Femmes Fatales Nov 20 2011
PRICE OF FAME
Caught with her pants down.

Q: What do you do when you find yourself in the middle of a national scandal? A: Parlay the recognition into money. The above photo of Welsh-born party girl Mandy Rice-Davies made us think yet again of that question and answer. The first time we remember considering them (because Rice-Davies was before our time), was during the Bill Clinton/Monica Lewinsky scandal. Lewinsky appeared on the cover of a national magazine and an acquaintance of ours commented that she must be mortified by the entire situation. But we noted, “Not so mortified that she didn’t manage to get into an expensive photography studio and get these shots made.” Not an affordable thing for a D.C. intern with legal fees looming, but no problem for a person who has signed a representation deal and is being backed by managers.

Likewise this photo of Mandy Rice-Davies tells the world she isn't the least interested in hiding, but rather in embracing her unexpected fame, derived from her role—along with friend Christine Keeler—in the Profumo Affair that rocked Britain’s conservative government in 1963 with tales of wild parties, paid sex, and nuclear secrets. Rice-Davies used the notoriety she gained to release pop singles, open nightclubs bearing her name, and write an autobiography and a novel. She and Keeler weren’t the first ordinary citizens to rise to fame on the back of a sexual scandal, nor the first to use that recognition for their benefit, but their case seems like a historical marker, telling us we were entering fully into an age inwhich infamy, pain and public spectacle would rank equally with creativity and intelligence as undifferentiated collateral to be traded for cash. A culture of Hiltons, Kardashians and Joe the Plumbers speaks to this truth. You can read more about Mandy Rice-Davies here.

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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
March 02
1933—King Kong Opens
The first version of King Kong, starring Bruce Cabot, Robert Armstrong and Fay Wray, and with the giant ape Kong brought to life with stop-action photography, opens at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. The film goes on to play worldwide to good reviews and huge crowds, and spawns numerous sequels and reworkings over the next eighty years.
1949—James Gallagher Completes Round-the-World Flight
Captain James Gallagher and a crew of fourteen land their B-50 Superfortress named Lucky Lady II in Fort Worth, Texas, thus completing the first non-stop around-the-world airplane flight. The entire trip from takeoff to touchdown took ninety-four hours and one minute.
1953—Oscars Are Shown on Television
The 26th Academy Awards are broadcast on television by NBC, the first time the awards have been shown on television. Audiences watch live as From Here to Eternity wins for Best Picture, and William Holden and Audrey Hepburn earn statues in the best acting categories for Stalag 17 and Roman Holiday.
March 01
1912—First Parachute Jump Takes Place
Albert Berry jumps from a biplane traveling at 1,500 feet and lands by parachute at Jefferson Barracks, Missouri. The 36 foot diameter chute was contained in a metal canister attached to the underside of the plane, and when Berry dropped from the plane his weight pulled the canopy from the canister. Rather than being secured into the chute by a harness, Berry was seated on a trapeze bar. It's possible he was only the second man to accomplish a parachute landing, as there are some accounts of someone accomplishing the feat in California several months earlier.
1932—Lindbergh Baby Is Kidnapped
The twenty-month-old son of aviator Charles Lindbergh, Charles Augustus Lindbergh III, is kidnapped from the family home in East Amwell, New Jersey. Over two months later the toddler's body is discovered in woods a short distance from the home. A medical examination determines that he had died of a massive skull fracture. A German carpenter named Bruno Hauptmann is arrested, tried, and convicted for the crime. He is sentenced to death and executed in April 1936.
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