Jack Benny was an American comedian, radio and film actor, violinist. Recognized as a leading 20th-century American entertainer, Benny portrayed his character as a miser, playing his violin badly, claiming to be 39 years of age, regardless of his actual age. Benny was known for his comic timing and the ability to cause laughter with a pregnant pause or a single expression, such as his signature exasperated "Well!" His radio and television programs, popular from 1932 until his death in 1974, were a major influence on the sitcom genre. Benny was born in Chicago and grew up in nearby Waukegan, Illinois, he was the son of Jewish immigrants Meyer Kubelsky and Emma Sachs Kubelsky, sometimes called "Naomi." Meyer was a saloon owner and a haberdasher who had emigrated to America from Poland. Emma had emigrated from Lithuania. Benny began studying violin, an instrument that became his trademark, at the age of 6, his parents hoping for him to become a professional violinist, he loved the instrument, but hated practice.
His music teacher was father of Otto Graham of NFL fame. At 14, Benny was playing in his high school orchestra, he was a dreamer and poor at his studies, was expelled from high school. He did poorly in business school and at attempts to join his father's business. In 1911, he began playing the violin in local vaudeville theaters for $7.50 a week. He was joined on the circuit by a young composer and singer; that same year, Benny was playing in the same theater as the young Marx Brothers. Minnie, their mother, enjoyed Benny's violin playing and invited him to accompany her boys in their act. Benny's parents refused to let their son go on the road at 17, but it was the beginning of his long friendship with the Marx Brothers Zeppo Marx; the next year, Benny formed a vaudeville musical duo with pianist Cora Folsom Salisbury, a buxom 45-year-old divorcée who needed a partner for her act. This angered famous violinist Jan Kubelik, who feared that the young vaudevillian with a similar name would damage his reputation.
Under legal pressure, Benjamin Kubelsky agreed to change his name to Ben K. Benny, sometimes spelled Bennie; when Salisbury left the act, Benny found a new pianist, Lyman Woods, renamed the act "From Grand Opera to Ragtime." They worked together for five years and integrated comedy elements into the show. They reached the "Mecca of Vaudeville," and did not do well. Benny left show business in 1917 to join the United States Navy during World War I, entertained the sailors with his violin playing. One evening, his violin performance was booed by the sailors, so with prompting from fellow sailor and actor Pat O'Brien, he ad-libbed his way out of the jam and left them laughing, he received more comedy spots in the revues and did well, earning a reputation as a comedian and musician. Shortly after the war, Benny developed a one-man act, "Ben K. Benny: Fiddle Funology", he received legal pressure from Ben Bernie, a "patter-and-fiddle" performer, regarding his name, so he adopted the sailor's nickname of Jack.
By 1921, the fiddle was more of a prop, the low-key comedy took over. Benny had some romantic encounters, including one with dancer Mary Kelly, whose devoutly Catholic family forced her to turn down his proposal because he was Jewish. Benny was introduced to Kelly by Gracie Allen; some years after their split, Kelly resurfaced as a dowdy fat girl and Jack gave her a part in an act of three girls: one homely, one fat, one who couldn't sing. In 1921, Benny accompanied Zeppo Marx to a Passover seder in Vancouver at the residence where he met 14-year-old Sadie Marks, their first meeting did not go well. They met again in 1926. Jack had not remembered their earlier meeting and fell for her, they married the following year. She was working in the hosiery section of the Hollywood Boulevard branch of the May Company, where Benny courted her. Called on to fill in for the "dumb girl" part in a Benny routine, Sadie proved to be a natural comedienne. Adopting the stage name Mary Livingstone, Sadie collaborated with Benny throughout most of his career.
They adopted a daughter, Joan. In 1929 Benny's agent, Sam Lyons, convinced Irving Thalberg, American film producer at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, to watch Benny at the Orpheum Theatre in Los Angeles. Benny signed a five-year contract with MGM, where his first role was in The Hollywood Revue of 1929; the next movie, Chasing Rainbows, did not do well, after several months Benny was released from his contract and returned to Broadway in Earl Carroll's Vanities. At first dubious about the viability of radio, Benny grew eager to break into the new medium. In 1932, after a four-week nightclub run, he was invited onto Ed Sullivan's radio program, uttering his first radio spiel "This is Jack Benny talking. There will be a slight pause while you say,'Who cares?'..." Benny had been a minor vaudeville performer before becoming a national figure with The Jack Benny Program, a weekly radio show that ran from 1932 to 1948 on NBC and from 1949 to 1955 on CBS. It was among the most rated programs during its run. Benny's long radio career began on April 6, 1932, when the NBC Commercial Program Department auditioned him for the N. W. Ayer & Son agency and their client, Canada Dry, after which Bertha Brainard, head of the division, said, "We think Mr. Benny is excellent for radio and, while the audition was unassisted as far as orchestra was concerned, we believe he would make a great bet for an air program."
Recalling the experience in 1956, Benny said Ed Sullivan had invited him to guest o
Arturo Toscanini was an Italian conductor. He was one of the most acclaimed musicians of the late 19th and of the 20th century, renowned for his intensity, his perfectionism, his ear for orchestral detail and sonority, his eidetic memory, he was at various times the music director of La Scala in Milan, the Metropolitan Opera in New York, the New York Philharmonic. In his career he was appointed the first music director of the NBC Symphony Orchestra, this led to his becoming a household name through his radio and television broadcasts and many recordings of the operatic and symphonic repertoire. Toscanini was born in Parma, Emilia-Romagna, won a scholarship to the local music conservatory, where he studied the cello. Living conditions at the conservatory were harsh. For example, his diet consisted completely of fish; when he became successful, he never ate anything. He joined the orchestra of an opera company, with which he toured South America in 1886. While presenting Aida in Rio de Janeiro on June 25, Leopoldo Miguez, the locally hired conductor, reached the summit of a two-month escalating conflict with the performers due to his rather poor command of the work, to the point that the singers went on strike and forced the company's general manager to seek a substitute conductor.
Carlo Superti and Aristide Venturi tried unsuccessfully to finish the work. In desperation, the singers suggested the name of their assistant Chorus Master, who knew the whole opera from memory. Although he had no conducting experience, Toscanini was persuaded by the musicians to take up the baton at 9:15 pm, led a performance of the two-and-a-half hour opera from memory; the public was taken by surprise, at first by the youth and sheer aplomb of this unknown conductor by his solid mastery. The result was astounding acclaim. For the rest of that season, Toscanini conducted all with absolute success, thus began his career as a conductor, at age 19. Upon returning to Italy, Toscanini set out on a dual path, he continued to conduct, his first appearance in Italy being at the Teatro Carignano in Turin, on November 4, 1886, in the world premiere of the revised version of Alfredo Catalani's Edmea. This was championing of Catalani, he returned to his chair in the cello section, participated as cellist in the world premiere of Verdi's Otello under the composer's supervision.
Verdi, who habitually complained that conductors never seemed interested in directing his scores the way he had written them, was impressed by reports from Arrigo Boito about Toscanini's ability to interpret his scores. The composer was impressed when Toscanini consulted him about Verdi's Te Deum, suggesting an allargando where it was not set out in the score. Verdi said that he had left it out for fear that "certain interpreters would have exaggerated the marking". Toscanini's reputation as an operatic conductor of unusual authority and skill supplanted his cello career. In the following decade, he consolidated his career in Italy, entrusted with the world premieres of Puccini's La bohème and Leoncavallo's Pagliacci. In 1896, Toscanini conducted his first symphonic concert, he exhibited a considerable capacity for hard work, conducting 43 concerts in Turin in 1898. By 1898, Toscanini was Principal Conductor at La Scala, where he remained until 1908, returning as Music Director, from 1921–1929.
During this time he collaborated with Alfredo Antonini – a young pianist and organist in La Scala Orchestra. He brought the La Scala Orchestra to the United States on a concert tour in 1920/21, during which he made his first recordings. Outside Europe, Toscanini conducted at the Metropolitan Opera in New York as well as the New York Philharmonic. At the end of his season with the Metropolitan Opera in May 1915 Toscanini was set to return to Europe aboard the doomed RMS Lusitania, but instead cut his concert schedule short and left a week early aboard the Italian liner Duca degli Abruzzi, he toured Europe with the New York Philharmonic in 1930. At each performance, he and the orchestra were acclaimed by audiences. Toscanini was the first non-German conductor to appear at Bayreuth, the New York Philharmonic was the first non-German orchestra to play there. In the 1930s, he conducted at the Salzburg Festival, as well as the 1936 inaugural concert of the Palestine Orchestra in Tel Aviv conducting them in Jerusalem, Haifa and Alexandria.
During his engagement with the New York Philharmonic, Hans Lange, the son of the last Master of the Sultan's Music in Istanbul, who became conductor of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the founder of the New Mexico Symphony Orchestra as a professional ensemble, was his concert master. During his career, Toscanini collaborated with such artists as Enrico Caruso, Feodor Chaliapin, Ezio Pinza, Jussi Björling, Geraldine Farrar and Lauritz Melchior. In 1919, Toscanini unsuccessfully ran as a Fascist parliamentary candidate in Milan, he had been called "the greatest conductor in the world" by Fascist leader Benito Mussolini. Toscanini had become disillusioned with fascism before the October 1922 March on Rome and defied the Italian dictator, he refused to display Musso
Mason City, Iowa
Mason City is a city in and the county seat of Cerro Gordo County, United States. The population was 28,079 in the 2010 census, a decline from 29,172 in the 2000 census; the Mason City Micropolitan Statistical Area includes all of Cerro Worth counties. It is referred to as the "River City", as the city grew up centered on the Winnebago River; the region around what would be first called "Shibboleth" was a summer home to the Sioux and Winnebago nations. The first settlement was made at Shibboleth in 1853 at the confluence of the Winnebago River and Calmus Creek; the town had several names: Shibboleth, Masonic Grove, Masonville, until the name Mason City was adopted in 1855, in honor of a founder's son, Mason Long. In 1854, John McMillin opened the first store, Dr. Silas Card opened the first medical practice in the area. Lizzie Thompson established the first schoolhouse in a log cabin in 1856; the United States Post Office Department started service to the town in 1857. Mason City was named as the county seat in 1858.
Mason City is known for its musical heritage producing successful performers and educators. The city's "favorite son", Meredith Willson, grew up in Mason City and played in the Mason City Symphonic Band as a high school student. Willson's crowning achievement was the famous musical The Music Man. Many of the characters in it were taken from people. According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 28.10 square miles, of which 27.81 square miles is land and 0.29 square miles is water. As of the census of 2010, there were 28,079 people, 12,366 households, 7,210 families residing in the city; the population density was 1,009.7 inhabitants per square mile. There were 13,352 housing units at an average density of 480.1 per square mile. The racial makeup of the city was 93.8% White, 1.8% African American, 0.3% Native American, 0.9% Asian, 1.3% from other races, 1.9% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 5.1% of the population. There were 12,366 households of which 26.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 43.2% were married couples living together, 10.8% had a female householder with no husband present, 4.3% had a male householder with no wife present, 41.7% were non-families.
35.0% of all households were made up of individuals and 13.4% had someone living alone, 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.20 and the average family size was 2.83. The median age in the city was 40.9 years. 21.9% of residents were under the age of 18. The gender makeup of the city was 48.2% male and 51.8% female. As of the census of 2000, there were 29,172 people, 12,368 households, 7,507 families residing in the city; the population density was 1,131.3 people per square mile. There were 13,029 housing units at an average density of 505.3 per square mile. The racial makeup of the city was 95.40% White, 1.17% African American, 0.18% Native American, 0.77% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 1.07% from other races, 1.40% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 3.45% of the population. There were 12,368 households out of which 28.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 47.4% were married couples living together, 10.3% had a female householder with no husband present, 39.3% were non-families.
33.5% of all households were made up of individuals and 14.6% had someone living alone, 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.27 and the average family size was 2.90. In the city the population was spread out with 23.6% under the age of 18, 10.2% from 18 to 24, 26.7% from 25 to 44, 21.7% from 45 to 64, 17.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females, there were 90.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 85.8 males. The median income for a household in the city was $33,852, the median income for a family was $45,160. Males had a median income of $32,451 versus $21,756 for females; the per capita income for the city was $18,899. About 7.2% of families and 10.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 10.9% of those under age 18 and 10.1% of those age 65 or over. Mason City has a diverse employment base covering multiple sectors of the economy including Manufacturing, Financial Services and Education, with no one sector or employer dominating the market.
The largest employer is Mercy Medical Center-North Iowa. Other major industry includes door manufacturer Curries/Graham Company, Woodhardbor Cabinetry Manufacturers, Principal Financial, Cargill Kitchen Solutions and the Kraft Foods plant that produces the nation's entire supply of refrigerated ready-to-eat Jell-O pudding snacks. Mason City is a major production center for Portland Cement. In November 2007, Reyes Holding / Martin-Brower opened a distribution facility serving McDonald's in 5 states. In March 2016, North Carolina based company Prestage Farms proposed to build a $240 million pork processing plant or slaughterhouse in Mason City, employing about 1,800 people. In May, the Mason City Council cast. Plant opponents raised environmental issues and expressed concern about possible harm to property values. In late May or early June Mason City holds an annual celebration of its musical heritage called The North Iowa Band Festival. Bands from across the midwest compete during the parade to be named the best band.
The home bands, Mason City High School and Newman Catholic High School Marching Bands, do not compete but do perform in the p
George Burns was an American comedian, actor and writer. He was one of the few entertainers whose career spanned vaudeville, radio and television, his arched eyebrow and cigar-smoke punctuation became familiar trademarks for over three quarters of a century. He and his wife, Gracie Allen, appeared on radio and film as the comedy duo Burns and Allen. At age 79, Burns had a sudden career revival as an amiable and unusually active comedy elder statesman in the 1975 film The Sunshine Boys, for which he won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. Burns, who became a centenarian in 1996, continued to work until just weeks before his death of cardiac arrest at his home in Beverly Hills. George Burns was born Nathan Birnbaum on January 20, 1896 in New York City, the ninth of 12 children born to Hadassah "Dorah" and Eliezer Birnbaum, known as Louis or Lippe, Jewish immigrants who had come to the United States from Kolbuszowa, Galicia. Burns was a member of the First Roumanian-American Congregation.
His father was a substitute cantor at the local synagogue but worked as a coat presser. During the influenza epidemic of 1903, Lippe Birnbaum contracted the flu and died at the age of 47. Nattie went to work to help support the family, shining shoes, running errands and selling newspapers; when he landed a job as a syrup maker in a local candy shop at age seven, "Nate" as he was known, was "discovered", as he recalled long after: Burns was drafted into the United States Army when the U. S. entered World War I in 1917, but he failed the physical because he was nearsighted. In order to try to hide his Jewish heritage, he adopted the stage name by which he would be known for the rest of his life, he claimed in a few interviews that the idea of the name originated from the fact that two star major league players were playing major league baseball at the time. Both men hold some major league records. Burns was reported to have taken the name "George" from his brother Izzy, the Burns from the Burns Brothers Coal Company.
He partnered with a girl, sometimes in an adagio dance routine, sometimes comic patter. Though he had an apparent flair for comedy, he never quite clicked with any of his partners, until he met a young Irish Catholic lady in 1923. "And all of a sudden," he said famously in years, "the audience realized I had a talent. They were right. I did have a talent—and I was married to her for 38 years."His first wife was Hannah Siegel, one of his dance partners. The marriage, never consummated, lasted 26 weeks and happened because her family would not let them go on tour unless they were married, they divorced at the end of the tour. Burns' second wife and famous partner in their entertainment routines was Gracie Allen. George Burns started smoking when he was 14. Burns and Allen got a start in motion pictures with a series of comic short films in the late 1930s, their feature credits in the mid- to late-1930s included The Big Broadcast. Honolulu would be Burns's last movie for nearly 40 years. Burns and Allen were indirectly responsible for the Bob Hope and Bing Crosby series of "Road" pictures.
In 1938, William LeBaron and managing director at Paramount, had a script prepared by Don Hartman and Frank Butler. It was to star Burns and Allen with Bing Crosby, already an established star of radio and the movies; the story did not seem to fit the comedy team's style, so LeBaron ordered Hartman and Butler to rewrite the script to fit two male co-stars: Hope and Crosby. The script was titled Road to Singapore, it made motion picture history when it was released in 1940. Burns and Allen first made it to radio as the comedy relief for bandleader Guy Lombardo, which did not always sit well with Lombardo's home audience. In his memoir, The Third Time Around, Burns revealed a college fraternity's protest letter, complaining that they resented their weekly dance parties with their girl friends listening to "Thirty Minutes of the Sweetest Music This Side of Heaven" had to be broken into by the droll vaudeville team. In time, though and Allen found their own show and radio audience, first airing on February 15, 1932 and concentrating on their classic stage routines plus sketch comedy in which the Burns and Allen style was woven into different little scenes, not unlike the short films they made in Hollywood.
They were good for a clever publicity stunt, none more so than the hunt for Gracie's missing brother, a hunt that included Gracie turning up on other radio shows searching for him as well. The couple was portrayed at first as younger singles, with Allen the object of both Burns' and other cast members' affections. Most notably, bandleaders Ray Noble and Artie Shaw played "love" interests to Gracie. In addition, singer Tony Martin played an unwilling love interest of Gracie's, in which Gracie "sexually harassed" him, by threatening to fire him if the romantic interest was not reciprocated. In time, due to slipping ratings and the difficulty of being portrayed as singles in light of the audience's close familiarity with their
Fibber McGee and Molly
Fibber McGee and Molly was an American radio comedy series. A staple of the NBC Red Network for the show's entire run and one of the most popular and enduring radio series of its time, the prime time situation comedy ran as a standalone series from 1935 to 1956 continued as a short-form series as part of the weekend Monitor from 1957 to 1959; the title characters were created and portrayed by Jim and Marian Jordan, a real-life husband and wife team, working in radio since the 1920s. Fibber McGee and Molly, which followed up the Jordans' previous radio sitcom Smackout, followed the adventures of a working-class couple, the habitual storyteller Fibber McGee and his sometimes terse but always loving wife Molly, living among their numerous neighbors and acquaintances in the community of Wistful Vista; as with most radio comedies of the era, Fibber McGee and Molly featured an announcer, house band and vocal quartet for interludes. At the peak of the show's success in the 1940s, it was adapted into a string of feature films.
The stars of the program were real-life husband and wife team James "Jim" Jordan and Marian Driscoll Jordan, who were natives of Peoria, Illinois. Jordan was the seventh of eight children born to James Edward Jordan and Mary Jordan, while Driscoll was the twelfth out of thirteen children born to Daniel P. and Anna Driscoll. The son of a farmer, Jim wanted to be a singer. Both attended the same Catholic church. Marian's parents had attempted to discourage acting aspirations; when she started seeing young Jim Jordan, the Driscolls were far from approving of Jim and his ideas. Jim's voice teacher gave him a recommendation for work as a professional in Chicago, he followed it, he soon tired of the life on the road. In less than a year, Jim went to work for the Post Office, his occupation was now acceptable to Marian's parents, they stopped objecting to the couple's marriage plans. The pair were married in Peoria on August 31, 1918. Five days after the wedding, Jim received his draft notice, he was sent to France and became part of a military touring group that entertained the armed forces after World War I.
When Jim came home from France, he and Marian decided to try their luck with a vaudeville act. They had Kathryn Therese Jordan and James Carroll Jordan, both born in Peoria. Marian returned home for the birth of Kathryn but went back to performing with Jim, leaving her daughter with Jim's parents. After Jim Jr. was born in 1923, Marian stayed with the children for a time, while Jim performed as a solo act. Marian and the children joined him on the road for a short time, but the couple had to admit defeat when they found themselves in Lincoln, Illinois in 1923 with two small children and no funds; the couple's parents had to wire them money for their return to Peoria. Jim went to work at a local department store but still felt the attraction of being in show business, he and Marian went back into vaudeville. While staying with Jim's brother in Chicago in 1924, the family was listening to the radio. Jim's brother bet him $10. To win the bet and Marian went to WIBO, where they were put on the air. At the end of the performance, the station offered the couple a contract for a weekly show, which paid $10 per week.
The sponsor of the show was Oh Henry! candy, they appeared for six months on The Oh Henry! Twins program, switching to radio station WENR by 1927; when it appeared to the couple that they were financially successful, they built a home in Chicago, a replica of their rented home, complete to building it on the lot next door. For their 1939 move to the West Coast, the Jordans selected an inconspicuous home in Encino; some of Jim Jordan's investments included the bottling company for Hires Root Beer in Kansas City. Fibber McGee and Molly originated when the small-time husband-and-wife vaudevillians began their third year as Chicago-area radio performers. Two of the shows they did for station WENR beginning in 1927, both written by Harry Lawrence, bore traces of what was to come and rank as one of the earliest forms of situation comedy. In their Luke and Mirandy farm-report program, Jim played a farmer, given to tall tales and face-saving lies for comic effect. In a weekly comedy, The Smith Family, Marian's character was an Irish wife of an American police officer.
These characterizations, plus the Jordans' change from being singers/musicians to comic actors, pointed toward their future. It was at WENR where the Jordans met Donald Quinn, a cartoonist, working in radio, the couple hired him as their writer in 1931, they included him as a full partner. While working on the WENR farm report, Jim Jordan heard a true story about a shopkeeper from Missouri whose store was brimming with stock, yet he claimed to be "smack out" of whatever a customer would ask him for; the story reached the halls of nearby Columbia College, the students began visiting the store, which they called "Smackout", to hear the owner's incredible stories. For station WM
The United States of America known as the United States or America, is a country composed of 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, various possessions. At 3.8 million square miles, the United States is the world's third or fourth largest country by total area and is smaller than the entire continent of Europe's 3.9 million square miles. With a population of over 327 million people, the U. S. is the third most populous country. The capital is Washington, D. C. and the largest city by population is New York City. Forty-eight states and the capital's federal district are contiguous in North America between Canada and Mexico; the State of Alaska is in the northwest corner of North America, bordered by Canada to the east and across the Bering Strait from Russia to the west. The State of Hawaii is an archipelago in the mid-Pacific Ocean; the U. S. territories are scattered about the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, stretching across nine official time zones. The diverse geography and wildlife of the United States make it one of the world's 17 megadiverse countries.
Paleo-Indians migrated from Siberia to the North American mainland at least 12,000 years ago. European colonization began in the 16th century; the United States emerged from the thirteen British colonies established along the East Coast. Numerous disputes between Great Britain and the colonies following the French and Indian War led to the American Revolution, which began in 1775, the subsequent Declaration of Independence in 1776; the war ended in 1783 with the United States becoming the first country to gain independence from a European power. The current constitution was adopted in 1788, with the first ten amendments, collectively named the Bill of Rights, being ratified in 1791 to guarantee many fundamental civil liberties; the United States embarked on a vigorous expansion across North America throughout the 19th century, acquiring new territories, displacing Native American tribes, admitting new states until it spanned the continent by 1848. During the second half of the 19th century, the Civil War led to the abolition of slavery.
By the end of the century, the United States had extended into the Pacific Ocean, its economy, driven in large part by the Industrial Revolution, began to soar. The Spanish–American War and World War I confirmed the country's status as a global military power; the United States emerged from World War II as a global superpower, the first country to develop nuclear weapons, the only country to use them in warfare, a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council. Sweeping civil rights legislation, notably the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the Fair Housing Act of 1968, outlawed discrimination based on race or color. During the Cold War, the United States and the Soviet Union competed in the Space Race, culminating with the 1969 U. S. Moon landing; the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 left the United States as the world's sole superpower. The United States is the world's oldest surviving federation, it is a representative democracy.
The United States is a founding member of the United Nations, World Bank, International Monetary Fund, Organization of American States, other international organizations. The United States is a developed country, with the world's largest economy by nominal GDP and second-largest economy by PPP, accounting for a quarter of global GDP; the U. S. economy is post-industrial, characterized by the dominance of services and knowledge-based activities, although the manufacturing sector remains the second-largest in the world. The United States is the world's largest importer and the second largest exporter of goods, by value. Although its population is only 4.3% of the world total, the U. S. holds 31% of the total wealth in the world, the largest share of global wealth concentrated in a single country. Despite wide income and wealth disparities, the United States continues to rank high in measures of socioeconomic performance, including average wage, human development, per capita GDP, worker productivity.
The United States is the foremost military power in the world, making up a third of global military spending, is a leading political and scientific force internationally. In 1507, the German cartographer Martin Waldseemüller produced a world map on which he named the lands of the Western Hemisphere America in honor of the Italian explorer and cartographer Amerigo Vespucci; the first documentary evidence of the phrase "United States of America" is from a letter dated January 2, 1776, written by Stephen Moylan, Esq. to George Washington's aide-de-camp and Muster-Master General of the Continental Army, Lt. Col. Joseph Reed. Moylan expressed his wish to go "with full and ample powers from the United States of America to Spain" to seek assistance in the revolutionary war effort; the first known publication of the phrase "United States of America" was in an anonymous essay in The Virginia Gazette newspaper in Williamsburg, Virginia, on April 6, 1776. The second draft of the Articles of Confederation, prepared by John Dickinson and completed by June 17, 1776, at the latest, declared "The name of this Confederation shall be the'United States of America'".
The final version of the Articles sent to the states for ratification in late 1777 contains the sentence "The Stile of this Confederacy shall be'The United States of America'". In June 1776, Thomas Jefferson wrote the phrase "UNITED STATES OF AMERICA" in all capitalized letters in the headline of his "original Rough draught" of the Declaration of Independence; this draft of the document did not surface unti
The Big Show (NBC Radio)
The Big Show, an American radio variety program featuring 90 minutes of comic, stage and music talent, was aimed at keeping American radio in its classic era alive and well against the growing television tide. For a good portion of its two-year run, the show's quality made. Hosted by stage actress Tallulah Bankhead, The Big Show began November 5, 1950, on NBC with a stellar line-up of guests: Fred Allen, Mindy Carson, Jimmy Durante, José Ferrer, Portland Hoffa, Frankie Laine, Russell Knight, Paul Lukas, Ethel Merman, Danny Thomas and Meredith Willson. To make sure no one missed the launch, NBC ran in Sunday newspapers across the country an illustrated advertisement displaying headshots of Allen, Carson and Merman; the premiere opened with this introduction: Tallulah Bankhead: This is radio, 1950. The greatest stars of our time on one big program, and the most fabulous part about this, darlings, is that every Sunday we will present other stars of the same magnitude. Uh, pardon me if I sound like a name dropper, but, uh, let's look into three or four of the names we've lined up for next week's show: Groucho Marx, Fanny Brice, Jane Powell and Ezio Pinnnn-za!
Well, don't just sit there with your mouths open, darlings. I know what you're thinking: you think such a radio show every week is impossible, and I'm sure. Oh, no, that doesn't sound quite right, does it? But NBC says. All it takes is courage, a king-sized bundle of dough; each week, there will be comedy, music, all performed by the biggest stars of the time. Of course, now and a clinker may sneak in, but we're going to try--Jimmy Durante: Just a minute, just a minute. I heard that last remark and I resemble it! As she promised, on the second week's program, the guests were Groucho Marx, Jane Powell, Ezio Pinza and Fanny Brice, along with Hanley Stafford, Frank Lovejoy, David Brian and John Agar; the early shows were successful, the program stayed on Sunday nights from 6:00-7:30pm ET for its first season, shifting to 6:30-8:00pm ET in its second. NBC went full-throttle in an attempt to keep radio from its predicted death, The Big Show was thought to be a key to that effort. Newsweek stated it was "the biggest bang to hit radio since TV started."
As if to prove big bang and big bucks were mutual partners, some $100,000 could be budgeted for a single installment. The show's success was credited to Bankhead's notorious wit and ad-libbing ability in addition to the show's superior scripting, she had one of the funniest writers in the business on her staff: Goodman Ace, the mastermind of radio's legendary Easy Aces. She included renowned ad-libbers in the show—particularly Fred Allen and Groucho Marx, both of whom appeared on the first season's finale and appeared jointly on three other installments; as Bankhead recorded in her memoirs, she took the show because she needed the money but nearly changed her mind when she feared she'd be little more than a glorified mistress of ceremonies with nothing to do but introduce the feature performers. "Guess what happened?" she continued. "Your heroine emerged from the fracas as the Queen of the Kilocycles. Authorities cried out. In shepherding my charges through The Big Show, said the critics, I had snatched radio out of the grave.
The autopsy was delayed." The show opened each week with Bankhead trumpeting the high profile of each show's guests. Those guests would introduce themselves in alphabetical order before Bankhead finished with her own unmistakable rasp, "And my name, darlings, is Tallulah Bankhead." The show's lineup, including Allen and Marx, was a literal "who's who" of American entertainment of the time. They included film stars Ethel Barrymore, Charles Boyer, Gary Cooper, Marlene Dietrich, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. Carmen Miranda, Bob Hope and Lewis, Ginger Rogers, George Sanders, Gloria Swanson; the show featured many of the nation's most familiar radio stars, some of whom were beginning to shine on the medium the show was intended to help hold at bay: Gertrude Berg, Milton Berle, Bob Cummings, Joan Davis, Ed Gardner, Phil Harris, Garry Moore, Jan Murray and Harriet Nelson, Phil Silvers, Danny Thomas, Paul Winchell and more. Other shows in the radio universe were referenced; the Big Show's November 26, 1950, for example, took the cast of Bankhead, Fred Allen, Jack Carson, Melchior and Ed Wynn to the fictitious Duffy's Tavern, where Ed Gardner, in character as Archie the manager, awaited them.
Fred Allen, who joked about his own radio demise, joined Bankhead in recreating one of the best-remembered routines from Allen's old show: the "Mr. and Mrs. Breakfast Show" routine that ruthlessly satirized the saccharine husband-and-wife morning shows that became something of a radio staple a decade earlier, and it was on The Big Show's premiere that Allen delivered his famous wisecrack about TV: "Television is a new medi