07 February, 2009

Richard Arlen


Richard Arlen was an American actor.

Born Cornelius Richard Van Mattimore in Charlottesville, Virginia, he served as a pilot in the Royal Canadian Air Force during World War I. At war's end, he went to Los Angeles where he found work as an unskilled laborer. By a stroke of pure luck, he was given an opportunity to act, appearing at first in silent films before making the transition to talkies.

He took time out from his Hollywood career to teach as an Army Air Force flight instructor in World War II.

Arlen is best known for his role as a pilot in the Academy Award-winning Wings (1927) with Clara Bow, Charles 'Buddy' Rogers, and his future first wife Jobyna Ralston.

For his contribution to the motion picture industry, Richard Arlen has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6753 Hollywood Blvd.

On his death from emphysema in 1976, Richard Arlen was buried in the Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City, California.

Asger Jorn


Asger Oluf Jorn was a founding member of the Situationist International, and a prolific artist and essayist. He was born in Vejrum, in the northwest corner of Jutland, Denmark and baptized Asger Oluf Jørgensen.

He was the second oldest of six children, an elder brother to Jørgen Nash. Both his parents were teachers. His father, Lars Peter Jørgenson, was a fundamentalist Christian who died when Asger was 12 years old in a car crash. His mother, Maria, née Neilsen, was more liberal but nevertheless a deeply committed Christian. This early heavy organised Christian influence had a negative effect on Asger who began progressively to inwardly rebel against it, and more generally against other forms of authority.

In 1929, aged 15, he was diagnosed with tuberculosis although he made a recovery from it after spending 3 months on the west coast of Jutland. By the age of 16 he was influenced by Nicolai Grundtvig, and although he had already started to paint, Asger enrolled in the Vinthers Seminarium, a teacher training college in Silkeborg where he paid particular attention to a course in Nineteenth century Scandinavian thought. Also at about this time Jorn became the subject of a number of oil paintings by the painter Martin Kaalund-Jørgensen, which encouraged Jorn to try his hand in this medium.

When he graduated from college in 1935, the principal wrote a reference for him which said that he had attained 'an extraordinary rich personal development and maturity' - especially because of his wide reading in areas outside the topics required for his studies. While at College he joined the small Silkeborg branch of the Danish Communist Party and came under the direct influence of the trade unionist Christian Christensen, with whom he became close friends and who, Jorn was to later write, was to become a second father to him.

In 1936 he traveled (on a BSA motorbike he had scraped together enough money to buy) to Paris to become a student of Kandinsky. However when he discovered that Kandinsky was in straitened circumstances, barely able to sell his own paintings, Jorn decided to join Fernand Léger's Académie Contemporaine; it was during this period that he turned away from figurative painting and turned to abstract art. In 1937 he joined Le Corbusier in working on the Palais des Temps Noveaux at the 1937 Paris Exhibition. He returned again to Denmark in the summer of 1937. He again traveled to Paris in the summer of 1938, before returning to Denmark, traveling to Løkken, Silkeborg and Copenhagen.

From 1937 to 1942, he studied at the Art Academy in Copenhagen.

The occupation of Denmark by Nazi Germany was a time of deep crisis for Jorn, who had been deeply inculcated with pacifism, initially sinking him into deep depression. He subsequently became an active communist resistant. During the war he also co-founded with Robert Dahlmann Olsen the underground art group, Helhesten or "hell-horse," and was a contributor to its journal. In 1941, he wrote the key theoretical essay, "Intimate Banalities," published in Helhesten, which claimed that the future of art was kitsch and praised amateur landscape paintings as "the best art today." He was also the first person to translate Franz Kafka into Danish.

After the war, he complained that opportunities for critical thinking within the context of the communist arena had been curtailed by what he characterised as a centralised bourgeois political control. Finding this unacceptable, he broke with the Danish Communist Party, while nevertheless remaining a lifelong philosophical communist.

He traveled again to France where he was a founding member of COBRA (a European avant-garde art movement), and edited monographs of the Bibliotheque Cobra.

He returned, impoverished, to Silkeborg in 1951 and resumed work in the ceramics field in 1953. The following year he traveled to Albisola in Italy where he became involved with an offshoot of COBRA, the International Movement For An Imaginist Bauhaus.

He met Guy Debord in 1954, who was to became a close friend. The two men collaborated on two artist's books, Fin de Copenhagen (1957) and Mémoires (1959), along with prints, and forewords to each other's work.

He was participant in the conference that led to the merger of COBRA, the Lettriste Internationale, and London Psychogeographical Association to form the Situationist International in 1957. Here he applied his scientific and mathematical knowledge drawn from Henri Poincaré and Niels Bohr to develop his situlogical technique. Jorn never believed in a conception of the Situationst ideas as exclusively artistic and separated from political involvement. He was at the root and at the core of the Situationist International project, fully sharing the revolutionary intentions with Debord. The Situationist general principles were an the attack on the capitalist exploitation and degradation of the life of people, and solution of alternative life experiences, constuction of situations, unitary urbanism, psycogeography, with the union of play, freedom and critical thinking. Such general principles were applied by Jorn to painting.

In 1961 he friendly quit his activity in the SI, still fully supporting its contents and goals, and keeping to financially support it, but believing that the new strategy of the SI was little effective.

He went on to found the Scandinavian Institute of Comparative Vandalism and contributed material to the Situationist Times. Later, he donated a museum for modern art to the Danish town of Silkeborg, near where he grew up. He was to remain close to Debord, however, and continued to fund Situationist publications.

His philosophical system Triolectics was given a practical manifestation through the development of Three sided football.

His first American solo exhibition was at the Lefebre Gallery in 1962. After 1966, Jorn continued to produce oil paintings while traveling throughout Europe collecting images with photographer Gerard Francesci for his vast archive of "10,000 Years of Nordic Folk Art." He traveled extensively, to Cuba, England, and the far east. Jorn traveled to the United States for the first and only time in 1970, for a gallery opening at Lefebre Gallery. He had earlier asserted that he refused to travel to a country that made visitors sign a statement maintaining that they were not communists.

In 1964, he was awarded a Guggenheim International Award including a generous cash prize, by an international jury assembled by Lawrence Alloway. The following day Jorn sent this telegram to the president of the Guggenheim, Harry F. Guggenheim:

GO TO HELL BASTARD--STOP--REFUSE PRIZE--STOP--NEVER ASKED FOR IT--STOP--AGAINST ALL DECENCY MIX ARTIST AGAINST HIS WILL IN YOUR PUBLICITY--STOP--I WANT PUBLIC CONFIRMATION NOT TO HAVE PARTICIPATED IN YOUR RIDICULOUS GAME.

During the course of his artistic career he produced over 2500 paintings, prints, drawings, ceramics, sculptures, artist's books, collages, décollages, and collaborative tapestries.

He died in Aarhus, Denmark on 1 May 1973. He is buried in Grötlingbo, on the island of Gotland in Sweden.

Jack Sharkey


Jack Sharkey was an American heavyweight boxing champion. He was of Lithuanian descent.

Born in an era when prizefighters, actors and others in the public spotlight adopted an "American-sounding" pseudonym, Joseph Paul Zukauskas (his birth surname is sometimes given as Cukoschay) took the family name of a popular retired Irish boxer and future Hall of Famer, "Sailor Tom" Sharkey (1873-1953).

In 1929, in a fight held in Yankee Stadium, Jack Sharkey knocked out the former light-heavyweight champion, Tommy Loughran to win the United States heavyweight title. His victory earned him the opportunity to fight for the vacant world title against the German contender, Max Schmeling. In their June 12, 1930, championship fight, Sharkey was disqualified in the fourth round after delivering a punch that landed below Schmeling's belt. This is the only occasion in boxing history when the heavyweight championship was won by disqualification.

In October 1931, Sharkey defeated Italian heavyweight, Primo Carnera, and was then given another chance to fight for the title. On June 21, 1932 at the Madison Square Garden Bowl in Long Island City, New York, Jack Sharkey defeated Max Schmeling in their rematch to win the World Heavyweight Boxing Championship in a very controversial split decision.

Sharkey lost his championship on June 29, 1933 in his second fight with Primo Carnera.

In 1994, Jack Sharkey was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame. He died on August 17 of that year due to respiratory arrest.

Sir Michael John Gambon


Sir Michael John Gambon is an Irish-born British actor who has worked in theatre, television and film.

Gambon was born in Dublin during World War II. His father, Edward Gambon, was an engineer and his mother, Mary Hoare was a seamstress. His father decided to seek work in the rebuilding of London, and so the family moved to Mornington Crescent in north London, when Gambon was five. His father had him made a British citizen — a decision that would later allow Michael to receive an actual, rather than honorary, knighthood and CBE. (although, under the British Nationality Act 1981 anyone born in Ireland before 1949 can still register as a British subject and, after five years' UK residence, as a British citizen).

Raised a strict Catholic, he attended St Aloysius Boys' School in Somers Town and served at the altar. He then moved to St Aloysius' College in Hornsey Lane, Highgate, London, whose former pupils included Peter Sellers. He later attended a school in Kent, before leaving with no qualifications at fifteen. He then gained an apprenticeship with Vickers Armstrong as a toolmaker. By the time he was 21 he was a fully qualified engineer. He kept the job for a further year – acquiring a fascination and passion for collecting antique guns, clocks and watches, as well as classic cars.

Aged 19 he joined the Unity Theatre in Kings Cross. Five years later he wrote a letter to Michael MacLiammoir, the Irish theatre impresario who ran Dublin's Gate Theatre. It was accompanied by a CV describing a rich and wholly imaginary theatre career – and he was taken on.

Gambon made his professional stage début in the Gaiety Theatre, Dublin's 1962 production of Othello, playing "Second Gentleman", followed by a European tour. A year later, cheekily auditioning with the opening soliloquy from Richard III, he caught the eye of star-maker Laurence Olivier who was recruiting promising spear-carriers for his new National Theatre Company. Gambon, along with Robert Stephens, Derek Jacobi and Frank Finlay, was hired as one of the ‘to be renowned’ and played any number of small roles. The company initially performed at the Old Vic, their first production being Hamlet, directed by Olivier and starring Peter O'Toole. He played for four years in many NT productions, including named roles in The Recruiting Officer and The Royal Hunt of the Sun, working with directors William Gaskill and John Dexter.

After three years at the Old Vic, Olivier advised Gambon to gain experience in provincial rep. In 1967, he left the NT for the Birmingham Repertory Company which was to give him his first crack at the title roles in Othello (his favorite), Macbeth and Coriolanus.

His rise to stardom began in 1974 when Eric Thompson cast him as the melancholy vet in Alan Ayckbourn's The Norman Conquests at Greenwich. A speedy transfer to the West End established him as a brilliant comic actor, squatting at a crowded dining table on a tiny chair and sublimely agonising over a choice between black or white coffee.

Back at the National, now on the South Bank, his next turning point was Peter Hall's premiere staging of Harold Pinter's Betrayal, an unexpectedly subtle performance — a production photograph shows him embracing Penelope Wilton with sensitive hands and long slim fingers (the touch of a master clock-maker). He is also one of the few actors to have mastered the harsh demands of the vast Olivier Theatre. As Simon Callow once said: “Gambon's ‘iron lungs and overwhelming charisma are able to command a sort of operatic full-throatedness which triumphs over hard walls and long distances.”

Michael Gambon as Hamm and Lee Evans as Clov in EndgameThis was to serve him in good stead in John Dexter's masterly staging of The Life of Galileo in 1980, the first Brecht to become a popular success. Hall called him ‘unsentimental, dangerous and immensely powerful’, even the Sunday Times’ curmudgeonly critic of the day called his performance ‘a decisive step in the direction of great tragedy...great acting’, while fellow actors paid him the rare compliment of applauding him in the dressing room on the first night.

From the first Ralph Richardson dubbed him The Great Gambon, an accolade which stuck, outshining his 1990 CBE, even the later knighthood, although Gambon dismisses it as a circus slogan. But as Sheridan Morley perceptively remarked in 2000, when reviewing Cressida: ‘Gambon's eccentricity on stage now begins to rival that of his great mentor Richardson’. Also like Richardson, interviews are rarely given and raise more questions than they answer. Gambon is a very private person, a ‘non-starry star’ as Ayckbourn called him. Off-stage he prefers to back out of the limelight, an unpretentious guy sharing laughs with his fellow cast and crew.

While he has won screen acclaim, no-one who saw his ravaged King Lear at Stratford, while still in his early forties, will forget his superb double act with a red-nosed Antony Sher as the Fool sitting on his master's knee like a ventriloquist's doll. There were also notable appearances in Old Times at the Theatre Royal Haymarket, and as Volpone and the brutal sergeant in Pinter's Mountain Language.

David Hare's Skylight, with Lia Williams, which opened to rave reviews at the National in 1995, transferred first to Wyndhams Theatre and then on to Broadway for a four-month run which left him in a state of advanced exhaustion. “Skylight was ten times as hard to play as anything I’ve ever done” he told Michael Owen in the Evening Standard. “I had a great time in New York but couldn’t wait to get back”.

Gambon is almost the only leading actor not to grace Yasmina Reza's ART at Wyndham's. But together with Simon Russell Beale and Alan Bates he gave a deliciously droll radio account of the role of Marc. And for the RSC he shared Reza's two-hander The Unexpected Man with Eileen Atkins, first at The Pit in the Barbican and then at the Duchess Theatre, a production also intended for New York but finally delayed by other commitments.

In 2001 he played what he described as “a physically repulsive’’ Davies in Patrick Marber's revival of Pinter's The Caretaker, but he found the rehearsal period an unhappy experience, and felt that he had let down the author. A year later, playing opposite Daniel Craig, he portrayed the father of a series of cloned sons in Caryl Churchill's A Number at the Royal Court, notable for a recumbent moment when he smoked a cigarette, the brightly lit spiral of smoke rising against a black backdrop, an effect which he dreamed up during rehearsals.

In 2004 he finally achieved a life-long ambition to play Sir John Falstaff, in Nicholas Hytner's National Theatre production of Henry IV, Part 1 and Henry IV, Part 2, co-starring with Matthew Macfadyen as Prince Hal.

He made his film debut in the Laurence Olivier Othello in 1965. He then played romantic leads, notably in the early 1970s BBC television series, The Borderers, in which he was swashbuckling Gavin Ker. As a result, Gambon was asked by James Bond producer Cubby Broccoli to audition for the role in 1970, to replace George Lazenby. His craggy looks soon made him into a character actor, although he won critical acclaim as Galileo in John Dexter's production of The Life of Galileo by Brecht at the National Theatre in 1980. But it was not until Dennis Potter's The Singing Detective (1986) that he became a household name. After this success, for which he won a BAFTA, his work includes films such as The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover which also starred Helen Mirren.

In 1992 he played a psychotic general in the Barry Levinson film Toys and he also starred as Georges Simenon's detective Inspector Jules Maigret in an ITV adaptation of Simenon's series of books. He starred as Fyodor Dostoyevsky in the Hungarian director Károly Makk's movie The Gambler (1997) about the writing of Dostoyevsky's novella The Gambler.

Bruno Crémer


Bruno Crémer is a French actor who spent a great part of his career on stage but has also had successful performances for the cinema and the television.

He is widely known in France and the French speaking world for his interpretation of the famous detective Maigret in a television series that started in 1991. In 2005, he acted in his 54th adaptation of a Maigret story.

His earlier career on the stage included creating the role of Thomas Beckett in the 1959 world premiere of the play Beckett by Jean Anouilh.

After ten years on stage, he had a credited role in the movies for the first time in 1957 in Send a Woman When the Devil Fails (UK), with Alain Delon, aka: When a Woman Meddles (USA: TV title) aka: When the Woman Gets Confused.

Jean Richard


Jean Richard was a famous French actor.

He was born in the town of Bessines, France and began his career as a caricaturist before acting in comedy films. Although he played a part in more than 80 movies, it was his TV role as Maigret that made him famous. He portrayed the famous inspector character from Georges Simenon's novels for over 20 years. He also created the well-known Jean Richard Circus. He died due to complications from cancer

Gino Cervi


Gino Cervi was an Italian actor of international fame.

Cervi was born in Bologna. His father was the theatre critic Antonio Cervi. In 1928, he married Nini Gordini (one of his partners) and they had a son, Tonino Cervi. Gino Cervi later became the grandfather of actress Valentina Cervi and producer Antonio Levesi Cervi.

Cervi was best known for his role of Giuseppe Bottazzi ("Peppone"), the Communist mayor in the Don Camillo movies of the 1950s and the 1960s. He shared great complicity and friendship with co-star Fernandel during the 15 years playing their respective roles in Don Camillo movies.

At the end of his career, he played Commissioner Maigret for six years in the Italian version of those murder stories, which ended with a movie Maigret in Pigalle (Mario Landi, 1966).

Sir Vivian Ernest Fuchs


Sir Vivian Ernest Fuchs was an English explorer whose expeditionary team completed the first overland crossing of Antarctica in 1958.

Fuchs was the son of the German immigrant Ernst Fuchs from Jena and of his British wife Violet Watson. Fuchs was born in 1908 in Freshwater, Isle of Wight, and attended Brighton College and St John's College, Cambridge. Fuchs was educated as a geologist, and considered the profession a means to pursue his interest in the outdoors. His first expedition was to Greenland in 1929 with his tutor James Wordie. After graduation in 1930, he traveled with a Cambridge University expedition to study the geology of east African lakes with respect to climate fluctuation. Next, he joined anthropologist Louis Leakey on an expedition to Olduvai Gorge. In 1933, Fuchs married his cousin, Joyce Connell. A world traveller in her own right, Joyce accompanied Vivian on his expedition to Lake Rudolf (now Lake Turkana) in 1934. The findings from this expedition, in which two of their companions were lost, brought Fuchs his Ph.D from Cambridge in 1937.

In February 1936, his daughter Hilary was born. Fuchs organized an expedition to investigate the Lake Rukwa basin in southern Tanzania in 1937. He returned in 1938 to find that his second daughter, Rosalind, had severe cerebral palsy. Rosalind died in 1945. His son, Peter, was born in 1940.

At the age of thirty, he enrolled in the Territorial Army, and was dispatched to the Gold Coast from 1942 to July 1943. He returned home and was posted to London at Second Army headquarters in a civil affairs position. The Second Army was transferred to Portsmouth for the D-Day landings, and Fuchs eventually reached Germany in time to see the release of prisoners from the Belsen concentration camp. He governed the Plön district in Schleswig-Holstein until October 1946, when he was discharged from military service with the rank of Major.

Fuchs was involved with the Falkland Islands Dependencies Survey (now the British Antarctic Survey) beginning in 1947, when he applied for a geologist position. The organization's goal was to promote Britain's claims to Antarctica, and secondarily to support scientific research. In 1950 Fuchs was asked to develop the new London scientific bureau of the Survey, to plan research in the Antarctic and support research publication. He would eventually become director of the Falkland Islands Dependencies Survey, from 1958 (after his return from the successful Antarctic expedition) until 1973. His wife died in 1990 of a heart attack. The next year, he married Eleanor Honnywill, his former personal assistant at the British Antarctic Survey. Sir Vivian Fuchs died on 11 November 1999, at the age of 91.

Merian C. Cooper


Merian Caldwell Cooper was an American aviator, United States Air Force and Polish Air Force officer, adventurer, director, screenwriter and producer.

Cooper's most famous film work was the 1933 movie King Kong.

Cooper was the father of Polish translator and writer Maciej Słomczyński and was married to Dorothy Jordan.

Born to John C. Cooper, of distant English descent, and the former Mary Caldwell, Merian Caldwell Cooper entered the U.S. Naval Academy in 1912 but left in 1915 (his senior year). In 1916 he joined the Georgia National Guard to help chase Pancho Villa in Mexico.

Cooper was a bomber pilot during World War I. He was shot down and captured by the Germans, serving out the remainder of the war in a POW camp.

From late 1919 until the 1921 Treaty of Riga he was a member of a volunteer American flight squadron, the Kościuszko Squadron, which supported the Polish Army in the Polish-Soviet War. On July 26, 1920, his plane was shot down, and he spent nearly 9 months in a Soviet prisoner of war camp. He escaped just before the war was over and made it to Latvia. For valor he was decorated by Polish commander-in-chief Józef Piłsudski with the highest Polish military decoration, the Virtuti Militari.

During his time as a POW, Cooper wrote an autobiography: Things Men Die For by "C". He turned the manuscript over to Dagmar Matson to type for publisher submission. It was submitted to G. P. Putnam's Sons in New York (the Knickerbocker Press) in 1927 and published that same year. Just after the book's release, he changed his mind about releasing the personal details about "Nina" and asked Dagmar to buy up every copy she could find. She managed to acquire most of the 5,000 copies that had been released. Cooper kept a copy and Dagmar kept a copy, while the rest were eventually destroyed. Dagmar sent Nina money every month, on behalf of Cooper, until his death.

Though old enough to be free of service in World War II, he enlisted anyway, commissioned as a colonel in the U.S. Army Air Forces, serving in China as chief of staff for General Claire Chennault of the China Air Task Force — better known as the "Flying Tigers", then from 1943 to 1945 in the Southwest Pacific as chief of staff for the Fifth Air Force's Bomber Command.

Leading many missions and carefully planning them to minimize loss of life, he was known for his hard work and relentless planning. At the end of the war, he was promoted to brigadier general. For his contributions, he was also aboard the USS Missouri to witness Japan's surrender.

Cooper led movie production for RKO Radio Pictures before and after World War II. He frequently collaborated with Ernest B. Schoedsack. Cooper also served as vice president in charge of production for Pioneer Pictures from 1934 to 1936, and vice president of Selznick International Pictures in 1936–1937, before moving to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

Cooper started his film career with documentaries for Paramount Pictures such as Grass (1925) and Chang (1927), which combined real footage with staged sequences. In Chang , he used this technique to create a memorable finale featuring an elephant stampede. His movie The Four Feathers was filmed among the fighting tribes of the Sudan.

Throughout his career, Cooper was a proponent of technical innovation. The film King Kong, which he co-wrote, co-directed, and appeared in, was a breakthrough in this regard. Another outstanding film that he produced in trying to follow up on his success with King Kong was the 1935 film She. Additionally, Cooper helped pave the way for such ground-breaking technologies as Technicolor and the widescreen process Cinerama.

Cooper was a good friend and frequent collaborator with noted Western director John Ford. In 1947, they formed Argosy Productions and produced such notable films as Wagon Master (1950), Rio Grande (1950), The Quiet Man (1952), and The Searchers (1956). He was nominated for an Academy Award for producing The Quiet Man in 1952, but lost to Cecil B. DeMille's The Greatest Show on Earth. Cooper did however receive an Honorary Oscar that same year.

Halliwell Sutcliffe


Halliwell Sutcliffe, born in Shipley near Bradford in 1870 and died in Linton-in-Craven in 1932, was an author of popular novels, all now out of print. Most of them are historical romances set in the Yorkshire Dales, and many of them romanticize the Stuarts, especially Bonnie Prince Charlie. Sutcliffe's father was headmaster of Bingley Grammar School from 1873 to 1901, and Sutcliffe was educated there and at King's College, Cambridge. In 1904 he married Mabel Cottrell of Twickenham, and they lived first at Embsay near Skipton, where their elder son Derek was born in 1905. After eighteen months in Embsay, they moved to Linton on the banks of the Wharfe, and here their younger son Noel was born in 1906. Their house was called Troutbeck, but about 1913 Sutcliffe renamed it White Abbey, believing that it had once been a grange of Fountains Abbey. It was here that Halliwell Sutcliffe died in January 1932, aged 61.

Cecil John Charles Street


Cecil John Charles Street, known as John Street, was a prolific English writer of detective novels. He produced two long series; one under the name of John Rhode featuring the forensic scientist Dr Priestley, and another under the name of Miles Burton featuring the investigator Desmond Merrion. Under the name Cecil Waye, Street produced four novels: The Figure of Eight; The End of the Chase; The Prime Minister's Pencil; and Murder at Monk's Barn. The Dr. Priestley novels were among the first after Sherlock Holmes to feature scientific detection of crime, such as analyzing the mud on a suspect's shoes. Desmond Merrion is an amateur detective who works with Scotland Yard's Inspector Arnold.

Critic and author Julian Symons places this author as a prominent member of the "Humdrum" school of detective fiction. "Most of them came late to writing fiction, and few had much talent for it. They had some skill in constructing puzzles, nothing more, and ironically they fulfilled much better than S. S. Van Dine his dictum that the detective story properly belonged in the category of riddles or crossword puzzles.

W. H. Davies


William Henry Davies or W H Davies was a Welsh poet and writer.

He spent a significant part of his life as a tramp or vagabond in the United States and United Kingdom, but became known as one of the most popular poets of his time. The principle themes in Davies' work are the marvels of nature, observations about life's hardships, his own tramping adventures and the various characters he met. Davies is usually considered as one of the Georgian poets, although much of his work is atypical of the style and themes adopted by others of the genre.

.The son of an iron-moulder, Davies was born at 6 Portland Street in the Pillgwenlly district of Newport, Monmouthshire and a busy port. His father died when he was just two years old. When his mother remarried she agreed that care of the three children should pass to their paternal grandparents who ran the nearby Church House Inn at 14, Portland Street. His grandfather Francis Boase Davies, originally from Cornwall, had been a sea captain.

In his 1918 "Poet's Pilgrimage" Davies recounts the time when, at the age of 14, he had been left `with orders' to sit with his dying grandfather. He missed the final moments of his grandfather's passing as he had been too engrossed in reading "...a very interesting book of wild adventure". This revealing anecdote betrayed the passion Davies was to have all his life, despite his humble background, for the written word.

After finishing school in disgrace at the age of 15 (having been given twelve stokes of the birch for shoplifting with a gang of school-mates), his grandmother signed the papers for Davies to become an apprentice to a local picture-frame maker. Davies never enjoyed the craft, however, and never settled into any regular work. He was a difficult and somewhat delinquent young man, and made repeated requests to his grandmother to lend him the money to sail to America. When these were all refused, he eventually left Newport, took casual work and started to travel. The Autobiography of a Super-Tramp (1908) covers his life during his traveling and included many adventures and characters in the USA 1893-99, where he lived as a tramp. During this period he crossed the Atlantic at least seven times working on cattle ships. He traveled widely, through many of the States, sometimes begging, sometimes taking seasonal work, but often ending up spending any savings on a drinking spree with a fellow traveler. At one stage, on his way to Memphis, Tennessee he lay alone in a swamp for three days and nights suffering from malaria.

The great turning point in Davies' life came when he read in England of the riches to be made in the Klondike and immediately set off to make his fortune in Canada. Attempting to jump a freight train at Renfrew, Ontario, however, with fellow tramp Three-fingered Jack, he lost his footing and his right foot was crushed under the wheels of the train. The leg later had to be amputated below the knee and he wore a wooden leg thereafter. It was this event, perhaps more than any other, which led him to seek poetry-writing as a means of earning his living.

He returned to England, living a rough life, particularly in London shelters and doss-houses. So desperate was he to compose that, fearing the contempt of his fellow tramps, he would often feign slumber in the corner of his doss-house, mentally composing his poems and only later committing them to paper in private. So desperate was he to see his work in print that at one stage he borrowed the money to have his poems printed on loose sheets of paper which he then tried to sell door-to-door through the streets of residential London. When this enterprise failed miserably, he returned to his lodgings and, in a fit of rage, burned all of the printed sheets in the fire.

His first book of poetry was published in 1905, again with the help of Davies' own savings and proved to be the beginning of success and a growing reputation. In order to even get "The Soul's Destroyer" published Davies had to forego his allowance and live the life of a tramp for six months (with the manuscript of the book hidden in his pocket), just to secure a loan of funds from his inheritance. When eventually published the volume was largely ignored and he resorted to posting individual copies by hand to prospective wealthy customers chosen from the pages of "Who's Who". He eventually managed to sell 60 of the 200 copies printed.

On 12 October 1905 he met Edward Thomas, then literary critic for the Daily Chronicle in London, who was to do more to help Davies than anyone else. Thomas rented a tiny two-roomed cottage for Davies not far from his own home at Elses Farm near Sevenoaks in Kent. Davies moved to the cottage from Newport, via London, in the second week of February 1907. On one occasion Thomas had to arrange for the manufacture, by a local wheelwright, of a makeshift wooden leg for Davies.

In 1907 the manusript of "The Autobiography of a Super-Tramp" drew the attention of George Bernard Shaw, who agreed to write a preface (largely through the concerted efforts of his wife Charlotte). It was only because of Bernard Shaw that Davies' contract with the publishers was re-written to allow the author to retain the serial rights, all rights after three years, royalties of fifteen per cent of selling price and a non-returnable advance of twenty five pounds. Davies was also to be given a say on the style of all illustations, advertisement layouts and cover designs. The original publisher, Duckworth and Sons, refused to accept these demands and so the book was placed instead with London publisher Fifield.

In 1911 Davies was awarded a Civil List Pension of £50, later increased to £100 and then again to £150.

After lodging at a number of temporary addresses in Sevenoaks, Davies moved back to London early in 1914, settling eventually at 14, Great Russell Street in the Bloomsbury district (previously the residence of one Charles Dickens). Here in a tiny two-room apartment, initially infested with mice and rats, and next door to rooms occupied by a noisy Belgian prostitute, he lived from early 1916 until 1921.

It was during this time in London that Davies embarked on a series of public readings of his work, alongside such others as Hillaire Belloc and W. B. Yeats, impressing such fellow poets as Ezra Pound. He soon found that he was able to socialise with leading society figures of the day, including Lord Balfour and Lady Randolph Churchill.

Whilst in London Davies also became friendly with a number of artists including Jacob Epstein, Harold Knight, Nina Hamnett, Laura Knight, Augustus John, Harold Gilman, William Rothenstein, Walter Sickert, Sir William Nicholson and Osbert and Edith Sitwell.

In his poetry Davies drew extensively for material on his experiences with the seamier side of life, but also on his love of nature. By the time of his prominent place in the Edward Marsh Georgian poetry series, he was an established figure. He is generally best known for two lines from his poem, Leisure, first published in "Songs Of Joy and Others" in 1911:

What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.
where he rented rooms from the Quaker poet Olaf Baker. He began to find prolonged work difficult, however, suffering from increased bouts of rheumatism and other ailments.

Davies returned to his native Newport in September 1938 for the unveiling of a plaque in his honour at the Church House Inn with an address given by the Poet Laureate John Masefield. He was unwell, however, and this proved to be his last public appearance. His health deteriorated, not helped by the weight of his wooden leg, and he died in September 1940 at the age of 69.

Dr. Ray L. Hart


Dr. Ray L. Hart

Ray L. Hart was born and reared on a ranch in the Panhandle of Texas. He was educated at (United Methodist) McMurry University, the University of Texas at Austin (Bachelor of Arts, 1949, triple major in Philosophy, English, German), Southern Methodist University’s Perkins School of Theology (Bachelor of Divinity, 1953), and Yale University (Ph.D. in Philosophical Theology, 1959). He has taught at (United Methodist) Drew University School of Theology, Vanderbilt University Divinity School, the University of Montana at Missoula (Chairman of the Department of Religious Studies), the State University of New York at Stony Brook, and Boston University. He came to Boston University in 1989, where he served for a decade as Chairman of the Department of Religion (CAS) and Director of Graduate Studies in Theology and Religion. He has served on many university-wide committees, most recently the Trustee Scholarships Committee, and the Search Committee for the Dean of Marsh Chapel and Chaplain to the University. Over the course of the past forty seven years in five institutions he has been the mentor of well over one hundred Ph.D. students in Theology and Philosophy of Religion.

Dean Hart is often cited as one of the primary shapers of the study of religion and theology in America in the last third of the 20th century, especially through his long involvement in the American Academy of Religion (AAR). For a decade he was the chief Editor of The Journal of the American Academy of Religion; he conceived and executed the structure of the annual meeting (which now attracts an attendance of some 10,000) which has been in force since 1973. In 1984 he was elected President of AAR, after serving as that learned society’s first Delegate to The American Council of Learned Societies, and presided over the society’s 75th Anniversary (even now he is involved in planning the 100th anniversary for 2009). When he exited formal offices in AAR, its Board of Trustees established the “Ray L. Hart Award for Distinguished Achievement in the Study of Religion,” which is awarded annually.

Dr. Hart has been a consultant to many colleges, universities and seminaries to evaluate their programs at both undergraduate and graduate levels (e.g., University of Virginia, Florida State University system, California University System, Yale Divinity School, University of Chicago Divinity School, etc.). For a decade he was primary Consultant to the Chancellor and Board of Trustees of the State University of New York for the development of a statewide program in religious and humanistic studies.

Dean Hart is the author of the typical clutch of books, monographs, edited volumes, and articles. The most widely known of his books is Unfinished Man and the Imagination: Towards an Ontology and a Rhetoric of Revelation. Of that book he says “its only claim to fame is that it has remained in print for thirty six years, and counting.” He is presently preoccupied with writing a book on the doctrine or theory of God, but notes with a grimace “I’m unlikely to add a line until I work myself out of Deaning.”

The Reverend Dr. Hart has been an ordained Elder in the United Methodist Church since 1952, and remains a member of the Northwest Texas Conference.

Professor Geremek


Professor Bronisław Geremek, born Benjamin Lewertow on March 6, 1932 in Warsaw, was a Polish social historian and politician.

Geremek was born in Warsaw, Poland on March 6, 1932. His father, a fur merchant, was murdered in Auschwitz. His mother and he were smuggled out of the Warsaw Ghetto in 1943 and were sheltered by Stefan Geremek. Geremek later married Bronisław’s mother and Bronisław was further raised in a Roman Catholic tradition. In his adult life he considered himself neither a Jew nor a Catholic. His grandfather was a maggid, his brother Jerry, living in New York is a Jew and his sons living in Poland are Roman Catholics. In 1954 Bronisław Geremek graduated from the Faculty of History at the Warsaw University, and in 1956-1958 he completed postgraduate studies at the Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes in Paris. He completed his PhD in 1960 and in 1972 he was granted a postdoctoral degree at the Polish Academy of Sciences (PAN). In 1989 he was appointed associate professor.

The chief domain of Geremek’s scholarly work was research on the history of culture and medieval society. His scholarly achievements included numerous articles and lectures, as well as ten books, which have been translated into ten languages. His doctoral thesis (1960) concerned the labor market in medieval Paris, including prostitution. His postdoctoral thesis (1972) concerned underworld groups in medieval Paris.

Almost the whole of Geremek's scholarly career was connected with the Institute of History of the Polish Academy of Sciences, where he worked from 1955 to 1985. However, from 1960 to 1965 he was a lecturer at the Sorbonne in Paris and the manager of the Polish Culture Centre of that university. Geremek was given honorary degrees by the University of Bologna, Utrecht University, the Sorbonne, Columbia University and Jagiellonian University in Krakow. In 1992 he was designated visiting professor at the College de France. He was a member of Academia Europea, the PEN Club, the Societe Europeenne de Culture, and numerous other societies and associations.

In 1950 Geremek joined the Polish United Workers' Party (PZPR). He was the second secretary of the Basic Party Organization (POP) of the PZPR at Warsaw University. In 1968, however, he withdrew from the party in protest against the Warsaw Pact's invasion of Czechoslovakia.

In the 1970s Geremek was considered one of the leading figures in the Polish democratic opposition. In 1978 he co-founded the Society for Educational Courses, for which he gave lectures. In August 1980 he joined the Gdańsk workers' protest movement and became one of the advisers of the Independent Self-Governing Trade Union Solidarność (Polish for "Solidarity") - NSZZ. In 1981 he chaired the Program Commission of the First National Convention of Solidarity. After martial law was declared in December 1981 he was interned until December 1982, when he once again became an adviser to the then-illegal Solidarity, working closely with Lech Wałęsa. In 1983 he was arrested by the Polish authorities.

Between 1987 and 1989 Geremek was the leader of the Commission for Political Reforms of the Civic Committee, which prepared proposals for peaceful democratic transformation in Poland. In 1989 he played a crucial role during the debates between Solidarity and the authorities that led to free parliamentary elections and the establishment of the ‘Contract Sejm’.

Geremek then became one of the founders of the The Democratic Union (later merged into the The Freedom Union) and was the leader of the Democratic Union’s parliamentary group from 1990 to 1997. After the elections in 1991 President Lech Wałęsa asked him to form a new government, but Geremek failed to do so and Jan Olszewski was appointed Prime Minister instead.

From 1989 to 2001 Geremek was a member of the lower house of the Polish parliament, the Sejm, and chairman of the Political Council of the Freedom Union. He chaired the Sejm's Committee on Foreign Affairs from 1989 to 1997, its Constitutional Committee from 1989 to 1991 and its European Law Committee from 2000 to 2001.

After a coalition government was formed in October 1997 by the Solidarity Electoral Action (AWS) and the Freedom Union Geremek served as Minister of Foreign Affairs under Prime Minister Jerzy Buzek until 2000. In March 1999 he signed the treaty under which Poland joined NATO.

In the election to the European Parliament in June 2004 Geremek was elected as a candidate of the Freedom Union, winning the largest number of votes in Warsaw. In the European Parliament he was a member of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe.

In April 2007 Geremek refused to declare that he had never collaborated with the Communist secret service, which he was being asked to do under a new vetting law. In May 2007 the Constitutional Tribunal of the Republic of Poland) rejected most of the new vetting law, including the clause that would have made it mandatory for nearly 700,000 Poles to sign declarations certifying that they had never collaborated with the secret services under the old regime.

Geremek was a Member of the Global Leadership Foundation, an organization which works to promote good governance around the world.

Geremek received many decorations and distinctions, such as the Großes Verdienstkreuz mit Stern - the Grand Cross with the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany and the Pour le Mérite, and, in 1998, the Karlspreis (Charlemagne Award) of the city of Aachen . He was an Officer of the French Légion d’honneur. In 2002 President Aleksander Kwaśniewski honoured him with the most important Polish decoration, the Order of the White Eagle.

Geremek died in a car accident near Nowy Tomyśl, Poland while driving his car. He was granted a state funeral, held in Warsaw in the Cathedral of St John. His funeral was attended by the President of the Republic of Poland Lech Kaczyński, Prime Minister Donald Tusk, and former President Lech Wałęsa among others.

Sir Joshua Hassan


Sir Joshua Abraham Hassan was a Gibraltarian politician, and the first Chief Minister of Gibraltar, serving two terms and for a total of 17 years. His first term of office lasted from 11 August 1964 to 6 August 1969, and his second from 25 June 1972 to 8 December 1987. He was leader of the Association for the Advancement of Civil Rights and is seen as the key figure in the civil rights movement, and played a key role in the creation of Gibraltar's institutions of self-government. He was one of the members of the Constitutional Conference chaired by Malcolm Shepherd, 2nd Baron Shepherd in 1968 that drafted the 1969 Gibraltar Constitution. Hassan was also a successful lawyer, and his chambers Hassans is now the largest in Gibraltar.

Prior to the creation of the post of Chief Minister, Hassan had served as a member of the Gibraltar Legislative Council, Mayor of Gibraltar, and as the Chief Member of the Legislative Council. He was prominent in Gibraltar politics for over 30 years.

He died on July 1, 1997 at the age of 81.

David Marshall


David P. Marshall was the leader of the Singapore Labor Front and became the first Chief Minister of Singapore in 1955.

Born into an Orthodox Jewish family of Iraqi ancestry in Singapore, he became interested in politics and the independence movement at an early age. He was called to the Bar in 1937 after graduating from the University of London and the Middle Temple in Britain. He would later become the most successful criminal lawyer in Singapore, with a reputation "Marshall never loses". Known for his sharp eloquence and imposing stances, he claimed that he had 99 acquittals out of 100 cases he defended for murder (during Singapore's period of using trial by jury). Ironically, in 1969 the leader of Singapore and political opponent Lee Kuan Yew abolished the jury system, using Marshall's reputation to illustrate its inadequacy.

In the Second World War, he joined the Singapore Volunteer Corps and was taken prisoner after the Fall of Singapore in 1942, working in coal mines of Hokkaidō, Japan before being released in 1945.

In Singapore's first Legislative Assembly election in April 1955, Marshall led the left-wing Labor Front to a narrow victory, and was able to form a minority government and become Chief Minister. He presided over a shaky government, receiving little cooperation from either the colonial authorities or the other local parties. In May 1955, the Hock Lee Bus Riots broke out, killing 4 people and seriously discrediting Marshall's government. In April 1956, he led a delegation to London to negotiate for complete self-rule, but the talks fell through due to British concerns about worker unrest and communist influence. After the failed meeting, Marshall resigned saying "I have failed in my Merdeka mission". Replacing him as Chief Minister was Lim Yew Hock, who would later take very tough action against the labor unions.

Marshall stayed on the backbenches, before quitting the ruling Labor Front party in 1957 and founding the Workers' Party of Singapore. He lost his seat in the 1959 general election, but was able to win a by-election in Anson in 1961. After losing his seat again in the 1963 elections, he returned to practice law but remained active in opposition politics until 1972, when J. B. Jeyaretnam became leader of the Workers' Party.

From 1978 to 1993, Marshall served as Singapore's Ambassador to France, Portugal, Spain and Switzerland. As Singapore's ambassador, Marshall always defended his country's interests, despite his differences with Lee Kuan Yew's government. He retired from the diplomatic corps in 1993.

He died in 1995 as a result of lung cancer.

John N. Mitchell


John Newton Mitchell was the first United States Attorney General ever to be convicted of illegal activities and imprisoned. He also served as campaign director for the Committee to Re-elect the President, which engineered the Watergate first break-in and employed Watergate burglar James W. McCord, Jr. in a "security" capacity.

Mitchell was born in Detroit, Michigan, and grew up on Long Island in New York. He earned his law degree from Fordham University School of Law and was admitted to the New York bar in 1938. He served for three years as a naval officer (Lieutenant, Junior Grade) during World War II.

Except for his period of military service, Mitchell practiced law in New York City from 1938 until 1968 and earned a reputation as the nation's preeminent municipal bond lawyer.

Mitchell came up with the idea for a type of revenue bond called a “moral obligation bond" while serving as bond counsel to New York’s Governor Nelson Rockefeller in the 1960s. In an effort to get around the voter approval process for increasing state and municipal bond limits, Mitchell attached language to the offerings that indicated the state’s intent to meet bond payments even though it was not obligated to do so. Mitchell’s intent was to create a “form of political elitism that bypasses the voter’s right to a referendum or an initiative.”

Richard Nixon met John Mitchell when Mitchell's municipal bond law firm merged with Nixon Mudge Rose Guthrie & Alexander in 1967. Vice President Nixon had already lost to Senator John F. Kennedy in 1960 and had been soundly defeated in the 1962 California gubernatorial contest. The two men became friends, and in 1968, with considerable trepidation, Mitchell agreed to become Nixon's presidential campaign manager.

During his successful 1968 campaign, Nixon turned over the details of the day-to-day operations to the superbly organized Mitchell. After he became president in January 1969, Nixon appointed Mitchell attorney general while making an unprecedented direct appeal to FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover that the usual background investigation not be conducted. Mitchell remained in office from 1969 until he resigned in 1972 to manage President Nixon's successful reelection campaign.

In the fall of 1968, 68 percent of black children in the South were attending all-black schools. By 1974, that number had fallen to 8 percent. This extraordinary accomplishment was achieved through the shrewd political skills and raw courage of President Nixon, Secretary of Labor George Schultz, and Attorney General John Mitchell.

Will Wilson, a former conservative Democratic attorney general of Texas who switched to the Republican Party to support Nixon, was named assistant U.S. Attorney General in charge of the Criminal Division. He served from 1969-1971. Mitchell believed that the government's need for "law and order" justified restrictions on civil liberties. He advocated the use of wiretaps in national security cases without obtaining a court order (United States v. U.S. District Court) and the right of police to employ the preventive detention of criminal suspects. He brought conspiracy charges against critics of the Vietnam War, and demonstrated a reluctance to involve the Justice Department in civil rights issues. "The Department of Justice is a law enforcement agency," he told reporters. "It is not the place to carry on a program aimed at curing the ills of society."

Mitchell's name was mentioned in a deposition concerning Robert L. Vesco, an international financier who was a fugitive from a federal indictment. Mitchell and Nixon Finance Committee Chairman Maurice H. Stans were indicted in May 1973 on federal charges of obstructing an investigation of Vesco after he made a $200,000 contribution to the Nixon campaign. In April 1974 both men were acquitted in a New York federal district court.

On February 21, 1975, Mitchell was found guilty of conspiracy, obstruction of justice, and perjury and sentenced to two and a half to eight years in prison for his role in the Watergate break-in and cover-up, which he dubbed the White House horrors. The sentence was later reduced to one to four years by United States district court Judge John J. Sirica. Mitchell served only 19 months of his sentence, at Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, Alabama, a minimum security prison, before being released on parole for medical reasons. Tape recordings made by President Nixon and the testimony of others involved confirmed that Mitchell had participated in meetings to plan the break-in of the Democratic Party's national headquarters in the Watergate Hotel. In addition, he had met, on at least three occasions, with the president in an effort to cover up White House involvement after the burglars were discovered and arrested.

On November 9, 1988, he collapsed from a heart attack on the sidewalk in front of 2812 N St., N.W., Georgetown, Washington, D.C.. That evening he died at George Washington University Hospital. He was buried with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery based both on his World War II Naval service and his former cabinet post of Attorney General.

Nat King Cole


Nathaniel Adams Coles known professionally as Nat King Cole, was an American musician who first came to prominence as a leading jazz pianist. Although an accomplished pianist, he owes most of his popular musical fame to his soft baritone voice, which he used to perform in big band and jazz genres. He was the first black American to host a television variety show and has maintained worldwide popularity over 40 years past his death; he is widely considered one of the most important musical personalities in United States history.

Cole, a smoker of three packs of cigarettes a day, died of lung cancer on February 15, 1965.

John Osborne


John James Osborne was an English playwright, screenwriter, actor and critic of The Establishment. The stunning success of his 1956 play Look Back in Anger transformed English theatre. In a productive life of more than 40 years, Osborne explored many themes and genres, writing for stage, film and TV. His personal life was extravagant and iconoclastic. He was notorious for the ornate violence of his language, not only on behalf of the political causes he supported but also against his own family, including his wives and children though they often gave as good as they got.

He came onto the theatrical scene at a time when British acting was enjoying a golden age, but most great plays came from the United States and France. British plays remained blind to the complexities of the postwar period. Osborne was one of the first writers to address Britain's purpose in the post-imperial age. He was the first to question the point of the monarchy on a prominent public stage. During his peak (1956-1966), he helped make contempt an acceptable and now even cliched onstage emotion, argued for the cleansing wisdom of bad behaviour and bad taste, and combined unsparing truthfulness with devastating wit.