What Did People Do for Entertainment in the 1940s?

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Entertainment and pop culture of the 1940s were heavily influenced by World War II. The need for news about the war turned radio into a mass medium. An estimated 90 million Americans went to the movies every week and watched live-action and animated films that often featured war themes. Popular music began focusing on themes of loss and love.

In America, the radio became the center of entertainment and news alike. Listeners who tired of war news could switch to another program and tune into broadcasts of quiz shows, soap operas, dramas, and more. The most famous radio show was the Lux Radio Theater, which was performed live on stage in front of a studio audience. The program lasted an hour and starred famous Hollywood personalities who performed an hour-long version of a movie. During the ’50s the program was retooled into the Lux Video Theater for TV.

In Nazi Germany, teenagers disaffected with the government started using jazz music to fight back. They were known as the Swing Kids and parodied the Nazi party. Swing Kids were mostly upper-middle class German teens who had access to banned jazz music and rejected the Hitler Youth propaganda. During a raid in 1941, the Nazis arrested 300 of these teens during a raid and sent the more prominent figures to concentration camps.