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The golden telephone is an icon representing power or communication with a higher power. Golden telephone sets were presented to Pope Pius XI in 1930 and to the Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista in 1957.
In 1930 the newly created Vatican City was connected to the international telephone network with International Telephone and Telegraph (ITT) then having installed a new telephone exchange. For that occasion the Catholic church in the United States presented a golden telephone to Pope Pius XI, which was used until the end of Pope John XXIII's pontificate in 1963. Since 1963, the pope has used a standard phone in 'papal' white.
During an award ceremony with US Ambassador Gardner, a ceremonial golden telephone was presented to the Cuban dictator, Fulgencio Batista, in 1957. The actual telephone can be viewed at the Museum of the Revolution (formerly Batista's presidential palace) in Havana.
In popular culture
The golden telephone appeared in The Godfather Part II. A solid gold telephone is presented to Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista as a gift from the telephone company, United Telephone and Telegraph (UTT), presumably intended to represent International Telephone and Telegraph (ITT). This movie sequel was based on historical events (see above). Coppola used the fictional company UTT, to avoid mentioning any real American corporations in the activities of Cuba in late 1958.
In Oliver Stone's "The Doors," Jim Morrison meets Andy Warhol at a party. The camera focuses on a golden telephone, which Warhol picks up and holds out to Morrison saying: "Somebody gave me this telephone... I think it was Edie... yeah, it was Edie... and she said I could talk to God with it, but uh... I don't have anything to say... so here... (giving Jim the phone) this is for you... now you can talk to God." Jim Morrison accepts the telephone and later gives it to a homeless person thereby highlighting upon the worthlessness of fetishizing the mere nuances of sobriety in community settings like in that episode of "the Simpson's" when Homer gives the bell boy his Grammy, and upon witnessing the golden shape the bellboy's initial reaction is abundant with joy but on further scrutiny, realizing the figure was indeed a "Grammy Award" he discarded it immediately, thus compounding the set notions of feasible value that is impressed heavily along social narratives, or the "idolatry" of specific purposes in culminations.
- "Golden Telephone for Pope Pius". Spokane Daily Chronicle. July 29, 1930. p. 6. Retrieved December 2, 2012.
- Glatz, Carol (July 24, 2006). "On call 24/7: Vatican phone system directs thousands of call each day". Catholic News Service. Retrieved December 2, 2012.
- The Man Who Invented Fidel: Castro, Cuba, and Herbert L. Matthews of the New York Times