- Yesterday marked the 50th anniversary of the release of Joni Mitchell’s Blue. Generally regarded as the greatest album ever by a female artist, Blue is a gorgeous, heartbreaking ode to the ups and downs of romantic love. Mitchell wrote and produced the entire album herself, which was inspired by her relationships with Graham Nash, James Taylor and Cary Raditz.
- On this day in 1989, Tim Burton’s Batman premiered. The film featured Michael Keaton as Batman – a controversial choice as he was primarily known as a comedic actor and the studio wasn’t certain he could pull off the role – and Jack Nicholson as the Joker. Batman earned about $250 million, easily winning the box office race for the year, and won the Academy Award for Best Art Direction.
This piece contains some amazing behind-the-scenes photos of the shoot.
- Dancer, choreographer and film director Bob Fosse was born on this day in 1927. Fosse went to Hollywood in the 1940s with dreams of becoming the next Fred Astaire. After choreographing a dance sequence in 1953’s Kiss Me Kate, Fosse found success on the Broadway stage, choreographing such shows as The Pajama Game, Pal Joey, Sweet Charity, Pippin and Chicago, and winning nine Tony Awards in the process. He parlayed that success into directing films like Cabaret (for which he won the Best Director Oscar), Lenny and the semi-autobiographical All That Jazz. Fosse’s signature dance moves include the use of turned-in knees, sideways shuffling, rolled shoulders, jazz hands and the “Fosse Amoeba”, as seen in this sequence from Sweet Charity. Fosse died in 1987 from a heart attack.
Fosse got the SNL treatment with this 2013 skit starring the brilliant Christina Applegate.
- Today is the divine Frances McDormand’s 64th birthday. A three-time Best Actress Academy Award winner (for those keeping score, McDormand just needs one more to tie Katharine Hepburn for the all-time record), McDormand was introduced to movie audiences – and husband Joel Coen – in 1984 with Blood Simple. She has made a career of playing complex, multi-dimensional women in films like Fargo, Almost Famous (a personal favorite), Moonrise Kingdom and Nomadland, and in TV series such as Olive Kitteridge. The winner of Oscars, Golden Globes, BAFTAs, Emmys, SAGs and a Tony, McDormand is deservedly one of the most decorated actors of all time.
- “My Sharona” by The Knack was released on this day in 1979. Catchy as hell (or annoying as hell, depending on your viewpoint), “My Sharona” was a smash hit, holding the #1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 for six weeks. The song entered the charts again in 1994 after it was featured prominently in Reality Bites.
- Stuart Sutcliffe was born on this day in 1940. Sutcliffe met John Lennon at the Liverpool College of Art, and briefly played bass with The Beatles before leaving the band in 1961 to pursue an art career. Sutcliffe died of a brain hemorrhage in 1962. The lovely 1994 film Backbeat tells the story of Sutcliffe’s relationships with Lennon and Astrid Kirchherr.
- Author and screenwriter Richard Matheson died on this day in 2013 at the age of 87. Matheson’s work was a huge influence on Stephen King and George A. Romero, and his stories were made into films like I Am Legend, Somewhere in Time, What Dreams May Come and Stir of Echoes. Matheson adapted one of his short stories for the television film Duel, Steven Spielberg’s directorial debut, and wrote for a number of television series, most notably The Twilight Zone.