Happy Birthday Roy Lichtenstein


Today is the 91st birthday of the pop artist Roy Lichtenstein.

NAME: Roy Lichtenstein
OCCUPATION: Illustrator, Painter
BIRTH DATE: October 27, 1923
DEATH DATE: September 29, 1997
EDUCATION: Parsons School of Design, The Ohio State University, Art Students League, Franklin School for Boys (now Dwight School)
PLACE OF BIRTH: New York, New York
PLACE OF DEATH: New York, New York

BEST KNOWN FOR: Roy Lichtenstein was an American pop artist best known for his boldly-colored parodies of comic strips and advertisements.

Roy Fox Lichtenstein was born on October 27, 1923, in New York City, the son of Milton Lichtenstein, a successful real estate developer, and Beatrice Werner Lichtenstein. As a boy growing up on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, Lichtenstein had a passion for both science and comic books. In his teens, he became interested in art. He took watercolor classes at Parsons School of Design in 1937, and he took classes at the Art Students League in 1940, studying with American realist painter Reginald Marsh.

Following his graduation from the Franklin School for Boys in Manhattan in 1940, Lichtenstein attended The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio. His college studies were interrupted in 1943, when he was drafted and sent to Europe for World War II.

After his wartime service, Lichtenstein returned to Ohio State in 1946 to finish his undergraduate degree and master’s degree—both in fine arts. He briefly taught at Ohio State before moving to Cleveland and working as a window-display designer for a department store, an industrial designer and a commercial-art instructor.

In the late 1940s, Lichtenstein exhibited his art in galleries nationwide, including in Cleveland and New York City. In the 1950s, he often took his artistic subjects from mythology and from American history and folklore, and he painted those subjects in styles that paid homage to earlier art, from the 18th century through modernism.

Lichtenstein began experimenting with different subjects and methods in the early 1960s, while he was teaching at Rutgers University. His newer work was both a commentary on American popular culture and a reaction to the recent success of Abstract Expressionist painting by artists like Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning. Instead of painting abstract, often subject-less canvases as Pollock and others had had done, Lichtenstein took his imagery directly from comic books and advertising. Rather than emphasize his painting process and his own inner, emotional life in his art, he mimicked his borrowed sources right down to an impersonal-looking stencil process that imitated the mechanical printing used for commercial art.

Lichtenstein’s best-known work from this period is “Whaam!,” which he painted in 1963, using a comic book panel from a 1962 issue of DC Comics’ All-American Men of War as his inspiration. Other works of the 1960s featured cartoon characters like Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck and advertisements for food and household products. He created a large-scale mural of a laughing young woman (adapted from an image in a comic book) for the New York State Pavilion of the 1964 World’s Fair in New York City.

Lichtenstein became known for his deadpan humor and his slyly subversive way of building a signature body of work from mass-reproduced images. By the mid-1960s, he was nationally known and recognized as a leader in the Pop Art movement that also included Andy Warhol, James Rosenquist and Claes Oldenburg. His art became increasingly popular with both collectors and influential art dealers like Leo Castelli, who showed Lichtenstein’s work at his gallery for 30 years. Like much Pop Art, it provoked debate over ideas of originality, consumerism and the fine line between fine art and entertainment.

By the late 1960s, Lichtenstein had stopped using comic book sources. In the 1970s his focus turned to creating paintings that referred to the art of early 20th century masters like Picasso, Henri Matisse, Fernand Léger and Salvador Dalí. In the 1980s and ’90s, he also painted representations of modern house interiors, brushstrokes and mirror reflections, all in his trademark, cartoon-like style. He also began working in sculpture.

In the 1980s, Lichtenstein received several major large-scale commissions, including a 25-foot-high sculpture titled “Brushstrokes in Flight” for the Port Columbus International Airport in Columbus, Ohio and a five-story-tall mural for the lobby of the Equitable Tower in New York.

Lichtenstein was committed to his art until the end of his life, often spending at least 10 hours a day in his studio. His work was acquired by major museum collections around the world, and he received numerous honorary degrees and awards, including the National Medal of Arts in 1995.

Lichtenstein married twice. He and his first wife, Isabel, whom he married in 1949 and divorced in 1967, had two sons, David and Mitchell. He married Dorothy Herzka in 1968.

Lichtenstein died of complications from pneumonia on September 29, 1997, at the New York University Medical Center in Manhattan.

Happy Birthday Sylvia Plath

Today is the 82nd birthday of Sylvia Plath.  I have a handful of favorite poems that became my favorites because they perfectly encapsulated a feeling I was experiencing at the time in my life when I first read them.  Even though circumstances change and the poems are no longer looked upon as my own personal theme, they still remind me of that time when I fell in love with them.  Reading them again is like looking at a snapshot of a car you used to own:  you are filled with fond memories of shared experiences, a bit of loss, and a lot of longing.  That crossfire of emotions is exactly how I feel about Sylvia Plath‘s “Ennui.”  I think I must have first looked up the word ‘ennui’ because it was in a book I was reading and immediately fell in love with it, those French with their amazing words for everything.  Words for what feels like there are no words.

ennui = A gripping listlessness or melancholia caused by boredom; depression.

“Ennui” – Sylvia Plath

Tea leaves thwart those who court catastrophe,

designing futures where nothing will occur:

cross the gypsy’s palm and yawning she

will still predict no perils left to conquer.

Jeopardy is jejune now: naïve knight

finds ogres out-of-date and dragons unheard

of, while blasé princesses indict

tilts at terror as downright absurd.

The beast in Jamesian grove will never jump,

compelling hero’s dull career to crisis;

and when insouciant angels play God’s trump,

while bored arena crowds for once look eager,

hoping toward havoc, neither pleas nor prizes

shall coax from doom’s blank door lady or tiger.

NAME: Sylvia Plath
OCCUPATION: Academic, Poet, Author, Editor
BIRTH DATE: October 27, 1932
DEATH DATE: February 11, 1963
EDUCATION: Cambridge University, Smith College
PLACE OF BIRTH: Boston, Massachusetts
PLACE OF DEATH: London, England

BEST KNOWN FOR: Sylvia Plath was an American poet best known for her novel The Bell Jar, and for her poetry collections The Colossus and Ariel.

Poet and novelist Sylvia Plath was born on October 27, 1932, in Boston, Massachusetts. Sylvia Plath was a gifted and troubled poet, known for the confessional style of her work. Her interest in writing emerged at an early age, and she started out by keeping a journal. After publishing a number of works, Plath won a scholarship to Smith College in 1950.

While she was a student, Sylvia Plath spent time in New York City during the summer of 1953 working for Mademoiselle magazine as a guest editor. Soon after, Plath tried to kill herself by taking sleeping pills. She eventually recovered, having received treatment during a stay in a mental health facility. Plath returned to Smith and finished her degree in 1955.

A Fulbright Fellowship brought Sylvia Plath to Cambridge University in England. While studying at the university’s Newnham College, she met the poet Ted Hughes. The two married in 1956 and had a stormy relationship. In 1957, Plath spent time in Massachusetts to study with poet Robert Lowell and met fellow poet and student Ann Sexton. She also taught English at Smith College around that same time. Plath returned to England in 1959.

A poet on the rise, Sylvia Plath had her first collection of poetry, The Colossus, published in England in 1960. That same year, she gave birth to her first child, a daughter named Freida. Two years later, Plath and Hughes welcomed a second child, a son named Nicholas. Unfortunately, the couple’s marriage was failing apart.

After Hughes left her for another woman in 1962, Sylvia Plath fell into a deep depression. Struggling with her mental illness, she wrote The Bell Jar (1963), her only novel, which was based on her life and deals with one young woman’s mental breakdown. Plath published the novel under the pseudonym Victoria Lucas. She also created the poems that would make up the collection Ariel (1965), which was released after her death. Sylvia Plath committed suicide on February 11, 1963.

Much to the dismay of some admirers of Sylvia Plath, Ted Hughes became her literary executor after her death. While there has been some speculation about how he handled her papers and her image, he did edit what is considered by many to her greatest work, Ariel. It featured several of her most well-known poems, including “Daddy” and “Lady Lazarus.” He continued to produce new collections of Plath’s works. Sylvia Plath won the Pulitzer Prize in 1982 for Collected Poems. She is still a highly regarded and much studied poet to this day.

The story of Sylvia Plath—her troubled life and tragic death—was the basis for the 2003 biopic Sylvia starring Gwyneth Paltrow in the title role.

Happy Birthday Gummo Marx

gummo marx

Marx brothers (L to R) Harpo Marx, Zeppo Marx, Chico Marx, Groucho Marx, and Gummo Marx (circa 1957)

Marx brothers (L to R) Harpo Marx, Zeppo Marx, Chico Marx, Groucho Marx, and Gummo Marx (circa 1957)

NAME: Gummo Marx
OCCUPATION: Actor, Comedian, Inventor
BIRTH DATE: October 21, 1892
DEATH DATE: April 21, 1977
PLACE OF BIRTH: New York, New York
PLACE OF DEATH: Palm Springs, California
Full Name: Milton Marx
AKA: Gummo Marx

Best Known For:  Often referred to as the “forgotten” Marx brother, Gummo Marx was the first to leave the act to enlist in World War I and become a businessman.

Everyone thinks of Harpo as the silent one (not with that horn!), but Gummo Marx was acgtually the quiet one. Born Milton Marx on October 21, 1892, in New York City, Gummo, like his brothers, was a first-generation American, the fifth of six boys born to Sam and Minnie Marx, who left Europe and met in New York. The first of their six sons, Manfred, died in infancy.

There are related versions as to how Gummo acquired his nickname, all revolving around shoes: Legend has it that he was stealthy backstage, sneaking up on people like a gumshoe (detective), so monologist Art Fisher dubbed him Gummo. However, it has also been reported that Gummo actually wore rubber-soled shoes because frequent illnesses required that his feet be protected from damp.

Gummo was actually the first Marx brother on stage, appearing early on in his Uncle Julius’s ventriloquism act. Then, Minnie Marx organized a vaudeville singing troupe called the Three Nightingales in 1909, with Groucho, Gummo and singer Mabel O’Donell, to tour the circuit. When Harpo was brought in, they became the Four Nightingales, and Minnie occasionally joined in the act along with the boys’ aunt, Hannah Schickler, making them the Six Mascots. When Chico joined the act, they became the Four Marx Brothers.

When Gummo left the brother act to join the war effort in 1917, youngest brother Zeppo took over his role as straight man.

Gummo’s military service in the U.S. Army didn’t require him to go overseas, but he didn’t return to the stage after World War I, deciding to start a raincoat business instead. He later became a successful talent agent, especially after Zeppo joined him in the business when he, too, left the act.

Gummo ended up representing brother Groucho as well as other top talent of the time, including Glenn Ford, and helped develop the television series Life of Riley. He also held a patent for a packing rack he’d invented.

Gummo married Helen von Tilzer in 1929 and their son, Robert, was born the following year.

Gummo Marx died of a cerebral hemorrhage on April 21, 1977, at his home in Palm Springs, California. He is buried next to wife Helen at the Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery in Glendale, California. His three grandsons all went into show business.

In The Marx Brothers Scrapbook, Groucho expressed his affection for Gummo, with some unkind words for Zeppo. But Zeppo, too, felt closest to Gummo. In his last interview, Zeppo told the BBC, “Gummo was a love. He didn’t like show business but I think he felt, same as I did, that he was inadequate, that he wasn’t doing his share. I miss Gummo very much.”

Happy Birthday Bela Lugosi

Today is the 132nd birthday of Bela Lugosi.

NAME: Bela Lugosi
OCCUPATION: Actor
BIRTH DATE: October 20, 1882
DEATH DATE: August 16, 1956
EDUCATION: Budapest Academy of Theatrical Arts
PLACE OF BIRTH: Lugos, Hungary
PLACE OF DEATH: Los Angeles, California
Hollywood Walk of Fame 6340 Hollywood Blvd. (motion pictures)

BEST KNOWN FOR: Count Dracula was Actor Bela Lugosi’s most famous role. Lugosi played him in stage productions and in the 1931 Universal Pictures film Dracula.

Actor. Bela Lugosi was born as Bela Ferenc Dezso Blasko on October 20, 1882 in Lugos, Hungary, which was then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. His birthplace was only some fifty miles away from the western border of Transylvania and the Poenari Castle, the legendary home of Vlad the Impaler, the historical Dracula, whom Lugosi would portray to great acclaim on both stage and screen. Although descended from a long line of Hungarian farmers, Lugosi’s father, Istvan Blasko, broke with family tradition to become a baker and banker. Bela Lugosi was a temperamental and rebellious child. “I was very unruly as a boy, very out of control,” he later admitted. “Like Jekyll and Hyde, except that I changed according to sex. I mean, with boys I was tough and brutal. But the minute I came into company with girls and women, I kissed their hands… With boys, I say, I was a brute. With girls, I was a lamb.”

Lugosi attended the local grammar school in Lugos and then continued on to the Hungarian State Gymnasium at the age of 11, in 1893. However, Lugosi hated the strict discipline and formality of the State Gymnnasium, and one year later, he dropped out of school and ran away from home. Traveling on foot and relying on the occasional odd job and the charity of strangers for food and lodging, Lugosi finally settled in a small mining town named Resita, approximately 300 miles south of Lugos. He worked in the mines and also as a machinist’s assistant. However, Lugosi was captivated by the touring theatrical troupes that came through Resita and set his heart on becoming an actor. “They tried to give me little parts in their plays, but I was so uneducated, so stupid, people just laughed at me,” he recalled. “But I got the taste of the stage. I got, also, the rancid taste of humiliation.”

In 1897, Lugosi left Resita to join his mother and his sister Vilma in Szabadka. In 1898, he returned to school but dropped out after only four months and took a job as a railroad laborer. Soon after, Vilma’s husband managed to land Lugosi a place in the chorus of a traveling theater company. Displaying remarkable raw talent despite his lack of education or training, Lugosi quickly ascended from the back of the chorus into leading roles as he traveled across Hungary performing with the troupe. By the early 1900s, he had been accepted into Hungary’s Academy of Performing Arts with a specialty in Shakespearean acting. Adopting the name “Lugosi” as a reference to his birthplace of Lugos, throughout the first decade of the 20th century he toured the Austro-Hungarian Empire performing male lead roles in such Shakespearean classics as Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, Richard III and The Taming of the Shrew. In 1913, he joined the Hungarian National Theater in Budapest and starred in more Shakespearean plays, as well as Cyrano de Bergerac and Faust.

Although members of the National Theater were exempt from military service, in June 1914 the highly patriotic Lugosi put his acting career on hold to fight for Hungary against Russia in World War I. After being discharged from the army due to health problems in 1916, Lugosi returned to the National Theater and delivered a celebrated performance as Jesus Christ in The Passion. Over the next few years, Lugosi gradually transitioned from stage acting into Hungary’s rapidly growing silent film industry. In addition to acting in many silent Hungarian films, Lugosi organized Hungary’s National Trade Union of Actors, the world’s first film actors’ union. He was a staunch supporter of the 1919 Hungarian Revolution that briefly brought Bela Kun’s Hungarian Soviet Republic into power, and as a result when the revolution collapsed Lugosi found himself a wanted enemy of the new government. “After the war, I participated in the revolution,” he said. “Later, I found myself on the wrong side.”

In 1919, Lugosi fled to Vienna, as legend has it buried beneath a pile of straw in wheelbarrow. From there he traveled to Berlin where he quickly found work in the German cinema. Lugosi appeared in several German films in 1920, most notably The Head of Janus, an adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Despite this quick success in Germany, Lugosi decided to immigrate to the United States; after a brief stop in Italy, he set sail for New Orleans, arriving on December 4, 1920. From there he immediately made his way to New York City, where an already sizeable Hungarian theatrical community welcomed him with open arms. Lugosi plunged himself into New York’s Hungarian theater as an actor and director of many Hungarian productions over the next several years. Despite not yet having a firm grasp of the language, he made his English-language stage debut in a 1922 production of The Red Poppy, for which Lugosi memorized his lines phonetically. Since silent films still predominated, Lugosi’s language skills were not a barrier to his acting in American movies. He made his American film debut in The Silent Command (1923) and then appeared in The Midnight Girl (1925).

In 1927, Lugosi accepted the titular role in the American theatrical run of Dracula, a play based on Bram Stoker’s gothic novel of the same name. Lugosi’s Dracula was unlike any previous portrayals of the role. Handsome, mysterious and alluring, Lugosi’s Dracula was at once so sexy and so haunting that audiences gasped when he first opened his mouth to speak. After a half-year run on Broadway, Dracula toured the United States to much fanfare and critical acclaim throughout 1928 and 1929. “It is a marvelous play,” Lugosi said. “We keep nurses and physicians in the theatre every night… for the people in the audience who faint.” With the popularization of “talking pictures” – movies with sound – Universal decided to make a film version of Dracula starring Lugosi. The 1931 film, entitled The Strangest Passion the World Has Ever Known, was a smash hit and forever immortalized Lugosi’s chilling portrayal of Dracula. Although countless actors have played Dracula since, to this date vampire enthusiasts idolize Lugosi as synonymous with the character.

Throughout the 1930s, Lugosi was typecast as a Hollywood horror villain – playing monsters, murderers and mad scientists – in dozens of B-list films. His most notable performances were Murderers in the Rue Morgue (1932), White Zombie (1932), International House (1933), The Raven (1934), Dracula’s Daughter (1936) and Son of Frankenstein (1939). While none of these roles were especially noteworthy in isolation, Lugosi’s cumulative body of work during the 1930s established him as one of the first great stars of the horror genre. Nevertheless, throughout his entire career Lugosi was frustrated by his inability to break through into other types of films. “I am definitely typed, doomed to be an exponent of evil,” he said. “But I want sympathetic roles. Then parents would tell their offspring, ‘Eat your spinach and you’ll grow up to be a nice man like Bela Lugosi.’ As it is, they threaten their children with me instead of the bogey-man.”

After a few lean years in the late 1930s, when horror movies fell out of vogue in Hollywood, in the 1940s Lugosi once again began appearing in countless horror films as well as sequels and spoofs such as The Ghost of Frankenstein (1942), Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (1943) and Bud Abbott and Lou Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948). Despite his prolific acting career and high profile, due to Universal’s ruthless compensation system and his own careless spending, Lugosi lived the majority of his adult life deeply mired in debt. He spent the last few years of his career in the early 1950s back on the stage in revival productions of Dracula as well as Arsenic and Old Lace.

In 1956, Lugosi began work on a sci-fi thriller called Plan 9 From Outer Space. However, he passed away in the middle of filming on August 16, 1956, aged 73. Lugosi was fittingly buried in his Dracula cape.

Despite Lugosi’s death, Plan 9 from Outer Space was completed with director Ed Wood’s wife’s chiropractor taking over his part. The final version of the film bizarrely mixes footage of Lugosi as well as footage of his replacement (who looks nothing at all like him), one of many oddities that make Plan 9 From Outer Space both a cult classic and a film many critics have called the worst of all time.

Bela Lugosi married five times. In 1917, while still in Hungary, he married Ilona Szmik. They divorced two years later, when Lugosi fled for Germany and Szmik refused to leave her native land. In 1921, shortly after arriving in New York, he married Illona von Montagh, but they too divorced after three years in 1924. Lugosi married his third wife, Woodruff Weeks, in 1929; their marriage lasted all of three days. In 1933, he married his fourth wife, Lillian Arch, and they remained married for twenty years before finally separating in 1953. He married Hope Lininger in 1955 and they stayed together until his death a year later.

The actor who became synonymous with Dracula, Bela Lugosi paved the way for the incredible proliferation of vampire movies in Hollywood. His depiction of Dracula as at once dangerous and mysteriously sexy continues to shape the way vampires are portrayed in such pop culture phenomena as Twilight and True Blood. However, Lugosi was much more than a one-hit wonder who played out the rest of his career in B-grade slasher movies. He was a multitalented and immensely gifted performer who mastered Shakespearean acting in Hungary before coming to define the American horror film genre. Nevertheless, despite his dozens of films and stage performances, Lugosi lives on for posterity not so much as an actor but as the personification of his greatest character. When he performed as Dracula, Lugosi spoke for his own personal legacy as much as for his character when he pronounced the immortal line, “I am Dracula.”

FILMOGRAPHY AS ACTOR
Plan 9 from Outer Space (1959)
The Black Sleep (Jun-1956) · Casimir
Bride of the Monster (11-May-1955) · Dr. Eric Vornoff
Glen or Glenda (1953) · Scientist
Bela Lugosi Meets a Brooklyn Gorilla (4-Sep-1952)
Mother Riley Meets the Vampire (1952) · Von Housen
Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (15-Jun-1948) · Dracula
Scared to Death (1-Feb-1947) · Prof. Leonide
Genius at Work (20-Oct-1946)
The Body Snatcher (25-May-1945) · Joseph
Zombies on Broadway (26-Apr-1945)
One Body Too Many (24-Nov-1944)
Return of the Ape Man (17-Jul-1944) · Prof. Dexter
Voodoo Man (21-Feb-1944)
The Return of the Vampire (1-Jan-1944) · Armand Tesla
Ghosts on the Loose (30-Jul-1943)
The Ape Man (5-Mar-1943)
Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (5-Mar-1943)
Bowery at Midnight (30-Oct-1942) · Prof. Brenner
Night Monster (20-Oct-1942)
The Corpse Vanishes (8-May-1942) · Dr. Lorenz
The Ghost of Frankenstein (13-Mar-1942)
Black Dragons (6-Mar-1942) · Dr. Melcher
The Wolf Man (12-Dec-1941) · Bela
Spooks Run Wild (24-Oct-1941)
The Black Cat (2-May-1941)
Invisible Ghost (25-Apr-1941)
You’ll Find Out (22-Nov-1940) · Prince Saliano
The Devil Bat (11-Nov-1940) · Dr. Paul Carruthers
Black Friday (29-Feb-1940)
The Saint’s Double Trouble (26-Jan-1940) · Partner
The Dark Eyes of London (20-Jan-1940)
Ninotchka (6-Oct-1939) · Razinin
The Gorilla (26-May-1939)
Son of Frankenstein (13-Jan-1939) · Ygor
The Phantom Creeps (7-Jan-1939)
S.O.S. Coast Guard (28-Aug-1937)
Postal Inspector (16-Aug-1936)
The Invisible Ray (20-Jan-1936) · Dr. Felix Benet
Murder by Television (1-Oct-1935)
The Raven (8-Jul-1935)
The Mystery of the Marie Celeste (27-Apr-1935) · Anton Lorenzen
Mark of the Vampire (28-Mar-1935) · Count Mora
Chandu on the Magic Island (1935)
The Mysterious Mr. Wong (22-Dec-1934) · Fu Wong
The Return of Chandu (1-Oct-1934)
The Black Cat (3-May-1934) · Dr. Vitus Werdegast
International House (27-May-1933)
Island of Lost Souls (12-Jan-1933) · Sayer of the Law
The Death Kiss (5-Dec-1932) · Joseph Steiner
White Zombie (4-Aug-1932) · Murder Legendre
Chandu the Magician (4-Aug-1932) · Roxor
Murders in the Rue Morgue (21-Feb-1932) · Dr. Mirakle
Broadminded (1-Aug-1931)
The Black Camel (21-Jun-1931)
Dracula (12-Feb-1931) · Count Dracula
Renegades (26-Oct-1930) · The Marabout
The Thirteenth Chair (19-Oct-1929)
The Midnight Girl (15-Feb-1925)

Happy Birthday Montgomery Clift

Today would have been Montgomery Clift’s 94th birthday.  His life seemed to be full of super highs and super lows and I think that makes the best life story.  It makes me root for them (even if I know the outcome) and love their humanity, vulnerability, and fragility.  Plus, his best friend was Elizabeth Taylor, the 1950’s Elizabeth Taylor at that.  Have you seen A Place in the Sun or Misfits lately?  Have you seen them ever?  They both have ridiculously talented casts that make them more than worthwhile to watch.

NAME: Edward Montgomery Clift
OCCUPATION: Film Actor
BIRTH DATE: October 17, 1920
DEATH DATE: July 23, 1966
PLACE OF BIRTH: Omaha, Nebraska
PLACE OF DEATH: New York, New York

BEST KNOWN FOR: Actor Montgomery Clift starred in films like Red River (1948), A Place in the Sun (1951), and From Here To Eternity (1953).

Edward Montgomery Clift (October 17, 1920 – July 23, 1966) was an American film and stage actor. The New York Times’ obituary noted his portrayal of “moody, sensitive young men”.

He invariably played outsiders, often “victim-heroes,” – examples include the social climber in George Stevens’s A Place in the Sun, the anguished Catholic priest in Hitchcock’s I Confess, the doomed regular soldier Robert E. Lee Prewitt in Fred Zinnemann‘s From Here to Eternity, and the Jewish GI bullied by antisemites in Edward Dmytryk’s The Young Lions. Later, after a disfiguring car crash in 1956, and alcohol and prescription drug abuse, he became erratic. Nevertheless important roles were still his, including “the reckless, alcoholic, mother-fixated rodeo performer in Huston’s The Misfits, the title role in Huston’s Freud, and the concentration camp victim in Stanley Kramer‘s Judgment at Nuremberg.

Clift received four Academy Award nominations during his career, three for Best Actor and one for Best Supporting Actor.

Happy Birthday Rita Hayworth

Today is Rita Hayworth’s 96th birthday.  If you have not seen any of her films, start with “Gilda,” it is by far my favorite and you will fall in love with her.

 

NAME: Rita Hayworth
OCCUPATION: Film Actress, Dancer, Pin-up
BIRTH DATE: October 17, 1918
DEATH DATE: May 14, 1987
PLACE OF BIRTH: Brooklyn, New York
PLACE OF DEATH: New York, New York
Full Name: Margarita Carmen Cansino

Best Known For:  American film actress Rita Hayworth is best known for her stunning explosive sexual charisma on screen in films throughout the 1930s and 1940s.

A legendary Hollywood actress whose beauty catapulted her to international stardom in the 1940s and 1950s, Rita Hayworth was born Margarita Carmen Cansino on October 17, 1918, in New York City. She changed her last name to Hayworth early on in her acting career on the advice of her first husband and manager, Edward Judson.

Hayworth hailed from show business stock. Her father, the Spanish-born Eduardo Cansino, was a dancer, and her mother, Volga, had been a Ziegfeld Follies girl. Soon after their daughter was born, they shortened her name to Rita Cansino. By the time Rita was 12 she was dancing professionally.

Still a young girl, Rita moved with her family to Los Angeles and eventually joined her father on the stage in nightclubs both in the United States and in Mexico. It was on a stage in Agua Caliente, Mexico, that a Fox Film Company producer spotted the 16-year-old dancer and inked her to a contract.

Rita Cansino, as she was still known, made her film debut in 1935 with Under the Pampas Moon, which was followed by a string of other films including Dante’s Inferno (1935) with Spencer Tracy, Charlie Chan in Egypt (1935), Meet Nero Wolfe (1936), and Human Cargo (1936).

In 1937 she married Judson, a man 22 years older than her, who would set the stage for his young wife’s future stardom. On his advice, Rita not only changed her last name, but also dyed her hair auburn. Judson worked the phones and managed to get Hayworth plenty of press in newspapers and magazines, and eventually helped her get a seven-year contract with Columbia Pictures.

After a few disappointing roles in several mediocre films, Hayworth landed an important role as an unfaithful wife opposite Cary Grant in Only Angels Have Wings (1939). Critical praise came Hayworth’s way. So did more movie offers.

Just two years after the relatively unknown actress shared the screen with Grant, Hayworth was a star herself. Her stunning, sensual looks greatly helped, and that year Life magazine writer Winthrop Sargeant nicknamed Hayworth “The Great American Love Goddess.”

The moniker stuck, and only helped further her career and the fascination many male movie fans had with her. In 1941 Hayworth took the screen opposite James Cagney in Strawberry Blonde. That same year she shared the dance floor with Fred Astaire in You’ll Never Get Rich. Astaire later called Hayworth his favorite dance partner.

The following year Hayworth starred in three more big films: My Gal Sal, Tales of Manhattan, and You Were Never Lovelier.

Hayworth’s high-voltage power of seduction was affirmed in 1944 when a photograph of her in Life magazine wearing black lace became the unofficial pin-up photo for American servicemen serving overseas in World War II.

For her part, Hayworth didn’t shy away from the attention. “Why should I mind?” she said. “I like having my picture taken and being a glamorous person. Sometimes when I find myself getting impatient, I just remember the times I cried my eyes out because nobody wanted to take my picture at the Trocadero.”

Her stardom peaked in 1946 with the film Gilda, which cast her opposite Glenn Ford. A favorite of film noir fans,  the film was chock-full of sexual innuendo, which included a controversial (tame by today’s standards) striptease by Hayworth.

The following year she starred in another film noir favorite, The Lady From Shanghai, which was directed by her then-husband, Orson Welles.

Hayworth’s marriage to Welles in 1943 and subsequent divorce from the director and actor in 1948 garnered plenty of press. It was Hayworth’s second marriage, and with Welles she had a daughter, Rebecca.

It was during the filming of The Lady From Shanghai that Hayworth filed for divorce from Welles. In court documents she claimed, “he showed no interest in establishing a home. When I suggested purchasing a home, he told me he didn’t want the responsibility. Mr. Welles told me he never should have married in the first place; that it interfered with his freedom in his way of life.”

But Hayworth had also met and fallen in love with Prince Aly Khan, whose father was the head of the Ismaili Muslims. A statesman and a bit of a playboy, Khan eventually served as Pakistan’s representative to the United Nations.

Hayworth and Khan married in 1949 and had a daughter together, Princess Yasmin Aga Khan. After divorcing Khan after just two years of marriage, Hayworth later married and divorced the singer Dick Haymes. Her fifth and final marriage was to movie producer James Hill.

As her personal life was dogged by turmoil, her acting career sputtered. Periodic film roles did come her way, but they failed to capture magic and project the kind of star power her earlier work once had. In all, Hayworth appeared in more than 40 films, the last of which was the 1972 release The Wrath of God.

In 1971 she briefly attempted a stage career, but it was quickly halted when it was apparent that Hayworth was unable to memorize her lines.

Hayworth’s diminished skills as an actress were largely chalked up to what many believed was a severe alcohol problem. Her deteriorating state made headlines in January 1976 when the actress, appearing disheveled and out of sorts, was escorted off a plane.

That same year a California court, citing Hayworth’s alcohol issues, named an administrator for her affairs.

But alcohol was only one of the factors ruining her life. Hayworth was also suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, which doctors diagnosed her as having in 1980. A year later she was placed under the care of her daughter, Princess Yasmin, who used her mother’s condition as a catalyst for increasing awareness of Alzheimer’s disease. In 1985, Yasmin helped organize Alzheimer’s Disease International, and eventually helmed the group as its president.

After years of struggle Hayworth died on May 14, 1987, in the apartment she shared with her daughter in New York City. Her passing elicited an outpouring of appreciation from fans and fellow actors.

“Rita Hayworth was one of our country’s most beloved stars,” President Ronald Reagan said upon hearing of Hayworth’s death. “Glamorous and talented, she gave us many wonderful moments on the stage and screen and delighted audiences from the time she was a young girl. Nancy and I are saddened by Rita’s death. She was a friend whom we will miss.”

Happy Birthday Le Corbusier

Today is the 127th birthday of Le Corbusier.

NAME: Le Corbusier
OCCUPATION: Architect, Artist
BIRTH DATE: October 6, 1887
DEATH DATE: August 27, 1965
EDUCATION: École des Arts Décoratifs at La Chaux-de-Fonds
PLACE OF BIRTH: La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland
PLACE OF DEATH: Cap Martin, France
AKA: Charles Jeanneret-Gris

BEST KNOWN FOR: Le Corbusier was a Swiss-born French architect who belonged to the first generation of the so-called International school of architecture.

Born Charles-Edouard Jeanneret-Gris on October 6, 1887, Le Corbusier was the second son of Edouard Jeanneret, an artist who painted dials in the town’s renowned watch industry, and Madame Jeannerct-Perrct, a musician and piano teacher. His family’s Calvinism, love of the arts and enthusiasm for the Jura Mountains, where his family fled during the Albigensian Wars of the 12th century, were all formative influences on the young Le Corbusier.

At age 13, Le Corbusier left primary school to attend Arts Décoratifs at La Chaux-de-Fonds, where he would learn the art of enameling and engraving watch faces, following in the footsteps of his father.

There, he fell under the tutelage of L’Eplattenier, whom Le Corbusier called “my master” and later referred to him as his only teacher. L’Eplattenier taught Le Corbusier art history, drawing and the naturalist aesthetics of art nouveau. Perhaps because of his extended studies in art, Corbusier soon abandoned watchmaking and continued his studies in art and decoration, intending to become a painter. L’Eplattenier insisted that his pupil also study architecture, and he arranged for his first commissions working on local projects.

After designing his first house, in 1907, at age 20, Le Corbusier took trips through central Europe and the Mediterranean, including Italy, Vienna, Munich and Paris. His travels included apprenticeships with various architects, most significantly with structural rationalist Auguste Perret, a pioneer of reinforced concrete construction, and later with renowned architect Peter Behrens, with whom Le Corbusier worked from October 1910 to March 1911, near Berlin.

These trips played a pivotal role in Le Corbusier’s education. He made three major architectural discoveries. In various settings, he witnessed and absorbed the importance of (1) the contrast between large collective spaces and individual compartmentalized spaces, an observation that formed the basis for his vision of residential buildings and later became vastly influential; (2) classical proportion via Renaissance architecture; and (3) geometric forms and the use of landscape as an architectural tool.

In 1912, Le Corbusier returned to La Chaux-de-Fonds to teach alongside L’Eplattenier and to open his own architectural practice. He designed a series of villas and began to theorize on the use of reinforced concrete as a structural frame, a thoroughly modern technique.

Le Corbusier began to envisage buildings designed from these concepts as affordable prefabricated housing that would help rebuild cities after World War I came to an end. The floor plans of the proposed housing consisted of open space, leaving out obstructive support poles, freeing exterior and interior walls from the usual structural constraints. This design system became the backbone for most of Le Corbusier’s architecture for the next 10 years.

In 1917, Le Corbusier moved to Paris, where he worked as an architect on concrete structures under government contracts. He spent most of his efforts, however, on the more influential, and at the time more lucrative, discipline of painting.

Then, in 1918, Le Corbusier met Cubist painter Amédée Ozenfant, who encouraged Le Corbusier to paint. Kindred spirits, the two began a period of collaboration in which they rejected cubism, an art form finding its peak at the time, as irrational and romantic.

With these thoughts in mind, the pair published the book Après le cubisme (After Cubism), an anti-cubism manifesto, and established a new artistic movement called purism. In 1920, the pair, along with poet Paul Dermée, established the purist journal L’Esprit Nouveau (The New Spirit), an avant-garde review.

In the first issue of the new publication, Charles-Edouard Jeanneret took on the pseudonym Le Corbusier, an alteration of his grandfather’s last name, to reflect his belief that anyone could reinvent himself. Also, adopting a single name to represent oneself artistically was particularly en vogue at the time, especially in Paris, and Le Corbusier wanted to create a persona that could keep separate his critical writing from his work as a painter and architect.

In the pages of L’Esprit Nouveau, the three men railed against past artistic and architectural movements, such as those embracing elaborate nonstructural (that is, nonfunctional) decoration, and defended Le Corbusier’s new style of functionalism.

In 1923, Le Corbusier published Vers une Architecture (Toward a New Architecture), which collected his polemical writing from L’Esprit Nouveau. In the book are such famous Le Corbusier declarations as “a house is a machine for living in” and “a curved street is a donkey track; a straight street, a road for men.”

Le Corbusier’s collected articles also proposed a new architecture that would satisfy the demands of industry, hence functionalism, and the abiding concerns of architectural form, as defined over generations. His proposals included his first city plan, the Contemporary City, and two housing types that were the basis for much of his architecture throughout his life: the Maison Monol and, more famously, the Maison Citrohan, which he also referred to as “the machine of living.”

Le Corbusier envisioned prefabricated houses, imitating the concept of assembly line manufacturing of cars, for instance. Maison Citrohan displayed the characteristics by which the architect would later define modern architecture: support pillars that raise the house above the ground, a roof terrace, an open floor plan, an ornamentation-free facade and horizontal windows in strips for maximum natural light. The interior featured the typical spatial contrast between open living space and cell-like bedrooms.

In an accompanying diagram to the design, the city in which Citrohan would rest featured green parks and gardens at the feet of clusters of skyscrapers, an idea that would come to define urban planning in years to come.

Soon Le Corbusier’s social ideals and structural design theories became a reality. In 1925-1926, he built a workers’ city of 40 houses in the style of the Citrohan house at Pessac, near Bordeaux. Unfortunately, the chosen design and colors provoked hostility on the part of authorities, who refused to route the public water supply to the complex, and for six years the buildings sat uninhabited.

In the 1930s, Le Corbusier reformulated his theories on urbanism, publishing them in La Ville radieuse (The Radiant City) in 1935. The most apparent distinction between the Contemporary City and the Radiant City is that the latter abandoned the class-based system of the former, with housing now assigned according to family size, not economic position.

The Radiant City brought with it some controversy, as all Le Corbusier projects seemed to. In describing Stockholm, for instance, a classically rendered city, Le Corbusier saw only “frightening chaos and saddening monotony.” He dreamed of “cleaning and purging” the city with “a calm and powerful architecture”; that is, steel, plate glass and reinforced concrete, what many observers might see as a modern blight applied to the beautiful city.

At the end of the 1930s and through the end of World War II, Le Corbusier kept busy with creating such famous projects as the proposed master plans for the cities of Algiers and Buenos Aires, and using government connections to implement his ideas for eventual reconstruction, all to no avail.