peoples Celebrities Database

Today's Birthday: 2 December

  • Callas, Maria
  • Crosby, Cathy Lee
  • Davis, Loran Alan
  • Frid, Jonathan
  • Furtado, Nelly
  • Gaxton, William
  • Gordon, Leo (I)
  • Heredia, Wilson Jermaine
  • Liu, Lucy
  • Sofer, Rena
  • Spears, Britney
  • Walston, Ray

    Today's Peoples

     

    Callas, Maria

    The volatile opera diva was born in New York City to Greek emigrees in 1923. Her father set up a pharmacy and changed the family name from Kalogeropoulos to Callas. Maria studied the piano as a child. When her parents separated (she was 14 at the time), her mother returned to Athens with Maria and her sister. Maria was quickly accepted into the National Conservatoire and abruptly changed her stage name to Maria Trivella. She performed her first recital within the year and in 1939 won a prize for her stage debut in the Conservatoire's production of "Cavalleria Rusticana." In 1941, the coloratura soprano made her professional debut in "Boccaccio" with the Lyric Theatre Company, for whom she would go on and make a semi-name for herself in performances of "Tosca" and "Fidelio." Impending war led her back to the United States in 1944 where she reclaimed the name of Maria Callas. Turned down by the Met, Callas performed elsewhere (Chicago, etc.) at first. She returned to Europe in post-war years and met Giovanni Battista Meneghini, a wealthy industrialist and avid opera fan, who married her in 1949 and immediately took control of her career. She reached her zenith at La Scala (1951-1958), also recording during that time. In 1956, she finally made her debut at the Met as "Norma" with performances of "Tosca" and "Lucia" following. Within a couple of years her temperamental outbursts and demands began to rise full force, resulting in a number of firings and walkouts. After meeting Greek shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis through her husband, a torrid affair erupted and her marriage was soon finished. In the early 60s, Callas gave up the stage for the jet-set life with Onassis, but continued with occasional concerts. She made one outstanding, unforgettable comeback, however, on stage (1964-65), which included a series of personal favorites ("Norma" in Paris and "Tosca" at the Met), despite experiencing vocal problems. Weak and tired, her final curtain on the stage went down in July of 1965 in Covent Garden. Her career now over, she renounced her American citizenship expecting to marry Onassis. But their relationship was a stormy one and it eventually tapered off. Instead, Onassis married 'Jacqueline Kennedy (I)' in 1968. Maria was completely devastated and, most say, she never fully recovered. The following year she filmed an unsuccessful production of 'Medea (1970)' and eventually set up master classes at Juilliard. In one last comeback, she attempted a European tour of recitals but her voice failed her and they were deemed unsuccessful. Her last public performance was on November 11, 1975. Riddled by sadness and despair, and now firmly addicted to sleeping pills, Callas turned reclusive in her last year and died in 1976. Despite a career that flourished less than two decades, Callas must be respected as one of the most important and recognizable opera legend, certainly one of the most emotive and visually dramatic. What also carries her today is, of course, her turbulent and tragic private life -- often being considered the Judy Garland/Edith Piaf of opera. - Author: Gary Brumburgh / GBrumburgh@pacbell.net
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    Liu, Lucy

    Born to Chinese immigrants in Queens, New York, Lucy Liu has always tried to balance an interest in her cultural heritage with a desire to move beyond a strictly Asian-American experience. Once relegated to "ethnic" parts, the energetic actress is finally earning her stripes as an across-the-board leading lady.

    Liu graduated from Stuyvesant High School in 1986 and enrolled in New York University; discouraged by the "dark and sarcastic" atmosphere of NYU, however, she transferred to the University of Michigan after her freshman year. She graduated from UM with a degree in Chinese Language and Culture, managing to squeeze in some additional training in dance, voice, fine arts, and acting. During her senior year, Liu auditioned for a small part in a production of 'Alice in Wonderland' and walked away with the lead; encouraged by the experience, she decided to take the plunge into professional acting. She moved to Los Angeles and split her time between auditions and food service day jobs, eventually scoring a guest appearance as a waitress on '"Beverly Hills, 90210" (1990)' . That performance led to more walk-on parts in shows like '"NYPD Blue" (1993)' , '"ER" (1994)' , and '"X Files, The" (1993)' . In 1996, she was cast as an ambitious college student on Rhea Perlman's ephemeral sitcom '"Pearl" (1996)' . Liu first appeared on the big screen as an ex-girlfriend in 'Jerry Maguire (1996)' (she had previously filmed a scene in the indie 'Bang (1995)' , but it was shelved for two years). She then waded through a series of supporting parts in small films before landing her big break on '"Ally McBeal" (1997)' . Liu initially auditioned for the role of Nelle Porter, which went to 'Portia de Rossi' , but writer-producer 'David E. Kelley' was so impressed with her spunk that he promised to write a part for her in an upcoming episode. The part turned out to be that of growling, ill-tempered lawyer Ling Woo, which Liu filled with such aplomb that she was signed on as a regular cast member. The "Ally" win gave Liu's film career a much-needed boost--in 1999, she was cast as a dominatrix in the 'Mel Gibson' action flick 'Payback (1999)' , and as a hitchhiker in the ill-received boxing saga 'Play It to the Bone (1999)' . The next year brought even larger roles: first as the kidnapped Princess Pei Pei in 'Jackie Chan' 's western 'Shanghai Noon (2000)' , then as one-third of the comely crime-fighting trio in 'Charlie's Angels (2000)' . When she's not hissing at clients or throwing well-coiffed punches, Liu keeps busy with an eclectic mix of off-screen hobbies. She practices the martial art of Kali-Eskrima-Silat (knife-and-stick fighting), skis, rock climbs, rides horses, and plays the accordion. In 1993 she exhibited a collection of multimedia art pieces at the Cast Iron Gallery in SoHo (New York), after which she won a grant to study and create art in China. Her hectic schedule doesn't leave much time for romantic intrigue, but Liu says she prefers to keep that side of her life uncluttered. - Author: IMDb Editors
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    Davis, Loran Alan

    Award-Winning Composer and Conductor Loran Alan Davis was born in Baltimore in 1958 and was adopted by his parents Robert and Patsy Davis of Linthicum, Maryland. Loran displayed a unique habit of improvising on keyboards before he was ten. He graduated from Linthicum Elementary in 1970; Lindale Junior High in 1973; and Andover High School in 1976. He briefly attended Anne Arundel Community College in 1977 and studied Liberal Arts before dropping out early to earn money working various jobs in factories, warehouses, and data-entry. From 1970 to 1993, Loran supplemented his income with various organist and choir director positions while studying off-and-on over the years at the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore. His classes included music theory and history, musicology and research, composition, conducting, orchestration, and organ. Recently, Loran returned to college after twenty years to complete B.A. degrees in a demanding ten majors!: Integrative Arts (which includes Music, Film, Theatre, and Fine Arts), Anthropology, History, Classical and Ancient Mediterranean Studies, Religious Studies, Geography, Sciences (which includes Math, Astronomy, Biology, Chemistry, and Geosciences), Comparative Literature, African Studies, and American Studies. Despite his incredible academic and research responsibilities, Loran continues to compose. His interest in orchestral and film music started way back in 1968 when he saw 'Planet of the Apes (1968)' . Since that time he has composed in many different styles, instrumentations, and venues. His specialty, of course, is composing dramatic orchestral film music - but still finds time for concert hall work or recordings of electronic ambience. Mr. Davis was won four Renaissance Scholar Awards and three ASCAP Standard Awards. He is a member of ASCAP, The Society of Composers and Lyricists, The American Musicological Society, The Music Library Association, The Film Music Society, and many other organizations in the Arts, Humanities, and Sciences - including the International Golden Key Honor Society. Mr. Davis is President and CEO of L.A.D. Media Enterprises, a media firm that produces his compositions and those of his very talented wife, Lorie, who is a singer/songwriter and is published, with her husband, under their Hoof and Paw Music division. Loran hopes to reach his goal of scoring major Hollywood productions while continuing his research and educating the public to the wonders of music and the role it plays in film. In addition to his wife, Loran has two sisters and a brother; and a son, Matthew, from his first marriage. - Author: Narol Nalasivad
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