MEECHY MONROE, A YOUTUBE STAR FOR HER NATURAL HAIR LESSONS
Meechy Monroe, who achieved YouTube fame with hairstyle tutorials that empowered black women to embrace the natural hair movement and forgo harsh chemicals, died June 27 at a nursing home in Westmont, Ill. She was 32.
The cause was brain cancer, her mother, Patricia Moore, said.
Ms. Monroe was feeling unfulfilled in her marketing jobs, at PLS Financial Services and CareerBuilder.com, when she realized the key to her career success was atop her head.
A bad haircut in 2009 prompted her to cut off the tresses she had been perming from the age of 16 and to start over. She went online to research ideas for what she called her “transition,” and found inspiration in a web community of people who believed that black women should embrace the natural texture of their hair.
Many black women grow up with the notion that straight hair is healthy and easy to manage, while curly hair is messy and untamed and heavily braided hair is too ethnic, according to Ingrid Banks, an associate professor of black studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara
“What is deemed desirable is measured against white standards of beauty, which include long and straight hair (usually blonde), that is, hair that is not kinky or nappy,” she said in her book “Hair Matters: Beauty, Power and Black Women’s Consciousness” (2000).
The movement has continued to grow. In April, women cheered Michelle Obama’s decision to wear her hair naturally, and in February, Halle Berry arrived at the Oscars with natural curls.
Ms. Monroe recorded every inch of her progress, starting with a moment she — and many others making the transition — referred to as the “big chop.” Once she began to grow bouncy corkscrew curls, she said, women stopped her on the street: Did she like going natural? How did she maintain such a neat look? Did men still find her attractive?
She realized there was a world of women seeking guidance and said that “being natural means much more than just a look.”
“It says, for one, that you’re accepting of who you are, how you were created, and that you have the confidence to go against the norm,” she said in her first video, in 2010.
Ms. Monroe talked about transitions as a revolution for women freeing themselves from a lifetime of hot combs, perms and extensions, said her sister, Vaughn Colquitt, who also has a beauty channel on YouTube.
“It’s a huge step; it’s scary,” Ms. Colquitt said. “People cry through those phases.”
Ms. Monroe’s signature style was a “twist out” that involved twisting sections of her hair together with leave-in conditioner overnight and then untwisting and fluffing them into curls. There was also the “messy updo,” a “roll and tuck” and a “swoop to the back side puff.” Ms. Monroe demonstrated each step in front of her computer at home.
The videos took off, with some garnering more than a million views. Beauty brands began calling with endorsements, and in 2014, the sisters were hired to promote the American hair care company Huetiful in Paris.
“She became a celebrity in no time,” Ms. Moore said. “I was like, ‘Wait a minute, do we need a bodyguard for you?’”
Meechy Monroe was born Tameka Marie Moore on April 29, 1985, in Chicago. Her mother is an accountant; her father, Alexander Moore, is a retired warranty officer for the Chicago Transit Authority. She graduated from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, Ill.
In addition to her parents and Ms. Colquitt, she is survived by two other sisters, Katara Giles and Alexandria Moore; a grandfather, Grant Kelly; and a step-grandmother, Rosalind Kelly.
Ms. Colquitt gave Ms. Monroe the nickname Meechy in high school, and she chose the last name Monroe as an ode to Marilyn Monroe.
In 2014, Ms. Monroe had multiple strokes and was found to have aphasia, a language disorder that is caused by brain damage. In preparation for brain surgery that year, she shaved the curls that had turned her into a local celebrity and donated them to the nonprofit Locks of Love. A tumor was found during the procedure, and she received a diagnosis of brain cancer.
Through her chemotherapy treatments, she continued to promote the natural hair movement.
“I lost all my hair, I had the worst year of my life,” she told People magazine in 2015. “But you know what? I’m still the same person.”
ELSA MARTINELLI, ITALIAN MODEL AND ACTRESS
JULY 10, 201
Elsa Martinelli, an Italian fashion model turned actress whose Hollywood career included roles opposite Kirk Douglas in “The Indian Fighter” and John Wayne in “Hatari!,” died on Saturday in Rome. She was 82.
Her daughter, Cristiana Mancinelli Scotti, said the cause was cancer.
Ms. Martinelli’s modeling career was already on the upswing in 1955 when a photograph of her in Vogue was spotted by Mr. Douglas’s wife, Anne Buydens. He was producing “The Indian Fighter,” a western, and was seeking an actress to play Onahti, the daughter of a Sioux chief, who falls in love with his character, a scout leading a wagon train through Native American territory.
“There was a shot of an Italian girl — long dark hair, dark eyes — coming out of the water soaking wet, a man’s shirt clinging to her voluptuous body,” Mr. Douglas wrote in his autobiography “The Ragman’s Son” (1988). “Anne said, ‘This girl would make a fantastic Indian.’ She did look terrific.” He tracked her down in New York, but when he spoke to her by telephone she was skeptical that it was Mr. Douglas calling until he sang a song from his film “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.”
“Dio mio! Keerka Dooglas!” Mr. Douglas said she exclaimed.
Ms. Martinelli had relatively few lines, but Variety’s reviewer noticed: “Sex in the person of Elsa Martinelli, Italian actress introduced here, and the relationship of her Indian maid character with Douglas, is a story factor and ballyhoo point
She eventually chafed under the contract she signed with Mr. Douglas. He wrote that he ended the deal because she was impatient about the money she was being paid. But she insisted that she ended it after he lent her to Universal Pictures for “Four Girls in Town,” which she called a “very bad film.”
“I thought if he would do this for money, I would leave,” she told United Press International in 1961.
In “Hatari!” (1962) she portrayed a photographer nicknamed Dallas working with a group, led by Wayne, trapping African wildlife for sale to zoos. Her character’s attachment to the film’s scene-stealing elephant calves was captured memorably in scenes featuring the composer Henry Mancini’s song “Baby Elephant Walk.”
She told the website Cinema Retro in 2012 that she had gone to the location a month before the rest of the cast when the elephants were being born. “You see, the trick is to feed them right away,” she said. “That’s how you become their ‘mother.’ So they got used to me and would follow me everywhere.”
Her character was also Wayne’s love interest. “Signorina Martinelli not only attracts elephants,” A. H. Weiler wrote in The New York Times, “but also has eyes for that rugged ‘bwana,’ Mr. Wayne.”
Elsa Martinelli was born in Grosseto, in southern Tuscany, on Jan. 30, 1935. Her father Alfredo, was a railway station chief; her mother, Santina, was a homemaker. Young Elsa delivered groceries and worked as a bar cashier before her modeling career took off in her midteens after she was discovered by the rising designer Roberto Capucci. She was featured in his first collection and modeled in Paris and New York for Ford Models.
In 1956, she was described by The Sydney Morning Herald as “a kind of Audrey Hepburn with sex appeal.” The great Italian director Vittorio De Sica subsequently called her “the most stylized woman in the world.” Life magazine, in a photo spread, extolled her fashion sense but noted how limited her film wardrobe had been.
In “The Indian Fighter,” the magazine said, “she took off the squaw dress only long enough to cause a momentary sensation by wearing nothing at all.”
In 1957, she married Count Franco Mancinelli Scotti di San Vito — his mother reportedly objected to the union and expelled him from their palace in Rome — but, her daughter said, the marriage was annulled after several years. In 1968 she married Willy Rizzo, the Paris Match photographer and furniture designer, who died in 2013. She also worked as an interior and fashion designer.
In addition to her daughter, Ms. Martinelli is survived by two grandchildren, two great-grandchildren and several sisters.
In an acting career that shifted between Europe and Hollywood and peaked in the 1960s, Ms. Martinelli won the Silver Bear for best actress at the 1956 Berlin International Film Festival for the Italian comedy “Donatella.” Directors she worked for included Orson Welles (“The Trial”), Roger Vadim (“Blood and Roses”) and Elio Petri (“The 10th Victim”).
After the Locarno Film Festival in Switzerland paid tribute to her in 2012, she told Cinema Retro that she watched her films but thought of herself onscreen as someone else. “And then it happens that you say to yourself, ‘She could have done this,’ or ‘She could have done it that way,’” she said. “Yet mostly I say, ‘She was O.K.’”