Toy Story

[Image from Toy Story 3]

Using a fictional '555-' phone number is not uncommon in American films and television shows.

Which film or television show was the first to use a '555-' phone number?


From the wiki page for 555:

The phone companies began encouraging the producers of television shows and movies to use the 555 prefix for fictional telephone numbers, roughly during the 1960s. One of the earliest uses of a 555 number can be seen in Panic in Year Zero! (1962), with 555-2106.

In the 1942 film: "Eyes in the Night", starring Edward Arnold and Donna Reed, the telephone number, "Rossmore 555" was referred to. In older television shows from the 1950s or 1960s, "KLondike 5" or "KLamath 5" was used, as at the time the telephone exchanges used letters and numbers in phone numbers.

Depending on your point of view, it could be Eyes in the Night or Panic in Year Zero!, but I will keep digging to see if something else turns up.

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  • 555 is now a reserved number in phone systems. You can't order a vanity number that starts with 555 anywhere in the world that uses the ###-#### dialing format. Asian countries I think have a different dial format so the rule might not apply. – Reactgular Jan 26 '13 at 1:51
  • I've removed the off-topic conversation about emergency numbers that was unhelpful and had been flagged by several people. – iandotkelly Jan 26 '13 at 14:58
  • This article says: ...having been used in many films from 1930s, or earlier, onwards. Unfortunately it doesn't give an example. – Oliver_C Jan 26 '13 at 17:04
  • Worth noting, in case it's not obvious, that the system of letters is the same one that still survives on the keypad to this day, so KL5 is dialed as 555. – hobbs Feb 24 '17 at 1:01

Here's some I found from searching Subzin.com:

Eyes in the Night (1942):

00:20:32 ROSSMORE 555.
00:26:01 I WANT ROSSMORE 555.
00:26:08 HELLO, ROSSMORE 555?

The Second Time Around (1961):

00:29:59 The number is 555 - 3485.
00:30:35 That's right. The number is 555 - 3485.

KL5 and 555 can be found in a list of (presumably fake) telephone numbers in an advert by the Western Electric telephone company in Life magazine (15 Dec 1961), with a KL5 number chosen as the main example:

AreaCode Telephone Number
214 RI1-3199
311 551-6123
918 LU5-0599
415 KL5-3742
502 898-3499
516 IV5-9970
901 555-6255
305 355-1199
311 579-7892
607 RA2-4099
914 M08-6098
404 KL5-7722
606 734-9599
311 TW5-8242
405 CE6 -6690
212 555-6426
713 JA7-4199
311 KL5-2368
315 GR2-2399
512 CE4-3499
311 FR6-5428

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  • Wouldn't Rossmore 555 be either 76555 or 767555, depending upon the particular exchange? In many parts of the US it wasn't necessary to dial seven digits until the late 1970s or early 1980s. – supercat May 2 '15 at 16:58
  • @supercat: Perhaps the Rossmore one is an earlier version using 555 as a dummy phone number (and Rossmore the area code), before 555 came to be used as a dummy area code. – Hugo May 4 '15 at 10:16

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