The Hollywood Ten

by admin - October 19th, 2017

By Rosemarie Murray

The 1940’s into the 1950’s saw the Red Fear take control of different aspects of American society. Due in large part to Senator Joseph McCarthy’s outlandish claims causing public mayhem, numerous parts of society were struck by the fear of communism. One such part of society that attracted such attention was Hollywood’s film industry. Hollywood figures were targeted because of “the high degree of public recognition of the industry, which brought attention to the investigators as well as their subjects” (Dunar, 39). Seeing actors, screenwriters, directors, and more being accused and tried of links to the communist party was something that would get every American talking. After all, most Americans had some sort of exposure to the lives of the rich and famous through seeing them in the movies. Another possible driving force behind the accusations of communism with the Hollywood Ten and other members of Hollywood was anti-Semitism. A disproportionate number of Jewish members in Hollywood were accused of being communists by the HUAC (Dunar, 39). When ten members of the film industry were accused of being communists and voiced their disapproval in the House of Unamerican Activities Committee (HUAC), they were arrested and thereby “blacklisted”, or ostracized, from working in Hollywood.

The Hollywood Ten were not alone in being accused as communists and blacklisted. The HUAC “summoned forty one prominent members of the film industry” (Dunar, 39). These men, however, were the first to challenge the HUAC’s tactics on investigating communist claims. The men did not answer any questions during the investigation, and employed their First Amendment Rights. Their actions backfired, and were convicted of Contempt on Congress, arrested, and kept in jail for six months to a year and had to pay a 1,000$ (Britanica Hollywood Ten). Only one of the men arrested, Edward Dmytryk, eventually succumbed and told investigators that he was a communist and named other communists as well (Britanica Edward Dmytryk). For his information, Dmytryk was released from jail and allowed to return to Hollywood. However, the other members of the Hollywood Ten were not as fortunate and the public knew what would happen to them if they were caught with links to the communist party. Years after the fact, the men never reached the pinnacle of their careers before the scandal in Hollywood again ( Some of the Hollywood Ten wrote scripts under different names for movies, and two of the Hollywood Ten were accepted into Hollywood years later.

Nine members of the Hollywood Ten gathered

In terms of how communism was to be handled in the United States, Hollywood was the example to follow in the late 1940’s into the 1960s. The trials left an undeniable mark on the film industry, as “the insidious process destroyed the creative energy of Hollywood for years, as friends turned on friends” (40). Still, it remains unknown what the impact the loss of ten powerful screenwriters and directors had on the film industry at the time. No one knows the span of movies that could have been made, or the scope of creativity. How different would Hollywood be today without the loss of the Hollywood Ten and other members of Hollywood found guilty?

Works Cited

Dunar, Andrew J. America in the Fifties. N.p.: Syracuse UP, 2006. Print.

The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica. “Hollywood Ten.” Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 09 Aug. 2016. Web. Staff. “Hollywood Ten.” A&E Television Networks, 2009. Web.

The Baby Boom

by admin - October 19th, 2017

By Meagan Sebastiao

The Baby Boom was a post-war era that provided normalcy in not only the country, but in families with loved ones at war. Many young couples at the time postponed marriage and building families during the Great Depression, because most families didn’t have enough money to have children, and during World War II, because their partners were serving our country. World War II ended in 1945, and in 1946, 3.4 million babies were born, more than any other year. 3.8 billion were born in 1947, 3.9 in 1952, and throughout the decade of 1954 to 1964, 4 million babies were born each year. That dramatic increase of births following the return of the troops from World War II truly defines the name of this time.

The baby boom truly impacted the fifties and the generations following. According to Andrew J. Dunar in his book America In the Fifties, “…as the baby boomers aged, the unparalleled magnitude of their numbers would have an equally unparalleled effect on partners of consumption, residence, and employment, as well as on government policy.” In terms of market consumption, this period’s sales in consumer goods skyrocketed. Families grew larger, needing a larger car, more food, baby furniture, clothing, toys, and books. One of the most popular books at this time was written by Dr. Benjamin Spock, titled The Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care. Dr. Spock was an American pediatrician who trained and gained experience from some of the most prestigious universities in the country, and he inspired new parents with his beliefs and information about young children and parenting presented in his book. One of his goals was to make parents more comfortable and confident in their abilities, telling them, “Trust yourself. You know more than you think you do,” (“Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care.”).

Several other factors contributed to the baby boom and why it occurred. After the Great Depression and World War II, many new government programs were formed to allow war veterans to live a better life and have more opportunities. For example, they were able to be provided with loans to help pay for education, get better jobs, and for housing. Organizations such as the Federal Housing Administration and the Veteran’s Administration helped contribute to young couples purchasing their first homes. The GI Bill gave veterans the chance to obtain a college education, thus resulting in potentially qualifying for better, stable, and higher paying jobs. The baby boom also altered school districts throughout the United States. As families grew larger all at once, so did classroom sizes. Andrew J. Dunar states “By 1960, there were 3.5 million 13 year olds in the nation, most of whom were then eighth graders,” (Dunar, p#). The increase in class sizes led to a demand in faculty in school systems. This also led to a need for more schools to be build which increased availability for construction jobs. Overall, families affected by the baby boom, primarily war families, contributed greatly to the increase in production of consumer goods, the popularization of Dr. Spock’s book and ideas, school district success, and the formation and support of government programs.

Nurses are shown with babies all born on the same day

Works Cited

Alex. “Baby Boom No More. Birth Rate in the U.S. Hits an All Time Low in 2013.” Red Pill Times, 5 Dec. 2014,

“Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.,

Dunar, Andrew J. America in the Fifties. Syracuse University Press, 2006.

The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica. “Benjamin Spock.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 18 Sept. 2017, Staff. “Baby Boomers.”, A&E Television Networks, 2010,

Norman Rockwell

by admin - October 19th, 2017

By Jenna Goodreau

In the words of Dunar in his book America in the Fifties, “Beyond a doubt, Norman Rockwell was America’s most recognizable artist in the fifties” (Dunar 258). Rockwell’s artistry began at a young age, when he was 14 years old he began attending school at the Chase Art School, rather than attending regular high school. Later, he went on to study at the National Academy of Design and at the Art Students League of New York. In his later teenage years, Rockwell was given the job of art director of Boy’s Life, which is the publication for the Boy Scouts of America.

When Rockwell turned 21, him and Clyde Forsythe, a cartoonist, started a studio together. During this time, he had artwork featured in magazines such as Country Gentlemen, Life, and Literary Digest. Soon after, he produced his first cover for The Saturday Evening Post and the Post featured his work on the cover 321 times over the course of the next 47 years. Rockwell also painted portraits of four of the United States presidents, Eisenhower, Nixon, Kennedy and Johnson. He made illustrations for a number of books, the most popular including Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. Other illustrations by Rockwell were used on stamps, advertisements (including Coca-Cola),catalogs, playing cards and posters.

The “Four Freedoms” paintings. Top (L to R): Freedom of Speech, Freedom to Worship. Bottom (L to R): Freedom from Want, Freedom from Fear

Rockwell’s paintings “celebrated American themes, glorified small-town rites of passage, and honored the family” and “ he occasionally used humor to challenge racial and gender stereotypes” (Dunar 258). One of Rockwell’s most famous works was a set of 4 painting he did called the Four Freedoms paintings. They were paintings inspired by Franklin Roosevelt’s address to congress where he discussed the four principles for universal rights. The four paintings were called Freedom of Speech, Freedom to Worship, Freedom from Want, and Freedom from Fear. “The works toured the United States in an exhibition that was jointly sponsored by the Post and the U.S. Treasury Department and, through the sale of war bonds, raised more than $130 million for the war effort” (NRM).

As Dunar mentioned, Rockwell sometimes did paintings and illustrations about racial and gender stereotypes. He did a painting called, The Problem We All Live With that showed “Ruby Bridges, flanked by white federal marshals, walking to school past a wall defaced by racist graffiti” (Wiki). When Ruby Bridges went the White House in 2011 to meet President Obama, the painting was on display. Another racial piece that Rockwell did was called New Kids in the Neighborhood, and it showed white children socializing with black children that were moving into their suburb, yet the white parents were just watching from behind their curtains. Pieces like these two that have deep meaning behind them seemed to be among his most popular.

Later in his life, Rockwell released an autobiography titled My Adventures as an Illustrator. At the beginning of his career, Rockwell was “dismissed by serious art critics” because “many of his works appear overly sweet” and “tend toward idealistic or sentimentalized portrayals of American life” (Wiki). But, once he began to release some more serious pieces of work his career really took off and he has had a huge impact on the art world. To learn more about Rockwell and view some of his work, click here.


Dunar, Andrew J. America in the Fifties. Syracuse University Press, 2006.

“Norman Rockwell.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 15 Oct. 2017,

“The Home for American Illustration.” Norman Rockwell Museum,
“Norman Rockwell.”, A&E Networks Television, 28 Apr. 2017,

Hugh Hefner

by admin - October 15th, 2017

By Kelsea Blair

After his recent passing on September 27, Hugh Hefner has been circulating through the internet a lot. Hefner’s name is often associated with the idea of being constantly surrounded by half naked women and living in the Playboy Mansion. Playboy Magazine, however, was created in 1953, during an era that most people deem as highly conservative and modest. Hefner opened up a new realm where the topic of sex could be discussed.

In 1938, Alfred Kinsey started research on marriage and sex. Kinsey and his research team interviewed thousands of people, asking hundreds of in depth questions about their relationships or thoughts on sex. He continued this research until 1963. The same year that Playboy was released, Kinsey released his second book, Sexual Behavior of the Human Female. Hugh Hefner was inspired by Kinsey. Dunar writes, “Hefner acknowledged his admiration of Kinsey, who, in his view, had exposed the hypocrisy of Americans about sex” (188 Dunar).

Hugh Hefner started Playboy Magazine with $8,000 he had gathered from 45 different investors, including $1,000 from his mother. The first issue he created in his kitchen, and it featured a nude photo of Marilyn Monroe that he purchased for $500 on the front cover. The first issue sold over 50,000 copies for 50 cents each, and Hefner had instant success. You can listen to Hefner further discuss his first Playboy issue here.


Despite the success Hugh Hefner achieved during his career, he faced many critics along the way. Most of the backlash he received was from people saying that he was objectifying women. He says, “When it came from what was called the liberal left, specifically as a part of the women’s movement — when the women’s movement became anti-sexual, it was a very confusing time for me then. It isn’t now.”(NPR). Hefner never viewed his magazine as a sex magazine, and didn’t want people thinking that’s all it was. He wanted sex to become a part of an everyday lifestyle, and for people to think of Playboy as a sophisticated men’s magazine.

After the first issue of Playboy was released, the company started to make some drastic changes in its image, going from a men’s magazine to crazy nightclubs. The first nightclub opened in Chicago, Hefner’s hometown. All the women working there dressed in skimpy, silky one pieces with bunny ears and tails. As more and more of these clubs opened, Hugh Hefner started to have “multiple girlfriends” and this is where the stereotypical image of Hefner began. He had a preference to date much younger girls and that continued all the way until his death.

Work Cited

Dunar, Andrew J. America In The Fifties. Syracuse, N.Y., Syracuse University Press, 2006.

Willett, Megan. “The Evolution of the Playboy Woman’s Body Type from the 1950s to Now.” Insider, 28 Sept. 2017,

Gross, Terry. “Hugh Hefner On Early ‘Playboy’ And Changing America’s Values.” NPR, NPR, 28 Sept. 2017,

Mansnerus, Laura. “Hugh Hefner, Who Built the Playboy Empire and Embodied It, Dies at 91.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 27 Sept. 2017,

Wikipedia contributors. “Hugh Hefner.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 10 Oct. 2017. Web. 13 Oct. 2017

1950s Quiz Shows

by admin - October 12th, 2017

By Katelynn Colpitts

In the 1950s, there was a huge television boom. One of the most watched genres were quiz shows. These shows “sustained viewer interest from week to week by requiring successful contestants to return several weeks in a row to maximize their winnings, thus creating stars with substantial public followings.” (Dunar 248). Due to their popularity, producers had to find ways to ensure more and more viewers would keep watching. “Methods varied from selecting easier questions for desirable contestants to asking them “practice” questions that were later used during the actual show” (Dunar 248). These cheating methods and sketchy ways led to television’s first scandal.

“The quiz show scandals were driven by several major factors, all of which allowed dishonest behavior to be acceptable behind the scenes to both the producers of the shows as well as to the participating and willing contestants” (Venanzi).

This is a TV Guide cover featuring The $64,000 Question

One of the more popular quiz shows in the 1950s was The $64,000 Question. It became the number one show to watch just five weeks after it first aired in 1955. Of course like many other quiz shows
during that time, The $64,000 Question was full of cheating and fraud. One contestant had had enough and took his story to the press. Herb Stempel was a returning contestant on the show and his popularity was running low. Producers demanded that he purposely answer questions wrong to get booted off of the show. Stempel was unsure about this because he had known the answers to the questions and wanted to keep playing. His opponent Charles Van Doren, who was also in on the quiz show scam, ended up losing his job as the scandal story came to the surface. This led to many other game show’s cheating ways being revealed. Many of the people involved lost their reputations and popularity as a result.

At the time game shows became popular, many Americans were returning from the war. “All Americans wanted to live a better life than had their parents, who had suffered through the depression. With the surge in the number of Americans returning from war, and as a result of their readiness to quickly get on with their lives, Americans were seeking opportunities which would enable them to pursue their dreams of holding a well-paying job, getting married, buying homes and other material goods, and having children” (Venanzi). Game shows were a fun and fascinating way for people to win money. Everyone at the time wanted to have the finest things money could buy, and quiz shows were a way to get that money fast. When the scandals reached the media everything changed. The public became aware of the fraud that was taking place and everyone knew the contestants weren’t winning the money in a fair way. The creation of quiz shows led to one of America’s biggest scandals in the 1950s.

Vananzi, Katie. “An Examination of Television Quiz Show Scandals of the 1950s.” The Beat Begins: America in the 1950s, 1997,

“America in the Fifties” Andrew J. Dunar

Increasing Popularity of Sports in the 1950s

by admin - October 12th, 2017

By Amanda Babbitt

Although sports had been around long before the 1950s, many factors lead to the increasing popularity of spectator sports in this time. Since it was common for a household to own a television, sports became much more accessible to the average family. They no longer had to go to a sports game in order to watch it and they now could enjoy it from the comfort of their own home. “Sports franchises began to operate more like businesses,” (Dunar 242). Sports games became more profitable because so many more people were watching which benefited the sports franchises. Instead of playing the game just for fun it became more of a business for the companies.

Jim Brown, an African American, all-American fullback at Syracuse University. Joined Cleveland Browns in 1957.

During this time African Americans began playing a more dominant role in sports than they had in the past. Players such as Jackie Robinson and Larry Doby were African American baseball players that were able to escape the race barrier previously in the way of showing their full potential. Although discrimination still occurred making it harder for an African American to become part of the team than it would have been for a white man, “African American athletes began to transform the game of baseball in the fifties,” (Dunar 242). . African American players played important roles in the professional basketball and football teams along with the baseball teams unlike ever before. The Boston Celtics Red Auerbach and Bill Russell were basketball athletes that excelled in the sport transforming their team in a positive way. As for football, Jim Brown had a very successful athletic career despite his race which would have been an issue a decade earlier.

Baseball, basketball, and football were all popular sports and are usually still considered some of the top sports but back in the 1950s bowling was remarkably popular. “Bowling alleys sprouted up across the nation and Americans by the thousands entered local leagues,” ( making bowling the United State’s most popular participation sport. College football became more popular than pro football with teams like Ohio State as top competition. Boxing was another sport that was prominent in the ‘50s. This website goes more into depth on various sports and highlights and top players in these sports throughout the 1950s.

If it weren’t for the major increase in interest and accessibility of sports games in the 1950s, what we know and love of sports today may not have existed or existed to the extent it does. Sports generate a large amount of revenue for places like colleges and professional teams. They provide a way to connect people of a city or people from all over that support the same team as others. Sports are a major source of entertainment whether they are being watched on the television or in real life it is something many people not only in the U.S. but all over the world enjoy. Sports also provide a means of staying in shape and providing physical activity for athletes while doing something they are able to enjoy doing. The 1950s were an import time for the sports we know and love today.

Works Cited
“1950s Sports: History, Facts, MVPs & Champions.” RetroWaste. N.p., n.d. Web.

Dunar, Andrew J. America in the Fifties. N.p.: Syracuse UP, 2006. Print.

“The 1950s Sports: Topics in the News.” U*X*L American Decades. 10 Oct. 2017 <>.

The Age of the Automobile

by admin - October 12th, 2017

By Emily Clemente

There were several events that brought about huge change during the 1950s, but there was one particular invention that had a profound effect on America. In Andrew J. Dunar’s book, America in the Fifties, he says, “It affected not only how Americans traveled, but also where they lived, where they shopped, where they ate, and how they spent their leisure time.” (Dunar 169) This brilliant creation was known as the automobile. In 1950 alone, there were 7,987,000 vehicles produced. The economy was generally driven by the automobile industry.

General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler were known as the three main car manufacturers during the 1950s. However, this changed in 1960 when foreign car manufacturers began to enter the United States and put their products on the market. In 1950, only a small percentage of the automobiles that were bought came from outside of the U.S. In 1950, there were only 300 Volkswagens bought. This is because Volkswagens were products of the Japanese. As a result of these products being created in Japan, they were typically viewed as cheap and flimsy by Americans. The typical car that Americans wanted had to be big and have a boxy shape. The prices of the different makes and models widely ranged. The most popular model was sold for approximately $1,800. This model was an 8-cylinder, 100-horsepower vehicle with a manual transmission. Other makes and models were sold for different prices, as they included different features. Fords and Chevys were typically sold for $1,329 while nicer cars, such as Cadillacs and Chryslers usually cost $4,959 and $5,384. Additional makes and models are listed on this website. Car sales absolutely rocketed as new changes emerged within the appearances of the different models.

The main manufacturers, General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler, continued to introduce new features that kept the industry booming. Dunar says, “In the first year of the fifties, sales reached 6.7 million, on their way to a peak of 7.6 million in 1955.” (Dunar 169) At the beginning of the decade, only 60 percent of American families owned an automobile; however, by the end of the decade, approximately 78 percent of families owned an automobile. Some of the later models from the 1950s became “classics.” This meant that these cars were featured in classic car shows. There were even some songs made about “classic” cars during the 1950s as well. Throughout the decade, the automobile industry continued to boom.

The automobile industry had impacts on several different factors. For example, it impacted where people traveled, where they shopped, and even where they ate. Dunar claims that, “The automobile affected American eating habits even more dramatically than its shopping patterns.” (Dunar 171) People were always on the go; therefore, they were looking for fast ways to get cheap food. Easy food was made accessible when drive-ins were more common. The McDonald brothers, Dick and Maurice, opened a popular restaurant known as McDonald’s. The automobile allowed individuals to get dinner and watch a movie without leaving their cars. The automobile industry boomed during the 1950s, changing the ways many Americans lived.

A 1955 Chevy BelAir

Works Cited
Dunar, Andrew J. America in the Fifties. Syracuse University Press, 2006.

“Cars in the 1950s.” RetroWaste,

“The Life in 50s: Cars.” The Life in 50s,

Elvis Presley

by admin - October 12th, 2017

By Matas Buivydas

Elvis Presley, a man with immense fame and who changed the style of music and Rock & Roll forever. He had great talent when it came to dancing elegantly, wooing the audience with every move and twist. Not only that, but his voice controlled the 1950’s and so on with his indistinguishable voice.

Elvis appears on the Ed Sullivan show

Elvis Presley was not known well until he made multiple television appearances, spiking his fame and fanbase. Presley contained characteristics that people were in love with. He was someone that no one could miss, with his slick combed hair and fashion. His deep voice with his way of elongating his words could be identified. His voice gained the center of attention, as he could illuminate the stage with his style of singing jazz and rock & roll songs. Famous for recording “Hound Dog” and the well known “Jailhouse Rock”, Presley began to take opportunities on the ‘big’ screen. Appearing on the Stage Show, he then proceeded to record more songs and sing them live, expanding his fame. He had also been on The Ed Sullivan Show, which was the hit show in the 1950’s, but although it was a different plan for the show, the turnout was beneficial for his career as well as the show.

Presley was an idol for the teenage environment, and also was a symbol of provocative movement. Parents, like any generation with certain dance movements within music, were displeased with what culture Presley was creating. Seen in many video bits and live recorded concerts, Presley was cheered on for the slightest bodily movement by girls, yet frowned upon by parents due to it being seen as a suggestive and provocative dance move.

The King of Rock has his name live up to the current times, and will forever hold that position. Elvis Presley created a definite place for himself in history, holding a reputable voice and dance moves. Elvis Presley will continue to be an inspiration for many as well as be known for his success.

Works Cited

“Elvis Presley Biography : A Comprehensive History of Elvis Presley’s Dynamic Life.” Elvis Australia News,
“Elvis Presley Biography.” Rolling Stone,
“Elvis Presley.” Rock & Roll Hall of Fame,
“Elvis Presley.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 3 Oct. 2017,

Jackie Robinson

by admin - October 12th, 2017

By Meagan Perro

In the time after World World 2, racial equality was taking a huge turn for the better. There was a lot of political pressure towards treating blacks like equals and this correlated into the sports world. Integration in baseball, football, and basketball changed the views of many. “The professional leagues as well as the colleges and universities began to realize that they were experiencing a watershed in American history and efforts had to be made to achieve full integration in sports, if not everyday life” (Walter). Pre World War 2, blacks were restricted to much more than just ability to play sports. Before the integration of sports, blacks and whites played as opponents. The blacks started to dominate a great deal of the games being played, so whites stopped allowing them to even play each other at all. Rumors were started that blacks were of “low intelligence, criminal tendencies, and inferior physicality” (Walter). But, blacks were “performing at such a high level that by decade’s end there was no longer a question of turning back to the segregated major league sports” (242).

One of the many faces that aided in the change of our segregated world was Jackie Robinson. He was born on January 31, 1919 in Cairo, Georgia. He has four other siblings and he is the youngest. He went to John Muir High school and also attended Pasadena Junior College. At both schools, he played four sports, football, basketball, track, and baseball and succeeded greatly. He was named MVP in 1938. Jackie’s older brother, Matthew, won a silver medal in the 200 meter dash in the 1936 Olympics and he inspired Jackie to pursue his love for sports. Jackie went on to go to University of California, Los Angeles, and became the university’s first student to win four varsity letters. He did not graduate from college because he faced some financial hardships and was forced to leave UCLA. He then moved to Hawaii and played football for the Honolulu Bears, until his time there was also cut short due to World War 2. Jackie served 2 years in the army, although he never saw combat. While at training camp, there was an incident in which Jackie refused to give up a bus seat to a white man. This played a major role on the impact Jackie made on the world.

Photo of Jackie Robinson swinging a bat and wearing the number 42 in a Brooklyn Dodgers uniform taken by a staff member of the LOOK magazine in 1954

After Jackie’s discharge from the army, he played in a segregated professional baseball league. Due to his great success, the president of the Brooklyn Dodgers, Branch Rickey, asked Jackie to help integrate the teams. He first joined the Montreal Royals, a farm team for the royals, and later moved up to the Dodgers. His first game was April 15, 1947, marking the first time an African American played in the major leagues. Rickey made sure Jackie was aware of the possibility of extreme racism he could have to face, and did have to face. Jackie is well known for being so calm and holding back his reactions. Even some of his own teammates did not approve of him being on the team. Despite the hardships of the racial slurs and threats imposed on Jackie, he won many awards, including rookie of the year in his first season.

Jackie is memorable for being such a “talented and versatile player” (Goldstein), but he also impacted the Civil Rights movement immensely. After retirement, Jackie served on the board of NAACP and testified against discrimination in front of the House Un-American Activities Committee. All African Americans admired Jackie Robinson for what he was doing and he helped to gain hope in many of their eyes on the future of equality. His career served as a very pivotal turning point for African Americans.

Work Cited

“Jackie Robinson.”, A&E Networks Television, 14 Aug. 2017, Staff. “Jackie Robinson.”, A&E Television Networks, 2009,

Rock ‘n’ Roll in the 1950s

by admin - October 12th, 2017

By Sam Maglione

Rock ‘n’ roll had evolved in the late 1940s and early 1950s. It was evolving from music styles such as rhythm and blues, jazz, and gospel. Typically in rock ‘n’ roll music the lead instrument is an electric guitar. One popular jazz song that was a start to the rock ‘n’ roll music was a song called Roll ‘Em Pete by Big Joe Turner. In the 1950s, rock ‘n’ roll music was considered to be for teenagers.

When rock ‘n’ roll first came out, many white artists were trying to cover R&B songs. But the problem was they weren’t catching on. Record producers such as Sam Phillips were in search of a white artist that could really help make rock ‘n’ roll popular. That’s when Elvis Presley was discovered.

Elvis Presley is referred to as the “King of Rock and Roll”. His music career began in 1954 after he recorded his first song. He had gone back to Suns Records to record a second time but unfortunately nothing had come out of that. Later he had gone to an audition for a quartet but it didn’t go well. Later, Elvis made his first appearance on the Milton Berle show and that sparked everything for Elvis. He started getting more appearances and becoming more popular. Elvis was considered to be a sex symbol later on as he became more popular especially to the teenage audience.

This is an image of Elvis Presley during his first appearance on television

Some people considered rock and roll to be “tasteless” while others enjoyed the new type of music. A lot of middle class white citizens did not enjoy the music but the teenagers along with lower classes did. Younger generations thought of rock and roll as a way to sort of let go a little bit and just be themselves. “By 1954, musical tastes among young consumers were shifting. The phenomenon that Freed had noticed, in which young white audiences were favoring R&B music by black artists over pop music by white artists such as Perry Como and Eddie Fisher, had become a national trend” (271). The younger generation was starting to like newer and different music even though their parents weren’t too thrilled about that. “Here, we knew, was a sonic cataclysm come bursting (apparently) out of nowhere, with the power to change our lives forever. Because it was obviously, inarguably our music. If we had any initial doubt about that, our parents’ horrified — or at best dismissive — reactions banished those doubts.” (RollingStone). No one really knew what this new type of music was but they listened to it anyways because it was something different and they weren’t used to it.

Works Cited

Dunar, Andrew J. America in the fifties. Syracuse, NY, Syracuse University Press, 2006.

Palmer, Robert. “The 50s: A Decade of Music That Changed the World.” Rolling Stone, Rolling Stone, 19 Apr. 1990,