Centuries: 19th century - 20th century - 21st century
Decades: 1890s 1900s 1910s 1920s 1930s - 1940s - 1950s 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s
Years: 1935 1936 1937 1938 1939 - 1940 - 1941 1942 1943 1944 1945
January 5 - FM radio is demonstrated to the FCC for the first time.
January 12 - World War II: Russia bombs cities in Finland.
February 2 - Frank Sinatra debuts with the Tommy Dorsey orchestra
February 2 - The Complex Number Calculator, a calculator for complex arithmetic based on relays, was completed. (see History of computing hardware).
February 2 - The first transposons are discovered in maize (Zea mays, aka corn) by Barbara McClintock.
February 23 - World War II: Soviet Union troops conquer Lasi Island.
February 29 - For her role as as Mammy in Gone with the Wind, Hattie McDaniel becomes the first African American to win an Academy Award (Best Supporting Actress).
March 12 - Soviet Union and Finland sign a peace treaty in Moscow ending the Winter War. Finns, and the World opinion, shocked by the harsh terms.
March 18 - World War II: Axis powers - Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini meet at Brenner Pass in the Alps and agree to form an alliance against France and the United Kingdom.
April 7 - Booker T. Washington becomes the first African American to be depicted on a United States postage stamp.
April 9 - World War II: Germany invades Denmark and Norway in operation Weserübung. The British campaign in Norway is simultaneously commenced.
May 10 - World War II: Germany invades Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg.
May 13 - World War II: Nazi Germany's conquest of France begins as the German army crosses the Meuse River.
May 14 - World War II: The Dutch city of Rotterdam is bombed by the German Luftwaffe.
May 14 - World War II: The Netherlands surrender to Germany.
May 15 - World War II: German troops occupy Amsterdam and invade Northern France.
May 15 - Nylon stockings go on sale for the first time in the United States.
May 17 - World War II: Germany occupies Brussels, Belgium
May 20 - Holocaust: The first prisoners arrive at a new concentration camp at Auschwitz.
May 24 - Igor Sikorsky performs the first successful single-rotor helicopter flight.
May 25 - World War II: The Battle of Dunkirk begins.
May 26 - World War II: Battle of Dunkirk - In France, Allied forces begin a massive evacuation from Dunkirk.
May 28 - World War II: Belgium surrenders to Germany.
June 9 - World War II: The British Commandos are created.
July 5 - World War II: The United Kingdom and the Vichy France government break off diplomatic relations.
July 10 - World War II: Vichy France government established.
July 10 - World War II: Battle of Britain - The German Luftwaffe begin to hit British convoys in the English Channel thus starting the battle (this start date is contested, though).
July 14 - World War II: Andrew George Latta McNaughton takes command 7th Army Corps consisting of British, Canadian and New Zealand troops.
August 20 - Exiled Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky is fatally wounded in Mexico City by an assassin's ice-ax. He will die the next day.
September 4 - World War II: The USS Greer becomes the first United States ship fired upon by a German submarine in the war, even though the United States is a neutral power. Tension heightens between the two nations as a result.
September 7 - Treaty of Craiova: Romania loses Southern Dobrudja to [[Bulgaria.
September 7 - World War II: Battle of Britain - Nazi Germany begins to rain bombs on London. This will be the first of 57 consecutive nights of bombing.
October 9 - World War II: Battle of Britain - During a nighttime air raid by the German Luftwaffe, St. Paul's Cathedral is pierced by a bomb.
October 28 - World War II: Italy invades Greece.
October 31 - World War II: Battle of Britain ends - The United Kingdom prevents Germany from invading Great Britain.
November 5 - U.S. presidential election, 1940: Democrat incumbent Franklin D. Roosevelt defeats Republican challenger Wendell Willkie and becomes the United States' first third-term president.
November 7 - In Washington, the middle section of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge collapses in a windstorm, a mere four months after the bridge's completion (it opened to traffic on July 1, 1940 as the third-longest suspension bridge in the world).
November 11 - World War II: Battle of Taranto - The Royal Navy launches the first aircraft carrier strike in history, on the Italian fleet at Taranto.
November 11 - World War II: The German Hilfskreuzer (cruiser) Atlantis captures top secret British mail, and sends it to Japan
November 11 - Armistice Day Blizzard: An unexpected blizzard kills 144 in U.S. Midwest.
November 14 - World War II: In England, the city of Coventry is destroyed by 500 German Luftwaffe bombers (150,000 fire bombs, 503 tons of high explosives, 130 parachute mines leveled 60,000 of the city's 75,000 buildings; 568 people were killed).
November 16 - World War II: In response to Germany leveling Coventry two days before, the Royal Air Force begins to bomb Hamburg (by war's end, 50,000 Hamburg residents died from Allied attacks).
November 18 - World War II: German leader Adolf Hitler and Italian Foreign Minister Galeazzo Ciano meet to discuss Benito Mussolini's disastrous invasion of Greece.
November 20 - World War II: Hungary, Romania and Slovakia join the Axis Powers.
November 27 - In Romania, coup leader General Ion Antonescu's Iron Guard arrests and executes over 60 of exiled king Carol II of Romania's aides. Among the dead is former minister and acclaimed historian Nicolae Iorga.
December 30 - California opens its first freeway the Arroyo Seco Parkway.
Charlie Chaplin directs the film The Great Dictator in which he plays a fascist dictator, clearly modeled on Adolf Hitler.
The first McDonald's restaurant is founded by brothers Dick and Mac McDonald, in San Bernardino, California.
USSR annexes the three Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania.
Germany begins a bombing campaign against Britain in preparation for an invasion, in what becomes known as the Battle of Britain.
Guilin, China, acquires current name.
Sino-Japanese War (1937-1945)
January 14 - Julian Bond, civil rights activist (cofounder of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, chairman of NAACP board of directors)
January 20 - Carol Heiss, Olympic figure skating gold medalist
January 22 - John Hurt, actor
February 3 - Fran Tarkenton, Football Hall of Famer
February 4 - George Romero, horror movie writer, producer, director
February 5 - H.R. Giger, artist
February 6 - Tom Brokaw, news anchorman
February 8 - Ted Koppel, journalist
February 8 - Joe South, American singer/songwriter
February 19 - Smokey Robinson, musician
February 25 - Ron Santo, baseball player
February 28 - Mario Andretti, automobile driver
February 29 - Edward Frederick Benson, American writer
March 7 - Rudi Dutschke, student leader († 1979)
March 7 - Daniel J. Travanti, actor
March 9 - John Cale, composer, musician
March 9 - Raúl Juliá, actor († 1994)
March 10 - Dean Torrence, musician ("Jan and Dean")
March 10 - Chuck Norris, actor, martial arts practitioner
March 12 - Al Jarreau, singer
March 15 - Phil Lesh of The Grateful Dead
March 16 - Bernardo Bertolucci, Italian writer and film director
March 22 - Haing S. Ngor, actor († 1996)
March 24 - Bob Mackie, costume designer
March 25 - Anita Bryant, entertainer
March 30 - Astrud Gilberto, singer
April 2 - Penelope Keith, actress
April 16 - Queen Margaret II of Denmark
April 25 - Al Pacino, actor
April 26 - Giorgio Moroder, composer
May 1 - Elsa Peretti, jewelry designer
May 8 - Ricky Nelson, pop singer, († 1985)
May 9 - James L. Brooks, producer, writer
May 11 - Juan Downey, video artist († 1993)
May 20 - Stan Mikita, Hockey Hall of Famer
May 20 - Sadaharu Oh, baseball star
June 16 - Neil Goldschmidt, governor of Oregon
June 23 - Adam Faith, English singer and actor († 2003)
June 23 - Lord Irvine of Lairg, British lawyer and Lord Chancellor
June 23 - Wilma Rudolph, American runner
July 7 - Ringo Starr, English drummer (Beatles)
July 26 - Mary Jo Kopechne, congressional staffer for Edward Kennedy († 1969)
July 27 - Bharati Mukherjee, Indian-American novelist
August 3 - Martin Sheen, American actor
August 7 - Jean-Luc Dehaene, Prime Minister of Belgium
November 27 - Bruce Lee, martial arts actor († 1973)
October 9 - John Lennon, English musician and singer (Beatles) († 1980)
October 13 - Pharoah Sanders, jazz saxophonist
October 14 - Cliff Richard, English pop singer
October 23 - Pelé, Brazilian football legend
December 21 - Frank Zappa, American rock musician, composer and satirist († 1993)
February 11 - John Buchan, Governor-General of Canada (1935-1940).
March 10 - Mikhaïl Boulgakov, Russian writer
March 16 - Selma Lagerlöf, writer
May 25 - Joe De Grasse, pioneer Hollywood film director
May 28 - Friedrich Karl von Hessen (* 1868)
June 10 - Marcus Mosiah Garvey, publisher, entrepreneur, black nationalist
June 29 - Paul Klee, Swiss artist
August 21 - Leon Trotsky, Russian revolutionary (* 1879)
October 10 - Berton Churchill, pioneer Hollywood actor
October 11 - Lluís Companys, President of Catalan, assassinated
November 9 - Neville Chamberlain, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
December 5 - Jan Kubelík, violinist
Physics - not awarded
Chemistry - not awarded
Medicine - not awarded
Literature - not awarded
Peace - not awarded