It’s the 1940s! We made it through Great Depression, but happy days are decidedly not here again. Japan is rampaging through the Far East, Italy and Spain are being run by murderous dictators, and the Soviet Union – no slouch itself on the dictator front – is flexing its muscles in Finland, the Baltics and Poland. Speaking of Poland, our old pal Hitler dropped in for some pierogies back in ’39 and decided to hang around for awhile.
Here’s a quick recap.
April 9-May 12: Hitler continues his goodwill tour through Europe by invading Norway, Denmark, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg and France.
May 10: A very grumpy-looking Winston Churchill is elected Prime Minister.
July 27: The first modern version of Bugs Bunny appears in Tex Avery’s Oscar-nominated(!) The Wild Hare.
Nov 5: FDR is elected to an un’president’ed third term. (I’ll be here all week, folks!)
Oct 9: FDR approves the Manhattan Project, allowing work to begin on the atomic bomb. The Manhattan Project is not to be confused with a cappella jazz fusion group the Manhattan Transfer, although both cause immeasurable carnage and suffering.
Oct 31: Crews complete work on Mount Rushmore, giving South Dakota tourists something to do besides count buffalo.
Dec 7: A “date that will live in infamy.” Japan bombs the U.S. Naval Base at Pearl Harbor, drawing America into the war and setting the stage for a much cuter invasion 35 years later.
June 4-7: Japan suffers its first substantial defeat at U.S. hands in the Battle of Midway, in what’s widely considered the turning point of the Pacific war. Meanwhile, Japan invades two remote U.S. islands off Alaska in a possible bid to distract American forces from the South Pacific. However, it turns out they were just looking for Uniqlo.
Jan 15: Work is completed on the Pentagon and its sister buildings, the Rhombus (Treasury Dept.), and Octagon (Education Dept.).
July 25: After fucking up campaigns in Greece and North Africa, Italian Dictator Benito Mussolini is deposed by his own government.
He’s eventually executed in 1945 after being caught trying to sneak over the Swiss border dressed as Hitler.
June 6: Allied troops storm the beaches of Normandy only to find them littered with trash and hypodermic needles.
Nov 7: FDR elected to a FOURTH term.
April 12: FDR dies suddenly of a brain hemorrhage, but goes on to win re-election in 1948, 1952 and 1956.
April 30: With Allied forces closing in on Berlin, Hitler commits suicide in his bunker after claiming he just needs to “rest his eyes” for a few minutes.
May 7: Germany surrenders, but immediately regroups and begins plotting to invade Czechoslovakia.
Aug 6 & Aug 9: U.S. drops A-Bombs on Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Six days later, this happens:
March 5: Churchill give his “Iron Curtain” speech, kicking off the Cold War in style.
July 5: The modern bikini debuts in Paris. The swimsuit is named after recent atomic tests on Bikini Atoll, because nothing says “sassy fun on the beach” like “nuclear war.”
April 15: Jackie Robinson debuts with the Brooklyn Dodgers, becoming the first black player in the major leagues since the 1880s.
First week in July: A “weather balloon” crashes near Roswell, NM.
Six days later, this happens:
Oct 14: American pilot Chuck Yeager breaks the sound barrier, becoming the “fastest man alive.” Wife Glennis is not amused.
Dec 27: Howdy Doody debuts on NBC…
June 20: Ed Sullivan Show premieres. First guests include Elvis, The Beatles, and Sonny & Cher.
Aug 16: Babe Ruth dies and is buried under Fenway Park in a Big Papi jersey.
Nov 2: Dewey does NOT defeat Truman
April 4: The North Atlantic Treaty is signed in Washington, DC, creating the NATO defense alliance to counter Soviet aggression. In 2013, the alliance is rebranded as SharkNATO to counter Ian Ziering.
June 8: Publication of 1984, George Orwell’s dystopian novel about reality show contestants who live in a house together and vie for a job with a shadowy industrialist known only as “Big Brother.” The book goes on to win the Nobel Prize for literature and spawns several spin-offs, including Celebrity 1984 and 1985: Still Watching.
And that, my friends, wraps up the ’40s, which as you can see, was pretty intense. But fear not, because up next, we get pompadours, poodle skirts and prosperity! Stay tuned for…the ’50s!
And we are thisclose to having ticket info available for our April 22 show, Decadent: 100 Years of Burlesque, so be sure to check back often!
See you next time!