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:
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).
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.
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.
Nineteen forty-two. The war, for us, has only just begun; the nylon has not yet been drafted. So we got advertising like this:
Nicely noir-ish, if your tastes ran to that sort of thing.
McCallum and Propper had gone broke in the Thirties, their New York plant in the Elmhurst section of Queens auctioned off, their debts to be paid off at 80 cents on the dollar. George McCallum died in 1942; Leo Propper carried on for a while, but it just wasn’t the same.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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?
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.
What in the name of Alexander Matveevich Poniatoff is going on here?
Ampex, the company founded by Poniatoff in 1944, evidently wanted to sell some recording tape in the United Kingdom, and what better way to do that than to show you some British bird’s backside? The company has since abandoned the recording-tape market, concentrating today on data acquisition and storage for flight, including, by gum, space flight, but Ampex (GB) Limited is still apparently in business.
I don’t have a great deal of experience with Ampex tapes myself; their cassettes were okay, if nothing special, and I never tried out any of their reels. Perhaps it’s just as well.
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.
And, as is often the case with tough jobs, things can go awry:
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.
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.
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.
Sitting on top of a pine-forested hill, the town has views over Beirut, the Mediterranean coast, and the surrounding mountainous area. It attracts Lebanese visitors for day and weekend trips. Broummana also attracts thousands of Arab tourists from the Persian Gulf every summer, eager to escape from the hot and arid climate of the Persian Gulf. The population of Broummana rises to about 60,000 during the summer months, from a low of about 15,000 in winter.
Mayor Pierre Achkar, perhaps aware that mere climate might not be enough to maintain the flow of visitors, often looks for gimmicks. This year, he’s hired an auxiliary police force composed of women in shortish shorts:
You may be sure the men on the force aren’t being asked to dress similarly.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.
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.
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:
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:
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.
One commonplace sight these days is the selfie from here down, usually on the beach or at poolside.
Human anatomy being somewhat standardized, it’s probably true that if you’ve seen one, you’ve seen ’em all. (Then again, as a leg-watcher of long standing, I should at least make the effort to see ’em all, right?) I bring up this one, by actress Kira Kosarin (The Thundermans), mostly for the rueful caption:
I have actual friends who have posted stuff like this on places like Facebook as a way of acknowledging their misfortunes, so it’s not really a Hollywood thing anymore, if it ever was.
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.
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:
Miss A, a K-pop girl group that disbanded late last year, adhered rather strictly to the tropes of the genre: the attitude we used to call “sassy” (“Shut up, boy!”), members who differed in appearance just enough for you to learn their first names, and lots and lots of leg. Their first single, 2010’s “Bad Girl, Good Girl,” exemplified these eternal verities:
In case you happened to miss the gams in question, this was the cover art of their first album, A Class:
I mean, it’s not like you were expecting to see a small Mercedes-Benz here, right? You might even call it ambitious.
Tatum O’Neal has led one of those lives you’d probably think was too improbable for fiction: an Academy Award at the age of ten; a brief relationship with Michael Jackson; a marriage to tennis bad-boy John McEnroe, in which McEnroe eventually got custody of their three children; and TV appearances on everything from Faerie Tale Theatre to Criminal Minds. She’s now 54, but it’s still hard for me to see her apart from her Paper Moon role as a grifter-in-training.
Because I must, a scene from Paper Moon:
And because I can, a clip of Tatum on The Wendy Williams Show this past spring:
Forget sharks — some Florida swimmers recently had a close shave with a close shave.
We are pleased to report none was injured, though tens of thousands of people have been left grossed out and probably scared to return to the water, all because of a video that showed a woman shaving her legs at a public pool.
It all started when the unidentified woman plopped down on the edge of a busy pool. Her feet rested on the steps leading into the water.
As kids frolicked nearby in their inner tubes, the woman pulled out a razor and started shaving her legs.
Riley Keough, twenty-nine today, is, if not the queen of indie film, certainly among the nobility. Her very first role was as Marie Currie: not Marie Curie the scientist, but Marie Currie the kid sister of Cherie Currie in The Runaways. She had a small role in Mad Max: Fury Road, but she is perhaps best known for her work with Steven Soderbergh, including Magic Mike,Logan Lucky, and the lead in his TV series The Girlfriend Experience.
Oh, and just incidentally, she’s Elvis Presley’s eldest grandchild. Not that she’s at all uncomfortable with that:
She’ll appear in four 2018 films, and two (so far) in 2019.
She was born Jeanne Galice in Toulouse, but the world knows her as Jain, a nominally French singer/songwriter who is perhaps better shelved under the vague term “world music,” mostly because she did a lot of that obligatory growing-up stuff a long way from France: Dubai, the Republic of the Congo, and then Abu Dhabi, before returning home and making a career out of all these decidedly unFrench sounds she’d heard.
Jain’s first single, “Come,” aided by a largely surreal music video, made Number One in France, selling about a quarter-million copies, and made noises elsewhere in Europe; the follow-up, “Makeba,” an ode to Miriam Makeba, made more serious sounds and presented more wacky visuals. She began to sell records in Canada and the States. The deeply silly “Dynabeat” might have been my favorite pop tune of 2017.
Yesterday there appeared the not-especially-grammatical “Alright,” along with a loud-looking lyric video. As is Jain’s wont, it’s highly danceable and not enormously cerebral:
She doesn’t really sound like a Frenchwoman in her middle twenties, and maybe that’s the whole idea.
It is an article of faith on the American political right that women on the left are decidedly less attractive. A lot of this is simple “my tribe is better than your tribe”; at least some of it is due to the perceived pastiness of white women high in Democratic Party ranks, most of whom got there by paying dues for several decades. This sort of stereotyping, never especially useful, becomes less so when dealing with younger and/or darker women of a leftist bent, and it may as well be discarded altogether outside the borders of the United States.
Meet Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, born in Morocco forty years ago. At the age of twenty-four, she joined France’s Socialist Party; at thirty, she won her first cantonal election, and thereafter was tapped for various ministerial positions at the parliamentary level.
A “non-practicing” Muslim, she has been married since 2005 to Boris Vallaud, then a classmate at the Paris Institute of Political Studies.
Vallaud-Belkacem was defeated in the 2017 election; she had been serving as Minister of National Education, Higher Education and Research under President François Hollande. (Under President Emmanuel Macron, an ex-Socialist, the one ministry was separated into two.) She says here that she’s taking some time away from French politics, but that she may return.