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Famous Americans in the 1940 Census

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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.

1. Clark Gable & Carole Lombard

Clark Gable & Carole Lombard after their 1939 elopement. Photo by Keystone/Getty Images.
Keystone/Getty Images
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.

2. Frank Lloyd Wright

Frank Lloyd Wright at Taliesin. Photo by Tony Vaccaro/Getty Images.
Tony Vaccaro/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
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.

3. Babe Ruth

American baseball player George Herman Ruth, known as 'Babe' Ruth. Photo by MPI/Getty Images.
MPI/Getty Images
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.

4. Albert Einstein

German-born American physicist Albert Einstein. Photo by Fred Stein Archive/Getty Images.
Fred Stein Archive/Archive Photos/Getty Images
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.

5. Tom Brokaw

Tom Brokaw at the World War II Memorial in Washington, DC. Photo by Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images.
Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images
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.

6. E. E. Cummings

American poet Edward Estlin Cummings, better known as e e cummings. Photo by MPI/Getty Images.
MPI/Getty Images
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.

7. Clint Eastwood

Director Clint Eastwood in Beverly Hills, California. Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images.
Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for AFI
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.

8. Neil Armstrong

Neil Armstrong, shortly before Apollo 11 landed on the moon. Photo by Central Press/Getty Images
Central Press/Getty Images
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?

9. Henry Ford

Henry Ford With His Model T. Photo By Getty Images.
Getty Images
American industrialist Henry Ford, 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.

10. Lou Gehrig

New York Yankees first baseman, Lou Gehrig, circa 1930s. Photo: Pictorial Parade/Getty Images.
Pictorial Parade/Getty Images
On 21 June 1939, the New York Yankees announced first baseman 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.

11. Orville Wright

Orville Wright. Photo: Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Orville Wright was living in his hometown of Dayton, Ohio, in 1940, in a residence designed by he 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.

12. Roberto Clemente

Baseball legend Roberto Clemente. Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images.
Hulton Archive/Getty Images
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.

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