Bessie Smith (1891 - 1965)

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Summary

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Bessie Smith Biography & Family History

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Birth

Death

Cause of death

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Burial / Funeral

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Obituary

Last Known Residence

New Jersey

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Family

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Education

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Military Service

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Maiden name

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Gender

Female

Family Photos

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Timeline

1891 - In the year that Bessie Smith was born, from March 9th through the 12th, a blizzard hit the south and west of England. Called the Great Blizzard of 1891, it led to snow drifts of up to 15 feet and killed 200 people and 6,000 animals. Fourteen ships sank.

1927 - By the time she was 36 years old, the first "talkie" (a movie with music, songs, and talking), The Jazz Singer, was released. Al Jolson starred as a cantor's son who instead of following in his father's footsteps as expected, becomes a singer of popular songs. Banished by his father, they reconcile on his father's deathbed. It was a tear-jerker and audiences went wild - especially when they heard the songs. Thus begun the demise of silent films and the rise of "talkies".

1931 - When she was 40 years old, in March, “The Star Spangled Banner” officially became the national anthem by congressional resolution. Other songs had previously been used - among them, "My Country, 'Tis of Thee", "God Bless America", and "America the Beautiful". There was fierce debate about making "The Star Spangled Banner" the national anthem - Southerners and veterans organizations supported it, pacifists and educators opposed it.

1961 - At the age of 70 years old, Bessie was alive when on April 17th, about 1,000 CIA trained Cuban exiles invaded Cuba with the intention of igniting a rebellion and overthrowing Castro. They were defeated within three days. Although the operation began under Eisenhower, Kennedy approved it and the operation, named the Bay of Pigs for the beach where they landed, was a humiliation for the United States.

1965 - In the year of Bessie Smith's passing, the television show "I Spy" premiered in the fall season on NBC. The stars were Bill Cosby and Robert Culp, making Cosby the first African American to headline a television show. Four stations - in Georgia, Florida, and Alabama - refused to air the show.

Bessie Smith Family Tree

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Obituary

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Bessie Smith died in July 1965 at 73 years of age. There is no listed cause of death for Bessie. She was born on November 24, 1891. We are unaware of information about Bessie's family or relationships. We know that Bessie Smith had been residing in New Jersey.

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