1949 Trivia, History and Fun Facts

1949 Trivia, History and Fun Facts

Quick Facts from 1949

  • World Changing Event: On April 4, 1949, The North Atlantic Treaty was signed, making the United States closer to our European allies.
  • Influential Songs include Some Enchanted Evening from the musical South Pacific and the now-controversial Baby It’s Cold Outside by various duos.
  • The Movies to Watch include Mighty Joe Young, She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, White Heat, Twelve O’Clock High, Samson and Delilah, The Third Man, Adam’s Rib, and A Letter to Three Wives.
  • The Most Famous Person in America was probably Bob Hope
  • Notable books include: 1984 by George Orwell
  • Price of 1 pound of bacon in 1949: 49 cents
  • US Life Expectancy: Males: 65.2 years, Females: 70.7 years
  • The Funny Duo was: Abbott and Costello
    The Funny Guy was Milton Berle
  • The First: The first science fiction television series was Captain Video and His Video Rangers, airing from 1949 to 1955.

Top Ten Baby Names of 1949

Linda, Mary, Patricia, Barbara, Susan, James, Robert, John, William, Michael

Fashion Icons and Sex Symbols

Lauren Bacall, Ingrid Bergman, Martine Carol, Ava Gardner, Rita Hayworth, Hedy Lamarr, Marilyn Monroe, Jane Russell, Lana Turner

Oscars: 21st Academy Awards

The 21st Academy Awards ceremony took place on March 24, 1949, and returned to the Academy Award Theater in Hollywood, breaking from the larger Shrine Auditorium of the previous year. Robert Montgomery was the host for the evening. The film Hamlet made history by becoming the first non-American film to win the Best Picture award. Laurence Olivier starred in and directed Hamlet, earning him the Best Actor award. The Best Actress trophy went to Jane Wyman for her role in Johnny Belinda. This ceremony is particularly notable because it was the first time the Best Foreign Language Film category was introduced, although it was only a special honorary award then.

Emmy Awards: 1st Primetime Emmy Awards

The first Primetime Emmy Awards were held on January 25, 1949, at the Hollywood Athletic Club. Walter O’Keefe hosted the event. Unlike today’s expansive categories, the first Emmy Awards had only six. The Most Outstanding Television Personality award went to ventriloquist Shirley Dinsdale for her work on Judy Splinters. Meanwhile, the “Station Award” for the best overall programming was given to KTLA, a local station in Los Angeles. The first Emmy Awards were focused primarily on Los Angeles programming and were less of a national event compared to what they’ve become today.

Both ceremonies marked significant moments in their respective histories: the Oscars for adding a new category and the Emmys for their very inception. The eligibility period for the Oscars was from January 1, 1948, to December 31, 1948, while the Emmy Awards primarily focused on Los Angeles-area programming without a specific eligibility window.

“The Quotes”

“Meep Meep”
– The Road-runner

“Made it, Ma! Top of the world!”
– James Cagney, in White Heat

“What a dump.”
– Bette Davis, in Beyond the Forest

Time Magazine’s Man of the Year

Winston Churchill

Miss America

Jacque Mercer (Litchfield, AZ)

The Biggest Pop Artists of 1949 include

The Andrews Sisters, Buddy Clark, Perry Como, Bing Crosby, Vic Damone, Gordon Jenkins and His Orchestra, Dick Haymes, Eddy Howard, Sammy Kaye, Frankie Laine, Peggy Lee, Guy Lombardo and His Royal Canadians, Tony Martin, Art Mooney, Russ Morgan, Vaughn Monroe, Gordon MacRae, Tony Martin, Art Mooney, Dinah Shore, Frank Sinatra, Jo Stafford, Kay Starr, Mel Torme, Jimmy Wakely, Margaret Whiting

US Politics

January 20, 1949 (Thursday): Second inauguration of Harry S. Truman

1949 Pop Culture Facts & History

Charles Lubin’s small chain of ‘Community Bake Shops’ became the Kitchens of Sara Lee, named after his daughter.

Fast and Furry-ous (cartoon) was released, with the debut of Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner. It was directed by Chuck Jones (credited as Charles M. Jones).

The first “network” television broadcast, as The Dumont Network’s KDKA-TV in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, went on the air, connecting the East Coast and mid-west programming.

The minimum wage jumped from 40 to 75 cents on October 26.

Airplane Celebrity Death: Buddy Clark

The first credit card, Diners Club, was issued in 1949 and made of cardboard. Co-founder Frank McNamara was dining with clients and realized he had forgotten his wallet (his wife paid the tab).

The Basketball Association of America and the National Basketball League merged to form the National Basketball Association (NBA).

The Ladies Pro Golf Association of America was formed in New York.

The first Volkswagon (Type 1) car to arrive in the United States, a 1948 model, was brought to New York by Dutch businessman Ben Pon. There was little interest, and only two were sold that year.

On March 2, the B-50 Superfortress Lucky Lady II, under Captain James Gallagher, landed in Fort Worth, Texas, after completing the first non-stop around-the-world airplane flight, refueling four times in flight.

Dragnet premiered on NBC radio; later, it was a TV series.

At Wimbledon, “Gorgeous Gussie” Moran wore a skirt that exposed her knees, causing Wimbledon officials to complain that she was “bringing vulgarity and sin into tennis”.

The first automatic street light went on in New Milford, CT.

The “Hollywood” sign by Mulholland Drive used to say “Hollywoodland” when it was constructed in 1923, up until 1949.

The first Emmy Awards were presented at the Hollywood Athletic Club.

Jockey Bill Shoemaker won his 1st race in Albany, California.

Grady the Cow, a 1,200-pound cow, got stuck inside a silo on a farm in Yukon, Oklahoma, and captured national media attention. After a few days, Grady was freed and lived until 1961.

On January 19, The cognac-bearing Poe Toaster first appeared at the grave of Edgar Allan Poe.

On January 11, Los Angeles received its first recorded snowfall.

António Egas Moniz was awarded the 1949 Nobel Prize for Medicine for perfecting the lobotomy.

Red Byron won the first NASCAR Sprint Cup.

The Prohibition of Mixed Marriages Act, Act No 55, prohibiting marriage or any sexual relationship between White people and people of other races, was passed in South Africa.

The 45 RPM record was introduced. DJ’s got a pressing of Texarkana Baby/Bouquet Of Roses by Eddy Arnold, The Tennessee Plowboy, And His Guitar. The first large commercial release was You’re Adorable by Perry Como. There were several samples produced before them.

Siam renamed itself Thailand.

By a vote of 37-12, Israel became the 59th member of the United Nations.

Between 1949 and 1952, The White House was completely gutted, leaving only the outer walls around a shell. The mansion was rebuilt using concrete and steel beams instead of its original wooden joists.

The Antiquarian Booksellers Association of America was incorporated in New York.

George Orwell’s dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four was published in London.

Arthur Miller’s tragedy Death of a Salesman opened at the Morosco Theatre in New York City for 742 performances.

The Tragedy

Kathy Fiscus, 3½ years old, died from falling down an abandoned well in San Marino, California.

Doomsday Clock

Three minutes to midnight, according to the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists.
1949: The Soviet Union denies it, but in the fall, President Harry Truman tells the American public that the Soviets tested their first nuclear device, officially starting the arms race. “We do not advise Americans that doomsday is near and that they can expect atomic bombs to start falling on their heads a month or year from now,” the Bulletin explains. “But we think they have reason to be deeply alarmed and to be prepared for grave decisions.”

Television Debuts

On January 10The Goldbergs premiered on CBS
On January 12Arthur Godfrey & His Friends premiered on CBS TV
On January 31, Daytime soap opera These Are My Children premiered on NBC in Chicago
On June 24Hopalong Cassidy became the first network western on NBC.
On June 27, Captain Video & His Video Rangers” debuted on DUMONT-TV.

The Habits

Men started wearing argyle socks, thanks to Brooks Brothers.

Watching Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman on Broadway

1st Appearances & 1949’s Most Popular Christmas Gifts, Toys and Presents

Silly Putty, Candy Land, Kewpie dolls, Cootie*, Clue** (1948 in the U.K.), Bouncing Putty, Wind-up Clacking “Talking Teeth”

Nobel Prize Winners

Physics – Yukawa Hideki
Chemistry – William Francis Giauque
Medicine – Walter Rudolf Hess and António Caetano de Abreu Freire Egas Moniz
Literature – William Faulkner
Peace – John Boyd Orr

Popular and Best-selling Books From 1949

A Rage to Live by John O’Hara
The Big Fisherman by Lloyd C. Douglas
Cutlass Empire by Van Wyck Mason
Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller
Dinner at Antoine’s by Frances Parkinson Keyes
The Egyptian by Mika Waltari
Father of the Bride by Edward Streeter
High Towers by Thomas B. Costain
Mary by Sholem Asch
1984 by George Orwell
Point of No Return by John P. Marquand
Pride’s Castle by Frank Yerby

Best Film Oscar Winner

Hamlet (presented in 1949)

Sports Highlights

World Series Champions: New York Yankees
NFL Champions: Philadelphia Eagles
NBA Champions: Minneapolis Lakers
Stanley Cup Champs: Toronto Maple Leafs
U.S. Open Golf Cary Middlecoff
U.S. Tennis: (Men/Ladies) Richard A. Gonzales/Margaret Osborne DuPont
Wimbledon (Men/Women): Ted Schroeder/Louis Brough
NCAA Football Champions: Notre Dame
NCAA Basketball Champions: Kentucky
Kentucky Derby: Ponder

More 1949 Facts & History Resources:

Most Popular Baby Names (BabyCenter.com)
Popular and Notable Books (popculture.us)
Broadway Shows that Opened in 1949
1949 Calendar, courtesy of Time and Date.com
Fact Monster
Forties Nostalgia
1940s, Infoplease.com World History
1949 in Movies (according to IMDB)
Retrowaste Vintage Culture
1940s Slang
1949 Television
Wikipedia 1949
NATO History