Archive for Rule 5

Veddy British indeed

According to the anonymous Wikipedant, Tara Fitzgerald is currently appearing at the Globe Theatre as Lady Macbeth. Makes sense to me. (Also at the Globe, she’s played Hermione in A Winter’s Tale.) Now fifty-one, she has an enormous string of credits, and occasional portraits therefrom.

Tara Fitzgerald in black

Tara Fitzgerald in blue

Tara Fitzgerald as a redhead

In the States, you may remember her as Selyse Florent over three seasons of Game of Thrones.

A look at herself, from the Guardian, a few years back:

And she played Topaz Mortmain, Cassandra’s seemingly self-absorbed stepmother, in Tim Fywell’s 2003 film of Dodie Smith’s I Capture the Castle, which pretty much demands that she be here somewhere.


And never, ever dull

Classical music, says Chinese pianist Yuja Wang, is “far from boring”:

It has all the blood, energy, the sinister dark side, rhythm that rock music has, and all the refined, subtle sensuality that one can ask for.

Just outside Yuja Wang's dressing room

Yuja Wang sits on a piano

Yuja Wang gets down on Friday

“Sinister” used to mean “having to do with the left side,” which brings us to Paul Wittgenstein (1887-1961), who lost his right arm in the Great War; he subsequently commissioned several works he could still play, including a piano concerto by Maurice Ravel, which premiered in 1932. Purists — the major exception, perhaps, was Alfred Cortot — still play it with five fingers only. For her part, Miss Wang plays the notes with her left hand and works the iPad with her right.

If you’re keeping score, she’s 31, and this is the eighth time I’ve found Rule 5 space for her.

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The original Money Honey

Back in the 1990s, when Maria Bartiromo was working for CNBC, she managed to get onto the trading floor of the New York Stock Exchange, a place no woman had ever before been. That “Money Honey” stuff started around then; in 2007, she filed a trademark application for the phrase, to be used on a collection of money-related learning materials. Now that’s astute.

Maria Bartiromo in a fuzzy sweater

Maria Bartiromo on a CNBC desk

Maria Bartiromo takes a seat

Maria Bartiromo ruins a perfectly good shoe

Today she turns 51. Her biggest fan ever might have been Joey Ramone (!), who put down his feelings in song:

This does not sound like a man who wants to be sedated, if you know what I mean.

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Smashingly so

Marguerite Chapman may be unique in this regard: at the time she was “discovered” and pointed toward a career in modeling, she was working as a telephone switchboard operator. Weird things can happen to operators — I was once married to one, and apparently Roger Miller, dang him, apparently tried to pick her up — but usually not that weird.

Arriving in Hollywood in 1940, Chapman, then twenty-one, managed to snag a few small roles before Republic Pictures signed her for the female lead in a twelve-part serial. Spy Smasher was released in 1942, with the nation only just getting used to being at war, and it was a big hit, though high costs prevented it from turning much of a profit. The Smasher himself (Kane Richmond) got top billing, of course, but Chapman, as his fiancée, was billed second. For the rest of the Forties, she was booked for A-list roles. Her last appearance in a major motion picture was in 1955’s The Seven-Year Itch, as secretary to the woolgathering Tom Ewell, who spent his time crushing on Marilyn Monroe. She did one more film, Edgar G. Ulmer’s 1960 El Cheapo semi-SF tale The Amazing Transparent Man; weirdly, it was her second Invisible Man film. (The first? The Body Disappears, in 1941.)

Marguerite Chapman wrapped in a whole lot of nothing

Marguerite Chapman in a standard studio portrait

Marguerite Chapman does the backstroke

We return to 1955, with Ewell basically paying no attention to the Chapman charms:

Then again, it may have happened only in his mind.

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Deep irrelevancy

Now and again, Fleet Street gets a case of the sillies, and none of their ructions in recent times were sillier than the presumably Brexit-inspired question of whether UK Prime Minister Theresa May or First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon had nicer legs.

No, seriously. I mean, the Daily Mail went this far:

May’s famously long extremities are demurely arranged in her customary finishing-school stance — knees tightly together, calves at a flattering diagonal, feet neatly aligned. It’s a studied pose that reminds us that for all her confidence, she is ever the vicar’s daughter, always respectful and anxious not to put a foot wrong.

Sturgeon’s shorter but undeniably more shapely shanks are altogether more flirty, tantalisingly crossed, with the dominant leg pointing towards her audience. It’s a direct attempt at seduction: her stiletto is not quite dangling off her foot, but it could be. “Come, succumb to my revolutionary allure,” she seems to be saying. “You know you want to.”

This sort of discourse is unheard of here in the colonies; otherwise, we’d be halfway through President Palin’s first term by now. But that’s a fantasy for another time. For now, we’ll look at Nicola Sturgeon presumably looking “flirty.”

Nicola Sturgeon in brown

Nicola Sturgeon in blue

Nicola Sturgeon in brown

Nicola Sturgeon in red

There is even, Lord help us, video:

You couldn’t prove it by me, or by those three minutes of video snippets, but I’m sure the First Minister actually owns a pair of flats.

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At the sign of the Z

If you’re carrying around a name like Zendaya Maree Stoermer Coleman, you can hardly be blamed for pushing aside three-quarters of it. So Zendaya she is, she’s 22 today, and, probably due to Disney Channel influence, she’s been around long enough for me to go “Twenty-two? Seriously?”

It’s a pretty long list of credits, too, from an appearance in a Kidz Bop video to her reappearance as Michelle “MJ” Jones in the next Spider-Man theatrical (2019). Interestingly, she’s producing a biography (in which she will star) of Anita Florence Hemmings, the first African-American student at Vassar in the 1890s.

A slightly unbuttoned Zendaya

Zendaya at the 2015 BET Awards

An even more unbuttoned Zendaya

Unsurprisingly for a Disney Channel alumna, she also sings; she cut an eponymous album for Disney’s Hollywood Records label in 2013, featuring the single “Replay.”

“Replay” just barely cracked the Top 40, but it hung around long enough to earn Platinum status. A second LP is in the works, from Republic.

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Much impressed

For a singer who’s released only five studio albums in twenty-five years, Shania Twain has quite the amazing reputation: she got nine — count ’em, nine — singles out of the Up! album; said album was released in three different musical genres at the same time; and if ever there’s a penalty for exclamation-point abuse, she’ll almost certainly hang.

Perhaps I should explain the “genres” reference. There exist three complete versions of Up!: green, a sort of traditional country sound; red, with the pop turned up and the steel guitars banished; and blue, suitable for a Bollywood musical. The performances are essentially identical; only the mixes are different. And if you bought the two-CD set in the States, as I did, you got red and green. Ahead of her time? Well, yeah. But also retro: she’s the first country artist ever to write what could just as easily have been an ABBA tune.

Shania Twain stretches it out

Shania Twain shows some shin

Shania Twain on the sofa

For her 53rd birthday, we’re celebrating with the first of those nine singles from Up! in its red incarnation. Taylor Swift was 14 that year, and had no idea she was going to be a pop star, let alone that this was what she was going to have to compete with.

You turned it up, didn’t you? I thought you might.

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Pretty Schiffy

Claudia Schiffer was working in her father’s law office in a small town in Germany during the day and occasionally going out on the town, or perhaps some other town, in the evenings. The latter activity got her noticed by one of those people whose job it is to notice potential models, who might reasonably have paid attention to a five-foot-eleven blue-eyed blonde. Perhaps she was not destined to be a lawyer after all.

Claudia Schiffer on the edge of the boat

Claudia Schiffer on top of a rock

Claudia Schiffer wearing as little as possible

Claudia Schiffer earning her keep

She turns forty-eight today. And this is what she’s looked like at various points throughout those years:

There’s a lot to be said for aging gracefully.

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Rich, but not crazy, Asian

Let it be said that “Awkwafina” is one of the great stage names of the last hundred years or so, and no, it has nothing to do with that overpriced bottled water from PepsiCo. The actress/rapper formerly known as Nora Lum studied journalism and women’s studies at the State University of New York at Albany, interned at the Times Union, and then took off for China to learn Mandarin.

Awkwafina resplendent in Tory Burch

Awkwafina playing nerd

Awkwafina takes a sip

And if you missed her in Ocean’s 8, you can see her in Crazy Rich Asians.

Oh, yes, she still raps now and then. “Pockiez” is from her 2016 EP In Fina We Trust.

Truth be told, she won me over with that Shaw Bros. logo in the opening.

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The legend of Omarosa

Three things (of many) I did not know about Omarosa Manigault Newman:

  • During the Clinton administration, she had a job in the office of Vice President Al Gore. She did not last long.
  • She is semi-reliably reported to wear a size 11½ shoe.
  • TV Guide put her on their 2013 list of TV’s Nastiest Villains: she was 45th out of 60.

Omarosa on the red carpet

Omarosa on a TV talk show

It's curtains for Omarosa

This was fun: Omarosa vs. Savannah Guthrie.

Graeme O’Neil: “She’s such good TV.” Probably why she’s been on it for almost 15 years.

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Nobody else but Halle

It’s Halle Berry’s 52nd birthday, which means it’s about time she started looking 35 or thereabouts. In general, these photos are self-explanatory.

Halle Berry fiddling with a car seat

Halle Berry on the red carpet

Halle Berry on the purple carpet

Halle Berry stands on her head

Well, maybe not that last one, which she posted on Instagram as a sign of personal progress in yoga.

Then again, who’s gonna argue with Halle Berry? Certainly not I.

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On the bright side

Seventy-two is the sum of four consecutive primes (13 + 17 + 19 + 23), as well as the sum of six consecutive primes (5 + 7 + 11 + 13 + 17 + 19). Seventy-two is also the age, as of today, of Marilyn vos Savant, columnist for Parade magazine, once listed in the Guinness Book of World Records under “Highest IQ.” (The Book no longer lists this category, having decided that IQ tests were too unreliable to designate a single record holder; Marilyn’s scores varied over a 42-point range, which is consistent with my own scores, even though by comparison I’m dumb as a post.)

Anyway, the tiny picture in Parade doesn’t really do her justice:

Marilyn vos Savant, decently lit

Marilyn vos Savant, perhaps not so well lit

Marilyn vos Savant on the cover of Parade with husband Robert Jarvik

Dr. Robert Jarvik, one of the developers of the Jarvik-7 artificial heart, proposed in 1987; she accepted. (He’s her third husband; they’re still together after forty years.)

In 1986, the year she was first lauded by Guinness, she sat for a one-hour interview with New York TV host Harold Channer; I’d say she handles him well.

Vos Savant has written ten books, one with the evocative title Of Course I’m for Monogamy: I’m Also for Everlasting Peace and an End to Taxes (2006).

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Nor is she dingey

I almost missed Merrin Dungey’s birthday — she’s forty-seven today — but she probably didn’t notice: she is one busy actress, and has been since showing up on an episode of Martin half her lifetime ago.

Merrin Dungey hits the deck

Merrin Dungey hits another deck

Merrin Dungey hits yet a different deck

Nine years of The King of Queens, and Merrin became one of those people who can play just about anything you want; most recently she did a season of Fox’s The Resident, as the former CEO of a Great Metropolitan Hospital. Next: the ABC legal drama The Fix. Speaking of ABC, Merrin’s older sister Channing is the head of ABC Entertainment.

and just for the heck of it, here’s a clip from Once Upon a Time, with Merrin as one of three legendary Disney villains of the female persuasion.

Don’t irritate her. You won’t like her when she’s irritated.

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Red Harring

By 1985, Laura Elena Martínez Herring had already shortened her name to Laura Harring and had won the title of Miss USA; according to the scorecard, she’d placed only third in the interview, but narrowly won the swimsuit competition and ran away with the evening-gown competition. (She went on to Miss Universe, where she made it to the semi-finals.)

The pageant got her an acting role: in the TV-movie The Alamo: 13 Days to Glory, perhaps a bit of typecasting for a woman born in Mexico and who grew up in San Antonio. She went from there to a soap — General Hospital — and some A-list features, most notably David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive.

Laura Harring in what can't be a comfortable position

Laura Harring on a sofa

Laura Harring on a duvet

Oh, and she got one more addition to her name: Countess von Bismarck-Schönhausen, following her short-lived marriage to Count Carl-Eduard von Bismarck-Schönhausen, great-great-grandson of Otto von Bismarck.

Yeah, she looks like that. (She’s now 54.) Her hair hasn’t always been red.

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Whoa, Nely!

Nelydia Senrose, twenty-four today, is a Malaysian actress with a long list of credits, dating back to the year she turned thirteen with Spa Q and its presumed sequel Spa Qistina.

Nelydia Senrose sort of relaxing

Nelydia Senrose on a stool

Nelydia Senrose goes picnicking

Now and again a Malay drama comes through with an English title; in 2012, for example, Nelydia appeared in one such, called Friday I’m in Love. And then there was this feature film from the following year:

No way am I going to explain the title.

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Pictures of Lily

Lily Adams works the sales floor at AT&T, and almost always makes the sale:

Truly an all-American girl, Lily Adams is portrayed by Milana Vayntrub, born in 1987 in what was then the Uzbek Soviet Socialist Republic; when the Soviet Union began to unravel, Vayntrub and her parents fled, landing somehow in West Hollywood, California. She’s built a name for herself appearing in small TV roles as “Cute Girl in Bar” or “Bad Actress,” but mostly she’s known for being Lily Adams.

Milana Vayntrub is thinking it over

Milana Vayntrub is only slightly disheveled

Milana Vayntrub on a non-red carpet

One of Milana’s specialties, it appears, is playing deceased characters:

But she’s very much alive in her next, um, signature role: Doreen Green, aka Squirrel Girl, in Marvel’s New Warriors, currently being shopped around after a deal with the Freeform network fell through.

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You are summoned by Queen Allura

Mari Blanchard did some things in real life which you might think only happened in the movies. At nine, she was stricken with polio; by twelve, she’d recovered, but she kept up an exercise schedule for many years to follow. At seventeen, she ran away to join the circus. At twenty-five, she was spotted by cartoonist Al Capp (Li’l Abner), who was thus inspired to create Stupefyin’ Jones, so utterly gorgeous that any male who glimpsed her was frozen solid, unable to move. At thirty-four, while shooting She-Devil, she came down with appendicitis; she recovered and finished the film. At forty, she was diagnosed with cancer; she did not recover, but it took seven years for the disease to finish her off.

Mari Blanchard for Photoplay

Mari Blanchard as Queen Allura

Mari Blanchard as barmaid

It seems perhaps unfair that she’s best remembered as Allura, Queen of Venus, in Abbott and Costello Go to Mars, a 1953 epic in which Bud and Lou first land in a place weirder than anywhere else in the solar system: New Orleans during Mardi Gras. There are, it seems, no men on Venus; they’d been banished, um, generations ago. The Queen, though, thinks Lou is sort of cute.

Blanchard even outshines Anita Ekberg, who plays one of Allura’s guards. Identified merely as “Boy”: a nine-year-old Harry Shearer. And not one second of the 77-minute running time takes place on Mars.

Mari Blanchard’s last film role was in the John Wayne vehicle McClintock! (1963); she continued to take television roles until the cancer overwhelmed her. She died in 1970.

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Hall monitoring

So I’m pondering, “If you had to spend the rest of your life handcuffed to a News Babe, which one would you choose?” I would just be grateful to be offered the choice, but I think I’d keep my fingers crossed for Tamron Hall, who, so far as I can tell, knows she’s a News Babe and doesn’t let it interfere with her work.

A Texas girl with a degree from Temple, Tamron worked at a couple of Texas stations before landing a spot at WFLD-TV, the Fox affiliate in Chicago, where she spent a decade doing all manner of news-related stuff before NBC picked her up and stuck her opposite Keith Olbermann on MSNBC, eventually promoting her to the Today Show. She stayed with the Peacock for ten years, departing in 2017, perhaps because the network had developed some bizarre obsession with Fox’s Megyn Kelly, who proved to be much less of a fit at NBC than Hall had been.

Tamron Hall in the Orange Room

Tamron Hall works the color-block technique

Tamron Hall is all packed and ready to go

Tamron Hall with Harvey Weinstein

The chap with Tamron in that last shot is Harvey weinstein; last summer, it was announced that they’d team up on a new talk show, which she would host. But that was before the Weinstain began to spread and Harvey became showbiz persona non grata.

Truth be told, I think she could have dealt with Harvey. In this Today Show clip, Tamron foils a prank by the ever-smarmy Matt Lauer:

Well played, if I say so myself.

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The original Rhumba Girl

Nicolette Larson would have been sixty-six today, and who knows what heights she might have reached? I mean, an almost happy-sounding Neil Young cover? Getting named Best New Female Vocalist by the Academy of Country Music despite not having yet released any country records? And, hey, for a while in the late 1980s, she reportedly was dating “Weird Al” Yankovic. How can you not have a lotta love for someone like that?

Japanese issue of Rhumba Girl by Nicolette Larson

Nicolette Larson wearing something black

Back liner to Nicolette Larson LP All Dressed Up and No Place to Go

Her last pop single, in 1982, was a cover of a Dusty Springfield favorite:

Nicolette died in 1997, her failing liver triggering cerebral edema; it’s said that she was overdoing the combination of Valium and Tylenol PM.

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Who is Silvia?

Another discovery from the Recommended column at YouTube, this is Silvia Cavalca, thirty-five, presenter at the Italian branch of TV shopping channel QVC. I imagine it’s a fairly tough job, since you have to meld the skills of general TV hostess with those of a parts model, with the camera often on your hands or on your shoes.

Silvia Cavalca, Presenter

Silvia Cavalca, Exerciser

Silvia Cavalca, Vision In Satin

And, as is often the case with tough jobs, things can go awry:

Silvia Cavalca, Wardrobe Malfunctioner

But usually things go well, as they did in this shoe-selling segment from last summer:

Somehow I get the idea that she sells a lot of shoes.

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Mayhem, I tell you

Imelda May, then an underage singer in Dublin, was crying to her father about boyfriend issues. Said the old man, in an impeccable example of DadLogic: “Is your heart broken? Excellent. Now you can sing the blues.”

Forty-four today, Imelda May can indeed sing the blues, and almost anything else you toss her way: last time we mentioned her here, she was half of a Les Paul/Mary Ford tribute, with Jeff Beck as Les.

Imelda May at the 2017 Brits

Imelda May is not ready to retire

Imelda May at the Recording Academy

Mayhem was the perhaps inevitable title of her third album, released in 2010. Herewith, the title song:

Last year, she released an album called Life Love Flesh Blood, produced by the redoubtable T Bone Burnett. “Should’ve Been You,” track three, was the third single:

Life Love Flesh Blood is perhaps a narrative of her breakup with husband and occasional musical collaborator Darrel Higham.

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The greatest thing since sliced bread

Pat Hitchcock is ninety today, and she hasn’t done a motion picture in forty years. (That last film — 1978’s Skateboard — was the only role she ever took that didn’t involve her father, Sir Alfred Hitchcock, who’d made his last film, Family Plot, two years before.) She’d spent the 1940s studying acting for the stage, and in 1950 appeared in Sir Alfred’s Stage Fright, playing a jovial acting student named Chubby Bannister. (She was never all that chubby, really.)

Two of her credits were for smallish parts in great films: Strangers on a Train (1951) and Psycho (1960).

Pat Hitchcock in Strangers on a Train

Pat Hitchcock in Psycho

Note the medicine bottle in the second shot: this is Caroline, who has generously offered to share her tranqs with her coworker, played by Janet Leigh.

Pat also did several episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents, starting in 1955 with “Into Thin Air.”

Pat Hitchcock in Into Thin Air

In 1997, she talked to the BBC about Strangers on a Train:

As for our title, it’s a reference to 7 July 1928, the date of Patricia Alma Hitchcock’s birth — and the date the first loaf of sliced bread was sold, in beautiful downtown Chillicothe, Missouri, sliced with a machine invented by Otto Frederick Rohwedder (1880-1960).

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Knees of the business

Mr Wagland here is the Head of Pictures at London’s Evening Standard, and he wasn’t about to call out the Duchess of Sussex:

There was an uproar, of course: Royals simply do not cross their legs in this manner. The Duchess Formerly Known As Meghan Markle quietly redeployed the official gams, and all was well.

And anyway, I know my cue when I hear it:

Meghan Markle in the barber's chair

Meghan Markle on the edge of the sofa

Meghan Markle smiles a lot

And just because, here’s Diana in the same dazzling deployment, on V-J Day 1995:

Princess Diana and the clan

Then again, she wasn’t sitting two spaces from Her Majesty, either.

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Meanwhile in Damascus

Set the clock back to the turn of the century, and you’ll find this:

Upon Hafez al-Assad’s death in 2000, his son Bashar al-Assad was elected as President of Syria. Bashar al-Assad and his wife Asma, a Sunni Muslim born and educated in Britain, initially inspired hopes for democratic reforms. The Damascus Spring, a period of social and political debate, took place between July 2000 and August 2001. The Damascus Spring largely ended in August 2001 with the arrest and imprisonment of ten leading activists who had called for democratic elections and a campaign of civil disobedience.

Nobody has any kind words for Bashar these days. Asma, who studied computer science and French literature at King’s College in London, and who dropped her plans for a Harvard MBA when she married Bashar, is not a whole lot more popular.

Asma al-Assad finds a smile

Asma al-Assad on tour

Asma al-Assad says it's this big

The Syrian First Lady is forty-two, a decade younger than her husband. She’s not allowed in most of the European Union, though she’s retained her British citizenship all these years. And she will stand by her man:

And four years ago, those madcap cutups from She Politico put together two minutes of cheesecake from a series of stills:

Why, yes, I do have rather a lot of Syrians on my family tree. Why do you ask?


Now appearing

A fellow named Tim Wilson once put out a record called “Back When Country Was Ugly,” which contained the line “When no one could compete with Dolly Parton’s wigs / And her boobs wasn’t this damn big.” Not that Dolly’s had work done or anything. But motivated by Wilson’s plaintive wail (“Girls never threw panties at David Allan Coe”), I decided to go through a few of the Parton pix on hand that didn’t seem to emphasize either her coif or her cup size.

Dolly Parton on the phone

Dolly Parton on the love seat

Dolly Parton on the cover of 'Heartbreaker'

Oh, well, I tried.

That last shot is an outtake from the session that produced Heartbreaker, Dolly’s 20th album, circa 1978. The title song, atypically, was written by Carole Bayer Sager:

To complicate matters further, the video is not actually of that song. Blame the Kings of Kopyright.

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Open for Bissyness

Today at the Packard in downtown Oklahoma City, Sports Illustrated swimsuit model Allie Ayers — were this Fark, we’d already be complaining that you’ve gone elsewhere — introduced Bissy Swim.

Meet the lady in question:

Allie Ayers rocks the LBD

Allie Ayers gets lasered

Allie Ayers guards the gate

As for Bissy:

Allie Ayers grew up in the small town of Snyder, Oklahoma, and if you’ve met her, you know it. Allie is proud of her family and her southern upbringing, but her love for country life hasn’t suppressed her big dreams. After moving from Oklahoma to New York City, Allie was chosen from thousands as an Open Call Finalist for the 2018 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue. From Allie’s first audition to her photoshoot in Belize, she loved every minute with SI Swim — but a spot in the magazine isn’t all she’s accomplished this year.

Bissy Swim is Allie’s creation. For years, she designed and sewed her own swimsuits because she couldn’t find suits that fit her body just right. Using her platform as a professional “midi” model, Allie now designs swimsuits to flatter all body sizes.

She’s not kidding about the sizes. There’s an XXS, down toward zero; a C6, if you’re 52-46-56; and every size in between.

For the record, here’s Allie’s audition video for SI:

And maybe this is more fun than being an occupational therapist — though Allie has the college degree for it.

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A short Pier

Okay, that was unkind. Italian actress Pier Angeli, born Anna Maria Pierangeli on this day in 1932, was five feet tall, maybe. Still, she’s gotten short shrift from The Industry; twice this century Hollywood has seen fit to have someone portray her, and both times they were showing the few months she spent as James Dean’s girlfriend. They met while she was filming The Silver Chalice in 1954, and she remembered the affair this way:

We used to go together to the California coast and stay there secretly in a cottage on a beach far away from prying eyes. We’d spend much of our time on the beach, sitting there or fooling around, just like college kids. We would talk about ourselves and our problems, about the movies and acting, about life and life after death. We had a complete understanding of each other. We were like Romeo and Juliet, together and inseparable. Sometimes on the beach we loved each other so much we just wanted to walk together into the sea holding hands because we knew then that we would always be together.

Then again, Pier married singer Vic Damone later than year, and Dean may have been a switch-hitter anyway.

Pier Angeli with The Silver Chalice

Pier Angeli with other works of art

Pier Angeli celebrates 1958

“Anema e core” means “Soul and heart,” more or less, though this 1950 song is not the one you likely know as “Heart and Soul.” Pier recorded the song in 1958 for an album simply called Italia.

And while I’d love to tell you she was celebrating her 86th birthday today, she never made it to forty: in the fall of 1971, she was found dead in her Beverly Hills home, victim of an accidental overdose of barbiturates.

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Originally, I figured that by her 30th birthday, Vanessa Hudgens would be a major star. It hasn’t quite happened that way; after High School Musical and various Disney Channel stuff, she seemed destined for greatness, but now I wonder. Certainly she’s worked hard enough all these years.

Vanessa Hudgens, teen starlet

Vanessa Hudgens surely can't drive like that

Vanessa Hudgens reveals the secret of smoother legs

As a singer, she did manage one gold single. “Sneakernight,” which died at #88 in 2008, wasn’t it:

Due out in August is this silly film:

So maybe her best career move is to the stage, where she’s done good work, most recently a Kennedy Center production of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s In the Heights this past spring:

And she’s still 29 for about six more months.


Without benefit of cast

Last time we looked in on Kira Kosarin — which was, um, yesterday — we snagged a leg shot and left it at that. After agonizing about it all night, I decided that this did her no justice. So here’s Kira, now that The Thundermans has wrapped, in a few different looks:

Kira Kosarin not quite head over heels

Kira Kosarin does a fashion layout

Kira Kosarin at the German version of the Kids' Choice Awards

Who knew there was a German version of the Kids’ Choice Awards?

Kira, all of 20 years old, also has made a record. To be honest, I don’t much like it, but your mileage may vary.

And really, not everyone’s first waxing is great.

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Je m’appelle Barbara

Actually, her name was Monique Andrée Serf; she got “Barbara” from her grandmother in old Odessa. She was born 9 June 1930 in Paris, and went into hiding when the Germans came to town. Eventually she built a reputation as an interpreter of songs by Jacques Brel and Georges Brassens, but stardom eluded her until she began writing her own material.

Barbara in black, as usual

Barbara in black, as usual

Barbara in black, as usual

Cover of Barbara's 1990 album

I am at a loss to explain that last picture, the cover art from Barbara’s 1990 album Gauguin.

One of her early originals was “Dis, quand reviendras-tu?” (“Tell me, when are you coming back?”) from 1962:

Perhaps Barbara’s biggest hit was “L’aigle noir” (“The black eagle”) from 1970. I tend to think of it as a sequel to that earlier song:

She died in 1997 from a respiratory ailment.