"CONTROL YOUR own destiny, or someone else will," said entrepreneur Jack Welch.
•PEOPLE SEND me the most fascinating things! The other day I received a wonderful photograph of Judy Garland and Marilyn Monroe embracing. I love it because it is so dramatic, and because it came at a pivotal time in both women's lives. (I wish I could show it to you all, but just use your imagination!)
The candid shot was taken at the 1962 Golden Globes. Garland, still riding high on the mammoth success of her Judy at Carnegie hall album and a sensational series of concerts, was receiving the Cecil B. DeMille Lifetime Achievement Award. Monroe was making a rare Hollywood appearance to accept her award as World Female Film Favorite. (Though her box-office had slipped a bit, Monroe was second only to Elizabeth Taylor as "big news," still a riot-inducing star, and in Europe -- the GG's are given out by the Hollywood Foreign Press -- MM was idolized as sex-symbol and as an actress.)
Garland was in good condition, healthy, strong and relatively medication-free. The golden-voiced phoenix had risen again!
Marilyn looked ravishing in clinging green sequins, but she ended the night heavily under the influence, something that many columnists of the time hinted at. (Ah, the good old days of "hinting.") This would be Marilyn's last appearance before her show-biz peers. Within five months she was dead, her career and personal life in an apparent shambles.
Judy would film her final movie that year, in London -- I Could Go On Singing. Upon her return to the U.S. she was persuaded to embark on a weekly TV series. She was told the series would make her a wealthy woman for the rest of her life, instead it turned into her Waterloo. Garland would never really recover from this trauma. In 1969 she died, a shadow of her former magnificent self.
Monroe and Judy were Geminis and very true to their sign (if you put any stock in such things) and quite similar to each other, at their best and worst. They were both girls with curls in the middle of their foreheads. When they were good, they were very, very good, but when they were bad...get out of the way!
But frozen in time in the photo, at that moment of triumph for both, the future seemed plump with promise.
Hollywood history lesson, nostalgia session, over.
• IF THEY could give an Emmy award for a real-life TV moment, hands down the winner has to be MSNBC's usually acerbic and always brilliant Lawrence O'Donnell.
The anchor (although he insists he is NOT an anchor!) came back on the air last Monday night, after 75 days away, recuperating from a terrible Car crash in the Virgin Islands.
Lawrence has grown a rakish bit of a beard and maybe he is a bit thinner, but otherwise, he looks fine. (We were misinformed when we reported that he was absent because of "a fall." It was much worse than that!) He told his TV audience that he was going to recount the story of the accident and that we should be prepared for a few tears from him, citing the late Walter Cronkite as the only "anchor" in TV history to have shed a tear on air at JFK's death and gotten away with it. As it turned out, although Lawrence's voice was tight with emotion throughout his harrowing and inspiring tale, the tears being shed probably came from those of us watching.
You can read Lawrence's own story which appeared in The Daily Beast last Monday. It was moving simply to read his words. But nothing comes close to the man himself, telling it on air.
The unexpected crash of a taxi going only 30 mph, the initial feeling of being "lucky to be alive" and, at first, thinking he was not badly injured. (He had a smashed hip and his brother Michael had a broken femur.) He told of how people lifted them out of the car. His driver and the drunk who hit them escaped real injury. How forces at MSNBC sent help immediately to get the O'Donnell brothers back to the States and to the Hospital for Special Surgery.
The weeks of painful therapy, the extraordinary kindness of nurses and doctors and Lawrence gave a shout out to David H. Koch because of the gifts he has given to the Hospital and other charities in NYC and elsewhere. He said this didn't change his dismay at the Koch brothers in terms of their political funding. But he asserted how much good they do and that he himself is a recipient of that good. He praised his generous friends at MSNBC.
He said the entire experience of recovery had made him indifferent to the bad news going on in this old world and he offered his feelings in a simply beautiful, genuine segment, full of wonder at the generosity of so many.
He lightened the mood by having his fellow anchor, Rachel Maddow, bring him quickly up to date on all the happenings re Iraq since his accident. (This made current "history" at once laughable and put the sequence in its place vs. all those who want the U.S. again to "do something" and go military in the Middle East.) Rachel Maddow gave him the bad news in a sprightly, delighted fashion.
So welcome back, Lawrence. We, your admirers who think sometimes that you have gone too far, realize that it's all relative. We are just thankful to still have you with us -- liberal or conservative. And a speedy recovery to your brother also; as well as your charming praise for the fabulousness of having "a big brother."
But the best part was his praise for doctors, nurses and hospitals who save lives every day. "When," he asked, "have you ever saved a life!" It was a wonderful question.