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Introduction of Television
The Australian broadcasting industry was not quite as backward as it might seem from the late date of the first public television broadcasts in Australia (1956).
In fact, experimental broadcasts began as early as 1929 with the first broadcast licence being issued in 1934. Trial broadcasts were conducted in Brisbane but were curtailed with the outbreak of the Second World War.
Following the War, political wrangling over the type of television system (PAL or NTSC), whether there should be only a government service, only a commercial service or both and what restrictions there should be on the who could hold a broadcast licence, delayed its introduction for over a decade.
The catalyst which finally got television broadcasting off the ground in Australia was the staging of the Olympic Games in Melbourne in 1956. However, the Games were not the live television event we tend to imagine today. There were no satellite links, fibre optic cables or even co-axial cables linking Melbourne to anywhere else. Even in Melbourne, there were only about 10,000 TV sets. The vast majority of Australians saw the 1956 Olympics on the cinema newsreels, not in TV.
The 1960 and 1964 Olympics were seen on television. (There were over 600,000 TV sets in Australian homes by 1960,) But these were broadcasts of film taken a day or so before and flown to Australia. The first live Olympic broadcast in Australia was of the 1968 Games in Mexico City.

Melbourne Olympics
The Melbourne Olympic Games in 1956 are remembered as "The Friendly Games". Part of the reason for this was the contrast between the atmosphere in Australia and the Cold War which was at its height.
Early in November 1956, Soviet tanks crushed a democratic movement in Hungary. The Olympic Games commenced less than three weeks later. The Dutch and Spanish refused to attend the Olympics because the Soviets would be there. In October, the British and French commenced bombing Egypt in retaliation for annexing the Suez Canal. They ceased fire shortly after the Soviet action in Hungary. In the Americas, Castro's Communists invaded Cuba during the Olympic Games.
One of the most memorable events of the Games was the violent clash between Hungary and the USSR in water polo. The Hungarians eventually won the gold medal with the USSR getting the bronze. At the end of the Games, 56 Hungarian athletes from a team of 113 remained in Australia.
But the overall impression of the Games was the peaceful, open, friendly atmosphere of Australia focusing on sport in contrast to the Cold War atmosphere elsewhere.

View the events of any day:

Suez Crisis Britain and France attack Egypt

Hungarian Uprising Five days of freedom in Bucharest

Melbourne Olympic Games

Melbourne in 1956

The Music of 1956

Australian Radio in 1956

Television in 1956

The Lone Ranger 1949-61 cast
Dragnet 1951-58 & 1967-69 cast  
I Love Lucy 1951-55 cast  
The Cisco Kid
(First TV series made in colour)
Victory at Sea 1952    
Our Miss Brooks 1952-57 cast  
The Nelsons 1952-66 cast  
The Adventures of Superman 1953-55 cast  
The Loretta Young Show 1953-60    
Father Knows Best 1954-63 cast  
Lassie 1954-72    
The Honeymooners 1955-56 cast  
Sergeant Preston of the Yukon 1955-57    
The Mickey Mouse Club 1955-59 cast
The Phil Silvers Show (Sgt Bilko) 1955-59 cast  
The Adventures of Robin Hood 1955-59 cast  
The Life & Legend of Wyatt Earp 1955-60 cast  
Cheyenne 1955-62 cast  
Gunsmoke 1955-75 cast  
Circus Boy 1956-57    

Movies in 1956

Title Cast Academy Awards Buy
Anything Goes directed by Robert Lewis Bing Crosby
Donald O'Connor
Zizi Jeanmaire
Mitzi Gaynor
Around the World in 80 Days directed by Michael Anderson David Niven
Shirley Maclaine
Robert Newton
Marlene Deitchrich
Best Picture
Best Cinematography
Best Editing
Best Score
Best Screenplay
Carousel directed by Henry King Gordon MacRae
Cameron Mitchell
Shirley Jones
Click here to purchase
The Eddie Duchin Story directed by George Sidney Tyrone Power
Kim Novak
James Whitmore
Victoria Shaw
Shepperd Strudwick
Frieda Innescourt
High Society directed by Henry Cornelius Bing Crosby
Gene Kelly
Frank Sinatra
Click here to purchase
Invasion of the Body Snatchers
(aka Sleep No More)
< directed by Don Siegel
Kevin McCarthy
Dana Winter
Larry Gates
Click here to purchase
The King and I directed by Walter Lang Yul Brynner
Deborah Kerr
Rita Moreno
Best Actor
Best Art & Set Direction
Best Costume Design
Best Score
Best Sound
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The Man Who Knew Too Much directed by Alfred Hitchcock James Stewart
Doris Day
Brenda de Banzie
Best Song Click here to purchase
Reach for the Sky directed by Lewis Gilbert Kenneth More
Muriel Pavlow
London Brook
Lee Patterson
The Searchers directed by John Ford John Wayne
Jeffrey Hunter
Vera Miles
Ward Bond
Natalie Wood
John Qualen
Teahouse of the August Moon directed by Daniel Mann Marlon Brando
Glenn Ford
Eddie Albert
Machiko Kyo
Paul Ford
Jun Negami
The Ten Commandments directed by Cecil B. de Mille Charlton Heston
Yul Brynner
Anne Baxter
Edward G. Robinson
Yvonne de Carlo
Deborah Paget
Best Special Effects
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To Catch a Thief directed by Alfred Hitchcock Cary Grant
Grace Kelly
Jessie Royce Landis
John Williams
Charles Vanel
Brigette Auber
Best Cinematography
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A Town Like Alice
(aka Rape of Malaya)
directed by Jack Lee
Virginia McKenna
Peter Finch
Tran Van Khe
Trapeze directed by Carol Reed Burt Lancaster
Tony Curtis
Gina Lollobrigida
Katy Jurado
Thomas Gomez

Watch a free movie from 1956 now:

Books of 1956

Title Author Buy
Peyton Place (banned in Australia) Grace Metalious Click here to purchase
The Tribe that Lost Its Head Nicholas Monsarat Click here to purchase
Diamonds Are Forever a James Bond book Ian Fleming Click here to purchase
Battle of the River Plate Dudley Pope Click here to purchase
The Quare Fellow Brendan Behan Click here to purchase
A Long Days Journey into Night Eugene O'Neill Click here to purchase
Look Back in Anger John Osborne Click here to purchase
History of the English Speaking Peoples Winston Churchill Click here to purchase

1956 Memorabilia now available (at eBay):

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