Dementia Series-Disabled Legend Arlene Francis

Arlene Francis, the witty actress and popular television personality, was born Arlene Francis Kazanjian on 20 October, 1907 in Boston, Massachusetts. Arlene’s father was an Armenian immigrant, later painter and portrait photographer; her mother was the daughter of actor Alfred Davis. Even at an early age, Arlene said, “I started out with one goal: I wanted to be a serious actress.” Arlene studied at the Theatre Guild and then went to Hollywood. Arlene’s movie debut was in Murders in the Rue Morgue (1932), in which Bela Lugosi (often cast as a villain or mad scientist in many of his over 40 movies) tied her to an X-cross to extract her blood (trivia: Arlene and Bela were both born on Oct. 20). The live theater, however, was her first love, and she appeared in many plays. In 1935, she married movie executive Neil Agnew; they’d stay together for 10 years. Arlene made her Broadway debut in 1936 and had her first major role in “All That Glitters” two years later. Arlene appeared with Orson Welles in the Mercury Theatre production of “Danton’s Death” in 1938, and in “Journey to Jerusalem” in 1940. Arlene’s big hit was “The Doughgirls” in 1942; it ran for 1-1/2 years. Arlene had auditioned for her first radio part at the same time she was getting started in the theater; she later recalled, “Radio came easily.” In the 1940s, she played in as many as five radio serials a day.

Arlene married actor Martin Gabel in 1946 (he died in 1986), and they had a son, Peter. Arlene also was host of a radio dating show called “Blind Date,” which was adapted to a TV series in 1949 (“Blind Date” (1949)), and she was the host (1949-1952). It was television that brought Arlene fame, and she became one of the highest-paid women in TV. Arlene was a permanent panelist on CBS’ “What’s My Line?” (1950) (a ‘Mark Goodson (I)’ -Bill Todman production) from 1950 through 1967 and continued as a panelist in a syndicated version that ran until 1975, thus being with the show for its entire 25-year run. Arlene was warm, witty and had a cute laugh and was always fashionably dressed. Arlene wore a diamond heart-shaped necklace, which started a fad. Arlene was still doing radio while on TV, and in 1960, she was the star of “The Arlene Francis Show,” a daily interview show in New York, on WOR; it ran for 23 years. Arlene retired from show business after that and lived comfortably. Arlene was still giving interviews in 1991.

Arlene spent her last years living in San Francisco. Arlene died of cancer on Thursday 31 May 2001, in a Francisco hospital, at the age of 93. Arlene’s many fans will miss her, Arlene was truly one of the greats.

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Dementia Series-Disabled Legend Aaron Copland

Aaron Copland was born in 1900. Aaron was the pioneer of American music. Aaron showed the world how to write classical music in an American way. Americans were rarely recognised as composers in the music world so Aaron Copland went to Europe for serious study, and, in the 1920s, wrote pieces with the flavour of jazz. European classical composers were also influenced by jazz at this time, as they were searching for new ways to bring their music into the 20th century.

Aaron Copland’s early works Grohg and Music for the Theatre show jazz influence. Aaron was soon to shed this in favour of strictly classical yet modernist works. With the great depression of the 1930s, when millions of Americans were unable to find work, the appeal of abstract music began to wain. Beginning in 1938, Aaron produced a series of ballets that were to be widely heard and musically influential: Billy the Kid (a ballet about a legendary western outlaw, complete with cowboy songs, commissioned in 1938 by Kirstein for Eugene Loring), Rodeo (another Wild West ballet, about a cowgirl’s search for a man) and Appalachian Spring (commissioned by the choreographer Martha Graham). When World War II began, the Cincinnati Symphony needed a patriotic American hero, and Aaron Copland by now one of the most famous composers in America wrote A Lincoln Portrait. For the same orchestra, he created his noble Fanfare for the Common Man.

Aaron Copland is probably best known for his concert and ballet works, but his eight scores for films, documentaries and versions of plays by Wilder, Steinbeck and others, set new standards for Hollywood. Purists may have criticised such “popular” works, but Aaron Copland’s fine classical ear gave even cowboy songs both extra bite and depth. Aaron’s work provides the musical backdrop for director Spike Lee’s new film for Touchstone Pictures He Got Game, and it is featured on Sony Classical’s original motion picture soundtrack recording from the film (SK 60593), the majority of which is conducted by the composer himself.

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Dementia Series-Disabled Legend Perry Como

Perry Como was born on 18 May, 1912 and died on 12 May, 2001. Perry Como was an Italian-American singer and television personality. During a career spanning more than half a century he recorded exclusively for the RCA Victor label after signing with it in 1943. “Mr. C”, as he was nicknamed, sold millions of records for RCA and also pioneered a weekly musical variety television show, which set the standards for the genre and proved to be one of the most successful in television history. Perry Como combined success on television and popular recordings was not matched by any other artist of the time.

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Dementia Series-Disabled Legend Norman Rockwell

Norman Rockwell was born on 3 February, 1894 and died on 8 November, 1978. Norman Rockwell was a 20th century American painter and illustrator. In 1943, during the Second World War, Norman Rockwell painted the Four Freedoms series, which was completed in seven months and resulted in his losing 15 pounds. The series was inspired by a speech by Franklin D. Roosevelt, in which he described four principles for universal rights: Freedom from Want, Freedom of Speech, Freedom to Worship, and Freedom from Fear.

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Dementia Series-Disabled Legend Mervyn Leroy

Mervyn Leroy was born on 15 October, 1900 and died on 13 September, 1987. Mervyn was an Academy Award-winning American film director, producer and sometime actor. Mervyn worked in costumes, processing labs and as a camera assistant until he became a gag writer and actor in silent films. Mervyn’s first directing job was in 1927’s No Place to Go. When his movies made lots of money without costing too much, he became well-received in the movie business. Mervyn LeRoy retired in 1965 and wrote his autobiography, Take One, in 1974. Mervyn died in Beverly Hills, California and was interred in the Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery in Glendale, California. Mervyn Leroy has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1560 Vine Street.

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