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HAPPY 90TH BIRTHDAY CHUCK BERRY

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ELVIS’ BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION 2016 and The Elvis Presley coverup: What America didn’t hear about the death of the king

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ELVIS’ BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION 2016

Memphis, Tennessee

Celebrate Elvis’ birthday at Graceland in Memphis this January!

The 2016 Elvis Birthday Celebration is January 7-10, 2016, at Graceland, and includes the Elvis Birthday Proclamation Ceremony, The Auction at Graceland, the Official Graceland Insiders Reception, Fan Club Presidents’ Event, Club Elvis and more.

Our special guests this year are June Juanico and Glenn Derringer.


June Juanico, a former beauty queen and an Elvis fan from Biloxi, Mississippi, dated Elvis in 1955 and 1956. Elvis took three weeks of vacation with June in 1956 after having recorded “Hound Dog” and “Don’t Be Cruel” at RCA Studios in New York. She met Elvis for the first time at one of his concerts in Biloxi in 1955, when he was on the verge of super stardom.


Pianist Glenn Derringer performed on the same Dorsey Brothers Stage Show in 1956 where Elvis made his TV debut. He’s a music industry icon with more than four decades of unprecedented experience in the business.

The Elvis Presley coverup: What America didn’t hear about the death of the king

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After Presley’s death, an effort was launched to protect the reputation of the hospital that had treated him
JOEL WILLIAMSONThe Elvis Presley coverup: What America didn’t hear about the death of the king
This cover image released by RCA/Legacy shows the box set for Elvis Presley, “Elvis: Prince From Another Planet.” (AP Photo/RCA/Legacy) (Credit: Uncredited)
Excerpted from “Elvis Presley: A Southern Life.”
The call came to Memphis Fire Station No. 29 at 2:33 p.m. on Tuesday, August 16, 1977. The dispatcher indicated that someone at 3754 Elvis Presley Boulevard was having difficulty breathing. “Go to the front gate and go to the front of the mansion,” the voice directed. Ambulance Unit No. 6 swung out of the station onto Elvis Presley Boulevard and headed south, siren wailing, advertising a speed that the ponderous machine had not yet achieved.

The two medics manning the ambulance recognized the address right away. The “mansion,” as the dispatcher called it, was Elvis Presley’s home, Graceland, three miles south of the fire station. They had been there often, to take care of fans fainting at the front gate and pedestrians injured by passing automobiles. Two years before, one of the medics, Charles Crosby, had come to assist Elvis’s father, Vernon Presley, after he suffered a heart attack. He thought it might be Vernon again.

On this run Crosby was driving the ambulance. He was thirty-eight, stoutly built, dark-haired, and heavily mustached. His partner, Ulysses Jones, twenty-six, sat in the passenger seat. Members of the Memphis Fire Department, they had received eighty-eight hours of special training to become emergency medical technicians and had years of experience. On each call, they alternated between driving and riding in the back with the ill or injured. This time, Ulysses Jones would ride with the patient.

Crosby expertly threaded the boxy white, blue, and orange vehicle through the thin midafternoon traffic with lights flashing. Heat waves shimmered up from the asphalt in front of him. During the day, the mercury had risen into the mid-90s and hovered there. In a city not yet fully air-conditioned, many working Memphians breathed the hot, damp air, mopped their brows, and thought fondly about getting home to an icy drink on their shady screened-in porches.

As the ambulance crested a low hill and swooped down the broad six-lane boulevard toward Graceland, the gates swung open and the crowd milling around the entrance parted. Making a wide sweeping turn to the left, the vehicle bounced heavily across the sidewalk and hurtled through the entranceway, striking one of the swinging metal gates a clanging blow. One of the several musical notes welded to the gate fell off. Crosby accelerated up the curving drive toward the mansion. He braked hard in front of the two-story, white-columned portico. Climbing down from the ambulance, Crosby and Jones were met by one of Elvis’s bodyguards.

“He’s upstairs,” the man exclaimed, “and I think it’s an OD.”

Grabbing their equipment, the two medics rushed into the house and up the stairs. They pushed through Elvis’s bedroom, noticing the deep-pile red rug and the huge unmade bed facing three television consoles, one for each of the three major networks. Passing through a wide doorway, they entered Elvis’s enormous bathroom, what had been two rooms combined into a sitting room, dressing room, and bathroom. Ulysses Jones told a reporter later that day that he saw “as many as a dozen people huddled over the body of a man clothed in pajamas—a yellow top and blue bottoms.”

At first sight Jones didn’t recognize Elvis. The man was stretched out on his back on the thick red rug with his pajama top open and his bottoms pulled down below his knees. Rolls of fat girded his belly. He was very dark, almost black. Jones thought that he might have been a black man. “From his shoulders up, his skin was dark blue,” he told a reporter for the Memphis Press-Scimitar. “Around his neck, which seemed fat and bloated, was a very large gold medallion. His sideburns were gray.” A young man was pressing Elvis’s chest rhythmically, while a middle-aged woman gave him mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. Jones knelt quickly to search for any sign of life in the prostrate form. He felt no pulse, and he saw no flicker of response when he flashed a penlight into his eyes. “Elvis was cold,” he said, “unusually cold.”

People in the room began frantically asking the medics what should be done. Suddenly, as if in response, one young man blurted out helpfully, “We think he OD’d.” It was the second time the medics had heard that opinion. The man seemed to speak for the whole group. No one dissented, but Jones thought the statement caused “a kind of funny stir in the room.” Elvis’s employees were rigorously trained never to mention Elvis and drugs in the same breath. Elvis did not take “drugs” of any kind. If they ever had to say anything at all, they were to say that he was on “medication” prescribed by his physicians. One of the medics asked for the container that held the drugs taken by the victim. None was ever produced.

Jones and Crosby quickly concluded that emergency treatment in a hospital offered the only hope. It took five men to lift the body onto the stretcher. “He must have weighed 250 pounds,” Crosby said.

With much difficulty, they negotiated the stretcher around the corners and down the stairs. Two men had to hold back Elvis’s father, Vernon, as he cried and called out, “Son, I’m coming . . . I’ll be there . . . I’ll meet you there.”

As they were about to leave, a Mercedes-Benz raced up the driveway and lurched to a stop. A stocky middle-aged man with a thatch of white hair dashed from the car and leaped into the back of the ambulance just as the doors closed. It was Elvis’s doctor, George Nichopoulos.

Dr. “Nick” Nichopoulos

Four years later it would be established in court that during the seven and a half months preceding Elvis’s death, from January 1, 1977, to August 16, 1977, Dr. Nichopoulos had written prescriptions for him for at least 8,805 pills, tablets, vials, and injectables. Going back to January 1975, the count was 19,012. The numbers defied belief, but they came from an experienced team of investigators who visited 153 pharmacies and spent 1,090 hours going through 6,570,175 prescriptions and then, with the aid of two secretaries, spent another 1,120 hours organizing the evidence. The drugs included uppers, downers, and powerful painkillers such as Dilaudid, Quaalude, Percodan, Demerol, and cocaine hydrochloride in quantities more appropriate for those terminally ill with cancer. In fact, at about 2:00 a.m. on the morning of his death, Dr. Nick was again ready to prescribe. He responded to a telephone call from Elvis by prescribing six doses of Dilaudid, an opiate that was Elvis’s favorite drug. One of Elvis’s bodyguards, Billy Stanley, drove over to Baptist Memorial Hospital, picked up the pills at the all-night pharmacy, and brought them to Graceland. The bodyguard said that he saw Elvis take the pills. The autopsy, however, showed no traces of Dilaudid in Elvis’s body.

In the fall of 1981 the state tried Dr. Nichopoulos in criminal court for overprescribing drugs to Elvis and a number of other patients. Dr. Nick testified that if he had not given Elvis a large proportion of the drugs he demanded, other doctors would have. By supplying Elvis, he had at least some control over his patient’s intake. His defense was weakened substantially by evidence that he had prescribed an excessive amount of drugs to at least ten other patients, including rock star Jerry Lee Lewis and his own teenage daughter, Chrissy.

On the other hand, it was clearly established that Elvis could, would, and did get any drug he wanted from show business doctors in Las Vegas and Los Angeles. One of his suppliers was a Las Vegas physician called “Flash” by Elvis’s staff, since he would appear on a moment’s notice, syringe in hand, ready to inject Elvis with whatever drug he wanted. The guys said that “Flash liked to attend Elvis’s parties to mix with the overflow of attractive young women present and perhaps find a companion for the evening.” At home in Memphis, Elvis would get packages containing drugs mailed from the West. Sometimes he sent his private plane, the four-engine Lisa Marie, to Las Vegas or Los Angeles to secure drugs from doctors in those cities and ferry them back to Memphis. Sometimes he flew out himself.

Dr. Nick, like Elvis’s other physicians, had been seduced by the frothy glitter of show business, and with his tanned and striking appearance he fit right in. His style diverged from the practice of medicine that was increasingly a matter of business and less a matter of personal service. He was born and reared in Anniston, Alabama, where his father was a highly respected restaurant owner and businessman. George Nichopoulos, however, had not at first been a high achiever. He had not progressed smoothly through college and medical school. He had first entered the University of Alabama on a football scholarship, but dropped out before the school year ended, and he served in the army for two years. He was a student at Birmingham Southern University for a year and then moved on to the University of the South at Sewanee, where he earned his Bachelor of Science degree in 1951. He worked in a research lab at Vanderbilt University before his admission to the medical school in 1952. He failed biochemistry and physiology, was put on probation, and tried to make up for his failures during summer school, but failed again. In the fall, he was not readmitted. He moved to Memphis and for three years worked in the University of Tennessee’s medical school. In 1956, he was readmitted to Vanderbilt Medical School, graduating in 1959. After finishing his training, in 1962 he entered practice in Memphis with several doctors who called themselves the Medical Group.

Other doctors looked askance at George Nichopoulos’s personal and sartorial style. Too much informality, they thought. He allowed his patients, friends, and acquaintances to call him “Dr. Nick.” He seemed unduly proud of the stylishly arranged thatch of white hair that crowned his head, and he was not averse to revealing his chest hair. He often wore his shirts open at the throat, showing off a very large, tasteless gold medallion suspended by a necklace and resting against his bare chest. The medallion was a special gift from Elvis Presley and marked him as a member of the star’s inner circle, some of whom were macho young men who proudly called themselves “the Memphis Mafia.” Dr. Nick usually sported a highly visible array of expensive rings, bracelets, and wristwatches, some of which were gifts from Elvis. Without his white smock and dangling stethoscope, one would have difficulty recognizing him as a doctor, even in a medical office or hospital. How could he command sufficient authority among his patients? his medical colleagues wondered. How could he justify his fees?

Dr. Nichopoulos was making his rounds at Doctors Hospital far out on the east side of Memphis when the call came that Elvis was in trouble. Dropping everything, he rushed to Graceland in the green Mercedes-Benz Elvis had given him. He was taken by surprise by the call. He had done everything he could think of to preserve Elvis’s life in the face of his drug addiction, and he thought he was succeeding. He was looking forward to flying off in the Lisa Marie with Elvis to Portland, Maine, for a ten-day tour. For years the doctor had often toured with Elvis, carrying all the necessary drugs with him. Elvis would sometimes introduce him to his adoring audiences, publicly expressing his fond appreciation for his physician as thousands of people looked on and Dr. Nichopoulos stood in the spotlight graciously accepting their applause. Now and again, when Elvis was mad at Dr. Nick, he would punish him by not letting him come along on a tour.

The day before Elvis died, Dr. Nick had loaded up his bag at the Prescription House, a pharmacy just across the street from his office. Later, investigators found that for this ten-day trip, Dr. Nick had picked up 682 pills and tablets, including Dilaudids, Percodans, Amytals, Quaaludes, Dexadrines, and Bephetamines, along with 20 cc’s of liquid Dilaudid.

Elvis paid the doctor $800 a day for his services on tours, which lasted from about ten to twenty days. He also paid the doctors with whom Nichopoulos practiced $1,000 a day to cover for him while he was gone. Between 1970 and 1977, Elvis paid Dr. Nick more than $76,000 for his services on the road and $147,000 to the medical group.

The material benefits that Dr. Nichopoulos enjoyed from his association with Elvis did not stop at gifts and fees. In 1975 he had persuaded Elvis to loan him $200,000 to build a house in a newly developing and affluent neighborhood well east of town. With a tennis court, a swimming pool, and an enclosed racquetball court, the banks found the home too costly even for its well-to-do neighborhood and refused to lend Dr. Nick the money he needed. Elvis did so, and before he passed away $55,000 more. They did draw up a paper shortly before Elvis’s death that would pool the loans and obligate Nichopoulos to repay the amount over a period of twenty-five years at 7 percent interest, but Elvis never got around to signing the document.

Only days after the funeral, Vernon summoned Nichopoulos to Graceland and with insulting haste compelled him to sign a document in which he mortgaged his home to Elvis’s estate for the total amount he owed. He also increased the interest rate to 8 percent and warned Nichopoulos that if he was late on even one month’s payment, foreclosure would summarily follow. Vernon had never trusted Dr. Nick. Court records indicate that as of June 27, 1979, Nichopoulos had not missed a single payment and still owed the estate $245,807.33.
As the ambulance raced down the driveway and up the boulevard on the afternoon of the death, Dr. Nichopoulos could not accept the reality that lay before him. Working desperately on the body, the doctor kept shouting to the dead man.

Later that day, Jones described the scene in the ambulance. “All the way to the hospital,” he said, “the doctor had this look of sheer disbelief that this could happen to Elvis.” He recalled that Dr. Nichopoulos kept shouting, “Breathe, Elvis . . . come on, breathe for me.”

Baptist Memorial Hospital

The ambulance left Graceland at 2:48, sixteen minutes after it arrived. At 2:56, it pulled up at the emergency room at Baptist Memorial Hospital. The hospital maintained a superbly well trained crew of eighteen doctors, nurses, and medical specialists to deal with life-or-death situations. Dubbed the Harvey Team, it could gather at a given point in the building within minutes after the alert was sounded. Already assembled and waiting when this patient arrived, the team rushed him into Emergency Room B and went to work. They had not been officially told that it was Elvis. “Why are we working on this guy?” asked one young medic, seeing that he was already dead. “Because he’s Elvis Presley,” answered one of her older teammates.

Ulysses Jones watched while the Harvey Team worked with professional steadiness. After some twenty minutes, they gave up. Dr. Nick turned to Joe Esposito, Elvis’s road manager. “There is nothing we can do,” he said. “We tried.” Jones saw Nichopoulos’s eyes begin to water as he shepherded people out of the room. “Then he left too,” Jones said, “shutting the door behind him.” Jones and Crosby drove Dr. Nick back to Graceland in the ambulance.

The corpse was wheeled to the hospital morgue, where a resourceful, if graceless, newspaper photographer was lying on a gurney under a white sheet, pretending he was a cadaver, waiting for an opportunity to snap a photograph of Elvis’s body. Such a photo would be worth thousands of dollars to the tabloids. The would-be photographer was quickly discovered and roughly expelled, and a guard was set until the autopsy began.

Sergeant John Peel of the Memphis Police Department arrived at Baptist Hospital about 3:45 p.m. and began to take notes for the official police report. He wrote that by 4:10 the body was already in the morgue. He had learned that the victim “appeared to have been sitting on commode & lunged forward.” He “had gone to the bathroom to read.” He noted that “Dr. Nick” had left the “hospital en route to get autopsy papers at Graceland.” His last entry indicated that Dr. Nichopoulos “wouldn’t give cause of death.”

At Graceland, Nichopoulos secured Vernon Presley’s signature to a document authorizing an autopsy of his son’s body by the staff of Baptist Hospital, to be paid for by the Presley estate. Thus, Vernon might share—or not share—the resulting report with anyone he chose. If the object was to keep the cause of Elvis’s death a secret, it was an excellent move both for the Presley family and for Dr. Nichopoulos. If Elvis died by his own hand from popping too many pills, only trusted people needed to know the truth, and the carefully constructed public image of Elvis would be secure. Also, if Dr. Nichopoulos had prescribed too many pills for Elvis, that fact might be kept from authorities who might otherwise take away his medical license or even bring him up on criminal charges.

The Cover-Up

Baptist Hospital administrators realized that in dealing with the death of Elvis Presley they were involved in a public relations matter that might damage the hospital’s sterling reputation. Over the years they had carefully concealed the nature and seriousness of his often embarrassing illnesses, including those resulting from drug abuse. Dr. Nichopoulos had always checked Elvis into Baptist Hospital because he knew they were discreet. That was surely one reason why he ordered Charles Crosby to drive the ambulance some seven miles to Baptist Hospital rather than to the nearest emergency room, at Methodist South Hospital, only blocks away from Graceland.

The autopsy was conducted by a specially selected and highly skilled team of nine pathologists headed by the hospital’s chief of pathology, Dr. E. Eric Muirhead. Dr. Jerry Francisco, the medical examiner for Shelby County, closely observed the proceedings. It would be his responsibility to declare to the world the official cause of Elvis Presley’s death.

Early on, a meticulous dissection of the body revealed what Elvis did not die from. It was not heart failure, stroke, cancer, or lung disease— the usual killers. It also confirmed what his doctors already knew: Elvis was chronically ill with diabetes, glaucoma, and constipation. As they proceeded, the doctors saw evidence that his body had been wracked over a span of years by a large and constant stream of drugs. They had also studied his hospital records, which included two admissions for drug detoxification and methadone treatments. Over time, Elvis had, in effect, been poisoned. The bloated body, the puffy eyelids, and the constipation reflected the slow death. They prepared multiple specimens from the corpse’s fluids and organs to be identified anonymously and sent to several well-respected laboratories across America for analysis. Chances seemed high that Elvis had, in fact, overdosed.

Dan Warlick, Dr. Francisco’s aide, had driven to Graceland after Elvis’s death was confirmed to investigate the scene. Several hours later, he summarized what he had found. Sadly, ignominiously, the crisis had come Tuesday morning while Elvis was sitting on the black leather padded seat on his black ceramic commode reading a book. There had been a trauma of some sort. Probably, Elvis stood up, dropped the book aside, took a halting short step or two, then sank to his knees and pitched forward. Perhaps he crawled a foot or two more before he collapsed, came to rest in the fetal position face down on the deep pile rug, and regurgitated slightly. Warlick told Dr. Francisco that the site had been cleaned up before he arrived, but even so, he had found two syringes and an empty medicine bag in Elvis’s quarters. He thought that drugs were involved in the death.

ana_christy#elvis#birthday#coverup#death#beatnikhiway.com

 

Toronto man spends $900 on custom cupcake for wife’s 40th birthday

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Courtesy Jeeval TailorThe luxury market is alive and well as shown in this $900 cupcake created by pastry chef Devonne Sitzer and designer Annie Sung Lee of Le Dolci in Toronto.

TORONTO – The gourmet cupcake craze has been declared dead by more than one trend-watcher, but it’s still got sweet appeal for a Toronto man who spent $900 on an elaborate confection for his wife’s 40th birthday.

Lisa Sanguedolce, owner of custom sweetmaker Le Dolci, says she was asked to make the elaborate creation featuring some of the woman’s favourite ingredients, and ended up including tiny Champagne bubbles, fondant decorations painted with edible gold, Kona coffee from Hawaii and 21-year-old Courvoisier.

Pastry chef Devonne Sitzer, who’s had stints at Toronto’s Distillery District and the tony Langdon Hall in Cambridge, Ont., dreamed up the cupcake along with designer Annie Sung Lee.

“It was a lot of labour, going back and forth with him, showing him sketches and sourcing everything,” Sanguedolce said Friday. “Our chef is amazing. She came up with it all. I was, like, this is beautiful.”

Tiny Champagne bubbles sprinkled over the cake were created using a molecular gastronomy technique – “they explode in your mouth,” Sanguedolce said – and “diamonds” carved out of sugar were placed around the edge of the chocolate cupcake, which was made with organic sugar, flour and honey with a pinch of salt from France. The cupcake was hollowed out slightly in the centre and filled with a vanilla bean pastry cream and topped with mocha icing.

Delicate fondant flowers were etched in edible gold, stylized gold strips crisscrossed the sides of the cupcake and a fondant branch and leaves were painted with edible gold. Kona is one of the most expensive coffees in the world and the pricey chocolate came from Italy.

“The Courvoisier was more to his liking,” Sanguedolce said with a laugh. The cognac was drizzled on top and poured into a small tube inserted into the cupcake.

For quality control, they tasted as they went along, and Sanguedolce pronounced the chocolate, vanilla and coffee mix delicious.

The elements took a few days to prepare and assembly took a day. The lavish cupcake was delivered last Friday.

“The customer was super happy. We used all the ingredients that his wife loved and some things that he loved. It turned out to be a really fun project.”

This is the first costly cupcake Sanguedolce has supplied, though she’s produced numerous cakes that cost upwards of $1,000, such as replicas of a celebrant’s grand piano for a 65th birthday, a Porsche for a son’s wedding and a Corvette for a husband’s 40th birthday. The time-consuming task of recreating each of them was done from photos supplied by the customers.

Of the luxury market, Sanguedolce said, “It’s a different world, not my world, but I’m happy to oblige.”

COOL PEOPLE – TWIGGY’S 63rd. BIRTHDAY-A 60’s ICON

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COOL PEOPLE – TWIGGY’S 63rd. BIRTHDAY-A 60’s ICON

 

 

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COOL TWIGGY FOOTAGE

ALL ABOUT TWIGGY
TWIGGY SINGING

TWIGGY AND TOMMY TUNE

Synopsis

With her thin build and wide eyes, Twiggy became one of the world’s first supermodels and face of London’s “swinging ’60s” mod scene. She has also made numerous appearances on television, and her films include The Boy Friend (1971), The Blues Brothers (1981) and Madame Sousatzka (1989). More recently, Twiggy appeared as a judge on America’s Next Top Model.

1960s Fashion Icon

Born Lesley Hornby on September 19, 1949 in London, England, Twiggy first rose to fame as a model in the 1960s. She has since established herself as an actress, singer and television personality. Twiggy is the youngest of three sisters. One of her earlier nicknames during her school years was “Sticks.” But the name she is famous for was given to her as a teenager. She dropped out of school around the age of 15.

Before long, Twiggy became one of the world’s top models. She had her career breakthrough when she was named the face of 1966 by the Daily Express newspaper. With her thin build, dramatic eyes and boyish hair style, Twiggy captured the spirit of the “swinging sixties” in London’s Carnaby Street mod scene. She soon appeared on the cover of many leading fashion magazines, including Elle and British Vogue.

Twiggy was one of the first models to parlay her success as a model into other business ventures. In 1967, she came to the United States to promote her own clothing line as well as model. The trip also afforded her a chance to work with famed photographer Richard Avedon. Twiggy became so popular in America that she even inspired her own Barbie doll. More Twiggy merchandise soon followed, including a board game and a lunch box. Fans would even copy her distinctive eye look with their own set of Twiggy fake eyelashes.

Later Career

Twiggy started acting in the 1970s, making her film debut in Ken Russell’s musical The Boy Friend (1971) with Tommy Tune. More movie roles followed, including appearances in The Blues Brothers (1980) with John Belushi and Madame Sousatzka (1988) with Shirley MacLaine. Twiggy also enjoyed some success on the stage. In 1983, she made her Broadway debut in My One and Only with Tommy Tune.

Over the years, Twiggy has also made numerous television appearances as well. She was briefly co-presenter of ITV’s popular This Morning program in 2001. On American television, Twiggy also served as a judge on Tyra Banks’s popular modeling-competition show America’s Next Top Model.

Twiggy became the face of Marks & Spencer in 2005. In addition to modeling for the company, she sells a line of clothing through its website. Twiggy has also been a model for Olay beauty products in recent years. She also remained a subject of great interest and fascination with several books and documentaries made about her life and career. In 2009, Twiggy: A Life in Photographs was published.

Personal Life

In 1977, Twiggy married actor Michael Witney. The couple had one daughter, Carly, before Witney’s death in 1983. She married her second husband, actor Leigh Lawson, in 1988. Twiggy is an advocate of animal welfare and is recognized for her support of breast cancer research groups.

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Culture

’60s

London in the mid-to late-1960s was as central to the look and feel of that fabled era as any place on earth. The (the Beatles, the Stones, the Who, Cream and countless others) was, in large part, the soundtrack of the Sixties. The street scenes, especially along Carnaby Street in Soho, with the eminently picturesque Mods and hippies hanging out in their utterly distinctive gear, provided youth culture around the world with exemplars of cool that are still embraced today.

Finally, the fashions that emerged from London, as well as the models who made those fashions both hip and famous, still echo through pop culture. Jean Shrimpton, Penelope Tree and, of course, the extraordinary woman known as Twiggy (born Lesley Hornby) were for several years in the mid-1960s the heavily made-up faces of Swinging London itself.

[See TIME.com on Twiggy as an “All-Time 100 Fashion Icon.”]

Today, Twiggy remains not only a fashion touchstone — with any slim young thing who sports short hair and liberal eye shadow inevitably pegged as “Twiggy-like” — but has also, incredibly, managed to stay relevant and productive for decades. Rather than simply and endlessly recycling the elements of her appeal that made her famous in the first place, Hornby went on to act in films and on stage (not just in set pieces, but in classic plays by heavyweights like Shaw and Noel Coward); recorded — and continues to record — as a singer; appeared on TV shows (like all great stars, for example, she took a turn on The Muppets); and wrote several books, including a well-received autobiography.

It sometimes astonishes people — or people outside the UK, at least — to learn that the skinny, blonde, mop-topped, teenaged model who took the fashion world by storm in the Sixties actually survived those crazy years, grew up and, incredibly, is still around.

Here, on Twiggy’s 63rd birthday, LIFE.com celebrates her career and her enduring style with a series of rare pictures — shot in California for a feature that never appeared in the magazine — by long-time LIFE photographer Ralph Crane. Captured at the very height of her fame as one of the first-ever supermodels, and during her first visit to the U.S. when she was all of 18 years old, the Twiggy in most of these pictures seems remarkably cool and sophisticated for one so young. (Perhaps not surprising, considering that she’d been one of the most famous figures — and had one of the most famous figures — in the world for the previous whirlwind year.)

In other shots, meanwhile, she looks refreshingly like a teen who is still thrilled that her life has taken her to these sorts of places, with these sorts of people. There are other Sixties icons here, after all — Sonny and Cher, for example, and Steve McQueen (wearing a shearling coat in the Beverly Hills sun, and somehow looking cool doing it).

Throughout it all, the vibe of all of these photos is distinctly, unmistakably that of the Sixties — specifically, that brief period in 1966 and 1967, before MLK and Bobby Kennedy were assassinated, before Altamont, before the Manson family murders, before the decade died out entirely, when people might have been able to convince themselves that the Age of Aquarius was really just around the corner. Or, if not the Age of Aquarius, then at least a pretty groovy garden party at a mansion in Beverly Hills.

Read more: Twiggy: Rare Photos of a Swinging Sixties Icon | LIFE.com http://life.time.com/culture/twiggy-rare-photos-of-a-sixties-icon/#ixzz34M5BUFHw