Sunday, August 31, 2014

ALAN JAY LERNER ~ August 31, 1918 ~ June 14, 1986

Alan Jay Lerner (August 31, 1918 – June 14, 1986) was an American Broadway lyricist and librettist. Together with Frederick Loewe, he created some of the world's most popular and enduring works of musical theatre. Lerner wrote the lyrics for some of the theatre's most famous songs. He won three Tony Awards and three Academy Awards, among other honors. Born in New York City, he was the son of Joseph Jay Lerner, the brother of the owner of the Lerner Stores, a chain of dress shops. The founder and owner of Lerner Stores was Samuel Alexander Lerner. Alan Jay Lerner was educated at Bedales School, Choate Rosemary Hall, and Harvard, where he befriended classmate John F. Kennedy. Like Cole Porter at Yale and Richard Rodgers at Columbia, his career in musical theater began with his collegiate contributions, in Lerner's case to the annual Harvard Hasty Pudding musicals.

Following graduation, Lerner wrote scripts for radio, including Your Hit Parade, until he was introduced to a down-on-his-heels Austrian composer Frederick Loewe, who needed a lyricist, in 1942. Their first collaboration was a musical adaptation of Barry Connor's farce The Patsy called Life of the Party for a Detroit stock company. It enjoyed a nine-week run and encouraged the duo to join forces with Arthur Pierson for What's Up?, which opened on Broadway in 1943. It ran for 63 performances and was followed two years later by The Day Before Spring. One of Broadway's most successful partnerships had been established.

Their first hit was Brigadoon (1947), a romantic fantasy set in a mystical Scottish village, directed by Robert Lewis. It was followed in 1951 by the less successful Gold Rush story Paint Your Wagon.

Lerner poured his excess energy into collaborations with Kurt Weill on the stage musical Love Life (1948) and Burton Lane on the movie musical Royal Wedding (1951). In that same year Lerner also wrote the Oscar-winning original screenplay for An American in Paris, produced by Arthur Freed and directed by Vincente Minnelli. This was the same team who would later join with Lerner and Loewe to create Gigi.

In 1956, Lerner and Loewe unveiled My Fair Lady. Their adaptation of George Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion retained his social commentary and added unusually appropriate songs for the characters of Eliza Doolittle and Henry Higgins, played originally by Julie Andrews and Rex Harrison. It was hugely popular and set box-office records in New York and London. When brought to the screen in 1964, the movie version would win eight Oscars.

Lerner and Loewe's run of success continued with their next project, a film adaptation of stories from Colette, the Academy Award winning film musical Gigi, starring Leslie Caron. The film won all of its nine Oscar nominations, a record at that point in time, and a special Oscar for co-star Maurice Chevalier.

The Lerner-Loewe partnership cracked under the stress of producing the Arthurian Camelot in 1960, with Loewe resisting Lerner's desire to direct as well as write. Camelot was a hit nonetheless, with a poignant coda; immediately following the assassination of John F. Kennedy, his widow told Life Magazine that JFK's administration reminded her of the "one brief shining moment" of Lerner and Loewe's Camelot. To this day Camelot is invoked to describe the idealism, romance, and tragedy of the Kennedy years.

Loewe retired to Palm Springs, California while Lerner went through a series of unsuccessful musicals with such composers as André Previn (Coco), John Barry (Lolita, My Love), Leonard Bernstein (1600 Pennsylvania Avenue), Burton Lane (Carmelina) and Charles Strouse (Dance a Little Closer, based on the film, Idiot's Delight, nicknamed Close A Little Faster by Broadway wags because it closed on opening night). Most biographers blame Lerner's professional decline on the lack of not only a strong composer but a strong director whom Lerner could collaborate with, as Neil Simon did with Mike Nichols or Stephen Sondheim did with Harold Prince (Moss Hart, who had directed My Fair Lady, died shortly after Camelot opened). In 1965 Lerner collaborated again with Burton Lane on the musical On a Clear Day You Can See Forever, which was adapted for film in 1970. Lerner was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1971.

In 1973, Lerner coaxed Fritz Loewe out of retirement to augment the Gigi score for a musical stage adaptation. The following year they collaborated on a musical film version of The Little Prince, based on the classic children's tale by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. This film was a critical and box office failure, but has become a cult favorite, with the soundtrack recording and the film itself back in print (on CD and DVD) after many years of being unavailable.

Lerner's autobiography The Street Where I Live (1978), was an account of three of his and Loewe's successful collaborations, My Fair Lady, Gigi, and Camelot along with personal information. In the last year of his life he published The Musical Theatre: A Celebration, a well-reviewed history of the theatre replete with personal anecdotes and his trademark wit. A book of Lerner's lyrics entitled A Hymn To Him, edited by Benny Green, was published in 1987. 

At the time of Lerner's death, he had just begun to write lyrics for The Phantom of the Opera, and was replaced by Charles Hart. He had turned down an invitation to write the English-language lyrics for the musical version of Les Misérables. He also had been working with Gerard Kenny in London on a musical version of the classic film My Man Godfrey.

Today is also the birthday of my friend Ben in NYC. His grandfather was a Methodist minister, as was mine. And while my own father was a minister, both of Ben's parents are-- or were-- as I believe they've changed careers!

Saturday, August 30, 2014

JACQUES-LOUIS DAVID ~ August 30, 1748 ~ December 29, 1825

Jacques-Louis David (30 August 1748 – 29 December 1825) was a highly influential French painter in the Neoclassical style, considered to be the preeminent painter of the era. In the 1780s his cerebral brand of history painting marked a change in taste away from Rococo frivolity toward a classical austerity and severity, heightened feeling chiming with the moral climate of the final years of the ancien régime.

David later became an active supporter of the French Revolution and friend of Maximilien Robespierre (1758-1794), and was effectively a dictator of the arts under the French Republic. Imprisoned after Robespierre's fall from power, he aligned himself with yet another political regime upon his release, that of Napoleon I. It was at this time that he developed his 'Empire style', notable for its use of warm Venetian
colours. David had a huge number of pupils, making him the strongest influence in French art of the early 19th century, especially academic Salon painting.

(Jacques-Louis David’s facial abnormalities were traditionally reported to be a consequence of a deep facial sword wound after a fencing incident. These left him with a noticeable asymmetry during facial expression and resulted in his difficulty in eating or speaking (he could not pronounce some consonants such as the letter r). A sword scar wound on the left side of his face is present in his self-portrait and sculptures and corresponds to some of the buccal branches of the facial nerve. An injury to this nerve and its branches are likely to have resulted in the difficulties with his left facial movement.)

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Whenever I'm in Paris I like to view his monumental painting of Napoleon's coronation. I didn't have the opportunity two years ago last October since Debbie and I arrived from Venice on Saturday afternoon and departed for the States on Sunday morning.

Friday, August 29, 2014

10 Years ago ~ HEART ATTACK ~ August 29, 2004
I suppose if you’re going to have a heart attack, I had mine at an optimal time. I recently read an article about the efficacy of angioplasty and of stents (man-made 'tubes' inserted into a natural passage/conduit in the body to prevent, or counteract, a disease-induced, localized flow constriction). Its conclusion was that preventative stents are of questionable value—that the gold standard for inserting stents needs to be within an hour of a severe heart attack. That qualification fit my scenario to a ‘T.’

Saturday August 28th, 2004 was the wedding of Dan Hutchings & Rachael Lu, musician friends (Dan then of the Schola Cantorum at St. Francis) in the Green Room of the War Memorial Veteran’s building next to the opera house. Dan sang Schubert and Rachael accompanied him on the piano.

Dennis and I went to the ceremony and reception in the same room and sat at the table with Tom Hart from Chanticleer days. He said I looked terrific.

Earlier that day, I had gone to William Stout Architectural Books near work and bought a huge folio of Karl Friedrich Schinkel, the great 19th Century German architect. The book weighs about 80 pounds. I brought it home by taxi, but carried it upstairs and moved it around several times before settling on the floor in front of the Napoleon window in the dining room.

When I later suggested to my cardiologist, Sheryl Garrett, that this might have been the proximate cause of my heart attack the following morning, she agreed. She said it was the first time she had heard of a heart attack caused by a book! More common was somebody lifting a car engine.

On Sunday morning I woke up early, sopping wet. I frequently sweat a lot at night, but this was different. Dennis was still asleep. I decided to take a shower, which was probably not such a hot idea. Then Dennis got up and went down to the garden to read the paper, drink his coffee and have a smoke. I think I had some coffee. I’m sure I had already made a pot for him. Still sweating after my shower, and starting to feel a sharp pain in my back, I called to Dennis in the garden and asked him to make some phone calls for me. To demonstrate my priorities, the first was to John Renke, my organist and choir director at St. Francis, to let him know that I wouldn’t sing at church that morning. Then I asked Dennis to call the advice nurse at Kaiser.

Dennis described my symptoms to the advice nurse. As we were talking to her, my left arm started to go numb. She immediately said to call 911. Dennis offered to drive me to Kaiser, but the nurse insisted he call 911, which of course, he did. Within minutes there were six or seven strapping firemen in the house, hooking me up to all kinds of things and injecting me with whatever is standard procedure. Then they strapped me into a chair and carried me down to their emergency van, which must have been only a few blocks away when they received the call. For some reason they went up Fair Oaks to 20th St and then to Dolores on the way to Kaiser on Geary. I think Dennis was with me in the emergency van.

When we got to Kaiser, I was immediately taken to the emergency room. It turns out that Kaiser’s Cardiac headquarters for Northern California is at that very location. Had I been taken to a different Kaiser facility, I would have been transferred to that one. Within half an hour or so, I had an angioplasty with two stents. One of my main cardiac arteries had been 99% blocked. It was a heart attack waiting to happen.

Most heart attacks occur on Monday mornings about 8:00 am. I guess people are apprehensive about going back to work. I suppose my parallel is that Sundays used to be work days for me, when the Schola Cantorum had regular services every Sunday (until we got fired).

Fortunately, Karl Friedrich Schinkel caused my attack to occur early on a Sunday morning, when the emergency vehicle was close by, there was very light traffic, and when I had the actual heart attack the very moment we were consulting the advice nurse!

Dr. Sheryl Garrett was the doctor on call in the emergency room that day. She was not my surgeon, but heard about my arrival. Dr. Garrett later told me she has had two most memorable experiences among the hundreds of cardiac patients she has treated during her seven years at Kaiser. The first was a seventy-eight year old woman who had cardiac arrest the very instant Dr. Garrett shook her hand. The patient survived, then years later had another heart attack, and was still alive when I heard about her story.

The second memorable experience was seeing Dennis in the lobby outside the emergency room. Dr. Garrett had not yet met me, but had heard of my circumstances. She surveyed the waiting room and noticed Dennis among the group of people there. Immediately she knew who he was. She said his great concern, fear and love was absolutely palpable.

Although I was initially surprised by my heart attack, I really shouldn’t have been. There is significant history of heart disease on both sides of my family. Dad had his first heart attack at thirty-nine when he tried to hold his breath while swimming under water the full length of a pool. Then he had another one a few years later. I remember visiting him in the Harrisburg Hospital when I was three or four years old.

Of course, his dramatic cardiac arrest was in 1977 when he was sixty-eight. That was when Dad collapsed after giving a tight three minute roast of the mayor at the auditorium of the Hershey Medical Center, and Helen screamed and followed Dad in the ambulance –and Mother was left behind because she was trying to stay out of the way of the care givers. Many people thought Helen was Mrs. Bell. Dad’s performance ended the show! Lastly Dad died of a heart attack the day he was supposed to be released from Temple University Hospital in Philadelphia on October 30, 1982, about seven weeks before his 74th birthday. He had been treated for a major stroke the previous June, and was going home to recuperate before a scheduled operation on his other carotid artery.

Dad’s favorite sister Alice died of heart disease in her late fifties. And Mother’s mother, Julia Trump Rich, died of heart failure about age sixty-five.

Recently, of course, was the unexpected death of my first cousin Roswell Brayton, Jr. As his sister Anne said: “He was the golden boy. Nobody expected him to die so young.” He was almost the same age as I when I had my attack – a few months after his 55th birthday. Rozzie was the genuine athlete in the family. He was the star pitcher on his Harvard baseball team and made the Harvard Sports Hall of Fame. I guess he was also a fanatic golfer, as were many others of my Mother’s family. He had a wooden box full of score cards from every golf game he had ever played (over a thousand). It was buried with him in his casket. And since his father had lived until his early eighties, Rozzie had every expectation that he would do likewise. Nevertheless, he evidently had already planned that detail of his funeral.

The irony was, he died doing cardio in the company gym in Woolrich. I suppose the hard decisions he had taken to make Woolrich competitive to survive in the new global economy took its toll. As President and CEO of the family company, he had had to let go almost 80% of the US workforce. I’m convinced it killed him.

I received word [in October 2008] from Dennis’ step-mom Evelyn that his step-sister Jackie’s husband had died of a heart attack. The shame was he wasn’t feeling well and went in for a check-up, but the hospital didn’t do any tests for heart condition and thought instead he was coming down with pneumonia. He went back to work and died a few days later at the farm co-op in Clarence, Iowa.

Dennis had been sick for years, and I had been preparing myself to be a caregiver to him. The amazing thing is I never anticipated that he would be such a marvelous caregiver to me. I’ll always be grateful that I survived to be there for him at his end.


Today is also the ninth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina! 

Thursday, August 28, 2014

"I HAVE A DREAM" Speech ~ August 28, 1963

The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom was a large political rally that took place in Washington, D.C. on August 28, 1963. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his historic "I Have a Dream" speech advocating racial harmony at the Lincoln Memorial during the march.
"I Have A Dream" is the popular name given to the public speech by Martin Luther King, Jr., when he spoke of his desire for a future where blacks and whites, among others, would coexist harmoniously as equals. King's delivery of the speech on August 28, 1963, from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, was a defining moment of the American Civil Rights Movement. Delivered to over 250,000 civil rights supporters, the speech is often considered to be one of the greatest and most notable speeches in human history and was ranked the top American speech of the 20th century by a 1999 poll of scholars of public address.
According to U.S. Representative John Lewis, who also spoke that day as the President of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee, "Dr. King had the power, the ability and the capacity to transform those steps on the Lincoln Memorial into a monumental area that will forever be recognized. By speaking the way he did, he educated, he inspired, he informed not just the people there, but people throughout America and unborn generations."

Some of Dr. King's words:

"In a sense we've come to our nation's capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men - yes, black men as well as white men - would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note, insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked 'insufficient funds.'"

"It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro's legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. Those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual."

"The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people. For many of our white brothers as evidenced by their presence here today have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny and they have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We can not walk alone."

"I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: 'We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.'"

"I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character."

"I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood."

"This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day."

"Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksand of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God's children."

"Let freedom ring. And when this happens, and when we allow freedom ring—when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children—black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics—will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual: "Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!"

At the end of the speech, King departed from his prepared text for a partly improvised peroration on the theme of "I have a dream", possibly prompted by Mahalia Jackson's cry, "Tell them about the dream, Martin!" He had delivered a speech incorporating some of the same sections in Detroit in June 1963, when he marched on Woodward Avenue with Walter Reuther and the Reverend C. L. Franklin, and had rehearsed other parts.

The march was organized by a group of civil rights, labor, and religious organizations, under the theme "jobs, and freedom."Estimates of the number of participants varied from 200,000 (police) to over 300,000 (leaders of the march). About 80% of the marchers were African American and 20% white and other ethnic groups.

The march is widely credited as helping to pass the Civil Rights Act (1964) and the National Voting Rights Act (1965).
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My brother Sherry Bell was at the march before his senior year at Princeton.
For my birthdays two years in a row (before he took a middle year in France) when he was a Freshman and Sophomore and I was in fifth and sixth grade, Sherry gave me train tickets to spend a weekend with him at the university. I remember crossing the bridge at Trenton with the sign "Trenton Makes, the World Takes." Sherry would meet me at Princeton Junction. We saw Bill Bradley play basketball. I heard the Tiger Tones and Nassoons, and went to productions of the Triangle Club (foreshadowing my later involvement with Low Jinks at the Bohemian Club). I loved the University Chapel.
Sherry also took me to my first black Baptist services in Princeton. It was the first time I heard Gospel choirs. Sherry was very much concerned with Civil Rights and racial justice, and this was a few years before the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel ~ August 27, 1770 ~ November 14, 1831

Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (August 27, 1770 – November 14, 1831) was a German philosopher, and with Johann Gottlieb Fichte and Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling, one of the creators of German Idealism.

Hegel influenced writers of widely varying positions, including both his admirers (Bauer, Feuerbach, Marx, Bradley, Dewey, Sartre, Küng, Kojève, Žižek), and his detractors (Schelling, Kierkegaard, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Peirce, Russell). Hegel developed a comprehensive philosophical framework, or "system", to account in an integrated and developmental way for the relation of mind and nature, the subject and object of knowledge, and psychology, the state, history, art, religion, and philosophy.

In particular, he developed a concept of mind or spirit that manifested itself in a set of contradictions and oppositions that it ultimately integrated and united, such as those between nature and freedom, and immanence and transcendence, without eliminating either pole or reducing it to the other. His influential conceptions are of speculative logic or "dialectic," "absolute idealism," "Spirit," negativity, sublation (Aufhebung in German), the "Master/Slave" dialectic, "ethical life," and the importance of history.
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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

BATTLE of CRECY ~ August 26, 1346

The Battle of Crécy (occasionally called the Battle of Cressy in English) took place on 26 August 1346 near Crécy in northern France, and was one of the most important battles of the Hundred Years' War. The combination of new weapons and tactics have caused many historians to consider this battle the beginning of the end of chivalry.

Crécy was a battle in which a much smaller English army of 12,000 to 16,000 (depending on source), commanded by Edward III of England and heavily outnumbered by Philip VI of France's force of 35,000 to 100,000 (depending on source), was victorious as a result of superior weaponry and tactics, demonstrating the importance of the modern military concept of fire power. The effectiveness of the Welsh longbow, used en masse, was proven against armoured knights, contrary to the conventional wisdom of the day which held that archers would be ineffective and be butchered when the armoured units closed in.

In the battle, the French knights, protected by mail reinforced with plate, nearly exhausted by charging several miles into the fray (against their king's wishes) and having to walk through a quagmire of mud to charge up a shallow hill into English and Welsh arrow storms, were cut down. The result was that much of the French nobility died, perhaps even a third (estimates of the actual numbers in each army vary considerably, depending on the source).

Knights' armour had not yet evolved to the stage where longbows could not penetrate, and the knights' horses were barely protected at all. The storm of arrows killed or disabled the knights' mounts, and left the knights floundering about in the mud on foot beneath a withering fire.

Just as importantly, the hired Genoese crossbowmen who were at the forefront of the battle were not able to reach the defending English with their fire due to the rain slackening their crossbow strings. As the Genoese attempted to retreat, they were cut down by the French knights who considered the withdrawal to be cowardly. Therefore, the necessary support for the mounted knights was eradicated early on in the battle, mainly due to the French themselves.

The battle is seen by many historians as the beginning of the end of chivalry; during the course of the battle, many of the prisoners and wounded were killed. This was against the chivalric codes of warfare; and knights on horseback were no longer "undefeatable" by infantry.

Crécy may also have seen the first real use of cannon on the European battlefield, which were used only in small numbers by a few states during the 1340s. "Ribaldis", a type of cannon, were first mentioned in the English Privy Wardrobe accounts during preparations for the battle between 1345 and 1346, and they were perhaps employed against both the Genoese and the cavalry.

Similar cannon would appear also at the Siege of Calais in the same year, although it would not be until the 1380s that the "ribaudekin" was mounted on wheels.

The use of firearms at this battle is only mentioned in one contemporary account of the battle, that of Villani (d. 1348). Villani did travel abroad during much of the early 14th century, yet he had returned to his home in Florence at the time of the Battle of Crécy, so his information was likely second hand if not third or fourth hand. His account also conflicts with almost all of the other contemporary chronicles of this time on the events of the battle, specifically the use of firearms. In one of the later versions of his chronicle, Froissart does mention guns being used in the battle, but by that time firearms had become more common in warfare. His earlier versions fail to include any mention of firearms. So while firearms were perhaps employed, their possible effect on the battle should be viewed critically.

The political consequences of the battle were significant for Edward III especially, who had financed and supplied his expedition to Normandy with increasingly unpopular policies. The widespread use of purveyance and the arresting of ships to provide transport for his armies had left the King with potential sources of discontent in his kingdom. Likewise, the bold and unprecedented move to expand compulsory service, usually only required for defence of the coasts, to supply overseas service in France proved to be deeply unpopular with many of his subjects. However, the successes of the campaign did much to mute opposition when English Parliament was called at 11 – 20 September 1346.

English casualties were light but there were thousands of French dead, among them the counts of Flanders, Alençon, and Blois, Rudolph, Duke of Lorraine, and King John of Bohemia, a French ally. Charles IV from the House of Luxembourg (future Holy Roman Emperor) lost his father John of Bohemia and many of his best knights, with Charles himself escaping wounded from the field.

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Returning from "Inglourious Basterds" at the Castro Theater three years ago last night, I learned the sad news that Senator Edward Kennedy had died at the age of 77. At least he lived far longer than any of his brothers (and four years more than my Dad or his father). I recall his eloquent eulogy at RFK's funeral in Saint Patrick's Cathedral NYC forty-four years ago! What promise-- destroyed two years later just before the first moon landing. If not a president... a great senator.

Monday, August 25, 2014

50th Anniversary PARIS Liberated! August 25, 1944

The Liberation of Paris (also known as Battle for Paris) took place during World War II from 19 August 1944 until the surrender of the occupying German garrison on 25 August 1944, and is accounted as the last battle in the Campaign for Normandy and the transitional conclusion of the Allied invasion breakout in Operation Overlord into a broad-fronted general offensive. The capital region of France had been administered by Nazi Germany since the Second Compiègne armistice in June 1940 when Germany occupied the north and west of France and when the Vichy regime was created in city of Vichy in central France.

The liberation started with an uprising by the French Resistance against the German Paris garrison. On 24 August, the French Forces of the Interior (Forces françaises de l'intérieur, FFI) received backup from the Free French Army of Liberation and from the United States' 4th Infantry Division.

This battle marked the end of Operation Overlord, the liberation of France by the Allies, the restoration of the French Republic and the exile of the Vichy government to Sigmaringen in Germany.

Despite repeated orders from Adolf Hitler that the French capital "must not fall into the enemy's hand except lying in complete debris" to be accomplished by bombing it and blowing up its bridges, German General Dietrich von Choltitz, the commander of the Paris garrison and military governor of Paris, surrendered on 25 August at the Hôtel Meurice, the newly established headquarters of General Leclerc. Von Choltitz was kept prisoner until April 1947. In his memoir ... Brennt Paris? ("Is Paris Burning?"), first published in 1950, von Choltitz describes himself as the saviour of Paris.

There is a controversy about von Choltitz's actual role during the battle, since he is regarded in very different ways in France and Germany. In Germany, he is regarded as a humanist and a hero who saved Paris from urban warfare and destruction. In 1964, Dietrich von Choltitz explained in an interview taped from his Baden Baden home, why he had refused to obey Hitler: "If for the first time I had disobeyed, it was because I knew that Hitler was insane" ("Si pour la première fois j'ai désobéi, c'est parce que je savais qu'Hitler était fou")".

According to a 2004 interview his son Timo gave to the French public channel France 2, von Choltitz disobeyed Hitler and personally allowed the Allies to take the city back safely and rapidly, preventing the French Resistance from engaging in urban warfare that would have destroyed parts of Paris. He knew the war was lost and decided alone to save the capital.

The liberation of Paris was one of the few miracles of World War II. It is startling to think how close Paris was to total destruction!

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Galileo demonstrates his first telescope to Venetian lawmakers ~ August 25, 1609

Galileo Galilei (15 February 1564– 8 January 1642) was an Italian physicist, mathematician, astronomer, and philosopher, who played a major role in the Scientific Revolution. His achievements include improvements to the telescope and consequent astronomical observations, and support for Copernicanism. Galileo has been called the "father of modern observational astronomy," the "father of modern physics," the "father of science"and "the Father of Modern Science."Stephen Hawking says, "Galileo, perhaps more than any other single person, was responsible for the birth of modern science."

The motion of uniformly accelerated objects, taught in nearly all high school and introductory college physics courses, was studied by Galileo as the subject of kinematics. His contributions to observational astronomy include the telescopic confirmation of the phases of Venus, the discovery of the four largest satellites of Jupiter, named the Galilean moons in his honour, and the observation and analysis of sunspots. Galileo also worked in applied science and technology, improving compass design.

Galileo's championing of Copernicanism was controversial within his lifetime, when a large majority of philosophers and astronomers still subscribed (at least outwardly) to the geocentric view that the Earth is at the centre of the universe. After 1610, when he began supporting heliocentrism publicly, he met with bitter opposition from some philosophers and clerics, and two of the latter eventually denounced him to the Roman Inquisition early in 1615. Although he was cleared of any offence at that time, the Catholic Church nevertheless condemned heliocentrism as "false and contrary to Scripture" in February 1616, and Galileo was warned to abandon his support for it—which he promised to do. When he later defended his views in his most famous work, Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems, published in 1632, he was tried by the Inquisition, found "vehemently suspect of heresy," forced to recant, and spent the rest of his life under house arrest.

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A year ago last October I was in Italy with my good friend Deb Cornue and my sister Julie and her husband Tom Martin. We spent an afternoon in Pisa on a very hot day. Tom and I climbed to to the top of the Leaning Tower and thought of Galileo's experiment. I was most impressed, however, by the interior of the bapistry and adjoining Cathedral, which foreshadowed those in our later visits to Siena and Orvieto.

Sunday, August 24, 2014


The St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre (Massacre de la Saint-Barthélemy in French) in 1572 was a targeted group of assassinations, followed by a wave of Roman Catholic mob violence, both directed against the Huguenots (French Calvinist Protestants), during the French Wars of Religion. Traditionally believed to have been instigated by Catherine de' Medici, the mother of King Charles IX, the massacre took place six days after the wedding of the king's sister to the Protestant Henry III of Navarre (the future Henry IV of France). This marriage was an occasion for which many of the most wealthy and prominent Huguenots had gathered in largely Catholic Paris.

The massacre began two days after the attempted assassination of Admiral Gaspard de Coligny, the military and political leader of the Huguenots. Starting on 23 August 1572 (the eve of the feast of Bartholomew the Apostle) with murders on orders of the king of a group of Huguenot leaders including Coligny, the massacres spread throughout Paris. Lasting several weeks, the massacre extended to other urban centres and the countryside. Modern estimates for the number of dead vary widely between 5,000 and 30,000 in total.

The massacre also marked a turning point in the French Wars of Religion. The Huguenot political movement was crippled by the loss of many of its prominent aristocratic leaders, as well as many re-conversions by the rank and file, and those who remained were increasingly radicalized. Though by no means unique, it "was the worst of the century's religious massacres." Throughout Europe, it "printed on Protestant minds the indelible conviction that Catholicism was a bloody and treacherous religion".
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Actual eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 CE.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

MOUNT VESUVIUS Begins Stirring ~ August 23, 79 CE

Mount Vesuvius begins stirring, on the feast day of Vulcan, the Roman god of fire. on August 23, 79 CE (Common Era).
Mount Vesuvius (in Italian Monte Vesuvio and in Latin Mons Vesuvius) is a stratovolcano east of Naples, Italy. It is the only volcano on the European mainland to have erupted within the last hundred years, although it is not currently erupting. The two other volcanoes in Italy, (Etna and Stromboli) are located on islands.

Mount Vesuvius is on the coast of the Bay of Naples, about nine kilometres (six miles) east of Naples and a short distance from the shore. It is conspicuous in the beautiful landscape presented by that bay, when seen from the sea, with Naples in the foreground.

Mount Vesuvius is best known for its eruption in CE 79 that led to the destruction of the Roman cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum and the death of 10,000 to 25,000 people. It has erupted many times since and is today regarded as one of the most dangerous volcanoes in the world because of the population of 3,000,000 people living nearby and its tendency towards explosive (Plinian) eruptions. It is the most densely populated volcanic region in the world. Mount Vesuvius was regarded by the Greeks and Romans as being sacred to the hero and demigod Heracles/Hercules, and the town of Herculaneum, built at its base, was named after him.
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Friday, August 22, 2014

RICHARD III ~ October 2, 1452 ~ August 22, 1485

Richard III (2 October 1452 – 22 August 1485) was King of England from 1483 until his death. He was the last king from the House of York, and his defeat at the Battle of Bosworth marked the culmination of the Wars of the Roses and the end of the Plantagenet dynasty. After the death of his brother King Edward IV, Richard briefly took responsibility for the safety of Edward's son King Edward V, with the title of Lord Protector. Later, he is alleged to have placed Edward and his brother Richard in the Tower (the Princes in the Tower) and seized the throne for himself, being crowned on 6 July 1483.

Two large-scale rebellions rose against Richard. The first, in 1483, was led by staunch opponents of Edward IV and, most notably, Richard's own 'kingmaker', Henry Stafford, 2nd Duke of Buckingham. The revolt collapsed and Buckingham was executed at Salisbury, near the Bull's Head Inn. However, in 1485, another rebellion arose against Richard, headed by Henry Tudor, 2nd Earl of Richmond (later King Henry VII) and his uncle Jasper. The rebels landed troops and Richard fell in the Battle of Bosworth Field, then known as Redemore or Dadlington Field, as the last English king to lead his troops in battle on English soil. He was the last Plantagenet king and is consequently generally considered the last medieval king of England. Richard III and Harold II are the only English monarchs to have died in battle.
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Thursday, August 21, 2014

PRINCE RUPERT ~ December 29, 1998 ~ August 21, 2010

My handsome Cavalier, Prince Rupert, met his destiny four years ago this morning at the SPCA. He had been failing for several months. Almost completely blind for about half a year, his hind quarters then gave way, and Rupert started to show signs of doggie dementia. Although very stoic, I'm afraid he was in a great deal of pain. He joined his sister and four other dogs along with Dennis in my Japanese home Buddhist shrine.

I first met Rose and Rupert the day after my Mother's memorial service fifteen years ago last March. After Mother died three days before her birthday, I returned to San Francisco. Then Dennis and I went back for her memorial service a few weeks later.

Before leaving, I leafed through the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Club yearbook and pointed out to Dennis a black and white photo of a beautiful black and tan cavalier. "That's just the kind of black and tan I'd like to have." Her name was Polly. Then I noticed that the breeder lived in Dillsburg, Pennsylvania, about eighteen miles from Harrisburg, my hometown. Dillsburg was where my Mother played golf at a public golf club. (Mother loved golf, but was always careful with her expenses.)

So after the big memorial service at Grace Church, when Chanticleer sang the Biebl Ave Maria as a prelude before the service, and before their flight from Middletown 45 minutes later (more about that in March) and the symbolic interment on the hillside cemetary in Woolrich (Mother had donated her body for research, so we initially buried only a lock of her hair ... and three golf balls) Dennis and I drove back from my Mother's family's Hunting Camp and visited Mary Louise Gregg at her home and kennel, Stellar Cavaliers, in Dillsburg.

Cynthia had already given Dennis India Pudding and I was looking for an assertive dog, who could stand up to her. My introduction to Rupert was observing him bite the tail of his sister Celine. I thought: "That's the little guy for me!" There was a Titanic movie theme to that litter. Rupert's real name is "Stellar Coeur de Leon." And Rose is "Stellar Coeur de la Mer" -- the name of the blue diamond in the movie. So of course, Celine was appropriate as well!

Eight weeks or so later my Prince Rupert (named for Prince Rupert of the Rhine, nephew of Charles I during the English Civil War, and commander of the Cavalier cavalry --- a somewhat fitting name for a Cavalier dog, I thought) flew cross country to Sacramento with a friend of Mary Louise's and the judge for a Sacramento dog show.
Debbie Cornue drove Dennis, me and India Pudding to meet him at the Sacramento airport. Dennis never let me forget that I caused us to drive twenty miles out of our way, because I wrongly assumed there would be clearly marked signs to the airport on the highway to the California State Capital.
Rupert acted as though he owned his sister at times. In a way he did. A few years after he arrived in San Francisco, Rupert went back to Dillsburg to become a daddy, and the fee for his services was his sister Rose!

My Christmas miracle three years ago was the survival of my precious Rose. The vet didn't discover the peach pit blockage for six days. Mary Louise Gregg tells me that most dogs with a similar blockage don't survive unless surgery is performed before the third day. Dear Rose had an amazing desire to live... and her wonderful appetite completely returned. I am still so grateful that she had another eleven good months to live. Because of that I've included an extra picture of Rose.
So now I have two dogs again, my delightful and mischievous Blenheim Cavalier Renzo, joined by his beautiful Blenheim mom, Bette, a year ago last December!

MONA LISA Stolen by Louvre Employee ~ August 21, 1911

Mona Lisa (also known as La Gioconda) is a 16th century portrait painted in oil on a poplar panel by Leonardo da Vinci during the Italian Renaissance. [Leonardo brought it with him to France when he entered the service of Francois I in 1516. He died there in 1519 and is buried at the Chateau d'Amboise.] The work is owned by the Government of France and is on the wall in the Louvre in Paris, France with the title Portrait of Lisa Gherardini, wife of Francesco del Giocondo. It is perhaps the most famous painting in the world.

The painting is a half-length portrait and depicts a woman whose expression is often described as enigmatic. The ambiguity of the sitter's expression, the monumentality of the half-figure composition, and the subtle modeling of forms and atmospheric illusionism were novel qualities that have contributed to the painting's continuing fascination. Few other works of art have been subject to as much scrutiny, study, mythologizing, and parody.

The Mona Lisa painting now hangs in the Musée du Louvre in Paris, France. The painting's increasing fame was further emphasized when it was stolen on August 21, 1911. The next day, Louis Béroud, a painter, walked into the Louvre and went to the Salon Carré where the Mona Lisa had been on display for five years. However, where the Mona Lisa should have stood, he found four iron pegs. Béroud contacted the section head of the guards, who thought the painting was being photographed for marketing purposes. A few hours later, Béroud checked back with the section head of the museum, and it was confirmed that the Mona Lisa was not with the photographers. The Louvre was closed for an entire week to aid in investigation of the theft.

French poet Guillaume Apollinaire, who had once called for the Louvre to be "burnt down," came under suspicion; he was arrested and put in jail. Apollinaire tried to implicate his friend Pablo Picasso, who was also brought in for questioning, but both were later exonerated.

At the time, the painting was believed to be lost forever, and it would be two years before the real thief was discovered. Louvre employee Vincenzo Peruggia stole it by entering the building during regular hours, hiding in a broom closet and walking out with it hidden under his coat after the museum had closed. Peruggia was an Italian patriot who believed Leonardo's painting should be returned to Italy for display in an Italian museum. Peruggia may have also been motivated by a friend who sold copies of the painting, which would skyrocket in value after the theft of the original. After having kept the painting in his apartment for two years, Peruggia grew impatient and was finally caught when he attempted to sell it to the directors of the Uffizi Gallery in Florence; it was exhibited all over Italy and returned to the Louvre in 1913. Peruggia was hailed for his patriotism in Italy and only served a few months in jail for the crime.

During World War II, the painting was again removed from the Louvre and taken safely, first to Château d'Amboise, then to the Loc-Dieu Abbey and finally to the Ingres Museum in Montauban. In 1956, the lower part of the painting was severely damaged when a vandal doused the painting with acid. On December 30 of that same year a young Bolivian damaged the painting by throwing a rock at it. This resulted in the loss of a speck of pigment near the left elbow, which was later painted over.

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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

1812 OVERTURE Premiered August 20, 1882

The 1812 Overture, Op. 49 (French: Ouverture Solennelle, L'Année 1812, Russian: Торжественная увертюра 1812-ого года, Toržestvennaja uvertjura tysjača vosem'sot dvennadstovo goda, Festival Overture The Year 1812) is a classical overture written by Russian composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky in 1880. The piece was written to commemorate Russia's defense of Moscow against Napoleon's advancing Grande Armée at the Battle of Borodino in 1812. The Overture debuted in the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in Moscow on August 20, 1882 (in the Gregorian or NS calendar; the date in the Julian or OS calendar was 8 August). The overture is best known for its climactic volley of cannon fire and ringing chimes.

On his 1891 visit to the United States, Tchaikovsky conducted the piece at the dedication of Carnegie Hall in New York City. While this piece has no connection with United States history, it is often a staple at Fourth of July celebrations, such as the annual show by the Boston Pops and at Washington, DC's, annual program called A Capitol Fourth.

Today is also the birthday of my musical friend Manuel Whittman. He is one of the few serious musicians I know who appreciates the music of Tchaikovsky, though distinguished conductor MTT of SF Symphony is another.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

AUGUSTUS CAESAR ~ September 23, 63 BCE ~ August 19, 14 CE

IMPERATOR·CAESAR·DIVI·FILIVS·AVGVSTVS; 23 September 63 BCE – 19 August CE 14, born Gaius Octavius Thurinus, was adopted by his great-uncle Julius Caesar in 44 BCE, and between then and 27 BCE was officially named Gaius Julius Caesar. After 27 BCE, he was named Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus. Because of the various names he bore, it is common to call him Octavius when referring to events between 63 and 44 BCE, Octavian (or Octavianus) when referring to events between 44 and 27 BCE, and Augustus when referring to events after 27 BCE.

He became the first emperor of the Roman Empire, which he ruled alone from 27 BCE until his death in 14 CE. The young Octavius came into his inheritance after Caesar's assassination in 44 BCE. In 43 BCE, Octavian joined forces with Mark Antony and Marcus Aemilius Lepidus in a military dictatorship known as the Second Triumvirate. As a triumvir, Octavian ruled Rome and many of its provinces as an autocrat, seizing consular power after the deaths of the consuls Hirtius and Pansa and having himself perpetually re-elected. The triumvirate was eventually torn apart under the competing ambitions of its rulers: Lepidus was driven into exile, and Antony committed suicide following his defeat at the Battle of Actium by the fleet of Octavian commanded by Agrippa in 31 BCE.

After the demise of the Second Triumvirate, Octavian restored the outward facade of the Roman Republic, with governmental power vested in the Roman Senate, but in practice retained his autocratic power. It took several years to work out the exact framework by which a formally republican state could be led by a sole ruler; the result became known as the Roman Empire. The emperorship was never an office like the Roman dictatorship which Caesar and Sulla had held before him; indeed, he declined it when the Roman populace "entreated him to take on the dictatorship". By law, Augustus held a collection of powers granted to him for life by the Senate, including those of tribune of the plebs and censor. He was consul until 23 BCE. His substantive power stemmed from financial success and resources gained in conquest, the building of patronage relationships throughout the Empire, the loyalty of many military soldiers and veterans, the authority of the many honors granted by the Senate, and the respect of the people. Augustus' control over the majority of Rome's legions established an armed threat that could be used against the Senate, allowing him to coerce the Senate's decisions. With his ability to eliminate senatorial opposition by means of arms, the Senate became docile towards his paramount position. His rule through patronage, military power, and accumulation of the offices of the defunct Republic became the model for all later imperial government.

The rule of Augustus initiated an era of relative peace known as the Pax Romana, or Roman peace. Despite continuous frontier wars, and one year-long civil war over the imperial succession, the Mediterranean world remained at peace for more than two centuries. Augustus expanded the Roman Empire, secured its boundaries with client states, and made peace with Parthia through diplomacy. He reformed the Roman system of taxation, developed networks of roads with an official courier system, established a standing army (and a small navy), established the Praetorian Guard, and created official police and fire-fighting forces for Rome. Much of the city was rebuilt under Augustus; and he wrote a record of his own accomplishments, known as the Res Gestae Divi Augusti, which has survived. Upon his death in CE 14, Augustus was declared a god by the Senate, to be worshipped by the Romans. His names Augustus and Caesar were adopted by every subsequent emperor, and the month of Sextilis was officially renamed August in his honour. He was succeeded by his stepson and son-in-law, Tiberius.
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Monday, August 18, 2014

Robert Redford ~ August 18, 1936

Charles Robert Redford, Jr. (born August 18, 1936) better known as Robert Redford, is an American actor, film director, producer,businessman, model, environmentalist, philanthropist, and founder of the Sundance Film Festival. He has received two Oscars: one in 1981 for directing Ordinary People, and one for Lifetime Achievement in 2002.

Redford was born in Santa Monica, California, the son of Martha W. (née Hart) and Charles Robert Redford Sr. (November 19, 1914 – April 2, 1991), a milkman-turned-accountant from Pawtucket, Rhode Island. He has a half-brother, William, from his father's re-marriage. Redford is of English and Scots-Irish ancestry.
He attended Van Nuys High School in Los Angeles, California, where he was classmates with Don Drysdale, and was a teammate on the Van Nuys High School basebal team with Don Drysdale. He graduated in 1954 and received a baseball scholarship to the University of Colorado, where he was a pitcher and a member of the Kappa Sigma Fraternity. While there, he worked at the famous restaurant/bar The Sink. He lost the scholarship due to excessive drinking, possibly fueled by the death of his mother, which occurred when Redford was 18. He later studied painting at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn and took classes in theatrical set design at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City.
On August 9, 1958, in Las Vegas, Nevada, Redford married Lola Van Wagenen, who dropped out of college to marry him. They had four children: David James "Jamie", Shauna, Amy Redford, and Scott Anthony Redford. Scott, their first child was born September 1, 1959, and died of sudden infant death syndrome on November 17, 1959, at age 2½ months. He is buried at Provo City Cemetery in Provo, Utah. Robert and Lola divorced in 1985. He has five grandchildren: Dylan and Lena Redford (of son Jamie), Mica and Conor Schlosser (of daughter Shauna) and Eden August (of daughter Amy).


Redford's Broadway debut was in a small role in Tall Story (1959), followed by parts in The Highest Tree (1959) and Sunday in New York (1961). His biggest Broadway success was as the stuffy newlywed husband of Elizabeth Ashley in Neil Simon's Barefoot in the Park (1963).


Redford in Barefoot in the Park.
While still largely an unknown, Redford made his screen debut in War Hunt (1962), co-starring with John Saxon in a film set during the last days of the Korean War. This film also marked the debuts of Sydney Pollack and Tom Skerritt. After his Broadway success, he was cast in larger feature roles in movies. He played a bisexual movie star who marries starlet Natalie Wood in Inside Daisy Clover (1965) and rejoined her for Pollack's This Property Is Condemned (1966)—again as her lover. The same year saw his first teaming with Jane Fonda, in Arthur Penn's The Chase. Fonda and Redford were paired again in the big screen version of Barefoot in the Park (1967) and were again co-stars in Pollack's The Electric Horseman 979).

Redford became concerned about his blond male stereotype image and turned down roles in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and The Graduate. Redford found the property he was looking for in George Roy Hill's Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969), scripted by William Goldman, in which he was paired for the first time with Paul Newman. The film was a huge success and made him a bankable star and cemented his screen image as an intelligent, reliable, sometimes sardonic good guy.

Redford suffered through a few films that did not achieve box office success during this time, including Downhill Racer (1969), Tell Them Willie Boy Is Here (1969), Little Fauss and Big Halsy (1970), and The Hot Rock (1972). But his overall career was flourishing with the critical and box office hit Jeremiah Johnson (1972), the political satire The Candidate (1972), The Way We Were, (1973) and The Sting (1973), for which he was nominated for an Oscar.

During the years 1974-76, exhibitors voted Redford Hollywood's top box office name. His hits included The Great Gatsby (1974), The Great Waldo Pepper (1975), and Three Days of the Condor (1975). The popular and acclaimed All the President's Men (1976), directed by Alan J. Pakula and scripted once again by Goldman, was a landmark film for Redford. Not only was he the executive producer and co-star, but the film's serious subject matter, the Watergate scandal, also reflected the actor's offscreen concerns for political causes.

He also starred in the 1977 war film A Bridge Too Far, and the baseball film The Natural (1984). Redford has continued his involvement in mainstream Hollywood movies, though projects became fewer. He appeared as a disgraced Army general sent to prison in the political thriller The Last Castle (2001), directed by Rod Lurie, someone else with a strong interest in politics. Redford, a leading environmental activist, narrated the IMAX documentary Sacred Planet (2004), a sweeping journey across the globe to some of its most exotic and endangered places. In The Clearing (2004), a thriller co-starring Helen Mirren, Redford was a successful businessman whose kidnapping unearths the secrets and inadequacies that led to his achieving the American Dream.

Redford stepped back into producing with The Motorcycle Diaries (2004), a coming-of-age road film about a young medical student, Ernesto 'Che' Guevera, and his friend Alberto Granado. It also explored political and social issues of South America that influenced Guevara and shaped his future. Five years in the making, Redford was credited by director Walter Salles for being instrumental in getting the film made and released.

Back in front of the camera, Redford received good notices for his turn in director Lasse Hallstrom's An Unfinished Life (2005) as a cantankerous rancher who is forced to take in his estranged daughter-in-law (Jennifer Lopez)—whom he blames for his son's death—and the granddaughter he never knew he had when they flee an abusive relationship. The film, which sat on the shelf for many months while its distributor Miramax was restructured, was generally dismissed as clichéd and overly sentimental. Meanwhile, Redford returned to familiar territory when he signed on to direct and star in an update of The Candidate.

Redford at the 1988 Cannes Film Festival.

Redford had long harbored ambitions to work on both sides of the lens. As early as 1969, Redford had served as the executive producer forDownhill Racer. His first outing as director was in 1980's Ordinary People, a drama about the slow disintegration of an upper-middle class family, for which he won the Academy Award for Best Director. Redford was credited with obtaining a powerful dramatic performance from Mary Tyler Moore, as well as superb work from Donald Sutherland and Timothy Hutton, who also won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor.

Redford did not direct again until The Milagro Beanfield War (1988), a well-crafted, though not commercially successful, screen version of John Nichols' acclaimed novel of the Southwest. The Milagro Beanfield War is the story of the people of Milagro, New Mexico (based on the real town of Truchas, in northern New Mexico) overcoming big developers who set about to ruin their community and force them out because of tax increases. Other directorial projects have included the period family drama A River Runs Through It (1992), based on Norman Maclean's novella, and the exposé Quiz Show (1994), about the quiz show scandal of the late 1950s. Redford worked from a screenplay by Paul Attanasio with noted cinematographer Michael Ballhaus and a strong cast that featured John Turturro, Rob Morrow, and Ralph Fiennes. Redford handpicked Morrow for his part in the film (Morrow's only high-profile feature film role to date), because he liked his work on Northern Exposure. Redford also directed Matt Damon and Will Smith in The Legend of Bagger Vance (2000).

Beside his directing and producing duties, Redford continued acting. He played opposite Meryl Streep in Sydney Pollack's Oscar-winning Out of Africa, Michelle Pfeiffer in the newsroom romance Up Close & Personal, and Kristin Scott Thomas in The Horse Whisperer, which he also directed. Redford also continued work in films with political context, such as Havana (1990), Sneakers (1992), Spy Game (2001), and Lions for Lambs (2007). Redford married his longtime partner, Sibylle Szaggars, at the luxurious Louis C. Jacob Hotel in Hamburg, Germany. She had moved in with Redford in the 1990s and shares his Sundance, Utah, home.

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Titian in the Frari (Venezia)