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From the Variety Archives: The Summer Beer Saved Showbiz

Lush rebirth for the entertainment industry

Eighty years ago this summer, the five-column headline on page one of Variety touted an unlikely savior to the nation’s out-of-work actors struggling to find employment during the dark days of the Depression. “BEER WILL USE 1,000 ACTS” boomed the paper, with the accompanying story explaining how the relaxation of Prohibition rules allowing “suds” were leading to happy days again.

Variety was positively ebullient at the prospect that unemployed vaudevillians would soon “go to work in beer gardens and other cafes opening for the specific purpose of selling suds.” In addition to a summer boom for the greasepaint set, Variety projected that “1,500 musicians will be used in the brewspots.”Editions even pinpointed the date of the thirst-quenching onslaught: “Indications are that the beer garden rush will commence about June l.”

But Variety also saw an upside for the film biz in the new beer boom, noting elsewhere on the front page that “the picture business, which doesn’t want to be the beer brewers’ enemy, will come through with a campaign that’s being worked out by Paramount in Song of the Eagle. Variety described this long-lost epic (formerly titled the more colorful Beer Baron) as “a history of beer up to legalization of the suds again” and reported promo plans for the film included for it to be “screened for the leading brewery heads.”

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