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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Rear View Mirror – My Week In Review

Recently, one of my cousins mentioned how he missed the Week In Review posts I used to do on Sundays. Honestly, I only really stopped because I started working most Sundays and they take a bit of time to pull all the statistics and such. No other reason. So, I carved out some time and wrote most of this last night.

By far, the best birthday gift I received this week was the new Sleater-Kinney album being released, on my birthday no less! I have been listening to it daily and am still loving it. It is not at all like a reunion album, it is more like the evolution of a band ten years after their last album. It is really great, I guess everyone thinks so, the internets are full of articles about it.

This week, a woman rolled down her window to tell us that she thought we were walking a cat at first. Scraps was not at all amused. Several groups of people had also expressed how cute he was not five minuter earlier while we were sitting outside PCC, so he knew that woman was blind and/or just basic.

I have three cards I need to mail to someone. They are super cute and inspirational. First three addresses sent to: spa@waldina.com. Make it happen.

This week on Waldina I celebrated a gang of birthdays and even my very own: Edith Warton, Porfirio Rubirosa , George Balanchine , Malcolm McLaren, Cristóbal Balenciaga, Jeff Koons, Christian Dior, David Lynch, Barbara Stanwyck, George Burns, Federico Fellini, Edgar Allan Poe, Tippi Hendren, Cary Grant and Vidal Sassoon. I also confessed my obsession with the 1984 film Night of the Comet.

The Stats:

Views This Week: 1,882
All Time Views: 157,201
Most Popular Post This Week: S.P.A. v45.0 Launch is Live
Second Most Popular Post This Week: Karl Lagerfeld – Humanity’s Antagonis
Total Posts: 1,428
Total Subscribers: 377

This Week on Wasp & Pear on Tumblr, I focused a lot on artists and original art. Aside from the Haring/Warhol/Basquiat/Fitzgerald stables, I also posted every Sleater-Kinney article I read. I also found some really amazing archival photographs of crime scenes, they are not gruesome, there is just a body in the lower portion of the picture, he could just be a heavy sleeper. I also posted some photos of beautiful house exteriors and interiors. I posted this long explanation as to why we should stop drinking bottled water.

The Stats:

Posts This Week: 66
Total Posts: 3,818
Total Subscribers: 286

This week over on the @TheRealSPA corner of the twitterers, I added my tumbler feed to auto-tweet any photo posted with the #DailyInspiration hashtag. Also, the @KeithHaring Foundation retweeted one of my tweets and the supermodel Niki Taylor started following me. I am not sure why, I should thank her.

The Stats:

Total Tweets (auto-deleted after 30 days): 460
Total Following: 561
Total Followers: 443

Over on @TheRealSPA on Instagram, I took my new profile pic, a pic of Sriracha Popcorn, a pic of my new tattoo, and a movie of my blinking birthday lights. I also recently started adding photos of the birthday profiles from Waldina and including a short paragraph about them. I like the variety it adds to my feed, I know it’s not selfies and food, but that area has been done.

The Stats:

Total Posts: 333
Total Followers: 167
Total Following: 235

come find me, i’m @

I chronicle what inspires me at Waldina.com
I faceplace at facebook.com/parkeranderson
I store my selfies at instagram.com/therealspa#
I tumblr at waspandpear.tumblr.com/
I tweet at twitter.com/TheRealSPA

Happy Birthday Edith Warton

Today is the 153rd birthday of the writer who said, “Life is always a tightrope or a feather bed. Give me the tightrope.” She wrote about frustrated love in novels like The House of Mirth (1905), Ethan Frome (1911), and The Age of Innocence (1920), for which she became the first woman to win the Pulitzer Prize.  The world is a better place because she was in it and still feels the loss that she has left.

 

NAME: Edith Wharton
OCCUPATION: Author
BIRTH DATE: January 24, 1862
DEATH DATE: August 11, 1937
PLACE OF BIRTH: New York, New York
PLACE OF DEATH: St.-Brice-sous-Forêt, France
ORIGINALLY: Edith Newbold Jones

BEST KNOWN FOR: Novelist Edith Wharton was born to an old New York family, but is better known for her books Ethan Frome and The Age of Innocence.

Edith Warton came from a rich and snobbish New York family who lived off the inheritance of their real estate and banking tycoon ancestors, and she spent several years of her early childhood traveling around Europe. When she was 10, her parents re-settled in New York, around 23rd and Park Avenue. She was a teenage bookworm, reading insatiably from her family’s expansive library and feeling alienated and adrift in the New York high-society circles her family moved in. At 23, she married a family friend, a classy, good-looking sportsman named Edward “Teddy” Robbins Wharton, who wasn’t particularly fond of books. He had a tendency for manic spells, extravagant spending sprees, and infidelity. It was a long and miserable marriage.

She met Henry James in Europe and became good friends with him. He encouraged her to write about the New York City she knew so well and disliked. He said, “Don’t pass it by — the immediate, the real, the only, the yours.” And it was Henry James who introduced her to his friend Morton Fullerton, a dashing, promiscuous, intellectual American expat journalist who reported for the London Times from Paris. Edith Wharton fell hard for the man, filled her diary with passages about how their romance and conversation made her feel complete, wrote him pleading letters, and about a year into their affair, when she was in her late 40s, moved full-time to Paris, where he resided. The affair ended in 1911, the year she published Ethan Frome. She once wrote to him:

“Do you know what I was thinking last night, when you asked me, & I couldn’t tell you? — Only that the way you’ve spent your emotional life while I’ve … hoarded mine, is what puts the great gulf between us, & sets us not only on opposite shores, but at hopelessly distant points of our respective shores. Do you see what I mean?”And I’m so afraid that the treasures I long to unpack for you, that have come to me in magic ships from enchanted islands, are only, to you, the old familiar red calico & beads of the clever trader, who has had dealing with every latitude, & knows just what to carry in the hold to please the simple native — I’m so afraid of this, that often & often I stuff my shining treasures back into their box, lest I should see you smiling at them!

“Well! And what if you do? It’s your loss, after all! And if you can’t come into the room without my feeling all over me a ripple of flame, & if, wherever you touch me, a heart beats under your touch, & if, when you hold me, & I don’t speak, it’s because all the words in me seem to have become throbbing pulses, & all my thoughts are a great golden blur — why should I be afraid of your smiling at me, when I can turn the beads & calico back into such beauty —?”

He left her in 1911, and she stayed married to Teddy for a couple more years, though the two lived apart from each other during the last part of their 28-year marriage. She loved living in Paris, and there she mingled with people like André Gide, Jean Cocteau, Theodore Roosevelt, and F. Scott Fitzgerald, whom she once told: “To your generation, I must represent the literary equivalent of tufted furniture and gas chandeliers.” But she wasn’t prim or overly proper, and she famously enjoyed one of Fitzgerald’s scandalous stories, about an American couple in a Paris brothel, which he drunkenly related the first time he met her.

Modernist writers were among her contemporaries, but she didn’t use modernist techniques like stream-of-consciousness in her own writing, and she wasn’t a fan of it in others’. She once said about James Joyce’s Ulysses (1922), “Until the raw ingredients of a pudding make a pudding, I shall never believe that the raw material of sensation and thought can make a work of art without the cook’s intervening.”

She died in Paris at the age of 75. At the time of her death, she was working on a novel called The Buccaneers, about five rich American girls who set out to marry landed British men, so that they can have English feudal titles in their names, like “Duchess.” In her last days, she lay in bed and worked on the novel, and each page that she completed she dropped onto the floor so that it could be collected later, when she was through.
Many of her novels have been made into movies. The House of Mirth, The Glimpses of the Moon, and The Age of Innocence were all adapted into silent films around the 1920s. John Madden directed a version of Ethan Frome in 1993, the same year Martin Scorsese directed a film adaptation of The Age of Innocence. In 2000, Gillian Anderson starred in The House of Mirth, directed by Terence Davies.

Edith Wharton said, “There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that receives it.”

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Happy Birthday George Balanchine

Today is the 111th birthday of the dancer and choreographer George Balanchine.  He is considered the father of modern ballet, meaning the ballet that we think of as ballet today.  The world is a better place because he was in it and still feels the loss that he has left.

NAME: George Balanchine
OCCUPATION: Ballet Dancer, Choreographer
BIRTH DATE: January 22, 1904
DEATH DATE: April 30, 1983
EDUCATION: Imperial School of Ballet, Soviet State School of Ballet, Petrograd State Conservatory of Music, Mariinsky Theatre
PLACE OF BIRTH: St. Petersburg, Russia
PLACE OF DEATH: New York, New York

BEST KNOWN FOR: George Balanchine was a ballet choreographer who co-founded and served as artistic director of the New York City Ballet.

Georgy Melitonovich Balanchivadze was born on January 22, 1904, in St. Petersburg, Russia. The son of a composer, Balanchine had a robust understanding of music. In 1914, he enrolled at the Mariinsky Theatre’s ballet school. He graduated in 1921 and subsequently attended the Petrograd State Conservatory of Music, leaving the conservatory after three years.

In 1922, George Balanchine married a 15-year-old ballet student named Tamara Gevergeyeva. This was the first of four separate marriages to dancers, and for each of his wives, Balanchine would make a ballet.

In 1924, Balanchine was invited to tour Germany as part of the Soviet State Dancers. A year later, the young choreographer joined Serge Diaghilev‘s Ballet Russes. (His birth name, Balanchivadze, was shortened to Balanchine at Diaghilev’s insistence.) At just 21 years old, Balanchine took over as choreographer for the group, one of the most renowned ballet companies in the world.

After the Ballet Russes collapsed, Balanchine created the company Les Ballets in 1933. Following a performance, American dance aficionado Lincoln Kirstein approached Balanchine about collaboration and the two began a 50-year creative partnership, co-founding the School of American Ballet in 1934. The following year, the professional company known as the American Ballet emerged, becoming the official company of New York’s Metropolitan Opera until 1936.

In 1946, Kirstein and Balanchine co-founded a company that would become the New York City Ballet. Balanchine served as artistic director of the company, based out of New York State Theater at Lincoln Center. He produced more than 150 works for the company, including “The Nutcracker.” While money was tight, Balanchine presented the dancers in practice clothes instead of ornate costumes.

In addition to ballet, George Balanchine choreographed Hollywood movies and Broadway musicals. He is known for his connection to Igor Stravinsky; Balanchine created many ballets to his work, some in collaboration with the composer. He made more than 465 works, which have been performed by nearly every ballet company in the world.

Balanchine created plotless ballets, where the dancing upstaged glitz and storytelling. His work never featured a star, as he believed the performance should outshine the individual. He is credited with developing the neo-classical style distinct to the 20th century. Balanchine served as the artistic director of the New York City Ballet until his death, on April 30, 1983, in New York City.

Happy Birthday Malcolm McLaren

Today is the 69th birthday of Malcolm McLaren.  He did a little bit of everything and was exceptionally successful at it.  The world is a better place because he was in it and still feels the loss that he has left.

MALCOLM MCLARENNAME: Malcolm McLaren
OCCUPATION: Fashion Designer, Artist
BIRTH DATE: January 22, 1946
DEATH DATE: April 8, 2010
EDUCATION: Harrow Art School, Croydon College of Art, Goldsmiths College
PLACE OF BIRTH: London, United Kingdom
PLACE OF DEATH: Switzerland

BEST KNOWN FOR: Recording artist and fashion designer Malcolm McLaren came to fame as manager of the Sex Pistols. Later, he recorded several albums of his own material.

Artist, musician, band manager. One of the creative forces behind English punk rock and the Sex Pistols in particular, Malcolm Robert Andrew McLaren was born January 22, 1946, in London, England. The son of a Scottish engineer, he was raised primarily by his maternal grandmother, whom he later credited with fostering his well-regarded subversive spirit.

As such, school was not a perfect fit for the creative McLaren. He attended more than half a dozen different art schools, including Harrow Art School, where he befriended Jamie Reid, who would later serve as the brains behind the Sex Pistols’ provocative graphics. His struggles in school led one institution to expel him and another, Croydon College of Art, to try to have him committed to a mental institution.

In 1971 McLaren dropped out of school for good and opened a boutique shop in Chelsea. Initially called Let It Rock and later renamed Too Fast to Live Too Young to Die, the store specialized in 1950s “Teddy boy” fashions.

McLaren’s world changed when the New York Dolls, a glam-rock band that performed in high heels, visited his shop one day. McLaren and the musicians quickly hit it off and eventually he followed the band back to the United States, where he worked as its manager. McLaren brought an unusual approach to his job, pushing the band to shock its American audiences as much as possible. In one instance he had the Dolls perform in Maoist Red Guard uniforms and play in front of a hammer-and-sickle flag.

But the Dolls’ run was short-lived, and after the group broke up, McLaren returned to London intent on trying to ramp up what he’d tried to do in the States.

He found his new cause in a group of musicians headed up by lead singer John Lydon, later renamed Johnny Rotten due to the condition of his teeth. In every shape and form, the Sex Pistols was the product of McLaren’s imagination. He put the band together and orchestrated the outrage that made them the toast of the English punk rock scene. Rotten called McLaren “the most evil person on earth.”

With singles like “Anarchy in the U.K.” and “God Save the Queen,” the Pistols climbed the charts in Britain. The group’s short run consisted of just one album, the 1977 release Never Mind the Bollocks: Here’s the Sex Pistols. In 1978 the group embarked on its first and only American tour. It quickly concluded when Rotten walked off the stage at a performance in San Francisco, leaving the band behind and marking the end of the Pistols as a group.

Even with the band’s demise, McLaren continued to stay heavily involved in the music scene. He went on to manage several other acts, and in 1983 issued an album of his own, Duck Rock, which featured a combination of world music and hip-hop. Several other albums followed, including Fans (1984), Waltz Darling (1989), and Paris (1994).

Over the last several years of his life, McLaren stayed busy with several film, television and radio projects. He was one of the producers of the docu-drama Fast Food Nation (2006) and oversaw the production of a pair of BBC2 radio presentations, Malcolm McLaren’s Musical Map of London and Malcolm McLaren’s Life and Times in L.A.. McLaren fathered a son with his first partner, designer Vivienne Westwood, and was in a relationship with another partner, Young Kim, at the time of his death. He’d been battling cancer for several months and passed away at a clinic in Switzerland on April 8, 2010.

His varied, bombastic career was driven, he once said, by some advice an old art school teacher had given him. “We will all be failures,” the educator told the young McLaren. “But at least be a magnificent, noble failure. Anyone can be a benign success.”

Happy Birthday Christian Dior

Today is the 110th birthday of the fashion designer Christian Dior.  The world is a better place because he was in it and still feels the loss that he has left.

NAME: Christian Dior
OCCUPATION: Fashion Designer
BIRTH DATE: January 21, 1905
DEATH DATE: c. October 23, 1957
EDUCATION: École des Sciences Politiques
PLACE OF BIRTH: Granville, France
PLACE OF DEATH: Montecatini, Italy

BEST KNOWN FOR: Christian Dior was a French fashion designer whose post–World War II creations were wildly popular, and whose legacy continues to influence the fashion industry.

Christian Dior was born on January 21, 1905, in Granville, a seaside town in the north of France. He was the second of five children born to Alexandre Louis Maurice Dior, the owner of a highly successful fertilizer manufacturer, and his wife, Isabelle. When he was a boy, Dior’s family moved to Paris, where he would spend his youth. Although Dior was passionate about art and expressed an interest in becoming an architect, he submitted to pressure from his father and, in 1925, enrolled at the École des Sciences Politiques to begin his studies in political science, with the understanding that he would eventually find work as a diplomat.

After his graduation in 1928, however, Dior opened a small art gallery with money he received from his father, who had agreed to lend his son his financial support on the condition that the family name would not appear above the gallery door. In the few years it was open, Dior’s gallery handled the works of such notable artists as Georges Braque, Pablo Picasso, Jean Cocteau and Max Jacob. He was forced to close the gallery in 1931, a year that included the deaths of both his older brother and mother and the financial collapse of his father’s business.

Following the closing of his gallery, Dior began to make ends meet by selling his fashion sketches, and in 1935, landed a job illustrating the magazine Figaro Illustré. Several years later, Dior was hired as a design assistant by Paris couturier Robert Piguet. However, when World War II began the following year, Dior served in the south of France as an officer in the French army.

Following France’s surrender to Germany in 1940, Dior returned to Paris, where he was soon hired by couturier Lucien Lelong. Throughout the remaining years of the war, Lelong’s design house would consistently dress the women of both Nazis and French collaborators. During this same time, Dior’s younger sister, Catherine, was working for the French Resistance. (She was captured and sent to a concentration camp, but survived; she was eventually released in 1945.)

In 1957, several months after appearing on the cover of Time magazine, Christian Dior traveled to Italy to vacation in the town of Montecatini. While there, on October 23, 1957, he suffered what was his third heart attack and died, at the age of 52.

Marcel Boussac sent his private plane to Montecatini to bring Dior’s body back to Paris, and Dior’s funeral was attended by an estimated 2,500 people, including all of his staff and many of his most famous clients. He was buried in Cimetière de Callian, in Var, France. At the time of his death, Dior’s house was earning more than $20 million annually.

Happy Birthday Barbara Stanwyck

Today is the 108th birthday of Barbara Stanwyck.  Born Ruby Stevens, reinvented herself into an internationally-known actress, and stayed in the public eye for 60 years.  Absolutely amazing.  The world is a better place because she was in it and still feels the loss that she has left.

NAME: Barbara Stanwyck
OCCUPATION: Film Actress, Television Actress, Dancer, Pin-up
BIRTH DATE: July 16, 1907
DEATH DATE: January 20, 1990
PLACE OF BIRTH: Brooklyn, New York
PLACE OF DEATH: Santa Monica, California
ORIGINALLY: Ruby Stevens

BEST KNOWN FOR: Barbara Stanwyck was an American actress who had a 60-year career in film and TV. Usually playing strong-willed women, Stanwyck defined the femme fatale.

Film, television and theatre actress Barbara Stanwyck was born Ruby Stevens on July 16, 1907, in Brooklyn, New York. She had a troubled childhood, having become an orphan at the age of 4 after her mother was pushed off of a moving streetcar and killed. Her father failed to cope with the loss of his wife and abandoned his five children.The young Stanwyck—who was raised by her sister, a showgirl—was forced to grow up quickly. She was basically left to fend for herself. At the age of 9, Stanwyck took up smoking. She ended up quitting school five years later. By age 15, she made her way into the entertainment industry after becoming a chorus girl and later made her Broadway debut in 1926 as a cabaret dancer in The Noose. This was shortly after she changed her name to Barbara Stanwyck.
Stanwyck, along with Golden Age actresses like Bette Davis and Joan Crawford, helped to redefine the typical role of women in film. Unlike the damsels in distress and happy housewives often shown in films during this era, Stanwyck a wide range of women, all having their own set of motives and ideals. Some examples of her landmark roles were in Ladies They Talk About (1932) and Annie Oakley (1935)—in which she played the titular role.In 1937, Stanwyck’s talent as an actress was recognized on a grander scale as she was nominated for an Academy Award for her role in Stella Dallas(1937). She would come to be nominated three more times for the films Ball of Fire (1941), Double Indemnity (1944) and Sorry, Wrong Number (1948)—each time for best actress in a leading role—however, she never won the award. In addition to the recognition she received from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for Double Indemnity, she was lauded by critics for having what’s considered one of her greatest roles as seductress and murderer Phyllis Dietrichson in the popular noir film. She did, however, receive an honorary Oscar in 1982. In total she filmed more than 80 films.
As Stanwyck got older, she began making more appearances in television and fewer on film. In the 1952, she made her first television appearance onThe Jack Benny Program (1932-55). She followed with more steady work on TV in series such as Goodyear Theater (1957-60), Zane Grey Theater (1956-61) and The Barbara Stanwyck Show (1960-61), for which she received a Primetime Emmy Award. One of her most memorable roles on TV was in The Big Valley (1965-69), in which she played the lead role as Victoria Barkley.In the 1980s, Stanwyck made several memorable television appearances. She played Mary Carson in the 1983 hit miniseries The Thorn Birds with Richard Chamberlain and Rachel Ward. For portrayal of Ward’s strong-willed grandmother, Stanwyck won both a Golden Globe and an Emmy Award. She returned to prime time two years later with a role on Dynasty and then appeared on the popular drama’s spin-off The Colbys.Stanwyck was a reclusive person outside of acting, much different than the outgoing female characters that she so often played. After marrying comedian Fay, the couple adopted a son together, Dion Anthony Fay in 1932, before they got divorced in 1935 after it was reported that he had a drinking problem. She then married actor Robert Taylor in 1939, and the couple stayed together for a little more than a decade before they got divorced in 1951. She lived the rest of her life alone, preferring work as opposed to social interaction, during her later years.

One of her closest friends was her co-star from the series The Big Valley,Linda Evans. Evans said that after her mother passed, Stanwyck stepped in and took on that absent mother role in her life while they were filming. Stanwyck died a pioneering and often overlooked actress in Santa Monica, California, on January 20, 1990, from congestive heart failure. At her request, no funeral or memorial service was held.Stanwyck made the transition from Broadway to the silver screen in the late-1920s, trying her hand at acting in the film Broadway Nights (1927) as a dancer. The following year, she married comedian Frank Fay and in 1929 she took on a part in the film The Locked Door (1929) before she finished her stage run on Broadway and moved to Hollywood to pursue a career in film. Although Stanwyck’s career in film almost ended before it began with two unrecognized film roles under her belt, she managed to convince director Frank Capra to have a role in his film 1930 film Ladies of Leisure. The film garnered Stanwyck the attention that she desired.
Stanwyck’s role as a woman whose priorities revolved around money first and foremost was only the first in a string of performances that showed a progressive, stronger side of women. After her acting chops were put on display, she was signed to a contract with Columbia and appeared in the filmIllicit (1931). She soon followed with several popular films, including Ten Cents a Dance (1931), Night Nurse (1931) and Forbidden (1932), a film that took Stanwyck to Hollywood’s A-list.