Portrait of actress Ena Hartman in the television show, “Dan August.” Label on back: “CBS, exclusive to you in your city. Dan August. Ena Hartman stars as homicide bureau secretary Kay Grant, in ‘Dan August,’ the action-filled series to be presented Wednesdays (8:00-9:00 PM, EDT) on the CBS Television Network, beginning May 23. Subject: Ena Hartman. Program: Dan August. On air: Wednesday, May 23, 8:00-9:00 PM, EDT. Photo Division, CBS Television Network Press Information, 51 West 52 Street, New York, New York 10019. 5/4/73."
Courtesy of the E. Azalia Hackley Collection of African Americans in the Performing Arts, Detroit Public Library
USA. California. Berkeley. 1971. Black Panther co-founder Huey Newton hugs Central Committee member Elaine Brown at his house shortly after his release from prison on August 5, 1970. Brown later became chairman of the Panthers.
The Velvet Underground and Nico, released 50 years ago tomorrow (there is actually some disagreement on the exact date), is the definitive way-ahead-of-its-time album. With a near-peerless collection of songs — nearly all written by frontman Lou Reed — and an iconic, banana-sticker cover designed by band benefactor Andy Warhol, this jarring and innovative collection was initially a cult success at best, with no hit singles and a “peak” of No. 171 on Billboard’s albums chart in December 1967. But the world eventually caught up with it, and for the past 30 years it’s had perennial placement on best-ever lists, including No. 13 on Rolling Stone’s 2012 “500 Greatest Albums of All Time” tally.
It’s the first album to truly combine a novelist’s gritty realism with equally confrontational rock music, yet it’s also a fount of soft, vulnerable songs like “Femme Fatale” and “I’ll Be Your Mirror” — songs that are all the more poignant because you can sense, somehow, that the sensitive soul who wrote them is also kind of an asshole.
Still, it was initially considered a commercial failure, selling approximately 60,000 copies in its first two years — not bad, but no More of The Monkees. This was due partially to a legally induced (more on that shortly) factory recall that removed the album from shelves just as its Warhol-driven publicity was peaking. But that certainly wasn’t the only challenge to its commercial prospects; the group’s ensuing albums met an even more dismal commercial fate, and a disillusioned Reed left the band in August, 1970. Despite his solo success, The Velvets’ catalog gradually slipped out of print over the next few years.
The Velvets gradually assumed their proper, lofty place in rock history, their oeuvre was reissued in the U.S. in 1984 (although The Velvet Underground and Nico’s cover was a single-sleeve reduction of the original gatefold with a printed banana instead of a sticker). Thus another generation of obsessives was spawned. And on and on.
Yet the most atypical obsession of those five decades may be that of veteran music publicist and longtime Velvets fan Mark Satlof, who collects original pressings of the album. He owns more than 800 of them – he’s actually not sure exactly how many – which are neatly filed on shelves in his study. They account for an estimated 1 percent of all copies manufactured in the U.S. before March 1969.
Born in 1881, Anita Loos spent her childhood in San Francisco. At the age of eight, her father urged Loos and her sister to
begin acting in a stock company. Although acting made money for Loos and her
family, she held dreams of being a writer. By 1911, Loos would be introduced to
short films through the theater where she acted, which would play the reels after performances. She would soon try her luck writing screenplays and soon be writing and sending in scripts to the Biograph company. Her scenario The New York Hat
would be the first to be produced. By 1915 she had moved to Hollywood, where D.W
Griffith secured her a job on the payroll at the Triangle Film Corporation, making her the first writer to ever be put on a payroll at a production company. She
would go on to write a number of sucessful action films for Douglass Fairbanks. Her films were
often noted for their witty intertitles and Photoplay would go on to dub Loos
as” The Soubrette of Satire”
because of this. Throughout the 10’s and 20s,
Loos screenwriting career would continue to prosper. By 1925 Loos would publish
her most famous work Gentlemen Prefer
Blondes which would be adapted into a film starring Marilyn Monroe and Jane
Russel in 1953 (although she had no part in this particualr adaption). The novel proved popular enough that she would be able to adapt her novel for the Broadway stage not soon
after and write a sequel, But Gentlemen Marry brunettes in 1927. Although she
took a break due to marital issues she would return to writing for the silver
screen with Red Headed Women and
continue to write for MGM throughout the 1930s. In 1936 she would win an
Academy Award for the film San Francisco.
She would write the screenplay for one of the most famous films of the 1930s, The Women in
1939. Although she was apprehensive about changes the censors required, the
film has gone on to remembered for its sharp dialogue that only Loos could have
written. Throughout the 1940s she continued writing for the screen and stage.
By the 1950s her biggest contribution would be the stage adaption of Collette’s
Gigi, starring the then unknown Audrey
Hepburn who Loos claimed to have discovered in a hotel lobby in Monte Carlo. By
the 1960s she would go on to begin writing a volume of memoirs which she would
continue to do into the 1970s. On August 18,
1981, Loos would die from natural causes.