1944 Pop Culture Fun Facts, Trivia and History

1944 Fun Facts, Trivia and History

Quick Facts from 1944

  • World Changing Event: D-Day took place on June 6, 1944, in Normandy, France, with the Allied invasion of Nazi-occupied Europe.
  • Another World-Changing Event: The Bretton Woods Conference ended with agreements signed to set up the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
  • Popular Songs include: You Always Hurt The One You Love by The Mills Brothers, Don’t Fence Me In by Bing Crosby and The Andrew Sisters, and It Had to Be You by Helen Forest and Dick Haymes.
  • The Movies to Watch include Meet Me in St. Louis, To Have and Have Not, National Velvet, Gaslight, Arsenic and Old Lace, Laura, Hollywood Canteen and Double Indemnity
  • The Most Famous Person in America was probably Bing Crosby
  • Notable books include The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams and Strange Fruit by Lillian Smith
  • The price of 1 pound of Velveeta Cheese in 1944 42 cents
  • The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet radio show debuted.
  • The Machine: IBM announced the first program-controlled calculator, the Automatic Sequence Controlled Calculator (The Harvard Mark I).

Top Ten Baby Names of 1944

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

US Life Expectancy

1944 Males: 63.6 years, Females: 66.8 years

The Stars

Lauren Bacall, Ingrid Bergman, Betty Grable, Rita Hayworth, Lena Horne, Veronica Lake, Carole Landis, Alexis Smith, Jane Russell, Gene Tierney, Lana Turner

Entertainment History: The Oscars

The 16th Academy Awards were held on March 2, 1944, at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in Los Angeles. Bob Hope served as the host for the fourth time. Casablanca dominated the evening, winning Best Picture, Best Director for Michael Curtiz, and Best Adapted Screenplay. Humphrey Bogart was nominated for Best Actor for his iconic role but lost to Paul Lukas for Watch on the Rhine. The film The Song of Bernadette received the most nominations, with 12 but only won four awards, including Best Actress for Jennifer Jones. The eligibility period for this ceremony was the calendar year of 1943. One interesting trivia note: Harold Russell, a non-professional actor who lost both hands in a training accident during World War II, won two Oscars for his role in The Best Years of Our Lives—Best Supporting Actor and a special award “for bringing hope and courage to his fellow veterans.”

Miss America

Venus Ramey (Washington, DC)

Time Magazine’s Man of the Year

Dwight D. Eisenhower

Firsts, Inventions, and Wonders

The first issue of Human Events Magazine was published in Washington, D.C.

The United Negro College Fund was incorporated.

The New York Times didn’t mention the word ‘pizza until’ 1944, 40 years after the first pizzeria came to New York City.

The original stage version of The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams premiered in Chicago.

Florence Foster Jenkins gave a recital in Carnegie Hall.

1944 Pop Culture Facts & History

In 1944, Mary Babnik Brown became the first woman to have her hair used in crosshairs for military aircraft bombsights. The hair had to fit strict criteria such as being blonde, over 22 inches long and never been treated with chemicals or hot irons.

Hitler gave orders to destroy Paris on the eve of the Allied liberation in 1944, but the Nazi German General Dietrich von Choltitz (in command) deliberately ignored the order. Frenchman Pierre Taittinger probably talked him out of giving the order.

The 1944 Summer Olympics, scheduled for London (together with the February Winter Olympics scheduled for Cortina d’Ampezzo in Italy), were suspended due to WWII.

Baseball Legend Jackie Robinson was once ordered to move to the back of a bus while in uniform. Robinson refused and received a court-martial. An army court found that Robinson was completely within his rights and fully acquitted the future baseball star.

Big Band composer/musician Glenn Miller went missing in action over the English Channel in 1944, and no trace of him has ever been found.

In 1944, Russia captured an American B-29 bomber. Stalin demanded exact clones be made for the Russian air force. A small hole was found on the left wing of the captured aircraft due to a manufacturing mistake. All Russian TU-4 bombers included an unnecessary hole in the left wing. #copycat

The term ‘Gaslighting’ comes from a 1938 play and a 1944 movie called Gas Light.

Hans Asperger published his paper on Asperger syndrome. He later said, “It seems that for success in science and art, a dash of autism is essential. The necessary ingredient may be an ability to turn away from the everyday world, to rethink a subject with originality so as to create in new untrodden ways.”

The US and the USSR’s only direct military confrontation happened in October 1944 over the Serbian town of Niš, Serbia. Both governments consider it a top secret, and the exact number of casualties is unknown.

The cause of Celiac (Coeliac) Disease, gluten intolerance, was discovered during the Dutch famine of 1944 when wheat was scarce.

A crossword puzzle was printed in The Daily Telegraph with some answers containing D-Day operation “code names,” which sent MI-5 into a panic, thinking their invasion plans had been discovered. The code words included Utah, Neptune, Omaha, Mulberry, and Overlord.

The New York Dodgers, Giants, and Yankees played a “tri-cornered game,” which consisted of all three teams competing against each other and rotating between fielding, batting, and resting.

The Disasters

Over 100 children died among the 167 deaths in The Hartford Circus Fire, one of the worst fire disasters in the history of the United States.

Cleveland East Ohio Gas Explosion: An above-ground natural gas storage tank began to leak. The gas eventually made its way into the sewers of Cleveland and ignited, blowing manhole covers miles away and shooting flames up through the plumbing of homes. 130 people were killed.

Popular Quotes

“You know how to whistle, don’t you, Steve? You just put your lips together and blow.”
– Lauren Bacall, in To Have and To Have Not

“Only you can prevent forest fires.”
– United States Forest Service

Broadway Show

Harvey (Play) Opened on November 1, 1944, and closed on January 15, 1949

Nobel Prize Winners

Physics – Isidor Isaac Rabi
Chemistry – Otto Hahn*
Medicine – Joseph Erlanger, Herbert Spencer Gasser
Literature – Johannes V. Jensen
Peace – International Committee of the Red Cross
*Even though Lise Meitner co-discovered nuclear fission of uranium, she did not receive the 1944 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for that discovery. Only her associate, Otto Hahn, did. In the 1990s, the decision was called ‘unjust’ by many scientists, and she has had several posthumous awards since then, including naming chemical element 109 meitnerium after her in 1992.

Popular and Best-selling Books From 1944

A Bell for Adano by John Hersey
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
The Apostle by Sholem Asch
Forever Amber by Kathleen Winsor
The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams
Green Dolphin Street by Elizabeth Goudge
The Green Years by A.J. Cronin
Leave Her to Heaven by Ben Ames Williams
The Razor’s Edge by W. Somerset Maugham
The Robe by Lloyd C. Douglas
Strange Fruit by Lillian Smith
The Tall Book of Nursery Tales by Feodor Rojankovsky


World Series Champions: St. Louis Cardinals
NFL Champs: Green Bay Packers
Stanley Cup Champs: Montreal Canadians
U.S. Open Golf: Not played due to WWII
U.S. Tennis (Men/Ladies): Sgt. Frank Parker/Pauline Betz
Wimbledon (Men/Women): not held
NCAA Football Champions: Army
NCAA Basketball Champions: Utah
Kentucky Derby Winner: Pensive
Boston Marathon Winner: Gérard Côté Time: 2:31:50

More 1944 Facts & History Resources:

Most Popular Baby Names (BabyCenter.com)
Popular and Notable Books (popculture.us)
Broadway Shows that Opened in 1944
1944 Calendar, courtesy of Time and Date.com
Fact Monster
Forties Nostalgia
1940s, Infoplease.com World History
1944 in Movies (according to IMDB)
Retrowaste Vintage Culture
1940s Slang
Wikipedia 1944
D-Day June 6, 1944