Self-Taught Artist and Savvy Business Woman Who Invented the First Novelty Toy Distributed Worldwide
Cecelia Rose O’Neill was many things … self-taught artist and sculptor, author and poet, suffragist and, for a time, one of the world’s richest women. But to most people, she was the woman who birthed “The Kewpies” — plump little cartoon characters and world-famous dolls with top knots, rosy cheeks, broad smiles, and sidelong eyes. Debuting in 1909, Kewpies were the world’s most widely known cartoon character until a guy named Disney introduced us to a cheeky mouse named Mickey in 1928.
A Black Hatter Whose Work Became the Buzz of Hollywood Studios
When Crowns: Portraits of Black Women in Church Hats, by Michael Cunningham and Craig Marberry was published in 2000, it honored a tradition deeply rooted in African American culture. One that poet Maya Angelou simply called, in her foreword to that book, THE HAT. And for Mildred Blount, THE HAT was always about more than just headwear.
How a Childless Widow Who Didn’t Like Kids Became a Star of Children’s Radio
Once upon a time, a “large, plump, hard-boiled, shrewd” woman named Nila Mack was asked by Columbia Broadcasting System to reinvent a Saturday morning children’s radio show called “The Adventures of Helen and Mary.” Her first reaction? “Really? You want the childless widow to save your kids’ show? I don’t even like kids.”
Rising to Stage and Film Fame Despite Racism and Red Baiting
Gertrude Jeannette was a true trailblazer as the first woman to get a motorcycle license in Manhattan and The Big Apple’s first licensed female cabdriver. Perhaps her more important accomplishments were as an actor, director and playwright who mentored a generation of Black actors in New York. But none of that would have happened were it not for a persistent childhood stutter and a man named Joe Jeannette who loved to dance.
A Story of Corporate Greed, Misogyny, and Patent Office Incompetence
You know the rules. Landlords get rich at the expense of tenants. Travel means shelling out for a railroad ticket. You can have utilities, but they’ll cost you. Run afoul of the landlord and go directly to jail — forget about passing GO and collecting $200. It’s the board game Monopoly, invented by a feisty, progressive feminist whose invention was stolen in the 1930s by a man named Charles Darrow.