Thomas Edison was born in Milan, Ohio in the year 1847 to parents Samuel and Nancy Edison. Taught reading and writing by his mother as a child, Edison continued to learn as he grew older through experiences he had. He read as many scientific books he could get his hands on and continued building his knowledge on the subject. Years later, after Edison had already established himself as an accomplished inventor, he developed the motion picture. The motion picture was a device that “does for the eye what the phonograph does for the ear” and created an industry unable to be rivaled by many. He stayed in the movie business until around 1918 when the industry became quite “competitive”. From there he lived his life continuing to invent until his death in 1931.
Harry Houdini’s (then Ehrich Weisz) first credited performance took place on October 28th, 1883 when he was nine years old. His family had recently immigrated to the United States from Hungary and were struggling to make ends meet in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. It wasn’t until he ran away from home when he was twelve did Houdini seriously start training as a musician in New York City. He became a self-proclaimed professional when he was 17 years old doing magic shows around New York City and on Coney Island.
After marrying a teenaged singer and performer named Beatrice Raymond, the married couple sailed to England where he got a job performing for a London theater. His engagement only lasted for one week… but after escaping from chains in Scotland Yard, his engagement was lengthened indefinitely. From there he became an international superstar with his many amazing tricks he would perform for his public. With hardly any failures, he continued to rise to international stardom until his untimely death in 1926 due to complications from injuries sustained while performing. Another superstar of the early 1900’s, Harry Houdini is regarded as the most magnificent magician to have walked this earth due to his incredible tricks involving nearly impossible odds of survival.
After the assassination of President McKinley in 1901, Theodore Roosevelt was elected to office. He was said to have brought “excitement and power” to the presidency and was perceived as a celebrity to the country. He was a former Rough Rider, a celebrity status in itself, and his philosophy during his presidency was to “speak softly and carry a big stick…” He was awarded one of thee highest honors to speak of today, the Nobel Peace Prize. He received this honor due to his success in mediating the Russo-Japanese War, a highlight of his presidential career. The side of Theodore Roosevelt that his people loved was when he would excite the crowds with his strong-willed personality but still be able to turn back to his duty as a father and husband where he would be seen playing with his children on the White House lawn, portraying aspects of the all American dream that so many wished for.
Born in 1863 to a wealthy family in Michigan, Henry Ford was regarded from a young age to be incredibly bright and proficient with mechanics. At the age of sixteen he left his family home to move to Detroit where he began apprenticing with a mechanic for three years before working the odd job here and there to gain experience. It wasn’t until he became an engineer with the Edison Illuminating Company in 1891 and was given time and money to work on his own experiments, did Henry Ford first develop the concept of a vehicle that you could drive. His first “vehicle” was a gasoline powered “quadricycle” that had only two speeds and no reverse function. He created the Ford Vehicle Company in 1903 and introduced the Model T Ford in 1908 and started a revolution in personal transportation and became a rising success. It wasn’t long before his company became the “largest automobile manufacturer in the world.”
Born in Warsaw, Polan, Marie Curie received scholerships to various univeristies where she developed her knowledge of scientific information and began to commence her own research. She is most widely recognized for her development of a method for the separation of radioactive residues and for her characterization and studies of its properties. Marie Curie then received a Nobel Peace Prize in 1903 for the study of “spontaneous radiation” and again in 1911 for chemistry for her work with radioactivity.
Orville Wright flew the first ever manned power flight after a lifetime of work and dedication. He and his brother Wilbur Wright had been interested in physics and aeronautics since they were both young children and seeked to create a machine that could fly that would not be "as light as air". While in the process of developing said machine, his brother Wilbur died suddenly. Orville carried their legacy on and continued to work on the goal they worked so hard to acheive and eventually succeeded. His first flight took place on December 17th, 1903, the day that would go down in history as the first flight.
Born Gladys Smith in 1892, Mary Pickford started acting at the extremely young age of six years old when her mother could no longer afford to keep the household running due to the death of her father. She continued acting throughout the next couple of years and when she was fifteen years old she received a job on Broadway from producer David Belasco. After appearing in one of his plays for a long time, Pickford moved onto films (then titled “flickers”). She received her first role in a “flicker” from the director D.W Griffiths and later appeared in forty-two more of his films. Soon Mary moved out to California where she met her husband Owen Moore, another actor. By the time her career was at its height, she was making over $150,000 dollars a year and was considered the most famous woman in the world. She worked together with other big names in the business to create what is known as United Artist studios. She created her first “talkie” in 1929 and continued acting in movies until she was forty-one years old. Throughout the rest of her life she continued to donate to charities and be an active member of United Artists. She died in 1979 after living to be eighty-seven years old.
Regarded as one of films first true stars, Charlie Chaplin’s career was filled with countless short films and demands from movie studios all over requesting his special “slapstick” talent in their films. His first short film made in 1914 was a one-reeler (10-12 minutes long) with 34 more short films following it during the same year. He was the proclaimed “master of physical comedy” which is just what silent films needed due to lack of sound. Whether he was slipping on a banana peel or simply falling due to the laws of gravity, he always kept his audience captivated until the credits rolled and kept them wanting more of him. He is regarded as the most highly demanded silent-film era actor and America’s first entertainment “superstar”.