Anna May Wong was born Wong Liu Tsong on January 3, 1905 in Los Angeles, Ca. She was an American actress, considered to be the first Chinese American Hollywood movie star, as well as the first Chinese American actress to gain international recognition. Wong was infatuated with the movies and began acting in films at an early age. After playing in a few silent movies, She became increasingly frustrated by the stereotypical supporting roles she reluctantly played inHollywood. Wong left for Europe in the late 1920s, where she starred in several notable plays and films, among themPiccadilly(1929). Wong was featured in films of the early sound era, including Shanghai Express (1932) with Marlene Dietrich. She spent the first half of the 1930s traveling between the United States and Europe for film and stage work. In 1935, Wong was dealt the most severe disappointment of her career, whenMGM refused to consider her for the leading role of the Chinese character O-Lan in the film version ofThe Good Earth. Instead the role was to be played by a white actress. MGM offered Wong a supporting role of Lotus, the seductress, but she refused on principle. After several years touring China and studying their culture, In the late 1930s, she starred in several“B movies” for Paramount Pictures, portraying Chinese and Chinese Americans in a positive light. She paid less attention to her film career during World War II, when she devoted her time and money to help the Chinese cause against Japan. Wong returned to the public eye in the 1950s in several television appearances. In 1951, Wong made history with her television showThe Gallery of Madame Liu-Tsong, the first-ever U.S. television show starring anAsian American lead. She had been planning to return to film when she died in 1961, at the age of 56, from a heart attack. Her life and career were re-evaluated in the years around the centennial of her birth, in three major literary works and film retrospectives.
Carmen Kass (Wish)
Carmen Kass was born on September 14, 1978 in Tallinn, Estonia. When Kass was 14 years-old, she was discovered in a supermarket by a model scout from Milan. Her first venture into the modeling world was unsuccessful, and Kass left Milan after a short time. She moved to Paris at the age of eighteen. After appearing on the covers of Vogue, Elle, and several other well known magazines, she became noticed. Kass's first Vogue cover was French Vogue in November 1997. By 1999 she was walking the runways of top designers. While living in New York, she attended the Lee Strasberg Institute. She had a brief career in film where she played the female lead in the 2004 Estonian murder-mystery filmtitled Set Point in the international release.She also had a cameo appearance in the film Zoolander. In 1991, when Soviet tanks invaded Estonia, Carmen had to hide under a bridge and was one of 300,000 Estonians to join the human chain, celebrating Estonia's liberation. In February 2004, she joined Estonia's ruling Res Publica Party.Kass ran for the European Parliament after her homeland joined the European Union in May 2004. She won 2,315 votes from the Estonian electorate, but was not elected to the European Parliament. She currently resides between Los Angeles and Her homeland of Estonia.
Dorothy Lamour (Euphoria)
Mary Leta Dorothy Slaton was born December 10, 1914, New Orleans, LA. After she won a beauty contest as Miss New Orleans in 1931, she headed to Chicago to find her work as a singer, which was her dream. She landed in Hollywood in 1933, where she found roles in several movies, during an unsuccessful four year marriage to band leader Herbie Kaye in 1935. Later in 1936, Dorothy got the part of Ulah in The Jungle Princess(1936). This film was a huge success and Dorothy stole the show in her wrap-around sarong. The sarong became her signature and she wore it in five more movies. She is best known for her roles in the Road films for Paramount, co-starring with Bob Hope and Bing Crosby. The trio starred inRoad to Singapore(1940),Road to Zanzibar(1941),Road to Morocco (1942),Road to Utopia (1945) andRoad to Bali(1952). A final "Road" picture, Road to the Fountain of Youth was in the works in 1977, until Bing Crosby's sudden death. Her career began to trail off as she only did ten films between 1941 and 1987. Dorothy died at 81 of an undisclosed ailment on September 22, 1996 in Los Angeles, California. Dorothy was a great actress who could show great range in both comic and dramatic roles.
Frida Kahlo (The Visit)
Frida Kahlo was born on July 6, 1907 in Coyoacan, Mexico. Disabled by Polio as a child, she was seriously injured in a traffic accident at the age of 18, leaving her in a body cast for months. Her dreams of becoming a doctor were taken from her. While confined to her bed, thoughts of becoming an artist became a reality. She began to paint as a way to pass time alone in her bedroom. After her recovery, she joined the Mexican communist party where she met muralist Diego Rivera in 1927. They married a year later. The marriage had many ups and downs due to Diego's extra marital affairs. For her early life, she was mostly confined to home due to problems surfacing from her accident. Eventually she began to travel with Diego through Mexico and the United States. While he was working, she spent a lot of time painting self-portraits in a Mexican folk style. "I paint self-portraits because I am often alone, because I am the person I know best." She was noticed by artist Andre Brenton, who arranged for a solo show of her work in New York in 1938. It was a great success and a second show was set in Paris the following year. The Louvre purchased one of her paintings making her the first Mexican artist to be featured in their exhibit. Throughout the 1940s she continued to exhibit in Mexico, the United States and began to teach. Her health, which was always weak, began to decline. Shortly before her death in 1953, she had her first solo show in Mexico. It wasn't until the 1970s when her art was rediscovered and popularized. She finally became an important figure in art and an icon for Mexicans and for all women in the arts. "Feet, what do I need you for when I have wings to fly."
Gwili Andre (Queen of Hearts)
Gwili Andre was born February 4, 1908 in Copenhagen, Denmark. Andre came to Hollywood in the early 1930s with the intention of establishing herself as a film star after working as a model in Europe. In 1930, she moved to New York City with her first husband where she was reportedly spotted by David O. Selznick at the premiere of a Broadway show. Selznick was taken by her beauty and arranged for a screen test. She was signed to RKO Studio and, in 1932 appeared in Roar of the Dragonand Secrets of the French Police. Her striking looks were compared to that of Greta Garbo and Marlene Dietrich. Sadly, her acting reviews were not as positive. The beauty in her photographs could not be matched in her acting. The studio promoted her nonetheless, and she found roles in No Other Woman and A Woman's Face opposite Joan Crawford. By the early 1940s, Andre's film career had come to a standstill. Her final role was a minor part in one of the popular Falcon series,The Falcon's Brother in 1942. She did not return to the screen, although she spent the rest of her life trying to arrange a comeback. On February 5 1959, Andre died in a fire that started in her Venice, California apartmentwhere she lived alone.=
Imogen Cunningham (Trista Pena)
*The painting is based on a photograph taken by ImogenImogen was born on April 12, 1883 in Portland, Oregon. She was an American photographer who is best known for her portraits and her images of plant life. Her interest in photography developed when she went to University of Washington in 1903. Cunningham studied chemistry because a professor told her that this subject would be an excellent background for photography. Her interest in photography deepened when she saw the work of photographer Gertrude Kasebier. In 1906, Cunningham acquired her first camera. When Imogen graduated she worked as a professional photo-technician (1907-1909) for photographer Edward Curtis. Later she studied printmaking, on a scholarship, in Germany. Upon her return to Seattle, Cunningham set up a studio and took romantic photos of several artist friends who had studios nearby, inspired by some of her favorite writings. Cunningham's most creative period came in the 1920s and 1930s, when she was recognized as an innovator. She still had young children and her husband was teaching so most of her work was done from home, where her style changed drastically. Her pictures became tightly focused, and her subjects were often found in nature. One of the best known of this period is 1925's Magnolia Blossom. Cunningham's photographs of flowers were similar to the famous paintings of Georgia O'Keefe. In 1934, Cunningham was offered a job in New York by Vanity Fair. By the 1950s, Cunningham's work was reaching a wider audience and earning her more recognition. In 1970, when she was 87 years old, Cunningham was granted a Guggenheim Fellowship. Three years later, at the age of 90, Cunningham had two major exhibitions in New York City. At the age of 92, Cunningham began what would be her last book, After Ninety. The book featured portraits of the elderly, many of whom were her friends. The project was cut short by her death in San Francisco on June 23, 1976. "Very few photographers have encompassed the longevity, thematic diversity, and sublime vision manifested by Imogen Cunningham."
Joan Crawford (Linger)
Joan Crawford was born in Texas on March 23, 1905 by the name of Lucille Fay Lesueur. Her father left the family a few months before she was born. In 1919, after moving to Kansas, she entered a school where she had to cook and clean for her room and board. The head mistress was said to be very abusive towards Joan. After she graduated, she joined a dance group in 1924 with the hopes of leaving Kansas City. There were rumors of prostitution to help earn her keep. She moved to New York to become a Broadway chorus girl. Here she was noticed by MGM and was sent to California to dance in silent films, at the age of 20 and was given the name Joan Crawford. While on a shoot, she met Douglas Fairbanks Jr., and shortly later they were married. But in 1933, they were divorced after she allegedly had an affair with her co-star Clark Gable. Her lack of education due to her unstable childhood, left her extremely insecure. During her second marriage, she got a phone call saying that someone had leaked a stag film of her, to the studio. It was only a scam, but it caused her great grief. After her second marriage failed, she adopted a baby girl. Two years later, in 1941, she married for the third time to Phillip Terry. They adopted a second child, a boy. In 1946, at 41 years of age she found herself divorced again with two children. She was no longer being offered choice rolls and her “shelf-life” had expired. The industry was not kind to aging women. She went through a dark period and became a heavy drinker and abusive. She rebounded in 1945 and won an Academy Award for Mildred Pierce. In 1956, she married for the fourth time to the CEO of Coca-Cola. She became involved with the company, and was placed on the board. After her husband's death three years later she was alone again. She spent her last decade a virtual recluse. On May 10, 1977 she died in her bed beautifully dressed. It is believed that she took sleeping pills to end her life. Her daughter Christina (the author of Mommie Dearest) said of her mother, “she never felt love as a child so she never knew what love was”. Sadly, her life was a series of moves with the hopes to “find” love, that she never discovered.
Josephine Baker (Two Loves Have I)
Freda Josephine McDonald was born June 3, 1906, St. Louis, Missouri, U.S. She spent her youth in poverty before learning to dance and finding success on Broadway. The divide and racism made it difficult to find success in America. In the 1920s, she moved to France which was a major turning point. In a performance called La Folie du Jour, Baker danced wearing little more than a skirt made of 16 bananas. The show was wildly popular and Baker soon became one of Europe's most popular and highest-paid performers. In 1936, riding the wave of popularity she received in France, Baker returned to the United States to perform in the Ziegfeld Follies. She was hoping to establish herself as a performer in her home country. However, she was mostly met with a hostile, racist reaction and devastated, quickly returned to France. She worked for the French Resistance duringWorld War 11. Following the war, Baker spent most of her time at Les Milandes with her family. In 1947, she married French orchestra leader Jo Bouillon, and beginning in 1950 began to adopt babies from around the world. She adopted 12 children in all, creating what she referred to as her “rainbow tribe” which was an “experiment in brotherhood.” She often invited people to the estate to see these children, to demonstrate that people of different races could in fact live together harmoniously. In the 1950s and '60s she devoted herself to fighting segregation and racism in the United States. In April 1975, Baker performed at the Bobino Theater in Paris, in the first of a series of performances celebrating the 50th anniversary of her Paris debut. Just days later, on April 12, 1975, Baker died in her sleep of a cerebral hemorrhage. She was 68. On the day of her funeral, more than 20,000 people lined the streets of Paris to witness the procession, and the French government honored her with a 21-gun salute, making Baker the first American woman in history to be buried in France with military honors. While America was not kind to her, she always said her two loves were France and America.
Julia Jean Mildred Frances Turner was born February 8, 1921 in Wallace, Idaho. In 1929, her father was murdered and it was shortly thereafter her mother moved her and the family to California where jobs were easier to come by. As she matured, she became obsessed with film and hustled to find work in the industry. At the age of 17, she finally landed a small role in a film. It was the film Love Finds Andy Hardy(1938) starring Mickey Rooney, in which she had another small part in, which left heads turning. By the 1940s Lana was snatching up good roles in such films asJohnny Eager (1941),Somewhere I'll Find You (1942) and Week-End at the Waldorf(1945). Her private life was not as successful and was a threat to her public career. In all, she married 8 times. In 1958, upon walking in on an abusive attack of Lana, her daughter Cheryl Crane, fatally stabbed Lana's boyfriend, gangster Johnny Stompanato. Cheryl was acquitted due to the nature of the event, but it was widely publicized. These and other incidents interfered with Lana's career, but she persevered. She had a comeback in the 1959 movie Imitation of Life. By the 1960’s, however, the roles began to lessen. Her final work came in the acclaimed TV seriesFalcon Crest (1981) in which she starred from 1982-1983. Lana was still as beautiful as ever. She died June 25, 1995, in Culver City, California, after a long bout with cancer. She was 75 years old.
Leslie Caron (The Butterfly Effect)
Leslie Claire Margaret Caron is a French-American actress and dancer who appeared in 45 films between 1951 and 2003. She was born in France on July 1, 1931. Taking after her mother, Leslie herself began taking dance lessons at age 11. In 1948, the legendary Gene Kelly and his wife saw her in a production of the ballet La Rencontre. A year later, he remembered her in his search for a co-star in, the oscar winning, An American in Paris (1951). Kelly and newcomer Caron's touching performances won a total of six Oscar awards, including "Best Picture", plus a Golden Globe for "Best Picture in a Musical or Comedy". She went on to be paired with greats such as Fred Astaire. But it wasn’t until Gigi (1958), that audiences were reminded, once again of Leslie's unique, international appeal. She successfully won awards and Oscars during the 60’s for films such as Fanny and The L Shaped Room. She continued to work on stage in London throughout the 70’s and 80’s. One of the few MGM post-musical stars to enjoy a long, lasting dramatic career, Leslie Caron is still continuing today though on a more limited basis. She has received a number of Life Achievement Awards for her contributions to both film and dance.
Marlene Dietrick (She Talks to Angels)
Marie Magdelene Dietrich was born in Berlin, Germany on December 27, 1901. By the time she was in her mid-teens, Marlene had discovered the stage. In 1921, she applied for an acting school and was accepted. While appearing in several stage productions, she was setting the world on fire. Her first film began in 1922, and in 1923 while filmingThe Tragedy of Love(1923), she met her husband, Rudolf Sieber , who she remained married to until his death in 1976. Her first US film was Morocco(1930) with Gary Cooper, which later that year was followed byDishonored(1931). The later film didn’t get the best reviews, but was a success because of Marlene's presence. While she continued to bedazzle audiences, she was continually being cast as a prostitute. Marlene seemed to be typecast as a woman of low morals and she wanted different parts. In the filmDestry Rides Again(1939), she was finally cast as a Western saloon hostess, thus beginning a new direction for her. From the 40’s through the late 60’s she continued to have a favorable role on stage and screen. After breaking her leg in a performance, in the late 70’s, she was a shell of who she once was and never returned to acting. She spent the last 12 years of her life bed-ridden, and died on May 6, 1992 in Paris, France of natural causes at the age of 90.
Mary Nolan (Daisy Chains)
Mary Imogene Robertson was born December 18, 1902 in Louisville, Kentucky. When she was a child, She was placed in a foster home after her mother died from cancer. Eventually she moved to New York City and began working as a model. She was discovered by Ziegfeld who gave her a featured role in the Ziegfeld Follies, where she quickly rose to the top. During that time she had an affair with actor Frank Tinney who was married. In 1924, Frank beat Mary so badly that she had him arrested. Because of the huge scandal, Mary was fired from the Ziegfeld Follies. After moving to Germany and acting briefly, she returned in 1927 and signed with Universal. After two very successful movies, West Of Zanzibar and Desert Nights, she was given the lead role in the drama Shanghai Lady (1929). She was at the top of her game. Sadly, a second affair with studio executive Eddie Mannix left her in the hospital for several months, after she was physically abused by him. She became addicted to morphine during the recoveryBecause of the bad publicity, she moved to New York and began singing in night clubs. She struggled financially and was hospitalized for malnutrition. Mary was found dead in her Hollywood apartment on October 31, 1948. Next to her body was a child's poem and a handwritten note that said "If this were only true". She had died from an overdose of pills at the young age of forty-two.
Norma Shearer (Grand Illusions)
Edith Norma Shearer was a Canadian-American actress who was active on film from 1919 through 1942. She was born August 10, 1902, in Montreal, Canada. A Canadian-American actress, she was active on film from 1919 through 1942. Shearer often played spunky, sexually liberated roles. After winning a beauty contest, her mother took her to New York where she got a job as an extra in movies. While she struggled early on because of her cross eyed stare, her hard work and perseverance paid off and after starring in several movies, she won an Oscar inThe Divorcee in 1930. During the 1930s, she focused on major roles in her husband, Irving Thalberg's, prestige projects:The Barretts of Wimpole Street (1934) andRomeo and Juliet(1936) (her fifth Oscar nomination). After her husband’s death in 1936, MGM more-or-less forced her into a six-picture contract. Almost landing the part of Scarlett O'Hara in Gone With the Wind, she was rejected because of her cross eyed stare. She retired in 1942 and later that year married Sun Valley ski instructor Martin Arrouge. From then on, she avoided the limelight. Shearer's fame declined after her retirement, but she was rediscovered in the late 1950s, when her films went to television, and once again in the 1970’s, when her films found revival on the stage. On June 12, 1983, Shearer died ofpneumonia in Woodland Hills, Ca. She won six Academy Awards in her lifetime. She was best known for her roles in Marie Antoinette and The Women.