The 1920s (pronounced "nineteen-twenties") was a decade of the Gregorian calendar that began on January 1, 1920, and ended on December 31, 1929. In North America, it is frequently referred to as the "Roaring Twenties" or the "Jazz Age", while in Europe the period is sometimes referred to as the "Golden Age Twenties"because of the economic boom following World War I. French speakers refer to the period as the "Années folles" ("Crazy Years"), emphasizing the era's social, artistic, and cultural dynamism.
A decade is a period of 10 years. The word is derived from the Ancient Greek: δεκάς, romanized: dekas), which means a group of ten. Other words for spans of years also come from Latin: biennium, triennium, quadrennium, lustrum, century, millennium.
The Gregorian calendar is the calendar used in most of the world. It is named after Pope Gregory XIII, who introduced it in October 1582. The calendar spaces leap years to make the average year 365.2425 days long, approximating the 365.2422-day tropical year that is determined by the Earth's revolution around the Sun. The rule for leap years is:
Every year that is exactly divisible by four is a leap year, except for years that are exactly divisible by 100, but these centurial years are leap years if they are exactly divisible by 400. For example, the years 1700, 1800, and 1900 are not leap years, but the year 2000 is.
North America is a continent entirely within the Northern Hemisphere and almost all within the Western Hemisphere. It is also considered by some to be a northern subcontinent of the Americas. It is bordered to the north by the Arctic Ocean, to the east by the Atlantic Ocean, to the west and south by the Pacific Ocean, and to the southeast by South America and the Caribbean Sea.
The economic prosperity experienced by many countries during the 1920s (especially the United States) was similar in nature to that experienced in the 1950s and 1990s. Each period of prosperity was the result of a paradigm shift in global affairs. These shifts in the 1920s, 1950s, and 1990s, occurred in part as the result of the conclusion of World War I and Spanish flu, World War II, and the Cold War, respectively.
A paradigm shift, a concept identified by the American physicist and philosopher Thomas Kuhn, is a fundamental change in the basic concepts and experimental practices of a scientific discipline. Kuhn presented his notion of a paradigm shift in his influential book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1962).
World War I, also known as the First World War or the Great War, was a global war originating in Europe that lasted from 28 July 1914 to 11 November 1918. Contemporaneously described as "the war to end all wars", it led to the mobilisation of more than 70 million military personnel, including 60 million Europeans, making it one of the largest wars in history. It is also one of the deadliest conflicts in history, with an estimated nine million combatants and seven million civilian deaths as a direct result of the war, while resulting genocides and the 1918 influenza pandemic caused another 50 to 100 million deaths worldwide.
The 1918 influenza pandemic was an unusually deadly influenza pandemic, the first of the two pandemics involving H1N1 influenza virus. It infected 500 million people around the world, including people on remote Pacific islands and in the Arctic, and resulted in the deaths of 50 to 100 million, making it one of the deadliest natural disasters in human history.
The 1920s saw foreign oil companies begin operations throughout South America. Venezuela became the world's second largest oil producing nation.
South America is a continent in the Western Hemisphere, mostly in the Southern Hemisphere, with a relatively small portion in the Northern Hemisphere. It may also be considered a subcontinent of the Americas, which is how it is viewed in the Spanish and Portuguese-speaking regions of the Americas. The reference to South America instead of other regions has increased in the last decades due to changing geopolitical dynamics.
Venezuela, officially the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, is a country on the northern coast of South America, consisting of a continental landmass and a large number of small islands and islets in the Caribbean Sea. The capital and largest urban agglomeration is the city of Caracas. It has a territorial extension of 916,445 km2. The continental territory is bordered on the north by the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean, on the west by Colombia, Brazil on the south, Trinidad and Tobago to the north-east and on the east by Guyana. The Venezuelan government maintains a claim against Guyana to Guayana Esequiba, an area of 159,542 km2. For its maritime areas, Venezuela exercises sovereignty over 71,295 km2 of territorial waters, 22,224 km2 in its contiguous zone, 471,507 km2 of the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean under the concept of exclusive economic zone, and 99,889 km2 of continental shelf. This marine area borders those of 13 states. The country has extremely high biodiversity and is ranked seventh in the world's list of nations with the most number of species. There are habitats ranging from the Andes Mountains in the west to the Amazon basin rain-forest in the south via extensive llanos plains, the Caribbean coast and the Orinoco River Delta in the east.
In some countries the 1920s saw the rise of radical political movements, especially in regions that were once part of empires. Communism spread as a consequence of the October Revolution and the Bolsheviks' victory in the Russian Civil War. Fear of the spread of Communism led to the emergence of far right political movements and fascism in Europe. Economic problems contributed to the emergence of dictators in Eastern Europe and the Balkans, to include Józef Piłsudski in the Second Polish Republic, and Peter and Alexander Karađorđević in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia.
In political and social sciences, communism is the philosophical, social, political, and economic ideology and movement whose ultimate goal is the establishment of the communist society, which is a socioeconomic order structured upon the common ownership of the means of production and the absence of social classes, money, and the state.
The October Revolution, officially known in Soviet historiography as the Great October Socialist Revolution and commonly referred to as the October Uprising, the October Coup, the Bolshevik Revolution, the Bolshevik Coup or the Red October, was a revolution in Russia led by the Bolshevik Party of Vladimir Lenin that was instrumental in the larger Russian Revolution of 1917. It took place through an armed insurrection in Petrograd on 7 November 1917.
The Russian Civil War was a multi-party civil war in the former Russian Empire immediately after the two Russian Revolutions of 1917, as many factions vied to determine Russia's political future. The two largest combatant groups were the Red Army, fighting for the Bolshevik form of socialism led by Vladimir Lenin, and the loosely allied forces known as the White Army, which included diverse interests favouring political monarchism, economic capitalism and alternative forms of socialism, each with democratic and anti-democratic variants. In addition, rival militant socialists and non-ideological Green armies fought against both the Bolsheviks and the Whites. Eight foreign nations intervened against the Red Army, notably the former Allied military forces from the World War and the pro-German armies. The Red Army eventually defeated the White Armed Forces of South Russia in Ukraine and the army led by Admiral Aleksandr Kolchak to the east in Siberia in 1919. The remains of the White forces commanded by Pyotr Nikolayevich Wrangel were beaten in Crimea and evacuated in late 1920. Lesser battles of the war continued on the periphery for two more years, and minor skirmishes with the remnants of the White forces in the Far East continued well into 1923. The war ended in 1923 in the sense that Bolshevik communist control of the newly formed Soviet Union was now assured, although armed national resistance in Central Asia was not completely crushed until 1934. There were an estimated 7,000,000–12,000,000 casualties during the war, mostly civilians. The Russian Civil War has been described by some as the greatest national catastrophe that Europe had yet seen.
The devastating Wall Street Crash in October 1929 is generally viewed as a harbinger of the end of 1920s prosperity in North America and Europe.
The Wall Street Crash of 1929, also known as the Stock Market Crash of 1929 or the Great Crash, was a major stock market crash that occurred in late October 1929. It started on October 24 and continued until October 29, 1929, when share prices on the New York Stock Exchange collapsed.
Europe is a continent located entirely in the Northern Hemisphere and mostly in the Eastern Hemisphere. It is bordered by the Arctic Ocean to the north, the Atlantic Ocean to the west, Asia to the east, and the Mediterranean Sea to the south. It comprises the westernmost part of Eurasia.
The Roaring Twenties brought about several novel and highly visible social and cultural trends. These trends, made possible by sustained economic prosperity, were most visible in major cities like New York, Chicago, Paris, Berlin and London. "Normalcy" returned to politics in the wake of hyper-emotional patriotism during World War I, jazz blossomed, and Art Deco peaked. For women, knee-length skirts and dresses became socially acceptable, as did bobbed hair with a marcel wave. The women who pioneered these trends were frequently referred to as flappers.
Return to normalcy, a return to the way of life before World War I, was United States presidential candidate Warren G. Harding's campaign slogan for the election of 1920. Although detractors of the time tried to belittle the word "normalcy" as a neologism as well as a malapropism, saying that it was poorly coined by Harding, there was contemporaneous discussion and evidence that normalcy had been listed in dictionaries as far back as 1857. Harding's promise was to return the United States' prewar mentality, without the thought of war tainting the minds of the American people. To sum up his points, he stated:
"America's present need is not heroics, but healing; not nostrums, but normalcy; not revolution, but restoration; not agitation, but adjustment; not surgery, but serenity; not the dramatic, but the dispassionate; not experiment, but equipoise; not submergence in internationality, but sustainment in triumphant nationality."
Art Deco, sometimes referred to as Deco, is a style of visual arts, architecture and design that first appeared in France just before World War I. Art Deco influenced the design of buildings, furniture, jewelry, fashion, cars, movie theatres, trains, ocean liners, and everyday objects such as radios and vacuum cleaners. It took its name, short for Arts Décoratifs, from the Exposition internationale des arts décoratifs et industriels modernes held in Paris in 1925. It combined modern styles with fine craftsmanship and rich materials. During its heyday, Art Deco represented luxury, glamour, exuberance, and faith in social and technological progress.
A finger wave is a method of setting hair into waves (curls) that was popular in the 1920s and 1930s and again in the late 1990s in North America and Europe. Silver screen actresses such as Bette Davis and Anita Page are credited with the original popularity of finger waves. In their return in the 1990s, the style was popularized by pop stars like Madonna, and Hip Hop stars of the time, such as Missy Elliott. The popularity of finger waves in the 1990s was aided by a movement toward shorter, more natural hair in the African-American community.
The era saw the large-scale adoption of automobiles, telephones, motion pictures, radio and household electricity, as well as unprecedented industrial growth, accelerated consumer demand and aspirations, and significant changes in lifestyle and culture. The media began to focus on celebrities, especially sports heroes and movie stars. Large baseball stadiums were built in major U.S. cities, in addition to palatial cinemas.
Most independent countries passed women's suffrage after 1918, especially as a reward for women's support of the war effort and endurance of its deaths and hardships.
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Prominent assassinations, targeted killings, and assassination attempts include:
The 1920s is the decade in which fashion entered the modern era. It was the decade in which women first abandoned the more restricting fashions of past years and began to wear more comfortable clothes (such as short skirts or trousers). Men also abandoned highly formal daily attire and even began to wear athletic clothing for the first time. The suits men wear today are still based, for the most part, on those worn in the late 1920s. The 1920s are characterized by two distinct periods of fashion. In the early part of the decade, change was slow, as many were reluctant to adopt new styles. From 1925, the public passionately embraced the styles associated with the Roaring Twenties. These styles continue to characterize fashion until the worldwide depression worsened in 1931.
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The following articles contain brief timelines listing the most prominent events of the decade:
1920 • 1921 • 1922 • 1923 • 1924 • 1925 • 1926 • 1927 • 1928 • 1929
James Parrott was an American actor and film director; and the younger brother of film comedian Charley Chase.
Out of the Inkwell was a major animated series of the silent era produced by Max Fleischer from 1918 to 1929. The series was the result of three short experimental films that Max Fleischer independently produced in the period of 1914–1916 to demonstrate his invention, the Rotoscope, which was a device consisting of a film projector and easel used as an aid for achieving realistic movement for animated cartoons. The Rotoscope would project motion picture film through an opening in the easel, covered by a glass pane serving as a drawing surface. The image on the projected film was traced onto paper, advancing the film one frame at a time as each drawing would be made. Fleischer's younger brother Dave Fleischer, who was working as a clown at Coney Island, served as the model for their first famous character, eventually known as "Koko the Clown."
Clifford Hardman "Clive" Brook was an English film actor.
Anders Randolf was a Danish American actor in American films from 1913 to 1931.
Gaston Glass was a French-born American actor and producer. He was born Jacques Gaston Oscar Glass in Paris and died in Santa Monica, California. He was the father of the composer Paul Glass.
George Fawcett was an American stage and film actor of the silent era.
Pathé Exchange was an independent American film production and distribution company from 1921 through 1927.
Paul Biensfeldt (1869–1933) was a German-Jewish stage and film actor.
Lydia Potechina was a Russian actress. She emigrated to Germany in 1919, and returned to the Soviet Union in 1932. She was married to the Russian-German film producer Max Pfeiffer.
Leopold von Ledebur was a German stage and film actor.
Willy Goldberger was a German-Spanish cinematographer. On some Spanish films he is credited as Guillermo Goldberger.
Frida Richard was an Austrian actress.
Wilhelm Diegelmann was a German actor.
Karl Platen was a German actor.
Rudolf Lettinger was a German stage and film actor. He made his stage debut in 1883 when he played the role of Kosinsky in Friedrich Schiller's drama The Robbers. Some of his more prominent roles in his prestigious stage career were Cyrano de Bergerac and Gessler in William Tell. He also worked with acclaimed stage director Max Reinhardt. In 1912, Lettinger played his first film role in Das Geheimnis von Monte Carlo. Lettinger appeared in over 90 films until 1931, mostly as a supporting actor. His best-known film is perhaps The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920), where Lettinger portrayed Dr. Olsen.
Sophie Berg Pagay (1860–1937) was an Austrian stage and film actress, born in Brünn, Austria-Hungary. She began acting as a child, and went to Berlin to perform on stage in 1887. She married actor Hans Pagay.
Robert Liebmann was a German screenwriter.
Hermann Picha was a German stage and film actor. Picha was extremely prolific, appearing in over 300 short and feature films during the silent and early sound eras. Picha played a mixture of lead and supporting roles during his career. He played the title role in the 1920 film Wibbel the Tailor directed by Manfred Noa. He appeared in Fritz Lang's Destiny.
Robert Neppach was an Austrian architect, film producer and art director. Neppach worked from 1919 in the German film industry. He oversaw the art direction of over eighty films during his career, including F.W. Murnau's Desire (1921) and Richard Oswald's Lucrezia Borgia (1922). Neppach was comparatively unusual among set designers during the era in having university training.
Frederik Fuglsang (1887–1953) was a Danish cinematographer who worked largely in the German film industry. Fuglsang was employed by Nordisk Film, who initially brought him to Germany. He worked frequently during the Weimar era on films such as Vanina (1922) and Frederic Zelnik's The Weavers. (1927). He was married to the actress Käte Fuglsang.
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