Portal:1950s

The 1950s Portal

Top, L-R: U.S. Marines engaged in street fighting during the Korean War, circa late September 1950; The first polio vaccine is developed by Jonas Salk.
Centre, L-R: US tests its first thermonuclear bomb with code name Ivy Mike in 1952. A 1954 thermonuclear test, code named Castle Romeo, is shown here; In 1959, Fidel Castro overthrows Fulgencio Batista in the Cuban Revolution, resulting in the creation of the first communist government in the Western hemisphere; Elvis Presley becomes the leading figure of rock and roll in the mid-1950s.
Bottom, L-R: Smoke rises from oil tanks on Port Said following the invasion of Egypt as part of the Suez Crisis in late 1956; French paratroopers march in Algiers in the beginning of the Algerian War, 1957; The Soviet Union launches Sputnik 1, the first artificial satellite to orbit the earth, in October 1957.

The 1950s (pronounced nineteen-fifties; commonly abbreviated as the "Fifties" or the " '50s") (among other variants) was a decade of the Gregorian calendar that began on January 1, 1950, and ended on December 31, 1959.

Throughout the decade, the world continued its recovery from World War II, aided by the post-World War II economic expansion. The period also saw great population growth with increased birth rates and the emergence of the baby boomer generation. Despite this recovery, the Cold War developed from its modest beginnings in the late 1940s to a heated competition between the Soviet Union and the United States by the early 1960s. The ideological clash between communism and capitalism dominated the decade, especially in the Northern Hemisphere, with conflicts including the Korean War in the early 1950s, the Cuban Revolution, the beginning of the Vietnam War in French Indochina, and the beginning of the Space Race with the launch of Sputnik 1 in 1957. Along with increased testing of nuclear weapons (such as RDS-37 and Upshot–Knothole), the tense geopolitical situation created a politically conservative climate. In the United States, a wave of anti-communist sentiment known as the Second Red Scare resulted in Congressional hearings by both houses in Congress. The beginning of decolonization in Africa and Asia also took place in this decade and accelerated in the following decade. (Full article...)

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American anti-communist propaganda of the 1950s, specifically addressing the entertainment industry

McCarthyism is the practice of making accusations of subversion and treason, especially when related to communism and socialism. The term originally referred to the controversial practices and policies of U.S. Senator Joseph McCarthy (R-Wisconsin), and has its origins in the period in the United States known as the Second Red Scare, lasting from the late 1940s through the 1950s. It was characterized by heightened political repression and persecution of left-wing individuals, and a campaign spreading fear of alleged communist and socialist influence on American institutions and of espionage by Soviet agents. After the mid-1950s, McCarthyism began to decline, mainly due to Joseph McCarthy's gradual loss of public popularity and credibility after several of his accusations were found to be false, and sustained opposition from the U.S. Supreme Court led by Chief Justice Earl Warren on human rights grounds. The Warren Court made a series of rulings on civil and political rights that overturned several McCarthyist laws and directives, and helped bring an end to McCarthyism.

What would become known as the McCarthy era began before McCarthy's rise to national fame. Following the First Red Scare, President Harry S. Truman signed an executive order in 1947 to screen federal employees for possible association with organizations deemed "totalitarian, fascist, communist, or subversive", or advocating "to alter the form of Government of the United States by unconstitutional means." In 1949, a high-level State Department official was convicted of perjury in a case of espionage, and the Soviet Union tested an atomic bomb. The Korean War started the next year, significantly raising tensions and fears of impending communist upheavals in the United States. In a speech in February 1950, McCarthy presented a list of alleged members of the Communist Party USA working in the State Department, which attracted substantial press attention, and the term McCarthyism was published for the first time in late March of that year in The Christian Science Monitor, along with a political cartoon by Herblock in The Washington Post. The term has since taken on a broader meaning, describing the excesses of similar efforts to crack down on alleged "subversive" elements. In the early 21st century, the term is used more generally to describe reckless and unsubstantiated accusations of treason and far-left extremism, along with demagogic personal attacks on the character and patriotism of political adversaries. (Full article...)
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Monroe in November 1953

Marilyn Monroe (/ˈmærəlɪn mʌnˈr/; born Norma Jeane Mortenson; June 1, 1926 – August 4, 1962) was an American actress, model and singer. Famous for playing comedic "blonde bombshell" characters, she became one of the most popular sex symbols of the 1950s and early 1960s and was emblematic of the era's sexual revolution. She was a top-billed actress for only a decade, but her films grossed $200 million (equivalent to $2 billion in 2020) by the time of her death in 1962. Long after her death, she continues to be a major icon of pop culture. In 1999, the American Film Institute ranked Monroe sixth on its list of the greatest female screen legends from the Golden Age of Hollywood.

Born and raised in Los Angeles, Monroe spent most of her childhood in foster homes and an orphanage; she married at age 16. She was working in a factory during World War II when she met a photographer from the First Motion Picture Unit and began a successful pin-up modeling career, which led to short-lived film contracts with 20th Century Fox and Columbia Pictures. After a series of minor film roles, she signed a new contract with Fox in late 1950. Over the next two years, she became a popular actress with roles in several comedies, including As Young as You Feel and Monkey Business, and in the dramas Clash by Night and Don't Bother to Knock. She faced a scandal when it was revealed that she had posed for nude photos before she became a star, but the story did not damage her career and instead resulted in increased interest in her films. (Full article...)

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