Rear View Mirror – My Week In Review

This morning, I woke up thinking about David Rakoff.  I often listen to the audio book version of his last book “Love, Dishonor, Marry, Die, Cherish, Perish: A Novel” because it is read by him, written entirely in verse, and so brilliant my eyes fill with tears when I think of it.  Below the worst picture of him I could find is an essay about Karl Lagerfeld that David Rakoff wrote a while back. History has shown us that you can be a genius and a monster at the same time.  We have examples of the various perversions and mutations of the genius, but I am guessing that genius or not, the monster part is actually more rooted in insecurities.  A genius should be confident in his abilities and talents.  An evil genius may have come by the “genius” title accidentally and his insecurities of being “found out” have caused him to become a notorious asshole.  When you are a monster, no one bothers to get close enough to find out that you are really just an insecure man guarding the secret that he is merely average.  But David Rakoff (as always) says it best.

fat-karl-lagerfeld

“All of the designers I have met up to this point have been very nice, although upon being introduced to Karl Lagerfeld, he looks me up and down and dismisses me with the not super-kind, “What can you write that hasn’t been written already?”

He’s absolutely right, I have no idea. I can but try. The only thing I can come up with right now is that Lagerfeld’s powdered white ponytail has dusted the shoulders of his suit with what looks like dandruff but isn’t. Not having undergone his alarming weight loss yet, seated on a tiny velvet chair, with his large doughy rump dominating the miniature piece of furniture like a loose, flabby, ass-flavored muffin over-risen from its pan, he resembles a Daumier caricature of some corpulent, overfed, inhumane oligarch drawn sitting on a commode, stuffing his greedy throat with the corpses of dead children, while from his other end he shits out huge, malodorous piles of tainted money. How’s that for new and groundbreaking, Mr. L.?”
― David Rakoff, Don’t Get Too Comfortable: The Indignities of Coach Class, The Torments of Low Thread Count, The Never-Ending Quest for Artisanal Olive Oil, and Other First World Problems

This week on Waldina, I celebrated the birthdays of I. M. Pei, Ella Fitzgerald, Shirley MacLaine, Barbra Streisand, Halston, Edie Sedgwick and Joan Miro.

The Stats:

Views This Week: 787
All Time Views: 111,681
Total Subscribers: 282
Most Popular Post This Week: Rudolph Valentino – Style Icon

This week on Wasp & Pear on Tumblr, I posted photos of classic Hollywood, Vintage Seattle. New York City and Interlochen. I posted Style Icon profiles for Lauren Bacall, Keith Haring, Carrie Donovan, Dovima, Francis Farmer, Romon Novarro and Cesar Romero. I celebrated Shakespear’s birthday. I posted the art of Roy Lichtenstein, Keith Haring, Andy Warhol and Cecil Beaton.

The Stats:

Posts This Week: 77
Total Posts: 2,130
New Subscribers: 3
Total Subscribers: 167
Most Popular Post This Week: Happy Birthday Barbra Streisand

This week over at the @TheRealSPA chunck of Twitter, I set up the automatic deletion of tweets older than 31 days and I turned off the retweets of any chronic retweeter. It is just a bit boring.

Come find me…

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

Enhanced by Zemanta

Happy Birthday Shirley MacLaine

Today is Shirley MacLaine’s 80th birthday .I love her in “Trouble With Harry” and “Sweet Charity” and “Postcards from the Edge” and “Terms of Endearment” and “Steel Magnolias” and on and on and on.NAME: Shirley MacLaine
OCCUPATION: Film Actress, Theater Actress, Television Actress, Ballet Dancer, Singer, Journalist
BIRTH DATE: April 24, 1934
PLACE OF BIRTH: Richmond, Virginia
ORIGINALLY: Shirley MacLean Beaty

BEST KNOWN FOR: American actress Shirley MacLaine is well known for leading role in the 1983 film Terms of Endearment, as well as her beliefs in reincarnation.

Shirley MacLean Beaty (known professionally as Shirley MacLaine; April 24, 1934) is an American film and theater actress, singer, dancer, activist and author, well-known for her beliefs in New Age spirituality and reincarnation. She has written a large number of autobiographical works, many dealing with her spiritual beliefs as well as her Hollywood career. In 1983, she won the Academy Award for Best Actress for her role in Terms of Endearment. She was nominated for an Academy Award five times before her win. Her younger brother is Warren Beatty but they have never appeared in the same film.

MacLaine made her film debut in Alfred Hitchcock’s The Trouble with Harry (1955), for which she won the Golden Globe Award for New Star Of The Year – Actress. In 1956, she had roles in Hot Spell and Around the World in Eighty Days. At the same time she starred in Some Came Running, the film that gave her her first Academy Award nomination – one of five that the film received – and a Golden Globe nomination.

Her second nomination came two years later for The Apartment, starring with Jack Lemmon. The film won five Oscars, including Best Director for Billy Wilder. She later said, “I thought I would win for The Apartment, but then Elizabeth Taylor had a tracheotomy”. She starred in The Children’s Hour (1961) also starring Audrey Hepburn, based on the play by Lillian Hellman. She was again nominated, this time for Irma la Douce (1963), for which she reunited with Wilder and Lemmon. Don Siegel, her director on Two Mules for Sister Sara (1970), in which she starred opposite Clint Eastwood, once said, “It’s hard to feel any great warmth to her. She’s too unfeminine and has too much balls. She’s very, very hard.”

In 1975, she received a nomination for Best Documentary Feature for her documentary film The Other Half of the Sky: A China Memoir. Two years later, she was once again nominated for The Turning Point co-starring Anne Bancroft, in which she portrayed a retired ballerina much like herself. In 1978, she was awarded the Women in Film Crystal Award for outstanding women who, through their endurance and the excellence of their work, have helped to expand the role of women within the entertainment industry. In 1980, she starred in A Change of Seasons alongside Anthony Hopkins. The pair famously didn’t get along and Hopkins said “she was the most obnoxious actress I have ever worked with.” In 1983, she won an Oscar for Terms of Endearment. The film won another four Oscars; one for Jack Nicholson and three for director James L. Brooks. In 1988, MacLaine won a Golden Globe for Best Actress (Drama) for Madame Sousatzka.

She continued to star in major films, such as Steel Magnolias with Julia Roberts and many other stars. She made her feature-film directorial debut in Bruno, MacLaine starred as Helen in this film, which was released to video as The Dress Code. In 2007, she completed Closing the Ring, directed by Richard Attenborough and starring Christopher Plummer. Other notable films in which MacLaine has starred include Sweet Charity (1968), Being There (1979) with Peter Sellers, Postcards From the Edge (1990) with actress Meryl Streep, playing a fictionalized version of Debbie Reynolds with a screenplay by Reynolds’s daughter, Carrie Fisher, Used People with Jessica Tandy and Kathy Bates, Guarding Tess (1994) with Nicolas Cage, Mrs. Winterbourne (1996), with actress and talk show host, Ricki Lake and actor Brendan Fraser, Rumor Has It… (2005) with Kevin Costner and Jennifer Aniston and In Her Shoes with Cameron Diaz.

MacLaine has also appeared in numerous television projects including an autobiographical miniseries based upon the book Out on a Limb, The Salem Witch Trials, These Old Broads written by Carrie Fisher and co-starring Elizabeth Taylor, Debbie Reynolds, and Joan Collins, and Coco, a Lifetime production based on the life of Coco Chanel. She also had a short-lived sitcom called Shirley’s World. She will be appearing in the third series of the British drama Downton Abbey as Martha Levinson, mother to Cora, Countess of Grantham.

MacLaine has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1165 Vine Street.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Happy Birthday Cesar Romero

Today is the 107th birthday of Cesar Romero.  There is a scene in “The Thin Man” where he (who’s character is Chris Jorgensen, I guess foreign is foreign) is sitting in a chair while people are inquiring why he doesn’t get a job, he stands up and storms away.  His much-0lder wife yells after him as one would a child throwing a temper tantrum.  That was his first movie and first scene.  I thought it was hilarious, possibly unintentionally so, but hilarious.  It took me quite a few years to merge in my head that that actor also was the actor that played The Joker on the 60’s Batman TV series and various other guest rolls on “The Love Boat” and so forth.  His career spanned more than 60 years, with continued relevance and popularity today.  

 

NAME: Cesar Romero
OCCUPATION: Film Actor, Theater Actor, Television Actor, Dancer
BIRTH DATE: February 15, 1907
DEATH DATE: January 01, 1994
EDUCATION: Collegiate School, Riverdale Country School
PLACE OF BIRTH: New York, New York
PLACE OF DEATH: Santa Monica, California

BEST KNOWN FOR: Actor and dancer Cesar Romero performed in movies from the ’30s through the ’60s. He became a pop culture icon in the 1966 Batman television series.

Actor, dancer. Born February 15, 1907, in New York City, to a prosperous Cuban family. Romero was raised by his parents, Cesar Julio Romero and Maria Mantilla, among Manhattan’s social elite. His maternal grandfather was the famed Cuban patriot Jose Marti (for whom Havana’s airport is named). Romero was first introduced to acting while attending Collegiate and Riverdale Country schools, where he starred in a stage production of The Merchant of Venice.

While still in his teens, Romero met fellow socialite Lisbeth Higgins, with whom he began a professional dance partnership. The couple performed in New York City’s nightclub and theatre circuit. Romero began his solo career as a dancer in a number of off-Broadway productions, before coming to Broadway as an actor. His early stage credits included Social Register, Stella Brady, and Dinner at Eight. Romero’s performance in the latter influenced MGM Studios to sign him to a short-term film contract.

Romero moved to Hollywood, where he made his film debut as a gigolo in the mystery The Thin Man (1934), starring William Powell and Myrna Loy. In the mid-30s (now under contract to Universal Studios), he appeared in a number of projects ranging from box office disasters like The Devil is a Woman (1935) to well-received comedies like Love Before Breakfast (1936).

In 1937, failed salary negotiations with Universal led Romero to sign with 20th Century Fox, where he would remain for the next 15 years. In the late 30s and early 40s, he was cast as the Cisco Kid in a handful of Westerns including, The Cisco Kid and the Lady (1939) and Viva Cisco Kid (1940).

With the onset of World War II, Romero temporarily shelved his film career in order to enlist in the U.S. Coast Guard. In 1947, after three years of service, he returned to acting with supporting roles in the musical romance Carnival in Costa Rica followed by the 16th-century epic The Captain from Castile, with Tyrone Power.

Romero’s credits during the 1950s and early 1960s included secondary parts in more memorable films. In the Oscar-winning adventure Around the World in 80 Days (1956), Romero was cast in a minor role alongside a stellar ensemble that included Shirley MacLaine, Buster Keaton, Marlene Dietrich, and John Gielgud. In 1960, he won another supporting role in the Rat Pack caper Ocean’s Eleven, featuring Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., Peter Lawford, and Joey Bishop.

For the duration of his career, Romero’s most notable projects were his television appearances. He attained pop icon status with his portrayal of the maniacal Joker in the 1966 television series Batman. Starring Adam West in the title role, Batman became an overnight sensation, boasting an impressive cast that included Burt Ward, Julie Newmar, Roddy McDowall, and Vincent Price.

During the 1970s, Romero played the recurring role of Freddie Prinze’s father on the NBC comedy series Chico and the Man. From 1985-88, his part as the patriarchal Peter Stavros on the primetime soap opera Falcon Crest introduced the seasoned Romero to a whole new generation of viewers.

With a body of work spanning more than seven decades and over a hundred film credits, Romero remained an active member in Hollywood’s social scene throughout his career. Although he never married, the self-described “Latin from Manhattan” was romantically linked to a number of women. On January 1, 1994, Romero died of a blood clot. He was 86 years old.

He believed that to live well you must dress well. And never in the same outfit. His closets held 30 tuxedos, 200 sports jackets, and 500 suits.

Cesar Romero – Style Icon.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Happy Birthday Jack Lemmon

Tomorrow is Jack Lemmon’s 89th birthday.  Throughout his career, he turned in consistently top notch performances and mad his “every man” persona so desirable.  Watch him with Judy Holliday in “It Should Happen To You,” with Shirley MacLaine in “The Apartment” and Sandy Dennis in “The Out of Towners.”  You won’t take your eyes off him.  Then watch “The China Syndrome” and you will witness the range of his 50 year resume.

NAME: John Uhler Lemmon III
OCCUPATION: Film Actor
BIRTH DATE: February 08, 1925
DEATH DATE: June 27, 2001
EDUCATION: Harvard University
PLACE OF BIRTH: Boston, Massachusetts
PLACE OF DEATH: Los Angeles, California

BEST KNOWN FOR: Jack Lemmon was an American actor who starred in over 60 films, including Some Like It Hot, The Odd Couple, The Out-of-Towners, and Grumpy Old Men.

Jack Lemmon (b. Feb. 8, 1925) was an American actor who starred in over 60 films, including Some Like It Hot, The Apartment, Mister Roberts, Days of Wine and Roses, The Great Race, Irma la Douce, The Odd Couple, Save the Tiger (for which he won the 1973 Best Actor Academy Award), The Out-of-Towners, The China Syndrome, Missing (for which he won ‘Best Actor’ at the 1982 Cannes Film Festival), Glengarry Glen Ross, Grumpy Old Men and Grumpier Old Men. He won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor in 1955 for his performance in Mister Roberts, establishing him as one of the screen’s new comic stars. He was respected for his ability to play high-strung and neurotic characters.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Cesar Romero – Style Icon

There is a scene in “The Thin Man” where Cesar Romero (who’s character is Chris Jorgensen, I guess foreign is foreign) is sitting in a chair while people are inquiring why he doesn’t get a job, he stands up and storms away.  His much-0lder wife yells after him as one would a child throwing a temper tantrum.  That was his first movie and first scene.  I thought it was hilarious, possibly unintentionally so, but hilarious.  It took me quite a few years to merge in my head that that actor also was the actor that played The Joker on the 60’s Batman TV series and various other guest rolls on “The Love Boat” and so forth.  His career spanned more than 60 years, with continued relevance and popularity today.  Ladies and gentlemen, Cesar Romero.  Style Icon.

NAME: Cesar Romero
OCCUPATION: Film Actor, Theater Actor, Television Actor, Dancer
BIRTH DATE: February 15, 1907
DEATH DATE: January 01, 1994
EDUCATION: Collegiate School, Riverdale Country School
PLACE OF BIRTH: New York, New York
PLACE OF DEATH: Santa Monica, California

BEST KNOWN FOR: Actor and dancer Cesar Romero performed in movies from the ’30s through the ’60s. He became a pop culture icon in the 1966 Batman television series.

Actor, dancer. Born February 15, 1907, in New York City, to a prosperous Cuban family. Romero was raised by his parents, Cesar Julio Romero and Maria Mantilla, among Manhattan’s social elite. His maternal grandfather was the famed Cuban patriot Jose Marti (for whom Havana’s airport is named). Romero was first introduced to acting while attending Collegiate and Riverdale Country schools, where he starred in a stage production of The Merchant of Venice.

While still in his teens, Romero met fellow socialite Lisbeth Higgins, with whom he began a professional dance partnership. The couple performed in New York City’s nightclub and theatre circuit. Romero began his solo career as a dancer in a number of off-Broadway productions, before coming to Broadway as an actor. His early stage credits included Social Register, Stella Brady, and Dinner at Eight. Romero’s performance in the latter influenced MGM Studios to sign him to a short-term film contract.

Romero moved to Hollywood, where he made his film debut as a gigolo in the mystery The Thin Man (1934), starring William Powell and Myrna Loy. In the mid-30s (now under contract to Universal Studios), he appeared in a number of projects ranging from box office disasters like The Devil is a Woman (1935) to well-received comedies like Love Before Breakfast (1936).

In 1937, failed salary negotiations with Universal led Romero to sign with 20th Century Fox, where he would remain for the next 15 years. In the late 30s and early 40s, he was cast as the Cisco Kid in a handful of Westerns including, The Cisco Kid and the Lady (1939) and Viva Cisco Kid (1940).

With the onset of World War II, Romero temporarily shelved his film career in order to enlist in the U.S. Coast Guard. In 1947, after three years of service, he returned to acting with supporting roles in the musical romance Carnival in Costa Rica followed by the 16th-century epic The Captain from Castile, with Tyrone Power.

Romero’s credits during the 1950s and early 1960s included secondary parts in more memorable films. In the Oscar-winning adventure Around the World in 80 Days (1956), Romero was cast in a minor role alongside a stellar ensemble that included Shirley MacLaine, Buster Keaton, Marlene Dietrich, and John Gielgud. In 1960, he won another supporting role in the Rat Pack caper Ocean’s Eleven, featuring Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., Peter Lawford, and Joey Bishop.

For the duration of his career, Romero’s most notable projects were his television appearances. He attained pop icon status with his portrayal of the maniacal Joker in the 1966 television series Batman. Starring Adam West in the title role, Batman became an overnight sensation, boasting an impressive cast that included Burt Ward, Julie Newmar, Roddy McDowall, and Vincent Price.

During the 1970s, Romero played the recurring role of Freddie Prinze’s father on the NBC comedy series Chico and the Man. From 1985-88, his part as the patriarchal Peter Stavros on the primetime soap opera Falcon Crest introduced the seasoned Romero to a whole new generation of viewers.

With a body of work spanning more than seven decades and over a hundred film credits, Romero remained an active member in Hollywood’s social scene throughout his career. Although he never married, the self-described “Latin from Manhattan” was romantically linked to a number of women. On January 1, 1994, Romero died of a blood clot. He was 86 years old.

He believed that to live well you must dress well. And never in the same outfit. His closets held 30 tuxedos, 200 sports jackets, and 500 suits.

Cesar Romero – Style Icon.

Edith Head – Style Icon

If you are a fan of classic movies and pay attention to scenery and costuming, you already know Edith Head. She had THE influence on American style before clothing designers were known. A quick search for her on IMDB will soon have you realizing that her touch was added to most of the films that you know and love. Ladies and gentlemen, Edith Head. Style Icon

NAME: Edith Head
OCCUPATION: Fashion Designer
BIRTH DATE: October 28, 1897
DEATH DATE: October 24, 1981
PLACE OF BIRTH: San Bernardino, California
PLACE OF DEATH: Hollywood, California

BEST KNOWN FOR: Edith Head was one of the most prolific costume designers in 20th century film, winning a record eight Academy Awards.

Edith Head (born October 28, 1897) became chief designer at Paramount Pictures in 1933 and later worked at Universal. Hollywood’s best-known designer, her costumes ranged from the elegantly simple to the elaborately flamboyant. She won a record eight Academy Awards for her work in films such as All About Eve (1950), Roman Holiday (1953), and The Sting (1973).

She became chief designer at Paramount Pictures in 1933 and later worked at Universal. Hollywood’s best-known designer, she was noted for the wide range of her costumes, from the elegantly simple to the elaborately flamboyant. She won a record eight Academy Awards for her work in films such as All About Eve (1950), Roman Holiday (1953), and The Sting (1973).

As part of a series of stamps issued by the U.S. Postal Service in February 2003, commemorating the behind-the-camera personnel who make movies, Head was featured on one to honor costume design.

The band They Might Be Giants recorded the song “She Thinks She’s Edith Head,” which was included in the 1999 album Long Tall Weekend and the 2001 album Mink Car. The song is about a girl from the singer’s past, who had changed her persona to be more sophisticated, and compares her new attitude to Head and longtime Cosmopolitan editor-in-chief Helen Gurley Brown.

To many viewers of the 2004 Pixar/Disney computer-animated film The Incredibles, the personality and mannerisms of the film’s fictional superhero costume designer Edna Mode suggest a colorful caricature of Edith Head. Edna Mode’s sense of style, round glasses, and assertive no-nonsense character are very likely a direct homage to Head’s legendary accomplishments and personal traits. But the film’s director, Brad Bird, has not yet confirmed or denied this.

Personal Quotes:

“Your dresses should be tight enough to show you’re a woman and loose enough to show you’re a lady.” – Edith Head

“You can have whatever you want if you dress for it.” ― Edith Head

Shirley MacLaine – Style Icon

Are you obsessing over the possibilities of how incredible “Downton Abbey” is going to be because of Shirley MacLaine?  I know you are.  I love her in “Trouble With Harry” and “Sweet Charity” and “Postcards from the Edge” and “Terms of Endearment” and “Steel Magnolias” and on and on and on.NAME: Shirley MacLaine
OCCUPATION: Film Actress, Theater Actress, Television Actress, Ballet Dancer, Singer, Journalist
BIRTH DATE: April 24, 1934 (Age: 77)
PLACE OF BIRTH: Richmond, Virginia
ORIGINALLY: Shirley MacLean Beaty

BEST KNOWN FOR: American actress Shirley MacLaine is well known for leading role in the 1983 film Terms of Endearment, as well as her beliefs in reincarnation.

Shirley MacLean Beaty (known professionally as Shirley MacLaine; April 24, 1934) is an American film and theater actress, singer, dancer, activist and author, well-known for her beliefs in New Age spirituality and reincarnation. She has written a large number of autobiographical works, many dealing with her spiritual beliefs as well as her Hollywood career. In 1983, she won the Academy Award for Best Actress for her role in Terms of Endearment. She was nominated for an Academy Award five times before her win. Her younger brother is Warren Beatty but they have never appeared in the same film.

MacLaine made her film debut in Alfred Hitchcock’s The Trouble with Harry (1955), for which she won the Golden Globe Award for New Star Of The Year – Actress. In 1956, she had roles in Hot Spell and Around the World in Eighty Days. At the same time she starred in Some Came Running, the film that gave her her first Academy Award nomination – one of five that the film received – and a Golden Globe nomination.

Her second nomination came two years later for The Apartment, starring with Jack Lemmon. The film won five Oscars, including Best Director for Billy Wilder. She later said, “I thought I would win for The Apartment, but then Elizabeth Taylor had a tracheotomy”. She starred in The Children’s Hour (1961) also starring Audrey Hepburn, based on the play by Lillian Hellman. She was again nominated, this time for Irma la Douce (1963), for which she reunited with Wilder and Lemmon. Don Siegel, her director on Two Mules for Sister Sara (1970), in which she starred opposite Clint Eastwood, once said, “It’s hard to feel any great warmth to her. She’s too unfeminine and has too much balls. She’s very, very hard.”

In 1975, she received a nomination for Best Documentary Feature for her documentary film The Other Half of the Sky: A China Memoir. Two years later, she was once again nominated for The Turning Point co-starring Anne Bancroft, in which she portrayed a retired ballerina much like herself. In 1978, she was awarded the Women in Film Crystal Award for outstanding women who, through their endurance and the excellence of their work, have helped to expand the role of women within the entertainment industry. In 1980, she starred in A Change of Seasons alongside Anthony Hopkins. The pair famously didn’t get along and Hopkins said “she was the most obnoxious actress I have ever worked with.” In 1983, she won an Oscar for Terms of Endearment. The film won another four Oscars; one for Jack Nicholson and three for director James L. Brooks. In 1988, MacLaine won a Golden Globe for Best Actress (Drama) for Madame Sousatzka.

She continued to star in major films, such as Steel Magnolias with Julia Roberts and many other stars. She made her feature-film directorial debut in Bruno, MacLaine starred as Helen in this film, which was released to video as The Dress Code. In 2007, she completed Closing the Ring, directed by Richard Attenborough and starring Christopher Plummer. Other notable films in which MacLaine has starred include Sweet Charity (1968), Being There (1979) with Peter Sellers, Postcards From the Edge (1990) with actress Meryl Streep, playing a fictionalized version of Debbie Reynolds with a screenplay by Reynolds’s daughter, Carrie Fisher, Used People with Jessica Tandy and Kathy Bates, Guarding Tess (1994) with Nicolas Cage, Mrs. Winterbourne (1996), with actress and talk show host, Ricki Lake and actor Brendan Fraser, Rumor Has It… (2005) with Kevin Costner and Jennifer Aniston and In Her Shoes with Cameron Diaz.

MacLaine has also appeared in numerous television projects including an autobiographical miniseries based upon the book Out on a Limb, The Salem Witch Trials, These Old Broads written by Carrie Fisher and co-starring Elizabeth Taylor, Debbie Reynolds, and Joan Collins, and Coco, a Lifetime production based on the life of Coco Chanel. She also had a short-lived sitcom called Shirley’s World. She will be appearing in the third series of the British drama Downton Abbey as Martha Levinson, mother to Cora, Countess of Grantham.

MacLaine has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1165 Vine Street.

Shirley MacLaine on ‘Bernie,’ ‘Downton Abbey,’ and Her Lifetime Achievements

Shirley MacLaine on ‘Bernie,’ ‘Downton Abbey,’ and Her Lifetime Achievments – The Daily Beast.

At 78, MacLaine costars in the new movie ‘Bernie’ and will have an upcoming turn on ‘Downton Abbey.’ Lorenza Muñoz talked to her about her work ethic and why America is a disaster.

by Lorenza Muñoz

Shirley MacLaine had a few facts to go on when she accepted the part of Marjorie Nugent in Richard Linklater’s latest film, Bernie: It is based on a true story. Nugent was mean and nasty. She was a widow hated by most of the town of Carthage, Texas. She was rich and stingy.  She was murdered by her friend, the town mortician named Bernie Tiede.

Everything else was up to MacLaine to figure out. At first she said she hoped Linklater would give her more clues. But he was “ambiguous.”

“The first meeting was strange because he didn’t answer any of my questions,” said the 78-year-old Oscar winning actress. “I said, ‘Do you want me to look like her? What is the wardrobe like? Do I speak in that accent?’ I had to find my own way about everything. All of us were operating on our own.”

Linklater says he offered some advice and had many conversations with her. But knew he could give someone like MacLaine a lot of freedom. Besides, MacLaine was in communication with both main characters, Tiede from prison and Nugent from the great beyond.

“I am always trying to involve the actor in the creation of the character but everyone is different at how they arrive at that,” said Linklater, noting that MacLaine was the first person he thought of for the role in 1998 when he first read the story in Texas Monthly magazine. But she was too young at the time. “The key to Shirley is that she likes playing that side where people think she is a crazy old bitch. But then during the honeymoon period in the story, Shirley still has that twinkle in her eye and she is still very sexy.”

MacLaine also realized that uncertainty was a major theme in the dark comedy. Telling too much or delving too deep, would turn it into a drama.

“I realized he was making a picture about ambiguity,” she said. “Is Bernie guilty? Is he a murderer? Is he adorable? The whole secret of the comedy is not to go too far. If you go too far you don’t have ‘Springtime for Hitler.’ ”

As she speaks, her light blue eyes shoot out intelligence. Her finely penciled lips are a coppery brown, playing off her salmon-colored suit and her reddish hair. Her jewelry sparkles with diamonds and tanzanite, the color of the vision chakra, part red, part blue. When frustrated by a question, her lips purse, her eyes narrow in a flash of Aurora Greenway, her character for which she won her first and only Oscar in Terms of Endearment.

MacLaine, avid spiritualist and searcher, is comfortable with the unanswerable.

“I think you can have a work ethic about doing nothing,” she said.

One question she has been asking herself lately is why she and so many millions are fanatically gripped by the Masterpiece drama, Downton Abbey, in which she was recently cast. The publicity generated by her hiring prompted the producers of Downton to call her agent, ICM’s Jack Gilardi, to thank him.

“She is so professional and very creative,” said Gilardi, who has represented her for 20 years. “She has a great gift understanding people. She knows how to make you tingle.”

She had never seen the series—but after watching the first two seasons, she was hooked. Now, she is muzzled by creator Julian Fellowes’s edict that no one from the cast can talk about Season 3: MacLaine, who will play Martha Levinson, Lady Cora Crawley’s mother, could not offer much insight.

“Why is this a hit? I haven’t come up with the answer,” she said. “I think Maggie Smith is one answer. I liked Upstairs Downstairs, but not like this. It is really worth an examination.”

She is fond of pondering, and began asking deep questions like “What is this all about?’ ‘What is God?’ ‘Are we alone?’ ” at the age of 10.

Her father, an intellectual with a background in psychology and philosophy, engaged her questions by asking more questions, such as, if there is a God, then we must ask what it means.

And so she is perplexed by folks, like the people of Carthage, Texas, who don’t ask questions and are certain of the unknowable. The residents of the town would not believe that their beloved Bernie confessed to shooting Marge Nugent in the back four times in 1996 and then stuck her in a refrigerated cooler face down below the chicken pot pies.

“The townspeople of East Texas are like the Greek chorus in the movie,” said MacLaine. “The most interesting thing is that they refused to believe the truth. It is, I think, a sociologically important statement on East Texas. It is kind of like another country.”

For MacLaine, there is no border dividing show business and life. In life, we are our own costume designer, our own actor, distributor, producer, director, and writer, she says. During her current one-woman show, she compiles clips from her acting, dancing, and singing life together with her thoughts on meditation, reincarnation, UFOs, and chakras. At the end of the show there is a question-and-answer session and rarely do people ask about Hollywood.

“The questions are never about showbiz. They are about my books,” she said. “They get the compilation that life is show business. They understand that we are just actors strutting up on the stage, as the great man said.”

Perhaps because of her belief in life as show business, her holistic approach about her mind, body, and soul has spared her the fate of many of her contemporaries. She has avoided the pitfalls of fame, money, prescription pills, or drugs or alcohol that brought down many actresses of her generation. Since she believes in the laws of cause and effect, there are no accidents. She has outlived nearly all of her contemporaries.

In June, the American Film Institute will present her with a lifetime achievement award. It is an understatement to say she has achieved much. She has made more than 50 feature films, hung out with Frank, Dino, and Sammy; worked with directors such as Alfred Hitchcock, Billy Wilder, Hal Ashby, and James L. Brooks; costarred with luminaries like Jack Lemmon, Jack Nicholson, and Peter Sellers; received six Oscar nominations, with one win in 1983 for Terms of Endearment, and seven Golden Globes, including the Cecil B. DeMille Lifetime Achievement Award. She’s written several bestselling books, including her spicy tell all, I’m All Over That—and Other Confessions, last year. It will be challenging to fit her ceremony into two hours, said Bob Gazzale, chief executive of AFI.

“Perhaps more than any other recipient, with Shirley I would underline the word life,” he said. “It’s so much more than just movies. It’s been an epic journey and she has invited all of us to come along for the ride.”

Part of her journey at one time included politics. She was eager and fresh faced in 1972 when she traversed the country pumping up enthusiasm for George McGovern, along with her brother, Warren Beatty. Since then she has only backed one candidate, Ohio’s Dennis Kucinich. She is disillusioned by politics and dismisses the system as so corrupt it cannot be saved. She views America’s materialistic ways as a disaster, in the literal sense of Greek etymology: dis—meaning torn away from, and aster, the stars. Or, the separation from the spiritual.

Although she is highly disciplined, she says she is trying to stop being so goal oriented. It was a lesson she learned when she made her pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela, the route through Spain said to be taken by St. James in the ninth century. Instead of taking in the stars at night and relaxing through the voyage, she rushed through it to reach the end by a deadline.

“One reason I live in New Mexico is that there is no goal-oriented work ethic. I think you can have a work ethic about doing nothing,” she said. “In Santiago de Compostela, I learned we only need a pair of shoes, water, and a good hat. That is all you need in life.”

Cesar Romero – Style Icon

NAME: Cesar Romero
OCCUPATION: Film Actor, Theater Actor, Television Actor, Dancer
BIRTH DATE: February 15, 1907
DEATH DATE: January 01, 1994
EDUCATION: Collegiate School, Riverdale Country School
PLACE OF BIRTH: New York, New York
PLACE OF DEATH: Santa Monica, California

BEST KNOWN FOR: Actor and dancer Cesar Romero performed in movies from the ’30s through the ’60s. He became a pop culture icon in the 1966 Batman television series.

Actor, dancer. Born February 15, 1907, in New York City, to a prosperous Cuban family. Romero was raised by his parents, Cesar Julio Romero and Maria Mantilla, among Manhattan’s social elite. His maternal grandfather was the famed Cuban patriot Jose Marti (for whom Havana’s airport is named). Romero was first introduced to acting while attending Collegiate and Riverdale Country schools, where he starred in a stage production of The Merchant of Venice.

While still in his teens, Romero met fellow socialite Lisbeth Higgins, with whom he began a professional dance partnership. The couple performed in New York City’s nightclub and theatre circuit. Romero began his solo career as a dancer in a number of off-Broadway productions, before coming to Broadway as an actor. His early stage credits included Social Register, Stella Brady, and Dinner at Eight. Romero’s performance in the latter influenced MGM Studios to sign him to a short-term film contract.

Romero moved to Hollywood, where he made his film debut as a gigolo in the mystery The Thin Man (1934), starring William Powell and Myrna Loy. In the mid-30s (now under contract to Universal Studios), he appeared in a number of projects ranging from box office disasters like The Devil is a Woman (1935) to well-received comedies like Love Before Breakfast (1936).

In 1937, failed salary negotiations with Universal led Romero to sign with 20th Century Fox, where he would remain for the next 15 years. In the late 30s and early 40s, he was cast as the Cisco Kid in a handful of Westerns including, The Cisco Kid and the Lady (1939) and Viva Cisco Kid (1940).

With the onset of World War II, Romero temporarily shelved his film career in order to enlist in the U.S. Coast Guard. In 1947, after three years of service, he returned to acting with supporting roles in the musical romance Carnival in Costa Rica followed by the 16th-century epic The Captain from Castile, with Tyrone Power.

Romero’s credits during the 1950s and early 1960s included secondary parts in more memorable films. In the Oscar-winning adventure Around the World in 80 Days (1956), Romero was cast in a minor role alongside a stellar ensemble that included Shirley MacLaine, Buster Keaton, Marlene Dietrich, and John Gielgud. In 1960, he won another supporting role in the Rat Pack caper Ocean’s Eleven, featuring Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., Peter Lawford, and Joey Bishop.

For the duration of his career, Romero’s most notable projects were his television appearances. He attained pop icon status with his portrayal of the maniacal Joker in the 1966 television series Batman. Starring Adam West in the title role, Batman became an overnight sensation, boasting an impressive cast that included Burt Ward, Julie Newmar, Roddy McDowall, and Vincent Price.

During the 1970s, Romero played the recurring role of Freddie Prinze’s father on the NBC comedy series Chico and the Man. From 1985-88, his part as the patriarchal Peter Stavros on the primetime soap opera Falcon Crest introduced the seasoned Romero to a whole new generation of viewers.

With a body of work spanning more than seven decades and over a hundred film credits, Romero remained an active member in Hollywood’s social scene throughout his career. Although he never married, the self-described “Latin from Manhattan” was romantically linked to a number of women. On January 1, 1994, Romero died of a blood clot. He was 86 years old.

Alfred Hitchcock – Style Icon

My mother first introduced my sister and me to Alfred Hitchcock via the movies “Psycho” and “Rear Window” (we watched them after school quite often), she taught us to look for his cameos at the beginning of the films.  I am not exactly sure what age, I feel like I have always known him and I went on to read a Hardy Boys type of mysteries called “Three Investigators” that Hitchcock wrote the introductions to and even loved the old reruns of “Alfred Hitchcock Presents” on TV.  I have gone on to love both of those movies and have added The Trouble with Harry, Lifeboat, North by Northwest, To Catch a Thief, The Birds, Strangers on a Train, and The Man Who Knew Too Much to my list of favorite Hitchcock films.  How can you not fall in love with North by Northwest?  The color of the film, the cut of the clothes, the architecture, train travel.  The Trouble with Harry is so absurdly clever and Shirley MacLaine is absolute perfection.  Ladies and gentlemen, Alfred Hitchcock.  Style Icon.

NAME: Sir Alfred Joseph Hitchcock
OCCUPATION: Director, Producer, Television Personality, Screenwriter
BIRTH DATE: August 13, 1899
DEATH DATE: April 29, 1980
EDUCATION: St. Ignatius College, University of London
PLACE OF BIRTH: London, United Kingdom
PLACE OF DEATH: Bel Air, California

BEST KNOWN FOR: Alfred Hitchcock was an English film director known for his work in the suspense genre. He made over 60 films, nearly all commercial and critical successes.

Television has brought back murder into the home – where it belongs.

Sir Alfred Joseph Hitchcock, KBE (13 August 1899 – 29 April 1980) was a British film director and producer. He pioneered many techniques in the suspense and psychological thriller genres. After a successful career in British cinema in both silent films and early talkies, Hitchcock moved to Hollywood. In 1956 he became an American citizen, whilst remaining a British subject.

Over a career spanning more than half a century, Hitchcock fashioned for himself a distinctive and recognisable directorial style. He pioneered the use of a camera made to move in a way that mimics a person’s gaze, forcing viewers to engage in a form of voyeurism. He framed shots to maximise anxiety, fear, or empathy, and used innovative film editing. His stories frequently feature fugitives on the run from the law alongside “icy blonde” female characters. Many of Hitchcock’s films have twist endings and thrilling plots featuring depictions of violence, murder, and crime, although many of the mysteries function as decoys or “MacGuffins” meant only to serve thematic elements in the film and the extremely complex psychological examinations of the characters. Hitchcock’s films also borrow many themes from psychoanalysis and feature strong sexual undertones. Through his cameo appearances in his own films, interviews, film trailers, and the television program Alfred Hitchcock Presents, he became a cultural icon.

Hitchcock directed more than fifty feature films in a career spanning six decades. Often regarded as the greatest British filmmaker, he came first in a 2007 poll of film critics in Britain’s Daily Telegraph, which said: “Unquestionably the greatest filmmaker to emerge from these islands, Hitchcock did more than any director to shape modern cinema, which would be utterly different without him. His flair was for narrative, cruelly withholding crucial information (from his characters and from us) and engaging the emotions of the audience like no one else.” The magazine MovieMaker has described him as the most influential filmmaker of all-time, and he is widely regarded as one of cinema’s most significant artists.