Rumors of her demise were greatly exaggerated.
We've featured the Canadian tabloid Midnight numerous times. This one appeared on newsstands today in 1968. On the cover readers get a headline referring to Robert F. Kennedy, who had been assassinated the previous month. His name is accompanied by a prediction that his killer, Jordanian nationalist Sirhan Sirhan, would in turn be assassinated. It wasn't an outrageous prediction—during the late 1960s newsworthy figures were being dropped like three foot putts. Sirhan was never murdered, though, and he's still around today, languishing at Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility in San Diego County, California.
Sirhan is an interesting character, but it's the story on Susan Denberg we're interested in today. Denberg, née Dietlinde Zechner, is a German born beauty who became a Playboy Playmate of the Year and screen actress, was a desired Hollywood party girl who had relationships with Hugh Hefner and Jim Brown, and was generally regarded as one of the major sex symbols of her time. But she also became a drug addict. After making the 1968 film Frankenstein Created Woman Denberg returned to Europe and shunned the movie business. In fact, she kept such a low profile that for years sources incorrectly reported that she had died.
Midnight journo John Wilson claims to have visited Denberg in a Vienna mental hospital near the beginning of her self-imposed exile, and his article is basically a recounting of his chat with her. He describes her depressing surroundings and portrays her as a sort of broken bird, quoting her as saying, “I was a real party girl, going out every night, dating one man after another, running around doing wild things like getting drunk and dancing nude at parties. And then someone got me started on LSD and it made everything seem so clear. It was wonderful. Only I couldn't keep away from it, and after a while that was all I was doing, staying in my room and dropping LSD.”
In 1971 Denberg had a child, and by 1972 was making her living on the nudie bar circuit, working as a topless server at the adult cinema Rondell in Vienna, and later dancing fully nude at another Vienna nightspot called Renz. She also worked elsewhere in Europe, including Geneva, where in 1974 she tried to commit suicide by swallowing a reported 200 sleeping pills, an amount that surely would have been fatal had she not been quickly found and sped to a hospital. In 1976 she became a mother again and retired from nude dancing. Today she lives quietly in Vienna.
Denberg's story is filled with twists and turns, and yet it isn't unique in a place like Hollywood. As she makes clear, once enough power brokers, modeling agents, and studio types tell a woman she's special she's probably going to believe them, but once she believes them it's hard for her to keep her head on straight. She sums up her journey to Midnight, “They told me I was beautiful enough to go all the way to the top. They told me about all the fun up there, the kicks. They never told me about the booze and the drugs, the long slide down.”
Sabrina covers her biggest assets.
Every once in a while we run across stories about Hollywood stars insuring their body parts. A couple of examples: Bette Davis was famous for her small waist and insured it against weight gain for the equivalent of $400,000; and 1920s comedian Ben Turpin, who was famously cross-eyed, took out a policy of similar value should his eyes ever straighten. National Enquirer insists on this cover from today in 1960 that British starlet Sabrina, aka Norma Ann Sykes, insured her breasts. The tabloid is in fact correct—she allowed her manager Joe Matthews to insure her endowment with Lloyd's of London for £UK100,000. In today's cash that would be about £2.4 million, or $3.2 million. You may think that's excessive, but when's the last time your boobs caused a riot? Unfortunately the weight she carried on her torso led to chronic back pain and a failed attempt at a surgical fix that left her in a wheelchair for the rest of her life. She died in obscurity last year. It was a sad ending for the former sex symbol. But once upon a time she was a one-name star—just Sabrina—and a global obsession.
Take National Spotlite's dating advice and you might end up black and blue like its cover.
Looking at this cover of National Spotlite published today in 1971 teaches us one thing—black ink is cheap. The magazine has Austrian actress Marisa Mell on the cover in a nice shot we've never seen before. Also on the cover, editors promise you can learn to be a modern Don Juan, and inside they share “sure fire seduction methods.” We know you're dying to learn these, so for all you single boys out there we'll skip right to the actionable intel.
The thing to watch are a woman's thighs, the way she sits and moves. If she's squirming around in her seat a lot and crossing and uncrossing her thighs it probably indicates a lot of beneath-the-surface sexual tension. On the other hand, if she's sitting there calmly smiling at you it could mean she's a tease, trying to get you to come on to her so she can put you down.
There aren't many women who want to be picked up in an elevator at 8 o'clock in the morning. On the other hand, there aren't many women sitting alone in bars who don't want to be picked up. Walk up, buy her a drink, sit down and enjoy the entertainment. When she's finished her drink, take her by the arm and guide her outside. After that you've got it made.
Wow, to us this seems like terrible advice, particularly the part about grabbing a woman by the arm and leading her outside. That sounds like a quick shortcut to a swift knee in the nuts. But the advice doesn't end there. After all, the real point of every cheapie tabloid article about dating is to veer into graphic sleaze fiction. That's no less the case here:
To help with the satisfaction part guys of the ’70s should use tools of the ’70s. I never let a woman go the first night without a little treatment from the vibrator. I mean, there's a limit to what you can do with penis, fingers, tongue, and so forth. (edit. “and so forth?”) Take a vibrator and start working it around her breasts. Watch her nipples rise and swell. When [you use it] on her clitoris and vaginal lips, let the tips of your fingers dip into her nest.
We'll stop there, before the climax, so to speak. We aren't sure if National Spotlite is trying to create Don Juans or increase the number of restraining orders. We also find their prototypical stud—this guy below wearing a bowler hat and a carnation in his lapel—of questionable use as a role model. As far as we're concerned Spotlite reinforces the same old lesson—never take sex advice from a tabloid.
Introducing the official Pulp Intl. Cheapie Tabloid Drinking Game™.
Cheapie tabloids are such a joy to read. The vocabulary alone. Some choice words from this issue of Rampage published today in 1973: buttsters, hiney, clitty, throasts [sic], goosey, and more. The photos are nice too. Contemporary glamour models or erotic actresses tend to appear, and this one has Lillian Parker, who was both. Rampage uses her image for a story called “Sisters Admit They Have Perfect Sex Lives.” By perfect the editors mean they like to swap, which is another word you see basically only in old tabloids. It gave us an inspiration. We have a large stack of these bad mags, and we decided to create a drinking game. Here's how it works. You simply read stories aloud and take a drink every time these words occur (singularly or in the plural).
ball (verb form only)
broad (noun form only)
nympho (or nymphomaniac)
orgasm (as verb or noun)
prostie (prostitute doesn't count)
Sinatra (Ole Blue Eyes is also acceptable)
And down an entire shot if any of these phrases come up:
after school/after class/after church
high and firm
firm and proud
my wife's sister
Modify the rules as you see fit. Playing the game using two or three typical thirty-two page cheapie tabs like Rampage should get you fucked beyond repair—and ironically “repairman” might be what does you in, because in two tabloids we checked it came up seven times. But the real fun with this should be reading the insane stories. The drinks are merely a bonus.
National Informer Reader delves into the intricacies of male birth control.
By today in 1974, which is when this issue of National Informer Reader appeared, the magazine was nearing its end. It's easy to tell. There's less content than in pervious years, and there's a proliferation of penny-ante ads in the front half of the layout. In the magazine world it's understood that ads in the front are the ones most often seen by readers. The back page and inside back page are prime sports too, but otherwise it's the front half of the book that makes publishers money because advertisers pay more for it. But readers will skip past ads if they aren't adjacent to editorial content, so there needs to be a careful balance between the two. In this Reader that balance is gone. The entirety of pages two through seven are given over to ads and personals. You wanna know what angry is? Try the angry of an advertiser that opens your magazine and sees that his or her ad is surrounded not by readable content that keeps the reader on the page, but by other ads.
But there are still some treats even in a late stage Reader. “Older Women Are Flocking To Massage Parlors Run By Young Virile Studs” is pure gold, just for that descriptive header alone. But sometimes a header is so bizarre there's no way to tell what the story is about. “New Vasectomy Ties Tell Women Who To Date.” Huh? What the hell kind of ties do they mean? Like the ones they use to tie your tubes? Turns out they mean it literally. A vasectomy clinic in London allegedly gave patients neckties with Vs running down the front, indicating the wearer had been snipped. And supposedly women flocked to these guys. We've been unable to corroborate the story, but it feels different from the second rate bull tabloid editors usually concoct—heh, we said coct—so we suspect it's truthful. And fittingly, there's cock in this issue, and not on slobs either—on nice looking guys, though none are swinging low, if you know what we mean. But still, something for our female readers. And male readers too. You're welcome. Cock and bull below.
And if you're not careful he's likely to Walker all over you.
National Enquirer hits pause on its usual cheesecake, and on this cover from today in 1960 opts for some hairy hunkery in the form of U.S. actor Clint Walker. Walker was one of the early cowboy stars on television, headlining the hit series Cheyenne—named not for the city in Wyoming but for the character Cheyenne Bodie. There was a double entendre there, because the character was raised by Cheyenne Indians. In any case Walker manages to strike a nice penile pose with a lumberjack's crosscut saw. But as studly as he may appear, within the ranks of phallic cowboys he doesn't even come close to first place.
Everything you want in a woman—and more.
Above we have another cover from the always entertaining National Spotlite. This one appeared today in 1970 and showcases model Tany Kominski. Not to body shame Tany, especially since according to the cover text she's selling herself to the highest bidder, but she must have an enormous head under that mop. We'd go so far as to say impossibly huge, maybe even otherworldly. Hmm. Could it be the bouffant hairdo that was so trendy during the 1960s was invented by aliens trying to disguise their megacraniums?
We know, we know—there's no proof whatsoever of alien visitation to this planet, but a disguise is the most logical explanation for Tany's hairstyle. We've done a little retouching of the cover so you can see what her head probably looked like under that candyfloss, and just how wildly disproportionate it was. Convinced? Well, our mock-up isn't conclusive, we'll admit.
But it makes you think, doesn't it? And we're also convinced Tany wasn't the only one of her kind here on our unsuspecting planet. Below are other possible interstellar visitors, including a malevolent Hayley Mills, Jean Shrimpton, Dolly Parton, and Priscilla Presley, who ruins her disguise somewhat with her psycho alien eyes. You're asking yourself what these creatures want, right? Hey, they're females—they don't even know.
After two long years of unsolved killings National Star Chronicle points the accusatory finger at—nobody.
This edition of National Star Chronicle appeared today in 1964, and as you can see it blares the claim that the Boston Strangler had been caught. Eleven women in the Boston area had been slain during the early 1960s, with the victims ranging in age between nineteen and eighty-five, nearly all of whom were sexually assaulted or raped before bring killed. Boston police felt they were drawing close to a break in their marathon investigation, but the confessed killer Albert DeSalvo was not apprehended until the autumn of 1964. He was actually arrested for a different set of crimes known as the Green Man rapes, but he eventually claimed, while a patient at the Bridgewater State Hospital in southern Massachusetts, to have committed the Boston Strangler rape/killings.
The admission came in April 1965. In addition to the eleven killings police had tentatively linked, DeSalvo confessed to two more killings, bringing the unofficial total of his victims to thirteen. So Chronicle jumped the gun on their headline by a year, but we've all learned by now never to trust low rent tabloids, right?
At the time this Chronicle hit newsstands Boston police in fact still had dozens of suspects. The police sketch does resemble DeSalvo somewhat, who you see in his mugshot at bottom. Of course, the sketch also resembles other suspects in the case. In fact, it even resembles big brained Tany Kominski in the above post.
The police didn't immediately consider all the strangulations to be the work of one person. The age range of the victims, as well as some variations in the method of dispatch, had slowed them in seeing a connection. Later, after DeSalvo confessed, many observers doubted the real killer had been caught. In 2013 DNA testing definitively tied DeSalvo to the last victim in the murder chronology, 19-year-old Mary Sullivan, but public doubt over who killed the others continues to this day. Of course, the public is always doubtful. Meanwhile the prosecutors are certain they got the right guy. Of course, prosecutors are always certain. One thing's beyond doubt—National Star Chronicle didn't help clarify matters.
She was a material girl living in a material world.
Above is a 1960 National Enquirer with Barbara Nichols on the cover, and editors claiming she said “men, money, and me” make a perfect triangle. Nichols was never a top star, mainly guest starring on dozens of television shows, but she was a staple in tabloids because she dated many rich and famous men but never married, which is why we suspect Enquirer editors came up with their cover quote. Some of her escorts included Jack Carter, Steve Cochran, Cesar Romero, and Elvis Presley. Nichols died in 1976 aged forty-seven due to liver dysfunction. It had initially been torn in an auto accident a decade earlier and gave her problem the rest of her life. We have a pair of nice femme fatale photos of her and you can see those here, and well as an awesome album sleeve here.
They say even bad publicity is good publicity.
In this March 1957 issue of the tabloid Behind the Scene editors take swipes at assorted Hollywood icons, among them Yul Brenner, John Wayne, and others. Highlights include the allegation that Elvis Presley's career is mob controlled, that camera clubs are just fronts for porn peddlers, that Hedy Lamarr used Linda Lombard as a body double for Samson & Delilah, and that Lucrezia Borgia is the sexiest movie ever made. Also Mamie Van Doren's “secret weapon” is that anywhere she goes she always wears the least clothing of any woman present.
The shocking tales about Brynner have mainly to do with his claims of being a real life man of action, born on the Russian island of Sakhalin to Mongol ancestors. The truth was more mundane, but the lies helped Brynner establish himself as a star. As far as Elvis goes, he was dogged by rumors of Mafia ties later in his career, but this mention of a connection as far back as 1957 was a surprise to us. As always, people on both sides of the issue are willing to shout their version of the facts to the mountaintops, but nobody really knows who’s telling the truth. We’ll check with Elvis himself on this, since he lives just over in the next town since faking his death in 1977.
The interesting story here is the one about Gail Russell and John Wayne. Their acquaintanceship began when they starred in Angel and the Badman together in 1947, and continued when they reunited for Wake of the Red Witch in 1949. Whether they were more than just friends, nobody really knows. At the time Wayne was married to Esperanza Baur Díaz, and the relationship was marred by drinking and fighting, including one incident when Baur shot at Wayne. When the divorce inevitably came, it turned into one of the nastiest splits in years, with Baur accusing Wayne of being a violent drunk who beat her and fucked around with various women, including Russell, and Wayne accusing Baur of hanging around sleazy dive bars in Mexico, hooking up with strange men, and spending his money to entertain them.
The divorce was in 1953, but Behind the Scene, with this cover, is offering its readership dirt from an event that was still fresh in the public’s minds because it had been such a knock-down-drag-out spectacle. Russell had never weathered the limelight well, and she used booze to cope. Her long term drinking problem was exacerbated by the turbulence surrounding the Wayne-Baur split. Two weeks after the divorce she was arrested for drunk driving. It caused Paramount to decline renewing her contract, and she kind of floated around for a few years, trying to hook on with a new studio but drinking steadily all the while. In 1955 she crashed her car and fled the scene, and in early 1957 she drove though the plate glass windows of Jan’s Restaurant in Hollywood.
With hindsight, it’s clear Russell was in a death spiral, but in the Tinseltown of that day the situation was perhaps not so obvious. In August 1957, Russell was found unconscious in her home, passed out after a drinking binge. Even in Hollywood, she had now crossed the line from being merely a party girl to having a problem. She was persuaded to join AA, but couldn't stop drinking, and in August 1961 was found in her L.A. apartment, having died from liver damage, aged 36, another beautiful star that flamed out. All that and more, in thirty-plus scans below.
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
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.
1995—Mickey Mantle Dies
New York Yankees outfielder Mickey Mantle dies of complications from cancer, after receiving a liver transplant. He was one of the greatest baseball players ever, but he was also an alcoholic and played drunk, hungover, and unprepared. He once said about himself, "Sometimes I think if I had the same body and the same natural ability and someone else's brain, who knows how good a player I might have been."
1943—Philadelphia Experiment Allegedly Takes Place
The U.S. government is believed by some to have attempted to create a cloak of invisibility around the Navy ship USS Eldridge. The top secret event is known as the Philadelphia Experiment and, according to believers, ultimately leads to the accidental teleportation of an entire vessel.
1953—Soviets Detonate Deliverable Nuke
The Soviet Union detonates
a nuclear weapon codenamed Reaktivnyi Dvigatel Stalina, aka Stalin's Jet Engine. In the U.S. the bomb is codenamed Joe 4. It is a small yield fission bomb rather than a multi-stage fusion weapon, but it makes up for its relative weakness by being fully deployable, meaning it can be dropped from a bomber.
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