Best ever reason to brave crosstown traffic.
Sultry Puerto Rico born actress Rita Moreno, who many remember from her role as Anita in the 1961 Hollywood adaptation of the 1957 Broadway musical West Side Story, is one of the few performers to have won all four major annual American entertainment awards—i.e. the Oscar, the Emmy, the Grammy, and the Tony. She's also won a Golden Globe, been awarded a Presidential Medal of Freedom and a National Medal of the Arts, received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and been bestowed the Screen Actors Guild Life Achievement Award. There are even more awards, too numerous to list, and on top of all of them, she was also awarded some awesome genes, because not only is she very beautiful in the top photo from around 1960, but she still looks good today at age eighty-five.
McQueen's love affair with speed continues unabated.
Above are a few very rare promotional photos of American actor Steve McQueen motoring about on a Suzuki T20 racing motorcycle during a break in filming The Sand Pebbles in Taiwan. This guy just loved bombing around in fast machines, as we've documented here and here. These particular images were made in 1966 and appeared in the Japanese film Screen in 1967.
Screenland was one of the earliest and biggest cinema magazines.
Actress Claire Windsor appears on the front of this October 1923 issue of Screenland magazine, one of the U.S.’s most venerable celeb publications, launched in Los Angeles in 1920 and surviving, under the control of several owners, until finally folding in 1971. The beautiful cover was painted by Rolf Armstrong, and within the magazine’s sprawling 108 pages are Gloria Swanson, Rodolph (aka Rudolph) Valentino, Phyllis Havers, and many other personalities, plus art from John Held, Jr. and writing from Delight Evans and Robert E. Sherwood. You can download your own copy of this here.
Steve and Marilyn. Steve and Lola. It’s a great pairing either way.
Steve McQueen and Marilyn Monroe may or may not have met in real life (some sources say they, uh, knew each other), but pairing them in print is still a bit of an inspired move. Or maybe you think the significant pairing is McQueen with a Lola T70 MKIII B race car. Hey, whatever turns you on. In any case, this is a December 1972 foldout poster from Japan’s Screen magazine, with McQueen (and Lola) on one side and Monroe on the reverse. The McQueen photo was made during the filming of Le Mans the previous year, and the Monroe shot is obviously the one made famous by Playboy back in 1953. Screen produced many posters, all of which are rare today (for instance, the amazing Raquel Welch image here). We have more of these somewhere and we’ll get them online eventually.
Ronald Reagan gets the maximum Confidential treatment.
The old tabloids really savaged politicians. Liberals and conservatives alike got their turn and in this issue of Confidential from March 1967, Ronald Reagan gets roasted. The story by Roger Baldwin brands Reagan an “ex-pinko,” whispers about his “hushed-up divorce,” notes that a portion of his following is a “nut fringe,” and mentions “race-hate rumors” that surround him. There’s a line in all caps: Ronald Reagan Elected President. It’s a neat little trick, because he’d just been sworn in as Governor of California two months earlier, but the writer is actually referencing Reagan’s 1946 election to the presidency of the Screen Actors Guild, and using that event to hint at his 1968 White House ambitions (which, by the way, are derided as “a passion for power”). We won’t comment on the veracity of Baldwin’s claims, but his portrayal of Reagan does make us think of something that isn’t mentioned about Hollywood actors very often, if ever. Consider—none of them would make even a fraction of the money they do without their strong trade union, which means they owe what they have to the liberal ideal of worker solidarity. And yet many actors (and for that matter many athletes, also made fantastically rich largely thanks to unionization) are conservatives. It’s a bit of a paradox, don’t you think? In any case, Reagan survived Confidential’s scathing attack and made that all-caps line—Ronald Reagan Elected President—come true, not in 1968, but twelve years later.
Actually, you’re playing the queen of Spurta, not Sparta, but otherwise this is pretty much like the Greek myth.
So much for taking a few days off. We’ll get out of town eventually, but since we didn’t actually leave, it gives us a chance to show you Anthony Dean’s Screen Test, from Wee Hours Books, 1966. And though the cover art by Gene Bilbrew isn’t great, we like it because it shows the moment when it dawns on the actress that when her agent said, “The movie is about fifty men crammed inside the Trojan horse,” she must have misheard the last word.
The song of the south.
We found this old issue of the Japanese film magazine Screen that is totally dedicated to the American movie epic Gone with the Wind. It dates from May 1969, thirty years after the film was made, and our first assumption was that the movie didn’t play in Japan until then. But no, it premiered in the Land of the Rising Sun in September 1952. We were baffled for a while, and then we made a discovery—a musical version of Gone with the Wind entitled Scarlett opened in Japan in 1969. It was fully eight hours long, divided into two parts that were mounted as separate productions, and they were smash hits. We suspect this issue of Screen was produced because the musical generated great interest in the original film. We’ve already talked a bit about Gone with the Wind. We never liked it because it depicts a culture that was completely depraved as some sort of glorious nirvana. And because of its enduring popularity, many Americans’ concept of the antebellum south derives from what is little more than a fairytale. But that aside, the movie is undeniably well made, and we thought it worthwhile to share at least a few of Screen's photos. We’ll have more from this magazine later.
The eye of de Wulf.
These covers for 1952’s Une âme perdue and 1953’s La passé de Khatmandou and La défaite des radars by prolific French author Jack Screen, aka Charles-Antoine Gonnet, were all illustrated by Jef de Wulf. De Wulf, who was born Joseph de Wulf, painted more than 500 covers during a career in Belgium and France that lasted forty years. You can see more of his art at a French blog dedicated to him here, and we'll have more from Gonnet/Screen later.
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1911—Team Reaches South Pole
Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen, along with his team Olav Bjaaland, Helmer Hanssen, Sverre Hassel, and Oscar Wisting, becomes the first person to reach the South Pole. After a celebrated career, Amundsen eventually disappears in 1928 while returning from a search and rescue flight at the North Pole. His body is never found.
1944—Velez Commits Suicide
Mexican actress Lupe Velez, who was considered one of the great beauties
of her day, commits suicide by taking an overdose of sleeping pills. In her note, Velez says she did it to avoid bringing shame on her unborn child by giving birth to him out of wedlock, but many Hollywood historians believe bipolar disorder was the actual cause. The event inspired a 1965 Andy Warhol film entitled Lupe
1958—Gordo the Monkey Lost After Space Flight
After a fifteen minute flight into space on a Jupiter AM-13 rocket, a monkey named Gordo splashes down in the South Pacific but is lost after his capsule sinks. The incident sparks angry protests from the American Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, but NASA says animals are needed for such tests.
1968—Tallulah Bankhead Dies
American actress, talk show host, and party girl
Tallulah Bankhead, who was fond of turning cartwheels in a dress without underwear and once made an entrance to a party without a stitch of clothing on, dies in St. Luke's Hospital in New York City of double pneumonia complicated by emphysema.
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