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Archive for the 'Biography' Category

Happy Birthday, Ol’ Two-Gun!

Posted by indy on 22nd January 2014

January 22nd marks the 108th anniversary of the birth of Robert E. Howard.

Let’s everyone raise a toast of our favorite libation to his memory and honor the Legacy of what he left us by reading some of his words. You won’t go wrong on either account!

Happy birthday, Bob!

Serape 3

Posted in Biography, History, REH Celebration |

Tim Truman is the Guest of Honor at Howard Days 2013

Posted by indy on 18th February 2013

Like I was sayin’…Tim Truman is the Guest of Honor at  Robert E. Howard Days this year. Come and meet Tim at the Robert E. Howard Museum in Cross Plains, Texas on June 7th & 8th.

Here’s a bit of bio from Tim:

Timothy Truman has become one of its most original storytellers and stylists in the American comic book industry. As a writer and artist, he played a key role in developing the independent comics movement. His work on Grimjack (co-created with writer John Ostrander), was on the leading edge of a wave of the “grim and gritty” comics of the 1980′s In 1985, Truman continued his tear through the indy scene with Scout, the near-future saga set against the background of a ravaged United States. Both titles blended elements of pulp fiction, science fiction, and blue-collar social commentary that Truman has successfully explored throughout his career.

In 1989, Timothy took his brand of seedy, intricately textured, character-driven adventure to DC for Hawkworld, for which he received the 1991 European Haxtur Award. His interest in frontier and Native American history led him to write, draw, and self publish the highly-regarded graphic novel Wilderness: the True Story of Simon Girty, a biography of the infamous Revolutionary War-era renegade.

Timothy continued to explore Western themes with best-selling Texas author Joe R. Lansdale. Their brilliant take on DC Western anti-hero Jonah Hex is the stuff of legend, and won a prestigious Bram Stoker Award in 1996. The duo also worked together on The Lone Ranger and Tonto. Other projects have included Star Wars, The Spider, Turok: Dinosaur Hunter, The Prowler, The Kents, Black Lamb, and Justice League: Gatekeeper as well as two new Grimjack epics, Killer Instinct and The Manx Cat, for IDW Publishing and Comicmix. Most recently, Timothy collaborated with his son, author Benajmin Truman, on a western-horror miniseries starring their creation, the aging gunslinger Kit Hawken. The stories were collected in the graphic novel A Man Named Hawken.

Since 2006, Timothy has been a leading writer for Dark Horse Comics’ bestselling Conan titles. He is currently scripting the massive, 12-issue adaptation of Robert E. Howard’s King Conan novella, Hour of the Dragon.

As a commercial illustrator, Timothy has done book cover paintings for Subterranean Press and CD covers for Rhino Records and others, contributing artwork to releases from the Grateful Dead, Santana, Hot Tuna, Jim Lauderdale, Robert Hunter, and the late Irish blues guitarist Rory Gallagher. Also an accomplished guitarist and musician, he operates a small recording studio at his home in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

For more information about Timothy and his work, visit his website at

Posted in Biography, news, People, REH Days |

Robert E. Howard and The Outline of History by H. G. Wells

Posted by Jeff Shanks on 10th October 2011

A few months ago on the REHupa email list I brought up a question about The Outline of History by H.G. Wells and its presence in Howard’s library. For those who aren’t familiar with it, The Outline of History was a massive work by Wells that was essentially a macro-history of the world, from the formation of the earth to modern times. It was first published in a series of twenty-four soft-cover booklets in 1919, then in book form as a two-volume set in 1920. The Outline of History went through several significant revisions throughout Wells’s lifetime—particularly within the first few years of its publication—so for anyone attempting to look at the influence of this work on Howard’s fiction, it becomes very important to determine exactly which edition Howard had in his library.

Steve Eng’s list of Howard’s library in The Dark Barbarian records a four-volume set of The Outline of History with four individual accession numbers for the Howard Payne University library. As the set was no longer in the HPU holdings, no publication information was given to indicate which edition Howard owned other than to note that the four-volume version exists in numerous printings. When compiling the online version of the “Robert E. Howard Bookshelf,” Rusty Burke followed his standard practice of listing the earliest American edition for books no longer in the HPU holdings. For The Outline of History this is the 1920 two-volume 2nd edition published by Macmillan (the 1st edition being the 1919 serialized version). A 3rd revised edition was also published by Macmillan in 1921 in both single volume and two-volume versions.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Biography, History, Howard's Writing, Influences |

A Tribute to Glenn Lord

Posted by indy on 23rd May 2011

Like I was sayin’…Robert E. Howard Days always has all kinds of neat little surprises happening that attendees get first crack at. This year is no different, and now we have a second book making it’s debut at this year’s festivities.

Howard Days 2011 Co-Guest of Honor Dennis McHaney is bringing Anniversary: A Tribute to Glenn Lord and The Howard Collector. This McHaney authored & edited anthology is filled not only with tributes to our Howard Mentor, Glenn Lord, but it also contains a history of Glenn’s seminal Howard magazine, The Howard Collector. For the hardcore collector, five REH stories that appeared within the pages of THC are also reprinted in this volume. Contributors to this Anniversary Anthology include: Don Herron, Morgan Holmes, Roy Thomas, Dennis McHaney, Patrice Louinet, Fred Blosser, James Reasoner, Frank Coffman, Rusty Burke, Leo Grin, Paul Herman, Bill Cavalier, Damon Sasser, Barbara Barrett and Rob Roehm. Wow, quite a line-up to sing the praises of the World’s #1 REH Fan, Mr. Glenn Lord!

The first printing of 50 copies of Anniversary will be available to contributors and attendees only at Howard Days 2011 in Cross Plains. The book will then go on sale via Lulu on the Monday following HD for the great price of $20.

And while I’d like to show y’all the cover to this exciting tribute volume, Dennis is keeping it under wraps until Howard Days. He assures me it is wonderful – and that’s a pretty good description of our friend Glenn Lord, too.

See you in Texas in two weeks!

Posted in Biography, Glenn Lord, People, REH Days |

Famous Finnski

Posted by indy on 25th April 2011

Our pal Keith West has posted a nice interview with REHupan Mark Finn, the erudite author of BLOOD & THUNDER: The Life and Art of Robert E. Howard, over at his blog:

Indy sez: check it out. You’ll be glad you did! (And Mark’s updated and added-to Blood & Thunder biography is on the way from the Robert E. Howard Foundation Press later this year!)

Posted in Biography, People |

News from Cross Plains

Posted by Rusty Burke on 18th January 2011

I thought it would be fun, during this Cross Plains Centennial Year, to share some news stories from old issues of the Cross Plains Review. Most of what I’ll be sharing is from the period that Robert Howard lived there, 1919-1936, and I’m limited by the photocopies I have available, which I brought home several years ago from a visit to the outstanding Southwest Collection at Texas Tech University. But even if we’re a bit limited in our range, I think we can find a lot of material of interest throughout the year.

First up, from January 18, 1929:

NOTICE TO THE PUBLIC: It seems that there is an unusually large number of Donkeys running at large within the corporate limits of the city and as there is a number of complaints coming in each day it has become necessary to call upon the citizenship to assist in getting rid of them. If any of you have children who own them we ask that you take some steps to keep them corralled or tied so that they will not be running at large. Those who find them loose in their yards ruining their shrubbery etc. please notify the mayor and some steps will be taken to dispose of them. — Martin Neeb, Mayor

On Saturday January 12, a party was held to celebrate the eighth birthday of Elizabeth Morris. Among those in attendance were Bobby Lee Westerman, Lorena Childs, Joela Henderson, Nancy and Bobby Henkel, Princy and J.P. Henderson, Oliver Davis, Cornelius Elliot, Leo and Emily Gray McDermitt, Fay Hyser, Wynne Ruth Payne, Billie Ruth Loving, Billy Joe Coleman, S.R. Jackson Jr.

Dr. and Mrs. R. Robertson returned from Temple last Sunday where Mrs. Robertson had undergone an operation and been confined to the sanitarium there for a period of five weeks. [REH note: Dr. Robertson owned the Cross Plains Drug Store, where REH worked for a time in 1928; he appears as “Dr. Robinson” in Post Oaks and Sand Roughs.]

The Piggly-Wiggly was running some specials on Saturday, including 3 pounds of Morning Joy coffee for $1.53, 10 pounds of “good spuds” for 25 cents, and Armour Star hams at 32 cents a pound.

The Liberty Theatre (“Where Everybody Goes”) was showing: Friday, Buster Keaton and Marceline Day in “The Cameraman,” along with the comedy short “Do Gents Snore?” and Free China Ware Day; Saturday, “Silent Trail” with Peggy Montgomery and Bob Custer, with “Should Tall Men Marry?” (Stan Laurel, sans Hardy); Monday, Sally Phipps and Charles Morton in “None But the Brave,” as well as an unnamed comedy; Tuesday, “Dog Justice” featuring The Dog – Ranger, with chapter 9 of the serial “The Scarlet Arrow” and a comedy; and on Wednesday and Thursday, Victor McLaglen [one of Howard’s favorite actors, see REH Goes to the Movies], June Collyer and Earle Foxe in “Hangman’s House” [based on a novel by Donn Byrne which REH commented on in a letter to Harold Preece, see Robert E Howard’s Bookshelf], another comedy, and Free China Ware Day for Ladies.

Moving ahead a few years, the Review of January 18, 1935 reported:

THRICE A WEEK RAIL SERVICE IS EXPECTED SOON: Officials of the M.K.&T. railroad are scheduled for a hearing before the railroad commission Tuesday morning, when they will make application to run a train only every other day from DeLeon to Cross Plains. The commission is expected to grant the request.

D.C. Dobbins, division superintendent, said last week that the action was necessary because of the altered schedule on the main line, whereby the local train can make connection only every other day. He expressed the opinion that the thrice a week service would be only temporary and that the present schedule might be resumed in the Fall….

In Cross Plains a petition of cooperation was circulated last week, assuring the authorities of the M.K.&T. that this city is in complete accord with any action taken toward maintaining the road through the present adversities.

NEW DOCTOR TO LOCATE IN CROSS PLAINS SOON: Dr. T.G. Edwards, of Dublin, will locate in Cross Plains the latter part of this month or the first of February, the Review was authentically advised yesterday. Dr. Edwards is a M.D. of several years experience, yet is said to be a comparatively young man. [REH note: Dr. Edwards signed REH’s death certificate.]

Brunk’s Comedians, a tent repertoire theatre, was coming to town Monday for a seven-day run, sponsored by the Tommy Aiken American Legion Post.

Anderson Chevrolet was moving out some used cars to make room for 1935 models. You could get a 1929 Chevy truck for $85, or a 1930 sedan for $225.

At the Liberty, Bob Steele was featured in the western film “The Man from Hell’s Edges,” showing along with chapter 9 of the serial “Red Rider,” a cartoon and a comedy short; a Sunday Matinee introduced Will Rogers as “Mr. Skitch,” plus comedy and cartoon, the engagement running on Monday and Tuesday as well; and Wednesday and Thursday would offer “Jealousy,” starring Nancy Carroll and Donald Cook.

For January 19, let’s back up to 1934, and some sad news:

C.V. RAMSEY KILLED IN TRAGIC ACCIDENT: Throng of Friends Pay Last Respects Sunday Afternoon: Funeral rites for C.V. Ramsey, 32, local automobile mechanic who was fatally injured when he fell from the back of a truck Saturday afternoon, were held from his home at Cottonwood Sunday, with Rev. Ross Respess and Dr. C.A. Voyles, Baptist ministers officiating. Interment was made in the Cottonwood cemetery.

C.V. Ramsey, who was employed by Anderson Chevrolet Company, had gone out with E.O. Adams, local truck contractor, to listen for a defect in the motor before repairing it. He told Adams that he would step to the back of the truck and listen for trouble in the differential. It is believed that he slipped from the rear of the truck catching his foot in a trailer hitch. He fell to the pavement striking his head a severe blow and breaking a leg. The accident happened a half mile beyond the eastern city limits.

Dr. J.G. Rumph, local physician, was summoned and immediately rendered first aid before placing the injured man in an ambulance en route for a Santa Anna hospital. He died as the ambulance reached Coleman.

Surviving are his wife and infant daughter, and mother Mrs. Missouri Ramsey.

About 1,000 friends gathered at the Ramsey family home at Cottonwood to pay final respect to C.V. who had resided there his entire life. People were present from practically every city or town within a radius of 100 miles.

Pall bearers were F.R. Anderson, Babe Wood, Sidney Ratcliff, Bud Strahan, Howard Strahan and R.P. Bowden.[REH note: Howard wrote about the death of “Skeezix” Ramsey in a letter to August Derleth, July 4, 1935.]

At the Liberty, “Black Beauty,” starring Esther Ralston, Alexander Kirkland, and Gavin Gordon was the current offering, to be followed on Monday and Tuesday by Elissa Landi, Paul Lukas and Nils Asther in “By Candlelight,” and on Wednesday and Thursday “The Stoker,” with Monte Blue and Noah Beery.

Posted in Biography, Cross Plains, Movies |

Happy Birthday, Margaret McNeel!

Posted by Rusty Burke on 8th January 2011

Today, at the Family Life Center of the First Baptist Church in Cross Plains, there is a celebration of the 80th birthday of a very special lady, Margaret Ann McNeel. I know that a lot of REHupans and other REH fans will be here in spirit as we honor one of the founders of Project Pride and Howard Days.

By 1988, some of the citizens of Cross Plains recognized a need for citywide clean-up and beautification. Margaret McNeel and Roylene Wilson decided to do something about it, and they talked John and Bettye Sue Adams, and Gene and Betty Greenwood, into going with them to a meeting of a beautification group in Baird. They came back from that meeting inspired, and the end result was the formation of Project Pride, a non-profit organization with the avowed purposes of “keeping Cross Plains a clean, attractive, and developing community and … preserving and documenting the history and heritage of the area.” Early projects included painting some of the downtown buildings and placing barrel planters along Main Street. Then the group learned that Dr. I.M. Howard’s old home was for sale. They knew that more and more visitors had been coming to Cross Plains because of Robert E. Howard (notably, the visit of ten members of REHupa in 1986, by mayoral proclamation the very first “Robert E. Howard Day” in Cross Plains), so several members of Project Pride, including Margaret Ann, put up the money to make a down payment on the house, with the goal of restoring it and turning it into a museum.

In that effort, REHupans pitched in with donations and publicity, and I even made the drive up from Houston to help with a couple of work days to clean the place up. (Okay, maybe I wasn’t all that much help, but my intentions were good.) From that time on, REHupa and Project Pride established an enduring relationship of friendship and cooperation. It wasn’t long before Project Pride established Robert E. Howard Days as an annual tradition in June, with REHupans helping out by attending, and eventually providing programming for the event.

Margaret Ann was a steady presence through all of this, particularly in organizing the volunteers who staff the Howard House and in preparations for the Friday night banquets. But Margaret and her daughter Susan never really compartmentalized — they were everywhere, helping with everything. In the past few years, though, Margaret’s presence has been missed, as health problems exacerbated by the December 2005 wild fires that swept through Cross Plains forced her to cut back her activities.

Another of Margaret’s contributions to Robert E Howard fans has been her willingness to share her knowledge of Cross Plains history, and her collection of historical photographs. My guidebook, Robert E. Howard in Cross Plains, and Mark Finn’s biography, Blood and Thunder: The Life and Art of Robert E. Howard, both benefitted greatly from Margaret’s assistance. Margaret and Susan have also gone out of their way over the years to introduce me to people who have interesting stories to tell about Cross Plains and the Howards. It was they, for instance, who introduced me to Hester Hounshell, who astounded Glenn Lord, Patrice Louinet, and me with the photo of REH and Patch standing at the front gate of his home.

Margaret Ann Clark was born on January 3, 1931, to Thomas Jefferson (Jeff) and Jesse Mae Adams Clark. Her father was a farmer and for some years operated a grocery store; her mother worked at Higginbotham’s General Merchandise. Margaret graduated from Cross Plains High School in 1948, and on June 3 of that year married Carl Fred (“Pat”) McNeel. They had two children, Carl Fred III (1949-2000), and Susan Ann (born 1955), who has demonstrated the same commitment to serving the Cross Plains community that her mother has displayed. Pat operated an oil-field supply company for a number of years before ill health caused him to turn, in 1967, to running an insurance business. Margaret Ann worked with him in the insurance office until his death in 1985, at which time she sold the business to Gene Greenwood, but continued to work in the office until she finally retired in 2007.

Margaret Ann McNeel exemplifies the kind of life of service that makes the Project Pride motto, “A Caring Community,” no empty slogan. She has cared enough to give abundantly of her time and talents to make her town a nicer place to live and work, and not only Cross Plains, but we Robert E. Howard fans, have benefitted greatly from all she has done. So as I join Robert E. Howard fandom in saluting and celebrating the life of this wonderful lady, I’ll also urge everyone to try to emulate her spirit of service in your own community. As Margaret Ann and all the other dedicated volunteers of Project Pride have shown, each of us has it in us to make the world a little bit better every day.

Happy Birthday, Margaret Ann! And may there be many more!

Posted in Biography, Cross Plains, news, People, REH Days |

A New REH Manifesto

Posted by indy on 18th October 2010

Mark Finn, familiar to Howard fans all over the world for his marvelous REH biography, Blood and Thunder: The Life and Art of Robert E. Howard, has a number of words for all the recent internet misinformation regarding Ol’ Two-Gun. If you would like to read the entire Manifesto, just click on the CRITICISM tab at the top of this page. What follows here is Mark’s opening salvo.

A New Robert E. Howard Manifesto

I am a fan of Robert E. Howard, the Texas author who created a multitude of unique characters, wrote original and inventive fiction, defined the genre of epic fantasy as we understand it, and inspired me to become a professional writer. There are tens of thousands of other fans just like myself. As fans of Robert E. Howard and his works, we are interested in reading more about our favorite author. We are interested in sharing and exchanging new ideas about his life and work, and we actively seek out these new ideas online, in print, and elsewhere.

What we do not want to see are semi-uninformed retreads of the same discussions that were in vogue circa 1984. The field of Howard Studies is alive and well, with new discoveries and voices appearing all the time.  Interest in the author is high and remains so. If you have a thought or an opinion, even a controversial or untested one, and want to share it with the world at large, we encourage that you do so.

We expect responsibility and accountability on your part. We are not interested in your grand pronouncement on a subject which has yet to be settled by people who have spent decades studying the issue at hand. We expect you to do your homework. There are a number of websites and literally stacks of new books that likely cover or answer most of your questions regarding Robert E. Howard. To not utilize those sources when doing your research smacks of willful ignorance and will not be tolerated by the fans of Robert E. Howard.

If you want to write a review about how much you didn’t like Kull: Exile of Atlantis, have at it. Take it apart for any and all textual reasons you choose to invoke. We may not agree because Howard’s work isn’t for everyone, and we understand that. But the minute you start bringing Robert E. Howard’s life story into your Kull review, it will garner a much more careful reading, and if you don’t have your facts straight, or your opinions backed up by same, then we will call you on it.

The online Robert E. Howard fanbase calls itself the “Shield Wall.” Some writers who have been on the business end of the Shield Wall’s attacks have accused us of being bullies and overly-obsessed for the protective stance we take. While it is not our intention to bully anyone, and while we may get a little carried away on occasion, let me be very clear here as to why this is so: Robert E. Howard has not had a voice for 75 years now. For four decades after his death, he had very few advocates who would defend him against the libel and slander of those who stood to profit from his work. He has been misunderstood and misrepresented for years. The Shield Wall’s goal has been to stop in its entirety the kind of character assassination employed by L. Sprague de Camp and others who would adopt his methodology.

Consider this a challenge to survey the amount of work that has been done in Howard Studies in the last ten years alone and then try to come up with your own take on a topic or angle of discussion that has not been beaten to death. Do not make the mistake that so many others have made; just because Robert E. Howard isn’t considered a “classic” author by the literary establishment that you can beat his literary reputation (or his personal life) like a rented mule and you will not get kicked for your efforts.

We expect you to accord Robert E. Howard the same respect as any other 20th century American author with continued and perennial popularity. No more back handed compliments. No more snide insinuations. No more rampant and irresponsible speculation with no basis of fact or evidence to bolster it. And for God’s Sake, no more “oedipal complex” crap, either. Those theories are thirty years out of date, and we are sick and tired of seeing it. Give us something new, or keep your parochial and backwards thinking to yourself.

Mark Finn

Author of Blood & Thunder: The Life and Art of Robert E. Howard

And Commander of the Texas Shield Wall

Posted in Biography, Howard's Writing, Influences, L. Sprague de Camp, news |

Howard Bio Piece & Cross Plains — Then and Now

Posted by Damon Sasser on 8th June 2010

I came across this write-up on Howard and Cross Plains.  It appears to be written by a journalism student from the Mayborn School of Journalism in Denton. Thankfully, he writes like an actual journalist and not some whacked-out blogger:

It’s dark outside and Robert E. Howard is wrapping up his latest story. Twelve hours banging away at his Underwood typewriter—a normal day’s work, short even, by his standards. Sometimes he writes for 18 hours.  He has to. He needs the money. The medical bills for his mother keep rising. Lately, ever since the operation on her spleen, he is constantly taking breaks from writing to feed her, change her clothes and bathe her. 

He wishes he could take a break now and go boxing. He wishes he had a beer. But with the pulp magazines rejecting half his stories, he has to work twice as hard to break even. Locked away in a tiny room next to his mom’s, he is putting the finishing touches on a story called “Red Nails.” It is his final adventure about Conan the Barbarian, the culmination of everything he wants to say about his favorite character.  There is gore, sex, action and mystery, and after 21 stories, he feels he’s finally got it right. This is his best one yet.

The whole piece can be found here.

Another item of interest I found is a split-screen postcard showing downtown Cross Plains, then and now.  Sure hasn’t changed much:

Posted in Biography, Cross Plains, History, REH Days |

The Whole Wide World on NPR

Posted by Damon Sasser on 17th February 2010

Movie critic Leonard Maltin has a new book out titled 151 Best Movies You’ve Never Seen.  One of the 151 movies featured is The Whole Wide World.  The book is profiled at the NPR website, with an audio interview of Maltin. Here is The Whole Wide World review from the book:

The Whole Wide World

Directed by Dan Ireland
Screenplay by Michael Scott Myers
Based on the memoir One Who Walked Alone by Novalyne Price Ellis
Actors: Vincent D’Onofrio, Renee Zellweger, Ann Wedgeworth, Harve Presnell, Benjamin Mouton, Michael Corbett, Helen Cates

At the same time moviegoers were discovering Renee Zellweger in the smash hit Jerry Maguire, a distributor was attempting to generate interest in a much smaller-scale film featuring the young actress — but without the name value of Tom Cruise to help it along.

The Whole Wide World is a compelling drama about a most unusual relationship between a prim, unworldly Texas schoolteacher and aspiring writer named Novalyne Price and an eccentric but fascinating young man named Robert E. Howard. He lives with his mother, talks out loud as he clatters away on his typewriter, and has few if any social skills, but unlike Novalyne he is making a living through his words — as the creator of the pulp magazine heroes Conan the Barbarian and Kull the Conqueror!

Howard is played by the gifted Vincent D’Onofrio, whose attention-grabbing performance in Stanley Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket (1987) propelled him to the front ranks of young character actors. Subsequent films include Mystic Pizza, JFK, Ed Wood (in a memorable cameo as Orson Welles), and Men in Black. In recent years he’s become a familiar face to television viewers on Law & Order: Criminal Intent.

Only an actor with the skill and range of D’Onofrio could pull off a role as peculiar as Robert E. Howard and help us understand what Novalyne Price saw in him. Michael Scott Myers based his expressive screenplay on her memoir One Who Walked Alone.

Zellweger is equally believable as the teacher who hasn’t experienced much of life as yet but finds herself in the thrall of Howard’s company — even though each time they get together, she doesn’t know what to expect. They develop a deeply felt friendship even though it (apparently) never becomes a sexual partnership.

Incidentally — or not so incidentally — the film was made in Texas, where it takes place, and where Zellweger got her first film and television experience in locally made features like Dazed and Confused. Little did she dream that this modest film would finally reach theaters the same month as the Hollywood movie that would change her life. Yet the experience of making The Whole Wide World stayed with her: when she won her Best Supporting Actress Academy Award years later for Cold Mountain she thanked D’Onofrio for “teaching me how to work.”

The Whole Wide World also changed the life and career of Dan Ireland. The cofounder of the Seattle International Film Festival, he was determined to parlay his lifelong love of film into a career behind the camera. He has shown great care in his choice of projects and while he’s never had a boxoffice smash, he has made some excellent films. You’ll find another one of them, Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont, elsewhere in this volume.

Posted in Biography, Movies |