She has more titles than you can count, three bad ass dragons, and a mission to free everyone from slavery. Yes, this week's Wicked Woman of Fiction is Daenerys Targaryen. Why? Let's add Wicked Awesome Ruler to her list of titles and leave it at that! Today, I give her a photo montage as tribute.
Ginger Rogers (born Virginia Katherine McMath) was an American actress, dancer, and singer. She was known for dance films in which she was partnered with Fred Astaire and she appeared in films and on stage, as well as on radio and television throughout much of the 20th century.
After winning a dance contest that launched a successful vaudeville career, she gained recognition as a Broadway actress for her debut stage role in Girl Crazy. This success led to a contract with Paramount Pictures, which ended after five films. Rogers's first successful film role was a supporting role in 42nd Street (1933). Throughout the 1930s, Rogers made ten films with Fred Astaire, among which were some of her biggest successes, such as Swing Time (1936) and Top Hat (1935). After two commercial failures with Astaire, Rogers began to branch out into dramatic films and comedies. Her acting was well received by critics and audiences, and she became one of the biggest box-office draws of the 1940s. Her performance in Kitty Foyle (1940) won her the Academy Award for Best Actress.
Though she remained successful throughout the 1940s and at one point was Hollywood's highest paid actress, by the end of the decade her popularity had peaked. She reunited with Astaire in 1949 in the commercially successful The Barkleys of Broadway. After an unsuccessful period through the 1950s, Rogers made a successful return to Broadway in 1965, playing the lead role in Hello, Dolly! More lead roles on Broadway followed, along with her stage directorial debut in 1985 on an off-Broadway production of Babes in Arms. In 1992, Rogers was recognized at the Kennedy Center Honors.
Rogers is associated with the phrase "backwards and in high heels", the title of her memoir, attributed to Bob Thaves' Frank and Ernest cartoon with the caption "Sure he [Astaire] was great, but don't forget that Ginger Rogers did everything he did... backwards and in high heels".
During her long career, Rogers made 73 films, and her musical films with Fred Astaire are credited with revolutionizing their genre. Rogers was successful during the Golden Age of Hollywood, and is often considered an American icon. She ranks #14 on the AFI's 100 Years...100 Stars list of female stars of classic American cinema.
Today, we celebrate the life and legacy of the great Eleanor Roosevelt. Thanks to reader Gloria for suggesting her!
Anna Eleanor Roosevelt was an American politician, diplomat, and activist. She was the longest-serving First Lady of the United States, and served as United States Delegate to the United Nations General Assembly from 1945 to 1952. President Harry S. Truman later called her the "First Lady of the World" in tribute to her human rights achievements.
Roosevelt had an unhappy childhood, suffering the deaths of both parents and one of her brothers at a young age. She married her fifth cousin once removed, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, in 1905. She regularly made public appearances on her husband's behalf, and as First Lady, she significantly reshaped and redefined the role of that office during her own tenure and beyond, for future First Ladies. Having known all of the twentieth century's previous First Ladies, she was seriously depressed at having to assume the role, which had traditionally been restricted to domesticity and hostessing. Eleanor's distress at these precedents was severe enough that Hickok subtitled her biography of Roosevelt "Reluctant First Lady".
Though widely respected in her later years, Roosevelt was a controversial First Lady for her outspokenness, particularly her stance on racial issues. She was the first presidential spouse to hold press conferences, write a syndicated newspaper column, and speak at a national convention. On a few occasions, she publicly disagreed with her husband's policies. She launched an experimental community at Arthurdale, West Virginia, for the families of unemployed miners, later widely regarded as a failure. She advocated for expanded roles for women in the workplace, the civil rights of African Americans and Asian Americans, and the rights of World War II refugees.
Following her husband's death, Roosevelt remained active in politics for the rest of her life. She pressed the United States to join and support the United Nations and became its first delegate. She served as the first chair of the UN Commission on Human Rights, and oversaw the drafting of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Later she chaired the John F. Kennedy administration's Presidential Commission on the Status of Women. By the time of her death, Roosevelt was regarded as "one of the most esteemed women in the world."
Mary Louise "Meryl" Streep is a three-time Academy Award winner, she has repeatedly been called the "best actress of her generation". Streep made her professional stage debut in The Playboy of Seville in 1971, and went on to receive a 1976 Tony Award nomination for Best Featured Actress in a Play for A Memory of Two Mondays/27 Wagons Full of Cotton. She made her screen debut in the 1977 television film The Deadliest Season, and made her film debut later that same year in Julia. In 1978, she won an Emmy Award for her role in the miniseries Holocaust, and received her first Academy Award nomination for The Deer Hunter. Nominated for 19 Academy Awards in total, Streep has more nominations than any other actor or actress in history, winning Best Supporting Actress for Kramer vs. Kramer (1979), and Best Actress for Sophie's Choice (1982) and for The Iron Lady (2011).
But here are some interesting facts that you might not know about Meryl:
1. She is an international role model for women and girls everywhere and helps numerous charities regularly.
2. She is the National Spokesperson for the National Woman's History Museum to whom she has donated significant amounts of money and hosted numerous events (the museum is being built in DC, near the National Mall).
3. She worked her way through Yale School of Drama by waitressing and typing.
4. She had such a terrible time in filming the 1977 Jane Fonda movie, Jane, that she almost quit film acting completely!
5. When asked in a 2015 interview by Time Out magazine if she was a feminist, answered, "I am a humanist, I am for nice easy balance."
6. She left her first Oscar on the back of a toilet. I have that problem all the time!
7. In high school she was on the cheer leading squad, she was the lead in every musical, she was involved in the French club and the student council, according to writer Michael Schulman in his Meryl Streep bio, Her Again.
8. When she was at Yale, she got every lead. Other students started to resent her for it, so she went to the Dean to ask if she could get out of doing some of the plays. He said no - she was too good.
9. She learned to play violin for 'Music of the Heart.' She practiced the violin 6 hours a day for 8 weeks leading up to her portrayal of inner-city music teacher Roberta Guaspari.
10. Streep lived with actor John Cazale for three years until his death from lung cancer in March 1978. She never got over it.
All hail the Wickedly Devilish Queen of Screen and Stage!
Next week for Wicked Women Wednesdays - nominate a female political leader for us to celebrate! They can be a US or international leader. You can nominate via email at rachel (at) rachelmannino.com, Facebook or Twitter.
Every pop star of the last two to three decades has Madonna to thank in some part for his or her success. The triple threat who does it all — chart-topping singer, energetic dancer and all-around provocateur — left her home state of Michigan with $35 in her pocket and a dream to make it in New York City, and far exceeded that goal with hit singles like "Vogue," "Like a Virgin" and "Ray of Light." After causing no shortage of controversy with her unabashed sexuality and outspokenness, Madonna has since turned some of her efforts toward being a mother and humanitarian — but not before cementing her place in pop culture as the best-selling female rock artist of the 20th century. Various music journalists, critical theorists, and authors have deemed Madonna the most influential female recording artist of all time. According to Tony Sclafani from MSNBC, "It's worth noting that before Madonna, most music mega-stars were guy rockers; after her, almost all would be female singers ... When The Beatles hit America, they changed the paradigm of performer from solo act to band. Madonna changed it back—with an emphasis on the female."
Next week on WickedWomenWed - I want to celebrate a female actress. Who is the most wicked awesome actress, living or deceased? Send your nominations by email, Facebook or Twitter!
Thank you to all of my readers who submitted a suggestion for this Wicked Women Wednesday, athlete addition. However, it was one of my colleagues who suggested the Wicked (Awesome) Woman I want to honor this Wednesday: Tatyana McFadden. Born with spina bifida (a hole in her spine), Tatyana spent the first six years of her life in a Russian orphanage with virtually nothing, not even a wheelchair.
In 1994, Deborah McFadden, then Commissioner of Disabilities for the U.S. Department of Health, came upon Tatyana while visiting her orphanage on an otherwise routine business trip. Deborah adopted Tatyana, brought her to the United States and gave her both a wheelchair and a new start on life.
Tatyana tried every sport she could find; wheelchair basketball, swimming, ice hockey, and even scuba diving. At 15, Tatyana made her Paralympic debut in Athens in 2004. She was the youngest member of Team USA. She returned from Greece with her first two medals and a hunger to become the best. Two years later she was, winning gold at the World Championships and setting a new World Record in the 100 meter event. At the 2008 Paralympic in Beijing, at 19, she earned four more medals. In London, in 2012, she added another four medals, three of which were gold. One year later, at the 2013 World Championships, she became the first athlete in history to win six gold medals at the same competition. She was only 24.
In 2013 she won the Boston, London, Chicago and New York marathons, becoming the first man or woman, able-bodied or disabled, to win the Grand Slam (4 World Major Marathons in the same year) and then repeated her Grand Slam victory in 2014.
And that's not all, folks!
Tatyana had difficulty competing at high school. Her school officials would not allow her to race at the same time as able-bodied runners. They said her racing chair created a safety hazard and gave her an unfair advantage (as the best wheelchair racers are noticeably faster than runners over long distances). She could compete in separate wheelchair events at high school meets, which meant that she would circle around an otherwise empty track by herself.
In 2005 Tatyana and Deborah McFadden filed suit against the Howard County Public School System and won the right for her to race with her fellow classmates. Her lawsuit is credited with the eventual passage of the Maryland Fitness and Athletics Equity for Students with Disabilities Act, requiring schools to give students with disabilities the opportunity to compete in interscholastic athletics.
Tatyana went on to press for federal legislation so that other students with disabilities across the USA would have equal access. In 2013 it was passed and now all students with disabilities will have opportunities to be involved with sports in school.
Now, that is one Wicked (Awesome) Woman Athlete!
This #WickedWomenWed, I'm celebrating a female entrepreneur, or social entrepreneur as the case may be. Bosh Bosh was founded by Charlene Espinoza and her Liberian friends in 2013 while she was working in Salala, Liberia as a Peace Corp Volunteer. They began as a small girls club aimed at teaching the girls skills and sewing scraps of fabric donated by local tailors to produce the first ever Bosh Bosh products. Since then, Bosh Bosh has set up a production room, an educational program and, will be opening its own store in the capital city, Monrovia.
Bosh Bosh currently sponsors and teaches 20 female students, and employs 21 Liberians but aims to begin employing more through its expansion. The strength of the Bosh Bosh ethos is the cycle of education to empowerment to economic development. This holistic, grass-roots approach aims to empower communities throughout Liberia by empowering their women and girls first.
You can't beat that story! Visit the Bosh Bosh website to learn more see the lovely bags, headbands, and aprons they make! I love fashion with a mission.
Next week on #WickedWomenWed, I want to celebrate female sports figures! Nominate a female sports figure to celebrate via Twitter, Facebook, or email!
I write about power dynamics in relationships, the empowerment of women, and the ethical and moral dilemmas love can create in our lives. This is a space where I meditate on those themes and share them with the word. Who knows, my next novel may start right here...