Frederick Forsythe

English author and occasional political commentator Frederick Forsyth, CBE was born 25 August 1938.He is best known for thrillers such as The Day of the Jackal, The Odessa File, The Fourth Protocol, The Dogs of War, The Devil’s Alternative, The Fist of God, Icon, The Veteran, Avenger, The Afghan and The Cobra. The son of a furrier, Forsyth was born in Ashford, Kent. He was educated at Tonbridge School and later attended the University of Granada in Spain. Before becoming a journalist, he joined the RAF and was a jet fighter pilot. He joined Reuters in 1961 and later the BBC in 1965, where he served as an assistant diplomatic correspondent.In a BBC Documentary on the Nigerian Civil War, forsyth reported on his early activities as a journalist. His early career was spent covering French affairs and the attempted assassination of Charles De Gaulle. He had never been to what he termed “black Africa” until reporting on the Nigerian Civil War between Biafra and Nigeria as a BBC correspondent. He was there for the first six months of 1967, but few expected the war to last very long considering the poor weaponry and preparation of the Biafrans when compared to the British-armed Nigerians. After his six months were over, however, Forsyth – eager to carry on reporting – approached the BBC to ask if he could have more time there. He noted their response:”I was told quite bluntly, then, ‘it is not our policy to cover this war.’ This was a period when the Vietnam War was front-page headlines almost every day, regarded broadly as an American cock-up, and this particularly British cock-up in Nigeria was not going to be covered. I smelt news management. I don’t like news management. So I made a private vow to myself: ‘you may, gentlemen, not be covering it, but I’m going to cover it.’ So I quit and flew out there, and stayed there for most of the next two years.”He thus returned to Biafra as a freelance reporter, writing his first book The Biafra Story, in 1969.

Forsyth decided to write a novel using similar research techniques to those used in journalism. His first full length novel, The Day of the Jackal, was published in 1971. It became an international bestseller and gained its author the Edgar Allan Poe Award for Best Novel. In this book, the Organisation Armée Secrète (a real-life terrorist group) hires an assassin to kill then-French President Charles de Gaulle. It was made into a film of the same name.In Forsyth’s second full-length novel, The Odessa File (1972), a reporter attempts to track down an ex-Nazi SS officer in modern Germany. The reporter discovers him via the diary of a Jewish Holocaust survivor who committed suicide earlier, but he is being shielded by an organization that protects ex-Nazis, called ODESSA. This book was later made into a movie with the same name, starring Jon Voight, but there were substantial alterations.In The Dogs of War (1974) a British mining executive hires a group of mercenaries to overthrow the government of an African country so that he can install a puppet regime that will allow him cheap access to a colossal platinum-ore reserve. This book was also adapted to film, in 1981, starring Christopher Walken and Tom Berenger.The Shepherd was an illustrated novella published in 1975. It tells of a nightmare journey by an RAF pilot while flying home for Christmas in the late 1950s. His attempts to find a rational explanation for his eventual rescue prove as troublesome as his experience.Following this came The Devil’s Alternative in 1979, which was set in 1982. In this book, the Soviet Union faces a disastrous grain harvest. The US is ready to help for some political and military concessions. A Politburo faction fight ensues. War is proposed as solution. Ukrainian freedom fighters complicate the situation later. In the end, a Swedish oil tanker built in Japan, a Russian airliner hijacked to West Berlin and various governments find themselves involved.In 1982, No Comebacks, a collection of ten short stories, was published. Some of these stories had been written earlier. Many were set in the Republic of Ireland where Forsyth was living at the time. One of them, There Are No Snakes in Ireland, won him a second Edgar Allan Poe Award, this time for best short story.

The Fourth Protocol was published in 1984 and involves renegade elements within the Soviet Union attempting to plant a nuclear bomb near an American airbase in the UK, intending to influence the upcoming British elections and lead to the election of an anti-NATO, anti-American, anti-nuclear, pro-soviet Labour government. The Fourth Protocol was later filmed, starring Pierce Brosnan and Michael Caine, in 1987. Almost all of the political content was removed from the film.Forsyth’s tenth book came in 1989 with The Negotiator, in which the American President’s son is kidnapped and one man’s job is to negotiate his release.Two years later, in 1991, The Deceiver was published. It includes four short stories reviewing the career of British secret agent Sam McCready. At the start of the novel, the Permanent Under-Secretary of State (PUSS) of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office requires the Chief of the SIS to push Sam into early retirement. The four stories are presented to a grievance committee in an attempt to allow Sam to stay on active duty with the SIS.In 1994, Forsyth published The Fist of God, a novel which concerns the first Gulf War. Next, in 1996, he published Icon, about the rise of fascists to power in post-Soviet Russia.In 1999, Forsyth published The Phantom of Manhattan, a sequel to The Phantom of the Opera. It was intended as a departure from his usual genre; Forsyth’s explanation was that “I had done mercenaries, assassins, Nazis, murderers, terrorists, special forces soldiers, fighter pilots, you name it, and I got to think, could I actually write about the human heart?”[3] However, it did not achieve the same success as his other novels, and he subsequently returned to modern-day thrillers.In 2001, The Veteran, another collection of short stories, was published, followed by Avenger, published in September 2003, about a Canadian billionaire who hires a Vietnam veteran to bring his grandson’s killer to the US. Avenger was released as a film starring Sam Elliot and Timothy Hutton. The Afghan, published in August 2006, is an indirect sequel to The Fist of God. Set in the very near future, the threat of a catastrophic assault on the West, discovered on a senior al-Qaeda member’s computer, compels the leaders of the US and the UK to attempt a desperate gambit — to substitute a seasoned British operative, retired Col. Mike Martin (of The Fist of God), for an Afghan Taliban commander being held prisoner at Guantánamo Bay.The Cobra, published in 2010, features some of the characters previously featured in Avenger, and has as its subject an attempt to destroy the world trade in cocaine

Gene Simmons (Kiss)

imageIsraeli-born, American rock bassist, singer-songwriter, entrepreneur and actor Gene Simmons was born August 25, 1949. Known by his stage personna “The Demon,” he is the bassist/co-vocalist of Kiss, the American hard rock band he co-founded in the early 1970s. With Kiss, Simmons has sold more than 100 million albums worldwide.Formed in New York City in January 1973. Kiss rose to prominence in the mid to late 1970s on the basis of the members’ white and black face paint and flamboyant stage outfits and elaborate live performances, which featured fire breathing, blood spitting, smoking guitars, shooting rockets, The 1973–’80 original lineup of Paul Stanley (vocals and rhythm guitar), Gene Simmons (vocals and bass guitar), Ace Frehley (lead guitar) and Peter Criss (drums) is the most successful. With their makeup and costumes, they took on the personas of comic book-style characters: Starchild (Stanley), The Demon (Simmons), Spaceman or Space Ace (Frehley) and Catman (Criss) and the performances included levitating drum kits and pyrotechnics.The band explains that the fans were the ones who ultimately chose their makeup designs. Stanley became the “Starchild” because of his tendency to be referred to as the “starry-eyed lover” and “hopeless romantic”. The “Demon” makeup reflected Simmons’ cynicism and dark sense of humor, as well as his affection for comic books. Frehley’s “Spaceman” makeup was a reflection of his fondness for science fiction and supposedly being from another planet. Criss’ “Catman” makeup was in accordance with the belief that he had nine lives because of his rough childhood in Brooklyn.

Because of creative differences, both Criss and Frehley had left the group by 1982. The band’s commercial fortunes had waned considerably by that point.However Buoyed by a wave of Kiss nostalgia in the 1990s, the band announced a reunion of the original lineup in 1996. The resulting Kiss Alive/Worldwide/Reunion Tour was the top-grossing act of 1996 and 1997. Criss and Frehley have since left Kiss again, but the band continues with Eric Singer and Tommy Thayer. Stanley and Simmons have remained the only two constant members.Kiss have also been named in many “Top” lists. They include Number 10 on VH1′s ’100 Greatest Artists of Hard Rock’,9th on ‘The Greatest Metal Bands’ list by MTV, number one on Hit Paraders’s “Top 100 Live Bands”, 56th on VH1′s “100 Greatest Artists Of All Time”, and 26th on Gibson’s “50 Greatest American Rock Bands” and Counting the 1978 solo albums, Kiss has been awarded 28 gold albums to date, and have sold more than 40 million albums in the United States, of which 20 million have been certified by the RIAA and their worldwide sales exceeds 100 million albums.

Vivian Campbell (Def Leppard, Whitesnake)

defBdayVivian Campbell, Irish musician, who joined Def Leppard, following the tragic death of guitarist Steve Clark was born 25 August 1962, Formed in 1977 in Sheffield as part of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal movement.Def Leppard ’s strongest commercial success came between the early 1980s and the early 1990s. Their 1981 album High ‘n’ Dry was produced byRobert John “Mutt” Lange, who helped them begin to define their style, and the album’s stand out track “Bringin’ On the Heartbreak” became one of the first metal videos played on MTV in 1982. The band’s next studio album Pyromania in 1983, with the singles “Photograph” and Rock of Ages, turned Def Leppard into a household name. In 2004, the album ranked number 384 on Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. Def Leppard’s fourth album Hysteria, released in 1987, topped the U.S and UK album charts. As of 2009 it has 12x platinum sales in the United States, and has gone on to sell over 20 million copies worldwide. The album spawned six hit singles, including the U.S. Billboard Hot 100number one “Love Bites”, alongside Pour Some Sugar on Me , “Hysteria”,Armaggeddon It , “Animal” and Rocket“. Their next studio album Adrenalize reached number one on the U.S. Billboard 200 and UK Album Chart in 1992, and contained several hits including, “Let’s Get Rocked” and “Have You Ever Needed Someone So Bad”. Their 1993 album Retro Active contained the acoustic hit song “Two Steps Behind”, while their greatest hits album Vault released in 1995 featured track “When Love & Hate Collide”.

Prior to joining Def Leppard in April 1992 Campbell had also been a member of the bands Whitesnake, and DioWhen Campbell joined Dio, Ronnie James Dio, Vinny Appice, and former Rainbow bassist Jimmy Bain had most of the songs to the album Holy Diver already written including, “Don’t Talk To Strangers”, “Holy Diver” and “Rainbow in the Dark”. With the global search for a guitarist now concluded, this finalized the band’s first line up. The album was a success and included Dio’s biggest hit, “Rainbow in the Dark”. A concert video, called In Concert, from this tour was released. The band also played at The Monsters Of Rock festival in 1983. Dio returned to the studio to write and record the follow-up to Holy Diver. This album was called The Last in Line and charted at #23 in the US. “The Last in Line”, “We Rock” and “Mystery” all became radio hits. A concert video from this tour called A Special From The Spectrum was released. The follow Sacred Heart was also a success, and managed to peak at #29 in the U.S. It featured the hits “Rock N Roll Children” and “Hungry For Heaven”, the second of which was also included on the soundtrack to the film Vision Quest. Also around this time the band recorded the song “Hide In The Rainbow” for the Iron Eagle soundtrack, the last song Campbell would record with Dio. A live EP Intermission was also released. Craig Goldy played on the disc’s only studio song “Time to Burn” and over-dubbed the rhythm parts on the live tracks. Campbell and the band parted company in 1986 and he joined Whitesnake.Campbell was then recruited by lead singer David Coverdale to replace Ex-Thin Lizzy and Tygers of Pan Tang guitarist John Sykes in the new, glammed-up Whitesnake Coverdale had put together to conquer MTV and American audiences; other members included Adrian Vandenberg, formerly of Teaser and Vandenberg, Tommy Aldridge of Ozzy Osbourne and Black Oak Arkansas fame, and Rudy Sarzo, who had become hugely successful playing with Ozzy Osbourne and Quiet Riot. Campbell left Whitesnake after the band’s 1987-1988 world tour.

Tribute to Sir Richard Attenborough, Baron Attenborough CBE

The Actor, Producer, Director and entrepreneur Richard Samuel Attenborough, Baron Attenborough, CBE sadly passed away August 25 2014. born 29 August 1923, Richard was the elder brother of David Attenborough, the naturalist and broadcaster, and the late John Attenborough, who was an executive at Alfa Romeo before his death in 2012.

Attenborough’s acting career started on stage and he appeared in shows at Leicester’sLittle Theatre, Dover Street, prior to him going to RADA, where he is still Patron. Attenborough’s film career began in 1942 in an uncredited role as a deserting sailor in theNoël Coward/David Lean production In Which We Serve (his name and character were accidentally omitted from the original release-print credits), a role which would help to type-cast him for many years as spivs or cowards in films like London Belongs to Me(1948), Morning Departure (1950) and his breakthrough role as a psychopathic young gangster in the film of Graham Greene’s novel Brighton Rock (1947), a part that he had previously played to great acclaim at the Garrick Theatre in 1942. In 1949 exhibitors voted him the 6th most popular British actor at the box office. Early in his stage career, Attenborough starred in the West End production of Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap, which went on to become the world’s longest-running stage production. Both he and his wife were among the original cast members of the production, which openedin 1952 at the Ambassadors Theatre and as of 2012 is still running at the St Martins Theatre. They took a 10% profit-participation in the production, which was paid for out of their combined weekly salary (“It proved to be the wisest business decision I’ve ever made…

Attenborough worked prolifically in British films for the next thirty years, including roles in The Great Escape as RAF Squadron Leader Roger Bartlett (“Big X”), the head of the escape committee and based on the real life exploits of Roger Bushell. It was his first appearance in a major Hollywood film blockbuster and his most successful film up to that time. During the 1960s, he expande his range of character roles in films such as Séance on a Wet Afternoon (1964) and Guns at Batasi (1964), for which he won the BAFTA Award for Best Actor for his portrayal of the Regimental Sergeant Major (RSM). In 1965 he played Lew Moran opposite James Stewart in The Flight of the Phoenix and in 1967 and 1968, he won back-to-back Golden Globe Awards in the category of Best Supporting Actor, the first time for The Sand Pebbles, again co-starringSteve McQueen and the second time for Doctor Dolittle starring Rex Harrison.His portrayal of the serial killer John Christie in 10 Rillington Place (1971) garnered excellent reviews and in 1977 he played the ruthlessGeneral Outram, again to great acclaim, in the Indian director Satyajit Ray’s period piece The Chess Players.He took no acting roles following his appearance in Otto Preminger’s version of The Human Factor (1979) until his appearance as the eccentric developer John Hammond in Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park (1993) and the popular film’s sequel, The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997). He starred in the remake of Miracle on 34th Street (1994) as Kris Kringle

In the late 1950s, Attenborough formed a production company, Beaver Films, with Bryan Forbes and worked as producer on projects including The League of Gentlemen (1959), The Angry Silence (1960) and Whistle Down the Wind (1961), also appearing in the first two of these as an actor.His feature film directorial debut was the all-star screen version of the hit musical Oh! What a Lovely War (1969) and his acting appearances became sporadic as he concentrated more on directing and producing. He later directed two epic period films: Young Winston (1972), based on the early life of Winston Churchill and A Bridge Too Far (1977), an all-star account of Operation Market Garden in World War II. He won the 1982 Academy Award for Best Director and as the film’s producer, the Academy Award for Best Picture for his historical epic, Gandhi and another Golden Globe, this time as Best Director, for the same film in 1983, a project he had been attempting to get made for 18 years. Attenborough also directed the screen version of the musical A Chorus Line (1985) and the anti-apartheid drama Cry Freedom (1987), based on the life and death of the prominent anti-apartheid activist Steve Biko and the experiences of Donald Woods. He was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Director for both films.His most recent films as director and producer include Chaplin (1992) starring Robert Downey, Jr., as Charlie Chaplin and Shadowlands(1993), based on the relationship between C. S. Lewis and Joy Gresham, (the star of the latter was Anthony Hopkins, who had appeared in four previous films for Attenborough: Young Winston, A Bridge Too Far, Magic and Chaplin.

From the late 90’s he made occasional appearances in supporting roles, including as Sir William Cecil in the historical drama Elizabeth (1998), Jacob in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and as “The Narrator” in the film adaptation of Spike Milligan’s comedy book Puckoon (2002). He made his only appearance in a Shakespeare film when he played the British ambassador who announces that Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are dead at the end of Kenneth Branagh’s Hamlet (1996). Between 2006 and 2007 Attenborough spent time in Belfast, Northern Ireland, working on his last film as director and producer, Closing the Ring, a love story set in Belfast during the Second World War and starring Shirley MacLaine, Christopher Plummer and the late great Pete Postlethwaitte.He is also he former President of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA).As a film director and producer and has won two Academy Awards for Gandhi in 1983. He has also won four BAFTA Awards and three Golden Globe Awards. As an actor he is perhaps best known for his roles in Brighton Rock, The Great Escape, 10 Rillington Place, Miracle on 34th Street and Jurassic Park.

After 33 years of dedicated service as President of the Muscular Dystrophy campaign, Attenborough became the charity’s Honorary Life President in 2004. In 2012 the charity, which leads the fight against muscle-wasting conditions in the UK, established the Richard Attenborough Fellowship Fund to honour his lifelong commitment to the charity, and to ensure the future of clinical research and training at leading UK neuromuscular centres.Attenborough is also the patron of the United World Colleges movement, whereby he contributed to the colleges that are part of the organisation. He was a frequent visitor to the United World College of Southern Africa (UWCSA) Waterford Kamhlaba. With his wife, they founded the Richard and Sheila Attenborough Visual Arts Centre. He also founded the Jane Holland Creative Centre for Learning at Waterford Kamhlaba in Swaziland in memory of his daughter who died in the tsunami on 26 December 2004. He passionately believes in education, primarily education that does not judge upon colour, race, creed or religion. Waterford was one of his inspirations for directing the Cry Freedom motion picture based on the life of Steve Biko.He was elected to the post of Chancellor of the University of Sussex on 20 March 1998, replacing The Duke of Richmond and Gordon. He stood down as Chancellor of the university following Graduation in July 2008. He was also a lifelong supporter of Chelsea Football Club, And served as a director of the club from 1969–1982 and between 1993 and 2008 held the honorary position of Life Vice President. On 30 November 2008 he was honoured with the title of Life President at the club’s stadium, Stamford Bridge. He was also head of the consortium Dragon International Film Studios, which was constructing a film and television studio complex in Llanilid, Wales, nicknamed “Valleywood”.

He was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE). He was made a Knight Bachelor in 1976 and in 1993 he was made a life peer as Baron Attenborough, of Richmond upon Thames in the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames. Although the appointment by John Major was ‘non-political’ (it was granted for services to the cinema) and he would have been a crossbencher, Attenborough chose to accept the Labour whip and so sits on the Labour benches. In 1992 he had been offered a Peerage by Neil Kinnock, then head of the Labour Party, but refused it as he felt unable to commit to the time necessary “to do what was required of him in the Upper Chamber, as he always put film-making first”. In 1983, Attenborough was awarded the Padma Bhushan, India’s third highest civilian award, and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Nonviolence Peace Prize by the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change. In 1992 he was awarded the Shakespeare Prize for his life’s work by the Alfred Toepfer Foundation in Hamburg.On 13 July 2006, Attenborough, along with his brother David, were awarded the titles of Distinguished Honorary Fellows of theUniversity of Leicester “in recognition of a record of continuing distinguished service to the university” on 20 November 2008, Attenborough was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Drama from the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama (RSAMD) in Glasgow.Attenborough is also an Honorary Fellow of Bangor University for his contributions to film making.Pinewood Studios paid tribute to his body of work by naming a purpose-built film and television stage after him. The Richard Attenborough Stage has an area of 30,000 sq ft. In his absence due to illness, Lord Puttnam and Pinewood Chairman Lord Grade officially unveiled the stage on 23 April 2012.