Have you enjoyed embracing men?

In 1961, four years after losing his job as a U. S. Army astronomer on account of his homosexuality, 36-year-old Frank Kameny saw his latest appeal against the dismissal rejected by the Supreme Court. However, the decision only strengthened his commitment to the wider cause: Kameny went on to become a major figure in the

Please advise

I think it’s safe to assume that the advice reluctantly given in response to this wonderful memo, sent by record producer Teo Macero to executives at Columbia Records, was essentially, “Let Miles Davis call his next album whatever he wants.” And rightly so. As we now know, the title stayed, and Bitches Brew was released to the public four months later. It is now

If ever an actor can do it – Gene can

In October of 1970, with production underway on the set of Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, the film’s director, Mel Stuart, sent a progress report to producer David Wolper in the form of the following fascinating memo. Delays in the Chocolate Room were obviously frustrating the filmmaker, however it seems the acting talent on display — in particular

Airman Thompson

In 1956, not long after enlisting with the United States Air Force, 19-year-old Hunter S. Thompson landed a job as Sports Editor for The Command Courier, Eglin Air Force Base‘s newspaper, and immediately began to ruffle feathers. The memo below was sent the next year, at which point his exaggerated reporting and rebellious attitude were causing

Apple must make Macintosh a standard

In June of 1985, 30-year-old Microsoft CEO Bill Gates sent the following remarkable memo to both the then-CEO of Apple, John Sculley, and then-head of Macintosh development, Jean Louis Gassée, and urged them to spread their wings by licensing their hardware and operating system to other companies. Apple ignored his advice. Five months after he sent the

Scratching the Back of the Hand that Feeds You

In December of 1958, advertising executive Leo Burnett — a hugely influential force in the industry who had a hand in creating, amongst many other things, the Jolly Green Giant, Tony the Tiger, and Marlboro Man — sent the following memo to all staff within his agency, and reminded them of their unwritten duty to at least try

Space: The Final Frontier

On August 1st of 1966, just weeks before NBC’s season premiere of the original Star Trek series, two of the programme’s producers — Bob Justman and John Black — contacted Gene Roddenberry and asked him to quickly write the show’s now-famous opening monologue (see clip above), to be recorded by William Shatner. For the next

Some Thoughts on Our Business

20 years ago, in January of 1991, a very critical 28-page internal memo — written by the then-head of Disney’s film studios, Jeffrey Katzenberg, and distributed to his fellow executives in an effort to refocus their approach — was leaked to the press, and instantly became talk of the industry. The recent release of the big-budget Dick

SEVEN LITTLE MEN HELP A GIRL

When, in early-1986, Disney executives decided to change the title of their upcoming animated feature from ‘Basil of Baker Street’ to the less ambiguous ‘The Great Mouse Detective‘, its production team were less than pleased. One animator in particular, Ed Gombert, harnessed his displeasure to comical effect by creating, and circulating, the following: a fake memo

POSSIBLE ACTIONS TO PROVOKE, HARRASS, OR DISRUPT CUBA

On February 2nd of 1962, Brig. Gen. William Craig sent the following memo to Brig. Gen. Edward Lansdale, commander of the Kennedy administration’s Operation Mongoose — a secret project kick-started by the Joint Chiefs of Staff in order to “help Cuba overthrow the Communist regime.” This particular memo, entitled “POSSIBLE ACTIONS TO PROVOKE, HARRASS, OR DISRUPT CUBA,”

We were not found wanting

On November 27th of 1963, Charles Jack Price, then-Administrator of Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas, Texas, proudly sent the following memo to all staff and made clear his appreciation for their professional conduct over the past week—a period during which, as the world’s population looked on in horror, the hospital had seen the deaths of

The Internet Tidal Wave

May 26th, 1995: Bill Gates sends a memo, entitled “The Internet Tidal Wave,” to all executive staff within Microsoft. In it, he makes clear his intention to focus the company’s efforts online with immediate effect and “assign the Internet the highest level of importance,” going on to call it, “the most important single development to come

Subject: Toilet Paper

On June 11th of 1942 (not 1943, as the memo’s opening typo states), the Commanding Officer of USS Skipjack, Lt. Commander James Wiggins Coe, sent the following sarcastic memo to the Navy’s supply department at Mare Island. At this point it had been almost a year since crew aboard the submarine had placed a simple

There is no way to replace Walt Disney

On December 15th of 1966, less than two months after the discovery of a malignant tumour in his left lung, Walt Disney passed away. Hours later, his brother Roy sent the following memo to all employees of the company. In the following days, Roy Disney announced the postponement of his retirement; he then spent the next

SPECIAL INSTRUCTIONS TO PLAYERS

[Warning: Extremely Colourful Language Ahead] This incredible, genuine memo, issued to all Major League Baseball teams in 1898 as part of a documented campaign spearheaded by John Brush to rid the sport of filthy language, was discovered in 2007 amongst the belongings of the late baseball historian Al Kermish, also a respected collector of memorabilia. Essentially

Gee whiz, that master alarm certainly startled me

Whilst working as “Chief of Apollo Data Priority Coordination” during the Apollo space program — or, as Gene Kranz fondly labelled him, “pretty much the architect for all of the techniques that we used to go down to the surface of the Moon” — NASA engineer Bill Tindall was renowned within the agency for the informal tone of the incredibly important

It is a good thing to be laughed at

Although tame by today’s standards, when it was first aired by the BBC in 1962, the late-night satirical TV show That Was The Week That Was broke new ground as its incredibly talented cast and crew mocked the political establishment in a manner previously unseen on television, live to millions of viewers. Unsurprisingly, the reaction from

On bureaucratese and gobbledygook

As a result of his influential stint as chairman of the now-defunct Civil Aeronautics Board in the 1970s, economist Alfred Kahn rightly became known as the “Father of Deregulation.” However, he also made a lasting impression on many due to the wider publication — initially in the Washington Star, and then the Post — of the following internal

As soon as I stop speaking the pearls disappear

It was in 1963 that Diana Vreeland became the highly influential editor-in-chief of Vogue, having previously worked at Harper’s Bazaar for 25 years first as a columnist and then fashion editor. Add to these achievements her “discovery” of both Lauren Bacall and Edie Sedgwick, plus her role as style-advisor to Jaqueline Kennedy whilst First Lady, and

IN EVENT OF MOON DISASTER

On July 18 of 1969, as the world waited anxiously for Apollo 11 to land safely on the surface of the Moon, speechwriter William Safire imagined the worst case scenario as he expertly wrote the following sombre memo to President Nixon‘s Chief of Staff, H. R. Haldeman. Its contents: a contingency plan, in the form of a speech

Is there a space program which we could win?

On April 20th of 1961, a despairing John F. Kennedy sent the following memo to his Vice President and Chairman of the Space Council, Lyndon B. Johnson. Just 8 days previous, on the 12th, the Soviets had strengthened their lead in the Space Race by successfully sending cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin into orbit; in addition, a

STAR TREK/Casting

It could have been so different. From the archives of Paramount we have a memo—written in April of 1987 to the studio’s Head of Network TV—detailing the acting talent then being considered for various roles in Star Trek: The Next Generation, a programme that would begin to grace the small screen just five months later. A

The Tiger Oil Memos

From the offices of the now-defunct but at one time Houston-based Tiger Oil Company come a batch of curiously entertaining memos, all sent by the firm’s irascible, tactless, and undeniably amusing CEO, Edward “Tiger Mike” Davis, to his staff. Tiger Mike’s management style was no secret within the industry; however, in the early-2000s, 25 years

I’m afraid I thought this one as dire as its title

In May of 1974, after reading through a pilot script written by John Cleese and his then-wife, Connie Booth, a clearly unimpressed ‘comedy script editor’ by the name of Ian Main sent the following memo to BBC Television‘s Head of Comedy and Light Entertainment. Luckily for the general population, and thanks in no small part

To All Potty-Mouthed Inbetweeners

At the risk of featuring too much Disney-related correspondence within such a short space of time, here we have an intriguing inter-office memo passed on to all members of the studio’s Inbetween Department in 1939 due to an influx of ‘gross language’ amongst certain artists. It seems the management were concerned about the impact of

How to Train an Animator, by Walt Disney

It’s difficult to overstate the importance of the following eight-page memo. Written by Walt Disney in December of 1935 to Don Graham — a highly respected art teacher from Chounaird Art Institute tasked with helming art classes for Disney animators — this missive signalled the birth of a structured training program that would subsequently enable

What does all this stuff about flying saucers amount to?

It wasn’t until 1947, following an apparent mid-flight sighting by respected pilot Kenneth Arnold, that the American public were introduced to the term ‘Flying Saucer‘. Other sightings were reported almost instantly, and within weeks the whole world was awash with stories of contact from other planets. Five years later, following another intense bout of activity

Life unworthy of life

July 1933: Adolf Hitler passes the Law for the Prevention of Hereditarily Diseased Offspring, in turn enforcing the compulsory sterilisation of any citizen with a “genetic defect.” Defects include schizophrenia, deafness and even chronic alcoholism. In the coming years, approximately 400,000 sterilisations will be carried out. May 1939: Hitler — as per a request from

The result would be a catastrophe

Just 73 seconds after launch on January 28th, 1986, the Challenger space shuttle broke apart over the coast of Florida and ended the lives of all seven crew members. A subsequent investigation determined that an O-ring failure on one of the shuttle’s solid rocket boosters, coupled with extremely cold weather around the time of launch,

P.S. This is my favorite memo ever

Ever since it first aired on television in 1997, Matt Stone and Trey Parker’s hugely popular animated comedy, South Park, has courted controversy due to its crude jokes, deliberate lack of tact, and the creators’ steadfast refusal to self-censor or bow to external pressures. However, two years after the show debuted, a feature length film

TO ALL LOVERS OF NIGHT SHIFTS!

‘The enclosed file is a memo from film composer Max Steiner to his fellow workers and superiors at Radio-Keith-Orpheum (RKO). Max Steiner was famed for his ability to create more than 40 cinematic scores a year and was one of the most wanted composers in Hollywood during the Golden Age. His work includes films such