Monday, October 10, 2011

Today in Pop Culture History: Penguin Suits and Porgy and Bess

10 October 1985: A double downer day in pop culture history. Both Yul Brenner and Orson Welles died in New York and Los Angeles respectively. Russian-born Brenner was all over movies in the 50s and 60s. He was Ramses in The Ten Commandments, and one of the Magnificent Seven. However, he's probably best known (by me) for playing the King of Siam in The King and I. "Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera."

Welles was a boy genius whose frustration with the studio system turned him into a bit of a Brando-esque "eccentric" by the time he died. But at his best, he did everything and did it FIERCE. He directed, wrote, produced a slew of films and plays, and found time to scare the hell out of America with his radio broadcast of War of the Worlds. He's usually lauded for a little film called Citizen Kane, though I much prefer him in The Third Man. A classic in any town, Welles was the ultimate auteur.

10 October 1886: Lighten up, it's just fashion! The tuxedo dinner jacket made its first appearance at the autumn ball in Tuxedo Park, NY, today. Tailors in London designed it, but James Potter (no kidding!) made it famous in America. Because of him, we have the following:

 Thanks James!

10 October 1935: The Gershwin composed "American folk opera" Porgy and Bess opened. It was the first to feature and all African-American cast. There have been several film adaptations, and a few of the songs have become jazz and blues standards in their own right. Here's The Doors singing "Summertime," the opening song of the opera.


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