We'll put our six against their six anytime.
This cover of Midnight from today in 1968 gets us back into more tolerable tabloid territory after some hair-raising recent examples from National Spotlite dealing with rape and incest. Today we deal merely with scientists resurrecting the dead. Since they chose experimental subjects of no particular importance, it got us thinking about six people who could do some actual good if brought back. We restricted ourselves to figures from the pulp and post-pulp eras—no Cleopatra or Leonardo DaVinci. Here's our list:
George Orwell, because his wit and political insight are sorely needed in this day and age.
Babe Ruth, because we never saw him play, and we love the idea of someone who was great without taking what he did very seriously.
Marilyn Monroe, because nobody was better on a movie screen, and also because one of her most valuable qualities—usually overlooked—was how her ditzy characters always reduced supposedly smarter men to weak little boys.
Martin Luther King, Jr., so whenever some multi-millionaire cable pundit professes an understanding of him we can go straight to the source and hear: “I was against you and everyone like you.”
Albert Einstein, because perhaps only he could convince the growing ranks of proud know-nothings that intelligence, learning, and worldliness are good qualities.
Paul Rader, Rudy Nappi, George Gross, or any one of about a dozen other departed illustrators, because: more art.
So there you have it. We had a difficult time coming up with six, but after a few days playing around with about a dozen names we narrowed it down to a group we think would really enrich our existence. Honorable mentions: Amelia Earhart, Willie Mays, George Carlin, Richard Pryor, Elmore Leonard, et al. Maybe you would find choosing easier. Give it some thought and see what your list looks like.
She's not out of the woods yet.
This is your regular reminder that Michel Gourdon was a top notch illustrator, though his brother Alain was the one who attained legendary status. Michel was more of a workhorse, though, painting many hundreds of paperback fronts, which probably contributed to him producing the occasional less-than-stellar effort. But this piece for Pierre Courcel's, aka Roger Jean Tribot's La haine qui rôde, aka The Hatred that Lurks, is Michel at his best. The sports car and female figure are nice, but the background of trees and sunlight is particularly beautiful, we think. It's from 1965 for Editions Fleuve Noir, entry #483 in its long-running Collection Spécial-Police.
I had a pretty flimsy excuse for inviting you over.
We featured a very nice shot of U.S. actress Marilyn Joi last year, but she deserves a rerun, so here she is again, chilled out, sporting an afro, and looking like she has something naughty on her mind. The shot was made in 1973 as a promo for the blaxploitation flick Coffy. The fact that the photo exists is a bit is unusual due to the fact her role in the film was so brief she never got screen credit. She was one of the prosties in the pimp King George's stable, competition for an infiltrating Pam Grier, who was on a revenge mission. Joi probably got fifteen seconds of screen time, which may be why this photo is often misattributed. It's Joi, though. As proof there she is below in a screen grab from the movie.
You love me for my innocence? How sweet. Um... about that—remember how I said I had an interesting night?
Above, Virgin No More by Charles E. Colohan, author of Accidental Husband and Overnight Blonde. This one is from Quarter Books and was published in 1949. Quarter usually had beautiful art, but it was often unattributed, this one included.
I think I've finally got his strategy figured out. Every time he throws a punch he hits me.
William Campbell Gault was a fan of sports—or at least of using sports as a backdrop for his fiction. In The Canvas Coffin the boxer hero Luke Pilgrim wakes up the morning after a tough title fight and fears he may have killed Brenda Vane, the woman he escorted to his victory party. He can't quite remember, though, what with all those blows to the head, but she's definitely dead, and he needs to unpuzzle the mystery before he ends up in prison. As set-ups go, this is a nice one. Guys who think they may have committed murder are staples of crime fiction and film noir, but the idea of making the character a concussed boxer is clever. Gault wrote about twenty sports thrillers, so he knew his stuff. Illustrator William George knew his stuff too, and produced a nice cover for this Dell paperback, dated 1954.
Theft becomes death in the blink of an eye.
Last week we shared a brilliant Italian poster for Stanley Kubrick's The Killing, and today you see the French and Belgian posters. The title is a double entendre that refers not only to murder but also to killing in the sense of a big score, which is why in France the movie was called L'ultime razzia, or “the last raid,” and in Belgium it was Coup manqué, which translates as “mis-hit,” as in badly striking a ball—i.e. missing a target. The Belgian poster also has a banner at the bottom with the title in Dutch—Mislukte opzet, or “failed set up.” Those titles, taken together, reveal exactly what happens in the film—a robbery goes terribly wrong. Both of these are very nice posters, fitting ror Kubrick's early masterpiece. The Killing opened in France today in 1956, and in Belgium shortly thereafter.
Cars were her addiction—and her destruction.
Above is a rare photo of U.S. born model, actress, and thrill seeker Claudia Jennings, who started as a Playboy centerfold, moved on to cinema, and died aged twenty-nine before her talent could be realized. Even so, she left behind several entertaining b-movies, such as Moonshine Country Express, Deathsport, and the eternal shlock classic Gator Bait. Jennings loved to drive fast. She considered herself an expert. She once said she could do just about anything with a car, a motorcycle, or a truck, including an 18-wheeler, but crashing was certainly not part of the plan. She died on California's Pacific Coast Highway today in 1979 when her Volkswagen sports car rammed a truck head-on.
Mick doesn't quite get it done as real life Aussie outlaw Ned Kelly.
This poster was made to promote the western adventure Ned Kelly, a movie mainly remembered for having starred Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger as a real-life Aussie outlaw. Jagger hasn't done much cinematic acting and there's a reason why—he just doesn't have the knack. He seems to read his lines more than perform them, and director Terry Richardson did so much better with films like Tom Jones and The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner. But the poster is unique, which made it worth a share. The movie premiered in Japan today in 1971.
You're hired. I guess we better have you fill out an application now.
Herb Roberts, aka Robert Carney, takes a stab at the always fertile office sleaze genre with 1963's Love-Hungry Women, for which you see the cover above. It isn't so much the women who are love hungry here. It's more a story of rabid male ambition. The protagonist Steve is a small-time hustler getting his last shot at a good job at Garland Real Estate. He's vowed to play it straight, but wouldn't you just know it—the boss's wife takes a shine to him and isn't about to take no for an answer. She says she can help him get to the top, and pretty soon he's not only in deep with her, but with other women around the office. With so many plates in the air it isn't a question of whether he'll drop them but when. The book purports to be an inside look at the business world à la Mad Men, but it's really just lightweight titillation with no aspects worth serious consideration. We love this cover though. It fits right into the office nookie collection we put together several years ago. Too bad the art is uncredited.
National Spotlite goes where few tabloids dare to follow.
How far did cheapie tabloids go in their quest for continually more outrageous stories? Pretty damn far, as this issue of National Spotlite published today in 1968 shows. The editors give the cover to Gloria Wilmot, but it's Eva Rast who brings the shocks by claiming that her father—in hands-on fashion—taught her about sex when she was thirteen. You know how this works by now. Eva Rast is supposedly one of “the top actresses in Europe,” but has no presence anywhere on the internet. Spotlite claims she starred in The Lotus Flower with Cliff Richard, but while that title is shared by several movies made in different eras, no film called Lotus Flower was made during the mid- to late-1960s, it doesn't appear on Cliff Richard's IMDB page, nor does the page list him as acting in anything between 1968 and 1973.
So what we have is a pretty detailed piece of fiction produced back when there was no handy internet to vet the claims proffered as facts. What does “Eva Rast” say about the event? About what you'd expect: “Mother was out. I asked dad where she had gone and he told me she went to my grandmother's for a week. He said, 'We're on our own and we'll have to make do.' I was real happy about it because it seemed like an adventure that daddy and I were sharing.” And so forth. In the mid-century tabloid lowering-the-bar sweepstakes National Spotlite has taken pole position. Can it be outdone? We have about forty tabs left to look through, so we wouldn't be surprised. We'll report back. See more Spotlite here, and more tabloids at our index here.
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1926—Houdini Fatally Punched in Stomach
After a performance in Montreal, Hungarian-born magician and escape artist Harry Houdini is approached by a university student named J. Gordon Whitehead, who asks if it is true that Houdini can endure any blow to the stomach. Before Houdini is ready Whitehead strikes him several times, causing internal injuries that lead to the magician's death.
1973—Kidnappers Cut Off Getty's Ear
After holding Jean Paul Getty III for more than three months, kidnappers cut off his ear and mail it to a newspaper in Rome. Because of a postal strike it doesn't arrive until November 8. Along with the ear is a lock of hair and ransom note that says: "This is Paul’s ear. If we don’t get some money within 10 days, then the other ear will arrive. In other words, he will arrive in little bits." Getty's grandfather, billionaire oilman Jean Paul Getty, at first refused to pay the 3.2 million dollar ransom, then negotiated it down to 2.8 million, and finally agreed to pay as long as his grandson repaid the sum at 4% interest.
1947—HUAC Hearings Begin
The House Un-American Activities Committee begins its investigation into Communist infiltration of Hollywood, resulting in a witch hunt that destroys lives, ruins careers, and makes Senator Joseph McCarthy the most feared politician of the era.
1968—Jackie Kennedy Marries
Former First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy marries Greek shipping tycoon Aristotle Onassis. The marriage comes as a total surprise to the American public, and results in a terrible backlash against her and also makes her the number one target of paparazzi for years.
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