March may be designated as a period to recall Women’s History but regardless of whether people are paying attention to the fact – women have always been crucial figures in all aspects of civilization, be they famous or unknown.
Or, be they actress Lindsay Lohan, increasingly known for her dramatic partying instead of her dramatic career, or all-work, no-play physicist and chemist Madame Curie, the first woman to not only win a Nobel Prize – but two of them.
The seven men and women who link Lohan and Curie by degrees of separation are also famous for their achievements, their partying or both.
Regardless of the personal issues which may drive Lindsay Lohan (born 1986) into decisions which might sabotage her career, many of her entertainment industry colleagues recognized her early, considerable talents. Among them is screenwriter-actor-director Woody Allen. Longtime friends, they were seen together most recently on May 7, 2012, emerging from Philippe Chow in New York after dinner.
Woody Allen (born 1935), was also on friendly terms with legendary “King of Pop,” singer-performer Michael Jackson, when they met on August 24, 1977 at the famous Studio 54 disco, during a party Allen hosted for Cooper, the late son of heiress Gloria Vanderbilt and brother of journalist Anderson Cooper.
Michael Jackson (1958-2009) was contracted in 1985 to write his memoirs for Doubleday publishers, to be edited by former First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis in her capacity in that role. It was an unpleasant experience for her, Jackson unwilling to provide a substantive narrative and threatening to withdraw from the contract. Jackie Onassis had to make several trips to meet with him at his Encino, California home before finally shepherding the book Moonwalk (1988) into print. Ironically, it became the first best-seller Jackie edited.
On August 17, 1961, during her first summer as First Lady, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis (1929-1994) took an afternoon away from the Hyannis Port, Massachusetts compound of her husband’s extended family and helicoptered into Boston to catch a performance at the Colonial Theater of the play Sail Away, by playwright Noel Coward. He escorted her into the theater, along with her friend, the heiress Rachel Lambert “Bunny” Mellon, and then guided her backstage after the show, to meet the cast.
While in Hollywood, Noel Coward (1899-1970) was invited by writer-actress Mae West to join his friend, British actor Cary Grant to “come up and see me sometime.” So, in May of 1935, Coward and Grant paid a call at her Ravenswood Apartment home in the Larchmont section of Los Angeles. It was walking distance from Paramount Studio, where Mae West had chosen Cary Grant on the spot as leading man for her first starring feature film She Done Him Wrong (1933) and then, as she said later, “I had him a second time,” meaning she hired him again as leading man for her next feature, I’m No Angel (1933).
Although known best as a Hollywood movie star, Mae West (1893-1980) had earned notoriety on Broadway not just as an actress but a playwright of “sex comedies” in which she exposed societal hypocrisies on a variety of issues. In 1927, after a police raid on her play Sex about prostitution, which she wrote, produced and co-directed, she was convicted of “corrupting the morals of youth” and sentenced to ten days in prison. Three years later, she was again in court on public immorality charges for Pleasure Man, another play she wrote, based on her novel about homosexuality. During that trial her friend Texas Guinan came to court and during a recess nabbed an exclusive interview on April 1, 1930, with Mae West, published in the New York Journal.
Although she also had a regular New York Daily News column, Texas Guinan (1884-1933) first found fame as a Silent Era film actress. The Lone Star native was typecast as a cowgirl and even declared “Queen of the West.” Her public spirit moved her to ride an elephant down Broadway as a way of attracting attention to the sale of war bonds, during World War I. She also joined fellow actors in voyaging to France to entertain American troops stationed there during the war.
On August 24, 1920, she also met with the future President Warren G. Harding at his Marion, Ohio home which served as his campaign headquarters (she is often misidentified as actress Blanche Ring in pictures with Harding). Guinan went at the invitation of actor Al Jolson, who organized a dozen and a half actors and other performers to entertain voters and support Harding’s candidacy.
The buttoned-up public appearance with Harding was a few years before she earned Jazz Age notoriety as hostess of her own speakeasy “The 300 Club,” where scantily-clad dance girls performed on the tables of the little nightclub, packed tight with celebrities. Tex was hauled into court and saw the inside of the clinker numerous times but always protested that patrons brought their own booze and she wasn’t breaking Prohibition regulations.
Not unlike Tex, President Warren G. Harding (1865-1923) is usually remembered for bending Prohibition rules by serving the liquor confiscated by federal agents to his cronies at poker games in the private quarters of the White House. He was also a leader with progressive foresight, speaking out unequivocally for civil rights, funding technological and scientific advances, and planning to create a Department of Social Welfare, anticipating the later Departments of Health and Human Services and Housing and Urban Development. The rare political male who also welcomed the professional role of women in public life, Harding was the ideal President to welcome Madame Curie to the White House on May 20, 1921.
By then, Marie Skłodowska Curie (1867-1934) had become a living legend for her pioneering work in the new field of radiology. At an East Room ceremony witnessed by over one hundred French and Polish diplomats and scientists, Harding presented the Polish-born citizen of France a mahogany box containing a rare and expensive vial of radium, purchased by contributions of American women, so she could continue her work. She wore the same black dress she had appeared in to accept her two Nobel Prizes. In his speech, Harding remarked:
“To you we owe our knowledge and possession of it, and so to you we give it, confident that in your possession it will be the means further to unveil the fascinating secrets of nature, to widen the field of useful knowledge, to alleviate suffering…it will testify in the useful work to which you devote it, the reverence of mankind for one of its foremost benefactors and most beloved of women. The zeal, ambition, and unswerving purpose of a lofty career could not bar you from splendidly doing all the plain but worthy tasks which fall to every woman’s lot.”
As for Lindsay Lohan, or “LiLo” as the celebrity media used to call her, depending on the success of her court-ordered ninety days of addiction rehabilitation, there’s a chance she can go on to do dramatic work with a depth that challenges her once-heralded level of talent.
In fact, her one great iconic role may potentially in front of her.
Even without her nightlife-loving partying lifestyle and brushes with the law, Lilo bears more than a startling resemblance to Tex herself.
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- Lindsay Lohan: Sixth Mug shot Released! (justjared.com)
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- Lindsay Lohan Mug Shot: Somebody’s NOT Happy! (eyeoncelebs.com)
- Lindsay Lohan “remains a fan” of Justin Bieber after his Instagram outburst at her (mirror.co.uk)
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