Journalist. Mother. Bunny enthusiast. Pop culture junkie.

Journalist. Mother. Bunny enthusiast. Pop culture junkie.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Celeste Holm (and her leading man)

Celeste Holm's glamorous life began in Chicago, where the newlywed college student began acting in plays.

The blonde beauty was a huge success on the stage, but unfortunately, her personal life was interfering with her work. At 22, she ended up divorcing her husband and giving her two-year-old son to her parents to raise, so she could focus on her acting career.

Giving up her family helped Celeste rise to stardom. By the 1940s, Celeste was a famous Broadway star and a few years later, she began making movies.

In 1947, she won an Oscar for her role in Gentleman's Agreement. She starred in All About Eve, with Bette Davis and Marilyn Monroe. She also starred in High Society with Grace Kelly.

During that time, Celeste had three other husbands and another son.

Her oldest son, Ted Nelson, actually went on to become a legend in his own right. He is an Internet pioneer and a famous sociologist. He has won numerous prestigious awards and is highly regarded around the world. His brother, Celeste's younger son, became a successful businessman.

In 1999, Celeste's life changed forever. The 82-year-old widow was attending a fundraiser when she met Frank Basile, a dashing 36-year-old opera-singing waiter.

Frank was seriously dating another woman at the time, but he started pursuing the legendary actress on the side anyway. He even skipped shifts as a waiter to romance Celeste. He claims he was madly in love and he didn't even realize there was a 46-year age difference.

When Celeste's sons, who are 74 and 64, found out about their elderly mother's new boyfriend, they were suspicious. After all, Celeste is worth $13 million. So, they created a financial trust so Frank couldn't touch her money. But that only pissed Frank off. In 2004 on her 87th birthday, although Celeste was newly diagnosed with Alzheimer's, the couple eloped.

After they were married, Frank got into a nasty disagreement with his new stepsons over his inheritance. He wanted more than the $200,000 they offered. Eventually, he settled for inheriting one-third of Celeste's estate, upon her death.

Then, Frank and Celeste sued her two children so they could regain control of her finances. It was a five-year battle which cost them millions of dollars.

Poor 94-year-old Celeste, who is incredibly confused over the matter, as she is battling Alzheimer's, is now estranged from her two sons over the incident.

But, the Hollywood legend seems to be content with her much younger husband. He stuck by her side as she battled memory loss, a collapsed lung, hip replacements, and bleeding ulcers.

Plus, she still has drive. Just like she didn't allow motherhood to prevent her from working 70-some years ago, she's not letting her ailments prevent her from doing the same now.

Celeste recently finished filming her latest movie, College Debts, a raunchy low-budget comedy about a kid who needs to find a way to pay for acting school.

Above is a photo of Celeste with her hunky new co-star. Should Frank be jealous?!

What are your thoughts on Celeste's scandalous marriage?

Saturday, November 26, 2011

The nightmare never ends

I might not be his biggest fan. I might not care about the music. But when I read his journals, it's like watching my own pain dance recklessly in front of a dirty mirror. And that scares me.

The duty of youth is to challenge corruption.

If it's illegal to rock and roll, then throw my ass in jail.

I'd rather be hated for who I am, than loved for who I am not.

I really haven't had that exciting of a life. There are a lot of things I wish I would have done, instead of just sitting around and complaining about having a boring life. So I pretty much like to make it up. I'd rather tell a story about somebody else.

Punk is musical freedom. It's saying, doing and playing what you want. In Webster's terms, 'nirvana' means freedom from pain, suffering and the external world, and that's pretty close to my definition of punk rock.

I was looking for something a lot heavier, yet melodic at the same time. Something different from heavy metal, a different attitude.

I am not gay, although I wish I were, just to piss off homophobes.

My generation's apathy: I'm disgusted with it. I'm disgusted with my own apathy too, for being spineless and not always standing up against racism, sexism and all those other -isms the counterculture has been whining about for years.

If you're really a mean person you're going to come back as a fly and eat poop.

There's good in all of us and I think I simply love people too much, so much that it makes me feel too fucking sad.

Birds scream at the top of their lungs in horrified hellish rage every morning at daybreak to warn us all of the truth, but sadly we don't speak bird.

Wanting to be someone else is a waste of who you are.

Nobody dies a virgin. Life fucks us all.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Night of the Hunter

First, I want thank all of you for the best-wishes yesterday.

I wish I could say Rian and I had some elaborate, amazing celebration, but unfortunately, lack of finances prevented us from doing so. We merely went out for dinner and a few drinks. We're saving up money to do something spectacular six months from now.

We did, however, cozy up on the couch and watch a fantastic movie.

Rian's friend, who is a film professor at a local university, suggested Night of the Hunter to us.

This 1955 sadistic fairytale is way ahead of its time. It focuses on religious hypocrisy, blind greed, and inexcusable ignorance.

Dashing cinema hunk Robert Mitchum plays the psychotic preacher Harry Powell. During a prison stint, he bunks with a bank robber, who is rumored to have stashed $10,000 somewhere. Upon his release, Harry goes to the robber's hometown and courts his grieving widow to obtain the money. Only her young children stand in the way between him and the fortune...

As the preacher, Robert Mitchum is without a doubt one of the most frightening villains in Hollywood history. His calm demeanor mixed with hollow, menacing eyes are enough to make your skin crawl. His haunting voice serenading the children with a sinister lullaby adds to the horror.

The film itself is a work of art. The cinematography is stunning, creating a surrealistic atmosphere. The striking symbolism sprinkled throughout the plot and the scenery make it seem almost magical.

The lighting in this film also steals the show. Shadows and moonlight are like actors in a way, setting the scene and hinting at danger. To put it simply, it is a beautiful film to watch.

I was astonished to learn that when this film came out, it was a critical failure. It was the first film of aspiring-director Charles Laughton. The reviews were so bad, Charles never directed another film again. He was so disappointed.

But 50-some years later, audiences are re-discovering the gem and calling it one of the greatest movies ever made. I believe movie-watchers in the 1950s simply were not ready for this film yet. Nothing like it had existed before. It was too creepy. The studio tried selling it as a horror-romance, when it was really a horror film about children. Which confused people.

If you enjoy old movies, crave suspense, and appreciate cinematic beauty, I highly recommend Night of the Hunter.

If you do end up watching it, let me know what you think!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Friday, November 18, 2011

Dorothy Parker: the smart ass

I saved Dorothy Parker for last, because she's kind of my hero. I discovered her work in college, and her sharp wit and biting sarcasm paralleled my own writing style. I felt I had found a kindred spirit.

I highly suggest you purchase a copy of The Portable Dorothy Parker. It's kind of the most awesome collection of writing in the world.

Dorothy Parker was born in 1893 to a very unhappy home life in New York City. Her mother died when she was a little girl, and Dorothy grew up despising her abusive father and distant new step-mother, who she referred to as "the housekeeper."

Her formal education ended when she was 13. Seven years later her father passed away. Dorothy worked as a pianist in a dance school to earn a living, while writing poetry and prose in her spare time.

In 1917, she married a Wall Street stockbroker and she started gaining national popularity as the theater critic for Vanity Fair magazine.

She also started having regular lunches with her new journalism friends at a nearby hotel, unwittingly founding the famous Algonquin Round Table, which would grow to include actors, feminists, and comedians throughout the 1920s. Every witticism uttered at the luncheon would be splashed about in papers throughout the nation, causing each member to gain a celebrity status.

The group of friends were so tight, that when Dorothy was fired from Vanity Fair in 1920, two members of the Round Table promptly quit writing for the magazine as well, in protest.

The Round Table also helped introduce Dorothy to someone who was going to change the literary journalism scene forever: Harold Ross. He had just started publishing an unimpressive little booklet filled with short stories and human interest features. Although Dorothy figured the magazine wasn't gong anywhere, she agreed to join the staff. Harold's meager little magazine was called The New Yorker.

As the 20s went by, Dorothy attempted suicide several times. Although her career was carrying on nicely, she was depressed. Her marriage was in tatters and her life in general didn't really felt quite right. The couple eventually separated.

She laughed off her suicide attempts in her first book of poetry, Enough Rope, in 1925. It was the beginning of a fantastic literary career. Her hilarious poems about her unsuccessful romantic episodes were highly in demand. Her heart-felt short stories were published in almost every single respectable magazine. Her biting one-liners (or, tweets, as we call them today) were quoted all over the world.

By the late 1920s, Dorothy was heavily involved with political left-wing causes, such as women's rights and civil rights. She is also rumored to have had a few abortions.

In 1934, she married the bisexual screenwriter, Alan Campbell, and the pair relocated to Hollywood. They co-wrote several films together.

During World War II, she helped to co-found the Hollywood Anti-Nazi League and participated in numerous non-profit organizations which helped relocate refugees from war-struck countries.

Unfortunately, her hard work and dedication didn't pay off. During the McCarthy Era of the 1950s, the FBI labeled Dorothy a Communist because of her volunteer work for those organizations.

As a result, she was blacklisted from Hollywood. She went back to New York to write Broadway plays and book reviews for Esquire, but she had also started heavily drinking, which prevented true success from ever being hers again.

In 1963, Dorothy came home to find her husband dead from a drug-overdose. Dorothy died four years later, from a heart attack, at the age of 73.

She bequeathed her entire estate to the Martin Luther King, Jr. Foundation. When he was assassinated, her estate was passed on to the NAACP.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Edna St. Vincent Millay: the free spirit

She was once the most famous person in the entire world. And now barely anyone knows she existed.

Who was Edna St. Vincent Millay?

This red-haired, green-eyed beauty was born in 1892 in Maine to a financially-strained single mother and a household of talented, artistic sisters.

When she was 20, Vincent won fourth place in a poetry contest for Renascence, a poem which made her an overnight sensation on the East coast.

When it became known the young poet was living in poverty, a wealthy fan paid her way to Vassar College.

While in school, Vincent blossomed into a bisexual bohemian, writing some of her best poems by day and discovering delicious, passionate carnal pleasure by night.

As an undergrad, she not only became the first woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for poetry, but she also published a best-selling collection of her work.

Upon graduating from Vassar, Vincent moved to Greenwich Village in New York City.

Her hippie lifestyle was almost half a century before its time. The gorgeous vixen lounged around her apartment, drinking booze and experimenting with drugs.

Dozens of men and women fell in love with her. Vincent slept with them all, but kept her heart at arm's length.

She quickly became the most famous woman in the entire world. Her poetry readings in the 1920s were more like rock concerts, with hysterical fans screaming for encores and hundreds of people desperate to catch a glimpse of the ethereal enchantress.

Every move she made was headlined in the tabloids. Millionaires around the world demanded her presence at their parties.

But it wasn't long before Vincent's dizzying glam-fest came to a screeching halt. The 20-something-year-old fell victim to alcoholism, drug addiction, and numerous embarrassing health problems, which hindered her travel and work.

Fortunately, the literary princess had a knight in shining armor waiting in the sidelines. To the shock of her friends and lovers, Vincent married Eugen Boissevain, a Dutch businessman.

The couple moved to a 435-acre dairy farm in upstate New York, which they named Steepletop. It would become the beloved home where they would spend the rest of their lives.

Instead of hindering Vincent's work, Eugen nurtured it. He allowed Vincent to retain her lovers and explore her sexuality. He desperately tried nursing her back to health from her addictions.

He simply loved her.

One year after her husband's death in 1949, Vincent tumbled down a staircase at Steepletop, breaking her neck and dying in a crumbled heap on the floor. She was only 58.

Many conspiracy theorists believe Vincent threw herself down the stairs, heartbroken over the loss of her soulmate, Eugen. Others speculated she was inebriated or had a heart attack.

Steepletop is now home to the Millay Colony for the Arts, which offers one-month residencies to visual artists, composers and writers.

My candle burns at both ends;
It will not last the night;
But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends,
It gives a lovely light!

-First Fig, Edna St. Vincent Millay