11 Amazing Images & Moments From 1954
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Glo Back:Spring 19541 of 12
By Denise Wolfe
We're going back in time for a reminder of what life was like before Netflix, Obamacare and online shopping. From color TV to The Pill, here are 11 unforgettable moments from the spring of 1954.
In Living Color2 of 12
On March 25, production began on RCA Victor's first commercial color TV sets, equipped with a 15-inch picture and retailing at $1,000. (With slow sales, the price eventually dropped to $495.) One reason color TV may not have taken off initially? The year's most popular shows—like I Love Lucy and The Jack Benny Show on CBS, Dragnet and You Bet Your Life on NBC, and, ironically, ABC's Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color—were still being broadcast in black-and-white.
Mall Mania3 of 12
Detroit's Northland Center welcomed shoppers in March of 1954. The opening celebration was covered by publications like The Wall Street Journal, Life and Ladies' Home Journal. The "new shopping paradise," a first of its kind, had a whopping 110 stores and a sprawling parking lot, where visitors were cautioned not to lose their cars.
Senate Scandal4 of 12
Journalists Edward R. Murrow and Fred Friendly produced the documentary series See It Now from 1951 to 1958. One of the most famous episodes of the Emmy- and Peabody-winning show aired March 9, 1954. In "A Report on Senator Joseph McCarthy," Murrow used excerpts and clips from McCarthy's own speeches and interrogations to expose his many lies and contradictions. The Senate formally censured "the junior senator from Wisconsin" in December 1954, thus ending the McCarthy Communist witch hunts at last.
Rising Star5 of 12
Wearing a dress by Givenchy, Audrey Hepburn accepted the Academy Award for Best Actress for her role as Princess Ann in Roman Holiday. The part was originally intended for Elizabeth Taylor, but Hepburn's screen test charmed the director.
All Americana6 of 12
The March 6 Saturday Evening Post cover was Norman Rockwell's "Girl at the Mirror," one of over 320 covers Rockwell would create for the magazine. Though now celebrated as a gifted artist, he was then considered a mere illustrator—his images of small-town Americana were beloved by the public but considered saccharine and sentimental by critics. "I paint life as I would like it to be," Rockwell said.
The Write Stuff7 of 12
Ernest Hemingway was as famous for his macho exploits as for his prose. In March 1954, Hemingway was convalescing in Venice with his fourth wife, Mary Welsh, after a plane crash during his return from an African safari. His cure, he told journalists, was based upon scampi and strong Italian wine. Physical and psychological injuries were so severe that "Papa" didn't make the trip to Sweden later that year to accept his Nobel Prize in literature.
Sister Act8 of 12
Dark-haired beauty Dorian Leigh was one of the first supermodels, appearing on six Vogue covers in 1946. By 1954, she was still being photographed for ad campaigns and editorial features, but her sister Suzy Parker, 15 years her junior, would eventually become the top model of the decade.
It's All Relative9 of 12
Who isn't familiar with the equation E = MC2, even if the meaning of Einstein's Theory of Relativity is obscure? Albert Einstein celebrated his 75th birthday on March 14, 1954. "Put your hand on a hot stove for a minute, and it seems like an hour," the brilliant physicist explained. "Sit with a pretty girl for an hour, and it seems like a minute. That's relativity."
Trials & Tribulations10 of 12
Thanks to the efforts of birth-control activist nurse Margaret Sanger, endocrinologist Gregory Pincus and obstetrician John Rock had begun the first human trials of The Pill in March of 1954. While the researchers considered the results successful, it would be another six years before the FDA approved the drug for contraceptive use.
Guests of Honor11 of 12
It was dubbed "one of the most fabulous weddings in Hollywood history" when Jack Benny and his wife Mary Livingston watched their daughter Joan marry stockbroker Seth Baker on March 9, 1954, at the Beverly Hills Hotel. Among the glittering guests: Ronald Reagan, between terms as president of the Screen Actors Guild, and his wife Nancy—still acting under her maiden name, Nancy Davis.
Vacation Destination12 of 12
National Geographic's March '54 issue calls Jamaica "the Hub of the Caribbean." Since most Americans love a good hub, tourism skyrockets. No pirates, but plenty of rum.