Archive for the ‘ Famous Love Affairs ’ Category

What Knockers!

Today is Mel Brooks Birthday!

This is a re-run, I’ve got lot’s going on…check in tomorrow for something new!

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At first glance, it seemed one of the stranger matches of the 20th century: the serious, award-winning dramatic actress, and the man whose imagination introduced both flatulence around an Old West campfire and a singing-dancing Adolf Hitler to cinematic history.

Melvin Kaminsky met Anna Maria Louisa Italiano back stage at a rehearsal for the Perry Como Show in 1961, and four years later they were married at New York City’s City Hall.

All their friends were skeptical.

She was the poised, accomplished star of Broadway and screen, he, the irreverent comedic writer, actor, and producer.

She, a Roman Catholic, he, Jewish-ish; no one thought it would work.

He once said, “…I’m rather secular.  I’m basically Jewish.  But I think I’m Jewish not because of the Jewish religion at all.”

After her death, in 2005, he said, “You know, it (the marriage) took because Anne and I both grew UP during the marriage, we both grew UP, we both knew what was really important, and what love meant, and … what doing for each other meant.”

They were an encouragement to one another.

He credited her with much of his success, saying that it was Anne who was the guiding force behind The Producers and Young Frankenstein.

Seen on screen together a mere three times, but were a “power couple” in Hollywood.

Their only child, Maximillian was born in 1972.

He said, “…we were glued together…” until her death in 2005 from uterine cancer.  Her death came as a surprise to many, even some of her friends.  She was an extremely private person when it came to home, health, and family.  And in reality, they were a private couple.

But on stage and screen, they were Mel Brooks and Anne Bancroft!

Mel and Anne

And their Hollywood marriage lasted 41 years.

I’m a little tied UP this week – so hopefully you’ll forgive this re-run.  It’s an important story that bears repeating.

It ran over five years ago.  Yesterday was the 50th anniversary of Loving v. Virginia, a landmark Supreme Court case.

Enjoy!

Mildred and Richard Loving

I have always been taught that we all came from Adam, and after that Noah, who had three sons.  One white-ish, one dark-ish, and one Jew-ish.

Well, maybe it isn’t all that simple.  But, as Christian and one who reads the Bible: one God, one story of creation, one flood, one people.

Yes, we’re all different.  But, is anyone really white or black?  Aren’t we just all shades of gray?

Sadly, that’s not so now, and wasn’t so in most of the US for centuries.

The Racial Integrity Act of 1924, a law forbidding the marriage of persons of different races was on the books in the Old Dominion and wasn’t over turned until the Supreme Court said it was unconstitutional in 1967.

Richard Loving and Mildred Jeter were married in the District of Columbia since they couldn’t be married in their home state of Virginia, because she was black and native American, and he was white.

1967 The Lovings

Lily white!’

UPon coming home to Caroline County, VA, they were arrested, charged with violating Virginia’s law banning the marriage between any white person and any non-white person.  They were charged under Section 20-58 of the Virginia Code.  It prohibited interracial couples from marrying out of state, and then moving back into the Commonwealth.

They had been found sleeping in their bed – together. The pervy cops who entered their home had hoped to find them engaged in sex, which would have been another charge.  Mrs. Loving pointed to her marriage license on the wall.  Rather than that sacred document defending them, it became evidence.

A Loving Welcome Home

The law classified ‘miscegenation’ as a felony, punishable by prison.  One to five years to be exact. In January of 1959, the couple pled guilty, were sentenced to a year in prison, with the sentence suspended for 25 years providing they leave the state.

The judge, The Honorable Big Stupid Bigot Leon M. Bazile, quoted Johann Friedrich Blumenbach’s 18th century mantra of race, said, “Almighty God created the races, white, black, yellow, malay, and red, and he placed them on separate continents.  And but for the interference with His arrangement there would be no cause for such marriages.  The fact that He separated the races show that He did not intend for the races to mix.”

I’m sure he was a hit at the Klan rally that night!  And frankly, I don’t know why God put different races on different continents, but I will say, I find it unlikely that He would have allowed us to invent methods of transportation so that we could meet if it wasn’t OK.

I know, that sounds rather simplistic.

The couple moved to DC.  The ACLU took UP their case, and to make a long legal story short, it wound UP before the Supremes.  Diana Ross being married to two white men said, “bullshit brotha” The VA laws were eventually struck down.

Oddly enough, seems no one in Virginia knew that the races have been mixing in that state since the first slaves landed. Really, look around.  It gives a whole to meaning to the word color blind.

The Lovings had three children.

The Loving Family

Richard was killed in a car wreck in 1975.  Mildred, a passenger in the car lost her eye.  She died in 2008. Her daughter, Peggy Fortune said, “I want people to remember her as being strong and brave yet humble – and that she believed in love.”

When commemorating the 40th anniversary of Loving v. Virginia, Mildred said, “It wasn’t my doing, it was God’s work.”

True love ways can over come just about anything!

She never thought herself an agent of change, only a woman in love.

They Started It.

We’ve had Cagney and Lacy, Castle and Beckett, Marshall Dillion and Miss Kitty, and countless other wisecracking couples to entertain us over the years, but the granddaddy and grandma of them all are Nick and Nora Charles.

Nick and Nora first appeared in 1934 in Dashiell “Hammett’s final novel, The Thin Man.

Allegedly based on Hammett’s own relationship with his long time lover, Lillian Hellman, Nick and Nora, their witty banter, and their dog, Asta, became the model for most of the romantically linked detective duos to follow.

OK, OK, So Cagney wasn’t in love with Lacy.

Considered one of the seminal texts of the mystery novel genre, the novel gave way to a series of movies starring William Powell and Myrna Loy.

The plot line leads us to solve the mystery as we fall in love with Nora’s sarcastic, boozy banter and we watch a reluctant Nick get dragged along.

The film adaptation of the book was a huge success, and though Hammett never wrote another novel with Nick and Nora Charles in it, there were five movie sequels.

The original film, unlike much Hollywood fare, followed the novel closely.  One major change was the casting of William Powell.  Nick Charles in the book is described as “…overweight and out of shape.”  Powell was neither.

Nora, portrayed by Myrna Loy, was the driving force in all the intrigue and mystery.

The thin man character in the title was actually Clyde Wynant, a murder victim Nick and Nora are hired to find.  But over time, the viewing public began to see Nick as the thin man of the films.

The on screen chemistry between the two, who often improvised and who were often mistaken for a real couple, was key to the success of the films.

But, The Thin Man didn’t just entertain us, according to historians; it changed the way we looked at marriage.

Marriage in film had been portrayed as staid, earnest, solid.  Nick and Nora invigorated it with youth, irreverence, and sex appeal.

And of course, there was the dog.

Who doesn’t love a dog?

Asta helped solve murders, find killers, and made us love wire fox terriers more than we should.

Nick and Nora may not have been real, but the characters entertained us, enlightened us, and made us smile a little.

Mad, Bad, and Dangerous to Know.

In British Peerage, she’s known simply as the Honorable Caroline Ponsonby and Lady Caroline Lamb.

She was married to the man who would, after her death, become Viscount Melbourne, Lord Melbourne, and the Prime Minister of The United Kingdom, and Queen Victoria’s favorite.

William Lamb, Lord Melbourne

She would never be Lady Melbourne nor the Prime Minister’s wife, she died before all that, and for those of you watching Victoria on PBS this may help to clear UP a conversation or two between Victoria and Lord M.

Lady Caroline Lamb was best known for her literary efforts and her affair with Lord Byron.  This is where we’ll spend today’s time.

Just as war was breaking out between The UK and The USA for a second time, in March of 1812, Lady Caroline launched into a scandalous, infamous, and well publicized affair with the “quirky” poet.  And why not?  After all, he was pretty dreamy for the day.  He was a playah to say the least.

At first, Lady Caroline rebuffed his attentions.  Byron had a rep, he was clearly bi-sexual, had had affairs with many more than most in his 24 years, and Lady Caroline described him as “mad, bad, and dangerous to know.”

That he was.

But, something called her to him. So much so, she actually wrote him a “fan” letter – pretty forward stuff for 1812.  Ladies just didn’t do that.

But, alas, Lady Caroline was no Lady!

Byron, now that she was interested in him, thought at first to ignore her advances, but as she was the niece of the Duchess of Devonshire, he decided to pursue her passionately; her high social status could help him.

The couple denied the affair publicly but privately pledged their troth from March to August of 1812. When he began to call her Caro, she insisted everyone else do the same.

But, it was a fling, a fancy, a fluke.  It didn’t last.

Byron ended it, and Caroline’s husband carted the poor brokenhearted girl off to his Irish estate.

Absence did make the heart grow fonder, and her ardor did not cool.

She wrote.

He wrote back…and made it abundantly clear he was no longer interested.

Her pursuit of the poet became cause célèbre, and a public campaign to reunite her with Byron ensued.

The couple meet again at Lady Heathcote’s ball, and in the heat of a July evening Byron publicly insulted his former lover causing her to break a wine glass and slash her wrists.

Society was scandalized, Lady Caroline was rescued, her mental state questioned, and Byron, ever the rogue, referred to it as just so much theater, claiming, “…Lady Caroline performed the dagger scene.”

Nice guy!

But alas, she persisted.

Her obsession with the poet defined her later career and life.  It actually influenced his work as well.

They wrote poems in one another’s styles, they wrote poems about one another, and blatantly planted messages to each other in their work.

Her Ladyship’s obsession with Byron was so intense, she stalked him, and during one attempt to gain entry into his home wrote “remember me” in the flyleaf of one of his books.

He responded with this:

Remember thee! Remember thee!

Till Lethe quench life’s burning stream;

Remorse and shame shall cling to thee,

And haunt thee like a feverish dream!

Remember thee!  Ay, doubt it not.

Thy husband shall think of thee!

By neither shalt thoug be forgot.

Thou false to him, thou fiend to me!

Move.Over.Taylor.Swift!

As to the jilted husband; despite the efforts of his own mother to rid the family of Lady Caroline, William Lamb considered Byron treacherous and supported his wife until her death.  He agreed to a formal separation in 1825; he dated, she dated, there was no hypocrisy, it became an open marriage.

She stayed at Brockett Hall, the ancestral home of Lamb.  He continued his political climb.  She began to drink and abuse laudanum, and by 1827 was under the constant care of her doctor.  Her frail frame began to shut down, she retained fluids – then called dropsy – and as she lay dying, the cuckolded Chief Secretary of Ireland made a perilous crossing and was at her side when she died in January of 1828.

Byron had died, from a violent fever at the hands of ignorant Greek physicians, four years before.

He was still mad, bad, and dangerous to know.