1954 Events & Facts

What Happened in 1954?


  • Supreme Court rules that race-based segregation in schools is unconstitutional
  • Sen. Joseph McCarthy conducts nationally televised inquiries into communist infiltration of the Army; his activities inspire a backlash and a condemnation by the Senate
  • Soviet Union rejects proposals to reunify Germany
  • CIA intervenes in Guatemala, helping to overthrow government
  • U.S. Southeast Asian and Pacific nations form the Southeast Asian Treaty Organization (SEATO)
  • Radical Puerto Rican nationalists attack House of Representatives, shooting five congressmen
  • U.S. and Canada begin construction of an early-warning radar system in northern Canada


  • New York Stock Exchange prices reach their highest level since 1929


  • Increasing global concern about nuclear fallout and radioactive waste disposal
  • Dr. Jonas Salk begins inoculating schoolchildren with his polio vaccine
  • Physicist and nuclear pioneer J. Robert Oppenheimer dismissed from government projects due to his political beliefs
  • First successful kidney transplant


  • World Series: New York Giants over Cleveland, 4-0
  • Philadelphia Athletics move to Kansas City
  • Sports Illustrated debuts
  • Roger Bannister of the UK becomes the 1st person to run a 4 minute mile


  • Movies: On the Waterfront, Rear Window, The Seven Samauri
  • Songs: Hernando’s Hideaway, Three Coins in a Fountain, Mister Sandman, Young at Heart
  • TV Shows: Jack Benny Show, Adventures of Rin Tin Tin, George Gobel Show, Mr. Wizard, Disneyland
  • Books: A Stillness at Appomattox, Bruce Catton; The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien; Lord of the Flies, William Golding
  • First annual Newport Jazz Festival held
  • Bill Haley and the Comets record "Rock Around Clock"


  • 29 million U.S. households have television sets, double the number in service three years before
  • Billy Graham leads an increasing interest in Christian revival meetings
  • Davy Crockett becomes a national fad; sales of "coonskin" caps soar
  • A movie ticket is 70 cents


  • Sales of comic books reach 20 million copies a month
  • The phrase "under God" added to the Pledge of Allegiance


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