Happy Birthday Dick Van Dyke

DICK-VAN-DYKENAME: Dick Van Dyke
OCCUPATION: Writer, Talk Show Host, Television Actor, Comedian, Television Producer
BIRTH DATE: December 13, 1925
PLACE OF BIRTH: West Plains, Missouri

BEST KNOWN FOR: Dick Van Dyke is an American actor and comedian best known for hosting The Dick Van Dyke Show. He’s also known for starring on Diagnosis Murder and for roles in films like Mary Poppins, Dick Tracy and Night at the Museum.

By high school Dick Van Dyke knew he wanted to be on stage, but he was unsure whether he wanted to be an actor or a Presbyterian minister. After a stint in the Army Air Corps, he worked in advertising, then became a radio announcer, and within a few years he was hosting a TV talk show in New Orleans. His big break came when he was hired to replace Johnny Carson as host of CBS’s Monday-Friday The Morning Show in 1955.

The Morning Show was of course flattened in the ratings by Dave Garroway‘s Today Show. After the program was cancelled Van Dyke was still under contract to CBS, but the network was unsure what to do with him. He found himself hosting CBS Cartoon Theater for kids, then playing sidekick to singer Andy Williams in The Chevy Showroom, and he was a frequent panelist on To Tell the Truth while it was on CBS. Van Dyke’s best early reviews came for two appearances onThe Phil Silvers Show in 1957 and 1958.

When his CBS contract ended, Van Dyke hosted two quickly-cancelled game shows, Mother’s Dayand the comedy-themed Laugh Line, which featured regular panelists Mike Nichols and Elaine May. On Broadway, he appeared in the musical review The Girls Against the Boys with an ancientBert Lahr and a young Nancy Walker. The play ran only two weeks, but Van Dyke won a Theater World Award for his performance. In 1960, he won a Tony starring in the hit Bye Bye Birdie, as a rock’n’roll singer drafted into the military.

Meanwhile, unbeknownst to Van Dyke, comedian Carl Reiner had created, written and starred in a pilot for an autobiographical sitcom, Head of the Family. Reiner had scripted comedy for TV pioneer Sid Caesar, and in the pilot he played a comedy writer for a Caesar-like TV star. Network executives liked the script and concept, but thought Reiner was wrong for the role of, basically, himself. So the show was retooled with Van Dyke as comedy writer Rob Petrie, the young Mary Tyler Moore as his wife, Rose Marie and Morey Amsterdam as Van Dyke’s fellow comedy writers, and a small supporting role for Reiner as the Van Dyke character’s obnoxious boss. Of course, Van Dyke was perfect in the role, sometimes tripping over the ottoman and sometimes sidestepping it, as The Dick Van Dyke Show became one of America’s most enduring comedies.

His first film was an adaptation of his Broadway hit Bye Bye Birdie, but with the script rewritten to shortchange his character and instead spotlight Ann-Margret. His most successful film was Mary Poppins with Julie Andrews, but his attempt at a British cockney accent was so awful, the term “Van Dyke accent” is still used to describe failed American attempts to sound British. His other films include The Comic, a drama about comedy with Mickey Rooney; Cold Turkey, a comedy about nicotine withdrawal with Edward Everett Horton; the charming children’s musical Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (based on Ian Fleming‘s non-Bond novel); and Warren Beatty‘s Dick Tracy, where Van Dyke played a delightfully corrupt district attorney.

He made several attempts to recapture the magic of his Dick Van Dyke Show on TV, and occasionally came close. In the early 1970s he starred in The New Dick Van Dyke Show with Hope Lange as his wife, and the program had its moments — most hilariously in an episode where Van Dyke’s character was in a quandary about attending an awards dinner at a whites-only nightclub. He hosted a short-lived variety show in 1976, Van Dyke and Company, with the expected skits and songs, but the show also featured Van Dyke’s endearing and genuinely funny pantomime segments, and provided Americans’ first prime time glimpse of Andy Kaufman, who stole every segment he was in. In the late-1980s comedy The Van Dyke Show, he played a retired Broadway star who amusingly made life miserable for his son, played by Van Dyke’s real-life son Barry Van Dyke.

Van Dyke has often said that his favorite comic was Stan Laurel, and like Laurel he had exquisite timing, an innate likability on-screen, a rubber face, and a mastery of pratfalls and slapstick. Van Dyke rarely wrote his own material while Laurel wrote more than a dozen of Laurel & Hardy‘s best films, but as a performer Van Dyke may have been Laurel’s equal. Van Dyke and Laurel once met, in the early 1960s, while The Dick Van Dyke Show was growing very popular. Shaking his hero’s hand, he told Laurel his work had inspired him, and that he had honed his comedy technique from watching Laurel’s films. According to Van Dyke, Laurel chuckled and said, “I’ve noticed that.”

It is sad, then, that younger audiences probably know Van Dyke only from his last long-running series, Diagnosis: Murder. Abandoning comedy, he played it straight as Dr Mark Sloan, a folksy doctor who solved murders in his spare time. He had first played Sloan in a 1991 episode of Jake and the Fatman, and the character was resurrected in three made-for-TV movies before the series was launched in 1993. A rather stilted clone of Angela Lansbury‘s Murder, She Wrote, Diagnosis: Murder inexplicably ran for eight seasons, co-starring Van Dyke’s son Barry as Dr Sloan’s son Steve, supposedly an LAPD detective.

Van Dyke has spent his recent years in the company of Michelle Triola, who was famous for suing her former lover Lee Marvin, demanding and winning alimony — “palimony” — although they had never married. His brother is comedic actor Jerry Van Dyke, a sitcom staple who starred in the anti-classic My Mother the Car and had a supporting role on Coach with Craig T. Nelson. Van Dyke’s son, as noted above, is wooden actor Barry Van Dyke, whose best-known work withoutsharing the screen with his father was Galactica 1980, a short-lived revival of Battlestar Galacticawith Lorne Greene.

Emmy 1964 for The Dick Van Dyke Show
Emmy 1965 for The Dick Van Dyke Show
Emmy 1966 for The Dick Van Dyke Show
Emmy 1977 for Van Dyke and Company (shared)
Grammy Mary Poppins soundtrack
Hollywood Walk of Fame 1992 at 7021 Hollywood Blvd.
Tony for Bye-Bye Birdie
Endorsement of Kodak 1978
unknown detox facility
Visited Disneyland Candlelight Procession (Dec-1965, Dec-2005)
Dutch Ancestry
Risk Factors: Alcoholism, Smoking

TELEVISION
Diagnosis Murder Dr. Mark Sloan (1993-2001)
The Carol Burnett Show various (1977)
The New Dick Van Dyke Show Dick Preston (1971-74)
The Dick Van Dyke Show Rob Petrie (1961-66)

FILMOGRAPHY AS ACTOR
The Boys: The Sherman Brothers’ Story (24-Apr-2009) · Himself
Murder 101: New Age (14-Jan-2008)
Murder 101: If Wishes Were Horses (9-Aug-2007)
Murder 101: College Can Be Murder (29-Jan-2007)
Night at the Museum (21-Dec-2006)
Curious George (10-Feb-2006) [VOICE]
Murder 101 (7-Jan-2006)
The Gin Game (4-May-2003)
Dick Tracy (15-Jun-1990) · D.A. Fletcher
Drop-Out Father (27-Sep-1982)
The Runner Stumbles (16-Nov-1979)
The Morning After (13-Feb-1974)
Cold Turkey (19-Feb-1971) · Rev. Clayton Brooks
The Comic (19-Nov-1969)
Some Kind of a Nut (1-Oct-1969) · Fred
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (16-Dec-1968) · Caractacus Potts
Never a Dull Moment (26-Jun-1968)
Fitzwilly (20-Dec-1967) · Fitzwilliam
Divorce American Style (21-Jun-1967) · Richard Harmon
Lt. Robin Crusoe, U.S.N. (29-Jun-1966)
The Art of Love (30-Jun-1965)
Mary Poppins (27-Aug-1964)
What a Way to Go! (12-May-1964) · Edgar Hopper
Bye Bye Birdie (4-Apr-1963) · Albert Peterson

Happy Birthday David Rakoff

Today is David Rakoff‘s 50th birthday.  He is quite possibly the wittiest writer we have seen this century.  The 2oth century had Dorothy Parker and the 21st had David Rakoff.  He has also had the great fortune of being an excellent orator of his own works, reading a David Rakoff book is a treasure, but listening to him read it brings color and light and darkness (oh the amazingly beautiful darkness) to the words in the ways he intended.  His death is an enormous loss for the world.  Please do yourself a favor and read (or listen to) something that he has written, I guarantee you will become a veracious fan.  The world is a better place because David was in it and still feels the loss that he has left.

I have re-posted several of my favorite David Rakoff posts today, please give yourself a gift and read/listen to one of his books soon.  You deserve it.

David Rakoff 1

Name:  David Benjamin Rakoff
Born:  November 27, 1964
BirthplaceMontreal, Quebec, Canada
Died:  August 9, 2012 (aged 47)
Location at time of death:  Manhattan, New York City, New York, United States
Occupation:  Essayist, journalist, actor
Nationality:  Canadian-American

David Rakoff was born in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, the youngest of three children. His brother, the comedian Simon Rakoff, is four years older than David and their sister Ruth Rakoff, author of the cancer memoir When My World Was Very Small, is the middle child.   Rakoff has said that he and his siblings were close as children.[4][6] Rakoff’s mother, Gina Shochat-Rakoff, is a doctor who has practised psychotherapy and his father, Vivian Rakoff, is a psychiatrist.  Rakoff has written that almost every generation of his family fled from one place to another.  Rakoff’s grandparents, who were Jewish, fled Latvia and Lithuania at the turn of the 20th century and settled in South Africa.  The Rakoff family left South Africa in 1961 for political reasons, moving to Montreal for seven years. In 1967, when he was three, Rakoff’s family moved to Toronto.  As an adult, he said that he identified as Jewish.

“I will stipulate to having both French sea salt and a big bottle of extra virgin in my kitchen. And while the presence of both might go some small distance in pigeonholing me demographically, neither one of them makes me a good person. They are mute and useless indicators of the content of my character.”
― David Rakoff, Don’t Get Too Comfortable: The Indignities of Coach Class, The Torments of Low Thread Count, The Never-Ending Quest for Artisanal Olive Oil, and Other First World Problems

Rakoff attended high school at the Forest Hill Collegiate Institute, graduating in 1982. In the same year he moved to New York City to attend Columbia University, where he majored in East Asian Studies and studied dance.  Rakoff spent his third year of college at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London and graduated in 1986. Rakoff worked in Japan as a translator with a fine arts publisher. His work was interrupted after four months when, at 22, he became ill with Hodgkin’s disease, a form of lymphatic cancer which he has referred to as “a touch of cancer”. He returned to Toronto for eighteen months of treatment, including chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery.

“Being a stranger was like being dead,
and brought to mind how, in a book he had read
that most folks misunderstood one common state:
The flip side of love is indifference, not hate.”
― David Rakoff, Love, Dishonor, Marry, Die, Cherish, Perish

From 1982, Rakoff lived in the United States (minus his four-month stay in Japan in 1986), first as a student, then as a resident alien. In the early 1990s he was issued a green card, a subject about which he wrote in one of his early newspaper articles.[8] After living in the United States for twenty-one years, Rakoff was motivated by a desire to participate in the political process and applied for U.S. citizenship. Rakoff chronicled the experience of becoming an American citizen in an essay published in Don’t Get Too Comfortable. He became a U.S. citizen in 2003, while at the same time retaining his Canadian citizenship.

Rakoff was a prolific freelance writer and a regular contributor to Conde Nast Traveler, GQ, Outside Magazine and The New York Times Magazine. His writing also appeared in Business 2.0, Details, Harper’s Bazaar, Nerve, New York Magazine, Salon, Seed, Slate, Spin, The New York Observer, Vogue, Wired and other publications. He wrote on a wide and eclectic range of topics.

Rakoff published three bestselling collections of essays, which include his own illustrations. Both Fraud (Doubleday 2001) and Don’t Get Too Comfortable (Doubleday 2005) were awarded a Lambda literary award (which recognises excellence among LGBT writers who use their work to explore LGBT lives), both times in the “Humor” category. Half-Empty (2010) won the 2011 Thurber Prize for American Humor.

In 2010, while writing the book Half Empty, Rakoff was diagnosed with a malignant tumor, Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and later developed a post-radiation sarcoma behind his left collarbone and began chemotherapy.  He died in Manhattan on August 9, 2012.

 

 

Happy Birthday Claudette Colbert

Today is the 111th birthday of Claudette Colbert.

NAME: Claudette Colbert
OCCUPATION: Film Actress, Theater Actress
BIRTH DATE: September 13, 1903
DEATH DATE: July 30, 1996
EDUCATION: Art Students League of New York
PLACE OF BIRTH: Saint-Mandé, Val-de-Marne, France
PLACE OF DEATH: Speightstown, Barbados
ORIGINALLY: Lily Claudette Chauchoin

BEST KNOWN FOR: Actress Claudette Colbert was known for her trademark bangs, her velvety, purring voice, her confident, intelligent style and her subtle, graceful acting.

One of the brightest film stars to grace the screen was born Emilie Claudette Chauchoin on September 13, 1903, in Saint Mandé, France where her father owned a bakery at 57, Avenue Général de Gaulle. The family moved to the United States when she was three. As Claudette grew up, she wanted nothing more than to play to Broadway audiences (in those days, any actress or actor worth their salt went for Broadway, not Hollywood). After her formal education ended, she enrolled in the Art Students League, where she paid for her dramatic training by working in a dress shop. She made her Broadway debut in 1923 in the stage production of “The Wild Wescotts“. It was during this event that she adopted the name Claudette Colbert.

When the Great Depression shut down most of the theaters, Claudette decided to make a go of it in films. Her first film was called For the Love of Mike (1927). Unfortunately, it was a box-office disaster. She wasn’t real keen on the film industry, but with an extreme scarcity in theatrical roles, she had no choice but to remain. In 1929 she starred as Joyce Roamer in The Lady Lies (1929). The film was a success and later that year she had another hit entitled The Hole in the Wall (1929). In 1930 she starred opposite Fredric March in Manslaughter (1930), which was a remake of the silent version of eight years earlier. A year after that Claudette was again paired in a film with March, Honor Among Lovers (1931). It fared well at the box-office, probably only because it was the kind of film that catered to women who enjoyed magazine fiction romantic stories. In 1932 Claudette played the evil Poppeia in Cecil B. DeMille’s last great work, The Sign of the Cross (1932), and once again was cast with March. Later the same year she was paired with Jimmy Durante in The Phantom President (1932). By now Claudette’s name symbolized good movies and she, along with March, pulled crowds into the theaters with the acclaimed Tonight Is Ours (1933).

The next year started a little on the slow side with the release of Four Frightened People (1934), where Claudette and her co-stars were at odds with the dreaded bubonic plague on board a ship. However, the next two films were real gems for this young actress. First up, Claudette was charming and radiant in Cecil B. DeMille’s spectacular Cleopatra (1934). It wasn’t one of DeMille’s finest by any means, but it was a financial success and showcased Claudette as never before. However, it was as Ellie Andrews, in the now famous It Happened One Night (1934), that ensured she would be forever immortalized. Paired with Clark Gable, the madcap comedy was a mega-hit all across the country. It also resulted in Claudette being nominated for and winning the Oscar that year for Best Actress. In 1935 she was nominated again for Private Worlds (1935), where she played Dr. Jane Everest, on the staff at a mental institution. The performance was exquisite. Films such as The Gilded Lily (1935), Drums Along the Mohawk (1939) and No Time for Love (1943) kept fans coming to the theaters and the movie moguls happy. Claudette was a sure drawing card for virtually any film she was in. In 1944 she starred as Anne Hilton in Since You Went Away (1944). Again, although she didn’t win, Claudette picked up her third nomination for Best Actress.

By the late 1940s and early 1950s she was not only seen on the screen but the infant medium of television, where she appeared in a number of programs. However, her drawing power was fading somewhat as new stars replaced the older ones. In 1955 she filmed the western Texas Lady (1955) and wasn’t seen on the screen again until Parrish (1961). It was her final silver screen performance. Her final appearance before the cameras was in a TV movie, The Two Mrs. Grenvilles (1987). She did, however, remain on the stage where she had returned in 1956, her first love. After a series of strokes, Claudette divided her time between New York and Barbados. On July 30, 1996, Claudette died in Speightstown, Barbados. She was 92.

The Seven Year Itch – Required Viewing

It’s still summer, it’s still warm outside and even a bit warm at night.  This film always reminds me of hot summer nights in New York.  I love she just brings a fan with her, so sensible.

seven-year-itch9

The Wiki:

The Seven Year Itch is a romantic comedy 1955 American film based on a three-act play with the same name by George Axelrod. The film was co-written and directed by Billy Wilder, and starred Marilyn Monroe and Tom Ewell, reprising his Broadway role. It contains one of the most iconic images of the 20th century – Monroe standing on a subway grate as her white dress is blown by a passing train. The titular phrase, which refers to declining interest in a monogamous relationship after seven years of marriage, has been used by psychologists.

Happy Birthday Mae West

Tomorrow is the 121st birthday of Mae West.

NAME: Mae West
OCCUPATION: Film Actress, Theater Actress, Pin-up
BIRTH DATE: August 17, 1893
DEATH DATE: November 22, 1980
PLACE OF BIRTH: Brooklyn, New York
PLACE OF DEATH: Los Angeles, California

BEST KNOWN FOR: Mae West started in Vaudeville and on the stage in New York, and later moved to Hollywood to star in films known for their blunt sexuality and steamy settings.

Mae West was an American screen legend and erotic icon famous for her voluptuous figure, sexy innuendos, and irrepressible wit. A free thinking and independent woman far ahead of her time, West expressed herself boldly, both sexually and creatively. She famously surrounded herself with handsome muscle men, both onscreen and off, and accrued a long list of famous and powerful lovers. Notably, West was one of the first female American playwrights, and actresses, to demand and receive creative control over her work. West’s creative expression encompassed nearly every facet of the entertainment spectrum including theatre and screenwriting, film, radio, television, and audio recording. And with a career spanning some 80+ years, she holds the further distinction of having performed both vaudeville and rock and roll. As a cultural icon she is immortalized by imitators, biographers, and even an assortment of snacks and devices bearing her name. Her trademark phrases have been translated into numerous languages, including Mandarin, Mongolian, Norwegian, and Lithuanian.

She was born Mary Jane West on August 17, 1893 in Brooklyn, New York. Her father, the bare knuckles prizefighter Battlin’ Jack West, was a native New Yorker from the lower east side. A heavy smoker and drinker, he turned to violence when thwarted. Her mother, “Tillie”, was a former corset and fashion model, and frustrated actress, who had immigrated to America from Germany with her parents. Although Mae West always claimed that Tillie was Jewish, records show that the family listed their religion as Lutheran upon arrival in America. West’s paternal grandmother had also immigrated as a child — an Irish Catholic, she married Mae’s paternal grandfather, John Edwin, while only 12 years old. Edwin’s own ancestry remains enigmatic. But according to West biographer Jill Watts, he may have been a light-skinned African American who passed for white.

Arising from this milieu of adversity, Mae learned early on that her unusual talent and good looks were an advantage that just might leverage her into a better life — if she played it smart. Encouraged by her mother, she used her sexuality to build alliances with, or dominate, nearly every man who crossed her path. And she learned to view marriage as a double edged institution – one that offered legal protection and social acceptance, but which robbed women of their independence and sexual freedom. According to most sources she took refuge in marriage just once, with fellow actor and lover Frank Wallace. When she tired of Wallace, and discovered she was not pregnant as feared, she ended the relationship. She neglected to file for divorce however, and Wallace showed up years later, in 1937, with marriage certificate in hand to receive a share of West’s ample earnings. She may have been simultaneously married to musician Guido Deiro, divorcing him in 1920. West allegedly used the alias Catherine Mae Belle West when marrying Deiro to avoid bigamy charges.

While West’s attitudes toward men were heavily influenced by her mother so was her choice of career. Tillie West had once longed to follow in the footsteps of idol Lillian Russell, even having her portrait painted in such way as to highlight a certain resemblance. She started Mae off in show business as early as age 5, according to some reports, and by age 7 Mae had won the gold medal in a talent show, with Tillie billing her as “Baby Mae.” By age 12 she was appearing on the vaudeville circuit and was soon performing as the sexy “Baby Vamp.” At 18 she introduced vaudeville to the “shimmy”, a sexy full body undulation that she had first observed in the blues bars of Chicago.

In the 1920s she had moved on to playwriting. A shameless self promoter, she is said to have single billed herself on works that were in fact jointly authored. Nonetheless both on the stage and later in film she showed tremendous wit and intelligence for writing dialogue, especially for those parts she played herself. But while West is chiefly remembered for her clever dialogue and powerhouse sensuality, much of her work dealt also with spiritual matters and West was herself a deeply and eclectically spiritual person for most of her life. Not surprisingly, her tendency toward frankness and maverick free thinking, on all subjects, often put her at odds with moralists and hard line religious leaders.

Her first major run in with censorship laws came in 1926 when she was jailed for the play Sex, which she both wrote and starred in. West was sentenced to 10 days in jail on obscenity charges. However she allegedly received star treatment in prison, dining each night with the warden and getting two days off for good behavior. Despite this fact she was sympathetic to those less fortunate, and upon her release she penned an article about the women she had met behind bars. Putting her money where her mouth was, she also made a donation on their behalf to fund a prison library.

In 1927 West was back in trouble again. Her new play Drag, about a homosexual party, was a big hit in New Jersey. But it was banned from Broadway and was soon bogged down in extensive legal battles. She bounced back the following year with her naughty, but more acceptable Diamond Lil. Not only was it a big hit on Broadway, but it more significantly catapulted her toward Hollywood stardom. West debuted on film in 1932 with what was supposed to be a small part in Night After Night, starringGeorge Raft. However West insisted on rewriting all her lines, and the result was pure gold — for West and for the film. Building on this success West was able to translate her Broadway play Diamond Lilto the big screen as She Done Him Wrong in 1933. Audiences went wild, and the film was a huge success, garnering an Academy Award nomination and catapulting male lead Cary Grant, to stardom. The picture saved its studio, Paramount Pictures, from bankruptcy.

West’s next film, I’m No Angel, was also a big hit with moviegoers. But her empowered sexuality and ribald wit, that so entranced movie goers, incensed religious leaders and moralists. The Catholic Church in particular launched a campaign to put an end to the “filth” churned out by West, and to an extent, by the studios in general. By July of 1934 Hollywood was being squeezed toward more exact compliance with the strict Motion Picture Production Code. Since West was not one to give in easily and she managed for a while to pull a clever bait and switch with the censors. She laded scripts with obvious material for them to cut, while slipping in more subtle elements they would overlook. Most famous of these were her sly double entendres, lines she rolled out with such droll understatement that fans were never quite sure what was a straight line and what was intentional innuendo.

But censors could not be duped indefinitely, not with more clever moralists writing them outraged letters. And so West found her work in Hollywood more and more constrained. She churned out several more films, including My Little Chickadee, in which she starred alongside nemesis W. C. Fields (1940). But 1943’s The Heat’s On proved to be her last offering, until her film rebirth in the 1970s.

For the next few decades she returned her attention to writing and performing for the more liberal environment of the stage. One of West’s favorite roles was her 1944 Broadway production ofCatherine Was Great. West’s version of the famed Russian empress was a woman after her own heart — a powerful, lusty, independent woman who surrounded herself with tall muscle men. According to West, an ardent spiritualist, this likeness was appropriate as she herself was the reincarnation ofCatherine the Great.

Like the historic Catherine, West’s identity as a sexual titan who seemed untarnished by age. West still demanded daily sex well into her 60s and held onto a girlish figure through an assortment of eccentric practices. According to West, she avoided sunlight to preserve her skin, massaged her breasts for two hours a day with cold cream to keep them firm, had her men massage warm baby oil into her skin to keep it soft, and began each day with an enema to rid her body of toxins and keep her skin silky smooth.

Determined never to be a “has been” (she hotly turned down Billy Wilder‘s invitation to play Norma Desmond in Sunset Strip) West frequently managed to reinvent and reintroduce herself to the American public. She had her own Las Vegas show in the 1950s. And in the 1960s, she appeared on the album sleeve for The Beatles “Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”, she popped up on a number of popular television programs (including The Red Skelton Show and Mr. Ed), and she even cut two rock and roll albums. In 1970 she at last returned to the big screen with Gore Vidal‘s Myra Breckinridge.

But although the time seemed ripe for West’s bawdy humor to make a come back, with society and censors more open to sexuality, age was catching up with her. Now in her mid 80s, she was struggling with diabetes and other ailments. During the 1978 filming of Sextette, her last film, she often needed to rest during scenes. And she forgot her lines so often that it was necessary to fit her with an earpiece so she could be prompted with her lines. But the indomitable Mae insisted on playing a woman in her late 20s, and she behaved as if she were still the knockout sex goddess that every man wanted to make love too. Despite such handicaps and eccentricities her co-stars would remember West as a grand lady. And when the film finally premiered her cult of longtime fans still found her adorable and embracedSextette, viewing the flaws of the film as delightful self-parody. But the public in general was not so impressed and despite added talent from the likes of Timothy Dalton, Ringo Starr, George Hamilton,Tony Curtis, Walter Pidgeon and George Raft, the film fell flat at the box office.

Two years later West’s decline culminated in a series of strokes, and she died on November 22, 1980 from stroke related complications. Two days later her former lover and longtime friend, George Raft, who had co-starred with West in both her first film and her last, died as well, of leukemia. Like Raft, West is memorialized by a Motion Pictures star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Like only a handful of other stars her trademark gestures and phrases (such as “Goodness had nothing to do with it, dearie”, “When I’m bad I’m even better”, and “Come up and see me sometime”) have entered into the pop culture lexicon.

Mae West’s films continue to be released on video and DVD and some of her plays remain in current publication. She continues to be immortalized as well by assorted drag queens and festivals who celebrate her talent and persona. More than 20 years after her death biographies of West continue to abound, including Mae West: An Icon in Black and White by Jill Watts (2003), Becoming Mae Westby Emily Worth Leider (2000), and Mae West: Empress of Sex, by Maurice Leonard (1992). West’s autobiography, Goodness Had Nothing to Do with It, first appeared in 1959 and has been republished a number of times.

 

Cabaret – Required Viewing

cabaret

The Wiki:

Cabaret is a 1972 musical film directed by Bob Fosse and starring Liza Minnelli, Michael York and Joel Grey.[3] The film is set in Berlin during the Weimar Republic in 1931, under the ominous presence of the growing Nazi Party.

The film is loosely based on the 1966 Broadway musical Cabaret by Kander and Ebb, which was adapted from the 1945 book The Berlin Stories by Christopher Isherwood and the 1951 play I Am a Camera which was derived from the same book. Only a few numbers from the stage score were used for the film; Kander and Ebb wrote new ones to replace those that were discarded. In the traditional manner of musical theater, every significant character in the stage version of Cabaret sings to express emotion and advance the plot; but in the film version, the musical numbers are entirely diegetic, and just two of the film’s major characters (The Emcee and Sally) sing songs.

 

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