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 via the International Telephone and Telegraph (ITT), which had recently installed a new telephone exchange. For that occasion, the Catholic church in the United States presented a golden telephone to Pope Pius XI. The golden phone was utilized until the end of Pope John XXIII's pontificate in 1963. Since then, 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 instrument can be viewed at the Museum of the Revolution (formerly Batista's presidential palace) in Havana.
In popular culture
A golden telephone appeared in The Godfather Part II as the film depicts Cuban dictator Batista receiving it as a gift from the telephone company United Telephone and Telegraph (presumably intended to represent International Telephone and Telegraph).
In Oliver Stone's The Doors, Jim Morrison meets Andy Warhol at a party. The camera focuses on a golden telephone, which Warhol offers 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." Morrison accepts the telephone and later gives it to a homeless person.
- "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