Sunday, 11 November 2018

I'm doing exactly the same as I've always done

"I don't think I'm leading lady material, and I was always the wrong shape. I was never tall enough. But it was more lack of confidence. I shunned doing straight parts. I didn't think I was a good enough actress, so I thought I might as well do something they were supposed to laugh at."

“The three ages of man: youth, middle age and 'my word you do look well'.”

"In terms of work, I'm doing exactly the same as I've always done. It's what's around me that's changed."

Many happy returns, Dame June Rosemary Whitfield, DBE (born 11th November 1925)

Friday, 9 November 2018

Words of the Day...

...are Hedy ...and Lamarr.

[born Hedwig Eva Maria Kiesler, 9th November 1914 – 19th January 2000]

Tuesday, 6 November 2018

“I’ll whistle my way through life until I drop dead”

From the ArtLark website:
On 6th November 1924, Rudolf Schmid was born in Volary, Sudetenland (now in the Czech Republic). In 1941 he enlisted in the Wehrmacht, the German Armed Forces, aged just 17 and served in the beginning of WWII at Udine in Italy. However, Schmid’s constitution was not built for the army.

“A delicate young man, he was unhappy with military life and already confused by his sexual identity. He was, as he later put it, “saved” from the army by typhoid fever, which nearly cost him his life, but also saw him invalided home. But Schmid, like many Sudeten Germans, was forced to flee as the Czechs exacted revenge for the deprivations of the war years. He fled to Munich, where his love of dressing up, singing and dancing set him on a career as a female impersonator.” (Obituary in The Telegraph)

In Munich, Schmid found success as a showgirl and shortly after started performing in the Neue Scala theatre in Berlin. Later, whilst acting in a vaudeville show as “Jeanette” at the Hansa Theatre in Hamburg, he was discovered by the Iranian Shah Reza Pahlavi and his wife Soraya, who were thrilled by his performance and invited him for a private show at their home in Teheran. Schmid’s drag routine and outfits were though way too risqué for the Persian palace and in a bid to save his reputation, Schmid was advised by a friend to try whistling classical pieces, which he was good at. Jeanette then whistled a polka by Johann Strauss and Offenbach’s Barcarole and the Shah was suitably impressed; Schmid was to make her career from here on by this unusual art, continuing an old local Germanic tradition:
“The Austrian ‘School’ of Kunstpfeifen refers loosely to a small group of professional and semi-professional whistlers from the German-speaking lands, especially Austria, who were active from about 1880-1940 and whistled a repertoire consisting mainly of waltzes, Viennese folk songs, and well-known operatic arias.(e.g. Hans Tranquillini, Josef Bratfisch).With the approval of Johann Strauss II behind them, several successors followed. Before 1900, some of these Kunstpfeifer were still known for instrumental repertoire and instrumental techniques (such as nodal articulation and multiphonics) and were occasionally compared to the piccolo; but as light concert music evolved into parlour music and variety entertainment in the 1890s, the word Kunstpfeifen began shedding these instrumental associations and by 1940 was virtually synonymous with singwhistling or whistletainment.” (Dictionary of Whistling)
Schmid made a solid name for herself in show-business, mainly touring the Orient, performing on cruise ships and in private shows, even alongside stars such as Sinatra, Piaf and Marlene Dietrich. He lived in Cairo for fifteen years and there, in 1964 he finally became Jeanette by gender reassignment surgery performed by Dr Ludwig Levy-Lenz.

As she moved back to Vienna, Jeanette Schmid continued a long, more obscure career in whistling, appearing in theatres and cafes for years before director André Heller rediscovered her in the 1980s, reintroducing her to show-business under the stage-name Baroness Lips von Lipstrill. Her show travelled to Europe, then Broadway and even earned Jeanette the Austrian Decoration of Merit in Gold.

When asked at the ceremony about her plans to retire, the flamboyant artist declared, “I’ll whistle my way through life until I drop dead.”
And she practically did just that - she died at the ripe old age of 80, her performances still in demand...

You really couldn't make this stuff up.

Jeanette Schmid (6th November 1924 – 9th March 2005)

Friday, 2 November 2018

Expressing thoughts no mortal has ever gleaned before

There were many geniuses who created the everlasting Mighty World of Marvel (comics, cartoons, movies and all) - the original "pantheon" of Stan Lee (still alive) and Jack Kirby, of course, being the most lauded. But there was another - certainly one of the most innovative graphic artists ever - who made the Marvel legend a reality, Mr Steve Ditko!

The man who created the nerdy-teenager-turned-superhero Spiderman (and most of the friends and foes who persisted with him over the years, including J Jonah Jameson, Gwen Stacy, Doctor Octopus, the Vulture, Green Goblin, Flash Thompson, Electro, Sandman, Kraven the Hunter, Aunt May and the rest) and the amazingly unearthly worlds and incantations that made the "Sorcerer Supreme" Doctor Strange such a cult hit, Mr Ditko's sheer imagination made a huge impression on the comic-buying world (myself included) in those heady days of the 1960s - before he fell out with Mr Lee, packed his bags and departed back to freelancing (for DC and other lesser imprints).

In latter years the born loner became ever more reclusive [he died alone earlier this year and was not discovered for days], and, despite contributing many new artworks and characters for numerous comic titles (Marvel's included) almost up to the turn of the century, he never regained the heady success of his early days - but his legacy is certainly immense, and his name will never be forgotten...

...the Hoary Hosts of Hoggoth forbid it!

RIP Stephen John Ditko (2nd November 1927 - c29 June 2018)

Sunday, 28 October 2018

Faded the warmth

From The day is gone, and all its sweets are gone! by John Keats [whose birthday is celebrated on 31st October]:
Faded the flower and all its budded charms,
Faded the sight of beauty from my eyes,
Faded the shape of beauty from my arms,
Faded the voice, warmth, whiteness, paradise –
Vanish’d unseasonably at shut of eve,
When the dusk holiday – or holinight
Of fragrant-curtain’d love begins to weave
The woof of darkness thick, for hid delight
British Summer Time is ended.


Thursday, 25 October 2018