McClendon was born in Bakersfield, CA on October 12, 1923, and lived the early years of his life in Southern California. He attended schools in Long Beach and later earned a BA from UCLA. He worked as an apprentice set designer at MGM and as a dancer with the Marie Bryant dance troupe before opening his shop, Chequer, in New York in 1954. He quickly became an early and influential force in boutique retailing, before the word boutique was in general usage. His shop, at the corner of Third Avenue and 50th, Street specialized in uclothes of his own design for men and women, furniture, and art objects, and he travelled widely to acquire raw materials and finished goods, including ethnic textiles and folk art from Japan, Indonesia, Mexico and elsewhere. The shop was an immediate success, notable for McClendon's special "eye" for the beautiful and unusual, and he counted Greta Garbo and many of the trend-setters of New York among his regular customers. The shop also inspired several imitators.
He spent time living in Haiti and in Mexico as well as in New York, and he eventually opened Chequer West in West Hollywood, frequented like his New York shop by theater, movie and entertainment people, and designers and costumiers. The uniqueness of his inventory and the fine workmanship of his hand-made clothing quickly attracted an all-star clientele like Barbara Streisand, Candace Bergen and the ballerina Nora Kaye.
Christopher Isherwood met McClendon through Denny Fouts and John Goodwin in the 1940s when McClendon often visited the beach in Santa Monica. The friendship continued long after McClendon left Los Angeles in the early 1950s. McClendon retired in 1986 and moved to Pojoaque where he continued as an anonymous supporter of the arts. He moved to Puerto Vallarta in January 2008 to spend his last months by the Pacific Ocean he loved.
A resident of Pojoaque/Nambe since 1986, he died of natural causes on July 16, 2008, in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. (http://www.thefreelibrary.com/FUNERAL+SERVICES+AND+MEMORIALS.-a0187709919)
Carlos McClendon, 1947, by George Platt-Lynes
Carlos McClendon, 1947, by George Platt-Lynes
Richard "Dick" Keate (b. 1922) was an American pilot and furniture designer. Keate flew B-17s for the air force during World War II and afterwards became a flying instructor in northern California. From there he often visited Santa Monica Canyon and sometimes took trips with Isherwood and Carlos McClendon to Johnny Goodwin's ranch and to the bullfights in Tijuana.
In the late 1940s he was a pilot for Air Services of India (now Air India) and lived in India. When he returned to California, he attended the American School of Dance on the GI Bill and worked as a dancer.
In 1956 he moved to New York, planning to take up acting, but instead studied Flamenco guitar; his studies took him to Spain where he became interested in furniture, and he began to import Spanish furniture to New York and then to design and manufacture his own furniture. He opened a shop, Casa Castellana, in Greenwich Village in 1964 and was successful for many years.
Tito Renaldo was a Mexican actor. He played the first son in Anna and the King of Siam (1946).
He was known as an exceptional cook at the Vedanta Center, which he joined and left five times. During the late 1950s and 1960s, he worked for a time in Carlos McClendon's shop in West Hollywood. Afterwards, in the 1970s, Renaldo returned in frail health to his family in northern Mexico and fell out of touch with his Los Angeles friends. He is often mentioned in Isherwood's Diaries.
Lost Years: A Memoir 1945 - 1951 by Christopher Isherwood
Hardcover: 432 pages
Publisher: HarperCollins; First Edition edition (September 5, 2000)
Amazon: Lost Years: A Memoir 1945 - 1951
The English writer Christopher Isherwood settled in California in 1939 and spent the war years working in Hollywood film studios, teaching English to European refugees, and converting to Hinduism. By the time the war ended, he realized he was not cut out to be a monk. With his self-imposed wartime vigil behind him, he careened into a life of frantic socializing, increasing dissipation, anxiety, and, eventually, despair. For nearly a half decade he all but ceased to write fiction and even abandoned his lifelong habit of keeping a diary.
This is Isherwood's own account, reconstructed from datebooks, letters, and memory nearly thirty years later, of his experience during those missing years: his activities in Santa Monica, and also in New York and London, just after the war. Begun in 1971, in a postsixties atmosphere of liberation, Lost Years includes explicit details of his romantic and sexual relationships during the 1940s and unveils a hidden and sometimes shocking way of life shared with friends and acquaintances--many of whom were well-known artists, actors, and film-makers. Not until the 1951 Broadway success of I Am a Camera, adapted from his Berlin stories, did Isherwood begin to reclaim control of his talents and of his future.
Isherwood never prepared Lost years for publication because he rapidly became caught up in writing the book that established him as a hero of gay liberation, Christopher and His Kind.
With unpolished directness, and with insight and wit, Lost Years shows how Isherwood developed his private recollections into the unique mixture of personal mythology and social history that characterizes much of his best work. This surprising and important memoir also highlights his determination to track down even the most elusive and unappealing aspects of his past in order to understand and honestly portray himself, both as a writer and as a human being.
Naked Men by David Leddick
Hardcover: 128 pages
Publisher: Little Brown Company; First Edition edition (June 18, 1998)
Amazon: Naked Men
This volume documents a moment in the history of American culture - a period in the 1930s, 40s and 50s that gave birth to a new notion of male beauty and desire, and to a new type of male icon. Long before Stonewall and the gay pride movement, a small group of daring men - photographers and the models who sat for them - helped pave the way for male sexual liberation. Led by photographer George Platt Lynes, and featuring men such as Jean Marais, Yul Brynner, Paul Cadmus and Tennessee Williams, the group - straight men as well as gay - shattered taboos surrounding the artistic representations of the male figure. The influence of their work continues today, and can be seen in the work of modern artists including Bruce Weber, Herb Ritts and Robert Mapplethorpe.
George Platt Lynes: The Male Nudes by Steven Haas
Hardcover: 256 pages
Publisher: Rizzoli; First Edition edition (May 3, 2011)
Amazon: George Platt Lynes: The Male Nudes
The elegant male nude photographs of George Platt Lynes, many never before published, from a newly discovered archive of negatives. George Platt Lynes was the preeminent celebrity portraitist of his day, shooting for Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar and creating distinctive photographs of iconic cultural figures such as Diana Vreeland, Salvador Dalí, and Orson Welles. But he also produced a separate body of work, kept largely hidden during his lifetime: photographs of the male nude. Many of these photos were shot in the studio and, like his fashion and dance work, were painstakingly posed and lit. They have a cinematic allure that evokes 1940s Hollywood and the lost era of New York’s café society. Many seem to illustrate some unwritten mythology. Others reveal private obsessions of the photographer, who was always alert to the sculptural qualities of a young man at his most vital. This is the only Platt Lynes book to focus on the male nude images in a comprehensive and carefully considered manner. It is the first book to be published with the cooperation of the artist’s estate, which has provided unprecedented access to institutional and private collections, including the Kinsey Institute and the Guggenheim Museum. The result: a trove of unpublished images that are sure to cause a sensation.
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