What Do So Many Celebrities See in Ray-Ban’s Wayfarer Sunglasses?

Sources: AdWeek | All Things Michael

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Style and color are very important when it comes to sunglasses, but as any fashionista—or just anyone who lives in L.A.—will tell you, no frames get hot until celebrities put them on.

In 1955, James Dean did.

Their maker, Ray-Ban, called them Wayfarers.

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Fresh from the drafting table of Raymond Stegeman, Wayfarers were unlike any other eyewear that had come before. Made of plastic instead of metal, its temples flared, the Wayfarer was a rebellious thing—probably why Dean, the 24-year-old star of Rebel Without a Cause, put them on.

Then Audrey Hepburn put them on. That was 1961, when Breakfast at Tiffany’s introduced America to daring suggestions of divorce. Givenchy designed Hepburn’s dresses, but Ray- Ban completed the look. Soon, Hollywood stars including Marilyn Monroe, Cary Grant and Kim Novak had put Wayfarers on. In Nashville, Roy Orbison followed suit, as did a guitarist in New York named Bob Dylan.

America had a new president in 1961, and many thought that he’d put Wayfarers on, too. In fact, JFK wore the American Optical brand (a knockoff) but no matter: The frames looked like Wayfarers, and that was close enough. Overnight, millions of American men tried to imitate the Camelot style—which meant that they put Wayfarers on, too.

What was it about these frames? Their distinctive shape possessed the ability to dress up drab outfits while dressing down formal ones. The Wayfarer’s “distinctive trapezoidal frame spoke a nonverbal language that hinted at dangerousness,” the critic Stephen Bayley has written. That’s probably why Andy Warhol and John Lennon put their Wayfarers on, too.

Even though Debbie Harry and John Belushi had their Wayfarers on, sales were in the ditch by the late 1970s. So Ray-Ban found a new way to get celebrities to wear the goods: product placement. Tom Cruise put Wayfarers on for 1983′s Risky Business. Then Don Johnson put them on, as did Don Henley, Johnny Marr and Madonna. Corey Hart wore his sunglasses at night, and by 1987, as Michael Jackson was setting off on his Bad tour, he’d put Wayfarers on, too.

Today, Italian optical giant Luxottica licenses the right to make Wayfarers, which it reintroduced in 2006 as a pristine copy of the 1952 original. Times and tastes have changed a lot over 60 years, but the cultural impetus of Wayfarers is now unstoppable. “They’re one of the first things that come to mind when people think of sunglasses,” said Jordan Silver, co-owner of New York’s Silver Lining Opticians, and he is in a position to know. Vintage Wayfarers–when Silver can get them–can go for $800. Of course, prices like that are a pittance for the latest generation of celebrities to put Wayfarers on, including Johnny Depp, Robert Pattinson, James Franco, Jude Law and Orlando Bloom. We’d list more, but we hate to name drop.

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‘Superstar’ Jackson Hopes Finding A New Home Is As Easy As ABC

Sources: Newbury Today  - By Jane Meredith | All Things Michael

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AN AFFECTIONATE young greyhound is hoping finding a new home will be as easy as ABC.

Jenny Hopkins, assistant manager at Dogs Trust Newbury, said the three-year-old was an “affectionate chap” who enjoyed cuddling up to his favourite carers and continued:

“Just like his namesake (the late Michael Jackson) he is a real superstar but he prefers the quiet life so would like to find a home where he can relax and enjoy plenty of peace and quiet, away from the spotlight.”

“This handsome hound is a bit of a ladies dog so would love a home with a female Greyhound who could show him the doggy ropes and become his companion. Whilst he enjoys meeting new people, Jackson is best suited to a quiet, adult-only home with a spare sofa where he can stretch out and snooze after his walkies!”

Do you think you can give Jackson the home he deserves? Please contact the staff at Dogs Trust Newbury, telephone 01488 658 391.

Alternatively, call in at the rehoming centre at Plumb’s Farm, Hamstead Marshall, Newbury, Berks RG20 0HR.

Dogs Trust is the UK’s largest dog welfare charity and cares for nearly 17,000 stray and abandoned dogs each year through its network of 20 Rehoming Centres in the UK and one in Ireland.

For more information visit www.dogstrust.org.uk.

 

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James Gunn on Designing Dancing Baby Groot For Guardians Of The Galaxy

Sources: Yahoo – By  Perri Nemiroff | Edited By – All Things Michael

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There’s a lot to love about James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy, but when you wrap up your film with a baby version of one of the most lovable characters of the year dancing to the Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back,” it’s bound to be one of the biggest takeaways.  In fact, dancing baby Groot became such a hit, an officially licensed toy version of the little guy is due in stores in December.

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On top of that, come December 9th you can watch baby Groot dance it up all you want because that’s when the Guardians of the Galaxy Blu-ray arrives and it includes bonus material covering how Gunn went about designing the character.  Hit the jump for a brief preview of the Guardians of the Galaxy Blu-ray featurette.

Yahoo also got the opportunity to talk Groot with Gunn. Here’s what he said about Vin Diesel’s involvement:

“Vin had a strange attachment to Groot. First of all, it’s not a secret, he was going through a very difficult time in his life when the character came to him, and he just felt like it was a big relief to just get into something very simple. It was a character he was able to share with his children, who were very young, and had never been able to see one of his movies in the theater. And he was able to just tune into this character in a very simple way and find this spiritual center. I don’t think that goes unnoticed in the character in the movie.”

Gunn also had this to say about the status of baby Groot and whether or not he is the original Groot:

“That’s an unanswered question: Is Baby Groot, Groot? Or is Baby Groot actually Groot’s progeny? … It may be answered in the future, but that’s the question.”

When asked if there are other Groots out there somewhere, Gunn replied:

“There may be! There might be! Who knows?”

In conclusion, I am Groot.

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Usher On Michael Jackson, Justin Bieber And The Struggle To Stay A Superstar

Sources: Guardian – By Alex Needham| All Things Michael

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From his fur trapper’s hat to his black Margiela hi-top trainers, Usher looks like the consummate modern pop star. Sitting in a posh hotel meeting room in New York’s Upper East Side, two days after playing a triumphant, sold-out show at Madison Square Garden, he should be basking in his success, though one thing suggests that he is nervous: when I tell him how much I enjoyed it, he immediately inquires: “What was your favourite part?”

In fact, though the 36-year-old’s demeanour is calm and genial, with a molten southern accent that’s sheer aural nectar (he has a surprising habit of pointing for emphasis), Usher is navigating a predicament that comes to most megastars, however impregnable they might appear. In May, his comeback single, Good Kisser, only got to No 65 in the States (No 10 in the UK), and the followup, She Came To Give It To You, despite borrowing the melody of the SOS Band’s Just Be Good to Me and a rap by Nicki Minaj, did even worse, reaching No 89 (No 16 in the UK). The day after we meet, Billboard announces that Usher’s next song, Clueless, will be made available exclusively via boxes of Honey Nut Cheerios sold at Walmart; you’ll find a download code at the bottom of the packet. It doesn’t exactly scream confidence.

Usher had his first career wobble back in October 2000. Pop Ya Collar, which was intended to be the first single from his new album, underperformed in America, partly because of a leak on Napster, an early indication of the mayhem that the web would wreak on the music business. So Usher overhauled his entire album, finally putting out the 8m-selling 8701 the following July. Plenty has changed since then, but once again Usher is delaying his next album release. Not that anyone’s saying the poor performance of those first two singles is the reason: “I thought there would be nothing greater than to come off the high of being on tour than to go back into the studio,” he says.

Originally scheduled for around now, the album, titled UR, will now come out in the first half of next year. That means Usher is currently touring the States with no product to shift, few new songs to play, and an elaborate production with pyrotechnics, hydraulic platforms, nine musicians, eight dancers and three backing singers.

Yet, as he says, it provides a good opportunity to explore the breadth of his music since his commercial breakthrough in August 1997, when the sparse, insidious funk of You Make Me Wanna … got to No 1 in the UK and No 2 in the US. “I wanted to encapsulate what the past 20 years have been for me,” he says. “I wanted the audience to reminisce.”

As someone who was working on pop magazines in 1997, the gig did indeed inspire a little reminiscing. Back then, record companies used to invite the media to showcases, basically a lavish midweek booze-up incorporating a short performance from whichever new act they were plugging. Usher’s took place at the Café de Paris in London’s Piccadilly Circus; the 19-year-old dropped his trousers at the end, to the raucous appreciation of the well-oiled radio pluggers, TV bookers and hacks.

“That was crazy,” says Usher. “It’s a bit of a different show now. I’m more mature, I don’t drop my trousers any more. Unfortuntely they do fall down from time to time – I’m losing weight. A wardrobe malfunction.” That’s hardly the only change; 17 years on, record sales have collapsed, with Usher’s career telling the story almost in microcosm. His 2004 album Confessions was the biggest seller of the past decade in the US, selling 10m copies there and 20m in all; but the 2008 followup Here I Stand sold a quarter of that number.

Today, record company budgets have shrunk, the free music-business booze has mostly run dry, and few of Usher’s R&B peers remain in the exalted positions they occupied in the late 90s; just Beyoncé, Justin Timberlake (who took five years off to make films) and Pharrell Williams, who’s had his own ups and downs.

Yet despite it all, Usher is still here, the huge spread of hits he performs at the Garden demonstrating not only his own formidable talents – his singing is exquisite, his dancing impeccable – but how much he’s been willing to adapt his sound. Back when Usher was starting out, producers including Timbaland, Rodney Jerkins and the long-forgotten Kevin “She’kspere” Briggs were redefining R&B; then in 2004 Yeah, the single that kicked off Confessions, propelled crunk and Lil Jon to the top of the charts worldwide. Since then, alongside the smouldering slow jams that have always delighted his hardcore fans (Burn reduces the New York audience to blancmange), Usher has experimented with europop, house and lairy EDM on hits such as OMG (a US and UK No 1), and R&B of a more futuristic bent, as on the sublime 2012 hit Climax, produced by Diplo.

Ask Usher who he’s working with on his next album, and you get a list of collaborators including Skrillex, Ed Sheeran, uber-pop producer Max Martin, Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, and Disclosure (their last session done via Skype), though Usher says that his guiding lights are still 90s R&B geniuses Babyface and LA Reid. The challenge, of course, is avoiding the sonic equivalent of mutton dressed as lamb, or a record that adapts sounds from so many places that Usher’s personality – often rather nebulous on record – evaporates completely. Watching his live show, you wonder where his heart really lies; in the soul revue-style tranche of songs with a brass section, or with the pounding EDM of Numb, produced by Swedish House Mafia.

Usher skirts the question, but indicates that EDM has become all-pervasive, particularly in America: “They need that tempo on the radio and they need that drive.” Its introduction into soul music was, he says, “not a bad thing; some really great records and new artists were introduced, but for the old artists, who were keeping to the authenticity of R&B, they kind of fell by the wayside.”

He seems much more excited by British artists such as Adele and Sam Smith who, he says, offer “a different experience of soul music. In a way, European artists have been able to preserve all the greatest parts of R&B without giving you too much of the raw essence of it so that it feels too sexual or too specific. Right? And then it’s well produced. Sonically it sounds on the same level as something that would be played by the Dave Matthews Band.” That is, if nothing else, a surprising benchmark for aural splendour.

His interest in younger artists is undoubtedly genuine. He loves FKA twigs (“It’s a little more artsy, but it’s real”), Hawaiian strummer Mike Love and Malaysian singer-songwriter Yuna, and has mentored several fledgling stars, notably Justin Bieber. “Any artist has ebbs and flows in their life and career,” he says of Bieber’s well-publicised recent vicissitudes. “I think the story is just begun, you’ve not seen the best of his talent. In life, you have to go through something to get to something. From that the inspiration comes having something of substance to talk about; otherwise you’re just considered to be fluff.”

Rightly, Usher sees himself in the grand tradition of soul men: “It’s part of what makes me great, being able to follow Michael Jackson, James Brown, Stevie Wonder, Donny Hathaway, great artists who were also incredible songwriters.” Brown anointed Usher as his successor – “He always told me: ‘If you stay ready, you ain’t got to get ready’” – while Jackson told him: “If you want to continue to be great, you’ve got to work hard.”

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And work hard is exactly what Usher does. Like many people today, he’s grafting twice as much for the same, or fewer rewards. He accepts that these days, live shows rather than records are where he makes his money, but spares a thought for the producers who have machine-tooled and polished his records with such dedication – and at such expense.

“Music is now being used as a free good that lures people in; it’s sad, because the producers are like: ‘Damn, this is my living.’ They get paid an advance on the record they’re going to do, which is not much to some, especially if you’re balancing a lifestyle and you’re buying jewellery and clothes and all that stuff.” OK, it’s not quite the breadline, but his point stands: “Music is not free to make. Studios are going under because people now work at laptops. Quantity over quality is what begins to happen; the idea of what quality is has changed.”

The physical punishment of singing and dancing for two hours every night must take its toll on a 36-year-old father of two; if Usher were a footballer, he’d be approaching retirement by now, while no male rock star would be expected to remain in peak physical condition.

“I’m a go-hard type,” he says obstinately. “It’s in my DNA. I physically prepare my body as if I’m a trained athlete. After the shows, I sit in an ice tub and do a hot dip, cold dip, and sometimes I sit in a hyperbaric chamber to rejuvenate my energy. I have a workout regimen that I do, just to keep my body going. If you get lazy when you’re onstage, it shows.” Having dispensed with the services of his personal vegan chef, Usher no longer adheres to that diet, and he likes a drink: “Milk stout is a problem for me, man. But if I do decide to have a pint, as you would say, I have to work a little bit harder; I have to get out and run.”

Usher also took up boxing to play Sugar Ray Leonard in Hands of Stone, a film released next year, which also stars Robert De Niro. It’s a reminder of Usher’s remarkable portfolio career, which at the very least should provide a bulwark against those falling record sales. “As I recognise my talents I work on them and I look for outlets,” he says. “As an actor I’ve tried a lot of different things – I’ve tried TV, I’ve tried reality TV doing The Voice, I’ve done Broadway [starring in the musical Chicago], I’ve acted in films, I entertain, I dance, I sing, I write, I produce, I mentor – whatever the order for the day is, I take it up. And I’m a dad. I’m just being the best that I can.”

Avuncular and engaged, as Usher relates his advice, you can see why his insights are prized by younger musicians, and he’s pleased that artists such as Drake have acknowledged him as an influence: “It’s the greatest form of flattering when someone recognises what you’ve done and put it in your music,” he says. He’s adamant that in another 20 years’ time he will still be an entertainer, or motivating younger artists behind the scenes. The era in which he sold 65m records may have passed, but Usher still has lots to give – and it doesn’t need free Cheerios to make it more enticing.

 

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Bruno Mars’ New Song Is an Amazing Tribute to Michael Jackson

Sources: Music Mic – By Tom Barnes | All Things Michael

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Critics have been drawing comparisons between Bruno Mars and Michael Jackson for some time now. Of course, no one will ever unseat the King of Pop. But in his latest song with Mark Ronson, Mars comes closer to channeling the legend than ever before.

Mars doesn’t have a Thriller or a Bad under his belt, but he can still approach the infectiousness of a Jackson beat. “Uptown Funk” swings with all the bright, uptempo funk that made Jackson’s biggest hits such irresistible tracks. Ronson’s mastery of the neo-soul sound — which helped break artists like Amy Winehouse, Lily Allen and Adele — provides the perfect soundscape for Mars to swagger and shine.

This is yet another sign that soul is coming back in a big way, and Ronson and Mars are two of the most instrumental parts in that process. “Uptown Funk” is set to appear on Ronson’s upcoming album, which currently does not yet have a title or release date. But with the singles starting to roll out, it’s clear that the soul revolution won’t be ending anytime soon.

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In Honor Of Those Who Have Served…

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Brief Summary of Veteran’s Day

World War I – known at the time as “The Great War” – officially ended when the Treaty of Versailles was signed on June 28, 1919, in the Palace of Versailles outside the town of Versailles, France. However, fighting ceased seven months earlier when an armistice, or temporary cessation of hostilities, between the Allied nations and Germany went into effect on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. For that reason, November 11, 1918, is generally regarded as the end of “the war to end all wars.”

In November 1919, President Wilson proclaimed November 11 as the first commemoration of Armistice Day with the following words:

“To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations…”

Veterans Day continues to be observed on November 11, regardless of what day of the week on which it falls. The observance of Veterans Day not only preserves the historical significance of the date, but helps focus attention on the importance of the purpose: to honor America’s veterans for their patriotism, love of country, and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good.

Michael Jackson and the Military

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What many may not realize is that Michael Jackson was a strong supporter of U.S. Military troops and was introduced to Bob Hope and the Hollywood USO in the 1970’s during the Vietnam War era. In those days, young Michael was performing with his famous brothers as The Jackson Five and the group frequently joined Bob Hope on USO domestic tours.

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Michael was also a huge addition to the “United We Stand – What More Can I Give” 24 hour benefit concert that followed the September 11 terrorist attacks on New York City. Performing with more than 25 artists to unite and heal America with a single theme, “…that no matter the obstacles thrown before us or the challenges that await, we shall overcome.”

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In March 2007, Michael visited the camp to greet 3,000 plus U.S. troops and their families. He was flown in on a Black Hawk helicopter from Hardy Barracks in Tokyo and addressed the frenzied crowd at the base’s Yano Fitness Center gymnasium:

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“It’s an honor and a privilege to be here. You people are among the most special in the world because you haven chosen a life of service. Because of you here today and others who have given their lives, we can enjoy our freedom at home. I thank you from the bottom of my heart, and I love you.”

Col. Robert M. Waltemeyer, Commander U.S. Army Garrison Japan, presented Michael with a Certificate of Appreciation for his devotion to U.S. Military troops and their families.

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May God bless those who have bravely served in our armed forces. We honor you and remember your dedication, blood, sweat and tears to defend us all over the world.

HAPPY VETERAN‘S DAY

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Sesame Street: Celebrating 45 Years Of Teaching Education In Our Changing Culture Along With Celebrity Guests

Sources: Detroit News | The Telegraph | Edited By – All Things Michael

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You don’t get to be the longest-running children’s show in U.S. TV history by doing the same thing over and over. So even though parents who grew up watching “Sesame Street” can still see old favorites like Big Bird, things on the street have changed since the show debuted 45 years ago on Nov. 10, 1969.

Cookie Monster now exercises self-control and sometimes eats fruits and vegetables. Millions of kids watch the show on phones and computers instead of TV. And there’s less time spent on the street with human characters. They’re just not energetic enough for today’s viewers.

In Britain, a BBC kids’ show, “Blue Peter,” is even older — on since 1958 — but that “Sesame Street” still exists in the U.S. at all, given the competition here, says a lot. In 1973, it was one of two shows on U.S. television for preschoolers. Now it’s competing with 84 kids’ shows on TV and countless others online. Yet “Sesame Street” still holds its own, ranking 20th among kids ages 2 to 5 with 850,000 viewers per TV episode, according to Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit organization behind the show.

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But now half the viewers watch it in digital formats. A “Sesame Street” YouTube channel has a million subscribers and 1.5 billion views. And touchscreens have been “a magic wand for us in terms of engagement,” says “Sesame Street” senior vice president Scott Chambers. Kids can trace letters or point to colors or shapes, and the app provides positive reinforcement.

“Sesame Street” also has the highest “co-viewing” experience — meaning adults watching with kids — of any preschool show: 49 percent of “Sesame Street” viewers are over age 18. “We’re very proud of that,” said Chambers. “We design the show to engage the parent because we know that’s more educational. If you have a parent watching with you, you’re going to learn much more.”

That’s why sketches often have contemporary celebrity guests or pop culture references that 2-year-olds don’t get, but adults do. One show celebrates “what makes people special,” with Elmo telling Lupita Nyong’o that her skin “is a beautiful brown color.” The actress responds, “Skin comes in lots of beautiful shades and colors … I love my skin!” It’s a classic “Sesame Street” lesson about diversity that goes back to its groundbreaking roots as one of the few shows in the 1970s to feature all races and ethnicities. Today the show also routinely features children with disabilities.

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Parents whose kids watch old episodes may be puzzled by warnings that the material may be inappropriate for today’s children. Back in the day, Cookie Monster hosted the show as Alistair Cookie, and he had a pipe, imitating the real show’s human host Alistair Cooke. Cookie Monster gobbled the pipe up rather than smoking it, but any reference to smoking is now unacceptable.

The music has changed too. Those memorable lyrics still open every episode, but now the song has a syncopated, jazzier beat. Other sketches feature hip-hop or Latin music. The Dracula-like Count von Count puppet uses a disco beat to teach a lesson about the number nine in his “Number of the Day” segment, and every episode ends with “Elmo the Musical,” with Broadway-style songs and a velvet curtain. Source

Sesame Street Celebrity Guests

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James Earl Jones is considered to be the first celebrity guest Sesame Street ever had. The actor featured in an insert where he recited the alphabet and counted numbers. This appearance came as early as episode two, with Jones returning twice more in 1979 and 2004.

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Michael Jackson made a brief appearance on Sesame Street as a 20-year-old. Appearing in the 1978 Christmas episode, A Special Sesame Street Christmas, Jackson gave Oscar the Grouch a book about ghosts.

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Bill Cosby has been a recurring guest throughout Sesame Street’s 45 years, starting in 1970 with an insert which saw him play twins who recite the aphabet together.

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In 1974, Star Wars droids R2-D2 and C3-PO appeared in inserts featuring Big Bird. They appeared twice more in 1980 and 1982.

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Singer Stevie Wonder made a guest appearance in 1973 when he performed 123 Sesame Street and his song Superstition while also enjoying a chat with Grover. Such were the popularity of his scenes that many of them have been repeated as inserts.

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Actress Julia Roberts appeared in a 1990 sketch with Elmo in which the two demonstrate the feeling of fear.

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Hilary Clinton – as First Lady – appeared on Sesame Street in 1993 for an insert alongside Rosita and Big Bird in which she discussed health tips. Picture: AP

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Superman actor Christopher Reeve appeared in 1995 alongside his son where he talked about the independent living skills that he acquired following his disability. He also appeared in 2000 where he recited the alphabet with Ernie’s Rubber Duckie.

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The musician Elvis Costello appeared in 2011 for a performance of (A Monster Went and) Ate My Red Two, a parody of his song (The Angels Wanna Wear My) Red Shoes. He performed with Elmo and Cookie Monster.

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The First Lady follows in the footsteps of Barbara Bush, Hilary Clinton and Laura Bush by appearing on Sesame Street. She recorded a segment abouthealthy eating and nutrition with Elmo, as well as planting gardens with Big Bird. In 2013, Obama was joined by Elmo and Rosita to announce that Sesame Workshop had joined the Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA) to hep promote fresh fruit and vegetable consumption for kids (“I think it’s probably the best thing I’ve done at the White House,” she said).

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One Direction are set to become the first X Factor-generated act to appear on Sesame Street. They’ll spoof their debut single What Makes You Beautiful with a rendition of What Makes “U” Useful. Source

 

Madonna’s Clothes Sell For Millions At Celebrity Auction

Sources: BBC News | All Things Michael

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A collection of dresses and outfits worn by Madonna during her career in music and film helped a celebrity auction raise $3.2m (£2m).

The highest lot was a jacket from Desperately Seeking Susan, which fetched $252,000, while a gown from her Material Girl video reached $73,125.

The Californian auction also saw lots from Michael Jackson, Cher and The Beatles.

Michael Jackson memorabilia continues to attract bidders

Michael Jackson memorabilia continues to attract bidders

A red sequinned cape worn by James Brown sold for $41,600.

The wedding dress Madonna wore when she wed actor Sean Penn in 1985 sold for $81,250 (£51,192), while a dress she wore on her Who’s That Girl tour reached bids of $50,000 (£31,503).

Other lots which attracted the bidders were a pair of John Lennon’s spectacles which sold for $25,000 (£15,751) and a ring worn by Elvis Presley for $57,600 (£36,291).

John Lennon's spectacles sold for $25,000

John Lennon’s spectacles sold for $25,000

Guitars from a host of rock greats formed part of the two-day sale including Prince’s Sign of the Times Love guitar and a 1940 Gibson J200 owned by Stephen Stills of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, which sold for $43,750 (£27,565).

 

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