Archive for the Podcasts Category

Episode 107: Mary Pickford

Posted 11 June 2018 by
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Mary Pickford was an actress, writer, director, producer, studio head and entrepreneur…but she’s often remembered as “that pretty girl with the curls in silent movies.”

Excuse us? Oh no, that just won’t do.

Library of Congress

We cover all of this, and a whole lot more during the episode, but here’s the basics:

From her very early days as little Gladys Louise Smith in Toronto, Canada, Mary Pickford was in constant hustle mode. She got herself on the stage at 8 (or six, she also fudged her age quite a bit) to help support her widowed mother and two siblings. The four of them traveled with low-level touring theater companies until she set her sights and landed on Broadway. But-in a moment of fiscal desperation-in 1909 she walked into the Biograph movie studio in New York and her life changed.

She had a tough childhood and a couple failed marriages but her devotion to her family was deep and strong. She used her brains, and ever improving acting skill, to charm her way into the hearts of millions around the globe who saw her on screen; she used those brains and cunning business savvy to quickly become the highest paid, and most powerful, woman in movies. What had begun as a short-term paycheck-patch turned into a 33 year long career that allowed her to develop along with the budding, then blossoming, movie industry.

1921 from PhotoPlay Magazine wikicommons

Mary Pickford was the first Movie Star.

Mary Pickford was the first women to head a movie studio.

Mary Pickford was the first person to put her hand and foot prints in front of Grauman’s Chinese Theater, and while she wasn’t the first actress to win an Academy Award, she was the second–the first for a movie with sound–and she helped establish The Academy in the first place.

Mary Pickford was the first to do A LOT of things and we cover all of them in the episode.

Hollywood Royalty’s Castle: Pickfair, 1920 wikicommons

 

Her third marriage to actor/bandleader/super nice guy, Buddy Rogers, lasted 42 years and included two children…

…about those kids. Very unusual situation there, but hey, who are we to judge? She may not have been the most effective parent, but she did help form United Artists, The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the Motion Picture Relief Fund, the Motion Picture and Television Country House and Hospital; she sold Liberty Bonds during WWI and US Saving Bonds with Mamie Eisenhower. She created acting for silent films, made the transition to talkies, earned two Academy Awards…and the woman was still playing a credible child well into her 30s.

Mary Pickford died on May 29, 1979 at 87. The last few years were a bit rocky and she lived them far out of the public eye, but she left behind a dazzling OG legacy as old as the film industry itself.

Mary’s 125th Birthday Google Doodle!

 

 

TIME TRAVEL WITH THE HISTORY CHICKS

Normally we start with our book recommendations, but not for Mary. For Mary you have to go watch part of any of her films that you can get in front of your eyeballs, but we’ll start you off with My Best Girl with Buddy Rogers on Vimeo (There are some on YouTube but we’re not going to mess around with questionable usage rights, on Vimeo they are posted by the Mary Pickford Foundation.) If you finish this one, scroll down the right side of the page for more clips from Mary’s movies.

Speaking of the Mary Pickford Foundation, they really are the epicenter of all things Mary, you should check them out–the image gallery alone will enchant you.

Mary had a cocktail named after her, here’s the recipe–but remember Beckett’s hack: Amaretto for Luxardo! Mary Pickford Cocktail, Imbibe Magazine.

We’ve warned you that this might be shocking at first especially if you’ve only seen her as a younger woman. Hey, thegoodlordwillingandthecreekdon’trise…we all age.

Books!

Biographies:

Eileen Whitfield

 

Scott Eyeman

 

Autobiography (Go get the salt shaker)

 

Booton (that’s how you spell that!) Herndon

 

Honkin’ big coffee table books:

Edited by Christal Schmidt

 

Kevin Brownlow

Miscellaneous:

Discworld, Terry Pratchett (because Beckett will slip a Discworld rec in whenever she can)

 

By “the secret” Mrs. Griffith

M.F. Steen (creepy cool)

 

Melanie Benjamin- FICTION

 

 

 

Episode 106: Beatrix Potter Revisited and Refreshed

Posted 19 May 2018 by
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This week we’re taking a look back at one of the women who surprised us both, in the most delightful of ways-Beatrix Potter. As time and technology has allowed, we’ve gone back and quietly remastered the audio in a number of our older shows and Beatrix is the latest. When we know better, we do better! (more…)

Episode 105: Dowager Empress Cixi of China

Posted 30 April 2018 by
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The true story of a woman who, essentially, ruled China for almost 50 years is cloaked by years of inaccurate (read: fabricated) reporting and several sources muddled through translation. Sometimes it feels as if her history is behind the same silk screen where she ruled, a clear outline with veiled detail.

So this’ll be fun!

Yehenara Tsing was born on November 29, 1853. Her name changes several times through her life (and more through translated spellings): Tsing (some sources use her family name which appears first), Lan, Yi and finally the form that she is known to history: Cixi. (more…)

Episode 104: Louisa May Alcott

Posted 8 April 2018 by
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Louisa May Alcott is easily remembered as the author of the sweet coming of age novel about four sisters in Civil War era New England. It was based on her life and her family, but it left out a lot. Like poverty, consistent moving, a father with more lofty ideals than successful methods to deliver them, and writing a large body of work across many genres before she even sat down to write Little Women. Learning her story brings a deeper level of appreciation to all of her work and a good look into the era from a unique perspective.

Plus, it’s a great story of a determined, brilliant and brave woman. Lots to love. (more…)

Episode 103: Ada Lovelace

Posted 17 March 2018 by
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Countess Ada Lovelace’s mind was extraordinary in the truest sense, truthfully there was very little that was ordinary about her. She was the only legitimate daughter of the poet, Lord Byron and his only wife, Annabella (the 11th Baroness Wentworth thankyouverymuch.) She never met her wild and wildly popular father, was raised by a mother who protected her from the fame-by-association that came with having that kind of parent, educated in a manner that most girls of the time never experienced and, eventually, used that education along with her logical and creative brain to write the world’s first computer program. (more…)

Episode 102: Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Part Two

Posted 25 February 2018 by
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When we last left Jackie, she was about to set off for a political appearance with her husband to Texas in 1963. This episode covers what happened on that trip, and how she handled her grief and lived her life until her death on May 19, 1994. We really saw three different versions of Jackie in this episode: The Widow, The Mrs. Onassis, The Happy Jackie… and we cover all of them.

The most tragically iconic suit. Dallas, Texas November 22, 1963

 

Jackie and her children had to establish a new life.

We had such a long list of media, our book stacks (and subsequent library late fines) were larger than we’ve ever had before, so we’re just going to focus on all of our recommendations and links here.

Websites!

The National First Ladies Library and Museum in Canton, OH (someone should go and report back to us) has both a physical and a cyber presence, as does the JFK Presidential Library and Museum in Boston.

JFK Presidential Library and Museum, Boston MA

Audio of Boston Symphony conductor informing audience of assassination on VIMEO and then symphony playing the funeral march from Beethoven’s Third Symphony on November 22, 1963.

Jackie addressed the nation not long after her husband’s assassination, this is the raw footage from that television appearance:

 

We both think that watching this, listening to part of the hours and hours of recordings that she made shortly after the President’s death is a really important element of understanding her. Settle back for an hour and listen to Jackie in her own words.

 

Want a peek into Jackie’s New York apartment and a video about her time there? Check out this Untapped Cities article and this Vanity Fair video.

Our friends, The Bowery Boys, recently covered the rescue of Grand Central Station and not only talk about Jackie’s involvement but interview someone who worked with her on the project! The Bowery Boys New York History #255

Books!

We had a lot of books that we liked and we pared those down to our favorites listed here, but if you are only going to read a couple we strongly recommend these two:

Collection of 250 letters selected from the over 1.5 million received during the first year after JFK’s death. It’s not only very touching but it gives good insight into the way the public felt about Jackie.

 

We both had this as our favorite biography–that rarely happens!

Bonus one we both liked for the kids:

And we both loved this kids’ book!

More biographies:

By Donald Spoto

 

This is the very thick, very detailed one by C. David Heyman

Coffee table books:

Susan liked this one about Jackie’s life as an equestrian

 

If you happen to be digging through old People Magazines, you might like to read this one. John Kennedy, Jr, Sexiest Man 1988

Movies!

There have been several movies with and about Jackie, but the only one we really care about is this one:

Jackie starring Natalie Portman

And there are many documentaries. This one is on Netflix now (February, 2018) and is a good look at both Jackie and her sister, Lee who is still living an interesting life.

Currently on Netflix

Episode 101: Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Part One

Posted 9 February 2018 by
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Only the most iconic of women can simply go by one name, and Jackie is one of them. Her life was a complicated collage of privilege, challenge, balance and reinvention. In this episode, we talk about the first half of that life from baby of affluence born exactly when the wealth of the US crashed, to just before she headed off on a trip with her husband to Texas in 1963.

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Episode 100: A Celebration!

Posted 17 January 2018 by
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We’re celebrating our 100th full-length episode and our 7th year by pulling back the curtain and taking a look at some women and moments that we will never forget.

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Episode 99: Pocahontas

Posted 23 December 2017 by
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The only image of her done in her lifetime and this was close to the end of it. Marketing materials of the Virginia Company

The story of Pocahontas is legendary: Native American Princess saves early English settler’s life, they fall in love, she thinks he dies so she moves in with the English, converts to Christianity and marries another Englishman only to learn her original love was still alive. Pocahontas. Captain John Smith. Ring any bells? But do the bells in that story ring true? At all?

Did she really save John Smith from being murdered? Photo: U.S. Capital building, Architect of the Capital

Pocahontas was a young Powhatan who was instrumental in the survival of the earliest English colonists and did live with them, but “princess”? Not exactly.

“Young woman?” How about little kid?

“Love with Captain John Smith?” Friendship, yes, love…not so much.

“Moves in with English?” Try imprisoned. “Pocahontas” wasn’t even always her name, she had several: Amonute, Matoake and Rebecca. “Pocahontas” was a nickname.

And that “colonist” thing? Let’s use “emigrant,” shall we? The English didn’t discover the land around the modern Chesapeake Bay on the eastern shores of the current United States, that land was already home to a very large nation of native American tribes all governed under the umbrella of the Powhatan Chiefdom and led by the Paramount Chief–the English stole it. Heck, they weren’t even the first Europeans to land in the area, the Spanish beat them by decades.

First English map of the area, by John Smith

Pocahontas was the daughter of that chief. When she was about 11, John Smith and friends landed in her backyard and never left. In this episode we give you all the sides to that story from her birth up, through her imprisonment by the English, marriage to John Rolfe, influence on the economic home-run that was Virginia tobacco…all the way until her early death at the age of 21 when she was on tour in England.

 

TIME TRAVEL WITH THE HISTORY CHICKS

Books!

Oral history of the Mattaponi Reservation People, one of the tribes in the Powhatan Chiefdom

 

 

 

Paula Gunn Allen a more spiritual look at her life

 

YA by Gail Fay

 

 

Movies!

If you feel you must (and go in knowing the real story)

1995 Disney “White men are dangerous.”

 

Straight to video (and best seen at fast forwarded speed)

 

2005, lovely to look at (the dressing in English clothing scene is probably pretty spot on) but…argh, why must there be a romance??

 

The diet of the early British settlers in the Powhatan territories was very limited…and ghastly. Smithsonian article about cannibalized girl, the Powhatan Chiefdom, and more about life in general for the Jamestown settlers.

Jamestown and Williamsburg, Virginia have a lot of of early American historical activity waiting for you (and don’t forget to #historychicksfieldtrip on Instagram):

Historic Jamestown

Jamestown settlement living history museum

Visit Williamsburg

You wouldn’t have to travel much farther to get to the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington or New York City.

And you could travel and travel and travel but you wouldn’t be able to get to the National Women’s History Museum because, well, it doesn’t exist…yet. Read about the efforts and how you can play a part in helping to establish this very important museum in Washington, D.C. as well as some great articles about women that need to be remembered.  National Women’s History Museum

Home

It’s a little cheesy, but kids might like this Virginia Department of Education video about the 11 currently recognized Virginia Indian tribes.

 

And, in closing, we leave you with the only good song from Disney’s Pocahontas…

Episode 98: Coco Chanel

Posted 5 December 2017 by
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Gabrielle Chanel wasn’t born into the type of wealth she would earn or life she would live; she created everything she had from her signature look, scents, fortune, reputation, and image–good or bad.

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