Can You Pass This 1955 General Knowledge Quiz?


By: Robin Tyler

7 Min Quiz

Image: H. Armstrong Roberts/Retrofile RF/Getty Images

About This Quiz

Just one decade after the end of WWII, a conflict that had brought the world to its knees, 1955 was filled with interesting occurrences.

It was also a time of significant upheaval around the world, particularly in South East Asia where the tensions from the Korean War that had ended two years previously were still extremely high. And the Cold War tensions between the West and the USSR were growing and were on the verge of escalating into World War III.

While some notable people were born in 1955, the world also lost some giants. These included one of the greatest minds of the 20th Century, and one of the best acting talents to come out of Hollywood, an actor whose career was cut short by a car crash just as he was entering the peak of his acting career. Can you guess the names of these giants of history who died in 1955?

Some notable inventions also first appeared in 1955, including a device that couch potatoes the world over are still thankful for to this day. Can you believe it was more than 60 years ago?

So, just how many questions about 1955 do you think you will be able to answer? Let's begin!

The first nuclear-powered submarine set sail for the first time in January 1955. What was it called?

On January 17, 1955, the USS Nautilus, the first nuclear-powered submarine made its first official voyage. It went on to break numerous records, including traveling below the North Pole in 1958. It remained in service until 1980.


Which of these rock 'n roll hits was the second biggest song of 1955?

Rock and roll, although a fledgling music genre, began to produce many songs which became popular enough to appear on the charts. One of these was "Rock Around the Clock" by Bill Haley and His Comets. The song was first written in 1952 and Hayley had released it once before, a year earlier in 1954.


Can you identify the European country that joined NATO in 1955?

NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, was formed in 1949 in the face of growing communism in Eastern Europe. Original members included England, the United States and France. Why did it take West Germany until 1955 to join? Well, think about it. Just four years before NATO's formation, Germany had been at war with most of its founding nations!


Which famous theme park opened its doors for the first time on July 17, 1955?

Walt Disney had the idea of opening a theme park while watching his daughters on a roundabout. Disneyland opened on July 17, 1955, with 18 rides. Although not an immediate success, it didn't take long for thousands of people to start visiting the park. Fourteen of the original 18 rides still exist.


Do you know the name of the world famous biologist who died in 1955?

A Nobel Prize winner, we have Alexander Fleming to thank for the discovery of penicillin. This crucial antibiotic is used in hospitals around the world and prescribed by doctors every day. Fleming died on March 11, 1955.


Which African-American woman refused to give up her seat on a bus which prompted a bus boycott led by civil rights leaders?

Often called "the mother of the freedom movement," Rosa Parks wrote her name into American history in 1955. By refusing to give up her seat to a white passenger, as ordered by the bus driver, Parks brought about the Montgomery Bus Boycott, which was led by civil rights leader, Martin Luther King Jr.


What is the name of the U.S. Air Force bomber that entered service in February 1955 and still serves today?

First flown in 1952, the Boeing B-52 Stratofortress entered service in February 1955. With the ability to carry 70,000 pounds of bombs and other weapons, the B-52 can reach targets around the world thanks to in-flight refueling. Incredibly, it remains in front-line service.


From the list of teams below, pick the 1955 Stanley Cup winners, please.

In a close fought series of games, the Detroit Red Wings overtook the Montreal Canadiens to claim the 1955 Stanley Cup. After the Red Wings took a 2-0 lead in the series, the Canadiens fought back to tie it at 2-2. The Red Wings won the fifth game, and the Canadiens tied the series again to send it into a seventh and deciding game. The Red Wings won that encounter 3-1, taking the Stanley Cup home to Detroit.


What can we thank Eugene Polley for inventing, which gave birth to the "couch potato"?

Loved by couch potatoes the world over, the TV remote is a godsend. It was invented in 1955 by engineer Eugene Polley. Polley called it the Flash Matic.


In 1955, a car marketed as being exclusively for women was made available at Dodge dealerships throughout the United States. What was it?

Not only was the Dodge La Femme colored with pink accents, it came with accessories to match. Women who purchased the car, available from 1955 to 1956, got an umbrella and purse to match.


Name the Hollywood heartthrob who died in a car crash on September 30, 1955.

One of Hollywood's upcoming leading men, James Dean had the world at his feet in 1955. He had already appeared in a number of successful movies and was in the process of filming another. Dean died in a crash while driving his Porsche 550 Spyder in California.


Which of these movies won Best Picture at the 1955 Academy Awards?

"On the Waterfront" cleaned up at the 1955 Academy Awards. Not only did it win Best Picture, but it also won Best Actor (Marlon Brando) and Best Director (Elia Kazan), taking a hat-trick in the three major Oscar categories. It won an additional five Oscars as well.


At what 24-hour endurance race were 83 spectators killed in a horrific crash?

No one had ever seen anything like it in motor racing. On June 11, 1955, 83 spectators were killed and more than 180 injured when after a large crash, flying debris scythed through fans attending the Le Mans 24-hour race at the Circuit de la Sarthe in France. The incident prompted Mercedes Benz to pull out of motorsport for 44 years.


Can you name the famous American motoring magazine first published in July 1955.

One of the most successful motoring magazines in American history, Car and Driver was first published in 1955. At the time, it was called Sports Cars Illustrated. In 2016, Car and Driver had a circulation figure of more than 1.2 million each month.


In 1955, a world famous book detailing many human feats was published for the first time. Can you name it?

The Guinness Book of World Records was published for the first time in 1955. The best-selling copyrighted book ever printed, the Guinness Book of World Records is published each year in 23 languages.


A James Bond novel penned by Ian Fleming was published in 1955? A Bond movie of the same name with parts set in space followed in the 1970s. Can you name it?

"Moonraker" was the third James Bond novel penned by Ian Fleming. With rockets, ex-Nazi's and plenty of Bond gadgets, it proved popular. Unlike the movie in the 1970s, none of the plot points of the book take place in space.


What fast food restaurant did Ray Kroc join and eventually purchase in 1955, turning it into a massive global franchise?

We have Ray Kroc to thank for McDonald's. Although a McDonald's restaurant had been opened in 1940 by Richard and Maurice McDonald, it was Kroc who purchased the company and began to franchise it around the United States.


Which of these teams was crowned World Series champions in 1955?

In a hard-fought series that went down to the final game, the Brooklyn Dodgers were crowned World Series champions by beating the New York Yankees four games to three. An MVP was named for the first time in a World Series. Dodgers pitcher Johnny Podres, won the award.


Which British comedian and actor known for his portrayal of the bumbling Mr. Bean was born in 1955?

We all know him and love him from his bumbling Mr. Bean character, but Rowan Atkinson has a rich history in comedy. He has featured in some of the best British television comedy series, including "Not the Nine o'Clock News" and the "Blackadder" series.


Which American soldier, made famous by the iconic photo of the flag raising on Iwo Jima in World War II, died in 1955?

Ira Hayes was immortalized along with five other U.S. fighting men in an iconic picture on top of Mount Suribachi on the island of Iwo Jima. Fame never sat comfortably with Hayes but in 1946, he helped ensure that one of the men misidentified in the photo was given proper credit, although he had been killed in action.


Certainly one of the greatest rock musicians of all time, can you name the guitarist born in Holland on January 26, 1955?

Born in Amsterdam, Edward Lodewijk van Halen is best known for his explosive guitar work with the 1980s rock band, Van Halen. Although he didn't create the technique, Eddie Van Halen popularized tapping, a technique in which a guitarist uses both hands to play strings on the neck of the guitar.


True or false? On January 19, 1955, a news conference given by President Dwight D. Eisenhower aired on television. It was the first news conference to be televised.

Yes, that's true. Old "Ike" was the first U.S. president to have his news conference filmed for television. It wasn't that easy, however, and it aired only with the president's permission.


Do you know the name of the vaccine tested by Jonas Salk for the first time on April 12, 1955?

Before the introduction of Jonas Salk's polio vaccine in 1955, the disease was a massive problem throughout the globe. Not only could it kill outright but those who survived often had some form of paralysis. Salk's vaccine ended that. And perhaps most incredible of all was the fact that Salk never patented his vaccine or made monetary gain from it.


From the options below, pick the man who became the British prime minster after a general election in 1955.

Anthony Eden, the Conservative Party candidate for Prime Minister of Great Britain came to power in 1955 after defeating Labor candidate Clement Attlee. Eden remained in office until January 9, 1957, when he resigned following the Suez crisis of a year earlier.


Which German car maker established an operation in the United States?

After six years of importing vehicles into the United States, German auto manufacturer Volkswagen started a new company in America. Called Volkswagen of America, its sole aim was to provide a similar sales and service standard in the U.S. as it did in Germany.


A field of 68 players assembled for the U.S. Masters golf tournament in 1955. Who was the eventual winner?

To the victor goes the spoils! Well, $5,000, that is. Cary Middlecoff won his first and only U.S. Masters title in 1955 but did it in style with a seven-shot victory over Ben Hogan. Middlecoff shot 9-under par for the tournament.


Which famous American spy plane made its first flight in 1955?

Commonly known as the "Dragon Lady," the Lockheed U-2 is a high-altitude spy plane. This aircraft has a range of 11,280 kilometers and can fly at heights of up to 80,000 feet or 24 kilometers! It remains in service today.


Name the TV western that made its debut on CBS in 1955.

"Gunsmoke" ran for 20 seasons and 635 episodes after making its debut in 1955. It is the second longest running television series in American history, surpassed only by "The "Simpsons." Actors James Arness and Milburn Stone were involved in every season. Did you know "Gunsmoke" was originally a radio serial?


Which long-running children's television series made its debut on October 3, 1955?

Walt Disney was riding the crest of a wave in 1955. Not only did he open Disneyland, but "The Mickey Mouse Club," a television show starring young children, made its debut on October 3, 1955. It ran under various names until 1996. Some famous names made their TV debuts starring in the show, including Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake and Christina Aguilera. In 2017, "Club Mickey Mouse" was launched but only on social media platforms.


True or false. The Soviet Union's worst naval disaster happened on October 29, 1955, when battleship Novorossiysk exploded while moored.

A former Italian battleship, the Novorossiysk exploded on October 29, 1955, after hitting a World War II German mine. In total, 608 sailors perished in the tragedy. Some reports suggest that she might have been destroyed by Italian special forces divers at the request of NATO, although mines were later found in the vicinity.


Which American motor company became the first to make a billion dollar profit in a single year?

As one of America's big three, along with Ford and Chrysler, General Motors has always been at the forefront of the vehicle trade in America. In the 1950s, a number of popular models, including the Belair and the Corvette, drove sales. In 1955, the company posted $1 billion in sales in a single year.


Can you name the American playwright who won the Pulitzer Prize for "Cat On A Hot Tin Roof"?

Tennessee Williams' "Cat On A Hot Tin Roof" premiered on March 24, 1955. In 1958, it was made into a film starring Paul Newman and Elizabeth Taylor. Williams' favorite work, "Cat On A Hot Tin Roof," won a Pulitzer Prize for Drama on May 2, 1955.


He loved dancing with wolves and played Robin Hood. Can you name the American actor born on January 18, 1955?

In the early 1990s, Kevin Costner was one of the go-to leading men in Hollywood. His career stalled after "Waterworld," released in 1995, did not provide a great return on investment. The movie, the most expensive ever made at that point, was not well received and flopped at the box office.


Can you name the famous physicist who died in 1955 at the age of 76?

One of the greatest scientific minds of the 20th Century, Albert Einstein gave us the theory of relativity as well as the equation linked to it, E=mc2. Einstein died on April 18, 1955.


Who was the American president in 1955?

"I like Ike" was Dwight Eisenhower's presidential campaign slogan, which gave him the win as the 34th President of the United States. In 1956, he was re-elected to serve four more years as president.


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