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Thread: 20 Most Influential Artists of Last Century...

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    20 Most Influential Artists of Last Century...

    The List

    Louis Armstrong
    Lucille Ball
    The Beatles
    Marlon Brando
    Coco Chanel
    Charlie Chaplin
    Le Corbusier
    Bob Dylan
    T.S. Eliot
    Aretha Franklin
    Martha Graham
    Jim Henson
    James Joyce
    Pablo Picasso
    Rodgers & Hammerstein
    Bart Simpson
    Frank Sinatra
    Steven Spielberg
    Igor Stravinsky
    Oprah Winfrey


    Louis Armstrong

    With dazzling virtuosity on the trumpet and an innovative singing style, Satchmo was the fountainhead of a thoroughly original American sound

    By STANLEY CROUCH

    Intro: Technology Shaped the Show
    21st Century: The Future of Arts

    Monday, June 8, 1998
    Pops. Sweet Papa Dip. Satchmo. He had perfect pitch and perfect rhythm. His improvised melodies and singing could be as lofty as a moon flight or as low-down as the blood drops of a street thug dying in the gutter. Like most of the great innovators in jazz, he was a small man. But the extent of his influence across jazz, across American music and around the world has such continuing stature that he is one of the few who can easily be mentioned with Stravinsky, Picasso and Joyce. His life was the embodiment of one who moves from rags to riches, from anonymity to internationally imitated innovator. Louis Daniel Armstrong supplied revolutionary language that took on such pervasiveness that it became commonplace, like the light bulb, the airplane, the telephone That is why Armstrong remains a deep force in our American expression. Not only do we hear him in those trumpet players who represent the present renaissance in jazz — Wynton Marsalis, Wallace Roney, Terence Blanchard, Roy Hargrove, Nicholas Payton — we can also detect his influence in certain rhythms that sweep from country-and-western music all the way over to the chanted doggerel of rap.

    For many years it was thought that Armstrong was born in New Orleans on July 4, 1900, a perfect day for the man who wrote the musical Declaration of Independence for Americans of this century. But the estimable writer Gary Giddins discovered the birth certificate that proves Armstrong was born Aug. 4, 1901. He grew up at the bottom, hustling and hustling, trying to bring something home to eat, sometimes searching garbage cans for food that might still be suitable for supper. The spirit of Armstrong's world, however, was not dominated by the deprivation of poverty and the dangers of wild livingWhat struck him most, as his memoir, Satchmo: My Life in New Orleans, attests, was the ceremonial vigor of the people. Ranging from almost European pale to jet black, the Negroes of New Orleans had many social clubs, parades and picnics. With rags, blues, snippets from opera, church music and whatever else, a wide breadth of rhythm and tune was created to accompany or stimulate every kind of human involvement. Before becoming an instrumentalist, Armstrong the child was either dancing for pennies or singing for his supper with a strolling quartet of other kids who wandered New Orleans freshening up the subtropical evening with some sweetly harmonized notes.

    He had some knucklehead in his soul too. While a genial fountain of joy, Armstrong was a street boy, and he had a dirty mouth. It was his shooting off a pistol on New Year's Eve that got him thrown into the Colored Waifs' Home, an institution bent on refining ruffians. It was there that young Louis first put his lips to the mouthpiece of a cornet. Like any American boy, no matter his point of social origin, he had his dreams. At night he used to lie in bed, hearing the masterly Freddie Keppard out in the streets blowing that golden horn, and hope that he too would someday have command of a clarion sound. The sound developed very quickly, and he was soon known around New Orleans as formidable. The places he played and the people he knew were sweet and innocent at one end of the spectrum and rough at the other. He played picnics for young Negro girls, Mississippi riverboats on which the white people had never seen Negroes in tuxedos before, and dives where the customers cut and shot one another. One time he witnessed two women fighting to the death with knives. Out of those experiences, everything from pomp to humor to erotic charisma to grief to majesty to the profoundly gruesome and monumentally spiritual worked its way into his tone. He became a beacon of American feeling.

    From 1920 on, he was hell on two feet if somebody was in the mood to challenge him. Musicians then were wont to have "cutting sessions" — battles of imagination and stamina. Fairly soon, young Armstrong was left alone. He also did a little pimping but got out of the game when one of his girls stabbed him. With a trout sandwich among his effects, Armstrong took a train to Chicago in 1922, where he joined his mentor Joe Oliver, and the revolution took place in full form. King Oliver and his Creole Jazz Band, featuring the dark young powerhouse with the large mouth, brought out the people and all the musicians, black and white, who wanted to know how it was truly done. The most impressive white musician of his time, Bix Beiderbecke, jumped up and went glassy-eyed the first time he heard Armstrong.
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    When he was called to New York City in 1924 by the big-time bandleader Fletcher Henderson, Armstrong looked exactly like what he was, a young man who was not to be fooled around with and might slap the taste out of your mouth if you went too far. His improvisations set the city on its head. The stiff rhythms of the time were slashed away by his combination of the percussive and the soaring. He soon returned to Chicago, perfected what he was doing and made one record after another that reordered American music, such as Potato Head Blues and I'm a Ding Dong Daddy. Needing more space for his improvised line, Armstrong rejected the contrapuntal New Orleans front line of clarinet, trumpet and trombone in favor of the single, featured horn, which soon became the convention. His combination of virtuosity, strength and passion was unprecedented. No one in Western music — not even Bach — has ever set the innovative pace on an instrument, then stood up to sing and converted the vocalists. Pops. Sweet Papa Dip. Satchmo.

    The melodic and rhythmic vistas Armstrong opened up solved the mind-body problem as the world witnessed how the brain and the muscles could work in perfect coordination on the aesthetic spot. Apollo and Dionysus met in the sweating container of a genius from New Orleans whose sensitivity and passion were epic in completely new terms. In his radical reinterpretations, Armstrong bent and twisted popular songs with his horn and his voice until they were shorn of sentimentality and elevated to serious art. He brought the change agent of swing to the world, the most revolutionary rhythm of his century. He learned how to dress and became a fashion plate. His slang was the lingua franca. Oh, he was something. Louis Armstrong was so much, in fact, that the big bands sounded like him, their featured improvisers took direction from him, and every school of jazz since has had to address how he interpreted the basics of the idiom — swing, blues, ballads and Afro-Hispanic rhythms. While every jazz instrumentalist owes him an enormous debt, singers as different as Bing Crosby, Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley and Marvin Gaye have Armstrong in common as well. His freedom, his wit, his discipline, his bawdiness, his majesty and his irrepressible willingness to do battle with deep sorrow and the wages of death give his music a perpetual position in the wave of the future that is the station of all great art.

    Armstrong traveled the world constantly. One example of his charming brashness revealed itself when he concertized before the King of England in 1932 and introduced a number by saying, "This one's for you, Rex: I'll Be Glad When You're Dead, You Rascal You." He had a great love for children, was always willing to help out fellow musicians and passed out laxatives to royalty and heads of state. However well he was received in Europe, the large public celebrations with which West Africans welcomed him during a tour in the late '50s were far more appropriate for this sequoia of 20th century music.

    He usually accepted human life as it came, and he shaped it his way. But he didn't accept everything. By the middle '50s, Armstrong had been dismissed by younger Negro musicians as some sort of minstrel figure, an embarrassment, too jovial and hot in a time when cool disdain was the new order. He was, they said, holding Negroes back because he smiled too much and wasn't demanding a certain level of respect from white folks. But when Armstrong called out President Eisenhower for not standing behind those black children as school integration began in Little Rock, Ark., 40 years ago, there was not a peep heard from anyone else in the jazz world. His heroism remained singular. Such is the way of the truly great: they do what they do in conjunction or all by themselves. They get the job done. Louis Daniel Armstrong was that kind.

    (http://www.time.com)
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    Lucille Ball

    The first lady of comedy brought us laughter as well as emotional truth. No wonder everybody loved Lucy
    By RICHARD ZOGLIN

    t happened somewhere between the clunky premier episode (Lucy Thinks Ricky Is Trying to Murder Her) and her first classic routine, the Vitameatavegamin commercial, in which Lucy gets steadily soused as she keeps downing spoonfuls of the alcohol-laced potion she's trying to hawk on TV. (Watch the spasm that jolts her face when she gets her first taste of the foul brew; it could serve as a textbook for comics well into the next millennium.) I Love Lucy debuted on CBS in October 1951, but at first it looked little different from other domestic comedies that were starting to make the move from radio to TV, like My Favorite Husband, the radio show Ball had co-starred in for three years. Lucy Ricardo was, in those early I Love Lucy episodes, just a generic daffy housewife. Ethel (Vivian Vance), her neighbor and landlady, was a stock busybody. Desi Arnaz, as bandleader Ricky Ricardo, hadn't yet become one of the finest straight men in TV history. William Frawley, as Fred Mertz, seemed a Hollywood has-been in search of work, which he was.

    Then magic struck. Guided by Ball's comic brilliance, the show developed the shape and depth of great comedy. Lucy's quirks and foibles — her craving to be in show biz, her crazy schemes that always backfired, the constant fights with the Mertzes — became as particularized and familiar as the face across the dinner table. For four out of its six seasons (only six!), I Love Lucy was the No. 1-rated show on television; at its peak, in 1952-53, it averaged an incredible 67.3 rating, meaning that on a typical Monday night, more than two-thirds of all homes with TV sets were tuned to Lucy.Ball's dizzy redhead with the elastic face and saucer eyes was the model for scores of comic TV females to follow. She and her show, moreover, helped define a still nascent medium. Before I Love Lucy, TV was feeling its way, adapting forms from other media. Live TV drama was an outgrowth of Broadway theater; game shows were transplanted from radio; variety shows and early comedy stars like Milton Berle came out of vaudeville. I Love Lucy was unmistakably a television show, and Ball the perfect star for the small screen. "I look like everybody's idea of an actress," she once said, "but I feel like a housewife." Sid Caesar and Jackie Gleason were big men with larger-than-life personas; Lucy was one of us.

    he grew up in Jamestown, N.Y., where her father, an electrician, died when she was just three. At 15 she began making forays to New York City to try to break into show business. She had little luck as an actress but worked as a model before moving to Hollywood in 1933 for a part in the chorus of Roman Scandals. Strikingly pretty, with chestnut hair dyed blond (until MGM hairdressers, seeking a more distinctive look, turned it red in 1942), she landed bit parts in B movies and moved up to classy fare like Stage Door, in which she held her own with Katharine Hepburn and Ginger Rogers.

    Buster Keaton, the great silent clown working as a consultant at MGM, recognized her comic gifts and worked with her on stunts. She got a few chances to show off her talent in films like DuBarry Was a Lady (with Red Skelton) and Fancy Pants (with Bob Hope) but never broke through to the top. By the end of the 1940s, with Ball approaching 40, her movie career was all but finished.

    It was her husband Desi — a Cuban bandleader she married shortly after they met on the set of Too Many Girls in 1940 — who urged her to try television. CBS was interested in Ball, but not in the fellow with the pronounced Spanish accent she wanted to play her husband. To prove that the audience would accept them as a couple, Lucy and Desi cooked up a vaudeville act and took it on tour. It got rave reviews ("a sock new act," said Variety), and CBS relented.
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    But there were other haggles. Lucy and Desi wanted to shoot the show in Hollywood, rather than in New York City, where most TV was then being done. And for better quality, they insisted on shooting on film, rather than doing it live and recording on kinescope. CBS balked at the extra cost; the couple agreed to take a salary cut in return for full ownership of the program. It was a shrewd business decision: I Love Lucy was the launching pad for Desilu Productions, which (with other shows, like Our Miss Brooks and The Untouchables) became one of TV's most successful independent producers, before Paramount bought it in 1967.

    Today I Love Lucy, with its farcical plots, broad physical humor and unliberated picture of marriage, is sometimes dismissed as a relic. Yet the show has the timeless perfection of a crystal goblet. For all its comic hyperbole, Lucy explored universal themes: the tensions of married life, the clash between career and home, the meaning of loyalty and friendship. The series also reflected most of the decade's important social trends. The Ricardos made their contribution to the baby boom in January 1953 — TV's Little Ricky was born on the same day that Ball gave birth, by caesarean, to her second child, Desi Jr. (A daughter, Lucie, had been born in 1951.) They traveled to California just as the nation was turning west, in a hilarious series of shows that epitomized our conception of — and obsession with — Hollywood glamour. And when the nation began moving to the suburbs, so too, in their last season, did the Ricardos.

    Ball was a lithe and inventive physical comedian, and her famous slapstick bits — trying to keep up with a candy assembly line, stomping grapes in an Italian wine vat — were justly celebrated. But she was far more than a clown. Her mobile face could register a whole dictionary of emotions; her comic timing was unmatched; her devotion to the truth of her character never flagged. She was a tireless perfectionist. For one scene in which she needed to pop a paper bag, she spent three hours testing bags to make sure she got the right size and sound. Most of all, I Love Lucy was grounded in emotional honesty. Though the couple had a tempestuous marriage off-screen (Desi was an unrepentant philanderer), the Ricardos' kisses showed the spark of real attraction. In the episode where Lucy finds out she is pregnant, she can't break the news to Ricky because he is too busy. Finally, she takes a table at his nightclub show and passes him an anonymous note asking that he sing a song, We're Having a Baby, to the father-to-be. As Ricky roams the room looking for the happy couple, he spies Lucy and moves on. Then he does a heartrending double take, glides to his knees and asks, voice cracking, whether it's true. Finishing the scene together onstage, the couple are overcome by the real emotion of their own impending baby. Director William Asher, dismayed by the unrehearsed tears, even shot a second, more upbeat take. Luckily he used the first one; it's the most touching moment in sitcom history.

    Tired of the grind of a weekly series, Lucy and Desi ended I Love Lucy in 1957, when it was still No. 1. For three more years, they did hourlong specials, then broke up the act for good when they divorced in 1960. Ball returned to TV with two other popular (if less satisfying) TV series, The Lucy Show and Here's Lucy; made a few more movies (starring in Mame in 1974); and attempted a final comeback in the 1986 ABC sitcom Life with Lucy, which lasted an ignominious eight weeks. But I Love Lucy lives on in reruns around the world, an endless loop of laughter and a reminder of the woman who helped make TV a habit, and an art.

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    The Beatles

    Irrepressible and irresistible, they were — and remain — the world's most astonishing rock-'n'-roll band
    By KURT LODER

    Boomers can be tiresome when they natter on too long about the fun-swollen fabulousness of the 1960s. I mean, I was there: "Flower power"? Patchouli oil? Peter Max posters? Please. But even the mistiest of such geezers is likely to be right about the rock and soul music of that decade: Who could overstate its distinctive exuberance, its heady inventiveness, or the thrill of its sheer abundance? And who could overcelebrate those most emblematic of '60s pop phenomena, the Beatles? For the Beatles were then, and remain to this day, the world's most astonishing rock-'n'-roll band.

    use the adjective advisedly. Unrelenting astonishment is what I clearly recall feeling, as a teenager myself back in the winter of 1964, when "Beatlemania," an obscure hysteria that had erupted in Britain the year before, suddenly jumped the Atlantic and took instant root here. First, in January, came the spine-tingling arrival of I Want to Hold Your Hand — a great, convulsive rock-'n'-roll record that, to the bafflement of many a teen garage band across the land, actually had more than three chords (five more, to be exact — incredible). Then one week later, She Loves You careened onto the charts — wooo! The week after that came the headlong rush of Please Please Me, and by April, the top five singles in the country were all Beatles records. By year's-end they had logged a head-spinning 29 hits on the U.S. charts. It is hard — no, it is impossible — to imagine any of the gazillion or so carefully marketed little bands of today replicating a quarter of that feat. (Even a contemporary English group such as Oasis, which baldly appropriates the superficialities of the Beatles' style, entirely misses the still-magical heart of their music.)

    Ed Sullivan, the poker-faced TV variety-show host, having spotted the effervescent moptops in mid-mob scene at London's Heathrow Airport the previous October ("Who the hell are the Beatles?" he'd asked excitedly), brought them over to play his show early on, in February 1964, and 70 million people tuned in. A congratulatory telegram from Elvis Presley, the great, lost god of rockabilly, was read at the beginning of the show, in what might have been seen as torch-passing fashion, and Americans — or American youth, at any rate — promptly fell in love. ("I give them a year," said Sullivan's musical director.)

    It is a commonplace of pop-music commentary to point out that at the time of the Beatles' first appearance on the Sullivan show, the U.S. was a country uniquely in need of some cheering up. The assassination of a young and charismatic President little more than two months earlier had cast a pall on the national mood; and of course there were rumors of war. Certainly the moment was propitious for the four lads from Liverpool.

    Looking back, though, it seems likely that the Beatles — with their buoyant spirits, their bottomless charm, their unaccustomed and irrepressible wit — could probably have boosted the mirth quotient at a clown convention. Their overflowing gifts for songcraft, harmony and instrumental excitement, their spiffy suits and nifty haircuts, their bright quips and ready smiles, made them appear almost otherworldly, as if they had just beamed down from some distant and far happier planet.

    Actually, of course, they hailed from Liverpool, a semi-grim seaport on the northwestern coast of England. John Lennon, born there in 1940, never knew the seagoing father who had deserted his mother; mainly a doting aunt raised the boy. He grew up arty and angry — and musical, it turned out, after his mother bought him the traditional cheap kid guitar (the label inside said guaranteed not to split), and he quickly worked out the chords to the Buddy Holly hit That'll Be the Day. Paul McCartney, born in 1942 and destined to become Lennon's songwriting soul mate, seemed a sunnier type: well mannered, level-headed, all that. But he had weathered trauma of his own, losing his mother to breast cancer in his early teens. McCartney encountered Lennon in the logical way, given the times and the two boys' musical interests: on the skiffle scene.

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    Skiffle music — a sort of jug-band clatter ideally suited to inexpensive and homemade instruments — was all the rage, and in 1957 Lennon formed a band called the Quarrymen. By the following year, the group had been joined by McCartney and his school friend George Harrison, then just 14. In 1960, calling themselves the Silver Beatles, and with drummer Pete Best in tow, they sailed to Germany to play the riotous red-light-district bars of Hamburg, drink Herculean quantities of beer and gulp down handfuls of illicitly energizing pills to keep them stage ready seven nights a week. In 1962 Best was replaced by another Liverpool drummer, basset-eyed Ringo Starr (born Richard Starkey in 1940). After passing an audition that their manager, Brian Epstein, had arranged with EMI's Parlophone label, the group cut its first single, Love Me Do, a moderate hit. In January 1963 a second single, Please Please Me, went to No. 1, and Beatlemania was born.

    It is commonly thought that by the time the Beatles arrived in the U.S., rock-'n'-roll music, an uproarious sound forged by such pioneers as Chuck Berry, Little Richard and Elvis Presley, had all but died out, leaving the charts littered with such unconvincing rock-lite commodities as Frankie Avalon, Bobby Rydell and Chubby Checker. This is not entirely true. Although Presley had been drafted into the army in 1958 (and was never quite the same after he got out), and Buddy Holly had been killed in a plane crash in 1959, and Berry, Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis were all otherwise sidelined, there was no gaping lack of good music around. In 1963 — the year before the Beatles broke Stateside — the charts were filled with great records by the Drifters, the Beach Boys, Roy Orbison, Sam Cooke, Motown's Miracles and Martha and the Vandellas, and celebrated Phil Spector girl groups such as the Crystals and the Ronettes.

    What set the Beatles apart, amid all those fabled acts, was their dazzling interpersonal chemistry (showcased to irresistible effect in the 1964 feature film A Hard Day's Night, which critic Andrew Sarris called "the Citizen Kane of jukebox movies"), their novel sound (produced on offbeat — to most Americans — Gretsch, Rickenbacker and Hofner guitars and cranked out through snarly little Vox amplifiers brought over from England) and of course their awesome facility for making ravishing hit records.

    By 1965 even the non-fab world had been forced to take notice of this all-conquering cultural force. The Beatles had become such a huge British export that they were given a royal award: the Member of the Order of the British Empire, or M.B.E. (They took this about as seriously as anyone might have expected, all four of them firing up a joint in a Buckingham Palace washroom before the ceremony, and Ringo commenting on his M.B.E., "I'll keep it to dust when I'm old.") Having scored a breakthrough with their chart-topping 1965 album Rubber Soul — the record whose elegant lyrics and luminous melodies lifted them forever out of the world of simple teen idols and into the realm of art — the Beatles, exhausted, decided to stop touring. After a final concert in San Francisco in 1966, they would come together again as a group only in recording studios. But there they spun out ever more elaborate masterpieces: the tripped-out psychedelic special Revolver in 1966; the breathtaking (at the time) concept epic Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band in 1967; the strangely alienated, every-man-for-himself White Album (officially called The Beatles) in 1968; and the gorgeous Abbey Road in '69.

    For millions of fans worldwide, these albums mapped a path through the puzzling and sometimes scary '60s. The paths of Lennon and McCartney, however, were diverging drastically. Each took a wife (John married Japanese avant-garde artist Yoko Ono, and Paul wed American rock photographer Linda Eastman) and drifted even farther apart, Lennon growing bitter, McCartney adopting the air of the contented family man.

    By 1969 Lennon was ready to quit the group. McCartney is said to have talked him out of going public with this desire; but then in April 1970 McCartney himself announced that the group was disbanding. In December he filed suit to have the partnership dissolved and a receiver appointed to handle its affairs. When the other three Beatles dropped their appeal of this action in 1971, the most fabulously successful band of all time (with more than 100 million records sold to date) came to an end.

    And so it was over. McCartney began making records with his wife in a new band. Harrison followed his Indo-mystical inclinations as far as he could until fans lost interest. Ringo made occasional records, movies and television commercials. And Lennon moved to New York City, where he had always wanted to be, and ironically became that most English of figures, the reclusive eccentric. He was shot down in 1980, and the Beatles were nevermore. Except for their music, which is eternal.

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    Marlon Brando

    Brooding, raw, honest, he was unlike anyone audiences had seen before. Now the mark of his style is in descendants from De Niro to DiCaprio
    By RICHARD SCHICKEL

    RIDE OUT BOY AND SEND IT SOLID. FROM THE GREASY POLACK YOU WILL SOMEDAY ARRIVE AT THE GLOOMY DANE. Tennessee Williams' heartfelt (if politically incorrect) telegram to Marlon Brando, on the opening night of A Streetcar Named Desire 51 years ago, got it right and got it wrong. The young actor, in his first starring role, sent it solid all right — sent it immortally. His performance as Stanley Kowalski, later repeated on film, provided one of our age's emblematic images, the defining portrait of mass man — shrewd, vulgar, ignorant, a rapacious threat to all that is gentle and civilized in our culture. He gave us something else too, this virtually unknown 23-year-old actor. For when the curtain came down at the Ethel Barrymore theater on Dec. 3, 1947, our standards for performance, our expectations of what an actor should offer us in the way of psychological truth and behavioral honesty, were forever changed.

    But Brando, that heartbreakingly beautiful champion of the Stanislavskian revolution in acting, never arrived at Hamlet. Never even came close. He would go on to give us a few great things, and a few near great things, but eventually he would abandon himself, as every tabloid reader knows, to suet and sulks, self-loathing and self-parody. The greatness of few major cultural figures of our century rests on such a spindly foundation. No figure of his influence has so precariously balanced a handful of unforgettable achievements against a brimming barrelful of embarrassments.

    And yet the reverence in which he is held by his profession is unshakable. His sometime friend and co-star Jack Nicholson said it simply and best: "He gave us our freedom." By which he meant that Brando's example permitted actors to go beyond characterizations that were merely well made, beautifully spoken and seemly in demeanor; allowed them to play not just a script's polished text but its rough, conflicting subtext as well.

    Stanley Kowalski, for example, may be a brute. But he's also a funny brute, slyly, sexily testing the gentility and hypocrisies by which his sister-in-law, Blanche DuBois, lives as they contend for the soul of Stella, his wife and her sister. Streetcar's director, Elia Kazan, loved this performance because of the way Brando "challenges the whole system of politeness and good nature and good ethics and everything else." It was, of course, this rebelliousness that made Brando a hero to kids growing up in the '50s — and made him a star.

    But there was more to his gift than his sometimes mumbled challenge to convention, both middle class and theatrical. Had to be, or he would have been no more than a momentary phenomenon. Kazan found in the man-boy he made into a star "a soft, yearning, girlish side ... and a dissatisfaction that can be dangerous." There's "a hell of a lot of turmoil there," he said. "He's uncertain about himself and he's passionate, both at the same time." The performances that defined Brando's screen character, and that somehow articulated the postwar generation's previously inarticulate disgust with American blandness and dishonesty, its struggles to speak its truest feelings, are powered by that rough ambivalence. The rage and self-pity of his grievously wounded parapl egic in The Men, the rebel angel of The Wild One, above all On the Waterfront's Terry Malloy, the dock walloper struggling for transcendence — these roles informed our aching hearts at the time, and go on tearing at us when we re-encounter them.

    All these movies were small, intense, black and white, ideally suited to the psychological realism of the Stanislavskian Method, as it came to be known; ideally suited, as well, to Brando's questing spirit. But in the '50s, as he reached the height of his powers, Hollywood sank to the nadir of its strength. Competing with TV, it embraced color, wide screen, spectacle — and was looking for bold, uncomplicated heroes to fill its big, empty spaces. Brando looked (and felt) ludicrous in this context.

    Worse, his own admirers kept piling pressures on him. An actor and friend named William Redfield spoke for them all when he said, "We ... believed in him not just as an actor, but as an artistic, spiritual and specifically American leader." But this was not a role that suited him, for there was nothing in his nature that he could draw on to fill it out. The son of alcoholics — a stern taciturn father; a sweet, culturally aspiring mom — he had drifted to New York City and into acting when he was expelled from the military school that was supposed to shake the flakiness from his soul.

    His first and most influential acting teacher, Stella Adler, thought him "the most keenly aware, the most empathetic human being alive," yet thought his commitment to acting was, at best, "touch and go." But the work, the community he found among New York's eager young actors, gave shy, sly Bud Brando two things he never had before — a sense of identity and a sense of direction.

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    So he had found himself in his work. But he had not been looking for a cause to lead. It was a historical accident that he appeared to those idealistic rebels against theatrical tradition, the Stanislavskians, as the messiah they had sought for decades — the genius-hunk who could sexily take their case to the starstruck public, help them reform not just acting technique but the whole corrupt Broadway-Hollywood way of doing business.

    It was the wrong role for him. He could talk their talk and walk their walk, but he wasn't truly a Method actor; he was much more an observer of others than an explorer of his own depths. And even that was hard for him. "There comes a time in life when you don't want to do it anymore," he once said. "You know a scene is coming where you'll have to yell or cry or scream and ... it's always bothering you, always eating away at you." Besides, as Kazan said, "it's not a natural thing for a man to be an actor," especially, he thought, in the "trivial" climate of that moment. There was no way Brando was going to add cultural heroism to the rest of his burdens.

    By the '60s, Brando's interviews — and his work — were growing more cynical. Acting, he said, was the expression "of a neurotic impulse," a "self-indulgence." Any pretensions to art he may have harbored were now just "a chilly hope." Far from being a culture's hero, he became its Abominable Snowman, flitting through the shadows of bad movies, becoming a blur on the paparazzi's lenses. Twice he paused in his flight to remind us of the greatness that might have been — with his curiously affecting menace in The Godfather, with the ruined grandeur of Last Tango in Paris. That was more than a quarter-century ago, but in a way, that was enough. For the passing years have taught us this: refusing to rally a revolution, Marlon Brando still managed to personify it. His shadow now touches every acting class in America, virtually every movie we see, every TV show we tune in. We know too that the faith vested in his example by all the De Niros and Pacinos, and, yes, the Johnny Depps and Leonardo DiCaprios, was not misplaced. Marlon Brando may have resisted his role in history, may even have travestied it, but, in the end, he could not evade it.

  9. #9
    RasYardHindian Simon S's Avatar Simon S is offline
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    Jeb I saw this and thought artist/painters..
    cuz now you up my alley....

    however, I tend to think of works rather than the artist. in the theme of 2005, I will show a piece that was inspired by the gruesome WW2 and could illstrate the gruesome war in Iraq.

    Pablo Picasso's Guernica.



    Picasso shows the dead child in the mothers arms - she is shouting to heaven. the broken soldier on the ground. the lightbulb representing the weapons ...much more symbolism...

    an artist went as far as to create Iraqnica (I just found this googling guernica)


  10. #10
    Registered User bungatuffy's Avatar bungatuffy is offline
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    wow awesome stuff... I love the things you post and art is definitly something that I wish I had more of an appreciation for... I visited the Time webite and unfortunately, they didn't have artists in terms of painters and sculptors but if people want me to and if there is no problem, I will try to post the other categories that they have listed which I hope will generate some discussion...

    they have the 20 Most Important Revolutionaries and Leaders...

    David Ben-Gurion
    Ho Chi Minh
    Winston Churchill
    Mohandas Gandhi
    Mikhail Gorbachev
    Adolf Hitler
    Martin Luther King
    Ayatullah Khomeini
    V.I. Lenin
    Nelson Mandela
    Pope John Paul II
    Ronald Reagan
    Eleanor Roosevelt
    Franklin D. Roosevelt
    Teddy Roosevelt
    Margaret Thatcher
    Unknown Rebel
    Margaret Sanger
    Lech Walesa
    Mao Zedong

    Builders and Titans

    Stephen Bechtel
    Leo Burnett
    Willis Carrier
    Walt Disney
    Henry Ford
    Bill Gates
    Amadeo Giannini
    Ray Kroc
    Estee Lauder
    William Levitt
    Lucky Luciano
    Louis B. Mayer
    Charles Merrill
    Akio Morita
    Walter Reuther
    Pete Rozelle
    David Sarnoff
    Juan Trippe
    Sam Walton
    Thomas Watson, Jr.

    Scientists and Thinkers

    Leo Baekeland
    Tim Berners-Lee
    Rachel Carson
    Francis Crick & James Watson
    Albert Einstein
    Philo Farnsworth
    Enrico Fermi
    Alexander Fleming
    Sigmund Freud
    Robert Goddard
    Kurt Gφdel
    Edwin Hubble
    John Maynard Keynes
    Louis, Mary & Richard Leakey
    Jean Piaget
    Jonas Salk
    William Shockley
    Alan Turing
    Ludwig Wittgenstein
    Wilbur & Orville Wright

    Heroes and Icons

    Muhammad Ali
    The American G.I.
    Diana, Princess of Wales
    Anne Frank
    Billy Graham
    Che Guevara
    E. Hillary & T. Norgay
    Helen Keller
    The Kennedys
    Bruce Lee
    Charles Lindbergh
    Harvey MIlk
    Marilyn Monroe
    Mother Teresa
    Emmeline Pankhurst
    Rosa Parks
    Pelι
    Andrei Sakharov
    Jackie Robinson
    Bill Wilson

    Maybe we should start a thread about art ?? Dunno if there is interest but wouldn't hurt to try something... If there are no objections I will post stuff from the above lists throughout the next weeks/months just so peeps can have something to view and perhaps talk about if that is okay ??

  11. #11
    RasYardHindian Simon S's Avatar Simon S is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by jebratt
    Builders and Titans

    Stephen Bechtel
    Leo Burnett
    Willis Carrier
    Walt Disney
    Henry Ford
    Bill Gates
    Amadeo Giannini
    Ray Kroc
    Estee Lauder
    William Levitt
    Lucky Luciano
    Louis B. Mayer
    Charles Merrill
    Akio Morita
    Walter Reuther
    Pete Rozelle
    David Sarnoff
    Juan Trippe
    Sam Walton
    Thomas Watson, Jr.

    Frank Lloyd Wright

    Scientists and Thinkers

    Carl Jung
    Leo Baekeland
    Tim Berners-Lee
    Rachel Carson
    Francis Crick & James Watson
    Albert Einstein
    Philo Farnsworth
    Enrico Fermi
    Alexander Fleming
    Sigmund Freud
    Robert Goddard
    Kurt Gφdel
    Edwin Hubble
    John Maynard Keynes
    Louis, Mary & Richard Leakey
    Jean Piaget
    Jonas Salk
    William Shockley
    Alan Turing
    Ludwig Wittgenstein
    Wilbur & Orville Wright
    cant forget those 2

  12. #12
    Humbled CaribNVA is offline
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    20 Most Influential Artists that white AMERICA accepted of the Last Century, with a dash of color...
    The List

    Louis Armstrong
    Lucille Ball
    The Beatles
    Marlon Brando
    Coco Chanel
    Charlie Chaplin
    Le Corbusier
    Bob Dylan
    T.S. Eliot
    Aretha Franklin
    Martha Graham
    Jim Henson
    James Joyce
    Pablo Picasso
    Rodgers & Hammerstein
    Bart Simpson
    Frank Sinatra
    Steven Spielberg
    Igor Stravinsky
    Oprah Winfrey

    With such a prestigious list i sure didnt expect to see no one named Tuff Gong but i shouldn't say anything i mean deh left out dem god Elvis

    the 20 Most Important Revolutionaries and Leaders...

    David Ben-Gurion
    Ho Chi Minh
    Winston Churchill
    Mohandas Gandhi
    Mikhail Gorbachev
    Adolf Hitler
    Martin Luther King
    Ayatullah Khomeini
    V.I. Lenin
    Nelson Mandela
    Pope John Paul II
    Ronald Reagan
    Eleanor Roosevelt
    Franklin D. Roosevelt
    Teddy Roosevelt
    Margaret Thatcher
    Unknown Rebel
    Margaret Sanger
    Lech Walesa
    Mao Zedong

    Again withith such a prestigious list i sure didnt expect to see no one named Marcus Garvey

    On a lighter note i would have like to big up Satchmo, he always carried good ganja (so they say)

    All who inspired by dis list raise a brow now!

  13. #13
    where de crix Oneshot's Avatar Oneshot is offline
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    talking about influence, you must include a hip hop artist

  14. #14
    Humbled CaribNVA is offline
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    Heeeeeeeeeeeeeeeere's Stanley


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