The world of popular culture changes dramatically throughout the 1930s, as new music, food, and fashions come on the scene. Commercial TV is introduced in April, and Judy Garland makes history singing “I See a Rainbow,” while World War II begins in Europe. The Jefferson nickel is introduced, and two out of three women begin using birth control. Almost sixty percent of American households watch movies at least once a week. The advent of “talkies” in 1930 saw the birth of Hollywood’s movie stars, including James Cagney, Fred Astaire, and Clark Gable.
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The Great Depression dominated the decade, but men’s daily wardrobes tended to be less fanciful than the 1920s. Shirts were usually loose-fitting, with matching trousers. Women wore more baggy lounge pants when on vacation. The modern swimsuit also emerged in the 1930s, with lighter-weight rubberized fabrics replacing heavier wool suits. And women copied the styles of their favorite movie stars. Short curly hairstyles were popular in the 1930s, with the Marcel wave first appearing in the 1920s.
The 1930s were an era of economic and political crisis. The Wall Street Crash of 1929 marked the worst stock market crash in American history. This economic downturn prompted widespread poverty in the United States and Germany, and the Dust Bowl was a major source of scarcity. Despite the difficulties, Americans continued to find ways to entertain themselves. Swing dancing, radio shows, and fireside chats were all popular forms of entertainment during this decade.
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