Archives for : OLD HOLLYWOOD

Marilyn Monroe (June 1, 1926 – August 5, 1962)

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On this date in 1962, Hollywood star Marilyn Monroe was found dead at the age of 36yrs old.

New York, August 5

Marilyn Monroe was found dead in bed this morning in her home in Hollywood, only a physical mile or two, but a social universe, away from the place where she was born 36 years ago as Norma Jean Baker. She died with a row of medicines and an empty bottle of barbiturates at her elbow.

These stony sentences, which read like the epitaph of a Raymond Chandler victim, will confirm for too many millions of movie fans the usual melodrama of a humble girl, cursed by physical beauty, to be dazed and doomed by the fame that was too much for her. For Americans, the last chapter was written on the weekend that a respectable national picture magazine printed for the delectation of her troubled fans a confessional piece called “Marilyn Monroe pours out her soul.”

The plot of her early life is as seedy as anything in the pulp magazines, and to go into the details now would be as tasteless as prying into the clinical file of any other pretty woman whose beauty has crumbled overnight. It is enough, for summoning the necessary compassion, to recall her miserable parents, her being shuttled like a nuisance from foster home to orphanage, the subsequent knockabout years in a war factory, her short independence as a sailor’s wife, the unsuspected first rung of the ladder provided by a posing job for a nude calendar.

She talked easily about all this, when people had the gall to ask her, not as someone reconciled to a wretched childhood but as a wide-eyed outsider, an innocent as foreign to the subject under discussion as Chaplin is when he stands off and analyses the appeal of ” The Little Man.”

Then she wiggled briefly past the lecherous gaze of Louis Calhern in John Huston’s ” Asphalt Jungle,” and his appraising whinny echoed round the globe. Within two years she was the enthroned sexpot of the Western world. She completed the first phase of the American dream by marrying the immortal Joe Di Maggio, the loping hero of the New York Yankees; and the second phase by marrying Arthur Miller and so redeeming his suspect Americanism at the moment it was in question before a House committee.

To say that Marilyn Monroe was a charming, shrewd, and pathetic woman of a tragic integrity will sound as preposterous to the outsider as William Empson’s Freudian analysis of Alice in Wonderland. It is nevertheless true. We restrict the word “integrity” to people, either simple or complex, who have a strong sense of righteousness or, if they are public men, of self-righteousness. Yet it surely means no more than what it says: wholeness, being free to be spontaneous, without reck of consistency or moral appearances. It can be true of forlorn and bewildered people as of the disciplined and the solemn.

In this sense, Marilyn Monroe was all of a piece. She was confused, pathologically shy, a straw on the ocean of her compulsions (to pout, to crackwise, to love a stranger, to be six hours late or lock herself in a room). She was a sweet and humorous person increasingly terrified by the huge stereotype of herself she saw plastered all around her. The exploitation of this pneumatic, mocking, liquid-lipped goddess gave the world a simple picture of the Lorelei. She was about as much of a Lorelei as Bridget, the housemaid.

This orphan of the rootless City of the Angels at last could feel no other identity than the one she saw in the mirror: a baffled, honest girl forever haunted by the nightmare of herself, 60 feet tall and naked before a howling mob. She could never learn to acquire the lacquered shell of the prima donna or the armour of sophistication. So in the end she sought the ultimate oblivion, of which her chronic latecomings and desperate retreats to her room were token suicides.

ELLA FITZGERALD – THE RACISM SHE FACED IN THE 50’S

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Apparently in the 1950s, a popular nightclub, Mocambo would not book Ella Fitzgerald because she was black. Fortunately for Ella, she had a powerful and unlikely benefactor, Marilyn Monroe.

“I owe Marilyn Monroe a real debt…it was because of her that I played the Mocambo, a very popular nightclub in the ’50s. She personally called the owner of the Mocambo, and told him she wanted me booked immediately, and if he would do it, she promised she would take a front table every night. She told him – and it was true, due to Marilyn’s superstar status – that the press would go wild. The owner said yes, and Marilyn was there, front table, every night. The press went overboard. After that, I never had to play a small jazz club again. She was an unusual woman – and ahead of her time and she didn’t know it.” – Ella Fitzgerald

Diana Ross: Trend Setter!

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20 Feet From Stardom: Oscar Winners!

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Legendary singers Dr. Mable John and Susay Green, picture holding there Oscars for the Documentary 20 Feet From Stardom. Congratulation’s ladies!

Michael Jackson: Motown 25th Anniversary!

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On March 25th In 1983, Motown Records celebrated its 25 anniversary with a concert in Pasadena. Widely hailed as Michael’s breakthrough performance as a solo artist, he performed “Billie Jean”, which at the time was in the middle of a seven-week run atop the Billboard Hot 100 music charts. This was also the first time he performed what would become his most famous signature move, the moonwalk. Michael’s performance at the show was unique in that he was the only artist given time to perform music that wasn’t written under the Motown label.

Michael Jackson’s concert performances of “Billie Jean” in the years since Motown 25 were always formatted on his performance on this special, from the opening pose with the fedora, black sequin jacket and glove, to the moonwalk routine in the song’s bridge.

Elizabeth Taylor:(February 27th 1932-March 23rd 2011)

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Dorothy Dandridge: Oscar’s Best!

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Dorothy Dandridge presenting the Oscar for Film Editing for “On the Waterfront” at the 27th Academy Awards at New York’s Century Theater on March 30, 1955. She was nominated for Best Actress that year for her role in “Carmen Jones”. The photo appeared in Ebony and the video is from the official Oscar page on YouTube. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J6bVpXgK5uw

Nat & Maria: King & Queen Of The Oscars!

 

1656239_727181487321717_675365699_nNat “King” Cole and his wife Maria Cole attend the 35th Annual Academy Awards at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium on April 8, 1963. Photo: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images.

Dinah Washington: Birthday Girl!

 

 

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Dinah Washington and her father Ollie Jones hold a birthday cake in 1956

Juanita Moore:October 19, 1914-January 1, 2014

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Juanita Moore (October 19, 1914 – January 1, 2014) was an American film, television, and stage actress. She was the fifth African American to be nominated for an Academy Award in any category, and the third in the Supporting Actress category at a time when only a single African American had won an Oscar. Her most famous role was as Annie Johnson in the movie Imitation of Life (1959).

 

Born in Los Angeles in 1914, Moore was a chorus girl at the Cotton Club before becoming a film extra while working in theater. After making her film debut in Pinky (1949),[1] she had a number of bit parts and supporting roles in motion pictures through the 1950s and 1960s. However, her role in Imitation of Life (1959), a remake, as housekeeper Annie Johnson, whose daughter Sarah Jane (Susan Kohner) passes for white, won her a nomination for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. She was also nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture for the role.[2] When the two versions of Imitation of Life were released together on DVD, the earlier film was released in 1934, one of the bonus features was a new interview with Juanita Moore.

Moore continued to perform in front of the camera, with a role in the movie Disney’s The Kid (2000) and guest-starring roles on television shows Dragnet, Marcus Welby, M.D., ER and Judging Amy.

On April 23, 2010, a new print of Imitation of Life (1959) was screened at the TCM Film Festival in Los Angeles, to which Moore and co-star Kohner were invited. After the screening, the two women appeared on stage for a question-and-answer session hosted by TCM’s Robert Osborne. Moore and Kohner received standing ovations.

Moore was married for 50 years to Charles Burris; he died in 2001. He was a Los Angeles bus driver and, although she was a frequent passenger, she had stepped out in front of his approaching bus to cross the street to a local bar, hoping to find someone to study for the Inès Serrano role in the play No Exit—Serrano was a lesbian, and Moore was unfamiliar with the lifestyle. She and Burris married a few weeks later.

Her grandson is actor/producer Kirk Kelley-Kahn, who is CEO/President of “Cambridge Players – Next Generation”, a theatre troupe whose founding members included Moore, Esther Rolle, Helen Martin, Lynn Hamilton and Royce Wallace.[

Moore died at her home in Los Angeles on January 1, 2014, from natural causes. She was 99 years old.

Geraldine McGee Rosenthal: The Real Ginger!

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Geraldine (Geri) McGee Rosenthal (May 16, 1936 – November 9, 1982) was the second wife of Las Vegas sports handicapper, Frank Rosenthal. She provided the basis for the character of “Ginger,” portrayed by Sharon Stone in the 1995 movie Casino. Geri and her sister, Barbara, grew up in the Sherman Oaks community of Los AngelesSan Fernando Valley and went to Van Nuys High School with Robert Redford and Don Drysdale.

Geri started going out with Lenny Marmor in high school. Their daughter, Robin L Marmor, was born December 27, 1957, in Los Angeles, and Lenny, who never married her though he was married three times to other women, talked Geri into moving to Las Vegas. Geraldine met Anthony Spilotro while at a convention in Atlantic City. She had an affair with him at that time. Later, after marrying Rosenthal the affair with Spilotro would resume.

When Frank met Geri, she had been hustling in Las Vegas for close to eight years. She owned her own house and was raising her 11-year-old daughter Robin, who was fathered by her high school sweetheart Lenny Marmor. Geri supported her ailing mother, Alice Pollock McGee, and her sister, Barbara Stokich (b. Feb 6 1934, d. May 7, 2000), who had been abandoned with two young sons after her husband left. In 1954, Geri’s aunt (her father’s sister) received a large inheritance.

Geri’s aunt offered to send Geri to Woodbury Business School, as she had Geri’s sister Barbara, but Geri wanted to go to UCLA or USC. Instead she got a job at Thirty Drugs, then as a teller for Bank of America. Lenny would visit Geri and their daughter, usually for two or three days, often with the intention to borrow money for a “surefire” business deal. Occasionally, her father, Roy McGee, a California auto mechanic long separated from her mother, would visit. Besides Marmor and Rosenthal, Geri was also seeing John Hicks. Johnny Hicks was about 10 years younger than Geri. She adored Hicks and some believed he would have married her, except he had very rich parents who objected to the relationship.

The Hicks owned the Algiers Hotel and the Thunderbird Casino and didn’t want the couple to wed. Johnny Hicks had a $1,000-a-month trust fund and would have had it taken away if he married Geri. Johnny liked to act as a tough guy and hung around Downtown Las Vegas with a crew that used to beat up prostitutes.

 

Frank and Geri were married on May 1, 1969. They had two children, Steven and Stephanie. Their divorce was final January 16, 1981. Geraldine Rosenthal died from a drug overdose Nov. 9, 1982, and was buried at Mount Sinai Cemetery in Los Angeles. Frank Rosenthal spent $50,000 to have a private autopsy conducted.

MGB&CO: Island Life!

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In Antigua with my girl, Nicole Scherzinger, as we walk to meet The X Factor UK contestants. Abi Alton, Tanera Foster, Hannah Barrett, Melanie McCabe, Relley Clarke and Jade Richards – YOU ARE ALL STARS.

UK Fans Tune in to ITV tonight at 7:10pm to see who we decide will SHINE THE BRIGHTEST!

#AMaryChristmas is available for pre-order now here:
Amazon – http://po.st/MJxAfb
Itunes – http://po.st/MJxfbiT

Let’s Get It On: 40th Anniversary!

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In the spring of 1972, Marvin Gaye was suffering from writer’s block] Following the release of his most commercially successful album up to that point, What’s Going On (1971), and the soundtrack album to the blaxploitation film Trouble Man (1972), Gaye had struggled to come up with new material after Motown Records had renegotiated a new contract with him. The contract provided him with more creative control over his recordings. The deal was worth $ 1 million, making him the highest-earning soul artist, as well as the highest-earning black artist, at the time.

He was also struggling with deciding whether or not to relocate to Los Angeles, following Motown-CEO Berry Gordy‘s move of the record label and replacement of the Detroit-based Hitsville U.S.A. (Motown Studio A) recording studio with the Hitsville West studio in Los Angeles. Amid relocation and his lack of material, Gaye was struggling with his conscience, as well as dealing with expectations from his wife, Gordy’s sister Anna. Gaye’s separation from Gordy pressured him emotionally. During this time, he had also been attempting to cope with past issues that had stemmed from his childhood.

During his childhood, Gaye had been physically abused by his preacher father Marvin Gay, Sr., who disciplined his son under extremely moralistic and fundamentalist Christian teachings. As a result, the meaning and practice of sex had later become a disturbing question for Gaye. As an adult, he suffered with sexual impotence and became plagued by sadomasochistic fantasies, which haunted him in his dreams and provoked some guilt in his conscience.

According to Gaye’s biographer David Ritz, “his view of sex was unsettled, tormented, riddled with pain”. Gaye learned to cope with his personal issues with a newly found spirituality. He began incorporating his new outlook into his music, as initially expressed through the socially conscious album What’s Going On, along with promotional photos of him wearing a kufi in honor of African traditional religions and his faith.

By winning over record executives with the success of What’s Going On, Gaye attained more creative control, which he would use, following his brief separation from wife Anna Gordy, to record an album that was meant to surface themes beyond sex] As with What’s Going On, Gaye wanted to have a deeper meaning than the general theme that was used to portray it; in the case of the former, politics, and with its follow-up effort, love and romance, which would be used by Gaye as a metaphor for God’s love. In his book Divided Soul: The Life of Marvin Gaye, David Ritz wrote of Gaye and the musical inspiration behind Gaye’s second landmark record:

If the most profound soul songs are prayers in secular dress, Marvin’s prayer is to reconcile the ecstasy of his early religious epiphany with a sexual epiphany. The hope for such a reconciliation, the search for sexual healing, is what drives his art … The paradox is this: The sexiest of Marvin Gaye’s work is also his most spiritual. That’s the paradox of Marvin himself. In his struggle to wed body and soul, in his exploration of sexual passion, he expresses the most human of hungers—the hunger for God. In those songs of loss and lament—the sense of separation is heartbreaking. On one level, the separation is between man and woman. On a deeper level, the separation is between man and God.

In the album’s liner notes, Gaye explained his views on the themes of sex and love, stating “I can’t see anything wrong with sex between consenting anybodies. I think we make far too much of it. After all, one’s genitals are just one important part of the magnificent human body … I contend that SEX IS SEX and LOVE IS LOVE. When combined, they work well together, if two people are of about the same mind. But they are really two discrete needs and should be treated as such. Time and space will not permit me to expound further, especially in the area of the psyche. I don’t believe in overly moralistic philosophies. Have your sex, it can be exciting, if you’re lucky. I hope the music that I present here makes you lucky.”

Gaye proceeded to record some more politically conscious material at the Golden World Records studio, known as Motown’s Studio B, as well as the preliminary vocals and instrumentation for some of the material to be featured on Let’s Get It On.Following the earlier sessions in Detroit at Golden World, Gaye recorded at Hitsville West in Los Angeles from February to July 1973.

Accompanied by an experienced group of session musicians called The Funk Brothers, who had contributed to Gaye’s What’s Going On, and received their first official credit, Gaye recorded the unreleased songs “The World is Rated X” and “Where Are We Going” and the single “You’re the Man” (1972) at Golden World.

“Where Are We Going” was later covered by trumpeter Donald Byrd. Gaye had planned the release of an album titled You’re the Man, but it was later shelved for unknown reasons. The songs that were to be included on it, along with other unreleased recordings from Hitsville West and Golden World, were later featured on the 2001 re-release of Let’s Get It On.

The album’s first recording, “Let’s Get It On“, was composed by Gaye with friend and former Motown label mate Ed Townsend. It was originally written by Gaye as a religious ode to life, but Motown singer-songwriter Kenneth Stover re-wrote it as a more political first draft.

Upon hearing Gaye’s preliminary mix of Stover’s draft, Townsend protested and claimed that the song would be better suited with sexual and romantic overtones, particularly “about making sweet love.” Gaye and Townsend rewrote the song’s lyrics together with the original arrangements and musical accompaniment of the demo intact. The lyrics were inspired by Janis Hunter, whom Gaye had become infatuated with after meeting each other through Ed Townsend during the initial sessions.

Townsend has cited Hunter’s presence during the album’s recording as an inspiration for Gaye. Gaye’s intimate relationship with Hunter subsequently became the basis for his 1976 album I Want You. While recording the title track, he was inspired to revive unfinished recordings from his 1970 sessions at the Hitsville U.S.A. Studio.

Townsend assisted Gaye with producing the rest of the album, whose recording took place at several sessions throughout 1970 to 1973.They worked on four songs together, including the ballad “If I Should Die Tonight“, while Gaye composed most of the other songs, including those from past sessions. “Just to Keep You Satisfied” was originally recorded by several Motown groups, including The Originals and The Monitors, as a song dedicated to long-standing love.

With re-recording the song, he had re-written the arrangement and lyrics to address the demise of his volatile marriage to Anna Gordy Gaye, who happened to be the original song’s co-writer. The background vocals for the album were sung by Gaye, with the exception of “Just to Keep You Satisfied”, which were done by The Originals.[ Most of the instrumentation for the album was done by members of The Funk Brothers, including bassist James Jamerson, guitarists Robert White and Eddie Willis, and percussionist Eddie “Bongo” Brown. Gaye also contributed on piano during the session.

Let’s Get It On” features soulful, passionate vocals and multi-tracked background singing, both by Gaye.[ It has a 1950s-styled melody and begins with three wah-wah guitar notes and centers around simple chord changes, while its arrangements are centered around an eccentric rhythm pattern.

Its signature guitar line is played by session musician Don Peake. Music journalist Jon Landau dubs the song “a classic Motown single, endlessly repeatable and always enjoyable”. The song is reprised on the fourth track, “Keep Gettin’ It On“. It expands on the title track’s sensual theme with political overtones: “won’t you rather make love, children / as opposed to war, like you know you should.”

“Distant Lover” has Gaye crooning over serene instrumentation, leading to soulful screams near the end; from a heartbroken croon to an impassioned wail. The song’s lyrics chronicled the yearning its narrator feels for a lover who is “so many miles away”, as he pleads for her return and laments the emptiness he feels without her.

Music writer Donarld A. Guarisco later wrote of the song’s sound, in that “Marvin Gaye’s studio recording enhances the dreamy style of the song with stately horn and strings, tumbling drum fills that gently nudge the song along, and mellow, doo wop-styled background vocals that echo “love her, you love her” under his romantic pleas. The song later became a concert favorite for Gaye and a live concert version, featuring female fans screaming in the background, was released as a single from his Marvin Gaye Live! album in 1974.

You Sure Love to Ball” is one of Gaye’s most sexually overt and controversial singles, with its intro and outro featuring moaning sounds made by a man and woman engaged in sex. The sexual-explicit and risqué nature of the album’s content were, at the time, controversial, and the recording of such an album was deemed as a commercial risk by Motown A&R‘s (Artists and Repertoire) and label executives.

Released on August 28, 1973, Let’s Get It On surpassed Gaye’s previous studio effort, What’s Going On, as the best-selling record of his tenure with Motown. The album peaked at number two on the US Billboard Top LPs chart, succeeded by The Rolling Stones‘s Goats Head Soup (1973),while it also managed to reach number one in Cash Box for one week, as well as two weeks at the top of Record World‘s music charts.

Let’s Get It On charted for 61 weeks on the Billboard charts, and remained at the top of the Billboard Soul Albums for 11 weeks, becoming the best-selling soul album of 1973. The album’s lead single, “Let’s Get It On”, became one of Gaye’s most successful singles, as it reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart on September 8, 1973.

It remained at number one for two weeks, while also remaining at the top of the Billboard Soul Singles chart for eight weeks. The single was at that time Motown’s largest-selling recording ever, selling over three million copies between 1973 and 1975. On June 25, 2007, it was certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America for shipments of one million copies in the United States.

Two of the album’s singles reached the top 40 of the Billboard Hot 100, including “Let’s Get It On”, which became Gaye’s second number-one US single, and the top-30 hit “Come Get to This”, which peaked at number 23 on the chart. The album’s third single, “You Sure Love to Ball“, charted at number 50 on the Hot 100 and at number 13 on the Soul Singles chart. Along with the album’s music and sexual content, Let’s Get It On‘s commercial success and promotion helped establish Marvin Gaye as a sex icon, while helping further expand his artistic control during his tenure at Motown.

This commercial success also lead to a much publicized tour for Gaye to promote Let’s Get It On and expand on his repertoire as a live performer.Successful concert performances of the album’s material helped Gaye gain an increasing popularity and fan base in the pop market, while earning him a reputation as one of the top live performers of the time.[19] His performance at the Oakland Coliseum during the 1973-1974 tour was released on the 1974 LP Live!, which would serve as Gaye’s only release during his sabbatical period in the mid-1970s.

Let’s Get It On received positive reviews from music critics. Billboard called it “fine in terms of vocal attack and material […] touches on the excellent in terms of instrumental support”, while citing the title track and “Distant Lover” as the album’s best recordings. Jon Landau of Rolling Stone found Gaye’s performance on-par with that of What’s Going On and wrote that “he continues to transmit that same degree of intensity, sending out near cosmic overtones while eloquently phrasing the sometimes simplistic lyrics”.

Although he viewed that it “lacks that album’s series of highpoints”, Landau commented that “it ebbs and flows, occasionally threatening to spend itself on an insufficiency of ideas, but always retrieved, just in time, by Gaye’s performance. From first note to last, he keeps pushing and shoving, and if he sometimes takes one step back for every two ahead, he gets there just the same — and with style and spirit to spare”. In his consumer guide for The Village Voice, Robert Christgau called the album “post-Al Green What’s Going On, which means it’s about fucking rather than the human condition, thank the wholly holey”.

He found its title track to be “as much a masterpiece as ‘Inner City Blues‘” and quipped, “this album prolongs its seductive groove to an appropriate thirty minutes plus”.

Since its initial reception, Let’s Get It On has been viewed by writers as a milestone in soul music. In The Best Rock ‘n’ Roll Records of All Time, Jimmy Guterman writes that the album was “a bit more conventional musically (soul crossing into mild funk) and much more focused lyrically than its predecessor, What’s Going On“.

Chicago Tribune writer Greg Kot commended Gaye for using “the multi-tracked vocals perfected on ‘What’s Going On‘, this time to convey his most intimate desires”, commenting that “while the album is replete with erotic imagery, both implied and explicit, it is also as much preoccupied with distance and unfulfilled need” Jason Ankeny of Allmusic called it “a record unparalleled in its sheer sensuality and carnal energy”, writing that “Gaye’s passions reach their boiling point […] With each performance laced with innuendo, each lyric a come-on, and each rhythm throbbing with lust, perhaps no other record has ever achieved the kind of sheer erotic force of Let’s Get It On“.

Ankeny also dubbed it “one of the most sexually charged albums ever recorded.”Allmusic’s Lindsey Planer cites it as a “hedonistic R&B masterpiece.” BBC Music‘s Daryl Easlea found Gaye “in supreme command of his material”, and viewed it as “much more than an album about simple lust”, but an “iconic, rapturous work”.

Much like What’s Going On, Let’s Get It On has been included in a significant amount of “best album” lists by critics and publications] It was ranked number 58 on The Times‘s 1993 publication of the 100 Best Albums of All Time.Blender magazine ranked the album number 15 on its list of the 100 Greatest American Albums of All Time.

In 2003, it was ranked number 165 on Rolling Stone‘s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time publication, his second highest entry on the list, as well as one of three Marvin Gaye albums to be included; What’s Going On (number 6) and Here, My Dear (number 462). In 2004, Let’s Get It On was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame and cited by The Recording Academy as a recording of “historical significance

Belafonte & Poitier: Man Of The March

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FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover tried to disrupt the march by calling celebrity backers to inform them of the organizers’ communist connections and advising them to withdraw their support.  When William C. Sullivan produced a lengthy report on August 23 suggesting that Communists had failed to appreciably infiltrate the civil rights movement, J. Edgar Hoover rejected its contents. 

The federal government believed there would be riots. The sale of liquor in DC was halted, stores were closed early, people were given the day off.  The march was not welcomed by the District of Columbia, white residence stayed home or left the city out of fear.

Sidney Poitier and singer Harry Belafonte at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom on August 28, 1963.

Hollywood: Joins The March On Washington

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Sammy Davis Jr., waving to people as he walks past ushers at the Lincoln Memorial during the March on Washington, 1963. Paul Newman arrives at National Airport in Washington, D.C. to attend the March for Freedom and Jobs.

Baker & Horne: Woman Of The March

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Josephine Baker and Lena Horne at the Lincoln Memorial.  Demonstrators sit near the reflecting pool in Washington DC after participating in the March on Washington.

Gwen Wakeling:From Detroit To Hollywood!

 

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Costume designer Gwen Wakeling (birth name Gwen Sewell, March 3, 1901, Detroit, Michigan – June 16, 1982, Los Angeles, California)

Gwen Wakeling was born in Detroit. Her father was a mining engineer whose work resulted in the family moving every few years, and she wound up living everywhere from Seattle to Los Angeles to Prescott, Arizona. Upon graduating high school she got a job as a fashion artist in a department store.

Wakeling was a personal favourite of Cecil B. DeMille  Indeed her first film was his 1927 epicThe King of Kings“, and she earned an Academy Award for her work on his version of “Samson and Delilah” in 1950.

In a career spanning over 140 films, she also worked for director John Ford on such films as “The Prisoner of Shark Island” (1936), “Drums Along the Mohawk” (1939), “The Grapes of Wrath” (1940) and “How Green Was My Valley” (1941), and provided the costumes for most of the Shirley Temple films, such as Little Miss Broadway, in the 1930s. One of her last assignments was creating Barbara Eden‘s “Jeannie” costumes for I Dream Of Jeannie in 1965.

Wakeling was a member of the Bahá’í Faith, and her husband, Henry J. Staudigl, set up an arts endowment in her memory at Bosch Bahá’í School in Santa Cruz to promote artistic endeavors and included a research and resource library.

She soon was hired by director Cecil B. DeMille when he was working for Pathe Studios, and he took her with him when he moved over to Paramount Pictures. In 1933 she went to work for Fox Films as the studio’s head costume designer. In 1941 she suffered the traumas of a death in her family and a serious illness because of a ruptured appendix, and quit Fox the next year and became a freelancer. She later married writer/director Henry J. Staudigl. She won an Oscar for costume design for Samson and Delilah (1949).

Carol Landis: Affair Of The Heart

The 60th anniversary of Carole Landis’ suicide is coming up, so I thought it would be interesting to post a Times photo of the crime scene. I noticed several unusual things right away, but just to make this a bit more interesting, take a look at this photo and tell me what you see. There is at least one detail that I find extremely odd. At right, Landis in a 1940 studio photo.

 

Landis was reportedly crushed when Harrison refused to divorce his wife for her; unable to cope any longer, she committed suicide in her Pacific Palisades home at 1465 Capri Drive by taking an overdose of Seconal.She had spent her final night alive with Harrison.

 

In June 1939, director-choreographer Busby Berkeley proposed to Landis, but later broke it off. In 1940 she married yacht broker Willis Hunt Jr., a man she called “sarcastic” and left after two months. Two years later, she met an Army Air Corps captain named Thomas Wallace in London, and married him in a church ceremony; they divorced a couple of years later. Landis wanted to have children but was unable to conceive due to endometriosis.

 

In 1945, Landis married Broadway producer W. Horace Schmidlapp. By 1948, her career was in decline and her marriage with Schmidlapp was collapsing. She entered into a romance with actor Rex Harrison, who was then married to actress Lilli Palmer

 

The next afternoon, Harrison and the maid discovered her on the bathroom floor. Harrison waited several hours before he called a doctor and the police. According to some sources, Landis left two suicide notes, one for her mother and the second for Harrison who instructed his lawyers to destroy it

 

.During a coroner’s inquest, Harrison denied knowing any motive for her suicide and told the coroner he did not know of the existence of a second suicide note.Landis’ official web site, which is owned by her family, has questioned the events of Landis’ death and the coroner’s ruling of suicide.

Carole Landis was interred in Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery in Glendale, California in plot 814 of the “Everlasting Love” section. Among the celebrities at her funeral were Cesar Romero, Van Johnson, and Pat O’Brien.Harrison attended with his wife.

Landis has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame,at 1765 Vine Street.

Photograph by the Los Angeles Times Detectives John M. Laymen, top and Emmett Jones examine the body of actress Carol Landis in a bathroom (one of four) at her home at 1465 Capri Drive, July 5, 1948

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