The 1960s Arts and Entertainment: Headline Makers

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The 1960s Arts and Entertainment: Headline Makers

The Beatles John Lennon; Paul McCartney; George Harrison; Ringo Starr
Johnny Carson
Walter Cronkite
Bob Dylan
Sidney Poitier
Barbra Streisand
Andy Warhol
Jann Wenner

The Beatles John Lennon (1940–1980); Paul McCartney (1942–); George Harrison (1943–2001); Ringo Starr (1940–) In 1964, The Beatles burst onto the music scene and not only became international celebrities but altered the face of music and popular culture. Their music, a combination of pop and rock and roll, reflected the development of rock music throughout the decade, moving from sweet and innocent in 1964 to hard-edged and psychedelic by the end of the decade. Their phenomenal success was dubbed Beatlemania. As the decade progressed, the members of The Beatles evolved both musically and personally. In 1970, they disbanded the group, citing personal and artistic conflicts.

Johnny Carson (1925–) Johnny Carson took over NBC's late-night program The Tonight Show from previous host, Jack Paar in 1957, and turned it into a television institution during the 1960s. Carson was able to far outpace all other competing shows in the ratings due to his comedic talents and his ability to attract celebrity guests to his show. Because of The Tonight Show's popularity, sponsors' revenues for the program reached $20 million in 1967, a $4 million increase over the highest billings during Paar's years. Carson remained host until retiring in 1992.

Walter Cronkite (1916–) During the 1960s, Walter Cronkite was the most respected television newscaster in the United States. The longtime anchor of CBS's nightly news broadcast, Cronkite presided over the decade's most tumultuous events, from the assassination of President John F. Kennedy (1917–1963) to the Apollo 11 moon landing. Cronkite's demeanor and integrity made him the nation's father figure. His on-the-air conversion from Vietnam War supporter to questioner of American foreign policy helped sway the American public's viewpoint of the war.

Bob Dylan (1941–) Bob Dylan was a poet/prophet of the early 1960s. He started out as a humanist-oriented folksinger whose primary influence was Woody Guthrie (1912–1967), the fabled Depression-era Dust Bowl balladeer. However, Dylan's music came to reflect the decade's social unrest. In his early folk compositions, he lampooned segregation, denounced the purveyors of nuclear weapons, and pronounced, for all the world to hear, "The Times They Are a-Changin'." Dylan changed folk music forever when, in 1965, he set aside his acoustic guitar, picked up an electric one, and transformed himself into a rock star.

Sidney Poitier (1927–) Sidney Poitier contributed to promoting a positive image of blacks through his acting roles during the 1960s. He was the first black leading man in Hollywood, and the first to win an Academy Award for Best Actor for his performance in the 1963 film Lilies of the Field. In this film, Poitier was invariably cast as a responsible role model for blacks and whites alike. Poitier's most active year was 1967 with two important roles: In the Heat of the Night and Guess Who's Coming to Dinner? Poitier's friendly, hard-working characters comforted many filmgoers, especially whites, during a decade of social unrest.

Barbra Streisand (1942–) Barbra Streisand, a premier singer and actor of stage and screen, conquered the American musical stage by playing comedienne Fanny Brice (1891–1961) in Funny Girl, which came to Broadway in 1964. In 1963 she won two Grammy awards for the first of several top-selling record albums. She won a Best Actress Academy Award in her film debut, the screen adaptation of Funny Girl (1968). In future decades, she added film producing and directing to her accomplishments, and she continued to enjoy success as a recording artist.

Andy Warhol (1930–1987) During the 1960s, Andy Warhol and American art were one and the same. He was the era's leading Pop Artist, reproducing images from popular culture. He also was a cutting edge filmmaker, directing a series of films of varying lengths that were experimental, controversial, and undeniably influential. Warhol was a master self-promoter who is perhaps most famous for his astute declaration that, in our media and celebrity-obsessed culture, everyone eventually will become famous, but only for fifteen minutes. Warhol's own celebrity, however, lasted longer than a quarter-hour. It endures years past his death.

Jann Wenner (1946–) Jann Wenner was among the first entrepreneurs to understand the commercial potential of the emerging Baby Boomer market. In 1967, when he was just twenty-years-old, he borrowed $7,500 and began publishing Rolling Stone, a magazine that catered to the era's rock music-oriented youth culture. The content of Rolling Stone included a range of subjects, from music reviews to political reporting. It was one of the era's most valuable cultural and political voices.

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The 1960s Arts and Entertainment: Headline Makers

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The 1960s Arts and Entertainment: Headline Makers