Happy Birthday Jean Harlow

Today is the 104th birthday of the original blonde bombshell:  Jean Harlow.  It is amazing to think that someone can die at 26 over 70 years ago and the world can still adore her.  Watch a few of her films and the biopic Harlow with Caroll Baker, you will become a lifelong fan.  Some people just have IT, although IT never gets any better defined than that.  Just something that draws us moths to their flame, something that we see, admire, perhaps even aspire to, but IT is something that attracts us on a biological level.  The world is a better place because she was in it and still feels the loss that she left.

 

NAME: Jean Harlow
OCCUPATION: Film Actress, Pin-up
BIRTH DATE: March 03, 1911
DEATH DATE: June 07, 1937
PLACE OF BIRTH: Kansas City, Missouri
PLACE OF DEATH: Los Angeles, California
ORIGINALLY: Harlean Carpenter

BEST KNOWN FOR: Jean Harlow was an American actress who proved herself a platinum-blonde sex-symbol and able comedian in 1930s Hollywood.

Jean Harlow (March 3, 1911 – June 7, 1937) was an American film actress and sex symbol of the 1930s. Known as the “Blonde Bombshell” and the “Platinum Blonde” (due to her platinum blonde hair), Harlow was ranked as one of the greatest movie stars of all time by the American Film Institute. Harlow starred in several films, mainly designed to showcase her magnetic sex appeal and strong screen presence, before making the transition to more developed roles and achieving massive fame under contract to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM). Harlow’s enormous popularity and “laughing vamp” image were in distinct contrast to her personal life, which was marred by disappointment, tragedy, and ultimately her sudden death from renal failure at the age of 26.

Harlow wrote a novel, entitled Today is Tonight. According to Arthur Landau in his introduction to the 1965 paperback edition, Harlow stated her intention to write the book around 1933–1934, but it was not published during her lifetime. After her death, Landau writes, her mother sold the film rights to MGM, but no film was made. The publication rights to the novel were passed from Harlow’s mother to a family friend and the book was finally published in 1965.

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The Philadelphia Story – Required Viewing

 

I absolutely adore The Philadelphia Story.  It has almost every one of my favorite classic Hollywood actors looking their most beautiful, it is directed by one of my very favorite classic Hollywood directors, it was produced by one of my very favorite classic Hollywood directors, it has snappy one-liners, and it has gallons of champagne.  You really really must watch it, as often as you can.

The Wiki:

The Philadelphia Story is a 1940 American romantic comedy film directed by George Cukor, starring Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn, and James Stewart and featuring Ruth Hussey. Based on the Broadway play of the same name by Philip Barry, the film is about a socialite (Hepburn) whose wedding plans are complicated by the simultaneous arrival of her ex-husband (Grant) and a tabloid magazine journalist (Stewart). Written for the screen by Donald Ogden Stewart and an uncredited Waldo Salt, it is considered one of the best examples of a comedy of remarriage, a genre popular in the 1930s and 1940s, in which a couple divorce, flirt with outsiders and then remarry – a useful story-telling ploy at a time when the depiction of extramarital affairs was blocked by the Production Code.

The film was Hepburn’s first big hit following several flops, which had led to her being included on a 1938 list that Manhattan movie theater owner Harry Brandt compiled of actors he considered to be “box office poison.” She acquired the film rights to the play, which she had also starred in, with the help of Howard Hughes, in order to control it as a vehicle for her movie comeback.

The film was nominated for six Academy Awards, winning two: Stewart for Best Actor and Donald Ogden Stewart for Best Adapted Screenplay. It was remade in 1956 as the musical High Society, starring Bing Crosby, Grace Kelly, Frank Sinatra and Louis Armstrong.

The film was produced by Joseph L. Mankiewicz and was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry in 1995.

Gidget and the Gories – Not So Secret Obsession

I remember seeing reruns of this episode of Gidget as a kid and it being one of my favorites.  I loved Goth Gidget when she announced “We’ve gone spooky!” more than I loved the surfing/dancing Gidget (and I loved that Gidget a lot).  It just seemed so out of the blue, so different, and totally fun.  It also turns out that this episode was first aired on my birthday, not my birth year, that would not happen for another four, but on the day I would be born.  In a side note, I do believe this is the first .gif I have ever posted on Waldina.

gories

The Gories was a high school garage band from the television sitcom Gidget.

Gidget goes goth! No, seriously! In the “Gidget’s Career” episode (01/20/1966), Gidget (Sally Field) is trying to get her shy friend Larue (Lynette Winter) out in the world. Gidget forces her to take up an invite to join a little beach guitar jam with Paul (Jimmy Hawkins) and Doug (Murray McLeod) from her guitar class. Paul and Doug get the idea to form a band. They let Larue in, but get cute Gidget to front it, banging a tambourine. As the boys say, though: “Girls as cute as you don’t have to do anything.” The new nameless foursome play an uptempo folk number at the school’s Noon Dance the next day.

After getting asked to play another show, Gidget sees Rick Farmer (Sandy Kenyon) on TV announcing a band contest. She writes in about her band, getting them an on-air audition in 10 days. The band buckles down to brass tacks, changing their Up With People image. Gidget announces in whiteface, heavy mascara, and a black wig, “We’ve gone spooky!”  They change their sound too, bringing on a drummer, Ringo Feinberg (Dennis Joel) and rocking out. But Larue’s guitar playing isn’t up to snuff, so the boys want to dump her, and make Gidget the bearer of bad tidings.

Meanwhile, dad (Don Porter) visits Farmer and finds out that it was the band’s fresh-faced, no-gimmick appeal he liked, Farmer complains it’s all “moaners, wailers and funny jumpies” these days. Dad chortles they have “hoisted themselves by their own guitars,” when it’s finally time for their TV performance. But Farmer likes the new look even better! And they win the contest! But Gidge isn’t on the show or in the band! She demanded they take Larue back or she’d quit. So the guys replaced her (and Larue), and changed the name from Gidget and the Gories to just The Gories. And insert generic valuable lesson about friendship here!

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 Jim Backus

Tomorrow is the 102nd birthday of Jim Backus, everyone’s favorite millionaire shipwreck survivor.  Was I the only one that had the take away thought from “Gilligan’s Island” that money can’t buy everything?  Here he was, stranded on an island with his wife (they apparently brought trunk-loads of cash, jewelry, and clothing for a short afternoon boat ride) and they could not buy their way out of their situation.  I guess I sort of liked that thought.  That, and as Mr. Magoo, it was nice to know that blind people could still drive cars.  The world is a better place because he was in it and still feels the loss that he has left.

jim backus

NAME: Jim Backus
OCCUPATION: Film Actor, Television Actor, Radio Personality, Writer
BIRTH DATE: February 25, 1913
DEATH DATE: July 03, 1989
EDUCATION: Kentucky Military Institute, American Academy of Dramatic Arts
PLACE OF BIRTH: Cleveland, Ohio
PLACE OF DEATH: Los Angeles, California
Full Name: James Gilmore Backus

Best Known For:  Jim Backus was a film and TV actor known for his roles in Rebel Without a Cause and Gilligan’s Island, as well as being the voice of Mr. Magoo.

Actor and author James Gilmore Backus was born on February 25, 1913, in Cleveland, Ohio. For five decades, Jim Backus entertained audiences in a variety of media, starting out in radio and moving on to film and television. Two of his trademark roles were the wealthy and snooty Thurston Howell III on Gilligan’s Island and Mr. Magoo, an optically challenged and bumbling cartoon character. The son of an engineer, he was more interested in golf and acting than in school. Backus worked for a stock theater company during his teens. In one of the company’s productions, he had a small role while future film star Clark Gable had the lead.

Wanting his son to focus on academics, Backus’s father sent him to the Kentucky Military Institute for a time where he met and befriended Victor Mature, another future professional actor. But Backus struggled his way through high school and was able to convince his father to let him skip a traditional college education. Instead he went to New York City to study at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts.

Graduating in 1933, Backus spent two years working in a variety of stage productions and in summer stock before trying his hand at radio. Adept at molding his booming voice into different characters, he was a freelance performer and appeared on numerous radio programs, including soap operas and The Kate Smith Hour. Backus also made his Broadway debut around this time in Hitch Your Wagon, a comedy, in 1937. Later that year, he appeared in the drama Too Many Heroes.

In the 1940s, Backus scored his biggest radio success on The Alan Young Show. He created a stuffy, upper crust character named Hubert Updyke III, who was known for making such quips as “Careful, or I’ll have your mouth washed out with domestic champagne.” By the end of the decade, Backus was beginning his film career. One of his earliest roles was in the football drama Easy Living (1949) with Lucille Ball and old friend Victor Mature.

Also in 1949, Backus was selected to voice one of the characters for a cartoon entitled Ragtime Bear. Little did he know that the character, Quincy Magoo, a nearsighted fellow with a very selective take on reality, would become so hugely popular. Backus spent about three decades as Magoo in his various incarnations from cartoon shorts to television series to a full-length film.

On the small screen, Backus spent three years on the sitcom I Married Joan, which debuted in the fall of 1952. He played Judge Bradley Stevens, husband to Joan Stevens (Joan Davis). Each episode featured a case in front of Bradley, a domestic judge, and its parallels to his domestic life. After the series ended, Backus gave some of his best film performances. He earned praise for his work on the comedy Francis in the Navy (1955) and the teenage drama Rebel Without a Cause (1955) with James Dean. In Rebel Without a Cause, Backus played Dean’s father, a man befuddled by his son’s actions and oppressed by his domineering wife.

Based in part on his earlier character, Hubert Updyke III, Backus again inhabited the persona of a privileged, uptight rich man on Gilligan’s Island. Thurston Howell III was one of seven castaways marooned on an island together after a terrible storm sent their boat crashing onto its shores. In addition to his wife, Mrs. Howell, who his character always called “lovey,” there were the ship’s captain Skipper (Alan Hale Jr.) and his first mate Gilligan (Bob Denver), the professor (Russell Johnson), the movie star Ginger (Tina Louise) and a simple farm girl named Mary Ann (Mary Ann Summers). Created by Sherwood Schwartz, the broad comedy was dismissed by reviewers but adored by many viewers. “The critics assassinated it, but the kids flipped for it,” Backus later said, according to an article in The New York Times. “I’ve been watching the reruns, and confess I’m hooked on it myself.”

While the show was only on network television from 1964 to 1967, Gilligan’s Island has had a healthy life in syndication and can still be seen today. Backus voiced an animated version of Thurston Howell III for the Saturday morning cartoon series, The New Adventures of Gilligan in the mid-1970s. Reprising his famous role, he appeared for the 1978 television movie Rescue from Gilligan’s Island. That same year, Backus received a heartbreaking diagnosis. He was having some trouble with his legs and learned that he had Parkinson’s disease.

Despite this setback, Backus continued acting. He made his final film appearance in 1980’s There Goes the Bride with Tom Smothers and Phil Silvers. On the small screen, he appeared in The Harlem Globetrotters on Gilligan’s Island (1981) and made guest appearances on such shows as Fantasy Island and The Love Boat.

In addition to acting, Backus had authored Rocks on the Roof (1958) on his own and several other works with his wife Henny. Married since 1943, the couple used their life experiences for such personal works as What Are You Doing After the Orgy (1962), which was about their marriage, and Backus Strikes Back (1984), which tackled his struggle with Parkinson’s.

In late June of 1988, Backus was admitted to St. John’s Hospital and Health Center in Santa Monica, California. He died of pneumonia on July 3, 1988. Over the course of his long career, Backus had appeared in roughly 80 films and 500 film and television episodes as Quincy Magoo. And each day, he wins new fans as they watch Gilligan’s Island in syndication.

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Happy Birthday Hubert de Givenchy

Today is the 88th birthday of the fashion designer Hubert de Givenchy.  His continuously classic modern style cannot be copied and his longevity is unmatched.  The world is lucky that he is still in it.

 

NAME: Hubert de Givenchy
OCCUPATION: Fashion Designer
BIRTH DATE: February 21, 1927
DID YOU KNOW?: Hubert de Givenchy designed Audrey Hepburn‘s costumes for several films, including Breakfast at Tiffany’s.
EDUCATION: École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts (Paris)
PLACE OF BIRTH: Beauvais, France
FULL NAME: Hubert James Marcel Taffin de Givenchy
AKA: Count Hubert James Marcel Taffin de Givenchy

BEST KNOWN FOR: French fashion designer Hubert de Givenchy is known for his elegant haute couture designs and professional relationships with clients like Audrey Hepburn.

Hubert de Givenchy Marcel Taffin de Givenchy was born on February 21, 1927, in the city of Beauvais in northern France. His parents, Lucien and Béatrice (née Badin) Taffin de Givenchy, gave him and his brother, Jean-Claude, an aristocratic heritage. After Lucien Taffin de Givenchy died in 1930, Givenchy was raised by his mother and his maternal grandmother.

In 1944, Hubert de Givenchy moved to Paris, where he studied art at the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts. Though he briefly considered a career in law, he decided to enter the world of fashion and, at the age of 17, began an apprenticeship with designer Jacques Fath. After his time with Fath, Givenchy worked for several famous French couture houses in the 1940s: Lucien Lelong, Robert Piquet and Elsa Schiaparelli.

Givenchy opened his own design house in 1952. His debut collection was a hit. It featured separates such as long skirts and tailored blouses, including the “Bettina blouse,” named after model Bettina Graziani. In his following collections, he also designed elegant evening gowns, feminine hats and tailored suits, and the Givenchy name became synonymous with Parisian chic.

In 1953, Givenchy met Spanish designer Cristóbal Balenciaga, whom he greatly admired. In 1957, the two designers teamed up to introduce a new silhouette called the “sack,” a loose form without any waistline.

By the 1960s, Givenchy, setting new trends and embracing certain aspects of youth culture, had begun to favor shorter hemlines and straighter silhouettes in his designs.

Givenchy designed for many celebrity clients, but his best-known client (who became a close personal friend) was Audrey Hepburn. Givenchy and Hepburn met in 1953, when she was just a rising star; he designed her costumes for Sabrina (1954) and helped to define her classic, gamine style. Over the following decade, he designed her costumes for Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961), Charade (1963), Paris When It Sizzles (1964) and How to Steal a Million (1966). The Givenchy brand also released a fragrance inspired by Hepburn called L’Interdit.

Among the other well-known women of style dressed by Givenchy were U.S. first lady Jacqueline Kennedy, who wore a Givenchy gown during an official visit to Paris in 1961; Princess Grace of Monaco; Wallis Simpson, Duchess of Windsor; and socialite Babe Paley.

After selling his business to the luxury conglomerate Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessey in 1988, Givenchy designed for seven more years, retiring and presenting his final collection in 1995. He was succeeded as head designer by enfant terrible John Galliano.

Designers to later serve as head designer at Givenchy include Alexander McQueen and Riccardo Tisci.

Givenchy lives in retirement at a country estate called Le Jonchet in the French countryside. His work has been shown in retrospective exhibitions at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York and the Musée Galliera in Paris, and he received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Council of Fashion Designers of America in 1996.

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Happy Birthday Gloria Vanderbilt

Today is the 91st birthday of Gloria Vanderbilt.  Heiress, fashion designer, artist, jet setter, and Anderson Cooper’s mother.  Her life is huge, we can all take a couple notes from her.  The world is very lucky to still have her in it.

 

NAME: Gloria Morgan Vanderbilt-Cooper
OCCUPATION: Artist, Fashion Designer, Writer
BIRTH DATE: February 20, 1924
PLACE OF BIRTH: NY, New York

BEST KNOWN FOR: Known for her fashion design and tumultuous personal life, actress, writer and artist Gloria Vanderbilt became an iconic figure in American popular culture during the 20th century.

Gloria Laura Vanderbilt (born February 20, 1924) is an American artist, author, actress, heiress, and socialite most noted as an early developer of designer blue jeans. She is a member of the prominent Vanderbilt family of New York and mother of CNN’s Anderson Cooper.

At 17 years old, Vanderbilt went to Hollywood where she married agent Pasquale (“Pat”) DiCicco in 1941; they divorced in 1945.

Her second marriage, to conductor Leopold Stokowski in April 1945, produced two sons, Leopold Stanislaus “Stan” Stokowski, born August 22, 1950 and Christopher Stokowski, born January 31, 1952; they divorced in October 1955.

On August 28, 1956, she married director Sidney Lumet; they divorced in August 1963.
She married her fourth husband, author Wyatt Emory Cooper on December 24, 1963. They had two sons: Carter Vanderbilt Cooper (born January 27, 1965 – July 22, 1988) and CNN news anchor Anderson Cooper (born June 3, 1967). Wyatt Cooper died in 1978 during open heart surgery in New York City. Carter Cooper committed suicide at the age of 23 by jumping from the family’s 14th floor apartment as his mother tried in vain to stop him. Vanderbilt believed that it was caused by a psychotic episode induced by an allergy to the anti-asthma medical prescription drug Proventil.

She has three grandchildren by her eldest son, Stan: Aurora, born in March 1983 and Abra, born in February 1985, both to author Ivy Strick, and Myles, born in 1998 to artist Emily Goldstein.

Gloria is very close friends with comedienne Kathy Griffin, and while appearing as a guest on her son Anderson Cooper’s talk show, Anderson on September 19, 2011, referred to Kathy as her “fantasy daughter.” Kathy refers to Gloria as “Glo”, as did her third husband, Lumet.

During the 1970s, she ventured into the fashion business, first with Glentex, licensing her name for a line of scarves. In 1976, Indian designer Mohan Murjani’s Murjani Corporation, proposed launching a line of designer jeans carrying Vanderbilt’s name embossed in script on the back pocket, as well as her swan logo. Her jeans were more tightly fitted than the other jeans of that time. The logo eventually appeared on dresses and perfumes as well. Along with her jeans, Vanderbilt also launched a line of blouses, sheets, shoes, leather goods, liqueurs, and accessories.

Vanderbilt is the author of four memoirs and three novels, and is a regular contributor to The New York Times, Vanity Fair, and Elle.

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