Happy Birthday Vermeer

The artist Jan Vermeer was born 328 years ago today (give a day or two).  Halloween is his official birthdate, but that ‘c.’ leads me to believe it is an educated guess.

NAME: Jan Vermeer
BIRTH DATE: c. October 31, 1632
DEATH DATE: c. December 16, 1675
PLACE OF BIRTH: Delft, Netherlands
PLACE OF DEATH: Delft, Netherlands

BEST KNONW FOR: Dutch Golden-Age artist Jan Vermeer is best known for his Delft paintings including “Little Street,” “View of Delft” and his late “pearl pictures” like “The Concert.”

Born in Delft, Netherlands, circa October 31, 1632, Johannes Vermeer is one of the most highly regarded Dutch artists of all time. His works have been a source of inspiration and fascination for centuries, but much of his life remains a mystery. His father, Reynier, came from a family of craftsmen in the town of Delft, and his mother, Digna, had a Flemish background.

After his baptismal record at a local church, Vermeer seems to disappear for nearly 20 years. He likely had a Calvinist upbringing. His father worked as a tavern keeper and an art merchant, and Vermeer inherited both of these business upon his father’s death in 1652. The following year, Vermeer married Catherina Bolnes. Bolnes was Catholic, and Vermeer converted to her faith. The couple moved in with her mother, and would eventually have 11 children together.

In 1653, Jan Vermeer registered with the Delft Guild as a master painter. There’s no record of who he may have apprenticed under, or whether he studied locally or abroad. Vermeer definitely had at least a friendship with leading Delft painter Leonard Bramer, who became one of his early supporters. Some experts also believe that Vermeer may have been influenced by the works of Rembrandt through one of Rembrandt’s students, Carel Fabritius.

The influence of Caravaggio is apparent in Vermeer’s early works, including “The Procuress” (1656). The painter also explored mythology in “Diana and Her Companions” (1655-56) and religion in “Christ in the House of Mary and Martha” (c. 1655). By the end of the decade, Vermeer’s unique style began to emerge.

Many of Vermeer’s masterworks focus on domestic scenes, including “The Milkmaid” (c. 1657-58). This depiction of a woman in the midst of her work showcases two of his trademarks: his realistic renderings of figures and objects, and his fascination with light. Many of his works have a luminous quality, including the portrait “Girl with a Pearl Earring” (1665). This captivating portrait of a young woman inspired the 1999 novel Girl with a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier, as well as a 2003 film adaptation of this book.

Vermeer enjoyed some success in Delft, selling his works to a small number of local collectors. He also served as head of the local artistic guild for a time. However, Vermeer was not well-known outside of his community during his lifetime.

Jan Vermeer struggled financially in his final years, due in large part to the fact that the Dutch economy had suffered terribly after the country was invaded by France in 1672. Vermeer was deeply indebted by the time of his death; he died in Delft circa December 16, 1675.

Since his passing, Vermeer has become a world-renowned artist, and his works have been hung in many prominent museums around the globe. Despite how much he is admired today, Vermeer left behind a small legacy in terms of actual works—approximately 36 paintings have been officially attributed to the painter.

Happy Birthday Ezra Pound

Today is the birthday of Ezra Pound, born 129 years ago in Hailey, Idaho . He was known as “the poet’s poet” because he was so generous about promoting the work of other writers — including James Joyce, William Carlos Williams, D.H. Lawrence, Marianne Moore, Hilda Doolittle, and T.S. Eliot.  The world is a better place because he was in it and feels the loss since he has left it.

NAME: Ezra Pound
OCCUPATION: Journalist, Poet
BIRTH DATE: October 30, 1885
DEATH DATE: November 01, 1972
EDUCATION: Cheltenham Military Academy, University of Pennsylvania, Hamilton College
PLACE OF BIRTH: Hailey, Idaho
PLACE OF DEATH: Venice, Italy

Best Known For:  Poet Ezra Pond authored more than 70 books and promoted many other now-famous writers, including James Joyce and T.S. Eliot.

The Wiki:

Poet Ezra Pound was born on October 30, 1885, in Hailey, Idaho. He studied literature and languages in college and in 1908 left for Europe, where he published several successful books of poetry. Pound advanced a “modern” movement in English and American literature. His pro-Fascist broadcasts in Italy during World War II led to his arrest and confinement until 1958.

One of the 20th century’s most influential voices in American and English literature, Ezra Pound was born in the small mining town of Hailey, Idaho, on October 30, 1885. The only child of Homer Loomis Pound, a Federal Land Office official, and his wife, Isabel, Ezra spent the bulk of his childhood just outside Philadelphia, where his father had moved the family after accepting a job with the U.S. Mint. His childhood seems to have been a happy one. He eventually attended Cheltenham Military Academy, staying there two years before leaving to finish his high school education at a local public school.

In 1901, Pound enrolled at the University of Pennsylvania, but left after two years and transferred to Hamilton College in Clinton, New York, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in philosophy. By this time, Pound knew full well that he wanted to be a poet. At the age of 15, he had told his parents as much. Though his chosen vocation certainly wasn’t something he had inherited directly from his more conventional mother and father, Homer and Isabel were supportive of their son’s choice.

In 1907, after finishing college, Pound accepted a teaching job at Indiana’s Wabash College. But the fit between the artistic, somewhat bohemian poet and the formal institution was less than perfect, and Pound soon left.

His next move proved to be more daring. In 1908, with just $80 in his pocket, he set sail for Europe, and landed in Venice brimming with confidence that he would soon make a name for himself in the world of poetry. With his own money, Pound paid for the publication of his first book of poems, “A Lume Spento.”

Despite the face that the work did not create the kind of fireworks he had hoped for, it did open some important doors for him. In late 1908, Pound traveled to London, where he befriended the influential writer and editor Ford Madox Ford, as well as William Butler Yeats. His friendship with Yeats in particular was a close one, and Pound eventually took a job as the writer’s secretary, and later served as best man at his wedding.

In 1909, Pound found the kind of success as a writer that he had wanted. Over the next year, he produced three books, “Personae,” “Exultations” and “The Spirit of Romance,” the last one based on the lectures he had given in London. All three books were warmly received. Wrote one reviewer: Pound “is that rare thing among modern poets, a scholar.”

In addition, Pound wrote numerous reviews and critiques for a variety of publications, such as New Age, the Egoist, and Poetry. As his friend T.S. Eliot would later note, “During a crucial decade in the history of modern literature, approximately 1912–1922, Pound was the most influential and in some ways the best critic in England or America.”

In 1912, Pound helped create a movement that he and others called “Imagism,” which signaled a new literary direction for the poet. At the core of Imagism, was a push to set a more direct course with language, shedding the sentiment that had so wholly shaped Victorian and Romantic poetry.

Precision and economy were highly valued by Pound and the other proponents of the movement, which included F.S. Flint, William Carlos Williams, Amy Lowell, Richard Aldington, and Hilda Doolittle. With its focus on the “thing” as the “thing,” Imagism reflected the changes happening in other art forms,  most notably painting and the Cubists.

Pound’s maxims included, “Do not retell in mediocre verse what has already been done in good prose” and “Use no superfluous word, no adjective which does not reveal something.” But Pound’s connection to Imagism was short-lived. After just a few years, he stepped aside, frustrated when he couldn’t secure total control of the movement from Lowell and the others.

Pound’s influence extended in other directions. He had an incredible eye for talent and tirelessly promoted writers whose works he felt demanded attention. He introduced the world to up-and-coming poets like Robert Frost and D.H. Lawrence, and was T.S. Eliot’s editor. In fact, it was Pound who edited Eliot’s “The Waste Land,” which many consider to be one of the greatest poems produced during the modernist era.

Over the years, Pound and Eliot would become great friends. Early in his career, when Eliot abandoned his graduate studies in philosophy at Oxford, it was Pound who wrote the young poet’s parents to break the news to them.

Pound’s lineup of friends also included the Irish novelist James Joyce, whom he helped introduce to publishers and find landing spots in magazines for several of the stories in “The Dubliners” and “A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.” During Joyce’s leanest years, Pound helped him with money and even, it is said, helped secure for him an old pair of shoes to wear.

Pound’s own work continued to flourish as well. The years immediately following World War I saw the production of two of his most admired works, “Homage to Sextus Propertius” (1919) and the 18-part “Hugh Selwyn Mauberley” (1921), the latter of which tackled a wide range of subjects, from the artist and society to the horrors of mass production and World War I.

In late 1920, after 12 years in London, Pound left England for a new start in Paris. But his tolerance for French life, it seems, was limited. In 1924, tired of the Parisian scene, Pound moved again, this time settling in the Italian city of Rapallo, where he would remain for the next two decades. It was here that Pound’s life changed significantly. In 1925, he had a daughter, Maria, with American violinist Olga Rudge, and the following year he had a son, Omar, with his wife, Dorothy.

Professionally, Pound had turned his full attention to “The Cantos,” an ambitious long- form poem he had begun in 1915. A work he self described as his “poem including history,” “The Cantos” revealed Pound’s interest in economics and in the world’s changing financial landscape in the wake of World War I.

The first section of the poem was published in 1925, with later editions appearing later (“Eleven New Cantos,” 1934; “The Fifth Decade of Cantos,” 1937; “Cantos LII-LXXI,” 1940).

As Pound’s interest in economics and economic history increased, he showed his support for the theories of Major C.H. Douglas, the founder of Social Credit, an economic theory that believed that the poor distribution of wealth was due to insufficient purchasing power on the part of governments. Pound began to see a world of injustice shaped by international bankers, whose manipulation of money led to wars and conflict.

Pound’s impassioned feelings on the matter soon led him to support the Italian dictator, Benito Mussolini. In 1939, Pound visited the United States in the hope that he could help prevent war between his native country and his adopted one. But success eluded him, and upon his return to Italy, Pound set out recording hundreds of broadcasts for Rome Radio in which he threw his support behind Mussolini, condemned the United States, and claimed that a group of Jewish bankers had directed America into war.

In 1945, partisans arrested Pound and handed him over to U.S. Forces, who held him for six months at a detention center outside Pisa. He was then flown back to the United States to stand trial for treason, but was found to be insane and was directed to St. Elizabeths Hospital in Washington DC, where he remained until 1958.

Pound’s exact state of mind during this time has come into question over the years. In the early 1980s, a full decade after Pound’s death, a professor of American Institutions at the University of Wisconsin presented evidence that Pound was indeed sane enough to stand trial for treason. However, it was certainly true that Pound was healthy enough to work. During his imprisonment in Italy he finished the “Pisan Cantos,” which The New York Times praised as “among the masterpieces of the century.”

Pound continued to write during his confinement at St. Elizabeths as well. There he completed additional sections of his long poem, “Section: Rock-Drill,” published in 1955, and “Thrones,” which appeared in 1959.

In 1958, Robert Frost spearheaded a successful campaign to free Pound from the comfortable confines of St. Elizabeths. Pound returned to Italy immediately, and in 1969,  published “Drafts and Fragments of Cantos CX-CXVII.”

Publicly, Pound spoke little about his work, but on the rare occasion he did, he described “The Cantos” as a failed work of poetry. Whether Pound truly felt that way about his defining work is often debated.

Pound passed away in Venice in 1972 and was buried on the cemetery island Isole di San Michele. Over the course of his long, productive lifetime, Pound published 70 books of his own writing, had a hand in some 70 others, and authored more than 1,500 articles.

Journal Entry July 23, 1989

The cover of the first journal.  Dated 7.12,89 - 8.2.89

The cover of the first journal. Dated 7.12,89 – 8.2.89

I love that I immediately started to merge words and visuals.  The early journal entries are painfully boring to read.  I had not learned to edit and organize my thoughts.  It is lengthy and really really boring to re-read.  I wrote it and I was bored.  So, I am skipping a lot of it and just hitting the highlights.

Occasionally, at Interlochen Arts Camp, we were required to work overnight when changing from one play to another.  There was a lot of sitting around waiting to be needed.  I would write and clearly, I would run out of things to write and would just copy entire furniture ads.  I have no idea why.

Journal 7.23.89

Journal 7.23.89

I went on to copy ads out of the yellow pages and timed how long I could hold my breath (26 seconds).


Happy Birthday Bob Ross

Today is the 72nd birthday of the artist and public television personality Bob Ross.  There is a generation of people that watched The Joy of Painting sincerely (not ironically) and sincerely loved it.  The world is a better place because he was in it and feels the loss that he now isn’t.


NAME: Bob Ross
OCCUPATION: Painter, Television Personality
BIRTH DATE: October 29, 1942
DEATH DATE: July 04, 1995
PLACE OF BIRTH: Daytona Beach, Florida
PLACE OF DEATH: New Smyrna Beach, Florida

Best Known For:  Known for his fast and easy “wet-on-wet” painting technique, Bob Ross reached millions of art lovers with his popular television program The Joy of Painting.

Bob Ross, television’s famous painting instructor, was born Robert Norman Ross in Daytona, Florida, on October 29, 1942. He was raised in Orlando, Florida. After dropping out of school in the ninth grade, Ross served in the U.S. Air Force. During his service, he took his first painting lesson at an Anchorage, Alaska United Service Organizations club. From that point on, he was “hooked,” a term he would use frequently during his years as a painting instructor.

After returning from the Air Force, Ross attended various art schools until he learned the technique of “wet-on-wet” from William Alexander (later his bitter rival), where oil paints are applied directly on top of one another to produce complete paintings (mostly landscapes) in less than an hour. Ross taught wet-on-wet to several friends and colleagues, and in the early 1980s, he was given his on show on PBS based on the technique.

bob ross 2

Ross’s instructional program, The Joy of Painting, premiered in 1983 on PBS, where it would run for more than a decade and attract millions of viewers. As a TV painting instructor, Ross became known for his light humor and gentle demeanor, as well as his ability to complete a painting in 30 minutes. The Joy of Painting would eventually be carried by more than 275 stations, spawning an empire that would include videos, how-to books, art supplies and certified Bob Ross instructors.

The Joy of Painting was canceled in 1994 so that Ross could focus on his health; the famous TV instructor and host had been diagnosed with lymphoma around that same time.

Ross died from lymphoma at the age of 52, on July 4, 1995, in New Smyrna Beach, Florida. The majority of his original oil paintings were donated to charities or to PBS stations. Today, Ross remains one of the best-known and highest-paid American painters. His legacy lives on through a number of facets, including a fan-based Twitter page of more than 15,000 followers.

Happy Birthday Edith Head

Today is the 117th birthday of the woman who made more influence on mid-century fashion than all the fashion designers of the time combined:  Edith Head.  If you are a fan of classic movies and pay attention to scenery and costuming, you already know her. She had THE influence on American style before clothing designers were known. A quick search for her on IMDB will soon have you realizing that her touch was added to most of the films that you know and love.


NAME: Edith Head
OCCUPATION: Fashion Designer
BIRTH DATE: October 28, 1897
DEATH DATE: October 24, 1981
PLACE OF BIRTH: San Bernardino, California
PLACE OF DEATH: Hollywood, California

Best Known For:  Edith Head was one of the most prolific costume designers in 20th century film, winning a record eight Academy Awards.

Edith Head (born October 28, 1897) became chief designer at Paramount Pictures in 1933 and later worked at Universal. Hollywood’s best-known designer, her costumes ranged from the elegantly simple to the elaborately flamboyant. She won a record eight Academy Awards for her work in films such as All About Eve (1950), Roman Holiday (1953), and The Sting (1973).

She became chief designer at Paramount Pictures in 1933 and later worked at Universal. Hollywood’s best-known designer, she was noted for the wide range of her costumes, from the elegantly simple to the elaborately flamboyant. She won a record eight Academy Awards for her work in films such as All About Eve (1950), Roman Holiday (1953), and The Sting (1973).

“Your dresses should be tight enough to show you’re a woman and loose enough to show you’re a lady.” – Edith Head

As part of a series of stamps issued by the U.S. Postal Service in February 2003, commemorating the behind-the-camera personnel who make movies, Head was featured on one to honor costume design.

The band They Might Be Giants recorded the song “She Thinks She’s Edith Head,” which was included in the 1999 album Long Tall Weekend and the 2001 album Mink Car. The song is about a girl from the singer’s past, who had changed her persona to be more sophisticated, and compares her new attitude to Head and longtime Cosmopolitan editor-in-chief Helen Gurley Brown.

“You can have whatever you want if you dress for it.” ― Edith Head

To many viewers of the 2004 Pixar/Disney computer-animated film The Incredibles, the personality and mannerisms of the film’s fictional superhero costume designer Edna Mode suggest a colorful caricature of Edith Head. Edna Mode’s sense of style, round glasses, and assertive no-nonsense character are very likely a direct homage to Head’s legendary accomplishments and personal traits. But the film’s director, Brad Bird, has not yet confirmed or denied this.


Happy Birthday Elsa Lanchester

Today is Elsa Lanchester‘s 111st birthday.  I tried to include a wide range of photos because if you are like me, you will have had no idea that the Bride of Frankenstein was the same woman as one of your favorite episodes of To Catch A Thief.  Range and longevity are unique in her line of work.  The more I have been learning about her life and career, the more I simply adore her.  Raise a glass and toast Elsa Lanchester on her birthday and see if you can learn a bit from her life.  She really really lived it.

Name: Elsa Lanchester
Born: October 28, 1902, Lewisham, London, United Kingdom
Died: December 26, 1986, Motion Picture & Television Country House and Hospital, CA
Spouse: Charles Laughton (m. 1929–1962)

Elsa Sullivan Lanchester was born into an unconventional a family at the turn of the 20th century. Her parents, James “Shamus” Sullivan and Edith “Biddy” Lanchester, were socialists – very active members of the Social Democratic Federation (SDF) in a rather broad sense and did not believe in the institution of marriage and being tied to any conventions of legality for that matter. Her mother had actually been committed to an asylum in 1895 by her father and older brothers because of her unmarried state with James. The incident received worldwide press as the “Lanchester Kidnapping Case.”

Elsa had a great desire to become a classical dancer and to that end at age 10 her mother enrolled her at the famed Isadora Duncan’s Bellevue School in Paris in 1912. But the uncertainties of WW1 brought her home after only two years. At age 12, she was sent to a co-educational boarding school in Kings Langley, Hertfordshire, England, to teach dance classes in exchange for her education and board. In 1918, she was hired as a dance teacher at Margaret Morris’s school on the Isle of Wight.

Next to dance, she loved the music halls of the period, so in 1920 she debuted in a music hall act as an Egyptian dancer. About the same time she founded the Children’s Theater in Soho, London and taught there for several years. She made her stage debut in 1922 in the West End play Thirty Minutes in a Street. In 1924 she and her partner, Harold Scott, opened a London nightclub called the Cave of Harmony. They performed one-act plays by Pirandello and Chekhov and sang cabaret songs. She would later collect and record these and many others. The spot was frequented by literati like Aldous Huxley, H.G. Wells and also James Whale, working in London theater and soon to be directing on Broadway and Hollywood’s most famous horror films. Lanchester kept busy including, on her own admission, posing nude for artists. During a 1926 comic performance in the Midnight Follies at London’s Metropole, a member of the British Royal family walked out as she sang, “Please Sell No More Drink to My Father”. She closed her nightclub in 1928 as her film career began in earnest.

Perhaps not beautiful in the more conventional sense, Lanchester was certainly pretty as a young woman with a turned-up nose that gave her a pert, impish expression, all the more striking with her large, expressive dark eyes and full lips. She had a lithe figure that she carried with the assuredness of her dancing background. Her voice was bright and distinctive, and had a delightful rush and trill that had an almost Scottish burr quality. What clicked on stage would do the same in the movies.

Her first film appearance was actually in an amateur movie by friend and author Evelyn Waugh called The Scarlet Woman: An Ecclesiastical Melodrama (1925). Her formal film debut was in the British movie One of the Best (1927). She continued stage work and became associated in 1927 with a rather self-possessed but keenly dedicated actor, Charles Laughton. He appeared with her in three of four films Lanchester did in 1928. Three of these were written for her by H.G. Wells). They did a few plays as well and wed in 1929. According to Lancester, after two years, she discovered he was homosexual but they remained married until his death in 1962. Lanchester declared in a 1958 interview that she kept to a separate career path from her husband. They were never an on-screen team but appeared together on occasion — moving through 1931 with several smart play-like films including Potiphar’s Wife (1931) with Laurence Olivier. She had done the play Payment Deferred in London in 1930 and followed it to Broadway in 1931.

MGM offered her a contract in 1932. In 1933 Alexander Korda was casting his The Private Life of Henry VIII. (1933) and decided that Laughton was the perfect choice – and his wife would be just as perfect as one of Henry’s six wives. Elsa’s versatility pointed to a part with some comedic elements and fitting more into a caricature. She looked most like Hans Holbein’s famous portrait of Anne of Cleves (Henry’s fourth wife who was actually somewhat more homely than the painter depicted). In costume Lanchester was charming if not striking. Her interpretation of Anne was a perfect integration with herself, and her scene with Laughton informally playing cards on the marriage bed and deciding on annulment is a highpoint of the movie.

Of course, it would be hard to mention her film career of the 1930s without mentioning the one role that would forever dog her, The Bride of Frankenstein (1935). Having come to Hollywood with Laughton in 1932 (but not permanently until 1939), Lanchester did only a few films up to 1935 and was disappointed enough with Hollywood’s reception to return to London for a respite. She was quickly called back by old friend from London, stage and film associate James Whale, now the noted director of Frankenstein (1931) and The Invisible Man (1933). He wanted her for two parts in Bride: author Mary Shelley and the bride. A central joke of the movie build-up was the tag lines: “WHO will be The Bride of Frankenstein? WHO will dare?”

Indeed, it was no honeymoon for her. For some ten days, Lanchester was wrapped in yards of bandage and covered in heavy makeup. The stand-on-end hairdo was accomplished by combing it over a wire mesh cage. Lanchester was in real agony with her eyes kept taped wide open for long takes – and it showed in her looks of horror. Her monster’s screaming and hissing sounds (based on the sounds of Regents Park swans in London) were taped and then run backward to spook-up the effect. She was delightfully melodramatic and picturesque as Wollstonecraft, and her bride would become iconic. Many have considered The Bride of Frankenstein (1935) the best of the golden age horror movies.

Lanchester stood out in her next movie with Laughton the next year, Korda’s dark Rembrandt (1936), but she only did a few more films for the remainder of the decade. Through the 1940s she was doubly busy – a couple of films per year while regenerating her beloved musical revue sketches. She performed for 10 years at the Turnabout Theater in Hollywood, using old London music hall/cabaret songs and others written for her. Later she would have to split her time further doing a similar act at a supper club called The Bar of Music. By the later 1940s she had become rather matronly, and the roles would settle appropriately. But she always lent her sparkle, as with her charming maid Matilda in The Bishop’s Wife (1947). She would be nominated for best supporting actress in Come to the Stable (1949).

She entered the 1950s busy with road touring of her nightclub act with pianist J. Raymond Henderson (who went by “Ray” and who is sometimes confused with popular songwriter Ray Henderson). There was a series of tours to complement Laughton’s famous reading tours, called Elsa Lanchester’s Private Music Hall which ended in 1952; Elsa Lanchester–Herself which ended in 1961; and once more in 1964 at the Ivar Theater. She was equally busy with a stock of film roles and a large share of TV playhouse theater.

She had made ten movies with Laughton, the last of which, Witness for the Prosecution (1957) garnered her second supporting actress nomination. But her dizzy Aunt Queenie Holroyd of Bell Book and Candle (1958) is a fond remembrance of that time.

With the two decades from the 1960s to early 1980s, Lanchester was a fixture on episodic TV and an institution in Disney and G-rated fare — perhaps a bit ironic for the unconventional Lanchester. She wrote two autobiographies: Charles Laughton and I (1938) and Elsa Lanchester: Herself (1983), both recalling nearly 100 roles before the camera.

Elsa Lanchester remained humorously reflective in regard to her film career: “…large parts in lousy pictures and small parts in big pictures.” It was the mix of silly, bawdy, and outrageous in her revues that was her great joy: “I was content because I was fully aware that I did not like straight acting but preferred performing direct to an audience. You might call what I do vaudeville. Making a joke, especially impromptu, and getting a big laugh is just plain heaven.”

The John Forsythe Show Miss Margaret Culver (1965-66)
Nanny and the Professor Aunt Henrietta (1971)
Die Laughing (Apr-1980)
Murder by Death (23-Jun-1976) · Jessica Marbles
Arnold (16-Nov-1973)
Terror in the Wax Museum (May-1973)
Willard (18-Jun-1971)
Me, Natalie (13-Jul-1969)
Rascal (11-Jun-1969)
Blackbeard’s Ghost (8-Feb-1968)
Easy Come, Easy Go (22-Mar-1967)
That Darn Cat! (2-Dec-1965)
Pajama Party (11-Nov-1964) · Aunt Wendy
Mary Poppins (27-Aug-1964)
Honeymoon Hotel (3-Jun-1964) · Chambermaid
Bell Book and Candle (19-Dec-1958) · Queenie
Witness for the Prosecution (Dec-1957) · Miss Plimsoll
The Glass Slipper (24-Mar-1955) · Widow Sonder
3 Ring Circus (25-Dec-1954)
Hell’s Half Acre (26-Feb-1954) · Lida O’Reilly
The Girls of Pleasure Island (1-Apr-1953)
Androcles and the Lion (Dec-1952)
Les Miserables (14-Aug-1952) · Mme. Magloire
Dreamboat (25-Jul-1952) · Dr. Coffey
Frenchie (25-Dec-1950) · Countess
The Petty Girl (17-Aug-1950)
Mystery Street (27-Jul-1950)
Buccaneer’s Girl (1-Mar-1950) · Mme. Brizar
The Inspector General (30-Dec-1949) · Maria
Come to the Stable (27-Jul-1949) · Amelia Potts
The Secret Garden (30-Apr-1949) · Martha
The Big Clock (9-Apr-1948)
The Bishop’s Wife (9-Dec-1947) · Matilda
Northwest Outpost (25-Jun-1947)
The Razor’s Edge (19-Nov-1946) · Miss Keith
The Spiral Staircase (6-Feb-1946) · Mrs. Oates
Passport to Destiny (31-Jan-1944) · Ella Muggins
Lassie Come Home (10-Oct-1943) · Mrs. Carraclough
Forever and a Day (21-Jan-1943)
Tales of Manhattan (5-Aug-1942)
Son of Fury (29-Jan-1942) · Bristol Isabel
Ladies in Retirement (9-Sep-1941) · Emily Creed
The Beachcomber (4-Mar-1938)
Rembrandt (6-Nov-1936) · Hendrickje
The Ghost Goes West (17-Dec-1935)
Bride of Frankenstein (22-Apr-1935) · Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley
Naughty Marietta (8-Mar-1935) · Mme. d’Annard
David Copperfield (8-Jan-1935) · Clickett
The Private Life of Henry VIII (17-Aug-1933) · Anne of Cleves
The Constant Nymph (20-Feb-1928)

Happy Birthday Roy Lichtenstein

Today is the 91st birthday of the pop artist Roy Lichtenstein.

NAME: Roy Lichtenstein
OCCUPATION: Illustrator, Painter
BIRTH DATE: October 27, 1923
DEATH DATE: September 29, 1997
EDUCATION: Parsons School of Design, The Ohio State University, Art Students League, Franklin School for Boys (now Dwight School)
PLACE OF BIRTH: New York, New York
PLACE OF DEATH: New York, New York

BEST KNOWN FOR: Roy Lichtenstein was an American pop artist best known for his boldly-colored parodies of comic strips and advertisements.

Roy Fox Lichtenstein was born on October 27, 1923, in New York City, the son of Milton Lichtenstein, a successful real estate developer, and Beatrice Werner Lichtenstein. As a boy growing up on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, Lichtenstein had a passion for both science and comic books. In his teens, he became interested in art. He took watercolor classes at Parsons School of Design in 1937, and he took classes at the Art Students League in 1940, studying with American realist painter Reginald Marsh.

Following his graduation from the Franklin School for Boys in Manhattan in 1940, Lichtenstein attended The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio. His college studies were interrupted in 1943, when he was drafted and sent to Europe for World War II.

After his wartime service, Lichtenstein returned to Ohio State in 1946 to finish his undergraduate degree and master’s degree—both in fine arts. He briefly taught at Ohio State before moving to Cleveland and working as a window-display designer for a department store, an industrial designer and a commercial-art instructor.

In the late 1940s, Lichtenstein exhibited his art in galleries nationwide, including in Cleveland and New York City. In the 1950s, he often took his artistic subjects from mythology and from American history and folklore, and he painted those subjects in styles that paid homage to earlier art, from the 18th century through modernism.

Lichtenstein began experimenting with different subjects and methods in the early 1960s, while he was teaching at Rutgers University. His newer work was both a commentary on American popular culture and a reaction to the recent success of Abstract Expressionist painting by artists like Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning. Instead of painting abstract, often subject-less canvases as Pollock and others had had done, Lichtenstein took his imagery directly from comic books and advertising. Rather than emphasize his painting process and his own inner, emotional life in his art, he mimicked his borrowed sources right down to an impersonal-looking stencil process that imitated the mechanical printing used for commercial art.

Lichtenstein’s best-known work from this period is “Whaam!,” which he painted in 1963, using a comic book panel from a 1962 issue of DC Comics’ All-American Men of War as his inspiration. Other works of the 1960s featured cartoon characters like Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck and advertisements for food and household products. He created a large-scale mural of a laughing young woman (adapted from an image in a comic book) for the New York State Pavilion of the 1964 World’s Fair in New York City.

Lichtenstein became known for his deadpan humor and his slyly subversive way of building a signature body of work from mass-reproduced images. By the mid-1960s, he was nationally known and recognized as a leader in the Pop Art movement that also included Andy Warhol, James Rosenquist and Claes Oldenburg. His art became increasingly popular with both collectors and influential art dealers like Leo Castelli, who showed Lichtenstein’s work at his gallery for 30 years. Like much Pop Art, it provoked debate over ideas of originality, consumerism and the fine line between fine art and entertainment.

By the late 1960s, Lichtenstein had stopped using comic book sources. In the 1970s his focus turned to creating paintings that referred to the art of early 20th century masters like Picasso, Henri Matisse, Fernand Léger and Salvador Dalí. In the 1980s and ’90s, he also painted representations of modern house interiors, brushstrokes and mirror reflections, all in his trademark, cartoon-like style. He also began working in sculpture.

In the 1980s, Lichtenstein received several major large-scale commissions, including a 25-foot-high sculpture titled “Brushstrokes in Flight” for the Port Columbus International Airport in Columbus, Ohio and a five-story-tall mural for the lobby of the Equitable Tower in New York.

Lichtenstein was committed to his art until the end of his life, often spending at least 10 hours a day in his studio. His work was acquired by major museum collections around the world, and he received numerous honorary degrees and awards, including the National Medal of Arts in 1995.

Lichtenstein married twice. He and his first wife, Isabel, whom he married in 1949 and divorced in 1967, had two sons, David and Mitchell. He married Dorothy Herzka in 1968.

Lichtenstein died of complications from pneumonia on September 29, 1997, at the New York University Medical Center in Manhattan.