales; 320 million pounds of potato chips are consumed in the U.S.
The Diner’s Club card is introduced.
Bomb shelters become available, at prices ranging from $13.50 for a “foxhole” to $3500 for a model equipped with a telephone and a Geiger counter.
One hundred thousand copies of Oral Roberts’s If You Need Healing — Do These Things are in print. In 1950 1.3 million attend Roberts’s campaigns; 52,211 souls are saved; 96,173 anointed handkerchiefs are mailed.
Mills College president Lynn White, Jr.’s Educating Our Daughters, advocating separate, primarily domestic training for college women, is published.
New Orleans’ Fats Domino makes his first record, “The Fat Man,” which becomes a Billboard R&B hit. The number-one R&B act is the Johnny Otis Revue with Little Esther. Pop hits: “If I Knew You Were Comin’ I’d’ve Baked a Cake,” “Ragg Mopp,” “A Bushel and a Peck,” “Good Night, Irene,” “Mona Lisa.” The Downbeat and Metronome jazz polls show Billy Eckstine and Sarah Vaughn as top jazz singers.
Miltown, a meprobamate, comes into wide use as a tranquilizer. Antihistamines are popular for allergies and colds.
“A star doesn’t slip,” Reagan tells Hedda Hopper. “He’s ruined by bad stories and worse casting.”
In its hundredth year, the Levi Strauss Co. sells its 95 millionth pair of pants.
New word of 1950: “bit,” a contraction of binary digit.
Dearborn, Michigan, crowns “Miss Loyalty.”
Sam Phillips opens the Memphis Recording Service and begins to record B.B. King. Bobby Bland, and Junior Parker.
Little Richard tours the South and meets the Prince of the Blues, Billy Wright. About Wright, Richard says, “His make-up was really something. I started using it myself. It was called Pancake 31.”
1 Ohio State wins the Rose Bowl, 17-14, against California.
5 Truman bars further military aid to the Nationalist government in Formosa. He refuses to spend $75 million Congress has earmarked for Formosa, saying, “I’ve still got the money locked up in the drawer of my desk, and it is going to stay there.”
7 McCarthy, over a Saturday night dinner at the Colony Club, ponders his need for a re-election issue. Rejecting old age pensions and the St. Lawrence Seaway, he jumps at “Communism in government.”
12 At the National Press Club, Acheson expresses his view that the only way to halt Soviet expansion in Asia is “to support progressive forces there,” a slap at the pro-Nationalist China lobby.
The USSR reinstates the death penalty (abolished on May 26, 1947) for traitors, spies, and saboteurs.
14 Addressing the American Legion, South Dakota Senator Mundt calls for “vigilante action to combat Communism through ... grassroots committees in every American town.”
The FBI’s Hoover claims the U.S. harbors 540,000 Communists and fellow travelers.
17 Masked bandits rob Brinks and get away with $2.8 million.
21 Hiss, after his second trial, is sentenced to five years in jail. Chambers, milking cows on a Maryland farm, says, “My work is finished.” Acheson tells the press, “I do not intend to turn my back on Alger Hiss.” Hearing this, Nixon snaps, “Disgusting.”
24 The minimum wage is raised to seventy-five cents per hour.
31 Truman authorizes H-bomb production. (Albert Einstein’s comment: “General annihilation beckons”)
The USSR recognizes Ho’s administration as Vietnam’s legal government.
Hugh Hefner, still unable to sell his cartoons, enrolls in grad school at Northwestern and buys a 1941 Chevy Club coupe.
3 Klaus Fuchs, a Los Alamos Project employee, is arrested in England on FBI information showing Fuchs shared atomic secrets with Russian agents. Fuchs’s arrest leads to those of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg. In the U.S., popular opinion is strong that “stolen U.S. secrets” helped Russia get the A-bomb.
4 In the Senate, frenzied Homer Capehart of Indiana asks, “How much more are we going to have to take? Fuchs and Acheson and Hiss and hydrogen bombs threatening outside and New Deal-ism eating away the vitals of the nation. In the name of Heaven, is this the best America can do?” From his peers and spectators, cheers rise up.
9 McCarthy, plagiarizing Nixon, claims in a speech to the Wheeling, West Virginia, Republican Women’s Club that he has a “list of 205 names made known to Acheson as being ... Communists who nevertheless are still shaping State Department policy.” The paper he holds aloft is reputed by some to be an old laundry list.
10 In Salt Lake City, McCarthy claims his list contains fifty-seven names.
13 In Wisconsin, McCarthy lunches with reporters. “I’ve got a sockful of shit, and I know how to use it,” he says.
20 Late in the afternoon McCarthy takes the Senate floor. He talks for eight straight hours. Are the senators aware, he asks, that “practically every Communist is twisted mentally or physically in some way?” The Senate adjourns at 11:43 p.m. Even Taft calls McCarthy’s speech “a perfectly reckless performance.”
21 Congressional Democrats get up early to map strategy against McCarthy’s charges.
22 Democratic Senator Scott Lucas asks the Senate to form a committee to study “whether persons who are disloyal to the U.S. are employed by the Department of State as alleged by McCarthy.”
8 The Senate votes unanimously to investigate McCarthy’s charges, promising “neither a witch hunt nor a whitewash." Right-wingers and “professional" ex-CP informers swarm to McCarthy with tips. Money starts coming in, too — including contributions from Texans Clint Murchison and H.L. Hunt; McCarthy is spoken of as “Texas’s third senator.” McCarthy can’t prove much, but polls show strong grassroots support for the issue. Later this month Taft will advise McCarthy to “keep punching.... If one case doesn’t work out, bring up another.”
13 General Motors reports net earnings in 1949 of $656 million, the largest ever by a U.S. corporation.
23 The Labor Department announces that wages of an average U.S. worker have increased 130 percent since 1939; buying power is up 35 percent.
1 Charles Drew, the black surgeon who developed the blood bank concept, dies after a North Carolina auto accident — some say because he is denied emergency room care.
5 The chairman of the Loyalty Review Board tells the Senate subcommittee that not one single espionage case has ever been found in the State Department.
Cartoonist Herblock draws the GOP elephant standing next to several barrels of tar. One large barrel is labeled “McCARTHYISM.” The word passes immediately into the language.
1 In Mosinee, Wisconsin, American Legionnaires dress as Russian soldiers and launch a sham invasion. The mayor is hauled from bed and jailed, along with the town's ministers, in a quickly built stockade in newly named “Red Square.” All businesses are nationalized and restaurants made to serve potato soup and black bread. Only members of the Young Communist League can eat candy. At sundown the town is “liberated” and a rally is held around a bonfire of Communist literature.
2 The mayor of Mosinee has a heart attack.
3 The Senate approves a committee to investigate interstate crime headed by Estes Kefauver, a Democrat from Tennessee.
7 Baltimore becomes the first city where more people watch evening TV (50.2 percent) than listen to the radio.
8 The U.S. signs a military aid pact with France, Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam.
27 Sucaryl sodium, a synthetic sweetener, is put on the market.
Former president Herbert Hoover invites World War II general Dwight D. Eisenhower to California’s Bohemian Grove to meet major GOP contributors.
Hefner leaves Northwestern and takes a department store copywriting job. He buys Millie a TV.
Uncle Dud’s Hadacol Caravan — featuring Hank Williams, his wife Audrey with her Hadacol song, “Who Put the Pop in Grandma?" and Chico Marx — begins a 3000-mile tour through the South.
MM appears in John Huston’s Asphalt Jungle.
25 North Korean troops cross the 38th parallel, invading the Republic of Korea (“South Korea”).
27 Truman pledges that U.S. arms will be made available to defend the Republic of Korea. The U.N. Security Council, with the USSR’s representative absent, adopts a resolution in favor of armed intervention in Korea.
The U.S. sends twenty-seven military advisers to Vietnam.
29 Truman holds his first press conference since the Korean invasion. “We are not at war,” he says. A reporter asks, “Would it be correct to call this a police action under the United Nations?" “Yes," Truman replies.
30 Truman signs a bill extending the military draft for another year. He authorizes General Douglas MacArthur. supreme commander of occupying forces in Japan, to employ U.S. ground forces in Korea and orders a naval blockade of the Korean coast.
Nixon, campaigning for the Senate against incumbent Helen Gahagan Douglas, plasters California with billboards carrying his picture and the caption, "On Guard for America.” In civic club speeches, Nixon calls Douglas “pink right down to her underwear” and slyly intimates “something sexual” between her and Truman. Douglas dubs him “Tricky Dick.”
3 William Levitt, suburbia developer, is featured on the cover of Time. The headline reads: “For Sale: A New Way of Life." There will be 1.4 million new housing starts this year, most suburban; 3000 acres per day are being bulldozed into suburban lots.
A department store executive tells a fashion industry luncheon: “Basic utility cannot be the foundation of a prosperous apparel industry. We must accelerate obsolescence.”
5 The first U.S. soldier is killed in Korea.
The FBI arrests Julius Rosenberg on a charge of conspiracy to commit espionage.
Ads from Washington, DC, real estate promoters offer “Small farms — out beyond atom bombs" and “A place out of the radiation zone.”
6 In Korea, the retreat by South Korean forces ends as U.S. reinforcements arrive.
7 U.S. marines announce the mobilization of their entire 80,000-man reserves.
12 The Defense Department and the Atomic Energy Commission issue You Can Survive. In case of atomic bomb attack, it advises, simply "take refuge inside a house or inside a car, rolling up the window." If an A-bomb were dropped in your vicinity, “You most likely would get sick at your stomach and begin to vomit. However, you might be sick at your stomach for other reasons, too, so vomiting won’t always mean you have radiation sickness.... About two weeks later most of your hair might fall out. By the time you lost your hair you would be good and sick. But in spite of it all, you would stand better than an even chance of making a complete recovery, including having your hair grow back in again.” At Nagasaki, the pamphlet claims, “almost 70 percent of the people a mile from the bomb lived to tell of their experience.”
28 The White House announces that Truman has directed MacArthur to retract statements he made at a veterans’ convention implying the U.S. should occupy Formosa.
Elvis becomes an usher at Loews Theater in Memphis, 5-10 p.m. Favorite actor: Tony Curtis. Gladys takes a job as a nurses' aide at a hospital, where she sees her first pink Cadillac. “Don’t you worry, mama." Elvis says. “I’m going to buy you one one of these days.”
Hank Williams, as Luke the Drifter, records an anti-Stalin tune called “No, No, Joe.” Arthur “Guitar Boogie" Smith records “Mr. Stalin/ You’re Eating Too High on the Hog."
2 The Greek government offers to sender troops to Korea.
15 U.N. forces take the initiative in Korea as troops land at Inchon, while others strike north from Pusan.
20 George Marshall is confirmed as secretary of defense. (Retiring as secretary of state in 1949, Marshall meantime has served as American Red Cross president.) Opposing Marshall’s confirmation, Idaho’s Senator Jenner calls him "a front man. a stooge, or a co-conspirator for this administration’s crazy assortment of collectivist, cutthroat crackpots and Communist fellow-traveling appeasers...”
21 The last of Brigham Young’s fifty-six children dies.
22 Truman vetoes the Internal Security Act (the McCarran Act), which requires registration of CP members and CP-allied organizations, saying it would aid rather than weaken the U.S. Communist movement. Congress will override his veto.
Three thousand French troops have died fighting the Viet Minh.
The U.S. gives France $2.4 million in arms and equipment.
18 Connie Mack, eighty-seven, the Philadelphia A’s manager for fifty years, retires.
23 The Justice Department, under the McCarran Act. begins a roundup of eighty-six Communist resident aliens. Truman appoints a bipartisan subversive activities control board.
25 The president of the Chrysler Corporation is named director of the U.S. guided missiles program.
26 The National Production Authority imposes a ban on construction of all buildings for amusement, recreational, or entertainment purposes.
7 Nixon, at thirty-eight, becomes the youngest man to enter the Senate, defeating Helen Gahagan Douglas by 700,000 votes.
26 After U.N. troops advance through North Korea to the Yalu River on the Chinese border, China’s troops begin a southward sweep through Korea.
28 MacArthur claims that 200,000 Chinese Communist troops are in Korea.
13 Columnist Drew Pearson, celebrating his fifty-third birthday, and McCarthy, dining at Washington’s Sulgrave Club, are mischievously put at the same table by the hostess. Pearson makes a remark that angers McCarthy. The latter hits Pearson, a pacifist. Pearson heads for the cloakroom; McCarthy follows. Nixon, also dining at “the Club,” happens into the cloakroom and sees McCarthy with his hands clutching Pearson’s neck, knee in his groin. Pearson struggles for air. As Nixon tells it, “When McCarthy spotted me, he drew his arm back and slapped Pearson so hard his head snapped back. ‘That one was for you, Dick,’ he said. I stepped between the two men and pushed them apart. ‘Let a good Quaker stop this fight,’ I said. Pearson grabbed his overcoat and ran from the room.”
15 Truman calls upon the American people to turn the U.S. into “an arsenal of freedom.”
In the Senate McCarthy attacks Pearson, calling him "the sugar-coated voice of Russia” and asking listeners to Pearson’s radio show to threaten Pearson’s sponsor, the Adam Hat Company, with a boycott. (That day, unknowingly, McCarthy himself is wearing a gray Adam hat.)
16 Truman proclaims a state of national emergency. He names Charles E. Wilson, president of General Electric, director of defense mobilization.
23 “Payola to disc jockeys is at an all-time peak," Billboard declares.
25 The Dalai Lama, Tibet’s ruler, flees occupying Chinese forces by caravan from Lhasa, Tibet’s capital.
MM, despondent over the death of her first “sugar daddy,” an elderly studio executive, takes an overdose of pills.
27 MacArthur reports 450,000 Chinese Communists in Korea.
MM meets Arthur Miller in company with Elia Kazan, stage and film director. MM soon begins an affair with Kazan.
More Americans watch TV in the evenings than listen to radio. Fifteen million own televisions.
The first bank credit card is offered.
AT&T becomes the first corporation to have more than one million stockholders.
One out of every three American women is married by age nineteen. Women in the work force: 19.3 million.
Mickey Spillane’s One Lonely Night is published. In it, Mike Hammer says, “I shot them in cold blood ... pumped slugs in the nastiest bunch of bastards you ever saw.,. Commies ... red sons-of-bitches who should have died long ago.... They never thought there were people like me in this country. They figured us all to be soft as horse manure and just as stupid.” Other titles published: Hannah Arendt's The Origins of Totalitarianism, David Riesman’s The Lonely Crowd, J.D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye.
Jack Kerouac writes On the Road — buying art paper in twenty-foot rolls, pasting the ends together, and typing virtually nonstop for three weeks until his “epic” is finished.
New term of 1951: “girlie magazine.”
The first “realistic” plastic plants are sold.
Marilyn Monroe is named “Miss Cheesecake of the Year” by U.S. troops in Germany. 20th Century Fox raises her salary to $500 per week. Dave Brubeck forms a quintet.
A Pentagon bootblack who once gave $10 to Scottsboro Boys’defense is interrogated by FBI seventy times this year.
David Selznick says, “Hollywood’s become like Egypt — full of crumbling pyramids.” And it will only get worse. In 1951 Hollywood makes 400 feature films; by 1960, 154.
Hefner takes a job as Esquire promotional copywriter.
Elvis is fired from Loews for punching an usher who told the boss Elvis had been given candy by the candy counter girl. He gets a job waiting tables at the Eagle’s Nest nightclub out on Highway 78 and tries unsuccessfully to worm his way in as an “entertainer." The family buys an old Lincoln coupe with cardboard covering its passenger windows. Like nine-tenths of Humes High boys, Elvis adopts the pink shirt fad and wears his hair parted on one side, with a lock falling forward over his forehead. His voice is steady now, but his face breaks out.
1 Michigan defeats California to win the Rose Bowl, 14-6.
4 North Korea recaptures Seoul.
8 In his state of the union message, Truman accuses the USSR of seeking to conquer the world.
12 Truman asks Congress for greatly increased taxes to put the defense program on a pay-as-you-go basis.
27 The AEC announces atomic test explosions near Las Vegas.
28 U.N. forces advance to within 12 miles of Seoul against light resistance.
29 Elizabeth Taylor divorces her first husband, hotel heir Nicky Hilton.
1 The U.N. passes a resolution accusing Communist China of aggression in Korea.
4 Meat rations reach a record low in Britain.
21 The Office of Price Stabilization (OPS) orders used car prices frozen at January 1951 levels, with prices in no case to exceed those of new models.
U.S. armed forces now exceed 2.9 million, double the number at the Korean War’s outbreak. (There were 11 million in uniform at the end of World War II.)
Elvis meets Bill “Blackie" Black, a bass player ten years his senior who plays with a country band, the Starlite Wranglers (with Scotty Moore). In 1950 the Wranglers cut a record at Sam Phillips's Memphis Recording Studio.
Hadacol is banned by the FDA.
3 In Tampa, Florida, Roberts’s new tent — triple-reinforced and double-staked — debuts.
In Sam Phillips’s studio Jackie Brenston, Ike TUmer, and three members of Turner’s band cut Brenston’s “Rocket 88.” Phillips then sells the recording to Chess. “Rocket 88” hits R&B charts in April and rises to number one. Phillips later claims "Rocket 88” is the first true rock ’n’ roll record; its success prompts him to start Sun Records.
5 GM reports a net income of $834 million on sales of $7.5 billion, both record figures.
7 “Under existing conditions, U.N. forces have no chance of victory in Korea,” asserts General MacArthur. He wants to bomb Chinese bases in Manchuria and is prepared to risk a full-scale war with China.
HUAC releases a list of 624 organizations and 204 publications cited as subversive by the justice department or legislative groups.
Kefauver opens eight days of televised Senate investigation into organized crime. Thirty million TV viewers, the largest audience assembled to date, watch as gamblers, molls, and an ex-NYC mayor fill their screens. (At one point a senator asks moll Virginia Hill, “Young lady, what makes you the favorite of the underworld?" Hill’s answer is broadcast live: “Senator, I’m the best goddamned cocksucker in the world.”) Gambling is estimated to rake in more than $20 billion per year.
14 U.N. troops force North Korean and Chinese armies out of Seoul.
20 More A-bomb tests take place at Eniwetok in the South Pacific.
21 HUAC opens its second round of hearings on subversives in the entertainment industry.
29 Julius and Ethel Rosenberg are convicted of conspiracy to commit wartime espionage and the betrayal of atomic secrets.
31 Truman approves draft deferments for college students “of superior scholastic standing.”
Quo Vadis opens: 32,000 costumes, 31,000 actors, 450 horses, 85 doves, 63 lions, 5 teams of oxen, 2 cheetahs. The film cost $7 million.
5 The Rosenbergs get the death penalty.
11 Truman relieves MacArthur of command for making public his wish to invade China. (“I fired him because he wouldn’t respect the authority of the president,” he will later explain. “I didn’t fire him because he was a dumb son of a bitch, although he was, but that’s not against the law for generals. If it was, half to three-quarters of them would be in jail.”) GOP leaders, furious, demand a congressional investigation of the Truman administration. A Gallup poll shows 69 percent of Americans are pro-MacArthur, 29 percent pro-Truman.
16 MacArthur, wearing a battered trench coat and a frayed battle cap, arrives in San Francisco. The next day he will address 600,000 at city hall: "The only politics I have is contained in a single phrase known well to all of you — God bless America!”
19 Tumultuous crowds greet MacArthur in Washington. DC, where he addresses 6000 DAR ladies. “In this hour of crisis, all patriots look to you,” MacArthur tells the DAR. At 12:30 p.m., he addresses a joint congressional session; his thirty-four-minute speech is interrupted thirty times by wild applause. “I now close my military career and just fade away, an old soldier who tried to do his duty as God gave him the light to see that duty. Good-bye.”
20 Seven million greet MacArthur in NYC.
27 MacArthur begins a nationwide “crusade”: he praises “the simple, eternal truths of the American way," excoriates a limited Korean war as “appeasement of Communism,” and claims that “insidious forces working from within,” those who would lead us “directly to the path of Communist slavery,” led to his firing.
Eisenhower and Nixon meet in Paris. Eisenhower describes Nixon as “young, vigorous, of good reputation."
NAACP lawyer Thuigood Marshall reports after visiting Korea that black GIs are more often and more severely punished than whites.
3 The A-bomb is “one of the cheapest forms of destruction known to man,” Look magazine points out.
24 Racial segregation is once again ruled illegal in Washington, DC, eateries.
A Univac, the first commercially manufactured computer, is put to work at the U.S. Census Bureau.
4 Acheson says that nothing short of full U.S. intervention could have stopped Mao’s forces from overrunning China.
12 The South Korean congress charges that more than 50,000 South Korean draftees have died of starvation or disease in training camps.
14 McCarthy gives a 60,000-word speech, attacking Defense Secretary Marshall as part of “a conspiracy so immense, an infamy so black, as to dwarf any in the history of man.”
19 Truman signs a bill extending Selective Service to July 1, 1955, lowering draft age to 18 1/2, and lengthening service to two years.
22 The House of Representatives approves a $7.2 billion tax bill, the largest single tax increase in U.S. history.
28 Amos 'n' Andy moves from radio to TV.
8 Cease-fire negotiations begin in Korea; they will continue for two years.
10 In Cicero, Illinois, a black family tries, again, to move into a white neighborhood. A mob of 4000 whites goes on a rampage; two days later Gov. Adlai Stevenson calls out the National Guard to stop the Cicero riots.
23 Eisenhower is named NATO Supreme Commander.
26 The U.S. Army announces it is disbanding its oldest and last-remaining all-black unit in the Far East command, the 24th infantry regiment in Korea.
27 Peking orders all U.S. and U.S.-supported Christian missionaries to cease their work in China.
Senator William Benton, a Connecticut Democrat, introduces a resolution calling for the investigation of McCarthy’s activities to decide if he should be expelled from the Senate.
The Dominoes’ “Sixty Minute Man,” after rising to the top of the R&B charts, crosses over to the pop charts.
Alan Freed begins broadcasting his “Moondog Rock and Roll Party” on Cleveland’s WJW.
3 West Point announces the dismissal of ninety cadets for cheating on exams.
9 The House of Representatives passes a record peacetime military appropriation bill of S56 billion.
The millionth U.S. soldier to die in battle since 1775 is killed in Korea.
4 Transcontinental TV broadcasting is inaugurated by NBC.
8 Look magazine does a Marilyn Monroe cover story. MM enrolls in UCLA night school; she’s taking art appreciation and literature and is reading Rilke and Proust. Jack Paar will later say about her, “I fear that beneath the facade of Marilyn there was only a frightened waitress in a diner.”
21 Benton tells the Senate that McCarthy should be ousted.
22 The last member of Custer’s Seventh Calvary dies.
Fortune magazine: “Management has an obligation to plan and create a favorable, constructive attitude on the part of the wife that will liberate her husband’s total energies for the job.”
3 The White House announces that the USSR has exploded another A-bomb.
4 Mohammad Mussadegh, premier of Iran, nationalizes Iran's oil and orders all British personnel of the Anglo-Iranian Oil Co. out of Iran.
10 Three million TV viewers at home, and as many in bars, watch the New York Giants lose the World Series to the Yankees, four games to two. Joe DiMaggio retires.
15 Lucille Ball begins her reign as America’s favorite housewife in I Love Lucy.
22 The White House announces the third USSR A-bomb explosion.
30 A large A-bomb exploded near Las Vegas
14 The U.S. charges that more than 5500 American POWs have been murdered by Communist forces in Korea.
18 Edward R. Murrow’s See It Now premieres.
Esquire moves from Chicago to NYC. Hefner stays in Chicago.
18 The North Koreans hand over a list of 11,559 U.N. prisoners held in the North’s prison camps; only 3198 are Americans. The U.S., however, lists 11,224 MIAs. Have the Communists murdered 8000 Americans? The U.S. mood deepens.
The National Production Authority bans issuance of new license plates for 1953 as a conservation measure.
21 The U.N. approves a budget of $48 million, of which the U.S. pays 36.9 percent and the USSR pays 11.49 percent.
25 This Christmas is not a happy one for the Presleys; Vernon’s back is bad again, and Gladys has to quit her job as a hospital orderly.
31 It's New Year's Eve, and Marilyn Monroe has no date
Average household size: 3.33 persons. It is predicted that 90 percent of all women will ultimately marry. Median age for widowhood: fifty-seven for men; fifty-one for women. One in five persons who marries has been married before. Persons under twenty-one say greatest problems are the draft, quarreling parents, sex, getting parents to understand, and finding the right job.
Two thousand TV stations begin broadcasting. Americans now watch five hours of TV daily. TV Guide begins publishing.
Oral Roberts orders a tent capable of holding 10,000 people.
There are 5117 strikes in the U.S.
MM is called Hollywood’s “most promising star” by Hedda Hopper and “most popular actress" by Photoplay, she shares star billing in six films.
Paint-by-number kits are introduced. Chlorophyll takes off: it is added to gum, deodorant, soap, and pet food. Spent on chewing gum: $255 million; on greeting cards: $235 million; on laxatives: $130 million; on stomach sweeteners: $38 million; on mouthwash: $23 million. First diet soft drink: No-Cal brand.
One-third of all U.S. corporations say they administer personality tests to prospective employees.
Norman Vincent Peale's Power of Positive Thinking is published; it will occupy the bestseller list for the next three years, selling 2 million copies by 1955.
USA Confidential, by two newsmen, becomes a best-seller syndicated by 500 newspapers. From a chapter entitled “Reds in Clover”: “Female [Communist Party] card-holders are required to show their loyalty to the cause through indiscriminate intercourse wherever it will do the most good.... Sex is offered as an inducement to comrades for attending meetings. Most soirees of the faithful end up with vodka toasts in dim candlelight. Negro men get the first choice of white women.... Many Negroes join up only for that purpose and pass the word along to their friends.” From a chapter called “Our Afro-American Brethren”: "As a race they are less interested in political ideologies than is any other segment of the population. These still happy-go-lucky folk are more concerned with a full meal today than civil rights tomorrow. Snappy clothes, snappy gals, and snappy cars are their criteria of success ... nor cited about discriminations, which to them are natural. Few want to mix. Most whites aren’t fun."
“If I could find a white man who had the Negro sound and feel, I could make a million dollars,” says Sam Phillips.
Johnny Ray’s “Cry” hits number one on R&B and pop charts, the first Fifties record to do so prior to the rock ’n’ roll era.
New words of 1952: “Big Labor”: organized labor. “Discount house.” “Drag strip.” “EP”: Extended-play records made by RCA that were pressed with 300 grooves to the inch. “Lure girl”: woman secret agent. “MASH”: Mobile Army Surgical Hospital. “Psy war”: Psychological warfare. “Smearathon”: Smear campaign. “Split-level”: Descriptive of house built on several levels. “Walter Mittyism”: Large-scale daydreaming (named after James Thurber’s creation).
Mickey Spillane joins Jehovah’s Witnesses.
5 MM’s nude calendar shots surface.
8 The second session of the 82 nd Congress opens. Elia Kazan appears before HUAC; he agrees to answer questions about himself but refuses to talk about others.
Blackie encourages Elvis to make a record at Sam Phillips's studio. "Put down four dollars and make a record.”
Little Richard's second recording session puts “I Brought It All on Myself,” “Thinkin’ ’bout My Mother,” “Please Have Mercy on Me,” “Ain’t Nothin' Happening” on wax. The records don’t take off, however, and Richard returns to Macon.
14 Dave Garroway and chimpanzee J. Fred Muggs debut on NBC’s Today show.
21 largest U.S. peacetime budget is revealed; estimated expenditures: $85.4 billion; estimated revenue: $70.9 billion.
TV dinners are introduced by Swanson. The first menu features turkey, dressing, gravy, mashed potatoes, and green peas. It costs $1.09.
12 Little Richard's father is shot dead outside his Tip In Inn. Now Richard must support the family. He takes a job washing dishes in the Macon bus station; he also turns tricks. He will eventually land a job with the Tempo Toppers and begin to perform through the South, often as part of a blues package show.
21 Lillian Heilman is subpoenaed to appear before HUAC.
Elizabeth Taylor marries Michael Wilding.
Panty raids become a springtime campus fad.
The last witness to the Wright Brothers’ 1903 first airplane flight dies of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
4 Secretary of State Dean Acheson denies and denounces a North Korean charge that U.N. forces are using germ warfare in Korea.
Reagan and Nancy Davis are wed. The couple had met in 1951 when the name "Nancy Davis” appeared on a Communist mailing list and Nancy had sought SAG president Reagan’s help. The marriage will restore Ron’s happiness but not his career.
30 Humphrey Bogart wins the Oscar as. best actor for his role in The African Queen.
27 OPS orders U.S. restaurants to display ceiling prices for meals and beverages.
29 Truman announces he will not run again. Sam Phillips begins Sun Label.
Bill Haley’s cover of “Rock the Joint” comes out.
MM meets Joe DiMaggio.
3 Wage negotiations between the steelworkers union and steel companies are terminated.
6 Nonwhite organizations in South Africa protest the nation’s new racial policy.
7 Life magazine publishes a cover story on MM.
8 Truman, to avert a strike, directs the Commerce Department to seize steel mills.
Under pressure from HUAC, Elia Kazan wonders if he should “name names.” Arthur Miller tells his old friend Kazan that if he does, he will regret it the rest of his life.
9 Three steel companies contest the legality of the federal plant seizure.
10 Kazan, before HUAC, agrees to “name names.” Zero Mostel begins to refer to Kazan as “Looselips." Miller begins work on The Crucible.
11 Eisenhower resigns from NATO.
12 Kazan takes out a New York Times ad explaining why he cooperated with HUAC and urges others to do the same.
13 The FCC, lifting a moratorium against new TV station construction, assigns licenses to 2053 stations in 1291 communities.
14 Greece releases 20,000 held for Communist or Nazi activities.
20 Iran resumes production of motor oil at a former Anglo-Iranian refinery.
22 A resolution is introduced in the House calling for Truman’s impeachment because of his action against the steel companies.
25 U.S. resumes military aid to Iran.
Home Service shows the Presleys arc $43.74 behind in rent. Gladys turns forty (although because she lies about her age, everyone thinks she is thirty-six). Unhappy, she has been dwelling on the death of Elvis’s twin, Jesse. Overweight, she has gone to a doctor who prescribed diet pills. She has also increased her beer intake. Elvis, earning more, encourages Gladys to stay home. She does.
1 Millie is pregnant; the Hefners move to the first home of their own, a five-room apartment in Chicago’s Hyde Park section. Hef borrows $1000 from his father to buy furniture. Hef is working, at $60 per week, as promo manager for a magazine group that publishes such titles as Shooting Goods Retailer and Sunbathing Review.
12 The legality of Truman's steel mill seizure is argued before the U.S. Supreme Court.
19 In a letter to HUAC (“I cannot and will not cut my conscience to fit this year’s fashions”), Lillian Heilman agrees to tell about herself but says she will take the Fifth if asked about anyone else.
20 Heilman, in DC for the HUAC hearing, sees J. Edgar Hoover and companion Clyde Tolson eating lunch. Losing her appetite, she leaves and later buys a new Balmain dress.
21 Defiant in her new Balmain dress, Hellman refuses to testify against anyone. HUAC dismisses her case.
“Gator Tail” Jackson’s “Rock, Rock. Rock” is released.
Elvis, who is now paying the family grocery bills, wants to quit school; Gladys forbids it.
1 MM’s twenty-sixth birthday. She has her birthday dinner alone, but DiMaggio calls.
2 The Supreme Court, voting 6-3, declares Truman’s steel seizure illegal. Truman orders the mills returned; steelworkers strike.
5 A man is indicted for killing Little Richard’s father.
16 In Delaware, a man is whipped; it will be the last time whipping will be used as punishment in the U.S.
18 An agreement to increase U.S. aid to Indochina is revealed.
23 Five hundred U.N. planes attack five North Korean power plants.
25 Truman vetoes the McCarran-Walter bill to revise immigration and naturalization laws. The bill requires clear labeling of all Communist mail and literature; sets up a five-member “Subversive Activities Control Board,” authorizes the government to lock up Communists and other suspected subversives whenever a national emergency is proclaimed. and provides for concentration camps to hold such prisoners. (Hubert Humphrey is the author of several sections of this bill.)
26 The House overrides Truman’s McCarran-Walter veto, 278-113.
27 The Senate, 57-26, overrides Truman's McCarran-Walter veto.
“What ever happened to all those wonderful old Negro cooks?” asks a Holiday magazine article.
Rhythm and Blues magazine begins publication.
3 McCarthy says Democratic Senator William Benton was responsible for the purchase of “lewd art works” while serving in the State Department.
7 The 82nd Congress adjourns.
The Republican Convention is convened. Ike will be nominated. Richard Nixon, collecting political debts, will get the VP nod. More than 65 million people watch on TV. “K1C2” — Korea, Communism, and Corruption — will be adopted as the GOP campaign slogan.
24 Adlai Stevenson is named the Democratic presidential nominee in Chicago. Senator John Sparkman from Alabama is nominated VP. .
26 Evita Peron dies. Husband Juan pays $100,000 for embalming. (Nineteen years later, Evita's body will be exhumed, and Peron will find her to be “lovely as ever”)
6 The FBI’s Hoover writes McCarthy: “Any success the FBI has had is due in no small measure to the wholehearted support and cooperation we have always received from such fine friends as you.”
13 Iran’s landlords are ordered to give 20 percent of their harvests to peasants under the decree of Mohammed Mossadegh.
21 Mossadegh announces measures to collect unpaid back taxes from wealthy taxpayers and dismisses fifteen generals.
Pro-Stevenson columnist Stewart Alsop coins the word “egghead.” Alsop later says it was not his intention that the term gather opprobrium; nevertheless it does. Soon popular novelist Louis Bromfield will write that “‘egghead’ seems to have arisen spontaneously from the people themselves." The term means, he continues, “a person of intellectual pretensions, often a professor or the protege of a professor ... superficial in approach to any problem ... feminine ... supercilious ... a doctrinaire supporter of middle-European socialism ... a self-conscious prig ... a bleeding heart." Bromfield will predict that if Stevenson wins the election, “the eggheads will come back into power and off again we will go on the scenic railway of muddled economics. Socialism, Communism, crookedness, and psychopathic instability.”
2 Gladys Presley takes a two-week job picking cotton.
7 Mossadegh rejects Churchill-Truman offer to settle oil dispute.
9 Boys at Humes High bait Elvis about his clothing and hair. He begins skipping
17 In Korea, the U.S. Navy uses guided missiles for the first time in actual warfare.
18 Just as Ike’s initially slow campaign begins to roll, the New York Post announces a SECRET NIXON FUND.
20 This Is Cinerama opens in NYC. The film, which will gross more than $25 million in the next five years, will spawn such other big-screen experiments as WarnerScope, SuperScope, Vista-Vision, and Todd-AO.
23 Richard Nixon tells the nation how his kids “like all kids, love the dog” — in this case. Checkers. More than 58 million Americans, the largest audience up to that time, watch on nationwide TV. Pat says, “You don’t have to be phony, if you’re honest.”
24 Columnist Robert Ruark writes about the “Checkers” speech: “The sophisticates sneer (but) Tuesday night the nation saw a little man, squirming his way out of a dilemma. This time the common man was a Republican, for a change.”
10 Ozzie and Harriet debuts on nationwide TV.
22 Patricia Ann Reagan, bom by Cesarean section seven and one-half months after her parents’ wedding.
25 Although rumors that Joseph McCarthy is homosexual have traveled the cocktail party circuit for months. Hank Greenspun in the Las Vegas Sun first publishes the rumors: “Joe McCarthy is a bachelor of forty-three years.” he writes. “It is common talk among homosexuals in Milwaukee who rendezvous at the White Horse Inn that Senator Joe McCarthy has often engaged in homosexual activities. The persons in Nevada who listened to McCarthy’s radio talk thought he had the queerest laugh. He has. He is.” Although Greenspun’s report will distress McCarthy, and associates will encourage him to sue for libel, he never will.
28 The case of the accused killer of Little Richard’s father is dismissed.
Gladys takes a job at the hospital again. Sam Phillips's Sun label releases its first single, “Blues in My Condition,” by Jackie Boy and Little Walter.
Hank Williams’s “I’ll Never Get Out of This World Alive” is released.
4 Dwight Eisenhower and Richard Nixon are elected by the largest popular vote in U.S. history (442 electoral votes). It is the first GOP ticket to break the “solid South,” and it wins majorities in groups previously thought unshakably Democratic: Catholics, labor, and the young. Victory sweeps the GOP through Congress. McCarthy wins in Wisconsin by 140,000 majority; at least eight senators owe their election to his support. In the GOP’s New York headquarters, one of Ike’s favorite musical groups, Fred Waring’s band, plays “God Bless America.”
At 11:32 p.m. Stevenson concedes: "Someone asked me, as I came in, how I felt, and I was reminded of a story that a fellow townsman of ours used to tell — Abraham Lincoln. They asked him how he felt once after an unsuccessful election. He said he felt like a little boy who had stubbed his toe in the dark. He said that he was too old to cry, but it hurt too much to laugh.”
Christie Ann Hefner is born.
6 The U.S. explodes the first hydrogen bomb, destroying an entire Pacific island.
26 Bwana Devil, the first 3-D movie, opens. The story features big-game hunters and man-eating lions in Africa.
Hefner is appointed circulation manager of Children’s Activities magazine, at $120 per week.
MM begins making Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.
24 MM comes home alone from a studio party, finds Joe DiMaggio in her room with a Christmas tree. Says MM, “It’s the first time in my life anyone ever gave me a Christmas tree.”
25 Another bad Christmas for the Presleys. Home Service gives them an eviction notice saying they have too much income to live in welfare housing.
30 The Tuskegee Institute reports that for the first time in seventy-one years, there were no lynchings of blacks in the U.S. in 1952.
The population of the U.S. reaches 156 million. A record $68.5 billion is collected from U.S. taxpayers. Slightly more than 1.5 percent of the adult U.S. population owns more than 80 percent of corporate stock and nearly 90 percent of all corporate bonds. More than seven million cars and trucks are manufactured. Power steering, introduced in 1951, enjoys increasing popularity; Chrysler’s Imperial, Buick’s Road-master offer it as standard equipment. Automobile fatalities: 38,300.
Two-thirds of U.S. families now have TVs. Packaged beer accounts for 76.5 percent of U.S. consumption, up from 25 percent in 1934.
The Doomsday clock moves to 11:58 p.m.
New words of 1953: “Appestat”: a mechanism at the base of the brain alleged to control appetite; “Armored vest”: vest worn for protection against bullets. "Concussion grenade”' grenade designed to stun; and “CONELRAD”: acronym for a system of “planned confusion" designed to prevent enemy bombers from locating U.S. cities by identifying broadcasting frequencies. Also: “Countdown”; and “Phobiology”: the study of phobias.
Kinsey’s Sexual Behavior in the Human Female is published. Kinsey reports that 30 percent of married women born after 1900 have been unfaithful to their husbands by the time they are forty.
MM’s nude calendar is banned in Pennsylvania and Georgia; an L.A. camera shop owner is arrested after schoolboys are observed looking at the calendar in his shop window.
Ian Fleming’s Casino Royale is published: James Bond muses about how women on the job “got in the way and fogged things up with sex and hurt feelings and all the emotional baggage they carried around.”
John Lilly invents the sense isolation chamber. Francis Crick and James D. Watson propose double-helix structure of DNA. U.S. movie theaters arc adapted for CinemaScope.
Pop hits: “Doggie in the Window," “I Believe," “Baubles, Bangles, and Beads,” “Ebb Tide,” “Strangers in Paradise.” On the R&B charts, the Orioles’ cover of “Crying in the Chapel" hits number three and crosses over to pop charts.
1 Hank Williams, on his way to an Ohio concert, dies of a heart attack in the back seat of his gold Cadillac. His driver discovers Williams’s death at a Puroil Gas Station in Oak Ridge, West Virginia. Near Rutledge, Tennessee, however, the driver had been stopped and given a speeding ticket by a policeman who had said, “The person in the back seat looks dead.”
2 Although the Senate Privileges and Elections subcommittee rules that Joe McCarthy has been “motivated by self-interest” in certain political and personal activities, he is allowed to take his seat. Drew Pearson calls McCarthy's unopposed seating “the most cowardly exhibition I have seen in Washington since I came here twenty-seven years ago."
3 The 83rd Congress convenes; 221 GOP congressmen apply for HUAC duty. HUAC’s new chairman promises to hunt down Commies “like wild muskrats.” In the Senate, McCarthy, passed over for Internal Security Committee, is made head of Committee on Government Operations, whose Permanent Investigations Subcommittee he will also head. He finds that the investigations subcommittee has authority, rarely used, to investigate “government activity at all levels”; Government Operations is to investigate general waste and corruption. McCarthy begins the 83rd session by charging that the Army helped move the Truman family out of the White House. A furious Truman responds, noting that every president has been moved from the mansion at U.S. expense. “McCarthy had better get his facts straight," snarls Truman, “or he'll get his ass in a sling.” With a $200,000 budget in hand, McCarthy hires twenty-five-year-old Roy Cohn as counsel to the investigations subcommittee and, at the behest of his good buddy Joe Kennedy, hires Robert Kennedy as assistant to the Government Operations committee's general counsel.
4 Hank Wiliams’s funeral is the largest ever in Montgomery, Alabama.
7 One day before Elvis’s eighteenth birthday, the Presleys move out of welfare housing for the first time in four years; they move to an apartment across the street from Lauderdale Courts.
In the Humes High variety show, Elvis, in a borrowed red shirt, sings Hank Williams’s “Cold, Cold, Icy Fingers.”
15 Ike stares out the window of a NYC hotel room and says to Billy Graham, “America has to have a religious revival.”
Little Richard, with the Tempo Toppers, moves from New Orleans’ Club Tijuana to Houston’s Club Matinee. Johnny Otis hears Richard for the first time; he will later recall Richard’s intro: “This is Little Richard, King of the Blues ... and the Queen, too!”
20 Ike is inaugurated thirty-fourth president of the U.S. His is the first inauguration seen on TV, coast to coast. Emmet John Hughes, says of Ike: "As an intellectual, he bestowed upon the games of golf and bridge all the enthusiasm and perseverance he withheld from books and ideas.”
22 Ike sends nomination of General Motors president Charles E. Wilson as defense secretary to Senate after Wilson agrees to sell his GM stock. At the confirmation hearing, Wilson says he assumes “what was good for our country was good for General Motors, and vice versa.”
Republican Treasury Secretary George Humphrey, asked by a reporter if he had read Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea, says, “Why would anybody be interested in some old man who was a failure and never amounted to anything anyway?"
The New Republic calls Ike’s cabinet “Eight millionaires and a plumber.” (The new labor secretary was plumbing union president.)
24 Ike makes Allen Dulles, brother of the new Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, CIA director. About John Foster, I.F. Stone writes: “Smooth is an inadequate word for Dulles. His prevarications are so highly polished as to be aesthetically pleasurable.... [He is) a man of wily and subtle mind. It is difficult to believe that behind his unctuous manner he does not take a cynical amusement in his own monstrous pomposities.”
Hefner considers publishing a 3-D pinup magazine.
Roberts sets a goal of converting one million people.
Willie Mae Thornton’s “Hound Dog” is released.
6 Ike suspends controls on wages and the prices of most consumer goods.
16 Ike appoints an advisor on psychological warfare.
McCarthy’s Permanent Investigations Subcommittee opens televised Voice of America investigations in NYC.
17 Guatemalan land-reform program, expropriating 234,000 acres of United Fruit land, gives uncultivated acreage to landless peasants.
18 McCarthy, in subcommittee hearings, demands that all books by “controversial” authors be removed from the International Information Agency’s overseas libraries.
23 Little Richard and the Tempo Toppers are signed by Don Robey’s Peacock Records; they record four songs, including “Rice, Red Beans, and Turnip Greens.’’ None succeed.
4 A headline report: STALIN GRAVELY ILL AFTER STROKE.
5 A headline report: STALIN SINKING: LEECHES APPLIED.
Sam Phillips records Rufus Thomas singing “You Ain’t Nothin’ but a Bearcat" to the tune of Big Mama Thornton’s “Hound Dog." Billboard calls it the "fastest answer song yet to hit the market."
6 Headline report: STALIN DEAD.
9 State's Dulles tells the press that Stalin's death enhances chances for peace.
12 All price controls are removed in the U.S.
Defense’s Wilson orders the army to lay off 39,346 civilian employees by May 31.
19 The Academy Awards are telecast from coast to coast for the first time.
General Mark Clark, U.S. commander in the Far East, arrives in Saigon while on an Indochina tour.
Bermuda shorts are announced as being appropriate business wear for men.
From Paris Rebecca West writes, “You cannot believe the effect of McCarthy on the French. They do not see why Eisenhower does not take him by the scruff of the neck and throw him into the Potomac.” But Ike, believing that Truman had actually elevated McCarthy by public mention, refuses, he tells intimates, “to get down into the gutter with that fellow.”
4 In Paris, Cohn and aide G. David Schine begin tour of Europe’s International Information Agency libraries, looking for Communist books.
6 Mossadegh demands Iran’s Shah become just a figurehead.
12 Ike sends his brother Milton (“the smart one," Ike calls him) on a Latin American fact-finding mission.
19 Israel’s fifth anniversary is observed by a television tribute.
Ike issues Executive Order 10450. the most sweeping loyalty investigation of federal employees in American history.
25 Senator Wayne Morse breaks a Senate record with a twenty-two-hour, twenty-six-minute speech opposing a submerged lands’ bill.
Elvis graduates from high school. His senior yearbook lists his activities as library worker; ROTC; Biology, English. Speech, and History clubs. His class will have, among its hopes, “[that] there will be someone to take [my] place as teacher’s pet.”
Gray Flannel Days: Personnel magazine states that “while industry does not ignore the brilliant but erratic genius, in general it prefers its men to have ‘normal’ personalities.”
4 Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea receives a Pulitzer prize. “My writing is nothing. My boxing is everything,” the author responds.
8 The U.S. gives France $60 million for Indochina war.
Bill Haley’s “Crazy, Man, Crazy” hits pop charts.
10 The Shah’s privately held estates are transferred to the Iranian government.
16 South Pacific closes on Broadway after 1694 performances.
25 For the third time, the U.S. Supreme Court refuses to hear an appeal from the Rosenbergs.
26 Meridian, Mississippi, holds a Jimmie Rodgers Festival. Elvis, with ten cents in his pocket, hitches 240 miles, enters the contest along with 120 others, and wins second place.
Hefner borrows $200 from the bank, hocks his furniture for another $400, and announces plans to start a magazine he calls Stag Party.
Jacqueline Bouvier and John Kennedy announce their engagement.
1 MM’s twenty-seventh birthday. This summer MM and Jane Russell officially become stars when they are asked to place hands and feet in wet cement in front of Grauman’s Chinese Theater.
Elvis takes a job as a truck driver for Memphis’s Crown Electric Company; it is the same job Johnny Burnette had one year earlier. Older electricians tease him about his long hair and sideburns. Elvis starts dating fifteen-year-old Dixie Locke, whom he met at church.
8 The Supreme Court rules against DC restaurants that had opposed the city’s anti-discrimination ordinance. “Negroes who (are] well behaved” must be served, wrote the court.
U.N. and Communist negotiators sign agreement for POW exchange.
13 Hefner buys MM’s nude shots for $500.
14 Ike urges Dartmouth graduates not to join the “book burners” who would bar “even the knowledge of Communism” from libraries.
17 Vernon and Gladys Presley’s twentieth wedding anniversary.
Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas stays Rosenberg death sentence, pending determination of previously undecided point of law.
19 Chief Justice Vinson vacates the stay granted the Rosenbergs by Douglas. Ike again refuses clemency. The Rosenbergs are electrocuted.
Coronet magazine warns women: “It is your duty to yourself to be feminine and desirable at all times in the eyes of the opposite sex.”
1 The administration announces that the U.S. deficit for the fiscal year ending June 30 is $9.3 billion; it is the largest in U.S. peacetime history.
In Managua, Nicaragua, the Organization of American States resolves to combat Communism. Guatemala does not attend.
7 At Sun Records, after paying four dollars, Elvis records two of his favorite Ink Spots numbers, “My Happiness’’ and “That’s When Your Heartaches Begin,” a on ten-inch acetate. He will give the records to Gladys. Owner Sam Phillips's “Girl Friday" adds this note to Elvis’s file: “Good ballad singer — hold.”
9 McCarthy threatens to investigate CIA. Allen Dulles threatens to fire any CIA employee who talks to McCarthy without checking with Dulles first. McCarthy’s first CIA target: Dean Acheson’s son-in-law, William Bundy (brother to McGeorge). Cohn calls CIA. Insisting upon Bundy’s immediate subcommittee appearance, Cohn says, “The son of a bitch has contributed to the Alger Hiss Defense Fund..,. Get him up here.” By the twelfth, Nixon, at the request of State’s Dulles, will have smoothed things over.
10 Robert Kennedy, not liking Cohn’s methods, has quit the staff of the Committee on Government Operations. Democrats on the committee and the investigations subcommittee are alienated by McCarthy’s highhanded committee staff hirings and firings; they vow to stay away from meetings and will not return for the rest of the year, an unheard-of Senate procedure.
12 The New York Times notes that “to boycott one’s fellow senator is about as grave a step as can be imagined. To lose face in the club that is the Senate is, sometimes, actually to lose all.”
26 Batista’s government turns back attack by Fidel Castro and 170 guerrillas. Batista imposes martial law. Castro, captured and jailed, continues to organize.
Virtually the entire adult population of Short Creek, Arizona, is arrested in a raid aimed at wiping out the last center of polygamy in the U.S.
27 The Korean War ends after three years’ battle by 5.7 million U.N. troops; 116,000 U.N. troops were killed, 54,000 of them American; one and one-half million North Koreans and Chinese were killed or wounded. U.S. troops used 12,346 pounds of ammunition per enemy fatality. The truce provides a cease-fire and demilitarized zone (DMZ) that, as it was in 1950 when the war began, is located at the 38th parallel.
30 Ike asks Congress to increase the statutory debt limit from $275 billion to $290 billion.
31 Senator Robert Taft, “Mr. Conservative,” dies. His last words are to his wife: “Well, Martha, glad to see you looking so well.”
The U.S.S.R. announces a successful H-bomb test.
Country singer Eddy Arnold ends an eight-year association with Colonel Tom Parker.
5 “Operation Big Switch,” a POW exchange, begins in Korea.
13 Domestic turmoil, in part aided by the CIA, brings down Iran’s Mossadegh; the Shah’s power is re-established. The Shah dissolves old parliament and agrees to permit international oil companies to sell Iranian oil.
23 On his return to Iran, the Shah announces that Iran needs immediate financial aid.
28 U.S. says Guatemala’s offer to United Fruit for its expropriated acres is too small.
5 Ike sends the Shah $45 million.
6 The POW exchange is completed; 3598 U.S. POWs are returned. Communists are accused of “brainwashing" U.N. prisoners.
8 McCarthy opens his first hearing investigating the army.
12 When Jacqueline Bouvier, twenty-four, and John Kennedy, thirty-six, leave the church after their wedding, 3000 people break through Newport, Rhode Island, police lines, almost crushing the bride. At the reception, the newlyweds spend two hours shaking the hands of 2000 guests.
13 Nikita Khruschev is named Soviet CP’s Central Committee’s first secretary.
14 Hefner resigns from Children's Activities; the content of Stag Party's first issue is almost decided. In a last-minute setback, the publisher of Stag, a field-and-stream magazine, complains about the name Stag Party. Hef changes the name of his magazine to Playboy and suggests a tuxedoed rabbit as embodying the magazine’s personality.
22 The second McCarthy hearing on the army begins.
23 McCarthy weds his long-time aide, Jean Kerr. Ike sends his regrets. Nixon, Allen Dulles, Joe Kennedy, and his sons, John F. and Robert, attend. Texas supporters give the newlyweds a Cadillac.
30 California governor Earl Warren is selected as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.
1 Hefner writes his first Playboy editorial, promising that his magazine will “give the American male a few extra laughs and a little diversion from the anxieties of the Atomic Age.”
France transfers a battalion from Korea to Indochina.
Little Richard, with Johnny Otis, records four songs; none are released at the time. Richard, wanting to do more hard-driving R&B, less gospel-tinged material, breaks with the Tempo Toppers and starts his own group. Little Richard and the Upsetters. The group will play across the South, earning $15 per night. In the repertoire: a tune called “Tutti Frutti.” (The original lyrics, Richard later admits, “were kind of vulgar”)
9 Dylan (“Do not go gentle into that good night”) Thomas dies in NYC. Malcolm (Under the Volcano) Lowry, hearing of Thomas’s death, pours “a libation of gin to his memory, drinks his health, and for some reason cuts down a tree.”
10 Cohn sends a telegram to McCarthy, honeymooning in the British West Indies, asking him to come home at once because an "extremely dangerous espionage" has been uncovered by his staff at radar labs at the Army Signal Corps installation in Monmouth, New Jersey. McCarthy will begin to attack the army, seeking to discredit Army Secretary Robert Stevens.
12 Greece and the U.S. sign an agreement permitting the U.S. to use Greek air and naval bases and station U.S. military in Greece,
By midmonth, 70,250 copies of Playboy, costing fifty cents, will be on the newstands. MM, dressed, is on the cover, while her nude photos are inside. By month's end, total sales will amount to 53,991; Hef will replace his Chevy with a red Studebaker convertible.
11 U.S. observes the last Armistice Day. The holiday will henceforth be called Veterans’ Day.
Iranian government security forces smash an attempted Communist and “extreme nationalist” uprising.
When McCarthy appears before the Executives’ Club of Chicago, his cheering crowd of 2500 is larger than crowds attracted at the same club by General Van Fleet, just back from Korea, or Arthur Godfrey. Among Chicago supporters are the publishers of the Chicago Tribune, Sears Roebuck’s board chairman, and International Harvesters’ president. “McCarthyism,” McCarthy says, "is Americanism with its sleeves rolled."
3 Joseph and Stewart Alsop’s column: "McCarthy is the only major politician in the country who can be labeled ‘liar’ without fear of libel.”
5 Iran and Britain announce resumed relations.
9 GE announces it will fire any Communist employee.
The eighth session of the U.N. recesses.
J. Robert Oppenheimer’s security clearance is withdrawn on Ike’s order. Oppenheimer’s “Communist associations" and his opposition to the H-bomb are seen as “proof of fundamental defects in his character.”
21 Former Iranian premier Mossadegh is sentenced to three years’ solitary confinement.
25 DiMaggio gives MM a mink coat for Christmas.
28 U.S. armed forces are reduced from a peak of 3.6 million in April of 1952 to 3.4 million.
The United States, with 6 percent of the world’s population, has 60 percent of its cars, 58 percent of its telephones, 45 percent of its radios. 34 percent of its railroads. More than half of the American population will take vacations, 83 percent of them in cars.
Teflon cookware and plastic contact lenses reach the market. LSD is synthesized.
An American Cancer Society report finds a higher death rate among cigarette smokers. Pipe stores are quickly cleaned out. Cornell research conclusively shows seat belts save lives. MM quits smoking.
America’s favorite meal is found to be fruit cup, vegetable soup, steak and potatoes, peas, rolls and butter, and pie a la mode. Lipton Soup creates “California Dip”: Mix one package dry onion soup mix with two cups sour cream.
Lewis Mumford writes: “In the name of freedom we are rapidly creating a police state; and in the name of democracy we have succumbed not to creeping socialism, but to galloping Fascism.”
Comic book publishers adopt a code they say will end obscene, vulgar, and excessively violent comics.
Blackboard Jungle, Lord of the Flies, Lord of the Rings, and The Doors of Perception are published.
More than 34 million homes now have TV sets.
Concern is voiced in Europe and the U.S. about the effects of nuclear fallout and the dangers of radioactive waste.
Billy Graham holds revivals in New York and London.
Oral Roberts's 1954 report: 215 radio stations broadcast Healing Waters to an audience of one million; there are 175,147 radio conversions; 155,000 anointed handkerchiefs are mailed; 1.4 million attend revival meeting, of which 35,764 are converted.
Answering the question, “What man that you have heard or read about, living today in any part of the world, do you admire the most?”, Americans say: Ike, Churchill, Adlai Stevenson, McCarthy, Truman, MacArthur, Pope Pius XII, Fulton Sheen, Herbert Hoover.
Pop hits: “Hernando’s Hideaway,” “Mister Sandman,” “Young at Heart,” “Three Coins in the Fountain,” “Hey, There.” The Midnighters’ “Work with Me Annie,” “Annie Had a Baby,” and “Annie’s Aunt Fannie” are charted on pop stations in large cities.
1 First live color telecasts: the Cotton Bowl and the Rose Bowl.
Second issue of Playboy introduces the “Playmate" of the month. Hef rents an office.
4 Elvis returns to Sam Phillips’s recording studio to make another four-dollar record. This time, Phillips is there. Elvis records “Casual Love Affair” and “I’ll Never Stand in Your Way.” He will later audition with gospel group the Songfellows. He flunks the audition.
6 The second session of the 83rd Congress opens.
7 Ike, in his “State of the Union” message, proposes legislation to deprive persons of citizenship if found guilty of plotting to overthrow the government.
8 Elvis’s nineteenth birthday. He is the only one in the family who is working steadily. Vernon’s back is still bad, Gladys’s legs are swelling.
12 J. Foster Dulles summarizes an administration policy of “maximum deterrent at a bearable cost,” de-emphasizing ground forces, emphasizing air power, atomic weapons.
14 Nash-Kelvinator and Hudson Motor merge as American Motors.
MM, DiMaggio marry in San Francisco. None of MM’s friends attend. Before the ceremony an L.A. journalist asks MM how she feels about getting married. “I have sucked my last cock ” she replies. MM signs the certificate as Norma Jeane Mortenson Dougherty and takes two years off her age. For a wedding gift, MM gives DiMaggio her nude photos. The couple spend their honeymoon in a four-dollar room in Paso Robles after DiMaggio assures himself the motel has TV.
23 Publisher‘s Weekly reports that the “theme of religion dominates nonfiction 1953 best sellers.”
28 Ike predicts the slackening national economy will go up soon.
29 Unemployment reaches a three-year high: 2.36 million.
Reader’s Digest publishes an article, “Organic Farming — Bunk,” that is condensed from a Fortune magazine article called “The Dawn of Farming’s Chemical Age.” The article praises DDT, chlordane. and other chemical additives.
Draft call this month falls to 18,000, the lowest since June. 1952.
2 On a vote of 85-1, the Senate appropriates $214,000 to continue funding McCarthy’s investigations.
6 U.S. sends B-26 bombers to Indochina.
7 Back to God, an interdenominational TV religious program, is broadcast featuring Ike and American religious leaders.
14 Guatemala, a TV documentary, alleges Communist influence in Central America.
15 Ronald Reagan opens a two-week engagement with the Honey Brothers in the Ramona Room of the Last Frontier Hotel in Las Vegas. Favorable reviews include: “Rollicking Reagan proves he can blend in with veterans of the nightclub beat — dancing. singing, and clowning, complete with pratfalls." About this era, Nancy Reagan later recalls, “Waiting it out without working was hard on the budget, but we got by.”
16 A report is issued saying there were even more unemployed people in January than had been first thought: 3.08 million.
Hef moves a bed into his office; he starts sleeping with a nurse, returning home only on weekends.
21 Army Secretary Stevens denounces the “humiliating manner” in which the commander of Camp Kilmer, N.J., was questioned by McCarthy.
23 Inoculation with an antipolio serum begins in Pittsburgh.
24 The army’s Stevens agrees to permit army personnel to testify before McCarthy’s subcommittee.
Vice president Nixon says to aide, “It’s probably time we dumped [McCarthy).”
Evangelist Rex Humbard tells Roberts to use TV to tell Christ’s story.
MM, DiMaggio go to Hollywood where MM begins work on There’s No Business Like Show Business. When her arms and back are shown to have bruises, MM tells the press, “Joe and I have our quarrels.” (Apparently sex was not one of them. Marilyn tells friends, “Joe’s biggest bat is not the one he uses on the field”) This spring DiMaggio's ulcer begins to bleed again.
1 U.S. conducts a large H-bomb test on the Marshall Islands.
3 Gallup Poll finds that more than half of all Americans agree that all known Communists should be jailed; 58 percent favor finding all Communists even if some innocent people are hurt in the process; 78 percent think it a good idea to report any neighbors whom they suspect as Communists to the FBI. Ike wants to make a strong speech agaiast McCarthy. Nixon tells Ike about polls and advises against it. Ike waters down speech.
7 Stevenson comments about Ike’s “softness" toward McCarthy: “They may consider this good politics, but it is vicious government.”
8 Ike tells Congress that the U.S. has spent $7.7 billion in military aid since 1949.
9 On See It Now Edward R. Mu now warns, “This is no time for men who oppose McCarthy’s methods to keep silent.”
11 The New York Times publishes, beginning on its front page, the full text of a thirty-four-page report (released by the army) describing McCarthy’s direct threats and attempts to get preferential treatment for his assistant Schine. The permanent Investigations subcommittee responds by insisting that McCarthy resign while they investigate him. Senate majority leader Lyndon Johnson permits the hearings to be televised.
13 Richard Nixon, on TV, says, “It is true that President Eisenhower does not engage in personal vituperation and vulgar namecalling and promiscuous letter writing in asserting his leadership, and I say, 'Thank God he doesn’t!’ ”
25 From Here to Eternity wins the Academy Award for best picture.
26 Indochina receives twenty-five more B26s.
27 In a House foreign affairs subcommittee report, it is asserted that an armistice in Indochina would be appeasement equivalent to Munich.
30 The Viet Minh launch an attack on Dien Bien Phu.
5 Modified martial law is imposed in Nicaragua after the failure of a plot to assassinate President Anastasio Somoza.
Secretary of State Dulles tells a House foreign affairs subcommittee that continued technical help from Chinese Communists to Viet Minh forces might call for retaliation.
6 Joe McCarthy, accepting Ed Murrow’s offer of equal time, appears on See It Now, saying. “Ordinarily I would not take time out from the important work at hand to answer Murrow.... I feel justified because Murrow is a symbol, the leader and cleverest of the jackal pack which is always found at the throat of anyone who dares to expose individual Communists and traitors."
12 Oppenheimer is suspended by the AEC pending a security review.
Bill Haley and the Comets record "(We’re Gonna) Rock around the Clock.”
14 “Today in the U.S. the Christian faith is back in the center of things,” says Time magazine. Congress will soon vote to add the words “under God” to the pledge of allegiance. TV spot commercials will announce, “The family that prays together stays together.” Jane Russell announces, “I love God, and when you get to know him you will find he’s a Livin' Doll.” The Ideal Toy company offers a doll that, when stroked, genuflects. Mustard seed necklaces become popular.
16 Ike says that under the European Defense Community treaty, the U.S. will regard any action threatening the community as a threat to the U.S.
21 U.S. planes ferry French paratroopers from France to Indochina.
22 Army/McCarthy public hearings begin.
Sam Phillips sends for Elvis and asks him to sing everything he knows. Elvis sings blues, gospel, country, and “Dean Martin stuff.” Phillips sends Elvis to sing with Scotty Moore and Elvis’s old friend. Bill “Blackie” Black. Elvis shows up wearing pink slacks, pink shirt, and white bucks.
5 Ike says the U.S. has lost prestige and self-respect because of the Army/McCarthy dispute. Nixon and William Rogers agree.
7 Ho Chi Minh’s forces defeat French at Dien Bien Phu, ending French power in Indochina. Since 1945, the Indochina war has resulted in 100,000 military fatalities. Responding to the news, Ike first speaks of “falling domino” theory.
9 Ike issues order establishing an internal security division within the justice department to expedite spy prosecutions.
11 Army defense counsel Joseph N. Welch lashes out at McCarthy: “Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you no sense of decency?”
17 In the case labeled Brown vs. Board of Education of Topeka, the U.S. Supreme Court finds that racial segregation in public schools violates the Fourteenth Amendment.
19 Nicaragua severs diplomatic relations with Guatemala, charging that Guatemala is Communist-dominated and threatens the solidarity of the Americas.
24 Fiercely conservative Senator William Jenner says to McCarthy about his social blacklisting, “You’re the kid who came to the party and peed in the lemonade."
Air force planes carry U.S. arms to Nicaragua and Honduras to implement recently signed military agreements.
1 The Atomic Energy Commission finds Robert Oppenheimer “loyal and discreet” but recommends against his reinstatement as an AEC consultant.
10 McCarthy denies under oath he ever asked the army to grant a direct commission to his aide David Schine.
17 U.S. asks maritime nations to embargo arms to Guatemala.
18 Pierre Mendes-France chosen French premier. He urges the French to drink more milk and to give up wine.
27 With CIA help and further aid from Nicaragua’s Somoza, Guatemalan President Arbenz is overthrown by a right-wing colonel.
29 The new Guatemalan junta orders arrest of Communist Party members.
2 Polled on diets, 26 percent of American males say they want to lose weight, while 45 percent of women want to lose.
Polled on war, 59 percent of Americans say they feel there is “much danger of world war.”
3 Britain’s food rationing ends.
First Newport Jazz Festival is convened.
5 On a Monday evening in Sam Phillips’s Sun recording studio, Elvis, with Moore and Blackie, records Arthur Crudup’s “That’s All Right (Mama).”
7 An enthusiastic DJ plays “That’s All Right (Mama)” fourteen times in a row on a popular Memphis evening radio program. Red Hot and Blue, accruing forty-seven phone calls. After Elvis is interviewed on the air, 7000 requests come in for the record. The master still has to be cut and a flip side recorded.
10 Elvis, Moore, and Blackie record “Blue Moon of Kentucky” as the flip side of “That’s All Right (Mama).”
11 The first White Citizens Council organizes in Mississippi.
12 “Blue Moon of Kentucky” is played on Memphis radio.
13 The U.S. announces a new military assistance program for Thailand.
19 “That’s All Right (Mama)” and "Blue Moon of Kentucky,” Sun catalogue number 209, are released. Both the A and B sides become immediate hits with race, country, and pop listeners.
20 Cohn resigns as counsel to the permanent investigations subcommittee.
21 New Geneva accords divide Vietnam at the 17th parallel — a Communist government rules the north, “nationalist" in south.
26 Polled on marriage, the following, in order, are wives’ complaints about husbands: lack of consideration, drinking, laziness, domineering attitude, going out too much. Husbands' complaints about wives: nagging. spending too much money, going out too much, gossiping, poor homemaking.
30 Elvis in his first large concert opens for Slim Whitman. About that evening Elvis remembers, “I came out on the stage, and I was scared stiff. It was my first big appearance in front of an audience, and I came out and I was doin' a fast-type tune, one of my first records, and ever’body was hollerin' and I didn’t know what they was hollerin’ at. Ever'body was screamin’ and ever’thing, and I came off stage and my manager told me they were hollerin’ because I was wigglin’. Well, I went back out for an encore, and I kind o' did a little more, and the more I did, the wilder they went.”
Life is “rocky” between Hef and Millie; also between MM and DiMaggio.
“That’s All Right (Mama)’’ hits number three on the Memphis charts.
MM goes from the No Business Like Show Business set directly to that of The Seven Year Itch.
Bill Haley and the Comets cover Big Joe Turner’s “Shake, Rattle, and Roll.” The song is a hit that will eventually sell 25 million copies.
6 A chairman is elected for a Senate select subcommittee to determine whether to censure McCarthy for behavior unbecoming a senator.
7 The U.S. issues a “white paper” that alerts the hemisphere to the danger of Communism.
Billboard carries ads for Haley's “Shake, Rattle, and Roll” and Elvis’s "That’s All Right (Mama).”
10 Elvis performs again at Overton Kirk Shell in Memphis.
19 The “Communist Control Act” is passed; it deprives U.S. Communist Party members of rights enjoyed by ordinary citizens.
20 The 83rd Congress adjourns.
25 The new Guatemala junta bans Communism.
31 In the Army/McCarthy hearings, the committee absolves McCarthy but criticizes Cohn for “aggressive” efforts on Schine’s behalf.
Col. Parker begins managing Hank Snow and develops “Hank Snow Jamboree Attractions.”
Elvis’s Memphis fan club is organized.
2 The U.N. issues a report saying that up to 55 percent of the world’s population is illiterate.
3 Ike signs the 1954 “Espionage and Sabotage Act,” authorizing the death penalty for peacetime espionage.
7 School integration begins in Washington, D.C., and Baltimore.
8 The Southeast Asia Treaty Organization, SEATO, a collective defense pact, is signed by the U.S., Britain, France, Australia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Pakistan, and Thailand.
9 Elvis, Blackie, and Moore, now “Hillbilly Cat and the Blue Moon Boys,” perform on a flatbed truck for a Katz Drugstore grand opening. Elvis earns $32.50.
In New York City, MM makes the famous subway grating shot. Later, at the St. Regis hotel, she and DiMaggio fight all night. Next day, a friend notices bruises on MM’s back and arms.
11 The Miss America Pageant is telecast coast to coast for the first time.
13 Medic, the first TV doctor show, takes the air.
16 Mississippi’s legislature completes work on a constitutional amendment permitting the abolition of the public school system.
23 Elvis cuts second record. “Good Rockin’ Tonight”/“I Don’t Care If the Sun Don’t Shine.”
25 Phillips arranges for Elvis and the “boys” to appear on the Grand Ole Opry.
27 Steve Allen’s Tonight show becomes the first late-night network offering.
MM tells sports writers, “I’m just a pretty girl who’s soon forgotten. But not Joe. He’s an all-time great.”
30 Ike signs a bill providing for greater private participation in atomic power development.
31 McCarthy’s conduct is denounced by Democrats and mildly criticized by the GOP in a report issued by the subcommittee headed by Mundt.
1 Princeton re-elects Robert Oppenheimer director of the Institute for Advanced Study.
3 McCarthy refuses to account for funds given him to fight Communism.
6 MM throws out DiMaggio. (Later this month Frank Sinatra will help DiMaggio hire private eyes to watch MM.)
7 MM arrives at work, saying she “feels alive for the first time in days.”
13 In Van Nuys, California, Nixon announces that when he and Ike came to Washington they found a “blueprint for socializing America. This dangerous, well-oiled scheme contained plans for adding $40 billion to the national debt by 1956 ... and most disturbing of all, socialization of America’s greatest source of power, atomic energy.” Reporters question Nixon’s press secretary about documentation for his accusations. His press secretary says Nixon is "using figurative language.”
15 Polls show 35 percent of Americans feel favorably toward McCarthy; 46 percent feel unfavorably; 19 percent have no opinion.
16 Hillbilly Cat and the Blue Moon Boys appear on the radio program Louisiana Hayride, where Elvis will sing every Saturday night until the end of 1955.
21 Iran signs an agreement allowing an international oil consortium to operate Iran’s oil fields.
27 MM/DiMaggio divorce. DiMaggio will later be reported to be carrying a torch.
28 Ernest Hemingway wins a Nobel prize.
30 The defense department announces the elimination of segregated units within the armed forces.
31 The first Iranian oil to move freely in world markets since 1951 leaves Abadan.
U.S.S Power votes Playboy's Miss November as the “girl we would most like to swab down with.”
Elvis is chosen the eighth most promising country music artist at a DJs convention in Nashville.
Ronald Reagan signs as host of TV’s GE Theater at $125,000 annually. Says Reagan, “We were coming to the end of the line when GE made their offer. I took it.”
2 National elections give the Democrats control of the House and Senate.
8 The new Senate convenes to discuss censure of McCarthy.
11 Asked why more people are. attending church, 30 percent of those polled say “fear, unrest, uncertainty about future”; 19 percent say “renewed faith in God as Supreme Being"; 2 percent say “Ike’s influence.” The same poll shows 96 percent of Americans believe in God; 1 percent don’t; 3 percent express no opinion.
2 Joseph McCarthy is censured by the Senate, 67-22.
27 United Fruit and Guatemala sign a new contract giving Guatemala 30 percent of the company’s yearly profits in taxes.
28 France, South Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia sign an agreement in Paris granting the latter three full independence.
31 The NY Stock Exchange prices reach highest levels since 1929.
Year’s end: Hugh Hefner announces that Playboy's circulation has reached 175,000; Oral Roberts announces the conversion of his first million souls; Marilyn Monroe, wearing a black wig and traveling under the name Zelda Zonk, has deserted Hollywood and flown to New York, where she will study at the Actors Studio. ("A sex symbol,” she says, “becomes a thing. I hate being a thing”)
Elvis Presley signs with “Hank Snow Jamboree Attractions." They say they will make him a star.
At midnight, December 31, 1954, the second half of the "Quiet Decade” begins.