Yesterday’s reminiscence of the first movie I ever saw in a theater has put me in a nostalgic mood, so with the help of Wikipedia, I’ve compiled a list of interesting things that happened in 1956, the year in which Mrs. T and I were born.
So far as I know, nothing of any particular interest took place on February 6, my birthday, but the rest of the year was reasonably eventful, especially as regards art and culture. Among other noteworthy occurrences:
• Elvis Presley made his network TV debut and released his first movie, Love Me Tender.
• My Fair Lady, Leonard Bernstein’s Candide, Eugene O’Neill’s Long Day’s Journey into Night, and Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot opened on Broadway.
• John Osborne’s Look Back in Anger opened in London.
• The Huntley-Brinkley Report, the first big-name nightly TV newscast, was launched.
• The Price Is Right made its TV debut.
• The Milton Berle Show was canceled.
• Videotape was publicly demonstrated for the first time.
• William Shawn became the editor of The New Yorker.
• Marilyn Monroe married Arthur Miller.
• Grace Kelly married Prince Rainier.
• Marty won the Best Picture Oscar.
• Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis dissolved their partnership.
• The Wizard of Oz was shown on TV for the first time.
• Humphrey Bogart made his last movie, The Harder They Fall.
• Books published in 1956 included James Baldwin’s Giovanni’s Room, Saul Bellow’s Seize the Day, Albert Camus’ The Fall, Ian Fleming’s Diamonds Are Forever, Allen Ginsberg’s Howl, L. Ron Hubbard’s Scientology, Billie Holiday’s Lady Sings the Blues, Robert Lowell’s Life Studies, Grace Metalious’ Peyton Place, Edwin O’Connor’s The Last Hurrah, William H. Whyte’s The Organization Man, and Angus Wilson’s Anglo-Saxon Attitudes.
• Films released in 1956 include Around the World in 80 Days, Bigger Than Life, Giant, Lust for Life, The Man Who Knew Too Much, The Searchers, and The Ten Commandments.
• Records released in 1956 include Chet Baker Sings, Chuck Berry’s “Roll Over Beethoven,” Johnny Cash’s “I Walk the Line,” Ray Charles’ “Hallelujah I Love Her So,” Miles Davis’ Round About Midnight, Ellington at Newport, Ella and Louis, Peggy Lee’s Black Coffee, the Louvin Brothers’ Tragic Songs of Life, Charles Mingus’ Pithecanthropus Erectus, Elvis Presley’s “Hound Dog,” Sonny Rollins’ Saxophone Colossus, and Frank Sinatra’s Songs for Swingin’ Lovers.
• Among those who made the cover of Time: Jacques Barzun (who is 103 years old and still kicking!), Maria Callas, Duke Ellington, Sigmund Freud (painted by Ben Shahn), Rex Harrison, William Holden, Edward Hopper, Marilyn Monroe, and Eero Saarinen.
• Fred Allen, Max Beerbohm, Clifford Brown, Tommy Dorsey, Lyonel Feininger, Alfred Kinsey, H.L. Mencken, A.A. Milne, Jackson Pollock, and Art Tatum died.
• Geena Davis, Bo Derek, Kenny G, Carrie Fisher, Mel Gibson, Tom Hanks, Tony Kushner, Nathan Lane, Bill Maher, Mark Morris, Johnny Rotten, David Sedaris, and Dwight Yoakam were born.
All these things happened in my lifetime, more or less, though I wasn’t paying attention yet. I didn’t become aware of the larger world around me until November 22, 1963. I vaguely recall the death of my maternal grandfather the year before, but the assassination of John Kennedy is the first public event that I can now remember with any distinctness. After that, the lights went up and the show began.