The year was 1745

Sophie von Anhalt-Zerbst was supposed to change her language, her religion, and even her first name to be suitable for her prospective husband’s family. While he stayed in his rooms playing with his massive collection of tin soldier armies, Sophie, alone and friendless in her new country, was studying, often pacing her suite of rooms…

The year was 1938

Magda was fed up. She wanted a divorce. But she did not ask her husband. Instead, she asked Adolph Hitler. Not only had Hitler arranged her first meeting with Joseph, but years later, he had set up Magda and her husband and their six adorable blond, blue-eyed children as the poster family for the Third…

The year was 1948

Lyndon Johnson was a born wheeler-dealer.  While still in his 20s, Lyndon won election to the U.S. House of Representatives from Texas in 1938 and again in 1940.  But it quickly became apparent to him that the senate was where the power was.  Lyndon was in luck – in April of 1941, Morris Sheppard, after…

The year was 1968

Richard Nixon knew campaigning. Running for president in 1963, even though he was just out of the hospital (his knee, slammed in a car door, had become infected), Nixon pushed himself to campaign almost up to the moment he would appear on TV for the first-ever televised presidential debate. Nixon refused to be made-up for…

The year was 1884

What did the richest man in the world go to great lengths (pun intended) to hide? John D. Rockefeller, the world’s first billionaire, had not been a happy kid. The problem was his father, William, a wandering snake oil salesman and scam artist, who had two wives (plus a couple of kids by a mistress)….

The year was 1920

The Republican Party needed a candidate. Someone who looked “presidential” – Ohio senator, Warren G. Harding. Harding had a formidable secret weapon – his wife Florence, five years his senior. If Florence could not be president, she could be married to one. They hired a public relations guru, Albert Lasker. He emphasized Harding’s president-ability. But…

The Year was 1963

“Good eating, Mr. President,” said the sign around the 1963 Thanksgiving turkey’s neck. “We’ll let this one live,” John F. Kennedy said, in essence pardoning the turkey. The turkey lived, but Kennedy himself did not. He was assassinated four days later, six days before Thanksgiving. Where did the tradition of pardoning a Thanksgiving turkey come…

The year was 1929

The Great Depression?  Prohibition?  Nothing bad touched Joe Kennedy; he just kept making money.  Attracted by the glamour of Hollywood and the gorgeous women, Joe decided to get into the movie business.  He wined and dined the hottest of them all, Gloria Swanson.  One of his presents to her was an opulent movie set dressing…

The year was 1948

Nov. 2, 1948 was Election Day. The war was over, the Allies had been triumphant, defeating Germany and Japan on their own turf. The Great Depression was rapidly becoming a distant memory as GIs, returning for the war, were going to school on the GI Bill, getting married, having babies, building houses. The county was…

The year was 1949

Who knew what when? Did Ronald Reagan, 38, know about the evils of cigarettes? Or cigarette marketing? Maybe he wouldn’t have been so eager to send Chesterfields to all his friends for Christmas – no matter how much they paid him – if he had known about Edward Bernays, the Father of Public Relations. Bernays…