The People History

What Happened in 1956 Important News and Events, Key Technology and Popular Culture

Major News Stories include Suez Crisis, Federal-Aid Highway Act signed for the construction of 41,000 miles of interstate highways, Fidel Castro land in Cuba at the start of the Cuban Revolution, Rock and Roll music sweeps the World, Elvis Presley appears on The Ed Sullivan Show and enters the US music charts for the first time, with " Heartbreak Hotel. ",
Jump To Fashion -- World Leaders -- 1956 Calendar -- Technology -- Cost Of Living -- Popular Culture -- Toys -- News Events

Cost of Living 1956

How Much things cost in 1956
Yearly Inflation Rate USA 1.52%
Yearly Inflation Rate UK 4.7% 4.7%
Average Cost of new house $11.700.00
Average Monthly Rent $88.00
Average Yearly Wages $4.450.00
Cost of a gallon of Gas 22 cents
Average Cost of a new car $2,050.00
Ground Coffee per LB 85 Cents
Below are some Prices for UK guides in Pounds Sterling
Average House Price 2,280



1956 the increase in living standards and the focus on education helped to fuel the increase in college education with 1 in 3 high school graduates now going off to college. TV shows included "As The World Turns" and "The Price is Right". Mothers could now buy disposable diapers and tefal non stick Frying Pans. Elvis Presley appears on the Ed Sullivan show and enters the music charts for the first time, with "Heartbreak Hotel".

Egypt Suez Crisis

  • Suez Crisis caused by the Egyptian Nationalization of the Suez Canal.
More Information for the Suez Canal Nationalization
Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser nationalizes the Suez Canal during July . The move to nationalize the canal was made after the United States and United Kingdom decided not to help finance the construction of the Aswan Dam due to concerns over Egypt's blossoming relationship with the Soviet Union. Nasser thought that by nationalizing the canal he would be able to collect tolls to help fund the Aswan Dam project. He also thought he could reduce British and French influence in the country as the Suez Canal had been operated by the Suez Canal Company (a French and British joint venture). Later in the year a group of Israeli forces, backed by France and Britain, made their way toward the canal leading to a standoff and conflict known as the "Suez Crisis." The conflict ended in 1957 but the Suez Canal remained a flash point for future conflicts in the region.

First Eurovision Song Contest

  • Switzerland wins the first Eurovision song contest.
More Information for Eurovision
The very first Eurovision Song Contest was held during May . The Eurovision Song Contest is a televised event that invited countries across Europe to each submit original songs. Competitors go up against singers from other European nations for the title of best original song by performing their songs on television and being judged. The first competition featured 2 songs each from 7 countries and Lys Assia from Switzerland won first place for her song "Refrain." The show was popular and has continued every year since 1956, inviting as many as 43 countries to participate. It is still one of the world's longest running and most watched television shows.

U.S. - Republican and Democratic National Conventions

  • The RNC and DNC choose their respective presidential candidates for the 1956 Presidential Election.
More Information for the National Conventions
The Republican National Convention and Democratic National Convention, where each party nominated their respective candidates, were held during August . The Republicans chose incumbent President Dwight D. Eisenhower and Vice President Richard M. Nixon to run in the upcoming Presidential election. The Democrats chose the former governor of Illinois, Adlai Stevenson, for President and Estes Kefauver, a U.S. Senator from Tennessee, for Vice President. The Republican National Convention was held in San Francisco, California, while the Democratic National Convention was held in Chicago, Illinois. Eisenhower would be re-elected in November.

1956 Back In Time Gifts

United States - Historic Recording Session

  • Four rock stars, the "Million Dollar Quartet," join up for an unplanned recording session.
More Information for the Million Dollar Quartet
Four young, up-and-coming musicians, Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Carl Perkins. Came together for one informal jam session during December . Called the "Million Dollar Quartet" by the press, the four budding music stars met in an impromptu moment at the Sun Record Studios in Memphis, Tennessee. They sang several songs together, including many old Gospel tunes, while being informally recorded. The session lasted part of the day and was for fun rather than commercial purposes, but in 1981 a seventeen track album entitled "The Million Dollar Quartet" was released in Europe.

U.S.A. The Movie "The Ten Commandments"

  • The epic film "The Ten Commandments" premieres.
More Information and Timeline for The Ten Commandments
The wildly popular epic film "The Ten Commandments" premieres in the United States on October 5, . The film, directed by legendary icon Cecil B. DeMille, starred Charlton Heston as Moses, Yul Brynner as Rameses and Anne Baxter as Nefretiri. The film told the Biblical tale of Moses in a grand and cinematic way and was filmed on location in Egypt. At the time it was created, "The Ten Commandments" was the most expensive film ever made and featured some of the largest sets ever created. It was a huge financial success and had critical acclaim, being nominated for 7 Academy Awards.


Elvis Presley First Hit "Heartbreak Hotel."

  • Elvis Presley releases his first hit.
More Information for Elvis first single.
In January , iconic Rock 'n' Roll performer Elvis Presley released his first pop single "Heartbreak Hotel." Elvis recorded the track earlier in the month at a studio in Nashville, Tennessee not long after he had signed his major recording contract with RCA. "Heartbreak Hotel" soon became the number one song on the Billboard pop charts for eight weeks after its release, it also hit number one on the country singles chart. This was also his first single to sell over one million copies. During the month of January he also had his first network TV appearance on Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey's "Stage Show."

U.S.A. Rocky Marciano

  • Rocky Marciano retires as the only undefeated Heavyweight Champion of the world with a perfect record.
More Information for Rocky Marciano
1. Thirty-one year old Rocky Marciano retires from the sport of professional boxing during April as the only champion with a perfect record, having won all 49 of his professional career match-ups.
2. Marciano began his boxing career after leaving the U.S. Army at the end of World War II.
3. He had his first professional match in 1947 against Lee Epperson.
4. In 1952 he won the title of Heavyweight Champion of the World after defeating Joe Walcott.
5. After winning the title, he successfully defended his crown five other times before his retirement.
6. Of his 49 total matches, he won 43 of them with a knockout.
7. Marciano was later killed in a plane crash at the age of forty-five during 1969.


U.S. - First Computer Hard Drive

  • The first hard disk is invented by IBM.
More Information for the first Hard Drive
IBM releases the first computer with a hard drive, the IBM 305 RAMAC, during September . The machine weighed about one ton and measured about 16 square feet. It was created by IBM employee Reynold Johnson and his research team. The hard drive stored about 5 megabytes of data and allowed users to immediately retrieve the data they needed without the use of punch cards. The development of the hard drive was a piece of revolutionary technology at the time and it greatly influenced the advancement of how we now use computers in the modern day.

Soviet Union Nikita Khrushchev denounces Stalin

  • Soviet Union leader Nikita Khrushchev gives secret speech denouncing Stalin.
More Information for Khrushchev's Speech
The Twentieth Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union is held during February , during which the Soviet Leader, Nikita Khrushchev, gave a speech condemning former Soviet premier Joseph Stalin who had died three years earlier. Khrushchev denounced Stalin as a cruel leader who had created a toxic, suspicious and terrifying environment in which persecution was rife. Khrushchev stated that Stalin's "cult of personality" must be dismantled and urged the Soviet Congress members to reveal the truth about Stalin slowly to the Russian public. The entirety of the secretive speech was not revealed to the Russian people until 1988.

United States - Browder v. Gayle

  • Alabama Bus segregation laws declared illegal by US Supreme Court.
More Information for Browder v. Gayle
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled on the Browder v. Gayle case during November . The ruling stated that racial segregation on buses was unconstitutional by affirming the Federal District Court ruling that had been made in June of that year. The case concluded the year-long Montgomery Bus Boycott led by Martin Luther King Jr. and by the end of the following month the Alabama buses were desegregated. The case was an important moment for the Civil Rights Movement as it re-affirmed that segregation laws violated the Fourteenth Amendment and stated that "separate but equal" was no longer an accepted doctrine of U.S. law.

United States "As the World Turns"

  • The first half-hour serial "As the World Turns" begins on CBS.
More Information for As the World Turns
1. The very first half-hour television serial (soap opera) "As the World Turns" premiered on CBS during April . It was unusual as most serials had only been 15 minutes in length up until that point.
2. The public reception of the show was initially tepid but it soon became quite popular and was one of the highest rated shows on television.
3. "As the World Turns" had featured several now well-known actors during its fifty plus year run including Meg Ryan, Amanda Seyfried, Matthew Morrison, and Jordana Brewster.
4. The show was set in fictional Oakdale, Illinois and plot lines focused on the lives of the town's residents.
5. It was notable in that it had a much slower pace than other serial soap operas of the time, choosing to highlight gradual character development rather than over the top drama.
6. It won several Emmy Awards throughout its run.
7. In 2010 the show was cancelled by CBS due to low ratings.


United States "My Fair Lady"

  • "My Fair Lady" opens on Broadway starring Julie Andrews as Eliza Doolittle and Rex Harrison as Professor Higgins.
More Information for the My Fair Lady musical
The smash hit musical comedy "My Fair Lady" debuts on Broadway during March . The musical, created by Lerner and Loewe, was based off of George Bernard Shaw's 1913 play "Pygmalion" and starred Rex Harrison and Julie Andrews in the lead roles of Henry Higgins and Eliza Doolittle. The show proved to be immensely popular with audiences and was praised by critics. It was nominated for ten Tony Awards and won six, including Best Musical, Best Actor in a Musical, and Best Direction. Its original run continued until September of 1962 with a total of 2,717 performances, making it the longest running musical at that time. It was revived in 1976, 1981, and 1993 and there was a popular film version released in 1964.

United States 1956 Federal-Aid Highway Act

  • Federal-Aid Highway Act signed into law on 29th June for the construction of 41,000 miles of interstate highways over a 20-year period.
More Information for the Federal Aid Highway Act
U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower signs the Federal Aid Highway Act into law during June . The Federal Highway Act authorized the creation of the interstate system with the construction of over 41,000 miles of highways across the United States. It was the largest U.S. Public construction project to be undertaken by the government at the point in history and was estimated to cost between $25 and $30 billion to build. Eisenhower pushed for the creation of the interstate system, citing a benefit to national security as the highways would allow for faster and safer evacuation routes in the event of a nuclear attack. The Federal Highway Act also helped to boost the auto industry, solidifying the car's place in American culture.

Monaco --- Grace Kelly marries Prince Rainier

  • The Movie star Grace Kelly marries Prince Rainier of Monaco and becomes Princess Grace of Monaco
More Information and Timeline For Grace Kelly
1. Grace Kelly was an Oscar winning actress winning an Oscar for Best Actress in The Country Girl, other movies she starred in included High Noon (1952), Dial M for Murder (1954), Rear Window (1954), To Catch a Thief (1955) and High Society (
2. April 1955 while attending the Cannes Film Festival she met Prince Rainier III, the sovereign of the principality of Monaco .
3. December 1955 while visiting the U.S. Rainier met Kelly and her family, and he proposed. She accepted and the families began preparations for what the press at that time dubbed "The Wedding of the Century." .
4. April 18th The Movie star Grace Kelly marries Prince Rainier of Monaco in a a 16-minute civil ceremony in the Palace Throne Room of Monaco, The Napoleonic Code of Monaco and the laws of the Roman Catholic Church necessitated two ceremonies, the first a civil ceremony and on the following day a church ceremony
5. April 19th the church ceremony took place at Monaco's Saint Nicholas Cathedral and was watched by over 30 million viewers on live television,,


1956 Mens and Womens Fashion Clothes

Part of our Collection of Clothing From this Year
Part of our Collection of Fashion Accessories From this Year
Women's Fashion Clothing Examples From this Year

Calendar For The Year 1956

1956 Calendar

Part of our Collection of Toys From this Year

Part of our 1950s Toys Selection of 250 Fifties Toys

1956 Toys


More News and Key Events

  • Following UN resolution condemning the invasion supported by the United States Britain, France and Israel Withdraw forces from Egypt.

  • Suez Crisis causes petrol rationing in Britain.

  • The First C.N.D. Marches take place at Aldermarston

  • Rock and Roll Dance Craze sweeps the World

  • Prince Ranier of Monaco marries Grace Kelly

  • Pakistan becomes Islamic Republic

  • Alabama Bus segregation laws declared illegal by US Supreme Court

  • Cuban revolutionaries including Fidel Castro land in Cuba at the start of the Cuban Revolution

  • Continued independence granted for colonies in Africa from Britain and France

  • US Carries Out H Bomb Tests Bikini Atoll

  • Warsaw Pact troops invade Hungary during the The Hungarian October Revolution .

  • Premium Bonds introduced in England to encourage saving

  • British naval diver Dissapears on May 9th "Buster" Crabb is later Found Dead following covert diving operation on Russian Cruiser

  • The Summer Olympics are held in Melbourne, Australia

  • Soccer star Pele joins Brazil's Santos team at the age of 15 in June

  • Eight black students are refused entry at Sturgis High School in Sturgis, Kentucky

  • 52 people die when the Italian passenger liner S.S. Andrea Doria collides on July 25th off Nantucket Island, Mass. with the Swedish liner S.S. Stockholm.

  • The Winter Olympic Games are held in Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy


Popular Culture 1956

  • Rocky Marciano retires as the only undefeated Heavyweight Champion of the world with a perfect record
  • Elvis Presley enters the US music charts for the first time, with - " Heartbreak Hotel. " the first of 170 hit singles
  • Elvis Presley appears on The Ed Sullivan Show for the first time
  • Elvis Presley's first movie, "Love Me Tender" opens in New York
  • Diamonds Are Forever is published by Ian Fleming
  • "My Fair Lady" opens on Broadway starring Julie Andrews as Eliza Doolittle and Rex Harrison as Professor Higgins.
  • The first half-hour serial "As the World Turns" begins on CBS.

Popular Films

  • Guys and Dolls
  • The King and I
  • Trapeze
  • High Society
  • Around the World in Eighty Days

Popular Musicians

  • Elvis Presley
  • Bill Haley and the Comets
  • Chuck Berry
  • Jerry Lee Lewis
  • Johnny Cash
  • Ella Fitzgerald
  • Dean Martin

Born This Year

David Copperfield September 16th
Gary Cole September 20th
Martina Navratilova October 18th
Bo Derek November 20th


  • First hard disk (5MB) invented by IBM.
  • Black-and-white portable TV sets hit the market
  • The first Transatlantic Telephone Cable goes in operation
  • The first commercial videotape recorder the VR-1000 from Ampex Corp goes on sale.
  • Tefal starts producing non stick Frying Pans
  • Oral Vaccine developed against Polio by Albert Sabin
  • Sony exports it's first products to Canada a Transistor Radio
Inventions Invented by Inventors and Country ( or attributed to First Use )
Nuclear Power England first power station at Calder Hall
Video Tape USA
Video Recorder USA

Major World Political Leaders

- Australia -- Prime Minister - Sir Robert Menzies --
- Brazil -- President - Nereu Ramos -- Till 31 January
- Brazil -- President - Juscelino Kubitschek -- From 31 January
- Canada -- Prime Minister - Louis St. Laurent --
- China -- Chairman of the People's Republic of China - Mao Zedong --
- France -- President - René Coty --
- Germany -- Chancellor - Konrad Adenauer --
- India -- Prime Minister - Jawahar Lal Nehru --
- Italy -- Prime Minister - Antonio Segni --
- Japan -- Prime Minister - Ichiro Hatoyama -- Till 23 December
- Japan -- Prime Minister - Tanzan Ishibashi -- From 23 December
- Mexico -- President - Adolfo Ruiz Cortines --
- Russia / Soviet Union -- First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union - Nikita Khrushchev --
- South Africa -- Prime Minister - Johannes Gerhardus Strijdom --
- United States -- President - Dwight D. Eisenhower --
- United Kingdom -- Prime Minister - Sir Anthony Eden --

Political Elections

United States Presidential Election -- - 1956 -- Dwight D. Eisenhower (Republican) Defeats Adlai Stevenson (Democratic) --