Happy 107th Birthday Peg Entwistle

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Today is the 107th birthday of the woman who’s ghost is said to be seen around Griffith Park, recognized by her attractiveness, her sadness and the strong scent of gardenia perfume.  The world is a better place because she was in it and still feels the loss that she has left.

Peg Entwistle
AKA Lillian Millicent Entwistle

Born: 1-Jul-1908
Birthplace: Port Talbot, Wales
Died: 18-Sep-1932
Location of death: Hollywood, CA
Cause of death: Suicide
Remains: Cremated, Oak Hill Cemetery, Glendale, OH

Executive summary: Starlet, suicided off Hollywood sign

Born Millicent Lilian Entwistle in Port Talbot, Wales to English parents, Robert Symes and Emily (née Stevenson) Entwistle, she spent her early life in West Kensington, London. It is often reported that her mother Emily died when she was very young, however, there is no documented evidence supporting this. There is, however, a Last Will and Testament dated 15 December 1922, in the Entwistle family archives, in which Robert Entwistle specifically ordered that “Millicent Lilian Entwistle is the daughter of my first wife whom I divorced and the custody of my said daughter was awarded to me. I do not desire my said daughter to be at any time in the custody or control of her said mother.” Reportedly, Peg Entwistle emigrated to America via Liverpool aboard the SS Philadelphia and settled in New York. However, documents and photographs made available by the Entwistle family for a biography show Peg Entwistle and her father were in Cincinatti, Ohio, and New York City, in early Spring of 1913. This information is also backed-up in the Internet Broadway Data Base, and the New York Times, where Robert S. Entwistle is listed in the cast of several plays in 1913. A close examination of the reported 1916 ship’s manifest show that Peg Entwistle and her father were returning to the United States, not emigrating. In 1921 Robert Entwistle’s second wife, Lauretta Amanda Entwistle died and in 1922, after being the victim of a hit-and-run. She and her two younger half-brothers were taken in by their uncle, who had come with them to New York and was the manager of Broadway actor Walter Hampden.

On Sunday, 18 September 1932, an anonymous woman telephoned the police and said that while hiking she had found a body below the Hollywoodland sign (now known as the Hollywood sign) and then, according to a police transcript of the call, “wrapped a jacket, shoes and purse in a bundle and laid them on the steps of the Hollywood Police Station.” A detective and two radio car officers found the body of a moderately well-dressed, blonde-haired, blue-eyed woman in the 100-foot ravine below the sign. Entwistle remained unidentified until her uncle connected her two-day absence with the description and initials P.E. on a suicide note which had been found in the purse and published by the newspapers. He said that on Friday the 16th she had told him she was going for a walk to a drugstore and see some friends. The police surmised that instead, she made her way from his Beachwood Drive home up the nearby southern slope of Mount Lee to the foot of the Hollywoodland sign, climbed a workman’s ladder to the top of the “H” and jumped. The cause of death was listed by the coroner as “multiple fractures of the pelvis.”

The suicide note as published read:

“I am afraid, I am a coward. I am sorry for everything. If I had done this a long time ago, it would have saved a lot of pain. P.E.”

Entwistle’s death brought wide and often sensationalized publicity. Her funeral was held in Hollywood and the body was cremated, with the ashes later sent to Glendale, Ohio for burial next to her father in Oak Hill Cemetery, where they were interred on 5 January 1933.

It’s also worth noting that Peg’s ex-husband, Robert Keith, had had a son, Brian, from a prior marriage. Peg’s stepson Brian Keith grew up to become a famous actor, best known for his role as “Uncle Bill” on the hit TV show, “Family Affair.” Brian Keith also committed suicide in 1997.

In the years following Peg’s suicide, hikers and park rangers in Griffith Park have reported some pretty strange happening in the vicinity of the Hollywood sign. Many have reported sightings of a woman dressed in 1930’s era clothing who abruptly vanishes when approached. She has been described as a very attractive, blond woman, who seems very sad. Could this be Peg’s ghost, still making her presence known? Could she also be linked to the pungent smell of gardenia perfume which has been known to overwhelm sight-seers in the park? Perhaps it is, as the gardenia scent was known to be Peg’s trademark perfume.

Happy 74th Birthday Twyla Tharp

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Today is the 74th birthday of one of America’s most living influential and innovative dancer/choreographers, Twyla Tharp.  The world is a better place because she is in it.

NAME: Twyla Tharp
OCCUPATION: Ballet Dancer, Choreographer
BIRTH DATE: July 1, 1941
EDUCATION: Barnard College, American Ballet Theatre School, Vera Lynn School of Dance
PLACE OF BIRTH: Portland, Indiana
ZODIAC SIGN: Cancer

BEST KNOWN FOR: Dancer and choreographer Twyla Tharp founded the Twyla Tharp Dance Company. Her work for the American Ballet Theatre combined classical and modern styles.

Dancer and choreographer Twyla Tharp was born to Lucille and William Tharp on July 1, 1941, in Portland, Indiana. Lucille, a piano teacher, started Twyla on lessons when she was just a year and a half old. In 1951, Twyla and her family moved to Rialto, California. Soon after, she started dance lessons at the Vera Lynn School of Dance.

After graduating from Pacific High School, Tharp enrolled at Pomona College, where she trained as a dancer under Wilson Morelli and John Butler. Partway through her sophomore year, she transferred to Barnard College in Manhattan. There she honed her ballet skills at the American Ballet Theatre, under the tutelage of Igor Schwezoff. In New York, Tharp also studied dance under Martha Graham and Merce Cunningham. After Tharp graduated from Barnard with an art history degree in 1963, she debuted as a professional dancer with the Paul Taylor Dance Company.

The year before Tharp graduated from Barnard, she married a classmate, painter Peter Young. The marriage ended in divorce and was followed by Tharp’s second marriage, to artist Bob Huot. Tharp and Huot’s marriage too ended in divorce, but resulted in the birth of Tharp’s only child, a son named Jesse.

When Tharp was 23 years old, she started her own dance company. After struggling initially, the Twyla Tharp Dance Company took off in the early 1970s, with works such as Time Goes By (1973). Her first work to hit the Broadway stage was 1980’s When We Were Very Young. Tharp danced for the company until the mid-1980s, at which time she took a break from dancing to focus on choreographing—not only for the Twyla Tharp Dance Company, but also for movies and television. In 1987 the company temporarily disbanded.

Following her ballet company’s disbandment, Tharp joined the American Ballet Theatre to work as Mikhail Baryshnikov‘s artistic associate. In 1984, her TV special Baryshnikov by Tharp earned her two Emmy Awards. Tharp left the American Ballet Theatre in 1989, transferring her productions to the Boston Ballet and the Hubbard Street Dance Company in Chicago.

Tharp returned to dancing in 1991, and published her autobiography, Push Comes to Shove, the following year. In 1995 she rejoined the American Ballet Theatre as a choreographer, and staged a revision of American We (1995) and The Elements.

The revitalized Twyla Tharp Dance Company launched a wildly successful global tour from 1999 to 2003. In 2006, Tharp saw another of her pieces make it to Broadway: The Times They Are A-Changin’, inspired by Bob Dylan’s music.

 

Happy 99th Birthday Olivia de Havilland

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Today is the 99th birthday of one of the last living actors/actresses from the Golden Age of Hollywood:  Olivia de Havilland.  The world is a better place because she is in it.

NAME: Olivia de Havilland
OCCUPATION: Film Actress, Pin-up
BIRTH DATE: July01, 1916
PLACE OF BIRTH: Tokyo, Japan
Full Name: Olivia Mary de Havilland
AKA: Olivia de Havilland
ZODIAC SIGN: Gemini

Best Known For:  Best known as Melanie in Gone with the Wind, actress Olivia de Havilland won Academy Awards for her roles in To Each His Own and The Heiress.

Born in Tokyo, Japan, actress Olivia de Havilland spent much of her youth in California. She moved there with her mother and younger sister, Joan, after her parents divorced. De Havilland caught her big break in 1933 with her stage role. Performing at the famed Hollywood Bowl, she played Hermia in a Max Reinhardt production of William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

De Havilland earned the chance to reprise her role in 1935 film adaptation with Dick Powell and James Cagney. Along with her coveted part, she also landed a seven-year contract with Warner Brothers. The studio soon paired her with one of her frequent co-stars Errol Flynn. The duo first appeared together in the action-adventure tale Captain Blood (1935).

De Havilland continued to work with Errol Flynn, and they proved to be a popular on-screen couple. She played Maid Marian to his Robin Hood in 1938’s The Adventures of Robin Hood. While these films were entertaining, they did little to reveal de Havilland’s talents as a serious performer.

With 1939’s Gone with the Wind, movie audiences had their first real experience with de Havilland as a dramatic actress. This Civil War era drama, based on the Margaret Mitchell novel, proved to one of the top films of the year and has continued to enjoy enormous popularity since its release. De Havilland played the gentle and kind Melanie Hamilton opposite Vivien Leigh’s fiery Scarlett O’Hara. Both characters vied for the love of Ashley Wilkes (Leslie Howard), and Melanie won his heart. Scarlett eventually ended up with the dashing Rhett Butler (Clark Gable).

De Havilland earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress for her portrayal of Melanie, but she lost out to her fellow cast mate Hattie McDaniels. McDaniels became the first African American to win an Academy Award. Two years later, de Havilland scored another Academy Award nomination two years later for her role in the drama Hold Back the Dawn (1941) with Charles Boyer—this time as Best Actress. This time around, de Havilland lost out to her own sister who used the stage name of Joan Fontaine.

Over the years, de Havilland became increasingly frustrated with her situation at Warner Brothers. Good parts seemed to be few and far between, and she was relieved when her contract with the studio neared its end in 1943. Warner Brothers, however, subtracted time that she had been suspended while under contract and claimed that she owed them that time. Rather than comply, de Havilland battled Warner Brothers in court.

The case went all the way to the California Supreme Court in 1945, which reaffirmed a lower court ruling in favor of de Havilland. The case created the de Havilland rule, which limited the length of a contract to a maximum of seven calendar years. During her years away from the silver screen, de Havilland found work in radio and toured military hospitals to show her support to soldiers fighting in World War II.

After her hiatus, de Havilland quickly returned to top form with To Each His Own. Her turn as an unwed mother brought her the Academy Award for Best Actress. Delivering another impressive performance, de Havilland starred in 1948’s The Snake Pit. This film was one of the first to explore mental health issues, and de Havilland played a troubled woman who is sent to an insane asylum.

In The Heiress (1949), de Havilland lit up the screen as a wealthy young woman torn between her love (Montgomery Clift) and her father (Ralph Richardson). This adaptation of a Henry James story led to de Havilland’s second Best Actress Academy Award win. By the 1950s, de Havilland’s film career had slowed down.

Hush … Hush, Sweet Charlotte (1965) proved to be one of de Havilland’s more notable later roles. She shared the screen with fellow film legend Bette Davis in this acclaimed psychological thriller. In the 1970s, de Havilland appeared in the popular disaster film Airport ’77 and the killer bee horror movie The Swarm (1978) among other roles.

On the small screen, Olivia de Havilland made guest appearances on such programs as The Danny Thomas Hour and The Love Boat. She landed roles in such popular miniseries as Roots: The Next Generations (1979) and North and South, Book II (1986). Also in 1986, de Havilland had a supporting role in the television movie Anastasia: the Mystery of Anna, which earned her a Golden Globe Award.

With the dawning of the new century, de Havilland received another wave of accolades for her work. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences held a special tribute for her in 2006. Two years later, President George W. Bush gave de Havilland the National Medal of Arts. She earned the Legion of Honor award from French President Nicolas Sarkozy in 2010.

Olivia de Havilland lives in Paris, France, where she has resided since the mid-1950s. She has been married twice—first to writer Marcus Goodrich and later to Paris Match editor and journalist Pierre Galante. Both unions ended in divorce. With Goodrich, de Havilland had a son named Benjamin. Benjamin died in 1991. Her daughter, Gisele, from her marriage to Galante, works as a journalist in France.

Over the years, Havilland has been involved in one of Hollywood’s most longstanding feuds. She and her sister, Joan Fontaine, have reportedly not spoken to each other in decades.

Happy 98th Birthday Susan Hayward

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Today is the 98th birthday of the actress Susan Hayward.  I love her story, her drive, and her determination.  The world is a better place because she was in it and still feels the loss that she has left.

NAME: Susan Hayward
OCCUPATION: Film Actress, Pin-up
BIRTH DATE: June 30, 1917
DEATH DATE: March 14, 1975
PLACE OF BIRTH: Brooklyn, New York
PLACE OF DEATH: Hollywood, California
ORIGINALLY: Edythe Marrenner

BEST KNOWN FOR: Film actress Susan Hayward earned an Academy Award nomination as Best Actress for her role in Smash-Up, and later won for her performance in I Want to Live.

Born Edythe Marrener on June 30, 1917, to a poverty strickenfamily in Brooklyn, New York, Susan Hayward’s childhood was difficult. She was hit by a car at the age of 7 and stranded at home in a body cast for months. The experience left Hayward with limp and painful memories of a debility she would never forget.

Hayward’s life took an unexpected turn when she was cast as the lead in a school play at age 12. The attention she received quickly turned her into a compulsive star. By 1935, a sexy swagger had replaced Hayward’s childhood limp, and the gorgeous 17-year-old possessed an hourglass figure, a brassy Brooklyn accent and a burning desire for fortune and fame. She began working as a model to help support her family, and when she was featured in the Saturday Evening Post in 1937, all of America was introduced to the red-headed siren from Brooklyn. The same year, David O. Selznick offered Hayward an audition for the part of Scarlett O’Hara in Gone With the Wind. Though her lack of experience took her out of serious consideration, Hayward decided to trade in her return ticket and stay in Hollywood. After signing a contract with Warner Bros., she changed her name to Susan Hayward.

Hayward was driven to succeed as an actress and worked virtually non-stop. Offered the starring role in Smash-Up: The Story of a Woman in 1947, Hayward dazzled both audiences and critics, receiving her first Academy Award nomination as Best Actress. Hayward received four more nominations over the next 12 years, eventually winning for her work in the wildly successful I Want to Live in 1958. Sadly, the actress’s happiness was eclipsed by the death of her husband Eaton Chalkey. And in 1972, just as she was emerging from her despair, she was diagnosed with cancer.

Refusing to surrender to the illness without a fight, Susan Hayward even managed to present the Academy for Best Actress in 1974. On March 14, 1975, at age 57, the irrepressible Brooklyn Bombshell died, leaving behind legions of fans all over the world.

West End Blues

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louis armstrong

It was on this date in 1928 that Louis Armstrong and his band the Hot Five recordedWest End Blues.” Armstrong was 26 years old at the time and living in Chicago, where he’d been for six years. He’d moved there from New Orleans as part of Joe “King” Oliver‘s band; Oliver had been a friend and mentor to the young singer and trumpeter since Armstrong was a teenager. They parted ways in 1925. Oliver composed “West End Blues” and had just recorded his own version a few weeks earlier, but Armstrong’s cover, recorded in Chicago’s OKeh studio, is legendary. It features Earl “Fatha” Hines on piano, and it’s one of the first recorded examples of Armstrong’s trademark “scat” singing.

The recording took the jazz world by storm. An ecstatic audience carried Armstrong off the stage when he performed the song live one night. Composer Gunther Schuller wrote that the record “made it clear jazz could never again revert to being entertainment or folk music. The clarion call of ‘West End Blues’ served notice that jazz could compete with the highest order of musical expression. Like any profoundly creative innovation, [it] summarized the past and predicted the future.”

Rear View Mirror – My Week In Review

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This is my 72nd Week In Review that I have done. This week (or since my last update on June 8th), I have discovered more of my father’s story through the help of his high school classmates and some of the people he encountered on a daily basis. It has been amazing to get to see him as a person.

This week I got some more done on a tattoo that is on my neck. I will unveil it when it is not covered with bandages.

This week, I got my DNA test results from Ancestry.com. My father and his twin sister were adopted at birth. There was a lot of speculation as to the circumstances surrounding their adoption and even their heritage. Ancestry has identified several third cousins and even a possible first cousin and has also debunked the family story that they were descendants of Pocahontas. Only one person has replied to my inquiries, and they didn’t know of any family members that gave up twin babies. I will keep investigating. They also break down my nationality and I am 40% Western European, 31% Scandinavian, 11% Finish/Northwest Russian, 9% Irish, 4% British, 3% Spanish/Portegese, and 2% Asian (Caucasus and the various ‘stans). That is interesting. I also took the raw DNA data and ran it though a few tools to get my disease predisposition, they told me that my paternal bloodline originate about 22,000 years ago and is typical of people from Southeastern Europe.

This week on Waldina, I celebrated the birthdays of Cole Porter, Andre Derain, Paul Lynde, Brian Duffy, Margaret Bourke-White, Stravinsky, Wallis Simpson, Al Hirschfeld, Billy Wilder, Bob Fosse, George Orwell, Pear S. Buck and added Night on Earth to the required viewing film series.

The Stats:

Visits This Week: 2,420
Total Visits: 203,772
Total Subscribers: 404
Total Posts: 1,609
Most Popular Post Last Week: I Don’t Know His Story

This week (ok, month) 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: 169
Total Posts: 7,047
Total Subscribers: 364

Over on @TheRealSPA part of Twitter, I tweeted to @SoundTransit that perhaps decorating a train to look like a school bus would be fun. I have not yet received a response.

The Stats:

Total Tweets: 1,213 (tweets over 31 days old are automatically deleted to preserve freshness)
Total Followers: 606
Total Following: 742

This week on @TheRealSPA Instagram, I posted photos of most of the people whose birthdays I celebrated on Waldina, a photo of my tattoos and a pic of Scraps hiding in a bush. Too much.

The Stats:

Total Posts: 484
Total Followers: 193
Total Following: 251

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#
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Happy 123rd Birthday Pearl S. Buck

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Today is the 123rd of the author and Nobel Prize Winner Pearl S. Buck.  Her stories stand the test of time and help define an era.  Her life story alone is enough to become fascinated by her and want to know more.  Do yourself a favor and read some of her work this summer.  The world is a better place because she was in it and still feels the loss because she has left.

NAME: Pearl S. Buck
OCCUPATION: Civil Rights Activist, Women’s Rights Activist, Author
BIRTH DATE: June 26, 1892
DEATH DATE: March 06, 1973
PLACE OF BIRTH: Hillsboro, West Virginia
PLACE OF DEATH: Danby, Vermont
AKA: Sai Zhenzhu
ORIGINALLY: Pearl Comfort Sydenstricker

BEST KNOWN FOR: Pearl S. Buck was the first American woman to be awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. Her novel The Good Earth won the Pulitzer in 1932.

Today is the birthday of novelist Pearl S. Buck, born in Hillsboro, West Virginia (1892). Her parents were Christian missionaries in China who returned to America for Pearl’s birth. But when she was three months old, they headed back to China. Buck’s father, Absalom, was a fundamentalist Presbyterian preacher — and a distant father. In many of the villages where he traveled, he was the first white person the villagers had ever seen, and they were put off by him. They were unimpressed by his fire-and-brimstone sermons, and he estimated that he converted about 10 people over the course of 10 years. Still, he kept trying. Pearl’s mother, Caroline, resented being so far from her home in West Virginia. She tried her best to keep the mud walls and floors of their hut clean, and she planted American flowers everywhere. Finally, when Pearl was four, she told her husband that they were moving to a city or she was going home. So they moved to the city of Zhenjiang, but all they could afford there were three crowded rooms in an apartment in one of the poorest sections of the city, a district full of prostitutes and drug addicts. Absalom and Caroline receive a small stipend for their work as missionaries, but Absalom squandered much of the family’s budget on his pet project: translating the New Testament into Chinese. He spent 30 years working on it. Buck wrote: “He printed edition after edition, revising each to make it more perfect, and all her life [my mother] went poorer because of the New Testament. It robbed her of the tiny margin between bitter poverty and small comfort.

Chinese was Buck’s first language, and her nurse told her bedtime stories about dragons and tree spirits. As a young girl in the village, she wandered through the countryside. In the city, she and her brother explored the streets and markets, watching puppet shows and sampling food. She was embarrassed by her blue eyes and blond hair, but she didn’t let it hold her back. She enthusiastically joined in local celebrations, big funerals and parties.

When Buck was a teenager, her parents sent her to an English-language school for foreign girls like her. She did not fit in and was lonely, but fascinated by Shanghai. As a pupil, she was required to teach a knitting class at the Door of Hope, a shelter for girls and women who had been forced into prostitution and sex slavery. Usually, the white students from Miss Jewell’s did not speak Chinese, but since Buck did, the women there told her all their stories of rape, abuse, and violence.

After a year there, Buck went to Randolph-Macon Women’s College in Lynchburg, Virginia. She arrived as a total misfit. A woman named Emma Edmunds, a rural girl who became one of Buck’s best friends at college, said about that first day: “I saw this one girl and she looked even more countrified than me. Her dress was made of Chinese grass linen and nobody else had anything like that. It had a high neck and long sleeves, and her hair was in a braid turned under at the back.” But she cut her hair and bought some American clothes, and she managed to fit in well enough.

After college, Buck went back to China, where she met an American agricultural economist and missionary named John Lossing Buck. They were married, and in 1921 she gave birth to a daughter, Carol. But things began to fall apart. Her mother died not long after Carol was born, and her father moved in with the young couple. Her father and husband disliked each other, and increasingly, she didn’t like either of them very much. Her daughter, Carol, had a rare developmental disability. On top of everything, the political situation in China was so tense that at one point the Bucks had to hide in the basement of a peasant family’s home to escape Nationalist soldiers, and they ended up fleeing to Japan as refugees.

In 1929, Buck took nine-year-old Carol to an institution in New Jersey, where she hoped she would receive better care than Buck could provide — she called it “the hardest thing I ever did.” She didn’t have enough money to pay for the expensive tuition, so she borrowed money from a member of the Mission Board. Her marriage fell apart, and she was even more desperate for money, so she started writing. Her first novel was called East Wind, West Wind (1930), and she hoped it would cover the school fees, but it didn’t sell well. The following year she published The Good Earth (1931), chronicling the dramatic life of a Chinese peasant farmer named Wang Lung from his wedding day through his old age. The Good Earth was a huge best-seller, and Buck won the Pulitzer Prize and, a few years later, the Nobel Prize in literature.

In her Nobel acceptance speech, she said: ” My earliest knowledge of story, of how to tell and write stories, came to me in China. […] Story belongs to the people. They are sounder judges of it than anyone else, for their senses are unspoiled and their emotions are free.”

Happy Birthday George Orwell

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Today is the 111th birthday of the little boy who’s first word was “beastly” and became George Orwell.  For some reason, they showed the animated version of Animal Farm in school.  I remember finding it exceptionally disturbing, which is the correct response, but I also remember thinking that it was a strange thing to show grade school children.  The first time I read 1984 was in 1984.  My grandmother was the librarian at our local public library at the time and it was one of the most popular books of the year, so she said I needed to read it quickly because people were waiting.  I have read it since and think I probably missed a lot the first time around.  I have included full length videos of both below.  The world is a better place because he was in it and still feels the loss than he left.

NAME: George Orwell
OCCUPATION: Author, Journalist
BIRTH DATE: June 25, 1903
DEATH DATE: January 21, 1950
EDUCATION: Eton
PLACE OF BIRTH: Motihari, India
PLACE OF DEATH: London, United Kingdom

BEST KNOWN FOR: George Orwell was an English novelist, essayist, and critic most famous for his novels Animal Farm (1945) and Nineteen Eighty-four (1949).

Born Eric Arthur Blair, George Orwell created some of the sharpest satirical fiction of the 20th century with such works as Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-Four. He was a man of strong opinions who addressed some of the major political movements of his times, including imperialism, fascism and communism.

The son of a British civil servant, George Orwell spent his first days in India, where his father was stationed. His mother brought him and his older sister, Marjorie, to England about a year after his birth and settled in Henley-on-Thames. His father stayed behind in India and rarely visited. (His younger sister, Avril, was born in 1908.) Orwell didn’t really know his father until he retired from the service in 1912. And even after that, the pair never formed a strong bond. He found his father to be dull and conservative.

According to one biography, Orwell’s first word was “beastly.” He was a sick child, often battling bronchitis and the flu. Orwell was bit by the writing bug at an early age, reportedly composing his first poem around the age of four. He later wrote, “I had the lonely child’s habit of making up stories and holding conversations with imaginary persons, and I think from the very start my literary ambitions were mixed up with the feeling of being isolated and undervalued.” One of his first literary successes came at the age of 11 when he had a poem published in the local newspaper.

Like many other boys in England, Orwell was sent to boarding school. In 1911 he went to St. Cyprian’s in the coastal town of Eastbourne, where he got his first taste of England’s class system. On a partial scholarship, Orwell noticed that the school treated the richer students better than the poorer ones. He wasn’t popular with his peers, and in books he found comfort from his difficult situation. He read works by Rudyard Kipling and H. G. Wells, among others. What he lacked in personality, he made up for in smarts. Orwell won scholarships to Wellington College and Eton College to continue his studies.

After completing his schooling at Eton, Orwell found himself at a dead end. His family did not have the money to pay for a university education. Instead he joined the India Imperial Police Force in 1922. After five years in Burma, Orwell resigned his post and returned to England. He was intent on making it as a writer.

After leaving the India Imperial Force, Orwell struggled to get his writing career off the ground. His first major work, Down and Out in Paris and London, (1933) explored his time eking out a living in these two cities. Orwell took all sorts of jobs to make ends meet, including being a dishwasher. The book provided a brutal look at the lives of the working poor and of those living a transient existence. Not wishing to embarrass his family, the author published the book under the pseudonym George Orwell.

Sometimes called the conscience of a generation, Orwell next explored his overseas experiences in Burmese Days, published in 1934. The novel offered a dark look at British colonialism in Burma, then part of the country’s Indian empire. Orwell’s interest in political matters grew rapidly after this novel was published. Also around this time, he met Eileen O’Shaughnessy. The pair married in 1936, and Eileen supported and assisted Orwell in his career.

In 1937, Orwell traveled to Spain, where he joined one of the groups fighting against General Francisco Franco in the Spanish Civil War. Orwell was badly injured during his time with a militia, getting shot in the throat and arm. For several weeks, he was unable to speak. Orwell and his wife, Eileen, were indicted on treason charges in Spain. Fortunately, the charges were brought after the couple had left the country.

Other health problems plagued the talented writer not long after his return to England. For years, Orwell had periods of sickness, and he was officially diagnosed with tuberculosis in 1938. He spent several months at the Preston Hall Sanatorium trying to recover, but he would continue to battle with tuberculosis for the rest of his life. At the time he was initially diagnosed, there was no effective treatment for the disease.

To support himself, Orwell took on all sorts of writing work. He wrote numerous essays and reviews over the years, developing a reputation for producing well-crafted literary criticism. In 1941, Orwell landed a job with the BBC as a producer. He developed news commentary and shows for audiences in the eastern part of the British Empire. Orwell enticed such literary greats as T. S. Eliot and E. M. Forster to appear on his programs. With World War II raging on, Orwell found himself acting as a propagandist to advance the country’s side. He loathed this part of his job and resigned in 1943. Around this time, Orwell became the literary editor for a socialist newspaper.

Orwell is best known for two novels, Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-Four, both of which were published toward the end of his life. Animal Farm (1945) was an anti-Soviet satire in a pastoral setting featuring two pigs as its main protagonists. These pigs were said to represent Josef Stalin and Leon Trotsky. The novel brought Orwell great acclaim and financial rewards.

In 1949, Orwell published another masterwork, Nineteen Eighty-Four (or 1984 in later editions). This bleak vision of the world divided into three oppressive nations stirred up controversy among reviewers, who found this fictional future too despairing. In the novel, Orwell gave readers a glimpse into what would happen if the government controlled every detail of a person’s life, down to their own private thoughts.

Nineteen Eighty-Four proved to be another huge success for the author, but he had little time to enjoy it. By this time, Orwell was in the late stages of his battle with tuberculosis. He died on January 21, 1950, in a London hospital. He may have passed away all too soon, but his ideas and opinions have lived on through his work. Both Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-Four have been turned into films and have enjoyed tremendous popularity over the years.

Orwell was married to Eileen O’Shaughnessy until her death in 1945. According to several reports, the pair had an open marriage. Orwell had a number of dalliances during this first marriage. In 1944 the couple adopted a son, whom they named Richard Horatio Blair, after one of Orwell’s ancestors. Their son was largely raised by Orwell’s sister Avril after Eileen’s death.

Near the end of his life, Orwell proposed to editor Sonia Brownell. He married her in 1950, only a short time before his death. Brownell inherited Orwell’s estate and made a career out of managing his legacy.

Night on Earth – Required Viewing

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If it has been a while since you have seen this film, you should really consider watching it again, it is brilliant.  I mean, Jim fucking Jarmusch, come on.  I first remember reading a review of this film when it was in theaters and being so intrigued and excited.  So many great people are in it and the stories are so touching, you will smile the whole way through.  night-on-earth

Night on Earth is a 1991 film written and directed by Jim Jarmusch. It is a collection of five vignettes, taking place during the same night, concerning the temporary bond formed between taxi driver and passenger in five cities: Los Angeles, New York, Paris, Rome, and Helsinki. Jarmusch wrote the screenplay in about eight days, and the choice of certain cities was largely based on the actors with whom he wanted to work. The soundtrack of the same name is by Tom Waits.

Los Angeles

As evening falls, tomboy cabby Corky (Winona Ryder) picks up Hollywood executive Victoria Snelling (Gena Rowlands) from the airport, and as Corky drives, Victoria tries to conduct business over the phone. Despite their extreme differences socially, the two develop a certain connection. Sometime during the ride Victoria, who is evidently a talent scout or casting director, discovers that Corky would be ideal for a part in a movie she is casting, but Corky rejects the offer, as she has plans to become a mechanic.

New York

Helmut Grokenberger (Armin Mueller-Stahl), an East German immigrant who was once a clown in his home country, now works in New York as a taxi driver. He picks up a passenger named YoYo (Giancarlo Esposito), a streetwise young man, and attempts to drive him to Brooklyn. Helmut does not really know how to drive with an automatic transmission so he allows YoYo to drive. On their way, they pick up YoYo’s sister-in-law Angela (Rosie Perez). The story revolves around Helmut’s attempts to understand and become a part of the culture of New York.

Paris

A blind woman (Béatrice Dalle) goes for a ride at night with a driver (Isaach De Bankolé) from the Ivory Coast. They both take some verbal jabs at each other during the ride. The driver asks his passenger what it’s like to be blind and she attempts to explain to him, but their cultural differences and differences of life experience make things difficult. After he drops off his blind passenger, he feels fascinated by her and gazes in her direction. This inattention to driving causes him to crash into another car, whose driver angrily accuses him of being blind. An ironic twist at the end of the segment turns upon a French pun near the beginning of it: When the driver states his nationality as “Ivoirien,” some other Africans mock him with the punning phrase “Y voit rien” (he can’t see anything).

Rome

In the early morning hours, an eccentric cabbie (Roberto Benigni) picks up a priest (Paolo Bonacelli). As he drives, he starts to confess his sins. Much to the priest’s discomfort, he goes into great detail about how he discovered his sexuality first with a pumpkin and then with a sheep, then details a love affair he had with his brother’s wife. The already-ailing priest is shocked by the confession, and has a fatal heart attack.

Helsinki

After an evening spent drinking heavily, three workers, one of whom has just been fired from his job (Kari Väänänen, Sakari Kuosmanen, and Tomi Salmela), climb into a cab to return home. On the way, the workers talk about the terrible situation their now-unconscious friend is in, by being out of work and having to face a divorce and a pregnant daughter. The driver, Mika (Matti Pellonpää), then tells them all the saddest story they have ever heard. The workers are terribly moved and depressed by the story, and even become unsympathetic toward their drunken, laid-off companion. As they arrive home, the sun is beginning to rise.

Happy Birthday Bob Fosse

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Today is the 88th birthday of the choreographer Bob Fosse.  I am partial to Sweet Charity, but Cabaret is pretty much perfection.  He helped propel dance into the widely-recognized and appreciated art form that it is today.  The world is a better place because he was in it and still feels the loss that he has left.

NAME: Bob Fosse
OCCUPATION: Director, Choreographer
BIRTH DATE: June 23, 1927
DEATH DATE: September 23, 1987
PLACE OF BIRTH: Chicago, Illinois
PLACE OF DEATH: Washington, D.C.

BEST KNOWN FOR: Bob Fosse is a choreographer, dancer and director best known for Tony Award-winning musicals including Chicago and Cabaret.

Choreographer Robert Louis Fosse was born in Chicago, Illinois, on June 23, 1927. Fosse took an early interest in dance, displaying unusual skill. His parents supported his interest, enrolling him in formal dance training. By his early teens, Fosse was dancing professionally in local nightclubs. It was here that he was first exposed to the themes of vaudeville and burlesque performance.

Fosse enlisted in the Navy after graduating from high school in 1945. He was still in boot camp when the war came to an end. After fulfilling his military requirement, Fosse settled in New York City and continued to pursue dance. He married and divorced twice while struggling to establish his career.

The first few parts that Fosse landed were as part of a Broadway chorus. In 1953 he appeared briefly in the MGM movie musical Kiss Me Kate (1953). His work attracted the attention of Broadway director George Abbott and choreographer Jerome Robbins.

Fosse choreographed the 1954 show, Pajama Game, which was directed by George Abbott. Fosse’s signature style, which incorporated complex moves and imagery drawn from vaudeville, was instantly popular. Pajama Game earned him his first Tony Award for Best Choreography.

His next musical, Damn Yankees, was another smash. Fosse forged a working relationship with leading dancer Gwen Verdon that would span his career. The two married in 1960 and had a daughter, Nicole.

Hugely successful by 1960, Fosse still faced opposition from director and producers who considered his material was too suggestive. He decided to take on the role of director as well as choreographer in order to maintain the integrity of his artistic vision in Hollywood as well as on Broadway. His subsequent musicals included Sweet Charity, Cabaret and Pippin. The 1972 film version of Cabaret (1972) won eight Academy Awards. Fosse won Tony Awards for direction and choreography for his work on Pippin: His Life and Times (1981). He also won an Emmy for his staging of the television variety show Liza with a Z (1972).

Fosse wrote three additional stage musicals before his death. He survived a heart attack, suffered during rehearsals for Chicago, to write and choreograph the autobiographical film All That Jazz. His later productions were not as successful as earlier work. Big Deal, Fosse’s last musical, was particularly poorly received.

Fosse suffered a heart attack in Washington, D.C., outside of the Willard Hotel on September 23, 1987, and died before reaching the hospital. Fosse remains one of the most distinctive and influential choreographers in history, remembered through Broadway revivals and screenings of his work.

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