David Bruce: The Coolest People in the Arts — Authors, Autographs, Celebrities, Children


• Sandra Cisneros, the Chicana author of The House on Mango Street, grew up in a family without a lot of money. Her mother made sure that she had a library card, and young Sandra read many books. For a long time, Sandra thought that books were so precious that they had to be kept in a special building—a library. Her love of reading led to a love of writing. She often wrote when she was young, an activity that her mother encouraged. Whenever Sandra, who had two older and four younger brothers, was trying to write but was being bothered by her younger brothers, she would yell, “Mom! The kids are in here!” Her mother would make her younger brothers leave so Sandra could write.


• Dancers are asked to autograph strange items. After dancing before President Kubitschek of Brazil and his family, Alicia Markova was asked to autograph one shoe apiece for his two daughters. And in London, a new tomb was needed for a performance of Giselle, so décor artist Bernard Dayde stayed up all night constructing one—provided Ms. Markova sign one of her ballet shoes after the performance, which she agreed to do.

• Famous violinist Fritz Kreisler was frequently approached by strangers asking for his autograph. One woman thought that he looked familiar, so she asked someone for his name, then she told him, “I’m one of your greatest admirers; in fact, I ride in one of your cars every day.” Hearing this, Mr. Kreisler signed this autograph: “With kind regards, Walter P. Chrysler.”


• When she was a young woman, Alexandra Danilova became upset when some men started lying about having affairs with her. Sergei Diaghilev advised her, “Stop crying. What a nuisance. You should cry when they don’t talk about you—as long as they are talking about you, you are interesting.”

• Some ballerinas are celebrities. In 1978, Natalia Makarova gave birth to her son, Andrew. The guests at his christening included Rudolph Nureyev, Jacqueline Onassis, Anne Getty, and former King Constantine of Greece.


• Many musical geniuses started early in life: 1) Eugene Ormandy loved music from a very early age. When Eugene was age one and a half, his father could play the opening measures of approximately 50 pieces of music, and young Eugene could identify them. Just a few years later, at a concert, a violinist played the wrong note, and young Eugene yelled, “F-sharp, not F-natural!” 2) Even at age three and a half, renowned conductor Herbert von Karajan loved music. Whenever his older brother took a music lesson, young Herbert hid under the piano. After the lesson was over, he came out of his hiding place and attempted to play the notes he had heard while he was hiding. 3) Conductor George Szell’s ear was developed at an early age. As a child, he used to listen to his mother play the piano. Whenever she played a wrong note, he slapped her wrist.

• As a 13-year-old girl, Natalia Makarova applied to study at the Vaganova School (aka the Kirov School) of Ballet in Leningrad. She was taken to the Medical Section, which made her wonder because she wasn’t sick, and the medical personnel tested her flexibility by twisting and turning her legs in various directions. This so frightened young Natalia that when she was asked for her telephone number, she gave the wrong one. Fortunately, the personnel of the school were able to track her down anyway, and Ms. Makarova received the training that enabled her to become a world-class ballerina.

• David, the young son of pop artist Roy Lichtenstein, once came home from school and said that the teacher had asked the kids what kind of jobs their fathers had. David complained that the other kids’ fathers had interesting jobs, but “you’re an artist and you can’t draw.” To show David that he in fact could draw, Mr. Lichtenstein drew Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck. These cartoon characters appeared in his 1961 painting Look Mickey, and Mr. Lichtenstein started to become famous.


Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved






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