Life in 1959 – Popular Culture Facts


This page offers an insight into life in 1959 and includes World news, political leaders, prices, population statistics and information about the popular culture of 1959.

The year 1959 began on a Thursday. It was not a leap year.

1959 In The News

Life in 1959 - Typhoon Vera
Typhoon Vera devastation

3rd June – Singapore became a self-governing colony of Britain

23rd June– Sean Lemass became Taoiseach of Ireland

15th August– Cyprus became independent

26th September– Typhoon Vera struck Honshu in Japan

29th October– The comic ‘Asterix the Gaul’ was first produced
1st December – Antarctic Treaty declared Antarctica a military free zone


Life in 1959 – Prices

dollar bill

Average house:
UK – £2077; USA – $12,400
Petrol per gallon:
UK – £0.23; USA – $0.25
Loaf of Bread:
UK – £0.05; USA – $0.20
Gold per ounce:
UK – $35.10, USA – $35.3

Life in 1959 – Population

World Map

World: – 3,000,072,693
Australia: – 10,131,729
Canada: – 17,872,034
China: – 654,349,440
India: – 436,627,872
Soviet Union: 117,956,864
United States: – 177,135,008
United Kingdom: – 51,956,000


Life in 1959 – Music

Popular MusicBest Selling Single:
UK – Living Doll – Cliff Richard
USA – Heartbreak Hotel – Elvis Presley
AUS – Smoke Gets in Your Eyes – The Platters
CAN – The Battle of New Orleans – Johnny Horton

Best Selling Album:
UK – South Pacific – Original Soundtrack
USA – Music from Peter Gunn – Henry Mancini
AUS – No data – Charts began 1966
CAN – No data – Charts began 1968

Popular Artists:
Chuck Berry, Ray Charles, Sam Cooke, Bobby Darin, The Drifters, Johnny Mathis, Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, Andy Williams


On the Bookshelves

BookshelfBooks Published in 1959:

The Haunting of Hill House – Shirley Jackson
A Separate Peace – John Knowles
Starship Troopers – Robert A Heinlein
The Sirens of Titan – Kurt Vonnegut Jr
Naked Lunch – William S Burroughs

At the Movies

Movies Films1959 Top Movies (USA box office figures):

1. Ben Hur – $33 million
2. The Shaggy Dog – $8.1 million
3. Pillow Talk – $7.3 million 4. Some Like it Hot – $7.2 million
5. Operation Petticoat – $7 million


Life in 1959 – World Leaders

Dwight Eisenhower
Dwight Eisenhower

Australia Prime Minister – Robert Menzies 
Canada Prime Minister – John Diefenbaker
China President – Mao Zedong to 27th April; Liu Shaoqi after 27th April
India Prime Minister – Jawaharlal Nehru
Soviet Union Leader – Nikita Khruschchev
United States President – Dwight Eisenhower
United Kingdom Prime Minister – Harold MacMillan


Born in 1959

Sade born 1959
Singer Sade

16th January – Sade (Singer)
16th February – John McEnroe (Tennis Player)
17th April – Sean Bean (Actor)
11th July – Suzanne Vega (Singer)
26th July – Kevin Spacey (Actor)
15th October – Sarah Ferguson (former Royal)

Died in 1959

Cecil B DeMille died 1959
Cecil B DeMille

21st January – Cecil B DeMille (Director)
3rd February – Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens (Singers)
17th July – Billie Holiday (Singer)
16th October – George Marshall (Politician)
14th December – Stanley Spencer (Artist)


1959 Sport Highlights

FA Cup presentation
FA Cup presentation

Football – Nottingham Forest won the FA Cup
Cycling – Frederico Bahamontes (ESP) won the Tour de France
Golf – Billy Casper won the US Open; Gary Player won the British Open
Tennis – Davis Cup – Australia beat the United STates
Baseball – Los Angeles Dodgers won the World Series
Horse Racing – Roddy Owen won the Cheltenham Gold Cup; Tommy Lee won the Kentucky Derby


Christmas Wishlist

Barbie Doll first on sale

Barbie Doll
Plastic Hula Hoop
Slinky Dog
Pogo Stick
Hot Wheels Cars
Play Doh
Paper Dolls


What Was New?

Ski Doo invented 1959

Microchip invented
Internal pacemaker developed
Barbie doll first produced
Snowmobile (Ski-Doo) invented



First published 2020; updated and republished Mar 24 2022 @ 9:54 am – Updated – Mar 30, 2022 @ 12:16 pm