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George Formby Sr in 1919

George Formby Sr (1875–1921) was one of the greatest music hall performers of the early 20th century. His comedy and songs played upon Lancashire stereotypes, and he was popular around Britain. His nickname, "The Wigan Nightingale", was coined because of the way he would use his bronchial cough as a comedic device. Born into poverty, he sang on street corners before starting a professional career in the 1890s, when he built up a following in Lancashire. He also developed a series of stage characters, including that of "John Willie", an accident-prone northerner. Formby had a successful recording career and made the transition from music hall to revue in 1916. He suffered from tuberculosis, and a stage accident in 1916 weakened him further; after he contracted influenza in the 1918 pandemic, he died in 1921 at the age of 45. Formby's act, and one of his costumes, inspired Charlie Chaplin to create the Tramp, his signature film character. Formby's son used parts of his father's act when starting his stage career and, once established, also changed his name to George Formby; he went on to become the top British male star in box office takings between 1937 and 1943. (Full article...)

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The M-209 is a portable, mechanical cipher machine used primarily by the US military in World War II, though it remained in active use through the Korean War. In this photograph, an intermediate gear unit (center) meshes with gears adjoining each key wheel. Visible to the left of the image is the typewheel that prints out messages and ciphertext onto paper tape.

Photograph: Rama

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