Phineas Taylor Barnum, 1810-1891
Fun Facts about P.T. Barnum
John O'Neill, of the Bethel Land Trust, stands near Ivy Island in Bethel, which was once owned by PT Barnum
Phineas Taylor Barnum was born in Bethel, Connecticut in 1810.
- Speaking of his youth, P. T. Barnum said, “I was always ready to concoct fun, or lay plans for moneymaking, but hard work was decidedly not in my line.” Indeed, he succeeded in making a great deal of money by working hard at having fun.
- When he was born, his grandfather deeded him a parcel of land known as lvy Island. The growing boy was constantly reminded of his property. When he was 10 years old, he went to visit his estate and discovered it to be “a worthless piece of barren land.”
- When Phineas was 15, his father died, leaving his widow and five children penniless. Phineas immediately became clerk in a country store, where he learned the fine art of Yankee trading. During the next 10 years he was a shop owner, director of lotteries, and newspaper publisher.
- When he was 19 he eloped with a local seamstress, Charity Hallett (who would remain his wife for 44 years and give him four daughters).
- At 22, as publisher of the Herald of Freedom, he was jailed for libelously accusing a deacon of usury; upon his release 60 days later, Barnum was met by a band and “a coach drawn by six horses” for a parade back to town.
Barnum's Advertisement for Joice Heth
He made his first sensation in 1835 when he met Joice Heth, a slave who claimed she was 161 years old (she was about 80) and had been the nurse of George Washington.
- Seeing Joice Heth’s possibilities as a human curiosity, Barnum purchased the right to exhibit her, along with the documents validating her age, and set her upon her couch in Niblo’s Garden in New York City. She was extremely popular, but when interest began to flag, a newspaper item appeared suggesting that Joice was not human at all but an “automaton” made of whalebone, indian rubber, and springs.
- Shortly after the article was published, the exhibition hall was full once more, for Barnum always knew how to use the news as well as the advertising sections of newspapers. Finally, upon her death in 1836, when an autopsy proved that Joice had been no more than 80 years old, Barnum was as surprised and indignant as anyone else. He had learned, however, that “the public appears disposed to be amused even when they are conscious of being deceived.”
- For the next four years Barnum was an itinerant showman in the West and South. By 1840 he was back in New York, poor, weary of travel, and without prospects.
The American Museum, New York City
When he heard that the struggling Scudder’s American Museum (with its collection of curiosities) was for sale, Barnum determined to buy it. “With what?” asked a friend. “Brass, ” Barnum replied, “for silver and gold I have none.” He mortgaged himself to the building’s owner, proposing for collateral good references, a determination to succeed, and a “valuable and sentimental” piece of property known as Ivy Island.
- In 1842 he opened the American Museum in New York City and immediately became famous for his extravagant advertising and his exhibits of freaks.
- By the end of 1842 the museum was his, and a year later he was out of debt.
- Barnum’s American Museum was to become the most famous showplace of the century. Here, in constantly changing and elaborately advertised parade, the public could see educated dogs and fleas, automatons, jugglers, ventriloquists, living statuary, albinos, obese men, bearded women, a great variety of singing and dancing acts, models of Paris and Jerusalem, dioramas of the Creation and the Deluge, glassblowing, knitting machines, African Americans performing a war dance, conjoined twins, flower and bird shows, whales, mermaids, virtuous melodramas such as The Drunkard, a menagerie of rare animals, and an aquarium—”all for twenty-five cents, children half price.”
The "Feejee Mermaid"
His Great Model of Niagara Falls with Real Water was actually 18 inches high; the Feejee Mermaid was really a monkey’s head and torso fused to a fish’s tail; the Woolly Horse of the Frozen Rockies had in truth been foaled in Indiana.
- Only half in jest did Barnum seek to buy Shakespeare’s birthplace, hire the Zulu leader who had recently ambushed a British force, and tow an iceberg into New York harbor. Altogether, the museum showed over 600, 000 exhibits during its existence.
- Among his great attractions were the aforementioned Feejee Mermaid, “General Tom Thumb,” who was viewed by over 20 million people, and the original Siamese Twins, Chang and Eng.
Barnum with General Tom Thumb
General Tom Thumb was Barnum’s greatest attraction. Charles S. Stratton, a native of Bridgeport, Conn., was 25 inches tall and weighed 15 pounds when he entered Barnum’s employ in 1842. When he died in 1883, at the age of 45, he had made millions of dollars and delighted international audiences.
- In the first of Barnum’s many European junkets the General entertained Queen Victoria, King Louis Philippe, and other royalty with his songs, dances, and impersonations in miniature. Of the 82 million tickets Barnum sold during his lifetime for various attractions, Tom Thumb sold over 20 million.
- In 1850, Barnum managed the American tour of the Swedish singer Jenny Lind and, with his talent for publicity, made it a huge financial success for her and for himself.
"Swedish Nightingale", Jennie Lind
The immensely profitable tour of this gracious “Swedish Nightingale” was prepared with ingenious public relations but conducted with dignity and generosity by Barnum. Its success initiated the vogue of European concert artists visiting the United States.
- In 1855 he retired from show business; he served as mayor of Bridgeport, Conn., and in the Connecticut legislature.
- In 1857 his famous house, Iranistan, fashioned after George IV’s Pavilion at Brighton, burned to the ground.
- The original museum burned in 1865, and new museums burned in 1868 and again in 1872.
- The showman’s greatest financial catastrophe had nothing to do with show business. For years he had cherished the dream of building a city out of the farmland of East Bridgeport—a benevolent endeavor, he thought. In order to attract business, he signed some notes guaranteeing the debts of the Jerome Clock Company. As a result, he lost all he owned. Thus, in 1855, at the age of 46, the great Barnum was bankrupt.
"The Art of Money Getting"
He worked his way back from bankruptcy, however, in part from successful lectures on “The Art of Money Getting, ” and by 1860 he was free of debt once more.
- Throughout his life Barnum was a political liberal, serving in the Connecticut Legislature in the late 1860s, where he diligently fought the railroad interests, and as mayor of Bridgeport in 1875-1876.
- A year after the death of his first wife, Charity, in 1873, Barnum married Nancy Fish, an English woman 40 years his junior.
- In April 1874 Barnum opened his Roman Hippodrome in New York; this was to grow into the great circus. While he did not invent the circus, an ancient form of entertainment, he made it a three-ring extravaganza the likes of which had never been seen before.
- In 1881 he merged with his most successful competitor, James A. Bailey, and under the name Barnum and Bailey the circus continued for a generation after Barnum’s death.
Advertisement for Jumbo
In what was described as “Barnum’s last great coup” he purchased Jumbo, the 61⁄2-ton African elephant (and largest elephant kept in captivity), from the London Zoo despite the furious protests of English elephant fanciers, including Queen Victoria.
- Violent objections by the English only made Jumbo and the circus that much more appealing.
- In 1882 the circus opened its season in Madison Square Garden, where it was to become an American institution; and everywhere the “big top” traveled, a “Barnum Day” was declared. Circling the arena in an open carriage as leader of the parade always brought roars of approval (and great satisfaction) to the aging genius.
- In 1887, the great circus in its winter quarters, with most of its menagerie, was lost to fire, yet it somehow managed to continue on.
- By 1891 Barnum’s body began to fail, though not his spirit. His child’s delight in the joke, the curious, and the splendid had set an entire nation to wondering and laughing and buying.
- A few weeks before his death, Barnum gave permission to the Evening Sun to print his obituary, so that he might have a chance to read it. On April 7 he asked about the box office receipts for the day; a few hours later, he was dead.
- His autobiography was published in 1855 and went through many editions.
- He also wrote Humbugs of the World (1865), Struggles and Triumphs (1869), and Money Getting (1883).
Special thanks to education.yahoo.com and www.encyclopedia.com
New York's Marquis Theater circa 2003
Fun Facts About New York’s Marquis Theater
Marquis Theater seating chart
Location, Location, Location:
1535 Broadway, New York, NY – the heart of Times Square at Broadway and 45th Street and within the New York Marriott Marquis Times Square.
Architect John Portman
Features: 1,611 seats, an expansive backstage, high ceilings, state-of-the-art acoustics, and wide aisles.
August 10, 1986
Shows Featured: Me and My Girl (1420 Performances), Gypsy, Man of La Mancha, The Goodbye Girl, Damn Yankees, Victor/Victoria, Peter Pan, Annie Get Your Gun,Thoroughly Modern Millie, The Drowsy Chaperone and Come Fly Away
“The Great Theater Massacre of 1982”: 5 famous Broadway theaters were demolished to make way for the hotel: the Helen Hayes, the Morosco, the Astor, the Bijou, and the Gaiety. Actor Christopher Reeve (then at the height of his Superman fame) joined with other protesters to stop the destruction, even forcing a Supreme Court challenge, but to no avail.
Actor Christopher Reeve
More controversy: The hotel in which the theater is located has been criticized for turning its back to Times Square. However, at the time the hotel was built, Times Square was only beginning to turn around. With the still-seedy character of Times Square, the architectural style of inwardly-oriented spaces made logical sense. The present redevelopment of Times Square as an urban destination point has left the Marriott Marquis detached from the street. However, the Marriott was the first major project in the Times Square revitalization, and has been credited as the starting point for today’s development node at Times Square.
Fun Facts About Chewing Gum
- An Ohio dentist, William Finley Semple was honored for this work using the first patent to manufacture chewing gum from December 1869. Main ingredients in Semple’s gum formula were charcoal and chalk.
- William Finley Semple, 1889 – 1969
- In 1869, Mexican General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna told his idea of chicle to Thomas Adams. Adams tried to make toys, masks, and rain boots out of chicle, but neither of his products were commercially successful. In 1869 he simply added flavor to the chicle! That was the first step for creating world’s first modern chewing gum! The first mass marketed chewing gum was called Adams New York Chewing Gum. In the 1870s, Adams & Sons sold “Sour Orange” flavored gum as an after dinner candy. In 1871 Thomas Adams patented a machine for the manufacture of gum. That year Adams created a licorice-flavored gum called Black Jack. However, all the these gums had one big problem, they could not hold flavor.
- The problem with holding flavor was not fixed until 1880, when William White combined sugar and corn syrup with chicle. For better taste he added peppermint extract. He found out, that peppermint stayed in the gum during chewing for much longer than other flavors. He called his first peppermint flavored gum Yucatan gum.
- Wrigley’s Doublemint Gum: a Wrigley/Fleer collaboration
In 1914 William Wrigley and Henry Fleer added mint and fruit extracts to a chewing gum with chicle. This is how Wrigley’s Doublemint, popular brand was created. The Wrigley Company was rapidly becoming an international success. Wrigley brands became known the world over. The first factories were established in United States and soon. Wrigley’s Doublemint factories were established in Canada (1910), Australia (1915), Great Britain (1927) and New Zealand (1939).
Fleer spinoff: Double Bubble
- In 1928, an accountant for the Fleer gum company Walter Diemer attempted to make a new rubber product, but he accidentally founded bubble gum, that was not sticky. He called it Double Bubble. Double Bubble this gum was based on original Frank Fleer formula.
- In 1951, the Topps Company reinvented the popularity of bubble gum by adding baseball cards to a package, replacing their previous gift of a single cigarette. Children and parents loved this.
- Some sources indicate that today there are 115 companies that are manufacturing chewing gum, located in 30 countries (41 of them in the United States only!). In many stores that sell chewing gum, you can find more than 30 different brands of it!
- More than 100,000 tons of chewing gum is consumed every year.
- Every year over 374 trillion sticks of chewing gum are made.
- The average person chews over 300 sticks of gum each year!
- In the next 5 years, over 1 million metric tones of chewing gum will be produced.
- The Chewing Gum Industry is profitable market. The world’s chewing gum industry is estimated to be worth approximately US $19 billion.
- Assuming each piece of gum is chewed for 30 minutes, that is 187 billion hours of gum-chewing per year.
- In the beginning, chewing gums were made only by hand! Today almost all gum is made by machine.
- Most chewing gum is purchased between Halloween and Christmas.
- Chewing gum while peeling onions will keep you from crying.
- Humans are the only animals on earth that chew gum.
- Even astronauts chew chewing gum! Only problem is disposal… so they have to swallow them…
- The bubble gum art of Maurizio Savini
Over the last 10 years, Maurizio Savini, an Italian artist, has been creating sculptures using thousands of pieces of chewing gum!
- Today almost 35% of chewing gum is manufactured by Wrigley Company.
- Chewing gum stays in stomach usually a day or two after we eat it – not seven years as you may have heard.
- When children swallow gum one of the biggest dangers is the risk of choking. Children under the age of six should not be given chewing gum (especially no bubble gum).
- Many dentists now widely recommend chewing sugar free gum to their patients.
Special thanks to www.chewinggumfacts.com
Original Album Cover Art for "Tommy"
Fun Facts About The Who’s “Tommy”
What is the name of Tommy’s mother?
Mrs. Walker. From the song “It’s a Boy” – “It’s a boy, Mrs Walker, it’s a boy”.
What is the first name of Tommy’s cousin, who bullies him while babysitting?
Kevin. The song “Cousin Kevin” was written by John Entwistle.
Which member of The Who claimed that he never listened to the completed “Tommy” album after recording had finished?
John Entwistle. John Entwistle once said that he had grown so bored making the album, recording many takes and re-takes, that he never listened to the finished product.
Which character introduces Tommy to the Acid Queen?
The Hawker. The Acid Queen was played by Tina Turner in the movie version of “Tommy”.
What is broken to bring about Tommy’s miracle cure?
A mirror. The episode is covered in the song “Smash the Mirror”.
Keith Moon is credited with writing which song on the “Tommy” LP?
Tommy’s Holiday Camp. Although the song was actually written by Townshend, the credit was given to Moon because he came up with the idea of having Tommy run a holiday camp.
Who sings the song “Fiddle About”?
John Entwistle. Entwistle wrote and sang two songs on the “Tommy” LP – “Fiddle About” and “Cousin Kevin”.
Which Mose Allison song was recorded for “Tommy” but didn’t make it onto the final album?
Young Man Blues. The Who’s version of “Young Man Blues” wasn’t released on the “Tommy” LP, but the band included the song in their live set for many years afterwards.
Who painted the cover art for the “Tommy” album?
Mike McInnerney. Mike McInnerney was art director for International Times and introduced Pete Townshend to the teachings of Meher Baba.
What was the release date of the “Tommy” LP in the UK?
23 May 1969. The album peaked at number two in the UK charts and at number four in the US.
When did The Who debut “Tommy” in the US?
7 June 1970, at Lincoln Center in New York City
VIDEO: “Tommy” – Live performance by The Who
Special thanks to www.funtrivia.com
The Brooklyn Bridge - an iconic landmark in human ingenuity
Fun Facts About the Brooklyn Bridge
- In 1802, NY State Legislature received petition to construct a bridge over the East River as an alternative to the many ferry services that operated at the time, including the Nassau, part of the Fulton Ferry Line (named after Robert Fulton).
- The construction of the Brooklyn Bridge started in 1869 and took 14 years to complete.
- In 1869, President Ulysses S. Grant, signed the bill to approve the Brooklyn Bridge Plan.
- The Organization chartered to build the Brooklyn Bridge was named The New York Bridge Company.
- At the time many saw the construction of such a large bridge as a folly.
Wilhelm Hildenbrand and John Augustus Roebling
- The driving force behind the whole project, John Augustus Roebling, was a German immigrant who had worked for the Prussian government as a bridge and road builder. He launched the idea of building a bridge across the East River after he had taken a ferry across the river that ended up stuck in the ice.
- Assisting Roebling with the bridge design was architect Wilhelm Hildenbrand.
- Roebling would never get to see the bridge he had designed: on July 6th, 1869, at the Brooklyn Fulton Ferry Slip, his foot was crushed while determining the exact location of the Brooklyn-side bridge tower. Although his toes were amputated, he would die 16 days later from Lockjaw (an infection) at the age of 63.
- Roebling wasn’t the only one to lose his life during the construction: 20 of the in total 600 workers died while working on the bridge.
- The son of John Roebling, Washington Roebling, took over the leadership of the project but he suffered from the caisson-disease as a result of the works on the pillars of the bridge and was on his deathbed during the inauguration.
- On opening day, May 24, 1883, about 150,000 people crossed the bridge.
- The opening day ceremony was presided over by President Chester A. Arthur and Governor Grover Cleveland.
- Roebling had not just made a bridge that looked incredibly strong, it also turned out to be just as strong in reality. A mesh of cables of which the four strongest have a diameter of 11 inches are anchored in the ground and keep the bridge from collapsing. But even if the four strongest cables would snap, the other cables would still be sufficient to support the bridge. Roebling even claimed that the bridge wouldn’t collapse without any cables, it would merely sag.
- But even after the inauguration, many New Yorkers were not convinced the bridge was safe. So as to prove the doubters wrong, P.T. Barnum led a caravan of circus animals – including a herd of 21 elephants – across the bridge in 1884.
- Initial Bridge Toll – 1 cent on Opening Day; 3 cents thereafter
- The Brooklyn Bridge ranks as one of the greatest engineering feats of the 19th century and remains one of New York’s most popular and well known landmarks.
- The impressive bridge spans the East river between Brooklyn and Manhattan and stretches for a length of 5989 ft, about 1.8 km. The length between the large towers is 1595.5 ft (486 meter). This made the Brooklyn bridge the world’s largest suspension bridge at the time.
- The most noticeable feature of the Brooklyn Bridge are the two masonry towers to which the many cables are attached. The towers with large gothic arches are 276 ft tall (84 meter), at the time making them some of the tallest landmarks in New York.
- Roebling claimed that the monumental towers would make the bridge a historic monument. He was proven right when the bridge officially became a national monument in 1964.
- An elevated pedestrian path not only gives you the opportunity to cross the river without being bothered by the traffic that rushes past a level below, but it also offers a great view of the bridge’s towers as well as downtown Manhattan’s skyline. The views alone attract millions of visitors to this bridge each year.
- Brooklyn, founded by Dutch settlers in 1636, was an independent city until 1898 when Brooklyn decided in a close vote to become a borough of New York. At that time the Brooklyn bridge had connected the two cities for 15 years.