Famous Americans in the 1940 US Census
Explore the lives of famous Americans, as seen through the lens of the 1940 U.S. Census. Famous actors, sports stars, authors, artists, and scientists are all represented in the 1940 census, including well-known celebrities such as Clark Gable, Albert Einstein, E. E. Cummings, Babe Ruth, and Frank Lloyd Wright.
Clark Gable & Carole Lombard
Motion picture star Clark Gable, best known for the role of Rhett Butler in “Gone with the Wind”, settled with his new wife, Carole Lombard, in 1939 in Encino, California, a hilly suburb of Los Angeles. This 25-acre property and ranch house is where the enumerator found Clark and Carole, on April 1, 1940. Sadly, Carole Lombard died in a plane crash less than 2 years later.
Frank Lloyd Wright
As you might expect, American architect Frank Lloyd Wright was living with his wife and daughter in one of his own beautifully designed homes in 1940. The Taliesin property, near Spring Green, Wisconsin, was an area that had been in the possession of the Lloyd-Jones’, Frank Lloyd Wright’s maternal side of the family, for generations.
The 1940 US census presents a snapshot in time of legendary American baseball player Babe Ruth, aka George Herman Ruth, and his family just five years after his retirement from baseball in 1935.
Scientist Albert Einstein came to America in 1933 and, by 1935, had settled his family, including wife Elsa, and stepdaughter Margot, in a modest single family home at 112 Mercer Street in Princeton, New Jersey. Elsa died the next year, but Albert Einstein was still living in the house in 1940, the year he became a U.S. citizen.
Television journalist Tom Brokaw was enumerated among the men and women of “The Greatest Generation” in the 1940 census, where he can be found as a 2-month-old baby living in a hotel in Bristol, South Dakota.
E. E. Cummings
American poet Edward Estlin Cummings, better known as “e e cummings,” describes himself as a “freelance fine artist” in the 1940 census, which finds him living in Manhattan with his common-law wife, Marion Moorehouse.
The census taker caught up with the future well-loved American actor and director Clint Eastwood living with his family in a small rented house in Oakland, California, just one of at least a half-dozen places he had lived during the first 10 years of his life.
When the 1940 US census came around, Neil Armstrong, age 9, already loved to fly. Outside of that, he was just part of a normal everyday American family living in St. Marys, Ohio. Did he know then that the moon was on his horizon?
American industrialist Henry Ford, the founder of the Ford Motor Company, appears exactly where you might expect him in the 1940 US census, living with his wife, Clara, and three live-in servants, at their Fair Lawn estate in Dearborn, Michigan.
On June 21, 1939, the New York Yankees announced first baseman and power hitter Lou Gehrig’s retirement from baseball, following his diagnosis with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis or ALS, a disease that would become commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. In 1940 the census taker stopped in on Lou and his wife living in the Riverdale, Bronx house where Lou Gehrig would later die in 1941.
Orville Wright was living in his hometown of Dayton, Ohio, in 1940, in a residence designed by him and his brother Wilbur prior to the death of Wilbur Wright in 1914. Hawthorne Hill, located at the corner of Park and Harman Avenue, was valued at $100,000.
Roberto Clemente and his family probably had no idea just how famous he would become when the census taker visited his small community of San Anton, Carolina, Puerto Rico, in 1940. The future American baseball legend was just five, the youngest of seven children born to Don Melchor Clemente and Luisa Walker. He’s the only one born after the 1930 U.S. census in which the Clemente family also appeared.