What are you staring at, chérie? Have you never seen a hat before?
French burlesque dancer Yvonne Ménard is all smiles, and why not? That thing she wears between her legs probably tickles. Ménard also may be smiling because when these photos were taken she was about as famous as a dancer could be. She had started as a nude mannequin at La Cigale, then joined the cast of Folies Bergère as a replacement for a departing Josephine Baker after understudying the great American star during the 1949 season. Ménard was twenty when she took the lead role—the photos above were made backstage at the Folies shortly afterward. One of the acts Ménard developed showed her struggling against the lure of opium. She wore only her famous glittering leaf, and battled dark male figures only to be eventually carried by them into a smoking pit.
Ménard’s performances were a bit different from Baker’s—she couldn’t sing as well, and her dancing was a work in progress, but she would eventually master various flips and aerial maneuvers, which she once demonstrated for a photo feature in Life magazine. She toured the U.S. numerous times, making stops in New York, Miami Beach, and Las Vegas, and also performed in South America. Somewhere in there she made time to appear on the cover of the third issue of Playboy, in February 1954, and writer Georges Tabet said inside the issue, “Yvonne is the crystallization of Paris. She’s got a petit quelque chose—a little something—that you have to be born with. Chevalier, he has it in his smile. Edith Piaf has it in her voice. This one—she has it all over.”
Aren’t you a little old for this sort of thing?
Bernard Wolfe is known for several reasons, not least of them for being Leon Trotsky’s personal secretary in Mexico City, but he was also a novelist of wide-ranging interests. Come On Out, Daddy was his Hollywood book, about a New York author who moves out west to cash in on an easy screenwriting job. While making a couple thousand dollars a week for doing very little he runs into the usual assortment of jaded Tinseltown characters—from big stars to little wannabes—and trysts with an assortment of disposable beauties before of course meeting the woman of his dreams. It’s episodic due to it being partly cobbled together from short stories published in Playboy and Cavalier, but reasonably well regarded as a cultural satire. Life described it as “garrulously and surrealistically told by a huge cast of people in varying stages of corruption.” 1963 on the hardback, and 1964 on the above, with cool cover art by James Meese.
, Mexico City
, Macfadden-Bartell Corporation
, Life Magazine
, Come On Out Daddy
, Bernard Wolfe
, James Meese
, Leon Trotsky
, cover art
Sørensen throws Playboy fans off her trail.
Tempo was a pocket-sized celeb and pop culture magazine published bi-weekly out of Atlanta and New York City by Sports Report, Inc. We don’t know how long it lasted—this one is vol. 7, issue 9—but we know we’ve never seen one dated before 1953 or after 1958. When Dane Arden appeared on the cover of this one from today in 1956, she was already famous thanks to her appearance as Playboy’s centerfold just the previous month. But she had posed under her real name Elsa Sørensen, and back then that may have kept most Playboy readers from realizing Sørensen and Arden were the same person. We have no idea if that was her intention, or why she’d have wanted to do it, but it’s curious. Our guess is that Playboy wanted an exclusive association with her Sørensen identity, and pressed her to choose a new name for future modeling. Or perhaps she thought of magazines like Tempo as lower class, and didn’t want to diminish her Playboy image. Strange, considering Tempo had been around longer, but possible. Or maybe she simply thought Elsa Sørensen was a little too Danish sounding for Hollywood. But there’s no evidence she ever had an interest in movies, and if she did wouldn’t she have been sacrificing much of the useful recognition she’d gained as a Playboy centerfold? All we can say is it’s one of history’s little mysteries. Hmm… that has a nice ring. Think we’ll claim that one—History’s Little Mysteries™. More Dane/Elsa below, plus Brigitte Bardot, Shirley Falls, Erroll Garner, Sabrina, the Cleveland Browns, Anita Ekberg, et al.
, New York City
, Sports Report Inc.
, Dane Arden
, Elsa Sorensen
, Elsa Sørensen
, Shirley Falls
, Jan Harrison
, Otto Graham
, Paul Brown
, Brigitte Bardot
, Gina Lollobrigida
, Caroline Huet
, Shelley Winters
, Eva Bartok
, Sam Wanamaker
, Joan Collins
, Pier Angeli
, Lisa Montell
, Anna Maria Alberghetti
, Errol Garner
, Norma Sykes
, Anita Ekberg
Wood nymph loses her seasonal concealment.
Above, an unidentified model poses for an autumnal Technicolor print entitled “Woodland Nymph.” Though this could actually be a drought somewhere rather than autumn, we’re going with planetary tilt as the reason the normally secretive nymph has lost her cover of leaves and flowers. Recognize the model? Drop us a line if you do. As a hint, the copyright on this is 1959.
Update: Marcos comes to the rescue again, and informs us: The woman in this picture is American actress and model Marilyn Hanold. She appeared in some films and TV shows throughout the 50's and 60's. She was also Playboy's Playmate of the Month in June 1959 and the model who posed for Gil Elvgren's iconic pin-up painting "Riding High."
Virginity wasn’t against the law, but topless dancing was—until she came along.
Burlesque dancer Yvonne D’Angers graces the cover of this Midnight published today in 1967. She was born in Teheran, Iran and reached the height of her fame after a 1965 obscenity trial, a government threat to deport her, a publicity stunt where she chained herself to San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge, and a 1966 appearance in Playboy. There’s surprisingly little about her online—not even a measly Wikipedia page. But she was important within her milieu—she was one of four defendants in the aforementioned obscenity trial, along with Carol Doda, Kay Star, and Euraine Heimberg, and the acquittal legalized topless dancing and waitressing in San Francisco. That decision made San Fran the first city in the U.S. where this was the case.
D’Angers’ main haunt was the Off Broadway on Kearney Street, but she also danced at Gigi’s, which was located on Broadway, and she worked in Las Vegas, in addition to touring the U.S. She was married to Off Broadway owner Voss Boreta, and he was her manager, making her part a client list that included Doda and the topless girl-band The Ladybirds. She was also—though this is not often noted—a college graduate anda painter. She billed herself as being naturally endowed, but both she and Doda were said by people who knew them early in their careers to have been worked on by cosmetic surgeons. The above shots of D’Angers, pre-fame, pre-blonde, versus post-fame, 44D, hanging out with Trini Lopez, seem to confirm those stories. Well have more on D’Angers (and Doda) later. Iran
, San Francisco
, Las Vegas
, Yvonne D’angers
, Carol Doda
, Kay Star
, Euraine Heimberg
, Voss Boreta
, Trini Lopez
The bodies are really starting to pile up today.
Just because we can, here’s another movie poster, this one for Karin: un corpo che brucia, which means “Karin: A body that burns.” They have a different type of body in mind than the makers of Cadavere per signora, but we’re calling this a theme anyway. The English title of the movie was Playmates, and the original French title was Le bal des voyous, which means “the ball of thugs” —ball like a dance. Sounds like an occasion to be avoided, save for the fact that it has Linda Veras and ex-Playboy playmate Donna Michelle, both below. They star with Jean-Claude Bercq and Henri Verdier, and the year was 1968.
No crown needed.
Actress Zeudi Araya was born in Asmara, Eritrea, was crowned Miss Eritrea in 1968, and used the recognition to launch a film career in Italy in 1973. She appeared in about a dozen movies, released a few records, posed for numerous magazines, including Playboy, and most recently shifted into movie production. This tasteful shot appeared in the Italian magazine Playmen and dates from 1976.
Diane Webber brings a bit of warmth to winter in Baltimore.
Today’s Technicolor lithograph features a recognizable figure for once—the much adored Diane Webber, a California born model, dancer, and actress who was also known as Marguerite Empey and became one of the most important fixtures of the 1950s and 1960s nudist magazine scene. You can see a few examples of those here. Webber was also a two-time Playboy centerfold under her Empey persona, in May 1955 and February 1956. We’ve mentioned before that the blank spaces at the tops of these Technicolor prints were made for the insertion of advertising, and at right you see how that worked with a calendar for a Baltimore, Maryland establishment called Stanley’s Drive-In. The original image came from the A. Scheer Company, was called Exclusively Yours, and appeared in 1955. The calendar came out in the winter of 1958.
A bouquet so nice it needed to be delivered twice.
Does this model look familiar? She might, if you visit here frequently. She’s the same unidentified star of an undressable Technicolor lithograph we shared around Christmas time. In the above image her pose is almost—but not quite—identical to that in the December image. You can compare them by looking here. The earlier shot was from K.L.M., while the one above was published by J.S.I. Both of them are from the early 1950s. Now look below. Yes, you’re seeing double. Well, almost. The print down there came from Corp. A. Fox in 1956. If you look closely you’ll see that the logo at lower right and title at lower left are different than above. The above shot is titled “Secret,” as in secret admirer, we presume, and the below shot is titled “Remembrance,” as in we hope the florist remembered to remove the thorns.
The change of logo and title shows how these images spread from company to company. Possibly each publisher bought the rights for a short time, leaving the owner free to peddle the same shots again later. Alternatively, K.L.M. bought the negs for a long period but was absorbed by A. Fox at some point. We wouldn’t doubt it—there were many publishers of these shots, and it seems unlikely they all thrived. Buying out a failing company and acquiring its images would be good business. It gets complicated, though, because as we now know, some of these pin-ups come from negatives owned by Playboy and were printed with the bunny logo, which suggests licensing deals. We’re still doing research on that aspect of the industry, so maybe we’ll know more later. In meantime, anyone recognize the model?
We have no idea what she’s doing, but she’s really good at it.
This Technicolor lithograph from Champion Line is entitled “Practice Session.” We don’t know what the unidentified model is practicing, though. The panca pose from Ashtanga yoga? The funky worm? Whatever she’s doing she looks good. No year on this one, but figure around
1960 (actually 1953 or 1954 on the original shot, with the print coming sometime later—see below).
Update: We got an e-mail from Marcos: "I just wanted to say that the woman in your post is American model and former Playmate Diane Hunter. She was first known as Donna Hunter, and her real name is Gale Rita Morin. She appeared two times in Playboy magazine. She was first featured in the last page of the debut issue of the magazine in 1953 (the iconic Marilyn Monroe issue). She also posed as the centerfold in 1954, becoming the first Miss November ever. She is still alive and she is a wonderful woman.
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1942—Nightclub Fire Kills Hundreds
In Boston, Massachusetts, a fire
in the fashionable Cocoanut Grove nightclub kills 492 people. Patrons were unable to escape when the fire began because the exits immediately became blocked with panicked people, and other possible exits were welded shut or boarded up. The fire led to a reform of fire codes and safety standards across the country, and the club's owner, Barney Welansky, who had boasted of his ties to the Mafia and to Boston Mayor Maurice J. Tobin, was eventually found guilty of involuntary manslaughter.
1934—Baby Face Nelson Killed
In the U.S., killer and bank robber Baby Face Nelson, aka Lester Joseph Gillis, dies in a shoot-out with the FBI in Barrington, Illinois. Nelson is shot nine times, but by walking directly into a barrage of gunfire manages to kill both of his FBI pursuers before dying himself.
1922—Egyptologists Enter Tut's Tomb
British Egyptologists Howard Carter and Lord Carnarvon become the first people to enter the tomb of Pharaoh Tutankhamun in over 3000 years. Though sometimes characterized as scholars, Carter and Carnarvon were primarily interested in riches, and cut up Tut's mummy to more easily obtain the jewels and gold affixed to him.
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