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1949 History, Trivia and Fun Facts

<< - 1948

1949 History Snapshot

  • Politics: On April 4, 1949 The North Atlantic Treaty was signed, commiting the United States to be closer with our European allies.
  • Sports: Frank J. Zamboni invented the Zamboni Ice Resurfacing Machine.
  • Popular Songs include: A Little Bird Told Me by Evelyn Night, That Lucky Old Sun by Frankie Laine and Riders in the Sky by Vaughn Monroe
  • The Big Movies included Samson and Delilah, On The Town and Battleground
  • Price of a gallon of gas in 1949: 22 cents
    Live-in 'mother's helper': $120.00/month
  • The World Population was ~ 2,562,000,000
  • Candyland (board game) was introduced in 1949.
  • And... Tennessee Williams's A Streetcar Named Desire won the Pulitzer Prize.

World Series Champions

New York Yankees

NFL Champions

Philadelphia Eagles

National Basketball Association Champions

Minneapolis Lakers

NHL Stanley Cup Champions

Toronto Maple Leafs

US Open Golf

Cary Middlecoff

US Open Tennis (Men Ladies)

Richard A. Gonzales/Margaret Osborne duPont

Wimbledon (Men/Women)

Ted Schroeder/Louis Brough

NCAA Football Champions

Notre Dame

NCAA Basketball Champions


Bowl Games

Orange Bowl: January 1, 1949 - Texas over Georgia
Rose Bowl: January 1, 1949 - Northwestern over California
Sugar Bowl : January 1, 1949 - Oklahoma over North Carolina

Kentucky Derby


Westminster Kennel Best in Show Dog

Mazelaine Zazarac Brandy

Time Magazine's Man of the Year

Winston Chruchill

Miss America

Jacque Mercer (Litchfield, AZ)

Fashion Icons and Movie Stars

Lauren Bacall, Anita Colby, Dorothy Dandridge, Ava Gardner, Betty Grable, Rita Hayworth, Dorian Leigh, Lana Turner

"The Quotes"

"Meep Meep"
- The Road-runner

"Made it, Ma! Top of the world!" Arthur "Cody" Jarrett
- James Cagney, in White Heat

"What a dump."
- Bette Davis, in Beyond the Forest

1949 Pop Culture History

The very first Harlequin romance novel was called The Manatee by Nacy Bruff.

The first credit card, issued in 1949 and made out of cardboard, was Diners Club. Co-founder Frank McNamara was dining with clients and realized he forgot his wallet. His wife paid the tab, and McNamara thought of a multipurpose charge card as a way to avoid similar embarrassments in the future.

The first animated TV cartoon series was called Crusader Rabbit, which ran from 1949 to 1951.

The longest serving mayor in US history was Hilmar Moore, who was mayor of Richmond, TX for 63 years from 1949 until his death in 2012.

Car ignition keys were only introduced in 1949. Before that, only the door locks provided security.

BB King played at a hall in which 2 men fought and started a fire. He escaped but realized his guitar was inside. He ran into the hall and saved it. The 2 men were fighting over a girl, Lucille, so King vowed never to fight over a girl. King named all his guitars Lucille as a reminder.

George Orwell's 1984 was first published June 8, 1949.

Marilyn Monroes was Playboy's first Sweetheart (later Playmate) of the Month. Marilyn had been paid $50 to model for the picture in 1949; Hugh Hefner bought it for $500 and launched an empire in 1954.

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

A patent on raising a sunken ship by pumping it full of buoyant balls was denied because of prior art in a 1949 Donald Duck comic The Sunken Yacht. The story was first published in Walt Disney's Comics and Stories #104. Maybe DD author/artist Carl Barks deserved the patent.

LEGO has produced more than 500 billion bricks since 1949.

Wile. E. Coyote first appeared in a cartoon called Fast and Furry-ous and in the 49 Road Runner shorts he appeared in he has never once managed to stop or capture the Road Runner.

Minimum wage went from 40 to 75 cents on October 26.

When USSR tested their nuclear bomb, they wanted to keep it a secret but a WB-29 (US weather monitoring aircraft) returning from Yokota AB, Japan recovered radioactive debris in air sampling scoops from the cloud generated by it, letting the US know.

The first recorded use of the phrase "lock and load" appeared in the 1949 film Sands of Iwo Jima.

The White House was completely gutted and the inside rebuilt from the ground up.

The HOLLYWOOD sign originally read "HOLLYWOODLAND" to advertise for a new housing development until the last four letters were removed in 1949.

Harvard raised its tuition to more than $500 a year.

The People's Republic of China abolished the five time zones system and established one single time zone in 1949.

The term "Big Bang theory" was first coined by astronomer Fred Hoyle on a BBC radio program. Hoyle was a prominent critic of the theory.

Frank J. Zamboni patented (patent #2,642,679) his "Model A Zamboni Ice Resurfacer".

You can't pump your own gas in new Jersey because of the Retail Gasoline Act of 1949.

Popular Mechanics published an article that included a prediction that in the future computers would only weight 1.5 tons rather than 30 tons which was the weight of the average computer then.

In 1949, the City of Los Angeles bought Van Nuys airport for one dollar.

Candy Land was designed by Eleanor Abbott, while she was recovering from polio in San Diego, California. In 2005, the game was inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame.

A flock of starlings landed on Big Ben's clock, slowing it by 4.5 minutes.

Someone nicknamed 'The Poe Toaster', a masked, shadowy figure, left a half consumed bottle of cognac and three roses at Edgar Allan Poe's original grave site from 1949-2009.

Luigi Chinetti won the 24 hours of Le Mans by racing over 23 hours of the race by himself, only letting his co-driver behind the wheel for 20 minutes.

RIP, Scandals, Sad and Odd News

Howard Unruh, a WW2 veteran went on a rampage with a German Luger and in twelve minutes he shot and killed 13 people and wounded three others in what later became known as the "Walk of Death."

Under the 1949 Geneva Conventions, No protected person, including non-combatants, may be punished for an offence he or she has not personally committed, collective punishment is a war crime, and 196 countries agreed to this.

Airplane Celebrity Death: Buddy Clark

The Sherman Brothers claimed to have made up the word "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" for the 1964 film Mary Poppins, yet the writers of a 1949 song called "Supercalafajaistickespeealadojus" unsuccessfully sued Disney. Disney's lawyers argued both were "nonsense words".

BBC's strict "Green Book" of writing rules forbade lighting offices with Anglepoise desk-lamps, because low-watt bulbs were thought to produce immoral ideas in writers .

Firsts and the Biggest Christmas Gifts

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

Since its debut in 1949, the Les Paul Gibson ES-175 guitar has never gone out of production.

The Reporter Magazine (1949-1968)

Motor Trend began publication

The Habits

Playing the card game, Canasta
Men started wearing argyle socks, thanks to Brooks Brothers.
Watching Arthur MIller's Death of a Salesman on Broadway
Reading The Egyptian by Mika Waltari
Reading 1984 by George Orwel
Reading The Sheltering Sky by Paul Bowles
Watching On the Town, The Third Man, White Heat, Mighty Joe Young, Little Women, Twelve O'Clock High, and Samson and Delilah in theaters

Popular Music Artists

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

Charts based on Billboard music charts.

Popular Movies

Abbot and Costello Meet the Killer, Boris Karloff, The Accused, Adam's Rib, All the King's Men, Battleground, Beyond the Forest, Champion, The Heiress, Kind Hearts and Coronets, Knock on Any Door, Mighty Joe Young, On the Town, Samson and Delilah, She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, The Third Man, Twelve O'Clock High, Whiskey Galore!, White Heat, The Wreckless Moment

More Pop Culture History Resources

Popular Music in 1949
# 1 Hits of 1949
Pop Culture News

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