Elsie De Wolfe
Interior Designer
b.December 20, 1865
d.July 2, 1950

“I opened the doors and windows of America, and let in the air and sunshine.”

Elsie de Wolfe, later known as Lady Mendl, introduced the world to the art of interior design. She saw the home as a medium for self-expression.

The native New Yorker began her career as an actress before becoming a prominent figure in London and Parisian high society. After a decade in the theater, she shifted her creative energies to decorating. She started a business in 1905 and quickly landed her first big job: New York’s Colony Club, an exclusive new club for women.

As an interior designer, de Wolfe’s clients included Amy Vanderbilt, Cole Porter and the Duke and Duchess of Windsor. She helped set the style for the world’s elite, introducing a light color scheme and chintz fabrics at a time when dark wood and heavy Victorian curtains were in vogue. She also helped popularize animal prints, faux finishes and chaise longues. In her autobiography, “After All,” she called herself a “rebel in an ugly world,” saying, “I opened the doors and windows of America, and let in the air and sunshine.”

De Wolfe regularly wrote for popular magazines of the day, such as Good Housekeeping and The Delineator. Her articles were assembled into an influential book, “The House in Good Taste” (1913), which became a best seller.

During World War I, she volunteered as a nurse in France and was awarded the Croix de Guerre for her heroism.

In 1926 at the age of 61, de Wolfe surprised many when she married Sir Charles Mendl, a British diplomat in Paris. Since 1892 de Wolfe had been living openly in a lesbian relationship with Elisabeth Marbury—a successful theatrical and literary agent, who became one of the first female Broadway producers. The women remained together until Marbury’s death in 1933.

Angelina Jolie
Actress
b.June 4, 1975

“I always play women I would date.”

Angelina Jolie is an Academy Award-winning actress whose films include “Girl, Interrupted,” “Changeling” and “Maleficent.” She is among the highest-paid actresses in Hollywood, having cemented her international success portraying such perse characters as a video game heroine in the “Lara Croft: Tomb Raider” franchise and an HIV-positive supermodel in “Gia.” She made her directorial debut with the “Land of Blood and Honey,” a drama set during the Bosnian war. She also wrote and produced the film.

Jolie’s role in the 2003 film “Beyond Borders,” reflects her personal interest in humanitarian work. She made the largest-ever private donation to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in 2001. She has since spent her own money and time visiting war-torn communities and bringing attention to international trouble spots.

Jolie has served as a UNHCR goodwill ambassador for over a decade and was promoted to the rank of special envoy in 2012. She has been involved in dozens of field missions around the world, meeting with refugees and advocating on their behalf.

Jolie also lobbies against violence and poverty under the Jolie-Pitt Foundation, an umbrella organization she and her husband, Brad Pitt, founded in 2006. In 2003 she became the first person to be honored with the Citizen of the World Award from the United Nations Correspondents Association.

In 1996 Jolie had a relationship with the lesbian model and actress Jenny Shimizu on the set of “Foxfire.” Jolie said, “I would probably have married Jenny if I hadn’t married my husband.”

In 2003, when Jolie was asked if she was bisexual, she responded, “Of course. If I fell in love with a woman tomorrow, would I feel that it’s okay to want to kiss and touch her? If I fell in love with her? Absolutely! Yes!”

Jolie and Pitt have six children.

Arthur Dong
Filmmaker
b.October 30, 1953

“If I can encourage adjustments or a wider sphere of thoughts or questioning, then I will feel that I’ve done something.”

Arthur Dong is an Academy Award-nominated documentary filmmaker best known for chronicling Asian-American history and LGBT life. He earned an Oscar nomination in 1984 for “Sewing Woman,” about his mother’s immigration to America from China, which he produced as film student at San Francisco State University. As a result of the film’s success, he founded DeepFocus Productions to produce, direct and write projects close to his heart.

“Stories from the War on Homosexuality” (2005), Dong’s first DVD collection, features a trilogy of films focused on gay issues, including “Coming Out Under Fire” (1994), his Peabody Award-winning documentary about policies impacting gay and lesbian service members; “Licensed to Kill” (1997), a study of convicted murderers of gay men; and “Family Fundamentals” (2002), a look at conservative Christian families with gay children.

Dong’s 2007 documentary “Hollywood Chinese” was featured on the PBS series “American Masters” in 2009. The film is included in his second DVD collection, “Stories from Chinese America,” which was released in 2010.

In the early 1990s, Dong produced 13 documentaries on San Francisco’s KCET-TV’s “Life & Times,” including the first PBS series about gay issues: “The Question of Equality.” He also directed “Out Rage ’69,” about New York’s famous Stonewall Riots—the uprisings that helped galvanize the modern LGBT civil rights movement.

Along with other recognition, Dong has received three Sundance Film Festival Awards and five Emmy nominations. He has also received two GLAAD Media Awards and the OUT 100 Award for his work on “Licensed to Kill.”

In 2014 Dong turned his research for the film “Forbidden City, USA: Chinese American Nightclubs, 1936-1970” into a book, which recieved the 2015 American Book Award.


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