On this day in 1958 — 65 years ago — the 13-year-old child bride of musician Jerry Lee Lewis was revealed. It caused him to be blacklisted and permanently damaged his music career.
The arrival in the United Kingdom of one of the biggest figures in rock and roll was looked forward to with great anticipation in May, 1958.
Nowhere in the world were the teenage fans of the raucous music coming out of America more enthusiastic than they were in England, and the coming tour of the great Jerry Lee Lewis promised to be a rousing success.
"Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On" and "Great Balls Of Fire" had both been massive hits in the UK, and early demand for tickets was great enough that 27 appearances were booked in what promised to be the biggest tour yet by an American rock and roll star.
There was just one problem: Unbeknownst to the British public and the organizers of the coming tour, Jerry Lee Lewis would be traveling to England as a newly married man, with his pretty young wife in tow.
Just how young that wife really was would be revealed on this day in 1958 — 65 years ago — when Jerry Lee "The Killer" Lewis arrived at Heathrow Airport with his new "child bride."
It was an inquisitive reporter for the Daily Mail named Paul Tanfield who unwittingly broke the scandal when he inquired as to the identity of an especially young woman he'd spotted in the Killer's entourage.
"I'm Myra, Jerry's wife," said Myra Gail Lewis.
Tanfield followed up with a question for the Killer himself:
"And how old is Myra?"
It was at this point that Jerry Lee must have cottoned to the fact that the rest of the world might take a somewhat skeptical view of his third marriage, because the answer he gave was a lie:
Myra Gail Lewis was actually only 13-years-old, a fact that would soon come out along with certain other details, such as the fact that she was Jerry Lee's first cousin (once removed) and that the pair had married five months before his divorce from his second wife was made official.
Jerry Lee tried to set minds at ease on this last point — the second marriage was null and void, he explained, because it had taken place before his divorce from his first wife — but even the most skilled public-relations expert would have had a hard time spinning the unfolding story in Jerry Lee's favor.
As the press hounded Jerry Lee and Myra Gail Lewis over the coming week, the Killer tried to go on with business as usual, but his first three shows drew meager audiences, and those that did buy tickets showered him with boos and catcalls.
When the Rank chain of theaters cancelled the rest of his dates and his fashionable Mayfair hotel encouraged him to seek lodging elsewhere, Jerry Lee Lewis left the UK — less than a week after his dramatic arrival on this day in 1958.
Back home, he would face a blacklisting from which his career would never fully recover.
Where is Myra, Jerry Lee Lewis’s former wife, today?
Now 78, Myra Gale Brown resides in Duluth, Georgia. Since 1980, she has been a real estate agent in Atlanta.
She married her third husband, Richard Williams, in 1984, and joined his Century 21 office. She became a licensed broker in 1984, and is a recipient of the Million Dollar Life Time Award 2003.
She co-wrote the book, Great Balls of Fire: The Uncensored Story of Jerry Lee Lewis (1982), which was adapted into the film, Great Balls of Fire! (1989). In 2016, she published her memoir, The Spark That Survived.
Bernie Taupin with Elton John, circa 1970s
Bernie Taupin is 73 years old today.
An English lyricist, poet and singer, Taupin is best known for his long-term collaboration with Elton John. He wrote the lyrics for the majority of John’s songs, making them some of the best known in pop-rock's history.
In 1967, Taupin answered an advertisement in the UK's music paper, New Musical Express, that was seeking new songwriters. About the same time, Elton John submitted samples of his work to the paper, and the pair were brought together, collaborating on many projects since.
In 1971, journalist Penny Valentine wrote that "Bernie Taupin's lyrics were to become as important as Elton [John] himself, proved to have a mercurial brilliance. Not just in their atmospheric qualities and descriptive powers, but in the way he handled words to form them into straightforward poems that were easy to relate to."
Much of Taupin's childhood is reflected in his lyrics and poetry. He was born at Flatters Farmhouse, which is located between the village of Anwick and the town of Sleaford in the southern part of Lincolnshire, England. At age 15, he left school and started work as a trainee in the print room of the local newspaper, The Lincolnshire Standard, with aspirations to be a journalist.
He soon left and spent the rest of his teenage years hanging out with friends, hitchhiking the country roads to attend youth club dances in the surrounding villages, playing snooker in the Aston Arms Pub in Market Rasen and drinking. He had worked at several part-time, dead-end jobs when, at age 17, he answered the advertisement that eventually led to his collaboration with Elton John.
Taupin sometimes wrote about specific places in Lincolnshire. For example, "Grimsby" on Caribou was a tongue-in-cheek tribute to a nearby port town often visited by Taupin and his friends. More famously, "Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting" was inspired by Taupin's experiences in the dance halls and pubs of his youth. More often he wrote in more general autobiographical terms, as in his reference to hitching rides home in "Country Comfort."
These autobiographical references to his rural upbringing continued after his departure for London and a life in show business, with songs such as "Honky Cat," "Tell Me When The Whistle Blows" and "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road," in which he thinks about "going back to my plough."
Taupin's most important influence was his interest in America's Old West, imbuing Tumbleweed Connection and recent songs such as "This Train Don't Stop There Anymore."
When Taupin and Elton decided to write an autobiographical album in 1975, Taupin dubbed himself, "The Brown Dirt Cowboy," in contrast to Elton's "Captain Fantastic." In 1973, Taupin collected all his lyrics up through the Goodbye Yellow Brick Road album into a book — Bernie Taupin: The One Who Writes the Words for Elton John.
In addition to the lyrics from the albums, this book contained the lyrics to all the single B-sides, various rarities and Taupin's 1970 spoken-word album. The songs are illustrated by various artists, friends and celebrity guests such as John Lennon and Joni Mitchell. The book is in black and white, except for the cover.
Taupin moved to Southern California from England in the mid-1970s. Since the 1980s, he has been living on a ranch north of Los Angeles near Santa Ynez, California. He co-owned a restaurant in downtown Los Angeles called "Cicada" with then-wife Stephanie Haymes. He co-owned a PBR bucking bull named Little Yellow Jacket, which was recently retired as an unprecedented three-time world champion.
Here is Taupin and Elton John on The Arsenio Hall Show, 1992
This week in 1895 — 128 years ago — curiosity seekers filed into a store on lower Broadway in New York City to see two boxers — Albert Griffiths and Charles Burnett — do battle in the ring. The fight they were witnessing, however, had happened weeks before.
The images the audience watched were made of shadow and light — projected onto a screen by a machine called a Panoptikon. It was believed to be the first showing of a motion picture to a paying audience.
“There is considerable room for improvement and many drawbacks have yet to be overcome,” The Photographic Times wrote of the event.
Even so, the magazine continued, “the results obtained are most interesting and often startling. Quite a crowd of people visit the store at each performance, many making their exit wondering ‘how it’s done.’ ”
Thanks New York Times!
Marilyn Monroe and Sir Laurence Olivier on the set of The Prince and The Showgirl, 1957. Olivier also directed the film and was producer.
Olivier showed a strong dislike of Monroe during the production of the film. The relationship between Olivier and Monroe worsened when Olivier said "try and be sexy" to her. She never forgave him for the comment.
The production of this film served as the backdrop for the 2011 film, My Week with Marilyn.
Laurence Olivier was born 116 years ago today.
An English actor, director and producer, Olivier is considered one of the greatest actors of the 20th century. During a six-decade career, he played many roles on stage and screen. His three Shakespeare films as actor-director, Henry V (1944), Hamlet (1948) and Richard III (1955), are among the pinnacles of the bard at the cinema.
On stage, his more than 120 roles included Richard III, Macbeth, Romeo, Hamlet, Uncle Vanya and Archie Rice in The Entertainer. He appeared in nearly sixty films, including William Wyler's Wuthering Heights (1939) and Alfred Hitchcock's Rebecca (1940).
Olivier was the founding artistic director of the National Theatre Company in 1963, a post in which he remained for a decade. He had earlier filled the same post at the Old Vic after the Second World War. The largest stage in the National Theatre building was later named after him.
Olivier retired from the stage in 1974, but his work on-screen continued until the year before his death in 1989.
For television, among the works he starred in were Long Day's Journey into Night (1973), The Merchant of Venice (1973), Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1976), Brideshead Revisited (1981) and King Lear (1983). His later films for cinema included Joseph L. Mankiewicz's Sleuth (1972), John Schlesinger's Marathon Man (1976) and The Boys from Brazil (1978).
Actor Spencer Tracy said that Olivier was "the greatest actor in the English-speaking world" and others said he was the best in the world, or that he was the best they would ever see perform. Director Jonathan Miller (who directed Olivier in The Merchant of Venice) warned: "I hope that no actor tries to copy him."
Olivier's received twelve Oscar nominations, with two wins (for Best Actor and Best Picture for the 1948 film Hamlet), plus two honorary awards including a statuette and certificate. He was the youngest actor to be knighted as a Knight Bachelor in 1947. He was the first to be elevated to the peerage two decades later. He married three times, to actresses Jill Esmond, Vivien Leigh and Joan Plowright.
Here is Olivier’s “To Be Or Not To Be” soliloquy from Hamlet, 1948
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in his garden, Bignell Wood, New Forest, 1927
Photo from Fox Photos
It's the birthday of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the creator of master sleuth Sherlock Holmes. He was born 164 years ago.
Doyle was born in Scotland and studied medicine at the University of Edinburgh, where he met Dr. Joseph Bell, a teacher with extraordinary deductive reasoning power. Bell partly inspired Doyle's character, Sherlock Holmes, years later.
After medical school, Doyle moved to London, where his slow medical practice left him ample free time to write. His first Sherlock Holmes story, A Study in Scarlet, was published in Beeton's Christmas Annual in 1887. Starting in 1891, a series of Holmes stories appeared in The Strand magazine.
The Holmes character enabled Doyle to leave his medical practice in 1891 and devote himself to writing, but the author soon grew weary of his creation. In The Final Problem, he killed off both Holmes and his nemesis, Dr. Moriarty, only to resuscitate Holmes later due to popular demand.
In 1902, Doyle was knighted for his work with a field hospital in South Africa.
In addition to dozens of Sherlock Holmes stories and several novels, Doyle wrote history, pursued whaling and engaged in many adventures and athletic endeavors. After his son died in World War I, Doyle became a dedicated spiritualist.
He died in 1930.
Charles Aznavour and Michèle Mercier in Francois Truffaut’s Shoot the Piano Player, 1960
Charles Aznavour was born 99 years ago today.
Aznavour was a French-Armenian singer, songwriter, actor, public activist and diplomat. Besides being one of France's most popular and enduring singers, he was also one of the best-known French singers in the world.
Aznavour is known for his unique tenor voice: clear and ringing in its upper reaches, with gravelly and profound low notes. He appeared in more than sixty movies, composed about a thousand songs (including at least 150 in English, 100 in Italian, 70 in Spanish and 50 in German) and sold well over 100 million records.
He has been recognized as the century's outstanding performer, with nearly 18 percent of the total vote, edging out Elvis Presley and Bob Dylan.
Aznavour has sung for presidents, popes and royalty, as well as at humanitarian events, and is the founder of the charitable organization Aznavour for Armenia along with his long-time friend impresario, Levon Sayan.
In 2009, he was appointed ambassador of Armenia to Switzerland, as well as Armenia's permanent delegate to the United Nations at Geneva.
In 2017, his tour continued in Brazil (Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro), Santiago de Chile, Buenos Aires, Moscow, Vienna and Australia (Perth, Sydney, Melbourne).
On October 1, 2018, Aznavour was found dead in a bathtub at his home at Mouriès at the age of 94. He died of cardiorespiratory arrest complicated by an acute pulmonary edema.
Here, Aznavour performs “She”