Rear View Mirror – My Week In Review

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First you take a drink, then the drink takes a drink, then the drink takes you. ― F. Scott Fitzgerald

It has been a long time since I have had any alcohol, maybe once in the last 10 or so months. That one time was one drink. There is no reason or incident that prompted my teetotalism. I just didn’t and don’t want to drink alcohol.  I am in a constant state of self-diagnosis, asking myself if the choices I make are active or simply route, making certain I am choosing them to keep me headed in the right direction.  It seems that alcohol, for me, just slows the process.

If I had to have a reason or reasons, they would be that I don’t have the time for a hangover and I have seen others spend so much time trying to escape something only to spend even more time trying to recover from that failed escape.

That’s it. I don’t want to drink, so I don’t.

This week on Waldina, I celebrated the birthdays of Joan Miro, Edie Sedgwick, Jayne Mansfield, Dick Sargent, William Holden, Elizabeth Montgomery, Chalres Willson Peale, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Hart Benton, Gloria Jean, Samuel Beckett, Beverly Cleary, Jean-Paul Belmondo, Mary Pickford, James Garner, confessed my obsession with the 80s film My Science Project, completed the Proust Questionnaire, I posted my personal connection to the Holstee Manifesto, and added Born Yesterday to the Required Viewing film list.

The Stats:

Visits This Week: 1,890
Total Visits: 182,111
Total Subscribers: 397
Total Posts: 1,538
Most Popular Post Last Week: Happy 143rd Birthday Piet Mondrian

This week on Wasp & Pear over on Tumblr, I posted a lot of photographs of things that inspire me. You should just take a look…

The Stats:

Posts This Week: 71
Total Posts: 4,716
Total Subscribers: 312

Over on @TheRealSPA part of Twitter, I noticed that my fitbit step-tracking bracelet tweets out my daily steps.

The Stats:

Total Tweets: 537 (tweets over 31 days old are automatically deleted to preserve freshness)
Total Followers: 656
Total Following: 691

This week on @TheRealSPA Instagram, I posted photos of most of the people whose birthdays I celebrated on Waldina and a photo of a dog made out of recycled newspapers from work.

The Stats:

Total Posts: 434
Total Followers: 179
Total Following: 247

come find me, i’m @

I chronicle what inspires me at Waldina.com
I faceplace at facebook.com/parkeranderson
I store my selfies at instagram.com/therealspa#
I tumblr at waspandpear.tumblr.com/
I tweet at twitter.com/TheRealSPA

Happy 122nd Birthday Joan Miro

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Today is the 122nd birthday of the artist Joan Miro.  I was first introduced to his work in the college library.  I did take Art History classes, so it could have actually been course-related, instead of my usual library extra curricular “studying.”  I was drawn to his vibrant colors and primitive and almost abstract characters.  His work has influenced generations of artist and empowered them to depict the world a bit differently.  The world is a better off place because he was in it and still feels the loss that he has left.miro 2

NAME: Joan Miró
OCCUPATION: Painter, Sculptor
BIRTH DATE: April 20, 1893
DEATH DATE: December 25, 1983
PLACE OF BIRTH: Barcelona, Spain
PLACE OF DEATH: Palma, Spain

Best Known For:  Catalan painter Joan Miró combined abstract art with Surrealist fantasy to create his lithographs, murals, tapestries, and sculptures for public spaces.

Born to the families of a goldsmith and a cabinet-maker, he grew up in the Barri Gòtic neighborhood of Barcelona.[2] His father was Miquel Miró Adzerias and his mother was Dolores Ferrà. He began drawing classes at the age of seven at a private school at Carrer del Regomir 13, a medieval mansion. In 1907 he enrolled at the fine art academy at La Llotja, to the dismay of his father. He studied at the Cercle Artístic de Sant Lluc and he had his first solo show in 1918 at the Dalmau Gallery, where his work was ridiculed and defaced. Inspired by Cubist and surrealist exhibitions from abroad, Miró was drawn towards the arts community that was gathering in Montparnasse and in 1920 moved to Paris, but continued to spend his summers in Catalonia.

He said, “The painting rises from the brushstrokes as a poem rises from the words. The meaning comes later.”

After overcoming a serious bout of typhoid fever in 1911, Miro decided to devote his life entirely to painting by attending the school of art taught by Francesc Galí. He studied at La Lonja School of Fine Arts in Barcelona, and in 1918 set up his first individual exhibition in the Dalmau Galleries, in the same city. His works before 1920 (the date of his first trip to Paris) reflect the influence of different trends, like the pure and brilliant colors used in Fauvism, shapes taken from cubism, influences from folkloric Catalan art and Roman frescos from the churches.

His trip to Paris introduced him to and developed his trend of surrealist painting. In 1921, he showed his first individual exhibition in Paris, at La Licorne Gallery. In 1928, he exhibited with a group of surrealists in the Pierre Gallery, also in Paris, although Miró was always to maintain his independent qualities with respect to groups and ideologies.

From 1929-1930, Miró began to take interest in the object as such, in the form of collages. This was a practice which was to lead to his making of surrealist sculptures. His tormented monsters appeared during this decade, which gave way to the consolidation of his plastic vocabulary. He also experimented with many other artistic forms, such as engraving, lithography, water colors, pastels, and painting over copper. What is particularly highlighted from this period, are the two ceramic murals which he made for the UNESCO building in Paris (The Wall of the Moon and the Wall of the Sun, 1957-59).
Joan Miro UNESCO Mural- “The Moon and The Sun”

It was at the end of the 60´s when his final period was marked and which lasted until his death. During this time, he concentrated more and more on monumental and public works. He was characterized by the body language and freshness with which he carried out his canvasses, as well as the special attention he paid to material and the stamp he received from informalism. He concentrated his interest on the symbol, not giving too much importance to the representing theme, but to the way the symbol emerged as the piece of work. Miro had a very eccentric style that is the embodiment of his unique approach to his artwork.

In 1976 the Joan Miró Foundation Centre of Contemporary Art Study was officially opened in the city of Barcelona and in 1979, four years before his death, he was named Doctor Honoris Causa by the University of Barcelona.

He said, “For me an object is something living. This cigarette or this box of matches contains a secret life much more intense than that of certain human beings. “

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Happy 72nd Birthday Edie Sedgwick

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Today is the 72nd birthday of Edie sedgwick.  Strange to think.  She will always be young.  I am not exactly sure why It Girls tend to end up cautionary tales of what happens when you fly to close to the sun, but they do. Maybe in order to be an It Girl, it requires quite a bit of excess (money, drugs, alcohol, etc) and it is hard to get away from those things without scars. Whatever the reason, she was irreverent, insolent, and gorgeous. The world was a better place because whe was in it and still feels the loss that she has left.

Born: April 20, 1943 Santa Barbara, California, U.S.
Died: November 16, 1971 (aged 28) Santa Barbara, California, U.S.
Occupation: Artist, socialite, model, actress

Edie Sedgwick was a bright social butterfly whose candle of fame burned brightly at both ends. Born into a wealthy White Anglo-Saxon Protestant family of impressive lineage, Edie became a “celebutante” for her beauty, style, wealth and her associations with figures of the 1960s counterculture.

Edie was born in Santa Barbara into a prominent family plagued by mental illness. Her father, Francis Minturn Sedgwick (1904-1967), was a local rancher who had experienced three nervous breakdowns prior to his 1929 marriage to Alice Delano De Forest, Edie’s mother. Francis also suffered from bipolar disorder, and his doctors told Alice’s father, the Wall Street financier Henry Wheeler De Forest, that the couple should not have any children. They eventually had eight: Edie was the fourth of five daughters and the second-to-last of the Sedgwick children born from 1931 to 1945. Edie later told fellow Warhol superstar Ultra Violet that both her father and a brother had tried to seduce her when she was a child. She once found her father in flagrante delicto with another woman, and after she tried to tell her mother about his offense, her father denounced her as insane and called the doctor. In Edie’s confession to Ultra Violet, she claimed, “They gave me so many tranquillizers I lost all my feelings.”

The Sedgwicks were an old line of WASPs whose lineage included Judge Theodore Sedgwick (1746-1813), who had served as the Chief Justice of the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts and later Speaker of the House of Representatives in the time of George Washington. The Judge’s wife, Pamela Dwight Sedgwick (1753-1807), had lost her sanity during mid-life. The roots of the mental illness that plagued the Sedgwick family likely extend as far back as Pamela Dwight Sedgwick.

Edie was raised on a 3,000-acre ranch in the Santa Ynez Valley, bought with money inherited from Alice’s father. The family fortunes improved even further in the early 1950s, when oil was discovered on the ranch. The Sedgwick children were educated in a private school constructed on the ranch, and given daily vitamin B shots by a local physician.

Despite their prosperous, Edie’s upbringing was plagued with trauma. Her brother Minty was an alcoholic by age fifteen and eventually committed suicide at the Silver Hill Hospital in New Canaan, Connecticut in 1964, the day before his twenty-sixth birthday. Her other brother, Bobby, also was troubled by psychiatric problems and was institutionalized after suffering a nervous breakdown in the early 1950s while attending Harvard. He crashed his motorcycle into a bus on New Year’s Eve 1964 and died two weeks later.

Edie suffered from bulimia in school, which continued into her adult life. Edie was first institutionalized in the fall of 1962 at the Silver Hill mental hospital (where her brother Minty later died). After wasting away to ninety pounds, she was transferred to the far stricter Bloomingdale, New York Hospital’s Westchester County facility. On a furlough from Bloomindale, she became pregnant and had an abortion.

In the early 1960s, Edie lived in Cambridge, Massachusetts, while attending Radcliffe College. Edie studied sculpture and spent her time partying and driving her Mercedes. At her therapist’s office, she met recent Harvard graduate Chuck Wein, who was living a bohemian existence and styled himself as an Edwardian dandy. After she turned 21 in 1964, Eddie left Cambridge for New York, moving into her invalid grandmother’s 14-room Park Ave. apartment and spent her nights at the top clubs and discotheques.

Wein came to New York, as well, and became determined to transform Edie into a social butterfly. In January 1965, she was introduced to Andy Warhol, one of the new gods of Pop Art. Wien began bringing her to his work-living space “The Factory” on a regular basis. Blessed or cursed with the soul of a promoter, Wein was continually plotting a strategy to move Edie up into the New York demimonde and further into society.

During one visit with Wein at The Factory, Warhol inserted her into his film “Vinyl” at the last minute.” It was her second appearance in a Warhol film, having also appeared briefly in “Horse.” Warhol had no illusions about Chuck Wein, but he apparently was attracted by the hustler’s blonde good looks. Andy took both of them to Paris in April 1965 for an opening of a show.

When he returned to New York City, Warhol announced that he was crowning Edie “the queen of The Factory,” and commissioned screenplays for her. Wein became his new screenwriter and assistant director, beginning with “Beauty No. 2,” which starred Edie and premiered at the Cinematheque on July 17, 1965. “Beauty No. 2″ made Edie Sedgwick the leading lady of underground cinema. Her on-screen persona was compared to Marilyn Monroe, and she became famous among the independent film glitterati. Her association with Warhol helped secure both his reputation and hers. With the glamorous Edie in tow, Warhol made the rounds of parties and gallery openings, and the dynamic duo generated reams of copy and free publicity. Originally an outsider, Warhol was eventually wooed by wealthy socialites and became a major part of the art establishment.

Her newfound celebrity would prove to be her undoing after many urged Edie to leave Warhol for the mainstream cinema. One of these people was Bob Dylan’s assistant Bob Neuwirth, who became Edie’s lover, wooing her with the promise of starring in a film with his enigmatic boss. Though Edie reportedly also harbored amorous feelings for Dylan, it is unlikely that her feelings were returned or ever consummated. Edie was under the impression that Albert Grossman, Dylan’s manager was going to offer her a film contract. D.A. Pennebaker filmed her at Dylan’s studio in 1965 while making what became the documentary “Don’t Look Back.”

Edie’s last film with Warhol was “Lupe,” although he may also have filmed her in November 1966 for inclusion in “The Andy Warhol Story,” a lost film for which the footage was either lost or destroyed. In 1966, the still-loyal Warhol approached his musical “discovery” Lou Reed, who was appearing with the Velvet Underground in Warhol-produced Plastic Exploding Inevitable (Warhol was the Velvets manager for a while) with a proposition. According to Reed, “Andy said I should write a song about Edie Sedgwick. I said ‘Like what?’ and he said, ‘Oh, don’t you think she’s a femme fatale, Lou?’ So I wrote ‘Femme Fatale’ and we gave it to Nico.”

On February 13, 1966, Edie appeared in photographs with Warhol and Chuck Wein in The New York Times Magazine. Although she still had a crush on Dylan, she did not find out about his secret marriage to Sara Lownds until Warhol told her about it in February 1966. Edie was devastated. Morrissey believes that Edie realized that “maybe [Dylan] hadn’t been truthful.”

Edie’s and Warhol’s relationship was further strained by her dissatisfaction with her decreasing role in Warhol’s life. Edie and Warhold also argued over money. Edie had always picked up the tab when the Factory regulars hit the town, but she attacked Warhol over his failure to pay her money from the films she had been in. Warhol claimed that the films were unprofitable and told her to be patient. Edie decided to part ways with Warhol. According to Gerard Malanga, a Factory regular, “Edie disappeared and that was the end of it. She never came back.”

In the tapes Edie made for “Ciao! Manhattan,” she admitted that she had become addicted to her affair with Neuwirth. While they were together, she was consumed by lust, but when they were apart, she turned to pills for comfort. Edie is one of the women pictured on the inner sleeve of Dylan’s classic “Blonde on Blonde” album (released May 16, 1966), and she was rumored to be the inspiration of the song “Leopard Skin Pill-Box Hat.” Other songs rumored to be about her were “Stuck Inside of Mobile With the Memphis Blues Again” (the reference “your débutante”) and “Just Like a Woman,” which was featured on the “Ciao! Manhattan” soundtrack. (Dylan biographers typically believe the song was a synthesis of several women.)

She tried modeling again and appeared in the March 15, 1966 edition of “Vogue.” Her modeling career never took off, however, as the fashion industry shunned people with drug problems. She then turned back to acting, auditioning for Norman Mailer’s staging of “The Deer Park,” but Mailer turned her down. Edie “wasn’t very good,” Mailer remembered. “She used so much of herself with every line that we knew she’d be immolated after three performances.”

By the end of 1966, Edie’s star had gone into eclipse and she never recovered. She was badly addicted to drugs and in six months, she spent $80,000. A typical breakfast in this period was a saucer filled with speed. To support her habit, she stole antiques and art from her grandmother’s apartment, and sold them for money. She also turned to dealing but got busted, was briefly incarcerated, and was put on probation for five years. Then, in October 1966, Edie’s apartment on East 63rd St. caught on fire by candles. She suffered burns on her arms, legs and back and was treated at Lenox Hill Hospital.

In 1966, Edie returned home to California, where she was committed to a mental hospital. After she was discharged, she moved back to New York and took a room at the Chelsea Hotel, where her drug addiction worsened. By early 1967, her drugged-fueled behavior was so erratic, Neuwirth broke up with her. Edie subsequently took up with her fellow Warhol superstar Paul America. He and Edie Sedgwick became lovers, united in their common lust for drugs, and they lived together for a brief time at the Chelsea Hotel and indulged heavily in speed. Their relationship was an on-again/off-again affair, as America continually left New York for his brother’s farm in Indiana, and eventually, friction over control issues forced them apart.

America later appeared with Edie in the long-gestated film “Ciao! Manhattan,” his second and last film role. This was supposed to be Edie’s breakout role, but the film’s execution by Warhol acolytes was amateurish. Shooting on “Ciao! Manhattan,” which would prove to be Edie’s final film, commenced on April 15, 1967. The shooting was anarchic, with the filmmakers and the actors addicted to speed, which was injected by a physician with whom the production company had set up a charge account. At one point, America left the set and never returned.

After America’s departure, Edie wound up in Gracie Square Hospital, where she learned of her father’s death, on October 24, 1967.

After her discharge, Edie shacked up in the Warwick Hotel with the screenwriter L.M. Kit Carson, who attracted the fragile Edie with the promise of a screenplay written for her, but ultimately he was unable to deal with the erratic behavior stemming from her drug abuse and left. Edie wound up in Bellevue Hospital, and after being discharged due to the intervention of her personal physician, she overdosed on drugs and was committed to Manhattan State Hospital. By late 1968, Edie was a physical and emotional wreck: by the time she returned to the family ranch for Christmas, she was barely able to walk and talk, the result of poor blood circulation in her brain. She recovered and moved into an apartment near U.C. Santa Barbara in 1969, but by August, she was institutionalized again after a drug bust. She met her future husband, Michael Post, during her stay in the psychiatric ward of Santa Barbara’s Cottage Hospital, though upon her discharge, she became the moll of a motorcycle gang in order to obtain drugs. Known as “Princess” by the bikers, she was very promiscuous, sleeping with anyone who would supply her with heroin. She was institutionalized again in 1970.

Edie was furloughed from the hospital in the summer of 1970 to finish filming “Ciao! Manhattan,” the last parts of which feature her clearly in the throes of drug dependency. Under the supervision of two nurses, she played out her scenes, including a shock treatment scene (electro-convulsive therapy) filmed in a real clinic. Ironically, she was soon back at the clinic for real, suffering from delirium tremens, where she received actual shock treatment therapy. She underwent a minimum of 20 electro-convulsive treatments from January to June 1971.

Edie married Michael Post on July 24, 1971, managing to stay clean until October. However, that fall, she was prescribed a pain pill to treat a physical debility. In addition, her doctor prescribed barbiturates, possibly to help her sleep, and frequently boosted their effects with alcohol. On the night of November 15, 1971, Edie went to fashion show at the Santa Barbara Museum and was filmed for the last time in her life. The television documentary “An American Family” was being filmed at the museum that night, and Edie – attracted by the cameras as a moth is to flame – walked over and began talking to Lance Loud, one of the subjects of the documentary.

After the fashion show, Edie went to a party but was asked to leave after her presence caused another guest to rave at her for being a heroin addict. Edie, who had been drinking, called her husband to come retrieve her from the soirée. Back at their apartment, Edie took her prescribed pain medication and they both went to sleep. That morning, when Post awoke at 7:30 AM, he found Edie dead next to him. Her death was ascribed as “acute barbiturate intoxication” and was ruled an “Accident/Suicide” by the coroner. Edie is buried in the tiny Oak Hill Cemetery in Ballard, California.Bob Dylan’s

“Just Like a Woman” and “Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat” from his 1966 album Blonde on Blonde are purportedly about Sedgwick. His 1965 No. 2 single “Like a Rolling Stone” was also reportedly inspired by her.

In 1989 rock band The Cult released a single Edie (Ciao Baby) to promote their breakthrough album Sonic Temple. It peaked on the US charts at #17.

 

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Happy 82nd Birthday Jayne Mansfield

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NAME: Jayne Mansfield
OCCUPATION: Film Actress, Theater Actress, Television Actress, Pin-up
BIRTH DATE: April 19, 1933
DEATH DATE: June 29, 1967
PLACE OF BIRTH: Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania
PLACE OF DEATH: U.S. Highway 90 near Slidell, Louisiana
ORIGINALLY: Vera Jayne Palmer

BEST KNOWN FOR: Jayne Mansfield was an American actress best known for her bombshell curves and roles in films during the 1950s and ’60s.

Jayne Mansfield was born Vera Jayne Palmer on April 19, 1933, in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania. Mansfield’s father, Herbert Palmer, was an attorney, and her mother, Vera Palmer, was a retired schoolteacher. Mansfield endured a childhood tragedy at the age of 3, when her father passed away from a heart attack at the age of 30. Her father’s death came as a complete shock; he had attended a routine physical the very morning of his death and was proclaimed entirely healthy.

Reflecting back on the tragedy, Mansfield later said, “Something went out of my life… My earliest memories are the best. I always try to remember the good times when Daddy was alive.” Mansfield’s mother returned to teaching to support the family, and in 1939, with her daughter’s approval, she married an engineer named Harry Peers and they moved with him to Dallas, Texas.

In Dallas, Mansfield enjoyed a typical middle class upbringing. She was a caring and naïve child, and accounts of her youth are full of endearing anecdotes illustrating these traits. When Mansfield learned that a classmate of hers did not own a winter coat because her family had fallen upon hard times, she traded the girl her own coat for an old baby bottle. One day, her Sunday school teacher told Mansfield that God was always with her, and that night she fell out of bed several times “making room for God.”

Mansfield was also a natural born performer. She took voice, dance and violin lessons and would frequently stand out in her driveway playing her violin for passersby on the sidewalk. Mansfield’s obsession with Hollywood stars was born at the age of 13, when she and her mother took a vacation to Los Angeles and she got the autographs of radio stars Dennis Day and Harold Peary at a Hollywood restaurant. Upon returning to their table, she declared to her mother, “one day some other young girl is going to make her way across this room and ask for my autograph.”

Jayne Mansfield was 16 years old when she met a boy named Paul Mansfield at a Christmas party and immediately fell in love. They married just months later, in May of 1950, a few weeks before Mansfield graduated from Highland Park High School in Dallas. Later that year, she gave birth to a daughter, Jayne Marie Mansfield.

While her husband served in the Korean War, Mansfield studied drama at Southern Methodist University in Dallas and appeared in local plays, including a production of Death of a Salesman with the Knox Street Players. In 1954, after Paul Mansfield returned from the war, Mansfield convinced him to move with her to Los Angeles so she could pursue her dream of becoming a movie star.

Mansfield’s first years in Hollywood brought mostly disappointment. She had several unsuccessful auditions for Paramount and Warner Bros. and had to take work selling candy at a movie theater. She also sought out modeling work, but at her first professional photo shoot, an advertisement for General Electric, she was cropped out of the picture because she looked “too sexy” for 1954 audiences.

As she struggled to break into show business, her marriage suffered, and in 1955 she and Paul Mansfield split ways (she decided to keep his last name because she thought it sounded “illustrious”). That same year, she landed her first film roles, small parts in a trio of films: Female Jungle, Pete Kelly’s Blues and Illegal.

Mansfield proved to have an uncanny knack for self-marketing, and she took steps to distinguish herself from the many curvy blonde actresses attempting to make it big in Hollywood at the time. She made pink her trademark color — she wore pink, drove a pink car and bought a house decked out in pink that she dubbed “the pink palace.” Mansfield garnered her first nationwide publicity when, attending the premiere of Underwater in Florida, her top mysteriously fell off in sight of numerous journalists.

From then on, as one journalist put it, Mansfield “suffered so many on-stage strap and zipper mishaps that nudity was, for her, a professional hazard.” Shortly after the Underwater incident, she landed a role in the Broadway production and film adaptation of Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter. Those performances finally established her as a star actress, and she went on to feature in such films as Kiss Them For Me (1957), The Sheriff of Fractured Jaw (1958) and It Takes a Thief (1960).

Nevertheless, many more people saw her photograph than her movies — in just nine months, from September 1956 to May 1957, Mansfield appeared in an astonishing 2,500 newspaper photographs.

After seeing her career fizzle out somewhat for the next several years, in 1963 Mansfield again made headlines after becoming the first American actress to appear nude in a major motion picture, Promises! Promises! While the film generated significant buzz, it failed to reignite her film career, and she made only a handful more films, including Panic Button (1964), The Fat Spy (1966) and Single Room Furnished (1967).

In the later years of her career, Mansfield also returned to Broadway with an acclaimed turn in Bus Stop and developed into a successful nightclub performer with an act that combined song, comedy and impromptu banter with the audience.

After her 1955 split from Paul Mansfield, Jayne Mansfield’s personal life followed a turbulent, dramatic and highly publicized course that often overshadowed her acting career. In 1958, she married the winner of the Mr. Universe Competition, Mickey Hargitay, and they had three children.

However, theirs was a tumultuous relationship, and in 1964 Mansfield married actor Matt Cimber in Mexico, even though she had not yet officially divorced Hargitay. Mansfield and Cimber had one child before also parting ways. For the rest of her life, Mansfield was involved in a rocky relationship with Sam Brody, the attorney she hired to assist with her divorce proceedings.

On June 29, 1967, Mansfield and Brody were driving home from a nightclub performance in Mississippi when they whipped around a dark curve and crashed into a slow-moving semi-truck, instantly killing both of them. Jayne Mansfield was only 34 years old and still in the prime of her career at the time of her shocking and tragic death.

With her beautiful blonde locks and Barbie-doll figure, Mansfield was second only to Marilyn Monroe among the blonde sex symbols of the 1950s. She was also an incredibly driven performer whose tireless performing schedule and talent for self-promotion allowed her to stand out among the many beauties who populate Hollywood to become one of the most memorable faces of an era. “I will never be satisfied,” she once said, summing up her relentless approach to her life and career. “Life is one constant search for betterment for me.”

Happy 85th Birthday Dick Sargent

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NAME: Dick Sargent
OCCUPATION: Film Actor, Theater Actor, Television Actor
BIRTH DATE: April 19, 1930
DEATH DATE: July 8, 1994
EDUCATION: Stanford University, San Rafael Military Academy
PLACE OF BIRTH: Carmel, California
PLACE OF DEATH: Los Angeles, California
ORIGINALLY: Richard Stanford Cox

BEST KNOWN FOR: Dick Sargent was an actor of film and television mostly remembered for his portrayal of Darrin Stephens on TV‘s Bewitched.

Actor Dick Sargent was born Richard Stanford Cox on April 19, 1930, in Carmel, California. His mother, Ruth McNaughton, was the daughter of Los Angeles’ Union Stockyard baron John McNaughton. Billing herself as Ruth Powell, she appeared in a handful of silent films, including Rex Ingram’s Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (1921).

His father, Colonel Elmer Cox, served in World War I. A strict man, he later became a business manager to such Hollywood players as Douglas Fairbanks and director Erich von Stroheim.

Sargent attended the San Rafael Military Academy in Menlo Park, California. He later attended Stanford University, where he studied acting and obtained a taste for live theatre. By the time he graduated, he had appeared in 25 campus productions.

After college, Sargent took many odd jobs, including ditch digging, to make ends meet while pursuing an acting career. At one point, he journeyed to the colonial city of San Miguel Allendein Mexicoto enter the import-export business. He acquired a lifetime love of Mexican art and culture.

When he returned to California, Sargent made the transition from live theater to feature films and later television. He finally got his career rolling, debuting in an uncredited role in the movie Prisoner of War (1954) (with Ronald Reagan). His first major role in a motion picture was as P.F. Wilson in 1957’s Bernadine, for which he received a Laurel Award from the nation’s film exhibitors.

Now known as Dick Sargent, the actor was a friendly, dependable and well-admired performer but his work was often deemed ordinary. On occasion he would find more redeeming support work in such hit movie comedies as Operation Petticoat (1959) and That Touch of Mink (1962) (both with Cary Grant).

But more often, he would perform in forgettable projects such as Fluffy (1965) with Tony Randall, Billie (1965) starring Patty Duke, the Don Knotts misfire The Ghost and Mr. Chicken (1966), the Elvis Presley vehicle Live a Little, Love a Little (1968) and The Private Navy of Sgt. O’Farrell (1968) with Bob Hope and Phyllis Diller.

Sargent also built up a reliable resume over the years on TV both in drama and comedy including work on Gunsmoke, Wagon Train, I Dream of Jeannie and Adam-12. Regular co-starring roles in the series One Happy Family (1961) and Broadside (1964) also kept him busy.

Sargent and Tammy Grimes were said to have successfully auditioned for the original roles of Darrin and Samantha Stephens during the initial casting of the pilot episode of Bewitched. Sargent became unavailable because he was under contract to Universal for Broadside. Grimes was also under contract and unable to play the part of Samantha. Sargent went on to play Tammy Grimes’s brother on her short-lived series The Tammy Grimes Show in 1966.

By the time health problems forced Dick York (the original Darrin Stephens) to leave the series in 1969, Sargent was no longer committed to Universal and he was finally able to take the part.

Sargent came in without a hitch and the switching of Darrins was done without any explanation at all. His three seasons on the popular show made him a household face, if not a household name.

After Bewitched ended its run in 1972, Dick continued to appear on TV with guest parts on Taxi, Alice, Fantasy Island and Three’s Company. He also returned to feature films, including George C. Scott’s Hardcore (1979) In between, he did voice work for commercials and performed live theater when he had the chance.

In 1989, Sargent was diagnosed with prostate cancer. Two years later, he revealed to the world he was homosexual after tabloid papers began to refer to his serious illness as AIDS-related.

Sargent’s ABC press biography and the few interviews he had done during his years as Darrin Stephens had manufactured an ex-wife to avoid speculation about his sexuality. Sargent was never married, but had a long-time companion whom he was with for 20 years before the man’s death from a cerebral hemorrhage in 1979. Sargent’s companion from 1986-’94 was writer/producer Albert Williams.

Sargent personally felt great relief in finally being open about his lifestyle, and professionally felt that he was doing a great service to other homosexuals who could gain the courage to come out to their friends and family.

In June 1992, former co-star Elizabeth Montgomery rode with Sargent as he was honored as a Grand Marshal of the Los Angeles Gay Pride parade.

Despite radiation therapy and regular treatment for his cancer, Sargent died on July 8, 1994, in Los Angeles at the age of 64.

My Science Project – Not So Secret Obsession

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I have decided to file My Science Project under the Not So Secret Obsession tag instead of the Required Viewing tag for personal reasons.  I really like the movie for what I am reluctant to admit are nostalgic reasons.  It is a bad, very bad 80’s movie.  It is like, if Back to the Future, Weird Science, and all those other time-travel-science-project-nerdy-guy-makes-good-and-gets-the-girl films had a dumb cousin.  But that is what I really like about it, it is not good, not flashy, not really very well acted, but it is so perfectly 80’s for me.  It is the same reason I adore Night of the Comet and Girls Just Wanna Have Fun, they are just so damn 80’s and maybe, secretly, deep down inside somewhere, I miss the 80’s a little bit.  Maybe I wish my life consisted of school and a paper route and watching MTV at the neighbor’s house.  Or maybe it is more accurate that at times, I am exhausted by the connectivity of my life now, I secretly take delight in being out of cell range and would love to go an afternoon with out learning something pointless about a Real Housewife or a Kardashian through grocery store check out line osmosis.  So, for me, it is Required Viewing because it gives me a chance to just be 80’s, for everyone else, they can think it is my Not So Secret Obsession.  At the time of posting, I have included a video of the entire film below.

my science project

The movie begins in 1957 with a scene of a United States military operation to secure a crashed UFO in a hangar bay. A man, (President Dwight D. Eisenhower), enters to see the craft and simply orders his men to “get rid of it.”

Forwarding to 1985, a senior high school student named Michael Harlan, (John Stockwell), whose only interest is muscle cars, reluctantly searches for something to turn in for his final science class project. While on what his bookworm friend Ellie Sawyer (Danielle von Zerneck), thinks is a date, Michael breaks into a government aircraft boneyard and stumbles upon a hidden fallout shelter. There he finds a glowing, plasma globe-like, piece of equipment and grabs it just as a military guard approaches and chases him away.

The next day Michael cleans up the device in auto shop class and unwittingly activates it where it begins drawing power from a nearby boombox. His friend Vince Latello (Fisher Stevens), convinces him to attach the device’s “terminals” to an automotive battery whereupon the device emits a swirl of colorful energy that manifests into an Ancient Egyptian vase. As the two leave the auto shop for their next class, they soon realize they inexplicably lost two hours of time and missed their final science exam.

After a series of other strange happenings surrounding the machine, Michael takes the device, referred to as “the gizmo,” to his ex-hippie science teacher Dr. Roberts (Dennis Hopper), who quickly realizes it is a portal to another dimension. While bathing in the cosmic energy of the gizmo and contemplating the wonders of the universe, Roberts suddenly warps away only leaving behind his peace symbol medallion. Michael tries to disconnect the machine from the power outlet, but is unable to. His only solution is to destroy the power lines leading to town before the warp spreads out of control. Meanwhile, Ellie remains behind with the gizmo, but is knocked unconscious when Sherman (Raphael Sbarge), a nerdy kid at the school, tries to tamper with it.

Happy 97th Birthday William Holden

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Today is the 97th birthday of the actor William Holden. Have you seen Sabrina and Sunset Boulevard and Born Yesterday and Bridge over the River Kwai and Picnic and Towering Inferno and Network? Those films are are on my shortlist of my very favorites. The world is a better place because he was in it and still feels the loss that he has left.

NAME: William Holden
OCCUPATION: Film Actor
BIRTH DATE: April 17, 1918
DEATH DATE: November 12, 1981
EDUCATION: Pasadena Junior College
PLACE OF BIRTH: O’Fallon, Illinois
PLACE OF DEATH: Santa Monica, California

BEST KNOWN FOR: William Holden was an actor who perfected the role of the cynic who acts heroically in spite of his scorn or pessimism.

Talented, thrill-seeking, Ronald Reagan’s best man: a life as captivating as his roles in Sunset Blvd and Stalag 17. Hollywood golden boy turned wildlife conservationist.

Few Hollywood actors have conveyed spiritual and physical pain with as much charismatic authority as William Holden.

This scion of a wealthy family in the chemical business first registered in films as a clean-cut, affably handsome lead in the 1940s, who matured into more rough and tumble roles.

Along the way his earnest qualities yielded to cynicism, perhaps most notably for writer-director Billy Wilder, in ‘Sunset Boulevard’, in 1950, and in his Oscar-winning performance in ‘Stalag 17′.

Over the years, the rigors of life and drink re-sculpted his features into an expressive leather that gave testimony to the ravages of the moral ambiguity that had characterized many of his best roles.

This quality may have been most eloquently expressed by his central performance as the desperado cowboy, Pike, in Sam Peckinpah’s violent autumnal Western classic, ‘The Wild Bunch‘.

He was born William Franklin Beedle on 17 April 1918 in Illinois. He was the eldest son of schoolteacher Mary Blanche and industrial chemist William Franklin Beedle SR. His family moved to South Pasadena when he was three-years-old. Holden was educated at South Pasadena high school and Pasadena Junior College where he became involved in local radio plays.

In 1937, Holden was discovered by a talent scout from Paramount Pictures who saw him portray an 80-year-old man in a play at the local and privately-owned theatre The Playbox. His first film was ‘Prisoner Farm’ (1938), in a role that was uncredited.

Holden became a star with his first substantial feature role as the boxer-violinist in ‘Golden Boy’ in 1939, a part that cast him opposite screen siren Barbara Stanwyck, who would later become his mentor.

In 1941, he married actress Ardis Ankerson (stage name Brenda Marshall) and they had two children – Peter born in 1943 and Scott born in 1946. After many long separations, they divorced in 1971.

Fighting in the Air Force as a second lieutenant in World War II, he returned to the screen after discharge with a more complex personality, and starred in box-office favorites, ‘Dear Ruth’ (1947) and ‘Rachel and the Stranger’ (1948). During the war, he continued to act in training films.

1950 proved to be Holden’s watershed year: he starred in two career landmarks, ‘Born Yesterday’, as Judy Holliday’s culture tutor-cum-lover, and Billy Wilder’s ‘Sunset Boulevard’, as Norma Desmond’s hack screenwriter gigolo.

In 1952, Holden was the best man to Ronald Regan when he married Nancy Davis but he never got involved in politics himself.

He won a best actor Oscar for his pessimistic POW suspected of being a Nazi informer, in Wilder’s ‘Stalag 17′, in 1953.

Holden went on to become a leading box-office star between 1954-58, including roles in ‘Executive Suite’ (1954), ‘Sabrina’ (1954) and ‘Picnic’ (1955). During the filming of Sabrina, he started a romantic relationship with his co-star Audrey Hepburn who wanted to marry and have children with him. The relationship ended when Holden revealed he had undergone a vasectomy.

He played a pivotal role in ‘The Bridge on the River Kwai‘ (1957) and his 1960s successes included ‘The Counterfeit Traitor’ (1962) and a career highlight in Peckinpah’s ‘The Wild Bunch’ (1969).

During this period, he also appeared in ‘The 7th Dawn’ (1964), ‘Alvarez Kelly’ (1966) and the James Bond spoof ‘Casino Royale’ in 1967.

The 1970s saw him in ‘Towering Inferno’ (1974), which became Holden’s highest grossing film of his career and ‘Ashanti'(1979), as well the highly acclaimed ‘Network’ (1976), as a conscientious TV executive for which he was nominated for an Oscar. This was followed by ‘When Time Ran Out’ and ‘The Earthling’ in 1980.

Following his divorce from Marshall, Holden started a relationship with actress Stefanie Powers, which sparked her interest in animal welfare as Holden was a managing partner of a wildlife conservation sanctuary in Africa.

His final film performance came in Blake Edwards’ caustically comic look at Hollywood, ‘S.O.B’, in 1981. On 12 November 1981, he was alone and intoxicated in his apartment when he slipped on a throw rug and severely cut his head on a teak bedside table and bled to death. Holden’s body was found four days later and his ashes were scattered in the Pacific Ocean as was his request.

Powers set up the William Holden Wildlife Foundation at Holden’s Mount Kenya Game Ranch in his memory.

The Proust Questionnaire

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The-Proust-QuestionnaireIn a nod to Inside The Actor’s Studio, I will answer some questions.  The questionnaire concept was originated by French television personality Bernard Pivot, after the Proust Questionnaire.
What is your idea of perfect happiness? A hot cup of coffee, empty early morning city streets, a walk with Rick and Scraps.
What is your greatest fear? Not leaving it better than when I found it.What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? Impatience.

What is the trait you most deplore in others? Apathy.

Which living person do you most admire? Jimmy Carter.

What is your greatest extravagance? Cosmoseuticals.

What is your current state of mind? Anxious optimism.

What do you consider the most overrated virtue? Mercy, probably.

On what occasion do you lie? When my opinion is requested regarding someone’s appearance.

What do you most dislike about your appearance? My hairline.

Which living person do you most despise? I forget their names. They deserve to be forgotten.

What is the quality you most like in a man? Understanding.

What is the quality you most like in a woman? Bravery.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse? People who listen to me should answer this question. Maybe “can I email you your receipt?”

What or who is the greatest love of your life? I want to make me the greatest love of my life.

When and where were you happiest? Here and now.

Which talent would you most like to have? To sing.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? My hairline.

What do you consider your greatest achievement? Becoming closer to being the type of person I would be proud of.

If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be? Probably a Chinese peasant, statistically speaking. If I could choose what to come back as, it would be a gay couple’s rescue dog.

Where would you most like to live? New York City. Paris. Buenos Aires. Los Angeles. Seattle. Stockholm. Madrid.

What is your most treasured possession? I cannot think of anything, which is probably a good thing. It means that I am not irrationally attached to physical possessions.

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? Apathy. Indifference.

What is your favorite occupation? Barista.

What is your most marked characteristic? My natural pearly-white smile.

What do you most value in your friends? Conversation. Comfort.

Who are your favorite writers? David Rakoff. F. Scott Fitzgerald. John Dos Pasos.

Who is your hero of fiction? Nick Carraway from The Great Gatsby.

Which historical figure do you most identify with? Tsar Nicholas II

Who are your heroes in real life? Jimmy Carter. Bill Clinton.

What are your favorite names? Ivan. Alfa. Waldina.

What is it that you most dislike? Eggplant Parmesan.

What is your greatest regret? Wasting time on regrets.

How would you like to die? Getting hit by a bus while jogging at 125 years old.

What is your motto? Hic Sunt Leones. It is Latin for here there are lions, mostly used on the uncharted territories of old maps.

Happy 82nd Birthday Elizabeth Montgomery

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Today is the 82nd birthday of the actor and our favorite television witch: Elizabeth Montgomery. Bewitched was one of my very favorite reruns to watch when I was a kid, I loved all those extreme characters on the show, it really is a revolving door of crazy. The world is a better place because she was in it and still feels the loss that she has left.

NAME: Elizabeth Montgomery
OCCUPATION: Television Actress, Pin-up
BIRTH DATE: April 15, 1933
DEATH DATE: May 18, 1995
EDUCATION: Academy of Dramatic Arts
PLACE OF BIRTH: Los Angeles, California
PLACE OF DEATH: Beverly Hills, California

BEST KNOWN FOR: Actress Elizabeth Montgomery made magic on TV’s top-rated sitcom Bewitched from 1964 to 1972.

Actress Elizabeth Montgomery was born on April 15, 1933, to actress Elizabeth Allen and actor-director Robert Montgomery. She attended Westlake School for Girls and Spencer School in New York. After Spencer, she enrolled in the Academy of Dramatic Arts.

Best known for her portrayal of Samantha, the beautiful witch who cast spells by twitching her nose, in the popular TV series Bewitched (1964-’72).

Montgomery’s TV debut was in 1951 in her father’s show, Robert Montgomery Presents. Her first Broadway show, Late Love, won her a Theater World Award. On TV, a role in The Untouchables (1959) marked her first Emmy Award nomination. TV highlights also included roles in Studio One, Kraft Theater, G. E. Theater, Alcoa Theater, the Twilight Zone, Thriller, 77 Sunset Strip, Rawhide and Wagon Train.

Her film debut was in The Court Martial of Billy Mitchell (1955), with Gary Cooper, followed by Johnny Cool (1963), starring Sammy Davis, Jr. and Who’s Been Sleeping in My Bed (1963), with Dean Martin.

Though she had several roles under her belt, Montgomery had yet to take on play the spellbinding character that she would be best known for. In 1964, she landed a spot on the hit TV series Bewitched.

In the TV show Bewitched, Montgomery played Samantha Stephens, a witch married to Darrin, a mortal first portrayed by Dick York (who left the series due to illness) and then by Dick Sargent. The antics of the well-meaning Samantha and her quirky relatives wreaked havoc for Darrin, who tried to conceal the strange goings-on from nosy neighbors and from his stuffy boss. Bewitched was the number-one rated sitcom for four of its eight years, and Montgomery was nominated for an Emmy Award five times for her portrayal of Samantha.

After Bewitched, Montgomery played dramatic roles in TV movies, including A Case of Rape (1974), The Legend of Lizzie Borden (1975), Black Widow Murders (1993), The Corpse Had a Familiar Face (1994) and Deadline For Murder (1995). She narrated the movie The Panama Deception, which won an Academy Award in 1993.

Married four times, her first husband was businessman Frederick Gallatin Cammann (1954-’55). Her second husband was actor Gig Young (1956-’63). In 1963, she married William Asher, the producer-director of Bewitched. The couple divorced amicably in 1973. They had three children, Willy, Robert and Rebecca Elizabeth. She moved in with fourth husband, Robert Foxworth, in 1975, and was with him until her death in 1995.

In March 1995, Montgomery was diagnosed with cancer. She died on May 18, 1995, at age 62. Among Montgomery’s personal crusades was AmFAR, The American Foundation for AIDS research and she regularly supported liberal causes. In 1998, Montgomery’s children and husband donated her wardrobe for auction so that money could be raised for AIDS charities.

Happy 274th Birthday Charles Willson Peale

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Today is the 274th birthday of the American portrait artist Charles Willson Peale. You have seen his art and may not have known the name of the artist. His work helped chronicle major historical figures and events at the formation of the United States.

NAME: Charles Willson Peale
OCCUPATION: Painter
BIRTH DATE: April 15, 1741
DEATH DATE: February 22, 1827
PLACE OF BIRTH: Chester, Queen Anne’s County, Maryland
PLACE OF DEATH: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

BEST KNOWN FOR: Charles Willson Peale was an American painter best known as one of the most prolific artists in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. He painted more than a dozen heroic portraits of George Washington.

Charles Willson Peale, was an American painter best remembered for his portraits of the leading figures of the American Revolution and as the founder of the first major museum in the United States.

As a young man, Peale worked as a saddler, watchmaker, and silversmith. His career in art began when he exchanged a saddle for a few painting lessons from John Hesselius. Peale’s interest in art was heightened when he met and received advice from the well-respected portrait painter John Singleton Copley. In 1766 a group of Maryland patrons sent him to London, where he studied for three years with American expatriate painter Benjamin West.

Upon his return to America, Peale immediately became the most fashionable portrait painter of the middle colonies. He moved to Philadelphia in 1775, entered wholeheartedly into the Revolutionary movement, and served with the city militia in the Trenton-Princeton campaign. From 1779 to 1780 he represented the “Furious Whig” party in the Pennsylvania Assembly, an activity that damaged his professional career. He opened a portrait gallery of Revolutionary heroes in 1782 and in 1786 founded an institution intended for the study of natural law and display of natural history and technological objects. Known as Peale’s Museum (later known as the Philadelphia Museum), it fulfilled Peale’s objective to make wide-ranging collections democratically accessible. The museum grew to vast proportions and was widely imitated by other museums of the period and later by P.T. Barnum. Located in Independence Hall, the museum was a mélange of Peale’s paintings, curious gadgets, minerals, and stuffed animals. Its most celebrated exhibit was the first complete skeleton of an American mastodon, which was unearthed in 1801 on a New York farm. Peale, who had accompanied the archaeological expedition, chronicled the excavation in his painting Exhuming the Mastodon (1806). In 1812 the museum was relocated to Baltimore, Maryland, and Peale relinquished its directorship to his son Rubens.

In his long life, Peale painted about 1,100 portraits, including sitters such as George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and John Adams. Crisply outlined and firmly modeled, his portraits reflected the Neoclassical style developed in France by Jacques-Louis David. His seven life portraits of Washington from actual sittings were repeated many times by himself and other painters of his family. In 1812 Peale wrote “An Essay to Promote Domestic Happiness,” a tract that scholars today believe may have influenced many of his portrait compositions, in which family members touch intimately and are posed in a relaxed, informal manner. Peale was a master of trompe l’oeil painting; his The Staircase Group (1795), a life-sized double portrait of his sons Raphaelle and Titian, intentionally framed in a real door jamb and with a projecting bottom step, is said to have deceived George Washington into doffing his hat to the boys’ images. Peale’s brother James and his sons Raphaelle, Rembrandt, Rubens, and Titian were also painters.

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