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1934 History, Trivia and Fun Facts

<< - 1933

1934 History Snapshot

  • Politics: The United States Gold Reserve Act of 1934 outlawed most private possession of gold, forcing US citizens to sell it to the Treasury. Americans could not freely own and trade gold again until 1975.
  • Influential Songs include: I Get a Kick Out of You by Ethel Merman (and others) and Pop Standards I'm Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter and Blue Moon
  • The Big Movies included It Happened One Night, Viva Villa! and The Black Cat
  • Price of a Kelvinator Refrigerator in 1934: $114.50
    (standard for average household)
  • The World Population was ~ 2,205,000,000
  • Sorry! (boardgame) was introduced in 1934.
  • 1 once of gold value: $35.00
  • And... The second Indiana Jones film, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, is actually a prequel to the first film. Temple of Doom was set in 1934, two years before the events of Raiders of the Lost Ark.

World Series Champions

St. Louis Cardinals

NFL Champions

New York Giants

Stanley Cup Champions

Chicago Black Hawks

US Open Golf

Olin Dutra

US Open Tennis (Men Ladies)

Fred Perry/ Helen H. Jacobs

Wimbledon (Men/Women)

Fred Perry/Dorothy Round

FIFA World Cup Soccer


NCAA Football Champions


Bowl Game

Rose Bowl: January 1, 1934 - Columbia over Stanford

Kentucky Derby


Westminster Kennel Best in Show Dog

Flornell Spicy Bit of Halleston

Time Magazine's Man of the Year

Franklin D. Roosevelt

Miss America


1934's Fresh Faces and Top Celebrities

Josephine Baker, Joan Blondell, Claudette Colbert, Joan Crawford, Marion Davies, Marlene Dietrich, Kay Francis, Jean Harlow, Katharine Hepburn, Hedy Lamarr, Myrna Loy, Dolores Del Rio, Ginger Rogers, Barbara Stanwyck, Thelma Todd, Mae West, Fay Wray

"The Quotes"

"Take my wife, please"
- Henny Youngman

"When you care enough to send the very best"
- Hallmark cards

John McGroarty, a former Congressman from California, wrote a letter to a constituent in 1934 and said "One of the countless drawbacks of being in Congress is that I am compelled to receive impertinent letters from a jackass like you... Will you please take two running jumps and go to hell."

Despite coming up with E=mc², Einstein himself not only doubted its importance, but dismissed the notion that it might one day be at the heart of a new energy source, declaring in 1934 that "there is not the slightest indication" that atomic energy will ever be possible.

1934 Pop Culture History

Future US President Gerald Ford threatened to not play for the Michigan football team because the school would not let his teammate Willis Ward, who was black, play against Georgia Tech, which refused to share the field with a black player. Ward talked Ford out of it and Michigan won.

Since the start of FDIC insurance on January 1st, 1934, no depositor has lost any insured funds as a result of a bank failure.

Donald Duck first appeared in the Silly Symphonies cartoon The Wise Little Hen on June 9, 1934, although there was a mention of him in a 1931 Disney book. He was the first of many clothed cartoon characters who didn't wear pants. There have only been two voice actors to voice Donald Duck: Clarence Nash (1934 - 1985) and Tony Anselmo (1985 - present).

The largest pearl ever found, the 'Pearl of Lao Tzu' was found, weighing 31,893.5 carats (just over 14 lbs).

Detroit once had a tourist attraction more popular than the Statue of Liberty. The Ford Rotunda was built for the 1934 World's Fair and was the fifth most visited site in the US before burning to the ground in 1962.

The Detroit Lions have been hosting a Thanksgiving game annually since 1934. That first game against the Chicago Bears was also the first nationally broadcasted NFL game.

The Detroit Lions hold both the record for most rushing yards in a game (432 in 1934) and fewest rushing yards in a game (-53 in 1943).

The 3 Stooges movie short Three Little Pigskins was the first time they all refused to do a stunt. Of the three stuntmen, two were seriously injured with broken limbs

There is one Nazi memorial in London. Giro, the German ambassador's dog, was buried in 1934; his gravestone calls the pet "Ein Treuer Begleiter!" ("A True Companion!").

Although created in 1908 the FBI had neither the authority to carry firearms or make an official arrest until 1934.

At the 1934 Oscars during the presentation for Best Director, the presenter opened the envelope and said "Come and get it, Frank!" Nominee Frank Capra got out of his seat and made it all the way to the podium but realized that co-nominee Frank Lloyd was the winner of the award, not him.

Before 1934, movies in Hollywood used to be extraordinarily liberal during a period called "Pre-Code". Before laws about decency were passed, films in that era would give today's rated-R movies a run for their money, featuring nudity, homosexuality, drug use, intense violence and more. For an swimming scene in the pre-code, 1934's Tarzan and His Mate film, three versions of the sequence eventually went out of Jane in various stages of dress, ranging from totally nude to fully covered Jane (actually Maureen O'Sullivan's swimming double, Josephine McKim).

Folk/Blues Song The House of the Rising Sun was originally recorded in 1933, under the title Rising Sun Blues, is by Appalachian artists Clarence "Tom" Ashley and Gwen Foster. It's earliest beginnings were in olde English Ballads from the 16 and 1700s.

Turkey did not officially use surnames until 1934.

Bugs Bunny's iconic name, catchphrase, and mannerisms are based on scenes in a 1934 movie called It Happened One Night. In it, Clark Gable smacks on a carrot while talking with his mouth full, makes up a person named "Bugs Dooley", and is offhandedly called "Doc."

15-year old Ella Fitzgerald was supposed to do a dance routine on Amateur Night at the Apollo in Harlem. Oh whim, she decided to sing instead... and won!

A civil farmer's union founded in 1934 to further organize the tenant farmers in the Southern United States. The union was called the Southern Tenant Farmers' Union, or STFU

The first topless man in a Hollywood movie was Clark Gable in 1934. Two years later, it became legal for men to go topless on the beach. The film was It Happened One Night.

In 1934 the US issued a $100,000 bill featuring Woodrow Wilson

Only three films that have won all of the Big Five Academy Awards: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, and Best Writing (Original or Adapted). Those films were: It Happened One Night (1934), One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975), and The Silence of the Lambs (1991).

The word "Dord" was a ghost word for five years. It was printed in the Webster's New International Dictionary in 1934 and supposed to read "D or d" for density. It wasn't until 1939 that the mistake was discovered.

RIP, Scandals, Sad and Odd News

A sad realization came to six year old Shirley Temple when a department store Santa Claus asked her for her autograph.

In 1934 Tesla announced that he was working on a Directed Energy Weapon that would be able to destroy an army 200 miles away. The super-weapon was never built, and no one know how it was supposed to work; after his death the FBI seized all his possessions and declared his papers TOP SECRET.

Arizona started its own two-boat Navy and almost went to war with California over water rights.

A random sample of 1000 schoolchildren in New York City had their tonsils examined by three waves of physicians. In the end, only 65 of the original 1000 were not recommended to have a tonsillectomy.

Gangster John Dillinger escaped from jail with a wooden pistol. After whittling it in his cell, in March 1934 he used the fake weapon to intimidate 33 people before getting a real machine gun. "Ha, ha, ha! And I did all this with a wooden gun!" he bragged while leaving.

Bonnie and Clyde were ambushed by 6 officers who fired about 130 rounds hitting Bonnie and Clyde 25 times apiece. They died almost immediately.

In response to Republican criticism referring to him as a 'dictator,' through himself a TOGA party for his birthday. He also wore a Julius Caesar crown to emphasize his point.

Hubert and Jan van Eyck's 12 panel Adoration of the Mystic Lamb (also known as the Ghent Altarpiece) is considered the most stolen art piece in history. It was robbed by Napoleon, nearly burned by Calvinists, sought after by the Nazis, and part of it has been missing since 1934. To this day, a detective of the Ghent police is assigned to the case of the lost panel.

Artist Salvador Dali and his wife dressed as the Lindbergh Baby and his Kidnapper at a costume ball in New York City in 1934. #troll

While walking down the Boulevard Edgar-Quinet in Paris in 1934, Salvador Dali became so disgusted at the sight of a blind double-amputee that he kicked him.

Albert Fish killed and cannibalized a 10 year old girl in 1934. He was also known as the Gray Man, the Werewolf of Wysteria, the Brooklyn Vampire, the Moon Maniac, and The Boogey Man. His crimes were dramatized in 2007's The Gray Man, starring Patrick Bauchau as Fish.

Master Criminal Deaths: Baby Face Nelson (police shoot-out), Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker (police ambush).

According to the Calgary Herald in 1934 a schoolboy in India was killed by a "magical coconut" used by his teacher as a means of detecting theft.

Dr. Elliott Speer was a controversial principal who was shot and killed in 1934 by someone sitting in a tree outside his office window. The act resembled almost exactly the plot of a popular mystery book, which Speer owned. The murder remains unsolved.

Maurice Wilson, a former British soldier with no prior experience of mountaineering tried to climb Everest alone & without oxygen in 1934. His body was found a year later at 22,700 feet, surrounded by the battered remains of his tent.

The Nation of Islam teaches that its founder, Wallace Fard Muhammad, boarded a UFO when he disappeared in 1934.

President FDR enacted a Federal law requiring that all gold be turned over to the federal government at the price of $20.67/oz. After the government acquired most of the gold, they changed the market price to $35/oz. It was the United States Gold Reserve Act of 1934 outlawed most private possession of gold, forcing US citizens to sell it to the Treasury. Americans could not freely own and trade gold again until 1975.

Firsts and the Biggest Christmas Gifts

Sorry!, Radio Flyer 'Streak Lite' wagon with horn and lights

Spicy Detective Magazine (1934-1947)

The Habits

Reading Anthony Adverse by Hervey Allen
Reading I, Claudius by Robert Graves
Reading Appointment in Samarra by John O'Hara
Reading Tender is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Reading A Handful of Dust by Evelyn Waugh
Reading Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller
Reading The Postman Always Rings Twice by James M. Cain

Popular Music Artists

The Biggest Pop Artists of 1934 include:
Don Bestor & His Orchestra, Emil Coleman & His Orchestra, Bing Crosby, Eddy Duchin and His Orchestra, Duke Ellingon, Ted Fio Rito & His Orchestra, Jan Garber and His Orchestra, Benny Goodman and His Orchestra, Glen Gray and the Casa Loma Orchestra, Johnny Green & His Orchestra, Jimmie Grier & His Orchestra, Richard Himber & His Orchestra, Hal Kemp and His Orchestra, Little Jack Little & His Orchestra, Guy Lombardo and His Royal Canadians, Enric Madriguera and His Orchestra, Freddy Martin and His Orchestra, Ethel Merman, The Mills Brothers, Grace Moore, Ray Noble and His Orchestra, Ben Pollack & His Orchestra, Leo Reisman and His Orchestra, Rudy Vallée & His Connecticut Yankees, Paul Whiteman & His Orchestra

Charts based on Billboard music charts.

Popular Movies

L'Atalante, The Barretts of Wimpole Street, The Black Cat, Bright Eyes, Clepatra, The Gay Divorcee, The Goddess, Imitation of Life, It Happened One Night, It's a Gift, Judge Priest, The Lost Patrol, The Merry Widow, Of Human Bondage, One Night of Love, The Scarlet Empress, The Scalet Pimpernel, Tarzan and His Mate, The Thin Man, Viva Villa!

More Pop Culture History Resources

Popular Music in 1934
# 1 Hits of 1934
Pop Culture News

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pop, as in 'popular' :(adjective) Pertaining to the common people, or the people as a whole as distinguished from any particular class.
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