Happy 93rd Birthday Yvonne DeCarlo

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Today is the 93rd birthday of Yvonne DeCarlo.  Reinvention.  I love it.  There are risks and challenges, but also great rewards.  One being the confusion of others.  It is not only in Hollywood that people get typecast.  People love to attach quick descriptors to people, to categorize them for easy processing.  When you do something that appears to be out of character, it messes with people’s heads and is brilliant.  Moses’ mother and Lilly Munster?  What?  That is the same women?  The world is a better place because she was in it and still feels the loss that she has left.

NAME: Yvonne DeCarlo
OCCUPATION: Film Actress, Television Actress, Pin-up
BIRTH DATE: September 01, 1922
DEATH DATE: January 08, 2007
PLACE OF BIRTH: Point Gray, Canada
PLACE OF DEATH: Woodland Hills, California

BEST KNOWN FOR: Actress Yvonne DeCarlo was Moses’ wife in DeMille’s The Ten Commandments, but is better known for playing the matriarch on TV’s The Munsters.

Yvonne De Carlo was a Canadian-born American actress of film and television. During her six-decade career, her most frequent appearances in film came in the 1940s and 1950s and included her best-known film roles, such as of Anna Marie in Salome Where She Danced (1945); Anna in Criss Cross (1949); Sephora the wife of Moses in The Ten Commandments (1956), starring Charlton Heston; and Amantha Starr in Band of Angels (1957) with Clark Gable. In the early 1960s, De Carlo accepted the offer to play Lily Munster for the CBS television series The Munsters, alongside Fred Gwynne and Al Lewis.

For her contribution to the motion picture industry, Yvonne De Carlo was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6124 Hollywood Blvd. and a second star at 6715 Hollywood Blvd. for her contribution to television.

The year 1964 was a rocky one for De Carlo, as she was deeply in debt. After having worked for over 30 years, her film career came to a sudden end, and she was suffering from depression. She signed a contract with Universal Studios after receiving an offer to perform the female lead role in The Munsters opposite Fred Gwynne as Herman Munster. She was also the producers’ choice to play Lily Munster when Joan Marshall, who played Phoebe, was dropped from consideration for the role. When De Carlo was asked how a glamorous actress could succeed as a ghoulish matriarch of a haunted house, she replied simply, “I follow the directions I received on the first day of shooting: ‘Play her just like Donna Reed.’

In her autobiography, published in 1987, she listed 22 intimate friends, including Prince Aly Khan, Billy Wilder, Burt Lancaster, Howard Hughes, Robert Stack and Robert Taylor.

Happy 118th Birthday Fredric March

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Today is the 118th birthday of the actor Fredric March.  I have so many favorites of his films that I believe you could not go wrong in choosing any of them.  The world is a better place because he was in it and still feels the loss that he has left.

NAME: Fredric March
OCCUPATION: Film Actor, Theater Actor
BIRTH DATE: August 31, 1897
DEATH DATE: April 14, 1975
EDUCATION: University of Wisconsin
PLACE OF BIRTH: Racine, Wisconsin
PLACE OF DEATH: Los Angeles, California
ORIGINALLY: Frederick Ernest McIntyre Bickel

BEST KNOWN FOR: Actor Frederic March won his first Oscar for the title role in the 1931 film Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. His stage and film career lasted until 1973.

March developed his interest in acting while a student at the University of Wisconsin. After graduating in 1920, he moved to New York City to work in a bank, but he soon began to pursue a career in acting. For the next six years March accepted numerous small roles in plays and in films before landing his first Broadway leading role in The Devil in the Cheese (1926). While appearing in a stock company, he met actress Florence Eldridge, who became his wife in 1927. In the decades that followed, they built a reputation as a prominent theatrical team.

March’s parody of John Barrymore in a 1928 touring production of The Royal Family earned him a five-year contract with Paramount Pictures, and he received his first Academy Award nomination for reprising the Barrymore role in the retitled screen adaptation, The Royal Family of Broadway (1930). His best-known film performance from his early years was a dual role in the horror classic Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931); it won March his first Academy Award.

His Paramount contract, which expired in 1933, was March’s only long-term studio contract; for the remainder of his lengthy career, he freelanced—a rarity in the days of the Hollywood studio system. Throughout the next decade, he created memorable roles in films for various studios, most notably The Barretts of Wimpole Street (1934), Death Takes a Holiday (1934), Les Misérables (1935), Anthony Adverse (1936), Nothing Sacred (1937), A Star Is Born (1937; his third Oscar-nominated performance), The Buccaneer (1938), Bedtime Story (1941), I Married a Witch (1942), and The Adventures of Mark Twain (1944).

In 1942 March returned to Broadway in Thornton Wilder’s The Skin of Our Teeth, and for the rest of his career he alternated between Hollywood films and the New York stage. He needed little training to adapt his skills to either medium, instinctively knowing if a gesture or facial expression was too broad for the screen or too subtle for the stage. March disdained the internal “method” approach to his craft. Upon accepting a script, he learned his lines quickly so that he had time to absorb the nuances of each word. This cerebral approach occasionally resulted in stolid, emotionally unconvincing performances (especially during his younger years when he was often cast in one-dimensional leading man roles), but it more often produced compelling, complex characterizations.

March aged gracefully into the character roles he was offered in later years. Two of his Broadway performances received considerable acclaim: A Bell for Adano (1944) and Years Ago (1947), the latter performance winning a Tony Award. In between playing the two stage roles, he won a second Oscar for what may be his most renowned screen role, that of the emotionally repressed World War II veteran in William Wyler’s The Best Years of Our Lives (1946). His career faltered somewhat during the 1950s and into the ’60s, but highlights include his Oscar-nominated performance as Willy Loman in Death of a Salesman (1951), his role as a suburban homeowner terrorized by a gang of thugs in The Desperate Hours (1955), his William Jennings Bryan-based character in Inherit the Wind (1960), a turn as the president of the United States in Seven Days in May (1964), and a role as the corrupt Indian agent in Hombre (1967). March appeared on Broadway between film roles, winning a second Tony Award for originating the role of James Tyrone in Eugene O’Neill’s Long Day’s Journey into Night (1956). His final performance, as Harry Hope in the film adaptation of O’Neill’s The Iceman Cometh (1973), was especially strong.

Happy 71st Birthday Molly Ivins

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Today is the 71st birthday of the political satirist, writer and activist Molly Ivins.  She took the confusion out of politics, ‘normalized’ the politicians, and made us realize that everyone is just the same, we all have faults and strengths.  She humorously poked fun at people who took themselves too seriously.  The world is a better place because she was in it and still feels the loss that she has left.

NAME: Molly Ivins
OCCUPATION: Comedian, Journalist
BIRTH DATE: August 30, 1944
DEATH DATE: January 31, 2007
PLACE OF BIRTH: Monterey, California
PLACE OF DEATH: Austin, Texas

BEST KNOWN FOR: Molly Ivins was an American political satirist with a widely syndicated column. She wrote several scathing books about the political career of George W. Bush.

American political satirist (born Aug. 30, 1944 , Monterey, Calif.—died Jan. 31, 2007 , Austin, Texas) wrote a newspaper column from a staunchly liberal point of view that mercilessly and humorously skewered politicians in both her home state of Texas and the federal government. Ivins began her career in 1967 as a reporter for the Minneapolis (Minn.) Tribune. In 1970 she became editor of the liberal biweekly magazine the Texas Observer, and it was there that she developed her distinctive style. Ivins worked (1976–82) for the New York Times before spending 10 years with the Dallas Times Herald. She then wrote her column for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.Ivins came to national prominence with the rise to national politics of Texas politician George W. Bush, and her column was widely syndicated. She wrote six books, including, with Lou Dubose, Shrub: The Short but Happy Political Life of George W. Bush (2000) and Bushwhacked (2003).

In 1999, Ivins was diagnosed with stage III inflammatory breast cancer. The cancer recurred in 2003 and again in late 2005. In January 2006 she reported that she was again undergoing chemotherapy. In December 2006 she took leave from her column to again undergo treatment. She wrote two columns in January 2007, but returned to the hospital on the 26th for further treatment. Ivins died at her Austin, Texas home in hospice care on January 31, 2007, at age 62.

After her death, George W. Bush, a frequent target of her barbs, said in a statement, “I respected her convictions, her passionate belief in the power of words. She fought her illness with that same passion. Her quick wit and commitment will be missed.

Happy 117th Birthday Shirley Booth

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Today is the 117th  birthday of Shirley Booth.  She was an amazing actress, capable of showing unflattering, unpopular, and raw emotions. On the other end of that, she was Hazel, of the same-titled TV show from the 1960s. Her acting on that show was so effortless and invisible, most people thought she was exactly like Hazel in real life.  The world is a better place because she was in it and still feels the loss that she has left.NAME: Shirley Booth
OCCUPATION: Film Actress, Theater Actress, Television Actress
BIRTH DATE: August 30, 1898
DEATH DATE: October 16, 1992
PLACE OF BIRTH: New York City, New York
PLACE OF DEATH: North Chatham, Massachusetts
ORIGINALLY: Marjory Ford

BEST KNOWN FOR: Shirley Booth was an American actress who played Lola Delaney in the drama Come Back, Little Sheba, for which she received a Tony Award in 1950.

Shirley Booth was an American actress. Primarily a theatre actress, Booth’s Broadway career began in 1925. Her most significant success was as Lola Delaney, in the drama Come Back, Little Sheba, for which she received a Tony Award in 1950. She made her film debut, reprising her role in the 1952 film version, and won both the Academy Award for Best Actress and Golden Globe Award for Best Actress for her performance. Despite her successful entry into films, she preferred stage acting, and made only four more films.

From 1961 until 1966, she played the title role in the sitcom Hazel, for which she won two Emmy Awards, and was acclaimed for her performance in the 1966 television production of The Glass Menagerie. She retired in 1974.

Shirley Booth has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6840 Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood.

Happy 112th Birthday Claudette Colbert

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Today is the 112th birthday of the film actress Claudette Colbert.  She starred opposite in one of Clark Gable in one of my very favorite films It Happened One Night.  They are just terrific in it and the film set the tone for what was to become the Screwball Comedy genre.  The world was a better place because she was in it and still feels the loss that she has left.

NAME: Claudette Colbert
OCCUPATION: Film Actress, Theater Actress
BIRTH DATE: September 13, 1903
DEATH DATE: July 30, 1996
EDUCATION: Art Students League of New York
PLACE OF BIRTH: Saint-Mandé, Val-de-Marne, France
PLACE OF DEATH: Speightstown, Barbados
ORIGINALLY: Lily Claudette Chauchoin

BEST KNOWN FOR: Actress Claudette Colbert was known for her trademark bangs, her velvety, purring voice, her confident, intelligent style and her subtle, graceful acting.

One of the brightest film stars to grace the screen was born Emilie Claudette Chauchoin on September 13, 1903, in Saint Mandé, France where her father owned a bakery at 57, Avenue Général de Gaulle. The family moved to the United States when she was three. As Claudette grew up, she wanted nothing more than to play to Broadway audiences (in those days, any actress or actor worth their salt went for Broadway, not Hollywood). After her formal education ended, she enrolled in the Art Students League, where she paid for her dramatic training by working in a dress shop. She made her Broadway debut in 1923 in the stage production of “The Wild Wescotts“. It was during this event that she adopted the name Claudette Colbert.

When the Great Depression shut down most of the theaters, Claudette decided to make a go of it in films. Her first film was called For the Love of Mike (1927). Unfortunately, it was a box-office disaster. She wasn’t real keen on the film industry, but with an extreme scarcity in theatrical roles, she had no choice but to remain. In 1929 she starred as Joyce Roamer in The Lady Lies (1929). The film was a success and later that year she had another hit entitled The Hole in the Wall (1929). In 1930 she starred opposite Fredric March in Manslaughter (1930), which was a remake of the silent version of eight years earlier. A year after that Claudette was again paired in a film with March, Honor Among Lovers (1931). It fared well at the box-office, probably only because it was the kind of film that catered to women who enjoyed magazine fiction romantic stories. In 1932 Claudette played the evil Poppeia in Cecil B. DeMille’s last great work, The Sign of the Cross (1932), and once again was cast with March. Later the same year she was paired with Jimmy Durante in The Phantom President (1932). By now Claudette’s name symbolized good movies and she, along with March, pulled crowds into the theaters with the acclaimed Tonight Is Ours (1933).

The next year started a little on the slow side with the release of Four Frightened People (1934), where Claudette and her co-stars were at odds with the dreaded bubonic plague on board a ship. However, the next two films were real gems for this young actress. First up, Claudette was charming and radiant in Cecil B. DeMille’s spectacular Cleopatra (1934). It wasn’t one of DeMille’s finest by any means, but it was a financial success and showcased Claudette as never before. However, it was as Ellie Andrews, in the now famous It Happened One Night (1934), that ensured she would be forever immortalized. Paired with Clark Gable, the madcap comedy was a mega-hit all across the country. It also resulted in Claudette being nominated for and winning the Oscar that year for Best Actress. In 1935 she was nominated again for Private Worlds (1935), where she played Dr. Jane Everest, on the staff at a mental institution. The performance was exquisite. Films such as The Gilded Lily (1935), Drums Along the Mohawk (1939) and No Time for Love (1943) kept fans coming to the theaters and the movie moguls happy. Claudette was a sure drawing card for virtually any film she was in. In 1944 she starred as Anne Hilton in Since You Went Away (1944). Again, although she didn’t win, Claudette picked up her third nomination for Best Actress.

By the late 1940s and early 1950s she was not only seen on the screen but the infant medium of television, where she appeared in a number of programs. However, her drawing power was fading somewhat as new stars replaced the older ones. In 1955 she filmed the western Texas Lady (1955) and wasn’t seen on the screen again until Parrish (1961). It was her final silver screen performance. Her final appearance before the cameras was in a TV movie, The Two Mrs. Grenvilles (1987). She did, however, remain on the stage where she had returned in 1956, her first love. After a series of strokes, Claudette divided her time between New York and Barbados. On July 30, 1996, Claudette died in Speightstown, Barbados. She was 92.

Happy 78th Birthday Carol Doda

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Today is the 78th birthday of Carol Doda.  She is the subject of a cherished family story. She plays a very important role in the story of how Susie met her soon-to-be brother-in-law Waldie. She was originally going to take him to a classical music concert, but got the days mixed up and the tickets were for a different night. Waldie being Waldie, he said he knew a place he wanted to go and off they went. It turns out the places that Waldie was talking about was the Condor Club, a topless (and for a while, bottomless) bar in North Beach, San Francisco. It was the 1960s. The music started, and Carol Doda was lowered from the ceiling.

At Waldie’s memorial service this past summer, Susie spoke and included the story of how they first met. She referenced Carol Doda by saying “She was the most well-endowed woman I had ever seen” and received laughter and cheers from the family and friends that filled the Chapel at Interlochen Center for the Arts.

NAME: Carol Ann Doda
BORN: 29-Aug-1937
GENDER: Female
ETHNICITY: White
OCCUPATION: Performance Artist
NATIONALITY: United States
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Stripper at San Francisco’s Condor Club

Carol Ann Doda (born August 29, 1937) was a topless stripper in San Francisco, California in the 1960s through 1980s, one of the first of the era.

In 1964 Doda made international news, first by dancing topless at the city’s Condor Club, then by enhancing her bust from size 34 to 44 through silicone injections. Her breasts became known as Doda’s “twin 44s” and “the new Twin Peaks of San Francisco.”

Carol Doda attended the San Francisco Art Institute and worked as waitress and lounge entertainer at the Condor Club, at the corner of Broadway and Columbus in the North Beach section of San Francisco. Doda’s act began with a grand piano being lowered from the ceiling by hydraulic motors; Doda would be atop the piano dancing, as it descended from a hole in the ceiling. She go-go danced the ‘Swim’ to a rock and roll combo headed by Bobby Freeman as her piano settled on the stage. From the waist up Doda emulated aquatic movements like the Australian crawl. She also did the Twist, the Frug, and the Watusi.

On June 19, 1964, when Doda was approximately 23 years old (actually 26), the Condor’s publicist, “Big” Davy Rosenberg gave Doda a “monokini” (topless swimsuit) designed by Rudi Gernreich. She performed topless that night, the first noted entertainer of the era to do so. The act was an instant success. Two months after she started her semi-nude performances, the rest of San Francisco’s Broadway was topless, followed soon after by entertainers across America. Doda became an American cultural icon of the 1960s. The Republican National Convention was held in San Francisco, during the summer of 1964; many of the delegates came to see Carol Doda. She was profiled in Tom Wolfe’s 1968 book The Pump House Gang and appeared that same year as Sally Silicone in Head, the 1968 film created by Jack Nicholson and Bob Rafelson, and featuring The Monkees. The movie was produced by Columbia Pictures. She appeared in a Golden Boy parody with Annette Funicello, Sonny Liston, and Davy Jones.

Encouraged by her success, Doda soon decided to enhance her breasts with silicone injections, going from size 34 to 44. Doda became renowned for her big bust, and was one of the first well-known performers to be surgically enhanced. She had 44 injections, a large dose of silicone, at a cost of $1,500.

For the topless and waterless Swim, Doda wore the bottom half of a black bikini and a net top which ended where a bathing suit generally began. Doda performed 12 shows nightly so that management could keep crowds moving in and out. The large lit sign in front of the club featured a cartoon of her.

Nicaraguan dictator General Anastasio Somoza Debayle paid an unexpected visit to the Condor Nightclub in November 1973 as seven limousines pulled up before starled parking attendants. About two dozen U.S Secret Service agents accompained the general Somoza’s party of nine and guarded each door. Somoza sent to Doda a word backstage as he departed that he considered her performance “most outstanding”.

From the late-1960s through the late-1970s, Doda was the spokesmodel for what is now the San Jose, California television station KICU-TV Channel 36, then known as KGSC-TV. Filmed from the waist up and wearing clothes which amplified her most prominent physical attributes, she would coo “You’re watching the Perfect 36 in San Jose.” She would also occasionally appear on-air to do editorial commentary on the issues of the day.

In 1982 Doda was again dancing at the Condor three times a night. She was 45 and performed to rock ‘n’ roll, blues, and ragtime. Each act was the same, with Doda appearing in a gold gown, traditional elbow-length gloves, and a diaphanous-wraparound. Her clothing was removed until she wore only a g-string and the diaphanous wraparound. In the final portion she was attired in only the wraparound. Her small body looked slimmer without clothes, a perception which was emphasized by the dwarfing effect of her breasts. At the time she was taking dance and voice lessons but had no definite plans for her future.

Doda retired from stripping in the 1980s and now runs “Carol Doda’s Champagne and Lace Lingerie Boutique“, a lingerie shop in San Francisco.

As of 2009 Doda had been performing (fully clothed) for several years at several North Beach (San Francisco) clubs, including Amante’s and Enrico’s Supper Club.

Happy 94th Birthday Iris Apfel

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Today is the 94th birthday of Iris Apfel.  This woman is FASHION!  I absolutely adore what she has done with her life:  making it a performance of color and texture.  We should all take a page from her book and show up for life a little brighter.  Pick out the perfect costume for the day.  Don’t get stuck in a rut (remember:  the only difference between a rut and a grave are the dimensions.)  The world is a better place because she is in it.Iris Apfel (born Astoria, Queens, New York, 29 August 1921) is an American businesswoman, former interior designer, and fashion icon.

Born Iris Barrel, she was the only child of Samuel Barrel (born 1897), whose family owned a glass and mirror business, and his Russian-born wife, Sadye (aka Syd), who owned a fashion boutique.

She studied art history at New York University and attended art school at the University of Wisconsin. As a young woman Barrel worked for Women’s Wear Daily and for interior designer Elinor Johnson. She also was an assistant to illustrator Robert Goodman.
iris-apfel-fashion-icon-1

In 1948 she married Carl Apfel. Two years later they launched the textile firm Old World Weavers and ran it until they retired in 1992. During this time, Iris Apfel took part in many design restoration projects, including work at the White House for nine presidents: Truman, Eisenhower, Nixon, Kennedy, Johnson, Carter, Reagan, and Clinton.

Iris Apfel still consults, and also lectures about style and other fashion topics.

Iris Apfel

In 2005, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City premiered an exhibition about the fashionable style of Iris Apfel entitled Rara Avis (Rare Bird): The Irreverent Iris Apfel. The success of the exhibit was so profound that it planted the seed for traveling versions of the exhibit displayed at the Norton Museum of Art in West Palm Beach; the Nassau County Museum in Nassau County, New York; and the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Mass. The Museum of Lifestyle & Fashion History in Boynton Beach is in the conceptual phase of a 93,000 square feet (8,600 m2) new building that will include a dedicated gallery for the clothes, accessories and furnishings of Iris Apfel.

Carl and Iris Apfel have supported many charities including a $1.2 million donation to the University of Miami’s Bascom Palmer Eye Institute.

Happy 97th Birthday Leonard Bernstein

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Today is the 97th birthday of the musician and composer that contributed the soundtrack to the America experience:  Leonard Bernstein.  His work spans four decades and is immediately recognizable and adored.  The world is a better place because he was in it and still feels the loss that he has left.

NAME: Leonard Bernstein
OCCUPATION: Pianist, Songwriter
BIRTH DATE: August 25, 1918
DEATH DATE: October 14, 1990
EDUCATION: Harvard University, Boston Latin School, Curtis Institute of Music , Berkshire Music Center
PLACE OF BIRTH: Lawrence, Massachusetts
PLACE OF DEATH: New York, New York

BEST KNOWN FOR: Leonard Bernstein was one of the first American-born conductors to receive worldwide fame. He composed the score for the Broadway musical West Side Story.

One of classical music’s most influential figures for the 20th century, Leonard Bernstein was born to Jewish immigrants and raised in Boston, where he attended both the Garrison and Boston Latin schools. His musical training began on the piano and his first attempts at composition were made at a young age, although he initially faced the opposition of his middle-class parents in the pursuit of such a frequently-unrewarding career. It was while attending Harvard that Bernstein was given his earliest opportunity to undertake what would eventually become the primary source of his fame, when he assumed the role of conductor for some incidental music he had composed for Aristophanes’ The Birds. After Harvard he studied piano, conducting and orchestration at the Curtis Institute of Music, as well as attending the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s Tanglewood Institute. At the age of only 25 he landed an assistant conductor’s position with The New York Philharmonic, and after serving as a last-minute replacement for a performance (and associated radio broadcast) at Carnegie Hall in 1943, the demand for his talents took off like a bat out of hell. The following year, Bernstein publicly established himself as a composer with the premier of Symphony No. 1: Jeremiah, performed by the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. Also in 1944 was the premier of the ballet Fancy Free, created in collaboration with choreographer Jerome Robbins; such was its success that its authors were inspired to adapt it into a Broadway musical, and before the year was over On The Town was packing in audiences. A two-year tenure as music director of the New York City Symphony Orchestra was initiated in 1945, after which followed various conducting assignments, including events in Tel Aviv and Milan, as well as extensive teaching work at Tanglewood and Brandeis University. By 1956 Bernstein had landed a contract with the Columbia Masterworks label, with whom he remained extremely productive until a move to Deutsche Grammophon in the 1970s. The peak of his career was to arrive in 1958, however, when he assumed the directorship of the New York Philharmonic: a position that was subsequently maintained across 11 years, nearly 300 recordings, and countless performances. It was with the NYP that he created his popular Young People’s Concerts, a musical series broadcast on CBS that endured for fourteen seasons.

Over the course of his career, both Bernstein’s output and impact were enormous. In addition to works for orchestra and ensemble (Prelude, Fugue and Riffs (1949), Mass: A Theater Piece for Singers, Players and Dancers (1971), and Concerto for Orchestra: Jubilee Games (1989) amongst them), he composed two operas (Trouble in Tahiti (1952) and A Quiet Place (1983)), two additional ballets with Robbins after Fancy Free (Facsimile (1946) and Dybbuk (1975)), a film soundtrack for On The Waterfront (1954), and four Broadway scores in addition to On The Town (Wonderful Town (1953), Candide (1956), his best-known work West Side Story (1957), and 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue (1976)). Both On The Town and West Side Story were adapted into feature films, with Story earning an Academy Award in 1961. Four books of Bernstein’s writings on music were published between 1959 and 1982, and a lecture series at Harvard in the early 1970s was both televised and transcribed. Honors and awards of ridiculous variety were piled upon the conductor from sources all around the globe.

This must be the mission of every man of goodwill: to insist, unflaggingly, at risk of becoming a repetitive bore, but to insist on the achievement of a world in which the mind will have triumphed over violence.

Some of the more notable events in the later decades of Bernstein’s career were centered around humanitarian concerns. On the 40th anniversary of the atom bomb in 1985 he staged the Journey for Peace, realized with the European Community Youth Orchestra on a tour that included performances in Athens and Hiroshima. In 1987 he established a fund to benefit Amnesty International in memory of his wife Felicia Montealegre, having been a long-standing supporter of the organization. A series of “Berlin Celebration Concerts” were staged by the conductor during the dismantling of the Berlin Wall at the close of 1989, which featured musicians from all of the nations associated with the original partitioning. In the final years of his life, his focus remained on his role as an educator, and he established counterparts to the Tanglewood Institute in Europe and Japan — the latter being inaugurated just months before his death.

Happy Birthday Gene Kelly

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Today is the 102nd birthday of the dance and Hollywood film legend Gene Kelly.  You should absolutely watch his films again.  Watch them today.  The world is a better place because he was in it and still feels the loss that he has left.

NAME: Gene Kelly
OCCUPATION: Film Actor, Dancer
BIRTH DATE: August 23, 1912
DEATH DATE: February 2, 1996
EDUCATION: University of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania State College
PLACE OF BIRTH: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
PLACE OF DEATH: Beverly Hills, California

BEST KNOWN FOR: Gene Kelly was a dancer whose athletic style transformed the movie musical and did much to change the American public’s conception of male dancers.

Athletic and energetic, Gene Kelly was the king of the musicals in the 1940s and ’50s. Not only did Kelly star in some of the genre’s most famous films, he worked behind the scenes, breaking new ground with his choreography and direction.

One of five children, Kelly was born on August 23, 1912, and grew up in a working-class neighborhood in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. While his friends were playing baseball, he was taking dance lessons. Kelly put his lessons to good use in college, teaching at a local studio to help him pay for his education. He also performed with his brother, Fred.

In the late 1930s, Kelly made his way to the Broadway stage. He had small roles in Leave It to Me! starring Mary Martin, and One For the Money. In 1940, Kelly played the lead in the popular musical comedy Pal Joey. MGM executive Louis B. Mayer caught Kelly’s stellar performance and offered him a movie contract with his studio. In 1942, Kelly made his film debut opposite Judy Garland in For Me and My Gal.

While he often was compared to another famous film dancer, Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly had his own unique style. He brought dance into real life in his movies, performing largely in regular clothes and in common settings. “All of my dancing came out of the idea of the common man,” Kelly once explained. He also produced some of film’s most innovative and enthusiastic dance numbers, pushing the limits of the genre.

In Anchors Aweigh (1945), Kelly danced a duet with Jerry, a cartoon mouse—a feat that had not been seen before. He had sailors performing ballet moves in On the Town (1949), in which he starred with Frank Sinatra. Working with director Vincente Minnelli, Kelly continued to take dance on film into uncharted territory with An American in Paris (1951). He choreographed the movie, including its groundbreaking finale—a lengthy ballet sequence. For his efforts on the film, Kelly received a honorary Academy Award “in appreciation of his versatility as an actor, singer, director and dancer, and specifically for his brilliant achievements in the art of choreography on film.”

Kelly starred in one of his most famous films the following year. Accompanied only by an umbrella, Kelly put together one of the most joyous dances ever filmed in Singin’ in the Rain (1952). He explained that his inspiration for the famous street dance scene was the way children like to play in the rain.

As interest in the movie musical began to fade in the 1960s, Kelly turned to television. He starred in two short-lived programs—Going My Way, an adaptation of the 1944 Bing Crosby movie, and a 1971 variety show called The Funny Side. Kelly fared better with the 1967 television movie Jack and the Beanstalk, which he directed, produced and starred in. The children’s telefilm netted him an Emmy Award. To promote and preserve the great film musicals of the past, Kelly also helped host the documentary That’s Entertainment! in the mid-1970s.

In the 1980s, Kelly largely retreated from acting. He made his last film appearance in the 1980 musical fantasy Xanadu with Olivia Newton-John, which proved to be a box-office dud. On the small screen, Kelly had a few supporting roles and guest spots on such series as The Muppet Show and The Love Boat. He often appeared as himself on tribute specials.

In 1994 and in 1995, Kelly suffered a series of strokes. He died on February 2, 1996, at his home in Beverly Hills, California. Many Hollywood stars mourned his passing, including his Singin’ in the Rain co-star, Debbie Reynolds. “There’ll never be another Gene,” she told the press. “I was only 18 when we made that movie, and the hardest thing was keeping up with his energy.”

In July 2012, New York City’s Film Society of Lincoln Center hosted a month-long program in honor of Kelly, showing nearly two dozen of Kelly’s films.

Happy 122nd Birthday Dorothy Parker

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Today is the 122nd birthday of Dorothy Parker.  Her poem “Telephone” is something everyone has felt, if they want to admit it or not. She had the wit of three people and the alcohol tolerance to match.  The world is a better place because she was in it and still feels the loss that she has left.

dorothy parker

NAME: Dorothy Parker
OCCUPATION: Civil Rights Activist, Journalist, Poet
BIRTH DATE: August 22, 1893
DEATH DATE: June 07, 1967
PLACE OF BIRTH: West End, New Jersey
PLACE OF DEATH: New York, New York

BEST KNOWN FOR: Dorothy Parker was the sharpest wit of the Algonquin Round Table, as well as a master of short fiction and a blacklisted screenwriter.

Resumé
Razors pain you; Rivers are damp;
Acids stain you; And drugs cause cramp.
Guns aren’t lawful; Nooses give;
Gas smells awful; You might as well live.

Journalist, writer, and poet. Born Dorothy Rothschild on August 22, 1893, in West End, New Jersey. Dorothy Parker was a legendary literary figure, known for her biting wit. She worked on such magazines as Vogue andVanity Fair during the late 1910s. Parker went on to work as a book reviewer for The New Yorker in the 1920s. A selection of her reviews for this magazine was published in 1970 as Constant Reader, the title of her column. She remained a contributor to The New Yorker for many years; the magazine also published a number of her short stories. One of her most popular stories, “Big Blonde,” won the O. Henry Award in 1929.In addition to her writing, Dorothy Parker was a noted member of the New York literary scene in 1920s. She formed a group called the Algonquin Round Table with writer Robert Benchley and playwright Robert Sherwood. This artistic crowd also included such members as The New Yorker founder Harold Ross, comedian Harpo Marx, and playwright Edna Ferber among others. The group took its name from its hangout—the Algonquin Hotel, but also also known as the Vicious Circle for the number of cutting remarks made by its members and their habit of engaging in sharp-tongued banter.

During the 1930s and 1940s, Dorothy Parker spent much of her time in Hollywood, California. She wrote screenplays with her second husband Alan Campbell, including the 1937 adaptation of A Star Is Born and the 1942 Alfred Hitchcock film Saboteur. In her personal life, she had become politically active, supporting such causes as the fight for civil rights. She also was involved with the Communist Party in the 1930s. It was this association that led to her being blacklisted in Hollywood.

While her opportunities in Hollywood may have dried up, Dorothy Parker was still a well-regarded writer and poet. She even went on to write a play entitled Ladies of the Corridor in 1953. Parker returned to New York City in 1963, spending her last few years in fragile condition. She died on June 7, 1967.

The Flaw in Paganism

Drink and dance and laugh and lie,
Love, the reeling midnight through,
For tomorrow we shall die!
(But, alas, we never do.)

 

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