Jefferson's Affair with Slave First Revealed This Day 1796; Michael Gambon Before Dumbledore & John Le Carre
Think Presidential politics today is snarly? Consider this: Alexander Hamilton, writing under the pseudonym Phocion, published an essay on this day in 1796, accusing Thomas Jefferson of having an affair with a slave. The rumor persisted for several generations, but as everyone knows by now, DNA evidence has proved a biological connection between Jefferson and the slave Sally Hemings with whom he had children. Today marks an interesting intersection between that historical event and today's interest in TV's Scandal and the the release of the film, 12 Years a Slave. Here is a clip from a meet-up between Jefferson's heirs and their Hemings' cousins, followed by a scene from the Merchant-Ivory film, Jefferson in Paris, which imagines rather vividly how intimate relations between Jefferson and Hemings might have begun.
Before he became the second Dumbledore, he was the first and best incarnation of Dennis Potter's wonderful The Singing Detective. The story counterpoints the hallucinatory visions of drugs against the imagined visions of novel writing. Trapped in hospital with a paralyzing illness, Gambon's character finds freedom only in the creative process. This clip shows all of that along with Potter's hallmark technique of using popular songs to express his characters' inner feelings. Happy Birthday, Sir Michael, born this day in 1940!
John le Carre
His real name is David Cromwell, but who cares? Born on this day in 1931, he has given us An Honorable Schoolboy, The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, and the mesmerizing trilogy featuring his "anti-Bond" spy, George Smiley, portrayed marvelously years ago by the incomparable Alec Guiness and more recently by the brilliant Gary Oldman in this featurette, which also includes a few words from le Carre himself. Well done and Happy Birthday, John!
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