Friday, 30 April 2010

Art Deco?!

I went to see The Hudsucker Proxy at the BFI last night, mainly on the insistence of my sister who loves the film. In my opinion it was not great - I described it as a very expensive, beautifully shot Jerry Lewis film, without the charm. (And I hate Jerry Lewis!)

The Art Deco sets were certainly quite spectacular. But if you want Art Deco, why watch that when you can have the real thing? Happy Friday!

Thursday, 29 April 2010

This beats the Party Leaders' debate...

Italian TV is indeed a wonder to behold! Imagine if we could settle down of an evening to watch the telly, and instead of the Brown-Cameron-Clegg circus THIS came on? Stryx! I'd love it...

Mia Martini - Bene:


Gal Costa - Relance:

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

From Brazil to New York

I'm not in the mood to be out of bed on this dull Wednesday morning. What better than a little Carmen Miranda to cheer everyone up?!



Ay Caramba!

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Ba da ba da da da da da da



It also happens to be the birthday today of one Anouk Aimée, one of the most beautiful women ever to appear on screen.

Mademoiselle Aimée was born into a Parisian acting family, so it was no surprise really that she made her on-screen acting debut at the age of fourteen. She immediately caught the eye of the greatest of European directors, most particularly Frederico Fellini, who cast her in both La Dolce Vita and , and Jacques Demy who cast her in Lola. It was for her role in the internationally acclaimed Un Homme et Une Femme in 1966, however, that she is most famous.

A darling of the Swinging Sixties set, she went on to marry that archetypal 60s rebel actor Albert Finney. Her film career ever since may not have made any ripples outside of France, but she is still in demand - at the ripe old age of 78 - for cameo roles today, not least in the forthcoming movie adaptation of Jackie Collins' Paris Connections.

Bon Année, ma cherie!



Anouk Aimée on IMDB

Sock it to me, sock it to me!

Happy 71st birthday today to the "Sock it to me" girl from Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In Miss Judy Carne!



Unbelievably to us now, its non-stop corny jokes and sketches made Laugh-In a worldwide sensation in the late 60s, laying the ground for such manic classics as Banana Splits, and providing a platform to launch the careers of such modern greats as Goldie Hawn.

Northampton-born Judy's career never quite reached those Oscar-winning dizzy heights. She was married for a while to Burt Reynolds (one of four husbands), later admitted that she was bisexual, and retired from showbiz after a life-threatening car crash in the late 70s to (hopefully) a happy retirement in the UK. Here she is, in a montage of screen appearances set to her bizarre cash-in single based on "that" catchphrase - Enjoy!



Judy Carne's autobiography "Laughing on the Outside, Crying on the Inside"

Monday, 26 April 2010

"Leave your troubles...outside!"



Madame Acarti, with the benefit of the annual BFI membership my sister bought him as a birthday prezzie, booked us to see a special members' showing of my all-time number one favourite film Cabaret last night!

Mere words cannot describe the influence this divinely decadent movie had upon me when I first saw it in the late 70s or early 80s - the magnificent Kander & Ebb songs, the genre-breaking atmosphere of sleaze, Bob Fosse's choreography, the chilling social upheaval that forms the backdrop to a weird doomed romance, the divine Michael York, and of course the Oscar-winning comibination of Liza Minnelli and Joel Grey!

Suffice to say I was overjoyed to see it again on the big screen...



Cabaret on Wikipedia

Sunday, 25 April 2010

Plague - the musical?



We all trooped off to Sloane Square this afternoon - dozens of us, true "Almondettes", following the darling boy around the country, travelling hundreds of miles for one of his smiles - and not one of us knew quite what to expect. This was, after all, a "work in progress" by esteemed playwright Mark Ravenhill (he of Shopping and Fucking notoriety, and whose Bette Bourne - A Life in Three Acts we went to see recently).

Anyhow it turned out to be a very intriguing experience indeed. No-one would (obviously) expect a set of songs about the devastation of the bubonic plague to be cheerful. It was certainly not that. What it was turned out to be a quite spectacular set of enigmatic part-Brechtian, part-folk songs, all with a major connecting theme - the experiences of people living in an era when everyone seemed to be dropping dead around them.

Being a "rehearsal", we had to dump our bags and cameras and phones in safe storage, and were not allowed to applaud until the whole piece was done. A weird experience, which made the atmosphere all the more dramatic. Marc Almond (quite rightly, given the sombreness of the piece) was merely one of the players alongside Omar Ebrahim and Nigel Richards. It would have been inappropriate to have a gang of manic Marc fans cheer his every move while other had equally important songs to sing, after all...

The songs themselves were exceptionally complex - given the theme this was not unexpectedly so - yet, my goodness, did these players do them brilliantly! Songs about plague pits, deserted streets, people dropping dead in the road, lovers who dare not kiss, women waving their newly-grown buboes (tumours) at each other as they plan their funerals, "survivors" who return from the country being shunned by those who stayed in the city - none of these topics is easily set to music, and Mr Ravenhill and his musical collaborator Conor Mitchell provided the performers with some tricky pieces to present.

Mr Almond inevitably had the most memorable number for his own - a little ditty about a vain individual who had shaved his/her head to avoid the plague yet had purchased a new fashionable wig that just happened to be made out of the hair of those unfortunates who were dumped into one of the pits...

All in all this was a very rewarding theatrical experience! I am rather glad that Marc actually turned up (it was touch and go at one point, according to his own website), and I am also quite pleased that he was quite deliberately not given the star treatment. He was absolutely brilliant, but his fellow players were also excellent, given the incredibly "experimental" style of music they all had to sing. The whole was more than a sum of its parts, and I look forward to the finished version!

A fabulous day with fabulous friends (from MySpace and distant parts)! I look forward to the next get together...

"Something in your eyes was so inviting"



Today it's time for some Sunday Music with a bit of a twist... This afternoon I and a gang of faithful Almondettes, including Ange from Hertfordshire, Yvonne from Scotland and Tony from out East (London that is), are booked to see Ten Plagues by the lovely Mark Ravenhill (who collaborated with Bette Bourne on his Life in Three Acts).

Today's performance is billed as a "work in progress" (ie a rehearsal), but the reason for the excitement is that one of the collaborators in the production is our fave starlet Marc Almond, who we expect will be there to perform this afternoon (fingers crossed!).

But back to the job at hand - here is Marc's own take on one of the lushest of Sunday Music standards, Strangers in the Night. Enjoy!

Saturday, 24 April 2010

Birthdays, like the corners of my mind



Two of our favourite old broads celebrate their birthdays today - Miss Shirley MacLaine and Miss Barbra Streisand. Imagine what kind of birthday party that would be!

Gee, But It's Good to be Here:


Don't Rain On My Parade:

Friday, 23 April 2010

"If I should take a notion to jump into the ocean, ain't nobody's business if I do"

Here's to what is predicted to be a glorious sunny weekend, I am going to see Marc Almond in Ten Plagues on Sunday and a BFI members' screening of Cabaret on Monday. It's supposed to climb to 21C (almost 70F) tomorrow, and I look forward to a day in the sunshine!

Here's a sumptuous combination of powerful soul voices to kick off the weekend in style - Miss Gladys Knight, Miss Chaka Khan and Miss Etta James in a rare appearance on stage together... Happy Friday!

Thursday, 22 April 2010

There's ringing in my ears



It's not very often that I feature rock guitarists - "legendary" or not - here at Dolores Delargo Towers. However, I sometimes make allowances for the pin-up fantasies of our youth. And in this case, a certain Peter Frampton - who celebrates his 60th birthday today - certainly fitted that bill for some of us (he was apparently one of Madame Acarti's early wank fantasies).

It meant little to me at the time - I barely remember the furore that his Frampton Comes Alive album caused during the long hot summer of 1976, being far more into Noosha Fox and 10CC (I was only just a teenager after all)...




However, I digress. Here is his most famous song - which in many people's memories is an anthem of the scorching heatwave Britain experienced 34 years ago. Mr Frampton himself is alive and well, and releases a brand new album Thank You Mr Churchill on 27th April this year. I shan't be buying it, but here is a little memory of that magnificent summer:

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

"You're my last breath, a breath of fresh air to me"

On yet another sunny morning, I feel like a little Moloko - the springboard from which emerged the fantabulosa Roisin Murphy!

Can it really be ten years since this was topping the charts?



The time may be "now", but time flies...

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

"The world was such a wholesome place until..."



Today marks the anniversary of the birth of the magnificent Betty Lou Gerson. Another name that will cause a few scratched heads, no doubt...

However, there is one magnificent contribution this woman made to cinematic (and camp) history above all others, and that is the fact that she provided the voice of one of the best of all Disney villainesses. Forget your evil Queens and witches and, above all, forget Glenn Close for a moment. Miss Gerson was the best, the one and only - Cruella De Vil!



Betty Lou Gerson - Disney Legend

Essential Reading!

We maintain an extensive library of classics here at Dolores Delargo Towers...















Happy Reading!

More at Gay On The Range

Monday, 19 April 2010

The Madonna of the 50s



"A forty-one inch bust and a lot of perseverance will get you more than a cup of coffee - a lot more. But most girls don't know what to do with what they've got."

Today would have been the 77th birthday of Miss Jayne Mansfield, bubbly, busty blonde starlet of such memorable movies as The Girl Can't Help It, Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? and Kiss Them For Me. Her photogenic beauty made her hugely popular with the 50s and 60s tabloid press, and rather than the demure title of "pin-up" she became one of the earliest ladies to be known as a "sex symbol". Miss Mansfield was also much in demand in the budding television industry, with numerous "guest star" appearances in top US shows with the likes of Jack Benny, Red Skelton, Bob Hope and Jack Paar. She was also a bit of a gay icon, as my blog last year revealed.

Her popularity on both sides of the Atlantic was so great that, had she lived, she might well have turned out to be a serious player in the celebrity stakes. Not for nothing has she been referred to today as "the Madonna of the Fifties" - and by the mid 60s Jayne commanded $35,000 a week for performing in Las Vegas!

However it was not to be. In 1967, aged just 34, her car slammed into the back of a tractor trailer, killing her instantly. Rumours abounded that she had been decapitated, and once again the media had a frenzy over the unexpected death of a glamorous blonde screen icon.

Some facts about Jayne Mansfield:
- Her stage name was in fact her married name by her first husband. She kept it because "it sounded prestigious".
- She married 1956 Mr. Universe Mickey Hargitay, much to the anger of his "employer" and would-be lover Mae West, who tried all manner of dirty tricks to smear their relationship.
- Her Sunset Boulevard home was so outrageous a landmark it became known as "The Pink Palace."


Here is a fabulous screen moment in the company of Miss Mansfield:



Jayne Mansfield on IMDB

Do The Bike

After a wonderful sunny weekend, the very last thing I feel like doing is going to work... On this Tacky Music Monday, I'd rather be dancing in a sunny field somewhere to this fabby piece of kitsch!



Do the Bike indeed...

Sunday, 18 April 2010

But she's a Queen, and such are queens



Just Madame Acarti and I having a typical evening in, here at Dolores Delargo Towers...

She bangs indeed



I was overjoyed to find that Ricky Martin had gone "au naturel" for a promo video for his latest tour. The music that came with the original was so dour that I decided to add something more appropriate to the background...

Apparently the fact he is nude throughout is being seen in some parts as an analogy for his recent coming-out. But who cares about analogies when you have something as gorgeous as this?

Saturday, 17 April 2010

Oh, those hair braids...

Another volcano-themed act for you - a real blast from the past! Here's the fantabulosa Precious Wilson and Eruption...

Have a great weekend (as long as you're not intending to fly, of course)!

Highly appropriate methinks!

As the UK continues to be grounded by the catchily-titled Eyjafjallajoekull in Iceland...

Friday, 16 April 2010

Bewitching...

Now this is how to make an entrance! Arrive on stage at The Hollywood Palace in pink chiffon, surrounded by leaping boy dancers, to rapturous applause...

It is nothing to do with the wine

Seventy one years ago, that great gay icon Dusty Springfield was born. I still miss her...



Happy Friday!

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Affairs, personal ads, vampires, lesbian mums and love in a cold climate



Another great evening's entertainment at Polari last night - and this time I took two "Polari virgins" with me, Paul and Jim. They were unsure what to expect but were pleasantly surprised by the prestigious venue, and by the friendliness of people. We were joined at our table by one of the regulars, the lovely Jeannie (who as far as I know is not gay and just stumbled across Polari one night, living as she does on the South Bank nearby).

Paul, resplendent in maroon shiny suit and top hat, introduced our opening reader, the brand new writer Adair Murray. Reading from his first published novel 1-4-3, the story of a loving gay couple who have been together for four years yet are both actually in relationships with others, young Mr Murray evoked some nods of recognition as he described the passion - and the dilemma - the boys experience. It moved our Paul to buy a copy of the book, which Adair duly signed. Available from Lulu publishing website.

Next up was a familiar favourite of mine Val [V.G.] Lee, author of one of my favourite collections of short stories As You Step Outside, which I read last year. Val is not just an excellent author, but also a very funny lady - regaling us with her experiences of lesbian life in Hastings, and of writing and answering personal ads in the specialist and rather dour Kenric magazine (the network of social groups for "women who play pool"). She chose to read an extract from her early novel Diary of a Provincial Lesbian, a very funny piece about Margaret and her sometimes stressful relationship with Georgie as they approach their tenth anniversary. Add into the pot a long-lost (and as it turns out should have remained so) schoolmate who comes to stay - with unpleasant consequences. Hilarious! The Diary of a Provincial Lesbian is available from Foyles.

Changing the tone somewhat, Paul read an extract from a short story he contributed to a new compilation called Bloody Vampires. Taking a slight twist on the genre, his story The Gift deals with another blood-related subject HIV - excellent stuff! Read more at Glasshouse Books.



After the break it was the turn of Oldie columnist and writer Sam Taylor. Her new novel East of Islington was described by the Independent thus:
Prudently labelled as "fiction", Sam Taylor's sketches from the fringes of inner London life have all the offbeat appeal of an urban Archers crossed with Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City.

East of Islington is peopled with darkly comic creations, many based on real-life denizens of the media. It offers a hilarious view of a generation of students who are - twenty years later - waking up to the fact that their lives remain east of where they'd like to be.
She certainly captures the "types" brilliantly! Our audience was in fits of laughter at her tale of the straight couple who decide that the term "special friends welcome" in a Sitges hotel advert must mean they can bring their dogs (one of whom is appropriately named "Cruiser"). You can imagine the rest... Buy a copy of East of Islington

Our headline reader was quite a significant "first", even for "London's peerless gay literary salon". Described by Beryl Bainbridge, no less, as "One of our great writers, of the calibre of Graham Greene and Nabokov", Francis King CBE is a veteran author of fifty novels over eight decades - his first was published in 1946. For some years he was drama critic for the Sunday Telegraph and he reviews fiction regularly for the Spectator. He is a former winner of the Somerset Maugham Prize, of the Katherine Mansfield Prize and of the Yorkshire Post Novel of the Year Award, and was long-listed for the 2003 Man Booker Prize.



A distinguished and stately man, he enthralled us with some background to his new novel Cold Snap (set, as the title suggests, in the long hard winter of 1946/7) and about attitudes to homosexuality and relationships in general at than time. His extract told the story of a young student Michael and his cousin Christine, and their relationship with German prisoners of war from a nearby camp. The story of Michael's love for the mortally ill Klaus was poignant and illustrated perfectly the sheer frustration gay people had at the time. Cold Snap is available from Foyles.

I loved it, the boys loved the evening - and a very full house appreciated this master of literature making a rare and welcome appearance! I can't wait to see how Mr Burston is going to try and top this one!

www.myspace.com/polarigaysalon

Mmmmmm!

It's a slow week... I need cheering up.

Miss Amanda Lear always manages to make me happy, especially when she performs a tableau like this!

Give A Bit Of Mmmmmm To Me, indeed...

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

We shall touch the Happy Isles

One of the greatest actors of all time Sir John Gielgud would have celebrated his 106th birthday today. Any excuse, really, for a bit of culture on this gloomy Wednesday...



’Tis not too late to seek a newer world.
Push off, and sitting well in order smite
The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
Of all the western stars, until I die.

It may be that the gulfs will wash us down:
It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles,
And see the great Achilles, whom we knew.
Tho’ much is taken, much abides; and tho’
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

The return of the best arse in pop!



From their website: "We are very excited to announce that Scissor Sisters return with their third album, Night Work, on June 28 2010. It's an album with a big heart, some killer dance moves and some simply gigantic tunes. The album will be preceded by the lead single Fire With Fire on June 20."

The full tracklisting of the album is as follows:

1. Night Work
2. Whole New Way
3. Fire With Fire
4. Any Which Way
5. Harder You Get
6. Running Out
7. Something Like This
8. Skin This Cat
9. Skin Tight
10. Sex and Violence
11. Night Life
12. Invisible Light



Scissor Sisters website

Pay attention, now...

"Sue avoids red nail polish as it would draw attention to her stubby hands."

Dress and make-up advice from the 1940s that we all should pay attention to!

Masters of weird

There is always a place in my heart for some genuinely eccentric pop purveyors. Who better to fit the bill than the fabulous Fischerspooner?

Monday, 12 April 2010

Grand National fashion show

Feeling a bit rough today? Not feeling you look your best because it's Monday, you were hungover and dressed in the dark? Spare a thought for what some women think is "appropriate posh gear" to go to the Grand National...













And the sky is grey...

On this Tacky Music Monday I have found something that left me speechless! I hope it makes your Monday that little bit brighter too...

Sunday, 11 April 2010

Uma bela voz

Ana Lains

On first hearing Boy George's new single Amazing Grace, my very first thought was "who's that girl singer"? So I decided to investigate...

The very lovely Ana Lains is a sensation in her native Portugal. With her crystal-clear vocals she has mastered that most traditional of musical styles Fado with a style and grace all her own. She has won many awards for her music, and celebrates ten years in the recording industry with a new album Quatro Caminhos, released this year and available on Amazon.

Here is Miss Lains with the first (eponymous) single from that album, an exquisite number...



Here she is singing her lovely tango-tinged mega-hit Poco Tempo:



And here is the lovely lady providing magnificent vocals for Boy George on that single...



http://www.myspace.com/analains

Songs du Jour

It is my tradition on Sundays to play something that fits the title of "Sunday Music". I may well succumb to that temptation later. However, much as I love to wallow in nostalgic, often cheesy and definitely tacky music here at Dolores Delargo Towers, there are always some new choons that catch my ear. Here is a selection of current numbers that get my feet tapping!

One of my recent discoveries is the lovely (and bizarrely named) Janelle Monae (unfortunately featuring some "modest" chap who calls himself Big Boi, who persists in trying to rap) with a catchy little ditty called Tightrope



http://www.myspace.com/janellemonae

Already on heavy rotation in my head, but only just released in the UK this week, is the latest from the lovely ladies of Bananarama - Love Don't Live Here:



How about the enigmatically titled artist known as "Him" with his 80s-sounding drag-tastic Icon Baby?



And there is always room for a new single by the utterly fabulous fierce ruling diva Jeffree Star! Get Away With Murder indeed...



Happy Sunday!

Saturday, 10 April 2010

Sunshine...

It the most glorious Spring morning, we're off en masse to Kew Gardens to celebrate the sunshine and blossoms, and all is right in the world. Time for some pretty boys singing dance music I reckon...

Friday, 9 April 2010

My little Cho-Cho



Heavens! We have lost another legend...

Love him or hate him, Malcolm McLaren was a true musical pioneer. His penchant for New York's underground led him to try and introduce a new type of music from across the pond to the unsuspecting disco-and-glam-crazy UK in the 1970s - music that attacked old genres, refused to conform to rock "norms" and would never ever be featured on mainstream radio. That music - spectacularly unsuccessful at first, as the buying public largely ignored the likes of the New York Dolls - became known as "Punk".

Later seen for what it was (impressive marketing), Mr McLaren paved the way for the Sex Pistols, Siouxie & The Banshees, mohicans, bondage trousers, Bow Wow Wow, Adam Ant, Boy George and everything that came afterwards. The world would never be quite the same again, thanks to him.

A sad loss indeed...





Malcolm McLaren obituary

Thursday, 8 April 2010

With a burning love inside

Nostalgia time... Is it really 30 years since this was at Number one in the charts? How times change! You just don't get dance routines like this on TV any more, more's the pity...

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Take It All Off!

Yesterday it was Liza, today it's Lorna's turn! Proving that there is (despite the jokes at her expense) another talented sister, and quite a comic too...

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Happy?

Just because we're all back to work today after the long weekend, I thought I'd post a little Liza to cheer us all up... Happy Tuesday!

Monday, 5 April 2010

Calculated madness sure feels sweet

Almost missed the 60th birthday today of the divine Agnetha Fältskog! John-John would never forgive me... Many happy returns to the Swedish diva!

A performer from her early teens, the young Agnetha actually had a recording career as early as 1968, and had (unsuccessfully) submitted songs for the Melodifestivalen (Sweden's heats for Eurovision) long before the embryonic Abba ever performed together.

Since the band's demise, despite being considered by the outside world as somewhat of a "recluse" (largely due to her refusal to reform the super-group) she has actually had a relatively successful solo career, not least with the 2004 hit album My Colouring Book (a very good collection of covers of 60s girl singers' tunes).

Here she is with a most unusual choice of solo single from 1983 (a cover of a 1979 single by the fantabulosa Noosha Fox), The Heat Is On:



And here's the "Almighty" remix of her 2004 single (originally done by Cilla Black) If I Ever Thought You'd Change Your Mind:



Agnetha's official website

Happy birthday Bette!

I couldn't let the 102nd anniversary of a legend go unnoticed... I love this!

Sentimental Journey..?



My love for the silky-smooth vocals and wholesome image of Miss Doris Day, whose 86th birthday it was this weekend, is well-known. Read my blog on the occasion of her birthday last year.

So it was by happy coincidence we went to see A Sentimental Journey - The Doris Day Story at the wonderful Wilton's Music Hall yesterday afternoon. A camp treat indeed!

Portraying the saintly Doris with spookily accurate aplomb was a lovely lady by the name of Sally Hughes, who had every vocal tic and sweet note off to a tee. This was not just a revue of Doris Day numbers, however, and we were treated to some startling insights into the life of Doris Kappelhoff.

For beneath the lip-gloss and pastels there is the shocking story of the teenager whose dancing career was ruined by a car crash, sang with big bands at fifteen, had an abusive husband (and a baby) by the age of seventeen and yet was catapulted to screen stardom with a virginal image that was never her own reality...

Always on the hunt for "a happy marriage", it seems that Miss Day never found one despite marrying five times!

The story is told partly in her own words, partly with the help of narration by her late son Terry (played brilliantly by Ian McLarnon), and the various beautiful songs from Miss Day's extensive repertoire serve to illustrate various emotional stages of her life. And what performances they were, too! Featuring only a tiny ensemble cast of five (with Elizabeth Elvin, Glyn Kerslake and Mark Halliday), the timing, choreography and vocals were all performed to perfection - Sentimental Journey, Que Sera Sera, At Last, Perhaps Perhaps Perhaps, Love Me Or Leave Me, Deadwood Stage, Secret Love, Young At Heart, Glad To Be Unhappy and many more!

I am really pleased we made this show (yesterday was its last appearance at Wilton's), and the audience of elderly people (including Richard Briers!) and queens gave it a (well-deserved) rapturous ovation. Brilliant!

Have a happy Doris Day!



Queens of Sheba

It may be a bank holiday but it's always Tacky Music Monday here at Dolores Delargo Towers! A classy little item from Holland's finest purveyors of kitsch the Dolly Dots is in order methinks...

Sunday, 4 April 2010

Happy Easter!

Never mind the god-botherers - this is the real meaning of Easter!







Chocolate.

Saturday, 3 April 2010

Lazy

I like a long weekend! It is an excuse to drink really late, and get up in the afternoon. I agree with Marlene Dietrich...

Friday, 2 April 2010

Thursday, 1 April 2010

The unsinkable...



Happy birthday today to Miss Debbie Reynolds, star of Singin' In The Rain, How The West Was Won, That's Entertainment and The Unsinkable Molly Brown!

Having cultivated an almost unstoppably cheerful screen and stage persona, she was lauded as one of "America's darlings", which made the subsequent scandal surrounding her husband Eddie Fisher and the transfer of his affections to the couple's best friend Liz Taylor all the more of a headline-grabber. The well-documented media frenzy (whipped up by the likes of Louella Parsons and Hedda Hopper) which cast Miss Taylor as the "scarlet woman" in the imbroglio did Debbie's image no harm whatsoever - yet apparently in real life the two women later buried the hatchet and remain friends.

And as if to emphasise that fact, Miss Reynolds appeared in 2001 alongside Miss Taylor and Shirley MacLaine and Joan Collins in an American TV movie called These Old Broads - a film I am still trying to get my hands on (it was only released on DVD in the US last year)...

Facts about Debbie Reynolds:
  • Mary Frances ("Frannie") Reynolds' big break came when she won the "Miss Burbank" talent contest by lip-synching to a record of Betty Hutton's I'm a Square in the Social Circle. Talent scouts from Warner Bros and MGM happened to be in the audience, and the rest is history.
  • Her hotel venture with ex-husband number three went bankrupt along with their marriage. Unfortunately among the disputed assets were priceless Hollywood items that Miss Reynolds collected including Judy Garland's 'Dorothy' dress from the Wizard of Oz, Marilyn Monroe's 'subway' dress, a Betty Grable bathing suit, and Julie Andrews' jumper and guitar from Sound of Music.
  • Her hugely popular TV show was cancelled by NBC over a dispute about cigarette advertising!
Of late, Debs has appeared as the mother in Will & Grace, and continues to perform her one-woman show Alive and Fabulous in Vegas and across the world. Indeed the great lady comes to London next month, but her tickets are extortionately priced so we'll have to wait and see about that.

Apparently she is doing this extensive world tour (at the age of 78) to raise funds to rescue her collection of memorabilia and create a museum of Hollywood. How camp! Unfortunately it seems beset by problems and filed for bankruptcy protection last year. It still appears to be "under construction" according to its website: http://www.hmpc.tv/

Let us wish many happy returns to a talented lady!





Debbie Reynolds in the West End

The news according to Olaf Priol



There have been some classic April Fools' Day jokes perpetrated by the media over the years. Three hugely successful ones come to mind:

The Swiss Spaghetti Harvest
1957: In solemn tones, respected journalist and broadcaster Richard Dimbleby announced on Panorama that thanks to a very mild winter and the virtual elimination of the dreaded spaghetti weevil, Swiss farmers were enjoying a bumper spaghetti crop. It accompanied this announcement with footage of Swiss peasants pulling strands of spaghetti down from trees. Huge numbers of viewers were taken in. Many called the BBC wanting to know how they could grow their own spaghetti tree. To this the BBC diplomatically replied, "place a sprig of spaghetti in a tin of tomato sauce and hope for the best."



San Serriffe



1977: The Guardian published a special seven-page supplement devoted to San Serriffe, a small republic said to consist of several semi-colon-shaped islands located in the Indian Ocean. A series of articles affectionately described the geography and culture of this obscure nation. Its two main islands were named Upper Caisse and Lower Caisse. Its capital was Bodoni, and its leader was General Pica. The phones rang all day as readers sought more information about the idyllic holiday spot. Only a few noticed that everything about the island was named after printer's terminology. The success of this hoax is widely credited with launching the enthusiasm for April Foolery that gripped the British tabloids in subsequent decades.

Planetary Alignment Decreases Gravity



1976: Astronomer Patrick Moore announced on BBC Radio 2 that at 9:47 AM a once-in-a-lifetime astronomical event was going to occur that listeners could experience in their very own homes. The planet Pluto would pass behind Jupiter, temporarily causing a gravitational alignment that would counteract and lessen the Earth's own gravity. Moore told his listeners that if they jumped in the air at the exact moment that this planetary alignment occurred, they would experience a strange floating sensation. When 9:47 AM arrived, the BBC began to receive hundreds of phone calls from listeners claiming to have felt the sensation. One woman even reported that she and her eleven friends had risen from their chairs and floated around the room.

So what will today bring, I wonder?