NEW the fascinating stories of americaâ€™s greatest heroes
10 g eorge
68 emily dickinson
120 B abe ruth
70 mark twain
122 jesse owens
72 e rnest hemingway
124 j ackie robinson
76 l ouis armstrong
126 m uhammad ali
22 A braham Lincoln
28 j ohn f Kennedy
78 j ohn wayne 80 f rank sinatra
PIONEERS 40 m eriwether
lewis & william clark
42 harriet Tubman 44 thomas Edison 46 t he wright brothers
50 h enry ford 54 amelia earhart 58 w alt disney 62 n eil armstrong
86 marilyn monroe 94 g race kelly 100 j ames dean 102 e lvis presley 108 b ob dylan 112 andy warhol 114 j imi hendrix 116 m ichael jackson
politicians & activists 132 s itting bull 136 abigail adams 140 e leanor
146 r osa parks 150 m artin
luther king Jr
156 m alcolm x
One of my sons will be president Joe Kennedy famously made the above claim about his sons. He was a man who expected a lot from his family – after all, they were Kennedys, and thus destined for greatness. Born in 1888, Joe grew up in a well-established Catholic family from Boston. He worked in Hollywood as a film producer and then entered politics as part of the Franklin Roosevelt administration. He later became ambassador to Britain, famously saying the country was “finished” in 1940. He was renowned for his political connections, using them to see his children established among the elite of American society after the war. It was also rumoured that he had unofficial connections with the Mafia, using them as he used everyone else: to get more power and influence. He was a domineering and harsh father, especially when his family didn’t meet his high standards, and infamously had his daughter Rosemary lobotomised because of her violent personality. He also ‘vetted’ husbands for his daughters, ensuring they all married into families that would benefit the family. His affairs with other women were legendary, estranging him from his wife, Rose. He was a pessimist and isolationist, weighed down with old prejudices of the Protestant-dominated middle class. Jack was none of these things, outgrowing Joe’s outdated beliefs.
shallow man who simply enjoyed the press “The stereotype of the Irish Catholic for his own vanity; the press shots of him and politician, the pugnacious, priest-ridden Jackie with their children in Hyannis Port representative of an embittered, embattled may have been doctored to fit the idyll of the minority, simply does not fit the poised, perfect American family, but they do portray a urbane, cosmopolitan young socialite from genuine sentiment of love. Harvard.” This was put to the test when he One of the most compelling stories that was nominated as the Democratic candidate illustrates his character was not caught for the presidency. He knew he would on camera, however. During his tenure in need something more than his easy smile, office, an aide was showing a group good looks and friends in the print of disabled children around media, as these alone would not the White House when their be enough against a seasoned He was the wheelchairs prevented them politician like Nixon; he would youngest man and from joining the rest of the need something that would the first Roman Catholic tour group. Kennedy, late for allow him to reach millions ever elected president of the US. His a meeting, spotted them and and captivate them with his administration lasted came over to the children. personality. He needed the 1,037 days The aide recalled: “He crossed power of television. the lawn to us, insisted on being Kennedy’s time would come introduced to each child and either during the first live television debates picked up each limp, paralysed hand to in September 1960, a contest that was shake it, or touched the child on the cheek. watched by over 60 million people. Kennedy He had a different conversation with each had taken a tour of the television studio child… the child’s face radiated a joy totally beforehand, where his aides had worked impossible to describe.” Kennedy’s natural out how the lighting, sound and shooting charm was rooted in compassion – something angles would benefit him; everything that the press could project, but not create. would have to be perfect if he was to shine The power over the press he possessed on the box. Both candidates were offered even allowed him to overcome the prejudices the services of a CBS make-up artist – not sections of American society held due to his that Kennedy needed it, as his skin looked Catholic upbringing; one writer remarked, tanned and healthy after campaigning in
JFK during a news conference in 1962
JOHN F KENNEDY
California. Nixon, on the other hand, looked pasty and sweaty, having only just recovered from a knee injury, but declined the make-up services. Ultimately, he got one of his aides to apply some make-up on minutes before the broadcast to cover up his stubble, but coupled with his pale complexion, it only made him look ill and dirty. Kennedy received coaching from consultants to allow him to practice rebuking Nixon’s comment while maintaining eye contact with the audience straight down the lens. Nixon was confident he could wing it, with one commentator noting afterwards that, “Nixon was addressing himself to Kennedy – but Kennedy was addressing himself to the audience that was the nation.” Kennedy chose a suit that contrasted well with the background of the set, while Nixon’s blended horribly into the backdrop. Kennedy was prepared and ready; Nixon looked nervous and tired. The result was a popular victory for Kennedy, with one newspaper editor commenting, “The [television] medium is good to Kennedy and most unkind to Nixon. It makes Kennedy look forceful. It makes Nixon look guilty.” Emphasising the differences in perception television offered, the majority of those who heard the radio debate thought Nixon had won, while those who watched on television were inclined in favour of Kennedy.
Spectators line the streets of Ireland to catch a glimpse of Kennedy
How America was won
The presidential election of 1960 was one of the closest in American history. Richard Nixon, Kennedy’s opponent, was able to gain significant control over the American Midwest, a traditional Republican stronghold, and in California and Florida, which carried with it a large number of votes in the electoral college. Kennedy, however, seized control of Texas, a state with a large number of voters, through his running mate Lyndon B Johnson and the industrial heartland of America in the Northeast with the help of his father through his political connections with influential industrialists. One of the major battlegrounds was Chicago, Illinois, which Hawaii held a large amount of supporters for both Kennedy and Nixon. Controversies would emerge later about Democratic mayor of Chicago, Richard Daley, rigging the Illinois vote for Kennedy after a conversation he had with Joe Kennedy and, apparently, the Chicago outfit. In the end, Illinois was won by a paper-thin margin of 8,858 votes.
Electoral vote total: 537
Popular vote total: 68,836,385
Amelia Earhart Often remembered for her mysterious death, the life of this aviation heroine was just as extraordinary
hen Amelia Mary Earhart was born on Saturday 24 July 1897, her mother Amy noted down an old saying: “But Saturday’s bairn must work for a living.” For a woman who had never worked a day in her life, whose mother and grandmother had equally privileged histories, it must have seemed a strange prophesy to make for her daughter. For Amelia too was born into wealth. Her father Edwin was a lawyer, her grandfather had been a judge, and so she seemed destined for a life like any other woman of her pedigree – she would marry into a family of similar standing, bear many children, and die with hands as untarnished as the day she was born. But her family’s fortune was not to last, and war was brewing. Amelia’s life was to be anything but ordinary. From a young age, Amelia took an interest in pursuits outside of what was considered ‘proper’ for girls of her class. She spent her days climbing trees, shooting rats and collecting animal bones. When her mother gave her a pair of bloomers, it wasn’t just the older generations that disapproved; a girl at school branded her ‘fast’ because three inches of her calf was exposed when she crossed her legs. It was during one of her more ‘boyish’ moments that Amelia had her first experience of flying, inspired by a trip to the St Louis World’s Fair, where her mother had forbidden her from riding on the rollercoaster. Once back at home, Amelia set about building a rollercoaster of her very own using a wooden packing box and roller-skate wheels. She propped some wooden planks up against the tool shed roof to make a ramp, and clambered up for takeoff. Safely inside the box, she pushed herself off the edge only to tumble out of control down the steep incline, hit the ground, and somersault head over heels. As she emerged from the broken box, her lip
bruised and dress torn, she exclaimed to her sister: “Oh, Pidge, it’s just like flying.” However, her carefree childhood was to be cut short when it was discovered that her father was an alcoholic, and in 1914 he was forced to retire. At about the same time, Amelia’s maternal grandmother died, but left her daughter’s inheritance in trust for fear that Edwin’s drinking would drain the funds. With her home life in tatters, Amelia struggled to maintain her grades. When the USA joined World War I in 1917, she was traumatised by the sight of the returning soldiers, many with lost limbs, blind or on crutches. She couldn’t bear to return to school knowing so many were in need, so she signed up to become a nurse. The hours were long and the work was gruelling; Amelia felt a million miles away from the world she had been raised in. On her rare days off, she would head to the local stables, where she had succeeded in taming an unruly horse named Dynamite. One day while out riding, she came across three air force officers, who expressed their amazement at how well she controlled the horse – he had infamously once bucked off a colonel. They invited her to come and watch how they controlled their planes, and she was astounded by the beauty of the metal birds. She asked if she could go up with them, but was refused; not even a general’s wife can do that, they said. Frustrated by the injustice, she committed herself to finding a way to fly. With the war over, Amelia returned to live with her parents, who had relocated to California. The whole state had been swept up by an aviation craze, made popular by the big names of Hollywood. There were 20 airfields in Los Angeles alone, and every weekend at least one of them hosted an ‘air meet’. Amelia attended every one she could, and eventually got word of Neta Snook, a 24-year-old female pilot. Arriving at the airfield in a suit and
Amelia Earhart played a key role in the formation of The Ninety-Nines, an organisation for female pilots
Renowned trumpeter Louis Armstrong transformed jazz and changed the way music was performed during a career that spanned five decades
ell hello, Dolly! This is Louis, Dolly!” These words sung in an unmistakably gravelly voice brought renewed fame to Louis Armstrong, a jazz titan who transformed the art from ensemble performance to a vehicle for individual musical genius. Recorded in 1964 for release with the Broadway musical Hello, Dolly!, the single reached number one on the pop charts, displacing the Beatles. Armstrong’s brilliance was recognised by an entire generation of young listeners, while he remained one of the world’s most popular live performers. He followed that success with the release of What a Wonderful World in 1967, topping the charts in the United Kingdom and introducing another audience to the beloved 'Satchmo'. The career of Louis Armstrong transcends time and generational boundaries. First as a cornet and trumpet virtuoso and then as a composer, singer, and actor he influenced
the entire genre of jazz with a swing tempo, exuberant stage presence, expressive vocal interpretation, innovative solo performance, and a broad grin that became his trademark. Armstrong began his illustrious musical career in his hometown of New Orleans, Louisiana, and his incomparable talent soared during the Jazz Age. Born on 4 August 1901 to a factory worker father who abandoned the family when Louis was a baby and a mother who sometimes turned to prostitution for economic survival, the future superstar grew up in a New Orleans neighbourhood known as The Battleground. He got into trouble and was sent to the Colored Waif’s Home for Boys, where he was introduced to the cornet, discovering an affinity for music. Under Joe ‘King’ Oliver, the best-known cornet player in New Orleans, Louis was soon performing in local nightclubs. By age 18, he married a prostitute named Daisy Parker. Their violent relationship soon ended in divorce. Still, his career continued to blossom. When Oliver left for Chicago, Armstrong stepped in with the Kid Ory Band. He ended up playing riverboat engagements with the band of Fate Marable. By 1922, Armstrong had received a call from Oliver to come to Chicago, playing second cornet with the famous Creole Jazz Band. He made his first solo recording with Chimes Blues on 5 April 1923. Armstrong also married Lillian ‘Lil’ Hardin, the Creole Jazz Band piano player. The marriage lasted 14 years, and Lil pushed Louis to venture to New York, where he eventually played with Fletcher Henderson’s orchestra. Returning to Chicago in 1925, Armstrong played in Lil’s band and moved on to form his own group, the Hot Five (later the Hot Seven). He accompanied such popular singers as Bessie Smith, Empress of the Blues, and
switched to the trumpet in 1926. Along with pianist Earl Hines, Armstrong recorded some of the greatest music in jazz history in the late 1920s, including West End Blues and Weather Bird. In the Broadway musical revue ‘Connie’s Hot Chocolates’, Armstrong’s interpretation of the Fats Waller tune Ain’t Misbehavin' brought widespread acclaim. During the 1930s, he travelled to Europe and toured extensively, venturing into popular music and recording songs penned by some of the period’s most famous composers. In 1935, Armstrong hired Joe Glaser as his manager. Glaser brought Satchmo’s swingstyle trumpet to the radio, influencing every jazz musician who followed. Armstrong’s four-year marriage to Alpha Smith ended in 1942, but that year he married Lucille Wilson, a dancer at New York’s Cotton Club. They remained together for the rest of his life. He worked in films with such stars as Dick Powell and Mae West. As the Swing Era began to decline in the late 1940s and early 1950s, he led a small combo and recorded some of his biggest hits, including That Lucky Old Sun and La Vie En Rose. Armstrong’s broad appeal brought both fame and social acceptance in a racially divided America. He was sometimes criticised for his lack of political discourse and apparent indifference to the Civil Rights Movement. However, in its own way his success opened doors for other black performers. His style, wit and ever-present good nature were endearing, and his musical talent is timeless. In later years, Armstrong maintained a rigorous schedule, on the road sometimes 300 days a year. He suffered multiple heart attacks and died in his sleep at the age of 69 on 6 July 1971. At his funeral the honorary pallbearers included Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, Johnny Carson, Ella Fitzgerald, Pearl Bailey, and Count Basie.
Louis Armstrong strikes a pose
Satchmo and Civil Rights Critics sometimes claimed that Louis Armstrong did little to advance the cause of the Civil Rights Movement and that his congenial style harkened to an earlier, somewhat racially subservient era in American culture. Although he rarely commented on race relations or the effort to achieve racial equality, he did speak out forcefully in 1957 when Arkansas Governor Orval Faubus vowed to prevent nine black students from enrolling and attending classes at Little Rock Central High School. Faubus called out the Arkansas National Guard to block their entry, and Armstrong responded by blasting President Dwight D Eisenhower for his perceived lack of leadership. In Armstrong’s opinion, Eisenhower
was allowing Faubus to guide the nation’s perspective and willingness to comply with desegregation. He called the president “twofaced” and “gutless” during the crisis and cancelled a tour of the Soviet Union that had been scheduled by the US State Department as a gesture of international goodwill. “The way they are treating my people in the South, the government can go to hell!” he declared. The usually soft-spoken entertainer electrified the public with his strong criticism of the Eisenhower administration and the condition of race relations in the country. In retrospect, his decision to avoid commentary concerning the Civil Rights Movement probably emphasised the power and effect of his remarks concerning the Little Rock crisis.
Although his criticism of the state of affairs was seldom heard in the media, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) maintained a dossier on Armstrong to document his political activities.
Through his paintings of soup cans and Hollywood celebrities, avant-garde pioneer Andy Warhol forced America to reconsider what constitutes art
the city’s most successful and highly paid f you want to know all about Andy Warhol,” commercial illustrators. the artist once said, “just look at the surface From the late-1950s onwards, Warhol of my paintings and films and me, and there began to experiment with reproductions I am. There’s nothing behind it.” While Warhol based on well-known adverts, newspaper was keen to portray himself as a vacuous headlines and other mass-produced images figure, only interested in celebrity and making from American popular culture. He gained money, this was far from the truth. One of the almost overnight notoriety in 1962, when he most influential artists of the 20th century, exhibited paintings of Campbell’s soup cans, Warhol was a leading figure in the pop art Coca-Cola bottles and wooden statues shaped movement, which blurred the lines between like towers of Brillo soap-pad boxes. Causing fine art and mainstream aesthetics. a major stir in the art world, both Warhol Any biography of Warhol is a tricky task, as the artist loved inventing (often contradictory) and pop art were brought into the national spotlight for the first time, forcing many to stories about his childhood. But we do know reevaluate what constituted art. that Andrew Warhola was born on 6 August Warhol continued in this vein for some 1928 to Ruthenian immigrant parents from time, producing images of everyday goods, what is now eastern Slovakia, and grew including vacuum cleaners and hamburgers. up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. In 1949 he He also began producing vividly garish graduated from the Carnegie Institute of portraits based on photographs of Technology with a degree in pictorial famous celebrities. While his 1962 design. He dropped the ‘a’ from Marilyn Diptych is the most his name and soon landed a Warhol’s famous example, Elizabeth job at Glamour magazine in birth date was Taylor, Elvis Presley, Mick New York. Within a decade of never recorded at a Jagger and even communist his graduation – even before hospital and he liked leader Mao Zedong received his art started appearing in to celebrate it at different times the same treatment. galleries – Warhol was among each year Even the way Warhol made art seemed to serve as a commentary on mass culture. Most of his paintings were produced using a technique called screenprinting. This allowed Warhol to create lots of artworks that look the same very quickly, while also being able to switch colours. From 1964, Warhol took this approach to its logical conclusion and established an art studio he called The Factory. In this silver-painted warehouse, Warhol employed numerous assistants to help him produce prints en masse. While day-today life in The Factory has been mythologised as more debauched and hedonistic than it
Andy Warhol lies unconscious following the attempt on his life in 1968
actually was, the studio certainly became one of New York City’s premier social hot-spots, hosting many lavish parties where socialites and celebrities frequently mixed with hustlers and transvestites. As the 1960s progressed, Warhol moved into filmmaking. He produced more than 60 movies during his career. Highly avant-garde, these included Sleep (1963), which depicts poet John Giorno sleeping for six hours, and Eat (1963), which shows a man eating a mushroom for 45 minutes. Chelsea Girls (1966) was Warhol’s first major commercial hit film, following the lives of several glamorous young women that lived at the Hotel Chelsea. Many of the personalities that appeared in Warhol’s artworks, including Baby Jane Holzer, Edie Sedgwick and Candy Darling, became famous in their own right. Warhol also managed acclaimed rock band The Velvet Underground, bankrolling their early recording sessions, hiring them to play during his Exploding Plastic Inevitable art installation, and supplying the iconic print of a banana for their 1967 debut album, The Velvet Underground & Nico. Warhol died unexpectedly after gall-bladder surgery in 1987. In his will, the artist dictated that his entire estate be used to create a foundation for “the advancement of the visual arts”. The Andy Warhol Foundation was established that same year, while much of the artist’s work is today housed in the Andy Warhol Museum in his native Pittsburgh – the largest museum dedicated to a single artist in the United States. What’s more, it's fitting that the artist who coined the phrase “15 minutes of fame” achieved a level of stardom that made him as instantly recognisable – with his trademark shock of white hair, black leather jacket and glasses – as a Campbell’s soup can.
“Chelsea Girls was Warhol’s first major commercial hit film”
Andy Warhol paints the Statue of Liberty in Paris, France, 1986
On 3 June 1968, Warhol was nearly killed by writer Valerie Solanas at his studio. She shot at him three times, the first two missing before the third struck. The bullet pierced both the artist’s lungs, as well as passing through his spleen, stomach, liver and esophagus. Solanas also shot art critic Mario Amaya and attempted to shoot Warhol’s manager, Fred Hughes, before turning herself into the police. A fringe figure at The Factory, Solanas asked Warhol to produce her play Up Your Ass in 1966. She later accused him of losing her script and demanded financial compensation, so Warhol cast Solanas in his 1967 film I, a Man. That same year, Solana began self-publishing her defining work, the radical feminist SCUM Manifesto – short for Society for Cutting Up
Men. When Olympia Press boss Maurice Girodias offered her a book deal, Solanas grew concerned this would mean he would own the rights to her writing. Developing a paranoid fantasy that Girodias and Warhol were conspiring against her, Solanas bought a gun in 1968. As a result of his injuries, Warhol had to undergo a five-hour emergency operation and wear a surgical corset for the rest of his life. Warhol’s near-death experience may have inspired his 1981 silkscreen Gun, featuring a .22 snub-nosed pistol, similar to Solanas's gun. This was part of a series of 232 works by Warhol depicting firearms. Solanas was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and served one year of a three-year prison sentence.
The shooting of Andy Warhol
His work Silver Car Crash (Double Disaster) sold for $105 million (£65.5m) in the US in 2013
A Sioux Indian chief and spiritual leader determined to protect traditional ways of life
fter two days of fierce fighting near the Little Bighorn River on the plains of eastern Montana in 1876, 600 men led by George Armstrong Custer were defeated by a confederation of 3,000 warriors from Native American tribes. Custer himself was killed, as were two of his brothers, a nephew and a brother-in-law. The total US casualty count was 268 dead and 55 injured. For Lakota chief and holy man Sitting Bull, this was a great victory in the violent and desperate struggle for the Sioux tribes’ survival on the North American Great Plains. It was also the realisation of a vision the medicine man had experienced at a ceremony not three months earlier. Throughout the 19th century, native Sioux tribes had been pushed further and further west as white settlers expanded into the American heartland from the colonies on the eastern seaboard. The Great Sioux wars of the 1870s culminated in the Battle of the Little Bighorn, where Custer’s infamous last stand took place. The natives saw the battle as their last chance to save their homelands and they fought with desperation and determination. “The whites want a war and we will give it to them”, said Sitting Bull. After decades of seeing tribes lose their lands to white men and being forced to live on government controlled reservations, the tribes united in their struggle for survival under the leadership of Sitting Bull, who remained defiant toward American military power and contemptuous of American promises. Born on the Grand River in present-day South Dakota, Sitting Bull was originally named Slow by his chieftain father because he was always very careful and slow to take action. Slow grew up as a typical child in the Lakota Sioux tribe. He learned how to ride horses, shoot a bow and hunt buffalo, and he dreamt of one day becoming a great warrior. A scout who met Sitting Bull when he was still a boy described him in a later account as “a boy of rather stocky appearance, not ‘straight
as an arrow’ like the traditional Indian. He was fearless under all circumstances, a magnificent rider, an accurate shot and capable of enduring an extraordinary amount of fatigue.” At 14, Slow joined his first war party, taking part in a battle against the Crow tribe, where he bravely charged a warrior and knocked him down. When the party returned to camp, Slow’s father gave him the name Sitting Bull in honour of his bravery. It was a name he would live up to throughout his life. Because his tribe lived and hunted north of the early routes of western travel, Sitting Bull had little contact with white men until the 1862 Santee Sioux uprising, an armed conflict between the US and several bands of the eastern Sioux. The defeated Sioux were driven west to the plains where Sitting Bull, now a chief himself, heard what life was like on a government-controlled reservation, and began to understand that pacts with white men rarely lasted. Desperate for his people to retain their culture, traditions and sacred lands, Sitting Bull resolved to keep his tribe Native Americans were rounded up in reservations by the American government
What he was fighting against
Indian reservations Toward the end of the 19th century, following decades of westward expansion, the US signed treaties with surrendering Native Americans or conquered those who resisted encroachment into their homelands. In exchange for large tracts of land and the valuable natural resources they contained, the government agreed to provide reservations, off-limits to new white settlers. The end of traditions Beside the moral problem of depriving a people of life on their historic land, many issues plagued the reservations. Nomadic tribes, now confined, lost their means of subsistence. Farmers found themselves with land unsuitable for agriculture and hostile tribes were often forced into the same areas. The results were disastrous. Driven to war After treaties were made with the Plains Indians in 1861, white miners were able to cross the Great Plains by using the Bozeman Trail, with the US Army building forts along the trail to protect them. The trail ran through the Sioux’ buffalo hunting grounds, making their traditional way of life almost impossible. The Sioux responded with war. Loss of more land In 1887, the Dawes General Allotment Act was passed. It tried to weaken traditional bonds of Indian society by making land ownership private rather than shared. The government broke up reservation land and distributed it to individuals, selling the remainder. It reduced the remaining Native Americancontrolled land by about two-thirds. Battle of Wounded Knee When Sioux tribes protested, the US Army shot and killed at least 150 near Wounded Knee Creek in South Dakota in 1890. Because of this massacre, The Ghost Dance, a religious movement prophesying the return of buffalo herds and disappearance of the settlers, gradually died out.
At a sun dance ceremony on the Little Bighorn River, Sitting Bull danced for 36 hours
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