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Steve McQueen and Charles Manson’s ‘Death List’

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Steve McQueen was one of several Hollywood celebrities placed on a “Death List” allegedly compiled by Charles Manson. The other names were Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, Frank Sinatra and Tom Jones.

On August 9th, 1969, members of Manson’s “Family” carried out the brutal murder of Sharon Tate and 4 of her friends.

McQueen had briefly dated Tate, and had planned to visit the actress the night of her death.

In December 1969, Manson and the killers had been arrested.

When McQueen heard he might be targeted by Manson’s followers, he started carrying a gun. In October 1970, a still cautious McQueen wrote to his lawyer to find out if any “Family” members were still active, and to have his gun license renewed.

Le MANS
A SOLAR PRODUCTION

October 17, 1970

Mr. Edward Rubin
Mitchell, Silberberg & Knupp
6380 Wilshire Boulevard
Los Angeles, California 90048
U.S.A.

Dear Eddie:

As you know, I have been selected by the Manson Group to be marked for death, along with Elizabeth Taylor, Frank Sinatra and Tom Jones. In some ways I find it humorous, and in other ways frighteningly tragic. It may be nothing, but I must consider it may be true both for the protection of myself and my family.

At the first possible time, if you could pull some strings and find out unofficially from one of the higher-ups in Police whether, again unofficially, all of the Manson Group has been rounded up and/or do they feel that we may be in some danger.

Secondly, if you would call Palm Springs and have my gun permit renewed, it was only for a year, and I should like to have it renewed for longer as it is the only sense of self-protection for my family and myself, and I certainly think I have good reason.

Please don’t let too much water go under the bridge before this is done, and I’m waiting for an immediate reply.

My best,

(Signed, ‘Steve’)

Steve McQueen

SMcQ/ja

cc: William Maher

 
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Previously on Dangerous Minds

Steve McQueen’s 1964 Driving License


The True Story of the Great Rolling Stones Drugs Bust


 
With thanks to Simon Wells, via Letters of Note
 

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Slaughterhouse-Five: 22-year-old POW Kurt Vonnegut writes home about the War

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Kurt Vonnegut was a 22-year-old Private serving in the U.S. Army, when he was captured at the Battle of the Bulge, in December 1944. Together with his fellow POWs, Vonnegut was marched to a work camp in Dresden, named “Slaughterhouse Five.” In this letter details these events and the infamous bombing in February 1945, that was to inspire his best-selling novel.

FROM:

Pfc. K. Vonnegut, Jr.,
12102964 U. S. Army.

TO:

Kurt Vonnegut,
Williams Creek,
Indianapolis, Indiana.

Dear people:

I’m told that you were probably never informed that I was anything other than “missing in action.” Chances are that you also failed to receive any of the letters I wrote from Germany. That leaves me a lot of explaining to do—in precis:

I’ve been a prisoner of war since December 19th, 1944, when our division was cut to ribbons by Hitler’s last desperate thrust through Luxemburg and Belgium. Seven Fanatical Panzer Divisions hit us and cut us off from the rest of Hodges’ First Army. The other American Divisions on our flanks managed to pull out: We were obliged to stay and fight. Bayonets aren’t much good against tanks: Our ammunition, food and medical supplies gave out and our casualties out-numbered those who could still fight - so we gave up. The 106th got a Presidential Citation and some British Decoration from Montgomery for it, I’m told, but I’ll be damned if it was worth it. I was one of the few who weren’t wounded. For that much thank God.

Well, the supermen marched us, without food, water or sleep to Limberg, a distance of about sixty miles, I think, where we were loaded and locked up, sixty men to each small, unventilated, unheated box car. There were no sanitary accommodations—the floors were covered with fresh cow dung. There wasn’t room for all of us to lie down. Half slept while the other half stood. We spent several days, including Christmas, on that Limberg siding. On Christmas eve the Royal Air Force bombed and strafed our unmarked train. They killed about one-hundred-and-fifty of us. We got a little water Christmas Day and moved slowly across Germany to a large P.O.W. Camp in Muhlburg, South of Berlin. We were released from the box cars on New Year’s Day. The Germans herded us through scalding delousing showers. Many men died from shock in the showers after ten days of starvation, thirst and exposure. But I didn’t….

 
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Via Letters of Note
 
The rest of Vonnegut’s letter home, after the jump…
 

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Dirk Bogarde: A Life of Letters

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By 1968, Dirk Bogarde thought his film career was drawing to a close, as his days as a matinee idol were long over, and the offers of work had slowed. With his partner Tony Forwood, he moved to France, and started a second career as a writer. Bogarde proved to be an exceptional writer, producing 15 bestsellers, including volumes of autobiography and fiction. He was also a dedicated correspondent, penning letters to his many friends and fans. Bogarde’s letters are filled with gossip and back-biting, sketches and scintillating tales of his life.

This first letter was written when Bogarde had finished work on Richard Attenborough’s A Bridge Too Far, with Sean Connery, Ryan O’Neil and Michael Caine, and was also re-dubbing his voice on Alain Resnais Providence.

Though Bogarde was a prolific writer, he could not spell (ahem…rather like Nigel Molesworth), and the following is presented as was written.

To Bee Gilbert, Clermont, 13 September, 1976

Dearest Sno’

What a lovely long letter to cheer me up on my return, three days ago, from a hellish week of looping in Paris. I got there to find that I had to loop the entire fucking film… 200 loops. The sound engineers were dreadful (from Telly natch) and the birds, dogs and airoplanes which scattered across the locations screwd us up even more. Well… it is done now. Am home again for a couple of weeks before returning to Old Father Attenboroughs Disney-Arnhem. Which I dread. Ah well. It will make a bomb, with all those Stars how can it fail? Adored Sean C and worked very happily indeed with him… and made a surprising new mate in Ryan O’Neil who could not be nicer, jollier and brighter! That WAS a surprise. Tote says it was because he was so bloody respectful to me all the time… but I just liked the bloke. And he’s good too. And THAT was a surprise. Gene Hackman was a bit Methody and got cross if the camera operator was on the set while he was rehearsing… but was very pleasant to me and quite good, not more, when it came to the Acting.

Mike Cain pulled the Movie Star bit a bit much… the big cigar, black glasses and fat Cadillac… but he was pleasant if dull and has to have the ugliest voice in the business… and pop eyes. And that was a surprise too. I dont think I could go through it again for anything. Even the lolly. A woman from The New York Times ruefully mumbled that doing something as crappy for so much loot left ‘a kind of stain.’ I wonder if she was right. Holland was hell. Apart from the van Goghs, Rembrants and the Vermeers it is all a lot of crappy horror… We stayed in a ‘dainty’ little hotel in a wood where dinner started at 6.30pm and was off at 8.45. THAT went down like a cup of cold sick as you may imagine. Especially as the prices were identicle to the Lancaster in Paris! However we had three weeks there and flew back on a beastly Caravelle, which bounced all the way to Nice…

We have had, unlike you, a soaking summer… everything green and lush… while the great trees in the Luxumbourg Gardens are all dead. And now Tote is out mowing acres of white daisies and autumn crocus and I think I’d better go and help him… regretfully. I am so lazy and full of reaction… odd.

God bless you, pretty Sno… all love as ever for ever… as you know.

Sno.

YoR

Dirk.

Bogarde did not have worry too much about his cinematic career, as the 1970s saw him working with Luchino Visconti on Death in Venice, Liliana Cavani on The NIght Porter, with Rainer Werner Fassbinder on Despair and Bertrand Tavernier’s Daddy Nostalgie.

In 1983, Bogarde’s partner Tony Forwood was diagnosed with Parkinson’s and cancer, which led the couple to leave France for England in 1987. Not long after their arrival Bogarde suffered a stroke, and the following year Forwood died. Bogarde was devastated, only his writing kept him from suicide. He maintained his various correspondences, including one to Penelope Mortimer, whom he had written to since 1971.

In this letter from 1991, Bogarde responds to Mortimer’s gentle cajoling, and gives a portrait of his life after Forwood’s death.

To Penelope Mortimer, Cadogan Gardens, 24 September, 1991

Bloody hell, you are difficult. I TOLD you that you would find my letter nausiating, people like you, those who see everything in dusk-tones, would. I AM a sort of Pollyanna… and after years of just keeping away from people on account of millions came to me to watch my cavorting, living a secluded life in my small-holding I suddenly got shoved into FULL LIFE with no protection and in a Foreign Land.

After a time of, shall we say reflection?, I decided that having had one stroke and not much liking the effects, I could very well have another, had to live in filthy UK… had to live in London… where better to be than where I started off at 16 as a Student at Chelsea Poly? Parents had been students there too. And the Slade. I felt ‘right’ in the area. Coming to terms was difficult. To terms with walking quite unprotected in streets jammed with curious people.

‘I think it is. Look!’
‘You ask him. Go on. He cant bite you?’
‘Were you Dirk Bogarde?’
‘Left France, have you?’
‘I remember your face but not the name? Humphry someone… ‘

I ducked into my anorak and tried to walk, as I told you, only at dusk or just when shops had opened. Fewer people. No standing with curious, autograph hunting, housewives in lines at the Check Outs. Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Waitrose were soon abandoned. People followed one.

‘He’s buying tinned tomatos.’
‘Thinner than I imagined.’
‘Smaller.’
‘And balding… see?’
‘Pity. But after 50, you know… ‘
‘Could you sign this? Not for me, for my neice, grandmother, wife, son, sister, baby-sitter, cousin Agnes, Eileen, with two e’s please, Anne with an “e”...’

No one, ever, in France behaved like this. Not even in Paris… unless they were British. I felt, all the time, as if my cock was hanging out of my pants: I hunched my shoulders, wore a Purdy cap, scuttled (as far as I could scuttle with a wonky leg) and my doctor thought that it might be ‘obesessional’. Might it? I’d never had an obsession before, save for lizards, frogs, birds, and those kinds of things. So I decided to either go mad or face up to it. I faced up to it. Took off the cap… walk INTO the Check out… smile at everyone because they SMILE at me! Memory jogs them… of some time in which I must have figured in their private lives somewhere… at any age from 10 to 70. My films are always on TV on Sunday. I am counted as a friend. OK. I’ll settle for that. It is far better than hiding in this flat wondering what to do, how to die gracefully.

RAGE. Yes. You make the error of thinking that RAGE has to be manifest, that one shouts and screams with what you call ‘fury’. Balls. RAGE is sometimes inside. Heard of a Rage To Live?

You react to one puny sentence in my letter about 50 years and body-bags on a too small stair-case. But RAGE did’nt remotely come NEAR the thing. Acceptance, humility, fear of ‘what now’, relief that three years of almost unendurable suspense, of desperate distress physically, of loss but relief that it was over. Knowing is so much better, I promise you, than wondering: and hope is pretty hollow when it leaves.

No sense of injustice. Helplessness, yes. To a point. But one is forced by distress and need to rally. No fury. At all. Why? It happens; we are born to die. When Anna, the Night Nurse, and I tried to turn the patient [Tony Forwood] he said, and I could only hear by putting my head against his chest and ‘took’ the vibrations, ‘If you did this to a dog they’d arrest you’. Right. He was being ‘jokey’. But he was right. Which is why I am now the Vice President of VES… and sticking my neck out against Catholics and British Manners and Members of the BMA. IN public. But no Rage. I had the most wonderous 50 years of my life. So did my partner. WE both knew that we’d have to pay. And did. OK?

I have come to terms with my life, I only have an active 10 years reasonably left. Christ! Why waste them? I have just written to Radio Drama. TV [sic] and refused, politely, their kind offer to write a play, or a series, for them. I have quoted the things I watched for homework. ‘Tittmuss’, House of Elliot, Trainer and some dire thing, they adored, which starred my (once) deeply respected Tom Courtney. Impossible to believe any of them. Lowest-Common-Watcher. I’d rather stay with my Telegraph Readers. At least they write back intelligently. I’m off to do a bit of Auschwitch again: then there is RAGE. Then, my love.
Will that do? Hope that you are not vexed that I shoved R. Fox the Handle? It’s only a nudge of course. But he’s bright, clever, and very sharp. Also his track record is amazing, and his wife is to die [for,] she is so adorable, tough, beautiful and can act! Wow!

Love

D.

Dirk Bogarde‘s letters are collected in the volume Ever, Dirk, edited by his biographer John Coldstream.
 
Previously on Dangerous Minds

Dirk Bogarde: Never screened on TV interview from 1975


Dirk Bogarde: Still Cool


 
HT to the Telegraph
 

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‘On the Road’: Jack Kerouac’s letter to his editor Malcolm Cowley goes on display

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Jack Kerouac wrote to his editor Malcolm Cowley, prior to the publication of On the Road.

Dear Mr Cowley

Only today April 19th got your month-old letter about why you couldn’t wait. Had just sent you a postcard saying BOO! - Please send the list of recommendations and I will start on it (the Denver section etc.) This address is a shack - I wanta bring my mother to California, I hope we can publish On the Road at last. - I’ve got all this time at last. - I’ve got all this time now to do the work, in this shack, till June when I’ll be completely out of touch 2 months in wilderness lookout job…so would appreciate speed.

As ever

Jack

p.s How’d you like GERARD?

BOO!

Jack

After years of struggling to find a publisher, Kerouac was keen to have On the Road published as quickly as possible. But he was also concerned over Cowley’s revisions and corrections to his long type-written manuscript, as he later explained in an interview for the Paris Review:

...All my editors since Malcolm Cowley have had instructions to leave my prose exactly as I wrote it. In the days of Malcolm Cowley, with On the Road and The Dharma Bums, I had no power to stand by my style for better or for worse. When Malcolm Cowley made endless revisions and inserted thousands of needless commas like, say, “Cheyenne, Wyoming” (why not just say “Cheyenne Wyoming” and let it go at that, for instance), why, I spent five hundred dollars making the complete restitution of the Bums manuscript and got a bill from Viking Press called “Revisions.”...

Kerouac’s letter is on display at The Newberry, in Chicago, until December 31st, which is celebrating 125 years as a “Research institution and center for the humanities”. Other items on show include the original printed (and never-bound) instantiation of Voltaire’s Candide; correspondence from a slave husband to his free wife; Joseph Whitehouse’s journal from the Lewis and Clark Expedition. More details here.
 
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Via The Newberry
 

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Nothing matches Blade Runner: Philip K. Dick gets excited about Ridley Scott’s film

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Philip K. Dick wrote an excited letter to Jeff Walker, at the Ladd Company, after watching a television preview of Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner, the film version of his novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

October 11, 1981

Mr. Jeff Walker,
The Ladd Company,
4000 Warner Boulevard,
Burbank,
Calif. 91522.

Dear Jeff,

I happened to see the Channel 7 TV program “Hooray For Hollywood” tonight with the segment on BLADE RUNNER. (Well, to be honest, I didn’t happen to see it; someone tipped me off that BLADE RUNNER was going to be a part of the show, and to be sure to watch.) Jeff, after looking—and especially after listening to Harrison Ford discuss the film—I came to the conclusion that this indeed is not science fiction; it is not fantasy; it is exactly what Harrison said: futurism. The impact of BLADE RUNNER is simply going to be overwhelming, both on the public and on creative people—and, I believe, on science fiction as a field. Since I have been writing and selling science fiction works for thirty years, this is a matter of some importance to me. In all candor I must say that our field has gradually and steadily been deteriorating for the last few years. Nothing that we have done, individually or collectively, matches BLADE RUNNER. This is not escapism; it is super realism, so gritty and detailed and authentic and goddam convincing that, well, after the segment I found my normal present-day “reality” pallid by comparison. What I am saying is that all of you collectively may have created a unique new form of graphic, artistic expression, never before seen. And, I think, BLADE RUNNER is going to revolutionize our conceptions of what science fiction is and, more, can be.

Let me sum it up this way. Science fiction has slowly and ineluctably settled into a monotonous death: it has become inbred, derivative, stale. Suddenly you people have come in, some of the greatest talents currently in existence, and now we have a new life, a new start. As for my own role in the BLADE RUNNER project, I can only say that I did not know that a work of mine or a set of ideas of mine could be escalated into such stunning dimensions. My life and creative work are justified and completed by BLADE RUNNER. Thank you..and it is going to be one hell of a commercial success. It will prove invincible.

Cordially,

Philip K. Dick

The tragedy is PKD never saw the finished version of the classic science fiction film, as he died 5 months later, on March 2, 1982, just months before Blade Runner was given its cinematic release.
 
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With thanks to Jai Bia
 

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Dear Me: Alan Cumming, Kathleen Turner and John Waters write to their 16-year-old selves
10.15.2011
02:38 pm

Topics:
Books

Tags:
John Waters
Alan Cumming
Letters
Kathleen Turner

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Stephen King warns his younger self not to do recreational drugs. Alice Cooper writes “Trashy girls are exciting for about five minutes…Keep your eye out for a good-lookin’ church girl. Then you’ll have the best of both worlds.” While Gillian Anderson says, “You are completely and utterly self obsessed. If you spent a quarter of your time thinking about others instead of how much you hate your thighs, your level of contentment and self worth would expand exponentially.”

These biographical snap-shots are from the book, Dear Me: More letters to my 16-year-old self. The Guardian has published a selection of these celebrity letters from which the following by Alan Cumming, Kathleen Turner and John Waters are taken.

Alan Cumming

Dear Alan,

First of all, you’re right. You’re right about who you think is wrong. You’re right to trust your instincts and to be your own person.

Second of all. slow down. Before you know it you’ll be away from home and you’ll be living your own life. Don’t waste energy trying to make time move faster, because it won’t until one day when you don’t want it to and you’ll wonder if all those nights spent longing for the future are now being paid back by making a beautiful present more fleeting. So please, if only for my karmic peace of mind, chill out about it, ok?

You’re going to be really, really happy one day and you’re going to have a life that is so far from your comprehension right now that I’m not even going to try to explain how it happens. I can hardly work it out for myself. You just have to go with the flow, Alan. Just let go and tumble through life. It will all be okay.

But it’s not a commercial. There are really shitty bits. You don’t even know it but right now there are things happening to you that are too painful to process and so, like the adults around you, you’re just not dealing with them, suppressing them, locking them up in a box in your mind. When you’re 28, that box is going to explode open and tear your life apart. Everything will change and there will be much pain and it will take you a long time to recover. But recover you will, and it will ultimately make you a better person, and those you love will benefit too.

You’re going to have lots of sex and you’re going to feel sexy. Don’t worry. Just try and remember that it’s better for you to feel sexy about yourself than for other people to tell you you are. It’s going to be okay.

In 1997 you’ll meet someone in New York at the party for the opening of ‘Titanic - the Musical’. Now, I am not one for regrets, Alan, and I truly believe that everything you experience between 16 and now all contributes to make you the really happy person that you become, so how could I wish any of it to be different? But, come on, the show is called ‘Titanic’, that should be an omen. Walk away from this person. You’ll never make them not be angry. Later on you’ll see a pattern of you trying to fix angry people and you’ll be able to break it, so do yourself a favour and walk away, let this one be the first. He will try to destroy you. He won’t, but he’ll try very hard.

You will love and be loved and be rich beyond your wildest dreams, and the best thing about this richness is that it has nothing to do with money. It’s all going to be okay.

A teacher at drama school is going to tell you that’ll you’ll never make it as a professional actor. He is wrong. Wrong to say it, and just wrong because you do okay. Try not to let it dent you too much.

You’re never going to have children, Alan. You’re going to try, in relationships with both women and men, but it doesn’t happen, and that’s okay too. Right now you have the happiest family anyone could wish for.

It really is all going to be okay. I’ll see you in 29 years. Enjoy it.

Alan x

 
More letters from Kathleen Turner and John Waters, after the jump…
 
Via the Guardian
 

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Postcards from J G Ballard

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Going through old correspondence, I came across a collection of cards and letters from a personal hero - J G Ballard.

It’s always amazed me that Ballard took the time to respond to my daft letters full questions and queries he must have answered innumerable times. It said much about Ballard’s great humility and character.

The first, dated April 27 1993, was written on a postcard of Carel Willink De Zeppelin, the blue ink (probably a Pentel pen) has faded somewhat, but still visible are his kind words and enthusiasm for a short story I’d sent him, which he over-praised as “a powerful + original piece of work”, and his explanation of the biographical elements of The Kindness of Women:

‘...which is about my writing as much as my life - my life seen through the spectrum of everything I’ve written.’

During the 10 years of our intermittent correspondence, Ballard was always kind, gracious, encouraging and helpful - an example we all can learn from.
 
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21/11/94

Dear Mr Gallagher,

Many thanks for your letter from LA - I think probably you should make the documentary about the city - I on the whole rather enjoyed the week i spent there some years ago - but then no one mugged me or shot at me on the freeway - part of the problem there have been too many films about LA on TV over the recent years.

Thanks for reading my stuff -

All the best,

J G Ballard

 
One more from Ballard, after the jump…
 

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‘Don’t do it for anyone else’: Keith Haring gives advice in rare letter
01.07.2011
08:29 am

Topics:
Art

Tags:
History
Pop Culture
Keith Haring
Letters

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An “ultra-rare hand-written” letter by artist Keith Haring came up for auction last year on gottahaverockandroll.com.

Written in 1987, the letter was addressed to a young artist seeking guidance on their chosen career. Haring gave the youngster sound advice:

Whatever you do, the only secret is to believe in it and satisfy yourself. Don’t do it for anyone else.

 
Via Letters of Note
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment