Sunday, 26 June 2011

Elvis Is Dead

Daily Express dated August 17th 1977

Born 1935 in Tupelo in rural Mississippi. Died in Memphis Tennessee in 1977.
In 1954 he recorded for the small Sun label in Memphis in a style that was a mixture of Country and Blues, sometimes called Rockabilly and sometimes Rock’n’Roll. His early live performances outraged Country fans and parents alike. His fame spread and a move from Sun to the prodigious RCA record label set him on track to becoming just about the most famous music star in the western World.

His career can be neatly divided in to pre-Army and post-Army periods. The pre-Army Rock’n’Roll rebel and the post-Army middle-of-the-road showbiz star, when he lost many of his early young fans and gained many older fans.
When I say that despite appearing in 30 feature films (excluding concert films) he, arguably, made only 3 decent movies – Loving You, Jailhouse Rock and King Creole – and that his best recordings were for Sun and the first few RCA releases, you can guess which period I prefer.

He died at his home, Graceland, while reading a book on the toilet, whether of a heart attack brought on by badly congested arteries, or from an overdose of prescription drugs has never been really established. He was overweight, had an appalling diet and a doctor that prescribed (according to an article in the Observer) more than 10,000 doses of sedatives, amphetamines and narcotics. 

David Berkowitz aka The Son of Sam went on a year long killing spree between July 1976 and July 1977. He was caught and found guilty of 8 killings. He received a 365 year jail sentence and is still in prison at the time of writing.

Note the words at the end of this ad – You've got to be in it to win it – so that’s where the Lottery got their catch phrase.  Another Lottery connection – in 1996 Bill Maynard won £55000.

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Follies Girl in Jack Diamond Drama

Daily Mirror dated Tuesday October 14th 1930

This should be titled ‘Jack Diamond Shot – Again”, as this was the third serious attempt to kill the gangster. Despite being given the Last Rights he finally recovered and lived, only to be fatally gunned down the following year on December 18th 1931.

This page 3 story gives more details. Marion Roberts went on to live with Jack (after his wife left him) right up to his death. Rumour had it that she may well have been responsible for putting him ‘on the spot’.

In the 1930 German Reichstag Elections the Nazi Party (Social Democrat Workers Party) increased their seats from 12 to 107 to become the second largest force in the Parliament behind the SDP who had 143 seats. In 1933 Adolf Hitler became Reich Chancellor and the rest is history - and a lot of people stopped laughing.

Malcolm Campbell went to America and unveiled Bluebird Mark II and on 5th February 1931 broke the World Land Speed Record at Daytona by driving at 246 miles an hour. He went on to break the record several times, finally surpassing 300 mph on 3rd September 1935.

A Hummer 1930's style??

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Victory Day WWI

The Daily Mirror dated Monday July 21st 1919

The First World War is sometimes referred to as the 1914-18 War, sometimes the 1914-19 War and even the 1914-20 War. The killing officially ended on the 11th November 1918, Armistice Day. The War officially ended on 28th June 1919 when the Versailles Peace Treaty was signed, but the treaty didn’t come into force until 1st January 1920.

Meanwhile the British Government under Lloyd George decided a Victory Day was needed to provide ‘closure’ – 19th July 1919 was selected. A huge Victory parade was held in London and Victory celebrations were held throughout the Kingdom.  The London Parade centred on the Cenotaph (or Empty Tomb) Memorial designed by Edwin Lutyens. The Cenotaph used on the day was actually a wood and plaster mock-up which was replaced by the permanent Portland stone structure seen today.

“Jazzing”?!?   By Jove, Sir, didn’t we just fight a War to stop that sort of thing?

Not everyone was happy about the Victory Day celebrations. Many ex-soldiers were out of work. Others just wanted to forget the horrors they'd been through. There were protests up and down the land and some ex-servicemen associations refused to take part. 

French boxer George Carpentier (1894-1975) was at various times Middleweight Champion of Europe, Light-heavyweight Champion of Europe and Heavyweight Champion of Europe.

The meeting with Jack Dempsey mentioned in the article finally took place on 2nd July 1921 in Jersey City USA in a bout for the Heavyweight Championship of the World. Carpentier was soundly beaten in 4 rounds that ended in a knockout.
He went on to appear in vaudeville as a song and dance man(!), he appeared in a few films and then spent the rest of his life running bars and restaurants in Paris.

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Attempt to Kill Roosevelt

Daily Sketch dated  February 17th 1933

Italian born Giuseppe Zingara attempted to assassinate President Elect Franklin D Roosevelt while he was giving a talk from the back of his open top car in Miami. Zingara was in the 10,000 strong crowd and was standing on a chair when he fired 5 or 6 shots towards Roosevelt. He hit the Mayor of Chicago Anton Cermak and four other people but missed Roosevelt. 
He was arrested at the scene and charged with attempted murder, but when Cermak died a few days later the charge was changed to 1st Degree Murder, even though he confessed that Roosevelt was the intended victim.
Nine days after the attempt Roosevelt  became President and a month later Zingara was executed in the electric chair.

The goal of the Houston Mount Everest Expedition was to fly over the highest mountain in the World which they succeeded doing on April 3rd 1933 when Lord Clysedale and Colonel Blacker in one plane and Flight Lieutenant McIntyre and the photographer Mr Bonnett in the other, flew over the summit clearing it by about 100 feet.

Probably my favourite newspaper comic strip – Pop – started in 1921 by John Millar Watt.  I have the original 1925 Annual and as well as the humour, which hasn’t dated, there is the beautiful pensmanship to admire - just look at the man on the bike in the second panel.

Mrs Meyrick was a nightclub owner in the Roaring Twenties in London.  I see Amazon has 1 used copy available – too pricey for my taste though.  I have Robert Murphy’s ‘Smash and Grab’ (faber & faber 1993) which has a good chapter on Mrs Meyrick and her colourful customers.