On This Day

Year 1939 in Film & Television

Events in Film & TV


Film release premierFilm Premier

Feb 10 "Stagecoach" western film directed by John Ford, starring Claire Trevor and John Wayne, premieres in Miami

Event of interestEvent of Interest

Feb 14 Victor Fleming replaces George Cukor as director of film "Gone With the Wind"

Director Victor Fleming
Director
Victor Fleming
Director George Cukor
Director
George Cukor

Music releaseTheater Premiere

Feb 15 Lillian Hellman's play "The Little Foxes" premieres in New York City

Playwright Lillian Hellman
Playwright
Lillian Hellman

Event of interestEvent of Interest

Feb 23 Lou Thesz beats Everett Marshall in St Louis, to win National Boxing Association world heavyweight title for 2nd time

Professional Wrestler Lou Thesz
Professional Wrestler
Lou Thesz

Film tv awardsAcademy Awards

Feb 23 11th Academy Awards: "You Can’t Take It With You", Spencer Tracy & Bette Davis wins

Film release premierFilm Premier

Mar 24 "Wuthering Heights" based on the novel by Emily Brontë, directed by William Wyler and starring Merle Oberon and Laurence Olivier, premieres in Los Angeles

Actor Laurence Olivier
Actor
Laurence Olivier
Writer Emily Brontë
Writer
Emily Brontë
Film Director William Wyler
Film Director
William Wyler

Film release premierFilm Release

Mar 31 "The Hound of Baskervilles" first of 14 films starring Basil Rathbone as Sherlock Holmes and Nigel Bruce as Dr. Watson is released

  • Apr 17 SN Behrman's "No Time for Comedy" premieres in NYC

Event of interestEvent of Interest

Apr 30 NBC/RCA 1st public TV demo with FDR at opening of NY World's Fair

32nd US President Franklin D. Roosevelt
32nd US President
Franklin D. Roosevelt

Historic PublicationBatman Appears!

May 1 Batman first appears in Detective Comics #27

Learn More
Cover page of Detective Comics #27, the first comic in which Batman appeared
Cover page of Detective Comics #27, the first comic in which Batman appeared
Learn More
  • May 17 1st televised baseball game is broadcast on NBC, with Princeton defeating Columbia 2-1
  • Jun 1 First major boxing match on US television is the heavyweight bout from NY's Yankee Stadium between former world champion Max Baer and Lou Nova; Nova wins by TKO in 11th round
  • Jun 10 MGM cartoon character Barney Bear debuts
  • Jun 12 Shooting begins on Paramount Pictures' Dr. Cyclops, the first horror film photographed in three-strip Technicolor.

Event of interestEvent of Interest

Jun 23 Bronko Nagurski beats Lou Thesz in Houston, to win National Wrestling Association world heavyweight title

Hall of Fame American Football Player Bronko Nagurski
Hall of Fame American Football Player
Bronko Nagurski
Professional Wrestler Lou Thesz
Professional Wrestler
Lou Thesz
  • Jul 7 "The Rules of the Game", French film directed by Jean Renoir, starring Nora Gregor and Paulette Dubost, premieres in Paris

Event of interestEvent of Interest

Jul 13 Frank Sinatra makes his recording debut

Singer and Actor Frank Sinatra
Singer and Actor
Frank Sinatra

Event of interestEvent of Interest

Aug 6 1st broadcast of "Dinah Shore Show" on NBC-radio

Singer, Actress and TV Personality Dinah Shore
Singer, Actress and TV Personality
Dinah Shore

Event of interestEvent of Interest

Aug 8 7th Venice Film Festival opens with a United States boycott due to Benito Mussolini's Fascist Italian regime

Italian Dictator Benito Mussolini
Italian Dictator
Benito Mussolini

Film PremierThe Wizard of Oz

Aug 15 "The Wizard of Oz", American musical fantasy film directed by Victor Fleming and King Vidor, premieres at Grauman's Chinese Theatre, Hollywood, starring Judy Garland (Dorothy), Ray Bolger (Scarecrow), Jack Haley (Tin Man), Bert Lahr (Cowardly Lion), Frank Morgan (Wizard), Billie Burke (Glinda), and Margaret Hamilton (Wicked Witch)

Learn More
Publicity still of the Wizard of Oz, showing the Tin Man, Scarecrow, Dorothy and Cowardly Lion
Publicity still of the Wizard of Oz, showing the Tin Man, Scarecrow, Dorothy and Cowardly Lion
Learn More
  • Sep 30 In the first televised college football game, Fordham beats Waynesburg, 34-7 at Randalls Island, NY

Event of interestEvent of Interest

Oct 11 Gertrude Lawrence's "Skylark" premieres in NYC

Actress and Musical Performer Gertrude Lawrence
Actress and Musical Performer
Gertrude Lawrence

Film release premierFilm Release

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

Film Director Frank Capra
Film Director
Frank Capra
Actor James Stewart
Actor
James Stewart
  • Oct 22 NBC becomes first network to televise a pro football game; Brooklyn Dodgers beat Philadelphia Eagles, 23-14 at Brooklyn's Ebbets Field
  • Nov 6 WRGB TV channel 6 in Schenectady-Alby-Troy, NY (CBS) 1st broadcast

Event of interestEvent of Interest

Nov 9 "Ninotchka" with Greta Garbo premieres

Actress Greta Garbo
Actress
Greta Garbo

Film release premierFilm Premier

Dec 15 "Gone With the Wind", drama film directed by Victor Fleming and starring Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh, premieres in Atlanta (Best Picture 1940, inflation not adjusted highest-grossing film of all time)

Film release premierFilm Release

Dec 30 "Of Mice and Men", starring Burgess Meredith as George, Lon Chaney Jr. as Lennie, is released


Birthdays in Film & TV

  • Jan 1 Michèle Mercier, French actress (Angelique, Marquise des Anges.), born in Nice, France
  • Jan 9 Susannah York, English actress (They Shoot Horses, Don't They?, Superman), born in London, England
  • Jan 10 Sal Mineo, American actor (Exodus, Rebel Without a Cause), born in NYC, New York (d. 1976)
  • Jan 17 Maury Povich, TV host (Current Affair, Maury)/Mr Connie Chung
  • Jan 23 Sonny Chiba, Japanese actor & martial artist, born in Fukuoka, Japan
  • Jan 31 Claude Gauthier, Canadian folk singer-songwriter, and actor, born in Lac-Saguay, Quebec
  • Feb 5 Jane Bryant Quinn, newscaster/financial writer (Everyone's Money Book), born in Niagara Falls, New York
  • Feb 6 Mike Farrell, American actor & director & activist (M*A*S*H; Battered; Patch Adams), born in Saint Paul, Minnesota
  • Feb 9 Janet Suzman, South African actress (Dry White Season, Nuns on the Run)
  • Feb 10 Peter Purves, English television presenter and actor (Doctor Who, Blue Peter), born in Preston, Lancashire
  • Feb 12 John D Hancock, American actor and director (Black Marble, Traxx, Houston Knights), born in Kansas City, Missouri
  • Feb 14 Michael Rudman, English theater director and producer (Donkeys' Years)
  • Feb 17 Mary Ann Mobley, American model and actress (Miss America-1959, Diff'rent Strokes), Biloxi Mississippi (d. 2014)
  • Feb 18 Petronella CM "Carletta" Banning, actress (Potasch & Perlemoer)
  • Feb 19 Gwen Taylor, British actress (Life of Brian, Sob Sisters, Screaming)
  • Feb 21 Richard Beymer, Avoca IA, actor (West Side Story, Diary of Anne Frank)
  • Feb 25 Marisa Mell, Graz Austria, actress (Masquerade, Casanova '70)
  • Feb 26 Josephine Tewson, English actress, born in Hampstead, United Kingdom
  • Mar 2 Barbara Luna, American actress (5 Weeks in a Balloon, Gentle Savage), born in NYC, New York
  • Mar 4 Carlos Vereza, Brazilian actor
  • Mar 5 Samantha Eggar, English actress (Collector, Dr Doolittle) [or May 3], born in London, England
  • Mar 5 Norman Seeff, South African-American photographer and filmmaker, born in Johannesburg, South Africa
  • Mar 6 David Spielberg, Weslaco Tx, actor (Jessica Novak, The Practice)
  • Mar 8 Jim Bouton, American baseball pitcher, author and broadcaster (NY Yankees, MLB All Star 1968, "Ball Four"), born in Newark, New Jersey (d. 2019)
  • Mar 14 Bertrand Blier, novelist/director (Going Places), born in Paris, France
  • Mar 14 Raymond J. Barry, American actor
  • Mar 21 Kathleen Widdoes, actress (Without a Trace), born in Wilmington, Delaware
  • Mar 23 Bert Berdis, Pitts, comedian (Tim Conway Show)
  • Mar 26 Phillip R Allen, Pitts, actor (Harry-Hardy Boys Mystery, Mitch-Alice)
  • Apr 1 Ali MacGraw, American actress (Love Story, Goodbye Columbus), born in Pound Ridge, New York
  • Apr 3 Catalino "Lino" Brocka, Filipino film director (Macho Dancer, Jaguar), born in Pilar, Sorsogon, Philippines (d. 1991)
  • Apr 3 François de Roubaix, French film score composer, born in Neuilly-sur-Seine, France (d. 1975)
  • Apr 5 David Winters, American choreographer and director (Steve Allen Comedy Hour), born in London, England
  • Apr 7 David Frost, Tenterdon England, TV host (That Was the Week That Was), (d. 2013)

Person of interestFrancis Ford Coppola

Apr 7 Francis Ford Coppola, American director (The Godfather, Apocalypse Now), born in Detroit, Michigan

  • Apr 9 Michael Learned, American actress (Olivia in The Waltons, Nurse), born in Washington, D.C.
  • Apr 11 Louise Lasser, American actress (Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman - "Mary Hartman"), born in NYC, New York
  • Apr 13 Paul Sorvino, American actor (Chiefs, Dick Tracy), born in Brooklyn, New York
  • Apr 16 Donald MacCormick, British broadcaster, born in Scotland (d. 2009)
  • Apr 16 Boris Dvornik, Croatian actor, born in Split, Kingdom of Yugoslavia (d. 2008)
  • Apr 19 Ellen Weston, American actress (Betty-SWAT), born in NYC, New York
  • Apr 20 Peter S. Beagle, American novelist and screenwriter (The Last Unicorn), born in NYC, New York
  • Apr 22 Jason Miller, American actor and writer (Exorcist, Light of Day), born in Scranton, Pennsylvania (d. 2001)
  • Apr 23 David Birney, American actor (Brigette Loves Bernie, St Elsewhere), born in Washington, D.C.
  • Apr 23 Lee Majors [Harvey Lee Yeary], American film and TV actor ($6,000,000 Man, The Fall Guy), born in Wyandotte, Michigan
  • Apr 27 Judy Carne, English comedienne and actress (Laugh-In, Love on a Rooftop), born in Northampton, England (d. 2015)

Person of interestMax Robinson

May 1 Max Robinson, 1st African American network TV anchor (ABC), born in Richmond, Virginia (d. 1988)

1st African-American Network TV Anchor Max Robinson
1st African-American Network TV Anchor
Max Robinson
  • May 1 Ray Aranha, actor (Nick-Married People), born in Miami, Florida
  • May 4 Paul Gleason, American actor (Breakfast Club, Die Hard), born in Jersey City, New Jersey (d. 2006)
  • May 6 Chet Allen, American child actor (Amahl and the Night Visitors), born in Chickasha Oklahoma (d. 1984)
  • May 7 Marco St John, American actor (Rayford-Ball Four), born in New Orleans, Louisiana
  • May 9 Pierre Desproges, French humorist (d. 1988)
  • May 13 Harvey Keitel, actor (Taxi Driver, Pulp Fiction, Reservoir Dogs)
  • May 19 Henry Herbert, 17th earl of Pembroke, English peer and director (Emily) (d. 2003)
  • May 19 James Fox, English actor (The Servant), born in London, England
  • May 19 Nancy Kwan, Hong Kong-born American actress (Flower Drum Song, World of Suzie Wong), born in Hong Kong
  • May 25 Dixie Carter, American actress (Designing Women, Edge of Night), born in McLemoresville, Tennessee (d. 2010)

Person of interestIan McKellen

May 25 Sir Ian McKellen, English film and theatre actor (Lord of the Rings, X-Men), born in Burnley Lancashire

  • May 26 Brent Musburger, American sportscaster (CBS Sports, The NFL Today; ESPN, ABC; VSiN; radio play-by-play Las Vegas Raiders), born in Portland, Oregon
  • May 30 Michael J Pollard, actor (Bonny & Clyde, Roxanne), born in Passaic, New Jersey
  • Jun 1 Cleavon Little, actor (Blazing Saddles, Toy Soldiers), born in Chickasha Oklahoma (d. 1992)
  • Jun 3 Steve Dalkowski, American baseball player and inspiration for Bull Durham film, born in New Britain, Connecticut (d. 2020)
  • Jun 8 Bernie Casey, American actor (Boxcar Bertha, Rent-a-Cop), born in Wyco, West Virginia (d. 2017)
  • Jun 9 Dick Vitale, American basketball sportscaster (ESPN), born in Passaic, New Jersey
  • Jun 10 Alexandra Stewart, actress (In Praise of Older Women), born in Montreal, Quebec
  • Jun 11 Christina Crawford, American actress and author (Mommie Dearest), born in Los Angeles, California
  • Jun 27 R. D. Burman, Indian film score composer (1942: A Love Story), born in Calcutta, Bengal Presidency, British India (d. 1994)
  • Jun 30 John Fortune [John C. Wood], English satirist and comedian (Bremner, Bird and Fortune), born in Bristol, England (d. 2013)
  • Jul 1 Frank Parker, American actor (Days of our Lives, Never Too Young), born in Darby, Pennsylvania (2018)
  • Jul 1 Karen Black, American actress (5 Easy Pieces, Pyx), born in Park Ridge, Illinois (d. 2013)
  • Jul 4 Ed Bernard, American actor (Joe-Police Woman, Jim-White Shadow), born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • Jul 10 Lawrence Pressman, American actor (Man From Atlantis, Hellstrom Chronicle), born in Cynthiana, Kentucky
  • Jul 12 Phillip Adams, Australian humanist and broadcaster (Late Night Live), born in Maryborough, Victoria
  • Jul 14 Sid Haig [Sidney Mosesian], American actor (House of 1000 Corpses, Jason of Star Command), born in Fresno, California
  • Jul 15 Patrick Wayne, actor (Rounder, Shirley, Beyond Atlantis), born in Los Angeles, California
  • Jul 16 Corin Redgrave, British actor (Excalibur, A Man For All Seasons), born in London (d. 2010)
  • Jul 16 Mary Parkinson, British broadcaster, born in Doncaster, West Riding
  • Jul 17 Andrée Champagne, French Canadian actress and politician, born in Saint-Hyacinthe, Quebec
  • Jul 22 Gila Almagor, Israeli actress
  • Jul 27 Irv Cross, American football cornerback (Pro Bowl 1964, 65; Philadelphia Eagles) and broadcaster (CBS), born in Hammond, Indiana (d. 2021)
  • Jul 27 James Victor, Dominican-American actor (Boulevard Night, Streets of LA), born in Santiago Province, Dominican Republic (d. 2016)
  • Jul 30 Peter Bogdanovich, American director and producer (Last Picture Show), born in Kingston, New York
  • Jul 31 France Nuyen, Vietnamese-French actress (St Elsewhere, Diamond Head), born in Marseilles, France
  • Aug 2 Wes Craven, American film director (Nightmare on Elm Street, Scream), born in Cleveland, Ohio (d. 2015)
  • Aug 4 Frank Vincent, American actor (The Sopranos), born in North Adams, Massachusetts (d. 2017)
  • Aug 7 Verna Bloom, American actress (After Hours, Badge 373), born in Lynn, Massachusetts (d. 2019)
  • Aug 7 Anjanette Comer, American actress (Baby, Lepke), born in Dawson, Texas
  • Aug 10 Kate O'Mara, Leicaster England, actress (Caress Morell-Dynasty, AbFab)
  • Aug 12 George Hamilton, American actor (Love at First Bite), born in Memphis, Tennessee
  • Aug 16 Carol Shelley, actress (Gwendolyn Pidgeon-Odd Couple), born in London, England
  • Aug 17 Anthony Valentine, British actor (Colditz), born in Blackburn, Lancashire (d. 2015)
  • Aug 18 Molly Bee, American actress (Pinky Lee Show), born in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma (d. 2009)
  • Aug 18 Harald Heide-Steen Jr., Norwegian actor and comedian, born in Oslo, Norway (d. 2008)
  • Aug 20 Fernando Poe Jr., Filipino actor and politician (2004 presidential candidate), born in Manila, Commonwealth of the Philippines (d. 2004)
  • Aug 21 Clarence Williams III, American actor (Mod Squad, 52 Pick Up, Purple Rain), born in NYC, New York
  • Aug 22 Valerie Harper, American actress (The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Rhoda), born in Suffern, New York
  • Aug 25 Liselot Beekmeyer, Dutch actress (Issue Blum), born in Schiedam, Netherlands
  • Aug 28 [Catherine] Cassie Mackin, American newswoman (NBC TV) and 1st woman to regularly anchor an evening network newscast alone, born in Baltimore, Maryland (d. 1982)
  • Aug 29 Joel Schumacher, American film director (Lost Boys, Batman), born in New York City (d. 2020)
  • Aug 30 Elizabeth Ashley, American actress (Coma, Evening Shade), born in Ocala, Florida

Weddings in Film & TV


LoveWedding of Interest

Feb 4 Singer Frank Sinatra (23) marries 1st wife Nancy Barbato

Singer and Actor Frank Sinatra
Singer and Actor
Frank Sinatra

LoveWedding of Interest

Mar 29 "Gone with the Wind" actor Clark Gable (37) weds actress Carole Lombard (30) at the rectory of Saint John's Methodist Episcopal Church in Kingman, Arizona

  • Apr 22 Actor and naval officer of World War II Douglas Fairbanks Jr (29) weds Huntington Hartford's former wife Mary Lee Hartford

LoveWedding of Interest

Aug 4 Philosopher of communication theory Marshall McLuhan (28) weds teacher and aspiring actress Corinne Lewis (27)

Philosopher of Communication Theory Marshall McLuhan
Philosopher of Communication Theory
Marshall McLuhan

LoveWedding of Interest

Aug 14 "A Star Is Born" actress Janet Gaynor (32) weds MGM costume designer Adrian (36)

Actress Janet Gaynor
Actress
Janet Gaynor

LoveWedding of Interest

Aug 20 "Rebecca" actress Joan Fontaine (21) weds actor Brian Aherne (37)

Actress Joan Fontaine
Actress
Joan Fontaine

LoveWedding of Interest

Nov 4 Actress and comedian Phyllis Diller (22) weds inspector Sherwood Diller in Covington, Kentucky

Comedienne and Actress Phyllis Diller
Comedienne and Actress
Phyllis Diller

LoveWedding of Interest

Nov 19 Baseball legend Joe DiMaggio (24) weds "Freshies" actress Dorothy Arnold at St. Peter and Paul Church in San Francisco

Baseball Player Joe DiMaggio
Baseball Player
Joe DiMaggio

Divorces in Film & TV


Broken heartDivorce of Interest

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

Film actress Betty Grable
Film actress
Betty Grable
Actor Jackie Coogan
Actor
Jackie Coogan

Deaths in Film & TV

  • Jan 10 Jameson Thomas, British actor (Piccadilly, Farmer's Wife), dies from tuberculosis at 50
  • Apr 18 Theo Mann, Dutch actress (Pink Bernd, Hedda Gabler), dies at 88
  • Jun 9 Owen Moore, Irish actor (She Done Him Wrong), commits suicide at 52
  • Jun 18 Frans "Sas" van Aerschot, Flemish operetta actor (Paljas), dies at 73
  • Sep 5 Cornelis J "Cor" van Ast, Dutch actor and director (Ghost Hotel, Two Boys), dies at 67
  • Sep 24 Carl Laenmie, German-born American film producer (Universal Pictures), dies at 72
  • Oct 28 Alice Brady, American actress (My Man Godfrey, Gay Divorcee), dies at 46
  • Nov 12 Oscar [Bachigaloupi] Tourniaire, Dutch actor and director (Pink Kate), dies at 59
  • Nov 13 George Nicholls Jr, actor (Finishing School), dies at 42
  • Nov 13 Lois Weber, American film director who became the first American woman to direct a full feature-length film (The Merchant of Venice) and the first to own her own studio, dies of a stomach ulcer at 60

Person of interestDouglas Fairbanks

Dec 12 Douglas Fairbanks, American actor (The Mark of Zorro, 3 Musketeers, Robin Hood), dies from a heart attack at 56

  • Dec 19 Willem Benoy, Flemish actor and director (The White), dies at 57