Happy Birthday Roy Lichtenstein


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy Birthday Gummo Marx

gummo marx

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy Birthday Montgomery Clift

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy Birthday Rita Hayworth

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy Birthday Jean Arthur

Today is the 114th birthday of Jean Arthur.

NAME: Jean Arthur
OCCUPATION: Academic, Film Actress
BIRTH DATE: October 17, 1900
DEATH DATE: June 19, 1991
PLACE OF BIRTH: Plattsburgh, New York
PLACE OF DEATH: Carmel, California
FULL NAME: Gladys Georgianna Greene

BEST KNOWN FOR: Jean Arthur was an American actress best known for her roles in films such as Mr. Smith Goes To Washington and The More The Merrier.

American actress Jean Arthur was born on October 17, 1900 in Plattsburgh, New York. She started as a model before working in film. Born Gladys Georgianna Greene, she formed her stage name from her two heroes: Joan of Arc (Jeanne d’Arc) and King Arthur. She appeared in small roles in silent films, and broke through when film began to incorporate sound. Her husky trademark voice in The Whole Town’s Talking (1935) won her fans and admirers. Arthur appeared in notable films such as You Can’t Take It With You (1938), Mr. Smith Goes To Washington (1939) and The More The Merrier (1943) which earned her an Oscar nomination. In later years, Arthur starred in her own television series and taught drama at Vassar College. She died June 19, 1991 in Carmel, California.

FILMOGRAPHY AS ACTOR
Shane (24-Apr-1953) · Marian Starrett
A Foreign Affair (7-Jul-1948) · Phoebe Frost
The Impatient Years (7-Sep-1944)
A Lady Takes a Chance (19-Aug-1943)
The More the Merrier (26-Mar-1943) · Connie Milligan
The Talk of the Town (20-Aug-1942) · Nora Shelley
The Devil and Miss Jones (15-May-1941) · Mary
Arizona (25-Dec-1940) · Phoebe Titus
Too Many Husbands (7-Mar-1940) · Vicky Lowndes
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (17-Oct-1939) · Saunders
Only Angels Have Wings (12-May-1939) · Bonnie Lee
You Can’t Take It with You (23-Aug-1938) · Alice Sycamore
Easy Living (7-Jul-1937)
History Is Made at Night (5-Mar-1937) · Irene Vail
The Plainsman (1-Jan-1937) · Calamity Jane
More Than a Secretary (10-Dec-1936)
Adventure in Manhattan (8-Oct-1936) · Claire Peyton
The Ex-Mrs. Bradford (13-May-1936) · Paula Bradford
Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (12-Apr-1936) · Babe Bennett
If You Could Only Cook (25-Dec-1935) · Joan Hawthorne
Public Menace (24-Sep-1935) · Cassie
Diamond Jim (2-Sep-1935)
Public Hero #1 (16-May-1935) · Maria Theresa O’Reilly
Party Wire (27-Apr-1935)
The Whole Town’s Talking (22-Feb-1935) · Miss Clark
The Most Precious Thing in Life (5-Jun-1934)
Whirlpool (10-Apr-1934) · Sandy
The Silver Horde (25-Oct-1930) · Mildred Wayland
Danger Lights (21-Aug-1930)
The Return of Dr. Fu Manchu (2-May-1930)
Paramount on Parade (22-Apr-1930)
The Saturday Night Kid (25-Oct-1929) · Janie
The Greene Murder Case (11-Aug-1929)
The Mysterious Dr. Fu Manchu (10-Aug-1929)
The Canary Murder Case (16-Feb-1929)

Happy Birthday Ed Wood

Today is the 90th birthday of Ed Wood. The phrase ‘before their time’ was coined for people like him. He is often referenced by widely popular and hugely successful current film directors as one of their major influences. Do yourself a favor and watch one of his films, you may see the films of John Waters and Quentin Tarantino in a different light.   Calling an Ed Wood script illogical is like saying dreams make no sense:  images and word went straight from his mind to the page.  His stream of consciousness dialog was like a ransom note pasted together from word randomly cut out of a Korean electronics manual.

NAME: Ed Wood
OCCUPATION: Director
BIRTH DATE: October 10, 1924
DEATH DATE: December 10, 1978
PLACE OF BIRTH: Poughkeepsie, New York
PLACE OF DEATH: Hollywood, California
FULL NAME: Edward Davis Wood
BEST KNOWN FOR: Filmmaker and novelist Ed Wood is famous for his low-budget films of the 1950s like Plan 9 From Outer Space, which are celebrated today as sheer camp.

Movie Director, screenwriter, actor, and producer. Edward Davis Wood, Jr. was born on October 10, 1924 in Poughkeepsie, New York to Edward Sr., a postal worker and Lillian. It is said that Lillian always wanted a girl and until Ed, Jr., was 12-years-old she dressed him in girls’ clothing. Young Ed loved movies and eventually found a job as a cinema usher. He also learned several musical instruments and formed a singing quartet called Eddie Wood‘s Little Splinters. Ed Wood received his first movie camera on his 17th birthday and his first “film” records the crash of an airplane. When he was 17, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor and Wood enlisted in the Marines.

Upon his discharge from the Marines, Ed Wood pursued his love of the bizarre by joining the freak show of a carnival. At times, he played the part of the bearded lady and created his own prosthetic breasts. During the 1950s, he wrote, produced, and acted in a number of very low-budget science fiction, horror, and cowboy films. These films are celebrated today for their many obvious errors, cheap special effects, strange dialogue, miscasting, and crazy plots. Wood often struggled to make ends meet and was sometimes forced to churn out film scripts in one night to keep to schedules.

When his movie career began to wane, mostly from lack of funding, Ed Wood turned his prolific creative nature to the printed page, turning out sex novels, pulp fiction, and horror stories. The lack of money took its toll and Wood struggled with health issues, including an alcohol addiction. Eventually kicked out of their apartment, Wood and his wife, Kathleen O’Hara, moved in with a friend in North Hollywood. It was there that Wood died of a heart attack on December 10, 1978 at the age of 54.

Wood’s legacy and cult following lives on with, for example, the University of Southern California holding an annual “Ed Wood Film Festival” for which students are charged with writing, filming, and editing an Ed Wood-esque short film based on a predetermined theme. His movies has been spoofed on Mystery Theater 3000 and many have been remade as pornographic movies. Additionally, many of his bizarre transvestite-themed sex novels have been republished.

FILMOGRAPHY AS DIRECTOR
The Sinister Urge (8-Dec-1960)
Night of the Ghouls (1959)
Plan 9 from Outer Space (1959)
Bride of the Monster (11-May-1955)
Jail Bait (1954)
Glen or Glenda (1953)

FILMOGRAPHY AS ACTOR
Fugitive Girls (13-Jul-1974)
Glen or Glenda (1953) · Glen

Happy Birthday Gore Vidal

Today is the 89th birthday of Gore Vidal, the man that quipped:

“Fifty percent of people won’t vote, and fifty percent don’t read newspapers. I hope it’s the same fifty percent.”

NAME: Eugene Luther Gore Vidal
OCCUPATION: Critic, Author, Playwright
BIRTH DATE: October 03, 1925
DEATH DATE: July 31, 2012
EDUCATION: St. Albans School, Los Alamos Ranch School
PLACE OF BIRTH: West Point, New York
PLACE OF DEATH: Hollywood Hills, California

Best Known For: Gore Vidal is best known as a prolific American writer, but is also famous for frequent talk-show appearances and witty political criticisms.

Today is the birthday of Gore Vidal, born Eugene Luther Gore Vidal Jr. at the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York, where his father was an instructor (1925).

“A good deed never goes unpunished.”

He’s well known for his works of historical fiction — such as Julian (1964), Burr (1973), and Lincoln (1984). And his 1968 novel Myra Breckenridge, a satire about a transsexual, was an international best-seller. The New York Times called it “witty”; the reviewer also called it “repulsive” and “a funny novel, but it requires an iron stomach.” Vidal carried a grudge against the Times for the rest of his life.

“A narcissist is someone better looking than you are.”

In the mid-1950s he branched out even further, writing a series of potboiler mysteries under the pen name “Edgar Box.” He also produced 20 dramas and literary adaptations for television. He adapted one of his original teleplays, Visit to a Small Planet (1955), for the stage, and it became a hit on Broadway; he also wrote several original and adapted screenplays in Hollywood. Near the end of his life, he announced that he’d given up the long-form novel, preferring to focus on nonfiction. He wrote two memoirs (Palimpsest in 1995 and Point to Point Navigation in 2006), and several book-length essays on American history and politics.

Vidal died of pneumonia two months ago, at the age of 86. His old sparring partner The New York Times published a long obituary in his honor, but it contained three errors that required correction.

And this is why you should like him: