Happy Birthday Boris Karloff

Today is Boris Karloff‘s 127th birthday.  I first learned about him through a book I was reading as a kid called “The Three Investigators Mystery of Terror Castle.”  They are a series of books a lot like the Hardy Boys, but set in the Los Angeles area in the 1940′s.  The Terror Castle one is the first in the series and centers around the mysterious goings-on at the abandoned Hollywood mansion of a silent movie monster actor.  Shortly after reading that book, my mom must have shown me one of his movies and I connected them in my head.  The world is a better place because Boris was in it and still feels the loss that Boris has left.

 

NAME: Boris Karloff
OCCUPATION: Film Actor
BIRTH DATE: November 23, 1887
DEATH DATE: February 02, 1969
EDUCATION: London University
PLACE OF BIRTH: London, England
PLACE OF DEATH: England
Originally: William Henry Pratt

Best Known For:  Boris Karloff was an English-born actor whose name became synonymous with horror movies.

Actor. Film star Boris Karloff, whose name became synonymous with the horror genre, was born William Henry Pratt in London, England, on November 23, 1887. He studied at London University, then went to Canada and the United States, aiming become a diplomat like his father, and became involved in acting.

Karloff spent 10 years in repertory companies, went to Hollywood, appearing in forty five silent films for Universal Studios, among them The Last of the Mohicans, Forbidden Cargo and an installment in the popular Tarzan series. When Bela Lugosi refused to take a role in which he would have his face hidden by makeup and have no lines, the role of The Monster in 1931′s Frankenstein went to Karloff. His tender, sympathetic performance received enormous critical praise and he became an overnight sensation.

“The monster was the best friend I ever had.” – Boris Karloff

Apart from a notable performance in a World War I story, The Lost Patrol (1934), his career was mostly spent in popular horror films. His performances frequently transcended the crudity of the genre, bringing, as in Frankenstein, a depth and pathos to the characterization.

He is also well known for providing the voice to the 1966 cartoon version of How the Grinch Stole Christmas.

Karloff was known within the film industry for his great kindness and gentleness of manner; he was also central to the foundation of the Screen Actors Guild. After battling emphysema for a number of years, Boris Karloff died at his home in England on February 2, 1969.

Happy Birthday Sister Mary Corita Kent

Today is the 96th birthday Sister Mary Corita Kent.  Google Doodle is celebrating her birthday today.  You should too.  The world is a better place because she was in it and still feels the loss that she has left.

Name:  Frances Elisabeth Kent
Occupation:  Nun, Artist, Educator
Birth Date: November 20,1918
Death Date:  September 18, 1986
Education:  Columbia University
Place of BirthFort Dodge, Iowa
Also Known As:  Sister Mary Corita Kent

BEST KNOWN FOR:  Sister Mary Corita Kent was an American nun, an artist and an educator who worked in Los Angeles and Boston.

Corita Kent, also known as Sister Corita, gained international fame for her vibrant serigraphs during the 1960s and 1970s. A Sister of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, she ran the Art Department at Immaculate Heart College until 1968 when she left the Order and moved to Boston. Corita’s art reflects her spirituality, her commitment to social justice, her hope for peace, and her delight in the world that takes place all around us.

Corita was born Frances Kent in 1918 in Fort Dodge, Iowa. She grew up in Los Angeles and joined the Order of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in 1936, taking the name Sister Mary Corita.

She graduated from Immaculate Heart College in 1941 and then taught grade school in British Columbia. In 1946 she returned to Immaculate Heart College to teach art. In 1951, she received a master’s degree in art history from the University of Southern California; it is also the year she exhibited her first silkscreen print. Corita’s earliest works were largely iconographic; known as “neo-gothic” they borrowed phrases and depicted images from the Bible.

By the 1960s, she was using popular culture (such as song lyrics and advertising slogans) as raw material for her meaning-filled bursts of text and color. Corita’s cries for peace in the era of Vietnam were not always welcome. In 1965 her “Peace on Earth” Christmas exhibit in IBM’s New York show room was seen as too subversive and Corita had to amend it. However, her work continued to be an outlet for her activism—in Corita’s words:
“I am not brave enough to not pay my income tax and risk going to jail. But I can say rather freely what I want to say with my art.”

By then Corita was the chairman of the famous Immaculate Heart College Art Department. Buckminster Fuller described his visit to the department as “among the most fundamentally inspiring experiences of my life.” Other influential friends of hers included Charles Eames , Ben Shahn, Harvey Cox and the Berrigan brothers.

August was Corita’s time for her own art making. During the three weeks between semesters, she and her students would work round the clock printing new serigraph designs by the hundreds. Corita’s chronic insomnia no doubt made some of this possible, but it was often accompanied by a bleak depression. In 1968 Corita decided to devote herself entirely to making art. She left the Order and Los Angeles, and moved to Boston’s Back Bay. She made numerous commissioned works (Westinghouse Group W ads, book covers and murals) and continued to create her own serigraphs (over 400) in the next 18 years. Still using exuberant splashes of color, the tone of her work became more generally spiritual and introspective. Watercolor “plein air” paintings and great floral silk screens dominated her later works.Corita remained active in social causes and designed posters and billboards for Share, the International Walk for Hunger, Physicians for Social Responsibility and Amnesty International.

The Boston Gas tank on the Southeast Expressway still bears her famous 150-foot rainbow swash, which is a similar to her design for the 1985 Love Stamp. On Sept. 18, 1986 Corita finally lost her battle with cancer and died at a friend’s home.

Happy Birthday Isabella Blow

Today is the 56th birthday of the fashion visionary Isabella Blow.  The world is a better place because she was in it and still feels the loss that she has left.

Name:  Isabella Blow
Occupation:  Editor
Birth Date: November 19, 1958
Death Date:  May 7, 2007
Education:  Columbia University
Place of BirthLondon, England
Place of Death:  Gloucester, England

BEST KNOWN FOR:  Isabella Blow was a British fashion director and style icon known for wearing flamboyant hats, many by designer Philip Treacy.

“Fashion is a vampiric thing, it’s the hoover on your brain. That’s why I wear the hats, to keep everyone away from me. They say, ‘Oh, can I kiss you?’ I say, ‘No, thank you very much. That’s why I’ve worn the hat. Goodbye.’ I don’t want to be kissed by all and sundry. I want to be kissed by the people I love.”

Born Isabella Delves Broughton in 1958, Blow was a fashion editor, consultant, muse and nurturer of young fashion talent. She was renowned for her extrovert dress sense, which sometimes involved little more than a fur coat, red lipstick and a hat. To many she was the embodiment of the English eccentric, but her life was marred by tragedy, depression and unhappiness.

Part of an aristocratic family, Blow grew up on the family’s estate in Doddington, Cheshire, with her parents, two sisters and brother, John, who drowned in the family’s half-full swimming pool at the age of two. The tragedy had a great impact upon the family, fracturing her parents’ marriage and leading to their divorce when Isabella was aged 14. Blow later recalled that her mother left offering her nothing more than a goodbye handshake, attributing this to the beginning of her lifelong battle with depression.

Blow was sent to Heathfield School in Ascot, Surrey, where she remained until she was 18. After finishing her education she moved into a London squat and took odd jobs to earn money. In 1979 she moved to New York to study ancient Chinese art at Columbia University, where she became friends with many prominent artists such as Andy Warhol, Jean-Michael Basquiat and Roy Lichenstein.

In 1980, she moved briefly to West Texas to work for the designer Guy Laroche, but returned to New York a year later. It was then that she was first introduced to Anna Wintour, then-creative director of American Vogue, and soon after she became her assistant. In 1981 she married her first husband, Nicholas Taylor, although the marriage ended in divorce two years later.

Blow moved back to London in 1986 and began working at Tatler magazine, assisting the then-fashion editor Michael Roberts. In 1988, she met her second husband Detmar Blow. They were wed at Gloucester Cathedral a year later, with Isabella wearing a hat created by milliner Philip Treacy – then an unknown student at the Royal College of Art whom she had recently discovered. Treacy was to become a lifelong friend and confidante of Blow’s, and Blow was almost never seen without one of Treacy’s hats upon her head. “I don’t use a hat as a prop, I use it as a part of me. If I am feeling really low, I go and see Philip, cover my face, and feel fantastic. Although, if I’m on a real low it requires going to the doctor for a prescription,” Blow once said.

Renowned for her unique ability to spot and nurture design talent, she discovered many of the fashion industry’s leading figures. Three years after discovering Treacy, she attended the Central Saint Martins MA graduate show where she spotted the work of then-student Alexander McQueen. Blow famously bought McQueen’s entire graduate collection for £5,000, and began supporting him and his talent in any way she could. After McQueen became famous across the world – and his label was bought by the Gucci Group – Blow expressed bitterness that he did not employ her in an official capacity within his brand, despite her efforts to make him a success. “She was upset that Alexander McQueen didn’t take her along when he sold his brand to Gucci. Once the deals started happening, she fell by the wayside. Everybody else got contracts, and she got a free dress,” said her friend Daphne Guinness in an interview with Cathy Horyn in 2007.

She was also credited with discovering the models Sophie Dahl, who she spotted crying on Kensington street corner, and Stella Tennant.

Blow left Tatler in 1997 to work at the Sunday Times, only to return to the publication as fashion director in 2001. During her tenure at Tatlers he became notorious for her risqué shoots, once featuring herself topless in a 2004 shoot entitled See nipples and die.

In the years leading up to Blow’s death in 2007 she attempted suicide numerous times, once shattering both her ankles after jumping from the Hammersmith flyover. She died in hospital on May 7 2007 after drinking the weed killer Paraquat. At the time of her death she was also suffering from ovarian cancer.

Blow’s funeral took place at Gloucester Cathedral on May 15 2007 – the same place she had married her husband almost 20 years earlier. Philip Treacy created a hat resembling a black sailing ship which was placed atop her coffin, and she was buried in a red-and-gold brocade dress designed by McQueen. McQueen, Treacy and Blow’s sister Julia helped dress the body.

Rupert Everett, a long time friend of Blow’s, read the eulogy at her funeral. “For someone who was suicidal, she was constantly dazzled by life and life was constantly dazzled by her,” he said. “You were a one-off, a genius friend, your own creation in a world of copycats and I will miss you for the rest of my life.”

Alexander McQueen dedicated his spring/summer 2008 show to Blow, collaborating with Treacy to create ambitious head pieces.  The show space was sprayed with Isabella’s favourite Robert Piguet scent and the invitations were illustrations which depicted a triumphant Blow in a McQueen dress and Philip Treacy headdress, aboard a horse-drawn carriage ascending to heaven.

In 2010, Bryan Ferry dedicated his album Olympia to Blow. Blow was godmother to his son, Otis.

In May 2010, Philip Treacy confirmed that a film was set to be made about Blow’s life.

After her death Blow’s sisters arranged an auction of Isabella’s clothes at Christie’s, which included over 90 McQueen dresses, 50 Treacy hats and portraits of Blow by photographer Mario Testino and Chanel creative director Karl Lagerfeld. The auction was later cancelled after Blow’s friend Daphne Guinness bought the entire lot. “The planned sale at Christie’s could only result in carnage, as souvenir seekers plundered the incredible body of work Issie had created over her life,” said Guinness. “Indeed, in many ways, the auction would not be merely a sale of clothes; it would be a sale of what was left of Issie, and the carrion crows would gather and take away her essence forever.”

In July 2010, Blow’s sister Julie Broughton was presented with a rose that had been named after Isabella by Alexander McQueen, before his death. It was named Alexander’s Issie. “My sister, Isabella, was passionate and totally dedicated to fashion – but only her closest friends knew of her love of gardens, and in particular, roses,” said Broughton. “Their unique colour and beauty combined with their thorny nature greatly appealed to her and to her distinctive eye. She would have been extremely honoured to receive this wonderful gift from her most beloved friend, Alexander.” Alexander’s Issie was selected after the designer had trawled through hundreds of flower pictures. He thought the rose reflected Blow’s bright personality – heralding her love of fashion and famous sense of style.

In September 2010, Detmar Blow released a memoir based on the life of his late wife – entitled Blow By Blow. In the book he recalled the first time he saw his wife at a wedding in Salisbury. “I couldn’t take my eyes off her. After the service, I waited for an opportunity to speak to her – and we immediately connected. Despite the brevity of our meeting, I knew I had fallen in love with her, and sat with her after dinner.”

Detmar Blow also spoke of his wife’s friendship with Treacy. “In Philip Treacy she had found not only the creator of her wedding headdress, but her best friend for life and the greatest discovery of her career so far,” Detmar wrote. “They quickly developed an intense and creative relationship that he later likened to ‘having an affair with no sex.”

Philip Treacy has said that Blow’s life should not be looked back upon with sadness. “Nothing about her was tragic. She was triumphant,” he said in September 2010.

In October 2010, Detmar Blow said in an interview with London’s Evening Standard that he believed Alexander McQueen betrayed Isabella. “Money changed him and then drugs changed him. I remember reading of how he had flown his boyfriend somewhere for £130,000,” recalled Blow. “What did Issie get? Some clothes. I find that quite shocking.”

In the March 2011 issue of American Vogue, Lady Gaga attributed some of her success to her similarities with Blow. “The fashion community in general got me much earlier than everyone else. But actually, I felt truly embraced by this London cultural movement, the McQueen, Isabella [Blow], Daphne Guinness wing of the English crowd. I remember when I first started doing photo shoots people would say, ‘My God, you look so much like Isabella Blow, it scares me.’ And McQueen used to say, ‘Oh, my God, your boobs!’ He actually grabbed both of them and said, ‘Even your boobs are like hers!’”

In September 2011, Tom Ford spoke about the Philip Treacy hat worn by Princess Beatrice at the wedding of Catherine Middleton and Prince William. “I’ll probably get in trouble for saying this, but at the royal wedding, one of the princesses wore a now-very-famous (or infamous),  Philip Treacy hat – that hat wore her,” Ford said. “Now, Isabella Blow, a woman those of us in fashion knew well – had she worn the same hat, it would have looked great. She would have worn the hat. She knew what she was about, what she wanted to express in fashion.” The hat sold for over £81,000 on ebay, with all proceeds going to charity.

In October 2011, a double portrait of Blow and McQueen taken by David LaChapelle went on public display for the first time. The picture, entitled Burning Down The House, was taken in December 1996 at Hedingham House in Essex, and first appeared in Vanity Fair. At the time the picture was taken McQueen was just 27 years old and was still working at Givenchy. Both wear creations by the designer himself, with Blow sporting a Philip Treacy hat. The image was bought by the National Portrait Gallery with the financial help of McQueen and Blow’s long-term friend Daphne Guinness, The Marrakech Gallery Foundation and artist management company Fred Torres.

 

Happy Birthday Jean Seberg

I do love that a girl from Iowa can become so beloved by the French.  Her story reads like a Greek tragedy:  fame, three husbands, suicide at 40.  Breathless is available on NetFlix/Hulu, you should watch it.  The world is a better place because she was in it and still feels the loss that she has left.


Name:  Jean Dorothy Seberg
Born: November 13, 1938 Marshalltown, Iowa, U.S.
Died:  August 30, 1979 (aged 40) Paris, France

Jean Dorothy Seberg was an American actress. She starred in 37 films in Hollywood and in France, including Breathless (1960), the musical Paint Your Wagon (1969) and the disaster film Airport (1970).

One month before her 18th birthday, this blonde actress landed the title role in Otto Preminger‘s Saint Joan (1957) after a much-publicized contest involving some 18,000 hopefuls. The failure of that film and the only moderate success of her next, Bonjour tristesse (1958), combined to stall Seberg’s career, until her role in Jean-Luc Godard‘s landmark feature, Breathless (1960), brought her renewed international attention. Seberg gave a memorable performance as a schizophrenic in the title role of Robert Rossen‘s Lilith (1964), costarring Warren Beatty. Her two most famous films in America were back to back. The first was the western-musical Paint Your Wagon (1969). The second was Airport (1970), which became the trend setter for “disaster films” of the 1970s.

During this time Seberg became involved in anti-war politics and was the target of an undercover campaign by the FBI to discredit her because of her association with several members of the Black Panther party. Bad press and several personal problems nearly ruined her career, and she only acted in foreign films from then on.  She was found dead of a barbiturate overdose in a Paris suburb on August 30, 1979. She was 40 years old.

Seberg was survived by both of her parents, two younger siblings, three ex-husbands, and a 16-year old son named Diego. In 1970 she gave birth to a daughter named Nina, who was the product of an extramarital affair she had with a college student named Carlos Navarra; Nina died two days after her birth as a result of Jean overdosing on sleeping pills during her pregnancy.

Happy Birthday Edith Head

Today is the 117th birthday of the woman who made more influence on mid-century fashion than all the fashion designers of the time combined:  Edith Head.  If you are a fan of classic movies and pay attention to scenery and costuming, you already know her. She had THE influence on American style before clothing designers were known. A quick search for her on IMDB will soon have you realizing that her touch was added to most of the films that you know and love.

 

NAME: Edith Head
OCCUPATION: Fashion Designer
BIRTH DATE: October 28, 1897
DEATH DATE: October 24, 1981
PLACE OF BIRTH: San Bernardino, California
PLACE OF DEATH: Hollywood, California

Best Known For:  Edith Head was one of the most prolific costume designers in 20th century film, winning a record eight Academy Awards.

Edith Head (born October 28, 1897) became chief designer at Paramount Pictures in 1933 and later worked at Universal. Hollywood’s best-known designer, her costumes ranged from the elegantly simple to the elaborately flamboyant. She won a record eight Academy Awards for her work in films such as All About Eve (1950), Roman Holiday (1953), and The Sting (1973).

She became chief designer at Paramount Pictures in 1933 and later worked at Universal. Hollywood’s best-known designer, she was noted for the wide range of her costumes, from the elegantly simple to the elaborately flamboyant. She won a record eight Academy Awards for her work in films such as All About Eve (1950), Roman Holiday (1953), and The Sting (1973).

“Your dresses should be tight enough to show you’re a woman and loose enough to show you’re a lady.” – Edith Head

As part of a series of stamps issued by the U.S. Postal Service in February 2003, commemorating the behind-the-camera personnel who make movies, Head was featured on one to honor costume design.

The band They Might Be Giants recorded the song “She Thinks She’s Edith Head,” which was included in the 1999 album Long Tall Weekend and the 2001 album Mink Car. The song is about a girl from the singer’s past, who had changed her persona to be more sophisticated, and compares her new attitude to Head and longtime Cosmopolitan editor-in-chief Helen Gurley Brown.

“You can have whatever you want if you dress for it.” ― Edith Head

To many viewers of the 2004 Pixar/Disney computer-animated film The Incredibles, the personality and mannerisms of the film’s fictional superhero costume designer Edna Mode suggest a colorful caricature of Edith Head. Edna Mode’s sense of style, round glasses, and assertive no-nonsense character are very likely a direct homage to Head’s legendary accomplishments and personal traits. But the film’s director, Brad Bird, has not yet confirmed or denied this.

 

Happy Birthday Dorothy Parker

Today is the 121st birthday of Dorothy Parker.  Her poem “Telephone” is something everyone has felt, if they want to admit it or not. She had the wit of three people and the alcohol tolerance to match.

dorothy parker

NAME: Dorothy Parker
OCCUPATION: Civil Rights Activist, Journalist, Poet
BIRTH DATE: August 22, 1893
DEATH DATE: June 07, 1967
PLACE OF BIRTH: West End, New Jersey
PLACE OF DEATH: New York, New York

BEST KNOWN FOR: Dorothy Parker was the sharpest wit of the Algonquin Round Table, as well as a master of short fiction and a blacklisted screenwriter.

Resumé
Razors pain you; Rivers are damp;
Acids stain you; And drugs cause cramp.
Guns aren’t lawful; Nooses give;
Gas smells awful; You might as well live.

Journalist, writer, and poet. Born Dorothy Rothschild on August 22, 1893, in West End, New Jersey. Dorothy Parker was a legendary literary figure, known for her biting wit. She worked on such magazines as Vogue andVanity Fair during the late 1910s. Parker went on to work as a book reviewer for The New Yorker in the 1920s. A selection of her reviews for this magazine was published in 1970 as Constant Reader, the title of her column. She remained a contributor to The New Yorker for many years; the magazine also published a number of her short stories. One of her most popular stories, “Big Blonde,” won the O. Henry Award in 1929.In addition to her writing, Dorothy Parker was a noted member of the New York literary scene in 1920s. She formed a group called the Algonquin Round Table with writer Robert Benchley and playwright Robert Sherwood. This artistic crowd also included such members as The New Yorker founder Harold Ross, comedian Harpo Marx, and playwright Edna Ferber among others. The group took its name from its hangout—the Algonquin Hotel, but also also known as the Vicious Circle for the number of cutting remarks made by its members and their habit of engaging in sharp-tongued banter.

During the 1930s and 1940s, Dorothy Parker spent much of her time in Hollywood, California. She wrote screenplays with her second husband Alan Campbell, including the 1937 adaptation of A Star Is Born and the 1942 Alfred Hitchcock film Saboteur. In her personal life, she had become politically active, supporting such causes as the fight for civil rights. She also was involved with the Communist Party in the 1930s. It was this association that led to her being blacklisted in Hollywood.

While her opportunities in Hollywood may have dried up, Dorothy Parker was still a well-regarded writer and poet. She even went on to write a play entitled Ladies of the Corridor in 1953. Parker returned to New York City in 1963, spending her last few years in fragile condition. She died on June 7, 1967.

The Flaw in Paganism

Drink and dance and laugh and lie,
Love, the reeling midnight through,
For tomorrow we shall die!
(But, alas, we never do.)

 

Happy Birthday Cole Porter

Today is the 123rd birthday of the man who wrote the songs “I Get a Kick Out of You,” “You’re the Top,” and “Let’s Do It, Let’s Fall In Love”: Cole Porter, born in Peru, Indiana (1891). Most of his great songs were written within a 10-year period: between his first popular Broadway musical, Paris (1928)—his first musicals had been complete flops—and a terrible riding accident in 1937.

porter

NAME: Cole Porter
OCCUPATION: Songwriter
BIRTH DATE: June 09, 1891
DEATH DATE: October 15, 1964
EDUCATION: Yale University, Harvard University
PLACE OF BIRTH: Peru, Indiana
PLACE OF DEATH: Santa Monica, California

Best Known For:  Cole Porter was a U.S. composer and lyricist who created songs like “I Get a Kick Out of You” and his own series of Broadway musicals including Anything Goes.

Cole Porter was born today in Peru, Indiana. He was a composer and lyricist, and he wrote a string of hit songs: “I Get a Kick Out of You,” “Night and Day,” “You’re the Top,” “Let’s Do It, Let’s Fall In Love,” “I’ve got You Under My Skin,” and “Let’s Misbehave.” All of these songs were written within a 10-year period: between his first popular Broadway musical, Paris (1928) — his first musicals had been complete flops — and a terrible riding accident in 1937. Porter was at a party at the New York home of the Countess Edith di Zoppola when his horse rolled and crushed his legs. He claimed that he didn’t realize how badly he was hurt and that while someone ran for help he finished up the lyrics to “You Never Know.” But he was in fact seriously injured — the doctors insisted that his right leg be amputated, maybe his left as well. Porter refused. He preferred to be in intense pain than be missing a leg.

He lived with the pain for more than 20 years, and he continued to write songs, but never at the same rate of success as he had before his accident. In 1958, after 34 operations on his leg, he finally agreed to have it amputated. The playwright Noel Coward went to visit Porter in the hospital, and he said: “He has at last had his leg amputated and the lines of ceaseless pain have been wiped from his face. He is a bit fretful about having to manage his new leg but he will get over that. I think if I had had to endure all those years of agony I would have had the damned thing off at the beginning, but it is a cruel decision to have to make and involves much sex vanity and many fears of being repellent. However, it is now done at last and I am convinced that his whole life will cheer up and that his work will profit accordingly.” But Porter never recovered. He told friends, “I am only half a man now.” And never wrote another song. He died in 1964 at the age of 73.

The critic Alfred Kazin said of Porter: “The wit of his words depended on his ability to raise the audience immediately to his own level — and keep it there. The instant happiness that Porter gave his audience is the kind that becomes history.”

Enhanced by Zemanta