DCS: fay spain

determination

Fay Spain was on her own at 14, living in the attic at the home of her English teacher. At 17, she lied about her age and got a job as a dealer at a Reno, Nevada casino. She proudly proclaimed she made more money than her husband who worked as a gambling shill at the same casino.

Through a mutual friend, she became acquainted with noted columnist Walter Winchell, who mentioned Fay’s name in a column. A casting agent from Columbia Pictures called Fay in for a screen test. She was not offered a contract, though. She was told that she wasn’t “pretty enough” for Hollywood. Another failed screen test — this one with up-and-coming actor James Garner — resulted in Fay being told that she was not photogenic enough for the big screen.

Fay was undeterred. In 1955, she was named one of 15 young ladies to represent the Western Association of Motion Picture Advertisers on a promotional tour. This led to a role in The Crooked Circle, a boxing picture in 1957 and later to a part in the big screen adaptation of Erskine Caldwell’s God’s Little Acre, co-starring Robert Ryan and Tina Louise in her motion picture debut. Fay proved Hollywood wrong by starring in dozens of films and television programs through the 50s, 60s and 70s. She even appeared as a contestant on You Bet Your Life with Groucho Marx. Fay’s final film role was in The Godfather Part II, potraying the  wife of mobster Hyman Roth (as played by Lee Strasberg).

Fay passed away from cancer in 1983 at the age of 50.

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DCS: scott hutchison

owl john

Scott Hutchison began singing at 19, despite being told that he couldn’t. Scott’s songwriting was influenced by American artists like Wilco and Ryan Adams. He liked playing guitar and performing, considering that he was always a shy kid growing up.

In 2003, Scott started performing under the stage name “Frightened Rabbit,” a nickname he picked up alluding to his shyness. He recruited his brother Grant to play drums. The duo released their debut album independently. The group added another guitarist and then a keyboard player and have since released five albums to critical acclaim, garnering a rabidly loyal fan base. Scott, a former student at the Glasgow School of Art, also created all of the artwork for each album.

Scott embarked on a solo project in 2014 called Owl John. He was determined to make it as different from Frightened Rabbit as possible. He also contributed to several collaborative projects, including one with fellow Scottish musicians and a “supergroup” with members of other indie bands.

On Wednesday, May 9, 2018, Scott’s bandmates in Frightened Rabbit reported the singer missing, last seen leaving a hotel in South Queensferry, Scotland. Just before he was last seen, Scott posted two mysterious tweets to his Twitter account:

“Be so good to everyone you love. It’s not a given. I’m so annoyed that it’s not. I didn’t live by that standard and it kills me. Please, hug your loved ones”

and soon after

“I’m away now. Thanks.”

Scott’s body was found by police early on the morning of May 11 on the banks of the River Forth. Frightened Rabbit’s website posted a statement regarding the band’s founder:

“There are no words to describe the overwhelming sadness and pain that comes with the death of our beloved Scott, but to know he is no longer suffering brings us some comfort. Reading messages of support and hope from those he has helped through his art has helped immensely and we encourage you all to continue doing this. He will be missed by all of us and his absence will always be felt but he leaves a legacy of hope, kindness and colour that will forever be remembered and shared.”

Scott Hutchison was 36 years old.

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DCS: myrna fahey

Elizabeth Whats-Her-Name

Myrna Fahey was a former cheerleader and beauty pageant winner. However, she refused to coast along on her good looks alone. She was an avid skier and stock investor, insisting that her dressing rooms be equipped with a stock ticker.

Myrna appeared in numerous episodes of TV Westerns, including Gunsmoke, Maverick and Wagon Train. After an episode of Bonanza, the cast presented the feisty Myrna with a tongue-in-cheek “Best Slapper in a Filmed Series” award. Myrna branched out with roles in Perry Mason and Hawaiian Eye, even trying her hand at comedy in Bachelor Father and camp in the popular Batman series. She was not content with the “good girl” roles she was offered. She landed the role of “Madeline Usher” alongside Vincent Price in Roger Corman’s take on the Edgar Allan Poe classic The Fall of the House of Usher.

In 1961, Myrna took a starring role in the TV series Father of the Bride, based on the acclaimed film of the same name. She was cast based solely on her striking resemblance to Elizabeth Taylor, a comparison that Myrna found distasteful, revealing to one interviewer “the fact that I’m supposed to look like Elizabeth Whats-Her-Name had nothing to do with my getting [the part], because we don’t really look alike I don’t think.” Myrna fought to be released from her contract with the show, citing that too much emphasis was put on the “father” character and not enough on her “bride” character. the series lasted one season.

In 1964, Myrna began dating Yankees star Joe DiMaggio. She also began receiving death threats. An FBI investigation determined the threats came from a patient at a mental hospital in San Jose, California. Apparently the patient could not bear to see DiMaggio with anyone other than Marilyn Monroe, who died in 1962.

In the early 1970s, Myrna slowed down her workload, as she was diagnosed with cancer. She appeared in one episode of the medical drama Marcus Welby MD and played a beauty pageant chaperone in the TV movie The Great American Beauty Contest. It would prove to be her final role. Myrna lost her battle with cancer on May 6, 1973 at the age of 40.

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IF: utopia

there's no time to delay on the road to utopia

The origins of the word “utopia” are a bit unclear, as well as little ambiguous. The word was coined by lawyer, philosopher, author and eventual saint, Sir Thomas More in his 1516 book Utopia about an imaginary society of perfect well-being. The word comes from the Greek — but which actual root words — that’s up for discussion. it could be the combination of οὐ (pronounced “you”) meaning “not” and τόπος meaning”place”, making “utopia” translate to “no-place,” which would fit, as it represents a concept that does not exist. However, it could have been formed from the monophonic εὖ (also pronounced “you”) which means “good” and τόπος which still means “place,” making the word mean “good place.” That would be a plausible description, as well. Maybe Thomas More was being deliberately cagey, subtly hinting that the idea of “utopia” is just that — an idea — and can never exist.

Or perhaps he was warning us that the idea of ” The Good Place” is deceptive.

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DCS: doreen tracey

Doreen!

Doreen Tracey grew up singing and dancing, thanks to her father’s dance studio. At 12, young Doreen auditioned for The Mickey Mouse Club along with hundreds of other talented children (including singer Paul Williams and actress Candace Bergen, who didn’t make the cut). She was picked and stayed with the show for all three seasons. Doreen appeared in the Disney-produced family film Westward Ho, the Wagons!, with Fess Parker and several of her fellow Mouseketeers. In the third season of The Mickey Mouse Club, she was featured in the serial Annette (a show within a show) with co-star Annette Funicello.

When The Mickey Mouse Club ceased filming, Doreen performed in teen nightclubs and gave live concerts. She starred on a 1959 episode of The Donna Reed Show as Mary Stone’s (Shelley Fabares) friend along with guest star, singer James Darren. Later, she toured South Vietnam, entertaining US Troops with her rock group Doreen and The Invaders. Later, she moved on to work as a publicist for Frank Zappa.

In the 70s, Doreen posed nude for Gallery, a mens’ magazine. This caused a rift in her relationship with the Walt Disney Company. Years afterwards, she reconciled with the Disney Company, and began appearing at company promotional events. In her 2001 autobiography, Confessions of a Mouseketeer, Doreen related the incident and regretted posing for the photos.

Doreen died in January 2018 after a two-year battle with cancer. She was 74.

 

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IF: transformation

ch-ch-ch-changes, turn and face the strange changes

In 1931, Frederic March was cast in Paramount Studios’ film version — the sixth one since 1908 — of the Robert Louis Stevenson study in psychology Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. The production was made five years before the Hayes Code that monitored morality in motion pictures. The film contained some pretty strong  sexual content for 1931, particularly the role of “Ivy Pierson,” the bar singer portrayed by actress Miriam Hopkins. When the film was re-released in 1936, Miriam Hopkins’s provocative performance was reduced to less than five minutes of screen time.

The infamous “transformation” scene was filmed using a combination of color-coded make-up appliances and corresponding filters for the camera. The result was an effectively frightening sequence, thanks to March’s acting and Wally Westmore’s character design for the fearsome “Mr. Hyde,” including simian-like brow and hair along with prosthetic teeth. March was awarded an Oscar for his performance.

Hollywood remade Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde again in 1941 starring Spencer Tracy. Prior to production, MGM purchased the negatives to the two previous versions, as well as every available copy of the Paramount version starring Frederic March… with the intention of destroying them to avoid comparisons. Despite Spencer Tracy’s acting ability, the MGM version received negative reviews. Frederic March sent a telegram to his colleague to thank him for “the greatest boost to his reputation of his entire career.”

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DCS: reid blackburn, david a. johnston and robert landsburg

 

buried

After a two-month series of earthquakes, Mount St. Helens, in Washington state, erupted at 8:32 on the morning of May 18, 1980. The entire north face of the volcano slid away, creating the largest landslide ever recorded. Volcanic ash was shot 80,000 feet into the atmosphere, raining down over 11 states. Glaciers melted, forming mudslides that eventually reached the Columbia River nearly 50 miles away.

David A. Johnston, a scientist working under the auspices of the Department of the Interior, had been gathering information in the weeks prior to the volcano’s eruption. His five-word transmission — “Vancouver! Vancouver! This is it!” —  from his outpost, six miles from “ground zero” was the first report of the eruption. David’s body was never found, though thirteen years after the eruption, parts of his trailer were discovered by highway workers.

Reid Blackburn was a photographer who was commissioned by a local newspaper, as well as National Geographic magazine, to cover the eruption. On May 22, 1980, Reid’s body was discovered buried in the ash. Several days later, his camera was found near his campsite at South Fork Coldwater Creek. As a result of the eruption, the creek became dammed, creating Coldwater Lake.

Robert Landsburg, also a photographer, had been photographing the changing landscape in the weeks leading up the the eruption. On the morning of May 18, Robert rapidly shot the approaching ash cloud. He rewound the film and put it back into its case. He put the film and his camera into his backpack. He placed the backpack on the ground and lay down on top of it, protecting the contents. Robert’s body was discovered two and a half weeks later, buried beneath the ash. His film, however, remained unharmed. It was developed as has since provided geologists with valuable information regarding the volcanic eruption.

And then, there was stubborn old Harry R. Truman

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