The 1920s brought on the rise of mass media, the attraction of the silver screen, books, sports, and Broadway shows, meaning that famous people from the era were the shining stars of the changing world of celebrities. In honour of their success and impact on the world, The Thirsty Barber has written a list of the most famous people from the 1920s:
French dancer, jazz and pop music singer, and actress Josephine Baker, was the first black woman to ever star in a major motion picture (Zouzou – 1934) and also the first to become a world-famous entertainer. Born in St. Louis, Missouri, she eventually landed her professional career on Broadway in 1929, and served as a muse for American writers such as F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, and Langston Hughes. She was fluent in both English and French, and in 1937, she renounced her U.S. Citizenship to become a citizen of France. In 1968, Baker was offered unofficial leadership in the movement in the U.S. by Corretta Scott King, following the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr, but she declined the offer.
Born Marie Louise Brooks, this American film actress and dancer noted as an iconic symbol of the flapper, as well as for popularising the bob haircut. Brooks debuted in the 1925 film The Street of Forgotten Men, but she is best known for being the lead in three feature films produced in Europe: Pandora’s Box (1929), Diary of a Lost Girl (1929), and Miss Europe (1930). She starred in a total of seventeen silent films and eight sound films before she retired in 1938. She published her memoir – Lulu in Hollywood – in 1982 and died of a heart attack three years later aged 78.
The infamous American gangster attained his fame during the Prohibition era as the co-founder and boss of the Chicago Outfit. Born Alphonso Gabriel Capone, he moved to Chicago in his early twenties where he became bodyguard and trusted factotum for Johnny Torrio, head of a criminal syndicate that illegally supplied alcohol. A conflict with the North Side Gang resulted in Torrio’s retirement after he was almost killed, where he then handed control over to Capone. The 1929 Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre, however, damaged Chicago’s image as well as Al Capone’s, leading influential citizens to demand governmental action and newspapers to dub him as “Public Enemy No. 1”.
F. Scott Fitzgerald
American novelist and short story writer Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald was the illustrator of the Jazz Age. With his several short stories and four completed novels; This Side of Paradise, The Beautiful and the Damned, Tender is the Night, and his best-known novel, The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald is widely regarded as one of the greatest American writers of the 20th century. His fifth and unfinished novel, The Love of the Last Tycoon, was published posthumously under his title, as prepared by his friend, critic and writer Edmund Wilson.
This English comic actor, filmmaker and composer rose to fame during the silent film era. He became a worldwide icon through his screen persona “The Tramp”, and is still considered to be one of the most important figures in the history of the film industry. The Kid, The Gold Rush, City Lights, Modern Times, and The Great Dictator were the films that made him the most successful and popular film star of his time.
There were, of course, several other very important and influential people from the 1920s, including scientist Albert Einstein, artist Salvador Dali, fashion designer and businesswoman Coco Chanel, and musician Duke Ellington.
If you’re a fan of famous people from the 1920s and the Prohibition era itself, be sure to head over to The Thirsty Barber in St Julian’s – Malta’s first ever Prohibition style bar. We guarantee a great night of fantastic music, delicious drinks, and an authentic 1920s vibe.