Prosperity and the Production of Popular Entertainment

A timeline shows important events of the era. In 1920, Warren G. Harding is elected president with a landslide popular vote; a photograph of Harding is shown. In 1923, the Teapot Dome scandal rocks the Harding presidency; a photograph of the Senate committee during the Teapot Dome hearings is shown. In 1924, Henry Ford sells Model Ts for $300, and Congress enacts the National Origins Act, establishing quotas for immigration. In 1925, John Scopes is found guilty of teaching evolution in Tennessee; a photograph of Scopes is shown. In 1927, Charles Lindbergh flies solo across the Atlantic Ocean, and Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti are executed in Massachusetts; a photograph of Lindbergh standing in front of a plane is shown. In 1928, Herbert Hoover is elected president; a photograph of Hoover is shown.

In the 1920s, prosperity manifested itself in many forms, most notably in advancements in entertainment and technology that led to new patterns of leisure and consumption. Movies and sports became increasingly popular and buying on credit or “carrying” the debt allowed for the sale of more consumer goods and put automobiles within reach of average Americans. Advertising became a central institution in this new consumer economy, and commercial radio and magazines turned athletes and actors into national icons.

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