Happy Birthday Carol Channing

Today is the 94th birthday of Seattle’s very own Carol Channing.  Do yourself a favor and watch the 1967 version of “Thoroughly Modern Milly” sometime, it is brilliant and Carol rips through every scene she has.  The world is a better place because she is in it.

NAME: Carol Channing
OCCUPATION: Theater Actress
BIRTH DATE: January 31, 1921
PLACE OF BIRTH: Seattle, Washington

BEST KNOWN FOR: Carol Channing starred as Lorelei Lee in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes on Broadway in 1949. She received a Tony lifetime achievement award in 1995.

Born January 31, 1921 in Seattle, Washington. The daughter of a prominent newspaper editor who was very active in the Christian Science movement, Channing attended high school in San Francisco before enrolling at Bennington College in Vermont. She majored in drama and dance for one year before dropping out to try her luck as an actress in New York.

andrews-channing-moore

Channing made her Broadway debut in 1941’s Never Take No for an Answer. With her megawatt wide-eyed grin and raspy voice, Channing made a name for herself in 1949 when she starred as Lorelei Lee in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. It was in this role that she immortalized the anthem Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend. Though she lost the Lorelei Lee role to Marilyn Monroe in the 1952 film version, she remained active in nightclub and review appearances throughout the 1950s and early 1960s.

Her next Broadway hit did not arrive until 1963, when she landed the role of Dolly Gallegher Levi in the blockbuster musical Hello, Dolly!. She won a Tony Award for her performance, but again forfeited the on-screen role to a young Barbra Streisand. In 1966, Channing was awarded an Emmy for the 1966 TV special An Evening With Carol Channing, and received an Oscar nod for her supporting performance in Thoroughly Modern Millie in 1967.

Throughout the 1970s and 1980s Channing has lent her signature voice to animated films, including Shinbone Alley, Happily Ever After and Thumbelina. She has also supplied voices for the animated television series Where’s Waldo?, The Addams Family and The Magic School Bus. In 1995, Channing was honored at the Tony Awards with a lifetime achievement award.

Channing was married to Charles Lowe from 1956 until his death in 1999. She married her junior high school sweetheart, Harry Kullijian, at the age of 82 in 2003.

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Happy Birthday Tallulah Bankhead

Today is the 113th birthday of Tallulah Bankhead.  She was a hard-drinking, chain-smoking, foul-mouthed broad who’s brilliance may very well have been in being Tallulah Bankhead.  She is what the world needed:  a smart, quick-witted shit-kicker that made us laugh uncomfortably at her brave observations and truths.  The world is a better place because she was in it and still feels the loss that she has left.

 

NAME: Tallulah Brockman Bankhead
OCCUPATION: Film Actress, Theater Actress
BIRTH DATE: January 31, 1902
DEATH DATE: December 12, 1968
PLACE OF BIRTH: Hunstville, Alabama
PLACE OF DEATH: New York City, New York

BEST KNOWN FOR: Tullulah Bankhead was an American stage and film actress, popular from the 1920s through the 1950s.

Born to a prestigious family (her father became a prominent congressman), she made her Broadway debut in 1918 and achieved fame on the London stage in The Dancer (1923). Her vivid presence and throaty voice contributed to her singular performances in the hit plays The Little Foxes (1939), The Skin of Our Teeth (1942), and Private Lives (1946). She made films such as A Woman’s Law (1928) and Alfred Hitchcock’s Lifeboat (1944) but remained primarily a stage performer. Her final stage appearance was in The Milk Train Doesn’t Stop Here Anymore (1964).

Personal Quotes:

“Say anything about me, darling, as long as it isn’t boring.”

“It’s the good girls that keep diaries. Bad girls never have the time.”

Tallulah Bankhead died in St. Luke’s Hospital in New York City of double pneumonia, complicated by emphysema and malnutrition, at 7:45 A.M. on December 12, 1968, aged 66. She was buried in Saint Paul’s Churchyard, Chestertown, Maryland. Her last coherent words reportedly were “Codeine… bourbon.”

For her contribution to the motion picture industry, Tallulah Bankhead has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6141 Hollywood Blvd.

Rock star Suzi Quatro portrayed Bankhead in a musical named Tallulah Who? in 1991. The musical was based on a book by Willie Rushton. Quatro co-wrote the music with Shirlie Roden. The show ran from 14 February to 9 March at The Queen’s Theatre, Hornchurch, UK and received favourable reviews.

Valerie Harper starred as Bankhead in Looped, which originated at The Pasadena Playhouse. It opened on Broadway on March 14, 2010 at the Lyceum Theatre, and closed on April 11, 2010.

Other actresses to portray Bankhead include Eugenia Rawls (in her one-woman stage show “Tallulah, A Memory”), Kathleen Turner (in Sandra Ryan Heyward’s one-woman touring show “Tallulah” in the late 1990s), Carrie Nye (on television in The Scarlett O’Hara War) and Helen Gallagher in an off-Broadway musical, Tallulah!

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The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries – Not So Secret Obsession

I am especially obsessed about The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries, all three seasons are on Netflix.  Pamela Sue Martin, Shaun Cassidy and Parker Stevenson play the main characters and are so quintessentially 70s, it is brilliant.  Watch a couple episodes for the amazing guest stars alone.  Between IMDB and Wiki, I gather that I am not the only one obsessed, those pages are extensive.  Do yourself a favor and head back to the 70s and solve a couple mysteries, you won’t regret it.

The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries (retitled The Hardy Boys Mysteries for season three) is a television series which aired for three seasons on ABC. The series starred Parker Stevenson and Shaun Cassidy as amateur sleuth brothers Frank and Joe Hardy, respectively, and Pamela Sue Martin (later Janet Louise Johnson) as detective Nancy Drew.

The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries was unusual in that it often dealt with the characters individually, in an almost anthological style. That is, some episodes featured only the Hardy Boys and others only Nancy Drew.

The Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew were both successful book publishing franchises, owned by the Stratemeyer Syndicate, a publishing group which owned many successful children’s book lines.

The Hardy Boys, Frank and Joe, are brother amateur detectives. The two boys live in the fictional city of Bayport, Massachusetts (a change from the book series, which sets Bayport in the state of New York) with their famous father, Fenton Hardy, a private detective who spent “twenty years” with the New York Police Department.

In addition to the Hardy Boys, their stories feature two other characters with some regularity: Aunt Gertrude and a platonic female friend of the boys, Callie Shaw, who also does part-time work for their father. The only other character who played a major part of the Hardy Boys books, Chet Morton, appeared only briefly in the series.

Nancy Drew is the amateur sleuth — she prefers the term “part time investigator” — daughter of attorney Carson Drew. She lives with her father, Carson, in the fictional town of River Heights, New Jersey (another change from the book series, which sets River Heights outside of Chicago).

In addition to Nancy Drew and her father, her stories feature two other characters with some regularity: her close friend Georgia (George) Fayne and Ned Nickerson. Another prominent character from the Nancy Drew books, Bess Marvin, made only two appearances in two-part episodes. In the novels on which the series was based, Nickerson is explicitly identified as Nancy’s boyfriend. In the television series, their romance is more ambiguous. In the first season, Nickerson is a law student who does part-time work for Carson Drew. In the second season, Nickerson is re-introduced, with no reference to his earlier appearances, in a scene, in which he is apparently introduced to Nancy Drew for the first time, as a young hotshot lawyer from the city District Attorney’s office.

The TV show marked the first time that the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew met and worked together as they had never done so in the context of the books at that time (up to that point). In the first episode of the second season (“The Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew Meet Dracula”) they meet in a hotel room in Europe. The boys, tracking their father, who was working on a case with Nancy Drew. Though the relationship between Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys is mostly platonic, there is a heavily-implied romance between Nancy Drew and Frank Hardy. In one episode (“Mystery of the Hollywood Phantom”) they kiss briefly.

The show was filmed on the studio lot on parts of Colonial Street, the backlot street which was later used in the Tom Hanks film The Burbs and was used as Wisteria Lane in the hit TV series Desperate Housewives.

A number of well known actors appeared in episodes of The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries, either as celebrity guest stars or before they achieved subsequent fame.

Celebrities who appeared in episodes included Ricky Nelson (The Flickering Torch Mystery); Bob Crane (A Haunting We Will Go); Lorne Greene, Bernie Taupin, Trini Lopez and Paul Williams (The Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew Meet Dracula, where Williams sang the song “Hell of It”, which originally appeared on his 1974 starring film Phantom of the Paradise); Jaclyn Smith, Robert Wagner, Casey Kasem and Dennis Weaver (Mystery of the Hollywood Phantom); Tony Dow (The Creatures Who Came on Sunday); Maureen McCormick (Nancy Drew’s Love Match); William Campbell and Missy Gold (Will The Real Santa …?); Lloyd Bochner and Dorothy Malone (The House on Possessed Hill); Diana Muldaur (Sole Survivor); Ray Milland and Howard Duff (Voodoo Doll); Vic Damone, Fabian and Troy Donahue (Mystery on the Avalanche Express); Jack Jones (Death Surf); Pernell Roberts and Joseph Cotten (Arson and Old Lace); Kevin Tighe”Last Kiss of Summer” Dana Andrews and Patrick Macnee (Assault on the Tower); John Colicos (Search for Atlantis); June Lockhart and Robert Loggia (Dangerous Waters); and Robert Karnes, who guest starred as a sheriff in four episodes: Mystery of the Fallen Angels, A Haunting We Will Go, The Mystery of the Diamond Triangle, and The Mystery of Pirate’s Cove (all 1977).

Famous actors who appeared in the series earlier in their career included Jamie Lee Curtis, Robert Englund and A Martinez (The Mystery of the Fallen Angels); Rosalind Chao (The Mystery of the Jade Kwan Yin); Mark Harmon and Martin Kove (The Mystery of the Solid Gold Kicker); Anne Lockhart (The Mystery of the African Safari and The Last Kiss of Summer); Rick Springfield (Will The Real Santa …?); Nicholas Hammond and John Karlen (The Lady on Thursday at Ten); Melanie Griffith (The House on Possessed Hill); Kim Cattrall and Linda Dano (Voodoo Doll); Valerie Bertinelli, Stepfanie Kramer and Kim Lankford (Campus Terror); and Ana Alicia (Life on the Line).

Bernie Taupin, the composer and musical partner of Elton John, appeared in the two-part episode The Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew Meet Dracula, as a young British musician.

Darleen Carr, who guest starred in the episode Search for Atlantis, is the sister of Charmian Carr, who played Liesl von Trapp in the Robert Wise film adaptation of The Sound of Music.

Producer Glen A. Larson also produced the science fiction series Battlestar Galactica, which aired in 1978-’79 and 1980. A number of actors who appeared in The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries were also either cast members or guest stars of that series, including Lorne Greene, Maren Jensen, Anne Lockhart, Rick Springfield, Ana Alicia, Patrick Macnee and John Colicos.

Happy Birthday Victor Mature

Today is the 102nd birthday of the movie actor Victor Mature.  His fame and popularity rivaled any other male actor of the time.  He starred in every genre of film, then retired to a ranch.  The world is a better place because he was in it and still feels the loss that he has left.

NAME: Victor Mature
OCCUPATION: Film Actor, Theater Actor
BIRTH DATE: January 29, 1913
DEATH DATE: August 4, 1999
PLACE OF BIRTH: Louisville, Kentucky
PLACE OF DEATH: Rancho Santa Fe, California

BEST KNOWN FOR: Victor Mature was a film actor who became a sex symbol in the 1940s with hordes of adoring female fans.

Actor. Born on January 29, 1913, in Louisville, Kentucky. The son of an Austrian scissors grinder, Mature left school at the age of 15. He then took on a string of odd jobs to support himself, including selling candy. Four years later, he headed out to Hollywood.

Mature started his acting career at the Pasadena Community Playhouse, appearing in more than 60 plays. He got a small role in 1939’s The Housekeeper’s Daughter, making his first on-screen appearance. He graduated to a more substantial part in the movie One Million B.C. (1940). The film made him a star and was the first of many roles that showcased his good looks and muscular physique.

In the early 1940s, Mature appeared in several different types of films – comedy, adventure, drama, and suspense. He even appeared in such musicals as No, No, Nanette (1940), Seven Days’ Leave (1942) with Lucille Ball, and My Gal Sal (1942) with Rita Hayworth. Mature starred in a number of films opposite Betty Grable, including I Wake Up Screaming (1941) and Footlight Serenade (1942). Sometimes called “the Hunk,” he became a very popular film idol and had many adoring female fans.

Putting acting on hold, Mature joined the U.S. Coast Guard during World War II. After the war, Mature returned to Hollywood and turned in arguably two of his best performances. In the John Ford-directed western My Darling Clementine (1946), Mature played the legendary Dr. John “Doc” Holliday alongside Henry Fonda as Wyatt Earp. In the crime drama Kiss of Death (1947), he starred as Nick Bianco, an ex-con who tries to go straight, but is menaced by someone from his criminal past.

Two years later, Mature took on one of his most famous roles as the long-haired hero in the biblical epic Samson and Delilah (1949). He starred opposite Hedy Lamarr as the legendary temptress. Mature continued to be to a in-demand leading man in the 1950s and appeared in several more epic films, such as The Robe (1953), The Egyptian (1954), and Hannibal (1960).

At the age of 46, Mature retired from Hollywood. He moved to Rancho Santa Fe, California, and spent his time playing golf and pursuing his hobbies. He was lured back into acting a few times over the years, appearing such films as After the Fox (1966) with Peter Sellers and Every Little Crook and Nanny (1972) with Lynn Redgrave. He made his television debut in Samson and Delilah (1984) as Samson’s father. This role turned out to be his last.

Mature died after battling cancer on August 4, 1999, in Rancho Santa Fe, California. He married five times, but his first two were very brief. Mature married for third time in 1948 but got divorced in 1955. His fourth marriage to Adrienne Joy Urwick in 1959 lasted a decade. In 1974, he married Lorey Sabena, and they had a daughter named Victoria. Besides his many marriages, Mature was romantically linked to co-star Rita Hayworth and other several other actresses.

FILMOGRAPHY AS ACTOR
Samson and Delilah (1-Apr-1984)
Firepower (27-Apr-1979)
Won Ton Ton, the Dog Who Saved Hollywood (26-May-1976)
Every Little Crook and Nanny (14-Jun-1972)
Head (6-Nov-1968) · The Big Victor
After the Fox (8-Sep-1966) · Tony Powell
The Tartars (1961)
Hannibal (21-Dec-1959)
The Big Circus (5-Jul-1959) · Henry Jasper Whirling
The Bandit of Zhobe (Apr-1959)
Timbuktu (31-Mar-1959) · Mike Conway
Escort West (2-Nov-1958) · Ben Lassiter
China Doll (8-Jun-1958) · Capt. Cliff Brandon
Tank Force (22-Apr-1958)
The Long Haul (27-Aug-1957)
Pickup Alley (2-Apr-1957) · Charles Sturgis
Zarak (Dec-1956)
Safari (20-Jun-1956) · Ken
The Sharkfighters (1956)
The Last Frontier (7-Dec-1955) · Jed Cooper
Violent Saturday (Apr-1955)
Chief Crazy Horse (Apr-1955) · Crazy Horse
Betrayed (7-Sep-1954) · The Scarf
The Egyptian (24-Aug-1954)
Demetrius and the Gladiators (18-Jun-1954) · Demetrius
Dangerous Mission (6-Mar-1954) · Matt Hallett
Veils of Bagdad (7-Oct-1953)
The Robe (16-Sep-1953) · Demetrius
Affair with a Stranger (20-Jun-1953)
The Glory Brigade (20-May-1953) · Lt. Sam Pryor
Million Dollar Mermaid (4-Dec-1952) · James Sullivan
Androcles and the Lion (Dec-1952)
Something for the Birds (Oct-1952)
The Las Vegas Story (1-Jan-1952) · Dave Andrews
Gambling House (17-Mar-1951)
Stella (20-Jul-1950)
Wabash Avenue (31-Mar-1950)
Samson and Delilah (31-Oct-1949) · Samson
Red, Hot and Blue (19-Oct-1949)
Easy Living (8-Oct-1949) · Pete Wilson
Cry of the City (29-Sep-1948)
Fury at Furnace Creek (30-Apr-1948)
Kiss of Death (27-Aug-1947) · Nick Bianco
Moss Rose (30-May-1947)
My Darling Clementine (3-Dec-1946)
Seven Days’ Leave (13-Nov-1942) · Johnny Grey
Footlight Serenade (1-Aug-1942)
My Gal Sal (30-Apr-1942) · Paul Dresser
Song of the Islands (5-Feb-1942) · Jefferson Harper, Jr.
The Shanghai Gesture (25-Dec-1941) · Dr. Omar
I Wake Up Screaming (14-Nov-1941) · Frankie Christopher
No, No, Nanette (13-Dec-1940)
Captain Caution (9-Aug-1940) · Dan Marvin
One Million B.C. (26-Apr-1940) · Tumak
The Housekeeper’s Daughter (1-Sep-1939)

Happy Birthday Jackson Pollock

Today is the 103rd birthday of Jackson Pollock.  Some of his art pushes some people’s definitions of art because they do not see it as a representation of anything they recognize.  Fortunately, the definition of art is not if someone can see a red barn on a grassy hill in it.  His art elicits emotions, questions and wonder; it draws the viewer in, blurs the periphery and creates a pure experience.  The world is a better place because he was in it and still feels the loss that he has left.

NAME: Jackson Pollock
OCCUPATION: Painter
BIRTH DATE: January 28, 1912
DEATH DATE: August 11, 1956
PLACE OF BIRTH: Cody, Wyoming
PLACE OF DEATH: East Hampton, New York
FULL NAME: Paul Jackson Pollock

BEST KNOWN FOR: Famous 20th century artist Jackson Pollock revolutionized the world of modern art with his unique abstract painting techniques.

Paul Jackson Pollock was born on January 28, 1912 in Cody, Wyoming. His father, LeRoy Pollock, was a farmer and a government land surveyor, and his mother, Stella May McClure, was a fierce woman with artistic ambitions. The youngest of five brothers, he was a needy child and was often in search of attention that he did not receive.

During his youth, Pollock’s family moved around the West, to Arizona and throughout California. When Pollock was 8, his father, who was an abusive alcoholic, left the family, and Pollock’s older brother, Charles, became like a father to him. Charles was an artist, and was considered to be the best in the family. He had a significant influence on his younger brother’s future ambitions. While the family was living in Los Angeles, Pollock enrolled in the Manual Arts High School, where he learned to draw but had little success expressing himself. He was eventually expelled for starting fights.

In 1930, at age 18, Pollock moved to New York City to live with his brother, Charles. He soon began studying with Charles’s art teacher, representational regionalist painter Thomas Hart Benton. Pollock spent much of his time with Benton, often babysitting Benton’s young son, and the Bentons eventually became like the family Pollock felt he never had.

When Pollock’s father died suddenly in 1933, he fell into a deep depression. He got drunk one night and started a fight with Charles’s wife, Elizabeth. During the fight, Pollock threatened her with an ax, and then turned around and sliced through one of his brothe’’s paintings, which had been scheduled for an upcoming exhibition. Pollock was forced to leave Charles’s house, and in 1934, his brother Sanford arrived in New York to help take care of him.

During the Depression, President Franklin D. Roosevelt started a program called the Public Works of Art Project, one of many intended to jumpstart the economy. Artists such as Pollock were given $24.86 to do 20 hours of work a week. The program resulted in thousands of works of art by Pollock and contemporaries such as José Clemente Orozco, Willem de Kooning and Mark Rothko.

But despite being busy with work, Pollock could not stop drinking. In 1937, he began receiving psychiatric treatment for alcoholism from a Jungian analyst who fueled his interest in symbolism and Native American art. In 1939, Pollock discovered Pablo Picasso‘s show at the Museum of Modern Art. Picasso’s artistic experimentation encouraged Pollock to push the boundaries of his own work.

“Abstract painting is abstract. It confronts you. There was a reviewer a while back who wrote that my pictures didn’t have any beginning or any end. He didn’t mean it as a compliment, but it was.”

In 1942, Pollock met Lee Krasner, a Jewish contemporary artist and an established painter in her own right, at a party. She later visited Pollock at his studio and was impressed with his art. They soon became romantically involved.

Around this time, Peggy Guggenheim began expressing interest in Pollock’s paintings. During a meeting she had with the painter Pete Norman, he saw some of Pollock’s paintings lying on the floor and commented that Pollock’s art was possibly the most original American art he had seen. Guggenheim immediately put Pollock on contract.

Krasner and Pollock married in October 1945, and with the help of a $2,000 loan from Guggenheim, bought a farmhouse in the Springs area of East Hampton, on Long Island. Guggenheim gave Pollock a stipend to work, and Krasner dedicated her time to helping promote and manage his artwork. Pollock was happy to be in the country again, surrounded by nature, which had a major impact on his projects. He was energized by his new surroundings and by his supportive wife. In 1946, he converted the barn to a private studio, where he continued to develop his “drip” technique, the paint literally flowing off of his tools and onto the canvases that he typically placed on the floor.

In 1947, Guggenheim turned Pollock over to Betty Parsons, who was not able to pay him a stipend but would give him money as his artwork sold.

Pollock’s most famous paintings were made during this “drip period” between 1947 and 1950. He became wildly popular after being featured in a four-page spread, on August 8, 1949, in Life magazine. The article asked of Pollock, “Is he the greatest living painter in the United States?” The Life article changed Pollock’s life overnight. Many other artists resented his fame, and some of his friends suddenly became competitors. As his fame grew, some critics began calling Pollock a fraud, causing even him to question his own work. During this time he would often look to Krasner to determine which paintings were good, unable to make the differentiation himself.

In 1949, Pollock’s show at the Betty Parsons Gallery sold out, and he suddenly became the best-paid avant-garde painter in America. But fame was not good for Pollock, who, as a result of it, became dismissive of other artists, even his former teach and mentor, Thomas Hart Benton. Furthermore, acts of self-promotion made him feel like a phony, and he would sometimes give interviews in which his answers were scripted. When Hans Namuth, a documentary photographer, began producing a film of Pollock working, Pollock found it impossible to “perform” for the camera. Instead, he went back to drinking heavily.

Pollock’s 1950 show at the Parsons gallery did not sell, though many of the paintings included, such as his “Number 4, 1950,” are considered masterpieces today. It was during this time that Pollock began to consider symbolic titles misleading, and instead began using numbers and dates for each work he completed. Pollock’s art also became darker in color. He abandoned the “drip” method, and began painting in black and white, which proved unsuccessful. Depressed and haunted, Pollock would frequently meet his friends at the nearby Cedar Bar, drinking until it closed and getting into violent fights.

Concerned for Pollock’s well-being, Krasner called on Pollock’s mother to help. Her presence helped to stabilize Pollock, and he began to paint again. He completed his masterpiece, “The Deep,” during this period.

But as the demand from collectors for Pollock’s art grew, so too did the pressure he felt, and with it his alcoholism.

Overwhelmed with Pollock’s needs, Krasner was also unable to work. Their marriage became troubled, and Pollock’s health was failing. He started dating other women, and by 1956, he had quit painting, and his marriage was in shambles. Krasner reluctantly left for Paris to give Pollock space.

Just after 10 p.m. on August 11, 1956, Pollock, who had been drinking, crashed his car into a tree less than a mile from his home. Ruth Kligman, his girlfriend at the time, was thrown from the car and survived. Another passenger, Edith Metzger, was killed, and Pollock was thrown 50 feet into the air and into a birch tree. He died immediately.

Krasner returned from France to bury Pollock, and subsequently went into a mourning that would last the rest of her life. Retaining her creativity and productivity, Krasner lived and painted for another 20 years. She also managed the sale of Pollock’s paintings, carefully distributing them to museums. Before her death, Krasner set up the Pollock-Krasner Foundation, which gives grants to young, promising artists. When Krasner died on June 19, 1984, the estate was worth $20 million.

In December 1956, the year after his death, Pollock was given a memorial retrospective exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, and then another in 1967. His work has continued to be honored on a large scale, with frequent exhibitions at both the MoMA in New York and the Tate in London. He remains one of the most influential artists of the 20th century.

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Happy Birthday Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Today is the 259th birthday of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.  His birthday, especially the mile-marker ages, is celebrated around the world with festivals and special concerts.  I have included a clip of his Eine kleine Nachtmusik to remind you that you know about him than you may think. The world is a better place because he was in it and still feels the loss that he has left.

Wolfgang-amadeus-mozart

NAME: Wolfgang Mozart
OCCUPATION: Songwriter, Pianist
BIRTH DATE: January 27, 1756
DEATH DATE: December 05, 1791
PLACE OF BIRTH: Salzburg, Austria
PLACE OF DEATH: Vienna, Austria
FULL NAME: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
AKA: Wolfgang Mozart

BEST KNOWN FOR: A prolific artist, Austrian composer Wolfgang Mozart created a string of operas, concertos, symphonies and sonatas that profoundly shaped classical music.

Today is the birthday of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, born in Salzburg, Austria. By the age of five, he was proficient at the violin and piano and had begun composing. In his short lifetime, he composed more than 600 works in almost every genre of the day. Joseph Haydn is said to have told Mozart’s father, “Before God and as an honest man I tell you that your son is the greatest composer known to me either in person or by name.” He later wrote of Mozart that “posterity will not see such a talent again in 100 years.”

Mozart’s premature death has been a matter of great interest over the years. He died suddenly at the age of 35, and people seem to want his death to be as remarkable as his life. His death certificate reads only “fever and rash,” which are not so much causes of death as they are symptoms. Because there’s so little data to go on, rumors have been rife: he was poisoned by a jealous rival; he accidentally poisoned himself with mercury, trying to treat a case of syphilis; he contracted parasites; he was murdered by Jews, or Catholics, or Freemasons. There was no evidence of foul play. He had been productive in his career and was in good health in the months leading up to his death, but two days after his last public performance, he came down quite suddenly with a high fever, headache, muscle pain, and vomiting. His body exuded a foul-smelling odor. Two weeks later, he suffered a seizure, fell into a coma, and died.

Mozart himself started the rumor that he was poisoned, because after he fell ill, he told his wife, “My end will not be long in coming; for sure, someone has poisoned me!” There’s a theory that Mozart was having an affair with a married woman whose husband found out and murdered him. In his play Mozart and Salieri (1830), Aleksandr Pushkin speculated that rival composer Antonio Salieri poisoned Mozart, but he would have had no reason to; although they were rivals, the two composers were friendly, and Salieri’s position and income were far superior to Mozart’s at that time.

A letter written by Mozart not long before he became ill refers to a hearty meal of pork cutlets, one of his favorite foods. It’s possible the pork was infested by Trichinella parasites, which cause trichinosis, the symptoms of which are fever, vomiting, swelling, and muscle and joint pain.

In 2009, a paper published in The Annals of Internal Medicine speculated that the great composer was brought down by a common streptococcal infection — like strep throat — that caused his kidneys to fail. Researchers studied death certificates in Vienna around that time, and there were many reports of deaths involving excessive swelling, which can be a sign of renal failure. In his last days, Mozart’s swelling was so severe that he was unable even to turn over in bed.

Regardless of the cause of death, the end result was the same, and Mozart died on December 5, 1791, at the age of 35. It’s a persistent myth that Mozart was buried in a pauper’s grave. While it’s true that he was buried in a communal plot, that was common practice in Vienna at the time. Only members of the aristocracy received individual burials as we think of them today; people of Mozart’s status and below were sewn, naked, into a linen sack, and placed into a pit with four or five other bodies. Quicklime was sprinkled over the corpses to speed their decomposition. After about seven years, the remains were exhumed and dispersed so that the grave could be reused. As a result, Mozart’s body is lost to us, and scientists have never been able to examine it using modern technology.

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Happy Birthday Paul Newman

Today is the 90th birthday of Paul Newman.  I think (at least hope) that we all have a similar desire for our life, a sort of State Park approach to humanity and the world:  to leave it better than we found it.  Paul Newman absolutely did.  The work he did on film has made the world a more beautiful place and the work his charities continue to do is a legacy that we will all benefit from for generations.  The world is a better place because he was in it and still feels the loss that he has left it.

NAME: Paul Newman
OCCUPATION: Film Actor, Theater Actor, Television Actor, Race Car Driver, Entrepreneur
BIRTH DATE: January 26, 1925
DEATH DATE: September 26, 2008
EDUCATION: Kenyon College, Yale School of Drama
PLACE OF BIRTH: Cleveland, Ohio
PLACE OF DEATH: Westport, Connecticut

BEST KNOWN FOR: Paul Newman came to be known as one of the finest actors of his time. He also started the Newman’s Own food company, which donates all profits to charity.

Paul Leonard Newman was born on January 26, 1925 in Cleveland, Ohio. Newman grew up in Shaker Heights, Ohio, with his older brother Arthur and his parents, Arthur and Teresa. His father owned a sporting-goods store and his mother was a homemaker who loved the theatre. Newman got his first taste of acting while doing school plays, but it was not his first love at the time. In high school, he played football and hoped to be a professional athlete.

Graduating high school in 1943, Newman briefly attended college before enlisting in the U.S. Navy Air Corps. He wanted to be a pilot, but he was told that he could never fly a plane as he was colorblind. He ended up serving as a radio operator and spent part of World War II serving in the Pacific.

After leaving the military in 1946, Paul Newman attended Kenyon College in his home state of Ohio. He was on an athletic scholarship and played on the school’s football team. But after getting into some trouble, Newman changed course. “I got thrown in jail and kicked off the football team. Since I was determined not to study very much, I majored in theater the last two years,” he told Interview magazine in 1998.

After finishing college in 1949, Newman did summer stock theater in Wisconsin where he met his first wife, actress Jacqueline Witte. The couple soon married, and Newman continued to act until his father’s death in 1950. He and his wife moved to Ohio to run the family business for a time. Their first child, a son named Scott, was born there. After asking his brother to take over the business, Newman and his family relocated to Connecticut, where he studied at the Yale School of Drama.

Running out of money, Newman left Yale after a year and tried his luck in New York. He studied with Lee Strasberg at the famed Actor’s Studio alongside Marlon Brando, James Dean and Geraldine Page.

Newman made his Broadway debut in William Inge’s Pulitzer Prize-winning comedy Picnic in 1953. During rehearsals he met actress Joanne Woodward, who was serving as an understudy for the production. While they were reportedly attracted to each other, the happily-married Newman did not pursue a romantic relationship with the young actress.

Around this time, Newman and his wife welcomed their second child together, a daughter named Susan. Picnic ran for 14 months, helping Newman support his growing family. He also found work on the then-emerging medium of television.

In 1954, Paul Newman made his film debut in The Silver Chalice for which he received terrible reviews. He had better success on Broadway in the Tony Award-winning The Desperate Hours (1955), in which he played an escaped convict who terrorizes a suburban family. During the run of the hit play, he and his wife added a third child — a daughter named Stephanie — to their family.

A winning turn on television helped pave the way for Newman’s return to Hollywood. Working with director Arthur Penn, he appeared in an episode of Philco Playhouse, “The Death of Billy the Kid,” written by Gore Vidal. Newman teamed up with Penn again for an episode of Playwrights ’56 for a story about a worn-down and battered boxer. Two projects became feature films: Somebody Up There Likes Me (1956) and The Left-Handed Gun (1958).

In Somebody Up There Likes Me (1956), Newman again played a boxer. This time he took on the role of real-life prizefighter Rocky Graziano — and demonstrated his considered acting talents to movie-goers and critics alike. His reputation was further magnified with Penn’s The Left-Handed Gun, an adaptation of Gore Vidal’s earlier teleplay about Billy the Kid.

That same year, Paul Newman starred as Brick in the film version of Tennessee Williams‘ play, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958), opposite Elizabeth Taylor. He gave another strong performance as a hard-drinking former athlete and disinterested husband who struggles against different types of pressures exerted on him by his wife (Taylor) and his overpowering father (Burl Ives). Once dismissed as just another handsome face, Newman showed that he could handle the challenges of such a complex character. He was nominated for his first Academy Award for this role.

The Long Hot Summer (1958) marked the first big-screen pairing of Newman and Joanne Woodward. The two had already become a couple off-screen while he was still married to his first wife, and they wed in 1958 soon after his divorce was finalized. The next year, Newman returned to Broadway to star in the original production of Tennessee Williams’ Sweet Bird of Youth. The production saw Newman acting opposite the great Geraldine Page, and was directed by Elia Kazan.

Newman continued to thrive professionally. He starred in Otto Preminger’s Exodus (1960) about the founding of the state of Israel. The following year, he took on one of his most famous roles. In The Hustler (1961), Newman played Fast Eddie, a slick, small-time pool shark who takes on the legendary Minnesota Fats (Jackie Gleason). For his work on the film, Paul Newman received his second Academy Award nomination.

Taking on another remarkable part, Newman played the title character — an arrogant, unprincipled cowboy — in Hud (1963). The movie posters for the film described the character as “the man with the barbed wire soul,” and Newman earned critical acclaim and another Academy Award nomination for his work as yet another on-screen antihero.

In Cool Hand Luke (1967), Newman played a rebellious inmate at a southern prison. His convincing and charming portrayal led audiences to cheer on this convict in his battle against prison authorities. No matter how hard they leaned on Luke, he refused to bend to their will. This thoroughly enjoyable and realistic performance led to Paul Newman’s fourth Academy Award nomination.

The next year, Newman stepped behind the cameras to direct his wife in Rachel, Rachel (1968). Woodward starred as an older schoolteacher who dreams of love. A critical success, the film earned four Academy Award nominations, including one for Best Picture.

A lesser-known film from this time helped trigger a new passion for the actor. While working on the car racing film, Winning (1969), Newman went to a professional driving program as part of his preparation for the role. He discovered that he loved racing and started to devote some of his time to the sport.

That same year, Newman starred alongside Robert Redford in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969). He played Butch to Redford’s Sundance, and the pairing was a huge success with audiences, bringing in more than $46 million domestically. Recapturing their on-screen camaraderie, Newman and Redford played suave con men in The Sting (1973), another hit at the box office.

During the 1980s Newman continued to amass critical praise for his work. In Sydney Pollack’s Absence of Malice (1981), he played a man victimized by the media. The following year he starred as a down-and-out lawyer as The Verdict (1982). Both films earned Newman Academy Award nominations.

While he was widely considered one of the finest actors of his time, Paul Newman had never won an Academy Award. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences decided to correct this error by giving Newman an honorary award for his contributions to film in 1985. With his trademark sense of humor, Newman said in his acceptance speech that “I am especially grateful that this did not come wrapped in a gift certificate to Forest Lawn [a famous cemetery].”

He returned to the character of Fast Eddie from The Hustler in 1986’s The Color of Money. This time around, his character was no longer the up-and-coming hustler, but a worn-out liquor salesman. He is drawn back in the world of pool by mentoring a young upstart (Tom Cruise). For his work on the film, Paul Newman finally won the Academy Award for Best Actor.

Approaching his seventies, Newman continued to delight audiences with more character-driven roles. He played an aging, but crafty rascal who struggles with renewing a relationship with his estranged son in Nobody’s Fool (1994).

Newman played a crime boss in Road to Perdition (2002), which starred Tom Hanks as a hit man who must protect his son from Newman’s character. This role brought him another Academy Award nomination — this time for Best Supporting Actor.

In his later years, Paul Newman took fewer acting roles, but was still able to deliver impressive performances. He earned an Emmy Award for his nuanced depiction of a lay-about father in the television miniseries Empire Falls (2005), which was adapted from the Pulitzer Prize-winning Richard Russo novel. The miniseries also provided him the opportunity to work with his wife, Joanne Woodward.

Around this time, Paul Newman scored his first racing victory at a Connecticut track in 1972. He went on to win a national Sports Car Club of America title four years later. In 1977, Newman made the leap and became a professional racer. In 1995, Newman served as part of the winning team at the Rolex 24 at Daytona. With his victory, Newman became the oldest driver to win this 24-hour-long race.

Newman started his own food company in the early 1980s. He started out the business by making bottles of salad dressing to give out as gifts for Christmas one year with his friend, writer A. E. Hotchner. Newman then had an unusual idea as to what to do with the leftovers — he wanted to try selling the dressing to stores. The two went on to found Newman’s Own, whose profits and royalties are used for educational and charitable purposes. The company’s product line now extends from dressings to sauces to snacks to cookies. Since the inception of Newman’s Own, over $250 million has been donated to thousands of charities worldwide.

Newman’s other charitable foundations include the Scott Newman Center, which he founded in 1978, after his only son died of an accidental overdose of alcohol and prescription drugs. The group seeks to stop drug abuse through educational programs. He also established the Hole in the Wall Camps to give children with life-threatening illnesses a memorable, free holiday. In 1988, the first residential summer camp was opened in Ashford, Connecticut. There are now eight camps in the United States, Ireland, the United Kingdom and France. Some of the funds raised by Newman’s Own have gone to support the Hole in the Wall Camps.

Known for his love of race cars, Newman lent his distinctive voice to the 2006 animated film Cars, playing the part of Doc Hudson — a retired racecar. He also served as the narrator for the 2007 documentary The Price of Sugar, which explored the work of Father Christopher Hartley and his efforts to help the workers in the Dominican Republic’s sugar cane fields.

That same year, Newman announced that he was retiring from acting. “I’m not able to work anymore as an actor at the level I would want to,” he said during an appearance on Good Morning America. “You start to lose your memory, your confidence, your invention. So that’s pretty much a closed book for me.”

Newman, however, wasn’t going to leave the business entirely. He was planning on directing Of Mice and Men at the Westport Country Playhouse the following year. But he ended up withdrawing from the production because of health problems, and rumors began to circulate that the great actor was seriously ill. Statements from the actor and his representatives simply said he was “doing nicely” and, reflective of Newman’s sense of humor, being treated “for athlete’s foot and hair loss.”

A private man, Newman chose to keep the true nature of his illness to himself. He succumbed to cancer at his Westport, Connecticut home on September 26, 2008. This is where he and his wife had lived for numerous years to get away from the spotlight and where they chose to raise their three daughters, Nell, Melissa and Clea.

As the news of his death spread, praise and tributes began pouring in. “There is a point where feelings go beyond words. I have lost a real friend. My life — and this country — is better for his being in it,” friend Robert Redford said after learning about Newman’s death.

Paul Newman will be long remembered for his great films, his vibrant lifestyle and his extensive charitable works, and his relationship with Joanne Woodward will always be regarded as one of the most successful and enduring love stories in Hollywood history.

 

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