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  In The Year...1959

Entertainment News and Highlights

Maurice Cheavlier and Sophie TuckerRight: Maurice Chevalier smooched it up with Sophie Tucker after being honored by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association on March 5.

Soviet cartoonLeft: A U.S. ice show in Moscow, Russia, inspired this Soviet cartoon. The label on the melting snowman reads "Cold War"; the poster reads "Moscow Tour, Holiday on Ice, Presentation of the American Theater"; the small sign hanging from the poster reads "Sold Out."


The Bolshoi Ballet of Moscow (Russia) made its U.S. debut at the Metropolitan Opera House on April 16 before a capacity audience. The company of over 100 dancers was led by prima ballerina Galina Ulanova, who earned great praise for her performances in Romeo and Juliet, The Dying Swan, and Giselle. Other dancers of note included ballerinas Raissa Struchkova and Maya Plissetskaya (in her first apperance outside the Soviet Union), character dancer Vladimir Levashev, and 19-year-old Vladimir Vasiliev. The tour extended as far as San Francisco, California.

Galina UlanovaRight: Prima ballerina Galina Ulanova headed a company of over 100 dancers when the Bolshoi Ballet toured the United States.

Jerome Robbins' Ballets U.S.A. dazzled audiences across Europe, including in cities behind the Iron Curtain. The tour included as a special feature a new ballet called Moves, danced without music.

The New York City Ballet presented a controversial work called Episodes, danced to music by Anton von Webern. The first section, about Mary, Queen of Scots, was choreographed by Martha Graham, who also danced the principal role. The second part, an experiment in original dance design, was choreographed by George Balanchine. The company also gave the first U.S. production of The Seven Deadly Sins, choreographed by Balancine, with music by Kurt Weill.

EpisodesLeft: Episodes, a new ballet choreographed by Martha Graham and George Balanchine and danced to the music of Anton von Webern, was staged by the New York City Ballet.


Maria Callas' husband, Italian industrialist Giovanni Battista, filed suit for separation on September 28 in Brescia, Italy, after rumors linked the opera star romantically with Greek shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis. The couple was legally separated by mutual consent in a Brescia court on November 14.

Opera in the United States got a $950,000 boost from the Ford Foundation, which set up a program to subsidize production of new American operas in New York, Chicago,and San FRancisco, starting in 1961.

Lyric OperaLyric OperaLeft: The Lyric Opera of Chicago (Illinois) production of Puccini's Turandot was staged by Vladimir Rosing and starred Birgit Nilsson.
Right: The Lyric Opera also staged the seldom performed folk opera
Jenufa by Czech composer Leos Janacek.


The U.S. House Subcommittee on Legislative Oversight held hearings October 6-12 on allegedly rigged television quiz programs. When the hearings resumed on November 2, members heard Charles Van Doren, who won $129,000 on the NBC-TV quiz show "21," admit that he had been given questions and answers in advance when he appeared on the program in 1956.

Charles Van DorenRight: Charles Van Doren was subpoenaed by House investigators to testify on the rigging of television quiz shows.

[More Television News and Highlights]


Stratford Festival TheatreLeft: The 7th season of Shakespearean drama opened July 1 at the Stratford Festival Theatre in Stratford, Ontario, Canada.

[More Theater Highlights]

George Balanchine

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This page was last updated on May 16, 2016.

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