Happy Birthday Yves Saint Laurent

Today is the 78th birthday of Yves Saint Laurent.

NAME: Yves Saint Laurent
OCCUPATION: Fashion Designer
BIRTH DATE: August 1, 1936
DEATH DATE: June 1, 2008
PLACE OF BIRTH: Oran, Algeria
PLACE OF DEATH: Paris, France
FULL NAME:  Yves Henri-Donat-Mathieu Saint Laurent

BEST KNOWN FOR: Yves Saint Laurent was best known as an influential European fashion designer who impacted fashion in the 1960s to the present day.

Yves Henri Donat Matthieu Saint Laurent was born on August 1, 1936, in Oran, Algeria, to Charles and Lucienne Andrée Mathieu-Saint-Laurent. He grew up in a villa by the Mediterranean with his two younger sisters, Michelle and Brigitte. While his family was relatively well off—his father was a lawyer and insurance broker who owned a chain of cinemas—childhood for the future fashion icon was not easy. Saint Laurent was not popular in school, and was often bullied by schoolmates for appearing to be homosexual. As a consequence, Saint Laurent was a nervous child, and sick nearly every day.

He found solace, however, in the world of fashion. He liked to create intricate paper dolls, and by his early teen years he was designing dresses for his mother and sisters. At the age of 17, a whole new world opened up to Saint Laurent when his mother took him to Paris for a meeting she’d arranged with Michael de Brunhoff, the editor of French Vogue.

A year later, Saint Laurent, who had impressed de Brunhoff with his drawings, moved to Paris and enrolled at the Chambre Syndicale de la Couture, where his designs quickly gained notice. De Brunhoff also introduced Saint Laurent to designer Christian Dior, a giant in the fashion world. “Dior fascinated me,” Saint Laurent later recalled. “I couldn’t speak in front of him. He taught me the basis of my art. Whatever was to happen next, I never forgot the years I spent at his side.” Under Dior’s tutelage, Saint Laurent’s style continued to mature and gain still more notice.

In 1960 Saint Laurent was called back to his home country of Algeria to fight for its independence. He managed to secure an exemption based on health grounds, but when he returned to Paris, Saint Laurent found that his job with Dior had disappeared. The news, at first, was traumatic for the young, fragile designer. Then it became ugly, with Saint Laurent successfully suing his former mentor for breach of contract, and collecting £48,000.

The money and the freedom soon presented Saint Laurent with a unique opportunity. In cooperation with his partner and lover, Pierre Berge, the designer resolved to open his own fashion house. With the rise of pop culture and a general yearning for original, fresh designs, Saint Laurent’s timing couldn’t have been better.

Over the next two decades, Saint Laurent’s designs sat atop the fashion world. Models and actresses gushed over his creations. He outfitted women in blazers and smoking jackets, and introduced attire like the pea coat to the runway. His signature pieces also included the sheer blouse and the jumpsuit.

By the 1980s, Yves Saint Laurent was a true icon. He became the first designer to have a retrospective on his work at the Metropolitan Museum in New York City. Under the direction of Berge, who continued to manage Saint Laurent’s firm even though the two had broken up in 1986, the fashion house flourished as a money making venture.

But Saint Laurent struggled. He became reclusive, and fought addictions to alcohol and cocaine. Some in the fashion world complained that the designer’s work had grown stale.

In the early 1990s, Saint Laurent found firmer footing. His designs were rediscovered by a fashion elite that had grown tired of the grunge movement that dominated the runways. Saint Laurent, too, seemed to have conquered his demons. By the end of the decade, with Saint Laurent slowing down his work pace, he and Berge had sold the company they’d started, netting the two men a fortune.

In January 2002, Saint Laurent participated in his final show and then retired for good in Marrakech. Five years later, Saint Laurent’s imprint and importance on French culture was cemented when he was appointed Grand Officer of the Legion d’honnerur by French President, Nicolas Sarkozy.

Yves Saint Laurent passed away in Paris on June 1, 2008 after a brief illness.

Happy Birthday Stanley Kubrick

Today is the 86th birthday of Stanley Kubrick.

NAME: Stanley Kubrick
OCCUPATION: Director, Producer, Screenwriter
BIRTH DATE: July 26, 1928
DEATH DATE: March 7, 1999
PLACE OF BIRTH: New York, New York
PLACE OF DEATH: Childwickbury Manor, Hertfordshire, England, United Kingdom

BEST KNOWN FOR: Stanley Kubrick was an American filmmaker best known for directing Dr. Strangelove, Clockwork Orange, 2001: A Space Odyssey, The Shining and Full Metal Jacket.

Famed filmmaker Stanley Kubrick was born in New York City on July 26, 1928, and grew up in the Bronx, New York, where his father, Jacques Kubrick, worked as a doctor and his mother, Sadie (Perveler) Kubrick, was a housewife. He had a younger sister, Barbara.

Kubrick never adjusted to or did well in school. In elementary school, his attendance record was evenly split between days absent and present. In high school, he was a social outcast and the prototypical underachiever, ranking at the bottom of his class, despite his intelligence. “I never learned anything at school, and I never read a book for pleasure until I was 19,” he once said.

Kubrick’s early ambitions were to become a writer or play baseball. “I started out thinking if I couldn’t play for the Yankees, I’d be a novelist,” he later remembered. Seeking creative endeavors rather than to focus on his academic status, Kubrick played the drums in his high school’s jazz band; its vocalist later became known as Eydie Gorme. Kubrick also displayed early promise as a photographer for the school paper, and at age 16, began selling his photos to Look magazine. A year later, he was hired for the staff of the magazine. When not traveling for Look, he spent most of his evenings at the Museum of Modern Art.

Toward the end of his high school career, Kubrick applied to several colleges, but was turned down for admission by all of them.

Kubrick began to explore the art of filmmaking in the 1950s. His first films were documentary shorts financed by friends and relatives. His first feature, the 1953 military drama Fear and Desire, was made independently of a studio—an uncommon practice for the time. Early into his filmmaking career, Kubrick acted as cinematographer, editor and soundman, in addition to directing. Later, he would also write and produce.

Kubrick made 10 feature films from 1957 to 1998, with early releases including the acclaimed films Spartacus (1960); Lolita (1962), based on the novel by Vladimir Nabokov; and Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964). Denied official cooperation from the U.S. armed services during the filming of Dr. Strangelove, Kubrick went on to construct sets from photographs and other public sources.

Kubrick released his most popular film, 2001: A Space Odyssey, in 1968, after working diligently on the production for a number of years—from co-writing the script with sci-fi writer Arthur C. Clarke to working on the special effects, to directing. The film earned Kubrick 13 Academy Award nominations; he won one for his special effects work.

While Odyssey was an enormous success, its first public screening was an unmitigated disaster. The film was shown on the same night that Lyndon Johnson announced he would not seek re-election; coincidentally, it was rumored that the studio head would lose his job if the film wasn’t a hit. When the audience left the theater in droves, the studio’s publicity department said, “Gentlemen, tonight we have lost two presidents.” The film subsequently garnered a great deal of media coverage and soon became a massive hit; it was still in theaters in 1972, four years after its release.

Kubrick went on to win further acclaim with the films Clockwork Orange (1971); the costumer drama Barry Lyndon (1975), for which he personally approved each costume for thousands of extras in battle scenes; The Shining (1980), which evidenced his predilection for multiple takes (he shot one scene with star Jack Nicholson 134 times); and the popular drama Full Metal Jacket (1987), starring R. Lee Ermey, Adam Baldwin and Vincent D’Onofrio.

After moving to England in the early 1960s, Kubrick slowly gained a reputation as a recluse. He gradually reduced the time he spent anywhere other than on a studio set or in his home office, refused most interview requests and was rarely photographed, never formally. He kept to a schedule of working at night and sleeping during the day, which allowed him to keep North American time. During this time, he had his sister, Mary, tape Yankees and NFL games, particularly those of the New York Giants, which were airmailed to him.

Stanley Kubrick died in his sleep after suffering a heart attack at his home in Childwickbury Manor, Hertfordshire, England, on March 7, 1999, hours after delivering a print of what would be his last film, Eyes Wide Shut (1999), to the studio. The film, starring Nicole Kidman and Tom Cruise (who were married at the time), went on to earn both commercial and critical acclaim, including Golden Globe and Satellite award nominations.

Kubrick married three times. His first union, to Toba Etta Metz, lasted from 1948 to 1951. He and second wife Ruth Sobotka wed in 1954 and divorced in 1957. The following year, he married his third wife, painter Christiane Harlan (also known as Susanne Christian). Their union lasted 41 years and produced two of Kubrick’s three daughters: Anya and Vivian. (Kubrick also had a stepdaughter, Katharina, Harlan’s daughter from a prior relationship.)

Happy Birthday Alexander Calder

Today is the 116th birthday of Alexander Calder.  I am lucky enough to live in a city where I can visit (and walk through) an Alexander Calder sculpture whenever I desire.  People walk by it every day, exercising, walking their dogs, but I hope they realize the gift they are experiencing.  Not everyone on their morning jog can experience world-class art.

NAME: Alexander Calder
OCCUPATION: Illustrator, Sculptor
BIRTH DATE: July 22, 1898
DEATH DATE: November 11, 1976
EDUCATION: Art Students League
PLACE OF BIRTH: Lawnton, Pennsylvania
PLACE OF DEATH: New York, New York
NICKNAME: Sandy Calder

BEST KNOWN FOR: Alexander Calder was an influential American artist and sculptor who invented the mobile.

Alexander Calder (born July 22, 1898, Lawnton, Pa., U.S.—died Nov. 11, 1976, New York, N.Y.) U.S. sculptor. He was the son and grandson of sculptors, and his mother was a painter. He studied mechanical engineering, and in 1923 attended the Art Students League, where he was influenced by artists of the Ash Can school. In 1924 he contributed illustrations to the National Police Gazette. In 1926 he moved to Paris and began making toylike animals and circus figures of wood and wire; from these he developed his famous miniature circus. In the 1930s he became well known in Paris and the U.S. for his wire sculptures, as well as for portraits, continuous-line drawings, and abstract, motor-driven constructions. He is best known as the inventor of the mobile, a forerunner of kinetic sculpture. He also constructed nonmovable sculptural works known as stabiles. Although Calder’s early mobiles and stabiles were relatively small, he increasingly moved toward monumentality in his later works. His art was recognized with many large-scale exhibitions.

Two months after his death, Calder was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the United States’ highest civilian honor, by President Gerald Ford. However, representatives of the Calder family boycotted the January 10, 1977 ceremony “to make a statement favoring amnesty for Vietnam War draft resisters.”

Happy Birthday Charles James

Charles James (18 July 1906 in Sandhurst – September 23, 1978 in New York City) was a fashion designer known as America’s first couturier. He is considered a master of cutting and is known for his highly structured aesthetic.

His father was a British officer and his mother a Chicago ‘patrician’. In 1919 he attended Harrow School, where he met Evelyn Waugh, Francis Rose and, most importantly Cecil Beaton, with whom he formed a longstanding friendship. He was expelled from Harrow for a ‘sexual escapade’.

At the age of nineteen in 1926, Charles James opens his first hat shop in Chicago, using the name of a schoolfriend, ‘Charles Boucherdon’.

In 1928 he left Chicago for Long Island with 70 cents, a Pierce Arrow and a number of hats as his only possessions. He later opened a hat shop above a garage in Murray Hill, New York, beginning his first dress designs.

James showed one of his most successful collections in Paris in 1947. In the 1950s he spent most of his time in New York.

James looked upon his dresses as works of art, as did many of his customers. Year after year he reworked original designs, ignoring the sacrosanct schedule of seasons. The components of the precisely constructed designs were interchangeable so that James had a never-ending fund of ideas on which to draw. He is most famous for his sculpted ball gowns made of lavish fabrics and to exacting tailoring standards, but is also remembered for his capes and coats, often trimmed with fur and embroidery, his spiral zipped dresses, and his white satin quilted jackets.

After the birth of his son, Charles James Jr. in 1956, he also produced a children’s collection.

He designed the interior and several pieces of furniture for the Houston home of John and Dominique de Menil.

After returning to New York City from Paris, Scaasi worked for James for two years. James retired in 1958.

He died alone, of bronchial pneumonia, at the Chelsea Hotel in New York.

Happy Birthday Molly Brown

NAME:  Molly Brown
OCCUPATION:  Film Actor/Film Actress, Philanthropist
BIRTH DATE:  July 18, 1867
DEATH DATE:  October 26, 1932
EDUCATION:  Carnegie Institute
PLACE OF BIRTH:  Hannibal, Missouri
PLACE OF DEATH:  New York, New York

BEST KNOWN FOR: Molly Brown was best known for her social welfare work on behalf of women and children, and for surviving the Titanic sinking.

Philanthropist Margaret Tobin, better known as Molly Brown, was born on July 18, 1867, in Hannibal, Missouri. Sometimes referred to as “the Unsinkable Molly Brown,” this survivor of the 1912 Titanic disaster has become the subject of many myths and legends throughout the years. Her early years were relatively quiet; she grew up in an Irish-Catholic family with five siblings. At the age of 13, Molly Brown went to work in a factory. After two of her siblings headed to Colorado to seek opportunity with the silver mines there, she followed, moving to Leadville in 1886. The town was like a giant mining camp, and Brown found work doing sewing for a local store. Her life soon changed when she met J.J. Brown, a mining superintendent. The couple fell in love and married in September 1886. Molly and J.J. Brown struggled financially in the early days of their marriage. They had their first child, Lawrence Palmer Brown, in 1887, and a daughter, Catherine Ellen, followed two years later. As her husband rose up the ranks at the mining company, Brown became active in the community, helping miners and their families and working to improve the town’s schools. Molly Brown was never interested in fitting in with the other leading citizens of Leadville, preferring to dress in dramatic hats. Achieving great prosperity through the discovery of silver at one of J.J.’s mines in 1893, the Brown family moved to Denver, Colorado. Molly Brown helped found the Denver Women’s Club. She also raised money for children’s causes and continued to help mine workers. With her wealth, Brown also expanded her own horizons, taking numerous trips around the world. It was during one such trip in April 1912, after hearing that her grandson was ill, that Brown decided to take the first ship back to the United States; a ship named the RMS Titanic. It was the maiden voyage of the vessel that was supposed to be nearly indestructible. However, on the night of April 14, 1912, the ship failed to live up to its reputation. The Titanic struck an iceberg on April 14, 1912, around 11:40 p.m., and sank in only a few hours. Molly Brown was able to get on one of the ship’s few lifeboats and was later rescued by the Carpathia. Aboard the Carpathia, she did whatever she could to help the other survivors. Her acts of heroism, which made news, earned her the nickname “the Unsinkable Mrs. Brown.” With her newfound fame after the disaster, Molly Brown spoke out for many causes, including women’s suffrage and workers’ rights. During World War I, she worked with the Red Cross in France. Molly Brown died on October 26, 1932, in New York City.

Happy Birthday Bernice Abbott

This week marks the 116th birthday of photographer Bernice Abbot.

NAME: Bernice Abbott
BORN: July 17, 1898
BIRTHPLACE: Springfield, Ohio
DEATH: December 9, 1991
DEATH PLACE: Monson, Maine

BEST KNOWN FOR: Bernice Abbott, was an American photographer best known for her black-and-white photography of New York City architecture and urban design of the 1930s.

Berenice Abbott can be considered the photographer of New York City. A revolutionary documentary photographer, Abbott was born in Springfield, Ohio, in 1898, and studied for one year at Ohio State University, Columbus, before moving to New York in 1918 to study sculpture. While in New York, Abbott met Marcel Duchamp and Man Ray, two of the founders of the Dada movement, an artistic intellectual movement that emerged as a protest to the senseless suffering of World War I. Dada artists sought to question convention and tradition through seemingly nonsensical works presented in performances, literature, and the visual arts.

Moving on to Europe in the 1920s, Abbott worked from 1925 to 1929 as a photographic assistant to May Ray in Paris. Through her work printing Man Ray’s photographs, Abbott herself discovered her talent as a photographer. In 1926 Abbott had her first solo exhibition in the Parisian gallery, Le Sacre du Printemps. This exhibition featured Abbott’s portrait photography in which she captured personalities associated with avant-garde art movements. Portraits of film director Jacques Cocteau, author James Joyce, artist Max Ernst, and poet Edna St. Vincent Millay were featured. During this time, Abbott also became interested in the work of Eugène Atget, a leading French photographer who was celebrated for his photographs of the streets of Paris.

Upon Abbott’s return to New York in 1929, she moved away from portrait photography to documentary photography akin to Atget’s images, using the city as her subject. During the 1930s she embarked on a project to capture the transformation of New York into a modern urban center. Abbott was particularly interested in the physical changes that the city had undergone, its changing neighborhoods with huge skyscrapers replacing older low-rise buildings. She began a series of documentary photographs of the city as part of a Federal Works Project Administration initiative carried out from 1935 to 1939. At the end of the project, she published her photographs as a book entitled Changing New York. Abbott favored a straightforward, yet dynamic, style that featured strong contrasts and dramatic angles. “Photography can never grow up if it imitates some other medium,” Abbott said, “it has to walk alone; it has to be itself.”

Abbott became picture editor for Science Illustrated in the 1940s and continued in that role through the 1960s, expanding her subject matter to include scientific images. She moved to Maine in 1966 and continued as a science photographer, approaching the world around her methodically, as she had done with her portraits and images of New York. Abbott continued her photography until her death in 1991.

Rear View Mirror – My Week In Review

I need a new profile pic, I would set myself a goal of getting a new one today, but that seems like too much pressure for a Sunday.  Other stuff that falls under “News of Me” would be that I got up every day this week at 6:30 am and went to the gym.  I started slowly with only cardio and light weights, but next week I will be full speed.  That job at #SuitSupply really took everything from me.  For the first six months of this year, I went to the gym probably four times.  I was just always tired.  My life balance is back and I can already feel an improvement in my mental state.  The new gym is only about two miles from home, locally owned and exactly the sort of motivation I needed.

 

I rarely comment on posts anymore and I never read on other posts. I mostly leave helpful tips for other bloggers to get more traffic. Every once in a while, I tweet something with a hashtag that gets the internet trolls to lick the Dorito dust off their fingertips and go on the attack. I don’t mind that much, they don’t want to have a dialogue, they just call me a retarded fag communist (I’ve been called worse in Junior High). I will remark that I understand they only want to name call and not have a conversation and they just leave me alone. Or a quick block on them ends it if they continue to name call. No big deal. On Facebook, if there is a post I disagree with whole-heartedly, I usually do not even comment, I just unfriend. Mad Cobra via Robyn has given me that philosophy when it comes to Facebook: “I press trigger, I don’t press people button.” I don’t start something, I end something. Okay? Facebook isn’t real, those people may coincidentally also be real friends, but just because you knew them in high school, you do not owe them anything. My new problem is the comment commenters. They are usually friends of your Facebook friends (strangers to you) that don’t like your comment, so they go on attack. These people also do not care to have a dialogue. Since it so rarely happens (I have trimmed up my Facebook friends list to like-minded and/or respectful people), I am always caught a bit off guard that a stranger is finding it necessary to attack me on someone else’s page. I have a rule: If the mutual friend does not step in to mediate, I delete all my comments, unfriend the mutual friend, and inform them my actions are in result of their inability to moderate their page satisfactorily. In all fairness, it is usually people that I should have unfriended or never friended, our lives and views on a lot of things are very different. #HobbyLobby #2ndAmendment #NRA #Hilary2016

This week on Waldina, I celebrated the birthdays of Pablo Neruda, Louis B. Mayer, Milton Berle, Van Cliburn, Brett Somers, Fred Gwynne, Camille Pissarro, David Hockney, Anjelica Huston, Marc Chagall, Gustav Mahler, Shelley Duvall and George Cukor.

The Stats:

Total Posts: 1,186
Total Subscribers: 317
Total Visits: 117,516
Total Visits This Week: 613
Most Popular Post This Week: Happy Birthday Camille Pissarro

This week on Wasp & Pear, I posted Kai and Heather’s book review vlog of “The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore.” A librarian (who just so happens to also be the non-relative I have known the longest) and her daughters read and review books. It is great for parents with kids, but also just great to see kids that are excited about reading. You should follow/subscribe to all of them over at FollowTheReaders.com, links to their various internet places can be found there.

I went on to post photos of abandoned places; vintage Seattle, New York City and Hollywood; and the like.

The Stats:

Total Posts: 2,567
Posts This Week: 69
Total Followers: 182
Most Popular Post This Week: Ross Shire Hotel

Over on my little corner of Twitter @TheRealSPA, I tweeted:

Anyone wanting to turn away children based of what side of the line on a map they were born must IMMEDIATELY stop self-identifying as Xtian.

and

O-P-U-L-E-N-C-E: You Own Everything!

and

Why such involved coffee orders?

The Stats:

Total Tweets: 299 (auto-deleted every 31 days to preserve freshness)
Total Followers: 248
Total Following: 185

come find me, i’m @:

I chronicle what inspires me at Waldina.com
I faceplace at facebook.com/parkeranderson
I store my selfies at instagram.com/therealspa#
I tumblr at waspandpear.tumblr.com/
I tweet at twitter.com/TheRealSPA

 

Happy Birthday Fred Gwynne

Today is the 88th birthday of Fred Gwynne.

NAME: Fred Gwynne
OCCUPATION: Film Actor, Theater Actor, Television Actor
BIRTH DATE: July 10, 1926
DEATH DATE: July 2, 1993
EDUCATION: Harvard University, New York Phoenix School of Design
PLACE OF BIRTH: New York City, New York
PLACE OF DEATH: Taneytown, Maryland

BEST KNOWN FOR: Fred Gwynne was an actor known for his roles as Herman Munster on the sitcom The Munsters and as the crusty judge in the film My Cousin Vinny.

Actor. Born Frederick Hubbard Gwynne on July 10, 1926 in New York City, is perhaps best known for his roles in the 1960s sitcoms Car 54, Where Are You? and The Munsters. His father was a successful stockbroker and his mother was a former cartoonist. In 1932, the happy household changed dramatically when Fred’s father died from complications after routine surgery. After high school, the young Gwynne, who stood at a lumbering, rail-thin six-foot, five-inches, enlisted in the Navy and served on a sub chaser during World War II.

Upon his discharge from the Navy, Gwynne attended the New York Phoenix School of Design, then entered Harvard University on the G.I. Bill. There he became president of The Harvard Lampoon, and drew cartoons for the popular periodical, a talent acquired from his mother. However, after performing several of The Hasty Pudding Club‘s farcical productions, the young man with the powerful baritone voice realized his future was upon the stage. Eager to learn his craft, the Harvard graduate joined the Brattle Theater Repertory Company in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where he played a variety of characters in numerous plays.

In 1951, Fred married Jean “Foxie” Reynard, whom he had met through friends. After a successful run as “Bottom” in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the young thespian and his new companion headed to New York to pursue bigger and brighter possibilities. Although most casting directors thought he was too tall and unattractive to be a leading man, he landed a supporting role in Mrs. McThing on Broadway, starring Helen Hayes. Gwynne simultaneously worked as a copywriter at the J. Walter Thompson Advertising agency to make ends meet between assignments. For the next five years he juggled his day job with numerous stage and television roles, appearing in such prestigious productions as Studio One, Kraft Theater, and The Phil Silvers Show.

In 1954, the 28-year-old made his film debut with a bit part in On The Waterfront, directed by Elia Kazan and starring Marlon Brando. Gwynne’s career took another surprising turn when he landed his first major Broadway role in the musical, Irma La Duce. It was during the run of the show that TV producer Nat Hiken hired Gwynne to co-star as Francis Maldoon in the NBC television series, Car 54, Where Are You?. The show was a success, though only ran from 1961-1963.

The Gwynne family now included two children: a daughter named Gaynor and a son Kieron, who was mentally handicapped and required constant care. However Fred’s schedule was demanding and he spent little time at home. He was also writing and illustrating children’s stories and in 1958, Best in Show, the first in a line of successful books, was published.

In 1963, tragedy struck when his youngest son, Dylan, drowned in the family pool, leaving Fred brokenhearted and depressed. While he was still trying to cope with the emotional devastation of his son’s death, NBC canceled Car 54.

However, Gwynne was not out of work for long. In 1964, he was cast in the CBS television series, The Munsters. Portraying Herman Munster, the towering actor (who was required to wear five-inch platform boots) transformed the traditional Frankenstein monster into a lovable and hysterically funny character that was popular with both adults and children. Jack Gould of The New York Times wrote that “there is not the slightest question that Mr. Gwynne, superbly made up as Frankenstein, is the whole show.” However, by 1966, The Munsters was losing a ratings war with the popular series, Batman. Universal Pictures fought back with a feature-length color film, Munster, Go Home, which bombed at the box office. The series was then taken off the air, to little protest.

After the demise of The Munsters, Gwynne’s career came to a screeching halt. TV and movie producers were afraid to hire him, believing audiences would only see the fumbling Herman Munster, which left Gwynne frustrated and bitter. However, he continued to find success with children’s books, which now included such classics as God’s First World, A Chocolate Moose for Dinner, and A Little Pigeon Toad. He appeared in a string of failed television pilots and a few TV movies, including The Littlest Angel and Arsenic and Old Lace.

Gwynne returned to the stage and won critical acclaim as Big Daddy in the Broadway revival of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof with Elizabeth Ashley. Other successful stage roles included Claudis in Hamlet and the stage manager in Our Town. In 1976, he won an Obie Award for his performance in the off-Broadway play, Grand Magic.

Gwynne also made a comeback to the big screen with a small role in Bernardo Bertolucci’s haunting drama, Luna, starring Jill Clayburgh. He eventually began to make appearances in such A-list films as Ironweed with Meryl Streep and Jack Nicholson, Fatal Attraction with Glenn Close and Michael Douglas, and The Cotton Club starring Richard Gere. In 1981, he returned to the role that he had fought so hard to leave behind–Herman Munster in the TV movie, Munster’s Revenge.

Gwynne continued to appear in supporting roles, the highlight being his turn as the comic foil for Joe Pesci and Marisa Tomei in 1992’s My Cousin Vinny. After forty years of working non-stop, Gwynne decided to put his film career on the back burner. He and his wife, Deborah, purchased a farm in rural Maryland and the actor only accepted work as a voice-over artist in radio and television commercials.

Just one year into his tranquil, new life, Gwynne was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. He died on July 2, 1993, at the age of 66.

Happy Birthday George Cukor

Today is the 115th birthday of George Cukor.  He is responsible for almost all of my favorite classic films: Holiday, The Women, Gone With The Wind, The Philadelphia Story, Adam’s Rib, Born Yesterday, It Should Happen To You, etc. His teaming with Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant, Judy Holliday, Clark Gable, Jack Lemmon, and Joan Crawford made countless of hours of perfection.

Born: July 7, 1899 New York City, New York, U.S.
Died: January 24, 1983 (aged 83) Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Resting place: Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Glendale, California
Occupation: Director

George Dewey Cukor (July 7, 1899 – January 24, 1983) was an American film director. He mainly concentrated on comedies and literary adaptations. His career flourished at RKO and later MGM, where he directed What Price Hollywood? (1932), A Bill of Divorcement (1932), Dinner at Eight (1933), Little Women (1933), David Copperfield (1935), Romeo and Juliet (1936) and Camille (1936).

He was replaced as the director of Gone with the Wind (1939), but he went on to direct The Philadelphia Story (1940), Adam’s Rib (1949), Born Yesterday (1950), A Star Is Born (1954) and My Fair Lady (1964). He continued to work into the 1980s.

Cukor’s friends were of paramount importance to him and he kept his home filled with their photographs. Regular attendees at his famed soirées included Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy, Joan Crawford and Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart, Claudette Colbert, Marlene Dietrich, Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh, actor Richard Cromwell, Stanley Holloway, Judy Garland, Gene Tierney, Noël Coward, Cole Porter, director James Whale, costume designer Edith Head, and Norma Shearer, especially after the death of her first husband, Irving Thalberg. He often entertained literary figures like Sinclair Lewis, Theodore Dreiser, Aldous Huxley, Ferenc Molnár, and close friend Somerset Maugham, as well.

Cukor died of a heart attack on January 24, 1983, and was interred in an unmarked grave at the Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery in Glendale, California.Records in probate court indicated his net worth at the time of his death was $2,377,720.

Happy Birthday Chuck Close

ChuckCloseNAME: Chuck Close
OCCUPATION: Educator, Painter
BIRTH DATE: July 5, 1940 (age 74)
EDUCATION: University of Washington School of Art, Yale University School of Art and Architecture
PLACE OF BIRTH: Monroe, Washington

BEST KNOWN FOR: Chuck Close is noted for his highly inventive techniques used to paint the human face. He rose to fame in the late 1960s for his large-scale, photo-realist portraits.

I think most paintings are a record of the decisions that the artist made. I just perhaps make them a little clearer than some people have.

Charles Thomas Close was born July 5, 1940, in Monroe, Washington. The son of artistic parents who showed great support of their boy’s early creative interests, Close, who suffers from severe dyslexia, struggled in almost all phases of schoolwork except art. He was not terribly popular in school, and his problems were furthered by a neuromuscular condition that prevented him from playing sports.

For the first decade of his life, Close’s childhood was more or less stable. But when he was 11, tragedy struck, when his father died and his mother fell ill with breast cancer. Close’s own health took a terrible turn around this time as well, when a kidney infection landed him in bed for almost a year.

Through all of this, however, Close deepened his love for painting and art in general. At the age of 14, he saw an exhibition of Jackson Pollock paintings. Pollock’s style and flair had a great impact on Close, and, as he later recounted, it made him determined to become an artist.

Close eventually enrolled at the University of Washington, graduating in 1962 and immediately heading east to Yale to study for a Master of Fine Arts from the university’s Art and Architecture School.

Steeped heavy in the abstract world, Close radically changed his focus at Yale, opting for what would become his signature style: photo-realism. Using a process he came to describe as “knitting,” Close created large-format Polaroids of models that he then recreated on large canvases.

This early work was bold, intimate and up-front, replicating the particular details of his selected faces. In addition, his pieces blurred the distinction between painting and photography in a way that had never been done before. His techniques too were noteworthy, in particular his application of color, which helped pave the way for the development of the inkjet printer.

By the late 1960s, Close and his photo-realist pieces were entrenched in the New York City art scene. One of his best-known subjects from that period was of another young artistic talent, composer Philip Glass, whose portrait Close painted and showed in 1969. It has since gone on to become one of his most recognized pieces. He later painted choreographer Merce Cunningham and former President Bill Clinton, among others.

By the 1970s, Close’s work was shown in the world’s finest galleries, and he was widely considered one of America’s best contemporary artists.

In 1988, Close again experienced the trauma of a severe health issue when he suffered the sudden rupture of a spinal artery. In the immediate aftermath of the incident, Close was left almost entirely paralyzed. Eventually, after rounds of physical therapy, Close, who became permanently confined to a wheelchair, regained the partial use of his limbs.

Despite the physical limitations, Close pressed forward with his work. With a brush taped to his wrist, Close continued to paint, but in a style that was more abstract and less precise. His reputation and standing have not suffered in the least.

In the years since, Close’s position atop the American art world hasn’t changed. His work has been met with rave reviews and expensive commissions. In 2000 President Clinton named Close a recipient of the National Medal of Arts. In 2007 his life became the subject of a full-length documentary, Chuck Close: A Portrait in Progress, by director Marion Cajori. Close and his wife, Leslie, live in New York City and Long Island, New York.