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Pop Culture Madness!

1920 Trivia, Facts & History

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1920 History Snapshot

  • Politics: The Nineteenth Amendment to the US Constitution prohibits the government from denying women the right to vote on the same terms as men.
  • Influencial Songs include: Dardanella by Ben Selvin and Whispering by Paul Whiteman
  • The Big Movies included Something to Think About, Way Down East and Over the Hill to the Poor House
  • Price of a pound of cabbage in 1920: 2 cents
  • The World Population was ~ 1,944,000,000
  • The word "robot" was first used in a 1920 play R.U.R. (Rossum's Universal Robots) and was derived from the Slavic word for "slave labor."
  • 1 once of gold value: $20.67
  • And... During prohibition in the US an exemption was made for whiskey prescribed by a doctor and sold through a pharmacy. The Walgreens pharmacy chain grew from 20 retail stores in 1920 to almost 500 by 1933.
1920 Books

World Series Champions

Cleveland Indians

Stanley Cup Champs

Ottawa Senators (NHL)

US Open Golf

Edward Ray

US Tennis (Men/Ladies)

William T. Tilden/Molla B. Mallory

Wimbledon (Men/Women)

Bill Tilden/Suzanne Lenglen

NCAA Football Champions


Kentucky Derby

Paul Jones

1920's Fresh Faces, Top Stars, Models and Actresses

Theda Bara, Pola Negri, Mary Pickford, Olive Thomas

The Heartthrob(s)

Douglas Fairbanks, 'America's First Sweetheart' Mary Pickford

The Hotties and Fashion Icons

Hollywood's first 'super couple' was Douglas Fairbanks and Mary 'America's Sweetheart' Pickford, married 1920, and divorced in 1936. Both were huge stars in the silent film industry, but they were also significant players behind the scene. In 1919, along with Charlie Chaplin and D.W. Griffith, founded United Artists, one of the first movie distribution companies.

They appeared in one film together - 1929's Taming of the Shrew. The couple was also the first to officially handprint by Grauman's Chinese Theater (1927), the first in Hollywood's 'Walk of Fame'

"The Quotes"

"My candle burns at both ends
It will not last the night;
But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends -
It gives a lovely light."
- Edna St. Vincent Millay (A Few Figs from Thistles)

During the campaign of 1920, President Warren G. Harding was accused of making up a word: "normalcy." When asked if he instead meant "normality," Harding responded "I have looked for 'normality' in my dictionary and I do not find it there. 'Normalcy', however, I did find, and it is a good word."

1920 Pop Culture News

Audrey Munson (June 8, 1891 - February 20, 1996), was a teenage model in the 1920s was the inspiration behind 15 of some of the most iconic statues in NYC. Her career destroyed in 1922 by a murder mystery and scandal, she attempted suicide, was admitted to a mental institution where she spent 65 yrs and died in obscurity at the age of 105. She was America's First Supermodel.

If you bought ONE share of Coca-Cola stock in 1920, it would be worth $6.7 million in 2010.

In 1915, a full-sized replica of the Liberty Bell called the "Justice Bell" toured the US in support of women's suffrage. It had a chained clapper, representing women denied the right to vote. It was finally rung in 1920 with the passage of the 19th Amendment. Only one woman, Charlotte Woodward, who attended the 1848 convention that first proposed extending the right to vote to women was still alive when women were first allowed to vote in the US.

There are more trees in America today than 1920.

There was a Great Debate between astronomers in 1920 on whether Andromeda was inside or outside the Milky Way. We knew about General Relativity before we knew whether the Universe has galaxies other than our own.

A horse-drawn wagon filled with explosives was blown up on Wall Street in NYC, killing 38 people and injuring hundreds. The perpetrators were never caught.

Gerard Nolst Trenité, a Dutch writer penned a 274-line poem in 1920 called The Chaos to demonstrate inconsistencies in English pronunciation. It opens: "Dearest creature in creation / Studying English pronunciation, / I will teach you in my verse / Sounds like corpse, corps, horse and worse"

Thomas Edison pranked The American Magazine (and the whole world) by claiming that he had invented a phone that could contact the spirit world.

Snap-on Tools, with interchangable sockets, began being sold in Chicago.

As a joke, newly hired engineers at General Electric would be told to develop a frosted lightbulb, which the experienced engineers believed to be impossible. In 1925, newly hired Marvin Pipkin got the assignment, and astonished his bosses by succeeding.

The first Olympic flag went missing for 77 years after the 1920 games until a 1920 Olympian, Hal Haig Prieste , revealed he'd had it in his suitcase the whole time

While at the height of the British Empire, in 1920, the UK controlled over 20% of the world's total land area.

Sears sold mail-order homes, between 1908 and 1940, as part of their Modern Homes program. They arrived as a kit, and included many modern conveniences, such as indoor plumbing. Some of these homes still exist today.

Jesse Langsdorf patented the all-weather and wrinkle-free necktie.

The Band-Aid was invented in 1920 by Johnson & Johnson employee Earle Dickson for his wife Josephine, who frequently cut and burned herself while cooking.

While almost all weight lifting records are from modern day athletes, the current record for a one-handed dead lift was set by Hermann Görner in 1920. He lifted 330 kg (727.5 pounds).

Henry Ford became a billionaire in 1920, which would be, in today's money accounting for inflation and GDP, worth $194 billion, making him the 7th richest man in history.

Johnson & Johnson employee Earle Dickson used tape and cotton gauze to make a bandage for his wife. He told his bosses about it, they made him a VP, and they named it the 'Band-Aid.' It worked out well for all concerned.

Joan of Arc was canonized by Pope Benedict XV.

Drano became available to start unclogging household drains and toilets.

American Socialist Party candidate, Eugene V. Debs, ran his campaign from the inside of a jail cell with the slogan "Vote for President Convict #9653" and garnered almost a million write-in votes in 1920

February 14th - The League of Women Voters was founded in Chicago. Also that year, the Republican convention in Chicago endorsed woman's suffrage.

The word 'robot' was introduced to the public by Czech writer Karel Capek in his play R.U.R. (Rossum's Universal Robots), He credited his brother, Josef Capek, with the word later.

The first primitive models of the TV were invented.

Saturday Review Magazine (1920-1984)

Architectural Digest began publication

The Habits

Reading The Man of the Forest by Zane Grey
Reading The Rainbow by D.H. Lawrence
Reading The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton

1920's Most Popular Christmas Gifts

Raggedy Andy, wooden Pogo Sticks, Lionel Trains became the rage

Popular Movies:

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, The Golem, The Last of the Mohicans, The Mark of Zorro, Over the Hill to the Poorhouse, Power, Sex, Something to Think About, Way Down East, Within Our Gates

More Pop Culture Resources

Popular Music in 1920
# 1 Hits of 1920
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