TAGS: Writers & Writing, Famous Birthdays
Writers I Love: Dashiell Hammett ~ Renaissance Man ~ Author of "The Thin Man" & "The Maltese Falcon"
TAGS: Authors, Famous Birthdays
When you stop to consider that 84 is not that old by today's standards, it really hits you that 35 is a very young age to die. Only 35 years on the planet, and she gave us A Raisin in the Sun, directed theater, and eked out a string of new work that was eventually produced for stage as To Be Young, Gifted and Black. But it's not the time you put in, it's what you do with the time. The clips below show rave reviews for the current Broadway revival of Raisin, featuring the invincible Denzel Washington, as well as interviews with the playwright, and clips of the play featuring Sean Jean and the legendary Sidney Poitier in the original film version.
Marilyn Monroe - The Woman Who Will Not Die - Her Life Story, Happy Birthday, JFK & Gloria Steinem on Why
His birthday would not take place for another 10 days on May 29, 1962, but they held the party early. Marilyn sang. And the rest, as they say, is history.
Marilyn Monroe was born Norma Jean Mortenson on June 1, 1926. The song, her story, and Lana Del Rey's homage to Marilyn in her "National Anthem" video are included in the slideshow below, along with Mira Sorvino's take, as well as the documentary, Marilyn Monroe - The Final Days.
But you can't think about Marilyn Monroe at this late date without due consideration to the trenchant insights and enlightening perspective of Gloria Steinem. So I've included here a couple of her PBS interviews on Marilyn and a link to her book on the same subject. In an essay included near the end of the slideshow, Ms. Steinem refers to Marilyn Monroe as "The Woman Who Will Not Die," and that seems a fitting summary of where we stand with the reluctant goddess who once loved a president and died.
Some of the clips included in the following slide presentation on Malcolm X still have the power the strike a chord that evokes the pity and fear of Aristotelian tragedy. You will find clips below of some of his most stirring speeches and interviews as well as scenes from Spike Lee's movie about the charismatic black leader. Cornel West weighs in, and there is the moving "A Change Is Gonna Come" montage (featuring Sam Cooke's never-equaled rendition) from the end of Lee's film. The birthday anniversary of Malcolm X is a time for reflection on our uniquely American situation - where we've been as a nation, how far we've come, and how much further there is yet to go.
When events become as famous as Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "Letter from a Birmingham Jail" and the fact, at least, that Oscar Wilde was sentenced to prison for homosexuality - we tend to think we know all about them when all we really know is whatever remains in memory from the last time we thought about them. (Palimpsest is the name of a novel Gore Vidal wrote about that phenomenon.) And this gives one pause. How much do we really know about anything? Even now in this age of information. Perhaps especially now since overload can lead to a kind of Babel effect.
That's one reason it doesn't hurt to revisit these events on their anniversary dates. What you'll find in the slides below is a clip of Dr. King reading his famous letter and also others reading it. Why today? King drafted the letter on April 14, 1963, two days after his arrest in Birmingham, but it was on May 19 that the it was published in the New York Post Sunday Magazine. It is one of the most anthologized pieces of the Civil Rights Movement and bears revisited scrutiny extremely well. Included in the slides below are the usual fact pieces you can access by clicking the hyperlink on each slide in case you want to drill into the material a bit.
For Oscar Wilde, you'll find background on the alleged crime that led to his sentencing (which is also covered in a previous blog of mine with different clips) and a video dramatization of Wilde's second year in jail, along with his advice regarding life.
Here's a look at the life and work of Cate Blanchett - arguably one of the best actors of our time. I believe there is a secret to this kind of greatness. The kind that produces Katherine Hepburn and Meryl Streep. It's called "abnegation of self." The complete sacrificing of oneself in service of the character, the art, and those who will be fed by it. Some lovely clips from Benjamin Button, Elizabeth, the Aviator, and Blue Jasmine follow below. Happy Birthday, Cate!
One makes us laugh. The other makes us sing. Both their stories and some of their best moments in the slides below.
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