Tag Archives: Michael Jackson

Actress: Elizabeth Taylor


All those husbands. All those diamonds. All those rumors. All those Oscars and nominations. Uploaded by fullissue.com.

Elizabeth Taylor lived such a tumultuous life that she attained a larger-than-life reputation. Married eight times to seven husbands (Richard Burton won the lottery twice), one of the highest-paid actresses of her time, a friend of man-child Michael Jackson – oh, and one of the finest screen performers of all time.

Taylor was born in England of American parents, so he had dual citizenship. After appearances in several mostly forgettable movies (well, who can forget Lassie Come Home), she became a true child star with her role as Velvet Brown in National Velvet. That was in 1944.

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During the next decade she made the transition from adolescent actress to Movie Star. Though most of the movies made during that time were forgettable, she broke through as an adult in Giant in 1956, a film remembered best as the last screen appearance of James Dean.

Among the memorable films of her long career were Little Women (1949), Father of the Bride (1950), A Place in the Sun (1951), Raintree County (1957 – Nomination), Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958 – Nomination), Suddenly Last Summer (1959 – Nomination), BUtterfield 8 (1960 – Oscar), Cleopatra (1963), The Sandpiper (1965), Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966 – Oscar), The Taming of the Shrew (1967).

Taylor received the Life Achievement Award from the American Film Institute in 1993, and a Life Achievement Award from the Screen Actors Guild in 1997.

And she had violet eyes.

(Ms. Taylor died March 23, 2011. Originally posted August 13, 2010)

Music: Quincy Jones


An arranger, record producer, performer, film score composer, and television producer, Quincy Jones is one of the most influential musicians of the last century. Uploaded by urbanascore.com.

You could probably win a few bar bets with this question: What individual has the most Grammy Nominations? Yes, the answer is Quincy Jones – with a whopping 79 (and 27 wins, all as a record producer). “Q,” as he’s often called, is not only a record producer but also an arranger, a film composer, and a television producer.

Jones earned a scholarship to a music conservatory in Boston, but dropped out to travel with Lionel Hampton. That experience led to the opportunity to arrange songs for Tommy Dorsey, Gene Krupa, Sarah Vaughan, Count Basie, Duke Ellington, and Ray Charles. Not long after, director Sidney Lumet chose

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Jones to compose the music for his film The Pawnbroker. It was the first of 33 movies for which he wrote the score. Among his other films are In the Heat of the Night and The Color Purple.

As he turned his attention to record producing, he maintained his high standards. Among the records he produced are “We Are The World,” Michael Jackson’s Thriller, Frank Sinatra’s It Might As Well Be Spring, and Ella Fitzgerald/Count Basie’s Ella and Basie!

In 1995, Jones became the first African-American to win the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award presented at that year’s Academy Awards ceremony.

Album: “Thriller”


Thriller contained nine songs, seven of which were released as singles. All made the top 10. It's the best-selling album of all time, and it still sells more than 100,000 copies a year, 28 years after its introduction. Uploaded by freddyo.com.

Remember music videos? Okay, music videos are still being made, so let me put it another way: Remember when music videos mattered? If you can recall that distant past, you’ll know the impact that the album Thriller had on the pop music world. First came “Billie Jean,” pretty much Michael Jackson by himself. Then “Beat It,” with a group dance. And finally “Thriller,” probably the most famous music video dance ever. (Just ask Philippine convicts if you doubt this claim.)

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Of the nine songs on Thriller, seven were released as singles, and all went to the top ten. They included “The Girl is Mine” (No. 2), “Billie Jean” (No. 1), “Beat It” (No. 1), “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin'” (No. 5), “Human Nature” (No. 7), “P.Y.T. Pretty Young Thing” (No. 10), and “Thriller” (No. 4).

Thriller was named the number 20 album on Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. It won eight Grammy Awards, including Album of the Year. And it’s the best-selling album of all time, still selling an amazing 109,000 copies each year, 28 years following its initial release.

Americana: The Apollo Theater

Virtually every African-American performer of consequence has played the Apollo in the last 75 years. Uploaded by emiliogrosso.com.

In 1914, a new building was constructed on 125th Street in the Harlem section of New York City. Named “Hurtig and Seaman’s New Burlesque Theater,” the establishment opened with one now quite ironic rule — no African-Americans were allowed in the audience.

A couple of decades later, things had changed. Ralph Cooper, Sr. decided to do a live version of his popular radio program “Amateur Night Hour” at what was now known as 125 Street Apollo. The program was a hit, and one of its earliest winners was a special 17-year-old girl named Ella Fitzgerald. (She won $25.) The next year, the theater’s headliners would become musical legends: Bessie Smith and Billie Holiday.

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By the mid-1970s, the Apollo fell on hard times, and in 1975 was converted into a movie theater. Fortunately, its place in the history of African-American culture wasn’t forgotten, and Inner City Broadcasting purchased and refurbished the building. It reopened in 1985 with a well-deserved place on the National Register of Historic Places.

The Apollo is now synonymous with music in Harlem, and no wonder. Just look at some of the many entertainers who’ve performed live at the Apollo: Louis Armstrong • Sarah Vaughn • Moms Mabley • Redd Foxx • James Brown • Sam Cooke • Diana Ross & The Supremes • Patti LaBelle • Dionne Warwick • Aretha Franklin • Michael Jackson • Jimi Hendrix • Gladys Knight & The Pips • Marvin Gaye • Luther Vandross • Stevie Wonder • Ben E. King • Mariah Carey • The Isley Brothers

Amateur night at the Apollo continues, a competition that for years could be seen in syndication on the program Showtime at the Apollo