1944 Annual History Facts
World Series Champions
|St. Louis Cardinals
|Green Bay Packers
Stanley Cup Champions
US Open Golf
|Not played due to WWII
US Open Tennis (Men Ladies)
|Sgt. Frank Parker/Pauline Betz
NCAA Football Champions
NCAA Basketball Champions
|Orange Bowl: January 1, 1944 – LSU over Texas A&M
Rose Bowl: January 1, 1944 – USC over Washington
Sugar Bowl: January 1, 1944 – Georgia Tech over Tulsa
Westminster Kennel Best in Show Dog
|Flornell-Rare-Bit of Twin Ponds
Time Magazine’s Man of the Year
|Dwight D. Eisenhower
|Venus Ramey (Washington, DC)
Fashion Icons and Movie Stars
|Lauren Bacall, Ingrid Bergman, Joan Fontaine, Ava Gardner, Betty Grable, Rita Hayworth, Lena Horne, Veronica Lake, Carole Landis, Alexis Smith, Jane Russell, Gene Tierney, Lana Turner
|“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.”
1944 Pop Culture History
Carrots do not help most people to see in the dark. This myth was propaganda used by the Royal Air Force to explain why their pilots had improved success during night air battles but was used to disguise advances in radar technology.
Salvador Dali and Walt Disney collaborated on an animated short, Destino, in 1944. Only released in 2003, it is about a young woman and Janus, the God of Time, trying to love each other.
On July 6th, 1944, Jackie Robinson was 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.
Chemist Leandro Panizzon synthesized a new drug, Methylphenidate. His wife, nicknamed Rita, had low blood pressure and would take the drug as a stimulant before playing tennis, so he named it after her – “Ritalin.”
The original Coppertone logo was the profile of an Indian chief, and the slogan was “Don’t Be A Paleface.”
Mount Vesuvius, the volcano responsible for the destruction of Pompeii, is still active, and 550,000 people live within the ‘red zone’ today. It last erupted in 1944.
Smokey Bear was created in 1944 in response to the WWII Japanese submarine attacks on Santa Barbara, CA, near Los Padres National Forest. This attack caused a growing fear of incendiary shells, causing massive wildfires and disastrous loss of life.
Two enormous wooden ships, which once belonged to Emperor Caligula and had lain on the bottom of Lake Nemi for over 1,900 years, were salvaged. In 1944, retreating German Soldiers set fire to the two ships, destroying them & perhaps the greatest archaeological wonders of all time.
Zip codes weren’t used until 1963, but the idea was introduced in 1944.
On June 26, 1944, the 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 game raised nearly $4.5 million in War Bonds as the Dodgers beat the Yankees and shut out the Giants in a 5-1-0 win over six frames.
The 2012 US Presidential Election was the first American presidential election since 1944, with neither major party candidate a veteran.
In Star Trek, Khan’s full name was based on that of Kim Noonien Singh, a pilot Gene Roddenberry served with in the South Pacific during the Second World War. Roddenberry lost touch with his friend and hoped that he might attract his attention by creating a character with a similar name.
In 1944, the income tax rate in the US for the top bracket was 94%.
World War II News and Information
A British officer in WW2 named Mad Jack Churchill (September 16, 1906 – March 8, 1996) fought with a longbow and sword. He was the only soldier known to have killed an enemy with a bow in the war. He was also known for charging into battle whilst playing the bagpipes.
At gunpoint, the Bishop and Mayor of Zakynthos were ordered to list the names of all the island’s Jews. They turned in a list with their names, while the island’s population hid the Jews. All 275 Jews survived the war.
The US sent professional baseball player (and spy), Moe Berg, to a Werner Heisenberg physics lecture with a gun & orders to shoot Heisenberg if he said anything indicating that Germany was close to building a nuclear bomb
Judy was a purebred English pointer who often jumped in to protect prisoners from beatings in a Japanese POW camp during WW2. A British Naval pilot bargained to have her officially considered a POW so the guards could not kill her.
Romania had the unusual distinction of simultaneously being at war with the Allied and Axis powers in August-September of 1944.
The term Foo Fighter was used by Allied aircraft pilots in World War II to describe various UFOs or mysterious aerial phenomena seen in the skies over both the European and Pacific Theater of Operations.
Rationing laws prohibited the sale of freshly baked bread because “the tastiness of just-baked bread is likely to encourage people to eat it immoderately.” The bread had to be at least 24 hours old before it was sold.
American fighter pilot William Bruce “Bill” Overstreet Jr. (April 10, 1921 – December 29, 2013) shot down a German Messerschmitt Bf-109G after chasing it through the arches of the Eiffel Tower.
In World War II, British soldiers got a ration of three sheets of toilet paper a day. Americans got 22.
Franz Stigler – a German ace fighter pilot who risked his life to spare and then save the lives of 9 Americans by escorting their injured B-17 bomber out of Germany. The incident would later be called “the most incredible encounter between enemies in World War II.”
During WWII 40% of Agricultural Production Came from Home Victory Gardens.
Audie Murphy was one of World War II’s most decorated United States Army combat soldiers. He received every American combat award for valor available during his service, including the Medal of Honor at the age of 19. He also received recognition from France and Belgium.
The USA feared an invasion of Hawaii by the Japanese during WWII, so they printed “HAWAII” on the back of US paper money so it could be easily identified and rendered useless if seized by the enemy.
So many American Indians joined the military during WW2 that the draft would not have been necessary had all Americans joined in the same proportion. The Blackfeet tribe mocked the draft idea: “Since when has it been necessary for Blackfeet to draw lots to fight?”
Other candy manufacturers donated their sugar rations to keep Life Savers in production so that the little candies could be shared with the Armed Forces as a “tasty reminder of life at home.”
On the verge of the Liberation of Paris, Hitler ordered its governor to leave it a “pile of rubble,” and destroy all religious and historical monuments. Dietrich von Choltitz, the governor, refused, saving Paris.
June 6th was WW II’s D-Day.
Billie Thomas, who played Buckwheat in the 1930s Little Rascals, went on to the Army and was awarded the National Defense Service Medal and Good Conduct Medal. He never acted again.
WW II’s Battle of the Bulge began on December 16th.
Rupert Trimmingham, a black US Army soldier serving in WWII, wrote a letter to the Army magazine about having to eat behind a train depot restaurant while German POWs were served inside in 1944, sparking support from other soldiers and contributing to the integration of the army in 1948.
RIP, Scandals, Sad and Odd News
|The Balvano Train Disaster of 1944: Some 426 people illegally riding a steam-hauled freight train died of carbon monoxide poisoning when the train stalled on a steep gradient in a tunnel in Basilicata, southern Italy
Airplane Celebrity Death: Glenn Miller
Charles Nelson Reilly, actor/comedian best known as the long-time panelist on the game show Match Game, was a survivor of the 1944 Hartford circus tent fire in which 169 people died. He never sat in an audience again for the remainder of his life because large crowds reminded him of the event.
On August 5, 1944, one of the biggest jailbreaks in history involved hundreds of Japanese POWs attempting to escape an Australian prisoner camp. The Japanese considered the Australians weak because they treated the prisoners well. Two hundred thirty-four of the Japanese were killed and another 108 wounded.
|Seventeen began publication
|Reading Strange Fruit by Lillian Smith
Watching Gaslight, Arsenic, and Old Lace, To Have and Have Not, Laura, Lifeboat, and Double Indemnity in theaters
Popular Music Artists
|The Biggest Pop Artists of 1944 include:
The Andrews Sisters, Perry Como, Bing Crosby, Jimmy Dorsey and His Orchestra, Ella Fitzgerald, Dick Haymes, Duke Ellington, Helen Forrest, Woody Herman and His Orchestra, Betty Hutton, The Ink Spots, Harry James and His Orchestra, Louis Jordan, Stan Kenton and His Orchestra, Guy Lombardo and His Royal Canadians, The Glenn Miller Orchestra, The Mills Brothers, Vaughn Monroe, Pied Pipers, Artie Shaw and His Orchestra, Dinah Shore, Frank Sinatra, Jo Stafford, Martha Tilton, Lawrence Welk and His Orchestra
Charts based on Billboard music charts.
|A Canterbury Tale, Arsenic and Old Lace, Double Indemnity, Gaslight, Going My Way, Hail the Conquering Hero, Henry V, Ivan the Terrible Part I, Laura, Lifeboat, Meet Me in St. Louis, The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek Murder My Sweet, National Velvet, None But The Lonely Heart, Since You Went Away, To Have and Have Not, The Uninvited