World Events:

  • Nikita Khrushchev, First Secretary of USSR Communist Party, denounces Stalin’s excesses (Feb. 24).
  • Morocco gains independence from France (March 1) and Spain (April 7).
  • Workers’ uprising against Communist rule in Poland is crushed (June 28-30).
  • Egypt takes control of Suez Canal (July 26). Israel launches attack on Egypt’s Sinai peninsula and drives toward Suez Canal (Oct. 29). British and French invade Egypt at Port Said (Nov. 5). Cease-fire forced by US pressure stops British, French, and Israeli advance (Nov. 6). Background: Arab-Israeli Wars
  • Soviet troops and tanks crush anti-Communist uprisings in Hungary (November).
  • Population: 2.833 billion

US Events:

  • first black student at the University of Alabama, is suspended after riots (March 1).
  • U.S. tests the first aerial hydrogen bomb over Namu islet, Bikini Atoll with the force of 10 million tons TNT (May 21). Background: nuclear weapons
  • U.S. Statistics

    President: Dwight D. Eisenhower

    Vice President: Richard M. Nixon

    Population: 168,903,031

    Life expectancy: 69.7 years

    Homicide Rate (per 100,000): 4.6


US GDP (1998 dollars):   $438 billion
Federal spending:   $70.64 billion
Federal debt:   $272.7 billion
Consumer Price Index:   27.2
Unemployment:   4.4%
Cost of a first-class stamp:   $0.03


World Series
NY Yankees d. Brooklyn Dodgers (4-3)

NBA Championship
Philadelphia Warriors d. Ft. Wayne Pistons (4-1)

Stanley Cup
Montreal d. Detroit (4-1)

Women: Shirley Fry d. A. Buxton (6-3 6-1)
Men: Lew Hoad d. K. Rosewall (6-2 4-6 7-5 6-4)

Kentucky Derby Champion

NCAA Basketball Championship
San Francisco d. Iowa (83-71)

NCAA Football Champions
Oklahoma (10-0-0)

1956 Summer Olympics, Melbourne

1956 Winter Olympics, Cortina d’Ampezzo



  • With many hit singles (including “Heartbreak Hotel”), Elvis Presley emerges as one of the world’s first rock stars. The gyrating rocker enjoys fame on the stages of the Milton Berle, Steve Allen and Ed Sullivan shows, as well as in the first of his many movies, Love Me Tender.
  • Kay Thompson’s Eloise, the Plaza Hotel’s most famous guest, is a bestseller.
  • Grace Metalious’s steamy Peyton Place is a bestseller.
  • The Wizard of Oz has its first airing on TV.


  • The Seventh Seal, Giant, The Searchers, Around the World in 80 Days, The King and I, Friendly Persuasion


  • Woody Guthrie, “This Land is Your Land”


  • John Barth, The Floating Opera
  • James Baldwin, Giovanni’s Room
  • Allen Ginsburg, Howl
  • John F. Kennedy, Profiles in Courage
  • Lewis Mumford, The Transformations of Man
  • William Styron, The Long March

Entertainment Awards

Pulitzer Prizes
Fiction: Andersonville, MacKinlay Kantor
Music: Symphony No. 3, Ernst Toch
Drama: The Diary of Anne Frank, Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett

Oscars awarded in 1956
Academy Award, Best Picture: Marty, Harold Hecht, producer (United Artists)

Nobel Prize for Literature: Juan Ramón Jiménez (Spain)

1956 Emmy Awards

Best Dramatic SeriesProducers’ Showcase (NBC)
Best Actor, Continuing PerformancePhil Silvers, Phil Silvers Show, You’ll Never Get Rich
Best Actress, Continuing PerformanceLucille Ball, I Love Lucy
Best Actor in a Supporting RoleArt Carney, The Honeymooners
Best Actress in a Supporting RoleNanette Fabray, Caesar’s Hour
Best Single Program of the YearProducers’ Showcase: Peter Pan (NBC)
Best Actor, Single PerformanceLloyd Nolan, Ford Star Jubilee: Caine Mutiny Court Martial
Best Actress, Single PerformanceMary Martin, Producers’ Showcase: Peter Pan
Best Television AdaptationPaul Gregory and Franklin Schaffner, Caine Mutiny Court Martial by Herman Wouk
Best Director, Film SeriesNat Hiken, Phil Silvers Show, You’ll Never Get Rich
Best Director, Live SeriesFranklin Schaffner, Caine Mutiny Court Martial
Best Original Teleplay WritingRod Serling, Kraft TV Theatre: Patterns
Best Comedy SeriesPhil Silvers Show, You’ll Never Get Rich (CBS)
Best ComedianPhil Silvers
Best ComedienneNanette Fabray
Best Comedy WritingNat Hiken, Barry Blitser, Arnold Auerbach, Harvey Orkin, Vincent Bogert, Arnold Rosen, Coleman Jacoby, Tony Webster and Terry Ryan, Phil Silvers Show, You’ll Never Get Rich
Best Variety SeriesEd Sullivan Show (CBS)
Best Music SeriesYour Hit Parade (NBC)
Best Action or Adventure SeriesDisneyland (ABC)
Best Documentary Program, Religious, Informational, Educational or InterviewOmnibus (CBS)
Best News Commentator or ReporterEdward R. Murrow
Best Children’s SeriesLassie (CBS)
Best Audience Participation Series (Quiz, Panel, etc.)$64,000 Question (CBS)
Best Specialty Act, Single or GroupMarcel Marceau
Best Mc or Program Host, Male or FemalePerry Como

1956 Tony Awards

PlayThe Diary of Anne Frank
MusicalDamn Yankees
Actor—PlayPaul Muni, Inherit the Wind
Actress—PlayJulie Harris, The Lark
Supporting or Featured Actor—PlayEd Begley, Inherit the Wind
Supporting or Featured Actress—PlayUna Merkel, The Ponder Heart
Actor—MusicalRay Walston, Damn Yankees
Actress—MusicalGwen Verdon, Damn Yankees
Supporting or Featured Actor—MusicalRuss Brown, Damn Yankees
Supporting or Featured Actress—MusicalLotte Lenya, The Threepenny Opera
Authors—PlayFrances Goodrich and Albert Hackett, The Diary of Anne Frank
Authors—MusicalGeorge Abbott and Douglass Wallop, Damn Yankees
DirectorTyrone Guthrie, The Matchmaker
Producer—PlayKermit Bloomgarden, The Diary of Anne Frank
Producers—MusicalFrederick Brisson, Robert Griffith and Harold S. Prince in association with Albert B. Taylor, Damn Yankees
Composer and LyricistRichard Adler and Jerry Ross, Damn Yankees
Scenic DesignerPeter Larkin, Inherit the Wind and No Time for Sergeants
Costume DesignerAlvin Colt, Pipe Dream
ChoreographerBob Fosse, Damn Yankees
Conductor and Musical DirectorHal Hastings, Damn Yankees
Stage TechnicianHarry Green, Middle of the Night and Damn Yankees
Special AwardsThe Threepenny Opera
The Theatre Collection of the New York Public Library

Miss America: Sharon Ritchie (CO)


  • Felix Wankel (Germany) develops the rotary internal combustion engine.
  • The DNA molecule is first photographed. Background: genetic engineering
  • The neutrino is first observed at Los Alamos, New Mexico.
  • Nobel Prizes in Science

    Chemistry: Sir Cyril Hinshelwood (UK) and Nikolai N. Semenov (USSR), for parallel research on chemical reaction kineticsPhysics: William Shockley, Walter H. Brattain, and John Bardeen (all US), for developing electronic transistorPhysiology or Medicine: Dickinson W. Richards, Jr., André F. Cournand (both US), and Werner Forssmann (Germany), for new techniques in treating heart disease


  • Tommy Dorsey
  • Connie Mack
  • Jackson Pollock


1956 – The King and I (Yul Brynner)