Music & Film

The finish of the 2019 Kentucky Derby.

The Complicated Legacy of 'My Old Kentucky Home'

Sung each year at the Kentucky Derby, the tune's original meaning has long been lost to history

With a countrified accent, Will Rogers (Above: (detail) by Walter K. Kinstler, c. 1923) attempted to link arms with ordinary Americans, always reminding them of his Native American ancestry. “My ancestors didn’t come over on the Mayflower, but they met the boat,” he said.

Will Rogers Was One of a Kind

The popular raconteur touched Americans with his humor, newspaper columns, movie star power, philanthropy and as political agitator

Trixie Friganza, noted feminist, suffragist and inspiration for "Take Me Out to the Ball Game"

Women Who Shaped History

The Feminist History of ‘Take Me Out to the Ball Game’

Trixie Friganza, an actress and suffragist, inspired the popular song of the seventh inning stretch

The sequencer on the 808, a row of 16 color-coded buttons, offered artists a way to store beats they programmed.

The TR-808 Drum Machine Changed the Sound of Pop Music Forever

Sometimes, technology has more impact after it's obsolete

Attendees arrive to watch the movie Grease at a pop-up drive-in theatre at Bucktown Marina Park on May 22, 2020 in Metairie, Louisiana.

Covid-19

This Is the Summer of the Drive-In Theater

From longtime establishments to pop-up venues, this 20th-century attraction is providing a safe, socially distanced activity

Raymond Burr as detective Perry Mason in "Case of the Deadly Toy."

What Perry Mason Taught Americans About the Criminal Justice System

How one of the first courtroom dramas has shaped what we watch and how we see the law

Renee Tajima-Peña, series producer of the PBS show "Asian Americans," spoke with Smithsonian curator Theodore Gonzalves.

How a New Show Tears Down the Myths of Asian American History

Series producer Renee Tajima-Peña says the program is about “how we got where we are and where are we going next”

The Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival, founded in 1997, is one of the many festivals streaming offerings this year.

Virtual Travel

Eight Film Festivals Worth Attending (Virtually)

COVID-19 has caused numerous film festival cancellations. Luckily, these ones moved online

Elle Fanning portrays the eponymous empress in Hulu's "The Great."

Based on a True Story

The True Story of Catherine the Great

Hulu's "The Great" offers an irreverent, ahistorical take on the Russian empress' life. This is the real history behind the period comedy

"Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!" was a funky, lighthearted alternative to the action cartoons that, for years, had dominated Saturday morning lineups.

How Scooby-Doo's Origins Are Related to the RFK Assassination

The senator's death changed Saturday morning cartoons and paved the way for the gang of "meddling kids" to become a TV hit

A five-week course, "Rome: A Virtual Tour of the Ancient City," focuses on the building of the ancient city of Rome and how it laid the groundwork for the construction of cities throughout the world.

Virtual Travel

Six Online Courses About Europe to Take Before You Can Safely Travel There Again

Sheltering in place doesn’t mean you can’t study up for your next European adventure

Designer, illustrator, painter, cultural force: in New York City, 1962.

How Andy Warhol Came to Paint Campbell's Soup Cans

He was talented and prosperous, but the young visionary worried the art world had left him behind. Then he discovered soup

A billboard near Benton, Illinois. The rock 'n' roller from Liverpool was unknown in the States when he visited the town in 1963.

The Charming Story of George Harrison’s Vacation in Small-Town America

The Beatles guitarist visited his sister in southern Illinois just months before he'd become world famous

In May 1967, the Beatles celebrate the completion of their new album, "Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band."

The Inside Story of the Beatles' Messy Breakup

Tensions leading to the split, announced 50 years ago today, had been bubbling under the band’s cheery surface for years

Danish sculptor Thomas Dam produced the original troll doll.

The Colorful History of the Troll Doll

With the release of Trolls World Tour, and a new generation entranced by the ugly-but-cute toy, it appears the troll's lucky streak lives on

Charles Lindbergh, Walter Winchell and Franklin D. Roosevelt (L to R) are among the public figures fictionalized in Philip Roth's The Plot Against America.

Based on a True Story

The True History Behind 'The Plot Against America'

Philip Roth's classic novel, newly adapted by HBO, envisions a world in which Charles Lindbergh wins the 1940 presidential election

Anya Taylor-Joy plays the manipulative-but-well-intentioned titular character Emma in Autumn de Wilde's adaptation of the oft-revisited Austen novel.

What Autumn de Wilde's 'Emma' Gets Right About Jane Austen's Irony

By turns faithful and deeply irreverent, the newest Austen adaptation offers an oddly delightful mix of 19th-century satire and Wes Anderson

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See Indigenous Films at the Mother Tongue Film Festival

The four-day event shows more than 20 films featuring 28 languages from 22 regions

The list includes Artemisia Gentileschi, Wilma Mankiller, Frances Glessner Lee and other Oscar-worthy women.

Based on a True Story

Nine Women Whose Remarkable Lives Deserve the Biopic Treatment

From Renaissance artists to aviation pioneers, suffragists and scientists, these women led lives destined for the silver screen

Prince performs at Minneapolis’ First Avenue nightclub in August 1983.

Why Prince Would Not Sound Like Prince Without Minneapolis

A human geographer explains how the city's unique sonic culture nurtured and inspired the musical genius

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