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What happened in Palm Springs in 1959

December 06, 2009|By Christopher Reynolds

* In January, Fidel Castro takes over Cuba.

* In February, Texas Instruments seeks a patent for the integrated circuit, a.k.a. the microchip.

* Alaska and Hawaii gain statehood this year. The U.S. and Russia rush their space programs forward. G.D. Searle seeks approval for use of Enovid as a contraceptive -- "the pill." The first Barbie doll is unveiled at a New York toy show. "The Sound of Music" opens on Broadway.

* New film releases "Ben-Hur," "Some Like It Hot" and "North by Northwest" do boffo box office. Fran├žois Truffaut releases "The 400 Blows."

* Bobby Darin is on the pop-music charts with "Mack the Knife" and "Dream Lover," as is Frank Sinatra with "High Hopes." Chubby Checker introduces "The Twist." Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and J.P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson die in a plane crash. Miles Davis records "Kind of Blue." John Coltrane records "Giant Steps." Dave Brubeck records "Take Five."

* Norman Mailer publishes "Advertisements for Myself." D.H. Lawrence's "Lady Chatterley's Lover," written more than 30 years before but blocked over alleged obscenity, debuts in the U.S. and becomes a bestseller.

* In October, the Dodgers, only two seasons removed from Brooklyn, defeat the Chicago White Sox to win the World Series. Meanwhile, on a seven-day vacation in greater Palm Springs, President Dwight Eisenhower plays golf six times at El Dorado Country Club.

* In December, Frank Sinatra tapes a TV special in Palm Springs with guests Ella Fitzgerald, Juliet Prowse and Peter Lawford -- but a surprise rainstorm forces filming indoors.

Sources: Fred Kaplan's book "1959: The Year Everything Changed" and Los Angeles Times research

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