I throw in this gratuitous poster from ought-five mostly to tell you that someone who can make me not notice Cameron Diaz is probably pretty darn remarkable. (Note: I never did get to see the film, though I did read the Jennifer Weiner novel on which it’s based.)
Toni Collette once told an interviewer: “I used to do things to get attention when I was little.” She was pretty effective, too — aged 11, she faked appendicitis so convincingly, the doctors actually removed her appendix. “My mother had hers taken out at the same age, so that’s how it entered my brain. And she told me that when the doctor presses in, that’s not when it hurts, it’s when the hand’s taken away. So I knew when to react.”
Oh, and she’s a darn good singer too. From 2007, her performance of “Look Up” at Live Earth:
The song comes from the album Beautiful Awkward Pictures by Toni Collette and the Finish; she’s married to drummer Dave Galafassi. And “beautiful awkward” fits, doesn’t it?
The fact that singer Bat for Lashes is of Pashtun descent and British and Pakistani ancestry doesn’t tell you anything about, well, for one thing, why she goes by “Bat for Lashes.” (It says “Natasha Khan” on her birth certificate.) Her second album, Two Suns (2009) yielded up her largest-selling single to date, “Daniel,” which she described at the time as “the most straightforward, naive and purposely simple song I’ve ever done.”
This video drew a nomination for Best Breakthrough Video at the 2009 VMAs, which may or may not say something about MTV.
In 2015, she started a side project with the band TOY and producer Dan Carey, under the name “Sexwitch”; they released an EP with tracks like “Helelyos,” which turns out to be, um, Iranian funk.
In 2016, she has an album called The Bride, a narrative by a young woman whose fiancé was killed in a car crash on the way to their wedding. “Joe’s Dream,” track two, was the third single.
I’m not quite sure what musical niche might easily accommodate Bat for Lashes, though my first thought was “a more subdued Siouxsie Sioux.”
In 2014, Russell Johnson — the Professor — died, leaving only two survivors from Gilligan’s Island: Ginger Grant (Tina Louise) and Mary Ann Summers (Dawn Wells). Back in the Sixties, Ginger vs. Mary Ann was as serious a topic for debate as Ford vs. Chevy, and it’s just about as persistent today. I declared for Mary Ann early on, mostly because she (along with the Professor) was given short shrift in the theme song: they mention “a movie star,” of course, but then it was “and the rest.” This was corrected in subsequent seasons, but I am not one to be forgiving in such matters.
That said, non-Gilligan-related photos of Dawn Wells, who was, after all, Miss Nevada in the 1960 Miss America pageant, are drowned out by three-hour tour guides and such. We try harder:
A bit of weirdness: in 1982-83, CBS aired something cartoonoid called Gilligan’s Planet, featuring all the original Gilligan cast except one. Tina Louise was otherwise occupied, and so Ginger was voiced by, um, Dawn Wells. Maybe the two of them were more interchangeable than we thought.
This is Harris Faulkner, a minor character in the fourth generation of Littlest Pet Shop toys by Hasbro:
And this is Harris Faulkner, Fox News Channel reporter and anchor for the last decade or so:
Now if you ask me, which the United States District Court for the State of New Jersey did not, there’s not a whole lot in the way of resemblance here. That said, after initially denying a Hasbro motion to dismiss, the court has dismissed Fox’s Faulkner’s lawsuit “with prejudice”: it cannot be refiled. Did the warring parties settle? We’ll probably never know.
That said, Harris Faulkner the newsperson does well with simple colors:
From Chris Walton’s interim report on the Chevrolet Camaro in Motor Trend’s long-term test fleet:
[W]e wonder if other 2016 Camaro owners have been treated to a reflection of the passenger’s seat when peering at the sizable color touchscreen. We love the proximity, its quick responses, the crisp graphics, and Apple CarPlay, but we wish we could somehow alter the angle of the screen or change its reflectivity. Front-seat passengers wearing miniskirts be warned.
Me, I just wonder where all these front-seat passengers wearing miniskirts might be.
How Marina Diamandis became “Marina and the Diamonds”:
“I created the name ‘Marina and the Diamonds’ [in 2005] and I never envisaged a character, pop project, band or solo artist. I saw a simple group made up of many people who had the same hearts. A space for people with similar ideals who could not fit in to life’s pre-made mold. I was terribly awkward for a long time! I really craved to be part of one thing because I never felt too connected to anybody and now I feel I have that all around me.”
Appropriate, I guess, for a singer/songwriter with a strong DIY ethos.
Thirty-one this week, Marina has recorded three albums, the most recent 2015’s Froot. I first noticed her in “Oh No!,” back in 2010.
Hard not to notice under those conditions, know what I mean?
“You can’t be a beacon,” warned Donna Fargo, “if your light don’t shine.” Not a whole lot of women in country music were writing their own stuff in the 1970s, and to their credit, neither of the major labels for which she recorded — Dot, then not yet on the wane, and Warner Bros., new to Nashville — pushed her (much) to record covers of other people’s songs. She’s probably best remembered for “The Happiest Girl in the Whole U.S.A.,” but at least some album-cover compilers thought of her as the leggiest girl in the land. This is the liner of the Dot Happiest Girl LP:
Five years later, the jacket of her Warners album Shame On Me:
And from the fall of 2016, a compilation of her Warner Bros. work on Varése Sarabande:
Just to put the emphasis back on Donna’s way with words, here’s a deep cut from the Happiest Girl LP which has so far escaped reissue:
I love that. “Society’s got us by the you-know-what” — but doesn’t it always?
All I know about this is that it came out in the middle Sixties, a period when, if I had a dollar to spare, I bought a phonograph record:
Then again, at that tender age I had yet to see even one issue of Tip Top magazine, a periodical that apparently did not concern itself with matters above the waist. (Their slogan: “Fron the tip of the toes to the top of the hose.”) Their editors would likely despair at our present-day barelegged era. And the mag itself has long since gone away: the address is currently occupied by B A Marble and Granite.
A few days back, reporting on a Russian movie, I said something to the effect that “the semi-invisible girl, however, was kind of cute.” It occurred to me that there should be a picture, and so we have one:
We may assume that this was before she gained any sort of mastery of her powers. And of course, I got curious as to what else Oksana Akinshina had been up to:
Inevitably, there would be magazine covers:
And there would be lots of movies; perhaps she’s best known in this country for The Bourne Supremacy (2004), in which she plays the daughter of one Vladimir Neski, whom Bourne had previously killed but forgot about.
Lest we get too serious, though, here’s a 2011 TV appearance in which Oksana sings “The Song of the White Elephant”:
“Immoral,” sniffed Nikita Khrushchev during a visit to the Can-Can set, his Soviet sensibilities evidently upset by the dancing of Juliet Prowse. My own thinking is that it was 1959, and therefore Khrushchev’s objections were probably good for a 20- to 30-percent boost in the American box office for Can-Can. (Today’s communists are inexplicably treated with less disdain.)
About this time, Prowse costarred with Elvis Presley in G. I. Blues.
Not quite so successful was Mona McCluskey, a 1965 NBC sitcom that starred Prowse as an actress married to an Air Force sergeant; the shtick was that they were going to live on his salary. Mona lasted 26 episodes and was not renewed.
And when the roles became fewer and farther between, well, there were always commercials:
In 1994, Juliet Prowse was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer; the disease went into remission for about a year, allowing her one final tour in Sugar Babies with the evergreen Mickey Rooney. But cancer, as it too often will, returned, and she died in September 1996, a few days short of her 60th birthday.
It was in fact raining on Saturday when I got the notification of a new box set:
Which gave me an excuse to spin Dinah Washington’s last pop hit, from 1963:
Quite apart from the pop stuff, Washington was known as a blues singer, and in that same year of 1963 she cut an album called Back to the Blues, some of which was actually bluesy. (See, for instance, the last track, “Nobody Knows the Way I Feel This Morning.”)
And sadly, in that same year of 1963, Dinah Washington, only thirty-nine, died, after having apparently dabbled in barbiturates. Meanwhile, in 2016, the rain has stopped for now.
If you’re a Certain Age, this may be the most famous female leg in (your) history:
As it happens, Anne Bancroft was only six years older than Dustin Hoffman, and she was apparently of two minds about The Graduate: it was one of her signature roles, but she worried that it overshadowed the rest of her body of work.
Not that you can overshadow this. From somewhere around 1983, when Bancroft’s doting spouse Mel Brooks remade Ernst Lubitsch’s To Be Or Not To Be, a possibly impromptu song-and-dance number:
Girls, we all know, mature faster than boys, and it’s worse when the boy is much younger than his alleged peer group: the seventh-grade version of me, barely ten years old, was not at all able to deal with thirteen-year-old classmates in skirts. There’s a line in Bill Forsyth’s Gregory’s Girl in which some lad is extolling the virtues of Gregory’s younger sister Madeline: “She’s only ten,” he declared, “but she has the body of a woman of thirteen.” Fortunately for me, this film didn’t come out until I was nearly thirty.
That said, I once came up with the Dave Barry-esque idea of tacking up a pair of sheer stockings on the mantel, in the hope that Santa might see fit to, um, fill them up. The parental units did not approve, and the scheme was never implemented. And I’m not about to claim that I’m the only person who ever thought along these lines:
Actual Sears catalog displays were, if anything, even more endearing, which probably explains why I don’t have any of them anymore.
Tanimura told fans that she was pleased to have graduated, but “I want to concentrate on my music from now on.” She said she didn’t join in many activities while she was at university, “not even ‘gokon’ (matchmaking parties).”
Three years before, she’d begun recording for Japan’s Avex Group. I think my favorite Nana track is “If I’m Not the One,” recorded in 2008:
If she doesn’t look too happy in that last shot, it may be a reflection of her dwindling music career: Avex put out a Greatest Hits compilation in 2011, and we really haven’t heard from her since, except via socialmedia.
“The most beautiful girl in the world,” said producer Walter Wanger about Yvonne de Carlo, whom he chose for the lead role in 1945’s Salome, Where She Danced, an implausible story that nonetheless made her a star at twenty-three.
And hey, I’m not one to argue with Walter Wanger:
The film roles began to dry up in the early 1960s; Universal talked her into a TV series.
After The Munsters was canceled, de Carlo made her way to the stage; her signature role, perhaps, was Carlotta Campion in Stephen Sondheim’s Follies.
Yvonne de Carlo died in 2007 at eighty-five.
(With thanks to Van Dyke Parks. Yes, that Van Dyke Parks.)
Xenia Tchoumitcheva was born in the Urals in 1987 but grew up in Switzerland speaking Italian. She studied economics, worked in London banks, but decided the take would be better as a model — or, in her term, a “digital influencer.”
She does do formal modeling work, but it’s secondary to her writing and video work. She also runs a fashion blog called Chic Overload.
Last year, she decided to shorten her public name to “Xenia Tchoumi,” saying that it’s easier to pronounce.
And, perhaps inevitably, she’s staking out a position as a YouTube vlogger:
A poodle in a sombrero? Sure, why not? And I smile at that bit about “made in an air-conditioned factory where nylon cannot contract.” Said factory, incidentally, was in Australia; Bond’s Industries sold it off in 1958, citing a decline in demand for its uncontracted products.
A statue by Colombian artist Juan Sebastián Peláez was unveiled earlier this year and is currently on display at the Biennale for Contemporary Art in Berlin. The subject of the statue? Rihanna, from here down. An explanation, of sorts, from the Biennale:
Titled “Ewaipanoma (Rihanna)”, the piece makes reference to a mythical race of headless humanoids purported to have been discovered by British explorer Walter Raleigh in Venezuela at the end of the 16th century.
The Biennale website describes the artist’s work as containing “upright, oversize photo-cutouts of headless human bodies — captured in athletic positions, sporting bikini swimwear, or posing in the limelight in glitzy, bling gowns — with faces surreally integrated into their chests. Both the bodies and faces are sourced from pop queens and soccer stars from the Caribbean or Latin America.”
Rihanna, very sensibly, Snapchatted herself in front of this, um, thing:
Sylva Koscina will always be remembered as an Italian actress; a few wise guys might point out along the way that she was born on the Dalmatian coast of what used to be Yugoslavia, but nobody listens to them.
As is essential for an Italian actress of this vintage, she rocks the Little Black Dress:
Or, should the situation demand, even less:
In 1968, she did a segment of the anthology film Vedo Nudo (“I See Naked”), playing a woman identified as The Diva. She is not actually naked in this clip:
She does, however, get to drive an Italian sports car. You don’t usually get this kind of deal in Yugoslavia.
Sylva Koscina would have been 83 today; she was struck down by breast cancer in her early 60s.
Taiwanese actress Annie Wu came to prominence in Jackie Chan’s Police Story 4: First Strike in 1996; Chan had said, perhaps tongue-in-cheek, that her Cantonese was terrible, and whether it was true or not, all of her lines were dubbed for the final release.
Still, Wu, thirty-eight tomorrow, has sustained a career, mostly in Chinese TV, occasionally in a feature film like From Vegas to Macau:
Not that she has a whole heck of a lot to do in those films.
It’s not too startling, perhaps, to discover that Lupita Nyong’o was the first, um, Mexican to win an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress (for 12 Years a Slave): her parents are indeed Kenyan, but she was born in Mexico City. Being the superficial soul I am, I noticed something else: she’s absolutely fearless on the red carpet. I mean, she can wear anything, any style, any color. Examples:
Bonus points if you noticed that “Lupita” is, in fact, the diminutive of “Guadalupe.” Says Wikipedia on the subject: “It is a tradition of the Luo people to name a child after the events of the day, so her parents gave her a Spanish name.”
And I dearly loved her 73 Questions for Vogue:
This series is always good, but Nyong’o’s episode might be the best of them all.