Topics in the News
The Art of Nothing
The artistic movements that had flourished in the 1960s and unified the art community—Pop art, op art, and minimalism—were all but exhausted as the new decade began. Art had entered a postmodern, chaotic phase, fragmenting into many styles that often incorporated elements from other arts in an effort to create new forms. Gradually the decade saw abstractionist art, and geometric minimalism give way to new forms that were more narrative in function. The sense that art was played out commercially and aesthetically worked to the advantage of artists who just wanted to "do their own thing." Freed from the constraints of a single style or movement, some artists used their work autobiographically; others, including some minority artists, used their work to make political statements. Many simply felt that the idea of art expressing any statement, personal or political, had become outdated and irrelevant. Therefore much of the art of the 1970s was highly conceptual, referring to nothing but itself.
In the liberated climate of the 1970s some minorities used their art to express new feelings of pride and identity. A wave of mural painting spread through the inner cities in the 1970s, created largely by black and Latino artists. Such murals often depicted cultural histories or political images that evoked peace and...
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Dance Takes Off
The 1960s were an important era for dance, with innovative work from New York City Ballet choreographers George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins, the emergence of Rudolf Nureyev as a major star, and the critical and popular acclaim of Martha Graham's company. But dance (especially ballet) was a minority art, considered too highbrow for mainstream American tastes and little viewed outside of New York. That image changed abruptly in the 1970s. With bursts of new energy from Broadway (Bob Fosse and A Chorus Line), movies (John Travolta), popular music (disco), and modern dance and ballet (Mikhail Baryshnikov, Twyla Tharp), dance was suddenly everywhere. By the end of the 1970s it had taken its place as one of the most popular art forms in the United States.
Attendance at U.S. dance programs was about one million in 1964-1965. Attendance shot up dramatically in the early 1970s, reaching eight million by 1973, then leaping to an incredible twenty million by the 1978-1979 season. Officials of the National Endowment for the Arts estimated in 1964-1965 that only 32 percent of the audience for dance was outside New York City; by 1978-1979 that figure was 80 percent. By the late 1970s there were more than 125 professional dance companies operating across the United States, compared to only a handful in the mid 1960s. The...
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Drama in Transition
The commercial theater in the United States reached a point of creative and financial crisis in the early 1970s. In a sense, theater as a vital and expanding art form had been on the wane throughout the 1960s, despite many excellent new plays and commercial hits. The finest American dramatists—Tennessee Williams and Arthur Miller in particular—had long since peaked (during the 1950s). Edward Albee, who had ignited audiences with his shattering confrontational dramas in the early 1960s, was having trouble sustaining that reputation. The heyday of the musical had passed, too; there had been few memorable musicals after about 1965. Theater in the late 1960s had been sustained by a public appetite for previously taboo sexual material and for absurdism, but the novelty had worn off by 1970. That year saw the smallest number of productions on Broadway in its history, and the situation barely improved as the decade progressed. Broadway shows were reported as losing more than $5 million during the 1972-1973 season. Film and television had increasingly become the arenas for new dramatic efforts, and many dramatic writers were working in those media. As the experimental fervor of 1960s drama faded and the youth counterculture began to disintegrate, there seemed to be no new subjects and no new forms. By the mid 1970s most big Broadway hits were nostalgic revivals of old shows....
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Fiction in Limbo
The quarter century after World War II had been an innovative and exciting period for American writing. Authors such as John Cheever, Saul Bellow, John Updike, Gore Vidal, Truman Capote, Kurt Vonnegut, Thomas Pynchon, Norman Mailer, Jack Kerouac, J. D. Salinger, John Barth, Bernard Malamud, Jerzy Kosinski, Joseph Heller, Donald Barthelme, and Philip Roth had expanded the possibilities of the modern novel. By the 1960s experimentation had reached new levels, with novelists using improvisation, journalistic technique, black humor, and self-commentary in their works. By the 1970s the expansive possibilities in American literature seemed to collapse. The writers of the postwar era, once hailed as innovators, became lions of the literary world, that is, the new establishment. Some declared that after so many experiments the novel was dead as an art form. Clearly, new blood was needed to invigorate American fiction. As the 1970s progressed, critics and readers alike looked to minority writers for that new energy.
The 1960s had seen a new renaissance in poetry and fiction, with strong works from James Baldwin, John A. Williams, and Lance Jeffers, among others. A black literary press and network of black essayists and critics unified their efforts through publications such as Black World. This unity eroded...
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Film and the Black Experience
For decades blacks in films, when seen at all, had been used in subservient roles, primarily as servants to white characters. Only occasionally were black characters given integral story lines in white dramas, as in Show Boat (1936), Imitation of Life (1934), or Pinky (1949), and black-Centered dramas such as Carmen Jones (1954) were even rarer. But in the late 1950s and early 1960s Sidney Poitier revolutionized Hollywood by becoming the first black feature film star. Poitier specialized in earnest portrayals of calm, patient, well-groomed, highly intelligent, and most of all socially acceptable black men—the kind of black men that seemed safe and even soothing to a suspicious white America. He proved so popular that by 1968 he was the top box-office draw in the country. But Poitier was a mainstream Hollywood star, marketed to a white audience, particularly to those who wanted to seem correct by embracing integration. Black audiences were hungry for more representation in film, both in front of the camera and behind it. As the Black Power movement bloomed in the late 1960s, the time at last seemed ripe for movies reflecting the reality of their lives.
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Film and the Women's Movement
Hollywood's golden age of the 1930s and 1940s had been a showplace for tough, career-minded women. Bette Davis, Katharine Hepburn, Joan Crawford, Barbara Stanwyck, Jean Arthur, and Rosalind Russell were seen as models of feminine independence. But in the 1950s and early 1960s the cinematic image of women had softened, becoming more romanticized or more sexually exploitative. Heroines such as Doris Day, Jane Wyman, Audrey Hepburn, Deborah Kerr, and June Allyson were appealing to many, but their decorative, often virginal roles hardly reflected women's real lives. Nor did sexpots such as Sophia Loren, Marilyn Monroe, Kim Novak, and Brigitte Bardot. In the 1960s the image of women began to shift, becoming more three-dimensional again. Emerging stars such as Anne Bancroft, Patricia Neal, Natalie Wood, Shirley MacLaine, Joanne Woodward, and British imports Vanessa Redgrave and Julie Christie fleshed out characters that reflected the tough choices and conflicts women faced in everyday modern life. Campy sex kittens such as Jane Fonda and the femmes fatales of the James Bond films were still big box office, but the glossy, artificial Hollywood image of women was fading. Even the biggest box-office star of the mid 1960s, virginal Julie Andrews, generally played independent women who pursued their own dreams. As the women's movement began to gather steam in the United States in the late...
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In the mid to late 1960s a group of young film directors began, quite independently of one another, to form the beginnings of an American art cinema. Serving as their inspiration were the rich and challenging films by Italian, Swedish, British, and especially French directors. In France in the late 1950s directors François Truffaut] and Jean-Luc Godard, themselves inspired by American filmmaking, formulated the auteur theory, in which the director is the primary creative force of a film. This theory held that the various works of one director are thematically, if not structurally, linked. What interested American directors about the French films was their form, which often featured unusual camera angles, cuts, and movements and were often narratively and visually disjointed. Truffaut's Jules and Jim (1962) and The 400 Blows (1959) and Godard's Breathless (1959) embodied this bold new filmmaking style. The Americans were also influenced by Ingmar Bergman's moody allegories, Federico Fellini's blend of fantasy and reality, and Richard Lester and Tony Richardson's kooky, freewheeling style. As traditional commercial movie ventures began failing in the late 1960s and as the public taste shifted toward more adult themes, the time seemed ripe for auteurism in American movies.
The first American...
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Film Fads and Fashions
Hollywood was in trouble as the 1970s began. Audiences had been shrinking throughout the previous decade as television viewing increased. The collapse of the studio system meant that producers had to finance films independently, magnifying the importance of each film's success or failure at the box office. The production code had also disappeared, and now that movies were free to explore previously taboo adult themes, the old-fashioned, big-budget Hollywood epics began to bomb. Hello, Dolly! (1969), an overblown version of the stage hit, lost $16 million. By the late 1960s only one film in six was making a profit, and by 1971 weekly movie attendance in the United States had reached a low of 17.5 million, down from 80 million customers a week in Hollywood's peak year of 1946. Richard D. Zanuck, head of 20th Century-Fox, resigned in late 1970 in the face of the studio's $21.3 million deficit. When Easy Rider, produced for a mere $400,000, grossed over $30 million, several producers jumped on the youth bandwagon, churning out sleazy rock 'n' roll movies with hippie heroes. This fad quickly died, however, proving that youthful audiences, who were the bulk of moviegoers by the early 1970s, did have taste. By 1973 the "blaxploitation" craze was beginning to burn itself out. The future of movies seemed more uncertain than ever.
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Pop and Rock Music Styles
By the end of the 1960s rock and pop music reflected the explosive change and growth that was happening in society at large. Bands and musicians as diverse as the Kinks, Jim Morrison, and John Fogerty were pushing the boundaries of the music, creating new forms ("rock operas" and concept or theme albums), and marrying music to fashion and image to an unprecedented degree. Meanwhile, an increasingly pervasive media was covering the younger generation as never before—their tastes, their fads, their political opinions. Talented guitarists such as Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton were hailed as gods, while black-or blues-inspired vocalists such as Janis Joplin and Mick Jagger lent credibility to rock singing. Innovation in the studio (the Beatles) and scorching pyrotechnics onstage (the Who) combined to give rock the new aura of art. And the soaring popularity of soul, rhythm and blues, and jazz styles among white and black audiences made color seem both empowering ("Black is beautiful") and irrelevant, as millions turned on to the sounds of Motown artists, Sly Stone, and Aretha Franklin. Rock music reached a zenith of creativity, influence, and range even as it united youthful audiences with its social, political, and cultural relevance.
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The Pulse of Black Music
Black music had flourished during the late 1960s and was still peaking as the 1970s began. Its popularity with black and white audiences alike had caused a unity among the pop and rock audience that was unprecedented. Rock fans reponded to Aretha ("Lady Soul") Franklin and Otis Redding, while soul followers connected to Jimi Hendrix and Sly and the Family Stone. As audiences began to splinter in the early 1970s, black music continued to set new trends, to be the strongest and purest force in pop music during that era. Lady Soul Franklin released the classics "Rock Steady" and "Spanish Harlem." Al Green typified the sexy soul sound, mixing an urban rhythm and blues influence with touches of gospel on a string of emotionally naked hits such as "Let's Stay Together" and "I'm Still in Love With You." Barry White pushed sexy soul to another level with his steamy innuendo on "I'm Gonna Love You Just a Little More Baby" and "Can't Get Enough of Your Love, Babe." The Staple Singers' gospel-influenced style produced classics in "Respect Yourself" and "I'll Take You There." Bill Withers revealed blues roots on " Ain't No Sunshine" and "Lean on Me." A host of fabulous one-shot or two-shot female artists (Freda Payne, Honey Cone, Jean Knight) showed a refreshing and sexy feminist streak. These and other early-1970s one-shot hits ("Too Late to Turn Back Now," "Everybody Plays the Fool," "Ain't No...
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The Punk Rock and New Wave Movements
Rebellion.Punk rock combusted in the mid 1970s from the smoldering energies of several different music styles and in reaction to the bland corporate rock then popular. The punk and new wave movements had a violent, nihilistic image that did not always reflect the wide diversity of musical styles (and fashions) they encompassed. Their influences ranged from avant-garde art rock to 1950s rock 'n' roll to Jamaican reggae, but the collective force of their impact made them easy to categorize. The representative effect was a primitive, stripped-down assault of guitars, bass, and drums played fast and loud. To rock fans weary of mainstream excess, punk rock was a revelation. To those who liked the status quo, it
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The Resurgence of Country Music
Country music, with its inherent appeal for the rural heartland, had always existed apart from more sophisticated (and more fickle) musical trends of urban America. Part of this difference was purely regional, but it was also the result of Nashville's established traditions. Country records were generally low-budget efforts, promoted to a small number of radio stations. Live venues (the Grand Ole Opry, country fairs and festivals, small taverns) existed completely apart from the stadium-scale theatrics of rock 'n' roll. Thus the counter-culture of the late 1960s—pot smoking, peace marches, the black and women's movements, explosive artistic experimentation—had barely caused a ripple in the country music scene. Nashville was seen by most of U.S. youth as part of the establishment, and though country music had traditionally maintained something of a rebel (i.e., Confederate) image, that raw fever was little in evidence during the 1960s. The hard line of Nashville conservatism (the so-called silent majority) was well represented in songs such as Sgt. Barry Sadler's "Ballad of the Green Berets" and Merle Haggard's defiant "Okie from Muskogee" (which drew the admiration of President Richard Nixon). Country music, while never overtly political, remained firmly rooted in patriotic, anti-Communist, conservative values of the 1950s (for example, Tammy Wynette's "Stand by Your...
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Allen, Woody 1935-
DIRECTOR, ACTOR, WRITER
After an apprenticeship in the early 1960s that included work as a gag writer, Woody Allen first gained attention with his stand-up comedy routines in clubs, in college campus shows, and on recorded albums. His reputation as a funnyman was secured after he wrote and appeared in the hit 1965 film What's New, Pussycat? The following year his play Don't Drink the Water hit Broadway, while his irreverent debut as a movie director, What's Up, Tiger Lily?, played in theaters. In writings for Playboy...
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Bellow, Saul 1915-
During his years at the University of Chicago and Northwestern University in the 1930s, young Saul Bellow knew instinctively the academic life was not for him. He felt it was too narrow, too dictatorial; only as a writer could he find the freedom and independence he craved to explore his imagination and interpret the world. Bellow was well-read, and his attachment to books led to employment writing book notices in New York. He soon turned to fiction writing and achieved some attention with his first novel, Dangling Man (1943). The book established what was to become typical in Bellow's work over the years: a sensitive protagonist who feels he does not belong or is out of step with the world, searching for some sense of personal destiny or self-realization. This theme paralleled the author's own struggle during his long career for such understanding. The Victim (1947) established Bellow as a Jewish writer, a label he often resented as limiting and insulting. Bellow maintained that his characters and their quest for transcendence were more universal than specifically ethnic.
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Coppola, Francis Ford 1939-
When he saw Sergei Eisenstein's Ten Days That Shook the World, sixteen-year-old Francis Ford Coppola decided to become a filmmaker. His success in college as the director of campus shows led to his enrollment in UCLA's film school. Needing money for his education, Coppola took jobs shooting low-budget nudie films and quickie features for B-movie king Roger Corman. The most notable of these were the gory Dementia 13 and The Terror, with Jack Nicholson. While working as a writer for the successful film group Seven Arts, Coppola wrote his first full-length screenplay, You're a Big Boy Now. Coppola, always aggressive and forever a risk taker, managed to persuade some major talent (including Geraldine Page and Julie Harris) to accept supporting roles in the film, which gained some attention on its release in 1966. When Finian's Rainbow (1967), his first directorial effort for a major studio, became a disaster, Coppola vowed to turn his back on the Hollywood system and make his own films his own way.
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Fonda, Jane 1937-
Throughout the 1960s Jane Fonda was known primarily as actor Henry Fonda's daughter, as a pretty ingenue in light sex comedies such as Sunday in New York (1963) and as director Roger Vadim's protégé in arty skin flicks such as Barbarella (1968). All that was to change in the decade that followed. As worldwide political situations intensfied, particularly the war in Vietnam, Fonda became increasingly radicalized. A major influence on her in the late 1960s was her friend Vanessa Redgrave, who had often taken strong anti-American political stances. Fonda began to see herself and her role in Hollywood differently. She split with Vadim, then stunned audiences and critics with her portrayal of a bitter, downtrodden marathon dancer in They Shoot Horses, Don't They? After traveling to Europe and India to "search for herself," Fonda returned to the United States with a radically different agenda, declaring, "I've wasted the first 32 years of my life."
In 1970 Fonda participated in some very public protests on behalf of human rights causes, particularly the...
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Fosse, Bob 1927-1987
DIRECTOR, CHOREOGRAPHER, DANCER
Bob Fosse began his unusual career as a dancer in the late 1940s, touring with companies of Call Me Mister and Make Mine Manhattan. After playing the lead in a summer-stock production of Pal Joey, then choreographing a showcase called Talent 52, Fosse was given a screen test by M-G-M and went on to appear in the film Kiss Me Kate (1953). This appearance, in a highly original dance number, led to Fosse's first job as a choreographer, the Jerome Robbins-directed Broadway hit The Pajama Game (1954). Soon after, he met the talented dancer Gwen Verdon, and the two proceeded to collaborate on several hit shows, including Damn Yankees (1955, film 1958), New Girl in Town (1957), and Redhead (1959). (Fosse and Verdon married soon after.) He was also frequently sought out as the "doctor" on shows in trouble, especially How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying and Little Me (both 1962).
Fosse's best collaboration with Verdon, Sweet Charity (1966, film 1969), demonstrated their perfect compatibility as a creative team and also flaunted his trademark style as a choreographer. Strongly influenced by choreographer Jack Cole, Fosse staged dance numbers that were highly stylized, using staccato...
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Morrison, Toni 1931-
Toni Morrison never planned to become an author. Born Chloe Anthony Wofford in Lorain, Ohio, she changed her first name to Toni while attending Howard University and acquired her last name after a later marriage. Morrison excelled in the classics and received a master's degree from Cornell in 1955, after which she began teaching English at Texas Southern University and then at Howard. There she became influenced by a small group of poets and fiction writers, who encouraged her to work on a short story—the first she had ever attempted—about a young black girl's yearning for the white ideal of beauty and perfection. The story, which later became her first novel, was set aside while Morrison pursued a publishing career in the 1960s.
Morrison's editing talent and linguistic skill allowed her to move swiftly in her new career at Random House. She was promoted from textbook editor to senior editor in 1967 and soon became a specialist in black fiction. During eighteen years with the company, Morrison championed new writers such as Gayl Jones, Angela Davis, and Toni Cade Bambara. Meanwhile, she turned to writing again and found, to her surprise, that she had a natural ability with character. She expanded her short story into The Bluest Eye, drawing on her upbringing and neighborhood...
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Pacino, Al 1940-
Al Pacino burst onto the New York theater scene in the late 1960s. He received an Obie nomination (for Off-Broadway productions) for Why Is a Crooked Letter (1966), competing against George C. Scott and eventual winner Dustin Hoffman. He won the award two years later for his portrayal of a savage young hoodlum in The Indian Wants the Bronx. By 1969 his angry energy had won him several important roles and a Tony award for best supporting actor in Does a Tiger Wear a Necktie? Hollywood began to take notice of Pacino's talent for playing urban outsiders and cast him as a junkie in Panic in Needle Park (1969). Although many critics and viewers noted certain similarities to Hoffman, Pacino's acting had a unique edge that reminded Lee Strasberg, head of the New York Actors' Studio, of a young Marlon Brando.
Director Francis Ford Coppola saw Pacino onstage in New York and felt he would be perfect for the young and alienated Michael Corleone in the upcoming film production of The Godfather (1972). Paramount executives felt otherwise; Pacino's screen tests were repeatedly disastrous. Coppola stood firm, and Pacino was cast. Though he was in awe of costar Brando, Pacino was determined to make his role the center of the film. His nervous uncertainty added to...
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Pryor, Richard 1940-
In the early 1960s Richard Pryor was among several black comedians who were gaining acceptance with white audiences in clubs and on television. Redd Foxx, Nipsey Russell, Flip Wilson, and Slappy White all achieved some popularity, but all were eclipsed by the major success of comics Bill Cosby and Dick Gregory. Early television appearances such as the Rudy Vallee Show gave Pryor some exposure, but he tried too hard to imitate the smooth, nonracial hipness of Cosby and topical humor of White, Russell, and Gregory. Gradually, feeding off his resentment of racism and natural hatred of the television medium, Pryor began to develop his own style—and a growing reputation for being volatile and difficult to manage.
By the late 1960s Pryor had begun to incorporate some of his later trademarks into his work, especially his randy street humor and his manic, live-wire nervous energy. As he became increasingly alienated from show business, Pryor decided to use his comedy to "tell it like it is." His offstage antics (liquor, drugs, and women) eventually took their toll onstage, leading to a breakdown during a Las Vegas performance in 1967. Pryor re-grouped, working in films (Wildin the Streets , and releasing an album featuring his raunchy material and several new...
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Sondheim, Stephen 1930-
Young Stephen Sondheim's path was made clear when, at age twelve, he was befriended by a family friend, the esteemed lyricist Oscar Hammerstein II. Hammerstein taught him all he knew about songwriting, and by the late 1940s Sondheim was working as a production assistant on Broadway musicals such as South Pacific (1949) and The King and I (1951). He then won a two-year fellowship to study with avant-garde composer Milton Babbitt, who helped him analyze popular songs and classics. In 1953 plans for Sondheim's first full-length musical composition, Saturday Nighty were cut short by the death of the producer, so Sondheim turned to scriptwriting for the television series Topper. A chance encounter with playwright Arthur Laurents led to Sondheim's meeting with Leonard Bernstein, who was composing the music to West Side Story. Impressed with the lyrics to Saturday Night, Bernstein asked Sondheim to collaborate on the new songs. The result was a Broadway (and Hollywood) classic,...
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Summer, Donna 1949-
Born Ladonna Gaines in the Boston area, Donna Summer got her first taste for singing in her church choir. Her idols ranged from gospel legend Mahalia Jackson to rock singer Janis Joplin, and soon Summer was singing with a local rock band. Dropping out of high school, she headed to Europe, where she appeared in the German production of Hair. Summer sang and acted in other European musicals and performed regularly with the Vienna Folk Opera. In Munich in 1975 writer-producers Giorgio Moroder and Pete Bellote tapped Summer to record a hot new disco-based number, which was released later that year in the United States. "Love to Love You Baby" became an instant classic, most notably because of Summer's repeated orgasmic moans. The song was featured as the title track on her debut album and helped launch the disco revolution.
Summer specialized in disco songs but made a point of trying to expand that range. "I was totally aware I had more going for me," she said later, and some critics agreed, noting her soulful, full-throttle vocal style. By 1977 Summer had racked up three hit albums for Casablanca Records, including I Remember Yesterday, on which she explored a wide pop range, from Tin Pan Alley to Motown. She was also proud of her songwriting, displayed in the...
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Wonder, Stevie 1950-
As a child Steveland Morris had played harmonica, banged toy drums, and sang in the church choir, but no one was prepared for his Motown audition. When producer Berry Gordy saw that Morris, then age ten, and blind since birth, had mastered piano, organ, harmonica, and drums, he signed the young prodigy to a contract and changed his name to Little Stevie Wonder. In 1962 his first rhythm and blues album, Little Stevie Wonder: The Twelve-Year-Old Genius, was released. "Fingertips Pt. 2," a raucous live cut, became Wonder's first number one hit. He enjoyed an integrated audience during the 1960s, and the Rolling Stones were his opening act in 1964. Wonder's contributions to the Motown hit factory during his teens included the standards "Uptight" (1966), "I Was Made to Love Her" (1967), "For Once in My Life" (1968), and "My Cherie Amour" (1969). He cowrote all of these songs, which demonstrated his wide musical range and natural instrumental ability.
By the release in 1970 of Signed, Sealed and Delivered, which he produced, Wonder was expressing his desire to break free of Motown's signature style to pursue his own musical ideas. On Where Fm Coming From (1970), Wonder cowrote all the songs with Syreeta Wright, whom he married in 1971. That year, Wonder turned...
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People in the News
Black soprano Marian Anderson was honored on her seventy-fifth birthday, 27 February 1977, with a concert at Carnegie Hall attended by First Lady Rosalyn Carter.
William Armstrong received the Newberry Medal for Children's Literature on 22 January 1970 for his novel Sounder.
On 3 May 1976 Saul Bellow was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for his novel Humboldt's Gift. In October of that year he became the first American writer since John Steinbeck in 1962 to win the Nobel Prize for literature.
After almost twenty years of recording, rock 'n' roller Chuck Berry scored his first—and only—number one hit with the novelty song "My Ding-a-Ling" in October 1972.
In March 1970 three women won National Book Awards: Elizabeth Bishop for her poetry collection, Lillian Hellman for her memoir An Unfinished Woman, and Joyce Carol Oates for her novel Them.
Writer Jorge Luis Borges was awarded the first twenty-five-thousand-dollar Inter-American literature prize on 22 August 1970 for representing Latin American culture.
Pierre Boulez conducted Elliott Carter's A Symphony for Three Orchestras in its world premiere by the New York Philharmonic on 17 February 1977. In May of that year Boulez left...
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Fiction: Collected Stories, by Jean Stafford
Drama: No Place to Be Somebody, by Charles Gordone
Poetry: Untitiled Subjects, by Richard Howard
Music: Time's Ecomium, by Charles Wuorinen
Fiction: no award
Drama: The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds, by Paul Zindel
Poetry: The Carrier of Ladders, by William S. Merwin
Music: Synchronisms No. 6, by Mario Davidovsky
Fiction: Angle of Repose, by Wallace Stegner
Drama: no award
Poetry: Collected Poems, by James Wright
Music: Windows, by Jacob Druckman
Fiction: The Optimist's Daughter, by Eudora Welty
Drama: That Championship Season, by Jason Miller
Poetry: Up Country, by Maxine W. Kumin
Music: String Quartet III, by Elliott...
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William ("Bud") Abbott, 78, famed as half of comedy team Abbott and Costello, 24 April 1974.
Julian ("Cannonball") Adderley, 46, jazz saxophonist, 8 August 1975.
Kurt Adler, 70, Czech-born pianist-conductor for the Metropolitan Opera, 21 September 1977.
Samuel Adler, 81, abstract painter and sculptor, 12 November 1979.
Conrad Aiken, 84, poet, 17 August 1973.
Duane Allman, 24, rock guitarist with the Allman Brothers Band, 29 October 1971.
Eddie ("Rochester") Anderson, 71, radio and film performer, 28 February 1977.
Leroy Anderson, 66, composer-conductor, 18 May 1975.
William ("Bronco Billy") Anderson, 88, star of Western silent films, 20 January 1971.
Louis Armstrong, 71, New Orleans jazz trumpeter and bandleader known to the world as Satchmo, 6 July 1971.
W. H. Auden, 66, Pulitzer Prize-winning poet, 28 September 1973.
Gene Austin, 71, vocalist of the 1920s, 24 January 1972.
Angela Baddeley, 71, British-born film actress best known for television's Upstairs Downstairs, 22 February 1976.
Josephine Baker, 68,...
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Carl Belz, The Story of Rock (New York: Oxford University Press, 1972);
Joachim Ernst Berendt, Jazz, A Photo History (New York: Schirmer, 1979);
Gerald Bordman, American Musical Theater: A Chronicle (New York: Oxford University Press, 1978);
Milton W. Brown, Sam Hunter, John Jacobus, Naomi Rosenblum, and David M. Sokol, American Art (New York: Abrams, 1979);
Gary Busnar, It's Rock 'n' Roll (New York: Messner, 1979);
John Cage, Empty Words (Middletown, Conn.: Wesleyan University Press, 1979);
Patrick Carr, ed., The Illustrated History of Country Music (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1979);
Steve Chappie, Rock 'n' Roll is Here to Pay (Chicago: Nelson-Hall, 1977);
Allen Edwards, Flawed Words and Stubborn Sounds: A Conversation with Elliott Carter (New York: Norton, 1972);
Bob Greene, Billion Dollar Baby (New York: Atheneum, 1974);
Lloyd Grossman, A Social History of Rock Music: From the Greasers to Glitter Rock (New York: McKay, 1976);
Leslie Halliwell, Film Guide (New York: Scribners, 1979);
Charles Hamm, Contemporary Music and Music Cultures...
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Important Events in the Arts, 1970–1979
- An "information" exhibition, highlighting the fusion of art, text, sound, light, and video, is held in New York City at the Museum of Modern Art.
- "American Top 40," a weekly countdown of hits on the pop music charts hosted by Casey Kasem, debuts on nationwide radio.
- The recording industry introduces quadriphonic discs.
- The singing group Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young record "Ohio," protesting the killing of four students by the National Guard at Kent State University.
- The film and soundtrack album Woodstock are released.
- Guitarist Jimi Hendrix chokes to death after a heavy dose of drugs and alcohol; singer Janis Joplin dies less than three weeks later of a drug overdose.
- On February 5, Who Cares?, choreographed by George Balanchine and featuring the music of George Gershwin, is performed for the first time by the New York City Ballet.
- On February 25, two Vincent Van Gogh paintings are auctioned for a record $2.175 million in New York City.
- On March 10, the National Endowment for the Arts grants $706,000 to twelve symphony and opera companies.
- On July 11, the twentieth annual Marlboro Music Festival opens in Marlboro, Vermont.
- On September 29, Paul...
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