Commentary

Remembering Natalie and Cole

Sad anniversary: Natalie Wood died Nov. 29, 1981, 30 years ago Tuesday. She was 43.

Little Natalie was my favorite bad female actor of all time. After she died, I tried to replace her but just couldn't find anyone I loved as much. Lord knows, there are lots of bad female (and male) actors, but I don't love them. Take Natalie's widower; he's a terrible actor — and so is his current wife, Jill St. John — but I don't love Robert "Reverse Mortgage" Wagner or even like him.

I know you've seen that Natalie's death is being investigated again, but I doubt it will lead anywhere.

Let's just watch her old movies.

My favorite bad Natalie Wood performance: "Splendor in the Grass," a star-crossed-lovers weeper. Natalie is achingly beautiful in the 1961 movie, especially in the white dress she wears at the end, and Warren Beatty is, well, achingly beautiful, too.

We've talked about Natalie; now let's talk about Cole.

Cole Porter. His songs comprise the wonderful "Anything Cole!" at Winter Park Playhouse, which opened last weekend but will resume performances Dec. 2-17.

The show, conceived by WPP's Roy Alan and Chris Leavy, features 27 Porter tunes, everything from the lovely ("So in Love," "I Love Paris") to the loony ("Brush Up Your Shakespeare," "Miss Otis Regrets"). The first act finale is a rollicking "Anything Goes," complete with spiffy tap dancing (actually, the first act finale of the musical "Anything Goes" is a rollicking version of "Anything Goes").

There are two movies about Porter's life, "Night and Day" (1946) and "De-Lovely" (2004), but neither really captures his story. The '04 version, however, offers heaping helpings of Porter songs (ignore the cut by Sheryl Crow), and the CD even has an extra cut featuring the composer singing his own "You're the Top."

Porter was 73 when he died in 1964.

Meanwhile, in a bit of symmetry, one of the singers on the "De-Lovely" soundtrack is Natalie Cole, who offers the beautiful "Every Time We Say Goodbye," featuring this great lyric:

Every time we say goodbye, I die a little;

Every time we say goodbye, I wonder why a little.

Why the gods above me, who must be in the know,

Think so little of me, they allow you to go.

Again with the baseball

The 2011 season can end now; the final awards were announced this week.

Detroit Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander is the American League's most valuable player, the first time a pitcher has won MVP since Dennis Eckersley in 1992. You have to go back to 1968 to find a pitcher who won the National League MVP (Bob Gibson of the Cardinals).

In 2011 rookie-of-the-year voting in the NL, our Atlanta Braves finished one-two, relief pitcher Craig Kimbrel winning over first baseman Freddie Freeman.

The Arizona Diamondbacks' Kirk Gibson won NL manager of the year. In 1988, when he was with the Los Angeles Dodgers, he was named MVP.

The Tampa Bay Rays' Joe Maddon is the 2011 AL manager of the year. He also won in 2008 when the Rays went to the World Series for the first and only time.

This year's Cy Young Award winners are Verlander for the AL and the Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw for the NL.

Countdown to Grapefruit League spring training: 99 days until March 3. (Detroit will visit our Braves March 3, and the Washington Nationals will travel to Kissimmee to play the Houston Astros, who, by 2013, will join the American League so that each league will have 15 teams.)

The 2012 season will see a playoff change. Each league will have an extra wild-card team.

Navel grazing

•I saw the rather stupid "Battle Los Angeles" movie the other day, and who should I spot (as a lieutenant colonel) but good old Orlando actor Rus Blackwell. For Christmas, we're taking up a collection to buy Rus another "s" for his first name.

•After I wrote about the overabundance (!) of cleavage in our day and age, a reader from the Villages wrote to ask me if I'd heard that the average bra size in the famous retirement community is 36 Long.

•Reader Mike N. sends along the name of this website: oldiestelevision.com. Check it out, hours of enjoyment.

•Oldie movies I hadn't seen before (the continuing campaign): Roman Polanski's 1965 horror film "Repulsion," starring the beautiful Catherine Deneuve, and the 1953 MGM "Julius Caesar," surprisingly interesting, even with a clash of acting styles (Marlon Brando as Mark Antony, John Gielgud as Cassius).

•I finally get it: So many people have those ugly vans and SUVs because they're too fat to fit into regular cars.

•Women with their hair pulled back in buns, French twists or braids usually look classy.

littlelangolier@yahoo.com

Trivia question

Name the actors who played Cole Porter in "Night and Day" (1946) and "De-Lovely" (2004).

Trivia answer

Cary Grant was Cole Porter in 1946, Kevin Kline in 2004.
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