September 30, 2005

Fiftieth Anniversary of James Dean's Death

Dispelling the myths

Candlelit procession, fireworks will celebrate James Dean's complex, misunderstood life

On the 50th anniversary of his death, citizens of James Dean’s hometown of Fairmount will honor his memory with a celebration of the actor, best known for playing angst-ridden, troubled youths.

David Loehr of The James Dean Gallery said the event should be a poignant one.

“It’s a major anniversary, the 50th anniversary,” Loehr said. “Every year, they have the service at the church, but this year there will be more with the fireworks and everything. The procession will be somber and sad, and the film will be more of a joyous tribute.”

The event will include a candlelight procession beginning at 6:30 p.m. today at the Friends Church in downtown Fairmount and ending at Dean’s gravesite. Following the procession, “James Dean: Forever Young,” a documentary about the actor’s life, will be shown in Playacres Park, the press release said.

The Fairmount Historical Museum played host to the James Dean Festival, an annual three-day event celebrating the actor’s life, last week. It featured bands, films and a James Dean look-alike contest.

Despite the star’s enduring fame, there is a great deal of misconception surrounding his life, particularly his years spent in Indiana, Ball State University Professor of Telecommunications Wes Gehring said.

Gehring, who wrote “James Dean: Rebel with a Cause,” a recent biography of the actor, said other books about the Dean tend to downplay his time in Fairmount.

“Even though there is a lot of literature out there, a lot of it is faulty,” Gehring said. “I found that Indiana gets trashed in the books or just isn’t mentioned.”

He said Dean gained confidence in Fairmount where he got a great deal of media attention in high school for his athletic and scholastic achievements.

“He made the newspaper front pages all the time,” Gehring said. “That might have made him think he could have done a lot of other stuff.”

Gehring said another common myth about Dean was that he was a morbid and unhappy individual.

“Within his circle of friends, James Dean was very funny,” Gehring said. “He was great at doing imitations. His friends hated it when he’d do imitations of them; he was so dead-on.”

Gehring said despite Dean’s image as a super-cool teenager in “Rebel Without a Cause,” the real actor was shy with extremely poor vision.

“He was blind without his glasses,” Gehring said, “That famous, distant look in his eye might have been just him not wearing glasses. His greatest acting skill might have been navigating a set.”

As for the actor’s sexuality, Gehring said there has been a lot of misinformation circulating in the media.

Gehring said there is no doubt Dean had homosexual relationships, but he was likely using them as a way of getting better roles, much like other stars of the period, such as Marilyn Monroe.

“If he used sex to advance his career, that’s not terribly surprising,” Gehring said. “At that time it was very common. At that point it did open some doors for him and got him into some places.”

This was in keeping with the actor’s personality, he said.

“Dean was a kind of an intellectual vampire,” Gehring said. “He would pull something out of somebody then basically move on. He didn’t have a lot of patience. He was a bit of a user who probably used the sexual card once or twice.”

Gehring said Dean’s passion didn’t end with furthering his acting career. He was nuts about photography and obsessed with bullfighting, but it was his intense fascination with race car driving that would result in his death.

“He was careless; an awful driver,” Gehring said. “On a track, he was a good, traditional driver, but put him in a normal driving situation, he was terrible.”

In popular culture, Dean’s death and the famous “Rebel without a Cause” chicken scene are often blended, giving the impression that the actor didn’t care if he lived or died.

The circumstances of Dean’s death have become larger than life. The brand new Porche 550 Spider racing down a stretch of dusty Califronia road with the ill-fated Dean at the wheel has become the stuff of legend. He was on his way to race in Salinas, Calif., when his car slammed into a truck driven by local farmer Donald Turnipseed.

“Dean had been busy filming ‘Giant,’ and he wasn’t allowed to race, so he was driving his car to the race,” Gehring said. “His mechanic, who was in the car during the accident, thought it was a good idea to drive the car to the race for practice.”

Gehring said if the weather had been different that day, Dean might have lived.

“If it had rained, they would have taken it to the race in a trailer instead of driving it there.”

James Dean

He died 50 years ago today. To watch him on film is to grieve his passing all over again. No other actor had the power to make us feel this way.

James Dean has been dead for 50 years. That's hard to imagine, just as it's hard to imagine that he was ever alive, at least alive in the normal sense of occupying space and being in only one place at any given time. These mundane facts -- life, death, time, space -- are hard to reconcile with the whole Dean package, the talent, the legend and the iconography that have accumulated around his memory in the years since his fatal smash-up on Sept. 30, 1955.

He was in a race, and today he reaches the finish line. He should have been 74 years old and contemplating his mortality. Instead he is 50 years dead and entering classic immortality. He never heard the Beatles. He probably never heard of Jack Kennedy, read Jack Kerouac or listened to Elvis. He is from another time. He wouldn't recognize us, and though we think we know him, we don't really. Not completely. There's something there. We keep going back, and Dean remains, always giving, always revealing and always, somehow, elusive.

He is the only actor I know who's impossible to watch without knowing he's dead. You can watch Humphrey Bogart and forget about it. You can even watch Marilyn Monroe and forget about it. But with Dean, his being dead seems part of the point. To watch him is to simultaneously grieve him. There he is, so emotional, and he's dead; so young and beautiful, and he's dead. For most classic actors, death is just a passing phase, a speed bump that the public consciousness encounters and processes, on the way to seeing the actor as alive again, if only in art. But Dean's is the death that keeps on giving.

Maybe we're still not over it. We assume we are, until we see him again, in "East of Eden," "Rebel Without a Cause" or "Giant," and then the mix of feelings comes back -- the what-a-waste sadness, the fascination, the astonishment at witnessing a singular talent, and the exalted weirdness of seeing the beginning of something wonderful, the end of something wonderful and the flowering of something wonderful, all at the same time.

What happened to Dean is what everyone fears, at least fleetingly, in the wake of a great success: sudden disaster. "East of Eden," released in early 1955, had made Dean a major actor and a star on the rise. He had made two more films, yet to be released, and he died. Both of those performances merited Oscar nominations for best actor, and it's a mark of his accomplishment -- of how far he'd traveled in so short a time -- that he probably would have gotten those nominations had he lived. This wasn't sentimentality. Dean was that good, that soon.

It's all too tempting to lump Dean's life and his work together and regard him as some kind of pop culture masterpiece, but such thinking leads nowhere, making random events seem inevitable in retrospect. It's better to back up and consider Dean as a man who worked hard to become a good actor, who succeeded in his efforts and whose film work had meanings and consequences.

In many ways, he was lucky. At 18, he left home in Indiana, went to Hollywood and almost immediately started getting extra work in films and television. When he was 20, he moved to New York, got accepted to the Actors Studio, got theater work and right away started getting parts on the live TV dramas of the day. We tend to think of Dean's career as meager, just three films, but if his surviving TV appearances were ever released to DVD, we'd see that his recorded body of work was substantial, even remarkable for a guy who died at 24. He appeared on TV six times in 1952, 16 times in 1953, six times in 1954 and once in 1955, after the release of "East of Eden." In many of these, he had lead roles.

His talent was always there, but in his TV appearances, especially, we can see him trying things on and defining himself. In the quizzical way he'd look at people -- wincing and smiling, arrogant yet defensive -- we can see echoes of Marlon Brando, who was seven years his senior and already an established star. In his Hollywood career, he was still taking chances and experimenting, changing lines from take to take and adding bits of business. It helped that he worked with superior directors, veterans who had elicited brilliant acting performances over the years: Elia Kazan, Nicholas Ray and George Stevens.

His three feature films are high-quality products, though in retrospect none is wholly satisfying as a James Dean movie. To fully get Dean, it's really necessary to see all three. "East of Eden" shows Dean as a young rebellious man in conflict with his father. "Rebel Without a Cause" finds him in his most archetypal mode, and the one that most seemed to express his inner self. But Dean plays a teenager in "Rebel," and he was already a man. In "Giant," he gets to play his own age -- and then ages another 20 or 25 years -- but he does so in an eccentric character part, so he isn't exactly like himself.

Really, you have to put those three movies in a blender, together with those photos of Dean walking down the street, to get the full Dean, the one who in himself personified the alternative 1950s, the jazz-club and beatnik '50s, the '50s that became, culturally, the '60s.

When we take him as a whole, it becomes clear that, partly by design and partly by happenstance, Dean brought a lot into this world. He made weakness cool. He made emotion cool. He made being artistic cool. He made being sensitive cool. He made being tortured cool. Dean was the facade of manhood, crumbling; he was aching sensitivity under a hard shell and a leather jacket, 14 years before Woodstock came and the warrior disappeared, leaving only the weenie in his wake.

Years before anybody talked about a generation gap, he embodied it. Not that Dean wanted to kill everybody over 30; on the contrary, he wished everybody over 30 would stop being dead. He expressed the pain of a young man anticipating his spiritual execution at the hands of society. Likewise, a generation before Robert Bly wrote about it in "I Am John," Dean played men starving for male companionship, for some kind of father connection and for some way of living in the world that did not represent a deadening compromise with the inner self. His work was a brief for a more humane vision of life.

Everybody who writes about Dean ends up writing in this way: We begin in first gear, soon start speeding and end up losing contact with the earth. It has all to do with Dean, not his death, but what he did with his life. His work remains pure, 50 years later, because of his almost naive faith in the importance of emotion, of the sanctity of the inner self. That faith inspired a generation of actors. It might have inspired a generation, period.

What would it have been like to have an artist with that conviction and intensity working in the most popular art form for the last 50 years? Would movies be a little different? Would Dean have gotten cynical? Would he have been corrupted? Would he have gained 100 pounds like Brando? Would he have gained another 100 pounds like Brando? Would he have given up movies eventually? Would he have kept his spark, like Dennis Hopper? Would he have become a director, like Clint Eastwood? Would he have played cops? Would he have starred in love stories? And what would he have been like in the 1960s? And in the 1970s?

You can find the answers to those questions in the same history that tells you all about Bobby Kennedy's two terms as president, George Gershwin's symphonies and John Lennon's 1981 world tour -- a good book, but one not available on this planet. The only safe thing to say is that if this young man died at 23 instead of 24, we'd have all been a little poorer for it.

September 22, 2005

WNBA title is special for Lawson

Former Lady Vol's voice mail filled up by calls from friends

Kara Lawson could learn to like sleep deprivation.

"I'm not one to stay up late at all,'' the former Tennessee women's basketball guard said.

That was before she won a WNBA championship as a member of the Sacramento Monarchs. She played a key role in the team's title march, which concluded with Tuesday night's 62-59 victory over the Connecticut Sun.

The joyous celebration for Lawson and her teammates was spilling into a second day on Thursday morning. The Monarchs were making the rounds of the local morning television shows in Sacramento.

"We haven't really slept,'' Lawson said. "It hasn't sunk in.''

Lawson has started the process by reviewing the video of her performance in the postgame celebration. Again, she was a key player, dancing on the scorer's table and slapping hands with courtside fans.

In a phone message, a friend of Lawson's described her as a "raving idiot.''

"It was the first time for a lot of us,'' Lawson said. "We didn't care how we looked.''

Lawson's voice mail is serving as a generous source of perspective. She's received messages from every Tennessee coach (Pat Summitt and assistants) she played for and, by her estimation, at least half of her former UT teammates.

"Maybe more,'' she said, "I didn't count.''

Lawson recognized ex-Lady Vol Shyra Ely's voice only by her message ID.

"Ely didn't say a word,'' Lawson said. "She just screamed all the time.''

Everyone from former UT team managers to former roommates have crowded into her cell phone.

"It means a lot,'' Lawson said. "A lot of them said they feel like they won, too. They're very happy for me.

"So much of who I am as a person and a player is because of what happened when I was in college.''

Or what didn't happen. Despite playing in two national championship games, Lawson never won a title at UT.

She left Tennessee with a great appreciation for the difficulty of the quest. As if she needed any reinforcement, this season has deepened her appreciation. It began with a sprained ankle that cost her seven games and required nearly two months of rehabilitation. The season nearly ended prematurely with a shoulder injury right before the playoffs.

"I think you envision everything going right and you having your best year,'' Lawson said of a championship season, "or at least a good year.''

But that's just how it ended for her as well as the team. The third-year player set playoff game career highs for minutes (35), points (18), field goals made (six), field goals attempted (13), 3-pointers made (four) and free throws made (six).

"I have a championship,'' Lawson said. "I was part of something special.''

September 20, 2005

Monarchs 62, Sun 59

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- After waiting for a championship since the WNBA's founding season, the Sacramento Monarchs finally won it all in style -- their own hard-nosed, defense-first style.

Yolanda Griffith had 14 points and 10 rebounds, and the Monarchs wrapped up their first title with a 62-59 victory over the Connecticut Sun in Game 4 of the WNBA Finals on Tuesday night.

Ticha Penicheiro had six assists and made a free throw with 9.9 seconds left for the Monarchs, one of the league's original franchises. They lost in the Western Conference finals in three of the past four seasons, including a loss to Seattle last year

But with seven victories in eight playoff games this season, Sacramento's revamped roster finally won it all with flair and force.

``I knew this was a special team when everybody reported to training camp,'' said Griffith, the finals MVP. ``I knew then that we had something special. This has been the best season of my career. My teammates made this special. This is just unbelievable.''

Nicole Powell scored 13 points and Rebekkah Brunson had 12 for the Monarchs, who made another big second-half rally and held off another late charge by the Sun, who finished with the WNBA's best regular-season record.

Ashja Jones scored a playoff career-high 21 points, but Connecticut's stars struggled in the biggest game of the season. Taj McWilliams-Franklin and Nykesha Sales accounted for slightly less than half of the Sun's points during their playoff run, but they combined for 20 points on 8-of-28 shooting in Game 4.

Griffith, the veteran power forward who had never won a championship, requested a trade prior to the season when she thought the Monarchs were rebuilding. She went 1-for-6 in the first half of Game 4, but scored six quick points in the second half with her usual tenacious inside play.

Sacramento jumped to a 55-45 lead with an 11-3 run midway through the second half, with only Jones keeping the Sun close. Connecticut made a late rally for the second straight game, pulling to 57-56 with 2:57 to play when the Monarchs tightened up.

Griffith made a key deflection and hit two free throws with 1:44 left, but Katie Douglas hit a 3-pointer with 37 seconds to play. Leading 61-59, the Monarchs ran down the clock and nearly turned over the ball before Penicheiro was fouled by McWilliams-Franklin with 9.9 seconds left.

The eight-year Sacramento veteran made one of two free throws -- and just as in Game 2, the Monarchs had a three-point lead with a few seconds left.

But the Monarchs, who blew a defensive rotation and allowed Brooke Wyckoff's tying 3-pointer late in Game 2, didn't do it again. Sales' desperate 3 didn't make it to the basket in the final second, and Sacramento inbounded the ball to finish it.

The players hugged and danced at midcourt with owners Joe and Gavin Maloof, who joined Kara Lawson in dancing atop the scorers' table. Confetti poured from the rafters at Arco Arena, where a near-sellout crowd was deafening.

Penicheiro addressed the crowd.

``I know it's been eight long years you guys have been with us, waiting patiently for this moment,'' Penicheiro said. ``Now we're the champions. We wanted to celebrate in front of you guys. We wouldn't be standing right here if it wasn't for you.''

After Houston and Los Angeles won the WNBA's first six titles from 1997-02, Sacramento is the league's third new champion in three seasons. Detroit won it all in 2003, and Seattle was the defending champion.

After adding the sharpshooting Powell and a new defensive focus in the offseason, the Monarchs went 25-9 to finish with the conference's best record, then swept both early playoff rounds.

Sacramento won the series opener in Connecticut with the suffocating defense that won the Western Conference title, but the Sun evened the series with an overtime victory in Game 2. The Monarchs won 66-55 in Game 3, again relying on defense, superior depth and Griffith's relentless inside play.

``I'm proud. It's what I believe in,'' coach John Whisenant said. ``That basket gets awful hard to make when you're under pressure situations like this game, but defense holds you in there.''

After the raucous opening introductions, the Monarchs appeared to feel the pressure of shooting for the franchise's first title. They made five turnovers in the first six minutes, then managed just one field goal in a 5 1/2 -minute stretch while Connecticut took an 11-point lead.

Playing with all the poise lacked by Sacramento, the Sun jumped to a 31-25 halftime lead. The Monarchs went 10-for-31 in the first half -- and before they took the court again, Whisenant attempted to loosen up his team with a goofy knee-shaking dance in the huddle.

The players laughed, and it worked: Sacramento scored seven points in the first 93 seconds after halftime, taking its first lead on Brunson's tip-in.

September 10, 2005

Basketball Hall of Fame to induct class of 2005

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. - Sue Gunter never sought accolades. She shunned the limelight and shrugged off awards, even though she received plenty.

But this was different. The longtime LSU head coach learned in April she was elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame. By then, emphysema had taken its toll and she could barely talk that day.

But, her longtime assistant, player and friend Pokey Chatman, who was at her bedside, knew this one meant something special.

``She had that gleam in her soft blue eyes and that smirk in the corner of her mouth,'' Chatman said Friday night at Gunter's posthumous enshrinement. ``That said more to me than any words.''

It was one of the more emotional moments as the class of 2005 was enshrined. The others enshrined as coaches were Connecticut coach Jim Calhoun, a Massachusetts native, and Syracuse's Jim Boeheim. Former NBA coach and broadcaster Hubie Brown entered as a contributor and Brazilian women's star Hortencia Marcari represented the international game.

Gunter, the 66-year-old pioneer of the women's game, died Aug. 4, four months after learning she would be honored. She recorded 708 wins and ranked third all-time in women's NCAA history when she retired.

She led LSU to 14 NCAA berths and a Final Four appearance. She had missed only one game in her career - for her mother's funeral - before suffering a severe emphysema attack on her way to a game in January 2004.

Chatman became the interim coach, and the next season became the head coach, taking the teams Gunter had built to the Final Four both times.

``I should be the least nervous person here,'' Chatman said. ``I only had to do one thing to stand here tonight and that was to choose Louisiana State University as a high school senior.''

What followed, Chatman said, was ``18 years of witnessing Coach Gunter's mastery.''

``I learned a lot about basketball,'' Chatman said. ``I learned more about life.''

Hall-of-Fame coach Pat Summitt, the winningest coach in women's college basketball, also was on hand for the ceremony. Summitt played on the 1976 U.S. Olympic team on which Gunter served as an assistant, and she was an assistant to Gunter on the 1980 U.S. team.

``She taught me that it's OK to let down your guard and allow your players to get to know you,'' Summitt said. ``They don't care how much you know until they know how much you care.''

Calhoun played his college ball in the 1960s across town from rival Springfield College, which then housed the fledgling basketball Hall of Fame, and would often visit the site hoping someday to meet those enshrined. His career came full circle Friday when UConn's two-time NCAA champion coach was enshrined.

``Now the game has taken me back to Springfield and I am so deeply honored and humbled to be in such a sacred place,'' Calhoun said.

Calhoun, 63, has remained true to his New England roots. The Braintree, Mass., native coached 14 years at Northeastern and, now in his 20th year at UConn, helped turn that popular regional program into a perennial powerhouse. Fellow New Englander and Boston Celtic great Bob Cousy presented Calhoun. More than 50 of his former and current players also attended, including Emeka Okafor, Caron Butler Ben Gordon.

``You have filled my life with so many memories and so many treasures,'' he told his players, asking them all to stand. ``You have dared to dream and have enriched my life and made this special game even more beautiful.''

The career of fellow Big East coach Boeheim has followed a similar path. Boeheim, 60, grew up in Lyons, N.Y., about 40 miles from Syracuse, his alma mater. He co-captained the Orange with roommate and future Hall of Famer Dave Bing, who presented him.

``You can't describe what it means,'' Boeheim said. ``When you start out at 5 years old and all you want to do is play basketball and when you can't play anymore you want to coach the game, how do you describe it. It's almost impossible.''

He led the Orange to the NCAA title in 2003 and is entering his 30th year on the bench at Syracuse. He and Calhoun have a combined 26 Big East regular-season and tournament titles. Both enter this season with 703 wins, tied for sixth on the active career victory list.

Humbled and grateful for the honor, Boeheim expects life to change very little in the coming weeks and months.

``It's a tremendous honor but it's like anything you get in life. It really doesn't change the future,'' Boeheim said. ``You still have to go out and recruit and try to do the best coaching job you can. There is no better honor but it's not going to help us beat anybody.''

Brown's NBA coaching career spanned nearly three decades, with stints in-between and after as a basketball broadcaster. Eight of his former NBA assistants have gone on to head coaching spots in the league. Brown, 71, earned NBA coach of the year honors twice, 26 years apart but each time for helping turn a young franchise - Atlanta and Memphis - into playoff contenders.

``This is a tremendous honor because I'm stepping into this class with three coaches that I have the greatest respect for,'' Brown said. ``They are coaches' coaches.''

Brown was most gratified by the ability to find success in different decades with the same basketball principles.

``No one is bigger than the team. You're going to be on time, you're going play hard, you're going to know your job and you're going to know when to pass and shoot,'' Brown said. ``If you can't do those four things you're not getting time here and we don't care who you are.''

Marcari, known worldwide simply as 'Hortencia,' dominated the international game during the 1990s. She led Brazil to the 1994 World Championship where she averaged 27.6 points a game. She said her biggest thrill was scoring the winning bucket to beat Australia and qualify Brazil for the Barcelona Olympics in 1992.

She rose to fame in a country in which soccer is king and basketball, at the time, an afterthought.

``For a country with no tradition in basketball, with no support, when there is an opportunity, even a small one, anything is possible,'' she Marcari said.

The 45-year-old said she looks forward to returning to the hall someday with her two young sons.

``She knows her name will be here forever and she wants her kids to see how important their mother was in Brazil,'' she said through interpreter Quevia Leite said. ``They never saw her play and so they will know.''

Also honored Friday night with the Curt Gowdy Media Award were Sports Illustrated senior writer Jack McCallum and longtime Philadelphia broadcaster Bill Campbell. Marty Blake, NBA director of scouting, received the 2005 Bunn Lifetime Achievement Award, named in honor of John Bunn, the first chairman of the hall of fame committee.

September 06, 2005

Pirates Fire NcClendon
Mackanin takes over as interim manager

PITTSBURGH -- Lloyd McClendon was fired Tuesday as manager of the Pittsburgh Pirates with the team only one defeat away from a fifth consecutive losing season. Bench coach Pete Mackanin is set to serve as interim manager for the rest of the season.

The team is expected to immediately begin searching for a replacement for McClendon, a former Pirates player and coach who was on the verge of becoming the first manager in team history to have five consecutive losing seasons. The Pirates have not had a winning season since winning the NL East in 1992.

The talent-thin Pirates, who only this season began a concerted effort to rebuild with youth, averaged 91 losses in McClendon's first four seasons. With a 55-81 record going into Tuesday night's game against Arizona, they were tied with Colorado for the NL's worst record.

The Pirates held a club option on McClendon for 2006 and, after an encouraging start that saw them reach .500 at 30-30 on June 11, the team began talking to McClendon about next season. But the Pirates have since lost 51 of 76 games and appear headed for their fourth season of 90 or more losses since 1999.

The Pirates have lost four straight, nine of 10 and 14 of 18. They also have dropped eight in a row at home, their longest streak since PNC Park opened in 2001.

Once they lose another game, the Pirates' 13 consecutive losing seasons will be three short of the major league record.

Bob Denver of 'Gilligan' Fame Dies at 70

LOS ANGELES - Bob Denver, whose portrayal of goofy first mate Gilligan on the 1960s television show "Gilligan's Island," made him an iconic figure to generations of TV viewers, has died, his agent confirmed Tuesday. He was 70.

Denver died Friday at Wake Forest University Baptist Hospital in North Carolina of complications from treatment he was receiving for cancer, his agent, Mike Eisenstadt, told The Associated Press. Denver's death was first reported by "Entertainment Tonight."

Denver had also undergone quadruple heart bypass surgery earlier this year.

Denver's wife, Dreama, and his children Patrick, Megan, Emily and Colin were with him when he died.

"Bob is the finest human being I have ever known," Dreama Denver said in a statement released by Eisenstadt. "He was my everything and I will love him forever."

Denver's signature role was "Gilligan," the inept first mate of the tour boat the Minnow, whose bumbling got a group of tourists marooned on an uncharted desert island for three seasons in the 1960s and several movies for decades afterward.

But when he took the role in 1964 he was already known to TV audiences for another iconic character, that of Maynard G. Krebs, the bearded beatnik friend of Dwayne Hickman's Dobie in the "The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis," which aired from 1959 to 1963.

September 05, 2005

Garbo gets stamp of approval from U.S., Sweden

NEW YORK - Greta Garbo died 15 years ago, almost half a century after she made her last film, and still people won't leave her alone. Which is good news for her many fans.

On September 23, five days after the 100th anniversary of her birth, the U.S. Postal Service will unveil a Garbo stamp at the Scandinavia House here in New York; it'll be a joint issue with the Swedish Post, which will hold its own event that day in Stockholm. (The stamp, for the record, is based on a photograph of Garbo at age 27, taken in 1932 by MGM's Clarence Bull during the filming of "As You Desire Me"; engraver Piotr Naszarkowski adapted that image for the stamp.)

Meanwhile, new books on G.G. are finding their way to bookshelves, one of the most striking being Mark Vieira's "Greta Garbo: A Cinematic Legacy," a sumptuous coffee-table tome, extensively illustrated with Garbo stills (and few faces have been more photogenic) along with extensive discussions of each of the Garbo films.

And further, Turner Classic Movies this week begins a monthlong showing of 21 of Garbo's films begins, starting with a new, 90-minute Kevin Brownlow documentary titled, simply, "Garbo." Narrated by Julie Christie, it recaps the unique Garbo saga and includes many eye-poppers, including a rare look inside Garbo's East Side apartment in Manhattan (full of vivid colors, vibrant paintings and exquisite antiques), and boasts 122 seconds of screen tests done in 1949 for a film she came close to doing for producer Walter Wanger based on Balzac's "The Duchess of Langeais."

This was eight years after Garbo had made her final film (1941's "Two-Faced Woman," a colossal bomb), and it was done not only to help Wanger secure backing for his film but also to see whether Garbo, at 43, was still as arresting as she had been in her heyday.

Wanger never got his money, but Garbo never looked more beautifully alive and radiant. Like a slap to the cheek, it's a jolting confirmation of what we all lost when, at age 36, she chose to step away from the cameras and never again work as an actress.

September 02, 2005

Indiana 58, New York 50

INDIANAPOLIS -- Indiana's Tamika Catchings and Natalie Williams knew what to expect from the playoff-tested New York Liberty.

Catchings finished with 19 points and 11 rebounds, and Williams had 13 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Fever to a 58-50 win over the Liberty on Thursday night and a sweep of the first-round playoff series.

The Fever advance to the Eastern Conference finals for the first time and will face the winner of the Connecticut-Detroit series, with the best-of-three set to begin on Sept. 8.

Becky Hammon scored 14 points for the Liberty, who eliminated Indiana in three games in the Fever's only other playoff appearance in 2002.

``When they beat us in New York, they were so physical. We were just getting beat up,'' Catchings said of the Liberty's playoff win three seasons ago. ``We knew they were going to beat us up again tonight. We just had to keep attacking, and make them do something different.''

Williams said defense made the difference, especially after the Fever missed 20 of 21 shots during the second half.

``What it comes down to is what it has been all year -- defense,'' Williams said. ``We miss 20 or 21 in a row, and our defense saves us.''

She said she was not happy with her performance in Game 1, when she had eight points and four rebounds.

``I made sure to come out and do all the little things, play great defense,'' she said.

The league awarded her for that great defense, naming her defensive player of the year before the game.

``Our Achilles' heel all season has been allowing offensive rebounds, and that came back to bite us tonight,'' Hammon said of the Fever's 14-4 edge in offensive rebounds.

``We dug ourselves such a hole that we had to exert a lot of energy to try to get back in it,'' she said. ``I think once we made our surge, there was not enough left to finish it up.''

Liberty coach Pat Coyle said the Fever's defense made the difference.

``I was surprised we didn't handle the pressure better,'' she said. ``They got us out of a lot of things we wanted to run. They will guard you, rebound and not turn the ball over.''

The Fever led by as many as 14 points in the first half and withstood a late rally, led by Liberty center La'Keshia Frett, who finished with 13 points.

Frett scored nine points, including seven straight, and Shameka Christon scored on a fast-break layup, helping the Liberty outscore the Fever 11-2 for their first lead at 37-35 with 7:50 remaining.

Catchings, who was named the WNBA defensive player of the year before the game, answered with a 3-pointer from the right corner, Miller scored on a fast break and then added a 3-pointer to put the Fever ahead 43-37 with six minutes remaining. Frett hit two free throws as the Liberty pulled within 49-45 with 2:30 to play.

But the Fever outscored New York 9-5 over the last 2 minutes, all on free throws.

September 01, 2005

Indiana 63, New York 51

NEW YORK -- Tully Bevilaqua showed why the Indiana Fever signed her away from the defending champions in the offseason.

Tamika Catchings had 19 points and 12 rebounds, and Bevilaqua added 14 points -- including a key 3-pointer with 1:33 left -- to lead the Fever over the New York Liberty 63-51 Tuesday night in the opener of their first-round WNBA playoff series.

``She has the ability to step her game up in big games,'' coach Brian Winters said. ``She did that last year in Seattle when Sue Bird went out. She showed how good she was. When Sue couldn't play with her broken nose, she came in and played extremely well.''

Deanna Jackson had nine points, including a pair of tiebreaking free throws with 2:59 remaining as Indiana closed the game with a 14-2 surge after the Liberty came back from a 10-point deficit.

Game 2 in the best-of-three series is Thursday night at Indianapolis.

Bevilaqua, who won the title with the Storm a year ago, took a charge from New York's Becky Hammon 11 seconds after Jackson gave Indiana the lead. Catchings made two free throws with 2:35 left, and Bevilaqua hit her 3 just before the shot clock expired a minute later to push the lead to seven points and the Liberty got no closer than five thereafter.

``She hit that shot when we needed it,'' Catchings said.

Vickie Johnson had 17 points and Hammon nine -- all in the first half -- for the Liberty. Elena Baranova added seven points and seven rebounds.

``We didn't buckle down on the defensive end,'' Johnson said. ``We didn't take care of our individual defense. We had to give too much help, so we left shooters open.''

Making just its second postseason appearance, Indiana has the next two games -- if necessary -- at home to advance to the conference finals. In 2002, the Fever won the opener of their first-round series at home against the Liberty, but then lost the next two games at New York.

``We can be happy tonight, but tomorrow we have to come back and get back to business,'' Catchings said. ``Everyone has to stay mentally focused.''

After shooting 49 percent in the first half, the Liberty were just 7-for-23 from the field after the break.

``We have to get to the offensive glass,'' Hammon said. ``We didn't crash the boards when we should have. We settled for jumpers instead of getting to the line.''

The Liberty took a 29-27 lead on Johnson's driving layup 15 seconds into the second half.

Jurgita Streimikyte made a layup and hit a jumper to start a 16-4 spurt over the next eight minutes and give the Fever a game-high 10-point lead.

New York then started climbing back. Erin Thorn made a layup and Cathrine Kraayeveld hit a 3-pointer to cut the deficit to 43-38 with 9:02 left.

After Kraayeveld hit two free throws to make it 45-40 with 7:42 remaining, Catchings missed a 3 and two free throws on consecutive possessions. Johnson's three-point play cut the lead to two with 6:10 left.

Catchings' jumper pushed the Fever's advantage to 49-44 nearly two minutes later. But Crystal Robinson made both shots from the line, and Baranova hit a tying 3 with 3:21 left.

``I thought we were right in the game,'' Liberty coach Pat Coyle said. ``We did a pretty good job to get back into the game, and then we made some mistakes. We can't have it in playoff time. We made crucial mistakes at times when we couldn't afford it.''

Indiana hit 11 of 12 free throws in the final three minutes to take the game.

The Liberty used a 10-0 run, capped by Hammon's jumper, to take a 22-14 lead with 7:24 left in the first half.

After Natalie Williams hit a pair of free throws for Indiana, Hammon made a 3 to give New York a nine-point lead -- its biggest of the game -- with 5 1/2 minutes remaining in the half.

The Fever scored nine straight points and tied it at 25 on Bevilaqua's 3-pointer with 40 seconds to go half. Baranova made two free throws 10 seconds later, and Catchings had an alley-oop layup with 9 seconds left to tie the score at 27 at the break.