Happy Birthday Jean Harlow

Today is the 104th birthday of the original blonde bombshell:  Jean Harlow.  It is amazing to think that someone can die at 26 over 70 years ago and the world can still adore her.  Watch a few of her films and the biopic Harlow with Caroll Baker, you will become a lifelong fan.  Some people just have IT, although IT never gets any better defined than that.  Just something that draws us moths to their flame, something that we see, admire, perhaps even aspire to, but IT is something that attracts us on a biological level.  The world is a better place because she was in it and still feels the loss that she left.

 

NAME: Jean Harlow
OCCUPATION: Film Actress, Pin-up
BIRTH DATE: March 03, 1911
DEATH DATE: June 07, 1937
PLACE OF BIRTH: Kansas City, Missouri
PLACE OF DEATH: Los Angeles, California
ORIGINALLY: Harlean Carpenter

BEST KNOWN FOR: Jean Harlow was an American actress who proved herself a platinum-blonde sex-symbol and able comedian in 1930s Hollywood.

Jean Harlow (March 3, 1911 – June 7, 1937) was an American film actress and sex symbol of the 1930s. Known as the “Blonde Bombshell” and the “Platinum Blonde” (due to her platinum blonde hair), Harlow was ranked as one of the greatest movie stars of all time by the American Film Institute. Harlow starred in several films, mainly designed to showcase her magnetic sex appeal and strong screen presence, before making the transition to more developed roles and achieving massive fame under contract to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM). Harlow’s enormous popularity and “laughing vamp” image were in distinct contrast to her personal life, which was marred by disappointment, tragedy, and ultimately her sudden death from renal failure at the age of 26.

Harlow wrote a novel, entitled Today is Tonight. According to Arthur Landau in his introduction to the 1965 paperback edition, Harlow stated her intention to write the book around 1933–1934, but it was not published during her lifetime. After her death, Landau writes, her mother sold the film rights to MGM, but no film was made. The publication rights to the novel were passed from Harlow’s mother to a family friend and the book was finally published in 1965.

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Happy Birthday Beth Ditto

Today is the 34rd birthday of Beth Ditto. I often listen to Gossip’s “Move in the Right Direction” on my headphones at the gym in the morning as a pep talk for my day. If you ever get a chance to see Gossip live, please do, it is an amazing show. While you are at it, read her book Coal to Diamonds, you will love her more for her ability to honestly tell her story. The world is a better place because she is in it.

 

Name: Mary Beth Patterson
Birthday: February 19, 1981
Birthplace: Searcy, AK
AKA: Beth Ditto

Mary Beth Patterson, known by her stage name Beth Ditto (born February 19, 1981, in Searcy, Arkansas), is an American singer-songwriter, most famous for her work with the indie rock band Gossip.

At 13, she moved out of her mother’s house and went to live with her aunt. A resident of Portland, Oregon, she is a close friend of Scissor Sisters lead singer Ana Matronic, and considers her favorite song to be “Oh Bondage, Up Yours” by X-Ray Spex. She courted mild controversy in 2006 when, during an interview for NME magazine, she claimed to have eaten squirrels as a child, saying that “people in Arkansas just do – they’d think you were a freak if you ate squid there!”

Ditto is known for her noticeable stage dances and her unique and revealing image. She also formerly contributed an advice column on body image to The Guardian newspaper.

In February 2009, she was featured in London as the cover model for the premiere of Love magazine with prominent public advertising. On July 9, 2009, Beth’s fashion collection for the UK retailer Evans was released for sale, both online, and in selected stores across the UK.

Ditto, who is a lesbian, is well known for her outspoken support of both LGBT and feminist causes.

Her most recent modeling work consisted of opening the Jean Paul Gaultier spring 2011 fashion show during Paris Fashion Week on October 2, 2010.

In July 2013, Ditto married girlfriend Kristin Ogata in Maui, Hawaii. Ditto wore a gown by Jean Paul Gaultier; Ogata wore a jacket, shirt and shorts.

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Happy Birthday Robert Wagner

Today is the 85th birthday of Robert Wagner.  I am a big fan of Hart to Hart and It Takes a Thief and not coincidentally, Robert Wagner’s swagger.  He turns in great performances, so much so I am sure that most people confuse him as being those characters.  The world is a better place because he is in it.


robert wagner3

NAME: Robert Wagner
OCCUPATION: Film Actor, Television Actor, Television Personality
BIRTH DATE: February 10, 1930
PLACE OF BIRTH: Detroit, Michigan

BEST KNOWN FOR: Robert Wagner is an American film and television actor known for his popularity in numerous television series and most recently, in the Austin Powers films.

Robert John Wagner (born February 10, 1930) is an American actor of stage, screen, and television.
A veteran of many films in the 1950s and ’60s, Wagner gained prominence in three American television series that spanned three decades: It Takes a Thief (1968–70), Switch (1975–78), and Hart to Hart (1979–84). In movies, Wagner is known for his role as Number Two in the Austin Powers films (1997, 1999, 2002). He also had a recurring role as Teddy Leopold on the TV sitcom Two and a Half Men.

Wagner’s autobiography, Pieces of My Heart: A Life, written with author Scott Eyman, was published on September 23, 2008.

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Happy Birthday Jack Lemmon

Today is Jack Lemmon’s 90th birthday.  Throughout his career, he turned in consistently top notch performances and made his “every man” persona so desirable.  Watch him with Judy Holliday in “It Should Happen To You,” with Shirley MacLaine in “The Apartment” and Sandy Dennis in “The Out of Towners.”  You won’t take your eyes off him.  Then watch “The China Syndrome” and you will witness the range of his 50 year resume.  He is one of my very favorite actors.  The world is a better place because he was in it and still feels the loss that he has left.

 

NAME: John Uhler Lemmon III
OCCUPATION: Film Actor
BIRTH DATE: February 08, 1925
DEATH DATE: June 27, 2001
EDUCATION: Harvard University
PLACE OF BIRTH: Boston, Massachusetts
PLACE OF DEATH: Los Angeles, California

BEST KNOWN FOR: Jack Lemmon was an American actor who starred in over 60 films, including Some Like It Hot, The Odd Couple, The Out-of-Towners, and Grumpy Old Men.

A versatile performer, actor Jack Lemmon was equally adept at comedy and drama. He grew up in Boston, Massachusetts. The son of a doughnut company executive, Lemmon had an affluent upbringing. He attended private schools and studied at the prestigious Phillips Andover Academy.

In his teens, Lemmon taught himself how to play piano. He enrolled at Harvard University in 1943 where he got involved in the theater. Lemmon even served as the president of the famed Hasty Pudding Club, known for its musical comedy performances.

Lemmon took a break from his studies during World War II. Serving in the U.S. Navy, he was stationed on an aircraft carrier for a time. Lemmon returned to Harvard after the war and finished his degree in 1947.

After college, Lemmon borrowed $300 from his father and headed to New York City. He spent much of his first year there, playing piano in a bar. But before long, Lemmon started to land roles on the raido, the stage and television. He appeared in such television programs as The Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse and Robert Montgomery Presents.

In 1953, Lemmon made his Broadway debut in Room Service, a comedy revival. The production only lasted for a few performances before closing. While disappointed, Lemmon soon had reason to cheer. He landed his first film around this time, appearing in George Cukor’s It Should Happen to You (1954) with Judy Holliday.

Two years later, Lemmon tackled the role that made him a star. He appeared in the comedic war drama Mister Roberts (1955) with Henry Fonda and James Cagney. Playing Ensign Pulver, Lemmon managed to make his scheming, somewhat sketchy character appealing and sympathetic. He won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for this film.

Lemmon went on to work on a number of films with comedian Ernie Kovacs, including Bell Book and Candle (1958). The pair became good friends off-screen as well, up until Kovacs’s death in 1962. In 1959, Lemmon gave one of the top comedic performances of his career in Some Like It Hot. This comedy starred Lemmon and actor Tony Curtis pretending to be women in an all-female musical group, which also included Marilyn Monroe. This film marked the first collaboration between Lemmon and writer-director Billy Wilder.

Working again with Wilder, Lemmon also enjoyed great success with 1960’s The Apartment. He played a young professional seeking to get ahead by loaning out his apartment to executives in his company for their romantic trysts. The movie, which also starred Shirley MacLaine, won the Academy Award for Best Picture.

In 1962, Lemmon proved that he was more than just a funny guy. He gave a heartbreaking performance as an alcoholic husband in The Days of Wine and Roses opposite Lee Remick. With the critical acclaim he garnered for this film, Lemmon demonstrated that he could excel at serious roles. For the rest of his career, he would comfortably shift back and forth between light comedic fare and serious dramas.

Lemmon began his comedic partnership with Walter Matthau with 1966’s The Fortune Cookie. The pair reunited two years later for one of their most famous films together, The Odd Couple. In the film adaptation of the Neil Simon play, Lemmon played the neurotic clean-freak roommate to Matthau’s sportswriter slob.

For Lemmon, the 1970s were a time of great dramatic performances. He won a Best Actor Academy Award in 1973 playing a man having a midlife crisis in Save the Tiger. Returning to the stage in 1978, Lemmon starred as a press agent dying of cancer in Tribute. He reprised his role for the 1980 film version. In The China Syndrome (1979), Lemmon co-starred with Jane Fonda and Michael Douglas. He portrayed a nuclear plant employee who becomes a whistleblower about an incident at the plant.

Lemmon also undertook some light-hearted projects. One close to his heart was the 1972 television special ‘S Wonderful, ‘S Marvelous, ‘S Gershwin. A longtime fan of George Gershwin, Lemmon won an Emmy Award for this musical tribute. He also reteamed with Wilder and Matthau for the 1974 newspaper comedy The Front Page around this time.

In 1982, Lemmon gave another riveting dramatic performance in Missing. He played a father searching for his politically radical son who disappeared in Chile during the 1973 coup. On the Broadway stage, Lemmon won raves for his portrayal of James Tyrone in Eugene O’Neill’s Long Day’s Journey into Night in 1986. Peter Gallagher and Kevin Spacey played his sons in this production. He soon worked with Spacey again on the film adaptation of David Mamet’s Glengarry Glen Ross (1992).

Lemmon once again became a box office sensation in 1993 with Grumpy Old Men. This film about two elderly curmudgeons, played by Lemmon and good friend Matthau, won over audiences of all ages. The pair reunited for the 1995 sequel Grumpier Old Men.

One of Lemmon’s most significant later roles came in 1999 with the television movie Tuesdays with Morrie. He played the title character, a professor struggling with Lou Gehrig’s disease, who develops a friendship with one of his former students (Hank Azaria). For this role, Lemmon won an Emmy Award in 2000.

By this time, Lemmon was battling cancer. He died of complications related to his disease on June 27, 2001, in Los Angeles, California. His memorial service was a who’s who of Hollywood, with such friends as Kick Douglas, Gregory Peck, Billy Wilder and Shirley MacLaine among the many mourners. He was also survived by his second wife Felicia Farr, their daughter Courtney and his son Christopher from his first marriage.

Sometimes called “America’s Everyman,” Lemmon had the ability to be familiar to the audience. He seemed like he could be their neighbor, their boss, their cousin or their friend. Many of his characters also managed to convey of some of the anxiety and neuroses of modern times. As he once said, “I’m attracted primarily to contemporary characters. I understand them and their frustrations.”

 

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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 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 David Bowie

Today is the 67th birthday of David Bowie.  His song “Ashes to Ashes” was playing on my iPhone and in my ears when I got a call from W telling me that J had died.  It is just a coincidence, but I think that J would be happy it wasn’t Hillary Duff.  Now, whenever I hear that song, even a cover of it, I think of J.  He has played a role in the soundtrack of many people’s lives for decades, including mine.  I remember doing rows and rows of floor exercise passes while “Let’s Dance” and “China Girl” played on what seemed a continual loop.  And then there is the David Bowie/Annie Lennox live version of Queen’s “Under Pressure” at the Freddy Mercury tribute concert.  That performance changed my life, became one of my anthems, and is very often in the periphery of my thoughts.  The world is a better place because David Bowie is in it.

NAME: David Bowie
OCCUPATION: Actor, Songwriter, Drummer, Guitarist, Pianist, Singer
BIRTH DATE: January 08, 1947
PLACE OF BIRTH: London, England
ORIGINALLY: David Robert Jones

BEST KNOWN FOR: David Bowie is an English rock musician who was incredibly innovative and popular during the 1970s. His distinctive voice and depth of work endures.

David Bowie (born David Robert Jones on 8 January 1947) is an English musician, actor, record producer and arranger. A major figure for over four decades in the world of popular music, Bowie is widely regarded as an innovator, particularly for his work in the 1970s. He is known for his distinctive voice and the intellectual depth and eclecticism of his work.

Bowie first caught the eye and ear of the public in July 1969, when his song “Space Oddity” reached the top five of the UK Singles Chart. After a three-year period of experimentation he re-emerged in 1972 during the glam rock era with the flamboyant, androgynous alter ego Ziggy Stardust, spearheaded by the hit single “Starman” and the album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars. Bowie’s impact at that time, as described by biographer David Buckley, “challenged the core belief of the rock music of its day” and “created perhaps the biggest cult in popular culture.” The relatively short-lived Ziggy persona proved merely one facet of a career marked by continual reinvention, musical innovation and striking visual presentation.

In 1975, Bowie achieved his first major American crossover success with the number-one single “Fame” and the hit album Young Americans, which the singer characterized as “plastic soul”. The sound constituted a radical shift in style that initially alienated many of his UK devotees. He then confounded the expectations of both his record label and his American audiences by recording the minimalist album Low (1977)—the first of three collaborations with Brian Eno over the next two years. The so-called “Berlin Trilogy” albums all reached the UK top five and garnered lasting critical praise.

After uneven commercial success in the late 1970s, Bowie had UK number ones with the 1980 single “Ashes to Ashes”, its parent album Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps), and “Under Pressure”, a 1981 collaboration with Queen. He then reached a new commercial peak in 1983 with Let’s Dance, which yielded several hit singles. Throughout the 1990s and 2000s, Bowie continued to experiment with musical styles, including blue-eyed soul, industrial, adult contemporary, and jungle. His last recorded album was Reality (2003), which was supported by the 2003–04 Reality Tour.

Buckley says of Bowie: “His influence has been unique in popular culture—he has permeated and altered more lives than any comparable figure.” In the BBC’s 2002 poll of the 100 Greatest Britons, Bowie was placed at number 29. Throughout his career, he has sold an estimated 140 million albums. In the UK, he has been awarded nine Platinum album certifications, 11 Gold and eight Silver, and in the US, five Platinum and seven Gold certifications. In 2004, Rolling Stone ranked him 39th on their list of the “100 Greatest Artists of All Time”, and 23rd on their list of the best singers of all-time.

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