1956

Military Monday: National Interstate & Defense Highways Act 1956

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Interstate Highway Project Image One
Photo Credit: Timetoast

Sixty-four years ago, today…

Also known as the Federal Aid Highway Act of 1956 (Public Law 84-627), [it] was enacted on June 29, 1956, when President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed the bill into law. With an original authorization of $25 billion for the construction of 41,000 miles (66,000 km) of the Interstate Highway System, supposedly over a 10-year period, it was the largest public works project in American history [at] that time.

The addition of the term defense in the act’s title was for two reasons. First, some of the original cost was diverted from defense funds. Secondly, most U.S. Air Force bases have a direct link to the system. One of the stated purposes was to provide access in order to defend the United States during a conventional or nuclear war with the Soviet Union and its communist allies. All of these links were in the original plans, [though] some, such as Wright Patterson AFB, were not connected […] in the 1950s but, [were] later.

Interstate Highway Project Image Two
Photo Credit: Timetoast

The money for the Interstate […] and Defense Highways was [drawn from] a Highway Trust Fund that paid for 90% of highway construction costs, with the states required to pay the remaining [10%]. It was expected that the money would be generated through new taxes on fuel, automobiles, trucks and tires. As a matter of practice, the federal portion of the cost of the Interstate Highway System has been paid for by taxes on gasoline and diesel fuel.

Eisenhower‘s support of the Federal Aid Highway Act of 1956 can be directly attributed to his experiences in 1919 as a participant in the U.S. Army’s first Transcontinental Motor Convoy across the United States on the historic Lincoln Highway, which was the first road across America. The convoy was memorable enough for a young Army officer, 28-year-old Lieutenant Colonel Dwight David Eisenhower, to include a chapter about the trip, titled Through Darkest America With Truck and Tank in his book At Ease: Stories I Tell to Friends (Doubleday and Company, Inc., 1967).

Following completion of the highways, the cross-country journey that took the convoy two months in 1919 was cut down to five days.

Additional Reading & Sources:
Federal Aid Highway Act of 1956: Creating The Interstate System (Federal Highway Administration)
Federal Highway Act of 1956 (Web Archive of the Class Brain Site)
Federal Aid Highway Act of 1956 (Wikipedia)

Flick Friday: Love Me Tender 1956

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Love Me Tender Image
Image Credit: imdb.com

I usually do movie posts in five year increments but, this one kinda fell in my lap. Sixty-three years ago, today, Elvis Presley made his acting debut in the film Love Me Tender. Directed by Robert D. Webb, it was originally titled The Reno Brothers and was based on a story written by Maurice Geraghty. When Presley’s single Love Me Tender passed one million copies, a first for a single, the title to the film was changed. This was the only movie in which Presley played an historical figure and the only movie in which he did not receive top billing.

With Robert Buckner as screenwriter and produced by David Wiesbart, it starred Richard Egan, Debra Paget, Elvis, Robert Middleton, William Campbell, Neville Brand and Mildred Dunnock.

Elvis plays Clint Reno, one of the Reno Brothers who stayed home while his brother went to fight in the Civil War for the Confederate army. When his brother Vance comes back from the war, he finds that his old girlfriend Cathy has married Clint. The family has to struggle to reach stability with this issue. Vance is involved in a train robbery, while a Confederate soldier, of Federal Government money. There is a conflict of interest, when Vance tries to return the money, against the wishes of some of his fellow Confederates.

[Source]

Trivia Bits:
♦ Originally, this movie had no singing in it. Songs were added to cash in on Elvis Presley’s stardom.
Priscilla Presley reportedly copied Debra Paget’s unique hairstyle from this film to attract Elvis in 1959.
♦ According to Penny Stallings‘ “Flesh and Fantasy”, Presley developed a crush on co-star Debra Paget, which went unreciprocated because she was seeing Howard Hughes at the time.
♦ When the film played in theaters, Elvis Presley’s fans were screaming so loud that audiences couldn’t hear any of his lines.

Trailer


 

The Actual Movie

Wayback Wednesday: Stage Show 1954

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Stage Show Image One
Image Credit: imdb.com

Sixty-five years ago, today, the CBS TV variety series Stage Show debuted. It was produced by Jackie Gleason Enterprises and hosted by Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey. Starting out as an hour-long, summertime replacement for The Jackie Gleason Show, it was returned in the Fall of 1955.

This is the show that introduced the world to Elvis Presley.

Dave Marsh, in his insightful musical biography Elvis, writes about the moment Elvis Presley burst upon the American scene via The Dorsey Brothers Stage Show on January 28, 1956. “In his first appearance on the Dorsey Brothers’ TV show, the young singer rocked the world”. Marsh described Elvis’ startling rendition of Heartbreak Hotel and concluded, “He owned the song and he owned the crowd”.

Elvis Presley Image Two
March 17, 1956
Photo Credit: elvispresleymusic.com.au

After 17 months of personal appearances all over the south […], Elvis […] made his first appearance […]. Those shows were broadcast, live, from the CBS Studios in New York City. Young Elvis The Pelvis’ first appearance […] was followed by 5 others throughout the next 2 months until the 24 of March, 1956.

[Source]

Introduced by Bill Randle, Elvis’ January stage set was Shake, Rattle & Roll, Flip, Flop & Fly and, I Got A Woman.

Bobby Darin also made his television debut on this show in March of 1956 singing Rock Island Line. The June Taylor Dancers were regular guests & performers and, Jack Carter became the permanent host in the show’s final season. Up against the The Perry Como Show on NBC, ratings began to decline. The final show was aired September 18, 1956, two months before the death of Tommy Dorsey. Jimmy passed in June of the following year.

Other Guests & Performers