Thursday, October 30, 2008
halloween!

Happy Halloween To One & All! It is almost here. And the Goblins are afoot, along with the Ghouls.....And though they are kind of scary....We Really Love Them! OOOOOOOOOoooooooooo! Skulls and Skeletons. Flying Witches. And frightening sounds that go "bump" in the night.....We Love It! And We Look Forward To It Each Year......Ghosts and Spirits are all around us and especially on Halloween! They come out to play instead of hiding.....Because this is their time. So, I say to you.....Get dressed up in a fun Costume and go on out and say "Boo" to whomever you meet....Eat lots of Halloween Candy....yes, yes, yes......like Candy Corn! There is nothing that says Halloween better than Candy Corn......Unless, it's a little bit of Halloween Chocolates.....You know the kind I mean, don't you? Oh, Yes Indeeeeedy! And some of these, too.....Halloween isn't Halloween without some Chocolate Kisses......Yummmmmmm! But, whatever you do on Halloween, do it with your whole heart and soul.....Give yourself over to it...... Do it with your entire being......And remember........




More To Come........


Note: And anyone still not quite sure about how to vote in this election, please read this Rolling Stone article. It is quite revealing and tells us a lot about McCain that many people may not have known......


http://www.rollingstone.com/news/coverstory/make_believe_maverick_the_real_john_mccain






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Tuesday, October 28, 2008
autobiography #1 - diahann

Diahann Carroll's book is very interesting. One feels that she is very honest in all that she reveals. I was interested in reading her book because our lives crossed way back in the early singing days. She was another person who took advantage of VAMP Studios back in the early 1950's around the time of her "Chance Of A Lifetime" win...(The American Idol of it's day....) And later, Nat Jones, who had been my accompanist began traveling with her as her accompanist---this was back in the early days of her very successful singing career.....Diahann Carroll has had great success with Recordings, Nightclubs, Broadway---She won a Tony Award----Films, too----she was nominated for an Academy Award for "Claudine", as well as a long career in Television---being Nominated for 4 Emmy's over her long and varied career.....Most recently she had an Emmy Nomination for playing Isaiah Washington's mother on "Greys Anatomy". Diahann Carroll, is still actively working in 2008! And may I say, I admire her talent, enormously! I probably have 7 or 8 'Albums' of hers....LP's....And back in the day' I saw her "Live" in The Persian Room of The Plaza Hotel....She is a true "STAR", and all that that word means, believe me.Part of what I found so very interesting about her book was her rather candid revelations about her long-time affair with Sidney Poitier.....I had heard those rumors, back in the day, but until you hear about something like this from 'the horses mouth' so to speak, stories like this cannot be taken seriously. The picture above is from the film "Paris Blues...a film that also starred two other amazingly talented people, Joanne Woodward and Paul Newman.Their were many firsts in Ms. Carroll's Show Business career. She was the first black actress to have her own television show, "Julia", where she played a nurse who worked for a doctor played by the very wonderful Lloyd Nolan, and she had a darling little son named 'Corey', played by Marc Copage......And she was the very first black actress to star in a Broadway Musical as part of an interracial couple who were involved romantically in a true and real love affair...."No Strings". This landmark show is the Richard Rogers musical that also starred the incredibly talented Richard Kiley, who was the other half of this couple and this was the Broadway show for which Diahann Carroll won her Tony. And there were many more "firsts", as well. She played the first 'black rich bitch' ever cast on television in that wonderfully decadent and fun night-time soap opera, "Dynasty"....!More recently, Diahann Carroll was the first actress of color to star as Norma Desmond in the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical "Sunset Blvd.". She played this show in Toronto, as well as a number of other cities in Canada. And there is a very interesting story included in her book about her initial encounter with the composer, Mr. Webber. Not a very nice story, I might add. And it just illustrated to me, one more time, that Andrew Lloyd Webber may be a very talented composer but he is not a very nice human being. And even though I knew somewhat first hand about this and then, second hand, too, that Mr. Webber was quite, shall we say, "full of himself", I was shocked to read about the way he treated Diahann Carroll. That he is a rude self-involved man is kind of legend in our business, and, as is quite well known, too, his treatment of Patti Lupone back in 1994-95, regarding this same show, was utterly horrific. And, even knowing all that history, the story that Diahann Carroll shares with us about her audition with Webber kind of takes your breath away. She is not exactly chopped liver, you know? And for him to treat her with such disdain...well....you just want to slap him silly, and say, "How dare you?". And despite Mr. Webber's terrible treatment of Diahann Carroll,
she not only got the part, but she blew everyone away with her performance in this production. Diahann Carroll's reviews were stellar! The thing about her is that she not only has the acting-chops for this part, but she also has the singing chops, as well. I sure wish I could have seen her in this role. I had seen Patti Lupone in London, and she was supremely superb! Again, she has it all: The Acting and The Singing! I saw Glenn Close do this part, as well, and though she certainly is a very good actress, she cannot hold a candle to either Patti or Diahann, in the singing department. I wish there was some kind of archival tape or DVD of this particular production....Now, that would be a real treat!


Diahann Carroll's book covers her four fairly tumultuous marriages and touches quite a bit on her relationship with her daughter, who certainly was the victim of Ms. Carroll's ambition and her very successful career. They are close now, according to the book, and Diahann Carroll adores her grandchildren and has great admiration for her very bright daughter, who's first responsibility and devotion was and is to her children. One has the strong feeling that Diahann Carroll truly admires her daughter for this accomplishment probably more than anything else, given her own failings as a mother too involved with 'career', which she speaks of very candidly. One has to admire her for that.The other thing I found interesting about her book is her honesty about her own vanity. How she looked and still looks has always been important to her, and though it may sound rather shallow, one cannot help but respect Ms. Carroll for her honest and open finger-pointing-at-herself, in this regard. And let's face it, she was and still is, one very very beautiful women as well as an incredibly talented one, too.And lastly, for me personally, I loved her dedication page:
"To my friend Josephine Premice-Fales. She was my mentor from the beginning. She was there for the entire experience, supporting and loving through it all. Thank you my friend."

Most of you have probably never heard of Josephine Premice, (That's her, above....) but I had the great pleasure of getting to know her a little bit and of watching her perform for a week of intense rehearsals and then for a week of playing, when she appeared in "Cabin In The Sky" in 1953 at The Sea Cliff Summer Theatre where I was working. She was, in two words: An Original. An amazing talent and a unique human being in almost every way. Diahann C. and Josephine P. were the dearest of friends until Ms. Premice's untimely death in 2001.....
And at the end of Diahann Carroll's book she thanks Josephine Premice's daughter, Susan Files-Hill, an amazing young woman in her own right....for her great help with this book, and in that 'thanks' I discovered that Susan Fales-Hill wrote a book about her mother, Josephine, called "Always Wear Joy".And, P.S., I am now reading that book. Hopefully I will write more about that when I am done with it. But as a little tease...Here is a quote from Josephine Premice to give you just a tiny glimpse into who she was: This is a conversation between the then 41 year old Josephine and her then 8 year old son, Enrico.

Enrico says, "Mom, what do I put down on the school form where it says 'Mother's Occupation' when you're not acting in a show?", Josephine answered...."Tell your teacher, 'My mother's an unemployed legend'......."

Perfect!

Diahann Carroll's book is very much worth reading, especially if one is interested in the facts of the historical context of her rise in Show Business as a young woman of color coming up in the 1950's....Part of those facts are that her career has covered every area of the business and she has been successful in all of them, and also, on top of everything else, she is a Cancer Survivor! She is a pretty amazing woman and someone I admire a great deal....! UPDATE: 10-29-08 I just found this great video on YouTube.....It is a three song medley and is fabulous......!



More To Come......


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Sunday, October 26, 2008
show biz books


Recently, I have read two autobiography's and one biography....All of them are Show Business related.....There's the NEW Fred Astaire book---that's the 'biography'....and then, Diahann Carroll's autobiography, "The Legs Are The Last To Go", and I am just about finished reading Robert Wagner's new autobiography, "Pieces Of My Heart"......The thing is, when you have been in and around show business for as many years as I have (Coming on to over 60 years, my dears---but if we count when I first began going to the Theatre to Broadway Shows, it is over 70 years.....), you cross paths with lots of people, one way or another....And in the case of these three people, our paths crossed a few times over the years for various reasons. I cannot say I knew or know any of the the three really well, by any means.....But, there was, in each case, at least 'One Degree Of Separation'....And in reading these books, particularly Robert Wagner's, there are any number of 'one degree of separation' people included in his narrative....So, I find these books very interesting because, in the case of both Diahann Carroll and Robert Wagner, they are writing about my era.....Not only the films, or plays and talent, but the places and people mentioned, too....And though I have not had the kind of career that either Ms. Carroll and Mr. Wagner have had, it is very enjoyable to me to read about their lives and careers, in their own words.In the case of Fred Astaire, this new book, called just "Fred Astaire" is mostly about his career, though the writer, Joseph Epstein, certainly talks somewhat about Astaire's childhood and his early career with his sister Adele. Astaire was unique, in every way. A perfectionist where his work was concerned, he was a rather shy un-showbiznessy type of guy, and yet, one of the biggest "Movie Stars" that ever was......There was only one "Fred Astaire". And his talent and dedication to his work was above and beyond. I would urge many of you younger folk who may not be as familiar with Astaire as your parents and grandparents are, to see as many of his early films as you can---the Ginger Rogers period, and then the Rita Hayworth, Leslie Caron, and Cyd Charisse periods, too. He was a Master!
The oddest thing about this book to me, is that his daughter Ava is only mentioned twice!! And in such an unimportant manner as to be less than a footnote. Now that, I do not understand, at all. And, by the way, that is my personal connection to Fred Astaire. I first met Ava back in the early 1960's when she was going with and then became engaged to my good and dear friend Carl Bostelmann.....In fact, I have two little snapshots that Ava gave me a few years ago when I saw her at a small dinner party at a mutual good friends home here in Los Angeles....Ava lives in Ireland and England mostly, and so I rarely see her anymore. And though this new book is very interesting in many ways, there must be some reason that Joseph Epstein does not say more about Ava....She was the light of her fathers life, and she is a lovely dear bright and accomplished person in her own right. Personally, I think it would have enriched this book tremendously had Epstein spoken to Ava and included her recollections....Of course, she may not have wanted to speak with him. I am going to try to find out about that.
These two little snapshots are from Easter of 1963-64, (I am not sure which, at this point...) Carl and Ava had an Easter party at Daddy Astaire's home, where Ava was still living, on and off, until Carl and Ava were married....Carl, as was so typical of him, had planted an abundance of blooming flowers everywhere around the pool in the back garden where the party took place, just for that particular Easter Day.....That is me on the left, and Ava on the right. Ava had on an "Easter Hat" and I didn't even own a hat at the time, so I arrived bear-headed.....But, Carl and Ava had a lot of hats available for those of us who had arrived "hat less"......Here below: The Results! I love my hat.....lol! That is Carl over on the left holding his hat, and my dear dear soul mate, Sammy Reese, next to me, wearing the cowboy hat that Carl had supplied....I cannot get over how "dressed up" we were...and this was our 'dress: casual' look, for that afternoon. Well, that's how it was back then. Today, I guess we would all be in the grunge-goth look....lol! And below, here is a very special invitation...... Unfortunately, I was unable to attend this very special evening because I had to be out of town, but my dear Sammy went and he reported to me that it was lovely.....I'm sure it was, because anything that Carl was involved in bore his rare touch, and their Wedding Reception would certainly have been one of those very special evenings that he would have wanted to make as truly memorable as possible. He was so deeply 'in love' with Ava.

Fade Out: Eventually, a number of years later---maybe six or seven---Carl and Ava separated and then divorced and then, Ava remarried.....After the initial 'bad times' that often come with a lot of divorces, Carl and Ava were able to be good close friends once again, as they had been at the beginning, and they remained good close friends for the rest of Carl's life.....Fade Out, Once Again: Many years later, sometime in the mid to late 70's, Carl and his partner had a lovely Easter Brunch in the garden of their house on Almont Drive and Ava and her talented Artist husband Richard Mackenzie were there, along with some other people, including me.....It was a lovely gathering and this time many of the ladies wore very very pretty hats..... That is Ava at that particular table, wearing a very fetching hat......Carl knew how to entertain and it was always gracious and abundant and yet comfortable, in every way......The gentleman in the center of the picture below with the prematurely white hair is Ava's husband Richard.And that is Carl over on the left and that very pretty lady facing us in the very pretty hat right there in the center of the picture, was the lovely Mary Frann. Sad to say, both Mary and Carl are gone now.....And below, here is a closer look at dear Mary.... And Carl right behind her....I believe Mary was still on the Soap Opera "Days Of Our Lives" at that point...And this was quite a few years before she played Bob Newhart's wife "Joanna", for eight years on his second series.....And here below, a closer look at Ava..... Ava looks very beautiful in these little snapshot-pictures that I took that afternoon, and she still was absolutely lovely the last time I saw here in Los Angeles the evening she gave me those two little snapshots up above of that long ago 1963-64 Easter Party......She is a very happy women and has a lovely life with her Artist husband Richard..... Behind Ava in the picture above was Carl's partner Robert....He too, is gone now......! And the gentleman in the foreground who's name I just cannot think of...(Oh, dear)...he too, has passed on. This is what happens, I'm sorry to say.....The losses are painful and they certainly do pile up as each year passes. And as I get older, I am more and more aware of that, I'm afraid....But, that is the cycle of life.....Below, a recent picture of Ava and Richard taken this past summer at The Fred Astaire Conference in Oxford, England. Ava, here in 2008, is still a very beautiful presence...... And I actually only met Fred Astaire twice during those years. Both times at his home on San Ysidro Drive. The first time was the Easter Party and the second time was at another gathering of Carl and Ava's at Daddy Astaire's home. And I must tell you, to meet Fred Astaire was a great great thrill, both times!


More To Come.......


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Friday, October 24, 2008
lest we forget

The New Yorker has endorsed Barack Obama. Hooray, Hooray. Another endorsement that has a lot of weight to it---along with all the other recent endorsements--i.e. Colin Powell, etc.---- I think that this is just so, so great! And, in this weeks magazine, under "THE MAIL" there are some letters to The New Yorker commenting on their endorsement.
I thought that this one below was really important and moving, too, so I wanted to share it with those that might not have seen it, or even more important, for those who were either too young or to unaware to remember what it was like, 'back in the day'.....And how far we have come.This was written by a gentleman named GILBERT H. CALDWELL, from Asbury Park, New Jersey:

In endorsing Obama, the editors suggest that his election "could not help but say something encouraging, even exhilarating, about the country, about it's dedication to tolerance and inclusiveness."

As a seventy-four-year-old African American who was involved in the civil-rights protests in the nineteen-sixties, I, too, have drawn a connection between Obama and the journey that the United States has made in it's attitudes and actions with regard to race.

I remember watching as black people went to the town hall to register to vote carrying American flags; the local police jerked the flags from their hands and turned them away.

My parents told us how German soldiers detained in Arkansas were served in white-only restaurants while black soldiers in uniform were forced to go to the backs of those restaurants to get food from take-out windows.
Many civil-rights workers, black and white, died attempting to push the U.S. to live "the values it proclaims in it's textbooks."

The election of Barack Obama will be a clear sign that my four-year-old granddaughter will grow up in a nation quite different from the nation that existed when I was her age.

And, because of that, every American has reason to rejoice.


Amen, Amen.

And let's hope that the divisive hatefulness that the McCain/Palin campaign continues to run with the help of the Right Wing Mouthpiece of Fox News, will not portend a repeat of the horrifically frightening-beyond-words time in the 1950's, of the Joe McCarthy Red-Baiting era.

This is no time to go backwards.




More To Come.......


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Tuesday, October 21, 2008
garden beauty

You all know how much I like "close-ups"...and also, how much I love color, too. So, getting in close on these Cereus Flowers shows an incredible amount of variation of color.... These flowers open wide at night and stay open somewhat in the early part of the day....These flowers are a bit slower to close up than some other Night Blooming Cereus...... The delicacy and transparency of these petals is quite astounding....And yet, they have a solid feel to the touch.....I love the very white white of these petals but then when you take a closer look, there is a great variation....this kind of slight pinkness and tanness, and even a pale lavenderness..... And then, as you can see from the picture above, the outside protective leaves can be a dark red to magenta to reddish brown...to----in some cases, a shocking pink! And then...out of seemingly nowhere--there will be this yellow to green in the petals.....And of course, at the bottom of the flower is the green of the stem of the flower.... I love seeing those little stamens and pistols(?) there, right in the middle of the flower...... You can even see a little bit of purple that has crept in on the edges of those petals, as this bloom is closing up and dying, before our eyes......The cycle of life......But, what is left, after the flower completely dries up and gets ready to drop to the ground, is the beginning of the fruit that comes after..... And there above, you can see the flowers that have dried up and a couple of flowers that are still somewhat open, and two flowers that are still in the growing stage----not yet even quite recognizable as the flowers they will become....You might want to click on all of these to be able to see them bigger..... And above, those many green bulbous things are the not quite ripe fruits that develop and ripen within a few weeks after the flower dies and falls to the ground....These are the fruits that the Finches just love to chomp on.... The abundance of Flowers and Fruit each year is remarkable! I've tasted this fruit and it is absolutely delicious....! You can see the interior of the fruit in the picture above....It is a Beautiful Deep Shocking Pink.....! And so you can see what a beautiful flower starts all this---here below is one of these Cereus Flowers, one night when it was wide open! And below....a closer look at a really lush flower taken one night, this past summer.....So very delicate, and so very beautiful.....for one night, once a year....


More To Come......






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