Friday, 14 May 2021

This weekend I am mostly dressing casual...

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...like today's birthday girl, Art Deco icon Miss Billie Dove!

[More Billie here]

Sunday, 9 May 2021

Her Imperial Majesty


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Sharing the celebrations as she does with another weird assortment including Alan Bennett, Candice Bergen, Billy Joel, J. M. Barrie, Joan Sims, Howard Carter, Richard Adams, Albert Finney, Dave Gahan, Roger Hargreaves, Vince Cable, Paul Heaton and Anne Sofie von Otter, the magnificent Glenda Jackson blows out 85 candles on her cake today!

A remarkable woman all round, she rose from humble working-class beginnings to become a renowned actress, winning her first Oscar in 1969 for Women In Love [fun fact: twenty years later in The Rainbow, she played the mother of her character Gudrun]. Never one to be typecast, she has portrayed a vast variety of characters over the years, including classic dramatic roles such as Hedda Gabler and (on stage) King Lear, as well as numerous biographical portrayals such as poet Stevie Smith, assassin Charlotte Corday, actresses Sarah Bernhart and Patricia Neal, Lady Emma Hamilton and George II's Queen Caroline, and, of course, Queen Elizabeth I - both in the acclaimed BBC serial Elizabeth R and in the movie Mary, Queen of Scots:

She worked extensively and repeatedly with that maestro of all things OTT, the fabulous Ken Russell - in the aforementioned Women In Love, The Music Lovers and The Devils (and even an uncredited role in The Boy Friend), and she won a BAFTA for her role opposite Peter Finch in the groundbreaking "gay love-triangle" drama Sunday Bloody Sunday in 1971. By way of a complete contrast to the grittiness of such roles, that same year she accepted an invitation from Morecambe and Wise to appear in their Xmas special (and in one fell swoop, became one of Britain's best-loved actresses):

Morecambe & Wise and Glenda Jackson - "Antony and Cleopatra"

I love her in just about anything she's been in [even the "Pirate Captain" in The Muppet Show!], but I was particularly fond of this one - the first time she really turned her hand to big-screen comedy, with excellent results. She won her second Oscar for her role! It was the "fight scene" in this film that coined a phrase in our family when I was young, for if anyone was angry or in a strop, we would always refer to it as "doing a Glenda"...

Having spent a couple of decades as Labour MP for Hampstead in North London, and seen off both her bêtes noir Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair, she's jacked all that in and gone back to her first love, acting. Just last year, she received accolades, awards and nominations galore for her latest role in Elizabeth is Missing, and, at an age when most people might be taking it easy and knitting jumpers, shows no signs of slowing down...

Many happy returns, Glenda May Jackson CBE (born 9th May 1936)!

Friday, 7 May 2021

This weekend, I am mostly dressing casual...

...like the divine Miss Katherine Hepburn in Christopher Strong!

Katharine Houghton Hepburn (12th May 1907 – 29th June 2003)

Wednesday, 5 May 2021

Vroom Broom vroomed


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As I said in my post way back in 2009:

H.R. Pufnstuf was an absolute obsession of mine when I was a child. From the same production house that brought us The Banana Splits, this was a strange [typically 60s, slightly druggy] fantasy about a boy (played by the late Jack Wilde, of Oliver fame), shipwrecked on a weird island with a talking flute named Freddy, a magic boat, the giant puppet dragon of the title, his friends Cling & Clang and Dr. Blinky, and a wicked witch named Witchiepoo (played by Billie Hayes) who rode on a Vroom Broom... Bizarre stuff, indeed.

No drugs involved there, then...

Today, we discover that "Witchiepoo" has taken her "Vroom Broom", and "Orson Vulture" too, no doubt, and flown off to "Living Island" for the very last time...

RIP, Bille Hayes (5th August 1924 – 29th April 2021)

Sunday, 2 May 2021

Olympian talent

"You have to know what you want and go for it. Don't let the money be an issue. You can always pay your bills if you're willing to work."


Very sad news today - one of my favourite actresses Olympia Dukakis has departed for Fabulon.

As I said in my tribute to her way back in 2009:

This lady is one of a rare breed, for if ever I see her name in the credits, I know that a film is going to have at least one scene worth watching!

Although her film career stretches all the way back to the 1960s, it was really only in the 80s that the world took notice of this feisty little Greek mama, in films such as Moonstruck and Steel Magnolias.

But it is for her Emmy-award-winning performance as the enigmatic Mrs Madrigal in Tales of the City that we love her the most, of course (although I must admit her cameo in Jeffrey as the proud mother of the "pre-operative transsexual lesbian son" is perhaps one of my personal favourites!). Here are a few small clips of the talent that is [was] Olympia Dukakis...




RIP, Olympia Mary Dukakis (20th June 1931 – 1st May 2021)

Saturday, 1 May 2021

An Icon

"I've looked forward to being older because you will have that many more miles covered. We mustn't be led into thinking getting old is bad. Growing old is good."

Sharing a birthday as she does with a bizarre mix of names such as Una Stubbs, the Duke of Wellington, Wes Anderson, Calamity Jane, Judy Collins, Romaine Brooks, Glenn Ford, Rita Coolidge, Danielle Darrieux, Bernard Butler, Shirley Horn and Ray Parker Jr. - the one-and-only Joanna Lumley is 75 years old today!

Model, dancer, Ken Barlow's girlfriend "Elaine Perkins " in Coronation Street, "Bond Girl" (in On Her Majesty's Secret Service), "Hammer Horror Girl" (in The Satanic Rites of Dracula), "Sapphire" in Sapphire & Steel, "Purdey" in The New Avengers, the former school friend turned high-class prostitute in Shirley Valentine, "Donna Sinclair" in Dr Willoughby...and, of course, "Patsy Stone" in Absolutely Fabulous - she's done it all!

Nowadays, she has cemented her "national treasure" stakes by not only standing up for the Gurkhas who were being denied British citizenship, but also by stepping into the well-trodden footsteps of Michael Palin, Simon Reeve, Michael Portillo and the rest with several TV series of travelogues (she's done Russia, the Caribbean, the Silk Route, Greece, Japan and India and we're currently watching her tour of Britain).

Naturally, we adore her.

All hail, Joanna Lamond Lumley OBE FRGS (born 1st May 1946)!

Read my tribute to her on her 70th - amd much more over at my other blog Give 'em the old Razzle Dazzle.