Monday, February 2, 2009

Years of music

“When they ask me to sing these days, they’re just being kind, you know?” said bass-baritone George Beverly Shea, looking forward to his 100th birthday Sunday. For more than 50 years, Mr. Shea was the crooner for crusading evangelist Billy Graham.

Karlene Shea disagrees with her husband: “When everybody else sings, it’s a personality singing. When he sings, something else comes over you — the words, the message, and you forget he’s standing there.”

Aside from a heart attack several years ago, Mr. Shea’s only ailment is a painful back. He uses a walker and still visits restaurants near his mountainside home in Montreat, N.C. He had his driver’s license renewed last year (for identification purposes), Associated Press reports.

Mr. Shea has sung in front of about 200 million people and recorded more than 70 gospel albums. He still appears occasionally at some events. “It’s the guitar these days,” he says. ” When they sing at Mr. Graham’s meetings, it’s pretty exciting. People clap, you know? So they look for me to come up before the message and sort of quiet them down.”

In high heels

In the words of Andree Deissenberg, manager of Paris’ famed Crazy Horse cabaret, Dita Von Teese “earns a living peeling off her clothes but is celebrated for what she wears.” Miss Deissenberg is speaking of the small-town American blonde who morphed into the black-haired global superstar of strip and a designer of lingerie, Agence-France Presse reports.

In Paris for a run of shows at the Crazy Horse, the diva of burlesque recounts how a teenage passion for underwear propelled her rise to celebrity, as both stripped-down burlesque queen and dressed-up fashion icon.

“Lingerie is my first love,” says the 36-year-old, a tiny Snow White-like figure demurely but elegantly turned out in a calf-length dark green number by designer Roland Mouret and less demure, incredibly high high heels.

“I started wanting to learn about the history of lingerie, and that’s how I came across pictures of pinup girls, and when I found pinup girls, I found burlesque stars, and that’s it.”

Miss Von Teese once was married to gothic rocker Marilyn Manson.

Different picture

British Oscar front-runners Danny Boyle and Kate Winslet lost out Sunday at the annual Evening Standard British Film Awards. The best-actress prize went to Tilda Swinton, who won for her performance as an alcoholic in “Julia”; Mr. Boyle (“Slumdog Millionaire”) lost to Steven Daldry as best director for “The Reader.”

“Hunger,” directed by Steve McQueen, a harrowing account of the last days of Irish hunger striker Bobby Sands, was named best picture, topping “Slumdog.”

The best-actor prize was shared by Michael Sheen for his performance as talk-show host David Frost in “Frost/Nixon” and Pat Shortt for his role of a lonely gas-pump attendant in the Irish film “Garage.”

Compiled by Richard Slusser from wire and Web reports

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