Composer Elmer Bernstein has turned 80. During the past decades he brought us the musical soundtracks for "To Kill a Mockingbird," "The Ten Commandments," "Thoroughly Modern Millie," "Summer and Smoke," "True Grit," "The Age of Innocence," "The Magnificent Seven," "The Sons of Katie Elder," The Man with the Golden Arm," "The Hallelujah Trail" and brought us "A Walk on the Wild Side." Few other movie composers have been able to produce award-winning and popular music in so many different styles and for such a wide diversity of films. Contrast the opening credits of "To Kill a Mockingbird" where the camera slowly pans over the contents of a small box of mementos to the thundering Exodus music of "The Ten Commandments" when the Israelites walk through the parted Red Sea. Born April 4, 1922, a child prodigy, he progressed to be one of the world's most recognized composers of music for the silver screen. In remembering his birthday National Public Radio noted that Bernstein was once asked if there was any piece of music he wish he had written. "The ending section of Aaron Copeland's 'Appalachian Spring,'" he replied. So, go rent "To Kill a Mockingbird" and listen again to the moody, evocative, wonderful creations that moved from Bernstein's mind to sheet music. Or re-view "The Ten Commandments," and when Yvonne De Carlo 'proposes' to Charlton Heston outside of Jethro's tent (with the red fire of God emerging from Mt. Sinai in the background) listen as Bernstein creates a texture that is unforgettable. Or check out elmerbernstein.com/bio/biography.html on the Internet. BY THE WAY: For many baby boomers "The Ten Commandments" was the first epic movie we saw. I was among many taken by my school to a matinee performance. It was largely because of Elmer Bernstein's incredible music that much of the movie still rings in my mind, all these decades later.
BEA ARTHUR GOING STRONG ON BROADWAY
For some time actress Bea Arthur's one-woman show "Just Between Friends" has been packing the house in the Big Apple. Now, according to columnist Liz Smith, the venerable thespian has announced that the run will end April 14. Meanwhile, some of New York's brightest lights have been attending Arthur's show and laughing and crying with the best of them. Smith says that recently Sarah Jessica Parker, Joan Rivers, Marilyn Horne, Beverly Sills, Sheryl Lee Ralph and Chita Rivera have been in the audience. Arthur is best known to many as the feisty Maude of TV fame, a spin-off of "All in the Family" and her years in another highly successful series, "The Golden Girls." But she spent 25 years on the legitimate stage before becoming a TV icon. During her years in TV she was nominated for the Emmy award nine times; she won an Emmy for her work in each of the two series. Additionally, she won a Tony for her leading role in "Mame" on Broadway in the '60s.
MANDRELL'S ESTATE UP FOR AUCTION
Country star Barbara Mandrell's classic log mansion in Tennessee will be auctioned off on May 30. The news provider country.com says that the sale will also include 141 wooded acres that surround the huge hewn home in Whites Creek, just outside of Nashville. In addition to being one of the largest log homes in the nation (more than 27,000 square feet) it also has a helicopter-landing pad. The house was build about 20 years ago at a cost of $6 million. Mandrell is asking $7 million. It's reported that one major selling point for the structure may be the huge central column. It's been autographed by a slew of biggies who have visited over the years, including Bob Hope, Minnie Pearl, Sheena Easton, Rush Limbaugh and Gladys Knight.
ROD STEWART LOOK-ALIKE AT IT AGAIN
Since 1997 a man who looks very much like British rocker Rod Stewart has made a "career" of getting free booze, food and "favors from groupies" by pretending to be Stewart. And, according to the New York Post, a lot of people were happy to be nice to him, thinking they were being chummy with the legendary singer. Now, after some time out of the public eye, the Stewart impersonator is apparently back. He was sighted in a New York City bar this week, spending much of the night there. He sang along with "his" songs on the jukebox and signed autographs. He reportedly left with one of the prettiest women in the establishment. Ironically, the man doesn't have a British accent and is shorter than Stewart.
'ROOTS' MUSIC DRAW SPAWNS NEW LABEL
The incredible popularity of the soundtrack for the movie "O Brother, Where Art Though?" has prompted the creation of a new record label to produce bluegrass and other "roots" music CDs. The new company, DMZ Records, will have its products distributed by Columbia, according to USA Today. The project has been organized by T Bone Burnett and Joel and Ethan Coen, the creators of the mega-successful film. In addition to being selected as the Grammy's Album of the Year at the last awards show, the movie soundtrack also won four other statuettes and has sold nearly 5 million copies so far. The huge airplay of some of the selections on radio stations that normally would not touch country music vastly increased the popularity of the genre and helped hype the sales of a variety of artists -- even those not heard in the film. Among those who will be on the label's governing board are rocker Elvis Costello, who recently worked on a country music project with the CMT cable network.
'MR. AVIATION,' CLIFTON MOORE DIES
Outside of Los Angeles the name Clifton Moore might not ring a bell. But, without knowing it, the millions who have flown in and out of Los Angeles International Airport over the years benefited from his ingenuity and foresight. Now the Los Angeles Times says that Clifton Moore has died. Known in southern California as "Mr. Aviation," Moore was largely responsible for the expansion of LAX into one of the world's busiest jetports. Moore's last job was as director of the L.A. area's airports. He left that job eight years ago. At the time of his departure he was the highest-paid Los Angeles city executive and had gained a worldwide reputation in the civil aviation industry. Ironically, his first well-paying job involved the changing of the red lights atop the major tall buildings in Los Angeles that served as warning signals to low-flying aircraft. His legacy includes the massive expansion -- including double decking of roadways -- at LAX in advance of the 1980 Olympics and the creation of long-range planning for all of the area's airports. Clifton Moore was 80.
UPI DAILY SURVEY QUESTION NO. 304
Recently I was going through some of the really big news stories of the past year and noticed that at one time we were totally immersed in the so-called Mad Cow scare. It disrupted the meat supply in Europe and Asia. Parts of the United Kingdom were thrown into an economic panic. This led me to think of a lot of food recalls, mainly for cheese, that we've reported over the years. So, today's question: "Can you remember an incident where you ever either boycotted a certain brand or type of food, either because of health concerns or other reasons?" Put HEALTH in the subject line and send to firstname.lastname@example.org via the Internet.
RESULTS OF QUESTION NO. 299 (HIDE IT)
Last week we asked if there were any items in your home you would hide if your Mom, without warning, knocked on the door. Here are some of the responses: Not unexpectedly many of the replies mentioned "bedroom toys" (if I may put it that way) that would be the first to hide from your mom. Several, though -- including Juanita M -- say that their Mom is "so cool" that there are no secrets in the family. Eac would "hide the Playboy magazines." A few pot smokers said that the accouterments of smoking would be the first to go. Lmandy says that her dad's photos would be hidden, so as not to "remind her of someone she loved but could not live with." Cheryl says that although she's 41 she would hide her lingerie. Her mother always, for some reason, thinks of "flannel" when she thinks of nighties. Finally, two really funny replies. Sherry R says that she would hide "the draft of my book exposing her lies, sick personality and (other family matters)." XxBabyXo says that the best thing to do would be to trot out as much stuff as possible and "maybe she won't come back." Glad I asked. TOMORROW: Your thoughts on the one media performance that had the greatest impact on you personally. GBA.