1943 Facts, Fun Trivia and History

1943 History, Facts and Trivia

Quick Facts from 1943:

  • World Changing Event: Nachos were invented circa 1943 by Ignacio “Nacho” Anaya in Piedras Negras, Coahuila, Mexico.
  • Influential Songs include: Paper Doll by The Mills Brothers
  • The Movies to Watch include The Ox-Bow Incident, Cabin in the Sky, For Whom the Bell Tolls, A Guy Named Joe, Lassie Come Home, This is the Army, Shadow of a Doubt, and The Song of Bernadette
  • The Most Famous Person in America was probably Betty Grable
  • Notable books include A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
  • Price of 12 Quart sized Mason Jars in 1943: 98 cents
  • The Football Team(s): Due to a player shortage caused by WWII, The Pittsburgh Steelers and The Philadelphia Eagles merged and were known as the Steagles.
  • The Mystery: The USS Eldridge, docked at the Philadelphia Naval Yard, reportedly disappeared for a few minutes in a ‘transporter experiment,’ after which crew members reportedly suffered from sporadic invisibility, madness, and spontaneous combustion. The 1984 film, The Philadelphia Experiment was very loosely based on this report.
  • On August 13, 1943, J. Edgar Hoover received a letter alleging that the popularity of Frank Sinatra was being used to prepare the masses to accept a new “Hitler.” The FBI kept surveillance over Sinatra for the next 40 years.

Significant 1943 History:

  • January: The Battle of Stalingrad ended, with Soviet forces successfully driving German troops out of the city. This was a significant turning point in the war and dealt a heavy blow to German morale.
  • February: General Dwight D. Eisenhower was selected to command the Allied armies in Europe.
  • March: Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Oklahoma! opened on Broadway, heralding a new era in “integrated” stage musicals.
  • April: The Jefferson Memorial in Washington, DC, was dedicated on the 200th anniversary of Thomas Jefferson’s birthday.
  • May: The United States Army contracted with the University of Pennsylvania’s Moore School to develop the computer ENIAC.
  • June: The first game of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League was played.
  • July: The Allies launched Operation Husky, the invasion of Sicily. This operation marked the first major Allied offensive against the Axis powers in Europe and was a prelude to the eventual invasion of mainland Italy.
  • August: The Allies bombed the Ploesti oil fields in Romania, a significant fuel source for the German war effort.
  • September: The Allies invaded Italy, with British and American forces landing on the southern coast. Italian dictator Benito Mussolini was overthrown and arrested.
  • October: The Battle of Kursk, the largest tank battle in history, occurred in the Soviet Union. The Soviet Red Army successfully repelled a German offensive, further turning the tide of the war on the Eastern front.
  • November: The Tehran Conference took place, with leaders of the Soviet Union, the United States, and the United Kingdom meeting to discuss strategy for the war.
  • December: The Battle of Berlin began; it was the last and one of the bloodiest battles of the Second World War in Europe.

Top Ten Baby Names of 1943

Mary, Barbara, Patricia, Linda, Carol, James, Robert, John, William, Richard

US Life Expectancy

1943 Males: 62.4 years, Females: 64.4 years

The Stars

Ingrid Bergman, Betty Grable, Rita Hayworth, Lena Horne, Veronica Lake, Hedy Lamarr, Carole Landis, Brenda Marshall, Jane Russell, Alexis Smith, Gene Tierney, Lana Turner

Entertainment History: The Oscars

The 15th Academy Awards occurred on March 4, 1943, at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles. The ceremony was hosted by Bob Hope, marking his third time as the master of ceremonies. The film Mrs. Miniver was the star of the night, winning six Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Director for William Wyler, and Best Actress for Greer Garson. Her acceptance speech, clocking in at around five and a half minutes, became legendary for its length. James Cagney won Best Actor for his energetic portrayal of George M. Cohan in Yankee Doodle Dandy. The eligibility year for these awards was from January 1 to December 31, 1942. This was the first year the Best Animated Short category was introduced, with the award going to Der Fuehrer’s Face, a Walt Disney cartoon featuring Donald Duck in a satirical jab at Nazi Germany.

Miss America

Jean Bartel (Los Angeles, CA)

Time Magazine’s Man of the Year

George Marshall

Firsts, Inventions, and Wonders

Jacques-Yves Cousteau and Émile Gagnan invented the first commercially successful open circuit type of scuba diving equipment, the Aqua-lung.

A Mexican farmer, Dionisio Pulido, had a volcano (Volcán de Parícutin) start forming in his cornfield. By the early 1950s, it was over 400 meters tall. Before being evacuated and leaving his home for the last time, he left a sign that read, “This volcano is owned and operated by Dionisio Pulido.” In 1997, CNN included Parícutin in its list of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World.

Pizza Uno first created the first Deep-Dish Pizza in 1943.

Bea Arthur (Dorothy from The Golden Girls) was a US Marine from 1943 to 1945 with an honorably discharged rank of staff sergeant.

Vicodin and Lortab were first produced in Germany.

1943 ‘Wartime’ Pennies and Nickels

‘Wartime nickels’ aka ‘war nickels’ were minted from 1943 to 1945. The temporary composition was 56% copper, 35% silver, and 9% manganese. Minted in 1938, the original design of the Jefferson nickel was created by Felix Schlag.

1943 Silver Pennies – Like nickel, copper was needed for the war effort. 1943 steel pennies were made with low-grade steel and coated with zinc. They had previously been made with a 95 percent copper-based bronze. The Mint switched back to creating copper pennies in 1944.
An estimated 40 copper pennies were created by accident in 1943 and have become some of the most valuable and sought-after coins by collectors.

World War II News

In Russia, the Battle of Stalingrad came to an end with the surrender of the German 6th Army.

Stalin’s son, Yakov Dzhugashvili, was captured by the Germans during World War 2. The Germans proposed a prisoner exchange: Stalin’s son for a German Field Marshall. Stalin’s response to this request was, ”I will not trade a Marshall for a Lieutenant.” His son died in 1943.

US General Dwight D. Eisenhower became the supreme Allied commander.

On November 5th, four bombs were dropped on the neutral Vatican City. The aircraft responsible was never identified.

The Pentagon, considered to be the world’s largest office building, was completed.

During a press conference in June 1943, Congressman Andrew May noted that Japanese depth charges detonated too soon to be effective. After the press releases, the Japanese changed depth-charge tactics, killing 800 US submariners.

The Four Chaplains of the U.S. Army were among those who drowned when their ship, Dorchester, was struck by a German torpedo in the North Atlantic.

The Gloster Meteor, the first Allied jet fighter, was introduced.

In the United States, rationing included gasoline, canned food, meat, shoes,  cheese, butter, and cooking oils.

Due to wartime blackouts, a no-lit New Year’s Eve Ball was held at One Times Square in 1942 and 1943.

The RMS Queen Mary carried 16,683 American troops from New York to Great Britain, the (still) standing record for the most passengers ever transported on one vessel.

Future American President John F. Kennedy’s command, the PT-109, was sunk by a Japanese destroyer, the Amagiri. Kennedy was awarded the Purple Heart for injuries he sustained in the collision.

The Rescue

Brazilian fishermen rescued Chinese steward Poon Lim after being adrift for 130 days.

Pop Culture History

Duke Ellington played at New York City’s Carnegie Hall for the first time.

The Conical Bra was made famous by Jane Russell.

January 22, 1943, the temperature in Spearfish, South Dakota, changed from -4°F to 45°F in just two minutes, setting a world record. This was caused by a Chinook wind, which eventually increased the temperature to 54°F before dying down, dropping the temperature back to -4°F.

Sliced bread was banned temporarily in the United States in 1943 for wartime conservation.

The Governor-General of Canada declared Princess Juliana of the Netherlands’ hospital room extraterritorial so that her child born would still be in the line of succession.

Because so many players joined the WWII military service, the Pittsburgh Steelers and Philadelphia Eagles combined to become the Steagles during the 1943 season.

Disney made an animated short with Donald Duck titled Der Fuehrer’s Face to mock Hitler and the Nazis.

David Niven was the only British star in Hollywood to enlist during World War 2. When suspicious American guards asked during the Battle of the Bulge who had won the World Series in 1943, he answered, “Haven’t the foggiest idea … but I did co-star with Ginger Rogers in Bachelor Mother!”

Due to a player shortage caused by WWII, The Pittsburgh Steelers and The Philadelphia Eagles merged and were known as the Steagles.

On July 1st, the U.S. government started the payroll withholding tax.

Kryptonite, the only substance that can hurt or even kill Superman, was created as a plot device to allow his radio voice actor (1943) to take some time off, not from the comic books.

The first person ever diagnosed with autism was Mississippi resident Donald Triplett in 1943.

The Zoot Suit Riots erupted between military personnel and Mexican-American youths in East Los Angeles in early June.

Philip Morris ran an ad acknowledging Smoker’s cough in 1943. They claimed it was caused by smoking brands other than Philip Morris.

Oklahoma! was the first great American Musical. It was the first musical play that genuinely added a full story to the production. Older musicals primarily had a loose plot revolving around songs and often major dance and stage productions. The show began on March 31, 1943, and ran for 2,212 performances through its initial run, ending in 1948. It has had many revivals as well.

Packard Motors promoted three blacks to work next to whites on the assembly line, causing 25,000 workers to walk off the job.

Chinese immigrants were officially banned from the United States for 61 years (1882 to 1943).

Mohandas Gandhi held a hunger strike from February 10 until March 3,  to protest his imprisonment.

Norman Rockwell’s Rosie the Riveter first appeared on the cover of The Saturday Evening Post.

The Biggest Films of 1943

1. This is the Army
2. For Whom the Bell Tolls
3. The Song of Bernadette
4. Stage Door Canteen
5. Star-Spangled Rhythm
6. Casablanca (Pop Culture Classic)
7. Cabin in the Sky (Pop Culture Classic)
8. The Outlaw
9. Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (Pop Culture Classic)
10. Lassie Come Home (Pop Culture Classic)
11. The Ox-Bow Incident
12. To The Shores of Tripoli
13. Girl Crazy
14. Watch on the Rhine
15. A Guy Named Joe
16. Thousands Cheer
17. Jitterbugs
18. Batman (Columbia Pictures serial)
19. Cry ‘Havoc’
20. I Walked with a Zombie
*Movies beyond the Top Five are based on (a somewhat subjective) ranking based on how much they had a long-lasting effect on Pop Culture.

The Disasters

An explosion at Smith Mine #3 in Bearcreek, Montana, United States, killed 74 coal miners.

Gulf Hotel fire: A fire at the Gulf Hotel in Houston, Texas, killed 55 people.

Popular Quote

“Grown-ups never understand anything for themselves, and it is tiresome for children to be always and forever explaining things to them.”
– The Little Prince

Unpopular Quote:
Thomas Watson, chairman of IBM, said in 1943, “I think there is a world market for maybe five computers.”

Broadway Shows

The Voice of the Turtle (Play) Opened on December 8, 1943, and closed on January 3, 1948
 Oklahoma! (Musical) Opened on March 31, 1943, and closed on May 29, 1948

Nobel Prizes

Physics – Otto Stern
Chemistry – George de Hevesy
Physiology or Medicine – Carl Peter Henrik Dam, Edward Adelbert Doisy
Literature – not awarded
Peace – not awarded

Popular and Best-selling Books From 1943

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
The Apostle by Sholem Asch
The Forest and the Fort by Hervey Allen
The Fountainhead – Ayn Rand
The Human Comedy by William Saroyan
Hungry Hill by Daphne du Maurier
The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Mrs. Parkington by Louis Bromfield
The Robe by Lloyd C. Douglas
So Little Time by John P. Marquand
The Song of Bernadette by Franz Werfel
The Valley of Decision by Marcia Davenport


World Series Champions: New York Yankees
NFL Champs: Chicago Bears
Stanley Cup Champs: Detroit Red Wings
U.S. Open Golf: Not played due to WWII
U.S. Tennis (Men/Ladies): Lt. Joseph R. Hunt/Pauline Betz
Wimbledon (Men/Women): not held
NCAA Football Champions: Notre Dame
NCAA Basketball Champions: Wyoming
Kentucky Derby Winner: Pensive
Boston Marathon Winner: Gérard Côté Time: 2:28:25

More 1943 Facts & History Resources:

Most Popular Baby Names (BabyCenter.com)
Popular and Notable Books (popculture.us)
Broadway Shows that Opened in 1943
1943 Calendar, courtesy of Time and Date.com
Fact Monster
Forties Nostalgia
1940s, Infoplease.com World History
1943 in Movies (according to IMDB)
Retrowaste Vintage Culture
1940s Slang
Wikipedia 1943
WW II Timeline: 1943