1931 Annual History Facts

1931 Annual History Facts

  • Natural Disaster: The deadliest natural disaster was 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 Ethel 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.
  • The price of a dozen bananas in 1931 was 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.

World Series Champions

St. Louis Cardinals

NFL Champions

Green Bay Packers

Stanley Cup Champions

Montreal Canadiens

US Open Golf

Billy Burke

US Open Tennis (Men Ladies)

H. Ellsworth Vines/Helen Wills Moody

Wimbledon (Men/Women)

Sidney Wood/Cilly Aussem

NCAA Football Champions


Bowl Game

Rose Bowl: January 1, 1931 – Alabama over Washington State

Kentucky Derby

Twenty Grand

Westminster Kennel Best in Show Dog

Pendley Calling of Blarney

Time Magazine’s Man of the Year

Pierre Laval

Miss America


1931’s Fresh Faces and Top Celebrities

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, 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 props used in Mel Brook’s Young Frankenstein were from the original Frankenstein movie.

When Romania debuted their ice hockey World Championship 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.”

1931 Pop Culture History

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

When Romania debuted their ice hockey World Championship in 1931, they lost 0-15 to the US. After the game, their captain approached the referee 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 JK Rowling popularized it, 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 home, who were denied admission into a hotel when they were going to play against Eureka.

Edwin Perkins of Hastings, Nebraska, invented 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. 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 conducted 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 lesser form of performing in 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 that is how we say it today.

A poodle named Toby Rimes has 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. 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 only 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 of construction (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.

Due to Popeye’s growing popularity, spinach consumption increased by 33 percent in the United States between 1931 and 1936.

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 milligrams of citric acid, and 1,916 milligrams of sodium bicarbonate.

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

James Truslow Adams first used the term “American Dream” in 1931. They 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.”

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. Hubbard dropped out of school shortly thereafter with a 2.28GPA

RIP, Scandals, Sad 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.

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

The largest fatalities ever in a film production 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 committed suicide in 1931, which was said to have been the same pistol he used to end his life in 1945.

Firsts and the Biggest Christmas Gifts

Battleship Game

CBS went on the air.

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

Popular Music Artists

The Biggest Pop Artists of 1931 include:
Gus Arnheim & His Orchestra, Ben Bernie & His Orchestra, The Boswell Sisters, Cab Calloway, Russ Columbo, Bing Crosby, Duke Ellington, Ruth Etting, Libby Holman, Hal Kemp and His Orchestra, Wayne King and His Orchestra, Ted Lewis and His Band, Guy Lombardo and His Royal Canadians, Bert Lown & His Orchestra, Clyde McCoy & His Orchestra, The Mills Brothers, Ray Noble and His Orchestra, Kate Smith, Rudy VallĂ©e & His Connecticut Yankees, Fred Waring’s Pennsylvanians

Charts based on Billboard music charts.

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
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