The actress was shocked by friends and family for her 30th birthday. Also, Daniel Craig loves juice
Drew Barrymore and husband Will Kopelman toasted Barrymore's new cosmetics line, Flower Beauty, at New York City's Willow Road. [US]
Kate Bosworth's fiance Michael Polish threw her a surprise Roaring 20s themed 30th birthday party at The Edison in Los Angeles. [People]
Leonardo DiCaprio filmed his last scenes for "The Wolf of Wall Street" at Manhattan restaurant, Rao's. [NY Post]
Jake Gyllenhaal, his mom, and another friend dined at ABC Kitchen and had spaghetti. [NY Post]
Seen & Heard
Sofia Vergara loves herself some strawberries and whipped cream. [WhoSay/Sofia Vergara]
Adam Levine picked up some coffee and takeout at The Oaks Gourmet in Los Angeles. [US]
Justin Bieber took a photo of spaghetti and meatballs mid-eating and wrote, "so good." [Instagram/JustinBieber]
Hayden Panettiere and Eva Longoria snacked on cookies during the Golden Globes. [Instagram/Hayden Panettiere]
Eva Longoria raided the mini bar at her hotel. [WhoSay/EvaLongoria]C
Charm City Cakes showered Julia Louis-Dreyfus with a super fun birthday cake. [WhoSay/Julia Louis Dreyfus]
Daniel Craig picked up six juices at Liquiteria in New York City's East Village. [NY Post]
‘Roaring 20s’ will return post-pandemic, analyst predicts
Despite the challenges remaining to overcome the Covid-19 pandemic, once it ends and recovery begins there will be a second ‘Roaring 20s’, a leading analyst has predicted.
Euromonitor’s Spiros Malandrakis believes a second ‘Roaring 20s’ is on the horizon post-pandemic
Speaking to The Spirits Business earlier this year as part of the World Spirits Report, Spiros Malandrakis, head of research – alcoholic drinks, Euromonitor International, said the industry should be under no illusion that it will take a long time to recover from the impact of Covid-19.
IWSR Drinks Market Analysis previously forecast that it could take until 2024 for the alcoholic beverage industry to return to pre-pandemic sales levels.
However, Malandrakis said he expects the trade to recover sooner than 2024, and forecasts a party era as revellers celebrate freedom following months of lockdowns to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
Malandrakis said: “I wouldn’t say 2024, but I also definitely don’t think it will be 2021 – more likely, we will see recovery at the end of 2022, 2023.
“But the one thing I increasingly think is that with vaccines, we now have some capacity to start thinking ahead of the nightmare. The parallel I’ve been making is with the Spanish flu that ended in 1920 there were two to three major waves, lives were decimated.
“In my mind, it’s not a coincidence sociologically that in the months and years that followed, we had years of cabaret culture in Berlin, one of the most hedonistic eras, the whole ‘Great Gatsby’ era. All around the planet, people woke up, got out of bunkers, and had the best time of their lives for 10 years.
“This is going to be a Game of Thrones winter, we cannot brush that away. Craft [spirits] will be decimated, the on-trade will be decimated, there will be many casualties.
“But I increasingly think we might see significant bounce back, which, regardless of the economy, in terms of volume growth, new on-trade establishment ideas, after all of this we will see something similar to the 1920s, rather than just a revisit to 2019. I really think we will see another ‘Roaring 20s’.”
Farmers Were Stuck With Surplus
A farmer with a chicken, circa 1925.
FPG/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
The speakeasy party culture popularized in books, movies and magazines was only accessible to a small portion of wealthy, urban and mostly white Americans. Black Americans and immigrants faced violence from the newly revived Ku Klux Klan, and many workers’ wages either didn’t keep up with productivity or fell off completely. For farmers in particular, the Great Depression basically began after World War I.
During that war, U.S. farmers had increased food production to feed European allies. Afterward, prices and demand dropped, and farmers were stuck with an oversupply they couldn’t sell.
𠇌oming out of the war when exports fall, [farmers] get into this very unfortunate feedback loop,” says David Sicilia, a history professor at the University of Maryland. “Prices are falling and in order to continue to survive, farmers basically respond by planting even more. So there’s overproduction layered on top of overproduction, and so they get into this kind of vicious cycle.”
Overproduction also became a problem with manufacturing companies. Even though families that couldn’t afford to pay for radios, cars, dishwashers and other expensive items upfront could now purchase them on credit, the amount of new products companies produced still exceeded the number that families were able to buy. One of the contributing factors to this overproduction was companies’ desire to expand and drive up profits for shareholders.
Juan Negroni (opinion): Are we poised to enter a new Roaring '20s?
Actress Joan Crawford is seen dancing the Charleston in “Our Dancing Daughters” in Hollywood, California, in 1928.
Imagine we&rsquore in the year 2030. In looking backward, what will the years between 2021 and 2030 have been like? Will there be a pattern similar to what happened in the United States after the 1918-19 pandemic? That was followed by a decade tagged as &ldquoThe Roaring Twenties.&rdquo
The 1920s had their good aspects. World War I was behind us. The peace that followed raised the standard of living. Millions of women voted for the first time. It was the beginning of America&rsquos love affair with the automobile. And people danced away to the toes-in, heels-out twisting steps of the Charleston.
There was also a dark side to that 10-year span. The Prohibition Act in 1920 outlawed saloons. The booze business went underground with bootleggers and speakeasies flourishing. Crime followed with the likes of Prohibition Agent Eliot Ness in patrol cars chasing thugs such as Al Capone down Chicago&rsquos side streets.
Moreover, the 1920s was a time of exuberance as Scott Fitzgerald depicted in his 1925 novel, &ldquoThe Great Gatsby.&rdquo It was also a time of a free-for-all excessiveness that led to the Stock Market Crash of 1929. Cole Porter later embodied the mood of that era in his song,&ldquoAnything Goes.&rdquo
How about other pandemics? Did they lead to transformations? History.com lists 18 major pandemics that ravaged human populations and eventually resulted in changing history. Several wiped out sizable segments of the world&rsquos populations.
In Athens, in 430 B.C., a pandemic took two-thirds of the population. The Justinian Plague in 541 A.D. resulted in the loss of 50 million lives over the next 200 years.
Between 1347 and 1351 the Black Death eradicated 75 to 200 million people across Europe and Asia. The 1918-1919 Spanish Flu Pandemic took 50-100 million lives globally. In the United States, the toll was 675,000.
(Recently, I heard someone being interviewed say, &ldquoWe&rsquore at 530,000 right now. If we don&rsquot go past that 1918-1919 mark of 675,000 from a 100 years ago it won&rsquot be so bad.&rdquo His &ldquoit won&rsquot be so bad&rdquo rang in my ears. First, there is little comfort in such comparisons when loved one are taken from us. Secondly, in 1918 the United States had 103.2 million people. In 2020 it was 331 million. So, the percentage of deaths to the total population was much higher a century ago.)
Undeniably pandemics and other virulent diseases have decimated populations. That perhaps is a major constant throughout history. Diseases kill people. And this in turn changes the everyday lives of survivors.
History has shown that pandemics, plagues, and pestilences have transformed religious beliefs. For instance, during the late middle ages in Europe mysticism expanded following the spread of plague. In other settings Christianity replaced paganism. They have also contributed to the heightening of bigotry and prejudices against minorities &mdash as may have happened recently with the increase of hate incidents against Asians in the United States.
So, what will the post pandemic bring us? Among the prognostications about everyday life are no more handshakes. Touching elbows will be in. Cash will no longer be used, as in the &ldquoStar Trek&rdquo TV series. Online shopping will keep growing. Malls will continue to disappear.
Will training and education sessions at all levels be primarily on Zoom or its likes? All I know is that my five grandchildren&rsquos distaste for being quarantined grew exponentially with each shutdown. Atop the list of their hopes is to be back in school . in person.
What about questions addressing more transformative changes? Will the balance of power between the United States and China shift in the latter&rsquos favor? And if it does, how will it affect each of us? Will pandemics such as the COVID-19 one be fully conquered? Will this pandemic affect the direction our country takes in addressing climate change? These are but a few of the many major issues that will be facing us, our grandchildren, and possibly their children.
I for one as many others foresee change. I don&rsquot know what or when. But that pent-up anxiety will end as COVID-19 is eventually halted and we shed our restricting bubbles. There will be a period of exuberance as there was after the 1918-1919 pandemic. As a forever optimist I like to believe the 2020s will roar steadier than the 1920s did. And we&rsquoll be OK, so long as we remember what has happened in the past.
Maybe George Santayana, a Spanish-American philosopher and poet, hit on a truth when he said, &ldquoThose who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it&rdquo?
Just the news that interests us. Big plays, smart moves, and otherwise curious indicators of beer's possible future.
It’s March 2021—do you know where your Champagne coupes are?
Headlines from outlets like CNN, Bloomberg, and Fortune have evoked a new “roaring ’20s” this spring and summer as people in the U.S. get vaccinated against COVID-19, and as restrictions are loosened on capacity for bars and restaurants. Drawing parallels to the 1920s, some analysts predict a wave of spending, alcohol consumption, sexual freedom, and general jubilation similar to the one that followed the end of World War I and of the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic.
While the general mood heading into spring is hopeful, there are reasons—related to the economy, public health, and consumer behavior—to be critical of a too-tidy “roaring ’20s” analogy. The current U.S. economy is shaky at best, with the Federal Reserve and government stimulus payments continuing to play massive roles in keeping the guardrails on. A great number of young consumers (a major drinking demographic) have been disproportionately hard hit by the turbulence. Many economists also believe the U.S. is experiencing a “K-shaped recovery,” in which wealthier people rebound while poorer people increasingly struggle. Wealthy Americans saved more during the pandemic while the unemployment rate climbed as high as 14.8% last April.
In that sense, perhaps, the 1920s parallels are apt: The already-rich popped Champagne while the vulnerable squeaked by. So who will get to celebrate this so-called return to the roaring ’20s? And how do we know that’s what’s ahead?
People are still, on the whole, quite wary of returning to bars in particular. A March 18 report from RBC, a large Canadian bank, cites a Numerator report that found among all vaccination groups—those already vaccinated, those waiting their turn to be vaccinated, and those who refuse to be vaccinated—going to a bar or nightclub ranked the lowest among activities they feel comfortable doing now.
Meanwhile, many of the legislative and technological gains for alcohol in the past year—e-commerce, direct-to-consumer shipping, new permissions for to-go alcohol sales—incentivize at-home consumption rather than a return to the on-premise. Any “roaring ’20s”-themed parties may be more likely to happen with a few close friends at home than in a packed bar or restaurant.
But what was so “roaring” about the 1920s anyway? As Mark Hulbert points out for The Street, citing data from the National Bureau of Economic Research:
Three recessions occurred between 1920 and 1927
Half of all months of the 1920s were recession months
Americans were ecstatic to put the devastation of WWI and the flu pandemic behind them. But our contemporary understanding of the decade tends to forget its melancholy undertones, including survivor’s guilt and a cold sense of fatalism. We also gloss over the fact that Prohibition loomed over the entire decade, and with it, police raids, bathtub gin, and mob control of alcohol.
Instead, our collective consciousness cherry-picks the “roaring” part of the decade that only applied to some people during certain points in time. The Great Gatsby, for all its glitter, is not a book about happy people. Many Black citizens at the time were fighting for their very lives and rights, demanding an end to lynchings and segregation in public accommodations. Women had barely just earned the right to vote. Times were changing, but the confetti didn’t rain down equally.
And given today’s socioeconomic climate, the post-pandemic recovery isn’t expected to fully arrive until 2022.
Spring optimism obscures it, but the U.S. is still in dark waters. Unemployment rates are climbing out of their 2020 hole, but long-term unemployment numbers remain stubborn. According to Harvard Business Review, people who have been out of work for at least six months represent 40% of total unemployed people, an increasing rate that’s comparable to the Great Recession of 2008 but otherwise unparalleled by any other time in the last 60 years. Even taking into account the most recent round of economic stimulus payments, to think that long-term unemployed people will suddenly be flush with cash to spend at bars and restaurants this spring is unlikely. Even people who are spending are lately choosing budget-conscious items, like store-brand groceries and practical fashion items.
Consider that nearly a quarter of people who lost jobs during the pandemic have not gone back to work. The rate is slightly higher among young people 25% of workers aged 18-24 who lost jobs during the pandemic say they are still unemployed one year later. Young, legal-age drinkers with less disposable income are a problem for bars, restaurants, and alcohol producers generally. If they don’t have spare cash, they can’t spend on alcohol.
“There are signs that Gen Z was going to drink a little bit less anyway, so I do think that reality, coupled with economic hard times, could be a double whammy that hits the on-premise,” says Bart Watson, chief economist for the Brewers Association. The on-premise refers to bars and restaurants, which are likely to be slow to recover as drinkers are wary of returning to those venues.
Watson also notes that the employment rate of men aged 21-34 is one of a handful of economic indicators that economists in the beer industry take into account when modeling consumption patterns. (While unemployed young men may spell trouble for beer in particular, that might not translate to alcohol overall. A December report from Rabobank found that in the past 15 years, women and people of color have increased their share among alcohol consumers relative to white men.) Watson cites a line coined by Lester Jones, the chief economist for the National Beer Wholesalers Association: “No dinero, no cerveza.” That’s particularly true for young consumers, Watson adds.
Meanwhile, wealthier people who have saved at high rates during the pandemic might be willing to spend more on alcohol when they return to bars and restaurants, often referred to as “pent-up demand.” Watson says he’s “somewhat skeptical” that there are enough of these people, spending at a high enough rate, to entirely jumpstart the bar and restaurant industry. He’s encouraged by this year’s St. Patrick’s Day on-premise numbers, which show people returning to bars and restaurants, but those sales were still roughly -20% below 2019 spending levels for the same holiday period. Full economic recovery for bars and restaurants isn’t expected to occur until at least 2022.
“I’m dubious that we’re going to see enough of a swing to push us to big positive numbers versus where we were in 2019, especially when you add in some of the negatives hanging over this,” he says.
In short, the outlook for bars and restaurants is looking up compared to last year, but that’s still a long way from 2019 normalcy—or from the roaring ’20s.
By early March, the U.S. was vaccinating 2 million people per day. Eighty percent of states say they’ll meet President Joe Biden’s May 1 deadline to open vaccinations to all adults. This is unequivocally good news, but it doesn’t mean every adult will have full immunity by summer—a necessary precursor to the hospitality industry’s full recovery.
Recently, the Penn Wharton Budget Model—a widely used economic forecasting model— estimated 25% of people in the U.S. will opt not to receive the vaccine. If social activities then surpass 70% of pre-pandemic levels, the model shows an additional 4.6 million people could catch the virus in 2021. Those new cases would come just as researchers are beginning to understand more about the long-term impacts of the virus on patients’ health, a phenomenon referred to as “long COVID.” This is to say nothing of the potential repercussions of COVID-19 variants, which have thus far caused the biggest impact in California, Colorado, Florida, Michigan, and Texas—while rapidly spreading to other states.
Depending on how many people get the vaccine and what the virus’ long-term health effects turn out to be, summer may still be a liminal period in the long slog out of COVID. By May 1, the U.S. is only expecting to open vaccination to all adults it would then, presumably, take months for all adults to schedule appointments and receive their full doses.
Fred Fettinger, a 39-year-old software engineer in Chicago, is feeling apprehensive about returning to bars, even as vaccines roll out. He hasn’t been inside a bar or restaurant in more than a year, and he wants himself and his friends to be fully vaccinated before he’d return. And even then, he has doubts.
“Honestly I think it’s going to take a few months after that before I feel comfortable again,” he says. “I don’t even know how much of it is even rational. … It’s been a while since I was in a crowded bar situation so now it’s almost like I have to prove to myself that this is okay again.”
He says he’d also take into account how roomy a bar or restaurant is, and whether it was continuing to require mask wearing, which would make him more comfortable. Given the timetable for vaccinations, plus his few months of readjusting to the idea of bars and restaurants, that would mean Fettinger might not feel safe returning until mid-to-late fall—just as Chicago’s weather is turning cold and prohibitive to some forms of outdoor dining.
Fettinger isn’t alone in his unease. RBC’s March 18 report stated that of people who are already vaccinated, almost 60% say they are still waiting for experts to say it is safe to return to pre-COVID activities without restrictions. Even among people who say they won’t get the vaccine (the group most comfortable doing almost all activities), 40% aren’t comfortable returning to a bar or nightclub right now.
Fettinger says he and his friends plan to keep getting together outdoors this summer for drinks on a patio or for socially distanced disc golf. Maybe by next winter, he says, he’d consider visiting a bar or restaurant, depending on how COVID case numbers look. In the meantime, he’s taking advantage of breweries’ to-go sales, particularly of special-release beers. Like most people, Fettinger has developed some new behaviors during COVID—like drinking those special-release beers at home rather than at the brewery—that might continue for years to come. Breweries, which have adjusted their own sales models, are likely to keep offering such options.
Before the pandemic, the experience of drinking in bars hadn’t changed much in the past decade. Technology has slowly made its way into the average bar, but the basic script for drinking there hasn’t really evolved. As Daniel Levine, a futurist, trends expert, and director of the Avant-Guide Institute, put it: “When the pandemic is in our rearview mirror, I think a lot of the future is going to look a lot like the past did.”
But within just a few short years, legislative and technological advances have shifted the paradigm around eating and drinking at home, making it easier and more entertaining. Coupled with permanent closures of bars and restaurants during COVID, that could spell a long-term trend toward off-premise drinking. Small hospitality business owners are nervous: Axios found 52% of bar and restaurant owners are “highly concerned” about staying open through the end of June.
Consider the greater availability of at-home entertainment like on-demand video, streaming sports, multiplayer video games, and—thanks to COVID—virtual beer festivals. Then, factor in growing alcohol delivery options, new ready-to-drink packaged cocktails that replace the demands of at-home mixology, and loosened regulations around restaurants or bars selling alcohol to-go. For many people, Saturday nights in with Netflix, DoorDash, and a few bottles ordered from Drizly have replaced weekly bar visits. Uber Technologies, in acquiring Drizly for $1.1 billion this February, provided the strongest evidence yet that e-commerce alcohol sales will grow to a greater portion of the U.S. alcohol market.
Chikuan Wu, a 40-year-old who works in banking and real estate in Chicago, says cooking more and drinking at home over the past year has made him realize how easy and enjoyable that experience can be. With more free time on his hands, Wu started growing his own herb garden and learned to cook some of the Taiwanese dishes that his family ate growing up.
“Before the pandemic, I was always out doing something,” Wu says, describing a busy social life at bars and restaurants as well as a part-time job DJing. “For the past year, I’ve done this life where I stayed at home, so now I know I’m not missing out on anything.”
Wu thinks he’ll be “hesitant” to get back to bars and restaurants, even once he and his parents, who he sees weekly, are fully vaccinated.
“It’s been a whole year of living this kind of life,” he says. “It’s a slow flip to get back, mentally, to how it was.”
A report released this month by the American Psychological Association (APA) found the pandemic has indeed wrought profound emotional effects, with 31% of U.S. adults reporting their mental health had worsened during the pandemic. To expect that switch to flip back to “normal” instantly is unrealistic.
Even before the pandemic, a shift in the U.S. from drinking at bars and restaurants to drinking at home had been underway for years. According to IWSR, which provides data and analysis about the alcohol industry, the U.S. saw a 20% decrease in the number of businesses serving alcohol between 2001 and 2019. By September of last year, the National Restaurant Association found 100,000 restaurants in the U.S. had permanently closed as a result of the pandemic. All this leaves consumers with fewer options to drink beer in public, while technology makes it easier than ever to drink at home.
The Brewers Association’s Bart Watson says this is one reason he’ll be taking the next few months of on-premise data with a grain of salt.
“With the number of outlets going down, the places that have stayed open probably are busier. But that doesn’t mean the total on-premise is busier,” Watson says. “We’re going to get some places saying, ‘Oh we’re super busy!’ or see BeerBoard data that maybe spikes up, but it misses that that’s partly because the other four bars that were around that location have closed.”
It’s too early to say whether the pandemic’s nudge toward at-home drinking, combined with fewer bars and restaurants at which to drink, will fundamentally change consumers’ habits long term. But again, the trend lines already pointed that way. Data from the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) shows draft beer sales as a proportion of overall beer sales have mostly been growing since 2002, increasing from 9.2% that year to 10.8% in 2017. But between 2017 and 2019—to say nothing of the plummet in 2020—draft beer as a proportion of overall beer began to fall again, to 10.5% in 2019.
It’s imperative, over the coming months and years, that breweries or other alcohol producers meet customers where they are, says Julia Herz, a beverage industry consultant and CEO of HerzMuses Enterprises. That might be in restaurants or taprooms, but many drinkers have been and will continue to be at home or socially distanced. Herz cites brewery drive-thrus, outdoor dining “bubbles” or gondolas, virtual events, webstores, and taproom table reservations as tools that are all likely to remain relevant for years to come.
Rather than talking about what consumers want “during COVID” or “after COVID,” Herz says there’s no such distinction. Whether it’s the actual virus circulating in the population, or simply the habits we’ve built during COVID, its impacts are long-ranging. “Before” or “after” are now simply “life.”
“This is no longer a situation to think of as a pandemic that’s one and done,” Herz says. “It will likely be endemic and cultural for the rest of our lifetime.”
To that end, she’s dismissive of the roaring ’20s parallel. A war has a definitive endpoint, a date that a treaty is signed and the troops begin to return home. COVID abides by no such calendar.
Celebrity Headshots From Before They Were Famous
For some stars, it was just a few short years before they hit it big, while for others it would take decades before they became household names. One thing is for sure though: Our favorite films and TV shows would not be the same without them. To remind you just how far some of your favorite celebs have come since starting their careers, we rounded up the best celebrity headshots from before they were famous. Ahead, see a pre-Save the Last Dance Kerry Washington, Nicole Kidman's very '80s hairstyle, what a teenage Rita Moreno looked like before snagging her Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her role as Anita in West Side Story, and a baby Meryl Streep&mdashan icon even then.
Young Leo got his start acting in commercials in the late '80s, but the child star landed a recurring role in the original Parenthood (yes, there was a sitcom version before the 2000s drama version). He moved on to movies like What's Eating Gilbert Grape, Romeo + Juliet, and hit superstar status with Titanic.
Long before she founded Goop, Paltrow was a budding actress in the '90s (with a Hollywood pedigree) who starred in made-for-TV movies like Cruel Doubt (pictured here) before she got her part in Se7en. While Se7en didn't end well for her character (spoilers for those who don't know what was inside the box), it launched her film career and she went on to do Moonlight and Valentino, Emma, Sliding Doors, Shakespeare in Love, Iron Man, and so many more films before launching her lifestyle brand.
Keanu Reeves was working through the '80s, but it wasn't until his turn as Ted Theodore Logan in Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure that he really made a big name for himself. He then starred in classics like Speed, Point Break, and The Matrix films.
Before he transformed himself from adorable goofball Andy Dwyer on Parks & Recreation into buff superhero Starlord on Guardians of the Galaxy, Chris Pratt got his start on the UPN/CW series Everwood.
Now this is a story all about how his life got flipped, turned upside down. Back in the '90s, before he was a Genie in Aladdin or saving the world on Independence Day or fending off aliens in Men in Black, Will Smith was known best for his rapping skills and made it big with the NBC series, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.
Sandra Bullock made her screen acting debut in 1987 in a movie called The Hangman, but it wasn't until 1992 when she was spotted in the charming rom com Love Potion No. 9, and in 1993 in a memorable role in Demolition Man that she started to gain real attention. She became a household name after 1994's action flick, Speed.
Before she made her way to the United States, Nicole Kidman started acting in Australian films. She skyrocketed to fame in Hollywood in 1990 in the movie Days of Thunder, with her future husband Tom Cruise.
You know her now as the wisecracking Karen on the hit sitcom Will & Grace, but Megan Mullally started acting in the early 1980s. She had a series of small parts in movies like Once Bitten and guest spots on TV shows before landing a recurring role on The Ellen Burstyn Show.
Tom Cruise started acting in the 1980s, and slid into our lives wearing a button-down shirt and socks in Risky Business. He sealed his movie star gig as Maverick in Top Gun.
Before he became the Terminator, and way before becoming the Governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger laid claim to the bodybuilding title of Mr. Olympia by showing off his enormous muscles.
Rita Moreno stole everyone's heart as Anita in West Side Story, but the young actress had been in show business for 11 years by then. After winning the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress, her career was catapulted into a decades long career that led to roles in the 9 To 5 TV series, Sesame Street, and most recently on Jane The Virgin and Netflix's One Day At A Time.
Before she had political dreams, Sex and the City star Cynthia Nixon had her heart set on the big screen. Nixon began her acting career in the after-school special scene and it wasn't until 20 years later in 1998 that she landed her role as Miranda Hobbs, our favorite badass lawyer.
The Spanish sensation was known abroad before hitting it big in the states with Vicki Christina Barcelona. You may have remembered her starring alongside Johnny Depp in Blow or with Tom Cruise in Vanilla Sky in the early 2000s. Nowadays, Cruz has taken on bigger roles and collaborated with husband Javier Bardem.
Meryl now has an impressive 21 Oscar nominations, but back in 1976 she was just getting started. It was her 1979 role in Kramer vs Kramer that really put her on everyone's radar. Streep continued to wow us as she swapped from TV to the silver screen effortlessly. Four decades later, people can rank their top five Streep films at the drop of a hat.
Winona Ryder was born in Minnesota and moved with her parents to California when she was seven years old. The actress didn't get her first role in a major feature film until she was 15, when she appeared in Lucas in 1986.
Although it was his role as Gob Bluth in Arrested Development that launched Will's career, the Canadian actor had several guest roles on popular shows like The Sopranos and Sex and the City before his big break .
After attending SUNY Purchase, Stanley Tucci headed to Broadway and landed roles in major films like Prizzi&rsquos Honor. Tucci received his first nomination for an Academy Award in 2010 for his chilling role in The Lovely Bones, but had been a household name long before then.
Macaulay Culkin shot his first film, Rocket Gibraltar, at the age of 8. The next year he gained comedic acclaim in Uncle Buck, and then, of course, Home Alone happened, which made him one of the biggest stars of the '90s.
Kerry Washington first started acting as a teenager in Manhattan, working with a theater group that used improv to tackle social issues. In 2001, Washington caught the world's attention in Save the Last Dance. Thanks to her award-winning performance on Scandal, the actress landed a spot on Forbes' 2018 list of the highest paid actresses in TV.
Even though she had minor roles in Horse Whisperer and Remember the Titans, Kate Bosworth didn't get her big break until Blue Crush in 2002, when the Los Angeles native was 19 years old. How does Bosworth feel about film's sequel buzz? "I would love to do it, I really would," she said on Watch What Happens Live With Andy Cohen. "That movie is still such an important part of my life and it really gave me a career in many ways."
Before audiences saw Joan Allen debut in films like Compromising Positions or Manhunter (made within a year of each other), the actress built a solid career on the stage, winning a Tony for Best Actress for her role in Burn This in 1988.
Frances McDormand garnered a lot of attention for her first major role in the 1984 film Blood Simple. But she gained much more than just an award-winning career from the film&mdashMcDormand and her husband of 35 years met on the set and married that same year.
After graduating from Yale University in 1991, the Maryland-born actor found success with his first film, Primal Fear, in 1996 for which he was nominated for an Academy Award.
Chris Noth has had a successful television career for almost 40 years, playing notable characters on hit shows like Sex and the City and The Good Wife. But his first big role was in the '90s as Detective Mike Logan on Law and Order.
Andre Braugher began his career with a part in the 1989 film Glory, but his breakout role&mdashfor which he won an Emmy&mdashwas as Frank Pembleton on Homicide: Life on the Street in 1990.
When a then-19-year-old Alexis auditioned for Gilmore Girls, she had no prior experience on screen. Despite her inexperience, there was something about her that made Warner Bros. cast her as one half of the Gilmore duo. "She just jumped off the screen, you know. Those blue eyes," casting director Julie Mossberg described in an interview with Vanity Fair.
After earning a spot in the National Youth Music Theatre, due to a grant from the Prince's Trust, Idris Elba worked in various odd jobs in his home city of London while auditioning. The actor's first TV role was for the soap opera Family Affairs in 1997. He later became more prominent thanks to his part on HBO's The Wire.
Her daughters, Rainey and Margaret Qualley, may be some of Hollywood&rsquos newest stars (Margaret made her on-screen debut in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood this year), but not too long ago it was Andie Macdowell who was rising up in the industry. Macdowell landed her first role in the 1984 film Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes.
Allison Williams may be the daughter of newscaster Brian Williams, but she still had to pay her dues in Hollywood. After growing up in Connecticut and working with an improv troupe at Yale University, Williams was cast in her breakout role as Marnie Michaels in HBO's Girls in 2010.
The actress found success in her home country of Australia with roles like For Love Alone and Flirting (which she costarred in with her best friend Nicole Kidman) in the late '80s. The actress moved to Los Angeles in 1993, but didn't attain her movie star status until her role in Mulholland Drive in 2001.
After returning from World War II, Roger Moore received a contract with MGM studios and made his first film, The Last Time I Saw Paris in 1954. After a stint in television, the British actor joined the iconic James Bond franchise, taking over the part from Sean Connery in the '70s.
With a famous father like Jon Voight, it's no wonder Angelina Jolie didn't wait long to step in front of the camera. The A-list actress appeared in her first film, Lookin' to Get Out, with Jon at the age of 7. She later returned to film in the 1993 movie, Cyborg 2: Glass Shadow, and became one of Hollywood's rising stars a few years later with her role in Hackers.
Madonna moved to New York City in 1978 to study at the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and pursue a career as a dancer. In 1980, she joined the band Breakfast Club as their lead singer, but ventured out on her own a year later. By 1982, the pop icon had scored a record deal with Sire Records and her song "Everybody" was high on the dance charts.
If you didn't catch Uma Thurman's debut film, Kiss Daddy Goodnight, don't feel bad&mdashit was a low-budget thriller that was panned. But a year later that the actress received her breakout role in the 1987 film The Adventures of Baron Munchausen.
The Blondie lead singer wasn't always so blonde. After growing up in a small New Jersey town, Debbie Harry moved to Manhattan to pursue her music career. It was there that she met her boyfriend, guitarist Chris Stein, bleached her hair (to emulate Marilyn Monroe), and founded the new wave band that would eventually storm the country's music charts.
It's hard to remember a time when Goldie Hawn didn't dominate the acting world, but back in 1967 she was just starting out with her first role as Sandy Kramer on the television show Good Morning World. Her first major film role in Cactus Flower cemented her spot in cinema and snagged her an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.
Although she's had powerhouse vocals all her life, it was at the age of 12 that Celine Dion met her music manager (and future husband) René Angélil. By 1990, the Canadian singer released her first American album Unison with Columbia Records.
After getting married at the age of 16, Marilyn Monroe (neé Norma Jean Baker) lived with her first husband in California. She signed a contract with 20th Century Fox in 1946 while her husband was overseas, they divorced, and she took the stage name of Marilyn Monroe. Her first role with the studio was in Dangerous Years in 1947, but her big break was in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes in 1953.
The esteemed actor has received an Oscar nomination every decade for the last 40 years&mdashand his stellar career all started with his first picture, The Cry Baby Killer, in 1958.
The actress is best known for her roles in films spanning the late '90s and early '00s, but Anne Heche's first major role was in television on Another World from 1988 to 1992.
Although Robert De Niro filmed his first movie, The Wedding Party, in 1963 at the age of 20, it wasn't until six years later that the film premiered. By its 1969 premiere, he had already appeared in several other productions. The Academy Award-winning actor's career really took off after his 1973 film Mean Streets.
Betty White has been on TV for more than 80 years and is the definition of an icon. But how did the comedic actress get her start? Back in the '40s she began working in radio and appeared on various game shows. In 1949, she got her own radio show called The Betty White Show, and that same year she began cohosting the variety show Hollywood on Television.
A young Brad Pitt caught the world's attention in 1991 when he made his big screen debut as a hitchhiker in Thelma and Louise. It wasn't long after that the hunky actor began landing leading roles in films like A River Runs Through It, Legends of the Fall, and Interview With a Vampire.
British actress, Dame Judi Dench, began her career on stage performing Shakespearean plays in London and extending into television and films in the UK. Today, the actress is best known for her role in the James Bond franchise as M, first dating back to License to Thrill in 1999.
Born in South London, David Bowie's first hit song, "Space Oddity" was released in 1969. However, the music icon's breakout album Ziggy Stardust wasn't released until 1972.
Before Helen Mirren could boast about her acting Triple Crown (she's won an Oscar, Emmy, and Tony award), she was hard at work on the stage as a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company. Mirren made her film debut in 1967, but it wasn't until 1994 that the actress earned her first Academy Award nomination for The Madness of King George.
After first working on Broadway, Marlon Brando left the theater behind and began to pursue a career in film. In 1951, he earned critical acclaim and an Oscar nomination for his role as Stanley Kowalski in A Streetcar Named Desire.
Warren Beatty made his movie debut in 1961 in Splendor in the Grass&mdashthe actor would go on to be a 14-time nominee at the Academy Awards and star in classic films like Bonnie and Clyde and Reds.
Jodie Foster emerged on the scene as a child actor on the television show Menace on the Mountain in 1970. A few years later, she starred in her first feature film called Napoleon and Samantha, and began working with Disney studios.
Lynda Carter became notable after winning the Miss World USA beauty pageant in 1972 representing Arizona. After, Carter pursued a career in acting and appeared in guest spots on TV shows like Nakia and Starsky and Hutch. In 1975 that her superpowers kicked in and she was cast in the Wonder Woman TV show.
John Cusack was one of Hollywood's leading men throughout the '80s and '90s, but his first movie Class isn't one people typically remember. In the 1983 film, Cusak had a smaller part, while Rob Lowe was the lead.
Denzel Washington began acting in the late 1970s, by 1982 he had landed his first substantial role on the television series St. Elsewhere.
Laura Dern's mother, Diana Ladd, held more than 120 roles on television and film, so it should come as no surprise that Dern inherited her mother's acting chops. The Big Little Lies actress' first role was in her mother's film White Lightning in 1973.
Before she strolled through the halls of West Beverly High School in 90210, Shannen Doherty booked gigs as a child actress in television and film, including Little House on the Prairie in 1982.
Although most people recognize Cheryl Ladd as Kris Munroe from the '70s iteration of Charlie's Angels, the actress initially got her start with a small part on Josie and the Pussycats.
Before she was an A-lister, Sarah Jessica Parker got her start on the television show Square Pegs, then took on roles in films like Footloose and Girls Just Wanna Have Fun.
Born into a military family in North Carolina, Julianne Moore began pursuing a career in acting at the age of 24. After a few minor television roles, Moore made her film debut in the 1990 flick, Tales from the Darkside: The Movie.
Susan Sarandon got into acting after she graduated from college. After gaining credit for smaller roles throughout the early '70s, Sarandon was cast in the cult classic movie The Rocky Horror Picture Show in 1976.
The legendary '60s actor's first film was War Hunt in 1962. Three years later, the star won a Golden Globe for his role in Inside Daisy Clover&mdashbut it wasn't until he landed the lead in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid in 1969 that his full potential was realized.
He may be an international movie star these days, but George Clooney paid his dues on TV before he struck it big. The Kentucky-native booked minor roles before earning more meatier parts on shows like ER and The Facts of Life.
The Alabama native’s new track features production from Kenny Beats, where he flipped Topol’s 1971 song, 'If I Were A Rich Man'. The light-hearted song also appeared in the ‘Fiddler On The Roof’ musical in the same year. Thanks to the very crisp production, the track has now transformed into Flo Mill’s thrilling single where she raps about her “rich bitch tendencies” while flaunting her newfound fame. “Hit her, then leave her alone (I'm gone), Cartier my cologne (Yeah)/ Hit up the country club with my bros (My bros), Stupid shit, it's just a double standard/ I made my own lane and I took advantage (Flo Milli shit), You can't hate on pu**y if it rule the planet (Yeah, yeah)/I just came in the game and I'm doin' damage (If I was a rich man).”
A recent data point that supported the optimism came in the form of the government’s January Personal Income and Spending report. The latest round of $600 stimulus checks, along with the resumption of supplemental federal unemployment benefits, translated into a 10% month over month increase in income. With spending fairly contained, the personal savings rate shot up to 20.5%, the highest since the spring.
“The moral of the story,” according Grant Thornton Chief Economist Diane Swonk, “is that stimulus checks are extremely quick to hit consumer wallets, which is important in getting money to those who need it most.” It also shows that the economy is still in need of assistance. Without the $900 billion that Congress voted on in December, “the economy would be limping along,” according to economist Joel Naroff.
Just a month ago, the consensus estimate for U.S. growth was more than 4% this year, which would be the strongest pace in two decades. With a good chunk of the Biden plan likely to pass through the budget reconciliation process, many are now looking for growth to jump by 6-7% this year, which would be the best rate since the mid 1980s.
Naroff adds that the totality of emergency rescue and Federal Reserve asset purchases has been able to “overcome the negative impacts of the pandemic. By sometime during the summer, we should have wiped out all of the economic decline and GDP will have returned to where it was at the end of 2019. That is impressive.”
The economy recovering lost ground does not mean all is well for everyone. Research from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York underscores that fact. Lower-wage workers (those that earn less than $30,000 annually) and are employed as food servers, cashiers, home health aides and child care workers “have borne much more of the brunt of job losses during the pandemic than higher-wage workers.”
Meanwhile lower-middle-wage workers ($30-$50K/year), who have jobs like administrative assistants, hairdressers, carpenters, and truck drivers, and upper-middle-wage workers ($50K-$85K), who are often teachers, police officers, accountants and financial managers, have seen jobs vanish since COVID. Compare that with employment among high-wage workers (over $85K), like software developers, engineers, lawyers and business executives, which is now slightly above where it was before the pandemic hit, because they have been able to telecommute.
The suffering for lower wage earners should be addressed with the new round of stimulus. But there is some concern that the size of the package may be more than the economy actually needs — and as a result, we could see prices rise. In his testimony before Congress in February, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell did not seem particularly worried. While acknowledging that prices will likely rise this year, he said that if things overheat, the Fed has “the tools to deal with it.”
Naroff asks, “Which mistake would you prefer making, spending too little and having a substandard economy or spending too much and possibly creating higher than desired inflation?” In his view, the Fed can control inflation, “but as we saw during the 2010s, too little stimulus leads to growth that doesn’t make many households feel very good.”
The &aposNew Woman&apos
The most familiar symbol of the “Roaring Twenties” is probably the flapper: a young woman with bobbed hair and short skirts who drank, smoked and said what might be termed “unladylike” things, in addition to being more sexually 𠇏ree” than previous generations. In reality, most young women in the 1920s did none of these things (though many did adopt a fashionable flapper wardrobe), but even those women who were not flappers gained some unprecedented freedoms.
They could vote at last: The 19th Amendment to the Constitution had guaranteed that right in 1920, though it would be decades before African American women in the South could fully exercise their right to vote without Jim Crow intimidation.
Millions of women worked in blue collar jobs, as well as white-collar jobs (as stenographers, for example) and could afford to participate in the burgeoning consumer economy. The increased availability of birth-control devices such as the diaphragm made it possible for women to have fewer children. And new machines and technologies like the washing machine and the vacuum cleaner eliminated some of the drudgery of household work.
Did you know? Because the 18th Amendment and the Volstead Act did not make it illegal to drink alcohol, only to manufacture and sell it, many people stockpiled liquor before the ban went into effect. Rumor had it that the Yale Club in New York City had a 14-year supply of booze in its basement.
What the New Roaring Twenties Will Be Like
“As in the Roaring 20s, which followed the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic, society will revert to an era of indulgence . . . there will be a surge in ‘sexual licentiousness’ as well as a ‘reverse of religiosity.’ ” —The Independent
In the New Roaring Twenties, the U.S. government will pass a sweeping prohibition on company-mandated virtual happy hours. Violators will be arrested and impounded on a Zoom with an improv troupe.
The New Roaring Twenties will be a golden age of music—specifically for the genre The Few Bands That Were Somehow Able to Survive on Three Stimulus Checks.
Following a year of isolation, revellers will flock to crowded underground dress-easies, where they can take in an intoxicating array of athleisure and feel the illicit sensation of strangers safely breathing on them.
In the New Roaring Twenties, sexual freedom and safe sex will peacefully coexist. Prior to sexual congress, people will ask, “What kind of protection do you have—Pfizer, Moderna, or Johnson & Johnson?”
Not wearing makeup will become socially acceptable, but men will continue to ask their barefaced co-workers if they’re sick.
In the New Roaring Twenties, the ultimate form of self-love will be starting a Substack.
The opulent cocktail parties of the New Roaring Twenties will consist of awkward and stilted conversations, owing to years of social atrophy. Alcohol sales will jump eighty thousand per cent.
In the New Roaring Twenties, America’s health-care system will still be broken, but at least people will have access to Paramount+.
Cockroaches will collectively grow disillusioned with big-city living and move out to a place in the country where they can spread their six legs. Many will share think pieces about it on TikTok.
Certain brazen, unapologetic women will never return to wearing bras. They will call themselves “flappers” (before anyone else can).
In the New Roaring Twenties, our old clothes will become sentient and feel bad that they no longer fit us.
Real-estate prices will drop to record lows, landlords will no longer have the upper hand, and nervous supers will begin to fix things that aren’t even broken yet.
In the New Roaring Twenties, all A.I. smart assistants will be named after millennial white men. And no one will feel weird about bossing around Amazon Andy.
Longtime residents of pastorally enchanting towns will be priced out of their homes by gentrifying cockroaches and have no choice but to move to Florida.
In the New Roaring Twenties, essential workers will get V.I.P. treatment at night clubs, the D.M.V., and Pinkberry. But they will still be tragically underpaid.
Costume-party themes will expand beyond “disco fever” and “Hawaiian luau” to include “superspreader Havana nights,” for which patrons will dress up as Republican senators.
In the New Roaring Twenties, A.O.C. will be President, Amy Adams will finally win an Oscar, and Lin-Manuel Miranda will write a musical version of “The Great Gatsby” with an all-BIPOC cast. It’ll earn him his nineteenth Pulitzer and first Teen Choice Award.
Institutions built on gatekeeping and performative élitism—from McKinsey to Sweetgreen—will cease to be shiny bastions of capitalism, and everyone will just, like, vibe.
In the New Roaring Twenties, Gen Z influencers will ironically perform Gal Gadot’s “Imagine” at parties to pay homage to that tone-deaf debacle. The song will be followed by a moment of silence, and then a vaccine-certified orgy. It’ll be disgusting but cathartic as hell.
The similarities between now and then, 100 years apart, are uncanny. Back then the world had been wrecked by war and death on a vast scale, first by the Great War of 1914-18 and then by the Spanish flu of 1918-20, which killed 228,000 people in Britain alone.
I’ve thought this ever since I began researching the between-the-wars era, first for the official companion books to Downton Abbey and then while writing my novels, The Mitford Murders . These are based on six real-life sisters, among whom were a Bright Young Thing, a witty novelist, a Nazi, a Communist and a duchess.
Part of the reason I find that era was such an intense period is because it was so full of extraordinary contrasts. The Roaring 20s is so-called because of the economic boom in America that led to mass production of enticing new consumer goods and technology – from radio sets in every household to the first commercial flights – together with the wild abandon encouraged by hot jazz music.
But I think it was also born out of a realisation that if life could be brutish it was best to get out there and grab it by the short and curlies. It was a time of prosperity, glamour, hedonism…
Now we’re on the precipice of something similar. I think conditions are febrile for it to happen again. As we recover from this latest virus, we can look forward to a casting-off of inhibitions that might revolutionise a new age with our ever-developing technologies.
‘Well, they said bring a bottle!’ New Year’s Eve celebrations, 1925
If ever a phoenix rose out of the ashes, it was jazz. In 1919, the Original Dixieland Jazz Band came from New Orleans to play at London’s newly opened Hammersmith Palais and blew the lid right off. It led to a royal invitation to play at Buckingham Palace for the Prince of Wales (the naughty one, who would abdicate the throne to be with his American divorcée wife) and then everyone wanted to be a cool cat.
No one had ever heard music like this before. The musicians didn’t even read sheet music but improvised on their crazy-looking instruments. They played at nightclubs that sprang up everywhere – both smart and seedy – encouraging people to get up on the floor and shake their stuff to the black bottom or charleston. No more wallflowers trying to fill in their dance cards and sedately trotting out a waltz.
Limited pub licensing hours had been introduced during the war so establishments that were willing to serve out of hours were very popular. At the notorious ‘43 Club’ in Soho, dukes and judges jived alongside gangsters such as Alice Diamond, leader of the Forty Thieves, an all-female shoplifting gang from Elephant & Castle. The infamous hostess Mrs Meyrick went to jail a few times (usually for bribing policemen) and would be greeted by her grandest customers at the gates of Holloway Prison with bottles of champagne. She must have put something in her cocktails: three of her daughters were married into the peerage.
Cocaine fuelled much of this nightlife even after it was made illegal in 1920. Just as there’s concern now about its widespread use in the middle classes, cocaine was notoriously popular with the smart set. Cole Porter sang about it and Tallulah Bankhead, the movie star who smoked 120 cigarettes a day, quipped: ‘Cocaine’s not habit-forming. I ought to know. I’ve been using it for years.’
Bright Young Things dazzled
Today we’d probably call them influencers, but back then they were dubbed The Bright Young Things – the good-looking, daring young people who dominated the newspapers with their outrageous fashions and indulgent lifestyles. They threw flamboyant fancy-dress parties – cross-dressing themes were particularly popular – and were the first to suggest guests ‘bring a bottle’.
Elaborate ‘treasure hunts’ were staged by them with clues scattered across London, exasperating and thrilling people in equal measure with their painted green fingernails and the stealing of policemen’s helmets. One treasure-hunt clue was printed in the Evening Standard and another baked into Hovis loaves.
A lot of them were rich aristocrats – the Jungman sisters, Bryan Guinness, Stephen Tennant – but you didn’t have to be. The real requirements were originality and a sense of fun: Cecil Beaton, Evelyn Waugh, John Betjeman and Nancy Mitford were all signed up.
Cabarets with jazz bands were all the rage, like this one in 1925
The advent of ‘super cinemas’ that seated over 2,000 people had audiences flocking to see Rudolph Valentino, Mary Pickford and Charlie Chaplin. Greta Garbo was discovered modelling hats in a department store and the dream of being ‘discovered’ was born. This in itself was a revelation: you didn’t have to be born into riches but could become a star wearing furs on the red carpet.
Fanzines were published with tips and tricks on how to look like the stars. American actress and dancer Louise Brooks sported a razor-sharp bob that spawned a legion of imitations and was so controversial it was blamed for the five-fold increase in divorces.
Max Factor coined the phrase ‘make-up’ in 1920, with his products that let women emulate the looks he created so brilliantly on the stars: lip pomade was the first gloss. Cherry-red lips and cake mascara were no longer the preserve of actresses and prostitutes but worn by everyone from the Duchess of Marlborough to nurses out on the town.
Hemlines rose each year in the decade, from ankle to knee, and dresses were deliberately loose in fit to make them better for dancing. Corsets were finally abandoned in favour of a boyish, flat-chested shape, achieved with girdles that ran from bra to thigh and held up one’s stockings into the bargain – early Spanx.
Evening dresses were as elaborate as possible, sewn with thousands of tiny glass beads that shimmered as the wearer moved. Feathers, lace and chiffon were all used unsparingly and shoes – visible now – were heeled and decorated. This was flapper chic.
Men, too, could free themselves from the Victorian strictures of the three-piece suit if they chose. Dandies such as Cole Porter, Noël Coward and Cecil Beaton strutted out in wide-legged trousers and narrow blazers, spats and silk cravats.
Romance rules were ditched
Before the war women, by and large, were given an education that was designed merely to cover the basics – the three Rs of writing, reading and ’rithmetic – and, for the upper classes, subjects considered to make them good marriage material, such as needlework and music. My great-aunt was instructed to strike up spontaneous conversation when she and her governess paused by a shrub in the garden, the idea being that she would be able to talk to even the most recalcitrant guests at a party. There was little concept of women going to university: those that did go were not allowed to earn degrees until 1920.
But in the Roaring 20s, women no longer had to be married to have independence. With the loss of almost an entire generation of young men at war, many women statistically did not have the opportunity to marry and raise a family. A census in 1921 revealed there were close to 1.75 million more women than men in Britain. Newspapers discussed ‘the problem of the surplus women’ with suggestions that spinsters be shipped to the colonies to find husbands. Many tried their best and there was a steep rise in the number of personal ads – an early version of dating apps – with women foregoing conditions such as GSOH or non-smokers and instead declaring ‘will gladly marry officer totally blinded’.
A relative of mine recalled being invited to a ball and wondering why, if it was only women, everyone was in full evening dress. She then glimpsed the occasional man in white tie and realised that there simply hadn’t been enough men to invite. ‘It’s hard to explain,’ she said, ‘as if all the men one had ever danced with were dead.’
But while it was sad for many women, in other ways it was liberating. A woman could be single not because she wasn’t pretty enough or good enough at talking to plants but because of circumstance or even choice. Living in apartment blocks that housed only single women, they called themselves ‘bachelor girls’ and went out to work. It was hard – if you think there’s a pay gap now it was a canyon then – but they pioneered lives that were entirely different from previous generations and hastened the rate of progress in a way for which we today must be grateful. There were women working in offices, as scientists, doctors, policewomen, politicians, even aviators. They went to work and showed that it could be done.
All this independence, not to mention the jazz music, led to a loosening of sexual inhibitions too. Sex before marriage was still taboo, largely because of the fear of unwanted pregnancy, but when Marie Stopes published Wise Parenthood with advice on contraception it was reprinted several times throughout the decade.
Its advice was not always wise – douching with a soapy sponge – but it was at least a frank, even encouraging, discussion of the subject. The alternative, experienced by many, could be horrendous.
I was told of a cousin who, on the eve of her marriage, was taken into the garden where her marital ‘duties’ were explained. ‘How perfectly disgusting!’ she cried and called the wedding off.
In bohemian circles, particularly the Bloomsbury group of writers, many lived openly as bisexual or gay: Virginia Woolf, Vita Sackville-West, Lytton Strachey, E M Forster. It was part of a slow but certain shift in attitude that eventually paved the way for legal protection.
Bright Young Things at a fancy-dress do in 1927, including aristocrat Stephen Tennant (back row, second from left), Cecil Beaton (back row, right) and movie star Tallulah Bankhead (front centre)
Technology and travel soared
Many new inventions had been brewing since the early 1900s but the war escalated innovation and mass production. The 20s saw electricity in every home and lighting on every street, and the telephone network grew at an exponential rate – one phone box in 1921 led to 24,000 by the end of the decade.
Ford produced its motor cars at a price that was affordable to the new middle classes and commercial flights began, heralding modern travel as we know it (the destination not the journey). The Conservative politician Duff Cooper’s description of his first flight to Paris in 1925 could be for a modern budget airline: ‘A new and unpleasant experience. I felt rather sick and very frightened. Saved very little time and got no luncheon.’
While Zoom calls with colleagues were a novelty for us last year, in 1928 it was international telephone calls, albeit prohibitively expensive: a three-minute call to New York cost £9 – a month’s wages for a skilled tradesman.
While Britain and the rest of Europe was left broke – and broken – by the war, America flourished. Its factories had not turned over to produce arms but instead concentrated on developing a new wave of goods designed to be ‘leisure-saving’, such as refrigerators and vacuum cleaners. The annual Ideal Home Exhibition was even renamed The Daily Mail Efficiency Exhibition in 1921.
It was a daring concept that encouraged women to spend less time on household chores and go out to work or play instead. There was even an early precursor to online shopping with the novel idea of catalogues, allowing people to order from home and pay on the ‘never-never’.
As we’ve all been stuck at home for the past year, it’s no surprise that we’ve become even more obsessed with interior design. Our counterparts in the 1920s would understand.
For generations furniture was either inherited or functional but the 1925 International Exhibition of Modern Decorative and Industrial Arts in Paris encouraged people to rethink their homes.
This was the birth of Art Deco and social-climbing women who called themselves interior designers. Evelyn Waugh, who shone a brilliant satirical light on this era with his novels Vile Bodies and A Handful of Dust, describes entire walls of mirrors being installed in the drawing rooms of great houses, but it wasn’t too much of a fantastical stretch. Take a look at Eltham Palace, fabulously rebuilt in 1933 by Stephen Courtauld and his wife using the best of the new Art Deco ideas.
Nostalgia can be dangerous – a denial of present pain. But reflection is good and I would encourage us to take inspiration from the perspective of the past, to see how the resilience and daring, even the glorious decadence, of the people who lived before us led them to create a brighter future. One that is out there for us, too. Most of all, let’s remember how to have fun in the Roaring 20s Mark II.
Picture credits: Hulton Archive, Getty Images, Bridgeman Images, Mary Evans