A little of the old razzmatazz.
U.S. actress Janet Blair does the top hat and cane routine in this promo image made for her 1942 movie Broadway. It was one of her early roles, and she starred opposite George Raft, who portrayed himself in the film. Blair went on to amass many screen credits, but for our money her best effort is I Love Trouble, which we discussed a couple of years ago. You can read about it here.
Bartender, give me another. And put a shot of optimism in this one.
Above: a promo shot of Ann Sothern made when she was filming the interestingly named 1942 flick Panama Hattie, which was based on a Broadway production of the same name. She plays a saloon keeper, which is sort of pulp, but it's a musical romance, which ain't pulp. That's probably why she looks so sad.
She barely stomached Hollywood.
Adele Jergens, who appeared in I Love Trouble, The Corpse Came C.O.D., The Dark Path, and numerous other films, got her start in show business, like so many actresses of her era, when she won the a beauty contest—Miss World's Fairest, at the 1939 New York World's Fair. Later, as one of the famed Rockettes dancing troupe, she was named the number one showgirl in New York City. This led to her serving as understudy to burlesque dancer Gypsy Rose Lee in the Broadway production Star and Garter, and from there Jergens never looked back. That's probably why she forgot half of her sweater. This fun image of her with bare midriff was made in Los Angeles in 1946, by the pool at the famed Town House Hotel, a locale we've talked about more than once. Find out why by clicking its keywords below and scrolling through those posts, and you can do the same with Jergens if you want to see what else we've posted about her.
Okay, class, now let's see if you think math is boring.
This photo shows U.S. actress Janis Paige wearing a swimsuit covered with lightning bolts, which we can only assume was made by someone who forgot that water and lightning can be a lethal mix. Paige also has a nifty lightning bolt pointer which she's using to highlight equations having to do with gamma rays. We doubt they're legit, but what actually was legit is Paige's career. It spanned six decades and included several notable films, but her star shone brightest on Broadway, where she was a huge hit in Remains To Be Seen, The Pajama Game, and other extravaganzas. We don't have a date on this photo, but figure around 1950. See another here.
Nobody ever said finding the right balance in life was easy.
Above is a striking image of German-born Norwegian ballerina and actress Vera Zorina holding a very difficult pose. We know it's difficult because when we tried it we smashed a coffee table and crippled a cat. Just kidding. The table turned out to be fine. Zorina was born Eva Hartwig, a name that probably sounds beautiful to the German ear, but when she went to the U.S. most people she introduced herself to probably went, “You've a heart what?” So she changed her name to something more mellifluous and proceeded to showcase her dance skills throughout the ’40s, ’50s, and ’60s in eight films and seven Broadway productions, some choreographed by her husband, the legendary George Balanchine. This photo was shot at their home in Beverly Hills in 1941.
Hello—I'll be your fashionably dressed assailant today.
U.S. actress Julie Haydon, née Donatella Donaldson, gives the camera a steely-eyed look in this promo for her film Come On, Danger, in which she played a suspected murderess. Her film credits are extensive, with most of them accrued during the 1930s, and she also starred in quite a few Broadway productions, with most of those coming during the ’40s. This stylish photo of her dates from 1932.
She was the original funny girl but her life was not all laughs.
U.S. born Fanny Brice, née Fania Borach, was a theater, radio, and film actress mainly remembered today as the creator and star of the radio comedy series The Baby Snooks Show. For a time she was one of the most popular performers in America. What makes Brice pulp worthy? She fell in love with her second husband Nicky Arnstein while he was serving time in Sing Sing prison for wiretapping. After his release she lived with him for six years before finally marrying him in 1919. In 1924 Arnstein was charged in connection with a Wall Street bond theft, and Brice used much of her wealth on a failed legal defense that ended with him going to Leavenworth Prison. After he got out three years later he disappeared and left Brice to care for their two children. A decade after Brice died in 1951 Barbra Streisand portrayed her in the Broadway musical Funny Girl, later adapted to cinema. Both the musical and movie play Brice life events a bit lighter than they must have been in reality, but both were huge hits and brought Brice's name back into the mainstream—right where she would have wanted it. The racy photo you see here is from around 1915.
Yes, I’d like to order a pair of curtains, immediately please.
The French had a wide array of nudie—er, we mean, art—magazines during the mid-century period, including Paris-Hollywood and Folies de Paris et de Hollywood, which are the two we’ve focused on up to now. Regal was another popular publication—digest sized, light on text, and put together by Éditions Extentia, an outfit based out of 38 Rue du Monte-Thabor in Paris that also published Sensations, Chi-Chis, Paris-Broadway, and Paris-Tabou. It was a far-flung enterprise, even distributing issues in distant French Indochina via the loftily named Société Franco-Asiatique located in Saigon. Or if one preferred, issues could be obtained direct from France through the use of “envoi discret,” or discreet shipping, by which we expect they mean in a plain brown wrapper. This issue of Regal, with its voyeur themed cover photo suggesting a woman spied through an open window, was published in 1952. We have twenty-five scans below.
She may not be a champion of the ring, but she’s a winner just the same.
This photo of Elsie Connor looked to us as if it had been Photoshopped in a very interesting way but it wasn’t—we found a version on Getty Images and it was identical to what you see above. The image and the fact that she’s identified as an Irish boxing champion on various websites made us curious about her career, but after a bit of digging we discovered that she was actually a dancer and chorus girl, and appeared in the 1930 musical Earl Carroll's Sketch Book, the 1929 shows Fioretta and Earl Carroll’s Vanities, and the 1928 production Here’s Howe. That’s a pretty short career, and one that lacked any starring roles, but thanks to the internet she’s famous again, looking like a real world beater. The only thing is, we doubt she was ever a boxer. We can’t be 100% sure, but with no evidence that she ever stepped into a ring, as well as a very clear understanding of how often the world wide web is world wide wrong, we suspect this is just a very, er, striking publicity photo. It dates from 1931.
Who can take a tragedy and make it a success? The Candyman can.
A world-weary Sammy Davis, Jr. appears here in a photo shot by Peter Basch in the back of a Chicago limousine. Davis was about to go to New York to star on Broadway in Clifford Odets and William Gibson’s Golden Boy, a musical involving a boxer’s turbulent career, doomed interracial romance, and eventual suicide. Not exactly an uplifting night out, yet the show ran for 569 performances and the cast album cracked the Top 40. That’s called star power, and Davis, who was already huge in Hollywood and the music industry, had it to spare. The photo dates from 1964.
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1930—Selassie Becomes Emperor
Haile Selassie I, whose birth name Tafari Makonnen and title "Ras" give the Rastafarian religion its name, is proclaimed emperor of Ethiopia. Selassie would become one of the most important leaders in African history, and earn global recognition through his resistance to Italy's illegal invasion of Ethiopia in 1935. Selassie died in August 1975 under disputed circumstances.
1984—Marvin Gaye Dies from Gunshot Wound
American singer-songwriter Marvin Gaye, who was famous for a three-octave vocal range which he used on hits such as "Sexual Healing" and "What's Going On," is fatally shot in the chest by his father after an argument over misplaced business documents. Gaye scored forty-one top 40 hit singles on Billboard's pop singles chart between 1963 and 2001, sixty top 40 R&B hits from 1962 to 2001, and thirty-eight top 10 singles on the R&B chart, making him not only one of the most critically acclaimed artists of his day, but one of the most successful.
1930—Movie Censorship Enacted
In the U.S., the Motion Pictures Production Code is instituted, imposing strict censorship guidelines on the depiction of sex, crime, religion, violence and racial mixing in film. The censorship holds sway over Hollywood for the next thirty-eight years, and becomes known as the Hays Code, after its creator, Will H. Hays.
1970—Japan Airlines Flight 351 Hijacked
In Japan, nine samurai sword wielding members of the Japanese Communist League-Red Army Faction hijack Japan Airlines flight 351, which had been en route from Tokyo to Fukuoka. After releasing the passengers, the hijackers proceed to Pyongyang, North Koreas's Mirim Airport, where they surrender to North Korean authorities and are given asylum.
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