Two for the Road
Art & Bernie Take
a Final Bow Together
Their careers never intersected and yet they shared more than just the proximity of their ages and final days, starting with their Jewish heritage and tumultuous early life in Philadelphia, where Arthur Penn was born on 9/27/22, and New York City, where Tony Curtis was born as Bernard Schwartz on 6/3/25.
Both were prolific professionals known mainly for two masterpieces; Penn for “Bonnie and Clyde” and Curtis for Billy Wilder’s “Some Like it Hot.” They became involuntary members of that rarefied elite, those who despite being snubbed by the Academy, enjoyed public and critical acclaim. The coincidences stop here, though.
Curtis went on to excel also as a painter and a serial husband, leaving a huge family and one certified movie star, his daughter Jamie Lee Curtis. Penn, whose celebrated photographer Irving passed away last year, is survived by his wife of 55 years, Peggy Maurer.
To both, our deepest gratitude for the memories.
Brazilian Music Mourns
the Loss of Paulo Moura
One of Brazil’s most influential musicians, composer and clarinetist Paulo Moura, passed away July 12. A truly heir to Pixinguinha, to whom he dedicated a tribute album and several recordings, Moura carved a place of his own and participated in the country’s most important musical movements of the 20th century.
From the beginning, this classically trained musician mastered the traditional Choro art form that predated Samba, and free fooled around with its countless varieties and combinations with Afro-percussion rhythms, dance music, jazz, be-bop and everything in between.
His subdued personality was a contrast to the exuberance of his musical daring and precision of his execution. Equally distinguished were his classical and jazz recordings, where he showcased intimacy with different genres, mirroring his approach to Brazilian popular music, known by its acronym in Portuguese, MPB.
Paulo Moura was at that famous 1962 Bossa Nova concert at Carnegie Hall in New York, that practically reintroduced Brazilian music to a wider audience. As he became highly regarded as a sideman, his reputation among musicians grew exponentially, culminating with the start of his own recording career in the late 60s.
Perhaps the quality to forever encapsulate his accomplishments as a musician and composer will be his eclecticism. His was an uncanny ability to combine apparently divergent musical traditions into a seemingly mix. He even called one of his best albums “Mistura & Manda” (“Mix it Up and Send it Out,” in a very free translation).
But if Colltales had to, unfairly, choose a favorite album of his, it’d be “Urban, Suburban and Rural Confusion” from 1976. To fully appreciate this set, which combines traditional choros with experimental tracks, some Gafieira tunes (dance music) and aching melodies played on his exquisite clarinet and so much more, there’s just one sure way: repeatedly.
Paulo Moura, dead in Rio de Janeiro at 77. Rest in peace, old trooper.
Ecology Hero Rests
Now in Green Peace
Jim Bohlen, who along with Irving Stowe and Paul Cote, founded Greenpeace in the late 60s, died this past July 5 at 84. A born and bred New Yorker, Bohlen and his friends turned an idealistic concept into a practical, effective and vibrant organization, to which we’re all in deep debt.
Greenpeace is now synonymous with the fight against nuclear power, the extinction of whales and countless other animal species, pollution and so many more environmental causes that, otherwise, would be at the mercy of higher power and commercial interests.
His was one of those thankfully long lives we all wish it had lasted even longer. And in a way, it definitely will. Jim’s fearless advocacy and unbreakable faith in the preservation of earth’s nature is one of the 20th century greatest personal legacies.
Jose Saramago, who once said that “words were not given to man in order to conceal his thoughts,” died Friday at the Canary Islands after a long illness. He was the first Portuguese writer to win the Nobel Prize of Literature, in 1998. A vowed atheist, he engaged in controversy with the Catholic Church and left Portugal for good in the early 1990s, after the government refuse to allow his book “The Gospel According to Jesus Christ” be in competition for an European literary award. The book depicts Jesus losing his virginity to Mary Magdalen and being used by God for world domination.
A Communist Party member, he was politically active during the fall of the Portuguese dictatorship in 1974. Although he sold more than two million books, he became better known in 2008 when a movie based on his novel “Blindness” reached a worldwide audience.
Jose Saramago, dead at 87. R.I.P.
So Long, Dennis Hopper
Last Ride for a
He trail blazed to fame with his “Easy Rider” (1969), and to critical acclaim at least twice thereafter: eulogizing madness in Francis Coppola’s “Apocalypse Now” (1979) and as one of the silver screen’s greatest psychos, in David Lynch’s “Blue Velvet” (1986). Hopper, who died May 29 at 74, started early and good, with brief roles in Nicholas Ray’s “Rebel Without a Cause” (1955), and Stuart Rosenberg’s “Cool Hand Luke” (1967). He directed, photographed, painted, bought art, fought ex-wives, voted for the Bushes, acted some more and once said, “There is no evil in me. I just wear tight underwear.” Dennis, you’ll be missed.
Pioneer singer and actress, the first black performer to sign a long term Hollywood studio contract, Lena Mary Calhoun Horne (6/17/1917, 5/9/2010) died in Manhattan at 92. A sultry voice and stunning beauty, she became friends in the 50s with iconic figures of the black and civil rights movement such as Paul Robeson and W.B.E. DuBois. It’s hers the defitive recording of Harold Arlen and Ted Koehler” Stormy Weather. She’ll be greatly missed.
Dear Mr. Fantasy
Frank Frazetta (2/9/1928-5/10/2010)
A legacy of highly intricate imagery and a fantastic world of warriors and beautiful, barely-clad women will outlast the artist and illustrator who died Monday in Florida at 82. In the 1940s and 50s, he drew comic strips of “Lil’ Abner” and “Flash Gordon” and created covers for “Buck Rodgers” stories. It’s also his “Conan the Barbarian” and the movie poster for the 1964 movie “What’s New Pussycat?” in 1964. Fantasy lovers world over will mourn his passing.
LYNN & FURIO
Two for the Ages
* Lynn Redgrave (1943/2010), actress – Member of a stage and film royalty family, she joins brother Corin and niece Natasha Richardson (her father, Michael, passed away in 1985) in the great beyond. We love sister Vanessa and niece Joely Richardson, but there’ll never be another Lynn. Watch “Gods and Monsters,” 1998, about James Whale, who directed “Frankenstein,” 1931 . Or her Oscar-nominated role in “Georgy Girl,” 1966.
* Furio Scarpelli (1919/2010) screenwriter – A prolific Italian writer and a fixture of ‘cinecitta‘ from the post-war era to the 1990s, Scarpelli wrote and/or collaborated in hundreds of films, including Mario Monicelli‘s “Big Deal on Madonna Street,” 1958, Sergio Leone‘s “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly,” 1966, and the Oscar-nominated screenplay for Michael Radford‘s “Il Postino,” 1996. But if you’d to watch just one of his works, pick Ettore Scola‘s “We All Loved Each Other So Much,” 1974.