Step Back in Time - The 1950s
Rock ‘n’ Roll emerged in the 1950s with the arrival of Elvis Presley on the music scene in 1956. Elvis is still celebrated today as the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll with an enormous amount of impersonators around the globe still paying tribute to ‘The King’.
Fun Fact: Parkes in NSW has been hosting an Elvis Festival since 1993, including a special "Elvis Express" train from Sydney to Parkes.
In 1959 a charted plane with Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson went down and all of them, including the pilot perished. This tragedy was later known as ‘the day the music died’ and was forever memorialised in Don McLean’s hit ‘American Pie’ in 1972.
Fun Fact: Freddy Martin and Sammy Kayne’s hit single ‘I’ve got a lovely bunch of coconuts’ was number 1 on the charts in Australia for 3 weeks in April 1950.
The 1950s were also known as the golden age of television, with 4.4 million American families owning a television set in their homes. Americans spent most of their free time watching television and it became a huge influence on what to wear and buy. This American influence spread to the UK, Europe and Australia.
Fashion changed greatly during the early 1950s with young men and women being released from the disciplines of the Armed Forces. They opted for a more relaxed up-beat style with Hawaiian shirts, striped t-shirts and bright cotton frocks leading the way.
Fun Fact: In 1951 Melbourne women started to wear short dresses with full skirts over stiff petticoats and the trend took on Australia wide.
1950 was a big year for comic books when Charlie Brown, Snoopy and the rest of the Peanuts crew were introduced to the world by creator Charles M Shultz in the classic comic strips. This was closely followed in 1951 by comic classic Dennis the Menace in The Beano comic.
Fun Fact: Dennis ran in more than 1000 newspapers and in nearly 50 countries around the world and still continues to this day with his trusty sidekick Gnasher.
We saw a new Queen in 1953 with the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, hundreds of millions tuned in on their TVs to watch Queen Elizabeth II taking over the throne. We also saw a new on-screen princess in Walt Disney’s movie Cinderella in 1950, which was marketed as ‘A love story with music’.
Fun Fact: TV dinners where introduced to America in 1953 and featured a Thanksgiving style dinner with Turkey and Potatoes!
Dr Seuss released his iconic book Cat in the Hat in 1957 and it quickly became a family favourite, later being made into a movie of the same name in 2003. How The Grinch Stole Christmas was released in 1957 and has now just premiered as The Grinch just in time for Christmas this year (we loved it here at The Vintage Toy Box!!).
Another book which has also been translated to the big screen is Horton Hears a Who! which was written in 1955 and released in 2008 as a movie. Dr Seuss had written 60 books in his career.
“You’re never too old, wacky or wild to pick up a book and read to a child” – Dr Seuss
In the mid 1950s Play-Doh first hit the shelves. Originally made in off-white, but later re-introduced in a three-pack of red, blue and yellow. Advertisements were regularly shown during children’s television shows which furthered product sales, leading to a high spike in children’s toy advertisements on TV.
Fun Fact: During the 1930s Play-Doh was actually used as wallpaper cleaner and it wasn’t until the 1950s that it was reworked and re-marketed as a children’s toy!
Disneyland first opened its doors in 1955 with the grand opening of the Disneyland Resort in California. It took one year to construct and since then has undergone continued construction time and time again to add and extend. New additions included New Orleans Square featuring the Pirates of the Caribbean, Bear Country (now known as Critter Country), Splash Mountain and the homes of Winnie the Pooh and Piglet and Mickey’s Toontown, a small sized recreation of the Mickey Mouse Universe where visitors can meet all the characters and visit their homes.
Fun Fact: Mickey’s Toontown was actually inspired by ‘Who Framed Roger Rabbit’ and resembles a set from the Max Fleischer cartoon.
During 1958 the Hula Hoop twirled into the shops, invented by Arthur K ‘Spud’ Melin and Richard Kneer. The men first marketed the Hula Hoop as an exercise hoop. 20 million hoops were sold in less than 4 months and reached a whopping 100 million sales in 2 years. Due to the ever growing love for the Hula Hoop it was inducted into the Toy Hall of Fame in 1999. Hula Hooping is still extremely popular with entertainers using Hula Hoops with fire and light effects to wow the crowd.
Fun Fact: The most Hula Hoops twirled at once was an impressive 160 which was set by Marawa the Amazing!
In 1957 the modern day Frisbee flew onto the scene, being the first registered trademark of the Wham-O Toy Company. By 1994 one hundred million Frisbees had been sold, and there is now even an association dedicated to Frisbee enthusiasts called the International Frisbee Association founded in 1967. Here at The Vintage Toy Box we stock an awesome Frisbee with a vintage style seaside design. Perfect for family picnics over the summer months.