A Glimpse of Florida History, One Snapshot At A Time

Apr 13, 2018

FLORIDA SNAPSHOTS - A WLRN Original Production - Short stories that capture Florida's unique and colorful past. 

CLARK GABLE GOES TO WAR - Clark Gable enlisted in the army to fight in WW II and trained in Miami.

Clark Gable training as a gunner in the US Army.
Credit History Miami

At the height of his movie star fame, Clark Gable enlisted in the army to fight in WW II.  He trained in Miami as an aviator and machine gunner. He was Adolph Hitler’s favorite actor and the Fuhrer offered a reward to anyone who could bring him in alive. After the war, he resumed his career as Hollywood royalty.   

AMELIA EARHART'S LAST FLIGHT - Amelia Earhart’s last attempt to circle the globe departed from Miami June 1937. 

Amelia Earhart, 1931

History's most celebrated female pilot, Amelia Earhart, made her last attempt to circumnavigate the globe.  She departed from Miami, June 1st 1937 with  Fred Noonan, one of  Pan American airlines most seasoned pilots and navigators.  A month later, they were never seen or heard from again.  The mystery of how and why Earhart and Noonan disappeared over the Pacific has haunted our imagination ever  since.  

ROSIE THE ELEPHANT - Miami Beach developer Carl Fisher built the city with the help of Rosie the elephant. 

Rosie dancing the cancan
Credit Florida State Archives

 Carl Fisher cleared the mangrove thickets off Miami Beach to build his playground for the wealthy with the help of a pair of young elephants, Rosie and Carl. He boasted Rosie would bring him a million dollars worth of free publicity. She was photographed with presidents, with opera singers, cancan dancers, and at birthday parties. Rosie was so famous she had her own fan club. No one knows what happened to her.  

HOW SWEET IT IS - Jackie Gleason fell in love with Florida and moved his show to Miami.

 Jackie Gleason first fell in love with Florida when he was invited to Lantana to play golf with friends. Hank Meyer, Miami Beach’s public relations magnate, lured Jackie Gleason to Miami Beach with a sweet deal – film his weekly TV show in South Florida and play his favorite game year round.  In 1964, Gleason moved his show to Miami Beach and  essentially became the pitchman for the Magic City for six years until the show ended in 1970.  

SEE YOU LATER ALLIGATOR - Floridian’s had a penchant to have their pictures taken with stuffed alligators.

Tourist photo of two women posing with a dead alligator
Credit History Miami

Floridian’s had a penchant at the turn of the last century to have their pictures taken posing with stuffed alligators. Families dressed up in their finest clothes for these portraits, but the cheeky bravado of the photographs revealed the profound unease  Florida’s pioneer settlers felt with their strange new environment.  

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