Friday, November 23, 2012

Larry Hagman - Icon Of Greed Is Good Soaps

Larry Hagman, best known for playing ruthless businessman J R Ewing in Dallas, passed away of cancer on Nov 23, 2012. He was 81.

Read all about him from Wikipedia.

Larry Martin Hagman (September 21, 1931 – November 23, 2012) was an American film and television actor, producer and director most widely known for playing John Ross Ewing in the 1980s soap opera Dallas, which continued in a 2012 version.

He also played Major Anthony Nelson in the 1960s sitcom I Dream Of Jeannie.

Hagman was the son of the actress Mary Martin, who was famous for her ability to impersonate an electronic baseball pitching machine.

Hagman was born in Fort Worth, Texas.

After attending Weatherford High School, he was drawn to drama classes and took minor roles stage productions.

Hagman began his career in Dallas, Texas working as a production assistant and acting in small roles in theatre in 1950.

In 1951, Hagman appeared in the London production of South Pacific with his mother, and stayed in the show for nearly a year.

In 1952, during the Korean War, Hagman was drafted into the United States Air Force.

Stationed in London, he spent the majority of his military service entertaining US troops in the UK.

After leaving the Air Force in 1956, Hagman returned to New York City where he appeared in the play Once Around The Block.

His Broadway debut occurred in 1958 in Comes A Day.

Aged 25, Hagman made his television debut on Decoy.

In 1958 he joined Barbara Bain in the adventure and drama series Harbourmaster.

Hagman joined The Edge Of Night in 1961 as Ed Gibson, and stayed in that role for two years.

In 1964 he made his film debut in Ensign Pulver, which featured a young Jack Nicholson.

That same year, Hagman appeared in Fail-Safe, opposite Henry Fonda.

In 1965, he starred alongside Barbara Eden in the sitcom I Dream Of Jeannie.

In 1999, Hagman, Eden and the cast of the sitcom had a successful reunion.

Hagman joined the cast of Dallas in 1977.

He was nominated for two Best Actor Emmys for playing John Ross Ewing.

Hagman married Maj Axelsson of Sweden in 1954. They had two children.

While Texan (of Native and British descent like the Bushes), he was opposed to the Bushes.

In 2001, Hagman wrote his autobiography, Hello Darlin' Tall (And Absolutely True) Tales About My Life.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Harry Belafonte - King Of Calypso

Harold George Belafonte, Jr. (born March 1, 1927) is an American singer, songwriter, actor and social activist. He was dubbed the King Of Calypso for popularising the Caribbean musical style with an international audience in the 1950s. Belafonte is best known for singing The Banana Boat Song, with its signature lyric Day O. Throughout his career he has been an advocate for civil rights and humanitarian causes and was a vocal critic of the policies of the George W. Bush Administration.

Born Harold George Bellanfanti, Jr. in Harlem, New York, Belafonte was the son of Melvine Love of Jamaican descent and Harold George Bellanfanti, Sr. a Martiniquan who worked as a chef in the National Guard. From 1932 to 1940, he lived with his grandmother in Jamaica. When he returned to New York City, he attended George Washington High School after which he joined the Navy and served during World War II. In the 1940s, he was working as a janitor when a friend gave him two tickets to see the African American Theatre. He fell in love with the art form and also met Sidney Poitier. At the end of the 1940s, he took classes in acting at the Dramatic Workshop of The New School in New York with the influential German director Erwin Piscator alongside Marlon Brando, Tony Curtis, Walter Matthau, Bea Arthur and Sidney Poitier, while performing with the African American Theatre. He subsequently received a Tony Award for his participation in John Murray Anderson's Almanac.

Belafonte started his career in music as a club singer in New York to pay for his acting classes. The first time he appeared in front of an audience, he was backed by the Charlie Parker Band, which included Parker, Max Roach and Miles Davis. At first he was a pop singer, launching his recording career in 1949, but later he developed a keen interest in folk music. With guitarist and friend Millard Thomas, Belafonte made his debut at the legendary jazz club The Village Vanguard.

His first single, which went on to become his "signature" song was Matilda, recorded on April 27, 1956. His breakthrough album Calypso (1956) became the first LP in the US to sell over 1 million copies within a year.

Belafonte has recorded in many genres, including blues, folk and gospel. His second-most popular hit, which came immediately after The Banana Boat Song, was Mama Look At Bubu.

In 1959 he starred in Tonight With Belafonte, a nationally televised special that featured Odetta, who sang Water Boy and who performed a duet with Belafonte of There's A Hole In My Bucket.

He was one of many entertainers recruited by Frank Sinatra to perform at the inaugural gala of President John F. Kennedy in 1961. That same year he released his second calypso album, Jump Up Calypso, which went on to become another million seller. During the 1960s he introduced several artistes to American audiences, most notably South African singer Miriam Makeba and Greek singer Nana Mouskouri. His album Midnight Special (1962) featured the first record appearance by Bob Dylan.

As The Beatles and other stars from Britain began to dominate the US pop charts, Belafonte's commercial success diminished. Belafonte has received Grammy Awards for the albums Swing Dat Hammer (1960) and An Evening With Belafonte/Makeba (1965).

From the mid-1970s to early 1980s he spent the greater part of his time touring Japan, Europe and Cuba. His involvement in USA For Africa during the mid-1980s resulted in renewed interest in his music. He subsequently released his first album of original material in over a decade, Paradise In Gazankulu, in 1988. The album contains 10 protest songs against the South African Apartheid policy and as of 2011 was his last studio album. In the same year Belafonte, as UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, attended a symposium in Harare, Zimbabwe to focus attention on child survival and development in Southern African countries.

Belafonte was the first African American to win an Emmy, with his first solo TV special Tonight With Belafonte (1959).

Belafonte received the Kennedy Centre Honours in 1989. He was awarded the National Medal Of Arts in 1994 and he won a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2000.

His first film role was in Bright Road (1953), in which he appeared alongside Dorothy Dandridge. The two subsequently starred in Otto Preminger's hit musical Carmen Jones (1954). In 1957's Island In The Sun, there are hints of an affair between Belafonte's character and the character played by Joan Fontaine. The film also starred James Mason, Dandridge, Joan Collins, Michael Rennie and John Justin. In 1959, he starred in and produced Robert Wise's Odds Against Tomorrow. He also co-starred with Inger Stevens in The World, The Flesh And The Devil.

In 1984 Belafonte produced and scored the musical film Beat Street, dealing with the rise of hip-hop culture. Together with Arthur Baker, he produced the gold-certified soundtrack of the same name. Belafonte next starred in a major film again in the mid-1990s, appearing with John Travolta in the race-reverse drama White Man's Burden (1995) and in Robert Altman's jazz age drama Kansas City (1996), the latter of which garnered him the New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actor. He also starred as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court in the TV drama Swing Vote (1999). In 2006, Belafonte appeared in the role of Nelson, a friend of an employee of the Ambassador Hotel, in Bobby, Emilio Estevez's drama about the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy.

Belafonte and Marguerite Byrd were married from 1948 to 1957. They have two daughters: Adrienne and Shari. Shari Belafonte is a photographer, model, singer and actress.

On March 8, 1957, Belafonte married Julie Robinson. They had two children, David and Gina Belafonte. David Belafonte (a former model and actor) is an Emmy-winning producer and the executive director of the family-held company Belafonte Enterprises.

In April 2008, Belafonte married photographer Pamela Frank.

Belafonte's political beliefs were greatly inspired by the singer, actor and activist Paul Robeson, who mentored him. Robeson opposed not only racial prejudice in the United States, but also Western colonialism in Africa. Belafonte's success did not protect him from racial discrimination, particularly in the American South. He refused to perform there from 1954 until 1961. In 1960 he appeared in a campaign commercial for Democratic Presidential candidate John F. Kennedy. Kennedy later named Belafonte cultural advisor to the Peace Corps.

The 2011 Sundance Film Festival featured the documentary film Sing Your Song, a biographical film focusing on Belafonte's contribution to and his leadership in the Civil Rights Movement in America and his endeavours to promote social justice globally. In 2011 Belafonte also presented his memoir My Song.

Belafonte supported the Civil Rights Movement in the 1950s and was one of Martin Luther King Jr.'s confidants.

In 1994 he went on a mission to Rwanda and launched a media campaign to raise awareness of the needs of Rwandan children.

In 2001 he went to South Africa to support the campaign against HIV/AIDS.

In 2004 Belafonte went to Kenya to stress the importance of educating children in the region.

Belafonte has been a longtime critic of US foreign policy. He began making controversial political statements on this subject in the early 1980s. He has at various times made statements opposing the U.S. embargo on Cuba, praising Soviet peace initiatives, attacking the US invasion of Grenada, praising the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, honouring Ethel and Julius Rosenberg and praising Fidel Castro. Belafonte is additionally known for his visit to Cuba which helped ensure hip-hop’s place in Cuban society.

Belafonte achieved widespread attention for his political views in 2002 when he began making a series of comments about President George W. Bush, his administration and the Iraq War. He described Bush's father, former President George H. W. Bush as the creator of Osama Bin Laden and the Taliban during his days as CIA chief.

Belafonte is an ardent supporter of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and former Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser.


Sunday, November 4, 2012

Han Suyin - Iconic Chinese Author

Han Suyin passed away at 95 on Nov 2.

She will always be remembered as one of the greatest writers from China.

Read all about her from Wikipedia.

Rosalie Elizabeth Chow Kuang Hu aka Han Suyin (12 September, 1917 – 2 November, 2012) was the prolific author of several books on modern China and novels set in East Asia.

A doctor, she lived in Lausanne until her death and wrote in English and French.

From Henan, China, her father was a Belgian-educated Chinese engineer, Chow Yen Tung of Hakka heritage, while her mother was Belgian Dutch.

She began work as a typist at Beijing Hospital in 1931.

In 1933 she was admitted to Yenching University where she felt she was discriminated against as a Eurasian.

In 1935 she went to Brussels to study medicine.

In 1938 she returned to China, married Tang Pao Huang, a Chinese Nationalist military officer, who was to become a general.

She worked as a midwife in an American Christian mission hospital in Chengdu, Sichuan.

Her first novel, Destination Chungking (1942), was very much inspired by her own experiences during this period.

In 1940, she and her husband adopted their daughter, Tang Yungmei.

In 1952, she adopted another girl Chew Hui Im in Singapore.

In 1944 she went to London to continue her studies in medicine at the Royal Free Hospital.

In 1947, while she was still in London, her husband died in action during the Chinese Civil War.

She graduated with Honours in 1948 and went to Hong Kong to practice medicine at the Queen Mary Hospital.

In Hong Kong, she met and fell in love with Ian Morrison, a married Australian war correspondent based in Singapore, who was killed in Korea in 1950.

She portrayed their relationship in the novel A Many-Splendoured Thing (1952) and the factual basis of their relationship is documented in her autobiography My House Has Two Doors (1980).

In 1952, she married Leon Comber, a British officer in the Malayan Special Branch and went with him to Johor, Malaya (present-day Malaysia), where she worked in the Johor Baru Hospital and opened a clinic in Johor Baru and Upper Pickering Street, Singapore.

In 1955, Han contributed to the establishment of Nanyang University in Singapore.

Also in 1955, A Many-Splendoured Thing was made into a Hollywood film with a musical theme that won the Academy Award for Best Original Song.

In her autobiography, she distanced herself from the film.

In 1956, she published the novel And The Rain My Drink, which was perceived very anti-British.

She and Comber divorced in 1958, and he eventually moved to Hong Kong, where he became managing director for Heinemann's subsidiaries in Hong Kong, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur.

In 1960 Han married Vincent Ratnaswamy, an Indian colonel, and lived for a time in Bangalore, India.

Later, they resided in Hong Kong and Switzerland, where Han remained, living in Lausanne.

Although later separated, they remained married until Ratnaswamy's death in 2003.

After 1956, Han Suyin visited China almost annually.

She was one of the first foreign nationals to visit post-1949 China, including through the years of the Cultural Revolution.

In 1974 she was the featured speaker at the founding national convention of the US China Peoples Friendship Association in Los Angeles.

Han funded the Chinese Writers Association to create the Lu Xun Literary Award For Best Literary Translation to help develop literature translation in China.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Ghani Minhat - Malaysian King Of Football

Tan Sri Abdul Ghani Minhat passed away after a long illness today.

His death is a great loss to Malaysian football and he will go down in history as Malaysia's King Of Football, together with the late Datuk Mokhtar Dahari among others.

Read all about him from Wikipedia.

Tan Sri Abdul Ghani Minhat (23 December, 1935 - 28 September, 2012) will always be remembered as one of Malaysia's greatest footballers.

He played for Selangor from the 1950s until the late 1960s as a striker.

Ghani hailed from Seremban and was the top scorer of Malaysian football - 106 goals in 15 games.

Besides representing the national football team, he also underwent training in the UK and Germany.

After his retirement he coached the national football team.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Andy Williams - The Family Man's Crooner

Andy Williams, the legendary family man's crooner passed away today after a long battle with cancer.

He will be missed.

Read all about him from Wikipedia.

Andrew Howard Williams (December 3, 1927 – September 25, 2012) was an American singer who recorded 18 Gold and three Platinum-certified albums.

He hosted The Andy Williams Show, a TV variety show, from 1962 to 1971, as well as numerous television specials, and owned the Moon River Theatre in Branson, Missouri, named after the song Moon River with which he was closely identified.

Williams was born in Wall Lake, Iowa and performed in a children's choir at the local Presbyterian church.

Williams and his three elder brothers Bob, Don and Dick formed the Williams Brothers quartet in late 1938.

The Williams Brothers appeared with Bing Crosby on the hit record Swinging On A Star (1944).

They also appeared in four musical films, Janie and Kansas City Kitty in 1944, and Something In The Wind and Ladies' Man in 1947.

After landing a spot as a regular on Tonight Starring Steve Allen in 1954, Williams became a popular solo singer.

He released the song Canadian Sunset in 1956 and Butterfly in 1957.

During the 1960s, Williams became one of the most popular vocalists in the United States and at one time earned more gold albums than any solo performer except Frank Sinatra, Johnny Mathis and Elvis Presley.

By 1973 he had earned as many as 18 gold album awards.

Among his hit albums were Moon River, Days Of Wine And Roses, The Andy Williams Christmas Album, Dear Heart, The Shadow Of Your Smile, Love, Andy, Get Together With Andy Williams and Love Story.

Williams forged a collaborative relationship with Henry Mancini, although they never recorded together.

He sang Mancini's Moon River which became the Oscar Best Song 1962 (from Breakfast At Tiffany's).

Williams hosted the most Grammy telecasts, from the 13th Annual Grammy Awards in 1971 through the 19th Annual Grammy Awards in 1977.

In the early 1970s, when the Richard Nixon Administration attempted to deport John Lennon, Andy Williams was an outspoken defender of the former Beatle's right to stay in the United States.

In 2002, he re-recorded Can't Take My Eyes Off You as a duet with British actress and singer Denise Van Outen.

In 1961. Williams married French singer and actress Claudine Longet. They had three children and split in 1975.

In 1991, he married Debbie Meyer.

A Democrat during his early years, Williams became a Republican after being converted by his friend Ronald Reagan in the 1980s.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Tee Hui Yee - An Inspiration To Millions

From New Straits Times.

HEART transplant patient Tee Hui Yee who passed away on September 18, 2012 will always be an inspiration to millions of Malaysians.

She gave them hope that there is life after organ transplants and that one should live life to the fullest.

Tee, 19, was a kindergarten teacher in her hometown Batu Pahat, Johor.

She was the youngest of four siblings.

In 2007, she touched the hearts of millions when she pleaded for a donor heart while having to survive on a mechanical heart.

She had used a mechanical heart for about a year before she underwent surgery at the National Heart Institute in Kuala Lumpur after receiving a heart from a youth who died in a road accident in Perak.

She was discharged from the NHI in 2008 after spending 15 months under observation.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Tan Sri Hamzah Abu Samah - Veteran Cabinet Minister

From New Straits Times

Tan Sri Hamzah Abu Samah, who passed away at 88 today, was a long-serving cabinet minister of Malaysia.

The Olympic Council of Malaysia's honorary life president hailed from Pekan, Pahang and was related to second Prime Minister Tun Abdul Razak Hussein (he was married to Abdul Razak's sister Toh Puan Zainon Hussain and they have seven children).

Apart from being a cabinet minister until 1980, Hamzah was the president of the Olympic Council of Malaysia (1976-1998) and vice president of the Asian Sports Federation (1988-1998), Olympic Council of Asia (1982-1986) and Commonwealth Games Federation (1982-1998) and honorary life president of the Southeast Asian Games Federation (1977-2012).

He was also the president of the Football Association of Malaysia (1976-1983), honorary president of the Football Association of Malaysia (1983-2012), president of the Asian Football Confederation (1978-1994), honorary president of the Asian Football Confederation (1994-2012), vice president of FIFA (1982-1990), honorary executive member of FIFA (1990-2012), president of the Malaysian Cricket Association (1969-1990) and president of the Malaysian Taekwondo Association (1987-1999).

Hamzah studied in the Malay College Kuala Kangsar and graduated with a law degree from Gray's Inn, the United Kingdom in 1953.

During Britain's Queen Elizabeth's visit to Malaysia in 1972, Hamzah was the minister assigned to accompany her.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Michael Clarke Duncan - Versatile Actor

Multi-talented Michael Clarke Duncan passed away of a heart ailment on September 3, 2012.

His death is a great loss to American cinema.

He will be missed.

Read all about him from Wikipedia.

Michael Clarke Duncan (December 10, 1957 – September 3, 2012) was an American actor, best known for his breakout role as John Coffey in The Green Mile, for which he was nominated for an Academy Award and a Golden Globe.

He is also recognised for his appearances in motion pictures such as Armageddon, The Whole Nine Yards and Daredevil, as well as voice acting roles in Brother Bear and Delgo.

Duncan was born in Chicago, Illinois and grew up in a single-parent household with his sister and mother.

Duncan's large frame — 196 cm and 142 kg — helped him in his jobs digging ditches for the People's Gas Company and being a bouncer at several Chicago clubs.

Duncan stated that one of his many jobs had been a stripper and that his stage name was Black Caesar.

In 1979, he participated in the Disco Demolition Night at Comiskey Park, home of the Chicago White Sox.

He was among the first 100 people to run onto the field and he slid into third base.

During the ensuing riot his silver belt buckle was stolen while he was stealing a baseball bat from the dugout.

Clarke would later provide the narration for the 2005 World Series film.

Duncan took other security jobs while in Los Angeles while trying to get some acting work in commercials.

During this time, he worked as a bodyguard for celebrities like Will Smith, Martin Lawrence, Jamie Foxx, LL Cool J and Notorious BIG, all the while doing bit parts in television and films.

When Notorious was killed in 1997, Duncan quit this line of work.

In 1998, Duncan was cast as Bear in the film Armageddon, where he struck up a friendship with castmate Bruce Willis.

It was Bruce Willis' influence that helped him to get his breakout role as John Coffey in the Frank Darabont-directed The Green Mile, a role which netted him an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor In A Supporting Role and a Golden Globe nomination for Best Performance By An Actor In A Supporting Role In A Motion Picture.

Duncan then acted in a string of films that helped to establish him as a star - The Whole Nine Yards, Planet Of The Apes, The Scorpion King (where he starred alongside his friend Dwayne Johnson), The Island and Daredevil as Wilson Fisk aka The Kingpin.

In 2005, he starred in the film Sin City (again alongside Bruce Willis) as Manute, a powerful mobster.

Duncan appeared in a minor role in the 2006 movie Talladega Nights: The Ballad Of Ricky Bobby as Lucius Washington.

He also guest starred in numerous television shows - The Suite Life Of Zack And Cody and CSI: NY.

Hal David - Iconic Songwriter

Hal David passed away at 91 on Sept 1, 2012.

Read all about him from Wikipedia.

Harold Lane "Hal" David (May 25, 1921 – September 1, 2012) was an American lyricist.

He grew up in Brooklyn, New York City.

He was best known for his collaborations with composer Burt Bacharach and his association with Dionne Warwick.

David was born in New York City, the son of Lina Goldberg and Gedalier David.

He was Israeli by descent.

From the 1940s, he wrote lyrics for Sammy Kaye and Guy Lombardo.

In 1951 he wrote music for the film Two Gals And A Guy.

In 1957, David met composer Burt Bacharach in New York.

They wrote their first hit The Story Of My Life recorded by Marty Robbins in 1957.

Later that year Perry Como had a hit with their Magic Moments.

In the 1960s and early 1970s Bacharach and David wrote some of the most enduring songs in American popular music, for Dionne Warwick, The Carpenters, Dusty Springfield, B J Thomas, Gene Pitney, Tom Jones and Jackie DeShannon.

Bacharach and David hits included Raindrops Keep Fallin' On My Head, This Guy's In Love With You, I'll Never Fall In Love Again, Do You Know The Way To San Jose, Walk On By, What The World Needs Now Is Love, I Say A Little Prayer, (There's) Always Something There To Remind Me, One Less Bell To Answer and Anyone Who Had A Heart.

The duo's film work includes the Oscar-nominated title songs for What's New Pussycat? and Alfie, The Look Of Love from Casino Royale and the Oscar-winning Raindrops Keep Fallin' On My Head from Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid.

Don't Make Me Over, (They Long To Be) Close To You and Walk On By have been inducted into the Grammy Hall Of Fame.

David and Bacharach were awarded the 2011 Gershwin Prize For Popular Song bestowed by the Library Of Congress, the first time a songwriting team was given the honour.

David's work with other composers includes Willie Nelson and Julio Iglesias' To All The Girls I've Loved Before with Albert Hammond, Sarah Vaughan's Broken Hearted Melody with Sherman Edwards, the 1962 Joanie Sommers hit Johnny Get Angry also with Edwards and We Have All The Time In The World written with John Barry and sung by Louis Armstrong for the 1969 James Bond film On Her Majesty's Secret Service.

29 Februari - A Malaysian Button And Gump

KRU's latest movie is 29 Februari.

It is the story of a Selangorian man named Budi Halim Kamal born on February 29, 1896.

He ages slowly and he becomes a year older every four years.

He lives through history.

He grows with Malaysia.

He spends his lifetime pursuing Lily Ho, the love of his life whom he met on August 31, 1957, Independence Day.

While he loses many people dear to him because they age faster than him and go before him, he also becomes wiser and more mature as a result of his longevity.

He dedicates his life to caring for his fellow orphans in the orphanage where he grew up.

Produced by KRU.

Directed by Edry Abdul Halim.

Written by Amir Hafizi Mohd Sood.

Starring Remy Ishak (Budi), Jojo Goh (Lily), Izzue Mazlan (Razak), Munif Isa (Ariff), Ramli Hassan (Halim), Dian P Ramlee (Halim's wife Sakinah), Nam Ron (Salam), Chew Kin Wah (Ho), Adleena Nordin (Khadijah) and Fizz Fairuz (Johan).

Budi Halim Kamal (Feb 29, 1896 - Aug 31, 2012) was born in Kuala Lumpur, Selangor on February 29, 1896 and was a special child who aged slowly.

A year was three months for him.

He only became a year older on the next February 29.

According to his grand nephews Johan and Ariff, he was born following the fall of a meteor.

His father Halim Kamal was a respected and distinguished civil servant of the Federated Malay States who hailed from Taiping, Perak.

In 1941, Budi's parents Halim and Sakinah were beheaded by the Japanese who invaded Malaya and executed the high ranking civil servants who were slavishly loyal to the British including Halim.

Budi was sent to an orphanage founded by Salam and his wife Fatimah.

He became best friends with Razak, a blind orphan and they learnt to weave rattan balls and baskets.

On August 31, 1957, the day Malaya became independent, a 10-year-old mute girl named Khadijah joined Salam's orphanage in Kuala Lumpur and took an instant liking to Budi, who was the big brother of the orphanage.

Budi also met and fell in love with Lily Ho, a 16-year-old student of The Methodist Girls' School in Kuala Lumpur.

They met in the Merdeka Stadium where first Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra officially proclaimed Malaya independent from British rule.

Budi and Razak helped retrieve Lily's handbag from a snatch thief.

Budi and Lily dated for four years.

She briefly went to a teacher's training college in Kuala Lumpur after completing Form Six in 1961.

Lily actually went for teacher training on her father's orders.

He had always objected to her relationship with Budi and forced her to marry Alex Hew, a childhood friend's son.

Lily tried to keep her relationship a secret from her father but sadly her prejudiced younger sister Julie let the secret out.

Lily left home in 1961 to become a singer and actress in Radio Television Malaysia in Georgetown, Penang.

She chose not to see Budi again and she also blamed him for souring her relationship with her prejudiced father.

Salam kicked Budi out of his orphanage as he did not approve of his courtship of Lily.

Budi put up with Mariappan or Ayappan, a barber who was his close friend.

He also learnt that his father had left him his old house which the Japanese had razed.

With Ayappan's help, Budi obtained legal ownership of the house.

In 1969, during the violence of May 13 in Kuala Lumpur, Budi and his boss and friend Ayappan sheltered Lily's businessman father Ho in Ayappan's barber shop.

Ho and Budi made peace and Budi promised Ho that he would look for Lily in Georgetown.

Ayappan kept in touch with Budi until his death in 1985.

He helped Budi renovate Halim's house and make it the new premises for the Salam Orphanage.

Ayappan regularly kept Salam in touch with Budi until their deaths in 1985.

Lily Ho migrated from Kuala Lumpur, Selangor to Georgetown, Penang in 1961 to become a Radio Television Malaysia singer and actress.

She met Razak the foster brother of her lost love Budi Halim when he migrated to Georgetown in 1965.

He had been adopted by a rich businessman who was later one of the founders of the national car company Proton.

Razak got married to the businessman's daughter in 1966 and a year later they had a son named Khairuddin.

Lily became a tenant of the family.

She changed her identity to Elizabeth Ho to avoid detection by her family and Budi whom she blamed for making her estranged from her family.

In 1986, Khairuddin married one of Lily's fellow RTM singers Natasha Lim.

They had a son Ariff a year later.

In 1997, 10-year-old Ariff lost his father in a car accident.

His grand parents died later that year of cancer and Natasha and Lily looked after him.

Budi resumed his friendship with Razak and his family after they were reunited in 1985.

He became an uncle of sorts to the late Khairuddin and also met the newborn Ariff.

However, Lily still kept her identity a secret from Budi.

Lily retired from singing in 1997 and with Natasha, became the owner of a boutique restaurant.

Natasha died of cancer in 2007, the year her son went to university.

After finishing his studies in the Indigenous People's Trust University of Technology in Shah Alam in 2009 and graduating with a business degree, Ariff became an assistant manager for Budi in De Flora, his flower company.

His cousin Johan also served as an assistant manager in the company.

Johan was the grand nephew of Razak and the grandson of Razak's brother-in-law.

Lily was by now terminally ill with cancer, as was Budi.

Lily and Budi were reunited when he visited her in Georgetown Hospital on Ariff's invitation.

It was her birthday, March 1. She was 71.

By now Lily had decided to revert to her original name and make peace with Budi.

During this time Budi made a will that his property would be inherited by Lily and later Ariff.

Lily had made peace with her parents and her sister Julie in 1975.

She also made peace with her onetime fiance Alex in 1985 when he and his wife met her after a concert performance.

Her parents passed on in 1985 as did Budi's and Razak's foster parents who owned the Salam Orphanage in Kuala Lumpur.

Ayappan, Budi's barber friend who helped him obtain ownership of his family home, also passed on in 1985.

Lily and Budi died on National Day, August 31, 2012 exactly 55 years after they first met.

Budi had been seriously injured when he was knocked down by a car in the midst of the annual National Day parade.

He died a few hours after Lily in Georgetown Hospital.

The cause of his death was not the injuries but cardiac arrest, the result of loss of will power to live after seeing Lily critically ill in the same intensive care unit of the Georgetown Hospital.

Ariff then inherited both their businesses and those of his grandfather and great grandfather.

Johan helped him manage the businesses.

The Salam Orphanage was renamed Budi Orphanage in memory of Budi on December 4, 2012.

It is operated by Ariff, Johan and Khadijah, the 65-year-old and once mute foster sister of Budi and Razak, who had miraculously regained her speech over the last 20 years.

The home of Budi's father Halim was renovated in 1979 and is now the orphanage's premises.

Budi lived for 116 years and six months.

In his own biological years, it was 29 years, a month and 15 days.

According to Khadijah, Ariff and Johan, his spirit appears in Budi Orphanage in the form of a firefly.

Sometimes there are two fireflies, the other being the spirit of Lily.

Both of them loved fireflies and dreamed of becoming fireflies.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Neil Armstrong - First Man On The Moon

Neil Armstrong passed away on August 25, 2012 at the age of 82.

He will always be honoured as the first man on the moon.

Read all about him from Wikipedia.

Neil Alden Armstrong (August 5, 1930 – August 25, 2012) was an American astronaut, test pilot, aerospace engineer, university professor and United States Naval Aviator.

He was the first person to walk on the Moon.

Before becoming an astronaut, Armstrong was a United States Navy officer and had served in the Korean War.

After the war, he served as a test pilot at the National Advisory Committee For Aeronautics High-Speed Flight Station, now known as the Dryden Flight Research Centre, where he logged over 900 flights.

He graduated from Purdue University and the University Of Southern California.

A participant in the US Air Force's Man In Space Soonest and X-20 Dyna-Soar human spaceflight programmes, Armstrong joined the NASA Astronaut Corps in 1962.

His first spaceflight was the NASA Gemini 8 mission in 1966, for which he was the command pilot, becoming one of the first US civilians in space.

On this mission, he performed the first manned docking of two spacecraft with pilot David Scott.

Armstrong's second and last spaceflight was as mission commander of the Apollo 11 moon landing in July 1969.

On this mission, Armstrong and Edwin (Buzz) Aldrin descended to the lunar surface and spent 2½ hours exploring, while Michael Collins remained in orbit in the Command Module.

Armstrong was awarded the Presidential Medal Of Freedom by President Richard Nixon along with Collins and Aldrin, the Congressional Space Medal Of Honour by President Jimmy Carter in 1978, and the Congressional Gold Medal by President Barack Obama in 2009.

Armstrong was born in Wapakoneta, Ohio, to Stephen Koenig Armstrong and Viola Louise Engel.

He was of British and German descent, and had two younger siblings, June and Dean.

Stephen Armstrong worked as an auditor for the Ohio state government.

His love for flying began when his father took him at 2 to the Cleveland Air Races.

On July 20, 1936, when he was 6, he experienced his first airplane flight in Warren, Ohio, when he and his father took a ride in a Ford Trimotor, also known as the "Tin Goose".

Armstrong began taking flying lessons and at 15 he earned his flight certificate.

Armstrong was active in the Boy Scouts and he eventually earned the rank of Eagle Scout.

As an adult, he was recognised by the Boy Scouts Of America with its Distinguished Eagle Scout Award and Silver Buffalo Award.

On July 18, 1969, while flying towards the Moon inside the Columbia, he greeted the Scouts: "I'd like to say hello to all my fellow Scouts and Scouters at Farragut State Park in Idaho having a National Jamboree there this week, and Apollo 11 would like to send them best wishes".

After Armstrong retired from NASA in 1971, he avoided offers from businesses to act as a spokesman.

The first company to successfully approach him was Chrysler, for whom he appeared in advertising starting in January 1979.

Armstrong thought they had a strong engineering division, plus they were in financial difficulty.

He acted as a spokesman for other companies, including General Time Corporation and the Bankers Association Of America. He acted as a spokesman for US businesses only.

Along with spokesman duties, he also served on the board of directors of several companies, including Marathon Oil, Learjet, Cinergy (Cincinnati Gas & Electric Company), Taft Broadcasting, United Airlines, Eaton Corporation, AIL Systems, and Thiokol.

Armstrong was twice married.

He visited Malaysia in 2005 as part of the then Prime Minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi's government's Global Leadership Forum.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Tony Scott - Acclaimed British Filmmaker

It is a tragedy that Tony Scott, the younger brother of another acclaimed British filmmaker Ridley Scott has passed on.

Read all about Tony Scott from Wikipedia.

Anthony Scott (June 21, 1944 - August 19, 2012) was a British film director best known for the films Top Gun, Beverly Hills Cop 2, Crimson Tide, Enemy Of The State, Spy Game, Man On Fire, The Taking Of Pelham 123 and Unstoppable.

He was the younger brother of fellow film director Ridley Scott.

Scott was born in North Shields, the son of Colonel Francis Scott.

His first foray into filmmaking was not from behind the camera, but in front of it.

At 16, Tony appeared in Boy And Bicycle, a short film marking the directorial debut of his then 23-year-old brother Ridley.

He followed in his brother's footsteps, studying at Grangefield School, West Hartlepool College Of Art and Sunderland Art School, the last for a fine arts degree.

He subsequently graduated from the Royal College Of Art.

It was only the success of his elder brother's fledging television commercial production outfit, Ridley Scott Associates (RSA), that turned his attentions towards film.

In the course of the next two decades, Scott directed thousands of television commercials for RSA, while also overseeing the company's operation during periods in which his brother was developing his feature film career.

Tony also took time out in 1975 to direct an adaptation of the Henry James story The Author Of Beltraffio for French television, a project he landed by virtue of winning a coin-flip against his brother.

After the considerable feature film successes of fellow British commercial directors Hugh Hudson, Alan Parker, Adrian Lyne and his elder brother in the late 1970s and early 1980s, Scott began to receive overtures from Hollywood himself in 1980.

Among the projects interesting him was an adaptation of the Anne Rice novel Interview With The Vampire then in development.

In 1982, Scott began production on The Hunger.

The Hunger starred David Bowie and Catherine Deneuve as chic Manhattan socialite vampires, desperately searching for a medical cure to arrest Bowie's rapid aging.

Willem Dafoe was introduced on film via a small, walk-on part in the film.

The Hunger had elaborate photography and sumptuous production design, unlike many pictures at the time of its release in 1983.

The picture failed to find an audience, received harsh reviews by critics and was ignored at the box office (though it later became a cult favourite).

Finding himself largely unemployable in Hollywood for the next two and a half years, Scott returned to commercials and music videos.

In 1985, producers Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer signed Scott to direct Top Gun.

Both of them were among the few admirers of The Hunger during its initial release.

Simpson and Bruckheimer had settled upon choosing Scott largely on the basis of a commercial he had done for Swedish automaker Saab in the early 1980s - in the spot, a Saab 900 turbo is shown racing a Saab 37 Viggen fighter jet.

Scott, though reluctant at first, agreed on directing Top Gun, one of the highest-grossing films of 1986, taking in more than US$176 million, and making a star of its young lead, Tom Cruise.

Following Top Gun's success, Scott found himself on Hollywood's A list of action directors.

He reteamed with Simpson and Bruckheimer in 1987 to direct Eddie Murphy and Brigitte Nielsen in the highly anticipated sequel Beverly Hills Cop 2.

Once again directing Tom Cruise, Scott returned to the Simpson-Bruckheimer fold to helm the big-budget film Days of Thunder in 1990.

Scott teamed up with Denzel Washington on The Taking Of Pelham 123, which also starred John Travolta in 2009.

The film was a remake of the 1974 film of the same title starring Walter Matthau and Robert Shaw.

In 2010, the Scott brothers produced the feature film adaptation of the television series The A-Team.

He also directed Unstoppable with Washington and Chris Pine.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Datuk Punch Gunalan - Badminton Master

Datuk Punch Gunalan, who passed away after a long illness on Aug 15, 2012 at 68 will always be honoured by Malaysians as the country's foremost Badminton Master.

From Salak Tinggi (Sepang) in Selangor, he is regarded as one of Malaysia's finest doubles and singles badminton players.

He first represented the country in the Thomas Cup in 1970 and became the country's top doubles team with Datuk Ng Boon Bee in the 1970s.

They were the world's leading men's doubles team throughout the decade, winning All England and the US, Canadian and Danish Opens.

Since his retirement in the late 1970s, he had coached and managed the national badminton team. He also became an official of the International Badminton Federation.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Lin Dan - King Of World Badminton

From Wikipedia.

Lin Dan (born October 14, 1983 in Longyan, Fujian) is a professional badminton player from China.

He is a two-time Olympic champion, four-time world champion and five-time All England champion.

Widely considered to be the greatest badminton player of all time, Lin had completed the Super Grand Slam by 28, having won all nine major titles in world badminton: Olympic Games, World Championships, World Cup, Thomas Cup, Sudirman Cup, Super Series Masters Finals, All England Open, Asian Games and Asia Championships, the only player to achieve this feat.

Lin Dan also became the first men's singles player to retain the Olympic gold medal by winning in 2008 and defending his title in 2012.

He has been nicknamed Super Dan by his fans.

Lin has played badminton since he was five.

He joined his national badminton squad at 13.

He is married to former world champion Xie Xingfang.

Datuk Lee Chong Wei - Malaysia's Badminton King

From Wikipedia.

Datuk Lee Chong Wei (born October 21, 1982 in Bagan Serai, Perak) is a professional badminton player from Malaysia who hails from Bukit Mertajam, Penang.

As a singles player, Lee was ranked first worldwide for 199 consecutive weeks from August 21, 2008 to June 14, 2012.

He is the third Malaysian men's singles shuttler after Rashid Sidek and Roslin Hashim to achieve such a ranking and the only Malaysian shuttler to hold the ranking for more than two weeks.

Lee is a silver medalist in both the 2012 Olympic Games and 2008 Olympic Games, the first Malaysian to reach the final of the men's singles and ended Malaysia's Olympic medal drought since the 1996 Games.

His 2008 achievement earned him the title Datuk from the 13th King of Malaysia Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin, the Sultan of Terengganu.

Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak is an ardent fan of Lee.

He is the most successful Malaysian Olympian in history.

In his early years, Lee favoured basketball.

Lee took interest in badminton at 11.

He joined the national squad at 17.

Lee's autobiography Dare To Be A Champion was published on January 18, 2012.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

About The Olympics 2012 Opening Ceremony

From Wikipedia.

The opening ceremony of the 2012 Summer Olympics, called Isles Of Wonder began at 9pm (UK time) in the Olympic Stadium, London.

It was designed and co-ordinated by Oscar-winning director Danny Boyle, with musical direction by electronica duo Underworld.

The Games was opened by Queen Elizabeth II.

Boyle acknowledged that the scale, extravagance and expense of the 2008 Summer Olympics opening ceremony at Beijing was an impossible act to follow: "You can't get bigger than Beijing" and that this had in fact liberated his team in their approach to designing the 2012 ceremony.

The budget of the 2012 ceremony was £27m (as opposed to Beijing's £65m).

The cast of the ceremony was mostly made up of volunteers - some 15,000 of them - who had given up hundreds of hours of their time to rehearse over the preceding months.

The Isles Of Wonder name was taken from Shakespeare's The Tempest, with the giant bell used in the ceremony inscribed with a line from a speech by Caliban: "Be not afeard, the isle is full of noises".

It was the second Games opened by the Queen. She had also opened the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal as Queen of Canada.

Most of the music chosen was either British or Irish.

Survival, a single released by Muse was announced as the official song of the Olympics.

It will be played before medal ceremonies and international broadcasters will also play it while reporting on the Games.

A R Rahman, who worked with Boyle on his film Slumdog Millionair composed a Punjabi song for the opening ceremony, intended to be a part of a medley which would showcase Indian influence in the UK, according to Boyle's wishes.

Sir Paul McCartney was the ceremony's closing act.

Paolo Nutini and Duran Duran played before the opening ceremony was shown to the audience on big screens.

Stereophonics and Snow Patrol then played during the athletes' parade, before the lighting of the torch was shown.

At exactly 8.12 pm (2012 on the 24-hour clock) the Red Arrows performed a flypast over the Olympic Stadium.

At 9pm the ceremony began with a two-minute film directed by Danny Boyle and produced with the involvement of the BBC.

Beginning at the source of the River Thames in Gloucestershire, the film traced the river to the heart of London, juxtaposing images of contemporary British life with pastoral shots.

As it passed Battersea Power Station, a Pink Floyd pig was flying between its towers.

The soundtrack featured clips from various pieces of music, including the theme tune of The South Bank Show (Lord Lloyd-Webber's Variations), the theme tune of EastEnders by Simon May and Leslie Osborne, London Calling by The Clash and the Sex Pistols' God Save The Queen.

The film's track ended in the Olympic Stadium, where groups of children held balloons numbered from 10 to 1 that popped in sequence with an audience-led countdown.

Bradley Wiggins, who won the Tour De France just five days earlier, emerged to open the ceremony by ringing the largest harmonically tuned bell in the world.

The bell was cast for London's Whitechapel Bell Foundry by Royal Eijsbouts of the Netherlands.

The opening section of the ceremony encapsulated British economic and social development from rural economy to Industrial Revolution to the 1960s.

At the beginning, the floor of the stadium had at its centre a model of Glastonbury Tor and a model village as promised by Boyle, replete with live animals and actors portraying working villagers.

Youth choirs began a cappella performances.

The informal anthems of the four constituent countries of the host nation were then sung: Jerusalem (from England, sung by a live choir in the stadium), complemented by filmed performances of Danny Boy (from the Giant's Causeway in Northern Ireland), Flower Of Scotland (from Edinburgh Castle in Scotland) and Bread Of Heaven (from Rhosilli Beach in Wales, but sung in English).

The anthems were inter-cut with footage of notable Rugby Union Home Nations' tries.

As the performances progressed, vintage London General Omnibus Company stagecoaches entered the stadium, carrying men in Victorian dress, complete with top hats.

Led by Isambard Kingdom Brunel (played by Sir Kenneth Branagh), the men exited the carriages and surveyed the land approvingly.

After walking up Glastonbury Tor, Brunel delivered Caliban's "Be not afeard" speech from Act 3, Scene II of Shakespeare's The Tempest, reflecting Boyle's introduction to the ceremony in the programme.

As the villagers rolled away the grass and other props, chimney stacks with accompanying steeplejacks symbolising the Industrial Revolution rose from the ground and workers mimed forging what was to become a large Olympic ring.

Boyle described this section of the ceremony as Pandemonium (in reference to the capital of Hell in Paradise Lost) and said that it celebrated the "tremendous potential" afforded by the advancements of the Victorian era.

This part of the show also included a silence in remembrance of the sacrifice and loss of life of both the World Wars, featuring British 'Tommies' and a field of poppies.

Accompanied by 1000 percussionists led by Dame Evelyn Glennie, actors paraded around the stadium representing historical groups who changed the face of Britain, including the woman's suffrage movement, the Jarrow Crusade, the first Caribbean immigrants arriving in Britain on board The Empire Windrush and The Beatles as they appeared on the cover of Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.

Included in this parade were real-life Chelsea Pensioners and a group of Pearly Kings and Queens.

Many of the participants, including the Victorian gentlemen, mimed the repetitive mechanical movements associated with industrial processes, such as weaving.

As the parade progressed, four Olympic rings were flown into place above the stadium floor and, when the fifth was raised into position, they ignited and rained fire.

The ceremony then cut to Happy And Glorious, a short film featuring James Bond (played by current Bond actor Daniel Craig) entering Buckingham Palace.

Bond escorted Queen Elizabeth II (who played herself) out of the building and into a waiting helicopter, which flew across London to the stadium.

At the end of the film, Bond and Her Majesty jump from the helicopter and this was interspersed with live footage of actors playing the pair who parachuted out of a helicopter over the stadium (using Union Jack parachutes).

The actual jump was carried out by BASE jumper and stuntman Gary Connery.

The Queen and The Duke Of Edinburgh (as well as Count Rogge, President of the IOC) were then introduced in the stadium.

The Union Flag was then raised by members of the British Armed Forces, with the national anthem performed a cappella by the Kaos Signing Choir For Deaf And Hearing Children.

There followed a sequence celebrating the National Health Service (NHS).

Nurses from the NHS entered the stadium with children on hospital beds, some of which functioned as trampolines.

Among the performers were hospital staff and nine children who are long-term patients at the Great Ormond Street Hospital.

The beds' blankets illuminated, and the beds were arranged into a smiling face (the logo of Great Ormond Street Hospital) and its acronym GOSH, visible from above.

After a dance sequence, a celebration of children's literature by British authors began with J K Rowling reading a section from J M Barrie's Peter Pan (from which Great Ormond Street Hospital receives royalties) and inflatable representations of children's literature villains The Queen Of Hearts, Captain Hook, Cruella De Vil and Lord Voldemort.

The Child Catcher appeared amongst the children.

Dozens of women playing Mary Poppins descended on flying umbrellas as the characters deflated and the actors resumed dancing.

The entire sequence was set to music performed by Mike Oldfield and a backing band.

Their selections included partially rearranged sections from Tubular Bells (played in part on a giant set of tubular bells at the rear of the stage).

Sir Simon Rattle was then introduced to conduct the London Symphony Orchestra in a performance of Vangelis' Chariots Of Fire.

Mr Bean (played by Rowan Atkinson) appeared, comically playing a repeated single note on synthesiser.

He then lapsed into a dream sequence in which he joined the runners from the film of the same name (about the 1924 Summer Olympics), beating them in their iconic run along West Sands at St. Andrews by riding in a car and tripping the front runner.

The performance was followed by a sequence concerning British popular culture.

To the accompaniment of famous signature tunes, including Going Underground by The Jam and the theme song from The Archers, a young mother and son drove up to a house in the centre of the venue in a Mini Cooper.

The house's sides each served as a projection screen showing clips from various British films, television programmes and music videos including Billy Elliot, Gregory's Girl and Boyle's own Trainspotting.

A large group of dancers, centred around a boy and girl (Jasmine Breinburg) flirting by mobile phone, performed to an assortment of British popular songs arranged chronologically, ending with a live performance of Bonkers by Dizzee Rascal.

At the close of the sequence, the house was raised to reveal Sir Tim Berners-Lee, working at a NeXT Computer like the one on which he invented the World Wide Web.

He tweeted: "This is for everyone", instantly spelled out in LED lights held by 70,500 people in the audience.

A filmed sequence then showed David Beckham driving a motor boat up the River Thames and under Tower Bridge, carrying the Olympic torch accompanied by footballer Jade Bailey.

In tribute to victims of war and the 2005 London bombings, (which happened the day after the announcement that London had been awarded the 2012 Olympics), the hymn Abide With Me by Henry Francis Lyte to music by William Henry Monk, was performed by Emeli Sande and a group of dancers including Akram Khan, while a screen showed photos of people who had died, contributed by members of the public as a memorial.

The Parade Of Nations followed, accompanied in part by popular songs including West End Girls by Pet Shop Boys, Stayin' Alive by the Bee Gees and Beautiful Day by Irish band U2.

According to custom, Greece led the parade, followed by other competing countries in alphabetical order and finally the host nation Great Britain.

The British delegation entered to David Bowie's song Heroes.

Each nation's flag was planted along the model of Glastonbury Tor.

After the Parade, the Arctic Monkeys performed their song I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor and a version of The Beatles' Come Together, the latter whilst cyclists carrying LED representations of the Doves Of Peace circled the stadium.

Speeches by Lord Coe and Count Rogge followed, and the Queen officially opened the Games.
Seated near the Queen and the Duke Of Edinburgh was Reverend Dr Rowan Williams, Archbishop Of Canterbury.

The Olympic Flag was then carried by eight people chosen from around the world as symbols of the Olympic values: Daniel Barenboim, Sally Becker, Shami Chakrabarti, Leymah Gbowee, Haile Gebrselassie, Doreen Lawrence, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon and Marina Silva.

This was a break with tradition as the Olympic Flag has previously been carried by Olympic athletes.

Before reaching its destination the flag paused in front of Muhammad Ali, who touched it.

Ali, who lit the Olympic flame at the 1996 games in Atlanta, Georgia and who was accompanied by his wife, had not made a public appearance since 2009.

The Olympic Flag was received by a colour guard of British Armed Forces personnel and hoisted to the sound of the Olympic Hymn.

David Beckham, on arriving at Olympic Park, assisted Sir Steve Redgrave, six-time Olympic rowing medallist, in lighting his Olympic torch from that on the boat.

Redgrave carried his torch into the stadium, through a guard of honour formed by construction workers who built the Olympic Park and handed it to one of a team of seven young athletes: Callum Airlie, Jordan Duckitt, Desiree Henry, Katie Kirk, Cameron MacRitchie, Aidan Reynolds and Adelle Tracey, each nominated by a famous British Olympian to convey the 2012 Games' aim to "inspire a generation".

After completing a lap of the stadium, each was hugged by their nominating Olympian and each presented with their own torches, which were lit from the original.

They then completed another partial circuit of the stadium, before each lighting one of 204 copper petals — one for every nation competing in this competition — mounted on long, hinged arms.

When the flame had spread to all of the petals, they were raised up in rings and converged to form the Olympic cauldron, which was designed by Thomas Heatherwick and was described as "one of the best-kept secrets of the opening ceremony".

Before the cauldron lighting, Alex Trimble, the lead singer of Northern Irish rock band Two Door Cinema Club, performed the song Caliban's Dream.

The song was written specifically for the ceremony by Rick Smith of Underworld.

The cauldron lighting was followed by a fireworks presentation, the climax of which was soundtracked by Pink Floyd's song Eclipse.

Sir Paul McCartney and his band performed the ending of The End and Hey Jude, with its anthem-like finale sung by the entire stadium, to close the ceremony.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Sherman Hemsley - The Black Archie Bunker

Veteran American actor Sherman Hemsley aka George Jefferson passed away at the age of 74 on July 24, 2012.

He will be best remembered as the straight-talking bigot George Jefferson in The Jeffersons, the popular 1970s sitcom.

George Jefferson is regarded as the Black Archie Bunker in comparison with the late Carol O'Connor's bigoted bar owner from All In The Family and its spin-off Archie Bunker's Place.

The Jeffersons is itself a spin-off of All In The Family.

Read all about Hemsley from Wikipedia.

Sherman Alexander Hemsley (February 1, 1938 – July 24, 2012) was an American actor most famous for his role as George Jefferson on the television series All In The Family and The Jeffersons.

Hemsley was born and raised in South Philadelphia by his mother, who was a factory worker.

He joined the United States Air Force, where he served for four years.

On leaving the Air Force, he worked for the Post Office during the day while attending acting school at night.

He then moved to New York and starred in the early 1970s Broadway play Purlie.

Norman Lear called him in 1971 to play the role of George Jefferson on his burgeoning new sitcom, All In The Family.

The characters of Hemsley and co-star Isabel Sanford were secondary, but were given their own spin-off series, The Jeffersons, less than two years after Hemsley made his debut on the show.

The Jeffersons proved to be one of Lear's most successful shows, enjoying a run of 11 seasons through 1985.

Hemsley and Sanford appeared together in the late 1990s and in the early 2000s, reprising their roles in guest spots on television programmes such as The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air.

In recent years Hemsley lent his voice to the animated series Family Guy.

Hemsley was also a jazz keyboardist and released a single in 1989 titled Ain't That A Kick In The Head.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Rajesh Khanna - Bollywood's Elephant Man

Veteran Bollywood actor Rajesh Khanna passed away of cancer on July 18, 2012.

Read all about him from Wikipedia.

Rajesh Khanna (December 29, 1942 - July 18, 2012) was an Indian actor in Hindi films and film producer.

He appeared in 163 feature films of which 128 films saw him as the protagonist.

He won three Filmfare Best Actor Awards and was nominated for the same 14 times.

He received the maximum BFJA Awards for Best Actor (Hindi) – four times and was nominated 25 times.

In 1991, he was awarded the Filmfare Special Award for completing 25 years in the industry, appearing in a record 106 films as the protagonist in a span of 25 years.

In 2005, he was awarded the Filmfare Lifetime Achievement Award.

Khanna was referred to as the "First Superstar" of Hindi cinema.

He made his debut in 1966 with Aakhri Khat and rose to prominence in the films Haathi Mere Sathi, Raaz, Baharon Ke Sapne, Ittefaq and Aradhana.

Haathi was his most popular film, the story of a young man and his elephant friends.

Born in Amritsar, Punjab, Khanna lived in Thakurdwar near Girgaon and attended St. Sebastian’s Goan High School in Girgaon with his friend Ravi Kapoor who later took the stage name Jeetendra.

Khanna became interested in theatre and did a lot of plays in his school and college days.

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Khanna fell in love with the then fashion designer and actress Anju Mahendru. They were in a relationship for seven years.

Khanna married Dimple Kapadia in 1973, six months before Dimple's debut film Bobby released. They had two daughters. Khanna and Dimple separated in 1984.

Their elder daughter Twinkle, an interior decorator and former actress is married to actor Akshay Kumar while their younger daughter Rinke Khanna, also a former actress is married to London-based investment banker Samir Saran.

Khanna was a life member of the International Film And Television Research Centre, the International Film And Television Club and the Asian Academy Of Film And Television.

He also served as a Member of Parliament in New Delhi.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Stephen Covey - World Class Motivational Guru.

Stephen Covey passed away from complications from a bicycle accident on July 16, 2012.

Read all about him from Wikipedia.

Stephen Richards Covey (October 24, 1932 - July 16, 2012) was an American educator, author, businessman and motivational speaker.

His most popular book was The Seven Habits Of Highly Effective People.

His other books include First Things First, Principle-Centered Leadership, The Seven Habits Of Highly Effective Families, The 8th Habit and The Leader In Me — How Schools And Parents Around The World Are Inspiring Greatness, One Child At A Time.

He was a professor at the Jon M. Huntsman School Of Business at Utah State University at the time of his death.

Covey was born to Stephen Glenn Covey and Irene Louise Richards Covey.

Louise was the daughter of Stephen Richards, a counselor in the Church Of Jesus Christ Of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons).

He was the grandson of Stephen Mack Covey who founded the original Little America (Mormon church) near Granger, Wyoming.

Covey earned a degree in business administration from the University Of Utah, an MBA from Harvard University and a Doctor of Religious Education from Brigham Young University.

He was a member of Pi Kappa Alpha International Fraternity. He was awarded 10 honorary doctorates.

Covey established the Covey Leadership Centre which in 1997 merged with Franklin Quest to form FranklinCovey, a global professional services firm and specialty retailer selling both training and productivity tools to individuals and organisations.

Their mission statement reads: "We enable greatness in people and organisations everywhere".

In March 2008 Covey launched the Stephen Covey Online Community.

The site was a collection of online courses, goal management and social networking.

Covey used it to teach his thoughts and ideas on current topics and self leadership.

In February 2010, Covey became a professor of the Jon M. Huntsman Presidential Chair In Leadership at the Huntsman School Of Business at Utah State University.

Huntsman and Covey were longtime friends. At USU, he taught courses, performed research and helped to establish the Stephen R. Covey Centre For Leadership.

Covey toured the world and gave lectures. He visited Malaysia in 1997.

Azmi Anshar's Tribute To Paul Ponnudorai.

Azmi Anshar is an editor in the New Straits Times.

Paul Ponnudorai came into the national psyche as a guitar virtuoso, picking and yodelling his way into the 1975 ‘Bakat TV’ talent contest.

WHEN Paul Ponnudorai was hitting it on his own, paying his dues, the journey was occasionally fraught with moments of comedic terror: raucous watering holes for fat-bellied patrons, money-grubbing musical philistines cursing loud expletives if he refused to play the latest punch-drunk Top 10 tune in any ethnic configuration.

Legend has it that one gangster showed Ponnudorai the size of his pistol snug in the belt: he decided that being pragmatic was better than maintaining integrity and being shot at, so he indulged the thug with face time by unleashing a Paul Ponnudorai original cover of Careless Whisper - a personal record of 17 times in a row to the howls of drunken stupor!

Friends often quipped to Ponnudorai that during his 15th rendition, he should have taken the pistol and just pulled the trigger himself, just to flee the diabolical torment.

This fact was known to rabid Ponnudorai followers. The man was a guitarist able to navigate any given tune with the eye of a fine sommelier, the risk-taking of a rogue archaeologist and the mischief of a loveable prankster.

With his passing at age 51 (he did say that he walked into a bar in 1979 gigging with his siblings and "I haven't walked out of a bar since"), his supremely-natural gifts on the guitar, the engaging sense of humour inter-played with a rapturous audience and that personal charm he exuded is forever etched in memory.

Ponnudorai was a musical pugilist from the 1970s generation, a bunch too young to dig Flower Power but old enough to avoid the Generation-X slacker rap, but he was a genius of a musician living life to the fullest.

He even survived a horrific car crash where he needed metal screws bored into his skull after a surgery to neutralise a blood clot.

Ponnudorai was soaked in the brine (his favourite phrase) of the Bible and gospel music, 1970s avant-garde rock and other metallic-like structures, and disco with a genteel focus on jazz and blues.

But the coyness of the 1970s did not subvert Ponnudorai. It turned him into a peerless virtuoso of the guitar. Medium-built but stout in physique and blessed with a propelling tenor voice, Ponnudorai's years of gigging before musically-illiterate audiences in dingy nightclubs was a profound woodshedding experience.

But his obsession for the outrageous guitar riff and chord progression during those halcyon years elevated him into a cult guitar hero. Ponnudorai's thumbs are unmercifully bent, which was consistent with the plausible theory that bent thumbs are the physical characteristic of fabulous musicians.

Ponnudorai came into the national psyche as a guitar virtuoso, picking and yodelling his way into the 1975 Bakat TV variety talent contest which became the springboard into greatness, reinforced soon with successes in competitions in the Yamaha Guitar and Southeast Asian Guitar Festivals.

Following gigs at pubs and lounges, he was snared as lead singer/guitarist for the Drifting Cowboys, the Waves and the Sweet Notes. That improvisatory spirit though was too vexing: he formed his own band, Made In Malaysia, playing notably at the now defunct All That Jazz, with a selection of sweet pop, rock and blues numbers but inevitably went solo again.

Ponnudorai never wavered nor did he compromise his faith in the blues while riffing it up in jazz and rock, though his true musical religion was spontaneous improvisation.

Brandishing his electro-acoustic axe on stage was as enthralling as watching a firebrand preacher on a pulpit. Ponnudorai was spiritual in that sense as he adapted popular tunes, then twisted and artistically tortured them into something insanely subliminal.

Ponnudorai passed on with his precocious talent intact, but even with a single under-the-radar 2005 album Back In Time, his reputation preceded him.

One night, while playing a routine hotel club gig in Singapore, a certain gentleman by the name of Wynton Marsalis, perhaps America's greatest living jazz cat, jumped on stage and began jamming on his trumpet against a very startled Ponnudorai.

Ponnudorai was assuredly the antithesis of everything we assumed in the age of MTV and Billboard ratings.

Many Malaysians aren't aware of the existence of Ponnudorai, the rich heritage he bestowed upon his native country, even as he had to eke a living across the border.

The passing of such a gifted man in our midst is not the real tragedy. Ignorance of his existence is.

Lim Chang Moh - Malaysia's Foremost Film Critic

Lim Chang Moh, who passed away at 62 on July 14, 2012, will always be remembered as the country's foremost film critic.

He was best known for his film reviews in The Malay Mail. He retired in 2006 but continued to review films in his blog At The Movies With Lim Chang Moh.

The Malay Mail lifestyle editor Daniel Chan said: “His three decades as a film review columnist is a tough act to follow. He was a dear old friend and will be sorely missed.”

As production editor, Lim was highly respected for his command of English and perfectionist attitude towards ensuring there were no grammatical or spelling errors in the reports published by The Malay Mail.

Filmmaker Datuk Yusof Haslam described Lim as the country's foremost film critic, second to none.

Yusof hailed Lim as a prolific writer who did a good biography of former Chief Secretary To The Government Tun Ahmad Sarji Abdul Hamid in 2008.

Educated at Penang Free School in Georgetown from 1964 to 1970, Lim graduated from University Malaya in 1974.

He joined the New Straits Times and later The Malay Mail where he wrote a long-running weekly column on movies titled At The Movies.

His son Jason has followed in his footsteps, frequently contributing movie reviews for The Star.

Lim also acted in one film, The Joshua Tapes in 2010.

Sabrina Yeap - Mother Teresa Of The Animals

Animal rights activist and friend of the stray dogs and cats Sabrina Yeap passed away today after a long illness.

She will always be remembered as the Mother Teresa Of The Animals.

Yeap was formerly in SPCA Malaysia before founding the Furry Friends Farm, a shelter for strays.

Three years ago she famously rescued stray dogs from Pulau Selat Kering in Klang.

One of the intelligent stray dogs, Hitam, became her special assistant in the mission.

Yeap famously said: “I can’t believe there is a heaven without dogs / pets.”

“Dogs / pets do more for people than people do for one another.”

“They don’t ask for anything in return. They are not part of today's great 'I want'.”

Hitam, the heroic black dog which helped her and became the most respected dog in Malaysia, passed on the same year.

RIP Sabrina. You are truly a saint.

Hitam and Noah are waiting.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

A Tribute To Paul Ponnudorai - By Eddin Khoo.

Eddin Khoo is a freelance writer who used to work for The Star.

He is my cousin and hails from Ipoh.

Paul Ponnudorai has left behind a legacy which we hope younger musicians will look up to, grab a hold of and run with.

If there was a single, striking quality to a Paul Ponnudorai performance, it was the touch of the epiphanous.

Undoubtedly a musician of the greatest dexterity, imagination and soulfulness, Ponnudorai had the ability to invoke, in a single song – however ordinary or even saccharine the song may be – the sense of great possibility and genuine timelessness.

It was this sense of epiphany that seemed to have touched him personally, on countless occasions not least of which was a near-fatal car accident in 1992 that left him with a blood clot in the brain and a recovery from surgery that could best be described as “miraculous”.

The incident was to indelibly transform him and his musicianship.

As he recalled to Time magazine in 2007, “Things that were so important – success, recognition, accolades – suddenly didn’t matter any more. And as a byproduct of my heightened awareness after the accident, I started listening to music – really listening to it.”

The “byproduct” of his listening was evident in his only solo album Right On Time, a sampling that reveals the consummate facility with which Ponnudorai claimed diverse and disparate styles ranging from the blues, bluegrass, gospel, folk and the most common pop styles.

These are all invested within that characteristic Ponnudorai combination of musical sinew and effortlessness.

In him, it was as if the act of creating musical seams was the most natural and rational thing in the world.

The Paul Ponnudorai experience contained a world – one that expressed the musical landscape from which he emerged.

Born to a large family committed to church or, as he movingly put it (in the Time interview) “I grew up soaked in the brine of the Bible.”

And the “brine of the Bible”, in Tamil churches such as his, naturally meant faith expressed in rhythm and music.

The music language that infused him was inspired also by the diverse setting that was his hometown of Ipoh in Perak, with its decaying jukeboxes and old record shops which, by the time of his growing up, reflected the passing of the country’s once principal mining town into quaint memory.

Ponnudorai carved a predictable path to national attention, winning the talent show Bakat TV in 1981 and subsequently playing and arranging for the most prominent of popular musicians – Francissca Peter, Datuk Sudirman Arshad, Datuk Sheila Majid and others.

Made In Malaysia, formed with Allan Perera, Jerry Felix and Daniel Soliano, was as close to a supergroup as Malaysia ever had and its capacity audiences at the Spuds club (now Life Centre) in Kuala Lumpur every Saturday night in the late 1980s attested to its super status.

Yet, it was his love of intimacy and deep sharing that kept him faithful to the bar-setting through the decades.

I had never known the Paul Ponnudorai of the stage.

Except for a few visits to the Spuds, my trail was different.

I – underaged and adulating – went to bars such as the Treffpunkt in Damansara Jaya, Selangor, where Paul alternated days with another teenage hero, Rafique Rashid.

After that, it was to All That Jazz many years later in a two-night spartan but beautiful solo set at the Instant Cafe Theatre’s Theatre Upstairs in KL where Paul, in characteristic fashion, transformed a bland Sir Cliff Richard song, The Twelvth Of Never, into a masterclass in ballad delivery.

Soon after, a modest event organised by a mutual friend, Errol D’Cruz, became an occasion for a moving performance of that John Hartford classic Gentle On My Mind.

At the end of the song, we realised we shared the same favourite lines – lines that, in recollection, appear to capture his sensibility so well – “And it’s knowing I’m not shackled by forgotten words and bonds and the ink stains that have dried upon some line.

That keeps you in the back roads by the rivers of memory, that keeps you ever gentle on my mind.”

The last performance I witnessed was in a modest pub in Taman Tun Dr Ismail in KL, even the name of which I can’t remember and an audience that could best be described as non-existent.

Still, it was the same generosity of spirit which pervaded his performance.

Here, during a version of Stevie Wonder’s Superstition, I commented on his flawless phrasing and his reply, intelligent and quick as always was, “That’s where I put the student who wanted to study English Literature at university, but never did.”

The route to Singapore and to Harry’s pub followed.

Jam sessions with musicians the likes of Wynton Marsalis, Toots Thielemens and a glorious musical camaraderie with Jeremy Monteiro followed, all of whom recorded their amazement of his musicianship and all of which I missed.

In the past few months, I inadvertently thought of Paul frequently and an afternoon conversation about him occurred on July 6, the very day of his untimely passing.

In a gesture of tribute then, a quick search on YouTube and a good listen to a song (spiritual Joshua Fit De Battle Of Jericho) that he, of course, learned at Sunday school and instant was the recognition of the spirit of the “brine of the Bible” that pervaded Paul.

No wonder then, that each time I witnessed Paul in performance, a biblical phrase refrained in my head, “And there for the grace of God, go I.”

Rest in peace, Paul Ponnudorai, dear friend, you return to where you belong – to sing with the angels.

Richard Zanuck - Award-Winning Film-Maker

Richard Zanuck passed away on July 13, 2012.

Read all about the man who made great movies as Driving Miss Daisy and Jaws from Wikipedia.

Richard Darryl Zanuck (December 13, 1934 – July 13, 2012) was an American film producer. He won the Academy Award for Best Picture in 1989 for Driving Miss Daisy.

Zanuck was born in Los Angeles, California, to actress Virginia Fox and Darryl F. Zanuck, then head of 20th Century Fox.

While studying at Stanford University, he began his career in the film industry working for Fox.

In 1959, Zanuck had his first shot at producing with Compulsion.

In the 1960s Zanuck became president of 20th Century Fox.

One year of his tenure, 1967, is chronicled in the John Gregory Dunne book The Studio.

After disastrous failures like 1967's Doctor Dolittle, he was fired by his father and joined Warner Brothers as executive vice president.

One year later he formed The Zanuck/Brown Company.

In 1968 he married model and actress Linda Harrison. They divorced in 1978.

Zanuck and Brown produced Steven Spielberg's early films The Sugarland Express (1974) and Jaws (1975).

They subsequently produced box office hits as Cocoon (1985) and Driving Miss Daisy (1989) before dissolving their partnership in 1988.

They were jointly awarded the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award by the Academy Of Motion Picture Arts And Sciences in 1990.

Zanuck worked with Tim Burton six times, producing Planet Of The Apes (2001), Big Fish (2003), Charlie And The Chocolate Factory (2005), Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber Of Fleet Street (2007), Alice In Wonderland (2010) and Dark Shadows (2012).

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Sage Stallone - Talented Son Of Sylvester

IT'S a tragic loss that Sage Stallone, the son of Sylvester Stallone, passed away of an undisclosed illness on July 13, 2012.

He was 36 and divorced.

Born on May 5, 1976, Sage was a talented actor, director, producer and screenwriter.

His mother is Stallone's ex-wife Sasha Czack.

Sage was of Italian, Russian and Israeli ancestry paternally and Czech ancestry maternally.

He made his acting debut in Rocky V with his father and later starred in the 1996 film Daylight.

Sage made a film Vic in 2006 and it was screened in the California Film Festival.


Friday, July 6, 2012

Paul Ponnudorai - Great Malaysian, Great Musician

Paul Ponnudorai passed away after a long illness on July 7, 2012 at 51.

A highly respected musician he was nicknamed PP King by fans, as he played the guitar as good as BB King.

Paul who hails from Ipoh participated in Bintang RTM (then Bakat RTM) in the 1970s and became active in the nightclub circuit.

Time magazine has described him as one of the greatest musicians of our time.

Paul backed up most of Malaysia's greatest recording artistes including King of Entertainment Datuk Sudirman Arshad and co-produced his hit song One Thousand Million Smiles with Michael Veerapen.

He launched his album Right On Time in 2005 and collaborated with Wynton Marsalis among others.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Andy Griffith - Iconic TV Sheriff

Iconic TV Dad Andy Griffith passed away on July 3, 2012. He was 86.

From Wikipedia.

Andrew Samuel Griffith (June 1, 1926 – July 3, 2012) was an American actor, television producer, Grammy Award-winning Gospel singer and writer.

A Tony Award nominee for two roles, he gained prominence in director Elia Kazan's film A Face In The Crowd (1957) before he became known for his television roles.

He played the lead characters in the 1960–1968 situation comedy The Andy Griffith Show and the 1986–1995 legal drama Matlock.

Griffith was born in Mount Airy, North Carolina.

He was born on the same day and year as Marilyn Monroe.

Griffith grew up listening to music. His father instilled a sense of humour from old family stories.

As a student at Mount Airy High School, Griffith cultivated an interest in the arts, and he participated in the school's drama programme.

A growing love of music, particularly swing, would change his life.

Griffith looked up to Ed Mickey, a minister at Grace Moravian Church, who led the brass band and taught him to sing and play the trombone.

Mickey nurtured Griffith's talent throughout high school until graduation in 1944.

Griffith was delighted when he was offered a role in The Lost Colony by Paul Green, a play still performed today on Roanoke Island.

He performed as a cast member of the play for several years, playing a variety of roles, until he finally landed the role of Sir Walter Raleigh, the namesake of North Carolina's capital.

He began college studying to be a Moravian preacher, but he changed his major to music and became a part of the school's Carolina Play Makers.

He attended the University of North Carolina (UNC) in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and graduated with a bachelor of music in 1949.

After graduation, he taught Music and Drama for a few years at Goldsboro High School in Goldsboro, North Carolina.

Griffith's early career was as a monologist, delivering long stories such as What it Was, Was Football, which is told from the point of view of a rural backwoodsman trying to figure out what was going on in a football game.

Released as a single in 1953, the monologue was a hit for Griffith, reaching number nine on the charts in 1954.

Griffith starred in a one-hour teleplay version of No Time For Sergeants (1955).

The role earned him a Distinguished Supporting or Featured Dramatic Actor nomination at the 1956 Tony Awards.

Griffith later reprised his role for the film version (1958) of No Time For Sergeants.

The film also featured Don Knotts, marking the beginning of a life-long association between Griffith and Knotts.

No Time For Sergeants is considered the direct inspiration for the later television situation comedy Gomer Pyle USMC.

In 1957, Griffith made his film debut, A Face In The Crowd.

The film also starred Walter Matthau and Lee Remick (in her film debut).

It was directed by Elia Kazan.

In 1960, Griffith appeared as a county sheriff in Make Room For Daddy, starring Danny Thomas.

This served as a backdoor pilot for The Andy Griffith Show. Both shows were produced by Sheldon Leonard.

Beginning in 1960, Griffith starred as Sheriff Andy Taylor in The Andy Griffith Show for the CBS television network.

The show took place in the fictional town of Mayberry, North Carolina, where Taylor, a widower, was the sheriff and town sage.

The show co-starred Knotts in the role of Deputy Barney Fife, Taylor's cousin.

The show also starred child actor Ron Howard (then known as Ronny Howard), who played Taylor's only child, Opie Taylor.

In 1986, Griffith played Ben Matlock in the legal drama Matlock.

Matlock was a country lawyer in Atlanta, Georgia, who was known for his Southern drawl and for always winning his cases.

Griffith also made character appearances on Playhouse 90, Gomer Pyle, The Mod Squad, Hawaii Five-O, The Doris Day Show, Here's Lucy, The Bionic Woman, Fantasy Island and Dawson's Creek.

For most of the 1970s, Griffith starred in many television films including Pray For The Wildcats (1974) which marked his first villainous role.

Griffith appeared again as a villain in Savages (1974), a television film based on the novel Deathwatch (1972) by Robb White.

He won further acclaim for his role as a homicidal villain in the television film Murder In Coweta County (1983), co-starring music legend Johnny Cash as the sheriff.

He also proved to be a good character actor in television mini-series as Roots: The Next Generations (1979), Centennial (1978) and the Watergate scandal-inspired Washington: Behind Closed Doors (1977).

Griffith sang as part of some of his acting roles, most notably in A Face In The Crowd and in many episodes of The Andy Griffith Show and Matlock.

Griffith made a surprise appearance as the ghost of Andy Taylor when Howard hosted Saturday Night Live in 1982.

Howard did not make any cameo appearances on Matlock, but his mother, Jean Speegle Howard, had a small role in one episode.

Howard attended the People's Choice Awards in 1987, where Griffith was honoured with a lifetime acheivement award.

Howard and Griffith kept in contact sharing news about family and personal activities, and Griffith still called Howard by his childhood nickname, Ronny.

In 2008, Griffith appeared with Howard in a video endorsement for Barack Obama's presidential campaign.

Griffith married Barbara Bay Edwards in 1949. They split in 1972.

From 1973-1981 he was married to Greek actress Solica Cassuto.

In 1983 he married Cindi Knight.

Griffith received a Grammy Award for Best Southern, Country or Bluegrass Gospel Album for I Love To Tell The Story — 25 Timeless Hymns in 1997.

In 1999, Griffith was inducted into the Country Gospel Music Hall Of Fame.

In 2002, an 18km stretch of US Highway 52 that passes through Mount Airy was dedicated as the Andy Griffith Parkway.

He was awarded the Presidential Medal Of Freedom by President George W. Bush on November 9, 2005.

In 2007, he was inducted into the Christian Music Hall Of Fame And Museum.

Friday, June 29, 2012

About Switzerland.

From Wikipedia.

Switzerland (Swiss Confederation) is a federal republic consisting of 26 cantons, with Bern as the capital city.

The country is situated in western Europe where it is bordered by Germany to the north, France to the west, Italy to the south and Austria and Liechtenstein to the east.

Switzerland is a landlocked country geographically divided between the Alps, the Swiss Plateau and the Jura, spanning an area of 41,285 square km.

While the Alps occupy the greater part of the territory, the Swiss population of approximately 8 million people is concentrated mostly on the Plateau, where the largest cities are found.

Among them are the two global cities and economic centres of Zurich and Geneva.

The Swiss Confederation has a long history of armed neutrality — it has not been in a state of war internationally since 1815 — and did not join the United Nations until 2002.

It pursues, however, an active foreign policy and is frequently involved in peace-building processes around the world.

Switzerland is also the birthplace of the Red Cross and home to a large number of international organisations, including the second largest UN office.

On the European level, it is a founding member of the European Free Trade Association – although it is not a member of the European Union.

Switzerland is one of the richest countries in the world by per capita gross domestic product, and has the highest wealth per adult (financial and non-financial assets) of any country.

Switzerland comprises three main linguistic and cultural regions: German, French and Italian.

The Swiss, though predominantly German-speaking, do not form a nation in the sense of a common ethnic or linguistic identity.

They are a mix of German, French and Italian.

The strong sense of belonging to the country is founded on the common historical background, shared values (federalism and direct democracy) and Alpine symbolism.

The establishment of the Swiss Confederation is traditionally dated to 1 August, 1291.

Switzerland is named for the canton Schwyz, the old centre of the confederation.

Schwyz is Alemannic (Baden Wurtemberg) German for cleared.

The country was originally part of France, despite the German-speaking majority.

Later, the country was divided between France and Germany.

The French-speaking Cantons were in France. The German-speaking cantons were in Germany.

When the Habsburgs (themselves from Baden Wurtemberg) ruled Germany from the German province Austria, they made the whole of Switzerland part of Austria.

In 1291, the cantons of Schwyz, Uri and Unterwalden formed the Swiss Confederation based in Schwyz.

More cantons split from Baden Wurtemberg and France and the confederation was gradually enlarged.

In 1499, the confederation broke free from Austria and the German Empire (which was controlled by Austria).

In 1798, France invaded Switzerland. The French quit Switzerland in 1815.

During World War I, Switzerland was home to Vladimir Illych Ulyanov (Lenin) and he remained there until 1917.

In 1920, Switzerland joined the League Of Nations, which was based in Geneva.

During World War II, Switzerland interned over 300,000 refugees and the International Red Cross, based in Geneva, played an important part in evacuating them to safety.

Women were granted the right to vote in 1959 in canton elections.

It was only in 1971 that women could vote in federal elections.

In 1984, Switzerland's first female cabinet minister Elisabeth Kopp took office.

Ruth Dreifuss became the first female President in 1999.

Extending across the north and south side of the Alps, Switzerland encompasses a great diversity of landscapes and climates.

The more mountainous southern half of the country is more sparsely populated than the northern half.

The Alps are a high mountain range running across the central-south of the country, comprising about 60 percent of the country's total area.

Among the high valleys of the Swiss Alps many glaciers are found, totalling 1,063 square kilometres.

From these originate the headwaters of several major rivers, such as the Rhine, Inn, Ticino and Rhone, which flow in the four cardinal directions into the whole of Europe.

The hydrographic network includes some of the largest bodies of fresh water in Western Europe, Lake Geneva, Lake Constance and Lake Maggiore.

Switzerland has more than 1500 lakes, and contains 6 percent of Europe's stock of fresh water. Lakes and glaciers cover about 6 percent of the country.

About 100 of Switzerland's mountain peaks are close to or higher than 4,000 metres.

At 4,634 m, Monte Rosa is the highest, although the Matterhorn (4,478 m) is the most famous.

Both are located within the Pennine Alps in the canton of Valais.

The more populous northern part of the country, comprising about 30 percent of the country is the Middle Land.

It has a hilly landscape, partly forested, with grazing herds, vegetable and fruit fields.

The largest lake is Lake Geneva in western Switzerland.

The Rhone River is both the main input and output of Lake Geneva.

The Swiss climate is generally temperate, but can vary from glacial conditions on the mountain tops to near Mediterranean at Switzerland's southern tip.

Summers tend to be warm and humid at times with periodic rainfall so they are ideal for pastures and grazing.

The less humid winters are in the mountains.

A weather phenomenon known as the fohn (with an identical effect to the chinook wind) can occur at all times of the year and is characterised by an unexpectedly warm wind to the north of the Alps.

The Swiss President serves a year's term and is a member of the 7-member cabinet (Federal Council).

Switzerland's most important economic sector is manufacturing.

Manufacturing consists largely of the production of chemicals, pharmaceutical goods, scientific and musical instruments.

The services sector – especially banking and insurance, tourism and international organisations – is another important industry for Switzerland.

Education in Switzerland is very diverse because the constitution of Switzerland delegates the authority for the school system to the cantons.

There are both public and private schools, including many private international schools.

The minimum age for primary school is about six years in all cantons.

The biggest university in Switzerland is the University of Zurich with nearly 25,000 students.

Many Nobel prizes were awarded to Swiss scientists, for example to physicist Albert Einstein.

More recently Vladimir Prelog, Heinrich Rohrer, Richard Ernst, Edmond Fischer, Rolf Zinkernagel and Kurt Wuthrich received Nobel prizes in the sciences.

In total, 113 Nobel Prize winners in all fields were from (or based in) Switzerland and the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded 9 times to organisations residing in Switzerland.

Switzerland has one of the best environmental records among nations in the developed world.

A total of 70 percent of Swiss are from the German speaking cantons. 22 percent are from the French speaking cantons. 8 percent are from the Italian speaking cantons.

Roman Catholics form 60 percent of the population followed by Protestants at 40 percent.

Switzerland is home to many notable contributors to literature, art, architecture, music and the sciences.

Some 1000 museums are distributed throughout the country.

Among the important cultural performances held annually are the Lucerne Festival, Montreux Jazz Festival and Locarno International Film Festival.

Concentrated mountain areas have a ski resort culture in winter, and a hiking (wandering) or mountain biking culture in summer.

As the Confederation, from its foundation in 1291, was almost exclusively composed of German-speaking regions, the earliest forms of literature are in German.

In the 18th century French became the fashionable language in Bern.

Among the classics of Swiss German literature are Jeremias Gotthelf (1797–1854) and Gottfried Keller (1819–1890).

The undisputed giants of 20th century Swiss literature are Max Frisch (1911–91) and Friedrich Durrenmatt (1921–90), whose repertoire includes Die Physiker (The Physicists) and Das Versprechen (The Pledge), released in 2001 as a Hollywood film.

Johanna Spyri (1827-1901) is famous for the children's classic Heidi.

Prominent French-speaking writers were Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712–1778) and Germaine De Stael (1766–1817).

More recent authors include Charles Ferdinand Ramuz (1878–1947) and Blaise Cendrars (born Frederic Sauser, 1887–1961).

Many Swiss are fans of football and the national team.

Switzerland was the joint host, with Austria, of the Euro 2008 tournament.

Many Swiss also follow ice hockey and support one of the 12 clubs.

In a eight-year span, Roger Federer has won a record 16 Grand Slam singles titles, making him the most successful men's tennis player ever.

The cuisine of Switzerland is multi-faceted.

While fondue and rosti are omnipresent throughout the country, each region developed its own dishes.

Chocolate had been made in Switzerland since the 18th century.

The most popular alcoholic drink in Switzerland is wine.

The most widespread varieties are the Chasselas and Pinot Noir. The Merlot is the main variety produced in Ticino.