News Events for 1955
January 2 – José Antonio Remón Cantera, president of Panama, is assassinated at a race track in Panama City.
January 3 – José Ramón Guizado becomes president of Panama.
January 7 – Marian Anderson is the first African-American singer to perform at the Metropolitan Opera, in New York City.
January 17 – USS Nautilus, the first nuclear-powered submarine, puts to sea for the first time, from Groton, Connecticut.
January 18–January 20 – Battle of Yijiangshan Islands: The Chinese Communist People’s Liberation Army seizes the islands, from the Republic of China (Taiwan).
January 22 – In the United States, The Pentagon announces a plan to develop intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), armed with nuclear weapons.
January 23 – The Sutton Coldfield rail crash kills 17, near Birmingham, England.
January 25 – The Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union announces the end of the war between the USSR and Germany, which began during World War II in 1941.
January 28 – The United States Congress authorizes President Dwight D. Eisenhower to use force, to protect Formosa from the People’s Republic of China.
February 9 – Apartheid in South Africa: 60,000 non-white residents of the Sophiatown suburb of Johannesburg are forcibly evicted.
February 10 – The United States Seventh Fleet helps the Republic of China evacuate the Chinese Nationalist army and residents, from the Tachen Islands to Taiwan.
February 12 – U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower sends the first U.S. advisors to South Vietnam.
February 14 – WFLA-TV signs on the air in Tampa/St. Petersburg, Florida.
February 16 – Nearly 100 die in a fire, at a home for the elderly in Yokohama, Japan.
February 19 – The Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO) is established, at a meeting in Bangkok.
February 22 – In Chicago’s Democratic primary, Mayor Martin H. Kennelly loses to the head of the Cook County Democratic Party, Richard J. Daley, 364,839 to 264,077.
February 24 – The Baghdad Pact (CENTO), originally known as Middle East Treaty Organization (METO), is signed between Iraq and Turkey.
March – A young Jim Henson builds the first version of Kermit the Frog.
Claudette Colvin, a 15-year-old African-American girl, refuses to give up her seat on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama, to a white woman after the driver demands it. She is carried off the bus backwards, while being kicked, handcuffed and harassed on the way to the police station. She becomes a plaintiff in Browder v. Gayle (1956), which rules bus segregation to be unconstitutional.
Serious floods occur in Australia.
WBBJ-TV signs on the air in Jackson, Tennessee, with WDXI as its initial call-letters, to expand American commercial television in mostly rural areas.
Elvis Presley makes his television debut on “Louisiana Hayride”, carried by KSLA-TV Shreveport.
March 7 – The Broadway musical version of Peter Pan, which had opened in 1954 starring Mary Martin, is presented on television for the first time by NBC-TV, with its original cast, as an installment of Producers’ Showcase. It is also the first time that a stage musical is presented in its entirety on TV, almost exactly as it was performed on stage. This program gains the largest viewership of a TV special up to this time, and it becomes one of the first great TV family musical classics.
March 17 – Richard Riot in Montreal: 6,000 people protest the suspension of French Canadian ice hockey star Maurice Richard of the Montreal Canadiens by the National Hockey League, following a violent incident during a match.
March 19 – KXTV signs on the air in Sacramento, California.
March 20 – The movie adaptation of Evan Hunter’s novel Blackboard Jungle premieres in the United States, featuring the famous single “Rock Around the Clock” by Bill Haley & His Comets. Teenagers jump from their seats to dance to the song.
April 1 – EOKA A starts a terrorist campaign against British rule, in the Crown colony of Cyprus.
Winston Churchill resigns as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, due to ill-health, at the age of 80.
Richard J. Daley defeats Robert Merrian to become Mayor of Chicago, by a vote of 708,222 to 581,555.
April 6 – Anthony Eden becomes Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.
April 10 – In the NBA, the Syracuse Nationals defeat the Fort Wayne Pistons 92-91 in Game 7, to win the title.
The Taiwanese Kuomintang put a time-bomb on the airplane Kashmir Princess, killing 16 but failing to assassinate the People’s Republic of China leader, Zhou Enlai.
Taekwondo, a famous form of Korean martial arts, is officially recognized[clarification needed] in South Korea.
April 12 – The Salk polio vaccine, having passed large-scale trials earlier in the United States, receives full approval by the Food and Drug Administration.
April 14 – The Detroit Red Wings win the Stanley Cup for the 7th time in franchise history, but will not win again until 1997.
April 15 – Ray Kroc opens his first McDonald’s, in Des Plaines, Illinois.
April 16 – The Burma-Japan Peace Treaty, signed in Rangoon on November 5, 1954, comes into effect, formally ending a state of war between the two countries that has not existed for a long time.
April 17 – Imre Nagy, the communist Premier of Hungary, is ousted for being too moderate.
April 18–April 24 – The Asian-African Conference is held in Bandung, Indonesia.
May 5 – West Germany becomes a sovereign country, recognized by important Western countries, such as France, the United Kingdom, Canada, and the United States.
May 6 – The Western European Union Charter becomes effective.
May 7 – Newcastle United F.C. in England win the Football League First Division title for the fourth time. They have yet to win it since.
West Germany joins the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
Jim Henson introduces the earliest version of Kermit the Frog, in the premiere of his puppet show Sam and Friends, on WRC-TV in Washington, D.C.
May 11 – Japanese National Railways’ ferry Shiun Maru sinks after collision with sister ship Uko Maru, in thick fog off Takamatsu, Shikoku, in the Seto Inland Sea of Japan; 166 passengers (many children) and 2 crew members are killed. This event is influential in plans to construct the Akashi Kaikyō Bridge (built 1986-98).
May 12 – New York’s Third Avenue Elevated runs its last train between Chathem Square in Manhattan and East 149th Street in the Bronx, thus ending elevated train service in Manhattan.
May 14 – Warrington win the British Rugby League Championship title for the third time. As of 2018 they are yet to win it since.
May 14 – Eight Communist Bloc countries, including the Soviet Union, sign a mutual defence treaty in Warsaw, Poland, that is called the Warsaw Pact (it will be dissolved in 1991).
May 15 – The Austrian State Treaty, which restores Austria’s national sovereignty, is concluded between the 4 occupying powers following World War II (the United Kingdom, the United States, the Soviet Union, and France) and Austria, setting it up as a neutral country.
May 25 – Joe Brown and George Band are the first to attain the summit of Kangchenjunga in the Himalayas, as part of a British team led by Charles Evans.
June 7 – The television quiz program The $64,000 Question premieres on CBS-TV in the United States, with Hal March as the host.
June 11 – Le Mans disaster: Eighty-three people are killed and at least 100 are injured, after two race cars collide in the 1955 24 Hours of Le Mans.
June 13 – Mir Mine, the first diamond mine in the Soviet Union, is discovered.
June 16 – Lady and the Tramp, the Walt Disney company’s 15th animated film, premieres in Chicago.
June 26 – The Freedom Charter of the anti-apartheid South African Congress Alliance is adopted, at a Congress of the People in Kliptown.
July 7 – The New Zealand Special Air Service is formed.
July 13 – Ruth Ellis is hanged for murder in London, becoming the last woman ever to be executed in the United Kingdom.
The American Broadcasting Company broadcasts a sneak preview of Disneyland in Anaheim, California.
Disneyland opens to the public in Anaheim, California.
The first nuclear-generated electrical power is sold commercially, partially powering the town of Arco, Idaho.
Illinois Governor William Stratton signs the Loyalty Oath Act, passed by the state legislature, which mandates all public employees take a loyalty oath to Illinois and the United States, or lose their jobs.
The first Geneva Summit meeting between the United States, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, and France begins. It ends on July 23.
July 22 – In Long Beach, California, U.S.A., Hillevi Rombin of Sweden is crowned Miss Universe.
July 27 – El Al Flight 402 from Vienna, Austria to Tel Aviv via Istanbul, is shot down over Bulgaria. All 58 passengers and crewmen aboard the Lockheed Constellation are killed.
July 28 – The first Interlingua Congress is held in Tours, France, leading to the foundation of the Union Mundial pro Interlingua.
August 1 – The Lockheed U-2 makes its first flight.
The First Sudanese Civil War begins.
The first meeting of the Organization of Central American States (Organización de Estados Centroamericanos, ODECA) is held, in Antigua Guatemala.
August 19 – Hurricane Diane hits the northeastern United States, killing over 200 people, and causing over $1 billion in damage.
August 20 – Hundreds of people are killed in anti-French rioting, in Morocco and Algeria.
August 22 – Eleven schoolchildren are killed, when their school bus is hit by a freight train in Spring City, Tennessee.
August 25 – The last Soviet Army forces leave Austria.
August 26 – Satyajit Ray’s film Pather Panchali is released in India.
August 27 – The first edition of the Guinness Book of Records is published, in London.
August 28 – Emmett Till is beaten, tortured, and shot in the head by Roy Bryant and J.W. Milam, for allegedly grabbing and threatening a white woman.
September 2 – Under the guidance of Dr. Humphry Osmond, Christopher Mayhew ingests 400 mg of mescaline hydrochloride and allows himself to be filmed as part of a Panorama special for BBC TV in the U.K. that is never broadcast.
September 6 – Istanbul pogrom: Istanbul’s Greek minority is the target of a government-sponsored pogrom.
September 10 – The long-running program Gunsmoke debuts, on the CBS-TV network.
September 14 – Pope Pius XII elevates many of the Apostolic vicariates in Africa to Metropolitan Archdioceses.
September 15 – Vladimir Nabokov’s controversial novel Lolita is published in Paris, by Olympia Press.
The military coup to unseat President Juan Perón of Argentina is launched at midnight.
A Soviet Navy Zulu-class submarine becomes the first to launch a ballistic missile.
September 18 – The United Kingdom formally annexes the uninhabited island of Rockall.
September 19–21 – President of Argentina Juan Perón is ousted in a military coup.
September 19 – Hurricane Hilda kills about 200 people in Mexico.
September 22 – Independent Commercial Television (ITV) begins broadcasting in the United Kingdom.
September 24 – Dwight D. Eisenhower, President of the United States, suffers a coronary thrombosis while on vacation in Denver, Colorado. Vice President Nixon serves as Acting President while Eisenhower recovers.
September 30 – Actor James Dean is killed, when his automobile collides with another car at a highway junction, near Cholame, California.
October 2 – Alfred Hitchcock Presents debuts on the CBS TV network in the United States.
October 3 – The Mickey Mouse Club debuts on the ABC-TV network in the United States.
October 4 – The Reverend Sun Myung Moon is released from prison in Seoul, South Korea.
October 5 – Disneyland Hotel opens to the public, in Anaheim, California.
October 11 – 70-mm film for projection is introduced, with the theatrical release of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s musical film, Oklahoma!.
October 14 – The Organization of Central American States secretariat is inaugurated.
October 20 – Disc jockey Bill Randle of WERE (Cleveland) is the key presenter of a concert at Brooklyn High School (Ohio), featuring Pat Boone and Bill Haley & His Comets, and opening with Elvis Presley (Elvis’s first filmed performance), for a documentary on Randle titled The Pied Piper of Cleveland.
After the last Allied troops have left Austria, and following the provisions of the Austrian Independence Treaty, the country declares its permanent neutrality.
Ngô Đình Diệm proclaims Vietnam to be a republic, with himself as its President (following the State of Vietnam referendum on October 23), and forms the Army of the Republic of Vietnam.
October 27 – The film Rebel Without a Cause, starring James Dean, is released in the United States.
October 29 – Soviet battleship Novorossiysk explodes at moorings in Sevastopol Bay, killing 608 (the Soviet Union’s worst naval disaster to date).
The Vietnam War begins between the Democratic Republic of Vietnam and Republic of Vietnam; the north is allied with the Viet Cong.
A time bomb explodes in the cargo hold of United Airlines Flight 629, a Douglas DC-6B, over Longmont, Colorado, killing all 39 passengers and 5 crew members on board.
November 3 – The Rimutaka Tunnel opens on the New Zealand Railways, at 5.46 mi (8.79 km), the longest in the Southern Hemisphere at this time.
November 5 – Racial segregation is outlawed on trains and buses in interstate commerce in the United States.
November 19 – C. Northcote Parkinson first propounds ‘Parkinson’s law’, in The Economist.
November 20 – Bo Diddley makes his television debut on Ed Sullivan’s Toast Of The Town show for the CBS-TV Network.
November 23 – The Cocos Islands in the Indian Ocean are transferred from British to Australian control.
November 26 – The British Governor of Cyprus declares a state of emergency on the island.
November 27 – The Westboro Baptist Church holds its first church service.
December 1 – In Montgomery, Alabama, Rosa Parks refuses to obey bus driver James F. Blake’s order that she give up her seat to make room for a white passenger, and is arrested, leading to the Montgomery Bus Boycott.
December 4 – The International Federation of Blood Donor Organizations is founded in Luxembourg.
The American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations merge, to become the AFL–CIO.
The Montgomery Improvement Association is formed in Montgomery, Alabama, by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and other Black ministers to coordinate a Black people’s boycott of all city buses.
December 9 – Adnan Menderes of DP forms the new government of Turkey (22nd government).
December 10 – 1955 Australian federal election: Robert Menzies’ Liberal/Country Coalition Government is re-elected with a substantially increased majority, defeating the Labor Party led by H.V. Evatt. This election comes in the immediate aftermath of the devastating split in the Labor Party, which leads to the formation of the Democratic Labor Party. The DLP will preference against Labor, and keep the Coalition in office until 1972.
The Tappan Zee Bridge over the Hudson River, in New York State, opens to traffic.
Albania, Austria, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Finland, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Jordan, Laos, Libya, Nepal, Portugal, Romania, Spain, and Sri Lanka join the United Nations simultaneously, after several years of moratorium on admitting new members that began during the Korean War.
December 20 – Cardiff is declared by the British Government as the capital of Wales.
December 22 – American cytogeneticist Joe Hin Tjio discovers the correct number of human chromosomes (46), forty-six.
General Motors becomes the first American corporation to make a profit of over 1 billion dollars, in 1 year.
Austria becomes independent, after Post-WW2 allied occupation.
The Strömsund Bridge in Sweden is completed, being the first significant cable-stayed bridge of the modern era.
World population: 2,755,823,000
South America: 190,797,000
North America: 186,884,000