Female television game show hosts have been few and far between. Though some women have been able to step into hosting roles, the world of game shows is still largely dominated by men. This week’s Throwback Thursday post is all about three of the women who have made their marks on one of the most popular genres of television since the medium’s inception.
Arlene Francis is perhaps best known as a panelist on the enduring classic television game show, What’s My Line?, on which she appeared regularly for 25 years. While she is well remembered for her appearances on What’s My Line?, she is much less remembered for the work she did on her very own long-running game show, Blind Date. Francis got her first radio role, on the show The March of Time, in 1931. She worked on radio throughout the 1930s and 1940s, and landed the opportunity to host the new radio matchmaking show, Blind Date,in 1943. Upon the decline of radio and the rise of television throughout the 1940s, Francis began to worry that her career as a radio personality would end. However, when Blind Datemoved from radio to television on May 5, 1949, Francis was given the opportunity to host that version of the show as well. She continued as host until 1952, when a new male host stepped in. In taking her hosting gig from radio to television, Francis became the first ever female television game show host. Her success on Blind Dateled to her appearances on What’s My Line?, as well as to her being casted as the first female emcee, or “femcee,” of the popular television variety show, Your Show of Shows. On top of her ongoing work on television, Francis went back to her radio career in 1961 with The Arlene Francis Show, which ran for nearly three decades until 1990.
Today marks the 162nd anniversary of abolitionist, suffragist, and former slave, Sojourner Truth’s impassioned speech at the Women’s Rights Convention, known today as the “Ain’t I a Woman?” speech. The convention was held in Akron, Ohio on May 28-29, 1851. Truth’s words portrayed women as strong, resilient and intelligent, and called into question the institution of slavery.
Did you know that today marks the 81st anniversary that Amelia Earhart became the first woman to complete a solo transatlantic flight in less than 15 hours? Now there’s an historical woman who rocked!
Amelia was born in Kansas in 1897, and lived in Iowa and Minnesota before graduating from high school in Illinois. She did a semester of work at a small college in Pennsylvania then went to Canada to work in a military hospital during World War I. It was there that she met aviators and developed her lifelong love of flying. Read the rest of this entry »
If you like Motown music, you may be familiar with Berry Gordy, founder of Motown Records and genius behind the “Motown Sound” that swept the nation and world in the 1960s. But have you heard of Esther Gordy Edwards, Berry Gordy’s sister? Edwards started a co-op to provide money to family members in times of need and, in 1959, Gordy approached his family needing an $800 loan to start a record label. Gordy’s family members all agreed, except Edwards who questioned whether her brother could successfully run a business after a series of taking and leaving numerous jobs. She eventually decided to loan Gordy the money, which he put toward what would become Motown Records. Gordy later stated that his sister’s reluctance to lend him the money made him decide that he wanted her, out of their seven other siblings, to run the business side of the company. Read the rest of this entry »
There’s been a whole lot of jazz about the Jazz Age lately. With all the buzz over the recent release of The Great Gatsby, it seems that this high-rollin’, party loving, decadent era in our nation’s past has officially been resurrected! So we decided to join the celebration and focus this week’s Foodie Friday post on what women were cooking, eating and serving their families in the roaring 20s.
It’s #Throwback Thursday at NWHM and today we’re paying homage to the bicycle. May is National Bicycle Month and we thought it would be fun to highlight some the ways that this zippy invention has historically impacted the lives of American women. So what do bikes have to do with women? It turns out that they had a revolutionary impact on the women’s movement of the early 20th century. Here are some interesting facts:
Fact #1: The origins of the bicycle are shrouded in mystery—it’s very difficult to attribute just one person to its invention. But on June 26, 1819, W. K. Clarkson, Jr. of New York received a patent for a velocipede (a human-powered land vehicle with one or more wheels), and beginning in the 1860s Americans, both men and women, began to show an interest in the contraption. Read the rest of this entry »
Katherine Siva Saubel was a member of the Cahuilla Indian tribe of California and one of the last speakers of the Cahuilla language. As a child, Saubel attended a public school where she was told to speak only in English and saw other Native American children beaten for speaking their native language. Though she witnessed the firsthand affects of not abandoning her background, she felt it was important to preserve the Cahuilla language and she spent a lifetime ensuring her culture was not erased from history. Read the rest of this entry »
In last week’s Throwback Thursday post, we showed you a bunch of sexist advertisements from the 1950s and 1960s that chastise women for not properly fulfilling their prescribed gender roles. This week, we would like to highlight some ads from the same period that show women’s changing roles and/or flip gender roles around altogether.
Check out this commercial for Ajax Liquid Cleanser where a husband offers to clean the kitchen floor for his wife. The wife comes into the kitchen, tells her husband that he is using the wrong product, and rolls her eyes when he questions what she is saying. He eventually agrees with her and uses Ajax to clean the floor. Unlike most of its contemporaries, this commercial is actually quite similar to many of today’s ads that portray men as incompetent around the house (see, for example, the Swiffer “Man Up, Clean Up” ads, such as this one that “teaches” men how to clean a kitchen floor). Read the rest of this entry »
When she was 10 years old, Betty Skelton asked her parents for flying lessons. She flew solo in a plane for the first time when she was 12 and received her pilot’s license when she was 16. In 1946, when she was 20, she embarked on a career performing in aerobatics shows because women were not allowed in commercial aviation. As an aerobatics performer, Skelton was a three-time women’s international aerobatics champion and she broke two altitude world records. One of her most infamous feats was completing the “inverted ribbon cut,” where a pilot flies a plane upside down 12 feet above the ground to cut a ribbon hanging between two poles. She was the first woman to pull off the stunt.
In the 1950s, Skelton began her second career as a race car driver after meeting the founder of NASCAR. She was the first female test driver and the first female Indy race car driver. She set multiple speed records, including four women’s land speed records and a transcontinental speed record in 1956, when she drove from New York to Los Angeles in less than 57 hours. For her successful career in racing, Skelton was inducted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America.
Betty Skelton holds more combined aircraft and automotive records than anyone – female or male. Her groundbreaking careers opened doors for women in both fields and earned her the nickname “First Lady of Firsts.” In 1959, she was allowed to train with the Mercury 7 astronauts at the behest of Look magazine, who did a cover story on her entitled, “Should a Girl Be First in Space?” After retiring from aerobatics and racing, Skelton also had careers in advertising and real estate. She died of cancer in 2011 at age 85.
Bestseller: "Betty Crocker's Picture Cook Book" published in 1950
Betty Crocker is a cultural icon. For over 80 years she has been a mainstay in American kitchens—a “kitchen confidante” offering advice to troubled bakers who couldn’t figure out why their cakes wouldn’t rise or how to make their pancakes fluffier.
Betty’s maternal and reassuring guidance was a comfort to many women, especially during the interwar period, so it may come as a surprise to many to learn that Betty Crocker never actually existed! Read the rest of this entry »