Mascara IV : music for strings
by Phillip Wilcher (2013)
The mascara series of musical portraits is a set of 15 works in
all, the inspiration for which were black and white photographic
portraits of legendary actresses from the golden years of the
silver screen. The actresses chosen for the fourth set in the
series were Joan Fontaine, Lauren Bacall and Yvette Mimieux.
Joan de Beauvoir de Havilland (October 22, 1917 - December 15, 2013), known professionally as Joan Fontaine, was a British American actress. Fontaine began her career on the stage in 1935. The photo image selected holds a personal significance. I had once written to Ms. Fontaine requesting a signed photograph. At the time, she had no press secretary and wrote me that if I would send her a cheque covering the cost of postage, she would gladly oblige me my request. As it happened, I had a $10 green back left over from a previous trip to the States so I enclosed the cash in an envelope assuming it would be enough to cover the costs of postage and handling for one signed photo. Weeks later, I was surprised to receive a large envelope from her in which there were a selection of six personally signed photos from various stages in her career.
Lauren Bacall (born Betty Joan Perske; September 16, 1924 - August 12, 2014) was an American actress known for her distinctive voice and sultry looks. She was named the 20th greatest actress of the 20th century by the American Film Institute, and received an Academy Honorary Award from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 2009, "in recognition of her central place in the Golden Age of motion pictures". At the time of her death her estate was estimated at $26.6 million. In an interview she once told a reporter she had been lucky in life: "I had one great marriage, I have three great children and four grandchildren. I am still alive. I still can function. I still can work. You just learn to cope with whatever you have to cope with. I spent my childhood in New York, riding on subways and buses. And you know what you learn if you're a New Yorker? The world doesn't owe you a damn thing!"
Yvette Carmen Mimieux was born in Los Angeles, California to a French father and Mexican mother. Before her film career began, Mimieux was one of four finalists from a beauty contest picked by Elvis Presley (while he was filming 'Jailhouse Rock', 1957) who were invited to come to the set and compete for a bit role in the movie ("girl in bathing suit"). She and the other girls modelled their suits (and figures); Mimieux was not selected. She was later to star opposite Olivia de Havilland (Joan Fontaine's real life sister) in 'The Light in the Piazza'. Yvette Mimieux retired from acting in 1992. Now-a-days she is an anthropologist, a real estate investor and a
devotee of yoga. The photo that inspired this piece was taken from her role on the 1974 television presentation 'Hit Lady' about an artist who works part time as an assassin.
Instrumentation: String orchestra (without double bass), piano. Solo violin in 'Yvette Mimieux' .
Duration: 10 min.
Contents note: Joan Fontaine (c. 2 min., 30 sec.) -- Lauren Bacall (c. 2 min., 30 sec.) -- Yvette Mimieux (c. 4 min., 15 sec.).
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