A Year In History: 1956

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This Year in History:


Discover what happened in this year with HISTORY’s summaries of major events, anniversaries, famous births and notable deaths.

January 30

Martin Luther King Jr.’s home is bombed

On January 30, 1956, an unidentified suspected white supremacist terrorist bombed the Montgomery home of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. No one was harmed, but the explosion outraged the community and was a major test of King’s steadfast commitment to non-violence. King was relatively new to Montgomery, Alabama but had quickly involved himself in the civil […]

March 21

James Wong Howe becomes first Asian American to win an Academy Award

Noted for his innovative use of wide-angle shots, low-key lighting and deep focus, cinematographer James Wong Howe becomes the first Asian American to win an Academy Award on March 21, 1956. Receiving the Oscar for Best Cinematography for The Rose Tattoo, starring Anna Magnani and Burt Lancaster, Howe had a knack for making “old stars […]

April 19

Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier of Monaco marry in “wedding of the century”

On April 19, 1956, American film actress Grace Kelly, 26, marries Prince Rainier of Monaco, 32, in a spectacular ceremony—a “royal wedding of the century” watched by more than 30 million viewers on live television. The two had begun a secret correspondence after the Hollywood star was introduced to the prince in May of 1955 […]

June 3

Rock ‘n’ roll is banned in Santa Cruz, California

On June 3, 1956, Santa Cruz, California captured national attention when city authorities announced a total ban on rock ‘n’ roll at public gatherings. Officials called the music “detrimental to both the health and morals of our youth and community.”  Santa Cruz, a favorite early haunt of author Ken Kesey and his Merry Pranksters, became […]

June 9

Best-selling crime novelist Patricia Cornwell is born

On June 9, 1956, one of the world’s top-selling crime novelists, Patricia Cornwell, best known for her forensic pathologist character Dr. Kay Scarpetta, is born in Miami, Florida. Cornwell, whose maiden name is Daniels, had a difficult childhood: When she was 5, her father, a lawyer, left the family. Afterward, Cornwell moved with her mother […]

June 25

Last Packard—the classic American luxury car—produced

The last Packard—the classic American luxury car with the famously enigmatic slogan “Ask the Man Who Owns One”—rolls off the production line at Packard’s plant in Detroit, Michigan on June 25, 1956. Mechanical engineer James Ward Packard and his brother, William Dowd Packard, built their first automobile, a buggy-type vehicle with a single cylinder engine, […]

June 29

Marilyn Monroe weds playwright Arthur Miller

On June 29, 1956, Hollywood film actress Marilyn Monroe marries playwright Arthur Miller in a four-minute civil ceremony at the Westchester County Courthouse in New York state. Writer Norman Mailer famously calls the union a meeting of “The Great American Body” and “The Great American Brain.”  On July 1, 1956, the couple wed again in […]

July 30

President Eisenhower signs “In God We Trust” into law

On July 30, 1956, two years after pushing to have the phrase “under God” inserted into the pledge of allegiance, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signs a law officially declaring “In God We Trust” to be the nation’s official motto. The law, P.L. 84-140, also mandated that the phrase be printed on all American paper currency. […]