The most iconic photo of Marilyn Monroe was made 69 years ago today on a New York subway vent
Marilyn Monroe and Tom Ewell in The Seven Year Itch, 1955
The famous photograph of Marilyn Monroe, laughing as her skirt is blown up by the blast from a subway vent, was shot on this day in 1954 — 69 years ago — during the filming of The Seven Year Itch.
The scene infuriated her husband, Joe DiMaggio, who felt it was exhibitionist, and the couple divorced shortly afterward.
Monroe — born Norma Jean Mortensen and also known as Norma Jean Baker — had a tragic childhood. Her mother, a negative cutter at several film studios, was mentally unstable and institutionalized when Norma Jean was five.
Afterward, the little girl lived in a series of foster homes, where she suffered from neglect and abuse, and later lived in an orphanage. At age 16, she quit high school and married a 21-year-old aircraft plant worker, Joe Dougherty.
In 1944, her husband was sent overseas with the military, and Monroe worked as a paint sprayer in a defense plant. A photographer spotted her there, and she soon became a popular pin-up girl. She began working as a model and divorced her husband two years later.
In 1946, 20th Century Fox signed her for $125 a week but dropped her after one film, from which her scenes were cut. Columbia signed her but also dropped her after one film. Unemployed, she posed nude for a calendar for $50. The calendar sold a million copies and made $750,000.
Monroe played a series of small film roles until 1950, when Fox signed her again. This time, they touted her as a star and began giving her feature roles in the early 1950s.
In 1953, she starred with Jane Russell in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, playing fortune hunter, Lorelei Lee. Her tremendous sex appeal and little-girl mannerisms made her enormously popular.
After her divorce from baseball legend, Joe DiMaggio, Monroe searched for more serious roles and announced she would found her own studio. She began studying acting with the famous Lee Strasberg at the Actors Studio in New York.
She gave an impressive comic performance in Bus Stop in 1955. The following year, she married intellectual playwright, Arthur Miller. She appeared in the hit Some Like It Hot in 1959.
Monroe made her last picture in 1961, The Misfits, which Miller wrote especially for her. She divorced him a week before the film opened.
She attempted one more film, Something's Got to Give, but was fired for her frequent illnesses and absences from the set, which many believed to be related to drug addiction.
In August, 1962, she died from an overdose of sleeping pills. Her death, at 36, was ruled a possible suicide. Since her death, her popularity and mystique have endured, with numerous biographies published after her death.
Her ex-husband Joe DiMaggio continued to send flowers to her grave every day for the rest of his life.
Tommy Lee Jones is 77 years old today.
An actor and film director, Jones has received four Academy Award nominations, winning one as Best Supporting Actor for his performance as U.S. Marshal Samuel Gerard in the 1993 thriller film, The Fugitive.
His other notable starring roles include former Texas Ranger Woodrow F. Call in the award-winning TV mini-series, Lonesome Dove, Agent K in the Men in Black film series, Sheriff Ed Tom Bell in No Country for Old Men and as the villain, Two-Face, in Batman Forever.
He also performed as the terrorist, William Strannix, in Under Siege, a Texas Ranger in Man of the House, rancher, Pete Perkins, in The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada, which also served as his directorial debut, Colonel Chester Phillips in Captain America: The First Avenger and Warden Dwight McClusky in Natural Born Killers.
Jones has also portrayed real-life figures such as businessman Howard Hughes, Radical Republican Congressman Thaddeus Stevens, executed murderer Gary Gilmore, U.S. Army General Douglas MacArthur, Oliver Lynn, husband of Loretta Lynn in Coal Miner's Daughter and baseball great, Ty Cobb.
At the 2000 Democratic National Convention, Jones presented the nominating speech for his college roommate, Al Gore, as the Democratic Party's nominee for President of the United States.
Jones resides in Terrell Hills, Texas, a suburb of San Antonio. He speaks fluent Spanish and owns a 3,000 acre cattle ranch in San Saba County, Texas and a ranch near Van Horn, Texas, which served as the set for his film, The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada. He also owns a home and farm in polo mecca Wellington, Florida.
Jones is a serious polo player and he has a house in a polo country club in the city of Buenos Aires, Argentina. He is a supporter of the Polo Training Foundation. He is an avid San Antonio Spurs fan and is often seen courtside at Spurs games.
They were the godfathers of Italian-American soul, and though their roots were in old-fashioned doo-wop, they left that style for dead on a Newark street corner when they combined Frankie Valli's macho falsetto and the Jersey-thick background vocals of Bob Gaudio, Tommy DeVito and Nick Massi with a driving R&B beat in the style of Motown or Phil Spector.
While their trademark harmonies may not have been so sophisticated, the Four Seasons had a sound fresh enough to remain current even after the arrival of the mighty Beatles.
Indeed, the Four Seasons, along with the Beach Boys, were one of only two American groups to enjoy significant chart success before, during and after the British Invasion.
Their hugely successful career reached an early high point on this day in 1962 — 61 years ago — when "Sherry" became their first #1 hit.
Frankie Valli (born Francis Casteluccio) had been hard at work trying to become a star for the better part of a decade before the Four Seasons achieved their breakthrough. They had come together as a group in several stages over the previous four years, changing their name in 1961 from the Four Lovers after failing an audition at a New Jersey bowling alley called The Four Seasons.
It was keyboard player Bob Gaudio who wrote the song that would launch the group's career. He later told Billboard magazine that he banged out "Sherry" in 15 minutes before a scheduled rehearsal.
Without a tape recorder, Gaudio explained, "I drove down to rehearsal humming it, trying to keep it in my mind. I had no intention of keeping the lyrics, [but] to my surprise, everybody liked them, so we didn't change anything."
"Sherry" was released as a single in August, 1962 and made it all the way to the top of the pop charts just four weeks later — on September 15.
In the next six months, the Four Seasons would earn two more #1 hits with "Big Girls Don't Cry" and "Walk Like A Man," making them the only American group ever to earn three consecutive #1 hits.
"Rag Doll" gave the group its fourth #1 in the summer of 1964, and many other Top 40 hits followed in the subsequent 12 years before the Four Seasons made a triumphant return to the top of the pop charts with their fifth #1 hit "December, 1963 (Oh, What A Night)" in March 1976.
Here, the Four Seasons, in one of many reincarnations, perform “Sherry” in 2009 at the Westbury Music Fair in Long Island, New York.
Frank Beacham working in a radio station in the mid-1960s
The Four Seasons — A Personal Story
It was 1965 and I was only 17 years old. By this time, I had a regular on-air DJ job at WHPB Radio in the small town of Belton, South Carolina. One of the groups I played regularly on my show was The Four Seasons.
When Frankie Valli and the group came to Erskine College that year in the tiny nearby town of Due West, I went to the concert. After the show, I hoped to get Valli to record a short plug for my radio show.
This was the era before security, publicists, handlers or bodyguards. I just walked into The Four Season’s dressing room after the show and went up to Frankie Valli. I asked if he would cut a promo. He was very friendly and agreed. I told him I would return shortly with the recording gear.
Back in those days, there were no handheld audio recorders. I wheeled in on a cart a huge Robert’s reel-to-reel professional tape recorder weighing more than 60 pounds, a large eight-pound RCA ribbon microphone plus a bunch of other equipment.
When I hit the dressing room, Valli and his bandmates were aghast at the amount of gear I had. They just looked at me, laughing and shaking their heads.
This played to their sympathy. As I set up the recording equipment, the group huddled. When I rolled tape, rather than do a voice promo, they sang an impromptu promo. In fact, they did several versions, clowning around all the way.
They made this kid very happy and those promos played almost daily on my radio show for the next year and a half, before I went away to college.
To this day, I still have a warm spot for Frankie Valli because of what he did. He stopped to help a kid and not everyone did that. He and that group were all good people — ones I will never forget.
Photo by Martin Dam Kristensen
Jac Holzman is 92 years old today.
Holzman founded Elektra Records in his St. John's College dorm room in 1950 and Nonesuch Records in 1964. He signed such acts as The Doors, Judy Collins, The Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Josh White, Carly Simon, Harry Chapin, Queen , Love, the Stooges, MC5 and Bread to Elektra.
Holzman served as executive producer for numerous stock sound effect libraries under the Authentic Sound Effects series. In 1970, he merged his music interests with Warner Communications (WCI) and continued his association with the labels.
In 1973, Holzman was appointed senior vice president and chief technologist for WCI. He guided the company into home video and the first interactive cable television system, QUBE.
In 1982, following the death of president and founder Robert Gottschalk, Holzman took charge of Panavision, a wholly owned subsidiary of Warner Communications and turned around that financially troubled company around.
In 1986, he formed FirstMedia, an investment firm which acquired Cinema Products Corporation, the maker of the Oscar-winning Steadicam camera stabilization system.
In 1991, through FirstMedia, Holzman acquired the Discovery, Trend and Musicraft jazz labels from the estate of Albert Marx, which was also acquired by Warner Music Group in 1993.
Holzman is the father of Adam Holzman, a jazz-rock keyboardist who has played with Miles Davis; Jaclyn Easton, a writer and Internet entrepreneur; and Marin Sander-Holzman, an editor and filmmaker.
Holzman was inducted into the non-performer category of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on Monday, March 14, 2011.
In April, 2016, Steve Cooper, CEO of Warner Music Group, announced that Holzman is now Senior Technology Advisor to WMG. He’s “a wide-ranging technology ‘scout’, exploring new digital developments and identifying possible partners,” Cooper said.
In June 2018, Holzman launched a new venture named Cosmic Ringtones & Sonic Realms… Your Universe Is Calling. Curated and produced by Holzman, the collection includes a series of instrumental pieces composed, performed and recorded by his son Adam. The album was released on Holzman’s FM Group Music label, distributed by ADA.
Julian "Cannonball" Adderley, jazz alto saxophonist of the hard bop era of the 1950s and 1960s, was born 95 years ago today.
Adderley is remembered for his 1966 single, "Mercy Mercy Mercy," a crossover hit on the pop charts, and for his work with trumpeter Miles Davis, including the album, Kind of Blue, made in 1959. He was the brother of jazz cornetist, Nat Adderley, a longtime member of his band.
Originally from Tampa, Florida, Adderley moved to New York in 1955. His nickname came from "cannibal," a title imposed on him by high school colleagues as a tribute to his voracious appetite.
Cannonball moved to Tallahassee, Florida, when his parents obtained teaching positions at Florida A&M University. Both Cannonball and brother, Nat, played with Ray Charles when Charles lived in Tallahassee during the early 1940s.
Adderley moved to Broward County, Florida, in 1948, after finishing his music studies at Tallahassee. He became the band director at Dillard High School in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, a position which he held until 1950. He was a local legend in Southeast Florida until he moved to New York City in 1955.
Adderley left Florida originally to seek graduate studies at New York conservatories, but one night in 1955 he brought his saxophone with him to the Cafe Bohemia. Asked to sit in with Oscar Pettiford in place of his band's regular saxophonist, who was late for the gig, the "buzz" on the New York Jazz scene after Adderley's performance announced him as the heir to the mantle of Charlie Parker.
Adderley formed his own group with his brother, Nat, after signing onto the Savoy jazz label in 1957. He was noticed by Miles Davis, and it was because of his blues-rooted alto saxophone that Davis asked him to play with his group. He joined the Davis band in October,1957, three months prior to the return of John Coltrane to the group.
Adderley played on the seminal Davis records, Milestones and Kind of Blue. This period also overlapped with pianist Bill Evans' time with the sextet, an association that led to recording Portrait of Cannonball and Know What I Mean?
Adderley died of a cerebral hemorrhage in 1975 as a result of severe migraines.
Here, Adderley and his quintet perform “Work Song.”
Jean Renoir, 1975
Photo by Richard Avedon
Jean Renoir was born 129 years ago today.
Renoir was a French film director, screenwriter, actor, producer and author. As a film director and actor, he made more than forty films from the silent era to the end of the 1960s.
His films, Grand Illusion (1937) and The Rules of the Game (1939), are often cited by critics as among the greatest ever made.
As an author, he wrote Renoir, My Father (1962), the definitive biography of his father, the painter Pierre-Auguste Renoir.
In 1975, he received a lifetime Academy Award for his contribution to the motion picture industry and that same year a retrospective of his work was shown at the National Film Theatre in London. Also in 1975, the government of France elevated him to the rank of commander in the Légion d'honneur.
Jean Renoir died in Beverly Hills on February 12, 1979 at age 84. His body was returned to France and buried beside his family in the cemetery at Essoyes, Aube, France.
On his death, fellow director and friend, Orson Welles, wrote an article for the Los Angeles Times, "Jean Renoir: The Greatest of all Directors.”
Agatha Christie, English crime novelist, short story writer and playwright, was born 133 years ago today.
Christie also wrote six romances under the name Mary Westmacott including Giant's Bread. However, she is best known for the 66 detective novels and 14 short story collections that she wrote under her own name, most of which revolve around the investigative work of such characters as Hercule Poirot, Jane Marple, Parker Pyne, Ariadne Oliver, Harley Quin/Mr. Satterthwaite and Tommy and Tuppence Beresford.
She wrote the world's longest-running play, a murder mystery, The Mousetrap. In 1971 she was made a Dame for her contribution to literature.
Christie was born into a wealthy upper-middle-class family in Torquay, Devon. She served in a hospital during the First World War before marrying and starting a family in London. She was initially unsuccessful at getting her work published, but — in 1920 — The Bodley Head press published her novel, The Mysterious Affair at Styles, featuring the character of Hercule Poirot. This launched her literary career.
The Guinness Book of World Records lists Christie as the best-selling novelist of all time. Her novels have sold roughly two billion copies, and her estate claims that her works come third in the rankings of the world's most-widely published books, behind only Shakespeare's works and the Bible.
According to Index Translationum, she remains the most-translated individual author – having been translated into at least 103 languages. And Then There Were None is Christie's best-selling novel, with 100 million sales to date, making it the world's best-selling mystery ever, and one of the best-selling books of all time.
Christie's stage play, The Mousetrap, opened at the Ambassadors Theatre in the West End on November 25, 1952 and is still running after more than 25,000 performances.
Most of her books and short stories have been adapted for television, radio, video games and comics, and more than thirty feature films have been based on her work.
Roy Acuff was born 120 years ago today.
A country music singer, fiddler and promoter, Acuff was known as the "King of Country Music.” He is credited with moving the genre from its early string band and "hoedown" format to the star singer-based format that helped make it internationally successful.
Photo by Sebastião Salgado