American International Pictures
American International Pictures was an independent film production and distribution company formed on April 2, 1954 as American Releasing Corporation by James H. Nicholson, former Sales Manager of Realart Pictures, Samuel Z. Arkoff, an entertainment lawyer, it was dedicated to releasing low-budget films packaged as double features of interest to the teenagers of the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s. Nicholson and Arkoff formed ARC in 1954. Nicholson and Arkoff served as executive producers while Roger Corman and Alex Gordon were the principal film producers and, directors. Writer Charles B. Griffith wrote many of the early films, along with Arkoff's brother-in-law, Lou Rusoff, who produced many of the films he had written. Other writers included Richard Matheson and Charles Beaumont. Floyd Crosby, A. S. C. Famous for his camera work on a number of exotic documentaries and the Oscar winner, High Noon, was chief cinematographer, his innovative use of surreal color and odd lenses and angles gave AIP films a signature look.
The early rubber monster suits and miniatures of Paul Blaisdell were used in AIP's science fiction films. The company hired Les Baxter and Ronald Stein to compose many of its film scores. In the 1950s the company had a number of actors under contract, including John Ashley, Fay Spain and Steve Terrell; when many of ARC/AIP's first releases failed to earn a profit, Arkoff quizzed film exhibitors who told him of the value of the teenage market as adults were watching television. AIP stopped making Westerns with Arkoff explaining: "To compete with television westerns you have to have color, big stars and $2,000,000". AIP was the first company to use focus groups, polling American teenagers about what they would like to see and using their responses to determine titles and story content. AIP would question their exhibitors what they thought of the success of a title would have a writer create a script for it. A sequence of tasks in a typical production involved creating a great title, getting an artist such as Albert Kallis who supervised all AIP artwork from 1955–73 to create a dynamic, eye-catching poster raising the cash, writing and casting the film.
Samuel Z. Arkoff related his tried-and-true "ARKOFF formula" for producing a successful low-budget movie years during a 1980s talk show appearance, his ideas for a movie included: Action Revolution Killing Oratory Fantasy Fornication Later the AIP publicity department devised a strategy called "The Peter Pan Syndrome": a) a younger child will watch anything an older child will watch. AIP began as the American Releasing Company, a new distribution company formed in the early 1950s formed by James H. Nicholson and Samuel Z. Arkoff, they were interested in distributing a car chase movie produced by Roger Corman for his Palo Alto Productions, The Fast and the Furious. Corman had received offers from other companies for the film, but ARC offered to advance money to enable Corman to make two other films. Corman agreed, The Fast and the Furious performed well at the box office and the company was launched. Corman's next two films for the company were a Western Five Guns West, which Corman directed, a science fiction film, The Beast with a Million Eyes.
The title from the latter had come from Nicholson. ARC distributed the Western Outlaw Treasure starring Johnny Carpenter. ARC got Corman to direct another Western and science fiction double bill Apache Woman and Day the World Ended. Both scripts were written by Arkoff's brother-in-law Lou Rusoff, who would become the company's leading writer in its early days. Apache Woman was produced by Alex Gordon, an associate of Arkoff's, Day was produced by Corman. Both were made by ARC's production arm. B movies were made for the second part of a bill and received a flat rate; as television was encroaching on the B movie market and Arkoff felt it would be more profitable to make two low budget films and distribute them together on a double bill. Nicholson came up with a title for a film to support Day the World Ended, The Phantom from 10,000 Leagues, but lacked the money to make both films, they split the costs with film editors who wanted to get into production. The resulting double bill was successful at the box office.
Gordon produced The Oklahoma Woman, a Western by Corman, made through Sunset Productions. It was put on a double bill with a film noir. Other films released under the ARC banner include a British documentary Operation Malaya and Corman's Gunslinger. Arkoff and Nicholson had always wanted to name their company "American International Pictures" but the name was unavailable; when the name became available, they changed over. There were three main production arms at AIP in the late 1950s: Roger Corman, Alex Gordon and Lou Rusoff, Herman Cohen. Arkoff and Nicholson would buy films from other filmmakers as well, import films from outside America. Corman continued to be an important member of AIP, he had a big hit for the company with the science fiction film It Conquered th
John Ashley (actor)
John Ashley was an American actor and singer. He was best known for his work as an actor in films for American International Pictures and acting in horror movies shot in the Philippines, for producing various television series, including The A-Team. Born John Atchley, he was reared in Oklahoma, he attended Will Rogers High School in Tulsa, where he was a champion wrestler went to Oklahoma State University in Stillwater on a wrestling scholarship, where he earned a bachelor's degree in economics. While a student, Ashley was holidaying in California, he visited an alumnus of his college fraternity, Sigma Chi, a press agent who represented Dick Powell and John Wayne. The agent took him to the set of The Conqueror, where he met Wayne, who had belonged to Sigma Chi. Wayne was impressed with the young man's good looks and set him up with an interview with William Castle. Castle was making the TV anthology series Men of Annapolis, was looking for someone to play a role that involved wrestling. Ashley's wrestling experience helped him get the job, he did two episodes of the series, which helped him get an agent.
Ashley broke into films when he accompanied a girlfriend to an audition at American International Pictures for a part in Dragstrip Girl, directed by Edward L. Cahn. Writer Lou Rusoff asked him if he wanted to audition as well, he ended up getting the part as the villain. AIP signed Ashley to a four-picture non-exclusive contract expected to run for two years. Dragstrip Girl was a success relative to its small budget. Ashley became a particular favorite of the daughters of James H. Nicholson, one of the main figures at AIP, Nicholson always hoped Ashley would become a big star. Ashley unsuccessfully auditioned for the lead in I Was a Teenage Werewolf but appeared in several of AIP's other movies. Ashley's second role for AIP, Motorcycle Gang, was identical to Dragstrip Girl. By this stage, Ashley had been drafted, production was held up until he completed his basic training and could go on leave. Ashley only served six months in the Presidio in San Francisco. AIP got him an early release to appear in Suicide Battalion, directed by Cahn.
Outside AIP, he had a small role as a singer for Paramount's Zero Hour!, had the lead in Frankenstein's Daughter and guest starred on Jefferson Drum in the episode "Arrival". In addition to acting, Ashley was a singer, his manager, Jerry Capeheart managed Eddie Cochran. Ashley made a number of records, including the singles "Seriously in Love", "Let the Good Times Roll", "Born to Rock", "The Hangman" and "Little Lou". Ashley would perform the occasional concert. Ashley said Randy Wood, head of Dot Records, "was terrific... but the kind of music he wanted me to sing was the kind of material I didn't feel I sang that well. He was a clean cut image guy, he didn't want a hard rocker." In 2001, the German label Hydra Records released Born to Rock, a compact disc collection of Ashley's music. Ashley was given a cameo as a singer in AIP's. Ashley said "that was casting more or less against type at that point because I had been playing delinquents and heavies."AIP wanted Ashley to make a film called Hot Rod Gang aka Fury Unleashed, written by Rusoff and directed by Lew Landers.
Gene Vincent sang several songs, as did Ashley. It was Ashley's first sympathetic lead role, he was offered a part on the TV series Matinee Theatre, in an episode called "The Alleyway" with Janis Paige, asked for the movie to be postponed so he could take it. However, Samuel Arkoff of AIP refused, got an injunction preventing Ashley from appearing on TV. "I never forgave him for that", said Ashley. "I was upset about it. I felt; as it turned out, I'm sure they had their reasons, they couldn't do it." This led to Ashley's refusing to re-sign his contract with AIP. After his AIP contract wound up, Ashley worked on TV, he was cast in the episode "Elkton Lake Feud" of the syndicated western television series Frontier Doctor, starring Rex Allen and directed by William Witney. He appeared in the Henry Fonda show The Deputy, The Millionaire and Wagon Train. Ashley thought he was cast in Westerns because "I was from Oklahoma, could ride, had a bit of an accent when I first came out here. I always seemed the young Billy the Kid gunslinger."Ashley returned to features with the lead in High School Caesar, playing a tyrant at high school.
He went back to TV. Ashley said that at this stage of his career, he had no interest in the production side of things. "I was just having fun doing it," he said. From 1961 to 1962, Ashley was cast in a co-starring role with Brian Kelly on the ABC adventure series Straightaway, set in an automobile mechanic shop and focusing on the sport of drag racing. Ashley would sing, it ran for 26 episodes. While a cast member of Straightaway, Ashley appeared in the 1961 episode, "The Holdup-Proof Safe" of syndicated western anthology series, Death Valley Days, hosted by Stanley Andrews, he played the role of Sandy, a young rodeo performer who wants to become a depu
A superhero is a type of heroic stock character possessing supernatural or superhuman powers, dedicated to fighting the evil of their universe, protecting the public, battling supervillains. A female superhero is sometimes called a superheroine, although the word superhero is commonly used for females. Superhero fiction is the genre of fiction, centered on such characters in American comic book and films since the 1930s. By most definitions, characters do not require actual superhuman powers or phenomena to be deemed superheroes. While the Dictionary.com definition of "superhero" is "a figure in a comic strip or cartoon, endowed with superhuman powers and portrayed as fighting evil or crime", the longstanding Merriam-Webster dictionary gives the definition as "a fictional hero having extraordinary or superhuman powers. Terms such as masked crime fighters, costumed adventurers or masked vigilantes are sometimes used to refer to characters such as the Spirit, who may not be explicitly referred to as superheroes but share similar traits.
Some superheroes use their powers to counter daily crime while combating threats against humanity from supervillains, who are their criminal counterparts. At least one of these supervillains will be the superhero's archenemy; some long-running superheroes and superheroines such as Superman, Spider-Man, Wonder Woman, the Hulk, Green Lantern, the Flash, Captain America, Wolverine, Iron Man and the X-Men have a rogues gallery of many villains. There are movies and TV shows featuring various super heroes; the word'superhero' dates to at least 1917. Antecedents of the archetype include such folkloric heroes as Robin Hood, who adventured in distinctive clothing; the 1903 play The Scarlet Pimpernel and its spinoffs popularized the idea of a masked avenger and the superhero trope of a secret identity. Shortly afterward and costumed pulp fiction characters such as Jimmie Dale/the Gray Seal, The Shadow and comic strip heroes, such as the Phantom began appearing, as did non-costumed characters with super strength, including Patoruzú, the comic-strip character Popeye and novelist Philip Wylie's character Hugo Danner.
In the 1930s, both trends came together in some of the earliest superpowered costumed heroes such as Japan's Ōgon Bat, Mandrake the Magician, Superman in 1938 and Captain Marvel at the beginning of the Golden Age of Comic Books. The precise era of the Golden Age of Comic Books is disputed, though most agree that it was started with the launch of Superman in 1938. Superman remains one of the most recognizable Superheroes to this day; the success of Superman spawned a whole new genre of characters with secret identities and superhuman powers – the Superhero genre. During the 1940s there were many superheroes: The Flash, Green Lantern and Blue Beetle debuted in this era; this era saw the debut of first known female superhero, writer-artist Fletcher Hanks's character Fantomah, an ageless ancient Egyptian woman in the modern day who could transform into a skull-faced creature with superpowers to fight evil. The Invisible Scarlet O'Neil, a non-costumed character who fought crime and wartime saboteurs using the superpower of invisibility created by Russell Stamm, would debut in the eponymous syndicated newspaper comic strip a few months on June 3, 1940.
One superpowered character was portrayed as an antiheroine, a rarity for its time: the Black Widow, a costumed emissary of Satan who killed evildoers in order to send them to Hell—debuted in Mystic Comics #4, from Timely Comics, the 1940s predecessor of Marvel Comics. Most of the other female costumed crime-fighters during this era lacked superpowers. Notable characters include The Woman in Red, introduced in Standard Comics' Thrilling Comics #2; the most iconic comic book superheroine, who debuted during the Golden Age, is Wonder Woman. Modeled from the myth of the Amazons of Greek mythology, she was created by psychologist William Moulton Marston, with help and inspiration from his wife Elizabeth and their mutual lover Olive Byrne. Wonder Woman's first appearance was in All Star Comics #8, published by All-American Publications, one of two companies that would merge to form DC Comics in 1944. Pérák was an urban legend originating from the city of Prague during the German occupation of Czechoslovakia in the midst of World War II.
In the decades following the war, Pérák has been portrayed as the only Czech superhero in film and comics. In 1952, Osamu Tezuka's manga Tetsuwan Atom, more popularly known in the West as Astro Boy, was published; the series focused upon a robot boy built by a scientist to replace his deceased son. Being built from an incomplete robot intended for military purposes Astro Boy possessed amazing powers such as flight through thrusters in his feet and the incredible mechanical strength o
American Broadcasting Company
The American Broadcasting Company is an American commercial broadcast television network, a flagship property of Walt Disney Television, a subsidiary of the Disney Media Networks division of The Walt Disney Company. The network is headquartered in Burbank, California on Riverside Drive, directly across the street from Walt Disney Studios and adjacent to the Roy E. Disney Animation Building, But the network's second corporate headquarters and News headquarters remains in New York City, New York at their broadcast center on 77 West 66th Street in Lincoln Square in Upper West Side Manhattan. Since 2007, when ABC Radio was sold to Citadel Broadcasting, ABC has reduced its broadcasting operations exclusively to television; the fifth-oldest major broadcasting network in the world and the youngest of the Big Three television networks, ABC is nicknamed as "The Alphabet Network", as its initialism represents the first three letters of the English alphabet, in order. ABC launched as a radio network on October 12, 1943, serving as the successor to the NBC Blue Network, purchased by Edward J. Noble.
It extended its operations to television in 1948, following in the footsteps of established broadcast networks CBS and NBC. In the mid-1950s, ABC merged with United Paramount Theatres, a chain of movie theaters that operated as a subsidiary of Paramount Pictures. Leonard Goldenson, the head of UPT, made the new television network profitable by helping develop and greenlight many successful series. In the 1980s, after purchasing an 80 percent interest in cable sports channel ESPN, the network's corporate parent, American Broadcasting Companies, Inc. merged with Capital Cities Communications, owner of several print publications, television and radio stations. In 1996, most of Capital Cities/ABC's assets were purchased by The Walt Disney Company; the television network has eight owned-and-operated and over 232 affiliated television stations throughout the United States and its territories. Some of the ABC-affiliated stations can be seen in Canada via pay-television providers, certain other affiliates can be received over-the-air in areas within the Canada–United States border.
ABC News provides news and features content for select radio stations owned by Citadel Broadcasting, which purchased the ABC Radio properties in 2007. In the 1930s, radio in the United States was dominated by three companies: the Columbia Broadcasting System, the Mutual Broadcasting System, the National Broadcasting Company; the last was owned by electronics manufacturer Radio Corporation of America, which owned two radio networks that each ran different varieties of programming, NBC Blue and NBC Red. The NBC Blue Network was created in 1927 for the primary purpose of testing new programs on markets of lesser importance than those served by NBC Red, which served the major cities, to test drama series. In 1934, Mutual filed a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission regarding its difficulties in establishing new stations, in a radio market, being saturated by NBC and CBS. In 1938, the FCC began a series of investigations into the practices of radio networks and published its report on the broadcasting of network radio programs in 1940.
The report recommended that RCA give up control of either NBC NBC Blue. At that time, the NBC Red Network was the principal radio network in the United States and, according to the FCC, RCA was using NBC Blue to eliminate any hint of competition. Having no power over the networks themselves, the FCC established a regulation forbidding licenses to be issued for radio stations if they were affiliated with a network which owned multiple networks that provided content of public interest. Once Mutual's appeals against the FCC were rejected, RCA decided to sell NBC Blue in 1941, gave the mandate to do so to Mark Woods. RCA converted the NBC Blue Network into an independent subsidiary, formally divorcing the operations of NBC Red and NBC Blue on January 8, 1942, with the Blue Network being referred to on-air as either "Blue" or "Blue Network"; the newly separated NBC Red and NBC Blue divided their respective corporate assets. Between 1942 and 1943, Woods offered to sell the entire NBC Blue Network, a package that included leases on landlines, three pending television licenses, 60 affiliates, four operations facilities, contracts with actors, the brand associated with the Blue Network.
Investment firm Dillon, Read & Co. offered $7.5 million to purchase the network, but the offer was rejected by Woods and RCA president David Sarnoff. Edward J. Noble, the owner of Life Savers candy, drugstore chain Rexall and New York City radio station WMCA, purchased the network for $8 million. Due to FCC ownership rules, the transaction, to include the purchase of three RCA stations by Noble, would require him to resell his station with the FCC's approval; the Commission authorized the transaction on October 12, 1943. Soon afterward, the Blue Network was purchased by the new company Noble founded, the American Broadcasting System. Noble subsequently acquired the rights to the American Broadcasting Company name from George B. Storer in 1944. Meanwhile, in August 1944, the West Coast division of the Blue Network, which owned San Francisco radio station KGO, bought Los Angeles station KECA f
A cult film or cult movie commonly referred to as a cult classic, is a film that has acquired a cult following. Cult films are known for their dedicated, passionate fanbase, an elaborate subculture that engage in repeated viewings, quoting dialogue, audience participation. Inclusive definitions allow for major studio productions box office bombs, while exclusive definitions focus more on obscure, transgressive films shunned by the mainstream; the difficulty in defining the term and subjectivity of what qualifies as a cult film mirror classificatory disputes about art. The term cult film itself was first used in the 1970s to describe the culture that surrounded underground films and midnight movies, though cult was in common use in film analysis for decades prior to that. Cult films trace their origin back to controversial and suppressed films kept alive by dedicated fans. In some cases, reclaimed or rediscovered films have acquired cult followings decades after their original release for their camp value.
Other cult films have since become reassessed as classics. After failing in the cinema, some cult films have become regular fixtures on cable television or profitable sellers on home video. Others have inspired their own film festivals. Cult films can both form their own subcultures. Other media that reference cult films can identify which demographics they desire to attract and offer savvy fans an opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge. Cult films break cultural taboos, many feature excessive displays of violence, sexuality, profanity, or combinations thereof; this can lead to controversy and outright bans. Films that fail to attract requisite amounts of controversy may face resistance when labeled as cult films. Mainstream films and big budget blockbusters have attracted cult followings similar to more underground and lesser known films. Fans who like the films for the wrong reasons, such as perceived elements that represent mainstream appeal and marketing, will be ostracized or ridiculed.
Fans who stray from accepted subcultural scripts may experience similar rejection. Since the late 1970s, cult films have become popular. Films that once would have been limited to obscure cult followings are now capable of breaking into the mainstream, showings of cult films have proved to be a profitable business venture. Overbroad usage of the term has resulted in controversy, as purists state it has become a meaningless descriptor applied to any film, the slightest bit weird or unconventional. Films are stated to be an "instant cult classic" now before they are released. Fickle fans on the Internet have latched on to unreleased films only to abandon them on release. At the same time, other films have acquired massive, quick cult followings, owing to spreading virally through social media. Easy access to cult films via video on demand and peer-to-peer file sharing has led some critics to pronounce the death of cult films. A cult film is any film that has a cult following, although the term is not defined and can be applied to a wide variety of films.
Some definitions exclude films that have been released by major studios or have big budgets, that try to become cult films, or become accepted by mainstream audiences and critics. Cult films are defined by audience reaction as much as by their content; this may take the form of elaborate and ritualized audience participation, film festivals, or cosplay. Over time, the definition has become more vague and inclusive as it drifts away from earlier, stricter views. Increasing use of the term by mainstream publications has resulted in controversy, as cinephiles argue that the term has become meaningless or "elastic, a catchall for anything maverick or strange". Academic Mark Shiel has criticized the term itself as being reliant on subjectivity. According to feminist scholar Joanne Hollows, this subjectivity causes films with large female cult followings to be perceived as too mainstream and not transgressive enough to qualify as a cult film. Academic Mike Chopra‑Gant says that cult films become decontextualized when studied as a group, Shiel criticizes this recontextualization as cultural commodification.
In 2008, Cineaste asked a range of academics for their definition of a cult film. Several people defined cult films in terms of their opposition to mainstream films and conformism, explicitly requiring a transgressive element, though others disputed the transgressive potential, given the demographic appeal to conventional moviegoers and mainstreaming of cult films. Jeffrey Andrew Weinstock instead called them mainstream films with transgressive elements. Most definitions required a strong community aspect, such as obsessed fans or ritualistic behavior. Citing misuse of the term, Mikel J. Koven took a self-described hard-line stance that rejected definitions that use any other criteria. Matt Hills instead stressed the need for an open-ended definition rooted in structuration, where the film and the audience reaction are interrelated and neither is prioritized. Ernest Mathijs focused on the accidental nature of cult followings, arguing that cult film fans consider themselves too savvy to be marketed to, w
Elvis Aaron Presley was an American singer and actor. Regarded as one of the most significant cultural icons of the 20th century, he is referred to as the "King of Rock and Roll" or "the King". Presley was born in Tupelo and relocated to Memphis, with his family when he was 13 years old, his music career began there in 1954, recording at Sun Records with producer Sam Phillips, who wanted to bring the sound of African-American music to a wider audience. Accompanied by guitarist Scotty Moore and bassist Bill Black, Presley was a pioneer of rockabilly, an uptempo, backbeat-driven fusion of country music and rhythm and blues. In 1955, drummer D. J. Fontana joined to complete the lineup of Presley's classic quartet and RCA Victor acquired his contract in a deal arranged by Colonel Tom Parker, who would manage him for more than two decades. Presley's first RCA single, "Heartbreak Hotel", was released in January 1956 and became a number-one hit in the United States. With a series of successful network television appearances and chart-topping records, he became the leading figure of the newly popular sound of rock and roll.
His energized interpretations of songs and sexually provocative performance style, combined with a singularly potent mix of influences across color lines during a transformative era in race relations, made him enormously popular—and controversial. In November 1956, Presley made his film debut in Love Me Tender. Drafted into military service in 1958, Presley relaunched his recording career two years with some of his most commercially successful work, he held few concerts however, guided by Parker, proceeded to devote much of the 1960s to making Hollywood films and soundtrack albums, most of them critically derided. In 1968, following a seven-year break from live performances, he returned to the stage in the acclaimed television comeback special Elvis, which led to an extended Las Vegas concert residency and a string of profitable tours. In 1973, Presley gave the first concert by a solo artist to be broadcast around the world, Aloha from Hawaii. Years of prescription drug abuse compromised his health, he died in 1977 at his Graceland estate at the age of 42.
Presley is the best-selling solo artist in the history of recorded music. He was commercially successful in many genres, including pop, country and gospel, he won three competitive Grammys, received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award at age 36, has been inducted into multiple music halls of fame. Elvis Presley was born on January 8, 1935, in Tupelo, Mississippi, to Gladys Love Presley in the two-room shotgun house built by his father, Vernon Elvis Presley, in preparation for the birth. Jesse Garon Presley, his identical twin brother, was delivered 35 minutes before stillborn. Presley became close to both parents and formed an close bond with his mother; the family attended an Assembly of God church. On his mother's side Presley's ancestry was Scots-Irish, with some French Norman. Gladys and the rest of the family believed that her great-great-grandmother, Morning Dove White, was Cherokee. Vernon's forebears were of Scottish origin. Gladys was regarded by friends as the dominant member of the small family.
Vernon moved from one odd job to the evincing little ambition. The family relied on help from neighbors and government food assistance. In 1938, they lost their home after Vernon was found guilty of altering a check written by his landowner and sometime employer, he was jailed for eight months, while Elvis moved in with relatives. In September 1941, Presley entered first grade at East Tupelo Consolidated, where his teachers regarded him as "average", he was encouraged to enter a singing contest after impressing his schoolteacher with a rendition of Red Foley's country song "Old Shep" during morning prayers. The contest, held at the Mississippi–Alabama Fair and Dairy Show on October 3, 1945, was his first public performance; the ten-year-old Presley was dressed as a cowboy. He recalled placing fifth. A few months Presley received his first guitar for his birthday. Over the following year, he received basic guitar lessons from two of his uncles and the new pastor at the family's church. Presley recalled, "I took the guitar, I watched people, I learned to play a little bit.
But I would never sing in public. I was shy about it."In September 1946, Presley entered a new school, for sixth grade. The following year, he began bringing his guitar to school on a daily basis, he played and sang during lunchtime, was teased as a "trashy" kid who played hillbilly music. By the family was living in a Black neighborhood. Presley was a devotee of Mississippi Slim's show on the Tupelo radio station WELO, he was described as "crazy about music" by Slim's younger brother, one of Presley's classmates and took him into the station. Slim supplemented Presley's guitar tuition by demonstrating chord techniques; when his protégé was twelve years old, Slim scheduled him for two on-air performances. Presley was succeeded in performing the following week. In November 1948, the family moved to Tennessee. After residing for nearly a year in rooming houses, they were granted a two-bedroom apartment in the public housing complex known as the Lauderdale Courts. Enrolled at L. C. Humes Hig
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is an independent agency of the United States Federal Government responsible for the civilian space program, as well as aeronautics and aerospace research. NASA was established in 1958; the new agency was to have a distinctly civilian orientation, encouraging peaceful applications in space science. Since its establishment, most US space exploration efforts have been led by NASA, including the Apollo Moon landing missions, the Skylab space station, the Space Shuttle. NASA is supporting the International Space Station and is overseeing the development of the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle, the Space Launch System and Commercial Crew vehicles; the agency is responsible for the Launch Services Program which provides oversight of launch operations and countdown management for unmanned NASA launches. NASA science is focused on better understanding Earth through the Earth Observing System. From 1946, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics had been experimenting with rocket planes such as the supersonic Bell X-1.
In the early 1950s, there was challenge to launch an artificial satellite for the International Geophysical Year. An effort for this was the American Project Vanguard. After the Soviet launch of the world's first artificial satellite on October 4, 1957, the attention of the United States turned toward its own fledgling space efforts; the US Congress, alarmed by the perceived threat to national security and technological leadership, urged immediate and swift action. On January 12, 1958, NACA organized a "Special Committee on Space Technology", headed by Guyford Stever. On January 14, 1958, NACA Director Hugh Dryden published "A National Research Program for Space Technology" stating: It is of great urgency and importance to our country both from consideration of our prestige as a nation as well as military necessity that this challenge be met by an energetic program of research and development for the conquest of space... It is accordingly proposed that the scientific research be the responsibility of a national civilian agency...
NACA is capable, by rapid extension and expansion of its effort, of providing leadership in space technology. While this new federal agency would conduct all non-military space activity, the Advanced Research Projects Agency was created in February 1958 to develop space technology for military application. On July 29, 1958, Eisenhower signed the National Aeronautics and Space Act, establishing NASA; when it began operations on October 1, 1958, NASA absorbed the 43-year-old NACA intact. A NASA seal was approved by President Eisenhower in 1959. Elements of the Army Ballistic Missile Agency and the United States Naval Research Laboratory were incorporated into NASA. A significant contributor to NASA's entry into the Space Race with the Soviet Union was the technology from the German rocket program led by Wernher von Braun, now working for the Army Ballistic Missile Agency, which in turn incorporated the technology of American scientist Robert Goddard's earlier works. Earlier research efforts within the US Air Force and many of ARPA's early space programs were transferred to NASA.
In December 1958, NASA gained control of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a contractor facility operated by the California Institute of Technology. The agency's leader, NASA's administrator, is nominated by the President of the United States subject to approval of the US Senate, reports to him or her and serves as senior space science advisor. Though space exploration is ostensibly non-partisan, the appointee is associated with the President's political party, a new administrator is chosen when the Presidency changes parties; the only exceptions to this have been: Democrat Thomas O. Paine, acting administrator under Democrat Lyndon B. Johnson, stayed on while Republican Richard Nixon tried but failed to get one of his own choices to accept the job. Paine was confirmed by the Senate in March 1969 and served through September 1970. Republican James C. Fletcher, appointed by Nixon and confirmed in April 1971, stayed through May 1977 into the term of Democrat Jimmy Carter. Daniel Goldin was appointed by Republican George H. W. Bush and stayed through the entire administration of Democrat Bill Clinton.
Robert M. Lightfoot, Jr. associate administrator under Democrat Barack Obama, was kept on as acting administrator by Republican Donald Trump until Trump's own choice Jim Bridenstine, was confirmed in April 2018. Though the agency is independent, the survival or discontinuation of projects can depend directly on the will of the President; the first administrator was Dr. T. Keith Glennan appointed by Republican President Dwight D. Eisenhower. During his term he brought together the disparate projects in American space development research; the second administrator, James E. Webb, appointed by President John F. Kennedy, was a Democrat who first publicly served under President Harry S. Truman. In order to implement the Apollo program to achieve Kennedy's Moon la