The 1910s Arts and Entertainment: Headline Makers

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The 1910s Arts and Entertainment: Headline Makers

Irving Berlin
Willa Cather
Charles Chaplin
Robert Frost
D. W. Griffith
W. C. Handy
Mary Pickford
John Reed

Irving Berlin (1888–1989) Russian immigrant Irving Berlin rose from the poverty of New York City's lower east side tenements to become one of America's major composers. Between 1907 and 1966, he published 899 songs. Almost half became hits, and 282 became "top ten" numbers. They include "White Christmas," "Easter Parade," "There's No Business Like Show Business," "Always," and "God Bless America." Composer Jerome Kern said, "Irving Berlin has no place in American music. He is American music."

Willa Cather (1873–1947) Willa Cather wrote fiction about America's agrarian (farming) past. Her style was a mix of nostalgia and realism. She spent her formative years in Nebraska, where her father farmed. Her first novel was O Pioneers! (1913), about Swedish immigrants on the Nebraska prairie. In 1918, she published her most famous novel, My Antonia, the tale of a Bohemian girl who endures tragedy and eventually finds spiritual revitalization. In 1922, Cather was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for One of Ours, a novel about a Midwestern hero in World War I.

Charles Chaplin (1889–1977) Charles Chaplin was the most famous silent film comedian. He is most famous for his character of the Little Tramp, a sometimes mischievous mustached man carrying a cane and wearing a derby, baggy trousers, and oversized shoes. In 1919, Chaplin became a founding partner in United Artists, an independent film distribution company. Among his most famous comedies are The Immigrant (1917), Easy Street (1917), The Gold Rush (1925), City Lights (1931), and Modern Times (1936).

Robert Frost (1874–1963) The poems of Robert Frost capture the lifestyles, thoughts, and speech of the common New Englander. Frost, who eventually won four Pulitzer Prizes, worked on farms and also made his living as a mill worker and teacher. In his later years, he cultivated the image of the grandfatherly farmer-poet. One of America's most cherished memories of Frost in his elder years was his appearance at the inauguration of President John F. Kennedy (1917–1963) in 1961, when Frost recited his poem "The Gift Outright."

D. W. Griffith (1875–1948) D. W. Griffith was the most significant motion picture director in the early days of cinema. While directing short films for the American Mutoscope and Biograph Company from 1908 to 1913, he developed techniques for making movies that have remained the conventional film language. His contributions include well-thought-out use of camera angles, close-ups and long-shots, and editing styles. Among the most well-known films that he produced, directed, and wrote are the epics The Birth of a Nation (1915) and Intolerance (1916).

W. C. Handy (1873–1958) W. C. Handy is known as "The Father of the Blues." The blues refers to songs of three-line verses featuring mournful lyrics and a melody that repeats flatted thirds and sevenths (blue notes). Handy did not invent this style of music; rather he adapted it from music being played by African American folk and spiritual singers. Throughout the first years of the twentieth century he composed works that helped to popularize the blues. In 1914, he wrote his legendary work, "The Saint Louis Blues."

Mary Pickford (1893–1979) Her nickname was "America's Sweetheart" and, with a knowing smile and long blonde curls, Mary Pickford was the most beloved of the female stars of the silent screen. She starred in motion pictures from 1907 into the 1930s. She was also an astute businesswoman. In 1919, Pickford was one of the founding heads of United Artists and owner of The Mary Pickford Company. Her films include Stella Maris (1919), Pollyanna (1920), and Little Lord Fauntleroy (1921).

John Reed (1887–1920) John Reed was a U.S. journalist and socialist political activist. In 1914, he made attempts to cover World War I in Russia. He found that his socialist viewpoint gave him access to the inner circle of the leaders of the Russian Revolution, who were trying to overthrow the brutal ruler Tsar Nicholas II (1868–1918) and establish a socialist state. In 1917, Reed was given a close view of the "October Revolution" when Vladimir Ilyich Lenin (1870–1924) and members of the "Workers and Peasants Government" entered Moscow and overthrew the provisional government. Reed's famed eyewitness account was published as Ten Days That Shook the World (1919).

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The 1910s Arts and Entertainment: Headline Makers

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The 1910s Arts and Entertainment: Headline Makers