Wednesday, September 1, 2021

WE DIDN'T START. . . 1956



Continuing a look at the events and people in Billy Joel’s We Didn’t Start the Fire.

Each two lines represent a year.

Joseph Stalin, Malenkov, Nasser and Prokofiev
Rockefeller, Campanella, Communist Bloc
Roy Cohn, Juan Peron, Toscanini, dacron
Dien Bien Phu falls, "Rock Around the Clock"
Einstein, James Dean, Brooklyn's got a winning team
Davy Crockett, Peter Pan, Elvis Presley, Disneyland
Bardot, Budapest, Alabama, Krushchev
Princess Grace, "Peyton Place", trouble in the Suez

Bardot, Budapest, Alabama, Krushchev
Princess Grace, "Peyton Place", trouble in the Suez


Princess Grace:

Grace Patricia Kelly (1929 – 1982) was an American film actress who, after starring in several significant films in the early to mid-1950s, became Princess of Monaco by marrying Prince Rainier III.

She gained stardom from her performance in John Ford's adventure-romance Mogambo (1953), for which she was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. She won the Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance in the drama The Country Girl (1954). Other notable works include the western High Noon (1952), the romance-comedy High Society (1956), and three consecutive Alfred Hitchcock suspense thrillers: Dial M for Murder (1954), Rear Window (1954), and To Catch a Thief (1955). Remember the picnic scene with Cary Grant in that movie? She brings out the fried chicken and says to Grant “Do you want a leg or a breast?” Prince Rainier got a lot more than that.

Kelly worked with some of the most prominent leading men of the era, including Gary Cooper, Clark Gable, Ray Milland, James Stewart, Bing Crosby, William Holden, Cary Grant, Alec Guinness, and Frank Sinatra.

Kelly retired from acting at age 26 to marry Rainier, and she began her duties as Princess of Monaco. Hitchcock hoped that she would appear in more of his films which required an "icy blonde" lead actress, but he was unable to coax her out of retirement. The Prince and Princess had three children: Princess Caroline, Prince Albert, and Princess StΓ©phanie.

She died aged 52 at Monaco Hospital on September 14, 1982, from injuries sustained in a car crash the previous day.

Relevance to 1956:

Grace Kelly released her latest film High Society in 1956 and married Prince Rainier in April 1956.

Under a 1918 treaty with France, If Rainier did not produce an heir, Monaco would revert to France. He did, it didn’t.

Princess Grace and Family


Peyton Place:

Peyton Place is the 1956 novel by Grace Metalious that was the Desperate Housewives and Fifty Shades of Grey of its day. It tells of the secret love affairs of the residents of a small town. Though tame today, in 1956 Peyton Place = sin and debauchery.

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 Times best seller list for 59 weeks.

Who recalls Harper Valley PTA, the song by Jeannie C Riley that hit No 1 in 1968? The singer tells of how her mother told the Harper Valley PTA a few home truths after her daughter brought home a note that said she was wearing her dresses too high and going out with men. It includes the lyrics:

And then you have the nerve to tell me
You think that as a mother I'm not fit
Well, this is just a little Peyton Place
And you're all Harper Valley hypocrites"

Relevance to 1856:

The novel was published in that year.


Trouble in the Suez:

Remember when in March this tear the huge container ship Evergreen ran aground and blocked the Suez Canal?

That was nothing compared to what happened in 1956 . . .

That year Egypt seizes the Suez Canal to nationalise it. Israel invades Egypt. England and France support Israel. Egypt sinks 40 ships in the canal.

And oh, my family has to go around Africa in migrating to Australia from Holland.

Warfare between England and Egypt over the Suez

View of the Suez Canal obstructed by ships that had been damaged and sunk by the Egyptian authorities


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