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1937 History, Trivia and Fun Facts

<< - 1936

1937 History Snapshot

  • Aviation: In July, Amelia Earhart and navigator Fred Noonan disappearred after taking off from New Guinea during Earhart's attempt to become the first woman to fly around the world.
  • Music: Strange Fruit, one of the first banned protest songs, was written as a poem by Abel Meeropol.
  • Influential Songs include: One O'Clock Jump by Count Basie
  • The Big Movies included Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Saratoga and A Star is Born
  • Price of a gallon of gas in 1937: 16 cents
  • The World Population was ~ 2,268,000,000
  • When broadcasting pioneer Guglielmo Marconi (April 25, 1874- July 20, 1937) died, radio stations the world over went silent for two minutes in tribute.
  • Sylvan Goldman introduced the Shopping Cart in 1937.
  • And... The animated short Porky's Duck Hunt, directed by Tex Avery, featuring the debut of Daffy Duck, was released.

World Series Champions

New York Yankees

NFL Champions

Washington Redskins

Stanley Cup Champions

Detroit Red Wings

US Open Golf

Ralph Guldahl

US Open Tennis (Men Ladies)

J. Donald Budge/Anita Lizana

Wimbledon (Men/Women)

Don Budge/Dorothy Round

NCAA Football Champions


Bowl Games

Orange Bowl: January 1, 1937 - Duquesne over Mississippi State
Rose Bowl: January 1, 1937 - Pittsburgh over Washington
Sugar Bowl : January 1, 1937 - Santa Clara over LSU

Kentucky Derby

War Admiral

Westminster Kennel Best in Show Dog

Flornell Spicy Piece of Halleston

Time Magazine's Men of the Year

Chiang Kai-shek
Soong May-ling

Miss America

Bette Cooper (Bertrand Island, NJ)

Fashion Icons and Movie Stars

Josephine Baker, Joan Blondell, Claudette Colbert, Katharine Hepburn, Betty Grable, Olivia de Havilland, Hedy Lamarr, Myrna Loy, Ginger Rogers, Barbara Stanwyck, Lana Turner, Mae West

"The Quotes"

"Either he's dead, or my watch has stopped" - Groucho Marx in A Day At The Races

"Oh The Humanity" - Radio Reporter Herbert Morrison, on the scene of the Hindenburg disaster.

Bob Marley's Redemption Song refrain "Emancipate yourself from mental slavery, none but ourselves can free the mind" quotes a speech given in Nova Scotia by African American civil rights activist Marcus Garvey in 1937.

Speaking in the House of Commons in 1937, Winston Churchill said, "I will not pretend that, if I had to choose between communism and Nazism, I would choose communism

1937 Pop Culture History

Adriana Caselotti was only paid $970 ($15,913 today) to voice Snow White in the 1937 film. She was also contractually prevented from appearing in anything else, including radio shows, virtually ending her career. Her only other roles are uncredited.

The word "dord" was created accidentally in 1937 when a dictionary editor meant to put "d or d" in the dictionary, but was mistaken for a single word. It's word status got revoked in 1947 when an editor noticed the word lacked an etymology.

In 1937, map makers from General Drafting added a made up town called Agloe, NY, to their map to know who copied their design. In the 1950's, a visitor to the area settled there, thus making the town a real place.

Before the inception of Marvel Comics, founding publisher Martin Goodman was about to board the Hindenburg airship but instead boarded an airplane as his and his wife's seats were not together. So had he boarded the airship, Marvel Comics, with Spider-Man, The Avengers, Fantastic Four and The X-Men might not have existed.

The first manned North Pole station was established by the Russians in 1937. It operated for 9 months, during which it drifted almost 1800 miles.

The 1937 Best Supporting Actress Oscar went to Alice Brady for her role in In Old Chicago, but she couldn't attend the ceremony, so a man walked up and accepted the award on her behalf. After the show, he and the Oscar were never seen again.

There is such thing as a Santa School, training Santas since 1937.

After 4 years, on May 28, 1937, San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge opened. Pedestrians were allowed a day earler, on May 27th.

Samuel Caldwell was the first person in America to be arrested for selling marijuana. Arrested in 1937 for selling two joints, he was sentenced to a $1000 fine and four years of hard labor. This happened in Denver Colorado, where it was legalized in 2012.

The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier has been guarded every minute since midnight July 2, 1937.

National Geographic published "Changing Berlin", which painted a positive portrait of the city. Later it was known that the author was on Goebbels' payroll, Hitler's minister of propaganda. The magazine also published "Imperial Rome Reborn," an article on Mussolini's Italy this year.

Disney's Snow White became the biggest film of all time (at least until Gone With The Wind Came out in 1939.) The previous holder for that title was the controversial Birth of a Nation (1915).

The Seven Dwarves weren't always Grumpy, Sneezy, Bashful, Doc, Sleepy, Dopey and Happy. In a 1912 Broadway play they were Blick, Flick, Glick, Plick, Quee, Snick, and Whick.

During a flood in 1937 the Brown Hotel in Louisville was partially submerged and a worker caught a two-pound fish in the lobby.

Hewlett-Packard was founded. The first big job for the young company was Disney, for Fantasia. Although intially a manufacturer of mesurement instruments, they entered the computer industry in the 1960s.

In 1937 the US had 42% of total global warmaking potential (ability of factories and industries to produce weapons and supplies), as much as Germany, the USSR, the UK, and Japan combined. Its economy grew 15% annually during WW2; the US ended the war with more than 50% of global GNP.

Hector Boiardi started canning his great pasta sauce in 1937. You probably know him better as Chef Boyardee.

The first city in North America to use "911" for emergency calls was Winnipeg, in Canada, in 1937, but it didn't come into wide-spread use throughout the continent until the 1980's.

The first emergency chocolate ration bar commissioned by the US Army was the D ration Bar. The Army approached Hersheys Chocolate in 1937 with 4 requirements: The bar must (1) weigh 4oz. (2) be high in food energy (3) withstand high temperatures & (4) taste "a little better than a boiled potato".

From the family home recipe of Giovanni and Assunta Cantisano, Ragu spaghetti sauce hit the store shelves.

Ken Daigneau, brother of a Hormel company executive, in 1937 won a $100 prize in a competition to name a new item that would come to be known as SPAM.

In 1906 J.J. Thomson won a Nobel prize for proving the electron was a particle. Then in 1937, his son, G.P. Thomson, won a Nobel prize for proving the electron was a wave.

The idea that eating spinach makes you stronger (like Popeye) is due to a calculation error made in 1870. It was noticed and corrected in 1937, but the reputation lives on...

Albert Szent-Gyorgyi who won the 1937 Nobel Prize for medicine for his discovery of Vitamin C initially tried to name the molecule 'godnose', as he was unaware of its structure.

Ray-Ban sunglasses were made for US Air Force pilots in 1936, and were such a hit that they began to be sold to the public in 1937. The brand has been featured in many films.

William Randolph Hearst used his influence to help push marijuana tax act 1937 to squash the hemp industry to protect his paper making business. Basically halting use of hemp one of the worlds strongest natural fibers just for his personal profit.

President FDR proposed to add up to 6 additional members of the Supreme Court because he disagreed with the court's decisions. They were not added.

They say that Picasso's greatest work was Guernica, which he painted in 1937. It was over 11 feet high and 25 feet wide. Here is a very small picture of this famous work:

RIP, Scandals, Sad and Odd News

In 1935, the Canadian government took custody of 5 identical quintuplets (Annette, Emilie, Yvonne, Cecile, and Marie Dionne) fearing they'd be exploited. By 1937, Canada had made them the county's largest tourist attraction where they starred in movies, product ads, had dolls made after them, and had 3,000 daily visitors through exhibit glass.

During the Battle of Nanking, two Japanese officers, Toshiaki Mukai and Tsuyoshi Noda, held a contest to be the first to kill 100 people with a sword. Both were later executed on war crimes charges. The actual contest numbers may have been an exaggeration.

A gas leak in the basement at the local school in New London, Texas caused a massive explosion which killed almost 300 children and teachers, the deadliest school disaster in US history.

So many people disappeared during Stalin's reign that, in 1937, the phone book in Moskva was cancelled.

105 people died after an American pharmaceutical company, the S.E. Massengill Company, sold a raspberry flavored drug elixir, Elixir of Sulfanilamide, prepared using diethylene glycol. The company's head chemist was not aware that diethylene glycol was known to be poisonous. The incident hastened final enactment in 1938 of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, the statute that today remains the basis for FDA regulation of these products..

Movie Star Death: Marie Prevost (malnutrition)

Heroic Person Death: Amelia Earhart (plane lost flying over the Pacific Ocean). 15-year-old Betty Klenck possibly picked up an emergency radio transmission from Amelia Earhart who appeared to have crashed-landed somewhere. To this day, her body was never officially recovered/identified.

HEADLINE: The Hindenburg (LZ 129) is the Greatest Airship, EVER!*
*Hindenburg Update: It burned and crashed in Lakehurst, New Jersey on May 6th. 36 people died in the accident.
Safety Tip - use helium to float things, not hydrogen.
Ed Wood, considered one of the worst directors of all time, filmed, with his first camera, the Hindenberg flying over his hometown of Poughkeepsie before its historic crash in Lakehurst, NJ.

Arthur John Priest, who served on the 'Asturias', the 'Titanic', the 'Olympic', the 'Alcantra', the 'Britannic' and, finally, the "Donegal'. All of these ships sank, except the 'Olympic', which crashed into another ship. Arthur died in 1937 of pneumonia. On land.

Firsts and the Biggest Christmas Gifts

King's Men Game , Bargain Day Game , Cootie Game

Travel + Leisure began publication

The Habit

(Still) Reading Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

Popular Music Artists

The Biggest Pop Artists of 1937 include:
Gus Arnheim & His Orchestra, Fred Astaire, Mildred Bailey, Connee Boswell, Larry Clinton and His Orchestra, Bing Crosby, Bob Crosby and His Orchestra, Dolly Dawn & Her Dawn Patrol, Tommy Dorsey and His Orchestra , Duke Ellingon, Shep Fields and His Rippling Rhythm, Jan Garber and His Orchestra, Benny Goodman and His Orchestra, Mal Hallett & His Orchestra, Horace Heidt and His Orchestra, Billie Holiday, Sammy Kaye, Hal Kemp and His Orchestra, Wayne King and His Orchestra, Andy Kirk and His 12 Clouds of Joy, Guy Lombardo and His Royal Canadians, Jimmie Lunceford and His Orchestra, Abe Lyman and His California Orchestra, Russ Morgan, Ozzie Nelson and His Orchestra, Rudy Vallée & His Connecticut Yankees, Teddy Wilson & His Orchestra, Fats Waller

Charts based on Billboard music charts

Popular Movies

A Day at the Races, A Star is Born, The Awful Truth, Captains Courageous, Dead End, The Good Earth, Grand Illusion, Heidi, The Hurricane, In Old Chicago, The Life of Emile Zola, Lost Horizon, Make Way For Tomorrow, Marked Woman, Maytime, Nothing Sacred, One Hundred Men and a Girl, Pépé le Moko, The Prisoner of Zenda, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Song at Midnight, Stage Door, Stella Davis, They Won't Forget, Topper, Way Out West

More Pop Culture History Resources

Popular Music in 1937
# 1 Hits of 1937
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.
Having characteristics attributed to the common people and intended for or suited to ordinary people.

culture:(noun) That which is excellent in the arts.
A particular stage of civilization. The behaviors and beliefs characteristic of a particular social, ethnic, or age group.

madness: (noun) The state of being mad. insanity, senseless folly, intense excitement or enthusiasm.
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