The Backstory with Patty Steele

The Backstory with Patty Steele

Love a good, juicy story that goes beyond what we already know? We're talking scandalous presidential family members, a mass murder at a world-famous architect's home, stolen inventions, nude athletes at the first Olympics, compulsive liars, the arrival of the bikini, and so much more. History fanatic Patty Steele tells you the inside backstories you didn’t know you needed to know.

Episodes

May 28, 2024 7 mins

James Brown, the godfather of soul, had some anger issues. In fact, he went to prison after threatening agents at an insurance seminar with a gun because he thought they used his private bathroom. 

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Think politics today are the most angry and violent they’ve ever been? What about the days when senators and congressmen came to work armed with guns and knives? Or the murder of one congressman by another just because they had an ideological disagreement? That’s when politics were bloody.

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We think the world just keeps evolving. But what happens when a civilization like Rome collapses and all that technology disappears? 

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Imagine meeting your children…and they're way older than you! But you've been obsessed since your earliest memory with the idea that you were the mother of eight kids. But you died, leaving them orphaned. And your guilt was palpable, even as a three-year-old! You may not believe in reincarnation, but it’s hard to ignore Jenny Cockell’s story.

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We use words and phrases every day, and usually never question why we say what we say. Why do we say “she’s on a wild goose chase” or “we laughed our heads off”? The surprising origin of ordinary phrases. 

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May 10, 2024 7 mins

You’d think being a princess (and ultimately the queen) of the Hawaiian islands would be an uncomplicated dream life. But the last queen of the kingdom of Hawaii dealt with an unfaithful husband, racism, death threats, and being placed under house arrest for over a year as her kingdom was overthrown by a coup and annexed to America. 

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Swearing, cursing, cussing, giving somebody the finger…they’re kind of ubiquitous these days, but they’ve been around for thousands of years. And now researchers say that yelling out your favorite four-letter word can even lower your blood pressure. But where in the &^%* did it all start and how has it evolved?

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Born into complete poverty and now, by some accounts, the richest man in the world, Vladimir Putin has also become an enemy of most of the world. Here's where he came from, how he got a stranglehold on power, and what he’s doing with it.

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Being successful at what you do in business doesn’t seem to guarantee you’ll be a successful spouse or parent. Thomas Edison is a clear example of a genius businessman who was a bit of a failure as a father. Most of his children shared stories of their difficult relationship with the Wizard of Menlo Park.

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Thousands of young people, dreaming of stardom, head to Hollywood. A few make it, but so many more are victimized by predators who specifically prey on the most vulnerable types. This is the story of the Digital Entertainment Network, aka DEN, among the first companies with plans to stream digital content to young adults. That blew up because of its owner's lust for young boys.

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Seemingly strait-laced Washington, D.C. in the 19th century was actually filled with illicit affairs. One of them involved some powerful players (and a very young wife). It also involved the son of Francis Scott Key, who wrote the Star Spangled Banner and it led to a murder that was the talk of pre-Civil War Washington…and beyond.

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The lord of bhang, Reefer Madness…weed has a checkered past. But for thousands of years it was used and celebrated by most cultures. It wasn’t until one pivotal moment in the early 20th century that it became demonized. Now its benefits have been rediscovered and its reputation somewhat salvaged.

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There are some mysteries that we never quite figure out. One of them is about the 1971 hijacking of a jetliner by a guy called D. B. Cooper. He got $200,000 from the FBI and parachuted out of an airliner into the stormy wilderness of Washington state. They’ve never found him or even figured out who he was. But one man has stepped forward with a likely answer, thanks to his mom.

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April 9, 2024 8 mins

From a 2-inch wide blurry, black-and-white image, to a giant piece of clear glass that transforms wirelessly into an exquisite screen, television has almost magically evolved. In 100 years, for better or for worse, screens have become one of the most important, controlling devices in our lives. How did it start? And where is it taking us?

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The kidnapping of the Lindbergh baby 90 years ago led to the execution of a man a few years later. But researchers say there are plenty of reasons to suspect that there was a rush to judgment. And then there’s Charles Lindbergh’s fascination with Aryan superiority, which led him to have seven children with three German women, in addition to the six he had with his wife.

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How did ferocious, man-eating wolves evolve into Labrador Retrievers, St. Bernards, and even teacup poodles—not to mention become our best friends? It's an amazing story of genetics and mutual need. But it's also a story of love.

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Why do so many of us have the need to be trendy, to do or say things we think make us look as cool as the people we’re copying? Trends through the ages have included everything from style statements to full-on body modification. 

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It’s hard to imagine that one of the most powerful presidents in U.S. history was the victim of domestic violence. Abe Lincoln was physically and emotionally battered by Mary Todd Lincoln, primarily due to her mental illness.

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Talent, glamour, fame, sex, and possibly murder. What really happened to Natalie Wood more than 40 years ago? One guy who was there has been talking about her death. But nobody’s listening.

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He’s been called the devil, the monster. But H.H. Holmes was America’s first known serial killer. Even he said killing was his destiny. His victims were men, women, and even little children, many coming to Chicago and his hotel for the great 1893 World’s Fair. The tabloid press described his murders and then embellished the story.

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