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Birthday Tribute: Monkee Meets Blonde, Gets Vertigo, Goes Gothic

February 14, 2012

A belated Happy February 13th Birthday to Monkee Peter Tork (b. 1942) and actress Kim Novak (b. 1933). When I discovered that painter Grant Wood (1891-1942), best known for his American Gothic, was also born on February 13th, I knew exactly what I wanted to do. My tribute is part of my ongoing “birthday clock” series. Here’s the final:February 13 birthday tribute showing caricatures of actress Kim Novak and Monkees musician Peter Tork in American Gothic painting parody with Vertigo clock, Hitchcock birds, and monkeys in background

American Gothic may well be the most parodied painting in history. Here’s the famous original (1930):American Gothic painting by artist Grant Wood

A larger detail image of our two birthday people:detail image for February 13 birthday tribute showing caricatures of actress Kim Novak and Monkees musician Peter Tork in American Gothic painting parody with Vertigo clock, Hitchcock birds, and monkeys in background

The Monkees were an American made-for-television band formed in 1966. The show’s producers held auditions for the band, and Tork supposedly got the job after his friend Stephen Stills auditioned, was turned down, and was asked if he had a better-looking musician friend. Ouch. The tv series only lasted two years, but the band became hugely successful, their first four albums going to No. 1.

Tork usually got the vocals for the Monkees’ zanier songs, my own personal favorite being Auntie Grizelda. He also co-wrote their second season closing theme, For Pete’s Sake.

Novak’s first big role was in Picnic (1955), based on the stage play. She’s best remembered for her dual role in Vertigo (1958), widely considered Alfred Hitchcock’s best film. She re-teamed with Vertigo co-star James Stewart for Bell, Book And Candle (1958), a comedy in which she played a witch.

Novak largely retired from films in the mid-60s, thus escaping the sad decline of so many stars. She had studied at the Art Institute of Chicago before being “discovered,” and today devotes much of her time to painting.

Here’s a publicity photo of Novak (circa late 1950s), along with the cover photo for the Monkees first LP (1966). Peter Tork is second from right.publicity photo for Hollywood actress Kim Novak and photo used for rock group The Monkees first record album showing members Mike Nesmith, Mickey Dolenz, Peter Tork, and Davy Jones

The clock in my illustration is a nod to the original Vertigo movie poster:poster for Alfred Hitchcock movie Vertigo starring Kim Novak and James Stewart

A close-up of the birthday clock, with witch’s hat, monkeys, and a few Alfred Hitchcock Birds thrown in for good measure:clock detail image from February 13 birthday tribute showing caricatures of actress Kim Novak and Monkees musician Peter Tork in American Gothic painting parody with Vertigo clock, Hitchcock birds, and monkeys in background

I’ll close with a couple of videos for your amusement: Peter Tork singing Auntie Grizelda, and a truly mind-boggling 9-minute slideshow of American Gothic parodies.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

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What do you think? Are you a Monkees fan? Should I have tried to squeeze Alfred Hitchcock into the drawing? Can you look at American Gothic without laughing?? Hope you’ll leave a comment.

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Other Posts You Might Enjoy:

Gypsy In The Morning: Django Reinhardt Alarm Clock

When Art And Rockabilly Music Collide

Sherlock Holmes: The Case Of The Scandalous Soap

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14 Comments leave one →
  1. February 14, 2012 10:46 PM

    Ahahahahahahahaha…You made me laugh about your version of American Gothic! Great job! Well finished with the three of them, Mark! 😀

    I only know Alfred Hitchcook from his fiction about the teens who act like detectives. I really love that story. It used to be my fav book/story to read when I was a teen. Also the TV series of those teen detectives used to play in Indonesia and all kids loved it!


    • February 15, 2012 2:12 PM

      Many thanks, Inge, so glad you enjoyed the post, and that it brought back happy memories. There’s something about that American Gothic painting that makes everyone laugh– that’s a big advantage when you’re trying to make a joke! Come to think of it, even the thought of Alfred Hitchcock makes me smile. : )

      Thanks, as always, for your kind support!


  2. February 15, 2012 10:07 AM

    Love the Monkees, loved Kim Novak in Veritgo. Auntie Grizelda is one of my all time fav Monkee tunes too. Come visit on PA and we can sing it karaoke:-) Your creativity never ceases to amaze me Mark!


    • February 15, 2012 3:41 PM

      I keep trying to imagine Peter Tork in the Jimmy Stewart Vertigo role. I keep failing… : P

      Auntie Grizelda and karaoke– man, there’s a thought! Count me in! Wait’ll you hear me sing– I make Tork sound like Frank Sinatra… : (

      Thanks so much for your support, Tracey! : )


  3. February 15, 2012 11:22 AM

    I do recall the Monkees but was never a fan. I also recall Kim Novak in Vertigo. Hitchcock was a master whose work is yet to be rivialed IMO. The American Gothic couple in the “twisted” American Gothic youtube cracked me right up. Most of all I took great delight in your cartoons. A belated Happy Valentine’s Day to you.


    • February 15, 2012 3:57 PM

      Hmm– what would Darwin have said about The Monkees? “Looks like we’re going backwards…” : )

      I, too, am a Hitchcock fan. His sense of style and use of pacing and suggestion to build suspense are worlds removed from the graphic violence of today’s so-called thrillers. You might enjoy this Youtube clip showing his cameo appearances in his own films.

      Many thanks for your kind comment, and a belated Happy St. Valentine’s Day to you as well!!


  4. February 18, 2012 1:55 PM

    I like the way you connected these two seemingly unrelated things and the stream of consciousness that flowed thereof! I loved the Monkees! I still do. They had some really good songs. Almost all the songs on every one of their albums were equally good. I didn’t really care for the TV show all that much. I think the satire was lost on me. Also enjoyed the Art spoofs. I think someone could make messing with that picture their life’s work (and has!) Ha ha! Interesting post. Looking forward to what you will come up with next!


    • February 19, 2012 5:13 PM

      Thanks so much, Linda. Many people have commented on my streak of unconsciousness– you’re the first one to see my brain’s other side… : )

      I liked the Monkees’ songs a lot, too. They were a classic case of a group that soared to glory with outside songwriters and producers, then demanded creative control and kinda sowed the seeds of their eventual demise. Very similar to what happened to the Beatles after they “outgrew” Brian Epstein, I guess.

      Lucky for us, you and I are clearly those rare creative geniuses who can seize creative control and make it work… : )

      Thanks again for your kind support!!


  5. robpixaday permalink
    February 26, 2012 2:13 PM

    Haaaaa! this is wonderful!!!!
    GENIUS work.

    Love those little birdies, especially.
    Your drawings have so much life in them!!!

    I didn’t watch The Monkees very often, was focused on classical music (such a nerd). I was an old kid when I was young. You know the kind? ANYWAY…

    Hitch in the drawing? No…glad you didn’t. Not his birthday, right? The references are super without him. And honestly, he could be his own clock. His bottom lip could be the second hand. (Ouch, that was mean.)

    “American Gothic” BEGS to be parodied. Now you’re inspiring me to read about Grant Wood. Could he have meant that?
    LOVED Bell, Book, and Candle!!!!!!! Piewacket! Super movie!!

    Wonderful wonderful work!


    • February 27, 2012 9:52 AM

      GENIUS… hmm… that’s taking me back to my schooldays when the teacher made me sit on a stool in the corner wearing a pointy cap that said “GENIUS.” Or did it say something else? I forget… : )

      “I was an old kid when I was young.” I know exactly the kind. I, too, was that kind. I read a book once that said human beings have to pass thru set developmental stages– and if you skip over one, you’ll have to deal with it later on, after everybody else has been there and gone. Could this possibly explain certain “artistic behavior” after everyone else has gotten it out of their system and become “mature”??

      Grant Wood was way off on Gothic. Those people shoulda been dressed all in black, with weird body piercings. Grant failed to do his research!! : P

      Thanks for always being so supportive and saying things that are gonna give me a big pointy head!!


  6. February 29, 2012 5:32 PM

    Hi, Mark! I’ve just watched the news about the death of Davy Jones, another member of The Monkees 😐


    • February 29, 2012 7:38 PM

      Hi, Inge! Yes, a surprising development– certainly not the kind of Monkee news we want to hear… : (


  7. November 13, 2014 9:40 PM

    I love the Monkees, Hitchcock, and parodies, and I am very happy our paths have crossed here today.


    • November 17, 2014 2:55 PM

      Monkees, Hitchcock, and parodies– an unbeatable combination!! I even feel a song coming on: Last Train To Vertigoville. Or possibly, Nightmare Believer… : )

      What a lovely comment, Ann, thank you. Delighted to meet you, and I, too, am very glad our paths crossed. I’m already looking forward to next time. : )


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