Happy Birthday Clark Gable

Today is the 114th birthday of one of the greatest actors of the golden age of Hollywood:  Clark Gable.  Do yourself a favor and watch one of his movies soon, if you can’t decide which one, watch “The Misfits.”  It was written by Arthur Miller, directed by John Huston and also stars Marilyn Monroe, Montgomery Clift, Thelma Ritter and Eli Wallach.  “The Misfits” was the final screen appearance of both Gable and Monroe.  The world is a better place because he was in it and still feels the loss that he has left.

NAME: Clark Gable
OCCUPATION: Film Actor
BIRTH DATE: February 01, 1901
DEATH DATE: November 16, 1960
PLACE OF BIRTH: Cadiz, Ohio
PLACE OF DEATH: Hollywood, California
Full Name: William Clark Gable
AKA: Clark Gable

Best Known For:  Dubbed “King of Hollywood,” Gone with the Wind actor Clark Gable epitomized Hollywood’s Golden Age, and was a legend for his on- and off-screen romances.

William Clark Gable was born February 1, 1901, in Cadiz, Ohio. His father was an oil driller and farmer; his mother died when he was an infant.

Gable dropped out of high school at 16 and went to work at a tire factory in Akron, Ohio. One evening he saw a play and enjoyed it so much that he decided to become an actor. He tried to work his way in by taking an unpaid job with a theater company, but his dream was temporarily derailed when his stepmother died in 1919 and he went to help his father in the oilfields of Oklahoma.

After three years there, he joined a traveling theater company, which quickly went bankrupt, leaving Gable stranded in Montana. He hitchhiked to Oregon and joined another company, where he met Josephine Dillon, the theater manager. Dillon, a former actress and respected theater teacher 17 years his senior, took an interest in Gable. She became his acting coach and paid to have his teeth fixed and his hair and eyebrows styled. Before long they were married, and Gable and Dillon moved to Hollywood, California.

Gable worked as an extra in Hollywood before turning his attention to the theater, first in traveling productions and then in the Broadway play Machinal, for which he got good reviews. After it wrapped, he returned back to California and appeared in a stage production of The Last Mile.

Back in Hollywood, Gable was rejected at screen tests because casting agents thought his ears were too big for a leading man. He managed to land his first speaking role in a movie in The Painted Desert in 1931, and after seeing him on the big screen, MGM offered him a contract. His first leading role was in Dance, Fools, Dance, with Joan Crawford. Gable was a hit, and the studio began casting him as a roughneck villain opposite starlets including Jean Harlow, Greta Garbo and Norma Shearer. By year’s end, he had made a dozen films and launched his career as a leading man. Ultimately, though, he became sick of playing the bad guy and made his displeasure known.

During the filming of Dancing Lady in 1933, Gable developed pyorrhea, an infection in his gums that required immediate removal of nearly all his teeth. The infection spread through his body and reached his gallbladder, and he was hospitalized. Because of delays in filming and necessary reshoots due to Gable’s illness, the film ran $150,000 over budget. When he returned to work, MGM loaned him to the then-low-budget Columbia Pictures for a Frank Capra comedy, It Happened One Night. It was widely rumored to have been punishment for either his bad attitude about his parts or the difficulty in shooting his last film, but in truth, MGM simply didn’t have a project for him. He ended up winning an Academy Award for It Happened One Night, and having shown his range, began being cast in a wider variety of roles.

By now, Gable was one of the biggest stars in Hollywood, and he churned out a series of successful movies like Boomtown, San Francisco and Mutiny on the Bounty. In 1939 he appeared as Rhett Butler in his best-known film, the civil-war epic Gone with the Wind. He was dubbed the “King of Hollywood,” and was a symbol of masculinity, admired by men and adored by women.

Then, during filming of Somewhere I’ll Find You with Lana Turner in 1942, tragedy struck. Carole Lombard, Gable’s third wife and the love of his life, died in a plane crash. He was devastated. Disconsolate, he enlisted in the Army Air Force at age 41. He served as a tail-gunner on five bombing missions over Germany and made a propaganda film for the Army.

After his discharge in 1944, he returned to the big screen in Adventure. Though it was a lackluster flick, Gable’s return to film had people flocking to the box office. He continued to make movies with MGM, including Mogambo with Ava Gardner and Grace Kelly, but his career never regained the same momentum. Still, when his studio contract expired in 1954, he became the highest-paid freelance actor of his day.

Gable’s status as a legend carried him, and he consistently made at least one movie a year, most notably Soldier of Fortune and The Tall Men. He gave what is considered to be one of his finest performances in The Misfits with Marilyn Monroe and Montgomery Clift, but he never got to enjoy its success: Two days after they completed filming, Clark Gable suffered a heart attack. He died November 16, 1960.

Gable was a ladies’ man both on and off screen, and he was married five times over the course of his life. His wives included his first theater director Josephine Dillon, socialite Rhea Langham, actress Carole Lombard, Lady Sylvia Ashley and actress Kay Williams Spreckels. Spreckels and Gable had one son, John Clark Gable, who was born after Gable’s death.

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Happy Birthday Tallulah Bankhead

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

 

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

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

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

Personal Quotes:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Happy Birthday David Lynch

Today is the 69th birthday of David Lynch.  He is the only living director that I will see anything he does.  He makes films that are so achingly beautiful and moderately disturbing that compel me to watch and re-watch them, every time, I see something new.  The world is a better place because he is in it.

NAME: David Lynch
OCCUPATION: Director
BIRTH DATE: January 20, 1946
PLACE OF BIRTH: Missoula, Montana

BEST KNOWN FOR:  David Lynch is a film director and screenwriter known for his dark, offbeat films, notable Blue Velvet and Eraserhead.

David Keith Lynch (born January 20, 1946) is an American filmmaker, television director, visual artist, musician and occasional actor. Known for his surrealist films, he has developed his own unique cinematic style, which has been dubbed “Lynchian“, and which is characterized by its dream imagery and meticulous sound design. The surreal, and in many cases violent, elements to his films have earned them the reputation that they “disturb, offend or mystify” their audiences.

Born to a middle class family in Missoula, Montana, Lynch spent his childhood traveling around the United States, before going on to study painting at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia, where he first made the transition to producing short films. Deciding to devote himself more fully to this medium, he moved to Los Angeles, where he produced his first motion picture, the surrealist horror Eraserhead (1977). After Eraserhead became a cult classic on the midnight movie circuit, Lynch was employed to direct The Elephant Man (1980), from which he gained mainstream success. Then being employed by the De Laurentiis Entertainment Group, he proceeded to make two films: the science-fiction epic Dune (1984), which proved to be a critical and commercial failure, and then a neo-noir crime film, Blue Velvet (1986), which was highly critically acclaimed.

Proceeding to create his own television series with Mark Frost, the highly popular murder mystery Twin Peaks (1990–1992), he also created a cinematic prequel, Fire Walk With Me (1992); a road movie, Wild at Heart (1990) and a family film, The Straight Story (1999), in the same period. Turning further towards surrealist filmmaking, three of his following films worked on “dream logic” non-linear narrative structures, Lost Highway (1997), Mulholland Drive (2001) and Inland Empire (2006). Meanwhile, Lynch proceeded to embrace the internet as a medium, producing several web-based shows, such as the animation Dumbland (2002) and the surreal sitcom Rabbits (2002).

In the course of his career, Lynch has received three Academy Award nominations for Best Director, and a nomination for best screenplay. Lynch has twice won France’s César Award for Best Foreign Film, as well as the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival and a Golden Lion award for lifetime achievement at the Venice Film Festival. The French government awarded him the Legion of Honor, the country’s top civilian honor, as a Chevalier in 2002 and then an Officier in 2007, while that same year, The Guardian described Lynch as “the most important director of this era”. Allmovie called him “the Renaissance man of modern American filmmaking”, whilst the success of his films have led to him being labelled “the first popular Surrealist.”

Lynch is an avid coffee drinker and even has his own line of special organic blends available for purchase on his website. Called “David Lynch Signature Cup”, the coffee has been advertised via flyers included with several recent Lynch-related DVD releases, including Inland Empire and the Gold Box edition of Twin Peaks. The possibly self-mocking tag-line for the brand is “It’s all in the beans … and I’m just full of beans.” This is also a quote of a line said by Justin Theroux’s character in Inland Empire.

TELEVISION
Twin Peaks Creator/Director (1990-91)
Twin Peaks FBI Chief Gordon Cole (1990-91)
On the Air Director/Writer/Producer (1992)
Hotel Room Director/Producer (1993)

FILMOGRAPHY AS DIRECTOR
Inland Empire (6-Sep-2006)
Rabbits (2002)
Mulholland Dr. (16-May-2001)
The Straight Story (21-May-1999)
Lost Highway (21-Feb-1997)
Lumière and Company (20-Dec-1995)
Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me (28-Aug-1992)
Wild at Heart (17-Aug-1990)
Industrial Symphony No. 1: The Dream of the Broken Hearted (1990)
Blue Velvet (19-Sep-1986)
Dune (14-Dec-1984)
The Elephant Man (3-Oct-1980)
Eraserhead (17-Mar-1977)

FILMOGRAPHY AS ACTOR
Harry Dean Stanton: Partly Fiction (4-Sep-2012) · Himself
Side by Side (Feb-2012) · Himself
Pearl Jam Twenty (10-Sep-2011) · Himself
Great Directors (19-May-2009) · Himself
Lynch (23-Jun-2007) · Himself
Midnight Movies: From the Margin to the Mainstream (13-May-2005) · Himself
Lumière and Company (20-Dec-1995) · Himself
Nadja (13-Sep-1994)
Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me (28-Aug-1992)
Zelly and Me (15-Apr-1988)

 

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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 Cary Grant

Today is Cary Grant’s 111th birthday.  It is no secret I love Cary Grant.  The quote on the top of my blog is from him and applies to me as much as it applied to him.  I long to have a mid-century mid-atlantic accent, to have effortless style, and to have a wit as sharp as my wardrobe.  He is everything a woman wants to have and everything a man wants to be.  Some of my favorite Cary Grant movies are The Awful Truth, Bringing up Baby, Holiday, His Girl Friday, The Philadelphia Story, Arsenic and Old Lace, Notorious, The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer, Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House, People Will Talk, To Catch a Thief, Houseboat, North by Northwest, That Touch of Mink, Charade, and Father Goose.  I know, that is a long list and contains most of his movies, I said I loved him.  The world is a better place because Cary Grant was in it and still feels the loss that he has left.

 

NAME: Cary Grant
OCCUPATION: Film Actor
BIRTH DATE: January 18, 1904
DEATH DATE: December 29, 1986
PLACE OF BIRTH: Bristol, England
PLACE OF DEATH: Davenport, Iowa

BEST KNOWN FOR: Actor Cary Grant performed in films from the 1930s through the 1960s. He starred in several Hitchcock films, including the 1959 hit North by Northwest.

Born Archibald Alexander Leach, better known by his stage name Cary Grant, was an English actor who later took U.S. citizenship. Known for his transatlantic accent, debonair demeanor and “dashing good looks”, Grant is considered one of classic Hollywood’s definitive leading men.

Grant was named the second Greatest Male Star of All Time by the American Film Institute. Noted particularly for his work in comedy but also for drama, Grant’s best-known films include The Awful Truth (1937), Bringing Up Baby (1938), Gunga Din (1939), The Philadelphia Story (1940), His Girl Friday (1940), Arsenic and Old Lace (1944), Notorious (1946), To Catch A Thief (1955), An Affair to Remember (1957), North by Northwest (1959) and Charade (1963).

Nominated twice for the Academy Award for Best Actor, for Penny Serenade (1941) and None But the Lonely Heart (1944), and five times for a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor, Grant was continually passed over, and in 1970 was given an Honorary Oscar at the 42nd Academy Awards. Frank Sinatra presented Grant with the award, “for his unique mastery of the art of screen acting with the respect and affection of his colleagues”.

I’ve often been accused by the critics of being myself on the screen. But being oneself is more difficult than you’d suppose.

Grant was a favorite of Hitchcock, who called him “the only actor I ever loved in my whole life”. Besides Suspicion, Grant appeared in the Hitchcock classics Notorious (1946), To Catch a Thief (1955) and North by Northwest (1959). Biographer Patrick McGilligan wrote that, in 1965, Hitchcock asked Grant to star in Torn Curtain (1966), only to learn that Grant had decided to retire after making one more film, Walk, Don’t Run (1966); Paul Newman was cast instead, opposite Julie Andrews.

In the mid-1950s, Grant formed his own production company, Granart Productions, and produced a number of movies distributed by Universal, such as Operation Petticoat (1959), Indiscreet (1958), That Touch of Mink (co-starring with Doris Day, 1962), and Father Goose (1964). In 1963, he appeared opposite Audrey Hepburn in Charade. His last feature film was Walk, Don’t Run three years later, with Samantha Eggar and Jim Hutton.

American Masters Online presents a sampling of witticisms, one liners, and knock-out dialog from Cary Grant, the characters he played, and some of his best known co-stars.

BRINGING UP BABY
David Huxley: Now it isn’t that I don’t like you, Susan, because, after all, in moments of quiet, I’m strangely drawn toward you, but – well, there haven’t been any quiet moments.

THE PHILADELPHIA STORY
C. K. Dexter Haven: Sometimes, for your own sake, Red, I think you should’ve stuck to me longer.
Tracy Lord: I thought it was for life, but the nice judge gave me a full pardon.
C. K. Dexter Haven: Aaah, that’s the old redhead. No bitterness, no recrimination, just a good swift left to the jaw.

NORTH BY NORTHWEST
Roger Thornhill: Now you listen to me, I’m an advertising man, not a red herring. I’ve got a job, a secretary, a mother, two ex-wives and several bartenders that depend upon me, and I don’t intend to disappoint them all by getting myself “slightly” killed.

CHARADE
Regina Lampert: I already know an awful lot of people and until one of them dies I couldn’t possibly meet anyone else.
Peter Joshua: Well, if anyone goes on the critical list, let me know.

CARY GRANT ON CARY GRANT
“I pretended to be somebody I wanted to be until finally I became that person. Or he became me.”

“My formula for living is quite simple. I get up in the morning and I go to bed at night. In between, I occupy myself as best I can.”

“Everyone wants to be Cary Grant. Even I want to be Cary Grant.”

WHY HE’S A STYLE ICON

Selecting Cary Grant as a style icon is hardly groundbreaking. He’s considered by many to be the most influential dresser of all time. However, this dashing leading man wasn’t born on Hollywood’s red carpet. It all started when an uneducated Archibald Leach from working-class Bristol became a troupe-touring teenage stilt-walker in the U.S. and decided to permanently leave England behind to pursue a stateside stage career. Naturally, good looks didn’t hurt his case for being written into history’s fashion annals. However, it takes real bravado to completely reinvent yourself. Grant realized that in order to transform from a peon into a prince, he needed not only to change his name, but also to dress the part.

Grant’s initial fashion inspiration was fellow style icon Fred Astaire whose look was defined by bold, bright colors as well as an expert integration of the casual with the formal. In the end, you would be hard-pressed to find two men more opposite on the style spectrum. Grant eventually developed a subdued, monochromatic aesthetic where the focus was on fit and proportion rather than quirky color. The lines of his suits, shirts and shoes all blended together in harmony to draw your eye to the real moneymaker: his movie-star face. But like everyone else, Grant had some serious flaws, like a broad neck and oversize head. He often wore shirt collars turned up to disguise his neck, and his suits and topcoats were tailored with padded shoulders that were wide-set and squared-off to match the proportion of his massive mug. Turning flaws into fashion: that’s what sets Grant apart from everyone else.

DRESS THE GRANT WAY

You don’t need celebrity looks to learn a thing or two from Cary Grant. His sense of style is so revered that an entire book Cary Grant: A Celebration of Style is devoted to discussing it. You have to ask yourself: What could a man who became famous over half a century ago teach the modern guy about how to dress today? In short; everything. Cary Grant is a style icon because he is timeless and perhaps more relevant than ever in an age where slovenliness and bad behavior can lead to fame. Grant was definitely a suit-and-tie guy, and even his casual looks often included an ascot. However, every man — yes, even the bad boys — should own at least one good suit like the Topman Special Edition Grey Suit. Forget about color and pattern and look for a suit that simply fits your frame. A slimmer-cut jacket with equally trim trousers makes just about every guy look like a star regardless of the size and shape nature gave you. Grant typically opted for a single, inverted pant pleat, but a flat-front trouser is optimal for looking fit even if you’re lugging around a few extra pounds. Grant also wore his jacket sleeves high to expose about ¾ of an inch of bright white cuff. It’s a subtle detail, but striking enough that it almost reads as an accessory. It’s the mark of someone who truly understands fit and fine tailoring, and Grant did it all before celebrity stylists even existed.

 

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Happy Birthday Dian Fossey

Today is the 83rd birthday of the zoologist Dian Fossey.  She is the reason that we know more about gorillas than we used to and that we value them more than we used to.  The world is a better place because Dian was in it, needs more people like Dian in it, and still feels the loss that she has left it.

NAME: Dian Fossey
OCCUPATION: Anthropologist, Zoologist
BIRTH DATE: January 16, 1932
DEATH DATE: December 26, 1985
EDUCATION: Cambridge University
PLACE OF BIRTH: San Francisco, California
PLACE OF DEATH: Volcanoes National park, Rwanda

BEST KNOWN FOR: Zoologist Dian Fossey was one of the foremost primate researchers in the world who for 18 years studied of a group of gorillas in Rwanda.

Primatologist and naturalist. Born on January 16, 1932, in San Francisco, California. Dian Fossey enriched our understanding of gorillas through her intense study of these animals from the 1960s to 1980s. She was interested in animals from childhood, but changed college courses from pre-veterinary studies to occupational therapy.

Dian Fossey moved to Louisville, Kentucky, to be director of the Kosair Crippled Children’s Hospital occupational therapy department in 1955. But she soon became restless and dreamed of traveling to Africa. On her first trip to Africa in 1963, Fossey met palaeontologists Mary and Louis Leakey, who encouraged her dream to live and work with mountain gorillas.

In 1966, Dian Fossey caught up with Louis Leakey at a lecture in Louisville, and he invited her to study the mountain gorillas in Africa. She accepted his offer and lived among the mountain gorillas in the Democratic Republic of Congo until civil war forced her to escape to Rwanda.

Dian Fossey established the Karisoke Research Foundation in 1967, alternating her time between her fieldwork there and obtaining a Ph.D. based on her research at Cambridge University. She earned her degree in 1976 and later accepted a visiting associate professorship at Cornell University. In 1983, her book, Gorillas in the Mist, was published and became a best seller. A film with the same name was also released in 1988 starring Sigourney Weaver as Fossey.

Considered the world’s leading authority on the physiology and behavior of mountain gorillas, Dian Fossey fought hard to protect these “gentle giants” from environmental and human hazards. She saw these animals as dignified, highly social creatures with individual personalities and strong family relationships. Her active conservationist stand to save these animals from game wardens, zoo poachers, and government officials who wanted to convert gorilla habitats to farmland caused her to fight for the gorillas not only via the media, but also by destroying poachers’ dogs and traps. On December 26, 1985, Fossey was found hacked to death, presumably by poachers, in her Rwandan forest camp. No assailant has ever been found or prosecuted in her murder.

Dian Fossey strongly opposed tourism, as gorillas are very susceptible to diseases by humans like the flu for which they have no immunity. Dian Fossey reported several cases in which gorillas died because of diseases spread by tourists. She also viewed tourism as an interference into their natural wild behavior. Fossey also criticized tourist programs, often paid for by international conservation organizations, for interfering with both her research and the peace of the mountain gorillas’ habitat.

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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