Friday, October 22, 2010

Happy Birthday Marc Shaiman

Born this day in 1959, Marc Shaiman rose to prominence as an arranger and musical director for Bette Midler in the mid-1980s, even appearing in a cameo as her piano player in Beaches (1988); he co-produced Midler's biggest hit to date, Wind Beneath My Wings which comes from the soundtrack to that movie.

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Shaiman has since parlayed his early success into a career composing music for the movies, most often comedies, beginning with Broadcast News (1987) and including such recent classics as The Addams Family (1991), The First Wives Club (1996), and Team America: World Police (2004). While early in his career he often worked with Billy Crystal, Rob Reiner, and Garry Marshall, in recent years Shaiman is known for his work with Matt Stone and Trey Parker, co-writing such enduring classics as Uncle Fucka and Blame Canada.

Already the winner of a Tony and a Grammy for his work on the musical Hairspray, he has likewise won an Emmy for his work with Billy Crystal on the Academy Awards telecast. Despite five Oscar nominations he's never won, proof that there's no gay Mafia running Hollywood.

Since 1979 his collaborator in life as well as at work has been Scott Wittman.
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"Better Be Ready" by Annette Funicello

In 2007, when I first marked this particular birthday on the Pop Culture Institute, I chose a frankly pervy clip of birthday gal Annette Funicello singing Stuffed Animal while flouncing about in a baby doll nightie; the following year, naturally, that clip was unavailable, which gave me an excuse to spend a few idle minutes perusing what other Funicello-esque offerings YouTube might have for me. Pretty quickly I found this one, in which a more mature Annette swings, Sixties-style... Enjoy!
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Bonne Fete Catherine Deneuve

Her career spans 50 years now, during which time she has been a sex symbol, a respected actor, a muse, a goodwill ambassador, a 'bitch', and the emblem of her country - and often many of these at the same time.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketCatherine Deneuve was born on this day in 1943 into a theatrical family; her father Maurice Dorléac and her mother Renée Deneuve were both stage and screen actors. Catherine, the third of four daughters (the others being Françoise, Sylvie, and Danielle Dorléac) made her film debut at the age of 13, although she wouldn't have her first notable role until 1963.

The following year she starred in The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, which made her a star; it was followed in time by Repulsion and Belle de jour, which served to cement her reputation. In 1965, Deneuve married David Bailey, the renowned British fashion photographer.

The same year Belle de jour was released, Deneuve made the follow-up to The Umbrellas of Cherbourg - entitled The Young Girls of Rochefort - with her sister Françoise Dorléac, who died in a car crash in June 1967 shortly after filming completed.

Deneuve and Bailey split in 1972, but have remained friends; Deneuve later had two children, one with Roger Vadim, and another with Marcello Mastroianni, both of whom have gone into the family business. While continuing to act, Deneuve has also modeled, devoted herself to charity work, and been politically active.
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The Death of Pretty Boy Floyd

Charles Arthur 'Chock' Floyd was born in Adairsville, Georgia, in February 1904; when he was ten the Floyd family moved to Akins, in the Cookson Hills of Oklahoma, where in addition to dirt farming, they were known as moonshiners. Married to Ruby Hargrove at 17, Floyd committed his first crimes at eighteen, was a father to Jack Dempsey 'Jackie' Floyd at nineteen, in jail by 21 and divorced at 22. When he finally left jail at 26 in 1930 he moved to Kansas City, vowing never to return to prison...

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketOne of a number of celebrity gangsters whose Midwestern crime sprees in the early 1930s electrified the general public, by the height of the gangster era of 1933-4 Floyd was already famous, not least because of the colourful moniker, which he hated. Misinformation, even more than the most sensational facts, is what legends are made of, and of the life and crimes of Pretty Boy Floyd there are far more myths than facts.

It begins with his name, which some say was given to him by a madam named Beulah Baird, and still others claim came from a description given of him by a witness to an early robbery. In addition, he was often accused of committing multiple bank robberies at the same time.

Even the circumstances surrounding his death are curious. There are those who claim that police from East Liverpool, Ohio, were with the FBI on the final raid against Floyd and his gang; still others claim that the FBI acted alone. One story has him wounded but fit to stand trial, another that Melvin Purvis summarily executed him. About all that is known for certain is that on this day in 1934, Pretty Boy Floyd - the sagebrush Robin Hood, as he had come to be known - died, aged almost 31, and that tens of thousands of people either filed past his body in the Sallisaw, Oklahoma funeral home or attended his funeral in his adopted hometown of Akins.

'Pretty Boy' Floyd was played by Channing Tatum in Michael Mann's eagerly anticipated 2009 summer blockbuster Public Enemies, which also starred Christian Bale as Melvin Purvis and Johnny Depp as John Dillinger; Floyd has already been portrayed on film by John Ericson, Fabian, Steve Kanaly, Martin Sheen, and Bo Hopkins. Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana have already tried to rehabilitate Floyd's image in their 1994 work Pretty Boy Floyd, A Novel; a well-read hardcover copy of this out-of-print book resides in the collection of the Pop Culture Institute.
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"Hope" by Shaggy

It's always been a challenge for me to justify the author and performer of such a singularly upbeat song with the red carpet asshat who can't seem to resist an opportunity to demonstrate his own insecurity by gay-baiting and indulging in recreational misogyny.

To be fair, he has cleaned his act up somewhat; to appear (as he once did, in August 2007) on The Friday Night Project seated with Alan Carr and Gok Wan without making a single off-colour quip must have been a heckuva chore for old Shaggy.

So whether he's seen the light or is still a hater at heart, this song - which originally appeared on his fifth studio album, 2000's Hot Shot - continues to earn him our birthday wishes...
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Pop History Moment: Bomb Tries To Make Lady Antonia Fraser History


On this day in 1975 historian Lady Antonia Fraser - along with her husband, Conservative MP Sir Hugh Fraser and their house-guest Caroline Kennedy - narrowly avoided being killed by a bomb placed beneath his Jaguar XJ6 by the IRA outside their home in London's tony Holland Park. Only a telephone call from fellow Tory Jonathan Aitken prevented the device from killing its intended victims - possibly the one good deed Aitken ever managed. Killed in the blast was noted cancer researcher Gordon Hamilton-Fairley, who noticed the device while walking his two dogs, Benny and Emmy Lou, who also died.

Over the next couple of years the daughter of the Earl of Longford would cause a similar explosion beneath London's perpetually stodgy high society when she, a mother of six and a Catholic besides, would undertake an extramarital affair with playwright Harold Pinter, who was then married to the actress Vivien Merchant. Fraser and Pinter married in 1977, and remained together until his death in December 2008, living in that same house.

Many thanks go out to fellow blogger Another Nickel In The Machine for additional information on this event - the Campden Hill Square bombing - in particular, as well as the targeted bombing campaign conducted by the IRA in London throughout the 1970s in general.
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POPnews - October 22nd

[The Old Metropolitan Opera House, at 1411 Broadway - designed by J. Cleaveland Cady - occupied an entire block between W. 39th and W.40th; following a fire in August 1892 it was rebuilt along its original lines. After the company moved to posher digs at Lincoln Center in April 1966, a gala finale concert was given; unable to repurpose or renovate the building, or even secure landmark status for it, it was torn down in 1967 and replaced with an office tower which today provides the company with valuable revenue.]

1383 - When Portugal's King Fernando I died without a male heir it brought about the 1383-1385 Crisis, a period of civil war and disorder; his daughter Beatrice (by Leonor Telles de Menezes) and son-in-law John I of Castile tried to hold the throne, but ultimately the crown went to João I, the dead king's illegitimate half-brother, who became the first monarch of the House of Aviz following his victory at the Battle of Aljubarrota in April 1385.

1575 - The Mexican city of Aguascalientes was founded by Juan de Montoro.

1633 - Following the Ming Dynasty's fight with Dutch East India Company at the Battle of Southern Fujian Sea, Chinese forces commanded by Zheng Zhilong won a great victory.

1797 - One thousand meters (3,200 feet) above Paris' Parc Monceau, André-Jacques Garnerin made the first recorded parachute jump, landing without injury in front of a crowd of admiring spectators.

1836 - Sam Houston was inaugurated as the first President of the Republic of Texas.

1844 - Millerites - followers of William Miller - anticipated the end of the world in conjunction with the Second Coming of Christ, in what came to be known as The Great Anticipation; when nothing happened, the following day became known as the Great Disappointment, and many of Miller's followers simply abandoned their beliefs.

1877 - Scotland's Blantyre mine disaster killed 207.

1879 - Thomas Edison's preliminary test of the incandescent light bulb lasted 13.5 hours.

1883 - New York City's Metropolitan Opera House opened with a performance of Charles Gounod's opera Faust, starring the Swedish soprano Christine Nilsson.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket1895 - At Paris' Gare Montparnasse train station the Granville-Paris express derailed into the Places des Rennes (shown at right). This sensational photo was made by Levy & Sons, and remained popular throughout the Surrealist period of the 1920s for its depiction of a world gone mad.

1907 - A run on Knickerbocker Trust Company stock set events in motion that would lead to a depression called the Panic of 1907.

1910 - After a jury deliberated for just 27 minutes, Dr. Crippen was found guilty of killing his wife, Cora, a failed singer and actress known professionally as Belle Elmore; his lover, Ethel Le Neve, was acquitted of any complicity, and lived until 1967. The case was a huge cause célèbre in its day, partly because Crippen was the first murderer caught with the aid of wireless communication technology.

1924 - Toastmasters International was founded.

1926 - J. Gordon Whitehead sucker punched magician Harry Houdini in the stomach in Montreal, which may have led to Houdini's untimely death just nine days later.

1934 - In East Liverpool, Ohio, notorious bank robber Pretty Boy Floyd was shot and killed by Federal Bureau of Investigation agents under the command of Melvin Purvis.

1941 - 17-year-old Guy Môquet, a hero of the French Resistance, was executed by the Nazis, along with 29 other hostages, in retaliation for the killing of Karl Hotz, the commanding officer of occupation forces in the French département of Loire-Inférieure.

1964 - Jean-Paul Sartre turned down the Nobel Prize for Literature, apparently.

1986 - Jane Dornacker died when the WNBC traffic helicopter she was reporting from crashed into the Hudson River; the pilot, Bill Pate, was badly injured although he did survive the crash. Dornacker survived an earlier helicopter crash the previous April 18th over New Jersey's Hackensack River.

1999 - Maurice Papon, an official in the government of Vichy France during World War II, was jailed for crimes against humanity.
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