Showing posts from August, 2009

Scandalous Real Estate

New York's narrowest house -- No. 75-1/2 Bedford Street -- is on the market for the bargain price of $2.75 MM. Edna St. Vincent Millay moved into the narrow house at 75-1/2 Bedford in 1924. It was Millay and her husband who remodeled the home, adding a skylight and the Dutch gabling on the front and back. The other famous tenant to live in the house is anthrpologist Margaret Mead. Mead was living there with her sister and brother-in-law, the cartoonist William Steig (best known today, perhaps, as the creator of Shrek). The New York Post has a feature on the house, including a photo essay that doesn't reveal much about the interior, but does have a picture of the unique four-in-a-row burner stove. Over at Curbed , you can download the floorplan as you mull over whether or not $2.75 MM is a good price for owning a conversation piece. God, I wish I had $2.75 MM for this house. I mean who wouldn't want to live in a piece of NY history? Sure it's narrow, but I'm jus

Scandalous Interview with Donna Woolfolk Cross

"Engaging . . . Pope Joan has all the elements: love, sex, violence, duplicity, and long-buried secrets."--Los Angeles Times Book Review For a thousand years men have denied her existence--Pope Joan, the woman who disguised herself as a man and rose to rule Christianity for two years. Now this compelling novel animates the legend with a portrait of an unforgettable woman who struggles against restrictions her soul cannot accept.When her older brother dies in a Viking attack, the brilliant young Joan assumes his identity and enters a Benedictine monastery where, as Brother John Anglicus, she distinguishes herself as a scholar and healer. Eventually drawn to Rome, she soon becomes enmeshed in a dangerous mix of powerful passion and explosive politics that threatens her life even as it elevates her to the highest throne in the Western world. "Brings the savage ninth century vividly to life in all its alien richness. An enthralling, scholarly historical novel."--Rebe

The Unsinkable Molly Brown

On November 3, 1960 a musical opened on Broadway called The Unsinkable Molly Brown , based on the life of Margaret Tobin Brown. The musical's music and lyrics were written by Meredith Wilson (who wrote The Music Man). It starred Tammy Grimes and Harvey Presnell and ran for 532 performances before closing. The musical was made into a movie starring Debbie Reynolds (in one of her most annoying performances) as Molly. She was nominated for an Academy Award for her performance. The musical Molly is a scrappy foul-mouthed illiterate tomboy who survived a flood on the Colorado river at six months old (one of the more disturbing scenes in the film). Molly dreams of a better life, of being rich and living in Denver, sort of a western Eliza Doolittle. Fleeing the hovel where she lives with her drunken Irish father and brothers, she travels on foot to Leadville, CO. She meets J.J. Brown by accident when he comes upon her while she's bathing. He's a miner who would rather fish and

Scandalous Women Receives the BINGO Award

Marie over at the Burton Review awarded me the BINGO Award for being informative. This "B-I-N-G-O" BEAUTIFUL BLOG AWARD means that this blog is...B: BeautifulI: InformativeN: NeighborlyG: Gorgeous O: Outstanding. Please look carefully at as many blogs as you can to find the top FIVE blogs that YOU think also exemplify these standards and pass it along to them. Please don't break this chain of FIVE! Accordingly I pass on the BINGO Award to: 1. Beautiful: Amy at Passages to the Past 2. Informative: Evangeline at Edwardian Promenade 3. Neighborly: Ms. Lucy at Enchanted by Josephine 4. Gorgeous: Heather at Georgiana's Gossip Guide to the 18th Century 5. Outstanding: Eliza at History Undressed

There's Something About Mary

Recently I wrote a post about the plethora of books on Henry VIII since The Tudors and the 500th anniversary of his coronation. I've also begun to notice that there have been a spate of books about Mary, Queen of Scots lately, both fiction and non-fiction. What is about the reign of Mary that keeps writers and readers so interested? Is it the murder of Darnley and her subsequent hasty marriage to Bothwell? Her years in imprisonment in England and eventual beheading? Her life is tragic but also kind of sexy compared to Elizabeth, the Virgin Queen. Mary was Queen of two countries, married three times, the last marriage possibly forced. She was tall, with red hair, and Catholic living in a country where danger lurked behind every corner, not knowing who to trust, living amongst squabbling nobles who refused to bow to a woman as sovereign. Not only have there been a lot of books, but there was a revival of Schiller's Mary Stuart on Broadway recently with Janet McTeer (magnificent)

Chanel: The Early Years

Today marks the birthday of one of the most influential women in the history of the fashion industry, Gabrielle ‘Coco’ Chanel. Her clothes are iconic, the interlocking C’s, spectator pumps, knit suits, the little quilted black bag, the perfume Chanel No. 5. Chanel is probably one of the most knocked off designers on the planet; just take a visit down to Canal Street in New York where you can buy an imitation Chanel bag for a song. Her name came to mean female emancipation and feminine allure. She was the only fashion designer to be named on TIME Magazine's 100 most influential people of the 20th century. Before her death she was even the subject of a Broadway musical, Coco starring Katherine Hepburn as Chanel. Chanel was not the first woman designer to break into the male dominated world of fashion in Paris, Madeleine Vionnet and Jeanne Lanvin were already designing by the time Chanel opened her first milliner’s shop. The first major fashion house was created by an Englishmen Ch

Scandalous Book Review: The White Queen

After writing six bestsellers about the Tudors and one about Mary, Queen of Scots, Philippa Gregory has now turned her attention to their predecessors on the throne of England, The Plantagenets. Her new book The White Queen (on bookshelves tomorrow if not already at Borders) tells the story of Elizabeth Woodville, a widowed beauty who captures the eye of the young King Edward IV of the House of York. Elizabeth marries him in secret and rises to become an ambitious and formidable Queen. Elizabeth and Edward's happy marriage (despite his frequent whoring around which Elizabeth accepts with a fortitude unusual for most women), works as a counterpoint to the frequent wars as Edward tries to consolidate his hold on the throne as the battles between the House of Lancaster and the House of York rage on. This is not the first historical novel to feature Elizabeth Woodville as a heroine. Rosemary Hawley Jarman as well as Jean Plaidy (Victoria Holt) have also mined this rich period of histo

Scandalous Movie Review: Du Barry was a Lady

A hapless nightclub hat check boy, Louis Blore (Red Skelton), loves nightclub singer May Daly (Lucille Ball), but she is in love with Alec (Gene Kelly). And May she loves money. When Louis whens the Irish sweepstakes, he sees his chance to win May. She agrees to marry him but tells him that she doesn't love him. Louis agrees anyway. However, Alec is not ready to give May up, so Louis's friend convinces him to slip Alec a Mickey Finn. Louis mistakenly drinks the Mickey Finn intended for Alec, falls asleep, and dreams he is King Louis XV of France, and that May is Madame du Barry, and that Alec is a dashing rebel called the Black Arrow. Eventually after various entanglements (including the Dauphin shooting the King in the posterior with a bow and arrow), Louis wakes up and realises that Alec is the man for May. That's the plot of the 1943 MGM musical, based on a 1939 Broadway musical with music by Cole Porter, starring Ethel Merman as May. The movie version jettisons most o

Anna Nicole Smith the Opera?

Just when you thought you’d heard everything, it was recently announced that the story of Anna Nicole Smith was being turned into opera, to be staged at Covent Garden in London 2011 by the same creative team who brought Jerry Springer the Opera to life. "It is not going to be a horrible, sleazy evening," Elaine Padmore, Covent Garden's director of opera told the Guardian newspaper. "It is not going to be tawdry; it is going to be witty, clever, thoughtful and sad. It is not just a documentary about her, but a parable about celebrity and what it does to people.” Since opera houses are filled with larger than life personalities, it seems the perfect place for Anna Nicole. I certainly will be making my vacation plans to attend. It boggles the mind as to who they are going to get to play Anna, Howard Stern, and Larry Birkhead, not to mention Hugh Hefner. I've seen Jerry Springer the Opera, and it was a night I will never forget (David Soul from Starsky and Hutch pla

Mary Surratt - Mother of all Conspirators

You may not recognize her name but in 1865 everyone knew who Mary Surratt was. She was the only woman implicated in Lincoln’s assassination, and the first woman to be executed by the United States government. But questions still remain as to how much of a role Mary actually played in the conspiracy or if she played a part at all. Was she the “mother of all conspirators,” as the papers claimed? Or was she an innocent woman who was railroaded by the government in their rush to justice? Mary Surratt was born Mary Jenkins in Waterloo, MD in 1823. She grew up around slavery and accepted it as a way of life. Her parents were slave-owners, owning a modest plantation, although her father passed away when she just two years old, leaving her mother to pick up the pieces as best she could. Elizabeth Jenkins didn’t remarry, instead she became a competent manager of the properties that her husband left, actually expanding the holdings considerably. When Mary was sixteen she met John Surratt, who

Desperate Romantics

Recently I picked up a copy of the English magazine The Tatler which had a huge photo of a new BBC mini-series called Desperate Romantics about the lives of the Pre-Raphaelites. Since I wrote a post about Lizzie Siddal , I was curious to find out more information about the show. Fortunately, there is such a thing as Google, I found a web-site for the show here as well the BBC Website . Here is a description of the program. Also interviewd with two of the actors Rafe Spall and Sam Barnett at the Telegraph and one with Zoe Tapper who plays Lizzie at Digital Spy UK . BBC Two’s exciting new six-part drama, Desperate Romantics, set in the throbbing heart of 19th-century industrial London, follows the adventures of three men who created what would become one of Britain’s most important art movements: the self-styled “Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood”. Starring as the maverick group of English artists, their associates and muses are: Aidan Turner (Being Human, The Clinic), Rafe Spall (A Room Wi

Pope Joan Contest Extended

The contest to win a trip to the premiere of Pope Joan has been extended to August 9th. For more information head on over to for more information. And stay tuned for an interview with Donna Woolfolk Cross.

Everything's Coming up Tudors

With the success of Showtime's The Tudors, and the 500th anniversary of Henry VIII's coronation, bookstores are exploding with books on the Tudors. While looking for books on, I found this book that was recently released, a biography of Mary Boleyn by Josephine Wilkerson. Here is a description: The scandalous true story of Mary Boleyn, infamous sister of Anne, and mistress of Henry VIII. Mary Boleyn, 'the infamous other Boleyn girl', began her court career as began her career as the mistress of the king of France. Francois I of France would later call her 'The Great Prostitute' and the slur stuck. The bete-noir of her family, Mary was married her off to a minor courtier but it was not long before she caught the eye of Henry VIII and a new affair began. Although a bright star at Henry's court, she was soon eclipsed by her highly spirited and more accomplished sister, Anne, who rapidly took her place in the king's heart. However, the ups and d