Pop Culture of the 1930s

Pop Culture of the 1930s
What Happened During the 1930s?
The 1930s was a difficult time for Americans, but this was a golden era for
the arts, culture, and even sports.
What will we discuss?
Technology & Inventions
But first...
What did the 1930s think the 2000s would look like?
1930s Film
By the end of the 1930s, close to 65% (75m people) of the United States
would attend the movies once a week.
Movies varied in genre in a similar fashion to modern day box office hits.
“Talkies” saw an end to an era of silent films (such as works from Charlie
Chaplin) and led to a new rise of Hollywood stars…
Movie stars were celebrated for their works. Some of the more prominent
included: Clark Gable, Shirley Temple, Fred Astaire, James Cagney, and more.
Gone With The Wind
Scarlett Meets Rhett
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
Snow White Eats the Apple
The Wizard of Oz
Somewhere Over the Rainbow
"It's Alive!"
1930s Radio
During the 1930s, radio sales tripled from 10m early in the decade to 30m by
the time the 1940s rolled around.
90% of all households in the United States had at least one radio.
Outside of President Roosevelt’s “Fireside Chats”, radio programs often drew
large audiences and would see several stars rise from radio stars to television
stars in the 40s and 50s.
Swing music becomes very popular during the 1930s
War of the Worlds
October 30th, 1938:
Orson Welles takes to the radio waves with a breaking report that extraterrestrial beings
had made contact with planet earth. CBS radio and Welles begin to tell their story…
"It is reported that at 8:50 p.m. a huge, flaming object, believed to be a meteorite, fell on a farm in
the neighborhood of Grovers Mill, New Jersey, twenty-two miles from Trenton."
Welles then speaks to Carl Phillips via the telephone wherein Phillips reports the following:
“Ladies and gentlemen, this is the most terrifying thing I have ever witnessed. . . . Wait a minute!
Someone's crawling. Someone or . . . something. I can see peering out of that black hole two
luminous disks . . . are they eyes? It might be a face. It might be . . . good heavens, something's
wriggling out of the shadow like a gray snake. Now it's another one, and another one, and
another one. They look like tentacles to me. There, I can see the thing's body. It's large as a bear
and it glistens like wet leather. But that face, it . . . ladies and gentlemen, it's indescribable. I can
hardly force myself to keep looking at it, it's so awful. The eyes are black and gleam like a serpent.
The mouth is kind of V-shaped with saliva dripping from its rimless lips that seem to quiver and
War of the Worlds
“A humped shape is rising out of the pit. I can make out a small beam of light against a mirror.
What's that? There's a jet of flame springing from the mirror, and it leaps right at the advancing
men. It strikes them head on! Good Lord, they're turning into flame! Now the whole field's caught
fire. The woods . . . the barns . . . the gas tanks of automobiles . . it's spreading everywhere. It's
coming this way. About twenty yards to my right…
“Ladies and gentlemen, I have just been handed a message that came in from Grovers Mill by
telephone. Just one moment please. At least forty people, including six state troopers, lie dead in a
field east of the village of Grovers Mill, their bodies burned and distorted beyond all possible
“Citizens of the nation: I shall not try to conceal the gravity of the situation that confronts the
country, nor the concern of your government in protecting the lives and property of its people. . . .
we must continue the performance of our duties each and every one of us, so that we may
confront this destructive adversary with a nation united, courageous, and consecrated to the
preservation of human supremacy on this earth.”
What many did not hear, as they tuned in late to the program, was that this was only a
reconstructed script of H.G. Wells novel, War of the Worlds…
The First Tripod Lands...
War of the Worlds
Broadcast by Orson Welles
1930s Art
Many New Deal programs, mainly the Works Progress Administration, sought
to depict the realities of the Depression through federal funding.
Outside of realistic depictions of life during the 1930s, many artists also
sought to inspire Americans and lift their spirits.
1930s Art
Art Deco rises as an architectural style.
1930s Sports
Night games begin to be played under floodlights to combat falling crowd turnouts
Joe Dimaggio starts his career with the Yankees in 1936
The Baseball Hall of Fame opens in 1939 in Cooperstown, New York. First inductees to
be chosen include Ty Cobb and Babe Ruth among others.
The NCAA hosts the first college championship tournament in 1939. The Final Four
would include Villanova, Oklahoma, Oregon, and Ohio State… Who would win?
Oregon (First and only NCAA title)
The NFL draft begins and we see field goal posts moved to the back of the end zone.
The first World Cup is played in Uruguay.
Uruguay would win its first of two World Cup titles. Argentina would finish runners up.
The United States would defeat Yugoslavia in the bronze medal match.
1930s Technology and Inventions
The 1920s was a boom period in American innovation and technology, but the
1930s would also set new benchmarks for industry:
- Tea Bags Are introduced and sold commercially
- The First Photocopier is invented, but would not be available for public sale until 1948.
- The increase in use of radio for entertainment leads to innovations in how aircraft
communicate from land to air.
- Air travel establishes regular transatlantic passenger flights via zeppelin after the
accomplishments of aviators during the 1920s.
Ballpoint pens
Electric razors

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