Wonderful Wizard ofOz by L.Frank Baum

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L.Frank Baum was published 17 May 1900 with illustratoins by W. W. Denslow. The story chronicles the adventures of a young farm girl named Dorothy in the magical Land of Oz, after she and her pet dog Toto are swept away from their Kansas home by a cyclone and find themselves into Munchkin Country in the magical Land of Oz. The falling house lands on the Wicked Witch of the East, the evil ruler of the Munchkins. The Good Witch of the North arrives with three grateful Munchkins and gives Dorothy the magical silver shoes that once belonged to the Wicked Witch. The Good Witch tells Dorothy that the only way she can return home is to follow the yellow brick road to the Emerald City and ask the great and powerful Wizard of Oz to help her. 

Along the way Dorothy meets a Scarecrow, A tin woodsman and a Cowardly lion and they all journey to the Emerald  City to ask for help from the Wizard. However Along the way they are terrorised by the Wicked Witch of the West who continually tries to stop them reaching the Emerald City and steal the silver shoes. Upon reaching the EMerald city The wizard agrees to help them provided that they deal with the Wicked Witch of the West, Then Dorothy and her friends discover that the Wizard of Oz is not what he seems.

Along the way The Wicked Witch of the West again terrorises them and they face an assortment of hazards including the Winkies and the Flying Monkeys. However the Tin Woodman, Cowardly Lion and Scarecrow prove to be surprisingly resourceful. The Wicked Witch of the West then tries to trick Dorothy into giving her the silver shoes. Eventually  the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodman and the Cowardly Lion are then given what they came for by the Wizard of Oz who then tries to help Dorothy and Toto get home, however this doesn’t go to plan, then the soldier with the green whiskers suggests that she consult Glinda the good witch of the south who lives in Quadling county so Dorothy Toto and the Cowardly journey to The Good Witches castle in Quadling county. Along the way the Cowardly Lion proves himself and Dorothy learns something interesting about the Silver shoes

The Wizard of Oz became the best-selling children’s book for two years after its initial publication. Baum went on to write thirteen more novels based on the places and people of the Land of Oz.Two years after Wizard’s publication, Baum and Denslow teamed up with composer Paul Tietjens and director Julian Mitchell to produce a musical stage version of the book under Fred R. Hamlin, which, opened in Chicago in 1902, then ran on Broadway for 293 stage nights from January to October 1903. It returned to Broadway in 1904, where it played from March to May and again from November to December. It successfully toured the United States with much of the same cast, until 1911, it differed considerably from the book, and was aimed primarily at adults.Baum then wrote a sequel, The Woggle-Bug, however the Scarecrow and Tin Woodman were omitted from this adaptation. He later worked on a musical version of Ozma of Oz, which eventually became The Tik-Tok Man Of Oz. This did fairly well in Los Angeles, and also began a stage version of The Patchwork Girl of Oz.

The Oz series was continued long after his death by other authors, notably Ruth Plumly Thompson, who wrote an additional nineteen Oz books. His other works also remained popular after his death, with The Master Key appearing on St. Nicholas Magazine’s survey of readers’ favorite books well into the 1920s. His novels also predicted such century-later commonplaces as television, laptop computers (The Master Key), wireless telephones (Tik-Tok of Oz), women in high risk, action-heavy occupations (Mary Louise in the Country), and the ubiquity of advertising on clothing (Aunt Jane’s Nieces at Work), and the Wonderful Wizard of Oz series of books remains popular to this day.

L. Frank Baum

Best known for writing “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz”, the prolific American author Lyman “L.” Frank Baum was born on May 15, 1856 in Chittenango, New York, in 1856, and grew up on his parents’ expansive estate, Rose Lawn. AS a young child, he was tutored at home with his siblings, but at the age of 12, he was sent to study at Peekskill Military Academy, and after two utterly miserable years he was allowed to return home. Baum started writing at an early age and His father bought him a cheap printing press; which, with the help of his younger brother Henry (Harry) Clay Baum, he used to produce The Rose Lawn Home Journal. The brothers published several issues of the journal.

Baum also published amateur journals called, The Stamp Collector, and Baum’s Complete Stamp Dealers Directory, and started a stamp dealership with friends. At the age of 20, Baum started breeding fancy poultry, and specialized in raising a particular breed of fowl, the Hamburg. In March 1880 he established a monthly trade journal, The Poultry Record, and in 1886, he published his first book: The Book of the Hamburgs: A Brief Treatise upon the Mating, Rearing, and Management of the Different Varieties of Hamburgs.

Baum, then became interested in theatre, performing under the stage names of Louis F. Baum and George Brooks. In 1880, his father built him a theatre in Richburg, New York, and he set about writing plays and gathering a company to act in them. The Maid of Arran, a melodrama with songs based on William Black’s novel A Princess of Thule, proved a modest success. Baum not only wrote the play but composed songs for it and also acted in the leading role. His aunt was also the founder of Syracuse Oratory School, and Baum advertised his services in her catalog to teach theatre, including stage business, playwriting, directing, and translating, revision, and operettas.

In 1882, Baum married Maud Gage, and in 1888 they moved to Aberdeen, Dakota, where he opened a store, “Baum’s Bazaar” and later editing a local newspaper, The Aberdeen Saturday Pioneer, where he wrote a column, “Our Landlady”. Baum’s description of Kansas in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is based on his experiences in drought-ridden South Dakota. After Baum’s newspaper failed in 1891, he, Maud and their four sons moved to Humboldt Park, Chicago, where Baum took a job reporting for the Evening Post. In 1897 he wrote and published Mother Goose in Prose, a collection of Mother Goose rhymes written as prose stories, which was illustrated by Maxfield Parrish. This was followed in 1899 when Baum partnered with illustrator W. W. Denslow, to publish Father Goose, which was a collection of nonsense poetry, which became the best-selling children’s book of the year.

In 1900, Baum and Denslow published The Wonderful Wizard of Oz to much critical acclaim and financial success, and this became the besselling children’s book for two years after its initial publication. Baum went on to write thirteen more novels based on the places and people of the Land of Oz.Two years after Wizard’s publication, Baum and Denslow teamed up with composer Paul Tietjens and director Julian Mitchell to produce a musical stage version of the book under Fred R. Hamlin, which, opened in Chicago in 1902, then ran on Broadway for 293 stage nights from January to October 1903. It returned to Broadway in 1904, where it played from March to May and again from November to December. It successfully toured the United States with much of the same cast, until 1911, it differed considerably from the book, and was aimed primarily at adults.

Encouraged by this success Baum then wrote a sequel, The Woggle-Bug, however the Scarecrow and Tin Woodman were omitted from this adaptation. He later worked on a musical version of Ozma of Oz, which eventually became The Tik-Tok Man Of Oz. This did fairly well in Los Angeles, and also began a stage version of The Patchwork Girl of Oz. Baum also wrote several plays for various celebrations. and In 1914, after moving to Hollywood, Baum started his own film production company, The Oz Film Manufacturing Company. Many times during the development of the Oz series, Baum declared that he had written his last Oz book and devoted himself to other works of fantasy fiction based in other magical lands, However, persuaded by popular demand, letters from children, and the failure of his new books, he returned to the series each time.

Sadly L Frank Baum passed away on May 6th 1919 after having a stroke, nine days short of his 63rd birthday. He was buried in Glendale’s Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery. His final Oz book, Glinda of Oz, was published on July 10, 1920, a year after his death. The Oz series was continued long after his death by other authors, notably Ruth Plumly Thompson, who wrote an additional nineteen Oz books. his other works also remained popular after his death, with The Master Key appearing on St. Nicholas Magazine’s survey of readers’ favorite books well into the 1920s. the Wonderful Wizard of Oz series of books remains popular to this day and his novels have been adapted for screen numerous times, the most famous being the 1939 version starring Judy Garland as Dorothy Gale which is a perennial Favourite on television during holidays. His novels also predicted such century-later commonplaces as television, laptop computers (The Master Key), wireless telephones (Tik-Tok of Oz), women in high risk, action-heavy occupations (Mary Louise in the Country), and the ubiquity of advertising on clothing (Aunt Jane’s Nieces at Work),

George Lucas

American Producer screenwriter, director and Entreprenuer George Lucas was born May 14th 1944 in Modesto California. He is best known as the creator of the space opera franchise Star Wars and the archaeologist-adventurer character Indiana Jones and is one of the American film industry’s most financially successful directors/producers.Lucas grew up in Modesto and his early passion for cars and motor racing would eventually serve as inspiration for his USC student film 1:42.08, as well as his Oscar-nominated low-budget phenomenon, American Graffiti. Lucas originally wanted to be a race-car driver. However, a near-fatal accident on June 12, 1962, changed his mind and he attended Modesto Junior College instead and got accepted into a junior college where he developed a passion for cinematography and camera tricks.After George Lucas graduated from USC in California he met an experimental filmmaker who toured local coffee houses and screened the work of underground, avant-garde 16 mm filmmakers. Lucas regularly went to San Francisco to hang out in jazz clubs and find news of these screenings. Already a promising photographer, Lucas became infatuated with these abstract films and transferred to the University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts. where he became very good friends with fellow acclaimed student filmmaker and future Indiana Jones collaborator, Steven Spielberg. Lucas was also deeply influenced by the Filmic Expression course taught at the school & saw many great films, which inspired him to make many 16 mm nonstory noncharacter visual tone poems and cinéma vérité concentrating on camerawork and editing, defining himself as a filmmaker as opposed to being a director.

After graduating with a bachelor of fine arts in film, Lucas re-enrolled as a USC graduate student in film production. and directed the short film Electronic Labyrinth: THX 1138 4EB, which won first prize at the 1967–68 National Student Film Festival, and was later adapted into his first full-length feature film, THX 1138. Lucas was also awarded a student scholarship by Warner Brothers.Aside from the nine short films he made in the 1960s, he also directed six major features. His work from 1971 and 1977 as a writer-director, which established him as a major figure in Hollywood, and consists of just three films: THX 1138, American Graffiti, and Star Wars. Lucas acted as a writer and executive producer on another successful Hollywood film franchise, the Indiana Jones series.

In addition, he established his own effects company, Industrial Light and Magic (ILM), to make the original Star Wars film. Lucas also co-founded the studio American Zoetrope with Francis Ford Coppola—whom he met at Warner Brothers, and then created his own company, Lucasfilm, Ltd. His new-found wealth and reputation enabled him to develop a story set in space – Star Wars, which quickly became the highest-grossing film of all-time, displaced five years later by Spielberg’s E.T.the Extra-Terrestrial. Due to the overwhelming success of Star Wars George was able to finance the sequel “Empire Strikes Back” himself. Since Star Wars, Lucas has worked extensively as a writer and/or producer, on the many Star Wars spinoffs made for film, TV, and other media, and was also executive producer for the next two Star Wars films as well as as executive producer and story writer on all four of the Indiana Jones films.

For the 20th anniversary of Star Wars, Lucas was able to enhance the trilogy and add certain scenes using newly available digital technology, which were released as the Star Wars Trilogy: Special Edition. In 1994, Lucas began work on the prequel Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, which was released in 1999, beginning a new trilogy of Star Wars films. Lucas also directed Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones and Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. In 2008, he also reteamed with Spielberg for Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. The American Film Institute awarded Lucas its Life Achievement Award on June 9, 2005, shortly after the release of Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, and On June 5, 2005, Lucas was named among the 100 “Greatest Americans” by the Discovery Channel,and was also nominated for four Academy Awards: Best Directing and Writing for American Graffiti, and Best Directing and Writing for Star Wars.

He received the Academy’s Irving G. Thalberg Award in 1991. He appeared at the 79th Academy Awards ceremony in 2007 with Steven Spielberg and Francis Ford Coppola to present the Best Director award to their friend Martin Scorsese. In 2006, the Science Fiction Hall of Fame inducted George Lucas and three others and On August 25, 2009, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver announced that Lucas would be one of 13 California Hall of Fame inductees in The California Museum’s yearlong exhibit. Then On September 6, 2009, Lucas, along with the the Pixar team was presented with the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement at the 2009 Biennale Venice Film Festival. George Lucas was also involved in Star Wars episode VII The Force Awakens, directed by J.J.Abrahams and starring Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Adam Driver, Harrison Ford, and Carrie Fisher and Episode IX The Rise of Skywalker the final part of the Star Wars saga which also stars Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Adam Driver, Harrison Ford, and the late great Carrie Fisher.

Dame Daphne du Maurier DBE

English author and playwright Dame Daphne du Maurier, Lady Browning DBE was born 13 May 1907. Many of her works have been adapted into films, including the novels Rebecca (which won the Best Picture Oscar in 1941), Jamaica Inn and the short stories The Birds and Don’t Look Now. The first three were directed by Alfred Hitchcock, the latter by Nicolas Roeg she is considered a first-rate storyteller, a mistress of suspense and Her ability to recreate a sense of place is much admired, and her work remains popular worldwide.The novel Rebecca, which has been adapted for stage and screen several times, is generally regarded as her masterpiece.

In the U.S. she won the National Book Award for favourite novel of 1938, voted by members of the American Booksellers Association. One of her strongest influences here was Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë. Her fascination with the Brontë family is also apparent in The Infernal World of Branwell Brontë, her biography of the troubled elder brother to the Brontë girls. Other significant works include The Scapegoat, The House on the Strand, and The King’s General. The last is set in the middle of thefirst and second English Civil Wars. Though written from the Royalist perspective of her adopted Cornwall, it gives a fairly neutral view of this period of history.Several of her other novels have also been adapted for the screen, including Jamaica Inn, Frenchman’s Creek, Hungry Hill, and My Cousin Rachel (1951). The Hitchcock film The Birds (1963) is based on a treatment of one of her short stories, as is the film Don’t Look Now (1973). Of the films, du Maurier often complained that the only ones she liked were Alfred Hitchcock’s Rebecca and Nicolas Roeg’sDon’t Look Now. Hitchcock’s treatment of Jamaica Inn involved a complete re-write of the ending to accommodate the ego of its star,Charles Laughton. Du Maurier also felt that Olivia de Havilland was wrongly cast as the anti-heroine of My Cousin Rachel.

Frenchman’s Creek fared rather better in a lavish Technicolor version released in 1944. Du Maurier later regretted her choice of Alec Guinness as the lead in the film of The Scapegoat, which she partly financed. In 1989, Indian director Pavithran adapted her short story “No Motive” from the collection The Rendezvous and Other Stories (1980) for his critically acclaimed mystery thriller Utharam (Answer). Du Maurier was often categorised as a “romantic novelist” (a term she deplored), though most of her novels, with the notable exception of Frenchman’s Creek, are quite different from the stereotypical format of a Georgette Heyer or a Barbara Cartland novel. Du Maurier’s novels rarely have a happy ending, and her brand of romanticism often had sinister overtones and shadows of the paranormal she so favoured. In this light, she has more in common with the “sensation novels” of Wilkie Collins and others, which she admired.

Du Maurier’s novel Mary Anne (1954) is a fictionalised account of the real-life story of her great-great-grandmother, Mary Anne Clarke nee Thompson (1776–1852). From 1803 to 1808, Mary Anne Clarke was mistress of Frederick Augustus, Duke of York and Albany (1763–1827). He was the “Grand Old Duke of York” of the nursery rhyme, a son of King George III and brother of the later King George IV.The central character of her last novel, Rule Britannia, is an ageing and eccentric actress who was based on Gertrude Lawrence and Gladys Cooper (to whom it is dedicated) .It was in her short stories that she was able to give free rein to the harrowing and terrifying side of her imagination; “The Birds”, “Don’t Look Now”, “The Apple Tree” and “The Blue Lenses” are exquisitely crafted tales of terror that shocked and surprised her audience in equal measure.

Daphne du Maurier wrote three plays. Her first was a successful adaptation of her novel Rebecca, she also wrote the auto biographical drama The Years Between about the unexpected return of a senior officer, thought killed in action, who finds that his wife has taken his seat as Member of Parliament and has started a romantic relationship with a local farmer. Better known is her third play, September Tide, about a middle-aged woman whose bohemian artist son-in-law falls for her. She also wrote family novels/biographies about her own ancestry, of which Gerald, the biography of her father, was most lauded. Later she wrote The Glass-Blowers, which traces her French ancestry and gives a vivid depiction of the French Revolution. The du Mauriers is a sequel of sorts describing the somewhat problematic ways in which the family moved from France to England in the 19th century and finally Mary Anne, the novel based on the life of a notable, and infamous, English ancestor – her great-grandmother Mary Anne Clarke, former mistress of Frederick, Duke of York.

Her final novels reveal just how far her writing style had developed. The House on the Strand (1969) combines elements of “mental time-travel”, a tragic love affair in 14th century Cornwall, and the dangers of using mind-altering drugs. Her final novel, Rule Britannia, written post-Vietnam, plays with the resentment of English people in general and Cornish people in particular at the increasing dominance of the U.S. Du Maurier sadly passed away aged 81 at her home in Cornwall, on 19 April 1989, which had been the setting for many of her books. Her body was cremated and her ashes scattered at Kilmarth

Douglas Adams

Best known as the author of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, the English author Douglas Adams sadly died 11 May 2001. He was born 11th March 1952 in Cambridge, England, and attended Primrose Hill Primary School in Brentwood. At nine, he passed the entrance exam for Brentwood School, an independent school whose alumni include Robin Day, Jack Straw, Noel Edmonds, and David Irving. Griff Rhys Jones was also a year below him. He attended the prep school from 1959 to 1964, then the main school until December 1970. He became the only student ever to be awarded a ten out of ten by Halford for creative writing, Some of his earliest writing was published at the school, such as reports or spoof reviews in the school magazine Broadsheet He also designed the cover of one issue of the Broadsheet, and had a letter and short story published nationally in The Eagle. in 1965, he was awarded a place at St John’s College, Cambridge to read English, Which he attended from 1971, though the main reason he applied to Cambridge was to join the Footlights, an invitation-only student comedy club that has acted as a hothouse for some of the most notable comic talent in England. he graduated from St. John’s in 1974 with a B.A. in English literature.

After university Adams moved back to London, determined to break into TV and radio as a writer. The Footlights Revue appeared on BBC2 television in 1974 and also performed live in London’s West End which led to Adams being discovered by Monty Python’s Graham Chapman. The two formed a brief writing partnership, earning Adams a writing credit in episode 45 of Monty Python for a sketch called “Patient Abuse”, which plays on the idea of mind-boggling paper work in an emergency, a joke later incorporated into the Vogons’ obsession with paperwork. Adams also contributed to a sketch on the album for Monty Python and the Holy Grail. During this time Adams also continued to write and submit other sketches elesewhere, though few were accepted. In 1976 his career had a brief improvement when he wrote and performed, to good review, Unpleasantness at Brodie’s Close at the Edinburgh Fringe festival.Some of Adams’s early radio work included sketches for The Burkiss Way in 1977 and The News Huddlines. He also wrote the 20 February 1977 episode of the Doctor on the Go,television comedy series, with Graham Chapman, and later became the script editor for Doctor Who.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy was a concept for a science-fiction comedy radio series pitched by Adams and radio producer Simon Brett to BBC Radio 4 in 1977. Adams came up with an outline for a pilot episode, as well as a few other stories (reprinted in Neil Gaiman’s book Don’t Panic: The Official Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Companion) that could potentially be used in the series. It started life in 1978 as a BBC radio comedy and a after the first radio series became successful, Adams was made a BBC radio producer, working on Week Ending and a pantomime called Black Cinderella Two Goes East. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy was also developed into a series of five books that sold over 15 million copies in his lifetime, a television series, several stage plays, comics, a computer game, and in 2005 a feature film. Adams’s contribution to UK radio is commemorated in The Radio Academy’s Hall of Fame.

Adams also wrote Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency (1987) and The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul (1988), and co-wrote The Meaning of Liff (1983), Last Chance to See (1990), and three stories for the television series Doctor Who. A posthumous collection of his work, including an unfinished novel, was published as The Salmon of Doubt in 2002. Adams sent the script for the HHGG pilot radio programme to the Doctor Who production office in 1978, and was commissioned to write The Pirate Planet . He had also previously attempted to submit a potential movie script, which later became his novel Life, the Universe and Everything (which in turn became the third Hitchhiker’s Guide radio series). Adams then went on to serve as script editor on the show for its seventeenth season in 1979. Altogether, he wrote three Doctor Who serials starring Tom Baker as the Doctor: The Pirate Planet, City of Death and Shada Adams also allowed in-jokes from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to appear in the Doctor Who stories he wrote and other stories on which he served as Script Editor. Elements of Shada and City of Death were also reused in Adams’s later novel Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, Adams is also credited with introducing a fan and later friend of his, the evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins, to Dawkins’s future wife, Lalla Ward, who had played the part of Romana in Doctor Who.

Adams also played the guitar left-handed and had a collection of twenty-four guitars when he died in 2001 and also studied piano in the 1960s with the same teacher as Paul Wickens, the pianist who plays in Paul McCartney’s band (and composed the music for the 2004–2005 editions of the Hitchhiker’s Guide radio series). The Beatles, Pink Floyd and Procol Harum all had important influence on Adams’s work. Adams included a direct reference to Pink Floyd in the original radio version of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, in which he describes the main characters surveying the landscape of an alien planet while Marvin, their android companion, hums Pink Floyd’s “Shine on You Crazy Diamond”. This was cut out of the CD version. Adams also compared the various noises that the kakapo makes to “Pink Floyd studio out-takes” in his nonfiction book on endangered species, Last Chance to See.

Adams’s official biography shares its name with the song “Wish You Were Here” by Pink Floyd. Adams was friends with Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour and, on the occasion of Adams’s 42nd birthday (the number 42 having special significance, being the Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe and Everything and also Adams’s age when his daughter Polly was born), he was invited to make a guest appearance at Pink Floyd’s 28 October 1994 concert at Earls Court in London, playing guitar on the songs “Brain Damage” and “Eclipse”. Adams chose the name for Pink Floyd’s 1994 album, The Division Bell, by picking the words from the lyrics to one of its tracks, namely “High Hopes”.

Gilmour also performed at Adams’s memorial service following his death in 2001, and what would have been Adams’ 60th birthday party in 2012. Douglas Adams was also a friend of Gary Brooker, the lead singer, pianist and songwriter of the progressive rock band Procol Harum. Adams also appeared on stage with Brooker to perform “In Held Twas in I” at Redhill when the band’s lyricist Keith Reid was not available. Adams was also an advocate for environmental and conservation causes, and a lover of fast cars, cameras, and the Apple Macintosh, and was a staunch atheist. Biologist Richard Dawkins also dedicated his book, The God Delusion, to Adams, writing on his death that, “Science has lost a friend, literature has lost a luminary, the mountain gorilla and the black rhino have lost a gallant defender.

Fred Astaire🎩

The late great American film and Broadway stage dancer, choreographer, singer and actor Fred Astaire was born 10th May 1899 in Omaha, Nebraska. He and sister Adele were both instinctive dancers and Singers, and formed a “brother-ad-sister act,” Later The family moved to New York City to launch the show business career of the children. Despite Adele and Fred’s teasing rivalry, they quickly acknowledged their individual strengths, his durability and her greater talent. They were taught dance, speaking, and singing in preparation for developing their first act. for which Fred wore a top hat and tails in the first half and a lobster outfit in the second. ” The local paper wrote, “the Astaires are the greatest child act in vaudeville.” Fred and Adele rapidly landed a major contract and played the famed Orpheum Circuit after which The family took a two-year break from show business. The career of the Astaire siblings resumed with mixed fortunes, though with increasing skill and polish, as they began to incorporate tap dancing into their routines. Astaire’s dancing was inspired by Bill “Bojangles” Robinson and John “Bubbles” Sublett.From vaudeville dancer Aurelio Coccia, they learned the tango, waltz and other ballroom dances popularized by Vernon and Irene Castle.

Fred Astaire then met George Gershwin, who was working as a song plugger in Jerome H. Remick’s, in 1916. Fred had already been hunting for new music and dance ideas. Their chance meeting was to deeply affect the careers of both artists. Astaire was always on the lookout for new steps on the circuit and was starting to demonstrate his ceaseless quest for novelty and perfection. The Astaires broke into Broadway in 1917 with Over the Top,. The Astaires performed for U.S. and Allied troops at this time too. They followed up with several more shows, ” By this time, Astaire’s dancing skill was beginning to outshine his sister’s, though she still set the tone of their act and her sparkle and humor drew much of the attention, due in part to Fred’s careful preparation and strong supporting choreography. During the 1920s, Fred and Adele appeaed on Broadway and on the London stage in shows such as George and Ira Gershwin’s Lady Be Good (1924) and Funny Face (1927), and later in The Band Wagon (1931), winning popular acclaim with the theater crowd on both sides of the Atlantic. By then, Astaire’s tap dancing was recognized as among the best.

Fred and Adele split in 1932 and Astaire went on to achieve success on his own on Broadway and in London with Gay Divorce, while considering offers from Hollywood. The end of the partnership was traumatic for Astaire, but stimulated him to expand his range. Free of the brother-sister constraints of the former pairing and with a new partner (Claire Luce), he created a romantic partnered dance to Cole Porter’s “Night and Day”, which had beenwritten for Gay Divorce.Hollywood BreakAstaire got his Hollywood Break after David O. Selznick (Who was also born on 10th May), had signed Astaire to RKO Pictures. He had a bit of a dodgy start However, this did not affect RKO’s plans for Astaire, first lending him for a few days to MGM in 1933 for his Hollywood debut, where he appeared as himself dancing with Joan Crawford in the successful musical film Dancing Lady. On his return to RKO, he got fifth billing after fourth billed Ginger Rogers in the 1933 Dolores del Río vehicle Flying Down to Rio, and the success of the film was attributed to Astaire’s charm & charismatic screen presence.Astaire was initially very reluctant to become part of another dance team. He wrote his agent, “I don’t mind making another picture with her, but as for this ‘team’ idea, it’s ‘out!’ I’ve just managed to live down one partnership and I don’t want to be bothered with any more.”

He was persuaded by the obvious public appeal of the Astaire-Rogers pairing. The partnership, and the choreography of Astaire and Hermes Pan, helped make dancing an important element of the Hollywood film musical. Astaire and Rogers made ten films together, including The Gay Divorcee, Roberta, Top Hat, Follow the Fleet, Swing Time, Shall We Dance, and Carefree. Six out of the nine Astaire-Rogers musicals became the biggest moneymakers for RKO; all of the films brought a certain prestige and artistry that all studios coveted at the time. Their partnership elevated them both to stardom.Astaire is credited with two important innovations in early film musicals. First, he insisted that the (almost stationary) camera film a dance routine in a single shot, if possible, while holding the dancers in full view at all times. Second, Astaire was adamant that all song and dance routines be seamlessly integrated into the plotlines of the film and used it to move the plot along. Typically, an Astaire picture would include a solo performance by Astaire, a partnered comedy dance routine and a partnered romantic dance routine.In 1939, Astaire left RKO to freelance and pursue new film opportunities, with mixed though generally successful outcomes. Throughout this period, Astaire continued to value the input of choreographic collaborators and, unlike the 1930s when he worked almost exclusively with Hermes Pan, he tapped the talents of other choreographers in an effort to continually innovate. His first post-Ginger dance partner was the redoubtable Eleanor Powell —considered the finest female tap-dancer of her generation.

He played alongside Bing Crosby in Holiday Inn and Blue Skies, featuring his solo dance to “Let’s Say it with Firecrackers” and “Puttin’ on the Ritz”. Other partners during this period included Paulette Goddard in Second Chorus, in which he dance-conducted the Artie Shaw orchestra.He made two pictures with Rita Hayworth, the daughter of his former vaudeville dance idols, the Cansinos: the first You’ll Never Get Rich catapulted Hayworth to stardom and provided Astaire with his first opportunity to integrate Latin-American dance idioms into his style, taking advantage of Hayworth’s professional Latin dance pedigree. His second film with Hayworth, You Were Never Lovelier (1942) was equally successful, and featured a duet to Kern’s “I’m Old Fashioned” which became the centerpiece of Jerome Robbins’s 1983 New York City Ballet tribute to Astaire.His next partner, Lucille Bremer, was featured in two lavish vehicles, both directed by Vincente Minnelli: the fantasy Yolanda and the Thief which featured an avant-garde surrealistic ballet, and the musical revue Ziegfeld Follies which featured a memorable teaming of Astaire with Gene Kelly to “The Babbit and the Bromide”, a Gershwin song Astaire had introduced back in 1927.

Sadly Yolande was not a success and Astaire believing his career was beginning to falter surprised his audiences by announcing his retirement during the production of Blue Skies, nominating “Puttin’ on the Ritz” as his farewell dance.However, he soon returned to the big screen to replace the injured Kelly in Easter Parade opposite Judy Garland, Ann Miller and Peter Lawford, and for a final reunion with Rogers in The Barkleys of Broadway. He then went on to make more musicals throughout the 1950s: Let’s Dance with Betty Hutton, Royal Wedding with Jane Powell, Three Little Words (1950) and The Belle of New York with Vera-Ellen, The Band Wagon and Silk Stockings with Cyd Charisse, Daddy Long Legs with Leslie Caron, and Funny Face with Audrey Hepburn. During 1952 Astaire recorded The Astaire Story, a four-volume album with a quintet led by Oscar Peterson. The album provided a musical overview of Astaire’s career, and was produced by Norman Granz. The Astaire Story later won the Grammy Hall of Fame Award in 1999, a special Grammy award to honor recordings that are at least twenty- five years old, and that have “qualitative or historical significance.” His legacy at this point was 30 musical films in 25 years.

During his career Astaire recieved many honours and Awards including an Emmy Award for “Best Single Performance by an Actor” for An Evening with Fred Astaire in 1958 and in 1960 he was Nominated for Emmy Award for “Program Achievement” for Another Evening with Fred Astaire as well as a Golden Globe Cecil B. DeMille Award for “Lifetime Achievement in Motion Pictures”. In he won another Emmy Award for “Program Achievement” in 1961 for Astaire Time, and was also Voted Champion of Champions — Best Television performer in the annual television critics and columnists poll conducted by Television Today and Motion Picture Daily. In 1965 he won The George Eastman Award for “outstanding contributions to motion pictures” Then In 1968 he was nominated for another Emmy Award by the Musical Variety Program for The Fred Astaire Show and in 1972 he was Named Musical Comedy Star of the Century by Liberty, “The Nostalgia Magazine”. His stage and subsequent film career spanned a total of 76 years, during which he made 31 musical films and was named the fifth Greatest Star of All Time bythe American Film Institute, and is particularly associated with Ginger Rogers, with whom he made ten films and Gene Kelly, He inspired many dancers and choreaphers including Ruolf Nureyev, Sammy Davis, Jr., Michael Jackson, Gregory Hines, Mikhail Baryshnikov, George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins have acknowledged his importance and infuence.

In 1973 a Gala was held in his honour by the Film Society of Lincoln Center and in 1975 he recieved Academy Award nomination for The Towering Inferno and won a Golden Globe for “Best Supporting Actor”, BAFTA and David di Donatello awards for the film. In 1978 he was honoured by the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences and became the First recipient of the Kennedy Center Honors. he also won the National Artist Award from the American National Theatre Association for “contributing immeasurably to the American Theatre” and won The Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Film Institute in 1981. In 1987 he was Inducted into the National Museum of Dance C.V. Whitney Hall of Fame in Saratoga Springs, New York. Astaire has also recieved many Posthumous awards, including the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, an induction into the Television Hall of Fame, an induction into the Ballroom Dancer’s Hall of Fame, and a Posthumous Grammy Hall of Fame Award for 1952 The Astaire Story album.

Vertigo🌀

Alfred Hitchcock’s classic psychological noir thriller Vertigo premiered in San Francisco on 9 May 1958. . The story is based on the 1954 novel D’entre les morts (From Among the Dead) by Boileau-Narcejac. The screenplay was written by Alec Coppel and Samuel A. Taylor. The film stars James Stewart as former police detective John “Scottie” Ferguson. Scottie is forced into early retirement After a Policeman died during a rooftop chase in the line of duty which caused him to develop acrophobia (an extreme fear of heights) and vertigo (a false sense of rotational movement). Scottie tries to conquer his fear gradually, but his friend and ex-fiancée Midge Wood says that another severe emotional shock may be the only cure.

Scottie is hired by an acquaintance from College, Gavin Elster, as a private investigator to follow Gavin’s wife Madeleine (Kim Novak), who is behaving strangely and he suspects that she is in some sort of danger. Scottie reluctantly agrees, and follows Madeleine to a florist where she buys a bouquet of flowers, to the Mission San Francisco de Asís and the grave of one Carlotta Valdes (1831–1857), and to the Legion of Honor art museum before going to the McKittrick Hotel. Scottie goes to find more information concerning Carlotta Valdes and learns from A local historian that Carlotta Valdes was mistress of a wealthy married man before committing suicide. Gavin reveals that Carlotta (who he fears is possessing Madeleine) is Madeleine’s great-grandmother. Scottie follows Madeleine to Fort point.

The next day Scottie follows Madeleine; they meet and spend the day together. They travel to Muir Woods and Cypress Point on 17-Mile Drive, where Madeleine recounts a nightmare and they journey to Mission San Juan Bautista, childhood home of Carlotta. Madeleine suddenly runs into the church and up the bell tower and sees Madeleine plunge to her death. The death is declared a suicide. Following Madeleine’s suicide Scottie has a nervous break down, becomes clinically depressed and is placed in a sanatorium. However He starts imagining that he is still seeing her and One day, he notices a woman who reminds him of Madeleine, despite her different appearance she identifies herself as Judy Barton, from Salina, Kansas. However Judy Barton is hiding a big secret concerning Madeleine and Carlotta, Gavin is not quite what he seems either and soon Scottie finds himself drawn into a devious plot…

J.M.Barrie

Best remembered today as the creator of Peter Pan, The Scottish author and dramatist, Sir James Matthew Barrie, 1st Baronet, OM was born 9 May 1860 in Kirriemuir, he was the child of a family of small-town weavers. At the age of 8, Barrie was sent to The Glasgow Academy, Scotland, in the care of his eldest siblings Alexander and Mary Ann, who taught at the school. When he was 10 he returned home and continued his education at the Forfar Academy. At 14, he left home for Dumfries Academy, again under the watch of Alexander and Mary Ann. He became a voracious reader, and was fond of Penny Dreadfuls, and the works of Robert Michael Ballantyne and James Fenimore Cooper.

At Dumfries he and his friends spent time in the garden of Moat Brae house, playing pirates “in a sort of Odyssey that was long afterwards to become the play of Peter Pan”.They formed a drama club, producing his first play Bandelero the Bandit, which provoked a minor controversy following a scathing moral denunciation from a clergyman on the school’s governing board. Barrie wished to follow a career as an author, but was dissuaded by his family who wanted him to have a profession such as the ministry. With advice from Alec, he was able to work out a compromise: he was to attend a university, but would study literature. He enrolled at the University of Edinburgh, where he wrote drama reviews for the Edinburgh Evening Courant. He graduated and obtained a M.A. on 21 April 1882.

He worked for a year and a half as a staff journalist on the Nottingham Journal following a job advertisement found by his sister in The Scotsman, then returned to Kirriemuir, using his mother’s stories about the town (which he renamed “Thrums”) for a piece submitted to the newspaper St. James’s Gazette in London. The editor ‘liked that Scotch thing’, so Barrie wrote a series of them, which served as the basis for his first novels: Auld Licht Idylls (1888), A Window in Thrums (1890), and The Little Minister, which eventually established Barrie as a successful writer. After the success of the “Auld Lichts”, he printed Better Dead (1888) privately and at his own expense, and it failed to sell. His two “Tommy” novels, Sentimental Tommy (1896) and Tommy and Grizel (1900), were about a boy and young man who clings to childish fantasy, with an unhappy ending.

Barrie began writing for the theatre, beginning with a biography of Richard Savage and written by both Barrie and H.B. Marriott Watson, this was followed by Ibsen’s Ghost (or Toole Up-to-Date) (1891), a parody of Henrik Ibsen’s dramas Hedda Gabler and Ghosts. His third play, Walker, London (1892), helped him be introduced to a young actress named Mary Ansell. He proposed to her and they were married on 9 July 1894. Barrie bought her a Saint Bernard puppy, who would play a part in the novel The Little White Bird (or Adventures in Kensington Gardens). He also gave Ansell’s given name to many characters in his novels. He then wrote Jane Annie, a failed comic opera for Richard D’Oyly Carte (1893), which he begged his friend Arthur Conan Doyle to revise and finish for him. In 1901 and 1902 he had back-to-back successes: Quality Street, about a responsible ‘old maid’ who poses as her own flirtatious niece to win the attention of a former suitor returned from the war; and The Admirable Crichton, a critically acclaimed social commentary with elaborate staging, about an aristocratic household shipwrecked on a desert island, in which the butler naturally rises to leadership over his lord and ladies for the duration of their time away from civilisation.

Peter Pan first appeared in his novel The Little White Bird, in 1902, and later in Barrie’s more famous and enduring work, Peter Pan, or The Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up, a “fairy play” about an ageless boy and an ordinary girl named Wendy who have adventures in the fantasy setting of Neverland. This was inspired by the Llewelyn Davis Boys whom he met in London who suggested a baby boy who has magical adventures in Kensington Gardens (included in The Little White Bird). It had its first stage performance on 27 December 1904. It has been performed innumerable times since then, and was developed by Barrie into the 1911 novel Peter and Wendy. It has since been adapted into feature films, musicals, and more. The Bloomsbury scenes show the societal constraints of late Victorian and Edwardian middle-class domestic reality, contrasted with Neverland, a world where morality is ambivalent. George Bernard Shaw’s description of the play as “ostensibly a holiday entertainment for children but really a play for grown-up people”, suggests deeper social metaphors at work in Peter Pan.

Following Peter Pan Barrie had many more successes on the stage including The Twelve Pound Look which concerns a wife divorcing a peer and gaining an independent income. Other plays, such as Mary Rose and a subplot in Dear Brutus, revisit the idea of the ageless child. Later plays included What Every Woman Knows (1908). His final play was The Boy David (1936), which dramatised the Biblical story of King Saul and the young David. Like the role of Peter Pan, that of David was played by a woman, Elisabeth Bergner, for whom Barrie wrote the play.

Barrie had many Friends including Novelist George Meredith, fellow Scot Robert Louis Stevenson, who lived in Samoa at the time, George Bernard Shaw who was his neighbour in London for several years. H. G. Wells was also a friend of many years, and Barrie met Thomas Hardy through Hugh Clifford while he was staying in London. Although Barrie continued to write, Peter Pan quickly overshadowed his previous work and became his best-known work, and is credited with popularising the name Wendy, which was very uncommon previously. Barrie unofficially adopted the Davies boys following the deaths of their parents and was made a baronet by George V in 1913, and a member of the Order of Merit in 1922.

Unfortunately Barrie tragically died of pneumonia on 19 June 1937. He was buried at Kirriemuir next to his parents and two of his siblings and left the bulk of his estate (excluding the Peter Pan works, which he had previously given to Great Ormond Street Hospital in April 1929) to his secretary Cynthia Asquith. His birthplace at 4 Brechin Road is maintained as a museum by the National Trust for Scotland. Even today Ormond Street Hospital, continues to benefit from the arrangement involving the Peter Pan novels

Dennis Waterman

Best known for his tough-guy leading roles in television series including The SweeneyMinder and New Tricks, English actor and singer Dennis Waterman tragically died 8 May 2022. He was born in Clapham, London. 24 February 1948 and educated at the Granard Primary School, a state primary school on the Ashburton Estate in Putney, South-West London, followed by Corona Stage School, an independent school at Ravenscourt Park in Hammersmith in West London. Boxing was a big part of Waterman’s childhood. His father had been an amateur boxer and made all of his sons box. His older brother Ken first took Dennis boxing when he was three years old, and when he was ten Dennis joined Caius Boxing Club. Another older brother, Peter, was a welterweight boxing champion.

Waterman’s 60 year acting career began in childhood. His first role was in Night Train for Inverness. He appeared in two small stage roles for the Royal Shakespeare Company’s 1960 season. In 1961, at the age of 13, he played the part of Winthrop Paroo in the Adelphi Theatre production of The Music Man. A year later, he starred as William Brown in the BBC TV series William based on the Just William books of Richmal Crompton. Waterman played the role of Oliver Twist in the production of the Lionel Bartmusical Oliver! staged at the Mermaid Theatre, London, in the early 1960s, and appears on the cast recording released in 1961. Waterman was a series regular in the 1962 CBS comedy Fair Exchange, playing teenager Neville Finch. In 1963, he took a “starring” role in the Children’s Film Foundation film Go Kart Go.

Waterman was in the original cast of Saved, the play written by Edward Bond, and first produced at the Royal Court Theatre in November 1965. He had a major role in the feature film version of Up The Junction (1968) in which he played Peter, boyfriend to Polly (Suzy Kendall).

During the early 1970s, Waterman appeared in the BBC television series Colditz as a young Gestapoofficer. He played the brother of a victim of Count Dracula (Christopher Lee) in the Hammer film Scars of Dracula and the boyfriend of Susan George in Fright. He appeared alongside Richard Harris and John Huston in a Hollywood western, Man in the Wilderness. He was a member of the company of actors who featured in The Sextet (1972), a BBC 2 series which included the Dennis Potter drama Follow the Yellow Brick Road, and Waterman later appeared in the same dramatist’s Joe’s Ark (Play for Today, 1974). Both plays were directed by Alan Bridges. Also in 1974, Waterman appeared in episode 4 of the second series of the comedy programme Man About the House entitled “Did You Ever Meet Rommel”, in which he played a friend of Robin, a German student by the name of Franz Wasserman (an evident play on his own surname).

He became a household name as DS George Carter in The Sweeney during the 1970s. As well as starring as Terry McCann in Minder, Waterman sang the theme song, “I Could Be So Good for You”, which was a top three UK hit in 1980 and a top ten hit in Australia.. It was written by his then-wife Patricia along with Gerard Kenny. Waterman also recorded a song with George Cole: “What Are We Gonna Get For ‘Er Indoors?” In 1976, Waterman released his first album, Downwind of Angels, Featuring the single, “I Will Glide” and In 1978, Waterman returned to the RSC to play Sackett in Bronson Howard’s comedy Saratoga.

During the 1980’s Waterman starred as  club captain. Bob Jones, in a television film entitled The World Cup: A Captain’s Tale (1982). The true story of West Auckland F.C., a part-time side who won the Sir Thomas Lipton Trophy, sometimes described as the ‘First World Cup’. In 1982, Waterman starred in the musical Windy City alongside  Anton Rodgers, Diane Langton, Victor Spinetti and Amanda Redman, with whom Waterman had an eighteen-month affair during the run of the musical and with whom he later went on to star in the TV series New Tricks. For his next role

Waterman took the lead male role in the BAFTA Award-winning BBC adaptation of Fay Weldon’s The Life and Loves of a She-Devil (1986) andIn 1983, Waterman narrated an eight-part BBC documentary series about Asian martial arts titled The Way of the Warrior. In 1988, Waterman voiced Vernon’s dim-witted, stupid and food loving sidekick Toaster in the children’s animated series Tube Mice which also starred George Cole. Waterman next appeared as Thomas Gynn in the comedy drama Stay Lucky(1989–93), with Jan Francis and Emma Wray; self made millionaire Tony Carpenter in the sitcom On the Up (1990-2) and John Neil in the mini series Circles of Deceit (1995–96). Between 1997 to 1999, he appeared as John Danson (the head of the largest UK smuggling network) in series 3 and 4 of the crime drama The Knock. Between 2003 and 2014.He was a regular cast member in every season of New Tricks, until He left the series during its final season in 2015.

He has also recited excerpts from the journal of Walter H. Thompson for the UK history series Churchill’s Bodyguard, appeared on stage in Jeffrey Bernard is Unwell by Keith Waterhouse and starred as Alfred P. Doolittle in the 2001 London revival of My Fair Lady. He narrated the reality-format television programme Bad Lads’ Army and appeared in the 2009 BBC2 miniseries Moses Jones. In 2020, Waterman starred in the Australian drama-comedy film Never Too Late which had been filmed in Adelaide, South Australia the previous year. In total he appeared in 29 films, the last of which was released in 2020 and will be sadly missed.

Little Richard

Often cited as “the architect of rock and roll”, American singer, songwriter, musician, recording artist, and actor Little Richard (Richard Wayne Penniman) sadly died 8 May 2020. He was born December 5 in 1932 and began performing on stage and on the road in 1945, when he was in his early teens, and began his recording career on October 16, 1951 by imitating the gospel- influenced style of late-1940s jump blues artist Billy Wright, who was a friend who gave him the opportunity to record his first song.However His early fifties recordings, did not achieve remarkable commercial success, and it was not until 1955, under the guidance of Robert “Bumps” Blackwell, that he began recording in a style he had been performing onstage for years, which featured a varied rhythm (derived from everything from drum beats he would hear in his voice to the sounds of trains he would hear thundering by him as a child), a heavy backbeat, funky saxophone grooves, over-the-top gospel-style singing, moans, screams, and other emotive inflections, accompanied by a combination of boogie-woogie and rhythm and blues music.

This new music, which also included an original injection of funk into the rock and roll beat, also inspired many of the greatest recording artists of the twentieth century, including James Brown, Elvis Presley, Otis Redding, Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, Michael Jackson, and many other rhythm & blues, rock, and soul music artists. . He is considered key in music’s transition from rhythm and blues to rock and roll in the 1950s, and was also the first artist to put the funk in the rock and roll beat which contributed significantly to the development of soul music.Like the late great Elvis Presley, Little Richard blew the lid off Fifties music, laying the foundation for rock and roll with his explosive music and charismatic persona. On record, he made spine-tingling rock and roll. His frantically charged piano playing and raspy, shouted vocals on such classics as “Tutti Frutti“, “Long Tall Sally” and “Good Golly, Miss Molly” defined the dynamic sound of rock and roll. During the height of his stardom He charted seventeen original hits in less than three years.

He has been an influential figure in popular music and culture for over six decades. Penniman’s most celebrated work dates from the mid 1950s where his dynamic music and charismatic showmanship laid the foundation for rock and roll. His music also had a pivotal impact on the formation of other popular music genres, including soul and funk. Penniman influenced numerous singers and musicians across musical genres from rock to rap.Penniman has been honored by many institutions, including inductions into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Songwriters Hall of Fame. He is the recipient of Lifetime Achievement Awards from The Recording Academy and the Rhythm and Blues Foundation. Penniman’s “Tutti Frutti” (1955) was included in the Library of Congress’National Recording Registry in 2010, claiming the “unique vocalizing over the irresistible beat announced a new era in music.”

In 1986 He became one of the first group of inductees into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and one of only four (along with Ray Charles, James Brown, and Fats Domino) to also receive the Rhythm and Blues Foundation’s Pioneer Lifetime Achievement Award. He was also inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame In 2007, and in 2010 The United States of America’s Library of Congress National Recording Registry added the groundbreaking recording of his original 1955 hit “Tutti Frutti”to its registry, claiming that the hit, with its original “A-wop-bop-a-loo-bop-a-lop-bam-boom!” a cappella introduction, heralded a new era in music. It has also been voted Number 1 by an eclectic panel of renowned recording artists on Mojo’s The Top 100 Records That Changed The World, hailing the recording as “the sound of the birth of rock and roll.”

Ray Harryhausen

American-British artist, designer, visual effects creator, writer, and producer Ray Harryhausen sadly died on May 7, 2013. He was born June 29, 1920 in Los Angeles, California. He spent his early years experimenting in the production of animated short films and was greatly inspired by the stop-motion animation of pioneer model animator Willis O’Brien on the film King Kong. So a friend arranged a meeting with O’Brien for him. O’Brien critiqued Harryhausen’s early models and urged him to take classes in graphic arts and sculpture to hone his skills. Meanwhile, Harryhausen became friends with an aspiring writer, Ray Bradbury, with similar enthusiasms. Bradbury and Harryhausen joined the Los Angeles-area Science Fiction League formed by Forrest J. Ackerman in 1939, and the three became lifelong friends. Harryhausen secured his first commercial model-animation job, on George Pal’s Puppetoons shorts, based on viewing his first formal demo reel of fighting dinosaurs from a project called Evolution of the World which was never finished.

During World War II, Harryhausen served in the United States Army Special Services Division under Colonel Frank Capra, as a loader, clapper boy, gofer and later camera assistant, whilst working at home animating short films about the use and development of military equipment. During this time he also worked with composer Dimitri Tiomkin and Theodore Geisel (“Dr. Seuss”). Following the war he salvaged several rolls of discarded 16 mm surplus film from which he made a series of fairy tale-based shorts, which he called his “Teething-rings”.

One of Harryhausen’s most long-cherished dreams was to make H.G. Wells’ The War of the Worlds. After World War II, he shot a scene of an alien emerging from a Martian cylinder showing the fearsome being from Mars fatally succumbing to an earthly illness, contracted from the air. It was part of an unrealized project to adapt the story using Wells’ original “octopus” concept for the Martians. In 1947 Harryhausen was hired as an assistant animator on what turned out to be his first major film, Mighty Joe Young (1949). O’Brien ended up concentrating on solving the various technical problems of the film, leaving most of the animation to Harryhausen. Their work won O’Brien the Academy Award for Best Special Effects that year.

Ray Harryhausen first film featuring his technical effects was The Beast from 20,000 Fathom based on a story by The writer Ray Bradbury, who was a long-time friend of Harryhausen. This was about a dinosaur drawn to a lone lighthouse by its foghorn. Because the story for Harryhausen’s film featured a similar scene, the film studio bought the rights to Bradbury’s story to avoid any potential legal problems. To film Beast from 20,000 fathoms Harryhausen used a technique called “Dynamation” that split the background and foreground of pre-shot live action footage into two separate images into which he would animate a model or models so seemingly integrating the live-action with the models. The background would be used as a miniature rear-screen with his models animated in front of it, re-photographed with an animation-capable camera to combine those two elements together, the foreground element matted out to leave a black space. Then the film was rewound, and everything except the foreground element matted out so that the foreground element would now photograph in the previously blacked out area. This created the effect that the animated model was “sandwiched” in between the two live action elements, right into the final live action scene.

In most of Harryhausen’s films, model animated characters interact with, and are a part of, the live action world, with the idea that they will cease to call attention to themselves as only “animation.” Most of the effects shots in his earliest films were created via Harryhausen’s careful frame-by-frame control of the lighting of both the set and the projector. This dramatically reduced much of degradation common in the use of back-projection or the creation of dupe negatives via the use of an optical printer. Harryhausen’s use of diffused glass to soften the sharpness of light on the animated elements allowed the matching of the soft background plates far more successfully than Willis O’Brien had achieved in his early films, allowing Harryhausen to match live and miniature elements seamlessly in most of his shots. Harryhausen managed to save money, by developing and executing most of this miniature work himself, while maintaining full technical control.

Harryhausen then began working with color film to make The 7th Voyage of Sinbad, experimenting with color film stocks to overcome the color-balance-shift problems. Ray’s producer/partner Charles H. Schneer coined the word Dynamation as a “merchandising term” (modifying it to “SuperDynaMation” and then “Dynarama”. Harryhausen was always heavily involved in the pre-production conceptualizing of each film’s story, script development, art-direction, design, storyboards, and general tone of the his films, as much as any auteur director would have on any other film, which any “director” of Harryhausen’s films had to understand and agree to work under. Only the complexities of Director’s Guild rules in Hollywood prevented Harryhausen from being credited as the director of his films, resulting in the more modest credits he had in most of his films.

Harryhausen’s often worked with his family His father did the machining of the metal armatures (based on his son’s designs) that were the skeletons for the models and allowed them to keep their position, while his mother assisted with some miniature costumes. After Harryhausen’s father died in 1973, Harryhausen contracted An occasional assistant, George Lofgren, a taxidermist, assisted Harryhausen with the creation of furred creatures. Another associate, Willis Cook, built some of Harryhausen’s miniature sets. Other than that, Harryhausen worked generally alone to produce almost all of the animation for his filmsThe same year that Beast was released, 1953, fledgling film producer Irwin Allen released a live action documentary about life in the oceans titled The Sea Around Us, which won an Oscar for best documentary feature film of that year. Harryhausen then worked on Allen’s sequel. He also met producer Charles H. Schneer, Their first tandem project was It Came from Beneath the Sea (aka Monster from Beneath the Sea, 1955), about a giant octopus attacking San Francisco. followed by Earth vs. the Flying Saucers. In 1954, Irwin Allen began work on a second feature-length documentary film, about animal life on land called The Animal World Needing an opening sequence about dinosaurs, Allen hired premier model animator Willis O’Brien and Harryhausen to animate the dinosaurs, many agreed that the dinosaur sequence of Animal World was the best part of the entire movie. (Animal World is available on the DVD release of O’Brien’s 1957 film The Black Scorpion).

Harryhausen then made 20 Million Miles to Earth (1957), about an American spaceship returning from Venus. The spaceship crashes into the ocean near Italy, which releases an on-board alien egg specimen that washes up on shore. The egg soon hatches a creature that, in Earth’s atmosphere, rapidly grows to gigantic size running amok and terrifying the citizens of Rome. He refined and improved his animation techniques still further for the Venusian Ymir alien. Harryhausen then developed a technique to maintain proper color balances for his DynaMation process, resulting in The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (1958) The Three Worlds of Gulliver (1960), Mysterious Island and Jason and the Argonauts (1963). Among the film’s best sequences is an exciting fight between three actors and seven living skeletons, And the confrontation with Talos the bronze giant. Harryhausen next made First Men in the Moon (1964), his only film made in the 2.35:1 widescreen (AKA “CinemaScope”) format, based on the novel by H. G. Wells.

Harryhausen was then hired by Hammer Film Productions to animate the dinosaurs for One Million Years B.C. (1966) featuringRaquel Welch in her second film. Harryhausen next went on to make another dinosaur film, The Valley of Gwangi. This is Set in Mexico, and features cowboys who discover a forbidden valley inhabited by dinosaurs and manage to capture a living Allosaurus and bring him to the nearest Mexican city for exhibition. However the creature, escapes and wreaks havoc on the town. Harryhausen’s next film wasThe Golden Voyage of Sinbad, featuring a sword fight involving a statue of the six-armed goddess Kali this was followed by Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger. Harryhausen and Shneer’s next film was Clash of the Titans featuring stars such as Laurence Olivier Ursula Andress, Burgess Meridith and Harry Hamlin and for which he was nominated for a Saturn Award for Best Special Effects. This features Perseus and his efforts to save the beautiful princess Andromeda from being sacrificed to the fearsome Kraken by undertaking a perilous journey to the Isle of the Dead Where he confronts the equally fearsome gorgon Medusa. sadly more sophisticated computer-assisted technology developed by ILM and others began to eclipse Harryhausen’s production techniques, with MGM and other studios refusing to fund his planned sequel, Force of the Trojans, sO Harryhausen and Schneer Retired from filmmaking.

In the early 1970s, Harryhausen also published a book, Film Fantasy Scrapbook (produced in three editions as his last three films were released) and supervising the restoration and release of his films to video, laserdisc, DVD, and Blu-ray. A second book followed, An Animated Life, written with author and friend Tony Dalton which details his techniques and history. This was then followed in 2005 by The Art of Ray Harryhausen, featuring sketches and drawings for his many projects. In 2008 Harryhausen and Dalton published a history of stop-motion model animation, A Century of Model Animation and to celebrate Harryhausen’s 90th birthday The Ray & Diana Harryhausen Foundation published Ray Harryhausen – A Life in Pictures. In 2011 the last volume, called Ray Harryhausen’s Fantasy Scrapbook, was also published. Harryhausen continued his lifelong friendship with Ray Bradbury until Bradbury’s death in 2012. Another long-time close friend was “Famous Monsters of Filmland” magazine editor, book writer, and sci-fi collector Forrest J Ackerman, another friend was long-time producer, Charles H. Schneer, who lived next door to him in a suburb of London until Schneer moved full-time to the USA. Harryhausen and Terry Moore appeared in small comedic cameo roles in the 1998 remake of Mighty Joe Young, and he has also provided the voice of a polar bear cub in the Will Ferrell film Elf. He also appears as a bar patron in Beverly Hills Cop III, and as a doctor in the John Landis film Spies Like Us. In 2010, Harryhausen had a brief cameo in Burke & Hare, a British film also directed by Landis.

In 1986 Harryhausen formed The Ray & Diana Harryhausen Foundation, a registered charity in the UK and US, which preserves all of his collection and promotes the art of stop-motion animation. In 2002, young animators Seamus Walsh and Mark Caballero helped Harryhausen complete The Story of the Tortoise and the Hare. This was the sixth and final installment of the Harryhausen fairy tales. The film was started in 1952 and completed in 2002, 50 years later and went on to win the 2003 Annie award for best short film and gained worldwide attention. Ray Harryhausen was also given a special tribute at The BFI Southbank theater which was attended by all the top visual effects directors and technicians and was hosted by director John Landis. At this event he was presented by Peter Jackson with a special BAFTA award from the British Academy of Film and Television Arts. In 2009, he released colorized DVD versions of three of his classic black and white Columbia films: 20 Million Miles to Earth, Earth vs. the Flying Saucers, and It Came from Beneath the Sea, and of She (1935), in tribute to its producer Merian C. Cooper.In June 2010, it was announced that the Ray and Diana Harryhausen Foundation had agreed to deposit the animator’s complete collection of some 50,000 pieces with the National Media Museum in Bradford, England.

The work of Ray Harryhausen was celebrated in an exhibition at London’s Museum of the Moving Image (MOMI) in 1990. In 2010 A theater at Sony Pictures Digital Productions was named in honor of Harryhausen. The Science Fiction Hall of Fame inducted Harryhausen in 2005, He also received the annual British Fantasy Society Wagner Award in 2008 for his lifetime contribution to the genre and in 2003, Harryhausen was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

In 2013, the RH foundation and Arrow Films released a feature-length biography of Harryhausen and his films called “Ray Harryhausen – Special Effects Titan” on Blu-Ray. Featuring photos, artifacts, and film clips culled directly Harryhausen’s estate and never before seen by the public. A major exhibition of Ray Harryhausen’s models Entitled “Ray Harryhausen – Mythical Menagerie” was held at the Science Museum Oklahoma and another exhibition took place at Tate Britain in 2017 featuring work from the Harryhausen collection and short film made by John Walsh on the restoration of a painting owned by Harryhausen which influenced his work. In 1992 The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences awarded Ray Harryhausen a Gordon E.Sawyer Award to acknowledge His “technological contributions to the industry. He also made” A long series of appearances at film festivals, colleges, and film seminars around the world. Harryhausen also met many film makers with luminaries; Steven Spielberg, James Cameron, Peter Jackson, George Lucas, John Landis and Nick Park citing Harryhausen As an influence whose work inspired their own creations. Peter Lord of Aardman animation also said that Harryhausen was “a one-man industry and a one-man genre”. Shaun of the Dead director Edgar Wright said “I loved every single frame of Ray Harryhausen’s work … He was the man who made me believe in monsters.” George Lucas also said, “Without Ray Harryhausen, there would likely have been no Star Wars”. Terry Gilliam said, “What we do now digitally with computers, Ray did digitally long before but without computers. Only with his digits.” James Cameron also paid tribute by saying, “I think all of us who are practitioners in the arts of science fiction and fantasy movies now all feel that we’re standing on the shoulders of a giant. If not for Ray’s contribution to the collective dreamscape, we wouldn’t be who we are.”

Ray Harryhausen left his collection, which includes all of his film related artefacts to the Ray & Diana Harryhausen Foundation, set up in 1986 to look after his extensive collection, to protect his name and to further the art of model stop-motion animation. The trustees are his daughter Vanessa Harryhausen, Simon Mackintosh, actress Caroline Munro who appeared in The Golden Voyage of Sinbad and film maker John Walsh who first met with Ray Harryhausen in 1988 as a film student of the London Film School and made a documentary entitled Ray Harryhausen: Movement Into Life narrated by Doctor Who actor Tom Baker (who also appeared in the Golden Voyage of Sinbad. The Foundation’s website charts progress on the restoration of the collection and future plans for Ray’s legacy. In 2016 the foundation launched The Ray Harryhausen Podcast. This included never before heard audio from Ray Harryhausen. Hosted by Collections Manager Connor Heaney and John Walsh.