Archive | Birthdays RSS feed for this section

Lady Gaga’s Birthday

gaga terry richardson bookMarch 28 is Lady Gaga‘s birthday! Lady Gaga is a pop star, fashion icon, and political activist best known for hit singles like “Just Dance,” “Poker Face,” “Bad Romance,” “Born This Way,” and more recently “Applause.”

Lady Gaga was born Stefani Joanne Angelina Germonatta in 1986 in New York City. Her father, Joe Germanotta, was an internet entrepreneur, so Gaga grew up affluently, living on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. When she was younger, she attended New York’s Convent of the Sacred Heart, a private all-girls Roman Catholic school which saw other famous alumni pass through such as socialite Paris Hilton. When Gaga later reminisced of her time at the school, she claims she never fit in and always “felt like a freak.” In spite of this, Gaga had a theatrical high school career in which she starred as the lead in school productions like Guys and Dolls.

The lady’s love affair with music started at the age of 4, when she taught herself how to play piano by ear. By age 13, she had written her first piano ballad, and by 14 she was performing at open mic nights in the city with the accompaniment of her mother. Recognizing her daughter’s talents both academically and musically, Gaga’s mother convinced her to apply for the prestigious Collaborative Arts Project 21 at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. Gaga was one of only twenty-one students to be accepted for early admission to the program when she was 17. While enrolled in the program, Gaga honed her songwriting skills, while also completing other academic essays and projects on art, religion, social issues and politics.

Feeling stifled and as though she could teach herself more about music than the CAP21 program could, Gaga dropped out of school in the middle of her sophomore year, deciding to focus on developing her music career. Her father made an agreement with her to pay her rent for a year while she focused on her creative interests, under the condition that she re-enroll in Tisch if her efforts were unsuccessful. It was during this time that the soon-to-be star took on several different musical endeavors. For a short period of time, she fronted the Stefani Germonatta Band (SGBand), and was scouted for a new project music producer Rob Fusari was working on which required a female vocalist.

Stefani, as she was still then known, began recording with Fusari, and soon her stage name “Lady Gaga” was accidentally coined through an autocorrect texting error made by Fusari when he was trying to type “Radio Ga Ga.” His phone corrected “radio” to “lady.” The hit song by Queen had become the singer’s “theme song” when she entered the studio every day. When Gaga received the text from Fusari, she replied with, “That’s it. Don’t ever call me Stefani again.”

After recording a series of electropop tracks with Fusari, Gaga was signed to Def Jam records, but was dropped a few months later. Devastated by this blow to her musical reputation, Gaga returned to the underground scene of New York City’s Lower East Side which she had previously made a name for herself in with the SGBand. She began performing neo-burlesque go-go dance shows in Lower East Side clubs. She soon befriended and began performing with Lady Starlight, who helped her experiment with wild costuming and helped mold her on-stage persona. The two performed their “Ultimate Pop Burlesque Rockshow” in which they lit cans of hairspray on fire in between Gaga singing pop songs and Starlight spinning heavy metal and glam records at 2007′s Lollapalooza. Their performance received positive reviews and music producer Vincent Herbert quickly signed Gaga to Streamline Records, a subsidiary of Interscope. Gaga soon began working as a songwriter, writing songs for the likes of Britney Spears, Fergie, and New Kids on the Block. Singer-songwriter Akon recognized Gaga’s vocal abilities and signed her to his Interscope label Kon Live.

lady gaga paper dollThroughout 2007 and 2008, Gaga began recording her first album, The Fame. Though slow to start, the album received positive reviews and commercial success. Her debut single, “Just Dance,” was nominated for a Grammy for Best Dance Recording, but lost to Daft Punk’s “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger.” Gaga began developing her own creative team, the Haus of Gaga, based on Andy Warhol‘s Factory. Her second single “Poker Face” experienced even more critical and commercial acclaim, topping singles charts in almost every country.

Gaga supported her new record by touring in Europe and in small gay clubs in the United States, as well as opening for New Kids on the Block during their reunion tour before eventually embarking on her own Fame Ball Tour. While touring for The Fame, she began writing the EP The Fame Monster, which explored the darker side of her new-found fame. From this was born one of her most iconic singles, “Bad Romance.” It was also during this time that she further developed and was both scrutinized and praised for her highly eccentric and avant-garde fashion choices. She embarked on The Monster Ball World Tour in 2009, and performed sold-out shows to audiences across the world until 2011. The tour grossed over $227 million, and became one of the highest-grossing and critically acclaimed tours of all time, producing an HBO documentary of her Madison Square Garden performance which won several Emmy awards.

2011 also saw the release of Gaga’s next album, Born This Way. Though it received more critical reviews because of it’s reference to religion, sexuality, and politics in many songs, Born This Way still sold over 1 million copies in its first week in the United States and received three Grammy nominations. Scheduled to go on another two-year world tour, Gaga’s Born This Way Ball was cut short when she injured herself too badly to perform anymore and underwent surgery.

Her injury did not set her back however, and she began working on her next album, Artpop, which was released in November 2013. Gaga has already had two hit singles from the album, “Applause” and “Do What U Want” featuring R. Kelly. She is planning her next world tour, and also made her silver screen debut in Robert Rodriguez’s Machete Kills, though the film did not receive much positive press. The pop star is slated to make another appearance in Rodriguez’s next Sin City film, and is working on a jazz album with Tony Bennett. Gaga is also going to perform the first ever concert in space as part of a three-day music festival called Zero G Colony.

Though she started out playing small shows in New York City’s underground arena, Gaga has risen to a level of international stardom few have achieved.

Sources: IMDB, Biography.com, Wikipedia

Read full storyComments { 0 }

Alexander McQueen’s Birthday

scan02.tifOn March 17, 1969, British fashion designer Alexander McQueen was born.

McQueen was the youngest of six children born to taxi driver Ronald McQueen and social science teacher Joyce McQueen in Lewisham, London. While in primary school, McQueen began making dresses for his three sisters and announced his intentions to eventually become a fashion designer. At age 16, he dropped out of school and began working on Savile Row, a famous area of London well-known for offering shoppers made-to-order men’s suits. After working for a few different tailors, McQueen finally moved to Savile Row to further develop his career in fashion. He eventually began working for costume designers Angels and Bermans and developed the theatrical and extravagant style he later became known for.

The blossoming designer moved to Milan for a short period of time and worked for designer Romeo Gigli. In 1994, he returned to London and enrolled in Central Saint Martin’s College of Art & Design, from which he received a masters degree in fashion design. His final school collection was inspired by Jack the Ripper and bought in its entirety by eccentric London stylist Isabella Blow. She has been credited with “discovering” McQueen and bringing him into the public eye.

His women’s designs became popular, with his pieces like “bumster” pants (pants with an extremely low-cut waistline) receiving considerable recognition. Shortly after graduating, he was appointed the Chief Designer for Louis Vuitton-owned haute couture house, Givenchy. McQueen worked for the house from 1996-2001, often pushing the limits of what people expected of the house and of the world of high fashion in general. His rebellious nature led to controversy. One famous incident was when McQueen used an amputee model in a Givenchy runway show, who walked down the catwalk with intricately carved wooden legs. Although he felt as though his talents were being held back, McQueen won British Designer of the Year in 1996, 1997, and 2001 – all during his time at Givenchy.

Pieces from McQueen's Fall/Winter 2006 collection.

Pieces from McQueen’s Fall/Winter 2006 collection.

With his full potential yet to be untapped, McQueen was able to strike out on his own when Gucci bought a 51 percent stake in McQueen’s private company in 2000. He left Givenchy the next year when his contract with the house ended. McQueen was honored with British Designer of the Year once more and was named International Designer of the Year in 2003 by the Council of Fashion Designers of America. He opened stores in New York, Milan, Las Vegas, London, and Los Angeles, and his success skyrocketed even more with production of his fantastical and spectacular runway shows. One of his most famous shows was for his 2006 Fall/Winter line which included an ethereal floating hologram of model Kate Moss.

Although he celebrated incredible success and achievement in the fashion industry, McQueen began to suffer from depression after his long-time friend Isabella Blow committed suicide and his mother died of cancer two years later. Haunted by the deaths of these two important figures in his life, McQueen was found dead in his apartment after an apparent suicide.

McQueen’s story is one admired by many, as he came from a lower-class family and skyrocketed himself into international fame. His remarkable designs and runway shows have inspired designers all over the world, and his fashions are worn by many celebrity patrons to this day including the likes of Lady Gaga, Sarah Jessica Parker, Rihanna and more.

Sources: Biography.com, Wikipedia, The Biography Channel

Read full storyComments { 0 }

Albert Einstein’s Birthday

einstein tongueOn March 14, 1879, Albert Einstein was born at at Ulm, in Württemberg, Germany. Einstein is a theoretical physicist best known for developing the general theory of relativity which is known as one of the two pillars of modern physics.

Einstein was born into a non-practicing Jewish family. His father was a salesman and engineer who founded a company which manufactured electrical equipment and his mother was a housewife. The future physicist attended elementary school in Munich, where he excelled in his studies. He took up violin, and although he was very bright, he had a hard time dealing with the incredibly strict Prussian education he received at school. He also struggled with speech problems. His slow cadence caused him to pause often while speaking to think about what he was going to say next. When he was older, Einstein made note of two events in his childhood that were of significant importance. The first was at age five when he was shown a compass for the first time and was intrigued by the invisible forces that moved the needle. The second was at age 12 when he found a geometry booked and studied it thoroughly.

In the following years, Einstein fell under the tutelage of a family friend and Polish medical student, Max Talmud. Talmud introduced Einstein to more advanced philosophy and mathematics, and Einstein based his first scientific paper, “The Investigation of the State of Aether in Magnetic Fields,” on his findings in a book about light beams and electricity given to him by Talmud.

When his family’s business began to fail in Munich, they moved to Italy, but Einstein was left behind to finish school. Because of his age he was likely to be drafted soon, so he used a doctor’s note to excuse himself from school and followed his family to Italy. His parents became deeply concerned that he would have no employable skills without a formal education, and would possibly face problems for also dodging the draft. Luckily, he was able to enroll in the Swiss Federal Polytechnic School in Zürich, Switzerland as long as he finished his high school education in Switzerland, which he did at age 17.

Einstein liked to study alone while he was in school, and this preference caused him to skip classes and gain unfavorable recognition from some of his professors. One professor he asked for a letter of recommendation wrote such terrible things about Einstein that he was turned down from every academic job he applied for. Because of this and because of his parent’s disapproval of her, Einstein was not able to marry the woman he was in love with, Mileva Maric, for fear that he would not be able to take care of their family life. Luckily, he was able to find a job as a clerk in a patent office, and his father gave Einstein his approval to marry Maric before he died. The two married in 1903, and they had two children together.

While working in the patent office, he had a revelation. One of his jobs was to evaluate patent applications for electromagnetic devices. He began to think deeply on the transmission of electrical signals and electrical-mechanical synchronization. Einstein had studied physicist James Maxwell’s electromagnetic theories on the nature of light, and discovered something even Maxwell hadn’t – that the speed of light remained constant. This thought violated Isaac Newton’s laws of motion and led to Einstein to form the principle of relativity.

einstein backgammon1905 is known as Einstein’s “miracle year.” This is the year when he submitted his doctorate paper and had four papers published in a well-known physics journal. These papers’ subjects were the photoelectric effect, Brownian motion, special relativity, and the equivalence of matter and energy. These papers dramatically shaped the course of modern physics and brought Einstein into light in the academic world. “The world’s most famous equation” was first brought up in Einstein’s paper on matter and energy. It foreshadowed the development of nuclear power by suggesting that tiny particles of matter could be converted into huge amounts of energy.

His papers were mostly ignored until he was commended by influential physicist of his generation and founder of quantum theory, Max Planck. He then began receiving invitations to give lectures and was offered positions at many prestigious schools. He accepted a position as the director of the Institute for Physics at the University of Berlin, a position which he held from 1913-1933. His busy schedule took a toll on his marriage and he began having an affair with his cousin, Elsa Löwenthal, who he eventually married. He promised Maric the money he would receive from winning the Nobel Prize, if he ever achieved that honor.

In 1915, Einstein completed his masterpiece – the general theory of relativity. In 1921, he received word that he had been awarded the Nobel Prize, but because relativity was still a controversial topic, he received the award for his explanation of the photoelectric effect.

His world travels became even more extensive and he traveled to countries like Sri Lanka and Japan. Everywhere he lectured, he was greeted like a rock star, with massive crowds gathering to hear him speak. As World War II began and Nazism was prevalent, he moved to the United States to spread pacifism, but also to urge President Roosevelt to begin nuclear bomb construction to beat the Germans to the task. This decision was something he later regretted because of nuclear weapons’ great capacity for destruction.

Einstein became a United States citizen in 1940 and began teaching at Princeton University. He was known during the time for his staunch criticism of racism, stating that it was America’s “worst disease.”

His legacy was so great that even after his death in 1955 at the age of 76, Einstein’s brain was removed by the pathologist to try to understand what made him so intelligent.

Sources: The Telegraph, Biography.com, Wikipedia

Read full storyComments { 0 }

Michelangelo’s Birthday

michelangelofaceItalian Renaissance painter, Michelangelo, was born on March 6, 1475 in Caprese, Italy. Considered one of the greatest artists of all time and an influential figure in the development of Western art, and he is probably best known for his sculptures Pietà and David and for his remarkable painting of the ceiling and altar of the Sistine Chapel in Rome.

Michelangelo was born Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni to small-scale banker and magistrate Leonardo di Buonarrota Simoni and Francesca Neri. He was the second of five sons born to the couple. As with most prodigy-like artists, Michelangelo took an interest in painting, drawing, and other forms of art at an early age as he watched painters at nearby churches. Early Michelangelo biographers claim that Francesco Granacci, one of Michelangelo’s grammar school friends introduced Michelangelo to painter Domenico Ghirlandaio. Not blind to Michelangelo’s disinterest in regular schooling and the potential takeover of their family’s financial business, Michelangelo’s father sent him to apprentice under Ghirlandaio. He learned fresco painting during his time apprenticing with Ghirlandaio, who was a master of the technique.

In 1489, Ghirlandaio was asked by the de facto ruler of Florence, Lorenzo de’ Medici, to present his two best pupils. At age 14, Michelangelo was sent to study classical sculpting techniques and philosophy at the Humanist academy at the Medici gardens. He gained access to Florence’s social elite and was exposed to some of the greatest artists, writers, and philosophers of the time. He also was granted permission by the Catholic Church to study cadavers and gain insight into human anatomy. These years of study greatly contributed to Michelangelo’s style which combined a precise realism with a lyrical beauty. The only two works that have survived from this time in Michelangelo’s life are  Madonna of the Steps and Battle of the Centaurswhich show his exceptional talent even in his teen years.

After moving to Rome in 1498, a still young Michelangelo began to work under the wing of Cardinal Jean Bilhères de Lagraulas. The cardinal commissioned him to do what would become known as one of his greatest pieces, PietàPiet means “pity” or “compassion,” and the sculpture was a six-foot wide and six-foot tall piece of marble carved into the shape of Mary cradling a dead Jesus in her lap. Michelangelo finished the piece in less than a year when he was only 25 years old. It was erected in the church which contained the cardinal’s tomb, and has since been moved five times and now rests at St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City. This work is the only of Michelangelo’s that bears his name, as he carved it on the sash Mary wears after hearing spectators attribute the work to another artist.

Michelangelo became well known for Pietà, and was commissioned to finish the work of two other artists who had failed to complete a statue of David. He sculpted a strong, yet vulnerable figure from 17 feet of marble, and the Statue of David became a symbol of Florentine pride and freedom. It is one of the most renowned works of the Renaissance.

Pope Julius II invited Michelangelo back to Rome in 1505 to build a series of sculptures that would be part of the pope’s tomb. This project was interrupted when the pope asked Michelangelo to begin painting the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Originally commissioned to paint the Twelve Apostles on the ceiling, Michelangelo asked for more freedom in his work and began painting complex scenes representing representing the Creation, the Fall of Man, the Promise of Salvation through the prophets, and the genealogy of Christ. When finished, the ceiling included over 300 figures. After firing all his assistants and finishing the 65-foot ceiling himself, he revealed his work on October 31, 1512. Michelangelo returned to working on the tomb of Pope Julius II over the next few decades, but never completed the project.

michelangelo2Painting the Sistine Chapel took a great physical toll on Michelangelo, and he began to focus on architecture. He was at the head of several projects including the Medici Chapel and the Laurentian Library, though his greatest was probably St. Peter’s Basilica, which he became chief architect for in 1546. He dealt with many conflicts later in life, including backlash after creating the large fresco in the Sistine Chapel, Last Judgement, which included several nude figures thought inappropriate for such a holy place.

Due to his harsh personality and short temper, Michelangelo had rocky relationships with most people he encountered, especially his superiors. He turned to writing as a way to express his melancholy and other feelings about his mostly solitary life. He composed hundreds of poems, sonnets, and other literary works towards the end of his life.

Michelangelo died in 1564 at age 88 in Rome after suffering a short illness. By his request, he was buried in Florence at the Basilica di Santa Croce, and Florentines revered him as the “father and master of all arts” at the time of his death. He is one of the lucky few artists who became wealthy and famous during his lifetime and saw two biographies about him completed. Along with Leonardo da Vinci and Raphael, his name has become synonymous with the Florentine High Renaissance, and his life’s work remains legendary.

Sources: Biography.com, Wikipedia, Michelangelo Gallery

Read full storyComments Off

Justin Bieber’s Birthday and GIVEAWAY

justin bieber wall calendarMarch 1 is Justin Bieber‘s birthday! Bieber is a pop musician, dancer and actor. He is most well known for his teen heartthrob status and for his songs “One Time” and “Baby,” which is the second most viewed video on YouTube.

Bieber was born to a single mother on March 1, 1994 in Stratford, Ontario, Canada. His interest in music started at a young age when he was gifted a drum set by his mother. At the age of 12, he participated in a talent competition at his school, coming in second. Bieber and his mother began uploading videos to YouTube of him singing and performing on various musical instruments shortly after to share with his friends and family. After just a few months, his YouTube channel started gaining a considerable fan base, and Bieber attracted the attention of former marketing executive, Scooter Braun. Braun contacted Bieber’s mother, and Bieber was flown to Atlanta, Georgia to begin recording demos when he was 13.

While in Atlanta, Braun set up a meeting between Bieber and R&B recording artist, Usher. Usher was impressed by Bieber’s prodigy-like talent and signed him to Raymond Braun Media Group (RBMG), and then to an Island Records recording contract. It has been reported that Justin Timberlake had also wanted to sign Bieber, but lost a bidding war against Usher. Usher made the young musician his protégé, and he released his debut extended play, My World, in 2009, which went platinum in the United States. Seven songs from his debut album charted on the Billboard Hot 100, making him the first artist to accomplish this feat. In 2010, he released his first full-length studio album, My World 2.0, featuring 10 new songs for his already large and growing fan base.

After embarking on a successful world tour, Bieber released his documentary biopic called Never Say Never, and fans flocked to see their favorite pop star on the big screen. The concert documentary earned $73 million at the box office, and featured guest appearances by fellow musicians Usher, Miley Cyrus, Katy Perry, and more. He then recorded a number one holiday album titled Under the Mistletoe in 2011.

justin bieber comp book

The pop star released his third full-length studio album Believe, featuring the hit song “Boyfriend” in 2012. It debuted at number one on the Billboard 200. Though Bieber’s image has been somewhat tarnished throughout the years due to various public scandals, his fanbase of “Beliebers” grows daily, and it is reported that he gains 24,00o Twitter followers every day. He is currently second in Twitter followers only to Katy Perry. He has won and been nominated for a plethora of awards including Artist of the Year at the 2010 and 2012 American Music Awards, and Best New Artist and Best Pop Vocal Album at the Grammy Awards. Forbes named him the third most powerful celebrity in 2012, and he earns an estimated $55 million per year.

Happy birthday, Justin Bieber!

Sources: Biography.com, IMDB, Hollywood Life, ACESHOWBIZ, Wikipedia

Read full storyComments Off

Ansel Adams’ Birthday

ansel adamsAmerican landscape photographer and environmentalist, Ansel Adams, was born on February 20, 1902. He became well-known for his large detailed monochrome images of nature, especially photographs from Yosemite National Park in California.

Born in San Francisco, Adams was mostly home schooled as a child after being kicked out of several schools due to his bad behavior. Adams’ first creative passion was the piano, and at age 14, he began to discover his love for photography after a trip to Yosemite National Park. His love turned to obsession and a discovery of his life’s work. He attended camera clubs, poured over photography magazines, and studied darkroom techniques. In the 1920s, he began developing and selling his snapshots in the Yosemite Valley at Best Studio. He married the owner’s daughter, Virginia Best, who inherited the studio when her father died. Adams helped run the studio until 1971, and it was renamed Ansel Adams Gallery.

After publishing Parmelian Prints of the High Sierrashis first portfolio, Adams began to gain considerable fame. The portfolio contained one of his most famous images, “Monolith, the Face of Half Dome,” and he was hired for many commercial assignments following his portfolio’s publication. He became the first person to produce a commissioned photographic portrait of a photographer when he was hired to take President Jimmy Carter‘s portrait. Adams dabbled in many different photography techniques ranging from soft-focus images to etching, but over time his style developed into detailed close-ups and large-format photographs, recognized for their stark contrast and intense exposure.

ansel adams2The photographer had close relationships with other artists including Alfred Stieglitz, Georgia O’Keeffe and Paul Strand. As a member of the environmental preservation organization, the Sierra Club, since age 17, Adams was known for his environmentalism and worked with photographers Dorthea Lange and Walker Evans on creating social and political change through art. He produced photo essays to advocate wilderness protection, especially in Yosemite, and wartime injustice through his photographs of WWII Japanese internment camps. In 1946, he photographed every national park in the United States as part of his Guggenheim Fellowship. He also helped to found what is one of the most popular photography magazines, Aperture.

As photography transformed into a more greatly appreciated art form, Adams began showing his work in galleries more often, and presented a photographic retrospective at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1974. His photographs were in such high demand, that he spent most of his time in the late ’70s printing negatives of his previous work.

In 1984, Adams suffered a heart attack and died in Monterey, California at the age of 82.

Adams has inspired many modern-day photographers with the visualization techniques he used in producing images. He would imagine the image he wanted to create in his “mind’s eye,” and use this meditative state to create his photographs. One of Adams’ favorite Gaelic quotes and words he lived by were, “I know that I am one with beauty and that my comrades are one. Let our souls be mountains, let our spirits be stars, let our hearts be worlds.”

Sources: Biography.com, Huffington Post, Wikipedia

 

Read full storyComments { 0 }

Taylor Lautner’s Birthday

taylor_lautner300February 11 is Taylor Lautner’s birthday! The actor is best known for his role as Jacob Black in the Twilight film series.

Lautner was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan in 1992, and began practicing karate heavily at the age of six. Within just one year, he was winning tournaments. After meeting the found of  Xtreme Martial Arts,  Michael Chaturantabut, he attended one of his karate camps and trained with him for the next several years. He received a black belt at the age of eight and won several junior world championships. Chaturantabut, who played the Blue Ranger in Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescueconvinced Lautner to try out a career in acting. Lautner was already very active in many extracurricular activities at school, so he often flew back and forth from Michigan to Los Angeles for auditions before his family finally relocated to California.

After a string of minor television roles and voiceover work, Lautner landed his breakthrough role as Shark Boy in Robert Rodriguez’s The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl 3-DFor three months, he lived in Austin, Texas while filming the movie. Three years later, in 2008, Lautner was pushed by his agent to go to an open casting call in Portland for the first screen adaptation of the widely popular Twilight series. The young actor auditioned for the role of Jacob Black, the Native American friend of the lead character, Bella Swan. With no knowledge of the series or the character, Lautner went into the audition and read lines with Kristen Stewart, who had already been cast in the role of Bella. He landed the role, not knowing that it would quickly propel him into celebrity status.

twilight calendarThe Twilight saga followed a love triangle between three characters – Bella, a human, Edward, a vampire, and Jacob (portrayed by Lautner), a werewolf. Though it was not given favorable reviews by critics, the movie was a commercial success due to its cult following, grossing $392 million worldwide. The adaptation of the second film was immediately picked up, though the director was hesitant to recast Lautner in the second film because of the major physical changes his character went to between the first and second part of the saga. To avoid being recast, Lautner gained almost 30 pounds of muscle to get himself into proper shape. He went on to star in the following four Twilight movies, which grossed a total of $3 billion worldwide. His role as Jacob Black built up a significant fanbase with people of all ages rooting for “Team Jacob.”

Lautner has taken on a few other projects including roles in romantic comedy Valentine’s Day, action flick Abduction, and comedy Grown Ups 2, though none have been as commercially successful as the Twilight series. Voted as one of People’s “100 Most Beautiful People” in 2009, Lautner has also been romantically linked to other young celebrities like Taylor Swift and Selena Gomez. In his spare time, he roots for some of his favorite sports teams like the University of Texas Longhorns and University of Michigan Wolverines and has been known to make home movies with his Shark Boy co-star, Taylor Dooley.

Happy birthday, Taylor!

Sources: IMDB, Wikipedia, Biography.com

Read full storyComments { 0 }

James Dean’s Birthday

james dean1On February 8, 1931, James Dean, the “forever young” actor who appeared in films East of Eden and Rebel Without a Cause, was born.

Dean began his life in Marion, Indiana, born to Winton Dean and Mildred Wilson. Dean’s father, who was originally a farmer, moved to California to become a dentist, and six years later, Dean’s family joined his father in Santa Monica, California. Dean had a very close relationship with his mother, who some said was the only person capable of understanding him. When Dean was only nine years old, his mother started experiencing stomach pains and soon after died of uterine cancer. His father doubted his abilities to take care of his young son alone, and sent Dean to live with his Quaker aunt and uncle on a farm in Fairmont, Indiana.

During his struggling adolescent time, Dean looked to Rev. James DeWeerd, a local Methodist pastor, for advice and friendship. It is thought that DeWeerd had a major influence on some of Dean’s interests later in life like bullfighting, car racing, and theater. After graduating high school, Dean moved back to California where he studied law at Santa Monica College, but quickly switched to the University of California, Los Angeles to pursue a degree in theater. He was picked from a group of 350 other actors to play the part of Malcolm in Macbeth, and after just this one stage performance, he dropped out of college to take on a career in acting full-time.

The newbie actor made his first television appearance in a commercial for Pepsi, and earned a speaking part in Sailor Beware, alongside Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin. He was convinced to move to New York City in 1951 to further pursue his career by his then mentor, Roger Brackett. His career began to take off after he was accepted into the Actor’s Studio under the tutelage of Lee Strasberg. A series of performances in episodes of television shows like Kraft Television Theatre and Robert Montgomery Presents began to make Dean a recognizable force in the acting world.

james dean 2In 1953, director Elia Kazan was searching for someone to fill the role of the emotionally complex ’Cal Trask’ in a screenplay adaptation of East of Eden by John Steinbeck. After Steinbeck met Dean, he thought the young actor was perfect for the role and he was immediately cast. Probably his most prominent film portrayal was that of the misunderstood teenager, Jim Stark, in Rebel Without a Cause. This role instilled him in the heart of American youths as a cultural icon of teenage disillusionment.

His last film was Giant, which he scooped up a supporting role for as an oil-rich Texan alongside Elizabeth Taylor and Rock Hudson. On September 30, 1955, Dean, who was a non-professional car racer on the side, took his new Porsche 55 Spyder out to a race with his mechanic, Rolf Wütherich. On the way to the race, he received a speeding ticket, and not much later he was involved in a deadly head-on collision with a 23-year-old Cal Poly student. Dean’s car flipped in the air, and he and Wütherich were killed almost immediately.

After his death, Dean was nominated for two Oscars for his work in Rebel Without a Cause and Giant. He became the first actor to receive a nomination posthumously and the only actor to receive two nominations posthumously in history. Because of his death at the age of 24, he remains one of those celebrities who will be viewed as forever young, and his cinematic impact on American teens lives on through today.

Sources: Biography.com, Wikipedia, The Biography Channel

 

Read full storyComments { 0 }

Oprah’s Birthday

Oprah_WinfreyJanuary 29 is Oprah Winfrey’s birthday! Winfrey is a media mogul, actress, philanthropist, and producer, who is best known for her talk show, The Oprah Winfrey Show. The show ran for 25 seasons, won multiple awards, and is credited with popularizing confessional media.

In 1954, Winfrey was born in a rural town in Mississippi, and lived an impoverished childhood with her grandmother until her mother moved her to inner-city Milwaukee at the age of 6. Winfrey has stated that she suffered sexual abuse from her male family members and her mother’s male friends when she was younger. She eventually moved to Nashville to live with her supposed father who was a barber turned businessman.

Winfrey’s father, Vernon, put an emphasis on her education, and she became an honor student, eventually receiving a full scholarship to Tennessee State University. Around this time, she began reporting news for a local black radio station, and soon became the youngest and first black female anchor on  Nashville’s WLAC-TV. After moving to Baltimore in 1976 to co-anchor the six o’ clock news, she was hired on as a co-host for Baltimore’s TV chat show, People are Talking.

It was after a move to Chicago to host AM Chicago, a morning show with low ratings, that Winfrey began to take the televised talk show world by storm. She brought the show from last to first in ratings, passing up former leader Phil Donahue‘s talk show. Because of her bold and open personality, she gained hundreds of thousands of viewers, and was cast in Steven Spielberg’s The Color Purple in 1985. She received an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress for her role, and the next year was given her own hour-long syndicated talk show named The Oprah Winfrey Show. The show’s syndication allowed it to be on 120 channels, gaining a whopping 10 million loyal viewers. In its first year, the show made $125 million, $30 million of which went to Winfrey. In order to gain ownership of her program from ABC, Winfrey started her own production company called Harpo Productions (Oprah spelled backwards). This move meant Winfrey would make even more from the continued syndication of her show.

During the early years of her show, it was dubbed as tabloid television. Not wanting to be associated with other gossipy and “trashy” television shows, Winfrey shifted the topics of her show and began reporting on a wider range of topics including health, geopolitics, spirituality, and celebrities who were involved in social issues. At first, her ratings suffered, but the respect she earned from her decision to avoid tabloid topics gained her popularity, and her viewership steadily increased.

Winfrey’s opinions and endorsements have proven to have a huge influence on public opinion. Her launch of “Oprah’s Book Club,” has had a significant impact on the publishing industry. After her successful weight loss efforts, Winfrey’s personal chef and trainer both produced best-selling books. Dr. Phil, Dr. Oz, and Rachael Ray can all credit their talk show successes to Winfrey and Harpo Productions after each made multiple appearances on The Opera Winfrey Show. Winfrey’s only political endorsement came with the campaign President Barack Obama, for whom it is estimated she influenced over a million votes in his favor.

In 1999, Winfrey co-founded the Oxygen Network, which produced programming targeted at female audiences. The next year she launched O, The Oprah Magazine and soon after signed a contract to continue making The Oprah Winfrey Show through 2011. When her 25-year old talk show ended, it was syndicated on 212 stations in the United States and 100 countries across the world. She started her own network, the Oprah Winfrey Network, when her contract with ABC was finished. The network didn’t receive much attention at first, but made headlines when Winfrey interviewed Lance Armstrong, cyclist and seven time Tour de France winner. His titles were rescinded when he was charged with using performance-enhancing drugs. Armstrong’s admission of his substance abuse on OWN reportedly earned the network millions of dollars in revenue.

Winfrey has been ranked as the richest African-American of the 20th century, the only black billionaire in North America, Life magazine’s most influential woman of her generation, and the greatest black philanthropist in the history of the United States. As a children’s rights activist, Winfrey played a pivotal role in President Bill Clinton signing a bill creating a nationwide database of convicted child abusers. She also founded the Family for Better Lives foundation and was the first person to receive the Bob Hope Humanitarian Award from the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. The nation’s highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, was given to Winfrey by President Obama in 2013 for the contributions she has made to her country.

Happy birthday, Oprah!

Sources: Biography.com, Wikipedia, IMDB

 

Read full storyComments { 0 }

Ellen Degeneres’ Birthday

39th Annual People's Choice Awards - PortraitsJanuary 26 is Ellen Degeneres’ birthday! Degeneres is an American comedian, actress, and talk show host best known for starring in her self-titled sitcom, Ellen, and hosting her own talk show since 2003 called the Ellen Degeneres Show.

Degeneres was born in Metairie, Louisiana in 1958, and moved to Atlanta, Texas with her mother when she was a teenager after her parents divorced. She worked a variety of odd jobs when she was younger ranging from waitress to house painter to legal secretary. She had dreams of becoming a veterinarian because of her love for animals, but believed she wasn’t “book smart” enough to pursue the career. Her older brother, Vance, who was pursuing a career as an actor and comedian as a correspondent on The Daily Show first sparked her interest in comedy. At a public speaking event, Degeneres was nervous and began inadvertently making jokes to the crowd. They loved her awkward comedic style, and she was soon offered stand-up comedy gigs.

Her comedy career began when she was in her early 20s and began performing at a local coffee shop. Before long, she was touring nationally and won Showtime‘s Funniest Person in America in 1982. Her big break came in 1986 when a booking agent from The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson caught her act at the Improv in Hollywood. She was invited to perform on the show, and after her performance was invited to sit on the famous “couch” and chat with Carson. She was the first female comedian to be offered this opportunity on the show. From then on, she became a regular guest on late night talk shows and her popularity with the American public grew.

The young comedienne’s observational humor was a hit with audiences, and she began starring in her own sitcom, Ellen, in 1994. In 1997, the show and Ellen’s life took a major turn when she made her homosexuality public in an episode of the popular show titled, “The Puppy Episode.” This was the first time the lead character of a sitcom openly acknowledged their homosexuality on air. Degeneres and the network both received criticism, which they had expected, and several affiliate networks and sponsors refused to air the episode and withdrew their advertisements. Gay activists and supporters praised their efforts in raising awareness to gay issues, and many episodes following the coming out episode focused on gay themes, bringing them to the attention of national audiences. Despite making history, receiving an Emmy award, and gaining supportive audiences, the show was cancelled in 1998.

Degeneres’ popularity has only grown stronger over the years, and she starred in several movies before returning to television in 2003 as the host of her own talk show, The Ellen Degeneres Show. Though many other daytime talk shows popped up during this time, Degeneres was the only one to leave a lasting impression on her audience and has received countless awards for her show, including 11 Daytime Emmy Awards. The same year she began hosting her talk show, she lent her voice to Dory, the ditzy lovable companion of Nemo in the hit animated feature, Finding Nemo. In 2009, she celebrated the 1000th episode of the talk show, and that same year, became a judge on the ninth season of American Idol. Her infectious comedic style has also led her to host a plethora of award shows including the Primetime Emmy Awards and the Academy Awards.

In 2004, Degeneres began dating fellow actress Portia de Rossi, and in 2008 they were married in one of California’s most high-profile same-sex unions after its legalization. Degeneres is also known for her ethical vegan diet, and has started a vegan outreach website called “Going Vegan with Ellen,” as well as opened an all-vegan restaurant in Los Angeles.

Happy birthday Ellen!

Sources: Biography.com, Wikipedia, IMDB 

Read full storyComments { 0 }