Hollywoodland Jun 29 2011
ROAD TO PERDITION
Whatever happened to baby Jayne?

Above are two photos of the Buick Electra 225 actress Jayne Mansfield was riding in when it slammed into the back of a semi on a stretch of road between Biloxi and New Orleans. Visibility was low that night due to a combination of ocean mist and insecticide from a mosquito fogging truck. Mansfield’s driver Ronnie Harrison probably never had a chance to avoid the collision, especially while speeding on a dark, curving road. He and lawyer Sam Brody were killed along with Mansfield. Her children in the back seat survived, but two of her cherished chihuahuas famously didn’t.

In the second photo a sheet-covered Mansfield lies in the foreground after being removed from the wreckage by emergency workers. Virtually any website you visit will debunk the myth of Mansfield’s decapitation. They will tell you her blonde wig flew off and either fooled reporters on the scene or inspired them to create malicious urban folklore. Well, we don’t think so. The debunkers should look up the word “avulsion” in a dictionary. It’s when one part of the body is torn away from another. Mansfield’s death certificate attributes her demise to a “crushed skull and avulsion of the cranium and brain.” So she lost the top of her head, including brain matter. Does that count as decapitation? Perhaps not. Whatever you call it, it happened today in 1967. 

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Sex Files Dec 4 2009
MEET THE PRESS
Candid Press might have been the cheapest tabloid ever published.

Above you see an ultra low-rent Candid Press cover from today in 1966, with the inside scoop on an interracial love affair that got the Mississippi Klan riled up and ended in a castration. Sadly, these were not uncommon events during America's apartheid era, but Candid Press had no intention of doing any real reporting on it. Instead they were about pure sexual tease, with this and other stories re-enacted photographically by models who always seemed to lose their tops. All very interesting, but of special interest to pulp fans is a feature on Vera Novak, a well-known Harrison Marks model who had shot some nudie reels and acted in a film called It’s a Bare, Bare World.

These nudie reels are way before our time, but we know they are remembered fondly. Technically they're porn, but in reality they're way too innocent to be classified that way. There's no sex at all, and the nudity is chaste by any standards. Novak had established a name as a nudie model, but the article above describes how she was about to make the leap into A-features with a part in 1967’s big budget Bond spoof Casino Royale. But guess what? She never made it into the film. Possibly she shot scenes that ended up on the cutting room floor, but she’s definitely not credited as a cast member. So, like many of the actresses we write about, she passed from film history into undocumented private life where, we can only hope, she was happy.

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Musiquarium Nov 13 2009
THIS OLD HOUSE
Birthplace of mysterious blues legend to be restored.

Nearly everything about enigmatic bluesman Robert Johnson could have come directly from the pages of a pulp novel. Some say he sold his soul to the Devil at a dark crossroads in exchange for the ability to play guitar. Only two photographs were ever taken of him during his life. He died in 1938 after a jealous husband poisoned his whiskey with strychnine. And nobody knows for sure where he is buried, though there are three spots that claim the distinction. The only agreed upon fact about Johnson’s life is that he came into the world in 1911 in a house in Hazlehurst, Mississippi. Now, that house is slated for restoration by its owners, the county of Copiah, Mississippi. Over the years it has fallen into disrepair, but when originally built by Johnson’s stepfather it was considered a spacious and modern home, particularly by the standards of the sharecropping south. Copiah County officials hope to draw some of the music tourists that visit the nearby Mississippi Delta region, which seems a safe bet considering Johnson’s stature. He is considered by most music aficionados the greatest bluesman ever, and one of the most unique guitarists. He is also, without doubt, one of the most mysterious figures in musical history.     

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Vintage Pulp Oct 29 2009
LOVE SHACK
I know I promised to lay some pipe for you, miss, but are you sure you want to put plumbing in this old place?
American author Herbert Creekmore was born in Mississippi in 1907 and spared no effort trying to get out once he reached adulthood. He disliked the south for a couple of reasons. Most importantly, he was gay, which was not at all accepted there at the time. Second, he was a gifted poet, also not readily accepted in the blue collar south. But while he was able to more or less keep his sexuality a secret, he wasn’t as easily able to disguise his literary pretensions. He eventually left Mississippi to attend college, published his first collection of poems in 1940, and later served in the Navy. When he returned to the Mississippi, work was scarce, but he was able to earn money via the Federal Writer’s Project, a program established by Franklin Roosevelt to offer financial support to writers. Yes, half a century ago the U.S. federal government considered literature important enough that it subsidized fledgling writers. Anyway, Cotton Country was Creekmore’s first and possibly best novel, appearing in 1946. As you can probably discern from the suggestive pulp cover, it concerns a rebellious girl’s attempts to escape the influence of her fanatically religious father. Creekmore had a successful literary career, but was always unpopular in the south because of his focus on religious, sexual and racial intolerance. However his work is highly regarded, and remains widely available. He died in New York City in 1966.

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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
September 15
1959—Khrushchev Visits U.S.
Nikita Khrushchev becomes the first Soviet leader to visit the United States. The two week stay includes talks with U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower, as well as a visit to a farm and a Hollywood movie set, and a tour of a "typical" American neighborhood, upper middle class Granada Hills, California.
September 14
1959—Soviets Send Object to Moon
The Soviet probe Luna 2 becomes the first man-made object to reach the Moon when it crashes in Mare Serenitatis. The probe was designed to crash, but first it took readings in Earth's Van Allen Radiation Belt, and also confirmed the existence of solar wind.
September 13
1987—Radiation Accident in Brazil
Two squatters find a container of radioactive cesium chloride in an abandoned hospital in Goiânia, Brazil. When the shielding window is opened, the bright blue cesium becomes visible, which lures many people to handle the object. In the end forty-six people are contaminated, resulting in illnesses, amputations, and deaths, including that of a 6-year-old girl whose body is so toxic it is buried in a lead coffin sealed in concrete.
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