And an Upcoming Novel
Actually, Arthur Conan Doyle had been publishing the stories one at a time since 1877, but it was on this day in 1892 that the collection known as The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes was published in book form. These stories have held up beautifully over time, and in film there have been more incarnations of the eccentric detective than you can shake a stick at. To say that the old boy has staying power is putting it mildly. Here's a marvelous video compilation of the current incarnation starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Lara Pulver, which features Florence and the Machine's No Light, No Light over scenes from A Scandal in Belgravia. A bit of flesh in some of these scenes. Tread cautiously and stay away entirely if this offends. Thank you, Eustace Barnes!
Earl Lloyd Integrates the NBA
Think of it - he was only 21 years old on this day in 1950 when he broke the color barrier in the NBA. When you look at the pantheon of African-American superstars in this sport in the succeeding years, it's hard to believe there was ever a time when black players weren't part of the league. Here he is talking about what it was like.
Let's face it. When you say Peter Jackson (born this day 1961), you don't think King Kong, though he did direct a recent version of that story. You think Lord of the Rings. To celebrate his birthday, here's the trailer from the phenomenal The Return of the King.
Born this day in 1896, she was a renowned singer of jazz and blues, and also a terrific actress. Here she is singing "His Eye Is on the Sparrow" from a 1952 film version of Carson McCullers' A Member of the Wedding.
Orson Welles' Martian Broadcast, Mohammad Ali's Rumble in the Jungle & Jane Austen's Sense & Sensibility - On This Day
It was on this day in 1938 that Orson Welles brought hysterics to an entire nation with his radio broadcast of H.G. Wells' War of the Worlds. The 8 PM broadcast began with an introduction that made it clear this was a radio presentation of a novel. But after the initial announcement, the production segued to a musical segment where listeners were to be entertained by orchestral music. The thing is, if you missed the introduction and tuned in to CBS while the orchestra was playing, you would not know that this was drama, not news. Welles' entire War of the Worlds broadcast is available on YouTube. But nothing captures the flavor the thing like this delightful clip from Woody Allen's Radio Days.
Ali v. Foreman - The Rumble in the Jungle
For a long time, if you were African-American, the sports arena was where you found a microcosm of black life in the larger world. Jackie Robinson and Joe Louis were not only heroes in their own right but were emblematic of the slow progress "up from slavery." With Muhammad Ali, this sentiment took on additional spin when he was stripped of his world championship boxing title after being accused of dodging the draft during the Vietnam War. George Foreman became the new champ, and seven years after losing his title - not to an actual boxer but to aggregate entities larger than he - Ali was given an opportunity to get it back. The historic match was held on this day in 1974 in Kinshasa, Zaire. Promoter Don King called it "The Rumble in the Jungle." Here are two clips, roughly 10 minutes apiece), which show the opening of the fight with all the attendant brouhaha and the climatic 8th round closing.
Jane Austen Publishes Sense and Sensibility
It was on this day in 1811 that an anonymous author known only as "a lady" visited upon the world one of literature's most beloved novels. Isn't it wonderful that her life and work are enjoying such a revival in our own time. Here's a clip from Ang Lee's 2007 film of today's birthday book.
One of the co-founders of the Black Panther Party, he was gagged during the "Chicago Eight" trial on this day in 1969. The eight defendants were charged with conspiracy to cross state lines in order to incite a riot during the 1968 Democratic National Convention. During the trial, Seale shouted at the judge (Julius Hoffman) and interrupted the proceedings numerous times. The judge responded by having Seale gagged. The image of an African-American citizen bound and gagged in a court room, which was published all across the country, gave symbolic credence to everything Seale was trying to say about racism and injustice. Bear in mind that this happened during the height of the Vietnam War. At the time of Seale's gagging, Richard Nixon was in the White House. Widely broadcast images of riot police descending on demonstrators during the Chicago convention were still relatively fresh in the public mind. Seale was eventually separated from the other defendants, tried separately, and sentenced to prison for 48 months on contempt charges. The following is a clip of what Seale looked and sounded like during those days. The YouTube post does not include information about the date or venue.
Born this day in 1945, she won a Tony for her performance in the Broadway hit musical, Purlie. The daughter of saxophonist, Teddy Hill, she received several Grammy nominations and landed several hits on the R&B charts in her post-Broadway career. Here she is in a lovely rendition of "Lean on Me."
We know this Oscar-winning actor (born 1947) for stellar performances in Jaws, American Graffiti, The Goodbye Girl, and Tom Stoppard's Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead. But this scene from Mr. Holland's Opus is my favorite. It's the part where the artist, forced to teach in order to make ends meet, finally stops being angry at the kids he's been called upon to serve. It's the moment when he begins to understand that you can't teach people anything until you find out who they are. Up till this point, he is a musician who does not know how to listen. This is the scene where he begins to change. For all your good work over the years, and for this beautiful film, thank you, Richard Dreyfus, and Happy Birthday.
G.B. Shaw's Banned Play - Mrs. Warren's Profession & Julia Roberts, Jonas Salk, Cleo Lane, Jane Alexander Born
The Banning of Shaw's Mrs. Warren's Profession
One day after the death of Lou Reed, who often expressed "dark" themes in his music, we come upon this anniversary of a time when it was considered immoral even to discuss prostitution in a play. After being banned in Great Britain, Mrs. Warren's Profession had its New York premiere on this day in 1905. Anyone who missed that performance would have to wait until 1926 for another chance to see it. The play was shut down after only one performance. The producer and actors were arrested for obscenity, and even Shaw (not yet a Nobel laureate) was named in the court case that eventually found them all not guilty. Here are scenes from Cherry Jones' (TV's 24) outstanding performance in the title role of the 2010 Broadway revival of this "scandalous" play.
Born this day in 1927, she now holds the honored title of "Dame." Nominated for Grammy awards in classical, jazz, and popular music, she is the daughter of a black Jamaican father and a white English mother. Aside from thoughts of what it must have been like to bring a biracial child into the world two years before the Great Depression, it is thrilling to witness in her performances the confluence of two rich cultural backgrounds. Her delightful interpretation of Porgy and Bess with Ray Charles is legendary, and the clip below is not bad either She's a Capella for the first minute and ten seconds, and that voice! Although it's a live performance (1977), you can hear a pin drop. Go Cleo.
As long as we've broached the subject of interracial relationships, we must acknowledge - no, celebrate - this actor's contribution to our understanding of this complicated subject. Winner of a Tony and two Emmy Awards, Jane Alexander (born today in 1939) has been nominated for an Oscar four times. Here's a clip from the film version of The Great White Hope with James Earl Jones. This is the performance that earned her a Tony for the Broadway stage production. It's a rough scene to watch - not only for what it says about race but for its emotional brutality and honesty. Viewer discretion advised.
Think of the millions - maybe billions - Jonas Salk (1914-2005) could have made from the polio vaccine, which he declined to patent. Then think of a world filled with this kind of hero. Here's the famous interview with TV's Edward R. Murrow and a summary of Salk's achievement.
This pretty woman was born today 46 years ago. No need to go on about her Oscar or the $464 million grossed by that amazing first film with Richard Gere. Let's just visit this tender scene from Notting Hill in which she's so vulnerable, it's hard to believe she's acting.
Painter, filmmaker, artist extraordinaire, Julian Schnabel was born this day in 1951. Nominated for an Oscar for his beautiful film, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, he also made a terrific film about the African-American artist, Jean-Michel Basquiat, a taste of which is offered here.
The Gunfight at the O.K. Corral
My Dad did not have much time to take my brothers and me to see many films, what with his job as a dining-car waiter back in the days of separate-but-equal. So when he did, it was a major event. The 1957 version of the famous gunfight with Burt Lancaster as Wyatt Earp and Kirk Douglas as Doc Holliday was the one we saw. What really happened on this day back in 1881 in Tombstone, Arizona, is probably more interesting today as legend than history. But for me, this film is a chance to hang out with my Dad again, though he passed away years ago during my freshman year in college. He did not have much education, but he made sure we all got good ones. And he certainly knew a good movie when he saw one. This one's for you, Dad.
And as long as we're talking fathers and sons, let's say Happy Birthday to novelist, Pat Conroy, born this day in 1946, with this great scene from the movie based on his novel, The Great Santini.
It's true that the video quality of the below clip is not so great, but there's nothing wrong with the audio. A couple of months ago, we celebrated the 50th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington, and it is widely known that Martin Luther King, Jr., often found inspiration in music. An opera lover, he was also deeply moved by the voice of Mahalia Jackson (1911-1972), and was said to have listened to her sing this song the night before he delivered his immortal Dream speech.
Gertrude Stein's Portrait of Picasso on His Birthday; Georges Bizet, Johann Strauss II & Katy Perry Also Born This Day
Here is the opening of Gertrude Stein's cubist portrait of Pablo Picasso, "If I Told Him," to celebrate his arrival on the planet this day in 1881, followed by a lovely four-minute video meditation on his life and work.
"If I told him would he like it. Would he like it if I told him.
Would he like it would Napoleon would Napoleon would would he like it.
If Napoleon if I told him if I told him if Napoleon. Would he like it if I told him if I told him if Napoleon. Would he like it if Napoleon if
Napoleon if I told him. If I told him if Napoleon if Napoleon if I told him. If I told him would he like it would he like it if I told him. Now. Not now. And now." You can listen to Gertrude Stein read this here (courtesy University of Pennsylvania).
Born this day in 1838, Bizet still knocks your socks off with his great opera, Carmen. Give yourself three minutes and forty-one seconds with this clip of Anna Caterina Antonacci in the title role at Covent Garden, and you will see why Don Jose has been making a tragic fool of himself for generations.
Johann Strauss, II
The Waltz King, as he was called, was born today in Austria in 1899. We could dance all night to his music, and just to put us in the mood, here is Andre Rieu in a performance of "The Blue Danube."
And to think, she's only 28. We love her because she uses today's music to remind of of the imperishable: - "the part you're never, ever going to take away" and love "Unconditionally." Happy Birthday, KP
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