Archive for Stemware

Tyler, four

Once a week, all the Rule 5 stuff from all across the dextrosphere finds its way to Wombat-socho, who puts out a compilation on Sunday, for varying values of “Sunday.” Tyoically, he starts out with an offering of his own, and this past week it was someone you’ve seen here before:

So this weekend, I’ve been decompressing from tax season, doing some catching up with a sister-in-arms I hadn’t seen in 30 years, and watching a lot of TV while doing the first two things. Part of that TV has been the second season of Archer, which is quite possibly the best spoof of James Bond and other spy thrillers out there. One of the main characters of Archer is Lana Kane, super-competent and quite sexy spy who is Archer’s former (and still occasional) girlfriend and frequent mission partner. The voice of Lana is actress Aisha Tyler, who’s rather easy on the eyes herself.

Which, of course, triggered a memory:

[A]n exhibit on the subject of why I’ve got it bad for Aisha Tyler, from her book Swerve: Reckless Observations of a Postmodern Girl, on why doing charity work makes you more interesting:

“The next time you’re out with a bunch of people and they’re all babbling on about how their new SUV came with six cup holders instead of the standard factory-issue four, or how they’re pissed because they couldn’t find a pair of Super Humanity Force Five Superlow Cut Frayed Über-Denim jeans, you can talk about how you spent a weekend building a house for a low-income family and learned how to use a compound mitre saw. In metric. They will be cowed. But they will also be fascinated. Girls will think you’ve got balls, and boys will imagine you with a hammer in your hand, wearing nothing but a utility belt. Everybody wins.”

That was 2004. In the 15 years since, we’ve run a couple of pictures of Ms Tyler, but the last one was 2012. Why not renew an acquaintance?

Aisha Tyler, all dressed up

Aisha Tyler, not dressed at all

Aisha Tyler smiles in the direction of Stephen Colbert

And, from 2010, the last item in “Strange search-engine queries (219)“:

“aisha tyler” “well hung”:  Either this guy has his terms confused, or this is the surprise of the decade.

It’s pretty late in the decade, but I still think I’d be surprised.

Archer ran for seven seasons on FX, and then moved to FXX for two more. So far as I know, there are no plans for an FXXX network.

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My pride and joy, et cetera

Eleanore Whitney was born (as Eleanore Wittenberg) in 1917 in Cleveland, and spent her teenaged years studying dance and appearing in vaudeville. (She was serious about that dance stuff: one of her primary teachers was Bill “Bojangles” Robinson.) By the time she was eighteen, she was deemed ready for the silver screen.

Eleanore Whitney probably should not wear heels on a sled

Eleanore Whitney probably should not wear heels with snowshoes

Eleanore Whitney is just fine wearing heels under a beach umbrella

She did fifteen films in four years, and then abruptly left the industry in 1939 for personal reasons:

News clipping announcing Eleanore Whitney's marriage

And so far as is known, Mr and Mrs Backer lived happily ever after, or at least until death do them part; Eleanore passed away in 1983 at sixty-six.


You must be this tall to watch this skirt

The YouTube channel formerly known as She Politico has mutated into something called “The Sexy Legs of Women in Politics!” And yes, they mean that exclamation point. I’ve followed these guys — I assume they’re guys — for some time, and every now and then they present me with a puzzle. I dialed up Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Donald Trump’s slightly wacky press secretary, and found this notice on the video: “Age-restricted video (based on Community Guidelines)”.

Is someone seeing something here I’m not? I went back through a few recent uploads, and found:

Joanna Mucha, member of parliament from Poland: not restricted.

Libby Schaaf, mayor of Oakland: not restricted.

Kirstjen Nielsen, former Secretary of Homeland Security: not restricted.

Theresa May, Prime Minister of the UK: “Age-restricted video (requested by uploader)”

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Representative from New York: not restricted.

Jacinda Ardem, Prime Minister of New Zealand: not restricted.

Ayelet Shaked, Justice Minister of Israel: not restricted.

Krysten Sinema, Senator from Arizona: “Age-restricted video (based on Community Guidelines)”

What am I missing here? Or is this YouTube just being YouTube?

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Smartly dull

Today, this would more likely be called a matte finish:

A downright cobwebby Kayser hosiery ad

Kayser called this “Gossamer,” and it’s tricky for me to work my mind around the idea of something proudly billed as flimsy sold as a premium product. Then again, it must be conceded that my experience with purchasing women’s unmentionables is decidedly limited.

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Telltale Barkin

Ellen Barkin is sixty-five today, and not counting a brief (and uncredited) bit in Cheech and Chong’s Up in Smoke, she’s been pretty busy for the last 37 years, starting with Barry Levinson’s Diner in 1982. The next year, Bruce Beresford cast her in Tender Mercies, a move that star Robert Duvall later applauded: “She was young and attractive and had a certain sense of edge, a danger to her that was good for that part.”

Ellen Barkin in a roll

Ellen Barkin on the red carpet

Ellen Barkin on a Kawasaki

There’s still a danger to her. This is the trailer from Cam Archer’s Shit Year (2011), in which Barkin plays a fading actress who thinks she’ll find a measure of peace in a cabin in the woods:

There must be some kind of way out of here.

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How this happened I cannot tell

Kate Upton has done three covers for the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue, reason enough to mention her here. And in fact, she’s been mentioned twice in these pages with not so much as a single photo, which of course will not do.

Kate Upton, spectator

She first appeared in SI in 2011, was named their Rookie of the Year, and did the next two covers.

Kate Upton, vision of spring

Before all that swimsuit stuff, she was a nationally-ranked equestrian, placing high in various American Paint Horse Association events.

Kate Upton, nerd

She made her film debut in 2011, in Tower Heist. And before you ask, yes, she can do the dougie:

The Clippers went 32-50 that season, all the more reason to keep the cameras trained on the stands.


Nine individuals later

One does get weary of contemplating “Individual-1,” after all:

Individual 10 by Wolford

Wolford sells these in 15 different shades for $49 a pair.

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A tune to beat the band

Angela Lansbury had been a working actress for over twenty years when she got her first starring role, as Mame Dennis in the musical Mame in 1966. The show ran for two years and won her a Tony Award. I suspect no one had thought of her as a song-and-dance girl; lyricist Jerry Herman had been hoping to get Judy Garland, then 44, but her management apparently thought Judy wasn’t up to it, and the role fell to 42-year-old Angela.

Angela Lansbury in the late 1940s

Angela Lansbury does some leg arts

Angela Lansbury in a publicity photo

Can she sum up a seven-decade career in ten minutes? Let’s see:

Though frankly, I could listen to her all day.

(Number of times I’ve seen Bedknobs and Broomsticks: eleven.)

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No carping

In 2014, 17-year-old Rena Takeda did a photobook called Carp Girl, and the juxtaposition of those two words didn’t quite induce a spit take, but came close enough for me to wonder about the phrase. And it goes like this:

Japan has 12 professional baseball teams. There is a team that placed in the high ranks of NPB (Nippon Professional Baseball) for the first time in 16 years. That is Hiroshima Toyo Carp. Since it is low salary team, they cannot keep the players who declared FA (free agent) in the team. However, people in Hiroshima love Carp. Thanks to their fundraising, it has recovered from team continuation crisis.

In recent years, this team gets new fans. Japanese professional baseball mainly has male fans, and it is natural that citizens support their local team. Originally, there has been a culture that female Carp supporters are called “Carp-girls”. However, “today” Carp-girls means that women with any relation cheer Carp, which is the biggest feature that “Carp-girls” are now interested.

And it would have been nice to catch some photos of Rena doing some, um, Carping, but she was only seventeen, and there are times when I think the Japanese really prefer women in their twenties who look seventeen. So no pix in uniform. Then again:

Rena Takeda with a fan

Rena Takeda on the cover

Rena Takeda sitting around in her underwear

In the 1980s, when I was fooling around with laserdiscs, I acquired a few examples of Japanese sub-erotica, in which the camera lingers lovingly over the body without ever showing you anything even close to being R-rated, to the accompaniment of something vaguely like smooth jazz. Apparently nothing much has changed over the years:

Rena’s first acting job, in 2015, was in a film with the wondrous title Assassination Classroom, successful enough to warrant the production of a sequel.

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Little jewel

Papa John Phillips, known as such by dint of being one of the Mamas and the Papas — to my knowledge, he’s never been in the pizza business — sired five children, of which Bijou Phillips, who turned 39 yesterday, is the youngest. She’s been described as a “wild child,” probably because she quit school at 14 and moved into a Manhattan apartment. She had a brief career as a model, which she apparently didn’t like, and in 1999, at nineteen, she cut an album, I’d Rather Eat Glass.

Bijou Phillips gives you That Look

Bijou Phillips semi-formal

Bijou Phillips dresses down

She sustained an acting career for better than a decade; after a brief stint on Fox’s Raising Hope, she reported that she was going to devote herself to her family and her health. She and Danny Masterson — they were wed in 2011 — have a five-year-old daughter; in 2017, she had a kidney transplant, presumably not because of eating glass.

And from that one album, this was the single, “Wnen I Hated Him (Don’t Tell Me),” which did not chart:

Phillips has co-writer credits on 11 of the 12 songs, including this one, and wrote the last one herself.

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And the wild waters flow

We’re walking in downtown Oklahoma City, and we pause for a moment. “This,” I intoned in the manner of a tour guide who takes himself too seriously, “is Kerr Park, named for Australian supermodel Miranda Kerr.”

“No it isn’t,” came the reply.

Okay, so that scheme wouldn’t have worked. And actually, I know less about Miranda Kerr than I do about some other supermodels, not that this is a particularly high bar.

Australia’s Dolly magazine, a publication for teenage girls, used to have a modeling competition every year, and Miranda won in 1997. The resulting photoshoot was relatively modest, appropriate for a girl who didn’t turn 14 until after its publication, but apparently some people thought it excessively sexy. Said Miranda later:

“In the media at the time they were trying to cling on to anything remotely to do with paedophilia. Dolly is a magazine for teenage girls, not for old men. And I was fully clothed! Doing a winter shoot! They just made something out of nothing.”

Miranda Kerr deploys a lot of leg

Miranda Kerr displays a peace sign

Miranda Kerr disguised as a nerd

Photographer Russell James, on her appeal as a model:

We love her because she has the most incredible girl-next-door look and she’s also insanely beautiful. It means women are not intimidated by her looks and guys think they might be able to talk to her. It’s a fantastic combination … people want to be around her; she’s fun on a shoot … and she’s not stupid, which can be a very annoying trait among some models.

Herewith, a bit of banter with Craig Ferguson:

The guy definitely thought he could talk to her.

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Look for the Union label

Things I did not know about Gabrielle Union:

  • She had a small role in Season 6 of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine as a Klingon.
  • In the 2005 indie film Neo Ned, she played a mental patient who thought she was the reincarnation of Hitler.
  • In 2012, she for some reason drew the attention of TSA agents, who gave her weave a pat-down.

Gabrielle Union in a short dress

Gabrielle Union in an LBD

Gabrielle Union at America's Got Talent

And apparently her anatomy is even more extraordinary than I imagined:

She has said that when she was a girl, she believed that she couldn’t possibly be beautiful because she wasn’t a blonde. Obviously she was wrong.

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Looking at San Fran Nan

I had to think about this for a moment or three: still-decent curvature and nice legs, versus “She’s pushing eighty!” The decision: yeah, all of those are true, and so what? And so we have some recent photos of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, 78 years old and nowhere near retirement.

Nancy Pelosi resplendent in red

Nancy Pelosi visits SiriusXM

Oh, that bit about Nancy as Miss Lube Rack back in the Fifties? It ain’t necessarily so.

Nancy Pelosi resplendent in red on CNN

Nancy Pelosi in burnt orange

This two-minute clip, as of this writing, has 83 upvotes and 82 downvotes. Now there’s a delicate balance:

And I am bound to respect anyone who can give a speech for eight whole hours.

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Where are the Snowdons of yesteryear?

Lisa Snowdon is still around, as fashion models and TV presenters always seem to be. It’s perhaps worth noting that her parents spelled that surname “Snawdon,” with an A; she changed it when she signed with a modeling agency. She hadn’t planned on being a model, but she apparently decided it was better than pole-dancing.

Lisa Snowdon rides that train

Her first television job was on MTV UK; she went on to several medium-profile gigs, including Sir David Frost’s sidekick on Through the Keyhole, and the host of Britain’s Next Top Model.

Lisa Snowdon shaves her legs, presumably not with Guinness

Presumably unrelated to her work, in 2010 she contracted viral meningitis, and after recovering became a fundraiser for research into the disease.

Does this guy have the best job in the world, or what?

Of course, it takes two to tango:

She and her partner finished third on that season of Strictly Come Dancing.

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Whatever will Bea

Aisling Bea scares me. She’s thirty-five (today, actually) and she’s funny and she’s beautiful and she talks very fast and I know I’d be sitting in the audience utterly rapt and I’d be the one person in the crowd she’d never, ever see. Of course, she’s spent half her life on stage and in front of the camera learning every possible way to frighten the likes of me, though that was never what she had intended.

Aisling Bea goes beyond mere sidesaddle

She studied French and philosophy at Trinity College in Dublin. I know of no better way to prepare oneself for doing stand-up comedy.

Aisling Bea takes up the whole damned couch

There’s always room for her on a panel show, be it 8 Out of 10 Cats or Insert Name Here or Duck Quacks Don’t Echo or Never Mind the Buzzcocks.

Aisling Bea a-wearin' o' the green

And she’s likely to say something like this:

When she was three, her father took his own life. In 2017, this is how she responded:

I’m sad you killed yourself, because I really think that, if you could see the life you left behind, you would regret it. You didn’t get to see the Berlin wall fall or Ireland qualify for Italia 90. You didn’t get to see all the encyclopedias that you bought for us to one day “use at university” get squashed into a CD and subsequently the internet. You have never got to hear your younger daughter’s voice — it annoys me sometimes, but it has also said some of the most amazing things when drunk. I think you would have been proud to watch your daughter do standup at the O2 and sad to see my mother watching it on her own. Then again, if you hadn’t died, I probably wouldn’t have been mad enough to become a clown for a living. I am your daughter and I am really fucking funny, just like you. But, unlike you, I’m going to stop being it for five minutes and write our story in the hope that it may help someone who didn’t get to have a box turn up, or who may not feel “in their right mind” right now and needs a reminder to find hope.

As do we all, now and then.

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Double X

Let us dial back to the beginning of Kyle XY, a SF-ish series that ran on ABC Family (now Freeform) starting in 2006. Kyle, as the letters might suggest, is identified as a teenaged boy, who lacks a navel or any memory of where he came from. It seems only fair that there be an XX, and in season two, we met Jessi, a girl with a background similar to Kyle’s, and behold, there’s the obligatory love interest. Jessi was played by Jaimie Alexander, who does indeed appear to be sporting XX chromosomes:

Jaimie Alexander at the 2016 Golden Globes

After Kyle XY ran its course, Alexander materialized as Sif, companion to Thor in a couple of live-action films from the ever-popular Marvel Universe.

Jaimie Alexander showing a bit of leg

On the set of Thor: The Dark World, Alexander took a spill off a metal staircase and missed a month of filming.

Jaimie Alexander draws an interview

While shooting the NBC-TV series Blindspot, playing an amnesiac found wandering around Times Square, she suffered many more injuries, including:

Although she might have been hurt worse by London Fields, which — well, let the Wikipedant tell you:

In its opening weekend, the film grossed $168,575 in the United States from 613 theaters with a per-screen average of $261, becoming the second worst US box office opening for a wide release film of all time.

I wouldn’t pester the production company for a sequel. However, you may, and perhaps should, wish Jaimie Alexander a happy 35th birthday.

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Way ahead of third

Once again, we take our lead from Brian J.:

[WSIE] recently introduced me to Cindy Bradley who sounds a little like later Herb Alpert. She might be the second prettiest trumpeter in the world.

There was no way I was going to let that go by unnoticed:

In other news, Dubai has a jazz festival.

Cindy Bradley plays it loud

Born near Buffalo in 1977, she first studied the piano, but they weren’t teaching piano in grade-school music classes, so she picked up the trumpet.

Cindy Bradley is ready to go

And today, when she’s not recording or touring, she’s teaching band to students in New Jersey.

Cindy Bradley in portrait mode

“Massive Transit” is from her 2011 album Unscripted.

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Two-track mind

I don’t do much with Tumblr these days, mostly because all the nudists were kicked off, but once in a while I find something that addresses the needs of this site, which is why you’re getting a link to “crazy about legs”. As is the case for most of us who spend too much time checking out hemlines, our anonymous blogger has his favorites, and some of them are perhaps a little more obvious than others. There’s lots of Selena Gomez and Chloe Grace Moretz, but scarcely a day goes by that he doesn’t toss up a Taylor Swift pic. Shortly after this dawned on me, I scrolled back three pages, and each page had at least one photo of Tay-Tay. This, I decided, means something, and these were the three, as snagged last night:

Taylor Swift in next to nothing

Taylor Swift lugging awards around

Taylor Swift and squad

The squad member in that third shot is model Karlie Kloss.

Oh, and Taylor is on the cover of the UK edition of Elle (April ’19). Inside, she’s talking about writing songs:

The fun challenge of writing a pop song is squeezing those evocative details into the catchiest melodic cadence you can possibly think of. I thrive on the challenge of sprinkling personal mementos and shreds of reality into a genre of music that is universally known for being, well, universal. You’d think that as pop writers, we’re supposed to be writing songs that everyone can sing along to, so you’d assume they would have to be pretty lyrically generic … AND YET the ones I think cut through the most are actually the most detailed, and I don’t mean in a Shakespearean sonnet type of way, although I love Shakespeare as much as the next girl. Obviously. (See “Love Story,” 2009.)

And if lately she seems deliberately anti-melodic at times, well, look what you made her do. Meanwhile, here’s “Love Story,” set in Verona High School, or some such place:

I need to go through the Swift directory and check for duplicates. Out of 518 items, there almost has to be a few of them.

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At least sort of cute

There are sites where kindly folk like myself will attempt to answer your questions, and it’s disheartening to discover that the majority of those questions boil down to “I did this. How do I escape the consequences?”

Then there was one question I stumbled upon that I wasn’t even close to expecting: “Who is the most beautiful woman in the world?” I decided that the first name I encountered would go into this very slot, and that is why you’re seeing photos of H’Hen Niê, who won Miss Universe Vietnam 2017, and went on to Miss Universe 2018, where she made the semifinals.

H'Hen Niê looking regal

H'Hen Niê staying informed

H'Hen Niê showing some skin

Much was made of her being one of the Rade people of southern Vietnam and northern Cambodia. The Rade are matrilineal: the female line determines descent, and women are the owners of family property.

A brief bio, and some more pictures:

And I fished this out of her Twitter timeline:

“92,” I infer, is her year of birth.

And, said the person on Quora who sang her praises:

[S]he was undoubtedly the most impressive and bravest contestant in the Miss Universe pageant this year. She is compassionate, kind, fierce, courageous, beautiful and inspiring to women all around the world.

I think when you’re a beauty queen, they have to talk about you like that.

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It is, after all, still February

Women of a Certain Age are likely to answer questions like this sensibly:

Well, up to a point, anyway:

The X factor, of course, is that pair of pups.

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Down to earth

Early in 3rd Rock from the Sun, the results of a competition:

Dick: Sally, I want you to observe her, find out what women on this planet do.

Sally: Why can’t Harry do it?

Dick: Because you’re the woman.

Sally: That brings up a very good question: why am I the woman?

Dick: Because you lost.

And so the pseudonymous “Sally Solomon,” a highly trained, decorated, combat specialist and military tactician, became, for purposes of this mission, a woman. And she didn’t much care for it — at first.

Kristen Johnston, an accomplished stage actress, really wanted that part on 3rd Rock, and won two Emmy Awards for her six seasons of work.

Kristen Johnston on the red carpet

She has worked steadily since, most recently in the CBS sitcom Mom.

Kristen Johnston for satellite radio

This latter shot perhaps needs some explanation. Around 1988, still a struggling starlet, so to speak, Johnston did a fashion shoot for Los Angeles magazine; I don’t quite remember what the concept was supposed to have been, but there she is without her head, and still better-looking than, say, Celty Sturluson.

Kristen Johnston from the neck down

In this clip, she explains her role in Mom:

Yeah, she’s put on a few kilograms. She used to drink heavily, but quit; she’s been fighting lupus for the last five years. Life can be like that sometimes.

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Racked with indecision

I think we can safely say that Meg Myles knew what she had and knew how to use it.

Meg Myles on the edge of her seat

Meg Myles with a broken bat

Meg Myles in fishnets

Meg’s Wikipedia page neglects to mention that she recorded three LPs, one of which contains “Phenix City Blues,” which she sang in the 1955 film The Phenix City Story:

She’s long since retired, but she’s still around at age 84.

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Hem but no haw

If at times it seems that girl groups in the K-pop universe are competing to see how much thigh can be revealed in a short time, well, I am not one to complain about such things, and YouTube is cooperating by recommending videos that conform to this stereotype. AOA, which seems to be an abbreviation for “Ace of Angels,” whatever that may mean, put out this jaunty little number in 2014:

Although at the very end, kitteh reminds you what really matters.

“Miniskirt” is just a hair closer to R&B than most K-pop, which I attribute to the presence of composer/producer Brave Brothers (Kang Dong-chul), who is pushing 40 and has had far more musical influences along the way than have the usual aggregations of a half-dozen post-adolescent singers.

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Tuck almost everlasting

Today Jessica Tuck is fifty-six, and she has enough screen credits, big screen or small, to make you wonder how she ever had time to do all that. To pick three not entirely at random: Megan Gordon Harrison, One Life to Live (1988-93, plus ghost guest appearances afterward); Gillian Gray, Judging Amy (1999-2005); Nan Flanagan, True Blood (2008-2011).

Jessica Tuck in a dark corner

Jessica Tuck near but not on the red carpet

Jessica Tuck charms a snake

From deepest 1988, here’s Jessica Tuck in Video Girlfriend, a very short short from 1988:

As Eighties stuff goes, you can’t get a whole lot Eightier than that.

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Knowing when to leave

“The smartest thing anyone can learn,” asserted Burt Bacharach.

With that in mind, let’s look at German tennis pro Annika Beck, born on this day in 1994.

Annika Beck in action

Her professional debut in 2009 was not auspicious, but by 2012 she’d climbed into the list of ranked players, and occasionally she’d make the main draw at a tournament without having to go through a qualifying round. She finished the year near the bottom of the Top 100.

Annika Beck in inaction

She won her first WTA title in 2014, her second the following year. But 2016 was not a particularly good year for Beck, and she began thinking about her next career, which, she decided, would be in the field of medicine.

Annika Beck and friend on the red carpet

Her [translated] announcement on Twitter:

In the Championships at Wimbledon in 2015, she defeated Heather Watson in the first round:

She was still enthusiastic about the game in 2015; three years later, she was gone. Perhaps she knew when to leave.

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Browning evenly

Logan Browning, twenty-nine, has been a working actor for half her life, getting started in Summerland (2004) and Ned’s Declassified School Survival Guide (2005) on Nickelodeon.

Logan Browning at the Do Something Awards

Browning did 106 episodes of Tyler Perry’s Meet the Browns, taking over the role of Brianna Ortiz at the beginning of the second season.

Logan Browning in the spotlight

Her major gig these days has been in the Netflix series Dear White People, in which she plays, um, Samantha White.

Logan Browning in the window

And, she says, female villains need to be something more than just mean girls:

More Browning? Netflix has Richard Shepard’s thriller The Perfection (2018).

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Not even slightly wasted

I suspect relatively few rhythmic gymnasts from the city that used to be Leningrad wound up completing high school in Secaucus, New Jersey. Margarita Levieva, who did exactly that, wound up with a degree in economics from NYU and the urge to act; at twenty-five, she was named one of the 50 Most Beautiful People in New York by New York magazine, and started getting small roles.

Margarita Levieva smiles

If you kept up with the ABC-TV drama Revenge, you’ll remember a character named Emily Thorne. If your next observation is “Wasn’t that Emily VanCamp?” the answer is kinda sorta: “Emily Thorne” turned out to be a vengeful-minded woman named Amanda Clarke; her cellmate in juvie was, um, the real Emily Thorne, played by Margarita Levieva, and now I’m more confused than I was when the series aired.

Margarita Levieva, not quite gone with the wind

Levieva’s most recent project is HBO’s The Deuce, which begins its third and final season later this year; she plays a college student who drifts into activism — and into a relationship with an entrepreneur in the porn business.

Margarita Levieva sort of gardening

In this clip (with fairly terrible audio), she talks about her early days:

She’s thirty-nine today.

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Together forever

It’s hard to imagine anyone in show business who had worse managers than Daisy and Violet Hilton, born on this day in 1908 in England and always sold as a package deal.

The Hilton Sisters in a publicity photo

The sisters were fused at the pelvis and shared the circulatory system, but had their own organs. Separation was considered, but ruled out as possibly fatal.

The Hilton Sisters by the sea

They weren’t technically Hiltons: Kate Skinner, their mother, basically sold them to her boss, Mary Hilton, who took over their training and their exploitation until her death in 1926, when they were handed over to Hilton’s daughter.

The Hilton Sisters meet a couple of guys

Their last semi-decent gig was in Tod Browning’s Freaks in 1932; a second film, Chained for Life (1951) gave them some work in their later years, playing drive-in theaters.

In 1960, following a show in Charlotte, their last manager abandoned them; they spent the rest of their days working in a grocery store. In 1969, a strain of the Hong Kong flu killed them — about three days apart.

Leslie Zemeckis’ 2012 documentary Bound by Flesh tells the girls’ story:

And in case you were wondering, their fingerprints were different.

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Nothing to get hung about

Like perhaps too many Bond girls, Strawberry Fields, played by Gemma Arterton, comes to an unfortunate end. Still, it’s part of the gig, and Quantum of Solace was Arterton’s breakout role, though I have to wonder if maybe it got her typecast early on as Woman To Be Tortured: in The Disappearance of Alice Creed, her titular character is abducted by a couple of sadists and treated just as cruelly as possible without risking an X certificate for the film. She joked later that the film crew kept the ball gag around in case she got overly chatty.

Gemma Arterton takes a seat

Gemma Arterton stretches out

Gemma Arterton gives you That Look

In general, Gemma Arterton comes off as someone to whom Things Happen; when she was born, thirty-three years ago today, it was discovered that she had inherited the family tendency to polydactylism:

In 2018, Arterton starred as Vita Sackville-West in Vita and Virginia, with Elizabeth Debicki as Virginia Woolf. I’m guessing no torture was involved.

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Gangtai style

“Gangtai” is a subset of Chinese pop music, romantic rather than revolutionary, not allowed on the mainland until the middle 1970s, though it flourished in Taiwan and Hong Kong before Beijing decided to let it come across. One of the first actual hits from gangtai was “The Moon Represents My Heart,” sung by several but not truly iconic until Teresa Tang recorded it in 1977.

Teng, born in Taiwan in 1953, got her first record deal at fifteen; five years later, she managed to crack the Japanese market, and recorded material in Cantonese and Mandarin in the expectation that she could do the same in China.

Teresa Teng on stage in the early days

Teresa Teng's Greatest Hits

Teresa Teng's dazzling smile

Beijing decided shortly thereafter that this bourgeois love-song stuff was incompatible with the revolution after all. Red China, however, was not prepared for the black market, and the ban didn’t last long. Unfortunately, neither did Teresa Teng; while on holiday in Thailand in 1995, she suffered a severe asthma attack and died.

“The Moon Represents My Heart” remains a popular-music icon today, covered by famous Pacific Rim singers like, um, Jon Bon Jovi.

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