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.
From the Slums of Martinique to the Top of Harlem’s Numbers Rackets
The Harlem Renaissance of the ‘20s and ‘30s was a hotbed of African American music, dance, art, fashion, literature, politics, and scholarship. It gave us luminaries like Langston Hughes, Josephine Baker, W.E.B. DuBois and Jessie Redmon Fauset. But for many, when it came to Black identity, community and the everyday experience of Black people, a woman named Stephanie St. Clair loomed large.
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.”
From Kitchen Tinkerer to Acclaimed Inventor at the 1893 World’s Fair
“If you want something done right, do it yourself.” These were words Josephine Garis Cochrane lived by … except when it came to doing the dishes. Why had nobody invented a machine that could clean stacks of dirty dishes without chipping them? After all, it was the 19th century, when there were machines that sewed clothes and cut grass, so how hard could it be?