Tuesday, 30 December 2014

The last survivor

And so, farewell Luise Rayner - the first actor to win multiple Academy Awards and the first to win them consecutively; the last survivor of a long-lost golden era of film - who has died at the grand old age of 104.

When she walked away from the despised "studio system" after her initial success, Louis B Mayer said: "We made you and we are going to destroy you."

"Well, he tried his best,"
she recalled later. "I replied: 'You are now 60 and I am 20. When I am 40, the age of a successful actress, you will be dead and I will live!'"

And she certainly did.

RIP Luise Rainer (12th January 1910 - 30th December 2014)

My previous entry for Miss Rainer.

Sunday, 28 December 2014

I am old and I am scary

"There's a difference between solitude and loneliness."

"Speak your mind, even if your voice shakes."

"I've been playing old parts forever. I play 93 quite often. When you've done it more than once, you take the hint."

"People think of you differently if you've been in their homes. They think they own you because they watched you while they were eating dinner, or they can turn you up or down, or even freeze you."

"I think I got pigeon-holed in humour; Shakespeare is not my thing."

"I wanted to be a serious actress, but of course that didn't really happen."

"Old people are scary. And I have to face it. I am old and I am scary."

Many happy returns today to another of our most revered goddesses of the acting profession, Dame Maggie Smith - she, too is 80 years old. Long may she reign, and long may she continue to be scary...

Dame Margaret Natalie "Maggie" Smith, DBE, CH (born 28th December 1934)

Saturday, 27 December 2014

I dress for the image, not for myself, not for the public, not for fashion, not for men

From The Observer, March 1960:
The murmur in the quiet hotel bar froze. Quite suddenly, in a few silent strides, Marlene Dietrich was there.

She really is quite something. She was wearing a wild mink coat; a black Balenciaga dress embroidered, at the left breast, with the scarlet bar of the Légion d'honneur; a stiffened black tulle hat; white kid gloves; black patent leather pumps; and a black crocodile handbag. That's all. But the quality of her body gave the mink a luxury no advertiser could ever buy: the black dress was littler and subtler than volumes of Vogue could imply, and her single decoration was somehow more worldly and wicked than all the jewellery in Paris, London and New York put together.

Unlike the sculptured image of films, in which only the voice moves, she is alert and friendly. Her face has got lines, luckily: two deep ones from nose to chin and several on the forehead. It is alive with warmth and humour. She ordered coffee and the waiter brought it and watched tenderly over the first mouthful.

"I dress for the image," she announced. "Not for myself, not for the public, not for fashion, not for men." The image? "A conglomerate of all the parts I've ever played on the screen. When I was in 'The Blue Angel' people thought that was me: they really thought that was me!

"If I dressed for myself I wouldn't bother at all. Clothes bore me. I'd wear jeans. I adore jeans. I get them in a public store – men's, of course; I can't wear women's trousers. But I dress for the profession. I get my clothes in Hollywood and Paris, and if I can't come to Paris, I wait.

"For the past five years, I have got my clothes for the profession from Jean-Louis in Hollywood. We go together to these places where they import materials and pick what we like. I know what I want to look like and he makes the dress.

"When I come to Paris, I get my clothes at one house or another. I went to Dior when he started. There hasn't been any fashion since that. There is fashion in magazines, but where are these dresses we see in them? I never see them being worn. They belong to a different sect. But since Dior made his great revolution, what change has there been? Waist here, waist there, flat – what does it mean?

"I never go to a collection. It takes too long to pass. They know me now and they show me only the clothes that are mine. I never consider money when I order clothes. Before I had money? I don't remember.

"I have always had to have clothes made for me because of my unusual shape – broad shoulders, narrow hips. I have never made a mistake. I can see if something goes wrong during the making. And I stop it.

"I have no fur coat. I haven't the courage any more. This one isn't mine. Balenciaga sent this over because he thought it was cold."
Marie Magdalene "Marlene" Dietrich (27th December 1901 – 6th May 1992)

Thursday, 25 December 2014

Huge gifts

[Loni Anderson as Jayne Mansfield]

"If you're going to do something wrong, do it big, because the punishment is the same either way."

Have a Merry Jayne Mansfield Xmas!

Monday, 22 December 2014

A girl called Billie

"Perhaps it sounds like false modesty, but I know I could have done far more with my acting life than I have... I had a collaboration with Beckett; I was a conduit for him. But I've never really felt like a proper actress."

"I always thought [acting] was a bit of a flibbertigibbety occupation."

“Death’s not one of those things that frighten the life out of me. Getting up on stage with the curtain going up frightens me more."

RIP another of our most beloved actresses, Miss Billie Whitelaw CBE (6th June 1932 – 21st December 2014)

Sunday, 21 December 2014

The sun a spark

"The days are short,
The sun a spark,
Hung thin between
The dark and dark."

- John Updike

“And so the Shortest Day came and the year died
And everywhere down the centuries of the snow-white world
Came people singing, dancing,
To drive the dark away.
They lighted candles in the winter trees;
They hung their homes with evergreen;
They burned beseeching fires all night long
To keep the year alive."

- Susan Cooper

Midwinter's Day or Yule.

It gets better from now on...

Friday, 19 December 2014

Liberace lives!

You couldn't make it up.

From The Guardian:
Liberace is set to tour the world as a hologram. A simulated version of the late pianist will be resurrected by some of the same people who staged Coachella’s holographic Tupac Shakur, with a début performance scheduled to take place in Las Vegas.

“This is a major step in the evolution of this medium for entertainment,” Hologram USA’s Alki David said in a press release. The show will be so “lifelike”, he predicted, that “the room will be filled with all of the great singer’s charm and charisma”.

The cyber Liberace will also be able to interact with audience members. “You’ll feel the warmth from his heart, the sparkle of his eye and the pure lightning from his fingertips,” explained Jonathan Warren, chairman of the Liberace Foundation.

The Liberace Foundation is a full partner in Hologram USA’s plans, loaning the company the footage and artefacts that will allow them to create their hologram.

The date of holo-Liberace’s Las Vegas premiere will be announced “very soon”, organisers said. Described as a “full-scale, long-running” show, the high-tech soiree will later be “roll[ed] out across the USA and … globally”.
To quote the saintly Lee himself:"You can have either the Resurrection or you can have Liberace. But you can't have both."

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Memento mori

She made her name in movies alongside Steve Reeves, Marcello Mastroianni, Frank Sinatra, Isabelle Adjani, William Holden, George Segal, Tony Curtis, Anthony Quinn, Anna Magnani and Rod Steiger. Yet with her stunning looks, she could steal a scene from anyone. Not least in this classic scene from the comedy How To Murder Your Wife:

RIP Signora Lisi. We wish we could have partied with you...

Virna Lisa Pieralisi (8th November 1936 – 18th December 2014)

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Enjoy it!

"Unpack your sense of humour, and get on with living and ENJOY IT."

Sir Noël Peirce Coward (16th December 1899 – 26th March 1973)

PS That picture of The Merm and The Master is the latest addition to our "Wall of Fame" here at Dolores Delargo Towers...

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Skin deep

From Dame Joan Collins' regular column in The Spectator:
“Like many British actors and actresses, I fly to the US two or three times a year, with my new and nifty global entry card. Though you do hear some horror stories, I have rarely - if ever - had any problems with US immigration, until last month.

Because I apply moisturiser on long trips, quite liberally, my hands were covered with lotion at the border control counter, which meant my fingers didn’t make a strong enough impression on the fingerprint scanner. My immigration form came out of the printer with a large and very ominous X on it. This alarmed the official, who decided to leave me standing next to his desk while he waved forward and collected the forms of those whose fingerprints had made the grade.

After an interminable parade of obvious stares and hidden snickers from the successful entrants, he made me take off my hat and glasses and peered at me. I felt like a criminal caught at the border while trying to immigrate into the US illegally. He cross-examined me ruthlessly - ‘What do you do?’ ‘Why are you here?’ ‘What are your plans in this country?’ Several other officers were called over to discuss me; my passport was inspected thoroughly and scanned time after time.

That was a lot of fun after a ten-hour trip from Heathrow, and all because I moisturise."
Be warned - too much Oil of Ulay and you're suddenly a terrorism suspect. Osama bin Laden swore by it.

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Beautiful people

From Featureshoot:
For Beautiful by Night, San Francisco-based photographer and film-maker James Hosking chronicles life in Aunt Charlie’s Lounge, the one and only gay bar left standing in the Tenderloin, a neighbourhood that decades ago was renowned for its thriving LGBT community. In tracing the nightly routines of three of its older drag queens - Donna Personna, Collette LeGrande and Olivia Hart - Hosking traces the rich history and uncertain future of drag in the crime-ridden area.

In recent years, the Tenderloin has seen thirty-five times the crime rate of surrounding areas, and its decline has come at the expense of a once-flourishing gay nightlife. Hosking was drawn to those queens who had experienced those early years of drag, those who pushed through their fears of prejudice and societal disapproval to practice what they love. Hosking was endeared to Aunt Charlie’s, in part because of its imperfect performances. The club has no windows and no stage, and the queens must wind in and out of the crowd during their sets, for which they choose their own songs.

More than just a means to making a living, drag is an enduring and lifelong passion. “I think they’d miss it if they stopped,” says Hosking.
And here is the documentary Beautiful by Night, for your delectation:

James Hosking website