World War 1, the war that was supposed to end all wars, had ended. America was now entering what would become an era of bobbed hair Flappers, wearing feathered headbands and above the knee dresses. Raccoon coats, rumble seat flivvers, Speakeasy's (where you had to be "a friend of Joe's" to be admitted), the phrases,"Oh You Kid" and "23 Skidoo", were all the sights and sounds of the times.
The Charleston, Black Bottom, Peabody, and the Fox Trot, were the dance crazes.
Credit for the naming of this historic time can be given to F.Scott Fitzgerald. In his classic novel of the 20's, "The Great Gatsby", Jay Gatsby appropriately named the era, "The Roaring Twenties".
Prohibition brought the names of "Dutch" Schultz,
"Legs" Diamond, "Lucky" Luciano, "Bugs" Moran, and Al Capone into notoriety. In Chicago, on February 14th 1929, seven members of the infamous, "Bugs Moran" gang were machine gunned in a garage. The next day, newspaper headlines screamed,"ST.VALENTINES DAY MASSACRE!" These purveyors of the bootleg booze, hijacked, fought, and killed in the course of their daily "business".
On May 20,1927, Charles (Lucky Lindy) Lindbergh, became the first man to fly non-stop from New York to Paris.This trans-Atlantic solo flight in "The Spirit of St. Louis" took 33 hours and 32 minutes.
The following year, on June 18,1928, aviatrix Amelia Earhart became the first woman passenger to fly across the Atlantic. Her flight from Nova Scotia to Wales, in the Fokker Tri-Motor plane "Friendship", lasted 20 hours and 40 minutes.The world was getting smaller. (On July 2,1937 Amelia Earhart, flying a "round-the-world" trip, disappeared somewhere over the Pacific Ocean.)
This same year introduced the world of sound to
motion picture audiences. Although syncronized phonographic sound had previously been used, this was the first time that it had been added as a track on the film.
The first movie to use this new process was, "The Jazz Singer", starring top entertainer Al Jolson. The world marveled as his voice rang out with the song, "Mammy".
Other movie stars of fame included Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, Harold Lloyd, Clara Bow, John Barrymore, Rudolph Valentino, Charles Farrell, Janet Gaynor, Lon Chaney, Lupe Velez, Mae Busch, Ricardo Cortez, Jackie Coogan, Louise Fazenda, Gloria Swanson and the most popular star of 1926, a German Shepherd named Rin-Tin-Tin.
Although talking films were a boon to Hollywood, it ended the career of many silent screen stars, including John Gilbert. Unfortunately for them, their voice's on screen did not come across well.
A new form of music was developed. Dixieland, Ragtime, Honky-Tonk, and Blues, were now being blended into a new sound. This foot-tapping raucous, music could be played fast, or it could be played slow. Jazz!!!
A musician named Paul Whiteman put together what was to become the top orchestra of the 20's. He
scored a big hit with his recording of, "Whispering". This was the first record to ever sell over one million copies. "Pops" Whiteman, as he was called, was given the title, "King of Jazz".
Many of his musicians became the leaders of the big Swing bands of the 30's and 40's. Among them were Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey, Jack Teagarden, Henry Busse, Clyde McCoy, and Joe Venuti.
Other noted bandleaders of the 20's included Louis Armstrong, Vincent Lopez, George Olsen, "King" Oliver, "Jellyroll" Morton, Rudy Vallee, Guy Lombardo, Ben Bernie, Fred Waring, Gus Arnheim, Al Goodman, and Nat Shilkret.
The most popular singers of the era were,
Gene Austin, Ruth Etting, Sid Gary, Al Jolson,
Bessie Smith,Helen Kane Buddy Rogers, Russ Columbo, Irving Kaufman, and a lad named Harry Lillis Crosby, better known as, "Bing".
Among the outstanding athletes of the time were Paavo Nurmi (track), Bill Tilden (tennis), Helen Wills (tennis) Jack Dempsey (boxing), Gene Tunney (boxing), Johnny Weissmuller (swimming), Gertrude Ederle (swimming), Babe Ruth (baseball), Rogers Hornsby (baseball), Harold "Red" Grange (football), and Notre Dame's famed "Four Horseman", Jim Crowley, Harry Stuhldreher, Don Miller, and Elmer Layden.
Sadly, this happy-go-lucky, carefree period was not to last. On October 24, 1929, (Black Thursday) the stock market crashed. This began "The Great Depression", a decade of despair that was to follow.
Much of the music of that era is still being played. I have listed some of the better known songs of those days, that were so often played on the piano, by my mother. It was The Roaring Twenties!
FAIR USE NOTICE:
This website may contain copyrighted material whose use has not been
specifically authorized by the copyright owner.This page operated
under the assumption that this non-profit use on the web constitutes a
"fair use" of the copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of
the U.S. Copyright Laws.