Edward Munch Lillian Smith
Three people who certainly did things their way were born today: the Norwegian painter, Edvard Munch (1863); Novelist and Segregation and Lynching critic, Lillian Smith (1857) and yes, Ol’ Blue Eyes, the Man himself, Frank Sinatra (1915).
Munch was quite ill as a youngster and endured the deaths of his mom, sister when he was really young and then later on, while a young man, his dad and his brother. One of his sisters suffered from a mental illness. At 45 Munch had a nervous breakdown and he also was an alcoholic. Much personal turmoil went into his famous painting, “The Scream.”
“For as long as I can remember I have suffered from a deep feeling of anxiety which I have tried to express in my art. Without anxiety and illness I should have been like a ship without a rudder.” -Edvard Munch
Lillian Smith’s slim novel, “Strange Fruit” with its black hardcover stood on the book shelf in my home as a youngster and I read it as a teenager. The book was published in 1944 years after Abe Meeropol’s song with the same title was released and became associated with Billie Holiday. Smith’s book, in spite of being banned in some cities, went onto become a bestseller and was translated into several languages. Lillian Smith came from a comfortable southern family; went to Peabody School of Music; taught in China; Ran a camp; founded a literary magazine in North Carolina that published writings by both black and white authors and continued throughout her life to speak out on racial injustice, segregation, lynching and never backed down.
“When you stop learning, stop listening, stop looking and asking questions, always new question, then it is time to die”-Lillian Smith
Ol’ Blue Eyes was a favorite of my dad’s and he had many of his LPs. My husband and I inherited some of those LPs and also enjoy listening to Frank Sinatra croon a tune…there is no better. Frank Sinatra was active in supporting Civil Rights…”In 1945, he appeared in, produced and won an Oscar for the 1945 short film “The House I Live In,”Â a plea for tolerance. Later, he put his own career at risk when he refused to play hotels in Las Vegas that would not allow blacks to stay there. He was, actress Angie Dickinson recalled, “a very powerful, subtle force in civil rights not only in Las Vegas.” The repercussions never worried him. “When I believe in a person or an idea or a cause,” Sinatra once said, “I go all out in my efforts regardless of possible consequences.”–Steve Pond, Sinatra.com
December 12th, 2013…3 creative individuals born today and did it their way.
“There are 10,000 books in my library, and it will keep growing until I die. This has exasperated my daughters, amused my friends and baffled my accountant. If I had not picked up this habit in the library long ago, I would have more money in the bank today; I would not be richer.”-Pete Hamill, Journalist/Author
I’m not sure how known Pete Hamill is outside of NYC, but I’ve enjoyed his newspaper columns and books for many years. Like me, Pete Hamill was born in Brooklyn, in the Park Slope section. He may be known in some quarters as a long time paramour of Shirley MacLaine…after reading her daughter’s memoir, I wonder how he lasted so long with Ms MacLaine! He also dated Jacqueline Kennedy. Pete Hamill is a REAL New Yorker…loves baseball…enjoyed a drink and thankfully stopped his drinking life in the 70s. “Alcohol seems always to have played a role in Hamill’s life. Some of his first memories are of his father, Billy Hamill-who lost a leg to gangrene after he was injured in a soccer game-coming home drunk. Or of his father spending time in neighborhood bars and the young Pete thinking, ‘This is where men go. . . . This is what men do.’ At the same time, fascinated by comic books, Hamill recounts how-in a bit of symbolism heavy enough to trip over-he realized that the comic heros got many of their secret powers from drinking secret formulas. ‘The comics taught me . . . that even the weakest human being could take a drink and be magically transformed into someone smarter, bigger, braver.”–Interview with Pete Hamill, 2/15/94, Conducted by Janet Cawley, Chicago Tribune
He stopped drinking cold turkey and continued writing. Hamill has written about: baseball, growing up in Brooklyn, art, comic books, and many other subjects. He is also the author of numerous short stories and novels.
Pete Hamill is 78 today, he’s been writing for over 50 years. Read his entire bio here.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY PETE HAMILL, BROOKLYN, NY IS PROUD!