The life & times of Bill Clinton

December 01, 1992|By Knight-Ridder News Service

When George Bush and Ronald Reagan were growing up, the radio -- not the television set -- was the most popular piece of furniture in American households. And if you'd mentioned rock and roll to young "Poppy" Bush, he'd probably have thought you were talking about earthquakes.

President-elect Bill Clinton's frame of reference is very different from his predecessors'. Dubbed "Elvis" by the campaign press corps, he'll be the first Baby Boomer president.

What shaped the 46-year-old president?

Here's a look at the events, songs, TV shows, movies and fads that dominated Mr. Clinton's Wonder Years.

1946:

Bill bio: Bill Clinton born Aug. 19 in Hope, Ark. -- three months after father dies in car accident. Name on birth certificate is William Jefferson Blythe IV.

Big events: Winston Churchill warns that Soviets erecting "Iron Curtain" across Eastern Europe. Twelve Nazis sentenced to hang as Nuremberg war trials end. United Nations meets for first time.

Topping the charts: "Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah" (from Walt Disney's "Song of the South") springs onto radio, goes on to win Best Song Oscar. Two holiday classics-to-be -- "Let it Snow! Let it Snow!" and "The Christmas Song" -- cheer the charts.

On TV: Boxing is main event on infant medium. "Kukla, Fran and Ollie" and "Ted Mack's Amateur Hour" still two years away.

At the movies: Clarence rescues Jimmy Stewart, gets wings in Capracorny "It's A Wonderful Life." Oscars, box-office receipts go to "The Best Years of Our Lives," saga about returning vets.

Sports of all sorts: Golfer Ben Hogan putts way to $42,556 in earnings -- tops for year. Baseball stars back from World War II trade guns for gloves. The Bears beat New York Giants, 24-14, for NFL crown.

Signs of the time: Ranch-style homes.

1950:

Bill bio: Four-year-old Billy's mother, Virginia, weds car dealer Roger Clinton.

Big events: North Korean troops cross 38th parallel, causing President Harry S. Truman to order "police action." Minimum wage of 75 cents an hour goes into effect.

Topping the charts: Hank Williams continues country-western dominance with latest hit, "Why Don't You Love Me?" Silly proves popular as records such as "Bibbidi Bobbidi Boo" (from Walt Disney's "Cinderella") and "Rag Mop" sell in millions.

On TV: Milton Berle -- aka Mr. Television -- rules airwaves as host of "Texaco Star Theater." Time for game shows, as "Beat the Clock" begins eight-year run.

At the movies: Spencer Tracy walks Elizabeth Taylor up the aisle in original "Father of the Bride." Marlon Brando makes film debut in "The Men," about paraplegics. Oscars galore for catty "All About Eve."

Sports of all sorts: Man O' War voted best racehorse of half-century. New York Yankees take yet another World Series, sweeping Philadelphia's Phillies four games to none.

Signs of the time: Dance world sways fashion as young women wear hair short, don dungarees and ballet shoes.

1956:

Bill bio: 10-year-old Bill Clinton gets little brother, Roger Jr.

Spends summer glued to TV set, watching political conventions.

Big events: Soviet tanks put down uprising in Hungary. U.S. Supreme Court rules segregation of buses, streetcars unconstitutional after black boycott in Montgomery, Ala. President Dwight D. Eisenhower, Vice President Richard M. Nixon re-elected.

Topping the charts: Swaggering form of Mississippi truck driver Elvis Presley arrives. The future King captures No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3 spots on Hit Parade with "Don't Be Cruel," "Hound Dog" and "Heartbreak Hotel."

On TV: "I Love Lucy" reduced to runner-up as "The $64,000 Question" creeps to No. 1 in ratings. Rest of Top 5: "The Ed Sullivan Show" (which censors Elvis' pelvis), "Disneyland" and "Jack Benny."

At the movies: Charlton Heston parts Red Sea (in "The Ten Commandments") and Yul Brynner dances way to Oscar (for "The King and I").

Sports of all sorts: Heavyweight Rocky Marciano retires undefeated, passing crown to youngest champ ever -- 21-year-old Floyd Patterson. Yankees hurler Don Larsen pitches first no-hit, no-run game in World Series history.

Signs of the time: James Dean cult takes off.

1961

Bill bio: 15-year-old decides to take stepfather's surname, legally becomes Bill Clinton.

Big events: "Ask not what your country can do for you," new president tells nation. East Germany erects Berlin Wall. First U.S. spaceman, Alan Shepard, rockets up 116.5 miles.

Topping the charts: Smokey Robinson's "Shop Around" becomes first million-seller for Motown. "Travelin' Man" Ricky Nelson drops"y."

On TV: FCC Commissioner Newton Minow calls TV "vast wasteland." "Gunsmoke" top-rated series.

At the movies: Jets and Sharks dance, sing and fight in screen version of "West Side Story." Disney home to 101 dalmatians, absent-minded professor.

Sports of all sorts: Yankees' Roger Maris hits 61 homers, breaking Babe Ruth's longtime record.

Signs of the time: Homemade fallout shelters.

1963

Bill bio: All-state sax player, now 17, attends Boys Nation meeting in Washington, shakes hands with John F. Kennedy.

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