The Seeburg Family, Part 2 - May 9, 2014

Today, we resume our tale of automatic music.  To quickly rehash what we discussed yesterday, Julius Seeburg came to the United States from Sweden, did stuff, and started an electric piano company with some co-investors.  That happened in 1902.  Within seven years, he had enough money saved to form the Seeburg Company, which distributed the Marquette Piano Company's line of Cremona coin pianos.  Soon, Seeburg was making and distributing his own machines, using the talents of his two best engineers - Oscar Nelson and Peter Wiggen (who would go off on their own in 1920 to start their own orchestrion company).  Seeburg's company became one of the most successful sellers of nickelodeons in the country.  Between 1921 and 1928, they continued to grow and  surpassed their number one competitor in orchestrion production towards the late 1920's - The Wurlitzer Company.  

Of course, by 1929, orchestrions had become largely obsolete.  Technology had moved beyond the technology of these beautiful machines.  Seeburg adapted, and started selling their first coin-operated phonographs, also known as jukeboxes.  In 1934, Julius Seeburg handed the reins of the company over to his son, Noel Marshall Seeburg.  The younger Seeburg understood the new technology better than his father, who remained involved until his death in 1958 at the age of 87.  N. Marshall added plastic to the family's jukeboxes, and made the first machines lit behind the plastic coverings that were imitated more famously by Wurlitzer.  Seeburg remained in business until the end of the 1970s, when compact discs entered the market and effectively ended the jukebox era, just as the jukebox had ended the nickelodeon era decades before. The Seeburg name was retired in 1979.  

QUESTION:

What company produced the jukebox used in the opening credits for the popular sitcom Happy Days?

a)  Seeburg

b)  Wurlitzer

c)  Rowe

d)  BAL-AMI

e)  Rock-Ola

Answer Below

HISTORY TODAY:

The American Treasure Tour blog writing committee recognizes that, because that, since "American" is part of our name, we do what we can to keep our doses of daily history on American soil.  So, when we announce our first anniversary today, we recognize that some of you may get a little upset, since we are briefly travelling overseas.  But we think this is an important enough event to justify it, and it is certainly relevant to Americans.  So don't be too harsh towards us.  But today signifies the 69th anniversary of the ratification of the terms of unconditional surrender on the part of Germany that ended World War II.  It would only be a little over three months from now when Japan would also surrender unconditionally, marking the end of the worst war ever to confront the nations and peoples of the world.  Hopefully forever.

1974.  Not considered the best year ever in American politics.  Today was certainly not the best day during President Richard Nixon's second term in office, either.  In fact, today marks the beginning of the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee formal and public impeachment proceedings against him.  Spoiler alert: this would lead to his voluntary resignation in August. (It took about as long to compel Nixon to resign as it had Japan's surrender after V-E Day.  Weird.)

BIRTHDAYS:

One of the most difficult challenges faced by the ATT bloggers is deciding who to honor in our birthday section.  Do we go with important historical figures (today's birthday is shared by John Brown and Anton Cermak), more obscure people (like Richard Barthelmess or Francis Biddle), or contemporary artists?  Today, we are going with the latter, and would like to begin with James L. Brooks.  Not because he's turning 74, and not because he's made some great movies - including Terms of Endearment, Broadcast News and As Good As It Gets, but because of his involvement in some of the best American television ever.  We are speaking, of course, of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Room 222, and Taxi - all of which he created.  And, most importantly to some, for his driving influence on the longest-running sitcom in American history.  Also the yellowist.  Thank you, Mr. Brooks, for helping bring The Simpsons to our televisions for a (no lie) quarter of a century.

Next up is a smart, pretty and talented actor/producer who is one of very few celebrities who can claim to have been born in Beverly Hills, California.  Candace Bergen was born in 1946.  The daughter of famous comedian/ventriloquist/actor Edgar Bergen and "Chesterfield Girl" Frances Westerman, she has been in front of the camera for six decades.  Her debut was in the 1966 film The Group, which delved into the then-highly controversial topic of lesbianism, and she has not stopped acting since.  She was a regular guest star during the first seasons of Saturday Night Live, then the star of Murphy Brown for its ten-season run during the 1980s and 90s.  She continues to receive accolades for her acting, and does not seem close to slowing down yet.

QUOTE:  Memory is the first casualty of old age, if I remember correctly. - Candace Bergen

Answer:  a)  Seeburg.  Today's blog is about Seeburg, so it is really the only choice.  It was a 1952 Seeburg MC100.