Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Florenz Ziegfeld, Jr 150 -- March 21, 2017


Flo Ziegeld, American impresario, was born 150 years ago today, on 21-March-1867.  Early in his career, he promoted strongman Eugen Sandow.  Then he brought singer and dancer Anna Held over from France.

Anna Held gave him the idea of producing a Broadway revue, the Ziegfeld Follies.

Ziegfeld hired major composers like Irving Berlin, Victor Herbert and Rudolph Friml.



Photoplay, March, 1930

Ziegfeld hired major comedians like Fanny Brice, WC Fields, Eddie Cantor and Will Rogers.

Ziegfeld hired many female stars, like Marilyn Miller, Lillian Lorraine and Ruth Etting.

Ziegfeld hired many beautiful girls like Muriel Finley and Peggy Shannon to serve in the chorus.  They became known as Ziegfeld Girls.  The photos are by Alfred Cheney Johnston.

 And of course he married Billie Burke.  Lucky guy. 

The Follies ran every year from 1907 to 1931.  Ziegfeld also produced big musicals like Whoopee, Rio Rita, Show Boat and Sally.

The Great Depression ruined Ziegfeld.  He died in 1932, leaving Billie Burke with a young daughter, a mountain of debt and an elephant.  She went back to the movies to support her daughter and pay the debts.  I think she sold the elephant. 

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Chuck Berry, RIP -- March 19, 2017


Chuck Berry died.  He was influenced by Louis Jordan and T-Bone Walker.  He influenced everyone.  He kept going and going.  He has an album coming out this year.

Lots of people said he was a miserable sob to deal with, but amazingly talented.

Happy Saint Joseph's Day, 2017 -- March 19, 2017


Happy Saint Joseph's Day to my fellow Joes.

I miss having Joe Biden as our Vice President.  He has a big heart.  

Friday, March 17, 2017

James Cotton, RIP -- March 18, 2017


I was sad to learn of the death of blues harp player James Cotton.  I think I first heard him on a Muddy Waters album.

Happy Saint Patrick's Day, 2017 -- March 17, 2017

Happy Saint Patrick's Day, everyone.

The original Life Magazine was a humorous weekly that was published from 1883 to 1936.  Here is the cover of their 16-March-1922 edition.  Be sure to click on the image to see a larger version. 

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Barnum and Bailey Greatest Show on Earth -- March 15, 2017

This year, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus is calling it quits after about 147 years. PT Barnum's Great Traveling Museum, Menagerie, Caravan, and Hippodrome was formed by Dan Castello in 1875, using Barnum's name and money. Later Castello and his partner William C Coup adopted the tagline "Greatest Show on Earth."The Ringling Brothers purchased the show in 1907 and combined it with their own circus in 1919. 

Monday, March 13, 2017

1886 Benz Patent Motorwagen -- March 13, 2017

We visited the Blackhawk Museum in June, 2013 to drool over their collection of classic autos.They hosted a working reproduction of the 1886 Benz Patent Motorwagen, the first automobile available for sale.  Karl Benz and his associates in Mannheim built the tricycle with a four-stroke, one-cylinder gasolene engine.  It has a single speed transmission with no reverse gear.

Karl's wife Bertha drove the car 106km to visit her mother, demonstrating that a woman, accompanied only by two children, could operate such a vehicle.  Benz sold about 25 Motorwagens.  Later models had reverse gears. 

Single cylinder engines need large flywheels. 

Saturday, March 11, 2017

"Play Ball" in Mutual Weekly -- March 11, 2017

Moving Picture World, 24-March-1917

Here we see the Chicago Cubs taking Spring Training in Pasadena, California.  The players in the photo are pitchers Phil Douglas, Claude Hendrix and Hippo Vaughn. 

On 02-May-1917, in Chicago, Vaughn and the Cincinnati Reds' Fred Toney each gave up no hits for nine innings.  In the tenth, the Reds scored on a hit by Jim Thorpe.  Vaughn lost the game. 

Thursday, March 9, 2017

The Destroyer -- March 9, 2017

With his devil's face, a skull logo on his chest and those awful striped tights, the Destroyer  looks like a bad guy, but you'll notice he is tearing down a swastika flag and attacking some Nazis, one of whom is whipping an old man.  American reporter Keen Marlow went to Germany in 1941 to investigate the horrors perpetrated by the Nazis.  He was locked in a concentration camp.  An elderly scientist who had resisted the Nazis gave Keen an injection which gave him super powers.  The scientist died and Keen broke out of the camp and took vengeance on the Nazis. 

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Count Zeppelin Dies Near Berlin -- March 8, 2017

Washington Evening Star, 09-March-1917
This article, from the 09-March-1917 Washington Evening Star, details the death of Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin, inventor and namesake of the rigid airship known as the Zeppelin.  The Zeppelin Museum Friedrichshafen was finally established in 1996. 

Famous Inventor of Dirigible
Victim of Lung Affection,
Says Berlin Dispatch.

By the Associated Press.
LONDON, March 9. -- Count Zeppelin is dead. according to a dispatch from Berlin received by Reuter's Telegram Company. A Berlin telegram transmitted by Reuter's Amsterdam correspondent says Count Zeppelin died yesterday in Charlottenburg, near Berlin, from inflammation of the lungs.

Count Zeppelin was suffering from dysentery for some time prior to his death and a complication of the malady necessitated an intestinal operation, according to a Berlin dispatch to Reuter's by way of Amsterdam. The operation was successful and his recovery was hoped for when mumps developed and later inflammation of the lungs. It was difficult for him to receive nourishment and his power of resistance was considerably weakened. The critical point in his illness was reached a few days ago, and he died at noon yesterday.

The morning newspapers today print long obituaries of Count Zeppelin, whose career is reviewed in most instances dispassionately and in some cases with tributes to his patriotism and perseverance. Justice is done by the writers to the remarkable development of the Zeppelin airship as a traveling  machine, although the achievements in aerial navigation associated with Count Zeppelin's name are ascribed to his engineers rather than to himself.

 Met Many Disappointments.

The reputed ambition of Count Zeppelin to lay London in ruin and his alleged confidence in the ability of his machines to achieve this object are recalled, while failure to realise such an ambition is regarded by some of the writers a sufficient ground on which to base the statement that Zeppelin's
career of strange vicissitudes ended in dissolution and defeat at one of the lowest points in his fluctuating fortunes. His least appreciative commentator says: "His chief feat is that he killed or wounded 1,500 British citizens, mostly non-combatants, by disloyal means and gave Germany her greatest disappointment of the war.

The vituperative vein, however, is inconspicuous in most of the reviews. In one of them it is contended that Count Zeppelin realized his ambitions to an extraordinary degree, and that, with the help of his engineers, he developed a machine which is unique in some respects and which, since the war, exploded the fallacy that the giant rigid airships are useless.

Count Ferdinand Zeppelin became famous at the age of seventy as the builder of the world's first practical dirigible balloon. On his seventy-fifth birthday he navigated his twentieth airship to celebrate the occasion. But before he had achieved fame he had devoted a half century of his life, exhausted his personal fortune of $750,000 and sacrificed a brilliant career as a German cavalry leader in conquering the air.

Emperor William recently proclaimed Count Zeppelin to be "the greatest German of the twentieth century." As a token of appreciation he conferred upon him the exalted Order of the Black Eagle, the highest honor in the emperor's power.

Made First Ascension in U. S.

It was in the United States that Count Zeppelin made his first balloon ascension. It occurred while he was following Gen. Carl Schurz in the civil war as a military observer for the German army. A captive balloon, in use for military observations by Union troops, greatly interested the young German officer and he was taken up in it in 1863.

Scion of a wealthy family of ancient lineage, Count Zeppelin was born in Constance, Baden, in 1838. As a youth he was trained for a soldier's career. He fought through the Austro-Prussian and the Franco-Prussian wars, and is said to have been the first German soldier to cross the frontier into France in the last named conflict. Serving in the German cavalry for three decades, he rose to a rank of general at the age of forty-two. He retired ten years later, a distinguished soldier, to devote all his
time to the problem of aeronautics.

From a wealthy nobleman owning vast estates. Count Zeppelin was gradually reduced to an aristocratic mechanic living in an humble cottage on an allowance supplied by his friends. He met many narrow escapes from death, and disaster repeatedly overtook his airships.  These became so frequent that pert paragraphs began to appear in the German press in ridicule of his efforts.

Then in a day the tide turned. He electrified a skeptical world in 1908 by staying aloft for thirty-seven hours in the fifth airship he had built, and by sailing it in a straight course for a distance of nearly 900 miles. Emperor William, and all Germany in fact, hailed him as "the conqueror of the air."

Public Subscribed Fund.

This monster balloon, 465 feet long and of the rigid type and resembling a huge cigar, soon met with disaster as had its predecessors. Each wreck was a great financial loss, for Zeppelin's balloons were valued as high as $500,000 each. These disasters, however, also proved the affection in which the
German people held the aristocratic aviator. When one of his airships was torn from its moorings by a gale and wrecked, the public subscribed $1,000,000 to a fund, of which the crown prince was president, for the inventor.  The German emperor frequently helped him out of financial difficulties, and the German reichstag appropriated several hundred thousand marks for the purchase of his airships for the German army.

At the close of his remarkable career Count Zeppelin had retrieved a large part of the fortune ho spent in his conquest of the air. He trained his son, also an army officer, in the science of aeronautics and especially in his methods of building dirigible balloons.

He also made an accomplished aeroaut of his daughter, who has made more than a hundred flights in the airships her father fashioned.  In commemoration of Count Zeppelin, Friedrichshafen, the city from which most of his voyages began, has decided to establish a Zeppelin Museum.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Zeppelin Stories -- March 7, 2017

The cover of the April, 1929 Zeppelin Stories appears to show a Zeppelin attacking a city while fixed-wind airplanes attempt to intercept it.  Tomorrow is the 100th anniversary of the death of inventor Ferdinand von Zeppelin. 

Monday, March 6, 2017

Samuel F Cody 150 -- March 6, 2017

Samuel Franklin Cody (born Cowdery) was born 150 years ago today, on 06-March-1867.  Cody was an American emigree who built and flew British Army Aeroplane Number 1 in 1908. This shows him with his wife, Maud Maria Cody. She does not look comfortable.

Cody died while testing a floatplane of his own design on 07-August-1913. 

The image comes from a wonderful resource, all issues of Flight magazine from 1909 to 2005:

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Slid Through the Water Like an Arrow Let Loose -- March 5, 2017

San Francisco Call, 20-April-1899

The drawing is from the 15-March-1897 San Francisco Call. William A Coulter did many maritime drawings for the newspaper. Tug Fearless was built for John D Spreckels Brothers and Company by San Francisco's Union Iron Works.  The Spreckels company engaged in trade between the mainland United States and Hawaii. 

Friday, March 3, 2017

Reaching the Stars by Aeroplane -- March 3, 2017

Aerial Age Weekly, 24-April-1922

ONE of the dreams of the average movie fan is to gain an interview with his or her favorite star; to sit down in a quiet little corner and ask all the intimate questions he or she has wanted to for a long time. But, to the layman, most of the screen lights are harder to reach than a bank president during a Bolshevik riot. Only in exceptional cases does the admirer of the silver sheet get a chance to get in personal contact with the luminaries of the silent drama.

One of the surest ways, figuratively speaking, of getting the ear of a star, is to mention aeroplanes. Almost the entire movie colony in Hollywood is aeroplane struck. Directors, stars, scenario writers, authors and even cameramen are aviation enthusiasts, many of them being licensed pilots.

What may come as somewhat of a surprise to many movie fans is that Mary Miles Minter, one of the youngest and best known of the ingenues on the screen today, has qualified for a license as pilot. Miss Minter successfully passed the test over a year ago but parental objection has prevented her from taking advantage of her pilot's card. She is not permitted to ascend with the controls in her own hands.

Cecil B. DeMille, director-general of the Famous Players-Lasky Corporation, is one of the pioneers of aviation in the motion picture center of the world. Mr. DeMille, for a long time, was part owner of a passenger aeroplane company which made regular trips from Hollywood to nearby cities. He is also one of the most prominent figures in aviation on the coast and often takes his "bus" out for a few dips and tail spins in order to forget the cares of his office. Mr. DeMille asserts that there is. no better tonic in the world for "that tired feeling."

Dorothy Dalton, star in Paramount Pictures, is another ardent advocate of the "travel by aeroplane" slogan. Miss Dalton's specialty is hydroplaning, for she much prefers the water route than the solid earth below.

A more recent addition to the ranks of the flying stars is Betty Compson, the girl of "The Miracle Man" fame. Although kept extremely busy out on the coast Miss Compson manages to find an occasional hour or so every few days to devote to the thrills of flying. Miss Compson has yet to win her pilot's license but hopes to secure the coveted card before she is many months older.

But perhaps the most enthusiastic, for aviation, of the movie people on the coast is Jeanie Macpherson, scenario writer for Paramount Pictures. Miss Macpherson has been flying for at least three years and is one of the most prominent aviatrices in California. She numbers among her acquaintances many of America's leading aviators, and she has participated in more "stunt" and "circus" flying than any other person connected with the motion pictures who is not paid for risking his or her neck. She has made a number of trips with Ormi Locklear, world famous "stunt" man, from whom she learned many of the finer points of the art of flying. The news of Locklear's tragic death some time ago came as a genuine shock to her. Speaking of Locklear, Miss Macpherson said, "Ormi Locklear was, to my mind, a natural flyer. His judgment in the matter of height, and in that of keeping the plane level, was uncanny. I remember one trip I took with him out on the coast in which he took me out to sea. We unexpectedly ran into a dense fog. I was frightened to death, as we could hardly see each other, but Locklear, without even bothering to consult his instruments, kept right on going, and when he thought we had gone far enough he turned his machine and headed back again.

"If I had had the machine there is no doubt that I would have been flying for Canada, Mexico or the open sea, but in a short time we were out of the mist and to my great surprise, and greater relief, found that we were headed straight for our own landing place. I believe Locklear, with that sixth sense of his, could fly his 'boat' in the dead of night, without a light to guide him, and get through safely. That's why I can't understand some of the reports which were circulated about Locklear losing control of his machine on a difficult loop."

Eddie Rickenbackcr, America's famous ace, is another close friend of Miss Macpherson's. In fact, Rickenbacker was Miss Macpherson's tutor at one time.

The writer knows of a little incident that shows Miss Macpherson's love for flying. Some time ago Miss Macpherson came East preparatory to sailing for Europe for a well deserved vacation. As is the case with all motion picture celebrities of the motion picture world, a great deal of Miss Macpherson's time during her short stay in New York City was taken up by interviewers from newspapers and magazines. One interviewer, who had been in the flying corps overseas, had been pumping Miss Macpherson on the cut and dried subject of scenario writing. The conversation was lagging when the gentleman in question suddenly looked at his watch and mentioned the fact that he would have to leave as he had an appointment with some one at the Aero Club. That proved to be the opening wedge for a conversation that lasted far beyond Miss Macpherson's dinner hour and incidentally, long past the time set for the appointment at the Aero Club. Needless to say, the subject discussed was aeroplanes and, much to the surprise of the ex-service man, Miss Macpherson spoke fluently upon the respective merits of aeroplane motors of foreign and domestic make. The writer can testify to the above fact, for he had to sit through many weary—-to him—-minutes of technical descriptions of the Hipsano Suiza, Liberty, etc. Than which, to the layman, there is nothing more complex.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Killed the First Day of the Somme -- Henry Field -- March 1, 2017

On 01-July-2016, I missed the opportunity to mark the 100th anniversary of the first day of the Battle of the Somme.  More British soldiers died on that day than on any other day in history.  I thought to make up for it, I would write about some of the poets who died that day.  There were a lot.

I can't find much information about Henry Field.

The image is from the movie The Battle of the Somme.

Above the shot-blown trench he stands,
Tall and thin against the sky;
His thin white face, and thin white hands,
Are the signs his people know him by.
His soldier’s coat is silver barred
And on his head the well-known crest.
Above the shot-blown trench he stands,
The bright escutcheon on his breast,
And traced in silver bone for bone
The likeness of a skeleton.