Television’s Very First Scandal

by admin - December 6th, 2017

Television’s Very First Scandal

By Emily Clemente

Pictured above is a contestant featured on another popular quiz show, Beat the Clock, in which he has to perform a certain task within a certain time limit, counted down on a 60-second clock

While there were several positive outcomes of the television boom, there were also setbacks that the television boom brought to light. Specific genres of television trumped others. For example, in the mid-fifties, the quiz show became one of the most popular genres of television shows. The general public found these shows to be new and thrilling. These quiz shows were developed for various reasons. Some of the quiz shows were created to provide people with entertainment, while other quiz shows offered prizes, such as large sums of money. At their most popular time, there were twenty-two game shows being simultaneously aired on different television stations. Although these game shows had similarities, they were each unique in their own way. They were all formatted differently. Some asked basic questions while others had required specific answers that came from an even broader topic. For example, some game shows asked for a list of popular tunes. There were various different game shows that became popular in the mid-fifties.

Although there were several popular quiz shows, one of the more popular ones was The $64,000 Questions. This show offered a money prize ranging in values from $64 to $64,000. Dunar claims, “$64,000 was a staggering figure in the fifties, and the fact that contestants could win it only by risking double or nothing after reaching the $32,000 level created scintillating tension, heightened by confinement in an onstage ‘isolation booth’ for the final, most lucrative questions” (Dunar 248). The success that The $64,000 Question generated sparked the production of other game shows. One game show, The $64,000 Challenge, was meant to imitate The $64,000 Question. These two particular game shows were first and second in the ratings at one point in time. These game shows became such big hits among people that, “In the summer of 1957, five of the top eight television shows were quiz shows” (Dunar 248). Despite the fact that these game shows generated great success, they also proved to be scandals.

As a result of the fact that these game shows had strong ratings, producers continued to try to improve their game shows. The producers utilized certain methods in order to keep their ratings high. The game shows required successful contestants to return weeks in a row in order to boost their winnings. By having the same guests continually star on the show, these guests received some fame. Producers also tried to have the most attractive contestants return to play on the show. Producers also utilized other methods to boost ratings. For example, some producers would ask “practice” questions that were later used on the game show when it aired. Cheating became a more common practice among contestants on the show. Dunar says, “Managers coached contestants in facial expressions and body language that heightened suspense, and fed them answers” (Dunar 249). The use of these methods by producers is why these game shows were regarded as scandals. Individuals speak to specific instances of scandal in this article. The managers and producers of these quiz shows rigged the games.

As a result of the rumors that these shows were scandals, they were investigated. Dunar states, “To many Americans, the quiz show scandal symbolized a betrayal of public trust on a grand scale, the end of an age of innocence” (Dunar 249). There were many different events that took place that changed the view that Americans had on the quiz shows. The quiz shows were first regarded as popular; however, toward the end of the decade, Americans realized that these game shows were total scandals.

Works Cited

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

Tedlow, Richard S. “Intellect on Television: The Quiz Show Scandals of the 1950s.” American Quarterly. 28.4 (1976): 483-495. JSTOR. Web. 30 November 2017.

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

“The $64,000 Question.” The $64,000 Question: Old Memories,

The Newport Jazz Festival

by admin - December 4th, 2017

By Elena Mouradian

Throughout the 1950s, jazz music in America became increasingly popular. The Depression, World War II, and Postwar years were responsible for creating the unique jazz sound. This sound came from the migration of African Americans to the north who blended gospel music, blues, and traditional African music (270). One of the reasons for the growth of jazz music in the 50s was due to the growing popularity of the television. The television replaced the need for radio in many households and became the most important entertainment medium. It benefited jazz musicians because instead of playing through the radio, they could appear on variety programs and specials. Specials would feature live jazz from performers such as Duke Ellington, Billie Holiday, and Miles Davis. Their appearance increased America’s desire to watch jazz musicians perform and to listen to the sound live. It paved the way for modern day jazz bars and concerts.

The First Newport Jazz Festival on July 17, 1954

In 1954, The Newport Jazz Festival was established in Newport, Rhode Island. Elaine Lorillard and Louis Lorillard believed that jazz music deserves a big festival just like other genres. They contacted jazz musician and producer George Wein to help them establish the event. The group named the event the “First Annual American Jazz Festival”. (Hevesi) It is normally held over a weekend on a lawn or outdoor location. Not only did it incorporate live jazz performances, but it also featured panel discussions.

Although the first festival had about 7,000 fans at the Newport Casino, it came with opposition for many reasons. Newport was not prepared for the large attendance and traffic that the festival brought and they also had a problem with some fans sleeping in tents. Many fans slept in tents because most of them were not from the area. The jazz festival attracted a young crowd and the majority of that crowd were black. Racist attitudes in an old upper-class community was most likely the creation of the opposition. The beginning years came with opposition, but it did not stop the festival from growing larger and larger.

Since its first event in 1954, the Newport Jazz Festival has continued to be held every summer. Many famous jazz artists have given performances that provided the spotlight and popularity that the event has gained. There were a number of notable events and performances. For example, Lester Young joining Billie Holiday onstage in 1954, Paul Gonsalves’ soloing with the help of the Duke Ellington Orchestra for 27 choruses of “Diminuendo and Crescendo in Blue” in 1956, Frank Sinatra arriving in a helicopter for his first and only time performing in 1965, and Louis Armstrong and Mahalia Jackson singing “Just a Closer Walk With Thee” for his 70th birthday tribute in 1970 (Smith).

The Newport Jazz Festival is the center of jazz. Its credibility and reputation for having great improvised music and enjoyable audience continues to attract many fans, but now they come from all demographics and ages.

Works Cited

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

Hevesi, Dennis. “Started Newport Jazz Festival; Oscar Peterson Performed at 1st, in 1954.
Yearly Concert Series Began with Casual Remark.” The Gazette: B7. Nov 30 2007.
ProQuest. Web.

Ryan Belmore, July 17, 2015. “On This Day In Newport History: July 17, 1954 – First Newport Jazz Festival Held.” What’sUpNewp, 22 Aug. 2015,

Smith, Andy. “Newport Jazz Fest Highlights through the Years.” Providence Journal,, 28 July 2014,

Big Bugs

by admin - December 4th, 2017

By Katelynn Colpitts

After the war during the 1950s and early 1960s, Hollywood had a huge sci-fi boom. Films Aproduced during this time mainly revolved around “big bugs” as the main characters. A well known bug movie of the time was Them!, which was “the story of ants from the nuclear testing ranges of New Mexico, mutated to gargantuan size by long-term exposure to residual radiation” (Tsutsui 2). The film was such a hit because it was as realistic as a horror film could be at the time. Soon after its’ release, bug movies appeared more and more frequently and became more and more popular. Here you can find a list of the 25 best bug movies from the 1950s and so on. Critics and scholars have spent much of their time pondering exactly what the hidden meaning was behind all these bug movies.

Above is an image that advertises the film Them!. You can see the giant mutant ants and the military force that was used to attack the creatures in the film.

Bug films caused such an uproar because they portrayed actual scientific possibilities that people feared for. “In the case of the “big bug” films, this fear of science run amok took a unique form: nervously conflating warring arthropods and anthropoids, these films raised doubts as to which side was ultimately the graver threat to the earth and its creatures” (Bellin 3). In the 1950s pesticides were being used to fight off insects. As scientists made stronger and more advanced pesticides, the fear of big bug mutations grew. Pesticides were viewed “as a new and even deadlier form of alien invader–one that, ironically, humanity has loosed on itself in its reckless chemical war against the insects” (Bellin 4). Not only could pesticides be used to maintain insect infestations, they could also be used to poison and hurt human beings. “Chemists, entomologists, and military researchers knew that chemicals toxic to one species often killed others, so they developed similar chemicals to fight human and insect enemies” (Bellin 9).

The big bug phenomenon became so surreal because scientific advances were making the movie plots become more and more possible, which grabbed the audience’s attention. “As another influential critic put it, “The monster is the symbol of what we have to fear: it is not fear itself; it is the horror of what we have done, scientifically and militarily, to bring the world to the brink of destruction” (Tsutsui 8).

Another approach to the meaning behind the bug films is that they warned of nuclear fear. “The oldest and most esteemed critical approach to movies like Them! is that they are all about nuclear fear, the widespread anxiety about the threat of atomic annihilation that (so the story goes) gnawed at the middle-class psyche throughout the glory days of the Pax Americana” (Tsutsui 6). All in all the “big bug” movies of the 1950s serve as entertainment as well as warnings of chemical and scientific advances.

Today, viewers can enjoy the films and see how far our horror film plots have come, as well as speculate on what hidden meanings they are capturing in today’s society.

Works Cited

Tsutsui, William M. “Looking Straight at THEM! UNDERSTANDING THE BIG BUG MOVIES OF THE 1950S.” Environmental History 12.2 (2007): 237-53. ProQuest. Web. 29 Nov. 2017.

Bellin, Joshua David. “Us or them!: Silent Spring and the ‘big bug’ films of the 1950s.” Extrapolation, vol. 50, no. 1, 2009, p. 145+. General OneFile, Accessed 29 Nov. 2017.

Advances in 1950s Toys

by admin - December 4th, 2017

By Victoria Lemire

When most people think of the 1950s in America, they think of politics, the movie stars of the era, and fashion. Many times they do not think of what the common person did in their homes. What did they have for entertainment? What did the children do for fun? Children in the 1950s were ones of a baby boom generation. Considering that there was a rise of babies born in this era, there was also a rise in the production of children’s products that were produced during this time period.

With all of the soldiers coming home from the war, an explosion of babies occurred in the 1950s as these men traveled back to America to try to start their families. With the huge number of babies being born each year, there was a new market of children’s products being created each year. There was an economic boom that occurred and many more consumer goods were released that involved child care. Dunar stated that “…clothing, toys, baby furniture…, larger automobiles to transport growing families, and books on how to care for babies… [are] all reflected from the boom” (2006). Dunar credits the baby boom as the reason why there were so many new products created as well as the change from the rationing world that occurred during World War II.

Children Hula-Hooping in their Yard

With the rise in children came the invention of many new products. Some of these included toy guns, holsters, and spurs, as well as propellor hats, slinkies, silly putty, and Hula Hoops (“Fads of the 1950s”, 2001). Of all of these toys, Hula Hoops were the most popular. The concept of the Hula Hoop was introduced in 1957 by Arthur Melin and Richard Knerr. Over one hundred million hoops were sold around the world. Toy guns, holsters, and spurs were also very popular because of the recent end of the war and the popularity of western radio, television shows, and movies. With this line of advertisement came the rise of action figures that were derived from these shows. An example of this would be Roy Rogers as well as the Barbie doll (“Toys and Games”, 1999). Mattel, Inc. produced Barbie in 1959, and she was the figurehead of the company. Barbie herself has become an important part of the fashion doll market, and has been changed many times to represent the beliefs of the company.

The idea of a violent toy is thought to have originated in the 1950s with the rise of militarized toys. Many boys started buying toy weapons and different army action figures because the end of the war brought home many heroes that were made to be idolized in the eyes of young boys. These toys were the origin of the what parents are still fighting today with violent toys. The video games and toys that we have access to today are an advancement of what was being created in the 1950s. Many people credit violence among children with these toys today (“Toys and Games”, 1999).

The 1950s gave rise to a new wave of toys and enjoyment for children as the attitude of the Great Depression left the country. The United States was filled with nationalism and a love of country that resulted in the attitude of people become consumers, and the advertisement and sale of toys definitely was not excluded from this era.

Works Cited

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

“Fads of the 1950s.” American Decades, edited by Judith S. Baughman, et al., vol. 6: 1950-1959, Gale, 2001, pp. 271-272. U.S. History iContext,

“Toys and Games.” Violence in America, edited by Ronald Gottesman and Richard Maxwell
Brown, Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1999. U.S. History in Context,
IC?u=mlin_c_worstate&xid=548531ae. Accessed 29 Nov. 2017. Accessed 29 Nov. 2017.

Marilyn Monroe

by admin - December 4th, 2017

By Hoang Vo

“The most widely recognized sex symbol of the fifties was Marilyn Monroe”, who was born Norma Jeane Mortensen on June 1, 1926 in Los Angeles, California (Dunar 252). Monroe’s modeling started when a journalist photographed her as part of an Army promotion, “demonstrating women’s contributions to the war effort” (Low). In 1946, Marilyn signed a contract with 20th Century Fox to begin her new career as an actor. “With an attractive figure, appealing face, and a voice and walk that exuded sex, she had multiple roles that typecast her as the dumb blond, whose innocent remarks were loaded with innuendo” (Dunar 252). Shortly after taking over the film industry, Marilyn Monroe “radiated sex on the screen”.

Marilyn Monroe quickly blended in the American culture in the 1950s. There were many things that Monroe could be remembered for, “her iconic status as a sex symbol, her marriages [to Arthur Miller and Joe DiMaggio], and even her death, which some speculate that it was not simply a case of suicide, but murder” (Low). However, Monroe embedded her iconic figure to the people after she starred in 29 films and being in many magazine covers. A scene from one of the most popular romantic comedies in the fifties, The Seven Year Itch (1955), “Monroe stood on a subway grate as the air from below lifted her dress in what became one of the most memorable film moments of the decade” (Dunar 252).

As part of being the sex symbol of the fifties, Marilyn Monroe revolutionized sex openness to the public. Prior to this time period, sex was viewed as an unappropriated act and often kept as secrets. However, Monroe and other popular sex figures in the fifties such as Hugh Hefner helped reshape the image of sex. In 1953, Hefner published his first issue of the Playboy magazine ever, and it featured a nude photo of Marilyn Monroe. Has it not been Monroe’s picture on the front cover, would the magazine find the success that it has?

“Locating Marilyn as one of many features of American popular culture would set up expectations of how we perceive her role as a celebrity, where often, news that are shocking, sensational, and popular, are what we most probably would be interested in reading and learning about, as we think about Hollywood, Marilyn, and her private life” (Low). It is not surprising that our most popular memory of Marilyn stands as an extension image of sexiness and full of sex-related symbol. As we reminisce about her and think about her contribution to the American culture, we can think of what would the conversations surround sex be like without her existence. Would we be able to discuss sex freely on a given platform, would we receive sexual education classes in schools?

It is certain that Marilyn Monroe broke the standard social norms in the fifties with the idea being that it is acceptable now to talk about sex. Monroe reformed sex from being viewed as dirty and shameful to being viewed as normal and part of life. “When we recollect her life, we perceive Marilyn as one of many symbols of American popular culture” (Low). Her beauty and intelligent image continues to inspire Americans to this day.

Works Cited

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

Low, Kelvin E. Y. “Memories in Context Via Cyber Reminiscing: The Case of Marilyn Monroe.” The Qualitative Report, vol. 8, no. 4, 2003, pp. 607.

I Love Lucy

by admin - November 29th, 2017

By Rosemarie Murray

When people think of the 1950’s, people’s minds jump to Rock n Roll and Elvis, drive-ins, Levittowns, and more. Another thing that many people mention that still has an effect on society today as seen through its syndication and reruns is the show I Love Lucy. The unconventional style of I Love Lucy differed from other T.V. shows at the time caused it to have a long-lasting grip on society.

Lucy and Ricky

Audiences loved the show so much because it was so different from other T.V. shows from the decade. Instead of a T.V. centered around a typical, happy-go-lucky family like other situational comedies in the 1950’s, I Love Lucy from production to air. Actress Lucille Ball (who played Lucy) and her husband, Desi Arnaz (who starred as Ricky), were not afraid to tackle big topics and be different than their predecessors. For their role behind the scenes, “Lucy and Desi’s instincts for what would work on the show were unerring, although often contrary to the desires of advertisers and television executives” (235, Dunar). Ball and Arnaz were instrumental to the implentinting differences into the show, including her “demand that Arnaz play her husband on the show, and the couple’s insistence that Lucy’s pregnancy be treated openly,” (263, Dunar). And though producers were at first hesitant, they gave in and Ball and Desi’s demands were met with “warm responses from audiences . . .” (263, Dunar).

It makes sense why television executives and people from behind the scenes would be at first scared of the repercussions of I Love Lucy. The premise of the show was unlike what any had seen before. The plot was about a wife, Lucy, and her Cuban husband, Ricky, as they navigated through married life in New York city. First, it was different for the time period to have her husband be Cuban and not the stereotypical white, American male. In addition, Lucy was different from other t.v. women in that she was not the perfect housewife: Lucy wanted out of the house and to be a star, and she was not content with staying home. Also, the fact that I Love Lucy showed Ball’s real-life pregnancy and incorporated it into the t.v. show was unprecedented in t.v. history (Bor). A pregnant woman had been shown very scarcely on television before, so I Love Lucy broke ground normalizing women culture and more.

I Love Lucy set the tone for t.v. show comedies for years to come. Some of the best sit-coms and other T.V. comedies to date have been similar to I Love Lucy in that they are different and unconventional. From Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, which centered around an affluent black family taking in their delinquent nephew to raise, to Modern Family, a show about the inner workings of a “modern” family that among of variety of other things includes a young stepmother married to a much older man and a gay couple raising a child. I Love Lucy, among other things, normalized family culture and being different, and set a new precedent for doing so that T.V. shows would follow for years to come.

Works Cited

“20 Things You Might Not Have Known About I Love Lucy.” Mental Floss, 15 Oct. 2017,

Bor, Stephanie E. “Lucy’s Two Babies: Framing the First Televised Depiction of Pregnancy.” Serial Soluations, Media History, 2013.

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

Montgomery Bus Boycott

by admin - November 27th, 2017

By Jess Fournier

This image shows Rosa Parks on a bus in Montgomery on the day they were no longer segregated. Sitting behind her is a UPI reporter named Nicholas C. Criss, who was reporting on the major event.

The bus boycott that took place in Montgomery, Alabama is a very important and influential event of the civil rights movement. During this protest, African Americans refused to use the buses as transportation because of the segregated seating that required people of color to sit in the back, and whites to sit in the front. This protest was sparked by the arrest of Rosa Parks when she refused to give up her seat to a white person. Rosa Parks is considered to be “widely respected, active in the church and in volunteer activities, Parks was an ideal person to serve as a rallying point for a protest” (Dunar 214). Through African American churches and headlines of newspapers in Montgomery, the word quickly got out about the boycott. This website explains that about 40,000 African American riders ditched the buses on December 5, 1955 and began walking, no matter how far away their destination was. There also was carpools and taxis made available to help keep the boycott a success. That same day, Martin Luther King Jr. was elected president of the Montgomery Improvement Association (MIA), and it was decided that they continue on with the boycott. They would not stop until these following conditions were met: “courteous treatment on the buses, black bus drivers on routes that served the black community, and first come, first served seating on the bus. In the making last demand, they also agreed that African Americans would first take seats in the back of the bus, and move forward as the bus filled” (Dunar 216). Which was at first a thriving company, the buses in Montgomery lost 750,000 dollars in fares due to this protest. Bus officials would say, “unless the fares were doubled, ‘we just can’t live.’ City commissioners agreed, and fares were increased from ten to fifteen cents. Transfers, formerly free, would now carry a five-cent charge, and the fare for school children increased from five to eight cents” (McGhee). The company also had problems with communication when attempting to get riders back on the buses. Many of the drivers often said their “hands were tied”, considering they had no power over the city and state laws that implemented segregation onto their buses, making it impossible to come up with a feasible solution. In addition to the bus companies, the shopping centers downtown suffered as well since this large part of the town’s population no longer had easy transportation to get there to shop. Finally, on Monday, April 24, 1956, the Supreme Court of the United States decided that segregation of races on buses is unconstitutional, forcing the buses to discontinue their practice of segregation. Despite this decision, the bus lines still continued to struggle with new troubles. For example, “A few days after the buses were integrated, a fifteen-year-old black girl was beaten at a bus stop by a group of white males. Also in the days immediately following, five buses were fired upon by whites and at least one person was injured” (McGhee). Though the boycott had ended, its impacts were long lasting on the civil rights movement.

Works Cited

Dunar, Andrew J. America in the Fifties. Syracuse University Press, 2006. Staff. “Montgomery Bus Boycott.”, A&E Television Networks, 2010,

McGhee, Felicia. “The Montgomery Bus Boycott and the Fall of the Montgomery City Lines.” Alabama Review 68.3 (2015): 251-68. ProQuest. Web. 24 Nov. 2017


by admin - November 20th, 2017

By Sam Maglione

McCarthyism was named after Joseph McCarthy. Joseph McCarthy was a Republican senator. During the 1950s, McCarthy used tactics against those whom he believed to be Communists. He was becoming a person that America would fear. “However, with a public that followed newspapers carefully, and the exposure that a national media gave him, McCarthy was able to bluff and bully his way to becoming the most feared man in America for a few years” (Encyclopedia of…). Not only was McCarthy feared by the public but he was also feared by other politicians. They feared being labeled a communist by him. “In February 1950, appearing at the Ohio County Women’s Republican Club in Wheeling, West Virginia, McCarthy gave a speech that propelled him into the national spotlight. Waving a piece of paper in the air, he declared that he had a list of 205 known members of the Communist Party who were ‘working and shaping policy’ in the State Department” (Joseph R. McCarthy).

A young Joseph McCarthy

McCarthy had ruined a lot of lives. It was ruining the careers of people and families and friendships. Many Americans were accused of being a communist during this era. They then went through many investigations. Although McCarthy was accusing all of these people of being communists, he had little to no proof of any of this. Joseph McCarthy spent almost five years accusing people of being communists. “Sylvia Jarrico, former wife of the blacklisted Paul Jarrico, who was fired from her job as an editor with Hollywood Quarterly because she refused to sign the University of California loyalty oath, says simply, ‘We lived with the constant sense of being hunted.’” (Naming Names…).

During McCarthyism, people were considered guilty if they were even associated with people who were communists. But a similar things is going on today as well with Donald Trump and the Russians. If anyone in his campaign ever met with or spoke to a Russian, some people are saying that he is guilty of collusion. Even if there is no evidence of any wrongdoing. They are presumed to be guilty just because of association. There was no crime actually committed or proven. This is the same thing that was happening with McCarthyism.

In the 1950s, the whole idea of McCarthyism had worked because it had played off of people’s fear. This was during a time when Americans were afraid of Russia and the nuclear war. So even though there was little evidence to prove who were communists and who weren’t communists, when someone accused you of working with the Russians, you were presumed to be guilty because people were scared and they would rather have been safe rather than sorry.

Works Cited

Navasky, Victor. “Naming Names: The Social Costs of McCarthyism.” Naming Names: The Social Costs of McCarthyism–by Victor Navasky, Staff. “Joseph R. McCarthy.”, A&E Television Networks, 2009,

Stentiford, Barry. “McCarthyism.” Encyclopedia of Chinese-American Relations, edited by Yuwu Song, McFarland, 1st edition, 2009. Credo Reference, Accessed 17 Nov 2017.

What Peyton Place Did

by admin - November 20th, 2017

By Jenna Goodreau

In Ardis Cameron’s 1999 introduction to Grace Metalious’ best selling novel,

The original cover of Peyton Place by Grace Metalious

Peyton Place, she discusses how controversial the novel was at the time of it’s release. Cameron described Peyton Place as “the overt pleasure of millions of Americans who saw in the novel scenes from their own lives as well as a graphic story against which to measure them” (page ix). Peyton Place, much like Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James (2011), was the kind of novel that people could not stop reading, but would keep hidden and not read in front of other people. The main reason for this secrecy is that the novel included many scandals like teenage pregnancy, abortion, suicide and rape that were rarely, if ever, mentioned in fiction at the time. One source, talking about Peyton Place, claims that “The name itself is synonymous with deceit and vice” (Clark).

Metalious lived in a small New Hampshire town, much like the one she wrote about. Her novel challenged the perception that most people had of New England towns at the time. Although they were viewed as perfect and ideal places to live, they had their scandals even if they were not talked about. The novel opened people’s eyes to the fact that incest, rape, abortion, etc. could be happening within their own communities and they are problems that should be addressed. However, many critics at the time bashed on the novel, calling it “degrading, disgusting, sordid, lurid and stinking garbage” (Sentinel Source). This is ironic, considering how popular the novel was. The novel, despite its success, was also banned from many libraries around the country, because people were “disturbed” by the realities that were brought to light when they read the book.

Peyton Place was one of the most popular, if not the most popular, novel of the 1950s. In her introduction, Cameron says that “In an age when the average first novel sold two thousand copies, Peyton Place sold sixty thousand within the first ten days of its official release” (page vii). About one in every twenty-nine Americans owned the novel and it was #1 on the New York Times best-seller list. The novel was also turned into a television series, it began in 1964 and ended about 5 years later. It was reported that the show had “a viewing population of 60 million, or one in three Americans” (Cameron page xvi). There was also a film created based on the novel, and it came out in 1957. People today are still reading the book, and it can tell us a lot about how opinions on “scandals” have changed. Today, reading about incest, suicide and abortion is less shocking, since they are very talked about topics in our society, and they occur all the time. It will be interesting to see how people in the future view books that we find scandalous today.


Metalious, Grace. Peyton Place; with a new introduction by Ardis Cameron.
Lebanon: Northeastern University Press, 1999. Print.

Richardson, Rachel. “‘Peyton Place’ Shockingly Revealed Life, by Rachel Richardson.”, 23 May 2004. Web.

Randall Clark. “Peyton Place.” St. James Encyclopedia of Popular Culture, Gale, 2013. U.S. History in Context, Web.

“Biography.” IMDb,,

Women & Conformity in the Fifties

by admin - November 20th, 2017

By Sophia Kontoes

The word conformity and the decade of the 1950s, go hand in hand. Although, in many ways, the decade was a period of traditional conformity, where men and women observed strict gender roles, but there were also many changes being made. These change began from the displeasure women had about their status in society. Conformity in the 1950s was common, everyone followed what the norms being reinforced by pop culture and the media. The norms consisted of the men being breadwinners, controlling the household and bringing in all the money. For women that meant their place remained in the home to do the cooking, cleaning, and raising of children.

Stereotypical woman doing chores in the 1950s

After the United States had overcome the desolation of World War II and the Great Depression, many americans desired to rebuild the American society to its affluent manner. Even though women were expected to be wives and mothers, they made up a lot of the postwar labor force. Because so many males were drafted into the war, women had taken their spots, but upon their return many of them were replaced. Most women want to keep their jobs, which like I mentioned, is why they made up one third of the peacetime workforce.

Post-war prosperity was skyrocketing, leading many Americans to the “American dream,” especially women. After war, America was going through a baby boom. Even throughout that time period, “approximately forty percent of women with young children, and at least half of women with older children, chose to remain in the workforce.” (Khan Academy) The proportion of women in the labor force as a percentage of women of working age (15-64) increased from 45.9% in 1955 to 51% in 1965. Despite the increase in labor, women were still only working as “secondary workers.”

Pop culture had a lot to do with conformity in the 1950s, social standards set the pace for the stereotypical American family. I Love Lucy, was one of the shows that set the tone for the roles of women in the home. “Lucille Ball’s zany I Love Lucy, which aired from 1951 to 1957, became the greatest television hit of the fifties.” (Dunar 235) Going for job opportunities or interests that took place outside the household never went her way. But her doing that, showed that women were unhappy with where they were at. Lucille Ball was a role model to women because even though her character was a stereotypical housewife, in reality she was a very successful actress.

The post-war advancements women made ultimately led to the 1960s Feminist Activities. “1960s feminists inspired political action and changed many women’s lives.” (Napikoski) All of what happened in the sixties for women branched from the fifties, and for that we can thank fifties women.

Works Cited

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

Napikoski, Linda. “1960s Feminism: Examples of Activities of the Movement.” ThoughtCo,

“Women in the 1950s.” Khan Academy, College Board,