Events in Film & Television in 1940

  • Jan 9 James Thurber and Elliott Nugent's stage comedy "The Male Animal" premieres at the Cort Theater. NYC; runs for 243 performances

Film Release

Jan 19 The Three Stooges film "You Nazty Spy!" about the Nazis released with the disclaimer "Any resemblance between the characters in this picture and any persons, living or dead, is a miracle."

  • Jan 22 1st radio broadcast of "Road to Happiness" on CBS

Film Release

Jan 24 "The Grapes of Wrath", directed by John Ford and based on John Steinbeck's novel of the same name, starring Henry Fonda and Jane Darwell, is released

  • Feb 1 NBC performs the first inter-city television broadcast from its station in New York City to another in Schenectady, New York by General Electric relay antennas.

Music History

Feb 2 Frank Sinatra performs at the Lyric Theater in Indianapolis, Indiana, his first as featured singer with the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra

Film Premiere

Feb 7 Walt Disney's second feature length movie, "Pinocchio" premieres (NYC)

Film & TV History

Feb 10 "Tom & Jerry" cartoon created by William Hanna & Joseph Barbera debut by MGM

  • Feb 23 Walt Disney's animated movie "Pinocchio" released
  • Feb 25 1st televised (W2XBS, NYC) hockey game (Rangers vs Canadians)
  • Feb 28 1st televised basketball game (U of Pitts beats Fordham U, 50-37)

Academy Awards

Feb 29 12th Academy Awards: "Gone With The Wind" wins eight Oscars, Robert Donat & Vivien Leigh also win

Film & TV History

Feb 29 Hattie McDaniel becomes 1st African American woman to win an Oscar for "Gone With The Wind"

  • Mar 2 The first televised intercollegiate track meet is seen in NYC on W2XBS; NYU wins the meet presented live from Madison Square Garden

Film Premiere

Mar 14 "The Road to Singapore" directed by Victor Schertzinger starring Bob Hope, Bing Crosby and Dorothy Lamour, first of seven such films premieres

Film Premiere

Mar 21 "Rebecca" based on the book by Daphne du Maurier, directed by Alfred Hitchcock, and starring Laurence Olivier and Joan Fontaine premieres in Miami, Florida (Oscar - Best Picture 1941)

  • Mar 23 1st radio broadcast of "Truth or Consequences" on CBS
  • Apr 21 1st $64 Question, "Take It or Leave It," on CBS Radio
  • Apr 29 1st radio broadcast of "Young Dr Malone" on CBS

Film & TV History

Jun 18 General Charles de Gaulle makes his first speech on the BBC to the French people, since arriving in London, an appeal to defy Nazi occupiers - regarded as the beginning of French Resistance during WWII

  • Jun 29 Batman Comics, mobsters rubbed out a circus highwire team known as the Flying Graysons, leaving their son Dick (Robin) an orphan
  • Jun 30 "Brenda Starr, Reporter", 1st cartoon strip by a woman, Dale [Dalia] Messick, begins as a comic-book supplement to Chicago's Sunday Tribune
  • Jul 19 Nazi occupiers in Netherlands forbid anti-nazi films

#1 in the Charts

Jul 20 Billboard publishes its 1st singles record chart - "I'll Never Smile Again" by Tommy Dorsey, with vocal by Frank Sinatra is #1

  • Jul 27 Bugs Bunny, Warner Bros. cartoon character created by Tex Avery, Bob Givens (Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies series), first debuts in "Wild Hare"
  • Aug 3 German occupiers in France impose censorship rules on film, requiring approval prior to exhibition, and forbidding depiction of German losses in WWI
  • Aug 6 German occupiers in Belgium impose censorship rules on film making and exhibition
  • Sep 4 CBS begins broadcasting TV as station W2XAB

Film Release

Sep 29 Musical film "Strike Up the Band" starring Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland opens

Film Release

Oct 15 "The Great Dictator", a satiric social commentary film by and starring Charlie Chaplin released

Film Premiere

Oct 30 "One Night in the Tropics", first film for Abbott and Costello, premieres in Paterson, New Jersey

  • Nov 10 Walt Disney begins serving as an informer for the Los Angeles office of the FBI; his job is to report back information on Hollywood subversives.
  • Nov 13 Walt Disney's animated film "Fantasia", starring Leopold Stokowski, The Philadelphia Orchestra, Mickey Mouse, and ballet dancing hippopotamuses, premieres at the Broadway Theatre, New York City

Film Release

Dec 26 "The Philadelphia Story" film directed by George Cukor, based on the Broadway play of the same name, starring Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn and James Stewart, is released (Academy Awards Best Actor 1941)