"It profits me but little that a vigilant authority always protects the tranquillity of my pleasures and constantly averts all dangers from my path, without my care or concern, if this same authority is the absolute master of my liberty and my life."

--Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

Friday, April 8, 2011

Birthdays Today

Today's best birthdays give us two actresses from times that are both long-forgotten and somewhat strange, as if the past is another country entirely.   The first is Mary Pickford, born in 1893.   Pickford was perhaps the greatest star of the silent film era, which produced some odd talents, many of whom, like Pickford herself, did not survive the advent of talking pictures in the late 1920s.   Pickford's last film was in 1933.

Sonja Henie was also born on April 8th, in 1912.   Henie was a world-class figure skater and Olympic champion in 1928, 1932 and 1936, and her fame in that sport led her to a surprisingly successful movie career in which she would inevitably have skating scenes (much like Esther Williams' swimming movies).   At one point, the combination of revenues from ice capade-like shows and her movies made her one of the wealthiest women in the world.    Here she is in her 1936 film, One in a Million:

A very odd genre, to say the least. I can't imagine a movie like this appealing to anyone nowadays; as I said, it's like you're looking at a different country entirely.

Henie and Pickford were both married three times.   I can't help thinking as I do many of these birthday posts that people who achieve a lot of fame and a lot of material success often aren't very happy in their personal lives.   I prefer being a "regular guy."  

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