It Didn't Begin Until the Fat Lady Sang

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Chicago Tribune, November 10, 1920. Ever wonder how America's socialized opera system became the envy of the developed world? Well, the idea began gathering steam in the Twenties, at least among forward thinkers like Esther here.

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Of course, there were always Philistines like this lout, who sure doesn't look to me like he's been doing without liquor.

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The concurrent nationalization of filmmaking and film distribution had almost as big an impact on American cultural life as the creation of the Federal Opera Authority, crown jewel of the New Deal.

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Of course, once the government controlled both the cinema and the opera, it was easy for regulatory authorities to persuade now-legendary tenors like Norvell Hardy and Roscoe Conkling Arbuckle to stop making slapstick comedies and return to the operatic stage. (Boy, does this guy look like Richard Loeb or what.)

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You said it, sister.

Tune in next week as we probe the origins of that other great American institution, the Federal Interstate Buffet System.

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