A Year In History: 1949

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This Year in History:

1949

Discover what happened in this year with HISTORY’s summaries of major events, anniversaries, famous births and notable deaths.

February 2

United States rejects proposal for conference with Stalin

In response to Soviet leader Joseph Stalin’s proposal that President Harry S. Truman travel to Russia for a conference, Secretary of State Dean Acheson brusquely rejects the idea as a “political maneuver.” This rather curious exchange was further evidence of the diplomatic sparring between the United States and the Soviet Union that was so characteristic […]

February 8

Cardinal Mindszenty of Hungary sentenced

Cardinal József Mindszenty, the highest Catholic official in Hungary, is convicted of treason and sentenced to life imprisonment by the Communist People’s Court. Outraged observers in Western Europe and the United States condemned both the trial and Mindszenty’s conviction as “perversions” and “lynchings.” Mindszenty was no stranger to political persecution. During World War II, Hungary’s fascist government […]

April 4

North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) pact signed

The United States and 11 other nations establish the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), a mutual defense pact aimed at containing possible Soviet aggression against Western Europe. NATO stood as the main U.S.-led military alliance against the Soviet Union throughout the duration of the Cold War. Relations between the United States and the Soviet Union […]

April 7

Tony-winning musical “South Pacific” opens on Broadway

On April 7, 1949, the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical South Pacific opens at the Majestic Theatre on Broadway in New York City. The romantic musical about World War II, which touches on controversial racial themes, goes on to run for almost five years, becoming one of the most popular musicals of the 1950s. The show […]

May 2

Arthur Miller’s “Death of a Salesman” wins the Pulitzer Prize for drama

On May 2, 1949, New York playwright Arthur Miller wins a Pulitzer Prize in Drama for “Death of a Salesman,” the most famous work of his career. Miller describes the story as “the tragedy of a man who gave his life, or sold it” while pursuing the elusive American Dream. The play, which premiered on […]

May 11

Evidence found against French serial killer known as “The Queen of Poisoners”

The body of Leon Besnard is exhumed in Loudun, France, by authorities searching for evidence of poison. For years, local residents had been suspicious of his wife Marie, as they watched nearly her entire family die untimely and mysterious deaths. Law enforcement officials finally began investigating Marie after the death of her mother earlier in […]

May 27

Marilyn Monroe poses for “red velvet” nude photo session

On May 27, 1949, unemployed 22-year-old model-actress Marilyn Monroe receives $50 for posing nude for a Los Angeles photographer against a red velvet backdrop. The picture will go on to become the most famous calendar photo in history and the principal attraction in the first issue of Playboy magazine. It will also risk destroying Monroe’s […]

June 8

FBI report names Hollywood figures as communists

Hollywood figures, including film stars Fredric March, John Garfield, Paul Muni, and Edward G. Robinson, are named in a FBI report as Communist Party members. Such reports helped to fuel the anticommunist hysteria in the United States during the late-1940s and 1950s. The FBI report relied largely on accusations made by “confidential informants,” supplemented with […]

August 3

NBA is born

On August 3, 1949, after a damaging three-year battle to win both players and fans, the rival Basketball Association of America (BAA) and National Basketball League (NBL) merge to form the National Basketball Association (NBA). The BAA incorporated in 1946, challenging the hegemony of the nine-year old NBL. The BAA established itself in bigger cities […]