The Golden Age of Entertainment

By: Brooke Habit, Peter Feinman, Madison Raynor, and Delanie Peacott
This is  a typical radio. In the 1930s the radio was importants as, Americans began to recieve the news “on their local radio stations, in addition to newspapers” (Feinstein 25).
This is a typical radio. In the 1930s the radio was importants as, Americans began to recieve the news “on their local radio stations, in addition to newspapers” (Feinstein 25).

During the 1930s people sought the light at the end of the tunnel, the end of the Depression, but until they reached it they could rely on entertainment. The six main kinds of entertainment were radio, music, movies, do-it-yourself fun/children's activities, dancing, and sports.
Fun Facts:
Although a hard time for many, the United States "wins 10 gold medals and has the best overall team performance"(1932 Timeline paragraph 3).
After its release in 1938, "Snow White and the Seven Dwarf's," attained being the," biggest grossing film of the decade.. (1938 Timeline paragraph 3).

Background Information
Peter Feinman

Movies: Currently, movies are full of color, but before the 1930s, they were all monochrome, which means they were black-and-white, and some movies did not have sound. In the 1930s, thanks to technical advances, the seemingly limitless amount of money, many talented writers and actors from New York, and directors and technicians from overseas people were able to create interesting movies that conatained sound in color, which contributed to make the 1930s the golden era in Hollywood Cinema (Bondi 57). Although, monochrome movies were still popular until the 1970s because “most directors preferred the more subtle and atmospheric images they could achieve with monochrome” (Parkinson 38). At the same time “color was also expensive,” which is another reason why directors still created balck-and-white movies (Parkinson 38). One of the most important color inventions was “in 1932 the improvement of three-color Technicolor from the two-color process invented in 1926 enabled studios to create ‘A pictures’ that looked markedly different from the B movies” (Bondi 57). The last main aspect of Movies were the studios and production executives. Studios had many jobs including running “their own chains of movie theaters in addition to producing and distributing films” (Bondi 58). Just like each business has an owner, “Each studio was guided by production executives such as Jack Warner at Warner Bros. or Darryl Zanuck at 20th Century Fox, men who worked with an annual budget dictated by the New York office to create a year’s worth of entertainment” (Bondi 58). The main job of “These executives were Micromanagers: they not only coordinated plant operations and conducted contact negotiations, but they also developed stories and scripts, screened dailies, and supervised editing. The fact that movies “drew eighty-five million people a week to movie theaters” makes it easier for movie critics to agree that the most important history in film was during the Depression era (Bondi 57-58).

Music: One of the most common forms of music listened to in the 1930s was jazz music, which is when “we saw jazz begin to ‘grexternal image article2-4.jpgow up,’ diversify, and become a mature art form that could adapt and spread into all other genres of music” (Nash paragraph 1). Jazz music was played throughout many different “communities that thrived in the south and primarily in the African American community, but the earliest and most recognizable forms of jazz first took shape in the magnificent city of New Orleans (Nash paragraph 2). Also, it was here, in New Orleans, “that Carribean music blended with European composition and southern blues to produce this very unique musical form known as jazz” (Nash paragraph 2). Two main types of jazz music were Dixieland jazz and Sweet Jazz. Dixieland jazz was one of the first types of jazz, which “had a very unique style and structure that put a great deal of emphasis on the individual performers,” which the people greatly admired (Nash paragraph 5). On the other hand, Sweet jazz appreciated because it used different instruments like violins and it was more disciplined, which separated it from the rest of the sub-genres of jazz (Nash paragraph 6). Finally, at first, jazz music was only listened to by African American communities and young people at high school and college campuses, but “Slowly but surely, the music industry introduced the seductive music of jazz to older generations and to the white population of the county as well” (Nash paragraph 4).

Children’s Toys: There were many forms of children’s entertainment in the 1930s, but the three of the most common forms were toys, games, and organized activites. Among the many toys during this time period, the most “popular toys in the 1930s included Yo-Yos, wooden wagons, pick-up sticks, and bolo bats, which are wooden paddles with rubber balls attached by an elastic string” (Watkins paragraph 2). Children’s toys were also separated by gender. For example, “boys often played with metal army soldiers and meccano sets,” but girls did not (Watkins paragraph 2). Meccano sets offered a type of free play where boys built structures and machines on a large metal construction set (Watkins paragraph 2). Girls also had many toys specific to their gender including “wooden table and chair sets,” which “allowed girls to build their own creative scenarios” (Watkins paragraph 2).

Children’s Games: Sports and free play were both main types of games that children were involved in. Children would often play sports, like baseball and hockey, in a pick-up fashion because organized sports were rare outside of school (Watkins paragraph 4). If kids wanted to spend time with their friends, but they did not want to participate in sports, then children would “spend time outdoors in neighborhood stings and engaged in imaginative open play” (Watkins paragraph 3).JewsAndBaseball-Film.jpg

Children’s Organized Activities:By far, the most important and common organized activity in the 1930s was “The Boys and Girl Scouts of America,” which “occupied children’s time by teaching them the values of citizenship and community” (Watkins paragraph 4). Boys and Girl Scouts taught different lessons, and “Boy Scouts taught outdoorsmen skills,” “meanwhile, the Girl Scouts sponsored
depression relief efforts in the form of food drives, donations of clothing, creating wooden toys, and sewing quilts,” so girls scouts were more focused on community and service (Watkins paragraph 4). A fun fact about Girl Scouts in the in this period is that “they also began selling their signature Girl Scout cookies in the 1930s,” which is still a big hit today (Watkins paragraph 4).

Poetry: There were many legendary poets throughout the 1930s, but Langston Hughes, who is generally considered the brightest and most recognized star of the Harlem Renaissance, was definitely one of the best. He wrote poems wherever he went including one time when he was on a train, and as he “crossed the Mississippi River into the city of St. Louis, the young writer penned ‘The Negro Speaks of Rivers’” (Howes 57).

The Radio
Madison Raynor
It is astonishing that "despite their often desperate economic troubles, Lewis writes, Americans were reluctant to part with their radios that kept them connected to the world" (Gerdes 159). This goes to show that no matter the economic struggle being faced, Americans were unwilling to give up their way of staying in touch. Especially because everything was happening at once, "the movies were central in the crisis, and in the crises themselves as a business, but now radio was breathless with the simultaneity" (Thomson 106). The thirties was a decade of great despair around the world and especially in the United States. However, “between 1929 and 1939 the number of U.S. homes equipped with radios rose from about 12 million to 28 million” (Lindop 103). Why? Many people had little to no money but this was not stopping them from receiving the daily news and broadcasts concerning the country bankruptcy. “Although entertainment shows occupied much of the broadcast day, radio was becoming the primary carrier of news and information” because it was so easy and applicable to this simple minded era (Batchelor 65). Money was no concern to these entertainment fanatics, “between 1930 and 1932, the price of a radio in America fell by half (Thomson 106). During this period, “Four million receivers were purchased, and by 1934 the medium reached 60 percent of the country” (Thomson 106). In other words, even during a struggling time entertainment helped shed some light on the country that had gone bankrupt.

IB Learner Traits
Brooke Habit
Entertainment during the 1930s most logically connects to the IB learner trait of communicator. Entertainment was a pathway for many to explain their wants and needs. A person creating a film or upbeat song was explaining what most desperately needed; happiness and a distraction from the harsh times of the Depression. Then, when those songs, movies, stories, and more were presented they communicated the wants of the people and allowed many to focus on the positive perspective of stories or music.6a00d83451ccbc69e200e54f870be88834-800wi.jpg

In addition, entertainment could communicate the multiple wants and needs of people in many creative ways. Entertainment could show the difficult life that some were living, but end a story with triumph. For example, in the popular 30s film, “The Wizard of Oz,” the storyline showed a young girl being put into a difficult, unpredictable situation that she did not understand, nor know how to escape. However, in the end, she survives and lives her life better than before. This showed many who were facing extreme struggles that they could survive their situation and communicated hope for an end. Next, entertainment explained to many through music that happiness or peace could still be found in a tough time. For example, “big bands and swing music were popular, with Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman, and Glenn miller popular bandleaders” who presented upbeat music that easily distracted people from their worries and lifted their spirits (“Fun Facts-1930s” paragraph 3). In addition to these specific examples, entertainment communicated American’s wants and needs through radio, literature, and even board games such as Monopoly (“Having Fun-Family Life During the Great Depression” paragraph 1). This then allowed people to remain open minded about their future because, as stated previously, it demonstrated that extreme hardships could still result in triumph. This allowed many to remain in a positive frame of mind because they felt hope through films, literature, and other forms of entertainment.

Connection to Health and Social Education
Brooke Habit
“Scarlett’s fitting last line, ‘Tomorrow is another day,’ was a fitting message of hope to end a decade during which some believed all hope was lost” (Nardo 25). This symbolized what so many people were feeling. It was movies and books like these that encouraged people to hold on hope.
“Scarlett’s fitting last line, ‘Tomorrow is another day,’ was a fitting message of hope to end a decade during which some believed all hope was lost” (Nardo 25). This symbolized what so many people were feeling. It was movies and books like these that encouraged people to hold on hope.

Entertainment impacted people’s health in an emotional way. It lifted people’s spirits because it “was one way to leave behind worries about crops, weather, and money” (“Having Fun-Family Life During the Great Depression” paragraph 4). It distracted them from the hardships they were facing and helped them think about the life they will one day have or regain. Entertainment really was a relief for people in the 1930s and helped them focus on the future. However, “like many other businesses in the Depression, the mass media were forced to scale down and pay close attention to what the public wanted” (Bondi 345). Entertainment had to change and focus on the needs of the public, which was hope that their desire of extreme hardships be proven true. This was evident in movies, and even sports at certain times.

A loved movie of the thirties was “Gone with the Wind,” which showed a girl being put into unpredictable situations and struggling to survive through economic hardships. However, she fights through them and ends up as a better person. This is exactly the kind of thing that the public desired; they wanted to be able to turn to entertainment to escape their struggles with a positive film or novel. This in return would also lift people’s spirits and allow not only for them to escape their struggles, but feel that they would soon end. All aspects of entertainment in the 1930s have continued into today and influenced how the public acts and feels. After studying entertainment’s affect on people so deeply, it is easier to comprehend how the emotional side of something can make a bigger impact than anything else on a person. Entertainment was significant during the 1930s and is still important today because it is an escape for those facing extreme hardships. “The 1930s were a time of grief and sorrow for the American populations due to the Great Depression, but society did have something to hold on to and that was entertainment”; it carried many through the tough times and will continue to do so in the future (“Entertainment of the 1930s” paragraph 1).

Connection of Topic to Current Day Events
Delanie Peacott
Although not an obvious connection the use of movies in the 1930s is similar to ABC Family’s own twenty five days of Christmas. Even though the movies are being watched under different circumstances, they evoke the same emotions. In the 1930s “Movies raised the people’s spirits,” and they still do today (Nardo 18). Movies were used to encourage people to hold onto hope and celebrate the good in their lives whereas today the ABC movies remind people of happy childhood memories and other happy times in their lives. No matter what occasion movies stir emotion in everyone whether providing a distraction from the hardships one is facing or reminding them of a happy time. This is what links the popularity of movies in the 1930s to the popularity of the twenty five days of Christmas movie specials today.

Another example of similar uses of entertainment in today's society is through dance:
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Bill "Bojangles" Robinson is one of the better known dancers from the 1930s. He is also known as the best African-American tap dancer.
Bill "Bojangles" Robinson is one of the better known dancers from the 1930s. He is also known as the best African-American tap dancer.

Lucas Triana is a well-known dancer from this decade due to his appearance on the shortlived, "Dance Moms Miami".(Top right corner)
Anise Boyer was a film and dance star from the 1930s.(Bottom left)
World record holder for most consecutive prouettes, Sophia Lucia is another one of the most famous dancers in today's society.(Bottom right)

Although all these dancers are unique to their "time period" they all similar in the reason for which they dance. "When I dance I forget everything else, problems, stress, whatever that is in my head" this meant being able to forget about the stress of the Depression (Bedinghaus paragraph 4). This quote is actually from a dancer in today's world, 2013 that dances for the same reasons as people did in the 1930s proving the ties between dancers from the '30s and today and how dance as entertainment is still prevalent today.
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In 1937 the one and only Dr. Suess published his first book, And to Think That I Saw it on Mulberry Street . This was the begining of the success of Dr.Suess.Since the 1930, Suess went on to publish more than fifty books , some of which are favorites of both children and adults today! Every year many schools remember Dr. Suess and his writing by celebrating his birthday and reading many of his books. Some schools even serve green eggs and ham in honr of his book Green Eggs and Ham!
On March 3 of 1931 President Hoover signed for Francis Scott Key's "The Star Spangled Banner" to become the national anthem. At every major sporting event this song is played before the entertainment beginns, but also as a sense of patriotism. "The Star Spangled Banner" was originally written as a poem during 1814 as a description of the British naval attack on Fort Mckhenry. It was later set to the tune of "The Anacreotic Song" a popular english drinking song. Since then this song has been performed many times. Every year at the super bowl a star performs it. Although this is one of the hardest songs to sing, who would turn down the opportunity to perform at the Superbowl.

Connection to To Kill a Mockingbird


"Life is Just a Bowl of Cherries" summarized how many people felt
during the 1930s and how they made the best out of the little thay had.

Other Useful Links
Madison Raynor
The source above provides a basic outline as to how the Americans were able to cope during the Depression. It describes what forms of entertainment were most common and how they were used. Also, it identifies major films and radio broadcasts during the era.
The website above gives a description of how the United States made a what should have been 'depressing' time into a fun one. It lays down the major sports that people played and attended and much more about how they occupied their free time.

Interesting Facts
Peter Feinman

Many people listened to radios in the 1930s, but one of the most popular activities was when people "gathered around radios to listen to the Yankees" (“Fun Facts-1930s” paragraph 1).external image images?q=tbn:ANd9GcRcpXiqs_QtHL6VZb9lrSRJbKC_jhyp73QQQW2qPbqjTcmnhlchmBUtrdva4A

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One aspect of entertainment, that was less important than the rest, that people do not know is that "Action Comics Magazine was also popular and featured the 1938 debut of Superman, ushering in the golden age of comics" (Watkins paragraph 1).

If people were able to afford them, "Bicycles were also popular" in the 1930s, but since most families could not afford them, "some children constructed their scooters from orange crates and roller skate wheels" (Watkins paragraph 2).

There were many dances in the 1930s, but more often then not, "The younger generation danced to the big bands" (“Fun Facts-1930s” paragraph 2).

Some of the big bands included "Benny Goodman, Duke Ellington, Glenn Miller, and Tommy Dorsey" (“Fun Facts-1930s” paragraph 45).

Jazz was not the only type of music because "Broadway produced some of the most famous and lasting American musicals" (“Fun Facts-1930s” paragraph 46).

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Finally, one important part of American history, and not just entertainment in the 1930s is that "In 1931 'The Star Spangled Banner' was designated as the national anthem by Congress" (“Fun Facts-1930s” paragraph 50).

Madison Raynor

"Look at the sports pages of the 1930s and '40s. It was all games, basic stuff. Not nearly as much behind the scenes. I think newspapers, the ones that survive, will be the clever and bright ones." ~Frank Deford

"In the 1930s one was aware of two great evils - mass unemployment and the threat of war." ~James Meade

"When I started out in the early 1930s, there were a great many magazines that published short stories. Unfortunately, the short-story market has dwindled to almost nothing." ~Irwin Shaw

"Open a magazine from the 1930s and '40s and look at the illustrations in it. There's nobody alive that could touch the way they could draw back then." ~John Kricfalusi

Works Cited
Peter Feinman
America in the 1930s. University of Virginia, n.d. Web, 19 May 2013.

Batchelor, Bob. American Pop: Popular Culture Decade by Decade. Westport, CT: Greenwood,
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Bondi, Victor. American Decades 1930-1939. New York: Gale Research Inc., 1995. Print.

“Entertainment of the 1930’s.” Wiki. Wiki, n.d., Web. 10 Apr. 2013.

Feinstein, Stephen. The 1930s: From the Great Depression to the Wizard of Oz. Berkely Heights, New Jersey: 

Enslow Publisher, Inc., 2001. Print.

“Fun Facts-1930’s.” The Past is a Blast Keeping the Flame of the Past Alive Start Reliving Yesterday Today. N.p.,
n.d. Web. 11 Apr. 2013.

Gerdes, Louise. The 1930s. San Diego, CA: Greenhaven Press, 2000. Print.

“Having Fun-Family Life During the Great Depression.” Wessels Living History Farm, Inc. N.p., n.d. Web. 8 Apr. 

Howes, Kelly King. Harlem Renaissance. Detroit: U.X.L, 2001. Print.

Lindop, Edmund, and Margaret J. Goldstein. America in the 1930s. Minneapolis: Twenty-First 
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Nardo, Don. The 1930s. San Diego, California: Kidhaven Press, 2004. Print.

Nash, Tim. "Jazz Music in the 1930s Goes from Great to Greater." The Finer Times. N.p. 2013. Web. 10 Apr. 2013.

Parkinson, David. The Movies. Oxford, New York: Oxford University Press Inc., 1995. Print.

Reinhardt, Claudia. "Having Fun in the Middle of the Great Depression." Having Fun in the Middle of the
Great Depression. The Ganzel Group 2003. Web. 18 May 2013.

Thomson, David. The Big Screen: The Story of the Movies. New York: Farrar, Straus and 
Giroux, 2012. Print.

Watkins, Rachel. “Popular Children’s Activities in the 1930s.” Ehow. Demand Media, 08 Feb. 2011. Web. 16 Apr.