Femmes Fatales Nov 16 2014
KHAN ARTIST
Ekberg is as good as gold.

Promo image of Swedish superstar Anita Ekberg in costume for her role in Zarak Khan, 1956. The shot appeared a few years later in the French film magazine Cinémonde, March 1959.

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Hollywoodland | Vintage Pulp Oct 30 2014
SECRET AGENDA
The mission statement was simple—take cheap shots at every star in the firmament.


Top Secret is in fine form in this issue from October 1962 as it goes after all the biggest celebrities in Hollywood and Europe. Treading the line between journalism and slander is no easy feat, but take notice—Top Secret’s editors and hacks manage to pull off a high wire act. And of course this was key to the tabloids' modus operandi—they had to present information in a seemingly fearless or even iconoclastic way, yet never actually cross the line that would land them in court.

For example, there’s this dig at Frank Sinatra: “Mr. Snarl, Mr. Nasty, Mr. Do-You-Want-A-Belt-In-The-Mouth was as gentle as a lamb. Gone was the usual sneer, the wise-guy leer. Was this the same surly singer whose idea of a good morning’s exercise had been to watch his bodyguards work over a photographer?
 
Grace Kelly takes a few arrows: “It’s a pretty good bet that the immediate bust-up of the marriage won’t come in the next few months, but it sure as shooting looks like her six-year reign as the glamorous princess of that silly little kingdom on the Mediterranean is going to blow up in her prim face.”
 
Christina Paolozzi gets roughed up thusly: “If anything, Christina in the buff is proof that clothes are an underdeveloped girl’s best friends. Therethe Countess stands with a pleased expression that seems to say, ‘Aren’t I something, Mister?’ But all it takes is one quick look to see that there isn’t really anything to get excited about—unless [you love] barbecued spareribs.”
 
Anita Ekberg receives this treatment: “[La Dolce Vita] was something like a peek into the boudoir antics of its star—the gal with the fantastic superstructure that looks like nothing less than two tugboats pulling a luxury liner into port.”
 
And what tabloid would be complete without Marilyn Monroe? Top Secret says she’s dating writer José Bolaños (who the magazine calls a Mexican jumping bean). Editors opt to unveil the news this way: “It seems that this bold bundle of blonde has suddenly gone on a strange Mexican hayride!!! Si, amigo, MEXICAN!”
 
And then there’s cover star Elizabeth Taylor: “And she acted wilder than ever, satisfying all her most urgent urges for Dickie in the most wide open ways. [She] had jumped from tragedy right into disgrace by having a wild fling with Eddie Fisher a mere six months after hubby Mike Todd had been planted six feet under. ‘Mike is dead, and I’m alive,’ she said cynically after running off for a riotous romp in the fall of 1958 with the guy who just then happened to be married to Debbie Reynolds. 'I’m not taking anything away from Debbie, because she never really had it,' luscious Liz sneered."

This issue of Top Secret is, succinctly put, a clinic in mid-century tabloid writing—alliterative and spicy, insinuative and sleazy, but never quite legally actionable. How could Ekberg argue that the tugboat similie wasn’t interpretable as a compliment? Could Christina Paolozzi deny that her ribs show? Could Sinatra claim that his bodyguards neverslugged a photographer? The magazine skirts the edge a bit with Taylor—did you catch how the editors paired “urges for Dick(ie)” with “wide open ways”?—but was she misquoted or truly slandered? Highly doubtful. Top Secret is pure, trashy genius. Magazines don’t have such writing anymore, and that’s probably a good thing—but it sure is fun to look back at how things were. More scans below.


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Vintage Pulp Nov 12 2013
SWEDE TEMPTATION
Anita Ekberg single-handedly changes the ethnic makeup of an entire country.

The cover of this November 1956 issue of True Adventures is great by itself, but as a bonus readers are treated inside to a photo feature on superstar Anita Ekberg, who had been filming the adventure flick Zarak Khan. The movie concerned the exploits of an Afghani outlaw (or resistance fighter, depending on one’s point of view), and Ekberg, rather amusingly, played an Afghani girl named Salma. Criticisms were voiced concerning the blue-eyed Swede’s casting in the role, but these rang hollow, considering the presence of Kentucky-born Victor Mature in the lead. In any case, the film’s producers Irving Allen and Cubby Broccoli didn’t care if Ekberg made an unlikely Afghan—to them having her shimmy around in a midriff-baring harem outfit was worth it. Were they right? You can be the judge of that for yourself by checking this link.

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Vintage Pulp Jan 9 2013
CHEER PERFECTION
If you think I’m having a good time now, you should see how much I enjoy it when the water isn’t fuh-reezing.

Above, the cover and some interior scans from the Dutch cinema magazine Cheerio! #117, featuring an eclectic selection of international stars, 1956. 

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Vintage Pulp Nov 8 2012
FULL COURT SUPPRESSED
Suppressed was in rare form in November 1955.


Above is the cover of the NYC based tabloid Suppressed from this month in 1955. This issue shows Suppressed in full bloom—bold, brash, fearless. Within the next two years a series of Hollywood lawsuits against scandal magazines would begin to make editors wary of being dragged into court for committing libel and slander, but 1955 was still the heyday for celeb bashing, and Supressed engaged in what might be best described as open warfare against film stars. Here’s a small sampling of some of the gut punches in this magazine:

Marlon Brando: silly.
 
Anita Ekberg: egocentric, a martyr.
 
Rita Gam: the all-time fizzle of 1955, a bad actress, with a figure that leaves something to be desired.
 
Judy Holliday: pudgy.
 
Marilyn Monroe: childishly immature, with an inferiority complex.
 
Debbie Reynolds: inane.
 
Gloria Vanderbilt: unable to think of anyone besides herself; has more neuroses than acting talents.
 
Robert Wagner: pompous, unintelligent.
 
We could go on, but you get the point. We’ve written many times on this website that nothing in media is truly new, and this is yet another example. Click over to any muckraking celebrity blog right now and you’d think journalism, as well as simple grammar, went down the toilet around the year 2000. But no, they were always in the toilet. Remember, Suppressed and its brethren Confidential, Whisper, On the QT, Hush-Hush, et.al., were not fringe. By itself Confidential was the biggest newsstand sellerin the U.S. These publications were powerful. Like modern American cable news, they assumed leading roles in making the public swallow false political memes—a commie under every bed, a black man in every bed, and the loose women who made it all possible.
 
But unlike today’s fawning cable news, Suppressed was generally scornful toward the rich. For instance, this issue discusses millionaires’ secret playgrounds while parking quotation marks around words like “classy,” and “the right people.” The actual playgrounds are described as “last stand” resorts, where the rich can feel safe from the rabble of middle class America. A few pages later the editors decry nepotism in Hollywood, naming a dozen famous actors and actresses who allegedly got their start because of mommy and daddy’s money. All in all, Suppressed is a head spinning mixture, and at the end of each issue a typical reader was probably convinced of one thing—the only good people in the world were those who were exactly like him.

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Vintage Pulp Aug 18 2012
REVIEW AND REVISE
Continental Film Review was a leading voice of foreign film in Britain, as well as a leading source of cheap thrills.

We’re showing you this August 1966 Continental Film Review for one reason—Raquel Welch. She appears in both the front and back of the magazine, and the latter photo was made while she was in the Canary Islands filming One Million Years B.C. That photo session featuring a blonde, windblown Welch was incredibly fruitful, at least if we’re to judge by the many different places we’ve seen frames from the shoot, including here, here, here and especially here. There had not been a sex symbol quite like Welch before, and in 1966 she had reached the apex of her allure, where she’d stay for quite a while.

On the cover of the magazine are Christina Schollin and Jarl Kulle, pictured during a tender moment from the Swedish romantic comedy Änglar, finns dom? aka Love Mates. Inside you get features on the Berlin and San Sebastian film festivals, Sophia Loren, Nieves Navarro, Anita Ekberg, and more. CFR had launched in 1952, and now, fourteen years later, was one of Britain’s leading publications on foreign film. It was also a leading publication in showing nude actresses, and in fact by the 1970s was probably more noteworthy for its nudity than its journalism. The move probably undermined its credibility, but most magazines—whether fashion, film, or erotic—began showing more in the 1970s. CFR was simply following the trend, and reached its raciest level around 1973, as in the issue here. Fifteen scans below. 

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Vintage Pulp Feb 24 2012
SIGHS OF THE ZODIAC
Suddenly the future is looking brighter.

Folies de Paris et de Hollywood gets a little more naked than usual in this issue dedicated to the zodiac. This was issue #228, published in 1961, and in addition to the 28 pages of interesting and provocative unknown models—some of whom have received the ole disappearing pubes treatment—you get an Anita Ekberg cover and a nice final image of French film star Mylène Demongeot. We especially like the Demongeot shot, because its cuteness stands out in what is a rather racy collection. See for yourself, below. 

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Vintage Pulp Jan 11 2012
SEX & VIOLENZA
She’s Andressing you with her eyes.

European publishers, like Italy’s Tecnografica, often used celebrities on their book covers. Here’s a favorite example—Swiss actress Ursula Andress on the cover of the illustrated giallo Invito alla violenza, by Hugh Pentecost, aka Judson Pentecost Phillips, aka Phillip Owen. The shot is from a 1965 photo series, another frame of which appeared in Spain’s Triunfo magazine. We don’t know whether the series was shot for Triunfo and rented by Tecnografica, or vice-versa. Possibly neither. It could have been shot as a promo series and sold to both Triunfo and Tecnografica. Alternatively, maybe Tecnografica simply appropriated the image. We only suggest that because we can’t think of any reason Ursula Andress would have needed to gnaw grass on the cover of a cheapie giallo three years after she appeared in Dr. No. Maybe we’ll find out the answer to that one later. In the meantime, we’re working on an aggregate post of celeb covers, which we’ll get up soon. 

Update: Rafael wrote in with this: I suggest that these are promotional photos for 4 for Texas (USA 1963), freely appropriated by magazines everywhere.

And indeed he is right. Once we knew the movie we found many more promo shots of Andress wearing the same outfit.  4 for Texas also starred Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin, as well as Anita Ekberg, which all sounds worthwhile to us. We will defnitely screen a copy of it. Thanks Rafael, for the help.

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Hollywoodland | Vintage Pulp Dec 29 2011
NERVES OF STEEL
Tinseltown proves fatal to yet another celebrity marriage.

This issue of the tabloid Exposed, with cover stars Anita Ekberg, Tony Steel, Edward G. Robinson, Elvis Presley, and Elizabeth Taylor, has a rather pleasing color scheme, but the usual rumor-mongering and innuendo inside. The “true story” of Anita Ekberg’s sudden wedding to Tony Steel isn’t really all that scintillating. Steel had met Ekberg when they worked together on the British motion picture Storm Over the Nile, which was filmed in 1955 and released the last week of December. Steel was smitten from the moment he saw Ekberg. In fact, he was so in love with her that he decided to break his contract with the film production company The Rank Organisation and follow her to Hollywood. They married in the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence, Italy, on 22 May, 1956, in a civil ceremony that was open to the public (the couple had asked the city government to bar spectators from the event but the request had been denied).

The press, however were restricted to a roped area just outside, which happened to be near a famous statue of David. According to several of the reporters present, when Ekberg passed by the nude sculpture after the ceremony she glanced up at its endowment and quipped, “My! Almost as big as Frank Sinatra’s.” You just knew Sinatra was involved in this somewhere, right? It’s like there were six or seven of him wandering around during the 1950s, so often does he pop up in other people’s personal business. Anyway, that statue of David—which is a copy of Michelangelo’s original masterpiece that stands in the Galleria dell’Accademiahas an incredibly small penis proportionate to the eighteen-foot-high body. At least, it seems small to us. Ahem. But we can assume Ekberg’s comment meant just the opposite, and concerned the non-proportionate size of the organ—i.e., quite a handful, taken on its own merits.

Now, should a bride really start married life with a public comment about another man’s dick? We think not, but we’re old-fashioned that way. Ekberg and Steel jetted off to Hollywood, where both hoped to expand their film careers. For Ekberg, that’s exactly what happened. But Steel struggled, possibly because of vitriol emanating from The Rank Organisation. He did find some work, but never attained the stature hecraved. In short order, his marriage to Ekberg was in trouble, their domestic woes either exacerbated by or rooted in his career problems. Either that or he never forgave her for that Sinatra comment. We kid, of course. Steel and Ekberg had serious difficulties, but Frankie wasn't one of them. In any case, in 1959 the couple divorced, and Tony Steel was pretty much yesterday’s news. Life goes on, after all, in the tabloids and in the world. 

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Vintage Pulp Oct 10 2011
AN INSIDE LOOK
Inside Story was never a top tabloid, but it still managed to entertain.

Sex, celebs, and swindles make up the bulk of this Inside Story from October 1958 with Swedish bombshell Anita Ekberg starring on the cover. All tabloids had a snappy slogan. Inside Story’s is “Tells the facts about people, the news, and the world we live in.” Doesn’t exactly send chills down the spine, does it? Maybe that’s why Inside Story was always strictly a middle of the pack tab, never achieving the rarefied heights of Confidential or Police Gazette. But on to the stories. In this issue readers are told that a relationship with Anita Ekberg comes at a high cost—not in money, but in frayed nerves due to her demanding behavior, alleged examples of which are detailed from London (caught by police having sex in a parked car) to Rio de Janeiro (abandoned her boyfriend and flew back to Sweden without a goodbye). Inside Story also expounds on Marlon Brando and Anna Kashfi, as well as Gloria de Haven and the unnamed Central American dictator’s son (Ramfis Trujillo, discussed last year) who was so struck by her beauty that he spent a fortune in time and money trying to get her into bed. Errol Flynn's supposedly inflated reputation as a lover also takes a hit, and both the horse racing industry and restaurant business provide material for insider horror stories. All in all, it’s a nice slate of articles, well worth the twenty-five cent asking price. We have twenty pages of all this for your enjoyment below, including a large scan of Diana Dors, because, well, she’s Diana Dors. 

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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
December 21
1958—de Gaulle Elected President of France
World War II hero General Charles de Gaulle is elected President of France by an overwhelming majority. During his time he leads France to develop nuclear weapons, ends the French presence in Algeria, and survives several assassination attempts. He eventually retires to Colombey-les-Deux-Eglises, in north-east France, and dies from a heart attack on 9 November 1970.
December 20
1989—U.S. Invades Panama
The United States invades Panama with the goal of overthrowing the dictatorship of Manuel Noriega. Noriega had been a CIA agent for many years, and because of this special status, U.S. drug authorities had turned a blind eye toward his activities, which included helping to create a crack cocaine epidemic in American inner cities. In 1988, Senator John Kerry's Subcommittee on Terrorism, Narcotics and International Operations concluded that the Noriega saga represented one of the most serious foreign policy failures in U.S. history.
December 19
1984—Britain Agrees to Cede Hong Kong
Great Britain signs over Hong Kong to China in an agreement stipulating that the colony be returned to the Chinese in 1997. Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher signs the Joint Sino-British Declaration with her Chinese counterpart Zhao Ziyang, while political groups in Hong Kong push futilely for independence.

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