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1959 was the 88th year after the founding of the city of Birmingham.



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Civil Rights Movement






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Mike Anderson
Emanuel Ford
Daniel Wallace





Octavus Roy Cohen





Pilgrim Congregational Church's 1959 "blue roof" building on Montclair Road




In 1959, Alaska and Hawaii were admitted as the 49th & 50th states. The Cuban Revolution ended with Fidel Castro's 26th of July Movement taking power. A chartered plane carrying musicians Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and the Big Bopper and pilot Roger Peterson crashed, killing all aboard. American Airlines Flight 320, departing New York City, crashed into the East River, killing 65 of the 73 people on board. Lee Petty won the first Daytona 500. The Barbie doll debuted. NASA announced its selection of seven military pilots to become the first U.S. astronauts. The Saint Lawrence Seaway opened. Explorer 6 sent the first picture of Earth from orbit. The Antarctic Treaty sets aside Antarctica as a scientific preserve and bans military activity on that continent. Pantyhose debuted on the open market.

Notable books published in 1959 included The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr. and E. B. White, Psycho by Robert Bloch, Cat Among the Pigeons by Agatha Christie, The Manchurian Candidate by Richard Condon, Goldfinger by Ian Fleming, Starship Troopers by Robert A. Heinlein, The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson, A Separate Peace by John Knowles, The Ugly American by William J. Lederer and Eugene L. Burdick, The Sirens of Titan by Kurt Vonnegut, Goodbye, Columbus by Philip Roth which won the National Book Award for Fiction, and Advise and Consent by Allen Drury which won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. New drama that debuted included A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry.

The top music hits of 1959 included "Stagger Lee" by Lloyd Price, "Venus" by Frankie Avalon, "Come Softly to Me" by The Fleetwoods, "The Battle of New Orleans" by Johnny Horton which won Grammy Awards for both Song of the Year and Best Country & Western Performance, "Lonely Boy" by Paul Anka, "The Three Bells" by The Browns, and "Mack the Knife" by Bobby Darin which won Record of the Year. Bobby Darin was also named Best New Artist. Album of the Year went to Frank Sinatra for Come Dance with Me!, who also netted the Grammy for Best Vocal Performance, Male. Ella Fitzgerald won Best Vocal Performance, Female.

Top grossing films in 1959 included Ben-Hur, Sleeping Beauty (re-release), Some Like It Hot, Imitation of Life, and Operation Petticoat. Ben-Hur won Best Picture, Best Director (William Wyler), and Best Actor (Charlton Heston) at the Academy Awards. Best Actress went to Simone Signoret for Room at the Top.

Television shows that debuted in 1959 included Rawhide, The Bell Telephone Hour, Bonanza, The Twilight Zone, Dennis the Menace, Hawaiian Eye, and The Untouchables. Long-running shows that ended included Your Hit Parade, Dragnet, and Mickey Mouse Club.

Notable births in 1959 included actor Clancy Brown; NASCAR driver Mark Martin; tennis player John McEnroe; actor Tom Arnold; rapper Flavor Flav; singer Irene Cara; actor David Hyde Pierce; musician Brian Setzer; actress Emma Thompson; singer Sheena Easton; video game designer Peter Molyneux; singer Morrissey; wrestler Kevin Nash; actor Kevin Spacey; basketball player Magic Johnson; spiritualist David Koresh; actor Jason Alexander; actor Jack Wagner; television personality and producer Simon Cowell; singer Marie Osmond; Sarah, Duchess of York; comedy musician "Weird Al" Yankovic; television host Nancy Grace; singer Bryan Adams; and comedian Tracey Ullman.

Notable deaths included film director Cecil B. DeMille, musicians The Big Bopper, Buddy Holly, & Ritchie Valens, comedian Lou Costello, writer Raymond Chandler, architect Frank Lloyd Wright, actor George Reeves, actress Ethel Barrymore, singer Billie Holiday, writer Preston Sturges, sculptor Jacob Epstein, actor Errol Flynn, boxer Max Baer, and tennis player Molla Mallory.

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