Thursday, December 30, 2010

Legendary Legendre

The last time I wrote a “Hey, this person is noteworthy!” post, I took quite a few paragraphs to convey the horrifying that wonderment that is Gilles de Rais. (For those keeping score, he’s 90 percent heinousness, five percent jaw-dropping opulence, and another five percent wackadoo nonsense.) Today, I’m telling you about Gertrude Sanford Legendre, someone whose awesomeness can be related with five sentences and one image.

Two sentences are the ones that lead off her Wikipedia entry: “Gertrude Sanford Legendre (1902–2000) was an American socialite who served as a spy during World War II. She was also a noted explorer, big-game hunter, environmentalist, and owner of Medway plantation in South Carolina.”

The remaining sentences are the concluding ones of her Wikipedia entry: “Katharine Hepburn’s character of Linda Seton in the 1938 version of Holiday was loosely based on [Legendre]. She lived to be 97 and wrote two autobiographies, one in 1948 and another in 1987. Regarding the trajectory of her life, she once said, ‘I don’t contemplate life. I live it.’”

And finally the image: a painting of her by William Orpen that makes her look pretty goddamn boss. There’s no other way to put it.

Gerty, if my 2011 is only half as interesting as any given moment in your life must have been, I’ll be doing well.

EDIT: I stand corrected. There is another way to describe the painting: It looks like a Clue suspect card, especially when considered alongside her bio.

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