Sunday, August 31, 2008

Allow Us to Be Serious For a Moment...



We don't know much about New Orleans, other than the fact that Labelle sang about a hooker from there, and a lot of our acquaintances visit to drink a lot and have sex. (We suppose to take a break from drinking a lot and having sex in Manhattan.) We also know that some of our friends in bloggerspace are from New Orleans, and we'd like them to know that we're keeping them in our thoughts and sending as much positivity as our jaded, bitter hearts can muster up. Seriously, we're thinking of you. Stay safe, and we look forward to continued hilarity and snarkiness from the New Orleans chapter of fabulosity.

But Does She Do Windows?



The fabulous Miss Nancy Walker: MGM star, Broadway hoofer, Bounty picker-upper, quintessential Jewish mom, and director of Can't Stop the Music (1980), starring Village People. You can't make a resume like that up. We adore her!

Happy Labor Day Weekend!



It may be the last weekend of August, but Sommer is forever.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Trifecta of Greatness

Here at Stirred, Straight Up with a Twist, we are nothing if not democratic: to us, greatness is greatness, whether it means being a great singer, a great movie star, or a simply great Weezy Jefferson. August 29's birthdays encompass yet another TV Immortal, plus the Queen of the Blues and one of the greatest Hollywood Goddesses of all time. It's good to be a Virgo!



By all accounts as fiery, lusty and tart as her magnificent voice, Dinah Washington (August 29, 1924 - December 14, 1963) had three ruling passions: music, minks and men, not necessarily in that order. Officially married seven times (some sources claim eight or nine), La Washington worked hard and lived harder. Pink champagne was demanded -- and provided -- at her recording sessions, and Washington was well aware of, and not afraid to tout, her own abilities. "I can sing anything," she once remarked, "anything at all." And she could, and did: dirty blues, straight R&B, pop ballads, jazz standards, pseudo-rock pop trifles -- all received the Washington treatment at one time or another, and although they varied wildly in songwriting quality and craftsmanship, Washington's authoritative presence and voice somehow made them work.

A superstar of the black community during the 1950's, with such singles as "Baby Get Lost" (1949), "I Won't Cry Anymore" (1951), and "TV is the Thing This Year" (1953) staples on R&B radio and jukeboxes, Washington finally earned the respect of the jazz community with a legendary appearance at 1958's Newport Jazz Festival. The following year, she "crossed over" to the pop charts in a big way, with her million-selling revival of "What a Diff'rence a Day Made." The Queen of the Blues was bigger than ever, but she didn't live much longer to enjoy her worldwide acclaim: four years later, she was dead at age 39, after combining too much liquor and the diet pills she used constantly to battle her bulge.



The beloved Isabel Sanford (August 29, 1917 - July 9, 2004) first came to national attention with her role as Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn's maid in the 1967 social comedy, Guess Who's Coming to Dinner? A few years later, she created the role which made her a TV superstar: Louise "Weezy" Jefferson, wife of blowhard dry cleaning magnate George Jefferson. The couple made their debut as recurring characters on All in the Family, then were given their own show, The Jeffersons, in 1975. It ran for a remarkable 11 seasons, with Sanford winning a Best Actress in a Comedy Series Emmy in 1981; even more remarkably, she was the first African-American actress to do so.

After The Jeffersons ended its run, the public affection for George and Weezy remained so strong, that Sanford and co-star Sherman Hemsley continued to recreate their characters on both series television (Roseanne) and in commercials (Old Navy, Nick at Nite). The only one of seven children to survive infancy, Isabel Sanford passed away in 2004 from complications stemming from heart disease.



Not unlike her predecessor as Hollywood's #1 Swede, Garbo, Ingrid Bergman (August 29, 1915 - August 29, 1982) had very definite ideas about stardom and her own image. After being signed by producer David O. Selznick in 1939 to star in his Intermezzo, she flatly refused to change her name or alter her appearance in any way (which he suggested include capping her teeth and plucking her eyebrows). This naturalness and independent spirit made the luminous Bergman stand out among her lacquered sisters, and she became one of the decade's reigning superstars.

Aside from Casablanca (1942), which she herself referred to dismissively as "the one I made with Bogart," some of Bergman's most acclaimed films included Gaslight (1944, Best Actress Oscar), The Bells of St. Mary's (1945) and Notorious (1946). She also appeared extensively on stage, winning the first-ever Best Actress Tony for Joan of Lorraine in 1947. Shortly after, Bergman met Italian director Roberto Rossellini; the two began an affair, which resulted in a pregnancy while Bergman was still married to her first husband, Aron Lindstrom. The resulting scandal was shocking at the time, and seemingly ruinous for Bergman's career; she was off the American screen for over half a decade.

In 1956, Bergman made her comeback via Anastasia, perhaps not ironically as an exiled princess. She won her second Best Actress Oscar the following year; her friend Cary Grant accepted it on her behalf. She made her first post-scandal public appearance in 1958 at the next Oscars ceremony, and was given a standing ovation. Although her days as a viable leading lady were nearing an end, Bergman continued to act in Hollywood and European productions, as well as the occasional television event and on stage. In 1974, her supporting role in the all-star Agatha Christie mystery, Murder on the Orient Express, won her a third Academy Award.

Ingrid Bergman died on her 67th birthday in 1982, after a long battle with breast cancer.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

2-For-1 Special

It's not every day that two TV Icons share a birthday; thankfully, August 28 is such a day.

Glamorous Roxie Roker (August 28, 1929 - December 2, 1995) broke ground as the female half of television's first interracial couple, on The Jeffersons (1975-1985). Aside from her television career (which included the ubiquitous appearances on The Love Boat and Fantasy Island), Roxie was also a Tony-nominated stage actress for her role in The River Niger (1974). Wed to producer Sy Kravitz from 1962 until their divorce in 1985, Roxie is the mother of hunky rock star, Lenny Kravitz. In 1995, Roxie passed away after a battle with breast cancer.


ROXIE ROKER (L) AND FRIEND, 1970'S

America's favorite spinster, Nancy Kulp (August 28, 1921 - February 3, 1991), gained TV immortality via her portrayal of Miss Hathaway on The Beverly Hillbillies (1962-1971). She also played similar characters in such films as The Parent Trap (1961) and Strange Bedfellows (1965). After Hillbillies left the air, Kulp continued to work on television and in theater; and in 1984, now living in Pennsylvania, she ran as a Democrat for a seat in the United States House of Representatives. Her opponent was a Republican who had already occupied the seat for twelve years; to Kulp's dismay, her former Hillbillies co-star, Buddy Ebsen, came out publicly and vocally in her opponent's favor. Kulp, who lost the election, never forgave Ebsen's betrayal, which she also deemed "needless and cruel."

Nancy Kulp passed away in 1991 from cancer of the larynx; in her final years, she became somewhat more forthcoming about her long-speculated-about sexuality, but never fully busting the closet open. A product of her times, she never used the word "lesbian" in a 1989 interview with gay journalist/historian Boze Hadleigh. Asked point-blank about her orientation, Kulp responded, "I'd appreciate it if you'd let me phrase the question. There is more than one way. Here's how I would ask it: 'Do you think that opposites attract?' My own reply would be that I'm the other sort--I find that birds of a feather flock together. That answers your question."


NANCY KULP (L) LOOKING RATHER LESBIAN CHIC IN THE BEVERLY HILLBILLIES, C. 1967

Happy Birthday, Roxie and Nancy! In your own unique ways, you changed the face of television. It must be one helluva TVLand party right now in your neck of the woods.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

4 Out of 5 Doctors Agree!



Smoking will instantly make you thin, rich, and flawless.

Accessories Are Everything



The neckerchief really makes the outfit, n'est-ce pas?

Meet Tammy



Hair hopper. Bra dropper.

THANKS

When Harry Met Martha


HARRY REEMS (August 27, 1947)


MARTHA RAYE (August 27, 1916 - October 19, 1994)

The Big Mouth and a Big Cock. Perfect together.

Incidentally, Harry Reems is aging just fine, thank you. Just so's ya know.


HARRY REEMS AT THE SUNDANCE SCREENING OF INSIDE DEEP THROAT (2005)

Here's Johnny

Johnny Eck (August 27, 1911 - April 28, 1991) was born without legs and with a truncated spine, reaching a full-grown height of 18 inches. Turning his physical deformity into his livelihood, Johnny Eck began a remarkable career which took him from carnivals to vaudeville to Hollywood.



At the age of 10, Eck was performing a duo act with his normal-sized twin brother, Robert, featuring magic tricks and Johnny's famous one-armed handstand. Their most memorable bit, though, was described by Wikipedia thus:

Robert would be "recruited" from the audience for a hypnosis stunt, then kept on-stage for a sawing-in-half illusion. During the illusion, Robert would be switched with Eck and a dwarf wearing trousers that covered his whole body, disguising him as the subject's pelvis and legs. Raboid would saw between Eck and the dwarf. Eck would then chase his "legs" across the stage.


WITH TWIN BROTHER ROBERT, C. 1940'S

In 1932, Johnny Eck made a memorable appearance in director Tod Browning's infamous movie, Freaks. The film so disturbed and repulsed audiences, it had the distinction of being banned in most cities and countries for three decades; MGM virtually disowned the project, and in the few areas where it did receive release, it was often in a highly-censored version. Perhaps what audiences and critics of the time found the most disturbing and difficult to grasp, was Browning's obvious sympathy for his cast of human oddities (all culled from real-life sideshows), and the moral that the true "freaks" were the "normal" characters who treat the oddities with disdain and outright cruelty. It's a strange, beautiful, frightening film which still packs a wallop, and Johnny Eck is absolutely charming in it.


THE CAST OF FREAKS (1932). JOHNNY ECK IS FRONT AND CENTER.

If Freaks didn't make Johnny Eck the next Gable, it didn't hurt his career, either. He also appeared, in costume, as "The Gooney Bird" in three of MGM's Tarzan films. Aside from his occasional acting jobs, Johnny kept busy with his stage act, and also found time to do remarkable woodwork, including a full, miniature-scale functioning circus. He kept up a voluminous personal correspondence, much of which he embellished with his own watercolors; in addition, Johnny also was an accomplished screen painter.


JOHNNY WITH HIS HANDMADE MINIATURE CIRCUS, 1927


1985 POSTCARD FROM JOHNNY ECK, FEATURING HIS ARTWORK

Always warm and accessible to his fans, Johnny abruptly retreated into seclusion after a 1988 beating and robbery at the home he shared with Robert. Johnny passed away from a heart attack in 1991 at the age of 79; Robert died four years later. The twins are buried beneath one tombstone.

For Johnny Eck to have survived and thrived so well, for his fierce intelligence and embrace of the arts, we are in quiet awe. By all accounts, his talent was matched by his gentlemanly warmth, resilience and general positivity. Read more about him at
The Johnny Eck Museum, from which many of these images originate.

If it's Tuesday, it Must Be Fabulous



MISS TUESDAY WELD
(August 27, 1943)

An overbearing stage mother; a nervous breakdown by age nine; alcoholism by age twelve; and a suicide attempt soon after -- if ever Lifetime decides to make The Tuesday Weld Story, Drew Barrymore will have the role she was born to play.

Mixing an ingenue's charm with a hoyden's brashness, Tuesday cut a pretty wild path in 1960's Hollywood, somehow finding time to film such Stirred, Straight Up with a Twist favorites as Sex Kittens Go to College (1960), Return to Peyton Place (1961) and Lord Love a Duck (1966). Throughout the 1970's and 1980's, Weld was a frequent fixture in films and television, earning a reputation as a terrific actress who was often better than the movies she appeared in -- she even earned an Oscar nomination for one of the worst, Looking for Mr. Goodbar (1977).

With her final film credit listed as 2001, we hope that Miss Tuesday Weld still has a few tricks up her sleeve for us. Happy Birthday, Tuesday Weld! You're the prettiest poison we ever did see.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Miss Valerie Simpson



If you've ever lip-synced to "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" and "Reach Out and Touch (Somebody's Hand)," or twirled to "The Boss" and "I'm Every Woman" -- and, chances are if you're reading this blog, you have -- then you can thank Valerie Simpson (August 26, 1946). Since 1964, homegirl and her husband, Nick Ashford, have been composing sumptuous soul and righteous R&B for everyone from Ray Charles and Aretha Franklin, to Whitney Houston and Chaka Khan. Valerie was also an in-demand background vocalist for New York's famed Brill Building during the 1960's, often called upon to lend a touch of soul to a pop recording session.


L-R: VALERIE SIMPSON, JEAN THOMAS, ELLIE GREENWICH & MICKI HARRIS, C. 1965

Nick and Val's brief, yet productive, songwriting tenure at Motown from 1967-1971 yielded a string of classic duets for Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell; and they were largely responsible for crafting the early sound of a post-Supremes Diana Ross. Leaving Motown after feeling stifled in their ambitions as performers, Nick and Val became R&B superstars in their own right, alternating gorgeous ballads with anthemic, disco-tinged stompers. "Stay Free," "Is it Still Good to Ya" and "Found a Cure," among many others, are bona fide classics; their biggest hit as performers came in 1984, with the #1 smash, "Solid."


NICK AND VAL, C. 1982

The dynamic duo have continued to record and perform, as well as finding time to open and operate their famed New York eatery, Sugar Bar, which features an open-mike night. Don't tempt us.


NICK & VAL TODAY

Happy Birthday, Valerie Simpson! We're sure your day has been filled with love and song.

Our Favorite Things...

...include not only raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens, but also second-string heartthrob crooners, B-movie starlets, and husky-voiced jazz divas. Which is why we're delighted that August 26 commemorates a birthday for a representative of each group.



Smoothie-cutie Vic Dana (August 26, 1942) scored a massive hit in 1965 with "Red Roses for a Blue Lady." He recorded a number of albums which straddled the line between teen pop and cheezy-listening lounge, which means that he's quite the favorite around Stirred, Straight Up with a Twist. Vic now sells used cars in Paducah, Kentucky, and we hope that he's having fun doing so.



Va-va-va-voom vixen Yvette Vickers (August 26, 1936) is a cult heroine thanks to roles in Attack of the 50 Ft. Woman (1958) and Attack of the Giant Leeches (1959). She specialized in portraying slutty tramps, which means that she's also quite the favorite around Stirred, Straight Up with a Twist. Her film roles became scarce during the 1960's, but she kept busy with glamour modeling, stage work (including a run on Broadway in The Gang's All Here) and a flamboyant romantic life, which included a fling with Cary Grant and a long-term relationship with Jim Hutton. In recent years, Miss Vickers has been performing a cabaret act, and is at work on her memoirs.



We don't know much about Frances Wayne (August 26, 1924 - February 6, 1978), other than the fact that she looked like a helluva dame, and could sing her pompadour off. She was married to famed arranger/bandleader Neal Hefti, and often sang with his group, as well as being the featured canary of Woody Herman's orchestra. Her two solo albums, Songs for My Man (1956) and The Warm Sound of Frances Wayne (1957), are both available on CD, and are, of course, favorites around Stirred, Straight Up with a Twist.

Birthday Boy

Occasionally, we will be alerted to the birthday of an actor we know absolutely nothing about, save for the fact that we find him yummy. T.J. Ramini (August 26, 1975) falls into that category. With all due respect to his undoubted acting ability, we didn't examine his website any further than the photo gallery for some shirtless pics.



Monday, August 25, 2008

What Should We Title This Post?



Does Anyone Still Wear a Hat? or, You Spin Me Right 'Round, Baby!?

Who's the Fairest of Them All?

Gentleman of Style: Hubert de Givenchy






Eternal Longing

One of the reasons for being Grandmaster Funk lately is the sinking realization that, for the first time in over a decade, I probably won't be returning to my favorite place in the entire universe this fall. (No, not Fabulon!) For the past 13 years, it's been a twice-yearly tradition to visit Rome: the Eternal City.



Like so many gaylings, I fell in love with Rome via the movies: watching Audrey Hepburn zip around on a Vespa with Gregory Peck hanging on for deal life was a huge early influence. It's funny; even back then, Paris held much less appeal for me, even in its glamorous, Hollywood-ized idealization. Of course, I eventually did get to Paris, and I loved it; but Italy, and Rome in particular, has always had a strange hold on my imagination and senses.



I think it has to do with the ease and warmth of the Roman lifestyle. In their own distinct ways, the Parisians and the Romans are equally stylish; but the crucial differences are that, in Rome, the men are more impeccably turned-out than the women, and the seemingly effortless style they exude is in contrast with the sometimes-brittle elegance of the French.

My first trip to Rome was when I was 19; it was, of course, a tremendously exciting experience. I had been overseas once before, the previous year, to London. But this would be my first time experiencing a truly different environment. I was set to be in Rome for 7 days; on my first night, I began feeling ache-y and worn down. I assumed that it was the jet lag. The following morning, I went to the Vatican Museum, and midway through the tour, I nearly fainted. (Drama queen to the max!) I was rushed back to my hotel, and for the next 4 days, I was bedridden, alternating between absolute exhaustion and delirium -- at one point, I started hallucinating that I was floating above my body. My temperature soared to 104 degrees, and I finally, weakly, called the concierge and asked for an English-speaking doctor to be sent to my room.

He was tall, handsome, charming and -- of course -- impeccably turned out in a suit and tie. To this day, I still remember his gorgeous camel's hair overcoat and alligator doctor's bag. He cheerfully examined me, making small talk all the while, and, when it was all through (it turned out I had a double whammy of sinusitis and tonsilitis), pulled up a chair beside my bed and chatted for about 20 minutes while the hotel sent for my prescription. Try getting that from an American doctor! To this day, I remember his kindness in reassuring me and making me feel as comfortable as possible -- if you've ever been ill in a foreign country, you know how terrifying that can feel.

Thankfully, the pills started kicking in within 24 hours (Mama's awake!), and on my last day in Rome, I was determined to see and do everything. And I did. I saw the Colosseum. I saw the Pantheon. I saw the Fountain of Trevi. I saw the Mouth of Truth. I bought gelato from a street vendor near the Spanish Steps. I bought a pair of brown Dolce & Gabbana cigarette pants that I would kill to find again! Basically, I did Roman Holiday, and was absolutely exhilirated by it all. I wanted to greedily soak all of Rome up in a day, just in case I never saw it again. But in the back of my mind, I knew I would. I was in love.


FIRST ROMAN HOLIDAY, 1995

Since then, there hasn't been a year when I haven't returned. It's like going home. I stay at the same hotel, browse through the same shops, eat at the same restaurants. And, unlike here in New York, the service, retail and hospitality industries in Rome are not mere holding stations for actors/models/artists biding their time until their agent calls. They're time-honored professions, and I'm genuinely thrilled to see the same people every time I go back; and, for what it's worth, they seem to be genuinely happy to see me.

My favorites?

The barmen at my hotel, who are the funniest, most charming men on the planet, and who unfailingly spot me arriving for the first day of my visit clear across the lobby at 10 a.m., bound over for hugs and handshakes, and winkingly, half-jokingly ask, "Ready for your first Beefeater martini?"

The proprietress/hostess/waitress of a small, family-run ristorante who cries with affectionate greeting when I come back; who remembers that I love the tiny polpette (and keeps them coming for the entire meal); who remembers that pasta with fresh zucchini flowers is my best friend/favored traveling companion's favorite dish; who received a call that her mother had passed away during the course of one of my visits to the restaurant, and then came to apologize for not staying for the duration of my meal.

The adorable salesmen at one of the boutiques on the glamorous Via Condoti, who love to chat and gossip and ask about "Chelsea town" in New York; and who know, sometimes better than I, what I like to wear, and have racks of their choices ready and waiting.

And lest you think that I'm some hotshot V.I.P., let me reassure you that I travel economy, don't have a personal assistant calling ahead of time, and am -- rumors to the contrary -- an extremely low maintenance traveler. It took me years to figure out that it wasn't out of line to ask the concierge to, say, make dinner reservations; I just thought, if it's something so simple that you can do yourself, why on earth would you have someone else do it for you? So that's why I appreciate the gestures and friendliness even more; I really do think it's genuine, not for show, or done out of obligation.



2006

Of course, I love so much more about Rome: the beauty of the city itself; its wholly unique juxtaposition of the ancient with the modern; the absolutely wonderful food; and, of course, the men.



In the best possible sense, Rome never really changes. So I know it will be just as it was when I eventually go back next year (I grabbed those Orbitz fares for March the minute I saw them). And, God knows, there are a billion and one worse dilemmas than not making it to Rome for the umpteenth time. But I miss it so much, I ache. For the few days that I'm there, it almost feels as if I'm living someone else's life -- or, more accurately, a really heightened version of my own. And that's what a truly magical vacation destination should do, whether your idea of paradise is a tropical isle, a wooded cabin or la dolce vita. On my last visit, this past March, I didn't take any photographs at all. I was afraid that it might be my last visit for a long time, and in an odd way, I didn't want to document it for posterity. I wanted to hold and visualize the memories almost internally. I can still taste the food I ate on that trip. Does that sound strange?

Life can be a drudge. We all need total escape sometimes. In a very small way, that's what I try to recreate on here from time to time -- the same feeling of escapism that I have when I'm on holiday. Thanks for letting your self-indulgent blogger vent a little. I'm going to go watch Roman Holiday now.

Viva La Difference!

I knew I was different from other little boys from a very early age. I told kindergarten classmates that Judy Garland was my grandmother.



I held private, solitary concerts, re-enacting Diana Ross' Central Park performance.



I colored in the black & white illustrations of Nancy Drew books, giving the titian-haired sleuth...well, titian hair, as well as color-coordinated day dresses, gloves and shoes.



My parents, needless to say, were a bit worried; especially my mother. If only I could have shown her this:




I'm not saying one's right and one's wrong, but I think mom may have accepted my Matt Dillon fixation, had I promised to never pierce my septum or permamently place a mural on my face.

Dancing Queen


GO INTO YOUR DANCE (1935)

Ruby Keeler (August 25, 1909 - February 28, 1993) may have had a limited movie resume, but she created a film archetype: the wide-eyed naif who wins over the hardened show biz pros to become the toast of Broadway ("Kid, you're going out there a nobody, but you're comin' back a star!").

More or less working to support her family since the age of 13, Keeler got her start by lying about her age and becoming a chorus girl. She became a full-fledged star when Florenz Ziegfeld "discovered" her; she became bona fide show business royalty via her marriage, at age 18, to Al Jolson in 1928.

Keeler made her Hollywood debut in 1933's 42nd Street (the basis for the later, long-running Broadway adaptation); it was followed by similar successes, including Gold Diggers of 1933 and Dames (1934). However, by the dawn of the 1940's, Keeler had tired of the limelight, and retired after divorcing Jolson and settling into married life with her second husband. In 1971, director Busby Berkeley, who had helmed her greatest Hollywood successes, coaxed Keeler out of retirement to star on Broadway in the revival of the 1920's hit No, No Nanette; riding on the vogue of all things Deco, the production was a huge success, and Keeler was once again the toast of the town.

Keeler's early films are charmingly primitive to modern audiences; but her genuine spunk and incredible dancing talent are refreshing in this era of quick-cuts and MTV-style choreography. Today would have been Ruby Keeler's 99th birthday, and wherever she may be, we're sure there's a lot of tapping going on.

Yes, Sir!

It may be a cliche that Sir Sean Connery (August 25, 1930) is the world's sexiest senior citizen, but it also happens to be the truth. There aren't many near-octagenarians that we'd care to see naked, but Sir Sean tops that short list.



He was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, the son of a truck driver and a cleaning woman. Following various jobs, including milkman, lorry driver and coffin polisher, the strikingly handsome young Sean became an artists' model and bodybuilder, entering the 1953 Mr. Universe contest and placing third.




THE 1953 MR. UNIVERSE FINALISTS; SEAN CONNERY IS FOURTH FROM THE LEFT.

Stage, television and screen work soon beckoned; Connery toured with a production of Rodgers and Hammerstein's South Pacific, and made a handful of inconsequential films with titles like Hell Drivers and Action of the Tiger. In 1958, he made his biggest splash to date when he was cast opposite one of the biggest film stars in the world, Lana Turner, in the sudsy melodrama Another Time, Another Place. Connery's intense sex appeal immediately set him apart from the run-of-the-mill Hollywood pretty boys popular at the time.


PUBLICITY PORTRAIT FOR ANOTHER TIME, ANOTHER PLACE (1958)

It would be another four years before Connery won the role which would turn him into an instant icon and superstar; the producers of the proposed James Bond series, based on Ian Fleming's wildly successful novels, had originally envisioned the screen Bond as an urbane, David Niven/Cary Grant type. Connery's swarthy masculinity brought a heightened sexual allure to his characterization; while director Terence Young took Connery under his wing to bring the requisite elegance and refinement neccessary to complete the Bond persona. Dr. No (1962) had a decidedly modest budget, and neither Connery nor leading lady Ursuala Andress were considered "name" stars. After the film's debut, both would be indelibly imprinted in the public's consciousness, and Connery, in particular, became a worldwide phenomenon.


CONNERY AS THE QUINTESSENTIAL JAMES BOND IN DR. NO (1962)

From Russia with Love (1963), Goldfinger (1964), Thunderball (1965) and You Only Live Twice (1967) all followed in quick succession, each one furthering the Bond/Connery mystique and appeal. But Connery was tiring of appearing in a series; he also was chafing at the relatively low salary he was receiving under his original contract. After the first post-Connery Bond film, On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969), sputtered at the box office, Connery was lured back to the role with a $1 million paycheck for Diamonds are Forever (1971), which proved to be his "official" swan song to the franchise.


THUNDERBALL (1965)

Following his defection from Bond, Connery maintained his status as one of the world's most popular stars, with a series of critically and commercially successful projects like Murder on the Orient Express (1974), The Wind and the Lion and The Man Who Would Be King (both 1975). He really came into his own, and finally shed the Bond baggage for good, in the 1980's, thanks to roles in Highlander and The Name of the Rose (both 1986) and his Oscar-winning turn in The Untouchables (1987). It was during this time that Connery's reputation as being a seriously sexy older gent was established; and, indeed, he seems to have stopped the clock sometime in the late 1970's.


CONNERY AT A 1980 EVENT


SIR SEAN CONNERY C. 2006

Knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 2000, Connery is also the recipient of a 1998 Cecil B. DeMille Lifetime Achievement Award, and the 2006 AFI Lifetime Achievement Award, among many accolades. We humbly wish him a very Happy Birthday, Sir Sean Connery!
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