What Was New in February 1952?
Baby Boomer Trivia From February 1952: King George VI Dies, Norway Winter Olympics, The African Queen Opens
Below, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth in 1939 on the Royal Tour/Train.
(Photo: William Lyon MacKenzie King/Library and Archives Canada | Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain)
On February 6, 1952, 56-year-old King George VI of the United Kingdom and the British Commonwealth, died in his sleep from a coronary thrombosis. King George VI was a heavy smoker and had developed lung cancer before his death. His oldest daughter Princess Elizabeth (family nickname Lilibet) became Queen Elizabeth II upon her father’s death. Nee Albert Frederick Arthur George on December 14, 1895, young Prince Albert (“Bertie to family) was fourth in line to the throne. Prince Albert was shy and had a severe stammer; he never expected nor wanted to become King George VI. His great-grandmother Queen Victoria died in January 1901, and her successor (Prince Albert’s grandfather) King Edward VII died in May 1910. When Prince Albert’s father King George V died in January 1936, Albert’s older brother became King Edward VIII. Seniors may remember seeing King George VI and Queen Elizabeth on television.
King George V is reported to have prophetically said of his oldest son Prince Edward, that “After I am dead the boy will ruin himself in 12 months”, and “I pray to God that my eldest son will never marry and have children, and that nothing will come between Bertie and Lilibet and the throne.” Ten months after becoming King Edward VIII, Edward abdicated in December 1936. In a radio broadcast he explained that he felt he could not “discharge my duties as king as I would wish to do without the help and support of the woman I love (American divorcee Wallis Simpson).” Edward became Duke of Windsor after his abdication and married Wallis Simpson in June 1937, and the new Duke and Duchess of Windsor remained happily married until Edward’s death in May 1972.
(King Edward VIII & Wallis Simpson 1936 Photo: Daily Herald Archive / National Media Museum | Flickr)
The 1952 Oslo, Norway Winter Olympics took place from February 14 to 25. The star of the 1952 Winter Olympic Games was Norweigian speed skater Hjalmar Andersen, who won 3 speed skating gold medals. American figure skater Dick Button completed the first triple jump in competition (a triple loop) and clinched his second consecutive Olympic gold medal win.
Left, Hjalmar Andersen with his children in August 1952. (Photo: Public Domain | Wikimedia Commons)
The Canadian men’s ice hockey team beat the United States team to win their fifth Olympic gold medal – their last for 50 years, until they once again beat the United States to win the 2002 Provo, Utah Winter Olympics gold medal.
This sixth Winter Olympic Games in Oslo, Norway was the first for Japan and West Germany after World War II had ended; neither the Soviet Union or East Germany sent any athletes to the 1952 Winter Olympics. Finn Hodt, a Norwegian speed skater, was not allowed to compete because he was a Nazi collaborator during WWII.
The British-American feature film The African Queen premiered to wide release on February 20, 1952 at the Capitol Theater in New York City. Directed by John Huston who also had a hand in adapting the screenplay, The African Queen movie was based on a 1935 novel by C. S. Forester.
Movie stars Katharine Hepburn (as Rose Sayer) and Robert Morley (as her brother Samuel Sayer) play British missionaries in East Africa; Humphrey Bogart is Charlie Allnut, the captain of a steamer boat named African Queen. Charlie helps Rose escape when World War I breaks out and her brother Samuel is killed. Rose and Charlie fall in love as they dodge the Germans. They become separated and are captured and sentenced to death by the Germans; Charlie’s request to marry Rose before they are executed is honored. A miraculous explosion occurs when the German boat they are on hits the torpedo-laden hull of the sunken African Queen, resulting in newlyweds Charlie and Rose escaping to safety. Below, The African Queen movie trailer.
Roughly half of The African Queen movie was shot in England, and the other half on location in Africa. Katharine Hepburn and many of the cast shooting in Africa were sick while filming there; Humphrey Bogart is said to have bragged that he didn’t get sick because instead of drinking water, he drank gin he’d brought with him. The steamer boat seen in The African Queen movie was restored in 2011 and tourists to Key Largo, Florida can take a private or dinner cruise on the boat.
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