Monday, April 30, 2012

Julia Louis-Dreyfus

Julia Scarlett Louis-Dreyfus was born on January 16th 1961 in Manhattan, New York.  She is an American actress best known for her role in Seinfeld as Elaine Benes.  One of my favorite female actresses of all time.
She was seen performing with Chicago's well known improvisational theater groups,  The Practical Theater Group and the renowned Second City.  It was then at one of her performances the former's "Golden 50th Anniversary Jubilee" that led to her being asked to join the cast of Saturday Night Live at the age of 21.
She was on Saturday Night Live for a few years from 1982 to 1985.  At the time Julia and cast member Abby Eliot were the youngest female cast members in history to be on Saturday Night Live.
She met up with writer Larry David during her career at SNL who would later co-create Seinfeld.  Recently Julia commented that her casting on SNL was a "Cinderella getting to go to the ball kind of experience".  She also admitted that at times it was often quite tense, stating that she "didn't know how to navigate the waters of show business in general and specifically doing a live sketch comedy show."
She appeared in almost all the episodes of Seinfeld excluding three of them.
Her father Gérard Louis-Dreyfus(also known as William Louis-Dreyfus), is a French attorney and business executive.  Her parents divorced one year after the birth of Julia.  Her mother Judith was a writer and special needs tutor.  Julia's paternal grandfather was Pierre Louis-Dreyfus (1908-2011).  He was a French Jew who fought in the French Resistance during World War II.  Both her paternal grandmother and her mother were American.
When Julia was eight years old they relocated to Washington D.C. and her mother married L. Thompson Bowles, Dean of the George Washington University Medical School.
Julia Louis-Dreyfus has two half-sisters on her father's side, Emma and Phoebe.  Through her father, a billionaire heir to the Louis Dreyfus Group, she had a cousin Robert Louis-Dreyfus (1946-2009), former CEO of Adidas and the owner of the Olympique de Marseille football/soccer team.  Her half sister Lauren Bowles is also an actress, appearing with her on Seinfeld, and The New Adventures of Old Christine.  Lauren was also in Veronica Mars and in the film Ghost World.
Julia Louis-Dreyfus spent her childhood in several states and countries in connection with her stepfather's work with Project HOPE, including Sri Lanka, Colombia and Tunisia.  She graduated from the Holton-Arms School in Bethesda, MD in 1979 and attended Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois where she studied theatre for several years before dropping out due to a professional acting job offer.
In 2007 she was invited back to Northwestern to receive an honorary Doctor of Arts degree.
Julia met her husband Brad Hall while she was at Northwestern and they married in 1987.  Brad Hall is a comedian and was on SNL as well.  They have two children together Henry born in 1992 and Charles born in 1997.
Julia stated once that she holds much respect for "women who are not afraid of making themselves look bad or foolish to get a laugh" and cites her acting idols as Lucille Ball,Mary Tyler Moore,Madeline Kahn, Teri Garr, Valerie Harper and Cloris Leachman.
I thought she was great in National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation and Curb Your Enthusiasm!  I guess more recently she's on the HBO show Veep.  Which I've had yet to see.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Roald Dahl

Roald Dahl was born in born in Whales. September 13th 1916 to November 23rd 1990. British novelist, short story writer, poet, fighter pilot and screenwriter. I grew up reading his famous kids books which were introduced to me by my 3rd grade teacher. I believe her name was Mrs. Klarich? Anyways, I got lost in his books. Recently I read this in the newspaper(and yes, to answer your question. Some people do still read the newspaper... Just not usually me). It stated "You know Roald Dahl for his kids' books, especially "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory," starring Willy Wonka.
You may not know that during World War II, Dahl worked as a British spy in Washington, D.C. Part of the job seemed to involve sleeping with Georgetown's wealthiest women, including, apparently, Clare Booth Luce. He also drummed up pro-British and anti-Nazi propaganda to battle elements of the American public that were against U.S. entry into World War II." I myself, did not know this about him. Roald's parents Harald Dahl and Sofie Magdalene Dahl (née Hesselberg)were both Norwegian . His father had moved from Sarpsborg in Norway and was said to have settled in Cardiff in the 1880's. As lovers do, his mother came over to marry his father in 1911. Roald Dahl was named after the polar explorer Roald Amundsen, a national hero in Norway at the time.
He spoke Norwegian at home along with his sisters Astri, Alfhild and Else. Roald and his sisters were christened at the Norwegian Church, Cardiff. After the War Roald married American actress Patricia Neal on July 2nd 1953 at Trinity Church in New York City. Roald and Patricia's marriage lasted for over 30 years and had 5 children during that time. Including Olivia,Tessa, Theo, Ophelia and Lucy. On December 5th 1960 something tragic happened. Their 4 month old Theo Dahl was severely injured when his baby carriage was struck by a taxicab in New York City.
For awhile he suffered from hydrecephalus and as a result Roald became involved in the development of what became known as the "Wade-Dahl-Till" (or WDT) valve, a device to alleviate the condition. Then in November 1962 Olivia Dahl died of measles encephalitis at the early age of 7. Roald Dahl subsequently became a proponent of immunisation and dedicated his 1982 book The BFG to his daughter. He must have had a rough time when later his wife Patricia suffered three burst cerebral aneurysms while pregnant with their 5th child Lucy. Roald took care of her rehabilitation and she eventually re-learned to talk and walk. She even returned to her acting career.
He ended up divorcing Patricia Neal though in 1983 and married Liccy Crosland. Rumor has it they had been previously in a relationship before the divorce from Neal? 1983 quote from Roald Dahl "There's a trait in the Jewish character that does provoke animosity ... I mean there is always a reason why anti-anything crops up anywhere; even a stinker like Hitler didn't just pick on them for no reason." Roald states that he was anti-Israel rather than anti-Semitic and he maintained friendships with a number of Jews including philosopher Isaiah Berlin who said "I thought he might say anything. Could have been pro-Arab or pro-Jew. There was no consistent line." In the 1986 New Years Honours List Roald Dahl was offered the Order of the British Empire (OBE) but turned it down.
He also is the father of author Tessa Dahl and grandfather of author, cookbook writer and former model Sophie Dahl as in Sophie in "The BFG".
James and the Giant Peach was one of the first books I've ever reak and it really opened up my imagination. Did you know that he wrote The Gremlins? Probably not the Gremlins your thinking of though. I also liked The Witches.
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