Screenwriter Robert Towne Born This Day in 1934
Jack Nicholson is still young and handsome. He has a head full of shiny dark hair that is just beginning to recede in front and turn thin in the back. You can see part of his scalp shining through, but he has a good haircut, and anyway it does not matter. He looks virile. That’s the thing. His eyes hint at wickedness, but there’s something else too. You can’t quite put your finger on it. That’s what makes it interesting.
Faye Dunaway has not yet entered the room, which means Jack has not yet had his nose slit open with the switch blade. When she does appear wearing a grey felt hat, brim down on the side, he will look at her like French fries on the hungriest morning of his life. She will blow him off and confuse him. I don’t get tough, she will say, my lawyer does. And even though he does not know what she is talking about, he will get involved anyway. Partly because he has to, but also because this is the Faye Dunaway before Mommie Dearest, and you do not care that she has already made it with Thomas Crown and Clyde Barrow. You do not care that she has played chess like a circle in a spiral and flown in a glider like a wheel within a wheel. You have seen her body shot full of holes, but you do not believe she is dead. Most of all, the coat-hanger brand that will cling to her like an albatross has not been put there yet, and when she walks into your office dressed in that grey felt hat, brim turned down on the side, all you can feel is what you are meant to feel—an ardor only God can satisfy.
With the exception of millennials, just about everyone knows by now that author Norman Cousins famously cured himself of a crippling illness and even treated his heart disease by taking massive doses of Vitamin C and watching Marx Brothers movies. One of the funniest of the lot was the non-speaking, harp-playing Adolph "Harpo" Marx, who was born this day in 1888. Here's a montage featuring the great clown and pantomime artist in scenes from Animal Crackers. You don't have to be sick to watch it. But you will surely feel better by the time you finish. And just in case you don't, there's an extra dose of Harpo right behind it in a hilarious scene from Love Happy.
TAGS: Famous Birthdays, Truth & Beauty
I'm a storyteller whose background includes talk radio, newspapers and TV news. I've hosted a morning-drive classical music program on the California coast and published nationally in Reader's Digest, the Christian Science Monitor, and Playboy. I've won awards for my journalism and my fiction. One of my essays even made it into an anthology for college English courses. For real? Yes, for real.
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