Happy Birthday Elizabeth Taylor

Today is the 83rd birthday of Elizabeth Taylor.  Everything has already been said and everything should be said about Elizabeth Taylor.  Pick one of her films and watch it and re-fall in love with her.  I can’t even decide which one it should be.  Cat? Place? BUtterfield? Suddenly? Giant? Just watch one.  The world is a better place because she was in it and still feels the loss that she has left.

NAME: Elizabeth Taylor
OCCUPATION: Film Actress
BIRTH DATE: February 27, 1932
DEATH DATE: March 23, 2011
PLACE OF BIRTH: London, England
PLACE OF DEATH: Los Angeles, California
NICKNAME: Liz Taylor
FULL NAME: Dame Elizabeth Rosemond Taylor, DBE

BEST KNOWN FOR: Actress Elizabeth Taylor starred in films like Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and BUtterfield 8, but was just as famous for her violet eyes and scandalous love life.

Elizabeth Rosemond Taylor was born on February 27, 1932, in London, England. One of film’s most celebrated stars, Elizabeth Taylor has fashioned a career that’s covered more than six decades, accepting roles that have not only showcased her beauty, but her ability to take on emotionally charged characters.

Taylor’s American parents, both art dealers, were residing in London when she was born. Soon after the outbreak of World War II, the Taylors returned to the United States and settled into their new life in Los Angeles.

“One problem with people who have no vices is that they’re pretty sure to have some annoying virtues.” – Elizabeth Taylor

Performance was in Taylor’s blood. Her mother had worked as an actress until she married. At the age of 3, the young Taylor started dancing, and eventually gave a recital for Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret. Not long after relocating to California a family friend suggested the Taylors’ daughter take a screen test.

She soon signed a contract with Universal Studios, and made her screen debut at the age of 10 in There’s One Born Every Minute (1942). She followed that up with a bigger role in Lassie Come Home (1943) and later The White Cliffs of Dover (1944).

Her breakout role, however, came in 1944 with National Velvet, in a role Elizabeth Taylor spent four months working to get. The film subsequently turned out to be a huge hit that pulled in more than $4 million and made the 12-year-old actress a huge star.

In the glare of the Hollywood spotlight, the young actress showed she was more than adept at handling celebrity’s tricky terrain. Even more impressive was the fact that, unlike so many child stars before and after her, Taylor proved she could make a seamless transition to more adult roles.

“It would be glamorous to be reincarnated as a great big ring on Liz Taylor’s finger.” – Andy Warhol

Her stunning looks helped. At just 18 she played opposite Spencer Tracy in Father of the Bride (1950). Taylor also showed her acting talents in 1954 with three films: The Last Time I Saw Paris, Rhapsody, and Elephant Walk, the latter of which saw Taylor take on the role of a plantation owner’s wife who is in love with the farm’s manager.

Her personal life only boosted the success of her films. For a time she dated millionaire Howard Hughes, then at the age of 17, Elizabeth Taylor made her first entrance into marriage, when she wed hotel heir, Nicky Hilton.

The union didn’t last long and, in 1952, Taylor was walking down the aisle again—this time to marry actor Michael Welding. In all, Taylor has married eight times during life, including twice to actor Richard Burton.

While her love life continued to make international headlines, Taylor continued to shine showed as an actress.

She delivered a riveting performance in the drama A Place in the Sun, and turned things up even more in 1956 with the film adaptation of the Edna Ferber novel, Giant that co-starred James Dean. Two years later, she sizzled on the big screen in the film adaptation of Tennessee Williams’ Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. The following year, she starred in another Williams classic, Suddenly Last Summer. Taylor earned her first Oscar, capturing the coveted Best Actress award for her role as call girl in BUtterfield 8 (1960).

But Taylor’s fame was also touched by tragedy and loss. In 1958, she became a young widow when her husband, pioneering film producer Mike Todd, was killed in a plane crash. After his death, Taylor became embroiled in one of the greatest Hollywood love scandals of the era when she began an affair with Todd’s close friend, Eddie Fisher. Fisher divorced Debbie Reynolds and married Taylor in 1959. The couple stayed married for five years until she left Fisher for actor Richard Burton.

The public’s obsession with Taylor’s love life hit new heights with her 1964 marriage to Richard Burton. She’d met and fallen in love with the actor during her work on Cleopatra (1963), a film that not only heightened Taylor’s clout and fame, but also proved to be a staggering investment, clocking in at an unprecedented $37 million to make.

The Taylor-Burton union was a fiery and passionate one. They appeared onscreen together in the much-panned The V.I.P.’s (1963), and then again two years later for the heralded Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, a film that earned Taylor her second Oscar for her role as an overweight, angry wife of an alcoholic professor, played by Burton.

The subsequent years proved to be an up-and-down affair for Taylor. There were more marriages, more divorces, health obstacles, and a struggling film career, with movies that gained little traction with critics or the movie-going public.

Still, Taylor continued to act. She found work on television, even making a guest appearance on General Hospital, and on stage. She also began focusing more attention on philanthropy. After her close friend Rock Hudson died in 1985 following his battle with HIV/AIDS, the actress started work to find a cure for the disease. In 1991 she launched the Elizabeth Taylor HIV/AIDS Foundation in order to offer greater support for those who are sick, as well fund research for more advanced treatments.

Largely retired from the world of acting, Taylor received numerous awards for her body of work. In 1993 she received the American Film Institute’s Life Achievement Award. In 2000 she was made Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE).

Taylor overcame a litany of health problems throughout the 90s, from diabetes to congestive heart failure. She had both hips replaced, and in 1997 had a brain tumor removed. In October 2009, Taylor, who has four children, underwent successful heart surgery. In early 2011, Taylor again experienced heart problems.

She was admitted to Cedars-Sinai Hospital in that February for congestive heart failure. On March 23, 2011, Taylor passed away from the condition.

Shortly after her death, her son Michael Wilding released a statement, saying “My mother was an extraordinary woman who lived life to the fullest, with great passion, humor, and love … We will always be inspired by her enduring contribution to our world.”

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Happy Birthday Porfirio Rubirosa

Today is the 105th birthday of Porfirio Rubirosa.  He is quite possibly the last of the famous international playboys.  As a impeccably-dressed multiple-heiress-marrying polo playing race car driver, he set the standard for jet-set men in the mid 20th century.  The world is a better place that he was in it and still feels the loss that he has left it.

Born: January 22, 1909 San Francisco de Macorís, Dominican Republic
Died: July 5, 1965 (aged 56) Paris, France
Occupation: Diplomat, polo player, race car driver

LAST OF THE FAMOUS INTERNATIONAL PLAYBOYS

Porfirio Rubirosa Ariza (January 22, 1909 – July 5, 1965) was a Dominican diplomat and adherent of Rafael Trujillo. He made his mark as an international playboy, for his jet setting lifestyle, and his legendary prowess with women.  Among his spouses were two of the richest women in the world.

Rubirosa was married five times, but never had any children. His wives were:

  • Flor de Oro Trujillo, Rafael Trujillo’s daughter, December 3, 1932-38
  • Danielle Darrieux, French actress, September 18, 1942 – May 21, 1947
  • Doris Duke, American heiress, September 1, 1947 – October 1948; with marital gifts and final settlement he received an alimony ($25,000 per year until remarriage), a fishing fleet off Africa, several sports cars, a converted B-25 bomber (La Ganza), and a 17th Century house at Rue de Bellechasse, Paris.
  • Barbara Hutton, American heiress, December 30, 1953 – on or before March 14, 1954; in the settlement he received a coffee plantation in the Dominican Republic, another B-25, polo ponies, jewelry, and she paid him a reported $2.5 million.
  • Odile Rodin, French actress, age 19, October 27, 1956 – July 5, 1965 (his death)

Why he’s a style icon

Porfirio Rubirosa is the archetypal man’s man. He drove Ferraris at Le Mans, was a champion polo player, flew fighter planes from the South of France to South America for fun, married the two wealthiest women in the world back to back, and set the bar for all other Latin lotharios. While he stood only 5’9″, it was his manhood that made him a legend and the most desired man on the planet. He often described himself as half diplomat (which he actually was, after being appointed to numerous positions by Dominican dictator Generalissimo Trujillo, who happened to be Rubirosa’s first father-in-law) and half gigolo. While he was far too much of a gentleman to make mention of his now-legendary endowment, it is said that this alone caused women the world over to literally drag him into closets, bathrooms and under tables for a sample of what had entranced so many of the most beautiful and powerful women. He never held a steady job, and his goal was never to make money — but rather to spend it. Luckily, when a man can lay claim to romancing Barbara Hutton (a Woolworth heiress), Doris Duke (heiress to a tobacco and energy fortune), Zsa Zsa Gabor, Jayne Mansfield, Ava Gardner, Eva Peron, and countless other wealthy and powerful women, money tends to fall into one’s lap. Even his ex-wives were getting in on the action, as it is rumored that Rubirosa’s second wife, famed French actress Danielle Darrieux, received $1 million from Doris Duke to consent to a divorce so that she could lay a claim to Rubi herself. Has a woman ever paid someone $1 million to get a chance with you? Didn’t think so. At the age of only 47, Rubi died the night his team had won the Coupe de France polo cup. He died when his Ferrari skidded off the road and into a tree, and the steering column went through his heart. A true romantic even in death.

Dress the Rubirosa way

Rubirosa didn’t just act the part of Latin lover, he dressed the part. He was famously seen wearing thin three-piece suits of the finest quality, often with double-breasted jackets. His style of dress was equally influenced by the Latin flair that ran through his veins and the smooth, subtle cool of the Riviera. If you want to emulate Rubi you must remember that despite his generous endowment, he was not a showman and not a braggart, so the look must be quietly confident. In essence, he’s a prime example of “walk softly but carry a big stick.” One way to look like Rubi is to find a pink-gold Rolex like the one mentioned in American Psycho, but an even easier way is to buy a suit from Argentinean boutique Etiqueta Negra, whose polo-inspired flair would have certainly been a favorite of Rubi’s.

World War II, Rubirosa became engaged in two major passions, polo and car racing, both expensive sports that would be supported in years to come by his American wives. He organized and led his own polo team Cibao-La Pampa that was an often successful contender for the Coupe de France cup. Rubirosa played polo until the end of his life. In the same period, Rubirosa started to acquire fast cars and form friendships with race car drivers. He would own a number of Ferraris. His first race at 24 Hours of Le Mans took place in June 1950 with his partner Pierre Leygonie, and his second race, this time with Innocente Baggio, was four years later; in both races his car did not finish. Rubirosa participated in a number of races at Sebring, all but once as a private entry.

Rubirosa died early in the morning on July 5, 1965, when he crashed his Ferrari 250 GT into a chestnut tree and the steering column went through his heart after an all-night celebration at the Paris nightclub “Jimmy’s” in honor of winning the Coupe de France polo cup.  A true romantic even in death.

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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.

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Karl Lagerfeld – Humanity’s Antagonist

History has shown us that you can be a genius and a monster at the same time.  We have examples of the various perversions and mutations of the genius, but I am guessing that genius or not, the monster part is actually more rooted in insecurities.  A genius should be confident in his abilities and talents.  An evil genius may have come by the “genius” title accidentally and his insecurities of being “found out” have caused him to become a notorious asshole.  When you are a monster, no one bothers to get close enough to find out that you are really just an insecure man guarding the secret that he is merely average.  But David Rakoff (as always) says it best.

“All of the designers I have met up to this point have been very nice, although upon being introduced to Karl Lagerfeld, he looks me up and down and dismisses me with the not super-kind, “What can you write that hasn’t been written already?”

He’s absolutely right, I have no idea. I can but try. The only thing I can come up with right now is that Lagerfeld’s powdered white ponytail has dusted the shoulders of his suit with what looks like dandruff but isn’t.  Not having undergone his alarming weight loss yet, seated on a tiny velvet chair, with his large doughy rump dominating the miniature piece of furniture like a loose, flabby, ass-flavored muffin over-risen from its pan, he resembles a Daumier caricature of some corpulent, overfed, inhumane oligarch drawn sitting on a commode, stuffing his greedy throat with the corpses of dead children, while from his other end he shits out huge, malodorous piles of tainted money. How’s that for new and groundbreaking, Mr. L.?”
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

Happy Birthday Rock Hudson

Today is the 98th birthday of the legendary screen heartthrob Rock Hudson.  I once read a recount of how he got his gravely voice.  He was told by movie executives to go up into the mountains and scream until he lost his voice, this damaged his vocal cords in a way that left him with the very low voice he had for his entire career.  I am not sure if it is true, but it is crazy to think that someone would tell a person to do that.  With his legendary good looks and impressive resume of film credits behind him, he publicly announced he had AIDS to the world and took it from being a fringe disease that no one personally knew who had it to being on the cover of People Magazine.  The bravery at the end of his life is an example of true strength of character.  He propelled the image of AIDS mainstream, we all now knew someone with it, it became immediately personal for all of us.  The world is a better place because he was in it and still feels the loss that he has left.

NAME: Rock Hudson
OCCUPATION: Film Actor
BIRTH DATE: November 17, 1925
DEATH DATE: October 02, 1985
PLACE OF BIRTH: Winnetka, Illinois
PLACE OF DEATH: Beverly Hills, California
ORIGINALLY: Roy Harold Scherer, Jr.
AKA: Roy Harold Fitzgerald

BEST KNOWN FOR: Rock Hudson was a leading man of the Hollywood screen in the 1950s and 1960s. His death from AIDS in 1985 greatly increased awareness of the disease.

The Wiki:

Roy Harold Scherer, Jr., later Roy Harold Fitzgerald (November 17, 1925 – October 2, 1985), known professionally as Rock Hudson, was an American film and television actor, most recognized as a romantic leading man during the 1950s and 1960s, most notably in Magnificent Obsession (1954), Giant (1956) and several popular comedies with Doris Day. Later roles included the leads in Ice Station Zebra and the popular televison series McMillan & Wife along with a role in the hugely successful series Dynasty.

Hudson was voted “Star of the Year”, “Favorite Leading Man”, and similar titles by numerous movie magazines. The 6 ft 5 in (1.96 m) tall actor was one of the most popular and well-known movie stars of the time. He completed nearly 70 motion pictures and starred in several television productions during a career that spanned over four decades.

Hudson died in 1985, being the first major celebrity to die from an AIDS-related illness.

Following his death, Elizabeth Taylor, his co-star in the film Giant, purchased a bronze plaque for Hudson on the West Hollywood Memorial Walk.

 

Why He’s a Style Icon

Millions of men would kill for the ability to make women swoon the way Roy Harold Scherer Jr. did on-screen. This actor had the kind of charisma that couldn’t be manufactured. When he changed his name to Rock Hudson, he broke box-office records with his films and TV appearances. But as a child, the actor was never cast for any of the productions that he auditioned for, and he had trouble memorizing his lines. Superstardom didn’t happen overnight. He sent his photos to tons of production companies until he began getting small roles, which led to larger ones. In 1956, he starred in Giant with fellow style icons James Dean and Elizabeth Taylor. His performance got him an Academy Award nod for best actor.

Hudson epitomized classic American style making simple choices with embellished impressions. On-screen, he wooed woman with his manly good looks and suave style. He pre-dated the word “swag” but would have done it justice. The height of Hudson’s career spanned two decades, both of which were probably the most important to menswear. The ’50s and ’60s brought rebels and statement looks, but menswear still catered to the classics. Hudson was no different.

The best thing about Hudson was his effortless style. He used very little in order to create a look — his presence on- and off-screen was the wow factor. Menswear wasn’t complicated or overly thought out. This is what the ’50s and ’60s were about. Consumers and designers both believed in grooming, so clean looks were always in order. This actor knew how to take something as simple as a white linen shirt and pair it with light-blue slacks, an early version of what would probably be referred to as espadrilles, and a basic leather belt to create the perfect everyday outfit. If he looked like he didn’t try that hard, it’s probably because he didn’t.

Dress the Rock Hudson Way

Rock Hudson’s style wasn’t complicated. From his choices, it’s evident that the actor believed in keeping everything simple and to the point. His perspective was classic and minimalist. That didn’t necessarily mean all white and no patterns, but the actor let embellishments accent his look without overpowering his perspective. When shopping or browsing through your closet, look for basic pieces that can be dressed up and down — nothing too over-the-top. Ermenegildo Zegna’s cotton-stretch pants are great for a simplistic, chic look. These pants (available in white at Bergdorf Goodman) give you that extra room for breathing and the stretch element can conform to the body, making them slim or baggy depending on how they are worn. Grooming should be clean and trimmed. Hudson’s style was more dapper than rugged.

Happy Birthday Montgomery Clift

Today would have been Montgomery Clift’s 94th birthday.  His life seemed to be full of super highs and super lows and I think that makes the best life story.  It makes me root for them (even if I know the outcome) and love their humanity, vulnerability, and fragility.  Plus, his best friend was Elizabeth Taylor, the 1950’s Elizabeth Taylor at that.  Have you seen A Place in the Sun or Misfits lately?  Have you seen them ever?  They both have ridiculously talented casts that make them more than worthwhile to watch.

NAME: Edward Montgomery Clift
OCCUPATION: Film Actor
BIRTH DATE: October 17, 1920
DEATH DATE: July 23, 1966
PLACE OF BIRTH: Omaha, Nebraska
PLACE OF DEATH: New York, New York

BEST KNOWN FOR: Actor Montgomery Clift starred in films like Red River (1948), A Place in the Sun (1951), and From Here To Eternity (1953).

Edward Montgomery Clift (October 17, 1920 – July 23, 1966) was an American film and stage actor. The New York Times’ obituary noted his portrayal of “moody, sensitive young men”.

He invariably played outsiders, often “victim-heroes,” – examples include the social climber in George Stevens’s A Place in the Sun, the anguished Catholic priest in Hitchcock’s I Confess, the doomed regular soldier Robert E. Lee Prewitt in Fred Zinnemann‘s From Here to Eternity, and the Jewish GI bullied by antisemites in Edward Dmytryk’s The Young Lions. Later, after a disfiguring car crash in 1956, and alcohol and prescription drug abuse, he became erratic. Nevertheless important roles were still his, including “the reckless, alcoholic, mother-fixated rodeo performer in Huston’s The Misfits, the title role in Huston’s Freud, and the concentration camp victim in Stanley Kramer‘s Judgment at Nuremberg.

Clift received four Academy Award nominations during his career, three for Best Actor and one for Best Supporting Actor.

Rear View Mirror – My Week In Review

This week, I started tracking my physical activity with a fitbit. I have learned that I am a restless sleeper and do not drink enough water. I should also probably run longer.

This week on Waldina, I celebrated the birthdays of Claudette Colbert, Shirley Booth, Molly Ivins, Carol Doda, Iris Apfel, Man Ray, Shirley Manson, and added The Girl Most Likely to to the Required Viewing film series.

The Stats:

Total Posts: 1,252
Total Subscribers: 335
Total All Time Views: 124,041
Total Views This Week: 1,084
This Week’s Most Popular Post: Happy Birthday Shirley Booth

This week on Wasp & Pear on Tumblr, I posted photos of Doris Day, Zelda Fitzgerald, Sophia Loren, On The Waterfront, Yves Saint Laurent, The Goonies, The Maltese Falcon, Treasure Island, Clark Gable, Jean Harlow, vintage Seattle, Vintage Air France posters Louise Brooks, Elizabeth Taylor, abandoned places, Christy Turlington, Kay Thompson, Candy Darling, Dorothy Parker and the art of Keith Haring.

The Stats:

Total Posts: 2,821
Posts This Week: 249
Total Subscribers: 238
Most Popular Post: Happy Birthday Yves Saint Laurent

This week I tweeted from @TheRealSPA my daily fitness stats via fitbit and this:

Seems strange I don’t know a single tatoo artist in Seattle. Any suggestions? #tattoo #seattle

The Stats:

Total Tweets: 278 (automatically deleted after 31 days to preserve freshness)
Total Following: 300
Total Followers: 242

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