Monday, April 16, 2012

Birthday Cornucopia!

Yes, it's very nearly birthday overload today - what on earth could be happening nine months before April 16 to create this cavalcade of camp, this parade of plenty, this surfeit of stupendousness?

To start things off, the divine Dusty, seen above in prime form (and can too many good things ever be said about this still-underappreciated pop supernova?).  It's interesting, initially unnerving, and finally marvelous to hear her sing this live - the recorded version is so set into my brain, at last, that the first couple of variations really register.  Stick around for the big finish - she makes it worth it.  And than, briefly, at the bow, we have Dusty herself, done singing, looking almost dazed at her own talent.

But that's just to begin.  For friends of the sublime, beyond Dusty we have one of the Great Treasures of the screen, not to mention one of its creators: Charlie.  For a very long time, that was all you needed to say for moviegoers from Manhattan to Mongolia to see, in their mind's eye, the Little Tramp.  I think we sometimes take Charlie Chaplin for granted, forgetting how very great he was, and is.  I wasn't really surprised, when I first went there, to discover that he's still very popular in Egypt.

Moving on, for royal watchers, there's a trifecta. First up, the Queen of Denmark (known to her fans, endearingly, as "Daisy"), as down-to-earth and yet cerebral a royal as likely there is these days; that she's by all accounts a champion chain-smoker somehow only makes her more amusing.  Then there's Henri, Grand Duke of Luxembourg, a dapper gent whose full nomenclature runs to "His Royal Highness Henri, by the Grace of God, Grand Duke of Luxembourg, Duke of Nassau, Count Palatine of the Rhine, Count of Sayn, Königstein, Katzenelnbogen and Diez, Burgrave of Hammerstein, Lord of Mahlberg, Wiesbaden, Idstein, Merenberg, Limburg and Eppstein.  Idstein and Eppstein?  What are they, Zero Mostel characters?  And don't even get me started on Katzenelnbogen (I just noticed - Henri shares a birthday with one of his sons, Prince Sébastien - how convenient!  Even if this is no longer technically a trifecta).  Finally, a tiny aristo: Princess Eléonore of Belgium, of whom I nothing except that I adore her name, is four today.

In the arts and letters, we start with a formidable lady, ancien régime portraitist Louise Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun, whose works, if nothing else, have almost singlehandedly created the modern image of poor, dear Marie Antoinette; Nobelist Anatole France (one of those people about whom one feels one ought to know more - but somehow never does); Dada daddy Tristan Tzara; the illustrator who gave us what we think of when we think of Stuart Little, Charlotte the spider, and Laura Ingalls, Garth Williams; and bibulous curmudgeon Kingsley Amis.

Fancy music?  Today's your day to celebrate suave composer Henry Mancini (is there anything as evocative as "Moon River"?).  Even if some of his work calls to mind Noël Coward's quip about the potency of cheap music, at his best, he's a dream maker, a heart breaker.  If he's not your cup of tea or dry martini, how about something on the cheesier side - Polish Prince Bobby Vinton, maybe?  If that doesn't do it, perhaps you'd like to mark the the day that started the too-short life of J-Lo-starmaker Selena.  Still not happy?  How about Broadway sweetheart Kelli O'Hara or jazz flautist Herbie Mann?  Alternately, you could just go and waste the whole day on Dusty Springfield videos.  I won't tell.

Stage and screen yield their own treasures.  We have Follies' original Solange, the ideally named Fifi D'Orsay; A Christmas Story's own Ralphie, Peter Billingsley; another Peter, this time the portly polymath Mr. Ustinov; sexpot and professional Kovacs widow Edie Adams; primo dancer/choreographer Merce Cunningham; and actress and longtime whatever-happened-to Ellen Barkin.

This distinguished company is rounded out with a solid lineup of miscellanea:  Ann "Lady of Leisure" Romney; Wright brother Wilbur; professional tall person Kareem Abdul-Jabbar; distinctively different supermodel Alek Wek; and the inventor of the snowmobile, who will go unnamed for what he's done to quiet winter afternoons.

If all that's just too much - just concentrate on Dusty and Chaplin. They'll never fail you.


  1. i think i saw something not too long ago
    where the ex mrs. perelman was on broadway.

  2. Bobby Vinton AND Edie Adams? Is today the horoscope equivalent of a cheeseball?

  3. OK, I wrote that BEFORE I watched the amazing video and now the idea of Bobby Vinton and Dusty sharing a birthday is more stunning than ever. How I love her. She hits that key change and a thousand drag queens are born, wishing they could be her.

  4. What a great post!

    "Moon River" and "The Days of Wine and Roses" are two of my favorite songs. Simply sublime...

    1. Praise from the master! What can I say? I'm currently on a gaullimaufry of meds that turn out, when combined with a nice glass of Pinot Gri, to have quite salutory effects.

      I did enjoy thinking about Dusty, Daisy Denmark, and dear Charlot, all at once. And then I went and atched the end of City Lights and bawled like Lucy Ricardo (or was it Lucy Carmichael who cried all the time?)...