Monday, June 10, 2013

Deanna and Ozymandias

Welcome to the annual blog post. J It’s slowly turning out that way, isn’t it?

We’ve lost several celebrities and stars so far this year, notably Esther Williams, Annette Funicello and George Beverly Shea, who at age 107 now holds the record for longest-lived celebrity that I know about. (The record was previously shared by Bob Hope and George Burns, who each died at 100.) A lesser-known Christian music artist named Buryl Red passed away earlier this year as well. As the leader of the Centurymen singing group, Red helped create some of their classic recordings, including the “People to People” album, which is one of my favorites. It’s around the top of my “preserve this one no matter what” list. Not to mention my “Re-release this one!” list.

But we also lost one of the most interesting celebrities of the past century – her career is a good example of how unusual fame can be. Deanna Durbin was one of the most popular movie and singing stars of her time. Like her contemporary Judy Garland, she enjoyed incredible success and is credited with helping “save” Universal Studios back in the day. She “had it all” – beauty, great talent and a successful career. But as the years went by, realizing that she wanted a different life, she eventually left Hollywood and lived out the rest of her days overseas with her family.

And when she passed away this year – hardly anyone knew who she was. She isn’t the “household name” that she used to be. Her music is rarely played on the radio, musical tastes having shifted so far downhill in many ways. (When was the last time you heard an operatic voice such as hers?) Her movies are rarely shown; even TCM has not yet done a movie tribute day for her. (Yes, I know they don’t own the rights to her films, but you see my point). I myself probably wouldn’t have heard of her had I not read about her in a movie star book that my family owned.

What does it say about society when someone as successful as Deanna was can pass away with (relatively speaking) few people taking notice? I know it was a long time ago, but one might think that such great success would be remembered. It reminds one of the famous poem “Ozymandias” by Percy Bysshe Shelley – which sadly is something else many don’t know about! It’s definitely worth reading, so here it is:

I met a traveler from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed:
And on the pedestal these words appear:
"My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!"
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

Fame is fading. I think Deanna knew that, and decided that she needed to do what was most important to her rather than try to keep her fame alive forever – as so many of us vainly try to do.
Cemented in history: Read about Deanna’s penny at the Chinese Theater in Hollywood here:

FAME ISN’T EVERYTHING, PART TWO: A few weeks ago I came upon this very interesting article about another favorite female celebrity (sigh, I can see a pattern forming here) of mine – Ally Sheedy. Please read the article, then come back and we’ll talk about it.

There are many good parts, but my favorite has to be this excerpt from an article by Josh Rottenberg from “Us” magazine in 1998.

As a turning point, Sheedy recalls a bike ride (with Demi Moore) in Sycamore Canyon, north of Malibu, in the spring of 1986. Moore had recently visited [Sean] Penn and Madonna, who had married the previous summer, at their home in Malibu. "Demi was talking about Madonna, and she said, 'That's what I want. I want that,"' says Sheedy "I said, `What do you mean? You want all that money?' Demi said, 'It's not just the money It's the power. She has power, and I want power.' It was an illuminating moment for me. I thought I knew her, and I realized I didn't at all. [...]

"The quickest route to power for an actress in Hollywood is to hook yourself up with someone who can put you in a good position and make yourself into a sex object," she says bitterly. The fact that many hold up Moore, like Madonna, as a feminist icon for the way she has pursued and consolidated her power seems to make little difference to Sheedy.

Also, please note, “a very fun punk club that is no more.” J


IN A RUT: Just what you wanted, yet another post about an actress that I like. This post is being written on Paulette Goddard’s birthday, and to celebrate, let’s take a look back at my blog post about “Modern Times”, one of my favorite films:

I’m afraid there won’t be too many more “TCM highlights” posts because (for the moment) I can’t watch TCM. Life has taken me to a new town with some new friends. But I will keep an eye on the schedule just in case something really cool comes on. I think “Mad Monster Party” will be on at one point this month. You don’t want to miss that one.

FORCE TO COME: Speaking of things you don’t want to miss, the Star Wars fan world (I can’t get off of their mailing list) is abuzz with the news of a new trilogy of movies being produced now and set to be released starting in 2015. I “sort of” predicted it. I always felt that the Star Wars franchise was so powerful and lucrative that the lure of money would eventually lead to more films, even without creator George Lucas’ consent. Thankfully, George is still with us and will therefore have a small role in the next few films to be produced. But the “lucrative” part was certainly accurate, with Lucas selling Lucasfilm to the Disney company for more than 4 billion dollars. Frankly, George could have probably held out for more! But like certain people mentioned above, George knows that there are more important things in life than fame and money. I understand that after many years, he is settling down with a new wife.

I admire the Disney company in many ways, but frankly I wish they would not feel the need to buy anything and everything that they think will make money. It makes Disney look greedy, and in a way it “cheapens” the product. There’s room for a lot of talented people in the world, and Disney shouldn’t feel threatened by that.

I look forward to the new Star Wars films, but with an adult’s heart. I only hope they’re pretty good & can do justice to the other two trilogies. I’m certainly looking forward to seeing the old cast again, if only briefly. I’m trying very hard not to mention Carrie (whoops).

Read more of my thoughts on Star Wars here:

BY THE BOOK: Aside from all the moving, my current writing project is taking away just about all of my free blogging time. I’m proud of what I have so far & am actually looking forward to sharing it at some point, but a lot more work needs to be done. Like most beginning authors, I thought the first draft was perfect. But now it has to be written more “for the reader” than just for myself. In these days of Facebook, I think many “personal blogs” like this are kept up for old time’s sake. That’s perfectly fine. If nothing else, we can look back and say, “Did I really write that?”