Amoeblog

Cyd Charisse 1922 - 2008

Posted by Whitmore, June 18, 2008 03:35pm | Post a Comment


There was one thing my Dad and I always agreed on, even when I was a teenager and we were unlikely to find any common ground: we were both awe-struck by Cyd Charisse, the greatest and sexiest of all of the Hollywood Musical dancers. She was gorgeous, strong, and always brought a little extra sizzle and nuance to her work.

Charisse died Tuesday at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles after suffering an apparent heart attack. She was 86.

Cyd Charisse danced in some of the greatest Movie Musicals during the hey-day of Movie Musicals. She first gained attention in 1943 in The Harvey Girls, and went on to appear in The Zeigfield Follies, Till the Clouds Roll In, and Words and Music. But she really hit her stride in the early 1950’s with Singin' in the Rain, where she danced with Gene Kelly in what can only be described as one of the steamiest of all Hollywood ballets. She went onto star in other classic films such as The Band Wagon, Brigadoon, Deep in My Heart, It's Always Fair Weather, and Silk Stockings.

In 1952, at the height of her career, her legs were reportedly insured by Lloyds of London for $5 million dollars. She was even featured in the 2001 edition of the Guinness Book of World Records as the "Most Valuable Legs" in Hollywood history.

Born Tula Ellice Finklea on March 8, 1922, in Amarillo, Texas, her older brother nicknamed her Sid as a variation on Sis. She eventually changed the spelling of her name while at MGM, to “give her an air of mystery.”

Continue reading...

Alexander "Sandy" Courage 1919 - 2008

Posted by Whitmore, May 30, 2008 09:29am | Post a Comment


Alexander "Sandy" Courage, composer of the original 1960’s Star Trek television theme has died in Pacific Palisades. He was 88.

Born Dec. 10, 1919, in Philadelphia, Courage graduated from the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, N.Y., before enlisting in the Army Air Force in 1942, a month after Pearl Harbor, serving as a band leader on California military bases during the Second World War.

His career as a composer started at CBS Radio in the mid 1940’s; eventually Courage moved over to MGM as an orchestrator/arranger in 1948.

Over the next decade or so, he worked as an orchestrator on a string of classic movie musicals, including Annie Get Your Gun, Singing in The Rain, Show Boat, The Band Wagon, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, Kismet, Oklahoma, and Gigi. But by the late 1950s, Courage was scoring soundtracks, including two classic westerns-- The Left Handed Gun and Day of the Outlaw, as well as some early rock and roll exploitation films-- Shake, Rattle and Rock!, Hot Rod Girl and Hot Rod Rumble.

He began composing for television in 1959, writing themes and incidental music for hundreds of television shows including The Untouchables, Laramie, Daniel Boone, M Squad, Lost in Space, Land of the Giants, The Waltons, Falcon Crest, and Flamingo Road.

But his greatest claim to fame came with the theme and eight-note brass fanfare opening to Star Trek, the legendary sci-fi series which ran from 1966 to 1969. Originally using electronic/orchestral sounds for the arrangement, Courage later used a wordless melody line for the second and third seasons, sung by soprano Loulie Jean Norman. The Star Trek theme has since then become one of the most recognizable melodies ever in film and television history. One interesting note -- in those halcyon disco days in the early 1970’s, Nichelle Nichols, who played the role of Uhura in the original series, recorded a dance version -- a must have for record and sci-fi geeks everywhere!

Continue reading...

This Day In History, May 23rd

Posted by Whitmore, May 23, 2008 10:03pm | Post a Comment

I was wandering the web, studying ridiculous conspiracy theories, keeping track of the stock market, and wasting an otherwise perfectly fine Friday evening, when I decided to research this date in history, May 23rd. And not surprisingly, it’s kind of scatologically interesting:

1701 - Infamous Pirate, Captain William Kidd, is hanged in London for his crimes on the high seas.
1900 - Sergeant William Harvey Carney becomes the first African-American to be awarded the Medal of Honor, for his heroism in the Assault on the Battery Wagner during the Civil War, some 37 years after the fact.
1929 - The first all-talkie Mickey Mouse cartoon, The Karnival Kid, is released.
1934 - Notorious folk heroes/bank robbers/FBI most wanted/eventual 1960’s movie anti-heroes, Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow are ambushed and murdered on a desolate road near Bienville Parish, Louisiana by a posse of four Texas and three Louisiana police officers.
1958 - Mao Tse Tung starts his "Great Leap Forward" movement in China.
1960 - Israel’s Prime Minister, David Ben-Gurion announces that Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann has been captured. Eichmann will be executed two years later on June 1, 1962.
1960 - "Cathy's Clown" by the Everly Brothers topped the pop-charts and will stay there for 5 weeks.
1966 - The Beatles release their eleventh single “Paperback Writer;” it will go to Number One everywhere in the world, even Canada.
1968 - Not that it was a good idea, but the Beatles open their second Apple Boutique at 161 New Kings Road in London.
1971 - And though I don’t believe this because I saw them in about 1977 when I really wasn’t old enough to get into the Whisky -A-Go-Go, the legendary rock group, Iron Butterfly -- creators of the 17:05 opus “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida,” disbands.

Continue reading...

Mickey Mouse

Posted by Whitmore, May 15, 2008 06:15am | Post a Comment


Contrary to popular belief, Mickey Mouse’s film debut was not in Steamboat Willie which was released in November 1928. 80 years ago today, May 15, 1928, the world was introduced to Mickey and Minnie Mouse as they made their first appearance in the silent cartoon short Plane Crazy. In the cartoon Micky tries to become an aviator to impress Minnie-- Charles Lindbergh he is not. Plane Crazy was co-directed by Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks, with Iwerks working as the chief animator, a responsibility he would have for all of the early Disney cartoons released in 1928 and ‘29. Who knew by this modest, unassumingly innocent beginning Mickey Mouse would one day rule the world with an iron-fist in a velvet glove!

Bebe Barron 1925 - 2008

Posted by Whitmore, April 29, 2008 12:37pm | Post a Comment

One of the pioneers of electronic music and co-composer of the first all electronic film score, Bebe Barron, died this past April 20th of natural cases at the age of 82. She along with her husband, Louis Barron, who passed away in 1989, composed the sound effects / soundtrack to the 1956 sci-fi classic Forbidden Planet.

Charlotte May Wind (her husband nicknamed her Bebe) was born in Minneapolis in 1925. She earned a degree in music at the University of Minnesota then moved to New York, where she worked as a researcher for Time-Life. Soon after, she met and married Louis Barron in 1947. As a wedding gift the Barrons received a tape recorder and began delving into the world of musique concrete (music created by sounds other than musical instruments, often referred to as “real world” sounds). In 1948 Louis Barron was inspired by the book Cybernetics: Or, Control and Communication in the Animal and the Machine, by MIT mathematician Norbert Wiener. After studying Wiener’s equations, Louis began building electronic circuits to generate sounds. That combined with recorded tape, created a unique and otherworldly aural experience. After moving to Greenwich Village, the Barrons built a recording studio and became entrenched in New York’s burgeoning avant-garde scene. In their studio they recorded the likes of Aldous Huxley, Anais Nin, Henry Miller and Tennessee Williams reading their work; they also recorded and worked with many like-thinking composers such as John Cage, Morton Feldman, Earle Brown, and David Tudor. In addition, the Barrons scored their first soundtracks to several experimental short films by Ian Hugo, husband of Anais Nin.

Continue reading...
BACK  <<  1  2  3  >>  NEXT