Can You Pass This General Knowledge Quiz From 1953?

Robin Tyler

Image: George Marks/Retrofile RF/Getty Images

About This Quiz

Just eight years after the end of World War II, 1953 was a year with many interesting births, deaths, firsts and occurrences.

It was also a time of major upheaval around the world, particularly in South East Asia where the United States, China, the Soviet Union, Great Britain and many other countries were involved in a war that could at anytime have led to World War III. You know which conflict we are talking about, right?

Another 'war' was playing itself out at the same time. This pitted the West, particularly the United States, against Communism, mostly in the form of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, or U.S.S.R. for short. At the forefront of this 'war' were ordinary people, spies, if you will. Two of them, a couple from the United States, were tried, convicted in in 1953 executed by electric chair for supplying United State secrets to the Russians. They maintained their innocence, right up until their deaths. 

In the world of sport, many old familiar teams were triumphant in their chosen disciplines, sending their fans into raptures for adding another shiny trophy to their trophy cabinet.

Although it was over 60 years ago, 1953 was certainly a monumental year. 

Let's see just how much you know about it. 

Do you know which of these musical instruments was invented in 1953?

In 1953, RCA invented what is considered to be the first electronic synthesizer. They called it the Electronic Music Synthesizer. Because it could not produce sounds in real time, it was more of a composition machine.

Can you tell us which major war ended on June 27, 1953?

The active combat portion of the Korean War lasted from June 25, 1950 until July 27, 1953 when hostilities ended after an armistice was signed. This created a demilitarized zone between North and South Korea along the 38th Parallel. Over 2.5 million civilians perished during the war.

True or false. The TV Dinner was invented in 1953?

True! Although there may have been earlier examples, the company Swanson and Sons used the term "TV Brand Frozen Dinner" in 1953. And the first meal they made available. Well, it was Thanksgiving turkey with all the sides and trimmings. This dinner, which came in a tray made from aluminum, was then heated in the oven.

Do you know the first explorers to reach the summit of Mount Everest?

The quest to summit Everest gained steam in the early 1950s. On May 29, 1953, New Zealand mountaineer and explorer, Edmund Hillary and his Sherpa companion, Tenzing Norgay, were the first to reach the summit of the world's tallest mountain.

Which world leader won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1953?

Still somewhat controversial, Winston Churchill, the Prime Minister of Great Britain was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1953. The Nobel Academy said Churchill was awarded the prize “for his mastery of historical and biographical description as well as for brilliant oratory in defending exalted human values.”

Of the teams below, who won the World Series in 1953?

The New York Yankees were crowned MLB World Series champions after defeating the Brooklyn Dodgers 4-2 in a 6-game series. This was a repeat of the previous year's World Series as well and with their victory, the Yankees secured their 5th title in a row.

What building block of all organisms was discovered in 1953?

It was two scientists, James Watson and Francis Crick from the University of Cambridge, whoi discovered DNA on February 28, 1953. The pair were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1962 for their discovery.

Can you name the American couple, who were executed in 1953 for spying on the United States for the Soviet Union?

Arrested in 1950, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were accused of spying for the Soviet Union. After they were tried, the couple were found guilty and on June 19, 1953, the pair were executed by electric chair.

The Western "High Noon" was a big hit in 1953. Name the actor who appeared in the movie and won the Best Actor Oscar that year.

Gary Cooper was one of Hollywood's great leading men. His career had started in the silent movie era. His appearance in "High Noon" brought Cooper his second Academy Award. Interestingly, a number of big name Hollywood stars, including John Wayne, turned down the role before Cooper accepted.

On Jan. 7, 1953 American President Harry Trueman announced that the United States had a fearsome new weapon. What was it?

The hydrogen bomb, a thermonuclear weapon, was first tested in 1952. Also known as the H-bomb, U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower announced to the world that his country possessed such a weapon early in 1953. It was seen a deterrent to the Soviet Union. The first H-bombs were 450 times more powerful than atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki during World War II.

Can you name the famous magazine published for the first time in December 1953?

Playboy was first published by Hugh Hefner in December 1953. And the first Playboy bunny? Well, it was none other than Marilyn Monroe. The first edition sold 50,000 copies!

True or false? The Douglas D-558-2 Skyrocket became the first aircraft to reach Mach 2 in 1953.

On Nov. 20, 1953, the Douglas D-558-2 Skyrocket, piloted by Scott Crossfield, reached the speed of Mach 2, the first aircraft to do so. Interestingly, the aircraft's fuselage was waxed to help reduce drag.

Do you know which famous American wrestler was born on August 11, 1953?

Born Terry Gene Bollea, Hulk Hogan was one of the stars of the World Wrestling Federation in the 1980s and 1990s when the sport saw a massive upsurge in popularity. He was a six-time World Heavyweight Champion for the franchise.

Which famous American singer, who just wanted girls to have fun, was born on June 22, 1953?

Cynthia Ann Stephanie Lauper, or as we know her better, Cyndi Lauper, was born on June 22, 1953. She released her debut album, "She's so Unusual" in 1983 and it became the first debut from a female artist to spawn four top 5 hits on the Billboard chart. Lauper also won the inaugural Best Female Video at the MTV Video Music Awards in 1984.

Which leader of the U.S.S.R. died in 1953?

Joseph Stalin was the feared leader of the U.S.S.R. for a period of 30 years from 1922 to 1952. Not only did he lead the Soviets in their defense of their homeland after the German invasion in 1941, after they were repelled he ordered his troops to launch attacks into Germany, eventually taking Berlin in 1945. Stalin also led a purge of what he called "enemies of the working class" in which 700,000 Soviets were executed in the late 1930s. Stalin died in 1953.

Any idea as to one of 1953's most popular Christmas toys?

Although Scrabble was first sold in 1938, it was in the 1950s that it really took off. And it was all about getting the game in the right stores. In 1952, Macy's began to stock Scrabble after the organization's president, Jack Straus played the game while on vacation. Selchow and Righter also bought the rights to the game in the same year and by 1953, 4 million units were sold.

True or false? A North Korean fighter pilot who defected to South Korea was paid $100,000 from the USA for doing so.

On Sept. 21, 1953, No Kum-Sok took off from a North Korean air force base and flew his MiG 15 south, into South Korean territory. He calmly landed at a South Korean base and surrendered. For his defection, the United States paid No Kum-Sok $100,000. He changed his name to

Patti Page had a massive hit in 1953 with which song?

Released in January 1953, "How Much Is That Doggie In The Window" was a massive hit for Patti Page. It went to number 1 on the Billboard chart and sold over 2 million copies! The song was composed by Bob Merrill.

On which day was Elizabeth crowned Queen of England?

Although her father had died over a year earlier, Elizabeth only ascended the throne at her coronation on June 2, 1953. This was inline with royal protocol that determined enough time must be left from the death of one monarch to the coronation of the next. The coronation itself was said to have cost £1.57 million, a substantial amount at the time.

A famous country star died on Jan. 1, 1953. Do you know who it was?

Over the course of his career, Hank Williams had 11 No. 1 country singles. Sadly, he had a drink and drug problem and on Jan. 1, 1953, while he was being driven to a New Year's Day concert, Williams died from a hemorrhage near his heart. He was just 29 years old.

Do you know which critically acclaimed actor was born on Dec. 9, 1953? He once starred in a movie with his own name in the title.

Born on Dec. 9, 1953, John Malkovich is recognized as one of Hollywood's finest actors. He has played a range of roles and in many different movie genres over the course of his career. Interestingly, in 2015, Malkovich starred in a movie directed by Robert Rodriguez. It is locked in a vault in France and will only be viewed in 2115!

Can you name the American president in 1953?

A brilliant general during World War II, Dwight Eisenhower entered politics in the 1950s and was elected the president of the United States in 1953. He held the office for two terms, up until 1961.

On April 17, 1953, who hit a 565-foot home run while playing for the New York Yankees?

Mickey Mantle was some ball player. During the course of his MLB career for the Yankees, he smashed 536 home runs. In 1953, he smashed a pitch from Washington's Chuck Stobbs a massive 565 feet!

In television, what was 1953's most popular show?

"I Love Lucy" was in its third season in 1953 and was the most watched show on TV that year (a feat the show achieved in four out of the six seasons it ran). It starred Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, her real-life husband.

Which Welsh poet died on on Nov. 9, 1953?

Welsh poet Dylan Thomas was just 39 when he died. It was first assumed that Thomas had drunk himself to death, but later reports suggested that a severe bout of pneumonia caused him to fall into a coma that he never recovered from. Thomas' most famous poems include "Do not go gentle into that good night" and "And death shall have no dominion".

True or false? The word "Frenemy" was used for the first time in 1953.

"Frenemy" was used for the first time in 1953. The phrase was coined by Walter Winchell, a columnist with the Nevada State Journal. And the name of his column in which it was used? "Howz about calling the Russians our Frienemies"

From the list of teams below, pick the 1953 Stanley Cup winners, please.

The Boston Bruins, who were in their first Stanley Cup final since 1946, were no match for the Montreal Canadiens, contesting their third final in a row. The Canadiens won the series 4-1.

From the list below, can you choose the British Prime Minister born on May 6, 1953?

Tony Blair was the Prime Minister of Great Britain for a period of ten years, from May 2, 1997 until June 10, 2007. A member of the Labour Party, At 43, Blair was the youngest person to become Prime Minister since 1812. Victories in three general elections also made Blair the longest-serving Labour Party Prime Minister.

The first James Bond story was published by Ian Fleming in 1953. What was its name?

Casino Royale, the only James Bond book to be filmed as a movie twice, was released on April 13, 1953. Written by Ian Fleming, it not only introduces us to Bond but to his CIA friend, Felix Leiter. Fleming sold the film rights for the book for $6,000

From the list below, can you pick a traffic control measure invented in 1953?

Arthur Holly Compton was the inventor of what he called the "traffic control bump" in 1953. A physicist, Compton was a Nobel prize winner in 1927. Interestingly, speed bumps took some time to take off. For example, in Europe, they were first used in 1970 in Holland.

Are you able to identify the Best Film winner at the 1953 Academy Awards from the list below?

Produced and directed by Cecil B. DeMille, "The Greatest Show on Earth" starred Charlton Heston and James Stewart, among others. It follows the life of members of a traveling circus. It somewhat controversially beat "High Noon" to the Best Film Oscar.

Elizabeth Windsor was coronated as the Queen of England in 1953. Which member of the Rolling Stones was a choir boy at this event?

A real rock and roll wild child, Keith Richards wasn't always known for his partying antics! In fact, his angelic voice landed him a gig as a choir boy at the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II on June 2, 1953. Richards was part of a trio of sopranos that performed all over the southeast of England

Which of these teams was crown NFL champions in 1953?

The NFL Championship game was played on Dec. 27, 1953. It was contested by the defending champions, the Detroit Lions, and the Cleveland Browns. In a close-fought encounter, the Lions ran out 17-16 winners over the Browns.

The NBA Finals certainly were a one-sided affair in 1953. Which team was crowned champions?

The NBA finals, played in early April 1953, were a pretty one-sided affair, with the Minneapolis Lakers dominating the New York Knicks. The won the title in 5 games with a 4-1 scoreline. It was their fifth title in six years.

Who replaced Stalin as the leader of the U.S.S.R. in 1953?

Although Georgy Malenkov succeeded Joseph Stalin as the leader of the U.S.S.R. his reign was short-lived.

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