Category:
1950s

Channel Surfing in the 1950s

How did people channel surf in the 1950s, before the invention of remote controls?

Mrs. Cooper's solution was to own a different TV set for every channel. To change channels she just had to move to a different room.

Medford Mail Tribune - Mar 28, 1957

Posted By: Alex - Sun Aug 29, 2021 - Comments (4)
Category: Television, 1950s

Unlikely Reasons for Murder No. 5

Suicide is self-murder, and offing oneself because your murderous insurance scam has come unraveled seems a bit more unlikely than accepting the punishment. Extra points given for swallowing poison in front of the cops. How did he have it so handy?



Source: The Daily Journal (Commerce, Texas) 09 Nov 1956, Fri Page 1

Posted By: Paul - Thu Aug 19, 2021 - Comments (5)
Category: Death, Suicide, Scams, Cons, Rip-offs, and General Larceny, Stupid Criminals, 1950s

Soundblast

Soundblast was a 1956 album by the duo Arthur Ferrante and Louis Teicher who met while studying at the Juilliard School of Music. It was marketed as space-age music representative of the kind of music that inhabitants of the "remotest worlds" might listen to.

But the real gimmick of the album was that all the sounds on it, including the percussion, was produced by pianos. Details from the Miami News (Nov 17, 1957):

They perform their hi-fi-jinks on two "gimmicked" Steinways by alternately muting, plucking, strumming and beating on the strings. What comes out they describe as the "sound of tomorrow."

Nor does either of them hesitate to use his elbow, forearms or knuckles to elicit a desired chordal effect—not to mention an assortment of wooden and metal gadgets designed to give the pianos a new personality...

Their goal always is to achieve the maximum tonal contrasts and to simulate orchestral color as vividly as possible within the limitations of pianistic dynamics.

More info: The Soundblast liner notes



Miami News - Nov 17, 1957



Wikipedia has an interesting biographical detail about Ferrante. Apparently he died in 2009, twelve days after his 88th birthday, thereby fulfilling his ambition to live one year for each piano key.

Posted By: Alex - Thu Aug 12, 2021 - Comments (1)
Category: Music, Space-age Bachelor Pad & Exotic, 1950s

By the Light of the Silvery Moon



Source: The Escanaba Daily Press (Escanaba, Michigan) 30 Jun 1953, Tue Page 8

Posted By: Paul - Wed Aug 11, 2021 - Comments (0)
Category: Public Humiliation, Sleep and Dreams, Public Indecency, 1950s

Miss Mayonnaise and Miss Salad Dressing

June 1952: Joan Corbett was named 'Miss Mayonnaise' while her twin sister, Jean, was given the title of 'Miss Salad Dressing'.

Los Angeles Times - June 11, 1952



Pasadena Independent Sun - June 8, 1952



Here's a better picture of the twins.



And here they are in a 1954 ad for Chesterfield Cigarettes.



The Burbank High School 'In Memoriam' blog has some biographical info about them:

Jean Corbett, 68, died April 29, 1999, in Kauai, Hawaii. Mrs. Corbett and her twin sister, Joan, were born in Burbank. Jean Corbett was a resident for 62 years.In the 1950's, the Corbett twins appeared in commercials, theater and films with such stars as Bob Hope and Frank Sinatra. They graduated from Burbank High School in 1949. They were dancers at Ken Murray's Blackouts. Jean was the cover girl for the 1955 opening of the Riveria Hotel, in Las Vegas. She is survived by her daughter, Lori Williams. Joan Corbett preceded her sister in death. A memorial service was held April 29 in Kauai. The Neptune Society, Kauai was in charge of the arrangements.

Posted By: Alex - Sat Aug 07, 2021 - Comments (4)
Category: Awards, Prizes, Competitions and Contests, Mayonnaise, 1950s

The Power of Prayer on Plants

According to the Rev. Franklin Loehr, prayer could supercharge the growth of plants. Pretty much any prayer would work. He detailed his argument in his 1959 book The Power of Prayer on Plants.

When Richard Nixon was told of Loehr's results, he reportedly said, "That sounds like a good kind of thinking to me."

However, in 1961, a group of Harvard students tried to replicate Loehr's results and failed to do so. In fact, in their experiment the plants that weren't prayed for at all grew better than plants that were prayed for by either skeptics or believers.



More details from Newsweek (Apr 13, 1959):

Prayer Food

Can prayer make plants grow faster and bigger? Skeptics think it laughable, scientists find it irrelevant, and farmers tend to rely on more mundane methods to increase their crops. But the Rev. Franklin Loehr is convinced that the answer is yes, and has just written a book, "The Power of Prayer on Plants," to tell why.

After five years and 900 experiments, the 46-year-old Presbyterian minister reports he and 150 members of his prayer group found that prayed-for wheat and corn seeds grew into bigger seedlings than ones which got no prayer or outright negative prayer. Commenting on their methods last week in his Los Angeles home, Mr. Loehr explained that they used every kin of prayer and found every one effective to a degree.

"There were silent and spoken prayers," he continued, "those to loved ones, and the humble prayer straight to God. But mostly people just talked to the plants, loved them, or scolded them. First I tried buddying up to them, and then I observed that the people getting better results were approaching the plants on their own level of consciousness."

Picking up a copy of the book, he pointed to the jacket, which shows a lone, stunted shoot on the no-prayer side of an experimental seedbed. "He wasn't supposed to be there," explained Mr. Loehr, "so we blighted him with three bursts of negative command."

Mr. Loehr dropped the experiments two years ago, having persuaded himself, at least, of their validity. He is now concentrating on "soul dynamics" prayer for people—not, of course, to make them grow faster and bigger. "The fact is," he concluded, "we used plants to test prayer just as the artificial heart is tested in dogs instead of humans."



Along similar lines, see our previous post "Does holy water help radishes grow better?"

Posted By: Alex - Fri Aug 06, 2021 - Comments (2)
Category: Religion, Experiments, Books, 1950s

The Seattle Seafair Queen







It's too bad that the raucous early years, with roving pirates, did not last into our era.

Article here.

More pictures of queens here.



Posted By: Paul - Mon Aug 02, 2021 - Comments (0)
Category: Awards, Prizes, Competitions and Contests, Beauty, Ugliness and Other Aesthetic Issues, Parades and Festivals, Regionalism, 1950s

So easy a four-year-old can do it

From Newsweek - Jan 2, 1950:

The Phillips-Jones Corp. was sure last week it had found the answer to the declining market for men's dress and business shirts in its Van Heusen Century. The Century's collar, the company says, cannot wrinkle, curl, or wilt. Dec. 21, as Phillips-Jones salesmen gathered in a New York hotel for a sales convention, the company proceeded to show how easy it was to iron the shirt by having a young miss of 4, Pamela Gaughan, take the stage and wield the iron.

Pamela doesn't look like she's having fun.

Posted By: Alex - Fri Jul 30, 2021 - Comments (6)
Category: Publicity Stunts, Children, 1950s

The Mystery Girl from the World of Autodynamics

In late 1956, a celebrity in disguise as the "Mystery Girl from the World of Autodynamics" toured car shows and dealerships. The public was challenged to guess her identity to have a chance to win a new 1957 Dodge.

Can you guess who she was? The answer is below in extended.

Here's a hint. She's not an A-list celebrity, but we've posted about her before on WU.



North Hollywood Valley Times - Nov 24, 1956



More in extended >>

Posted By: Alex - Wed Jul 28, 2021 - Comments (4)
Category: Publicity Stunts, 1950s, Cars

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Alex is the creator and curator of the Museum of Hoaxes. He's also the author of various weird, non-fiction, science-themed books such as Elephants on Acid and Psychedelic Apes.

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