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AMERICAN MOSAIC - 'Betty Rules': Is It Punk? Pop? Alternative? Decide for Yourself

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(MUSIC)

HOST: Welcome to AMERICAN MOSAIC, in VOA Special English.

I'm Doug Johnson. On our show this week:

Music by Betty…

A question from a listener about the movie "Gone With The Wind"

And a report about Mother's Day in the United States.

Mother's Day

Sunday, May eighth, is Mother's Day in the United States. It is a special day when Americans honor their mothers. Faith Lapidus tells us about it.

FAITH LAPIDUS: Writer Julia Ward Howe made the first known suggestion for a Mother's Day in the United States. That was in eighteen seventy-two. She said it should be a day to celebrate peace. For several years, she held a yearly Mother's Day meeting in June in Boston, Massachusetts.

Mother's Day as it is celebrated now began with a woman named Anna Jarvis. She started a campaign for a national observance in the early nineteen hundreds. She wrote thousands of letters to public officials. She urged that the second Sunday in May be declared Mother's Day.

In nineteen fourteen, President Woodrow Wilson and the United States Congress finally agreed. After that, the second Sunday in May became a day to express love for mothers throughout the country.

On Mother's Day, children of all ages give their mothers special gifts. Popular gifts include flowers, jewelry or candy. Children also do nice things so their mother will not have to do any work on her special day. They might bring her breakfast in bed or clean the house.

Children who no longer live at home may travel to visit their mother on Mother's Day. The whole family may go to a restaurant for a holiday meal. Children who cannot be with their mother on the holiday send a special card with a message of love. They also call their mother on the telephone to wish her a happy day. Mother's Day is one of the busiest days of the year for telephone use in the United States.

So, you may ask, do Americans have a special day to honor their fathers? The answer is yes. Father's Day is in June, but that is a story for another time!

'Gone With the Wind'

HOST: Our listener question this week comes from Bangkok, Thailand. Apiradee Treerutkuarkul asks about the famous American movie "Gone with The Wind" and its stars.

"Gone With the Wind" was released in nineteen thirty-nine. Experts still consider it one of the best American movies of all time. It was one of the longest films ever made, at three and one-half hours. It was also one of the most costly at the time. It cost more than four million dollars to make.

The movie is based on a book by Margaret Mitchell published in nineteen thirty-six. Producer David O. Selznick bought the film rights to the book soon after. The book and movie told about people living in the South during and after the American Civil War in the eighteen sixties. The characters must deal with war, survival, love, disloyalty and changes to their way of life.

"Gone with the Wind" broke records for Academy Awards. It won eight Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actress. Actress Hattie McDaniel became the first African American to be nominated for an Oscar. She won for her performance in a supporting role.

The movie was not made easily, however. It had several different directors, although only Victor Fleming won the Oscar. Fifty actors had speaking parts. Thousands of other people were used for crowd and battle scenes.

Vivien Leigh won the Oscar for Best Actress for her performance as Scartlett O'Hara. She had been chosen for the part over many other actresses. But Vivien Leigh was no southern belle. In fact, she was not even American. She was a British citizen born in India. Vivien Leigh was only twenty-six when she became Scarlett O'Hara.

Clark Gable played Rhett Butler in "Gone With the Wind." Gable was born in Ohio in nineteen-oh-one. He became one of America's most popular actors in the nineteen thirties and forties. Clark Gable was tall and very good-looking. He did both comedy and drama well.

Some people were surprised when Clark Gable did not win the Best Actor Oscar for "Gone With the Wind." But, then he already had one. The industry had honored him in nineteen thirty-four for his performance in the movie "It Happened One Night."

'Betty Rules'

Betty is the name of a musical group led by three women: Alyson Palmer and sisters Amy Ziff and Elizabeth Ziff. They have been singing together since nineteen eighty-five. They also wrote and perform in a rock musical play about themselves and their band called "Betty Rules." Barbara Klein has more.

BARBARA KLEIN: Betty has been described as a punk-pop-alternative-rock group. The band has released six albums. The latest is the recording of the songs in their musical play, "Betty Rules." It opened in New York City in two thousand two and was a great success. The group has performed the play in other cities. It recently played in Washington, D.C. Listen to "Kissing You" from "Betty Rules."

(MUSIC)

Alyson Palmer, Amy Ziff and Elizabeth Ziff are from the Washington area. The group added two male musicians -- a guitarist and a drummer -- in nineteen ninety-five.

Here is another song from their play, "Betty Rules." It is called "Slap Bang."

(MUSIC)

The members of Betty and their songs have appeared in many television programs and films. The group has also performed at large gatherings for women's rights and the empowerment of women and girls. They have helped raise millions of dollars for causes such as finding cures for breast cancer and AIDS. We leave you now with another song from "Betty Rules." It is called "It Girl."

(MUSIC)

HOST: I'm Doug Johnson. I hope you enjoyed our program today.

Our show was written by Shelley Gollust, Nancy Steinbach and Caty Weaver, who was also our producer. Our audio engineer was Bob O'Brien.

Join us again next week for AMERICAN MOSAIC, VOA's radio magazine in Special English.

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