Even Hollywood trailblazers get the blues.
This striking image, which appeared in Esquire magazine in April 1948, shows Maylia, an actress who played Eastern beauties onscreen but was born in Detroit, Michigan as Gloria Chin. Paramount Studios promoted her as “the first Chinese starlet since Anna May Wong,” and indeed she was—Chinese-American, that is, just like Wong. But in the end Maylia appeared in only six films. In fact she was one of the only Asian actresses appearing in films at all during the the mid-century period. After two years of decent roles from 1947 to 1949, followed by uncredited bits in ’51 and ’53, she left show business to have a family.
The film stars a Barker—and that's also a good description of this dog.
This poster, which you will see when you scroll down is two sided, folded into four panels, was made for Battles of Chief Pontiac, a film starring Lex Barker in a story of war between the French and British over what is now the vicinity of Detroit, Michigan. Within this larger fight, Ottawa tribes mount a resistance against the occupying British and their German, or Hessian, mercenaries. This resistance is seriously hampered after the Ottawa are suckered into a peace parlay, then deliberately given blankets infected with smallpox. Treachery much, paleface? Why, yes, all the time.
Throughout all the battles and betrayals hero Lex Barker—the only noble white character—speaks in a neutral American accent that didn't exist 200 years ago, while the supporting white players do their best evil nazi and pompous Brit dialects. This is a nice little trick, portraying all the bad guys as essentially foreign. Never mind that the U.S. is made up of descendents of those colonists, and Barker's character is a colonist too. In cinematic terms it's a deft, almost subliminal job of blame shifting. That the film also showed overseas, where accents would have been lost on audiences, thus making it play more like a broad indictment of colonial expansionism, is an irony.
Until we shared today's poster there was never any indication anywhere online that Battles of Chief Pontiac played in Japan, but the evidence is clear in this butterscotch promo—which is far more artistic than the film. Yes, this Barker vehicle is a total dog. Avoid it, except for its comedy potential—that is, if watching pasty white guys in brown shoe polish is funny. Battles of Chief Pontiac premiered in the U.S. today in 1952, and according to the poster, hit Japan in 1956. You see the right half of the front side, and the entire rear just below.
I'll have both your badges for this outrage. In the meantime, either of you got a condom?
Pretty tame by today's standards, 1959's Sex Life of a Cop is the book that turned into a legal nightmare for publisher Sanford Aday when he shipped copies out of California, was indicted in Arizona, Michigan, and Hawaii in 1961 of interstate trafficking of obscene material, and finally convicted in Michigan in 1963. The story deals with two small town cops named Dempsey and Thorne who give a fat helping of nightstick to any woman whose path they cross, everyone from the hot new dispatcher to a female reporter who goes for a ride along. Ahem. The action starts right on page one outside the police station and doesn't let up. Aday, who was also the author of this as Oscar Peck, earned himself a $25,000 fine and twenty-five years in prison, a sentence that was eventually overturned.
Sex Life of a Cop later caused legal reverberations all the way to the Supreme Court, where it was ruled not obscene in 1967. This was a stroke of good luck for publisher Reuben Sturman (the genius behind It's Happening), because he too was arrested and charged with obscenity when Cleveland police liberated more than 500 copies of the book from his warehouse. The Supreme Court ruling cleared him of wrongdoing. All this for a book that differs little from other sleaze of the era save that it stars two cops. But therein lies the lesson. When you cast aspersions upon law enforcement they'll move heaven and earth to punish you, first amendment be damned. We have covers for the original 1959 edition and the 1967 reprint.
Actually, you’re drinkin’ the kerosene I use for my lantern. The moonshine’s over yonder. But I am duly impressed.
Above, the cover of Clouded Passion by Arthur A. Howe, for Fabian Books, 1962, with Bill Edwards cover art of a country girl chugging booze like a Zeta Tau Alpha. Fabian, as well as Vega Books and Saber Books, was owned by Sanford Aday, who made himself a constant target for various morality groups, including Citizens for Decent Literature, which was headed by that paragon of virtue Charles H. Keating. Aday was eventually convicted of obscenity, along with his associate Wallace de Ortega Maxey, for shipping a single copy of the book Sex Life of a Cop to Michigan. Aday got twenty-five years, but the conviction was overturned by a Supreme Court decision. The novels from Adey’s three publishing houses are somewhat collectible today, and most of the covers were exactly like this one—amusing but low quality. If you’re interested, you can see a group here.
Just hike the ball and hit somebody.
Is it Matt Damon? No. The intense person you see here is U.S. president-to-be Gerald R. Ford posing in his Michigan Wolverines uniform circa 1933. Ford was a very good athlete, and in 1934 he won the Wolverines’ Most Valuable Player award. There are plenty of versions on the internet of this shot from a three-quarters angle, but we’re pretty sure this is the first time a head-on has appeared online.
Heart found sans body—no sign of Edgar Allen Poe.
In the U.S., in a place called Paw Paw, Michigan, the owner of a manual car wash found a heart inside a wash bay. He called police, who took it to an animal clinic, where a veterinarian could not determine its origin. Next they went to a cardiologist, who said that while the organ was human-sized, he could not conclusively determine its source. Next stop was Lansing, Michigan’s Sparrow Hospital, where CSI techs are set to examine it. Paw Paw police Chief Patrick W. Alspaugh commented: “If it’s a human heart, that prompts the question, then where’s the body?”
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1942—Blimp Crew Disappears without a Trace
The two-person crew of the U.S. naval blimp L-8 disappears on a routine patrol over the Pacific Ocean. The blimp drifts without her crew and crashes in Daly City, California. The mystery of the crew's disappearance is never solved.
1977—Elvis Presley Dies
Music icon Elvis Presley is found unresponsive by his fiancée on the floor of his Graceland bedroom suite. Attempts to revive him fail and he's pronounced dead soon afterward. The cause of death is often cited as drug overdose, but toxicology tests have never found evidence this was the case. More likely, years of drug abuse contributed to generally frail health and an overtaxed heart that suddenly failed.
1969—Woodstock Festival Begins
The Woodstock Music & Art Fair, which was billed as an Aquarian Exposition, takes place on a 600 acre dairy farm in Bethel, New York. It would run for three sometimes rainy days and feature thirty-two acts performing at all hours of the day and night. Today the festival is regarded as one of the greatest events in popular music history.
1977—Radio Signal Arrives from Deep Space
An unidentified radio signal, nicknamed the WOW Signal for the notation a scientist made on a computer readout, is briefly detected by the SETI (Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence) project's Big Ear radio telescope. Despite a month of searching the same section of space, the signal is never found again.
1912—U.S. Invades Nicaragua
United States Marines invade Nicaragua to support the U.S.-backed government installed there after José Santos Zelaya had resigned three years earlier. American troops remain for eleven years.
1936—Last Public Execution in U.S.
Rainey Bethea, who had been convicted of rape and murder, is hanged in Owensboro, Kentucky in what is the last public execution performed in the United States.
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