The 1940s: A Killer Diller of a Decade

Feeling nostalgic? Come and join Modern Senior Magazine while we take a trip down memory lane to celebrate the 75th anniversary of America in 1940.

1940 was a year of many griefs and triumphs. While the world was watching the start of World War II people were banding together to show support and solidarity for their fellow countries.

Let’s reflect back on facts about everyday life in America, as well as events and entertainment news that happened that year. Open up those peepers, grab a quencher, and get ready to cut up some rug. It’s time to slap Glenn Miller’s “In The Mood” on the record player and let the music take you away to the year 1940.

Everyday life in 1940 U.S.A

  • A home cost an estimated four thousand dollars.
  • The average citizen earned two thousand dollars per year.
  • Cars cost slightly under a thousand dollars.
  • Gas was 11 cents a gallon!
  • Nylon stockings were released.
  • The 40 hour work week began in 1940.

Movies and TV

  • Disney released two feature length films, Pinocchio and Fantasia.
  • Bugs Bunny, Woody the Woodpecker, and Tom and Jerry made their debut on the TV screen.
  • Hattie McDaniel became the first African-American actress to win an Academy Award for her role in Gone with the Wind.
  • Popular movies released in theatres in 1940 included The Grapes of Wrath, His Girl Friday, Our Town, The Great Dictator, Rebecca, and The Philadelphia Story.


  • NY Rangers win the Stanley Cup.
  • Cincinnati wins the World Series.
  • Gallahadion wins the Kentucky Derby.
  • The Olympic Games were canceled this year, and would be canceled again in 1944 due to the war front. The next Olympic Games would be held in 1948.


  • Crime writer extraordinaire, Agatha Christie, published two new novels this year, Sad Cypress and One, Two, Buckle My Shoe.
  • Ernest Hemmingway published For Whom the Bell Tolls.
  • The Pulitzer Prize went to John Steinbeck for his book The Grapes of Wrath.
  • People honored on the cover of Life magazine included, Queen Elizabeth II, Winston Churchill, Rita Hayworth, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Ginger Rogers, and Tom Harmon.

National News

  • The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation was started.
    • The foundation was created as a way to preserve and monitor all of Frank Lloyd Wright’s architectural achievements.
  • Franklin D. Roosevelt won his third term as President.
    • Franklin D. Roosevelt would later go on to win a 4th term of presidency before passing away while holding office. After his 4 successive terms as president, the 22nd amendment was added to the constitution. The amendment stated that no person could hold office as president for more than 2 terms. The amendment was passed by Congress in 1947 and ratified in 1951.
  • The first McDonald’s opened in San Bernardino, California.
    • This once-small restaurant was started by two brothers. It would later be purchased by John Kroc who grew the company to the huge chain with the famous golden arches we know today.
  • John F. Kennedy graduated from Harvard University.
    • He graduated cum laude from Harvard, and his senior thesis went on to be published as a book entitled Why England Slept. In 1960, John F. Kennedy became our 35th  president.


International News

  • Winston Churchill was elected Prime Minister in England.
    • 1940 gave birth to some of his greatest speeches, including “Be Ye Men of Valour”, “Blood, Toil, Tears, and Sweat”, and “Their Finest Hour”.
  • 1940 marked the start of London Blitz.
    • From September 1940 to May 1941, England endured almost constant bombing by the Germans in an attempt to crush England’s morale and destroy the country. However, the blitz had the opposite effect. Boosted by the words of Winston Churchill, the new Prime Minister, England persevered and did not give in to defeat.
  • 1940 saw the Moscow Peace Treaty.
    • Signed by Russia and Finland on March 21st 1940, this peace treaty ended the Winter War between Russia and Finland.
  • Both John Lennon and Ringo Starr of the Beatles were born.
    • Before there were The Beatles and Beatlemania, John Lennon and Ringo Starr were born in Liverpool within 4 months of each other. Paul McCartney (born 1942) and George Harrison (born 1943) would arrive later.

This era sure was a humdinger, wasn’t it?

As the record needle comes to the end of the track, we want to wish all our readers a good day, and to say we hope you’ve enjoyed your trip back to 1940.

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