History Personified

"History Personified" is a history podcast that takes listeners deeper into different historical stories and eras. From military, to politics, to film, television, and radio, to sports, and more, "History Personified" will help bring listeners closer to the stories behind interesting historical events and figures.
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History Personified


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"History Personified"

Oct 7, 2016

Considered by many to be the greatest entertainer of all time, Sammy Davis, Jr. unquestionably made an indelible mark on history. Dancing, singing, acting, comedy, impressions...simply put, Sammy could do it all. In part one of this two-part series, we talk with Burt Boyar, one of Sammy's closest friends, about the life and times of this icon. Whether he was with his Rat Pack buddies or going solo, Sammy electrified audiences across the globe. But there were many private struggles behind the scenes that helped shape Sammy, for better or worse. 

In this episode, we talk about Sammy's formative years, his time in the military, which included a horrific incident where he was literally painted by some of his fellow soldiers, the car accident that cost Sammy his eye, and some of his early relationships. 

Burt co-wrote several books with Sammy, including "Sammy: The Autobiography of Sammy Davis, Jr.," which is available on Amazon. Check out his works there. And, as always, if you enjoy this episode, make sure to share it with others!

Sep 30, 2016

Did you know the U.S. Marshal Service is the oldest federal law enforcement agency in the United States? Founded in 1789, the Marshals have served in a variety of roles since their inception, and have been present for some of the most important historical events in American history. They protected civil rights leaders like Martin Luther King, Jr. and Medgar Evers, were part of the response to the Native American occupation of Alcatraz, and were involved in the Ruby Ridge incident. 

U.S. Marshal Service Historian David S. Turk joins "History Personified" to discuss his new book, "Forging the Star: The Official Modern History of the United States Marshal Service." We talk about the Marshals' responsibilities, their involvement in various historical events, and what they're up to now. Download, enjoy, and share!

Sep 23, 2016

Sadly, we are seeing mass shootings happen more and more in today's day and age. Some believe stricter gun control will stop it, while others believe better mental health services will deter these events. Regardless, it is an issue that Americans have been dealing with a lot longer than the last couple of decades.

In September, 1949, World War II veteran Howard Unruh perpetrated what was later called his "Walk of Death," shooting 16 victims in his New Jersey neighborhood. 13 died, including three children under the age of 10. Some were chosen specifically, and some were random. After the shootings, Unruh engaged in a standoff with police before giving himself up. He was judged to be criminally insane, though there was no trial, and was committed for the rest of his life, dying in 2009 at the age of 88. What precipitated the attacks? Why did Unruh do these terrible things?

We discuss this and more with writer Patrick Sauer, who wrote an article on Unruh for the Smithsonian's website. Download, learn, enjoy, and share!

Sep 16, 2016

The JonBenét Ramsey murder, the Unabomber, the D.C. snipers...these are all cases FBI legend Jim Fitzgerald worked on during his long and storied law enforcement career. Jim joins "History Personified" to discuss these cases, his formative years with the FBI, and a new CBS docu-series that debuts this Sunday, entitled "The Case of: JonBenét Ramsey." Fitzgerald, who was part of the FBI's Behavioral Analysis Unit, was instrumental in bringing the Unabomber to justice, leveraging forensic linguistics in the process. He also helped guide the sniper case, suggesting the shooters weren't white, and that there was more than one. Listen in as Fitzgerald talks about his time on both's a fascinating look at the life of a truly legendary FBI lawman. 

Recommendation of the week: "The Case of: JonBenét Ramsey" debuts on CBS on Sunday, Sept. 18th at 8:30-10:30 PM, ET/8:00-10:00 PM, PT, and concludes on Monday, Sept. 19th at 9:00-11:00 PM, ET/PT. Check it out!

Sep 9, 2016

This week's episode features a chat with University of Louisville professor Tyler Fleming about international bestselling book "The Power of One," a historical novel. The book, written by Bryce Courtenay, is a semi-autobiographical look at life in South Africa in the mid-20th Century, a time of racial divide and persecution. The main character, a young white Englishman who calls himself Peekay, must navigate through bigotry and bullying while learning about the world around him. Boxing, music, religion, political upheaval...the book has it all. 

A new segment debuts this week, our "Recommendation of the Week." Each week, we will spotlight a book, documentary, podcast, or other piece of content. For this week, our recommendation is to check out "The Power of One," which is available on Amazon. 

Sep 2, 2016

Belle La Follette was often overshadowed by her more well-known husband, U.S. Senator Robert La Follette, but she made a huge impact on American society in her own right. During the early 20th Century, she stood against racism and war at a time where taking such a stance was neither popular nor widely shared. Belle was also a big influence in the women's suffrage movement.

For this episode, I chat with Santa Clara University Professor Nancy Unger, who has authored a book titled, "Belle La Follette, Progressive Era Reformer." We discuss Belle's life and times, including why she turned down an opportunity to become the first female U.S. Senator. Enjoy!

Special thanks this week to Gabriel Simão for creating the new bumper music used this week...check out his Facebook page:

Aug 26, 2016

American evangelist Billy Sunday took a very unconventional route to the ministry, leaving behind a successful baseball career for the cloth, so the speak. A conservative Christian who eschewed drinking and carousing, Sunday was an influential preacher who helped bring about Prohibition. Yet, he wasn't always on the straight and narrow, as he his time as a ballplayer was marked with the excesses of the day. Sunday left all that behind, including a high-paying baseball contract, to enter the ministry. His career as a preacher was marked with incredible highs before he seemingly faded into obscurity, losing much of his family in the process. 

Neil Young, scholar, author, and co-host of history podcast "Past Present," joins us to take us through Sunday's life, discussing his impact on American culture in the early 20th Century. Don't miss out on this entertaining story, and make sure you check out Young's podcast as well!

Aug 19, 2016

Nelson Mandela is one of the most well-respected figures in history. Recognized as a major driving force behind the end of apartheid in South Africa, Mandela also helped unite what was a hugely divided nation. For this week's episode, we speak with respected journalist John Carlin, who was in South Africa from 1989, the year before Mandela was released from prison after 27 years, until 1995, the year after he was elected South Africa's first black President. We walk through Mandela's life, highlighting important milestones. Included in this is a discussion on Mandela's involvement with the South African national rugby team, an event that would become the basis for the Morgan Freeman-Matt Damon movie, "Invictus." Carlin wrote the book the movie was based on.

Carlin sheds insight on the life of Nelson Mandela that many may not be aware of. It's a journey through the life of an important historical force. 

Aug 12, 2016

It's part two of our discussion with C3 Entertainment's Eric Lamond, the grandson of Three Stooges legend Larry Fine! On this week's episode, we talk about the Stooges' relationship with notorious Columbia Pictures studio head Harry Cohn, as well as "You Nazty Spy," the very first Hollywood satire film to take on Adolf Hitler. Lamond talks about how proud of the film the Stooges were. We also discuss Larry's home life, his gambling habits, and his final years. 

Rumors are confirmed, myths are busted, personal details are shared...Stooges and classic cinema fans won't want to miss this historic look into the life of Larry Fine!

Aug 5, 2016

Was Larry Fine a major factor in the long-term success of the Three Stooges? Soitenly! Larry is often overlooked, as he was not spotlighted often in Stooges films. That usually fell to Curly, Shemp, Curly Joe, and even Moe. But Larry didn't need the spotlight to shine. He was "the great reactor," as he has been called, and the Stooges wouldn't have been the Stooges without him.

On this week's episode,  we talk with Larry's grandson, Eric Lamond, who is part of C3 Entertainment, which manages the Stooges brand. In this first episode of a two-part series, we talk about Larry's formative years, including how an acid burn drove him into violin-playing and boxing. We also talk about the night Shemp died (Larry was present), as well as the business behind the Stooges. So, download, watch out for slaps and eye-pokes, and be entertained!

Jul 29, 2016

Respected author and Los Angeles Times reporter Del Quentin Wilber has always had a nose for #truecrime stories and the history behind them. He wrote "Rawhide Down," which many view as the definitive account on the Ronald #Reagan assassination attempt. Now, he's written "A Good Month for Murder: The Inside Story of a Homicide Squad." As research for the book, Wilber spent months embedded with a Prince George County homicide squad, where he got to know a motley crew of detectives with quirks as interesting as the cases they sought to solve. He saw murder victims, took calls in the detective bureau, participated investigations, and, most of all, learned. Come along for the ride as Del discusses his experiences, and what he learned about how murder investigation has evolved through the history of the last 20-30 years. 

Warning: This episode contains content that may be objectionable. Listener discretion is advised. 

Jul 27, 2016

On this very special bonus episode, I chat with Adrian Miller, AKA the "Soul Food Scholar" about the history of soul food. Specifically, we dig into the history of how fried chicken became a staple of the soul food diet. We also learn some surprising facts, such as the fact that there is such a thing as vegan soul food. What?!?!

You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll get hungry...bon appetit! 

Jul 22, 2016

#LexLuger was part of some of the biggest moments in professional #wrestling #history. From winning multiple world titles, to jumping from #WCW to the #WWF and back to WCW, to debuting on the very first episode of "Monday Nitro," Luger has seen and done it all in the #prowrestling industry. We discuss his transition from pro football to pro wrestling, his time with the #FourHorsemen, leaving WCW for the WWF, whether or not he was supposed to be the next #HulkHogan, and why he went back to WCW for less money. We also discuss the changes in his life over the last ten years, and what he's up to today. 

Hear Lex's thoughts on being a Horseman, #EricBischoff and #RicFlair, working for the WWF with no contract and the circumstances around his departure, beating #Goldberg, and so much more. Enjoy!

Jul 15, 2016

Do you remember the Secret Service agent that climbs into the back of the car seconds after John Kennedy is shot, as shown in the footage? That was Clint Hill. And that's who I spoke with for this week's epic episode. 

Clint Hill served in the Secret Service under five U.S. Presidents: Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, and Ford. He's written a book with Lisa McCubbin, entitled, "Five Presidents: My Extraordinary Journey with Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, and Ford," in which he discusses his time in the Service. We cover so many seminal historical events from his view, including the Kennedy assassination, the death of MLK, Vietnam, Watergate and Nixon's subsequent resignation, and more. You will also hear his thoughts on the conspiracy theories that still surround the murder of JFK, as well as what happened when Nixon decided to head to the Lincoln Memorial to meet up with war protesters.

Don't miss this amazing conversation with a historical figure and true hero!

Jul 8, 2016

Jim Crockett Promotions took the wrestling world by storm in the 1980's, and was growing at a rate that rivaled the World Wrestling Federation. However, they did it in a way that portrayed professional wrestling to its fans as a "real" sport. This capitalized on a fan base that was turned off by the WWF's cartoonish characters and celebrity crossovers. Ted Turner bought the company from JCP in the late 80's, and it took a few years for the new brand to find its footing. Once it did, WCW soared to new heights that even the WWF had never reached. Learn more about what took WCW to the top, and what toppled them, as we finish up our two-part series with author/journalist Graham Cawthon. 

Jul 1, 2016

World Wrestling Entertainment is the biggest wrestling company in the world, with millions of fans across the globe. The company prefers the term "sports entertainment," and calls its athletes "Superstars" rather than wrestlers. But professional wrestling is undeniably at its core, and has been since its inception in the 1950's. How was the company started? How did it reach the heights it has attained now? How much of its success should be attributed to the red and yellow icon, Hulk Hogan? And what place does professional wrestling and WWE have in American history? Join us as we discuss these questions and more with author/journalist Graham Cawthon. 

Jun 24, 2016

In 1976, the most famous athlete in the world, Muhammad Ali, squared off with the most famous wrestler in Japan, Antonio Inoki, at the Budokan in Tokyo. According to a new book from our guest, Josh Gross, despite the fact that the fight itself was widely panned and didn't do well financially, this seminal event paved the way for mixed martial arts and UFC, and instigated a shift in pro wrestling, pushing it towards the concept of "sports entertainment." Gross' new book, "Ali vs. Inoki: The Forgotten Fight That Inspired Mixed Martial Arts and Launched Sports Entertainment," gives the fascinating background on how the fight came together, as well as the aftermath. We discuss what led to the fight, how pro wrestlers taught Ali to promote, and just how big of a star Inoki is in Japan.

Jun 17, 2016

Presidents usually get most of the attention, but First Ladies have their own legends as well...join us as Feather Foster, author of "Mary Lincoln's Flannel Pajamas," delves into several interesting stories about the wives of American Presidents. Listeners will recognize several familiar names, including Mary Lincoln, Julia Grant, Edith Wilson, and Eleanor Roosevelt. Hear why Lincoln wore flannel pajamas, how Grant accidentally showed support for the Confederacy, whether or not Wilson tracked mud into the White House, and how Roosevelt changed the First Lady role. 

Jun 10, 2016

This week's episode features part two of our discussion with biographer Douglas Century, the author of "Barney Ross: The Life of a Jewish Fighter." On this show, we talk about how the Pearl Harbor attacks led him into World War II, and why he may have been looking to commit "suicide by war." We also discuss the details of his actions at the Battle of Guadalcanal, where he personally killed 22 enemy soldiers, saving many of his fellow soldiers' lives in the process. Awarded the Silver Star as a result, but also suffering from his injuries, he became a drug addict. He kicked the habit, and become a drug addiction advocate, and later testified at childhood friend Jack Ruby's Warren Commission hearing. And that's not even all of it...enjoy!

#tags: boxing, Jewish, war, Ruby, WWII

Jun 3, 2016

Though his name has been forgotten by many, Barney Ross packed more into his 57 years than most will ever come close to accomplishing. Born in New York but raised in Chicago, Ross was a childhood friend of Lee Harvey Oswald's killer, Jack Ruby. He later testified at Ruby's murder trial as a character witness. Ross' father was killed in a robbery of the family deli; he was forced to grow up quickly as a result. He later turned to boxing. Ross' amateur career was supported by gangster Al Capone, and he went on to become a three-division world champion and Hall of Famer in boxing. After his retirement, be became a marine, and was awarded a Silver Star for his heroic actions during the Battle of Guadalcanal. While recovering from his wounds, he became addicted to morphine, which developed into a heroin addiction. Ross later kicked the habit and became an advocate before dying of cancer at the age of 57. What an incredible life! You do now want to miss part one of our discussion with Ross biographer Douglas Century, author of "Barney Ross: The Life of a Jewish Fighter."

#tags: boxing, war, Jewish

May 27, 2016

As we enter Memorial Day weekend, we take a look at the history of U.S. national memorials. Dr. Harriet F. Senie has written a book entitled, "Memorials to Shattered Myths: Vietnam to 9/11," which deals with memorials and how they fall short in their intention. Does education take a backseat to emotion? How are the Vietnam War, the Oklahoma City bombings, and 9/11 memorials connect to the Holocaust? We discuss these questions and more on this week's episode. 

#tags: memorials, Memorial Day, Vietnam, 9/11

May 20, 2016

This week's episode features a chat with Professor Cliff Williamson, an England-based British culture expert, about "Are You Being Served?," a legendary BBC sitcom from the 1970's. Featuring memorable characters such as Mr. Humphries, Mrs. Slocumb, and Captain Peacock, the show was a true reflection of the clash of the U.K.'s World War Two generation and the burgeoning Rolling Stones generation of the '70's. We look at the class system of that time, and how they progressed into the '80's. It's a unique look into the formation of the show, some of the behind the scenes stories, and more. 

#tags: British, sitcom, 1970s, John Inman, Mr. Humphries

May 13, 2016

On today's episode, Phil speaks with renowned author Mark Bowden regarding the conclusion of the Battle of Mogadishu, which was the basis for the book/movie "Black Hawk Down." In part one last week, we talked about the background of the battle, what led the U.S. into becoming involved in Somalia, the situation that President Bill Clinton inherited from President George H.W. Bush, and what went wrong in the fight. On this week's episode, we go over the conclusion of the battle, the aftermath, and Mark's involvement in the blockbuster movie, "Black Hawk Down." 

#tags: Black Hawk, military, Mogadishu, war

May 6, 2016

In 1993, the U.S. military was drawn into what started out as a peacekeeping mission in Somalia, as hundreds of thousands of Somalis died of starvation due to warring political factions in the country. Over a two-day battle, 18 U.S. soldiers died, and scores were injured. Hear Phil's conversation with renowned author Mark Bowden, who penned a series of articles that would become the basis for celebrated book and movie, "Black Hawk Down." 

#tags: Black Hawk, military, Mogadishu, war

Apr 29, 2016

"Duh-duh-duh-duh.......duh-duh-duh-duh-DUHHHHHH!" Those famous notes are recognizable to people all over the world as the opening for "Dragnet," starring Jack Webb. On this episode, we speak with author Michael Hayde about this seemingly forgotten star and his impact on the genres of radio, television, and film. You'll hear about how Webb got access to LAPD case files, the transition of the show from radio to television, Webb's love for jazz, and his later shows, "Emergency!" and "Adam-12." Don't miss this show, or Detective Friday might come looking for you!

#tags: crime, vintage, Hollywood, classic, TV, film, radio

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