An ongoing series of award-winning primetime specials examining the lives, works, and creative processes of our most outstanding cultural artists. Created in 1984, the series is both a celebration and an exploration of creativity in America, documenting the role important individuals, groups, and movements have played in the formation of our cultural identity.
Tanaquil Le Clercq: Afternoon of a Faun (#2703H) Duration: 1:25:46 SRND51 TVPG
She was a dancer of uncommon style and beauty, full of candor, passion and humor, the love object of arguably the two leading 20th century choreographers working in America - the muse to both George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins. Balanchine married her and Robbins created his famous version of Afternoon of a Faun for her. She also inspired the great ballets Western Symphony, LaValse and Metamorphosis. Recognized as uniquely gifted - her vivacity, her unbelievably long legs, her sinuous figure, her theatricality and spirit - she was a ballerina of rare versatility. No one was thought to have a brighter future until it suddenly stopped. On a tour of Europe in 1956, Tanny was struck down by polio at age 27. In an iron lung with a dire prognosis, she never danced again. Balanchine devoted himself to her recuperation and, eventually, her personal tragedy became another kind of artistic triumph - paralyzed from the waist down and wheel chair ridden, her story is ultimately one of great courage and fortitude.
Judy Garland: By Myself (#1704) Duration: 1:56:46 STEREO TVPG
Judy Garland had one of the most photographed faces ever to come out of Hollywood - it is stamped as a virtual imprint on our imaginations, a celluloid image frozen in time. She also had one of the most frequently recorded voices of the last century. She was magic, almost mythical. She is as iconic as she is misunderstood. There were her problems, to be sure, but the proof is in the performances, from The Wizard of Oz to the Palladium, from the Oscars to the Grammies. With singular entree to the MGM library, including vaulted screen tests and rehearsal footage, the film is wrapped in Judy's voice, actually telling her story in her own words. So many outsiders have tried to tell this story and so many friends and family have weighed in - now Judy gets center stage, all to herself. This is her ultimate comeback.
Marilyn Monroe: Still Life (#1904L) Duration: 56:46 STEREO TVPG-S
There are the movie roles, but it is the still images - the iconic face, expressions and poses - that make up our collective memory of Marilyn. She was, arguably, the most photographed person ever. Her relationship with the camera produced an enduring body of work that still dazzles and moves us, evoking both desire and pathos. These photographs are an ageless testament to her grace, guts and sexiness - her humor and vulnerability. She understood their power, and she exploited it. She created, and curated, her own image - lips puckered to the lens, inviting us to kiss her back. She would be 80 now. She died more than 40 years ago. We look back through Norman Mailer, Gloria Steinem and Hugh Heffner, as Marilyn persists in her image.