Monday, October 12, 2015

Actress Blythe Danner

Blythe Danner is a legend, but until recently she'd never been a a big star.

Her memorable performances in movies such as 1776 (she played Thomas Jefferson's wife Martha) and The Great Santini (as the wife of a tough-guy Marine pilot, played by Robert Duvall) were countered by roles in movies that weren't so successful, though not because of her.  Perhaps she was typecast to easily as a wife; she played the wife role (Dina Byrnes) in the 2000 comedy Meet the Parents and its sequels.

In 2015, though, Blythe Danner distinguished herself in I'll See You In My Dreams, about a widowed singer who pursues new friendships and a new relationship and lives live to the fullest. It's gotten her good reviews, and it's been seen as a positive response to ageism, particularly ageism against women. 

Blythe Danner has also made several television movies and appeared in numerous stage productions.  Her daughter is also an actress, I understand.  :-p

Fun fact.  Blythe Danner has actually played Martha Jefferson twice.  She reprised the role in a 1997 TV biography of the third President of the United States.    

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Actress Jamie Chung

Jamie Chung started out as a reality star on MTV's "The Real World."  I don't like to include reality stars on this blog, but in the case of Ms. Chung, a daughter of Korean immigrants to the U.S., I'm happy to make an exception.  Because it turns out she can act! :-D

Although she's done some fluff (I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry), Ms. Chung has shone in more serious roles like in the satirical film Burning Palms, as well as the 2012 independent film Eden, in which she played a girl abducted and forced into prostitution by human traffickers.  On TV, she also plays the warrior Mulan in the ABC fairy-tale series "Once Upon a Time." 

She's also engaged to actor Bryan Greenberg.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Model/actress Laetitia Casta

Don't let the name fool you. She's French. :-D

Laetitia Casta grew up on the Mediterranean island of Corsica, which is Italian culturally but French politically; her father is Corsican, while her mother is from Normandy.  She emerged as a model in the early nineties and did numerous ads for many different clothing brands - as also did a lot of Victoria's Secret catalogs - and appeared in several magazines (including, inevitably, the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue).

She made the transition to acting by first apeparing in Asterix & Obelix Take On Caesar, a live-action film of a popular French comic book, "Asterix & Obelix."  But it was her portrayal of Brigitte Bardot in the Gainsbourg (Vie heroique) that got her taken seriously as an actress, earning her a Cesar award (France's equivalent of an Oscar).

Fun fact:  Ms. Casta was made the model for the statue of the allegorical female figure Marianne, the symbol of France which is duplicated all over France in front of public buildings.  It is an honor few French female icons have received.  Catherine Deneuve was one of them (but then, you probably figured as much). 

Friday, October 2, 2015

Model Karen Bjornson

Karen Bjornson was one of the most visible models of the seventies, thanks largely to the late designer Halston.

Ms. Bjornson, who is from Cincinnati, met Halston after only a month in New York and immediately became his muse.  And fashion buffs? They were all impressed with her Halston dress - the dress she's wearing in the Francesco Scavullo photo above - and they didn't really care about the people that she knew at Elaine's. ;-)

"He was my teacher, my employer, and a great friend," Ms. Bjornson said in 2010.  "I was so green when I started and he really took care of me. He was a funny, kind, and exceptionally talented man."

Karen Bjornson took time off from modeling to raise her daughters, but she re-emerged in the two thousand zeroes to appear in a couple of fashion shows, as well as do a J. Crew assignment.

The photo of Ms. Bjornson below is from 2010, taken by Timothy Greenfield-Sanders.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Actress Cynthia Addai-Robinson

Cynthia Addai-Robinson is a British-born American actress known for her roles in limited-run cable TV series.    

She is best known for her role as the loyal slave Naevia in the Starz television series "Spartacus," set in the days of Roman Republic - before the Empire, before Caesar - about a slave revolt against the Roman government.  But history buffs who concentrate on more recent history know her from her role in the History Channel miniseries "Texas Rising."

In that television production, about the Texan War for Independence against Mexico, she played Emily West, a mixed-race folk heroine believed to have been the lover of Sam Houston, played in this miniseries by Bill Paxton.  West is believed to have been the inspiration of the traditional song :"The Yellow Rose of Texas." 

I have a feeling we'll be seeing more of this English-born rose in times to come.   Maybe even in another TV series about a revolution. :-)    

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The Latest Numbers . . . and An Announcement

Here are the latest statistics showing the top ten posts for this blog, based on statistics kept since May 2010.  Feel free to click on the image.

No real change, but AccuWeather forecaster Stef Davis is still rising.  Possibly with good reason.

As I write this, a hurricane may be headed to New Jersey in a repeat of Sandy in 2012.  That could mean that I spend all of next week in the dark, unable to post here.  I might get in a couple of posts to start the month of October before Monday, October 5, when the storm would likely hit, but if I'm not around for a week and change after that, well, know you know the reason.

Back soon.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

The Beauty of Retrospect, September Actress Edition: Reese Witherspoon

Reese Witherspoon has remained active in the movies since I last featured her on this blog in December 2011.

In fact, she made one of the most rewarding and demanding movies of her career in 2014.  Wild, based on writer Cheryl Strayed's 2012 memoir "Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail," featured Ms. Witherspoon as Cheryl Strayed, documenting the author's hike up the Pacific Crest Trail  from southern California to the Columbia River an effort to find herself and achieve inner peace in the aftermath of her mother's death and her own divorce, as well as to get away from her personal self-destructive behavior.

The film was a success with critics, and it is easily one of Reese Witherspoon's best movies.  This movie is not to be confused with the 2007 survivalist film Into the Wild.

That's it for my retrospectives of famous actresses.  Coming in October - more new subjects. :-) 

Sunday, September 27, 2015

The Beauty of Retrospect, September Actress Edition: Kate Winslet

Kate Winslet has remained active since I last featured her on this blog in June 2010.

The actress, who turns forty in October 2015, is a star of the science-fiction Divergent movie series. She plays Jeanine Matthews, the leader of a superior faction of human beings in a dystopian, futuristic Chicago.  She played the role in the original 2014 Divergent movie and reprised it in Divergent Series: Insurgent, released in 2015.

She also played Adele Wheeler in 2013's Labor Day, where her character is forced to take care of of an escaped convict who fought in Vietnam. 

Thursday, September 24, 2015

The Beauty of Retrospect, September Actress Edition: Hunter Tylo

Hunter Tylo is no longer on the daytime serial "The Bold and the Beautiful," but she's still very much around.

She stars as herself on "Queens of Drama," a scripted reality show following Ms. Tylo and other former soap opera stars as they establish a production company to develop a pilot for a new drama series. The show, which also features "Knots Landing"'s Donna Mills, debuted on the Pop cable channel in the spring of 2015.

Monday, September 21, 2015

The Beauty of Retrospect, September Actress Edition: Meryl Streep

So what has Meryl Streep been doing since I originally featured her in July 2012?

Plenty, actually, though it would be foolish of me to go into detail about everything she's done in the three years or so between my earlier post and this one.

She played Violet Weston, a feisty Oklahoma matriarch dying of cancer, in the family drama August: Osage County, and in August 2015, she caught people's attention in Ricki and the Flash, a Jonathan Demme film in which Ricki, her character, revisits her family after having abandoned them to pursue her dream of becoming a famous rock singer. At the urging of her former husband, Pete (played by Kevin Kline), she returns home to help their daughter through a bad time, and she tries to reconnect with her two sons as well as her daughter.

Meryl Streep shows no signs of slowing down. :-)

Friday, September 18, 2015

The Beauty of Retrospect, September Actress Edition: Elizabeth McGovern

As "Downton Abbey," the British early-twentieth-century-period drama that Americans can't get enough of, approaches its final season, I thought I'd revisit its American star.

The actress, whom I first featured in February 2012, plays the American wife of Robert Crawley, the Earl of Grantham.  Her Jewish heritage and her nouveau riche background causes conflicts with her mother-in-law. 

Elizabeth McGovern's work on "Downton Abbey" has largely taken her away from the movies, but she's had two notable roles this past year.  She plays the mother of an inner-city teacher who unintentionally gets pregnant (played by Cobie Smulders, an earlier honoree on this blog); the teacher bonds with a student who's in the same situation.  Ms. McGovern also played a judge in the drama Woman In Gold, starring Helen Mirren as Maria Altmann, an Austrian Jewish immigrant in Los Angeles who seeks to recover a rare Klimt painting of her aunt stolen by the Nazis in 1938.  It was not much of a coincidence that Woman In Gold was directed by Ms. McGovern's husband, British filmmaker Simon Curtis, but it's still nice to see her still working in the movies.

If you get a chance, be sure to catch Elizabeth McGovern with her band Sadie and the Hotheads, which she leads as the acoustic guitarist, singer and songwriter.  That maxim that actors can't be rock stars?  Don't believe it. :-) 

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

The Beauty of Retrospect, September Actress Edition: Diane Keaton

Diane Keaton has continued her career since I originally featured her in January 2011.

Among the movies she's made since then is 2014's 5 Flights Up, in which she and Morgan Freeman play a couple who have a weekend full of activity while having to consider selling their condo apartment in Brooklyn. 

It's a comedy.

She's also, at this writing, voicing the role of Jenny, the mother of amnesiac clownfish Dory in Finding Dory, the upcoming sequel to Disney/Pixar's Finding Nemo.  

Monday, September 14, 2015

The Beauty of Retrospect, September Actress Edition: Mariel Hemingway, Again

So what has Mariel Hemingway been doing since I last featured her in November 2009?

She played the mother of an American girl who marries a Turk completing his education in the States in the 2010 film Ay Lav Yu, and she narrated Running From Crazy, a sobering documentary about her family's history with mental illness and suicide.  (Her sister Margaux died of an overdose in 1996; their grandfather, the great writer Ernest Hemingway, shot himself in 1961.)  She continues to be active in trying to break the stigma of mental illness.

Sadly, her marriage to writer/director Stephen Crisman ended after 35 years.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

The Beauty of Retrospect, September Actress Edition: Mariel Hemingway

Although I raised the minimum age of my subjects from eighteen to twenty, I thought I'd make an exception for this picture of Mariel Hemingway, taken in 1979 when she was eighteen.  Because I'm four years younger than she, and so I was fourteen when I saw this picture - developing a crush on her as a result. :-D

This photo is from an ad Mariel Hemingway did for Noxzema cold cream, which ran at the same time she was earning rave reviews for her role as Tracy in Woody Allen's Manhattan, a movie that I was too young to see at the time due to its R rating.  Her character was the (much) younger love interest of Allen's Ike Davis.  And I, at fourteen years of age, was smitten with her.  How ironic!  

Well, it's hard not to love Mariel Hemingway, who's taken many an artistic risk in her election of roles and who remains a class act after so many years.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

The Beauty of Retrospect, September Actress Edition: Yaya DaCosta

Yaya DaCosta has continued to be very active since I first featured her in March 2013.

She daringly played Whitney Houston (an earlier honoree on this blog, before her death in 2012) in a biographical TV movie about the late singer, and a four-episode run as April Sexton on NBC's "Chicago Fire," about a Chicago firehouse, has led to her reprisal of that role in a spinoff hospital drama, "Chicago Med," which premieres in November 2015. 

Sunday, September 6, 2015

The Beauty of Retrospect, September Actress Edition: Marion Cotillard

So what has Marion Cotillard been doing since I originally featured her here in March 2008?

Plenty, actually.  :-) The French actress has made several movies both sides of the Atlantic, and her Hollywood movies have won her large audiences.  She played impoverished Polish immigrant Ewa Cybulski in 2013's American drama The Immigrant, set in New York, as well as as Lady Macbeth in an upcoming new version of Shakespeare's Macbeth (directed by Australian filmmaker Justin Kurzel and produced in Britain), but she's also done some popcorn movies; namely, the 2012 Batman movie The Dark Knight Rises, in which she played the villainess Talia al Ghul, and more recently, she voiced the role of Scarlet Overkill in the French version of Minions.

She also played fantasy girl Adriana in 2011's Midnight In Paris, a comedy directed by Woody Allen.  Her fellow French actress Catherine Deneuve must have been incredibly jealous; in 1986, the grande dame of French cinema revealed in an interview that she wanted to work with Woody.  She still hasn't, but Marion Cotillard has. 

Thursday, September 3, 2015

The Beauty of Retrospect, September Actress Edition: Suzy Amis

Suzy Amis, wife of movie director James Cameron, has a new project.  It doesn't involve the movies.

The actress, whom I originally featured on this blog in March 2014, is an active environmentalist and an educator.  In the two thousand zeroes, she helped found the MUSE School, which aims to prepare young people to take care of the planet and each other. This fall (2015), MUSE will become the first school in the country with a lunch program entirely based on plants, and she's active in promoting plant-based food for everyone else.

For more information, go to her Web site. 

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

New Series: The Beauty of Retrospect, September Actress Edition!

I'm still a little ahead of myself in featuring new subjects on this blog, so to get more in line with an average of a hundred pictures a year as this blog nears its ninth anniversary later this month (September 2015) - and reaches a thousand different women by September 2016 - I'm devoting this September to look back at actresses I've featured here before.  Some of them have been featured here recently, while there are some that I haven't revisited for the longest time.

Either way, I can assure you that you're going to enjoy these retrospectives of these lovely thespians.

Back soon with the first post in the series! :-) 

Monday, August 31, 2015

The Beauty of Retrospect: Pam Suthern

This is the first time I've looked at seventies model Pam Suthern since I first featured her in May 2012.

While she did ads for cosmetics brands and the like, she also modeled for clothing ads.  This picture is from an ad for the St. John brand at the old Jacobson's department store chain, and it appeared in the August 1976 issue of the U.S. edition of Vogue.

She has that look that many would call "fierce." :-)

Coming in September - a new retrospective series!  

Thursday, August 27, 2015

The Beauty of Retrospect: Chris Royer and Nancy Dutiel, 1976

How's this for a find? :-D

Although Chris Royer (left) is known today as a Halston muse and Nancy Dutiel is best known as the Lancôme spokesmodel who preceded Isabella Rossellini, they have several other credits in their portfolios.  And in this photo, from an advertisement that appeared in the March 1976 issue of the U.S. edition of Vogue, they appear together.

How much beauty can you stand? :-D  

The ad was for McNamara suits, the text of the ad boasting of the durability of their Du Pont-engineered Dacron polyester fabric.

Better fashion through chemistry?  Aw, heck, Chris Royer and Nancy Dutiel never needed synthetic fabric to look stylish. :-)     

Sunday, August 23, 2015

The Beauty of Retrospect: Maria Hanson

I'm going to devote the rest of August 2015 to more model retrospectives. :-)

I have two more pictures of Swedish model Maria Hanson, whom I last featured in June 2014.  The color photo below is from a 1977 Coty ad, while the black-and-white photo depicts her in closeup.

The black-and-white photo is more stunning, because it brings out the loveliness of her smile as well as that of her piercing eyes. :-) 

Yes, I know she was a Maidenform lingerie model, and i know some of you have been yearning to see examples of that line of her work. Sorry I've been slow to include any of them. I will, eventually. I just haven't started yet.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

The Beauty of Retrospect, Special Post: Debara Bertin, Alternate-Version Photo

Back in March 2013, I showed a very stunning headshot of model Debara Bertin in an early-1980s ad for Revlon's European Collagen Complex cream, taken very close up to emphasize the product's effectiveness.  I wasn't happy with the quality of that version, so I'm posting this much sharper and more vivid version of that same photo that I have since found.

As noted earlier, Debara Bertin, an American model, worked extensively in France, and she appeared in several fashion and beauty ads and publications. 

Monday, August 17, 2015

Actress Constance Zimmer

Constance Zimmer is best known for her portrayal of lawyer Claire Simms on the TV law drama "Boston Legal."

On that show, which ran on ABC from 2004 to 2008 (and also starred James Spader, currently on NBC's "The Blacklist"),  Claire was a savvy lawyer with a penchant for flirting with witnesses.

Ms. Zimmer now plays Quinn King on "UnREAL," a drama about a fictional reality show,  Quinn is the show's executive producer, and she keeps pushing the envelope on this fictional reality drama to make it less reality and more drama. 

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Venezuelan actress Gabriela Spanic

Name any top TV actress in America, and she probably isn't as big here as Gabriela Spanic is in Venezuela.

Ms. Spanic,  who is of Croatian descent on her father's side, is the queen of the telenovela, the Latin American equivalent of a soap opera, in Venezuela.  Staring out as a model, she quickly made it into acting with many lead and supporting television roles.  For four years beginning in 1998, she played twin sisters in the telenovela "La Usurpadora" ("The Usurper"). It was shown in more than 160 countries and became one of most popular telenovelas in Spanish-speaking countries.

Fun fact:  While she played twins on TV, Gabriela Spanic actually has a twin sister - Daniela Spanic. She too is an actress.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Business newswoman Kate Rogers

Kate Rogers is a more recent addition to the CNBC on-air family. :-)

She joined the financial/consumer channel in September 2014, and she covers small-business news and provides stories to CNBC and its sister Web site on a daily basis. She worked as a personal-finance and small-business reporter before joining CNBC as well.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

British actress Rosamund Pike

Rosamund Pike got an incredible amount of favorable attention as the missing wife in the 2014 film adaption of the novel Gone Girl, for which she received an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress.

The British actress first came to people's attention in the James Bond movie Die Another Day but soon defied that rule that Bond girls only go on to become former Bond girls. She soon distinguished herself in movies such as An Education (2009) an Made In Dagenham (2010), both sixties-period films.  She played a con man's girlfriend in the former movie, which was set in 1961, and, in the latter, played a sewing machinist in the upholstery section of the Ford of Europe car factory in Dagenham, England.  The movie was about the 1968 women's strike there that led Parliament in 1970 to pass a law guaranteeing equal pay for women in Britain, a concept Americans still have a problem with.  (American and British attitudes toward pay equality are as different as the Fords made in either country.) 

Ms. Pike more recently played Queen Andromeda in 2012's Wrath of the Titans, and she's played the the title role in a 2010 production of Henrik Ibsen's Hedda Gabler.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Dainsh actress Connie Nielsen

Connie Nielsen, originally from Denmark, became a major star after playing the wife of Roman gladiator Maximus Decimus Meridius (played by Russell  Crowe) in the 2000 movie Gladiator.

She also made a notable impression in the Robin Williams movie One Hour Photo, playing the wife and mother of a family Williams' photo-processor character is fanatically obsessed with.

Ms. Nielsen had broken in to cinema through roles in a few European movies, but it was her role in the 1997 Al Pacino/Keanu Reeves move The Devil's Advocate that led to her international breakthrough.  Having turned fifty in July 2015, she remains active today.

Fun fact: She dated Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich for four years beginning in 2004. 

Monday, August 3, 2015

Cilla Black: 1943-2015

It is with great sadness that I must report the death of one of my earlier subjects on this blog.  British  singer Cilla Black, whom I featured in July 2010 as part of a series devoted to female British singers, died yesterday in Spain at 72.

Black, born Priscilla White in Liverpool, was a friend of the Beatles and was determined to be a professional singer.  She worked as a coat-check girl in Liverpool's Cavern Club to get her foot in the door and ultimately got Brian Epstein to take her on as one of his clients. She gained her stage name when local music writer Bill Harry reviewed her show and misremembered her surname.  She liked "Black" over "White" and so went by "Black."

In addition to recording songs by her good friends John Lennon and Paul McCartney - three of which, "Loved Of the Loved," "It's For You," and Step Inside Love," were given away by the Beatles for her to record - she covered songs from the Righteous Brothers and also did Burt Bacharach tunes.  She never became a big star in the United States like her fellow Britishers Dusty Springfield and Petula Clark did, mainly because she didn't like spending a lot of time away from England.  But she became an institution in the United Kingdom, so much that she was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire.

My post of Cilla Black from July 2010 will remain on this blog, but, as always, I will not be featuring her again going forward, as I do not feature women who are deceased.

As a memorial to her, I offer to my followers this 2015 remaster of the appropriately titled "It's For You." 


Sunday, August 2, 2015

Maye Musk, Model Nutritionist

Maye Musk is a veteran model with an impressive background.

Having been a model since the 1960s, the Canadian-born Mrs. Musk,  currently based in California, has worked and lived all over the world.  A registered dietitian and nutritionist, he runs her own nutrition business, and she's worked closely with various institutions, including hospitals and universities all over the world.

Full disclosure requires me to state that she's one of my Facebook friends from the modeling trade.  Yes, she's the mother of space/auto entrepreneur Elon Musk.  No, I can't get you a good deal on a Tesla. :-P 

Friday, July 31, 2015

Journalist and critic Pia Lindström

Like her half-sister Isabella Rossellini, who followed their mother Ingrid Bergman into an acting career, Pia Lindström tried her hand at films, appearing in the 1965 Italian move The Possessed.  But it turned out that her forte was reviewing movies instead of appearing in them.

The daughter of Ingrid Bergman and neurosurgeon Petter Lindström, Pia Lindström chose to stake out a career as a broadcast journalist, first reporting for KGO-TV in San Francisco in the late sixties.  She eventually made her way to WNBC-TV in New York, where she became an anchorwoman and then a theater and movie correspondent and critic.

Ms. Lindström was fair and impartial as an arts journalist.  She could interview a movie star one day and give negative review to that same star's movie another day if she thought the film deserved it.

Though she left television in 1997, Pia Lindström is still active in media. She hosts "Pia Lindström Presents," a radio show on the Sirius XM satellite network, where she interviews literary figures and film directors. 

I love this woman. She saved me from seeing many a bad movie. :-)