Director George Cukor was born on this day
American director George Cukor was born on this day in 1899. He made his mark as a director in Hollywood in the 1930s and continued to make films until the early 1980s.
Among his many successful films are A divorce certificate (1932) starring John Barrymore and a young Katherine Hepburn. He again worked with Hepburn on Little woman the following year, continuing to do Romeo and Juliet, Women, The History of Philadelphia and A star is born.
A low point in Cukor’s career came in 1939 when he was fired from the film Carried away by the wind. Cukor had spent over two years in pre-production and oversaw the casting of the lead roles. He was replaced just a few weeks after filming began.
At the Oscars in 1964, Cukor won the Best Director statuette for his film adaptation of the musical. My beautiful lady.
Winning the award for best director was a case of “fifth time is a charm” for Cukor. He had already been nominated in 1932 for Little woman, in 1940 for The history of Philadelphia but lost to Rebecca, her third nomination in 1947 was for the film A double life and he returned to the Oscars for the fourth time in 1950 with Born yesterday.
It was an open secret in Hollywood that Cukor was gay and his Sunday afternoon parties were legendary and that he was considered the leader of the gay subculture in Los Angeles. In the Netflix miniseries Hollywood, Daniel London played a fictional version of Cukor.
He continued to make films in the 1970s, his last film dates from 1981 Rich and famous with Jacqueline Bisset and Candice Bergen. During his career he has collaborated with many prominent actors including Jane Fonda, Ava Gardner, Elizabeth Taylor, Maggie Smith, Laurence Olivier, Dirk Bogarde, Michael York, Cyd Charise, Marilyn Monroe, Sophia Loren, Gene Kelly , Lana Turner, Judy Holliday and many others.
Cukor died in 1983 after suffering a heart attack. He was 83 years old.
Composer Gian Carlo Menotti was born in Cadegliano-Viconago that day in 1911.
Menotti was born in Italy and began his musical training there, his mother then sent him to America where he enrolled at the Philadelphia Curtis Institute of Music. Among his classmates were Leonard Bernstein and Samuel Barber.
Menotti and Barber became a couple and often worked together. After graduating, they bought a house together in My Kisco, New York. They named their home Capricorn, and it was their artistic retreat for over 40 years. Barber is best known for his 1936 work Adagio for strings, as well as numerous operas and classical music pieces.
Menotti wrote operas and ballets, symphonies and concertos. A prolific composer, his works include operas The phone, Amélie is going to the ball, The island god and The last savage. Two of his works received the Pulitzer Prize, The consul and The rue Saint de Bleeker.
In 1970, he ended his long relationship with Barber, as Barber struggled with depression and alcoholism. They remained friends until Barber’s death in 1981.
In 1958 Menotti established a festival in Spoleto, Italy which aimed to bring opera to the masses, a sister festival was established in the United States in 1974. Menotti came to Australia in 1986 where he premiered the Melbourne Spoleto Festival. He retired after three years and retained the naming rights, the festival is now the Melbourne International Arts Festival.
In 1974, Menotti adopted 36-year-old figure skater Francis ‘Chip’ Phelan as his son, he had known Phelan since the 1960s. Phelan took the name Menotti.
The phone was premiered in 1947 in a double program with another work by Menotti. Menotti died in 2007 at the age of 95.
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