Jane Hutcheon


28 Aug

I Could Have Danced All Night... celebrity Life

Jane Hutcheon

Backstage this afternoon after interviewing Dame Julie Andrews and her daughter Emma Walton-Hamilton in the Concert Hall of the Sydney Opera House for Opera Australia and Destination NSW.

Share this post:

comments powered by Disqus

06 Sep

Biff Hartman celebrity Life

Jane Hutcheon

I recently watched a classic movie called A Patch of Blue from1965.

It starred the great Sidney Poitier and a lovely, fragile-looking actress named Elizabeth (Biff) Hartman.

In the drama, she plays Selina, a young blind woman who's mistreated by her mother. Selina falls in love with a doctor, Gordon (played by Poitier). She doesn't know initially that he is black.

A Patch of Blue was Biff Hartman's first film. Incredibly, she won an Oscar for it, as Best Supporting Actress

She had only just arrived in Hollywood from a small town in Ohio at the age of 21. She was the new 'next best thing' in the glamorous world of acting.  She scored a few more roles, got married, and then in 1987 at the age of 43, she died by suicide.

For some people, life after celebrity is incredibly difficult.  

In an interview with the New York Times Biff said:

That initial success beat me down. It spiraled me to a position where I didn't belong. I was not ready for that.

And people like Joe Don Baker, one of Hartman's co-star's, had this to say:

I was so upset when I heard (of her death). But I wasn't surprised. Nothing surprises me in this town. There are a lot of (people) here who won't stick with someone when they're down. She was a great actress. She should have been working. I keep thinking that acting is a noble profession, but it's nothing but a garbage pail. I wish more people had helped her.

Half a century on, are we better at helping people manage the pressures of sudden celebrity?  Or do we watch as they sink or swim, assuming they can manage? 

Something to ponder in the approach World Mental Health Day on October 10.   


Share this post:


26 Sep

Oscar Wilde celebrity One Plus One

Jane Hutcheon

If you studied Oscar Wilde at school or earlier in life, it's worth looking at his life again.

At school, I was taught about his sartorial flamboyance and incredibly quick-wit.  The language still holds up today.

A few days ago, I gave British character actor David Suchet a copy of a book about Oscar Wilde written by the writer's son Vyvyan Holland.  I do this during the interview because Mr Suchet will be playing Lady Bracknell in the London production of The Importance of Being Earnest next year.

How poorly was Wilde treated?  Even his wife changed the family name after his conviction.

I'm reflecting on Oscar Wilde this weekend reading Wilde's Last Stand.

The book I gave David Suchet is out of print, but is simply called Oscar Wilde by Vyvyan Holland.



Share this post:


25 Jun

Sia... Again music celebrity

Jane Hutcheon

...Well, she has just won the APRA Songwriting award :-))

Her interviews are always revealing.  If you can handle the banter, she talks about the songwriting process and how melody is more important than words.  

Here's an interview with Elvis Duran.

But the bit that I'm interested in - as you may already know - is her over-riding desire for privacy and how she can get away with being photographed with a bag over her head, or turning her back to the audience:

"I'm not willing to sacrifice my privacy..  It's possibly for anyone to create this kind of career if they think laterally... but people don't trust or have faith that they can get away with more than they think they can ...You really have to go whore yourself out or hyper- sexualise yourself... it's exhausting.  My friends who are pop-stars are exhausted."

Can we appreciate talent without slapping on the burden of extreme celebrity?

Share this post:


24 Jun

Sting Finds His Voice music celebrity

Jane Hutcheon

(If I had written GORDON SUMNER would you have known who I meant?)

The rock star was born in Wallsend, North-East England in the shadow of a huge shipyard at the end of his street. His Mum was a hairdresser and his Dad was a milkman and engineer (interesting cocktail?).  You can read more about his life in Wikipedia if you like, but I've just finished listening to his TedTalk about how he had songwriters' block which lasted for some years.

He broke the drought by starting to write about people OTHER than himself and now he has a story and a musicial to tell and sell about growing up by a shipyard. I guess the bit I found interesting was that after watching The Queen Mother coming to the shipyard in a Rolls Royce, he dreamed of a life bigger than the one he had:

"Well, I wasn't cured of anything. It was the opposite, actually. I was infected. I was infected with an idea. I don't belong in this street. I don't want to live in that house. I don't want to end up in that shipyard. I want to be in that car. (Laughter) I want a bigger life. I want a life beyond this town. I want a life that's out of the ordinary. It's my right. It's my right as much as hers."

I think it's great to dream. I also think Sting was an immensely talented songwriter. Dreaming of fame and celebrity (and doing Jaguar ads) is one aspiration, your life is no less creative if you write a book that stays in your top drawer. 

But I do like the idea of having great ocean-liners being crafted at the end of your street and the idea that they sail away into the unknown while we can often live in their shadows... often for a lifetime. 

May you hop into a tinny, cast off, set out into the lagoon of life and catch a whiting or two or three.

And then, like Sting, give away your fortune the nearest grateful cat.

Share this post:


23 Jun

Sia music celebrity

Jane Hutcheon

It's rare we get to hear from Australian-born singer/songwriter Sia, so this interview with Howard Stern is quite revealing.  She doesn't like to be photographed because she fears losing her 'serenity real-estate'.  In other words, she doesn't want to be recognised everywhere she goes.

Her soon-to-be-released album is sure to do well after the single Chandelier went viral on You Tube.

She says in the interview, she was so attached to this song that she couldn't hand it over to Rihanna.

Unlike many artists, she is not contractually obliged to promote her records and she has enough money (and three homes) simply to make music for her fans.

And that, is true fortune.  She retains freedom of movement, freedom of expression and the control of her product. Lucky (and talented) Sia.

Share this post: