Happy Birthday Pablo Neruda

Today is the 110th birthday of Pablo Neruda.

NAME: Pablo Neruda
OCCUPATION: Poet
BIRTH DATE: July 12, 1904
DEATH DATE: September 23, 1973
EDUCATION: Temuco Boys’ School
PLACE OF BIRTH: Parral, Chile
PLACE OF DEATH: Santiago, Chile

BEST KNOWN FOR:  Pablo Neruda was a Nobel Prize-winning Chilean poet who was active in world politics through his role as a diplomat.

Pablo Neruda (July 12, 1904 – September 23, 1973) was the pen name and, later, legal name of the Chilean poet, diplomat and politician Neftalí Ricardo Reyes Basoalto. He chose his pen name after Czech poet Jan Neruda.

Neruda became known as a poet while still a teenager. He wrote in a variety of styles including surrealist poems, historical epics, overtly political manifestos, a prose autobiography, and erotically-charged love poems such as the ones in his 1924 collection Twenty Poems of Love and a Song of Despair. In 1971 Neruda won the Nobel Prize for Literature. Colombian novelist Gabriel García Márquez once called him “the greatest poet of the 20th century in any language.” Neruda always wrote in green ink as it was his personal color of hope.

On July 15, 1945, at Pacaembu Stadium in São Paulo, Brazil, he read to 100,000 people in honor of Communist revolutionary leader Luís Carlos Prestes. During his lifetime, Neruda occupied many diplomatic positions and served a stint as a senator for the Chilean Communist Party. When Conservative Chilean President González Videla outlawed communism in Chile in 1948, a warrant was issued for Neruda’s arrest. Friends hid him for months in a house basement in the Chilean port of Valparaíso. Later, Neruda escaped into exile through a mountain pass near Maihue Lake into Argentina. Years later, Neruda was a close collaborator to socialist President Salvador Allende. When Neruda returned to Chile after his Nobel Prize acceptance speech, Allende invited him to read at the Estadio Nacional before 70,000 people.

Neruda was hospitalized with cancer at the time of the Chilean coup d’état led by Augusto Pinochet. Three days after being hospitalized, Neruda died of heart failure. Already a legend in life, Neruda’s death reverberated around the world. Pinochet had denied permission to transform Neruda’s funeral into a public event. However, thousands of grieving Chileans disobeyed the curfew and crowded the streets.

Sonnet XVII

I do not love you as if you were salt-rose, or topaz,
or the arrow of carnations the fire shoots off.
I love you as certain dark things are to be loved,
in secret, between the shadow and the soul.

I love you as the plant that never blooms
but carries in itself the light of hidden flowers;
thanks to your love a certain solid fragrance,
risen from the earth, lives darkly in my body.

I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where.
I love you straightforwardly, without complexities or pride;
so I love you because I know no other way

than this: where I does not exist, nor you,
so close that your hand on my chest is my hand,
so close that your eyes close as I fall asleep.

Happy Birthday Paul Lynde

Today is the 88th birthday of Paul Lynde.  He had a lengthy and varied career, but I remember him best as Uncle Arthur.  Also, there is a very very cult following of Halloween episode of The Paul Lynde Show.  I included a link below.  I cannot even prepare you for the experience.

Peter Marshall: Paul, why do Hell’s Angels wear leather?
Paul Lynde: Because chiffon wrinkles too easily.

NAME: Paul Lynde
OCCUPATION: Film Actor, Television Actor, Comedian, Game Show Host
BIRTH DATE: June 13, 1926
DEATH DATE: January 10, 1982
EDUCATION: Northwestern University
PLACE OF BIRTH: Mount Vernon, Ohio
PLACE OF DEATH: Beverly Hills, California

BEST KNOWN FOR: Actor Paul Lynde is best known for his work on the fledgling game show Hollywood Squares, where he worked for 15 years.

Paul Lynde studied drama with classmates Charlotte Rae, Patricia O’Neal and Charlton Heston. He moved to New York in 1948 to hone his comedic skills by performing stand-up routines. In 1960 he was cast as the father of a star-struck teenager in the Broadway production Bye, Bye Birdie, the success of which led to the recording of a comedy album and regular spots on The Perry Como Show.

Actor. Born June 13, 1926, in Mount Vernon, Ohio. Lynde attended Northwestern University, where he studied drama with classmates Charlotte Rae, Patricia O’Neal, and Charlton Heston. In 1948, upon his graduation, he moved to New York and honed his comedic skills by performing stand-up routines.

In the early 1950s, Lynde landed a role in a Broadway revue New Faces of 1952. Featuring the now-classic monologue “The Trip of the Month Club,” Lynde was singled out for his manic portrayal of a hapless but determinedly upbeat survivor of a tourist trip to Africa. Despite an auspicious Broadway debut, Lynde did not return to stage work for quite some time. Over the next eight years, he made guest appearances on variety and radio shows.

In 1960, Lynde was cast as the father of a star-struck teenager in the Broadway production Bye, Bye Birdie a role that he reprised in the 1963 film adaptation, which starred Dick Van Dyke and Ann-Margaret. For Lynde, the success of Bye, Bye Birdie led to the recording of a comedy album and regular spots on The Red Buttons Show and The Perry Como Show.

Over the next few years, Lynde appeared in supporting roles in lighthearted films like Under the Yum-Yum Tree (1963), Beach Blanket Bingo (1965), and The Glass Bottom Boat (1966). Lynde forged a lucrative career as a character actor with parts on the popular TV series The Munsters, I Dream of Jeanie, and Bewitched. In 1967, he debuted on the fledgling game show Hollywood Squares, where, as the permanent center square, he found an outlet to showcase his comedic talents for the next 15 years.

In 1972, playing an uptight attorney and father at odds with his liberal-minded son, Lynde starred in the short-lived sitcom The Paul Lynde Show. The series’ failure exacerbated Lynde’s pre-existing drinking problem, which led to numerous run-ins with the law and frequent arrests for public intoxication.

On January 10, 1982, at the age of 55, Paul Lynde died of a massive heart attack brought on by years of substance abuse.

Isadora Duncan – Style Icon

Today is Isadora Duncan’s 17th Birthday.  Ever since a winter scarf I was wearing was briefly caught in the handrail of the transit tunnel escalator, I have felt a connection to her.

NAME: Isadora Duncan
OCCUPATION: Choreographer
BIRTH DATE: c. May 27, 1877
DEATH DATE: September 14, 1927
PLACE OF BIRTH: San Francisco, California
PLACE OF DEATH: Nice, France
ORIGINALLY: Angela Duncan

BEST KNOWN FOR:  Isadora Duncan was a dancer who taught and performed in a new and less restrictive form. Many regard her as the mother of modern dance.

Although Duncan’s birth date is generally believed to have been May 27, 1878, her baptismal certificate, discovered in San Francisco in 1976, records the date of May 26, 1877. Duncan was one of four children brought up in genteel poverty by their mother, a music teacher. As a child she rejected the rigidity of the classic ballet and based her dancing on more natural rhythms and movements, an approach she later used consciously in her interpretations of the works of such great composers as Brahms, Wagner, and Beethoven. Her earliest public appearances, in Chicago and New York City, met with little success, and at the age of 21 she left the United States to seek recognition abroad. With her meagre savings she sailed on a cattle boat for England.

At the British Museum her study of the sculptures of ancient Greece confirmed the classical use of those dance movements and gestures that hitherto instinct alone had caused her to practice and upon a revival of which her method was largely founded. Through the patronage of the celebrated actress Mrs. Patrick Campbell, she was invited to appear at the private receptions of London’s leading hostesses, where her dancing, distinguished by a complete freedom of movement, enraptured those who were familiar only with the conventional forms of the ballet, which was then in a period of decay. It was not long before the phenomenon of a young woman dancing barefoot, as scantily clad as a woodland nymph, crowded theatres and concert halls throughout Europe. During her controversial first tour of Russia in 1905, Duncan made a deep impression on the choreographer Michel Fokine and on the art critic Serge Diaghilev, who as impresario was soon to lead a resurgence of ballet throughout western Europe. Duncan toured widely, and at one time or another she founded dance schools in Germany, Russia, and the United States, though none of these survived.

Her private life, quite as much as her art, kept her name in the headlines owing to her constant defiance of social taboos. The father of her first child, Deirdre, was the stage designer Gordon Craig, who shared her abhorrence of marriage; the father of her second child, Patrick, was Paris Singer, the heir to a sewing machine fortune and a prominent art patron. In 1913 a tragedy occurred from which Duncan never really recovered: the car in which her two children and their nurse were riding in Paris rolled into the Seine River and all three were drowned. In an effort to sublimate her grief she was about to open another school when the advent of World War I put an end to her plans. Her subsequent tours in South America, Germany, and France were less successful than before, but in 1920 she was invited to establish a school of her own in Moscow. To her revolutionary temperament, the Soviet Union seemed the land of promise. There she met Sergey Aleksandrovich Yesenin, a poet 17 years younger than she, whose work had won him a considerable reputation. She married him in 1922, sacrificing her scruples against marriage in order to take him with her on a tour of the United States. She could not have chosen a worse time for their arrival. Fear of the “Red Menace” was at its height, and she and her husband were unjustly labeled as Bolshevik agents. Leaving her native country once more, a bitter Duncan told reporters: “Good-bye America, I shall never see you again!” She never did. There followed an unhappy period with Yesenin in Europe, where his increasing mental instability turned him against her. He returned alone to the Soviet Union and, in 1925, committed suicide.

During the last years of her life Duncan was a somewhat pathetic figure, living precariously in Nice on the French Riviera, where she met with a fatal accident: her long scarf became entangled in the rear wheel of the car in which she was riding, and she was strangled. Her autobiography, My Life, was published in 1927 (reissued 1972).

Isadora Duncan was acclaimed by the foremost musicians, artists, and writers of her day, but she was often an object of attack by the less broad-minded. Her ideas were too much in advance of their time, and she flouted social conventions too flamboyantly to be regarded by the wider public as anything but an advocate of “free love.” Certainly her place as a great innovator in dance is secure: her repudiation of artificial technical restrictions and reliance on the grace of natural movement helped to liberate the dance from its dependence on rigid formulas and on displays of brilliant but empty technical virtuosity, paving the way for the later acceptance of modern dance as it was developed by Mary Wigman, Martha Graham, and others.

Isadora Duncan’s life has been portrayed most notably in the 1968 film, Isadora, starring Vanessa RedgraveVivian Pickles played her in Ken Russell’s 1966 biopic for the BBC, which was subtitled ‘The Biggest Dancer in the World’ and introduced by Duncan’s biographer, Sewell Stokes.

Most notably, Duncan was the subject of a balletIsadora, written and choreographed in 1981 by the Royal Ballet‘s Kenneth MacMillan, and performed at Covent Garden.[17] When She Danced, a stage play about Duncan’s later years by Martin Sherman, won the 1991 Evening Standard Award (best actress) for Vanessa Redgrave. A Hungarian musical based on this play was produced in Budapest in 2008.

Robert Calvert recorded a song about Duncan on his Revenge LP. The song is called “Isadora”. Salsa diva Celia Cruz sang a song titled “Isadora” in Duncan’s honor. Finnish musician Juice Leskinen recorded a song called “Isadora Duncan”. Russian singer Alexander Malinin recorded a song about the death of Isadora Duncan. Russian band Leningradhave a song about her on their Pulya (Bullet) album. American post-hardcore group Burden of a Day has a song titled, “Isadora Duncan” on their 2009 album OneOneThousand.

The children’s gothic book series, Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, includes a set of fraternal triplets named Isadora, Duncan, and Quigley Quagmire.

And Then There’s Maude, the theme song to the 1970s American TV sitcom Maude contains a reference to Duncan with the line “Isadora was a bra burner.”

In his song Salome, British singer Pete Doherty makes a reference to Isadora Duncan by saying: “As she dances and demands, the head of Isadora Duncan on a plate”.

2003 in “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days”, the necklace Andie wears is named after Isadora Duncan

In a deleted scene of Titanic (1997), Rose talks about her dreams, saying “I don’t know what it is, whether I should be an artist or a sculpter or a, I don’t know, a dancer like Isadora Duncan, or wild pagan spirit!”

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Grace Jones – Style Icon

Today is the 62nd birthday of the absolutely ageless Grace Jones.  I first experienced her when she and Adam Ant made a Honda Elite Scooter commercial.  I thought they were both the coolest people I had ever seen.

Birth name: Grace Jones
Born: 19 May 1952  Linstead, St. Catherine, Jamaica
Occupations: actress, singer/songwriter, model, artist

Grace Jones (born May 19, 1952) is a Jamaican-American singer, model and actress.
Jones started out as a model and became a muse to Andy Warhol, who photographed her extensively. During that era she regularly went to the New York City nightclub Studio 54. Grace secured a record deal with Island Records in 1977, which resulted in a string of dance-club hits. In the late 1970s, she adapted the emerging electronic music style and adopted a severe, androgynous look with square-cut hair and angular, padded clothes. Many of her the singles were hits on Billboard’s Hot Dance Club Play and Hot Dance Airplay charts, for example 1981 “Pull Up to the Bumper“, which spent seven weeks at #2 on the U.S. dance chart. Jones was able to find mainstream success in Europe, particularly the United Kingdom, scoring a number of Top 40 entries on the UK Singles Chart. Her most notable albums are Warm Leatherette, Nightclubbing and Slave to the Rhythm, while her biggest hits (other than “Pull Up to the Bumper”) are “I’ve Seen That Face Before (Libertango)”, “Private Life”, “Slave to the Rhythm” and “I’m Not Perfect (But I’m Perfect for You)”.

Jones is also an actress. Her acting occasionally overshadowed her musical output in America; but not in Europe, where her profile as a recording artist was much higher. She appeared in some low-budget films in the 1970s and early 1980s. Her work as an actress in mainstream film began in the 1984 fantasy-action film Conan the Destroyer alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger, and the 1985 James Bond movie A View to a Kill. In 1986 she played a vampire in Vamp, and both acted in and contributed a song to the 1992 film Boomerang with Eddie Murphy. In 2001, she appeared in Wolf Girl alongside Tim Curry.

grace-jones

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Happy Birthday Studs Terkel

It is the 102nd birthday of writer and broadcaster Louis “Studs” Terkel, born in the Bronx, New York . His family moved to Chicago when Terkel was 10 years old and his parents ran rooming houses. Terkel remembers all different kinds of people moving through the rooming houses — dissidents, labor organizers, religions fanatics — and that that exposure helped build his knowledge of the outside world.

Terkel said: “Why are we born? We’re born eventually to die, of course. But what happens between the time we’re born and we die? We’re born to live. One is a realist if one hopes.”

And, “With optimism, you look upon the sunny side of things. People say, ‘Studs, you’re an optimist.’ I never said I was an optimist. I have hope because what’s the alternative to hope? Despair? If you have despair, you might as well put your head in the oven.”

And, “I’ve always felt, in all my books, that there’s a deep decency in the American people and a native intelligence — providing they have the facts, providing they have the information.”

NAME: Studs Terkel
OCCUPATION: Radio Talk Show Host, Journalist
BIRTH DATE: May 16, 1912
DEATH DATE: October 31, 2008
EDUCATION: University of Chicago Law School
PLACE OF BIRTH: New York City, New York
PLACE OF DEATH: Chicago, Illinois
ORIGINALLY: Louis Turkel

BEST KNOWN FOR: Studs Terkel was an American radio personality, interviewer and author who is best remembered for his oral histories of common Americans.

Born May 16, 1912, New York City. Lois Terkel, commonly known as “Studs,” interviewed the common man, probing everyday people for personal narratives about their lives and the historic moments during which they lived. He was a master of pulling out peoples’ best stories, and as such, established oral history as a respected genre.

At the age of 10, Studs Terkel moved with his family to Chicago. Arriving in the Windy City his parents, Samuel and Anna, opened a rooming house which sheltered people from all walks of life. Terkel later credited his curiosity and comfort with the world’s people to the many tenants he met there. “The thing I’m able to do, I guess, is break down walls,” he once told an interviewer. “If they think you’re listening, they’ll talk. It’s more of a conversation than an interview.”

After earning a law degree from the University of Chicago in 1934, he married Ida Goldberg, to whom he stayed wed to the rest of his life. Terkel never pursued a career in law, but instead was hired by the radio division of the WPA’s Federal Writers Project. Before long, he was asked to read a script, play parts in radio soap operas, and read the news. After a short stint in the Air Force, he returned to Chicago and continued writing radio shows and ads.

In 1944, Terkel landed his own program on WENR, the Wax Museum Show. A kind of variety program, he used the time to share his love of folk music, jazz, blues, and any number of other audible curios. A year later, he had his own television show called Stud’s Place, an improvised sitcom where he began developing what later became his interviewing style. People listened and watched, finding his love for the every-man endearing and entertaining.

The Studs Terkel Show first aired on Chicago’s WFMT in 1952. Terkel mostly played music, but slowly introduced his listeners to interviews with both famous and unknown characters. The program eventually became the award-winning The Studs Terkel Program, which ran for 35 years.

In 1956, Terkel published his first book, Giants of Jazz. A decade later, he put out his first book of oral history interviews, Division Street: America, following it with a succession of oral history works. His book were mostly based on interviews with everyday Americans around a single topic. His 1985 book The Good War: An Oral History of World War Two, which detailed ordinary peoples’ accounts of the country’s involvement in World War II, won the Pulitzer Prize. His last oral history book, which came out just after his wife died, was Will the Circle Be Unbroken: Reflections on Death, Rebirth, and Hunger for a Faith (2001). Terkel continued to interview people and make public appearances into his 90s. His last book, P.S.: Further Thoughts from a Lifetime of Listening was released in November 2008.

Terkel died of health complications on October 31, 2008, after a fall in his home. He was 96 years old. Shortly before his death, he requested that his ashes be mixed with those of his wife, and scattered in Bughouse Square, a park near his childhood home. “My father lived a long, satisfying and fulfilling but tempestuous life,” Dan Terkel told the Chicago Tribune after his father’s passing. “It was a life well lived.”

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Happy Birthday Katharine Hepburn

Today is Katharine Hepburn’s 107th birthday.  I was in New York City this last Christmas, alone and not really sure how I should spend the day.  I walked the entire Highline down the West Side, crossed over and walked up the East Side and found her old townhouse.  I stood outside for a while, took a few pictures and walked to the rocks in the southeast corner of Central Park and thought about how over the last few hundred people, everyone that has come to New York City has seen these rocks.  Simple rocks.  It made me feel less alone on Christmas.

I tried to narrow down my favorite film of hers, but I couldn’t.  If you haven’t seen A Delicate Balance,” you should, it showcases some of the her best acting in a screenplay by Edward Albee.  You can’t go wrong with that team.

 


NAME
: Katharine Hepburn
OCCUPATION: Film Actress, Theater Actress
BIRTH DATE: May 12, 1907
DEATH DATE: June 29, 2003
EDUCATION: Bryn Mawr College
PLACE OF BIRTH: Hartford, Connecticut
PLACE OF DEATH: Old Saybrook, Connecticut

BEST KNOWN FOR: Katharine Hepburn was an actress known as a spirited performer with a touch of eccentricity in films such as The African Queen and On Golden Pond.

Katharine Houghton Hepburn (May 12, 1907 – June 29, 2003) was an American actress of film, stage, and television. In a career that spanned 62 years as a leading lady, she was best known for playing strong-willed, sophisticated women in both dramas and comedies.

Raised in Connecticut by wealthy, progressive parents, Hepburn turned to acting after graduation from Bryn Mawr College. After four years in the theatre, favorable reviews of her work on Broadway brought her to the attention of Hollywood. She became an instant star with her feature debut, 1932′s A Bill of Divorcement, and within 18 months received an Academy Award for Morning Glory. This initial success was followed by a series of commercial failures, and in 1938 she was labeled “box office poison”. Hepburn masterminded her own comeback, buying herself out of her contract with RKO Radio Pictures and acquiring the film rights to The Philadelphia Story, which she sold on the condition that she be the star. The movie was a hit, and Hepburn’s career was successfully revived.

In 1941 she joined Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and began an alliance with Spencer Tracy, forming a popular partnership that produced nine movies over 25 years. Her work began to slow in this decade, and is dominated by the pictures she made with Tracy. Hepburn’s output expanded in the 1950s, as she frequently worked overseas and appeared in a number of Shakespeare productions on the stage. On screen she found a niche in playing middle-aged spinsters, including The African Queen, and the public embraced Hepburn in these roles. She enjoyed a great level of success in the latter half of her life, winning three more Oscars for her work in Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, The Lion in Winter and On Golden Pond. In 1973 she made her first appearance in a television movie, and the medium was where she found her greatest success in her later years. She remained active into old age, making her final screen appearance in 1994 at the age of 87.

Hepburn was famously outspoken and evasive with the press, while refusing to conform to societal expectations of women. She married once, before moving to Hollywood, but thereafter maintained an independent lifestyle. In 1941, Hepburn began an affair with her co-star Spencer Tracy and became devoted to the actor. They remained together until his death in 1967, although the relationship was hidden from the public and Tracy never divorced his wife. After a period of inactivity and ill-health, Hepburn died in 2003 at the age of 96.

Hepburn received a total of 12 Academy Award nominations for Best Actress throughout her career, and her four wins is a record for a performer. Her on-screen persona often matched her own independent personality, and she came to epitomize the “modern woman” in 20th century America. She is credited with helping change the way females were depicted on screen, and acknowledged as an influential figure in the public’s changing perception of women. In 1999, she was named by the American Film Institute as the top female legend of the screen

“If you always do what interests you, at least one person is pleased.”

 

 

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Happy Birthday Shirley MacLaine

Today is Shirley MacLaine’s 80th birthday .I love her in “Trouble With Harry” and “Sweet Charity” and “Postcards from the Edge” and “Terms of Endearment” and “Steel Magnolias” and on and on and on.NAME: Shirley MacLaine
OCCUPATION: Film Actress, Theater Actress, Television Actress, Ballet Dancer, Singer, Journalist
BIRTH DATE: April 24, 1934
PLACE OF BIRTH: Richmond, Virginia
ORIGINALLY: Shirley MacLean Beaty

BEST KNOWN FOR: American actress Shirley MacLaine is well known for leading role in the 1983 film Terms of Endearment, as well as her beliefs in reincarnation.

Shirley MacLean Beaty (known professionally as Shirley MacLaine; April 24, 1934) is an American film and theater actress, singer, dancer, activist and author, well-known for her beliefs in New Age spirituality and reincarnation. She has written a large number of autobiographical works, many dealing with her spiritual beliefs as well as her Hollywood career. In 1983, she won the Academy Award for Best Actress for her role in Terms of Endearment. She was nominated for an Academy Award five times before her win. Her younger brother is Warren Beatty but they have never appeared in the same film.

MacLaine made her film debut in Alfred Hitchcock’s The Trouble with Harry (1955), for which she won the Golden Globe Award for New Star Of The Year – Actress. In 1956, she had roles in Hot Spell and Around the World in Eighty Days. At the same time she starred in Some Came Running, the film that gave her her first Academy Award nomination – one of five that the film received – and a Golden Globe nomination.

Her second nomination came two years later for The Apartment, starring with Jack Lemmon. The film won five Oscars, including Best Director for Billy Wilder. She later said, “I thought I would win for The Apartment, but then Elizabeth Taylor had a tracheotomy”. She starred in The Children’s Hour (1961) also starring Audrey Hepburn, based on the play by Lillian Hellman. She was again nominated, this time for Irma la Douce (1963), for which she reunited with Wilder and Lemmon. Don Siegel, her director on Two Mules for Sister Sara (1970), in which she starred opposite Clint Eastwood, once said, “It’s hard to feel any great warmth to her. She’s too unfeminine and has too much balls. She’s very, very hard.”

In 1975, she received a nomination for Best Documentary Feature for her documentary film The Other Half of the Sky: A China Memoir. Two years later, she was once again nominated for The Turning Point co-starring Anne Bancroft, in which she portrayed a retired ballerina much like herself. In 1978, she was awarded the Women in Film Crystal Award for outstanding women who, through their endurance and the excellence of their work, have helped to expand the role of women within the entertainment industry. In 1980, she starred in A Change of Seasons alongside Anthony Hopkins. The pair famously didn’t get along and Hopkins said “she was the most obnoxious actress I have ever worked with.” In 1983, she won an Oscar for Terms of Endearment. The film won another four Oscars; one for Jack Nicholson and three for director James L. Brooks. In 1988, MacLaine won a Golden Globe for Best Actress (Drama) for Madame Sousatzka.

She continued to star in major films, such as Steel Magnolias with Julia Roberts and many other stars. She made her feature-film directorial debut in Bruno, MacLaine starred as Helen in this film, which was released to video as The Dress Code. In 2007, she completed Closing the Ring, directed by Richard Attenborough and starring Christopher Plummer. Other notable films in which MacLaine has starred include Sweet Charity (1968), Being There (1979) with Peter Sellers, Postcards From the Edge (1990) with actress Meryl Streep, playing a fictionalized version of Debbie Reynolds with a screenplay by Reynolds’s daughter, Carrie Fisher, Used People with Jessica Tandy and Kathy Bates, Guarding Tess (1994) with Nicolas Cage, Mrs. Winterbourne (1996), with actress and talk show host, Ricki Lake and actor Brendan Fraser, Rumor Has It… (2005) with Kevin Costner and Jennifer Aniston and In Her Shoes with Cameron Diaz.

MacLaine has also appeared in numerous television projects including an autobiographical miniseries based upon the book Out on a Limb, The Salem Witch Trials, These Old Broads written by Carrie Fisher and co-starring Elizabeth Taylor, Debbie Reynolds, and Joan Collins, and Coco, a Lifetime production based on the life of Coco Chanel. She also had a short-lived sitcom called Shirley’s World. She will be appearing in the third series of the British drama Downton Abbey as Martha Levinson, mother to Cora, Countess of Grantham.

MacLaine has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1165 Vine Street.

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Happy Birthday Barbra Streisand

Today is the 72nd birthday of Barbara Streisand.  Please do yourself a favor and immediately watch What’s Up Doc?  It will change your life.  I promise.

NAME: Barbra Streisand
OCCUPATION: Actress, Singer
BIRTH DATE: April 24, 1942
EDUCATION: Bais Yakov School, Erasmus Hall High School
PLACE OF BIRTH: Brooklyn, New York

BEST KNOWN FOR: Barbra Streisand is the highest selling female artist of all time, and has won awards and acclaim in every medium she’s worked in.

Barbra Joan Streisand (pronounced /ˈstraɪsænd/; born April 24, 1942) is an American singer, actress, film producer and director. She has won two Academy Awards, eight Grammy Awards, four Emmy Awards, a Special Tony Award, an American Film Institute award,[4] a Peabody Award, and is one of the few entertainers who have won an Oscar, Emmy, Grammy, and Tony Award.

She is one of the most commercially and critically successful entertainers in modern entertainment history, with more than 71.5 million albums shipped in the United States and 140 million albums sold worldwide. She is the best-selling female artist on the Recording Industry Association of America‘s (RIAA) Top Selling Artists list, the only female recording artist in the top ten, and the only artist outside of the rock and roll genre. Along with Frank Sinatra, Cher, and Shirley Jones, she shares the distinction of being awarded an acting Oscar and also recording a number-one single on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart.

According to the RIAA, Streisand holds the record for the most top-ten albums of any female recording artist – a total of 32 since 1963. Streisand has the widest span (48 years) between first and latest top-ten albums of any female recording artist. With her 2009 album, Love Is the Answer, she became one of the rare artists to achieve number-one albums in five consecutive decades. According to the RIAA, she has released 51 Gold albums, 30 Platinum albums, and 13 Multi-Platinum albums in the United States.

Streisand has personally raised $25 million for organizations through her live performances. The Streisand Foundation, established in 1986, has contributed over $16 million through nearly 1,000 grants to “national organizations working on preservation of the environment, voter education, the protection of civil liberties and civil rights, women’s issues and nuclear disarmament.”

In 2006, Streisand donated $1 million to the William J. Clinton Foundation in support of former President Bill Clinton’s climate change initiative.

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Happy Birthday Irving Paul “Swifty” Lazar

Today is the 107th birthday of Swifty Lazar.  I am a sucker for a person in a pair of gigantic glasses (think of Iris Apfel and Carrie Donovan) and in a strange turn of events, my original post about Swifty is the most-visited post I have ever had.  This is all due to the Howard Stern Show mentioning him and his glasses and linking to my blog from their blog for visual reference.

Irving Paul “Swifty” Lazar (March 28, 1907 – December 30, 1993) was a talent agent and dealmaker, representing both movie stars and authors.

Born Samuel Lazar in Brooklyn, New York, he graduated from Brooklyn Law School in 1931. While practicing bankruptcy law during the early 1930s, he negotiated a business deal for a vaudeville performer and realized the income potential for acting as an agent.
He moved to Hollywood in 1936 but maintained a presence in New York until after World War II when he moved to Los Angeles permanently. After putting together three major deals for Humphrey Bogart in a single day, he was dubbed “Swifty” by Bogart. The moniker stuck but was a name he actually disliked.

In addition to Bogart, Lazar became the agent representing the top tier of celebrities, including Lauren Bacall, Truman Capote, Cher, Joan Collins, Noel Coward, Ira Gershwin, Cary Grant, Moss Hart, Ernest Hemingway, Gene Kelly, Madonna, Walter Matthau, Larry McMurtry, Vladimir Nabokov, Clifford Odets, Cole Porter, William Saroyan, Irwin Shaw, President Richard Nixon and Tennessee Williams. Lazar’s power became such that he could negotiate a deal for someone who was not even his client and then collect a fee from that person’s agent.

During World War II, Lazar, with Benjamin Landis, suggested to the U.S. Army Air Forces that it produce a play to encourage enlistment and to raise funds for the Army Emergency Relief Fund. The Air Forces commanding general, Henry H. Arnold, agreed and the play Winged Victory was written by Moss Hart and produced by Hart and Lazar. It was a huge success, playing on Broadway and on tour around the U.S. for over a million people. A film version was produced during the same period.

Lazar was an executive producer (with Bernie Brillstein) of John G. Avildsen’s Neighbors (1981), starring John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd, and he was an associate producer on two television miniseries, The Thorn Birds (1983) and Robert Kennedy & His Times (1985). He was renowned for his annual post-Academy Award parties that started at the famous Romanoff’s, then moved to the Bistro Garden and finally to Wolfgang Puck’s restaurant, Spago. His was widely regarded as the most important Oscar celebration, and those who received invitations were regarded as the inner circle.

Lazar died in 1993, aged 86, from complications stemming from diabetes which eventually cut off circulation to his feet, which doctors wanted to amputate. Lazar, who was being treated at home via peritoneal dialysis, refused amputation. This refusal hastened Lazar’s death. The Death Certificate states “Imminent Cause: Chronic Renal Failure due to Glomerulo Sclerosis due to Hypertension. Other significant conditions contributing to death but not related to cause given in 21 [above]: lower extremities diabetes.” He was interred in the Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery in Los Angeles next to his wife, Mary, who had died in January that same year from liver cancer. Michael Korda wrote a 1993 New Yorker profile of Lazar, later incorporated into Korda’s book, Another Life: A Memoir of Other People (Random House, 1999). At the time of his death, Lazar was working on his autobiography, Swifty: My Life and Good Times, which was completed by Annette Tapert and published by Simon & Schuster in 1995.

Swifty Lazar appears as a character in Peter Morgan’s stage play, Frost/Nixon, first staged at the Donmar Warehouse, London on August 10, 2006 and played by actor Kerry Shale. In the play Lazar negotiates a deal with David Frost on behalf of President Richard Nixon for Frost to interview Nixon. The play is closely based on real-life events. He has also been portrayed by Toby Jones in the 2008 film version of Frost/Nixon.

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Happy Birthday Fred Rogers

Fred Rogers would be 86 today.  He was the kindest, most gentle adult that most kids my age every knew.  He spoke to us as people and inspired us to think about our feelings.  He taught us empathy and compassion.  He changed our lives and the world is a better place because of him.  Ladies and gentlemen, Fred Rogers.  Style Icon.

NAME: Fred McFeely Rogers
OCCUPATION: Minister, Television Personality
BIRTH DATE: March 20, 1928
DEATH DATE: February 27, 2003
EDUCATION: Rollins College, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary
PLACE OF BIRTH: Latrobe, Pennsylvania
PLACE OF DEATH: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
AKA: Mister Rogers

BEST KNOWN FOR: The much-loved host of the public television show, Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood, which ran on PBS from 1968 to 2001.

Fred McFeely Rogers (March 20, 1928 – February 27, 2003) was an American educator, Presbyterian minister, songwriter, author, and television host. Rogers was most famous for creating and hosting Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood (1968–2001), that featured his gentle, soft-spoken personality and directness to his audiences.

Initially educated to be a minister, Rogers was displeased with the way television addressed children and made an effort to change this when he began to write for and perform on local Pittsburgh-area shows dedicated to youth. The Public Broadcasting System developed his own nationally-aired show in 1968 and, over the course of three decades on television, he became an indelible American icon of children’s entertainment and education, as well as a symbol of compassion, patience, and morality. He was also known for his advocacy of various public causes. His testimony before a lower court in favor of time shifting was cited in a U.S. Supreme Court decision on the Betamax case, and he gave now-famous testimony to a U.S. Senate committee, advocating government funding for children’s television.

Rogers was honored extensively for his life work in children’s education. He received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the United States’ highest civilian honor; a Peabody Award for his career; and was inducted into the Television Hall of Fame. Two resolutions recognizing his work were unanimously passed by U.S. Congress, one of his trademark sweaters was acquired and is on display at the Smithsonian Institution, and several buildings and works of art in Pennsylvania are dedicated to his memory.

In 1996, Mister Fred Rogers was ranked #35 on TV Guide’s 50 Greatest TV Stars of All Time.

I’m not that interested in ‘mass’ communications. I’m much more interested in what happens between this person and the one person watching. The space between the television set and that person who’s watching is very holy ground.

These two clips will remind you of his power and vision and stay with you the whole day:

In 1997, Fred Rogers was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Emmys. His acceptance speech is one of the most gentle, moving, humble, and powerful statements I’ve seen in a long time. Even the way he accepts the award from Tim Robbins — in a gentle, curious manner, just standing back and calmly smiling at the crowd — it’s amazing. As the clip ends, his standing ovation begins.

His speech that he made before the United States Senate Subcommittee on Communications to support funding for PBS and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.  In about six minutes of testimony, Rogers spoke of the need for social and emotional education that public television provided. He passionately argued that alternative television programming like his Neighborhood helped encourage children to become happy and productive citizens, sometimes opposing less positive messages in media and in popular culture.

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