Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Princess Luciana: Comments

These are a few of the many, many comments I've received on my previous blog about the late Princess Luciana Pignatelli, my inspiration. I've chosen to reprint them here as a tribute.


I remember that ad! Though I was not on-the-ball enough to have actually written to her to say, "Luciana, your complexion is so beautiful! Tell me your secret."


Hi Donna,

I included the Princess in my collection of vintage beauty advice, Peculiar Beauty (2004). Now I blog on the same topic. ( This week I’m writing about Luciana, and I just found your blog last night. I’m so sad to read the news, but can’t seem to find confirmation.

Eve Golden
Submitted on 2008/10/28 at 12:54pm

What a crappy week to know Donna! Maybe now that the total has hit Three (Princess Luciana, Mr. Blackwell and Delmar Watson), Death can take a Holiday for awhile?

(Plus, I enjoy doing the obits at work, but rushing too many in one day does NOT make me the Happiest Little Girl in All of Toyland–I do have other work to do, too!)
What a crappy week to know Donna! Maybe now that the total has hit Three (Princess Luciana, Mr. Blackwell and Delmar Watson), Death can take a Holiday for awhile? (Plus, I enjoy doing the obits at work, but rushing too many in one day does NOT make me the Happiest Little Girl in All of Toyland--I do have other work to do, too!)

Submitted on 2008/10/26 at 5:13am

Ciao Luciana, you were a great person in my life and in the life of many of my close friends. Being with you was always a celebration, an event, a special moment to be remembered full of beauty and in the search for beauty in people and in relationships. Thank you for those great moments.

David Michael
Submitted on 2008/10/23 at 2:45pm

Luciana was my closest friend as I was hers … for the last 10 years there were very few days that we did not talk or meet. I was away in Turkey and supposed to go with her to an “Hermes” evening on 13th October. Alas I was still in Turkey. Sad. More sad than I care to imagine. I will never forget her - or her outrageous wit. I hope to see her soon. David xxx

Makeup Beat… » Rest In Peace Princess…

[...] Donna Lethal first reminded me of Princess Luciana Pignatelli and sadly now tells us of her passing. Born 1935 - Died 2008. [...]

Hi Donna,

thanks so much for all your Princess Luciana posts. Thanks to you I love her too!

I hope you are well,


mark j
Submitted on 2008/10/21 at 12:19am

First Mr.Blackwell, now Princess Luciana. The world is now a little duller, a little less stylish…sigh.

Submitted on 2008/10/20 at 11:00am

So sorry. At a time when we could use more Princess Lucianas we are sadly left without the original.

Luciana Fan
Submitted on 2008/07/15 at 4:05pm

Check out the New York Times website, Use the search engine to find a 2003 profile of Luciana Pignatelli, written by Mary Tannen. Very funny.
Check out the New York Times website, Use the search engine to find a 2003 profile of Luciana Pignatelli, written by Mary Tannen. Very funny.
Luciana Fan

Luciana S
Submitted on 2008/06/19 at 8:04am

My mother named me after her and I finally know what she looks like and a little about her 32 years later. whoo hoo

Submitted on 2008/01/11 at 9:14pm

Bah, housework! Drudgery!! What better advice can one wish for… Methinks none more wondrous than this. Thank you, Luciana - wherever you are!


I adore your entries on Princess Luciana. She was a lesser “swan” of Truman Capote’s - a particular fascination of mine - therefore any information about her captivates my interest. She is an elusive bird; not much information is available about her, although I did find a listing for a couple of television commercials she apparently did for Camay soap back in 1965 (, as well as a mention of her in a New York Observer article mourning Berry Berenson’s death (

If only Truman were here to declare us fellow swans, as it is blatantly obvious we so richly deserve to be.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Mr. Blackwell Laid to Rest

I went to Mr. Blackwell's memorial service today. It was standing room only, and a few of us even ended up outside due to the 95+ degree heat. A large oil portrait of Mr. B presided over the room, and Ruta Lee sang "I'll be Seeing You" as we watched a video tribute. Perhaps Tippi Hedren said it best: "How many of us thought about our outfits as we were dressing to come here today?" Blackwell would have had a good laugh. Rest in peace, my friend.

PS. And how fitting was the re-introduction of ELLNET HAIRSPRAY the same week? My hair looked fabulous!

Here are some photos and a copy of the program.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Mr. Blackwell, R.I.P.

I just heard the news. I was fortunate enough to actually know Mr. Blackwell in the few short years since I've lived here in Los Angeles. He was an absolute sweetheart and adored by everyone who knew him, and as he and his partner, Spencer, put it: "We were never in the closet." My heart goes out to Spencer.

M R. B L A C K W E L L
1922 - 2008

Mr. Richard Blackwell
Born Richard Sylvan Selzer on August 29 1922 in Bensonhurst/Brooklyn, NY, USA
Died at 4:15pm on 10/19/08, Los Angeles, CA of complications due to an intestinal infection

Born Richard Sylvan Selzer, Mr. Blackwell was raised in the Bensonhurst section of Brooklyn, New York, in a poverty stricken neighborhood. A persistent truant, he was in and out of boy's homes throughout his early years. As a young man, he acted on the New York stage. Between acting jobs in New York, he had his first taste of fashion, making hats for wealthy socialites and actresses in his apartment attic. After realizing that his theatrical ambitions were going nowhere in New York, he pursued his acting career in Los Angeles under the name Dick Ellis, in productions such as "Juvenile Court" starring Rita Hayworth, the smash hit "Dead End" (having appeared in the Broadway production), and the Universal picture "Little Tough Guy," eventually returning to the NY stage in 1944 with "Catherine Was Great" starring Miss Mae West.

He was signed by the studios to play small parts in the motion pictures and appear with luminaries such as Humphrey Bogart and Gene Kelly while going to school with Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney (among others). It was Howard Hughes who changed his name to Richard Blackwell when he signed him to RKO, but he eventually left acting for a short stint as a Hollywood agent. It was then that he discovered a talent for design, while making his client's stage costumes. Once again strapped for cash, he finally decided to pursue a career in fashion in 1958. His line, House of Blackwell, would become synonymous in fashion. An important designer during the 1960s, he became the first in history to present his line on a television broadcast as well as the first to make his line available for plus-size women. By the early 1960's he had become one of the top designers with his own line, creating fashions for such stars as Jayne Mansfield, Dorothy Lamour, Peggy Lee, Ann Blythe, Jane Russell and a favorite among political wives such as Nancy Reagan and Corretta Scott King.

Around the same time, he hosted his own radio show on KABC in Los Angeles, and through the years he had appeared on virtually every talk show on television with his “Worst Dressed List,” naming the biggest fashion fiascoes of the year and the less recognized "Fabulous Fashion Independents." The lists, now in its 48th year, are still a source of controversy, amusement and conversation among the fashion elite and the unlucky (or lucky) celebrities who adorn it. Lynn Redgrave expressed it best, when she stated "You haven't made it in Hollywood until you've made 'the list!'”

In 1995, Blackwell published his best-selling autobiography “From Rags to Bitches.” He continued to write for several magazines and newspapers under both his own name and a pseudonym.

He is survived by his partner of almost 60 years, Mr. R.L. Spencer. Private memorial services are being scheduled. In lieu of flowers donations can be made to The ROAR Foundation at, The Actors Fund or

[caption id="attachment_758" align="alignnone" width="244" caption="Mr. Blackwell at home in Hancock Park."]Mr. Blackwell at home in Hancock Park.[/caption]

Gorgeous Jayne in Pink
Jayne and Mr. B

Mr. Blackwell, Tippi Hedren, and yours truly.

Photo by Elise Thompson.

Monday, October 13, 2008

I have seen the gates of hell

same friend who sent me this claims he's actually seen "Mickey's Melon," Rooney's failed soda line ... I can't find any pix. If you do, please post.

In the meantime, enjoy this sicko site: The Mickey Rooney Experience.
They hate him as much as we do. (Nice photo of our Goddess Jayne being a good sport on the home page.)

From the fascinating site:

What a Weenie

Mickey Rooney's record as a entrepreneur was not without its patchy spots. After investing in a cologne called "Me" (campaign slogan: "Put Me next to Him") and a spray-on hair product (which worked fine until it got wet and turned into "something like cotton candy"), Rooney invented a round frankfurter which could be put in a hamburger bun. The product's name? The "Weenie Whirl"!

Several Weenie Whirl restaurants soon opened on the East Coast, and soon closed. Among Rooney's other business brainstorms: Disposable underwear and bras (called Rip-Offs and Tip-Offs, respectively) and pet drinks bearing such names as "Doggy Drink," "Puppy Pop," and "Kitty Cola."]

[Trivia: At the height of his misfortune, Rooney earned extra cash by showing up at cocktail parties and pretending to be a friend of the host - at $500 a pop.]

How do I get a gig like that? Hell, if he showed up at my party, I'd pay him to leave!

Mamie ignorning Satan's request to do the Weenie Whirl.

Friday, October 10, 2008

It's a John Waters World: Digest

A compilation of posts from my previous blog for your viewing pleasure.

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (AP) -- A judge has brushed off a Connecticut woman's claim that L'Oreal Inc. ruined her social life when she accidentally dyed her hair brunette with one of its products. Charlotte Feeney of Stratford said she can never return to her natural blonde hue, a shock that left her so traumatized she needed anti-depressants. She says she suffered headaches and anxiety, missed the attention that blondes receive and had to stay home and wear hats most of the time.

Sleeping Beauty

Cross-dressing thief leaves fake breast behind

Wed Sep 3, 3:09 pm ET

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. – Police in Port St. Lucie are on the lookout for a cross-dressing man who snatched a 74-year-old woman's purse. As if that weren't odd enough, they're depending on a strange clue. The suspect left behind a condom filled with water he had been using as a fake breast.

The woman said she believed the thief followed her while shopping. A witness told investigators he was wearing a short denim skirt and black tube top, and fled in a silver car with two other male crossdressers.

Police are processing the condom for fingerprint and DNA evidence.

Girdle Ad
That's an interesting fake boob. The drag queens I knew used balloons filled with water or styrofoam beads.

Here comes the judge and I love her! It is a John Waters World:

05-09) 14:52 PDT LAS VEGAS, (AP) --

Elizabeth Halverson is a judge. But the way courthouse staffers see it, she expects to be treated like a queen. Her former bailiff, for example, says Halverson made him feel like a "houseboy." He says the judge — who is obese and uses a motorized scooter to get around — made him put her shoes on her feet, massage her back, cover her with a blanket for naps and make sure her oxygen tank was filled. He says she asked him, "Do you want to worship me from near or afar?"

Halverson also surrounded herself with her own hired guards, saying she did not trust the courthouse security force to protect her. Another time, she allegedly had her husband sworn in so that she could ask him under oath if he had completed chores at home.

Since then, the 50-year-old Nevada district judge has been locked out of her Las Vegas courtroom, suspended from the bench and brought up on judicial-misconduct charges that include not only misusing her position and treating her staff like personal valets, but also tainting juries and falling asleep on the bench.

"We believe the Judicial Discipline Commission has overreached," said her attorney, John Arrascada. "It's apparent that some people believe her physical appearance somehow makes her unable to perform her duties as a judge." He added: "Last time I checked, being a judge doesn't require a beauty contest."

Halverson holds a law degree from the University of Southern California and worked as a law clerk in the state court for nine years before she was elected to the bench in the fall of 2006. She handled civil and criminal cases alike. When the bailiff who complained about her, Johnnie Jordan Jr., was reassigned, Halverson hired her own guards and let them bypass security checks at the courthouse. She then called 911 when court administrators tried to enter her office.

Last May, the chief Clark County District Court judge, Kathy Hardcastle, locked her out of her courtroom. The following July, six months after Halverson was sworn in, the commission suspended her, accusing her among other things of creating a hostile work environment, hiring a technician to try to hack into the courthouse computer system, and causing mistrials in two sexual assault cases by improperly meeting with jurors.

"Judicial removal should generally be reserved for corruption and complete incompetence or inability to do the job," Stempel said. "One question you have to ask is, `Is this judge so bad we have to remove her before the voters have a chance to do so?'"

Dayvid Figler, a defense lawyer, said he had no complaints after trying cases in Halverson's courtroom.

"In fairness, she believes she's fighting the fight of a maverick," Figler said. "I think her position is, `Why should I be another cog in the machine? Isn't it what the voters elected me to do, bring change?'"

Amid the hullabaloo, Halverson has filed for re-election in August to a six-year term and is soliciting contributions on her Web site. But she has also filed a request to stop the election, claiming that the Legislature unconstitutionally changed the procedures. She continues to draw her $130,000-a-year salary.

Halverson did not respond to an interview request. A shirtless man who answered the door at her home pointed to a "no trespassing" sign and ordered a reporter off the property. The yard is clean these days, after the city cited Halverson for leaving it strewn with junk and letting the water in her pool grow murky and stagnant.

In documents denying the allegations, Halverson has blamed disgruntled employees and vindictive colleagues.

She has submitted a report from a therapist who diagnosed her with an adjustment disorder*, anxiety and depression. And she produced a letter from her physician, Dr. Michael Jacobs, who said she is diabetic, uses a wheelchair because of arthritis in her feet and knees, and needs oxygen to counteract the effects of sleep apnea. Jacobs said a drop in blood sugar may have caused a brief episode in which she fell asleep in court. But he said there is no physical reason Halverson cannot be an effective judge.

*Oooh! "Adjustment disorder" is my new favorite condition ... I'm sure I have it!

The "Poor Gabors" were found guilty! And have already started to pay for their crimes - in beauty:

That was then ...

this is now.
She and Helen Golay, who was convicted of all four counts Wednesday, were accused of plucking Kenneth McDavid and Paul Vados off the streets, putting them up in apartments for two years and then having them run over in dark alleys. Two years is the period after which most insurance policies cannot be contested. Golay faces life in prison without the possibility of parole. She buried her head in her hands after the jury's decision was read.
No doubt thinking of spending the rest of her life without hair and makeup - that is punishment!

Wishing she had stayed in the hair-removal business?

Rutterschmidt could be sentenced to 25 years to life on the conspiracy conviction. As the verdict was returned, she put her chin on her fist and looked blankly around the small, softly lighted courtroom.

The jury, which received the case late Monday, will continue deliberating the remaining counts against Rutterschmidt today. Golay's attorney, Roger Jon Diamond, indicated that she would appeal. "The ladies did not do very well today," he said.

From the LAT:

Sadly, the embedded code doesn't work, but go here:

The horseshoe for luck! Helen's hair in the corner!

Olga: "They gonna lock you up!"

An attorney for a septuagenarian woman charged with murder in the staged hit-and-run killings of two homeless men told jurors Monday that his client was framed by her daughter, who was motivated by "intense hatred toward her mother."

Roger Jon Diamond, who had delayed his opening statement until the prosecution completed its case in the double murder trial, told the jury that Kenneth McDavid's death was clearly a homicide. But he said Kecia Golay, 44, was at the wheel of the Mercury Sable station wagon that killed him, not her mother, Helen Golay, 77.

Prosecutors said a tow record places Helen Golay at the homicide scene.

"That is the question: Who did this dastardly act, not how was it done," Diamond told jurors.

"I'm sorry, did you want louder bangs?"

WASHINGTON, Pa. (AP) -- A hairstylist shot an unhappy client after she complained about her haircut, police said.

She thought she was getting a bad haircut, but police in southwestern Pennsylvania say when Lauren Newton complained, she got a bullet in the back.

Newton's hairstylist is now facing charges of aggravated assault and reckless endangerment. Police say the two had been arguing yesterday about the style of the cut when the hairstylist left the room and returned with a gun. Newton and her sister tried to flee after the stylist fired a shot into the ceiling, but police say that's when a second shot hit Newton in the lower back.

She was taken to a Pittsburgh hospital for treatment. Her injuries are not considered to be life-threatening. (But what about her hair?!)

The hairstylist is being held in a Washington, Pennsylvania, jail on $50,000 bond.

deleted scene from Female Trouble: "Dawn's Hair"

"The More Crimes One Commits, The More Ravishing One Becomes" dept:

Securitas robber 'disguised with bra strap'

By Bonnie Malkin and agencies
Last Updated: 4:08pm BST 18/10/2007

A make-up artist has described how she used her bra straps and baby bottle teats to disguise one of the alleged £53 million Securitas robbers. Michelle Hogg's account sparked laughter in the Old Bailey when she explained her methods to the jury. Hogg, 32, was giving evidence against a group of men alleged to have taken part in Britain's biggest cash robbery in Tonbridge, Kent in February, last year.

She was formally cleared of involvement in the crime two weeks ago after the prosecution accepted her account that she did not know why she had been asked to provide masks and disguises. ("No reason ... no reason at all.") She is now a prosecution witness and in dramatic scenes began giving evidence yesterday.

After making alterations to the false hair and beard, one alleged robber, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was still not satisfied, she said.

He complained that he had been make to look "like a black Father Christmas", she said.

"He wanted his nose flatter so I used rubber baby teats. The ends were cut off and I put them up his nostrils.

"That made his nose look flatter and wider with flared arches," said Miss Hogg.

"I also pinned his eyes back. I used the straps from my bra."

She was interrupted by prosecuting QC Sir John Nutting who asked: "You used what?"

Hogg answered: "I used the straps from my bra. First ribbon and cotton were brought to the house but they did not work. "Being creative, I thought what else could I use, so I thought my bra because it is elastic."

The judge, Mr Justice Penry-Davey asked: "What did you do with them?"

She answered: "I attached it on his scalp and under his hair to make his eyes look slanted. It gave him slanted, oriental eyes." She then demonstrated how she attached the ends on either side of the head and pulled the elastic behind the head.

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — A man who made more than 600 telephone calls to a shoe store and other businesses to ask women about their shoes and feet must pay a $200 fine.

James Lee Fink, 31, placed 119 calls from his cell phone to the Chambersburg (Pennsylvania) Mall, 513 calls to a Holiday Inn in Havelock, North Carolina, and 17 calls to a Comfort Inn in Chambersburg between January 1 and May 8, 2006, Pennsylvania State Police Trooper Jeff Bopp said Thursday.

The caller would ask the women what kind of shoes they were wearing and whether they would show him their feet if he came into their store.

The man identified himself as Brian Thompson, but State Police used phone records to link the telephone number to Fink, whose last known address was in Martinsburg.

Fink pleaded guilty to harassment in August in Franklin County Court in Pennsylvania. He was sentenced Wednesday.

In addition to a fine, Franklin County Court Judge John Walker ordered Fink to serve a year on probation. Fink also was ordered to stay away from The Shoe Department in Frederick, Maryland, and one woman whom he continuously harassed.

What She Needs is a Good Plastic Surgeon!
Pair Arrested for Alleged Home Surgeries

(09-06) 13:37 PDT San Jose, Calif. (AP) --

A couple were arrested after authorities said they performed illegal and disfiguring cosmetic surgeries in their filthy home, filled with drugs and syringes.

Ha Nguyen, 48, and Zbigniew Makowski, 62, were arrested Wednesday on suspicion of practicing medicine without a license and child endangerment. Four children were removed from their home by child-welfare officials, authorities said.

One woman who received a facelift and tummy tuck from Nguyen now has thick three-inch scars next to each ear, scars above each eyebrow and under her lower lip, and a 15-inch scar across her stomach, said California Medical Board spokeswoman Candis Cohen.

Authorities were alerted to the couple's activities by a former client of Nguyen's, according to a search warrant affidavit. The client said Nguyen was performing cosmetic surgery in her home and earning at least $500 a day, while also receiving welfare, the affidavit said.

Makowski is suspected of being Nguyen's accomplice. Authorities said he transported patients to the house and helped clean wounds, authorities said.

Nguyen has never been licensed in California as a physician, according to the medical board. In 2003, the board investigated her for performing a botched genital surgery, but the woman who made the complaint moved away and the case was not pursued, according to the affidavit.

Nguyen and Makowski were to be arraigned Friday and were in custody late Wednesday night; a call to the jail Thursday morning was not returned. It was unclear if the couple had retained lawyers.

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