Tuesday, September 9, 2014

National Treasures

Doug: I've had this idea in my head for a long time -- really since a year ago when I was in a conversation about some of the American greats. Today I'd like you to pontificate on those luminaries in the world of pop culture who are treasures to your nation -- and we'll certainly cast this net wide so our non-American friends can love on their own entertainers, sports figures, etc.

Doug: The conversation, as I remember it, began with a discussion on some of Hollywood's treasured performers from its golden age. It segued quickly to those folks who are presently working and which of them could even at this point be considered "American treasures". I nominated Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep, not only for the duration of their careers but the scope and diversity of their talents. Both played roles as young actors, both have been renowned for comedic as well as dramatic roles, both have starred and have been in supporting roles, and both have progressed through human aging and have mastered roles at all stages along the way.  There were other actors and musicians bandied about in a day-long conversation (that in teaching occurs for six minutes at a time, every 54 minutes. Hall duty!).

Doug: To get us started today, I'll leave Hanks and Streep on the table, and add Vin Scully, the voice of the Los Angeles Dodgers for the past 66 seasons. At one time the voice of not only the Dodgers but of all of Major League Baseball through his work on the MLB Game-of-the-Week as well as the play-offs and World Series, Scully has been a steady, reliable commentator who generally works alone -- always painting an accurate picture of the game for his listeners. In the world of American sport, he is without peer in the broadcasting field.

Doug: So let's hear it -- who are your National Treasures from the worlds of film, television, music, and sports?


Edo Bosnar said...

Well, even though I'm American, I figure everyone else will cover the US (and probably Canada and the UK), so I'll toss out a few from my adopted country, Croatia (and I'll try to stick to those who have, or at least should, have some recognition on the wider global stage).
In the field of sports, there's tons of athletes who've had impressive local and international careers, especially soccer, basketball, waterpolo, handball and tennis players (with regard to the latter, look who just won the U.S. Open!), but I think one about whom most Croats will readily agree is pro skier Janica Kostelic. She's not active any more, but when she was, she was a force to be reckoned with, winning races in all of the alpine events and bringing home a virtual treasure chest full of World Cup and Olympic medals.

In music, someone I consider a real national treasure for Croatia, although she's hardly even recognized here by the general public, is classical guitarist Ana Vidovic. She's just such a wonderful talent. Here's a link to her home page, which has some audio and video clips of her performances, although I'd recommend just going to YouTube. Pick any one of those.

Steve Does Comics said...

Oooh, let's see. Off the top of my head, I'd go for:

Michael Palin
George Martin
Kate Bush
Dr Who (He is a real person - honestly)
Joanna Lumley
Keith Richards
David Attenborough

Garett said...

Several years ago, CBC ran a tv series called The Greatest Canadian. The public voted, and the Top 10 Canadians are here:
The Greatest Canadian

Yes Wayne Gretzky is on the list, but he only comes in at #10. An athlete who comes ahead of him is Terry Fox at #2, who ran across the country after having one leg amputated, to raise money for cancer research. Also on the list, although not in pop culture:
#9- Alexander Graham Bell, inventor of the telephone.
#6- Lester B. Pearson, Nobel Peace Prize winner and founder of the modern concept of peacekeeping.
#4- Frederick Banting, discoverer of insulin.
#1- Tommy Douglas, founder of Medicare.

Since then, I'd add Georges St. Pierre for sports, representing the best of martial arts. For actors, I'm going to say...William Shatner! For being Captain Kirk, and remaining entertaining in one way or another for all these decades. Also astronaut Chris Hadfield, who recently played his guitar and sang Space Oddity in space--good balance of personality traits.

Anonymous said...

Alexander Graham Bell was SCOTTISH not Canadian !!!!! My late father was Scottish and he'd have had a fit if he'd read that !!!

Gary said...

Since I'm from Michigan:

Bob Seger
Ted Nugent
Barry Sanders
Steve Yzerman
Ernie Harwell

And I'll add Charlton Heston just because.

William said...

I'm going to have to put Stan Lee up there as an American national treasure. Excelsior!!! Nuff said.

Garett said...

Haha, well we'll give you half of Bell, Colin. Born in Scotland, but lived and died in Canada.

Anonymous said...

As a US American, looking at their respective careers, I would have to say Linda Ronstadt and Miles Davis are National Treasures. When one thinks about what they were able to do, not only in their chosen fields but in stretching the boundaries of said fields, they have left a lasting impact on our country.

And to echo William, Stan Lee, not only for what he did in those early days, but in being able to push the field of comics to what it encompasses today.

The Prowler ( (Bitches Brew) ).

Anonymous said...

Well in Trinidad the first thing that comes to mind when one mentions 'national treasures' is usually someone like retired cricket great Brian Lara. My friends in Commonwealth countries like the UK, India or South Africa would recognize that name instantly. I assume most Americans might not know much about him because cricket is not a major sport there.

- Mike 'casual sports fan' from Trinidad & Tobago.

Abe Lucas said...

Bob Dylan.

He changed popular music forever. Lyrics before Dylan were usually of the most banal sort but after the likes of "A Hard Rain's a Gonna Fall", "Mr. Tambourine Man" (the original version), "Desolation Row", and "Sad-Eyed lady of the Lowlands"--to name but a few of his songs--popular music was transformed into true art.

If Dylan had ceased writing and touring after 1966, he'd still be among the legends of pop music but like all great artists, Dylan was a restless chameleon who changed from one album and one year to the next, and in maddeningly frustrating ways and he remains so over fifty years later, still touring, still recording, and always an enigma, both lyrically and personally. Dylan is a tough survivor who has always stayed true to his artistic vision, no matter how successful or unpopular it may be.

pete doree said...
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