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

February 20, 2024 6 mins

This is the remarkable story of Robert Smalls. In 1862, he was a young slave who managed to commandeer a rebel warship in Charleston, South Carolina’s heavily fortified harbor, turn it over to the North and go on to have a spectacular business and political career.  

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The Nazis not only had a deluded belief in their own racial superiority, some of their top leaders believed they were superhumans descended from the inhabitants of the lost city of Atlantis. (They had a whole branch of the military dedicated to proving that.)

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Human attachment is thousands of years old but Valentine’s Day started off as a blood soaked pagan fertility festival, and it wasn’t much fun for women. On the flip side, the romance element is a recent invention. You can thank the Victorians for that. 

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Sports, whether they're big-time or small-time, make an awful lot of people happy. They can also push folks to pull some crazy stunts. 

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We’re all a contradiction at times, but nothing like Civil War general Oliver Howard. He was a medal of honor winner, he worked to get freed black men the right to vote, and was the founder of historically black Howard University. But after the war he chased down and killed or captured hundreds of Native Americans in the Nez Perce War with the U.S.

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What would we do to live better, longer, or maybe even forever? Lots of quests for immortality involved mystical potions or objects. And one very popular fad in the 1920s involved transplanted monkey testicles!

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In the race to become the reigning superpower, nations have resorted to all sorts of bizarre tactics. Some of them were pretty humorous. And that reached new heights during the Cold War.

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Stop and think about the impact of radio on our world. For thousands of years, storytelling, music, news, and entertainment were all in person. Suddenly, this gadget arrives and opens up the world to us. What did we hear, and how did it change us?

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You love gangster TV shows and movies like The Sopranos, The Godfather, and Goodfellas? You love Las Vegas? Bugsy Siegel was the mobster/visionary who created Las Vegas with his spectacular Flamingo Hotel and Casino in 1947. But it cost him his life.

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January 19, 2024 9 mins

It seems like iconic, larger-than-life folks should meet larger-than-life demises. But that's not always the case. There are huge names who died from all sorts of ridiculous and messy mistakes.

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Hearing about a panel on an Alaska Airlines jet popping off mid-air gives us all a serious case of the creeps. But imagine you’re in a jet at almost 35,000 feet when a terrorist’s bomb blows it into pieces. You free fall to Earth…and survive. 

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On a beautiful summer morning in 1908, a massive explosion hit Siberia. It downed 80 million trees and lit the night sky 3,000 miles away in Sweden. But to this day, no one knows what caused it.

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Depression is nothing new, although we call it by a different name than they did centuries ago, and we have some new ways of treating it. But some of our greatest minds, like JFK, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and Abe Lincoln have been strengthened by their battles with depression. 

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It’s the Wild West and the first democratic governor of Wyoming, as well as the state's first female doctor, have ties to vicious train robber Big Nose George Parrott. And you won’t believe the mementos they kept. 

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January 2, 2024 8 mins

We’ll do anything to look fabulous these days, but we have nothing on our ancestors. They used face creams made from animal and human pee. They glued animal pelts on unusual body parts. And they literally poisoned themselves in their quest for perfect skin and hair. 

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We all have our Christmas traditions, but how did Santa Claus, Christmas trees, and George Washington’s recipe for heavily spiked eggnog rule the season?

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Beauty intrigues everyone, but a desire for control, massive ego, and hatred drive some to steal beauty belonging to others. That was Hitler’s motivation as he rampaged through Europe attempting to steal art, architecture, and even a spectacular race car.

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December 15, 2023 7 mins

We take our beds for granted. But how and where we slept, as well as who we were with and what we did while in bed, has changed dramatically over the centuries.

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December 12, 2023 6 mins

Criminal forensics has seen some pretty amazing advances over the past decade. But less than a century ago, investigators were attempting to nab killers through "optography," a process that involved dissecting a murder victim's eyes to harvest an actual image of the last thing the victim saw.

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Have we really only known about dinosaurs for less than 200 years? They roamed the earth for almost 200 million years and were wiped out in a matter of months. Where did they go and how did we find out about them?

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