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December 2

Compiled and Written by Irene Stuber
who is solely responsible for its content.
This document has been taken from emailed versions
of Women of Achievement. The complete episode
will be published here in the future.

MARIA! La Divina!

Colleges for Women


QUOTES by Deborah Powell and Frank B. Goodrich.

Maria Callas

      She refused to hire an agent. "Nobody is going to own 10, 20, or 30 percent of me." Life magazine wrote of her: "Her special greatness has been achieved in the long-forgotten museum pieces which (she had) taken out of mothballs only because at long last there was a soprano who could sing them."
      Another said, "Her force of personality, dramatic conviction sweeps the performance along."
      The soprano legend Maria Callas was born Dec. 02, 1923, and through the magic of audio recordings, her once superb voice that vibrated with emotion like no other before or since will never die. Her powerful will in searching for strong women roles (that reflected herself) resulted in a number of older, discarded operas being revived, including her showpiece Norma.
      American-born of Greek descent, she was refused a contract with the Metropolitan Opera Company in 1945 because she weighed 210 pounds. She went to Italy and became "MARIA! La Divina!," one of the most revered opera singers of memory. Finally she debuted at the New Lyric Theatre in Chicago, 1954, and opened the Metropolitan's 1956-57 season in an ubelievable triumph.
      Harold C. Schonber, noted music critic wrote: "...for some 15 years after 1947 she was a symbol fired into the very psyche of the opera goer. It was an amazing career, and never did a singer have so faithful a body of admirers. Callas-worship knew no limits. She drove her audiences wild; she had a kind of electrical transmission that very few musicians have ever approached... Callas dead at 53, blazed through the skies and was burned out very early. But what years those were!"
      On CDs, on tapes, and on the precious LPs of so many millions of opera lovers, Callas lives...

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Women's Colleges

      Holyoke College opened in 1837, as the FIRST women's college in the United States to offer comparable, formal education to women. Other major women's colleges that set the stage for women's universal college education were Vassar founded in 1865, Smith in 1872, Wellesley in 1875, Bryn Mawr in 1886.
      By 1880, 153 American college were opened to women... a change of one to 153 in just 43 years!
      In just 43 years - 5,000 years of institutionalized prejudice against women's learning crumbled - but the battle for equality in the front of the classroom, not only in the seats continues.

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Event 12-02-1777: Was the United States saved by Lydia Barrinton Darragh's listening at a keyhole? Tradition has it LBD listened through a keyhole to the British leaders discussing an attack against Washington's army when her father's home was occupied by the British. LBD claimed to need supplies and raced to the American army's location at Whitemarsh to alert Washington so that when the British launched its attack, Washington and his men were ready. Without LBD's information the American army, instead of forcing the British troops back to Philadelphia, would have faced almost total destruction. How much is fact and how much true? How much was censored because it was a woman's doing and never properly recorded in HIStories.

B. 12-02-1884, Ruth Draper, actor whose dramatic monologues over a 40 year span garnered an unsurpassed international reputation. RD toured regularly in Europe as well as Asia and South America and Africa. She always acted by herself and used only material she had written, using "sets" that consisted of various shawls she used as costumes and a table or chairs.

B. 12-02-1886, Josephine Roche, director National Consumers League and industrialist. When a child, her father forbade her from going to the family coal mines because it was too dangerous. She then asked the question that labor union organizers used so effectively later on: "Then why is it safe enough for the miners?"

B. 12-02-1894, Bess Furman, journalist with the New York Times and the Associated Press, noted for her reportage of Eleanor Roosevelt.

Event 12-02-1922, equal pay to men and women for the same work became a fact in the Government Printing Office.

B. 12-02-1923, Maria Callas, American-born opera singer with a strong sense of theater and presence. Her vocal ability ranged from Wagnerian dramatic roles to bel canto. Instrumental in reviving a number of older operas with strong female roles, including Norma.

B. 12-02-1925, Julie Harris, renowned actor of stage and screen, winner of numerous awards and awes. Her mother was a nurse.

Event 12-02-1939, breaking with all traditions, Thomas Dewey names Ruth Hanna McCormick Simms as co-manager of his ill-fated presidential campaign. Hanna-McCormick-Simms, daughter of the powerful Hanna family, was recognized as one of the shrewdest politicians of her day, but her candidate came across as wooden and Truman gave 'em hell.

Event 12-02-1988, Benazir Bhutto, becomes the premier of Pakistan and the first woman to ever head an Islamic country.

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      "I have a three inch tall bulldyke that lives on my shoulder. She wears a little red tuxedo with sensible shoes, and has a tail and horns. She also carries a pool cue that she jabs me with when she wants me to respond to something I would really rather ignore. She whispers things for me to say and I open my mouth and out they come... she jabbed, my mouth opened...
      " 'And don't you ever lay another finger on me as long as you live or I'll kick you in the (testicles) so hard you'll be wearing them for little pink earrings."
            -- Powell, Deborah. Bayou City Secrets. Tallahassee: Naiad Press, 1991.

      "Nature gave me the form of a woman - my actions have raised me to the level of the most valiant of men."
            -- Semiramis, 8th Century BC, from Women in Beauty and Heroism by Frank B. Goodrich

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