Year In Review - 1964

            The Year I Chose to write about is 1964. The main reason that originally led me to write about 1964 is the fact that the Ford Mustang was introduced on April 17 1964 (Leffingwell). I have always loved cars and mustangs have always been my favorite so I knew it would be a great year to write about. Most guys usually write about things like sports so it will be interesting to change things up a little bit and focus on something different than the normal research topic. Besides the 60’s being a popular era for cars, many other things happened that changed America. For example the introduction of the GI Joe doll made it alright for boys to play with dolls. Before 1964 there weren’t any dolls or action figures for boys to play with. It wasn’t even thought about or heard of. If a boy were to play with a doll of any type it would be considered weird. In this paper I will discuss topics such as movies, pop culture, the environment, and presidential issues.

            In America, the 1960’s were a booming time for automobiles. During this time period, a new breed of automobile was introduced known as muscle cars. These cars came with big eight cylinder motors and four speed manual transmissions. In 1964 there wasn’t a concern about gas mileage and pollution so almost every year, car companies introduced a faster and more powerful car. On March 9 1964 the ford mustang was put into production in Dearborn Michigan and was introduced to the public at New York’s World fair. This car was Ford’s most successful automobile since the Model A (Leffingwell). The reason why it is such a significant event of 1964 is because it started a new class of cars that still exists today called the pony car. A pony car is usually a two door and sometimes four door sports car that has a long hood and a short rear deck. Most pony cars have big eight cylinder engines and four speed manual transmissions. After the mustang was introduced and became such a popular car, other car companies wanted a piece of the action so companies like Chevrolet, and Pontiac produced cars like Camaro, and Firebird to compete with the ever popular Mustang.  Today, the demand for high horsepower, gas guzzling pony cars is not what it used to be. There still are plenty of performance oriented vehicles on the road today like the Chevrolet Camaro, Dodge Charger, and Dodge Challenger but just not as many like there used to be thanks to gas mileage concerns and environmental issues. Like these cars, the Ford Mustang is a very loved American icon and is credited with being the only original pony car that has remained in production without interruption for over forty years unlike the Camaro, Firebird, Charger, and Challenger that are still around today.

            Getting into topics of American Government which by the way ended the muscle car era of the 60’s because of restrictions on emissions. I will explain the events of the how the murderer of  Lee Harvey Oswald, the assassinator of John F. Kennedy was sentenced to death on March 14 1964 and how it all started. “John F. Kennedy, the 35th president of the United States was inaugurated on January 20 1961 and was shot and killed on November 22 1936 in Dallas Texas. The alleged assassin of JFK was arrested at a movie theatre about two hours after the assassination but before he was given a trial he was shot and killed two days later on November 24 1964 by a man named Jack Ruby. Ruby was born in 1911 in Chicago and his real name was Jacob Rubenstein” (Mailer). “Growing up he would run errands for Al Capone and later became an organizer and secretary for a local scrap iron and junk handlers union in Chicago. After a few years he moved to Texas where he bought his first nightclub. On March 14 1964 he was convicted of the murder of Lee Harvey Oswald. When police officers were getting ready to transfer Oswald to a state prison from the basement of the Dallas police headquarters, Ruby snuck into the prison and shot Oswald in the abdomen, while it was being broadcasted on national TV. Two years after being sentenced to death, the decision was appealed and Ruby was granted a second trial on January 3 1967, but before a verdict was ever decided he died of lung cancer”(Kantor).

            Besides a famous American car being introduced in 1964, the assassinator of J.F.K was shot and killed, and overall the economy was good. Inflation was at 1.2%, and unemployment was at only 5.7%. The president of the United States, Lyndon B. Johnson put a lot of acts into effect in 1964. “On July 2 1964 the Civil Rights Act was signed. This piece of legislation outlawed segregation in schools, public places and employment” (Frum). By this act being passed it was another step in the direction of fighting against racism. “Another act that was passed by President Johnson on September 3 1964 was the Wilderness Act. The Wilderness Act was written by Howard Zahniser of the Wilderness Society. It protected nine million acres of federal land and created the legal definition of wilderness in America” (Foresta).

            In 1964 there were some popular movies that were produced that year. A famous movie that is still well known today is Mary Poppins. “Mary Poppins was a movie based on the Disney book series. Disney wanted to purchase the film rights from P.L Travers in 1938 but was denied. Later in 1961 the author of the books gave in to Disney’s offer and sold the film rights to Disney” (Mary Poppins). In 1964 one of the things to do was to go to drive in movies on Friday and Saturday nights and another popular movie of 1964 that was watched at drive in movies and is still well known today was one of the James Bond movies Gold finger. The famous star of the first James bond movies was Sean Connery. In the James Bond series of films, Sean Connery played a spy who worked for the British government. These spy movies were always action packed and always had a steamy scene in them. James Bond is a name known all across America and its all thanks to the popular movies that have been around for over forty years. The 1964 James Bond movie Gold finger inspired one of the world known Austin Powers movie Gold member. Now days James Bond movies have also been turned into video games. “In 1964 there were no such things as video games and only 3.1 percent of the American population had color television sets. In 1964 television sets costs as much as twelve hundred dollars. Twelve hundred dollars in 1964 would be around ten thousand dollars today” (TV Set Prices).

            Since videogame systems were not even thought about in 1964 kids would play all types of sports and games. “On February 2 1964 an American icon was born. The GI Joe doll, a combat action figure was the first boys doll ever made in the U.S” (Michlig).

            For the American teenager, music was a popular part of growing up. “A popular band that was introduced to America on February 7 1964 was the Beatles” (The Beatles). The Beatles were a band from Great Britain that was loved by all American teenagers, mostly girls. They were known for their long mop head like haircuts. “After the Beatles came to America, the American teenage boy changed from having a clean haircut to shaggy hair. This new trend that was started in 1964 is all thanks to the Beatles” (The Beatles).

            In 1964 a lot of historical events happened. Famous movies that are still watched today were produced, unforgettable presidential events happened, the famous Ford Mustang was produced, and other things like the invention of a boy doll was made. A lot of people would agree that the year 1964 is definitely a big year in the 1960’s. My grand mom Maryanne Bowdren said, “everything was so much simpler back then. People worked hard their whole life, had big families and never worried about little things like they do today. A simple day in the park, or drive in movie would be an exciting thing to do in 1964” (1964). There was a lot more mutual respect for one another in 1964 compared to current times. Even if you look at things like music lyrics, it just seems much more peaceful. I enjoyed researching about the year 1964 and learned a lot about events that happened in the United States. I hope that the Penn State Hazleton students will learn something from this essay.


                                                                                    Work Cited

"The Beatles." Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. 30 Jan. 2009 <>.

Foresta, Ronald A. America's National Parks and Their Keepers. Resources for the Future, 1985.

Frum, David. How We Got Here: The 70's. NY: Basic Books, 2000.

Kantor, Seth. Who Was Jack Ruby. Everest House, 1978.

"Mary Poppins -." The Film Guide. 30 Jan. 2009 <>.

Michlig, John, and Don Levine. G. I. Joe : The Complete Story of America's Favorite Man of Action. New York: Chronicle Books LLC, 1998.

"1964." Telephone interview. 28 Jan. 09.

Oswald's Tale : An American Mystery. New York: Random House Group, 1995.

"TV Set Prices." Television History - The First 75 Years. 30 Jan. 2009 <>.