1939 History Events: What Happened in 1939

The year 1939 marked the start of World War II and the end of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s twelve-year presidency. World censuses estimated a world population of around 2.3 billion in the last twelve months. Throughout the year, this figure increased. The names Robert and Mary were the most popular among new parents. Ian McKellen, a well-known actor; Ralph Lauren, a well-known fashion designer; Lee Harvey Oswald, a well-known killer; and Tina Turner, a well-known vocalist, were among this year’s babies.

Amelia Earhart, Pope Pius XI, Sigmund Freud, and Howard Carter were among the people who died in 1939. Changes in warfare, military alliances, and European diplomatic relationships occurred throughout the course of these 365 days. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck and And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie were the most popular novels. Gone With the Wind, Wizard of Oz, and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington were just a few of the big-budget movies that made their world premieres in theatres.

Many firsts were witnessed by those who were aware of events throughout the past twelve months. The first rocket launch, the first female dean of a US graduate school, the first nylon stocking, the first US food stamp, and the first animal produced through artificial insemination (a rabbit) were among them. Patents for the helicopter and electron microscope were also submitted. To the delight of nerds all around the world, DC debuted its Superman and Batman books.

Overseas, the guillotine was used for the last time in Paris. All of this growth took place in the shadow of World War II. The rest of the world watched as Germany formed a brief alliance with Russia and Italy. The horrors of the first Luftwaffe airstrike were witnessed in Britain. While Canada and other nations declared war on the Nazis, the United States remained neutral. Pope Pius XII’s failed peace effort signified one thing: World War II was here to stay.

Continue reading to discover more about the events of 1939.


(April 07, 1939)
Francis Ford Coppola, the American director whose films include The Godfather (1972), The Godfather, Part II (1974), and Apocalypse Now (1979), was born.


(April 09, 1939)
Marian Anderson, an African American contralto, performed outside the Lincoln Memorial on Easter Sunday in front of a crowd of 75,000 after the Daughters of the American Revolution refused to allow her to perform at Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C.

(May 09, 1939)
Ralph Boston, an American track and field athlete, was born in Laurel, Mississippi, and was the first man to jump more than 27 feet (8.23 metres).

(May 17, 1939)
On NBC, the first televised sporting event in the United States was broadcast: a collegiate baseball game between Princeton and Columbia.

(June 12, 1939)

Dr. Cyclops, the first horror film shot in three-strip Technicolor, begins production at Paramount Pictures.

(June 12, 1939)

Opening of the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York.

(August 02, 1939)
Albert Einstein and Leo Szilard compose a letter to Franklin D. Roosevelt asking him to launch the Manhattan Project, which would lead to the development of a nuclear weapon.

(August 15, 1939)
The premiere of The Wizard of Oz takes place at Grauman's Chinese Theater in Los Angeles, California.

(August 27, 1939)
The He 178, a turbojet-powered aircraft designed by Ernst Heinrich Heinkel, performed the first jet flight.


(September 17, 1939)
The Soviet Union's invasion of Poland began during World War II. photo source:

(November 26, 1939)
Tina Turner, an American singer who achieved fame in the rhythm-and-blues, soul, and rock genres, was born. photo source:

(December 15, 1939) At Loew's Grand Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia, the premiere of Gone with the Wind (the highest inflation-adjusted grossing film) takes place. photo source:

Written by James

James has always been intrigued by dinosaurs, the universe, technology, and animals. With a Bachelor of Computer Science and years of writing expertise, he joined World Amazing Facts in 2021 as a staff writer.

Our team at World Amazing Facts is committed to verifying the accuracy of our content. It's possible that we'll get something wrong, or that our knowledge may become obsolete. Please let us know if you see any errors in the information provided.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

GIPHY App Key not set. Please check settings

1938 History Events: What Happened in 1938

1940 History Events: What Happened in 1940