Marlene Wagman-Geller

"As far back as I can remember, it was always on my bucket list, even before the term bucket list was coined,
to be a writer. It was a natural progression to want to go from reading books to writing one."
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The Bitter and the Sweet    (1900)

The Bitter and the Sweet    (1900)
Aug 08, 2021 by Marlene Wagman-Geller
   In 1972, Sammy Davis Jr. crooned, “The Candy Man makes everything he bakes/ Satisfying and delicious.” Although millions delight in the endorphin-producing chocolate, many are unaware of the story of the real-life Willie Wonka. 

Cain and Abel (1949)

Cain and Abel (1949)
Jul 24, 2021 by Marlene Wagman-Geller
 Urban legend holds that Adidas is an acronym for “All Day I Dream About Sports,” or “All Day I Dream About Soccer,” or “All Day I Dream About Sex.” The assumptions are incorrect. The shoe emporium originated with a feud between two Bavarian brothers. 

Unfathomable (1904)

Unfathomable (1904)
Jul 14, 2021 by Marlene Wagman-Geller

“All children, except one, grow up.” Peter Pan dwells in a magical world inhabited by Tinker Bell, Wendy, and Tiger Lily. Yet Neverland, like the moon, had a dark side, one the nonfictional Peter understood all too well. 

The Enchanted Forest (1926)

The Enchanted Forest (1926)
Jul 10, 2021 by Marlene Wagman-Geller
The image of a boy and his animal companions serves as a magic carpet that transports us to the lost land of childhood. Christopher Robin and Winnie the Pooh, (“the bear of very little brain”), spend adventure-filled days exploring the 100 Acre Wood where nothing ever happens that a pot of honey could not make right. Yet, lurking in the shadows were specters that dogged the non-fictional hero of the childhood classic.

The Light  (1967)

The Light  (1967)
Jul 01, 2021 by Marlene Wagman-Geller
 The turbulent decade of the 1960s gave birth to a love story between a Jewish-Canadian poet and a Norwegian single mother enacted on a Greek island. The Scandinavian muse was the inspiration for Leonard Cohen in his song, “So Long, Marianne.” 

“It Ain’t Me”        (1963)

“It Ain’t Me”        (1963)
Jun 15, 2021 by Marlene Wagman-Geller
The cover of the album, “The Freewillin’ Bob Dylan” showcases the youthful artist walking alongside a girl in a green coat. While the singer is an iconic musician, the woman holding onto his arm has retreated into the shadows. 

Immortal Beloved (1961)

Immortal Beloved   (1961)
Jun 09, 2021 by Marlene Wagman-Geller
The lil’ folk who inhabit the Peanuts universe are beloved comic characters: Charlie Brown with his tree-hugging kite, Lucy with her curbside psychiatry- stand, Linus with his security blanket. Less well-known is the Little Red-Haired Girl, the artist’s lost love.

“Most Likely to Succeed”  (1969)

“Most Likely to Succeed”  (1969)
May 24, 2021 by Marlene Wagman-Geller
A slice of Americana is the Wendy’s hamburger emporium with its mascot of a red-haired girl, pigtails bound with blue bows. Behind the fresh-faced child lies a Horatio Algier's story. 

“Off With Their Heads!”    (circa 1553)

“Off With Their Heads!”    (circa 1553)
May 13, 2021 by Marlene Wagman-Geller
A time-honored rite of childhood is the nursery rhymes we remember no matter how much time goes by. Surprisingly, the historical references behind the ditties contain veiled references to murder and mayhem. Mary Shelley, Edgar Allan Poe, and Stephen King met their match in these medieval tales. And what is with all that falling? Jack and Jill break their heads in their descent down the hill; Humpty Dumpty is cracked beyond repair from his tumble from the wall; everyone collapses at the end of Ring-Around-the-Rosie. Nursery rhymes served as a coded means of social protest in an era when speaking your mind would cost you your head. 

The Kent State Pietà      (1970)

The Kent State Pietà      (1970)
May 03, 2021 by Marlene Wagman-Geller
“The wrong place at the wrong time,” is a phrase with which many can relate, but likely not to the extent of the woman immortalized in the iconic Kent State photograph. The black-and-white image made a teenager the most famous unknown person of a turbulent time. 

“Invisible to the Eye”                    (1943)

“Invisible to the Eye”                    (1943)
Apr 02, 2021 by Marlene Wagman-Geller
If you gaze at the sky and see a flower in a glass house, you are familiar with the golden-haired boy who met a downed airman in the Sahara Desert. From his new friend, the pilot learns the essence of life, love, and friendship. What was lost in literary legend was the nonfictional identity of the Little Prince’s thorny rose.    

What Would the Nanny Do?    (1683)

What Would the Nanny Do?     (1683)
Mar 29, 2021 by Marlene Wagman-Geller
The television series, The Nanny, cemented the image that women from Queens have voices that can shatter glass. While the winsome Fran Fine may have reigned over the heart of Mr. Sheffield, the Noo Yawk borough from which she hailed became known as Queens after a woman cut from a far different cloth: Catherine of Braganza. 

“Boop-Oop-a-Doop!”                    (1930)

“Boop-Oop-a-Doop!”                    (1930)
Mar 24, 2021 by Marlene Wagman-Geller
 No one would have any trouble picking out the ageless “It Girl” from a line-up due to her signature garter, skimpy dress, and kewpie doll eyes. And yet few would be able to name the woman who served as Betty Boop’s prototype, the original lewdie toon. 

“Jars of Hope”         (1946)

“Jars of Hope”         (1946)
Mar 03, 2021 by Marlene Wagman-Geller

Hamlet railed at Ophelia, “God hath given you one face and you make yourselves another.” Although the Prince of Demark viewed makeup as female duplicity, a twentieth century woman used cosmetics to create a billion-dollar blue empire. Although the tycoon became a household name to millions of women, few are privy to her saga. 

From Raggedy to Riches                   (1915)

From Raggedy to Riches                   (1915)
Feb 22, 2021 by Marlene Wagman-Geller
Who is the most fabulous fictitious redhead: Wilma Flintstone, Pippi Longstocking, Princess Ariel? Such a list must include the icon who has been going strong for a century. Her creator named her after a flesh and blood girl who was also an entertainment juggernaut.

“The Daughter of My People”                (1912)

“The Daughter of My People”                (1912)
Feb 18, 2021 by Marlene Wagman-Geller
 An investigation into the name of the largest women’s philanthropic organization in North America would reveal a biblical queen, a twentieth century visionary, the birth of a country that became a key chess player in world history. 

“The Hope of Spring” (1957)

“The Hope of Spring”    (1957)
Feb 08, 2021 by Marlene Wagman-Geller
Boris Pasternak’s Dr. Zhivago depicts a romantic triangle set against the backdrop of the Russian Revolution. What makes the epic more evocative is the realization that the tragic Lara was the author’s muse who paid a terrible price for her forbidden love. 

The Pink Queen Bee     (1963)

The Pink Queen Bee     (1963)
Feb 07, 2021 by Marlene Wagman-Geller
The color pink brings to mind Barbie, Disney Princesses, Hello Kitty, and pussy cat hats. A woman whose fascination with pink left her rolling in the green, and her name became beauty’s calling card. 

“Maybe She’s Born With It” (1915)

“Maybe She’s Born With It” (1915)
Feb 03, 2021 by Marlene Wagman-Geller
What is lime green and bubble-gum pink with a black interior? Hint: It has been a staple cosmetic for over a century. Women the world over own the iconic mascara; however, what is buried behind its brand name is a tapestry that involves money, murder, and mayhem. 

“Huff and Puff” (2005)

“Huff and Puff” (2005)
Jan 27, 2021 by Marlene Wagman-Geller
Jim Morrison of The Doors remarked, “Whoever controls the media controls the mind.” The Greek baroness of the media became a household name when her website made her a contemporary Colossus of Rhodes.