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In the Good Old Days Antiques Corner This Week in History
This Week in History

The First Presidential Fireside Chat, The Road to a Comedy Film Series, and a Historic Musical

--On March 12, 1933: President Franklin Roosevelt conducted his first presidential fireside chat over the radio. When President Roosevelt took office, the country was in the midst of the Great Depression and the banking system was in crisis. Many people were removing all of their cash from banks in what became known as "bank runs." On March 6, a national banking holiday was declared and all banking transactions were suspended. Congress then passed the Emergency Banking Act, which included new banking regulations, on March 9. During the first fireside chat, President Roosevelt explained those new banking reforms in an informal and easy-to-understand manner to the American people. His speech helped calm people's fears, and when the banks reopened the day after his speech, the banking situation had stabilized. During his four terms in office, Roosevelt used the radio fireside chats 30 times to address the American public directly about important issues including New Deal legislation and key events during World War II.

--On March 14, 1940: The film Road to Singapore, starring Bing Crosby, Bob Hope and Dorothy Lamour, premiered in New York City. The popular film was the first of seven films starring Crosby and Hope (Lamour also starred in the first six films, and had a brief cameo role as herself in the seventh), which collectively became known as the "road pictures." The road pictures included Road to Zanzibar (1941), Road to Morocco (1942), Road to Utopia (1945), Road to Rio (1947), Road to Bali (1952) and The Road to Hong Kong (1962). Crosby and Hope were known for ad-libbing portions of the dialogue during the road pictures, which made them all the more fun to watch. The comedy pair worked well together, not just on the movie screen but also on radio and in television appearances as well.

--On March 16, 1969: The musical 1776 opened at the 46th Street Theatre on Broadway. The musical focused on the signing of the Declaration of Independence and included historical figures such as John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson and many others. The musical won five Tony Awards, including Best Musical, Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical (Ron Holgate, who played Richard Henry Lee) and Best Direction of a Musical (Peter Hunt). William Daniels, who starred as John Adams, was ruled ineligible for the Best Actor nomination because his name was not billed above the title. He was nominated for Best Featured Actor, but refused the nomination. The play was adapted into a film of the same name which was released in 1972. Many of the actors from the Broadway cast, including Daniels, also appeared in the film. The original Broadway production closed on Feb 13, 1972, after 1,217 performances.

-- Compiled by M. Moeller

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