On This Day

What Happened in October 1939

Historical Events

Historic Event

Oct 1 Winston Churchill calls Russia a "riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma"

  • Oct 1 After a one-month Siege of Warsaw, hostile forces entered the city.
  • Oct 3 Lemmer-Urk Dike closes
  • Oct 4 Last Polish troops surrender

Historic Event

Oct 6 Adolf Hitler denies he intends to go to war against France and Britain

  • Oct 6 Adolf Hitler announces plans to regulate Jewish problem
  • Oct 6 Last Polish army is defeated in World War II.
  • Oct 8 Germany annexes Western Poland
  • Oct 8 Baseball World Series: NY Yankees beat Cincinnati Reds, 7-3 at Crosley Field for 4-0 sweep; Yankees 4th straight WS title

Historic Event

Oct 11 Albert Einstein informs FDR of the possibilities of an atomic bomb

  • Oct 11 Bucky Harris signs to manage Washington again

Theater Premiere

Oct 11 Samson Raphaelson's play "Skylark" starring Gertrude Lawrence premieres in NYC

  • Oct 11 NAACP organized Legal Defense & Education Fund
  • Oct 14 BMI (Broadcast Music Incorporated) formed
  • Oct 14 German U-47 sinks British battleship HMS Royal Oak, 833 killed
  • Oct 15 LaGuardia Airport opens in NYC
  • Oct 15 Yeshiva of Mir closes after 124 years
  • Oct 16 Sugar rationing begins in Netherlands

Music History

Oct 16 George Kaufman and Moss Hart's comedy "The Man Who Came to Dinner" opens at the Music Box Theatre, NYC; runs for 739 performances

Film Release

Oct 17 "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington", directed by Frank Capra and starring James Stewart and Jean Arthur, is released

Music Premiere

Oct 18 Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart's musical "Too Many Girls" premieres in NYC

Historic Event

Oct 19 Hermann Goering begins plunder through Nazi's occupied areas

Music History

Oct 20 "All the Things You Are" recorded by Tommy Dorsey Orchestra

Catholic Encyclical

Oct 20 Pope Pius XII publishes his 1st encyclical Summi pontificatus

  • Oct 22 NBC becomes first network to televise a pro football game; Brooklyn Dodgers beat Philadelphia Eagles, 23-14 at Brooklyn's Ebbets Field
  • Oct 24 Nylon stockings go on sale for first time (Wilmington, Delaware)
  • Oct 25 William Saroyan's "Time of Your Life" premieres in NYC
  • Oct 26 Polish Jews forced into obligatory work service
  • Oct 28 Anti-German demonstrations and strikes in Czechoslovakia
  • Oct 28 Spitfire shoots German Heinkel-111 down above Scotland
  • Oct 29 Golden Gate International Exposition closes (1st closure)
  • Oct 29 NHL Babe Seibert Memorial Game: All-Stars beat Montreal 5-3
  • Oct 30 USSR & Germany agree on partitioning Poland, Adolf Hitler deports Jews
  • Oct 30 German U boat fails on attack of English battleship Nelson with Winston Churchill, Dudley Pound & Charles Forbes aboard

Famous Birthdays

  • Oct 1 George Archer, American golfer (US Masters 1969), born in San Francisco, California (d. 2005)
  • Oct 1 Geoffrey Whitehead, English actor
  • Oct 2 Budhi Kunderan, Indian cricket wicketkeeper and batsman (18 Tests; 2 x 100s), born in Mulki, Karnataka (d. 2006)
  • Oct 2 Yury Glazkov, Soviet Air Force officer and cosmonaut (Soyuz 24), born in Moscow (d. 2008)
  • Oct 2 Lolly Vegas [Candido Vasquez], American rock singer (Redbone - "Come And Get Your Love"), born in Coalinga, California (d. 2010)
  • Oct 2 Özcan Arkoç, Turkish soccer goalkeeper (9 caps; Hamburger SV) and manager (Hamburger SV, Hannover 96), born in Hayrabolu, Turkey (d. 2021)
  • Oct 3 'Bullet' Bob Armstrong, American pro wrestler (WWE Hall of Fame), born in Marietta, Georgia (d. 2020)
  • Oct 4 Henson Moore, American politician (Rep-R-LA, 1975-87), born in Lake Charles, Louisiana
  • Oct 5 Marie Laforêt, French singer and actress, born in Soulac-sur-Mer, Gironde France
  • Oct 5 Marie-Claire Blais, French Canadian author and playwright, born in Quebec, Canada
  • Oct 5 Consuelo Ynares-Santiago, Filipino Supreme Court jurist, born in Binangonan, Rizal, Philippines
  • Oct 5 Walter Wolf, Slovenian-Canadian industrialist, born in Graz, Austria
  • Oct 6 Doug Bereuter, American politician (Rep-R-Nebraska, 1979-2004), born in York, Nebraska
  • Oct 6 John LaFalce, American politician (Rep-D-NY, 1975-2003), born in Buffalo, New York
  • Oct 6 Melvyn Bragg, British broadcaster (The South Bank Show, 1978–2010), born in Carlisle, England
  • Oct 7 John Hopcroft, American computer scientist, born in Seattle, Washington
  • Oct 7 Clive James, Australian television presenter, poet writer, born in Kogarah, Australia (d. 2019)
  • Oct 7 Harold Kroto, English chemist and Nobel laureate (1996), born in Wisbech (d. 2016)
  • Oct 7 Colin Cooper, British vocalist and harmonica player (Climax Blues Band - "Couldn't Get It Right"), born in Stafford, England (d. 2008)
  • Oct 7 Joel Brodsky, American photographer, created over 400 album covers (The Doors; Isaac Hayes; Ohio Players), born in Brooklyn, New York (d. 2007)
  • Oct 7 Mel Brown, American-Canadian blues guitarist and singer (Eighteen Pounds of Unclean Chitlings), born in Jackson, Mississippi (d. 2009)
  • Oct 8 Paul Hogan, Australian actor (Crocodile Dundee, Lightning Jack), born in Lightning Ridge, New South Wales, Australia
  • Oct 8 Armando Gentilucci, Italian composer, born in Lecce, Italy (d. 1989)
  • Oct 8 Elvīra Ozoliņa, Soviet javelin thrower (Olympic gold 1960), born in Leningrad
  • Oct 8 Harvey Pekar, American comic book writer (American Splendor), born in Cleveland, Ohio (d. 2010)
  • Oct 8 Lynne Stewart, American defense attorney (known for representing controversial, poor, and often unpopular defendants), born in Brooklyn, New York (d. 2017)
  • Oct 8 Andrew William Thomas, American composer (Three Transformations), born in Ithaca, New York
  • Oct 9 (Overton Vertis) "O.V." Wright, American singer, born in Lenow, Tennessee, (d. 1980)
  • Oct 9 Pierre Mertens, French-Belgian writer (Lettres Clandestines), born in Brussels, Belgium
  • Oct 10 Joe Pitts, American politician (Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Pennsylvania), born in Lexington, Kentucky
  • Oct 11 Franklin Sonn, South African union leader (South African workers), born in Vosburg, South Africa

Maria Bueno

Oct 11 Maria Bueno, Brazilian tennis player (7 Grand Slam singles titles), born in São Paulo, Brazil (d. 2018)

  • Oct 11 Woytec Lowski [Woiciech Wiesidlowski], Polish dancer and ballet master, born in Brzesc, Poland (d. 1995)
  • Oct 12 Carolee Schneemann, American performance artist, born in Fox Chase, Philadelphia
  • Oct 13 Melinda Dillon, American actress (Close Encounters, Slap Shot), born in Hope, Arkansas
  • Oct 13 T. J. Cloutier, American poker player, born in Albany, California

Ralph Lauren

Oct 14 Ralph Lauren, American fashion designer (Chaps, Polo Ralph Lauren), born in The Bronx, New York

  • Oct 15 Carmelo Bossi, Italian light middleweight boxer (Olympic silver 1960), born in Milan, Italy (d. 2014)
  • Oct 15 Willibert Kremer, German soccer coach (MSV Duisburg, Bayer Leverkusen, 1860 Munich, Fortuna Düsseldorf), born in Hochneukirch, Germany (d. 2021)
  • Oct 16 William "Billy" Cox, American bass player (performed with Jimi Hendrix), born in Wheeling, West Virginia

Lee Harvey Oswald

Oct 18 Lee Harvey Oswald, American assassin of JFK, born in New Orleans, Louisiana (d. 1963)

Mike Ditka

Oct 18 Mike Ditka, NFL coach and tight-end (Bears, Cowboys, NFL rookie year 1961), born in Carnegie, Pennsylvania

  • Oct 18 Flavio Cotti, member of the Swiss Federal Council
  • Oct 20 Jay Siegel, American rock bassist (Tokens - "The Lion Sleeps Tonight"), born in Brooklyn, New York
  • Oct 20 Raymond Jones, British keyboardist and songwriter, born in Oldham, England
  • Oct 22 Joaquim Chissano, president of Mozambique (1986- )
  • Oct 22 Ray Jones, rock bassist (Billy J Kramer & The Dakotas)
  • Oct 22 Tony Roberts, actor (Annie Hall, Edge of Night, Lucie Arnaz Show), born in NYC, New York
  • Oct 22 George Cohen, English soccer defender (37 caps; FIFA World Cup 1966; Fulham 459 games), born in London, England
  • Oct 23 Charlie Foxx, American soul songwriter, guitarist, and singer ("Mockingbird"), born in Greensboro, North Carolina (d. 1998)
  • Oct 24 Uri Sharvit, Israeli composer, born in Jerusalem

F. Murray Abraham

Oct 24 F. Murray Abraham, American actor (All the President's Men and Amadeus), born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

  • Oct 25 Robin Spry, Canadian filmmaker and producer (Action: The October Crisis of 1970), born in Toronto, Ontario (d. 2005)
  • Oct 25 Zelmo Beaty, American Basketball HOF center (2 × NBA All-Star; 3 × ABA All-Star; St Louis Hawks, Utah Stars, LA Lakers), born in Hillister, Texas (d. 2013)
  • Oct 26 Vladimir Mikhailovich Beloborodov, Russian cosmonaut, born in Oloviyanna, Chita Region, Russia

John Cleese

Oct 27 John Cleese, English actor and comedian (Monty Python), born in Weston-super-Mare, Somerset

  • Oct 27 Dallas Frazier, American country music songwriter ("Alley Oop"; "Elvira"; "There Goes My Everything"), born in Spiro, Oklahoma (d. 2022)
  • Oct 28 Jane Alexander, American actress (Betsy, Kramer vs Kramer), born in Boston, Massachusetts
  • Oct 28 Miroslav Cerar, Yugoslav gymnast (Olypmics gold 1964, 68), born in Ljubljana, Kingdom of Yugoslavia
  • Oct 28 Andy Bey, American jazz singer and pianist (Horace Silver; Gary Bartz), born in Newark, New Jersey
  • Oct 30 Grace Slick, American rock vocalist (Jefferson Airplane - "White Rabbit"), born in Highland Park, Illinois
  • Oct 30 Norman West, American singer (The Soul Children - "Hearsay,"; "Give 'em Love"), born in Lake Providence, Louisiana
  • Oct 30 Leland H. Hartwell, American scientist (Nobel 2001 - discoveries of protein molecules that control the division (duplication) of cells), born in Los Angeles, California
  • Oct 30 Emily Howell Warner, American pilot, 1st woman to captain a commercial American airline plane, born in Denver, Colorado (d. 2020)
  • Oct 30 Eddie Holland, American singer ("Jamie"), lyricist, vocal arranger, and producer (Holland–Dozier–Holland - "Heat Wave"; "Where Did Our Love Go"; "You Keep Me Hanging On"), and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member, born in Detroit, Michigan
  • Oct 31 Ron Rifkin, American actor (Arvin Sloane-Alias, L.A. Confidential), born in NYC, New York
  • Oct 31 Tom O'Connor, British comedian and TV game show host, born in Bootle, Lancashire, England (d. 2021)
  • Oct 31 Ali Farka Touré, Malian musician, born in Timbuktu Region, Mali (d. 2006)
  • Oct 31 John Guerin, American session and touring jazz-rock drummer and percussionist (Frank Zappa; L.A. Express; Joni Mitchell: Linda Ronstadt), born in Hawaii (d. 2004)

Famous Divorces

Divorce of Interest

Oct 11 Actor Jackie Coogan (24) divorces actress Betty Grable (22) after 2 years of marriage

Famous Deaths

  • Oct 7 Harvey Cushing, American neurosurgeon (blood pressure studies), dies at 70
  • Oct 10 Eleanor Rigby, a real person whose name may have suggested the title to The Beatles song (b. 1895)
  • Oct 16 Ludolf Nielsen, Danish composer, dies at 63
  • Oct 21 Nummy Deane, cricketer (628 runs in 17 Tests for South Africa), dies
  • Oct 23 Zane Grey, American western writer (Spirit of the Border), dies at 67
  • Oct 25 Cornelis JK van Aalst, president Dutch Business Society, dies at 73
  • Oct 28 Alice Brady, American silent and talkie film actress (My Man Godfrey; The Gay Divorcee; Zenobia), dies of cancer at 46
  • Oct 29 Dwight B. Waldo, American educator (first President of Western Michigan University), dies at 75
  • Oct 31 Otto Rank [Rosenfeld], Austria psychoanalyst (Trauma of Geburt), dies