World Events

  • Cuban President Batista resigns and flees (Jan. 1). Fidel Castro assumes power (Feb. 16).
  • Tibet’s Dalai Lama escapes to India (Mar. 31).
  • Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev tours the United States, meeting with Eisenhower at Camp David.
  • Britain recognizes the independence of Cyprus.
  • World Statistics

    Population: 2.997 billion

    Nobel Peace Prize:
    Philip John Noel-Baker (UK)
U.S. Events
  • Alaska (Jan. 3) and Hawaii (Aug. 21) become the 49th and 50th states.
  • St. Lawrence Seaway opens, allowing ocean ships to reach Midwest (April 25).
  • U.S. Statistics

    President: Dwight D. Eisenhower
    Vice President: Richard M. Nixon
    Population: 177,829,628
    Life expectancy: 69.9 years
    Homicide Rate (per 100,000): 4.6

US GDP (1998 dollars):   $507.2 billion
Federal spending:   $92.10 billion
Federal debt:   $287.5 billion
Consumer Price Index:   29.1
Unemployment:   6.8%
Cost of a first-class stamp:   $0.04


World Series
LA Dodgers d. Chicago White Sox (4-2)

NBA Championship
Boston d. Minneapolis Lakers (4-0)

Stanley Cup
Montreal d. Toronto (4-1)

Women: Maria Bueno d. D. Hard (6-4 6-3)
Men: Alex Olmedo d. R. Laver (6-4 6-3 6-4)

Kentucky Derby Champion
Tomy Lee

NCAA Basketball Championship
California d. West Virginia (71-70)

NCAA Football Champions
Syracuse (11-0-0)



  • The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences sponsors the first Grammy Award ceremony for music recorded in 1958.
  • Frank Sinatra wins his first Grammy Award — Best Album for Come Dance with Me.
  • Rumors of cheating on quiz shows erupt into a national scandal.


  • Some Like It Hot, North by Northwest, Ben-Hur, Anatomy of a Murder, Room at the Top


  • William Burroughs, Naked Lunch
  • D. H. Lawrence, Lady Chatterley’s Lover
  • Robert Lowell, Life Studies
  • Norman Mailer, Advertisements for Myself
  • James A. Michener, Hawaii
  • Grace Paley, The Little Disturbances of Man
  • Boris Pasternak, Doctor Zhivago
  • Philip Roth, Goodbye Columbus and Five Short Stories

Entertainment Awards

Pulitzer Prizes
Fiction: The Travels of Jaimie McPheeters, Robert Lewis Taylor
Music: Concerto for Piano and Orchestra, John La Montaine
Drama: J. B. Archibald MacLeish

Oscars awarded in 1959
Academy Award, Best Picture: Gigi, Arthur Freed, producer (MGM)

Nobel Prize for Literature: Salvatore Quasimodo (Italy)

1959 Emmy Awards

1959 Tony Awards

Grammys awarded in 1959
Record of the Year: “Nel Blu Dipinto di Blu” (Volare), Domenico Modugno
Album of the Year: The Music From Peter Gunn, Henry Mancini (RCA)
Song of the Year: “Nel Blu Dipinto di Blu,” Domenico Modugno, songwriter

Miss America: Mary Ann Mobley (MS)

  • Jack S. Kilby of Texas Instruments (US) supervises the development of the first integrated circuit. Background:
  • The US Navy launches the Vanguard satellite.
  • The Lunik II probe (USSR) reaches the moon; Lunik III photographs the dark side of the moon for the first time. Background:

Nobel Prizes in Science

Chemistry: Jaroslav Heyrovsky (Czechoslovakia), for development of polarography, an electrochemical method of analysis

Physics: Emilio Segre and Owen Chamberlain (both US), for demonstrating the existence of the anti-proton

Physiology or Medicine: Severo Ochoa and Arthur Kornberg (both US), for discoveries related to compounds within chromosomes that play a vital role in heredity

  • Lou Costello
  • Cecil B. De Mille
  • Mel Ott
  • Frank Lloyd Wright


1959 – Hawaii becomes the 50th state