Happy Birthday Barbara Stanwyck

Today is the 108th birthday of Barbara Stanwyck.  Born Ruby Stevens, reinvented herself into an internationally-known actress, and stayed in the public eye for 60 years.  Absolutely amazing.  The world is a better place because she was in it and still feels the loss that she has left.

NAME: Barbara Stanwyck
OCCUPATION: Film Actress, Television Actress, Dancer, Pin-up
BIRTH DATE: July 16, 1907
DEATH DATE: January 20, 1990
PLACE OF BIRTH: Brooklyn, New York
PLACE OF DEATH: Santa Monica, California
ORIGINALLY: Ruby Stevens

BEST KNOWN FOR: Barbara Stanwyck was an American actress who had a 60-year career in film and TV. Usually playing strong-willed women, Stanwyck defined the femme fatale.

Film, television and theatre actress Barbara Stanwyck was born Ruby Stevens on July 16, 1907, in Brooklyn, New York. She had a troubled childhood, having become an orphan at the age of 4 after her mother was pushed off of a moving streetcar and killed. Her father failed to cope with the loss of his wife and abandoned his five children.The young Stanwyck—who was raised by her sister, a showgirl—was forced to grow up quickly. She was basically left to fend for herself. At the age of 9, Stanwyck took up smoking. She ended up quitting school five years later. By age 15, she made her way into the entertainment industry after becoming a chorus girl and later made her Broadway debut in 1926 as a cabaret dancer in The Noose. This was shortly after she changed her name to Barbara Stanwyck.
Stanwyck, along with Golden Age actresses like Bette Davis and Joan Crawford, helped to redefine the typical role of women in film. Unlike the damsels in distress and happy housewives often shown in films during this era, Stanwyck a wide range of women, all having their own set of motives and ideals. Some examples of her landmark roles were in Ladies They Talk About (1932) and Annie Oakley (1935)—in which she played the titular role.In 1937, Stanwyck’s talent as an actress was recognized on a grander scale as she was nominated for an Academy Award for her role in Stella Dallas(1937). She would come to be nominated three more times for the films Ball of Fire (1941), Double Indemnity (1944) and Sorry, Wrong Number (1948)—each time for best actress in a leading role—however, she never won the award. In addition to the recognition she received from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for Double Indemnity, she was lauded by critics for having what’s considered one of her greatest roles as seductress and murderer Phyllis Dietrichson in the popular noir film. She did, however, receive an honorary Oscar in 1982. In total she filmed more than 80 films.
As Stanwyck got older, she began making more appearances in television and fewer on film. In the 1952, she made her first television appearance onThe Jack Benny Program (1932-55). She followed with more steady work on TV in series such as Goodyear Theater (1957-60), Zane Grey Theater (1956-61) and The Barbara Stanwyck Show (1960-61), for which she received a Primetime Emmy Award. One of her most memorable roles on TV was in The Big Valley (1965-69), in which she played the lead role as Victoria Barkley.In the 1980s, Stanwyck made several memorable television appearances. She played Mary Carson in the 1983 hit miniseries The Thorn Birds with Richard Chamberlain and Rachel Ward. For portrayal of Ward’s strong-willed grandmother, Stanwyck won both a Golden Globe and an Emmy Award. She returned to prime time two years later with a role on Dynasty and then appeared on the popular drama’s spin-off The Colbys.Stanwyck was a reclusive person outside of acting, much different than the outgoing female characters that she so often played. After marrying comedian Fay, the couple adopted a son together, Dion Anthony Fay in 1932, before they got divorced in 1935 after it was reported that he had a drinking problem. She then married actor Robert Taylor in 1939, and the couple stayed together for a little more than a decade before they got divorced in 1951. She lived the rest of her life alone, preferring work as opposed to social interaction, during her later years.

One of her closest friends was her co-star from the series The Big Valley,Linda Evans. Evans said that after her mother passed, Stanwyck stepped in and took on that absent mother role in her life while they were filming. Stanwyck died a pioneering and often overlooked actress in Santa Monica, California, on January 20, 1990, from congestive heart failure. At her request, no funeral or memorial service was held.Stanwyck made the transition from Broadway to the silver screen in the late-1920s, trying her hand at acting in the film Broadway Nights (1927) as a dancer. The following year, she married comedian Frank Fay and in 1929 she took on a part in the film The Locked Door (1929) before she finished her stage run on Broadway and moved to Hollywood to pursue a career in film. Although Stanwyck’s career in film almost ended before it began with two unrecognized film roles under her belt, she managed to convince director Frank Capra to have a role in his film 1930 film Ladies of Leisure. The film garnered Stanwyck the attention that she desired.
Stanwyck’s role as a woman whose priorities revolved around money first and foremost was only the first in a string of performances that showed a progressive, stronger side of women. After her acting chops were put on display, she was signed to a contract with Columbia and appeared in the filmIllicit (1931). She soon followed with several popular films, including Ten Cents a Dance (1931), Night Nurse (1931) and Forbidden (1932), a film that took Stanwyck to Hollywood’s A-list.

Happy Birthday Ethel Merman

Today is the 107th birthday of Ethel Merman.  I first learned of her when she was on The Muppet Show, it is strange to say that, but the show got so many amazing people and I was at the age.  Even today, New York‘s Time Out magazine has named her the number one top diva of all time, 30 years after her death.  That is staying power, that is Ethel Merman.  The world is a better place because she was in it and still feels the loss that she has left.

NAME: Ethel Merman
OCCUPATION: Theater Actress
BIRTH DATE: January 16, 1908
DEATH DATE: February 15, 1984
EDUCATION: William Cullen Bryant High School
PLACE OF BIRTH: Astoria, New York
PLACE OF DEATH: New York, New York
ORIGINALLY: Ethel Agnes Zimmerman

BEST KNOWN FOR: Ethel Merman is best known as a gutsy, powerful musical comedy performer and remembered for her brassy style and powerful mezzo-soprano voice.

Actress and singer Ethel Merman was born on January 16, 1908, in Astoria, New York. Merman is best known as gutsy, powerful musical comedy performer and remembered for her brassy style and powerful mezzo-soprano voice. She worked as a secretary before making her stage debut in George and Ira Gershwin‘s Girl Crazy (1930). In the 1930s she made her first Hollywood appearance and also starred in her own radio show.

A Broadway favorite, Merman had showstopping, successful performances in Anything Goes (1934), Red, Hot and Blue (1936), Annie Get Your Gun (1946), Call Me Madam (1950), and Gypsy (1959). Merman also appeared in the successful Hollywood film, It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World and appeared on numerous televsion shows.

She was married and divorced four times, including a 32-day marriage to actor Ernest Borgnine.

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Happy Birthday Charo

Today is the 64th birthday of the bigger-than-life entertainer with the bigger-than-life given name that has shortened it to simply “Charo.” She is one of my very favorite Love Boat guest stars. The woman just delivers every time! The world is a better place because Charo is in it.

NAME: Charo
OCCUPATION: Singer, Guitarist, Dancer, Comedian
BIRTH DATE: January 15, 1951
PLACE OF BIRTH: Murcia, Spain
FULL NAME: María del Rosario Pilar Martínez Molina Gutiérrez de los Perales Santa Ana Romanguera y de la Hinojosa Rasten

BEST KNOWN FOR: Charo is a singer, musician and actress best known for her Latin sassiness, sexy outfits and signature phrase during the 1970s, “Cuchi-cuchi.”

Latin singer, musician and actress Charo was born Maria Rosario Pilar Martinez Molina Baeza on January 15, 1951 (though some sources report that she was born on March 13, 1941), in Murcia, Spain.

Known for her long blonde hair, sexy clothes and trademark phrase, “Cuchi-cuchi,” Charo first made a big impression on American audiences in the 1970s. She started out, however, as a serious musician. As a child, she studied classical guitar and was mentored by one of that field’s great performers, Andres Segovia. At the age of 16, Charo was discovered by bandleader Xavier Cugat, and soon joined his orchestra as a singer and dancer.

Despite a more than 40-year age difference, Charo and Cugat wed in 1966. She appeared with him and alone on The Ed Sullivan Show several times in the late 1960s. In Las Vegas, Charo initially performed with her husband and later developed her own popular nightclub act. She made her film debut in Tiger by the Tail (1968) with Tippi Hedren. By the early 1970s, she had begun to break out on her own and continued to make guest appearances on such shows as Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In, The Carol Burnett Show and The Hollywood Squares. Charo was also a regular guest on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. Although she was a versatile performer, she became best known for the sassy Latina with the bubbly personality and bombshell looks. Charo could often be heard uttering her famous catchphrase, “Cuchi-cuchi,” which was usually accompanied by a wiggle of the hips. The phrase came from a childhood pet, a dog named Cuchillo.

Near the end of the decade, Charo seemed to be everywhere. On television, she had her own special in 1976 and appeared on the comedy Chico and the Man with comedian Freddie Prinze for a season and had recurring role on The Love Boat. In addition to acting, Charo also performed a nightclub act and released several records, including La Salsa (1976) and Dance a Little Bit Closer (1978).

This time also meant big changes in her personal life. Charo divorced Cugat in 1978 and married Kjell Rasten that same year. Not long after the birth of their son, Shel Joseph, in 1982, they moved to the Hawaiian island of Kauai. Focused on her family, she scaled back on performing. Along with the occasional appearance, Charo continued to perform locally and owned a restaurant aptly named Charo’s.

Once their son was older, Charo set out to revive her career. She returned to performing and to her beloved guitar for 1994’s Guitar Passion, which did well on the Latin charts. And she attracted a new generation of fans through the VH1 reality show, The Surreal Life, in 2004. While no one has forgotten her humorous stage persona, she does seem to be taken more seriously as a performer, having received positive reviews for her latest album, Charo and Guitar (2007).

Charo lives in Beverly Hills, California, with her husband.

TELEVISION
Chico and the Man Aunt Charo (1977-78)
The Surreal Life Herself (Season 3, 2004)

FILMOGRAPHY AS ACTOR
Thumbelina (30-Mar-1994) · Mrs. Toad [VOICE]
Moon Over Parador (9-Sep-1988) · Madame Loop
Christmas at Pee Wee’s Playhouse (1988) · Herself
The Concorde: Airport ’79 (17-Aug-1979) · Margarita
Tiger by the Tail (1968)

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.

Happy Birthday Charles Nelson Reilly

Today is the 84th birthday of Charles Nelson Reilly.  He studied with Uta Hagen, won three Tony Awards, wore some of the largest eyeglasses I have ever seen, and made millions laugh.  The world is better off because Charles was in it and still feels the loss that he has left.

Charles nelson r

NAME: Charles Nelson Reilly
OCCUPATION: Film Actor, Theater Actor, Television Actor, Director, Television Personality
BIRTH DATE: January 13, 1931
DEATH DATE: May 25, 2007
EDUCATION: Hartt School of Music
PLACE OF BIRTH: South Bronx, New York
PLACE OF DEATH: Los Angeles, California

BEST KNOWN FOR: Charles Nelson Reilly was a Tony-Award winning actor also known for a variety of roles on TV programs, including The Ghost and Mrs. Muir and The Match Game.

Charles Nelson Reilly was born on January 13, 1931, in the South Bronx, New York. Known to many for his numerous television guest appearances on such shows as Match Game, Hollywood Squares and The Tonight Show, Reilly was also an accomplished stage actor and director. After spending some of his early years in the Bronx, he moved with his Swedish-born mother to Hartford, Connecticut, to live with some of her relatives. Reilly showed an interest in theater early on and worked as an usher in a local theater.

Around the age of 18, Reilly moved to New York City to study with Uta Hagen and her husband Herbert Berghof at their acting school, HB Studio. He landed his first Broadway stage role in the original production of the musical Bye, Bye Birdie (1960) with Dick Van Dyke, Chita Rivera and Paul Lynde. Taking on a more substantial part, Reilly appeared in How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying in 1961, earning a Tony Award for his performance as Bud Frump, the lackadaisical nephew of the company president and the nemesis of the lead character, J. Pierrepont Finch.

Continuing his success on the Broadway stage, Reilly received another Tony Award nomination for his work on the musical Hello, Dolly! in 1964. By the end of the 1960s, however, he made the move to California to co-star in the supernatural comedy television series The Ghost and Mrs. Muir with Hope Lange and Edward Mulhare. Reilly later appeared as a regular on Dean Martin Presents in 1970. The following season he appeared on the short-lived sitcom Arnie.

In 1973, Reilly began making appearances on such games shows as Match Game ’73 (which later became Match Game PM and then The Match Game) as well as lending his distinct, nasal-sounding voice to the animated adaptation of the E. B. White novel, Charlotte’s Web. Reilly found time for stage work, directing Julie Harris in the one-woman show about Emily Dickinson, The Belle of Amherst in 1976. Again working with Harris, he directed the 1979 comedy Break a Leg. But his talents as a director and serious actor were often lost in the shadow of his wacky, witty television persona. While his serious theatrical career may have suffered, Reilly remained a popular guest on game shows and talk shows, making more than 90 appearances on The Tonight Show alone.

Along with his television work, Reilly had roles in a few films as well as voiced some characters for animated films.

He appeared with friend Burt Reynolds in Cannonball Run II (1984) and voiced the dog Killer in All Dogs Go to Heaven (1989). A well-regarded acting teacher for years, he also returned to stage work. He starred in the 1980 play Charlotte and directed the original comedy The Nerd, starring Mark Hamill.

In the later part of his career, Reilly continued to work on television and the stage. He made numerous guest appearances on such programs as The X Files and The Drew Carey Show and lent his voice to several animated series, including Hercules and SpongeBob SquarePants. In 1997, he received his third Tony Award nomination for his direction of a revival of The Gin Game starring Julie Harris and Charles Durning. Reilly himself became the subject of one of his final productions – Save It for the Stage: The Life of Reilly. He began performing his autobiographical one-man show in 2000.

Charles Nelson Reilly died of complications from pneumonia on May 25, 2007, in Los Angeles, California. He was survived by his partner, Patrick Hughes. Around the time of his death, friend and director of Reilly’s one-man play, Paul Linke, told the Los Angeles Times, “The world is a slightly less funny place now. He made people laugh along the way, and that’s a legacy that lives on long after the game shows.”

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Happy Birthday Christy Turlington

Today is the 46th birthday of Christy Turlington.  She has taken her luck of the gene pool and used it to make the world a better place. It was never in question that she has been a beautiful person for as long as we can remember and we are learning that her beauty emanates from deep inside her.

NAME: Christy Turlington
OCCUPATION: Model
BIRTH DATE: January 02, 1969
EDUCATION: University of California, Los Angeles, New York University
PLACE OF BIRTH: Walnut Creek, California

BEST KNOWN FOR: Christy Turlington is one of America’s most successful models. Best known for her work for Maybelline, she has appeared on more than 300 magazine covers.

Christy Turlington Burns  is an American model best known for representing Calvin Klein for an unheard of 20 years (1987 to 2007). She has worked on dozens of modeling contracts with companies including Maybelline Cosmetics and Versace. Turlington starred in her fashion documentary Catwalk and Isaac Mizrahi’s Unzipped. She was added on as the fourth model investor, after Elle Macpherson, Naomi Campbell and Claudia Schiffer of the now defunct Fashion Cafes.

In 2005, she began working with the international humanitarian organization CARE and has since become their Advocate for Maternal Health. She has also been an Ambassador for (RED) since their launch in 2006.  Her work on behalf of CARE and (RED) inspired her to pursue a Masters in Public Health at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health.

In 2008, Turlington began working on a documentary film, No Woman, No Cry, profiling the status of maternal health worldwide.  The film, Turlington’s directorial debut, tells the stories of at-risk pregnant women in four parts of the world, including a remote Maasai tribe in Tanzania, a slum of Bangladesh, a post-abortion care ward in Guatemala, and a prenatal clinic in the United States.  No Woman, No Cry made its world premiere at the 2010 Tribeca Film Festival in New York City, and the US television broadcast premiere aired on the new Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) on May 7, 2011.  The documentary earned Turlington a nomination for the Do Something With Style Award from the VH1 Do Something Awards.  Concurrent with the debut of her documentary, Turlington launched ‘Every Mother Counts’, an action and mobilization campaign designed to educate and support maternal, newborn and child health.  Christy currently serves on the Harvard Medical School Global Health Council and as an advisor to the Harvard School of Public Health Board of Dean’s Advisors, Mother’s Day Every Day and the White Ribbon Alliance.

She recently completed her first ING NYC Marathon, running with Team Every Mother Counts to raise awareness for maternal and child health.

Happy Birthday Henry Miller

Today is the 123rd birthday of the author Henry Miller.  I first was introduced to him through Arthur Miller, they were practically next to each other in the library stacks.  His books are challenging and require a laser-beam attention, but all the more worth it.  The world is a better place because Henry was in it and still feels the loss that he has left.

henry miller 1

NAME:  Henry Miller
OCCUPATION:  Author
BIRTH DATE:  December 26, 1891
DEATH DATE:  June 7, 1980
PLACE OF BIRTH:  Yorkville, New York
PLACE OF DEATHPacific Palisades, California

BEST KNOWN FOR: Henry Miller was a 20th century American writer, who created a new sort of novel—later characterized as a fictionalized autobiography.

American writer Henry Valentine Miller was born to German-American parents on December 26, 1891 in Yorkville, Manhattan, New York City. Along with younger sister Lauretta, Miller grew up in a working-class environment in Brooklyn. His father, Heinrich, was from Bavaria, Germany, and worked as a tailor. At a young age, Miller often spent time working in his father’s shop. He would later describe his childhood as a difficult period in which he learned how to live in “the streets.”

Miller was an exceptionally bright student, developing an early passion for reading. He particularly enjoyed adventure stories and literary classics. After graduating from high school, he enrolled at the City College of New York, but left after two months because he disagreed with the traditional college system of education. For 15 years, Miller tried his hand at several different odd jobs. During that period, he also focused on writing.

Following a difficult period in his personal life, including two unsuccessful marriages, Miller traveled to Paris, France in hopes of fulfilling his dream of being a writer. Although he had little money, he spent the next ten years (1930 to 1940) writing some of his most well-known early works. He was financially supported at that time by French novelist Anais Nin, with whom Miller allegedly had an affair.

In 1934, Miller composed Tropic of Cancer, a semi-autobiographical account of his experiences in Paris. He followed with Tropic of Capricorn in 1936. Due to their explicit sexual passages, both books were banned in the United States for nearly three decades. The publicity, however, helped bring Miller to fame, and the books became best-sellers. His later novels include Black Spring (1936), The Colossus of Maroussi (1941) and Henry and June (1990), all of which are based on his own personal experiences.

In 1940, Miller returned to America, settling on California’s Pacific Coast. During that time, he offered comedic and often critical views of the United States in The Air-Conditioned Nightmare (1945), Remember to Remember (1947) and Big Sur and the Oranges of Hieronymus Bosch (1958). His trilogy, The Rosy Crucifixion (1965), chronicled the struggles of an American writer trying to find success. Frequently shocking and offending critics, Miller’s freedom of language and his ability to convey an honest truth opened the way for the “Beat Generation.”

Miller was married five times. He had one son, Henry, and two daughters, Barbara and Valentine. Miller died of circulatory problems on June 7, 1980, at the age of 88, in Pacific Palisades, California. Prior to his death, Miller had begun working with actor and director Warren Beatty on the film Reds, starring Beatty, who also directed the film. Reds centers on a politically radical American journalist who covers the Russian Revolution prior to World War I. Miller played a witness in the film, which was released in late 1981.

Author of books:
Tropic of Cancer (1934, novel)
Tropic of Capricorn (1936, novel)
Black Spring (1936)
The Colossus of Maroussi (1941)
The Air-Conditioned Nightmare (1945)
Quiet Days in Clichy (1956)
Big Sur and the Oranges of Hieronymus Bosch (1957)