Tag Archives: California

The Pony Express: First Mail Delivery Across the Untamed West

Pony Express Advertisement

Pony Express Advertisement

Fun Facts About the Pony Express

Purpose:

To provide the fastest mail delivery between St. Joseph, Missouri, and Sacramento, California. To draw public attention to the central route in hope of gaining the million dollar government mail contract for the Central Overland California and Pikes Peak Express Company.

Date:

April 3, 1860 to late October 1861.

Mechanics:

Relay of mail by horses and riders. The Pony Express ran day and night, summer and winter.

Riders:

183 men are known to have ridden for the Pony Express during its operation of just over 18 months.

Rider Qualifications:

Ad in California newspaper read: “Wanted. Young, skinny, wiry fellows. Not over 18. Must be expert riders. Willing to risk death daily. Orphans preferred.” Most riders were around 20. Youngest was 11. Oldest was mid-40s. Not many were orphans. Usually weighed around 120 pounds.

Riders Pay

$100 per month.

First Riders:

Johnny Fry was first westbound rider from St. Joseph. Billy Hamilton was first eastbound driver from Sacramento.

Rider Relay:

New riders took over every 75 to 100 miles.

Horse Relay:

Riders got a fresh horse every 10 to 15 miles.

Speed:

Horses traveled an average of 10 miles per hour.

Horses:

400 horses purchased to stock the Pony Express route. Thoroughbreds, mustangs, pintos, and Morgans were often used.

Stations:

Approximately 165 stations.

Trail Length:

Almost 2,000 miles.

Route:

St. Joseph, Missouri to Sacramento, California. Through the present day states of Kansas, Nebraska, northeast corner of Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, Nevada, and California.

Departure:

Once a week from April 3 to mid-June 1860. Twice a week from mid-June to late October 1861. Departures were from both the east and the west.

Schedule:

10 days in summer. 12 to 16 days in winter.

Fastest Delivery:

7 days and 17 hours between telegraph lines. Lincoln’s Inaugural Address.

Longest Drive:

Pony Bob Haslam rode 370 miles (Friday’s station to Smith Creek and back. This is in present-day Nevada.)

Cost of Mail:

$5.00 per 1/2 ounce at the beginning. By the end of the Pony Express, the price had dropped to $1.00 per 1/2 ounce.

Founders:

William Russell, Alexander Majors, and William Waddell. The company was the Central Overland California and Pikes Peak Express Company. The Pony Express was a subsidiary of the famous freight and stage company.

Other Mail Routes:

Water route from New York to San Francisco and across Panama by pack mule. Southern or Butterfield route from St. Louis and Memphis to El Paso to Los Angeles to San Francisco.

Telegraph Completed:

October 24, 1861. Official end of the Pony Express.

Failures:

Financially, the owners spent $700,000 on the Pony Express and had a $200,000 deficit. The company failed to get the million dollar government contract because of political pressures and the outbreak of the Civil War.

Successes:

Improved communication between east and west. Proved the central route could be traveled all winter. Supported the central route for the transcontinental railroad. Kept communication open to California at the beginning of the Civil War. Provided the fastest communication between east and west until the telegraph. Captured the hearts and the imagination of people all over the world.

Folklore:

One mochila lost and one rider killed. Location, date and names have not been verified. [Mochila is Spanish for the leather saddlebag with four locked pouches.]

 

Special thanks to AmericanWest.com

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Historical Events & Figures

Bob Dylan: Visionary musician and lyricist; voice of a generation

Bob Dylan, born Robert Allen Zimmerman

Bob Dylan, born Robert Allen Zimmerman, 1941

Fun Facts About Bob Dylan

  • Young Bob DylanMost reference books list Robert Allen Zimmerman’s birth date as May 24, 1941. But a passport issued to Robert Dylan in 1974 says his birth date is May 11, 1941.
  • Robert Allen Zimmerman received a D-plus in a music-appreciation class at the University of Minnesota.
  • Bob didn’t care to speak to other musicians, other than talking about stuff related to music and what they were recording or playing at the time. He would speak to people he knew, but wasn’t really interested in becoming “friends” with the musicians he met…apart from a few guys that became close to him like George Harrison.
  • In 1970 Dylan received an honorary doctorate of music from Princeton University.
  • Dylan’s reputation has long been larger than his record sales. His best-selling album is “Greatest Hits” (1967), which has been certified double-platinum, meaning it has sold between 2 million and 3 million copies. Runner-up is “Greatest Hits – Vol. II” (1971), a million-seller; Columbia Records doesn’t release sales figures, but a representative said “Vol. II” is nearing double-platinum. The next bestsellers are “Desire” (’76) and “Blood on the Tracks” (’75), both of which have achieved platinum status.
  • Bob had a rule that he only ever recorded music at night, he would show up to the studio around 9pm and work until the early hours of morning…always. Occasionally his band would record music pieces during the day and try to get Bob to listen to it, Bob would say “I don’t even wanna hear it if it was recorded during the day”
  • None of Dylan’s singles has ever reached No. 1 on Billboard’s pop chart. “Like a Rolling Stone” (1965) peaked at No. 2, as did “Rainy Day Women #12 & 35” (’66).
  • Bob DylanThe Byrds flew to No. 1 in ’65 with a version of Dylan’s “Mr. Tambourine Man.”
  • “Blowin’ in the Wind” is the only Dylan tune to hit the Top 10 twice – in 1963 by Peter, Paul & Mary, when it carried to No. 2, and in ’66, when Stevie Wonder took it to No. 9.
  • Under his senior photo in the Hibbing High School yearbook, Zimmerman said he wanted “to join Little Richard.”
  • In the summer of 1959 Zimmerman played piano in Bobby Vee’s band – for two gigs.
  • Dylan’s harmonica is heard on records by Harry Belafonte, George Harrison, Steve Goodman, Roger McGuinn, Booker T. and Priscilla Jones, Doug Sahm, Carolyn Hester, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott and Sly & Robbie.
  • Among the pseudonyms Dylan has used when appearing on others’ records have been Blind Boy Grunt, Tedham Porterhouse, Robert Milkwood Thomas, Roosevelt Gook and Bob Landy.
  • The Minnesota Historical Society lists 97 Dylan items in its reference library. Included are a 1987 Ph.D. thesis by a Purdue University student, five fanzines, 17 books and articles published in Germany, one children’s book, and Dylan’s original, hand-written lyric sheet for “Temporary Like Achilles,” a 1966 song on “Blonde on Blonde.” The Historical Society bought it from a collector in 1988. The most interesting title in the society’s collection is “Mysteriously Saved: An Astrological Investigation into Bob Dylan’s Conversion to American Fundamentalism” by John Ledbury. Bob Spitz’s 1989 tome, “Dylan,” is the biggest item, at 639 pages.
  • Little Sandy Review, a mimeographed Twin Cities rag about folk music published in the late ’50s and early ’60s, was the first source to reveal that Zimmerman had invented Dylan. Little Sandy editor Paul Nelson later became a key editor at Rolling Stone.
  • Bob Dylan

    Dylan adapted “Blowin’ in the Wind” from a spiritual, “No More Auction Block,” which is also known as “Many Thousands Gone.”

  • Dylan was scheduled to appear on “The Ed Sullivan Show” on May 12, 1963, with Irving Berlin, Al Hirt, Rip Taylor, Teresa Brewer, Myron Cohen and Topo Gigio, the Italian mouse. Dylan was going to sing “Blowin’ in the Wind” and “Talkin’ John Birch Paranoid Blues.” During the dress rehearsal, he was told that “John Birch” was deemed too controversial by network censors, and program producer Bob Precht, whose idea it was to invite Dylan on the show, asked him to sing another song. Dylan declined and did not appear.
  • “Talkin’ John Birch Paranoid Blues” was scheduled to be included on Dylan ‘s second album, “The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan.” Columbia Records got paranoid, recalled the album and removed the song.
  • On June 7, 1969, Dylan sang “I Threw It All Away” and “Living the Blues” on Johnny Cash’s TV program. They sang a duet on “Girl from the North Country.”
  • Bob asked his music engineer to get him a 1966 Harley Davidson Shovelhead. Bobs engineer Mark Howard got him the bike and watched Bob ride away on it, but heard him stall the bike just around the corner and went to see if he needed any help. He found Dylan sitting on the bike staring straight ahead with 3 people hanging around the front of the bike asking for his autograph…Dylan just sat there like he did not even see them, he then proceeded to start the bike again and ride off without acknowledging the 3 fans. Bob liked to ride his bike with no helmet and told Howard that “The police are really friendly around here…they are all waving at me” Howard told him that they were waving at him because he had no helmet on and wanted him to stop!!
  • Dylan’s first major U.S. TV appearance was on “The Steve Allen Show” in early ’64.
  • In August 1969 Dylan made his first paid public performance since July 26, 1966, when he broke his neck in the crash of his Triumph 500 motorcycle. Backed by the Band, he performed in front of 200,000 people at England’s Isle of Wight festival. He was paid $75,000 for a 70-minute performance.
  • Dylan flew his parents, Abe and Beatty Zimmerman, to New York to see him perform at Carnegie Hall on Oct. 12, 1963.
  • Dylan married Sara Lownds in an impromptu private ceremony Nov. 22, 1965, in a judge’s chamber in Mineola, N.Y. Two days later the singer told an interviewer from the Chicago Daily News, “I don’t hope to be like anybody. Getting married, having a bunch of kids, I have no hopes for it.” Dylan’s marriage was not announced until February 1966.
  • Bob DylanSara Dylan received custody of the couple’s four children in their 1977 divorce. A fifth child, Sara’s daughter Maria Dylan, is married to singer-songwriter Peter Himmelman, formerly of St. Louis Park.
  • When Dylan accepted his Grammy for “Lifetime Achievement” in February, he said, “Well, my daddy didn’t leave me too much . . . he was a very simple man.” He shifted anxiously. “But he did say, `Son . . . it’s possible to be so defiled in this world that your own mother and father will abandon you. And if this happens, God will always believe in your own ability to mend your ways.'”
  • Since around 1975 Bob has only ever included 10 or less songs on his albums (not including “best of” or “compilation” albums) regardless of whether or not he had more than 10 songs in the pipeline at the time. On his album “Oh Mercy” the producers tried to get Dylan to include an eleventh song “Series Of Dreams” Bob replied with “Y’know what..I only put 10 songs on my albums” the producers tried again, saying that the song was so great it simply had to go onto the album…Bob replied again “nah nah, I’m only puttin 10 songs on there”…end of story!!
  • Dylan won his first Grammy in 1980 for best rock vocal performance for the religious-oriented “Gotta Serve Somebody.” “Slow Train Coming,” the album on which the song appeared, was named best inspirational album at the Dove Awards, which recognize gospel recordings.
  • While attending the University of Minnesota in 1959 and ’60 Zimmerman lived at the Sigma Alpha Mu fraternity house on University Av. and later above Gray’s Campus Drug in Dinkytown. He performed at the Ten O’Clock Scholar coffeehouse, where the Dinkytown Burger King now stands.
  • Whenever Bob was out and about he almost always wore a hoody, whether for anonymity or not, who knows. One day a drummer that was brought in to play with Bob’s band asked one of the engineers “Where the F**k is Bob Dylan” the engineer proceeded to say “he’s sitting right next to you” Bob just looked up in his hoodie, raised his eyebrows and continued writing lyrics!!
  • Dylan’s quasi-autobiographical 1977 movie, “Renaldo & Clara,” was three hours and 57 minutes long. He portrayed Renaldo, while musician Ronnie Hawkins played a character named Bob Dylan. The film included 47 songs.
  • After taking a shellacking from critics, the movie was edited to about 90 minutes.
  • Bob DylanDylan’s first two movies were documentaries – “Don’t Look Back,” a look at his 1965 British tour, was released in ’67, but did not receive widespread distribution until ’75; “Eat This Document,” which was shot in ’66 for an ABC-TV special, was screened as a movie in ’71.
  • Dylan is the author of two books. “Tarantula,” which was rejected by Macmillan and Co. in 1965, was bootlegged in ’70 and officially published in ’71. “Writing and Drawings by Bob Dylan” was published in ’73; it features 187 song lyrics, 17 drawings, 26 poems and five pages of manuscript.
  • Dylan phoned critic Robert Shelton of the New York Times to invite Shelton to review his performance Sept. 26, 1961, at Gerde’s Folk City, opening for the Greenbriar Boys. It was considered audacious for an artist to ask a critic for a review – especially one from the Times. Dylan hoodwinked Shelton during an interview; among other things, Dylan said that when he was 13, he ran away and joined the circus and that he had recorded with Gene Vincent in Nashville, Tenn. Shelton’s rave review launched Dylan’s career.
  • In 1961, after rave reviews on the New York coffeehouse circuit, Dylan signed a three-year deal with Witmark & Sons to publish his songs. In three years Dylan wrote 237 songs for Witmark, including “Blowin’ in the Wind,” “A Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall,” “Masters of War,” “With God on Our Side,” “It Ain’t Me Babe,” “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right,” “Only a Pawn in Their Game” and “Mr. Tambourine Man.”
  • Dylan was a contributing editor to “Broadside,” the folk-music magazine.
  • Judson Manning, the Time magazine correspondent belittled in “Ballad of a Thin Man” (“Because something is happening here/But you don’t know what it is/ Do you, Mr. Jones?”), interviewed not only Dylan, but also Adolf Hitler.
  • Bob DylanThree Dylan songs begin with nearly the same line, “Early in the mornin’. . . .” The songs are “Obviously Five Believers,” “Pledging My Time” and “Tangled Up in Blue” (which actually starts “Early one mornin’ . . . “).
  • Although they never received credit on the liner notes (which had already been printed), a handful of Minnesota musicians appeared on a few tunes on “Blood on the Tracks” that were rerecorded at Sound 80 in Minneapolis in December 1974. The players included drummer Bill Berg, bassist Billy Peterson, fiddler-mandolinist Peter Ostroushko, keyboardist Gregg Inhofer and guitarists Kevin Odegard and Chris Weber.
  • Dylan introduced the Beatles to marijuana in August 1964 at the Delmonico Hotel in New York.
  • Columbia Records hired Bob Johnston to produce Dylan’s “Highway 61 Revisited” sessions in Nashville as a reward for having returned Patti Page, a Columbia stalwart, to the charts with “Hush Hush, Sweet Charlotte.”
  • Louis Kemp, Dylan’s childhood friend, was hired as a staff member on Dylan’s Rolling Thunder Revue in 1975. He now runs Louis Kemp Seafood Co.
  • In 1967, while recuperating from his motorcycle accident in Woodstock, N.Y., Dylan signed with MGM Records, home of the Righteous Brothers, the Lovin’ Spoonful, Connie Francis and the late Hank Williams. MGM withdrew the contract on a technicality, and Dylan signed with Columbia.
  • When Dylan was wooed to Asylum Records in 1973, Columbia put out “Dylan ” to spite him. The album of outtakes includes versions of Joni Mitchell’s “Big Yellow Taxi” and Jerry Jeff Walker’s “Mr. Bojangles.”
  • Bob DylanAfter seeing Tiny Tim perform Dylan’s “Positively Fourth Street” in California, Dylan summoned the fey singer to Woodstock in 1967. For Dylan, Tiny Tim did an impression of Rudy Vallee singing “Like a Rolling Stone” and an impression of Dylan singing Vallee’s “There’s No Time Like Your Time.”
  • Bob always carried around a rolled-up bundle of paper with lyrics that he was working on, it was always written in pencil, and he was totally fanatical about his words. Bob would even be writing down new lyrics during recording sessions…adding, deleting and taking out words. He would have a piece of paper with thousands of lyrics written down, most of which was mainly illegible to other readers, words going upside down, sideways and all over the page. His crew hardly ever seen him eat, but he was always drinking coffee, smoking cigarettes and hacking away at his lyrics. Dylan told his pianist he had been working on some of his songs for five or six years, trying to get them the way he wanted them…perfect!!
  • Among the duets Dylan has recorded for other artists’ albums are “Buckets of Rain” with Bette Midler, “Sign Language” with Eric Clapton and “Don’t Go Home with Your Hard-on” with Leonard Cohen.
  • The first time Dylan plugged in and played electric guitar at the Newport Folk Festival in 1965, he was accompanied by members of the Paul Butterfield Blues Band. Later that summer, at Forest Hills Stadium, Dylan rocked with, among others, two members of the Band, Robbie Robertson and Levon Helm.
  • The Zimmerman family home at 2524 7th Av. E. in Hibbing was sold in August 1990 for $50,000. It had been on the market for about nine months. Its previous owner, who reportedly bought it from the Zimmerman family, sold many items to a Dylan collector.
  • Imprisoned boxer Ruben (Hurricane) Carter wasn’t the only prizefighter about whom Dylan sang. In 1963 Davey Moore was knocked out by Sugar Ramos and died two days later; 18 days later Dylan began singing “Who Killed Davey Moore?” The tune never appeared on record until this year’s “Bootleg Series.” Meanwhile, “Hurricane,” about the boxer who was jailed on murder charges and later exonerated, was a modest hit in ’76.
  • Bob DylanHundreds of singers have recorded Dylan tunes. Otis Redding recorded “Just Like a Woman,” but decided not to release his version because he couldn’t get past the line, “with her fog, her amphetamine and her pearls.”
  • Dylan and John Lennon once wrote and recorded a song together while Dylan was on tour in England. “I don’t remember what it was, though,” Dylan said. “We played some stuff into a tape recorder, but I don’t know what happened to it. I don’t remember anything about the song.”
  • Bob never ever played the same song exactly the same. Whether he was just jamming, or recording, he would play the song in a different key, using different phrasing, or a different tempo…..this would often totally confuse other musicians in his band. Bob Dylan hated to repeat himself…ever!!
  • Since moving from Minneapolis to New York in 1960, Dylan has performed only five times in the Twin Cities – 1965 (at the Minneapolis Auditorium), ’78 (St. Paul Civic Center), ’86 (Metrodome), ’89 (RiverFest at Harriet Island) and ’90 (Minnesota State Fair).
  • “Bob Dylan,” his first album, was recorded in a few hours at a cost of $402. Initially it sold 5,000 copies. Since then more than 35 million Dylan records have been sold.
  • Dylan was the first big-name rock figure from the ’60s to turn 50 as of May, 1991.
  • There has never been an official video made by Bob Dylan for “Like a Rolling Stone”, although there is currently a contest on YouTube for fans to make one. 

VIDEO:  Bob Dylan – Blowin’ in the Wind

 

VIDEO:  Bob Dylan – Subterranean Homesick Blues

VIDEO:  Bob Dylan – Like a Rolling  Stone

 

Special thanks to www.startribune.com and bite-dose.com

 

 

2 Comments

Filed under Entertainment, Music, Television

Donuts: International sweet treats and a multi-billion-dollar industry

Donuts

 Fun Facts About Donuts

Although controversial, who traditionally is known for importing doughnuts to America, around 1847? 

    Dutch settlers. The donut (or “doughnut”) is a deep-fried piece of dough or batter. It comes from the Dutch origin of olykoeck or “oily cake”. The two most common types of donuts are the flattened sphere (you know…the ones that are injected with jelly or custard) and the ring donut.

Which company is the world’s largest coffee and baked goods chain?

    Dunkin’ Donuts. Internationally, Dunkin’ Donuts has over 1700 locations in 29 countries and over 6,000 stores in 30 countries world-wide! In the U.S. there are over 4,400 locations across 36 states.

Which company, founded in 1937 proudly boasts the slogan, “Hot Original Glazed”? 

    Krispy Kreme. Krispy Kreme is probably best known for their fresh, hot, glazed, yeast-raised doughnuts. The company’s “Hot Doughnuts Now” flashing sign is an integral part of the brand’s appeal and fame.

Which Entenmann’s doughnut is the company’s top seller in 2005?

    Rich Frosted Chocolate Dipped. Introduced in 1972, the Rich Frosted Chocolate Dipped doughnut has become a favorite among consumers. More than 168 million pounds of chocolate has been used to produce the doughnuts. Image how many swimming pools you could fill with that amount of chocolate!

Which is NOT one of Dunkin’ Donuts top selling donuts as of 2005?

    Coconut Crunch. Jelly-filled and Chocolate frosted also rank as their top sellers. Coconut Crunch, although not a number one seller, still remains one of the over 52 varieties of donuts the chain produces on a yearly basis.

Which chain produced the world’s largest edible doughnut in 1998?

    Winchell’s House of Donuts. You may also know Winchell’s by its other name, “Home of the Fresh ‘n Warm Donut” The store located in Pasadena, CA, created a gigantic version of their apple fritter doughnut. It weighed 5000 pounds and stood 95 feet in diameter!

What is the name given to the popular Polish doughnut, which is now being marketed in many U.S. grocery stores today?

    Paczki. The others are also types of doughnuts from other regions around the world. The popular deep-fried Paczki’s are usually filled with jams such as raspberry, strawberry, lemon ,and prune. They are pronounced (poonch-key) and have deep roots in Polish heritage and history.

According to an article published by Restaurant.org in 2002, what is the estimated number of doughnuts that Americans consume annually?

    10 billion. It really is too big of a number when you consider that as of 1997, there were 6,792 doughnut shops in the U.S. alone. In 2005, one can only imagine that the number of doughnut shops has increased dramatically. Unfortunately, 1997 was the last year that all overall statistics and data is available on this subject (or at least that I can find!).

According to a 2004 report by USA Today, doughnut sales increased 9% in 2003. According to the same article, how much is the U.S. doughnut industry worth?

    $3.6 billion. USA Today also reports that the three fastest-growing chains in the U.S. are (in order) Dunkin’ Donuts, Krispy Kreme, and Tim Horton’s.

Nationally, what is Randy’s Donuts best known for?

    Big Donut Drive-In. Randy’s Donuts is a landmark in Inglewood, CA. The 22 foot diameter donut on top of the building was built in 1952. The giant donut has been featured in many TV shows as well as many popular movies, such as “Mars Attacks” and “Coming to America”.
Special thanks to  www.funtrivia.com

Leave a comment

Filed under Food, Movies, Television

Allan Sherman: Writer, producer, singer and brilliant comic parodist

Allan Sherman, Nov 30, 1924 - Nov 20, 1973

Allan Sherman, Nov 30, 1924 - Nov 20, 1973

 

Fun Facts About Allan Sherman

Birth and Death: November 30, 1924 – November 20, 1973

Most known for: An American comedy writer who became famous as a song parodist in the early 1960s.

First album: My Son, the Folk Singer (1962). It became the fastest-selling record album up to that time.

Biggest hit: Sherman’s biggest hit single was “Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh”, a comic novelty in which a boy describes his summer camp experiences to the tune of Ponchielli’s Dance of the Hours.

Allan Copelon?: Sherman took his mother’s maiden name after being abandoned in childhood by his father, Percy Copelon, a stock car racer, mechanic, and inventor. Much later, Copelon offered to pay for Sherman’s education if he would re-take the family name, but when no support was forthcoming, the young man became Allan Sherman once again.

TV Show Writer and Producer: Sherman created a game show, which he called “I Know a Secret.” TV producer Mark Goodson used Sherman’s idea and turned it into I’ve Got a Secret, which ran on CBS from 1952 to 1967. Rather than paying him for the concept, Mark Goodson-Bill Todman Productions made Sherman the show’s producer. Sherman was reported to be warm and kindhearted to all who worked for him. But sparks often flew between Sherman and anyone who was in a position to try to restrain his creativity.

As producer of I’ve Got a Secret, which was broadcast live, he showed a fondness for large scale stunts that had the potential to teeter on the brink of disaster. He once released 100 bunny rabbits onstage as an Easter surprise for the Madison Square Boys Club, whose members were seated in the studio. The boys were invited to come up onstage to collect their prize. Although the resultant melee made a good story, it did not necessarily make for good TV. The relationship between Mark Goodson-Bill Todman and Sherman became strained to the breaking point when he finally fought to execute an idea that was destined to fall flat. His plan was to have Tony Curtis teach the panel how to play some of the games he had played as a child growing up in New York City. The problems manifested themselves when it became obvious that Tony Curtis had never actually played any of the games that Sherman had brought the props for. The situation might have been salvaged had the props worked as planned, but they did not. The handkerchief parachute failed to open and land gracefully and the pool “tank” which was propelled by rubber band moved painfully slowly. The spot, which aired June 11, 1958, was a disaster and Sherman was fired as producer. His dismissal did not, however, prevent Mark Goodson-Bill Todman from bringing Sherman back many times as a guest on their shows in subsequent years after he achieved celebrity status following the release of his albums.

Sherman also produced a short-lived 1954 game show, What’s Going On? which was technologically ambitious, with studio guests interacting with multiple live cameras in remote locations. In 1961 he produced a daytime game show for Al Singer Productions called Your Surprise Package which aired on CBS with host George Fenneman.

My Son, The Folk Singer: Sherman lived in the Brentwood section of West Los Angeles next door to Harpo Marx, who invited him to perform his song parodies at parties attended by Marx’s show-biz friends. After one party, George Burns phoned a record executive and persuaded him to sign Sherman to a contract. The result was a long playing album of these parodies, entitled My Son, the Folk Singer, which was released in 1962. It sold over one million copies, and was awarded a gold disc.

My Son, The Celebrity: My Son, the Folk Singer was so successful that it was quickly followed by My Son, the Celebrity, which ended with “Shticks of One and Half a Dozen of the Other,” fragments of song parodies including Robert Burns’: “Dinna make a stingy sandwich, pile the cold cuts high;/Customers should see salami comin’ thru the rye.”

Success with Top 40 Hit: In 1963’s My Son, The Nut, Sherman’s pointed parodies of classical and popular tunes dealt with automation in the workforce (“Automation,” to the tune of “Fascination”), space travel (“Eight Foot Two, Solid Blue,” to “Five Foot Two, Eyes of Blue”), the exodus from the city to the suburbs (“Here’s to the Crabgrass,” to the tune of “English Country Garden”), and his own bloated figure (“Hail to Thee, Fat Person,” which perhaps only half-jokingly blames his obesity on the Marshall Plan).

One track from My Son, The Nut, a spoof of summer camp entitled “Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh,” became a surprise novelty hit, reaching #2 on the national Billboard Hot 100 chart for three weeks in late 1963. The lyrics were sung to the tune of one segment of Ponchielli’s “Dance of the Hours”, familiar to the public because of its use in the Walt Disney film Fantasia. That December, Sherman’s “The Twelve Gifts of Christmas” single appeared on Billboard’s separate Christmas chart. Sherman had one other Top 40 hit, a 1965 take-off on the Petula Clark hit “Downtown” called “Crazy Downtown”, which spent one week at #40. Two other Sherman singles charted in the lower regions of the Billboard 100: an updated “Hello Mudduh, Hello Fadduh” (#59 in 1964), and “The Drinking Man’s Diet” (#98 in 1965). He “Bubbled Under” with “The End Of A Symphony”, reaching #113 in 1964, spotlighting Arthur Fiedler’s Boston Pops Orchestra.

Decline in Popularity: Sherman’s career success was short-lived: after peaking in 1963, his popularity declined rather quickly. After the JFK assassination, impersonator Vaughn Meader vowed to never again do a Kennedy impression, and perhaps because of this ominous shadow – Meader was a very popular parody impressionist of the day – and the resulting reluctance to book such acts, the public saw less of Sherman’s type of comedy. By 1965, Sherman had released two albums that did not make the Top 50 and in 1966, Warner Brothers dropped him from the label. His last album for the company, Togetherness, was released in 1967 to poor reviews and poorer sales. All of Sherman’s previous releases had been recorded in front of a live studio audience – or in the case of Live, Hoping You Are The Same, recorded during a Las Vegas performance – but Togetherness was not, and the lack of an audience and their response affected the result, as did the nondescript backup singers and studio orchestra.

On and Off Broadway: In 1969, Sherman wrote the script and lyrics – but not the music, which was written by Albert Hague – for The Fig Leaves Are Falling, a flop Broadway musical that lasted only four performances in 1969, despite direction by George Abbott and a cast that included Barry Nelson, Dorothy Loudon and David Cassidy. Still creative, in 1973 Sherman published the controversial The Rape of the A*P*E*, which detailed his point of view on American Puritanism and the sexual revolution.

With Dr. Suess: In 1971, Sherman was the voice of Dr. Seuss’s “The Cat in the Hat” for the television special. He also did voice work for Dr. Seuss on the Loose, his last project before his death.

Death: Late in his life, Sherman drank and ate heavily, which resulted in a dangerous weight gain; he later developed diabetes and struggled with lung disease. In 1966, his wife Dee filed for divorce, and received full custody of their son and daughter.

Sherman lived on unemployment for a time and moved into the Motion Picture Home, near Calabasas, California for a short time in order to lose weight. He died of emphysema at home in West Hollywood ten days before his 49th birthday. He is entombed in Culver City, California’s Hillside Memorial Park Cemetery.

Legacy: Sherman was the inspiration for a new generation of developing parodists such as “Weird Al” Yankovic, who pays homage to Sherman on the cover of his first LP. Sherman’s hit song, “Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh” has been translated into other languages. In one notable example, the Dutch-Swedish poet Cornelis Vreeswijk has translated the song into Swedish and adopted it as his own.

 

Video: Hello Muddah Hello Faddah (1963)

Bonus Video: Harvey and Sheila (1963)

 

Special thanks to www.mahalo.com and www.youtube.com

Leave a comment

Filed under Entertainment, Music, Television

The “Spruce Goose”: Howard Hughes’ Remarkable and Enigmatic Wooden Aircraft

The Hughes Flying Boat H-4 (HK-1) Hercules a.k.a. The "Spruce Goose"

The Hughes Flying Boat H-4 (HK-1) Hercules a.k.a. The "Spruce Goose"

Fun Facts About the Spruce Goose

Names: Hughes Flying Boat H-4 (HK-1) Hercules (“Spruce Goose”)

Description: The Hughes Flying Boat is a cargo-type seaplane designed to transport men and materials over long distances. This aircraft is of a single hull, eight-engine design, with a single vertical tail, fixed wing-tip floats, and full cantilever wing and tail surfaces. The entire airframe and surface structures are composed of laminated wood (primarily birch). All primary control surfaces except the flaps are fabric covered. The hull contains two areas: a flight deck for the operating crew and a large cargo deck. A circular stairway provides access between the two decks. Below the cargo deck are fuel bays divided by watertight bulkheads.

Largest wingspan: 319 feet, 11 inches with a wing area that covers 11,430 square feet
Features full cantilever wing and tail surfaces.

Tallest aircraft: 79 feet, 3 3/8 inches

Length: 218 fee 6 ¼ inches

Record setting: Largest seaplane and largest wooden aircraft: the entire airframe is composed of laminated wood. Primary control surfaces, except the flaps, are fabric-covered. The most reciprocating horsepower ever installed in an aircraft.

Power: Eight Pratt & Whitney R-4360, 3,000 horsepower engines

Propellers: Eight, 17 feet, 2 inch diameter

Weight, Empty:
 300,000 pounds

Weight, Loaded:
 400,000 pounds (maximum take-off weight)

Capacity: 750 troops or two Sherman tanks

Normal Crew:
 18

First And Only Flight:
 November 2, 1947

Howard Hughes in the cockpit of the Spruce Goose

Howard Hughes in the cockpit of the Spruce Goose

Why built: In July 1942, the world was at war. America had just lost 800,000 tons of her supply ships to German U-boats. Henry Kaiser, famed industrialist and builder of “Liberty” ships, proposed a fleet of flying transports to safely move troops and material across the Atlantic. Kaiser approached Howard Hughes with his idea. Together they formed the Hughes Kaiser Corporation and obtained an $18,000,000 government contract to construct three flying boats.

Hughes and his team of skilled engineers designed a single hull flying boat capable of carrying 750 troops. The plans called for eight 3,000 horsepower engines, a mammoth fuel storage and supply system, and wings 20 feet longer than a football field. They called the prototype aircraft the HK-1, standing for the Hughes Kaiser design number one.

Delays and Constraints: Encountering and dealing with tremendous design and engineering problems, the Hughes team developed new concepts for large-scale hulls, flying control surfaces, and complex power boost systems. Hughes engineers created the first “artificial feel system” in the control yoke, which gave the pilot the feeling he was flying a smaller aircraft, but with a force multiplied two hundred times. For example, for each pound of pressure exerted on the control yoke by the pilot, the elevator received 1,500 pounds of pressure to move it.

The H-4 now resides at the Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum in McMinnville, OR

The H-4 now resides at the Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum in McMinnville, OR

Adhering to the government mandate not to use materials critical to the war effort (such as steel and aluminum), the Hughes team constructed the Flying Boat out of wood. Hughes perfected a process called “Duramold” to create almost every part of the plane. Originally developed by Fairchild Aircraft Company, Howard Hughes purchased the rights to use Duramold in large aircraft. The Duramold process is a plywood-like series of thin wood laminations, with grains laid perpendicular to each other. Workers permeating the laminations with plastic glue, then they shaped and heated the pieces until cured. The result is a material that many engineers agree is both lighter and stronger than aluminum.

All of the research and development that went into the new seaplane delayed the construction process. In mid 1944, Henry Kaiser withdrew from the project, and Hughes took personal responsibility for all facets of the flying boat’s design and production. He renamed the gigantic seaplane H-4, representing his aircraft company’s fourth design.

After the war’s end in 1945, criticism of the project mounted. The Flying Boat prototype had exceeded the government’s funding allowance and the U.S. Senate formed an investigation committee to probe alleged misappropriation of funds. Hughes invested $7,000,000 of his own into the project to keep it going. While Hughes testified before the investigative committee in Washington, D.C., the Hughes team assembled the Flying Boat in the Long Beach dry dock. After his interrogation, Hughes was determined to demonstrate the capability of his Flying Boat. He returned to California and immediately ordered the seaplane readied for taxi tests.

Proof of Concept: On November 2, 1947, a crowd of expectant observers and newsmen gathered. With Hughes at the controls, the giant Flying Boat glided smoothly across a three-mile stretch of harbor. From 35 miles per hour, it cruised to 90 during the second taxi test when eager newsmen began filing their stories. During the third taxi test Hughes surprised everyone as he ordered the wing flaps lowered to 15 degrees and the seaplane lifted off the water. He flew her for a little over a mile at an altitude of 70 feet for approximately one minute. The short hop proved to skeptics that the gigantic craft could fly!

 

Special thanks to www.sprucegoose.org

Leave a comment

Filed under Historical Events & Figures, Science

“It’s a Wonderful Life”: Frank Capra’s Timeless Holiday Classic

"It's a Wonderful Life" Movie Poster

"It's a Wonderful Life" Movie Poster

Fun Facts About “It’s a Wonderful Life”

Classic Christmas flick It’s a Wonderful Life is played in countless homes around the world each holiday season. So before the family gathers around the television to enjoy this feel-good film this season, brush up on your trivia knowledge about George Bailey’s story to impress even your scroogiest family members.

  • “The Greatest Gift” was a short story written by Philip Van Doren Stern in 1943. It concerned a man named George Pratt who wished he never been born. A stranger meets George on a bridge grants him his wish. George gets to see what would have happened if he wasn’t around. He ends up selling a brush to his former wife and her new husband in this alternative universe. When Stern couldn’t get the story published, he self-published it as a 21 page Christmas card gift that he sent out to 200 friends. A Hollywood agent got a hold of the card and bought the rights. When attempts at creating a script failed, director Frank Capra took over the rights and the rest is history.
  • Despite the snowy setting, the movie was filmed in California where temperatures reached 90 degrees during filming. Jimmy Stewart can be seen sweating in some scenes.
  • Before “It’s A Wonderful Life,” film snow was actually corn flakes painted white. The problem was all that crunching. Films that used corn flake snow had to go back and dub in the dialogue. Frank Capra wanted to record the sound live so he asked his special effects department for some new snow. They came up with a combination of soap, water and foamite (stuffed used for fighting fires). This new snow formula proved so successful it actually won a technical award from the Academy.

  • The classic scene where George and Mary dance the Charleston and end up taking a dip was filmed at the Beverly Hills High School gymnasium which actually has its basketball court built over its swimming pool. The same set up was used in the Cary Grant from “The Bachelor and the Bobby Soxer.” The school also boosts such alumni as David Schwimmer, Lenny Kravitz and Jamie Lee Curtis.
  • George and Mary might not have taken their dunk during the high school dance had it not been for a little rascal, specifically Alfalfa. Carl Dean “Alfalfa” Switzer played the role of Freddie, Mary’s ill-fated date to the dance. Carl was 19 when he appeared in the film, but had his start in show business at the age of 8 when he appeared in the first Little Rascal short “Beginner’s Luck” in 1935.
  • Ginger Rogers turned down the role of “Mary” because she found the part to be “too bland.” When discussing the decision in her autobiography, Rogers asked her readers “Foolish, you say?”.

  • The Hotel Clarence in Seneca Falls, New York is named for George Bailey’s guardian angel.
  • Ma Bailey was played by Academy Award nominated actress Beulah Bondi. Turns out she played Jimmy Stewart’s mother in four other times in “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington,” “Of Human Hearts,” “Vivacious Lady,” and on the “Jimmy Stewart Television Show.”
  • The film was James Stewart’s first since returning from World War II where he flew missions over Germany.
  • Alfred Hitchcock was famous for making on-screen cameos in all of his movies. Jimmy the Crow was Frank Capra’s good luck charm. He first popped up in “You Can’t Take It With You” and made subsequent cameos in most of Capra’s film. In “It’s A Wonderful Life” Jimmy was one of Uncle Billy’s pets shown in the Bailey Building and Loan.
  • Despite being only referred to as “Mr. Potter,” the full name of Lionel Barrymore’s character is Henry F. Potter.

  • At one point in the film, an inebriated Uncle Billy bids good night to his nephew George then wanders off screen. A crash is heard and Uncle Billy cries out, “I’m alright.” That crash was a crew member accidentally dropping equipment during the take. Frank Capra decided to keep in the ad lib and paid the crew member an extra 10 bucks for “improving the sound.”
  • By Hollywood standards, the original released of “It’s A Wonderful Life” in 1946 was a box office disappointment. The film cost around 3.7 million to make, but only generated 3.3 million in its initial run. That would be considered a bomb in anyone’s record book. Then along came television and public domain. Looking for fill up programming hours during the holidays, local television stations got to broadcast “It’s A Wonderful Life” as many times as they wanted. This meant several dozen showings in one holiday season. The result is that folks fell in love with the classic and demanded it to be aired every Christmas. Today, NBC maintains the rights to the film and have managed to create their own traditions with multiple airings every December.

 

Special thanks to holykaw.alltop.com and www.toptenz.net

Leave a comment

Filed under Entertainment, Movies, Television