1947 History, Fun Facts and Trivia

1947 History, Fun Facts and Trivia

Quick Facts from 1947

  • World Changing Event: The first general-purpose computer, the almost 30-ton ENIAC ), contained 18,000 vacuum tubes, 70,000 resistors, and 10,000 capacitors.
  • Influential Songs include Heartaches by Ted Weems, and This Land Is Your Land by Woody Guthrie.
  • The Movies to Watch include Miracle on 34th Street, Gentleman’s Agreement, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, My Favorite Brunette, Possessed, The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer and The Ghost and Mrs. Muir
  • The Most Famous Person in the World was probably Bob Hope
  • Notable books include Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown and A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams
  • Price of Flexible Flyer Sled in 1947: $8.95
  • The Funny Guy was Bob Hope
  • The Conversation: Was it aliens or a government weather balloon that
    crashed in Roswell, New Mexico?

Top Ten Baby Names of 1947

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

Fashion Icons and Sex Symbols

Ava Gardner, Gene Tierney, Dorothy Dandridge, Rita Hayworth, Lauren Bacall, Lana Turner, Betty Grable

Entertainment History: The Oscar

The 19th Academy Awards took place on March 13, 1947, at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. The host for the evening was Jack Benny. The Best Years of Our Lives, a film about servicemen trying to adjust to civilian life after World War II, was the big winner, scooping up seven Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Director for William Wyler, and Best Actor for Fredric March. Harold Russell, a non-professional actor who lost both hands during WWII, received two Oscars for the same role in the film—a Best Supporting Actor award and a special Oscar for “bringing hope and courage to his fellow veterans.” For music lovers, Song of the South won for Best Original Song with Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah. The eligibility for these awards covered films released between December 1, 1945, and December 31, 1946. Trivia alert: This was the first year the Academy Awards were televised—though only to audiences in and around Los Angeles.

“The Quote”

“I have always depended on the kindness of strangers” from A Streetcar Named Desire.

Time Magazine’s Man of the Year

George Marshall

Miss America

Barbara Walker (Memphis, TN)

The Biggest Pop Artists of 1947 include

The Andrews Sisters, Count Basie and His Orchestra, Tex Beneke, Les Brown and His Orchestra, Frankie Carle and His Orchestra, Buddy Clark, Nat ‘King’ Cole, Perry Como, Bing Crosby, Vic Damone, Arthur Godfrey, Harmonicats, Phil Harris, Dick Haymes, Woody Herman and His Orchestra, Eddy Howard, Red Ingle and the Natural Seven, Harry James and His Orchestra, Louis Jordan, Sammy Kaye, Stan Kenton and His Orchestra, Frankie Laine, Peggy Lee, Guy Lombardo, and His Royal Canadians, Johnny Mercer, Vaughn Monroe, Pied Pipers, Alvino Rey, and His Orchestra, Dinah Shore, Frank Sinatra, Jo Stafford, The Three Suns, Martha Tilton, Ted Weems, and His Orchestra, Margaret Whiting, Tex Williams

Jackie Robinson

Jackie Robinson was the first African American player to play in Major League Baseball and broke the color barrier in a sport that had been segregated for more than 50 years.

Robinson was born Jackie Roosevelt Robinson on January 31, 1919, in Cairo, Georgia. Jackie’s father left his family when Jackie was only two years old, and Jackie grew up with a mother whose parents were both former slaves.

Jackie had one brother who died at age three from spinal meningitis. His older sister Daisy took care of Jackie and his younger brother Mack. Jackie Robinson attended the University of California, Los Angeles, on a football scholarship but was drafted into the army in 1942. Jackie served in the military for two years before being discharged in 1944.

Jackie started playing baseball while serving in the army, and after being discharged, he played for the Negro League’s Kansas City Monarchs. Jackie was signed by the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1945 and played for their minor league team, the Montreal Royals. Jackie made his debut with the Brooklyn Dodgers on April 15, 1947. Jackie Robinson was a six-time all-star and won Rookie of the Year in 1947. He also won the National League MVP award in 1949. Jackie Robinson retired from baseball in 1957 and died on October 24, 1972.

He is remembered as a civil rights pioneer who helped break the color barrier in Major League Baseball. Jackie’s number 42 was retired by Commissioner Bud Selig in 1997 to honor Jackie’s legacy and his contributions to baseball and civil rights. Jackie Robinson was a great role model for kids and adults and will always be remembered as one of the most influential figures in sports history.

The Disaster

In 1947, the SS Grandcamp docked and loaded with over 7,000 tons of ammonium nitrate, exploded in the Port of Texas City, killing 581 and injuring over 5,000. The explosion was equivalent to 3.2 kilotons of TNT, making it one of the largest non-nuclear explosions in history.

1947 Pop Culture Facts & History

Thor Heyerdahl undertook his Kon-Tiki expedition in 1947, in which he sailed 8,000 km (5,000 mi) across the Pacific Ocean in a hand-built raft from South America to the Tuamotu Islands to prove the Ancients could have accomplished this too.

The first animals in space were fruit flies, launched in a V-2 rocket by the United States in 1947. The fruit flies were recovered alive.

The United States’ “constitutionally mandated presidential address” changed names.  From 1790 through  1946, it “was formally known as the Annual Message.” Since 1947, we call it “the State of the Union Address”.

Major League Baseball allowed black players, starting with Jackie Robinson.

Wataru Misaka was the first person of Asian descent to be drafted into the NBA (known as BAA at the time).

Princeton was the last Ivy League college to admit a black student in 1947. That was 90 years after Yale admitted its first black student in 1857.

The Superman radio show did a series called “Clan of the Fiery Cross,” in which they exposed many of the KKK’s most guarded secrets. Membership dwindled in the months after the show.

Meet the Press is the longest-running TV show in history. It began broadcasting in November 1947.

Before The Flintstones, the first couple shown in a bed was from a sitcom called Mary Kay and Johnny (1947).

Every California license plate since 1947 has been made in the infamous Folsom State Prison, where inmates produce 45,000-50,000 plates daily.

The two-term limit for the U.S. Presidency only came into effect in 1947, following Franklin D. Roosevelt’s four election wins. Before then, it was only a tradition to serve two terms, following the unofficial precedent set by George Washington.

The British used 6800 tons of surplus WW2 explosives to destroy military infrastructure on the tiny island of Heligoland. The loss of the island was considered acceptable. The explosion resulted in one of the largest single non-nuclear detonations recorded.

The first course in entrepreneurship was offered at the Harvard Business School in 1947 by Myles Mace.

1980s sitcom Mr. Belvedere was based on a 1947 novel that became a 1948 movie called Sitting Pretty. The movie spawned two sequels and earned the actor who played Mr. Belvedere an Academy Award nomination.

When Linda McCartney was four years old, her lawyer’s father asked a client (Jack Lawrence) to write a song named after her. Linda was recorded by Ray Noble and Buddy Clark and hit #1 in May 1947. The song was re-recorded in 1963, reaching #28 on Billboard,  by Jan and Dean.

Prince Philip was not allowed to invite his three sisters to his wedding to Princess (now Queen) Elizabeth in 1947 because they were all married to German noblemen, which would have been considered inappropriate in postwar Britain. When Queen Elizabeth II married Prince Philip in 1947, their wedding cake was 9 feet tall, and she had to save up post-war clothing ration coupons to pay for her wedding dress.
Fun Fact: Queen Elizabeth II and her husband, Prince Philip, started dating when he was 18 and she was 13.

Suicide: Evelyn McHale’s note read, “He is much better off without me … I wouldn’t make a good wife for anybody,” then she jumped to her death from atop the Empire State Building, landing on a United Nations vehicle. Visual artist Andy Warhol later used the photo in one of his paintings entitled Suicide.

Chung Ju-Yung, the founder of Hyundai, originally wanted to become a school teacher, but his family’s dire financial situation made him unable to get higher education. Instead, he ran away from his family to Seoul, where he started the Hyundai construction company in 1947.

The Air Force, the Department of Defense, The Joint Chiefs of Staff, the National Security Council, and the CIA were all founded by The National Security Act of 1947, two weeks after the Roswell Incident.

A UFO may have crash-landed in Roswell, New Mexico. The United States Air Force and military have denied this ever happened but have released several hole-filled stories about whatever did happen there*.

*Unrelated? Project Mogul was a US Air Force secret project to detect nuclear tests acoustically with microphones mounted on high-altitude balloons. When one such balloon crashed in Roswell, NM, in 1947, they covered it up by saying it was a weather balloon.

On July 10, 1947, Idaho Senator Glen Taylor said: “I almost wish the flying saucers would turn out to be spaceships from another planet because the possibility of hostility would unify the people of the earth as nothing else could.”

A British South American Airways flight usually flew over the Andes Mountains, about 4 minutes from landing, but it sent a Morse Code message ‘STENDEC’ three consecutive times, then vanished; the wreckage was found in 1998 on  Mount Tupungato. To this day, what ‘STENDEC’ meant is a mystery.

The Transistor was invented by John Bardeen, Walter Brattain, and William Shockley. It was later presented to the world in 1948.

The Howdy Doody Show appeared on NBC and ran until 1960. Host Buffalo Bob Smith was from Buffalo, New York. Howdy Doody had/has a freckle for every state in the United States. (that would be 50 today) The Howdy Doody Show was the first television show targeted towards children.

After the murder of Elizabeth Short (better known as the Black Dahlia), reporters from the Los Angeles Examiner called her mother, telling her that her daughter had won a beauty contest; once they pried enough personal information for their story, they informed her that her daughter had been murdered.

Bing Crosby’s recording of White Christmas was so popular that he had to re-record it in 1947 using the same musicians and backup singers in the 1942 original master because it had become damaged due to its frequent use. There was no digital recording in the 1940s.

Chuck Yeager became the first person to fly faster than the speed of sound, piloting a Bell XS-1.

Meredith Baxter Birney and Michael Gross, who played the parents on Family Ties, were born on the same day, June 21, 1947.

The first Cannes Film Festival was held in Cannes, France.

The term “bug” for a software malfunction was traced back to a moth stuck in the system at Harvard. The term had been used for errors in products before that as well.

The Christmas tree in London’s Trafalgar Square has been given by the country of Norway every year since 1947. It is a token of appreciation for the friendship of the British people during World War II.

Mikhail Kalashnikov presented his invention, the Avtomat Kalashnikova Obrazets 1947, better known as the AK-47.

The first person to be blacklisted from the film industry was a man named Dalton Trumbo because of his link to Communism in 1947.

After World War II, Americans craving a front yard and home of their own began moving out of the crowded cities and into the suburbs. The first and most famous suburb, Levittown, opened in New York this year and was named after Levitt and Sons, the construction firm that built the suburb. Scientists theorize suburbanization caused Americans to become dependent on automobiles, an increase in air pollution, dependence on foreign oil, and a rising obesity rate.

The ZIKA virus was discovered in the Zika forest of Uganda in 1947.

Doomsday Clock

Seven minutes to midnight, according to the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists.
1947: As the Bulletin evolves from a newsletter into a magazine, the Clock appears on the cover for the first time. It symbolizes the urgency of the nuclear dangers that the magazine’s founders–and the broader scientific community–are trying to convey to the public and political leaders around the world.

1st Appearances & 1947’s Most Popular Christmas Gifts, Toys and Presents

Steel Pogo Sticks, John Deere Die-Cast Tractor, Lionel Trains Milk Car, Tonka Trucks

The Igloo portable cooler was introduced.

Edward Lowe invented Kitty Litter®.

Wham-O introduced its first product – a slingshot. The company name came from the sound of a slingshot hitting a target.

Nobel Prize Winners

Physics – Edward Victor Appleton
Chemistry – Sir Robert Robinson
Medicine – Carl Ferdinand Cori, Gerty Cori, Bernardo Houssay
Literature – André Gide
Peace – The Friends Service Council (UK) and The American Friends Service Committee (USA), on behalf of the Religious Society of Friends

Popular and Best-selling Books From 1947

A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams
B.F.’s Daughter by John P. Marquand
The Diary of a Young Girl (aka The Diary of Anne Frank) by Anne Frank
East Side, West Side by Marcia Davenport
Gentleman’s Agreement by Laura Z. Hobson
Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown
House Divided by Ben Ames Williams
Kingsblood Royal by Sinclair Lewis
Lydia Bailey by Kenneth Roberts
The Miracle of the Bells by Russell Janney
The Moneyman by Thomas B. Costain
Prince of Foxes by Samuel Shellabarger
The Vixens by Frank Yerby
The Wayward Bus by John Steinbeck

Best Film Oscar Winner

The Best Years of Our Lives (presented in 1947)


World Series Champions: New York Yankees
NFL Champions: Chicago Cardinals
NBA Champions: Philadelphia Warriors
Stanley Cup Champs: Toronto Maple Leafs
U.S. Open Golf Lew Worsham
U.S. Tennis: (Men/Ladies) Jack Kramer/Pauline Betz
Wimbledon (Men/Women): Jack Kramer/Margaret Osbourne
NCAA Football Champions: Notre Dame
NCAA Basketball Champions: Holy Cross
Kentucky Derby: Jet Pilot

More 1947 Facts & History Resources:

Most Popular Baby Names (BabyCenter.com)
Popular and Notable Books (popculture.us)
Broadway Shows that Opened in 1947
1947 Calendar, courtesy of Time and Date.com
Fact Monster
Forties Nostalgia
1940s, Infoplease.com World History
1947 in Movies (according to IMDB)
Retrowaste Vintage Culture
1940s Slang
Wikipedia 1947
National Security Act of 1947
The Truman Doctrine