The 1960s: Power to the People
Examine the 1960s with a focus on pop culture. Sports, entertainment, music, arts and literature, and fashion are not only reflected in the times but helped to serve as a platform for individuals looking to make a statement about the world around them. From the Beatles to Bond there will be a little of everything to spark your interest.
Pop culture became the embodiment of the 1960s.
A Groovy Time
Pop culture became the embodiment of the 1960s. Political and social turmoil fostered personal expression. The emergence of a new and powerful generation challenged the traditional. Controversial subjects were no longer taboo as entertainment both mirrored life and also helped shape American views.
As new rules and new genres appeared, the influence of this tempestuous decade could be felt in sports, arts, fashion, entertainment, and music.
Expansion was the name of the game for football and baseball in the 1960s.
More Fans, More Teams
Expansion was the name of the game for football and baseball in the 1960s. Popularity for major league sports spread thanks to television broadcasts that reached millions of homes each week. Following lobbying efforts by both the NFL and MLB, President Kennedy signed into law legislation that allowed single-network contracts with professional sports leagues. Ideally this move would bolster revenue for both leagues.
With the creation of the American Football League (AFL) a rivalry formed. In 1960, the AFL took the field with eight teams. Fierce competition for draft picks and fans lead to a merger with the NFL in 1966. The two leagues agreed to a common draft and season, ending with a championship game. Two years later, the championship game became known as the Super Bowl. A final merger took place prior to the 1970 season creating conferences, the AFC and NFC, both played as part of the new NFL.
Baseball also expanded going from 16 to 24 teams. The two leagues divided into Eastern and Western divisions and League Championship Series playoffs were added.
Television became the gateway to the world.
Television became the gateway to the world. Nightly newscasts covered civil rights marches, sit-ins and protests. Shocked America showed greater support for the civil rights movement. Coverage from the Vietnam front brought a remote war into American living rooms and support quickly declined.
Major broadcasting companies produced episodic shows and situational comedies primarily in black and white. They began the move to color in the mid 1960s. By 1967, all three networks were broadcasting their entire primetime lineup in color.
With the broadcast of shows geared towards teenage audiences, shows like “American Bandstand” brought rock ‘n’ roll and the latest trends in dance and dress to millions of teens.
Popular dramatic series included mystery, police procedurals and westerns such as “Perry Mason,” “Dragnet,” “Bonanza” and “Gunsmoke.” Sci-Fi shows also proved popular with influential shows like “The Twilight Zone,” “Doctor Who,” “Lost In Space,” “Star Trek,” “Green Hornet,” “Batman,” “Bewitched,” “Addams Family” and “I Dream of Jeannie.” Several comedies aired during the era including “The Andy Griffith Show,” “Beverly Hillbillies,” “The Flintstones,” “The Carol Burnett Show,” “Gilligan’s Island,” “The Dick Van Dyke Show” and “Laugh-In.”
In the Bond Room
At the Box Office
In the mid-late 1960s, baby boomers made up a whopping 80% of the movie going audience. Major film studios no longer ignored the youth market. Popular films such as “Bonnie and Clyde” (1967) and “The Graduate” (1967) showed that baby boomers were a force to be reckoned with.
Smaller studios changed from the low budget beach blanket and horror movies to more jaded, satirical and cynical films. Western films like a “Fist Full of Dollars” (1964) became more violent and introduced the antihero unlike John Wayne’s traditional cowboy hero.
Sensitive subjects such as rape, sex, and racism began showing up in films such as “In the Heat of the Night” (1967). Sydney Poitier portrayed a black Northern cop wrongly accused of murder. The film’s frank look at racism is still shocking to see today.
Directors experimented with bold storytelling with explicit sex and violence. So much so that the ratings board of the MPAA added an X rating to the standard rating system. “Midnight Cowboy” (1969) with Jon Voight and Dustin Hoffman, received an X rating for explicit sex scenes. Director Sam Peckinpah became well known for his violent movies including crime thriller “The Getaway” and western “The Wild Bunch.”
Several ready-to-wear designers...
Off the Rack
Several ready-to-wear designers became household names including Bill Blass, Donald Brooks and Oscar de la Renta. These designers’ clothes sold at prices comparable to the high-fashion house designer lines. Evening clothes became simpler and were often floor length. Pantsuits made of velvet or satin were introduced for evening wear.
Boutique shops and chain stores became major clothing outlets. Boutiques catered to the young. They blared top-40 music, showcased hip décor, relied on self-service and featured the ever changing fashions influenced by pop culture.
At the end of the decade...
At the end of the decade, skirt lengths ranged from mini to maxi. Miniskirts to micro minis became very popular. The Black Power movement helped popularize African clothing styles. East Indian inspired clothing became popular as well. American Indian touches included moccasins and jewelry. East Indian influenced clothing would be Nehru jackets, toggle closures and Mandarin collars.
Men’s wear also changed dramatically. Normally, men’s fashions changed very slowly. However, the 1960s brought much faster changes to men’s clothing. Sportswear expanded significantly, brought about by a new emphasis on leisure time activities. Hats, trousers, shirts and shoes for activities such as golf and tennis looked both functional and fashionable.