Marsden Hartley was born in Maine to English emigrant parents whose early death left him to be raised by a succession of relatives, all relatively impoverished. From this unlikely and emotionally wounding upbringing, Hartley became one of America’s great modern artists, a pioneer of abstract painting. Perhaps because his childhood was so terrible, Hartley always seemed to be looking for an “artistic” home, passing through many distinct phases in his art before ending his career with a return to Maine. Restlessly ambitious and determined to make an imprint on American culture, Hartley was also a writer and a not-inconsiderable poet. He was hindered by his self-consciousness, and this lends his verse—as it did his art—a mannered tone that could be didactic or hectoring.
Ella Fitzgerald entered a Harlem talent contest in the mid-1930s, intending to do a dance. On stage, however, her legs froze, and in desperation she launched into song. Her fallback alternative proved good enough to win the contest, and so began a singing career that would make Fitzgerald the "First Lady of Song." Blessed with a voice capable of seamlessly spanning three octaves, Fitzgerald soon perfected her remarkable gifts for vocal improvisation, known as "scat" singing. Her "songbook" recordings of American standards, made from 1956 to 1964, are the definitive tributes to Cole Porter, Duke Ellington, and others. Fitzgerald's respectful understanding of a composer's intentions made these songwriters some of her most ardent fans. "I never knew how good our songs were," lyricist Ira Gershwin once said, "until I heard Ella Fitzgerald sing them."
Clothing & Apparel\Dress Accessory\Headgear\Hat\Top hat
Liza May Minnelli: Performing Arts\Performer\Actor\Theater
Liza May Minnelli: Performing Arts\Performer\Musician\Singer
Liza May Minnelli: Performing Arts\Performer\Actor\Movie
Liza May Minnelli: Performing Arts\Performer\Dancer
Liza May Minnelli: Oscar
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of Time magazine
Born Los Angeles, California
Singer-dancer Liza Minnelli was born into entertainment royalty: her mother was Judy Garland, and her father was Oscar-winning director Vincente Minnelli. Liza made her film debut as a toddler in her father’s In the Good Old Summertime (1949), which starred her mother.
Launching her own Broadway career in 1965, she received a Tony Award for her performance in John Kander and Fred Ebb’s Flora the Red Menace. Her greatest success came onscreen, however, portraying nightclub singer Sally Bowles in Bob Fosse’s 1972 movie version of the musical Cabaret. This movie showcased her strengths as a singer-dancer-actress, and her Best Actress Academy Award was among the film’s eight Oscars.
That same year, the scintillating Minnelli-Fosse-Ebb team collaborated on a high-energy television special, Liza with a “Z,” which won the Emmy for Outstanding Single Program—Variety and Popular Music.
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of Joanna Sturm
In 1897 Theodore Roosevelt was named assistant secretary of the navy just as the crisis with Spain over its colonial territories, especially Cuba, boiled over. Roosevelt had advocated war with Spain, and with the outbreak of hostilities he suited action to word by resigning from the Navy and organizing a volunteer cavalry unit dubbed the “Rough Riders.” Roosevelt regarded war as the ultimate test of a man’s—and the nation’s—mettle, and he was eager for the fight. His charge up Kettle Hill in the face of enemy fire not only tested his valor but made him a national figure. Two weeks after the Rough Riders disbanded in 1898, Roosevelt was the Republican Party’s candidate for governor of New York.
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
Seth Boyden ranks among the great and versatile inventors of his day. His keen aptitude for mechanical engineering yielded a series of significant breakthroughs that led to improved production methods in several of the nation's burgeoning industries. Boyden's successes included perfecting a process for making varnished or "patent" leather; revolutionizing the American iron industry by developing a method for creating malleable cast iron; and improving the design of steam locomotives and stationary steam engines with his invention of a cutoff valve for regulating steam consumption. An early practitioner of the daguerreian process, Boyden also designed a unique camera for his own use.
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
Published in 1850, Bayard Taylor's Eldorado, or Adventures in the Path of Empire provided a lively eyewitness account of California during the first year of the gold rush. Taylor wrote eloquently about the dramatic social and political changes then occurring in California-an area that the United States had recently acquired in the aftermath of the Mexican War. Taylor traveled to California in 1849 under the auspices of Horace Greeley's New York Tribune. Greeley hoped that he might provide a series of short sketches for publication, but Taylor found so much to write about during his four months in California that he decided to publish a book as well. To readers who wondered about the West's impact on newcomers from the East, Taylor wrote, "A man, on coming to California, could no more expect to retain his old nature unchanged, than he could retain in his lungs the air he had inhaled on the Atlantic shore."