Thursday, February 19, 2015

The Handsome Boy Next Door: Richard Beymer

Happy Birthday to
the handsome boy next door...

I did not know until recently, that Richard
played Jewish teenager Peter Van Daan
in 1959's "The Diary of Anne Frank"

Richard with co-star Millie Perkins
in "The Diary of Anne Frank"

Nor did I realized he played
another young man whose life was 
tragically cut short in
the 1961 musical,
"West Side Story"

Richard as the doomed Tony

As the trivia queen of our family
I cannot believe I missed this!
Both "The Diary of Anne Frank"
and "West Side Story" are 
 original Broadway plays
that became memorable
classic films designed to
make you think about what
really matters in life.     

Richard (Tony) and Natalie Wood (Maria)

Based on Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet"
"West Side Story" is the tale of two rival street gangs,
the Jets, who are white, and 
 the Puerto Rican Sharks,
both of which reside in a blue collar,
 working class neighborhood on New York's 
Upper West Side in the late 1950's.
 Tony, who is a former member of the Jets,
 and Maria, the sheltered younger sister of Sharks 
gang leader, Bernardo, fall deeply in love, yet,
find themselves caught up in the simmering racial
tensions and street violence between the two gangs, 
which ultimately leads to heartbreaking tragedy.

"Only you, you’re the only thing I’ll see forever,
In my eyes, in my words and in everything I do,
Nothing else but you
West Side Story

Several years before starring in
"West Side Story" 
Richard (right) played Rab Silsbee, 
a young member of the Sons of Liberty, 
 in the Walt Disney movie,
"Johnny Tremain"

Richard as lost American Private Arthur "Dutch" Schultz
of the 82nd Airborne Division, meets up with downed
 RAF pilot Richard Burton in the
excellent reenactment of the D-Day invasion,
"The Longest Day"

Richard romances beautiful Tuesday Weld
in the 1962 comedy,
"Bachelor Flat"

Richard as young world traveler Nick Adams
playing opposite Paul Newman
in Ernest Hemingway's
"Adventures of a Young Man"

Richard's lustful infatuation
with a beautiful older woman
played by
Joanne Woodward 
leads to mutual heartbreak in
 "The Stripper"

Fast forward to the mid-to-late 1980's
and early 1990's... and the 
hit television series,
"Murder She Wrote"...

Still boyishly handsome,
Richard played some
rather villainous characters
in six different episodes
of the popular
 long-running, CBS series:
"The Days Dwindle Down"
"The Way To Dusty Death"
"The List of Yuri Lermentov"
"The Sound of Murder"
"Love and Hate In Cabot Cove"
"The Dark Side of the Door" 

Unfortunately, he was no match
for the crime-busting, mystery-writing sleuth,
Jessica Fletcher!

Peyton Place Meets The Twilight Zone...

Richard in his most recent memorable role
as the shady hotel owner Benjamin Horne
in the bizarre television series,
"Twin Peaks"

I never watched "Twin Peaks" when it originally aired
  on television back in the early 1990's. 
I only recently decided to watch the entire series on Netflix.
 I have to admit, not only was I disappointed with the outcome
of this strange and often surreal prime time soap opera,
 especially FBI Agent Dale Cooper morphing into
the demonic serial killer, Bob, in the final episode, not to mention
Doc Hayward punching  Benjamin Horne's lights out,
 but I am still trying to figure out
what in the heck was  really going on in
that weird little town!

 From Twin Peaks To Outer Space...

 Also in the early 1990's
 Richard played the heroic Bajoran resistance fighter,
Li Nalas, in several episodes of the sci-fi television series,
"Star Trek Deep Space Nine"

In the 1996 movie, 
"A Face To Die For" 
Richard plays a plastic surgeon 
captivated by a disfigured young woman,
played by Yasmine Bleeth, 
whose marred face he re-creates
 into the beautiful, spitting image of
  his beloved dead wife.
 Although it was kind of
a creepy thing to do,
I  felt a little sorry for 
Richard's character as the desperate,
bereaved husband left behind.

Mississippi Burning...

"There's a battle outside and it's ragin
It'll soon shake your windows and rattle your walls
For the times they are a-changin'..."
-Bob Dylan

1964 was a time of great
turmoil and human tragedy in America.
During the summer of that year,
Richard joined hundreds of  concerned 
young people, mostly from the north, 
traveling to Mississippi to work on
the civil rights campaign to help
 black Americans register to vote.
What would later come to be known as
"Freedom Summer" the state of Mississippi,
 which had historically barred blacks
 from voting in political elections,
 was a hotbed of violence and racial unrest,
 culminating in the cruel and senseless murders
of three young civil rights workers in June of that year.
The story of the FBI investigation into their tragic deaths
was later made into the film, "Mississippi Burning" in 1988.

From actor to film maker...

Richard's first documentary,
"A Regular Bouquet: Mississippi Summer"
was the insightful result of his time spent down South
 during this unpredictable and contentious
episode of social upheaval and change
 in our nation's history.

Richard with a group of students 
from a freedom school
in Mississippi  

A native Mid-westerner, Richard currently lives
on his farm near Fairfield, Iowa.
He has been a committed vegetarian for many years.
In honor of his birthday this week,
here is a recipe that will hopefully satisfy the sweet tooth of
vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike.

Pamela's Carrot Cake

In order to make good carrot cake, you first need 
great-tasting carrots!  I have tasted many carrots in my life,
both raw and cooked, and I have to say that sweet and crunchy
 Dorot Carrots are simply the best!
 These bright orange beauties are grown all year round
 on the Kibbutz Dorot near the town of Sderot, in southern Israel.

2 cups of unbleached flour
2 cups of sugar
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
3 eggs
11/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 cups of finely grated carrots
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup of crushed well-drained pineapple
1 cup flaked coconut
1 cup of chopped walnuts or pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
In a large bowl, mix together flour,
cinnamon, baking soda, salt.
 Set aside.
In another mixing bowl, mix sugar, eggs, carrots,
applesauce, vanilla.
Mix dry ingredients into sugar mixture
until well blended.  Stir in pineapple, coconut,
and nuts.
Pour batter into a well-greased 9 x 13 inch
baking pan and bake for 50-60 minutes or until
toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean. 
Rest cake on a wire rack. Cool completely
before frosting.
Cream Cheese Frosting
2 8-ounce packages cream cheese
4 cups confectioner's sugar
1 stick (four ounces) softened butter
Additional chopped nuts
Beat cream cheese and butter together
until fluffy. Carefully add powdered sugar,
beating well after each addition. Add
vanilla extract and additional nuts.
Store any leftover frosting and cake in
the refrigerator.

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