Excerpts from "the first rough draft of history" as reported in The Washington Post on this date in the 20th century.
People apparently took their hair seriously in the '20s. Theatrical producer Florenz Ziegfeld, famous for his extravagant "Ziegfeld Follies" musical revues, incurred the wrath of his blond dancers, including future Hollywood actress Paulette Goddard, when he implied that brunettes were better. (Despite her stance, Goddard later heeded his words and went brunette.) And disparaging remarks about the bob, a popular hairdo of the 1920s, earned one preacher a slap in the face. Two excerpts from The Post of July 24, 1926:
New York, July 23 (By A.P.). -- The war of the blondes is on. Up in arms because of the statement of Florenz Ziegfeld that gentlemen prefer brunettes, about 20 blond members of the chorus of Ziegfeld's revue have organized and voted to go on strike next Wednesday unless the producer retracts his statement, it was announced today.
"If anyone thinks this is a joke," said Paulette Goddard, leader of the blonde strike committee, "he is in error. When Mr. Ziegfeld denies that blondes are popular, and when he seeks to exclude them from his next production, the effect on us is very, very serious. Our blonde complexion is our capital, and when Mr. Ziegfeld rates us below brunettes, he hurts our standing. If his views are followed by other producers, as they are likely to be, it may become hard for blondes to obtain positions."
The striking chorus girls say that they will ask a 50 per cent increase in their salaries as compensation for injury already done them. Vindication, however, is what they most want, Miss Goddard explained.
Mr. Ziegfeld denied that he had disparaged blondes, and said he loves them as much as ever.
"If they want to strike," the producer said, "let them strike. Anybody that wants to strike during this weather is welcome."
Miss Goddard explained the presence of several girls with dark eyes and hair in the ranks of the strikers with the statement that "blondness is a state of mind." She said that Mr. Ziegfeld's remarks about blondes had caused the blondes of his chorus to be subject to a great deal of ridicule. Even the stage hands, she said, point at them and say, "You are out."
Frankfort, Ky., July 23 (By A.P.). -- Gov. Fields today pardoned Miss Martha Bates, of Letcher county, who slapped the Rev. Arlie Brown, Baptist preacher, after he criticized bobhaired women.
On May 28 the governor granted Miss Bates a stay of execution of the unsatisfied portion of the 40-day jail sentence given her in Letcher county circuit court. At that time the governor said he wished to investigate the case.
"I am convinced from the investigations made that the preacher, Arlie Brown, with whom Miss Bates became involved, which resulted in her conviction, made the statement that no virtuous woman would wear bobbed hair, or words to that effect, for which statement Miss Bates slapped his jaws," Gov. Field said in his pardon. "I approve of the action of Miss Bates in resenting the alleged remarks."