Happy Birthday Diego Rivera

Today is the 128th birthday of the artist Diego Rivera.  His full name is a sentence.  I first experienced Diego Rivera at Interlochen Center for the Arts when I stumbled across a book of his work in the library.  I used to go to the library a lot in the summertime, it was cool and quiet and a nice place to read for a couple hours.  My aunt was the librarian, so that was nice.  I remember looking at the photographs of his murals and reading the dimensions and being absolutely amazed.  I remember loving the complexity in his artistry of simple subjects.  It is like he took his time to honor every detail of the task of bundling this basket of produce, it just was so wonderful to understand that art was partially bringing light to and celebrating the every day existence of everyone.  It became much more accessible and personal.  The world is a better place because Diego was in it and still feels the loss that he has left.

NAME: Diego Rivera
OCCUPATION: Painter
BIRTH DATE: December 08, 1886
DEATH DATE: November 24, 1957
EDUCATION: San Carlos Academy of Fine Arts
PLACE OF BIRTH: Guanajuato, Mexico
PLACE OF DEATH: Mexico City, Mexico

Diego María de la Concepción Juan Nepomuceno Estanislao de la Rivera y Barrientos Acosta y Rodríguez (December 8, 1886 – November 24, 1957) better known simply as Diego Rivera was a prominent Mexican painter born in Guanajuato, Guanajuato, an active communist, and husband of Frida Kahlo (1929–1939 and 1940–1954). His large wall works in fresco helped establish the Mexican Mural Movement in Mexican art. Between 1922 and 1953, Rivera painted murals among others in Mexico City, Chapingo, Cuernavaca, San Francisco, Detroit, and New York City.[1] In 1931, a retrospective exhibition of his works was held at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.

Rivera was an atheist. His mural Dreams of a Sunday in the Alameda depicted Ignacio Ramírez holding a sign which read, “God does not exist”. This work caused a furor, but Rivera refused to remove the inscription. The painting was not shown for 9 years – until Rivera agreed to remove the inscription. He stated: “To affirm ‘God does not exist’, I do not have to hide behind Don Ignacio Ramírez; I am an atheist and I consider religions to be a form of collective neurosis.”

Happy Birthday Diane Ladd

Today is the 82nd Birthday of the amazing actress Diane Ladd.  Wiki and IMDB say her birth year is 1932 and Biography.com says it’s 1942.  It doesn’t matter.  She has has a long career full of amazing work, but if you only see one film, see “Wild at Heart.”  You will want to see everything she has ever done.

NAME: Diane Ladd
OCCUPATION: Film Actress
BIRTH DATE: November 29, 1932
EDUCATION: Louisiana State University
PLACE OF BIRTH: Laurel, Mississippi
ORIGINALLY: Rose Diane Ladnier

BEST KNOWN FOR: Diane Lane is a Golden Globe–winning actress of films and TV and the mother of actress Laura Dern.

Diane Ladd  is an American actress, film director, producer and published author. She has appeared in over 120 roles, on television, and in miniseries and feature films, including Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore (1974), Wild at Heart (1990), Rambling Rose (1991), Ghosts of Mississippi, Primary Colors, 28 Days (2000), and American Cowslip (2008). Twice divorced and currently married, Ladd is the mother of actress Laura Dern by ex-husband actor Bruce Dern.

Ladd was born Rose Diane Ladner in Meridian, Mississippi in 1932, the only child of Mary Bernadette (née Anderson; August 15, 1912 – May 23, 2002), a housewife and actress, and Preston Paul Ladner (August 14, 1906 – April 1982), a poulterer. Ladd is a second cousin of playwright Tennessee Williams and is also related to poet Sidney Lanier.  Ladd was raised in the Roman Catholic faith of her mother.

Ladd was formerly married to actor and one-time co-star Bruce Dern from 1960–1969; the couple had two children, Diane Elizabeth Dern and actress Laura Elizabeth Dern. Diane died at 18 months from head injuries caused by falling into a swimming pool.  Ladd and Laura Dern co-starred in the films Wild at Heart and Rambling Rose.  They also appeared together in Inland Empire, another film by David Lynch.  They currently co-star on the HBO series Enlightened. Ladd is now married to Robert Charles Hunter.

In 1971, Ladd joined the cast of the CBS soap opera, The Secret Storm.  She was the second actress to play the role of Kitty Styles on the long-running daytime serial.  She later had a supporting role in Roman Polanski’s 1974 film Chinatown, and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role for her role as Flo in the film Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore.  That film inspired the TV series Alice, in which Flo was portrayed by Polly Holliday.  When Holliday left the TV series, Ladd succeeded her as waitress Isabelle “Belle” Dupree.  In 1993, Ladd appeared in the episode “Guess Who’s Coming to Chow?” of the CBS comedy/western series Harts of the West in the role of the mother of co-star Harley Jane Kozak. The 15-episode program, set on a dude ranch in Nevada starred Beau Bridges and Lloyd Bridges.

In 2004, Ladd played psychic Mrs. Druse in the television miniseries of Stephen King’s Kingdom Hospital. In April 2006, Ladd released her first book entitled: Spiraling Through The School Of Life: A Mental, Physical, and Spiritual Discovery. In 2007, she co-starred in the Lifetime Television film Montana Sky.

In addition to her Academy Award nomination for Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore, she was also nominated (again in the Best Actress in a Supporting Role category) for both Wild at Heart and Rambling Rose, both of which she starred alongside her daughter Laura Dern.  Dern received a nomination for Best Actress for Rambling Rose. The dual mother and daughter nominations for Ladd and Dern in Rambling Rose marked the first time in Academy Award history that such an event had occurred.  They were also nominated for dual Golden Globe Awards in the same year.

Ladd has worked in the theatre as well. She made her Broadway debut in the play Carry Me Back to Morningside Heights in 1968. In 1976 she starred in the play, A Texas Trilogy: Lu Ann Hampton Laverty Oberlander, for which she received a Drama Desk Award nomination.

Happy Birthday John Fitzgerald Kennedy Jr.

Today is JFK Jr’s 54th birthday.  His father, the then President of The United States of America was assassinated a few days before his third birthday.  That is not an easy start for anyone, but being who he was, his every move was photographed.  A graph of the highs and lows in his life would be of earthquake-on-the-richter-scale proportions.  He is truly admirable and one of my personal Style Icons.  The world is a better place because JFK Jr was in it and still feels the loss that JFK Jr has left.

NAME: John Fitzgerald Kennedy Jr.
OCCUPATION: Publisher
BIRTH DATE: November 25, 1960
DEATH DATE: July 16, 1999
EDUCATION: Brown University, New York University Law School
PLACE OF BIRTH: Washington, DC
PLACE OF DEATH: New York

BEST KNOWN FOR: Later the publisher of political magazine George, JFK Jr. was the first child ever born to a president-elect, the son of JFK and Jacqueline Kennedy.

Born November 25, 1960, in Washington, D.C. The first child ever born to a president-elect, Kennedy was the second child born to John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy (later Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis). After President Kennedy was assassinated on November 22, 1963, little “John-John” won America’s hearts in that much photographed moment when, as just a small child, he bravely saluted his father’s casket. With looks inherited from his attractive parents, Kennedy, despite strict protection from his mother, was in the media spotlight his entire life as one of American journalists’ favorite subjects.

After flirting very briefly with a career in acting and graduating from Brown University and New York University Law School, Kennedy worked as an assistant district attorney in New York City and then quit to get into the business of journalism himself. In 1995, he launched the successful, hip political magazine, George. Although he certainly could have had a future in politics, he never entered the political arena, choosing instead to make his own way in the world — in publishing and in public service. (He did, however, leave the door open for running for office later in his life.) Known for his adventurous nature, he nonetheless took pains to separate himself from the more reckless antics and self-destructive impulses of some of the other men in the Kennedy clan.

Named “sexiest man alive” by People magazine in 1988, John F. Kennedy Jr. had been linked with numerous Hollywood celebrities including Madonna, Daryl Hannah, Julia Roberts, Brooke Shields, Sarah Jessica Parker and numerous models. Kennedy broke hearts across America when, in September 1996, he married his “soulmate” and longtime girlfriend Carolyn Bessette. The two shared a loft apartment in New York City’s TriBeCa neighborhood, where Kennedy was often seen roller-blading and biking on the city’s streets.

On July 16, 1999, Kennedy, Bessette-Kennedy, and her sister, Lauren Bessette, were flying to Martha’s Vineyard on a single engine private plane piloted by Kennedy, en route to his cousin Rory Kennedy‘s wedding in Hyannisport, Massachusetts. When their plane did not arrive as scheduled, massive search parties were sent out to locate the aircraft. Search efforts persisted throughout the following days, initially to no avail. Luggage and debris from the wreckage were found washed ashore the Gay Head section of Martha’s Vineyard, and the three passengers were eventually presumed dead. Across the nation, Americans mourned the loss of the beloved son of one of the country’s most admired families, and shared their sadness in the tragedies that seem to haunt them.

On July 21, search crews recovered the bodies of JFK, Jr., his wife and sister-in-law. The Kennedy and Bessette families planned a burial at sea for all three. A private mass for JFK Jr. and Carolyn, was held at the Church of St. Thomas More on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, where the late Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis worshipped; it was attended by President and Mrs. Clinton.

Kennedy was survived by his uncle, Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy, and his sister, Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg, as well as a number of cousins. Struggling from lack of advertising support (although circulation was growing), Kennedy’s George magazine ceased publication in early 2001.

Happy Birthday Kay Thompson

This week is the 105th birthday of Kay Thompson.  I mean, have you seen that “Swing Them Bells” scene in Funny Face?  It is everything.  Or that other other “Think Pink” scene?  She is channeling her best Diana Vreeland. The world is a better place because Kay Thompson was in it and still feels the loss that she has left.

Born: Catherine Louise Fink November 9, 1909 St. Louis, Missouri, U.S.
Died: July 2, 1998 (aged 88) New York City, New York, U.S.

Catherine Louise Fink was born in St. Louis, Missouri in 1909, the second of the four children of Leo George Fink, an Austrian-born pawnbroker and jeweler, and his wife, the former Hattie A. Tetrick. Her siblings were Blanche, Marian, and Leo.

Thompson began her career in the 1930s as a singer and choral director for radio. Her first big break was as a regular singer on The Bing Crosby-Woodbury Show (CBS, 1933–34). This led to a regular spot on The Fred Waring-Ford Dealers Show (NBC, 1934–35) and then, with conductor Lennie Hayton, she co-founded The Lucky Strike Hit Parade (CBS, 1935) where she met (and later married) trombonist Jack Jenney.

In 1943, Thompson signed an exclusive contract with MGM to become the studio’s top vocal arranger, vocal coach, and choral director. She served as main vocal arranger for many of producer Arthur Freed’s MGM musicals and as vocal coach to such stars as Judy Garland, Lena Horne, Frank Sinatra, and June Allyson.

Thompson, who lived at the Plaza Hotel in New York City, became most notable as the author of the Eloise series of children’s books, which were partly inspired by the antics of her goddaughter Liza Minnelli, daughter of Judy Garland and film director Vincente Minnelli, but when asked if this was true responded, “I am Eloise”. The four books in the series, illustrated by Hilary Knight, are Eloise (Simon & Schuster, 1955), Eloise in Paris (Simon & Schuster, 1957), Eloise at Christmastime (Random House, 1958) and Eloise in Moscow (Simon & Schuster, 1959). They follow the adventures of the precocious six-year-old girl who lives at The Plaza. All were bestsellers upon release and have been adapted into television projects. She also composed and performed a Top 40 hit song, “Eloise” (Cadence Records, 1956). A fifth book, Eloise Takes a Bawth was posthumously published by Simon & Schuster in 2002, culled from Thompson’s original manuscripts once slated for 1964 publication by Harper & Row. However, at the time, Thompson was burned out on Eloise; she blocked publication and took all but the first book out of print, drastically reducing the income of her collaborator.

She returned to live in New York in 1969. Immediately following the death of Judy Garland, Kay appeared with her goddaughter Liza Minnelli in Otto Preminger’s Tell Me That You Love Me, Junie Moon (Paramount, 1970). In 1974, Thompson directed a groundbreaking fashion show at the Palace of Versailles featuring performances by Liza Minnelli and the collections of Halston, Bill Blass, Oscar de la Renta, and Anne Klein.

Happy Birthday Harris Glenn Milstead

Today is the 69th birthday of Harris Glenn Milstead, known the world over as the drag queen/performance artist/actor/personality called “Divine.”  I was first introduced to Divine through the subscription of Interview Magazine I had while I was in high school.  This lead to renting the early John Waters movies and so forth.  I adore anyone who is fearless, who is in on the joke, and who plows forward.  Divine had all of those qualities and many more.

divine5

NAME: Harris Glenn Milstead
BORN: October 19, 1945
BIRTHPLACE: Towson, MD
DIED: March 7, 1988
LOCATION AT DEATH: Los Angeles, CA
CAUSE OF DEATH: Respiratory failure
REMAINS: Buried, Prospect Hill Cemetery, Towson, MD

Divine (October 19, 1945 – March 7, 1988), born Harris Glenn Milstead, was an American actor, singer and drag queen. Described by People magazine as the “Drag Queen of the Century”, Divine often performed female roles in both cinema and theater and also appeared in women’s clothing in musical performances. Even so, he considered himself to be a character actor and performed male roles in a number of his later films. He was often associated with independent filmmaker John Waters and starred in ten of Waters’s films, usually in a leading role. Concurrent with his acting career, he also had a successful career as a disco singer during the 1980s, at one point being described as “the most successful and in-demand disco performer in the world.”

Born in Baltimore, Maryland, into a conservative, upper middle class family, he became involved with John Waters and his acting troupe, the Dreamlanders, in the mid-1960s and starred in a number of Waters’s early films such as Mondo Trasho (1969), Multiple Maniacs (1970), Pink Flamingos (1972) and Female Trouble (1974). These films became hits on the midnight movie and underground cinema circuit in the U.S., and have since become cult classics, with Divine becoming particularly renowned for playing the role of Babs Johnson in Pink Flamingos, during which he had to perform a series of extreme acts including eating dog excrement. In the 1970s, Milstead made the transition to theater and appeared in a number of productions, including Women Behind Bars and The Neon Woman, while continuing to star in such films as Polyester (1981), Lust in the Dust (1985) and Hairspray (1988). Meanwhile, in 1981 Divine had embarked on a disco career, producing Hi-NRG tracks, most of which had been written by Bobby Orlando, and went on to achieve chart success with hits like “You Think You’re A Man”, “I’m So Beautiful” and “Walk Like a Man.” Having struggled with obesity throughout his life, Divine died from cardiomegaly in 1988.

The New York Times said of Milstead’s ’80s films: “Those who could get past the unremitting weirdness of Divine’s performance discovered that the actor/actress had genuine talent, including a natural sense of comic timing and an uncanny gift for slapstick.” He was also described as “one of the few truly radical and essential artists of the century… [who] was an audacious symbol of man’s quest for liberty and freedom.” Since his death, Divine has remained a cult figure, particularly with those in the LGBT community, of which he was a part, being openly gay.

Due to Divine’s portrayal of Edna Turnblad in the original comedy-film version of Hairspray, later musical adaptations of Hairspray have commonly placed male actors in the role of Edna, including Harvey Fierstein and others in the 2002 Broadway musical and John Travolta in the 2007 musical film.

A 12 foot tall statue in the likeness of Divine by Andrew Logan can be seen on permanent display at The American Visionary Art Museum in Divine’s home town of Baltimore, Maryland.

FILMOGRAPHY AS ACTOR
Out of the Dark (5-May-1989)
Hairspray (16-Feb-1988)
Trouble in Mind (Dec-1985)
Lust in the Dust (1-Mar-1985)
Polyester (29-May-1981)
Female Trouble (4-Oct-1974)
Pink Flamingos (17-Mar-1972)
Multiple Maniacs (10-Apr-1970)
Mondo Trasho (14-Mar-1969)

Is the subject of books:
My Son Divine, 2001, BY: Frances Milstead, DETAILS: Alyson Publications:with Kevin Heffernan and Steve Yeager
Not Simply Divine, 1994, BY: Bernard Jay, DETAILS: Fireside:by Divine’s personal manager

Happy Birthday Harris Glenn Milstead

Today is the 69th birthday of Harris Glenn Milstead, known the world over as the drag queen/performance artist/actor/personality called “Divine.”  I was first introduced to Divine through the subscription of Interview Magazine I had while I was in high school.  This lead to renting the early John Waters movies and so forth.  I adore anyone who is fearless, who is in on the joke, and who plows forward.  Divine had all of those qualities and many more.

divine5

Born: Harris Glenn Milstead 19 October 1945 Towson, Baltimore County, Maryland
Died: 7 March 1988 (aged 42) Los Angeles, California, United States

Divine (October 19, 1945 – March 7, 1988), born Harris Glenn Milstead, was an American actor, singer and drag queen. Described by People magazine as the “Drag Queen of the Century”, Divine often performed female roles in both cinema and theater and also appeared in women’s clothing in musical performances. Even so, he considered himself to be a character actor and performed male roles in a number of his later films. He was often associated with independent filmmaker John Waters and starred in ten of Waters’s films, usually in a leading role. Concurrent with his acting career, he also had a successful career as a disco singer during the 1980s, at one point being described as “the most successful and in-demand disco performer in the world.”

Born in Baltimore, Maryland, into a conservative, upper middle class family, he became involved with John Waters and his acting troupe, the Dreamlanders, in the mid-1960s and starred in a number of Waters’s early films such as Mondo Trasho (1969), Multiple Maniacs (1970), Pink Flamingos (1972) and Female Trouble (1974). These films became hits on the midnight movie and underground cinema circuit in the U.S., and have since become cult classics, with Divine becoming particularly renowned for playing the role of Babs Johnson in Pink Flamingos, during which he had to perform a series of extreme acts including eating dog excrement. In the 1970s, Milstead made the transition to theater and appeared in a number of productions, including Women Behind Bars and The Neon Woman, while continuing to star in such films as Polyester (1981), Lust in the Dust (1985) and Hairspray (1988). Meanwhile, in 1981 Divine had embarked on a disco career, producing Hi-NRG tracks, most of which had been written by Bobby Orlando, and went on to achieve chart success with hits like “You Think You’re A Man”, “I’m So Beautiful” and “Walk Like a Man.” Having struggled with obesity throughout his life, Divine died from cardiomegaly in 1988.

The New York Times said of Milstead’s ’80s films: “Those who could get past the unremitting weirdness of Divine’s performance discovered that the actor/actress had genuine talent, including a natural sense of comic timing and an uncanny gift for slapstick.” He was also described as “one of the few truly radical and essential artists of the century… [who] was an audacious symbol of man’s quest for liberty and freedom.” Since his death, Divine has remained a cult figure, particularly with those in the LGBT community, of which he was a part, being openly gay.

Due to Divine’s portrayal of Edna Turnblad in the original comedy-film version of Hairspray, later musical adaptations of Hairspray have commonly placed male actors in the role of Edna, including Harvey Fierstein and others in the 2002 Broadway musical and John Travolta in the 2007 musical film.

A 12 foot tall statue in the likeness of Divine by Andrew Logan can be seen on permanent display at The American Visionary Art Museum in Divine’s home town of Baltimore, Maryland.

Happy Birthday Agatha Christie

Today is the 124th birthday of Agatha Christie.  At one time, I had this grand idea that I was going to read every one of her books in order of publication.  That is a lot of reading.  I didn’t get very far, but it was not her fault, I fall in and out of love with reading.  There are points in my life where reading is much easier, if I have a commute or something.  I love all the Agatha Christie movies, Miss Marple and even the Tommy and Tuppence ones, but especially Hercule Poirot (David Suchet portrayal).  The books are quick and clever and keep you guessing.

NAME: Dame Agatha Mary Clarissa Christie
OCCUPATION: Author, Playwright
BIRTH DATE: September 15, 1890
DEATH DATE: January 12, 1976
PLACE OF BIRTH: Torquay, United Kingdom
PLACE OF DEATH: Cholsey, United Kingdom
AKA: Mary Westmacott
MAIDEN NAME: Agatha Mary Clarissa Miller

BEST KNOWN FOR: Dame Agatha Christie is the bestselling mystery author of all time. Her characters, Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot, have been repeatedly portrayed on film.

Dame Agatha Christie DBE (15 September 1890 – 12 January 1976) was a British crime writer of novels, short stories, and plays. She also wrote romances under the name Mary Westmacott, but she is best remembered for her 66 detective novels and 14 short story collections (especially those featuring Hercule Poirot or Miss Jane Marple), and her successful West End plays.

According to the Guinness Book of World Records, Christie is the best-selling novelist of all time. Her novels have sold roughly four billion copies, and her estate claims that her works rank third, after those of William Shakespeare and the Bible, as the most widely published books. According to Index Translationum, Christie is the most translated individual author, with only the collective corporate works of Walt Disney Productions surpassing her.[2] Her books have been translated into at least 103 languages.[3]
Agatha Christie published two autobiographies: a posthumous one covering childhood to old age; and another chronicling several seasons of archaeological excavation in Syria and Iraq with her second husband, archaeologist Max Mallowan. The latter was published in 1946 with the title, Come, Tell Me How You Live.

Christie’s stage play The Mousetrap holds the record for the longest initial run: it opened at the Ambassadors Theatre in London on 25 November 1952 and as of 2011 is still running after more than 24,000 performances. In 1955, Christie was the first recipient of the Mystery Writers of America’s highest honour, the Grand Master Award, and in the same year Witness for the Prosecution was given an Edgar Award by the MWA for Best Play. Many of her books and short stories have been filmed, some more than once (Murder on the Orient Express, Death on the Nile and 4.50 from Paddington for instance), and many have been adapted for television, radio, video games and comics.

In 1968, Booker Books, a subsidiary of the agri-industrial conglomerate Booker-McConnell, bought a 51 percent stake in Agatha Christie Limited, the private company that Christie had set up for tax purposes. Booker later increased its stake to 64 percent. In 1998, Booker sold its shares to Chorion, a company whose portfolio also includes the literary estates of Enid Blyton and Dennis Wheatley.

In 2004, a 5,000-word story entitled The Incident of the Dog’s Ball was found in the attic of the author’s daughter. This story was the original version of the novel Dumb Witness. It was published in Britain in September 2009 in John Curran’s Agatha Christie’s Secret Notebooks: Fifty Years Of Mysteries, alongside another newly discovered Poirot story called The Capture of Cerberus (a story with the same title, but a different plot, to that published in The Labours Of Hercules). On 10 November 2009, Reuters announced that The Incident of the Dog’s Ball will be published by The Strand Magazine.