1944 Pop Culture History, Trivia and Fun Facts

1944 Fun Facts, Trivia and History

Quick Facts from 1944:

  • World Changing Event: D-Day took place on June 6, 1944, Normandy, France with the Allied invasion into 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, General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, and 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
  • Price of 1 pound 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
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.

Pop Culture News:
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 as a result of a manufacturing mistake. All Russian TU-4 bombers included the 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. It is considered top secret by both governments, and the exact number of casualties is unknown.

The cause of Celiac (Coeliac) Disease, the intolerance to gluten, 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: 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 several posthumous awards since then, including naming chemical element 109 meitnerium after her in 1992.
Popular and Notable 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