American Experience: Season 9 (1996 - 1997)

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Season 9
American Experience

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Episodes

Air date: Oct 6, 1996

A look at the life of Theodore Roosevelt begins by recalling how he dealt with his first wife's death; his efforts to overcome the limitations of severe asthma. Also: TR's leadership of the "Rough Riders" during the Spanish-American War; and, in 1901, his rise to the Presidency (at age 42, he was the youngest in U.S. history). Jason Robards narrates.

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Air date: Oct 7, 1996

The conclusion of "TR" recalls the "frenzied quality" with which Roosevelt led the country during his second term in office; and his unsuccessful 1912 run for the Presidency under the Progressive party. Jason Robards narrates.

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Air date: Jan 20, 1997

The Richest Man In the World is a thoughtful portrait of one of history's most complicated men. Andrew Carnegie was a study in contrasts, a walking contradiction. He was a great philanthropist who endowed nearly 3,000 libraries, but he was also a ruthless businessman who dealt savagely with employee and competitor alike. This video deals with all facets of his puzzling personality in probing and careful fashion, relying both on original sources and testimony from historians and Carnegie's leading biographers. The major events of Carnegie's life are given close attention, from the Homestead Strike to his eventual sell-out to J.P. Morgan. A man such as Carnegie is inseparable from his age, and this volume of the American Experience puts the events of Carnegie's life in proper context. Its sober delivery and balanced tone make it appropriate for the college classroom though its length may preclude its use in this context.

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Air date: Jan 27, 1997

Before Hawaii was a hot spot for honeymooners and surfers, prior to its petition by American sugar growers for annexation to the United States, the Kingdom of Hawaii was an independent monarchy. Queen Lili'uokalani was its last queen. Succeeding to the throne in 1891, Lili'uokalani's focus was to frame a new constitution that would restore power to native Hawaiians that had been diminished by the success of white American business owners. Shortly into her reign, the U.S. government effectively revoked Hawaii's favored position on the American sugar market and Lili'uokalani's kingdom faced economic collapse. Convinced the only way to survive was annexation to the United Sates, the sugar growers stirred a clash of interests among plantation owners, native Hawaiians, the U.S. government, and the Queen's cabinet. Eventually, Lili'uokalani would lose her throne at gun point and yield her power to the U.S. government. In 1898, Hawaii was recognized as part of the United States by President William McKinley.

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Air date: Feb 3, 1997

American Experience: The Telephone traces the history of one of the world's most helpful modern inventions. Via commentary, photographs, and interview footage, viewers learn the whole story, from Bell and Watson's "harmonic telegraph" to today's cellular phone phenomenon. The program is part of the acclaimed American Experience PBS series.

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Air date: Feb 10, 1997

In this edition of the The American Experience, viewers explore the life and work of Philo Farnsworth, the inventor of electronic television. In pursuing his dream, Farnsworth overcame a number of obstacles, most of which had to do with the skepticism surrounding his work. Many scientists believed what he intended was impossible. With this lack of support, Farnsworth had difficulty acquiring the funding he needed to pursue his vision. RCA finally showed interest, albeit in the form of industrial espionage. They simply stole Farnsworth's idea. Though he eventually won his lawsuit and RCA was forced to pay him royalties, the advent of World War II imposed a blackout on commercial television, and put an end to his hopes of financial reward. A poignant portrait of a forgotten American pioneer, this video will appeal to anyone interested in science or inventors in the pursuit of a dream. Through the use of archival footage and extensive interviews, Farnsworth, and his struggle, leap to life.

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Air date: Feb 17, 1997

Due to the thousands of immigrants flooding the streets each year, New York City, by the mid-1800s, was one of the most crowded places on earth. In March of 1888, a blizzard paralyzed the city and became the catalyst for a new development in public transportation: an underground rail system. After years of political jousting and planning, construction began in 1900. Four years later, the Interborough Rapid Transit (IRT) opened to the public. American Experience: New York Underground chronicles the building of this monumental project that forever changed urban dwelling. Through archival photographs, transcripts, and contemporary newspaper accounts, this documentary illustrates the dedication, manpower, and ambition it took to build the 21-mile route. Hundreds of accidents occurred, thousands of workers were injured or disabled, and at least 44 people lost their lives.

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Air date: Apr 28, 1997

Before there was a Helen Thomas, there was Nellie Bly. Known at "the best reporter in America" in 1890, Bly continuously took great risks to grab the headlines. During the day of the of stunt journalist, Bly had herself committed in order to expose the abuse of the mentally ill. Other guises included a domestic employee, a chorus girl, and an unwed mother. But it was her ultimate feat of daring-do when the then-25-year-old took on the task of circling the globe and outdoing the record set by the fictitious yet legendary character, Phileas Fogg, in the novel Around the World in 80 Days. When she traveled around the world in just 72 days, beating Jules Verne's fictional escapade, she turned herself into a world celebrity. American Experience: Around the World in 72 Days paints a portrait of a remarkably ambitious woman who, in an era of Victorian reserve, would become a household name by doing things a woman wasn't supposed to do.

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Air date: May 12, 1997

The dream to get rich quick was introduced to American culture long before the craze of the Internet startup. Similarly, what tripped up many Internet entrepreneurs -- a good idea matched with inexperience, high risk, and no road map to follow -- befell on those seeking gold in the 1890s, an end result that, more often than not, left pockets empty. Though the inexperienced prospectors who left family and loved ones behind were motivated less by greed and more by desperate economic times. American Experience: Gold Fever tells the personal stories of a handful of city dwellers, who, in January 1898, journeyed into the arctic of the Klondike determined to strike gold, and their deadly encounter with a fierce avalanche on April 3, 1898. Historic photos of prospectors, personal correspondence with families and friends, stories told by their descendants, and interviews with experts on the history of the Klondike gold rush are interwoven to illustrate what today would become Survivor meets Extreme Adventure Challenge, but with greater odds against the players.

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