Back to the Future – Historic Films Capture Century 21 Exposition

Wed hours: 7:30 am - 5:00 pm

2012 marks the 50 year anniversary of the Century 21 Exposition (Seattle World’s Fair) of 1962. Held on the site of the present-day Seattle Center, the Fair’s theme and exhibitions emphasized the role of science and technology in paving the way to an improved future way of life. Among the notable attractions were the newly-constructed Space Needle and the Alweg monorail.  

Although the Space Needle frequently dominates memories of the Fair, visitors were presented with many and varied spectacles, including exhibitions of science, commerce, industry and art. Among the less orthodox and more adult attractions was Gracie Hansen’s “Paradise International Club” featuring Las Vegas style revue shows.  In an August 1962 interview with KVOS-TV (see footage below), Hansen described her “pet theory that science will never replace sex or cotton candy,” and subsequent journey to the stage at the Century 21 Exposition.

Clips from this KVOS interview (archived at WWU’s Center for Pacific Northwest Studies) will appear in a new KCTS 9 documentary about the history and impact of the Exposition, entitled “When Seattle Invented The Future” (air-date March 24). Footage from the same “Girls, Glitter and Gracie” interview is also featured in an online trailer for Don Horn/Triangle Production’s musical “Gracie,” opening in Portland, Oregon in the Spring.

For more information about World’s Fair related materials available through Western Libraries and its Heritage Resources programs, please contact us and/or visit this online research guide at: http://libguides.wwu.edu/worldsfairs. A selection of KVOS Channel 12 Films (including “Girls, Glitter and Gracie” and an earlier Jack Webster Report about the 1962 Exposition) can be accessed online as part of Western Libraries’ Digital Collections.

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