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Pop Culture

Lauren Bacall’s Guide on How To Become A Successful Model in New York City, 1941

Lauren Bacall, the cinema and stage legend who died yesterday at age 89, was once the less enigmatic Betty Joan Perske, a New York girl with a lot of moxie.  As a sixteen year old, she ventured downtown from her home on the Upper West Side (84th Street, under the elevated train) to look for work […]

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It's Showtime Podcasts

Another Podcast Extra from our Broadway Musical show, plus an interactive treat for theater fans

Frequent collaborators PG Wodehouse, Guy Bolton and Jerome Kern (Pic courtesy Broadway Scene) — Here’s another ‘deleted scene’ from our last podcast, Episode #159 The Broadway Musical: Setting the Stage.  In this excerpt, I’m talking about the unique challenge that was faced by young songwriter Jerome Kern when he began working at the Princess Theatre […]

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It's Showtime Podcasts

The Broadway Musical: A trip through NYC’s musical history, from HMS Pinafore to Show Boat, along its most famous street

  The comely ladies of ‘The Black Crook’. The show originally debuted at Niblo’s Garden, although I believe the photo above is from a later revival. (NYPL)The Broadway Musical is one of New York City’s greatest inventions, 150 years in the making! It’s one of the truly American art forms, fueling one of the city’s […]

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Bowery Boys

#FF: Here’s a few of our favorite history blogs

Above: The new Superman movie might be great, who knows? But it doesn’t have Linda Lavin in it, like the 1966 Broadway musical ‘It’s A Bird, It’s A Plane, It’s Superman’ which played at the Alvin Theatre (today’s Neil Simon Theatre).  Encores! recently did a revival of this forgotten musical gem earlier this year.  We […]

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Skyscrapers

Before Woolworth: The early towers of lower Broadway at the birth of the skyscraper boom

Next week is the 100th birthday of the opening of the Woolworth Building.  The classic skyscraper designed by Cass Gilbert changed everything about perceptions of tall buildings in Manhattan — for good and ill.  Suddenly, towers could be as graceful and important as monuments, and as playful and enigmatic as castles. New Yorkers were anxious […]

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It's Showtime

The first Wizard of Oz adaptation blows into Columbus Circle, delighting New Yorkers and a certain tea mogul

The very first musical version of The Wizard of Oz opened at the Majestic Theatre (at 5 Columbus Circle) on January 20, 1903, after playing to enthusiastic audiences in Chicago.  L. Frank Baum wrote the book to the musical, based on his novel ‘The Wonderful Wizard of Oz’ which was published in 1900. The temperatures were […]

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Pop Culture

The Broadway Melody: New York’s first Oscar victory and an ironic success for the Astor Theatre in Times Square

The second film to ever win the Academy Award for Best Picture was hardly a movie at all. ‘The Broadway Melody’, a frothy Hollywood revue about the mounting of an frothy Broadway revue, was a total celebration of every strength and weakness of the early Broadway stage, and a hopeful sign that the New York […]

Theodore Roosevelt and the Case of the Master Mind! Is it the Black Hand or something even stranger?

Theodore Roosevelt in 1908, in a rare shot with his pince-nez lowered. Checking the mailbox was a frightening experience for some New Yorkers almost a century ago. Some found extortion notes — threatening letters, demanding large sums of money or else — courtesy Italian gangsters collectively referred to in the press as The Black Hand. […]

Theodore Roosevelt and the Case of the Master Mind! Is it the Black Hand or something even stranger?

Theodore Roosevelt in 1908, in a rare shot with his pince-nez lowered. Checking the mailbox was a frightening experience for some New Yorkers almost a century ago. Some found extortion notes — threatening letters, demanding large sums of money or else — courtesy Italian gangsters collectively referred to in the press as The Black Hand. […]

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Podcasts

A whirlwind tour of Herald Square: More than just Macy’s, the intersection of publishing, theater and debauchery

Herald Square at night, 1910, with the flurry of shoppers, the churn of printing presses, the clanking and soot exhaust of the elevated train, the rush of the streetcar. The theaters, the drinking, the dancing. (Courtesy the blog Ajax All Purpose Blog) PODCAST Welcome to the secret history of Herald Square, New York City’s second […]

A whirlwind tour of Herald Square: More than just Macy’s, the intersection of publishing, theater and debauchery

Herald Square at night, 1910, with the flurry of shoppers, the churn of printing presses, the clanking and soot exhaust of the elevated train, the rush of the streetcar. The theaters, the drinking, the dancing. (Courtesy the blog Ajax All Purpose Blog) PODCAST Welcome to the secret history of Herald Square, New York City’s second […]

Rainey’s African Hunt: A bloody 1912 movie blockbuster

Hunter and gadabout Paul Rainey: An accidental matinee idol Catching a movie this weekend? Many New Yorkers had the same plan one hundred years ago, but the experience was vastly different.  Motion pictures in 1912 were shorter, without sound and in black-and-white, of course, but they were sometimes presented as part of a set of […]

New York transit system stymied by women’s skirt styles

A lady in a relatively normal skirt boards a Broadway streetcar in July 1913. Now imagine trying this in a hobble skirt! (Courtesy Library of Congress) A serious cry (mostly from men) rang out through the city one hundred years ago about the ever-expanding transit system and the scandalous style of women’s skirts. Were frocks […]

Good news for ‘Newsies’? The Tony Awards often go local

Tom Bosley in a Tony-winning performance as Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia, in ‘Fiorello!’, which tied for the Best Musical Tony in 1960 with ‘The Sound of Music’. Only one of these productions is regularly produced by high schools across the country. For those of you not watching the season finale of Mad Men this Sunday, the […]

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American History

Doctor Alice, the Saks heiress, and the accidental nanny: Fascinating New York women who survived the TItanic

The Waiting Game: Down at the White Star Line’s Broadway offices near Bowling Green, anxious New Yorkers line the streets waiting for news about the sunken vessel. 1912 Over fifteen hundred people died the night the Titanic sank, April 14-15, 1912. The early reports from the New York newspapers, of course, spent their time mourning […]