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Useful Notes / The '60s

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Some possibly useful notes on The '60s, for those who remember them and others who don't.

Daily Life:


  • Due to the American Supreme Court case Engel v. Vitale, it becomes unconstitutional for States to compose and encourage official school prayers. Another Supreme Court case, Abington School District v. Schempp, makes it unconstitutional for public schools to sponsor Bible reading.


  • Anime was introduced to Americans during this decade and it created its niche as Cult Classics in American entertainment as shows like Astro Boy, 8th Man, Kimba the White Lion, Gigantor and Speed Racer paved the way for more sophisticated shows. At the time, anime was referred to (when any distinction was made between it and Western Animation at all) as "Japanimation", which remained the dominant media term for it until The '90s.
  • The Dark Age of Animation was in full swing. Not everything was terrible, but cartoons were generally cheaply produced, and became more sitcom-like. The Animation Age Ghetto started due to cartoons being marketed exclusively toward children.
  • Stanley H Durwood opened the first mall multiplex (2 screen side by side) in 1963 at a mall in Kansas City. He then formed the first four-plex theater in 1966 and the six plex theater in 1969.
  • The James Bond film series debuted in this decade with Dr. No in 1962 and would release 5 more official films before the decade was over (along with the “spoof” film Casino Royale (1967) though it isn’t consisted part of the main series). The series was so successful that it has continuously released films to this day. The initial success of the series also saw many other spy films and television programs being produced throughout the 60s.
  • The Hollywood Walk of Fame was formed during this decade. 1550 stars were installed in the initial unit in 1960. Stanley Kramer was the first to have a star completed though Joanne Woodward may have been the first one to actually pose with her star for photographs (causing her to often be credit as the first recipient instead).
  • Prior to the 60s, people were not expected to arrive before a film start and instead go in whenever they wanted. This changed after the release of Psycho in 1960. Alfred Hitchcock insisted that only people who arrived before the film began could be allowed in the theater as a measure to prevent spoilers. While theater owners were at first skeptical of the idea for fear it would cost them business, the practice gradually became more common.
  • In 1967, The Hays Code was officially abolished after years of being challenged and already having to make compromises with studios. The MPAA replaced it with a rating system in 1968 which allowed some films with questionable content could still easily get into theaters. The ratings at the time were:
    • G (general audiences or suitable for all ages)
    • M (suggested for mature audiences)
    • R (restricted audiences – no one under 16 admitted without an adult)
    • X (16 or over only)
  • Due to the financial issues many Hollywood studios suffered by the time the 60s came around, there were several takeovers of them by multi national companies:
    • MCA (Music Corporation of America) acquired Universal in 1962
    • Gulf + Western industries bought Paramount in 1966
    • Bank of America absorbed United Artists in 1967
    • Jack Warner of Warner Bros. sold his interest in the company to Seven Arts and the company was renamed Warner Brothers-Seven Arts. Due to debt problems, it was sold in 1969 to Kinney National Services.
    • Las Vegas hotel financier and airline mogul Kirk Kerkorian gained control of MGM in 1969, after a controlling interest had briefly been acquired by the Bronfman family (who also owned the Seagram distillery).
  • Profits for the major Hollywood studios soured due to competition from foreign films, independent films and television. Even the big budget Epic and Musical films they produced largely became BoxOfficeBombs around the middle of the decade. Thus, late in the decade, Hollywood hired younger directors to tackle films that they didn’t usually produce with less studio interference in the past. The success of some of these films like Bonnie and Clyde, The Graduate and Easy Rider helped established the New Hollywood era which would flourish in the 70s. These films saw more antihero type protagonists with emphasis on realism, unconventional narrative styles and would feature subject matter that was taboo at the time.
  • The Golden Age of Animation declined during this decade as theaters began focusing more exclusively on feature length films and thus stopped booking cartoon shorts. This caused many major studios to close down their animation units. The focus for animation instead continued to migrate to television. Long running animated theatrical short series like Tom and Jerry, Noveltoons and Looney Tunes ended their runs in this decade though some got their shorts repackaged on television which would later gain these series new audiences. This ultimately led to the beginning of the The Dark Age of Animation which would last until the 80s.
  • 1968 was the year that saw the grouping of Looney Tunes shorts (most of which were under the ‘’Merrie Melodies’’ label) called the Censored Eleven. These cartoons, made between 1931 to 1944, were pulled from syndication by United Artists due to those shorts racist themes. While many cartoons before the 60s had contained some racist jokes, those could usually be edited out for television viewing. The racist themes in these shorts however were so prevalent that no amount of editing would make these cartoons acceptable to modern audiences. These cartoons have never been broadcasted on TV ever since and have only been aired in theaters once (in 2010).
  • With a majority of americans having a television by the start of the decade, politicians began using it to make appearances as part of the election campaign. 1960 saw the first televised presidential debate which was between John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon. Kennedy also made a guest appearance that same cycle on The Jack Parr Tonight Show. Kennedy's confidence with being on camera compared to Nixon (who was seen sweating during the debate, though his performance was better received by those listening by radio) was seen as one of the reasons for Kennedy's eventual win. When Nixon ran for president again in 1968 though, he was more comfortable with the medium, even making a guest appearance on Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In (Nixon would claim this won him the election). Following these appearances, television would remain an important aspect of presidential campaigns.
  • The creation of the Rerun in the '50s was a double-edged sword for series television; by this time it was clear that even high-rated TV shows could not expect the same decades-long lifespans many radio shows had enjoyed in the '30s and '40s, but reruns meant that episodic formats were considered ideal for second-run and syndication. Sitcoms and dramatic series alike avoided serialization like the plague; only soap operas would employ continuing storylines. The Grand Finale, a concept unknown in the '50s, emerged gradually: the first show with a specifically-produced "final episode" was Leave It to Beaver in 1963, which ended with a retrospective flashback episode. But the first Grand Finale as we understand the term today (meeting the Series Goal and wrapping up continuing storylines) was produced for The Fugitive in 1967. The network was dubious, and the show's producers had to pay out of pocket to make the finale themselves, though it would become the highest-rated episode in television history when it aired. However, grand finales generally remained uncommon until well into The '70s.
  • All three American networks (ABC, NBC, and CBS) would switch to all-color primetime lineups for the 1966-67 broadcast season. RCA, which owned NBC, was particularly aggressive in promoting its color lineup, since RCA was the biggest manufacturer of color television sets. "IN COLOR" dominated the late '60s just as much as "NOW IN HD" would some four decades later. One of the reasons Star Trek, which aired on NBC, ran as long as it did despite poor overall ratings was because the show was considered a Killer App for color TV (which is also why the sets and costumes and makeup are all so garishly colored).
  • Programming in the '60s took a turn for the Denser and Wackier. Sitcoms tended toward fantasy (Bewitched, I Dream of Jeannie), science fiction (My Favorite Martian), the macabre (The Addams Family, The Munsters), or the absurd (Gilligan's Island, Hogan's Heroes, My Mother the Car). Dramatic series moved far away from the low-budget live-to-air kitchen-sink anthology series of the '50s to speculative fiction (The Twilight Zone (1959), The Outer Limits (1963), Star Trek: The Original Series, Lost in Space), or high-concept action (Mission: Impossible, I Spy, The Man from U.N.C.L.E.). Allegory was an important element of 1960s television, as was Camp, from intentional (Batman (1966)) to unintentional (Dragnet); earnest polemics wouldn't come into fashion until the '70s.
  • The British Invasion reached television as well as film and music, with imports such as The Avengers (1960s), The Saint, and Danger Man all becoming popular on American shores. Foreign-made television programming wouldn't penetrate the American mainstream to such a large extent ever again, largely being relegated to PBS (established in 1971) and local UHF stations from the '70s onward.
  • In 1962, Johnny Carson took over as host of The Tonight Show. Well the show had been airing since 1954 with other hosts, the Carson era was when it reached its peak of popularity and lasted just under 30 years. His popularity was often so great that the programs competing in its time slot typically struggled and it largelly wasn't until his retirement that the tonight show would face serious competition in ratings.


  • Most fads that you imagine about the Swinging Sixties, like the miniskirt, tie-dyed shirts, long and bouffant hairdos, mod suits, and bell bottom pants, did not emerge until the middle of the decade. Much of the fashion of the late 1950s was still in style back in the early 1960s (at least before 1963). Only after Kennedy died, that a new, more liberal silhouette that reminisced The Roaring '20s, stepped into the catwalk.


  • The harm smoking does to one's health was finally officially proved once and for all on January 11, 1964 with the release of Smoking and Health: Report of the Advisory Committee to the Surgeon General of the United States. Although the tobacco companies tried to cloud the issue for decades since with increasingly desperate PR, the shift toward the North American population turning against smoking began.
  • The closest the Cold War ever got to going hot was the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, when the Soviet Union stockpiled nuclear missiles in Communist Cuba (at Fidel Castro's invitation) to deter the US after the (failed) Bay of Pigs invasion the previous year. On October 27, 1962, the command crew of the Soviet submarine B-59 erroneously believed themselves to be under attack by a US destroyer and almost launched a nuclear torpedo; the command crew took a vote which was 2-1 in favor of the launch, but it had to be unanimous for it to go ahead. After several days of brinksmanship, the US and Soviet leadership eventually hammered out an arrangement which would see the Soviets withdraw their arsenal from Cuba in exchange for the US (secretly) withdrawing their own arsenal from Turkey, a NATO member state bordering the Soviet Union. US President John F. Kennedy's successful handling of the crisis was one of the high points of his (short-lived) Presidency.
  • Speaking of which, the assassination of John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963 in Dallas, Texas shook the Western world and the American people, becoming one of the defining events for the young generation of Baby Boomers and leading to about a million conspiracy theories.

Food and Drink:

  • Home cooking in the United States began to move away from the much-mocked casseroles and aspic salads of the '50s with the 1961 release of Mastering the Art of French Cooking, a book intended for an audience of American home cooks. The book's principal author, Julia Child, would demonstrate recipes from the book on talk shows, and this went over so well that it led to one of the first cooking shows, The French Chef, which began airing on NET stations in 1963. As a direct result of Child's influence, the ingredients she recommended on the show began to fly off store shelves, and American gastronomy came into its own (also with the help of Child's friend and colleague James Beard).
  • The lemon and lime soft drink Sprite made its American debut in 1961 by the Coca Cola Company. The beverage was initially created in West Germany in 1959 as Fanta Klare Zitrone (“Clear Lemon Fanta”).
  • The Taco Bell chain opened its first location in 1962. By 1967, 100 Taco Bells were operating in the United States and it continued to grow so that there were 325 locations by 1970.
  • The Easy-Bake Oven was first introduced in 1963. It has since gone through a number of design changes, making the original ovens a bit different from more modern ones (the original resembled a conventional oven while more modern styles resemble a microwave oven).
  • Kellogg's introduced Pop-Tarts in 1964 in response to their competitor, Post, mentioned that they were developing Toaster pastries long before the product made it to market. It was an instant hit with there being much more demand than what Kellogg's could manufacture. The original flavors were strawberry, blueberry, brown sugar cinnamon, and apple currant. The original Pop-Tarts were not frosted. Those were introduced in 1967.
  • Diet Pepsi launched in 1964 and became the first diet cola to be distributed on a national scale within the United States.
  • While Cheese fondue had already had been popular enough in its native Switzerland to be promoted as a national dish since the 1930s, it was this decade where it gained popularity in North America. It was even promoted in America at the Swiss Pavilion at the 1964 New York World Fair.
  • As a promotion for Toblerone chocolate, Swiss restaurateur Konrad Egli invented chocolate fondue in the mid-60s.
  • In 1967, Pringles, a stackable brand of potato chips, were introduced by Procter & Gamble in response to complaints consumers had of bagged chips which were sometimes greasy, broken or stale. Pringles would go on to one of the most popular snack brands in the world.


  • In the very early part of the 1960s, rock music was in a lackluster state with many of the popular rock musicians either lost popularity or , for individual reasons, became inactive. That is, until North America was introduced to British band The Beatles in the year 1964 — the band that revolutionized rock music.
    • They were formed in Liverpool, England in 1960, and went on to transform not only rock, but popular music as well. They were a creative, highly commercial art form over the next decade, disbanding in 1970 while releasing many beloved and acclaimed albums along the way, constantly reinventing themselves while selling an assload of records.
  • Then there was also The Rolling Stones, who came to represent the grittier side of sixties rock that would later serve as a major influence on Hard Rock acts.
  • Along with The Beach Boys, who performed surf rock early in the decade and were one of the best selling groups during the decade. Around the time the British Invasion began, they began ditching surf rock, which began losing popularity, and started releasing more experimental records. Brian Wilson, who was particularly influenced by the work of Phil Spector, began working full time in the studio and showed how the recording studio could be an instrument in itself.
  • Of course, there was Elvis Presley, an American rock musician and actor that started out in the 50's and ended his career with his demise in August 1977. An icon of music, he is commonly referred to as "The King" and he became one of the most successful and influential musicians in the 20th century.
  • Bob Dylan, a young man who came from Minnesota, arrived to New York and manage to turn both the worlds of Folk music and Rock music upside down, arguably paving the way to its fusion, Folk-Rock. Expect "Like a Rolling Stone" or, more famously, "Blowin' In The Wind" to appear in documentaries about 60's culture. He was also pals with the Beatles at one point.
  • "Louie Louie" by The Kingsmen also came out in the year 1963, and started the genre of Garage Rock. That song was suspected of having dirty lyrics, when there were none intentionally note  spoken.
  • Motown and its affiliated record labels, founded by Berry Gordy in 1959, introduced soul music to a mainstream audience. Many black artists often had difficulty reaching success with white audiences (many of big hits being covered by white musicians whose versions tended to chart higher). Motown, through its factory like process that aimed at producing songs with crossover appeal, was successful in making several black artists into stars which in this decade included The Supremes, Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder. Between 1961 to 1971, the label released 110 top-10 charting records.
  • Garage Rock led to the creation of Psychedelic Rock, which is often associated with the hippie counter-cultural movement.
  • "Born to be Wild" by Steppenwolf was probably about the first Hard Rock song to be a hit.
  • In the late 1960s, out of the ashes of The Yardbirds, Led Zeppelin would be formed. The band's first North American hit, "Whole Lotta Love", would become a hit in late 1969.
  • While never selling a lot of records, Velvet Underground was one of the most influential rock bands of all time and a major influence on Punk Rock and Alternative Rock in the coming decades.
  • Although Pink Floyd would only become really popular in the next decade, they were an integral part of the psychedelic scene in London.
  • In Latin music, the beginning of the decade was dominated by Bolero (a kind of ballad style born in Cuba and refined in Mexico and the Caribbean) and the Tropical Orchestra (think Big Band, only with less jazz and more latin sounding rhythms like calypso and mambo thrown to the repertory), which had been strong in the former decade. Many of those orchestras and their singers' musical style slowly evolved into what would eventually be baptized as Salsa near the end of the decade.
    • There were some pioneers who tried to adapt rock music into Spanish, after having being introduced to it via foreign movies. At the beginning all those bands did were covers of the original anglo records, but eventually some artists began to do original songs, and eventually new genres (like the Nueva Ola from Spain, a predecessor of the pop-rock on furter years). The rock scene will remain pretty regional for the next two decades.
    • For a while, Andean note  music was really popular in South America. Panflute-based instrumentals were very liked. Many of these artist paved the way into several folk and folk-fusion genres, specially in Chile and Argentina.

Social Concerns:

  • The birth control pill, better known as simply "the Pill", was approved by the FDA in 1960, though it was not legally available for married women in the United States until 1965. (Not) coincidentally, the Baby Boom also ended in the mid-1960s, with birthrates plummeting (they have never recovered to pre-1965 levels). Reliable birth control helped to enable the sexual revolution and the concept of "free love", with young people enjoying sexually indiscriminate lifestyles, especially in the hippie and other counter-cultural movements. Legal abortion would soon follow in the United States, though not until the early '70s.
  • The political climate of the era was very confusing, to say the least. A lot of the same people who opposed Barry Goldwater (a Republican) in 1964 for his backwards racial policies latter on supported Richard Nixon (also a Republican) in 1968 for his promises to end the increasingly unpopular The Vietnam War. Of course, people back then had no idea that Nixon would later on turn out to be the infamous crook whose reputation continues to plague him to this day.
  • The Civil Rights Movement saw many activists continue to fight racial discrimination. Various organizations involved challenge many of the jim crow laws that were in place and get affirmation of numerous civil rights for racial minorities. Many of these activists had to endure violent opposition in their pursuit of gaining these rights. The movement was successful in getting the white house to sign The Civil Rights Acts of 1964 and 1968 along with the Voting Rights Act of 1965.


  • Spacewar, one of the first modern video games, was invented at MIT in 1961.
  • The UNIX operating system was created at Bell Labs in 1969, though its impact on The Internet would only be felt in later decades.
  • The Arpanet, the precusor to what became the Internet, started operation in 1969.

Alternative Title(s): The60s