Monday, November 22, 2021

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! Take time to be thankful for all of your blessings, love on your family and friends, and enjoy your Thanksgiving dinner! I'm off from blogging this week but will be back next Monday. 

Monday, November 15, 2021

Aliens and Race Relations

There's been a lot of talk lately about UFOs and extraterrestrials, so today I thought I'd republish a post from a few years back.

I'd never heard of Betty and Barney Hill, but if you're familiar with UFO trivia, you might know of them.  This article is from ListVerse.


Betty and Barney Hill were from Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Barney worked for the post office and Betty was a social worker. The Hills were also members of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and community leaders. On the night of September19th, 1961, Betty and Barney Hill were heading back from a vacation in Southern Canada to their home in New England. They claimed to have observed a bright light in the sky that appeared to be following them. They arrived home at about 3 am and realized (later, when it was pointed out to them) that they had lost about 2 hours of time. Two weeks later Betty began having nightmares. In her nightmares, she described being taken aboard an alien spacecraft and then having medical experiments performed on her. Betty and Barney then decided to undergo hypnosis.  
In separate sessions, they described some similar experiences of being taken on board an alien spacecraft. Betty said she was shown a star map which she was able to memorize and reproduce later, which some believe is showing Zeta Reticuli as the aliens’ home. Under Barneys hypnotic session he said a cup-like device was placed over his genitals and thought that a sperm sample was taken. He also said he heard them speaking in a mumbling language that he did not understand. The UFO incident was distracting and embarrassing for Barney Hill. He feared that the tabloid publicity would tarnish his battle for equality and dignity. The Hills eventually went back to their regular lives but were always willing to discuss the UFO encounter with friends and UFO researchers. The release of the book “Interrupted Journey” in the mid-1960s, and a movie called The UFO Incident, starring James Earl Jones and Estelle Parsons turned Betty and Barney Hill into the world’s most famous UFO “abductees.”

Interesting Fact: Some psychiatrists suggested later that the supposed abduction was a hallucination brought on by the stress of being an interracial couple in early 60s. Betty discounted this suggestion, saying that her relationship with Barney was happy, and their interracial marriage caused no notable problems with their friends or family. Barney died of a cerebral hemorrhage in 1969, and Betty died of cancer in 2004. Many of Betty Hill’s notes, tapes and other items have been placed in a permanent collection at the library of the University of New Hampshire, her alma mater.

Had you ever heard of Betty and Barney Hill, or have you ever known anyone who claims to have been abducted by aliens?  Thanks for visiting and have a great week!

Monday, November 8, 2021

The Sad Life of Audrey Munson


Audrey Munson
I'm a history buff and I love research, so whenever I read something interesting in a novel that's based on fact, I enjoy looking it up so I can read more.

Today I'm recycling a post from a few years back that I wrote after learning about Audrey Munson. She's mentioned in Linda Fairstein's Hell Gate, a novel filled with all kinds of New York City history and trivia.

The tragic life of this model and silent screen actress intrigued me, so I had to do a little research on my own to satisfy my curiosity.

Audrey Munson (June 8, 1891 – February 20, 1996) rose to fame prior to World War I.  She was  known as "Miss Manhattan," "the Exposition Girl," and "American Venus." She was the model or inspiration for more than 15 statues in New York City.

Fountain of the Setting Sun
Ms. Munson, who posed nude and clothed, was eventually involved in a scandal. While Munson lived in a rooming house, the married owner of the house fell in love with her.  To be with Muson, he killed his wife.  Munson was never interested in this man, who was eventually convicted of murder, but the scandal ruined her career.

Munson began suffering from schizophrenia, and at age 39 was committed to a mental institution.  She remained there for the rest of her life, dying at age 104.

As many monuments and statues that Audrey Munson posed for, it's ironic that she herself, is buried in an unmarked grave.

Do you have some interesting trivia you'd like to share that you've found in fiction?

Monday, November 1, 2021

Lost Boundaries

With the release of Rebecca Hall's motion picture Passing, the subject of passing is now in the limelight. If you are unfamiliar with he term, passing is a process by which an individual crosses over from one culture or community into another undetected

When I was doing research on my novel Revelation, which deals with this painful topic, I stumbled upon the movie Lost Boundaries.  This motion  picture is based on the book by William Lindsay White that tells the true story of Dr. Albert Chandler Johnston, a graduate of Rush Medical College. Johnston's family passed for white while living in New Hampshire. In the movie, Mel Ferrer plays Johnston's character as Scott Carter. A brief synopsis from FilmGordon follows below:
[After graduating] from medical school, Scott Carter, a fair-skinned African American, marries Marsha Mitchell and moves to Georgia. When he arrives at the black clinic in Georgia, he discovers that the job must inconveniently go to a Southerner. Discussions between two nurses at this clinic suggest that Scott’s light skin may have some bearing on the decision not to hire him.  
Defeated but not conquered, Scott returns to Massachusetts to live with his in-laws until he can get employment. He tries unsuccessfully to obtain employment as an African American. Because Marsha is pregnant, Scott decides to take a job at Portsmouth Hospital, but he reluctantly does so as a white man. While there, he manages to save the life of Dr. Bracket, who encourages him to take a postion in Keenham, New Hampshire.  
Scott decides to continue “passing” for white. In Keenham, Dr. Scott Carter proves to be quite a success for the town. For twenty years, Dr. and Mrs. Carter live peacefully in Keenham with son, Howard and daughter, Shelley. All
goes well until Scott and Howard decide to enter the military during World War II. When Scott applies for officer status with the Navy, an investigation reveals his black heritage, and he is barred from receiving a commission.

I'll be ordering a copy of the film and the book to help with my continuing research. Click here for more on Dr. Johnston.

This is a fascinating story I wasn't familiar with. Were you? Thanks for visiting and have a great week!

Monday, October 25, 2021

Francine Everett

My Goodreads friend Damon Evans knows I love old movies and asked if I'd ever heard of the African American actress Francine Everett. I had not. So thank you, Damon, for bringing her to my attention. She was a knockout and refused to be cast in racially demeaning roles as domestics in Hollywood films of the 1930s and and '40s. Instead, she was a star of Race Films, films made by black studios that catered to black audiences. Here's more from Wikipedia:

She was born Franciene Williamson in Louisburg, North Carolina in 1915, and her father Noah was a tailor. She married Booker Everett in 1933 when she was 18. This marriage was dissolved, and she later married actor Rex Ingram. They divorced three years later in 1939. She studied and acted with the Federal Theater in Harlem, which was sponsored by the Works Progress Administration.

Among Everett's starring roles were the films Paradise in Harlem (1939), Keep Punching (1939) co-starring Canada Lee and Dooley Wilson, Big Timers (1945) co-starring Moms Mabley and Stepin Fetchit, Tall, Tan and Terrific (1946) with Mantan Moreland and Dots Johnson, and Dirty Gertie from Harlem U.S.A. (1946), directed by Spencer Williams.

Everett appeared as a singer in more than 50 short musical films that were produced in the 1940s, notably Ebony Parade (1947), which co-starred Dorothy Dandridge, Cab Calloway and the Count Basie band. She also worked as a model in print advertisements for clothing and cosmetics.
Everett's association with Hollywood was brief and desultory. She first arrived in Hollywood in the mid-1930s with husband Rex Ingram, but refused to accept racially demeaning stereotypical roles. After starring in Dirty Gertie from Harlem U.S.A., she had bit parts in two Hollywood films: Lost Boundaries (1949) and Sidney Poitier's first film, No Way Out (1950).

At the height of her career, Everett was dubbed "the most beautiful woman in Harlem" by columnist Billy Rowe in The Amsterdam News, a black-owned newspaper in New York City. Looking back at her career, filmmaker William Greaves commented: "She would have been a superstar in Hollywood were it not for the apartheid climate in America and the movie industry at the time."

To find out more about Francine Everett, click here. To see her perform, check out Dirty Gertie From Harlem USA and "If This Isn't Love."

Had you ever heard of Francine Everett? Thanks for visiting and have a great week!

Monday, October 18, 2021

Prosthetic Masks

Not long ago, I stumbled upon a topic that broke my heart.  Halloween is coming up and lots of kids will be wearing masks as a part of their costumes. I remember those days and loved disguising myself behind a mask.

But what if you actually needed a mask to be seen in public, or just by your family and friends?  That’s the dilemma several soldiers from WW I faced as they returned from the trenches.

WW I took the lives of more than 9 million soldiers, but many returned home blinded or with missing limbs.  Then there were those who suffered the only injury in the UK that provided a full pension, facial disfigurement.

Medicine had advanced by the time of the outbreak of WW I.  Lives could be saved, but saving faces destroyed by trench warfare was a difficult undertaking.

According to Olga Khazan in The Atlantic, "The iconic trenches of World War I were themselves an "unforeseen enemy.” The unceasing machine-gun fire led to a fate that was, at the time, almost as bad as death. Western front soldiers who popped their heads above their trenches would come back down with a nose, jaw, or even an entire face missing." 

The most advanced cosmetic surgery during this time was fixing a cleft lip. So doctors were faced with severe challenges.

There were some crude successes of facial reconstruction, but the task of repairing a broken face beyond repair was left the creation of a mask to cover the injuries.

There was a woman sculptor named Anna Coleman Ladd that made some of the best masks. She, along with artist Francis Derwent Wood, helped hundreds of disfigured veterans re-adjust to society.
Ladd would take plaster casts of a soldier's face and try to re-create an identical cheekbone or eye-socket on the opposite side. Then, using copper, she’d create a full or partial mask.  Then it would be painted to match the skin. The entire mask weighed only about half a pound, and was either hung from a set spectacles or tied with strings to the veteran’s head.

In France alone, 3000 soldiers would have required these masks, but Ladd only made 185.
The masks were not long lasting and would fall apart after only a few years.  But it’s assumed that the men who wore them, wore them to the grave, and none of those masks are in existence today.

There are some excellent articles on the prosthetic masks of WW I (such as this one from Smithsonian), but the photographs included on the subject are not for the faint of heart.  So if you should do some looking, just be prepared.

Is this something you'd ever heard of? Thanks for visiting and have a great week!

Monday, October 11, 2021

Love is Color Blind But Our Families Weren't

I enjoy interracial love stories, so I thought I'd post this touching one from The UK Daily Mail :

Mary, 81, is married to Jake, 86, and lives in Solihull in the West Midlands. They have no children. Mary is a former deputy head teacher, and Jake worked for the post office before retiring. Mary is white and Jake is black, originally from Trinidad.

MARY SAYS: When I told my father I was going to marry Jake he said, ‘If you marry that man you will never set foot in this house again.’

He was horrified that I could contemplate marrying a black man, and I soon learned that most people felt the same way. The first years of our marriage living in Birmingham were hell — I cried every day, and barely ate. No one would speak to us, we couldn’t find anywhere to live because no one would rent to a black man, and we had no money.


Love against the odds: Mary's father threw her out when she decided to marry Jake in 1948, left. Decades on, they couldn't be happier together

People would point at us in the street. Then I gave birth to a stillborn son at eight months. It wasn’t related to the stress I was under but it broke my heart, and we never had any more children.

Now it’s very hard to comprehend the prejudice we encountered, but you have to remember that there were hardly any black people in Britain in the Forties. I met Jake when he came over during the war from Trinidad, as part of the American forces stationed at the Burtonwood base near my home in Lancashire. We were at the same technical college. I was having typing and shorthand lessons and he’d been sent there for training by the Air Force. He was with a group of black friends and they called my friend and me over to talk. We didn’t even know they spoke English, but Jake and I got chatting. He quoted Shakespeare to me, which I loved.

A few weeks later we went for a picnic, but were spotted by a lady cycling past — two English girls with a group of black men was very shocking — and she reported me to my father, who banned me from seeing him again.

Jake returned to Trinidad, but we carried on writing to each other, and a few years later he returned to the UK to get better paid work.

He asked me to marry him, quite out of the blue, when I was only 19. My father threw me out, and I left with only one small suitcase to my name. No family came to our register office wedding in 1948.

But gradually life became easier. I got teaching jobs, ending up as a deputy head teacher. First Jake worked in a factory, then for the Post Office.

Slowly we made friends together, but it was so hard. I used to say to new friends: ‘Look, I have to tell you this before I invite you to my home — my husband is black.’

My father died when I was 30 and although we were reconciled by then, he never did approve of Jake.

Today we have been married for 63 years, and are still very much in love. I do not regret marrying him for an instant, despite all the pain we have suffered.

JAKE SAYS: I feel so fortunate to have met and married Mary, but it saddens me that we could not be accepted by society. Nowadays I say to young black people: ‘You have no idea what it used to be like.’

When I arrived in the UK I was subjected to abuse every day. Once I was on a bus and a man rubbed his hands on my neck and said: ‘I wanted to see if the dirt would come off.’

And back then you couldn’t work in an office — because a black man in an office with all the white girls wasn’t thought to be safe.

Any thoughts? Thanks for visiting and have a great week!

Originally posted 10/2/17

Monday, October 4, 2021

20 Writing Tips From Fiction Authors

 



For all the writers out there--published, aspiring and everything in between--here's a great article from iUniverse that I thought would be worth sharing!

Writing success boils down to hard work, imagination and passion—and then some more hard work. iUniverse Publishing fires up your creative spirit with 20 writing tips from 12 bestselling fiction authors.

Use these tips as an inspirational guide—or better yet, print a copy to put on your desk, home office, refrigerator door, or somewhere else noticeable so you can be constantly reminded not to let your story ideas wither away by putting off your writing.

Tip1: "My first rule was given to me by TH White, author of The Sword in the Stone and other Arthurian fantasies and was: Read. Read everything you can lay hands on. I always advise people who want to write a fantasy or science fiction or romance to stop reading everything in those genres and start reading everything else from Bunyan to Byatt." — Michael Moorcock

Tip 2: "Protect the time and space in which you write. Keep everybody away from it, even the people who are most important to you." — Zadie Smith

Tip 3: "Introduce your main characters and themes in the first third of your novel. If you are writing a plot-driven genre novel make sure all your major themes/plot elements are introduced in the first third, which you can call the introduction. Develop your themes and characters in your second third, the development. Resolve your themes, mysteries and so on in the final third, the resolution." — Michael Moorcock

Tip 4: "In the planning stage of a book, don't plan the ending. It has to be earned by all that will go before it." — Rose Tremain

Tip 5: "Always carry a note-book. And I mean always. The short-term memory only retains information for three minutes; unless it is committed to paper you can lose an idea for ever." — Will Self

Tip 6: "It's doubtful that anyone with an internet connection at his workplace is writing good fiction." — Jonathan Franzen
"Work on a computer that is disconnected from the internet." — Zadie Smith

Tip 7: "Interesting verbs are seldom very interesting." — Jonathan Franzen

Tip 8: "Read it aloud to yourself because that's the only way to be sure the rhythms of the sentences are OK (prose rhythms are too complex and subtle to be thought out—they can be got right only by ear)." — Diana Athill

Tip 9: "Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass." – Anton Chekhov

Tip 10: "Listen to the criticisms and preferences of your trusted 'first readers.'" — Rose Tremain

Tip 11: "Fiction that isn't an author's personal adventure into the frightening or the unknown isn't worth writing for anything but money." — Jonathan Franzen

Tip 12: "Don't panic. Midway through writing a novel, I have regularly experienced moments of bowel-curdling terror, as I contemplate the drivel on the screen before me and see beyond it, in quick succession, the derisive reviews, the friends' embarrassment, the failing career, the dwindling income, the repossessed house, the divorce . . . Working doggedly on through crises like these, however, has always got me there in the end. Leaving the desk for a while can help. Talking the problem through can help me recall what I was trying to achieve before I got stuck. Going for a long walk almost always gets me thinking about my manuscript in a slightly new way. And if all else fails, there's prayer. St Francis de Sales, the patron saint of writers, has often helped me out in a crisis. If you want to spread your net more widely, you could try appealing to Calliope, the muse of epic poetry, too." — Sarah Waters

Tip 13: "The writing life is essentially one of solitary confinement – if you can't deal with this you needn't apply." — Will Self

Tip 14: "Be your own editor/critic. Sympathetic but merciless!" — Joyce Carol Oates

Tip 15: "The reader is a friend, not an adversary, not a spectator." — Jonathan Franzen

Tip 16: "Keep your exclamation points under control. You are allowed no more than two or three per 100,000 words of prose. If you have the knack of playing with exclaimers the way Tom Wolfe does, you can throw them in by the handful." —Elmore Leonard

Tip 17: "Remember: when people tell you something's wrong or doesn't work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong." — Neil Gaiman

Tip 18: "You know that sickening feeling of inadequacy and over-exposure you feel when you look upon your own empurpled prose? Relax into the awareness that this ghastly sensation will never, ever leave you, no matter how successful and publicly lauded you become. It is intrinsic to the real business of writing and should be cherished." — Will Self

Tip 19: "The main rule of writing is that if you do it with enough assurance and confidence, you're allowed to do whatever you like. (That may be a rule for life as well as for writing. But it's definitely true for writing.) So write your story as it needs to be written. Write it honestly, and tell it as best you can. I'm not sure that there are any other rules. Not ones that matter." — Neil Gaiman

Tip 20: "The nearest I have to a rule is a Post-it on the wall in front of my desk saying ‘Faire et se taire’ (Flaubert), which I translate for myself as ‘Shut up and get on with it.’" — Helen Simpson

Even famous authors sometimes have a tough time with writing; they also go through periods of self-doubt. Despite this, they always manage to come up with the goods. So take a lesson from them and stop putting off your writing plans and get started on your publishing journey today.

There has never been a better time than now to realize your dream of becoming a published author. Let your voice be heard and let your story be told. Never let your passion for writing wane. 

I think all of these tips are wonderful, but 4, 5 and 9 are my favorites. Which of these do you like best? Thanks for visiting and have a great week!

Monday, September 27, 2021

The Real Ty Cobb

Baseball season is winding down. I'm not a big fan of the game, but I do enjoy learning about its history and the life stories of some of the greats.

So what comes to your mind when you hear the name Ty Cobb? I'm hardly an expert on baseball history or trivia, but when I hear that name, I think rotten guy/racist. Remember the reference made to him in Field of Dreams? Cobb wasn't invited to the ghostly cornfield reunion of old time ballplayers because, according to the Shoeless Joe Jackson character, "No one liked liked that son of a bitch."

Before I go on, if you've never heard of Ty Cobb, here's a snippet of who he was from Wikipedia:

Tyrus Raymond "Ty" Cobb (December 18, 1886 – July 17, 1961), nicknamed "The Georgia Peach", was an American Major League Baseball (MLB) outfielder. He was born in rural Narrows, Georgia. Cobb spent 22 seasons with the Detroit Tigers, the last six as the team's player-manager, and finished his career with the Philadelphia Athletics. In 1936 Cobb received the most votes of any player on the inaugural Baseball Hall of Fame ballot, receiving 222 out of a possible 226 votes (98.2%); no other player received a higher percentage of votes until 1992. In 1999,editors at The Sporting News ranked Ty Cobb 3rd on their list of "Baseball's 100 Greatest Players"

Rumors have abounded about Cobb being a murderer, racist and all around bad guy, but author Charles Leershen has finally set the record straight with his book, Ty Cobb: A Terrible Beauty. 


Cobb's memory was bastardized soon after his death by a sports writer named Al Stump, who wrote several sensationalized articles and books about Cobb. When Leershen dug beyond the writings of Stump, he discovered the truth about this extraordinary ballplayer.

I'll only address the issue of racism in today's post, and this quote is from a speech Leershen presented during a program at Hillsdale College on "Sports and Character":

How could someone born in Georgia in 1886 not be a racist? What I found...is that Cobb was descended from a long line of abolitionists. His great-grandfather was a minister who preached against slavery and was run out of town for it. His grandfather refused to fight in the Confederate army because of the slavery issue. And his father was an educator and state senator who spoke up for his black constituents and is known to have once broken up a lynch mob.


Cobb himself was never asked about segregation until 1952, when the Texas league was integrating, and Sporting News asked him what he thought. "The Negro should be accepted wholeheartedly and not grudgingly," he said. "The Negro has the right to play professional baseball and whose [sic] to say he has not?" By that time he had attended many Negro league games, sometimes throwing out the first ball and often sitting in the dugout with the players. He is quoted as saying that Willie Mays was the only modern-day player he'd pay to see and that Roy Campanella was the ballplayer that reminded him most of himself. 

I was quite surprised to read that! For more on the real Ty Cobb, check out Charles Leershen's Ty Cobb: A Terrible Beauty. 

Is this news to you about Ty Cobb? Thanks for visiting and have a great week! 

Monday, September 13, 2021

Warrior Writing: Strategic Change

"Act like a man of thought. Think like a man of action." Thomas Mann

Several years ago, I attended New York Times bestselling author Bob Mayer's "Warrior Writing" workshop and it left quite an impression.

I learned several valuable lessons, but the most important one for me focused on change.

What holds you back? YOU! And you can change you. According to Bob, if you aren't where you want to be, you must change. We've all come to a crossroads when we realize that in order to make something happen in our careers, some type of change must occur.

We may not like the change. We'll struggle with it, and perhaps deny that we have to change at all. Then we'll experience anger as we realize that the change is for the best. We'll bargain with ourselves about the best way to change, hoping there will be an easy way, then become depressed when reality says easy isn't best. If we're wise, we'll accept the change and work hard for it.

Change isn't just thinking differently, although this is the first step. And think about this: To make is externally motivated. To become is internally motivated. The successful become.

All of us can change. But we need to show change, not just talk about it. And change requires three things to happen:

  • A Moment of Enlightenment
  • Making a Decision
  • Implementing a Sustained Action
The five stages of change include:
  • Denial
  • Anger
  • Bargaining
  • Depression
  • Acceptance
Moment of Enlightenment (MOE): This happens when you experience something never experienced before. Or, when you experience something you have experienced, but it affects you differently than ever before. Think light bulb going on above head.
By itself, the MOE is not change, just a momentary awareness. Denial often blocks MOEs. Anger stops MOEs when it is actually an indicator of an MOE. And bargaining dilutes MOEs.
Decision: Because of the Moment of Enlightenment, a decision is made. But it may not be a good decision. So you're either stuck with the decision (externally imposed change) or you stick with the decision (internally motivated change). By itself, a decision isn't change, but just a fleeting commitment. Bargaining can dilute a decision, and depression can cause you to give up a decision all together.
Sustained Action: Because of the decision, behavior is changed. The changed behavior is sustained long enough to become a habit. In the military, this is called training. Sustained action leads to change. Sliding back on the five stages of change stops this. Acceptance isn't easy because your reality has changed!
Time to expand your comfort zone, by going into your courage zone. Courage is needed on the path to changing you and developing your self confidence!
As mentioned earlier, Bob's workshop was awesome! It was also inspiring and encouraging! Be sure to check out Bob's "Who Dares Wins" homepage at http://www.bobmayer.org/ so you can become a warrior writer!

Are you ready for change?

Thanks for visiting and have a great week! 

Monday, August 30, 2021

The Best of Mae West

August is certainly a popular month for birthdays! My husband and I share August birthdays, and the special thing about August birthdays is that nothing happens during that month them.

January has New Year's, February has Valentine's, March has St. Patrick's Day and/or Easter, April has April Fool's Day and/or Easter, May has Mother's Day and Memorial Day, June has Father's Day, July has the 4th, September has Labor Day, October has Halloween, November has Thanksgiving, and December has Christmas. August has nothing but birthdays to celebrate!

Speaking of which, I'm sure actress Mae West celebrated each of her August birthday's in style. She was quite a character, and today I'm sharing some of her funniest lines!

In case you've never heard of Mae West, Wikipedia says:
Mary Jane "Mae" West (August 17, 1893 – November 22, 1980) was an American actress, singer, playwright, screenwriter, comedian and sex symbol whose entertainment career spanned seven decades.
Known for her lighthearted bawdy double entendres, and breezy sexual independence, West made a name for herself in vaudeville and on the stage in New York City before moving to Hollywood to become a comedian, actress, and writer in the motion picture industry, as well as on radio and television. For her contributions to American cinema, thevAmerican Film Institute named West 15th among the greatest female stars of classic American cinema.
One of the more controversial movie stars of her day, West encountered many problems, especially censorship. She bucked the system, making comedy out of prudish conventional mores, and the Depression Era audience admired her for it. 

When her cinematic career ended, she wrote books, plays, and continued to perform in Las Vegas, in the United Kingdom, and on radio and television, and to record rock and roll albums. Asked about the various efforts to impede her career, West replied: "I believe in censorship. I made a fortune out of it."  


Most of Mae's quotes are rather provocative, but quite funny, nonetheless. For a more complete list, check out Quotilicious. Now, time for a good laugh!

"Between two evils, I always pick the one I never tried before."
"Anything worth doing is worth doing slowly."
"He’s the kind of man a woman would have to marry to get rid of."
"I believe that it’s better to be looked over than it is to be overlooked."
"One and one is two, and two and two is four, and five will get you ten if you know how to work it."
"Don’t keep a man guessing too long – he’s sure to find the answer somewhere else."
"Opportunity knocks for every man, but you have to give a woman a ring."
"A dame that knows the ropes isn’t likely to get tied up."
"Give a man a free hand and he’ll run it all over you."
"A woman in love can’t be reasonable – or she probably wouldn’t be in love."
"A man has one hundred dollars and you leave him with two dollars, that’s subtraction."
"When women go wrong, men go right after them."

Do you have a favorite Mae West quote that I didn't include? Thanks for visiting and have a great week! 

Monday, August 23, 2021

White Heat

My son told me there's some intense rivalry going on between two malicious gangs. They've challenged each other threatening, "You can either roll up or hole up!" That doesn't sound too scary. Turns out my son was pulling my leg. The gangs involved were cinnamon rolls and doughnuts. Right...

Well anyway, the mention of gangs made me think about those old gangster movies, and White Heat is my favorite! If you love old movies, I'm sure you've seen it. Even if you're not a fan of the gangster film genre, this one is worth watching! Here's the 1949 movie review from "The New York Times" written by Bosley Crowther below:


Warner Brothers weren't kidding when they put the title "White Heat" on the new James Cagney picture, which came to the Strand yesterday. They might have gone several points higher in the verbal caloric scale and still have understated the thermal intensity of this film. For the simple fact is that Mr. Cagney has made his return to a gangster role in one of the most explosive pictures that he or anyone has ever played.


If that is inviting information to the cohorts of thriller fans, whose eagerness this reviewer can readily understand, let us soberly warn that "White Heat" is also a cruelly vicious film and that its impact upon the emotions of the unstable or impressionable is incalculable. That is an observation which might fairly be borne in mind by those who would exercise caution in supporting such matter on the screen.

For there is no blinking the obvious: the Warners have pulled all the stops in making this picture the acme of the gangster-prison film. They have crammed it with criminal complications—some of them old, some of them glittering new—pictured to technical perfection in a crisp documentary style. And Mr. Cagney has played it in a brilliantly graphic way, matching the pictorial vigor of his famous "Public Enemy" job.

Indeed, as the ruthless gang-leader in this furious and frightening account of train-robbery, prison-break, gang war and gun fighting with the police, Mr. Cagney achieves the fascination of a brilliant bull-fighter at work, deftly engaged in the business of doing violence with economy and grace. His movements are supple and electric, his words are as swift and sharp as swords and his whole manner carries the conviction of confidence, courage and power.

If you think Mr. Cagney looked brutal when he punched Mae Clark in the face with a ripe grapefruit in "Public Enemy," you should see the sweet and loving things he does to handsome Virginia Mayo, who plays his low-grade wife in this film. Or you should scan the exquisite indifference with which he "lets a little air" into the trunk compartment of an auto in which is locked a treacherous "friend."

And Mr. Cagney's performance is not the only one in this film. Director Raoul Walsh has gathered vivid acting from his whole cast. Miss Mayo, in fact, is excellent as the gangster's disloyal spouse—brassy, voluptuous and stupid to just the right degree. And Edmund O'Brien does a slick job as a Treasury Department T-man who gets next to the gang-boss in prison and works into a place of favor in his mob. Steve Cochran is ugly as an outlaw, John Archer is stout as a Treasury sleuth and Margaret Wycherly is darkly invidious as the gangster's beloved old "ma."

Perhaps her inclusion in the story is its weakest and most suspected point, for the notion of Mr. Cagney being a "mama's boy" is slightly remote. And this motivation for his cruelty, as well as for his frequent howling fits, is convenient, perhaps, for novel action but not entirely convincing as truth.

However, impeccable veracity is not the first purpose of this film. It was made to excite and amuse people. And that it most certainly does.

I love this movie and reading that "NY Times" review makes me want to see it again soon! Have you ever seen White Heat? If you love a gritty crime drama, you'll really enjoy this one!

Thanks for visiting and have a great week!

Monday, August 16, 2021

Mildred Washington: A Life Cut Short

If you're like me, you've probably never heard of Mildred Washington. As I was looking for something to blog about this week, I stumbled upon her name. Check out the article below from IMBd.com:

The name Mildred Washington isn't remembered because she appeared in less than 15 films in only small parts. But her stage presence, finesse, beauty and vivacious personality weren't small. Mildred Washington was a popular Black actress and dancer in the 1920s and 1930s. She began on the stage appearing in musicals for many years and later conquered California nightclubs and theaters becoming a full-fledged entertainer who was called the sensation of the West. 


She was headliner and dance director for many years at the legendary Sebastian's Cotton Club. Mildred was a skilled dancer who knew how to wow a crowd by amazing them with her dancing ability and lively stage presence. On the side, she appeared in Hollywood films because it was her dream to be in movies. 

In Hollywood, Mildred played the role of maid in pre-code era films. This meant she wasn't forced to be demeaned or stereotyped. In the pre-code era there were no rules, so Blacks were actually a part of the film, not just the maid or servant. Mildred added a sense of humor, spark, and simply glowed. On screen, she educated her white employers on life, and lifted their spirits when they were feeling down. Beautiful, scintillating and engaging, Mildred often stole scenes from the leading white players. 


Hearts in Dixie was one of the first black films made in Hollywood in which Mildred starred.  She was said to have given an excellent performance, but sadly the film is lost. Her best role was in Torch Singer, starring Claudette Colbert. She played a maid/confidante to Colbert.  

Mildred was a well educated and cultured woman who graduated from Los Angeles High School as valedictorian. She attended the University of California at Los Angeles for two years and also studied at Columbia University. In addition, she was fluent in French and Spanish. Off screen she lived well and dabbled in real estate.


By 1933, Mildred was on her way to becoming a full-time actress as studio heads were satisfied with her previous work and beauty. But it was her untimely death that stalled her escalating career. During a major earthquake in the spring of 1933, Mildred developed appendicitis after she fell running for cover from Grauman's Chinese Theatre. Her death was caused by peritonitis following appendicitis. She died on a Thursday afternoon at the White Memorial Hospital during surgery. She was 28 years old. Her funeral was a star-studded affair with many black and white stage and screen stars in attendance.


She sounds like an amazing lady and I'd love to see some of her films! Sad she died so young. Had you ever heard of Mildred Washington? Thanks for visiting and have a great week! 

Monday, August 9, 2021

Esther Williams: Fighter, Champion, Star


Reposting an article from a few years back. Yesterday was my birthday, and I happen to share it movie star Esther Williams! If you missed this article the first time around, hope you enjoy it now.

One of my favorite stars from Hollywood's Golden Era was the beautiful Esther Williams (August 8, 1921-June 6, 2013), a swimming star of several MGM movies known as Aqua Musicals.

Something you may not know is that Ms. Williams was a proponent of civil rights--keep reading to see how!

I love watching anything filmed underwater, and seeing Esther Williams swim in those pictures is amazing and a real treat.  If you've never heard of Esther Williams, check out this video to see what I mean!

Prior to becoming a movie star, Esther Williams set multiple national and regional swimming records while part of the Los  Angeles Athletic Club swim team during her teens.  She had wanted to compete in the 1940 Summer Olympics, but couldn't  because of the outbreak of World War II.  At that point, Ms.Williams joined Billy Rose's Aquacade, where she spent five months swimming alongside Johnny Weissmuller, the Olympic swimmer and Tarzan star.

While performing at the Aquacade, Williams caught the eye of MGM talent scouts. After appearing in several small roles, Williams began making the Aqua Musicals, featuring elaborate numbers with synchronized swimming and diving.  From 1945 to 1949, Ms. Williams had at least one movie among the top 20 grossing films of the year.

Several years ago, I read her autobiography, The Million Dollar Mermaid.  If you do enjoy bios of the stars, don't pass this one up!  I was thoroughly impressed by her candor, zest for life and positive outlook.  She lived through experiences that might have been crushing to some of us, but made her a fighter, champion and star!

The most devastating time she endured was the repeated rape that began at age 13.  The older teen who abused  her had been charitably taken in by her family.  Orphaned and left on his own, this young man was an exceptional student and athlete.  Ms. Williams had lost an older brother years earlier who was the "golden child" of the family, and this orphaned youth filled the void in her parents' lives.

As a victim of abuse, Esther remained quiet for two years, fearing his threats.  Finally at age 15, she told her parents.  Their reaction was hurtful to her, and I almost cried when I read it.  They were in denial at first, but finally confronted him.  When he admitted the truth, her parents were more upset with him for not living up to their expectations of who'd they'd thought him to be, rather than the fact that he'd repeatedly raped their daughter for two years.

Esther listened from another room, completely demoralized.  Why hadn't her father been ready to kill the guy and kick him out?

The pool at the athletic club was her solace, and after hearing her parents' exchange with him, that's where she went.  But when she'd changed and was ready to swim, the rapist confronted her.  To his tearful apology she responded, "If you touch me again, I'll kick, I'll scream and I'll fight!" After this, he left her family's home and joined the armed services.

During Ms. Williams's days in  the Aquacade, she had fight off Johnny Weissmuller's aggressive advances and endure substandard treatment from bosses since she wouldn't "give in."

Prior to stardom, Ms. Williams survived an abusive marriage, and after stardom, the loss of her fortune through another husband's gambling.  She also lived through some near death experiences from swimming mishaps during filming.

But in addition to the painful times she shares, her story has some humorous ones as well.  Here's the civil rights anecdote I referenced earlier.  She was the mother of three children and employed the same African American babysitter for a number of years.

While performing in a live show, Ms.Williams wanted her babysitter and the sitter's husband to attend one of her performances.  However, the establishment where she'd be doing her show was segregated, but this didn't deter Ms.Williams, who thought the whole segregation system unfair.

She procured Middle Eastern garb for her guests and told the management that they were friends of hers from a royal family.  Needless to say, the sitter and her husband had the best seat in the house that night, and the last laugh!

Are you an Esther Williams fan?  Thanks for visiting!

Monday, August 2, 2021

Herb Jeffries: Just Who Did He Think He Was?

My friend Mary told me about Herb Jeffries not long ago, Hollywood's first black singing cowboy. I'd never heard of him, so I Googled him and found out some interesting facts. He was a fascinating character who took advantage of both sides of his ethnicity before that was in vogue, so to speak. Here's a bit about this singing cowboy from Wikipedia:
Herb Jeffries (September 24, 1913 – May 25, 2014) was an American actor of film and television and popular music and jazz singer-songwriter, known of his baritone voice, he was of African descent and was Hollywood's first singing black cowboy
Jeffries was born Umberto Alexander Valentino in Detroit to a white Irish mother who ran a rooming house. His father, whom he never knew, was of mixed Sicilian, French, Italian and Moorish roots. He also claimed that his paternal great-grandmother was an Ethiopian with the surname of Carey.
Firm evidence of Jeffries’s race and age is hard to come by, but census documents from 1920 described him as mulattoand listed his father as a black man named Howard Jeffrey. Jeffries himself, late in life, said that Howard Jeffrey was his stepfather. He said his biological father was Domenico Balentino, a Sicilian who died in World War I.
Jeffries once described himself in an interview as "three-eighths Negro", claiming pride in an African-American heritage during a period when many light-skinned black performers were attempting "to pass" as all-white in an effort to broaden their commercial appeal. In marked contrast, Jeffries used make-up to darken his skin in order to pursue a career in jazz and to be seen as employable by the leading all-black musical ensembles of the day.
Much later in his career, Jeffries identified as white for economic or highly personal reasons. Jet reported that Jeffries identified as White and stated his "real" name as "Herbert Jeffrey Ball" on an application in order to marry Tempest Storm in 1959. Jeffries told the reporter for Jet:
"... I'm not passing, I never have, I never will. For all these years I've been wavering about the color question on the blanks. Suddenly I decided to fill in the blank the way I look and feel.

Look at my blue eyes, look at my brown hair, look at my color. What color do you see?" he demand to know. "My mother was 100 per cent white," Jeffries said, his blue eyes glinting in the New York sun. "My father is Portuguese, Spanish, American Indian, and Negro. How in the hell can I identify myself as one race or another?"  

Have you ever heard of Herb Jeffries? Thanks for visiting and have a great week! 

Originally posted 1/25/16 

Monday, July 26, 2021

She Did it For A Million Dollars

A few years ago I listened to an audio book that detailed the love affair of Cleopatra and Julius Caesar. I learned quite a bit, but as I listened, I compared the facts with what I remembered about the 1963 film version starring Elizabeth Taylor. 

Cleopatra used to be shown on television periodically when I was a kid. I don't actually remember that much, but being into movie trivia, I do remember reading that Liz Taylor was paid one million dollars to play the role. That's nothing nowadays, but back then it was big deal. Liz cleaned up in more ways than one. Check out the facts below from Moviefone.com:

Joan Collins, Audrey Hepburn, and Susan Hayward were at first considered to play Cleopatra. After various issues, producer Walter Wanger called Taylor on the set of her latest film, "Suddenly, Last Summer" to offer her the role through her then husband Eddie Fisher. Joking, Taylor replied "Sure, tell him I'll do it for a million dollars." While such an offer was unheard of at the time, it was accepted, and in 1959 Taylor became the first Hollywood actor to receive $1 million for a single movie.

Taylor's contract stipulated that her $1 million salary be paid out as follows: $125,000 for 16 weeks work plus $50,000 a week afterwards plus 10 percent of the gross (with no break-even point). By the time production was restarted in Rome in 1961 she had earned over $2 million. After a lengthy $50 million lawsuit brought against Taylor and Burton by the studio in 1963 and a countersuit filed by Taylor, the studio finally settled with the actress in 1966. Her ultimate take for the film was $7 million.

Is any of this news to you? Thanks for visiting and have a great week!