The Mother of All Mothers

She “wanted it to be a holy day, a day of sentiment, not profit,”  dismissing greeting cards as “a poor excuse for the letter you are too lazy to write.”

First celebrated in 1908, when Anna Jarvis held a memorial for her own mother in Grafton, West Virginia, the celebration of Mother’s Day quickly became a movement. Jarvis chose a Sunday because she wanted it to be a “holy” day, not a holiday, and the second Sunday in May because it was the anniversary of her mother’s death.

Photograph Bettmann/Corbis ~Anna Jarvis c 1914 ~ Colourised by Loredana Crupi

Jarvis had campaigned for almost a decade to have a day set aside to honour all mothers. and in 1914, U.S. President Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation calling for the observance of Mother’s Day. Other quickly countries soon followed suit,

Jarvis trademarked the phrases “second Sunday in May” and “Mother’s Day,” and created the Mother’s Day International Association. She was specific about the location of the apostrophe; it was to be a singular possessive, for each family to honour their mother, not a plural possessive commemorating all mothers in the world.

The mass commercialization of the day that followed was not part of Jarvis’s vision for the day. Greeting card companies and florists seized upon the glaring opportunity. The ‘holy day’ quickly became a retailing and marketing bonanza!

Jarvis was disheartened at the misinterpretation and exploitation of the day that she protested and even tried to rescind Mother’s Day. Her goal was to continue and honour the work of her mother, a peace activist and social worker, who as early as the 1850s, held ‘Mother’s Day’ work clubs to improve sanitary conditions and worked to lower the infant mortality rate by fighting disease and curbing milk contamination.  Jarvis’s also mother cared for wounded soldiers on both sides of the Civil War.

Whilst the symbol of the white carnation became entrenched in the celebrations across America, the flower traditionally given to mothers on this day in Australia is the humble chrysanthemum, as it is naturally in season during May (autumn in Australia) and some say because the name ends in “mum”, a common affectionate shortening of “mother”!

Jarvis spent her considerable inheritance and the rest of her life fighting the commercialization of “her” holiday but it was a losing battle.

Anna Jarvis died in 1948, at the age of 84, bitter, with dementia and completely penniless in a Philadelphia’s Marshall Square Sanitarium.

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Today I leave you with this wonderful tribute to Mother’s Day performed by a very young Ricky Martin and a not so old Luciano Pavarotti.

Enjoy and Happy Mother’s Day!

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“A printed card means nothing except that you are too lazy to write to the woman who has done more for you than anyone in the world. And candy! You take a box to Mother—and then eat most of it yourself. A pretty sentiment.”

—Anna Jarvis

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Gary Cooper ~ Style Icon

Day 365 of Colourisation Project – May 7

Challenge: to publish daily a colourised photo that has some significance around the day of publication.

Dressed up like a million-dollar trouper
Tryin’ hard to look like Gary Cooper, Super duper

                           —“Puttin’ on the Ritz,” Irving Berlin

Ralph Lauren, called him the “definitive” male style icon of the 1940s with “an ideal American look—unstudied yet refined, natural, and playful.”

Men’s fashion writer Bruce Boyer wrote that he had “his own debonair style that combined a perfectly tailored European wardrobe with all-American casual sportswear to produce the first, and still finest example of elegant, international, masculine style rooted in an American ideal of the everyman as hero.”

Gary Cooper

Photographer: Edward Steichen ~ Gary Cooper ~ Coloured by Loredana Crupi

They were talking about today’s colorisation subject, Hollywood leading actor, Gary Cooper, who looked great in whatever he was wearing. A timeless fashion icon with impeccable taste, he even brought a touch of style and glamour to American westerns.

Born on this day, May 7, 1901, Cooper was a major American film actor whose career spanned thirty-six years ranging from the silent movie era to the close of Hollywood’s classical golden age and from black and white to colour.

By box office figures, Cooper was the most popular male film star of the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s and was ranked eleventh by the American Film Institute (AFI) on its list of the fifty greatest male screen legends. His understated acting style saw him receive five Academy Award nominations for Best Actor, winning twice, for Sergeant York (1941) and High Noon (1952). He also received an Academy Honorary Award for his career achievements in 1961.

Cooper appeared in over 100 movies, (20 of them being westerns) including classics such as A Farewell to Arms (1932), Sergeant York (1941),  The Pride of the Yankees (1943), For Whom the Bell Tolls (1944), The Fountainhead (1949), Love in the Afternoon (1957) and The Hanging Tree (1959).

Towards the end of his life Cooper was plagued with illness including prostate cancer. Within months the cancer had spread. This was announced to the world by his good friend, James Stewart at the Academy Awards when he accepted Cooper’s Academy Honorary Award on his behalf, as he was too sick to attend.  As Cooper lay dying of cancer, Pope John XXIII and Queen Elizabeth II sent get-well messages while President John F. Kennedy called him directly.

Gary Cooper eventually succumbed to lung cancer on May 13, 1961, six days after his 60th birthday. For fans still reeling from the death of Clark Gable six months earlier, it seemed that the curtain had come down on Hollywood’s Golden Era.

Cooper has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6243 Hollywood Boulevard for his contribution to the film industry.

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“This is a terrible place to spend your life in. Nobody in Hollywood is normal. Absolutely nobody. And they have such a vicious attitude toward one another … They say much worse things about each other than outsiders say about them, and nobody has any real friends.”  –Gary Cooper

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Rudolph Valentino ~ Archetypal Latin Lover

Day 364 of Colourisation Project – May 6

Challenge: to publish daily a colourised photo that has some significance around the day of publication.

His birth name was Rodolfo Alfonso Raffaello Pierre Filibert Guglielmi di Valentina d’Antonguolla. 

Born this day, May 6, 1895, the Italian-born, American actor, better known as Rudolph Valentino, the quintessential Latin lover, the Ricky Martin of Hollywood’s silent movie era, was Hollywood’s first male sex symbol.

Rudolph Valentino

Photographer: Edward Steichen ~ Rudolph Valentino 1926 ~ Coloured by Loredana Crupi

In his brief career, he starred in over 30 silent films, including the ever popular The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (1921), The Sheik  (1921), Blood and Sand (1922), The Eagle (1925), and The Son of the Sheik (1926); films which firmly established his reputation as the archetypal latin screen lover.

A deeply exotic and alluring man, he was responsible for bringing the Argentine Tango to America, first performing it in on the big screen in 1921 and later in a successful American national dance tour with his second wife, Natacha Rambova, who, like Valentino himself, was once a professional dancer.

From the moment he danced that tango in The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (1921), one of the highest-grossing films of the silent era, a mania seemed to grow around him. Women reportedly fainted when they saw him in his next picture The Sheik (1921), a desert romance in which a Bedouin chief wins the heart of a cultured, English woman and again in Blood and Sand (1922), where as the bullfighter Juan Gallardo, he falls under the spell of a charming seductress.

Rumours have persisted since the 1920s about Valentino’s sexuality. However no evidence has surfaced to suggest he was anything other than heterosexual and any claims to the contrary have so far been disproved. Valentino fought a constant battle against innuendo about his masculinity. A few months before his death, an editorial in the Chicago Tribune attacked his masculinity, referring to him as a “pink powder puff”, accusing him of “effeminisation of the American male”. (What were they afraid of?)

An infuriated Valentino responded with a challenge to a boxing match, writing,

“You slur my Italian ancestry; you ridicule upon my Italian name; you cast doubt upon my manhood. It’s so unfair. They can say I’m a terrible actor if they like, but it’s cowardly and low to hold me up as a laughing stock and make fun of my personal tastes and my private life,”

Valentino struggled with the public and media perceptions of him, telling a Herald Examiner reporter,

“This man calls me a ‘spaghetti-gargling gardener’s helper.’… As for being a gardener’s helper, I specialized in college in landscape gardening because in Italy, that is as fine an art as architecture or painting.”

A lawsuit was pending, when Valentino was suddenly taken ill, whilst on a promotional tour for The Son of the Sheik (1926).

Rudolph Valentino died on August 23, 1926, at the age of 31, from a ruptured ulcer and peritonitis.  With mass hysteria engulfing his fans, Valentino was given a grand send-off. For three days, thousands crowded the funeral home to view his body and say their good-byes.  Over 100,000 mourners caused a near riot at his funeral in New York. A funeral was also held in California.

In 1960 Valentino was posthumously awarded a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6164 Hollywood Boulevard.

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“Women are not in love with me but with the picture of me on the screen. I am merely the canvas upon which the women paint their dreams.”  –Rudolph Valentino

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Violet Jessop ~ Miss Unsinkable

Day 363 of Colourisation Project – May 5

Challenge: to publish daily a colourised photo that has some significance around the day of publication.

Lucky or unlucky? Either way she lived to tell the story through her compelling memoirs titled, Titanic Survivor: The Memoirs of a Stewardess.

Violet Jessop

Photographer Unknown ~ Violet Jessop ~ c1915 ~ Colourised by Loredana Crupi

Having overcome life threatening tuberculosis at an early age, Violet Constance Jessop survived the sinking of not one but two ships, the RMS Titanic in 1912 and her sister ship, the HMHS Britannic in 1916. And that was after surviving a major incident on board the luxury liner RMS Olympic, which collided with the protected cruiser HMS Hawke, off the Isle of Wight in 1911.

Not surprisingly she earned the nickname, ‘Miss Unsinkable.’

Born in Argentina to Irish immigrants in 1887, Jessop was an ocean liner stewardess and nurse who despite her misfortunes, spent her entire career at sea and went on to live a long and healthy life.

Her memoirs give an eye witness account of the night in 1912, the RMS Titanic  struck an iceberg in the North Atlantic, and how over the next two hours the ‘unsinkable’ ship broke in two and sank. Over 1500 lives were lost that night.

During the First World War, Jessop was serving as a stewardess for the British Red Cross on board His Majesty’s Hospital Ship Britannic, when the ship apparently struck a sea mine and quickly sank in the Aegean Sea off the Greek island of Kea, with the loss of 30 lives.

While the Britannic was going down, Jessop jumped out of a lifeboat to avoid being sucked into the Britannic′s propellers and was sucked under the water striking her head on the keel of a lifeboat before surfacing and being rescued.

Undeterred from her chosen career path, and as ships were becoming a popular form of transport, she continued working as a stewardess, cruising the world several times. After some forty-two years at sea, Jessop retired in 1950 to a quiet country existence in a sixteenth-century thatched cottage in Great Ashfield, Suffolk, England.

Violet Jessop died of heart failure on this day, 5 May 1971 at the age of 84.

Written in 1934, her memoirs were published posthumously in 1997.

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”I leapt into the water but was sucked under the ship’s keel which struck my head. I escaped, but years later when I went to my doctor because of a lot of headaches, he discovered I had once sustained a fracture of the skull!”   Violet Jessop –Titanic Survivor: The Memoirs of a Stewardess.

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Alice Liddell’s Age of Innocence

Day 362 of Colourisation Project – May 4

Challenge: to publish daily a colourised photo that has some significance around the day of publication.

As popular today as it ever was, Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland was first published in 1865 and has remained in print ever since.

The inspiration for this masterpiece of children’s literature and its sequel, Through the Looking Glass, was six year old, Alice Liddell, the daughter of the dean of Christ Church, Oxford.

Today’s photo of Alice Liddell, captured by Carroll himself, has been the subject of much controversy over the years, more so in recent times, than when it was first taken 157 years ago! Born this day, 4 May 1852, Alice Liddell, was his favourite muse.

Alice Liddell

Photo: Lewis Carroll ~ Alice Liddell as a Beggar Maid 1858 ~ Coloured by Loredana Crupi

Known primarily as the author of children’s books, Lewis Carroll (real name – Charles Lutwidge Dodgson) was also a lecturer in mathematics at Oxford University and an ordained Anglican deacon.

What is not so well known is that Carroll was also an early photography enthusiast. In fact at one time, Carroll was one of the best amateur photographers of his time, exhibiting and selling prints for a period of twenty-five years.  Carroll was almost as famous for his portrait photography as he was for his writing.

Carroll amassed a portfolio of approximately 3,000 photo­graphs, half of which were of children—30 of whom are depicted nude or semi-nude. Although they might shock modern day sensibilities, they were by Victorian standards rather conventional. No one at the time seemed bothered by the depiction of children this way, least of all their parents. Such indifference can be seen as either an indictment on 19th century Victorian society or as an indictment on 21st century values. Remember the furore generated by Bill Henson’s child nudes in 2008?

Fanning the flames, Russian author Vladimir Nabokov, who translated the first Russian version of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, referred to him as “Lewis Carroll Carroll,” in a 1966 interview for Vogue magazine; –a reference to his fictional character, Humbert Humbert from his own controversial novel about an old man’s obsession with a young child, Lolita.

Without delving into Carroll’s apparent fixation on photographing prepubescent girls, 19th century attitudes toward children were very different to today’s. It is important to note that photographs of nude children such as those of Carroll’s contemporary, Julia Margaret Cameron, who also photographed Liddell, were praised as examples of fine art and tastefully executed by many Victorian artists as was the trend of the time.

Much has been made of today’s photo, to the point of over analysis. Her provocative pose, its erotic nature, her bare shoulder, exposed left nipple, and so on….things you probably wouldn’t have noticed until I just mentioned them.

The Victorian slant on nude imagery was that they constituted pictures of innocence itself. Seen through the prurient lens of modern day observers, Carroll’s fascination with children’s physical beauty has often been interpreted as predatory and sexually perverse but there is no hard evidence to suggest that Carroll was so inclined.

Titled The Beggar Maid, the image was most likely inspired by Carroll’s favorite poet, Lord Alfred Tennyson’s, who wrote a poem of the same name.

The wet collodion process had just overtaken the daguerreotype as the primary means of photographic image-making, and was Carroll’s preferred method. It was a tedious process, more so for the subject, who had to hold perfectly still for up to 40 seconds, the minimum time required for a decent exposure without blur. In today’s photo, six year old Alice Liddell managed to do that remarkably well; holding the same expression – not an easy thing to do. This would explain her piercing (non-sexual) look at the viewer.

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Lewis Carroll died of pneumonia at his sisters’ home in Guildford, England on 14 January 1898. Two weeks after his death, local clergyman, Dean Paget summarized Carroll’s gifts in his sermon thus:

“The brilliant, venturesome imagination, defying forecast with ever fresh surprise; the sense of humour in its finest and most naive form; the power to touch with lightest hand the undercurrent of pathos in the midst of fun; the audacity of creative fancy, and the delicacy of insight—these are rare gifts; and surely they were his.”

Whilst these gifts are Lewis Carroll’s enduring legacy to children’s literature, so too are the  one thousand or so photos that have survived the passage of time, his legacy to photography.

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“I always feel specially grateful to friends who, like you, have given me a child-friendship and a woman-friendship, too. About nine out of 10, I think, of my child-friendships get shipwrecked at the critical point ‘where the stream and river meet’, and the child-friends, once so affectionate, become uninteresting acquaintances.”     –Lewis Carroll in a letter to Isabel Julia Standen

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In Flanders Fields ~ We are the Dead

Day 361 of Colourisation Project – May 3

Challenge: to publish daily a colourised photo that has some significance around the day of publication.

Inspired by the death of his friend in combat, Canadian Officer, Major John McCrae composed one of the most famous poems to come out of world war 1 –In Flanders Fields.

John McCrae c1914

Photo: W. Notman & Son – Guelph Museums ~ John McCrae c1914 ~ Colourised by Loredana Crupi

At 42 years of age, McCrae was older than most WWI volunteers when he enlisted. In 1915 he was given the rank of Major and appointed brigade-surgeon to the First Brigade of the Canadian Forces Artillery stationed at Ypres, Belgium. As a doctor, who served in both the Boer War and the First World War, John McCrae had tended to gravely wounded soldiers and witnessed the deaths of countless men in battle. But it was on this day, 3rd May 1915 one hundred years ago, after having officiated at the funeral of his friend, Lieutenant Alexis Helmer, who lost his life in the Second Battle of Ypres, that McCrae penned the words to In Flanders Fields.

Helmer was buried in a makeshift grave with a simple wooden cross in the field of Flanders, where the wild poppies were beginning to bloom between all the other crosses marking the many graves of fallen soldiers. (The damage done to the Flanders landscape during battle greatly increased the lime content in the soil, enabling the poppy to flourish in the region.)

Written from the point of view of the dead, and early in the conflict before the romanticism of war turned to bitterness and disillusionment for soldiers and civilians alike, McCrae’s evocative poem gives the fallen soldiers the voice to urge those living to take up the torch.

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

In Flanders Fields was first published in England’s Punch magazine in December 1915.  Before long it came to symbolise the sacrifices of all soldiers fighting in the First World War. Today, the poem continues to be a part of Remembrance Day ceremonies in Canada, Australia, the UK and other countries throughout the world, while the poppy has become the world’s most powerful and recognized memorial symbol for soldiers who have died in battle.

John McCrae went on to earn the rank of Lieutenant Colonel and though disillusioned by the war, McCrae found respite in writing letters and poetry. However, within 3 years of writing his famous poem McCrae would be dead, not of enemy fire but from pneumonia and meningitis developed while on duty.

John McCrae died on January 28, 1918. He was buried with full military honors in the cemetery in Wimereux, France  He was only 45 years old.

Posted in Canada, Colorization, Colourisation, France, History, Opus Loredana, Photography, Poetry, World War 1 | Tagged , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Mad-Hatter Hedda Hopper

Day 360 of Colourisation Project – May 2

Challenge: to publish daily a colourised photo that has some significance around the day of publication.

Let’s face it, Hollywood would be bland without its gossip columnists. There have been many; Perez Hilton, Sheilah Graham, Walter Winchell, Louella Parsons and then perhaps the most formidable gossip maven of them all, Hedda Hopper. Her ascerbic wit and vicious tongue made her one of Hollywood’s most feared characters. Hopper would mockingly refer to her Beverly Hills mansion acquired from her income as a columnist,  as “the house that fear built.”

Looking at today’s picture you’d think butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth, but she could “make or break” Hollywood careers with her popular column.

Hedda Hopper

Publicity Photo  ~  Hedda Hopper  1930  – Coloured by Loredana Crupi

Love her or hate her, Hopper had a profound and lasting influence on popular and political culture during Hollywood’s Golden Age. Not only was she the voice of small-town America, she was also the voice of political conservativism.  An anti-semite and a strong supporter of the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC), she outed and destroyed the reputations of many actors suspected of having communist sympathies during the infamous “blacklisting” of the 1950’s McCarthy era.

Born this day, May 2, 1885, Hedda Hopper began her career in Hollywood as a chorus girl on Broadway before breaking into silent movies in 1916. Over the next three decades she appeared in over 100 films. It wasn’t until 1938 that she began her gossip column, Hedda Hopper’s Hollywood for the Los Angeles Times. Most of the time it was nothing short of incendiary.

Just as famous for her trademark flamboyant hats (she reportedly bought about 150 new hats a year) and long-running feud with her friend-turned-rival, Louella Parsons, also a notorious gossip columnist, Hopper wrote two best sellers: From Under My Hat (1952) and The Whole Truth and Nothing But (1963).

She continued to write gossip up until her death from double pneumonia in 1966 at the age of 80.

For her contribution to the motion picture industry, Hopper has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6313½ Hollywood Boulevard _____________________________________________________________

“At one time I thought he wanted to be an actor. He had certain qualifications, including no money and a total lack of responsibility.”     –Hedda Hopper

Posted in Colorization, Colourisation, Film, Hollywood, Photography, USA, Women, Women in Film & TV, Women writers | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment