The World 75 Years Ago

Politics & Government

  • Franklin D. Roosevelt was the president, and Harry S. Truman was his vice president.
  • The first peacetime draft occurred in September.
  • Winston Churchill became Britain’s Prime Minister.
  • Hitler invaded Denmark, the Netherlands, Belgium, France, and Luxembourg.
  • Walt Disney begins working as an informer for the Los Angeles FBI.
  • Winston Churchill was voted the Time Magazine’s “Man of the Year.”


  • “Rebecca,” directed by Alfred Hitchcock, won the Best Film Oscar.
  • The first “Green Lantern” comic book hit the stands in July.
  • Hattie McDaniel became the first African American actor to win an Academy Award for her supporting role in “Gone with the Wind.”
  • 80% of Americans owned a radio.
  • “I Love Lucy” actress Lucille Ball marries actor Desi Arnaz in November in Greenwich.
  • Books published included “For Whom the Bell Tolls,” by Ernest Hemingway, “Native Son,” by Richard Wright, and “Horton Hatches the Egg,” by Dr. Seuss.
  • Popular films included: “Pinocchio,” “Fantasia,” and “The Great Dictator.”
  • Number one singles included “Only Forever” and “White Christmas” by Bing Crosby, and “Blueberry Hill” and “Moonlight Cocktail” by Glenn Miller.
  • Winston Churchill was voted the Time Magazine’s “Man of the Year.”


  • The 1940 Olympic Games were cancelled due to the war, along with many other championships.
  • The World Series Champions were the Cincinnati Reds.
  • The NFL Champions were the Chicago Bears.
  • Basketball players were not affected by the draft because their height made them ineligible to serve.
  • The Green Bay Packers become 1st NFL team to travel by plane.
  • NY Rangers won the Stanley Cup.
  • Jackie Robinson won the 1940 NCAA Men’s Track and Field Championships in the Long Jump.

Business and Economics

  • The Paper Mate Company was founded.
  • Top industries were manufacturing, totaling 23.4% of Americans, and agriculture, totaling 18.5%.
  • Minimum wage was $.30 per hour.
  • Igor Sikorsky made the first practical helicopter in Stratford.
  • A gallon of milk was $.34, while a gallon of gas was $.18.
  • The first Social Security benefit checks were paid out.
  • The average car cost $800.
  • The average urban monthly rate was $30.83.
  • Frank Mars and Bruce Murrie created candy-coated chocolate pieces in six different colors- red, green, yellow, brown, and violet- later known as M&M’s.

Demographics & Lifestyle

  • New York had the largest state population of 13.4 million.
  • The life expectancy was 68 for females and 61 for males.
  • Benjamin Oliver Davis, Sr. is appointed the first African American General in the U.S. Army.
  • There were 48 US States.
  • Popular children’s names included James, Robert, Mary and Barbara.
  • The US Census resident population totaled 132,164,569 people.
  • John Lennon, Ringo Starr, Nancy Sinatra, Frankie Avalon, Bruce Lee, and Chuck Norris were born.