The Silver Age
The Silver Age began in mid-1938 and ended in 1950. It opened as the longest and most severe depression in history ended, and it closed as the country was reorganizing itself following the most severe war in history. Basically, the years were war years. They were a time when women and children made it alone for long periods of time while men risked their lives in far away places. They were a time when Americans developed a common and important faitha faith in America as a community of people who were fundementally good and right and who would eventually overcome the problems of the world. And when the war ended, Amercans believed that they could create wonderful and peaceful relationships among countries. Such were the components of the Silver Age.
During the Silver Age, radio continued to grow as a noational entertainment pastime. It also grew as a national and international influence. President Roosevelt indicated he understood the power of the medium by taking important policies directly to the people by the air waves. Radio produced programs which communicated the goals to be acheived by the war effort and for the peace time that was to follow. Because it was a significant source of up-to-the-minute news, people kept close to their radios.
The Silver Age spanned the years of Hollywood's greatest productivity. In 1939, when Gone With The Wind became the biggest box office picture and won an Academy Award, the losing films were such greats as The Wizard of Oz, Wuthering Heights, Of Mice and Men, Stagecoach, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Goodbye Mr. Chips and Ninotchka. During the 1940s, war films abounded, and the medium was used extensively to train individuals for the war effort as well as to entertain them in far away places. It was the last great decade for the motion picture industry.
As the decade of the 1940s drew to a close, families and friends found themselves dislocated due to the war. Scientific and technological advances were being made, television was in its infancy, motion pictures would never see as great a day again, and the comics and comic heroes were headed for some tough times. The United States could no longer live separately from the rest of the world. Americans entered the second half of the century seeking internal equilibrium while facing world problems.
Whitman's Better Little Books® and similar books reflected the times. Stories about the war appeared. Super heroes such as Captain Marvel, Spy Masher, and Bulletman jumped from the comic books to the BLB formats. Bugs Bunny, Porky Pig, and Andy Panda jumped from the screen to BLBs. Mickey Mouse & Donald Duck continued their movie and BLB popularity. When the Flip-it feature was added to the Better Little Books®, animation from the movies became part of the book form.
During the SIlver Age there were fewer companies producing BLB-type books then there was during the Golden Age. Whitman was the predominant publisher. Saalfield and Dell continued until the war started. Fawcett made a brief appearance upon the scene. The Silver Age was the last great age for these books.
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