1939 Facts, Fun Trivia and History
Quick Facts from 1939:
Top Ten Baby Names of 1939
Mary, Barbara, Patricia, Betty, Shirley, Robert, James, John, William, Richard
US Life Expectancy
(1939) Males: 62.1 years, Females: 65.4 years
Ingrid Bergman, Claudette Colbert, Olivia de Havilland, Betty Grable, Rita Hayworth, Katharine Hepburn, Hedy Lamarr, Vivien Leigh, Myrna Loy, Brenda Marshall, Ginger Rogers, Barbara Stanwyck, Lana Turner
Entertainment History The Oscars
The 11th Academy Awards unfolded on February 23, 1939, at the Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles. For this ceremony, the host was none other than Frank Capra. The evening’s big winner was You Can’t Take It with You, directed by Capra, which bagged the Best Picture award. Spencer Tracy took home the Best Actor statuette for his role in Boys Town, making it his second win. Meanwhile, Bette Davis claimed Best Actress for her performance in Jezebel. This was the first time the Best Picture nominee pool was limited to 10 films, a rule that lasted until 1943. The film eligibility year was from January 1, 1938, to December 31, 1938. To spice it up with a trivia fact: Walt Disney received an Honorary Award this year for Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, recognized as a “significant screen innovation” that “pioneered a new form of entertainment.”
Patricia Donnelly (Detroit, Michigan)
Time Magazine’s Man of the Year
Firsts, Inventions, and Wonders
The first Thin Mint cookies were baked by the Girl Scouts in 1939.
Founded by Carl Stotz, the first Little League Baseball game was played in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.
In the 1939 film The Women, no men or even male animals or portraits appear on-screen. The only visibly male creatures are a drawing of a bull and an advertisement.
The Westinghouse Time Capsules are two time capsules prepared by the Westinghouse Electric & Manufacturing Company: “Time Capsule I” was created for the 1939 New York World’s Fair, and “Time Capsule II” was created for the 1964 New York World’s Fair. Both are buried 50 feet below Flushing Meadows–Corona Park, the site of both world’s fairs; the 1965 capsule was placed ten feet north of the 1939 capsule. The capsules will be opened simultaneously in 6939, five thousand years after the first capsule was sealed.
Winston Churchill coined “a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma” during his The Russian Enigma broadcast.
The Wizard of Oz, based on L. Frank Baum’s novel, starring Judy Garland as Dorothy, premiered at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in Hollywood. In the original story, Dorothy wore silver slippers to protect her from the Wicked Witch of the West, but this was changed to Ruby Slippers in the film to take advantage of the new Technicolor process.
The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum was officially dedicated in Cooperstown, New York.
Ernest Vincent wrote the book Gadsby, which contains over 50,000 words, all without the letter ‘e.’
David Sarnoff, the president of RCA, declared television would allow “Americans (to) attain the highest general cultural level of any people in the history of the world.”
Pop Culture Facts & History
Playing Card Game Canasta was created by Segundo Santos and Alberto Serrato in Montevideo, Uruguay, in 1939. It spread to the US by the late 1940s.
In 1939, the New York Times predicted that television would fail because the average American family would not have enough time to sit around watching it.
The Magna Carta was on display at the 1939 World’s Fair in New York, but WWII had broken out, and the Magna Carta was moved to Fort Knox for safekeeping until the end of the war.
The Cowardly Lion costume from The Wizard of Oz was made from the skin and fur of a real lion.
Penicillin, discovered in 1925, was tested on humans, curing many diseases, including tuberculosis and gonorrhea. It was the first proper antibiotic.
The American Humane Association is in charge of stating that “no animals were harmed during the making of this film.” They became involved in films because of the 1939’s Jesse James, which included a blindfolded horse forced to jump off a 70-foot cliff.
NBC broadcast its first black-and-white television images. Only approximately 1,000 homes had television sets in the New York area.
The current world record holder for the world’s oldest dog was Bluey, who lived from 1910 to 1939 and died at the age of 29 years and five months.
Bob Feller pitched a game against the White Sox on Mother’s Day, 1939, with his family in attendance. One of his pitches was fouled off into the seats, into his mother’s face right above the right eye, resulting in her needing seven stitches. Feller went on to win the game.
Futurama is named after a 1939 World’s Fair exhibit that showed what they thought the world would be like in 1959.
The Los Angeles Times got the Oscar winner’s names before the official presentations. That’s why Price Waterhouse gained control of holding the winner’s names, although they had been tabulating the votes since 1935.
On March 3, 1939, Harvard freshman Lothrop Withington, Jr, became the first goldfish swallower, winning a $10.00 bet. Other, less adventurous people, were reading John Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath or watching Gone With The Wind in movie theaters.
The release of Gone With the Wind on December 15th was so big that the mayor of Atlanta declared a 3-day festival that concluded with a state holiday on the day of release.
AT&T made a working answering machine in 1939 but suppressed it, thinking public fear of being recorded would lead to widespread abandonment of the telephone.
Lina Medina, a 5-year-old Peruvian girl, gave birth to a baby boy, becoming the youngest confirmed mother in medical history.
In 1939, 20,000 people (Americans) attended a Nazi rally at Madison Square Garden.
Nobel Prize Winners
Physics – Ernest Lawrence
Popular and Best-selling Books From 1939
And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie
World Series Champions: New York Yankees
More 1939 History Resources:
Most Popular Baby Names (BabyCenter.com)