Hollywoodland Aug 27 2016
Ice is nice, but harder than water.

British skater and actress Belita, who was born Maria Belita Jepson-Turner, frolics in the pool at the Town House Hotel in Los Angeles for a cover of Life that hit newsstands today in 1945. We've shown you this pool before. A window from a swanky hotel bar known as the Zebra Room provided a view through one wall, which meant patrons could watch swimmers while enjoying cocktails. The hotel put together a group of women called Aqua Maidens who performed swim shows, but Belita was not a Maiden. She was already famous for skating in the 1936 Olympics (though she had finished only sixteenth), and had established a Hollywood career with 1943's Silver Skates and 1944's Lady, Let's Dance. She would also make 1946's Suspense, which was unique for combining skating with film noir.

In addition to being an ace skater Belita was an accomplished dancer, and the Life photos show her demonstrating her underwater ballet skills. She even wears a tutu in a couple of shots. Interestingly, Picture Post, a British Life-like magazine that was considered imitative, had already featured Belita on its cover, also at the Town House, two months earlier on June 16, 1945. Doubtless both sets of photos were from them same session. So in this case Life was the imitator.
Belita wasn't the most famous ice skater in Hollywood during the 1940s—Sonja Henie was a huge star, and Vera Ralston was probably better known as well. That may be one reason why Belita managed only eight or nine films before moving on to other pursuits. She eventually retired to the village of Montpeyroux, France, where she died in 2005 at age eighty-two. But the photos below are eternal.


Vintage Pulp Jul 28 2016
When girl meets girl sparks fly.

Above and below is a small percentage of some of the thousands of lesbian themed paperback covers that appeared during the mid-century period, with art by Paul Rader, Fred Fixler, Harry Schaare, Rudy Nappi, Charles Copeland, and others, as well as a few interesting photographed fronts. The collection ends with the classic Satan Was a Lesbian, which you’ve probably seen before, but which no collection like this is complete without. Hopefully most of the others will be new to you. Needless to say, almost all were written by men, and in that sense are really hetero books reflecting hetero fantasies (fueled by hetero misconceptions and slander). You can see plenty more in this vein on the website Strange Sisters.


Vintage Pulp Jul 27 2016
Sometimes a devoted following is a bad thing.

Above, a Japanese poster for the British thriller Peeping Tom, which we talked about in detail here. The movie premiered in the UK in 1960, and opened in Japan as Chi wo sû kamerathis month in 1961. 


Vintage Pulp Jul 20 2016
The point of no return.

Most mid-century lesbian fiction was written by men disguised behind pseudonyms. While Sloane Britain was indeed a pseudonym, its owner was actually a woman—Midwood-Tower editor Elaine Williams, who published from 1959 until committing suicide in 1964 at age thirty-three. The Needle concerns a woman who gets hooked on heroin and follows her long and winding road downhill, with the expected stops at dealing, prostitution, withdrawal, and relapse. But there are also a couple of great twists you don't get in typical heroin novels. Considered a classic of the drug sleaze genre, it was published in 1959. This fits nicely with our collection of needle paperback covers from a few years ago, which you can see here


Vintage Pulp May 26 2016
That one too! Just like the last one and the one before that! Help me, doctor—they all look like people having sex!

Whenever we say “someone” should do something that just means we’re being lazy. A couple of days ago we said we liked therapy sleaze fiction covers and someone should put together a collection. Well, that someone turned out to be us. We took a quick scuttle around the web and the result is this small group of people baring their souls—and sometimes more—to their therapists. In P.G. Wodehouse’s case, the main character of Lady Doctor is actually a medical practitioner, but since others confide in her and the awesome Dutch cover is psychoanalytic in style, we’ve included that. The last three examples come from Killer Covers, which is a site you should get into the habit of visiting regularly. 


Hollywoodland May 21 2016
Mid-century tabloid hits all the familiar tabloid notes.

Lowdown makes the rounds in this issue published in May 1965. Inside, Ann-Margret claims she doesn't want to be a tease (fail), editors ask if women are more immoral than men (which they really are, once you take war, genocide, faithlessness, and generally violent tendencies off the table), and June Wilkinson's photo is among those used in a story about women supposedly receiving insurance covered breast implants from Britain's National Health Service.
Probably the most interesting story concerns Swedish actress Inger Stevens disappearing for a week. Lowdown hints at an alcohol binge, which is nothing special (hell, we do those) but while there are plenty of sources citing a 1960 suicide attempt, we found no other mention anywhere of Lowdown's missing week. The story is notable because Stevens would die at age thirty-five of a drug overdose.
Elsewhere you get nude skiing in Austria, Richard Chamberlain and his hit television show Dr. Kildare, the sex powers of mandrake root, and Belgian born actress and dancer Monique Van Vooren endorsing regular exercise. Scans below—oh, and sorry about the quality. Lowdown's printing process caused scanner problems. It's never happened before, so hopefully we won't encounter the issue again.


Vintage Pulp May 12 2016
Excuse me—there’s a guy in my soup.

Sticking with the recent tabloid theme, above is a National Informer Weekly Reader that hit newsstands today in 1974. Inside is a rather funny story about a Honolulu restaurant called Dunes, which was allegedly staffed by nude waiters. Do we buy this tale? We didn’t at first, but we checked online and sure enough—there was such a place and owner Jack Cione did indeed feature nude waiters during lunch service. We’re for nudity of any sort, male included, but we don’t want any stray dick tips in our shrimp salad, so maybe we’d pass on the actual lunch aspect.

Also in the issue editors ask, “What Ever Happened To June?” That would be British pin-up June Wilkinson, who not been seen on the showbiz circuit since starring with her husband—NFL star Dan Pastorini—in the film Weed: The Florida Connection. After Weed Wilkinson didn’t appear onscreen for eleven years. Occasionally, that’s a sign you’ve made a disastrous movie, and Weed is indeed terrifically bad. We’ll talk about it a bit later. We have eleven more scans from National Informer Weekly Reader below, including a nice shot of Italian sex symbol Nadia Cassini.


Vintage Pulp May 8 2016
Ever get the feeling you've met someone before?

Shuna and the Lost Tribe and Shuna White Queen of the Jungle were written by British author John King, aka Ernest L. McKeag, and reached bookstores via Harborough Publishing in 1951. Shuna is exactly what she seems to be—the archetypal Western literary fantasy of a naturalistic and uncorrupted white woman maintaining semi-sexual thralldom over black hordes who look on with wonder but never, ever get to touch. She's also a virtual copy, right down to the form-fitting leopardskin tunic, of the character Sheena, who appeared in the 1930s, and was part of a wave of lost world literature, comics, and movies that came after the runaway success of Edgar Rice Burroughs' 1912 novel Tarzan of the Apes. We're a little surprised King was able to basically steal Sheena's name. He seems to have gotten away with it, though—we found no mention in the historical record of legal trouble. Maybe it's like the whole Britney Spears vs. Britney Rears thing. The name is close, but juuust different enough to avoid a lawsuit. Anyway, the cover art is really the thing to focus on here. We love these. They're two of the most striking efforts we've seen from the incomparable Reginald Heade, and a reminder we need to feature him more. 


Vintage Pulp May 7 2016
It looks like she tried to write her killer's name. Quick—check the passenger manifest for anyone named Arrrghh...

Frank Bunce's So Young a Body has a great premise—an everyman named Peabody Humble who's tired of being normal decides while on a cruise to tell people he's a hard-boiled detective rather than a boring old accountant. But when a passenger is murdered the captain turns to Humble to solve the crime. Luckily, instant sidekick Dorit Bly is on hand to help him over the rough patches with her outgoing nature and photographic memory. Fully as fun as it sounds, but the series you'd expect to have been launched from this novel never materialized, sadly. Originally published by Simon and Schuster in 1950, this Pocket Books edition adorned with Cass Norwalsh cover art appeared in 1951. The 1952 British edition from Pocket was completely different. See below. We have to thank Monty Python for the subhead, by the way. You've all obviously seen Holy Grail like five or six times, right?


Vintage Pulp Apr 23 2016
King of the hill, top of the heap.

Owned by a publisher calling itself Sapho, Folies de Paris et de Hollywood was one of the pre-eminent pin-up magazines of the mid-century period, running from 1947 to 1975 for a total of nearly 600 issues. It also operated under other names, including Paris-Hollywood, and generated another 150 issues. Appearing this week in 1966, this issue of Folies is number 345 and features the usual assortment of showgirl portraits and write-ups. Often the magazine slipped in a model or two from outside the world of Parisian dance, and in this issue a good chunk of pages are given to British pin-ups Cleo Simmons and Penny Winters. We didn't scan all their photos—sorry. This is a big magazine, dimensionally speaking, and every page must be scanned in two pieces and merged in Photoshop—with the centerfold being scanned in four pieces and reassembled—so sometimes we don't get to all of them. But we strive to improve. Speaking of the centerfold, she's unknown to us, as is the rear cover star. If anyone knows them feel free to drop us a line. Twenty images below, and many more Folies to come.


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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
October 23
1935—Four Gangsters Gunned Down in New Jersey
In Newark, New Jersey, the organized crime figures Dutch Schultz, Abe Landau, Otto Berman, and Bernard "Lulu" Rosencrantz are fatally shot at the Palace Chophouse restaurant. Schultz, who was the target, lingers in the hospital for about a day before dying. The killings are committed by a group of professional gunmen known as Murder, Inc., and the event becomes known as the Chophouse Massacre.
1950—Al Jolson Dies
Vaudeville and screen performer Al Jolson dies of a heart attack in San Francisco after a trip to Korea to entertain troops causes lung problems. Jolson is best known for his film The Jazz Singer, and for his performances in blackface make-up, which were not considered offensive at the time, but have now come to be seen as a form of racial bigotry.
October 22
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.
October 21
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.

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