Roy Wilkins earned his professional chops as a Twin Cities journalist. But it was as an activist and director of the NAACP, says producer Britt Aamodt, that Wilkins helped change history with the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Gary Paulsen was working for an aeronautics firm when it suddenly dawned on him: he was meant to be a writer. Britt Aamodt finds the connections between Paulsen’s life in the Minnesota wilds and his books Hatchet and Winterdance: The Fine Madness of Running the Iditarod.
Ancel and Margaret Keys, researchers at the University of Minnesota, wondered why Twin Cities businessmen were dying of heart disease, while, an ocean away, the townsfolk of Naples, Italy, rarely did. Britt Aamodt discovers how the couple’s quest for a healthy diet (and good eats) led to their best-selling 1959 cookbook Eat Well and Stay Well.
Franz Halberg, a scientist and physician at the University of Minnesota, was fascinated by the human body’s daily rhythms. Not only did people wake and sleep in concert with the sun, but internal processes, like heart rate and blood pressure, also seemed to vary in a regular pattern. Britt Aamodt investigates the man who coined the term Circadian Rhythm.
In 1995, hundreds of Minnesotans lined up at the Minneapolis Dayton’s with cookbooks under their arms. There were here to see cookbook author and television personality Julia Child. Britt Aamodt has the story of that rare personal appearance and the Minneapolis food writer, Lee Svitak Dean, who got to share an afternoon glass of wine with the author of Mastering the Art of French Cooking.
By 1913, Willa Cather had written two novels but had yet to break out. In the meantime, she wrote articles for McClure’s Magazine. Britt Aamodt has the story of Olive Fremstad, the opera diva from Minnesota, who, some say, inspired Cather’s third novel The Song of the Lark.
In 1937, if you visited a friend or family member at the University of Minnesota Hospital, you might have been tapped on the shoulder and asked, “Would you like to take a test?” Britt Aamodt has the tale of the 724 random hospital visitors who became the baseline “normal” group for a new personality test, the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory.
Dr. Janis Amutuzio started collecting stories about the possibility of life after death, though she didn’t know it yet, as a first-year medical intern in Minneapolis. Later, she would spend decades as a coroner—and collect more stories from families of the bereaved. Britt Aamodt tracks the genesis of Dr. Amatuzio’s 2004 book Forever Ours: Real Stories of Immortality and Living from a Forensic Pathologist.
In 1954, Hugh Hall from Minnesota traveled west, to the University of Colorado – Boulder, for school. There he met Bob, a blond Californian who shucked the conservative dress of his peers in favor of Hawaiian shirts and flip-flops. Britt Aamodt looks the trajectory of the two friends: one who became a broadcaster and the other among the biggest Hollywood stars of the 1970s.