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Two obscure surveyors, Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon, marked the boundary between Maryland and Pennsylvania in the mid-1700s. In time, the line seemed to indicate the divide between northern and southern states. The term “Dixie,” a nickname for the South, is derived from Dixon.
Meriwether Lewis (left) and William Clark led an expedition assigned by President Thomas Jefferson in 1803 to study the newly obtained Louisiana Purchase. Funded with $2,500 from Congress, the men left in 1803, sighted the Pacific Ocean in 1805 and returned to Washington, D.C. in 1806. Lewis later committed suicide.
The tywo men are forever linked because of a series of seven debates in Illinois conducted in the 1958 campaign for Douglas’ U.S. Senate seat. Douglas won the election, but Lincoln earned enough attention to be nominated for president in 1860. His chief opponent was Douglas. This time, Lincoln won.
A bitter feud between two poor families in West Virginia has become an American idiom for a never-ending rivalry. The two families reconciled after years of murders and warfare in the 1800s and the early 1900s.
Hatfield Clan in 1897
Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow were bank robbers in the 1930s whose exploits captured public attention during the Depression. They loved to take pictures of themselves and send them to newspapers to taunt the police. Both were killed after being ambushed by lawmen. A later movie introduced them to a new generation.
Ruby red slippers from the “Wizard of Oz”
A classic radio program about life in the black community, it ran from the 1920s through the 1960s, and originally featured white men using black dialogue. When the show moved to television, the actors were all black.
The originals: Gosden and Correll
Television stars: Alvin Childress and Spencer Williams
Born on the radio in the 1930s, this program featured a Texas Ranger who survived an ambush and rescued people with the help of his faithful Indian comrade Tonto. The program continued on television into the 1960s. The show’s theme music from the William Tell Overture is still familiar as is Tonto’s term for his friend, “Kimosabe.” Clayton Moore, who played the Lone Ranger for decades, won the right to retain that identity until death.
Disney’s classic 1955 movie about a rogue mutt named Tramp and an elegant Spaniel named Lady created an unforgettable image that still enchants audiences.
Cartoon characters Rocky the flying squirrel and Bullwinkle the moose became television fixtures in the 1960s. The cartoons used sarcasm to view the world, while the heroes battled Russian villains.
Born in a 1930s comic book, the crime-fighting duo moved into television in the 1960s. Their latest incarnation in the movies has made them the top cartoon characters ever brought to life. The latest version of their adventures, The Dark Night, has topped $1 billion in worldwide sales since its release in 2008.
Burt Ward and Adam West
This country’s premier comedy team, George Burns and Gracie Allen were headliners in vaudeville and on radio and television from the 1920s through the 1950s. After Allen retired, Burns continued a solo career into the 1990s.
America’s first great film comic duo, Englishman Stan Laurel (far left) always tried to do the right thing, but inevitable got fat Oliver Hardy into enormous trouble. Their style of humor, called slapstick, set a standard that continues into modern times.
The foremost Hollywood dance team of the 1930s and 1940s, Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers appeared in 10 films together. Astaire remained America’s premier male dancer during a career that lasted more than 70 years.
Comic ventriloquist Edgar Bergen brought his dummy to life on radio in the 1930s and 1940s. His act did not transfer to television because his lip movements were too obvious. Bergen’s daughter, Candace, remains a popular actress.
Bud Abbott (top) and Lou Costello were among the top comedians of the 1940s. Their signature routine, “Who’s On First?” is still repeated today.
Zany comic Jerry Lewis (far right) and his urbane singing partner Dean Martin were the topic comedy duo in the 1950s. Both went on to successful solo careers. Lewis still runs the annual Muscular Dystrophy marathon fundraiser every Labor Day.
Comic singers and musicians Tommy Smothers (left) and older brother Dick became social icons after their 1960s television show included anti-war commentary that led to them being fired by CBS. Tommy was always complaining that “Mom liked you best.” They continue to perform.
Previously unknown comedians, Dan Rowan (far left) and Dick Martin became instant superstars with the success of their 1960s television show “Laugh-in.” A rapid-fire series of jokes and skits, the program captured the imagination of American audiences, catapulted several actors to fame and created a wide range of idioms, including: “Sock it to me,” and “Here comes the judge.”
Comics who played drug addicts, Richard “Cheech” Marin (far left) and Tommy Chong became heroes to teenagers in the 1970s by promoting free love and marijuana. Later movies cemented their status. Both are still performing.
Composer Richard Rodgers (far left) and lyricist Lorenz Hart were a song-writing team of the 1920s and 1930s whose songs remain standards of American music. They include “My Funny Valentine,” “Blue Moon,” and “Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered.” After Hart died, Rodgers went on to great Broadway success with Oscar Hammerstein III, creating “South Pacific” and “The Sound of Music.”
Boyhood friends, Paul Simon (far right) and Art Garfunkel were the top American singing duo in the 1960s and 1970s. Their 1980s concert (right) in New York’s Central Park drew 250,000 people. Simon (far right), a poet as well as a singer, continues to win Grammy awards.