Happy Birthday Elizabeth Taylor

Today is the 83rd birthday of Elizabeth Taylor.  Everything has already been said and everything should be said about Elizabeth Taylor.  Pick one of her films and watch it and re-fall in love with her.  I can’t even decide which one it should be.  Cat? Place? BUtterfield? Suddenly? Giant? Just watch one.  The world is a better place because she was in it and still feels the loss that she has left.

NAME: Elizabeth Taylor
OCCUPATION: Film Actress
BIRTH DATE: February 27, 1932
DEATH DATE: March 23, 2011
PLACE OF BIRTH: London, England
PLACE OF DEATH: Los Angeles, California
NICKNAME: Liz Taylor
FULL NAME: Dame Elizabeth Rosemond Taylor, DBE

BEST KNOWN FOR: Actress Elizabeth Taylor starred in films like Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and BUtterfield 8, but was just as famous for her violet eyes and scandalous love life.

Elizabeth Rosemond Taylor was born on February 27, 1932, in London, England. One of film’s most celebrated stars, Elizabeth Taylor has fashioned a career that’s covered more than six decades, accepting roles that have not only showcased her beauty, but her ability to take on emotionally charged characters.

Taylor’s American parents, both art dealers, were residing in London when she was born. Soon after the outbreak of World War II, the Taylors returned to the United States and settled into their new life in Los Angeles.

“One problem with people who have no vices is that they’re pretty sure to have some annoying virtues.” – Elizabeth Taylor

Performance was in Taylor’s blood. Her mother had worked as an actress until she married. At the age of 3, the young Taylor started dancing, and eventually gave a recital for Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret. Not long after relocating to California a family friend suggested the Taylors’ daughter take a screen test.

She soon signed a contract with Universal Studios, and made her screen debut at the age of 10 in There’s One Born Every Minute (1942). She followed that up with a bigger role in Lassie Come Home (1943) and later The White Cliffs of Dover (1944).

Her breakout role, however, came in 1944 with National Velvet, in a role Elizabeth Taylor spent four months working to get. The film subsequently turned out to be a huge hit that pulled in more than $4 million and made the 12-year-old actress a huge star.

In the glare of the Hollywood spotlight, the young actress showed she was more than adept at handling celebrity’s tricky terrain. Even more impressive was the fact that, unlike so many child stars before and after her, Taylor proved she could make a seamless transition to more adult roles.

“It would be glamorous to be reincarnated as a great big ring on Liz Taylor’s finger.” – Andy Warhol

Her stunning looks helped. At just 18 she played opposite Spencer Tracy in Father of the Bride (1950). Taylor also showed her acting talents in 1954 with three films: The Last Time I Saw Paris, Rhapsody, and Elephant Walk, the latter of which saw Taylor take on the role of a plantation owner’s wife who is in love with the farm’s manager.

Her personal life only boosted the success of her films. For a time she dated millionaire Howard Hughes, then at the age of 17, Elizabeth Taylor made her first entrance into marriage, when she wed hotel heir, Nicky Hilton.

The union didn’t last long and, in 1952, Taylor was walking down the aisle again—this time to marry actor Michael Welding. In all, Taylor has married eight times during life, including twice to actor Richard Burton.

While her love life continued to make international headlines, Taylor continued to shine showed as an actress.

She delivered a riveting performance in the drama A Place in the Sun, and turned things up even more in 1956 with the film adaptation of the Edna Ferber novel, Giant that co-starred James Dean. Two years later, she sizzled on the big screen in the film adaptation of Tennessee Williams’ Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. The following year, she starred in another Williams classic, Suddenly Last Summer. Taylor earned her first Oscar, capturing the coveted Best Actress award for her role as call girl in BUtterfield 8 (1960).

But Taylor’s fame was also touched by tragedy and loss. In 1958, she became a young widow when her husband, pioneering film producer Mike Todd, was killed in a plane crash. After his death, Taylor became embroiled in one of the greatest Hollywood love scandals of the era when she began an affair with Todd’s close friend, Eddie Fisher. Fisher divorced Debbie Reynolds and married Taylor in 1959. The couple stayed married for five years until she left Fisher for actor Richard Burton.

The public’s obsession with Taylor’s love life hit new heights with her 1964 marriage to Richard Burton. She’d met and fallen in love with the actor during her work on Cleopatra (1963), a film that not only heightened Taylor’s clout and fame, but also proved to be a staggering investment, clocking in at an unprecedented $37 million to make.

The Taylor-Burton union was a fiery and passionate one. They appeared onscreen together in the much-panned The V.I.P.’s (1963), and then again two years later for the heralded Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, a film that earned Taylor her second Oscar for her role as an overweight, angry wife of an alcoholic professor, played by Burton.

The subsequent years proved to be an up-and-down affair for Taylor. There were more marriages, more divorces, health obstacles, and a struggling film career, with movies that gained little traction with critics or the movie-going public.

Still, Taylor continued to act. She found work on television, even making a guest appearance on General Hospital, and on stage. She also began focusing more attention on philanthropy. After her close friend Rock Hudson died in 1985 following his battle with HIV/AIDS, the actress started work to find a cure for the disease. In 1991 she launched the Elizabeth Taylor HIV/AIDS Foundation in order to offer greater support for those who are sick, as well fund research for more advanced treatments.

Largely retired from the world of acting, Taylor received numerous awards for her body of work. In 1993 she received the American Film Institute’s Life Achievement Award. In 2000 she was made Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE).

Taylor overcame a litany of health problems throughout the 90s, from diabetes to congestive heart failure. She had both hips replaced, and in 1997 had a brain tumor removed. In October 2009, Taylor, who has four children, underwent successful heart surgery. In early 2011, Taylor again experienced heart problems.

She was admitted to Cedars-Sinai Hospital in that February for congestive heart failure. On March 23, 2011, Taylor passed away from the condition.

Shortly after her death, her son Michael Wilding released a statement, saying “My mother was an extraordinary woman who lived life to the fullest, with great passion, humor, and love … We will always be inspired by her enduring contribution to our world.”

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Happy Birthday Dorothy Stratten

Today is the 55th birthday of a girl that will always be only 20 years old:  Dorothy Stratten.

 

NAME: Dorothy Stratten
OCCUPATION: Film Actress, Model
BIRTH DATE: February 26, 1960
DEATH DATE: August 14, 1980
PLACE OF BIRTH: Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
PLACE OF DEATH: West Los Angeles, California
ORIGINALLY: Dorothy Ruth Hoogstraten
AKA: Dorothy Hoogstraten

BEST KNOWN FOR: Dorothy Stratten was a Playboy model and actress before she was murdered at the age of 20.

Dorothy Stratten was born Dorothy Ruth Hoogstraten on February 26, 1960, in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. After high school, Stratten began dating Paul Snider, a small-time promoter who encouraged her to take a few nude photos to enter Playboy’s 25th Anniversary Playmate search in 1978. Though she lost the Anniversary contest, Stratten did become a playmate for the magazine’s August 1979 issue. Stratten and Snider were soon married, and her career grew to include film offers and the coveted title of Playmate of the Year in 1980.

After being cast in Peter Bogdanovich’s They All Laughed, Stratten and the director began having an affair. As her fame grew, Snider became increasingly jealous and resentful. Shortly after Stratten and Snider separated, on August 14, 1980, she visited Snider at his home in West Los Angeles, California. There, Snider shot her to death before turning the gun on himself.

Stratten’s story was told in 1983’s Star 80, director Bob Fosse‘s last film. She was also the subject of Bogdanovich’s 1984 book The Killing of the Unicorn.

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Happy Birthday Betty Hutton

Today is the 94th birthday of Betty Hutton.  Her Rags to riches to rags to riches story is full of second acts, she has several.  It is a great American life.  The world is a better place that she was in it and still feels the loss that she has left.

 

NAME: Betty Hutton
OCCUPATION: Film Actress, Singer
BIRTH DATE: February 26, 1921
DEATH DATE: March 11, 2007
PLACE OF BIRTH: Battle Creek, Michigan
PLACE OF DEATH: Palm Springs, California

BEST KNOWN FOR: A popular film actress of the 1940s and 1950s, Betty Hutton starred in such films as Annie Get Your Gun and Greatest Show on Earth.

Born Elizabeth Jane Thornburg on February 26, 1921, in Battle Creek, Michigan, entertainer Betty Hutton started performing at a young age. Her father walked out on the family when she was a toddler, and her mother did what she could to take care of Betty and her sister, Marion, including selling homemade gin and beer during Prohibition. At the age of 3, Hutton began singing as a way to earn spare change from her mother’s customers.

According to the Washington Post, Hutton’s family situation grew more dire over the years: “I quit school when I was 9 years old and starting singing on street corners because my mother was an alcoholic,” Hutton later explained. By age 15, Hutton was working professionally, appearing in a Detroit nightclub. There, she was discovered by bandleader Vincent Lopez. It was Lopez’s idea for her change her last name to Hutton.

After performing with Lopez for a time, Hutton went out on her own. She made her Broadway debut in 1940’s Two for the Show. Later that year, she appeared with Ethel Merman in Panama Hattie. Soon, she moved to film, brought out to Hollywood by a Paramount executive.

Hutton brought an explosive energy to her movie roles, beginning with 1942’s The Fleet’s In with Dorothy Lamour and William Holden. Two years later, she starred in the 1944 wartime comedy The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek, directed by Preston Sturges, and her platinum locks and curvy figure quickly earned her nicknames such as “the Blond Bombshell” and “the Blond Blitz.”

More starring film roles soon followed. In 1945, Hutton played entertainer Texas Guinan in Incendiary Blonde. She then brought the life of silent film star Pearl White to the big screen in 1947’s The Perils of Pauline. In 1950, the actress tackled perhaps her most famous role in the hit musical Annie Get Your Gun, about famed sharpshooter and western star Annie Oakley.

Hutton had two major film projects in 1952: She starred in Cecil B. DeMille’s grand spectacular Greatest Show on Earth and in the biopic Somebody Loves Me, based on the life and career of vaudeville singer and actress Blossom Seeley. These movies proved to be two of Hutton’s final big screen efforts.

Hutton walked out on her film contract after a dispute with the studio.

She wanted her second husband, Charles O’Curran, to be her director, and the studio refused. After her split from Paramount, Hutton only made one more film: the 1957 low-budget drama Spring Reunion. Two years later, she tried her luck with television, starring on The Betty Hutton Show. The program lasted only one season.

As her career faded, Hutton fell prey to her personal demons and financial woes. She abused sleeping pills and other drugs for many years. In 1967, she declared bankruptcy, having spent the $9 million to $10 million that she had earned during her heyday. A few years later, she had a mental breakdown, subsequently spending time in a treatment facility.

With the help of Father Peter Maguire, Hutton managed to turn her life around. She became a Catholic and spent years working in his church in Rhode Island. In 1980, she returned to the Broadway stage in the musical Annie. Also around this time, she became a drama teacher at Salve Regina University in Newport, Rhode Island.

After Maguire’s death in 1996, Hutton moved to Palm Springs, California, hoping to reconcile with her three daughters who lived in the state. Married four times, Hutton had two children, Candy and Lindsay, with her first husband, Ted Briskin. Her third child, Caroline, was from her fourth marriage to jazz musician Pete Candoli. “My husbands all fell in love with Betty Hutton,” the famous blond bombshell once said, according to The New York Times. “None of them fell in love with me.”

Hutton died of complications from colon cancer on March 11, 2007, at the age of 86, in her Palm Springs home. There was a small, private service to mark her passing, which her daughters did not attend. Despite her efforts, Hutton had not been able to mend the rift between her and her children.

Whatever she experienced in her personal life, there is no question that Betty Hutton left an indelible mark on the world of film. “The thing about Betty Hutton was she could sing a song and break your heart, and she was a very good actress,” Robert Osborne, TV host and film historian, told the Los Angeles Times. “Behind the zaniness there was a very sweet, vulnerable person.”

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Happy Birthday Tony Randall

Today is the 95th birthday of Tony Randall.  Watching him act is like watching a scientist perform experiments: precise, exact, trained. Watching Tony Randall talk about acting is like sneaking into a Masters Class and learning something you had absolutely no idea even existed. Tony Randall was an actor’s actor, he loved them, he supported them, he was one of them.  The world is a better place because he was in it and still feels the loss that he has left.

NAME: Tony Randall
OCCUPATION: Television Actor
BIRTH DATE: February 26, 1920
DEATH DATE: May 17, 2004
EDUCATION: Northwestern University, Columbia University
PLACE OF BIRTH: Tulsa, Oklahoma
PLACE OF DEATH: New York, New York
ORIGINALLY: Leonard Rosenberg

BEST KNOWN FOR: Tony Randall was an actor who became widely known through his character Felix Unger on TV’s The Odd Couple.

Actor. Born Leonard Rosenberg on February 26, 1920 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. After graduating from Northwestern University where he studied drama, Randall moved to New York City to attend Columbia University and train at the Neighborhood Playhouse. He was soon drafted into the Army to serve in the Signal Corps during World War II. When the war was over, Randall resumed his career as a radio actor, most notably in the role of Reggie on the adventure serial I Love a Mystery.

Randall made his name on Broadway in the 1950s, starring in the musical Oh, Captain and Inherit the Wind. He made his film debut in 1957 with Oh, Men, Oh Women, and followed with the comedy Pillow Talk in 1959 and Lover Come Back in 1961. Though he received his share of forgettable starring film roles, including Fluffy in 1964, he received critical acclaim for his work in the film The Seven Faces of Dr. Lao.

Television audiences will likely best remember Randall for his role of buttoned-up Felix Unger in The Odd Couple, which ran from 1969-1974. In addition to appearing on numerous game and panel shows, Randall enjoyed an extensive television career that included Mr. Peepers (1952-1953) and (1969-1974), his own short-lived TV series called The Tony Randall Show (1976) and Love, Sidney (1981-1983).

Active in several liberal and humanitarian causes, Randall has often put his career on the line to let his opinions be known. He delivered an anti-Vietnam speech in the late 1960s and has been known to speak out against the dangers of cigarette smoking. During the summer of 1980, he served as the celebrity host of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra‘s concerts in Central Park, New York City. In 1991, Randall created the National Actors Theater, a New York-based repertory company devoted to American and British classics.

In 1995, after the death of his wife and companion Florence, Randall earned media attention when he married Heather Harlan, a woman 50 years his junior. The couple met while she was an intern at the National Actors Theatre. They have two children.

Randall died in May 2004 in New York. He was 84.

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Happy Birthday Zeppo Marx

Today is the 114th birthday of Zeppo Marx.  He was the youngest, most handsome, and most mechanically inclined Marx Brother.  Pay attention to him in the first five movies next time you watch them (you do watch them, don’t you?) and appreciate his quite-often under-appreciated talent. The world is a better place because he was in it and still feels the loss that he has left.

NAME: Zeppo Marx
OCCUPATION: Actor, Comedian, Engineer, Inventor
BIRTH DATE: February 25, 1901
DEATH DATE: November 30, 1979
PLACE OF BIRTH: New York, New York
PLACE OF DEATH: Rancho Mirage, California
FULL NAME: Herbert Manfred Marx
NICKNAME: Herbie
AKA: Zeppo Marx
NICKNAME: Zep
AKA: Herbert Marx

BEST KNOWN FOR: The youngest of the Marx Brothers, Zeppo Marx was the handsomest sibling, but often under-appreciated as the straight man and young romantic lead. He left the famous comedic team to become a millionaire inventor.

The youngest of the Marx Brothers, Zeppo Marx was born Herbert Manfred Marx on February 25, 1901, in New York City. Like his brothers, he was a first-generation American, born to Sam “Frenchie” and Minnie (Schoenberg) Marx, of French and German Jewish extraction, who both came from Europe but met in New York. The first of their six sons, Manfred, died in infancy; Zeppo’s middle name honored him.

The origin of his nickname varies depending on the source: Both Groucho and Zeppo’s second ex-wife said it was derived from the zeppelins of the time. One story is simply that their father called him “Zep” when he came home one day, and the moniker stuck. Another is that the name was adapted from Mr. Zippo, a trained chimpanzee, according to brother Harpo’s autobiography. According to the book, Herbie’s athletic prowess and acrobatics echoed the chimp’s act, but his objection morphed the nickname into Zeppo.

Minnie Marx, a former dance teacher, was a fervent stage mother, getting the boys on the vaudeville circuit to make money. She added Herbie, who had a tendency toward pugilism, to the brother act in an effort to keep him from fighting. The Marx patriarch “was a very bad tailor,” according to Zeppo, “but he found some people who were so stupid that they would buy his clothes, and so he’d make a few dollars that way for food.”

Being the youngest, and by all account the most handsome, Zeppo was always cast in the role of straight man and romantic lead. He was reportedly frustrated that he couldn’t be funny, even though comedy rarely works without a good foil. The brothers apparently agreed that he was the funniest, but Groucho has been noted for both saying that the team was funnier without him, and that he felt threatened by Zeppo when he understudied him in the play Animal Crackers. Groucho was unable to perform in the production because he was having surgery to remove his appendix at the time, and some said that Zeppo was better than Groucho.

Though Zeppo only had a few moments to shine, including the dictation-taking scene in Animal Crackers, he left the brother act after just five films, which also included Duck Soup and Monkey Business, to join Gummo, the other non-performing Marx brother, in running a talent agency.

Zeppo’s other talents included an extraordinary grasp of mechanics and engineering, and he has been credited with keeping the family car running when they were touring in the early days. He also held various jobs, including as a commercial fisherman and citrus farmer. Zeppo founded Marman Products in 1941, which made clamping devices that were used in WWII to secure the atomic bombs transported on the Enola Gay. He also held three patents, two of which pertained to his invention of a watch that monitored the pulse of heart patients. It was this business that helped make Zeppo a multimillionaire.

Zeppo married twice, first to Marion Benda, with whom he had two adopted sons, Timothy and Thomas. Five years after their divorce in 1954, Zeppo marred Barbara Blakeley, whose son Bobby took his surname, though he was never officially adopted. Barbara married Frank Sinatra after the couple divorced in 1973.

The last of the Marx Brothers to pass away, Zeppo Marx died of lung cancer on November 30, 1979, in Rancho Mirage, California. His ashes were scattered over the Pacific Ocean.

Critics still argue about whether Zeppo Marx was instinctively funny.

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Happy Birthday Pierre-Auguste Renoir

Today is the 174th birthday of the artist Pierre-Auguste Renoir. I first remember seeing his art in the hallways of my elementary school. I didn’t know who the artist was at the time, but as I learned more about art, I realized that his paintings had been part of my life all along. I remember lining up in the hallways and staring at his paintings while waiting to go wherever we were going, lunch, recess, etc. The world is a better place because he was in it and still feels the loss the a he left.

NAME: Pierre-Auguste Renoir
OCCUPATION: Painter
BIRTH DATE: February 25, 1841
DEATH DATE: December 3, 1919
EDUCATION: École des Beaux-Arts
PLACE OF BIRTH: Limoges, France
PLACE OF DEATH: Cagnes-sur-Mer, France

BEST KNOWN FOR: A leading Impressionist painter, Pierre-Auguste Renoir was one of the most famous artists of the early twentieth century.

The son of a tailor and a seamstress, Pierre-Auguste Renoir came from humble beginnings. He was the couple’s sixth child, but two of his older siblings died as infants. The family moved to Paris sometime between 1844 and 1846, living near the Louvre, a world-renowned art museum. He attended a local Catholic school.

As a teenager, Renoir became an apprentice to a porcelain painter. He learned to copy designs to decorate plates and other dishware. Before long, Renoir started doing other types of decorative painting to make a living. He also took free drawing classes at a city-sponsored art school, which was run by sculptor Louis-Denis Caillouette.

Using imitation as a learning tool, a nineteen-year-old Renoir started studying and copying some of the great works hanging at the Louvre. He then entered the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, a famous art school, in 1862. Renoir also became a student of Charles Gleyre. At Gleyre’s studio, Renoir soon befriended three other young artists: Frédéric Bazille, Claude Monet, and Alfred Sisley. And through Monet, he met such emerging talents as Camille Pissarro and Paul Cézanne.

In 1864, Renoir won acceptance into the annual Paris Salon exhibit. There he showed the painting, “La Esmeralda,” which was inspired by a character from Victor Hugo’s Notre-Dame de Paris. The following year, Renoir again showed at the prestigious Salon, this time displaying a portrait of William Sisley, the wealthy father of artist Alfred Sisley.

While his Salon works helped raise his profile in the art world, Renoir had to struggle to make a living. He sought out commissions for portraits and often depended on the kindness of his friends, mentors, and patrons. The artist Jules Le Coeur and his family served as strong supporters of Renoir’s for many years. Renoir also remained close to Monet, Bazille, and Sisley, sometimes staying at their homes or sharing their studios. According to many biographies, he seemed to have no fixed address during his early career.

Around 1867, Renoir met Lise Tréhot, a seamstress who became his model. She served as the model for such works as “Diana” (1867) and “Lise” (1867). The two also reportedly became romantically involved. According to some reports, she gave birth to his first child, a daughter named Jeanne, in 1870. Renoir never publicly acknowledged his daughter during his lifetime.

Renoir had to take a break from his work in 1870 when he was drafted into the army to serve in France’s war against Germany. He was assigned to a cavalry unit, but he soon fell ill with dysentery. Renoir never saw any action during the war, unlike his friend Bazille who was killed that November.

After the war ended in 1871, Renoir eventually made his way back to Paris. He and some of his friends, including Pissarro, Monet, Cézanne and Edgar Degas, decided to show their works on their own in Paris in 1874, which became known as the first Impressionist exhibition. The group’s name is derived from a critical review of their show, in which the works were called “impressions” rather than finished paintings done using traditional methods. Renoir, like other Impressionists, embraced a brighter palette for his paintings, which gave them a warmer and sunnier feel. He also used different types of brushstrokes to capture his artistic vision on the canvas.

While the first Impressionist exhibition was not a success, Renoir soon found other supportive patrons to propel his career. The wealthy publisher Georges Charpentier and his wife Marguérite took a great interest in the artist and invited him to numerous social gatherings at their Paris home. Through the Charpentiers, Renoir met such famous writers as Gustave Flaubert and ?mile Zola. He also received portrait commissions from the couple’s friends. His 1878 painting, “Madame Charpentier and her Children,” was featured in the official Salon of the following year and brought him much critical admiration.

Funded with the money from his commissions, Renoir made several inspirational journeys in the early 1880s. He visited Algeria and Italy and spent time in the south of France. While in Naples, Italy, Renoir worked on a portrait of famed composer Richard Wagner. He also painted three of his masterworks, “Dance in the Country,” “Dance in the City” and “Dance at Bougival” around this time.

As his fame grew, Renoir began to settle down. He finally married his longtime girlfriend Aline Charigot in 1890. The couple already had a son, Pierre, who was born in 1885. Aline served as a model for many of his works, including “Mother Nursing Her Child” (1886). His growing family, with the additions of sons Jean in 1894 and Claude in 1901, also provided inspiration for a number of paintings.

As he aged, Renoir continued to use his trademark feathery brushstrokes to depict primarily rural and domestic scenes. His work, however, proved to be more and more physically challenging for the artist. Renoir first battled with rheumatism in the mid-1890s and the disease plagued him for the rest of his life.

In 1907, Renoir bought some land in Cagnes-sur-Mer where he built a stately home for his family. He continued to work, painting whenever he could. The rheumatism had disfigured his hands, leaving his fingers permanently curled. Renoir also had a stroke in 1912, which left him in a wheelchair. Around this time, he tried his hand at sculpture. He worked with assistants to create works based on some of his paintings.

The world-renowned Renoir continued to paint until his death. He lived long enough to see one of his works bought by the Louvre in 1919, a tremendous honor for any artist. Renoir died that December at his home in Cagnes-sur-Mer, France. He was buried next to his wife, Aline (who died in 1915), in her hometown of Essoyes, France.

Besides leaving behind over two hundred works of art, Renoir served as an inspiration to so many other artists—Pierre Bonnard, Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso are just a few who benefitted from Renoir’s artistic style and methods.

Andy Warhol, Pop Artist, Dies

On this day in 1987, Andy Warhol died.  I normally only celebrate birthdays, but since I actually remember this day, I will include it.  I remember the mounds and mounds of things they found in his house.  It was kind of before hoarding really got highlighted, he was more of an extreme collector of vintage cookie jars, Russel Wright pottery, watches, Navajo blankets and rugs, early American furniture and over 75 pieces by Man Ray, Duchamp and Rauschenberg, you may as well throw in a Lichtenstein, a Jasper Johns, a Hockney, a Dali, a Haring and a Basquiat (or six).

His collecting lead me to purchase several vintage cookie jars and give them as gifts.  I still have one that is a hand-painted elf head.  The pointy ears are chipped and the when the artist painted it, they went pretty heavy on the eye liner.  Dogs are not particular fans of it.


warhol dies

ANDY WARHOL, POP ARTIST, DIES
By DOUGLAS C. McGILL
New York Times Published: February 23, 1987

Andy Warhol, a founder of Pop Art whose paintings and prints of Presidents, movie stars, soup cans and other icons of America made him one of the most famous artists in the world, died yesterday. He was believed to be 58 years old.

The artist died at the New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center in Manhattan, where he underwent gall bladder surgery Saturday. His condition was stable after the operation, according to a hospital spokeswoman, Ricki Glantz, but he had a heart attack in his sleep around 5:30 A.M.

Though best known for his earliest works – including his silk-screen image of a Campbell’s soup can and a wood sculpture painted like a box of Brillo pads – Mr. Warhol’s career included successful forays into photography, movie making, writing and magazine publishing.

He founded Interview magazine in 1969, and in recent years both he and his work were increasingly in the public eye – on national magazine covers, in society columns and in television advertisements for computers, cars, cameras and liquors.

In all these endeavors, Mr. Warhol’s keenest talents were for attracting publicity, for uttering the unforgettable quote and for finding the single visual image that would most shock and endure. That his art could attract and maintain the public interest made him among the most influential and widely emulated artists of his time.

Although himself shy and quiet, Mr. Warhol attracted dozens of followers who were anything but quiet, and the combination of his genius and their energy produced dozens of notorious events throughout his career. In the mid-1960’s, he sometimes sent a Warhol look alike to speak for him at lecture engagements, and his Manhattan studio, ”the Factory,” was a legendary hangout for other artists and hangers-on.

In 1968, however, a would-be follower shot and critically wounded Mr. Warhol at the Factory. After more than a year of recuperation, Mr. Warhol returned to his career, which he increasingly devoted to documenting, with Polaroid pictures and large silk-screen prints, political and entertainment figures. He started his magazine, and soon became a fixture on the fashion and jet-set social scene.

In the 1980’s, after a relatively quiet period in his career, Mr. Warhol burst back onto the contemporary art scene as a mentor and friend to young artists, including Keith Haring, Kenny Scharf and Jean-Michel Basquiat. With Mr. Basquiat, Mr. Warhol collaborated on a series of paintings in which he shunned mechanical reproduction techniques and painted individual canvases for the first time since the early 1960’s.

He never denied his obsession with art as a business and with getting publicity; instead, he proclaimed them as philosophical tenets.

”Being good in business is the most fascinating kind of art,” he said on one occasion. On another, he said: ”Art? That’s a man’s name.” As widely known as his art and his own image were, however, Mr. Warhol himself was something of a cipher. He was uneasy while speaking about himself. ”The interviewer should just tell me the words he wants me to say and I’ll repeat them after him,” he once said. Date of Birth Uncertain

The earliest facts of his life remain unclear. He was born somewhere in Pennsylvania in either 1928, 1929 or 1930, according to three known versions of his life. (The most commonly accepted date is Aug. 6, 1928.) The son of immigrant parents from Czechoslovakia, his father a coal miner – the family’s name was Warhola -he attended the Carnegie Institute of Technology (now Carnegie-Mellon University), from which he graduated with a degree in pictorial design in 1949.

He immediately set out for New York, where he changed his name to Warhol and began a career as an illustrator and a commerical artist, working for Tiffany’s, Bonwit Teller’s, Vogue, Glamour, The New York Times and other magazines and department stores.

By the late 1950’s, he was highly successful, having earned enough money to move to a town house in Midtown, and having received numerous professional prizes and awards. Despite his success, however, he increasingly considered trying his hand at making paintings, and in 1960 he did so with a series of pictures based on comic strips, including Superman and Dick Tracy, and on Coca-Cola bottles.

Success, however, was not immediate. Leo Castelli, the art dealer best known for discovering the artists Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg, saw Mr. Warhol’s paintings but declined to show his work, since Roy Lichtenstein, who also painted pictures taken from comic strips, was already represented by the gallery. Ivan Karp, a talent scout for Castelli who discovered Mr. Warhol, tried to help him find a New York gallery that would show his work, with no success. The Birth of a Movement

In 1962, the dam broke, with Mr. Warhol’s first exhibition of the Campbell’s soup cans at the Ferus Gallery in Los Angeles, and his show of other works at the Sidney Janis Gallery in New York. Other Pop artists, including Mr. Lichtenstein, James Rosenquist and Tom Wesselman also began to achieve prominence around the country at the time, and the movement was born.

Though some of Mr. Warhol’s first Pop Art paintings had drips on them – evidence that the painter’s hand had left its mark on the work – by 1963 Mr. Warhol had dispensed with the brush altogether. Instead, he turned to exclusively hard-edged images made in the medium of silk-screen print, which made a depersonalized image that became Mr. Warhol’s trademark.

”Painting a soup can is not in itself a radical act,” the critic Robert Hughes wrote in 1971. ”But what was radical in Warhol was that he adapted the means of production of soup cans to the way he produced paintings, turning them out en masse – consumer art mimicking the the process as well as the look of consumer culture.”

In 1964 Mr. Warhol was taken on by the Castelli Gallery, which remained his art dealer until his death. His experimentation with underground films began around that time – an interest that culminated in widespread notoriety if not overwhelming box office acclaim.

”Eat,” a 45-minute film, showed the artist Robert Indiana eating a mushroom. ”Haircut” showed a Warhol groupie having his hair cut over a span of 33 minutes, and another, ”Poor Little Rich Girl,” was filmed out of focus and showed Edie Sedgwick, a Warhol follower who became a celebrity on the New York social circuit, talking about herself.

In the 1970’s, recuperated from his near fatal gunshot wound, Mr. Warhol settled down to a sustained creative period in which his fame as a society figure leveled off, but his output, if anything, increased. Working most often in silk-screen prints, he made series of pictures of political and Hollywood celebrities, including Mao, Liza Minelli, Jimmy Carter and Russell Banks.

In 1975, he published ”The Philosophy of Andy Warhol (From A to B and Back Again),” a collection of statements and epigrams that elucidated his contrary views on art.

In his glancing and elliptical style, Mr. Warhol wrote about subjects ranging from art to money and sex. ”Checks aren’t money,” he wrote in one section of the book. In another, he said: ”Fantasy love is much better than reality love. Never doing it is very exciting. The most exciting attractions are between two opposites that never meet.”

In the 1980’s, Mr. Warhol became more active in commissioned art projects and a variety of other commercial activties. In 1983, he made a series of prints – based on animals of endangered species – that was first shown at the American Museum of Natural History. A Near Exception

Although some of his later art projects seemed to diverge from his calculating approach and to be motivated in part by social concern, Mr. Warhol generally avoided any such suggestion. He came closest to making an exception in 1985, when he exhibited a group of prints of clowns, robots, monkeys and other images he made for children at the Newport (R.I.) Art Museum in 1985.

”It’s just that the show’s for children,” he told a reporter at the time. ”I wanted it arranged for them. The Newport Museum agreed to hang all of my children’s pictures at levels where only kids could really see them.”

After the news of his death was publicized yesterday, artists, celebrities and politicians who knew Mr. Warhol spoke of his influence on culture, and on their lives.

”He had this wry, sardonic knack for dismissing history and putting his finger on public taste, which to me was evidence of living in the present,” said the sculptor George Segal. ”Every generation of artists has the huge problem of finding their own language and talking about their own experience. He was out front with several others of his generation in pinning down how it was to live in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s.”

Leo Castelli, Mr. Warhol’s dealer of 23 years, said Mr. Warhol, more than practically any artist of the last two decades, seemed to have a continuing and strong influence on today’s emerging artists. ”Of all the painters of his generation he’s still the one most influential on the younger artists – a real guru,” Mr. Castelli said.

Martha Graham, the dancer and choreographer, recalled her first meeting with Warhol. ”When I first met Andy, he confided to me that he was born in Pittsburgh as I was, and that when he first saw me dance ‘Appalachian Spring’ it touched him deeply. He touched me deeply as well. He was a gifted, strange maverick who crossed my life with great generosity. His last act was the gift of three portraits [ of Miss Graham ] he donated to my company to help my company meet its financial needs.”

In his book, ”The Philosophy of Andy Warhol,” the artist wrote a short chapter entitled ”Death” that consisted almost entirely of these words: ”I’m so sorry to hear about it. I just thought that things were magic and that it would never happen.”

Dr. Elliot M. Gross, the Chief Medical Examiner for New York City, said an autopsy on Mr. Warhol would be conducted today. Dr. Gross explained that deaths occurring during surgery or shortly afterward are considered deaths of an ”unusual manner.”

”It was an unexplained death of a relatively young person in apparently good health,” he said.

Mr. Warhol is survived by two brothers, John Warhola and Paul Warhola, both of Pittsburgh.

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