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1942: Publishing; arts and music; popular entertainment; architecture; theatre.

Far from destroying the performing arts, World War II gave them an impetus they had not enjoyed for years. Producers scrambled for available playhouses, selling tickets at high prices and counting their profits. Entertainment-hungry civilians and servicemen were given escapist fare, in most cases unclad ladies of the chorus dancing to a loud pit orchestra. Hundreds of serious artists and musicians were absorbed into the armed forces. Architects responded to the demand for fast, prefabricated housing. This year Americans also mourned the loss of some artistic greats: John Barrymore, youngest member of the celebrated family of actors, May 29, at 60; Carole Lombard, actress and wife of Clark Gable, in a plane crash while returning home from a War Bond drive, Jan. 16, at 32; and Grant Wood, known best for American Gothic (1930), his portrait of a dour farm couple, Feb. 12, at 50.

Among books published this year was The Moon Is Down by John Steinbeck, a novel about the military occupation of a small town and the effect of that occupation on both conqueror and conquered. The book was published simultaneously with its dramatization on the New York City stage, an experiment that proved successful. Other books published this year included The Just and the Unjust by James Gould Cozzens, a novel about American lawyers; The Robe by Lloyd C. Douglas; Go Down, Moses by William Faulkner, a collection of stories that included Faulkner's novelette "The Bear"; and See Here, Private Hargrove by Marion Hargrove, an immensely popular chronicle of the soldier's life.

This year's popular songs included "White Christmas," "Be Careful, It's My Heart," "I left My Heart at the Stage Door Canteen," "The White Cliffs of Dover," "Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition," "Sleepy Lagoon," and "Blues in the Night."

The biggest box office draw this year was the comedy team of Bud Abbott and Lou Costello. Mickey Rooney, the top attraction for the past three years, fell to fourth place, behind Clark Gable and Gary Cooper.

Feb. 26

Academy Awards were presented to How Green Was My Valley as the outstanding motion picture of 1941; to Gary Cooper as best actor for Sergeant York; to Joan Fontaine as best actress for Suspicion; to Donald Crisp as best supporting actor for How Green Was My Valley; and to Mary Astor as best supporting actress for The Great Lie. Walt Disney was presented with three awards, including one in recognition of his general contribution to the motion picture industry.

Apr. 14

Social Justice, a weekly published by Rev. Charles E. Coughlin, was banned from the mails. Attorney General Francis Biddle charged the magazine had violated the Espionage Act of 1917.

Apr. 14

Solomon and Balkis, a new opera by Randall Thompson, was given a radio premiere from Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.

May 1

The opera A Tree on the Plain by Ernst Bacon was given its first performance at Converse College in Spartanburg, S.C.

May 4

Pulitzer prizes were awarded for the following: fiction, In This Our Life by Ellen Glasgow; biography, Crusader in Crinoline by Forrest Wilson; history, Reveille in Washington by Margaret Leech; poetry, The Dust Which Is God by William Rose Benet.

Aug. 3

A lawsuit was filed against American Federation of Musicians' president James C. Petrillo by the Justice Department, charging the union's ban on recorded music for radio and jukebox violated antitrust laws. The suit was dismissed in Chicago on Oct. 12.

Oct. 7

The Eve of St. Mark by Maxwell Anderson, the first Broadway play to depict American soldiers fighting in World War II, opened at the Cort Theatre in New York City.

Oct. 16

Rodeo, a ballet with score by Aaron Copland, was produced in New York City by the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, starring Agnes de Mille.

Nov. 18

The Skin of Our Teeth by Thornton Wilder, a philosophical fantasy, opened at the Plymouth Theatre in New York City. In the play the symbolic character of Mr. Antrobus, played by Frederic March, traced the history of man, showing his foibles, courage, and persistence.

Dec. 28

Artur Rodzinski, conductor of the Cleveland Symphony Orchestra, became musical director and regular conductor of the New York Philharmonic Symphony.
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Author:Carruth, Gorton
Publication:Encyclopedia of American Facts & Dates, 9th ed.
Article Type:Reference Source
Date:Jan 1, 1993
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