Tag: Godzilla

Music/Movie Monday: Elvis, James and Marilyn – the ’50s

Music/Movie Monday: Elvis, James and Marilyn – the ’50s

Music

By the end of the ’40s, Big Band and Swing were pretty much over and it was all about crooners like Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra.

This trend continued into the early ’50s, with singers like Eddie Fisher, Perry Como and Patti Paige, who dominated the airwaves for the first half of the decade.

Perry Como
Eddie Fisher
Eddie Fisher

Gone was the focus on orchestration, replaced by a focus on emotion. The king of this genre was singer/songrwriter Johnnie Ray, whose “Cry” is said to have influenced Elvis himself and who Tony Bennett has called the “real father of Rock’n’Roll.”

Johnnie Ray
Johnnie Ray

Speaking of which, you can’t talk about the ’50s without talking about Rock’n’Roll. Rock began to evolve in the late ’40s from jazz, rhythm and blues and gospel with a little country/western and pop thrown in. Cleveland DJ Alan Freed is credited with coining the term “rock’n’roll.”

Alan Freed
Alan Freed

Early pioneers include Chuck Berry, who refined the elements of the style and introduced the focus on guitar solos and showmanship, and Les Paul, who was known for his innovations and work with the electric guitar, which made the genre possible.

Chuck Berry
Chuck Berry
Les Paul and his guitar

Other important early rockers include Bo Diddley, Fats Domino, Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis and Buddy Holly.

Pat Boone became the first teen rock idol in 1955 after releasing a number of pop-influenced R&B cover songs that introduced the genre to a wider audience.

Pat Boone
Pat Boone

The mid-’50s also gave us Elvis, the Memphis-born heartthrob who conquered radio, movies and the increasingly available TV.

50selvis1

in 1957, Dick Clark took over as host of American Bandstand, helping bring rock to the mainstream by embracing a new generation that was gaining influence: the teenager.

By the end of the ’50s, teen idols like Bobby Darin, Ricky Nelson, Frankie Avalon, and Connie Francis were topping the charts. In 1959, a plane crashed killed Buddy HollyThe Big Bopper and Richie Valens.

50samerpie

The incident was memorialized in Don McClean’s 1971 hit “American Pie,” as “the day the music died,” and the crash, plus Elvis’ stint in the army are thought by critics to have begun the end of the genre’s golden age, although rock will remain popular for at least the next 30 years.

Movies

50srebel1

During the ’50s, the booming post-war economy gave the rising middle class more time for leisure. Marry that with the advent of car culture and the drive-in became king, with over 4,000 outdoor theaters across the country by the late ’50s.

’50s culture was beginning to cater to teens who were looking for an antidote to the dull conformity that was hallmark of the era. Seeking to assert their independence, they turned to movies like Rebel Without a Cause and Blackboard Jungle, movies that showed  society’s gritty underbelly, far from the safety of their suburban, split-level ease. Actors like James Dean and Marlon Brando arrived on the scene, portraying tortured, anguished and moody anti-heroes.

Marlon Brando
Marlon Brando

The ’50s also gave us Marilyn, no last name needed.

Marilyn Monroe
Marilyn Monroe

Marilyn Monroe was born Norma Jean Mortenson in Los Angeles, CA in 1926. She began her career as a pinup model and played minor roles in B movies until her 1953 breakout in film noir thriller Niagara. That year she also starred in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and How to Marry a Millionaire, one of her greatest box office successes.

Marilyn in Gentlemen
Marilyn in Gentlemen

She would go on to star in The Seven Year Itch (1955), Bus Stop (1956) and  Some Like it Hot (1959), as well as many others. In 1999, Playboy named her Number One Sex Star of the 20th Century and People voted her Sexiest Woman of the Century. She continues to be an enduring sex symbol and beauty icon.

The ’50s were also marked by an underlying fear of communism and nuclear war and these influences are evident in the sci-fi and horror films of the decade. The early ’50s mark the rise of the Monster Movies, like Them! about giant radiation-mutated ants or Invasion of the Body Snatchers about alien pod people invading earth.

Them!
Them!

Although formulaic and campy, the movies play on common fears of the era, like infiltration or the threat of nuclear war. Movies like Gojira, which introduced our friend Godzilla, are seen as warnings about the effects of atomic tests and the dropping of the A bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in WWII.

Godzilla-illa-illa
Godzilla-illa-illa

So friends, there you have some entertainment highlights of the ’50s. There are way more of course, and if you’d like to learn more, check out the sites below.

wikipedia
fiftiesweb.com
rockmusictimeline.com

wikipedia
filmsite.org

And! Tickets are now ON SALE for Decadent: 100 Years or Burlesque and you can get them HERE.

See you on April 22 at The Triad!
xoxo

Happy Days: The ’50s

Happy Days: The ’50s

Well folks, we made it through prohibition, depression and world world war. What fresh hell does the ’50s have in store for us?

Hi everybody!

WWII has been over for a few years and America, having kicked the crap out of Germany and Japan, sits on the “summit of the world,” as Churchill put it. The economy is booming and so are the babies, with around four million being born each year. Unemployment and inflation are low and wages high. People are moving to the suburbs in record numbers and Fonzie is president.

Ayyyyyy

But it’s not all sock hops and shiny new Chevys. The specter of communism and the threat of nuclear war lurk in the background like so many cockroaches in the wall. So too is the civil rights movement beginning to stir – peaceful now, but setting in motion events that will change the country forever.

BUT…that’s a story for next week. Right now it’s time to grease your hair, fluff your poodle skirt and rock around the clock. Here’re some highlights of the ’50s.

1950

Jan 17: Eleven masked bandits steal $2.8 million from Brinks Security in Boston’s North End. At the time, it was the country’s largest-ever robbery, and remained Boston’s biggest theft until October 17, 2004, when Dave Roberts stole second base in game 4 of the American League Championship Series.

He then disemboweled himself in the infield, distracting NYY pitcher Mariano Rivera, who gave up a David Ortiz walk-off homer that propelled the 0-3 Sox to an improbable comeback and eventual World Series win.

June 25: North Korea, backed by the USSR and China, invades South Korea, kicking off the Korean War. From beyond the grave, Hitler suggests North Korean Leader Kim Il-Sung was just in the mood for some Seoul food. (Hitler has gotten quite punny in hell.)

Aw cut me some slack, I got Satan busting my balls 24/7 down here.

1951

Feb 27: U.S. ratifies the 22nd Amendment, limiting presidents to two terms. From beyond the grave, FDR vetoes it and proposes his Even Newer Deal to build monorails across America.

March 29: Julius and Ethel Rosenberg are convicted of conspiracy to commit espionage for passing atomic secrets to the USSR during the war. New York Magazine features them in its April 11, 1951 issue, Six NYC Power Couples Getting it Done.

Oct 15: CBS premieres beloved sitcom I Love Lucy, about the wacky hijinks of a plucky bandleader and his latex sex doll.

1952

Feb 6: Britain’s Princess Elizabeth becomes queen upon the death of her father, King George IV.

She celebrates by drinking an entire bottle of Chambord

Nov 1: U.S. tests the first hydrogen bomb on the Pacific island of Elugelab in Enewetok Atoll. The bomb was code-named “Ivy Mike,” in an apparent effort to make the 82-ton thermonuclear warhead seem less threatening.

The radioactive mushroom cloud is named Nancy

Nov 4: General Dwight D. Eisenhower decisively beats Adlai Stevenson with a 442-89 electoral college victory to become president. Stevenson maintains he won the popular vote.

Oddly enough, the lesser known “I like Dick” slogan does not take off.

1953

March 5: Soviet leader Joseph Stalin dies and joins Hitler in hell, where they spend eternity hiding Mussolini’s hat and calling him “Il Douche.”

Not funny, you guys!

May 29: Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay become the first people to successfully climb to the top of Mount Everest.

They celebrate by getting really high

July 27: Fighting ends in Korea when the North, South, China and U.S. sign an armistice. Fun fact: the war technically never ended since a peace treaty was never signed.

And now we have this guy launching missiles from his mom’s basement.

Dec 30: The first color TVs go on sale, paving the way for 21st-century audiences to watch Real Housewives get their bikini lines waxed in high definition.

1954

May 17: The Supreme Court, in Brown v. The Board of Education, finds that racial segregation violates the 14th Amendment and is unconstitutional.

1955

July 17: Disneyland opens in Anaheim, CA, unleashing unspeakable evil.

Hail Satan

Dec 1: Rosa Parks refuses to give up her seat on a Montgomery, AL bus, but later goes on to work at NASA and help launch the Friendship 7.

1956

Jan 27: Elvis Presley releases first hit single Heartbreak Hotel,  about a cowboy and his forbidden love for teddy bears.

Nov 6: Ike again kicks Stevenson’s ass with a 457-73 electoral college victory.

Wow, you guys must really like Dick.

1957

Oct 4: USSR fires the first round in the Space Race by launching SPUTNIK 1, the first artificial satellite.

50sdeathstar

Dec 6: The first U.S. attempt to launch a satellite into space fails spectacularly when it prematurely explodes on the launch pad.

In a press conference, Ike famously comments: “It’s not that common, it doesn’t happen to every guy and it IS a big deal!”

1958

Jan 31: U.S. finally succeeds in launching a satellite into space with Explorer I, which subsequently discovers the Van Allen radiation belts, a discount auto parts warehouse in Reseda, CA.

April 17: The first major World’s Fair since WWII gets underway in Belgium. Belgians are annoyed since the only good thing about WWII was not having to put up with any World’s Fairs.

July 8: An 8.0-mag Earthquake strikes Lituya Bay, Alaska, triggering a 1,700-foot mega-tsunami… or so they say.

What really happened
What really happened

1959

Jan 3: U.S. admits Alaska into union as the 49th state. Sure, now that it’s all tsunami-damaged.

Feb 16: Fidel Castro becomes prime minister of Cuba.

And launches international cultural exchange program Up With People!

Feb 22: Lee Petty wins the first Daytona 500 stock car race.

And does it while riding the entire race on the hood of his car

April 9: NASA picks first the seven dudes who will become U.S. astronauts.

Coincidentally, they all happen to own space suits.

Aug 12: Hawaii is admitted to the union, giving us 50 states and SPAM.

Sept 15: Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev kicks off a tour of America, where he visits NYC, CA, DC, MD, PA and IA.

Looks like he also likes Dick

This isn’t the last we’ll see of Khrushchev. As you’ll learn next week, he also has a penchant for shoes. So be sure to come back and get a little groovy with us as we tackle the ’60s. And don’t forget to join us at the Triad on April 22 to celebrate alllllllll the decades. Click HERE to buy tickets.

Have a great week!

xoxo

 

Blood, Toil, Tears and Sweat: The ’40s

Blood, Toil, Tears and Sweat: The ’40s

Hello historians! Welcome back to our sojourn through the last 100 years. (Just joining us? You can catch up with the 1920s here and the 1930s here.)

It’s the 1940s! We made it through Great Depression, but happy days are decidedly not here again. Japan is rampaging through the Far East, Italy and Spain are being run by murderous dictators, and the Soviet Union – no slouch itself on the dictator front – is flexing its muscles in Finland, the Baltics and Poland. Speaking of Poland, our old pal Hitler dropped in for some pierogies back in ’39 and decided to hang around for awhile.

Here’s a quick recap.

1940

April 9-May 12: Hitler continues his goodwill tour through Europe by invading Norway, Denmark, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg and France.

What?

May 10: A very grumpy-looking Winston Churchill is elected Prime Minister.

You’d be pissed off too if you had to deal with this Hitler jackass.

July 27: The first modern version of Bugs Bunny appears in Tex Avery’s Oscar-nominated(!) The Wild Hare.

Totes agree about Hitler

Nov 5: FDR is elected to an un’president’ed third term. (I’ll be here all week, folks!)

Don’t make me put you in an internment camp

1941

Oct 9: FDR approves the Manhattan Project, allowing work to begin on the atomic bomb. The Manhattan Project is not to be confused with a cappella jazz fusion group the Manhattan Transfer, although both cause immeasurable carnage and suffering.

Oct 31: Crews complete work on Mount Rushmore, giving South Dakota tourists something to do besides count buffalo.

Thank you for being a friend

Dec 7: A “date that will live in infamy.” Japan bombs the U.S. Naval Base at Pearl Harbor, drawing America into the war and setting the stage for a much cuter invasion 35 years later.

Submit or die

1942

June 4-7: Japan suffers its first substantial defeat at U.S. hands in the Battle of Midway, in what’s widely considered the turning point of the Pacific war. Meanwhile, Japan invades two remote U.S. islands off Alaska in a possible bid to distract American forces from the South Pacific. However, it turns out they were just looking for Uniqlo.

1943

Jan 15: Work is completed on the Pentagon and its sister buildings, the Rhombus (Treasury Dept.), and Octagon (Education Dept.).

July 25: After fucking up campaigns in Greece and North Africa, Italian Dictator Benito Mussolini is deposed by his own government.

#youhadonejob

He’s eventually executed in 1945 after being caught trying to sneak over the Swiss border dressed as Hitler.

1944

June 6: Allied troops storm the beaches of Normandy only to find them littered with trash and hypodermic needles.

Nov 7: FDR elected to a FOURTH term.

1945

April 12: FDR dies suddenly of a brain hemorrhage, but goes on to win re-election in 1948, 1952 and 1956.

April 30: With Allied forces closing in on Berlin, Hitler commits suicide in his bunker after claiming he just needs to “rest his eyes” for a few minutes.

#SoTired

May 7: Germany surrenders, but immediately regroups and begins plotting to invade Czechoslovakia.

Aug 6 & Aug 9: U.S. drops A-Bombs on Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Six days later, this happens:

1946

March 5: Churchill give his “Iron Curtain” speech, kicking off the Cold War in style.

San Dimas High School football rules!

July 5: The modern bikini debuts in Paris. The swimsuit is named after recent atomic tests on Bikini Atoll, because nothing says “sassy fun on the beach” like “nuclear war.”

1947

April 15: Jackie Robinson debuts with the Brooklyn Dodgers, becoming the first black player in the major leagues since the 1880s.

Dodger!?

First week in July: A “weather balloon” crashes near Roswell, NM.

Six days later, this happens:

Oct 14: American pilot Chuck Yeager breaks the sound barrier, becoming the “fastest man alive.” Wife Glennis is not amused.

Dec 27: Howdy Doody debuts on NBC…

Then goes on a three-state killing spree

1948

June 20: Ed Sullivan Show premieres. First guests include Elvis, The Beatles, and Sonny & Cher.

sonnycher

Aug 16: Babe Ruth dies and is buried under Fenway Park in a Big Papi jersey.

Nov 2: Dewey does NOT defeat Truman

Again with the #fakenews

1949

April 4: The North Atlantic Treaty is signed in Washington, DC, creating the NATO defense alliance to counter Soviet aggression. In 2013, the alliance is rebranded as SharkNATO to counter Ian Ziering.

June 8: Publication of 1984George Orwell’s dystopian novel about reality show contestants who live in a house together and vie for a job with a shadowy industrialist known only as “Big Brother.” The book goes on to win the Nobel Prize for literature and spawns several spin-offs, including Celebrity 1984 and 1985: Still Watching.

And that, my friends, wraps up the ’40s, which as you can see, was pretty intense. But fear not, because up next, we get pompadours, poodle skirts and prosperity! Stay tuned for…the ’50s!

And we are thisclose to having ticket info available for our April 22 show, Decadent: 100 Years of Burlesque, so be sure to check back often!

See you next time!

xoxo

Nothing to Fear But Fear Itself (and Possibly Godzilla): The ’30s

Nothing to Fear But Fear Itself (and Possibly Godzilla): The ’30s

Hello! Welcome back to our romp through history. Remember all the jazzy fun and debauchery from last week? Well, it’s over. It’s the ’30s. The stock market has crashed, the banks have failed and the crops have dried up. Hitler’s on the rise, a world war looms and worst of all? You still can’t drink legally!  What the F, 1930s?

Luckily, we have distractions in the form of radio, movies and art deco, so at least there are pretty buildings to look at while we’re selling pencils on the street corner.

Mo’ money, mo’ problems, amirite?

Here are some major (and not so major) events of the ’30s:

1930

Aug. 12: Clarence Birdseye invents frozen food. Unfortunately, no one can afford ice so his idea is a bust.

1931

March 3: Congress approves The Star Spangled Banner as the national anthem so we’d have something to fight about on Twitter in 2016.

March 14: Nevada legalizes gambling and Fredo Corleone begins banging cocktail waitresses two at a time.

May 1: After just over a year of construction, the Empire State Building opens, becoming the world’s tallest building until the Twin Towers are topped off in late 1970.

Beloved NYC mascot King Kong arrives in 1934, serving as an ambassador for the city until his purported death at the hands (paws?) of Godzilla in the early ’60s.

1932

Nov 8: Franklin Delano Roosevelt is elected president, introducing the tradition of referring to presidents by their initials.

WTF

May 9-June 16: Congress passes FDR’s New Deal, replacing the Old Deal with gluten-free, paleo and vegan options.

Dec 5: Prohibition finally ends with passage of the 21st Amendment and everyone asks themselves what the F they were thinking for the last 13 years.

We were too drunk on bathtub gin to think

1934

March 22: The first Masters golf tournament is held in Georgia, but it fails to make golf any less boring.

1935

June 2: Babe Ruth retires and uses his farewell speech to curse the Boston Red Sox.

Aug 14: Congress passes the Social Security Act, ensuring that future Judge Judy litigants have a means to support themselves when not suing each other over pit bull attacks.

1936

May 30: Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind is published, romanticizing the Old South, slavery and Rhett Butler.

Butler? I don’t even know ‘er! (#sorrynotsorry)

Aug 1: The Summer Olympics get underway in Berlin as Adolf Hitler tries to pretend he’s just a normal, run-of-the-mill führer and not a homicidal lunatic.

What are you talking about? I love Jews!

American track star Jesse Owens goes on to win four gold medals and inspire Carly Simon’s 1980 hit song Jesse.

1937

May 6: The Hindenburg explodes over Lakehurst, New Jersey, crushing the fledgling airship industry, but eventually giving us Stairway to Heaven.

Anyone else suddenly in the mood for a hot dog?

May 27: The Golden Gate Bridge opens.

And remains open until Godzilla destroys it in 2014

1938

March 12: Still pretending he’s not up to anything nefarious, Hitler annexes Austria.

What are you talking about? I’m just here for the wiener schnitzel.

Oct 30: Orson Welles trolls millions with his #fakenews radio broadcast that Martians have landed in New Jersey and are meeting in Holsten’s with Tony Soprano. Unfortunately, the air goes dead and no one knows for sure what really happened. (Although there is plenty of speculation on Reddit.)

1939

June 12: The Baseball Hall of Fame opens in Cooperstown, NY. The first inductees include Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, Honus Wagner, Christy Mathewson, Walter Johnson and A-Rod*.

*Definitely not A-Rod.

Sept 1: Hitler invades Poland, kicking off World War II.

What are you talking about? I just really like Chopin.

The good news is, WWII helps to end the Great Depression. The bad news is, everything else. Stay tuned for next week when we move into the 1940s and get to talk about WWII in depth. Until then, thanks for reading and be sure to save the date for April 22 when we will bring you Decadent: 100 years of Burlesque. Check back soon for ticket info!

See you next time!