Happy Birthday Marie Dressler

This week is the 146th birthday of Marie Dressler, an amazing character actress.  She is one of those actors that play the mother or the wealthy aunt or the uptight grandmother that is really there to create conflict and contrast between the leading roles, but I end up watching her.  Later in her film career, they would give her these lines, little throw away quips that were so hilarious and I hope she really loved being able to sneak in zingers while the rest of the characters were too caught up in love and so forth to notice.  The world is a better place because she was in it and still feels the loss since she has left.

NAME: Marie Dressler
OCCUPATION: Film Actress, Theater Actress, Comedian
BIRTHDATE: November 09, 1868
DEATH DATE: July 28, 1934
PLACE OF BIRTH: Cobourg, Canada
PLACE OF DEATH: Santa Barbara, California
Originally: Leila Marie Koerber

Best Known For:  Marie Dressler is best known for her acting in the theater and film, winning an Oscar.

Dressler had appeared in two shorts as herself, but her first role in a feature film came in 1914, at the age of 44.  After Mack Sennett became the owner of his namesake motion picture studio, he convinced Dressler to star in his 1914 silent film Tillie’s Punctured Romance. The film was to be the first full-length, six-reel motion picture comedy.  According to Sennett, a prospective budget of $200,000 meant that he needed “a star whose name and face meant something to every possible theatre-goer in the United States and the British Empire.”  The movie was based on Dressler’s hit Tillie’s Nightmare, a choice credited either to Dressler or to a Keystone studio employee.  Dressler herself claims to have cast Charles Chaplin in the movie as her leading man, and was “proud to have had a part in giving him his first big chance.”  Instead of his recently invented Tramp character, Chaplin played a villainous rogue. Silent film comedienne Mabel Normand also starred in the movie. Tillie’s Punctured Romance was a hit with audiences and Dressler appeared in two Tillie sequels and other comedies until 1918, when she returned to vaudeville.

In 1919, during the Actors’ Equity strike in New York City, the Chorus Equity Association was formed and voted Dressler its first president. Dressler was blacklisted by the theater production companies due to her strong stance. Dressler found it difficult to find work during the 1920s. She left New York for Hollywood in search of work in films.

In 1927, Frances Marion, an MGM screenwriter, came to Dressler’s rescue. Dressler had shown great kindness to Marion during the filming of Tillie Wakes Up in 1917, and in return, Marion used her influence with MGM’s production chief Irving Thalberg to return Dressler to the screen.  Her first MGM feature was The Callahans and the Murphys (1927), a rowdy silent comedy co-starring Dressler (as Ma Callahan) with another former Mack Sennett comedienne, Polly Moran, written by Marion.

The film was initially a success, but the portrayal of Irish characters caused a protest in the Irish World newspaper, protests by the American Irish Vigilance Committee, and pickets outside the film’s New York theatre. The film was first cut by MGM in an attempt to appease the Irish community, then eventually pulled from release after Cardinal Dougherty of the diocese of Philadelphia called MGM president Nicholas Schenck.  It was not shown again, and the negative and prints may have been destroyed. While the film brought her to Hollywood, it did not establish Dressler’s career. Her next appearance was a minor part in the First National film Breakfast at Sunrise. She appeared again with Moran in Bringing Up Father, another film written by Marion, and also appeared in an early color film, The Joy Girl. Dressler returned to MGM in 1928’s The Patsy in a winning portrayal, playing the fluttery mother to star Marion Davies and Jane Winton.

Hollywood was converting from silent films, but “talkies” presented no problems for Dressler, whose rumbling voice could handle both sympathetic scenes and snappy comebacks (she’s the wisecracking stage actress in Chasing Rainbows and the dubious matron in Rudy Vallee’s Vagabond Lover). Early in 1930, Dressler joined Edward Everett Horton’s theater troupe in L.A. to play a princess in Ferenc Molnár’s The Swan. But after one week, she quit the troupe. She proceeded to leave Horton flat, much to his indignation.

Frances Marion persuaded Thalberg to give Dressler the role of Marthy, the old harridan who welcomes Greta Garbo home after the search for her father, in the 1930 film Anna Christie. Garbo and the critics were impressed by Dressler’s acting ability, and so was MGM, which quickly signed her to a $500-per-week contract.

A robust, full-bodied woman of very plain features, Dressler went on to act in comic films which were very popular with the movie-going public and an equally lucrative investment for MGM. Although past sixty years of age, she quickly became Hollywood’s number one box-office attraction, and stayed on top until her death at age 65. In addition to her comedic genius and her natural elegance, Dressler demonstrated her considerable talents by taking on serious roles. For her starring portrayal in Min and Bill, with Wallace Beery, she won the 1930–31 Academy Award for Best Actress (the eligibility years were staggered at that time). Dressler was nominated again for Best Actress for her 1932 starring role in Emma. With that film, Dressler demonstrated her profound generosity to other performers. Dressler personally insisted that her studio bosses cast a friend of hers, a largely unknown young actor named Richard Cromwell, in the lead opposite her. This break helped launch his career.

Dressler followed these successes with more hits in 1933, including the comedy Dinner at Eight, in which she played an aging but vivacious former stage actress. Dressler had a memorable bit with Jean Harlow in the film:

Harlow: Do you know that the guy said that machinery is going to take the place of every profession?
Dressler: Oh my dear, that’s something you need never worry about.

Following the release of that film, Dressler appeared on the cover of Time magazine, in its August 7, 1933, issue. MGM held a huge birthday party for Dressler in 1933, broadcast live via radio. Her newly regenerated career came to an abrupt end when she was diagnosed with terminal cancer in 1934. MGM head Louis B. Mayer learned of Dressler’s illness from her doctor and asked that she not be told. To keep her home, he ordered her not to travel on her vacation because he wanted to put her in a new film. Dressler was furious but complied.

Dressler appeared in more than forty films, and achieved her greatest successes in talking pictures made during the last years of her life. Always seeing herself as physically unattractive, she wrote an autobiography titled The Life Story of an Ugly Duckling.

On Saturday July 28, 1934, Dressler died of cancer at the age of 65 in Santa Barbara, California. After a private funeral held at The Wee Kirk o’ the Heather chapel, Dressler was interred in a crypt in the Great Mausoleum in the Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Glendale in Glendale, California.

Dressler left an estate worth $310,000, the bulk left to her sister Bonita.  Dressler left her 1931 automobile and $35,000 in her will to her maid of twenty years, Mamie Cox, and $15,000 to Cox’s husband Jerry, who had served as Dressler’s butler for four years.  The two used the funds to open the Cocoanut Grove night club in Savannah, Georgia in 1936, named after the night club in Los Angeles.

Dressler’s birth home in Cobourg, Ontario is known as the “Marie Dressler House” and is open to the public. The home was converted to a restaurant in 1937 and operated as a restaurant until 1989, when it was damaged by fire. It was restored but did not open again as a restaurant. It was the office of the Cobourg Chamber of Commerce until its conversion to its current use as a museum about Dressler and as a visitor information office for Cobourg. Each year, the Marie Dressler Foundation Vintage Film Festival is held, with screenings in Cobourg and in Port Hope, Ontario.

For her contribution to the motion picture industry, Marie Dressler has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1731 Vine Street, added in 1960.

Canada Post, as part of its “Canada in Hollywood” series, issued a postage stamp on June 30, 2008 to honour Marie Dressler.

Asian Elephant: New Endangered Animal for 2012

All any of us should ever want or hope for from our lives is to leave the world better than how we found it.  That should be everyone’s ultimate goal.  Protecting creatures that cannot protect themselves is part of making a better world.

Inhabiting the jungle in southern Asia, these elephants are endangered due to habitat destruction and poaching for their desired tusk. Besides habitat loss and poaching, fencing along the India-Bangladesh border has become a major impediment to the free movement of elephants.

The major threat facing the Asian elephant today is habitat loss resulting from deforestation.[31][32] Other causes include poaching for ivory, isolation of elephant populations and human-elephant conflict.

Development such as border fencing along the India-Bangladesh border has become a major impediment to the free movement of elephants.

How you can help

  • Don’t buy ivory products. Illegal trade in elephant ivory is a continuing problem, posing one of the greatest threats to elephants today.
  • Adopt an elephantWWF-US & International | WWF-UK | WWF-Canada
  • Spread the word! Click on the button to share this information with others via email or your favorite social networking service.

Dian Fossey – Style Icon

NAME: Dian Fossey
OCCUPATION: Anthropologist, Zoologist
BIRTH DATE: January 16, 1932
DEATH DATE: December 26, 1985
EDUCATION: Cambridge University
PLACE OF BIRTH: San Francisco, California
PLACE OF DEATH: Volcanoes National park, Rwanda

BEST KNOWN FOR: Zoologist Dian Fossey was one of the foremost primate researchers in the world who for 18 years studied of a group of gorillas in Rwanda.

Primatologist and naturalist. Born on January 16, 1932, in San Francisco, California. Dian Fossey enriched our understanding of gorillas through her intense study of these animals from the 1960s to 1980s. She was interested in animals from childhood, but changed college courses from pre-veterinary studies to occupational therapy.

Dian Fossey moved to Louisville, Kentucky, to be director of the Kosair Crippled Children’s Hospital occupational therapy department in 1955. But she soon became restless and dreamed of traveling to Africa. On her first trip to Africa in 1963, Fossey met palaeontologists Mary and Louis Leakey, who encouraged her dream to live and work with mountain gorillas.

In 1966, Dian Fossey caught up with Louis Leakey at a lecture in Louisville, and he invited her to study the mountain gorillas in Africa. She accepted his offer and lived among the mountain gorillas in the Democratic Republic of Congo until civil war forced her to escape to Rwanda.

Dian Fossey established the Karisoke Research Foundation in 1967, alternating her time between her fieldwork there and obtaining a Ph.D. based on her research at Cambridge University. She earned her degree in 1976 and later accepted a visiting associate professorship at Cornell University. In 1983, her book, Gorillas in the Mist, was published and became a best seller. A film with the same name was also released in 1988 starring Sigourney Weaver as Fossey.

Considered the world’s leading authority on the physiology and behavior of mountain gorillas, Dian Fossey fought hard to protect these “gentle giants” from environmental and human hazards. She saw these animals as dignified, highly social creatures with individual personalities and strong family relationships. Her active conservationist stand to save these animals from game wardens, zoo poachers, and government officials who wanted to convert gorilla habitats to farmland caused her to fight for the gorillas not only via the media, but also by destroying poachers’ dogs and traps. On December 26, 1985, Fossey was found hacked to death, presumably by poachers, in her Rwandan forest camp. No assailant has ever been found or prosecuted in her murder.

Dian Fossey strongly opposed tourism, as gorillas are very susceptible to diseases by humans like the flu for which they have no immunity. Dian Fossey reported several cases in which gorillas died because of diseases spread by tourists. She also viewed tourism as an interference into their natural wild behavior. Fossey also criticized tourist programs, often paid for by international conservation organizations, for interfering with both her research and the peace of the mountain gorillas’ habitat.

She floats like a swan: grace on the water.

Twenty-Four Lies and One Truth. You Figure It Out.

1. When my family lived in Mexico in the early 1980’s, my mother hit and killed an old man with her car and just rolled his body into a ditch and covered him with a tree branch. We never heard a thing about it.

2. I have a 19 year old daughter, the product of a one-night-stand the summer after my senior year in high school. She tracked me down six months ago when she needed to know my medical history because she was diagnosed with Leukemia.

3. I tell everyone that my family came to this country in the 1920’s, but they really have been here since the early 1800’s and owned a fleet of ships used for transporting slaves from Africa to the US.

4. I speak Russian fluently because my father would not talk on the phone in English for fear of it being tapped.

5. I have only one testicle.

6. I didn’t learn how to tie my shoes until I was 14 years old due to a broken arm and a lack of detailed use of my left index finger and thumb.

7. I secretly wish I would have been more serious about it when I was a magician’s assistant.

8. I have a scrapbook full of lost pet fliers that I have taken off of telephone poles all over the city.

9. I use Facebook to get laid.

10. I am a mindless android, I have no opinions.

11. I have had three nose jobs and I am still not satisfied.

12. When I was 12 years old, my mother requested that we call her by her first name in public so no one would know she was old enough to be our mother.

13. Since my parents divorced when I was 12, I have habitually shoplifted candy bars from small convenience stores. I almost never eat it unless I am really hungry.

14. At different times and for different reasons, I have been temporarily blind and temporarily deaf.

15. I have spent considerable money and traveled considerable distances to see every Modanna concert.

16. If I do not go to Disney World at least once every two years, I feel a bit lost.

17. I am distantly related to one US President and one serial murderer.

18. I have a natural inclination to science. It was my favorite subject in school and I considered getting a biology degree in college.

19. My family was one of the last to obtain an escape pod when our dying planet burst into flames.

20. Jesus is my savior.

21. In my mid 20’s, I had two serious boyfriends at the same time that did not know of each other.

22. In junior high and high school, I was on the US Junior Olympics Cross Country Ski Team. The highest I ever placed is Silver in 1986.

23. The name I had growing up was Christopher Scott Martin, I changed it when I was 18.

24. My babysitter showed my sister and me “Jaws” when we were kids and ever since then, I have been deathly afraid of all bodies of water.

25. I have waited in line for every Harry Potter book to be released and read them as fast as I could because I was afraid I would hear what happened from someone else on the Harry Potter LISTSERVE I subscribe to.