Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) Series-Disabled Legend Lane Smith

Walter Lane Smith III was born on 29 April, 1936 in Memphis, Tennessee, USA and died on 13 June, 2005 of Lou Gehrig’s Disease at his home in Northridge, California at the age of 69. Lane Smith was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s Disease in April 2005.

Lane was an American actor best known for his role as Perry White in the American television series Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman and as Richard Nixon in The Final Days, for which he received a Golden Globe award nomination.

Lane graduated from The Leelanau School, a boarding school in Glen Arbor, Michigan where he is enshrined in the school’s Hall of Fame, and spent 1 year boarding at The Hill School in Pottstown, Pennsylvania before going off to study at the Actors Studio in the late 1950s and early 1960s along with Dustin Hoffman and Al Pacino.

After his graduation, he found steady work in New York theater before making his film debut in Maidstone in 1970. During the 1970s, he regularly made appearances in small film roles including Rooster Cogburn in 1975 and Network in 1976. Lane also acted on television, notably playing a U.S. Marine in Vietnam in the made for television miniseries A Rumor of War.

Lane made a major breakthrough in 1984 with significant roles in Red Dawn, Places in the Heart and the television series V. In 1989, Lane Smith gained great recognition for his portrayal of former President Richard Nixon in the docudrama The Final Days. Newsweek praised Lane Smith’s role by stating, “is such a good Nixon that his despair and sorrow at his predicament become simply overwhelming.” Lane Smith later earned a Golden Globe nomination for his performance. Lane Smith also appeared in the original Broadway stage production of David Mamet’s Glengarry Glen Ross as James Lingk. For his role, he received a Drama Desk Award.

In 1990, he appeared in Air America playing a U.S. Senator. 2 years later, he played a small-town district attorney opposite Joe Pesci in My Cousin Vinny, followed by a role as Coach Jack Reilly in The Mighty Ducks. However, it was not until 1993 that Lane Smith landed his 1st major television role as Perry White in Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman. The show last for 4 seasons before ending in 1997. Lane Smith’s final film appearance was in The Legend of Bagger Vance in 2000.

Lane Smith was married twice. Lane’s 1st marriage was to writer Sydne MacCall. The couple had 1 son together: Robby Smith born on 24 January, 1987. In 2000, he remarried to Ruth Benedict who had 1 son from a previous marriage.

Lane Smith was previously in a relationship with actress Mariette Hartley before the 2 split.

Keep visiting: www.lifechums.com more celebrities featuring shortly …………….

Bookmark and Share

Advertisements

Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) Series-Disabled Legend Lead Belly

Huddie William Ledbetter, was born in January, 1888 and died on 6 December, 1949 in New York City, New York, USA and was buried in the Shiloh Baptist Church cemetery in Mooringsport, 8 miles (13 km) west of Blanchard, Louisiana, in Caddo Parish.

Lead Belly was an American folk and blues musician, notable for his clear and forceful singing, his virtuosity on the 12 string guitar, and the rich songbook of folk standards he introduced.

Ledbetter is best known as Leadbelly or Lead Belly. Though many releases list him as “Leadbelly,” he himself spelled it “Lead Belly.” This is also the usage on his tombstone, as well as the Lead Belly Foundation.

Although he most commonly played the 12 string, he could also play the piano, mandolin, harmonica, violin, concertina, and accordion. In some of his recordings, such as in one of his versions of the folk ballad “John Hardy”, he performs on the accordion instead of the guitar. In other recordings he just sings while clapping his hands or stomping his foot. The topics of Lead Belly’s music covered a wide range of subjects, including gospel songs; blues songs about women, liquor and racism; and folk songs about cowboys, prison, work, sailors, cattle herding and dancing. Lead Belly also wrote songs concerning the newsmakers of the day, such as President Franklin Roosevelt, Adolf Hitler, Jean Harlow, the Scottsboro Boys, and Howard Hughes.

Lead Belly’s date of birth is uncertain. Lead Belly was probably born in January 1888, although his gravestone gives his year of birth as 1889. The earliest year given for his birth has been 1885, although other sources stated either 1888 or 1889. According to the 1900 census, Hudy (the spelling given in the census) is 1 of 2 listed children (the other is his step-sister, Australia Carr), of Wes and Sallie (Brown) Ledbetter of Justice Precinct 2, Harrison County, Texas. Wesley and Sallie were legally born on wednesday 26 February, 1888, shortly after Lead Belly’s likely date of birth, even though they had lived together as husband and wife for years. The 1900 census, differing from the usual census in that it lists the month and year of birth, rather than just the age, states the birth year of ‘Hudy’ Ledbetter to be 1888 and the month listed as January; Huddie’s age is listed as 12. The census of 1910 and the census of 1930 confirm 1888 as the year of birth.

The day of his birth has also been debated. The most common date given is 20 January, but other sources suggest he was born on 21 or 29 January. The only document we have that Lead belly, himself, helped fill out is his World War II draft registration from 1942 where he gives his birth date as 23 January, 1889.

Lead Belly was born to Wesley and Sallie Ledbetter as Huddie William Ledbetter in a plantation near Mooringsport, Louisiana, but the family moved to Leigh, Texas, when he was 5 years old. By 1903, Lead Belly was already a ‘musicianer’, a singer and guitarist of some note. Lead Belly performed for nearby Shreveport, Louisiana audiences in St. Paul’s Bottoms, a notorious red-light district in the city. Lead Belly began to develop his own style of music after exposure to a variety of musical influences on Shreveport’s Fannin Street, a row of saloons, brothels, and dance halls in the Bottoms.

At the time of the 1910 census, Lead Belly, still officially listed as ‘Hudy’, was living next door to his parents with his first wife, Aletha “Lethe” Henderson, who at the time of the census was 17 years old, and was, therefore, 15 at the time of their marriage in 1908. It was also there that he received his first instrument, an accordion, from his uncle, and by his early 20s, after fathering at least 2 children, he left home to find his living as a guitarist (and occasionally, as a laborer). Lead Belly would later claim that as a youth he would “make it” with 8 to 10 women a night.

Influenced by the sinking of the RMS Titanic in April 1912, he would go on to write the song “The Titanic”, which noted the racial indifferences of the time. “The Titanic” was the first song he ever learned to play on a 12 string guitar, which was later to become his signature instrument. Lead Belly first played it in 1912 when performing with Blind Lemon Jefferson (1897-1929) in and around Dallas, Texas. Lead Belly noted that he had to leave out the verse about boxer Jack Johnson when playing before a white audience.

Lead Belly’s volatile nature sometimes led him into trouble with the law. In 1915 he was convicted “of carrying a pistol” and sentenced to do time on the Harrison County chain gang, from which he miraculously escaped, finding work in nearby Bowie County under the assumed name of Walter Boyd. In January 1918 he was thrown into prison for the second time, this time after killing one of his relatives, Will Stafford, in a fight over a woman. In 1918 he was incarcerated in Sugar Land, Texas, where he probably learned the song Midnight Special. In 1925 he was pardoned and released, having served 7 years, or virtually all of the minimum of his 7 to 35 year sentence, after writing a song appealing to Governor Pat Morris Neff for his freedom. Lead Belly had swayed Governor Neff by appealing to his strong religious values. That, in combination with good behavior (including entertaining by playing for the guards and fellow prisoners), was Lead Belly’s ticket out of jail. It was quite a testament to his persuasive powers, as Neff had run for governor on a pledge not to issue pardons (pardon by the governor was at that time the only recourse for prisoners, since in most Southern prisons there was no provision for parole). According to Charles K. Wolf and Kip Lornell’s book, The Life and Legend of Lead belly (1999), Neff had regularly brought guests to the prison on Sunday picnics to hear Lead belly perform.

In 1930, Lead Belly was back in prison, after a summary trial, this time in Louisiana, for attempted homicide — he had knifed a white man in a fight. It was there, 3 years later, that he was “discovered” by musicologists John Lomax and his 18 year old son Alan Lomax during a visit to the Angola Prison Farm. They were enchanted by Lead Belly’s talent, passion, and singularity as a performer and recorded hundreds of his songs on portable aluminum disc recording equipment for the Library of Congress. They returned to record in July of the following year (1934). On 1 August, Lead Belly was released (again having served almost all of his minimum sentence), this time after the Lomaxes had taken a petition to Louisiana Governor O.K. Allen at Lead belly’s urgent request. The petition was on the other side of a recording of his signature song, “Goodnight Irene.” A prison official later wrote to John Lomax denying that Lead Belly’s singing had anything to do with his release from Angola, and state prison records confirm that he was eligible for early release due to good behavior. A descendant of his has also confirmed this. For a time, however, both Lead Belly and the Lomaxes believed that the record they had taken to the governor had hastened his release from Angola.

There are several, somewhat conflicting stories about how Ledbetter acquired his famous nickname, though the consensus is that it was probably while in prison. Some say his fellow inmates dubbed him “Lead Belly” as a play on his last name and reference to his physical toughness; others say he earned the name after being shot in the stomach with shotgun buckshot. Another theory has it that the name refers to his ability to drink homemade liquor, which Southern farmers, black and white, used to make to supplement their incomes. Blues singer Big Bill Broonzy thought it came from a supposed tendency to lay about “with a stomach weighted down by lead” in the shade when the chain gang was supposed to be working. (This seems unlikely, unless it was ironic, given his well-known capacity for hard work.) Whatever its origin, he adopted the nickname as a pseudonym while performing, and it stuck. Regarding his toughness, it is also recounted that during his second prison term, another inmate stabbed him in the neck (leaving him with a fearsome scar that he subsequently covered with a bandanna), and he took the knife away and in turn almost killed his attacker with it. Lead belly – King of the 12 String Guitar Retrieved on 30 January, 2007.

Bob Dylan once remarked, on his XM radio show, that Lead Belly was “One of the few ex-cons who recorded a popular children’s album.”

It was the Depression and jobs were very scarce. A month after his release and in need of regular work in order to avoid having his release canceled and being sent back to prison, in September 1934, Lead Belly met with John A. Lomax and begged him to take him on as a driver. For 3 months he assisted the 67 year old John Lomax in his folk song collecting in the South. (Alan Lomax (then 19) was ill and didn’t accompany them on this trip.) In December, Lead Belly participated in a “smoker” (group sing) at an MLA meeting in Bryn Mawr College in PA., where John A. Lomax had a prior lecturing engagement. Lead Belly was written up in the press as a convict who had sung his way out of prison. On New Year’s Day, 1935, the pair arrived in New York City, where John Lomax was scheduled to meet with his publisher, Macmillan, about a new collection of folk songs. The newspapers were eager to write about the “singing convict” and Time magazine made one of its first filmed newsreels about him. Lead Belly attained fame (though not fortune). The following week, he began recording with the American Record Corporation (ARC), but achieved little commercial success with these records. Part of the reason for the poor record sales may have been because ARC insisted on releasing only his blues songs rather than the folk songs for which he would later become better known. In any case, Lead Belly continued to struggle financially. Like many performers, what income he made during his lifetime would come from touring, not from record sales. In February 1935, he married his sweetheart, Martha Promise, who came north from Louisiana for the purpose. The month of February was spent recording his and other African-American repertoire and interviews about his life with Alan Lomax for their forthcoming book, Negro Folk Songs as Sung by Lead Belly (1936). Concert appearances were slow to materialize, however, and in March 1935, Lead Belly accompanied John A. Lomax on a 2 week lecture tour of colleges and universities in the Northeast, culminating at Harvard. These lectures had been scheduled before John Lomax had teamed up with Lead Belly. At the end of month, John Lomax decided he could no longer work with Lead Belly and gave him and Martha money to go back to Louisiana by bus. Lead Belly gave Martha the money that he had earned from 3 months of performing, but in installments, on the pretext that Lead Belly would drink it all if given a lump sum. From Louisiana Lead Belly then successfully sued Lomax for the full amount and for release from his management contract with Lomax. The quarrel was very bitter and there were hard feelings on both sides. Curiously, however, in the midst of the legal wrangling Lead Belly wrote to John A. Lomax proposing that they team up together once again. But it was not to be. Nor was the book the Lomaxes published that year about Lead Belly financially successful.

In January of 1936, Lead Belly returned to New York on his own without John Lomax for an attempted comeback. Lead Belly performed twice a day at Harlem’s Lafayette theater in a live dramatic recreation of the Time Life newsreel (itself a recreation) about his prison encounter with John A. Lomax, in which he had worn stripes, even though by this time he was no longer associated with Lomax. Life magazine ran a 3 page article titled, “Lead Belly – Bad Nigger Makes Good Minstrel,” in the 19 April, 1936 issue. It included a full-page, colour (rare in those days) picture of him sitting on grain sacks playing his guitar and singing. Also included was a striking picture of Martha Promise (identified in the article as his manager); photos showing Lead Belly’s hands playing the guitar (with the caption “these hands once killed a man”); Texas Governor Pat M. Neff; and the “ramshackle” Texas State Penitentiary. The article attributes both of his pardons to his singing of his petitions to the governors, who were so moved that they pardoned him. The article’s text ends with “he… may well be on the brink of a new and prosperous period.” Lead Belly failed to stir the enthusiasm of Harlem audiences. Instead, he attained success playing at concerts and benefits for an audience of leftist folk music aficionados. Lead Belly developed his own style of singing and explaining his repertoire in the context of Southern black culture, taking the hint from his previous participation in John A. Lomax’s college lectures. Lead Belly was especially successful with his repertoire of children’s game songs (as a younger man in Louisiana he had sung regularly at children’s birthday parties in the black community). Lead Belly was written up as a heroic figure by the black novelist, Richard Wright, then a member of the Communist Party, in the columns of the Daily Worker, of which he (Wright) was the Harlem editor. The 2 men became personal friends, though Lead Belly himself was a-political — if anything, a supporter of Wendell Willkie, the centrist Republican candidate, for whom he wrote a campaign song.

In 1939, Lead Belly was back in jail for assault, after stabbing a man in a fight in Manhattan. Alan Lomax, then 24, took him under his wing and helped raise money for his legal expenses, dropping out of graduate school to do so. After his release (in 1940-41), Lead Belly appeared as a regular on Alan Lomax and Nicholas Ray’s groundbreaking CBS radio show, Back Where I Come From, broadcast nationwide. Lead Belly also appeared in night clubs with Josh White, becoming a fixture in New York City’s surging folk music scene and befriending the likes of Sonny Terry, Brownie McGhee, Woody Guthrie, and a young Pete Seeger, all fellow performers on Back Where I Come From. During the first half of the decade he recorded for RCA, the Library of Congress, and for Moe Asch (future founder of Folkways Records), and in 1944 headed to California, where he recorded strong sessions for Capitol Records. Lead belly was the first American country blues musician to see success in Europe. In 1949 Lead Belly had a regular radio broadcast on station WNYC in New York on Sunday nights on Henrietta Yurchenko’s show. Later in the year he began his first European tour with a trip to France, but fell ill before its completion, and was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig’s disease. Lead Belly’s final concert was at the University of Texas in a tribute to his former mentor, John A. Lomax, who had died the previous year. Martha also performed at that concert, singing spirituals with her husband.

Lead Belly styled himself “King of the 12-string guitar,” and despite his use of other instruments like the concertina, the most enduring image of Lead Belly as a performer is wielding his unusually large Stella 12-string. This guitar had a slightly longer scale length than a standard guitar, slotted tuners, ladder bracing, and a trapeze-style tailpiece to resist bridge lifting.

Lead Belly played with finger picks much of the time, using a thumb pick to provide a walking bass line and occasionally to strum. This technique, combined with low tunings and heavy strings, gives many of his recordings a piano-like sound. Lead Belly’s tuning is debatable, but appears to be a downtuned variant of standard tuning; more than likely he tuned his guitar strings relative to one another, so that the actual notes shifted as the strings wore. Lead Belly’s playing style was popularised by Pete Seeger, who adopted the 12-string guitar in the 1950s and released an instructional LP and book using Lead belly as an exemplar of technique.

In some of the recordings where Lead Belly accompanied himself, he would make an unusual type of grunt between his verses. Lead Belly would do this grunt, “Haah!”, through many of his songs, such as, Looky Looky Yonder, Take this Hammer, Linin’ Track and Julie Ann Johnson. It gave a somewhat catchy sound to the songs. Lead Belly explains that, “Every time the men say ‘haah’, the hammer falls. The hammer rings, and we swing, and we sing”, an apparent reference to prisoners’ work songs. The grunt represents the tired deep breaths the men would take while working, singing and pausing in cadence with the work.

Keep visiting: www.lifechums.com more celebrities featuring shortly …………….

Bookmark and Share

Hearing Impairment Series-Disabled Legend Dr Robert Davila

Dr Robert Davila was born in southern California to Mexican parents who worked in fields and orchards. At the age of 8, he contracted spinal meningitis and became deaf. When his mother learned about a school for the deaf in northern California, she sent Roberto (his childhood name) alone on a journey to the California School for the Deaf in Berkeley (which later moved to California School for the Deaf, Fremont).

Dr Robert Davila graduated from Gallaudet University, with a Bachelor’s in Education. Dr Robert Davila then went to Hunter College with a Master’s in Special Education. To complete his education, he attended and graduated from Syracuse University with a Ph.D. in Educational Technology. Dr Robert Davila also has received honorary degrees from Gallaudet, RIT, Stonehill College, and Hunter College.

Dr Robert Davila served as Assistant Secretary for the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services of the United States from 1989 to 1993 during the administration of George H.W. Bush. Educationally, Dr Robert Davila has experience teaching high school math, being an assistant principal, serving as a K-12 superintendent. Dr Robert Davila worked as professor, a college administrator and Vice President of Gallaudet University in the 1970s and ’80s. Dr Robert Davila was headmaster of the New York School for the Deaf at White Plains 1993 to 1996 as well as CEO of the National Technical Institute for the Deaf 1996 from 2006. On 10 December, 2006 Robert Davila was named Interim President of Gallaudet, enacted at the start of 2007.

Dr Robert Davila is the 9th president of Gallaudet University, the world’s only university in which all programs and services are specifically designed to accommodate deaf and hard of hearing students. Dr Robert Davila’s appointment came after the wake of the Unity for Gallaudet Movement protests of 2006, when many students, staff, and alumni objected to the installation of president-designate Jane Fernandes. Although he is officially the university’s 9th president, the Board of Trustees has limited his term to 18-24 months.

Keep visiting: www.lifechums.com more celebrities featuring shortly …………….

Bookmark and Share

Hearing Impairment Series-Disabled Legend Marlee Matlin

Marlee Beth Matlin was born on 24 August, 1965 in Morton Grove, Illinois, USA. Marlee is an Academy Award and Golden Globe Award-winning American actress who is deaf.

Marlee was born to Libby and Donald Matlin, an automobile dealer. Marlee lost all hearing in her right ear, and 80% of hearing in her left ear at the age of 18 months. Marlee was raised in a Jewish family in Morton Grove, Illinois, USA. Marlee graduated from John Hersey High School in nearby Arlington Heights and attended Harper College.

Marlee made her stage debut at the age of 7, as Dorothy in a children’s theatre version of The Wizard of Oz, and continued to appear with the same children’s theatre group throughout her childhood.

Marlee’s film debut, 1986’s Children of a Lesser God, brought her a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Drama and an Academy Award for Best Actress. Marlee is one of the few actors to win an Oscar for their debut performance, and as of 2008, still holds the record for youngest winner in the Best Actress Oscar category. Marlee was nominated for a Golden Globe award for her work as the lead female role in the television series Reasonable Doubts (1991–1993) and was nominated for an Emmy Award for a guest appearance in Picket Fences. Marlee became a regular on the series during its final season.

Marlee later had recurring roles in The West Wing, and Blue’s Clues. Other television appearances include Seinfeld (“The Lip Reader”), The Outer Limits (“The Message”), ER, Desperate Housewives, CSI: NY and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Marlee was nominated for Primetime Emmy Awards for her guest appearances in Seinfield, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and The Practice.

In 2002, Marlee published her 1st novel, Deaf Child Crossing, which was loosely based on her own childhood.

In 2004, she starred in the movie What the Bleep Do We Know? as Amanda.

In 2006, Marlee was honored at AOL’s 2nd Annual Chief Everything Officer Awards. Marlee joined the cast of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition on Sunday, 17 September, 2006. In the episode featuring a deaf boy with a blind father, grandmother and sisters, Marlee was the guest host. Marlee wrote and published a sequel to Deaf Child Crossing, titled Nobody’s Perfect, which was produced on stage at the John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts in partnership with VSA arts in October 2007.

Also in 2006, she played a deaf parent in Desperate Housewives. Marlee also had a recurring role as Joy Turner’s (who made many jokes of Marlee’s deafness at her expense) public defender in My Name Is Earl and played the mother of one of the victims in an episode of CSI: NY. Marlee starred in the Baby Einstein videos Baby’s Favorite Places: First Words-Around Town and Baby Wordsworth: First Words Around the House, both of which were designed to introduce sign language as a form of non-verbal communication.

In 2006 Marlee was cast in season 4 of The L Word as Jodi Lerner, a gay deaf sculptor. Marlee appeared in season 4 (2007) and season 5 (2008) as the girl friend of the show’s main protagonist Bette Porter (played by Jennifer Beals). It is unclear if Marlee will continue in season 6, the show’s final season.

On 4 February, 2007, Marlee performed the Star Spangled Banner in American Sign Language at Super Bowl XLI in Miami, Florida. Marlee again starred in Baby Einstein in March 2007 with My First Signs, which introduced sign language using common words such as “mommy” and “milk.” Marlee also appeared on Hollywood Squares with Tom Bergeron as emcee. Though she could not hear and was not encouraged to use her own voice to speak, her personal interpreter Jack Jason (who also appeared with her during talk show and publicity appearances) accompanied her on the panel and she handled questions with his assistance – including offering some humorous quips (in ASL) in her own right.

In January 2008, she appeared on Nip/Tuck as a television executive.

On 18 February, 2008, it was announced that Marlee would participate as a competitor in the 6th season of ABC’s Dancing with the Stars. Marlee’s dance partner was newcomer Fabian Sanchez. Marlee and Fabian were eliminated from the competition on 22 April, 2008.

On 13 July, 2008, Marlee participated in the Taco Bell All Star Legends and Celebrity Softball game as part of All-Star Weekend activities at Yankee Stadium. Marlee scored a run and had 2 RBI for the National League team.

Marlee is actively involved with a number of charitable organisations, including the Children Affected by AIDS Foundation, Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, VSA arts, and the Red Cross Celebrity Cabinet. Marlee was appointed by President Clinton in 1994 to the Corporation for National Service and served as chair of National Volunteer Week.

Marlee received an honorary doctorate of humane letters degree from Gallaudet University in 1987. In October 2007, she was appointed to the Gallaudet University Board of Trustees.

Marlee has been close friends with actress Jennifer Beals since they met in an airport in the 1980s.

Marlee married law enforcement officer Kevin Grandalski on 29 August, 1993 (in Henry Winkler’s back yard). They have 4 children: Sara Rose, born on 19 January, 1996; Brandon Joseph, born on 12 September 2000; Tyler Daniel, born on 18 July, 2002; and Isabelle Jane, born on 26 December, 2003. Marlee lives in Los Angeles with her family.

Keep visiting: www.lifechums.com more celebrities featuring shortly …………….

Bookmark and Share

Hearing Impairment Series-Disabled Legend John Brewster Jr.

John Brewster Jr. Was born on 30 May or 31 May, 1766 in Hampton, Connecticut, USA and died in 1854. John was a prolific, deaf itinerant painter who produced many charming portraits of well-off New England families, especially their children. John lived much of the latter half of his life in Buxton, Maine, USA, recording the faces of much of Maine’s elite society of his time.

According to the website of the Fenimore Art Museum in Cooperstown, New York, “John was not an artist who incidentally was Deaf but rather a Deaf artist, one in a long tradition that owes many of its features and achievements to the fact that Deaf people are, as scholars have noted, visual people.”

John’s father, Dr. John Brewster Sr., and his stepmother, Ruth Avery Brewster, c. 1795–1800 Little is known about John’s childhood or youth. John was the 3rd child born in Hampton, Connecticut, to Dr. John and Mary (Durkee) Brewster. John’s mother died when he was 17. John’s father remarried Ruth Avery of Brooklyn, Connecticut, and they went on to have four more children.

John Brewster Sr., a doctor and descendant of William Brewster, the Pilgrim leader, was a member of the Connecticut General Assembly and also active in the local church.

Unidentified Boy with Book (1810) by John Brewster, Jr. (from the collection of the Florence Griswold Museum, Old Lyme, Connecticut) One of the younger John’s “more touching and polished full-length portraits” is of his father and stepmother, according to Ben Genocchio, who wrote a review of an exhibition of John’s portraits in the New York Times. They are shown at home in conventional poses and wearing refined but not opulent dress in a modestly furnished room. John’s mother sits behind her husband, reading while he is writing. “She stares directly at the viewer, though softly, even submissively, while her husband stares off into the distance as if locked in some deep thought.”

As a deaf from birth, and growing up in a time when no standardised sign language for the deaf existed, the young John probably interacted with few people outside of the circle of his family and friends, with whom he would have learned to communicate. A kindly minister taught him to paint, and by the 1790s he was traveling through Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, and eastern New York State, taking advantage of his family connections to offer his services to the wealthy merchant class.

John’s younger brother, Dr. Royal Brewster, moved to Buxton, Maine in late 1795. The artist either moved up with him or followed shortly afterward and painted likenesses in and around Portland in between trips back to Connecticut.

James Prince and Son, William Henry (1801) by John Brewster, Jr. Prince was a wealthy merchant from Newburyport, a shipping center in Massachusetts. The painter included numerous expensive luxuries to show Prince as wealthy and a gentleman: Curtains and a fine floor indicated wealth; the bookcase with books and the desk suggest learning. The boy is symbolised as entering world of adults by his holding a letter. (from the collection of the Historical Society of Old Newbury) John probably communicated with others using pantomime and a small amount of writing. In this way, despite his deafness, John managed the business of arranging poses along with negotiating prices and artistic ideas with his sitters. As an itinerant portraitist working in the late 18th and early 19th centuries in the United States, he would travel great distances, often staying in unfamiliar places for months at a time.

John’s deafness may have given John some advantages in portrait painting, according to the Florence Griswold Museum exhibit web page: “Unable to hear and speak, John focused his energy and ability to capture minute differences in facial expression. John also greatly emphasised the gaze of his sitters, as eye contact was such a critical part of communication among the Deaf. Scientific studies have proven that since Deaf people rely on visual cues for communication [they] can differentiate subtle differences in facial expressions much better than hearing people.”

John’s early, large portraits show the influence of the work of Ralph Earl (1751–1801), another itinerant painter. Paintings by the 2 artists (especially in John’s early work) show similar scale, costumes, composition and settings, Paul D’Ambrosio has pointed out in a catalog (2005) for a traveling exhibition of John’s work, “A Deaf Artist in Early America: The Worlds of John Brewster Jr.”

Ralph was influenced by the 18th century English “Grand Manner” style of painting, with its dramatic, grand, very rhetorical style (exemplified in many portraits by Thomas Gainsborough and Sir Joshua Reynolds. Ralph and John refashioned the style, changing it from lofty and grand to more humble and casual settings.

Mother with Son (Lucy Knapp Mygatt and Son, George, of Danbury, Connecticut), 1799 In the early 19th century, John habitually painted half-length portraits which saved him labor, saved his patrons money and “were better suited to his limited abilities,” according to Genocchio. Some of the paintings are almost identical, down to the same clothes and furniture, with only the heads setting them apart.

In 1805 his brother, Dr. Royal Brewster, finished construction of his Federal style house in Buxton, and John Brewster moved in. For the rest of his life, he lived in the home with his brother’s family.

By about 1805, John had his own style of portraying children in full length, with skimpy garments or nightclothes, soft, downy hair and big, cute eyes for a sweet, appealing affect but, the perspective problems remained, with the figures seeming out of scale with their environment.

At about this time the artist also began to sign and date his paintings more frequently. John also moved away from the large-format Grand Manner-influenced style and turned to smaller, more intimate portraits in which he focused more attention on the faces of his subjects.

In the years just before 1817, John traveled farther for clients as his career flourished.

Francis O. Watts with Bird (1805) by John Brewster, Jr. (from the collection of the Fenimore Art Museum, Cooperstown, New York) Typical of  John Brewster’s portraits is “Francis O. Watts with Bird” (1805), showing “an innocent looking boy with manly features” wearing a nightslip and holding a bird on his finger and with a string. The surrounding landscape is “strangely low and wildly out of scale—the young boy towers over trees and dwarfs distant mountains. John looks like a giant,” Genocchio has written. Or he looks as if the viewer must be lying down, looking up at the child from the ground. John always struggled with the relationship of his figures to the background.

A more positive view of the portrait comes from the Web page about the 2006 exhibit at the Florence Griswold Museum website: “Brewster’s serene and ethereal portrait of Francis O. Watts is one of his most compelling portraits of a child. In this work—particularly Francis’ white dress and the peaceful landscape he inhabits—modern viewers often feel a palpable sense of the silence that was John’s world.

“The bird on the string symbolises mortality because only after the child’s death could the bird go free, just like the child’s soul. Infant mortality was high during John’s time and artists employed this image often in association with children.”

Moses Quinby (c. 1810–1815). Moses was a successful lawyer from Stroudwater, Maine. Moses was probably painted when John was traveling in Maine. From 1817 to 1820, John interrupted his career to learn sign language, a newly developed help for the deaf, at the Connecticut Asylum in Hartford, now known as the American School for the Deaf.

John, at the age of 51, was by far the oldest in a class of 7 students, the average age of which was 19. It was the 1st class that attended the school and witnessed the birth of American Sign Language (ASL).

When John returned to Buxton and to his portraits, “he seems to have taken more care when painting the faces of his subjects,” Genocchio wrote,” resulting in portraits that show an increased sensitivity to the characters of his subjects.”

After the 1830s, little is known of John Snr’s work or of John Jnr.’s Work.

Reverend Daniel Marrett (1831). An example of  John portraits from his late career, many of which show great depth and strength of characterisation. Reverend Daniel Marrett’s furrowed brow and chisled features convey the seriousness of his convictions. The paper he holds quotes Amos 4:12, “Prepare to meet thy God.” (from the collection of Historic New England/SPNEA) John “created hauntingly beautiful images of American life during the formative period of the nation,” according to a page at the Fenimore Art Museum website devoted to a 2005–2006 exhibition of the artist’s work. “Working in a style that emphasised simpler settings [than the “Grand Manner” style], along with broad, flat areas of colour, and soft, expressive facial features, John achieved a directness and intensity of vision rarely equaled.”

The Fenimore website also says, “His extant portraits show his ability to produce delicate and sensitive likenesses in full-size or miniature, and in oil on canvas or ivory. John was especially successful in capturing childhood innocence in his signature full-length likenesses of young children.

The website says Brewster left “an invaluable record of his era and a priceless artistic legacy.”

According to the anonymous writer of the Florence Griswold Museum’s web page about the same exhibit, “Brewster’s deafness may also have shaped his mature portrait style, which centers on his emphasis on the face of his sitters, particularly the gaze. He managed to achieve a penetrating grasp of personality in likenesses that engage the viewer directly. Brewster combined a muted palette that highlights flesh tones with excellent draftsmanship to draw attention to the eyes of his sitters. The importance of direct eye contact to a deaf person cannot be overstated.”[2]

The same writer also says, “Brewster was one of the greatest folk painters in American history as one of the key figures in the Connecticut style of American Folk Portraiture. In addition, Brewster’s paintings serve as a key part of Maine history. Brewster was the most prolific painter of the Maine elite, documenting through the portraits details of the life of Maine’s federal elite.”

Genocchio, reviewing the exhibit for the New York Times, took a dimmer view, noting John’s difficulty with painting backgrounds but admiring his “sweetly appealing” paintings of children.

Some individual works

Unidentified Woman in a Landscape (c. 1805) (from the collection of the Fenimore Art Museum, Cooperstown, New York)Boy with Book (1810); unidentified subject (Florence Griswold Museum, Old Lyme, Connecticut, collection)

Francis O. Watts with Bird (1805) (Fenimore Art Museum, Cooperstown, New York, collection)

Dr. John Brewster and Ruth Avery Brewster (c. 1795–1800) (Old Sturbridge Village collection)

Mother with Son (Lucy Knapp Mygatt and Son, George) (1799) (Palmer Museum of Art of the Pennsylvania State University collection)

James Prince and Son, William Henry (1801) (Historical Society of Old Newbury collection)

Woman in a Landscape (unidentified subject ) (c. 1805) (Fenimore Art Museum, Cooperstown, New York, collection)

Moses Quinby (c. 1810–1815) (Bowdoin College Museum of Art collection)

Reverend Daniel Marrett, 1831 (Historic New England/SPNEA collection)

Exhibits

“A Deaf Artist in Early America: The Worlds of John Brewster Jr.,” Fenimore Art Museum, Cooperstown, New York, April 1 to December 31, 2005;

Florence Griswold Museum, Old Lyme, Connecticut, June 3 through September 10, 2006

(Florence Griswold Museum exhibition sponsored in connection with The American School for the Deaf). The show, with some augmentation, was at the American Folk Art Museum, New York City, from October 2006 to January 7, 2007.

The Saco Museum in Saco, Maine, is believed to hold the largest collection of John Brewster, Jr., paintings, including the only known full-length (74 5/8 inches long) adult portraits, Colonel Thomas Cutts and Mrs. Thomas Cutts.

Keep visiting: www.lifechums.com more celebrities featuring shortly …………….

Bookmark and Share

Dyslexia Series-Disabled Legend Gaston Caperton

William Gaston Caperton III was born on 21 February, 1940 in Charleston, Kanawha County, West Virginia.

Gaston was twice elected as governor of the U.S. state of West Virginia and served from 1989 until 1997. Gaston is currently the president of the College Board, which administers the nationally-recognized SAT and AP tests. Gaston is a member of the Democratic Party.

Gaston attended Episcopal High School in Alexandria, Virginia and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he was a member of Delta Kappa Epsilon.

After graduation he returned to Charleston to manage a family-owned insurance firm. Gaston’s soon became its principal owner and, under his watch, it became the tenth largest privately owned insurance brokerage firm in the nation. Gaston Caperton also owned a bank and mortgage banking firm. Gaston Caperton was elected governor in his first attempt to seek public office in 1988.

In the 1988 gubernatorial election, Gaston, initially considered a long-shot for his party’s nomination, defeated the Republican Party incumbent, Arch A. Moore, Jr. In the 1992 election, Gaston was challenged by Charlotte Pritt in the Democratic primary. Gaston won the primary and the general election, defeating the Republican candidate, West Virginia Secretary of Agriculture Cleve Benedict, and Pritt, running as a write-in candidate. Gaston was constitutionally prohibited from running for a third consecutive term in 1996.

During his first term as the state’s 31st governor, Gaston supported the passages of ethics, road-building, and education bills. Gaston raised taxes in an effort to improve West Virginia’s finances, thereby reducing debts exceeding $500 million and creating a $100 million surplus. Due to the reforms, Financial World magazine called the state the most improved in the nation. Critics accused Gaston of failing to keep a campaign promise not to raise taxes, but defenders claimed that the previous governor had misstated the condition of the state’s finances and failed to disclose the need for tax increases.

Publicly, Governor Gaston Caperton emphasized that education was his first priority. Gaston Caperton supported a school-building program that led to $800 million in investments for 58 new schools and 780 school renovations, directly benefiting two-thirds of West Virginia’s public school students. After a brief strike by the state’s public educators, Gaston raised teacher’s salaries from 49th to 31st in the nation and trained more than 19,000 educators through a statewide Center for Professional Development with the goal of putting technology to its best use in West Virginia’s classrooms. Gaston encouraged the use of computers and technology in West Virginia public schools, resulting in the West Virginia Basic Skills Computer Program, which began with kindergarten and extended through 6th grade. Gaston’s common refrain for “computers in every classroom” since has been expanded to include grades 7-12. In 1996, West Virginia’s advances in education technology gained national recognition when Gaston received the Computerworld Smithsonian Award. Award sponsors called Gaston a “visionary” who “fundamentally changed the education system in America” by using technological innovations. Information about Gaston and his work is included in the Smithsonian’s Permanent Research Collection. In January 1997, the magazine Education Week, conducted a study of the nation’s education system and held out West Virginia for the state’s use of technology in education.

As Governor, Gaston focused his efforts on economic development, modern roads and infrastructure, prisons and jails, a clean environment, health care, and government management. West Virginia’s economy improved during his eight-year tenure. Unemployment dropped from 9.8% to 6.2%, the result of creating approximately 86,000 new jobs.

Near the end of his second term, Gaston was the 1996 chair of the Democratic Governor’s Association, served on the National Governor’s Association executive committee, and was a member of the Intergovernmental Policy Advisory Committee on U.S. Trade. Gaston was chairman of the Appalachian Regional Commission, Southern Regional Education Board, and the Southern Growth Policy Board. Gaston has received numerous state and national awards and special recognition, including 6 honorary doctoral degrees.

Another product of Gaston’s tenure is the Tamarack, the Best of West Virginia. The facility is a museum, art gallery, and collection of studios for visiting artists that showcases products of West Virginia and organizes the state’s “cottage industry.” Tamarack is the center of an integrated distribution and marketing network for products by more than 1,200 West Virginia artists. The Rosen Group, publisher of Niche magazine, named Gaston the 1997 Humanitarian of the Year for creating a progressive market for the state’s cottage industry.

After completing his second term, the former governor taught at Harvard University in the spring of 1997 as a fellow at the John F. Kennedy Institute of Politics. He founded and now runs the Institute on Education and Government at Columbia University.

Gaston became President and CEO of the College Board on 1 July, 1999. The New York City based College Board is a nonprofit membership association of more than 4,200 schools, colleges and other educational institutions throughout America. Its mission, as expressed by Governor Caperton, is to prepare, inspire and connect students to college success, with a focus on excellence and equity. The College Board is best known for its SAT College admissions exam and for its Advanced Placement Program, which offers high school students access to quality, college-level course work. Since taking the helm of the College Board, Governor Caperton has sought to enhance the standing and expand the reach of these two programs and to launch a series of initiatives. As a result of one of these initiatives, AP courses became more availabile to inner city and rural students.

Gaston Caperton appears concerned about unequal educational opportunity, and he led an effort to encourage students at middle schools to go to college, particularly the least advantaged. Gaston efforts prompted USA Today to label him an “education crusader”. The publication also named him one of the most influential people in America in its feature, “People to Watch: 2001.”

More recently, Governor Caperton led a successful campaign to revise the SAT when the College Board’s trustees requested changes to the test. The College Board introduced a set of changes to the SAT that include a writing test, more critical reading, and advanced math. The goal of the new SAT I is to more closely reflect the course work of the nation’s high school students while maintaining what they describe as the test’s level of rigor and excellence. The new SAT I was administered for the first time in March 2005.

Gaston Caperton was embarrassed when his first wife, Ella Dee Caperton (born Ella Kessel, Miss West Virginia 1964) divorced him during his first term, and unsuccessfully ran in the election for state treasurer. With Dee he had 2 boys, William Gaston Caperton, IV, (“Gat”) and John Caperton. Both sons are married and living with their own families (“Gat” in West Virginia and John in California).

Gaston’s second wife was the Musical Director Conductor of the Wheeling Symphony Orchestra, Rachael Worby. Gaston is currently married to his third wife Idit Harel Caperton, an Israeli, MIT PhD, an education technology expert, a mother of 3, and the Founder and CEO of MaMaMedia.

Gaston and Idit Caperton live and work in New York City.

Keep visiting: www.lifechums.com more Celebrities featuring Shortly ………….

Bookmark and Share

Dementia Series-Disabled Legend Mabel Albertson

Mabel Albertson was born on 24 July, 1901 in Lynn, Massachusetts, USA and died on 28 September, 1982 of Alzheimer’s disease at the age of 81, in Santa Monica, California. Mabel Albertson’s remains were cremated and scattered in the Pacific Ocean.

Mabel was the older sister of Academy Award-winning actor Jack Albertson and one-time mother-in-law of Academy Award winning actress Cloris Leachman. Mabel is best known as “Phyllis Stephens”, Darrin’s interfering mother on the television sitcom Bewitched, who inevitably ended her stays at the Stephens’ home by saying, “Frank [her husband], take me home. I’ve got a sick headache.”

Mabel also played Donald Hollinger’s mother on That Girl, Howard Sprague’s mother on The Andy Griffith Show, Dick Preston’s mother on The New Dick Van Dyke Show, and Mrs. Van Hoskins, a wealthy woman whose,jewels are stolen, in the screwball comedy, What’s Up, Doc?

Keep visiting: www.lifechums.com more Celebrities featuring Shortly ………….

Bookmark and Share