THIRTEEN’s American Masters: Althea Uncovers the Story of Legendary African American Tennis Pioneer Althea Gibson

American Masters: Althea premieres nationwide Friday, September 4, 9-10:30 p.m. on PBS (check local listings). Encore presentation of American Masters: Billie Jean King follows, 10:30 p.m. -12 midnight.

People often cite Arthur Ashe as the first African American to win Wimbledon (1975).  He was indeed the first African American male to win the men’s singles title, but it was, in fact, Althea Gibson, who was the first African American to cross the color line  playing and winning at Wimbledon (1957 and 1958) and at the U.S. Nationals (1957 and 1958 – precursor of the U.S. Open).11400992_930685700321663_6031720544218097232_n

PBS’s American Masters presents Althea, premiering nationwide Friday, September 4, 2015 at 9 pm during the U.S. Open.  The 90-minute documentary reveals the highs and lows of this remarkable athlete whose life and achievements transcend sports and have entered the annals of African American history. From her roots as a sharecropper’s daughter in the cotton fields of South Carolina, to her emergence as the unlikely queen of the highly segregated tennis world in the 1950s, her story is a complex tale of race, class and gender.

In recounting Gibson’s story, the filmmakers were meticulous in finding period imagery, including over 450 vintage photographs.  Producer and director Rex Miller weaves this archival visual material and interviews with those who knew Gibson, such as former New York City Mayor David Dinkins, Wimbledon champions Dick Savitt and Billie Jean King (who also serves as one of the film’s executive producers), Jeanne Moutoussamy-Ashe, widow of Arthur Ashe, and more.

"American Masters," THIRTEEN's award-winning biography series, explores the lives and creative journeys of America's most enduring artistic and cultural giants. With insight and originality, the series illuminates the extraordinary mosaic of our nation's landscape, heritage and traditions. Watch full episodes and more at http://pbs.org/americanmasters. (PRNewsFoto/WNET) (PRNewsFoto/WNET)

“American Masters,” THIRTEEN’s award-winning biography series, explores the lives and creative journeys of America’s most enduring artistic and cultural giants. With insight and originality, the series illuminates the extraordinary mosaic of our nation’s landscape, heritage and traditions. Watch full episodes and more at http://pbs.org/americanmasters. (PRNewsFoto/WNET) (PRNewsFoto/WNET)

Gibson was born in Silver, South Carolina on August 25, 1927. At the age of three, her father moved the family north migrating to Harlem in 1930. Gibson was a tomboy who grew up loving sports, but disliked school so much that she started skipping classes at the age of 12 and, by 18, had dropped out of high school.  She played basketball, but “…paddle tennis started it all,” says Gibson, in a clip from a 1984 interview.

She learned to play that sport on the streets, but it was bandleader Buddy Walker, who was also the neighborhood play street director, who introduced her to tennis and The Cosmopolitan Club, a private black tennis club. At the club, she met Fred Johnson, the one-armed coach, who taught her how to play. Under the auspices of the American Tennis Association (ATA), an organization of African American players, she began to develop as a tennis player.  It was during this time that she met boxer Sugar Ray Robinson, who would become a friend and mentor.

Though a talented tennis player, Gibson was a street kid who lacked the genteel manner associated with the sport. It was under the tutelage of Dr. Hubert Eaton of Wilmington, NC and Dr. Robert W. Johnson of Lynchburg, VA, two African American physicians who loved tennis and helped young African Americans who wanted to play, that she flourished. She honed her skill, while receiving lessons in etiquette and the social graces, traveled and played in the segregated south, and even earned her high school degree.  Her success in tennis earned her an athletic scholarship (basketball and tennis) to Florida A&M, where she received a BA in 1955 at the age of 27. Yet, with all she achieved, she never felt comfortable with the black middle class.

She honed her skill, while receiving lessons in etiquette and the social graces, traveled and played in the segregated south, and even earned her high school degree. Her success in tennis earned her an athletic scholarship (basketball and tennis) to Florida A&M, where she received a BA in 1955 at the age of 27. Yet, with all she achieved, she never felt comfortable with the black middle class.

Gibson’s first appearance at the U.S. Nationals in 1950 is an extraordinary and dramatic story. Her triumphant return seven years later to win the U.S. Nationals in 1957 and then again in 1958 has been attributed to her coach at the time, Sydney Llewellyn (her second husband). In 1957 and 1958, Gibson was at the top of her game, winning major tournaments including at prestigious Wimbledon. Though now a world champion, Gibson was unable to make a living playing amateur tennis. In 1959, she turned professional, touring with the Harlem Globetrotters and played paid exhibition matches. Branching out to other areas, she recorded a jazz album for Dot Records, appearing on The Ed Sullivan Show, and even landed a role in a John Wayne/John Ford movie, The Horse Soldiers (1959), In the 1960s, she took up golf and in 1964 she became the first African American woman to become a member of the LPGA (Ladies Professional Golf Association).

In 1965, she married the love of her life, William Darben. Angela Buxton, Althea’s doubles partner and friend, and Sandra Terry, Darben’s niece, speak lovingly about their relationship, though Gibson and Darben’s marriage ended in 1975. Gibson would remarry in 1983 to former coach Llewellyn. Art Carrington, ex-professional player, tennis historian and Athea’s friend, recalls she married Llewellyn because she was invited to bring a spouse on a trip for former champions. Buxton shares that they were just very good friends and that Gibson felt Llewellyn had done a lot for her. Five years later, this marriage also ended in divorce. Gibson and Darben remained close, reuniting towards the end of her life.

By 1968, Gibson had stopped competing and for a while worked as a tennis teaching pro. In the years that followed, Gibson found it difficult to make ends meet. Was her failure to achieve financial success partially her own doing? As portrayed in the film, Gibson is crushed when she is turned away — unrecognized and unwelcome — at the on-site restaurant on U.S. Open Championship Day.

Depressed and impoverished, in 1996, Gibson called Buxton to say goodbye. In a generous outpouring of financial support, orchestrated by Buxton, the tennis community showed Gibson she was not forgotten. Gibson died September 28, 2003. She was 76.

Though Gibson’s accomplishments put her in the forefront of the struggle to eliminate segregation in tennis and to gain equal rights for players, she was a reluctant figure of the civil rights movement. “As far as Althea was concerned, it was not about representing the race,” says Arvelia Myers, Althea’s friend and tennis professional.  Says Billie Jean King, “Arthur and I used our tennis as a platform, that’s not what she wanted. She just wanted to play.”

Gibson’s athletic prowess was unmatched on the tennis court, making her a formidable competitor,” says Michael Kantor, executive producer of American Masters and tennis enthusiast. “Her story remains an important part not only of sports history and African American history, but of American cultural history.  American Masters is proud to share the story of this trailblazing athlete and extraordinary woman.” Continue reading

Virtuoso Reveals Its Top 10 & Hot10 Lists for Fall 2015 Travel

From Italy To Vietnam To Luxury Yacht Cruising, Virtuoso® Clients Lead The Way In Upscale Experiential Travel

The leading international luxury travel network, Virtuoso®, hosted its 27th annual Virtuoso Travel Week conference last week– an event akin to Fashion Week where travel buyers seek out the latest trends in luxury experiences by meeting with thousands of travel purveyors, all preferred partners of the network. At the center of this remarkable exchange sits Virtuoso, which is able to view the industry through a unique and very wide lens to assess what’s next on the horizon for luxury travel, which in turn sets the pace and demand for more mainstream vacations. Aided by the network’s proprietary data warehouse of more than $35 billion in transactions, Virtuoso has become recognized throughout the industry as an authoritative trend predictor, and has set its scope to determine the top destinations for the fall and early winter of 2015.

While summer is winding down, those needing to fulfill their wanderlust should not fret. Virtuoso says fall is actually a great time to travel. With summer vacation travel over, imagescorporate/business travel softens right after Labor Day, making fall “low season” for domestic and some international air carriers. So where to go next? While tried and true favorites still attract the bulk of business, Virtuoso is seeing the rise of more unique locales as it compares destinations with the most year-over-year demand.

At a time when reports show as many as four out of 10 people not taking a vacation in over a year, clients of the Virtuoso network, which caters to those seeking enhanced service and richer, more personalized travel experiences, are ramping up their journeys. Regarded as some of the most upscale and influential travelers, Virtuoso clients are more than four times more likely to have recently booked travel.

Today’s consumers purchase travel in a much more personalized way, looking for attributes in products and services that reflect who they are and the lifestyles they lead,” says Matthew D. Upchurch, Chairman and CEO for Virtuoso. “They self-identify based on how they view themselves, and they have a multitude of travel personalities depending on where they are going and who is traveling with them. Our goal is to create an enriching experience every time, whether they’re traveling to someplace more known like Europe or a destination further afar like Southeast Asia.”

THE VIRTUOSO TOP 10: The most popular destinations for fall leisure travel based on future bookings, these are the spots where people will be flocking:

1. Italy

2. Mexico

3. United Kingdom

4. South Africa

5. Australia

6. New Zealand

7. France

8. China

9. Germany

10. Canada

THE TOP 10 ANALYSIS: Europe continues to dominate the list of favored destinations, thanks in large part to the softer euro, and Italy has bypassed the summer’s top destination for Virtuoso travelers, the United Kingdom. With a 34 percent increase in air bookings alone, Canada is the fastest growing of the Top 10 Destinations.

THE VIRTUOSO HOT 10: As the countries seeing the biggest jump in year-over-year bookings, these are the destinations where more seasoned travelers will be venturing.

1. Vietnam (+270%)

2. India (+212%)

3. French Polynesia (+91%)

4. Spain (+53%)

5. Argentina (+46%)

6. Canada (+34%)

7. U.S. Virgin Islands (+32%)

8. Peru (+28%)

9. Costa Rica (+27%)

10. Netherlands (+25%)

THE HOT 10 ANALYSIS: This fall travelers are seeking the cultural appeal, favorable climate and relative value of Vietnam and India, and in a big way as both are seeing massive increases in future bookings. Less traditional European countries like Spain and the Netherlands are on the rise, while those looking for a seasonal switch will be heading to ArgentinaVirtuoso logo and Peru. And for those simply seeking sun, French Polynesia, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Costa Rica provide just the thing.

Despite the travel boom on a global level, with more than 1.1 billion people crossing borders last year, Virtuoso says its clients are seeking out highly personalized experiences. Luxury yacht cruising is seeing some of the strongest growth – up 15 percent when compared to last year – which is topped by expedition cruising, up 41 percent. Both surpass traditional ocean cruising, which is up 12 percent over last year.

Data is sourced from Virtuoso’s United States and Canadian-based travel agency members. The findings were announced during the group’s 27th annual Virtuoso Travel Week at Bella Resort & Casino in Las Vegas.

Hunger is Shear Madness!

Redken 5th Avenue NYC to Host Trim Hunger Cut-A-Thon to benefit City Harvest in support of Hunger Awareness Month.

In recognition of Hunger Awareness Month, Redken 5th Avenue NYC (5th Avenue between 46th and 47th Streets) will host the Trim Hunger Cut-A-Thon at the Redken Exchange on Thursday, September 10 from 10 AM-3:30 PM to benefit City Harvest, the world’s first food rescue organization dedicated to helping feed the nearly 1.4 million New Yorkers facing hunger. City Harvest exists to end hunger in communities throughout New York City and does this through food rescue and distribution, education, and other practical, innovative solutions.

Trim Hunger Logo (PRNewsFoto/Redken)

Trim Hunger Logo (PRNewsFoto/Redken)

Top Redken stylists will be giving haircuts, blow-outs and braids for a minimum donation of $25. Essie, also a sponsor of the event, will be offering “orange thumbie” manicures in their Roarrrrange shade as a symbol of support in the fight against hunger.

Redken 5th Avenue NYC (5th Avenue between 46th and 47th Streets) will host the Trim Hunger Cut-A-Thon at the Redken Exchange on Thursday, September 10 from 10 AM-3:30 PM to benefit City Harvest.

Redken 5th Avenue NYC (5th Avenue between 46th and 47th Streets) will host the Trim Hunger Cut-A-Thon at the Redken Exchange on Thursday, September 10 from 10 AM-3:30 PM to benefit City Harvest.

Trim Hunger is the most recent non-profit endeavor of Redken stylist Josif Wittnik, owner of Salon CTI and Day Spa and The Salon Professional Academy in Appleton, Wisc. Following a local project to help feed families in need in his community, Wittnik developed Trim Hunger to raise awareness for the cause and feed the hungry on a national scale

In addition, on September 27, Redken hopes to break the Guinness Book of World Records‘ existing record for the most people cutting hair at the same time when 22 Trim Hunger Cut-A-Thons will be held simultaneously at The Salon Professional Academies (TSPAs) across the nation.

Hunger is a cause that my wife and I have always supported from a global standpoint, but I was really inspired to take more action after I worked with a family in my community that was unable to put food on the table following an unexpected medical incident that left them with many bills to pay,” says Wittnik. “That’s when I realized that hunger is more than what we see on TV. There are families in our local communities who don’t know where their next meal will come from, and in New York especially, we have an opportunity to make an impact on so many lives. Thanks to the support from Redken and City Harvest, the Trim Hunger Cut-A-Thon brings community members together to work toward one common goal: to raise awareness and money for hunger.”City Harvest

Founded in 1982 as the world’s first food rescue organization, City Harvest (cityharvest.org, 6 E 32nd St, New York, NY 10016, (646) 412-0600) is dedicated to helping feed the nearly 1.4 million New Yorkers facing hunger. In the early 1980s, a group of ordinary citizens became troubled by the large number of fellow New Yorkers who didn’t have enough to eat. When they saw that local restaurants were discarding perfectly good food, these volunteers responded by enlisting friends and borrowing cars to transport the leftover food to where it was needed most. This idea led to the creation of City Harvest in 1982.

In the past In the past 33 years, the organization has distributed more than 500 million pounds of food to a network of more than 500 community food programs throughout New York City. The organization now delivers some 136,000 pounds of food daily and, this year, will collect 55 million pounds of excess food from restaurants, grocers, bakeries, manufacturers, and farms, and deliver it free of charge to community food programs across the city.

In addition to helping meet the immediate need for food, City Harvest takes a long-term approach to fighting hunger by partnering with residents, local organizations and businesses through Healthy Neighborhoods programs which increase the availability of affordable fruits and vegetables in low-income communities and provide the nutrition education and resources to maintain a wholesome, food-secure diet.

It costs City Harvest just 25 cents to rescue and deliver one pound of food in New York City, and with more than 1.7 million New Yorkers struggling to afford food for themselves and their families, a little bit goes a long way,” says Leslie Marino, General Manager, Redken US. “Redken’s Trim Hunger Cut-A-Thon will bring together both stylists and members of the community to help make an immediate impact on Redken 5th Avenue NYCthe fight against hunger in New York City.”

If you are not in New York City on September 10, you can still join Redken and City Harvest in the fight against hunger with an online donation, which will be immediately put to work to help put food it in the hands of hungry New Yorkers. To learn more about the Trim Hunger Cut-A-Thon, visit http://www.redken.com/whats-hot/trim-hunger/. To donate food directly to City Harvest, click here. To donate funds, click here. (93 cents of every dollar donated goes directly to support program work. City Harvest has been awarded Charity Navigator’s highest rating of four stars and meets all Better Business Bureau standards for charity accountability.)

Cole Haan Launches Pinch Campus Collection and Campaign for Fall 2015

Cole Haan has introduced the Pinch Campus Penney Loafer, a reinterpretation of a classic American silhouette, updated with innovative Cole Haan technology, as part of its Fall 2015 collection. First becoming popular on Ivy League campuses in the 1950s, the Pinch Penny Loafer has defined both American style and Cole Haan. Crafted according to traditional New England moccasin construction, the Pinch name is rooted from the technique cobblers’ use to pinch the leather on top of the shoe as it is sewn together. Cole Haan applies the same historic craftsmanship to this new collection.

Cole Haan Pinch Campus - The New Class Campaign Image 3 (PRNewsFoto/Cole Haan)

Cole Haan Pinch Campus – The New Class Campaign Image 3 (PRNewsFoto/Cole Haan)

Penny loafers have been unique since their inception in that they have moved between both form and casual fashion and men’s and women’s fashion. Acceptable for both genders and suitable to wear with everything from a suit to jeans and even shorts, penny loafers have long made a smooth transition from work to play. The unique style of the vamp of the shoe that gives them their name has even been transplanted onto a high-heeled (and therefor non-loafer) version for women. For men, the penny loafer has generally been worn without socks since the 1960s. This style was particularly popular then, and in the 1980s, where the penny loafer with a suit but no socks was emblematic of preppy fashion.

Cole Haan Pinch Campus - The New Class Campaign Image 1 (PRNewsFoto/Cole Haan)

Cole Haan Pinch Campus – The New Class Campaign Image 1 (PRNewsFoto/Cole Haan)

For the Fall 2015 season, Cole Haan is updating this classic silhouette with a redesigned interior, outfitted with an ultra-flexible and wearable sole, adding lightness, flexibility and cushioning. The generous storm welt allows for further protection during wet days. The Pinch Campus Penny Loafer Collection includes:

Women’s Pinch Campus Penny, $140: Available in Deep Forest, Crimson, Blazer Blue, Black, Black/Ivory, and Saddle Tan/Ivory
Men’s Pinch Campus Penny, $140: Available in Deep Forest, Crimson, Blazer Blue and Black
Men’s Pinch Campus Boot, $200: Available in Black and Chestnut

Coinciding with the launch, Cole Haan is releasing a new multi-channel campaign, entitled ‘The New Class‘ shot by photographer Christian Hogstedt

Cole Haan Pinch Campus - The New Class Campaign Image 2 (PRNewsFoto/Cole Haan)

Cole Haan Pinch Campus – The New Class Campaign Image 2 (PRNewsFoto/Cole Haan)

The campaign features an expansive cast of America’s best and brightest, including college Junior majoring in Political Science and Business Management Masha Markina, English Education graduate student Liam Flaherty, film MFA candidate Amelia Hassard, PhD student in Biomedical Engineering Eben Estell, and Cultural Critic Professor Margo Jefferson. The cast was chosen for their contributions to making the world a better place. Bound by infectious optimism and creativity, they span generations – but each individual’s story is closely tied to their place of work or study.

The Men’s and Women’s Pinch Campus Penny Loafer styles are available at Cole Haan stores and on Colehaan.com.