Happy Birthday George C. Scott

Today is the 87th birthday of the actor George C. Scott. I remember seeing The Changeling (entire movie below) on TV when I was a kid and being so scared, but not being able to stop watching because it was filmed in Seattle. His film There Might Be Giants is honestly funny and quirky and about half the time, you feel like you are either not in on the joke or it just wasn’t a joke, but you aren’t sure, but you wish you were in on the joke it it was in fact a joke. I am sure that is why it is loved and hated, but rarely anything in-between.

NAME: George C. Scott
OCCUPATION: Film Actor
BIRTH DATE: October 18, 1927
DEATH DATE: September 22, 1999
EDUCATION: University of Missouri
PLACE OF BIRTH: Wise, Virginia
PLACE OF DEATH: Westlake Village, California

BEST KNOWN FOR: American actor George C. Scott starred in films and on Broadway during his 40-year career. In 1970, he won an Oscar for his portrayal of George S. Patton.

George C. Scott was born on October 18, 1927, in a small Virginia town in the Appalachian Mountains. At the age of 2, Scott’s family moved to Detroit, Michigan, where his father took a job at an automobile plant. His mother, a poet, died when he was 8.

In 1945, Scott joined the Marines and was posted to Arlington National Cemetery. His subsequent four-year tour was marked with heavy drinking and a raft of nose-breaking barroom brawls. After being discharged from the military, he studied journalism under the G.I. Bill at the University of Missouri. While there, Scott auditioned for a role in a campus production of Terence Rattigan’s play The Winslow Boy. He won the role, marking the beginning of his career in acting.

Acting jobs did not come easy at first. In fact, it would be years before Scott landed his first big role: as the lead in the New York Shakespeare Festival’s production of Richard III. His intense stage presence won acclaim by critics and would garner him a lifetime of notable roles on the stage, on television and in film.

In 1959, Scott starred opposite James Stewart in Anatomy of a Murder, and was awarded an Oscar nomination for best supporting actor. Despite all of his praise, however, he would gain even more attention for his over-the-top portrayal of General “Buck” Turgidson in Stanley Kubrick’s 1964 film Dr. Strangelove.

Scott once again turned to his military roots in order to play his most iconic role: General George Patton in the 1970 film Patton. His ability to dominate the screen once again won rave reviews from critics, as well as an Academy Award for his performance. The actor, however, defiantly refused to accepted the honor. Months earlier, Scott had sent a telegram to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences rejecting his nomination as best actor, citing his disapproval of the voting process and his disdain for competition among actors. His win at the award ceremony came as a shock to the audience, and led award presenter Goldie Hawn to famously announce, “Oh my God. It’s George C. Scott!”

Less controversial was Scott’s 1984 performance in the CBS television production of A Christmas Carol. As Ebenezer Scrooge, Scott played the role with a visceral intensity that evoked associations with Reagan and Thatcher. He even played the Dickensian role of the cliché penny-pincher with an American accent.

Throughout the 1980s and ’90s, Scott continued to appear in film, on television and on stage. In 1981, he starred with Tom Cruise, Timothy Hutton and Sean Penn in the drama Taps. He also appeared in television remakes of the films 12 Angry Men (1997) and Inherit the Wind (1999).

In the mid-1990s, however, the actor’s health began to fade. In April 1996, he walked off the stage in the middle of a Broadway performance of Inherit the Wind. One month later, news reports revealed that Scott had been suffering from an aortic aneurysm. Three years later, on September 22, 1999, the actor died in Westlake Village, California, when the aneurysm ruptured. He was reportedly working on his memoirs at the time.

George C. Scott left behind his wife, actress Trish Van Devere, whom he starred alongside in the 1980 film The Changeling, as well as five children. He had daughter Victoria with his first wife, Carolyn Hughes; son Matthew and daughter Devon Scott with his second wife, Patricia Reed; and sons Alexander and Campbell, an actor, from his marriage to Colleen Dewhurst.

TELEVISION
East Side/West Side Neil Brock (1963-64)
Mr. President President Samuel A. Tresch (1987-88)

FILMOGRAPHY AS DIRECTOR
The Savage is Loose (1974)
Rage (22-Nov-1972)
The Andersonville Trial (17-May-1970)

FILMOGRAPHY AS ACTOR
Inherit the Wind (29-May-1999)
Rocky Marciano (15-May-1999)
Gloria (22-Jan-1999) · Ruby
12 Angry Men (17-Aug-1997)
Titanic (17-Nov-1996)
Angus (15-Sep-1995) · Ivan
Tyson (29-Apr-1995)
The Whipping Boy (31-Jul-1994) · Blind George
Malice (29-Sep-1993)
Deadly Currents (27-Jun-1993)
Descending Angel (25-Nov-1990)
The Rescuers Down Under (16-Nov-1990) [VOICE]
The Exorcist III (17-Aug-1990) · Kinderman
The Ryan White Story (16-Jan-1989)
Pals (28-Feb-1987)
The Murders in the Rue Morgue (7-Dec-1986) · Auguste Dupin
The Last Days of Patton (14-Sep-1986)
The Indomitable Teddy Roosevelt (3-Jun-1986) · Narrator [VOICE]
Choices (17-Feb-1986)
A Christmas Carol (Nov-1984) · Ebenezer Scrooge
Firestarter (11-May-1984) · John Rainbird
China Rose (18-Oct-1983)
Oliver Twist (23-Mar-1982)
Taps (11-Dec-1981)
The Formula (19-Dec-1980)
The Changeling (28-Mar-1980)
Hardcore (9-Feb-1979)
Movie Movie (Nov-1978)
Crossed Swords (17-Mar-1978)
Islands in the Stream (8-Aug-1977)
Beauty and the Beast (3-Dec-1976) · The Beast
The Hindenburg (25-Dec-1975) · Ritter
Fear on Trial (2-Oct-1975)
Bank Shot (Jul-1974) · Walter Upjohn Ballantine
The Savage is Loose (1974)
The Day of the Dolphin (19-Dec-1973) · Jake Terrell
Oklahoma Crude (3-Jul-1973)
Rage (22-Nov-1972)
The New Centurions (3-Aug-1972)
The Hospital (14-Dec-1971) · Dr. Bock
The Last Run (7-Jul-1971) · Harry Garmes
They Might Be Giants (9-Jun-1971)
Jane Eyre (24-Mar-1971)
Patton (4-Feb-1970) · Gen. George S. Patton, Jr.
This Savage Land (1-Jul-1969) · Jud Barker
Petulia (10-Jun-1968) · Archie
The Flim-Flam Man (22-Aug-1967)
Not With My Wife, You Don’t! (2-Nov-1966) · Tank Martin
The Bible (28-Sep-1966)
The Yellow Rolls-Royce (31-Dec-1964) · Paolo Maltese
Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (29-Jan-1964) · Gen. Buck Turgidson
The List of Adrian Messenger (29-May-1963)
The Power and the Glory (29-Oct-1961)
The Hustler (25-Sep-1961) · Bert Gordon
Anatomy of a Murder (1-Jul-1959) · Claude Dancer
The Hanging Tree (11-Feb-1959) · Dr. George Grubb

Happy Birthday Frances Farmer

Today is the 101st birthday of Frances Farmer.  There is something about her, the biopic with Jessica Lange helped push her into cult icon status for a lot of people, including me.  Seattle girl, free thinker, rule breaker and getting a raw deal from Hollywood all inspire other artists.  They understand the misunderstood.  She is the glamorous Hollywood misfit queen of all misfits.  I think of her several times a week when I walk by the employee side entrance to to the Olympic Hotel in Seattle, a door I know that she went through hundreds of times in the early 1950’s when she took a job sorting laundry after her release from a mental hospital.  How she must have felt going in that side door when only 14 years earlier, that very same hotel had held the world premier of her film “Come and Get It.”  I think of that aching feeling of betrayal and abandonment and the complexities of mental instability, it must have been crippling.  (It is a similar feeling that I have when I am driving home and pass Kurt Cobain’s old house and see the bench in “Kurt’s Park” covered with flowers and burning candles.)

NAME: Frances Farmer
OCCUPATION: Film Actress
BIRTH DATE: September 19, 1913
DEATH DATE: August 01, 1970
EDUCATION: University of Washington
PLACE OF BIRTH: Seattle, Washington
PLACE OF DEATH: Indianapolis, Indiana

BEST KNOWN FOR: Actress Frances Farmer starred in films in the late ‘30s and early ‘40s, but was best known for her rebellious reputation and the time she spent in a mental institution.

Born September 19, 1913, in Seattle, Washington. The daughter of a lawyer, Farmer enjoyed a comfortable childhood, during which she developed a penchant for stage acting. In 1931, she enrolled at the University of Washington, where she majored in journalism and drama. After a failed attempt to join the Group Theatre in New York, Farmer concentrated on a film career, signing with Paramount Studios in 1936. Later that year, she was cast in a bit part in the drama Too Many Parents, followed by Border Flight and the musical Rhythm on the Range, starring Bing Crosby. Playing the dual role of a saloon singer and her daughter, Farmer’s work in the 1936 film Come and Get It, was heralded as the best screen performance of her career.

Despite Farmer’s initial success, she quickly earned a reputation as a demanding and rebellious actress on the set. Displeased with her attitude, Paramount cast her in bland parts in a handful of films, including Exclusive and Ebb Tide (both 1937). By the early 1940s, Farmer was forced to appear in a succession of inferior productions, including South of Pago Pago (1940), World Premiere, and Among the Living (both 1941).

In 1942, Farmer’s career enjoyed a brief resurgence when she was cast opposite Tyrone Power and Roddy McDowall in the swashbuckler Son of Fury. However, Farmer’s efforts to improve her image backfired when she was arrested and convicted of drunk driving at the time of the film’s release. Inundated with negative publicity, Farmer traveled to Mexico. However, by leaving the United States, she was found in violation of her probation. She was put on trial and deemed mentally ill. Farmer was committed to a mental institution where she underwent shock treatments, hydrotherapy baths, and reportedly received a trans-orbital lobotomy. Over the next few years, her physical and mental health deteriorated; she developed a debilitating dependency on alcohol and suffered from a series of nervous breakdowns.

Upon her release from the institution, in 1949, Farmer worked as a hotel receptionist before making a comeback appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1957. The following year, she starred in her last feature film, The Party Crashers, and began a six-year run on the Indianapolis-based TV show Frances Farmer Presents.

On August 1, 1970, Farmer died after a long battle with cancer; she was 56 years old. Her intimate autobiography, Will There Really Be a Morning?, was published posthumously in 1972. In the early 1980s, her story was captured on film in the biopic Frances (1982), starring Jessica Lange, and in the black and white documentary Committed (1983).

More than two decades after Farmer’s death, the alternative rock group Nirvana recorded the single “Frances Farmer Will Have Her Revenge on Seattle.” Written by lead singer Kurt Cobain, the tribute appeared on the band’s In Utero (1993) album. Cobain also named his daughter, Frances Bean Cobain, after Farmer.

Farmer was married three times: to actor Leif Erickson (from 1936-42); to Alfred Lobley (from 1953-58); and to Leland Mikesell (from 1958 until her death).

In Popular Culture:

  • Jessica Lange played Farmer in the 1982 film Frances, for which she was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress. Kim Stanley was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for portraying Farmer’s mother. The film contained a fictional scene which depicted Farmer undergoing a transorbital lobotomy. In Hollywood style, the film also omitted numerous facts and added a fictional life-long, love-interest character named “Harry”.
  • Susan Blakely portrayed Farmer in a 1983 television production Will There Really Be a Morning?, which was named after Farmer’s autobiography. Academy Award winner Lee Grant portrayed her mother in the same production.
  • In 1984, Culture Club had a #32 hit in the UK Single Charts “The Medal Song”, which was about the actress.
  • Tracey Thorn’s song “Ugly Little Dreams” on Everything But The Girl’s 1985 LP “Love Not Money” was also inspired by Frances Farmer.
  • The Nirvana song “Frances Farmer Will Have Her Revenge on Seattle”, which was written by fellow Washington native Kurt Cobain, was named after Farmer. It appears on their 1993 “In Utero” LP.
  • Patterson Hood, singer, guitarist and songwriter with the rock band Drive-By Truckers, included a song about Farmer (titled “Frances Farmer”) on his 2004 solo album, Killers and Stars. The album’s cover features a drawing of Farmer by Toby Cole.
  • Carol Decker of the band T’Pau wrote a song “Monkey House” about Frances Farmer’s mental illness which was featured on the 1987 album “Bridge Of Spies”.
  • French singer Mylène Jeanne Gautier, changed her name into Mylène Farmer as a tribute to Frances.

 

Rear View Mirror – My Week In Review

This week, I started tracking my physical activity with a fitbit. I have learned that I am a restless sleeper and do not drink enough water. I should also probably run longer.

This week on Waldina, I celebrated the birthdays of Claudette Colbert, Shirley Booth, Molly Ivins, Carol Doda, Iris Apfel, Man Ray, Shirley Manson, and added The Girl Most Likely to to the Required Viewing film series.

The Stats:

Total Posts: 1,252
Total Subscribers: 335
Total All Time Views: 124,041
Total Views This Week: 1,084
This Week’s Most Popular Post: Happy Birthday Shirley Booth

This week on Wasp & Pear on Tumblr, I posted photos of Doris Day, Zelda Fitzgerald, Sophia Loren, On The Waterfront, Yves Saint Laurent, The Goonies, The Maltese Falcon, Treasure Island, Clark Gable, Jean Harlow, vintage Seattle, Vintage Air France posters Louise Brooks, Elizabeth Taylor, abandoned places, Christy Turlington, Kay Thompson, Candy Darling, Dorothy Parker and the art of Keith Haring.

The Stats:

Total Posts: 2,821
Posts This Week: 249
Total Subscribers: 238
Most Popular Post: Happy Birthday Yves Saint Laurent

This week I tweeted from @TheRealSPA my daily fitness stats via fitbit and this:

Seems strange I don’t know a single tatoo artist in Seattle. Any suggestions? #tattoo #seattle

The Stats:

Total Tweets: 278 (automatically deleted after 31 days to preserve freshness)
Total Following: 300
Total Followers: 242

come find me. i’m @:

I chronicle what inspires me at Waldina.com
I faceplace at facebook.com/parkeranderson
I store my selfies at instagram.com/therealspa#
I tumblr at waspandpear.tumblr.com/
I tweet at twitter.com/TheRealSPA
I fitbit at fitbit.com/user/2W4RHZ
I google+ at plus.google.com/u/0/+SPAghettiBatman/about

Rear View Mirror – My Week In Review

This morning, I looked at photos of tattoos with latin phrases and did not come across the one I am considering.

This week through @TheRealSPA, I tweeted:

When you polish the floor you have to move the tree.

The Stats:

Total Tweets: 313 (older tweets automatically deleted to preserve freshness)
Total Following: 290
Total Followers: 236

This week on Wasp & Pear on Tumblr, I posted a bunch of photos of old hollywood, vintage Seattle, Paris, New York, abandoned places, Thom Browne taking the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, art, and inspirational quotes.

The Stats:

Total Notes: 2,788
Notes This Week: 389
Total Followers: 237
New Followers This Week: 26 (thanks!)
Most Popular Note: Today is the birthday of Yves Saint Laurent.

This week on RRCD on Tumblr, I worked on the layout and formatting a bit. I am using it mostly as a crosspost profile for ricardoduque.com.

The Stats:

Total Posts: 70
Total Followers: 12
New Followers This Week: 9

This week on Waldina, I celebrated the birthdays of Dorothy Parker, Gracie Hansen, Coco Chanel and Maureen O’Hara. I added Family Affair to my list of Not So Secret Obsessions and The Seven Year Itch to the list of Required Viewing films.

The Stats:

Total views this week: 921
Total all time views: 122,842
Total posts: 1,243
Total Subscribers: 335

This week on RicardoDuque.com, I posted the newest paintings and the flyer for the gallery opening. If you want to have an email sent to you every time a new work is posted, click on the plus symbol on the lower right hand corner and supply your email address.

The Stats:

Total all Time Views: 232
Total followers: 10

This week on @TheRealSPA on Instagram, I posted a lot of shots I took from the gallery openings at the Seattle Design Center and some of the art I hung out at the lake house.

The Stats:

Total Posts: 610
Total Followers: 142
Total Following: 213

come find me. i’m @:

I chronicle what inspires me at Waldina.com
I faceplace at facebook.com/parkeranderson
I store my selfies at instagram.com/therealspa#
I tumblr at waspandpear.tumblr.com/
I tweet at twitter.com/TheRealSPA

Happy Birthday Gracie Hansen

Today is the 92nd birthday of Gracie Hansen:  exactly what Seattle needed.  She famously said “The only difference between a rut and a grave are the dimensions.”  Take that to heart.

The irrepressible and brash Gracie Hansen — best remembered for presenting shapely showgirls in her glamorous Las Vegas-style burlesque nightclub at Seattle’s Century 21 Exposition (Seattle World’s Fair) in 1962 — was a most improbable individual to fulfill that role. She was a divorced, backwoods gal, with poor health, a garishly frumpy style, and no detectable musical skill. Yet she won friends easily. Fondly described once by Seattle Times  veteran reporter Don Duncan as “short, stout, big-busted,” by Seattle magazine as “short-necked and dumpy, the despair of dress designers,” and by Northwest historian Murray Morgan (1916-2000) as “short, raucous and witty” — the woman’s charm was largely based on that latter attribute. The easily underestimated but extremely well-read Hansen was also a nonstop font of homespun quips, sly double-entendre jokes, and ribald witticisms. Her Paradise International Club on the fairgrounds packed in crowds — in good part because of Hansen’s knack for generating newspaper headlines in the mildly scandalized town — while rumors of police raids, lawsuits, and Hansen’s own background as a Madam (untrue), kept gossips chattering endlessly. It was all a publicity agent’s dream come true — just as it was the Cinderella moment of Gracie Hansen’s difficult life — one that saw her move on to hosting another club in Portland, where she eventually launched a humorous campaign for mayor and later one for Governor of Oregon.

Quiet Desperation in Morton

Born in Shreveport, Louisiana, on August 21, 1922, Gracie Diana’s Sicilian father, Sam Diana, moved his family to Longview, Washington, where he opened a barbershop. After his death in 1930, she and her mother moved into an apartment above the Columbia Movie Theatre and young Gracie fell in love with Hollywood movies. After about eight years her mother married George Barner and they moved to Centralia where he was mayor. It was there that the ambitious Gracie converted her family garage into a theater and began producing shows with her new neighborhood pals. After high school, her mother refused to let her follow her dream of studying acting in New York City, and so Gracie eloped with a logger named Leo Hansen. They moved to the tiny rough-and-tumble logging town of Morton and in 1948 adopted a boy named Sam.

Her new hometown was a less than inspiring spot to live. It was a lonely place — one that Hansen talked about years later in an interview with Bellingham’s KVOS-TV, where she quoted no less than Henry David Thoreau in recalling that “I once read where ‘the mass of men live lives of quiet desperation’ — and until you’ve lived in a little town like this you’ll never know what desperation can be. Everybody is searching for something to do. And I think that’s how I became involved … of course I’ve always been a frustrated ham, and loved to do anything connected with shows —  when I was a child I wanted to be a movie star” (KVOS).

A string of jobs as a waitress, cook, and bank clerk didn’t satisfy Hansen’s thespian urge and neither did the dozens of community groups she joined. But then in 1953 she masterminded what became the town’s annual variety show presentation, the Morton Follies. Produced as a fundraising benefit for the local Parent-Teachers-Association (PTA), she organized and staged the two-hour show, which was humorously credited with this line: “Written, Borrowed, Stolen, Directed, and Produced by Gracie Hansen.” It was “a typical variety show using all the home talent. Most of the time we had a hundred people in the cast. Everybody’s got a little bit of ham in them! And geez those people would just get up there and give the most terrific performances. They were wonderful. We had a chorus line: we had ten of the young housewives (I think one time we figured out that they had about 26 children between them). I would get a dancing teacher to teach them how to dance and they worked real hard and they were terrific” (KVOS).

Morton Liquor Agency

Hansen suffered a divorce and also acquired the license to operate Morton’s liquor shop — which probably was a relatively thriving business in a boom-and-bust timber town whose economy fluctuated, as she admitted, “like the weather.” But alcohol also seems to have played a role in the demise of her role with the Follies. Word is that in time the shows began to get edgier, but Hansen attributed that to booze-fueled improvisation by amateur cast members rather than to her own scripting: “Some of these people would get carried away [laughter]! They’d say ‘Gee whiz Gracie, I’ve gotta have a little bit of fortification before I can get up there and make a fool of myself.’ And I sometimes wished I was clever enough to write some of the things they came up with — but some of the things were just too adult for the PTA. [laughter] and so we kinda just stopped it” (KVOS).

Seattle magazine noted that the 1959 show was to be the last: “As the years progressed … the dialog became racier and racier; when finally one logger, attired as Queen for a Day, hiked up his skirt and showed he had nothing on underneath but his boots, church groups closed down the show” (Halpin). And, even years later, one Morton resident (schoolteacher Geneva Partridge) confessed that “Opinion of Gracie is divided. Some are against her” (Dunsire).

Hansen counted only one person in Morton as a real friend. She got sick, endured several bank-busting medical operations, and while healing grew extremely bored and depressed just moping around her house. “You see, I used to work all winter on them. This was my project for the winter. And then that winter I had nothing to do and was very ill, and very broke, and feeling very sorry for myself. And I had this friend who came over and gave me this pep talk: ‘Gee look what you did with the Morton Follies. Why don’t you go up to the Seattle World’s Fair?’ Of course, I thought she was absolutely right!’ (KVOS). That advice from her friend Esther Lester really got her to thinking about a new future.

Showgirls vs. Science

By the late 1950s there was already plenty of news coverage of the massive planning efforts  and construction projects that would ultimately result in the Century 21 World’s Fair. And that got Hansen to thinking that maybe there would be opportunities for her there. Her first step was to jump into her battered old Buick and drive up to the fair’s planning offices up in the old Civic Auditorium. She arrived in the big city with high hopes, plenty of confidence and “Morton mud on my shoes. They were very amused [laughter]. And I just went in cold and said I wanted to put on a show. You see everybody has a mission in life and I decided that my mission must be to save the fair from Science. Well they were very amused and said ‘Well Miss Hansen don’t you call us, we’ll call you'” (KVOS).

Hansen returned to Morton and mailed off a few letters to Seattle and Olympia still seeking to gauge any possible interest in having her produce an expanded version of her naughty little Follies show. In April 1960, Al Rochester (1895-1985), Executive Director for the Century 21 Commission, sent her a letter (mailed to the liquor store in Morton), which stated that an “Administrative Assistant to the Governor [Albert D. Rosellini], wrote me that you had some interest in participation of some kind … . Would you be so good as to drop me a line and outline in some detail what you thoughts are on the matter. Then I shall be very pleased to follow through in any way possible.”  At the bottom of that still-surviving letter are clues to Rochester’s thoughts: inscribed in ink pen there are these handwritten notes: “Appointment 4-14-60 11:00 am ‘Girlie’ Show — I told her it was too soon …” (Rochester letter to Hansen, April 11, 1960).

Next Stop: Seattle

Hansen made the decision to head where the action was and, after finding a job at Seattle’s United Savings and Loan Associates, she moved here. “Then I made up this list … of all the people I’d ever heard of in Seattle who had money. And I began checking them off.  I would go and call on them on my lunch, or after work, or on Saturdays, and I would give them this pitch: ‘Have you ever been to a World’s Fair, or know anyone who has? And, if so, what do you remember?’ ‘Cause you know what they all remember: Little Egypt, Sally Rand, Billie Rose and some of those things. And no one can tell you about an exhibit they saw any place! So I formulated my pet theory that: Science will never replace sex or cotton candy” (KVOS).

One of those wealthy folks, Robert Chinn (625 S Jackson Street) — her boss at the bank and a gentleman quite prominent within the town’s Chinese community — agreed to help. In an hour-and-a-half on the telephone, he rounded up 18 friends who each invested $5,000 in Hansen’s dream to produce a big-time show at the fair. Of course, when the ecstatic would-be showbiz entrepreneur ran back to the fair’s offices, they didn’t believe her until they laid eyes on a bankbook showing the $90,000 she’d raised. “So, of course,” she recalled, “then they were very interested in talking about this” (KVOS).

Sedate Seattle vs. the Censor Board

Meanwhile, as planning for the fair progressed in Seattle, there were conflicting notions about what hosting such a huge cosmopolitan event might mean to the community. Seattle’s raucous past as an 1850s frontier village — a Wild West town that featured rowdy dancehalls and liquor bars, box theaters (in which male patrons fraternized in small rooms with female employees behind curtains), and houses of ill-repute like the infamous one supposedly operated by Madam Damnable — was a history many upstanding members of the community would like to have forgotten by the 1950s. And they sure didn’t want the fair to revive any of that wildness.

On the other hand, some interested parties figured that the town — soon to be sizzling under the glare of international media and the entertainment needs of worldly tourists — really ought to consider installing an “adult-entertainment” component to the fair’s offerings. It was in 1961, according Murray Morgan, that “State Senator Reuben Knoblauch [d. 1992] complained to the World’s Fair [C]ommission that too much emphasis and space was being devoted to an art exhibit which he said would not draw the crowds that high class entertainment or a skin show would attract. State Representative Len Sawyer, a member of the Commission, agreed and added that a cadaver in a medical exhibit in Canada was outdrawing an art exhibit” (Morgan).  So, Hansen’s “pet theory” obviously had other adherents. And, though the fair would boast plenty of high-brow culture (as well as a generalized futuristic high-tech science ambiance), plans were now underway to also accommodate more base attractions. Although the fair wouldn’t be able to boast of having a morbid cadaver on display, there would ultimately be opportunities to view “heavenly bodies” (Official Guide Book p. 112).

Sin Alley

Initially the fair contracted with Hansen to produce her show in a venue on the Boulevards of the World strip. As general planning progressed though, they discussed relocating her still-unnamed showplace to a discreet area underneath the north stadium stands — a zone they imagined might be marketed as Sin Alley.

Meanwhile, Hansen forged ahead by getting professional assistance — and she reached for the stars. “Being the frustrated ham that I am,” Hansen admitted, “I always read Variety and the show business papers, and I knew that there were two big names in the business that did first-class shows: Don Arden and Barry Ashton. And so I made a trip to Las Vegas and Los Angeles [in the summer of 1961] and I talked to Don Arden and Barry Ashton” (KVOS). At the time Arden was committed to producing the famous Lido Shows in Paris and at the Stardust in Vegas, but Ashton was interested in possibly serving as choreographer.

On November 3, 1961, The Seattle Times published an item showing Hansen with Ashton and his partner reviewing blueprints for a World’s Fair “Theater-Cafe.” Interesting, then, that documents from the fair’s internal archives seemingly reveal that the exact nature of Hansen’s participation still wasn’t fully nailed down. A November 15 letter from George K. Whitney (the fair’s Director of Concessions and Amusements) shows him touching base with San Francisco’s Hotsy Totsy Club, in which he states a desire to see someone bring in a “theater-restaurant night club similar in scope and program” to that city’s Bimbo’s 365 Club (which Ashton staged). It is mentioned that prime space is available, that Ashton has been hired, and even suggests that the program “would be the hit of Show Street.” The stipulation was that, with the time-clock ticking away towards a Grand Opening in April, the Hotsy Totsy folks needed to make an immediate decision. Intriguingly, on the November 16, The Seattle Times reported that just one day prior, Hansen had delivered a $90,000 check to the fair as an “advance guarantee against receipts.” And with that, it appears Hansen’s involvement — on Show Street — was locked in.

Show Street

From there things must have fallen into place at a rapid pace: A month later, on December 21, 1961, Time magazine reported that, yes, worry not, “the fair will have its undraped girls, in a ‘Las Vegas-type revue’ to be produced by one Gracie Hansen, an entrepreneuse who promises ‘a daring show with some nudity, but all in good taste.'” And that would take place within Show Street — the titillation zone of the fair located at the northeast corner of the grounds (where today’s KCTS-TV station is based). That same day saw a groundbreaking ceremony on the construction site — one in which Hansen (wearing a feathered hat) began charming the media saying: “This is my dream some true. I’m just a country girl from Morton. Very naive. Why, I didn’t know there were press agents until a few months ago.” Then, using a “gold-plated” shovel to turn a load of “diamonds,” she said “Diamonds are a girl’s best friend — but I’ll never knock rubies, emeralds or pearls” (The Seattle Times, December 21, 1961).

Show Street was a U-shaped complex of buildings, each containing a distinct “Adults Only” attraction — including the Polynesian Playhouse, the Diamond Horseshoe (and its Gay Nineties theme), the Galaxy (and its Girls of the Galaxy show), the Le Petit Theatre (and its naughty puppet show), and Backstage U.S.A. (and its risqué “Peep” show). Some of these offerings, ranging “from bad to indifferent, were organized to slop up the lascivious overflow” of people who arrived too late to get tickets to the highest profile feature of all. And that was Hansen’s mildly controversial Paradise International restaurant-theater which survived official scrutiny only because the “Seattle Censor Board was persuaded to raise its eyes to the heavens while the girls bared their breasts” (Morgan).

A Night In Paradise

On the fair’s opening night of April 21, 1962, Hansen’s plush, 700-seat Paradise International drew large crowds. Advance publicity of the controversial sort helped, but so too did the building’s attention-grabbing exterior neon sign: it was designed like an apple with a missing bite — an unmistakable visual allusion to traditional biblical notions of original sin. Or as Hansen pitched it to The Seattle Times in December 1961: “The apple tree in Paradise will be our symbol.” Although a certain segment of Seattleites was mildly scandalized, the Seattle Censor Board miraculously gave it the nod — possibly because, as Hansen would helpfully inform: Even though “‘some of our showgirls are nude from the waist up. It’s not thrust upon you. In fact, sometimes you have to look for them in there. And, as yet, no one has objected and found it distasteful, so I guess it’s a matter of presentation” (KVOS).

Hansen began each “A Night In Paradise” show — as staged by Ashton and supported by a pit-band led by Seattle’s aging 1920s bandleader, John R. “Jackie” Souders (d. 1968) — with a pure jolt of Mae West-like red-hot-mama irreverence, greeting her audience with a shout-out (that had actually been a trademark of West’s stylistic predecessor, Texas Guinan): “Hi-ya, Suckers!” After some joking around Hansen even sang a tune or two in her own endearing manner — which was “like a poor man’s Sophie Tucker, belting out red-hot chestnuts and always getting the biggest hand of the evening”.

Than, after that aural assault, the real action began — although as one scribe noted years later: “It was a ‘Vegas-style’ show that by today’s standards would probably look like a Daughters of the American Revolution luncheon but was then the ultimate in slap-and-tickle sophistication” (Palmer). True, those four floor-shows per night offered — to employ an old, old joke — two main points of interest: the bevy of buxom beauties (who sang and paraded their admirable physiques) and their over-the-top, and occasionally topless, costumes (all made in Hollywood by Lloyd Lambert) in ridiculous productions like the “Women of Mars.”

Spice Girls

Before long, the fair’s Performing Arts Director, Harold Shaw, stated that a few underperforming Show Street attractions needed to be overhauled from “stem to stern.” The problem, surprise surprise, was that he felt that they were not yet “spicy enough.” He lamented how “I could make that street hop if I had a free hand for two weeks.” What the place was lacking was “showmanship” and more nudity: “There isn’t a show worth doing unless it is keeping the censors busy. The censors would have to be on roller skates to keep up with me … . I don’t say I have all the answers but I am willing to help if they ask me” (The Seattle Times, June 6, 1962).

All this helpfulness only sparked the inevitable backlash from social conservatives, and even moderate politicians who also made known their objections to Hansen’s Paradise International and the other questionable Show Street venues. Longtime reporter Don Duncan noted that St. Matthews Catholic Church in Northeast Seattle’s Lake City neighborhood mailed in a letter of complaint which stated that “Such Pagan displays will show the world what they already suspect — that Americans are amoral, materialistic, sex-conscious, pleasure-seeking people. What an impression!” It was also reported that a Mr. H. H. Hill had written about his concerns that “Century 21 is becoming primarily a bawdy show or is it to be a science fair citizens were taxed to support” (The Seattle Times, June 27, 1962).

Physical Fitness

It didn’t help matters when the Shaw announced plans to introduce regular Monday “father-and-son” nights at Hansen’s shows — which had initially been advertised as a “break for dear old dad.” A week later, the fair’s great advocate, Governor Albert D. Rosellini (1910-2011), weighed in. In a letter written to a local Lutheran minister, he admitted that he was shocked by the idea. Rosellini’s office asserted that they’d already received 1,200 letters from an outraged public — and he informed the fair that they ought “to assure a more adequate regard for morality” (The Seattle Times June 27, 1962). That same piece from The Seattle Times informed that the fair’s manager, Ewen C. Dingwall (1913-1996), responded by noting that “every activity on Show Street must be approved by either the State Liquor Control Board or the Seattle Board of Theater Supervisors” (known informally as the Seattle Censor Board), and that “No activity is tolerated by us which does not have the approval of both agencies.”

Amid the simmering furor, the dads-and-lads concept apparently faded away but Shaw got in a parting shot by saying: “It’s time we shed our false puritanical morals and commence to beautify the human being — and make him beautiful as God created him.” Then, perhaps stretching things just a bit too far, Shaw told another newspaper that even more nudity at the fair would “be a boost for President Kennedy’s physical fitness plan. Americans don’t have beautiful bodies. The best way to stimulate beautiful bodies is to see them” (Seattle Post Intelligencer, June 28, 1962).

In hindsight, Morgan reckoned that, business-wise, the Show Street had been a disappointing mixed bag: “the puppets made a mint … and some of the other attractions were around for the last hurrah. But throughout the fair, Show Street was a financial embarrassment, in such trouble that not even well-publicized, carefully rehearsed trouble with the police could produce a profit” (Murray Morgan).

Initially Hansen had been delightfully glib about her club’s chances at success, telling reporters that “We may go broke, but we’ll never be flat-busted” (Halpin). Truth be told, although Hansen’s Paradise did manage, in the end, to pay off all its debts, its original investors remained rather bitter about not making a profit — and Hansen herself moved on with an empty savings account. But George Whitney may have been correct when — before the fair even opened — he predicted that “There is no question that when Century 21 has passed in limbo, the main feature to be remembered will be Gracie Hansen’s Paradise International” (The Seattle Times, December 21, 1961). Well, that, and maybe the Space Needle and Monorail…

Hansen’s Transformation

Part of Hansen’s secret for success was her state of self-awareness. As Seattle magazine once reported: “She has no illusions about the quality of her voice. ‘I have no voice at all,’ she rasps in a whisky bass that sounds like a fire roaring in a wood stove. ‘But if I don’t sing good — at least I sing loud” (Halpin, p. 36). And it wasn’t only her voice that was loud — so was her wardrobe. To start with, there were the absurd “thick false eyelashes, wigs, and enormous finger rings” (Duncan, 1985). Then too, the mink stoles, outrageous hats, and “richly brocaded velvet dresses” whose “outlandish ruffles would shame Liberace” (Halpin, p. 36).

Considering that Hansen also whirled around town in her (borrowed) gold-plated Buick — she instantly become “the most talked about woman in Seattle.” Indeed, “Gracie’s transformation into a siren was a remarkable example of mind over matter” — but she accomplished that with a combination of old-fashioned moxie, drive, and a heart of gold (Halpin, p. 36). All things considered, Hansen proved to be exactly what Century 21 needed — she “added just the right touch of humor and earthiness to Seattle’s science-oriented fair” (Duncan, 1985).

Morton Reunion

The 20th annual Logger’s Jubilee festival in little ol’ Morton welcomed Hansen back in a triumphal return appearance as their fair’s Homecoming Queen. On August 12, 1962, she, as Grand Marshal, rode on the back seat of an open convertible car in their parade down the town’s Main Street. One newspaper account of that day’s activities noted that her earlier showbiz activities there had made her “the talk of the town. Not all of the talk complimentary” (Charles Dunsire).

She arrived like a big city star in a chartered bus accompanied by “Show Street personalities, and a retinue of newsmen, photographers and press agents. Also aboard to keep things lively were a guitarist and clarinetist.” Hansen wore a silver sequined dress — one that “contrasted with the other elements of the parade, which included a long line of fully loaded logging trucks” (Charles Dunsire). But that didn’t stop fair officials from awarding Hansen with the, presumably coveted, golden ax.

A Heart of Gold

Then in 1977 it was discovered that for the past two years Hansen had been volunteering anonymously at Portland’s Volunteers of America senior center, serving meals to the elderly. Hansen told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer that she labored there as a way of “working off a guilt complex. I feel guilty about all the things I didn’t do for my parents when they were alive.”

Those who knew Hansen were not surprised by this news — Hansen had long before entertained patients at Children’s Orthopedic Hospital while dressed in a Santa Claus costume, and she also gave inspirational talks to most any community group that tendered an invitation to speak. Also in 1977 Hansen announced that she and her husband were selling their home and moving to Seattle where she wanted to “spice up the campaign” that the Paradise International’s former head of security — City Councilman Wayne Larkin — was launching in a run for mayor (Evans).

Say Goodnight, Gracie

Long plagued with poor health — she had been diagnosed as a diabetic in the mid-1950s — Hansen (who was last based in North Hollywood) endured at least six medical operations for various circulatory problems, and had a leg amputated in 1980. Then, finally, on January 9, 1985, Hansen died in Los Angeles after a last round of surgery. It was two full decades after she’d made her initial big splash in Seattle, but that news of her passing still merited front-page coverage in The Seattle Times.

The town still had a soft spot for the hick from the sticks who defied all odds to become an outrageous glamour icon — and one who never forgot where she came from. The ever-humble Hansen once freely admitted to that newspaper that Century 21 had been a career highlight: it was the “Cinderella point in my life … . I came barreling in from Morton and my whole life changed. I’ve been enjoying it ever since” (The Seattle Times, January 11, 1985) — and way back in 1966 she shared this inspirational thought with Seattle magazine: “I was fat and 40 and I came out of the hills and I made it. My message is this: if I could, who the hell can’t?”

 

Rear View Mirror – My Week In Review

2014-08-09 09.06.44

I have a lot of rules. Rule #3 has never been enforced.

 

We are in Moses Lake this weekend for Rick’s high school reunion.  This town.  I mean.  Wow.  Gertrude Stein once said when referring to her childhood home in Oakland (and it has since taken on a life of its own and morphed into a slightly different meaning) There is no there there.”  Yesterday, we drove around looking for something to do, somewhere to shop, anything. Nothing.

Everyone is very friendly, but I guess only the friendly ones would attend a high school reunion.  Hard drinkers, but friendly.

I just want to go shopping.

This week on Waldina, I celebrated the birthdays of Leonide Massine, Esther Williams, Randall Shilts, Mata Hari, Lucille Ball, Andy Warhol, Ricardo Romero Cortez Duque and Barack Obama.

The Stats:

Visits This Week: 608
All Time Visits: 120,692
Total Subscribers: 328
Most Popular Post: Banned Books That Shaped America: Catch-22

This week I tweeted from @TheRealSPA:

I’ve said before and I’ll say it again: Moses Lake possesses all the charm of a botched abortion. #MosesLake #ClassOf84

The Stats:

Total Tweets: 320 (old tweets auto-deleted to preserve freshness)
Total Following: 289
Total Followers: 223

This week over on Wasp & Pear on Tumblr, I posted photos of Charlie Chaplin, Gandhi, Einstein and Truman Capote; inspirational quotes from Holstee, Abraham Lincoln, Jack Kerouac, Walt Whitman, Dr. Seuss, Hunter S. Thompson and Eleanor Roosevelt; and a lot of new art from Ricardo Romero Cortez Duque.

The Stats:

Total Notes: 2,710
Notes This Week: 71
Total Followers: 188
Total Following: 292
Most Popular Post: Happy Birthday Yves Saint Laurent

come find me, i’m @:

I chronicle what inspires me at Waldina.com
I faceplace at facebook.com/parkeranderson
I have created a Facebook blog group at facebook.com/groups/blogpostfeed/
I store my selfies at instagram.com/therealspa#
I tumblr at waspandpear.tumblr.com/
I tweet at twitter.com/TheRealSPA
I Google+ at plus.google.com/u/0/+SPAghettiBatman

Happy Birthday Ricardo Romero Cortez Duque

Today is the birthday of Ricardo Romero Cortez Duque.  You can visit the full collection of his art HERE.  Here are some of my favorites:

Some of his work is in the current show at Vernissage:

Vernissage
Seattle Design Center
5701 6th Ave S, Ste. 268
Seattle, WA 98802
United States