Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Happy Birthday, Lynda Carter!

I just love 70's TV shows, and lately I've been watching the DVD first season of Wonder Woman that debuted back in 1975. So I thought I'd try doing a caricature of lovely Lynda Carter who played the title role, in honour of her birthday today. Like many fellows of a similar age who grew up with 70's TV shows, I must admit I had a big crush on Ms. Carter!

Lynda had only had a handful of small parts on TV and in film before being chosen to play Wonder Woman, but she turned out to be just perfect for the role. Having won Miss World USA pageant in 1972, Lynda was a statuesque beauty with a swanlike neck and big blue eyes. However, it was more than just her good looks that she brought to the role of Wonder Woman. Lynda was smart enough to know that the key to the character was in playing her with absolute sincerity (just like Christopher Reeve would do with Superman three years later). Despite there being an element of humour to the show, it was not what I would consider to be high camp, however. It tried to remain pretty true to its original comic book roots, including having an animated title sequence and text boxes to indicate where a new scene was taking place.

The character was an ageless Amazon, born and raised on the uncharted Paradise Island (set somewhere within the Bermuda Triangle, according to the pilot episode), and populated solely by females. So having made the journey from Paradise Island to America, Lynda Carter played the role as a wide-eyed innocent, not completely naive mind you, but initially unfamiliar with the ways of modern man in the outside world during World War II. Since the series was created in the 70's when the Women's Liberation movement was in full swing, there was some feminist leanings to the show. However, the feminism of Wonder Woman was of a gentle variety, as the character would often be aghast at the cruelty and warmongering of mankind, while extolling the virtues of her own female populated society that preached kindness and lived a harmonious and peaceful existence. It should be noted that Wonder Woman uses her powers only in the role of a peacekeeper, never becoming a fierce aggressor. Her desire to protect mankind is not unlike that of a mother doing all she can to protect her children. This is the aspect I appreciate about the show's particular brand of feminism - that compassion for others shows a greater strength of character than to wield force over them. How refreshingly different this is from today's female superheroes and forensic detectives etc, who all sneer cynically and aspire to be every bit as bad-ass as their male counterparts.

Incidentally, I'm happy to hear that Lynda Carter is still enjoying great success today in her other career as a singer, which is what she started out doing prior to pursuing acting. In fact, my caricaturist colleague, Sam Gorrie, who also does cosplay as Wonder Woman in Las Vegas, just recently got to see her idol in concert at the Suncoast Hotel, seen here. Pretty neat, huh?

So, once again, a very Happy Birthday to lovely Lynda Carter. I hope this classy and elegant woman continues to enjoy success while keeping her legion of fans entertained!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

So Long, Ernie!

I heard the sad news that Ernest Borgnine died today at the ripe old age of 95. What with this and the passing of Andy Griffith last week, we've lost two major stars of the classic TV era. Of course, apart from his starring role on McHale's Navy, Ernie was even more well known as a veteran character actor from the movies, earning an Academy Award for his poignant portrayal of the lonely New York butcher in the heartbreaking Marty, scripted by the brilliant Paddy Chayefsky.

It was just two years ago that Ernest Borgnine was a special guest at the Toronto Fan Expo, where he was signing autographs and chatting with his fans. Though I am certainly an avid autograph collector, I've made it my policy to only seek out celebrities that I actually really admire, which is why I attended the event that year specifically to meet Ernie, as well as Julie Newmar (the Catwoman on TV's Batman). As is often the case at Fan Expo, the longest line-ups of fans are usually found at the tables with the current crop of young actors and actresses from various sci-fi/fantasy movies and TV series. I feel sorry for the veteran performers who don't usually get as much traffic at their tables, although it works out well for me, as these are the only performers that I truly wish to meet.

As there were only a handful of people in line before me, I was able to meet Ernie fairly quickly. He greeted all of his fans with that familiar big gap-toothed grin and he was just so warm and inviting with everyone who came up to meet with him. Whereas some of the stars were not permitting photos to be taken (due to paid for photo ops being organized later in the day), Ernie was only too happy to pose for photos with his fans. I always ink up two originals of my caricatures so that I can present one to the star as a gift and get them to sign the second one for me, so that is what you see here in these pics that accompany this post. Ernie seemed genuinely delighted with my caricature of him in his role of TV's Quinton McHale.

Later in the day I noticed that there was nobody currently in line to see Ernest Borgnine, so I decided to use the opportunity to go up and chat with him some more, as I wanted to ask him about his costarring alongside Frank Sinatra in From Here To Eternity. He was happy to chat about his role in the film, adding that he thought Frank had a lot of courage to work for scale in that pic, as his career at that time needed a boost. He and Frank became good friends on that film (despite the fact that Ernie's character, "Fatso" beats Sinatra's "Maggio" to death!), and he said he was overjoyed when Frank earned the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor that year.

I've been fortunate enough to meet many film personalities that I've admired over the years, but Ernest Borgnine will always stand out among the rest, as he was honestly such a joyful and sweet man. In his honour, I just watched him again in Marty this evening - such a touching performance from a truly wonderful human being.