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1940s Celebrities In Full Color

These are the kinds of black-and-white images we usually associate with past celebrities like Louis Armstrong, Orson Welles and Lucille Ball.

But seeing this collection is like arriving in Oz. A new exhibit at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C., shows 24 typically monochrome faces from the 1930s, '40s and '50s in full color. The New York Times has more details, but in short: Pioneering photographer Harry Warnecke and his colleagues created these portraits for the New York Daily News Sunday magazine.

Of note: A baby-faced Orson Welles and the backdrop that frames Gene Autry.

Because it was such a complicated process, color photography was relatively rare in the 1930s. But Warnecke designed his own camera, using "the technically demanding, tri-color carbro process," the exhibit language explains. Each of these images is a combination of three differently colored negatives.

Beautiful traces of that process show in the perimeter of blue, magenta and yellow around each portrait. Typically, those borders would be cropped away, but today, they suggest a demanding processes of yore used to capture America's celebrities of yore.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

'Game Of Thrones' Evolves On Women In Explosive Sixth Season

The sixth season of HBO's Game of Thrones showed a real evolution in the way the show portrays women and in the season finale, several female characters ascended to power. NPR's Kelly McEvers talks to Glen Weldon from NPR's Pop Culture Happy Hour and Greta Johnsen, host of the Nerdette podcast, about the show.
NPR

In Quest For Happier Chickens, Perdue Shifts How Birds Live And Die

Perdue Farms, one of the largest poultry companies in the country, says it will change its slaughter methods and also some of its poultry houses. Animal welfare groups are cheering.
WAMU 88.5

Jonathan Rauch On How American Politics Went Insane

Party insiders and backroom deals: One author on why we need to bring back old-time politics.

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Episode 5: Why 1986 Still Matters

In 1986, a federal official issued a warning: If Metro continued to expand rapidly, the system faced a future of stark choices over maintaining existing infrastructure. Metro chose expansion. We talk to a historian about that decision. We also hear from a former Metro general manager about the following years, and from an Arlington planner about measuring how riders are responding to SafeTrack.

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