Femmes Fatales Dec 23 2018
DRUCILLA THE THRILLA
In this instance it's fine to Strain your eyes.


This rather awesome photo shows U.S. actress, singer, and dancer Drucilla Strain, a Ziegfeld Girl and Broadway performer whose career ran from 1929 to the mid-1940s. The date given on this everywhere online is 1920 but that's wrong. She was a child then. The image is probably from 1930 or 1931, which was right around the time her show business career was getting off the ground. The photo—again, rather awesome—was made by famed lensman Alfred Cheney Johnston, part of a trove of unseen studio nudes unearthed after his death in 1971.

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Femmes Fatales Dec 4 2016
LIFE OF REILLY
Pearls sometimes complete an outfit, but it's the girl that always completes the pearls.

Anastasia Reilly began her show business career tap dancing in New York City at age fourteen, by seventeen was nationally famous as a Ziegfeld Girl, and in this Strauss-Peyton (Benjamin R. Strauss and Homer Peyton) image is on top of the world in a $50,000 string of pearls. That would be about $680,000 today, which sounds like a lot until you learn some pearl necklaces top $2 million, including an $11 million ruby-studded collar that once belonged to Elizabeth Taylor. The above shot was made when Reilly was appearing in the Ziegfeld musical Louie the 14th, which ran for more than three-hundred performances at the Cosmopolitan Theatre through most of 1925. Her role was minor, but we daresay her visual impact was major, even in costume.

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Vintage Pulp Aug 24 2015
A CLAIRE DAY
A new woman for a new era.


This issue of Paris Magazine features a beautiful Louis-Charles Royer cover of Ziegfeld star Claire Luce, one of the most popular celebrities of her time. Her heyday was the 1920s and ’30s, a period during which—though this is little remarked upon today—substantially more women began to have sex before marriage. By the time the first surveys took place in the 1940s about 50% of women admitted to having pre-marital sex. Anecdotally, during the 1920s probably at least one in four women had sex as singles. Claire Luce was a pioneer of the female right to choose. A mere eight-year span of her diary describes sixty lovers.

Luce very much personifies a seismic shift in the values of Western women. Many scholars say it happened because they moved into the university and the workplace around that time, and that was indeed an important factor because it brought women and men into mutual contact outside of family and church situations. But it’s clear the prime mover was the trauma of World War I and the loss of 37 million lives in a conflict that taught those who came of age around then that life could be short and joy could be fleeting. This factor is nearly always downplayed in studies of that time, though we have never understood why. It is too obvious?
 
Even with their numbers increasing, relatively few women were in the university and workplace. But virtually no Western family went untouched by the war. Those 37 million deaths reached deep into every town, every enclave, every social class. Nearly everyone had lost a father, a brother, an uncle, or at least a family friend. And if a loved one actually survived battle, they often returned to preach the futility of war to the generation below them—or by their mere broken presence serve as a warning. Ernest Hemingway captured this in The Sun Also Rises, which focuses on Jake, prevented by a war wound from having sex, and Lady Brett, who loves Jake but must constantly seek lovers elsewhere.

Of course, there are many factors behind any social shift, but rapid change typically derives from chaos. Ask any neo-con or disaster capitalist. The primary effect of war or warlike events upon society is to alter how it views life, death, and personal freedom. In the past, the spectre of death made people want more freedom to live as they saw fit; in our present era, traumatic events have resulted in people agreeing to sacrifice their personal freedom (thanks to powerful suggestions and hard work by opportunistic governments).

Anyway, just an interesting digression concerning Paris Magazine
’s cover star. Like predecessors such as Dorothy Parker, and
peers like Tallulah Bankhead, she was a sexual trendsetter, a new type of woman for a radically reordered Western world. She’s also about as pulp as it gets. We may get back to Claire Luce a bit later, but in the meantime we have a bunch of interior scans from Paris Magazine below, and more issues available at the click of a mouse. This edition, number 34, appeared in 1934. 

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Intl. Notebook Feb 20 2014
HAVING A FIELDS DAY
Are you serious? You call that thing a nose?

Comedian W.C. Fields, née William Claude Dukenfield, jokes around with chorus girls Helen Ellsworth, Helene Sheldon, Cricket Wooten, and Margy Martyn during a rehearsal for Florenz Ziegfeld’s Ziegfeld Follies revues. Fields was a Follies cast member off and on from 1915 until 1925. He was known from the beginning of his career for having a large nose, and it reddened and grew over time due to rosacea and rhinophyma. This shot is from today, 1925. 

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Femmes Fatales Feb 5 2013
SCHALLEY DANCE?
And now for my talent I’m going to stun the room into total silence.

We’re reaching a bit farther back than usual for a femme fatale with this great Alfred Cheney Johnston image of Jacqueline Schalley, aka Jacqueline Schally, a Folies Bergère and Ziegfeld dancer who was once chosen the “Fairest Girl in France.” Based on that distinction she was sent to the U.S. to do a nationwide publicity tour before competing in New York City in an international beauty pageant. No word on whether she won, but then again, the judges probably never saw her like this. Photo is from 1927.

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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
April 21
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.
April 20
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.
April 19
1927—Mae West Sentenced to Jail
American actress and playwright Mae West is sentenced to ten days in jail for obscenity for the content of her play Sex. The trial occurred even though the play had run for a year and had been seen by 325,000 people. However West's considerable popularity, already based on her risque image, only increased due to the controversy.
1971—Manson Sentenced to Death
In the U.S, cult leader Charles Manson is sentenced to death for inciting the murders of Sharon Tate and several other people. Three accomplices, who had actually done the killing, were also sentenced to death, but the state of California abolished capital punishment in 1972 and neither they nor Manson were ever actually executed.
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