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Tony Grist

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Tynan [Mar. 3rd, 2005|09:13 am]
Tony Grist
Kenneth Tynan was Britain's greatest theatre critic. He did the job for ten years then got bored. Next he did ten years at the National Theatre, working alongside Olivier. The final ten years were itty-bitty- a bit of writing, a bit of producing, a lot of swanning round the globe eating big meals he couldn't afford. He smoked too much and died of lung disease at 53.

And somewhere in the middle of all this he devised "Oh Calcutta"- the tatty sex revue which was supposed to revolutionize theatre and which wound up being the longest running Broadway musical of all time.

Oh, and he's fondly remembered as the first person to say "fuck" on British TV.

I watched a TV play about him last night. Rob Bryden- a very funny man given the right material- was Tynan. And Julian Sands- hiding his embarrassment behind heavy rimmed glasses- gave us an impression of Olivier. The whole thing was very, very bad. Mainly it was gobbets from the Tynan diaries served up as dialogue, with Lord Larry as feed.

Lord Larry playing second fiddle? Give us a break!

There's a vogue for these plays/films about great mid-century talents in decline. In the last six months I've watched Peter Sellers, then Peter Cook and Dudley Moore and now Tynan crash and burn.

And the moral is.....

Don't get uppity?
Talent is not enough?
The paths of glory lead but to the grave?

Oh, enough of kicking corpses! These guys sit in judgement on us. At least they did something interesting with their lives.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: jackiejj
2005-03-03 06:25 am (UTC)
I vote for "The paths of glory lead but to the grave."

Kenneth Tynan was one of those brave people who, when they get bored, stop and move on.

Time magazine once interviewed Sting when he was at the top of his singing career as a singer and bass player in The Police. He was standing on his head (the show-off) during his interview, and he said, "Right now, I love what I am doing. When I get bored, I'll quit."

Beverly Sills, the coloratura opera singer, suddenly quit singing at--what? 52? She said she even quit singing in the shower. And she became head of an opera company.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-03-03 07:11 am (UTC)
Tynan had a careless, buccaneering attitude to life. Right now I find that very attractive.

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[User Picture]From: jackiejj
2005-03-03 02:29 pm (UTC)
"A buccaneering attitude to life": what I would give for that!

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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-03-03 07:13 am (UTC)
Do you have to have talent to be so devil-may-care? Or does the devil-may-care attitude produce the talent?
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[User Picture]From: karenkay
2005-03-03 11:14 am (UTC)
It's a lucky combination--they can co-exist independently.
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[User Picture]From: halfmoon_mollie
2005-03-03 07:58 am (UTC)
And the moral is.....

Don't get uppity?
Talent is not enough?
The paths of glory lead but to the grave?



now matter how you struggle and strive
you'll never get out of this world alive -
Hank Williams (Senior)

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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-03-03 08:13 am (UTC)
So why not take a few risks?

I've been thinking, it's the risk takers we remember. People like Ken Tynan and Hank Williams Snr.
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[User Picture]From: halfmoon_mollie
2005-03-03 09:00 am (UTC)
When I was growing up, my family had a hi-fi and Mom had 78 records of Hank Sr. I'm not sure if it was familiarity or what, but I know a LOT of Hank Sr. songs inside out, I could probably sing them in my sleep.

He DID take risks. He led a very sad life, and died at not quite 30. He had six times the talent and class that his son ever had. There have been all kinds of plays about him, most of them not portraying him in a very flattering light.

Who was it that said they'd rather fail at something than miss the chance at trying?
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-03-03 09:18 am (UTC)
I don't know the origin of that quote, but I know others to the same effect.

Like Browning's

"Ah but a man's reach should exceed his grasp,
Or what's a heaven for."

Tynan wasn't a "nice" man either, but wotthehell!
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[User Picture]From: halfmoon_mollie
2005-03-03 10:08 am (UTC)
Isn't it amazing what idols people turn into when they die? (Tragically or not). Hank was kicked out of the Grand Ol' Opry, at that time the absolute epitome of a country music performer's career. Yes, indeed, he had alcohol and drug problems. And women problems, it seems. He was never allowed to come back to Ryman Auditorium.

But whose name is it constantly mentioned now? Hank Williams Sr changed music in his way surely as much as the Beatles changed music in their way.

The Opry has to contend with what they did to 'a star' and NOW, boy howdy, Hank Sr. is a HERO, a GROUNDBREAKER...etc. etc. etc.

uh huh.

I'd reckon that maybe 50 years down the road, Tynan may be remembered as a hero and a groundbreaker, as well. And all those who dissed him will blessedly get amnesia and not remember the nasty things he said, or they said about him....

Just like all the people who had bad things to say about John Lennon suddenly forgot them...

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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-03-03 12:10 pm (UTC)
I didn't know about Hank Snr being kicked out of the Grand Ol' Opry.

There are lots of similar stories.

For instance, Byron was all but thrown out of England.

And most of the places which now trade on their connection with Van Gogh were all too happy to see the back of him when he was alive.
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[User Picture]From: halfmoon_mollie
2005-03-03 12:42 pm (UTC)
Granted, he was a no show a couple of times, and showed up very drunk a couple times. And I'm not saying they were wrong. But after he died, suddenly he's a hero, a saint...

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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-03-03 12:58 pm (UTC)
And by the same token Van Gogh was the sort of person you'd cross the street to avoid- an ugly drunk and abusive to women.

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From: morrison_maiden
2005-03-03 10:52 am (UTC)
Kenneth Tynan...I remember he said about Garbo:

What when drunk, one sees in other women, one sees in Garbo sober

;)
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-03-03 12:01 pm (UTC)
Yes, he was a great one for those kind of epigrams.

He a friend of Louise Brooks and wrote a book about her.
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