Happy Birthday Clara Bow

Today is the 109th birthday of Clara Bow.

NAME: Clara Bow
OCCUPATION: Film Actor/Film Actress
BIRTH DATE: July 29, 1905
DEATH DATE: September 27, 1965
PLACE OF BIRTH: Brooklyn, New York
PLACE OF DEATH: Los Angeles, California

BEST KNOWN FOR: American motion-picture actress Clare Bow was a major box-office draw during the silent-film era, having starred in dozens of projects.

Clara Bow was born on July 29, 1905 in the Bay Ridge area of Brooklyn, NY. She was the youngest of three siblings and the only one to survive past childhood. Her father was sexually abusive and left the home for long periods of time while her mother suffered from severe mental disorders, later threatening her adolescent daughter’s life.

Bow took to watching movies as an escape from the horrors of home and dropped out of school. At 16, she entered a magazine’s beauty contest and won a small part in the film Beyond the Rainbow (1922), though her scenes were initially cut. Even while facing resistance, Bow persevered in continuing to audition at New York studios and eventually received a part in Down to the Sea in Ships (1922). The new actress also contended with the institutionalization and death of her mother.

Bow made her way to Hollywood and signed with Preferred Pictures under honcho B.P. Schulberg, with the actress also working with other studios. She starred in an array of silent films such as Grit (1924), The Plastic Age (1925) and Dancing Mothers (1926); the latter was filmed by Paramount Studios, which Schulberg joined after Preferred’s bankruptcy.

Bow became wildly popular after 1927’s It, a film adapted from a Elinor Glyn novella. The project proved to be a tremendous box office success and lent the actress the nickname the “It” Girl. Bow’s imagery and electric, sexy performances spoke to the flapper persona of the times. She was a style icon as well, with her particular look taken on by women across the country.

The actress made cinematic history with her 1927 co-starring role in Wings, which went on to receive the first Best Picture Oscar. She later made the transition to talking movies with 1929’s The Wild Party. Bow ultimately starred in dozens of films over the course of her career, though rigorous shooting demands and industry exploitation took its toll.

Known for having a fun and affable personality with a winning Brooklyn accent, Bow nonetheless still suffered from an overloaded work schedule, celebrity scrutiny and the lingering traumas of her upbringing. She had been associated with a number of men off-screen and her romantic life became the object of much hurtful speculation and gossip, including a pamphlet put forth by an assistant with stories of Bow’s relationships. In 1931 she had a breakdown and entered a sanitarium.

While recovering, Bow met fellow actor and future politician Rex Bell, and the two married in 1931, going on to have two children. Bow starred in a couple of other films with Fox Studios before retiring from acting in 1933. Over time she still struggled deeply with her emotional and mental health, attempting suicide in the mid-1940s and undergoing a score of examinations.

A widower after her husband’s death in 1962, Clara Bow died at the age of 60 on September 27, 1965 in Los Angeles, California from a heart attack. Decades later, her trailblazing role in shaping film and general culture has continued to be explored. A biography was published in 1988, Clara Bow Runnin’ Wild by David Stenn, while 1999 saw the release of a documentary, Clara Bow: Discovering the It Girl, directed by Hugh M. Neely and narrated by Courtney Love.

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 Edward Hopper

Today is the 132nd birthday of the artist Edward Hopper.

NAME: Edward Hopper
OCCUPATION: Painter
BIRTH DATE: July 22, 1882
DEATH DATE: May 15, 1967
PLACE OF BIRTH: Nyack, New York
PLACE OF DEATH: New York, New York

BEST KNOWN FOR: Artist Edward Hopper is the painter behind the iconic late-night diner scene Nighthawks (1942).

Edward Hopper was born in 1882, in NY, into a middle class family, which encouraged the art work and career that he wanted to pursue. From 1900 to 1906 he studied at the NY School of Art, and while in school, shifted from illustration to works of fine art. Upon completing his schooling, he worked as an illustrator for a short period of time; once this career path ended, he made three international trips, which had a great influence on the future of his work, and the type of art he would engage in during the course of his career. He made three trips to Europe between 1906 and 1910. In retrospect, Europe meant France, and more specifically, Paris, for Edward Hopper. This city , its architecture, light, and art tradition, decisively affected his development.

When he arrived in 1906, Paris was the artistic center of the Western world; no other city was as important for the development of modern art. The move toward abstract painting was already underway; Cubism had begun. There, in 1907, Picasso painted his legendary Les Demoiselles d’Avignon. Hopper, however, later maintained that when he was in Paris he never heard of Picasso, who was to become so important for the development of modern literature. For Hopper, the encounter with Impressionism was decisive. The light in these paintings and the thematic treatment of architecture and nature particularly attracted him and were to influence all of his work. His reaction to the Impressionists is directly reflected in his own art. He forgot the dark, Old Master-like interiors of his New York student days, when he was influenced mainly by the great European artists – Goya, Caravaggio, El Greco, and Diego Velazquez. The influence of Impressionists, like Paul Cezanne, Claude Monet, Edouard Manet, is directly reflected in his own art. His palette lit up and he began to paint with light and quick strokes. Even in 1962, he could say, “I think I’m still an Impressionist.”
In 1910 Hopper returned to the United States, never to leave North America again. During the 1910s, Edward Hopper struggled quite a bit to gain any recognition for the works he had created. During this period a number of his works were distributed through various shows and exhibits in New York, but very little, if any attention, was given to his pieces. Oil painting was a focal point of the work he had done, but a majority of the sales he made during this period, was for works he had created doing etching work and murals.

At the age of 37, Edward Hopper received his first open invitation to do a one person exhibit, featuring some of this finest pieces of art. 16 pieces of his work were shown at the Whitney Club, and although none of the pieces were sold at this exhibit, it did point his career in a new direction, it got his art work out to the general public, and he became a more notable name in the type of work and the art forms which he most wanted to focus his career on, for the future works he would create.

A few years later, Edward Hopper found his career had taken a turn for the better, and he was doing well in sales, and financially with the works he had created. He was invited to do a second one person exhibit, to feature new works, and to create a buzz about the work he had created in recent years. The Frank KM Rehn Gallery in NYC, was where this second exhibit took place, and it received far more attention and a much larger crowd, due to the location where the exhibit was taking place, and also because of the fact that more people were now aware of the works Edward Hopper had created.

House by the Railroad, was a famous painting created by the artist, which was the first work to be acquired for the Museum of Modern Art, which had only recently been opened for general viewing. Strongly defined lighting, clearly defined lines, and cropped viewpoints, were some of the features which this art work captured; and, this embodied the style in which Edward Hopper would use later on in his career, and with the future works that he would produce during the course of his career as an artist.

In 1923, Edward Hopper married a fellow student who attended the NY Academy where he got his education, Josephine Nivision. Not only did she pose for nearly half of the female figure pieces which he created during his career, she also encouraged and pushed him to engage in different art forms during his career as well. She pushed him to work with water colors, and she kept records of all the pieces he designed, the exhibits he was to be a part of, and all of the sales of the pieces which were made, during these exhibits in which his work was presented.

In 1933, Edward Hopper received further praises for the works he had done, and for a piece that was on exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art. His highly identifiable style, and mature painting styles, were some things he had become known for during this period. The gorgeous landscapes, the quiet rooms and empty rooms he designed, and the transitory effect which many of his works posed, created a sense of contemporary life and a new style, which many in the art world recognized, and many praised him for this distinct style he had created in his art forms.

In Edward Hopper’s most famous piece, Nighthawks, there are four customers and a waiter, who are in a brightly lit diner at night. It was a piece created during a wartime; and many believe that their disconnect with the waiter, and with the external world, represent the feelings of many Americans during this period, because of the war. The piece was set up in 1942, in the Art Institute of Chicago, and was seen by many people while it was on exhibit for a show.

Between the 1930s and 1950s, Edward Hopper and his wife spent quite a bit of time, and most of their summers, visiting Cape Cod, Massachusetts. In many of the works that Hopper created during this period, many of the scenes, the common locations, and nearby attractions which they visited, were often seen in the art forms that he created during his career. He also started to travel further out, and visited regions from Vermont out to Charleston, in order to add more new points of interest to his collection, and to broaden the works and the locations which he would include in many of the images that he created over the course of his career.

Later in his career, many of his works were displayed in various exhibits, namely at the Whitney Museum, which was located in New York City. Later in his career, during the 1940s, was a period in which he found the most commercial success. But, soon after, and even during this time period, he began losing critical favors. This was namely due to the new forms of art, and the fact that abstract pieces were beginning to enter the art world, which took over the work he did, as well as the work of many famous artists prior to him.

His choices of subject matter – particularly the places he painted – seem to have been somewhat unpredictable, since they were part of his constant battle with the chronic boredom that often stifled his urge to paint. This is what kept Hopper on the move – his search for inspiration, least painfully found in the stimulation of new surroundings. As he explained to one critic:

“To me the most important thing is the sense of going on. You know how beautiful things are when you’re traveling.”

In the 1940s and 1950s, Hopper found himself losing critical favor in the wake of Abstract Expressionism. Among the new vanguard art movement emerged in the early 1940s, artists such as Willem de Kooning, Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko advanced audacious formal inventions in a search for significant content. By breaking away from accepted conventions in both technique and subject matter, those artists made monumentally scaled works that stood as reflections of their individual psyches, and attempted to tap into universal inner sources. Even during this era of national prosperity and cultural optimism, Edward Hopper’s art continued to suggest that the individual could still suffer a powerful sense of isolation in post-war America. Hopper never lacked popular appeal, however, and by the time of his death in 1967, Hopper had been reclaimed as a major influence by a new generation of American realist artists.

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 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.

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 Paul Lynde

Today is the 88th birthday of Paul Lynde.  He had a lengthy and varied career, but I remember him best as Uncle Arthur.  Also, there is a very very cult following of Halloween episode of The Paul Lynde Show.  I included a link below.  I cannot even prepare you for the experience.

Peter Marshall: Paul, why do Hell’s Angels wear leather?
Paul Lynde: Because chiffon wrinkles too easily.

NAME: Paul Lynde
OCCUPATION: Film Actor, Television Actor, Comedian, Game Show Host
BIRTH DATE: June 13, 1926
DEATH DATE: January 10, 1982
EDUCATION: Northwestern University
PLACE OF BIRTH: Mount Vernon, Ohio
PLACE OF DEATH: Beverly Hills, California

BEST KNOWN FOR: Actor Paul Lynde is best known for his work on the fledgling game show Hollywood Squares, where he worked for 15 years.

Paul Lynde studied drama with classmates Charlotte Rae, Patricia O’Neal and Charlton Heston. He moved to New York in 1948 to hone his comedic skills by performing stand-up routines. In 1960 he was cast as the father of a star-struck teenager in the Broadway production Bye, Bye Birdie, the success of which led to the recording of a comedy album and regular spots on The Perry Como Show.

Actor. Born June 13, 1926, in Mount Vernon, Ohio. Lynde attended Northwestern University, where he studied drama with classmates Charlotte Rae, Patricia O’Neal, and Charlton Heston. In 1948, upon his graduation, he moved to New York and honed his comedic skills by performing stand-up routines.

In the early 1950s, Lynde landed a role in a Broadway revue New Faces of 1952. Featuring the now-classic monologue “The Trip of the Month Club,” Lynde was singled out for his manic portrayal of a hapless but determinedly upbeat survivor of a tourist trip to Africa. Despite an auspicious Broadway debut, Lynde did not return to stage work for quite some time. Over the next eight years, he made guest appearances on variety and radio shows.

In 1960, Lynde was cast as the father of a star-struck teenager in the Broadway production Bye, Bye Birdie a role that he reprised in the 1963 film adaptation, which starred Dick Van Dyke and Ann-Margaret. For Lynde, the success of Bye, Bye Birdie led to the recording of a comedy album and regular spots on The Red Buttons Show and The Perry Como Show.

Over the next few years, Lynde appeared in supporting roles in lighthearted films like Under the Yum-Yum Tree (1963), Beach Blanket Bingo (1965), and The Glass Bottom Boat (1966). Lynde forged a lucrative career as a character actor with parts on the popular TV series The Munsters, I Dream of Jeanie, and Bewitched. In 1967, he debuted on the fledgling game show Hollywood Squares, where, as the permanent center square, he found an outlet to showcase his comedic talents for the next 15 years.

In 1972, playing an uptight attorney and father at odds with his liberal-minded son, Lynde starred in the short-lived sitcom The Paul Lynde Show. The series’ failure exacerbated Lynde’s pre-existing drinking problem, which led to numerous run-ins with the law and frequent arrests for public intoxication.

On January 10, 1982, at the age of 55, Paul Lynde died of a massive heart attack brought on by years of substance abuse.

Happy Birthday Carmen Dell’Orefice

Today is the 83rd birthday of Carmen Dell’Orefice.  Not everyone can look like this at age 81, but everyone can be inspired to stay active and interested and be fearless. This woman has had a life.

Carmen Dell'Orefice

Born: June 3, 1931  New York, NY, USA
Occupation: Model
Height: 5 ft 10 in (1.78 m)
Hair color: Silver
Eye color: Hazel
Measurements: US 36-26-39; EU 91.5-66-99
Dress size: US, 8; EU, 38

Carmen Dell’Orefice (born June 3, 1931) is an American model and actress, born in New York, NY. She is known within the fashion industry for being the world’s oldest working model as of the Spring/Summer 2012 season. She covered Vogue at the mere age of 15, and has been modelling ever since.

Carmen’s parents were Italian and Hungarian. They were constantly breaking up and getting back together. Because of this, Carmen lived in foster homes and sometimes with other relatives.

In 1942, Carmen reunited with her mother and moved to New York City. At the age of 13, while riding a bus to ballet class, she was approached to model by the wife of photographer Herman Landschoff. Her test photos, taken at Jones Beach, were a “flop” according to Carmen. Her godfather though introduced her to Vogue, where Carmen signed a contract for $7.50 per hour in 1946 at age 15. Carmen became a favoured model of photographer Erwin Blumenfeld who took her first Vogue cover in 1947. She appears in the December 15, 1947 issue of US Vogue as Little Red Riding Hood, Snow White and Cinderella along with supermodel Dorian Leigh, actors Ray Bolger and Jose Ferrer.

Despite modeling, Carmen and her mother were poor. They had no telephone and Vogue sent runners to their apartment to let Carmen know about modeling jobs. She roller-skated to assignments to save bus fares. Carmen was so malnourished that famed fashion photographers Horst P. Horst and Cecil Beaton had to pin back dresses and stuff her body with tissue. Carmen and her mother were also accomplished seamstresses and made extra money making clothes. One of their customers was Dorian Leigh. Carmen would later become best friends with Dorian’s younger sister, model Suzy Parker. Together they would be bridesmaids at Dorian’s second wedding to Roger Mehle in 1948.

In 1947, Carmen got a raise to $10–$25 per hour. She appeared on the October 1947 cover of Vogue, at age 16, one of the youngest Vogue cover models ever (along with Niki Taylor, Brooke Shields, and Monika Schnarre). Carmen was also on the November 1948 cover of Vogue. She worked with the most famous fashion photographers of the era including Irving Penn, Gleb Derujinsky, Francesco Scavullo, Norman Parkinson, and Richard Avedon. Carmen was photographed by Melvin Sokolsky for Harper’s Bazaar in 1960. The iconic image titled Carmen Las Meninas is world famous and has been collected internationally. Sokolsky also photographed Carmen for the classic Vanity Fair Lingerie campaign in which Carmen obscures her face with her hand. She also became Salvador Dalí’s muse.

Carmen-Dell'orefice

Despite early successes at a very young age, modeling agent Eileen Ford refused to represent her and Vogue lost interest in her. After doctors prescribed shots to start puberty, she instead started working for catalogs and lingerie, making $300 per hour. It was then that she joined Ford in 1953.

In the 1980s and 1990s, Carmen lost most of her money in the stock market. She was forced to auction off her famous modeling photographs from the 1940s-1980s through Sotheby’s.

In 1994, with what little money she had left, and with money from boyfriend Norman Levy, she invested with Bernie Madoff. For twelve years, Ruth and Bernie Madoff and Carmen and Norman Levy were a “foursome”, traveling and partying together on lavish yachts.

Levy died in 2005, at age 93, and Madoff was the executor of his will, which had $244 million in assets, according to Carmen. Madoff further used this money to lure in about 13,500 individuals and charities. She continued to regularly have dinner with the Madoffs after Levy’s death.

In December 2008 a 68-year-old friend, who invested her life savings with Madoff, telephoned Carmen to inform her that she too had been swindled. Carmen said, “For the second time in my life, I’ve lost all of my life savings.”.

In April 2009, Carmen was interviewed for Vanity Fair magazine’s story “Madoff’s World”. Photographs of Carmen and photographs she took of Madoff appear in this article.

 

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Happy Birthday Christine Jorgensen

Today is the 88th birthday of Christine Jorgensen.  When confronted with people’s opinions about the gender identities of others, I often claim that they are the bravest people we will ever meet.  Think about it.  If how you felt on the inside didn’t match how you looked on the outside and you chose to dress and alter yourself to align those two more closely.  But you know that in making yourself feel more whole, you are going to get stares and snickers every time you left your house.  All day long.  Would you be brave enough to do it?  Would you be strong enough to live your truth?

NAME:  Christine Jorgensen
OCCUPATION:  Singer, Film Actor/Film Actress
BIRTH DATE:  May 30, 1926
DEATH DATE:  May 3, 1989
EDUCATION:  Christopher Columbus High School, New York Institute of Photography
PLACE OF BIRTH:  Bronx, New York
PLACE OF DEATH:  San Clemente, California
ORIGINALLY:  George William Jorgensen Jr.

Best Known For: Entertainer, author and famous transsexual Christine Jorgensen, made headlines in the early 1950s for having a sex change from a man to a woman.

Entertainer, author and famous transsexual Christine Jorgensen was born George William Jorgensen, Jr., on May 30, 1926, in the Bronx, New York. In the early 1950s, Christine Jorgensen made headlines for having a sex change, transforming from a man to a woman. The son of a carpenter, she grew up in the Bronx borough of New York City. At an early age, Jorgensen became aware of feeling like a woman stuck inside a man’s body. She hated boys’ clothes and wondered why his clothes were so different from his older sister Dorothy’s pretty dresses, he wrote in American Weekly in 1953.

As a teenager, Jorgensen said that she felt “lost between the sexes.” She was more envious of girls than he was interested in them. Near the end of high school, Jorgensen found a diversion from her personal struggle — photography. Her father was an amateur photographer and two set up a darkroom at home. She also took classes at the New York Institute of Photography.

Unfortunately, Jorgensen had to put her interest aside when she was drafted into the military in 1945. Being of a small and slight build, she ended up working as a clerk at Fort Dix, New Jersey. After being discharged in 1946, Jorgensen floundered for a bit before deciding to become a woman.

In 1950, Jorgensen traveled to Denmark to begin the transformation from man to woman. The treatment, available only in Europe at the time, included hormone therapy and several operations. Her story became public in 1952 while she was still in a Copenhagen hospital, making big news in the United States. Overwhelmed by the attention, Jorgensen had to deal with such headlines as “Bronx ‘Boy’ Is Now a Girl” and “Dear Mum and Dad, Son Wrote, Have Now Become Your Daughter.”

Returning home to United States in 1953, Jorgensen was met by a sea of reporters at a New York airport. After answering a few questions, she said “I thank you all coming, but I think it’s too much.” Becoming more comfortable with her newfound fame, Jorgensen told her story to American Weekly magazine for a fee. She also developed a nightclub act, later saying, “I decided if they wanted to see me, they would have to pay for it,” according to The New York Times. Happy with her new identity as a woman, she often sang “I Enjoy Being a Girl.”

While she never questioned her choice, many members of the public and the media did not understand and made Jorgensen the subject of ridicule. Even the government was not willing to fully recognize her as a female. Engaged, she was denied a marriage license in 1959 became her birth certificate listed her as “male.”

Although some rejected her, others found her engaging and fascinating. Along with performing, she was a popular lecturer and author of 1967’s Christine Jorgensen: A Personal Biography. Her life even made the big screen in 1970’s The Christine Jorgensen Story.

Jorgensen retired to South California in the early 1970s. She died of bladder and lung cancer on May 3, 1989. Jorgensen’s very public transformation from a man to a woman launched a national discussion about gender identity, and her story stood as an inspiring example to others that suffered from that same feeling about being trapped in the wrong body, or gender dysphoria as it is also called.

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Happy Birthday Nora Ephron

Today is the 73rd birthday of the undeniably brilliant Nora Ephron.  Here list of things she will and won’t miss after she dies is heartbreaking, centering, and hilarious.  The world is a better place because there was a Nora Ephron.

NAME: Nora Ephron
OCCUPATION: Screenwriter, Director, Journalist
BIRTH DATE: May 19, 1941
DEATH DATE: June 26, 2012
EDUCATION: Wellesley College
PLACE OF BIRTH: New York, New York
PLACE OF DEATH: Manhattan, New York

Best Known For: Nora Ephron wrote and directed modern classic romantic comedies like Sleepless in Seattle, You’ve Got Mail and 2009’s Julie & Julia.

Nora Ephron was born on May 19, 1941 in New York, New York. A talented writer and director, Ephron is known for her successful romantic comedies, such as When Harry Met Sally (1989) and Sleepless in Seattle (1993). The daughter of writers, she grew up in Los Angeles, feeling much like an outsider. She went east to go to school at Wellesley College in Massachusetts.

Gifted with a sharp wit, Ephron first made her mark as an essayist. In 1970, her articles collected and published in 1970’s Wallflower at the Orgy and 1975’s Crazy Salad. Her first novel, Heartburn (1983), drew inspiration from the end of her second marriage and was later made into a film starring Meryl Streep and Jack Nicholson.

Around this time, Ephron made the leap into films, writing the screenplay for the drama Silkwood (1983). It earned her an Academy Award nomination for Best Screenplay. While that film received much praise, she really hit box office gold with her screenplay for When Harry Met Sally, starring Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan in the title roles. Audiences and critics alike responded enthusiastically to the well-crafted exploration into whether a man and a woman can be just friends and the relationship that develops between the lead characters. She received her second Academy Award nomination for Best Screenplay for this engaging, humorous film.

In 1992, Ephron directed her first film, This Is My Life. The film was generally well-received, with Time magazine calling it a “charming and quietly confident movie” that is both “adorable and unsentimental.” This family drama centered on a single mother who is pursuing a career in stand-up comedy. Ephron co-wrote the screenplay with her sister, Delia Ephron.

The next year, Ephron directed and wrote the wildly successful Sleepless in Seattle, which featured Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks as two people who live on opposite coasts and fall in love after Ryan hears Hanks on the radio and tracks him down. The film earned more than $120 million at the box office, once again showing Hollywood that Ephron was a formidable filmmaker. She also scored her third Academy Award nomination for Best Screenplay.

Ryan and Hanks reunited for another Ephron film, 1998’s You’ve Got Mail, which played the romantic possibilities created on the anonymity of the Internet. The two played business rivals who don’t know that they had become friends online. The two opposing relationships unfold during the course of the film. Many critics remarked on the dynamic chemistry between the lead actors. In addition to serving as the director on the film, Ephron co-wrote the screenplay with her sister, Delia.

Ephron’s 2005 film effort, Bewitched, failed to strike a cord with movie audiences. In 2006, she returned to her essayist roots with I Feel Bad about My Neck: And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman, offering her readers a comic look at aging and other issues.

In 2009, Ephron received wide acclaim for directing and writing Julie & Julia, a comedy about the lives of famed chef Julia Child and a young, aspiring cook. The film starred actresses Amy Adams and Meryl Streep (Julia Child), and earned nearly $130 million at the box office.

Ephron died from pneumonia, caused by acute myeloid leukemia, on June 26, 2012, at the age of 71. She was survived by her husband of nearly 25 years, screenwriter Nicholas Pileggi; and her two sons, Jacob and Max Bernstein, from her previous marriage to journalist Carl Bernstein, her second husband (Ephron’s first marriage was to Dan Greenburg).

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