Famous Actors And Actresses Of The 1950s – How much do you know about famous people from the 1950s? The long-awaited release of the 1950 US Census in April will reveal millions of exciting findings. In addition to finding beloved stars in our families, each of us will be able to search for our favorite celebrities from the era.
Your friends are excited to take a look at the 6 influential men and women whose names should appear in the soon-to-be-searchable index. Who do you hope to see?
Famous Actors And Actresses Of The 1950s
Ella Fitzgerald was more than a singer; he survived. Born in 1917, Fitzgerald was asked to work early and often to support his family’s modest income. As a young teenager, before the world heard him sing, he worked for a local bookie running money between punters. After a series of family tragedies, Fitzgerald was sent to a reform school where he was subjected to severe physical abuse. Unwilling to endure another day at school, she ran out onto the streets when she was just 15 years old.
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His life and the world of music changed forever in 1934 when his name was drawn at random in a weekly drawing at the Apollo Theatre. Nervous and shy, Fitzgerald took the stage and wowed the audience with Hoagy Carmichael’s “Judy” and the Boswell Sisters’ “The Object of My Affections.” He would later say that at that moment he knew he wanted to sing for the rest of his life.
After winning talent shows and experimenting with the new sounds of bebop and scat singing, Fitzgerald recorded his tour to the popular children’s song “A-Tisket, A-Tasket”. It was an instant hit, selling over a million copies and making Fitzgerald famous. She would later be dubbed “The First Lady of Song” and become America’s most successful female jazz artist.
During his long career, Fitzgerald won 13 Grammys and sold more than 40 million records. He also collaborated and worked with all the big names in the business, including Duke Ellington, Nat King Cole and Frank Sinatra. Along the way, he overcame intense discrimination with grace and eventually gained fans of all ages, races and religions. By the end of his career, he had recorded over 200 albums and performed all over the world.
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In his later years, Fitzgerald struggled with diabetes, and doctors amputated both of his legs below the knees. With her acting days over, Fitzgerald said she was content to settle into her home in Beverly Hills and spend time with her son and granddaughter, Alice. “I want to smell the air, hear the birds and hear Alice laugh,” she said. Fitzgerald died peacefully on June 15, 1996.
Elvis Presley could not have imagined the historical course of his life. From a humble childhood, Presley would become more than one of our most popular singers, but one of the most famous people on the planet. He grew up with hard-working and God-fearing parents who moved often but did the best they could. Religion was also important to the Presley family, and they were regulars at the Assembly of God Church in Memphis, Tennessee. It didn’t take long for gospel music to influence his style.
Elvis became a star in the 1950s on every available platform: TV, film, stage and radio. His success is incredible. It is estimated that he sold more than 1 billion records worldwide, despite never performing overseas. His hits include “That’s Alright,” “Hound Dog” and “Jailhouse Rock,” among more than 700 other recorded songs. Elvis also appeared in 31 feature films over 13 years, and his TV specials easily broke viewership records.
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Like many of his male fans, Presley was drafted into the US Army. In 1958 he began an 18-month tour of duty in Germany as a driver. But fans don’t have to wait for new music. His manager, Colonel Tom Parker, continued to release Elvis’ singles and his career continued to grow as Elvis served his country. When he was discharged, Elvis held the rank of sergeant.
On August 16, 1977, Elvis died of a heart attack at the famous Graceland mansion in Memphis. More than 40 years later, Elvis’ music continues to sell worldwide and his house attracts 600,000 people each year.
Roberto Clemente wasn’t just a standout outfielder for the Pittsburgh Pirates, he was a pioneer in his field. The Puerto Rican star started playing as a teenager and within 2 years he was getting paid to play. In the 1950s he was drafted by the Pirates and 6 years later he became the first player from Latin America and the Caribbean to start and win a World Series.
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During his career, Clement played in 15 All-Star games, won his position’s Gold Glove a dozen consecutive years, captured his league’s batting title four times and won 2 World Series. Each time he set a new level of excellence and paved the way for young and old athletes who would model his career.
Clement spent his offseason donating baseball equipment, food and other aid to those most in need. On December 31, 1972, as the world celebrated the New Year, Clemente died in a plane crash while helping earthquake victims in Nicaragua. He was only 38 years old. When the news of his death spread, no one could wonder that he was doing good to others when the accident happened.
A year after his death, Clemente was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Once again, Clement paved the way to become the first recipient of the award in Latin America and the Caribbean.
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All these decades later, baseball players compete for one of the most prestigious awards in sports, honoring Clemente. The Roberto Clemente Award is for the Major League Baseball player who exemplifies “the game of baseball, sportsmanship, community involvement and individual contribution to his team.”
Chuck Cooper may not be as famous as other African-American athletes in history, but his immediate impact on the sports world and his legacy today cannot be ignored.
Born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, he grew up with sports on his mind and a basketball in his hands. After dominating his high school basketball team, he played briefly at what was once West Virginia State College in 1944. Soon after, he served overseas during the latter stages of World War II. He returned to the United States, became a starter and All-American at Duquesne University and broke some of its most famous records.
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Despite his success on the field, Mason Dixon would be even more proud of being the first African-American to play in a college game south of the line. But Cooper was hardly done making history. In 1950 (the year of the census!) he became the first black athlete to be drafted by an NBA team when he was selected by the Boston Celtics as the first pick in the second round. Later in the same draft, Nat “Sweetwater” Clifton and Earl Lloyd were also drafted, and both recognized the Celtics’ courage in selecting Cooper.
Celtics great Bob Cousy once said after the draft that someone in the room asked if anyone was aware Cooper was black. Team owner Walter Brown responded that he didn’t care if Cooper was “striped, checked or spotted.” All I know is the kid can play basketball and we want him on the Boston Celtics.”
After Cooper’s storied career, she earned her master’s in social work and served her beloved city of Pittsburgh using her knowledge. He died of liver cancer in 1984, aged 57.
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Debbie Reynolds was born in Texas in 1932, but when she was still a child, her family moved to Burbank, California, and the entertainment industry would never be the same. At the age of 16, she entered and won the Miss Burbank pageant. Betty Hutton’s performance of “My Rockin’ Horse Ran Away” caught the eye of a talent scout and her career was born.
Reynolds was hired by Warner Brothers, but rarely appeared on camera in the early years. Instead, they were often left to run errands and tour. When his deal expired, he jumped ship to MGM and spent the next 2 decades entertaining audiences. He first broke into the world with his performance opposite Gene Kelly in the classic film Singin’ in the Rain. He would later appear in The Tender Trap, The Unsinkable Molly Brown, How the West Was Won and many others. He also worked on Broadway, ran a recording studio and found success on television. He also enjoyed voice-over work, including roles on Family Guy and Kim Possible.
Reynolds was also passionate about discussing mental illness and providing greater resources to those in need. A founding member of Thalians, a non-profit organization dedicated to the cause, he led the group for 50 years, raising millions of dollars and inspiring people across the country.
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Carrie Fisher, Reynolds’ daughter and also a famous actress, died on December 27, 2016. Reynolds’ son, Todd Fisher, said the stress of his sister’s death was overwhelming.
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