Happy Birthday Lewis Hine

Today is the 140th birthday of Lewis Hine.  His iconic photographs of the early 20th century are immediately recognizable, much more so than his name.

NAME: Lewis Hine
OCCUPATION: Photographer
BIRTH DATE: September 26, 1874
DEATH DATE: November 03, 1940
PLACE OF BIRTH: Oshkosh, Wisconsin
PLACE OF DEATH: Hasting-on-Hudson, New York

Best Known For:  Lewis Hines was a photographer known for his documentation of exploited child workers and government projects.

In 1906, Hine became the staff photographer of the Russell Sage Foundation. Here Hine photographed life in the steel-making districts and people of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, for the influential sociological study called the Pittsburgh Survey.

In 1908, he became the photographer for the National Child Labor Committee (NCLC), leaving his teaching position. Over the next decade, Hine documented child labor, with focus on labor in the Carolina Piedmont, in American industry to aid the NCLC’s lobbying efforts to end the practice. In 1913 he documented child laborers among cotton mill children with a series of Galton’s composite portraits.

Hine’s work for the NCLC was often dangerous. As a photographer he was frequently threatened with violence or even death by factory police and foreman. At the time the immortality of child labour was meant to be hidden from the public. Photography was not only prohibited but posed a serious treat to the industry. In order to gain entry into these mills, mines and factories, Hines was forced to assume many guises. At times he was a fire inspector, post card vendor, bible salesman or even an industrial photographer making a record of factory machinery.

During and after World War I, he photographed American Red Cross relief work in Europe. In the 1920s and early 1930s, Hine made a series of “work portraits,” which emphasized the human contribution to modern industry. In 1930, Hine was commissioned to document the construction of The Empire State Building. Hine photographed the workers in precarious positions while they secured the iron and steel framework of the structure, taking many of the same risks the workers endured. In order to obtain the best vantage points, Hine was swung out in a specially designed basket 1,000 feet above Fifth Avenue.

During the Great Depression, he again worked for the Red Cross, photographing drought relief in the American South, and for theTennessee Valley Authority (TVA), documenting life in the mountains of eastern Tennessee. He also served as chief photographer for the Works Progress Administration’s (WPA) National Research Project, which studied changes in industry and their effect on employment. Hine was also a member of the faculty of the Ethical Culture Fieldston School.

The Library of Congress holds more than five thousand Hine photographs, including examples of his child labor and Red Cross photographs, his work portraits, and his WPA and TVA images. Other large institutional collections include nearly ten thousand of Hine’s photographs and negatives held at the George Eastman House and almost five thousand NCLC photographs at the Albin O. Kuhn Library & Gallery of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

In 1936, Hine was selected as the photographer for the National Research Project of the Works Projects Administration, but his work there was never completed.

The last years of his life were filled with professional struggles due to loss of government and corporate patronage. Few people were interested in his work, past or present, and Hine lost his house and applied for welfare. He died at age 66 on November 3, 1940 at Dobbs Ferry Hospital in Dobbs Ferry, New York, after an operation.

After Lewis Hine’s death his son Corydon donated his prints and negatives to the Photo League, which was dismantled in 1951. The Museum of Modern Art was offered his pictures but did not accept them; but the George Eastman House in Rochester, New York did.

Happy Birthday Mark Rothko

Today is Mark Rothko’s 111th birthday.

 

 

NAME: Mark Rothko
BIRTH DATE: September 25, 1903
DEATH DATE: February 25, 1970
EDUCATION: Yale University
PLACE OF BIRTH: Dvinsk, Russia
PLACE OF DEATH: New York, New York
Originally: Marcus Rothkovitch

BEST KNOWN FOR:  Russian-born painter Mark Rothko was a pioneer of the Abstract Expressionist movement during the mid-20th century.

Born in Russia, painter Mark Rothko emigrated to the United States in the early 20th century and became a pioneer of Abstract Expressionism. His best-known works, a number of which are on very large canvases, involve the juxtaposition of large areas of melting colors.

ARTIST BIOGRAPHY

Mark Rothko’s search to express profound emotion through painting culminated in his now-signature compositions of richly colored squares filling large canvases, evoking what he referred to as “the sublime.” One of the pioneers of Color Field Painting, Rothko’s abstract arrangements of shapes, ranging from the slightly surreal biomorphic ones in his early works to the dark squares and rectangles in later years, are intended to evoke the metaphysical through viewers’ communion with the canvas in a controlled setting. “I’m not an abstractionist,” he once said. “I’m interested only in expressing basic human emotions: tragedy, ecstasy, doom, and so on.” His “Rothko Chapel Paintings” (1964-1967), 14 wall-sized monochromatic black paintings installed in a non-denominational church in Houston, Texas, represent the realization of Rothko’s desire that his work be viewed in close quarters.

Happy Birthday F. Scott Fitzgerald

Today is the 118th birthday of Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald.

NAME: F. Scott Fitzgerald
OCCUPATION: Author
BIRTH DATE: September 24, 1896
DEATH DATE: December 21, 1940
EDUCATION: Princeton University, St. Paul Academy, Newman School
PLACE OF BIRTH: St. Paul, Minnesota
PLACE OF DEATH: Hollywood, California

BEST KNOWN FOR: American short-story writer and novelist F. Scott Fitzgerald is known for his turbulent personal life and his famous novel The Great Gatsby.

F. Scott Fitzgerald was born Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald on September 24, 1896, in St. Paul, Minnesota. His namesake (and second cousin three times removed on his father’s side) was Francis Scott Key, who wrote the lyrics to the “Star-Spangled Banner.” Fitzgerald’s mother, Mary McQuillan, was from an Irish-Catholic family that had made a small fortune in Minnesota as wholesale grocers. His father, Edward Fitzgerald, had opened a wicker furniture business in St. Paul, and, when it failed, he took a job as a salesman for Procter & Gamble that took his family back and forth between Buffalo and Syracuse in upstate New York during the first decade of Fitzgerald’s life. However, Edward Fitzgerald lost his job with Procter & Gamble in 1908, when F. Scott Fitzgerald was 12, and the family moved back to St. Paul to live off of his mother’s inheritance.

“I want to give a really BAD party. I mean it. I want to give a party where there’s a brawl and seductions and people going home with their feelings hurt and women passed out in the cabinet de toilette. You wait and see.” – Tender is the Night

Fitzgerald was a bright, handsome and ambitious boy, the pride and joy of his parents and especially his mother. He attended the St. Paul Academy, and when he was 13, he saw his first piece of writing appear in print: a detective story published in the school newspaper. In 1911, when Fitzgerald was 15 years old, his parents sent him to the Newman School, a prestigious Catholic preparatory school in New Jersey. There, he met Father Sigourney Fay, who noticed his incipient talent with the written word and encouraged him to pursue his literary ambitions.

”Youth is like having a big plate of candy. Sentimentalists think they want to be in the pure, simple state they were in before they ate the candy. They don’t. They just want the fun of eating it all over again.” – This Side of Paradise

After graduating from the Newman School in 1913, Fitzgerald decided to stay in New Jersey to continue his artistic development at Princeton University. At Princeton, he firmly dedicated himself to honing his craft as a writer, writing scripts for Princeton’s famous Triangle Club musicals as well as frequent articles for the Princeton Tiger humor magazine and stories for the Nassau Literary Magazine. However, Fitzgerald’s writing came at the expense of his coursework. He was placed on academic probation, and, in 1917, he dropped out of school to join the U.S. Army. Afraid that he might die in World War I with his literary dreams unfulfilled, in the weeks before reporting to duty, Fitzgerald hastily wrote a novel called The Romantic Egotist. Though the publisher, Charles Scribner’s Sons, rejected the novel, the reviewer noted its originality and encouraged Fitzgerald to submit more work in the future.

Fitzgerald was commissioned a second lieutenant in the infantry and assigned to Camp Sheridan outside of Montgomery, Alabama. It was there that he met and fell in love with a beautiful 18-year-old girl named Zelda Sayre, the daughter of an Alabama Supreme Court judge. The war ended in November 1918, before Fitzgerald was ever deployed, and upon his discharge he moved to New York City hoping to launch a career in advertising lucrative enough to convince Zelda to marry him. He quit his job after only a few months, however, and returned to St. Paul to rewrite his novel.

The novel’s new incarnation, This Side of Paradise, a largely autobiographical story about love and greed, was centered on Amory Blaine, an ambitious Midwesterner who falls in love with, but is ultimately rejected by, two girls from high-class families. The novel was published in 1920 to glowing reviews and, almost overnight, turned Fitzgerald, at the age of 24, into one of the country’s most promising young writers. One week after the novel’s publication, he married Zelda Sayre in New York. They had one child, a daughter named Frances Scott Fitzgerald, born in 1921.

F. Scott Fitzgerald eagerly embraced his newly minted celebrity status and embarked on an extravagant lifestyle that earned him a reputation as a playboy and hindered his reputation as a serious literary writer. Beginning in 1920 and continuing throughout the rest of his career, Fitzgerald supported himself financially by writing great numbers of short stories for popular publications such as The Saturday Evening Post and Esquire. Some of his most notable stories include “The Diamond as Big as the Ritz,” “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” “The Camel’s Back” and “The Last of the Belles.”

In 1922, Fitzgerald published his second novel, The Beautiful and the Damned, the story of the troubled marriage of Anthony and Gloria Patch. The Beautiful and the Damned helped to cement his status as one of the great chroniclers and satirists of the culture of wealth, extravagance and ambition that emerged during the affluent 1920s—what became known as the Jazz Age. “It was an age of miracles,” Fitzgerald wrote, “it was an age of art, it was an age of excess, and it was an age of satire.”

Seeking a change of scenery to spark his creativity, in 1924, Fitzgerald moved to France, and it was there, in Valescure, that Fitzgerald wrote what would be credited as his greatest novel, The Great Gatsby. Published in 1925, The Great Gatsby is narrated by Nick Carraway, a Midwesterner who moves into the town of West Egg on Long Island, next door to a mansion owned by the wealthy and mysterious Jay Gatsby. The novel follows Nick and Gatsby’s strange friendship and Gatsby’s pursuit of a married woman named Daisy, ultimately leading to his exposure as a bootlegger and his death.

With its beautiful lyricism, pitch-perfect portrayal of the Jazz Age, and searching critiques of materialism, love and the American Dream, The Great Gatsby is considered Fitzgerald’s finest work. Although the book was well-received when it was published, it was not until the 1950s and ’60s, long after Fitzgerald’s death, that it achieved its stature as the definitive portrait of the “Roaring Twenties,” as well as one of the greatest American novels ever written.

After he completed The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald’s life began to unravel. Always a heavy drinker, he progressed steadily into alcoholism and suffered prolonged bouts of writer’s block. His wife, Zelda, also suffered from mental health issues, and the couple spent the late 1920s moving back and forth between Delaware and France. In 1930, she was briefly committed to a mental-health clinic in Switzerland, and, after the Fitzgeralds returned to the United States in 1931, she suffered another breakdown and subsequently entered the Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland.

”I like large parties. They’re so intimate. At small parties there isn’t any privacy.” – The Great Gatsby

In 1934, after years of toil, Fitzgerald finally published his fourth novel, Tender is the Night, about an American psychiatrist in Paris, France, and his troubled marriage to a wealthy patient. Although Tender is the Night was a commercial failure and was initially poorly received due to its chronologically jumbled structure, it has since gained in reputation and is now considered among the great American novels.

After another two years lost to alcohol and depression, in 1937 Fitzgerald attempted to revive his career as a screenwriter and freelance storywriter in Hollywood, and he achieved modest financial, if not critical, success for his efforts. He began work on another novel, The Love of the Last Tycoon, in 1939, and he had completed over half the manuscript when he died of a heart attack on December 21, 1940, at the age of 44, in Hollywood, California.

F. Scott Fitzgerald died believing himself a failure. None of his works received anything more than modest commercial or critical success during his lifetime. However, since his death, Fitzgerald has gained a reputation as one of the pre-eminent authors in the history of American literature due almost entirely to the enormous posthumous success of The Great Gatsby. Perhaps the quintessential American novel, as well as a definitive social history of the Jazz Age, The Great Gatsby went on to become required reading for virtually every American high school student, and has had a transportive effect on generation after generation of readers.

”Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter — tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther…. And one fine morning — So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.” – The Great Gatsby

scott and zelda

Author of books:
This Side of Paradise (1920, novel)
Flappers and Philosophers (1920, short stories)
The Beautiful and Damned (1922, novel)
Tales of the Jazz Age (1922, short stories)
The Great Gatsby (1925, novel)
All the Sad Young Men (1926, short stories)
Tender Is the Night (1934, novel)
Taps at Reveille (1935, short stories)
The Last Tycoon (1941, novel)
The Crack-Up (1945, collection)

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Happy Birthday Paul Muni

Today is the 119th birthday of Paul Muni.  He has probably one of the best ‘before’ names in Hollywood History.

NAME: Paul Muni
OCCUPATION: Film Actor, Television Actor
BIRTH DATE: September 22, 1895
DEATH DATE: August 25, 1967
PLACE OF BIRTH: Lviv, Poland
PLACE OF DEATH: Montecito, California
ORIGINALLY: Meshilem Meier Weisenfreund

BEST KNOWN FOR: American actor Paul Muni is best known for his film and stage portrayals of noted historical figures. He was nominated five times for the Academy Awards.

Paul Muni was born on September 22nd, 1895 in Lenberg, Galicia in Austria-Hungary with the birth name Meshilem Meier Weisenfreund to parents Salli and Phillip Weisenfreund, both of whom were actors.

His family moved to the United States in 1902, where he attended school in the public school system in Cleveland and in New York. At the young age of twelve he worked on a stage production of, Seven Faces where he portrayed an eighty year old man and played seven different characters.

When he completed high school he joined the Yiddish Art Theatre in New York and studied there for four years. He then went on to work on Yiddish stage plays making his stage debut in 1907. It was not until 1926 that he transferred over to doing American stage plays having his first English language role. In 1928, he was discovered by Fox.

His first screen role in English was on the film, The Valiant (1929) also with Marguerite Churchill and Johnny Mack Brown, in which he was one of only six actors total to receive an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor for his first screen appearance. However, this film along with his next were both unsuccessful box office films and therefore, Muni returned back to Broadway to work on stage on the play, Counselor at Law.

In 1932, Muni decided to give films another chance and went back to Hollywood working on two films, Scarface also starring George Raft, Ann Dvorak, Tully Marshall and Boris Karloff and I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang (both 1932) starring with Glenda Farrell, Preston Foster and Sally Blane in which for the latter role he received his second Academy Award nomination for Best Actor.

He was soon signed to a long contract with Warner Brothers studios who were so highly impressed with his talents. He became one of their most prestigious actors. They actually allowed him to choose which parts he wanted in various films.

Muni had such an influential impact on Warner Brothers that in 1935, they agreed to produce a historical biography called, The Story of Louis Pasteur (1936) also starring Anita Louise, Akim Tamiroff, Dickie Moore, Donald Woods and Josephine Hutchinson, which was his idea, a huge success and earned Mini an Oscar for his performance.

During the late 30’s and early 40’s, Muni took on a couple more roles in films such as, The Good Earth (1937) also starring Academy Award winner for Best Actress Luise Rainer, A Song to Remember (1945) also starring Cornel Wilde, Merle Oberon and Nina Foch and Angel on My Shoulder (1946) co-starring Anne Baxter and Claude Rains. He was really beginning to fade himself out of the film industry as he was quite dissatisfied with Hollywood.

He focused the remainder of his career working back as a stage actor and won a Tony Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Play for his role in Inherit the Wind (1956).

Muni retired from acting not by choice, but more due to failing health reasons after his final appearance in, The Last Angry Man (1959) starring alongside David Wayne, Betsy Palmer, Billy Dee Williams and Godfrey Cambridge in which he received an Oscar nomination for. He suffered throughout his entire life from a rheumatic heart.

Muni was married only once to Bella Muni on May 8th, 1921 and they remained together until he passed away on August 25th, 1967 in Montecito, California from heart problems at the age of seventy one. He is interred at Hollywood Memorial Cemetery in Hollywood, California and was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for his contribution to the Motion Picture Industry.

FILMOGRAPHY AS ACTOR
The Last Angry Man (22-Oct-1959) · Dr. Sam Abelman
Stranger on the Prowl (12-Mar-1952)
Angel on My Shoulder (20-Sep-1946) · Eddie Kagle
Counter-Attack (26-Apr-1945)
A Song to Remember (18-Jan-1945) · Prof. Joseph Elsner
Stage Door Canteen (24-Jun-1943) · Himself
Commandos Strike at Dawn (30-Dec-1942) · Eric Toresen
Hudson’s Bay (9-Jan-1941) · Pierre Esprit Radisson
We Are Not Alone (25-Nov-1939)
Juarez (24-Apr-1939) · Benito Juarez
The Life of Emile Zola (11-Aug-1937) · Émile Zola
The Woman I Love (15-Apr-1937)
The Good Earth (29-Jan-1937) · Wang
The Story of Louis Pasteur (23-Nov-1935) · Louis Pasteur
Dr. Socrates (19-Oct-1935)
Black Fury (18-May-1935) · Joe Radek
Bordertown (23-Jan-1935)
Hi, Nellie! (20-Jan-1934)
The World Changes (25-Nov-1933)
I Am a Fugitive From a Chain Gang (19-Nov-1932) · James Allen
Scarface (31-Mar-1932) · Tony
The Valiant (12-May-1929) · James Dyke

Happy Birthday Anne Bancroft

Today is the  83rd birthday of Anne Bancroft.  Her list of performances is impressively long and impressively impressive.  Her performance in Great Expectations stole the movie.  I watched it in the movie theater in Seattle and again in London.  She was brilliant.

NAME: Anne Bancroft
OCCUPATION: Film Actress, Theater Actress, Television Actress
BIRTH DATE: September 17, 1931
DEATH DATE: June 6, 2005
EDUCATION: American Academy of Dramatic Arts, Actors Studio, Christopher Columbus High School, Bronx, University of California, Los Angeles
PLACE OF BIRTH: The Bronx, New York
PLACE OF DEATH: New York, New York
ORIGINALLY: Anna Maria Louisa Italiano

BEST KNOWN FOR: Anne Bancroft was an Oscar Tony and Emmy Award-winning actress famous for her roles in The Miracle Worker and The Graduate. She was married to comedian and film director Mel Brooks.

Actress Anne Bancroft was born Anna Maria Louisa Italiano was born on September 17, 1931, in the Bronx , New York. An award-winning actress for her work on film, stage and television, Bancroft is best remembered for her role as the dedicated teacher in The Miracle Worker (1962) and as the mature seductress in The Graduate (1967). She grew up in the Bronx and studied acting at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in 1948.

Initially, Bancroft found work on television in the early 1950s. She appeared on such shows as Studio One and used the stage name Anne Marno. In 1952, she got a film contract with 20th Century Fox and the head of the studio, Darryl F. Zanuck, renamed Anne Bancroft. She made her film debut opposite Marilyn Monroe in 1952’s Don’t Bother to Knock. Over the next few years, Bancroft appeared in several other, largely forgettable films, which failed to advance her career.

Returning to New York in the late 1950s, Bancroft found success on the Broadway stage. She co-starred with Henry Fonda in William Gibson’s Two for the Seesaw, which was directed by Arthur Penn. Her portrayal of a bohemian dancer netted her a Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Play in 1958. Again showing her talent for transformation, Bancroft tackled another challenging role in The Miracle Worker the next year. Again working with Penn, she played Annie Sullivan, a teacher of the blind, who tries to help Helen Keller (played by Patty Duke), a young blind and deaf girl, learn to communicate. Bancroft won another Tony Award for her convincing performance as the devoted and determined educator.

Reprising their roles, Bancroft and Duke starred in the 1962 film adaptation of The Miracle Worker. They each won an Academy Award for their performances—Bancroft in the Best Actress category and Duke in Best Supporting Actress category. Bancroft’s next major film role had her as a woman trapped in a loveless marriage in The Pumpkin Eater (1964), which brought her an Academy Award nomination. Around this time, she married the multitalented Mel Brooks, known as a comedic actor, director and writer. The two formed one of Hollywood’s greatest love stories and remained devoted to each other throughout her life. Bancroft had been previously married to Martin May in the 1950s, but their union ended in divorce.

In 1967, Bancroft took on her signature role of Mrs. Robinson in The Graduate. Playing an elegant, but bitter and manipulative wife and mother, her character seduced her daughter’s boyfriend, Benjamin, played by Dustin Hoffman. Ironically, Bancroft was only about six years older than Hoffman when the film was made. She was widely praised for her work on the film and earned an Academy Award nomination for her performance.

Winning her first Emmy Award in 1970, Bancroft starred in Annie, The Women in the Life of a Man (1970), which also featured her husband Mel Brooks. She took some time off from acting after the birth of their son, Max, in 1972. Showing her range as a performer, she returned to the big screen in the Neil Simon comedy, The Prisoner of Second Avenue (1975), with Jack Lemmon, and in the historical drama, The Hindenburg (1975), with George C. Scott. Starring an aging ballerina, Bancroft starred opposite Shirley MacLaine in the drama The Turning Point (1977). That same year, she played the first female prime minister of Israel, Golda Meir, on Broadway in Golda, which reunited her with director Arthur Penn. Bancroft received a Tony Award nomination for her portrait of this famed world leader.

In addition to co-starring on the film, Bancroft directed the 1980 comedy Fatso featuring Dom DeLuise. The rest of the decade was filled with memorable comedic and dramatic performances by Bancroft. In To Be or Not To Be (1983), she and her real-life husband played a husband-wife acting team in this underrated World War II comedy. Taking on much darker material, she played the mother superior in Agnes of God (1985), which led to her final Academy Award nomination. Bancroft went on to play the mother in the suicide drama ‘Night, Mother (1986) with Sissy Spacek.

In the 1990s, Bancroft took on a lot of supporting roles in films and on television. For her television work, she received several Emmy Award nominations for her work and won the award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or Movie for Deep In My Heart in 1999. In the television movie, she played a woman who has a daughter as a result of being raped. On the big screen, Bancroft appeared as Ms. Dinsmoor in the modern adaptation of the Charles Dickens’ classic, Great Expectations (1998), with Ethan Hawke and Gwyneth Paltrow.

Continuing to work, Bancroft appeared on television in Haven (2001). Based on a true story, she played Ruth Gruber, an American woman who helped hundreds of Jewish people escape Nazi Germany. Bancroft received an Emmy Award nomination for her work. Her last completed performance was in the television adaptation of the Tennessee Williams’ play The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone, which earned her a final Emmy Award nomination.

While filming Spanglish with Adam Sandler, Bancroft was forced to drop out of the project because of illness. She died of uterine cancer on June 6, 2005, at Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York. She was survived by her husband, their son, Max, and their grandson.

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 Elsa Schiaparelli

Today is the  124th birthday ofElsa Schiaparelli.

NAME: Elsa Schiaparelli
BIRTH DATE: September 10, 1890
DEATH DATE: November 13, 1973
EDUCATION: University of Rome
PLACE OF BIRTH: Rome, Italy
PLACE OF DEATH: Paris, France

BEST KNOWN FOR: Elsa Schiaparelli was one of the world’s leading fashion designers in the 1920s and ’30s.

A pioneering Parisian fashion designer, Elsa Schiaparelli was born on September 10, 1890, in Rome, Italy. She was the great niece of Giovanni Schiaparelli, who discovered canals on the planet Mars.

Hailing from upscale stock, Schiaparelli, at a young age, seemed to be driven to upset her aristocratic mother and scholarly father. After high school, she enrolled at the University of Rome, where she studied philosophy, and soon published a book of poetry that was deemed so sensual by her parents that they directed her to a convent. To expedite her release from the convent, Schiaparelli went on a hunger strike; once released, she dashed off to London for a job as a nanny.

In London, Schiaparelli met and eventually married her former teacher, Count William de Wendt de Kerlor, who was a theosophist. The couple soon relocated to New York, where they had a daughter, Maria Luisa Yvonne Radha de Wendt de Kerlor.

New York proved to be an enlightening experience for Schiaparelli. There, she began working at a boutique specializing in French fashions, and soon cultivated her own taste in clothes and accessories. After her marriage failed, Schiaparelli returned to Paris, where she continued her work in the fashion industry. She soon began designing clothes of her own, and in 1927, opened her own business.

Commercial Success

Schiaparelli’s debut collection, a series of sweaters featuring Surrealist “trompe l’oeil” images—which would come to serve as her trademark—caught the attention of the fashion world, including French Vogue. She followed her initial success with another well-received collection of bathing suits and ski-wear, as well as the “divided skirt”—an early form of women’s shorts. In 1931, Schiaparelli’s divided skirts were worn by tennis champion Lily d’Alvarez. That same year, “Shiap,” as she was known, expanded her work into evening-wear.

For Schiaparelli, fashion was as much about making art as it was about making clothes. In 1932, Janet Flanner of The New Yorker wrote: “A frock from Schiaparelli ranks like a modern canvas.” Not surprisingly, Schiaparelli connected with popular artists of the era; one of her friends was painter Salvador Dali, whom she hired to design fabric for her fashion house.

As her fame continued to grow, Schiaparelli traveled increasingly in famous circles. She was worshipped by some of the world’s best-dressed women, including Daisy Flowers, Lady Mendl and Millicent Rogers.

Schiaparelli also designed clothes for film and the theater. Her work appeared in more than 30 movies over the course of her career, most notably in Every Day’s a Holiday, starring Mae West, Moulin Rouge and Zsa Zsa Gabor.

Final Years

Schiaparelli discontinued her couture business in 1951 and closed her design house three years later, but continued to work in fashion, designing accessories and, later, wigs. In 1954, she released an autobiography, Shocking Life.

Schiaparelli died on November 13, 1973, in Paris, France. In the decades since her death, Schiaparelli has continued to be regarded as a giant in the fashion world. In 2012, New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art featured her work, along with that of Italian designer Miuccia Prada, in a major exhibition.