They're dressed for bed but it doesn't look like sleep is the plan.
We're back to Mike Ludlow today, with these two pin-up paintings of negligée clad beauties he created for Esquire magazine. As we mentioned not long ago, Ludlow painted portraits of film stars, and as you can see here even the women that came from his imagination look a bit famous. For instance, to us these two look like Diana Dors (a little) and Elaine Stewart (a lot). Or is that just us? Regardless, they're beautiful creations.
Can you name the five stars in the constellation Ludlow the Genius?
Above you see five pin-up paintings that came from the brush of Mike Ludlow, an artist we featured the first time only recently. He rose from humble beginnings in Buffalo, New York, to become an acclaimed figure that at his zenith painted portraits of major actresses for Esquire magazine. That's where all these pieces were originally published, and if you haven't identified them all, they are, top to bottom, Anita Ekberg, Gina Lollobrigida, Virginia Mayo, Denise Darcel, and Betsy von Furstenberg. All these stars have been featured on Pulp Intl., and you can see interesting posts on them at the following links: Ekberg, Lollobrigida, Mayo, Darcel, von Furstenberg.
Varga's whimsical pin-ups make time stand still.
Below, every month from a Varga calendar published in Esquire magazine in 1948. Varga, aka Alberto Vargas, as you probably know was a top pin-up artist through the ’40s, ’50s, ’60s and ’70s. We have another complete calendar at this link, a movie poster here, and an interesting historical curiosity here.
Even Hollywood trailblazers get the blues.
This striking image, which appeared in Esquire magazine in April 1948, shows Maylia, an actress who played Eastern beauties onscreen but was born in Detroit, Michigan as Gloria Chin. Paramount Studios promoted her as “the first Chinese star since Anna May Wong,” and indeed she was—Chinese-American, that is, just like Wong. But in the end Maylia appeared in only six films. In fact she was one of the only Asian actresses appearing in films at all during the the mid-century period. After two years of decent roles from 1947 to 1949, followed by uncredited bits in ’51 and ’53, she left show business to have a family.
The thing is you got to keep moving.
Esquire magazine called Two-Lane Blacktop the movie of the year and devoted a cover to it, and many other critics also lent their applause. It stars James Taylor, Dennis Wilson, Warren Oates and nineteen-year-old Laurie Bird in a story of two hot-rodders who bet their cars on the result of a head-to-head cross country race. A similar movie had hit American cinemas months earlier in the form of Richard C. Sarafian’s Vanishing Point, but Two-Lane Blacktop not only has the usual feeling of road movie nostalgia due to its celebration of a peculiarly fragile type of freedom, but because it features an actress, also peculiarly fragile, who later committed suicide. Her role—all twenty or so lines of it—is iconic, even eternal, in our opinion. She’s the only one in the film who is completely free.
While most of the acting is slightly flat, as might be expected with two pop stars and a novice in three of the four main roles, these are not people who are supposed to be showing extravagant emotion. They’re nomadic, their attachments transitory, their stories made of small moments dwarfed by a big, desolate American landscape where only the cars are truly real. Detractors say nothing happens in the film, but that isn’t true—it’s just as plotted and dramatic as Shakespeare if you listen through the roar of engines and peer through the smoke. We consider it one of our favorite movies, and to quote Warren Oates, "Those satisfactions are permanent." Two-Lane Blacktop premiered in the U.S. during the summer of 1971, and raced into Japan beginning today in 1972.
Looking forward to each new day.
During our digging around at the Denver Book Fair we found one of the greatest calendars ever printed. This is not that calendar. So just imagine what we have in store. No, this is just a lil’ ole Varga calendar, published by Esquire magazine in 1946, and featuring twelve of Alberto Vargas’ classic pin-up paintings. In 1946 Vargas was doing quite well for himself, having established himself as one of the pre-eminent pin-up artists in the world. That success came to an abrupt halt that same year when Vargas lost a legal dispute with Esquire. It wasn’t until Playboy hired him in 1959 to paint a monthly Vargas Girl for the magazine that he regained a solid financial footing and reclaimed his throne as a top pin-up artist. Vargas died in 1982, but his work has continued to increase in value, with originals routinely auctioning for $10,000 or more. Actually, if you go online you even see sellers asking ten dollars for individual Vargas pages ripped from his old calendars. That strikes us as a bit extreme, but then we’re cheap, so what do we know? See the other Varga calendar we posted here.
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1939—Adams Completes Around-the-World Air Journey
American Clara Adams becomes the first woman passenger to complete an around-the-world air journey. Her voyage began and ended in New York City, with stops in Lisbon, Marseilles, Leipzig, Athens, Basra, Jodhpur, Rangoon, Bangkok, Hong Kong, Wake Island, Honolulu, and San Francisco.
1955—Nobel Prize Winners Unite Against Nukes
Eighteen Nobel laureates sign the Mainau Declaration against nuclear weapons, which reads in part: We think it is a delusion if governments believe that they can avoid war for a long time through the fear of [nuclear] weapons. Fear and tension have often engendered wars. Similarly it seems to us a delusion to believe that small conflicts could in the future always be decided by traditional weapons. In extreme danger no nation will deny itself the use of any weapon that scientific technology can produce.
1997—Versace Murdered in Miami
Italian fashion designer Gianni Versace is shot dead on the steps of his Miami mansion as he returns from breakfast at a cafe. His killer is Andrew Cunanan, a man who had already murdered four other people across the country and was the focus of an FBI manhunt. The FBI never caught Cunanan—instead he committed suicide on the houseboat where he was living.
1921—Sacco & Vanzetti Convicted
Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti are convicted in Dedham, Massachusetts of killing their shoe company's paymaster. Even at the time there are serious questions about their guilt, and whether they are being railroaded because of their Italian ethnicity and anarchist political beliefs.
1933—Eugenics Becomes Official German Policy
Adolf Hitler signs the Law for the Prevention of Hereditarily Diseased Offspring, and Germany begins sterilizing those they believe carry hereditary illnesses, and those they consider impure. By the end of WWII more than 400,000 are sterilized, including criminals, alcoholics, the mentally ill, Jews, and people of mixed German-African heritage.
1955—Ruth Ellis Executed
Former model Ruth Ellis is hanged at Holloway Prison in London for the murder of her lover, British race car driver David Blakely. She is the last woman executed in the United Kingdom.
1966—Richard Speck Rampage
breaks into a Chicago townhouse where he systematically rapes and kills eight student nurses. The only survivor hides under a bed the entire night.
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