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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"

Jun 23, 2017

For seven decades, Red Skelton, regardless of if it was radio, TV, burlesque, vaudeville, films, a nightclub, or casino, always did his best to entertain his fans and make them laugh. "The Red Skelton Show" was a television staple for many years, outlasting many comparable programs. He has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for his work in radio and TV...Red Skelton seemingly had the career few would ever even aspire to. Yet, the man who brought "Freddie the Freeloader" to the masses also endured the death of a child and the resulting suicide of an ex-wife. Red Skelton painted, he entertained, he suffered, and he triumphed.

I discuss the life and career of Red Skelton with author Wes Gehring, who wrote, Red Skelton: The Mask Behind the Mask. Special thanks to listener Hobie Clapp for the topic suggestion!

Remember to download, enjoy, and share!

#history #podcast


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Jun 19, 2017

It's a very special mini-episode of "History Personified" this week, and I had the honor of speaking with Joan Howard Maurer, the daughter of the Three Stooges' Moe Howard. In honor of his 120th birthday, we chat about her famous father, how he was at home, how his on-screen persona differed from his private life, his love of the fans, and his legacy. 

Moe and the Stooges are remembered this week in a special four-day series of short films, features, and a rarely-seen documentary all being shown on DECADES Network. Check out www.decades.com for local listings and all the information!

Remember to download, enjoy, and share!

#history #podcast


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Jun 16, 2017

Professional wrestling, for better or worse, is part of the fabric of Americana, and still has millions and millions of fans worldwide. On this week's episode, I discuss the life and career of the legendary Jerry "The King" Lawler with Glenn Moore, Lawler's co-host on the new "Dinner with the King" podcast. 

While you may or may not be a wrestling fan, Lawler never had an issue with crossing over to the mainstream. Whether it was rubbing shoulders with William Shatner, who inducted Lawler into the WWE Hall of Fame, or engaging in his infamous feud with massive TV celebrity Andy Kaufman, which included Lawler slapping Kaufman on David Letterman's show, Lawler was always about the business of making money. Don't miss this fascinating look at the career of a true entertainment pioneer!  

Remember to download, enjoy, and share!

#wrestling #history #podcast


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Jun 9, 2017

It's the conclusion of our two-part series on Colombian drug kingpin Pablo Escobar, as author Shaun Attwood, who wrote "Pablo Escobar: Beyond Narcos," joins us once again. In this episode, Shaun talks about Pablo's final years, his fall from the top of the drug game, and his death.

So many people wanted Pablo dead by the time he was shot that it's hard to say for sure who really killed him. What is clear is that his legacy is as controversial as his life was, as some remember him as more saint than sinner. Is Colombia better off without him? Why did so many want him dead? We discuss this and more. 

Remember to download, enjoy, and share!

#truecrime #history #podcast


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Jun 2, 2017

Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar built an empire on a mix of intimidation, bribery, politicking, torture, and murder, and leveraged it to become one of the wealthiest men on the earth. He came from nothing, rose to the top of the crime world, and seemingly had it all. Yet, he left a trail of broken lives, broken promises, and broken hearts in his wake.

In part one of a two-part series on Escobar, we discuss his life and time with author Shaun Attwood, who wrote "Pablo Escobar: Beyond Narcos." In this episode, Shaun talks about Pablo's formative years, his rise to power, and the height of that power. Remember to download, enjoy, and share!

#truecrime #history #podcast


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May 26, 2017

John Wilkes Booth might be the most infamous man, the most notorious criminal, in American history. The man that pulled the trigger that ended the life of the 16th U.S. President, Abraham Lincoln, was also a celebrated and famous actor who came from a family of noted performers. In fact, his father, Junius Brutus Booth, Jr., might have been the most famous thespian of their day. So what drove this man, who had all the fame and fortune anyone could have wanted in the 1860s, to participate in and execute a plot to kill the President of the United States of America? 

On this week's episodes, I talk with Terry Alford, author of "Fortune's Fool: The Life of John Wilkes Booth." Alford is recognized as a leading authority on Booth's life, and talks to me about his upbringing, his theatrical career, where his passion for the Confederate cause came from, and the events leading up to Lincoln's assassination, as well as the aftermath and the controversy around all of it. Remember to download, enjoy, and share!

#truecrime #history #podcast


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May 19, 2017

Canadian serial killers Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka have been compared to America's Bonnie and Clyde, but there really is no comparison between the two. The crimes that Bernardo and Homolka committed horrified the world, including assaulting, violating, and killing her sister, but how did they arrive there? 

Joining us for this week's episode is "1995" podcast host and former journalist Kathy Kenzora. Working for a Toronto radio station, Kenzora covered the trial extensively, sharing a courtroom with both Bernardo and Homolka, and heard the gory details of the rapes, torture, and murders committed by the pair. Homolka made the deal of a lifetime in return for her testimony...you won't want to miss learning about this incredible case. 

Make sure you check out Kathy's "1995" podcast, which is available on iTunes and your favorite podcast app. She covers many historical events from the year 1995, including the Bernardo/Homolka case in detail.

*Listener discretion is advised on this episode, as some details discussed may be disturbing to some listeners*

#truecrime #history #podcast


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May 12, 2017

For the first time in the history of "History Personified," we're having a return guest! The "Soul Food Scholar," Adrian Miller, is back on the show. Last time, he talked about the history of soul food. This time, he's relating the history of White House chefs. 

Did you know most White House head chefs have been African-Americans? Adrian talks about how that came to be, while relating interesting anecdotes along the way. The "Soul Food Scholar" talks about FDR's last meal before he died (a cheese souffle he sadly didn't get to eat), Dwight D. Eisenhower's penchant for cooking, and how U.S. Presidents have used food as a political tool. It's White House cuisine history at its finest!

Be sure to download, enjoy, and share! 

May 5, 2017

Michael Durant was a part of some of the most important American military missions of the 1980's and 1990's, and he joins me for this week's episode of "History Personified." 

After joining the military in 1979, Durant became a helicopter pilot, eventually joining the vaunted 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (SOAR). After serving in Operation Desert Storm, Durant was deployed to Somalia to help turn the tide on a U.N. peace-keeping mission that had turned violent. During the Battle of Mogadishu, Durant's Black Hawk was shot down, killing his crew mates and severely injuring him. In an incredible act of bravery, Delta Force snipers Randy Shughart and Gary Gordon volunteered to be inserted into the crossfire and protected Durant until they were themselves killed. A crowd of Somalis began to beat Durant, and he thought he would die, too, but he was taken hostage instead and held for 11 days. 

Mr. Durant, author of "In the Company of Heroes" and "Night Stalkers," shares his experiences in this very special episode...be sure to download, enjoy, and share! 

Apr 28, 2017

This week marks the 25th anniversary of the commencement of the 1992 Los Angeles Riots, which caused incredible damage to life and property. Over 50 lives were lost, over 2,300 injuries were suffered, more than 7,000 fires raged, there was damage to 3,100 businesses, and there were nearly $1 billion in financial losses. Most assume that the beating of Rodney King by LAPD officers and their subsequent acquittal led directly to the riots. But there was so much more, and the tension that erupted had been building for years. Cultural differences, the media, police practices, drugs, poverty, and more gave birth to an atmosphere where the riots were probably inevitable. 

In this special supersize episode, I speak with former Los Angeles Times reporter Shawn Hubler, who was there in the thick of it, and saw firsthand some of the chaos and carnage. We discuss the confluence of factors that led to the riots, what she witnessed, and what the aftermath was. 

#history #podcast

Apr 21, 2017

How important is charisma and speaking ability when it comes to being a great leader? On this week's show, we're discussing this question, using three-time U.S. presidential nominee William Jennings Bryan as an example. Professor and author Jeremy C. Young's new book, "The Age of Charisma: Leaders, Followers, and Emotions in American Society, 1870–1940," looks at leaders like Bryan, Teddy Roosevelt, Billy Sunday, and others from the 1870-1940 timeframe, which Young has labeled "The Age of Charisma." 

William Jennings Bryan was known for his stirring speeches and populist platform. Known as "The Great Commoner," Bryan was a two-time member of the House of Representatives, and was also Secretary of State under Woodrow Wilson before resigning due to his pacifist stance. He stood against trusts and big banks, promoted "free silver," supported Prohibition, and argued against famous lawyer Clarence Darrow in the noted Scopes Trial. How much did Bryan's speaking ability contribute to his popularity? We break it down. 

Remember to download, enjoy, and share!

Apr 14, 2017

Cynthia Ann Parker was around ten years old when her family's home was attacked by Comanches. Several family members were killed, but Cynthia was kidnapped. Being that she was a child, the Indians chose to raise her as one of their own, and she began to take on their customs, later marrying one of their leaders and having a few children. However, the Texas Rangers caught up with her and brought her back to Anglo society. She was never able to fully re-assimilate. Yet, her story is a fascinating look at the American frontier in the mid-19th Century. 

Joining us for this week's episode is Sarah McReynolds, the director at the Old Fort Parker historic site in Texas. She's telling us about Cynthia's upbringing, the fateful day when she was taken from her original family, being recaptured, and her remaining days. We also talk about her famous son, Quanah. Remember to download, enjoy, and share!

Special thanks to Marlinda Wilson Martinez for the episode request!

Apr 7, 2017

Jimmy Stewart is one of the most beloved actors in cinema history. However, one aspect of his life isn't well-known, and that is his military service during World War II. While many other Hollywood actors played a role in the war, Jimmy Stewart was the antithesis of many of his colleagues, as he insisted on actually fighting, and did he ever. With nearly two dozen combat missions on his resume, Stewart risked his life time and again in battle, and nearly lost it during at least one mission. How did these experiences affect the acting legend? And did you know that "It's a Wonderful Life" was Stewart's first film when he got back from the war? 

We discuss all this and more with Robert Matzen, author of "Mission: Jimmy Stewart and the Fight for Europe." We delve into Stewart's military lineage, his mission to serve, how he prepared, the highs and lows of his time in the military, and how he coped when he got back to the States. Remember to download, enjoy, and share! 

#cinema #history #podcast

Mar 31, 2017

It's Wrestlemania weekend, and in honor of that, we discuss one of wrestling's most legendary characters. But don't worry, non-wrestling fans...there's plenty of history discussed that has nothing to do with the squared circle! 

Simply put, Andre the Giant is one of the most beloved wrestling superstars of all time. Even non-wrestling fans remember him, as his role as the enormous Fezzik in the cult classic film, "The Princess Bride," has embedded itself in the memories of cinema fans the world over. But how tall was he really? How did he handle the pressures of fame, and the challenges of travel? And could he really eat and drink as much as the legends tell us? 

Joining us for today's episode is writer Brandon Easton, who wrote "Andre The Giant: Closer To Heaven." Easton spoke with people close to Andre in preparation for his graphic novel, and shares some great stories and tidbits that he learned about one of the most important and influential professional wrestlers in history. 

#wrestling #history #podcast

Mar 24, 2017

William Jefferson Clinton is one of the most polarizing U.S. presidents of the last century, with many loving the man, and many hating him. Regardless of one's perspective, there is no arguing that Clinton presided over a very transitional time in America. With the rise of the so-called "new media," there was a greater spotlight on the presidency than ever before, and its effect on Clinton cannot be disputed. From military activities in Somalia, to Whitewater, to the economy, to immigration, to the Monica Lewinsky scandal, and more, Bill Clinton dealt with a lot, some of it self-inflicted, while in office. How will the man be remembered? What is his legacy?

We discuss all of this and more with author Michael Tomasky, who recently released "Bill Clinton: The American Presidents Series: The 42nd President, 1993-2001." Don't miss this riveting discussion on a political firebrand that still evokes a wide range of emotions today, years after leaving his post. 

#history #podcast #politics

Mar 18, 2017

On this week's episode, we talk with longtime FBI veteran Bobby Chacon about his career, and especially his pioneering of the FBI's underwater forensics team.

Bobby started his career in 1987 as part of the FBI's organized crime unit. He rubbed shoulders with some big-time mafioso before being transferred to a newly formed squad targeting non-traditional organize crime. In 1995, Chacon became a part-time diver of the FBI New York Field Office’s Dive Team. At that time the NYO Dive Team was the only officially sanctioned dive team in the FBI. Chacon was deployed to the 1996 Atlanta Olympics as an FBI diver and to the 1996 crash of TWA flight 800 in which 230 passengers and crew perished. It was the largest search and recovery effort in the history of US law enforcement and the dive operations lasted for more then four months. Then in 2000, Bobby became the full time team leader of the dive team making him the first full time diver in FBI history. Since retired, he has been named a Technical Advisor for the new television series, "Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders."

We discuss this and more with Bobby. As always, download, share, and enjoy!

#truecrime #history #podcast

Mar 10, 2017

As cult leader Jim Jones becomes more and more deranged and controlling, he hatches a plan to move his Peoples Temple from California to Guyana, where his socialist teachings will finally be on unbridled display for all to see. What develops is a communal way of life that, from the outside, appears to be a utopia of sorts. Unfortunately, the truth is that Jonestown was far from the dream Jim Jones' followers had been promised. A group of mostly urban folks now had to work the land, and Jones, becoming more and more dependent on drugs, begins talking more and more about what he terms "revolutionary suicide." In the end, over 900 people lose their lives in what Julia Scheeres, author of "A Thousand Lives: The Untold Story of Hope, Deception, and Survival at Jonestown," calls not mass suicide but mass murder. 

On the second part of this two-part series on Jonestown, we lay out what life was like in Guyana, what precipitated Jones' final descent into madness, the attempted intervention of congressman Leo Ryan that leads to his death, and the aftermath of a day that will never be forgotten. 

#truecrime #history #podcast

Mar 3, 2017

On November 18, 1978, in northwestern Guyana, 918 people died in what Jim Jones, the leader of the settlement there called Jonestown, deemed "revolutionary suicide." The events of that day resulted in what was the largest single loss of American civilian life in a deliberate act until September 11, 2001. The vast majority of those that died were African-American, and many had cut off communication from their families back home in America. What led these people to a remote area of jungle in South America? What made Jim Jones into the psychotic demagogue he morphed into? And why did so many have to die? 

We discuss this and more with Julia Scheeres, author of "A Thousand Lives: The Untold Story of Hope, Deception, and Survival at Jonestown," in part one of a two-part series on Jonestown. In this episode we talk about Jim Jones' formative years, why he started the Peoples Temple, what life was like for a member of the church, and why so many agreed to move to Guyana. Plus, was Jones a true believer, or simply a charlatan, and was it mass suicide or mass murder? 

#truecrime #history #podcast

Feb 24, 2017

At the end of 2002, Laci Peterson, 8 1/2 months pregnant, disappeared. Her frantic family organized searches as her husband, Scott, made the media rounds. As it came to light that Scott had been involved with another woman, Amber Frey, his actions began to be called into question. The bodies were found in April, 2003, and Scott was arrested a few days later with dyed hair and beard, a large amount of cash, camping equipment, and his brother's ID. Most believed he was on the run. Scott was later convicted of murder in the deaths of his wife Laci (first degree) and his unborn son Conner (second degree) and sentenced to death. More than a decade later, Scott is still appealing and fighting his conviction and sentence.

We walk through the case with Modesto Bee reporter Garth Stapley, who covered the case from the beginning, and is still covering developments today. We discuss the details, Scott's actions, the public reaction, and why Garth will not state whether or not he believes Scott is guilty.

*Listener discretion is advised, as some details of the Laci Peterson case discussed are explicit*

#truecrime #history #podcast

Feb 17, 2017

We continue chugging along with our True Crime History month, and on this week's show, American serial killer Ted Bundy is examined. Author and ordained minister Kevin Sullivan just completed a trilogy of books on Bundy, as "The Bundy Secrets" has just been released, and we delve into the crimes and psyche of perhaps the most famous murderer of all time. 

What were Bundy's formative years like? When did he start committing violent crimes? How did he get away with it for so long? And what was his purpose for pointing to pornography as a cause of his crimes in his very last interview before his execution? We dig into these questions and more, walking through Bundy's trail of death and destruction. 

*Listener discretion is advised, as some details of Bundy's crimes discussed are explicit*

#truecrime #history #podcast

Feb 10, 2017

True Crime History Month continues on "History Personified," as we just into part II of our series on the death of boxing legend Sonny Liston. On this show, author and longtime ESPN.com writer Shaun Assael, who wrote "The Murder of Sonny Liston: Las Vegas, Heroin, and Heavyweights," dives into the nuts and bolts of Sonny's death. 

Liston was found dead in Las Vegas by his wife, Geraldine, on January 5, 1971, though the coroner stated he had died several days earlier. Geraldine didn't call the police for several hours, using the time to contact others, bring in her own doctor, and clean up. Yet, heroin was "found" at the home once the cops did arrive. Was it planted? From drug dealers, to mobsters, to boxing underworld figures, to cops gone bad, to women, there are so many that might have wanted Sonny dead that it boggles the mind. So what really happened to Sonny? We discuss the theories, as well as new information Shaun's investigative research uncovered. 

#truecrime #boxing #history #podcast

Feb 3, 2017

It's True Crime History Month on "History Personified!" In the first episode of a two-part series, we talk with author and longtime ESPN.com writer Shaun Assael on Las Vegas in the late 1960's and the death of boxing legend Sonny Liston, specifically focusing on his formative years and boxing career.  

Former heavyweight boxing champion Sonny Liston, who fought Muhammad Ali twice, was as polarizing a sports figure as you can will across. Intimidation personified, Liston struck terror in the heart of many an opponent with his hulking frame and stare. And yet, he was brought to his knees by his penchant for associating with the wrong people, and later on by a debilitating heroin addiction. By the time he died of an overdose in 1970, the list of people that would benefit from his death, from local police, to mobsters, to drug dealers and users, to former lovers, was as long as the Vegas Strip. So, what really happened to Sonny Liston? 

#truecrime #boxing #history #podcast

Jan 27, 2017

On last week's episode, we discussed 1930's radio superstar Father Charles Coughlin, and as part of that chat, we touched on the New Deal. Coughlin initially supported the program, but later reversed course. He was not alone in this. On this week's episode, we go more in-depth on FDR's New Deal with long-time Wall Street Journal editor George Melloan. Melloan has a unique perspective on the New Deal and its effects, as he lived through the Great Depression and the subsequent Deal as a young child. How did FDR's signature program affect rural America? Was it all good? All bad? 

George Melloan's new book is "When the New Deal Came to Town," and is available on Amazon and at various bookstores. Check out our chat on FDR's New Deal, then please share the episode with someone else. Thank you!

Jan 20, 2017

A politician builds a massive audience through a mainstream media device, then leverages his followers to spread a populist message that speaks to plight of many in the country...sound familiar? It's happening now in the U.S., but it is a political approach that is as old as democracy itself. Father Charles Coughlin regularly mixed religion and politics to garner himself a radio audience of around 30 million listeners in a time when the population of the U.S. was 130 million. This massively popular priest used the media to spread his message of anti-communism, while also spewing anti-Semitic rhetoric. Early on, he was a supporter of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and his New Deal, but later turned on both. By the end of the 1930's, Coughlin was off the radio, but he continued to engage on issues he was passionate about up until his death. The mark he left on society is undeniable. 

I speak with author Sheldon Marcus on the influence of Father Coughlin, whether or not he was truly an anti-Semite, and his impression of the man, who he interviewed in-person for his book. Remember to download, enjoy, and share! 

Jan 13, 2017

This year marks 130 years since the passing of Old West legend John "Doc" Holliday. All these years later, he is still an enigma to many. In part II of our series on Doc, we unravel the truth behind Doc's involvement with the infamous shootout at the O.K. Corral (fun fact: the shootout didn't actually take place at the O.K. Corral), his years after Tombstone, and his death. 

Author Gary Roberts, who wrote "Doc Holliday: The Life and Legend," delves once more into Doc's life, revealing new details and dispelling myths. Don't forget to download, enjoy, and share!

*Apologies on the quality of the audio of this episode*

#history #OldWest #gunman

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