Tuesday, May 23, 2017

The Science of Peer Pressure

The following infographic defines and illustrates both the negative and positive aspects of peer pressure.  It provides you with tips on how to help your child deal with the demands of these everyday pressures.  It serves as a guide on how to recognize these situations and it demonstrates how making the best decisions for you and your child is a skill that can be learned.  The purpose of this infographic is to make you feel more comfortable when peer pressure occurs. I hope you find it useful and informative.

- Joanne

The Science of Peer Pressure
The Science of Peer Pressure by Wooden Toy Shop

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Phyllis Gates: The Woman Who Married Rock Hudson

In the multitude of misused Hollywood women, Phyllis Gates, who has died aged 80, must rank among the saddest. She never made a film, or even auditioned for one. But she married Rock Hudson, one of the movie industry's biggest stars. Unknown to Gates, their union, in 1955, was fixed. She always said the marriage was for love but - like most of the world - she did not know the truth about her husband: that he was gay and risked possible exposure in a scandal magazine. 

- Christopher Reed
The Guardian, March 16, 2006

Phyllis Lucille Gates was born in Dawson, Minnesota on December 7, 1925 and was raised on a farm.  After working as a secretary for New York City theatrical agent Maynard Morris, Phyllis decided to relocate to Los Angeles  In Tinseltown, she became the secretary for influential Hollywood talent agent Henry Wilson.  Wilson was the agent for some of Hollywood's greatest stars and had played an integral role in elevating the careers of Lana Turner and Natalie.Wood.

However, there was much more to Henry Wilson.  He was largely responsible for the "beefcake" craze of the 1950s and presided over a stable of attractive male clients with stage names such as Tab Hunter, Rory Calhoun, Troy Donahue and Guy Madison.  Wilson was homosexual and many, but not all, of his clients were also gay or bisexual. They were expected to keep this aspect of their life hidden from the public.  One of Wilson's  most prominent clients was a Chicago-born truck driver named Roy Fitzgerald.  Wilson changed the truck driver's name to Rock Hudson and transformed him into a Hollywood leading man.

After his first leading role in 1954's Magnificent Obsession, Rock Hudson's popularity began to soar. However, he was hiding a secret that would most certainly have put an end to his career back then. Unknown to his film-going fans, Hudson was gay. Confidential magazine, a widely-read scandal tabloid, had threatened to expose his covert homosexual life at a time when such a revelation would have ruined the Hollywood heartthrob's success (By 1955, Confidential had a circulation of five million copies per issue).

According to Robert Hofler, author of The Man Who Invented Rock Hudson: The Pretty Boys and Dirty Deeds of Henry Wilson, Wilson managed to stave off the tabloid by disclosing information about Rory Calhoun's years in prison and Tab Hunter's arrest at a gay party in 1950.  It wasn't long after the Confidential incident that the talent agent began promoting a romance between Phyllis Gates and Rock Hudson. Wilson invited the pair to join him for drinks and dinner and with her boss's encouragement, Phyllis eventually found herself dating the handsome film star.  She lived with Rock for a while and then he suddenly proposed marriage to her in Wilson's office. His proposal was immediately accepted.

In October, 1955, Life magazine published a cover story about Rock Hudson entitled "Hollywood's most eligible bachelor."  The article proclaimed that "Fans are urging 29-year-old Hudson to get married - or explain why.not."  With so much pressure on Rock to tie the knot, Henry Wilson soon organized a private wedding for him and Phyllis, Wilson, of course, took care of all the arrangements.
On November 9, 1955, Phyllis and Rock were married in a private ceremony in Santa Barbara, California. Only a few friends and Henry Wilson were in attendance.  At Phyllis' behest, a Lutheran minister was called in at the last minute to perform the ceremony.  Immediately after the ceremony, Wilson called Hollywood gossip columnists Hedda Hopper and Louella Parsons.

Phyllis and Rock Hudson on their wedding day

Phyllis always denied that she married Hudson to cover up his homosexuality.  “I was very much in love,” she told Sara Davidson, co-author of the autobiography Rock Hudson: His Story,  “I thought he would be a wonderful husband. He was charming, his career was red hot, he was gorgeous. How many women would have said no?”

The nuptials occurred soon after the Hudson had finished filming Giant with Elizabeth Taylor and James Dean.  Giant, George Stevens' sweeping epic about wealthy Texas cattle rancher Jordan "Bick" Benedict Jr. (Hudson), was released in 1956.  It was a smash hit at the box office and received ten Academy Award nominations,  Hudson and co-star James Dean were both nominated in the category of Best Actor Actor in a Leading Role.

The newlyweds had a brief honeymoon in Jamaica, after which their marriage began to deteriorate. Phyllis claimed in her biography that the breakup occurred due to Hudson's moodiness, sudden depression and childish tantrums.  She also claimed that he struck her when she referred to a friend of his as a "fruitcake."  In addition, she blamed Henry Wilson's scheming for the failure of her marriage.

In April of 1958, Phyllis filed for divorced, citing mental cruelty.  Hudson did not contest the divorce and Phyllis received $250 a week in alimony for a decade.  She never remarried, but remained in Los Angeles and became a successful interior designer.

After the 1960s, Rock Hudson's popularity on the big screen declined.  However, he did find success on television.  He starred in a number of TV movies and in the hit detective series McMillan & Wife (1971-1977), alongside Susan Saint James.  He also starred in the short-lived drama series The Devlin Connection, which aired in 1982.  

From December 1985 until April 1985, Hudson played the role of  Daniel Reece, a wealthy horse breeder, on the hit prime time soap opera Dynasty. Television viewers were shocked at his frail and gaunt appearance. It was evident that he was very ill. The nature of his illness, however, stunned his fans at a time when AIDS was first coming into public consciousness.  Only Hudson's business manager and a few of his closest friends and companions, including Doris Day and Elizabeth Taylor, knew of his diagnosis.

Rock Hudson during his illness

On October 2, 1985, Rock Hudson died of AIDS-related complications.at his home in Beverly Hills, California.  He was 59 years of age at the time of his passing.  Hudson was the first internationally known star to fall victim of a disease that people knew little about at the time.

In 1986, after,Hudson's death, Phyllis published a memoir entitled My Husband, Rock Hudson.  In her autobiography, she asserted that the was in love with Hudson when they married, and that she was unaware of his homosexuality.  She also denied any involvement in his deception.

In 2003, Phyllis agreed to appear on CNN's Larry King Live.  Larry asked her to describe the first time she set eyes on Rock Hudson.  Here's her exchange with King about their first meeting in Henry Wilson's office:

PHYLLIS: Rock walked in and he said, "Is Henry here?"  And I looked up and up and up and I said, "Yes. Rock, he is."  ]"Okay, I'm gonna go in and see him," he said.  "Okay," I said.  He walked through the door.  I was in love!"

LARRY KING:  But you had an immediate attraction.

PHYLLIS:  Well, who wouldn't?

LARRY KING:  Yeah, who?  You're not kidding.

PHYLLIS:  You bet I did!

On Larry King's show, Phyllis revealed that Rock Husdon's nickname for her was "Bunting."  When King asked her when things started to go wrong in her marriage, she said the problem was Hudson's disinterest.  He would leave home in the middle of the night with friends and he spent months in Europe without her.

Phyllis told King that Rock wanted children and that he gifted her with a great deal of jewellery.  She also told King that she had no inkling of Rock Hudson being gay until after their divorce.  After their divorce, friends told Gates about his homosexuality.  According to Phyllis, Hudson never contacted her after their union was dissolved.

At the time of the Larry King interview, Phyllis had been diagnosed with cancer but felt good and thought she had beaten the disease. On January 4, 2006, however, Phyllis Gates succumbed to lung cancer at her home in Marina del Rey, California.  She was 80 years old at the time of her passing.


* Henry Wilson passed away on November 2, 1978 at the age of 67.  After he was "outed," many of his clients, both gay and straight had abandoned him for fear of being labelled homosexual.  Wilson died of cirrhosis of the liver after struggling with alcoholism and paranoia.  He lived his final days at the Motion Picture & Television Country House and Hospital and was so destitute that there was not enough money to pay for the cost of his gravestone.

Henry Wilson
SourcesMy Husband, Rock Hudson, by Phyllis Gates; Larry King Live 2003 interview with Phyllis Gates; The Man Who Invented Rock Hudson: The Pretty Boys and Dirty Deeds of Henry Wilson, by Robert Hofler; various newspaper articles and Phyllis Gates' obituaries.

- Joanne

Monday, May 15, 2017

Is the dinner party dead?


There once was a time when a small side plate for your bread roll at the dinner table was considered very chic. It was a time when white napkins and prawn cocktails were classic and hostess trolleys an essential home item. Ahhh yes, do you remember the dinner party? With numerous articles on its demise in recent years, you could be forgiven for thinking it something from a more elegant era and that it only exists in your great aunt’s memories. Is the classic dinner party really really dead, though? Terry's Fabrics, a British company, conducted a survey of 1,500 women and has happily revealed that the dinner party is definitely not extinct. The results of the survey appear in the graphic below.

- Joanne

Dinner Party Survey
by Terrys Fabrics.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

World Press Freedom Day: Rise up and support freedom of the press!

                                                                  Banner vector created by Freepik

The basis of our governments being the opinion of the people, the very first object should be to keep that right; and were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter. 

- Thomas Jefferson, 3rd President of the United States
Letter to Edward Carrington, 1787

Today is World Press Freedom Day and I would like to express my unfailing support for the media. The press, of course, is not perfect and it is certainly not above criticism.  However, freedom of the press is a necessary component of democracy.  In fact, there is no democracy without it.  The French author and philosopher, Albert Camus (1913-1960), put it this way in Resistance, Rebellion and Death (1960): "A fee press can of course be good or bad, but, most certainly, without freedom it will never be anything but bad . . ."

One of the first actions of dictators and tyrants is to suspend freedom of the press.  The media may not be armed with guns and bombs, but it is one of the greatest obstacles to dictatorship and totalitarianism.  It's no surprise, therefore, that Adolf Hitler had a very hostile attitude toward the press.  In his 1925 autobiographical book, Mein Kampf, the Nazi leader wrote the following:  "It is the press, above all, which wages a positively fanatical and slanderous struggle, tearing down everything which can be regarded as a support of national independence, cultural elevation, and the economic independence of the nation."

Every day, journalists risk their lives to uncover the truth.  Many die or sustain injuries in war zones. Of course, media outlets are unfairly bias.  Of course, some journalist lack integrity.  Yet, there are many Woodwards and Bernsteins out there.  We need them to uncover scandal and wrongdoing. Their sources should be protected so that they can do their job properly.

Here in Canada, we are not immune to interference with a free press.  It recently came to light that seven Quebec journalists have been under surveillance by the Sûreté du Québect (the Quebec Provincial Police).  South of the border, U.S. President Donald Trump has been demonizing the press at every opportunity.  In February, Trump called the news media "the enemy of the American people."  That is extraordinary language for the President of the United States.  It is the language of a dictator.  It elicited a response from former U.S. president George W. Bush.

Although I strongly disagree with Bush's politics, he was absolutely correct in his reaction to Trump's comments.  He told Today's Matt Lauer that a free press was "indispensable to democracy."  "We need the media to hold people like me to account," he said in his exclusive interview with Lauer.  "Power can be very addictive and it can be corrosive, and it's important for the media to hold people like me to account."  After noting that he spent a large amount of time during his two terms in office trying to persuade Russian leader Vladimir Putin to nurture an independent press, Bush went on to say,, "It's kind of hard to tell others to have an independent free press when we're not willing to have one ourselves"

Donald Trump has expressed nothing but contempt for the New York Times and only approves of media outlets that are favourable toward him, such as Fox News.  Trump doesn't seem to comprehend that the press is not supposed to be a cheering leading team for his administration.  That's why he refers to any news story that he doesn't like as "fake news."

On January 6, 1941, U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt articulated his famous Four Freedoms in his State of the Union Address.  In his speech, FDR proposed four fundamental freedoms that "everyone in the world" should enjoy: Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Worship, From From Want and Freedom From Fear.  Without freedom of speech, which includes freedom of the press, the other three freedoms could not exit.

Sadly, however, freedom of the press is in jeopardy around the world.  Donald J. Trump is sitting in the Oval Office fight now. and America sorely lacks the leadership of a Franklin Delano Roosevelt. The United Kingdom is preparing to leave the European Union. Vladimir Putin is ruling Russia with an iron hand and the far right is in ascendance in Europe. Undoubtedly, we are living in challenging times.  That is why, more than ever, we need freedom of the press.

Freedom of the press is the linchpin of freedoms.  It is precious and must never be taken for granted. It must be cherished as a pillar of democracy.  As such, it should be protected and defended with steadfast vigilance. We can not afford to be complacent.  On this World Press Freedom Day, give a thought to the importance of a free press.  Ask yourself if you would would wish to live in a country without it.

I will leave you with one more quotation, from American author and commentator Dr. DaShanne Stokes:

Fascism thrives in obscurity and darkness.

- Joanne

How to Build a Lego Bedroom

Here is an infographic that will highlight some bedrooms with a Lego design.  Included are a number of creative ideas for beds, wall art, customized items, and accessories.  I hope you find them interesting and useful.

- Joanne

Lego Bedrooms
Lego Bedrooms by Terrys Fabrics.