In the '70s, Revlon cast all-American beauty Shelley Hack in advertisements for Charlie perfume. In the short television spot, the "Charlie girl" glides through an evening out with class and confidence. Oprah says this ad defined the woman she dreamed of becoming. "I wanted to stride like her with confidence. I wanted to be this fabulous," Oprah says.
For almost a year, Oprah's been asking her staff to track down the original footage...and they finally found it! As an added bonus, Shelley came all the way to Chicago to discuss her days as a glamorous spokeswoman.
What started as a commercial became so much more to many women. "It was a time when women were changing," Shelley says. "Women looked at [the ad] and said, 'I want to be like that.'"
After appearing in Revlon commercials, Shelley got her big break on Charlie's Angels. "I was lucky," she says. "There were two things I was in that were about making women feel a little more empowered."
This classic commercial features music legend Paul Anka singing a song he helped pen for the company. Over the years, Paul has written more than 900 songs, including "My Way," the hit made famous by Frank Sinatra, and the Tonight Show theme song!
"That was written for Johnny [Carson]," Paul says. "I ran into him in New York, and he said, 'Well, there's this show I'm going to do, Paul. I think I'll do it for a couple of years, and I want to change a few things.' So I wrote this and sent it to him, and he called me back and said, 'I love it. It's simple, and we'll do it.'"
Paul says he calls that catchy tune his "school" song. "I put my kids through school on that," he says. "Five girls, folks."
This '60s teen idol isn't handing over the microphone just yet. His latest release, Classic Songs: My Way, is in stores now.
One cuddly piece of Americana, the Teddy bear, got his name in 1902 from President Theodore Roosevelt. The president refused to shoot a bear cub during a hunting trip...and the rest is history.
In the 1920s, a cotton buyer invented the handy bandage for his accident-prone wife. He sold his idea to his employer, Johnson & Johnson, who began mass producing Band-Aids for the rest of the country. Americans have been stuck on them ever since!
In 1933, Richard Hollingshead opened the first drive-in theater near his home in New Jersey. The concept caught on, and soon after, thousands of drive-ins sprang up across the country. Over the years, the popularity of drive-ins has declined, but they've been immortalized in films like Grease.
The Slinky, an iconic American plaything, was invented by accident in the 1940s. Engineer Richard James came up with the idea after a tension spring he was working with fell to the floor and began slinking away.
A few years later, the Slinky debuted at Gimbel's Department Store in Philadelphia. Since then, more than 300 million have been sold throughout the world.
In 1974, fashion designer Diane Von Furstenberg began selling her signature wrap dress, which remains a classic to this day. The style was so influential to women's fashion, one of her designs is now on display at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art.
"I believe pop culture makes the world go round," Tommy says. "I thought it was important to put all of this great stuff in between two covers of a book and remind the world that we are a great country. Yes, we made some mistakes...and there's the good, the bad and the ugly in the book, but mostly it's great stuff."
To share his love of pop icons, Tommy's sending everyone in Oprah's audience home with a signed copy of his book!
Dylan's Candy Bar was created by Dylan Lauren, the daughter of iconic American fashion designer Ralph Lauren. Dylan says she discovered her passion for sweets as a child, when she loved to hang out at the corner candy shop.
"I loved candy my whole life," Dylan says. "I saw Willie Wonka [and the Chocolate Factory] when I was 6, and I just loved the set design and the lollipop trees and the candy cane columns. When we did Dylan's Candy Bar, we wanted it to be this crazy, fun candy land for kids and the kid in the adult."
Dylan says there's a lot more to Dylan's candy bar than just candy. "It's three levels of candy, and candy from around the world. Candy gift baskets. Candy apparel. Candy pajamas," Dylan says. "There's candy rain boots. There's candy pillows. Candy umbrellas. Candy bags. Candy jewelry. It's really anything for anyone, even if you don't want to eat candy or you just love the colors."
Many of the candies at Dylan's store are well-known and loved—but do you know where they got their names? For example, Dylan says Baby Ruth chocolate bars were not named after the legendary baseball player Babe Ruth. "It's actually after the President Grover Cleveland's daughter," she says.
The words "Cracker Jack" weren't always synonymous with molasses-covered popcorn and peanuts. "It got its name because 'crackerjack' is slang for, 'That's really great,'" Dylan says. "A customer at the Chicago World's Fair was trying it and was like, 'Yeah, that's crackerjack!'"
According to the Library of Congress, restaurant owner Louis Lassen was the first to serve a beef patty between two slices of bread in 1900. Some food historians claim Fletcher Davis unveiled the burger sandwich at the St. Louis World's Fair in 1904. White Castle co-founder Walter A. Anderson says it was his idea to serve hamburgers on buns.
No matter who invented them, Marc Summers, the host of the Food Network show Unwrapped, says hamburgers beat out the hot dog as America's favorite fast food after World War II.
"When the soldiers came home, they got into their automobiles. Especially in Southern California, there were drive-ins, a la Happy Days, and it became culture right there," Marc says. "White Castle was the number one burger chain."
In America, Marc says, apple pie was available to all, but some pies became a sign of aristocracy. "The poorer people didn't have enough money for flour and lard, so they didn't have the upper crust [on their pie]," Marc says. "Only the rich people could do that, and that's where the term 'upper crust' originated."
"When hot dogs first came out, they did not have buns. They gave you a glove to keep the grease and to keep the heat away from you," Marc says. To try and simplify things, the purveyor enlisted some help. "[He] had a brother-in-law who was a baker. He said, 'Is there something you can come up with to put the hot dog in?' He came up with the split bun, got rid of the gloves, and there you go."
"One of the salesmen [asked the miners], 'Is there something that you want?' They said, 'We want something filling and something that fits into our lunch pail,'" Marc says. "The moon was coming up, and he said, 'I want it to be as big as the moon and twice as thick.'" That's when they invented the first official "moon pie"—two graham crackers filled with marshmallow and dipped in chocolate!
So how did RC Cola get involved? At the time, Marc says RC came in bigger bottles than Pepsi and Coca-Cola, so it was a natural choice. "[RC] cost 5 cents. The MoonPie was 5 cents, so for 10 cents, it was called the working man's lunch."
The ruby slippers Judy Garland wore in The Wizard of Oz are among the museum's most iconic Hollywood items. Dorothy's sparkly red shoes journeyed far from home for a rare one-time appearance on The Oprah Show—and they travel in style!
On the trip from the museum in Washington, D.C., the ruby slippers were accompanied by an entourage to rival an A-list celebrity's. For the voyage, the slippers were securely packed in a box. Then, with the protection of two armed guards, the ruby slippers flew first-class to Chicago.
The museum's director, Dr. Brent Glass, says they are priceless. "There's the value to the American public and really to the whole world because people treasure the memory of seeing The Wizard of Oz," he says. "The value, I think, is really important because they are a treasure of our youth. They're a treasure of the story of The Wizard of Oz and Dorothy's quest to find her way home."
Carefully handling the slippers using white gloves, Dr. Glass shows Oprah their felt soles. "They were worn by Judy Garland during her dance routines on the Yellow Brick Road because there's felt on the bottom of these slippers," he says. The felt helped muffle the sound of dance steps.
One very cool addition to the collection is the jacket made famous by Henry Winkler when he played Arthur "Fonzie" Fonzarelli in the 1970s sitcom Happy Days.
"We collect things like this to give people a real experience, an experience with authentic American treasures," he says. "People come to the Smithsonian and to the American History Museum to connect with the larger world of art and history and science."