Cole Porter

Kiss Me Kate

QUESTION:  Which of the following musicals was not inspired by a Shakespeare play?
A)  The Lion King
B)  West Side Story
C)  Spamalot
D)  My Fair Lady
ANSWER BELOW

The American Treasure Tour blog has spent some time exploring the famous people depicted in lithographs hanging in our Toy Box. Today, we are going to shift just a little bit to the right of them Specifically, to a collection of original watercolor paintings that depict Broadway Musicals. They were created by artist and theater lover John M. Savidge, and we have only a small representation of his works displayed currently, with the hope that more will be available to enjoy in the future.  The first plays performed on Broadway in New York City occurred in the 1750's. The city was small back then, so the theaters were located in what is now considered the financial district, down by Nassau Street. As the city grew over the years, the theater district moved. By the turn of the twentieth century it reached the location where it would remain to this day - between 42nd and 53rd Streets, surrounding Broadway. All forms of entertainment happened in these theaters, but they have become most closely associated with musicals over the years. Today's Savidge painting we would like to highlight is 1949's Kiss Me Kate.

Few would even try to challenge the statement that William Shakespeare is the greatest of all playwrights. Kiss Me Kate is the story of a stage production of Shakespeare's Taming of the Shrew and the behind-the-scenes dramas of the various actors performing the show-within-a-show. Released in 1949, it was Cole Porter's response to the hugely popular Oklahoma! by Rodgers and Hammerstein - one of the most popular plays ever to be performed. Kiss Me Kate did quite well in its own right, and gave Oklahoma! a run for its money.  In 2015, the original Broadway recording of its soundtrack was placed on the prestigious Library of Congress' National Recording Registry due to its "cultural, artistic, and/or historical significance to American society and the nation's audio legacy."  Easily, one of the most recognizable songs from the show is Porter's classic "Too Darn Hot."

ANSWER:  C) Spamalot. That was inspired by the King Arthur story, which predates Shakespeare by a few hundred years. The Lion King is a loose adaptation of Hamlet, West Side Story takes the Romeo and Juliet storyline to a new level, and My Fair Lady is taken from George Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion, which is a reinterpretation of Shakespeare's Taming of the Shrew.  Nobody said this stuff was easy!

Pep Boys - June 9, 2014

Veteran visitors of the American Treasure Tour will almost certainly agree that our collection is ... different.  Across the board.  While it is dominated by the automatic musical machines and the classic cars, there are certainly many hundreds - most certainly thousands - of other pieces here that will trigger long-forgotten memories.  There are also artifacts here for businesses that continue to remain popular.

Today, we would like to talk a little bit about the Pep Boys.  A large statue of Manny, Moe and Jack welcomes tram riders as they enter the antique car room.  Established in 1921 by four friends - Emanuel "Manny" Rosenfeld, Maurice "Moe" Strauss, Graham "Jack" Jackson and Moe Radavitz (with Radavitz bowing out two years later) - Pep Auto Supplies named themselves after Pep Valve grinding compound.  The moniker "Pep Boys" was given to them by a local policeman, who directed night-time drivers to go to "the boys at Pep" to buy oil wicks for their cars when their headlights were out.  So began a Philadelphia-based institution that has expanded into 35 states and the territory of Puerto Rico.  

QUESTION:  In what year was the first non-founding family member of the Pep Boys promoted to the position of company president?

a)  1946

b)  1959

c)  1986

d)  2013

Answer Below

HISTORY TODAY:

On this day in 1732, Britisher James Oglethorpe received a charter from King George to start his own colony in North America.  That colony, named Georgia after the king, would be regarded as a buffer between Spanish Florida and the British Carolinas.  It would also be the only American colony to rebel against British rule in 1776 whose proprietor (or creator) would be alive to see it become independent.

The Cold War dominated the 1950s.  For some, this was an opportunity to exploit American fears to further their own private ambitions.  One such person was Joseph McCarthy, a Wisconsin-based Senator.  McCarthy's name became forever associated with Communist witch hunts, accusing people of ties to the enemy.  Regardless of the legitimacy of these claims, many careers were ruined.  On this day in 1954, McCarthy's ambitions turned against the U.S. Army.  A big mistake.  Finally, he had gone too far, and in a special hearing his reputation was effectively destroyed.

BIRTHDAYS:

Born in England in 1768, Samuel Slater was apprenticed to a mill owner during the Industrial Revolution at a time when British business owners were extremely secretive with the technology behind their mills.  Slater memorized their mills, then recreated British mills in the young United States, effectively starting a new, different type of revolution in America. Condemned as a traitor to England, he was hailed as a hero to Americans.  

A talent entered the world today in 1891 whose influence on music is still strongly felt.  His name was Cole Porter.  Born in Peru, Indiana to wealthy parents, Porter spent many years travelling the world and enjoying himself.  He wrote his first hit musical at the age of 36, called Paris, and never looked back.  Many of the songs he wrote over the next few decades remain popular today:  "Night and Day," "You're the Top," "I Get a Kick Out of You," and too many more to list here.  Happy birthday, Cole.  And thanks for the music!

QUOTE:  All the world loves a clown. - Cole Porter

Answer:  c)  1986.  In 1946, Pep Boys went public, and Manny became the first corporate president. He died in 1959, and the next year Moe took over.  When Mitch Liebovitz replaced him in 1986, he became the first non-founding president.