Today in History: The Premiere of the “Blue Angel”

Today in History: The Premiere of the “Blue Angel”

88 years ago today, the German movie Der Blaue Engel (The Blue Angel) celebrated its premiere in Berlin and introduced the world to a new movie star, Marlene Dietrich. The opening was completely sold out, possibly helped by rumors that the movie may not have been allowed to be shown at all due to its disreputable plot: a disciplinarian professor falling for a cabaret singer.

Josef von Sternberg was brought in from Hollywood to be the film’s director; Emil Jannings, who had just won an Oscar, was hired to play the professor. But filling the role of cabaret singer Lola-Lola turned out to be more problematic. Sternberg wanted Metropolis star, Brigitte Helm but she was booked; Jannings preferred theater singer Lucie Mannheim but Sternberg considered her too serious. Author Heinrich Mann would have liked to have seen his girlfriend Trude Hesterberg in the role but she was not sufficiently well-known.

Enter Marlene Dietrich. Supposedly, Sternberg was immediately fascinated by this inexperienced woman from a local drama school. It seems that the young Dietrich embodied Lola-Lola, a seductress with the longest legs and the right smile. It is said that Dietrich did not even prepare a song for her first audition, telling Sternberg that she assumed she would not be seriously considered for the role. Her flippant behavior intrigued the director and because Dietrich was behaving like the film character Lola Lola, she was hired.

Nobody could have predicted the film’s enormous success. A new star was born and immediately following the triumphant premiere in Berlin, the blue angel and her director went off to pursue a career in Hollywood.

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Today in History: The Eiffel Tower was completed in 1889

Today in History: The Eiffel Tower was completed in 1889

Happy Birthday, La Tour Eiffel, the global icon of Paris. 129 years ago today, the construction of the 324 m (1024 feet) Eiffel Tower was completed.

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Today is National Pencil Day

Today is #NationalPencilDay

Most pencils made in the United States are painted yellow. This tradition supposedly began in 1890 when the L & C Hardtmuth Company of Austria-Hungary introduced their Koh-I-Noor brand, named after the famous diamond. This pencil was intended to be the world’s best and most expensive pencil. Other companies then began to copy the yellow color so that their pencils would be associated with the high-quality bran (www.nationaldaycalendar.com).

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Happy Birthday, Aretha Franklin.

Happy Birthday, Aretha Franklin.

The American singer and songwriter is celebrating her 76th birthday today.

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Happy 88th Birthday, Günther Kieser !

Happy 88th Birthday, Günther Kieser !

Günther Kieser was born in 1930 in Kronberg, near Frankfurt. Trained at the Werkkunstschule in Offenbach, Kieser began his career as a free-lance artist in 1949 and founded a studio with Hans Michel in 1952. The two artists worked on projects for the German Mail Service and the Hesse radio network and started creating posters for Lippmann & Rau, founders of the first German Jazz concert agencies. Over the next decade, Kieser and Michel would design posters for the concerts by Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Count Basie, Oscar Peterson, and John Coltrane.

When his partnership with Michel ended in 1962, Kieser continued to work primarily for Lippmann & Rau, producing posters that would become fixtures in the music scene. His posters were displayed in concert halls, bars and on billboards. The artist is perhaps most famous for his 1969 Jimi Hendrix Experience poster which became a symbol for a new generation.

Kieser joined the Deutscher Werkbund (German Work Federation) in 1956 and became a member of the Alliance Graphique Internationale (AGI) in 1964. In 1981, he became a professor for Visual Communication at the Bergische Universität in Wuppertal, a position he held until 1992. Kieser has won numerous international awards, his work has been exhibited worldwide and his posters are part of every important museum collection..

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Today in History: Opening of the Bauhaus in 1919

Today in History: Opening of the Bauhaus in 1919

On March 21, 1919, the Bauhaus, a German design school founded in Weimar by Walter Gropius, opened its doors. Its goal was to create a new unity between art and industry, allowing people from the sectors of the decorative arts, architecture and modern technology to work together and learn from one another. The school moved to Dessau in 1925 and to Berlin in 1932 and was closed in July of 1933 by its own staff under pressure from the Nazi government.

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Today in History: First Rocket Launch in 1926

Today in History: First Rocket Launch in 1926

The American Professor Robert Hutchings Goddard (1882-1945) is considered the founder of modern astronautics. He is credited with building and launching the world’s first functional, liquid fuel rocket on March 16, 1926. Its flight lasted only two and a half seconds but the rocket flew an impressive 56 yards.

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