Fantastic Fifties

This is a video of a program called "Fantastic Fifties" that aired on WGN in the late 1950s. An unidentified host takes the viewer through some of the highlights of the late fifties including: Chicago's rise to becoming a major sea port, highlights of memorable Chicago sports moments, and various popular news stories of the decade.

00:00Copy video clip URL The tape begins with color bars and tone. There are black and white bars and tone as well. This lasts for nearly two minutes.

02:01Copy video clip URL The 8th Sea film footage. The narrator talks about Chicago’s status as a budding sea port. There are shots of crashing waves and large boats as the narrator showcases Chicago’s development of a seaway using Calumet Harbor (“the Cal-Sag project”). This lasts for several minutes.

06:14Copy video clip URL Fade into a segment on the smaller news stories that appeared throughout 1957. Some of the stories include: hot dog consumption, the Mayflower reproduction, popular movies, etc.

07:19Copy video clip URL Fade into a segment on 1959 and the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway in Chicago. The military does a salute to the opening of the seaway by sending war ships in to Navy Pier. Montrose Beach rocks with explosions and gunfire to simulate an attack on the U.S.

10:35Copy video clip URL Fade into a segment on Chicago sports in 1959. The year was one of the best years in sports for the city. The White Sox won the American League pennant in Cleveland and went on to the World Series. There is footage of the team celebrating the win in their locker room. The team was greeted by a large gathering of Sox fans at Midway Airport as they returned from Cleveland. Bill Veeck purchased a part of Comiskey Park that year as well. Cubs’ star Ernie Banks’ excellent season is also showcased. The narrator highlights a few more sporting accomplishments from that year, ranging from college football to bowling.

17:45Copy video clip URL A segment on juvenile delinquency in the fifties is included on the tape. Footage of detained teenage delinquents is shown, and school vandalism, robbery, and assault are discussed. It is an interesting look at the early forms of gang violence and affiliations.

20:33Copy video clip URL Some of the smaller stories of 1958 are explored. Plastic rain pants for men were introduced, jet flights over the Atlantic began, and the music of Alvin and the Chipmunks gained popularity.

21:35Copy video clip URL The next segment is on gangster Roger Touhy’s unsolved murder only 23 days after his prison release in 1959.

23:36Copy video clip URL The next segment, entitled, “Changing the Face of Chicago,” showcases some of the expansion in the area that year. The viewer takes a tour of a rural farm and graveyard which was threatened by the construction of the Indiana toll road.

25:03Copy video clip URL Fade into a shot of the host as he closes the program. “And that’s it: the 1950s. Ten fantastic years in which man made screaming headlines about death, war, boom, and recession; about murder, suicide, crime; headlines about giant construction projects. But there were equally 10 years in which the greatest headline of all never got written. It’s simple enough that headline. If it were to be written, it might be like this: Seven million Chicagoans live here and like it.”

25:50Copy video clip URL The credits roll as the program comes to a close.

27:05Copy video clip URL End of tape.



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