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What summer was like the year you were born

  • 1950: 'Father of the Bride'

    With WWII and the Great Depression now well behind them, Americans in 1950 found themselves with more time for leisure activities such as movies. On June 16, “Father of the Bride,” a romantic comedy starring Spencer Tracy, Joan Bennett, Elizabeth Taylor, and Don Taylor, was released, quickly becoming one of the biggest movies of the year.

  • 1951: TV's first color broadcast is seen by most in black and white

    During the summer of 1951, the first-ever color television show aired on CBS. The program starred Arthur Godfrey, Ed Sullivan, and George Balanchine, but only a handful of lucky Americans were able to see it, as many television sets could only broadcast in black and white. This remained true for several years, and even legendary shows such as “I Love Lucy,” that premiered later that fall, were filmed in monochrome.

  • 1952: 'Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl'

    Anne Frank is one of the most well-known victims of the Holocaust. Her diary, which was published in English for the first time on June 25, 1952, has given millions of people insight into her struggles with persecution and her years hiding from the Nazis. Today, her posthumous work has been translated into over 70 languages and has sold more than 25 million copies.

  • 1953: Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation

    On June 2, 1953, the world watched as Queen Elizabeth II was coronated in Westminster Abbey. The 27-year-old had succeeded her father some 14 months earlier after he had died of coronary thrombosis. Today, Queen Elizabeth also holds the title of Britain’s longest-reigning monarch, a distinction she earned on Sept. 9, 2015.

  • 1954: Elvis touches off a mainstream rock 'n' roll revolution

    In July 1954, an unknown singer named Elvis Presley walked into a recording studio at Sun Records in Memphis, Tennessee to lay down his first single, “That’s All Right (Mama).” The track aired on the radio two days later and was released as a single two weeks after that. The song, while not one of Elvis’ most memorable hits, can be considered the first step in his path to fame.

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  • 1955: Disneyland opens

    Disneyland is a classic summer vacation spot for many families. In July 1955, the theme park opened its gates and 20 completed attractions for the first time. A 90-minute special, called “Dateline Disneyland,” aired on ABC for those who weren’t lucky enough to get their hands on tickets.

  • 1956: First Eurovision Song Contest

    Amid the rock and roll craze that was sweeping the nation during the early months of 1956, the first Eurovision Song Contest was held May 24th in Lugano, Switzerland. The pan-European singing competition, which was intended to promote peace across a war-ravaged continent, has since become a yearly tradition. In the summer of 2020, a comedy film titled “Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga” was released on Netflix, bringing the contest to an audience outside of Europe.

  • 1957: 'American Bandstand' goes national

    American Bandstand,” the music and dance television program that dominated the ‘50s, ‘60s, and ‘70s, began airing nationally on Aug. 5, 1957. Hosted by Dick Clark, the series started out as a local Philadelphia show before it was picked up by ABC, becoming a smash hit. The series launched the careers of many famous musicians and comedians including Paul Anka, Simon & Garfunkel, and Jerry Lee Lewis.

  • 1958: Introduction of the hula hoop

    During the summer of 1958, a toy craze was sweeping the nation. Richard Knerr and Arthur Melin, founders of the toy company Wham-O, debuted their newest creation: the plastic hula hoop. Inspired by the bamboo hoops Australian children played with, the duo created this plastic version, which sold for $1.98. Over the next two months, more than 25 million hula hoops were sold.

  • 1959: Hawaii becomes a state

    On Aug. 21, 1959, nearly 60 years after it became a U.S. territory, Hawaii was admitted to the union as the 50th state. Hawaii holds the distinction of being the only state located outside of North America and the only island state. Author Mark Twain once called the tropical paradise “the loveliest fleet of islands that lies in any ocean.”

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