American Experience: Season 5 (1992 - 1993)

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Season 5
American Experience

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Air date: Sep 20, 1992

This PBS documentary chronicles the highly political and oftentimes tragic dynasty of the Kennedy family, and the profound impact it has made on America throughout the years. Hosted by historian David McCullough, the documentary features several Kennedy experts, including fellow historian Theodore Sorenson, author Doris Kearns Goodwin, the late Speaker of the House Thomas P. "Tip" O'Neill, and a bevy of family friends and colleagues who have served the Kennedy clan in their many political endeavors.

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Air date: Sep 21, 1992

The American Experience: The Kennedys -- The Later Years (1962-1980) is the second part of a two-part documentary series on PBS. In 1960, John F. Kennedy is elected the 35th president of the U.S., both the youngest president and the first Roman Catholic to hold the office. He is assassinated in 1963. In 1968, Senator Robert Kennedy is killed after winning several presidential primaries. Senator Ted Kennedy loses his post as Majority Whip, but runs for president in 1980.

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Air date: Oct 28, 1992

A mid-1800s wagon train headed for California made a judgment error when they decided to take a short-cut through the Sierra Nevadas. As they made their way through Donner Pass, a blizzard hit and the group of 87 settlers became trapped for five months by the snow. Desperate, some of the group turned to cannabalism to survive. Producer Burns used journals, archival photos, and modern photography of the sites to develop the emotional film.

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Air date: Nov 4, 1992

This program is part of the acclaimed PBS series that features stories on some of the key events in American history. This episode recounts the disastrous flood of 1889 in Johnstown, PA, when the dam unexpectedly broke at a nearby resort. Developed for their own use by industrialists such as Andrew Carnegie, America's wealthiest families summered at the retreat, which was situated by an antiquated and defective dam. This logistical error cost over 2,000 people their lives, leaving thousands more bereft of their homes and possessions. The tragedy instigated safety reforms in its wake. Archival photographs, journals, and newspaper accounts re-create the horror of the Johnstown flood.

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Air date: Nov 11, 1992

Graphic footage punctuates "Liberators---Fighting on Two Fronts in World War II," about black soldiers in a segregated military. They were among the first to reach survivors of Buchenwald and other Nazi death camps.

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Air date: Nov 18, 1992

When George Washington, general and commander in chief of the Continental Army, led his troops to victory, absolute power was within his grasp. Washington could have used his power to establish a military dictatorship or become king, a notion not without support from his own army. Remarkably, he instead relinquished such opportunities for what he believed was the greater good of the country and to foster a union of the states under a strong central government. American Experience: George Washington -- The Man Who Wouldn't Be King explores Washington's growth as a fighter for the colonies, his relationship with his troops, his involvement in the Revolutionary War, and his interaction with America's other founding fathers including John Adams, Alexander Hamilton, and Thomas Jefferson. An outstanding leader and "Father of His Country," American Experience: George Washington -- The Man Who Wouldn't Be King takes an unconventional look at a man who symbolizes the American Revolution and a commitment to creating a country of democracy.

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Air date: Nov 25, 1992

This episode of The American Experience investigates an event that has become American folklore. By carefully considering the evidence available from both white and Native American accounts, the video reaches conclusions that are more complex than those commonly held. Custer emerges not as a fool, or a hero, but a competent commander who simply got more than he could handle. The loss of Custer's command was a national embarrassment and led to obfuscation that over time became accepted as fact. Anyone with an interest in the history of the American West, especially relations with Native peoples, will find this of value. Its sober tone and careful research certainly make it appropriate for use in the college classroom. Last Stand at Little Big Horn also won an Emmy award.

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Air date: Dec 2, 1992

In 1911, an Indian wandered out of the hills of Northern California, unable to speak a word of English, and clad in the ancient manner. His discoverers, who found him hiding in a barn, didn't know what to make of him and sent him to San Francisco to be studied like some rare animal by the young anthropologist Alfred Kroeber. It turned out that he was Ishi, the last surviving member of his Yahi tribe. He was such an unusual figure in San Francisco that he became quite a celebrity. This documentary includes rare film footage of this unique survivor, along with photographs and journal and newspaper coverage from the time in an attempt to tell his story. Some of the same territory is covered in a 1978 made-for-television biographical film, bearing the very similar title of Ishi: The Last of His Tribe.

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Air date: Jan 11, 1993

This program is part of the PBS American Experience series. This episode presents a fond look at America's premier bandmaster, John Philip Sousa. The author of rousing marches, such as the classic "Stars and Stripes Forever," was adored by his American audiences. The program chronicles his historic tours of the United States in which he popularized the classics as well as band marches. Archival photographs, journals, historic commentary, and, of course, Sousa's music, tell his story.

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Air date: Jan 18, 1993

"Simple Justice," a docudrama about the efforts of Thurgood Marshall (Peter Francis James) to desegregate public schools. Felix Frankfurter: Sam Gray. Charles Hamilton Houston: James Avery.

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