LIFE magazine presents: 30 Dumb Inventions
of the 1950s and 60s. via laughing squid.
The Footnotes of Mad Men
explores and discusses the historic events, themes, and cultural mores of the show.
- vintage men's magazine cover scans. (slightly NSFW) [more inside]
How Nuclear Radiation Can Change Our Race
. The excellent Modern Mechanix
brings us Mechanix Illustrated's uninformed 1953 article on the effects of nuclear fallout.
But why, then, don't we have our superintelligent bobblehead beagles?
Before Mr. A, The Question, Dr. Strange, Spider-Man, or, well, anything, there was Steve Ditko's 1953 debut, Paper Romance
in Daring Love #1
. It was soon followed by creepier fare such as Ditko's first professional work
, 1954's Stretching Things
, A Hole in His Head
, and Buried Alive!
Shortly after, Ditko illustrated the cover for Space Adventures #10
and the story Homecoming
, which began (Or didn't, depending on who you believe
) a decades-long association with Charlton Comics that would soon yield Von Mohl Vs. The Ants
, If Looks Could Kill
, You Are the Jury
, Doom in the Air
, The Worm Turns
, Day of Reckoning
, and Car Show
, a rare humour piece for Charlton's MAD clone From Here To Insanity
. All these, and many more, courtesy of the Steve Ditko Comics Weblog
's It Stalks the Public Domain!
Frank Soltesz was a master of fascinating cutaway illustrations depicting "modern businesses" in the '40s and '50s - from hotels
, grocery stores
, and more
. (via Telstar Logistics Blog) [more inside]
Keep watching the skies
- The New York Times looks back at 50s Sci Fi films in anticipation of Alien Trespass
, the new film from X-Files veteran R.K. Goodwin
. One or two of those classics haven't even been remade yet!
Remember the Fifties? For a certain generation, who could forget those golden innocent days as depicted in shows like Happy Days
and the band Sha Na Na. But it turns out that vision of the 50's is mostly fantasy and never existed, largely invented by a group of Columbia U students around 1969
. [more inside]
Today's date? Why, it's...July 11, 2052, and man has been cowering in terror, self-sealed in his own living-tombs since that day of horror in...1952. Remember? 100 years ago, the sky above America turned black...with the dread flight of millions of ferocious, gigantic ants! [more inside]
Comics great Jack Kamen
(probably best known today as the father of inventor Dean Kamen
) has died at 88. [more inside]
- cute collection of comic book images and language conveying sound and motion. Also see anastasiav's prior post: Ka-BOOM
, the Dictionary of Comic Book Words on Historical Principles. (via oink!) [more inside]
If you can make it through the glacially paced intro and can put up with the typically clunky, often laughable and jingoistic fifties-style narration, this 1958 film from Chevrolet, The American Look
is worth viewing. Chock full of futuristic telephones, toasters, blenders, office machines, architecture and more, it's a mid-century design lover's dream. The film is visually striking and elegant, and presented in widescreen format. Here's part 2
and part 3
. Or see it here in its entirety
. [more inside]
"My name is Mike Wallace.
The cigarette is Philip Morris." Before there was 60 Minutes
, there was The Mike Wallace Interview
. Thirty minutes with Steve Allen
, Frank Lloyd Wright
, Kirk Douglas
, Pearl Buck
, and Salvador Dali
, to name just a few.
"If Communists liked what we did, that was their good luck,"
said Lee Hays, founding member of the Almanac Singers
. A fascinating portrait of one of the linchpins of the politically engaged folk movement of the '40s and '50s. Hays sang beside the more celebrated
(and, on one important day in Bob Dylan history, infamous
) Pete Seeger on such classic Almanac albums as Talking Union
. [Listen here
In the early 1950's, Monsanto Chemical Company
, MIT and Disneyland collaborated
their resources and creative brainpower to build
"the house of 1986." Using 30,000 pounds of plastic (The building's structure, carpet, chairs, sinks, appliances and floors were all plastic. About $7,500 to $15,000 worth.), the Monsanto House of the Future
* was opened to an excited public in June of 1957. It was closed in 1967 as ideas of the future were beginning to change. Let's take a quick tour,
shall we? *(Not to be confused with Xanadu Homes of Tomorrow.) [more inside]
The Unsung Joe: Where bit-part actors go when they die.
Biographies of the most obscure micro-stars of 1940s and '50s cinema, all remarkably well-researched and richly illustrated.
Hey daddy-o, when you hear that big brash horn section pump out that oddly familiar riff
, only to stop cold and make way for that that prescient single note from an electric guitar, followed straightaway by a twangy voice in perfect
rockabilly delivery proclaiming "well, she's got a dress that looks like a sack!
", then brother, you're listening to the hoppin' boppin' sound of Wally Deane
's Drag On
. Once you hear it, you'll wonder why Quentin Tarrantino never put it in a movie. Wally Deane
: one of the greatest rockabilly acts you never heard of.
New York artist Ashley Hope
's Ripeness is All
exhibit at the Tilton Gallery
recreates crime scene photographs of murdered women from the 1910s through the 1990s as oil paintings on huge 4' x 6' canvasses. [some nsfw art] [more inside]
Sex and the College Girl, by Norah Johnson
A view from an educated woman in the 1950s: "Two criticisms rise above the rest: people in college are promiscuous, for one thing, and, for another, they are getting married and having children too early. These are interesting observations because they contradict each other."
In 1954, the producers of the radio show Sergeant Preston of the Yukon
needed a gimmick to make sure its radio audience would watch the TV version
of the show. Meanwhile, the show's sponsor, Quaker Oats, needed a follow-up to their ad campaign about how Quaker Puffed Wheat is shot out of guns
. So Chicago adman, Bruce Baker (later the creator of Captain Crunch
), dreamt up a wildly successful PR stunt for both Sgt. Preston of the Yukon and Quaker Oats by buying up one-inch plots of land in the Yukon
(with legal assistance from future British Columbia senator
George van Roggen) and giving away deeds to the land
for free in copies of Quaker Oats cereal. (For a picture of the deed, click here
) [more inside]
Photographs of American Cities
from the middle of the 20th Century.
Through a Lens Darkly
- on September 4, 1957, when 15-year-old Elizabeth Eckford tried to enter Little Rock Central High, she was blocked by the National Guard and surrounded by a screaming mob of 250: "Lynch her! Lynch her!" "No nigger bitch is going to get in our school! Get out of here!" "Go back to where you came from!" Looking for a friendly face, she turned to an old woman, who spat on her
. Dramatic news footage
. Ernest Green, another of the Little Rock 9 recalls
the first day of school. [more inside]
For many kids, the space age
made its TV debut years before Sputnik with 1950's TV space serials.
1950 - Space Patrol - The Hidden Treasure of Mars
. (Part two
1954 - Rocky Jones' Space, Space Ranger - Rocky's Odyssey
. (Chapters two
1954 - Flash Gordon - Deadline at Noon
and Akim the Terrible
. [more inside]
Mars and Beyond
- 50 years ago, this animated episode of Tomorrowland aired on Disneyland a few months after the launch of Sputnik - an entertaining melange of astronomy, sci-fi, pop culture, science, speculation, and surreality. Walt himself and Wernher von Braun make guest appearances and clip 5 is particularly trippy. (Parts 2
"For the quarter-century following World War II, a special kind of classroom film received wide circulation. These "mental hygiene" films thrived in a confused and nervous America. The rebellious behavior of young people challenging the social norms struck fear into the hearts of parents and educators, who saw dark futures for the teens who broke the rules and refused to fit in with society. These concerned adults embraced the metal hygiene film as a new means of delivering social guidance."
Program One: Manners, Menstruation and The American Way
; Program Two: Dating, Deliquency and Diversity
; Program Three: Conformity, Safety and The BombSpecial Bonus: Amy Sedaris, Paul Dinello, Mitch Rouse & Steven Colbert re-enact How To Be Popular (from Program Two).
Although Industrial Musicals
and their jaunty odes to corporate pride and brand loyalty have seen the same fate as the values they espoused (mostly
), goofily earnest and undeniable catchy tunes like Exxon's Up Came Oil♫
, General Electric's Make a Woman Out of Your Wife♫
, and The Monroe Calculator Company's 1660 & 65♫
are still as potent as all get out!
[More songs and albums to help you get your gray flannel funk on inside]
Stand By For Crime!
Archive.org presents the astonishing adventures of Chuck Morgan, intrepid radio muckracker and crimefighter, as he battles The Communist Menace, investigates The Wetback Murders, and solves The Marijuana Mystery. Circa 1953; twenty-six half-hour episodes in mp3 format, each approximately 9 MB.
1950's US Print Advertisements
Click thumbnails for larger versions. via
!WOm!WAm! WOMEN Doing Things To Men!
An insane but illuminating website of bizarrely "wholesome" fetishism
depicting examples of women attacking men from 50s/60s popular culture. (slightly NSFW)
Extracts from the journals of Susan Sontag
dating from the 1950s and 1960s were published in this morning's Guardian G2.
NPR: 'My Lobotomy'
In 1960, Howar Dully was a badly behaved 12-year-old. He was lobotomized
with an icepick
(as were hundreds of others) and talks about it on this radio show. See also.
British public information films.
A couple of months back, there was a post
about an online exhibition of British propaganda films from WWII. Now, the UK National Archives, who appear to be slowly working their way through the decades, have posted some public information films from the 40s and 50s. BBC News discusses
the history of public information films, particularly the famous "Coughs and sneezes spread diseases" (available in Windows Media (sigh) here
My favourite is this
optimistic look at how the new towns developed after the war were going to be just *great*. I grew up in a new town - Hemel Hempstead
. Let's just say it didn't quite work out
Fred and Ethel resurrected as corporate shills
"Through the magic of Hollywood, famously tightfisted Fred (William Frawley) and his irascible wife, Ethel (Vivian Vance), are brought back to life in a series of entertaining vignettes," California-based PacifiCare said in a release about its new television advertising campaign.
Using body doubles, voice impersonators and computer-generated imagery, the national TV ads that will premiere in mid October will enable the two long-dead actors to "speak" once more. And, oddly enough, they'll be talking about PacifiCare's new drug plan.
Do you consider yourself a latter-day "beatnik"? Even young fans
of Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg proudly christen themselves
with the tag beatnik
these days, apparently unaware that word was originally coined as a term of ridicule
by San Francisco columnist Herb Caen. "Beat" was indeed used by Kerouac to denote both "beaten down" and "beatitude"
-- a state of revelation. He first heard the word spoken
by a Times Square hustler and writer named Herbert Huncke; then another writer, John Clellon Holmes, popularized the term "Beat" in a New York Times article
headlined "This is the Beat Generation." But the original Beats did not approve of the term "beatnik" -- combining "beat" with the Russian "Sputnik,"
as if to suggest that the Beat writers were both "out there" and vaguely Communist -- as this hilarious dialogue
[note: MP3 link] between a very young Ginsberg, anthropologist Margaret Mead, and an excruciatingly square talk-radio host makes plain.
"Black Like me"
: the notion of "Race" is know known to be scientifically meaningless
, but now roll back the clock to 1959 : "...John Howard Griffin (1920-1980) was a true Renaissance man. Having fought in the French Resistance and been a solo observer on an island in the South Pacific during World War II, he became a critically-acclaimed novelist and essayist, a remarkable photographer and musicologist, and a dynamic lecturer and teacher. On October 28, 1959, after a decade of blindness and a remarkable and inexplicable recovery, John Howard Griffin dyed himself black and began an odyssey of discovery through the segregated American South. The result was Black Like Me, arguably the single most important documentation of 20th century American racism ever written....Because of Black Like Me, Griffin was personally vilified, hanged in effigy in his hometown, and threatened with death for the rest of his life."
Still romanticizin' the beat generation?
Lovely shots from the Venice West Picture Essay - a photo chronicle of the beat generation in venice west, california circa 1958….from the out-of-print "the holy barbarians" by lawrence lipton
1957 atomic revolution comic book.
Quite a find for 1950s atomic memorabilia enthusiasts. Creepy and educational. Has anyone here ever heard of M.Philip Copp?