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.

Happy Birthday Jacob Lawrence

lawrence1

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

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

lawrence2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy Birthday Iris Apfel

Tomorrow is the 93rd birthday of Iris Apfel.  This woman is FASHION!  I absolutely adore what she has done with her life:  making it a performance of color and texture.  We should all take a page from her book and show up for life a little brighter.  Pick out the perfect costume for the day.  Don’t get stuck in a rut (remember:  the only difference between a rut and a grave is the depth.)Iris Apfel (born Astoria, Queens, New York, 29 August 1921) is an American businesswoman, former interior designer, and fashion icon.

Born Iris Barrel, she was the only child of Samuel Barrel (born 1897), whose family owned a glass and mirror business, and his Russian-born wife, Sadye (aka Syd), who owned a fashion boutique.

She studied art history at New York University and attended art school at the University of Wisconsin. As a young woman Barrel worked for Women’s Wear Daily and for interior designer Elinor Johnson. She also was an assistant to illustrator Robert Goodman.
iris-apfel-fashion-icon-1

In 1948 she married Carl Apfel. Two years later they launched the textile firm Old World Weavers and ran it until they retired in 1992. During this time, Iris Apfel took part in many design restoration projects, including work at the White House for nine presidents: Truman, Eisenhower, Nixon, Kennedy, Johnson, Carter, Reagan, and Clinton.

Iris Apfel still consults, and also lectures about style and other fashion topics.

Iris Apfel

In 2005, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City premiered an exhibition about the fashionable style of Iris Apfel entitled Rara Avis (Rare Bird): The Irreverent Iris Apfel. The success of the exhibit was so profound that it planted the seed for traveling versions of the exhibit displayed at the Norton Museum of Art in West Palm Beach; the Nassau County Museum in Nassau County, New York; and the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Mass. The Museum of Lifestyle & Fashion History in Boynton Beach is in the conceptual phase of a 93,000 square feet (8,600 m2) new building that will include a dedicated gallery for the clothes, accessories and furnishings of Iris Apfel.

Carl and Iris Apfel have supported many charities including a $1.2 million donation to the University of Miami’s Bascom Palmer Eye Institute.

Happy Birthday Man Ray

Today is the 124th birthday of the photographer Man Ray.

NAME: Man Ray
OCCUPATION: Painter, Photographer, Filmmaker
BIRTH DATE: August 27, 1890
DEATH DATE: November 18, 1976
PLACE OF BIRTH: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
PLACE OF DEATH: Paris, France
FULL NAME: Man Ray
ORIGINALLY: Emmanuel Radnitzky

BEST KNOWN FOR: Man Ray was primarily known for his photography, which spanned both the Dada and Surrealism movements.

Born Emmanuel Rudnitzky, visionary artist Man Ray was the son of Jewish immigrants from Russia. His father worked as a tailor. The family moved to Brooklyn when Ray was a young child. From an early year, Ray showed great artistic ability. After finishing high school in 1908, he followed his passion for art; he studied drawing with Robert Henri at the Ferrer Center, and frequented Alfred Stieglitz‘s gallery 291. It later became apparent that Ray had been influenced by Stieglitz’s photographs. He utilized a similar style, snapping images that provided an unvarnished look at the subject.

Ray also found inspiration at the Armory Show of 1913, which featured the works of Pablo Picasso, Wassily Kandinsky and Marcel Duchamp. That same year, he moved to a burgeoning art colony in Ridgefield, New Jersey. His work was also evolving. After experimenting with a Cubist style of painting, he moved toward abstraction.

In 1914, Ray married Belgian poet Adon Lacroix, but their union fell apart after a few years. He made a more lasting friendship around this time, becoming close to fellow artist Marcel Duchamp.

Along with Duchamp and Francis Picabia, Ray became a leading figure in the Dada movement in New York. Dadaism, which takes its name from the French nickname for a rocking horse, challenged existing notions of art and literature, and encouraged spontaneity. One of Ray’s famous works from this time was “The Gift,” a sculpture that incorporated two found objects. He glued tacks to the work surface of an iron to create the piece.

In 1921, Ray moved to Paris. There, he continued to be a part of the artistic avant garde, rubbing elbows with such famous figures as Gertrude Stein and Ernest Hemingway. Ray became famous for his portraits of his artistic and literary associates. He also developed a thriving career as a fashion photographer, taking pictures for such magazines as Vogue. These commercial endeavors supported his fine art efforts. A photographic innovator, Ray discovered a new way to create interesting images by accident in his darkroom. Called “Rayographs,” these photos were made by placing and manipulating objects on pieces of photosensitive paper.

One of Ray’s other famous works from this time period was 1924’s “Violin d’Ingres.” This modified photograph features the bare back of his lover, a performer named Kiki, styled after a painting by neoclassical French artist Jean August Dominique Ingres. In a humorous twist, Ray added to two black shapes to make her back look like a musical instrument. He also explored the artistic possibilities of film, creating such now classic Surrealistic works as L’Etoile de Mer (1928). Around this time, Ray also experimented with a technique called the Sabatier effect, or solarization, which adds a silvery, ghostly quality to the image.

Ray soon found another muse, Lee Miller, and featured her in his work. A cut-out of her eye is featured on the 1932 found-object sculpture “Object to Be Destroyed,” and her lips fill the sky of “Observatory Time” (1936). In 1940, Ray fled the war in Europe and moved to California. He married model and dancer Juliet Browner the following year, in a unique double ceremony with artist Max Ernst and Dorothea Tanning.

Returning to Paris in 1951, Ray continued to explore different artistic media. He focused much of his energy on painting and sculpture. Branching out in a new direction, Ray began writing his memoir. The project took more than a decade to complete, and his autobiography, Self Portrait, was finally published in 1965.

In his final years, Man Ray continued to exhibit his art, with shows in New York, London, Paris and other cities in the years before his death. He passed away on November 18, 1976, in his beloved Paris. He was 86 years old. His innovative works can be found on display in museums around the world, and he is remembered for his artistic wit and originality. As friend Marcel Duchamp once said, “It was his achievement to treat the camera as he treated the paint brush, as a mere instrument at the service of the mind.”

Happy Birthday Dorothy Parker

Today is the 121st birthday of Dorothy Parker.  Her poem “Telephone” is something everyone has felt, if they want to admit it or not. She had the wit of three people and the alcohol tolerance to match.

dorothy parker

NAME: Dorothy Parker
OCCUPATION: Civil Rights Activist, Journalist, Poet
BIRTH DATE: August 22, 1893
DEATH DATE: June 07, 1967
PLACE OF BIRTH: West End, New Jersey
PLACE OF DEATH: New York, New York

BEST KNOWN FOR: Dorothy Parker was the sharpest wit of the Algonquin Round Table, as well as a master of short fiction and a blacklisted screenwriter.

Resumé
Razors pain you; Rivers are damp;
Acids stain you; And drugs cause cramp.
Guns aren’t lawful; Nooses give;
Gas smells awful; You might as well live.

Journalist, writer, and poet. Born Dorothy Rothschild on August 22, 1893, in West End, New Jersey. Dorothy Parker was a legendary literary figure, known for her biting wit. She worked on such magazines as Vogue andVanity Fair during the late 1910s. Parker went on to work as a book reviewer for The New Yorker in the 1920s. A selection of her reviews for this magazine was published in 1970 as Constant Reader, the title of her column. She remained a contributor to The New Yorker for many years; the magazine also published a number of her short stories. One of her most popular stories, “Big Blonde,” won the O. Henry Award in 1929.In addition to her writing, Dorothy Parker was a noted member of the New York literary scene in 1920s. She formed a group called the Algonquin Round Table with writer Robert Benchley and playwright Robert Sherwood. This artistic crowd also included such members as The New Yorker founder Harold Ross, comedian Harpo Marx, and playwright Edna Ferber among others. The group took its name from its hangout—the Algonquin Hotel, but also also known as the Vicious Circle for the number of cutting remarks made by its members and their habit of engaging in sharp-tongued banter.

During the 1930s and 1940s, Dorothy Parker spent much of her time in Hollywood, California. She wrote screenplays with her second husband Alan Campbell, including the 1937 adaptation of A Star Is Born and the 1942 Alfred Hitchcock film Saboteur. In her personal life, she had become politically active, supporting such causes as the fight for civil rights. She also was involved with the Communist Party in the 1930s. It was this association that led to her being blacklisted in Hollywood.

While her opportunities in Hollywood may have dried up, Dorothy Parker was still a well-regarded writer and poet. She even went on to write a play entitled Ladies of the Corridor in 1953. Parker returned to New York City in 1963, spending her last few years in fragile condition. She died on June 7, 1967.

The Flaw in Paganism

Drink and dance and laugh and lie,
Love, the reeling midnight through,
For tomorrow we shall die!
(But, alas, we never do.)