Month: February 2014

ON THIS DAY IN PADUCAH HISTORY…HOORAY FOR HOLLYWOOD

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On February 27, 1935, Paducah’s own, Irvin S. Cobb, hosted the 7th Annual Academy Awards!

Besides Cobb’s likely witty and rip-roaring emceeing, three significant “firsts” happened at the 7th Annual Academy Awards.

Frank Capra’s romantic comedy “It Happened One Night” was the first film to win Oscars in all five major categories: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, and Best Screenplay. This feat was only repeated by “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” (1976) and “Silence of the Lambs” (1992).

Second, because of a huge public outcry over the failure to nominate Bette Davis for “Of Human Bondage” and Myrna Loy for “The Thin Man,” the Academy allowed write-in candidates. This was the first of only two years this has ever happened. Both women were subsequently nominated, yet neither of them won. The Best Actress award went to Claudette Colbert for “It Happened One Night.”

Finally, the Academy presented its very first Juvenile Award to six year old Shirley Temple. By 1935, Temple already had 28 feature-length and short films under her belt. She is still the youngest Oscar winner to date.

BONUS TRIVIA!! – Irvin Cobb, of course, isn’t the only connection to the Academy Awards. Did you know that the Academy’s informal theme song, “Hooray for Hollywood,” references Paducah? The third verse of the song reads:
That phoney, super coney Hollywood
They come from Chillicothes and Padukahs
With their bazookas to get their names up in lights
All armed with photos from local rotos
With their hair in ribbons and legs in tights
Hooray for Hollywood

To learn more about Paducah’s connections to silver screen, visit us at the Local and Family and History Department at the McCracken County Public Library. 

SHOE, GUY, DON’T BOTHER ME

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Thud!
Thwack!
Thump!
Those were the noises that woke Mr. H.C Hollins at one o’clock in the morning on June 4, 1907—WHACK and CLUNK—resounding off the side of his house. The insurance man and real estate agent hastily dressed and went outside only to discover that his porch was littered with shoes, of all shapes and sizes and descriptions: old shoes, new shoes, red shoes, blue shoes, short shoes, tall shoes, spring shoes, fall shoes.

Befuddled, Mr. Hollins scratched his head until he heard a “Pssst” from next door and looked up to the see the heads of the two sisters Morgan sticking out of their second floor window. They informed Mr. Hollins that they were alone for their brother, the manager of the Morgan Lumber Company, was out of town on business and that a burglar was at that very moment taking a tour of the first floor of their house.

Filled with a sudden bravado for the pair of mistresses in distress, Mr. Hollins ran inside and chased the burglar who ultimately escaped through a kitchen window. The sisters and their neighbor-turned-hero inspected the house to find nothing had been stolen, whereupon the sisters admitted to Mr. Hollins that they had been throwing shoes at his house for a half an hour before he finally woke.

EDITORIAL COMMENT: All right…it’s wholly understandable why the Morgan sisters threw their shoes at Mr. Hollins house: the shoes were on hand, telephones were a rarity in 1907, and the sisters didn’t want to call attention to themselves by screaming. This story, however, still begs two questions. 1) How many pairs of shoes can you own and still be throwing them a half hour later? 2) What sort of inept crook burgles a house for a half hour and comes away with nothing?

For more information about incompetent thieves and quirky attention-getting techniques, please visit the Local and Family History Department of the McCracken County Public Library. 

GENESIS OF YOUR PUBLIC LIBRARY

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On this day in Paducah history, February 19, 1901, the Sun, reported that Paducah’s Ministerial Association, made up of local pastors and priests, had met the previous night to the discuss the necessity of a public library in Paducah. The clergy all agreed that Paducah was “behind other places of her size and importance in this important matter.” The Rev. G.W. Perryman of First Baptist Church was elected to contact Andrew Carnegie about the possibility of bringing a library to Paducah.

The Rev. Perryman was good to his word and a Carnegie Library was indeed erected in Paducah in 1904 at the corner of 9th and Broadway.

For more information about the Carnegie Library, please visit us at the Local and Family History Department at the McCracken County Public Library. 

SHIRLEY TEMPLE AND IRVIN COBB

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America certainly lost a treasure yesterday with the passing of Shirley Temple at the age of 85. Later in her life she was known for her political activism and served as a representative to the United Nations General Assembly, as well as the US Ambassador to Ghana. She was also an outspoken advocate in the battle against breast cancer.

But, of course, Shirley Temple was best known for her films, and at the age of 6, was the youngest person to ever be presented an Academy Award. She didn’t win for any particular category but was given her award for Outstanding Achievement, and the person who presented her with the Oscar statuette was none other than Paducah’s own Irvin Cobb.

As her name was announced for the award, accompanied by the enthusiastic roar of the Hollywood crowd, Irvin picked Shirley up in his arms, and said, “Honey, when Santa Claus bundled you up and dropped you down Creation’s chimney, he gave to the world one of the nicest and dearest and most delectable Christmas presents that ever was. If it be true that the laughter of happy children is the music of the spheres to which the angels dance before the throne up yonder in the skies, then you can claim a share in shaping that tune which rings from earth to heaven and all the way back again, because by your efforts millions upon millions of children have been made happy and have laughed – yes and millions of grown-ups too.”

Cobb was so enamored of Temple, and Temple of Cobb, that they called each other sweetheart. In 1935, Cobb went on to write a long biographical article, “Two-in-One Shirley,” in This Week Magazine in which he praises the talents, efforts, and influence of Temple. Says Cobb, “To a very essential degree she remains the twinkle-toed, sparkle-eyed, dimple-cheeked, curly-headed little tyke of the sandpile and the rabbit-hutch, but the rest of her magically has been moulded into the matrix of a seasoned actress, whose talents internationally are acclaimed, whose influence upon a whole generation of amusement-goers is enormous and whose name is a household word in more languages than the builders of Babel ever knew.”

Thank you Shirley Temple.

To read the whole article, “Two-in-One Shirley,” feel free to visit us in the Local and Family History Department at the McCracken County Public Library.