Happy Birthday David Hockney

Today is the 77th birthday of the artist David Hockney.  His work makes me happy.  I know that isn’t super artsy and fancy was of describing art, but it is the truth.david-hockney

NAME: David Hockney
OCCUPATION: Painter, Photographer
BIRTH DATE: July 09, 1937
EDUCATION: Bradford College of Art, Royal College of Art, London
PLACE OF BIRTH: Bradford, England

Best Known For:  Known for his photo collages and paintings of Los Angeles swimming pools, David Hockney is considered one of the most influential British artists of the 20th century.

David Hockney was born in Bradford, England, on July 9, 1937. He loved books and was interested in art from an early age, admiring Picasso, Matisse and Fragonard. His parents encouraged their son’s artistic exploration, and gave him the freedom to doodle and daydream.

Hockney attended the Bradford College of Art from 1953 to 1957. Then, because he was a conscientious objector to military service, he spent two years working in hospitals to fulfill his national service requirement. In 1959, he entered graduate school at the Royal College of Art in London alongside other young artists such as Peter Blake and Allen Jones, and he experimented with different forms, including abstract expressionism. He did well as a student, and his paintings won prizes and were purchased for private collections.

Hockney’s early paintings incorporated his literary leanings, and he used fragments of poems and quotations from Walt Whitman in his work. This practice, and paintings such as We Two Boys Clinging Together, which he created in 1961, were the first nods to his homosexuality in his art.

Because he frequently went to the movies with his father as a child, Hockney once quipped that he was raised in both Bradford and Hollywood. He was drawn to the light and the heat of California, and first visited Los Angeles in 1963. He officially moved there in 1966. The swimming pools of L.A. were one of his favorite subjects, and he became known for large, iconic works such as A Bigger Splash. His expressionistic style evolved, and by the 1970s, he was considered more of a realist.

In addition to pools, Hockney painted the interiors and exteriors of California homes. In 1970, this led to the creation of his first “joiner,” an assemblage of Polaroid photos laid out in a grid. Although this medium would become one his claims to fame, he stumbled upon it by accident. While working on a painting of a Los Angeles living room, he took a series of photos for his own reference, and fixed them together so he could paint from the image. When he finished, however, he recognized the collage as an art form unto itself, and began to create more.

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Hockney was an adept photographer, and he began working with photography more extensively. By the mid 1970s, he had all but abandoned painting in favor of projects involving photography, lithographs, and set and costume design for the ballet, opera and theater.

In the late 1980s, Hockney returned to painting, primarily painting seascapes, flowers and portraits of loved ones.

He also began incorporating technology in his art, creating his first homemade prints on a photocopier in 1986. The marriage of art and technology became an ongoing fascination—he used laser fax machines and laser printers in 1990, and in 2009 he started using the Brushes app on iPhones and iPads to create paintings. A 2011 exhibit at the Royal Museum of Ontario showcased 100 of these paintings.

In a 2011 poll of more than 1,000 British artists, Hockney was voted the most influential British artist of all time. He continues to paint and exhibit, and advocates for funding for the arts.

Happy Birthday George Orwell

Today is the 111th birthday of the little boy who’s first word was “beastly” and became George Orwell.  For some reason, they showed the animated version of Animal Farm in school.  I remember finding it exceptionally disturbing, which is the correct response, but I also remember thinking that it was a strange thing to show grade school children.  The first time I read 1984 was in 1984.  My grandmother was the librarian at our local public library at the time and it was one of the most popular books of the year, so she said I needed to read it quickly because people were waiting.  I have read it since and think I probably missed a lot the first time around.  I have included full length videos of both below.

NAME: George Orwell
OCCUPATION: Author, Journalist
BIRTH DATE: June 25, 1903
DEATH DATE: January 21, 1950
EDUCATION: Eton
PLACE OF BIRTH: Motihari, India
PLACE OF DEATH: London, United Kingdom

BEST KNOWN FOR: George Orwell was an English novelist, essayist, and critic most famous for his novels Animal Farm (1945) and Nineteen Eighty-four (1949).

Born Eric Arthur Blair, George Orwell created some of the sharpest satirical fiction of the 20th century with such works as Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-Four. He was a man of strong opinions who addressed some of the major political movements of his times, including imperialism, fascism and communism.

The son of a British civil servant, George Orwell spent his first days in India, where his father was stationed. His mother brought him and his older sister, Marjorie, to England about a year after his birth and settled in Henley-on-Thames. His father stayed behind in India and rarely visited. (His younger sister, Avril, was born in 1908.) Orwell didn’t really know his father until he retired from the service in 1912. And even after that, the pair never formed a strong bond. He found his father to be dull and conservative.

According to one biography, Orwell’s first word was “beastly.” He was a sick child, often battling bronchitis and the flu. Orwell was bit by the writing bug at an early age, reportedly composing his first poem around the age of four. He later wrote, “I had the lonely child’s habit of making up stories and holding conversations with imaginary persons, and I think from the very start my literary ambitions were mixed up with the feeling of being isolated and undervalued.” One of his first literary successes came at the age of 11 when he had a poem published in the local newspaper.

Like many other boys in England, Orwell was sent to boarding school. In 1911 he went to St. Cyprian’s in the coastal town of Eastbourne, where he got his first taste of England’s class system. On a partial scholarship, Orwell noticed that the school treated the richer students better than the poorer ones. He wasn’t popular with his peers, and in books he found comfort from his difficult situation. He read works by Rudyard Kipling and H. G. Wells, among others. What he lacked in personality, he made up for in smarts. Orwell won scholarships to Wellington College and Eton College to continue his studies.

After completing his schooling at Eton, Orwell found himself at a dead end. His family did not have the money to pay for a university education. Instead he joined the India Imperial Police Force in 1922. After five years in Burma, Orwell resigned his post and returned to England. He was intent on making it as a writer.

After leaving the India Imperial Force, Orwell struggled to get his writing career off the ground. His first major work, Down and Out in Paris and London, (1933) explored his time eking out a living in these two cities. Orwell took all sorts of jobs to make ends meet, including being a dishwasher. The book provided a brutal look at the lives of the working poor and of those living a transient existence. Not wishing to embarrass his family, the author published the book under the pseudonym George Orwell.

Sometimes called the conscience of a generation, Orwell next explored his overseas experiences in Burmese Days, published in 1934. The novel offered a dark look at British colonialism in Burma, then part of the country’s Indian empire. Orwell’s interest in political matters grew rapidly after this novel was published. Also around this time, he met Eileen O’Shaughnessy. The pair married in 1936, and Eileen supported and assisted Orwell in his career.

In 1937, Orwell traveled to Spain, where he joined one of the groups fighting against General Francisco Franco in the Spanish Civil War. Orwell was badly injured during his time with a militia, getting shot in the throat and arm. For several weeks, he was unable to speak. Orwell and his wife, Eileen, were indicted on treason charges in Spain. Fortunately, the charges were brought after the couple had left the country.

Other health problems plagued the talented writer not long after his return to England. For years, Orwell had periods of sickness, and he was officially diagnosed with tuberculosis in 1938. He spent several months at the Preston Hall Sanatorium trying to recover, but he would continue to battle with tuberculosis for the rest of his life. At the time he was initially diagnosed, there was no effective treatment for the disease.

To support himself, Orwell took on all sorts of writing work. He wrote numerous essays and reviews over the years, developing a reputation for producing well-crafted literary criticism. In 1941, Orwell landed a job with the BBC as a producer. He developed news commentary and shows for audiences in the eastern part of the British Empire. Orwell enticed such literary greats as T. S. Eliot and E. M. Forster to appear on his programs. With World War II raging on, Orwell found himself acting as a propagandist to advance the country’s side. He loathed this part of his job and resigned in 1943. Around this time, Orwell became the literary editor for a socialist newspaper.

Orwell is best known for two novels, Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-Four, both of which were published toward the end of his life. Animal Farm (1945) was an anti-Soviet satire in a pastoral setting featuring two pigs as its main protagonists. These pigs were said to represent Josef Stalin and Leon Trotsky. The novel brought Orwell great acclaim and financial rewards.

In 1949, Orwell published another masterwork, Nineteen Eighty-Four (or 1984 in later editions). This bleak vision of the world divided into three oppressive nations stirred up controversy among reviewers, who found this fictional future too despairing. In the novel, Orwell gave readers a glimpse into what would happen if the government controlled every detail of a person’s life, down to their own private thoughts.

Nineteen Eighty-Four proved to be another huge success for the author, but he had little time to enjoy it. By this time, Orwell was in the late stages of his battle with tuberculosis. He died on January 21, 1950, in a London hospital. He may have passed away all too soon, but his ideas and opinions have lived on through his work. Both Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-Four have been turned into films and have enjoyed tremendous popularity over the years.

Orwell was married to Eileen O’Shaughnessy until her death in 1945. According to several reports, the pair had an open marriage. Orwell had a number of dalliances during this first marriage. In 1944 the couple adopted a son, whom they named Richard Horatio Blair, after one of Orwell’s ancestors. Their son was largely raised by Orwell’s sister Avril after Eileen’s death.

Near the end of his life, Orwell proposed to editor Sonia Brownell. He married her in 1950, only a short time before his death. Brownell inherited Orwell’s estate and made a career out of managing his legacy.

 

Happy Birthday Vincent Price

Today is the 97th birthday of Vincent Price.  I think my first exposure to him was probably the Hawaiian episodes of the Brady Bunch, followed next by the Michael Jackson “Thriller” music video.  I have since made up for the lack of well-rounded knowledge.  I actually have a copy of “The Bad” on this very computer, as well as the original “House on Haunted Hill.”  His career spanned seven decades and he is imitated regularly on Saturday Night Live, 2o years after his death.  Ladies and gentlemen, Vincent Price.  Style Icon. 

NAME: Vincent Price
OCCUPATION: Film Actor
BIRTH DATE: May 27, 1911
DEATH DATE: October 25, 1993
EDUCATION: Yale University, University of London
PLACE OF BIRTH: Saint Louis, Missouri
PLACE OF DEATH: Los Angeles, California

Best Known For:  American actor Vincent Price starred as the villain in the 1953 film House of Wax, which revitalized the horror genre, and was one of the first films shot in 3D.

Vincent Price was born on May 27, 1911 in St. Louis, Missouri. His acting career began on stage in London in 1935. He also performed with Orson Welles’s Mercury Theatre. In the 1950s, Price started making horror films,  including House of Wax and The Fly. He later worked with Roger Corman on several films based on Edgar Allan Poe stories. Price died on October 25, 1993.

Sometimes called the “Master of Menace,” actor Vincent Price was born on May 27, 1911, and grew up in St. Louis, Missouri. Price was the youngest of four children born to an upper-middle-class family. His father served as the president of a candy company, and he had a cultured upbringing. Price was educated in private schools, and toured Europe at the age of 16. At Yale University, Price studied art history and English. He then traveled to England to pursue the fine arts at University of London.

In 1935, Price landed his first major stage role, playing Prince Albert in a London production of Victoria Regina. The play moved to Broadway, with Helen Hayes as Price’s co-star, and it became a big hit. Before long, Price made his way to the silver screen.

Despite his lasting association with the world of horror, Price started out as a dramatic actor. His tall, lanky frame and distinctive voice lent themselves nicely to character parts. One of Price’s most famous early roles was in the film noir classic Laura (1944) which was directed by Otto Preminger and also starred Gene Tierney. Two years later, he reunited with Tierney for the dramatic thriller Dragonwyck. Price also appeared in some comedies, including 1950’s Champagne for Caesar—one of his favorite film roles.

Price delved into disturbing territory with the 3D hit House of Wax (1953). In the film, he plays a deranged and disfigured artist, who makes wax sculptures using real people. Price also did well with The Fly (1958), a classic science-fiction horror flim about a scientist who has a tragic mishap with a device that he created, as it turns him into a flying insect. In the 1960s, Price appeared in a number of Roger Corman’s low-budget scare-fests. Price also starred in several film adaptations of Edgar Allan Poe stories, including The Masque of the Red Death (1964).

Part of Price’s appeal as a villain was the humor he could inject into these sinister roles. His distinctive voice also contributed to his ability to create tension in films. He spoke in rich, deep tones, which sometimes had an eerie and unsettling quality. Price thought nothing of his famous speech patterns. “To me, I sound like everybody else in Missouri. I think I sound like Harry Truman,” he once said, according to the Los Angeles Times.

One of his most favorite later roles, Price plays an actor who gets his revenge on his critics in Theater of Blood (1973). He voiced the villainous Ratigan in the animated tale The Great Mouse Detective (1986). The following year, Price took a dramatic turn with The Whales of August, playing a Russian paramour to two sisters ( Bette Davis and Lillian Gish).

Price enjoyed success in many arenas outside of cinema; he made numerous television appearances, ranging from The Brady Bunch to the TV series Batman. In the 1980s, he hosted the PBS series Mystery. He also added an ominous air to the Michael Jackson’s 1983 “Thriller” video, by delivering an opening monologue. Price also worked with rocker Alice Cooper.

A lifelong art aficionado, Price wrote several books on his passion. He even served as an art consultant to Sears in the early 1960s, on a line of artworks for sale. A popular lecturer on art, Price also donated some of his art collection to establish the Vincent Price Gallery at East Los Angeles College. Also a devoted foodie, Price co-wrote several cookbooks.

One of Price’s final roles was in Tim Burton’s Edward Scissorhands (1990). In the film, he plays a gentle version of Dr. Frankenstein, who creates a teenage boy (Johnny Depp). Price’s character dies before he finishes his work, leaving the boy with metal scissors for hands.

Around this time, the veteran actor discovered that he had lung cancer. He died of the disease on October 25, 1993, at his Los Angeles home. Predeceased by his third wife, actress Coral Browne, Price was survived by his two children—Vincent Barrett Price, his son from first wife Edith Barrett, and daughter Victoria, from his second marriage to Mary Grant. Victoria Price later wrote a biography on her father. In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, she described him as “a lovely, sweet man,” who was “larger than life”—a far cry from the villains that Price played on the big screen.

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Happy Birthday Leigh Bowery

Today is the 53rd birthday of visionary, artist, and quite possibly alien from the future Leigh Bowery.  It is very brave to make your life performance art. You can see his influences in people are considered ‘edgy’ today.

Born: Leigh Bowery 26 March 1961 Sunshine, Victoria, Australia
Died: 31 December 1994 (aged 33) London, England, United Kingdom
Occupation: performance artist, fashion designer, club promoter, actor and model

Leigh Bowery (26 March 1961 – 31 December 1994) was an Australian performance artist, club promoter, actor, pop star, model and fashion designer, based in London. Bowery is considered one of the more influential figures in the 1980s and 1990s London and New York art and fashion circles influencing a generation of artists and designers. His influence reached through the fashion, club and art worlds to impact, amongst others, Alexander McQueen, Lucian Freud, Vivienne Westwood, Boy George, Antony and the Johnsons, John Galliano, the Scissor Sisters, David LaChapelle, Lady Bunny plus numerous Nu-Rave bands and nightclubs in London and New York which arguably perpetuated his avant garde ideas.

Glimmers of the influences of film maker John Waters and artist Andy Warhol can be seen in his keen appreciation of bad taste, truly outlandish self presentation and a deep desire to shock and confuse. “I want to be the Andy Warhol of London” he once said. “Dressed-up,” he was obviously “Modern Art on legs” (as Boy George commented), but in daytime attire the badly-fitting, obvious, disturbing wigs are a nod to Warhol’s self-presentation strategies that has thus far seemed invisible to both critics and friends alike.
Other art historical parallels include an early 80s attempt at Vincent van Gogh type ear-cutting with friend Trojan (in an attempt to out do nightclub rivals), and as a result inflicted facial perforations that he was warned would not heal (reminiscent of Warhol’s weeping wounds). Bowery made a full auto-couture appearance at the 1986 Warhol show Success is a job in New York at London’s Serpentine Gallery with Nicola and an unknown assistant.

He became known to a wider audience by appearing in a Post-Modernist/Surrealist series of television and cinema and commercials for the Pepe jeans company, MTV London and other commissions such as stage work for rock band U2. He also appeared regularly in articles, vox pops and as cover star in London’s i-D magazine. Bowery was also Art Director for the famous video for Massive Attack’s “Unfinished Sympathy”.

As a character he featured in the stage musical Taboo that was based on the New Romantic movement. It also featured actors playing Marilyn, Boy George, Steve Strange and other stars of the early 1980s. The musical, which was written by Mark Davies with music composed partly by Boy George, was a London West End hit. American media star Rosie O’Donnell financed a much- altered version for Broadway, but this was not successful.
Johnny Rozsa‘s photographs of Bowery have been exhibited in several museums, including the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney, the Kunsthalle in Vienna, and the Kunstverein in Hanover.

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Happy Birthday Anna Maria Piaggi

Anna Maria Piaggi (22 March 1931 – 7 August 2012) was an Italian fashion writer and style icon.

Piaggi was born in Milan in 1931. She worked as a translator for an Italian publishing company Mondadori, then wrote for fashion magazines such as the Italian edition of Vogue and, in the 1980s, the avant-garde magazine Vanity. She was known especially for double page spreads in the Italian Vogue, where her artistic flair was given free expression in a montage of images and text, with layout by Luca Stoppini.

Since 1969, she used a bright red manual Olivetti Valentine typewriter for her work. Piaggi had a large clothes collection, including 2,865 dresses and 265 pairs of shoes, according to a 2006 exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. She dressed in an exuberant, unique and eclectic way, never appearing in the same outfit more than once in public. Such was her influence and knowledge in the fashion world, Manolo Blahnik dubbed her “The world’s last great authority on frocks”.[citation needed]

Her associates in the fashion world included the fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld (from the 1970s), who has often sketched her, and Manolo Blahnik, who is the designer of many of her shoes. She was the muse of British milliner Stephen Jones. She was also an admirer of British clothes designer Vivienne Westwood and her hats, made by Prudence Millinery. She lived in New York and visited London and Italy periodically since the 1950s. Piaggi appeared in the documentary Bill Cunningham New York on the New York Times fashion and social photographer Bill Cunningham.

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Happy Birthday Charlie Chaplin

Tomorrow is the 125th birthday of Charlie Chaplin.  His comedic timing and on-screen brilliance are often imitated, but never have they been completely duplicated.  Watch any of his silent films you can, but also make a point of watching The Great Dictator, specifically his speech called A Message To Mankind.  Links are below.  You will understand clearly how much of a visionary he was and how we can still learn from him today.  Plus, his films are plain fun.  

 

NAME: Charlie Chaplin
OCCUPATION: Comedian
BIRTH DATE: April 16, 1889
DEATH DATE: December 25, 1977
PLACE OF BIRTH: London, England, United Kingdom
PLACE OF DEATH: Corsier-sur-Vevey, Vaud, Switzerland
FULL NAME: Sir Charles Spencer, KBE

BEST KNOWN FOR:  Charlie Chaplin was a comedic British actor who became one of the biggest stars of the 20th century’s silent-film era.

Famous for his character “The Tramp,” the sweet little man with a bowler hat, mustache and cane, Charlie Chaplin was an iconic figure of the silent-film era and one of film’s first superstars, elevating the industry in a way few could have ever imagined.

Born Charles Spencer Chaplin in London, England, on April 16, 1889, Charlie Chaplin’s rise to fame is a true rags-to-riches story. His father, a notorious drinker, abandoned Chaplin, his mother and his older half-brother, Sydney, not long after Chaplin’s birth. That left Chaplin and his brother in the hands of their mother, a vaudevillian and music hall singer who went by the stage name Lily Harley.

Chaplin’s mother, who would later suffer severe mental issues and have to be committed to an asylum, was able to support her family for a few years. But in a performance that would introduce her youngest boy to the world of performance, Hannah inexplicably lost her voice in the middle of a show, prompting the stage manager to push the five-year-old Chaplin, whom he’d heard sing, onto the stage to replace her.

Chaplin lit up the audience, wowing them with his natural presence and comedic angle (at one point he imitated his mother’s cracking voice). But the episode meant the end for Hannah. Her singing voice never returned and she eventually ran out of money. For a time, Charlie and Sydney had to make a new, temporary home for themselves in London’s tough workhouses.

Armed with his mother’s love of the stage, Chaplin was determined to make it in show business himself and in 1897 using his mother’s contacts landed with a clog dancing troupe named the Eight Lancashire Lads. It was a short stint, and not a terribly profitable one, forcing the go-getter Chaplin to make ends meet anyway he could.

“I (was) newsvendor, printer, toymaker, doctor’s boy, etc., but during these occupational digressions, I never lost sight of my ultimate aim to become an actor,” Chaplin later recounted. “So, between jobs I would polish my shoes, brush my clothes, put on a clean collar and make periodic calls at a theatrical agency.”

Eventually other stage work did come his way. Chaplin made his acting debut as a pageboy in a production of Sherlock Holmes. From there he toured with a vaudeville outfit named Casey’s Court Circus and in 1908 teamed up with the Fred Karno pantomime troupe, where Chaplin became one of its stars as The Drunk in the comedic sketch, A Night in an English Music Hall.

With the Karno troupe, Chaplin got his first taste of the United States, where he caught the eye of film producer Mack Sennett, who signed Chaplin to a contract for a $150 a week.

In 1914 Chaplin made his film debut in a somewhat forgettable one-reeler called Make a Living. To differentiate himself from the clad of other actors in Sennett films, Chaplin decided to play a single identifiable character. “The Little Tramp” was born, with audiences getting their first taste of him in Kid Auto Races at Venice (1914).

Over the next year, Chaplin appeared in 35 movies, a lineup that included Tillie’s Punctured Romance, film’s first full-length comedy. In 1915 Chaplin left Sennett to join the Essanay Company, which agreed to pay him $1,250 a week. It’s with Essanay that Chaplin, who by this time had hired his brother Sydney to be his business manager, rose to stardom.

During his first year with the company, Chaplin made 14 films, including The Tramp (1915). Generally regarded as the actor’s first classic, the story establishes Chaplin’s character as unexpected hero when he saves farmer’s daughter from a gang of robbers.

By the age of 26, Chaplin, just three years removed from his vaudeville days was a movie superstar. He’d moved over to the Mutual Company, which paid him a whopping $670,000 a year. The money made Chaplin a wealthy man, but it didn’t seem to derail his artistic drive. With Mutual, he made some of his best work, including One A.M. (1916), The Rink (1916), The Vagabond (1916), and Easy Street (1917).

Through his work, Chaplin came to be known as a grueling perfectionist. His love for experimentation often meant countless retakes and it was not uncommon for him to order the rebuilding of an entire set. It also wasn’t rare for him to begin with one leading actor, realize he’d made a mistake in his casting, and start again with someone new.

But the results were hard to refute. During the 1920s Chaplin’s career blossomed even more. During the decade he made some landmark films, including The Kid (1921), The Pilgrim (1923), A Woman in Paris (1923), The Gold Rush (1925), a movie Chaplin would later say he wanted to be remembered by, and The Circus (1928). The latter three were released by United Artists, a company Chaplin co-founded in 1919 with Douglas Fairbanks, Mary Pickford, and D.W. Griffith.

Chaplin became equally famous for his life off-screen. His affairs with actresses who had roles in his movies were numerous. Some, however, ended better than others.

In 1918 he quickly married 16-year-old Mildred Harris. The marriage lasted two years, and in 1924 he wed again, to another 16-year-old, actress Lita Grey, whom he’d cast in The Gold Rush. The marriage had been brought on by an unplanned pregnancy, and the resulting union, which produced two sons for Chaplin (Charles Jr., and Sydney) was an unhappy one for both partners. The two split in 1927.

In 1936, Chaplin married again, this time to a chorus girl who went by the film name of Paulette Goddard. They lasted until 1942. That was followed by a nasty paternity suit with another actress, Joan Barry, in which tests proved Chaplin was not the father of her daughter but a jury still ordered him to pay child support.

In 1943, Chaplin married 18-year-old Oona O’Neil, the daughter of playwright, Eugene O’Neil. Unexpectedly the two would go on to have a happy marriage, one that would result in eight children for the couple.

Chaplin kept creating interesting and engaging films in the 1930s. In 1931, he released City Lights, a critical and commercial success that incorporated music Chaplin scored himself.

More acclaim came with Modern Times (1936), a biting commentary about the state of world’s economic and political infrastructures. The film, which did incorporate sound and did not include “The Little Tramp” character, was, in part, the result of an 18-month world tour Chaplin had taken between 1931 and 1932, a trip in which he’d witnessed severe economic angst and a sharp rise in nationalism in Europe and elsewhere.

Chaplin spoke even louder in The Great Dictator (1940), which pointedly ridiculed the governments of Hitler and Mussolini. “I want to see the return of decency and kindness,” Chaplin said around the time of the film’s release. “I’m just a human being who wants to see this country a real democracy . . .”

But Chaplin was not universally embraced. His romantic liaisons led to his rebuke by some women’s groups, which in turn led to him being barred from entering some U.S. states. As the Cold War age settled into existence, Chaplin didn’t withhold his fire from injustices he saw taking place in the name of fighting Communism in his adopted country of the United States.

Chaplin soon became a target of the right wing conservatives. Representative John E. Ranking of Mississippi pushed for his deportation. In 1952, the Attorney General of the United States obliged when he announced that Chaplin, who was sailing to Britain on vacation, was not permitted to return to the United States unless he could prove “moral worth.” The incensed Chaplin said goodbye to United States and took up residence on a small farm in Vevey, Switzerland.

Nearing the end of his life, Chaplin did make one last return to visit to the United States in 1972, when he was awarded a special Academy Award from the Motion Picture Academy. The trip came just six years after Chaplin’s final film, A Countess from Hong Kong (1966), the filmmaker’s first and only color movie. Despite a cast that included Sophia Loren and Marlon Brando, the film did poorly at the box office. In 1975, Chaplin received more recognition when Queen Elizabeth knighted him.

In the early morning hours of December 25, 1977, Charlie Chaplin died at his home in Corsier-sur-Vevey, Vaud, Switzerland. His wife Oona and seven of his children were at his bedside at the time of his passing. In a twist that might very well have come out of one of his films, Chaplin’s body was stolen not long after he was buried from his grave near Lake Geneva in Switzerland by two men who demanded $400,000 for its return. The men were arrested and Chaplin’s body was recovered 11 weeks later.

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Happy Birthday Kim Stanley

Kim Stanley (February 11, 1925 – August 20, 2001) was an American actress, primarily in television and theatre, but with occasional film performances.

She began her acting career in theatre, and subsequently attended the Actors Studio in New York City, New York. She received the 1952 Theatre World Award for her role in The Chase (1952), and starred in the Broadway productions of Picnic (1953) and Bus Stop (1955). Stanley was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Play for her roles in A Touch of the Poet (1959) and A Far Country (1962).

During the 1950s, Stanley was a prolific performer in television, and later progressed to film, with a well-received performance in The Goddess (1959). She was the narrator of To Kill a Mockingbird (1962) and starred in Séance on a Wet Afternoon (1964), for which she won the New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actress and was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress. She was less active during the remainder of her career; two of her later film successes were as the mother of Frances Farmer in Frances (1982), for which she received a second Academy Award nomination as Best Supporting Actress, and as Pancho Barnes in The Right Stuff (1983). She received an Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress – Miniseries or a Movie for her performance as Big Mama in a television adaptation of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1985).

She did not act during her later years, preferring the role of teacher, in Los Angeles, California, and later Santa Fe, New Mexico, where she died in 2001, of uterine cancer.

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Happy Birthday Elizabeth Taylor

Today is the 82nd birthday of Elizabeth Taylor.  Everything has already been said and everything should be said about Elizabeth Taylor.  Pick one of her films and watch it and re-fall in love with her.  I can’t even decide which one it should be.  Cat? Place? BUtterfield? Suddenly? Giant? Just watch one.

NAME

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Happy Birthday Anna Pavlova

pavlova

NAME: Anna Pavlova
OCCUPATION: Ballet Dancer, Choreographer
BIRTH DATE: February 12, 1881
DEATH DATE: January 23, 1931
EDUCATION: Imperial School of Ballet at the Mariinsky Theatre
PLACE OF BIRTH: St. Petersburg, Russia
PLACE OF DEATH: The Hague, Netherlands
Full Name: Anna Pavlovna Pavlova

Best Known For:  Anna Pavlova was a famous Russian prima ballerina and choreographer. The company she founded in 1911 was the first to tour ballet around the world.

Ballerina Anna Pavlova was born Anna Matveyevna Pavlovna Pavlova on February 12, 1881–a cold and snowy winter’s day–in St. Petersburg, Russia. Her mother, Lyubov Feodorovna was a washerwoman. Her stepfather, Matvey Pavlov, was a reserve soldier. The identity of Anna Pavlova’s biological father is unknown, though some speculate that her mother had an affair with a banker named Lazar Poliakoff. As a child, Anna preferred to believe she was a product of an earlier marriage. She told people her mother had once been married to a man named Pavel, who died when Anna was just a toddler. Yet this Pavel remains something of a mystery to historians and biographers.

From early on, Anna’s active imagination and love of fantasy drew her to the world of ballet. Looking back on her childhood, Anna Pavlova described her budding passion for ballet accordingly: “I always wanted to dance; from my youngest years…Thus I built castles in the air out of my hopes and dreams.”

Although they were poor, Anna and her mother were able to see a performance of The Sleeping Beauty at the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg when Anna was 8 years old. Captivated by what she saw, the wide-eyed little girl declared she was resolved to become a ballet dancer. Anna’s mother enthusiastically supported her pursuit. Within just two years, Anna was accepted at the St. Petersburg Imperial Ballet School, after passing the entry exam with flying colors. The school was directed by famed ballet master Marius Petipa.

At the Imperial Ballet School, Petipa and Anna’s teachers, Ekaterina Vazem and Pavel Gerdt, quickly recognized her extraordinary gift. A dedicated and ambitious student, Anna knew a successful ballet career would require a lot more than just talent. Her natural gift for dance, combined with her tireless work ethic, is here summarized in her own words: “No one can arrive from being talented alone. God gives talent, work transforms talent into genius.” In 1899 Anna graduated the St. Petersburg Imperial Dance School at the age of 18–gracefully leaping from school to stage in her hard-earned transformation from ballet student to prima ballerina in the making.

Because Anna graduated as a coryphée, she was able to skip right over dancing in a corps de ballet. In other words, she bypassed the usual initiation rite of dancing in large groups, and was permitted to dance in smaller groups right away. Fresh out of dance school, on September 19, 1899, the gifted young ballerina made her company debut, dancing in a group of three in La Fille Mal Gardée.   The performance took place at the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg–the same theater where, as a child, Anna Pavlova had first decided to become a dancer.

Pavlova’s career soon blossomed. With every performance, she gained increasing critical acclaim and subsequent fame. But it was in 1905 that Anna Pavlova made her breakthrough performance, when she danced the lead solo in choreographer Michael Fokine‘s The Dying Swan,  with music by Camille Saint-Saëns. With her delicate movements and intense facial expressions, Anna managed to convey to the audience the play’s complex message about the fragility and preciousness of life. The Dying Swan was to become Anna Pavlova’s signature role.

Anna continued to rise quickly through the ranks. By 1906 she had already successfully danced the difficult part of Giselle. Just seven years into her ballet career, Anna was promoted to prima ballerina.

Accompanied by a handful of other dancers, in 1907, Anna took leave on her first tour abroad. The tour stopped at capital cities throughout Europe–including Berlin, Copenhagen and Prague, among others. In response to the critical acclaim her performances received, Anna signed up for a second tour in 1908.

In 1909, after having completed her second tour, Anna was invited to join Sergei Diaghilev’s Ballet Russe on its historic tour, during the opening season in Paris. Anna’s fellow dancers in the company included the likes of Laurent Novikoff, Thadee Slavinsky, Olga Spessivtzeva, Anatole Vilz and Alexander Volinine. While touring, the Ballet Russe frequently visited Australia, and there played an instrumental role in Russian ballet’s influence on the future of Australian dance. During 1910, Anna toured the United Kingdom and the United States. When she wasn’t dancing solo, her more notable dance partners included Laurent Novikoff and Pierre Vladimirov.

In 1911 Anna Pavlova took a major step in her career–by forming her own ballet company. In so doing, Anna was able to retain complete creative control over performances and even choreograph her own roles. Anna put her husband, Victor Dandré, in charge of organizing her independent tours. For the final two decades of her ballet career, she toured with her company all over the world, as little girls watched in awe and were inspired to become dancers, the same way Anna had been at the Mariinsky Theatre all those years ago.

In 1930, when Anna was 50 years old, her 30-year dance career had come to physically wear on her. She decided to take a Christmas vacation after wrapping up a particularly arduous tour in England. At the end of her vacation, she boarded a train back to The Hague, where she planned to resume dancing. On its way from Cannes to Paris, the train was in an accident. Anna was unharmed in the accident, but she was left waiting out the delay for 12 hours on the platform. It was a snowy evening, and Anna was only wearing only a thin jacket and flimsy silk pajamas. Once in Holland, within days of the accident, she developed double pneumonia. Her illness quickly worsened. On her deathbed, Anna, passionate about dance until her final breath, asked to see her swan costume one last time. She died in The Hague, Netherlands, in the wee hours of the morning, on January 23, 1931. Her ashes were interred at Golders Green Cemetery, near the Ivy House where she had lived with her manager and husband, Victor Dandré, in London,  England.

Anna Pavlova was one of the most celebrated and influential ballet dancers of her time. Her passion and grace are captured in striking photographic portraits. Her legacy lives on through dance schools, societies and companies established in her honor, and perhaps most powerfully, in the future generations of dancers she inspired.

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Happy Birthday Vidal Sassoon

Today is the 86th Birthday of Vidal Sassoon.  He is an incredible example of a self-made man who found inspiration around him and adapted it to his own creations.  He took the service trade of hairdresser/beautician and transformed it into a internationally recognized and respected artistry.

NAME: Vidal Sassoon
OCCUPATION: Entrepreneur
BIRTH DATE: January 17, 1928
DEATH DATE: May 09, 2012
PLACE OF BIRTH: Hammersmith, United Kingdom
PLACE OF DEATH: Los Angeles, California

BEST KNOWN FOR: Vidal Sassoon revolutionized women’s hairstyles in the post-war years and created an international hair-products empire which proclaimed “If you don’t look good, we don’t look good.”

Born in London’s East End, Vidal Sassoon’s beginnings lacked the glamour that he would enjoy later in life. At age five, his carpet-salesman father abandoned the family, leaving his mother, Betty, to support him and his brother, Ivor, on her sweatshop wages. Unable to afford care for her children, she placed her sons in an orphanage, where he would spend the next six years. At 14, his mother put him to work as a shampoo attendant at Cohen’s Beauty and Barber shop. But his introduction to the hairstyling business was interrupted when anti-Semitic fascists, led by Oswald Mosley rioted in the streets of London. Sassoon, whose parents were Sephardic Jews, joined a Jewish organization to battle the fascists and later volunteered to fight in Israel’s War of Independence.

In 1954, the 34-year-old opened his Bond Street salon, having apprenticed under the flamboyant Raymond Besson. Sassoon rejected Bresson’s orthodox style and instead experimented in angular and geometric haircuts that drew inspiration from the modern European architecture springing up across the English Channel. He was particularly influenced by the works of Bauhaus architect Mies Van de Rohe. “Architects have always been my heroes,” he said in an Architectural Digest article published in 2011. “I could not have been more honored than when I met Marcel Breuer and he told me he knew my work. And Rem Koolhaas said he had one of my original cutting books in his library.”

Sassoon’s hairstyles soon became their own kinds of landmarks. During the 1960s, his cuts became an icon of Swinging London just like the miniskirts designed by Mary Quant (who was also a client). His work was featured on covers of Vogue magazine and one of his pixie cuts even appeared atop Mia Farrow in Roman Polanski‘s 1968 film, Rosemary’s Baby. When asked about the short crop in the film, Farrow’s character responds, “It’s Vidal Sassoon. It’s very in.”

In the mid-1960s, he opened his first New York salon and soon expanded to Toronto and Beverly Hills. By the mid-1970s, he oversaw over a dozen salons, a handful of beauty schools, and a hair products business that made more than $100 million in sales. In 1983, he made a decision he would regret later in life: He sold the company to Proctor & Gamble.

In 1956, Sassoon married his first wife, Elaine Wood, whom he divorced in 1963. Four years later, he married actress Beverly Adams, and they had a son and two daughters before breaking up in 1980. (His daughter, Catya, would later die of a drug overdose in 2002.) In 1983, he had a brief marriage to dressage champion and former model Janette Hartford-Davis. In 1992, he married Ronnie Holbook. Sassoon was diagnosed with leukemia in 2009 and died in Los Angeles in 2012.

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