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.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Happy Birthday James Michener

Every once in a while, I wonder if anyone is reading a Michener novel.  I mean, someone must, right?  His books are of such sweeping epic length, I worry that there is no one left with that sort of attention span.  They are important American literature for their impact on they reading habits of the every day citizen.  The world is a better place because he was in it and still feels the loss that he has left.

james michener 1NAME: James Michener
OCCUPATION: Author
BIRTH DATE: c. February 03, 1907
DEATH DATE: October 16, 1997
PLACE OF BIRTH: New York City, New York
PLACE OF DEATH: Austin, Texas

BEST KNOWN FOR: James Michener was an American novelist and story-story writer who penned Tales of the South Pacific, which one a Pulitzer Prize in 1947.

James Albert Michener (February 3, 1907 – October 16, 1997) was an American author of more than 40 titles, the majority of which were sweeping sagas, covering the lives of many generations in particular geographic locales and incorporating historical facts into the stories. Michener was known for the meticulous research behind his work.

Michener’s major books include Tales of the South Pacific (for which he won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1948), Hawaii, The Drifters, Centennial, The Source, The Fires of Spring, Chesapeake, Caribbean, Caravans, Alaska, Texas, and Poland. His nonfiction works include the 1968 Iberia about his travels in Spain and Portugal, his 1992 memoir The World Is My Home, and Sports in America. Return to Paradise combines fictional short stories with Michener’s factual descriptions of the Pacific areas where they take place.

Michener gave away a great deal of the money he earned. Over the years, Mari Yoriko Sabusawa Michener played a major role in directing donations by her husband, totaling more than $100 million. Among the beneficiaries were the University of Texas, the Iowa Writers Workshop and Swarthmore College (stated by a New York Times’ notice about her death).

In 1989, Michener donated the royalty earnings from the Canadian edition of his novel Journey, published in Canada by McClelland & Stewart, to create the Journey Prize, an annual Canadian literary prize worth $10,000 (Cdn) that is awarded for the year’s best short story published by an emerging Canadian writer.

Author of books:
Tales of the South Pacific (1947, novel)
The Fires of Spring (1949, memoir)
Hawaii (1959, novel)
The Source (1965, novel)
Iberia: Spanish Travels and Reflections (1968, travelogue)
The Drifters (1971, novel)
Centennial (1974, novel)
Chesapeake (1978, novel)
The Covenant (1980, novel)
Space (1982, novel)
Texas (1985, novel)
The World Is My Home (1992, memoir)
A Century of Sonnets (1997)

 

Happy Birthday Tallulah Bankhead

Today is the 113th birthday of Tallulah Bankhead.  She was a hard-drinking, chain-smoking, foul-mouthed broad who’s brilliance may very well have been in being Tallulah Bankhead.  She is what the world needed:  a smart, quick-witted shit-kicker that made us laugh uncomfortably at her brave observations and truths.  The world is a better place because she was in it and still feels the loss that she has left.

 

NAME: Tallulah Brockman Bankhead
OCCUPATION: Film Actress, Theater Actress
BIRTH DATE: January 31, 1902
DEATH DATE: December 12, 1968
PLACE OF BIRTH: Hunstville, Alabama
PLACE OF DEATH: New York City, New York

BEST KNOWN FOR: Tullulah Bankhead was an American stage and film actress, popular from the 1920s through the 1950s.

Born to a prestigious family (her father became a prominent congressman), she made her Broadway debut in 1918 and achieved fame on the London stage in The Dancer (1923). Her vivid presence and throaty voice contributed to her singular performances in the hit plays The Little Foxes (1939), The Skin of Our Teeth (1942), and Private Lives (1946). She made films such as A Woman’s Law (1928) and Alfred Hitchcock’s Lifeboat (1944) but remained primarily a stage performer. Her final stage appearance was in The Milk Train Doesn’t Stop Here Anymore (1964).

Personal Quotes:

“Say anything about me, darling, as long as it isn’t boring.”

“It’s the good girls that keep diaries. Bad girls never have the time.”

Tallulah Bankhead died in St. Luke’s Hospital in New York City of double pneumonia, complicated by emphysema and malnutrition, at 7:45 A.M. on December 12, 1968, aged 66. She was buried in Saint Paul’s Churchyard, Chestertown, Maryland. Her last coherent words reportedly were “Codeine… bourbon.”

For her contribution to the motion picture industry, Tallulah Bankhead has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6141 Hollywood Blvd.

Rock star Suzi Quatro portrayed Bankhead in a musical named Tallulah Who? in 1991. The musical was based on a book by Willie Rushton. Quatro co-wrote the music with Shirlie Roden. The show ran from 14 February to 9 March at The Queen’s Theatre, Hornchurch, UK and received favourable reviews.

Valerie Harper starred as Bankhead in Looped, which originated at The Pasadena Playhouse. It opened on Broadway on March 14, 2010 at the Lyceum Theatre, and closed on April 11, 2010.

Other actresses to portray Bankhead include Eugenia Rawls (in her one-woman stage show “Tallulah, A Memory”), Kathleen Turner (in Sandra Ryan Heyward’s one-woman touring show “Tallulah” in the late 1990s), Carrie Nye (on television in The Scarlett O’Hara War) and Helen Gallagher in an off-Broadway musical, Tallulah!

Enhanced by Zemanta

The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries – Not So Secret Obsession

I am especially obsessed about The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries, all three seasons are on Netflix.  Pamela Sue Martin, Shaun Cassidy and Parker Stevenson play the main characters and are so quintessentially 70s, it is brilliant.  Watch a couple episodes for the amazing guest stars alone.  Between IMDB and Wiki, I gather that I am not the only one obsessed, those pages are extensive.  Do yourself a favor and head back to the 70s and solve a couple mysteries, you won’t regret it.

The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries (retitled The Hardy Boys Mysteries for season three) is a television series which aired for three seasons on ABC. The series starred Parker Stevenson and Shaun Cassidy as amateur sleuth brothers Frank and Joe Hardy, respectively, and Pamela Sue Martin (later Janet Louise Johnson) as detective Nancy Drew.

The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries was unusual in that it often dealt with the characters individually, in an almost anthological style. That is, some episodes featured only the Hardy Boys and others only Nancy Drew.

The Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew were both successful book publishing franchises, owned by the Stratemeyer Syndicate, a publishing group which owned many successful children’s book lines.

The Hardy Boys, Frank and Joe, are brother amateur detectives. The two boys live in the fictional city of Bayport, Massachusetts (a change from the book series, which sets Bayport in the state of New York) with their famous father, Fenton Hardy, a private detective who spent “twenty years” with the New York Police Department.

In addition to the Hardy Boys, their stories feature two other characters with some regularity: Aunt Gertrude and a platonic female friend of the boys, Callie Shaw, who also does part-time work for their father. The only other character who played a major part of the Hardy Boys books, Chet Morton, appeared only briefly in the series.

Nancy Drew is the amateur sleuth — she prefers the term “part time investigator” — daughter of attorney Carson Drew. She lives with her father, Carson, in the fictional town of River Heights, New Jersey (another change from the book series, which sets River Heights outside of Chicago).

In addition to Nancy Drew and her father, her stories feature two other characters with some regularity: her close friend Georgia (George) Fayne and Ned Nickerson. Another prominent character from the Nancy Drew books, Bess Marvin, made only two appearances in two-part episodes. In the novels on which the series was based, Nickerson is explicitly identified as Nancy’s boyfriend. In the television series, their romance is more ambiguous. In the first season, Nickerson is a law student who does part-time work for Carson Drew. In the second season, Nickerson is re-introduced, with no reference to his earlier appearances, in a scene, in which he is apparently introduced to Nancy Drew for the first time, as a young hotshot lawyer from the city District Attorney’s office.

The TV show marked the first time that the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew met and worked together as they had never done so in the context of the books at that time (up to that point). In the first episode of the second season (“The Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew Meet Dracula”) they meet in a hotel room in Europe. The boys, tracking their father, who was working on a case with Nancy Drew. Though the relationship between Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys is mostly platonic, there is a heavily-implied romance between Nancy Drew and Frank Hardy. In one episode (“Mystery of the Hollywood Phantom”) they kiss briefly.

The show was filmed on the studio lot on parts of Colonial Street, the backlot street which was later used in the Tom Hanks film The Burbs and was used as Wisteria Lane in the hit TV series Desperate Housewives.

A number of well known actors appeared in episodes of The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries, either as celebrity guest stars or before they achieved subsequent fame.

Celebrities who appeared in episodes included Ricky Nelson (The Flickering Torch Mystery); Bob Crane (A Haunting We Will Go); Lorne Greene, Bernie Taupin, Trini Lopez and Paul Williams (The Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew Meet Dracula, where Williams sang the song “Hell of It”, which originally appeared on his 1974 starring film Phantom of the Paradise); Jaclyn Smith, Robert Wagner, Casey Kasem and Dennis Weaver (Mystery of the Hollywood Phantom); Tony Dow (The Creatures Who Came on Sunday); Maureen McCormick (Nancy Drew’s Love Match); William Campbell and Missy Gold (Will The Real Santa …?); Lloyd Bochner and Dorothy Malone (The House on Possessed Hill); Diana Muldaur (Sole Survivor); Ray Milland and Howard Duff (Voodoo Doll); Vic Damone, Fabian and Troy Donahue (Mystery on the Avalanche Express); Jack Jones (Death Surf); Pernell Roberts and Joseph Cotten (Arson and Old Lace); Kevin Tighe”Last Kiss of Summer” Dana Andrews and Patrick Macnee (Assault on the Tower); John Colicos (Search for Atlantis); June Lockhart and Robert Loggia (Dangerous Waters); and Robert Karnes, who guest starred as a sheriff in four episodes: Mystery of the Fallen Angels, A Haunting We Will Go, The Mystery of the Diamond Triangle, and The Mystery of Pirate’s Cove (all 1977).

Famous actors who appeared in the series earlier in their career included Jamie Lee Curtis, Robert Englund and A Martinez (The Mystery of the Fallen Angels); Rosalind Chao (The Mystery of the Jade Kwan Yin); Mark Harmon and Martin Kove (The Mystery of the Solid Gold Kicker); Anne Lockhart (The Mystery of the African Safari and The Last Kiss of Summer); Rick Springfield (Will The Real Santa …?); Nicholas Hammond and John Karlen (The Lady on Thursday at Ten); Melanie Griffith (The House on Possessed Hill); Kim Cattrall and Linda Dano (Voodoo Doll); Valerie Bertinelli, Stepfanie Kramer and Kim Lankford (Campus Terror); and Ana Alicia (Life on the Line).

Bernie Taupin, the composer and musical partner of Elton John, appeared in the two-part episode The Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew Meet Dracula, as a young British musician.

Darleen Carr, who guest starred in the episode Search for Atlantis, is the sister of Charmian Carr, who played Liesl von Trapp in the Robert Wise film adaptation of The Sound of Music.

Producer Glen A. Larson also produced the science fiction series Battlestar Galactica, which aired in 1978-’79 and 1980. A number of actors who appeared in The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries were also either cast members or guest stars of that series, including Lorne Greene, Maren Jensen, Anne Lockhart, Rick Springfield, Ana Alicia, Patrick Macnee and John Colicos.

Night of the Comet – Not So Secret Obsession

I love everything about this movie.  It had zombies before all you bacon-loving clown-fearing hipsters were all about them.  The fashion, the music, the dialog, all perfection, all 80s.  I have even included the entire film at the bottom of this post.  You should at least watch the first 15 minutes.  I love the poster for Red Dust on the inside of the backstage door.  First 15 minuted, I promise.  You’ll want to stay for the dancing sequence in an abandoned shopping mall, it is one of the best music montages ever.

Directed by: Thom Eberhardt

Produced by: Andrew Lane, Wayne Crawford

Written by: Thom EberhardtRelease date: November 16, 1984

Night of the Comet is a 1984 film directed by Thom Eberhardt and starring Catherine Mary Stewart, Robert Beltran, and Kelli Maroney. It has elements of such diverse genres as science fiction, horror, zombie apocalypse, comedy, and romance. The film was voted number 10 in Bloody Disgusting’s Top 10 Doomsday Horror Films in 2009.

The Earth is passing through the tail of a rogue comet, an event which has not occurred in 65 million years, the last time coinciding with the extinction event that wiped out the dinosaurs. On the night of the comet’s passage, large crowds gather to watch and celebrate the event.

18 year old Regina “Reggie” Belmont (Catherine Mary Stewart) is an employee at a movie theater in southern California. Annoyed that her #6 high score on the arcade game Tempest was beaten by someone with the initials “DMK“, she decides to have sex with her boyfriend, the theater projectionist, in the steel-lined projection booth. Meanwhile, Reggie’s 16 year old sister Samantha “Sam” (Kelli Maroney) argues with their stepmother, and she gets punched in the face.

The next morning, a reddish haze covers everything. There is also not one sign of life, only small piles of red dust and empty clothes. Reggie and her boyfriend wake up, unaware that anything strange has happened. Her boyfriend steps outside behind the theater and is immediately killed by a zombie. When Reggie comes looking for her boyfriend, she finds the zombie eating him. The zombie tries to attack, but she escapes. Finding herself in an empty world, Reggie goes home to find her sister. Sam had spent the night in a metal yard shed after the fight and is also alright.

After figuring out what has happened, they hear a radio disc jockey and race to the station, only to find it is automated and just a recording. They do find another survivor there, Hector Gomez (Robert Beltran), who spent the night in the back of his steel semi truck. When Sam interrupts the recorded show and makes an announcement, the broadcast is heard by government researchers in an underground think tank. They call the station, telling the survivors that a rescue team is on the way. The scientists note that the zombies, though less exposed to the comet, will soon disintegrate into dust themselves. Reggie tells Hector that, as military brats, she and Sam were taught how to use firearms by their father. Hector then leaves to see if any of his family survived, while Reggie and Sam go foraging at a local mall. After a surprise firefight with some zombie ex-stock boys, the girls are taken prisoner but are saved by the rescue team from the think tank.
Reggie is immediately taken back to their base. Audrey White (Mary Woronov), a dying, disillusioned scientist, offers to remain behind with Sam to wait for Hector. Another scientist who stays with them believes Sam has been exposed and should be executed. However, Audrey realizes that Sam is actually healthy. After purportedly euthanizing Sam, she then kills the other scientist. When Hector returns, Audrey provides enough information for him and Sam to try to rescue Reggie. Audrey then gives herself a lethal injection.

The researchers had suspected and prepared for the comet’s effects, but inadvertently left their ventilation system open during the comet’s passage allowing the comet’s deadly dust to permeate their base. Meanwhile, Reggie has become suspicious, escapes, and discovers that the dying scientists have hunted down healthy survivors and rendered them brain-dead, so they can harvest their untainted blood to look for a cure.
Hector and Sam find Reggie, along with a young boy and a young girl Reggie has rescued. Some of the researchers are killed in the escape, while the rest presumably perish from the comet’s after-effects.

Eventually, rain washes away the red dust and the world is left in a pristine condition. The group becomes a conventional family unit, except for Sam who feels left out. When she ignores Reggie’s warning and crosses a deserted street against the still-operating signal light, she is almost run over by a sports car driven by Danny Mason Keener, a teenager her own age. After apologizing, he invites her to go for a ride. As they drive off, the car is shown sporting the initials “DMK” on the vanity plate.

Happy Birthday Tippi Hedren

Today is the 85th birthday of Tippi Hendren.  I have said it before, that choosing your favorite Hitchcock blonde is impossible and it’s true.  They all have their qualities that make them special.  Her Hitchcock blonde possessed darker secrets that hinted at a past.  Her continued animal activism has helped create sanctuaries for endangered and at risk animals for decades.  The world is a better place because she is in it.NAME: Tippi Hedren
OCCUPATION: Animal Rights Activist, Film Actress, Television Actress
BIRTH DATE: January 19, 1930
PLACE OF BIRTH: New Ulm, Michigan
ORIGINALLY: Nathalie Hedren

BEST KNOWN FOR: Actress Tippi Hedren was discovered by Alfred Hitchcock, who cast her in her two most notable films The Birds (1963) and Marnie (1964).

Nathalie Kay “Tippi” Hedren (born January 19, 1930) is an American actress and former fashion model. She is primarily known for her roles in two Alfred Hitchcock films, The Birds and Marnie (in which she played the title role), and her extensive efforts in animal rescue at Shambala Preserve, an 80-acre (320,000 m2) wildlife habitat which she founded in 1983.

Hedren is the mother of actress Melanie Griffith, and they share credits on several productions, notably Pacific Heights (1990).

A Louis Vuitton ad campaign in 2006 paid tribute to Hedren and Hitchcock with a modern-day interpretation of the deserted railway station opening sequence of Marnie. Her 1963 publicity picture from The Birds was the cover for Jean-Pierre Dufreigne’s book Hitchcock Style (2004). In interviews, Naomi Watts has stated that her character interpretation in Mulholland Drive (2001) was influenced by the look and performances of Hedren and Kim Novak in Hitchcock films. Watts and Hedren later acted in I Heart Huckabees (2004) but didn’t share any scenes together onscreen. Off-screen, the film’s director David O. Russell introduced them both, and Watts has said about Hedren, “I was pretty fascinated by her then because people have often said that we’re alike.” Watts was once expected to star in a remake of The Birds (1963) and has dressed up as Hedren’s title character from Marnie for a photo shoot for March 2008 issue of Vanity Fair magazine. In the same issue, Jodie Foster dressed up as Hedren’s character, Melanie Daniels from The Birds (1963).

In another issue of Vanity Fair, the magazine referred to January Jones‘s character in Mad Men as “Tippi Hedren’s soul sister from Marnie”. The New York Times television critic earlier had echoed the same sentiment in his review of Mad Men. January Jones said that she “takes it a compliment of sorts” when compared to Grace Kelly and Hedren. Actress Tea Leoni said that her character in the film Manure (2009) is made up to look like Hedren.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Happy Birthday John Dos Passos

Today is the 119th birthday of the author John Dos Passos.  I got to know his work through Hemingway and Fitzgerald.  His membership in the Lost Generation meant his boos were required reading for me.   As he aged, he retreated from his previous thoughts and beliefs and became much more politically conservative.  The world is a better place because he was in it and still feels the loss that he has left.

NAME: John Roderigo Dos Passos
BORN: January 14, 1896
BIRTHPLACE: Chicago, Illinois
DIED: September 28, 1970
PLACE OF DEATH: Baltimore, Maryland

John Dos Passos, American writer, one of the major novelists of the post-World War I “lost generation,” whose reputation as a social historian and as a radical critic of the quality of American life rests primarily on his trilogy U.S.A.

The son of a wealthy lawyer of Portuguese descent, Dos Passos graduated from Harvard University (1916) and volunteered as an ambulance driver in World War I. His early works were basically portraits of the artist recoiling from the shock of his encounter with a brutal world. Among these was the bitter antiwar novel Three Soldiers (1921).

Extensive travel in Spain and other countries while working as a newspaper correspondent in the postwar years enlarged his sense of history, sharpened his social perception, and confirmed his radical sympathies. Gradually, his early subjectivism was subordinated to a larger and tougher objective realism. His novel Manhattan Transfer (1925) is a rapid-transit rider’s view of the metropolis. The narrative shuttles back and forth between the lives of more than a dozen characters in nervous, jerky, impressionistic flashes.

The execution of the Anarchists Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti in 1927 profoundly affected Dos Passos, who had participated in the losing battle to win their pardon. The crisis crystallized his image of the United States as “two nations”—one of the rich and privileged and one of the poor and powerless. U.S.A. is the portrait of these two nations. It consists of The 42nd Parallel (1930), covering the period from 1900 up to the war; 1919 (1932), dealing with the war and the critical year of the Treaty of Versailles; and The Big Money (1936), which races headlong through the boom of the ’20s to the bust of the ’30s. Dos Passos reinforces the histories of his fictional characters with a sense of real history conveyed by the interpolated devices of “newsreels,” artfully selected montages of actual newspaper headlines and popular songs of the day. He also interpolates biographies of such representative members of the establishment as the automobile maker Henry Ford, the inventor Thomas Edison, President Woodrow Wilson, and the financier J.P. Morgan. He further presents members of that “other nation” such as the Socialist Eugene V. Debs, the economist Thorstein Veblen, the labour organizer Joe Hill, and the Unknown Soldier of World War I. Yet another dimension is provided by his “camera-eye” technique: brief, poetic, personal reminiscences.

U.S.A. was followed by a less ambitious trilogy, District of Columbia (Adventures of a Young Man, 1939; Number One, 1943; The Grand Design, 1949), which chronicles Dos Passos’ further disillusion with the labour movement, radical politics, and New Deal liberalism. The decline of his creative energy and the increasing political conservatism evident in these works became even more pronounced in subsequent works. At his death at 74, his books scarcely received critical attention.