Baby Boomers

Baby Boomers

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

You Say It's Your Birthday: Ed Sullivan

On this date in 1901, legendary variety show star Ed Sullivan, the host of the long-running CBS Sunday night show The Ed Sullivan, was born.

You can make a strong argument that more than any other TV personality, Sullivan satisfied the Baby Boomers love of rock n' roll.  Ironically, Sullivan wasn't a fan of rock, but he was a fan of the huge ratings rock artists created for the show, which was mandatory Sunday night viewing in a majority of American homes with TV sets.

Here is some background on 4 of the most historic rock appearances in the show's long-running history.

Elvis Presley Debuts on TV 

Much of America tuned in for Elvis that February 1957 night, and presumably among those watching on TV was Sullivan himself. The host was still recovering from a car accident and so had to defer to a fill-in that night, actor Charles Laughton. 

The Beatles Invasion of America Begins

Reportedly 73 million people tuned in to watch the American February 1964 debut of the Fab Four which represented over a third of the country. So many people were busy watching the show that an interesting rumor grew out of it that seemed relatively plausible. The rumor: Crime in the United States actually dropped by a significant margin during that appearance. The rumor is believed to stem from a Washington Post article in which the reporter said that in the entire time The Beatles were on the air, not a single hubcap was stolen across America. It gained more legs when that line was reprinted by Newsweek. Apparently Newsweek didn't realize the line was a joke meant to insinuate that Beatles fans were all hubcap-swiping hooligans. The Washington Post ended up having to print a retraction, sighting a set of hubcaps that were indeed stolen that night.

Stones Agree to Censorship ...
The Ed Sullivan Show had an interesting role to play in that it both ushered in the era of Rock and Roll and also sought to protect the moral sensibilities of an older generation of viewers. So the show was the scene of many disagreements with bands and artists who wanted to be sexually suggestive. One such dispute arose with The Rolling Stones who had a song with the lyrics "Let's spend the night together". This line was considered quite racy at the time. Ed Sullivan said the line would have to be changed to "Let's spend some time together," which really doesn't fit the title of the song. The Rolling Stones complied and if you watch footage of that night, you can see Mick Jagger giving one heck of an eye-roll before saying the altered line

... But The Doors Don't 

Ed Sullivan also tried to censor The Doors, but it didn't work quite as well. A few hours prior to their going on the air, a producer instructed them that they were to drop the word "higher" from "Light My Fire" because of the drug connotations the word conjures.

The band agreed to omit the word, but when they went on air did no such thing. Jim Morrison left the line in and when the show was over, a producer told The Doors they were never coming on The Ed Sullivan Show again. Replied Morrison, "We just did the Sullivan show."

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

You Say It's Your Birthday: And Here's The Tonight Show

Johnny Carson (on right) with band leader Doc Severson and sidekick Ed McMahon.
If you are a Baby Boomer, you have pretty much grown up with The Tonight Show on NBC, which is the third longest running show in TV history behind Meet the Press and The Today Show.

The Tonight Show, which debuted on September 27, 1954 with host Steve Allen in charge, set the standard for all the late-night talk shows to follow.

Allen, a man of many talents, was truly a show business Renaissance man. He was an actor, comedian, composer, musician, and writer. The NBC executives who were behind the launch of The Tonight Show thought his dry wit and varied interests made him a perfect fit for the 90-minute show, which included not only talk with guest celebrities but also a comedy monologue, musical interludes, and man-on-the-street interviews. 

The qualities that made Allen an ideal choice to host the show can be seen in this brief YouTube video clip that captures Allen's introduction to the very first televised installment of the show.

After the departure of Allen in January 1957, the show was redubbed Tonight! America after Dark and was hosted by longtime NBC announcer Jack Lescoulie. This somewhat altered version of the show was not a big hit with TV viewers or the critics, and in July 1957, Jack Paar took over as host. 

With Paar at the helm, the show's popularity increased sharply. During Paar's years as host, he once walked off the show -- staying away for almost a month -- after he butted heads with NBC censors. Paar left the show for good in March 1962.

NBC executives had selected comedian Johnny Carson as Paar's successor, but because he was contractually obligated to continue his hosting duties on an ABC-TV quiz show until October 1962, guest hosts filled in for several months after Paar left. 

Carson took the helm on October 1, 1962, and remained as the show's host until May 22, 1992. He was succeeded by comedian Jay Leno, who stayed on as host until late May 2009. Taking his place was Conan O'Brien, whose stint as host lasted less than a year, at which time Leno returned to resume his duties as host. On February 17, 2014, Jimmy Fallon, a popular alumnus of Saturday Night Live, took over as host.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Baby Boomer Years on the Big Screen -1960

Here are some of the big films from the year 1960.
  1. Psycho
  2. The Magnificent Seven
  3. Spartacus
  4. The Apartment
  5. Ocean's 11
  6. La Dolce Vita
  7. Breathless
  8. The Time Machine
  9. Swiss Family Robinson
  10. Exodus
  11. The Alamo
  12. Inherit the Wind
Which one on this list was your favorite? Why?

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

The Boomer Birth Years - 1946

Here are some important events that happened in 1946, the year the Baby Boom began.
  • Tokyo Telecommunications Engineering (later renamed Sony) is founded with 20 employees.
  • ENIAC (for Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer), the 1st general purpose computer is unveiled at the University of Pennsylvani.
  • AT&T announces the 1st car phone.
  • Benjamin Spock's influential The Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care is published.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

What We Baby Boomers Were Doing Back in the Day - Playing with Barbie Dolls

This continuing series entitled "What We Baby Boomers Were Doing Back In the Day" will highlight the toys and games Baby Boomers played with in the late 40s, 50s/60s, and early 70s, as well as the TV shows and movies that were being watched, the songs we were listening to, the books we were reading, the foods we were eating, and the fads that were sweeping across America.
For many it will bring back fond memories, but I hope all can enjoy the series by learning about the past and comparing what they find in their own times.
No toy in history has been more analyzed, written about, loved in many cases, and loathed in others than the Barbie Doll, which made its debut in 1959.

When Barbie first arrived, there was no such thing as a fashion doll.

Ruth Handler, Barbie's creator, was certain that a fashion doll would be a huge seller and after several tries she convinced Mattel executives to produce such a product. First-year sales topped 300,000 units. The doll cost $4 at the time, with fashions and later friends sold separately.

In the late 1960s and 1970s, the impossibly thin Barbie became a target of feminists. However, she survived after a clever marketing campaign proclaimed "We girls can do anything."

Since her "birth," Barbie has had more than careers and has "lived" in more than 150 countries. Today, the Barbie brand generates global revenues of about $3 billion annually.

Friday, September 2, 2016

This article 1st appeared in Sixty and Me
What once-banned, now ubiquitous female summer poolside and seaside attire is celebrating a 70th birthday this month?
If you answered the bikini, you really are a dedicated follower of fashion.
The modern bikini debuted in France in July of 1946. It was the creative idea of Louis Reard, a French automotive and mechanical engineer. He was also running his mother’s lingerie business in Paris at the time.

The new swimsuit was so scandalous that Reard couldn’t find any models willing to wear his navel-exposing design at its debut press conference. Instead, Reard hired a 19-year-old nude dancer Micheline Bernardini to wear his string bikini. It consisted of four triangles made from 30 square inches of fabric printed with a newspaper pattern.
At the time, Reard heralded his creation as “smaller than the smallest bathing suit in the world.” He said he had named it after the Bikini Atoll, the site of the first nuclear device test just five days earlier.
Legend claims that the name was chosen because the bikini was as shocking as the explosion of an atom bomb. Reard said he selected the name because the Bikini Atoll where the atomic test took place and his creation were the same shape.
Although Reard’s design was to eventually conquer the world of fashion, he was actually about 20 years ahead of his time. Both the public and much of the press were shocked by the skimpy swimwear.

The Bikini is Banned and then Embraced

The Vatican moved quickly and declared the bikini sinful. It was banned in Spain, Portugal, and Italy, as well as many parts of France. In the even more Puritan America you could still get a citation for wearing a bikini in fashionable Hampton beach in the mid-1960s.
But with sexual mores and the status of women and freedom rapidly changing, the bikini slowly began its move into everyday life.
In 1953, French sex goddess Brigette Bardot helped popularize the bikini in Europe by wearing it on many French beaches during the Cannes Film Festival. Its rise to popularity was jump started when the first Bond Girl, Ursula Andress emerged from the sea wearing a white bikini.
The bikini began to gain acceptance in America when Annette Funicello (of wholesome Mickey Mouse Club fame) and her fellow bikini-clad teenage actresses began frolicking on the beaches in a widely popular series of California surf movies. In 1962, Playboy magazine featured a model in a bikini on its cover for the first time. Sports Illustrated followed two years later with its initial swimsuit issue, which featured a bikini-clad model on its cover.
In 1966, a sultry Raquel Welch appeared in a fur skin bikini in the film One Million Years B.C., a move which made her an instant star although she had only three lines in the film.
By the end of the 1967, an estimated 70 percent of young American girls were wearing bikinis at pools and beaches. The bikini was so popular worldwide that it was named one of the defining fashions of the decade.

Is the Bikini Empowering or Demeaning to Women?

Of course, with the later arrival of string bikinis and even tinier thong bottoms, the fashion and its wearers have still suffered setbacks from time to time. For example, in 2013, four women were arrested in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina for indecent exposure when they wore thong bikinis showing their buttocks.
In that same year, the British watchdog agency Advertising Standards Authority banned a commercial that showed men in an office fantasizing about their female colleague, played by Pamela Anderson, in a bikini. The agency contended that the commercial was clearly degrading to women.
But with a 70-year history now behind it, it’s safe to assume that the bikini will be on the fashion scene far into the future.

Top 10 Bikinis in Pop Culture*

  1. 1. Micheline Bernardini models the first-ever Bikini (1946)
  2. 2. “Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini” (popular song in 1960)
  3. 3. Annette Funicello and Beach Party (1960s)
  4. 4. The belted Bond girl bikini of Dr. No (1962)
  5. 5. Sports Illustrated’s first Swimsuit Issue (1964)
  6. 6. Raquel Welch’s fur bikini in One Million Years B.C. (1966)
  7. 7. Phoebe Cates’ Bikini in Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982)
  8. 8. Princess Leia’s gold bikini in Return of the Jedi (1983)
  9. 9. The official uniform of the female Olympic beach-volleyball players (1996)
  10. 10 Miss America pageant’s bikini debut (1997)
There are still people who believe the bikini is either morally unacceptable or demeaning to women. Others contend that the fashion is empowering because it allows women to display their body in a free manner of their choosing. I’d love to hear what you think about this debate!
Do you have any tales to tell from a time when you wore a bikini? We are in a period of redefining aging and what it means to be old. Do you think it is OK for a woman over 60 to wear a bikini if she chooses to do so?