Miscellany and Trivia

Anecdote Arthur Rubinstein – Polish-American pianist (1887-1982)

"So sorry to be late," Arthur Rubinstein remarked upon arriving at a restaurant one day. "For two hours I have been at my lawyer's, making a testament. What a nuisance, this business of a testament. One figures, one schemes, one arranges, and in the end - what? It is practically impossible to leave anything for yourself!"

Anecdote J. K. Rowling – British author and creator of the Harry Potter series

As a child, J. K. Rowling attended a small grammar school where a failing grade in a routine quiz landed her in the "stupid row." The teacher, Rowling later recalled, "positioned everyone in the class according to how clever she thought they were; the brightest sat on her left, and everyone she thought dim sat on the right." And Rowling? "I was as far right as you could get without sitting in the playground."

Anecdote Golda Meir – teacher and politician who became Prime Minister of the State of Israel (1898 – 1989)

One day during the Vietnam War, President Richard Nixon asked Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir whether Israel would send some of its generals to help with the war. "Certainly," she replied, "if we can have a couple of yours in exchange." Nixon asked who she had in mind. Meir's reply? "General Motors and General Electric."

Anecdote Madonna – American pop artist, dancer and entrepreneur

"A hotel in Germany is having a hell of a time finding cases of Kabbalah water, a special brand of water blessed by Jewish mystics, before Madonna arrives," the San Francisco Examiner reported some time ago. .

"Apparently, it's the only thing Madonna will drink, but it's hard to find outside of the U.S., more specifically, Hollywood. A source told MSNBC, "It would be easier if Madonna just demanded expensive champagne, like all the other spoiled celebrities."

Anecdote Margot Fonteyn – British classical ballerina (1919 – 1991)

Arts manager Maxim Gershunoff, remembers an unchoreographed moment during an appearance by Margot Fonteyn and Rudolf Nureyev in Romeo and Juliet in Boston – USA:

The performance had been going well, but at the scene where Romeo discovers the body of Juliet after she has taken the sleeping potion, the lights in the orchestra pit blacked out completely. The orchestra’s musicians attempted to keep on playing whatever they could remember of the score. However, one by one each instrument gave up until it was practically like a performance of the Haydn "Farewell"  Symphony. All that were missing were the candles. From the stage, Margot could be heard from Juliet’s funeral bier saying, in full voice, "Rudy, either I am growing deaf or I really am dead."  The curtain had to be lowered until the audience stopped laughing and the theater’s electricians could restore power to the orchestra pit.

Anecdote Greta Garbo – Swedish actress (1905 – 1990)

During the production of the screen adaptation of Leo Tolstoy's Anna Karenina (starring Greta Garbo, 1927), the film's producers decided to change the title because they feared that a foreign name would confuse American audiences. After considering various one-word titles, they settled upon "Heat." Screenwriter Frances Marion, however, promptly persuaded them to reconsider. "I think that would be a good ad for Dante's Inferno," she cried, "but I'd hate to see on the billboards: Greta Garbo in Heat!"

Anecdote Barbara Bush – American former first lady, wife of U.S. President George Herbert Bush

Former First Lady Barbara Bush once delivered a commencement address at Wellesley College. "Someday someone will follow in my footsteps, and preside over the White House as the president's spouse," she declared. "I wish him well!"

Anecdote Queen Elisabeth II’s coronation

The date of Queen Elizabeth II's coronation (June 2, 1953) was selected after extensive consultation with British meteorologists, who determined that June 2nd was the most consistently sunny day in the calendar. Needless to say, it rained.

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