Happy 126th Birthday Man Ray


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Today is the 126th birthday of the photographer Man Ray. You recognize his images, they are iconic. I think what I most love about them is their timelessness, a lot of his contemporaries have great photographs, but you can pinpoint them to a specific decade. The world is a better place because he was in it and still feels the loss that he has left.

man ray 1NAME: Man Ray
OCCUPATION: Painter, Photographer, Filmmaker
BIRTH DATE: August 27, 1890
DEATH DATE: November 18, 1976
PLACE OF BIRTH: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
PLACE OF DEATH: Paris, France
ORIGINALLY: Emmanuel Radnitzky
REMAINS: Buried, Cimetière du Montparnasse, Paris, France

BEST KNOWN FOR: Man Ray was primarily known for his photography, which spanned both the Dada and Surrealism movements.

Born Emmanuel Rudnitzky, visionary artist Man Ray was the son of Jewish immigrants from Russia. His father worked as a tailor. The family moved to Brooklyn when Ray was a young child. From an early year, Ray showed great artistic ability. After finishing high school in 1908, he followed his passion for art; he studied drawing with Robert Henri at the Ferrer Center, and frequented Alfred Stieglitz‘s gallery 291. It later became apparent that Ray had been influenced by Stieglitz’s photographs. He utilized a similar style, snapping images that provided an unvarnished look at the subject.

Ray also found inspiration at the Armory Show of 1913, which featured the works of Pablo Picasso, Wassily Kandinsky and Marcel Duchamp. That same year, he moved to a burgeoning art colony in Ridgefield, New Jersey. His work was also evolving. After experimenting with a Cubist style of painting, he moved toward abstraction.

In 1914, Ray married Belgian poet Adon Lacroix, but their union fell apart after a few years. He made a more lasting friendship around this time, becoming close to fellow artist Marcel Duchamp.

Along with Duchamp and Francis Picabia, Ray became a leading figure in the Dada movement in New York. Dadaism, which takes its name from the French nickname for a rocking horse, challenged existing notions of art and literature, and encouraged spontaneity. One of Ray’s famous works from this time was “The Gift,” a sculpture that incorporated two found objects. He glued tacks to the work surface of an iron to create the piece.

In 1921, Ray moved to Paris. There, he continued to be a part of the artistic avant garde, rubbing elbows with such famous figures as Gertrude Stein and Ernest Hemingway. Ray became famous for his portraits of his artistic and literary associates. He also developed a thriving career as a fashion photographer, taking pictures for such magazines as Vogue. These commercial endeavors supported his fine art efforts. A photographic innovator, Ray discovered a new way to create interesting images by accident in his darkroom. Called “Rayographs,” these photos were made by placing and manipulating objects on pieces of photosensitive paper.

One of Ray’s other famous works from this time period was 1924’s “Violin d’Ingres.” This modified photograph features the bare back of his lover, a performer named Kiki, styled after a painting by neoclassical French artist Jean August Dominique Ingres. In a humorous twist, Ray added to two black shapes to make her back look like a musical instrument. He also explored the artistic possibilities of film, creating such now classic Surrealistic works as L’Etoile de Mer (1928). Around this time, Ray also experimented with a technique called the Sabatier effect, or solarization, which adds a silvery, ghostly quality to the image.

Ray soon found another muse, Lee Miller, and featured her in his work. A cut-out of her eye is featured on the 1932 found-object sculpture “Object to Be Destroyed,” and her lips fill the sky of “Observatory Time” (1936). In 1940, Ray fled the war in Europe and moved to California. He married model and dancer Juliet Browner the following year, in a unique double ceremony with artist Max Ernst and Dorothea Tanning.

Returning to Paris in 1951, Ray continued to explore different artistic media. He focused much of his energy on painting and sculpture. Branching out in a new direction, Ray began writing his memoir. The project took more than a decade to complete, and his autobiography, Self Portrait, was finally published in 1965.

In his final years, Man Ray continued to exhibit his art, with shows in New York, London, Paris and other cities in the years before his death. He passed away on November 18, 1976, in his beloved Paris. He was 86 years old. His innovative works can be found on display in museums around the world, and he is remembered for his artistic wit and originality. As friend Marcel Duchamp once said, “It was his achievement to treat the camera as he treated the paint brush, as a mere instrument at the service of the mind.”

Entr’acte (1924)

Source: Man Ray – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Source: Man Ray Biography, Art, and Analysis of Works | The Art Story

Source: Man Ray (Getty Museum)

Source: Man Ray – Painter, Filmmaker, Photographer – Biography.com

Source: Man Ray

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Happy Birthday River Phoenix


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Today is the 46th birthday of the actor and activist River Phoenix. We are the same age and I even saw him once. He is in my favorite Indiana Jones film and my favorite Gus van Sant film My Own Private Idaho. He filmed a movie in Tacoma’s North End and we heard rumors of him being at this coffee shop and sightings her and there, but I never actually saw him. Years later, I did get an autograph (my only autograph of any kind) from his one-time girlfriend and The Goonies alumna Martha Plimpton. It’s written on a Barneys New York thank you card and simply says “screw you!”  The world is a better place because he was in it and still feels the loss that he has left.

river phoenix 3NAME: River Phoenix
BIRTH DATE: August 23, 1970
DEATH DATE: October 31, 1993
PLACE OF BIRTH: Madras, Oregon
PLACE OF DEATH: West Hollywood, California

BEST KNOWN FOR: River Phoenix was an Academy Award nominee and promising young actor who died at the young age of 23 from a drug overdose.

Actor, activist. Born River Jude Bottom on August 23, 1970, in Madras, Oregon. Considered one of the most talented actors of his generation, River Phoenix had his promising career cut short by his premature death in 1993. He was born on a farm where his parents, John Lee Bottom and Arlyn Dunetz, were working. The couple followed a bohemian lifestyle, moving around a lot with their infant son. They named their son after the river of life in Hermann Hesse’s book Siddhartha.

In 1972, the Bottoms took their lives in a new direction, joining the Children of God religious movement. Phoenix became a big brother when the couple had second child, a daughter named Rain, that same year. As missionaries for the Children of God, the Bottoms lived in Texas, Mexico, Puerto Rico, and Venezuela. Phoenix gained two more siblings during this time—brother Joaquin and sister Liberty. (Sister Summer was born later.)

As a young child, Phoenix learned to play guitar and sing. River and Rain performed on the streets in Caracas, Venezuela, to earn money and pass out literature on their religious beliefs. His parents eventually became disillusioned with their religious group and decided to leave it and return to the United States in 1978. They spent time in Florida where Phoenix and some of the other children performed in talent shows and started to attract attention for their musical and acting abilities.

Before long, Phoenix and his family moved out to California to try to make in the entertainment industry. His mother found an agent to represent all of the children and got a job working as a secretary at NBC. At first, Phoenix landed a few commercials. He then got a role as the youngest brother on the television series Seven Brides for Seven Brothers in 1982. While the show only lasted one season, Phoenix continued to work, making a number of guest spots on other shows, such as Hotel and Family Ties. He also had a notable role in the 1985 television movie Surviving.

That same year, Phoenix made his film debut playing a young inventor in Explorers (1985) with Ethan Hawke. His next film, however, led to a career breakthrough. In Stand by Me (1986), four friends (Phoenix, Wil Wheaton, Corey Feldman, and Jerry O’Connell) set out to find the body of a missing teenager. Phoenix earned raves for his performance as a youth with a troubled home life in this coming-of-age adventure drama based on a novella by Stephen King.

Phoenix next appeared as Harrison Ford’s son in The Mosquito Coast (1986), which received mixed reviews. In 1988, he appeared in a trio of films: Little Nikita, A Night in the Life of Jimmy Reardon, and Running on Empty. Of the three, Running on Empty was the most critically successful. Phoenix played the son of 60s radicals (Christine Lahti and Judd Hirsch) who went underground after blowing up a building, accidentally killing someone in the process. In the film, his character is a musically gifted teenager who must decide between staying with his family on the run and leaving them to follow his own dreams. His girlfriend in the film was played by Martha Plimpton, and she and Phoenix became involved off-screen as well. Directed by Sydney Lumet, the film earned many accolades with critic Roger Ebert calling it “one of the best films of the year.” Phoenix received his first and only Academy Award nomination for his work on the film.

Phoenix reteamed with Harrison Ford for the 1989 box office hit Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, which was directed by Steven Spielberg. In the film, he played the famed adventurer in his youth. After this brief sojourn into the action genre, Phoenix tried his hand at comedy with I Love You to Death (1990). His character helps a scorned wife (Tracey Ullman) try to bump off her cheating husband (Kevin Kline) and even hires two drug-addled henchmen (William Hurt and Keanu Reeves) to assist in the task.

Tackling much more weighty material, Phoenix co-starred with Reeves in Gus Van Sant’s My Own Private Idaho (1991). He played a narcoleptic male prostitute who wants to find his long-lost mother and develops a special friendship with a fellow hustler (Keanu Reeves). Phoenix earned strong reviews for his riveting performance in the film. That same year, he proved to be equally compelling and convincing as a Marine just about to go to Vietnam in Dogfight (1991) with Lili Taylor.

Phoenix took a supporting role in the comedic thriller Sneakers (1992) and proved that he could hold his own on screen with such established performers as Robert Redford, Sidney Poitier, and David Strathairn. Acting, however, was just one part of Phoenix’s life. A strong supporter of animal rights, he became a vegetarian at the age of 8. “When I was old enough to realize all meat was killed, I saw it as an irrational way of using our power, to take a weaker thing and mutilate it,” Phoenix told The New York Times in 1989. He became a devout vegan, eschewing all dairy products because of how the animals were treated. An ardent environmentalist, Phoenix supported such organizations as Earth Save and Earth Trust.

Music was another one of Phoenix’s passions. With his sister Rain, he formed the band Aleka’s Attic. He wrote many songs for the group, which recorded a few tracks but never released an album. With The Thing Called Love (1993), Phoenix got a chance to combine acting with music, playing a singer wants to make it in Nashville. He even contributed one of his own songs to the soundtrack. The film also starred Samantha Mathis as his love interest, and the two started dating.

For his last completed film, Phoenix starred with Alan Bates, Richard Harris, and Dermot Mulroney in director Sam Shepard’s western Silent Tongue (1994). He had started work on Dark Blood with Jonathan Pryce and Judy Davis when tragedy struck. During a break in filming, Phoenix went out to the Viper Room, a popular nightclub that was partly owned by Johnny Depp, with his brother Joaquin, his sister Rain, and his girlfriend Samantha Mathis.

At some point during the evening, Phoenix took a cocktail of drugs and became seriously ill. He was helped outside and began to have seizures. His brother Joaquin called 911 while his sister Rain tried to help Phoenix who was lying on the sidewalk. When the ambulance arrived, paramedics worked on resuscitating the young actor at the scene. Their efforts failed, and they transported him to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center where he was declared dead in the early hours of October 31, 1993.

On November 12, the Los Angeles County coroner’s report revealed that Phoenix died from “acute multiple drug intoxication” including deadly amounts of cocaine and morphine. Traces of marijuana, prescription Valium and an over-the-counter cold medicine, were also found in his system. His death was ruled an accident and no foul play was involved.

Family, friends, and fans mourned the untimely passing of the talented young star. He was only 23 years old. After his death, Harrison Ford said “He once played my son, and I came to love him like a son, and was proud to watch grow into a man of such talent and integrity and compassion,” according to The New York Times. A memorial service was held for Phoenix and his ashes were scattered at the family’s Florida ranch.

Dark Blood (27-Sep-2012)
Silent Tongue (1-Feb-1994) · Talbot Roe
The Thing Called Love (16-Jul-1993) · James Wright
Sneakers (9-Sep-1992) · Carl
Dogfight (13-Sep-1991) · Birdlace
My Own Private Idaho (12-Sep-1991)
I Love You to Death (6-Apr-1990) · Devo
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (24-May-1989)
Running on Empty (7-Sep-1988) · Danny Pope
Little Nikita (18-Mar-1988) · Jeff Grant
A Night in the Life of Jimmy Reardon (27-Feb-1988) · Jimmy Reardon
The Mosquito Coast (20-Nov-1986)
Stand By Me (8-Aug-1986) · Chris Chambers
Explorers (12-Jul-1985)
Surviving (10-Feb-1985)
Backwards: The Riddle of Dyslexia (7-Mar-1984)
Celebrity (12-Feb-1984)

Source: River Phoenix

Source: River Phoenix – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Source: Promising actor River Phoenix dies at 23 in 1993 – NY Daily News

Source: River Phoenix – Film Actor – Biography.com

Source: River Phoenix’s Tragic Overdose: Dan Aykroyd Warned Him About Heroin Dependency | Vanity Fair

Source: ‘Last Night at the Viper Room’: The Life and Death of River Phoenix – Rolling Stone

Source: River Phoenix

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Source: The Clash

Happy 123rd Birthday Dorothy Parker


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Today is the 123rd birthday of Dorothy Parker.  Her poem “Telephone” is something everyone has felt, if they want to admit it or not. She had the wit of three people and the alcohol tolerance to match.  The world is a better place because she was in it and still feels the loss that she has left.

dorothy parker

NAME: Dorothy Parker
OCCUPATION: Civil Rights Activist, Journalist, Poet
BIRTH DATE: August 22, 1893
DEATH DATE: June 07, 1967
PLACE OF BIRTH: West End, New Jersey
PLACE OF DEATH: New York, New York

BEST KNOWN FOR: Dorothy Parker was the sharpest wit of the Algonquin Round Table, as well as a master of short fiction and a blacklisted screenwriter.

Razors pain you; Rivers are damp;
Acids stain you; And drugs cause cramp.
Guns aren’t lawful; Nooses give;
Gas smells awful; You might as well live.

Journalist, writer, and poet. Born Dorothy Rothschild on August 22, 1893, in West End, New Jersey. Dorothy Parker was a legendary literary figure, known for her biting wit. She worked on such magazines as Vogue andVanity Fair during the late 1910s. Parker went on to work as a book reviewer for The New Yorker in the 1920s. A selection of her reviews for this magazine was published in 1970 as Constant Reader, the title of her column. She remained a contributor to The New Yorker for many years; the magazine also published a number of her short stories. One of her most popular stories, “Big Blonde,” won the O. Henry Award in 1929.In addition to her writing, Dorothy Parker was a noted member of the New York literary scene in 1920s. She formed a group called the Algonquin Round Table with writer Robert Benchley and playwright Robert Sherwood. This artistic crowd also included such members as The New Yorker founder Harold Ross, comedian Harpo Marx, and playwright Edna Ferber among others. The group took its name from its hangout—the Algonquin Hotel, but also also known as the Vicious Circle for the number of cutting remarks made by its members and their habit of engaging in sharp-tongued banter.

During the 1930s and 1940s, Dorothy Parker spent much of her time in Hollywood, California. She wrote screenplays with her second husband Alan Campbell, including the 1937 adaptation of A Star Is Born and the 1942 Alfred Hitchcock film Saboteur. In her personal life, she had become politically active, supporting such causes as the fight for civil rights. She also was involved with the Communist Party in the 1930s. It was this association that led to her being blacklisted in Hollywood.

While her opportunities in Hollywood may have dried up, Dorothy Parker was still a well-regarded writer and poet. She even went on to write a play entitled Ladies of the Corridor in 1953. Parker returned to New York City in 1963, spending her last few years in fragile condition. She died on June 7, 1967.

The Flaw in Paganism

Drink and dance and laugh and lie,
Love, the reeling midnight through,
For tomorrow we shall die!
(But, alas, we never do.

Author of books:
Enough Rope (1926, poetry)
Sunset Gun (1928)
Laments for the Living (1930, short stories)
Death and Taxes (1932)
After Such Pleasures (1933, short stories)
Collected Poems, Not So Deep as a Well (1936, poetry)
Here Lies (1939, short stories)
The Ladies of the Corridor (1952, with Arnaud d’Usseau)

Source: Dorothy Parker – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Source: Dorothy Parker – Civil Rights Activist, Poet, Journalist – Biography.com

Source: Paris Review – The Art of Fiction No. 13, Dorothy Parker

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Happy 64th Birthday Joe Strummer


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Today is the 64 birthday of the singer, songwriter, actor, activist, and humanitarians that is quoted as saying The future is unwritten: Joe Strummer. Picking a favorite The Clash song is impossible, listing them is lengthy, remembering them and listening to them is important. The trajectory of his life is beautiful. Angry punk to humanitarian. I love a life story where you can look at the beginning and the end and know he was active, productive, thoughtful, and worked through some shit. The world is a better place because he is in it and still feels the loss that he has left.

joe strummer 1NAME: Joe Strummer
OCCUPATION: Guitarist, Songwriter, Singer
BIRTH DATE: August 21, 1952
DEATH DATE: December 22, 2002
EDUCATION: Central School of Art in London
PLACE OF BIRTH: Ankara, Turkey
PLACE OF DEATH: Broomfield, Somerset, England
ORIGINALLY: John Graham Mellor

BEST KNOWN FOR: Joe Strummer was a British singer, songwriter and guitarist best known as the co-founder and member of the punk rock band The Clash.

Singer, songwriter and musician John Graham Mellor, better known as Joe Strummer, was born in Ankara, Turkey, on August 21, 1952. Strummer is best known as the frontman of the legendary punk band, The Clash. He was born to Ronald Ralph Mellor, a British diplomat, and Anna Mackenzie. In his early childhood, his family lived in Ankara, Turkey; Bonn, Germany; Cairo, Egypt and Mexico City, Mexico before settling in Surrey, a suburb of London in 1959.

Strummer was sent to boarding school and generally only saw his parents during summer breaks. During his school years, Strummer discovered and was inspired by rock ‘n’ roll music. Early influences included The Rolling Stones, Chuck Berry, and Captain Beefheart. It was during this time that he changed his name to Woody, as a homage to American folk icon Woody Guthrie.

Strummer attended London’s Central School Of Art in September 1970 and immersed himself in films, music, and literature. Rock music became his consuming passion and he grew disillusioned with formal education. In 1974, Strummer formed the band The 101’ers. They played their first gig at Elgin’s Pub in May 1975. It was during this period that he changed his name again—this time to Joe Strummer—to reflect his new guitar style.

And so now I’d like to say – people can change anything they want to. And that means everything in the world. People are running about following their little tracks – I am one of them. But we’ve all got to stop just following our own little mouse trail. People can do anything – this is something that I’m beginning to learn. People are out there doing bad things to each other. That’s because they’ve been dehumanized. It’s time to take the humanity back into the center of the ring and follow that for a time. Greed, it ain’t going anywhere. They should have that in a big billboard across Times Square. Without people you’re nothing. That’s my spiel.

In early 1976, the 101’ers played a couple of gigs with The Sex Pistols as an opening act. The shows with The Sex Pistols would propel Strummer into the emerging punk rock scene in London, and gain the attention of musicians Mick Jones and Paul Simonon, who were in the audience. The three men would coincidently cross paths the next week while in the unemployment line at the Lisson Grove Dole Office.

Jones, Simonon and Strummer were formally introduced a short time later by friend, and eventual manager, Bernie Rhodes. It was during this introduction that The Clash was formed—their name was derived from how often the term “clash” was used in an edition of the London Standard newspaper. Drummer Terry Chimes completed the 4-man original Clash line-up shortly thereafter.

The songwriting collaboration between Joe Strummer and Mick Jones is often compared to the chemistry between legendary duos such as Lennon and McCartney or Jagger and Richards. The pair wrote songs about political and social injustice, cultural apathy, repression, and militarism. Songs such as “White Riot,” “London’s Burning” and “I’m So Bored With the U.S.A.” have become punk rock anthems. As front man, writer and motivational force behind The Clash, Joe Strummer and his band became one of the most influential, expansive and enduring groups to come out of the 1976 British punk rock explosion.

In January 1977, The Clash signed with CBS Records for £100,000 and the band recorded their self-titled album. With a seemingly lucrative record deal, some criticized the band for “selling out.” Despite the criticism from fans, critics lavished The Clash with praise. Rolling Stone magazine called their first record the “definitive punk album.” It included a surprise track—a cover of Junior Murvin’s “Police and Thieves”—that would later be considered a precursor to the songs and style of later Clash albums. The Clash’s London Calling album was also voted Best Album of the 1980s by Rolling Stone magazine.

Also released in 1980 was the band’s fourth studio album, the epic triple album Sandinista!. The album reached beyond punk rock to include a “world music” sound that included reggae, rockabilly and rap. Strummer’s “Washington Bullets” expressed the singer’s most direct political statement about conflicts and worldwide controversies including those in Chile, Nicaragua, Cuba, Afghanistan, and Tibet. In support of the album, The Clash went on a tour that included the historic 17 consecutive dates at Bond’s International, a club located in Time’s Square, NYC.

After the 1982 album Combat Rock, Terry Chimes, who had left the group, rejoined the band after drummer Topper Headon had been dismissed due to his growing heroin addiction. Friction and feuding increased within the group during this period and in 1983, after opening for The Who on what would be their final U.S. tour, Strummer fired bandmate Mick Jones.

The other complications came from the group’s label. For Strummer the band, the 10-record deal with CBS became a “prison sentence.” Relationships with the record company were strained, which led to promotion problems and poor early sales in the United States. After six albums and many hit singles, The Clash officially broke up in 1986.

After the split, Strummer went on to contribute two songs to the soundtrack of the 1986 film Sid and Nancy and appeared in the films Walker (1987), Straight to Hell (1987), Mystery Train (1989), and I Hired a Contract Killer (1990). He continued to write and contribute to soundtracks, most notably for the 1997 film Grosse Pointe Blank which starred long-time fan, John Cusack.

Strummer was temporarily a member of the Irish group The Pogues, a band influenced by the political artistry of The Clash. Their own iconic singer, Shane MacGowan, had left the group due to alcohol problems.

Having worked on a number of soundtracks, he released his first solo album, Earthquake Weather, in 1989. During the 1990s, Strummer formed the backing band The Mescaleros. They signed with Mercury Records and released an album called Rock Art and the X-Ray Style. In 2001, the group signed with Hellcat Records, a punk label from California, and released the band’s second album, Global A Go-Go. The band toured and garnered a devoted following of both old and new fans.

Shortly before what became his final performance in London, Strummer and U2’s Bono wrote a song called “46664” for Nelson Mandela as part of a campaign against AIDS. Joe Strummer died suddenly from cardiac arrest on December 22, 2002, at his home in Somerset, England. He was 50 years old. It was later revealed he’d had an undiagnosed heart condition. His final album Streetcore was released posthumously. It features a tribute to American music icon Johnny Cash—”Long Shadow,” and a cover of Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song.” The Clash were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2003. A documentary film by Juien Temple called Joe Strummer: The Future Is Unwritten premiered in January 2007.

Strummer was married twice. The first marriage was to Pamela Moolman. The marriage of convenience allowed Moolman to obtain British citizenship and financed the purchase of his signature Fender Telecaster guitar. He was in a relationship with Gaby Salter for 14 years, and with whom he had two daughters, Jazz and Lola. The couple never married. Strummer married Lucinda Tait in 1995. After his death, his family and friends created the Strummerville Foundation for the promotion of new music. Besides influencing countless rock and punk bands that followed The Clash, another legacy Strummer left behind is Future Forests, an organization dedicated to fighting global warming by planting trees.

Glastonbury (10-Feb-2006) · Himself
End of the Century: The Story of the Ramones (19-Jan-2003) · Himself
Super 8 Stories (14-Feb-2001) · Himself
I Hired a Contract Killer (13-Sep-1990)
Mystery Train (6-Sep-1989)
Candy Mountain (20-Jan-1988)
Walker (4-Dec-1987) · Faucet
Straight To Hell (26-Jun-1987)
The King of Comedy (18-Feb-1983)
D. O. A. (12-Sep-1980) · Himself
Rude Boy (Feb-1980)
The Punk Rock Movie (1978) · Himself

Source: Joe Strummer – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Source: Joe Strummer’s Life After Death : NPR

Source: Joe Strummer – Guitarist, Songwriter, Singer – Biography.com

Source: The Joe Strummer Foundation – New Music, Donate, Support

Source: Joe Strummer: The angry young man who grew up | Features | Culture | The Independent

Source: Joe Strummer

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Source: The Clash

Happy 94th Birthday Gracie Hansen


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Today is the 94th birthday of Gracie Hansen:  exactly what Seattle needed.  She famously said “The only difference between a rut and a grave are the dimensions.”  Take that to heart.  The world is a better place because she was in it and still feels the loss that she has left.

NAME: Gracie Hansen
DATE OF BIRTH: August 21, 1922
BIRTHPLACE: Shreveport, Louisiana
DATE OF DEATH: January 9, 1985

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

Quiet Desperation in Morton

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

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

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

Morton Liquor Agency

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

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

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

Showgirls vs. Science

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

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

Next Stop: Seattle

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

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

Sedate Seattle vs. the Censor Board

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

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

Sin Alley

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

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

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

Show Street

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

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

A Night In Paradise

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

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

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

Spice Girls

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

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

Physical Fitness

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

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

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

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

Hansen’s Transformation

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

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

Morton Reunion

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

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

A Heart of Gold

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

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

Say Goodnight, Gracie

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

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

Source: HistoryLink.org- the Free Online Encyclopedia of Washington State History

Source: Entertainer Gracie Hansen once was the toast of both Portland and Seattle nightclubs | OregonLive.com

Source: Seattle World’s Fair – Show Street

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Happy 133rd Birthday Coco Chanel


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Today is the 133rd birthday of the woman that said, “Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only. Fashion is in the sky, in the street, fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening.”  Coco Chanel.  I admire a person that creates their life how they wish it to be.  Determination, focus, drive and perseverance.  Her life is as beautiful as her designs.  The world is a better place because she was in it and still feels the loss that she has left.

chanel_quoteNAME: Coco Chanel
BIRTH DATE: August 19, 1883
DEATH DATE: January 10, 1971
PLACE OF BIRTH: Saumur, France
PLACE OF DEATH: Paris, France
REMAINS: Buried, Bois-de-Vaux Cemetery, Lausanne, Switzerland

BEST KNOWN FOR: With her trademark suits and little black dresses, fashion designer Coco Chanel created timeless designs that are still popular today.

Famed fashion designer Coco Chanel was born Gabrielle Bonheur Chanel on August 19, 1883, in Saumur, France. With her trademark suits and little black dresses, Coco Chanel created timeless designs that are still popular today. She herself became a much revered style icon known for her simple yet sophisticated outfits paired with great accessories, such as several strands of pearls. As Chanel once said,“luxury must be comfortable, otherwise it is not luxury.”

Fashion fades, only style remains the same.

Her early years, however, were anything but glamorous. After her mother’s death, Chanel was put in an orphanage by her father who worked as a peddler. She was raised by nuns who taught her how to sew—a skill that would lead to her life’s work. Her nickname came from another occupation entirely. During her brief career as a singer, Chanel performed in clubs in Vichy and Moulins where she was called “Coco.” Some say that the name comes from one of the songs she used to sing, and Chanel herself said that it was a “shortened version of cocotte, the French word for ‘kept woman,” according to an article in The Atlantic.

Around the age of 20, Chanel became involved with Etienne Balsan who offered to help her start a millinery business in Paris. She soon left him for one of his even wealthier friends, Arthur “Boy” Capel. Both men were instrumental in Chanel’s first fashion venture.

It is always better to be slightly underdressed.

Opening her first shop on Paris’s Rue Cambon in 1910, Chanel started out selling hats. She later added stores in Deauville and Biarritz and began making clothes. Her first taste of clothing success came from a dress she fashioned out of an old jersey on a chilly day. In response to the many people who asked about where she got the dress, she offered to make one for them. “My fortune is built on that old jersey that I’d put on because it was cold in Deauville,” she once told author Paul Morand.

In the 1920s, Chanel took her thriving business to new heights. She launched her first perfume, Chanel No. 5, which was the first to feature a designer’s name. Perfume “is the unseen, unforgettable, ultimate accessory of fashion. . . . that heralds your arrival and prolongs your departure,” Chanel once explained.

In 1925, she introduced the now legendary Chanel suit with collarless jacket and well-fitted skirt. Her designs were revolutionary for the time—borrowing elements of men’s wear and emphasizing comfort over the constraints of then-popular fashions. She helped women say good-bye to the days of corsets and other confining garments.

Another 1920s revolutionary design was Chanel’s little black dress. She took a color once associated with mourning and showed just how chic it could be for eveningwear. In addition to fashion, Chanel was a popular figure in the Paris literary and artistic worlds. She designed costumes for the Ballets Russes and for Jean Cocteau’s play Orphée, and counted Cocteau and artist Pablo Picasso among her friends. For a time, Chanel had a relationship with composer Igor Stravinsky.

Another important romance for Chanel began in the 1920s. She met the wealthy duke of Westminster aboard his yacht around 1923, and the two started a decades-long relationship. In response to his marriage proposal, she reportedly said “There have been several Duchesses of Westminster—but there is only one Chanel!”

When I find a colour darker than black, I’ll wear it. But until then, I’m wearing black!

The international economic depression of the 1930s had a negative impact on her company, but it was the outbreak of World War II that led Chanel to close her business. She fired her workers and shut down her shops. During the German occupation of France, Chanel got involved with a German military officer, Hans Gunther von Dincklage. She got special permission to stay in her apartment at the Hotel Ritz. After the war ended, Chanel was interrogated by her relationship with von Dincklage, but she was not charged as a collaborator. Some have wondered whether friend Winston Churchill worked behind the scenes on Chanel’s behalf.

While not officially charged, Chanel suffered in the court of public opinion. Some still viewed her relationship with a Nazi officer as a betrayal of her country. Chanel left Paris, spending some years in Switzerland in a sort of exile. She also lived at her country house in Roquebrune for a time.

At the age of 70, Chanel made a triumphant return to the fashion world. She first received scathing reviews from critics, but her feminine and easy-fitting designs soon won over shoppers around the world.

In 1969, Chanel’s fascinating life story became the basis for the Broadway musical Coco starring Katharine Hepburn as the legendary designer. Alan Jay Lerner wrote the book and lyrics for the show’s song while Andre Prévin composed the music. Cecil Beaton handled the set and costume design for the production. The show received seven Tony Award nominations, and Beaton won for Best Costume Design and René Auberjonois for Best Featured Actor.

Coco Chanel died on January 10, 1971, at her apartment in the Hotel Ritz. She never married, having once said “I never wanted to weigh more heavily on a man than a bird.” Hundreds crowded together at the Church of the Madeleine to bid farewell to the fashion icon. In tribute, many of the mourners wore Chanel suits.

A little more than a decade after her death, designer Karl Lagerfeld took the reins at her company to continue the Chanel legacy. Today her namesake company continues to thrive and is believed to generate hundreds of millions in sales each year.

In addition to the longevity of her designs, Chanel’s life story continues to captivate people’s attention. There have been several biographies of the fashion revolutionary, including Chanel and Her World (2005) written by her friend Edmonde Charles-Roux.

In the recent television biopic, Coco Chanel (2008), Shirley MacLaine starred as the famous designer around the time of her 1954 career resurrection. The actress told WWD that she had long been interested in playing Chanel. “What’s wonderful about her is she’s not a straightforward, easy woman to understand.”

Source: Coco Chanel – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Source: Coco Chanel – Fashion Designer – Biography.com

Source: Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel (1883–1971) and the House of Chanel | Essay | Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History | The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Source: Sleeping With the Enemy: Coco Chanel’s Secret War — By Hal Vaughan — Book Review – The New York Times

Source: Coco Chanel

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Happy 123rd Birthday Mae West


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Today is the 123rd birthday of the actress, author and provocateur Mae West. Part of her legacy is having some of the most memorable quotes attributed to her:

Between two evils, I always pick the one I never tried before.

When I’m good I’m very, very good, but when I’m bad, I’m better.

I generally avoid temptation unless I can’t resist it.
You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.

And so on and so forth. She lived, no doubt about it. The world is a better place because she was in it and still feels the loss that she has left.

1930's Mae West a mermaid in fur

NAME: Mae West
OCCUPATION: Film Actress, Theater Actress, Pin-up
BIRTH DATE: August 17, 1893
DEATH DATE: November 22, 1980
PLACE OF BIRTH: Brooklyn, New York
PLACE OF DEATH: Los Angeles, California
REMAINS: Buried, Cypress Hills Cemetery, Brooklyn, NY

BEST KNOWN FOR: Mae West started in Vaudeville and on the stage in New York, and later moved to Hollywood to star in films known for their blunt sexuality and steamy settings.

Mae West was an American screen legend and erotic icon famous for her voluptuous figure, sexy innuendos, and irrepressible wit. A free thinking and independent woman far ahead of her time, West expressed herself boldly, both sexually and creatively. She famously surrounded herself with handsome muscle men, both onscreen and off, and accrued a long list of famous and powerful lovers. Notably, West was one of the first female American playwrights, and actresses, to demand and receive creative control over her work. West’s creative expression encompassed nearly every facet of the entertainment spectrum including theatre and screenwriting, film, radio, television, and audio recording. And with a career spanning some 80+ years, she holds the further distinction of having performed both vaudeville and rock and roll. As a cultural icon she is immortalized by imitators, biographers, and even an assortment of snacks and devices bearing her name. Her trademark phrases have been translated into numerous languages, including Mandarin, Mongolian, Norwegian, and Lithuanian.

She was born Mary Jane West on August 17, 1893 in Brooklyn, New York. Her father, the bare knuckles prizefighter Battlin’ Jack West, was a native New Yorker from the lower east side. A heavy smoker and drinker, he turned to violence when thwarted. Her mother, “Tillie”, was a former corset and fashion model, and frustrated actress, who had immigrated to America from Germany with her parents. Although Mae West always claimed that Tillie was Jewish, records show that the family listed their religion as Lutheran upon arrival in America. West’s paternal grandmother had also immigrated as a child — an Irish Catholic, she married Mae’s paternal grandfather, John Edwin, while only 12 years old. Edwin’s own ancestry remains enigmatic. But according to West biographer Jill Watts, he may have been a light-skinned African American who passed for white.

Arising from this milieu of adversity, Mae learned early on that her unusual talent and good looks were an advantage that just might leverage her into a better life — if she played it smart. Encouraged by her mother, she used her sexuality to build alliances with, or dominate, nearly every man who crossed her path. And she learned to view marriage as a double edged institution – one that offered legal protection and social acceptance, but which robbed women of their independence and sexual freedom. According to most sources she took refuge in marriage just once, with fellow actor and lover Frank Wallace. When she tired of Wallace, and discovered she was not pregnant as feared, she ended the relationship. She neglected to file for divorce however, and Wallace showed up years later, in 1937, with marriage certificate in hand to receive a share of West’s ample earnings. She may have been simultaneously married to musician Guido Deiro, divorcing him in 1920. West allegedly used the alias Catherine Mae Belle West when marrying Deiro to avoid bigamy charges.

While West’s attitudes toward men were heavily influenced by her mother so was her choice of career. Tillie West had once longed to follow in the footsteps of idol Lillian Russell, even having her portrait painted in such way as to highlight a certain resemblance. She started Mae off in show business as early as age 5, according to some reports, and by age 7 Mae had won the gold medal in a talent show, with Tillie billing her as “Baby Mae.” By age 12 she was appearing on the vaudeville circuit and was soon performing as the sexy “Baby Vamp.” At 18 she introduced vaudeville to the “shimmy”, a sexy full body undulation that she had first observed in the blues bars of Chicago.

In the 1920s she had moved on to playwriting. A shameless self promoter, she is said to have single billed herself on works that were in fact jointly authored. Nonetheless both on the stage and later in film she showed tremendous wit and intelligence for writing dialogue, especially for those parts she played herself. But while West is chiefly remembered for her clever dialogue and powerhouse sensuality, much of her work dealt also with spiritual matters and West was herself a deeply and eclectically spiritual person for most of her life. Not surprisingly, her tendency toward frankness and maverick free thinking, on all subjects, often put her at odds with moralists and hard line religious leaders.

Her first major run in with censorship laws came in 1926 when she was jailed for the play Sex, which she both wrote and starred in. West was sentenced to 10 days in jail on obscenity charges. However she allegedly received star treatment in prison, dining each night with the warden and getting two days off for good behavior. Despite this fact she was sympathetic to those less fortunate, and upon her release she penned an article about the women she had met behind bars. Putting her money where her mouth was, she also made a donation on their behalf to fund a prison library.

In 1927 West was back in trouble again. Her new play Drag, about a homosexual party, was a big hit in New Jersey. But it was banned from Broadway and was soon bogged down in extensive legal battles. She bounced back the following year with her naughty, but more acceptable Diamond Lil. Not only was it a big hit on Broadway, but it more significantly catapulted her toward Hollywood stardom. West debuted on film in 1932 with what was supposed to be a small part in Night After Night, starringGeorge Raft. However West insisted on rewriting all her lines, and the result was pure gold — for West and for the film. Building on this success West was able to translate her Broadway play Diamond Lilto the big screen as She Done Him Wrong in 1933. Audiences went wild, and the film was a huge success, garnering an Academy Award nomination and catapulting male lead Cary Grant, to stardom. The picture saved its studio, Paramount Pictures, from bankruptcy.

West’s next film, I’m No Angel, was also a big hit with moviegoers. But her empowered sexuality and ribald wit, that so entranced movie goers, incensed religious leaders and moralists. The Catholic Church in particular launched a campaign to put an end to the “filth” churned out by West, and to an extent, by the studios in general. By July of 1934 Hollywood was being squeezed toward more exact compliance with the strict Motion Picture Production Code. Since West was not one to give in easily and she managed for a while to pull a clever bait and switch with the censors. She laded scripts with obvious material for them to cut, while slipping in more subtle elements they would overlook. Most famous of these were her sly double entendres, lines she rolled out with such droll understatement that fans were never quite sure what was a straight line and what was intentional innuendo.

But censors could not be duped indefinitely, not with more clever moralists writing them outraged letters. And so West found her work in Hollywood more and more constrained. She churned out several more films, including My Little Chickadee, in which she starred alongside nemesis W. C. Fields (1940). But 1943’s The Heat’s On proved to be her last offering, until her film rebirth in the 1970s.

For the next few decades she returned her attention to writing and performing for the more liberal environment of the stage. One of West’s favorite roles was her 1944 Broadway production ofCatherine Was Great. West’s version of the famed Russian empress was a woman after her own heart — a powerful, lusty, independent woman who surrounded herself with tall muscle men. According to West, an ardent spiritualist, this likeness was appropriate as she herself was the reincarnation ofCatherine the Great.

Like the historic Catherine, West’s identity as a sexual titan who seemed untarnished by age. West still demanded daily sex well into her 60s and held onto a girlish figure through an assortment of eccentric practices. According to West, she avoided sunlight to preserve her skin, massaged her breasts for two hours a day with cold cream to keep them firm, had her men massage warm baby oil into her skin to keep it soft, and began each day with an enema to rid her body of toxins and keep her skin silky smooth.

Determined never to be a “has been” (she hotly turned down Billy Wilder‘s invitation to play Norma Desmond in Sunset Strip) West frequently managed to reinvent and reintroduce herself to the American public. She had her own Las Vegas show in the 1950s. And in the 1960s, she appeared on the album sleeve for The Beatles “Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”, she popped up on a number of popular television programs (including The Red Skelton Show and Mr. Ed), and she even cut two rock and roll albums. In 1970 she at last returned to the big screen with Gore Vidal‘s Myra Breckinridge.

But although the time seemed ripe for West’s bawdy humor to make a come back, with society and censors more open to sexuality, age was catching up with her. Now in her mid 80s, she was struggling with diabetes and other ailments. During the 1978 filming of Sextette, her last film, she often needed to rest during scenes. And she forgot her lines so often that it was necessary to fit her with an earpiece so she could be prompted with her lines. But the indomitable Mae insisted on playing a woman in her late 20s, and she behaved as if she were still the knockout sex goddess that every man wanted to make love too. Despite such handicaps and eccentricities her co-stars would remember West as a grand lady. And when the film finally premiered her cult of longtime fans still found her adorable and embracedSextette, viewing the flaws of the film as delightful self-parody. But the public in general was not so impressed and despite added talent from the likes of Timothy Dalton, Ringo Starr, George Hamilton,Tony Curtis, Walter Pidgeon and George Raft, the film fell flat at the box office.

Two years later West’s decline culminated in a series of strokes, and she died on November 22, 1980 from stroke related complications. Two days later her former lover and longtime friend, George Raft, who had co-starred with West in both her first film and her last, died as well, of leukemia. Like Raft, West is memorialized by a Motion Pictures star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Like only a handful of other stars her trademark gestures and phrases (such as “Goodness had nothing to do with it, dearie”, “When I’m bad I’m even better”, and “Come up and see me sometime”) have entered into the pop culture lexicon.

Mae West’s films continue to be released on video and DVD and some of her plays remain in current publication. She continues to be immortalized as well by assorted drag queens and festivals who celebrate her talent and persona. More than 20 years after her death biographies of West continue to abound, including Mae West: An Icon in Black and White by Jill Watts (2003), Becoming Mae Westby Emily Worth Leider (2000), and Mae West: Empress of Sex, by Maurice Leonard (1992). West’s autobiography, Goodness Had Nothing to Do with It, first appeared in 1959 and has been republished a number of times.

Happy 104th Birthday Julia Child


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Today is the 104th birthday of chef, author, OSS international operative and television personality Julia Child.  I loved to watch her show on PBS when I was a kid.  If Meryl Streep plays you in a film about you, it is understood that you did a great job.  The world is a better place because she was in it and still feels the loss that she has left.

NAME: Julia Child
OCCUPATION: Chef, Television Personality, Journalist
BIRTH DATE: August 15, 1912
DEATH DATE: August 13, 2004
EDUCATION: Katherine Branson School for Girls, Smith College, Cordon Bleu
PLACE OF BIRTH: Pasadena, California
PLACE OF DEATH: Montecito, California
MAIDEN NAME: Julia Carolyn McWilliams
EMMY 1966
NATIONAL BOOK AWARD 1980 for Julia Child and More Company

BEST KNOWN FOR: TV chef and author Julia Child adapted complex French cooking for everyday Americans, with her groundbreaking cookbook Mastering the Art of French Cooking.

Popular TV chef and author. Julia Child was born Julia McWilliams, on August 15, 1912, in Pasadena, California. The eldest of three children, Julia was known by several pet names as a little girl, including “Juke”, “Juju” and “Jukies.” Her father John McWilliams, Jr., was a Princeton graduate and early investor in California real estate. His wife, Julia Carolyn Weston, was a paper-company heiress whose father served as lieutenant governor of Massachusetts.

The family accumulated significant wealth and, as a result, Child lived a privileged childhood. She was educated at San Francisco’s elite Katherine Branson School for Girls, where—at a towering height of 6 feet, 2 inches—she was the tallest student in her class. She was a lively prankster who, as one friend recalled, could be “really, really wild.” She was also adventurous and athletic, with particular talent in golf, tennis and small-game hunting.

In 1930, she enrolled at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts, with the intention of becoming a writer. “There were some famous women novelists in those days,” she said, “and I intended to be one.” Although she enjoyed writing short plays and regularly submitted unsolicited manuscripts to the New Yorker, none of her writing was published. Upon graduation she moved to New York, where she worked in the advertising department of the prestigious home furnishings company W&J Sloane. After transferring to the store’s Los Angeles branch, however, Child was fired for “gross insubordination.”

In 1941, at the onset of World War II, Julia moved to Washington, D.C., where she volunteered as a research assistant for the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), a newly formed government intelligence agency. In her position, Julia played a key role in the communication of top-secret documents between U.S. government officials and their intelligence officers. She and her colleagues were sent on assignments around the world, holding posts in Washington, D.C., Kumming, China; and Colombo, Sri Lanka. In 1945, while in Sri Lanka, Child began a relationship with fellow OSS employee Paul Child. In September of 1946, following the end of World War II, Julia and Paul returned to America and were married.

In 1948, when Paul was reassigned to the U.S. Information Service at the American Embassy in Paris, the Childs moved to France. While there, Julia developed a penchant for French cuisine and attended the world-famous Cordon Bleu cooking school. Following her six-month training—which included private lessons with master chef Max Bugnard—Julia banded with fellow Cordon Bleu students Simone Beck and Louisette Bertholle to form the cooking school L’Ecole de Trois Gourmandes (The School of the Three Gourmands).

With a goal of adapting sophisticated French cuisine for mainstream Americans, the trio collaborated on a two-volume cookbook. The women earned a $750 advance for the work, which they received in three payments. The original publisher rejected the manuscript, however, due to its 734-page length. Another publisher eventually accepted the 3-lb. cookbook, releasing it in September 1961 under the title Mastering the Art of French Cooking. The book was considered groundbreaking, and remained the bestselling cookbook for five straight years after its publication. It has since become a standard guide for the culinary community.

Julia promoted her book on the Boston public television station near her Cambridge, Massachusetts, home. Displaying her trademark forthright manner and hearty humor, she prepared an omelet on air. The public’s response was enthusiastic, generating 27 letters and countless phone calls—”a remarkable response,” a station executive remembered, “given that station management occasionally wondered if 27 viewers were tuned in.” She was then invited back to tape her own series on cooking for the network, initially earning $50 a show (it was later raised to $200, plus expenses).

Premiering on WGBH in 1962, The French Chef TV series, like Mastering the Art of French Cooking, succeeded in changing the way Americans related to food, while also establishing Julia as a local celebrity. Shortly thereafter, The French Chef was syndicated to 96 stations throughout America. For her efforts, Julia received the prestigious George Foster Peabody Award in 1964 followed by an Emmy Award in 1966. Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, Julia made regular appearances on the ABC morning show Good Morning, America.

Child’s other endeavors included the television programs Julia Child and Company (1978), Julia Child and More Company (1980), and Dinner at Julia’s (1983), as well as a slew of bestselling cookbooks that covered every aspect of culinary knowledge. Her most recent cookbooks included In Julia’s Kitchen with Master Chefs (1995), Baking with Julia (1996), Julia’s Delicious Little Dinners (1998), and Julia’s Casual Dinners (1999), which were all accompanied by highly rated television specials.

Not everyone was a fan, however. She was frequently criticized by letter-writing viewers for her failure to wash her hands, as well as what they believed was her poor kitchen demeanor. “You are quite a revolting chef, the way you snap bones and play with raw meats,” one letter read. “I can’t stand those over-sanitary people,” Child said in response. Others were concerned about the high levels of fat in French cooking. Julia’s advice was to eat in moderation. “I would rather eat one tablespoon of chocolate russe cake than three bowls of Jell-O,” she said.

Despite her critics, Julia remained a go-to reference for cooking advice. In 1993, she was rewarded for her work when she became the first woman inducted into the Culinary Institute Hall of Fame. In November 2000, following a 40-year career that has made her name synonymous with fine food, Julia received France’s highest honor: the Legion d’Honneur. And in August 2002, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History unveiled an exhibit featuring the kitchen where she filmed three of her popular cooking shows.

Child died in August 2004 of kidney failure at her assisted-living home in Montecito, two days before her 92nd birthday. Child had no intentions of slowing down, even in her final days. “In this line of work…you keep right on till you’re through,” she said. “Retired people are boring.”After her death Child’s last book, the autobiographyMy Life in France, was published with the help of Child’s great nephew, Alex Prud’homme. The book, which centered on how Child discovered her true calling, became a best seller.

Julia’s memory continues to live on, through her various cookbooks and her syndicated cooking show. In 2009, a film directed by Nora Ephron entitled Julie & Julia hit theaters. The movie, starring Meryl Streep and Amy Adams, chronicled several aspects of Child’s life, as well as her influence on aspiring cook Julie Powell. For her performance, Streep won the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress, and received an Academy Award nomination.

The French Chef Host (1962-73)

We’re Back! A Dinosaur’s Story (24-Nov-1993) [VOICE]

Author of books:
Mastering the Art of French Cooking (1961)

Source: Julia Child – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Source: Julia Child: PBS Chef and Culinary Icon | Julia Child | PBS Food

Source: Julia Child – Chef, Television Personality, Journalist – Biography.com

Source: Julia Child

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Happy 131st Birthday Edna Ferber


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Today is the 131st birthday of the writer Edna Ferber.  If you see one film of hers, see Giant.  Everyone is beautiful and the film is perfection.  The world is a better place because she was in it and still feels the loss that she has left.

NAME: Edna Ferber
BIRTH DATE: August 15, 1885
DEATH DATE: April 16, 1968
PLACE OF BIRTH: Kalamazoo, Michigan
PLACE OF DEATH: New York, New York
PULITZER PRIZE: for Fiction 1925 for So Big

BEST KNOWN FOR: Pulitzer Prize–winning author Edna Ferber wrote books and plays that became movies like Show Boat, Giant, and Stage Door.

Edna Ferber was born on August 15, 1885, in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Her father, Jacob, was a Hungarian immigrant and shopkeeper, and her mother, Julia, was a native of Wisconsin. Both were of Jewish descent. Edna’s early childhood was spent in Kalamazoo, but successive failures of the family business forced a series of moves to other cities, including Ottumwa, Iowa, where the anti-Semitism they endured was so strong that after several years they left for a fresh start in Appleton, Wisconsin.

In Appleton, Ferber attended high school and developed an interest in acting, appearing in several school productions. However, after graduating, Edna was forced to set aside her dreams of becoming a professional actor when her father became ill and began to lose his eyesight. Her mother took charge of the family business, and 17-year-old Edna found work as a reporter for the local paper, the Appleton Daily Crescent. After a year at the Crescent, Edna landed her next job at the larger Milwaukee Journal, where over the next four years she worked so hard that the she suffered a severe exhaustive breakdown.

Written during her subsequent convalescence, in 1910 Ferber’s short story, “The Homely Heroine,” was published in Everybody’s Magazine. It would prove to be her first step toward a bright literary future. In 1911 she published her first novel, Dawn O’Hara, as well as the initial installment in a long series of stories featuring a traveling saleswoman named Emma McChesney. The stories became quite popular and won Ferber national attention, ultimately convincing her to move to New York in 1912 and fully embrace her career.

In the decades that followed, Ferber would become one of the most influential women writers of the era, publishing numerous novels and short stories and becoming a member of the legendary social/literary group the Algonquin Round Table. Drawing from family history and Midwestern roots, her fiction focused on the lives of average Americans and often featured strong female protagonists. They also exhibited Ferber’s strong love of and belief in America as well her resentment of the bigotry she and her family had endured. Though her work has been criticized both then and now as sentimental and shallow, its popular resonance cannot be denied.

In 1924, Ferber achieved one of the greatest successes of her career when she published the novel So Big. The story of a widow farmer and the sacrifices she makes for her son, the book sold more than 300,000 copies and won Ferber the Pulitzer Prize the following year. In 1925, Ferber published what is perhaps her best-known work, the novel Show Boat, which was adapted by Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein into the acclaimed musical of the same name.

These two works proved to be just the first in a long line of popular successes, many of which would make their way to the big screen: Published in 1929, Cimarron told the story of the Oklahoma land grab and was subsequently turned into films in 1931 and 1960. Ferber’s 1952 novel, Giant, focused on the oil business in Texas and was adapted into the 1956 classic starring James Dean, Elizabeth Taylor and Rock Hudson. And Ice Palace (1958), about the history of Alaska, was made into a 1960 film starring Richard Burton.

During her long career, Edna Ferber was also finally able to indulge her childhood interest in theater by writing several plays, including her collaborations with playwright George S. Kaufman, Dinner at Eight (1932) and Stage Door (1936). She also wrote two autobiographies, A Peculiar Treasure, which focuses on her Jewish identity, and A Kind of Magic, which tells the tale of her lifelong love affair with America.

Edna Ferber died of stomach cancer on April 16, 1968, in New York City. She was 82 years old. In 2002 the United States Postal Service issued a Distinguished Americans postage stamp of Ferber to honor her achievements.

Author of books:
Dawn O’Hara: The Girl Who Laughed (1911, novel)
Buttered Side Down (1913, novel)
Roast Beef, Medium (1913, novel)
Personality Plus (1914, novel, sequel to Roast Beef, Medium)
Emma McChesney and Co. (1915, novel, sequel to Personality Plus)
Fanny Herself (1917, novel)
Cheerful By Request (1918, novel)
Half Portions (1920, short stories)
The Girls (1921, novel)
Gigolo (1922, novel)
So Big (1924, novel)
Show Boat (1926, novel)
Mother Knows Best (1927, short stories)
Cimarron (1930, novel)
One Basket (1931, short stories)
American Beauty (1931, novel)
They Brought Their Women (1933, short stories)
Come and Get It (1935, novel)
Nobody’s in Town (1938, novel)
A Peculiar Treasure (1939, autobiography)
Saratoga Trunk (1941)
No Room at the Inn (1941)
Great Son (1945)
Giant (1952)
Ice Palace (1958)
A Kind of Magic (1963, autobiography)

Wrote plays:
Our Mrs. McChesney (1915)
$1200 A Year (1920, with Newman Levy)
Minick (1924, with George S. Kaufman)
The Eldest (1925)
The Royal Family (1928, with George S. Kaufman)
Dinner at Eight (1932, with George S. Kaufman)
Stage Door (1936, with George S. Kaufman)
The Land Is Bright (1941, with George S. Kaufman)
Bravo (1949, with George S. Kaufman)

Source: Edna Ferber – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Source: Edna Ferber – Writer – Biography.com

Source: Edna Ferber

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Happy 110th Birthday Horst P. Horst


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Today is the 110th birthday of the photographer Horst P. Horst.  His iconic images are immediately recognizable and important works of 20th century art.  The world is a better place because he was in it and still feels the loss that he has left.

horst p horst 01NAME: Horst P. Horst
DATE OF BIRTH: August 14, 1906
PLACE OF BIRTH: Saxony-Anhalt, Germany
DATE OF DEATH: November 18, 1999
PLACE OF DEATH: Palm Beach Gardens, Florida

BEST KNOWN FOR: Horst Paul Albert Bohrmann who chose to be known as Horst P. Horst was a German-American fashion photographer.

Horst Paul Albert Bohrmann, who chose to be known as Horst P. Horst, was born on 14 August 1906 in Weiβenfels-an-der-Saale, Germany. After an encounter with dancer Evan Weidemann during his adolescent years, Horst found an interest in avant-garde art. After studying at Hamburg in late 1920s, he soon moved to Paris and was taught by architect Le Corbusier. During his time in Paris, Horst became close with Vogue photographer Baron George Hoyningen-Huene; Horst became his lover and photographic assistant, soon his interests swayed from architecture towards photography.

The first pictures that carried a Horst credit line appeared in the December 1931 issue of French Vogue. It was a full-page advertisement showing a model in black velvet holding a Klytia scent bottle in one hand while elegantly raising the other. Horst’s true breakthrough as a fashion photographer came about in 1932; Horst had his first exhibition at La Plume D’Or in Paris, and British Vogue printed three fashion studies and a full-page portrait of the daughter of Sir James Dunn, the art patron and supporter of Surrealism in the March 1932 issue.

In New York 1937 Horst met Coco Chanel; he went on to photograph her creations for over three decades. At this time he also found himself photographing a succession of well-known personalities – the first of two celebrity series – including Elsa Schiaparelli, Bette Davis, Noël Coward, Lisa Fonssagrives, Cole Porter and the Duke and Duchess of Windsor along others. These portraits occasionally lack the formal perfection of his fashion work, but successfully depict the desperate vivacity that marked the time between the wars.

Horst would set his models under artificial lights, against plain or geometric backgrounds, with fastidious precision. This evolved into a more ornamental approach, setting him apart from Vogue’s other principal photographers of the 1930s – Edward Steichen and Cecil Beaton – and ultimately becoming his unmistakeable style. The arrangement of the furnishings, fabrics and lighting within his compositions create atmospheric silhouettes, giving rise to an enigmatic ambience.

War was declared between America and Germany on 7 December 1941. Horst applied for American citizenship, and was called up for service, though he was not officially enrolled until July 1943. He became an Army photographer, which amongst other subjects involved taking pictures of the US President Harry S. Truman.

Horst’s time in Europe during the 1950s produced work with interestingly new en plein air characteristics; this could be attributed by the freedom he found away from the interferences of the Vogue offices. 1961 saw the appointment of Diana Vreeland as Editor of Vogue. This proved advantageous to Horst, he soon saw high-profile assignments come his way, and produced some of his most dynamic work. In February 1980 a number of Horst’s works were shown in Life magazine; this became the most popular issue that year. This platform led to the publication of the book Return Engagement: Faces to Remember – Then and Now (1984) and a strengthened relationship with Life’s editor and co-author James Watters.Horst’s career was cemented in history in 1990 when pop musician Madonna recreated the photographer’s most iconic images in her music video Vogue, directed by David Fincher.

Horst died in 1999 aged 93, while at home in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, USA.

Source: Horst P. Horst – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Source: Horst P Horst News, Photos and Videos – Vogue

Source: Horst P. Horst | artnet

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