Who was Mae West, and why was Paramount struggling?

Mae West in 1933 (PBS American Masters, https://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/mae-west-biographical-timeline/14486/)

Ten days in jail wasn’t enough to demolish Mae West’s career.

It was in 1927 that the New York-born actress was arrested for obscenity charges while starring in her self-penned Broadway play Sex. She replied to reporters who asked how she found her first night in prison that it was “not so bad. The inmates were very interesting. Will have enough for ten shows. I didn’t think so much of the bed.” West didn’t take the arrest seriously. In fact, the event garnered a great amount of extra publicity for both the show and herself.

Mae West was what many…


A forgotten piece of history, the first Black only owned record label

Black Swan Records record sleeve, (https://78records.wordpress.com/2019/01/07/harry-pace-w-e-b-du-bois-and-black-swan-records-the-authoritative-history/)

In 1921, Harry Pace began a business venture the likes of which had never been seen before. Acknowledging a gap in the music industry market, and also the lack of availability for black Americans to record and seriously distribute their music in a white-dominated society, Pace opened Black Swan Records — the first record company that gave black musicians a platform to record and distribute their music.

Beginnings

Pace, born in Georgia in 1884, worked in finance and insurance but had always had a keen interest in music. He finally left his job in insurance in 1907, moving to Memphis to…


A poem.

(https://www.freeimages.com/photo/black-forest-1191315)

The beast is your most faithful companion.

Send your inner armies to fight against the slumber,

And the dark nights that cloud your world and soul.

Intent on victory,

Retreat … retreat.

The brain pulsates while the body lies weary.

The beast is your most faithful companion.

The beast is your most faithful companion.

The loss stands heavy upon the shoulders,

Omnipresent in the ears,

A mist hangs low in the blackened suffering mind.

Retreat and Defeat.

Mine eyes are the clouds with a greyness to exemplify,

And the beast is your most faithful companion.

Child-like innocence does pave the…


As nostalgia hits me with good times gone,

And memories of permanent goodbyes,

The autumnal sun hits through the naked trees,

Laying itself upon the rooftops of promising fortunes.

Bouncing…


Victoria Woodhull for President, Frederick Douglass for Vice-President

Victoria Woodhull (https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/2035974347/the-coming-woman-feature-documentary)

In 1872, the United States held the 22nd Presidential Election. The primary contenders were Ulysses S. Grant of the Republican Party and Horace Greeley, who represented the Liberal Republican Party in alliance with the Democrats. Grant won and retained his presidency. However, the presidential election of 1872 was unique, it included the first female presidential nominee in the history of the United States. Her name was Victoria Woodhull.

The Beginnings of Her Career

Woodhull, born in 1838, was an advocate for women’s rights and universal suffrage and was active in its campaigns and protests. She was notable at the time for her impressive career prior…


History

How JFK’s father failed to enter the White House

John F. Kennedy with his father, Joe P. Kennedy Sr. in 1945 (John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum archives)

It is well documented that the Kennedy’s were a strong political family, with an equally strong desire for power. Not only did JFK actively seek the presidency in 1960, so too did his brothers Robert F. Kennedy and Edward M. Kennedy. Ultimately, fate intervened, as Bobby, like his older brother John, was shot dead in 1968, while Teddy found himself in the centre of a major scandal in 1969 which played a part in his failure to win the 1980 presidential election. However, before the three brothers entered US politics, there was another Kennedy who fought for the role —…


A brief history of the 1960s Soviet cultural ‘Thaw’

Poster for the 1966 film ’25 Baku Commissars’ (The Guardian, 2018)

Cinema was utilized under the Soviet regime for extensive propaganda purposes throughout the early to mid-twentieth century, particularly under the rule of Stalin. A medium that could be quickly distributed and didn’t require any literary skills, the use of cinema, as it was throughout the world, was regarded as the most beneficial means of communication, influence, and, importantly, entertainment.

Communist propaganda and ideology were prevalent in Soviet cinema under Stalin, who was himself a great fan of the medium, in order to secure a collective identity and ensure continued support and obedience to both the regime and the god-like stance…


A brief history of the brief Nazi government that continued after Hitler’s death.

Karl Donitz and Adolf Hitler (https://www.nationalww2museum.org/war/articles/nazi-germanys-leader-admiral-karl-donitz)

Hitler’s suicide in 1945 didn’t end Nazi rule in Germany at once. In fact, prior to his suicide, Hitler had appointed a successor, Karl Donitz, who temporarily served as the new leader. So as to preserve Hitler’s god-like legacy that was cultivated during his leadership, Donitz wasn’t appointed Führer, but instead President of Nazi Germany.

Karl Donitz

Admiral Donitz had served as Supreme Commander of the German Navy, leading the German U-Boat attacks against the Allies, ensuring they didn’t reach mainland Germany by sea. He had served in the navy during the First World War, and Hitler had chosen him to take…


A turning point for the actress’s career

Publicity still of Bette Davis in 1937, the year after her trial against Warner Brothers (Los Angeles Times, https://www.latimes.com/local/obituaries/la-me-bette-davis-19891008-story.html)

Bette Davis began her rise to stardom in the early 1930s, as one of the many actresses who made the journey from Broadway theatre to Hollywood cinema at the transition of silent to sound pictures. Talent scouts, working for specific film studios and on the hunt for appropriate actresses that they believed would be box office draws, searched the New York stages and invited them for screen tests in Hollywood to determine not only their acting skills but also whether they had the potential to become major stars.

Having made the journey, all actors and actresses were met at the…

Jack Patrick

MA Public History and Heritage and BA (Hons) History graduate, with a love for writing and learning.

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