“Think Different” (2003)
Sep 19, 2021 by Marlene Wagman-Geller
Tesla, the electric car, is a household name. In the nineteenth century, so was Nikola Tesla. The genius’s star disappeared into the night sky until a modern-day visionary resurrected his life.
Nothing Very Bad (1837)
Sep 12, 2021 by Marlene Wagman-Geller
Pandora’s Box unleased all the evils into the world, but a robin egg-colored blue box holds treasures of exquisite craftmanship. Although Tiffany’s is an icon, its founder remains a shadowy presence.
A Tarnished Reputation (1943)
Sep 04, 2021 by Marlene Wagman-Geller
What’s blue and gold, serves meatballs, and is the size of five football fields? If you guessed IKEA you are correct, though you might not be able to decern the acronym behind the Swedish juggernaut’s name. The founder of the emporium christened it after his initials and his childhood home: I for Ingvar, K for Kamprad, E for Elmtaryd, his family’s farm, A for Agunnaryd, his village. Behind the do-it-yourself furniture is the tale of the man who could well have merited inclusion in a Reader’s Digest column, “The Most Unforgettable Character.”
The Revenge of the Nerd (1995)
Aug 29, 2021 by Marlene Wagman-Geller
Prior to the 1990s, a list was something Santa checked twice, made Schindler a hero of the Holocaust, a reminder of what to purchase at the grocery store. The contemporary one is where an individual searches for a pet, a one-night stand, a lasting love. But who is the guru behind Craigslist?
Buzz Off (1984)
Aug 21, 2021 by Marlene Wagman-Geller
Prior to the year Orwell was made infamous with his dystopian novel, bees sweetened our tea, provided the lead singer of the Police with his name, were part of “the talk” that explained how babies originated. A new dimension to the pollen perpetrator arrived with the elderly recluse whose grizzled visage appears on all Burt Bees’ honey-hued packaging.
The Bitter and the Sweet (1900)
Aug 08, 2021 by Marlene Wagman-Geller
In 1972, Sammy Davis Jr. crooned, “The Candy Man makes everything he bakes/ Satisfying and delicious.” Although millions delight in the endorphin-producing chocolate, many are unaware of the story of the real-life Willie Wonka.
Cain and Abel (1949)
Jul 24, 2021 by Marlene Wagman-Geller
Urban legend holds that Adidas is an acronym for “All Day I Dream About Sports,” or “All Day I Dream About Soccer,” or “All Day I Dream About Sex.” The assumptions are incorrect. The shoe emporium originated with a feud between two Bavarian brothers.
Jul 14, 2021 by Marlene Wagman-Geller
“All children, except one, grow up.” Peter Pan dwells in a magical world inhabited by Tinker Bell, Wendy, and Tiger Lily. Yet Neverland, like the moon, had a dark side, one the nonfictional Peter understood all too well.
The Enchanted Forest (1926)
Jul 10, 2021 by Marlene Wagman-Geller
The image of a boy and his animal companions serves as a magic carpet that transports us to the lost land of childhood. Christopher Robin and Winnie the Pooh, (“the bear of very little brain”), spend adventure-filled days exploring the 100 Acre Wood where nothing ever happens that a pot of honey could not make right. Yet, lurking in the shadows were specters that dogged the non-fictional hero of the childhood classic.
The Light (1967)
Jul 01, 2021 by Marlene Wagman-Geller
The turbulent decade of the 1960s gave birth to a love story between a Jewish-Canadian poet and a Norwegian single mother enacted on a Greek island. The Scandinavian muse was the inspiration for Leonard Cohen in his song, “So Long, Marianne.”
“It Ain’t Me” (1963)
Jun 15, 2021 by Marlene Wagman-Geller
The cover of the album, “The Freewillin’ Bob Dylan” showcases the youthful artist walking alongside a girl in a green coat. While the singer is an iconic musician, the woman holding onto his arm has retreated into the shadows.
Immortal Beloved (1961)
Jun 09, 2021 by Marlene Wagman-Geller
The lil’ folk who inhabit the Peanuts universe are beloved comic characters: Charlie Brown with his tree-hugging kite, Lucy with her curbside psychiatry- stand, Linus with his security blanket. Less well-known is the Little Red-Haired Girl, the artist’s lost love.
“Most Likely to Succeed” (1969)
May 24, 2021 by Marlene Wagman-Geller
A slice of Americana is the Wendy’s hamburger emporium with its mascot of a red-haired girl, pigtails bound with blue bows. Behind the fresh-faced child lies a Horatio Algier's story.
“Off With Their Heads!” (circa 1553)
May 13, 2021 by Marlene Wagman-Geller
A time-honored rite of childhood is the nursery rhymes we remember no matter how much time goes by. Surprisingly, the historical references behind the ditties contain veiled references to murder and mayhem. Mary Shelley, Edgar Allan Poe, and Stephen King met their match in these medieval tales. And what is with all that falling? Jack and Jill break their heads in their descent down the hill; Humpty Dumpty is cracked beyond repair from his tumble from the wall; everyone collapses at the end of Ring-Around-the-Rosie. Nursery rhymes served as a coded means of social protest in an era when speaking your mind would cost you your head.
The Kent State Pietà (1970)
May 03, 2021 by Marlene Wagman-Geller
“The wrong place at the wrong time,” is a phrase with which many can relate, but likely not to the extent of the woman immortalized in the iconic Kent State photograph. The black-and-white image made a teenager the most famous unknown person of a turbulent time.
“Invisible to the Eye” (1943)
Apr 02, 2021 by Marlene Wagman-Geller
If you gaze at the sky and see a flower in a glass house, you are familiar with the golden-haired boy who met a downed airman in the Sahara Desert. From his new friend, the pilot learns the essence of life, love, and friendship. What was lost in literary legend was the nonfictional identity of the Little Prince’s thorny rose.
What Would the Nanny Do? (1683)
Mar 29, 2021 by Marlene Wagman-Geller
The television series, The Nanny, cemented the image that women from Queens have voices that can shatter glass. While the winsome Fran Fine may have reigned over the heart of Mr. Sheffield, the Noo Yawk borough from which she hailed became known as Queens after a woman cut from a far different cloth: Catherine of Braganza.
Mar 24, 2021 by Marlene Wagman-Geller
No one would have any trouble picking out the ageless “It Girl” from a line-up due to her signature garter, skimpy dress, and kewpie doll eyes. And yet few would be able to name the woman who served as Betty Boop’s prototype, the original lewdie toon.
“Jars of Hope” (1946)
Mar 03, 2021 by Marlene Wagman-Geller
Hamlet railed at Ophelia, “God hath given you one face and you make yourselves another.” Although the Prince of Demark viewed makeup as female duplicity, a twentieth century woman used cosmetics to create a billion-dollar blue empire. Although the tycoon became a household name to millions of women, few are privy to her saga.
From Raggedy to Riches (1915)
Feb 22, 2021 by Marlene Wagman-Geller
Who is the most fabulous fictitious redhead: Wilma Flintstone, Pippi Longstocking, Princess Ariel? Such a list must include the icon who has been going strong for a century. Her creator named her after a flesh and blood girl who was also an entertainment juggernaut.