Saturday, September 29, 2018

Seattle World's Fair, June 1962

Once somebody figured out that Seattle was a part of the world, they immediately started plans to build a World's Fair there. And lo! It came to pass in 1962 - the "Century 21 Exposition", as it was known. Elvis Presley and a young Kurt Russell went there (in the movie "It Happened At The World's Fair"), and that's pretty much all the "cred" this Fair needs to get respect. Plus it made a profit - many Fairs did not. 

The first photo for today shows a gentleman posing near an "Electri-Cab" and a butterscotch gold "Fairliner" tram. "Why walk anywhere?" is my motto. Other folks rush hither and fro to see the many wonders of the Fair. The legs of the Space Needle rise in the distance, while the "Cathay Arts Company" woos lovers of exotic Asian goods.

Over at the International Mall, you could not get a Hotdog on a Stick or Dippin' Dots, but you could buy "Gifts From Germany" or hand-crafted goods from Thailand. Some sort of French-themed establishment seems to be the next one in line. They sold berets and striped shirts, probably.

Do you think ladies wore hats like that every day in Seattle? Or was this a Sunday, and this is how they dressed to go to church?

All of the best World's Fairs had burlesque shows. "Backstage U.S.A.", eh?  Sounds potentially naughty! The sign on the ticket window says CLOSED - Grandpa will be so disappointed (he still goes on and on about that time he saw Gypsy Rose Lee). Meanwhile, the "posters" on the fa├žade depict ladies from all over the world. All of these ladies think it's much too warm to be wearing so much clothing. It happens.

There's a brief article about this feature of the Fair HERE - it says it's "not safe for work", but it is pretty tame. Still, if you are at work, you have been warned!

I'll have more photos from the Seattle World's Fair coming up.


Nanook said...


The "Electricabs" are motoring-down Boulevard West. In the background we can see State Flag Plaza [or Plaza of the States]. The large building behind it is the Armory [known as the Food Circus during the fair].

The shops seen in the second image are located on the Boulevards of the World; and I've never been able to locate a thorough listing of its occupants - undoubtedly the list exists somewhere.

And what can I say about "Backstage USA"-? "Audiences were invited to see what a stage show looked like from 'the other side of the curtain', which included, not coincidentally, plenty of opportunities to see the showgirls in varying stages of undress. Shocked Seattle citizens complained about the nudity, but the crowds wanted more, so the producers found additional reasons for the women to prance about in the buff". Sure sounds like 'show business' to me-! The article in the link tells much more about it.

"Backstage USA" was part of Show Street, featuring attractions that "...were often based on topless dancers, reflecting fair President Joseph E. Gandy's promise that the fair "would have something for the boys" ".

(previous quotes from Seattle's 1962 World's Fair, by Bill Cotter)

Thanks, Major.

TokyoMagic! said...

The man in the brown suit in that first pic, reminds me of Guillermo from "Jimmy Kimmel Live!"

If the burlesque show was closed for the day, maybe Grandpa could get in to see Sid and Marty Kroft's "nude marionette show," which was mentioned in that article. I certainly hope that H.R. Puffnstuff was NOT appearing in the nude.

Budblase said...

Wow! That guy in the brown suit in the first picture....”uncle Fred” sneakes up on you. You are just looking around and BAM! He is staring into your soul.

Melissa said...

I love the ladies in the jaunty red coats. The bright blue beret kicks it up from "jaunty" to "snazzy."

Backstage USA reminds me I've got that from the Carousel of Progress where the son is looking at the fathers stereoscope slides of little Egypt dancing the
hoochie-koochie at the World’s Fair in St. Louis.

Nanook said...

@ TM!-
You’re right-! I kept staring at him and thinking he reminded me of someone, I just couldn’t figure out who.

@ Melissa-
It may just be the glasses, but the “gals” in those ‘jaunty red coats’ look an awful-lot alike, as if they might be twins, perchance-?

Anonymous said...

Better HR Pufnstuff than Charles Nelson Reilly from Lidsville

Chuck said...

In the first picture, note the gentleman in the red sportcoat - who I'm assuming is the driver/tour guide on the Electricab - pointing out sights of interest to the Billy Graham look-alike in the long, dark coat seated behind him.

Actually, there are lots of long, dark coats in these photos, perfectly complementing the gloom. Hitchcock should have made a film here. I wonder what he would have done with It Happened At the World's Fair? I'm imagining a chase involving the monorail, a fight atop the Space Needle, and the villain's long, long fall to his death as the hero catches there heroine's hand and saves her from certain doom. I'm having a harder time imagining it starring Elvis Presley, though.

Always fun to see a picture of a picture being taken. I wonder if Guillermo's family will stumble on this photo of Grandpa taking his photo at the Fair?

I recently found a slide my grandfather took of my dad taking this photo at Universal Studios. It was kind of fun to find a "making of" image of a photo you've been familiar with for most of your life.

Scanned these images closely and did not find my dad and his family, although I know that they visited this fair. They must have been out of frame, taking a picture of the guy taking the picture of the guy taking a picture of Guillermo.

JC Shannon said...

World Fairs have always facinated me. I was fortunate enough to have attended the 64 Worlds Fair in New York. Dad took us all to to New York on the most beautiful TWA Boeing 707. I got Future Pilot Wings from the Stewardess and a certificate entitling me to a job interview for pilot with the airline. I still have the wings. I read about the Seattle Fair in the Weekly Reader in class at Colfax Avenue School as a lad. Since then I have always wanted to go to the top of the Space Needle. As of this writing, I have still not done that. I love these great pics of a time when burlesque was still a thrill and electric transportation was a novelty. Thanks Major for these awesome scans.

Melissa said...

I think you're right! Not only do they have the same glasses,hairstyle, and earrings, but on further zoom I can see that the lady in the darker red coat also has a darker blue hat! And there's a certain similarity in their faces, as well. I can just picture them coordinating their wardrobes for meeting at the Fair!

Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, like you, I’ve had a hard time finding detailed info about all of the shops and features. I know that I have a souvenir guidebook somewhere, but it is in one of many boxes - presumably it would fill in a lot of gaps. If you look at the amusement zone from the 1939 World’s Fair, there was plenty of nudity to be had for those who were interested. Somehow those pre-WWII people seemed much less horrified by the idea of “girlie shows” than the people of the 1960’s were.

TokyoMagic!, I guess that guy does look like Guillermo. I don’t watch Jimmy Kimmel much, but I get the impression that Guillermo is a sort of Larry “Bud” Melman? Meanwhile, the thought of a Sid and Marty Kroft “nude marionette show” is very strange. I think they had a similar show at the New York World’s Fair two years later.

Budblase, he’s like a character out of a horror movie!

Melissa, that seems to have been a time when red coats were popular. You see a few others in the background of other photos. Didn’t “Meet Me In Saint Louis” have some joke about Little Egypt?

Nanook, aaaaaaa! More twins!

Anon, ha ha - Lidsville was one of the strangest Saturday morning shows - I loved it at the time. So trippy.

Chuck, yes, I assume that the guy in the red coat is the guide. I wonder if Hitchcock ever considered filming in Seattle? He definitely loved a tall landmark, and that Space Needle would have done the trick nicely. I would like to see the photo of your dad taking the photo of you and your mom!!

Jonathan, I might be up in the Space Needle next week! Weather and time permitting. Though it is a touristy thing to do, it is still right up there among my top goals. Everyone I know who has done it has said it is worth it. Now if only I could have taken my girl to dinner - sadly the restaurant is closed for renovations. Your mention of Future Pilot Wings makes me think I should take photos of my little collection of airline pilot/stewardess wings given out to children and post them here.

Melissa (and Nanook), my theory is that those two red-coated ladies are sisters, but not twins. Of course they might just be fraternal twins and not identical!

Melissa said...

Couldn't resist having a bit of fun with the Redcoat Twins.

Nanook said...

@ Melissa-
The group definitely strikes a 'snazzy pose'-!

Nanook said...


Next door to Samran Thai Co. is the Paris Bagatelle. Perhaps they sold 'trifle' berets-?

Major Pepperidge said...

Melissa, I am kind of sad that our old friend Linda isn't in the photo as well! ;-)

Nanook, is there any higher praise than "snazzy"??

Nanook II, anything is possible - if they are full-sized, you could wear it AND eat it.

Melissa said...

(Linda's hiding in the bushes.)

Nancy said...

I have decided that when my time machine is ready, I am going on a World's Fair tour starting in 1939 up to the present day :) Great pictures today, Major

Unknown said...

My great aunt had the german store. Her last name hewitt is on the building.She went on a big buying trip for this. I had one of the capes and have many pictures of hers from this experience.

Unknown said...

My great aunt had the german store. Her last name hewitt is on the building.She went on a big buying trip for this. I had one of the capes and have many pictures of hers from this experience.