March 21 in the 20th Century

95 years ago…

Russell Albion “Russ” Meyer was born today in 1922. An American film director, producer, screenwriter, cinematographer, film editor, actor, and photographer. When 14 years old, his mother bought him an 8mm film camera. He made a number of amateur films at the age of 15, and served during World War II. Even then he already demonstrated a corny directing style and included nudity, like in scenes of naked GIs bathing in the Rhine in March 1945. He became a glamour photographer and would go on to shoot three Playboy centerfolds during the magazine’s early years, one of his wife Eve Meyer in 1955. He also shot a pictorial of then-wife Edy Williams in March 1973.

Celebrity-03-21-1922

Meyer was adept at mocking moral stereotypes and flagrantly lampooning conservative American values in films such as Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! (1965), Mondo Topless (1966) and Beyond the Valley of the Dolls (1970). He realized sex was a natural vehicle for satirizing values and conventions held by the Greatest Generation. Hi lifelong fixation on large breasts featured prominently in all his films and is his best-known character trait. The majority of his stars were naturally large breasted and he occasionally cast women in their first trimesters of pregnancy as it enhanced their breast size even further.

Russ Meyer died at his home in the Hollywood Hills, from complications of pneumonia, on September 18, 2004, aged 82. His headstone reads: “RUSS MEYER King of the Nudies, I was glad to do it.”

55 years old today…

 

American comedian, actress, author, and television personality, Roseann “Rosie” O’Donnell and American actor, Matthew Broderick.

50 years old today…

British television and radio presenter, Adrian Chiles.

Celebrity-03-21-1967

1970 in…

…Doctor Who: The Ambassadors Of Death, starring Jon Pertwee as the Third Doctor, and Caroline John as Liz.  The Doctor joins UNIT to investigate the mystery of Mars Probe 7. Space Control has had no contact with the astronauts on board since it started back from Mars seven months ago. The Recovery 7 rescue mission returns to Earth, but the astronauts are kidnapped after landing and Liz Shaw notices that the Geiger counter is at maximum. The ship’s occupants were not the human astronauts but a trio of radiation-dependent alien ambassadors.

The_Ambassadors_Of_Death

The Doctor takes a flight in Recovery 7 and docks with Mars Probe 7. Intercepted by an alien spaceship and taken on board, he finds the real astronauts unharmed. The aliens’ captain threatens to destroy the Earth unless their three ambassadors are released. After returning to Space Control, the Doctor discovers the kidnapping of the ambassadors is part of a scheme by a xenophobic ex-astronaut to discredit the aliens and convince the authorities to wage war. The Doctor and UNIT thwart his plans and arrange the safe exchange of ambassadors for astronauts.

45 years ago today…

…in movies: American western The Cowboys opened in UK cinemas.  It starred John Wayne, Roscoe Lee Browne, Slim Pickens, Colleen Dewhurst and Bruce Dern. Robert Carradine made his film debut with fellow child actor Stephen Hudis, as cowboys. It was filmed at various locations in New Mexico, Colorado and at Warner Brothers Studio in Burbank, California. Based on the novel by William Dale Jennings, the screenplay was written by Irving Ravetch, Harriet Frank, Jr., and Jennings, and directed by Mark Rydell.

The Cowboys (1972)

Some critics debated the film’s implication that boys become men or confirm their manhood through acts of violence and vengeance.  Film historian Emanuel Levy noted “Aware of his repetitive screen roles as a paternal figure, [Wayne] said the movie was based on a formula that worked in Goodbye Mr. Chips and Sands of Iwo Jima. In all three, an adult takes a group of youngsters and initiates them into manhood by instructing them the ‘right’ skills and values. Wayne did not hesitate to appear in The Cowboys, despite the fact that ‘no actor in his right mind, would try to match the antics of eleven kids on screen,’ but for him it became ‘the greatest experience of my life.'”

The_Cowboys-1972

It is one of the relatively few films in which John Wayne’s character dies on screen. In 1974, Warner Bros. developed The Cowboys as a television series for ABC starring Jim Davis, Diana Douglas, and Moses Gunn. David Dortort, best known for Bonanza, and The High Chaparral, produced the series. Only A Martinez, Robert Carradine, Sean Kelly and Clay O’Brien were in both the film and the television series; the first two reprised their roles from the film, but the latter two did not. At the last moment, ABC decided to change the show’s format by reducing its run-time from one hour to one half-hour, a change which made it difficult to tell stories effectively with the show’s large cast. Only 13 episodes were filmed before the series was cancelled.

20 years ago today…

…in music: U2 went to No1 in the UK Album Chart for two weeks, with The Joshua Tree, achieving a 8x Platinum certification.

No1_Album-03-21-1987

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