luni, 31 octombrie 2011

Succes 2011: Clint Eastwood, american film actor, director, producer, composer and politician. Won Academy Awards for Best Director and Producer of the Best Picture, as well as receiving two nominations for Best Actor

Clinton "Clint" Eastwood, Jr. (born May 31, 1930) is an American film actor, director, producer, composer and politician. Eastwood first came to prominence as a supporting cast member in the TV series Rawhide (1959–1965). He rose to fame for playing the Man with No Name in Sergio Leone's Dollars trilogy of spaghetti westerns (A Fistful of Dollars, For a Few Dollars More, and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly) during the 1960s, and as San Francisco Police Department Inspector Harry Callahan in the Dirty Harry films (Dirty Harry, Magnum Force, The Enforcer, Sudden Impact, and The Dead Pool) during the 1970s and 1980s. These roles, along with several others in which he plays tough-talking no-nonsense police officers, have made him an enduring cultural icon of masculinity.
Eastwood won Academy Awards for Best Director and Producer of the Best Picture, as well as receiving nominations for Best Actor, for his work in the films Unforgiven (1992) and Million Dollar Baby (2004). These films in particular, as well as others including Play Misty for Me (1971), The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976), Pale Rider (1985), In the Line of Fire (1993), The Bridges of Madison County (1995), and Gran Torino (2008), have all received commercial success and critical acclaim. Eastwood's only comedies have been Every Which Way but Loose (1978), its sequel Any Which Way You Can (1980), and Bronco Billy (1980); despite being widely panned by critics, the "Any Which Way" films are the two highest-grossing films of his career after adjusting for inflation.
Eastwood has directed most of his own star vehicles, but he has also directed films in which he did not appear such as Mystic River (2003) and Letters from Iwo Jima (2006), for which he received Academy Award nominations and Changeling (2008), which received Golden Globe Award nominations. He has received considerable critical praise in France in particular, including for several of his films which were panned in the United States, and was awarded two of France's highest honors: in 1994 he received the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres medal and in 2007 was awarded the Légion d'honneur medal. In 2000 he was awarded the Italian Venice Film Festival Golden Lion for lifetime achievement.
Since 1967, Eastwood has run his own production company, Malpaso, which has produced the vast majority of his films. He also served as the nonpartisan mayor of Carmel-by-the-Sea, California, from 1986 to 1988. Eastwood has seven children by five different women, and has married twice.

In late 1963 Eastwood's co-star on Rawhide, Eric Fleming, rejected an offer to star in an Italian-made western called A Fistful of Dollars; to be directed in a remote region of Spain by Sergio Leone who was relatively unknown at the time. Other actors, including Charles Bronson, Steve Reeves, Richard Harrison, Frank Wolfe, Henry Fonda, James Coburn, and Ty Hardin, were also considered for the role. Knowing that he could play a cowboy convincingly Harrison suggested Eastwood, who in turn saw the film as an opportunity to escape from Rawhide. He signed a contract for $15,000 (US$106,211 in 2011 dollars) in wages for eleven weeks' work with a bonus of a Mercedes automobile upon completion and arrived in Rome in May 1964 Eastwood later spoke about the transition from a television western to A Fistful of Dollars: "In Rawhide I did get awfully tired of playing the conventional white hat. The hero who kisses old ladies and dogs and was kind to everybody. I decided it was time to be an anti-hero."Eastwood was instrumental in creating the Man with No Name character's distinctive visual style and although a non-smoker, Leone insisted he smoke cigars as an essential ingredient of the "mask" he was attempting to create with the loner character.
Some interior shots for A Fistful of Dollars were done at the Cinecittà studio on the outskirts of Rome, before production moved to a small village in Andalusia, Spain. The film became a benchmark in the development of spaghetti westerns, with Leone depicting a more lawless and desolate world than in traditional westerns; meanwhile challenging stereotypical American notions of a western hero by replacing him with a morally ambiguous antihero. The film's success meant Eastwood became a major star in Italy and he was re-hired by Leone to star in For a Few Dollars More (1965), the second film of the trilogy. Through the efforts of screenwriter Luciano Vincenzoni, the rights to the film and the final film of the trilogy (The Good, the Bad and the Ugly) were sold to United Artists for roughly $900,000 (US$6.26 million in 2011 dollars.

Eastwood's career reached a turning point in 1971. Before Irving Leonard died he and Eastwood had discussed the idea of Malpaso producing Play Misty for Me, a film that was to give Eastwood the artistic control he desired and his debut as a director.The script was about a jazz disc jockey named Dave (Eastwood) who has a casual affair with Evelyn (Jessica Walter), a listener who had been calling the radio station repeatedly at night asking him to play her favorite song—Erroll Garner's "Misty". When Dave ends their relationship the fan becomes violent and murderous. Filming commenced in Monterey in September 1970 and included footage of that year's Monterey Jazz Festival. The film was highly acclaimed with critics such as Jay Cocks in Time, Andrew Sarris in the Village Voice, and Archer Winsten in the New York Post all praising the film, as well as Eastwood's directorial skills and performance. Walter was nominated for a Golden Globe Best Actress Award (Drama) for her performance in the film.
The script for Dirty Harry (1971) was written by Harry Julian Fink and Rita M. Fink. It is a story about a hard-edged New York City (later changed to San Francisco) police inspector named Harry Callahan who is determined to stop a psychotic killer by any means. Dirty Harry is arguably Eastwood's most memorable character and has been credited with inventing the "loose-cannon cop genre", which is still imitated to this day. Author Eric Lichtenfeld argues that Eastwood's role as Dirty Harry established the "first true archetype" of the action film genre. His lines (quoted at left) have been cited as among the most memorable in cinematic history and are regarded by firearms historians, such as Garry James and Richard Venola, as the force which catapulted the ownership of .44 Magnum pistols to unprecedented heights in the United States; specifically the Smith & Wesson Model 29 carried by Harry Callahan.Dirty Harry proved a phenomenal success after its release in December 1971, earning some $22 million (US$119 million in 2011 dollars) in the United States and Canada alone. It was Siegel's highest-grossing film and the start of a series of films featuring the character of Harry Callahan. Although a number of critics praised his performance as Dirty Harry, such as Jay Cocks of Time magazine who described him as "giving his best performance so far, tense, tough, full of implicit identification with his character", the film was widely criticized and accused of fascism.
Following Sean Connery's announcement that he would not play James Bond again Eastwood was offered the role but turned it down because he believed the character should be played by an English actor He next starred in the loner Western Joe Kidd (1972), based on a character inspired by Reies Lopez Tijerina who stormed a courthouse in Tierra Amarilla, New Mexico, in June 1967. Filming began in Old Tucson in November 1971 under director John Sturges. During the filming, Eastwood suffered symptoms of a bronchial infection and several panic attacks.[114] Joe Kidd received a mixed reception, with Roger Greenspun of The New York Times writing that the film was unremarkable, with foolish symbolism and sloppy editing, although he praised Eastwood's performance.
In 1973 Eastwood directed his first western, High Plains Drifter, in which he starred alongside Verna Bloom, Marianna Hill, Billy Curtis, Rawhide's Paul Brinegar and Geoffrey Lewis. The film had a moral and supernatural theme, later emulated in Pale Rider. The plot follows a mysterious stranger (Eastwood) who arrives in a brooding Western town where the people hire him to defend the town against three felons who are soon to be released. There remains confusion during the film as to whether the stranger is the brother of the deputy, whom the felons lynched and murdered, or his ghost. Holes in the plot were filled with black humor and allegory, influenced by Leone. The revisionist film received a mixed reception from critics, but was a major box office success. A number of critics thought Eastwood's directing was "as derivative as it was expressive", with Arthur Knight of the Saturday Review remarking that Eastwood had "absorbed the approaches of Siegel and Leone and fused them with his own paranoid vision of society". John Wayne, who had declined a role in the film, sent a letter of disapproval to Eastwood some weeks after the film's release saying that "the townspeople did not represent the true spirit of the American pioneer, the spirit that made America great".
Eastwood was then offered the role of Benjamin L. Willard in Francis Coppola's Apocalypse Now, but declined as he did not want to spend weeks on location in the Philippines. He also refused the part of a platoon leader in Ted Post's Vietnam War film Go Tell the Spartans and instead decided to make a third Dirty Harry film The Enforcer. The film had Harry partnered with a new female officer (Tyne Daly) to face a San Francisco Bay area group resembling the Symbionese Liberation Army. The film, culminating in a shootout on Alcatraz island, was considerably shorter than the previous Dirty Harry films at 95 minutes,but was a major commercial success grossing $100 million (US$386 million in 2011 dollars) worldwide to become Eastwood's highest-grossing film to date.
In 1977 he directed and starred in The Gauntlet opposite Locke, Pat Hingle, William Prince, Bill McKinney, and Mara Corday. He portrays a down-and-out cop who falls in love with a prostitute that he is assigned to escort from Las Vegas to Phoenix, to testify against the mob. Although a moderate hit with the viewing public critics had mixed feelings about the film, with many believing it was overly violent. Eastwood's longtime nemesis Pauline Kael called it "a tale varnished with foul language and garnished with violence". Roger Ebert, on the other hand, gave it three stars and called it "...classic Clint Eastwood: fast, furious, and funny." In 1978 Eastwood starred in Every Which Way but Loose alongside Locke, Geoffrey Lewis, Ruth Gordon and John Quade. In an uncharacteristic offbeat comedy role, Eastwood played Philo Beddoe, a trucker and brawler who roams the American West searching for a lost love accompanied by his brother and an orangutan called Clyde. The film proved a surprising success upon its release and became Eastwood's most commercially successful film at the time. Panned by the critics it ranked high amongst the box office successes of his career and was the second-highest grossing film of 1978.
Eastwood starred in the atmospheric thriller Escape from Alcatraz in 1979, the last of his films to be directed by Don Siegel. It was based on the true story of Frank Lee Morris who, along with John and Clarence Anglin, escaped from the notorious Alcatraz prison in 1962. The film was a major success and marked the beginning of a period of praise for Eastwood from the critics; Stanley Kauffmann of The New Republic lauding it as "crystalline cinema" and Frank Rich of Time describing it as "cool, cinematic grace"
Eastwood directed and scored the crime drama Mystic River (2003), a film about murder, vigilantism, and sexual abuse, set in Boston. Starring Sean Penn, Kevin Bacon, and Tim Robbins, Mystic River was lauded by critics and viewers alike. The film won two Academy Awards, Best Actor for Penn and Best Supporting Actor for Robbins, with Eastwood garnering nominations for Best Director and Best Picture. Eastwood was named Best Director of the Year by the London Film Critics Circle and the National Society of Film Critics. The film grossed $90 million (US$107 million in 2011 dollars) domestically on a budget of $30 million (US$35.8 million in 2011 dollars).
The following year Eastwood found further critical and commercial success when he directed, produced, scored, and starred in the boxing drama Million Dollar Baby, playing a cantankerous trainer who forms a bond with female boxer (Hilary Swank) who he is persuaded to train by his lifelong friend (Morgan Freeman). The film won four Academy Awards: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress (Swank), and Best Supporting Actor (Freeman). At age 74 Eastwood became the oldest of eighteen directors to have directed two or more Best Picture winners.[216][217] He also received a nomination for Best Actor and a Grammy nomination for his score. A. O. Scott of The New York Times lauded the film as a "masterpiece" and the best film of the year.
In 2006 Eastwood directed two films about World War II's Battle of Iwo Jima. The first, Flags of Our Fathers, focused on the men who raised the American flag on top of Mount Suribachi and was followed by Letters from Iwo Jima, which dealt with the tactics of the Japanese soldiers on the island and the letters they wrote home to family members. Letters from Iwo Jima was the first American film to depict a war issue completely from the view of an American enemy. Both films received praise from critics and garnered several nominations at the 79th Academy Awards, including Best Director, Best Picture, and Best Original Screenplay for Letters from Iwo Jima. At the 64th Golden Globe Awards Eastwood received nominations for Best Director in both films. Letters from Iwo Jima won the award for Best Foreign Language Film.
Eastwood next directed Changeling (2008), based on a true story set in the late 1920s. Angelina Jolie stars as a woman who is reunited with her missing son only to realize that he is an impostor. After its release at several film festivals the film grossed over $110 million (US$112 million in 2011 dollars), the majority of which came from foreign markets.The film was highly acclaimed, with Damon Wise of Empire describing Changeling as "flawless". Todd McCarthy of Variety described it as "emotionally powerful and stylistically sure-handed" and stated that Changeling was a more complex and wide-ranging work than Eastwood's Mystic River, saying the characters and social commentary were brought into the story with an "almost breathtaking deliberation". Film critic Prairie Miller said that, in its portrayal of female courage, the film was "about as feminist as Hollywood can get" whilst David Denby argued that, like Eastwood's Million Dollar Baby, the film was "less an expression of feminist awareness than a case of awed respect for a woman who was strong and enduring." Eastwood received nominations for Best Original Score at the 66th Golden Globe Awards, Best Direction at the 62nd British Academy Film Awards and director of the year from the London Film Critics' Circle.
After four years away from acting Eastwood ended his "self-imposed acting hiatus" with Gran Torino, which he also directed, produced, and partly scored with his son Kyle and Jamie Cullum. Biographer Marc Eliot called Eastwood's role "an amalgam of the Man with No Name, Dirty Harry, and William Munny, here aged and cynical but willing and able to fight on whenever the need arose." Eastwood has said that the role will most likely be the last time he acts in a film It grossed close to $30 million (US$30.6 million in 2011 dollars) during its wide release opening weekend in January 2009, the highest of his career as an actor or director.Gran Torino eventually grossed over $268 million (US$274 million in 2011 dollars) in theaters worldwide becoming the highest-grossing film of Eastwood's career so far, without adjustment for inflation.
His 29th directorial outing came with Invictus, a film based on the story of the South African team at the 1995 Rugby World Cup, with Morgan Freeman as Nelson Mandela and Matt Damon as rugby team captain François Pienaar. Freeman had bought the film rights to John Carlin's book on which the film is based.The film met with generally positive reviews; Roger Ebert gave it three and a half stars and described it as a "very good film... with moments evoking great emotion", while Variety's Todd McCarthy wrote, "Inspirational on the face of it, Clint Eastwood's film has a predictable trajectory, but every scene brims with surprising details that accumulate into a rich fabric of history, cultural impressions and emotion." Eastwood was nominated for Best Director at the 67th Golden Globe Awards.

marți, 25 octombrie 2011

King Michael of Romania, the last surviving head of state from World War II. His Majesty is 90 years old today

Michael (Romanian: Maiestatea Sa Mihai I Regele Românilor, literally "His Majesty Michael I King of the Romanians", born 25 October 1921) was the last King of Romania, reigning from 20 July 1927 to 8 June 1930, and again from 6 September 1940, until forced to abdicate by the communists backed up by orders of Joseph Stalin to the Soviet armies of occupation on 30 December 1947. In addition to being the current holder of the dis-established throne of Romania, he was also a Prince of Hohenzollern until 10 May 2011, when he renounced this title.
A great-great-grandson of Queen Victoria by both of his parents, and a third cousin of Queen Elizabeth II, he is one of the last surviving heads of state from World War II, the others being the former King Simeon II of Bulgaria and the former King Norodom Sihanouk of Cambodia.
 
Michael was born in the Foişor Castle or Peleş Castle, Sinaia, Romania, the son of Carol II of Romania (then Crown Prince of Romania) and Princess Elena of Greece. He was born as the grandson of the then-reigning King Ferdinand of Romania. When Carol II eloped with his mistress Elena "Magda" Lupescu and renounced 'temporarily' his rights to the throne in December 1925, Michael was declared the heir apparent. He succeeded to the throne upon Ferdinand's death in July 1927.
 
A regency, which included his uncle, Prince Nicolae, Patriarch Miron Cristea, and the country's Chief Justice (Gheorghe Buzdugan, from October 1929 on Constantin Sărăţeanu) functioned on behalf of the 5-year-old Michael during the 1927–1930 period.[10] In 1930, Carol II returned to the country at the invitation of politicians dissatisfied with the Regency, and was proclaimed king by the Parliament, designating Michael as Crown Prince with the title "Grand Voievod of Alba-Iulia". In November 1939, Michael joined the Romanian Senate, as the 1938 Constitution guaranteed him a seat there upon reaching the age of eighteen. In September 1940, the pro-German anti-Bolshevik régime of Prime Minister Marshal Ion Antonescu staged a coup d'état against Carol II, whom the Marshal claimed to be 'anti-German'. Antonescu suspended the Constitution, dissolved the Parliament, and re-installed the 18-year-old Michael as King by popular acclaim. (Although the Constitution was restored in 1944 and the Romanian Parliament in 1946, Michael did not either subsequently take a formal oath or have his reign approved retroactively by Parliament.) Michael was crowned with the Steel Crown and anointed King of Romania by the Orthodox Patriarch of Romania, Nicodim Munteanu, in the Patriarchal Cathedral of Bucharest, on the day of his accession, 6 September 1940.Although King Michael was formally the Supreme Head of the Army and entitled to appoint the Prime Minister with full powers named 'Leader of the people' ("Conducător"), in reality he was forced to remain only a figurehead until August 1944.

In 1944, World War II was going badly for the Axis powers, but the military dictator Prime Minister Marshal Ion Antonescu was still in control of Romania. As of August 1944, the Soviet conquest of Romania had become inevitable, being expected in a few months. On 23 August 1944, Michael joined the pro-Allied politicians, a number of army officers, and armed communist-led civilians in staging a coup against Antonescu, whereas it was recognized in the late 1970s that King Michael ordered his arrest by the Royal Palace Guard. On the same night, the new Prime Minister, Lt. General Constantin Sănătescu—who was appointed by King Michael—gave custody of Antonescu to the communists (in spite of alleged instructions to the contrary by the King), who delivered him to the Soviets on 1 September. In a radio broadcast to the Romanian nation and army, Michael issued a cease-fire just as the Red Army was penetrating the Moldavian front, proclaimed Romania's loyalty to the Allies, announced the acceptance of the armistice offered by Great Britain, the United States, and the USSR, and declared war on Germany. However, this did not avert a rapid Soviet occupation and capture of about 130,000 Romanian soldiers, who were transported to the Soviet Union where many perished in prison camps.Although the country's alliance with the Nazis was ended, the coup sped the Red Army's advance into Romania.The armistice was signed three weeks later on 12 September 1944, on terms the Soviets virtually dictated. Under the terms of the armistice, Romania recognized its defeat by the USSR and was placed under occupation of the Allied forces with the Soviets, as their representative, in control of media, communication, post, and civil administration behind the front. The coup effectively amounted to a "capitulation", an "unconditional" "surrender". It has been suggested that the coup may have shortened World War II by six months, thus saving hundreds of thousands of lives.
King Michael was the last monarch behind the Iron Curtain to lose his throne. At the end of the war, King Michael was awarded the highest degree (Chief Commander) of the Legion of Merit by U.S. President Harry S. Truman. He was also decorated with the Soviet Order of Victory by Joseph Stalin "for the courageous act of the radical change in Romania's politics towards a break-up from Hitler's Germany and an alliance with the United Nations, at the moment when there was no clear sign yet of Germany's defeat," according to the official description of the decoration. He is the only surviving recipient as of 2011.
 
In March 1945, political pressures forced King Michael to appoint a pro-Soviet government dominated by the Romanian Communist Party. Under the communist régime King Michael functioned again as little more than a figurehead. Between August 1945 and January 1946, during what was later known as the "royal strike," King Michael tried unsuccessfully to oppose the first communist government led by the communist Prime Minister Petru Groza, by refusing to sign its decrees. In response to Soviet, British, and American pressures, King Michael eventually gave up his opposition to the communist government and stopped demanding its resignation.
He did not pardon former Marshal Antonescu, who was sentenced to death "for betrayal of the Romanian people for the benefit of Nazi Germany, for the economic and political subjugation of Romania to Germany, for cooperation with the Iron Guard, for murdering his political opponents, for the mass murder of civilians and crimes against peace". Nor did King Michael manage to save such leaders of the opposition as Iuliu Maniu and the Bratianus, victims of communist political trials, as the Constitution prevented him from doing so without the counter-signature of communist Justice Minister Lucreţiu Pătrăşcanu (who was, himself, later eliminated by Gheorghiu-Dej's opposing communist faction). The memoirs of King Michael's aunt Princess Ileana quote Emil Bodnăraş—her alleged lover,Romania's communist minister of defense, and a Soviet spy—as saying: "Well, if the King decides not to sign the death warrant, I promise that we will uphold his point of view." Princess Ileana was skeptical: "You know quite well (...) that the King will never of his free will sign such an unconstitutional document. If he does, it will be laid at your door, and before the whole nation your government will bear the blame. Surely you do not wish this additional handicap at this moment!"
 
In November, 1947 King Michael traveled to London for the wedding of his cousins, The Princess Elizabeth (the future Queen Elizabeth II) and The Duke of Edinburgh, an occasion during which he met Princess Anne of Bourbon-Parma (his second cousin once removed), who was to become his wife. According to unconfirmed claims by so-called Romanian 'royalists', King Michael did not want to return home, but certain Americans and Britons present at the wedding encouraged him to do so; Winston Churchill is said to have counseled Michael to return because "above all things, a King must be courageous." According to his own account, King Michael rejected any offers of asylum and decided to return to Romania, contrary to the confidential, strong advice of the British Ambassador to Romania.
On 30 December 1947 the royal palace was surrounded by the Tudor Vladimirescu army units loyal to the Communists. Michael was forced at gun point (by either Petru Groza or Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej, depending on the source) to abdicate Romania's throne. Later the same day, the Communist-dominated government announced the 'permanent' abolition of the monarchy and its replacement by a People's Republic, broadcasting the King's pre-recorded radio proclamation of his own abdication. On 3 January 1948, Michael was forced to leave the country, followed over a week later by Princesses Elisabeth and Ileana, who collaborated so closely with the Soviets they became known as the King's "Red Aunts."
According to Michael's own account, the Communist Prime Minister Petru Groza had threatened him at gun point and warned that the government would shoot 1,000 arrested students if the king didn't abdicate. In an interview with The New York Times from 2007, Michael recalls the events: “It was blackmail. They said, ‘If you don’t sign this immediately we are obliged’ — why obliged I don’t know — 'to kill more than 1,000 students' that they had in prison.”According to Time magazine, the communist government threatened Michael that it would arrest thousands and steep the country in blood if he did not abdicate.

However, according to the autobiography of the former head of the Soviet intelligence agency NKVD, Major General Pavel Sudoplatov, the Deputy Soviet Foreign Commissar Andrey Vyshinsky personally conducted negotiations with King Michael for his abdication, guaranteeing part of a pension to be paid to Michael in Mexico. According to a few articles in Jurnalul Naţional, Michael's abdication was negotiated with the Communist government, which allowed him to leave the country with the goods he requested and by some of the royal retinue.
According to the Albanian communist leader Enver Hoxha, who recounts his conversations with the Romanian Communist leaders on the monarch's abdication, King Michael was threatened with a pistol by the Romanian Communist Party leader Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej rather than Petru Groza so as to abdicate. He was allowed to leave the country accompanied by some of his entourage and, as confirmed also by the Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev recounting Dej's confessions, with whatever properties he desired, including gold and rubies. Hoxha does say in his book that the Romanian communist leaders had threatened King Michael with their loyal army troops, which had encircled the royal palace and its troops loyal to King Michael.
According to Time magazine, in early 1948 there had been negotiations between King Michael and the communist government over the properties he left behind in Romania and those negotiations delayed his denunciation of the abdication as illegal.

There are reportsthat Romanian communist authorities, obedient to Stalin, allowed King Michael to part with 42 valuable Crown-owned paintings in November 1947, so that he would leave Romania faster. Some of these paintings were reportedly sold through the famed art dealer Daniel Wildenstein. One of the paintings belonging to the Romanian Crown which was supposedly taken out of the country by King Michael in November 1947, returned to Romania in 2004 as a donation made by John Kreuger, the former husband of King Michael's daughter Princess Irina.
In 2005 Romanian Prime Minister Călin Popescu-Tăriceanu denied these accusations about King Michael, stating that the Romanian government has no proof of any such action by King Michael and that, prior to 1949, the government had no official records of any artwork taken over from the former royal residences. However, according to some historians, such records existed as early as April 1948, having been, in fact, officially published in June 1948.
According to Ivor Porter's authorized biography, Michael of Romania: The King and The Country (2005), which quotes Queen-Mother Helen's daily diary, the Romanian royals took out paintings belonging to the Romanian Royal Crown on their November 1947 trip to London to the wedding of the future Queen Elizabeth II; two of these paintings, signed by El Greco, were sold in 1976.
According to recently declassified Foreign Office documents, when he left Romania, the exiled king Michael's only assets amounted to 500,000 Swiss francs. Recently declassified Soviet transcripts of talks between Joseph Stalin and the Romanian Prime-Minister Petru Groza show that shortly before his abdication, King Michael received from the communist government assets amounting to 500,000 Swiss francs. King Michael, however, repeatedly denied that the communist government had allowed him to take into exile any financial assets or valuable goods besides four personal automobiles loaded on two train cars.
In January 1948, Michael began using one of his family's ancestral titles, "Prince of Hohenzollern,"instead of using the title of "King of Romania." After denouncing his abdication as forced and illegal in March 1948, Michael resumed use of the kingly title.
On 10 June 1948 in Athens, Greece, he married Princess Anne of Bourbon-Parma (b. Paris, 18 September 1923). They lived first in Britain and later settled in Switzerland. The Communist Romanian authorities illegally stripped him of his Romanian citizenship in 1948. He became a commercial pilot and worked for an aircraft equipment company. He and his wife have five daughters.
In 1992, three years after the revolution which overthrew the Communist dictatorship, the Romanian government allowed Michael to return to his country for Easter celebrations, where he drew large crowds. In Bucharest over a million people turned out to see him. Michael's popularity alarmed the government of President Ion Iliescu, so Michael was forbidden to visit Romania again for five years. In 1997, after Iliescu's defeat by Emil Constantinescu, the Romanian Government restored Michael's citizenship and again allowed him to visit the country. He now lives partly in Switzerland at Aubonne and partly in Romania, either at Săvârşin Castle in Arad county or in an official residence in Bucharest—the Elisabeta Palace—voted by the Romanian Parliament by a law concerning arrangements for former heads of state.
According to the succession provisions of the Romanian kingdom's last democratically approved monarchical constitution of 1923, upon the death of King Michael without sons, the claim to the Crown devolves once again upon the Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen family (see "Line of succession to the Romanian throne").
However, on 30 December 2007, on the 60th anniversary of his abdication, King Michael signed the Fundamental Rules of the Royal Family of Romania, by which he designated Princess Margarita as heiress to the throne with the titles of "Crown Princess of Romania" and "Custodian of the Romanian Crown." This act is, during the republican form of government and in the absence of approval by the Parliament, considered to be null and void.On the same occasion, Michael also asked the Romanian Parliament that, should it consider restoring the monarchy, it should also abolish the salic law of succession.
Michael participated in the Victory parade in Moscow in 2010 as the only living Supreme Commander-in-Chief of a European State in the Second World War. The name of Michael I is listed on the memorial in the Grand Kremlin Palace as a recipient of the Order of Victory.
On 10 May 2011, on a background of lawsuits in Germany brought against his family by his German relatives regarding the former name Hohenzollern-Veringen of his son in law, Radu, and of fears expressed by some that the German Hohenzollerns may claim succession to the headship of the Romanian royal house, Michael severed all of the dynastic and historical ties with the princely house of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen, changed the name of his family to "of Romania", and gave up all princely titles conferred to him and to his family by the German Hohenzollerns.
Michael cannot be said to have encouraged monarchist agitation in Romania and royalist parties have made little impact in post-communist Romanian politics. He takes the view that the restoration of the monarchy in Romania can only result from a decision by the Romanian people. "If the people want me to come back, of course, I will come back," he said in 1990. "Romanians have had enough suffering imposed on them to have the right to be consulted on their future." King Michael's belief is that there is still a role for, and value to, the monarchy today: "We are trying to make people understand what the Romanian monarchy was, and what it can still do" (...for them). According to a 2007 opinion poll conducted at the request of the Romanian Royal House, only 14% of Romanians were in favour of the restoration of the monarchy.Another 2008 poll found that only 16% of Romanians are monarchists.
Michael has undertaken some quasi-diplomatic roles on behalf of post-communist Romania. In 1997 and 2002 he toured Western Europe, lobbying for Romania's admission into NATO and the European Union, and was received by heads of state and government officials.

In December 2003, allegedly to the "stupefaction of the public opinion in Romania", Michael awarded the "Man of The Year 2003" prize to the then Prime Minister Adrian Năstase, leader of the PSD party, on behalf of the tabloid VIP. The daily Evenimentul Zilei subsequently complained that 'such an activity was unsuited to a king and that Michael was wasting away his prestige', with the majority of the political analysts 'considering his gesture as a fresh abdication'.
On October 25, 2011, on the occasion of his 90th birthday, Michael is invited to deliver a speech before the assembled chambers of the Romanian Parliament.
Michael has had a reputation for taciturnity. He once said to his grandmother, "I have learned not to say what I feel, and to smile at those I most hate." Before getting to know his future wife, Anne of Bourbon-Parma, Michael had a romantic relationship with, among others, a Greek woman, Dodo Chrisolegos, a protégée of the former Romanian Communist Party leader Ana Pauker. Some claim that political influences had been exerted upon King Michael through this liaison.
Michael was head of the Romanian Boy Scouts in the 1930s.
Michael is passionate about cars,especially military jeeps. He is also interested in aircraft, having worked as a commercial flight pilot during his exile.

On 10 May 2007, King Michael received the Prague Society for International Cooperation and Global Panel Foundation's 6th Annual Hanno R. Ellenbogen Citizenship Award, previously awarded to Vladimir Ashkenazy, Madeleine Albright, Václav Havel, Lord Robertson, and Miloš Forman. On 8 April 2008, King Michael and Patriarch Daniel were elected as Honorary Members of the Romanian Academy.

luni, 24 octombrie 2011

Succes 2011: Simona Amânar, romanian gymnast, seven-time Olympic medalist and a ten-time world medalist. A vault element is named after her, the "Amanar"

Simona Amânar (born October 7, 1979 in Constanţa) is a Romanian gymnast. She is a seven-time Olympic medalist and a ten-time world medalist. Amânar helped Romania to win four consecutive world team titles (1994–1999) as well as the 2000 Olympic team title. She has a vault named after her, the Amanar. She was inducted into the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame in 2007.

In 1994, her first year on the senior national team, she was known primarily as a team player and contributed to the 1994 World and European Romanian team titles.

She began to excel as an individual performer at the 1995 European Cup, placing 2nd all-around behind Svetlana Khorkina, as well as winning gold on both vault and floor. She continued her success at the World Championships that year, helping to secure the second consecutive World team title for Romania, and became co-world champion on vault (with all-around champion Lilia Podkopayeva). Amânar had a powerful floor routine and huge vaults that put her in the lead after two rotations. However, she dropped to fourth overall after an average bar routine and a shaky beam routine.
Amânar won the silver medal on vault at the individual apparatus at the World Championships behind teammate Gina Gogean and ahead of Cuban Annia Portuondo-Hatch.
At the 1996 Summer Olympics, Amânar was one of the front-runners to contend for several individual medals. However, her Olympics started inauspiciously as she fell off the beam during the compulsories. Though she would later post the highest all-around score during the optionals (39.387), she still only placed fourth amongst her teammates and did not qualify for the all-around finals. In a scenario similar to the 1992 Olympic substitution by the Unified Team of Tatiana Gutsu for Rozalia Galiyeva, Amânar replaced her teammate Alexandra Marinescu, which was legal according to the rules at the time. Head coach Octavian Belu stated that Amânar deserved to compete because she worked harder and was a better athlete than Marinescu. The decision proved to be sound as Amânar shared the bronze medal with teammate Lavinia Miloşovici, behind her other teammate Gina Gogean.
In both the 1996 Olympic All-Around and the 1995 World Championship All-Around, Amânar failed to score over the 9.800 mark on the floor exercise despite well-executed and extremely difficult tumbling. In Atlanta, she scored a 9.887 in Optionals (the highest score of the entire Olympics, on any event, for men or women) and only a 9.737 in the All-Around. She did not start from a 10.0 in the All-Around despite having the most tumbling bonus of anyone at the Games (.6 in D and E elements, and .3 in Connection Value) because her tour-jete half (Strug), a C element, was not completed or credited. Thus, she did not have enough simple A, B, and C skills to fulfill her value part requirements and much of her D and E rated tumbling had to count as these easier elements to fulfill requirements.
The requirements for the 9.4 Base Score, for each level of competition, were as follows: Comp I (team optionals): 3-As, 3-Bs, 2-Cs; Comp II (all-around): 3-As, 3-Bs, 2-Cs, 1-D; Comp III (event finals): 3-As, 3-Bs, 2-Cs, 2-Ds.
Amanar did not perform a double turn in either the team optionals or the all-around because it was not necessary as long as she completed her Strug. She included few A, B, and C skills in her routine because her excess D and E tumbling bonus could count to fulfill these simpler element requirements. However, when she failed to complete her Strug, four of her six tenths in D and E elements had to count towards fulfilling requirements, which left her with only .2 counting towards her bonus. In that Code of Points, gymnasts needed .3 in D and E skill bonus, and .3 in Connection Value bonus to start from a 10.0. Without the error, Amânar would have finished well ahead of her more established compatriots Gogean and Milosovici. Her failure to score well on the floor was also evident when she failed to medal on floor at the 1995 Worlds or qualify for the event finals on floor at the 1997 Worlds.
In the event finals in Atlanta, Amânar completed her Strug, added a double turn to fulfill the more stringent Competition III (event final) requirements, and earned a 9.850 and the silver medal behind Lilia Podkopayeva and just ahead of Dominique Dawes. She won the Olympic vault event the day before largely due to a 9.875 for an enormous double-twisting Yurchenko vault. She left the 1996 Olympics with four total medals, including Romania's team bronze.
Amânar would again replace a higher performing Marinescu in the 1997 World All-Around Championships. She won the silver medal behind Svetlana Khorkina of Russia. She actually performed better and scored higher than Khorkina on three of the four pieces, but the discrepancy between their bars performances gave the title to Khorkina. Amânar's vaulting score was not as high as in previous all-around competition due to a rule change that required the athletes to perform two different vaults in all-around competition. Her second vault—a Phelps—was a considerable weakness for her due to failing to remain in layout position. She did, however, unlike most of her competitors, complete the required half turn onto the horse, twist in the same direction off the horse as she twisted onto the horse, and twist early enough off the horse to perform an Arabian front. (Her teammate, 1997 World bronze vault medalist Gina Gogean, who also won several World and Olympic vault medals, not only twisted in two different directions, but completed her second half twist far too late for it to be a true Arabian to front salto; rather than perform the Phelps with which she was credited, she performed a layout tsukahara with a half twist). Nevertheless, Amanar won the vault title, and the victory made her a two-time World champion and Olympic champion on the event. Romania also won its third straight team title.
In the 1999 World Championships, Amânar lead the team to a fourth consecutive team title, but fell off the bars during the all-around and placed well out of the medals. She lost her vaulting title to Russia's Elena Zamolodchikova, who dominated that event in the following years due to a more difficult second vault - a double twisting Tsukahara. Amânar eventually learned this vault by 2000, but only completed it at the European Championships. Amânar's younger teammates carried the banner for the Romanians. Maria Olaru won the all-around, and Andreea Răducan won the title on floor exercise. Amânar won her first ever (and only) World Championship medal on the floor, taking home the silver behind Raducan.

At the 2000 Summer Olympics, the Romanians once again edged out the Russians to take the team title—their first since 1984 and their first ever in a non-boycotted Olympics. The vaulting horse was set too low by the Olympic organizers before the Women's All-Around. The undisputed favourite for the all-around title, Svetlana Khorkina, fell on her signature vault. Several other gymnasts in the competition met peril because of this same scenario. Many went on to their next event knowing their medal chances were gone, only later to be informed of the error and their chance to vault again. By that point, it was too late. The three Romanian women managed either to vault well on the faulty vault or to vault after the mistake had been corrected. They swept the medals, with Răducan winning the title, followed by Amânar and Olaru.
Răducan had used a cold medicine containing a banned substance. Although she was not banned and her results in other events were allowed to stand, Răducan was stripped of her gold medal which went to Amânar. Initially, Amânar refused to accept the medal, insisting that Răducan had rightfully earned the title. Teammate Maria Olaru took the same stance when the silver was awarded to her, as well. The two eventually reconsidered, deciding instead to bring the medals home to Romania as symbolic victories of the team. Amânar later returned the gold medal to her teammate Răducan. Although Răducan intends to file paperwork with the IOC, Amanar is still credited as the 2000 All-Around champion. To this day, Amânar has stated that she firmly believes that Răducan is the true All-Around Olympic champion and refuses to acknowledge herself as the winner.
In the event finals, Amânar had the opportunity to defend her Olympic title from four years earlier. However, she stumbled badly while debuting a new vault—a 212 twisting laid-out Yurchenko, which was then named after her, and her medal hopes were erased. She won the bronze on floor exercise, losing points for a step out of bounds on her last tumbling pass.
Throughout her career, Amânar was criticized for her stoicism and the robotic qualities to her gymnastics.She did not possess the same elegant style that favored her longtime nemesis Svetlana Khorkina, and perhaps prevented her from ever winning a major all-around title. She was a power athlete, showing exceptional difficulty on vault and floor but with less strength on bars and beam. She maintained a hugely successful career at the highest ranks of the sport for over five years. Amânar ranks highly on the list of most medaled gymnasts ever, with 17 World and Olympic medals. Amânar played a crucial role in the four straight World team titles and Olympic title which firmly stamped Romania as the number one ranked team in the world.

A vault element is named after her, the "Amanar".
Amânar retired in 2000 shortly after the Olympic Games, saying it was the right time to retire.

miercuri, 19 octombrie 2011

Succes 2011: Vera Miles, an american film actress who gained popularity for starring in films such as Psycho, The Searchers, The Wrong Man, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance

Vera Miles (born August 23, 1930) is an American film actress who gained popularity for starring in films such as The Searchers, The Wrong Man, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, Psycho and Psycho II.

Miles was born as Vera June Ralston in Boise City, Oklahoma, the daughter of Burnice (née Wyrick) and Thomas Ralston. She grew up in Pratt, Kansas, and later, in Wichita, Kansas, where she worked nights as a Western Union operator-typist and graduated from Wichita North High School in 1947. She was crowned Miss Kansas in 1948, placing third in the Miss America contest.
She appeared on the April 4, 1951, edition of the Groucho Marx quiz series You Bet Your Life described as "a beauty contest winner". Groucho asks her, "What are some of the beauty titles you've held?" and she replies, "I was first Miss Chamber of Commerce and then Miss Wichita and then Miss Kansas and Miss Texas Grapefruit and recently I've been chosen Miss New Maid Margarine and I had the honour to represent Kansas in the Miss America pageant."
She moved to Los Angeles where, in 1950, she landed small roles in film and television. These included a minor part as a chorus girl in Two Tickets to Broadway (1951), a musical starring Janet Leigh, with whom Miles would go on to co-star nine years later in the classic Alfred Hitchcock film, Psycho. Attracting the attention of several producers, the actress was put under contract at various studios where she posed for cheesecake and publicity photographs, as was standard procedure for most up-and-coming Hollywood starlets of the era.
Under contract to Warner Bros., Miles was cast in films such as The Charge At Feather River in 3-D, but lost out on doing a big 3-D hit starring Vincent Price, House of Wax, for which she was considered. She once recalled: "I was dropped by the best studios in town." In Tarzan's Hidden Jungle, filmed in 1954 and released in 1955, she played Tarzan's love interest (not named "Jane" in this film). In 1954, she married her Tarzan co-star, Gordon Scott; they divorced in 1959.
Film director John Ford chose Miles to star as Jeffrey Hunter's love interest in The Searchers (1956), starring John Wayne. A year later, Miles began a five-year personal contract with Alfred Hitchcock and was widely publicized as the director's potential successor to Grace Kelly. Miles' new mentor directed her in the role of the emotionally troubled new bride of Ralph Meeker in the pilot episode of his popular television series Alfred Hitchcock Presents (titled "Revenge"). Suitably impressed, Hitchcock directed her on the big screen alongside Henry Fonda (who played a New York musician falsely accused of a crime) in The Wrong Man (1956). New York Times film critic Bosley Crowther singled out Miles' performance, writing that she "does convey a poignantly pitiful sense of fear of the appalling situation into which they have been cast". Hitchcock undertook a reinvention of his new star through grooming and wardrobe supervised by Oscar-winning costume designer Edith Head.
Production delays and her pregnancy (a son, Michael, with then-husband Gordon Scott) cost Miles the dual leading role opposite James Stewart in Vertigo (1958), the project Hitchcock designed as a showcase for his new star. The director replaced Miles with Kim Novak, with whom he had clashed. When asked several years later about Miles by director François Truffaut for the book Hitchcock/Truffaut, Hitchcock explained their professional falling-out this way: "She became pregnant just before the part that was going to turn her into a star". "After that, I lost interest. I couldn't get the rhythm going with her again." Miles reflected, "Over the span of years, he's had one type of woman in his films, Ingrid Bergman, Grace Kelly and so on, before that, it was Madeleine Carroll. I'm not their type and never have been. I tried to please him but I couldn't. They are all sexy women, but mine is an entirely different approach".
In 1959, Miles and Van Johnson worked together again in Web of Evidence, which was adapted from A. J. Cronin's novel, Beyond This Place. A year later, Hitchcock cast her as Lila Crane in Psycho (1960), in which her character discovers the truth about Norman Bates and his mother. Miles, while making the thriller, called it "the weirdy of all times".

In 1957, Miles guest starred on NBC's The Steve Allen Show. On January 9, 1958, Miles appeared on NBC's The Ford Show, Starring Tennessee Ernie Ford.
On January 7, 1960, Miles appeared as Jenny Breckenridge in the "Miss Jenny" episode of Dick Powell's Zane Grey Theater Western television series on CBS, opposite Ben Cooper in the role of Darryl Thompson and Jack Elam as Little Jimmy Lehigh.[3] The following month she starred in the classic Twilight Zone episode "Mirror Image".
She co-starred with Susan Hayward and John Gavin in a glossy remake of the melodrama about adultery, Back Street (1961), directed by David Miller and based on the much-filmed 1931 novel by Fannie Hurst.
Then came another role in a John Ford western, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962), with Stewart and John Wayne (who compete for her attention). Miles won a Bronze Wrangler citation from Western Heritage Awards, which she shared with director Ford, writer James Warner Bellah and her fellow actors, including Lee Marvin and Edmond O'Brien. She would play opposite Wayne again in Hellfighters (1968). She also appeared in the TV Western The Virginian.
In 1966, she would co-star in the movie Follow Me, Boys! alongside Fred MacMurray.
In 1962 and 1963, she appeared on NBC's medical drama about psychiatry, The Eleventh Hour, in two episodes entitled "Beauty Playing a Mandolin Underneath a Willow Tree" as Kate Sommers and in "Ann Costigan: A Duel on a Field of White" as the title character. She also appeared in an episode of The Outer Limits ("The Forms of Things Unknown") in 1964.
She did a great deal of television work, including a wife being stalked by an abusive husband in the premier episode of The Fugitive, as an amnesiac in an episode of Ironside ("Barbara Who", 1968) and as a homicidal beauty-products mogul in one of the Columbo episodes, before reprising her most famous role of Lila Crane in Psycho II (1983). Throughout the 1980s and thereafter, Miles continued to work in both television and film until her retirement in 1995.
Miles resides in California and refuses any public relations offers, including interviews and public appearances and has maintained a low profile since her retirement.
Miles' first husband was Bob Miles; they were married from 1948–1954 and had two daughters: Debra Miles, born in 1950, and Kelley Miles, born in 1952.
After their divorce, she was married to Gordon Scott from 1954 until 1959, and they had one son, Michael Scott, born in 1957.
After their divorce, she was married to actor Keith Larsen from 1960 until 1971, and they had one son, Erik Larsen, born in Burbank, California on April 30, 1961. Keith remarried after their divorce in 1971, but Vera remains single.