Frances Margaret Anderson was born in the Australian city of Adelaide on February 10, 1897. From an early age she was drawn to the theatre. At seventeen, she made her stage debut at Sydney’s Theatre Royal. Continue reading
Louis Monta Bell was born in Washington D.C. on February 5, 1891. He began his career as a reporter for the Washington Herald during President Taft’s administration. Bell also appeared on the stage, and in a Charlie Chaplin short, The Adventurer (1917.) In 1923, he played another bit part in The Pilgrim, and served as story editor on Chaplin’s first serious feature, A Woman of Paris. Continue reading
Samuel Henry Harris was born in New York City on February 3, 1872. His early jobs ranged from selling cough drops to keeping the Irish storyteller and vaudevillian, John W. Kelly, out of saloon bars during a troubled stint at Miner’s Bowery Theatre. He also worked as a boxing promoter, managing prize-fighter Terry McGovern. By the age of twenty-two, Harris owned six racehorses. Continue reading
A Gentleman's Mother, Bette Davis, Clifton Webb, Her Cardboard Lover, Jeanne Eagels, Jeanne Eagels: A Life Revealed, Leslie Howard, Martin Brown, Rain, Sadie Thompson, Tallulah Bankhead, The Exciters, W. Somerset Maugham
Tallulah Brockman Bankhead was born in Huntsville, Alabama on January 31, 1902. Her mother, Adelaide, died of blood poisoning three weeks after Tallulah’s birth. Her father William, a prominent Democrat, suffered bouts of alcoholism and depression, and Tallulah was largely raised by her grandmother. Continue reading
William Somerset Maugham was born in Paris on January 25, 1874, the fourth of six children. His father was a lawyer for the British Embassy. His mother died of tuberculosis when he was eight, and when his father passed away two years later, Maugham was sent to live with his uncle in England. Continue reading
On the day I was born, T. Rex’s ‘Metal Guru’ was the number one single in Britain; and David Bowie’s fifth album, The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars, would be released two days later. ‘Space Oddity’ was a radio constant during my childhood, but I wasn’t truly aware of Bowie until ‘Ashes to Ashes’ and Let’s Dance.
So I missed his Seventies heyday, but songs like ‘Blue Jean’ and ‘Absolute Beginners’ lit up my adolescence. I bought my first Bowie album, Ziggy Stardust, on vinyl from Beano’s in Croydon, and later Hunky Dory on tape. Then at last, a Best Of Bowie. Everyone reads his music differently, but for me it’s about remaining sensitive in an often brutal world.
A few years ago, I finally got to see The Man Who Fell to Earth. And in 2013, when it seemed he had gone for good, came ‘Where Are We Now?’ For all that glacial beauty, David Bowie was rich in love and wisdom; and for a brief moment, he made each of us feel less alone.
Marion Cecilia Douras was born in Brooklyn on January 3, 1897, the youngest daughter of Judge Bernard Douras. She left school to model for commercial illustrators, and made her Broadway debut as ‘Marion Davies’ in Chin Chin (1914.) Continue reading
As 2015 draws to a close – and this blog approaches her eighth birthday – I’ve been reflecting on a milestone year: from the reissue of The Mmm Girl and my inclusion in Fan Phenomena: Marilyn Monroe, to the publication of Jeanne Eagels: A Life Revealed, and my continuing association with Art Decades magazine.
But before I head back to the salt mines, I’d like to thank all my readers for supporting me. Wishing you all a wonderful 2016: and don’t forget to check out my annual picks in music, books, movies and TV.
Clemence Randolph, Dorothy Parker, H.L. Mencken, Jeanne Eagels, Jeanne Eagels: A Life Revealed, John Colton, John D. Willams, Man Woman and Sin, Rain, Sadie Thompson, Saint Wench, Sam H. Harris, The Exciters, The Sainted Wench, W. Somerset Maugham
John Colton was born in Minneapolis on December 31, 1887. He spent his first fourteen years in Japan, where his English father was a diplomat. This early experience of colonial life in the Far East would inspire his writing. Continue reading
This latest edition also includes a twenty-page interview with Miranda Lee Richards, and two photo-shoots inspired by her music; a look back at Elvis Presley’s last movie, Change of Habit, and 10cc’s How Dare You; and Marcelline Block’s interviews with author Mikita Brottman, and filmmaker Zach Weintraub.
A portion of this issue’s proceeds will go to Planned Parenthood. If you’d like to subscribe to Art Decades, click here.