Pop Culture Madness!
Pop Culture Madness!

1931 Trivia, Facts & History

<< - 1930

1931 History Snapshot

  • Natural Disaster: The deadliest natural disaster were the 1931 China floods. They are estimated to have killed as many as 4 million people.
  • Influential Songs include: Mood Indigo by Duke Ellington, I Got Rhythm by Ethal Waters and Pop Standard Goodnight Sweetheart.
  • The Big Movies included Frankenstein, Ingagi and City Lights
  • Thomas Edison's (February 11, 1847 - October 18, 1931) last breath is held in a test tube (one of eight?) at the Henry Ford Museum.
  • Price of a dozen bananas in 1931: 25 cents
  • The World Population was ~ 2,143,000,000
  • Ruth Wakefield is credited with inventing the Chocolate Chip, and the chocolate chip cookie, originally called the "Toll House Cookie".
  • And... Alexander Calder is credited with creating the first artistic mobiles, aka kinetic sculptures.
1931 Books

World Series Champions

St. Louis Cardinals

Stanley Cup Champs

Montreal Canadiens

U.S. Open Golf

Billy Burke

U.S. Tennis (Men/Ladies)

H. Ellsworth Vines/Helen Wills Moody

Wimbledon (Men/Women)

Sidney Wood/Cilly Aussem

NCAA Football Champions


Kentucky Derby

Twenty Grand

1931's New Faces, Top Stars, Models and Actresses

Josephine Baker, Joan Blondell, Claudette Colbert, Greta Garbo, Louise Brooks, Joan Crawford, Marion Davies, Marlene Dietrich, Kay Francis, Jean Harlow, Myrna Loy, Dolores Del Rio, Barbara Stanwyck, Thelma Todd

"The Quotes"

"Listen to them. Children of the night. What music they make."
- Bela Lugosi, in Dracula

"It's alive! It's alive!
- Colin Clive, as Henry Frankenstein, in'Frankenstein*

*In Frankenstein, the line "Now I know what it feels like to be God!" following "It's alive! It's alive!" was censored by audio of a clap of thunder because it was considered blasphemous and was only just restored in 1999, nearly 70 years later. Many of the props used in Mel Brook's Young Frankenstein were from the original Frankenstein movie.

When Romania made their ice hockey World Championship debut in 1931, they lost 0-15 to the US. Their captain approached the referee after the game and asked him to write a message on the official game sheet: "Thank you for playing against us, we have learned a great deal from this game".

When Thomas Edison died, Tesla was the only one to submit a negative opinion of him to the NY Times. "He had no hobby, cared for no sort of amusement of any kind and lived in utter disregard of the most elementary rules of hygiene... His method was inefficient in the extreme, for an immense ground had to be covered to get anything at all unless blind chance intervened and, at first, I was almost a sorry witness of his doings, knowing that just a little theory and calculation would have saved him 90 percent of the labor. But he had a veritable contempt for book learning and mathematical knowledge, trusting himself entirely to his inventor's instinct and practical American sense."

Time Magazine's Man of the Year

Pierre Laval

Miss America


Scandals, RIP and Odd News

President Hoover asked every American to turn off their lights for 1 minute in October 1931, as a tribute to Thomas Edison and his recent death.

95 people were reported starved in New York City in 1931, with countless others made seriously ill because of malnutrition. The situation prompted citizens of the Cameroon to collect $3.77 and send it to New York to aid "the starving."

The largest number of fatalities ever in a production of a film occurred during the shooting of the 1931 film Viking. Twenty-eight people died, including the director and cinematographer, when a ship they were shooting from exploded in the ice off the coast of Newfoundland.

12 year old Wilbur Brink was playing in his front yard when a tire fell from the sky and killed him. His house was on Georgetown Road across from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the incident happened during the 500 mile race.

Adolph Hitler had a romantic relationship with his niece, who commited suicide in 1931 with the same pistol that he used to end his own life in 1945.

1931 Pop Culture News

Betty Robinson, an Olympic runner, was involved in a plane crash in 1931 and was wrongly pronounced dead upon first being discovered. She spend 7 months in a coma and it took her 2 years to learn to walk normally again. In 1936, she returned to the US olympic team and won gold in the relay.

When Romania made their ice hockey World Championship debut in 1931, they lost 0-15 to the US. Their captain approached the referee after the game and asked him to write a message on the official game sheet: "Thank you for playing against us, we have learned a great deal from this game".

The word 'muggle', before it was popularized by JK Rowling, was slang for marijuana.

When President Ronald Reagan played on the football team for Eureka College, took in two rival team black players in his personal home, who were denied admission into a hotel when they were going to play against Eureka.

Edwin Perkins of Hastings, Nebraska invented a a liquid drink concentrate called "Fruit Smack". When bottles broke during shipping, Perkins dehydrated the product and renamed it Kool-Aid.

While visiting New York City, Winston Churchill was hit by a car while leaving a taxi, as he looked right, but not left, for cars, as he was used to English roads.

The "never date anyone under half your age plus seven" rule of thumb appeared in American newspapers in 1931, attributed to Maurice Chevalier, a French actor, singer and entertainer.

Abbey Road Studios first recording was in 1931. Sir Edward Elgar conducting the London Symphony Orchestra in recording Land of Hope and Glory aka the graduation song with lyrics (Pomp and Circumstance March No. 1) It was originally written in 1901.

The Star-Spangled Banner has only been the anthem of the United States since 1931, more than 100 years after it was written and became popular. My Country, 'Tis of Thee and Hail, Columbia were unofficial anthems before 1931.

Considered his finest film by many, Charlie Chaplin's City Lights was released. Charlie believed that 'talking' was a lessor form of performing on movies, so he didn't talk, but he did include a soundtrack and sound effects.

A barrel of oil cost only 65 cents.

The original pronunciation for Dr. Jekyll is Jee-kall. The author, Robert Louis Stevenson, insisted on this and only the first sound movie of the adaptation starring Fredric March got it right in 1931. Every following movie pronounced it Je-kel and now that is how we say it today.

There is a poodle named Toby Rimes with an estimated net worth of $92 million. He is descended from a poodle of the same name who was left over $30 million by his late millionaire owner in 1931. All of that dog's offspring have been named Toby Rimes and have since inherited the money.

The Times New Roman typeface was commissioned by The Times of London after they were accused of being "badly printed and typographically antiquated".

White Castle hired a food scientist to run tests to determine the nutritional value of White Castle Sliders. One medical student lived on nothing but White Castle burgers and water for 13 weeks. Studies show conclusively that the student maintained good health.

he Empire State Building only took a little over a year for its construction to complete (410 days - twelve days ahead of schedule). After the Empire State Building opened in New York City in 1931, much of its office space went unrented. It was nicknamed the "Empty State Building" by New Yorkers and didn't become profitable until 1950.

Airstream trailers were introduced to the public, invented by Wally Meryle Byam. They say that 2/3 of every one of these vehicles ever produced is still in use.

Spinach consumption increased 33 percent in the United States between 1931 and 1936 due to Popeye's growing popularity.

In the 1931 movie Frankenstein the line "Now I know what it feels like to be God!" following "It's alive! It's alive!" was censored by audio of a clap of thunder because it was considered blasphemous and was only just restored in 1999.

Alka-Seltzer was made available in 1931. The original ingredients included 325 milligrams of aspirin, 1,000 miligrams of citric acid and 1,916 milligrams of sodium bicarbonate.

A 17 year old female baseball pitcher named Jackie Mitchell struck out both Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig in the same exhibition game.

James Truslow Adams first used term "American Dream" in 1931 and stated "that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement...to attain to the fullest stature of which they are innately capable"

CBS went on the air.

L. Ron Hubbard considered himself a nuclear physicist, even though his degree was from an unaccredited university. The one course in nuclear physics Hubbard took was in 1931, whose records indicate that he scored an F in the course. Hubbard dropped out of school shortly thereafter with a 2.28GPA

Motion Picture Herald Magazine (1931-1972)

Woman's Day began publication

The Habits

Reading The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck
Reading Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

1931's Most Popular Christmas Gifts

Battleship Game

Popular Movies:

Arrowsmith, Bad Girl, The Bitch (La Chienne), The Champ, City Lights, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Dracula, Frankenstein, Freedom For Us, The Front Page, M, The Million, Monkey Business, The Public Enemy, The Sin of Madelon Claudet, The Smiling Lieutenant, Tabu: A Story of the South Seas

More Pop Culture Resources

Popular Music in 1931
# 1 Hits of 1931
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