Happy 110th Birthday Clara Bow

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Today is the 110th birthday of the original It Girl:  Clara Bow.  She is still seen as and and example of empowerment and strength for women and appreciated by all.  The world is a better place because she was in it and still feels the loss that she has left.

NAME: Clara Bow
OCCUPATION: Film Actor/Film Actress
BIRTH DATE: July 29, 1905
DEATH DATE: September 27, 1965
PLACE OF BIRTH: Brooklyn, New York
PLACE OF DEATH: Los Angeles, California

BEST KNOWN FOR: American motion-picture actress Clare Bow was a major box-office draw during the silent-film era, having starred in dozens of projects.

Clara Bow was born on July 29, 1905 in the Bay Ridge area of Brooklyn, NY. She was the youngest of three siblings and the only one to survive past childhood. Her father was sexually abusive and left the home for long periods of time while her mother suffered from severe mental disorders, later threatening her adolescent daughter’s life.

Bow took to watching movies as an escape from the horrors of home and dropped out of school. At 16, she entered a magazine’s beauty contest and won a small part in the film Beyond the Rainbow (1922), though her scenes were initially cut. Even while facing resistance, Bow persevered in continuing to audition at New York studios and eventually received a part in Down to the Sea in Ships (1922). The new actress also contended with the institutionalization and death of her mother.

Bow made her way to Hollywood and signed with Preferred Pictures under honcho B.P. Schulberg, with the actress also working with other studios. She starred in an array of silent films such as Grit (1924), The Plastic Age (1925) and Dancing Mothers (1926); the latter was filmed by Paramount Studios, which Schulberg joined after Preferred’s bankruptcy.

Bow became wildly popular after 1927’s It, a film adapted from a Elinor Glyn novella. The project proved to be a tremendous box office success and lent the actress the nickname the “It” Girl. Bow’s imagery and electric, sexy performances spoke to the flapper persona of the times. She was a style icon as well, with her particular look taken on by women across the country.

The actress made cinematic history with her 1927 co-starring role in Wings, which went on to receive the first Best Picture Oscar. She later made the transition to talking movies with 1929’s The Wild Party. Bow ultimately starred in dozens of films over the course of her career, though rigorous shooting demands and industry exploitation took its toll.

Known for having a fun and affable personality with a winning Brooklyn accent, Bow nonetheless still suffered from an overloaded work schedule, celebrity scrutiny and the lingering traumas of her upbringing. She had been associated with a number of men off-screen and her romantic life became the object of much hurtful speculation and gossip, including a pamphlet put forth by an assistant with stories of Bow’s relationships. In 1931 she had a breakdown and entered a sanitarium.

While recovering, Bow met fellow actor and future politician Rex Bell, and the two married in 1931, going on to have two children. Bow starred in a couple of other films with Fox Studios before retiring from acting in 1933. Over time she still struggled deeply with her emotional and mental health, attempting suicide in the mid-1940s and undergoing a score of examinations.

A widower after her husband’s death in 1962, Clara Bow died at the age of 60 on September 27, 1965 in Los Angeles, California from a heart attack. Decades later, her trailblazing role in shaping film and general culture has continued to be explored. A biography was published in 1988, Clara Bow Runnin’ Wild by David Stenn, while 1999 saw the release of a documentary, Clara Bow: Discovering the It Girl, directed by Hugh M. Neely and narrated by Courtney Love.

Happy 123rd Birthday William Powell

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Today is the 123rd birthday of the actor William Powell.  I adore his performances in the Thin Man films and My Man Godfrey.  His mid-century mid-atlantic accent is perfection.  His life story is absolutely remarkable, the amazing women he loved that died so young and unexpectedly is heartbreaking.  The world is a better place because he was in it and still feels the loss that he has left.

Annex - Powell, William (After the Thin Man)_01

NAME: William Powell
OCCUPATION: Film Actor
BIRTH DATE: July 29, 1892
DEATH DATE: March 05, 1984
EDUCATION: American Academy of Dramatic Arts
PLACE OF BIRTH: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
PLACE OF DEATH: Palms Springs, California
Full Name: William Horatio Powell

Best Known For:  William Powell was a baritone-voiced actor remembered for playing Nick Charles in The Thin Man films.

One of the most versatile American motion picture and stage actor who played villains in Hollywood silent films and intelligent, debonair leading men in the sound era. He is best remembered as Nick Charles in The Thin Manseries of films.

After graduating from the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City in 1912, Powell debuted on Broadway, playing three small roles in The Ne’er-Do-Well (1912). He then worked in road and stock companies before appearing as the hero’s rival in the hit Broadway play Spanish Love (1920). That success led to his appearance as Professor Moriarty’s evil henchman in the silent film Sherlock Holmes (1922), starring John Barrymore. Altogether, Powell appeared in more than 30 silents, usually playing a dastardly villain, notably in Romola (1924), Beau Geste (1926), and The Last Command (1928).

Unlike many silent film actors, Powell had a fine, resonant baritone speaking voice that allowed for a smooth transition to talkies. He became a star as detective Philo Vance in the talkie The Canary Murder Case (1929), based on a novel by S.S. Van Dine. By 1930 Powell had progressed to playing suave, sophisticated men-about-town in light mysteries and romantic comedies. He would go on to play opposite such glamorous Hollywood leading ladies as Kay Francis, Carole Lombard, to whom he was married from 1931 to 1933, and Jean Harlow, to whom he was engaged at the time of her death in 1937. But his most famous pairing was with Myrna Loy, as the witty, wealthy, cocktail-drinking husband-and-wife detective team Nick and Nora Charles in The Thin Man (1934), based on Dashiell Hammett’s novel of the same name. The role earned Powell his first Academy Award nomination. The affectionate sparring and chemistry between Powell and Loy delighted audiences, and the pair went on to make five more Thin Man movies together; they costarred in a total of 13 films.

By 1936 Powell was among the top 10 male box office attractions, and four of the five films in which he appeared that year received Academy Award nominations (My Man Godfrey, The Great Ziegfeld, Libeled Lady,and After the Thin Man), with Powell himself earning a nomination as best actor for his deft performance in the title role of My Man Godfrey. He worked less frequently thereafter, however, needing time to recover first from Harlow’s unexpected death and then from his own surgery and treatment for cancer. Among the most popular of his later films are Life with Father (1947), for which he was again nominated for an Academy Award, How to Marry a Millionaire (1953), and Mister Roberts (1955), his final film. Powell retired from actingin 1955 and moved to Palm Springs with his third wife, actress Diana Lewis, whom he married in 1940.

Happy 86th Birthday Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Today is the 86th birthday of the woman who once said, “You have to have been a Republican to know how good it is to be a Democrat.”  Our eternal FLOTUS and the yardstick upon which all others that have held that position are measured:  Jackie O.  The absolute style icon, redefining women’s fashion and still influencing how women dress fifty years later.  The highs and lows of her life are of the sort that almost all of us will never experience.  The world is a better place because she was in it and still feels the loss that she has left.


NAME: Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis
OCCUPATION: U.S. First Lady
BIRTH DATE: July 28, 1929
DEATH DATE: May 19, 1994
EDUCATION: Vassar College, Paris-Sorbonne University, George Washington University
PLACE OF BIRTH: Southampton, New York
PLACE OF DEATH: New York, New York

BEST KNOWN FOR: Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, noted for her style and elegance, was the wife of President John F. Kennedy and later married Aristotle Onassis.

Jacqueline Lee Bouvier “Jackie” Kennedy Onassis (July 28, 1929 – May 19, 1994)[1] was the wife of the 35th President of the United States, John F. Kennedy, and served as First Lady of the United States during his presidency from 1961 until his assassination in 1963. Five years later she married Greek shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis; they remained married until his death in 1975. For the final two decades of her life, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis had a successful career as a book editor. She is remembered for her contributions to the arts and preservation of historic architecture, her style, elegance, and grace. A fashion icon, her famous pink Chanel suit has become a symbol of her husband’s assassination and one of the lasting images of the 1960s. A book containing the transcripts of interviews with Kennedy from 1964 was released in September, 2011.

During her husband’s presidency, Jacqueline Kennedy became a symbol of fashion for women all over the world. She retained French-born American fashion designer and Kennedy family friend Oleg Cassini in the fall of 1960 to create an original wardrobe for her as First Lady. From 1961 to late 1963, Cassini dressed her in many of her most iconic ensembles, including her Inauguration Day fawn coat and Inaugural gala gown as well as many outfits for her visits to Europe, India and Pakistan. In her first year in the White House, Kennedy spent $45,446 more on fashion than the $100,000 annual salary her husband earned as president. Her clean suits with a skirt hem down to middle of the knee, three-quarter sleeves on notch-collar jackets, sleeveless A-line dresses, above-the-elbow gloves, low-heel pumps, and famous pillbox hats were an overnight success around the world that quickly became known as the “Jackie” look. Although Cassini was her primary designer, she also wore ensembles by French fashion legends such as Chanel, Givenchy, and Dior. More than any other First Lady her style was copied by commercial manufacturers and a large segment of young women.

In the years after the White House, her style changed dramatically. Gone were the modest “campaign wife” clothes. Wide-leg pantsuits, large lapel jackets, gypsy skirts, silk Hermès head scarves and large, round, dark sunglasses were her new look. She often chose to wear brighter colors and patterns and even began wearing jeans in public.  Beltless, white jeans with a black turtleneck, never tucked in, but pulled down over the hips, also was a fashion trend that she set.

Throughout her lifetime, Kennedy acquired a large collection of exquisite and priceless jewelry. Her triple-strand pearl necklace designed by American jeweler Kenneth Jay Lane became her signature piece of jewelry during her time as First Lady in the White House. Often referred to as the “berry brooch,” the two fruit cluster brooch of strawberries made of rubies with stems and leaves of diamonds, designed by French jeweler Jean Schlumberger for Tiffany & Co., was personally selected and given to her by her husband several days prior to his inauguration in January 1961. Schlumberger’s gold and enamel bracelets were worn by Kennedy so frequently in the early and mid-1960s that the press called them “Jackie bracelets”. His white enamel and gold “banana” earrings were also favored by her. Kennedy wore jewelry designed by Van Cleef & Arpels throughout the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s. Her sentimental favorite was the wedding ring given to her by President Kennedy, also from Van Cleef & Arpels.

Happy 87th Birthday Stanley Kubrick

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Today is the 87th birthday of the film director Stanley Kubrick.  You know and love his films, I specifically love 2001 and The Shining, but Clockwork Orange is great, and, and…  His vision and direction gave us something different and very interesting. The world is a better place because he was in it and still feels the loss that he has left.

NAME: Stanley Kubrick
OCCUPATION: Director, Producer, Screenwriter
BIRTH DATE: July 26, 1928
DEATH DATE: March 7, 1999
PLACE OF BIRTH: New York, New York
PLACE OF DEATH: Childwickbury Manor, Hertfordshire, England, United Kingdom

BEST KNOWN FOR: Stanley Kubrick was an American filmmaker best known for directing Dr. Strangelove, Clockwork Orange, 2001: A Space Odyssey, The Shining and Full Metal Jacket.

Famed filmmaker Stanley Kubrick was born in New York City on July 26, 1928, and grew up in the Bronx, New York, where his father, Jacques Kubrick, worked as a doctor and his mother, Sadie (Perveler) Kubrick, was a housewife. He had a younger sister, Barbara.

Kubrick never adjusted to or did well in school. In elementary school, his attendance record was evenly split between days absent and present. In high school, he was a social outcast and the prototypical underachiever, ranking at the bottom of his class, despite his intelligence. “I never learned anything at school, and I never read a book for pleasure until I was 19,” he once said.

Kubrick’s early ambitions were to become a writer or play baseball. “I started out thinking if I couldn’t play for the Yankees, I’d be a novelist,” he later remembered. Seeking creative endeavors rather than to focus on his academic status, Kubrick played the drums in his high school’s jazz band; its vocalist later became known as Eydie Gorme. Kubrick also displayed early promise as a photographer for the school paper, and at age 16, began selling his photos to Look magazine. A year later, he was hired for the staff of the magazine. When not traveling for Look, he spent most of his evenings at the Museum of Modern Art.

Toward the end of his high school career, Kubrick applied to several colleges, but was turned down for admission by all of them.

Kubrick began to explore the art of filmmaking in the 1950s. His first films were documentary shorts financed by friends and relatives. His first feature, the 1953 military drama Fear and Desire, was made independently of a studio—an uncommon practice for the time. Early into his filmmaking career, Kubrick acted as cinematographer, editor and soundman, in addition to directing. Later, he would also write and produce.

Kubrick made 10 feature films from 1957 to 1998, with early releases including the acclaimed films Spartacus (1960); Lolita (1962), based on the novel by Vladimir Nabokov; and Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964). Denied official cooperation from the U.S. armed services during the filming of Dr. Strangelove, Kubrick went on to construct sets from photographs and other public sources.

Kubrick released his most popular film, 2001: A Space Odyssey, in 1968, after working diligently on the production for a number of years—from co-writing the script with sci-fi writer Arthur C. Clarke to working on the special effects, to directing. The film earned Kubrick 13 Academy Award nominations; he won one for his special effects work.

While Odyssey was an enormous success, its first public screening was an unmitigated disaster. The film was shown on the same night that Lyndon Johnson announced he would not seek re-election; coincidentally, it was rumored that the studio head would lose his job if the film wasn’t a hit. When the audience left the theater in droves, the studio’s publicity department said, “Gentlemen, tonight we have lost two presidents.” The film subsequently garnered a great deal of media coverage and soon became a massive hit; it was still in theaters in 1972, four years after its release.

Kubrick went on to win further acclaim with the films Clockwork Orange (1971); the costumer drama Barry Lyndon (1975), for which he personally approved each costume for thousands of extras in battle scenes; The Shining (1980), which evidenced his predilection for multiple takes (he shot one scene with star Jack Nicholson 134 times); and the popular drama Full Metal Jacket (1987), starring R. Lee Ermey, Adam Baldwin and Vincent D’Onofrio.

After moving to England in the early 1960s, Kubrick slowly gained a reputation as a recluse. He gradually reduced the time he spent anywhere other than on a studio set or in his home office, refused most interview requests and was rarely photographed, never formally. He kept to a schedule of working at night and sleeping during the day, which allowed him to keep North American time. During this time, he had his sister, Mary, tape Yankees and NFL games, particularly those of the New York Giants, which were airmailed to him.

Stanley Kubrick died in his sleep after suffering a heart attack at his home in Childwickbury Manor, Hertfordshire, England, on March 7, 1999, hours after delivering a print of what would be his last film, Eyes Wide Shut (1999), to the studio. The film, starring Nicole Kidman and Tom Cruise, went on to earn both commercial and critical acclaim, including Golden Globe and Satellite award nominations.

Kubrick married three times. His first union, to Toba Etta Metz, lasted from 1948 to 1951. He and second wife Ruth Sobotka wed in 1954 and divorced in 1957. The following year, he married his third wife, painter Christiane Harlan (also known as Susanne Christian). Their union lasted 41 years and produced two of Kubrick’s three daughters: Anya and Vivian. (Kubrick also had a stepdaughter, Katharina, Harlan’s daughter from a prior relationship.)

Happy 106th Birthday Vivian Vance

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Today is the 106th birthday of the actress Vivian Vance.  She didn’t make Lucy funny, she made her funnier.  She was the point of reference, the voice of reason, the control group with which we were able to judge just how crazy Lucy was.  She was doing what we would be doing if we were in the scene:  questioning and cautioning, but eventually being persuaded to join in the scheme.  The world is a better place because she was in it and still feels the loss that she has left.

NAME: Vivian Vance
OCCUPATION: Television Actress, Film Actor/Film Actress
BIRTH DATE: July 26, 1909
DEATH DATE: August 17, 1979
PLACE OF BIRTH: Cherryvale, Kansas
PLACE OF DEATH: Belvedere, California
ORIGINALLY: Vivian Roberta Jones

BEST KNOWN FOR: Vivian Vance was an actress chiefly known as Ethel Murtz on the 1950s TV sitcom I Love Lucy.

Actress. Born Vivian Roberta Jones on July 26, 1909, in Cherryvale, Kansas. Vivian Vance is best known as Ethel Mertz, the neighbor, friend, and partner in crime, to Lucy Ricardo (played by Lucille Ball) on the long-running comedy series I Love Lucy. She took to acting at an early age, studying in her native Kansas and later New Mexico.

Moving to New York City in the early 1930s, Vance found work in the theater, landing her first Broadway role in the musical comedy Music in the Air in 1932. Several more musical comedies followed, including Anything Goes with Ethel Merman and Let’s Face It with Danny Kaye and Eve Arden.

In the late 1940s, Vance had a nervous breakdown and went back to New Mexico for a time. After taking a break from working, she moved to California and returned to the stage there. Little did she know that her performance in The Voice of the Turtle at the La Jolla Playhouse in La Jolla, California, would lead to her most famous role. A friend of hers, director Marc Daniels, had recommended her for the part of Ethel Mertz on Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz’s new television show. Accompanied by Daniels, Arnez went to see Vance in the show and decided that she was a perfect fit for the role.

Initially, Vance was not sure she wanted the part. In the early 1950s, television was an emerging media, and she was working on a film career, with roles in The Secret Fury (1950) with Claudette Colbert and Robert Ryan and The Blue Veil (1951) with Jane Wyman and Charles Laughton. Eventually she decided to pursue the role and wore unflattering clothes and make-up to better fit the character of Ethel.

I Love Lucy premiered in the fall of 1951, and soon the show was a huge hit. It focused on Ricky and Lucy Ricardo, a Cuban bandleader and his wife, played by Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball. Their best friends, neighbors, and landlords were Fred and Ethel Mertz. William Frawley was Vance’s on-screen husband despite a substantial age difference – Vance was 39 years old and Frawley was 64 years old when the two were first cast in their roles. That fact reportedly irritated Vance, having said once that he should play her father, not her husband.

Often focused Lucy’s wacky misadventures, some of the show’s most memorable moments featured Ball and Vance entangled in some type of scheme gone wrong, such as trying to make money or fool their husbands. Her considerable talents as a comedic sidekick did not go unnoticed. She received four Emmy Award nominations, winning once for best supporting actress in 1954.

After the show ended in 1957, Vance appeared on several specials featuring the characters of I Love Lucy. When Lucille Ball returned to series television without Desi Arnaz in 1962, she convinced Vance to join the cast. This time Vance again played best friend to Ball, but with some notable differences. Vance co-starred as Vivian who had a slimmer figure and more glamorous look than the frumpy Ethel. In the series, The Lucy Show, Ball was a widow with two children who shared her home with Vance, a divorcee, and her son. At the time, Vance was living on the East Coast so she commuted to California to film the show. Eventually, she tired of all the travel and became an occasional guest star instead of a series regular in 1965. The Lucy Show ended in 1972.

Vance returned to California in the mid-1970s. She died on August 17, 1979, in Belvedere, California. At the time of her death, she was married to literary agent John Dodds.

Happy 121st Birthday Aldous Huxley

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Today is the 121st birthday of the author, Aldous Huxley.  I first started reading his books at Interlochen Center for the Arts the summer of 1989.  The library was in a stone building, cool in temperature and cool in aesthetics.  That summer, I read Brave New World and Brave New World Revisited.  I was transported.  Later, I read somewhere that his writing has inspired a lot of people that I find to be visionaries, it was great to understand a bit more of their inspirational foundations.  The world is a better place because he was in it and still feels the loss that he has left.

aldous huxley

NAME: Aldous Huxley
OCCUPATION: Author
BIRTH DATE: July 26, 1894
DEATH DATE: November 22, 1963
EDUCATION: Eton, Balliol College
PLACE OF BIRTH: Godalming, United Kingdom
PLACE OF DEATH: Los Angeles, California

BEST KNOWN FOR: Author Aldous Huxley expressed his deep distrust of 20th-century politics and technology in his sci-fi novel Brave New World, a nightmarish vision of the future.

Aldous Huxley, was a British writer. He was born on July 26, 1894 and died on November 22, 1963. He would become most specifically known to the public for his novels, and especially his fifth one, Brave New World, written in 1931 and published in 1932. Aldous Huxley was born on July 26th 1894 in Godalming in the Surrey county in southern England. He would be the son of the English schoolteacher and writer Leonard Huxley (1860 – 1933) and of Julia Arnold (1862 – 1908). More than literature, however, Aldous Huxley would in fact be born into a family of renowned scientists, with two of his three brothers, Julian and Andrew, who would be eminent biologists and a grandfather, Thomas Henry Huxley, who would be a famous, controversial naturalist in his time, nicknamed as “Darwin’s Bulldog”.

Aldous Huxley would come to be known mostly as a novelist and essayist but he would also write some short stories, poetry, travelogues and even film scripts. In his novels and essays Aldous Huxley would always play the role of a critical observer of accepted traditions, customs, social norms and ideals. Importantly, he would be concerned in his writings with the potentially harmful applications of so-called scientific progress to mankind.

At the age of 14 Aldous Huxley would lose his mother and he himself would subsequently become ill in 1911 with a disease that would leave him virtually blind. As if all of this was note enough, his other brother, Noel, would kill himself in 1914. Because of his sight he would not be able to do the scientific research that had attracted him earlier. Aldous Huxley would then turn himself to literature. It is important to note that in spite of a partial remission, his eyesight would remain poor for the rest of his life. This would not, however prevent him from obtaining a degree in English literature with high praises.

While continuing his education at Balliol College, one of the institutions at Oxford University in England, Aldous Huxley would not longer be financially supported by his father, which would make him having to earn living. For a brief period in 1918, he would be employed as a clerk of the Air Ministry, which would convince him that he does not want a career in either administration or business. As result, his need for money would lead him to apply his literary talents. It is around those days that he would become friends with the famous writer D.H. Lawrence (1885 – 1930) at Oxford.

Aldous Huxley would finish his first novel, which he would never publish, at the age of seventeen, and he would decisively turn to writing at the age of twenty. At that point he would publish poems and also become a journalist and art critic. This would allow him to frequently travel and mingle with the European intelligentsia of the time. He would meet surrealists in Paris and would as a result of all of this write many literary essays. Aldous Huxley were to be deeply concerned about the important changes occurring at the time in Western civilization. They would prompt him to write great novels in the 1930s about the serious threats posed by the combination of power and technical progress, as well as about what he identified as a drift in parapsychology: behaviorism (as in his Brave New World). Additionally he would write against war and nationalism, as in Eyeless in Gaza (1936), for example.

One of his most known novels, and arguably his most important, would be Brave New World. Aldous Huxley would write it in only four months. It is important to note that at that time Adolf Hitler (1889 – 1945) was not yet in power in Germany and that the Stalinist purges had not yet begun. Aldous Huxley had therefore not been able to tap into the reality of his time the dictatorial future he would have the foresight to write about before it had happened. Indeed here Aldous Huxley imagined a society that would use genetics and cloning in order to condition and control individuals. In this future society all children are conceived in test tubes. They are genetically conditioned to belong to one of the five categories of populations, from the most intelligent to the stupidest.

Brave New World would also delineate what the perfect dictatorship would look like. It would have the appearance of a democracy, but would basically be a prison without walls in which the prisoners would not even dream of escaping. It would essentially be, as Aldous Huxley tells us, a system of slavery where, through entertainment and consumption the slaves “would love their servitude”. To many this would and still does resonate with the contemporary status quo. The title of the book comes from Shakespeare’s The Tempest (1610 – 1611), Act 5 Scene 1. Aldous Huxley’s novel would in fact eventually be made into a film in 1998. Although this one contains many elements from the book, the film would however portray a rather different storyline.

In 1937 he would write a book of essays entitled Ends and Means: an Enquiry Into the Nature of Ideals and Into the Methods Employed for Their Realization in which he would explore some of the same themes:

A democracy which makes or even effectively prepares for modern, scientific war must necessarily cease to be democratic. No country can be really well prepared for modern war unless it is governed by a tyrant, at the head of a highly trained and perfectly obedient bureaucracy.

In 1958 Aldous Huxley would publish Brave New World Revisited, a collection of essays in which he would think critically about the threats of overpopulation, excessive bureaucracy, as well as some hypnosis techniques for personal freedom. While Aldous Huxley’s early works would clearly be focused on defending a kind of humanism, he would become more and more interested in spiritual questions. He would particularly become interested in parapsychology and mysticism, which would be a subject matter on which he would also write a lot about. It is not really surprising, therefore, that in 1938 Aldous Huxley would become a friend of religious philosopher Jiddu Krishnamurti (1895 – 1986), considered by some to be a mystique himself, largely because of his early association with the Theosophical Society, from which he would powerfully break away from. In any case, Huxley would become a great admirer of this one’s teachings and would encourage him to put his insights in writings. Aldous Huxley would even write the forward for Jiddu Krishnamurti’s The First and Last Freedom (1954). Tellingly, Huxley would state after having listened to one of Krishnamurti’s talks:

… the most impressive thing I have listened to. It was like listening to a discourse of the Buddha – such power, such intrinsic authority…

In 1937, the writer would move to California and became a screenwriter for Hollywood. At the same time he would continue writing novels and essays, including the satirical novel After Many a Summer (1939) and Ape and Essence (1948). In 1950 the American Academy of Arts and Letters would award him the prestigious Award of Merit for the Novel, a prize that had also been bestowed to illustrious writers such as Ernest Hemingway (1899 – 1961) and Thomas Mann (1875 – 1955). Aldous Huxley would also be the author of an essay on the environment that would greatly inspire future ecological movements.

The 1950s would be a time of experiences with psychedelic drugs for him, especially LSD and mescaline, from which he would write the collection of essays The Doors of Perception (1954), which would become a narrative worshipped by hippies. The book would also inspire the famous singer Jim Morrison (1943 – 1971), to call his band “The Doors”. Aldous Huxley himself had found the title of the book in William Blake’s (1757 – 1827) The Marriage of Heaven and Hell:

If the doors of perception were cleansed everything would appear to man as it is, infinite.

By the end of his life Aldous Huxley would be considered by many as a visionary thinker. The so-called “New Age” school of thought would often quote his mystical writings and studies of hallucinogens, and in fact it continues to do so today. Considered one of the greatest English writers having written 47 books, Aldous Huxley would die at the age of 69 in Los Angeles on November 22 1963, the same day as President John F. Kennedy’s assassination. Aldous Huxley would be cremated and his ashes would be buried in the family vault in the UK.

Happy 115th Birthday Zelda Fitzgerald

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

 

Today is the 115th birthday of writer and socialite Zelda Fitzgerald, born Zelda Sayre in Montgomery, Alabama (1900). She was named after the fictional gypsy heroine in Zelda’s Fortune (1874), one of her mother’s favorite books. She was the youngest of five children, and she rebelled against the strict discipline of her father, an Alabama Supreme Court judge. She snuck out of her window at night, smoked cigarettes, bobbed her hair, and wore a flesh-colored swimsuit so that people would think she was swimming nude. She spent her evenings at dances and parties with the officers stationed at nearby Camp Sheridan, and they competed for her attention. One officer performed the full manual of arms drill outside her door, and others took turns trying to outdo each other with fancy airplane stunts in the sky above the Sayre household.

It was at Camp Sheridan that Zelda met a young officer named Scott Fitzgerald. He was beautiful, like Zelda — they were both petite, with blond hair and light eyes. Years later, in her autobiographical novel Save Me the Waltz (1932), she wrote: “He smelled like new goods. Being close to him with her face in the space between his ear and his stiff army collar was like being initiated into the subterranean reserves of a fine fabric store exuding the delicacy of cambrics and linen and luxury bound in bales.” Scott and Zelda spent a lot of time together, but she didn’t want to commit to him; even though he was confident that he was going to be rich and famous, Zelda was hesitant, and her parents were unconvinced. She wrote to him: “Mamma knows that we are going to be married some day — But she keeps leaving stories of young authors, turned out on a dark and stormy night, on my pillow — I wonder if you hadn’t better write to my Daddy — just before I leave — I wish I were detached — sorter without relatives. I’m not exactlyscared of ’em, but they could be so unpleasant about what I’m going to do.”

After the publication of Fitzgerald’s first novel, This Side of Paradise(1920), Zelda agreed to marry Scott. They became the most famous couple of the Jazz Age. They were the center of attention at parties, where their drunken exploits became the stuff of legend.

Zelda was a writer in her own right, and Scott borrowed from her ideas and sometimes copied writing from her verbatim. When they were dating in Montgomery, Zelda showed Scott her diary, and he used that and her letters in This Side of Paradise. He had modeled the main character, Rosalind, after a woman he had been in love with at Princeton, named Ginevra King; but after meeting Zelda, he reworked the character of Rosalind until she was a combination of both women.

When Zelda was hired to write a review of The Beautiful and the Damned for the New York Herald Tribune, she wrote: “It seems to me that on one page I recognized a portion of an old diary of mine which mysteriously disappeared shortly after my marriage, and also scraps of letters which, though considerably edited, sound to me vaguely familiar. In fact, Mr. Fitzgerald — I believe that is how he spells his name — seems to believe that plagiarism begins at home.” She also encouraged readers to buy the book so that Scott could buy her a new dress and a platinum ring.

She said, “I don’t want to live — I want to love first, and live incidentally.”

Happy 118th Birthday Amelia Earhart

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Today is the 118th birthday of aviatrix Amelia Earhart.  Mystery surrounding her last trip exists to this day, with theories and evidence leading to the belief that she survived the on an island well off her intended course.  The world is a better place because she was in it and still feels the loss that she has left.

NAME: Amelia Earhart
OCCUPATION: Pilot
BIRTH DATE: July 24, 1897
DEATH DATE: c. January 05, 1939
EDUCATION: Hyde Park High School, Columbia University

BEST KNOWN FOR: Amelia Earhart was the first female pilot to fly across the Atlantic and the first person to have flown both oceans. Her mysterious disappearance occurred in 1937.

Amelia Earhart was born on July 24, 1897, in Atchison, Kansas, in America’s heartland. She spent much of her early childhood in the upper-middle class household of her maternal grandparents. Amelia’s mother, Amelia “Amy” Otis, married a man who showed much promise, but had never been able to break the bonds of alcohol. Edwin Earhart was on a constant search to establish his career and put the family on a firm financial foundation. When the situation got bad, Amy would shuttle Amelia and her sister Muriel to their grandparents’ home. There they sought out adventures, exploring the neighborhood, climbing trees, hunting for rats, and taking breathtaking rides on Amelia’s sled.

Even after the family was reunited when Amelia was 10, Edwin constantly struggled to find and maintain gainful employment. This caused the family to move around, and Amelia attended several different schools. She showed early aptitude in school for science and sports, though it was difficult to do well academically and make friends. In 1915, Amy separated once again from her husband, and moved Amelia and her sister to Chicago to live with friends. While there, Amelia attended Hyde Park High School, where she excelled in chemistry. Her father’s inability to be the provider for the family led Amelia to become independent and not rely on someone else to “take care” of her.

After graduation, Amelia Earhart spent a Christmas vacation visiting her sister in Toronto, Canada. After seeing wounded soldiers returning from World War I, she volunteered as a nurse’s aide for the Red Cross. Earhart came to know many of the wounded who were pilots. She developed a strong admiration for aviators, spending much of her free time watching the Royal Flying Corps practicing at the airfield nearby. In 1919, Earhart enrolled in medical studies at Columbia University. She quit a year later to be with her parents, who had reunited in California.

Amelia Earhart’s public persona presented a gracious, if somewhat shy, woman who displayed remarkable talent and bravery. Yet deep inside, Earhart harbored a burning desire to distinguish herself as different from the rest of the world. She was an intelligent and competent pilot who never panicked or lost her nerve, but she was not a brilliant aviator. Her skills kept pace with aviation during the first decade of the century but, as technology moved forward with sophisticated radio and navigation equipment, Earhart continued to fly by instinct.

She recognized her limitations and continuously worked to improve her skills, but the constant promotion and touring never gave her the time she needed to catch up. Recognizing the power of her celebrity, she strove to be an example of courage, intelligence, and self-reliance. She hoped her influence would help topple negative stereotypes about women, and open doors for them in every field.
Sometime before their marriage, Earhart and Putnam worked on secret plans for a solo flight across the Atlantic Ocean. By early 1932, they had made their preparations. They announced that on the fifth anniversary of Charles Lindbergh’s flight across the Atlantic, Amelia would attempt the same feat. On the morning of May 20, 1932, she took off from Harbour Grace, Newfoundland, with that day’s copy of the local newspaper to confirm the date of the flight.

Almost immediately, the flight ran into difficulty as she encountered thick clouds and ice on the wings. After about 12 hours the conditions got worse, and the plane began to experience mechanical difficulties. She knew she wasn’t going to make it to Paris as Lindbergh had, so she started looking for a new place to land. She found a pasture just outside the small village of Culmore, in Londonderry, Northern Ireland, and successfully landed. The nearly 15-hour flight established her as the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic. As a result, Earhart won many honors, including the Gold Medal from the National Geographic Society as presented by President Hoover, the Distinguished Flying Cross from the U.S. Congress, and the Cross of the Knight of the Legion of Honor from the French government.

In 1935, Amelia Earhart joined the faculty at Purdue University as a female career consultant, and technical advisor to the Department of Aeronautics. This partnership helped finance the purchase of a Lockheed Electra L-10E plane. While she would not be the first person to circumnavigate the earth, she decided she would be the first to do it around the equator. She pulled together a top-rated crew of three men: Captain Harry Manning, Fred Noonan, and Paul Mantz. Manning had been the captain of the President Roosevelt, which brought her back from Europe in 1928, and would become Earhart’s first navigator. Noonan had vast experience in both marine and flight navigation, and was to be the second navigator. Mantz, a Hollywood stunt pilot, and was chosen to be Earhart’s technical advisor.

The original plan was to take off from Oakland, California, and fly west to Hawaii. From there, the group would fly across the Pacific Ocean to Australia. Then they would cross the sub-continent of India, on to Africa, then to Florida, and back to California.
On March 17, 1937, they took off from Oakland on the first leg. They experienced some periodic problems flying across the Pacific, and landed in Hawaii for some repairs at the United States Navy’s Field on Ford Island in Pearl Harbor. After three days, the Electra began its takeoff, but something went wrong. Earhart lost control, and looped the plane on the runway. How this happened is still the subject of some controversy. Several witnesses, including an Associated Press journalist, said they saw a tire blow. Other sources, including Paul Mantz, indicated it was pilot error. Though no one was seriously hurt, the plane was severely damaged and had to be shipped back to California for extensive repairs.

In the interim, Earhart and Putnam secured additional funding for a new flight. The stress of the delay and the grueling fund-raising appearances left Amelia exhausted. By the time the plane was repaired, weather patterns and global wind changes required alterations to the flight plan. This time Earhart and her crew would fly east. Captain Harry Manning would not join the team, due to previous commitments. Paul Mantz was also absent, reportedly due to a contract dispute.

After flying from Oakland to Miami, Florida, Earhart and Noonan took off on June 1st from Miami with much fanfare and publicity. The plane flew toward Central and South America, turning east for Africa. From there, the plane crossed the Indian Ocean and finally touched down in Lae, New Guinea, on June 29, 1937. About 22,000 miles of the journey had been completed. The remaining 7,000 miles would take place over the Pacific.

In Lae, Earhart contracted dysentery that lasted for days. While she recuperated, several necessary adjustments were made to the plane. Extra amounts of fuel were stowed on board. The parachutes were packed away, for there would be no need for them while flying along the vast and desolate Pacific Ocean.

The flyer’s plan was to head to Howland Island, 2,556 miles away, situated between Hawaii and Australia. A flat sliver of land 6,500 feet long, 1,600 feet wide, and no more than 20 ft. above the ocean waves, the island would be hard to distinguish from the similar looking cloud shapes. To meet this challenge, Earhart and Noonan had an elaborate plan with several contingencies. Celestial navigation would be used to track their route and keep them on course. In case of overcast skies, they had radio communication with a U.S. Coast Guard vessel, Itasca, stationed off Howland Island. They could also use their maps, compass, and the position of the rising sun to make an educated guess in finding their position relative to Howland Island. After aligning themselves with Howland’s correct latitude, they would run north and south looking for the island and the smoke plume to be sent up by the Itasca. They even had emergency plans to ditch the plane if need be, believing the empty fuel tanks would give the plane some buoyancy, as well as time to get into their small inflatable raft to wait for rescue.

Earhart and Noonan set out from Lae on July 2, 1937, at 12:30 PM, heading east toward Howland Island. Though the flyers seemed to have a well thought-out plan, several early decisions led to grave consequences later on. Radio equipment with shorter wavelength frequencies were left behind, presumably to allow more room for fuel canisters. This equipment could broadcast radio signals farther distances. Due to inadequate quantities of high-octane fuel, the Electra carried about 1,000 gallons—50 gallons short of full capacity.

The Electra’s crew ran into difficulty almost from the start. Witnesses to the July 2 take off reported that a radio antenna may have been damaged. It is also believed that due to the extensive overcast conditions, Noonan might have had extreme difficulty with celestial navigation. If that weren’t enough, it was later discovered that the flyers were using maps that may have been inaccurate. According to experts, evidence shows that the charts used by Noonan and Earhart placed Howland Island nearly six miles off its actual position.

These circumstances led to a series of problems that couldn’t be solved. As Earhart and Noonan reached the supposed position of Howland Island, they maneuvered into their north and south tracking route to find the island. They looked for visual and auditory signals from the Itasca, but for various reasons radio communication was very poor that day. There was also confusion between Earhart and the Itasca over which frequencies to use, and a misunderstanding as to the agreed upon check-in time; the flyers were operating on Greenwich Civil Time and the Itasca was operating on the naval time zone, which set their schedules 30 minutes apart.

On the morning of July 3, 1937, at 7:20 AM, Amelia reported her position, placing the Electra on course at 20 miles southwest of the Nukumanu Islands. At 7:42 AM the Itasca picked up this message from the Earhart, “We must be on you, but we cannot see you. Fuel is running low. Been unable to reach you by radio. We are flying at 1,000 feet.” The ship replied but there was no indication that Earhart heard this. The flyers’ last communication was at 8:43 AM. Though the transmission was marked as “questionable,” it is believed Earhart and Noonan thought they were running along the north, south line. However, Noonan’s chart of Howland’s position was off by five nautical miles. The Itasca released its oil burners in an attempt to signal the flyers, but they apparently did not see it. In all likelihood, their tanks ran out of fuel and they had to ditch at sea.

 

Happy 99th Birthday Sandra Gould

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Today is the 99th birthday of Sandra Gould.  Who doesn’t love Gladys Kravitz, the nosy neighbor from “Bewitched?”  Always peeking through the curtains, seeing something she cannot wrap her head around and screaming “ABNER!”  That poor, poor Abner.Born:  July 23, 1916 Brooklyn, New York, U.S.
Died:  July 20, 1999 (aged 82) Burbank, California, U.S.

Sandra Gould (July 23, 1916 – July 20, 1999) was an American actress, who appeared mainly in television. Among her many credits was a regular role on the sitcom Bewitched as the second Gladys Kravitz.

Gould began acting in films with an uncredited role in T-Men (1947). She appeared in several uncredited roles for the remainder of the decade, and received her first screen credit with The Story of Molly X (1949).

In 1953, Gould appeared as a guest in an episode of Letter to Loretta with Loretta Young. She continued to guest star in the 1950s and 1960s in such television series as I Love Lucy, December Bride, Maverick, The Flintstones, The Twilight Zone, The Lucy Show, Burke’s Law, I Dream of Jeannie, Love, American Style , Gilligan’s Island and Mister Ed. She played a prominent supporting role in the film The Ghost and Mr. Chicken in 1966.
In 1963, Gould released a comedy single record entitled Hello Melvin (This Is Mama) as an answer to Allan Sherman’s hit “Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh“.

In September 1966, Gould replaced actress-comedienne Alice Pearce in the role of Gladys Kravitz, the nosy neighbor of Samantha Stephens (played by Elizabeth Montgomery) on the ABC-TV situation comedy Bewitched. Although Gould had no physical resemblance to Pearce, her over-the-top performance and shrill voice helped her land the role, and she remained with the series throughout the rest of its run. After Bewitched was canceled in 1972, she reprised the role of Gladys five years later in a spin-off of the series called Tabitha.
Gould also made appearances on TV shows including The Brady Bunch, Adam-12, Punky Brewster, Friends and Veronica’s Closet. She also appeared in the movie, Skatetown U.S.A., in 1979.

Gould wrote two books, “Always Say Maybe” and “Sexpots and Pans”, published by Golden Press.

Happy 127th Birthday Raymond Chandler

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Today is the 127th birthday of the writer Raymond Chandler.  If you are a fan of film noir and/or crime dramas set in Los Angeles in the first half of the last century, he is the guy for you.  The world is a better place because he is in it and still feels the loss that he has left.

raymond-chandler

NAME: Raymond Chandler
OCCUPATION: Entrepreneur, Author, Screenwriter
BIRTH DATE: July 23, 1888
DEATH DATE: March 26, 1959
EDUCATION: Dulwich School
PLACE OF BIRTH: Chicago, Illinois
PLACE OF DEATH: La Jolla, California

Best Known For:  Raymond Chandler was an Oscar-nominated screenwriter and author known for seminal detective novels like The Big Sleep and The Long Goodbye.

Today the birthday of Raymond Chandler, born in Chicago (1888). His parents were Irish, and after his father left the family, his mother moved them back to Ireland, and he grew up there and in England. Later, he moved back to America and settled in California.

He wrote pulp fiction about the city of Los Angeles and a detective there named Philip Marlowe. Chandler’s first novel was The Big Sleep (1939), which sold well and was made into a movie in 1946 with Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall — William Faulkner co-wrote the screenplay. Chandler wrote seven more novels featuring Philip Marlowe, who became the quintessential “hard-boiled” private eye, tough and street-smart and full of wise cracks. In Farewell, My Lovely (1940), Marlowe says: “I needed a drink, I needed a lot of life insurance, I needed a vacation, I needed a home in the country. What I had was a coat, a hat and a gun.”

Chandler was never any good at coming up with plots. He had to study and steal from other mystery writers like Dashiell Hammett. But he knew how to create atmosphere. One of his early stories, “Red Wind” (1938), begins: “There was a desert wind blowing that night. It was one of those hot dry Santa Anas that come down through the mountain passes and curl your hair and make your nerves jump and your skin itch. On nights like that . meek little wives feel the edge of the carving knife and study their husbands’ necks. Anything can happen.”

Chandler is famous for his metaphors. In one novel he wrote, “She smelled the way the Taj Mahal looked by moonlight.” In another he wrote, “She gave me a smile I could feel in my hip pocket.”

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,692 other followers