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Posts Tagged ‘celebrity

“Celebrity is the chastisement of merit and the punishment of talent”*…

 

people map

 

A People Map of the US, where city names are replaced by their most Wikipedia’ed resident: people born in, lived in, or connected to a place…

From our friends at The Pudding, a chart of our crazes– zoomable to reveal much more detail: “A People Map of the US.”

* Emily Dickinson

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As we obsess on obsession, we might recall that it was on this date in 2009 that Kodak ceded the victory of digital photography and announced that it would discontinue the production and sale of Kodachrome print and slide film, a repository of “precious memories” since 1935.

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Written by LW

June 22, 2019 at 1:01 am

“I come from a family where gravy is considered a beverage”*…

 

Although he achieved almost unthinkable fame for the Victorian era, the life of chef Alexis Soyer is now considered a fairly obscure topic, infrequently discussed outside culinary circles. Soyer was born in 1810, in France, to a working-class family. His older brother, a Paris chef, helped secure an apprenticeship for Alexis with the highly regarded Georg Rignon, for whom he began working at the tender age of 11. When Soyer moved on, it was to Maison Douix, one of the most famous restaurants in Paris. After a year, he became chef de cuisine. He was 17…

By the time of his death, in 1848, “Soyer’s death is a great disaster,” wrote Florence Nightingale. “He has no successor.”  The story of “The first celebrity chef.”

* Erma Bombeck

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As we dig in, we might recall that it was on this date in 1947 that Sylvester the Cat tried to have Tweety Bird for lunch in the Warner Brothers cartoon Tweetie Pie, which won Warner Bros. its first Academy Award for Best Short Subject (Cartoons).

 

Written by LW

May 3, 2017 at 1:01 am

“Celebrity is the chastisement of merit and the punishment of talent”*…

 

It’s easy to imagine that the fever pitch of celebrity consciousness in which we’re awash is a modern phenomenon, a function of reality TV, social media, and other trappings of our times.  But consider the case of Lillie Langtry…

Known in the later 19th century as “the most beautiful woman in the world,” Langtry had her portrait painted by both John Everett Millais and James McNeil Whistler; and Oscar Wilde once said of her, “I would rather have discovered Mrs. Langtry than to have discovered America.”  Married to a wealthy Irishman, she was mistress of the Prince of Wales, later King Edward VII.  Through her society connections she befriended Sarah Bernhardt, who convinced her to try acting; she made her debut at London’s Haymarket Theatre in 1881.

From her autobiography, an anecdote from 1874– before her turn on the stage:

One morning I twisted a piece of black velvet into a toque, stuck a quill through it, and went to Sandown Park. A few days later this turban appeared in every milliner’s window labeled “The Langtry Hat.” “Langtry” shoes, which are still worn, were launched, and so on and so on. It was very embarrassing, and it had all come about so suddenly that I was bewildered. If I went for a stroll in the park and stopped a moment to admire the flowers, people ran after me in droves, staring me out of countenance, and even lifting my sunshade to satisfy fully their curiosity. To venture out for a little shopping was positively hazardous, for the instant I entered an establishment to make a purchase, the news that I was within spread with the proverbial rapidity of wildfire, and the crowd about the door grew so dense that departure by the legitimate exit was rendered impossible, the obliging proprietors being forced, with many apologies, to escort me around to the back door.

Instead of the excitement abating, it increased to such an extent that it became risky for me to indulge in a walk, on account of the crushing that would follow my appearance. To better illustrate my predicament I may state as a fact that, one Sunday afternoon, a young girl, with an aureole of fair hair and wearing a black gown, was seated in the park near the Achilles statue. Someone raised the cry that it was I, people rushed toward her, and before the police could interfere, she was mobbed to such an extent that an ambulance finally conveyed her, suffocating and unconscious, to St. George’s Hospital.

Via Lapham’s Quarterly

* Emily Dickinson

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As we slake ourselves on selfies, we might spare a thought for Clara Bow; she died on this date in 1965.  Bow appeared in 46 silent films and 11 talkies, including Wings (1927; the winner of the first Academy Award for Best Picture).  But it was her appearance as a plucky shopgirl in the film It (also in 1927) that brought her global fame and the nickname “The It Girl.” Bow came to personify the Roaring Twenties and to become its leading sex symbol.  At the height of her stardom, she received more than 45,000 fan letters in a single month (January, 1929).

After marrying actor Rex Bell in 1931, Bow retired from acting and became a rancher in Nevada, where she lived, relatively quietly, for another 34 years.

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Written by LW

September 27, 2015 at 1:01 am

Tricks of (Historical) Perspective, Part 72…

These days, the name Henry Ward Beecher conjures, if at all, only in that it evokes his better-remembered sister, Harriet Beecher Stowe.  But in his time Beecher (pictured above, in a Matthew Brady portrait) was a much more prominent presence.

The first pastor of the Plymouth Church in Brooklyn, New York, Beecher shared his sister’s commitment to social causes; in particular, to abolition.  But at the same time he turned a gift for tempering self-improvement advice with dialect and humor into a fabulously-successful career on the lecture circuit.  (Click here to read a wonderful example of Beecher’s helpful homilies, as reported in the Falkirk Herald in 1871.)

Such was Beecher’s standing that, the following year, when Beecher was outed (then subsequently tried) for adultery (with Theodore Tilton’s wife Elizabeth), it “drove Reconstruction off the front pages for two and a half years” and became “the most sensational ‘he said, she said’ in American history” (quoth Walter McDougall).  Indeed, French author George Sand planned a novel about the affair, but died before it could be written.

In his time, Beecher was arguably The Most Famous Man in America.

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As we look to our Ps and Qs, we might send a birthday verse to Henry Charles Bukowski; he was born on this date in 1920.  The “laureate of American lowlife,” Bukowski discovered his muse as a young teen, when a friend introduced him to drinking (as recounted in Ham on Rye).  “This [alcohol] is going to help me for a very long time”, he later wrote, describing the genesis of what was chronic alcoholism– or, as he saw it, the genesis of a method for making his way through life as a writer.

Van Gogh writing his brother for paints
Hemingway testing his shotgun
Celine going broke as a doctor of medicine
the impossibility of being human

– “Beasts Bounding Through Time”

In the end, Bukowski wrote thousands of poems, hundreds of short stories, and six novels, eventually publishing over sixty books. As Adam Kirsch of The New Yorker observed, “the secret of Bukowski’s appeal. . . [is that] he combines the confessional poet’s promise of intimacy with the larger-than-life aplomb of a pulp-fiction hero.”

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Written by LW

August 16, 2013 at 1:01 am

Lurid is as lurid does…

 

Readers can craft their own sensational pulp novel covers (your correspondent’s first essay, above) at Pulp-O-Mizer.

[TotH to Richard Kadrey, whose example your correspondent follows in this, as in so many things…]

For inspiration, readers can browse Steven Brower’s wondrous Breathless Homicidal Slime Mutants- the Art of the Paperback.

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As we prepare to turn the page, we might send glamorous birthday greetings to Sári Gábor, better known in the U.S. as Zsa Zsa Gabor; she was born on this date in 1917… or so the preponderance of sources suggest.  While the month and day of her birth are agreed, other sources suggest the year was 1918, 1919, or 1920.  Ms. Gabor has not been forthcoming on the question.

Crowned Miss Hungary in 1936, Gabor emigrated to the U.S. five years later, and began a career as an actress.  But while she had some success in supporting roles on stage and in films, her celebrity was as a socialite and as a frequent visitor to the altar.  She has been married nine times.  She is the second of three sisters:  her elder sister, Magda was a socialite; her younger sister, Eva, an actress and businesswoman.  Together, they were known as “The Gabor Girls”– in the words of Merv Griffin, “glamor personified… All these years later, it’s hard to describe the phenomenon of the three glamorous Gabor girls and their ubiquitous mother. They burst onto the society pages and into the gossip columns so suddenly, and with such force, it was as if they’d been dropped out of the sky.”

A man in love is incomplete until he is married. Then he is finished.

I am a marvellous housekeeper. Every time I leave a man I keep his house.

A girl must marry for love, and keep on marrying until she finds it.

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Written by LW

February 6, 2013 at 1:01 am

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