Archive for Rule 5

For all the milk tea in China

Zhang Zetian, twenty-four today, is the wealthiest woman in all of China, though you might not have guessed that from this early photo:

Zhang Zetian as the original Milk Tea Girl

The origin of this picture:

In 2009, Zhang Zetian was an ordinary high school student. One day, as she was leaving class, a friend snapped a photo of her with a Chinese milk tea drink in her hand, backpack slung over one shoulder. Zhang’s photo was then posted on, a popular social networking site. Complete strangers then forwarded the photo hundreds of thousands of times, proclaiming the “Milk Tea Girl” to be “adorable!” and “fresh faced!”

Zhang Zetian does a split

This is not, however, how she piled up $8 billion. That story starts in New York City in 2014, when Zhang spent a year as an exchange student at Barnard, and she met Liu Qiangdong, a fortyish entrepreneur (, China’s second-largest online retailer) who was studying at Columbia and hoping to arrange an IPO. They hit it off at once, rumors began to fly, and Liu’s IPO was successful; the following year they were wed in Sydney, Australia, and in 2016 Richard and Nancy (maybe you need an English-sounding name if you’re a Chinese billionaire) had a daughter. Their investments overlap to a certain extent, though apparently her 17 percent of Bubs, an Australian baby-food company, is through her company, not Liu’s.

Zhang Zetian crosses the ocean again

While she works diligently to promote JD’s line of luxe goods, she’d just as soon do the sneakers-and-jeans thing:

And yes, you can find her on Instagram.

Comments (1)

Working girl

Olga Kurylenko’s trip to the top began with a holiday in Moscow when she was 13; within three years she had modeling gigs in Paris and was supporting her mom back in Ukraine. By the time she turned 26, she was being offered small parts in film, which later blossomed into bigger parts; in 2008, three years in, she’d become a Bond girl, opposite Daniel Craig in Quantum of Solace. (One of the women she beat out for the role was Wonder Woman herself, Gal Gadot.)

Olga Kuryenko does a fashion spread

Olga Kuryenko rests a bit

Olga Kuryenko sports some high couture

Of course you know someone who looks like this would have driven Craig Ferguson nuts:

She’s done some TV, too, notably the two-season Starz series Magic City, former Cuban night-club dancer who subsequently married a Miami Beach night-club operator. Coming up on the big screen: the third Johnny English film, a vehicle for Rowan Atkinson. And Terry Gilliam has finally wrapped The Man Who Shot Don Quixote, which first went into preproduction in 1998 (!) and which was recast several times; Kurylenko was brought into the production in 2016, opposite Jonathan Pryce’s Quixote.

Comments (1)

Doody calls

Irish actress Alison Doody turns 51 today. She’s never exactly been a household name, but she has had some seriously distinctive roles: as Dr. Elsa Schneider, an archaeologist from Austria with some, um, pro-German tendencies in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade; as the youngest Bond girl (18) ever in A View to a Kill; and as an investigator in We Still Kill the Old Way.

Alison Doody takes a seat

Alison Doody gets casual

Alison Doody gets seriously uncasual

Apparently that’s the same dress in the first and third pictures.

The chemistry between Indy and Dr. Schneider was, um, not exactly organic:

Next Doody project: S. A. Halewood’s dystopian thriller Division 19.


Neither six nor ten

About the time Linet Munyali (born 4 August 1987, Nairobi) started singing professionally, circa 2008, she took the name “Size 8.” And that name works for me: I know exactly two Kenyan women, and neither of them wears size 8. Her first single was “Shamba Boy”:

Traditionally, the shamba boy is irresistible, the old-style alpha male:

[W]hen you have a white-collar man who can barely fix the kitchen bulb and Mr Shamba Boy can uproot a tree with his bare hands, it is not very hard to see why he gets the perfumed girl in the end.

Size 8 stands tall

Size 8 close up

Size 8 on stage

In 2013, she announced that she had been born again, and began singing gospel songs, of which “Mateke” was the first:

Also in 2013, she was married to Samwel Muraya, better known as DJ Mo. Their daughter Ladasha — spelled without punctuation marks, thank you very much — is coming up on her second birthday.

Comments (2)

Don’t say it too loud

Tabassum Fatima Hashmi is her full name, but you can call her Tabu, as do several segments of the Indian film industry. She’s 46 today, she speaks four languages, and while she’s done some popular films, our Wikipedia editor says that she “is best known for playing protagonists in films that garner more critical appreciation than substantial box office figures.”

Tabu resplendent in red

Tabu sort of smiles

Tabu seems slightly puzzled

To English-speaking audiences, she is perhaps best known for Mira Nair’s The Namesake, in which she plays half of a West Bengali couple who are raising two children in America, one of whom is played by Kal Penn (!), and for Life of Pi, in which she plays Pi’s mother, presumably drowned at sea.

Tabu has never been married, and this video purports to explain why:

Which may or may not equal this explanation.

Comments (1)

A couple of wows

Let the record show that this is not Manet’s Déjeuner sur l’herbe:

Annabella Lwin and Bow Wow Wow

This, in fact, is British band Bow Wow Wow, and the young lady in her birthday suit is lead singer Annabella Lwin. EMI, their label at the time, were constantly in head-shaking mode The first BWW single, “C-30 C-60 C-90 Go,” was issued at first on a one-sided cassette, the reverse being blank, which irked EMI because it seemed to promote home taping, something proper record companies at the time objected to most strenuously.

Malcolm McLaren, he who assembled the Sex Pistols, brought BWW together; the guys had been Ants behind Adam, and a friend of McLaren’s had seen Lwin working at a dry-cleaning establishment. EMI dropped them after a second single, and McLaren found himself at odds with Lwin’s mother, Lwin not being quite 18 just yet. Eventually, the fake Manet, intended for an album cover, was shelved. (Remarkably, it showed up on an American EP, The Last of the Mohicans. on RCA.)

Annabella Lwin on stage border=0></a><br clear=all></p>
<p><a href=Annabella Lwin on the cover of Noise magazine

Annabella Lwin by the jukebox

Bow Wow Wow’s biggest hit in the States was a cover of the Strangeloves’ “I Want Candy,” which stumbled to #62.

Creeping onto the last row of Billboard’s Top 200 album chart (at #192) was BWW’s See Jungle! See Jungle! Go Join Your Gang Yeah, City All Over! Go Ape Crazy! The title song was generally abbreviated to “See Jungle!”

In 1983, Lwin was ousted from the band, though she’d drift in and out of the ranks over the years. She continued to record as a solo, and apparently she has the only copy of her early-Nineties single “Car Sex”:

Today is her 51st birthday. Tomorrow she’s appearing in Ridgefield, Connecticut with Martha Davis and the Motels.

Comments (4)

Live and let Leeb

Canadian actress Kaitlyn Leeb graduated from York University with a degree in psychology, which for all I know might be useful for her particular vocation. After several years as a print model, she did a lot of television, including Shadowhunters (Freeform) and Heartland (CBC).

Kaitlyn Leeb, shortly before marrying Ted Leeb

Kaitlyn Leeb with two

Kaitlyn Leeb with three

Kaitlyn Leeb in an LBD

The third photo may remind you of one of her film roles: she was in the 2012 remake of Total Recall. (“Trust me, baby, you’re gonna wish you had three hands.”)

There’s not much freestanding video of Leeb. We do have a badly-cut promo for Shadowhunters:

She’s twenty-nine, and her Chinese/Irish background makes her faintly exotic. (She was Kaitlyn Wong before marrying Ted Leeb in 2013.)

Comments (7)

Miss Thang goes on

Miss Thang was the title of Monica’s first album, released back in 1995 when she was only fourteen. It went triple-platinum in the States, and suggested she had a long, fruitful career ahead of her.

Monica makes it fit

Monica after the storm

Monica goes blonde

She’s not making as much chart noise as she used to. Some say it was because in 1999, her boyfriend propelled himself into the afterlife — at his brother’s gravesite, no less. Others point out that she’s done a fair amount of TV and film work. I think it’s simply that now that she’s married and has three kids, she has higher priorities.

And of the several million records Monica’s sold over the last 22 years — she turns 37 today — this one might be my favorite. From her 2010 album Still Standing:

The new boyfriend, incidentally, is Shannon Brown. They were married shortly thereafter.

Comments (1)

A Betazoid female at midlife

Next week at this time: #DeannaTroiDay. I did not know this, and I do not know why Deanna Troi Day is in October. According to Memory Alpha, which keeps track of these things, Deanna Troi was born on 29 March 2336. That said, though, this is a good time to shuffle through the Big Box O’ Photos for some shots of actress Marina Sirtis, born 29 March (who knew?) 1955.

A very young Marina Sirtis

The story goes that Gene Roddenberry had originally planned for the Deanna Troi character to have four breasts. We’re talking serious overkill here.

Marina Sirtis, party person

Marina Sirtis not stretching out

Marina Sirtis in pink

Besides all that Star Trek stuff, she maintains a heavy Twitter presence, some of which is devoted to complaining about Donald Trump. (She’s a naturalized citizen, so she even got to vote against him.)

And she’s staggeringly popular on the con circuit. A sample clip:

Should someone explain Deanna Troi Day between now and next week, I’ll happily update.

Comments (1)

The Commissioner never noticed

If you grew up at exactly the right moment, you may remember Marta, a slave girl who comes to a rather scary end on a last-season episode of Star Trek:

Yvonne Craig as Marta

Of course, she was just as alluring in black and white as she was in green:

Yvonne Craig takes aim

Yvonne Craig takes a seat

Now think purple with yellow trim:

Yvonne Craig, dancer turned actress, had all the right moves in many a good show, and then retired to make a fortune in real estate, and a few bucks as an author (her 2000 autobiography From Ballet to the Batcave and Beyond). And yes, Batgirl was Commissioner Gordon’s daughter, though apparently he never figured it out. Then again, neither did Bruce Wayne.

Comments (3)

Sister of many brothers

Marie Osmond turned 58 Friday. Most of you already know the demographic — the only girl among eight boys — and well, in terms of Overall Instant Recognition, she’s either first or second, depending on how much attention you paid to brother Donny. Of course, the whole brood was cute, but Marie (that’s her middle name: first name was Olive) had that whole Only Girl thing going for her, and still does.

Marie Osmond at the 2015 Daytime Emmys

Marie Osmond showing a bit of cleavage

Marie Osmond on USA Weekend

She did have a musical career separate from the boys, starting with one good-sized hit (the old standard, “Paper Roses,” which hit #5 pop and #1 country in 1973). Things sort of tailed off after that; her 1974 album This Is the Way I Feel, her fourth, was poppier, and while there were two songs written by the older Osmond brothers, there was also this one, written by the brothers Gibb:

Marie’s most recent album was Music Is Medicine (2016), which barely crept into the Billboard 200 but did make it to #10 on the country chart. This slightly goofy video for the title track includes kids from the Children’s Miracle Network hospitals:

Oh, before you ask: Brother Donny turns 60 in December.

Comments (1)

Shayk well

So an old friend of this blog put up a picture from days gone by on Facebook which, among other things, reminded me of a comment she’d made a long time ago, about her “one good feature.” I remembered that said feature was very, very good indeed, and with my brain thoroughly befogged, typed the following phrase into the Google Image search box: “nicest legs on the planet.”

Result the first:

Irina Shayk in a black dress

You’re looking at Irina Valeryevna Shaykhlislamova, known the world over as Irina Shayk, born in the winter of 1986 in the town of Yemanzhelinsk, near the border with Kazakhstan. Her father, a coal miner, died when she was 14; with her mother working two jobs, she joined her older sister to study at a nearby beauty school. She won Miss Chelyabinsk 2004, and decided that maybe this modeling stuff might work out.

Irina Shayk in a yellow dress

Irina Shayk with an old friend

Irina Shayk in the middle of a wardrobe malfunction

She has one film credit to her name: as Megara, oldest daughter of Creon, king of Thebes, in Hercules (2004) opposite Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.

And here, Craig Ferguson doing what Craig Ferguson does in the presence of pretty ladies:

I’d like to think that he remembers how to pronounce “Shaykhlislamova.”

As for the old friend, she still looks pretty good, but she’ll tell you she’s not in this league.

Comments (3)

Think Twice

“Twice” is an unusual K-pop girl group; three of the nine members are in fact Japanese. This past year, they’ve been serving as brand ambassadors, or whatever, for the legendary Far Eastern sports drink Pocari Sweat.

As far as US Wikipedia is concerned, only one member of Twice is notable enough to rate a separate article: Chou Tzu-yu. Tzuyu was born on Taiwan, and her appearance (at sixteen) on a Korean variety show, holding the flag of the Republic of China, caused some grief on the mainland, which continues to argue there is only one China, and Taiwan is only a small part of it.

Tzuyu with ROC and South Korean flags

After about 60 days of turmoil, Tzuyu read an apology on television; it’s not clear how much effect the incident might have had on the 2016 Taiwan general election.

Tzuyu in a Twice concert poster

Tzuyu on stage

Tzuyu looking girly

I admit to not entirely comprehending “Signal,” the title track to Twice’s 2017 EP.

Comments (1)

Can’t get more Starley than this

Starley Hope left Australia for the wonders — and the record industry — of Greater London. When nothing happened for her in the UK, she flew back home, sliced off her last name for commercial purposes, and signed with a label in Sydney.

Starley beside her trailer

Starley sort of dressed

Starley on Jimmy Kimmel Live

Her first single, “Call On Me,” made enough noise to justify a pickup by a US label (Epic), and she performed it for Jimmy Kimmel. This is the video:

Mind you, it’s Official. Says so right there. The follow-up, “Touch Me,” came out this past summer.

Before you ask, she’s thirty. Today, in fact.

Comments (1)

Beer has that effect on me

From about 18 months ago:

The very first time I heard the name “Madison Beer,” I assumed it was some cheesehead lager, rented only by people who thought Pabst Blue Ribbon was too exotic. This is, of course, right up there with the story of Ariana Grande being the name of a font.

Anyway, Madison Beer is a singer, seventeen years old as of this month; she has a career because for several years she was singing cover versions on YouTube, and apparently Justin Bieber, always on the lookout for younger women, was sufficiently fond of her take on Etta James’ “At Last.” This eventually got her a record deal and a few singles, though no Hot 100 hits as yet.

A year and a half later, some of the puzzle pieces fit. She’s released five singles, none of which have charted. What I heard last year as the instrumental track from “Out Loud,” which hasn’t been released at all, turns out to be the instrumental track from “Melodies,” her 2013 debut.

And since she was Very Young then, we’ll do some more recent photos.

Madison Beer at the Grammys

Madison Beer at the car wash

Madison Beer on Los Angeles television

Her most recent single is “Dead,” which sounds like something SZA would do.

If SZA were an Ashkenazi Jew who drives a Range Rover, anyway.


She’s alive!

Today we celebrate the forty-seventh birthday of Sheri Moon Zombie, which technically, I suppose, is her real name; she’s been legally Sheri Moon since she got her start in showbiz, hired by Rob Zombie as a dancer and choreographer for his first solo tour after the breakup of White Zombie. They dated for several years; their fifteenth wedding anniversary is coming up on — wait for it — the 31st of October.

Sheri Moon Zombie at the premiere of Halloween II, 2009

Sheri Moon Zombie out of costume, mostly

Sheri Moon Zombie in 31, 2016

31, incidentally, is the title of a 2016 film directed by Rob and starring Sheri; it was intense enough to draw an NC-17 rating, but was cut just enough to sneak in with an R. The third photo above was a still from 31.

From 1999, here’s Rob Zombie’s video for “Living Dead Girl,” featuring Sheri, who doesn’t actually show up until halfway through.

Outside the Zombie film fold, she designed a clothing line called Total Skull, and appeared in Tobe Hooper’s Toolbox Murders.

Comments (2)

Tidy Heidi

Actually, I have no idea how tidy Heidi El Tabakh really is, but professional tennis players tend not to be slobs. (Okay, some of the guys … but never mind about them.) Heidi was born in Alexandria, Egypt this week 31 years ago, and moved to Canada circa 2005. The year before that, she played in a doubles tournament in Edmond, Oklahoma, just up the Broadway Distention; she and Anne Mall, from Ireland, defeated Carine Vermuelen and Kelly Anderson of South Africa, 3–6, 6–3, 6–4.

Heidi El Kabakh waits for it

Heidi El Kabakh takes a break for it

Heidi El Kabakh prepares to serve

In April 2016, she put her career on hiatus due to recurrent injuries; her WTA singles rating had dropped from #142 to below #1000. She’s still going to kick your behind at table tennis, though:

And a fan from Canada reports:

… the latest rumors suggest that El Tabakh has moved or is about to make the move into coaching.

She’s definitely too young to stay retired.



JD Rucker said this last fall:

But if not Clooney, then who? How about Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA)?

Assuming Clooney doesn’t run, the more likely and mainstream choice of Senator Kamala Harris is poised to be the nominee. She’ll win California if she’s even a blip on the radar. Her opponents would have to eliminate her from contention altogether for her to lose this state where she is extremely popular.

Unfortunately for other hopefuls, the only way to eliminate her from contention will likely be through scandal because if California’s current plan passes, she’ll only have to go through Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada. The state is pushing to move their primary to early March, making it the kingmaker it has always wanted to be.

As Politico points out, her opponents would be hard-pressed to mount the fundraising efforts necessary to blitz the most populous state in the nation with enough juice to derail her. That’s not going to happen unless Mark Cuban or some other self-funded billionaire enters the race. Harris will be the Democratic nominee and the DNC will wholeheartedly embrace her as the Trump-slayer.

And for those benighted jokers who make their selection on the basis of eye candy, she’s a cinch:

Kamala Harris has something to say

Kamala Harris has something to say

For those more obsessive than I:

And hey, if George Clooney does win, the First Lady will suddenly be vaulted into Jackie Kennedy territory. We’ve looked at her once.

Okay, more than once.

Comments (8)


Yes, Ketevan:

Cover art for Ketevan by Katie Melua

As it turns out, Katie Melua’s birth name was “Ketevan,” a perfectly reasonable name for a female of Georgian descent, and I don’t mean Macon. The last time she hit these pages, a couple of years ago, was due to a small controversy regarding her enormous hit “Nine Million Bicycles.” We’re bringing her back because it’s her birthday. (She’s thirty-three.)

Katie Melua joins the discussion

Katie Melua is all kinetic

Katie Melua on the couch

Ketevan, the album, came out in 2013; instead of the usual music video, the lead single, “I Will Be There,” written by her then-producer Mike Batt, came out with this full concert version.

Speaking of concerts — well, you must see this 2004 live set. She doesn’t come in until about 3:15, and this is arguably the most eccentric version of the Screamin’ Jay Hawkins original:

(That’s Mike Batt on the piano; I suspect that he came up with this arrangement.)


As real as it may seem

People who have known me for a quarter-century or so tend not to forget the things I’ve said and done. The substitute receptionist — not the usual one, mind you, but the substitute — hailed me as I passed the desk with “You did know Debbie Gibson was on Dancing with the Stars, didn’t you?” Well, of course; as a Debhead of long standing, I have to keep up with these developments. The teen queen is now forty-seven? Well, of course; these things happen.

Debbie Gibson for Hallmark

Debbie Gibson in a swimsuit

Debbie Gibson up against the wall

And this is where it started, way back in 1986:

Deb’s partner on DWTS is Alan Bersten, a four-year veteran who was promoted to Professional this season.

Comments (1)

Still Sharp after all these years

The motivation here:

[Kenny] Gamble says he wrote the words to “Expressway to Your Heart” while on an actual expressway: the Schuylkill (“Sure-Kill”) Expressway through Philly. He had a date that night with Dee Dee Sharp (“Mashed Potato Time”), about whom I haven’t written nearly enough.

So let us address this deficiency. Sixteen-year-old Dione LaRue was working on a budding career as a background singer when Cameo-Parkway Records, arguably the biggest label in Philadelphia in 1962, brought her in to play off their biggest star, Chubby Checker, on yet another Twist record:

You’ll note that this was on Parkway, where Chubby ruled the world, and Dee Dee Sharp, as she was now known, was uncredited on the label. But the company hedged its bet and put out an actual Dee Dee single on Cameo:

“Slow Twistin'” and “Mashed Potato Time” hit the charts at the same time; Dee Dee alone outpointed Dee Dee and Chubby by one position: Number Two versus Number Three. (Jon Sheldon, with a writer credit on both, was actually label founder Kal Mann.) The genius of “Mashed Potato Time” is that everybody who was doing the song “looked for records they could do it to,” and verses followed quoting “The Lion Sleeps Tonight,” “Please, Mr. Postman,” and “Dear Lady Twist.” Whether the “Postman” reference was intended to obscure the similarities between Dee Dee’s song and the Motown smash, it’s hard to say. Motown certainly thought it was.

Dee Dee Sharp shakes that thing

Dee Dee Sharp smiles for the camera

Dee Dee Sharp just kept on making records

In 1967, she and Kenny Gamble were wed — they split in 1980 — and after the expiration of her Cameo contract and a brief stint with Atco, she signed with Gamble-Huff’s Philadelphia International/TSOP operation. One track from the 1975 Happy ‘Bout the Whole Thing album made the R&B charts: a cover of 10cc’s “I’m Not in Love.” Yes, really:

Dee Dee Sharp is seventy-two today, and not officially retired yet.

Comments (4)

A true TV sex symbol

It must be true; Rosa Blasi was on a team called “TV Sex Symbols” for the 2017 revival of Battle of the Network Stars, at the tender age of, um, forty-three. Of course, she’s been all over the small screen: first seen on the CBS soap The Bold and the Beautiful, she landed herself a long-term gig (seven seasons) on Lifetime’s Strong Medicine as a doctor running a free clinic on the wrong side of town.

Doctor Lu’s polar opposite, perhaps, is Barb Thunderman on the only-just-wrapped Nickelodeon sitcom The Thundermans, about a family with super-ish powers living unnoticed in a quiet suburb. (Of course, if all suburbs are quiet, none of them are.)

Rosa Blasi on the red carpet

Rosa Blasi stretches out

Rosa Blasi at the 2016 Teen Choice Awards

Rosa Blasi with a copy of her book

The book she’s holding in that bottom photo is her comic memoir Jock Itch: The Misadventures of a Retired Jersey Chaser (2011), which possibly may contain a reference to her first husband, New York Giants fullback Jim Finn; they had split in 2008.

Barb Thunderman’s maiden name, should you be curious, is “McBooger.”

Comments (6)

It’s Janet

Ms. Mock if you’re nasty. Having no desire to appear nasty, I’m setting up this pictorial with Things I Did Not Know About Janet Mock:

  • I knew she had her Master’s in journalism, but what came before that? A Bachelor of Arts in Fashion Merchandising (!) from the University of Hawaii at Manoa. She was, after all, born in Hawaii, and spent most of her childhood there.
  • She’s done some special-assignment reporting for Entertainment Tonight.
  • For a while — let’s say, 24 hours — she didn’t get on particularly well with Piers Morgan.
  • And she was, for a time, an intern for Playboy:

She did suggest that her relatively high eye-candy content might helped her land that job at Hefnerville, which I don’t find the least bit surprising.

Janet Mock sitting on the stoop

Janet Mock has better things to do than row

Janet Mock didn't spend a lot for this set

Janet Mock on the red carpet

I think the more wayward her hair is, the better it looks. Not that she’s taking advice from the likes of me.

Comments (6)

This is an ex-model

Really. Wikipedia’s entry for Frederique van der Wal describes her as a “former model.” And since she turns fifty tomorrow, she’s probably at least somewhat relieved to be off the treadmill.

Frederique van der Wal wants you to try these on

Frederique van der Wal in the obligatory swimsuit shot

Frederique van der Wal at rest

And the obligatory Save the Something or Other appearance:

Further goodies await at Really.

Comments (1)

Bond. Lilian Bond.

The billing seemed to vary from time to time, depending on how many L’s you think are in her first name, but Lilian Bond spelled it that way. Born in London in 1908, she did stage and panto work before coming to the States in the late 1920s. Her career took off in the early Thirties, perhaps peaking in 1940 with The Westerner, in which she played English actress Lily Langtry, object of a crush by Judge Roy Bean (Walter Brennan). Things tapered off quickly thereafter: by 1946’s The Jolson Story she was reduced to uncredited status, and in 1958, after a so-so period of TV appearances, she retired.

Lilian Bond works that 1930s look

Lilian Bond stretches out

Lilian Bond with George Raft

The chap in that last shot is George Raft, who starred with Sylvia Sidney in Pick-Up, a pre-Code thriller from 1933. In this clip, Bond and Sidney are having a few words, and you’ll be forgiven if you think she comes off like Jane Leeves:

Her IMDb bio contains the following throwaway line:

A beauty in her time, [she was] once photographed in the nude by Alfred Cheney Johnston.

Absolutely true.

Lilian Bond died in 1991 at the age of eighty-three.


With a natural glow

Last week, our piece on British actress Dorothy Mackaill featured this clip from the 1931 drama Safe in Hell:

You probably spotted Mackaill at left in that frame. But who’s the beauty in the center?

Nina Mae McKinney has the moves

Nina Mae McKinney in high style

Nina Mae McKinney by the piano

Nina Mae McKinney (1912-1967) was a decidedly distinctive American actress, born in small-town South Carolina and hailed in Europe as “The Black Garbo,” which is high praise indeed. At home, she wasn’t quite so highly celebrated, for reasons mostly having to do with Jim Crow and his descendants, but she was respected for her work, and in that Safe in Hell clip she didn’t do that bogus ethnic Stephanie Fetchit voice that marred so many pictures with African-American women, which by all accounts was fine with director William A. Weilman.

Nina Mae decided to get out of Europe after the Third Reich strode into Poland, and while she did find work, it was mostly in B pictures; after the war, she moved to Greece.

And we must mention Hallelujah! Released in 1929, it was that rarest of motion-picture phenomena: a film with an all-black cast, a standard rather than substandard budget, the backing of a major studio — MGM, no less — and a name-brand director: King Vidor. Of course, Metro, concerned about the money, insisted on a slightly scurrilous and decidedly stereotypical story. But Vidor kept sneaking reality into the film, and it became a sizable hit; Vidor was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Director. Nina Mae’s character, a sharecropper turned Loose Woman, wasn’t any sort of role model, but oh, how she could dance!

Irving Berlin, the whitest songwriter of them all — see, for instance, the Drifters’ version of “White Christmas” — came up with “Swanee Shuffle,” and Curtis Mosby’s real-life band plays in this legendary dancehall scene.

And if you did the math and figured that Nina Mae was only sixteen at the time — well, forget it. It’s just math.

Comments (2)

One hundred thirty-six

So I was restructuring my photo archive, and I got to wondering: “Geez, just how many pictures of Rebecca Black do I have?”

This, I think, gives her third place, trailing Taylor Swift (412) and Zooey Deschanel (628). It’s a distant third, but still: third. And she’s only 20. An opportunity, I figure, for a Rule 5 post.

Rebecca Black outside the Grammy Museum

Rebecca Black has lunch, sort of

Rebecca Black keeps her balance

Rumor has it that the long-awaited EP will drop on 15 September; at least one Major Fan is running a countdown.

For the heck of it, here’s a Just Stuff video from summer 2016:

She’s very nineteen in these scenes.

And this went up today:

It’s happening. (I think.)

Comments off

Eventually she spoke

Hull, Yorkshire, 1914. Dorothy Mackaill was eleven years old, and her parents were going their separate ways. After living with her dad, she took off for London and the stage, but somehow ended up in the Ziegfield Follies.

By 1920, she was seventeen and ready for “real” roles. It wasn’t long before she because a capital-S Star, and made a relatively smooth transition to talkies before giving it all up in 1937 to take care of her aged mother.

Dorothy Mackaill parties hearty

Dorothy Mackaill in Safe in Hell

Dorothy Mackaill in Safe in Hell

Dorothy Mackaill checks herself out

The two middle shots come from 1931’s Safe in Hell, a perhaps-raunchy pre-Code thriller in which Mackaill stars as a New Orleans hooker who is smuggled to a Caribbean island. A clip therefrom:

Let’s just say it doesn’t end well for the young lady.

In the Fifties, she moved to Hawaii, and remained there for the rest of her life, surfacing occasionally in the Hawaii Five-O television series.

Comments (1)

Now that we’ve seen Paris

Originally, the plan was for Paris Berelc to be a gymnast. And she was a darn good one, too:

But after a stint at Ford Models, showbiz beckoned, and she wound up in the Disney Channel stable of terminally cute teenagers, playing the same character in 44 episodes of Mighty Med and then 16 in Lab Rats: Elite Force. In between, she was mostly not seen in Disney’s Invisible Sister. Next year she’ll be in a Netflix original series, Alexa & Katie.

Paris Berelc takes a walk

Paris Berelc takes a sip

Paris Berelc for Variety

The text on that black top: DON’T TEXT HIM BACK. Probably not a bad idea at that.

Between Christmas and New Year’s, she’ll turn 19.

Comments (2)

Working up a Szwed

It being 8/8, I figured I’d look for someone born on this date, and I wound up with Polish singer/actress Aleksandra Szwed, who turns twenty-seven today. She was born in Warsaw, but a significant branch of her family tree runs through Nigeria, a combination I’ve literally never seen before, and that closed the deal right there.

Aleksandra Szwed on the cover of Shape

Aleksandra Szwed rocks a tank

Aleksandra Szwed on the red carpet

I think I like the close-cropped ‘do.

Szwed appeared on the TV series Rodzina zastępcza (“Foster Family”) for the entirety of its eleven-year run. She’s also made a few records, none quite as insane as this one: “Powiedz, że nie kochasz” (“Say you do not love”):

Though you may already know this one in its original language: German.

Comments (2)