WE DIDN’T START THE FIRE

FROM A TO Z

On September 27, 1989, the iconic song by Billy Joel,  We Didn’t Start the Fire hit the airwaves.  It was a history lesson set to music.  When you first heard the song, did you know or remember all the people places, things and events mentioned in the lyrics?  I sure didn’t.  Back in 1989 before the internet was something everyone had access to, my boyfriend (now husband) and I headed to the local public library and looked up all the historical references.  This month, for the A to Z Challenge, I am writing about that history.

We didn’t start the fire
It was always burning
Since the world’s been turning
We didn’t start the fire
No we didn’t light it
But we tried to fight it
Today is brought to you by the letter P.

1951 – Panmunjom

Panmunjom, the border village in Korea, is the location of truce talks between the parties of the Korean War.

Panmunjom, the border village in Korea, is the location of truce talks between the parties of the Korean War.

Panmunjom was the armistice area bordering North and South Korea where forces from the United Nations met with North Korean and Chinese officials to discuss the possibility of a truce from 1951 to 1953. The debating carried on for several months, the main point of disputation surrounding the prisoners of war and how to handle their return or lack thereof. However, after years of war and months of truce talks, an armistice was signed by the United Nations, China, and North Korea on July 27th, 1953. South Korea, unfortunately, refused to sign the treaty, and so a 4 km demilitarized zone was officially established to divide Korea into two separate countries. Additionally, because South Korea never decided to sign the agreement, they are technically still at war with North Korea. Source: http://1949to1952.blogspot.com/2009/06/panmunjom-1951.html

1953 – Prokofiev

Sergei Prokofiev, the composer, dies on March 5, the same day as Stalin.

Sergei Prokofiev, the composer, dies on March 5, the same day as Stalin.

Sergei Sergeyevich Prokofiev was a Russian and Soviet composer, pianist and conductor. As the creator of acknowledged masterpieces across numerous musical genres, he is regarded as one of the major composers of the 20th century.  He died on March 2, 1953
1955 – Peter Pan
On March 7, 1955, NBC presented Peter Pan live as part of Producers’ Showcase (with nearly all of the show’s original cast) as the first full-length Broadway production on color TV. The show attracted a then-record audience of 65-million viewers, the highest ever up to that time for a single television program. Mary Martin and Cyril Ritchard had already won Tony Awards for their stage performances, and Martin won an Emmy Award for the television production. It was so well received that the musical was restaged live for television (again on Producers’ Showcase) on January 9, 1956. Both of these broadcasts were produced live and in color, but only black-and-white kinescope recordings survive.
Peter Pan is broadcast on TV live and in color from the 1954 version of the stage musical starring Mary Martin on March 7. Disney released an animated version the previous year.

Peter Pan is broadcast on TV live and in color from the 1954 version of the stage musical starring Mary Martin on March 7. Disney released an animated version the previous year.

1956 – Princess Grace

On April 18, 1956, American actress Grace Kelly marries Prince Rainier of Monaco in a spectacular ceremony.  Grace Kelly, the daughter of a former model and a wealthy industrialist, began acting as a child. After high school, she attended the American Academy for Dramatic Arts in New York. While she auditioned for Broadway plays, she supported herself by modeling and appearing in TV commercials. In 1949, Kelly debuted on Broadway in The Father by August Strindberg. Two years later, she landed her first Hollywood bit part, in Fourteen Hours. Her big break came in 1952, when she starred as Gary Cooper’s wife in High Noon. Her performance in The Country Girl, as the long-suffering wife of an alcoholic songwriter played by Bing Crosby, won her an Oscar in 1954. The same year, she played opposite Jimmy Stewart in Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window.  While filming another Hitchcock movie, To Catch a Thief (1955), in the French Riviera, Kelly met Prince Rainier of Monaco. It wasn’t love at first sight for Kelly, but the prince initiated a long correspondence, which led to their marriage in 1956. Afterward, she became Princess Grace of Monaco and retired from acting. She had three children and occasionally narrated documentaries. Kelly died tragically at the age of 52 when her car plunged off a mountain road by the Cote D’Azur in September 1982.

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1956 – Peyton Place

Peyton Place is a 1956 novel by Grace Metalious. The novel describes how three women are forced to come to terms with their identity, both as women and as sexual beings, in a small, conservative, gossipy New England town, with recurring themes of hypocrisy, social inequities and class privilege in a tale that includes incest, abortion, adultery, lust and murder. It sold 60 000 copies within the first ten days of its release and remained on the New York Timesbest seller list for 59 weeks.  The novel spawned a franchise that would run through four decades. Twentieth Century-Fox adapted it as a major motion picture in 1957, and Metalious wrote a follow-up novel that was published in 1959, called Return to Peyton Place, which was also filmed in 1961 using the same title. The original 1956 novel was adapted again in 1964, in what became a wildly successful prime time television series for 20th Century Fox Television that ran until 1969, and the term “Peyton Place” – an allusion to any small town or group that holds scandalous secrets – entered into the American lexicon.  An NBCdaytime soap opera, titled Return to Peyton Place, ran from 1972 to 1974, and the franchise was rounded out with two made-for-television movies, which aired in 1977 and 1985.

Peyton Place, the best-selling novel by Grace Metalious, is published. Though mild compared to today's prime time, it shocked the reserved values of the 1950s.

Peyton Place, the best-selling novel by Grace Metalious, is published. Though mild compared to today’s prime time, it shocked the reserved values of the 1950s.

Copyright Disclaimer Under Section 107 of the Copyright Act 1976, allowance is made for fair use for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Fair use is a use permitted by copyright statute that might otherwise be infringing. Non-profit, educational or personal use tips the balance in favor of fair use.


1957 – Pasternak

Boris Leonidovich Pasternak (10 February [O.S. 29 January] 1890 – 30 May 1960) was a Soviet Russian poet, novelist, and literary translator. In his native Russian, Pasternak’s first book of poems, My Sister, Life (1917), is one of the most influential collections ever published in the Russian language. Pasternak’s translations of stage plays by Goethe, Schiller, Calderón and Shakespeare remain very popular with Russian audiences.  Outside Russia, Pasternak is best known as the author of Doctor Zhivago (1957), a novel which takes place between the Russian Revolution of 1905 and the First World War. Doctor Zhivago was rejected for publication in the USSR. At the instigation of Giangiacomo Feltrinelli, Doctor Zhivago was smuggled to Milan and published in 1957 and distributed with the help of the CIA in the rest of Europe. Pasternak was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1958, an event which both humiliated and enraged the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, which forced him to decline the prize, though his descendants were later to accept it in his name in 1988.

Boris Pasternak, the Russian author, publishes his famous novel Doctor Zhivago.

Boris Pasternak, the Russian author, publishes his famous novel Doctor Zhivago.

1960 – Payola 

Payola, in the music industry, is the illegal practice of payment or other inducement by record companies for the broadcast of recordings on commercial radio in which the song is presented as being part of the normal day’s broadcast. Under U.S. law, a radio station can play a specific song in exchange for money, but this must be disclosed on the air as being sponsored airtime, and that play of the song should not be counted as a “regular airplay.”

He’s been called America’s Oldest Living Teenager, but behind his famously boyish demeanor, Clark was a razor-sharp businessman—sharp enough to be accused of questionable practices during the early years of rock and roll, yet smart enough to set those practices aside when public scrutiny demanded it. On April 2, 1960, Dick Clark concluded his second day of testimony in the so-called Payola hearings—testimony that both saved and altered the course of his career. If Alan Freed, the disk jockey who gave rock and roll its name, was Payola’s biggest casualty, then Dick Clark was its most famous survivor.

Payola, illegal payments for radio broadcasting of songs, was publicized due to Dick Clark’s testimony before Congress and Alan Freed’s public disgrace.

 

1960 –Psycho

Psycho is a 1960 American psychological horror film directed and produced by Alfred Hitchcock, and written by Joseph Stefano, starring Anthony Perkins, Janet Leigh, John Gavin, Vera Miles and Martin Balsam, and was based on the 1959 novel of the same name by Robert Bloch. The film centers on the encounter between a secretary, Marion Crane (Leigh), who ends up at a secluded motel after stealing money from her employer, and the motel’s disturbed owner-manager, Norman Bates (Perkins), and its aftermath.

Psycho: An Alfred Hitchcock thriller, based on a pulp novel by Robert Bloch and adapted by Joseph Stefano, which becomes a landmark in graphic violence and cinema sensationalism. The screeching violins heard briefly in the background of the song are a trademark of the film's soundtrack.

Psycho: An Alfred Hitchcock thriller, based on a pulp novel by Robert Bloch and adapted by Joseph Stefano, which becomes a landmark in graphic violence and cinema sensationalism. The screeching violins heard briefly in the background of the song are a trademark of the film’s soundtrack.

1963 – Pope Paul

Pope Paul VI, born Giovanni Battista Enrico Antonio Maria Montini (26 September 1897 – 6 August 1978), reigned as Pope from 21 June 1963 to his death in 1978. Succeeding Pope John XXIII, he continued the Second Vatican Council which he closed in 1965, implementing its numerous reforms, and fostered improved ecumenical relations with Eastern Orthodox and Protestants, which resulted in many historic meetings and agreements. Montini served in the Vatican’s Secretariat of State from 1922 to 1954. While in the Secretariat of State, Montini and Domenico Tardini were considered as the closest and most influential colleagues of Pope Pius XII, who in 1954 named him Archbishop of Milan, the largest Italian diocese. Montini later became the Secretary of the Italian Bishops Conference. John XXIII elevated him to the College of Cardinals in 1958, and after the death of John XXIII, Montini was considered one of his most likely successors.

Pope Paul VI: Cardinal Giovanni Montini is elected to the papacy and takes the papal name of Paul VI.

Pope Paul VI: Cardinal Giovanni Montini is elected to the papacy and takes the papal name of Paul VI.

1974/1975 – Punk Rock

Punk rock (or simply “punk”) is a rock music genre that developed in the early to mid-1970s in the United States, United Kingdom, and Australia. Rooted in 1960s garage rock and other forms of what is now known as “proto-punk” music, punk rock bands rejected perceived excesses of mainstream 1970s rock.

 Punk rock: The Ramones form, with the Sex Pistols following in 1975, bringing in the punk era.

Punk rock: The Ramones form, with the Sex Pistols following in 1975, bringing in the punk era.

1976/1977 – Palestine

The ongoing Israeli–Palestinian conflict escalates as Israelis establish settlements in the West Bank, previously held by Jordan for non-Jewish Palestinians after the 1948 war, beginning shortly after Begin’s election.

Palestine: a United Nations resolution that calls for an independent Palestinian state and to end the Israeli occupation.

Palestine: a United Nations resolution that calls for an independent Palestinian state and to end the Israeli occupation.

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2 responses »

  1. Denise says:

    I grew up in a rather seedy neighborhood. I used to regale my co-workers with stories of that time. They always said I should write a book and I would tell them that Peyton Place had already been written. I was fortunate enough to have seen the telecast of Peter Pan, but in black and white.

    Like

  2. Morgan says:

    I’ve never read the actual Peyton’s Place, but I have read a few of the books written off of the same concept with kinda the same name.

    Liked by 1 person

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