Monday, October 20, 2014

Monday Muses: Anjelica Huston

Anjelica Huston on Don Juan's Reckless Daughter

Happy Monday! Back with a Monday Muse fit for the week before Halloween, particularly, given her roles in 90s classics like The Addams Family and, my personal favorite, The Witches Oscar-winning actress, model, and author...  Anjelica Huston

Anjelica Huston on Don Juan's Reckless Daughter

I recently read her memoir, A Story Lately Told, and it is one of the better bios I've read in quite a while.  I found it fascinating and humorous but also exceedingly tragic in places.  In this book (a part one, of sorts) she talks about her childhood - growing up in Ireland as the daughter of a former prima ballerina Enrica “Ricky” Soma and the eccentric (to put it lightly) film director John Huston. She tells of how her father more or less pushed her in front of the camera as a young awkward teen and how this push, coupled with her “exotic” looks, eventually lead to a career as a fashion model.   The book ends as she moves to LA in her early 20s but it's jammed-packed for such a short amount of life. The second book comes out later this year and I can’t wait!

Anjelica Huston on Don Juan's Reckless Daughter

Anjelica Huston on Don Juan's Reckless Daughter's Monday Muses

Like many of our muses,  Ms. Huston has inspired more people than I could possibly condense into one measly post...photographers, designers, actors, directors, etc, etc.  One of the first being photographer, Bob Richardson.  The two made beautiful work together but their romantic relationship was a less than beautiful thing.  Anjelica was barely an adult and still recovering from her mother’s tragic death (Anjelica was just 16 when her mother (age 39) was killed in a car crash).  Richardson, 20 years her senior, suffered from severe mental issues and took his frustrations and neurosis out on his young girlfriend. The two eventually parted ways when Anjelica made the move to LA to pursue acting but they left us with some remarkable photos.

Anjelica Huston on Don Juan's Reckless Daughter's Monday Muses

Anjelica Huston on Don Juan's Reckless Daughter's Monday Muses

Anjelica went on to play muse to many, including: Yves Saint Laurant, Halston, Jack Nicholson (who she was in an on and off relationship with for the better part of the 1970s and 80s)...

and, in recent years, she has been something of a muse to film director Wes Anderson as well - which is a match made in heaven, in my humble opinion...

Suggested viewing: The Royal Tenenbaums, The Grifters,  and obviously "the Witches" and "Addams Family". She is also genius in smaller roles in films like Buffalo 66. 

Monday, August 25, 2014

Monday Muses: Marianne Faithfull

Any excuse to post pictures of 60s-era Marianne Faithfull on a dull Monday, am I right?  I do love Marianne but it’s always ever-so-slightly bittersweet to see pictures of her at the beginning of her career, knowing how far she would fall.  Despite the fact that she managed to make a miraculous rebound from all of that, her's has been one rough tale. 

Marianne Faithfull on Don Juan's Reckless Daughter

Arguably known by most as girlfriend / muse to Mick Jagger - Marianne would, in a sense, eventually become her own muse.  She hit the scene in the Sixties as a doll-faced ingenue of alleged aristocratic lineage, and rose to the top of the pop charts with her cover of the Jagger/Richards penned  song “As Tears Go By”.  Along with a successful music career, she tried her hand at acting too.  Notably she played Ophelia in a production of “Hamlet” directed by Tony Richardson which then lead to a film version. She also appeared in several independent and art house films.  

Marianne Faithfull on Don Juan's Reckless Daughter

Marianne Faithfull on Don Juan's Reckless Daughter

Somewhere along the way she began her gradual decent into the dark underbelly of drug culture.  Probably enhanced by depression and, of course, there was the infamous "Redlands drug bust" which sullied her clean reputation with some less than clean allegations and rumors.  Drug use eventually took the front seat to the point where her home life, relationships  (bye bye Mick!) and finances were left in shambles. 

Marianne Faithfull on Don Juan's Reckless Daughter

Marianne Faithfull on Don Juan's Reckless Daughter Monday Muses

In her autobiography, Faithfull, she talks at length about a period spent homeless and quite literally living on a wall in central London...yes, a wall. By then her young son had been taken from her and was living with relatives.  She was penniless and friends with the junkies, prostitutes and other homeless souls who seemed to look after each other in some form or another. Her life could have easily ended the way countless other 60s icons did.  In her own Persephone-esque manner, however, she managed to reemerge, and to even see success again later in life - albeit with many many stories to tell.  

It took a while for me to warm to her earlier music and some of it is still hit and miss for me but this

 and this one persuaded me into fandom....


I also love to watch her on film… the movie “Girl on a Motorcycle” is, in truth, a bit self-indulgent and campy but I adore it for some reason (on Netflix, last time I checked).  She also makes a couple of delightful but random cameos in French films like Godard’s “Made in USA”.

In high school I discovered her  album “Broken English” then even more recently the album “Horses and High Heels” (which, I am told, pops up on the “Meg Olsen” Pandora station from time to time…hahaha).  The former is disco-tinged new wave record from 1979 and the later an almost folkie alt-country record from 2011. Both really interesting and both quite different to each other.

If you are a fan of reading Bios her's (Faithfull: An Autobiography ) is fascinating, brutally honest and strangely optimistic.  Lastly, I had such a hard time narrowing down pictures so you can find more over at my Pinterest! 

Monday, August 11, 2014

Monday Muses: Tanaquil LeClercq

Tanaquil Le Clercq on Don Juan's Reckless Daughter

Last week, unprompted by me, "the Brit" put on a documentary called “Afternoon of a Faun” about the famed ballerina, Tanaquil LeClercq.  As it happens, a few days earlier, I had been reading about Balanchine, founder of the New York City Ballet, who... it turns out... was Tanaquil’s mentor, choreographer and eventual husband.  I don’t know if these things happen to you but subjects tend to spring up on me like that - in the span of a week I’ll hear something mentioned, or read it in passing and then someone else will mention and then I’ll come across it again and…anyway, it’s as if the universe wants me to know about the subject right at that moment.  Anyhow, I’m glad I listened this time because “Tanny’s” is a beautiful, inspiring  and tragic tale and her dancing is honestly some of the most beautiful ballet footage I’ve seen. Talk about a Monday Muse...

Tanaquil Le Clercq on Don Juan's Reckless Daughter Monday Muses

Born in Paris to an American mother and a French father, Tanny won a scholarship to the prestigious School of American Ballet in 1941 at the ripe old age of 11.  She was soon taken under the wing of George Balanchine (the father of American Ballet) and quickly progressed through the ranks - eventually becoming a principal dancer for the New York City Ballet in her late teens. By 1952 she and Balanchine were married, she was 23 and he was 48.  Balanchine began to feature Tanny heavily in productions and started to create ballets specifically inspired by her for her to perform.

with George Balanchine 

In the most heartbreaking twists of fate, three weeks after her 27th birthday, while on tour in Europe with the NYCB, Tanny began to complain about not feeling well.  A day or two later she was diagnosed with Polio, quarantined and put into an iron lung for several weeks.  She eventually returned to the states but despite Balanchine's best attempts at rehabilitating his muse, Tanny would never fully recover - She never walked, or danced, again.  Balanchine rather obviously, in my humble opinion, soon turned his attention to a younger up and coming prima ballerina and hastily divorced Tanny.  Though I will point out that he never did remarry and they remained close throughout his life.

Years later she was convinced by a dancer friend to start teaching ballet at his school in Harlem. The hope in her story is that she went on to live a full life even though she was confined to her wheelchair. She died in 2000 at the age of 71. 

I highly recommend watching the documentary if you are a fan of ballet or are curious about her story. It's a reminder that life can change in an instant and so often does. 

Monday, August 4, 2014

Monday Muses: Anna Karina

Anna Karina on Don Juan's Reckless Daughter

This week's muse - actress, fashion icon, writer, and director, Anna Karina - is understandably a blogger favorite but it just didn't feel right to leave her out.  She is the quintessential muse, widely known because of her work with infamous new wave director (and one-time husband), Jean-Luc Godard.  Though her face pops up on many a tumblr and blog feed, I’m not certain that many people know about her back story or of her off-camera relationship with Godard.  I figured I’d shed a small shred of light on that (or at least what I know about that) while I am at it!

Originally from Denmark, Anna (born: Hanne Karin Bayer) grew up under rather turbulent circumstances; bouncing between her mother, maternal grandparents and foster homes.  By her late teens she had decided to run away to Paris but with no real plan, no money to speak of and no real grasp of the french language, it proved a bit of a challenge. As fate would have it, she would soon be discovered by a modeling agency scout at the famed Les Deux Magot café on the Left Bank and the rest, as they say, is history. She became a moderately successful commercial and fashion model - even working with Coco Chanel at one point (who allegedly encouraged Anna to change her name if she wanted to become "a star" - and Coco would know!).  

Anna Karina on Don Juan's Reckless Daughter

                                                   (Elle Magazine - 1959)

Enter: Jean-Luc Godard, who saw Anna in a television commercial for bath soap (the ad featured her in a tub with some strategically placed bubbles) and immediately tried to cast her in a supporting role in his upcoming film, "À Bout De Souffle" (aka: Breathless).  Here is a clip of her telling the story of their first encounter and how she turned that part down - which I love…

Not long after she would accept a (fully-clothed) role in his film, “Le Petit Soldat”, and the duo would soon dive head-first into a romantic relationship (here is another, rather saucy, story about the beginnings of their romance). They married in 1961 and continued making a series of wonderfully inspired films together including: Band of Outsiders, Une Femme est Une Femme, Vivre sa Vie, Alphaville, Pierott Le Fou...   

 Their relationship has been described as a tumultuous yet passionate affair.  It's mostly speculation but some have pointed to Jean-Luc's obsession with directing and his career as the reason for the marriage's demise.  They finally divorced in 1965 but did continue to work together for a while even after that.  Alas, by 1967 they reportedly were no longer on speaking terms.  Each moved on. 

Anna married four, count em... FOUR more times (Godard twice more) so I think she came out alright in the end.  She also went on to successfully collaborate with people like Serge Gainsbourg, Tony Richardson, and Jacques Rivette, among many others. 

Suggested viewing: "Une Femme est Une Femme","Band of Outsiders","Pierott Le Fou"...and, if you can get your hands on it, "Anna" (the musical) which includes this very important scene... ROLLER GIRL (which, very sadly, Youtube will not allow me to embed! :( 

Happy Monday, mes amis!  Au revoir! x
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