Life 100 years ago: 1922 inventions, births, milestones, entertainment, books, disasters, more

Barbara Merkley

CLEVELAND, Ohio – The year 1922 saw an Ohio girl winning Miss America, light-hearted and serious inventions, a deadly snowstorm and other milestones. This is the ninth year we have compiled our 100-year lookback.

2022 centenarian

The venerable television writer-producer-creator Norman Lear turns 100 on July 27. The beloved Betty White almost made it. The actress, who died Dec. 31, would have turned 100 on Jan. 17, 2022.

Not with us, but born in 1922 …

• 1980 Republican presidential candidate John B. Anderson

• Film-music composer Elmer Bernstein

• Fashion critic Mr. Blackwell

• UN Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali

Helen Gurley Brown, publisher and editor of Cosmopolitan

• Fashion designer Pierre Cardin

Our 100-year-lookback - 1922.

Actress and singer Doris Day performs in “Love Me or Leave Me” in 1955. (AP Photo)AP

• Cincinnati-born entertainer Doris Day

Eileen Ford, Ford Modeling Agency co-founder and executive

Redd Foxx, born John Sanford (Now you know where “Sanford and Son” got its name.)

• Actress Ava Gardner (above photo, bottom right)

Our 100-year-lookback - 1922.

Judy Garland, 1967.AP

• Actress-singer Judy Garland

• Jazz trumpeter Al Hirt

• Cartoonist Bil Keane (“The Family Circus”)

• Actor Jack Klugman (“The Odd Couple,” “Quincy”)

• Comic-book artist Stan Lee

• The comedy duo Dick Martin and Dan Rowan (“Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-in”)

• Actor Darren McGavin (The Old Man in “A Christmas Story”)

• Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin

• Writer-comedian Carl Reiner

• “Peanuts” creator Charles Schulz

Harold Washington, first African-American mayor of Chicago

Our 100-year-lookback - 1922.

Alexander Graham Bell, 1912. (AP Photo)AP

… died in 1922

• Scottish-born inventor Alexander Graham Bell (diabetes)

• Investigative reporter Nellie Bly (pneumonia)

• Irish revolutionary-politician Michael Collins (assassination)

• Explorer Sir Ernest Shackelton (heart attack)

Our 100-year-lookback - 1922.

Mary Katherine Campbell, 15, poses in the regal robe and crown after becoming Miss America 1922.ASSOCIATED PRESS

Life in the United States

Mary Katherine Campbell of Columbus wins the second Miss America competition. Campbell, who attended Ohio State and Ohio Wesleyan universities, also won the contest in 1923 and almost won in 1924. A rule change eventually was enacted, and she remains the only woman to win more than once.

A first-class stamp is 2 stamps. To compare: Today, it’s 58 cents.

Gas costs 11 cents per gallon. To compare: On Jan. 3, the average price for regular gasoline was $2.90 a gallon.

A hundred bucks in 1922 translates to $1,654.45 today.

Life expectancy: Men, 58 years; women, 61.

Most popular boys names: John and Robert. Most popular girls name: Mary.

On April 29, protestors arrive in Washington, D.C. and begin picketing in front of the White House. The women and children – who became known as the “Children’s Crusade for Amnesty” – urged President Warren G. Harding to release their husbands and fathers who were imprisoned for opposing World War I.

Rebecca Felton, 87, becomes the first woman to serve – albeit briefly – in the U.S. Senate. In a political and symbolic maneuver, she was sworn in on Nov. 21 and served for 24 hours until an elected successor took office.

On the U.S. Supreme Court: After a decade on the High Court, Mahlon Pitney suffers a stroke. Pitney is the late actor Christopher Reeve’s maternal great-grandfather. The same year, George Sutherland begins serving on the court. He would remain for 15 years. And William R. Day, who was born in Ravenna and buried in Canton, served from 1903 to 1922. Day was a passionate baseball fan.

The Lincoln Memorial is dedicated on May 30 in Washington, D.C.

Timpanogos Cave in Utah is declared a national monument on Oct. 14.

Our 100-year-lookback - 1922.

“Aqua Maids” Toni Gaines and Adrienne Pope cool off at the rate of 35 mph on water skis at Cypress Gardens, near Winter Haven, Fla., in 1952. They have Ralph Samuelson to thank. (AP Photo)ASSOCIATED PRESS

Inventions / famous firsts

On June 28, Ralph Samuelson becomes the first person to ski on water. As in the case of the Wright brothers’ inaugural flight, he covered only a brief distance at Lake Pepin at Lake City, Minnesota. He reportedly used a pair of boards and a clothesline as a tow rope.

Ben P. Ellerbeck creates the first manual practical retractable hardtop system – a convertible.

Lillian Gatlin become the first woman to fly across the United States, going from San Francisco to New York on a mail route.

Stephen J. Poplawski creates an electric blender intended for making malts and milk shakes.

Insulin is first used in a person to treat diabetes.

Raymond DeWalt invents the radial arm saw, an efficient power tool used for crosscuts of long boards, and a standard tool that remains in use today.

On Jan. 24, Christian Kent Nelson receives a patent for the Eskimo Pie.

Chemist CP Callister creates Vegemite in Melbourne, Australia. The spread is made from leftover brewer’s yeast.

DeWitt Wallace and Lila Bell Wallace first publish Reader’s Digest.

Our 100-year-lookback - 1922.

Archaeologist Howard Carter uncovered King Tutankhamen’s tomb.ASSOCIATED PRESS

British archaeologist Howard Carter uncovers the intact tomb of King Tutankhamen.

In March, WLW begins broadcasting in Cincinnati. On May 11, KGU – Hawaii’s first radio station – goes on the air. And later in the year across the pond, the BBC – British Broadcast Co. – is founded and begins broadcasting.

The famed Hollywood Bowl opens July 11.

President Warren G. Harding has a radio installed at the White House on Feb. 8, 1922. Harding was born in Corsica (now Blooming Grove), Ohio, just west of Mansfield.

“Vitamin D” is coined.

Herbert McLean Evans and Katharine Scott Bishop discover Vitamin E.

Pope Pius XI (Ambrogio Damiano Achille Ratti) becomes pope. He would be the presiding pope when Vatican City was formally declared a sovereign state in 1929.

On Dec. 30, a new country is announced when – according to Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty – “… representatives of the Soviet governments of Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, and the Transcaucasian Republic took to the stage of Moscow’s Bolshoi Theater to proclaim the formation of a new country that within less than two generations would become a global superpower — the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.”

Stouffer Corp. is founded in Cleveland.

Alaska Davidson – born in Warren, Ohio – becomes the first female FBI agent.

Our 100-year-lookback - 1922.

James Joyce, 1931 (AP Photo)ASSOCIATED PRESS


The movie “The Power of Love” is released. It is believed to be the first 3D film ever.

Classics published this year: James Joyce’s “Ulysses,” T.S. Eliot’s “The Waste Land,” Herman Hesse’s “Siddhartha” and Margery Williams’ “The Velveteen Rabbit.”

The inaugural John Newbery Medal for children’s literature is awarded to Hendrik Willem van Loon’s “The Story of Mankind.”

Robert Flaherty’s influential “Nanook of the North” is released. The filmmaker is credited with being the first person “to successfully combine documentary footage with the art of storytelling in cinema,” the Canadian Encyclopedia says.

“The Toll of the Sea” is released. The movie is the first color feature made in Hollywood as well as the first Technicolor color feature that did not require a special projector.

(As an aside, the movie “1922″ came out in 2017. It’s based on a novella by Stephen King.)

Our 100-year-lookback - 1922.

Booth Tarkington, 1935ASSOCIATED PRESS


Oberlin-born Mary Morris Burnett Talbert, an educator and civil-rights activist, wins the NAACP’s Spingarn Medal. The sole African American in her graduating class at Oberlin, she is the first woman to win the honor.

Francis Williams Aston wins the Nobel Prize for chemistry. The English scientist once worked as a chemist in a brewery.

Fridtjof Nansen wins the Nobel Peace Prize. The Nobel Prize site describes him as “a scientist, polar hero, political activist and diplomat.”

More Nobel Prizes: Physicist Niels Bohr wins in physics for his work on the structure of atoms, and Jacinto Benavente of Spain wins for literature.

Pulitzer Prizes: The New York World wins for public service for stories exposing the Ku Klux Klan’s operations. Booth Tarkington’s novel “Alice Adams” garners the prize for fiction. And Eugene O’Neill wins in drama for “Anna Christie.”


In Washington, D.C., a savage snowstorm in January causes the collapse of the Knickerbocker Theatre roof, killing 98 people. Over several days, 28 inches of snow slammed the city.

On April 7, the first midair collision of commercial airliners occurs about 70 miles north of Paris. The collision involves a deHaviland DH-18A flying mail with two people aboard and a Farman F-60 – a Goliath – carrying a pilot and four passengers. There were no survivors.

The Swatow Typhoon kills thousands in China in August.

The Niitaka, a Japanese cruiser, sinks in a storm on the Russian coast, killing 300.

In Herrin, Illinois, a two-day strike at the Southern Illinois Coal Co. ends bloody, and 21 people – most of them strike-breakers – are killed in what will be known as the Herrin Massacre.

Our 100-year-lookback - 1922.

The administration building on the campus of Notre Dame College in South Euclid (Photo by Jeff Piorkowski)ASSOCIATED PRESS

Colleges founded in 1922

• Midwestern State University – Wichita Falls, Texas

• Morehead State University – Morehead, Kentucky

• Murray State University – Murray, Kentucky

• Notre Dame College – South Euclid

• Walsh College of Accountancy and Business Administration – Troy, Michigan

Our 100-year-lookback - 1922.

President Rutherford B. Hayes. (AP Photo)AP

Finally, a quick look at 200 years ago

Born this year:

• Architect Frederick Law Olmsted, who is responsible for several projects in Ohio.

• Presidents Ulysses S. Grant and Rutherford B. Hayes (both are born in Ohio).

• Microbiologist Louis Pasteur

British poet Percy Bysshe Shelley dies at sea; he was 29. (His second wife, Mary Shelley, wrote “Frankenstein” several years earlier.)

Boston is incorporated as a city.

This year, English mathematician-inventor Charles Babbage “is credited with having conceived the first automatic digital computer.”

Sources,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, Smithsonian Institution online virtual archives,,,,,,,,, The 2021 World Almanac,


Sports 100 years ago: 1922 milestones, a weird trade, new rule and more

Previous 100-year lookbacks

1921 and 1921 sports

1920 and 1920 sports

1919 and 1919 sports

1918 and 1918 sports

1917 and 1917 sports

1916 and 1916 sports



I am on’s life and culture team and cover food, beer, wine and sports-related topics. If you want to see my stories, here’s a directory on Bill Wills of WTAM-1100 and I talk food and drink usually at 8:20 a.m. Thursday morning. Twitter: @mbona30.

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