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Tuesday, January 20, 2015

January 20, 1993

Okay, so today happens to be the 20th of January.  In the northern hemisphere, it can be one of the colder days in the whole year.  In the southern hemisphere, it is one of the warmest.  And every four years it is the designated date for the inauguration of the newly-elected President of the United States of America. 

Of course, we will have to wait until 2017 for the next one to take place, so why don't we take the time to have another edition of the Tuesday Timeline while we wait?  Just think, we only have 104 more of these to go until the next President takes office!

Interestingly enough, this entry is not about a president or politics.  I just opened up with it because I just needed a cool intro.  However, I will say that today's subject is one that exhibited genuine class and beauty with every single project she took part in.  That will be your only clue.

For now, we should probably have a look at the other events of January 20.

1649 - Charles I of England goes on trial for treason and other "high crimes"

1783 - A peace treaty is signed between Great Britain, France, and Spain, thus ending hostilities in the American Revolutionary War

1841 - Hong Kong Island is occupied by the British

1887 - The U.S. Senate allows the U.S. Navy to lease Pearl Harbor as a naval base

1920 - Actor DeForest Kelley (d. 1999) is born in Toccoa, Georgia

1929 - The first full-length talking motion picture filmed outdoors - "In Old Arizona" is released

1941 - A German officer is murdered in Bucharest, Romania, sparking rebellion and pogrom by the Iron Guard

1945 - Germany commences with the evacuation of over 1.8 million people from East Prussia during World War II

1954 - The National Negro Network - initially comprised of 40 charter member radio stations - is established

1981 - Iran releases fifty-two hostages from captivity the very same day that President Ronald Reagan is inaugurated

1986 - The very first observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day as a federal holiday takes place, one day after what would have been King's 57th birthday

1987 - Terry Waite is kidnapped in Lebanon, not to be released from captivity until November 1991

1990 - Actress Barbara Stanwyck passes away at the age of 82

1992 - Air Inter Flight 148 crashes into the side of a mountain in France, killing eighty-seven passengers

2003 - Actress Carrie Hamilton - the daughter of Carol Burnett - dies of cancer at just 38 years of age.  Actress Nedra Volz also passes away on this date at the age of 94

2012 - Singer/songwriter Etta James dies of leukemia, just five days before her 74th birthday

I also want to take the time to wish the following famous faces a very happy birthday; Rudy Boesch, Buzz Aldrin, Pierre Lalonde, Linda Moulton Howe, Rick Evans, Eric Stewart, David Lynch, Liza Goddard, Paul Stanley, Colleen Zenk, Lorenzo Lamas, Tami Hoag, Will Wright, James Denton, Greg Kriesel, John Michael Montgomery, Sophie - Countess of Wessex, Stacey Dash, Rainn Wilson, Melissa Rivers, Mitch Benn, Kerri Kenney-Silver, Edwin McCain, Skeet Ulrich, Gary Barlow, Questlove, Sid Wilson, Matthew Tuck, Crystal Lowe, Joe Swash, and Evan Peters.

All right.  So, let's have a look at what today's Tuesday Timeline date is.

Okay, so we are going back in time twenty-two years to January 20, 1993.

And in order to help me out with introducing the subject of this blog, I thought I would introduce a one-hit-wonder song courtesy of the group Deep Blue Something.

Yes, "Breakfast at Tiffany's" was the group's lone hit, released in 1995.  But have you often wondered where they got the inspiration behind the title of the song?

Well, it comes courtesy of a film released in 1961 entitled - wait for it - "Breakfast at Tiffany's".  The film is a romantic comedy with the famous New York City jewelry store serving as the backdrop as we explore the living and the loving of one Holly Golightly.

The film "Breakfast at Tiffany's" was considered to be one of the best films made during the 1960s.  It was nominated for five Academy Awards, had one of the most memorable pieces of music ever heard in motion pictures (which I will post a little later in this blog), and was preserved by the National Film Registry in the Library of Congress in 2012.

And it only further cemented Audrey Hepburn's status as one of the most respected film stars of her era, and perhaps of all time.

Yes, Audrey Hepburn happens to be the star of today's Tuesday Timeline.  The significance of January 20, 1993 in relation to Hepburn?  That will come later.

For now, here's a brief biographical sketch of this lovely lady.

She was born in Belgium on May 4, 1929 with the given birth name of Audrey Kathleen Ruston (meaning that she was not related to another famous Hepburn - Katharine), and raised in England.  But because of her father's job with a British company and her mother's family hailing from the Netherlands, Hepburn proved that she was not just a pretty face.  She learned five different languages by the time she was a young woman.

She also pursued an interest in the performing arts from the age of five, where she studied ballet.  She had quite a couple of life-altering events take place when she was young - the marriage of her parents ended abruptly and World War II forced the family to relocate to The Netherlands while England was under attack.  Hepburn even had to temporarily go under a German name while she was in school as an English sounding name during the German occupation was considered to be one of the worst things that one could have.  Despite this, Hepburn continued to pursue ballet, using her talents to secretly raise money for the Dutch resistance.  She was also very affected by the amount of suffering that she was seeing all around her at the height of the war, noting that people were starving and freezing on the streets because of the German occupation, and these scenes would impact Hepburn in later years.

After the war ended in 1945, Audrey relocated to Amsterdam where she continued her ballet training, and three years later, Hepburn made her very first filmed appearance.  Granted, it was in a piece that was more or less a travel film entitled "Dutch in Seven Lessons", but that little travel film was enough for her to pursue a different career route.  It was just as well anyways.  Because of her height and malnutrition during wartimes, she never would have made it as a prima ballerina.

Hepburn started her career as an actress by first working as a chorus girl at the local theatre scene.  She performed in "High Button Shoes", "Sauce Tartare", and "Sauce Piquante" in London.  And after a few elocution lessons, Hepburn found herself appearing in minor roles in such films as "One Wild Oat" and "The Lavender Hill Mob".

But it was when she was cast in the Broadway play "Gigi" in 1951 that Hepburn really began to get noticed.  The play ran for 219 performances from November 1951 to May 1952, and earned Hepburn a Theatre World Award for her work.  That lead to Hepburn's first starring role in a motion picture, playing the role of Princess Ann alongside Gregory Peck in 1953's "Roman Holiday".

True story.  Initially, the movie poster was to have Gregory Peck's name in star billing text while Audrey's name was to be below it in much smaller font.  It was Peck who argued that Audrey should share star billing with him and that her name be the same size as his in the poster.  His reason for standing up for Audrey?  He knew she would be a big star - and he didn't want to look like a big jerk in the process!

It seemed like such an insignficant detail in comparison, given that the film was a cinematic masterpiece.  But the film earned Hepburn an Academy Award for Best Actress!  On her first starring role, no less! 

The same year that "Roman Holiday" was released, Hepburn's image appeared on the cover of TIME Magazine, debuting what would come to be known as the classic "Audrey Hepburn look".

Needless to say, once she won that Academy Award, she basically earned herself a seven-film contract with Paramount Pictures.  And believe me when I tell you that Hepburn's contract was a really sweet deal.  Not only was she contracted to seven films, but she was given a break of twelve months in between each film which would allow her to perform on stage at the same time! 

And some of those films that Hepburn made during that time?  1954's "Sabrina", 1956's "War and Peace", 1957's "Funny Face", and, of course, 1961's "Breakfast at Tiffany's". 

Audrey Hepburn certainly proved herself to be one of the greatest actresses of the 1950s and early 1960s.  And after appearing in fifteen consecutive films - all of which did very well at the box office - Hepburn went into semi-retirement to be with her family, though she still appeared in a few projects here and there.  Her last credited role was in 1989 where she made a cameo appearance in "Always".  

But by the time the 1980s rolled around, Hepburn had become involved with the international charity UNICEF, and was named a Goodwill Ambassador for the charity.  Between 1988 and 1992, Hepburn traveled to such places as Ethiopia, Turkey, Central America, Sudan, Bangladesh, and Vietnam to raise awareness for immunization and to install potable water systems for communities.  She became the face of UNICEF for several years, and she genuinely enjoyed her work as a humanitarian.

And, I am sure that had she lived long enough, she would have continued to be a symbol of hope for those who needed it the most.

You see, that's how today's date ties into Audrey Hepburn.  In September 1992, Hepburn began to experience abdominal pains, and it was discovered that she had inoperable abdominal cancer.

On January 20, 1993, at her home in Switzerland, Audrey Hepburn passed away.  She was just 63 years of age.

And although her life was cut tragically short by disease, her legacy still remains.  She was a warm and loving woman who saw how people suffered first hand and wanted to help them.  She was also a well-respected actress who showed dignity and class in every performance she gave.

Audrey Hepburn was the kind of woman that was an inspiration to all of us.  And on the twenty-second anniversary of her passing, we still remember her.  To close this blog off...a piece of music from "Breakfast at Tiffany's".

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