Happy Birthday W. Somerset Maugham

Today is the 141st birthday of the writer W. Somerset Maugham.  I was given a copy of “The Razor’s Edge” quite a while ago by a former employer stating “this is one of my favorite books and novels.”  He meant that he liked the story and like the look of the book, physically.  The book was given to him by the matriarch of a very prominent Seattle family when she was closing up and selling off her properties on the San Juan Islands.  I still have it and I hope to do the same with it one day.  The world is a better place because he was in it and still feels the loss that he has left.

Born: 25 January 1874 UK Embassy, Paris, France
Died: 16 December 1965 (aged 91) Nice, France
Occupation: Playwright, novelist, short story writer
Notable works: Of Human Bondage, The Letter, Rain, The Razor’s Edge

Today is the birthday of W. Somerset Maugham, born in Paris (1874). His father was in Paris as a lawyer for the British Embassy. When Maugham was eight years old, his mother died from tuberculosis. His father died of cancer two years later. The boy was sent back to England into the care of a cold and distant uncle, a vicar. Maugham was miserable at his school. He said later: “I wasn’t even likeable as a boy. I was withdrawn and unhappy, and rejected most overtures of sympathy over my stuttering and shyness.” Maugham became a doctor and practiced in the London slums. He was particularly moved by the women he encountered in the hospital, where he delivered babies; and he was shocked by his fellow doctors’ callous approach to the poor. He wrote: “I saw how men died. I saw how they bore pain. I saw what hope looked like, fear and relief; I saw the dark lines that despair drew on a face; I saw courage and steadfastness. I saw faith shine in the eyes of those who trusted in what I could only think was an illusion and I saw the gallantry that made a man greet the prognosis of death with an ironic joke because he was too proud to let those about him see the terror of his soul.”

When he was 23, he published his first novel, Liza of Lambeth, about a working-class 18-year-old named Liza who has an affair with a 40-year-old married man named Jim, a father of nine. Jim’s wife beats up Liza, who is pregnant, and who miscarries, and dies. The novel was a big success, and Maugham made enough money to quit medicine and become a full-time writer. For many years, he made his living as a playwright, but eventually he became one of the most popular novelists in Britain. His novels include Of Human Bondage (1915), The Moon and Sixpence (1919), Cakes and Ale (1930), and The Razor’s Edge (1944).
Somerset Maugham said,

To acquire the habit of reading is to construct for yourself a refuge from almost all the miseries of life.

At a dinner party one should eat wisely but not too well, and talk well but not too wisely.

Dying is a very dull, dreary affair. And my advice to you is to have nothing whatever to do with it.

Excess on occasion is exhilarating. It prevents moderation from acquiring the deadening effect of a habit.

It was such a lovely day I thought it a pity to get up.

Happy Birthday David Lynch

Today is the 69th birthday of David Lynch.  He is the only living director that I will see anything he does.  He makes films that are so achingly beautiful and moderately disturbing that compel me to watch and re-watch them, every time, I see something new.  The world is a better place because he is in it.

NAME: David Lynch
OCCUPATION: Director
BIRTH DATE: January 20, 1946
PLACE OF BIRTH: Missoula, Montana

BEST KNOWN FOR:  David Lynch is a film director and screenwriter known for his dark, offbeat films, notable Blue Velvet and Eraserhead.

David Keith Lynch (born January 20, 1946) is an American filmmaker, television director, visual artist, musician and occasional actor. Known for his surrealist films, he has developed his own unique cinematic style, which has been dubbed “Lynchian“, and which is characterized by its dream imagery and meticulous sound design. The surreal, and in many cases violent, elements to his films have earned them the reputation that they “disturb, offend or mystify” their audiences.

Born to a middle class family in Missoula, Montana, Lynch spent his childhood traveling around the United States, before going on to study painting at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia, where he first made the transition to producing short films. Deciding to devote himself more fully to this medium, he moved to Los Angeles, where he produced his first motion picture, the surrealist horror Eraserhead (1977). After Eraserhead became a cult classic on the midnight movie circuit, Lynch was employed to direct The Elephant Man (1980), from which he gained mainstream success. Then being employed by the De Laurentiis Entertainment Group, he proceeded to make two films: the science-fiction epic Dune (1984), which proved to be a critical and commercial failure, and then a neo-noir crime film, Blue Velvet (1986), which was highly critically acclaimed.

Proceeding to create his own television series with Mark Frost, the highly popular murder mystery Twin Peaks (1990–1992), he also created a cinematic prequel, Fire Walk With Me (1992); a road movie, Wild at Heart (1990) and a family film, The Straight Story (1999), in the same period. Turning further towards surrealist filmmaking, three of his following films worked on “dream logic” non-linear narrative structures, Lost Highway (1997), Mulholland Drive (2001) and Inland Empire (2006). Meanwhile, Lynch proceeded to embrace the internet as a medium, producing several web-based shows, such as the animation Dumbland (2002) and the surreal sitcom Rabbits (2002).

In the course of his career, Lynch has received three Academy Award nominations for Best Director, and a nomination for best screenplay. Lynch has twice won France’s César Award for Best Foreign Film, as well as the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival and a Golden Lion award for lifetime achievement at the Venice Film Festival. The French government awarded him the Legion of Honor, the country’s top civilian honor, as a Chevalier in 2002 and then an Officier in 2007, while that same year, The Guardian described Lynch as “the most important director of this era”. Allmovie called him “the Renaissance man of modern American filmmaking”, whilst the success of his films have led to him being labelled “the first popular Surrealist.”

Lynch is an avid coffee drinker and even has his own line of special organic blends available for purchase on his website. Called “David Lynch Signature Cup”, the coffee has been advertised via flyers included with several recent Lynch-related DVD releases, including Inland Empire and the Gold Box edition of Twin Peaks. The possibly self-mocking tag-line for the brand is “It’s all in the beans … and I’m just full of beans.” This is also a quote of a line said by Justin Theroux’s character in Inland Empire.

TELEVISION
Twin Peaks Creator/Director (1990-91)
Twin Peaks FBI Chief Gordon Cole (1990-91)
On the Air Director/Writer/Producer (1992)
Hotel Room Director/Producer (1993)

FILMOGRAPHY AS DIRECTOR
Inland Empire (6-Sep-2006)
Rabbits (2002)
Mulholland Dr. (16-May-2001)
The Straight Story (21-May-1999)
Lost Highway (21-Feb-1997)
Lumière and Company (20-Dec-1995)
Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me (28-Aug-1992)
Wild at Heart (17-Aug-1990)
Industrial Symphony No. 1: The Dream of the Broken Hearted (1990)
Blue Velvet (19-Sep-1986)
Dune (14-Dec-1984)
The Elephant Man (3-Oct-1980)
Eraserhead (17-Mar-1977)

FILMOGRAPHY AS ACTOR
Harry Dean Stanton: Partly Fiction (4-Sep-2012) · Himself
Side by Side (Feb-2012) · Himself
Pearl Jam Twenty (10-Sep-2011) · Himself
Great Directors (19-May-2009) · Himself
Lynch (23-Jun-2007) · Himself
Midnight Movies: From the Margin to the Mainstream (13-May-2005) · Himself
Lumière and Company (20-Dec-1995) · Himself
Nadja (13-Sep-1994)
Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me (28-Aug-1992)
Zelly and Me (15-Apr-1988)

 

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Happy Birthday Cary Grant

Today is Cary Grant’s 111th birthday.  It is no secret I love Cary Grant.  The quote on the top of my blog is from him and applies to me as much as it applied to him.  I long to have a mid-century mid-atlantic accent, to have effortless style, and to have a wit as sharp as my wardrobe.  He is everything a woman wants to have and everything a man wants to be.  Some of my favorite Cary Grant movies are The Awful Truth, Bringing up Baby, Holiday, His Girl Friday, The Philadelphia Story, Arsenic and Old Lace, Notorious, The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer, Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House, People Will Talk, To Catch a Thief, Houseboat, North by Northwest, That Touch of Mink, Charade, and Father Goose.  I know, that is a long list and contains most of his movies, I said I loved him.  The world is a better place because Cary Grant was in it and still feels the loss that he has left.

 

NAME: Cary Grant
OCCUPATION: Film Actor
BIRTH DATE: January 18, 1904
DEATH DATE: December 29, 1986
PLACE OF BIRTH: Bristol, England
PLACE OF DEATH: Davenport, Iowa

BEST KNOWN FOR: Actor Cary Grant performed in films from the 1930s through the 1960s. He starred in several Hitchcock films, including the 1959 hit North by Northwest.

Born Archibald Alexander Leach, better known by his stage name Cary Grant, was an English actor who later took U.S. citizenship. Known for his transatlantic accent, debonair demeanor and “dashing good looks”, Grant is considered one of classic Hollywood’s definitive leading men.

Grant was named the second Greatest Male Star of All Time by the American Film Institute. Noted particularly for his work in comedy but also for drama, Grant’s best-known films include The Awful Truth (1937), Bringing Up Baby (1938), Gunga Din (1939), The Philadelphia Story (1940), His Girl Friday (1940), Arsenic and Old Lace (1944), Notorious (1946), To Catch A Thief (1955), An Affair to Remember (1957), North by Northwest (1959) and Charade (1963).

Nominated twice for the Academy Award for Best Actor, for Penny Serenade (1941) and None But the Lonely Heart (1944), and five times for a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor, Grant was continually passed over, and in 1970 was given an Honorary Oscar at the 42nd Academy Awards. Frank Sinatra presented Grant with the award, “for his unique mastery of the art of screen acting with the respect and affection of his colleagues”.

I’ve often been accused by the critics of being myself on the screen. But being oneself is more difficult than you’d suppose.

Grant was a favorite of Hitchcock, who called him “the only actor I ever loved in my whole life”. Besides Suspicion, Grant appeared in the Hitchcock classics Notorious (1946), To Catch a Thief (1955) and North by Northwest (1959). Biographer Patrick McGilligan wrote that, in 1965, Hitchcock asked Grant to star in Torn Curtain (1966), only to learn that Grant had decided to retire after making one more film, Walk, Don’t Run (1966); Paul Newman was cast instead, opposite Julie Andrews.

In the mid-1950s, Grant formed his own production company, Granart Productions, and produced a number of movies distributed by Universal, such as Operation Petticoat (1959), Indiscreet (1958), That Touch of Mink (co-starring with Doris Day, 1962), and Father Goose (1964). In 1963, he appeared opposite Audrey Hepburn in Charade. His last feature film was Walk, Don’t Run three years later, with Samantha Eggar and Jim Hutton.

American Masters Online presents a sampling of witticisms, one liners, and knock-out dialog from Cary Grant, the characters he played, and some of his best known co-stars.

BRINGING UP BABY
David Huxley: Now it isn’t that I don’t like you, Susan, because, after all, in moments of quiet, I’m strangely drawn toward you, but – well, there haven’t been any quiet moments.

THE PHILADELPHIA STORY
C. K. Dexter Haven: Sometimes, for your own sake, Red, I think you should’ve stuck to me longer.
Tracy Lord: I thought it was for life, but the nice judge gave me a full pardon.
C. K. Dexter Haven: Aaah, that’s the old redhead. No bitterness, no recrimination, just a good swift left to the jaw.

NORTH BY NORTHWEST
Roger Thornhill: Now you listen to me, I’m an advertising man, not a red herring. I’ve got a job, a secretary, a mother, two ex-wives and several bartenders that depend upon me, and I don’t intend to disappoint them all by getting myself “slightly” killed.

CHARADE
Regina Lampert: I already know an awful lot of people and until one of them dies I couldn’t possibly meet anyone else.
Peter Joshua: Well, if anyone goes on the critical list, let me know.

CARY GRANT ON CARY GRANT
“I pretended to be somebody I wanted to be until finally I became that person. Or he became me.”

“My formula for living is quite simple. I get up in the morning and I go to bed at night. In between, I occupy myself as best I can.”

“Everyone wants to be Cary Grant. Even I want to be Cary Grant.”

WHY HE’S A STYLE ICON

Selecting Cary Grant as a style icon is hardly groundbreaking. He’s considered by many to be the most influential dresser of all time. However, this dashing leading man wasn’t born on Hollywood’s red carpet. It all started when an uneducated Archibald Leach from working-class Bristol became a troupe-touring teenage stilt-walker in the U.S. and decided to permanently leave England behind to pursue a stateside stage career. Naturally, good looks didn’t hurt his case for being written into history’s fashion annals. However, it takes real bravado to completely reinvent yourself. Grant realized that in order to transform from a peon into a prince, he needed not only to change his name, but also to dress the part.

Grant’s initial fashion inspiration was fellow style icon Fred Astaire whose look was defined by bold, bright colors as well as an expert integration of the casual with the formal. In the end, you would be hard-pressed to find two men more opposite on the style spectrum. Grant eventually developed a subdued, monochromatic aesthetic where the focus was on fit and proportion rather than quirky color. The lines of his suits, shirts and shoes all blended together in harmony to draw your eye to the real moneymaker: his movie-star face. But like everyone else, Grant had some serious flaws, like a broad neck and oversize head. He often wore shirt collars turned up to disguise his neck, and his suits and topcoats were tailored with padded shoulders that were wide-set and squared-off to match the proportion of his massive mug. Turning flaws into fashion: that’s what sets Grant apart from everyone else.

DRESS THE GRANT WAY

You don’t need celebrity looks to learn a thing or two from Cary Grant. His sense of style is so revered that an entire book Cary Grant: A Celebration of Style is devoted to discussing it. You have to ask yourself: What could a man who became famous over half a century ago teach the modern guy about how to dress today? In short; everything. Cary Grant is a style icon because he is timeless and perhaps more relevant than ever in an age where slovenliness and bad behavior can lead to fame. Grant was definitely a suit-and-tie guy, and even his casual looks often included an ascot. However, every man — yes, even the bad boys — should own at least one good suit like the Topman Special Edition Grey Suit. Forget about color and pattern and look for a suit that simply fits your frame. A slimmer-cut jacket with equally trim trousers makes just about every guy look like a star regardless of the size and shape nature gave you. Grant typically opted for a single, inverted pant pleat, but a flat-front trouser is optimal for looking fit even if you’re lugging around a few extra pounds. Grant also wore his jacket sleeves high to expose about ¾ of an inch of bright white cuff. It’s a subtle detail, but striking enough that it almost reads as an accessory. It’s the mark of someone who truly understands fit and fine tailoring, and Grant did it all before celebrity stylists even existed.

 

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Happy Birthday David Bowie

Today is the 67th birthday of David Bowie.  His song “Ashes to Ashes” was playing on my iPhone and in my ears when I got a call from W telling me that J had died.  It is just a coincidence, but I think that J would be happy it wasn’t Hillary Duff.  Now, whenever I hear that song, even a cover of it, I think of J.  He has played a role in the soundtrack of many people’s lives for decades, including mine.  I remember doing rows and rows of floor exercise passes while “Let’s Dance” and “China Girl” played on what seemed a continual loop.  And then there is the David Bowie/Annie Lennox live version of Queen’s “Under Pressure” at the Freddy Mercury tribute concert.  That performance changed my life, became one of my anthems, and is very often in the periphery of my thoughts.  The world is a better place because David Bowie is in it.

NAME: David Bowie
OCCUPATION: Actor, Songwriter, Drummer, Guitarist, Pianist, Singer
BIRTH DATE: January 08, 1947
PLACE OF BIRTH: London, England
ORIGINALLY: David Robert Jones

BEST KNOWN FOR: David Bowie is an English rock musician who was incredibly innovative and popular during the 1970s. His distinctive voice and depth of work endures.

David Bowie (born David Robert Jones on 8 January 1947) is an English musician, actor, record producer and arranger. A major figure for over four decades in the world of popular music, Bowie is widely regarded as an innovator, particularly for his work in the 1970s. He is known for his distinctive voice and the intellectual depth and eclecticism of his work.

Bowie first caught the eye and ear of the public in July 1969, when his song “Space Oddity” reached the top five of the UK Singles Chart. After a three-year period of experimentation he re-emerged in 1972 during the glam rock era with the flamboyant, androgynous alter ego Ziggy Stardust, spearheaded by the hit single “Starman” and the album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars. Bowie’s impact at that time, as described by biographer David Buckley, “challenged the core belief of the rock music of its day” and “created perhaps the biggest cult in popular culture.” The relatively short-lived Ziggy persona proved merely one facet of a career marked by continual reinvention, musical innovation and striking visual presentation.

In 1975, Bowie achieved his first major American crossover success with the number-one single “Fame” and the hit album Young Americans, which the singer characterized as “plastic soul”. The sound constituted a radical shift in style that initially alienated many of his UK devotees. He then confounded the expectations of both his record label and his American audiences by recording the minimalist album Low (1977)—the first of three collaborations with Brian Eno over the next two years. The so-called “Berlin Trilogy” albums all reached the UK top five and garnered lasting critical praise.

After uneven commercial success in the late 1970s, Bowie had UK number ones with the 1980 single “Ashes to Ashes”, its parent album Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps), and “Under Pressure”, a 1981 collaboration with Queen. He then reached a new commercial peak in 1983 with Let’s Dance, which yielded several hit singles. Throughout the 1990s and 2000s, Bowie continued to experiment with musical styles, including blue-eyed soul, industrial, adult contemporary, and jungle. His last recorded album was Reality (2003), which was supported by the 2003–04 Reality Tour.

Buckley says of Bowie: “His influence has been unique in popular culture—he has permeated and altered more lives than any comparable figure.” In the BBC’s 2002 poll of the 100 Greatest Britons, Bowie was placed at number 29. Throughout his career, he has sold an estimated 140 million albums. In the UK, he has been awarded nine Platinum album certifications, 11 Gold and eight Silver, and in the US, five Platinum and seven Gold certifications. In 2004, Rolling Stone ranked him 39th on their list of the “100 Greatest Artists of All Time”, and 23rd on their list of the best singers of all-time.

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Happy Birthday Diane Ladd

Today is the 82nd Birthday of the amazing actress Diane Ladd.  Wiki and IMDB say her birth year is 1932 and Biography.com says it’s 1942.  It doesn’t matter.  She has has a long career full of amazing work, but if you only see one film, see “Wild at Heart.”  You will want to see everything she has ever done.

NAME: Diane Ladd
OCCUPATION: Film Actress
BIRTH DATE: November 29, 1932
EDUCATION: Louisiana State University
PLACE OF BIRTH: Laurel, Mississippi
ORIGINALLY: Rose Diane Ladnier

BEST KNOWN FOR: Diane Lane is a Golden Globe–winning actress of films and TV and the mother of actress Laura Dern.

Diane Ladd  is an American actress, film director, producer and published author. She has appeared in over 120 roles, on television, and in miniseries and feature films, including Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore (1974), Wild at Heart (1990), Rambling Rose (1991), Ghosts of Mississippi, Primary Colors, 28 Days (2000), and American Cowslip (2008). Twice divorced and currently married, Ladd is the mother of actress Laura Dern by ex-husband actor Bruce Dern.

Ladd was born Rose Diane Ladner in Meridian, Mississippi in 1932, the only child of Mary Bernadette (née Anderson; August 15, 1912 – May 23, 2002), a housewife and actress, and Preston Paul Ladner (August 14, 1906 – April 1982), a poulterer. Ladd is a second cousin of playwright Tennessee Williams and is also related to poet Sidney Lanier.  Ladd was raised in the Roman Catholic faith of her mother.

Ladd was formerly married to actor and one-time co-star Bruce Dern from 1960–1969; the couple had two children, Diane Elizabeth Dern and actress Laura Elizabeth Dern. Diane died at 18 months from head injuries caused by falling into a swimming pool.  Ladd and Laura Dern co-starred in the films Wild at Heart and Rambling Rose.  They also appeared together in Inland Empire, another film by David Lynch.  They currently co-star on the HBO series Enlightened. Ladd is now married to Robert Charles Hunter.

In 1971, Ladd joined the cast of the CBS soap opera, The Secret Storm.  She was the second actress to play the role of Kitty Styles on the long-running daytime serial.  She later had a supporting role in Roman Polanski’s 1974 film Chinatown, and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role for her role as Flo in the film Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore.  That film inspired the TV series Alice, in which Flo was portrayed by Polly Holliday.  When Holliday left the TV series, Ladd succeeded her as waitress Isabelle “Belle” Dupree.  In 1993, Ladd appeared in the episode “Guess Who’s Coming to Chow?” of the CBS comedy/western series Harts of the West in the role of the mother of co-star Harley Jane Kozak. The 15-episode program, set on a dude ranch in Nevada starred Beau Bridges and Lloyd Bridges.

In 2004, Ladd played psychic Mrs. Druse in the television miniseries of Stephen King’s Kingdom Hospital. In April 2006, Ladd released her first book entitled: Spiraling Through The School Of Life: A Mental, Physical, and Spiritual Discovery. In 2007, she co-starred in the Lifetime Television film Montana Sky.

In addition to her Academy Award nomination for Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore, she was also nominated (again in the Best Actress in a Supporting Role category) for both Wild at Heart and Rambling Rose, both of which she starred alongside her daughter Laura Dern.  Dern received a nomination for Best Actress for Rambling Rose. The dual mother and daughter nominations for Ladd and Dern in Rambling Rose marked the first time in Academy Award history that such an event had occurred.  They were also nominated for dual Golden Globe Awards in the same year.

Ladd has worked in the theatre as well. She made her Broadway debut in the play Carry Me Back to Morningside Heights in 1968. In 1976 she starred in the play, A Texas Trilogy: Lu Ann Hampton Laverty Oberlander, for which she received a Drama Desk Award nomination.

Happy Birthday John Fitzgerald Kennedy Jr.

Today is JFK Jr’s 54th birthday.  His father, the then President of The United States of America was assassinated a few days before his third birthday.  That is not an easy start for anyone, but being who he was, his every move was photographed.  A graph of the highs and lows in his life would be of earthquake-on-the-richter-scale proportions.  He is truly admirable and one of my personal Style Icons.  The world is a better place because JFK Jr was in it and still feels the loss that JFK Jr has left.

NAME: John Fitzgerald Kennedy Jr.
OCCUPATION: Publisher
BIRTH DATE: November 25, 1960
DEATH DATE: July 16, 1999
EDUCATION: Brown University, New York University Law School
PLACE OF BIRTH: Washington, DC
PLACE OF DEATH: New York

BEST KNOWN FOR: Later the publisher of political magazine George, JFK Jr. was the first child ever born to a president-elect, the son of JFK and Jacqueline Kennedy.

Born November 25, 1960, in Washington, D.C. The first child ever born to a president-elect, Kennedy was the second child born to John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy (later Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis). After President Kennedy was assassinated on November 22, 1963, little “John-John” won America’s hearts in that much photographed moment when, as just a small child, he bravely saluted his father’s casket. With looks inherited from his attractive parents, Kennedy, despite strict protection from his mother, was in the media spotlight his entire life as one of American journalists’ favorite subjects.

After flirting very briefly with a career in acting and graduating from Brown University and New York University Law School, Kennedy worked as an assistant district attorney in New York City and then quit to get into the business of journalism himself. In 1995, he launched the successful, hip political magazine, George. Although he certainly could have had a future in politics, he never entered the political arena, choosing instead to make his own way in the world — in publishing and in public service. (He did, however, leave the door open for running for office later in his life.) Known for his adventurous nature, he nonetheless took pains to separate himself from the more reckless antics and self-destructive impulses of some of the other men in the Kennedy clan.

Named “sexiest man alive” by People magazine in 1988, John F. Kennedy Jr. had been linked with numerous Hollywood celebrities including Madonna, Daryl Hannah, Julia Roberts, Brooke Shields, Sarah Jessica Parker and numerous models. Kennedy broke hearts across America when, in September 1996, he married his “soulmate” and longtime girlfriend Carolyn Bessette. The two shared a loft apartment in New York City’s TriBeCa neighborhood, where Kennedy was often seen roller-blading and biking on the city’s streets.

On July 16, 1999, Kennedy, Bessette-Kennedy, and her sister, Lauren Bessette, were flying to Martha’s Vineyard on a single engine private plane piloted by Kennedy, en route to his cousin Rory Kennedy‘s wedding in Hyannisport, Massachusetts. When their plane did not arrive as scheduled, massive search parties were sent out to locate the aircraft. Search efforts persisted throughout the following days, initially to no avail. Luggage and debris from the wreckage were found washed ashore the Gay Head section of Martha’s Vineyard, and the three passengers were eventually presumed dead. Across the nation, Americans mourned the loss of the beloved son of one of the country’s most admired families, and shared their sadness in the tragedies that seem to haunt them.

On July 21, search crews recovered the bodies of JFK, Jr., his wife and sister-in-law. The Kennedy and Bessette families planned a burial at sea for all three. A private mass for JFK Jr. and Carolyn, was held at the Church of St. Thomas More on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, where the late Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis worshipped; it was attended by President and Mrs. Clinton.

Kennedy was survived by his uncle, Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy, and his sister, Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg, as well as a number of cousins. Struggling from lack of advertising support (although circulation was growing), Kennedy’s George magazine ceased publication in early 2001.

Happy Birthday Kay Thompson

This week is the 105th birthday of Kay Thompson.  I mean, have you seen that “Swing Them Bells” scene in Funny Face?  It is everything.  Or that other other “Think Pink” scene?  She is channeling her best Diana Vreeland. The world is a better place because Kay Thompson was in it and still feels the loss that she has left.

Born: Catherine Louise Fink November 9, 1909 St. Louis, Missouri, U.S.
Died: July 2, 1998 (aged 88) New York City, New York, U.S.

Catherine Louise Fink was born in St. Louis, Missouri in 1909, the second of the four children of Leo George Fink, an Austrian-born pawnbroker and jeweler, and his wife, the former Hattie A. Tetrick. Her siblings were Blanche, Marian, and Leo.

Thompson began her career in the 1930s as a singer and choral director for radio. Her first big break was as a regular singer on The Bing Crosby-Woodbury Show (CBS, 1933–34). This led to a regular spot on The Fred Waring-Ford Dealers Show (NBC, 1934–35) and then, with conductor Lennie Hayton, she co-founded The Lucky Strike Hit Parade (CBS, 1935) where she met (and later married) trombonist Jack Jenney.

In 1943, Thompson signed an exclusive contract with MGM to become the studio’s top vocal arranger, vocal coach, and choral director. She served as main vocal arranger for many of producer Arthur Freed’s MGM musicals and as vocal coach to such stars as Judy Garland, Lena Horne, Frank Sinatra, and June Allyson.

Thompson, who lived at the Plaza Hotel in New York City, became most notable as the author of the Eloise series of children’s books, which were partly inspired by the antics of her goddaughter Liza Minnelli, daughter of Judy Garland and film director Vincente Minnelli, but when asked if this was true responded, “I am Eloise”. The four books in the series, illustrated by Hilary Knight, are Eloise (Simon & Schuster, 1955), Eloise in Paris (Simon & Schuster, 1957), Eloise at Christmastime (Random House, 1958) and Eloise in Moscow (Simon & Schuster, 1959). They follow the adventures of the precocious six-year-old girl who lives at The Plaza. All were bestsellers upon release and have been adapted into television projects. She also composed and performed a Top 40 hit song, “Eloise” (Cadence Records, 1956). A fifth book, Eloise Takes a Bawth was posthumously published by Simon & Schuster in 2002, culled from Thompson’s original manuscripts once slated for 1964 publication by Harper & Row. However, at the time, Thompson was burned out on Eloise; she blocked publication and took all but the first book out of print, drastically reducing the income of her collaborator.

She returned to live in New York in 1969. Immediately following the death of Judy Garland, Kay appeared with her goddaughter Liza Minnelli in Otto Preminger’s Tell Me That You Love Me, Junie Moon (Paramount, 1970). In 1974, Thompson directed a groundbreaking fashion show at the Palace of Versailles featuring performances by Liza Minnelli and the collections of Halston, Bill Blass, Oscar de la Renta, and Anne Klein.