Friday, March 23, 2018

Yes, Santa Anna Did Invent Chewing Gum

   Yes, that Santa Anna. Battle of the Alamo Santa Anna.  His time in San Antonio is well documented. What is lesser known is his role in the invention of chewing gum. 
After his surrender in San Jacinto, Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna lived in a variety of place including Cuba and Staten Island, New York.
According to the well-researched book, Chicle, The Chewing Gum of the Americas, From the Ancient Maya to William Wrigley by Jennifer P. Mathews, Santa Anna was trying to find a way to fund a return to the presidency of Mexico while living in New York.  Santa Anna had a supply of chicle from Vera Cruz that he chewed for pleasure.  Chicle is produced by the sapodilla tree and used for decades by indians as a chewable snack. With the assistance of amateur inventor Thomas Adams, Santa Anna tried to create a valuable substitute for rubber using chicle. 

   When their attempt at fortune failed, Santa Anna returned to Mexico, penniless. Adams, left with a large supply of chicle, cut it into bight size pieces and sold it as candy. Adams called his treat, Chicklets and eventually made his fortune. The rest is history.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

The First Movie to Win the Oscar is . . . from San Antonio

The first movie to win the Oscar for Best Picture has its roots in the Alamo City. The silent World War I epic Wings was filmed in San Antonio, using its many military facilities as backdrops. Kelly and Brooks Fields were used as cadet training sites. The Ft. Sam Houston gate near the Quadrangle was used in the opening shot, and Camp Stanley acted as St. Mihiel, France, where the 2nd Infantry fought.
The film premiered in San Antonio on May 19, 1927, at the Texas Theatre. Proceeds from the event ($5,500) were given to a memorial fund for the 2nd Infantry Division, which lost 25,000 troops in World War I. Actors Buddy Rogers, Clara Bow, Richard Arlen, and Jobyna Ralston attended the premier of their film, as did many actors from the movie Rough Riders, which was filming in San Antonio at the time.

The Texas Theatre, in it's former glory before it was partially torn down. Only the facade exists today on Houston Street. 

The movie also features the screen debut of Gary Cooper who was on screen for a total of 102 seconds. Cooper received such a reaction from fans who wrote the studio asking about the tall actor that his fate as a star was born.

Gary Cooper (right) making his acting debut

The premiere ended on a spectacular note, when moviegoers left the theatre and were greeted by newsboys who were selling papers announcing that former Brooks Field Cadet Charles Lindbergh was preparing to leave for Paris on his solo transatlantic flight.

View The Trailer