Friday, December 16, 2011

Betcha Didn't Know...?

Some of the most notable names from the dawn of film and television are of Latino descent. Here are some of them.

In this edition, a famous game show hostess, a wrestler, an heiress, a newsman, and two actors.

Vanna White (1957- ), born Vanna Marie Rosich, is a television personality and film actress best known as the hostess of "Wheel of Fortune" since 1982. Born in Conway, South Carolina, U.S.A. to a Puerto Rican father and a mother of Italian-German descent. When her parents divorced, her mother remarried and she took the last name of her stepfather. After "Wheel of Forune" hostess Susan Stafford left in October 1982, White was chosen as one of three substitute hostesses (along with Vicki McCarty and Summer Bartholomew) to co-host the show. On December 13, 1982, she became the show's regular hostess, where her popularity grew. Her 1987 autobiography, Vanna Speaks!, was a best-seller. She also has made cameo appearances on television shows such as "227," "Simon and Simon," "Married... With Children" and "Full House"; and in films such as Naked Gun 33: The Final Insult. On April 20, 2006, she was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. She married restaurant owner George San Pietro in December 1990 and they divorced in November 2002. They had two children, a son born in 1994 and a daughter born in 1997. She is an avid crochet and knitting enthusiast and has a line of yarns called "Vanna's Choice" through Lion Brand Yarns.

Hulk Hogan (1953- ), born Terrence Gene Bollea, is a professional wrestler, actor, television personality, and musician. Born in Augusta, Georgia, U.S.A. and raised in Tampa, Florida, U.S.A., he enjoyed mainstream popularity in the mid-1980s through the early 1990s as the all-American character "Hulk" Hogan in the World Wrestling Federation (WWF—now the WWE), and was notable in the mid-to-late 1990s as Hollywood Hogan, a villain, in World Chanmpionship Wrestling (WCW). Following WCW's fold, he made a brief return to WWE in the early 2000s, revising his heroic character by combining elements of his two most famous personas. The son of an Italian father and a mother of French-Italian-Panamanian heritage, he was a wrestling fan and also a skilled musician, spending ten years playing bass guitar in several Florida-based rock bands. He started training with wrestler Hiro Matsuda in 1976 and made his professional wrestling debut the following year. He was later inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2005. He is a 12-time world heavyweight champion (six titles with WWF/WWE and six titles with WCW), as well as a former WWE World Tag Team Champion with Edge. In his first reign as WCW World Heavyweight Champion, Hogan held the title for 469 days from July 17, 1994 to October 29, 1995—the longest reign of all time for this championship. His crossover popularity led to several television and movie roles. Early in his career he played the part of Thunderlips in Rocky III (1982). Other film credits include No Holds Barred (1989), Suburban Commando (1991), Mr. Nanny (1993), Santa with Muscles (1996), and 3 Ninjas: High Noon at Mega Mountain (1998). He starred in the television series, "Thunder in Paradise" and "Hogan Knows Best," the latter of which was a reality television series that followed the lives of his family. He released a music CD, Hulk Rules, as Hulk Hogan and The Wrestling Boot Band.

Gloria Vanderbilt (1924- ), is an American artist, author, actress, heiress and socialite most noted as an early developer of designer blue jeans. Born the only child of railroad heir Reginald Claypoole Vanderbilt and his second wife, Gloria Morgan in New York, New York, U.S.A., she is a member of the prominent Vanderbilt family of New York. She became heiress to a half share in a five-million-dollar trust fund upon her father's death from cirrhosis when she was 18 months old. Her maternal great-grandfather, Hugh Judson Kilpatrick (1836–1881), was a Union Army general during the American Civil War who also served as the U.S. minister to Chile. Her maternal grandmother, Luisa Kilpatrick, née Luisa Valdivieso Araoz, was a member of a wealthy Spanish family that settled in Chile in the 17th century. Her mother's twin sister, Thelma, pronounced her name the Spanish pronounciation (TEL-ma). She studied acting at the Neighborhood Playhouse with teacher Sanford Meisner and studied art at the Art Students League of New York. She became known for her artwork, giving one-woman shows of oil paintings, watercolors, and pastels. This artwork was adapted and licensed, starting about 1968, by Hallmark Cards (a manufacturer of paper products) and by Bloomcraft (a textile manufacturer), and Vanderbilt began designing specifically for linens, china, glassware and flatware. During the 1970s, she ventured into the fashion business, first with Glentex, licensing her name for a line of scarves. In 1976, Indian designer Mohan Murjani's Murjani Corporation, proposed launching a line of designer jeans carrying her name embossed in script on the back pocket, as well as her swan logo. Her jeans were more tightly fitted than the other jeans of that time. The logo eventually appeared on dresses and perfumes as well. Along with her jeans, she launched a line of blouses, sheets, shoes, leather goods, liqueurs, and accessories. Jones Apparel Group acquired the rights to Gloria Vanderbilt Jeans in 2002. She was one of the first designers to make public appearances, which was a difficult thing for her because of her shyness. In 1978, Gloria Vanderbilt sold the rights to her name to the Murjani Group. She then launched her own company, "GV Ltd.," on 7th Avenue in New York. In the period from 1982 to 2002 L'Oreal launched eight fragrances under the brand name Gloria Vanderbilt. In 2001, she opened her first art exhibition, "Dream Boxes," at the Southern Vermont Arts Center in Manchester. A critical success, she launched another exhibition of 35 paintings at the Arts Center in 2007. Two years later, she returned to the Arts Center as a panelist at its Annual Fall Show Exhibition, signing copies of her latest novel, "Obsession: An Erotic Tale." She is the author of four memoirs and three novels, and is a regular contributor to The New York Times, Vanity Fair, and Elle. Today, Vanderbilt is not involved in the fashion or home furnishings business, and is in no way affiliated with the clothing and accessories company that uses her name. She has been married four times (to agent Pasquale DiCicco, conductor Leopold Stokowski, director Stanley Lumet and author Wyatt Emory Cooper, respectively) and has four children (Leopold Stanislaus Stokowski, Christopher Stokowski, Carter Cooper and CNN newsman Anderson Cooper) and three grandchildren from her eldest son. She maintained a romantic relationship with photographer and filmmaker Gordon Parks for many years until his death in 2006.

Anderson Cooper (1967- ) is an American journalist, author and television personality. He is the primary anchor of the CNN news show "Anderson Cooper 360°" and the host of his own eponymous syndicated daytime talk show "Anderson." Born in New York, New York, U.S.A., he is the son of writer Wyatt Emory Cooper and artist-designer-writer-heiress Gloria Vanderbilt. On his mother's side, he is a great-great-grandson of Major General Hugh Judson Kilpatrick and his wife Luisa Valdivieso de Kilpatrick (who was Chilean-born and of Spaniard heritage). He was a child model. He cites his brother Carter's suicide when he was 21 as a catalyst for sparking his interest in journalism. A graduate of Yale University with a degree in political science, he worked first for small news agency Channel One. He later became a correspondent for ABC News, eventually rising to the position of co-anchor on its overnight "World News Now" program on September 21, 1999. He moved to CNN in 2001, first as a co-anchor on "American Morning" and later as a weekend primetime anchor in 2002. His show "Anderson Cooper 360°" debuted in 2003. In early 2007 Cooper signed a multi-year deal with CNN, which would allow him to continue as a contributor to "60 Minutes" on CBS while concurrently serving as a CNN correspondent. Warner Bros. and Telepictures (both corporate siblings of CNN) announced in September 2010 that Cooper had signed an agreement to host a nationally syndicated talk show. The New York Times' Brian Stelter reported on Twitter that the new Warner Bros. daytime talk show would be named "Anderson." The show premiered on September 12, 2011 and, as part of negotiations over the talk show deal, he signed a new multi-year contract with CNN to continue as the host of "Anderson Cooper 360°."

Odette Yustman
(1985- ), also known as Odette Annable, is an actress. Born in Los Angeles, California, U.S.A., her mother is Cuban and her father, who is of Italian-French descent), was born in Colombia and raised in Nicaragua. Spanish was her first language. She made her acting debut at an early age, playing a young, Spanish-speaking student named Rosa in the film Kindergarten Cop, and later moved on to various television shows such as "South Beach" and "October Road." In 2007, she starred in the Lifetime original movie Reckless Behavior: Caught on Tape and followed it quickly with a lead role in J.J. Abrams' Cloverfield (2008) and the horror film The Unborn (2009). She starred as Melanie in the Fox series "Breaking In," which was cancelled and then renewed for another season. Between the cancellation and the renewal of that series she began starring in Fox's "House" as Dr. Jessica Adams, one of Dr. Gregory House's newest recruits. When "Breaking In" was renewed, Fox allowed her to work on both series simultaneously. She is married to actor Dave Annable (from ABC's "Brothers & Sisters"). In their wedding vows, she made him promise to learn Spanish and plans to pass down the language to her kids one day.

Edward Furlong (1977- ), born Edward Furlong Tafoya al estilo latino, is an actor whose best known film roles are John Connor in Terminator 2: Judgment Day and Daniel Vinyard in American History X. He was born in Glendale, California, U.S.A. to a Mexican-American mother and a father of Russian and Native American descent. He began his career with the film Terminator 2: Judgment Day, a role that earned him a MTV Movie Award and a Saturn Award for his performance. He followed this role with a string of moderately successful high-profile films and independent films, such as Before and After, Little Odessa, Pet Sematary II, Brainscan and The Grass Harp. In 1998, he starred in American History X alongside Edward Norton and appeared in his first comedy role in Pecker, directed by John Waters. Later film credits include Detroit Rock City, Animal Factory, The Crow: Wicked Prayer, Jimmy & Judy and Night of the Demons. He had a five-episode stint on the CBS series "CSI: NY." Most recently he acted in the 2011 Seth Rogen film, The Green Hornet.

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