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20 Fastidious Facts About BBC’s Pride and Prejudice

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Though Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice has been beloved for more than 200 years (it was originally published in 1813), part of its current legacy—and one very famous image of a sopping wet Mr. Darcy—can be attributed to the BBC’s 1995 miniseries starring Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth. Here are 20 things you might not have known about the iconic period piece, which launched the career of Colin Firth—and popularized a very specific type of not-so-proper erotica.

1. THE BBC DIDN’T SEE COLIN FIRTH AS MR. DARCY.

Though producer Sue Birtwistle, who had worked with Firth on 1985’s Dutch Girls, was pushing him for the lead, not everyone was convinced. In 2013, Birtwistle recalled how BBC executive Alan Yentob “rang me when I was driving in a snowstorm to tell me that Firth was not good-looking enough as Darcy.” Meanwhile, writer Andrew Davies told the Sunday Times that he “was doubtful about [Firth] because of his gingerish hair and Mr. Darcy with that color hair would not have been right. So, to be honest, I never saw him as a Darcy.”

2. FIRTH DIDN’T SEE HIMSELF IN THE ROLE EITHER, AND NEARLY PASSED ON IT.

Though it’s the role that made him famous, Colin Firth almost said no to playing Mr. Darcy. While speaking at the British Academy of Film and Television Arts in 2010, Firth admitted that he didn’t think he was right for the role. “I couldn’t see there was anything to play because the character doesn’t speak most of the time,” Firth said. “I thought this is just a guy who stands around for hours driving people to despair.”

"I didn't have the slightest clue on earth [who] Darcy was,” Firth said in another interview. “I hadn't read any Jane Austen at all, chiefly because when her novels were offered as potential coursework at school, I thought they'd be rather, well, sissy. And I certainly never dreamed of lifting an Austen off the library shelves or at a bookstall ... I had this prejudice that [the novel] would probably be girls' stuff. I had never realized that Darcy was such a famous figure in literature. [But whenever I mentioned the script,] everyone would tell me how they were devoted to this book, how at school they had been in love with Darcy.” (According to The Making of Pride and Prejudice, even Firth’s aunt begged him to turn down the role, so that he wouldn’t ruin the romantic image of Darcy she had held since her school days.)

3. AFTER READING FIVE PAGES OF THE SCRIPT, FIRTH WAS HOOKED.

Ultimately, it was Andrew Davies’s script that sold Firth on signing on the dotted line. "I think I was only about five pages into [the script] when I was hooked,” Firth recalled. “It was remarkable. I don't think any script has fired me up quite as much, just in the most basic, romantic-story terms ... I knew I had to listen to the voice inside me which said, 'You enjoyed this. It's the only script you've been able to read for long time.’ I had to take that seriously ... I knew that I wanted to be involved. I realized in the end that if anyone else played the part, I’d be extremely envious of them.”

4. THE SCREENWRITER WAS THE PRODUCER’S FORMER TEACHER.

Birtwistle first read Pride and Prejudice as a teenager, and once estimated that she had read it “at least 150 times since then,” and had long wanted to adapt it to the screen. She found a kindred spirit in Andrew Davies when the two met at England’s Coventry College, where Davies was Birtwistle’s English teacher during her freshman year. “I well recall Sue's entrepreneurial flair,” Davies said. “Even in those days she was already very much a producer ... We had similar ideas about how Pride and Prejudice should be approached when we talked about it—it's just that we seem to have taken a bit of time getting round to it! It was always my ambition when I was a lecturer that my pupils would eventually get powerful positions and be able to employ me in my old age. But Sue seems to have been the only one that's managed to do it!"

5. ANDREW DAVIES’S APPROACH TO AUSTEN’S WORK WAS CONSIDERED RATHER UNIQUE.

Some would describe Davies's version of Pride and Prejudice, which Simon Langton directed, as a bit steamier than previous adaptations, which was a very intentional decision on Davies’s part. “People have probably always noticed the erotic subtext of Austen’s works,” Sarah Raff, a professor of literature at Pomona College and the author of Jane Austen’s Erotic Advice, told The Atlantic. She said that Davies’s miniseries managed to stay true to the text and spirit of Austen’s novel, but also created a version of that story that was “directly relevant to [viewers’] own erotic lives.”

6. THE MINISERIES’ MOST FAMOUS SCENE WAS NOT IN THE NOVEL.

Though the entire series is 327 minutes long, a less-than-four-minute scene remains the series’ most iconic. You know the one we’re talking about: the scene in which Darcy takes advantage of a beautiful summer day and a body of water to go for a quick swim, which leaves him—and his white shirt—dripping wet. The scene was one of Davies’s own invention, and wasn’t meant to be suggestive.

“When women started pinning Colin’s picture on their walls, it was a puzzle and a surprise,” Davies told the BBC, “because I just thought it was a funny scene. It was about Darcy being a bloke, diving in his lake on a hot day, not having to be polite—and then he suddenly finds himself in a situation where he does have to be polite. So you have two people having a stilted conversation and politely ignoring the fact that one of them is soaking wet. I never thought it was supposed to be a sexy scene in any way.”

The Guardian later declared it “one of the most unforgettable moments in British TV history.”

7. THE ORIGINAL SCRIPT CALLED FOR DARCY TO TAKE THAT SWIM WITH NO SHIRT AT ALL (OR ANYTHING ELSE).

In a 2000 interview with The Guardian, Firth revealed that the innocent little swim was supposed to involve a bit of nudity. “Originally I was supposed to take all my clothes off and jump into the pool naked,” Firth said. “The moment where the man ... is a man. Instead of a stuffed shirt. He's riding on a sweaty horse, and then he's at one with the elements. But the BBC wasn't going to allow nudity, so an alternative had to be found.”

Several meetings were held about how to make the scene work. “The alternative,” according to Firth, “went via underpants, which, actually, were not historical. He would never have worn underpants. They would have looked ridiculous anyway.” So, Firth said, “If you can't take them all off, just jump in.”

8. THAT WHITE SHIRT HAS MADE THE ROUNDS.

Last summer, the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C. put Mr. Darcy’s white shirt on display as part of an exhibition, “Will & Jane: Shakespeare, Austen, and the Cult of Celebrity,” which ended in November. Labeled simply as “The Shirt,” Janine Barchas, a University of Texas English professor who co-curated the show, told The New York Times that, “The shirt seemed like a celebrity object that demonstrated the kind of fun that people have with Austen as an author. It exemplifies the kind of play that is central to our whole exhibition.”

9. JANE’S MOM WAS ALSO JANE.

Susannah Harker, who played Jane Bennet, is the daughter of actress Polly Adams, who played Jane in the BBC’s 1967 version of Pride and Prejudice. "That's an amazing coincidence, don't you think?,” Harker said. “Of course, we talked about it, and she told me how she played Jane all those years back in the sixties. But I didn't dig out any archive tape or film or anything. I wanted to play it for myself.”

10. IN SOME WAYS, DAVIES’S SCRIPT HAS REPLACED AUSTEN’S ORIGINAL TEXT.

In the years since the miniseries’ release, many people have referenced scenes and dialogue in Davies’s script as if it came from Austen’s novel. “It’s almost usurped the original novel in the minds of the public,” Deborah Cartmell, a professor at De Montfort University and the author of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice: The Relationship Between Text and Screen, told the BBC. “Since it came out, every cultural reference to Jane Austen, and every adaptation, has had as much to do with Andrew Davies as it does to Austen … I’ve taught the lake scene so many times, and when my students read the novel for the first time they are absolutely shocked that that scene isn’t in it.”

11. MILITARY PLANES WERE A REGULAR THREAT TO FILMING.

Unlike many of its predecessors, which chose to shoot in a studio, Pride and Prejudice made use of the many grand locations that England offered the filmmakers; Lyme Park played the role of Pemberley, for example, while Luckington Court was used for Longbourn. As it turns out, many of the locations they chose were located close to military bases, which meant that planes in the sky were a regular occurrence, and reason for Langton to call cut. "I'm delighted that [our actors were happy] and I always believe that you get the very best from your cast and crew when everyone is relaxed,” Langton said. “But every director will tell you that when you're working on a major project like this, every single morning you wake up and wonder what the hazards are going to be. Is it going to be rain, will the sun shine for you? Has anyone got a cold or the flu? And when we were making Pride and Prejudice, were the RAF going to do a close formation exercise-bombing raid right over the top of us just as Elizabeth Bennet has something important to say to Darcy? The locations we used were absolutely stunning, but fate decreed that the main ones were almost invariably near the RAF or NATO base, and we had to do a bit of persuading of the various commanders that they wouldn't overfly at certain times and places.”

12. THE PRODUCTION OPERATED MORE LIKE A STAGE PRODUCTION.

Alison Steadman, who played Mrs. Bennet, said that making Pride and Prejudice “really was an acting challenge. Just one of the reasons is because the language is structured completely differently to the way we talk now. We had to be very careful to get everything precisely right. Now normally when I'd do a television piece, I find that it's okay for me to learn the lines the night before shooting, and then polish them on the way to the studio or the location in the taxi. But not with this. It was far more like working for the stage—learning a lot in advance. It’s been a very good discipline for me, and a challenge—which I enjoy."

13. PART OF ITS SUCCESS IS ATTRIBUTED TO ITS PACING.

Today, anyone can binge-watch all of Pride and Prejudice in one sitting. But when it originally aired, both in England and in America, the series ran one episode per week for six weeks, and long before BBC On Demand was a thing. Professor Kathryn Sutherland, author of Jane Austen’s Textual Lives: from Aeschylus to Bollywood, believes the waiting period only added to the miniseries’ popularity, as did its cinematic sensibility. “It has the same qualities that we associate with the big-screen Austen adaptations of the time, Ang Lee’s Sense and Sensibility and Douglas McGrath’s Emma, with Gwyneth Paltrow,” Sutherland told the BBC. “Like them, it has moving cameras, quick cuts, open landscapes, and the emotional intensity of a strong musical score. But because it was broadcast over six weeks, it could keep us waiting for the happy ending, so there was a cumulative excitement and a public participation in it that you can’t get from a two-hour film.”

14. FIRTH WAS FILMING THE ENGLISH PATIENT WHEN THE SERIES AIRED, BUT HIS MOM KEPT HIM APPRISED OF THE REACTION.

Firth didn’t get the chance to witness England’s reaction to Pride and Prejudice firsthand, as he was off shooting The English Patient when the series aired. Fortunately, his mom was watching—and reporting back. “I thought my mum was having me on,” Firth said. “She would ring me up every so often and say, '[Pride and Prejudice] is popular. People like it.' Then she'd ring again and say, 'Actually, they're going a bit mad about it.' Then, 'This seems to be getting out of control.' My initial reaction was, 'Yeah, right, Mum.'”

15. FIRTH AND EHLE’S RELATIONSHIP TURNED ROMANTIC OFF-SCREEN, TOO—WHICH PROVED A BIT CHALLENGING.

Like their onscreen characters, Firth and Ehle developed romantic feelings toward each other off-screen, too. The couple dated for about a year, and Firth said that dating his onscreen love interest actually proved to be a bit of a challenge. “I actually find that if you're involved with an actress that you're having to tell a love story with, it's more difficult,” Firth told the Independent. “I don't find it easy to draw on it. Your relationship, your feelings aren't the same as those of the characters. She's not that person. And you're not telling your own story. So I think you have to put all your own stuff aside completely and reconceive your relationship as other people. So I think it stands in the way, to be honest."

16. NEARLY HALF OF ENGLAND TUNED IN TO WATCH THE FINAL EPISODE.

Throughout its original broadcast in England in the fall of 1995, Pride and Prejudice was a huge hit, averaging between 10 and 11 million viewers per episode. For the final episode, approximately 40 percent of England tuned in to watch.

17. IT LED TO AN UPTICK IN JANE AUSTEN EROTICA.

Though Pride and Prejudice didn’t invent the literary subgenre, an increase in the number of people writing Jane Austen-themed erotica was noticed following the miniseries’ release, according to The New York Times. With titles like Spank Me, Mr. Darcy; Pride and Penetration; and Seducing Mr. Darcy, these literary contributions clearly aren’t the work of Austen. ''That broadcast brought a lot of obsessives out of the woodwork,'' Myretta Robens, co-founder of The Republic of Pemberley fan site, told The New York Times.

18. WHEN MATTHEW RHYS PLAYED DARCY IN DEATH COMES TO PEMBERLEY, HE JUST COPIED FIRTH.

In 2013, the BBC debuted Death Comes to Pemberley, a sequel to Pride and Prejudice based on P. D. James’s novel. The big question on everyone’s mind, of course, was who would play Mr. Darcy. Eventually, the role went to The Americans star Matthew Rhys, who knew that there was nothing he could do to erase the image of Firth from viewers’ mind—so he just went with it.

“It is a double-whammy,” Rhys told The Big Issue. “Not only can you upset all those Austen fans with very firm ideas about Darcy, but you also have Colin Firth, who concreted the idea of Darcy in the national psyche. You mention Darcy and picture Colin Firth. It is instant. Even my dad said, ‘Oh, are you paying the Colin Firth character?’ As much as you want to be, you are not coming at a blank canvas. I didn’t want to change him just for the sake of it, so what am I supposed to do? Nothing. I just watched Colin Firth and then tried to copy him as best I could!”

19. FIRTH NEARLY PASSED ON BRIDGET JONES’S DIARY IN ORDER TO GET OUT OF “THE DARCY BUSINESS.”

Before you ask: Yes, Helen Fielding’s Bridget Jones’s Diary—which began as a weekly column in the Independent—is modeled after Pride and Prejudice and, yes, Fielding always imagined Colin Firth as Mark Darcy. Which made him the obvious choice for casting when the book version was adapted for the big screen—except, just as with Pride and Prejudice, Firth was reluctant to take the part.

In a 2001 interview with NOW Magazine, Firth admitted that he was hesitant to revisit “the Darcy business,” saying that, “If I spent 20 years training to be an astronaut, the headlines would still say ‘Darcy Lands On Mars!’ ... Pride and Prejudice wasn't the most rigorous or challenging thing I've done.” Eventually, and fortunately, he relented.

20. BAD NEWS: THE REAL MR. DARCY WOULDN’T LOOK ANYTHING LIKE COLIN FIRTH.

A group of researchers led by John Sutherland, a professor of Modern English Literature at University College London, and Amanda Vickery, a professor of Early Modern History at Queen Mary University of London, were recently commissioned by Drama TV to dig into Austen’s text (which offers very little description of Darcy), the author's own romantic relationships (which often inspired her work), and the fashion standards of the time to create the first historically accurate image of Mr. Darcy, courtesy of editorial artist and illustrator Nick Hardcastle. Here’s what he looks like:

Image courtesy of Drama TV.

According to the team’s research, Mr. Darcy—who would stand just under 6 feet tall—would have “a long oval face with a small mouth, pointy chin, and long nose.” This pale-complexioned dreamboat would also have “slender sloping shoulders and [a] modest chest” and his hair would be white—and powdered.

“There are only scraps of physical description of Fitzwilliam Darcy to be found in Pride and Prejudice; he is our most mysterious and desirable leading man of all time,” Sutherland explained. “What's fantastic about Jane Austen's writing is that Mr. Darcy is both of the era and timeless. Our research for TV channel Drama's Jane Austen Season shows how Austen herself envisioned Mr. Darcy, however the literature leaves space for the reader's imagination to create their own Darcy and bring their own fantasies to the storyline.”

All images courtesy of Pride & Prejudice (BBC)/Facebook unless otherwise noted.

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15 Heartwarming Facts About Mister Rogers
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Though Mister Rogers' Neighborhood premiered 50 years ago, Fred Rogers remains an icon of kindness for the ages. An innovator of children’s television, his salt-of-the-earth demeanor and genuinely gentle nature taught a generation of kids the value of kindness. In celebration of the groundbreaking children's series' 50th anniversary, here are 15 things you might not have known about everyone’s favorite “neighbor.”

1. HE WAS BULLIED AS A CHILD.

According to Benjamin Wagner, who directed the 2010 documentary Mister Rogers & Me—and was, in fact, Rogers’s neighbor on Nantucket—Rogers was overweight and shy as a child, and often taunted by his classmates when he walked home from school. “I used to cry to myself when I was alone,” Rogers said. “And I would cry through my fingers and make up songs on the piano.” It was this experience that led Rogers to want to look below the surface of everyone he met to what he called the “essential invisible” within them.

2. HE WAS AN ORDAINED MINISTER.

Rogers was an ordained minister and, as such, a man of tremendous faith who preached tolerance wherever he went. When Amy Melder, a six-year-old Christian viewer, sent Rogers a drawing she made for him with a letter that promised “he was going to heaven,” Rogers wrote back to his young fan:

“You told me that you have accepted Jesus as your Savior. It means a lot to me to know that. And, I appreciated the scripture verse that you sent. I am an ordained Presbyterian minister, and I want you to know that Jesus is important to me, too. I hope that God’s love and peace come through my work on Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.”

3. HE RESPONDED TO ALL HIS FAN MAIL.

Responding to fan mail was part of Rogers’s very regimented daily routine, which began at 5 a.m. with a prayer and included time for studying, writing, making phone calls, swimming, weighing himself, and responding to every fan who had taken the time to reach out to him.

“He respected the kids who wrote [those letters],” Heather Arnet, an assistant on Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in 2005. “He never thought about throwing out a drawing or letter. They were sacred."

According to Arnet, the fan mail he received wasn’t just a bunch of young kids gushing to their idol. Kids would tell Rogers about a pet or family member who died, or other issues with which they were grappling. “No child ever received a form letter from Mister Rogers," Arnet said, noting that he received between 50 and 100 letters per day.

4. ANIMALS LOVED HIM AS MUCH AS PEOPLE DID.

It wasn’t just kids and their parents who loved Mister Rogers. Koko, the Stanford-educated gorilla who understands 2000 English words and can also converse in American Sign Language, was an avid Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood watcher, too. When Rogers visited her, she immediately gave him a hug—and took his shoes off.

5. HE WAS AN ACCOMPLISHED MUSICIAN.

Though Rogers began his education in the Ivy League, at Dartmouth, he transferred to Rollins College following his freshman year in order to pursue a degree in music (he graduated Magna cum laude). In addition to being a talented piano player, he was also a wonderful songwriter and wrote all the songs for Mister Rogers' Neighborhood—plus hundreds more.

6. HIS INTEREST IN TELEVISION WAS BORN OUT OF A DISDAIN FOR THE MEDIUM.

Rogers’s decision to enter into the television world wasn’t out of a passion for the medium—far from it. "When I first saw children's television, I thought it was perfectly horrible," Rogers told Pittsburgh Magazine. "And I thought there was some way of using this fabulous medium to be of nurture to those who would watch and listen."

7. KIDS WHO WATCHED MISTER ROGERS’ NEIGHBORHOOD RETAINED MORE THAN THOSE WHO WATCHED SESAME STREET.

A Yale study pitted fans of Sesame Street against Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood watchers and found that kids who watched Mister Rogers tended to remember more of the story lines, and had a much higher “tolerance of delay,” meaning they were more patient.

8. ROGERS’S MOM KNIT ALL OF HIS SWEATERS.

If watching an episode of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood gives you sweater envy, we’ve got bad news: You’d never be able to find his sweaters in a store. All of those comfy-looking cardigans were knitted by Fred’s mom, Nancy. In an interview with the Archive of American Television, Rogers explained how his mother would knit sweaters for all of her loved ones every year as Christmas gifts. “And so until she died, those zippered sweaters I wear on the Neighborhood were all made by my mother,” he explained.

9. HE WAS COLORBLIND.

Those brightly colored sweaters were a trademark of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, but the colorblind host might not have always noticed. In a 2003 article, just a few days after his passing, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette wrote that:

Among the forgotten details about Fred Rogers is that he was so colorblind he could not distinguish between tomato soup and pea soup.

He liked both, but at lunch one day 50 years ago, he asked his television partner Josie Carey to taste it for him and tell him which it was.

Why did he need her to do this, Carey asked him. Rogers liked both, so why not just dip in?

"If it's tomato soup, I'll put sugar in it," he told her.

10. HE WORE SNEAKERS AS A PRODUCTION CONSIDERATION.

According to Wagner, Rogers’s decision to change into sneakers for each episode of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood was about production, not comfort. “His trademark sneakers were born when he found them to be quieter than his dress shoes as he moved about the set,” wrote Wagner.

11. MICHAEL KEATON GOT HIS START ON THE SHOW.

Oscar-nominated actor Michael Keaton's first job was as a stagehand on Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, manning Picture, Picture, and appearing as Purple Panda.

12. ROGERS GAVE GEORGE ROMERO HIS FIRST PAYING GIG, TOO.

It's hard to imagine a gentle, soft-spoken, children's education advocate like Rogers sitting down to enjoy a gory, violent zombie movie like Dawn of the Dead, but it actually aligns perfectly with Rogers's brand of thoughtfulness. He checked out the horror flick to show his support for then-up-and-coming filmmaker George Romero, whose first paying job was with everyone's favorite neighbor.

“Fred was the first guy who trusted me enough to hire me to actually shoot film,” Romero said. As a young man just out of college, Romero honed his filmmaking skills making a series of short segments for Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, creating a dozen or so titles such as “How Lightbulbs Are Made” and “Mr. Rogers Gets a Tonsillectomy.” The zombie king, who passed away in 2017, considered the latter his first big production, shot in a working hospital: “I still joke that 'Mr. Rogers Gets a Tonsillectomy' is the scariest film I’ve ever made. What I really mean is that I was scared sh*tless while I was trying to pull it off.”

13. ROGERS HELPED SAVE PUBLIC TELEVISION.

In 1969, Rogers—who was relatively unknown at the time—went before the Senate to plead for a $20 million grant for public broadcasting, which had been proposed by President Johnson but was in danger of being sliced in half by Richard Nixon. His passionate plea about how television had the potential to turn kids into productive citizens worked; instead of cutting the budget, funding for public TV increased from $9 million to $22 million.

14. HE ALSO SAVED THE VCR.

Years later, Rogers also managed to convince the Supreme Court that using VCRs to record TV shows at home shouldn’t be considered a form of copyright infringement (which was the argument of some in this contentious debate). Rogers argued that recording a program like his allowed working parents to sit down with their children and watch shows as a family. Again, he was convincing.

15. ONE OF HIS SWEATERS WAS DONATED TO THE SMITHSONIAN.

In 1984, Rogers donated one of his iconic sweaters to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History.

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5 Things You Might Not Know About Ansel Adams

You probably know Ansel Adams—who was born on February 20, 1902—as the man who helped promote the National Park Service through his magnificent photographs. But there was a lot more to the shutterbug than his iconic, black-and-white vistas. Here are five lesser-known facts about the celebrated photographer.

1. AN EARTHQUAKE LED TO HIS DISTINCTIVE NOSE.

Adams was a four-year-old tot when the 1906 San Francisco earthquake struck his hometown. Although the boy managed to escape injury during the quake itself, an aftershock threw him face-first into a garden wall, breaking his nose. According to a 1979 interview with TIME, Adams said that doctors told his parents that it would be best to fix the nose when the boy matured. He joked, "But of course I never did mature, so I still have the nose." The nose became Adams' most striking physical feature. His buddy Cedric Wright liked to refer to Adams' honker as his "earthquake nose.

2. HE ALMOST BECAME A PIANIST.

Adams was an energetic, inattentive student, and that trait coupled with a possible case of dyslexia earned him the heave-ho from private schools. It was clear, however, that he was a sharp boy—when motivated.

When Adams was just 12 years old, he taught himself to play the piano and read music, and he quickly showed a great aptitude for it. For nearly a dozen years, Adams focused intensely on his piano training. He was still playful—he would end performances by jumping up and sitting on his piano—but he took his musical education seriously. Adams ultimately devoted over a decade to his study, but he eventually came to the realization that his hands simply weren't big enough for him to become a professional concert pianist. He decided to leave the keys for the camera after meeting photographer Paul Strand, much to his family's dismay.

3. HE HELPED CREATE A NATIONAL PARK.

If you've ever enjoyed Kings Canyon National Park in California, tip your cap to Adams. In the 1930s Adams took a series of photographs that eventually became the book Sierra Nevada: The John Muir Trail. When Adams sent a copy to Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes, the cabinet member showed it to Franklin Roosevelt. The photographs so delighted FDR that he wouldn't give the book back to Ickes. Adams sent Ickes a replacement copy, and FDR kept his with him in the White House.

After a few years, Ickes, Adams, and the Sierra Club successfully convinced Roosevelt to make Kings Canyon a national park in 1940. Roosevelt's designation specifically provided that the park be left totally undeveloped and roadless, so the only way FDR himself would ever experience it was through Adams' lenses.

4. HE WELCOMED COMMERCIAL ASSIGNMENTS.

While many of his contemporary fine art photographers shunned commercial assignments as crass or materialistic, Adams went out of his way to find paying gigs. If a company needed a camera for hire, Adams would generally show up, and as a result, he had some unlikely clients. According to The Ansel Adams Gallery, he snapped shots for everyone from IBM to AT&T to women's colleges to a dried fruit company. All of this commercial print work dismayed Adams's mentor Alfred Stieglitz and even worried Adams when he couldn't find time to work on his own projects. It did, however, keep the lights on.

5. HE AND GEORGIA O'KEEFFE WERE FRIENDS.

Adams and legendary painter O'Keeffe were pals and occasional traveling buddies who found common ground despite their very different artistic approaches. They met through their mutual friend/mentor Stieglitz—who eventually became O'Keeffe's husband—and became friends who traveled throughout the Southwest together during the 1930s. O'Keeffe would paint while Adams took photographs.

These journeys together led to some of the artists' best-known work, like Adams' portrait of O'Keeffe and a wrangler named Orville Cox, and while both artists revered nature and the American Southwest, Adams considered O'Keeffe the master when it came to capturing the area. 

“The Southwest is O’Keeffe’s land,” he wrote. “No one else has extracted from it such a style and color, or has revealed the essential forms so beautifully as she has in her paintings.”

The two remained close throughout their lives. Adams would visit O'Keeffe's ranch, and the two wrote to each other until Adams' death in 1984.

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