Happy Birthday Frank Sinatra

Today is the 99th birthday of Frank Sinatra.  For some reason, I have always been fond of his version of “Stormy Weather” above all others.  It is from the decade he was with Columbia Records in 40’s and early 50’s and just so perfect.  The world is a better place because Frank was in it and still feels the loss that he has left.

NAME: Frank Sinatra
OCCUPATION: Film Actor, Singer
BIRTH DATE: December 12, 1915
DEATH DATE: May 14, 1998
PLACE OF BIRTH: Hoboken, New Jersey
PLACE OF DEATH: Los Angeles, California
NICKNAME: The Voice, The Sultan of Swoon, Ol’ Blue Eyes, The Chairman of the Board

BEST KNOWN FOR:  Frank Sinatra was one of the most popular entertainers of the 20th century, forging a career as an award-winning singer and film actor.

Francis Albert “Frank” Sinatra was born December 12, 1915, in Hoboken, New Jersey. The only child of Sicilian immigrants, a teenaged Sinatra decided to become a singer after watching Bing Crosby perform. He dropped out of high school, where he was a member of the glee club, and began to sing at local nightclubs. Radio exposure brought him to the attention of bandleader Harry James, with whom Sinatra made his first recordings, including “All or Nothing at All.” In 1940, Tommy Dorsey invited Sinatra to join his band. After two years of chart-topping success with Dorsey, Sinatra decided to strike out on his own.

Between 1943 and 1946, Sinatra’s solo career blossomed as the singer charted 17 different Top 10 singles. The mobs of bobby-soxer fans Sinatra attracted with his dreamy baritone earned him such nicknames as “The Voice” and “The Sultan of Swoon.” “It was the war years, and there was a great loneliness,” recalled Sinatra, who was unfit for military service due to a punctured eardrum. “I was the boy in every corner drugstore who’d gone off, drafted to the war. That was all.”

Sinatra made his movie acting debut in 1943, in Higher and Higher. In 1945, he won a special Academy Award for The House I Live In, a 10-minute short made to promote racial and religious tolerance on the home front. Sinatra’s popularity began to slide in the postwar years, however, leading to a loss of his recording and film contracts in the early 1950s. In 1953, he made a triumphant comeback, winning an Oscar for his portrayal of the Italian-American soldier Maggio in From Here to Eternity. Although this was his first non-singing role, Sinatra quickly found a vocal outlet when he received a new recording contract with Capitol Records in the same year. In his music, the Sinatra of the 1950s brought a more mature sound with jazzier inflections in his voice.

Having regained stardom, Sinatra enjoyed continued success in both film and music for years to come. He received critical acclaim for his performance in the original film of The Manchurian Candidate (1962) and an Academy Award nomination for his work in The Man with the Golden Arm (1955). Meanwhile, he continued to chart Top 10 singles. When his record sales began to dip by the end of the 1950s, Sinatra left Capitol to establish his own record label, Reprise. In association with Warner Bros., which later bought Reprise, Sinatra also set up his own independent film production company, Artanis.

By the mid-1960s, Sinatra was back on top again. He received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award and headlined the 1965 Newport Jazz Festival with Count Basie’s Orchestra. This period also marked his Las Vegas debut, where he continued on for years as a main attraction at Caesars Palace. As a founding member of the “Rat Pack,” alongside Sammy Davis Jr., Dean Martin, Peter Lawford and Joey Bishop, Sinatra came to epitomize the hard-drinking, womanizing, gambling swinger—an image constantly reinforced by the popular press and Sinatra’s own albums. With his modern edge and timeless class, not to mention hits like 1968’s iconic “My Way,” even the radical youth had to pay Sinatra his due. As Jim Morrison of the Doors once said, “No one can touch him.”

After a brief retirement in the early 1970s, Sinatra returned to the music scene with the album “Ol’ Blue Eyes Is Back” (1973) and also became more politically active. Having first visited the White House in 1944 while campaigning for Franklin D. Roosevelt in his bid for a fourth term in office, Sinatra worked eagerly for John F. Kennedy’s election in 1960 and later supervised JFK’s inaugural gala in Washington. The relationship between the two soured, however, after the president canceled a weekend visit to Sinatra’s house due to the singer’s connections to Chicago mob boss Sam Giancana. By the 1970s, Sinatra had abandoned his long-held Democratic loyalties and embraced the Republican Party, supporting first Richard Nixon and later his close friend Ronald Reagan, who presented Sinatra with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian award, in 1985.

Frank Sinatra married his childhood sweetheart, Nancy Barbato, in 1939. They had three children together—Nancy (born in 1940), Frank Sinatra Jr. (born in 1944) and Tina (born in 1948)—before their marriage unraveled in the late 1940s.

In 1951, Sinatra married actress Ava Gardner; after they split, Sinatra remarried a third time, to Mia Farrow, in 1966. That union, too, ended in divorce (in 1968), and Sinatra married for a fourth and final time in 1976, to Barbara Blakely Marx, the widow of comedian Zeppo Marx. The two remained together until Sinatra’s death more than 20 years later.

In October 2013, Mia Farrow, made headlines after stating that Sinatra could be the father of her 25-year-old son, Ronan, in an interview with Vanity Fair. Ronan is Farrow’s only official biological child with Woody Allen. Also during the interview, she called Sinatra the love of her life, saying, “We never really split up.” In response to the buzz surrounding his mother’s comments, Ronan jokingly tweeted: “Listen, we’re all *possibly* Frank Sinatra’s son.”

In 1987, author Kitty Kelley published an unauthorized biography of Sinatra, accusing the singer of relying on mob ties to build his career. Such claims failed to diminish Sinatra’s widespread popularity. In 1993, at the age of 77, Sinatra gained legions of new, younger fans with the release of Frank Sinatra Duets, a collection of 13 Sinatra standards that he rerecorded alongside the likes of Barbra Streisand, Bono, Tony Bennett and Aretha Franklin.

Sinatra performed in concert for the last time in 1995 at the Palm Desert Marriott Ballroom in California. On May 14, 1998, Frank Sinatra died of a heart attack at Los Angeles’ Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. He was 82 years old and had, at last, faced his final curtain. With a show business career that spanned more than 50 years, Sinatra’s continued mass appeal can best be explained in the man’s own words: “When I sing, I believe. I’m honest.”

Happy Birthday Melvil Dewey

Today is the 164th birthday of Melvil Dewey.  We all know him from his categorizing of books in libraries using his namesake system.  I spent a lot of time in libraries as a kid, both my grandmothers were librarians.  Libraries were so quiet and cold.  I have fond memories of my time spent in a lot of them.  The world is a better place because Melvil was in it and still feels the loss that he has left.

Melvil_Dewey

NAME: Melvil Dewey
OCCUPATION: Educator, Scholar, Journalist
BIRTH DATE: December 10, 1851
DEATH DATE: December 26, 1931
EDUCATION: Amherst College, Alfred University
PLACE OF BIRTH: Adams Center, New York
PLACE OF DEATH: Lake Placid, Florida

BEST KNOWN FOR: Melvil Dewey was a librarian and scholar who developed the Dewey Decimal System for cataloging books and other library materials.

Melville Louis Kossuth Dewey was born in Adams Center, New York, on December 10, 1851. Dewey took an interest in education and spelling reform from a young age. He changed his name to the more efficient “Melvil” and his last name to “Dui.” He attended Alfred University and Amherst College, from which he graduated with bachelor’s and master’s degrees.

Immediately after receiving his undergraduate degree, Dewey was hired to manage Amherst’s library and reclassify its collections. He came up with a system of decimal numbers used to classify a structure of knowledge first outlined by Sir Francis Bacon.

Dewey copyrighted the system in 1876. This system has proved to be enormously influential and remains in widespread use.

In 1877, Dewey moved to Boston, where he founded and became editor of The Library Journal. The journal became an influential factor in the development of libraries in America, and in the reform of their administration. Dewey was also among the founders of the American Library Association.

Dewey became librarian of Columbia College in 1883. The following year, he founded the School of Library Economy—the first school for librarians ever organized. When Dewey relocated to Albany in 1889, he took the school with him. It eventually returned to Columbia in 1926. Dewey also served as director of the New York State Library from 1888 to 1906. During his tenure he reorganized the state library and established a system of traveling libraries and picture collections.

Dewey founded the Lake Placid Club with his wife, Annie, in 1895, and helped to organize the Olympic Games there. The Lake Placid Club was a private institution with a policy of excluding Jews and other minorities. Close to 10 years later, the New York State Board of Regents received a petition demanding that Dewey be removed as State Librarian because of his ties to the Lake Placid Club. The Regents issued a formal rebuke, leading Dewey to resign his position in 1905.

In 1926, Melvil Dewey traveled to Florida to establish a new branch of the Lake Placid Club. He died on December 26, 1931, in Lake Placid, Florida.

Happy Birthday Louis Prima

Today is the 103rd birthday of Louis Prima.

louis primaNAME: Louis Prima
OCCUPATION: Actor, Trumpet Player, Singer, Songwriter
BIRTH DATE: December 7, 1911
DEATH DATE: August 24, 1978
PLACE OF BIRTH: New Orleans, Louisiana
PLACE OF DEATH: New Orleans, Louisiana

BEST KNOWN FOR: Louis Prima was an influential jazz trumpeter, singer and composer known for songs like “Sing, Sing, Sing,” “Angelina,” “Buona Sera” and “Jump, Jive an’ Wail.”

Louis Prima was born on December 7, 1911, in New Orleans, Louisiana. Though initially taking up the violin, Prima switched to the trumpet and began playing in city venues as a teen. By the mid-1930s, at the behest of bandleader Guy Lombardo, Prima had moved to New York City and formed his own band, the New Orleans Gang. By the end of the decade, Prima had switched to leading a big band known as the Gleeby Rhythm Orchestra with which he recorded.

Prima would come to be known not only for his trumpet playing and strong songwriting but also for his emotive, textured baritone, and as such invited comparison to iconic trumpet player and singer Louis Armstrong. In the mid-1930s Prima also composed one of the most well-known songs in popular jazz history–the pulsating, primal “Sing, Sing, Sing,” which would become a major hit for Benny Goodman. Prima appeared in films like You Can’t Have Everything (1937) and Rose of Washington Square (1939) as well.

Partner Keely Smith and Becoming ‘The Wildest!

After World War II, Prima scored a number of hits that played up his Italian heritage with a humorous bent, including “Angelina,” “Felicia No Capicia” and “Josephina, No Leana on the Bell.” In 1947, Prima met Dorothy Keely, a young jazz singer from Virginia. She eventually joined Prima’s band and was given the stage name Keely Smith. The two married, with Smith becoming Prima’s fourth spouse. The witty husband and wife team were known for their disarming onstage juxtaposition, as Smith exhibited a cool, calm presence in counterpoint to Prima’s hustle and bustle antics.

After a period of limited activity, the duo became one of the biggest acts in Las Vegas in the mid-1950s with a tour-de-force, electrifying act known as The Wildest. The rebirth came partially as a result of the influence of Sam Butera, a saxophonist who also hailed from New Orleans. Butera created a sonic palette for Prima’s new accompanying band The Witnesses that was a fusion of sounds with an emphasis on a shuffle beat.

Prima made his Capitol Records debut in 1956 with The Wildest!, which contained major hits like “Just a Gigolo/I Ain’t Got Nobody,” “The Lip,” “Buona Sera” and “Jump Jive an’ Wail.” (“Gigolo” would be covered by long-haired rocker David Lee Roth in the ’80s.) Prima recorded several albums under Capitol, with he and Smith winning a Grammy in 1958, costarring in the film Hey Boy! Hey Girl! the following year and singing for President John F. Kennedy’s inauguration. Despite the successes, the two divorced in 1961.

Prima and Butera’s act were soon joined by vocalist Gia Maione, who wed Prima in 1963. Prima recorded for his own imprint Prima One Magnagroove before starring in Walt Disney’s 1967 animated film The Jungle Book. Providing the voice of the swinging king of the apes, Louie, Prima recorded the classic “I Wan’na Be Like You,” with the movements of he and his band serving as inspiration for Disney animators. Prima later recorded songs for the Disney film The Rescuers (1977) that remained unreleased until the 2000s.

Prima continued to play together in Vegas for a time and by the ’70s had returned to New Orleans. In 1975, he underwent surgery to have a brain tumor removed and lapsed into a coma, in which he remained until his death in 1978. He was survived by Maione and their children Louis Jr. and Lena, both of whom have pursued musical careers as well.

Maione has worked to maintain the Prima estate and helped to keep his legacy alive in the pop culture canon, including overseeing his music’s usage in a number of films that have included Analyze This and Swingers. A 1999 documentary appeared on the musician’s life as well–Louis Prima: The Wildest.

FILMOGRAPHY AS ACTOR
Rafferty and the Gold Dust Twins (2-Feb-1975)
The Jungle Book (18-Oct-1967) [VOICE]
Twist All Night (12-Dec-1961)
Hey Boy! Hey Girl! (5-Aug-1959) · Himself
Senior Prom (Dec-1958) · Himself
Rose of Washington Square (5-May-1939) · Band Leader
Start Cheering (3-Mar-1938) · Himself
You Can’t Have Everything (3-Aug-1937)

Happy Birthday Ira Gershwin

ira gershwin

NAME: Ira Gershwin
OCCUPATION: Songwriter
BIRTH DATE: December 6, 1896
DEATH DATE: August 17, 1983
EDUCATION: City College of New York
PLACE OF BIRTH: New York, New York
PLACE OF DEATH: Beverly Hills, California

BEST KNOWN FOR: Lyricist Ira Gershwin wrote for popular musicals like Porgy and Bess in the 1920s and ’30s. He was in the first writing team to win a Pulitzer for songwriting.

Lyricist Ira Gershwin was born as Israel Gershowitz in New York, New York, on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, on December 6, 1896. The oldest of four children born to Russian Jewis immigrants Rosa Bruskin and Morris Gershovitz, the future lyricist was always a bookish child. Unlike his brother George, whose interests were primarily musical, young Ira’s ran more along literary lines. The family moved frequently throughout Gershwin’s childhood due to his father’s ever-changing job status. In 1914, the word-loving Gershwin enrolled as an English major at City College of New York, but dropped out after only two years.

Gershwin spent the next several years taking after his father, moving from job to job. He worked at various times as a steam room attendant, a photographer’s assistant and a business manager for a carnival. Occasionally, Gershwin would write theater reviews, but otherwise he did not show much promise as a writer. Meanwhile, his brother George was making a name for himself in the music business, composing and arranging, as well as making a brief foray into vaudeville.

At his brother’s prompting, Gershwin took a shot writing lyrics for one of his songs. Their first collaboration came in 1918 with “The Real American Folk Song,” which appeared in Ladies First. Ira Gershwin once said, “I always felt that if George hadn’t been my brother and pushed me, I’d have been contented to be a bookkeeper.” He continued writing lyrics, but often under the pen name Arthur Francis, a playful combination of the names of his younger brother and sister.

Still using his pen name, Ira wrote his first published song, “You May Throw All the Rice You Desire but Please Friends, Throw No Shoes.” He followed up in 1921 with his first stage success, providing lyrics for the show Two Little Girls in Blue. The critically acclaimed show was produced by Abraham Erlanger and co-composed by Vincent Youmans and Paul Lannin.

In 1922, the Gershwin brothers came together again creatively to write the first major hit of their career, I’ll Build a Stairway to Paradise. In 1924, they followed up with the hit show Lady, Be Good! The next decade of collaboration would cement the brothers firmly in American musical history; combining their talents, they wrote for Broadway musicals, operettas and even vaudeville. In the 1920s, their big hits included Tip Toes (1925), Oh, Kay (1926) and Funny Face (1927).

On September 14, 1926, Ira Gershwin married Leonore Strunsky. Around the same time, the Gershwin brothers decided to combine their personal lives as well as their professional careers, moving both families into one five-story house in Manhattan. During this time, the house served as a creative nerve center for the brothers; artists, musicians and friends could be seen coming and going at all hours of the day and night.

Soon, however, the frantic pace became too much and Ira Gershwin retreated to spend some time on a farm north of the city. His brother would join him in the spring and summer to work and collaborate. It was there that the two wrote and re-wrote Funny Face and Smarty.

Biographers and music historians note that the brothers’ huge popularity was due, in part, to their innovative new style and combinations. Ira Gershwin in particular was adept at implementing new lyrical styles, playing with timing and unusual word combinations. Charles Schwartz once said that the brothers had “the uncanny knack for coming up with the fresh and the novel ballads appropriate for their time and genre with wonderfully creative lyrics, songs of chivalric love and gallantry.”

In 1928, the Gershwins and their wives went on a trip to Europe that included stops in Vienna, London and Paris. Their journey across the Atlantic ended up becoming the inspiration for the iconic orchestral, “An American in Paris.” Four years later, Ira Gershwin shared the honor of a Pulitzer Prize with writers George S. Kaufman and Morrie Ryskind for the score of the musical comedy, “Of Thee I Sing.” The award gave the men the distinction of the first ever Pulitzer Prize for songwriting.

The Gershwin brothers’ biggest triumph came in 1935 with their famous “folk opera,” Porgy and Bess. The characters in the musical are almost exclusively African-Americans hailing from Charleston, South Carolina. The Gershwins insisted on hiring only black singers to play the parts, a progressive move at a time when blackface entertainment was still common. Musically, the composition was the brothers’ most ambitious and successful, and it remains a popular production even today.

After Porgy and Bess, Ira Gershwin began working almost exclusively on motion pictures, spending much of his time in Hollywood. For his work on “They Can’t Take That Away From Me” (1937), “Long Ago and Far Away” (1944) and “The Man That Got Away” (1954), the lyricist was nominated for three Academy Awards.

In 1937, Ira Gershwin’s beloved brother and partner, George Gershwin, died of a brain tumor. Throughout their lives, Ira had functioned as his brother’s business manager and always looked after his finances. After George’s death, Ira devoted himself to organizing his brother’s legacy in the hopes of preserving it for future generations. His work paid off and the Library of Congress now has an extensive Gershwin Collection dedicated to that end.

1940, Ira Gershwin began writing and collaborating again with the likes of Jerome Kern, Kurt Weill and Harold Arlen. The famed lyricist said his goodbye to Broadway in 1946 with his last work for the stage, Park Avenue. He spent the rest of his life working on the family archive with historian Michael Feinstein.

Though he died on August 17, 1983 in Beverly Hills, California, symbols of his legacy and contribution continue to live on. In the Gershwin Room of the Library of Congress, curious visitors can see George’s piano and Ira’s typewriter on display. Despite his more bookish nature, the older brother and lyricist of the famed pair was just as invested in the joy of music, once saying, “Life is one long jubilee.”

Happy Birthday Margaret Cho

I remember first seeing Margaret Cho on TV, it was a stand up routine and they played it often on some cable channel.  There was a part about her brother being a born-again-christian surfer and of course, her mother.  I have loved her ever since.  Today is her 46th birthday.  Since I normally chronicle either people a lot older or dead people, I usually don’t include their various social media platforms, but Margaret is alive and creating content constantly.  I love her podcast and her Youtube channel.  Coincidentally, yesterday, Margaret followed be back on Twitter.  Little old me.  So for her birthday, click on her clicks and follow/like/ingest and wish her a happy birthday.

NAME: Margaret Cho
BIRTH DATE: December 5, 1968
PLACE OF BIRTH: San Francisco, California
OFFICIAL WEBSITE: http://www.margaretcho.com/
YOUTUBE: https://www.youtube.com/user/mcho88
TWITTER: https://twitter.com/margaretcho
PODCAST: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/monsters-of-talk-podcast/id594033255
INSTAGRAM: http://instagram.com/margaret_cho

BEST KNOWN FOR: Margaret Cho is a Korean-American comic best known for her candid comedy, TV roles and advocacy.

Margaret Cho was born on December 5, 1968 and raised in San Francisco. Her career as a viciously sharp-tongued and unfiltered stand-up comedian began in her teen years. By her 20s, this Korean-American performer found herself starring in her own short-lived TV sitcom, All-American Girl. Since then, Cho has been the highlight of many comedy specials, tours and albums, as well as films and books. Her reign entertaining TV audiences has continued, too, with Dancing with the Stars, Drop Dead Diva and 30 Rock. When not cracking up the masses, this funny lady focuses her energies on advocating for gay rights and fighting racism and sexism.

Born Margaret Moran Cho on December 5, 1968, Margaret Cho grew up on San Francisco’s Haight Street during the 1970s. “There were old hippies, ex-druggies, burnouts from the ’60s, drag queens and Chinese people,” the Korean-American comic said of her official site. Her upbringing provided plenty of fodder for Cho’s early standup days. Her first comedic inspiration may have been her father, who once wrote Korean jokes books.

Humor definitely helped a pubescent Cho deal with teenage angst and bullying. She started doing standup at age 14, and by the 1990s, she had moved to Los Angeles, where her comic career gained traction. Cho’s first nighttime gig was on The Arsenio Hall Show. She became known for her outspoken and sometimes crude routines, as well as an ability to shed light on prejudices and stereotypes, especially those relating to gays, women and Asian-Americans.

Cho followed in the footsteps of other comedians by eventually earning her own TV sitcom: All-American Girl debuted on ABC in 1994, and was based on Cho’s real life as a rebellious Korean-American young woman amidst more traditional relatives. The series was groundbreaking, as it was the first primetime show to focus on an Asian-American family. While it was supposed to be her real big break, Cho has always been quite vocal over her dissatisfaction with the show, especially with, as she calls it, the network haranguing her to “act more Asian” and lose weight. In fact, Cho has often recalled publicly how she wound up with kidney failure after starving herself for her series.

Despite the cancelation of All-American Girl after only 19 episodes, Cho’s comic career continued to soar, especially after her critically acclaimed off-Broadway show, I’m the One that I Want, which was also developed into a concert film. Her Notorious C.H.O. performance at Carnegie Hall led to another smash film. The tours and taped specials haven’t stopped since, nor has Cho’s interest in TV stardom. She took another stab at her own program in 2008: VH1’s The Cho Show was a scripted reality approach to the comic’s life, featuring her real life entourage and parents. The following year, she was cast on Lifetime’s hit show, Drop Dead Diva, as lead actress Brooke Elliot’s assistant sidekick—a role that Cho has continued for four seasons.

Filmed at the Seattle Paramount:

TELEVISION
Drop Dead Diva Teri Lee (2009-)
Dancing with the Stars Contestant (2010)
All-American Girl Margaret Kim (1994)

FILMOGRAPHY AS ACTOR
Wedding Palace (27-Sep-2013)
Bettie Page Reveals All (8-Sep-2012)
Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop (13-Mar-2011) · Herself
Miss Representation (20-Jan-2011) · Herself
17 Again (11-Mar-2009)
One Missed Call (4-Jan-2008)
Falling for Grace (20-Jul-2007) · Janie
Bam Bam and Celeste (13-Sep-2005)
Margaret Cho: Assassin (2-Sep-2005) · Herself
Nobody Knows Anything! (2003) · Rental Car Agent
Notorious C.H.O. (13-Jun-2002) · Herself
The Thin Pink Line (7-Oct-2000)
I’m the One That I Want (4-Aug-2000) · Herself
$pent (21-Jul-2000)
Get Bruce (24-Jan-1999) · Herself
Can’t Stop Dancing (16-Jan-1999)
The Tavern (1999)
The Rugrats Movie (20-Nov-1998) [VOICE]
Ground Control (26-Aug-1998)
Face/Off (27-Jun-1997) · Wanda
Fakin’ Da Funk (1997)
It’s My Party (11-Jan-1996)
Sweethearts (1996) · Noreen
The Doom Generation (25-Oct-1995) · Clerk’s Wife
Attack of the 5 Ft. 2 Women (21-Aug-1994) · Connie Tong
Angie (4-Mar-1994) · Admissions Nurse #2

Author of books:
I’m the One That I Want (2001, memoir)
I Have Chosen to Stay and Fight (2005, memoir)

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Happy Birthday Charles Schulz

Today is the 92nd birthday of the Charlie Brown illustrator Charles Shulz.  The world is a better place because Charles was in it and still feels that loss that Charles has left.

charles schulz1NameCharles Schulz
Occupation:  Writer, Illustrator
Birth Date:  November 26, 1922
Death Date:  February 12, 2000
Place of BirthMinneapolis, Minnesota
Place of DeathSanta Rosa, California

BEST KNOWN FOR:  Charles Schulz was the creator and cartoonist behind Peanuts, a globally popular comic strip that expanded into TV, books and other merchandise.

Cartoonist and creator of the Peanuts comic strip Charles Schulz was born on November 26, 1922, in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Schulz developed an interest in comics early on. As a teenager, he learned the art of cartooning from a correspondence course.
‘Peanuts’

After serving in World War II, Schulz worked as an art instructor and created his first comic strip, Li’l Folks, which was published in a local newspaper. He sold the comic strip to United Feature Syndicate in 1950, and the company retitled it Peanuts.

Peanuts became one of the world’s most successful strips, and has been adapted for television and stage. Schulz based the Charlie Brown character on himself and the inspiration for Snoopy came from a childhood pet.
Illness and Death

In December 1999, Schulz retired from cartooning, citing health problems. His final daily Peanuts newspaper strip appeared on January 3, 2000, and his Sunday Peanuts strip ran on February 7, 2000. A few days later, on February 12, Schulz died at his home in Santa Rosa, California, from colon cancer.

After his death, Schulz received several honors, including the Congressional Gold Medal from the U.S. Congress in 2001.

Happy Birthday Patrick Nagel

Today is the 69th birthday of the artist Patrick Nagel.  If you grew up in the 80’s or have ever been to a nail salon in a strip mall, you know his work.  You probably didn’t know his story, which is where I come in.  I love the stylized era of his work, it takes me right back to watching music videos on MTV.  I think of Remington Steele, huge brick cell phones, and Duran Duran.  I hope this helps you appreciate his work and gives you a fuller understanding of the man behind the woman in sunglasses.  The world is a better place because Nagel was in it and still feels the loss that Nagel has left.

Name:  Patrick Nagel
Born: 25-Nov-1945
Birthplace: Dayton, OH
Died: 4-Feb-1984
Location of death: Santa Monica, CA

BEST KNOWN FOR:  Illustrator whose work consists of minimal paintings of women with white skin, black hair, and the barest hint of a nose. Recognisable work includes the cover of Duran Duran’s Rio (1984).

Patrick Nagel (November 25, 1945 – February 4, 1984) was an American artist. He created popular illustrations on board, paper, and canvas, most of which emphasize the simple grace of and beauty of the female form, in a distinctive style descended from Art Deco. He is best known for his illustrations for Playboy magazine, and the pop group Duran Duran, for whom he designed the cover of the best selling album Rio.

Nagel was born in Dayton, Ohio in 1945, but was raised and spent most of his life in the Los Angeles area. After serving in the United States Army with the 101st Airborne in Vietnam, Nagel attended the Chouinard Art Institute in Los Angeles in 1969, and in that same year he received his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from California State University, Fullerton.

In 1971, Nagel worked as a graphic designer for ABC Television, producing graphics for promotions and news broadcasts. The following year, he began work as a freelance artist for major corporations and magazines, including Architectural Digest, Harper’s Magazine, IBM, ITT Corporation, MGM, Oui, Rolling Stone, United Artists, and Universal Studios.
In 1976, Nagel began to regularly contribute images to Playboy magazine, which improved his exposure and the popularity of “the Nagel Woman” image to a huge audience. In 1978, he made his first poster image for Mirage Editions, with whom he would print many Nagel women images.

Nagel’s 1982 painting for the album cover of rock group Duran Duran’s hit album Rio would become one of his best known images.

He also worked for many commercial clients, including Intel, Lucky Strike cigarettes, Ballentine Whiskey, and Budweiser. As his popularity grew he began offering limited edition prints of his work.

Nagel would start with a photograph and work down, always simplifying and removing elements which he felt were unnecessary. The resulting image would look flat, but emphasized those elements which he felt were most important.

According to Elena G. Millie, curator of the poster collection at the Library of Congress:

Like some of the old print masters (Toulouse-Lautrec and Bonnard, for example), Nagel was influenced by the Japanese woodblock print, with figures silhouetted against a neutral background, with strong areas of black and white, and with bold line and unusual angles of view. He handled colors with rare originality and freedom; he forced perspective from flat, two-dimensional images; and he kept simplifying, working to get more across with fewer elements. His simple and precise imagery is also reminiscent of the art-deco style of the 1920s and 1930s- its sharp linear treatment, geometric simplicity, and stylization of form yield images that are formal yet decorative.

Nagel’s figures generally have black hair, bright white skin, full-lipped mouths, and the distinctive Nagel eyes, which are often squared off in the later works. Because of the intense stylization and reduction of facial features into clean lines, generally the figures resemble each other, though Nagel worked with many models, including Playboy Playmates Cathy St. George, Tracy Vaccaro and Shannon Tweed. Nagel also painted several celebrity portraits including those of Joan Collins (whose portrait was subsequently released as a limited edition print) and Joanna Cassidy.

In 1984, at the age of 38, the artist participated in a 15-minute celebrity “Aerobathon” to raise funds for the American Heart Association. Afterwards, he was found dead in his car, and doctors determined by autopsy that he had suffered a heart attack.