Welcome to AMERICAN MOSAIC in VOA Special English.
I'm Doug Johnson.
listen to music from Lucinda Williams …
a listener question about actor Marlon Brando …
first, we remember the popular writer Michael Crichton, who died last week.
Michael Crichton wrote exciting and intense books that
explored the moral and political sides of science and technology. His
best-selling books included "The Andromeda Strain", "Congo" "Jurassic Park" and "Rising Sun." Many of his
books were made into popular movies. Mister Crichton died last week of cancer
at the age of sixty-six. Bob Doughty tells us more about his life and
Michael Crichton was born in nineteen forty-two in
Chicago, Illinois and grew up in the Long Island area of New York. He studied
English at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, but later changed
his degree to anthropology. In nineteen sixty-six, he began medical school at
help pay for his studies, Crichton began writing novels. In nineteen sixty-nine
he wrote "The Andromeda Strain." It is about a group of scientists who try to
stop the spread of a deadly organism from space. The book became a huge
best-seller and was made into a movie. Mister Crichton soon gave up his medical
career to spend more time writing.
published "The Terminal Man" in nineteen seventy-two. It tells about a man who
has a computer device put into his brain to improve a mental disorder. But the
man becomes a killing machine when the technology fails. In Mister Crichton's
book "Congo", violent gorillas attack a group of explorers trying to find a
special kind of diamond that could change modern technology.
Crichton's most famous book was "Jurassic Park," published in nineteen ninety. It is about scientists who create genetic
copies of dinosaurs. But the dinosaurs soon take control of their creators. The
film version three years later was also a huge success.
Crichton's books have sold more than one hundred fifty million copies. But he
had his critics as well. Some critics thought his books had weak characters and
were written to be movies, not literature. Critics attacked Mister Crichton as
racist for his description of Japanese businessmen in the book "Rising Sun." Others denounced Crichton's book "State of
Fear" about evil environmentalists who create fear about the existence and
cause of climate change.
Crichton was also involved in movies and television. He directed many of the movies based on his
books. He even helped create the popular
television show "E.R." about an emergency room in a busy hospital. Mister
Crichton combined his knowledge of science, technology, and medicine to bring
exciting entertainment to millions of people around the world.
listener question this week comes from France. Claude wants to know about the
life of famed American actor Marlon Brando.
MARLON BRANDO: "You don't
understand. I coulda had class. I coulda been a contender. I coulda been somebody, instead of a bum
which is what I am, let's face it."
That was Marlon Brando playing a former boxer in the nineteen fifty-four movie
"On the Waterfront." Marlon
Brando was somebody, of course. Many
critics say he was the greatest actor of all time. And many actors say Brando influenced them
more than any other person in the movie industry.
Brando was born in Omaha, Nebraska, in nineteen twenty-four. His mother was an
actress. His father was a salesman. His
childhood was not happy. In a book about
his life, Brando wrote that both his parents were dependent on alcohol. He
wrote that his father never said anything good about his son.
Brando linked his interest in acting to the painful years of his
childhood. He said a child who feels
unaccepted by his parents will search for a different identity that will be
When he was nineteen, Brando moved to New York
City. He studied acting and learned what
is called the "method" style of realistic acting. In nineteen forty-seven, he
became a Broadway star with his famous performance as Stanley Kowalski in
Tennessee Williams' play, "A Streetcar Named Desire."
fame grew in nineteen fifty-one when he acted the same part in the film version
of "A Streetcar Named Desire." Brando
acted in more than forty movies. He won
two Academy Awards for Best Actor. One
was for his work in "On the Waterfront."
The other was for playing Vito Corleone, the powerful head of a criminal
organization in "The Godfather" in nineteen seventy-two. He was nominated for five other Academy
actor was active in the civil rights movement and protested the way Native
Americans were represented in movies.
Marlon Brando was a private man but he did not lead a
quiet or easy life. He was married three
times. He had at least seven children.
Brando dealt with several tragedies. One
of his sons was sent to prison for killing a man. Brando's daughter, Cheyenne,
killed herself in nineteen-ninety-five.
Brando died in two thousand four, at the age of eighty. To learn more about this famous actor, listen
to the Special English program People in America this Sunday, November
Lucinda Williams has been recording music for over
thirty years. This musician from Louisiana is known for her country songs
influenced by blues music. Her songs express the dark and moody side of love.
But her latest album, "Little Honey," has a happier message. Critics say this
is her most joyful album yet. Barbara Klein has more.
was the song "Honey Bee." It is one of several songs on the album "Little
Honey" that tells about the happiness of being in love. The songs were
influenced by Lucinda Williams' future husband and current manager, Tom Overby.
says she can grow as a songwriter now that she has finally found the right
relationship. She says that personally,
professionally, and creatively she is in the best place she has ever been in
her adult life.
is the song "Jailhouse Tears" which Williams sings with the musician Elvis Costello.
Williams says conditions have to be perfect for her to write songs. She needs
to be alone with her guitar with room to spread out her notes about song ideas.
She says her father, the poet Miller Williams, had a big influence teaching her
about artistic expression. She says she grew up economically poor, but
Williams says one thing that the songs on her new album have in common is that
they are direct. She says the beauty of country and blues music is expressing
ideas in a simple and direct way. We leave you with "Real Love."
I'm Doug Johnson. I hope you enjoyed our program today.
It was written by Caty Weaver and Dana Demange, who was
also our producer. To read the text of this program and download audio, go to
our Web site, voaspecialenglish.com.
us again next week for AMERICAN MOSAIC, VOA's radio magazine in Special