Happy Birthday Marilyn Monroe

Tomorrow is the 88th birthday of Marilyn Monroe.  Do yourself a favor and watch The Misfits sometime soon.  You won’t be disappointed.

NAME: Marilyn Monroe
OCCUPATION: Film Actress, Pin-up
BIRTH DATE: June 01, 1926
DEATH DATE: August 05, 1962
PLACE OF BIRTH: Los Angeles, California
PLACE OF DEATH: Los Angeles, California
ORIGINALLY: Norma Jeane Mortensen

BEST KNOWN FOR: Actress Marilyn Monroe overcame a difficult childhood to become of the world’s biggest and most enduring sex symbols. She died of a drug overdose in 1962.

Marilyn Monroe (born Norma Jeane Mortenson but baptized and raised as Norma Jeane Baker; June 1, 1926 – August 5, 1962) was an American actress, singer, model and showgirl who became a major sex symbol, starring in a number of commercially successful motion pictures during the 1950s.

After spending much of her childhood in foster homes, Monroe began a career as a model, which led to a film contract in 1946. Her early film appearances were minor, but her performances in The Asphalt Jungle and All About Eve (both 1950) drew attention to her—by now her hair was dyed blonde. By 1953, Monroe had progressed to a leading role in Niagara (1953), a melodramatic film noir that dwelled on her seductiveness. Her “dumb blonde” persona was used to comic effect in subsequent films such as Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953), How to Marry a Millionaire (1953) and The Seven Year Itch (1955). Limited by typecasting, Monroe studied at the Actors Studio to broaden her range. Her dramatic performance in Bus Stop (1956) was hailed by critics, and she received a Golden Globe nomination. Her production company, Marilyn Monroe Productions, released The Prince and the Showgirl (1957), for which she received a BAFTA Award nomination and won a David di Donatello award. She received a Golden Globe Award for her performance in Some Like It Hot (1959). Monroe’s final completed film was The Misfits, co-starring Clark Gable with the screenplay written by her then-husband, Arthur Miller.

The final years of Monroe’s life were marked by illness, personal problems, and a reputation for being unreliable and difficult to work with. The circumstances of her death, from an overdose of barbiturates, have been the subject of conjecture. Though officially classified as a “probable suicide”, the possibility of an accidental overdose, as well as the possibility of homicide, have not been ruled out. In 1999, Monroe was ranked as the sixth greatest female star of all time by the American Film Institute. In the years and decades following her death, Monroe has often been cited as both a pop and a cultural icon as well as the quintessential American female sex symbol.

On August 8, 1962, Monroe was interred in a crypt at Corridor of Memories #24, at the Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery in Los Angeles. Lee Strasberg delivered the eulogy. Joe DiMaggio took control of the funeral arrangements which consisted of only 31 close family and friends. Police were also present to keep the press away. Her casket was solid bronze and was lined with champagne colored silk. Allan “Whitey” Snyder did her make-up which was supposedly a promise made in earlier years if she were to die before him. She was wearing her favorite green Emilio Pucci dress. In her hands was a small bouquet of pink teacup roses.  For the next 20 years, red roses were placed in a vase attached to the crypt, courtesy of DiMaggio.

 

Enhanced by Zemanta

Happy Birthday Christine Jorgensen

Today is the 88th birthday of Christine Jorgensen.  When confronted with people’s opinions about the gender identities of others, I often claim that they are the bravest people we will ever meet.  Think about it.  If how you felt on the inside didn’t match how you looked on the outside and you chose to dress and alter yourself to align those two more closely.  But you know that in making yourself feel more whole, you are going to get stares and snickers every time you left your house.  All day long.  Would you be brave enough to do it?  Would you be strong enough to live your truth?

NAME:  Christine Jorgensen
OCCUPATION:  Singer, Film Actor/Film Actress
BIRTH DATE:  May 30, 1926
DEATH DATE:  May 3, 1989
EDUCATION:  Christopher Columbus High School, New York Institute of Photography
PLACE OF BIRTH:  Bronx, New York
PLACE OF DEATH:  San Clemente, California
ORIGINALLY:  George William Jorgensen Jr.

Best Known For: Entertainer, author and famous transsexual Christine Jorgensen, made headlines in the early 1950s for having a sex change from a man to a woman.

Entertainer, author and famous transsexual Christine Jorgensen was born George William Jorgensen, Jr., on May 30, 1926, in the Bronx, New York. In the early 1950s, Christine Jorgensen made headlines for having a sex change, transforming from a man to a woman. The son of a carpenter, she grew up in the Bronx borough of New York City. At an early age, Jorgensen became aware of feeling like a woman stuck inside a man’s body. She hated boys’ clothes and wondered why his clothes were so different from his older sister Dorothy’s pretty dresses, he wrote in American Weekly in 1953.

As a teenager, Jorgensen said that she felt “lost between the sexes.” She was more envious of girls than he was interested in them. Near the end of high school, Jorgensen found a diversion from her personal struggle — photography. Her father was an amateur photographer and two set up a darkroom at home. She also took classes at the New York Institute of Photography.

Unfortunately, Jorgensen had to put her interest aside when she was drafted into the military in 1945. Being of a small and slight build, she ended up working as a clerk at Fort Dix, New Jersey. After being discharged in 1946, Jorgensen floundered for a bit before deciding to become a woman.

In 1950, Jorgensen traveled to Denmark to begin the transformation from man to woman. The treatment, available only in Europe at the time, included hormone therapy and several operations. Her story became public in 1952 while she was still in a Copenhagen hospital, making big news in the United States. Overwhelmed by the attention, Jorgensen had to deal with such headlines as “Bronx ‘Boy’ Is Now a Girl” and “Dear Mum and Dad, Son Wrote, Have Now Become Your Daughter.”

Returning home to United States in 1953, Jorgensen was met by a sea of reporters at a New York airport. After answering a few questions, she said “I thank you all coming, but I think it’s too much.” Becoming more comfortable with her newfound fame, Jorgensen told her story to American Weekly magazine for a fee. She also developed a nightclub act, later saying, “I decided if they wanted to see me, they would have to pay for it,” according to The New York Times. Happy with her new identity as a woman, she often sang “I Enjoy Being a Girl.”

While she never questioned her choice, many members of the public and the media did not understand and made Jorgensen the subject of ridicule. Even the government was not willing to fully recognize her as a female. Engaged, she was denied a marriage license in 1959 became her birth certificate listed her as “male.”

Although some rejected her, others found her engaging and fascinating. Along with performing, she was a popular lecturer and author of 1967’s Christine Jorgensen: A Personal Biography. Her life even made the big screen in 1970’s The Christine Jorgensen Story.

Jorgensen retired to South California in the early 1970s. She died of bladder and lung cancer on May 3, 1989. Jorgensen’s very public transformation from a man to a woman launched a national discussion about gender identity, and her story stood as an inspiring example to others that suffered from that same feeling about being trapped in the wrong body, or gender dysphoria as it is also called.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Happy Birthday John Fitzgerald Kennedy

Today is the 97th birthday of the 35th president:  JFK.

NAME: John F. Kennedy
OCCUPATION: Civil Rights Activist, U.S. Representative, U.S. President
BIRTH DATE: May 29, 1917
DEATH DATE: November 22, 1963
EDUCATION: Harvard College, The Choate School
PLACE OF BIRTH: Brookline, Massachusetts
PLACE OF DEATH: Dallas, Texas
AKA: JFK

Best Known For: John F. Kennedy, the 35th U.S. president, negotiated the Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty and initiated the Alliance for Progress. He was assassinated in 1963.

John Fitzgerald Kennedy was born on May 29, 1917, in Brookline, Massachusetts. Both the Fitzgeralds and the Kennedys were wealthy and prominent Irish Catholic Boston families. Kennedy’s paternal grandfather, P.J. Kennedy, was a wealthy banker and liquor trader, and his maternal grandfather, John E. Fitzgerald, nicknamed “Honey Fitz,” was a skilled politician who served as a congressman and as the mayor of Boston. Kennedy’s mother, Rose Elizabeth Fitzgerald, was a Boston debutante, and his father, Joseph Kennedy Sr., was a successful banker who made a fortune on the stock market after World War I. Joe Kennedy Sr. went on to a government career as chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission and as an ambassador to Great Britain.

John F. Kennedy, nicknamed “Jack,” was the second oldest of a group of nine extraordinary siblings. His brothers and sisters include Eunice Kennedy, the founder of the Special Olympics; Robert Kennedy, a U.S. Attorney General; and Ted Kennedy, one of the most powerful senators in American history. The Kennedy children remained close-knit and supportive of each other throughout their entire lives.

Joseph and Rose Kennedy largely spurned the world of Boston socialites into which they had been born to focus instead on their children’s education. Joe Kennedy in particular obsessed over every detail of his kids’ lives, a rarity for a father at that time. As a family friend noted, “Most fathers in those days simply weren’t that interested in what their children did. But Joe Kennedy knew what his kids were up to all the time.” Joe Sr. had great expectations for his children, and he sought to instill in them a fierce competitive fire and the belief that winning was everything. He entered his children in swimming and sailing competitions and chided them for finishing in anything but first place. John F. Kennedy’s sister Eunice later recalled, “I was twenty-four before I knew I didn’t have to win something every day.” Jack Kennedy bought into his father’s philosophy that winning was everything. “He hates to lose at anything,” Eunice said. “That’s the only thing Jack gets really emotional about — when he loses.”

Despite his father’s constant reprimands, young Kennedy was a poor student and a mischievous boy. He attended a Catholic boys’ boarding school in Connecticut called Canterbury, where he excelled at English and history, the subjects he enjoyed, but nearly flunked Latin, in which he had no interest. Despite his poor grades, Kennedy continued on to Choate, an elite Connecticut preparatory school. Although he was obviously brilliant — evidenced by the extraordinary thoughtfulness and nuance of his work on the rare occasions when he applied himself — Kennedy remained at best a mediocre student, preferring sports, girls and practical jokes to coursework.

His father wrote to him by way of encouragement, “If I didn’t really feel you had the goods I would be most charitable in my attitude toward your failings … I am not expecting too much, and I will not be disappointed if you don’t turn out to be a real genius, but I think you can be a really worthwhile citizen with good judgment and understanding.” Kennedy was in fact very bookish in high school, reading ceaselessly but not the books his teachers assigned. He was also chronically ill during his childhood and adolescence; he suffered from severe colds, the flu, scarlet fever and even more severe, undiagnosed diseases that forced him to miss months of school at a time and occasionally brought him to the brink of death.

After graduating from Choate and spending one semester at Princeton, Kennedy transferred to Harvard University in 1936. There, he repeated his by then well-established academic pattern, excelling occasionally in the classes he enjoyed, but proving only an average student due to the omnipresent diversions of sports and women. Handsome, charming and blessed with a radiant smile, Kennedy was incredibly popular with his Harvard classmates. His friend Lem Billings recalled, “Jack was more fun than anyone I’ve ever known, and I think most people who knew him felt the same way about him.” Kennedy was also an incorrigible womanizer. He wrote to Billings during his sophomore year, “I can now get tail as often and as free as I want which is a step in the right direction.”

Nevertheless, as an upperclassman, Kennedy finally grew serious about his studies and began to realize his potential. His father had been appointed Ambassador to Great Britain, and on an extended visit in 1939, Kennedy decided to research and write a senior thesis on why Britain was so unprepared to fight Germany in World War II. An incisive analysis of Britain’s failures to meet the Nazi challenge, the paper was so well-received that upon Kennedy’s graduation in 1940 it was published as book, Why England Slept, selling more than 80,000 copies. Kennedy’s father sent him a cablegram in the aftermath of the book’s publication: “Two things I always knew about you one that you are smart two that you are a swell guy love dad.”

Shortly after graduating from Harvard, Kennedy joined the U.S. Navy and was assigned to command a patrol torpedo boat in the South Pacific. On August 2, 1943, his boat, PT-109, was rammed by a Japanese warship and split in two. Two sailors died and Kennedy badly injured his back. Hauling another wounded sailor by the strap of his life vest, Kennedy led the survivors to a nearby island, where they were rescued six days later. The incident earned him the Navy and Marine Corps Medal for “extremely heroic conduct” and a Purple Heart for the injuries he suffered.

However, Kennedy’s older brother, Joseph Kennedy Jr., who had also joined the Navy, was not so fortunate. A pilot, he died when his plane blew up in August 1944. Handsome, athletic, intelligent and ambitious, Joseph Kennedy Jr. had been pegged by his father as the one among his children who would some day become president of the United States. In the aftermath of Joe Jr.’s death, John F. Kennedy took his family’s hopes and aspirations for his older brother upon himself.

Upon his discharge from the Navy, Kennedy worked briefly as reporter for Hearst Newspapers. Then in 1946, at the age of 29, he decided to run for the U.S. House of Representatives from a working class district of Boston, a seat being vacated by Democrat James Michael Curly. Bolstered by his status as a war hero, his family connections and his father’s money, Kennedy won the election handily. However, after the glory and excitement of publishing his first book and serving in World War II, Kennedy found his work in Congress incredibly dull. Despite serving three terms, from 1946 to 1952, Kennedy remained frustrated by what he saw as stifling rules and procedures that prevented a young, inexperienced representative from making an impact. “We were just worms in the House,” he later recalled. “Nobody paid attention to us nationally.”

In 1952, seeking greater influence and a larger platform, Kennedy challenged Republican incumbent Henry Cabot Lodge for his seat in the U.S. Senate. Once again backed by his father’s vast financial resources, Kennedy hired his younger brother Robert as his campaign manager. Robert Kennedy put together what one journalist called “the most methodical, the most scientific, the most thoroughly detailed, the most intricate, the most disciplined and smoothly working state-wide campaign in Massachusetts history – and possibly anywhere else.” In an election year in which Republicans gained control of both Houses of Congress, Kennedy nevertheless won a narrow victory, giving him considerable clout within the Democratic Party. According to one of his aides, the decisive factor in Kennedy’s victory was his personality: “He was the new kind of political figure that people were looking for that year, dignified and gentlemanly and well-educated and intelligent, without the air of superior condescension.”

Shortly after his election, Kennedy met a beautiful young woman named Jacqueline Bouvier at a dinner party and, in his own words, “leaned across the asparagus and asked her for a date.” They were married on September 12, 1953. Jack and Jackie Kennedy had three children: Caroline Kennedy, John F. Kennedy Jr. and Patrick Kennedy.

Kennedy continued to suffer frequent illnesses during his career in the Senate. While recovering from one surgery, he wrote another book, profiling eight senators who had taken courageous but unpopular stances. Profiles in Courage won the 1957 Pulitzer Prize for biography, and Kennedy remains the only American president to win a Pulitzer Prize.

Kennedy’s eight-year Senate career was relatively undistinguished. Bored by the Massachusetts-specific issues on which he had to spend much of his time, Kennedy was more drawn to the international challenges posed by the Soviet Union’s growing nuclear arsenal and the Cold War battle for the hearts and minds of Third World nations. In 1956, Kennedy was very nearly selected as Democratic presidential candidate Adlai Stevenson’s running mate, but was ultimately passed over for Estes Kefauver from Tennessee. Four years later, Kennedy decided to run for president.

In the 1960 Democratic primaries, Kennedy outmaneuvered his main opponent, Hubert Humphrey, with superior organization and financial resources. Selecting Senate Majority Leader Lyndon B. Johnson as his running mate, Kennedy faced Vice President Richard Nixon in the general election. The election turned largely on a series of televised national debates in which Kennedy bested Nixon, an experienced and skilled debater, by appearing relaxed, healthy and vigorous in contrast to his pallid and tense opponent. On November 8, 1960, Kennedy defeated Nixon by a razor-thin margin to become the 35th president of the United States of America.

Kennedy’s election was historic in several respects. At the age of 43, he was the second youngest American president in history, second only to Theodore Roosevelt, who assumed the office at 42. He was also the first Catholic president and the first president born in the 20th century. Delivering his legendary inaugural address on January 20, 1961, Kennedy sought to inspire all Americans to more active citizenship. “Ask not what your country can do for you,” he said. “Ask what you can do for your country.”

Kennedy’s greatest accomplishments during his brief tenure as president came in the arena of foreign affairs. Capitalizing on the spirit of activism he had helped to ignite, Kennedy created the Peace Corps by executive order in 1961. By the end of the century, over 170,000 Peace Corps volunteers would serve in 135 countries. Also in 1961, Kennedy created the Alliance for Progress to foster greater economic ties with Latin America, in hopes of alleviating poverty and thwarting the spread of communism in the region.

Kennedy also presided over a series of international crises. On April 15, 1961, he authorized a covert mission to overthrow leftist Cuban leader Fidel Castro with a group of 1,500 CIA-trained Cuban refugees. Known as the Bay of Pigs Invasion, the mission proved an unmitigated failure, causing Kennedy great embarrassment.

In August 1961, to stem massive waves of emigration from Soviet-dominated East Germany to American ally West Germany via the divided city of Berlin, Khrushchev ordered the construction of the Berlin Wall, which became the foremost symbol of the Cold War.

However, the greatest crisis of the Kennedy administration was the Cuban Missile Crisis of October 1962. Discovering that the Soviet Union had sent ballistic nuclear missiles to Cuba, Kennedy blockaded the island and vowed to defend the United States at any cost. After several of the tensest days in history, during which the world seemed on the brink of nuclear annihilation, the Soviet Union agreed to remove the missiles in return for Kennedy’s promise not to invade Cuba and to remove American missiles from Turkey. Eight months later, in June 1963, Kennedy successfully negotiated the Limited Nuclear Test Ban Treaty with Great Britain and the Soviet Union, helping to ease Cold War tensions. It was one of his proudest accomplishments.

President Kennedy’s record on domestic policy was rather mixed. Taking office in the midst of a recession, he proposed sweeping income tax cuts, raising the minimum wage and instituting new social programs to improve education, health care and mass transit. However, hampered by lukewarm relations with Congress, Kennedy only achieved part of his agenda: a modest increase in the minimum wage and watered down tax cuts.

The most contentious domestic issue of Kennedy’s presidency was civil rights. Constrained by Southern Democrats in Congress who remained stridently opposed to civil rights for black citizens, Kennedy offered only tepid support for civil rights reforms early in his term. Nevertheless, in September 1962 Kennedy sent his brother, Attorney General Robert Kennedy, to Mississippi to use the National Guard and federal marshals to escort and defend civil rights activist James Meredith as he became the first black student to enroll at the University of Mississippi on October 1, 1962. Near the end of 1963, in the wake of the March on Washington and Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Had a Dream” speech, Kennedy finally sent a civil rights bill to Congress. One of the last acts of his presidency and his life, Kennedy’s bill eventually passed as the landmark Civil Rights Act in 1964.

On November 21, 1963, President Kennedy flew to Dallas, Texas for a campaign appearance. The next day, November 22, Kennedy, along with his wife and Texas governor John Connally, rode through cheering crowds in downtown Dallas in a Lincoln Continental convertible. From an upstairs window of the Texas School Book Depository building, a 24-year-old warehouse worker named Lee Harvey Oswald, a former Marine with Soviet sympathies, fired upon the car, hitting the president twice. Kennedy died at Parkland Memorial Hospital shortly thereafter, at the age of 46.

A Dallas nightclub owner named Jack Ruby assassinated Lee Harvey Oswald days later while he was being transferred between jails. The death of President John F. Kennedy was an unspeakable national tragedy, and to this date many people remember with unsettling vividness the exact moment they learned of his death. While conspiracy theories have swirled ever since Kennedy’s assassination, the official version of events remains the most plausible: Oswald acted alone.

For few former presidents is the dichotomy between public and scholarly opinion so vast. To the American public, as well as his first historians, John F. Kennedy is a hero — a visionary politician who, if not for his untimely death, might have averted the political and social turmoil of the late 1960s. In public-opinion polls, Kennedy consistently ranks with Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln as among the most beloved American presidents of all time. Critiquing this outpouring of adoration, many more recent Kennedy scholars have derided Kennedy’s womanizing and lack of personal morals and argued that as a leader he was more style than substance. In the end, no one can ever truly know what type of president John F. Kennedy would have become, or the different course history might have taken had he lived into old age. As historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr. wrote, it was “as if Lincoln had been killed six months after Gettysburg or Franklin Roosevelt at the end of 1935 or Truman before the Marshall Plan.” The most enduring image of Kennedy’s presidency, and of his whole life, is that of Camelot, the idyllic castle of the legendary King Arthur. As his wife Jackie Kennedy said after his death, “There’ll be great presidents again, and the Johnsons are wonderful, they’ve been wonderful to me — but there’ll never be another Camelot again.”

 

Enhanced by Zemanta

No Gun

not one more

How many people need to be injured or murdered before a serious discussion about gun regulations can happen?

I want a number.

Tell me.

How many people is it worth?

Richard Martinez’s only child, 20-year-old Christopher Michaels-Martinez, was killed in the shooting rampage Friday in Isla Vista, California. But he doesn’t want your sympathy.

“I don’t give a shit that you feel sorry for me,” he said in an interview with The Washington Post.

What Martinez wants, instead, is this: “Get to work and do something.”

Though Martinez has the spotlight now, he is surely aware of the frustrations felt by many of those affected by previous gun massacres. In the year after the Newtown shootings, no changes were made to federal gun laws, and nearly two-thirds of new state laws loosened restrictions on gun ownership.

Do each one of these now. Not later. Stop what you re doing, and do each one of these things now.  **DISCLAIMER**  You will most likely get ridiculous tweets from right-wing gun-loving fucktards.  Learn the block feature.  Mine are all from the WalMart petition about bubble gun pink rifles for little girls.  To be clear, these are real guns, real bullets, real killing.  They seem to think it’s the way to teach gun safety and responsibility.

1. Go to Sound Off At Congress, click on the Tweet @ Congress button and automatically send a tweet to your elected officials. You don’t even have to be their followers on twitter. Bookmark the page, it takes a second to use. http://www.soundoffatcongress.org/

2. Send a postcard to your elected officials through Every Town. Fill in the blanks and they will send your members of congress and your governor a postcard that simply states: Not One More http://act.everytown.org/sign/NotOneMore/

3. Sign this petition to tell Visa to stop funding #NRA lobbyists through its affiliate program: http://csgv.org/action/stop-funding-nra-with-affiliate-card-program/ Then tweet about it.

4. Sign this petition to tell Walmart to stop glamorizing guns by selling Crickett Firearms for young children: http://csgv.org/action/tell-walmart-stop-selling-guns-young-children/

Enhanced by Zemanta

Happy Birthday Bob Hope

Tomorrow is the 111th birthday of Bob Hope. For a man that was lucky enough to live to be 100, he packed in 200 years of living.

NAME: Bob Hope
OCCUPATION: Film Actor, Television Actor, Television Personality
BIRTH DATE: May 29, 1903
DEATH DATE: July 27, 2003
PLACE OF BIRTH: Eltham, United Kingdom
PLACE OF DEATH: Toluca Lake, California
ORIGINALLY: Leslie Townes Hope

Best Known For:  Bob Hope was a entertainer and comic actor, known for his rapid-fire delivery of jokes and for his success in virtually all entertainment media.

Born in 1903, Bob Hope was a British-born American entertainer and comic actor known for his rapid-fire delivery of jokes and one-liners, as well as his success in virtually all entertainment media and his decades of overseas tours to entertain American troops. Hope received numerous awards and honors for his work as an entertainer and humanitarian. He died on July 27, 2003.

Born as Leslie Townes Hope in 1903, Bob Hope reigned as the king of American comedy for decades. He started out his life, however, across the Atlantic. Hope spent his first years of life in England, where his father worked as a stonemason. In 1907, Hope came to the United States and his family settled in Cleveland, Ohio. His large family, which included his six brothers, struggled financially in Hope’s younger years, so Hope worked a number of jobs, ranging from a soda jerk to a shoe salesman, as a young man to help ease his parents’ financial strain.

Hope’s mother, an aspiring singer at one time, shared her expertise with Bob. He also took dancing lessons and developed an act with his girlfriend, Mildred Rosequist ,as a teenager. The pair played local vaudeville theaters for a time. Bitten by the showbiz bug, Hope next partnered up with friend Lloyd Durbin for a two-man dance routine. After Durbin died on the road of food poisoning, Hope joined forces with George Byrne. Hope and Byrne landed some work with film star Fatty Arbuckle and made it to Broadway in Sidewalks of New York in 1927.

By the early 1930s, Hope had gone solo. He attracted widespread notice for his role in the Broadway musical Roberta, which showcased his quick wit and superb comic timing. Around this time, Hope met singer Dolores Reade. The pair married in 1934. He again showed off his comedic talents in the Ziegfeld Follies of 1936. Later that year, Hope landed a leading part in Red, Hot and Blue, with Ethel Merman and Jimmy Durante.

In 1937, Hope landed his first radio contract. He got his own show the following year, which became a regular feature on Tuesday nights. Week after week, listeners tuned in to hear Hope’s snappy one-liners and wisecracks. He became one of radio’s most popular performers, and stayed on the air until the mid-1950s.

In the late 1930s, Hope made the jump to feature films. His first major role came in The Big Broadcast of 1938, in which he sang “Thanks for the Memory” with Shirley Ross. The song became his trademark tune. The following year, Hope starred in The Cat and the Canary, a hit comedic mystery. He played a sharp, smart-talking coward in this haunted house tale—a type of character he would play numerous times over his career.

In 1940, Hope made his first film with popular crooner Bing Crosby. The pair starred together as a pair of likeable con artists in The Road to Singapore with Dorothy Lamour playing their love interest. The duo proved to be box office gold. Hope and Crosby, who remained lifelong friends, made seven Road pictures together.

On his own and with Crosby, Hope starred in numerous hit comedies. He was one of the top film stars throughout the 1940s, with such hits as 1947′s western spoof The Paleface. Hope was often called upon to use his superior ad-lib skills as the host of Academy Awards. While he never won an Academy Award for his acting, Hope received several honors from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences over the years.

While his film career began to ebb in the 1950s, Hope enjoyed a new wave of success on the small screen. He starred in his first television special on NBC in 1950. His periodic specials became a long-standing feature on the network, managing to earn impressive ratings with each new show over a 40-year time span. Nominated several times over the years, Hope won an Emmy Award in 1966 for one of his Christmas specials.

During World War II, Hope began to regularly take time out of his film and television career to entertain American soldiers. He started out with a radio show he did at a California air base in 1941. Two years later, Hope traveled with USO performers to bring the laughs to military personnel overseas, including stops in Europe. He also went to the Pacific front the following year. In 1944, Hope wrote about his war experiences in I Never Left Home.

While he and his wife Dolores had four children of their own, they spent many of their Christmases with the troops. Vietnam was one of his most frequent holiday stops, visiting the country nine times during the Vietnam War. Hope took a break from his USO efforts until the early 1980s. He resumed his comedic mission with a trip to Lebanon in 1983. In the early 1990s, Hope went to Saudi Arabia to cheer on the soldiers who were engaged in the First Gulf War.

Hope traveled the world on behalf of the country’s servicemen and women, and received numerous accolades for his humanitarian efforts. His name was even placed on ships and planes. Perhaps the greatest honor, however, came in 1997: U.S. Congress passed a measure to make Hope an honorary veteran of the U.S. military service for his goodwill work on behalf of American soldiers.

By the late 1990s, Hope had become one of the most honored performers in entertainment history. He received more than 50 honorary degrees in his lifetime, as well as a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Kennedy Center in 1985, a Medal of the Arts from President Bill Clinton in 1995 and a British knighthood in 1998. The British-born Hope was especially surprised by the honorary knighthood, saying, “I’m speechless. Seventy years of ad-lib material and I’m speechless.”

Around this time, Hope donated his papers to the Library of Congress. He handed over his joke files, which he had kept in special file cabinets in a special room of his Lake Taluca, California home. These jokes—accumulating more than 85,000 pages of laughs—represented the work of Hope and the numerous writers that he kept on staff. At one point, Hope had 13 writers working for him.

In 2000, Hope attended the opening of the Bob Hope Gallery of American Entertainment at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. In the following years, he became increasingly frail. Hope quietly celebrated his 100th birthday in May of 2003, at his Taluca Lake home. There, he died of pneumonia on July 27, 2003.

President George W. Bush hailed Hope as “a great citizen” who “served our nation when he went to battlefields to entertain thousands of troops from different generations.” Jay Leno also praised Hope’s remarkable gifts: “impeccable comic timing, an encyclopedic memory of jokes and an effortless ability with quips.”

Enhanced by Zemanta

Happy Birthday Dashiell Hammett

maltese falcon

NAME: Dashiell Hammett
OCCUPATION: Author
BIRTH DATE: May 27, 1894
DEATH DATE: January 10, 1961
PLACE OF BIRTH: St. Mary’s County, Maryland
PLACE OF DEATH: New York, New York

Best Known For:  Dashiell Hammett was an American writer of hard-boiled crime fiction, including the novels The Maltese Falcon and The Thin Man.

Today is the birthday of novelist Dashiell Hammett (1894), born Samuel Dashiell Hammett in St. Mary’s County, Maryland. In 1915, he got a job as a detective for the famous Pinkerton Agency, and this experience provided fodder for his later novels. He enlisted in World War I, but contracted tuberculosis, and that — combined with his distaste over the increasing Pinkerton involvement with strike-breaking — effectively ended his gumshoe career. He tried writing, using his Pinkerton experiences as a source for stories, and published his first story in 1922. It was published in a society magazine, The Smart Set, but his stories were really better suited to pulp detective magazines, and that’s where they found a home. They weren’t intellectual brain-teasers in the “Sherlock Holmes” mold; they were gritty and unsentimental and cynical — what came to be known as “hard-boiled.” His first two novels, Red Harvest and The Dain Curse (both published in 1929), starred a character known only as the “Continental Op.”

In his third book, The Maltese Falcon (1930), Hammett created an iconic character called Sam Spade, a loner who manages to be both cynical and idealistic, and who in turn served as the inspiration for Raymond Chandler‘s private eye, Philip Marlowe. The Maltese Falcon was made into a film three times; the second one, made in 1941 and directed by John Huston, is the best known, and stars Humphrey Bogart as Spade.

In 1931, Hammett began a 30-year affair with a script girl who would eventually become a playwright: Lillian Hellman. Their relationship inspired the characters of Nick and Nora Charles, the heavy-drinking, wisecracking, crime-solving couple at the center of his final novel, The Thin Man (1934). The Charleses and their terrier Asta turned into a six-film franchise starring William Powell and Myrna Loy, and later a radio play, a TV series, and a Broadway musical. Author Donald Westlake later said of The Thin Man, “It was a sad, lonely, lost book, that pretended to be cheerful and aware and full of good fellowship, and I hadn’t known you could do that: seem to be telling this, but really telling that; three-dimensional writing, like three-dimensional chess.”

After The Thin Man, Hammett turned his attention to helping Hellman with her play writing career, and to various leftist political pursuits. He re-enlisted during World War II, in the Signal Corps, and apart from his military service as a journalist and editor, he didn’t do much writing. In 1951, he was jailed on contempt charges; he served as a bail trustee on a committee to free jailed Communists, and refused to give the names of people who had provided bail money. He served five months and when he was released, he was served with a bill for $140,000 in back taxes. He died in 1961, and was buried in Arlington National Cemetery, against the wishes of J. Edgar Hoover.

In his essay “The Simple Art of Murder,” Raymond Chandler wrote of Hammett, “He was spare, frugal, hard-boiled, but he did over and over again what only the best writers can ever do at all. He wrote scenes that never seemed to have been written before.”

Enhanced by Zemanta

Isadora Duncan – Style Icon

Today is Isadora Duncan’s 17th Birthday.  Ever since a winter scarf I was wearing was briefly caught in the handrail of the transit tunnel escalator, I have felt a connection to her.

NAME: Isadora Duncan
OCCUPATION: Choreographer
BIRTH DATE: c. May 27, 1877
DEATH DATE: September 14, 1927
PLACE OF BIRTH: San Francisco, California
PLACE OF DEATH: Nice, France
ORIGINALLY: Angela Duncan

BEST KNOWN FOR:  Isadora Duncan was a dancer who taught and performed in a new and less restrictive form. Many regard her as the mother of modern dance.

Although Duncan’s birth date is generally believed to have been May 27, 1878, her baptismal certificate, discovered in San Francisco in 1976, records the date of May 26, 1877. Duncan was one of four children brought up in genteel poverty by their mother, a music teacher. As a child she rejected the rigidity of the classic ballet and based her dancing on more natural rhythms and movements, an approach she later used consciously in her interpretations of the works of such great composers as Brahms, Wagner, and Beethoven. Her earliest public appearances, in Chicago and New York City, met with little success, and at the age of 21 she left the United States to seek recognition abroad. With her meagre savings she sailed on a cattle boat for England.

At the British Museum her study of the sculptures of ancient Greece confirmed the classical use of those dance movements and gestures that hitherto instinct alone had caused her to practice and upon a revival of which her method was largely founded. Through the patronage of the celebrated actress Mrs. Patrick Campbell, she was invited to appear at the private receptions of London’s leading hostesses, where her dancing, distinguished by a complete freedom of movement, enraptured those who were familiar only with the conventional forms of the ballet, which was then in a period of decay. It was not long before the phenomenon of a young woman dancing barefoot, as scantily clad as a woodland nymph, crowded theatres and concert halls throughout Europe. During her controversial first tour of Russia in 1905, Duncan made a deep impression on the choreographer Michel Fokine and on the art critic Serge Diaghilev, who as impresario was soon to lead a resurgence of ballet throughout western Europe. Duncan toured widely, and at one time or another she founded dance schools in Germany, Russia, and the United States, though none of these survived.

Her private life, quite as much as her art, kept her name in the headlines owing to her constant defiance of social taboos. The father of her first child, Deirdre, was the stage designer Gordon Craig, who shared her abhorrence of marriage; the father of her second child, Patrick, was Paris Singer, the heir to a sewing machine fortune and a prominent art patron. In 1913 a tragedy occurred from which Duncan never really recovered: the car in which her two children and their nurse were riding in Paris rolled into the Seine River and all three were drowned. In an effort to sublimate her grief she was about to open another school when the advent of World War I put an end to her plans. Her subsequent tours in South America, Germany, and France were less successful than before, but in 1920 she was invited to establish a school of her own in Moscow. To her revolutionary temperament, the Soviet Union seemed the land of promise. There she met Sergey Aleksandrovich Yesenin, a poet 17 years younger than she, whose work had won him a considerable reputation. She married him in 1922, sacrificing her scruples against marriage in order to take him with her on a tour of the United States. She could not have chosen a worse time for their arrival. Fear of the “Red Menace” was at its height, and she and her husband were unjustly labeled as Bolshevik agents. Leaving her native country once more, a bitter Duncan told reporters: “Good-bye America, I shall never see you again!” She never did. There followed an unhappy period with Yesenin in Europe, where his increasing mental instability turned him against her. He returned alone to the Soviet Union and, in 1925, committed suicide.

During the last years of her life Duncan was a somewhat pathetic figure, living precariously in Nice on the French Riviera, where she met with a fatal accident: her long scarf became entangled in the rear wheel of the car in which she was riding, and she was strangled. Her autobiography, My Life, was published in 1927 (reissued 1972).

Isadora Duncan was acclaimed by the foremost musicians, artists, and writers of her day, but she was often an object of attack by the less broad-minded. Her ideas were too much in advance of their time, and she flouted social conventions too flamboyantly to be regarded by the wider public as anything but an advocate of “free love.” Certainly her place as a great innovator in dance is secure: her repudiation of artificial technical restrictions and reliance on the grace of natural movement helped to liberate the dance from its dependence on rigid formulas and on displays of brilliant but empty technical virtuosity, paving the way for the later acceptance of modern dance as it was developed by Mary Wigman, Martha Graham, and others.

Isadora Duncan’s life has been portrayed most notably in the 1968 film, Isadora, starring Vanessa RedgraveVivian Pickles played her in Ken Russell’s 1966 biopic for the BBC, which was subtitled ‘The Biggest Dancer in the World’ and introduced by Duncan’s biographer, Sewell Stokes.

Most notably, Duncan was the subject of a balletIsadora, written and choreographed in 1981 by the Royal Ballet‘s Kenneth MacMillan, and performed at Covent Garden.[17] When She Danced, a stage play about Duncan’s later years by Martin Sherman, won the 1991 Evening Standard Award (best actress) for Vanessa Redgrave. A Hungarian musical based on this play was produced in Budapest in 2008.

Robert Calvert recorded a song about Duncan on his Revenge LP. The song is called “Isadora”. Salsa diva Celia Cruz sang a song titled “Isadora” in Duncan’s honor. Finnish musician Juice Leskinen recorded a song called “Isadora Duncan”. Russian singer Alexander Malinin recorded a song about the death of Isadora Duncan. Russian band Leningradhave a song about her on their Pulya (Bullet) album. American post-hardcore group Burden of a Day has a song titled, “Isadora Duncan” on their 2009 album OneOneThousand.

The children’s gothic book series, Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, includes a set of fraternal triplets named Isadora, Duncan, and Quigley Quagmire.

And Then There’s Maude, the theme song to the 1970s American TV sitcom Maude contains a reference to Duncan with the line “Isadora was a bra burner.”

In his song Salome, British singer Pete Doherty makes a reference to Isadora Duncan by saying: “As she dances and demands, the head of Isadora Duncan on a plate”.

2003 in “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days”, the necklace Andie wears is named after Isadora Duncan

In a deleted scene of Titanic (1997), Rose talks about her dreams, saying “I don’t know what it is, whether I should be an artist or a sculpter or a, I don’t know, a dancer like Isadora Duncan, or wild pagan spirit!”

Enhanced by Zemanta