Happy Birthday Yves Saint Laurent

Today is the 78th birthday of Yves Saint Laurent.

NAME: Yves Saint Laurent
OCCUPATION: Fashion Designer
BIRTH DATE: August 1, 1936
DEATH DATE: June 1, 2008
PLACE OF BIRTH: Oran, Algeria
PLACE OF DEATH: Paris, France
FULL NAME:  Yves Henri-Donat-Mathieu Saint Laurent

BEST KNOWN FOR: Yves Saint Laurent was best known as an influential European fashion designer who impacted fashion in the 1960s to the present day.

Yves Henri Donat Matthieu Saint Laurent was born on August 1, 1936, in Oran, Algeria, to Charles and Lucienne Andrée Mathieu-Saint-Laurent. He grew up in a villa by the Mediterranean with his two younger sisters, Michelle and Brigitte. While his family was relatively well off—his father was a lawyer and insurance broker who owned a chain of cinemas—childhood for the future fashion icon was not easy. Saint Laurent was not popular in school, and was often bullied by schoolmates for appearing to be homosexual. As a consequence, Saint Laurent was a nervous child, and sick nearly every day.

He found solace, however, in the world of fashion. He liked to create intricate paper dolls, and by his early teen years he was designing dresses for his mother and sisters. At the age of 17, a whole new world opened up to Saint Laurent when his mother took him to Paris for a meeting she’d arranged with Michael de Brunhoff, the editor of French Vogue.

A year later, Saint Laurent, who had impressed de Brunhoff with his drawings, moved to Paris and enrolled at the Chambre Syndicale de la Couture, where his designs quickly gained notice. De Brunhoff also introduced Saint Laurent to designer Christian Dior, a giant in the fashion world. “Dior fascinated me,” Saint Laurent later recalled. “I couldn’t speak in front of him. He taught me the basis of my art. Whatever was to happen next, I never forgot the years I spent at his side.” Under Dior’s tutelage, Saint Laurent’s style continued to mature and gain still more notice.

In 1960 Saint Laurent was called back to his home country of Algeria to fight for its independence. He managed to secure an exemption based on health grounds, but when he returned to Paris, Saint Laurent found that his job with Dior had disappeared. The news, at first, was traumatic for the young, fragile designer. Then it became ugly, with Saint Laurent successfully suing his former mentor for breach of contract, and collecting £48,000.

The money and the freedom soon presented Saint Laurent with a unique opportunity. In cooperation with his partner and lover, Pierre Berge, the designer resolved to open his own fashion house. With the rise of pop culture and a general yearning for original, fresh designs, Saint Laurent’s timing couldn’t have been better.

Over the next two decades, Saint Laurent’s designs sat atop the fashion world. Models and actresses gushed over his creations. He outfitted women in blazers and smoking jackets, and introduced attire like the pea coat to the runway. His signature pieces also included the sheer blouse and the jumpsuit.

By the 1980s, Yves Saint Laurent was a true icon. He became the first designer to have a retrospective on his work at the Metropolitan Museum in New York City. Under the direction of Berge, who continued to manage Saint Laurent’s firm even though the two had broken up in 1986, the fashion house flourished as a money making venture.

But Saint Laurent struggled. He became reclusive, and fought addictions to alcohol and cocaine. Some in the fashion world complained that the designer’s work had grown stale.

In the early 1990s, Saint Laurent found firmer footing. His designs were rediscovered by a fashion elite that had grown tired of the grunge movement that dominated the runways. Saint Laurent, too, seemed to have conquered his demons. By the end of the decade, with Saint Laurent slowing down his work pace, he and Berge had sold the company they’d started, netting the two men a fortune.

In January 2002, Saint Laurent participated in his final show and then retired for good in Marrakech. Five years later, Saint Laurent’s imprint and importance on French culture was cemented when he was appointed Grand Officer of the Legion d’honnerur by French President, Nicolas Sarkozy.

Yves Saint Laurent passed away in Paris on June 1, 2008 after a brief illness.

Happy Birthday Ted Cassidy

Today is the 82nd birthday of Ted Cassidy.

NAME: Ted Cassidy
OCCUPATION: Television Actor
BIRTH DATE: July 31, 1932
DEATH DATE: January 16, 1979
EDUCATION: West Virgina Wesleyan College, Stetson University
PLACE OF BIRTH: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
PLACE OF DEATH: Los Angeles, California

BEST KNOWN FOR: Ted Cassidy was a 6’9” American actor known for his work in The Addams Family TV series and the film Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

Theodore Crawford “Ted” Cassidy was born on July 31, 1932, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania but raised in Philippi, West Virginia. As a boy and young man, he was a standout on the football field and basketball court, in part because of his great height (as a man, he would reach 6’9″). After high school, he headed off first to West Virginia Wesleyan College and then to Stetson University in DeLand, Florida. Soon after graduation from Stetson, Cassidy married, settled in Dallas, Texas and began work in news radio. His job at WFAA in Dallas included coverage of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

Cassidy began his film career in 1960 when he provided the voice of the Martian in The Angry Red Planet. In 1964, Cassidy took on the role for which he would become most famous; that of Lurch, the creepy butler on The Addams Family. During an audition for the role, which was supposed to be a non-speaking one, Cassidy adlibbed the “You rang” line which became his trademark. Although The Addams Family ran for just two years, it has lived on—enjoying cult status—in reruns and even on the big screen.

Cassidy’s large size and deep voice made him a natural at playing villains and thugs, as well as providing distinctive voice-over talent. He voiced the role of Metallus on Space Ghost, The Thing on The Fantastic Four, and Braniac and Black Mantra on Challenge of the SuperFriends. In addition, he played characters such as Injun Joe on The New Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Harvey Logan in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, and Goliath in Greatest Heroes of the Bible. Cassidy also enjoyed success in the Star Trek world, providing the voice for Balok, portraying Ruk, and voicing Gorn in various episodes. Cassidy also worked with Gene Roddenberry in the early 1970s, when he played Isiah in the pilots for Genesis II and Planet Earth.

Ted Cassidy died in Los Angeles, California on January 16, 1979, from complications after open-heart surgery. He is survived by two children and his long-time girlfriend, having divorced his first wife, Margaret, in 1976.

Happy Birthday Elizabeth Short

Today is the 90th birthday of Elizabeth Short.

ELIZABETH SHORTNAME: Black Dahlia
BIRTH DATE: July 29, 1924
DEATH DATE: c. January 15, 1947
PLACE OF BIRTH: Boston, Massachusetts
PLACE OF DEATH: Los Angeles, California
AKA: Beth Short, ”The Black Dahlia”, Bette Short, Betty Short
FULL NAME: Elizabeth Short

BEST KNOWN FOR: Nicknamed “the Black Dahlia,” Elizabeth Short was brutally murdered in Los Angeles in 1947, her body cut in half and severely mutilated. The Black Dahlia’s killer was never found, making her murder one of the oldest cold case files in L.A. to date, and the city’s most famous.

Elizabeth Short, best known as “the Black Dahlia,” was born on July 29, 1924, in Boston, Massachusetts, the third of five daughters born to Cleo and Phoebe Mae (Sawyer) Short. Cleo Short abandoned the family when Elizabeth was 5 years old. At a young age, Short developed a strong affinity for cinema. By her teens, she had set her sites on becoming an actress.

By the mid-1940s, Elizabeth Short was living in Los Angeles, California, working as a waitress to support herself while dreaming of catching her big break into Hollywood’s acting scene. Her chance at stardom, however, would never come. In January 1947, a horrific tragedy occurred: At the age of 22, Short was brutally murdered in Los Angeles, her body cut in half and severely mutilated. Her body was found, nude and posed, by a local female resident on January 15, 1947, in a vacant lot near Leimert Park, on the 3800 block of L.A.’s South Norton Avenue. “It was pretty gruesome,” Brian Carr, a detective with the Los Angeles Police Department who has long worked on the Dahlia case, later said. “I just can’t imagine someone doing that to another human being.” In addition to dissecting and mutilating her body, Short’s killer had drained her corpse of blood and scrubbed it clean.

The case quickly became heavily covered by the media (her moniker, “Black Dahlia,” became widely known shortly thereafter, as it was used more frequently than her real name by the press). “The case itself took on a life of its own,” Carr said. “Early on, I think for two months it was front-page news in all the local papers every day.”

An in-depth, lengthy investigation by the L.A.P.D. ensued, leading to a number of false reports—including several false murder confessions—and ultimately leaving detectives grasping at straws. The sole witness of the murder had reported seeing a black sedan parked in the area in the early morning hours, but could provide police with little else. The combination of faulty witnesses and a lack of hard evidence surrounding the case greatly hindered its progress, and, despite numerous allegations and leads over the years, the Black Dahlia’s killer was never found. Today, the Black Dahlia murder remains one of the oldest cold case files in L.A., as well as the city’s most famous.

In early 2013, the Black Dahlia case returned to the headlines. An article in the San Bernardino Sun detailed a more recent investigation of the case that was conducted by retired police seargant Paul Dostie, author Steve Hodel, and a police dog named Buster with a keen sense of smell—specifically that of decomposing flesh, which he was trained to detect. According to the Sun, the investigative team has uncovered incriminating evidence against Hodel’s father, Dr. George Hill Hodel, who the younger Hodel has long believed to be the Black Dahlia killer. In February 2013, the team conducted an extensive search of the doctor’s home, where Buster had previously detected the scent of human decomposition in several areas of the basement, according to reports. Following their search, soil samples taken from Dr. Hodel’s home were reportedly submitted for lab testing.

Other evidence against George Hodel, according to his son, includes an old recording of a conversation between the doctor and an unknown person, during which Dr. Hodel allegedly stated, “Supposin’ I did kill the Black Dahlia. They couldn’t prove it now. They can’t talk to my secretary because she’s dead.”

Happy Birthday William Powell

Today is the 122nd birthday of William Powell.

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.

By 1936, William Powell was among the top 10 male box office attractions, and four of the five films in which he appeared that year received Oscar nominations, with Powell himself earning a nomination as best actor for his deft performance in the title role of My Man Godfrey. He is best remembered, however, as Nick Charles in The Thin Man series of films.

Happy Birthday Clara Bow

Today is the 109th birthday of Clara Bow.

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 Birthday Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis

Today is the 85th birthday of Jacky O.


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.

Rear View Mirror – My Week In Review

This week, I joined three Facebook Groups and started one:

The Port Orchard group consists mostly of people asking questions that a Google search could easily answer: Anyone know of an urgent care near by? (must not be that urgent if you can wait for Facebook replies). They also seem to be endlessly curious about car accidents, why various aid cars are at specific locations, and catching these two women that stole things from a place called Pet Town. Overall, being a part of the group has not made me feel any nostalgia for my home town or enriched my life in any way. It has made me very conscious of the time I spend on Facebook and evaluate if it brings any value.

The Columbia City group is a lot of complaining. Complaining about bad parking, complaining about vandalism (my assumption is that the vandals are not members of the group), complaining about someone stealing a ladder. There is no added value to my life being member of this group, but I will wait to leave the group because next weekend is SeaFair, and it’s gonna get real messy down here. A lot of people come down to see the hydroplane races and park all over the place. The posts could get interesting.

The Bent Car Guys group seemed like a potentially fun one to join, they seem to post a lot of photos of cars from car shows and ones they see around the city. I thought that maybe at some time, I could post a photo of the extra set of rims I have and see if I could sell them. They post a lot of photos of old crappy cars. I will remain a member, it could just be an off week.

As I troll through the groups I have become members of, I am reminded of that very famous quote of Groucho Marx’s:

“I sent the club a wire stating, PLEASE ACCEPT MY RESIGNATION. I DON’T WANT TO BELONG TO ANY CLUB THAT WILL ACCEPT PEOPLE LIKE ME AS A MEMBER.”
– Telegram to the Friar’s Club of Beverly Hills to which he belonged, as recounted in Groucho and Me (1959)

This week, on Waldina, I celebrated the birthdays of Aldous Huxley, Stanley Kubrick, Vivian Vance, Maxfield Parrish, Amelia Earhart, Zelda Fitzgerald, Sandra Gould, Raymond Chandler, Alexander Calder, Edward Hopper, Oscar de la Renta and Ernest Hemingway.

The Stats:

Views This Week: 818
Total Views: 119,197
Total Subscribers: 319
Most Popular Post: Banned Books That Shaped America: Catch-22

Over on Wasp & Pear on Tumblr, I posted photos of abandoned shopping malls, beautiful drawing of the world’s subway maps, some new uses for duct tape, the art of Banksy, George Condo, Frank Stella, Keith Haring and Ricardo Romero Cortez Duque.

The Stats:

Posts This Week: 47
Total Posts: 2,643
Total Subscribers: 187
Most Popular Post: Happy Birthday Edward Hopper.

This week over on @TheRealSpa on Twitter, I tweeted:

 

 

The Stats:

Total Tweets: 307 (auto-deleted tweets older than 31 days to preserve freshness)
Total Following: 258
Total Following: 193

come find me, i’m @:

I chronicle what inspires me at Waldina.com
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Happy Birthday Aldous Huxley

Today is the 120th birthday of Aldous Huxley.

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 Birthday Stanley Kubrick

Today is the 86th birthday of Stanley Kubrick.

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 (who were married at the time), 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 Birthday Vivian Vance

Today is the 105th birthday of Vivian Vance.

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.