“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.
I got silly one afternoon — Monday, if you care — on Google, and typed in: “politicians with nice legs.”
Result the first:
Valérie Pécresse, forty-nine, is the President of the Regional Council
of Île-de-France; she has served on the Council for twelve years. She is a member of a center-right party called The Republicans, formed from the remains of Jacques Chirac’s Union for a Popular Movement. (Could you imagine an American center-right party called the Republicans? I didn’t think so.)
Since I generally react like Gomez Addams to a woman speaking French, here’s Mme. Pécresse debating French academic Axel Kahn:
They were giving out the annual Prix de la Carpette Anglaise the other day. Literally it means the English Rug Prize, but doormat would be the better translation.
As the citation explains, the award goes to the French person or institution who has given the best display of “fawning servility” to further the insinuation into France of the accursed English language… topping the poll for grave disservices to the mother tongue is France’s higher education minister, Valérie Pécresse.
Her crime: proclaiming to the press that she had no intention of speaking French when attending European meetings in Brussels, because, she said, it was quite obvious that English was now the easiest mode of communication.
Perhaps she should have tried Russian. Or Japanese.
Um, yeah. Well played, Wiki. Let’s assume you already know all the other details of the life of Monica Lewinsky, M.Sc.
This one I did not know: in 2005, she enrolled at the London School of Economics — abandoning her handbag line — and pursued a degree in social psychology. By December 2006 she’d earned a Master’s degree. Her thesis: “In Search of the Impartial Juror: An Exploration of the Third-Person Effect and Pre-Trial Publicity.”
After that, she dropped out of sight, resurfacing in 2014. The next year she gave this TED Talk:
Whatever role she may have to play in the 2016 election remains to be seen.
I stumbled across this picture over the weekend, and mostly, I think, I was surprised that I was surprised: I mean, there’s a definite trend toward Moar Body Art, and patterned hosiery is coming back into style, so I should expect to see potential clashes like this:
On one level, I’m thinking “This does not work.” On another, perhaps more elemental, I’m thinking “Rawr.”
Judging from this interview, conducted three days before the election, she does stage presence well:
Movimento 5 Stelle, Raggi’s political party, which says it doesn’t particularly want to be called a “party” as such, is generally considered to be populist, anti-establishment, environmentalist, anti-globalist and Eurosceptic. Who would start a non-party like that? Beppe Grillo, comedian, activist, and, um, blogger.
Raggi will turn 38 next month. As a proper Italian woman, she’s working some pretty high heels:
I note purely in passing that her campaign site was apparently set up to take donations from abroad.
The other day I did a piece on shoes that aren’t all there, illustrated with a picture of actress Eva LaRue from here down. It occurs to me that someone might want to see the outfit she was wearing with those shoes, so:
LaRue, forty-nine, first established herself on All My Children as Dr. Maria Santos Grey; she was nominated for two Emmys during her seven years on the show. Currently she’s working on Fuller House, a sequel to a show you may have seen before.
Some celebrity types don’t make a point of showing themselves off, and therefore there aren’t that many semi-salacious photos of them for the weekly Rule 5 roundup. (If you’re not familiar with this particular Rule 5, not part of the Rules of the Internet compendium, here’s your introduction. Short version: clickbait with heels on.)
And at the other end of the spectrum, there’s Bai Ling, who will happily drop stuff like this into her Twitter feed on a regular basis:
Those two, in fact, came out within 24 hours of each other, this week.
Let’s have an oldie but goodie from, oh, five weeks ago:
By the numbers: Maya Moore is twenty-seven today, and wears number 23; after four years of utterly stunning numbers at Connecticut, during which time the UConn women won 90 games in a row, she was drafted Number One (of course) by the WNBA’s Minnesota Lynx.
Before you ask: she’s reported to be six feet tall.
And come to think of it, she’s produced rather a lot of amazing numbers:
We might know Lizzy Caplan best from her role as Virginia Johnson on the Showtime series Masters of Sex, which got her an Emmy award nomination in 2014. Given the nature of the series, she does a lot of work in her birthday suit, but her birthday isn’t until the 30th, so we’re not going to go screencapping through Season Two or anything like that.
Then again, she is kind of a quirky dresser:
This week marked the premiere of Now You See Me 2, which somehow seems to be a cross between Ocean’s 11 and Ghostbusters. Or something. Anyway, Lizzy wasn’t in the first NYSM, three years ago.
What sort of role is she playing? I’m not entirely sure:
“It was the third of June, another sleepy, dusty Delta day…”
Everything you know about Bobbie Gentry starts with that one line, and of course you know the song:
That half-raspy belle-but-not-of-the-ball voice of hers became instantly recognizable, and it saw her through a few smaller hits on the way to oblivion.
This is about the place where I’d insert a recent picture. But here’s the catch: there aren’t any recent pictures. Some time after her 1978 single “He Did Me Wrong (But He Did It Right)” failed to catch on, she withdrew from the public eye almost entirely.
Bobbie Gentry lives about a two-hour drive from the site of the Tallahatchie Bridge that made her so famous, in a gated community, in a very nice house that cost about $1.5 million. Her neighbors, some locals and some real estate agents know who she is, although it’s not clear which of her many possible names she goes by.
And no, we still don’t know what was being thrown off that bridge before Billie Joe consigned himself to those muddy waters. There was a film sort of based on the song, but there’s no reason to suspect it’s canon; it’s not even spelled right. Nor is the death of Billie Joe the worst thing that ever happened on the Tallahatchie; Emmett Till wound up there, and he was murdered.
(I am indebted to Roger Green for turning up that B&W picture, which apparently the BBC had in one of its libraries.)
I put nothing past singer/actress Shirley Manson, who once upon a time was a shop assistant at Miss Selfridge, but wound up assigned to the stockroom, lest she come into contact with actual customers. (This is almost exactly my attitude toward retail.) That voice, however, was meant to sing, and after about a decade of various English appearances, she wound up fronting a Madison, Wisconsin band called Garbage, which would put out four albums in ten years before going on hiatus. Their third album, beautifulgarbage, contained an extremely catchy song — “Cherry Lips (Go Baby Go)” — with an extremely sketchy video in which the band is faceless and then some.
Manson does not remember this video fondly.
Garbage reunited in 2012, and Manson did her part to promote their efforts:
In the interim, she had recorded, but ultimately shelved, a solo album. The sixth Garbage album, Strange Little Birds, will be out in June, and this is the lead single:
Later this summer, Shirley Manson turns 50. I don’t believe it either.
Ciara’s 2015 single “Dance Like We’re Making Love” somehow managed to crawl only up to the very bottom of the Billboard Hot 100, and I’m not sure why; the song is catchy enough, and I can’t really fault the visuals here:
I mean, it’s not like she’s prudish and buttoned-down and such. From about that same time, a trip to the ESPYs:
Ciara is generally very good at working that slit-up-to-here style, as she demonstrated at the Grammys earlier this year:
And to be fair, it’s not always the left leg on display:
Then again, you haven’t seen the front of this dress, which I have decided to put after the jump:
This is, of course, because I’m prudish and buttoned-down and such.