This weekend I drove up the beautiful California coast to San Simeon, in central Cali. It is always a pleasure to escape the city of Los Angeles and all of it’s hubbub. The Golden State is gorgeous, and although the weather forcast predicted rain, it was a rare, sunny weekend (lucky me!) It is easy to see why William Randolph Hearst purchased the land above San Simeon Bay to build his castle for himself and Marion… a more spectacular setting would be difficult to find. The castle is as awe inspiring as it must have been in it’s prime party days of the roaring ’20s.
I have always been fascinated by Marion Davies. According to Wikipedia, she was a much better actress/comedienne than history has claimed (due in a large part to a sad portrayal in Orson Welles movie “Citizen Kane”), but Hearst’s love, devotion and immense wealth did nothing at all to help Marion’s career. She was doomed to throwing lavish parites and drunken revelries, and never achieved the success as an actress that she so dearly wanted. In later life, she worked tirelessly for charities.
Still partially intact is Marion’s beach house in Santa Monica; I pass it often and think of her. It is now a private beach club. She is the ultimate story of someone who had it all, and at the same time, had nothing. Hearst’s wife would not divorce him so they never married, and her talent went unacknowledged. Though I rarely focus on this era for my art prints, the trip up north and the sad story of Marion inspired me to do a image of her. It is the Golden Age of Hollywood in the Golden State!
Last night I visited my favorite theater in Hollywood, The Egyptian. It always showcases great retro movies, and it’s wonderful to see them on the big screen. Many times there are actors or directors from the movie for a Q and A after the film. I couldn’t miss “Vanishing Point”, a great car chase / road trip movie made in 1971. Paul Koslo, the actor who portrayed the (very mean) young cop in the movie, was there to reminisce about the groovy shoot of 10 weeks. The movie stars Barry Newman, a Vietnam war hero and ex-cop who develops a Forrest Gump-type following in his quest to beat the police through the western desert in his turbo white Charger. The film had some incredible shots and amazing car chases, and some really humorous dialogue that only belonged in the 70′s. At one point, Barry Newman flashbacks to a moment (when he was still a cop) with his girlfriend on the California coast, who rolls a joint and says “Wouldn’t it be funny if I turned you on and you turned me in?” Then she proceeds into the ocean to surf and promptly drowns.
What I love about screenings at the Egyptian is the warm and rowdy audience; they are always film and retro lovers who vocally express their pleasure with the films. There were quite a few laughs! I guess the real star of the show was the white Charger. The era of American muscle cars was a unique time in history. Those cars are worth tens of thousands of dollars now….if you can find them!!!
I’ve always been a Led Zeppelin fan, they were something special, unique and never heard before … and never to be heard again. So thanks to YouTube, I’ve been watching all these old Zeppelin concerts, and I’ve grown to appreciate their unique genius in a new and more mature way. Of course, my retro love of the early 1970′s keeps me entralled, but especially the most absolutely gorgeous, sexy, blond God that was Young Robert Plant.
I still love Robert Plant, but I never really appreciated him fully until now. Of course, Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones and John Bonham match him in genius, yet I think it’s his bare chest and curly locks that do it. Not to mention they are the greatest Rock and Roll band ever! Long live the Queen; the Brits surely have brought us much musical joy (influenced by solid American roots!
Watch Led Zeppelin in their prime!
Check out my etsy store here for a couple of 1970s inspired prints.
I read an excerpt of this book, “A Furious Love” by Sam Kashner, Nancy Schoenberger in Vanity Fair. I was so fascinated by the “Marriage of the Century” that I had to go and get the book! It was a fascinating read, and perhaps it romanticized their love, but Richard Burton was quite the romantic and wrote all kinds of sweet love notes and letters to Elizabeth. What woman doesn’t like that? They HATED to be called “Liz and Dick”…. they were Elizabeth and Richard. By many, many personal accounts, they were BOTH more beautiful in person than on film. Elizabeth’s loveliness lasted well into her prime and people were shock by her beauty in person. Richard, on the otherhand, was quite the hunk… every woman was attracted to him and his beautiful voice. I just love to read about their time and the era they lived in, and reflect about how it has passed, never to return. I miss old Hollywood glamour!
Tragic and sad story all around, though.
It inspired me to make a “Elizabeth” pop art influenced canvas of the infamous Hollywood icon for my store. If you like it, go check it out by clicking on the photos!
Today Helen Gurley-Brown, THE woman… the woman behind Cosmo magazine, the woman who told many many generations of other women that it was ok to enjoy being single…that it was ok for women to have sex without guilt, has died. All I could think about today though, was the luminous Natalie Wood, who starred in the movie based on Helen’s famous book, “Sex and the Single Woman.” The book was written in 1962, and if you are a fan of Mad Men, then you already know how it was for women in that pre- feminism era.
In retrospect, maybe the movie doesn’t have the impact or importance of the book. The incredibly beautiful Natalie is a “Sex Therapist”; she is a working woman- an educated woman. In the end of course, the inevitable happens and she falls for Tony Curtis. I haven’t seen it in a long time, so I can only reflect on these two thoughts… the death of a important cultural icon and feminist Helen Gurley-Brown, and the incandescent and unforgetable Natalie Wood. (Tony Curtis – meh!)
Rest in Peace, and thank you Helen!
Last weekend I caught “A Place in the Sun” on Turner Movie Classics. Of course, anything with Elizabeth Taylor in her prime is retro glamour heaven, especially when the movie includes her good friend Montgomery Clift (or James Dean.) It seemed a lot more melodramatic and over-acted than I remember- my how movies have changed! Oh well, they were very earnest and worked hard, and it was a good movie in it’s day. However now, it is a Old Hollywood Classic, and I love them all! The gowns by Edith Head were amazing, the black and white chiaroscuro lighting, the lovely and delicate Liz, the handsome Monty. I particularly love the bright pop-art orange and yellow movie poster.. so cool! A little Gone With the Wind-ish, don’t you think? Just more fodder for inspiration! I Love Turner Movie Classics!
I was so excited to have Turn Magazine send me this! They gave me a nice promo by featuring my Brigitte Bardot hommage on their very cool magazine. It is definitely worth a look; amazing photographers, art and fashion… just great eye candy! Take a look here!
And as always, you can purchase this in my new store
I just finished a pop art interpretation of the one and only Audrey Hepburn. It took awhile for me to do a image of her. I think because she is the ultimate in my retro-love obsession. She is so iconic, and so loved by all; the epitome of chic retro style and glamour.
I read a biography of Audrey and if you have the time, I highly recommend reading more about her life. She suffered malnutrition and starvation as pre-teen during WWII, and she was deeply affected by her father’s abandonment of the family. (She found him years later and supported him the rest of her life.) You may know that her first dream was to be a ballet dancer, and I am happy she was often able to find roles that featured her dancing talents. Her actual success as a movie star was a bit accidental, which (I think) adds to her allure. She was truly “discovered.” She never felt very beautiful, she was very unlucky in love, she was a great advocate for children, and from what I have read, a wonderful and devoted mother. No wonder she is still so adored and worshipped!
Here is my art canvas piece of her. It is digitally mixed with a vintage photo and my original paintings. It is only available in my web store
Own it here!
I received an email from the Los Angeles County of Art that Roger Vadim’s cult classic “Barbarella” is playing today. It stars Jane Fonda, in the era of her best-ever Brigitte Bardot incarnation. Roger Vadim was married to Brigitte Bardot (before he was married to Jane) so he did a nice job transforming her into a facsimile of the Fabulous BB. The publicity stills from the film made me think of the recent Super Bowl Half-Time show featuring the Black-Eyed Peas. Check out how similar Fergie’s costume is to Jane’s 1967 Barbarella outfit designed by Paco Rabanne!
I was so excited to see it, because I’ve never seen the entire movie, only bits and pieces. Alas, my honey has planned a wonderful pre-valentine theater event at the Geffen Playhouse in Westwood, California, of the Neil LaBute play “The Break of Noon” which I am very excited about! I can always rent “Barbarella.”
I had to share with you the original theatrical trailer…it’s SO hilarious! Enjoy!
There can’t be anything more retro than the musical “Hair.” When it came to the Pantages here in L.A., of course I had to go see it. I certainly had my ideas about what a musical that premiered on Broadway in 1968 would look like…totally groovy and psychedelic, of course! But it was more out there than I even imagined. I kept thinking that it was a retro musical when it premiered, but in all actuality, they might have been wearing their own clothes during “Hair’s” original ground-breaking run.
Here’s what New York magazine said about the Broadway revival:
Try any show against it: Hair is the weirdest musical ever staged. There’s sort of a plot, though not really. It treats audiences to a Hamlet soliloquy set to folk music, just before the song that runs “Gliddy glup gloopy/Nieby nabby noopy/La la la lo lo.” Deadly serious activities like draft-card burning alternate with Dionysian vistas (naked boys and girls singing) and lyrics that would be at home on Sesame Street (“I got my eyes/I got my nose/I got my mouth/I got my teeth,” goes one nursery-ready stanza). The show’s hymns to love will always hold up; the shout-outs to heroin aren’t quite doing the same.
I loved it. It was great fun and also quite serious, harking back to a traumatic and unique period in our nation’s history. I felt a little sad that the ideals of that era have been tossed aside. It makes me think of the Elvis Costello song “What’s so funny about peace, love, and understanding?”