Saturday, October 23, 2010

Sarah & the Swimmer

"Legend remains victorious in spite of history." Rosine, aka Sarah Bernhardt (1844-1925)

“To me, the sea is like a person - like a child that I've known a long time. It sounds crazy, I know, but when I swim in the sea I talk to it. I never feel alone when I'm out there.” Gertrude Ederle (1905-2003)

So, if I could find a way to upload a picture of Madame Bernhardt, you could see just how remarkable she looked, the great & complex lady who has a birthday today, or perhaps yesterday. Here, there are a bunch of images of "The Divine Sarah" at this link:
I noted yesterday that the great French actress came into the world at the time/apace intersection of October 1844/Paris. Back in the spring of 1977, a very hard time in my life [too many addresses, too many heartaches], so taken was I of photographs of her that I remember getting up in the middle of the night to do a painting of her. It was that painting that caught the attention of Phyllis Dove at a shopping center art show in North Kansas City. It was Phyllis who gave me the confidence to put in an application at Hallmark. Boy oh boy, I sure remember sitting across the street from the place, nothing more than bus fare in my pocket, no more self-esteem of a termite, wishing that I could work there. Ah well, all that's a long time ago. Sarah Bernhardt died in 1925, back when my old dad was three years old. Phyllis is gone, too, thanks to her murderer, never to know that I'd ever amount to anything.
In one of the many books I'd come to write & illustrate, I noted the life & accomplishments of Gertrude Ederle. That was in my book Remember the Ladies.
Gertrude came into the world on the 23rd of October, 105 years ago today, in New York City. What must it have been like, NYC, 1905? Here - did you see the story about this on 60 Minutes the other evening? The extraordinary film made in San Francisco shortly before the earthquake? When TR was President, when Gertrude, away off on the other side of the continent was a tiny child? Likely many of the folks you'll see in this film never lived to know that Gertrude would be the very 1st woman to swim the English Channel...

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