Intl. Notebook | Sex Files Apr 10 2021
MIGHT WE ENQUIRER
Dors gets caught short of blonde dye.


We always note that one reason mid-century tabloids have historical value is because of their rare shots of significant celebrities, and here's a perfect example. Diana Dors appears on the cover of a National Enquirer published today in 1960, and in this photo we've never seen anywhere else she's sporting deep black Frida Kahlo eyebrows. Dors was one of the most interesting figures of her time, and the blurb on this Enquirer references her marriage to Dennis Hamilton, a union which led to her being lent as a sexual plaything to various producers and leading actors, and which also gave Hamilton the incandescent idea of hiring photographer Horace Roye to make Dors the star attraction of two racy photo collections. One of those was in 3D, and we bet those batwing eyebrows of hers really jumped off the page. For a bit more about Dors' strange and remarkable life, check here.

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Hollywoodland Apr 3 2021
REYNOLDS RAP
Another case of he said (they did) she said (they didn't).


Above is a cover of National Enquirer that hit newsstands today in 1960 with a cheery looking Debbie Reynolds on the cover. Editors promise the truth about her romance with Glenn Ford, but the quotes around “romance” tell the story—she there wasn't one. The two starred together in the films It Started with a Kiss and The Gazebo, both released in 1959, and the affair rumors quickly sprang up.
 
Have you noticed a pattern of actors saying there were sexual relationships but actresses saying there weren't? If we were dealing with regular people we'd side with the men maybe 10% of the time, but in the case of movie stars we aren't sure actors had much to gain by lying. On the other hand, during the sexually unliberated years of the ’50s and ’60s actresses had plenty to gain by appearing to be as close to virginal as possible.
 
So it's another classic case of Hollywood he said/she said. Ford's biographer, who happens to be his son, said there was a physical relationship. How can he be sure? Several ways, perhaps, but notably, Glenn Ford taped all his calls—which is a story we may get into another time—so maybe there was confirmation from those that he and Reynolds were doing the nasty. In any case, we're really just interested in this cool cover shot. Reynolds does polka dots with style.

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Hollywoodland Mar 25 2021
WHISPERS ABOUT SAMMY
Want to keep a secret? Don't try it in Hollywood.


We wonder if any modern celebrity romances will be talked about half a century from now the way the old romances were. The way the Taylor/Burtons and Monroe/DiMaggios were talked about. We doubt it. Mid-century Hollywood and public romance seemed go hand in hand, and near the top of the legendary romance pyramid perches Sammy Davis, Jr.'s and Kim Novak's doomed love. Why doomed? Not to put too fine a point on it, but a 1958 Gallup poll showed that a mere 4% of Americans approved of interracial marriage. Four percent! There has never been a scientific study that showed anything other than deeply entrenched racial inequality and animosity in the U.S., and that includes today. But four percent? That's the dark ages.

We've marveled over Kim Novak before, but in case you need a visual reminder look here. Yeah. So Sammy was smitten, and so was all of America. And Novak? She saw in Sammy... charisma maybe? It wasn't devastating looks. Even Davis spoke of himself disparagingly in terms of physical appeal. But he had it. Everyone said so. His it and Novak's it were magnetically attracted and led to a relationship they tried and failed to keep relatively quiet. It's here, though, where we must note that the many Hollywood insiders who say Davis and Novak were knocking boots don't include Novak. She claims they were never more than friends. But when two megastars continually show up—however discreetly—in public together, people will talk. More importantly, tabloids will talk. And perhaps most concerning of all, Whisper will talk.

The above issue published this month in 1960 purports to have new info about the maybe-affair that shook Hollywood to its foundations, and also claims to have the scoop on Sammy's post-Kim fling Joan Stuart. We've seen many stories about his Swedish wife Mai Britt—also called a Kim copy by tabloids—but this is the first we've seen about Stuart. She wasn't Davis's first post-Novak partner. He married actress Loray White in 1958, but divorced her in 1960. Rumor is he married her under duress, having been told by certain Mafia figures to marry a black woman or else lose another eye. Whisper says that story isn't true.

Stuart was a Canadian actress, just starting out in show business. Whisper gets quotes from her parents about their daughter's relationship with Davis, and they aren't supportive. Shocking as that may be. The magazine's final take is this: “Boy meets girl. Boy gets girl. Boy loses girl. Boy meets another girl just like the girl he had before. Boy gets girl. And boy seems to be going to keep girl.” Davis did want to keep her, telling friends and reporters he wanted to marry her, but their pairing didn't last. Stuart went on to appear in some television shows and one movie—1978's In Praise of Older Women—but did not have a notable career. Did romance with Sammy Davis, Jr. hurt her? You'd have to think so—with about 96% of the public. We have some scans below, and more from Whisper to come.
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Hollywoodland Jan 29 2021
WHAT AN AIRHEAD
Always be careful what you say to a tabloid.


This National Enquirer published today in 1963 features the free-floating head of U.S. actress Shirley Bonne with a quote where she calls herself a “dimwit.” Enquirer often splashed shocking, sexual, or confessional quotes from stars across its covers. We have little doubt Bonne was just joshing around, if she ever said it, which we tend to doubt. She isn't well known today. Though she amassed hundreds of magazine covers, as an actress she had zero credited cinematic roles. All her credits, including movies, were on television, where she appeared on shows such as Bonanza, That Girl, Medical Center, starred in the sitcom My Sister Eileen, and was in the all-time dog of a television horror flick It's Alive. Her zenith, at least in terms being appreciated by a fandom, is having guest starred in one of the best Star Trek episodes ever—1966's “Shore Leave.” That's the one where the Enterprise crew land on a planet that makes anything they think about come true. Kirk thinks about a long lost love and Shirley Bonne appears—head, body, and all. Pretty smart thinking.
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Sex Files Nov 28 2020
NATIONAL INSECURITY
Vintage tabloid looks forward to better sex in the future but should have been happy with the present.


This issue of the low rent sexploitation tabloid National Informer published today in 1971 asks what will sex be like in the year 2020. We'd answer that compared to 1971 people will have less of it, and when they do it will come with recycled puritan guilt and fears of fatal disease. Other than that it'll be great! We jest, of course. We have no clue what 1971 sex was like, but National Informer makes clear that there were plenty of worries. Like what if you didn't know proper etiquette for your first orgy? Or what would you wear to the nude-in at Golden Gate Park? And could you get it up after popping three Quaaludes?
 
With the myriad sexual challenges of the period, it's no wonder people thought 2020 sex would be better, as a utopian article by Tom Bridges makes clear. Our favorite line: “Sex will be just another physical satisfaction in human living, with no stigmas attached.” Um... no. And this bit is great: “There will be sex schools in every city, attended by millions, which will teach by demonstration excellent sexual techniques. Anyone who doesn't attend and graduate will be a social dropout and considered illiterate.” Little could Mr. Bridges have suspected that the U.S. wouldn't come up with enough money to run normal schools, let alone sex schools.
 
It's fun to read how much faith Informer has in a brighter future. Optimism was actually a chararistic of the time period, we've noticed, whether talking about politics, science, or anything else. But a funny thing happened on the way to the post-millennial sexual mecca Informer imagines—the eunuchs took over the harem, and when 2020 finally arrived, the events of that shitty year were (notice we're already talking about it in past tense—that's how bad it was) enough to kill everyone's sex drives. Well, at least 2021 is just around the bend, and in the event of the virus actually being conquered, maybe a new sexual revolution will take hold, with love-ins and all the rest. We'll believe it when we see it, but it never hurts to dream, right?

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Intl. Notebook Aug 16 2020
HUNKA BURNIN LOVE
Your Honor, I swear I didn't kill them. My wife and her lover were on fire well before I walked into the bedroom.


If you rub two sticks together fast enough you can make fire, so why not two people? But the lovers referred to on this cover of Midnight from August 1964 didn't burst into flames from the sheer intensity of their fucking (though we love that image). They were allegedly doused with gasoline and set ablaze by a Colorado man named Ricardo Anlando, who wasn't a husband, as we suggested in our subhead, but a spurned admirer. He incinerated his unrequited love because she married another man, which goes to show that hell hath no fury like an incel scorned. They say revenge is a dish best served cold, but if there's an opportunity to serve it as flambé, some will take it. There's another fire themed story in this issue about a mother who stuffed her newborn into a furnace. No need to fret, though. The building janitor saved the kid and the mom went to prison. So you get a happy ending to counterbalance the sad one. We bet neither story is true, though. Just a hunch.

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Intl. Notebook Jun 16 2020
MEDICAL MALPRACTICE
First do no harm—to your bank account.


National Enquirer wins the 1968 Obvious Award with this header articulating the entire essence of U.S. healthcare. The quote is attributed to “the nation's leading doctors,” but here's the thing—if this group were actually the nation's leading doctors there would be no problem of people dying due to lack of funds. The reality is that the American Medical Association—the nation's actual leading doctors—for decades consistently opposed national health care programs, so the headline should read: If You're Sick Money Makes the Difference Between Life & Death. Nation's Leading Doctors Are Fine with That.

The primary mandate of unions is to obtain the highest possible compensation for its members, so one can hardly be surprised at the AMA's opposition to changing a profitable system. Still, its history with national healthcare probably isn't widely known enough. The group's lobbying efforts defeated President Harry Truman’s plans for universal healthcare back during the 1940s, and similar un-Hippocratic mobilizations slowed or stopped attempts by later presidents. The AMA is also the group that paid then-actor Ronald Reagan to record that famous 1961 spoken word LP claiming Medicare—aka trying to help seniors live longer—would lead to a socialist dictatorship. You can check that out at this link.

Elsewhere on Enquirer's cover, serial bride Zsa Zsa Gabor explains that after she dies she doesn't want to be remembered as “the one with a lot of husbands,” but rather someone who “had the courage to keep on trying to find love.” She didn't get her wish. And the funny part is that in 1968, when she foresaw her future reputation, she wasn't finished marrying. Not even close. Having already walked down the aisle on five happy occasions, she ended up making the trip four more times. We have a lot on Zsa Zsa in the website. This rare pin-up for example. If you want to see more just click her keywords below.

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Musiquarium May 29 2020
ANGELINA JOLLY
If you're happy and you know it drop your shirt.


Here's a historical curiosity. Above are two pressings of an album from Angelina, aka Angelina the Singing Model, released in 1957. Sharp-eyed readers may notice that the sleeves use the name and title font of the iconic mid-century tabloid Confidential. The platters were put out by Davis Records, owned by recording entrepreneur Joe Davis, and try as we might, we uncovered no connection between him and Confidential publisher Robert Harrison. Anything is possible, though. They were both New York based, were both publishers—though of different media—so we bet they knew each other. Did Harrison have any idea his font had been borrowed? There's no way we can know.

During the summer of 1957, when this album was recorded and hit stores, Harrison was deeply involved in the libel case that would lead to him selling Confidential. The trial was in L.A., and he stayed in NYC, refusing to appear in court out west, but even so the proceedings kept him plenty busy. Too busy to notice that a novelty album infringed on his logo? We doubt it. Someone, somewhere in Manhattan, would have said, “Hey, Robert, have you seen this new record that uses the font from your magazine?” For that reason we can't help feeling there's some link between Davis and Harrison that led to the look of these LPs, but for now that will have to remain a mystery.

Moving on to the singer, Angelina was actually New York City-based Joyce Heath, who later founded Joyce Heath and the Privateers. These platters, unlikely as the possibility seems, may have actually helped launch her career. As we said, they came in 1957, and Heath's first recordings under her own name were in 1959. Maybe she kept her semi-topless starring role on the cover of Confidential quiet, but we think it more likely she embraced it. While she does show her breast on the second cover, one little boob, after all, was not that big of a deal post-Monroe and Mansfield.
 
The album had either a repressing or was initially released with two sleeves. Since there are two levels of explicitness, we suspect the latter. Davis probably wanted a suggestive cover, and one that was even more risqué. On the other hand, the change in Heath's hair color suggests the former possibility—two pressings at different times with a change of hairstyle between. Both albums have 1957 copyrights, though, which means little time would have elapsed. Alternatively it could be that Heath wasn't the model for both covers. But we think she was. The second sleeve says in white lettering across her red shirt, “This is Angelina.” So there you go. And the first model, if you look past the hair color, resembles Heath strongly. At least to us.

And now we get to the music. You want to know whether it's any good, right? Well, it's a joke record, with double entendre songs like, “All the Girls Like Big Dick,” “Shake Your Can,” and “He Forgot His Rubbers.” We gave it a listen and all the tunes are cabaret style, pairing piano and vocal with no other accompaniment. Twelve tunes of that ilk would begin to sound similar anyway, but in this case, they really are all the same song. Same key, same tempo, same mood, etc. We have it on good authority Heath recorded this in one afternoon and what we heard sure lends credence to that assertion. Still, limited as the music may be, it's pretty fun. If you want to know more about Joyce Heath, check the blog whitedoowopcollector at this link.
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Mondo Bizarro May 29 2020
DIAGNOSIS UNCHANGED
Political situation in U.S. critical after radical surgery to transplant corrupt old politics onto fresh new voters.


We wrote a polemical subhead. Heh, sub-head, see what we did there? Because it's a substitute head and— Anyway, this cover of Midnight published today in 1967 touts a medical miracle, but of course in reality it was beyond the capabilities of science then and remains so today. But one day. And when extra-long lifespans arrive, horrible old ideas will be near impossible to change because the same geezers will be in charge for hundreds of years. You think seventy-something is old too old to be president? Just wait. On another note, you may have noticed we haven't posted many tabloids lately. Our scanner has developed the habit of placing a bright blue line on our scans, and during the quarantine the electronics store was closed. We'll wander over that way pretty soon and get to scannin' again. In the meantime, we have 399 tabloid posts in the website, and if you're inclined you can access them here

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Intl. Notebook Mar 15 2020
A MIDNIGHT CLEAR
Star light, star bright, first star that really, really wants it tonight.


German actress and glamour model Christiane Schmidtmer claims on the cover of this Midnight published today in 1965 that she'll do anything to be a star. Back then, that was music to unscrupulous producers' ears. Today, producers that cross the professional line would run a serious risk of going to jail. Did Schmidtmer ever actually say this? There's no way to know for sure, but with Midnight you can reasonably suspect that its quotes are fabricated to thrill its preponderantly male readership. As we've mentioned numerous times before, this was its m.o.—the provocative cover quote paired with a slinky handout photo, and an interior article bought cheap off a freelance writer who had managed to carve out ten minutes with an actress during a film junket.

So how did Schmidtmer's career go? The quote requires we ask. Well, she appeared in about a dozen motion pictures and about the same number of parts on television, and she played, among other roles, a passenger in 1963's Stop Train 349, a flight attendant in 1965's Boeing, Boeing, a passenger (named Lizzi Spoekenkieker) in 1965's Ship of Fools, and another passenger in Airport ’75—which weirdly came out in 1974. Unlike in astronomy, in cinema you sometimes have to define the term star for yourself, and we judge that she didn't quite make it, though it's an accomplishment of sorts to play roles in or on all the major forms of commercial conveyance—trains, planes and boats. But even if she never attained real stardom, she dazzles below, and we'll probably see her again a little later because: Lizzi Spoekenkieker. How can we resist?

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Next Page
History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
April 22
1912—Pravda Is Founded
The newspaper Pravda, or Truth, known as the voice of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, begins publication in Saint Petersburg. It is one of the country's leading newspapers until 1991, when it is closed down by decree of then-President Boris Yeltsin. A number of other Pravdas appear afterward, including an internet site and a tabloid.
1983—Hitler's Diaries Found
The German magazine Der Stern claims that Adolf Hitler's diaries had been found in wreckage in East Germany. The magazine had paid 10 million German marks for the sixty small books, plus a volume about Rudolf Hess's flight to the United Kingdom, covering the period from 1932 to 1945. But the diaries are subsequently revealed to be fakes written by Konrad Kujau, a notorious Stuttgart forger. Both he and Stern journalist Gerd Heidemann go to trial in 1985 and are each sentenced to 42 months in prison.
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.
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