Happy Birthday Maxwell Perkins

Today is the 130th birthday of Maxwell Perkins.  My first exposure to him was from reading a book of correspondence between him and F. Scott Fitzgerald.  He was Fitzgerald’s editor at the time and they would write back and forth keeping each other informed on how new works were progressing and finished works were being published.  I have gone on the read the Scott Berg biography on him and that rounded out the picture for me.  You should always read a Scott Berg biography.  I think I have read them all.

maxwell perkinsNAME: Maxwell Perkins
OCCUPATION: Editor
BIRTH DATE: September 20, 1884
DEATH DATE: June 17, 1947
EDUCATION: St. Paul’s School, Harvard University
PLACE OF BIRTH: New York, New York
PLACE OF DEATH: Stamford, Connecticut

BEST KNOWN FOR: Maxwell Perkins was an influential editor who worked with such authors as Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Thomas Wolfe.

Maxwell Perkins was born on September 20, 1884, in New York City, at his family’s home on the corner of Second Avenue and 14th Street. After high school, Perkins attended Harvard University, as had many members of his family before him. After graduation (1907), Perkins was a reporter for a short period at The New York Times, but in 1910 he landed a job as an advertising manager with Charles Scribner’s Sons, the publishing house where he would truly make his mark. (This was the same year Perkins married Louise Saunders, with whom he went on to have five daughters.)

Scribner’s was a traditional publishing house, with a serious if staid stable of writers (e.g., Henry James and Edith Wharton). When Perkins joined the editorial staff in 1914, little did he know he would end up revolutionizing the company and American literature.

Four years after moving into editorial, Perkins began his upward push when a manuscript called The Romantic Egoist hit his desk. It was the first novel by a 22-year-old Princeton graduate, and it came with a host of negative comments from others who had already perused its pages. But something about it caught Perkins’ eye, and he contacted the writer to make some edits. The writer was F. Scott Fitzgerald, and while arguing the merits of Fitzgerald’s book, Perkins said, “If we aren’t going to publish a talent like this, it is a very serious thing . . . . we might as well go out of business.”

Fitzgerald rewrote the work twice before Scribner’s agreed to publish it, under the name This Side of Paradise (1920). The book was a huge success, and it launched Fitzgerald to international literary stardom. Perkins was also instrumental in shaping Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, called by some the greatest American novel ever written.

Four years later, Fitzgerald pointed Perkins in the direction of another up-and-coming American writer living in Paris: Ernest Hemingway. Perkins made contact, and two years later Scribner’s, under Perkin’s guidance, published the 27-year-old Hemingway’s first novel, The Sun Also Rises. As had This Side of Paradise, Hemingway’s first book caused literary waves around the world, and a new movement was under way, with Perkins at its heart. Perkins would work on subsequent books by both Fitzgerald and Hemingway, as well as books by writers such as Ring Lardner, Sherwood Anderson and Martha Gellhorn (who would become Hemingway’s third wife).

In what would mark the beginning of a tumultuous and important literary and personal relationship, in 1928 Thomas Wolfe submitted to Scribner’s his first novel, titled O Lost, a sprawling 1,114-page coming-of-age novel that had already been rejected by a handful of publishers. Perkins and Wolfe spent months editing and restructuring the work, hammering it into what would become known as Look Homeward, Angel (1929), a book that would go on to become a classic. Perkins and Wolfe worked together again, but they eventually had a dramatic falling-out over Perkins’ methods, and Wolfe left Scribner’s.

Perkins, however, has come to represent how important an editor can be for an author. A collection of his correspondence to his authors and others, Editor to Author, was published in 1950, three years after his death at age 62.

Happy Birthday Greta Garbo

Today is the 109th birthday of Greta Garbo.

NAME: Greta Garbo
OCCUPATION: Actress, Pin-up
BIRTH DATE: September 18, 1905
DEATH DATE: April 15, 1990
EDUCATION: Royal Dramatic Theater
PLACE OF BIRTH: Stockholm, Sweden
PLACE OF DEATH: New York, New York
AKA: Greta Gustafsson
FULL NAME: Greta Lovisa Garbo
NICKNAME: The Mona Lisa of the 20th Century

BEST KNOWN FOR: Greta Garbo is best known for her acting career, in both silent and talking films before World War II.

One of Hollywood‘s most enigmatic stars, Greta Garbo was born Greta Lovisa Gustafson on September 8, 1905, in Stockholm, Sweden. To her parents, Karl and Anna, who already had two children, Greta came as a surprise arrival, further straining the family’s already tight finances.

Greta’s father was an unskilled laborer who was often out of work and in poor health, which forced his family to live with the constant threat of poverty.

At the age of 13, Greta dropped out of school to care for her father, who had fallen deeply ill. He died two years later of kidney failure. The strain her father’s health and subsequent death left on the family deeply affected young Greta, who promised to make a life for herself that was void of financial hardship.

Following her father’s death, Greta landed job as a salesperson at Swedish department store. To help promote the men’s clothing line Greta starred in a pair of advertising shorts, modeling the attire. Her natural instincts in front of the camera soon led her to a role in her first film, a comedy called Peter the Tramp (1922).

A bigger opportunity followed when Greta earned a scholarship at the prestigious Royal Dramatic Theater, Sweden’s premier school for aspiring actors. But Greta cut her education short after just a year after meeting director Mauritz Stiller, Sweden’s leading silent film director, who wanted the young actress to star in his new film, The Legend of Gosta Berling (1924).

The film’s success in both Sweden and Germany made Garbo famous. It also solidified a partnership with Stiller that would change her career and life. Stiller coached her as an actress and convinced her to change her last name to Garbo.

Garbo’s next film, Streets of Sorrow (1925), in which she played a prospective prostitute, furthered Garbo’s standing as a star in Europe. The film also caught the attention of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) production chief Louis B. Mayer. Mayer wanted Stiller, who worked on the film, to work in America. The flamboyant director agreed to a contract with one condition: Garbo was to come with him. Reluctantly, Mayer inked her to a deal, too.

The 19-year-old Garbo arrived in America in 1925. Her arrival had come quietly and from the start, she showed a reluctance to deal with the press or reveal anything about her private her life. During her first interview, she curtly told reporters, “I was born. I had a mother and father. I went to school. What does it matter?”

Garbo’s first American film, The Torrent (1926), cast her as a Spanish peasant who is desperate to become an opera star. But the planned Garbo-Stiller partnership in Hollywood never materialized. Stiller wasn’t hired to direct The Torrent, and after a subsequent blow-up with MGM executives he bolted for Paramount where he again encountered problems with his bosses. He returned to Sweden in 1928 and died a year later.

Garbo, however, proved to be an immediate star. Her next two films, The Temptress (1926) and Flesh and the Devil (1926), were both hits and made the actress an international star.

For MGM, Garbo was their biggest asset. Her first three films amounted to 13 percent of the company’s profits from 1925-26. Garbo, ever mindful of the financial difficulties she’d grown up with, knew she had leverage. After a contract dispute with MGM, Garbo, who’d threatened to return to Sweden, landed a new contract that paid her a record $270,000 per movie and gave her unprecedented control over her roles and the films she starred in.

In so many ways Garbo represented a new kind of Hollywood actress, one whose vulnerabilities, sexuality, passion and mystery swirled together to entice both male and female audiences. In addition, her style changed the course of American fashion, while her reclusiveness (she gave her last American interview in 1927) only fueled the public’s fascination with her.

The advent of sound presented a predicament for MGM. The future of films was clear, but there was real hesitancy to let audiences hear Garbo speak. Executives worried her star power would be diminished by her accent and low, throaty voice.

Finally, MGM relented and in 1930 Garbo made her debut in sound in a film adaption of Eugene O’Neill’s, Anna Christie. Despite MGM’s concerns, Garbo’s star did not fade. In 1931, she teamed up with Clark Gable in Susan Lenox: Her Fall and Rise, then co-starred with Melvyn Douglas in 1932’s As You Desire Me. That same year she was part of an all-star cast that included John and Lionel Barrymore, Joan Crawford and Wallace Beery in Grand Hotel. The film won a 1932 Academy Award for Best Picture.

In 1933, Garbo took on her perhaps most ambitious role as a fictional Swedish monarch in Queen Christina. Other films followed, such as Anna Karenina (1935), Camille (1936) and Conquest (1937).

In the late 1930s, however, Garbo’s box office appeal began to diminish. With America in the midst of The Depression, the actress’ cosmopolitan style didn’t resonate with audiences like it once had. Europe, meanwhile, where she had enjoyed incredible success, the continent was heading to war.

In an effort to remake herself, Garbo was cast in a pair of comedies, Ninotchka (1939) and Two Faced Woman (1941), neither of which matched her previous successes. After another contract dispute with MGM, Garbo retired from acting.

Away from the glare of Hollywood, Garbo retreated to a world she let few enter into. While she had several romantic partners, including, it seems, at least one woman, she never married.

During World War II, while much of Hollywood rallied the country around the war effort, Garbo remained largely silent, which earned her criticism. Over the last half century of her life, in fact, Garbo proved to be an ever-increasing mystery. On the advice of a friend, she invested heavily in real estate and art. At the time of her death she was estimated to be worth more than $55 million.

Eventually Garbo left California and settled into a new life in New York City, where she loved to window shop and periodic Greta Garbo spottings were reported like UFO sightings. Her friends during this last period of her life included the English photographer Cecil Beaton and ventriloquist and fellow Swede, Edgar Bergen.

In the late 1980s her kidneys began to fail, forcing her to stop her walks, which only further cut her off from the outside world. She died on April 15, 1990, at a New York City hospital.

FILMOGRAPHY AS ACTOR
Two-Faced Woman (Nov-1941) · Karin
Ninotchka (6-Oct-1939) · Ninotchka
Conquest (22-Oct-1937) · Countess Marie Walewska
Camille (12-Dec-1936) · Marguerite
Anna Karenina (30-Aug-1935) · Anna Karenina
The Painted Veil (23-Nov-1934) · Katrin
Queen Christina (26-Dec-1933) · Christina
As You Desire Me (28-May-1932) · Zara
Grand Hotel (12-Apr-1932) · Grusinskaya, the Dancer
Mata Hari (26-Dec-1931) · Mata Hari
Susan Lenox (Her Rise and Fall) (10-Oct-1931) · Susan Lenox
Anna Christie (27-Mar-1931) · Anna
Inspiration (31-Jan-1931) · Yvonne
Romance (22-Aug-1930) · Rita Cavallini
Anna Christie (21-Feb-1930) · Anna
The Kiss (15-Nov-1929) · Irene
The Single Standard (27-Jul-1929) · Arden Stuart
Wild Orchids (23-Feb-1929) · Lillie Sterling
A Woman of Affairs (15-Dec-1928) · Diana
The Mysterious Lady (4-Aug-1928) · Tania
The Divine Woman (14-Jan-1928)
Love (29-Nov-1927) · Anna Karenina
Flesh and the Devil (25-Dec-1926) · Felicitas
The Temptress (3-Oct-1926) · Elena
Torrent (8-Feb-1926) · Leonora
The Joyless Street (18-May-1925)
The Saga of Gosta Berling (9-Mar-1924)

Happy Birthday Peter Falk

Today is the 87th birthday of Peter Falk.  I have often mentioned that, if left to my own devices, I would have an almost the identical TV watching habit of my grandfather circa 1978-84:  The Rockford Files, Remington Steele, and Columbo.  There is something about Columbo that I find so very comforting.

NAME: Peter Falk
OCCUPATION: Film Actor, Theater Actor, Television Actor
BIRTH DATE: September 16, 1927
DEATH DATE: June 23, 2011
EDUCATION: Howard University, Syracuse University, New School for Social Research, University of Wisconsin
PLACE OF BIRTH: New York, New York
PLACE OF DEATH: Beverly Hills, California

BEST KNOWN FOR: American actor Peter Falk is best known for his role as the television detective Lieutenant Columbo in the television series Columbo.

Actor. Born Peter Michael Falk on September 16, 1927, in New York City. While he had many roles on stage and on the big screen, Peter Falk is probably best remembered for his portrayal of Lieutenant Columbo on television. He played the rumpled and quirky detective for more than 30 years in numerous television movies.

Growing up in Ossining, New York, Falk lost his right eye to cancer at the age of three. He wore a glass eye in its place, which gave him his trademark squint. After high school and a brief stay at college, Falk became a merchant marine, working as a cook. He later went back to school, eventually earning a master’s degree from Syracuse University in public administration.

Falk discovered acting in his twenties while working in Hartford. At the age of 29, he abandoned public service for the stage. Falk moved to New York City and made his off-Broadway debut in 1956 in a production of Don Juan. In 1958, he made the leap to film, appearing in the drama Wind Across the Everglades with Christopher Plummer and Gypsy Rose Lee. Falk soon became a notable character actor, often playing shady criminals. For Murder Inc. (1960), he picked up an Academy Award nomination for his portrayal of notorious thug Abe “Kid Twist” Reles. Falk received another Best Supporting Actor nod the following year for Pocketful of Miracles for his comic turn as a mobster.

In 1967, Falk won his most famous part after Bing Crosby turned down the role. He first appeared as Lieutenant Columbo in the 1968 television movie Prescription: Murder. In 1971, Columbo became a regular feature on the NBC Sunday Mystery Movie. Falk received four Emmy Awards for his work on the television movies. With his disheveled appearance and tattered trenchcoat, Columbo came across as the perennial underdog. “He looks like a flood victim,” Falk once said. “You feel sorry for him. He appears to be seeing nothing, but he’s seeing everything.”

In addition to Columbo, Falk enjoyed some success on the stage and in film. He starred on Broadway in Neil Simon’s The Prisoner of Second Avenue in 1971. Working with director John Cassavetes, Falk played Gina Rowland’s husband in the critically acclaimed A Woman Under the Influence (1976). He also appeared in several popular comedies, including Murder by Death (1977) and The In-Laws in 1981.

Falk continued to work over the next two decades, often in small supporting roles. He made his last appearance as Columbo in a 2003 television movie. In recent years, Falk’s health began to decline. He suffered from dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. On the night of June 23, 2011, Falk died peacefully at his Beverly Hills home, according to a statement from his family. No cause of death was released. He was 83 years old.

Falk is survived by his second wife Shera and his two daughters from his first marriage to Alyce Mayo.

Happy Birthday Lauren Bacall

NAME: Lauren Bacall
OCCUPATION: Film Actress, Theater Actress, Television Actress, Pin-up
BIRTH DATE: September 16, 1924 (Age: 87)
PLACE OF BIRTH: New York City, New York
ORIGINALLY: Betty Joan Perske

BEST KNOWN FOR: Lauren Bacall is an American actress known for her distinctive husky voice and sultry looks. She is best remembered for portrayals of provocative women.

Lauren Bacall (born Betty Joan Perske, September 16, 1924) is an American film and stage actress and model, known for her distinctive husky voice and sultry looks.

She first emerged as leading lady in the Humphrey Bogart film To Have And Have Not (1944) and continued on in the film noir genre, with appearances in Bogart movies The Big Sleep (1946) and Dark Passage (1947), as well as a comedienne in How to Marry a Millionaire (1953) with Marilyn Monroe and Designing Woman (1957) with Gregory Peck. Bacall has also worked on Broadway in musicals, gaining a Tony Awards for Applause in 1970 and Woman of the Year in 1981. Her performance in the movie The Mirror Has Two Faces (1996) earned her a Golden Globe Award and an Academy Award nomination.

In 1999, Bacall was ranked #20 of the 25 actresses on the AFI’s 100 Years… 100 Stars list by the American Film Institute. In 2009, she was selected by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to receive an Academy Honorary Award “in recognition of her central place in the Golden Age of motion pictures.”

She campaigned for Democratic candidate Adlai Stevenson in the 1952 Presidential election and for Robert Kennedy in his 1964 run for Senate.

In a 2005 interview with Larry King, Bacall described herself as “anti-Republican… A liberal. The L-word.” She went on to say that “being a liberal is the best thing on earth you can be. You are welcoming to everyone when you’re a liberal. You do not have a small mind.”

 

Happy Birthday Margaret Sanger

Tomorrow is the 135th birthday of Margaret Sanger.

margaret sangerNAME: Margaret Sanger
BIRTH DATE: September 14, 1879
DEATH DATE: September 6, 1966
EDUCATION: Claverack College, Hudson River Institute
PLACE OF BIRTH: Corning, New York
PLACE OF DEATH: Tucson, Arizona

BEST KNOWN FOR: Margaret Sanger was an early feminist and women’s rights activist who coined the term “birth control” and worked towards its legalization.

Activist, social reformer. Born Margaret Higgins on September 14, 1879, in Corning, New York. She was one of 11 children born into a Roman Catholic working-class Irish American family. Her mother, Anne, had several miscarriages, and Margaret believed that all of these pregnancies took a toll on her mother’s health and contributed to her early death at the age of 40 (some reports say 50). The family lived in poverty as her father, Michael, an Irish stonemason, preferred to drink and talk politics than earn a steady wage.

Seeking a better life, Sanger attended Claverack College and Hudson River Institute in 1896. She went on to study nursing at White Plains Hospital four years later. In 1902, she married William Sanger, an architect. The couple eventually had three children together.

In 1910, the Sangers moved to New York City, settling in the Manhattan neighborhood of Greenwich Village. The area was a bohemian enclave known for its radical politics at the time, and the couple became immersed in that world. They socialized with the likes of writer Upton Sinclair and anarchist Emma Goldman. Sanger joined the Women’s Committee of the New York Socialist Party and the Liberal Club. A supporter of the Industrial Workers of the World union, she participated in a number of strikes.

Sanger started her campaign to educate women about sex in 1912 by writing a newspaper column called “What Every Girl Should Know.” She also worked as a nurse on the Lower East Side, at the time a predominantly poor immigrant neighborhood. Through her work, Sanger treated a number of women who had undergone back-alley abortions or tried to self-terminate their pregnancies. Sanger objected to the unnecessary suffering endured by these women, and she fought to make birth control information and contraceptives available. She also began dreaming of a “magic pill” to be used to control pregnancy. “No woman can call herself free until she can choose consciously whether she will or will not be a mother,” Sanger said.

In 1914, Sanger started a feminist publication called The Woman Rebel, which promoted a woman’s right to have birth control. The monthly magazine landed her in trouble, as it was illegal to send out information on contraception through the mail. The Comstock Act of 1873 prohibited the trade in and circulation of “obscene and immoral materials.” Championed by Anthony Comstock, the act included publications, devices, and medications related to contraception and abortion in its definition of obscene materials. It also made mailing and importing anything related to these topics a crime.

Rather than face a possible five-year jail sentence, Sanger fled to England. While there, she worked in the women’s movement and researched other forms of birth control, including diaphragms, which she later smuggled back into the United States. She had separated from her husband by this time, and the two later divorced. Embracing the idea of free love, Sanger had affairs with psychologist Havelock Ellis and writer H. G. Wells.

Sanger returned to the United States in October 1915, after charges against her had been dropped. She began touring to promote birth control, a term that she coined. In 1916, she opened the first birth control clinic in the United States. Sanger and her staff, including her sister Ethel, were arrested during a raid of the Brooklyn clinic nine days after it opened. They were charged with providing information on contraception and fitting women for diaphragms. Sanger and her sister spent 30 days in jail for breaking the Comstock law. Later appealing her conviction, she scored a victory for the birth control movement. The court wouldn’t overturn the earlier verdict, but it made an exception in the existing law to allow doctors to prescribe contraception to their female patients for medical reasons. Around this time, Sanger also published her first issue of The Birth Control Review.

In 1921, Sanger established the American Birth Control League, a precursor to today’s Planned Parenthood Federation of America. She served as its president until 1928. In 1923, while with the league, she opened the first legal birth control clinic in the United States. The clinic was named the Birth Control Clinical Research Bureau. Also around this time, Sanger married for her second husband, oil businessman J. Noah H. Slee. He provided much of the funding for her efforts for social reform.

Wanting to advance her cause through legal channels, Sanger started the National Committee on Federal Legislation for Birth Control in 1929. The committee sought to make it legal for doctors to freely distribute birth control. One legal hurdle was overcome in 1936, when the U.S. Court of Appeals allowed for birth control devices and related materials to be imported into the country.

For all of her advocacy work, Sanger was not without controversy. She has been criticized for her association with eugenics, a branch of science that seeks to improve the human species through selective mating. As grandson Alexander Sanger, chair of the International Planned Parenthood Council, explained, “She believed that women wanted their children to be free of poverty and disease, that women were natural eugenicists, and that birth control, which could limit the number of children and improve their quality of life, was the panacea to accomplish this.” Still Sanger held some views that were common at the time, but now seem abhorrent, including support of sterilization for the mentally ill and mentally impaired. Despite her controversial comments, Sanger focused her work on one basic principle: “Every child should be a wanted child.”

Sanger stepped out of the spotlight for a time, choosing to live in Tucson, Arizona. Her retirement did not last long, however. She worked on the birth control issue in other countries in Europe and Asia, and she established the International Planned Parenthood Federation in 1952. Still seeking a “magic pill,” Sanger recruited Gregory Pincus, a human reproduction expert, to work on the problem in the early 1950s. She found the necessary financial support for the project from Katharine McCormick, the International Harvester heiress. This research project would yield the first oral contraceptive, Enovid, which was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 1960.

Sanger lived to see another important reproductive rights milestone in 1965, when the Supreme Court made birth control legal for married couples in its decision on Griswold v. Connecticut. She died a year later on September 6, 1966, in a nursing home in Tucson, Arizona. Across the nation, there are numerous women’s health clinics that carry the Sanger name—in remembrance of her efforts to advance women’s rights and the birth control movement.

The Palm Beach Story – Required Viewing

PalmBeachStory

Directed by: Preston Sturges
Produced by: Buddy G. DeSylva (uncredited) Paul Jones (assoc. producer)
Written by: Preston Sturges
Starring: Claudette Colbert, Joel McCrea, Mary Astor, Rudy Vallee
Music by: Victor Young
Cinematography: Victor Milner
Edited by: Stuart Gilmore
Distributed by: Paramount Pictures
Release dates: November 2, 1942 (NYC)
Running time: 88 minutes
Country: United States
Language: English
Budget: $950,000 (approx)

The Palm Beach Story is a 1942 romantic screwball comedy film written and directed by Preston Sturges, and starring Claudette Colbert, Joel McCrea, Mary Astor and Rudy Vallée. Victor Young contributed the lively musical score, including a fast-paced variation of William Tell Overture for the opening scenes. Typical for a Sturges movie, the pacing and dialogue of The Palm Beach Story are very fast.

Tom and Gerry Jeffers (Joel McCrea and Claudette Colbert) are a married couple in New York City who are down on their luck financially, which is pushing the marriage to an end. But there is another, deeper problem with their relationship, one that is hinted at in the prologue of the movie as the opening credits roll and then explained near the movie’s end.

In the prologue Claudette Colbert appears bound and gagged in a closet, but then a second later in a wedding dress, seen by a maid who faints at every disturbance. The movie reveals much later that Colbert is playing identical twins, both of whom are in love with the intended groom played by Joel McCrea. The sister of the bride has just tied her up in an attempt to steal the wedding for herself. The pantomime is cross-cut with action showing McCrea hurriedly changing from one formal suit to another in the car as he rushes to the church. McCrea also is playing twins and the sibling is likewise in love with the tied up sister. He too is trying to steal the wedding. The end result is that the two siblings, not the original bride or groom, are married, and those two were not in love with each other.

The two remain married from 1937 until 1942 where the film resumes. Gerry decides that Tom would be better off if they split up. She packs her bags; takes some money offered to her the Wienie King (Robert Dudley), a strange but rich little man who is thinking of renting the Jeffers’ apartment; and boards a train for Palm Beach, Florida. There she plans to get a divorce and meet a wealthy second husband who can help Tom. On the train, she meets the eccentric John D. Hackensacker III (Rudy Vallée), one of the richest men in the world.

Joel McCrea and Claudette Colbert, stars of The Palm Beach Story, from the trailer for the film
Because of an encounter with the wild and drunken millionaire members of the Ale and Quail hunting club, Gerry loses all her luggage; after making do with clothing scrounged from other passengers, she is forced to accept Hackensacker’s extravagant charity. They leave the train and go on a shopping spree for everything from lingerie to jewelry – Hackensacker minutely noting the cost of everything in a little notebook, which he never bothers to add up – and make the remainder of the trip to Palm Beach on Hackensacker’s yacht named The Erl King (a Sturges joke on the Hackensacker family business, oil).

Tom follows Gerry to Palm Beach by air, also with the impromptu financial assistance of the Wienie King. When Tom meets Hackensacker, Gerry introduces him as her brother, Captain McGlue. Soon, Hackensacker falls for Gerry, while his often-married, man-hungry sister, Princess Centimillia (Mary Astor), chases Tom, although her last lover, Toto (Sig Arno), is still following her around. To help further his suit with Gerry, Hackensacker agrees to invest in Tom’s scheme to build an airport suspended over a city by wires.

Tom finally persuades Gerry to give their marriage another chance, and they confess their masquerade to their disappointed suitors. Even though he is disappointed, Hackensacker intends to go through with his investment in the suspended airport, since he thinks it is a good business deal and he never lets anything get in the way of business. Then, when Tom and Gerry reveal that they met because they are both identical twins – a fact which explains the opening sequence of the film – Hackensacker and his sister are elated. The final scene shows Hackensacker and Gerry’s sister, and the Princess and Tom’s brother, getting married.

The film ends where it began after the prologue, with the words “And they lived happily ever after…or did they?” on title cards.

Happy Birthday Jacob Lawrence

lawrence1

I am lucky enough to be able to view this mural in person whenever I want. It is so comforting to know that it is in the convention center.

NAME: Jacob Lawrence
OCCUPATION: Academic, Painter
BIRTH DATE: September 07, 1917
DEATH DATE: June 09, 2000
PLACE OF BIRTH: Atlantic City, New Jersey
PLACE OF DEATH: Seattle, Washington
Best Known For:  Jacob Lawrence was an American painter, and the most widely acclaimed African-American artist of the 20th century. He is best known for his Migration Series.

lawrence2

Born in Atlantic City, New Jersey, on September 7, 1917, Jacob Lawrence moved with his parents to Easton, Pennsylvania, at the age of 2. When his parents separated in 1924, his mother deposited him and his two younger siblings in foster care in Philadelphia, and went to work in New York City. When he was 13, Lawrence joined his mother in Harlem.

Lawrence was introduced to art shortly after his arrival, when his mother enrolled him in Utopia Children’s Center, which had an after-school art program. He dropped out of school at 16 but took classes at the Harlem Art Workshop with Charles Aston and frequently visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

In 1937, Lawrence won a scholarship to the American Artists School in New York. When he graduated in 1939, he received funding from the Works Progress Administration Federal Art Project. He had already developed his own style of modernism, and began creating narrative series, painting 30 or more paintings on one subject. He completed his best-known series, Migration of the Negro or simply The Migration Series, in 1941. The series was exhibited at Edith Halpert’s Downtown Gallery in 1942, making Lawrence the first African-American to join the gallery.

At the outbreak of World War II, Lawrence was drafted into the United States Coast Guard. After being briefly stationed in Florida and Massachusetts, he was assigned to be the Coast Guard artist aboard a troopship, documenting the experience of war around the world. He produced 48 paintings during this time, all of which have been lost.

When his tour of duty ended, Lawrence received a Guggenheim Fellowship and painted his War Series. He was also invited by Josef Albers to teach the summer session at Black Mountain College in North Carolina. Albers reportedly hired a private train car to transport Lawrence and his wife to the college so they wouldn’t be forced to transfer to the “colored” car when the train crossed the Mason-Dixon Line.

Back in New York after his stint in the south, Lawrence continued to paint. He grew depressed, however, and in 1949, he checked himself into Hillside Hospital in Queens, where he stayed for 11 months. He painted as an inpatient, and the work created during this time differs significantly from his other work, with subdued colors and people who appear resigned or in agony.

After leaving Hillside, Lawrence turned his attention to the theater. In 1951, he painted works based on memories of performances at the Apollo Theater in Harlem. He also began teaching again, first at Pratt Institute and later the New School for Social Research and the Art Students League.

In 1971, Lawrence accepted a tenured position as a professor at University of Washington in Seattle, where he taught until he retired in 1986. In addition to teaching, he spent much of the rest of his life painting commissions, producing limited-edition prints to help fund nonprofits like the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, the Children’s Defense Fund and the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. He also painted murals for the Harold Washington Center in Chicago, the University of Washington and Howard University, as well as a 72-foot mural for New York City’s Times Square subway station.

Lawrence painted until a few weeks before he died, on June 9, 2000.