Marilyn Monroe — beauty icon of the 1950s and 60s — was born 97 years ago
Marilyn Monroe reading, 1953
Photo by Alfred Eisenstaedt
Marilyn Monroe was born 97 years ago.
Born Norma Jeane Mortenson in Los Angeles, she was later given her mother’s name, and baptized Norma Jeane Baker. After a tumultuous childhood — both maternal grandparents and her mother were committed to mental institutions — she lived with a string of foster families. Eventually, she married one of her neighbors, James Dougherty, when she was 16.
Dougherty later joined the Merchant Marines and was sent to the South Pacific during World War II. A photographer “discovered” the naturally photogenic Norma Jeane while she was working in a California munitions factory, and she was soon launched a successful modeling career. She divorced Dougherty in June, 1946 and soon after signed a film contract with 20th Century Fox.
At the outset of her acting career, Norma Jeane dyed her brown hair blonde and changed her name again, calling herself Marilyn Monroe (Monroe was her grandmother’s last name). After a bit part in 1947’s The Shocking Miss Pilgrim, she had a string of forgettable roles before landing a spot in John Huston’s thriller, The Asphalt Jungle (1950). That same year, she also drew attention for her work in All About Eve, starring Bette Davis.
Her true breakout performance, however, came in Niagara (1953), a thriller in which Monroe played an adulterous young wife who plots with her lover to kill her husband. After starring turns in Gentleman Prefer Blondes and How to Marry a Millionaire — both also released in 1953 — Monroe was at the top of Hollywood’s A-list.
In January, 1954, she married baseball great, Joe DiMaggio, at San Francisco’s City Hall after a two-year romance. Though the press hailed their relationship as the quintessential All-American love affair, trouble began brewing almost immediately.
DiMaggio was notoriously uncomfortable with his new wife’s sexy public image and her wild popularity, as evidenced by the near-riot among U.S. servicemen stationed in Korea during a performance she gave in the middle of the couple’s honeymoon. They would divorce that October, after only nine months of marriage, but remained good friends.
After Monroe’s death, DiMaggio famously sent roses to her grave several times a week for more than three decades. He did this until his own death in 1999.
Monroe attempted to switch to more serious acting roles, studying at the prestigious Actors’ Studio in New York. She earned positive reviews for her more nuanced work in Bus Stop (1956), The Prince and the Showgirl (1957) and particularly, Some Like It Hot (1959).
By 1961, however, trouble in Monroe’s personal life — her third marriage to the acclaimed playwright, Arthur Miller, dissolved after four years — had led to her increasing emotional fragility. That year she was admitted on two occasions to hospitals for psychiatric observation and rest.
Her final film was The Misfits (1961), written by Miller and co-starring Montgomery Clift and Clark Gable (it would also be Gable’s final appearance on-screen.) In June, 1962, Fox fired the actress after repeated and extended absences from the set of Something’s Got to Give.
On August 5, 1962, Monroe was found dead from an overdose of barbiturates in her home in Brentwood, California. The circumstances of her death remain unresolved.
She was 36 years old.
Here, Monroe sings “Happy Birthday, Mr. President” to John F. Kennedy
Ronnie Wood, Los Angeles, 1979
Photo by Norman Seeff
Ronnie Wood is 76 years old today.
Wood is an English rock musician that is a former member of the Jeff Beck Group, Faces and a member of the Rolling Stones since 1975. He began his career in 1964, when he joined the Birds on guitar. He then joined the mod group, The Creation, but only remained with the group for a short time and appeared on a small number of singles.
Wood joined the Jeff Beck Group in 1967, where he played bass. They released two albums, Truth and Beck-Ola, which became moderate successes. The group split in 1969, and Wood departed along with lead vocalist, Rod Stewart, to join former Small Faces members Ronnie Lane, Ian McLagan and Kenney Jones in a new group, dubbed The Faces.
The group, although relegated to "cult" status in the U.S., found great success in the UK and mainland Europe. The Faces released their debut album, First Step, in 1970. They went on to release Long Player and A Nod Is as Good as a Wink to a Blind Horse in 1971. Their last LP, Ooh La La, was released in 1973.
After the group split, Wood began several solo projects, eventually recording his first solo LP — I've Got My Own Album to Do — in 1974. The album featured former bandmate McLagan as well as former Beatle George Harrison and Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones, a longtime friend of Wood's.
Richards soon invited Wood to join the Rolling Stones, after the departure of Mick Taylor. He joined in 1975, and has remained a member ever since. However, he wouldn't become an official partner until 1993, when bassist Bill Wyman left the group.
Besides I've Got My Own Album to Do, Wood has recorded several other solo efforts. Now Look was released in 1975, and peaked at #118 on the charts, and Wood collaborated with Ronnie Lane for the soundtrack album, Mahoney's Last Stand.
Wood released Gimme Some Neck in 1979, which hit #45 in the U.S. 1234 was released in 1981, peaking at #164. He released Slide on This in 1992, Not for Beginners in 2002 and I Feel Like Playing in 2010.
Here, Wood recalls the time when Jimi Hendrix was his roommate...
Nelson Riddle and Frank Sinatra
Nelson Riddle was born 102 years ago today.
An arranger, composer, bandleader and orchestrator whose career stretched from the late 1940s to the mid-1980s, Riddle’s work for Capitol Records aided such vocalists as Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Nat King Cole, Judy Garland, Dean Martin, Peggy Lee, Johnny Mathis, Rosemary Clooney and Keely Smith.
Riddle found commercial and critical success again in the 1980s with a trio of Platinum albums with Linda Ronstadt.
Born in Oradell, New Jersey, Riddle followed his father's interest in music. He began taking piano lessons at age eight and trombone lessons at fourteen. He spent his late teens and early 20s playing trombone in and occasionally arranging for various local dance bands, culminating in his association with the Charlie Spivak Orchestra. He studied orchestration under composer Alan Shulman.
In 1944, Riddle traveled to Chicago to join Tommy Dorsey's orchestra, where he remained the orchestra's third trombone for eleven months until drafted by the Army in April, 1945, shortly before the end of World War II. He was discharged in June, 1946, after fifteen months of active duty.
He soon moved to Hollywood to pursue his career as an arranger and spent the next several years writing arrangements for multiple radio and record projects. In 1950, Riddle was hired by the composer, Les Baxter, to write arrangements for a recording session with Nat King Cole. This was one of Riddle's first associations with Capitol Records.
Although one of the songs Riddle had arranged, "Mona Lisa," soon became the biggest selling single of Cole's career, the work was credited to Baxter. However, once Cole learned the identity of the arrangement's creator, he sought out Riddle's work for other sessions, and thus began a fruitful partnership that furthered the careers of both men at Capitol.
In 1985, Riddle died in Los Angeles at age 64 of cardiac and kidney failure as a result of cirrhosis of the liver, which had been diagnosed five years earlier.
Following Riddle's death, his last three arrangements for Ronstadt's For Sentimental Reasons album were conducted by Terry Woodson. The album was released in 1986.
Here is a complete concert with Linda Ronstadt and Nelson Riddle’s Orchestra in 1984
Andy Griffith in A Face in the Crowd, 1957
Andy Griffith was born 97 years ago today.
An actor, television producer, Southern-gospel singer and writer, Griffith gained prominence in the starring role in director Elia Kazan's film, A Face in the Crowd (1957), before he became better known for his television roles.
He went on to play the lead character in the 1960–1968 situation comedy, The Andy Griffith Show, and in the 1986–1995 legal drama, Matlock.
Born in Mount Airy, North Carolina, as a baby, Griffith lived with relatives until his parents could afford to buy a home. With neither a crib nor a bed, he slept in dresser drawers for several months. In 1929, when Griffith was three, his father began working as a carpenter and purchased a home in Mount Airy's "blue-collar" south side.
Griffith grew up listening to music. By the time he entered school, he was well aware that he was from what many considered the "wrong side of the tracks." He was a shy student, but once he found a way to make his peers laugh, he began to come out of his shell and into his own.
As a student at Mount Airy High School, Griffith cultivated an interest in the arts, and he participated in the school's drama program. A growing love of music — particularly swing — would change his life. He attended the University of North Carolina (UNC) in Chapel Hill, North Carolina and graduated with a bachelor of music degree in 1949.
He began college studying to be a Moravian preacher, but he changed his major to music and became a part of the school's, Carolina Playmakers. He also played roles in several student operettas, including The Chimes of Normandy (1946), Gilbert and Sullivan's The Gondoliers (1945), The Mikado (1948) and H.M.S. Pinafore (1949).
After graduation, he taught music and drama for a few years at Goldsboro High School in Goldsboro, North Carolina, where he taught, among others, Carl Kasell. He also began to write.
Griffith's early career was as a monologist, delivering long stories such as What it Was, Was Football, which is told from the point of view of a rural backwoodsman trying to figure out what was going on in a football game. The monologue was released as a single in 1953 on the Colonial Records label and was a hit for Griffith, reaching #9 on the charts in 1954.
Griffith starred in Ira Levin's one-hour teleplay version of No Time for Sergeants (March, 1955) — a story about a country boy in the United States Air Force — on The United States Steel Hour, a television anthology series. He expanded that role in Ira Levin's full-length theatrical version of the same name (October, 1955) on Broadway in New York City.
Griffith later reprised his role for the film version (1958) of No Time for Sergeants. The film also featured Don Knotts, as a corporal in charge of manual-dexterity tests. This marked the beginning of a lifelong association between Griffith and Knotts. No Time for Sergeants is considered the direct inspiration for the later television situation comedy, Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.
In 1957, Griffith made his film début in A Face in the Crowd. Although he plays a "country boy," he is manipulative and power-hungry, a drifter who becomes a television host and uses his show as a gateway to political power. The film became a chilling prelude to the rise of Donald Trump.
Co-starring Patricia Neal, Walter Matthau, Tony Franciosa and Lee Remick (in her film début as well), A Face in the Crowd was directed by Elia Kazan and written by Budd Schulberg.
In 1960, Griffith appeared as a county sheriff (who was also a justice of the peace and the editor of the local newspaper) in an episode of Make Room for Daddy, starring Danny Thomas. This episode, in which Thomas' character is stopped for speeding in a little town, served as a backdoor pilot for The Andy Griffith Show. Both shows were produced by Sheldon Leonard.
Beginning that same year, Griffith starred as Sheriff Andy Taylor in The Andy Griffith Show for the CBS television network. The show took place in the fictional town of Mayberry, North Carolina, where Taylor, a widower, was the sheriff and town sage. The show was filmed at Desilu Studios, with exteriors filmed at Forty Acres in Culver City, California.
From 1960 to 1965, the show co-starred character actor and comedian — and Griffith's longtime friend — Don Knotts in the role of Deputy Barney Fife, Taylor's best friend and partner. He was also Taylor's cousin in the show.
It was an immediate hit. Griffith never received a writing credit for the show, but he worked on the development of every script.
Knotts was frequently lauded and won multiple Emmy Awards for his comedic performances (as did Frances Bavier in 1967), while Griffith was never nominated for an Emmy Award during the show's run.
In 1967, Griffith was under contract with CBS to do one more season of the show. However, he decided to quit the show to pursue a movie career and other projects. The series continued as Mayberry R.F.D., with Ken Berry starring as a widower farmer and many of the regular characters recurring, some regularly and some as guest appearances.
After spending time in rehabilitation for leg paralysis from Guillain–Barré syndrome in 1986, Griffith returned to television as the title character, Ben Matlock, in the legal drama Matlock (1986–1995) on NBC and ABC. He played a country lawyer in Atlanta, Georgia, who was known for his Southern drawl and for always winning his cases.
Matlock also starred unfamiliar actors (both of whom were childhood fans of Andy Griffith)— Nancy Stafford as Michelle Thomas (1987–1992) and Clarence Gilyard, Jr. as Conrad McMasters (1989–1993). By the end of its first season, it was a ratings powerhouse on Tuesday nights.
Griffith sang as part of some of his acting roles, most notably in A Face In The Crowd and in many episodes of both The Andy Griffith Show and Matlock. In addition to his recordings of comic monologues in the 1950s, he made an album of upbeat country and gospel tunes during the run of The Andy Griffith Show, which included a version of the show's theme sung by Griffith under the title "The Fishin' Hole."
On July 3, 2012, Andy Griffith died from a heart attack at age 86 at his coastal home in Manteo, Roanoke Island in Dare County, North Carolina.
Here, Griffith does “the dark night of the soul” scene in A Face in the Crowd, 1957
Alanis Morissette is 49 years old today.
A Canadian and American singer-songwriter, guitarist, music producer and actress, Morissette began her career in Canada. As a teenager, she recorded two dance-pop albums, Alanis and Now Is the Time, under MCA Records in Canada. Her first international album was the rock-influenced, Jagged Little Pill, released in 1995.
Her following album, Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie, was released in 1998 and was a success as well.
Morissette took up producing duties for her subsequent albums, which include Under Rug Swept, So-Called Chaos and Flavors of Entanglement. Her eighth studio album, Havoc and Bright Lights, was released in 2012.
In celebration of the 20th anniversary of the release of Jagged Little Pill, a new four-disc collector's edition was released on October 30, 2015. Last month, the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, MA) premiered Jagged Little Pill, a musical with music by Morissette and Glen Ballard, lyrics by Morissette, book by Diablo Cody and directed by Diane Paulus.
Morissette has sold more than 60 million albums worldwide. She is also known for her powerful and emotive mezzo-soprano voice. She has been dubbed as the "Queen of alt-rock angst.”
Here, Morissette performs “You Oughta Know”
David Ippolito performs at the Red Lion, Greenwich Village, NYC, 2010
Photo by Frank Beacham
David Ippolito, New York City-based singer/songwriter/playwright, is 67 years old today.
Ippolito is a successful entrepreneurial musician in the new era of social media and the Internet. He has self-released ten albums and is best known for his weekly summer performances in Central Park, which are attended by thousands of people. He styles himself as "That Guitar Man from Central Park."
In 1992, intending only to make a little lunch money, Ippolito unknowingly began a fascinating journey and an unusual career by performing an impromptu concert on a hill in Central Park in front of a few people who gathered.
Among those present was editor Jack Rosenthal from the New York Times, who the next day published an editorial about the performance. The next week, Ippolito played again, and began to gather a following.
For more than 20 years, he has performed on a hill near a picturesque rowboat lake almost every summer weekend to large crowds of passers-by and regulars, including visitors from around the globe. He has become a beloved New York icon, creating an intimate "It's Just Us" feeling no matter how big his audience.
Ippolito sings covers by James Taylor, the Beatles, Bob Dylan, Harry Chapin, Paul Simon, Tom Petty, Jason Mraz, Matt Nathanson, as well as growing list of his own songs. It is his original music that impresses most fans, who check in on his website's daily blog: www.thatguitarman.com
There are songs about lost love ("Wedding in Danville," "Another 15 Years," "Did You Fall in Love Again," "Some Wounds Never Heal"); romance ("I Can't Wait," "The Perfect Girl for Me," "Oak Beach Inn," "You Might be Her"); sex ("Internet Angel"); trust ("Just Hafta Trust Me," "Tired of Being Lied To"); religion ("The Religion Song"); passing of a loved one ("Here Today"); self-improvement ("Next Time Around"); self-belief ("Don't Let It Hold You Back," "When Mary Learns to Fly"); friendship and support ("I Love the Company," "Crazy on the Same Day"); and self-direction ("Any Other Way," "Wherever I Might Land," "Don't Lose Sight of the Dream").
He also does songs as topics of social conscience ("Where's the Voice?", "Common Ground," "The Last Protest Song," "Can't You See?" "Hey American").
Ippolito also writes clever, satirical songs about celebrities ("Tom Cruise Scares Me," "Free Paris (Hilton)"); politicians ("Don't Know Palin"); pundits ("Bill O'Reilly: The Big Talking Head"); white-collar criminals ("Where'dat Money Go?"); TV personalities ("A Special Kind of Friendship" about Stephen Colbert, and "Glenn Beck Scares Me") and obnoxious people ("The Cell Phone Guy: Talk Louder.")
"Hermione Got Hot!" is an ode to grown-up Emma Watson and the Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows film and "Facebook Is a Stupid Idiot" (subtitled "What the F*#k is Farmville?!") is a hilarious personal spin on the social media force.
Ippolito, known for his storytelling skills and sense of humor, has humerous conversations with audience members during his shows and sometimes tosses granola candy bars into the crowd. On special holiday weekends, he also gives away hundreds of free hot dogs and slices of pizza. Just-married couples often stop by after their wedding to share their first dance, as Ippolito serenades them with a romantic song and the crowd sings along.
Ippolito also performs at venues throughout New York City, including an annual December performance at Merkin Concert Hall, as well as year-round shows at the Leonard Nimoy Thalia, Symphony Space, The Red Lion on Bleecker Street and Cast Party at the Birdland Music Club.
As an actor, Ippolito has had roles in national TV commercials and musical theater productions. Ippolito's song, "City Song," was used to close NBC's television coverage of the 2001 New York City Marathon. He has appeared on ABC's "Who Wants to be a Millionaire," winning $64,000.
A playwright and storyteller, his work has been performed at The Soho Playhouse and The Actors Studio. His musical, "Possibility Junkie," was staged in New York City with Ippolito as the star.
Here’s Ippolito performing his song “Crazy on the Same Day”
Aurora borealis, Jökulsárlón, Iceland
Photo by Art Wolfe