Category Archives: Entertainment

Charlie Chaplin 4.16.13 Thought of the Day: Part ONE

“I remain just one thing, and one thing only, and that is a clown. It places me on a far higher plane than any politician.” — Charlie Chaplin

Charlie Chaplin The Tramp debuted in 1914 -- p...

Charlie Chaplin The Tramp debuted in 1914 — pre-1923 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Charles Spencer Chaplin was born on this day in 1889 in London, England. Today is the 124th anniversary of his birth.

He was practically born to the stage. Both his parents were musical hall entertainers. His father, Charles Chaplin, Sr.  was a singer and actor, his mother, Hannah Chaplin — her stage name was Lily Harley — sang light opera. The marriage didn’t last long, and Chaplin, Sr. abandoned the family when Charlie was an infant. He had two half brothers. Sydney Hill Chaplin was four years older than Charlie and was born to Hannah a year before she married Chaplin, Sr. (who was not his father.) Hannah had another baby, George Wheeler Dryden in 1892, by entertainer Leo Dryden. Sydney and Charlie hardly knew this brother, however, because Leo took the boy away when he was 6 months old. George didn’t resurface until his mid thirties.

Hannah continued her stage career for a few years, but…

in a performance that would introduce her youngest boy to the world of performance, Hannah inexplicably lost her voice in the middle of a show, prompting the stage manager to push the five-year-old Chaplin, whom he’d heard sing, onto the stage to replace her…[Biography]

The audience loved little Charlie, but it was a disaster for Hannah…

Her singing voice never returned and she eventually ran out of money. For a time, Charlie and Sydney had to make a new, temporary home for themselves in London’s tough workhouses. [Ibid]

Hannah was in and out of mental institutions until 1905 when she was committed permanently. With the exception of one disastrous stint with their alcoholic father, the boys were left to fend for themselves,  and, eventually, thrown into the workhouse. Sydney was trained as a seaman, but both boys wanted to act. Charlie charmed his way into a clog dancing group called the Eight Lancashire Lads in 1897.

It was a short stint, and not a terribly profitable one, forcing the go-getter Chaplin to make ends meet anyway he could…”I (was) newsvendor, printer, toymaker, doctor’s boy, etc., but during these occupational digressions, I never lost sight of my ultimate aim to become an actor,” Chaplin later recounted. “So, between jobs I would polish my shoes, brush my clothes, put on a clean collar and make periodic calls at a theatrical agency.” [Ibid]

His first play was  Jim, a Romance of Cockayne by H.A. Saintsbury in 1903.  Although the show closed after two weeks Chaplin’s comedic performance  as the newsboy received good reviews. Real stage experience came later that year with a 2.5 year run with  Sherlock Holmes in which Chaplin played the Page-boy.

He toured with a vaudeville outfit named Casey’s Court Circus and in 1908 teamed up with the Fred Karno pantomime troupe, where Chaplin became one of its stars as The Drunk in the comedic sketch, A Night in an English Music Hall. [Ibid]

Español: Esta es una fotografia del Sr. Charle...

Español: Esta es una fotografia del Sr. Charles Spencer Chaplin tomada en Estados Unidos, durante su juventud, en un momento en el que, como se aprecia, se encontraba al natural, tal como era, sin los clasicos caracteres que usaba para protagonizar a su recordado personaje de cine mudo Charlot. Français : Charles Chaplin, acteur américain, célèbre pour son personnage Charlot. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

He twice came to America on tour with the Karno troupe and film producer Mack Sennett promptly signed Chaplin to a contract for a $150 a week with Keystone Pictures. Chaplin didn’t like his first film, Making a Living, and it wasn’t a hit, but he was singled out for his comic timing and presence.

He wanted to create a persona that made him stand out from the crowd of comedic actors at Keystone, so he borrowed Fatty Arbuckle’s pants, Ford Sterling’s size 14 shoes and Arbuckle’s father-in-law’s bowler to invent the Little Tramp. The Tramp made his debut in  Kid Auto Races at Venice.

Chaplin with Edna Purviance in The Immigrant (...

Chaplin with Edna Purviance in The Immigrant (1917) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Charlie yearned for more creative input in his film and finally got a chance to direct in 1914. With the caveat that Chaplin would return $1,500 to producer Sennett should the film fail, he helmed Caught in the Rain . (He did not have to return the money. )

When Keystone wouldn’t give him a raise (he wanted $1,000 a week)  he went to Essanay Film Manufacturing Company  (they gave him $1,250 a week.) He made 14 films with Essanay.

By the age of 26, Chaplin, just three years removed from his vaudeville days was a movie superstar. He’d moved over to the Mutual Company, which paid him a whopping $670,000 a year. The money made Chaplin a wealthy man, but it didn’t seem to derail his artistic drive. With Mutual, he made some of his best work, including One A.M. (1916), The Rink (1916), The Vagabond(1916), and Easy Street (1917). [Biography]

He got a million dollar deal with First National Exhibitors’ Circuit to make 8 films. (His brother Sydney was his financial manager by then, and he was instrumental in making the deal.) Two of the eight movies broke the old show business rule about not working with children and animals, and those films — The Kid and A Dog’s Life were two of Chaplin’s best.

Charlie Chaplin and Jackie Coogan in The Kid

Charlie Chaplin and Jackie Coogan in The Kid (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Click HERE for Charlie Chaplin 4.16.13 Thought of the Day: Part TWO


Claire Danes

“It’s very difficult to judge yourself. Extreme self-doubt is only attractive when it’s fictionalized. Which is why people love the movies. They are so reassuring.”– Claire Danes

[Image Courtesy: Fan Quarterly.com]

[Image Courtesy: Fan Quarterly.com]

Claire Catherine Danes was born on this day in  New York City, New York, USA in 1979. She is 34 years old.

She was born to “Chris, an architectural photographer turned computer consultant, and Carla, a textile designer.” [People.com] She has an older brother named Asa. The family lived in the Soho area of New York when she was growing up. When Danes was 5 she saw Madonna on TV and she knew she wanted to be a performer. By 6 she was taking modern dance classes. Her focus soon changed to acting and she attended a number of top ranked schools that feed both her academic and dramatic needs…Dalton School, New York, the Lee Strasberg Theater Institute, The New York City Lab School for Collaborative Studies, The Professional Performing Arts School and Lycée Français de Los Angeles.

Her film debut came at 13  in a short film called Dreams of Love.

Angela Chase (Claire Danes) and Jordan Catalan...

Angela Chase (Claire Danes) and Jordan Catalano (Jared Leto) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

She had a half dozen shorts and TV guest roles before landing her big break in the TV series My So Called Life.

Angela Chase, an inquisitive everygirl dealing with the common struggles of high school and adolescence. The Washington Post’s Tom Shales describes Danes as “deep and mercurial and strikingly complex.” [Ibid]

The same year she played Beth in  Little Women with Christian Bale and Winona Ryder.

She made 12 movies in the next five years, Including:

  • How to Make an American Quilt (again with Ryder)
  • Home for the Holidays (made in my hometown of Baltimore)
"Clair Danes to  join 'The Flock'"

“Clair Danes to join ‘The Flock'” (Photo credit: Lloyd Dewolf)

Then she took a break from Hollywood to attend Yale University. She took her time returning to the big screen, opting for smaller roles in films like The Hours and Terminator 3.

She shared leading “lady” status with co-star Billy Crudup in Stage Beauty, a film about where “A female theatre dresser creates a stir and sparks a revolution in seventeenth century London theatre by playing Desdemona in Othello.” [IMDb –Stage Beauty] It was a challenging role.  Danes says: “I was intimidated. There was the accent, the period of the film, and I had to act badly. I kept laughing during those scenes because I was god-awful. I’ve worked so hard to be good, and now I had to work even harder to be bad.”

She followed Stage Beauty with a couple of RomComs (Shop Girl and The Family Stone), an ensemble drama (Evening— where she met her husband Hugh Dancy)  and the fantasy Stardust (an adaptation of the Neil Gaiman novel).

Danes as a fallen star in Stardust [Image courtesy: About.com]

Danes as a fallen star in Stardust [Image courtesy: About.com]

The same year (2007) she made her Broadway debut  at the Roundabout Theatre Company’s production of George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion.

In 2010 she did a Emmy winning turn in Temple Grandin. The HBO movie is about “an autistic woman who has become one of the top scientists in the humane livestock handling industry.” [IMDb — Temple Grandin]  Danes won an Emmy for her role in the film. She won another Emmy (and two People’s Choice Awards) for her role in Homeland on Showtime. The show, which co-stars Damian Lewis is in production for its third season.

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Gregory Peck 4.5.13 Thought of the Day

“I don’t lecture and I don’t grind any axes. I just want to entertain.”–Gregory Peck

Cropped screenshot of Gregory Peck from the tr...

Cropped screenshot of Gregory Peck from the trailer for the film Gentleman’s Agreement. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Eldred Gregory Peck was born on this day in La Jolla, California, USA in 1916. Today is the 97th anniversary of his birth.

He was born to Bernice Mae “Bunny” and Gregory Pearl Peck. Bunny was Scottish, English and Protestant, Gregory senior was Irish and Catholic. She converted when they married and they raised Eldred Catholic. When the couple split  little Eldred was six, he went to live with his grandmother.

Peck…”never felt he had a stable childhood. His fondest memories are of his grandmother taking him to the movies every week and of his dog, which followed him everywhere.” [IMDb]  When he was ten his grandmother passed away and he went to live with his father full-time.

He went to St. John’s Military Academy, a Roman Catholic military school in Los Angeles, then to  San Diego High School. He enrolled at San Diego State Teacher’s College for one year before transferring to the University of California, Berkley where he settled on Acting. Working as a truck driver and kitchen assistant helped pay the bills.

Upon graduation Peck headed east to New York City.  Gregory Peck was ‘born’ when he dropped his first name. “I never liked the name Eldred. Since nobody knew me in New York, I just changed to my middle name.” He worked as an usher at Radio City Music Hall and a tour guide at NBC. He worked for the acting experience and for food, landing progressively larger roles as he honed his craft.

His debut was in Emlyn Williams‘ play “The Morning Star” (1942). By 1943 he was in Hollywood, where he debuted in the RKO film Days of Glory (1944).

Stardom came with his next film, The Keys of the Kingdom (1944), for which he was nominated for an Academy Award. Peck’s screen presence displayed the qualities for which he became well-known. He was tall, rugged and heroic, with a basic decency that transcended his roles. [IMDb]

Cropped screenshot of Gregory Peck from the tr...

Cropped screenshot of Gregory Peck from the trailer for the film The Yearling. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

He was nominated for four Academy Awards in the 1940’s for his work in: The Keys of the Kingdom, The Yearling, Gentleman’s Agreement and Twelve O’Clock High. He’d have to wait another 20 years before winning the statue.

An old back injury keep him out of the service during World War II (he’d hurt himself while taking dance and movement classes — not while on the UC Berkley Rowing team as 20th Century Fox claimed.)

He kept his stage skills up at The La Jolla Playhouse, a theatre he co-founded with Mel Ferrer and Dorothy McGuire in 1947.

To Kill a Mockingbird, 1962

To Kill a Mockingbird, 1962 (Photo credit: mystuart)

His best known and most love role came in 1962 as Atticus Finch in the film adaptation of Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mocking Bird. He won an Academy Award for his portrayal of the soft-spoken, southern lawyer. And his portrait of Finch was voted as the #1 greatest hero in American film by the American Film Institute in 2003.

Other notable films from his large library of movies include:

  • Spellbound
  • Captain Horatio Hornblower
  • The Snows of Kilimanjaro
  • Designing Women with Lauren Bacall
  • On the Beach
  • The Guns of Navarone
  • Cape Fear
  • The Omen
  • The Boys From Brazil

and my other favorite (besides Mocking Bird)… Roman Holiday with Audrey Hepburn.

Cropped screenshot of Gregory Peck from the tr...


George Harrison PART TWO

[George Harrison PART TWO

English: George Harrison in the Oval Office du...

English: George Harrison in the Oval Office during the Ford administration. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

]In 1968 Harrison’s interest in Indian music …

extended into a yearning to learn more about eastern spiritual practices. In 1968, he led the Beatles on a journey to northern India to study transcendental meditation under Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. [Biography.com]

That year the group’s White Album came out. Harrison penned “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” “Piggies,” “Long, Long, Long” and “Savoy Truffle.” “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” is ranked as #7 Greatest Guitar Song of All Time by Rolling Stone Magazine.

On Yellow Submarine he  penned “Only A Northern Song” and “It’s All Too Much” both of which — like the rest of the album — were self indulgent and over produced.

He bounced back with Abbey Road which has two of Harrison’s best songs, “Something” and  “Here Comes The Sun”

Let It Be had “I Me Mine Mine” and “For You Blue.” While recording Let It Be Harrison grew frustrated with the poor working conditions of the film studio as well as with the Lennon-McCartney lock on creative input on songs. He walked way from the recording sessions on January 10th, 1969. The other Beatles convinced him to return 12 days later but the writing was on the wall. The end was near for the super group.

When Beatles broke up in April of 1970 Harrison had a back log of music written and ready to produce. His first post-Beatles album was a triple disk, All Things Must Pass. The album yielded two hits “My Sweet Lord” and “What Is Life”

In 1971  he organized a charity concert at Madison Square Garden to raise money and awareness for the refugees in Bangladesh. The Concert for Bangladesh (and the concert film) was a fore runner to other multi-band high-profile charity concerts to come a decade later like Live Aid.

His next Album, Living in the Material World went Gold  with in a week of its release. The single from the album, “Give Me Love (Give Me Peace on Earth)” became an international  best seller.

But then things began to flatten out musically–sales wise at least. Harrison continued to write and experiment musically.

He “started his own film production company, Handmade Films. The outfit underwrote Monty Python’s Life of Brian and would go on to put out 26 other movies before Harrison sold his interest in the company in 1994.” [Biography.com]

In 1987 released Cloud Nine and began to work with a collection of rockers who formed the group the Traveling Wilburys.

The Traveling Wilburys, 1988. L–R: Roy Orbison...

The Traveling Wilburys, 1988. L–R: Roy Orbison, Jeff Lynne, Bob Dylan, George Harrison, and Tom Petty. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“In 1998, Harrison, a longtime smoker, reportedly was successfully treated for throat cancer.” [Ibid] Two years later the cancer returned, this time it had spread to his brain. He died in Los Angeles in November of 2001.

 

—————————–

Oy! Yesterday was full of frustration WordPress wise. I could NOT get a YouTube song/vid to successfully link.(And believe me I had TONS of great George clips to share.) So I’m trying again to day… with fresh optimism. … Here Comes the Sun…


George Harrison PART ONE 2.25.13

“I think people who can truly live a life in music are telling the world, “You can have my love, you can have my smiles. Forget the bad parts, you don’t need them. Just take the music, the goodness, because it’s the very best, and it’s the part I give”– George Harrison

[Image courtesy: IMDb]

[Image courtesy: IMDb]

George Harrison was born on this day in Liverpool, England in 1943. today is the 70th anniversary of his birth.

Harrison was the youngest of four children born to Harold, a school bus driver, and Louise as shop assistant and stay a home mother. He went to school at Dovedale Primary School until he was 11 when he transferred to the prestigious Liverpool Institute.

By his own admission, Harrison was not much of a student and what little interest he did have for his studies washed away with his discovery of the electric guitar and American rock ‘n roll. [Biography.com]

He was riding his bike through the streets of Liverpool one day when he heard Elvis Presley’s Heartbreak Hotel coming through a window. Harrison said it was an epiphany. His father bought him an acoustic guitar and he taught himself how to play.  He formed a pop, jazz, blues, folk, roots band with his older brother Peter and their friend Arthur Kelly called the Rebels.

Harrison knew Paul McCartney from school and in 1958 he auditioned for McCartney and John Lennon’s band The Quarrymen. Lennon was reluctant to bring on the 14-year-old Harrison, but after a second audition — this on the upper deck of a bus — he was sufficiently wowed by Harrison’s rock and roll guitar that the younger guitarist began to fill in with the group.

By 16 Harrison had left school and was working as an apprentice electrician as well as a musician both for the Quarrymen and for the Les Stewart Quartet.

By 1960 Harrison’s music career was in full swing. Lennon had renamed the band the Beatles and the young group began cutting their rock teeth in the small clubs and bars around Liverpool and Hamburg, Germany. Within two years, the group had a new drummer, Ringo Starr, and a manager, Brian Epstein,… Before the end of 1962, Harrison and the Beatles recorded a top 20 U.K. hit, Love Me Do. [Biography.com]

They followed that with Please, Please me and produced an album (also called Please, Please Me.) Harrison sang lead on two songs, Chains, a cover of  the Little Eva hit by Gerry Goffin and Carole King, and Do You Want to Know a Secret by Lennon and McCartney. The album (literally) rocked the UK charts

Given that the UK album chart in those days tended to be dominated by more ‘adult’ tastes such as film soundtracks and easy listening vocalists, it was a surprise when Please Please Me hit the top of the chart in May 1963 and remained there for thirty weeks before being replaced by With The Beatles. [TheBeatles.com]

The 1963 UK release of With The Beatles, hosted the first Harrison penned song to make it to vinyl;  Don’t Bother Me.

It wasn’t until Help! that another Harrison song made it onto a Beatles album. He contributed “I Need You” and “You Like Me Too Much” to Help!

Harrison’s influence grew in the band with the release of Rubber Soul. Again he has two songs on the album, Think For Yourself and If I Needed Some One. He brought both a folk rock flavor to the group and an interest in classical Indian music.

Harrison soon developed a deep interest in Indian music.He taught himself the sitar, introducing the instrument to many western ears on John Lennon’s song, “Norwegian Wood.”” [Biography.com]

By bringing sitar player Ravi Shankar to the attention of the Western World Harrison introduced the instrument to other rock groups (like the Rolling Stones.) And his willingness to stray from the traditional western rock instruments (guitar, bass, drums, piano) helped “pave the way for such groundbreaking Beatles albums as Revolver and Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” [Ibid]

He scored with three singles on Revolver, “Taxman,” “Love You To” and “I Want to Tell You.” You can really hear the Eastern influence on “Love You To”

He only contributed one song to Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, “Within You Without You.”  He’s the only Beatle to play on the song.

[Continued in PART TWO]


Keeley Hawes 2.10.13 Thought of the Day

“I’ve been really lucky with my career so far. I haven’t been pigeon-holed, which sometimes happens to actors. … I’m even lucky enough to have done my pocket version of Lady Macbeth!”– Keeley Hawes

Zoe Reynolds

Zoe Reynolds (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Clare Julia “Keeley”  Hawes was born on this day in  Marylebone, London, UK in 1976. She is 37 years old.

The youngest of four siblings she grew up in a working class family. Her father drives a taxi, and her brothers followed suit. Keeley is the only one in the family who was bit by the acting bug. They lived near the Sylvia Young Theatre School and she attended on a grant. There she took ten years of elocution lessons to lose her cockney accent. She also took acting lessons.  At 16 she began modelling for a year and half before making the switch to working as a fashion assistant for Cosmopolitan magazine.

In 1996 she landed a role in Dennis Potter’s Karaoke with Albert Finney and her acting career started in earnest. She had a starring role in the BBC’s 1998 adaptation of Dicken’s Our Mutual Friend. Her Lizzie Hexam is shy, humble, poor, innocent.

Her next major mini series role, Cynthia Kirkpatrick, in Elizabeth Gaskell’s Wives and Daughters is none of those things. The only thing Lizzie and Cynthia have in common is that  they both wear a corset… and Hawes is wonderful in both parts.

In 2002 she took on a much more modern role as Zoe Reynolds in the BBC One spy series Spo0ks (MI-5 in the US). She met her husband, Matthew MacFayden, while working on the series.

Keeley Hawes and Matthew MacFayden from Spooks (Image courtesy Fanpop.com

Keeley Hawes and Matthew MacFayden from Spooks (Image courtesy Fanpop.com]

Speaking of modern, Hawes starred in two modernized Shakespeare plays; an Andrew Davies penned retelling of Othello for Masterpiece Theatre, and as Ella MacBeth in BBC’s  Shakespeare Retold  with James MacAvoy.

Hawes has been busy (I’m only mentioning the performances I’ve seen == all of which have been excellent).

Her latest “Masterpiece” was last year’s Lady Agnes Holland on the reboot of Upstairs Downstairs.


Richard Thompson 1.16.13 Though of the Day

“To stand up on a stage alone with an acoustic guitar requires bravery bordering on heroism. Bordering on insanity.”–Richard Thompson

[Image courtesy Helpless Dancer]

[Image courtesy Helpless Dancer]

Richard John Thompson was born on this day in Notting Hill, London, England in 1949. He is 64 years old.
Thompson was born into a musical family. His father was an amateur guitarist and other family members played music professionally. His first band, which he started in school, was called Emil and the Detectives. Thompson embraced rock and roll, jazz and traditional Scottish music influences as he kerned his skills.
At 18 he joined Fairport Convention, a folk, electric folk, folk rock band.
In his four years with the group, they released a half a dozen albums that married electric rock with acoustic folk, changing the musical landscape in Britain… [NPR.org]
His strong guitar playing helped the band gain traction both in the UK and in the States. Thompson also wrote most of Convention’s songs like “Meet on the Ledge” .
Thompson left Fairport Convention in 1971 and struck out on his own. His first solo album, Henry the Human Fly failed to impress critics and the record buying public, but it did yield an important professional and personal connection — Thompson worked with Linda Peters on the project. Peters and Thompson fell in love and married in October of 1972.
Richard Thompson

Richard Thompson (Photo credit: artolog)

Richard and Linda Thompson put out a half-dozen albums including I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight, Hokey Pokey and Pour Down Like Silver.
The duo hit their professional stride with the well received album Shoot Out the Lights. Unfortunately their personal life together had begun to unravel. After touring to support the album the couple divorced in 1982.
Here’s Wall of Death from Shoot Out the Lights
From 1983 on Thompson was a solo act — kind of — he found a myriad of other performers who mixed well with his vocal, guitar and folk/rock style.
No artist to emerge in the second half of the ’60s has gone on to have a more productive and vital career than Richard Thompson. The England-born, L.A.-based artist has amassed an astounding body of work comprising more than 40 albums, containing artfully shaped material that seamlessly and expressively integrates traditional and contemporary modes. And Thompson is among the most distinctive of guitar virtuosos, capable of breathtaking drama and sublime delicacy, prompting Rolling Stone to hail him as “a perennial dark-horse contender for the title of greatest living rock guitarist.” [Amazon.com — Richard Thompson Biography]
Richard Thompson at Cambridge Folk Festival

Richard Thompson at Cambridge Folk Festival (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Here’s 1952 Vincent Black Lightning a beautiful exhibition of his storytelling and musical skills.
The Thompson’s son Teddy began singing professionally with his father in the 1990’s. The two performed a duet, Persausion, for Action Packed, Richard Thompson’s 1999 best-of record.
That same year Thompson was asked for a list of the most popular music of the previous millennium for Playboy Magazine.  Thompson knew they were only looking for a pop look at the past 20 years or so, but he took the task to heart and researched songs stretching back 1068.  He started with Sumer is Icumen In and ended with his own take on Oops! I Did It Again. Thompson decided to record the songs (he did 23 in all).
To get a comprehensive taste of Thompson music you can listen to this NPR concert:

RICHARD THOMPS SM


Imelda Staunton 1.9.13 Thought of the Day

“…It was the best job of my life. It’s rather like falling out of an aeroplane with no parachute.”
–Imelda Staunton

Imelda

Imelda (Photo credit: Lizzie Wells)

Imelda Mary Philomena Bernadette Staunton was born on this day in London, England, in 1956. She is 57 years old.

Staunton, an only child, lived with her mum and dad over her mother’s hair dressing salon. Her mother was also a gifted natural musician who could pick up  songs by ear (but couldn’t read music.) She passed on her love of music to Staunton who attended La Sainte Union Convent Catholic school. After graduation she attended the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts.

Staunton wasted no time launching her career following graduation, becoming associated with such prestigious venues as The Old Vic and the National Theatre. [Moviefone: Imelda Staunton Biography.]

Musical theatre and Shakespeare fill her Stage CV. She won the prestigious Olivier Award twice.

On film she landed a role in the ensemble movie Peter’s Friends with Kenneth Branagh, Stephen Fry, Emma Thompson and Hugh Laurie. She worked with Branagh and Thompson again in Much Ado About Nothing. Then paired up with Laurie as Mr. and Mrs. Jennings in Thompson’s wonderful adaption of Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility in 1995. (Thompson both wrote the screen play and starred in the film). She was Maria in Twelfth Night and the nurse in Shakespeare in Love.

As Staunton’s numerous stage roles continued to earn her critical success, frequent television and film roles made her a familiar and endearing face to the general public. [Ibid]

She stepped away from the crowd with a starring dramatic role in Vera Drake.

Her undeniably affecting portrayal of the title role — a selfless housewife and cleaning woman who makes a name for herself performing illegal abortions — earned her near-universal praise. After earning accolades from both The Venice Film Festival and The New York Film Festival as well as the Los Angeles and Chicago film critic associations, Staunton had undeniably arrived when the role earned her a Best Actress nomination for the 77th Annual Academy Awards. [Ibid]

She took home a BAFTA for Vera.

Français : Avant-Première Mondiale d'Harry Pot...

Français : Avant-Première Mondiale d’Harry Potter et les Reliques de la Mort, à Londres, le 7 Juillet 2011 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In 2007 she, like many other classically trained British actors, found a new audience when she took a role in a Harry Potter film. Staunton played the nasty Defense Against the Dark Arts Professor in a fluffy pink cardigan, Dolores Umbridge in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.

Some Ministry officials in Harry Potter and th...

Some Ministry officials in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, from left to right: John Dawlish, auror; Dolores Umbridge, Senior Undersecretary to the Minister; Cornelius Fudge, Minister for Magic; and Kingsley Shacklebolt, auror. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

She laced up a corset again for her supporting role as Miss Octavia Pole in the BBC’s delightful adaptation of Elizabeth Gaskell’s Cranford (and again for Return to Cranford).

Julia Mackenzie and Imelda Staunton

Julia Mackenzie and Imelda Staunton (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Staunton has lent her voice to a number of acting projects including and animated version of the Wind in the Willows, The Adventures of Mole, The Adventures of Toad, The Ugly Duckling, and Chicken Run. She’s even did a turn as the voice of Interface on Dr. Who.

 


David Bowie 1.6.13 Thought oh the Day

I’m an instant star.  just add water and stir.”
David Bowie

[Image courtesy Fashion Office Buzz)

[Image courtesy Fashion Office Buzz)

David Robert Jones was born on this day in Brixton, London, England in 1947. He is 66 years old.

He attended local schools in Brixton and Bromley. He took choir– his voice was given a grade of average. — and learned to play the recorder. At home his father bought a stack of American 45s and introduced young David to Rock and Roll. Inspired by Little Richard and Elvis Presley he amped up his music cred by adding ukulele and tea-chest bass to the mix.

At age thirteen, inspired by the jazz of the London West End, he picked up the saxophone and called up Ronnie Ross for lessons. Early bands he played with – The Kon-Rads, The King Bees, the Mannish Boys and the Lower Third –provided him with an introduction into the showy world of pop and mod, and by 1966 he was David Bowie, with long hair and aspirations of stardom rustling about his head. [David Bowie.com]

His self titled, and bizarrely campy, debut album came out in 1967. [It’s pretty hard to listen to any of the songs now, but if you must experience it try The Laughing Gnome Song — http://youtu.be/mWoT9elA-oY  complete with squeaky gnome co-star.]

Bowie’s professional career took off with the 1969 release of his Space Oddity album. The record reach #5 in England.  Space Oddity (aka “Major Tom”) was the break out single, and it remains both a Bowie classic and a pop anthem.

But the longer, more complex, and beautiful Cygnet Committee shouldn’t be overlooked.

His third album, The Man Who Sold the World took on a harder rock feel, and introduced us to  the Spiders from Mars.

Here’s the title track:

And another favorite — All the Madmen:

Album #4 was Hunky Dory released in 1971.  So it’s time for a little ch-ch- Changes

And Life On Mars

[I’m limiting myself to just two clips per album… grrr. But you could go pull the YouTube version of Oh! You Pretty Things  too.]

Next up it was a full concept album with The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars.  Here’s Starman..

and Ummmmmm Yeah…… Ziggy Stardust

1973 brought Aladdin Sane and Pin Ups, followed the next year with Diamond Dogs featuring Rebel, Rebel

Young Americans came out in 1975. The title song reached #28 on the Billboard Charts…

Here he is grooving another hit from the album, Fame
Station to Station introduced Bowie’s Thin White Duke character while continuing the funk and soul sound of Young Americans. Here’s Golden Years.

Low began Bowie his Berlin Trilogy. It is one of his best. [I also love Sound and Vision and Breaking Glass] Here’s Always Crashing The Same Car...

Part two of the Berlin Trilogy was Heroes which came out in 1977. I’ve got to go with the title track on this one…

His thirteenth album, and the last in the Berlin Trilogy, was Lodger.  Here’s Look Back in Anger.

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The Berlin Trilogy was a critical and artistic success, but not immediately financial success.

Both came with Bowie’s 14th Album Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps) which hit #1 in the UK and did well in the US.

Bowie went pop and super dance-y with Let’s Dance. Singles China Girl, Modern Love and Let’s Dance all did well. Let’s Dance sold 6 million records.

After Let’s Dance Bowie kind of fell of my RADAR, frankly. But he continued to write and sing and put out albums for another two decades:

  • Tonight (84)
  • Never Let Me Down (87)
  • Black Tie White Noise (93)
  • Buddha of Suburbia (93)
  • Outside (95)
  • Earthling (97)
  • Hours (99)
  • Heathen (02)
  • Reality (03)

He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996, but he didn’t attend the ceremony or the concert.

After The release of Reality and its related A Reality Tour Bowie went into the woodwork.

Apart from the odd rare sighting at a charity function and one or two snatched paparazzi shots, David has kept an extremely low profile [David Bowie.com]

But now it appears he is back. Today he release a new single, Where Are We Now, and he is promising a new album, his 30th, in March!

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“We can be heroes, just for one day.” — David Bowie

“I’m always amazed that people take what I say seriously. I don’t even take what I ‘am’ seriously.” — David Bowie


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