Amelia Earhart: Flying High

amelia1There have been few women who have made as much of an impact on history as the legendary aviator and author, Amelia Earhart. She was born Amelia Mary Earhart in Atchison, Kansas, on July 24, 1897. Amelia’s mother, Amy, did not believe in raising either Amelia or Amelia’s sister, Grace Muriel Earhart, to be “nice little girls”. Rather than playing with dolls, both children enjoyed hunting rats, climbing trees, and “rough-and-tumble” play. Growing up, Amelia also exhibited a large interest in reading, recalling later that she spent countless hours in the vast family library. Although Amelia experienced a tremendous amount of unhappiness growing up, she always had a tendency to focus her sights on women who had been successful in their chosen fields. In fact, she kept a scrapbook filled with photos of women who  inspired her. However, in one of her school yearbooks, she was described as “A.E.—the girl who walks in brown alone.”

 

After Amelia visited her sister in 1917, and she saw the wounded soldiers returning from taking part in the disastrous World War I, Amelia Earhart decided to train to be a nurse’s aide for the Red Cross. A year later, she developed health problems resulting from her arduous work at the Spandina Military Hospital during the Spanish Flu Epidemic. In November of 1918, Amelia was hospitalized for pneumonia. At this same time in her life, she also developed maxillary sinusitis, which ended up affecting her immensely in her later years.

Amelia clearly did not perceive what her life’s purpose was until she had explored other avenues. In 1919, she signed up at Columbia University to pursue a course in medical studies. However, destiny intervened. Not long after she returned to California, to live once again with her parents, Amelia and her father visited an airfield where she was given a free ride in a airplane by air racer, Frank Hawkes. Earhart said later, “By the time I was two or three hundred feet off the ground, I knew I had to fly.” Earhart was a plucky lady who possessed the kind of determination that it takes to get to the top of your chosen profession. She was willing to dedicate herself to her career, even though she knew there would be plenty of opposition she would be compelled to face. Earhart cut her hair short, donned a worn leather jacket, and bought her own bright yellow Kinner Airster biplane, which she nicknamed “The Canary”. When she received her pilot license on May 15, 1923, Earhart was only the 16th woman to accomplish this feat. By 1927, she had managed to accumulate over 500 miles of solo flying. One year later, Earhart gained notoriety by becoming the first woman to fly solo across North America and back. In spite of having her share of detractors, Earhart was becoming a celebrity. She was hailed as “The Queen of the Air”, and many magazines and newspapers began referring to her as “Lady Lindy”, noting her resemblance to famed aviator, Charles Lindbergh. She began promoting and endorsing various products, and stores like Macy’s even sold a line of clothing that was supposed to mimic Earhart’s sleek, practical, yet feminine style.

amelia2In keeping with her lack of conformity in other areas of her life, Earhart also had radical ideas about marriage.  Her husband, George P. Putnam, proposed to her six times before she actually agreed to accept him, and, when describing her marriage, Earhart referred to it as a “partnership” with “dual control”. The wedding itself took place on February 7, 1931, and there wasn’t a honeymoon.

Earhart made several solo flights before her planned world flight in 1937. After a failed attempt to make this flight, a second attempt began on June 1 of that year, when Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan, left Miami, Florida, finally arriving in Lae, New Guinea, on June 29. It was on July 2, 1937, that Earhart took off from Lae, and, at approximately 8:43 that morning, Earhart transmitted her last known broadcast. There has been an immense amount of speculation as to what happened to Earhart and her plane. An aura of mystery surrounds the event, and, even to this day, Earhart’s disappearance remains one of the most interesting missing person cases.

hilary1Earhart is going to be portrayed by the two-time Oscar-winning actress, Hilary Swank, in a new biopic film about the remarkable aviator. Might Swank garner yet another Oscar for her depiction of this inspirational dame?

To read more about Amelia Earhart, her life, and her adventures, don’t miss checking out this remarkable site paying tribute to her: http://www.ameliaearhart.com/

 

Also, you can watch a portion of a documentary film on Amelia Earhart, entitled “Where’s Amelia Earhart?” by going  here:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rUR8r06EtVE

 

 

 

(photos: Amelia Earhart, a classic headshot of the striking lady; Earhart, looking sassy and self-assured; actress Hilary Swank, who will be portraying Earhart in a new biopic film)

 

This page and all written material at The Success Diva pages is written by Alexis Wingate. All rights are reserved. (C) Copyright by Alexis Wingate. The Success Diva

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Nick Drake: Brilliance, Lost Too Soon

The Success Diva is feeling impetuous today, and this means she’s capable of nearly anything! I’ve featured two very ‘traditional’ creative geniuses thus far in my Inspirational People category. So, it’s time to shake things up a bit. . .and I promise you, you’re going to love the fact that I’m feeling completely and utterly unpredictable.  In general, I am a diva who leans heavily towards classical music, in terms of the music I like to listen to most. I begin every day with Mozart, and I find myself listening to Bach, Chopin, and other similar composers while I’m writing and editing my blog updates, dashing missives off to friends, and networking. I do opt for John Lennon and/or “The Beatles” at times, and there are other specific non-classical singers/groups that are favorites of  mine. 

nickdrake2

But this was one man I didn’t know about until one of my closest friends shared his music with me. His name is Nick Drake, and, if you haven’t ever heard his  music before, I almost envy you. To hear Nick sing and play for the first time is to experience something magical, haunting, and extraordinary. Nick Drake was  born in England on June 19, 1948. He was highly skilled at playing the guitar, in addition to the clarinet, piano, and saxophone. When he was 20-years-old, Nick released his first album, Five Leaves Left with Island Records. He was ambivalent about performing before live audiences, and none of his albums, including Pink Moon and Bryter Layter sold more than 5,000 copies when they were initially released.

Those who knew Drake describe a man who seems to have been enigmatic and complicated. Robert Kirby, a Cambridge friend of Drake’s who orchestrated his first two albums said, “Nick was in a strange way out of time. When you were with him, you always had the sad feeling of him having been born in the wrong century. If he would have lived in the 17th Century Elizabethan Court, together with composers like Dowland and William Byrd, he would have been alright. Nick was elegant, honest, a lost romantic—and at the same time so cool. In brief: the perfect Elizabethan.”

Regrettably, like so many of those who are creatively gifted, Nick suffered from deep depression. Indeed, he had manic-depressive disorder (now also called bi-polar disorder) and also battled insomnia. He completed his third album, the unforgettable Pink Moon in 1972, and, after that he ceased performing and recording. He moved back into his parents’ home in Warwickshire, and, on November 25, 1974, he was found dead from an overdose of amitriptyline, a prescribed anti-depressant. Nick Drake was just 26-years old.

Nick Drake has not been forgotten, though I’ve been unable to find very many sites paying tribute to him on the web. You can find out a little more here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nick_Drake

However, I think that you might be even more enlightened in regard to Nick, his life, and his music from watching a clip from a documentary that was made about him, “A Skin Too Few”  It is an amazing documentary, in four parts, featuring rare interviews with those who knew Drake (including his sister), in addition to clips from some of his most memorable songs. This is a link to Part One:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_R7vzeEVoV0

 

nickdrake-pinkmoon

 

Nick Drake’s song, “Pink Moon,” has been a favorite of mine ever since I first heard it. Don’t miss hearing it here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hE0ODrmaiFE

 

 

 

 

This page and all written material at The Success Diva pages is written by Alexis Wingate. All rights are reserved. (C) Copyright by Alexis Wingate. The Success Diva

An Immortal Composer: Frederic Chopin

My category honoring inspirational people is brand new. Of course, this blog hasn’t been around very long as it is, has it? I must confess, many of the people who have inspired me the most have lived in another time. They created their books and paintings and music and poetry in a century far removed from the world in which we live in today. Does this mean we cannot learn anything from them, though? Of course not. Indeed, we can probably learn more from those who have come before us than we can possibly imagine.

chopin-profile

 

 

 

 

The man I want to focus on today is the brilliant Polish composer and virtuoso pianist, Frederic Chopin. I’m sure many of you have heard some of his music, even if you don’t know a great deal about his life. The vast and lasting contribution Chopin made to music cannot be overestimated. In real life, he was an attractive yet reclusive pianist, physically fragile yet emotionally passionate. “A man of exquisite heart and mind,” the French painter, Eugene Delacroix once said. Fredric Chopin was born on March 1, 1810. He was regarded as a  ‘child prodigy’ when he was growing up. Later, these prodigious gifts that were so evident in the precocious young boy exceeded anyone’s expectations. Although the majority of Chopin’s compositions were created for solo piano, he was a remarkably innovative composer, inventing such musical forms as the ballade and revolutionizing the structure of the piano sonata, nocturne, prelude, etude, and waltz. In a mere thirty-nine years, Chopin contributed a long list of pieces that have become staples of the piano repertoire as well as beloved classics for those who are lovers of 19th century classical music. Chopin died on October 17, 1849 from chronic pulmonary tuberculosis. He will never be forgotten.

                       chopin-piano

 

Do you have to enjoy classical music to appreciate Chopin? I would have to answer ‘no.’ I think that anyone who has the soul of a poet or who enjoys romantic films or books would have to enjoy the music of Chopin. The composer has been depicted in many films, including the 1945 production directed by Charles Vidor, “A Song to Remember” (actor Cornel Wilde portrayed Chopin). More recently, a film called “Impromptu” centered around the relationship between Frederic Chopin and the writer and scholar, George Sand, played by Hugh Grant and Judy Davis respectively.

chopin-tombstone

 

To learn more about Chopin—his life, his compositions, etc.—please go here:

http://www.geocities.com/Vienna/1795/chopin.htm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 To hear one of my favorite interpreters of Chopin’s compositions, the Italian pianist  Maurizio Pollini, go here:

pollini1

 

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6cxkLZoEFEk

 

 

 

 

(photos: from top to bottom—Chopin, the composer and pianist depicted in profile; Chopin’s piano; the tombstone of Frederic Chopin; Maurizio Pollini, at the piano)

 

This page and all written material at The Success Diva pages is written by Alexis Wingate. All rights are reserved. (C) Copyright by Alexis Wingate. The Success Diva

Portrait of an Innovative Artist: Marc Chagall

Portrait of an ArtistPromenade

Success Diva pays tribute to the legendary and highly innovative artist, Marc Chagall. Born on July 7, 1887, Chagall was highly skilled in nearly every artistic medium.  He was adept at illustrating books, creating stained-glass windows, theatre sets, tapestries, fine art prints, and more. Chagall has been called one of the most influential artists of the 20th century, and his art is beloved by both art connoisseurs and those who merely appreciate his bold, vibrant, striking use of color. Chagall’s ingenious paintings convey a spirit of exuberance, passion, and enthusiasm, and the art critic, Robert Hughes, referred to him as “the quintessential Jewish artist of the 20th century.” Much of Chagall’s work defies classification, for he was a true individual who did not conform to any specific ‘style.’ However, he is most closely associated with the art movements of Surrealism and Expressionism. Pablo Picasso once said, “When Henri Matisse dies, Chagall will be the only painter left who understands what color really is.”  Marc Chagall died on March 28, 1985. He was 97.

“We all know that a good person can be a bad artist. But no one will ever be a genuine artist unless he is a great human being and thus also a good one.”                                                                                                                                                                                                                      ~ Marc Chagall~

 

To see more of Chagall’s artwork, check out this site: http://www.chagallpaintings.org/

For a website entirely devoted to Chagall, go here: http://www.marcchagall.narod.ru/

                             

(At the top of the page: Chagall, the artist at work (unspecified date). Below:  Chagall’s masterpiece, Promenade.  1917. The Russian Museum, St. Petersburg)