Category Archives: 1931-1940

“The Pasternak Saga”
…and Zhivago Chronicles

[…] This story generally covers the biography of Russian poet and author, Boris Pasternak, and particularly his struggles with his famous novel, “Doctor Zhivago,” a decades-long project showcasing epic Russian history that casts the individual vs. the state – a book that helped him win a Nobel Prize, which he was prevented from collecting, since the novel’s views on Soviet ways were less than flattering … Laudatory press & literary reaction in the West are also covered here, using headlines, photos & critic commentary… Along the way there are real-life Pasternak love stories apart from his novel, confrontations with Soviet authorities, CIA involvement, and more, plus new biographies, memoirs, films & research that continue to probe the Pasternak/Zhivago sagas to this day […]

“Gehrig vs. Ruth, 1927”
Home Run Race

[…] In 1927, two New York Yankee baseball sluggers – established star Babe Ruth and upstart Lou Gehrig – became engaged in a “home run race,” culminating in Ruth setting, at that time, the single-season home run record at 60 (later surpassed in 1961). This story tracks the contest between Gehrig and Ruth during the 1927 season, using newspaper and magazine headlines from that era to chronicle their battle from April through September 1927, while also listing contemporary books, photos, and selected baseball statistics that document their careers beyond 1927 – including Lou Gehrig’s battle with ALS disease that later took him out of baseball […]

“Democrats’ History”

[…] A topics page offering a selection of stories on Democratic politicians and Democratic history, including those involving presidential campaigns and various candidates, among them: Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, John F. Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Hubert Humphrey, Gene McCarthy, Bill Bradley, Jerry Brown, and others… Democratic celebrities are also featured in a few of these stories, including Frank Sinatra, Paul Newman, Bruce Springsteen, Linda Ronstadt and others […]

“Magazine History”
Selected Stories: 1910s-2010s

[…] This “topics page” provides thumbnail sketches and links to 18 stories at this website that feature or include magazine-related content from the last 100 years – including selected cover art, illustrator profiles, advertising art, political stories, civil rights stories, business stories, sports stories, and more… Cover samples are typically included throughout the stories from a range of magazines – Time, Life, Vanity Fair, Esquire, Fortune, The New Yorker, Sports Illustrated, The Saturday Evening Post, New York Magazine, Wired, and others […]

“Athletes Advertising”
Selected Stories: 1900s-2010s

[…] This “Topics Page” offers thumbnail sketches and links to 14 stories at this website that include history about famous athletes who have lent their name and/or image in print, radio, and/or TV advertising on behalf of various products or marketing efforts. Among those included are: Olympics star and pro golfer Babe Didrikson; football stars Frank Gifford and Sammy Baugh; 1930s aviatrix Elinor Smith; baseball stars Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra, Babe Ruth, Christy Mathewson and others; soccer legends Pelé, Zidane and Maradona; and 1930s tennis star, Ellsworth Vines […]

“The Flying Flapper”

[…] In the fall of 1928, a 17-year old female pilot named Elinor Smith from Long Island, New York took up a challenge to fly her plane beneath a bridge on NY city’s East River… Not only did she fly under one bridge, but four, all on the East River, making her an instant celebrity in New York and beyond, and launching a flying career in which she would continue to set records and advance the cause of female aviation… Her story is covered here with period photographs […]

“Noteworthy Ladies”
Selected Stories: 1910s-2010s

[…] This “topics page” provides thumbnail sketches and links to 36 stories at this website on female careers in music, film, sport, politics, publishing and other endeavors… Some offer in-depth biographical profiles with extensive photos, and in the case of recording artists, mp3 song files… Among those featured, are: Ali MacGraw, Anna Q Nilsson, Ava Gardner, Babe Didrikson, Barbara Lewis, Barbra Streisand, Bette Davis, Billie Holiday, Carly Simon, Cyd Charisse, Dinah Shore, Gisele Bündchen, Grizabella from “Cats,” Janis Joplin, Lady Gaga, Keira Knightley, Linda Ronstadt, Madonna, Marilyn Monroe, Martha & the Vandellas, Meryl Streep, Mia Farrow, Pearl White, Petula Clark, Princess Diana, Rachel Carson, Rosie The Riveter, Sarah Palin, Skeeter Davis, Taylor Swift, the Ronettes, The Shirelles, and Tina Turner […]

“The Saddest Song”

[…]“Adagio for Strings” by Samuel Barber might also be called “Adagio for Tears” since it is known for evoking very powerful emotion and sadness among its listeners. Used in film scores from “Elephant Man” to “Platoon,” Barber’s Adagio has also been used at prominent state & celebrity funerals, such as those for FDR, JFK. Grace Kelly & others – also played following 9/11. Electronic dance and trance DJs have recorded versions as well… This piece looks at the history and reception of “Adagio for Strings” and its related choral version, “Angus Dei”[…]

“Civil Rights Stories”

[…] This “topics page” lists 14 stories at this website which include civil rights-related content. Among stories listed are several related to civil rights & music; civil rights & television; civil rights & art; and civil rights & politics – stories which include performers & artists such as: Billie Holiday, Bob Dylan, Sammy Davis, Jr., Norman Rockwell, Petula Clark, Harry Belafonte, Martha & the Vandellas, U2, and others. Also listed are stories on Jackie Robinson and Barack Obama, and others with sections on Robert F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King […]

“1930s Super Girl”
Babe Didrikson

[…] Mildred “Babe” Didrikson, received her Ruthian nickname for her sandlot baseball heroics in the late 1920s… But baseball was the least of her talents, as there was little in athletics she couldn’t do. Babe Didrikson would become a standout track & field sensation at the 1932 Summer Olympics, and thereafter, in the 1940s and 1950s, a golf superstar & multi-tournament winner who helped change the women’s game for the better…Her story, and death by cancer at age 45, is told here with period photos and numerous source links […]

“21 of 23 Giants”
…Smoke Camels

[…] In October 1933, following the World Series baseball championship, newspaper readers across the U.S. began to see large advertisements announcing that “21 out of 23″ members of the New York Giants baseball team, the World Series victors, smoked Camel cigarettes. The ad was part of an R.J. Reynolds advertising campaign to use celebrity sports figures to help sell its Camel cigarette brand… This article delves into some of that ad copy and the baseball players involved […]

“Empire Newhouse”

[…] Advance Publications is a sprawling media empire of leading magazines, newspapers, cable TV and websites owned by the Newhouse family of Long Island, New York. In recent years the Newhouse/Advance empire has ranked among the 50 largest privately-held companies in the U.S. This article dips into the 90 years of Newhouse empire-building history, with some focus on the newspaper and magazine parts of the story, celebrity and political issues, and the Newhouse publishing and media impact on America culture…[…]

“Baseball Stories”

[…] This “topics page” provides thumbnail sketches and links to 14 baseball stories at this website, including in-depth profiles and photos of Mickey Mantle, Babe Ruth, Sandy Koufax, Pee Wee Reese, Jackie Robinson, Honus Wagner, Christie Mathewson, Lou Gehrig, and others […]

“Strange Fruit”

[…] In 1939, blues and jazz singer Billie Holiday performed a song that was unlike any other that had come before it — a song titled, “Strange Fruit;” a song about the lynching of black people… “Strange Fruit” was not popular fare, but eventually, with Billie Holiday’s voice and presence, it permeated mainstream culture in an unsettling way, becoming a song of protest and a song that got attention […]

“Talkie Terror”
Late 1920s

[…] Hollywood’s silent screen stars faced a new peril with the coming of “talking motion pictures” – their recorded voices… Norma Talmadge, featured in Photoplay’s December 1929 cover story, “The Microphone–The Terror of The Studios,” was one of the casualties… The Pop History Dig story here features famous actors and directors who recount the difficulties of the silent-to-sound era, the carnage it created, and which Hollywood studios became the big players in its aftermath […]

“Babe Ruth & Tobacco”

[…] Baseball great Babe Ruth and his wife Claire are shown in a 1938 Los Angeles Times newspaper ad for White Owl cigars. Ruth’s involvement with other tobacco advertising – cigarettes, pipe, and chewing tobacco – is also covered, with some advertising samples & photos. Ruth’s throat disease is also discussed…[…]

“Vines For Camels”

[…] In 1934 and 1935, American tennis star Ellsworth Vines did some advertising for the R.J Reynolds’ Camel cigarette brand. He was 23-24 years old, among the world’s best players, and had become a national sports celebrity, appearing on the cover of ‘Time’ magazine. Vines appeared in full-page magazine ads endorsing Camels both by himself and with other athletes, depicted in one as having a cigarette at the end of a tennis match […]

“Harlem Nocturne”

[…] “Harlem Nocturne” is a saxophone-saturated song that has had a long shelf life. It first found fame in the late 1930s’ jazz and big band era…More than 20 years later, and again nearly 50 years after its first release, “Harlem Nocturne” found popular appeal – first in a sultry1959-1960 version by The Viscounts from New Jersey, and again in the 1980s’ as the signature crime show theme song for “The Mike Hammer” TV series… This story includes the full song and covers its history […]

“Wheaties & Sport”

[…] In 1934, the General Mills Company began including pictures and testimonials of athletes on its “Wheaties” cereal boxes to help sell the cereal… The first sports figures to appear on the “Wheaties” cereal box – primarily on the package back or side panels until the 1950s – were baseball stars such as Lou Gehrig, Mel Ott, and Jimmie Foxx… Wheaties found that its sales climbed through the 1930s, helped by its cereal-box endorsements as well as its radio and magazine advertising….Sports stars endorsing “Wheaties” and other General Mills cereals would become a staple marketing strategy of General Mills through the 1930s and beyond […]

“Al Jolson & Luckies”

[…] In 1928, Al Jolson, fresh from the fame of appearing in the first talking motion picture, “The Jazz Singer” of 1927, also began appearing in American Tobacco Co. cigarette advertising for their Lucky Strike brand… American Tobacco, and other tobacco companies, would soon make film-star and celebrity advertising of cigarette brands a staple in their tobacco promotion campaigns through the 1930s, 1940s, and beyond… This story covers some of that history […]

“FDR & Vanity Fair”

[…] Vanity Fair magazine in the 1930s used its cover art and political caricature to spotlight President Franklin Roosevelt (FDR) and the New Deal… In the process, some highly talented artists produced memorable covers from the depths of the Great Depression that have lasting value to this day… Some history of the early New Deal and FDR’s Administration are also covered […]

“Baseball, 1929”
Jimmie Foxx

Jimmie Foxx, 21 year-old baseball star of the Philadelphia Athletics, featured on Time magazine cover, July 29, 1929. Click for collectible copy.     In the summer of 1929, the year in which the stock market crashed, America was a nation not expecting disaster.  These were, after all, the “Roaring Twenties” and America was feeling pretty good … Continue reading “Baseball, 1929”
Jimmie Foxx

“Slingin’ Sammy”

[…] Sammy Baugh had come out of the college ranks from TCU as an innovative “passing” back, then a rarity in professional football. Baugh’s professional career would be played entirely with the Washington Redskins over 16 years, where, with the forward pass, he helped revolutionize pro-football, adding to its excitement and drama, and winning the moniker, “Slingin’ Sammy” […]

“Disney Dollars”

In the 1930s, in the depths of the Depression, a new kind of economics began to emerge from an unlikely source: a cartoon character named Mickey Mouse and his animated friends. Mickey was the creation of a young Los Angeles-based artist named Walt Disney. …Not only would Disney’s creations help buoy a shaky American economy, they also helped build the foundation of something new — a global entertainment economy….

“Steinbeck to Springsteen”

“The Grapes of Wrath” is a Pulitzer Prize-winning novel written by John Steinbeck in 1939. Not only was this book a landmark social commentary in its day and a major publishing success, it became an award-winning and profitable Hollywood film, and also inspired at least two rounds of music — one by Woody Guthrie in 1940 and another by Bruce Springsteen in the 1990s […]

“Babe Ruth Days”
1947 & 1948

…On April 27th, 1947, more than 58,000 fans packed Yankee Stadium to honor former New York Yankee baseball star Babe Ruth… It was 20 years since he had set baseball’s most revered record — hitting an unheard-of 60 home runs in one season — and it was more than a dozen years since he had been an active player… Still, on this Babe Ruth Day, the fans loved him…