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Transcript of 1920s Entertainment
TV and Radio
The 1920s marked the shift in American culture to electronic media for entertainment and news. The first radios were sold in the United States for home use in 1920. By mid-decade, a decent radio could be purchased for about $35, with higher quality models being sold for up to $350. By the end of the decade, more than five million of the battery-powered radios were sold (although the first television receivers were sold and the first televised programs began in 1928, television became truly popular in later decades).
Jazz swept the nation in the 1920s, and the boom in radio broadcasting brought it into American homes. Rebellious youth embraced the Charleston, a dance that originated among African Americans but became a craze among whites. Viewed by some as a “savage” dance, the Charleston craze was followed by other popular dance steps such as the Jitterbug, Cakewalk, and Turkey Trot.In the speakeasies and on the dance floors, young women called flappers wore their hair in short bobs and their hemlines above the knees; they wore makeup and high heels and smoked and drank with the men. Both their “modern” behavior and their looks were considered scandalous at the time.
The new prosperity that Americans enjoyed in the 1920s meant that more and more people had the time and money to spend on film and theater tickets. The first “talkies” (movies with sound) thrilled audiences. People flocked to see stars like the beautiful Clara Bow (1905–1965) and the popular detective character, Charlie Chan. Soon people were enjoying movie epics around the country. Large Hollywood studios such as MGM and Warner Brothers nurtured the movie industry into one of the largest and most successful industries in the country.One of the largest movie studios of the twenty-first century, Disney, started in the 1920s and pioneered a new type of film: animation. Disney introduced Steamboat Willie in 1928. It was the first animated film to include synchronized sound. Steamboat Willie introduced the American public to Mickey Mouse, a character who would become beloved by children around the world.
Ironically, at just this time one of the first major American classical composers was writing his best works, which would not be widely heard for several decades. Connecticut-born Charles Ives wrote music that drew on older musical forms while creating new ones through bold experimentation. Some of his scores, for instance, called for the simultaneous playing of themes in different keys or time signatures. Few of his compositions were performed within twenty years of their composition, and Ives was not taken seriously by the classical-music community until 1922, when his Third Symphony won the Pulitzer Prize for music.
With so many sports to choose from, Americans became truly sports crazy. Home-run hitter Babe Ruth led the New York Yankees to its first World Series win in 1923. College football rivaled baseball as the most watched American sport. A professional football game between the New York Giants and the Chicago Bears attracted 76,000 paying spectators in 1925.
Benson, Sonia, Daniel E. Brannen, Jr., and Rebecca Valentine. "Roaring Twenties." UXL Encyclopedia of U.S. History. Vol. 7. Detroit: UXL, 2009. 1318-322. Student Resources in Context. Web. 5 Feb. 2016.
Edelman, Rob. "1920s: TV and Radio." Bowling, Beatniks, and Bell-Bottoms: Pop Culture of 20th- and 21st-Century America. Ed. Cynthia Johnson and Lawrence W. Baker. 2nd ed. Vol. 2: 1920s-1930s. Detroit: UXL, 2012. 359-63. Student Resources in Context. Web. 3 Feb. 2016.
Edelman, Rob, Jill Gregg Clever, Justin Gustainis, Audrey Kupferberg, and Charles Coletta. "1920s: Film and Theater." Bowling, Beatniks, and Bell-Bottoms: Pop Culture of 20th- and 21st-Century America. Ed. Cynthia Johnson and Lawrence W. Baker. 2nd ed. Vol. 2: 1920s-1930s. Detroit: UXL, 2012. 285-300. Web. 3 Feb. 2016.
Pendergast, Tom, Tina Gianoulis, Rob Edelman, Timothy Berg, Robert E. Schnakenberg, and Sara Pendergast. "1920s: Sports and Games." Bowling, Beatniks, and Bell-Bottoms: Pop Culture of 20th- and 21st-Century America. Ed. Cynthia Johnson and Lawrence W. Baker. 2nd ed. Vol. 2: 1920s-1930s. Detroit: UXL, 2012. 343-57. Student Resources in Context. Web. 3 Feb. 2016.