Friday, October 11, 2019

October 11: Happy Birthday, Eleanor Roosevelt

No one ever accused Eleanor Roosevelt of messing around, doing things halfway.  When her husband, Franklin Delano Roosevelt assumed office to try to medicate the Great Depression, Eleanor set herself upon the task of expanding the role of the First Lady.

She did things first ladies hadn't done before: she put together her own staff, wrote magazines, and began holding her own press conferences.  This last involved a stinging dart into the state of gender relations, since she rarely invited male journalists.  This was, of course, a protest against the under-representation of female correspondents at presidential press conferences.

At the end of the dramatic and wildly-effective first term, Eleanor launched her own radio program, which, owing to a fondness for literalness, was named Mrs. Roosevelt's Own Program.  This twice-weekly dispatch was themed around women's issues and aired by NBC.

Good for her, we say!  She was born on this day in 1884.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

90 Years Ago Today: Debut of DuPont's "Cavalcade of America"

The DuPont Chemical Company was one of the biggest and richest in the country, but it faced a backlash during the Depression Years because much of its fortune was based on profiteering during the Great War. One of its public relations moves was to sponsor "The Cavalcade of America", one of the best written and produced radio anthology programs of all time, beginning in 1935. Interestingly, DuPont's products were never sold directly to consumers, so "Cavalcade" was purely a PR feature.

Thursday, October 3, 2019

October 3: Happy Birthday, George Moran

Born into a world without electricity or the automobile, George Moran was an early nineteenth-century minstrel performer who donned the blackface along with his partner Charles Mack.  The comedy duo went by the moniker "Two Black Crows," two black men who travelled North for industrial work.  The characters were germane to the minstrel tradition, men looking for fun in pool halls and taverns.

Moran isn't very well-known outside the Moran and Mack duo, and he should not be confused with Chicago gangster George "Bugs" Moran.

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

October 2: Happy Birthday, Bob Burns

There is precisely one man who invented the word "bazooka," and his name is Bob Burns.  The comedian coined the word (or "neologism" for those of you interested in learning a new word: neologism means "new word") to refer to his odd musical instrument made up of a whiskey funnel plus two gas pipes.  He copyrighted the word, which presumably means he made out well when the gum by the same name became popular.

And I bet you thought he was famous as the host of The Bob Burns Show.  The wartime show included many references to the troops (whose guns they called bazookas due to their resemblance to Burns's instrument), much encouragement, and entertainment from a variety of guests.

On this day in 1896, Bazooka Bob Burns entered the world. Happy birthday!