Happy Birthday Ford Madox Ford

Today is the 141st birthday of writer, critic and publisher Ford Madox Ford.  I remember coming across his name back when I was heavy into my Lost Generation phase.  I was always so fascinated by the people who supported and promoted the struggling writers of the time.  The benefactors.  Ford sought out good writers to put in his literary reviews, writers who became friends.  He championed their work and was instrumental in their success.  I have always found those who take pride in their friend’s success and promote them unselfishly to be the best sort of people.  The world is a better place because he was in it and still feels the loss that he has left.

Name: Ford Madox Ford
Born: 17 December 1873
Place of Birth: Merton, Surrey, England
Died: 26 June 1939 (aged 65)
Place of Death: Deauville, France

Ford was born to Catherine and Francis Hueffer, the eldest of three; his brother was Oliver Madox Hueffer. His father, who became music critic for The Times, was German and his mother English. His paternal grandfather Johann Hermann Hüffer was first to publish the fellow Westphalian poet and author Annette von Droste-Hülshoff, a Catholic aristocrat. He used the name of Ford Madox Hueffer and in 1919 changed it to Ford Madox Ford (allegedly, in the aftermath of World War I because “Hueffer” sounded too German) in honour of his grandfather, the Pre-Raphaelite painter Ford Madox Brown, whose biography he had written. In 1894 he married his school girlfriend Elsie Martindale and together they had two daughters Christina (born 1897) and Katharine (born 1900). Between 1918 and 1927 he lived with Stella Bowen, an Australian artist twenty years his junior. In 1920 they had a daughter, Julia Madox Ford.

One of his most famous works is The Good Soldier (1915), a novel set just before World War I which chronicles the tragic lives of two “perfect couples” using intricate flashbacks. In the “Dedicatory Letter to Stella Ford”, his wife, that prefaces the novel, Ford reports that a friend pronounced The Good Soldier “the finest French novel in the English language!” Ford pronounced himself a “Tory mad about historic continuity” and believed the novelist’s function was to serve as the historian of his own time.

Ford was involved in British war propaganda after the beginning of World War I. He worked for the War Propaganda Bureau, managed by C. F. G. Masterman, with other writers and scholars who were popular during that time, such as Arnold Bennett, G. K. Chesterton, John Galsworthy, Hilaire Belloc and Gilbert Murray. Ford wrote two propaganda books for Masterman, namely When Blood is Their Argument: An Analysis of Prussian Culture (1915), with the help of Richard Aldington, and Between St Dennis and St George: A Sketch of Three Civilizations (1915).

After writing the two propaganda books, Ford enlisted at 41 years of age into the Welch Regiment on 30 July 1915, and was sent to France, thus ending his cooperation with the War Propaganda Bureau. His combat experiences and his previous propaganda activities inspired his tetralogy Parade’s End (1924–1928), set in England and on the Western Front before, during and after World War I.

Ford also wrote dozens of novels as well as essays, poetry, memoirs and literary criticism, and collaborated with Joseph Conrad on three novels, The Inheritors (1901), Romance (1903) and The Nature of a Crime (1924, although written much earlier). During the three to five years after this direct collaboration, Ford’s best known achievement was The Fifth Queen trilogy (1906–1908), historical novels based on the life of Katharine Howard, which Conrad termed, at the time, “the swan song of historical romance.” His poem, Antwerp (1915), was praised by T.S. Eliot as “the only good poem I have met with on the subject of the war”.

Ford’s novel Ladies Whose Bright Eyes (1911, extensively revised in 1935) is, in a sense, the reverse of Twain’s novel A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court.

In 1908, he founded The English Review, in which he published works by Thomas Hardy, H. G. Wells, Joseph Conrad, Henry James, May Sinclair, John Galsworthy and William Butler Yeats, and gave debuts to Wyndham Lewis, D. H. Lawrence and Norman Douglas. In 1924, he founded The Transatlantic Review, a journal with great influence on modern literature. Staying with the artistic community in the Latin Quarter of Paris, he befriended James Joyce, Ernest Hemingway, Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound and Jean Rhys, all of whom he would publish (Ford is the model for the character Braddocks in Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises). As a critic, he is known for remarking “Open the book to page ninety-nine and read, and the quality of the whole will be revealed to you.” George Seldes, in his book Witness to a Century describes Ford’s recollection of his writing collaboration with Joseph Conrad, and the lack of acknowledgment by publishers of his status as co-author. Seldes recounts Ford’s disappointment with Hemingway: “‘and he disowns me now that he has become better known than I am.’ Tears now came to Ford’s eyes.” Ford says, “I helped Joseph Conrad, I helped Hemingway. I helped a dozen, a score of writers, and many of them have beaten me. I’m now an old man and I’ll die without making a name like Hemingway.” Seldes observes, “At this climax Ford began to sob. Then he began to cry.”

Hemingway devoted a chapter of his Parisian memoir A Moveable Feast to an encounter with Ford at a café in Paris during the early 1920s.

During a later sojourn in the United States, he was involved with Allen Tate, Caroline Gordon, Katherine Anne Porter and Robert Lowell (who was then a student). Ford was always a champion of new literature and literary experimentation. In 1929, he published The English Novel: From the Earliest Days to the Death of Joseph Conrad, a brisk and accessible overview of the history of English novels. He had an affair with Jean Rhys, which ended acrimoniously.

Ford spent the last years of his life teaching at Olivet College in Michigan, and died in Deauville, France, at the age of 65.

Happy Birthday Alfred Eisenstaedt

Today is the 116th birthday of photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt.  You may not recognize his name, but you no doubt recognize the iconic work he did at Life Magazine, some of his images have made it into the collective American consciousness.  Some of his photographs are widely considered the most recognizable images of the 20th century.  For those reasons, you should know his name.  The world is a better place because Alfred was in it and still feels the loss that he has left.

NAME: Alfred Eisenstaedt
OCCUPATION: Photographer
BIRTH DATE: December 06, 1898
DEATH DATE: August 23, 1995
PLACE OF BIRTH: Dirschau, Poland
PLACE OF DEATH: Oak Bluffs, Massachusetts

Best Known For:  Alfred Eisenstaedt was German-born, U.S. photojournalist. He was one of the first four photographers hired by Life Magazine.

Alfred Eisenstaedt was born on December 6, 1898 in Dirschau, West Prussia. He became a professional photographer in Berlin and came under the influence of Erich Salomon. In 1935 he immigrated to New York City, where he became one of the first four photographers hired by Life Magazine. He contributed more than 2,500 picture stories and 90 cover photos to Life. He died in 1995.

Happy Birthday Hedy Lamarr

This week is the 100h birthday of achingly beautiful actress, brilliant scientist, author and compulsive shoplifter Hedy Lamarr.  She was married six times and slept with Hitler (so says a biographer).  She is an amazing example of everyone’s ability to have many interests and explore all of them.  The world is a better place because she was in it and still feels the loss that she has left.

NAME: Hedy Lamarr
OCCUPATION: Film Actor, Pin-up
BIRTH DATE: November 09, 1913
DEATH DATE: January 19, 2000
PLACE OF BIRTH: Vienna, Austria
PLACE OF DEATH: Orlando, Florida
ORIGINALLY: Hedwig Eva Maria Kiesler

BEST KNOWN FOR: Extraordinarily beautiful, Hedy Lamarr was a Austrian-American actress during MGM’s “Golden Age.”

Actress. Born Hedwig Eva Maria Kiesler, on November 9, 1913, in Vienna, Austria. Discovered by an Austrian film director as a teenager, she gained international notice in 1933, with her role in the sexy Czech film Ecstasy. After her marriage with Fritz Mandl, a wealthy Austrian munitions manufacturer, ended, she signed a contract with the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studio and began her career in Hollywood as Hedy Lamarr. Upon the release of her first American film, Algiers, co-starring Charles Boyer, Lamarr became an immediate box-office sensation.

Often referred to as one of the most gorgeous and exotic of Hollywood’s leading ladies, Lamarr made a number of well-received films during the 1930s and 1940s. Notable among them were Lady of the Tropics (1939), co-starring Robert Taylor; Boom Town (1940), with Clark Gable and Spencer Tracy; Tortilla Flat (1942), co-starring Tracy; and Samson and Delilah (1949), opposite Victor Mature. She was reportedly producer Hal Wallis’ first choice for the heroine in his classic 1943 film, Casablanca, a part that eventually went to Ingrid Bergman.

In 1942, during the heyday of her career, Lamarr earned recognition in a field quite different from entertainment. She and her friend, the composer George Antheil, received a patent for an idea of a radio signaling device, or “Secret Communications System,” that later became an important step in the development of technology to maintain the security of both military communications and cellular phones.

Lamarr’s film career began to decline in the 1950s; her last film was 1958’s The Female Animal, with Jane Powell. In 1966, she published a steamy best-selling autobiography, Ecstasy and Me, but later sued the publisher for what she saw as errors and distortions perpetrated by the book’s ghostwriter. She was arrested twice for shoplifting, once in 1966 and once in 1991, but neither arrest resulted in a conviction.

Lamarr was married six times and had two children, Anthony and Denise, with her third husband, the actor John Loder. She also adopted a son, James. In the later years of her life, Lamarr lived quietly in Orlando, Florida. She died on January 19, 2000, at the age of 86.

For her contribution to the motion picture industry, Hedy Lamarr has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6247 Hollywood Blvd.

In 2003, the Boeing corporation ran a series of recruitment ads featuring Hedy Lamarr as a woman of science. No reference to her film career was made in the ads.

Personal Quotes

“My problem is, I’m a hell of a nice dame, The most horrible whores are famous. I did what I did for love. The others did it for money.”

“Any girl can be glamorous. All you have to do is stand still and look stupid.”

FILMOGRAPHY AS ACTOR

The Female Animal (22-Jan-1958)
The Story of Mankind (8-Nov-1957) · Joan of Arc
My Favorite Spy (17-Dec-1951) · Lily Dalbray
Copper Canyon (22-Sep-1950)
A Lady Without Passport (3-Aug-1950) · Marianne Lorress
Samson and Delilah (31-Oct-1949) · Delilah
Let’s Live a Little (9-Dec-1948)
Dishonored Lady (16-May-1947) · Madeleine Damien
The Strange Woman (25-Oct-1946)
Her Highness and the Bellboy (11-Jul-1945) · Princess Veronica
Experiment Perilous (18-Dec-1944) · Allida Bederaux
The Conspirators (17-Oct-1944) · Irene Von Mohr
The Heavenly Body (29-Dec-1943) · Vicky Whitley
Crossroads (23-Jul-1942) · Lucienne Talbot
Tortilla Flat (21-May-1942) · Dolores Sweets Ramirez
White Cargo (1942) · Tondelayo
H.M. Pulham, Esq. (3-Dec-1941) · Marvin Myles
Ziegfeld Girl (25-Apr-1941) · Sandra Kolter
Come Live With Me (29-Jan-1941) · Johnny Jones
Comrade X (13-Dec-1940) · Theodore
Boom Town (30-Aug-1940) · Karen Vanmeer
I Take This Woman (2-Feb-1940) · Georgi Gragore
Lady of the Tropics (11-Aug-1939) · Manon DeVargnes
Algiers (28-Jun-1938) · Gaby
Ecstasy (20-Jan-1933)

From Kristallnacht to the Berlin Wall.

Today is the anniversary of Kristallnacht, the night in 1938 when German Nazis coordinated a nationwide attack on Jewish homes, businesses, and synagogues. The attack was inspired by the murder of a German diplomat by a Jew in Paris. When Hitler heard the news, he got the idea to stage a mass uprising in response. He and Joseph Goebbels contacted storm troopers around the country, and told them to attack Jewish buildings but to make the attacks look like spontaneous demonstrations. The police were told not to interfere with the demonstrators, but instead to arrest the Jewish victims. Fire fighters were told only to put out fires in any adjacent Aryan properties. Everyone cooperated.

In all, more than 1,000 synagogues were burned or destroyed. Rioters looted about 7,500 Jewish businesses and vandalized Jewish hospitals, homes, schools, and cemeteries. Many of the attackers were neighbors of the victims. The Nazis confiscated any compensation claims that insurance companies paid to Jews. They also imposed a huge collective fine on the Jewish community for having supposedly incited the violence. The event was used to justify barring Jews from schools and most public places, and forcing them to adhere to new curfews. In the days following, thousands of Jews were sent to concentration camps.

The event was called Kristallnacht, which means, “Night of Broken Glass.” It’s generally considered the official beginning of the Holocaust. Before that night, the Nazis had killed people secretly and individually. After Kristallnacht, the Nazis felt free to persecute the Jews openly, because they knew no one would stop them.

Also on this day in 1989, the leader of the East German Communist party made a quiet announcement that the Berlin Wall would be opened for “private trips abroad.” Within days, millions of East Germans flooded into West Berlin, and citizens began to pull the wall to pieces. Fireworks went off, people from all over Europe jammed the checkpoints and drank champagne, and the East German police and the West German police traded caps.

Happy Birthday Studs Terkel

It is the 102nd birthday of writer and broadcaster Louis “Studs” Terkel, born in the Bronx, New York . His family moved to Chicago when Terkel was 10 years old and his parents ran rooming houses. Terkel remembers all different kinds of people moving through the rooming houses — dissidents, labor organizers, religions fanatics — and that that exposure helped build his knowledge of the outside world.

Terkel said: “Why are we born? We’re born eventually to die, of course. But what happens between the time we’re born and we die? We’re born to live. One is a realist if one hopes.”

And, “With optimism, you look upon the sunny side of things. People say, ‘Studs, you’re an optimist.’ I never said I was an optimist. I have hope because what’s the alternative to hope? Despair? If you have despair, you might as well put your head in the oven.”

And, “I’ve always felt, in all my books, that there’s a deep decency in the American people and a native intelligence — providing they have the facts, providing they have the information.”

NAME: Studs Terkel
OCCUPATION: Radio Talk Show Host, Journalist
BIRTH DATE: May 16, 1912
DEATH DATE: October 31, 2008
EDUCATION: University of Chicago Law School
PLACE OF BIRTH: New York City, New York
PLACE OF DEATH: Chicago, Illinois
ORIGINALLY: Louis Turkel

BEST KNOWN FOR: Studs Terkel was an American radio personality, interviewer and author who is best remembered for his oral histories of common Americans.

Born May 16, 1912, New York City. Lois Terkel, commonly known as “Studs,” interviewed the common man, probing everyday people for personal narratives about their lives and the historic moments during which they lived. He was a master of pulling out peoples’ best stories, and as such, established oral history as a respected genre.

At the age of 10, Studs Terkel moved with his family to Chicago. Arriving in the Windy City his parents, Samuel and Anna, opened a rooming house which sheltered people from all walks of life. Terkel later credited his curiosity and comfort with the world’s people to the many tenants he met there. “The thing I’m able to do, I guess, is break down walls,” he once told an interviewer. “If they think you’re listening, they’ll talk. It’s more of a conversation than an interview.”

After earning a law degree from the University of Chicago in 1934, he married Ida Goldberg, to whom he stayed wed to the rest of his life. Terkel never pursued a career in law, but instead was hired by the radio division of the WPA’s Federal Writers Project. Before long, he was asked to read a script, play parts in radio soap operas, and read the news. After a short stint in the Air Force, he returned to Chicago and continued writing radio shows and ads.

In 1944, Terkel landed his own program on WENR, the Wax Museum Show. A kind of variety program, he used the time to share his love of folk music, jazz, blues, and any number of other audible curios. A year later, he had his own television show called Stud’s Place, an improvised sitcom where he began developing what later became his interviewing style. People listened and watched, finding his love for the every-man endearing and entertaining.

The Studs Terkel Show first aired on Chicago’s WFMT in 1952. Terkel mostly played music, but slowly introduced his listeners to interviews with both famous and unknown characters. The program eventually became the award-winning The Studs Terkel Program, which ran for 35 years.

In 1956, Terkel published his first book, Giants of Jazz. A decade later, he put out his first book of oral history interviews, Division Street: America, following it with a succession of oral history works. His book were mostly based on interviews with everyday Americans around a single topic. His 1985 book The Good War: An Oral History of World War Two, which detailed ordinary peoples’ accounts of the country’s involvement in World War II, won the Pulitzer Prize. His last oral history book, which came out just after his wife died, was Will the Circle Be Unbroken: Reflections on Death, Rebirth, and Hunger for a Faith (2001). Terkel continued to interview people and make public appearances into his 90s. His last book, P.S.: Further Thoughts from a Lifetime of Listening was released in November 2008.

Terkel died of health complications on October 31, 2008, after a fall in his home. He was 96 years old. Shortly before his death, he requested that his ashes be mixed with those of his wife, and scattered in Bughouse Square, a park near his childhood home. “My father lived a long, satisfying and fulfilling but tempestuous life,” Dan Terkel told the Chicago Tribune after his father’s passing. “It was a life well lived.”

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Happy Birthday Porfirio Rubirosa

Today is the 105th birthday of Porfirio Rubirosa.  I am not sure if The Smiths wrote the song about him, but I would like to think they did.

Born: January 22, 1909 San Francisco de Macorís, Dominican Republic
Died: July 5, 1965 (aged 56) Paris, France
Occupation: Diplomat, polo player, race car driver

LAST OF THE FAMOUS INTERNATIONAL PLAYBOYS

Porfirio Rubirosa Ariza (January 22, 1909 – July 5, 1965) was a Dominican diplomat and adherent of Rafael Trujillo. He made his mark as an international playboy, for his jet setting lifestyle, and his legendary prowess with women.  Among his spouses were two of the richest women in the world.

Rubirosa was married five times, but never had any children. His wives were:

  • Flor de Oro Trujillo, Rafael Trujillo’s daughter, December 3, 1932-38
  • Danielle Darrieux, French actress, September 18, 1942 – May 21, 1947
  • Doris Duke, American heiress, September 1, 1947 – October 1948; with marital gifts and final settlement he received an alimony ($25,000 per year until remarriage), a fishing fleet off Africa, several sports cars, a converted B-25 bomber (La Ganza), and a 17th Century house at Rue de Bellechasse, Paris.
  • Barbara Hutton, American heiress, December 30, 1953 – on or before March 14, 1954; in the settlement he received a coffee plantation in the Dominican Republic, another B-25, polo ponies, jewelry, and she paid him a reported $2.5 million.
  • Odile Rodin, French actress, age 19, October 27, 1956 – July 5, 1965 (his death)

Why he’s a style icon

Porfirio Rubirosa is the archetypal man’s man. He drove Ferraris at Le Mans, was a champion polo player, flew fighter planes from the South of France to South America for fun, married the two wealthiest women in the world back to back, and set the bar for all other Latin lotharios. While he stood only 5’9″, it was his manhood that made him a legend and the most desired man on the planet. He often described himself as half diplomat (which he actually was, after being appointed to numerous positions by Dominican dictator Generalissimo Trujillo, who happened to be Rubirosa’s first father-in-law) and half gigolo. While he was far too much of a gentleman to make mention of his now-legendary endowment, it is said that this alone caused women the world over to literally drag him into closets, bathrooms and under tables for a sample of what had entranced so many of the most beautiful and powerful women. He never held a steady job, and his goal was never to make money — but rather to spend it. Luckily, when a man can lay claim to romancing Barbara Hutton (a Woolworth heiress), Doris Duke (heiress to a tobacco and energy fortune), Zsa Zsa Gabor, Jayne Mansfield, Ava Gardner, Eva Peron, and countless other wealthy and powerful women, money tends to fall into one’s lap. Even his ex-wives were getting in on the action, as it is rumored that Rubirosa’s second wife, famed French actress Danielle Darrieux, received $1 million from Doris Duke to consent to a divorce so that she could lay a claim to Rubi herself. Has a woman ever paid someone $1 million to get a chance with you? Didn’t think so. At the age of only 47, Rubi died the night his team had won the Coupe de France polo cup. He died when his Ferrari skidded off the road and into a tree, and the steering column went through his heart. A true romantic even in death.

Dress the Rubirosa way

Rubirosa didn’t just act the part of Latin lover, he dressed the part. He was famously seen wearing thin three-piece suits of the finest quality, often with double-breasted jackets. His style of dress was equally influenced by the Latin flair that ran through his veins and the smooth, subtle cool of the Riviera. If you want to emulate Rubi you must remember that despite his generous endowment, he was not a showman and not a braggart, so the look must be quietly confident. In essence, he’s a prime example of “walk softly but carry a big stick.” One way to look like Rubi is to find a pink-gold Rolex like the one mentioned in American Psycho, but an even easier way is to buy a suit from Argentinean boutique Etiqueta Negra, whose polo-inspired flair would have certainly been a favorite of Rubi’s.

World War II, Rubirosa became engaged in two major passions, polo and car racing, both expensive sports that would be supported in years to come by his American wives. He organized and led his own polo team Cibao-La Pampa that was an often successful contender for the Coupe de France cup. Rubirosa played polo until the end of his life. In the same period, Rubirosa started to acquire fast cars and form friendships with race car drivers. He would own a number of Ferraris. His first race at 24 Hours of Le Mans took place in June 1950 with his partner Pierre Leygonie, and his second race, this time with Innocente Baggio, was four years later; in both races his car did not finish. Rubirosa participated in a number of races at Sebring, all but once as a private entry.

Rubirosa died early in the morning on July 5, 1965, when he crashed his Ferrari 250 GT into a chestnut tree and the steering column went through his heart after an all-night celebration at the Paris nightclub “Jimmy’s” in honor of winning the Coupe de France polo cup.  A true romantic even in death.

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Happy Birthday Cecil Beaton

Today is the 110th birthday of Cecil Beaton.  He could evoke every emotion with his camera.  His photographs are as breathtaking as they were the day they were taken and you feel like you are are part of them, you can feel the love, the sorrow, the loss, the opulence.  The world is a better place because of Cecil Beaton.

Born: January 14, 1904, London
Died: January 18, 1980, Broad Chalke
Parents: Etty Sissons, Ernest Walter Hardy Beaton
Education: St John’s College, Cambridge, Harrow School
Awards: Academy Award for Costume Design, Academy Award for Best Art Direction

Best Known ForSir Cecil Beaton was an English fashion photographer. He was also a diarist, interior designer and Academy Award-winning stage and costume designer.

Sir Cecil Beaton was an English fashion photographer. As a child, he adored the picture postcards of society ladies that came with the the Sunday newspaper. In the 1920s, he was hired as a staff photographer for Vanity Fair and Vogue, where he developed a unique style of posing sitters with unusual backgrounds. He was also a diarist, interior designer and Oscar-winning stage and costume designer.

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