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.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Nora Ephron - Iconic Filmmaker

From Wikipedia.

Nora Ephron passed away after a long illness on June 26, 2012.

Read all about her from Wikipedia.

Nora Ephron (May 19, 1941 – June 26, 2012) was an American filmmaker, director, producer, screenwriter, novelist, playwright, journalist, author and blogger.

She is best known for her romantic comedies and was a triple nominee for the Academy Award for Writing Original Screenplay for three films: Silkwood, When Harry Met Sally and Sleepless In Seattle.

She sometimes wrote with her sister Delia Ephron.

Her last film was Julie & Julia.

She also co-authored the Drama Desk Award-winning theatrical production, Love, Loss, And What I Wore.

Of Israeli descent and born in New York City, she was the eldest of four siblings.

Her family left Manhattan for Beverly Hills in California when she was four.

Ephron's sisters Delia and Amy are also screenwriters.

Her sister Hallie Ephron is a journalist, book reviewer, and novelist who writes crime fiction.

Ephron's parents based Sandra Dee's character in the play and the Jimmy Stewart film Take Her, She's Mine on their 22-year-old daughter Nora and her letters to them from college.

Ephron graduated from Beverly Hills High School in 1958. It was during her junior year there that she became interested in journalism.

Ephron graduated from Wellesley College in 1962 and worked briefly as an intern in the White House of President John F. Kennedy.

When New York City's newspapers suspended publication during a strike by the International Typographical Union, Ephron and some of her friends, including the young Calvin Trillin, put out their own satirical newspaper.

Ephron's parodies of New York Post columnists caught the eye of the Post's publisher, Dorothy Schiff.

When the strike was over, Schiff hired Ephron as a reporter.

The 1960s were a lively time for journalism in New York and Dorothy Schiff's Post, at that time a liberal-leaning afternoon tabloid, offered Ephron a free hand to explore her favourite city from top to bottom.

In 1966, she broke the news in the Post that Bob Dylan had married Sara Lownds in a private ceremony three months earlier.

While working at the Post, Ephron also began writing occasional essays for publications such as New York magazine, Esquire and The New York Times Magazine.

Her work as a reporter won acclaim as part of the "New Journalism" movement of the 1960s, in which the author's personal voice became part of the story.

Her humorous 1972 essay, "A Few Words About Breasts," made her name as an essayist.

As a regular columnist for Esquire, and she became one of America's best-known humorists.

Her essays, often focusing on sex, food and New York City, were collected in a series of best-selling volumes, Wallflower At The Orgy, Crazy Salad, and Scribble Scribble.

In this position, Ephron made a name for herself by taking on subjects as wide-ranging as Dorothy Schiff, her former boss and owner of the Post; Betty Friedan; and her alma mater Wellesley, which she said had turned out a generation of "docile" women."

A 1968 send-up of Women's Wear Daily in Cosmopolitan resulted in threats of a lawsuit from WWD.

While married to Carl Bernstein in the mid-1970s, at her husband and Bob Woodward's request she helped Bernstein re-write William Goldman's script for All The President's Men, because the two journalists were not happy with it.

The Ephron-Bernstein script was not used in the end, but was seen by someone who offered Ephron her first screenwriting job, for a television movie.

Ephron enjoyed her greatest writing success with When Harry Met Sally (1989), a romantic comedy directed by Rob Reiner, starring Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan.

The resulting film was an enormous success, and Ephron was now established as Hollywood's foremost creator of romantic comedies.

In You've Got Mail (1998), Ephron re-united Sleepless stars Hanks and Ryan in a contemporary variation on the classic comedy, The Shop Around The Corner.

She made an unexpected foray into writing for the stage with her 2002 play Imaginary Friends, based on the turbulent rivalry of authors Lillian Hellman and Mary McCarthy.

She co-authored the play Love, Loss, And What I Wore (based on the book by Ilene Beckerman) with her sister, Delia.

She took another unusual tack with an offbeat big-screen adaptation of the 1960s television series Bewitched, starring Nicole Kidman and Will Ferrell.

Ephron wrote a regular blog for the online news site The Huffington Post. Her 2010 collection of essays, I Remember Nothing, takes a humorous look at the aging process and other topics.

She was married three times.

Her first marriage, to writer Dan Greenburg, ended in divorce after nine years.

Her second was to journalist Carl Bernstein of Watergate fame in 1976.

They had two sons.

Ephron was married for more than 20 years to her third husband, screenwriter Nicholas Pileggi, with whom she lived in New York City.

Dusty Springfield - First Lady Of British Pop And Soul

Catherine O'Brien OBE, better known by her stage name Dusty Springfield (April 16, 1939 - March 2, 1999) is regarded as the United Kingdom's First Lady Of Pop And Soul.

Her illustrious musical career stretched from the late 1950s to the 1990s.

She is one of the most successful British female performers, with 18 singles in the Billboard Hot 100 from 1964 to 1970.

She is a member of the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame and the UK Music Hall Of Fame.

International polls have named Springfield among the best female rock artistes of all time.

Born in West London (Ealing) to an Irish Catholic family, Springfield joined The Lana Sisters in 1958, then formed the pop-folk vocal trio The Springfields in 1960 with her brother Dion (Tom).
Her solo career began in 1963 with the upbeat pop hit I Only Want To Be With You.

Among the hits that followed were Wishin' And Hopin' (1964), I Just Don't Know What To Do With Myself (1964), You Don't Have To Say You Love Me (1966) and Son Of A Preacher Man (1968).

A fan of American pop music, she was the first public figure to bring little-known soul singers to a wider British audience, when she created and hosted the first British performances of the top-selling Motown artistes in 1965.

By 1966, she was the best-selling female singer in the world, and topped a number of popularity polls, including Melody Maker's Best International Vocalist.

She was the first British singer to top the New Musical Express readers' poll for Female Singer.

Her image, supported by a peroxide blonde beehive hairstyle, evening gowns and heavy make-up, made her an icon of the Swinging Sixties.

To boost her credibility as a soul artiste, Springfield went to Memphis, Tennessee, to record an album of pop and soul music with the Atlantic Records production team.

Released in 1969, Dusty In Memphis has been ranked among the greatest albums of all time by Rolling Stone and VH1 artistes, New Musical Express readers and the Channel 4 viewers polls.

The album was also awarded a spot in the Grammy Hall Of Fame.

She returned to the Top 20 of the British and American charts in collaboration with the Pet Shop Boys on the songs What Have I Done To Deserve This?, Nothing Has Been Proved and In Private.

Interest in Springfield's early output was revived in 1994 due to the inclusion of Son Of A Preacher Man on the soundtrack of the movie Pulp Fiction.

Springfield was a lifelong friend of Taiwanese singer Teresa Teng.

She succumbed to breast cancer in 1999. Her ashes were scattered on the Cliffs Of Moher in County Clare, Ireland.

American singer and songwriter Shelby Lynne's album Just A Little Lovin' (2008) is a tribute to Springfield.

A stage musical based on her life, Dusty – The Original Pop Diva premiered in 2006 in Melbourne, Australia.

Wikipedia, Google and Yahoo.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Rodney King - Icon Of Oppression

Rodney King passed away of a heart ailment on June 17, 2012.

He will always be remembered as an icon of oppression, a reminder that all is not well with non-European, especially African Americans in the Land of the Free.

Read all about him from Wikipedia.

Rodney Glen King (April 2, 1965 – June 17, 2012) was the victim in a police brutality incident involving the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) on March 3, 1991.

A bystander, George Holliday, videotaped much of the incident from a distance.

The footage showed seven officers surrounding the solitary King, with several LAPD officers repeatedly striking a helpless King with their batons while the other officers stood by watching, without taking any action to stop the beating.

A portion of this footage was aired by news agencies around the world, causing public outrage that increased tension between the local Black community and the LAPD and increased anger over police brutality, racism and social inequalities in Los Angeles.

Four LAPD officers were later tried in a state court for the beating.

Three were acquitted and the jury failed to reach a verdict for the fourth.

The announcement of the acquittals sparked the 1992 Los Angeles riots.

A later federal trial for civil rights violations ended with two of the officers found guilty and sent to prison and the other two officers acquitted.

King was born in Sacramento, California, to Odessa King, who had four other children.

His father, Ronald, died at 42. King grew up in Pasadena, California.

In November 1989, King robbed a store in Monterey Park, California.

He threatened to hit the South Korean store owner with an iron bar he was carrying, then hit him with a pole.

King stole US$200 in the robbery.

He was convicted, sentenced to two years imprisonment and released after serving a year.

At the time of the beating, King was twice divorced and had three children.

On the night of March 2, 1991, King and two passengers, Bryant Allen and Freddie Helms, were driving west on Foothill Freeway (Interstate 210) in the San Fernando Valley area of Los Angeles.

Prior to driving on the Foothill Freeway, the three men had spent the night watching a basketball game and drinking at a friend's house in Los Angeles.

After being tested five hours after the incident, King's blood-alcohol level was found to be just under the legal limit.

At 12.30 am, Officers Tim and Melanie Singer, a husband-and-wife duo of the California Highway Patrol, spotted King's car speeding.

The officers then pursued King at high speed.

According to King's own statements, he refused to pull the car over because he thought a driving under the influence test would violate his parole for a previous robbery conviction.

King exited the freeway, and the chase continued through residential streets.

By this point, several police cars and a helicopter had joined in the pursuit.

After approximately 16 km, officers cornered King's car.

The first five LAPD officers to arrive at the scene were Stacey Koon, Laurence Powell, Timothy Wind, Theodore Briseno and Rolando Solano.

Officer Tim Singer ordered King and his two passengers to exit the vehicle and lie face down on the ground.

The passengers complied and were taken into custody without incident.

King initially remained in the car. When he finally did emerge, he acted bizarrely: giggling, patting the ground and waving to the police helicopter overhead.

King then grabbed his buttocks.

Officer Melanie Singer momentarily thought he was reaching for a gun.

She drew her gun and pointed it at King, ordering him to lie on the ground. King complied.

Singer approached King with her gun drawn, preparing to make the arrest.

At this point, Sergeant Stacey Koon intervened and ordered Officer Melanie Singer to holster her weapon.

Koon then ordered the four other LAPD officers at the scene — Briseno, Powell, Solano and Wind — to subdue and handcuff King in a manner called a "swarm", a technique that involves multiple officers grabbing a suspect with empty hands.

As the officers attempted to do so, King physically resisted.

Seeing this, Koon ordered all of the officers to fall back.

The officers later testified that they believed King was under the influence of the dissociative drug phencyclidine (PCP).

King's toxicology results tested negative for PCP.

Sergeant Koon then ordered the officers to stand clear.

King was standing and was not responding to Koon's commands.

Koon then fired a Taser into King's back.

King groaned, momentarily fell to his knees, then stood back and yelled for almost five seconds.

As George Holliday's videotape begins, King is on the ground.

He rises and moves toward Powell.

Solano termed it a "lunge," and said it was in the direction of Koon.

At this time, taser wires can be seen coming from King's body.

As King moves forward, Officer Powell strikes King with his baton.

The blow hits King's head, knocking him to the ground immediately.

Powell hits King several additional times with his baton.

The videotape shows Briseno moving in to try and stop Powell from swinging, and Powell then backing up.

Koon reportedly yelled "that's enough".

King then rises to his knees.

Powell and Wind continue to hit King with their batons while he is on the ground.

Koon acknowledged that he ordered the baton blows, directing Powell and Wind to hit King with "power strokes."

According to Koon, Powell and Wind used "bursts of power strokes, then backed off."

The videotape shows King apparently continuing to try to get up.

Koon orders the officers to hit his joints, wrists, elbows, knees and ankles.

Finally, after 56 baton blows and six kicks, five or six officers swarm in and place King in both handcuffs and cordcuffs, restraining his arms and legs.

King is dragged on his stomach to the side of the road to await arrival of a rescue ambulance.

Several copwatch organisations were subsequently organised nationally to safeguard against police abuse, including an umbrella group, October 22 Coalition To Stop Police Brutality.

King was taken to Pacifica Hospital immediately after his arrest.

He suffered a fractured facial bone, a broken right ankle, and numerous bruises and lacerations.

At Pacifica Hospital, where King was taken for initial treatment, nurses reported that the officers who accompanied King (including Wind) openly joked and bragged about the number of times King had been hit.

In 1993, King entered an alcohol rehabilitation programme and was placed on probation after crashing his vehicle into a block wall in downtown Los Angeles.

In July 1995, he was arrested by Alhambra police, who alleged that he hit his wife with his car, knocking her to the ground.

He was sentenced to 90 days in jail after being convicted of hit and run.

On August 27, 2003, King was arrested again for speeding and running a red light while under the influence of alcohol.

He failed to yield to police officers and slammed his vehicle into a house, breaking his pelvis.

In May 2008, King checked into the Pasadena Recovery Centre in Pasadena, California, where he filmed as cast member of the second season of Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew, which premiered in October 2008.

Dr. Drew Pinsky, who runs the facility, showed concern for King's lifestyle and said that King would die unless his addiction was treated.

On April 12, 2012, King released a statement to the media regarding the Trayvon Martin shooting. King said he was "grieving for Trayvon Martin" and stated how the scream on the audio of George Zimmerman's 911 call reminded him of his own screaming during his beating by the LAPD.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Tye Soh Sim - Teacher Extraordinary

THE late Tye Soh Sim, who happens to be my aunt, was one of Ipoh's most noted educationists.

A woman of substance and strong character, she always believed that education was not merely about exams, but being well-rounded in life.

Unpretentious with restrained good taste, she was passionate about English literature, history, music and knowledge in general.

She was also a stickler for Malaysians mastering English, the language of international knowledge.

She taught in Anglo Chinese School, Ipoh after graduating in 1958 from University Malaya with a BA (Hons) and Diploma in Education.

She was later awarded a Colombo Plan Scholarship to the University of British Columbia, Canada, for an additional degree in Education.

She retired as headmistress of Methodist Girls’ School, Kuala Lumpur.

Tye Soh Sim touched the lives of many people. Her students, fellow teachers, friends and family will always remember her.

This is a summary of a tribute to Tye Soh Sim in the ACS Ipoh Alumni Association website written by Romesh Roy, son of former ACS Ipoh principal Teerath Ram.

He is also the godfather of her children Leonard and Clarice Chin, who are my cousins.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

THE LADY - A Triumph For Michelle Yeoh

A review of The Lady, by acclaimed film critic Lim Chang Moh (formerly with The Malay Mail).

Like Phyllida Lloyd’s The Iron Lady, Luc Besson's The Lady is flawed and overdrawn but it still manages to move me, hence the 2.5/4 (6/10) rating.

And just like Meryl Streep's performance transcended the script of Iron Lady, (Datuk Seri) Michelle Yeoh manages a captivating portrayal of Myanmar's activist Aung San Suu Kyi in this still-unfolding drama that saw the real Suu Kyi being elected to Parliament recently.

I don't know about the others but that scene of Yeoh facing off pointed guns of Burma's military sent goose-pimples all over my body.

The movie opens showing Suu Kyi as a toddler when her father General Aung San is assassinated in 1947. The story then moves to the United Kingdom of 1988 where we find Suu Kyi, her Oxford academic husband Dr Michael Aris (David Thewlis) and her two sons, Kim (Jonathan Raggett) and Alex (Jonathan Woodhouse) living 'ordinary' lives until a phone call from Burma changes everything.

Suu Kyi is told that her mother is warded with a stroke and when she flies to Burma to see her, she finds herself in the middle of the nation's political upheaval followed by a violent military crackdown by General Ne Win (Htun Lin).

When the military ruler bows to demands for democracy, Suu Kyi is asked by her father’s supporters to stay back in Rangoon and lead the new National League for Democracy. The rest of Suu Kyi's life has been well documented in the newspapers - and the plight of Burma (or Myanmar) is still unravelling.

One of the most glaring flaws is the 'blank' over Suu Kyi's youth and romantic life from the Fifties to 1988.

Did her education/social involvements or environment help to define her political will later in life? How did she meet Michael?

The movie is supposed to be a biography on the life of Myanmar's version of Gandhi and Mandela - and it is a shame that such a huge part of her life is conveniently left out.

Other lesser flaws are the slipshod portrayal of minor characters like the generals and soldiers who appear to be caricatures rather than real people.

Also, Michael's problems in bringing up the kids himself is glossed over with just a scene showing Lucinda Philips (Susan Woolridge) coming over to help cook a better meal.

Rebecca Frayn's screenplay offers nothing new about Suu Kyi's non-political life and very few insights into the country's politics other than showing Ne Win barking orders at his aides.

Suu Kyi's political smarts are expressed in such pearls of wisdom as "Democracy will only work if we include everybody" and other platitudes written boldly in brush strokes.

The love story between Suu Kyi and 'Mikey' is the most compelling element in the movie and ultimately, Yeoh and Thewlis win us over with their performance as a loving couple who share a dream and are willing to make sacrifices to achieve it.

Despite its flaws, this movie is bound to heighten world interest in Suu Kyi and her quest.

Definitely a triumph for Michelle Yeoh.

About The Brahmo Samaj


Brahmo Samaj is the societal component of the Brahmo movement which is also called the Adi Dharm.

It was one of the most influential religious movements responsible for the making of modern India.

It was conceived at Kolkata in 1830 by Debendranath Tagore and Ram Mohan Roy as reformation of the prevailing Brahmanism of the time and began the Bengal Renaissance of the 19th century pioneering all religious, social and educational advances of the Hindu community in the 19th century.

The Brahmo Samaj literally denotes communities of men who worship Brahman.

In practice, a Brahmo Samaj is an assembly of all sorts and descriptions of people without distinction, meeting publicly for the sober, orderly, religious and devout adoration of "the (nameless) unsearchable Eternal, Immutable Being who is the Author and Preserver of the Universe."

On 20 August, 1828 the first assembly of the Brahmo Sabha (progenitor of the Brahmo Samaj) was held at the North Calcutta house of Feringhee Kamal Bose. This day is celebrated by Brahmos as Bhadrotsab ("Bhadro celebration"). These meetings were open to all Brahmins and there was no formal organisation or theology as such.

On 8 January, 1830 influential progressive members of the closely related Kulin Brahmin clan of Tagore (Thakur) and Roy (Vandopadhyaya) executed the Trust deed of Brahmo Sabha for the first Adi Brahmo Samaj (place of worship) on Chitpore Road (now Rabindra Sarani), Kolkata, India with Ram Chandra Vidyabagish as first resident superintendent.

On 23 January, 1830 the Adi Brahmo premises was publicly inaugurated (with about 500 Brahmins and 1 British present). This day is celebrated by Brahmos as Maghotsab (Magh celebration).

In November 1830 Rammohun Roy left for the United Kingdom.

The affairs of Brahmo Sabha were effectively managed by Trustees Dwarkanath Tagore and Pandit Ram Chandra Vidyabagish, with Dwarkanath instructing his diwan to manage affairs.

By the time of Rammohun's death in 1833 near Bristol (UK), attendance at the Sabha dwindled.

On 6 October, 1839 Debendranath Tagore, son of Dwarkanath Tagore, established Tattvaranjini Sabha which was shortly thereafter renamed the Tattwabodhini (Truth-Seekers) Sabha. Initially confined to immediate members of the Tagore family, in 2 years it mustered over 500 members.

In 1843, Debendranath Tagore and 20 others were formally invited into the Trust of Brahmo Sabha.

In 1861 the Brahmo Samaj opened its doors to non-Bengalis around India.

It has more than 20,000 members today.

Brahmos believe in social reform, including abolition of the caste system and dowry system, emancipation of women and improving the educational system.

Brahmo Samajists have no faith in any scripture as literal authority.

Brahmo Samajists have no faith in Avatars.

Brahmo Samajists denounce polytheism and idol-worship.

Brahmo Samajists are against caste restrictions.

Brahmo Samajists make faith in the doctrines of Karma and Rebirth optional.

On God: There is always Infinite Singularity – immanent and transcendent Singular Author and Preserver of Existence – He who is manifest everywhere and in everything, in the fire and in the water, in the smallest plant to the mightiest oak.

On Being: Being is created from Singularity. Being is renewed to Singularity. Being exists to be one (again) with Loving Singularity.

On Intelligent Existence: Righteous actions alone rule Existence against Chaos. Knowledge of pure Conscience (light within) is the One (Supreme) ruler of Existence with no symbol or intermediary.

On Love: Respect all creations and beings but never venerate (worship) them for only Singularity can be adored.

We believe:

That faith in a Supreme Being and in Existence after Death is natural to man.

That we regard the relation between God and men to be direct and immediate.

That we do not believe in the infallibility of any man or any scripture.

Whatever book contains truths calculated to ennoble the soul or elevate the character is a Brahmo's scripture, and whoever teaches such truths is his teacher and guide.

We regard the fourfold culture of man's intellect, conscience, affections, and devotion as equally important and equally necessary for his salvation.

We consider love of God and doing the will of God as equally imperative in the routine of a Brahmo's life.

We regard the culture of faith at the sacrifice of reason, or the culture of reason at the sacrifice of faith as equally defective, and as fruitful sources of evil in the religious world.

We regard the worship of one God as the highest of a Brahmo's duties and as the best of means to improve the soul and the neglect of it as a way to spiritual death.

We look upon the enjoyment of uncontrolled authority by a single individual in any religious community as a calamity, and far from looking upon freedom of thought as reprehensible, we consider it to be desirable, and regard it as a safe-guard against corruption and degeneracy.

We regard the belief in an individual being a way to salvation, or a link between God and Man, as a belief unworthy of a Theist, and those who hold such belief as unworthy of the Brahmo name.

We consider it to be blasphemy and an insult to the Majesty of Heaven to claim Divine inspiration for any act opposed to the dictates of reason, truth, and morality.

The Brahmo stands for the following (as laid down in the Trust Deed of the Brahmo Samaj):

Followers shall love Him and do His will and worship the One Absolute, the Creator, Preserver, Destroyer who is the giver of all Good in this world and the next, who is All knowing, All Pervading, Formless and Beneficent;

Followers shall not adore any created thing, thinking it to be the Supreme One;

Followers should perform good deeds - and it is through these good deeds one can serve God;

He is the One, Alone and Absolute;

The Samaj is to be a meeting ground for all sects for the worship of the One True God;

No object of worship or a set of men shall be reviled or contemptuously spoken of or alluded to in any way;

No graven image statue or sculpture carving painting picture portrait or the likeness of anything shall be admitted within;

No object animate or inanimate that has been or is or shall hereafter become or be recognised as an object of worship;

No sacrifice offering oblation of any kind or thing shall ever be permitted;

Promote, charity, morality, piety, benevolence, virtue and strengthen the bonds of union between men of all religions and creed.

In the beginning was the one God, none else, and naught but He, the Creator of all things.

He is the True, the Good, the Infinite.

He is the Eternal Lord of the universe, the All - knowing, All - pervading, All - protecting, the Almighty.

He is the Formless, Changeless, Self - contained and Perfect.

In his worship lies our good, in this world and in the next.

To love Him and do His will - this is His true worship.

Marilyn Monroe - Eternal Sex Symbol

Norma Jeane Mortensen Baker (June 1, 1926 – August 5, 1962), professionally Marilyn Monroe, was an American actress, model and singer, who became a major sex symbol, starring in a number of commercially successful motion pictures during the 1950s and early 1960s.

After spending much of her childhood in foster homes, Monroe began a career as a model, which led to a film contract in 1946 with Twentieth Century-Fox. Her early film appearances were minor, but her performances in The Asphalt Jungle and All About Eve (both 1950) drew attention to her.

By 1953, Monroe had progressed to a leading role in Niagara (1953), a melodramatic film noir that dwelt on her seductiveness. Her "dumb blonde" persona was used to comic effect in subsequent films such as Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953), How To Marry A Millionaire (1953) and The Seven Year Itch (1955).

Limited by typecasting, Monroe studied at the Actors Studio to broaden her range. Her dramatic performance in Bus Stop (1956) was hailed by critics and garnered a Golden Globe nomination. Her production company, Marilyn Monroe Productions, released The Prince And The Showgirl (1957), for which she received a BAFTA Award nomination and won a David Di Donatello Award.

She received a Golden Globe Award for her performance in Some Like It Hot (1959). Monroe's last completed film was The Misfits, co-starring Clark Gable with screenplay by her then-husband, Arthur Miller.

The final years of Monroe's life were marked by illness, personal problems and a reputation for unreliability and being difficult to work with. The circumstances of her death, from an overdose of barbiturates, have been the subject of conjecture. Though officially classified as a "probable suicide", the possibility of homicide has not been ruled out.

In 1999, Monroe was ranked as the sixth greatest female star of all time by the American Film Institute. In the decades following her death, she has often been cited as both a pop and a cultural icon as well as the quintessential American sex symbol.

Marilyn Monroe was born in the Los Angeles County Hospital as Norma Jeane Mortenson (soon after changed to Baker), the third child born to Gladys Pearl Baker (May 27, 1902 – March 11, 1984).

Monroe's birth certificate names the father as Martin Edward Mortensen with his residence stated as "unknown". The name Mortenson is listed as her surname on the birth certificate, although Gladys immediately had it changed to Baker, the surname of her first husband which she still used.

Mortensen died at the age of 85, and Monroe's birth certificate, together with her parents' marriage and divorce documents, were discovered. The documents showed that Mortensen filed for divorce from Gladys on March 5, 1927, and it was finalised on October 15, 1928.

Throughout her life, Marilyn Monroe denied that Mortensen was her father. She said that, when she was a child, she had been shown a photograph of a man that Gladys identified as her father, Charles Stanley Gifford. She remembered that he had a thin mustache and somewhat resembled Clark Gable, and that she had amused herself by pretending that Gable was her father.

Gladys was mentally unstable and financially unable to care for the young Norma Jeane, so she placed her with foster parents Albert and Ida Bolender of Hawthorne, California, where she lived until she was seven.

One day, Gladys visited and demanded that the Bolenders return Norma Jeane to her. Ida refused, she knew Gladys was unstable and the situation would not benefit her young daughter. Gladys pulled Ida into the yard, then quickly ran back to the house and locked herself in.

Several minutes later, she walked out with one of Albert Bolender's military duffel bags.

To Ida's horror, Gladys had stuffed a screaming Norma Jeane into the bag, zipped it up, and was carrying it right out with her. Ida charged toward her, and their struggle split the bag apart, dumping out Norma Jeane, who wept loudly as Ida grabbed her and pulled her back inside the house, away from Gladys.

In 1933, Gladys bought a house and brought Norma Jeane to live with her. A few months later, Gladys began a series of mental episodes that would plague her for the rest of her life.

In My Story, Monroe recalls her mother "screaming and laughing" as she was forcibly removed to the State Hospital in Norwalk.

Norma Jeane was declared a ward of the state. Gladys's best friend, Grace McKee, became her guardian. It was Grace who told Monroe that someday she would become a movie star.

Grace was captivated by Jean Harlow, and would let Norma Jeane wear makeup and take her out to get her hair curled. They would go to the movies together, forming the basis for Norma Jeane's fascination with the cinema and the stars on screen.

When Norma Jeane was 9, McKee married Ervin Silliman "Doc" Goddard in 1935, and subsequently sent Monroe to the Los Angeles Orphans Home (later renamed Hollygrove), followed by a succession of foster homes.

In 1937, Monroe moved back into Grace and Doc Goddard's house, joining Doc's daughter from a previous marriage. Due to Doc's frequent attempts to sexually assault Norma Jeane, this arrangement did not last long.

Grace sent Monroe to live with her great-aunt, Olive Brunings in Compton, California. This was also a brief stint ended by an assault (some reports say it was sexual). One of Olive's sons had attacked the now middle-school-aged girl.

In early 1938, Grace sent her to live with yet another one of her aunts, Ana Lower, who lived in Van Nuys, another city in Los Angeles County. Years later, she would reflect fondly about the time that she spent with Lower, whom she affectionately called "Aunt Ana". She would explain that it was one of the only times in her life when she felt truly stable. As she aged, however, Lower developed serious health problems.

In 1942, Monroe moved back to Grace and Doc Goddard's house. While attending Van Nuys High School, she met a neighbor's son, James Dougherty (more commonly referred to as "Jim"), and began a relationship with him.

Several months later, Grace and Doc Goddard decided to relocate to Virginia, where Doc had received a lucrative job offer. Although it was never explained why, they decided not to take Monroe with them.

An offer from a neighbourhood family to adopt her was proposed, but Gladys rejected the offer.

With few options left, Grace approached Dougherty's mother and suggested that Jim marry her so that she would not have to return to an orphanage or foster care, as she was two years below the California legal age.

Jim was initially reluctant, but he finally relented and married her in a ceremony arranged by Ana Lower. During this period, Monroe briefly supported her family as a homemaker.

In 1943, during World War II, Dougherty enlisted in the Merchant Marine.

He was initially stationed on Santa Catalina Island off California's west coast, and Monroe lived with him there in the town of Avalon for several months before he was shipped out to the Pacific.

Frightened that he might not come back alive, Monroe begged him to try and get her pregnant before he left.

Dougherty disagreed, feeling that she was too young to have a baby, but he promised that they would revisit the subject when he returned home.

Subsequently, Monroe moved in with Dougherty's mother.

While Dougherty served in the Merchant Marine, his wife began working in the Radioplane Munitions Factory, mainly spraying airplane parts with fire retardant and inspecting parachutes.

During that time, David Conover of the US Army Air Forces' 1st Motion Picture Unit noticed her and snapped a series of photographs, none of which appeared in Yank magazine, although some still claim this to be the case.

He encouraged her to apply to The Blue Book Modeling Agency. She signed with the agency and began researching the work of Jean Harlow and Lana Turner. She was told that they were looking for models with lighter hair, so Norma Jeane bleached her brunette hair a golden blonde.

Norma Jeane became one of Blue Book's most successful models. She appeared on dozens of magazine covers. Her successful modeling career brought her to the attention of Ben Lyon, a 20th Century Fox executive, who arranged a screen test for her. Lyon was impressed and commented, "It's Jean Harlow all over again."

She was offered a standard six-month contract with a starting salary of $125 per week. Lyon did not like the name Norma Jeane and chose "Carole Lind" as a stage name, after Carole Lombard and Jenny Lind, but he soon decided it was not an appropriate choice.

Monroe was invited to spend the weekend with Lyon and his wife Bebe Daniels at their home. It was there that they decided to find her a new name. Following her idol Jean Harlow, she decided to choose her mother's maiden name of Monroe.

Several variations such as Norma Jeane Monroe and Norma Monroe were tried and initially "Jeane Monroe" was chosen.

Eventually, Lyon decided Jeane and variants were too common, and he decided on a more alliterative sounding name. He suggested "Marilyn", commenting that she reminded him of Marilyn Miller.

Monroe was initially hesitant because Marilyn was the contraction of the name Mary Lynn, a name she did not like. Lyon, however, felt that the name "Marilyn Monroe" was sexy, had a "nice flow" and would be "lucky" due to the double "M" and thus Norma Jeane Baker took the name Marilyn Monroe.

Her first movie role was an uncredited part as a telephone operator in The Shocking Miss Pilgrim in 1947, starring Betty Grable.

She won a brief role that same year in Dangerous Years and extra appearances in the western film Green Grass Of Wyoming starring Peggy Cummins and the musical film You Were Meant For Me starring Jeanne Crain and Dan Dailey.

She also won a three-scene role as Betty in Scudda Hoo! Scudda Hay!, but before the film's release her part was cut-down to a brief one-line scene.

Monroe's latest three films would not be released until 1948, which was months after her contract had ended in late 1947.

In 1948, Monroe signed a six-month contract with Columbia Pictures and was introduced to the studio's head drama coach Natasha Lytess, who became her acting coach for several years.

She starred in the low-budget musical Ladies Of The Chorus (1948). Monroe was capitalised as one of the film's bright spots, and the film enjoyed only moderate success.

During her short stint at Columbia, studio head Harry Cohn softened her appearance somewhat by correcting a slight overbite she had.

After the release of the poorly reviewed Ladies Of The Chorus and being dropped by Columbia, Monroe had to struggle to find work.

She particularly wanted film work, and when the offers didn't come, she returned to modeling.

In 1949, she caught the eye of photographer Tom Kelley, who convinced her to pose nude. Monroe was laid out on a large fabric of red silk and posed for countless shots. She was paid $50 and signed the model release form as "Mona Monroe". This was the only time that Monroe was paid for her nude posing.

Soon thereafter she had a small role in the Marx Brothers film Love Happy (1949). Monroe impressed the producers, who sent her to New York to feature in the film's promotional campaign.

Love Happy brought Monroe to the attention of the talent agent, Johnny Hyde, who agreed to represent her. After signing on with Hyde, Monroe had brief roles in three films, A Ticket To Tomahawk, Right Cross and The Fireball all in which were released in 1950 and brought no attention to Monroe's career.

Hyde soon thereafter arranged for her to audition for John Huston, who cast her in the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer drama The Asphalt Jungle as the young mistress of an aging criminal. Her performance brought strong reviews and was seen by the writer and director, Joseph Mankiewicz.

He accepted Hyde's suggestion to cast Monroe in a small comedic role in All About Eve as Miss Caswell, an aspiring actress, described by another character as a student of "The Copacabana School Of Dramatic Art".

Mankiewicz later commented that he had seen an innocence in her that he found appealing, and that this had confirmed his belief in her suitability for the role.

Following Monroe's success in these roles, Hyde negotiated a seven-year contract for her with 20th Century Fox, shortly before his death in December 1950.

It was at some time during this 1949–1950 period that Hyde arranged for her to have a slight bump of cartilage removed from her somewhat bulbous nose which further softened her appearance and accounts for the slight variation in look she had in films after 1950.

In 1951, Monroe enrolled at the University Of California, Los Angeles, where she studied literature and art. Afterward Monroe had minor parts in four films, the low-budget drama Home Town Story with Jeffrey Lynn and three comedies, As Young As You Feel with Monty Woolley and Thelma Ritter, Love Nest with June Haver and William Lundigan and Let's Make It Legal with Claudette Colbert and Macdonald Carey, all of which were filmed on a moderate budget and became mildly successful.

In March 1951, she appeared as a presenter at the 23rd Academy Awards ceremony.

In 1952, Monroe appeared on the cover of Look magazine wearing a Georgia Tech sweater as part of an article celebrating female enrollment to the school's main campus.

In the early 1950s, Monroe unsuccessfully auditioned for the role of Daisy Mae in a proposed Lil Abner television series based on the Al Capp comic strip, but the effort never materialised.

In March 1952, Monroe faced a possible scandal when one of her nude photos from her 1949 session with photographer Tom Kelley was featured in a calendar. The press speculated about the identity of the anonymous model and commented that she closely resembled Monroe.

As the studio discussed how to deal with the problem, Monroe suggested that she should simply admit that she had posed for the photograph but emphasise that she had done so only because she had no money to pay her rent.

She gave an interview in which she discussed the circumstances that led to her posing for the photographs, and the resulting publicity elicited a degree of sympathy for her plight as a struggling actress.

She made her first appearance on the cover of Life magazine in April 1952, where she was described as "The Talk Of Hollywood".

The following year, she was photographed by noted Life magazine photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt, considered "The Father Of Photojournalism."

He photographed Monroe on the patio of her Hollywood home.

Many of the images from that sitting have been reproduced in numerous subsequent publications and by Life magazine.

Monroe was pleased with his images of her, later telling him, "You made a palace out of my patio."

Stories of her childhood and upbringing portrayed her in a sympathetic light. A cover story for the May 1952 edition of True Experiences magazine showed a smiling and wholesome Monroe beside a caption that read, "Do I look happy? I should — for I was a child nobody wanted. A lonely girl with a dream — who awakened to find that dream come true. I am Marilyn Monroe. Read my Cinderella story."

It was also during this time that she began dating baseball player Joe DiMaggio. A photograph of DiMaggio visiting Monroe at the 20th Century Fox studio was printed in newspapers throughout the United States, and reports of a developing romance between them generated further interest in Monroe.

Four films in which Monroe featured were released beginning in 1952. She had been lent to RKO Studios to appear in a supporting role in Clash By Night, a Barbara Stanwyck drama, directed by Fritz Lang.

Released in June 1952, the film was popular with audiences, with much of its success credited to curiosity about Monroe, who received favourable reviews from critics.

This was followed by two films released in July, the comedy We're Not Married! and the drama Don't Bother To Knock.

We're Not Married! featured Monroe as a beauty pageant contestant. Variety described the film as "lightweight". Its reviewer commented that Monroe was featured to full advantage in a bathing suit and that some of her scenes suggested a degree of exploitation.

In Don't Bother To Knock she played the starring role of a babysitter who threatens to attack the child in her care. The downbeat melodrama was poorly reviewed, although Monroe commented that it contained some of her strongest dramatic acting.

Monkey Business, a successful comedy directed by Howard Hawks starring Cary Grant and Ginger Rogers, was released in September and was the first movie in which Monroe appeared with platinum blonde hair.

In O. Henry's Full House for 20th Century Fox, released in August 1952, Monroe had a single one-minute scene with Charles Laughton, yet she received top billing alongside him and the film's other stars, including Anne Baxter, Farley Granger, Jean Peters and Richard Widmark.

Darryl F. Zanuck considered that Monroe's film potential was worth developing and cast her in Niagara, as a femme fatale scheming to murder her husband, played by Joseph Cotten.

During filming, Monroe's make-up artist Whitey Snyder noticed her stage fright (that would ultimately mark her behaviour on film sets throughout her career). The director assigned him to spend hours gently coaxing and comforting Monroe as she prepared to film her scenes.

Reviews of the film dwelled on her sexuality, while noting that her acting was imperfect.

Much of the critical commentary following the release of the film focused on Monroe's overtly sexual performance and a scene which shows Monroe (from the back) making a long walk toward Niagara Falls received frequent note in reviews.

Monroe next replaced Betty Grable in the musical film Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953) co-starring Jane Russell and directed by Howard Hawks. Her role as Lorelei Lee, a gold-digging showgirl, required her to act, sing and dance. The two stars became friends, with Russell describing Monroe as "very shy and very sweet and far more intelligent than people gave her credit for".

She later recalled that Monroe showed her dedication by rehearsing her dance routines each evening after most of the crew had left, but she arrived habitually late on set for filming. Realising that Monroe remained in her dressing room due to stage fright, Russell started escorting her to the set.

At the Los Angeles premiere of the film, Monroe and Russell pressed their hand and footprints in the cement in the forecourt of Grauman's Chinese Theatre. Monroe received positive reviews and the film grossed more than double its production costs.

Her rendition of "Diamonds Are A Girl's Best Friend" became associated with her.

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes also marked one of the earliest films in which William Travilla dressed Monroe. Travilla dressed Monroe in eight of her films including Bus Stop, Don't Bother To Knock, How To Marry A Millionaire, River Of No Return, There’s No Business Like Show Business, Monkey Business and The Seven Year Itch.

How to Marry A Millionaire was a comedy about three models scheming to attract wealthy husbands. The film teamed Monroe with Betty Grable (whom she replaced in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes) and Lauren Bacall, and was directed by Jean Negulesco.

Monroe's films of this period established her "dumb blonde" persona and contributed to her popularity. In 1953 and 1954, she was listed in the annual "Quigley Poll Of The Top Ten Money Making Stars", which was compiled from the votes of movie exhibitors throughout the United States for the stars that had generated the most revenue in their theatres over the previous year.

"I want to grow and develop and play serious dramatic parts. My dramatic coach, Natasha Lytess, tells everybody that I have a great soul, but so far nobody's interested in it." Monroe told the New York Times.

She saw a possibility in 20th Century Fox's upcoming film, The Egyptian, but was rebuffed by Darryl F. Zanuck who refused to screen test her.

Instead, she was assigned to the western River Of No Return, opposite Robert Mitchum. Director Otto Preminger resented Monroe's reliance on Natasha Lytess, who coached Monroe and announced her verdict at the end of each scene. Eventually Monroe refused to speak to Preminger, and Mitchum had to mediate. Of the finished product, she commented, "I think I deserve a better deal than a grade Z cowboy movie in which the acting finished second to the scenery and the CinemaScope process."

In late 1953 Monroe was scheduled to begin filming The Girl In Pink Tights with Frank Sinatra. When she failed to appear for work, 20th Century Fox suspended her.

Monroe and Joe DiMaggio were married in San Francisco on January 14, 1954. They traveled to Japan soon after, combining a honeymoon with a business trip previously arranged by DiMaggio. For two weeks she took a secondary role to DiMaggio as he conducted his business, having told a reporter, "Marriage is my main career from now on."

Monroe then traveled alone to South Korea where she performed for 13,000 American Marines over a three-day period. She later commented that the experience had helped her overcome a fear of performing in front of large crowds.

Returning to Hollywood in March 1954, Monroe settled her disagreement with 20th Century Fox and appeared in the musical There's No Business Like Show Business. The film failed to recover its production costs and was poorly received. Ed Sullivan described Monroe's performance of the song "Heat Wave" as "one of the most flagrant violations of good taste" he had witnessed. Time magazine compared her unfavourably to co-star Ethel Merman, while Bosley Crowther for The New York Times said that Mitzi Gaynor had surpassed Monroe's "embarrassing to behold" performance. The reviews echoed Monroe's opinion of the film. She had made it reluctantly, on the assurance that she would be given the starring role in the film adaptation of the Broadway hit The Seven Year Itch.

One of Monroe's most notable film roles was shot in September 1954, a skirt-blowing key scene for The Seven Year Itch on Lexington Avenue at 52nd Street in New York City. In it, she stands with her co-star, Tom Ewell, while the air from a subway grating blows her skirt up.

A large crowd watched as director Billy Wilder ordered the scene to be refilmed many times.

Joe DiMaggio was reported to have been present and infuriated by the spectacle. After a quarrel, witnessed by journalist Walter Winchell, the couple returned to California where they avoided the press for two weeks, until Monroe announced that they had separated.

Their divorce was granted in November 1954.

The filming was completed in early 1955 and Monroe decided to leave Hollywood on the advice of Milton Greene.

The Seven Year Itch was released and became a success, earning an estimated $8 million. Monroe received positive reviews for her performance and was in a strong position to negotiate with 20th Century Fox.

On New Year's Eve 1955, they signed a new contract which required Monroe to make four films over a seven-year period.

The newly formed Marilyn Monroe Productions would be paid $100,000 plus a share of profits for each film. In addition to being able to work for other studios, Monroe had the right to reject any script, director or cinematographer she did not approve of.

Milton Greene had first met Monroe in 1953 when he was assigned to photograph her for Look magazine. While many photographers tried to emphasise her sexy image, Greene presented her in more modest poses and she was pleased with his work.

As a friendship developed between them, she confided to him her frustration with her 20th Century Fox contract and the roles she was offered. Her salary for Gentlemen Prefer Blondes amounted to $18,000, while freelancer Jane Russell was paid more than $100,000.

Greene agreed that she could earn more by breaking away from 20th Century Fox. He gave up his job in 1954, mortgaged his home to finance Monroe and allowed her to live with his family as they determined the future course of her career.

On April 8, 1955, veteran journalist Edward R. Murrow interviewed Greene and his wife Amy, as well as Monroe, at the Greenes' home in Connecticut on a live telecast of the CBS programme Person To Person.

Truman Capote introduced Monroe to Constance Collier, who gave her acting lessons. She felt that Monroe was not suited to stage acting, but possessed a "lovely talent" that was "so fragile and subtle, it can only be caught by the camera".

After only a few weeks of lessons, Collier died.

Monroe had met Paula Strasberg and her daughter Susan on the set of There's No Business Like Show Business and had previously said that she would like to study with Lee Strasberg at the Actors Studio.

In March 1955, Monroe met with Cheryl Crawford, one of the founders of the Actors Studio, and convinced her to introduce her to Lee Strasberg, who interviewed her the following day and agreed to accept her as a student.

In May 1955, Monroe started dating playwright Arthur Miller. They had met in Hollywood in 1950 and when Miller discovered she was in New York, he arranged for a mutual friend to reintroduce them.

On June 1, 1955, Monroe's birthday, Joe DiMaggio accompanied Monroe to the premiere of The Seven Year Itch in New York City. He later hosted a birthday party for her, but the evening ended with a public quarrel and Monroe left the party without him.

A lengthy period of estrangement followed. Throughout that year, Monroe studied with the Actors Studio and found that one of her biggest obstacles was her severe stage fright.

She was befriended by the actors Kevin McCarthy and Eli Wallach who each recalled her as studious and sincere in her approach to her studies and noted that she tried to avoid attention by sitting quietly in the back of the class.

When Strasberg felt Monroe was ready to give a performance in front of her peers, Monroe and Maureen Stapleton chose the opening scene from Eugene O'Neill's Anna Christie and although she had faltered during each rehearsal, she was able to complete the performance without forgetting her lines.

Kim Stanley later recalled that students were discouraged from applauding, but that Monroe's performance had resulted in spontaneous applause from the audience.

While Monroe was a student, Lee Strasberg commented, "I have worked with hundreds and hundreds of actors and actresses and there are only two that stand out way above the rest. Number one is Marlon Brando and the second is Marilyn Monroe."

The first film to be made under the contract and production company was Bus Stop directed by Joshua Logan. Logan had studied under Constantin Stanislavski, approved of method acting and was supportive of Monroe.

Monroe severed contact with her drama coach, Natasha Lytess, replacing her with Paula Strasberg, who became a constant presence during the filming of Monroe's subsequent films.

Monroe's dramatic performance as Cherie in Bus Stop (1956), a saloon singer with little talent, marked a departure from her earlier comedies.

In The Prince And The Showgirl (1957), Monroe co-starred with Lord Laurence Olivier, who also directed the film.

Olivier later commented that in the film "Marilyn was quite wonderful, the best of all." Monroe's performance was hailed by critics, especially in Europe, where she won the David Di Donatello, the Italian equivalent of an Academy Award, as well as the French Crystal Star Award. She was also nominated for a BAFTA. It was more than a year before Monroe began her next film. During her hiatus, she summered with Miller in Amagansett, New York. She suffered a miscarriage on August 1, 1957.

With Miller's encouragement she returned to Hollywood in August 1958 to star in Some Like It Hot. The film was directed by Billy Wilder and co-starred Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis. Wilder had experienced Monroe's tardiness, stage fright and inability to remember lines during production of The Seven Year Itch.

However her behaviour was now more hostile and was marked by refusals to participate in filming and occasional outbursts of profanity. Monroe consistently refused to take direction from Wilder, or insisted on numerous retakes of simple scenes until she was satisfied.

She developed a rapport with Lemmon, but she disliked Curtis after hearing that he had described their love scenes as "like kissing Hitler".

Curtis later stated that the comment was intended as a joke.

During filming, Monroe discovered that she was pregnant. She suffered another miscarriage in December 1958, as filming was completed.

Some Like it Hot became a resounding success, and was nominated for six Academy Awards. Monroe was acclaimed for her performance and won the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress - Motion Picture Musical Or Comedy.

Wilder commented that the film was the biggest success he had ever been associated with. He discussed the problems he encountered during filming, saying "Marilyn was so difficult because she was totally unpredictable. I never knew what kind of day we were going to have, would she be cooperative or obstructive?"

He had little patience with her method-acting technique and said that instead of going to the Actors Studio "she should have gone to a train-engineer's school, to learn something about arriving on schedule."

Wilder had become ill during filming and explained, "We were in mid-flight — and there was a nut on the plane."

In hindsight, he discussed Monroe's "certain indefinable magic" and "absolute genius as a comic actress."

By this time, Monroe had only completed one film, Bus Stop, under her four-picture contract with 20th Century Fox. She agreed to appear in Let's Make Love, which was to be directed by George Cukor, but she was not satisfied with the script, and Arthur Miller rewrote it.

Gregory Peck was originally cast in the male lead role, but he refused the role after Miller's rewrite.

Cary Grant, Charlton Heston, Yul Brynner and Rock Hudson also refused the role before it was offered to Yves Montand.

Monroe and Miller befriended Montand and his wife, actress Simone Signoret and filming progressed well until Miller was required to travel to Europe on business.

Signoret returned to Europe to make a film, and Monroe and Montand began a brief affair that ended when Montand refused to leave Signoret.[112] The film was not a critical or commercial success.

Monroe's health deteriorated during this period, and she began to see a Los Angeles psychiatrist, Dr. Ralph Greenson. He later recalled that during this time she frequently complained of insomnia, and told Greenson that she visited several medical doctors to obtain what Greenson considered an excessive variety of drugs. He concluded that she was progressing to the point of addiction, but also noted that she could give up the drugs for extended periods without suffering any withdrawal symptoms.

According to Greenson, the marriage between Miller and Monroe was strained. He said that Miller appeared to genuinely care for Monroe and was willing to help her, but that Monroe rebuffed while also expressing resentment towards him for not doing more to help her.

Greenson stated that his main objective at the time was to enforce a drastic reduction in Monroe's drug intake.

In 1956, Arthur Miller had briefly resided in Nevada and wrote a short story about some of the local people he had become acquainted with, a divorced woman and some aging cowboys.

By 1960 he had developed the short story into a screenplay, and envisaged it as containing a suitable role for Monroe.

It became her last completed film The Misfits, directed by John Huston and starring Clark Gable, Montgomery Clift, Eli Wallach and Thelma Ritter.

Shooting commenced in July 1960, with most taking place in the hot Northern Nevada desert.

Monroe was frequently ill and unable to perform, and away from the influence of Dr. Greenson, she had resumed her consumption of sleeping pills and alcohol.

In August, Monroe was rushed to Los Angeles where she was hospitalised for 10 days. Newspapers reported that she had been near death, although the nature of her illness was not disclosed.

Within 10 days Monroe had announced her separation from Miller, and Gable had died from a heart attack.

During the following months, Monroe's dependence on alcohol and prescription medications began to take a toll on her health.

Her divorce from Arthur Miller was finalised in January 1961, with Monroe citing "incompatibility of character" and in February she voluntarily entered the Payne Whitney Psychiatric Clinic.

In 1962, Monroe began filming Something's Got To Give, which was to be the third film of her four-film contract with 20th Century Fox. It was to be directed by George Cukor, and co-starred Dean Martin and Cyd Charisse.

She was ill with a virus as filming commenced, and suffered from high temperatures and recurrent sinusitis.

On May 19, 1962, she attended the early birthday celebration of President John F. Kennedy at Madison Square Garden, at the suggestion of Kennedy's brother-in-law, actor Peter Lawford.

Monroe performed "Happy Birthday" along with a specially written verse based on Bob Hope's "Thanks For The Memory". Kennedy responded to her performance with the remark, "Thank you. I can now retire from politics after having had 'Happy Birthday' sung to me in such a sweet, wholesome way."

Monroe returned to the set of Something's Got To Give and filmed a sequence in which she appeared nude in a swimming pool. Commenting that she wanted to "push Liz Taylor off the magazine covers", she gave permission for several partially nude photographs to be published by Life.

Having only reported for work on twelve occasions out of a total of 35 days of production, Monroe was dismissed. The studio 20th Century Fox filed a lawsuit against her for half a million dollars and the studio's vice president, Peter Levathes, issued a statement saying "The star system has gotten way out of hand. We've let the inmates run the asylum, and they've practically destroyed it."

Monroe was replaced by Lee Remick, and when Dean Martin refused to work with any other actress, he was also threatened with a lawsuit.

Following her dismissal, Monroe engaged in several high-profile publicity ventures. She gave an interview to Cosmopolitan and was photographed at Peter Lawford's beach house sipping champagne and walking on the beach.

She next posed for Bert Stern for Vogue in a series of photographs that included several nudes.

Published after her death, they became known as 'The Last Sitting'.

In the final weeks of her life, Monroe engaged in discussions about future film projects and firm arrangements were made to continue negotiations on Something's Got To Give.

Among the projects was a biography of Jean Harlow filmed two years later unsuccessfully with Carroll Baker. Starring roles in Billy Wilder's Irma La Douce and What A Way To Go! were also discussed.

Shirley MacLaine eventually played the roles in both films.

Kim Novak replaced her in Kiss Me, Stupid, a comedy in which she was to star opposite Dean Martin.

A film version of the Broadway musical, A Tree Grows In Brooklyn and an unnamed World War I-themed musical co-starring Gene Kelly were also discussed, but the projects never materialised due to her death.

Her dispute with 20th Century Fox was resolved, her contract was renewed into a $1 million two-picture deal and filming of Something's Got To Give was scheduled to resume in early fall 1962.

Marilyn, having fired her own agent and MCA in 1961, managed her own negoiations as President of Marilyn Monroe Productions.

Also on the table was an Italian four-film deal worth 10 million giving her script, director, and co-star approval.

Allan "Whitey" Snyder who saw her during the last week of her life, said Monroe was pleased by the opportunities available to her, and that she "never looked better [and] was in great spirits".

On August 5, 1962, LAPD police sergeant Jack Clemmons received a call at 4.25 am from Dr. Ralph Greenson, Monroe's psychiatrist, proclaiming that Monroe was found dead at her home in Brentwood, Los Angeles, California.

At the subsequent autopsy, eight milligram per cent of chloral hydrate and 4.5 milligram percent of Nembutal were found in her system and Dr. Thomas Noguchi of the Los Angeles County Coroners office recorded cause of death as "acute barbiturate poisoning", resulting from a "probable suicide".

It was reported that the last person Monroe called was Kennedy, leading to speculations that his political rivals killed her.

On August 8, 1962, Monroe was interred at the Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery in Los Angeles.

Joe DiMaggio took control of the funeral arrangements which consisted of only 31 close family and friends. Police were also present to keep the press away. Her casket was solid bronze and was lined with champagne coloured silk.

Allan “Whitey” Snyder did her make-up which was supposedly a promise made in earlier years if she were to die before him.

She was wearing her favourite green Emilio Pucci dress. In her hands was a small bouquet of pink teacup roses. For the next 20 years, red roses were placed in a vase attached to the crypt, courtesy of DiMaggio.

In August 2009, the crypt space directly above that of Monroe was placed for auction on eBay.

In her will, Monroe stated she would leave Lee Strasberg her personal effects, which amounted to just over half of her residuary estate, expressing her desire that he "distribute [the effects] among my friends, colleagues and those to whom I am devoted".

Instead, Strasberg stored them in a warehouse and willed them to his widow, Anna, who successfully sued Los Angeles–based Odyssey Auctions in 1994 to prevent the sale of items consigned by the nephew of Monroe's business manager, Inez Melson.

In October 1999, Christie's auctioned the bulk of Monroe's effects, including those recovered from Melson's nephew, netting an amount of $13,405,785. Subsequently, Strasberg sued the children of four photographers to determine rights of publicity, which permits the licensing of images of deceased personages for commercial purposes.

The decision as to whether Monroe was a resident of California, where she died and where her will was probated, or New York, which she considered her primary residence, was worth millions.

On May 4, 2007, a New York judge ruled that Monroe's rights of publicity ended at her death. In October 2007, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed Senate Bill 771. The legislation, supported by Anna Strasberg and the Screen Actors Guild, established that non-family members may inherit rights of publicity through the residuary clause of the deceased's will, provided that the person was a resident of California at the time of death.

In March 2008, the United States District Court in Los Angeles ruled that Monroe was a resident of New York at the time of her death, citing the statement of the executor of her estate to California tax authorities and a 1966 sworn affidavit by her housekeeper. The decision was reaffirmed by the United States District Court of New York in September 2008.

In July 2010, Monroe's Brentwood home was put up for sale by Prudential California Realty. The house was sold for $3.6 million.

Monroe left to Lee Strasberg an archive of her own writing — diaries, poems and letters, which Anna discovered in October 1999. In October 2010, the documents were published as a book, Fragments.

In her last interview Monroe said: "That what the world really needs is a real feeling of kinship. Everybody - stars, labourers, Africans, Jews, Arabs. We are all brothers. Please don’t make me a joke."

Monroe was friends with Ella Fitzgerald and helped Ella in her career.

Ella Fitzgerald later recounted: I owe Marilyn Monroe a real debt. It was because of her that I played the Mocambo, a very popular nightclub in the '50s. She personally called the owner of the club and told him she wanted me booked immediately and if he would do it, she would take a front table every night. She told him — and it was true, due to Marilyn's superstar status — that the press would go wild. The owner said yes and Marilyn was there, front table, every night. The press went overboard. After that, I never had to play a small jazz club again. She was an unusual woman — a little ahead of her times. And she didn’t know it.

The daughter of Monroe's last psychiatrist, Joan Greenson, said that Monroe was “passionate about equal rights, rights for Blacks, Arabs, Jews, the poor. She identified strongly with the workers."

Sir Elton John dedicated his famous song Candle In The Wind (Goodbye Norma Jean) to Monroe.