Who'd like to help me perform a little experiment?
We've been seeing a lot of Sylva Koscina lately, haven't we? Well here's one of the biggest sex symbols of the 1960s again, this time on the front of an issue of National Enquirer that hit newsstands today in 1959. She says American men are boobs as lovers. Since she studied physics at university, we can only assume she used the scientific method to come to this conclusion—observation, measurement, experimentation, and repetition. We're sure there was no shortage of volunteers, and she was willing to revisit her conclusions, apparently, since after this cover appeared she hooked up Paul Newman, Kirk Douglas, and—it's rumored—Robert Kennedy. Who says science is boring?
You're annoyed? I'm the one who's a human armchair.
This is a classic piece of tabloid art. Brigitte Bardot is pictured on this National Enquirer published today in 1962 reading what is supposed to be a tabloid paper and looking annoyed. The art suggests she thinks the press is lying about her, reporting fake news, as it were. And being the tabloid press, it probably was. Below you see the photo Enquirer cropped to get the cover. In it, Bardot sits on her younger sister Mijanou's lap between takes on the set of the 1959 comedy Voulez-vous danser avec moi?, aka Come Dance with Me, in Nice, France. Sis looks just as bothered as Brigitte, but she was probably just bored, since she wasn't appearing in the film. She did act in more than a dozen movies of her own, though.
Hayworth finds the elusive cure for zombiedom.
National Enquirer tells readers Rita Hayworth has come back from the dead on this issue from today in 1963. What a curious statement. We can't find corroboration anywhere, but she may been referring to the fact that she hadn't appeared in a movie in two years, but was back to work filming Circus World, which would premiere in mid-1964. Why the break? Possibly because in 1961 Hayworth had filed for divorce from her fifth and final husband, film producer James Hill, on the grounds of extreme mental cruelty. It seems she wanted to retire, but he forced her to keep working and the impasse eventually broke the marriage.
Hayworth was forty-five in 1963, and looked just fine, if stills from Circus World are any indication, but Enquirer editors figured they'd dig into the past for a more youthful cover photo. They settled on a promo shot Hayworth had made ten years earlier while making the film Salome. As a tie-in to the movie, she had modeled a figure slimming swimsuit known as a Salome Sea Mold for her Rita Special Swimwear line marketed by the company Flexees. We have no idea how well the tie-in worked, but the company is still around. Hayworth continued working after Circus World, making a movie every year or two until 1972. At that point we assume she slid into zombiedom, or at least retirement, on her own terms.
Enquirer cover model makes a de-emancipation proclamation.
Pictured on this cover of National Enquirer from today in 1963 is Helle Wingsoe, who was a Miss Denmark titleholder from the 1950s who later appeared in numerous American magazines as both herself and as Annette Casir. At least, that's the rundown online sources give, and the internet never gets it wrong, right? Wrong. A Finnish hosted database of European pageant winners lists no Miss Denmark named Helle Wingsoe. We also checked out the other winners from the 1950s and none of them seem to be Wingsoe either. So that bit's wrong. Enquirer calls Wingsoe an actress but she accumulated no credits in any film productions, so that appears to be incorrect as well, though it's almost certain she aspired to be an actress. Maybe she had a few uncredited walk-ons. And lastly, we have doubts she's aka Annette Casir. Look at this photo (try to focus on the face, people), and compare it to the one below, which shows Wingsoe a bit more clearly. Are those the same person? Really hard to say, but we're dubious. Oh, and we almost forgot—we doubt she ever said she wanted to be some man's slave. Seriously, who would say something that ridiculous? But the bold text would have been pure catnip for the then-predominantly male readership of Enquirer. Anybody out there got better info on Wingsoe/Casir? Drop us a line. We'd love to know.
Good at getting married, bad at staying that way.
National Enquirer isn't a tabloid you think of as being vintage, but it goes back more than half a century, which makes it concurrent with revered publications like Confidential and Hush-Hush. This cover featuring Lana Wood caught our eye because, well, because she's Lana Wood. It also says she had three husbands before age twenty. That's true. She married Jack Wrather, Jr. in 1962, when she was sixteen, followed by Karl Brent and Stephen Oliver. Interestingly, all online sources say the Oliver marriage was in 1967, but this Enquirer dates from a year earlier, in fact from today in 1966. So someone's seriously wrong. Since we have evidence, we're saying all the online sources are mistaken. Wouldn't be the first time.
National Enquirer digs into JFK’s assassination.
Above is a cover of National Enquirer published today in 1967 with a headline informing readers that three days after identifying the photo of an alleged conspirator in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, a man named Eladio Ceferino del Valle was found dead in Miami. Good thing his photo is from a distance, because he had been severely beaten and shot in the chest, and his head had been chopped open. He died the same day another alleged Kennedy conspirator named David Ferrie died in New Orleans. Ferrie had two suicide notes next to him, but a coroner ruled the cause of death to be a naturally occurring aneurysm.
Enquirer scribe Charles Golden perhaps goes off the rails a bit in trying to tie Kennedy’s assassination to Fidel Castro. He brands del Valle a Castro double agent who pretended to flee Cuba just before the revolution, but who was working for Fidel the entire time. Golden then claims that “key investigators feel Castro’s higher-ups used homosexuals for the assassination,” the significance being that David Ferrie was gay and del Valle was bi-sexual. Golden tosses off this doozy on page two of his story: “Sexual deviation is taking on special importance as new evidence comes to light in the assassination probe.”
But even though Golden seems to let his own prejudices color his reporting, he does cite some interesting facts. Eladio del Valle’s and David Ferrie’s deaths occurred just as New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison, who was investigating Kennedy’s assassination, was planning to drag them into his probe. Eladio del Valle died three days after being contacted by Garrison, and Ferrie’s death came just days before Garrison planned to arrest him as part of his investigation. If all this sounds like the plot of Oliver Stone’s movie JFK, that’s because it basically is. But if any of it sounds untrue, it isn’t—it’s all public record. And if any of it sounds a bit crackpot, well, let’s just flip that term on its head, shall we?
When your wife goes to France for work you may want to consider going with her.
“Love in France isn’t what it used to be,” says French singer, dancer, and actress Leslie Caron. At least if National Enquirer is to be believed. This cover featuring an enchanting photo of Caron in a pixieish mode she made famous appeared today in 1960 when she was finishing work near Paris on the Napoleonic drama Austerlitz. At the time, she was having difficulties with her husband, actor Peter Hall. Caron wrote about the period in her autobiography Thank Heaven: “Temptations to have affairs were sometimes avoided, sometimes not.” In that context, this cover takes on added meaning. Would her husband have seen her words as reassuring or upsetting? In the end it didn’t matter. Filming 1961’s Fanny in Marseilles, Caron had an affair with cinematographer Jack Cardiff. So while love in France might not have been what it used to be, it was still good enough, seemingly. Caron’s subsequent whirlwind affair with Warren Beatty triggered a separation, and by 1965 she and Peter Hall divorced.
America’s most lovable hick decides to let her hair down.
This cover of National Enquirer appeared today in 1968 and features cover star Donna Douglas, who at the time was in the midst of a nine-year run as Elly May Clampett on the smash American television series The Beverly Hillbillies. Despite the headline here, Douglas was never wild in either her portrayals or her personal life, although some sources seem to think that during the filming of 1966’s Frankie and Johnny she had an affair with co-star and noted freak Elvis Presley. That’s untrue, as far as we can tell, but since Frankie and Johnny turned out to be Douglas’ only starring role in cinema, maybe she should have hooked up with the Pelvis—he went on to star in many more smash movies opposite such forgettables as Dodie Marshall and Annette Day.
Being first daughter isn’t all roses. For one thing, you have to endure second rate journalists making passes at you.
Seems about the right time to post this front from the National Enquirer that concerns itself with life in the White House. Or more specifically, with the life of first daughter Lynda Bird Johnson, who reveals she had more fun before her dad was president. Shocking? Perhaps back then it was. She says, “I wish everybody wouldn’t take such an interest in me. I sometimes wonder if all the photographers in the world have shares in Eastman Kodak. All they seem to do is shoot off film after film.” Enquirer scribe Jim Gordon doesn’t get to delve into this admission because he’s too busy trying to delve into Lynda Bird’s lady parts. The interview took place at a barbecue in Water Mill, New York, and at one point Gordon, who we’re told is 22, asks the 20-year-old Johnson out, declaring, “I’d love to date you. What’s your phone number?” She laughs it off, but Gordon isn’t finished. He starts to ask her to dance but changes his mind when he sees the Secret Service lurking.
In the end, the story feels like it’s more about Gordon than Johnson, but maybe it had to be, considering her meager quotes add up to about ninety seconds of real-world time. Probably Gordon was an aspiring freelancer who finagled his way into the function, briefly cornered Johnson, then whipped his encounter into a journalistic froth the Enquirer was only too happy to buy. It makes sense, because we can’t imagine anyone in the First Family consenting to be interviewed by a scandal rag, especially with an election mere weeks away—which we can discern from the publication date, today in 1964. But Gordon’s self promotion didn’t work, as far as we know. We can find no reference to him online, with the National Enquirer or anywhere else. As for Lynda Bird Johnson, thanks to Gordon’s non-interview readers learned little more about her than they already knew.
Even if it was only half true, it was still 100% shocking.
This National Enquirer published today in 1967 features cover star Hedy Lemarr promoting her 1967 autobiography Ecstasy and Me: My Life As a Woman. The title is taken from the 1933 Austrian film Ekstase, in which she appeared nude, shocking audiences of the time. Enquirer describes her book as shocking, as well, and indeed there are some surprising revelations. An example: while still living in her native Austria, she ran away from her husband and hid in an empty room in a brothel. A man came into the room and she had sex with him rather than let her husband find her. Lamarr claims to have had hundreds of lovers, male and female, and depicts herself variously as both a nymphomaniac and a kleptomaniac. But all of this comes with a caveat—her ghostwriter, the notorious Leo Guild, wrote various celeb biographies that played fast and loose with the truth. That said, even Guild was not imaginative enough to have fabricated everything in Ecstasy and Me.
As a side note, we should mention that Lamarr, along with George Anthiel, invented and patented an advanced frequency switching system that they envisioned for usage guiding torpedoes (the constant switching of frequencies would make them difficult to jam, thus more likely to reach their targets). Now, if you read other websites, most of them praise Lamarr as a military genius, and it’s true she had a highly developed technical mind, but the system she helped pioneer actually grew out of an idea to remotely control player pianos. In fact, the guidance system used eighty-eight frequencies, which is of course the number of keys on a standard piano. We think knowing that she applied a musical idea to military usage gives a somewhat fuller appreciation of how ingenious she actually was, rather than just picturing her as some kind of Oppenheimer type.
Ingenious or not, the U.S. Navy declined to purchase Lamarr and Anthiel’s system, but the moment the patent expired two decades later the military was all over it. We can’t discern with our limited resources whether this sudden decision to use the technology was coincidental or not, but certainly the result was that Lamarr got screwed out of probably millions of dollars. Or perhaps even more, when you consider that her and Anthiel’s frequency switching is closely related to that used today for global positioning systems and Bluetooth. Since Lamarr claimed in her book to have blown through more than thirty million dollars in her life, the fun and creative ways she might have spent a massive military windfall makes the mind boggle. We’ll get back to Hedy Lamarr a bit later, because she certainly deserves a more detailed treatment.
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1936—First Edition of Life Published
Henry Luce launches Life, a weekly magazine with an emphasis on photo-journalism. Life dominates the U.S. market for more than forty years, publishing scores of iconic photographs that remain some of the most recognizable ever shot, and peaking at one point with a circulation of more than 13.5 million copies a week.
1963—Doctor Who Debuts on BBC
The BBC broadcasts the first episode of Doctor Who, starring William Hartnell as a mysterious alien who time travels in his spaceship, the TARDIS. With his companions, he explores time and space while facing a variety of foes and righting wrongs. The show would become the longest-running science fiction series ever broadcast.
1963—John F. Kennedy Is Assassinated
In Dallas, Texas, U.S. President John F. Kennedy is killed and Texas Governor John B. Connally is seriously wounded as they ride in a motorcade through Dealy Plaza. Lee Harvey Oswald
, an employee of the schoolbook depository from which the shots were suspected to have been fired, was arrested on charges of the murder of a local police officer and was subsequently charged with the Kennedy killing. He denied shooting anyone, claiming he was a patsy, but was killed by Jack Ruby on November 24, before he could be indicted or tried. Today, Americans who believe JFK was killed as the result of a conspiracy are routinely dismissed
in the press, yet the vast majority of them believe Oswald did not act alone.
1959—Max Baer Dies
Former heavyweight boxing champ Max Baer dies of a heart attack in Hollywood, California. Baer had a turbulent career. He lost to Joe Louis in 1935, but two years earlier, in his prime, he defeated German champ and Nazi hero Max Schmeling while wearing a Star of David on his trunks. The victory was his legacy, making him a symbol to Jews, and also to all who hated Nazis.
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