Even in decline Confidential had eyes and ears everywhere.
Liz Taylor and her tan star on this cover of Confidential published this month in 1964. The magazine was just a shadow of its former self by this point, but the inside stories still manage to raise eyebrows and give the impression of tabloid spies in every corner of Hollywood. Simon Lee Garth’s exposé accuses Richard Burton of being an abusive drunk, but that was not a scoop—other tabloids had written the same. But elsewhere, investigative journo Beverly Hillis (nice, right?) shares the amusing story of Elvis Presley throwing a party at which only women were invited. Apparently “swivel hips”, as Confidential refers to him, paraded around in a series of bizarre costumes and generally acted the fool, prompting some (but crucially not all) of his guests to leave in a huff. In another story Jack Asher writes about bottomless swimsuits worn by gay men as a response to the topless women’s suits that had appeared on European beaches, and also tells readers the fashion house Lanvin Paris had begun selling a bottomless suit for women. We don’t buy that one for a minute, but there are some interesting photos of women wearing breast-baring dresses. Elsewhere in the issue you get tabloid fave Jayne Mansfield and her husband Mickey Targitay, Peter Sellers sexing himself into a heart attack with Britt Ekland, Barry Goldwater playing dirty politics, and an impressively tasteless graphic of Malcolm X. All below.
Precisely when it’s scarcest is when you want it the most.
Jayne Mansfield, Mickey Hargitay, Elvis Presley, Eartha Kitt, and more. This issue of Whisper published this month in 1965 tells tales about some of the most popular stars of the day. And then there’s Hayley Mills, former child star who was trying to make a full-grown career for herself where breaking from type often involves shocking the public. In Mills’ case, she planned to star in the film Candy, which was to be an adaptation of the banned satirical novel Terry Southern and Mason Hoffenberg had based on Voltaire’s Candide. Considered one of the sexier novels of the time, it touched on homosexuality, masturbation, interracial relations, and seemed like a disastrous choice for wholesome Hayley Mills. But if she actually wanted to change that image what could do it? Candy could. Whisper warns Mills away from the role: “We’ll bet her fans—and the moviegoing public at large—won’t buy it.” Dire words, indeed. But in the end, Mills never got the role. It went instead to Swedish actress Ewa Aulin.
Whisper also discusses the infamous relationship between Sammy Davis, Jr. and Kim Novak, and ponders whether Novak is still carrying a torch for Davis. Journalist Pete Wallace doesn’t interview Novak, but manages to score quotes from many acquaintances—or so he claims. The upshot? Novak’s life has been a shambles ever since the relationship ended, but Wallace, trying to reason from afar with Novak, explains that Sammy dropped her for both their sakes because of the forces—studio, family, the American public, and eventually the Mafia—that were arrayed against them. But Wallace also sympathizes. He writes: “If the one man she ever really loved walked out on her (never mind that it was for the best of reasons) how can she trust herself to anyone less?” Who could ruin you for other men forever? The Candyman could. We have nineteen scans below of all that and more, and many more issues of Whisper to come.
Is it just us, or does something about this pose make you think about scoring?
We’re back on schedule with Goodtime Weekly and a page for today in 1963 featuring none other than Jayne Mansfield, who's making her third appearance for the calendar. After being lensed twice by Bernard Wagner, here and here, British photographer David Hurn gets a shot. We love the pose because it looks like she’s signaling a touchdown or a field goal—appropriate this first weekend of playoff football in the U.S. (which is something we can watch live thanks to the wonders of the internet). We doubt Hurn was thinking of sports when he suggested the pose. More likely he simply said, “Um, Jayne, I can’t see your breasts with the fabric bunched up like that. Can you raise your arms? Higher? Perfect.” The result was an image that’s quite famous, which is to say, it’s one of only three from the calendar that we’ve seen before. That doesn’t surprise us. Hurn is a significant photographer who shot everything from political events to the Beatles, and is still kicking around today. He also shot this amazing image of Jane Fonda for the film Barbarella. Okay, we're off. Enjoy the games, everyone.
Jan 6: A good sermon is one that goes over your head and hits the others.
Jan 7: Another blue Monday. Wouldn’t it be nice if somebody could make both week-ends meet?
Jan 8: “A wolf is a guy who dreams of girls running thru his mind—they wouldn’t dare walk!”—Rod Brasfield
Jan 9: A diplomat looked at Jayne Mansfield and sighed: “I only wish the UN were in such good shape!”
Jan 10: “Jayne Mansfield always looks like she’s trying to smuggle something into the country.”—George Burns
Jan 11: “Every girl has a sense of value; buy her something expensive and see how much you’ll receive.”—He-who Who-he
Jan 12: “I don’t take gifts from perfect strangers—but nobody’s perfect.”—Zsa Zsa Gabor
How to be nude and fully clothed at the same time.
Above is a shot of Jayne Mansfield from Bernard Wagner showing the actress in a nude evening dress that covers her bits with a few stars and sparkles. We also love the Paris street-style matte painting behind her. Since we had both the name of the model and photographer, we were able to do an extensive search on the web and did not encounter this shot anywhere, which means we’re going to claim that this is the first time it’s appeared online. Always a proud moment. The weekly observations are below, and we’re guessing that the quip for November 27 has something to do with typesetting, but we couldn’t find any references to “Mansfield type” anywhere. Anyone have a clue on that? Drop us a line.
Nov 24: This is also true for a common cold: Sometimes the eyes have it and sometimes the nose.
Nov 25: Thanksgiving Day. Did you hear about a woman who sewed a zipper on her turkey?
Nov 26: “That’s true about Jayne Mansfield. She does use two dressing rooms.”—George Burns
Nov 27: Some places won’t hire Mansfield type anymore. The reason: They can’t get close enough to the machines.
Nov 28: “Many kids claim their dates are cheaper-ruined.”—Bob Banner
Nov 29: “Two hearts may beat as one but the mouths eat separately.”
Nov 30: “Most women don’t want you to kiss them. They just want you to want to.”—Jerry Lester
Update: Here's an e-mail we got from a reader named Lisa that may solve the mystery of the non-sensical quip.
This might be too old to care about, but the author thought that "Some places won’t hire Mansfield type anymore. The reason: They can’t get close enough to the machines" was a joke about typesetting. But it seems more likely that there's just a typo in the line. It should read "Some places won't hire Mansfield to type anymore." Then the second sentence makes sense.
Thank you, Lisa. It's amazing how long we can look at something and still simply not see things like that. That's why the extra eyes of readers are so important to us.
Update two: Here's Lisa again, with an even better take on this.
Well, I was basking in my typo-spotting glory on Facebook when a couple of friends pointed out that the joke is just as likely--maybe *more* likely--to be "some places won't hire Mansfield types anymore". Then the "they" in the second sentence is referring to "Mansfield types," which makes even more sense. And that's how vintage materials research is done, folks! Sorry to force a potential new update on you.
No worries, Lisa. We're flattered that anything we do would cause you to bask. What are you wearing right now? Never mind. Now that you've got us seeing the line in all its myriad possibilties, we might as well throw a third option—"Mansfield's type"—out there as well. That will certainly cover the gamut. Er, we think.
Hush-Hush says they didn’t want her even in the nude, but is that true?
The story probably fueled ten million fantasies. Marilyn Monroe had stripped naked on the set of her last movie Something’s Got To Give. Monroe was eventually fired, the production was scrapped, and the footage was archived, but if it had been released, she would have been the first Hollywood actress to appear unclothed onscreen since the 1920s. It’s interesting, isn’t it, to reflect upon the effect a minority of prudes had on Hollywood? Because of them, Monroe’s unreleased scene, and Jayne Mansfield’s later nude scene in 1963’s Promises, Promises, merely brought American cinema back to where it had already been four decades earlier.
In the movie Monroe’s character is in a pool and calls up to a window where Dean Martin resides. Martin is married and Monroe is disrupting his life, so when he sees her, he tells her to get out of the water. She complies and Martin realizes she’s nude. It's a standard sex comedy oops moment. Monroe began the filming of the scene in a body stocking, then removed that and wore a flesh-colored bikini bottom. After the scene she posed for some publicity shots for several surprised photographers, and during that period removed even the bottoms. Some sources say she also shot the scene nude, but most say the bottoms came off afterward.
Hush-Hush was not the first magazine to break the story of Monroe’s peel down. Life had done that in June 1962, and included a couple of titillating photos. By the time Hush-Hush told the tale Monroe was two months dead. The blurb MM—Even In The Nude They Didn’t Want Her wasn’t strictly true. The production company Twentieth Century Fox most certainly did want her. A hospital stint prior to production had caused her to shed twenty-five pounds, bringing her to a weight she had never reached in her adult life, despite exercise and dieting. The newly svelte Monroe looked good and Fox was getting her cheap—$100,000.
By most accounts, Monroe knew her career was in trouble. She was making one tenth one what Elizabeth Taylor was making at the time, and was determined to remind people they were still dealing with possibly the biggest sex symbol who had ever lived. She knew that if she stripped she might be falling into the same old trap of making it easy for people to not take her seriously, but if her career really was finished she was determined to go down swinging. In the end her stunt was irrelevant. Her health problems had made her thin, but they lingered and caused numerous costly production delays, causing Fox to finally give up and pull the plug. That was June 1962. Two months later she was gone.
Mansfield proves that love can make a broken man whole.
In Hollywood, nothing seems to last. Jayne Mansfield and Hungarian bodybuilder Miklós “Mickey” Hargitay divorced in 1964, but this great cover of Whisper from this month in 1957 shows them a year before their 1958 marriage. They’re blissful and striking a pose they repeated for the press over and over—i.e., ex-Mr. Universe Hargitay demonstrating his strength by easily lofting the zaftig Mansfield in his arms. The occasion of this photo was Hargitay’s arrival at NYC’s Idlewild Airport. Mansfield had waited on the tarmac for the plane to land, then sprinted to her sweetheart and leapt into his arms.
You may notice Hargitay’s swollen eye and bandage. He was returning from Washington, D.C., where he had been performing in the Mae West Revue, a stage show West—the noted maneater—had stocked with assorted hunks of tasty beef. One of those hunks was an ex-wrestler named Chuck Krauser who adored West and had more than a professional relationship with her. When Hargitay threw some unkind words West’s way, Krauser threw three punches Hargitay’s way and down went Mickey. A witness described the fracas this way: “He planted a tremendous haymaker on Mickey’s head.” Hargitay emerged from the beatdown with a black eye, a cut lip, a limp—and grounds for a lawsuit, which he quickly filed.
The interesting thing about the episode re: Whisper is that it happened in June 1956—exactly a year before the above cover appeared. And Whisper not only digs up an old photo, but takes the liberty of reversing it. Hargitay was actually slugged over the left eye by the right-handed Krauser. In any case, it’s amazing how happy Hargitay looks considering the entire world knew he’d gotten his ass whipped. And consider also that he was definitely feeling some aches and pains.
But perhaps having an ecstatic Jayne Mansfield waiting for you raises spirits and dulls hurts. Either that or those bodybuilding competitions had trained Hargitay to keep a smile locked on his face even when he was straining every muscle in his body. We should mention, though, that Mansfield did her share of heavy lifiting too, by being publicly supportive concerning the fight. She observed that Mickey could have killed Krauser, but was too much of a gentleman. It might not have been true, but take note girls—that’s how you bolster your hurting guy’s fragile ego.
Hey, Jayne! Catch!
The Goodtime Weekly Calendar of 1963 brings us Jayne Mansfield in a Bernard Wagner photo that's similar but not identical to another, much more famous poolside shot made around the same time. We’ve posted that one below, and if you look closely you’ll see that while it seems to be the same session, Mansfield’s suit is different, as well as the pool and the hotel in the background (it’s the Dunes in Las Vegas). Of the two, we like the top image better because of the unusual pose. Actually, what we like about it is we can totally see someone tossing her an apple, which she then tries to catch and goes ass over teakettle into the water. Now that would be a shot.
June 9: A good marriage is like a good handshake—there is no upper hand.
June 10: “If it were not for the presents, an elopement would be preferable.”—George Ade
June 11: Every bride is beautiful, and every groom dutiful.
June 12: “A woman and a greyhound must be small in the waist.”—Spanish Prov.
June 13: L.L.D. in some bar associations means a “Long Legged Dame.”
June 14: Marriage, which makes two one, is a life-long struggle to discover which is that one.
June 15: Showers for brides are here, there and everywhere; nearly everyone gets soaked.
Jayne Mansfield shows she’s not just another face in the crowd.
Since we shared a magazine cover of Jayne Mansfield yesterday, it seems a good time to also show you this photo of her at the Cannes Film Festival. We aren’t sure on the date—Mansfield went to Cannes more than once, but we’re thinking 1964 on this. In most of her Cannes photos, she’s cavorting on the Croisette in a bikini or hamming it up for the French press by dancing the “monkeybird”, but this shot shows a womanly, glamorous Mansfield with Mickey Hargitay and another escort, against a backdrop of journos and fans. The photo says: movie star.
It’s like I said all along. Cigarettes—cough, retch—are perfectly safe.
This is a prime example of how tabloid journalism works. The idea is to snare an audience by teasing, mystifying, outraging, or confirming deeply held hopes or suspicions. On this cover of Confidential you get three blurbs that hint at celebrity misbehavior—possibly sexual in Mansfield’s case—but the interesting bit is the top banner in which editors confirm that smoking cigarettes does not cause cancer. With a claimed distribution of four million copies, but a secondhand circulation that may have doubled, tripled or even quadrupled that figure, millions of Confidential readers probably hacked up a bit of grey phlegm before wheezing, “I knew it! Those damn scientists are just fascists trying to take away our liberties!” Well, not so much. But in November 1957, Confidential made an assertive case. It was the wrong case, but whaddaya gonna do? Nobody’s perfect.
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1912—Pravda Is Founded
The newspaper Pravda, or Truth, known as the voice of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, begins publication in Saint Petersburg. It is one of the country's leading newspapers until 1991, when it is closed down by decree of then-President Boris Yeltsin. A number of other Pravdas appear afterward, including an internet site and a tabloid.
1983—Hitler's Diaries Found
The German magazine Der Stern claims that Adolf Hitler's diaries had been found in wreckage in East Germany. The magazine had paid 10 million German marks for the sixty small books, plus a volume about Rudolf Hess's flight to the United Kingdom, covering the period from 1932 to 1945. But the diaries are subsequently revealed to be fakes written by Konrad Kujau, a notorious Stuttgart forger. Both he and Stern journalist Gerd Heidemann go to trial in 1985 and are each sentenced to 42 months in prison.
1918—The Red Baron Is Shot Down
German WWI fighter ace Manfred von Richthofen, better known as The Red Baron, sustains a fatal wound while flying over Vaux sur Somme in France. Von Richthofen, shot through the heart, manages a hasty emergency landing before dying in the cockpit of his plane. His last word, according to one witness, is "Kaputt." The Red Baron was the most successful flying ace during the war, having shot down at least 80 enemy airplanes.
1964—Satellite Spreads Radioactivity
An American-made Transit satellite, which had been designed to track submarines, fails to reach orbit after launch and disperses its highly radioactive two pound plutonium power source over a wide area as it breaks up re-entering the atmosphere.
1939—Holiday Records Strange Fruit
American blues and jazz singer Billie Holiday
records "Strange Fruit", which is considered to be the first civil rights song. It began as a poem written by Abel Meeropol, which he later set to music and performed live with his wife Laura Duncan. The song became a Holiday standard immediately after she recorded it, and it remains one of the most highly regarded pieces of music in American history.
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