Life in the '60s Quiz


By: Torrance Grey

6 Min Quiz

Image: SeanShot/E+/Getty Images

About This Quiz

The 1960s are remembered as a time of tumult and change. However, to be accurate, most of that occurred in the late 1960s and spilled over well into the early 1970s. The first part of the 1960s was a relatively sedate time, culturally ... though the seeds of change were already being sown with the election of a young, vital and progressive president, John F. Kennedy, whose brief tenure in office was known as "Camelot." 

Elsewhere in the 1960s, London was the hotbed of the colorful and artistic "Mod" culture. Russia, then part of the Soviet Union, took an early lead in what was known as the "Space Race." (Spoiler for Russia fans: It didn't last). In California, Stanford and UCLA were making the first server-to-server connections, laying the groundwork for what would later become the internet. Naturally, these cutting-edge computer scientists began to use this early connection to discuss the popular '60s TV show, "Star Trek," and so was born -- or at least foreshadowed -- the chat rooms and forums we've all come to know and love. (Sort of). 

Whether you remember the 1960s from having lived through them, or you're a young fan of the era who regrets being "born too late," (sigh), we've got a quiz for you. Test your knowledge of all things groovy now!

How did you enter somebody's number on a 1960s telephone?

Phones of the 1950s and '60s were called "rotary dial" phones. It's possible that a Gen-Zer would just stare at one in perplexity and need to be told how to use it, just like people did with the first phones in the 1920s.


In which of these places was it forbidden to smoke?

Hey, you could smoke just about ANYWHERE in the 1960s. We'd joke that the only place you couldn't was a Nicotine Anonymous meeting, but NA wasn't founded until 1982!


Who governed Cuba throughout the 1960s?

To say that Fidel Castro led Cuba "through the 1960s" is an understatement. His rule (it's probably safe to call it that) began in the 1950s and lasted until the last 2000s, when his brother Raul succeeded him.


An inexpensive general store was called a five-and-_____ store.

You don't hear this term much nowadays. The old "five-and-dime" tradition still goes on, though, in today's dollar stores.


For what was "Liquid Paper" used?

Fun fact: Correction fluid ("Liquid Paper" is a brand name) was invented by a Texas secretary. It seems that necessity really is the mother of invention!


What was your mom most likely to call a frozen dinner with a compartmentalized tray?

These were commonly called "TV dinners" back in the day, because they were handy to eat right in front of the television. Nowadays, of course, people eat all sorts of meals in front of the TV, even ones made from scratch. (Some people would say this is really not an improvement in our lives).


Your handheld radio was called a _______ radio.

Three scientists shared the Nobel Prize in 1956 for their work on the transistor, a key device in electronics. Before long, every cool kid was walking around with a personal transistor radio.


Who was the creator of "Star Trek"?

Some people forget that "Star Trek" wasn't initially a success; it struggled in the ratings. Today, though, the concept has become its own fictional universe, with TV shows, films and an alternate timeline.


In what year was John F. Kennedy killed?

Kennedy was elected in 1961 and shot to death in 1963. The news rocked the world, but especially the U.S.


Who hosted "The Tonight Show" for most of the 1960s?

Johnny Carson was an icon of American television. He helmed the "Tonight Show" from 1962 to 1992.


In 1969, Mr. and Mrs. Brady of "The Brady Bunch" made history by doing what?

"The Brady Bunch" is the first major TV show to portray this. However, some people point to a short-lived, and much less watched, comedy called "Mary Kay and Johnny," which broke this ground even earlier.


America's invasion of Cuba took place at the Bay of _____.

"Bay of Pigs" has become synonymous with disastrous failure. President Kennedy authorized the overthrow attempt.


Which of these shows couldn't you watch yet in the 1960s?

The beloved "Saturday Night Live" premiered in 1975. "Today" and "The Tonight Show" ran throughout the 1960s and are still going strong, while "My Three Sons" bowed in 1972.


Which San Francisco neighborhood is most associated with the hippie movement?

The Haight-Ashbury district was a magnet for young people in the late 1960s, especially during the "Summer of Love." Today, it's largely an expensive residential area, like most San Francisco neighborhoods.


Who played the music-loving nun, Maria, in the film, "The Sound of Music"?

Andrews stepped into the shoes of Maria von Trapp, whose life story was first told as a musical play. "The Sound of Music" is about the von Trapp family singers and their flight from Nazi-dominated Austria in the run-up to World War II.


In 1967, Christiaan Barnard was the first doctor to do what?

Continuing the theme of "Americans weren't the first to do everything," it was Dr. Christiaan Barnard, a South African, who pioneered transplantation. His patient lived for 18 days after the surgery.


Which of these "27 Club" musicians died in the 1960s?

These three 1960s musicians all died at the age of 27. However, none died in the 1960s. Hendrix and Joplin died in 1970, while Morrison died in 1971.


Which of these famous lines is from the 1967 movie, "Cool Hand Luke"?

"Cool Hand Luke" is about a prisoner in the Deep South who refuses to be broken by the system. Paul Newman played the title character. It's a prison warden, though, who speaks the famous line.


Which of these actresses was derided in the '60s as "the world's oldest virgin"?

Day specialized in nice-girl roles in clean movies. This played well in the 1950s and early '60s, but not in the liberated late 1960s.


In which state did the Woodstock festival take place?

Woodstock was held on a dairy farm in upstate New York. It's now on the National Register of Historic Places.


In which of these "Twilight Zone" episodes did William Shatner guest-star before he starred in "Star Trek"?

This was one of "Twilight Zone's" better-known and beloved episodes. Shatner portrayed a man on an airplane, who is the only one who can see a grotesque creature on the wing. The episode aired in 1963.


Who was the famous frontman of the "Mothers of Invention"?

Frank Zappa was more than just a musician. He was a filmmaker and a countercultural figure. Fun fact: Zappa also famously named two of his children "Moon Unit" and "Dweezil."


Which of these 1960s forms of transportation has been adopted by surfers?

Station wagons with wood paneling on the sides were an iconic 1960s things. Surfers in California and Hawaii have taken these old-fashioned rides to heart.


Who ran against Richard Nixon in the 1968 presidential election?

Humphrey almost spent his life working as a pharmacist; his father was one, and wanted to give Hubert a partnership in the store. But when Humphrey attested to being physically ill with unhappiness, his father gave him his blessing to go back to school and study political science.


Who was the first man in space?

For most of the 1960s, the Soviet Union was definitively winning the "space race." This trend started in the 1950s with the USSR's launch of the unmanned Sputnik.


Which of these inventions rolled out in 1967?

The microwave didn't really gain popularity until the 1970s. It was first seen as a way to make complicated meals, like Thanksgiving dinner, in a fraction of the time. In truth, it gave rise to a number of convenience foods, but did not supplant the traditional oven for real baking and cooking.


In what year did the first Mustangs roll out?

The first Mustangs were called the "1964 1/2" Mustangs, because they rolled out late in the year. This wasn't typical -- usually, the first units of a new model year are released late in the previous year.


From which of these did Rolling Stone magazine take its name?

Rolling Stone was founded in San Francisco in 1967. The idea of "a rolling stone gathers no moss" clearly was an important one in the culture of that time.


Who produced and performed the protest song, "For What It's Worth"?

Buffalo Springfield was a Canadian-American band. Their famous song begins "There's something happenin' here," and was subtitled "Stop, Hey, What's That Sound," so radio listeners would recognize it.


True or false: The first computer mouse was invented in the 1960s.

Many inventions don't become popular in the same year or decade in which they are created. (See also: the microwave oven). The computer mouse, invented in 1964 by Douglas Engelbart, is one such item.


Which of these astronauts was NOT part of the Apollo 11 mission in 1969?

In 1969, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on the moon. Michael Collins piloted the lunar module while they explored the surface. Alan Shepard was part of the later Apollo 14 lunar mission.


Which of these designers is most associated with the miniskirt?

Mary Quant was a British designer in the vanguard of the Mod fashion movement. She popularized the miniskirt and hot pants, for which heterosexual men everywhere remember her with gratitude.


Which leading cultural figure was assassinated in 1968?

1968 was a traumatic year for America. African-Americans lost one of their most important leaders, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Then the late president John F. Kennedy's younger brother, Robert, always called "Bobby," was also shot to death.


How many days did the Cuban Missile Crisis last?

This was commemorated by the book, "Thirteen Days in May." The crisis, which involved the Soviets moving missiles onto Cuban soil within striking distance of the U.S., had the world on the brink of nuclear war.


What were "skinny jeans" called in the 1960s?

Hey, the 2010s didn't invent the skinny jean, or trouser. They had these in the 1960s, and frankly, we think the name "drainpipe" sounds a little cooler!


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