Femmes Fatales Jun 4 2020
LET THE SUNSHINE OUT
Cardinali sizzles in the south of France.


Our sun is categorized as a G2V type star, and in this blinding photo Italian actress Nuccia Cardinali—sometimes Cardinale, occasionally Karen Carter—is too G2V to be true as she poses for a shot in Cannes, France. Her cinematic career was scant, consisting of a dozen or so films. But that's okay—she personifies summer, surf, sand, and all things good and glowing in this image. It appeared as a centerfold in Ciné-Revue magazine in 1970.

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Femmes Fatales May 31 2020
CONTROL Z
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.

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Femmes Fatales May 28 2020
PROTECTIVE COVER
It's not an N95 mask but it's all I've got.


Visual references change. This is obviously a veil, but when we saw it the first thing that came to mind was mask. It's an elegant, somewhat erotic shot, which is no wonder, as veils are generally seen as sexy. Masks, meanwhile, are not, but might that change? There's already mask porn. Doesn't do anything for us, but maybe we're just not cutting edge enough. Anyway, this rare photo was made to promote the 1947 Groucho Marx comedy Copacabana, and the face behind the veil is that of legendary Portuguese-born Brazilian singer Carmen Miranda. We know what you're thinking. This can't be Carmen Miranda. But it is. In the film she's trying to hide her identity, which is why she's made-up so pale and is wearing a blonde wig. Her ruse worked, and not just in Copacabana—websites have misidentified this shot as everyone from Chili Williams to Lili St. Cyr.

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Femmes Fatales May 24 2020
REMAIN PERFECTLY STELLA
Don't change a thing for anybody.


You know we're Stella Stevens fans here. Though we prefer the thirty-plus version of her, she first turned heads as a model in her early twenties, posing for a Playboy centerfold published in 1960, sessions from which the above shot originates. Stevens had begun acting before then, appearing in three films released in 1959. The next year she won a Golden Globe for New Star of the Year, and eventually appeared in dozens of films and television shows. She was always a good actress, but never scored prestige roles. She did, however, grace some low budget classics, foremost among them the blaxploitation flicks Slaughter and Cleopatra Jones and the Casino of Gold. Mixed in were cheeseball hits like The Poseidon Adventure and The Silencers, and an occasional good movie, such as The Ballad of Cable Hogue. All in all she's had an amazing career, on pause since 2010. But she'll never be on pause on this website. More Stella here and here.

Edit: We recieved an e-mail from Herman, a man who knows a thing or two about mid-century celebs and has helped us with corrections, and he wanted to remind us:

I certainly appreciate that image of Stella. Although I have been a fan of PB since the mid 50s as a boy, I don't believe I have seen this particular photo. Of course, I have to say I believe you left some important points out of your commentary about her.  I believe you said once you are not a particular fan of Elvis Presley (that may have been someone else) but without the 1962 Girls, Girl, Girls appearance I don't think she would have caught on so quick. Don't forget that the reason PB recognized her in the first place was because of her appearance in Li'l Abner in 1959. I know you didn't set out to do a biography on her, but these were points I think are important in her chronology.
 
Agreed, H, Stevens has a long and interesting story. We didn't set out to write a biography, as you said, but we may need to spend a little more time on her to give her proper due. She's not a subject we'll tire of easily.

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Femmes Fatales May 20 2020
WHERE THERE'S SMOKE
Rita Hayworth does tall, dark, and treacherous.


We've done a lot on Gilda, but it's one of our favorite movies of the 1940s, and we'd be remiss if we didn't show you this beautiful promo image, basically the best of the lot from this flick. Gilda had everything—an exotic Argentine location (shot on a backlot), a story of danger (done many times before), and a tough, cynical leading man (nothing new for the time period). So then, what made Gilda great, if it was so derivative? Two things—Hayworth, playing a jaded and suspicious femme fatale; and a good script that skirted that bounds of what was allowable in terms of expressing feminine sexual liberation. Co-star Glenn Ford had perfect chemistry with Hayworth, too, which counts for something, but any man would have that. No, it's Rita's show. And though she didn't live forever, Gilda will. Or at least, it'll live as long as humans watch anything that can be classified as cinema.
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Femmes Fatales May 15 2020
PARKER AROUND BACK
Deliveries go in the rear. And get your mind out of the gutter.


American actress Jean Parker, who enjoyed a long film career that ran from 1932 to 1965 and comprised more than seventy screen appearances, watches over some crates in this promo photo made for the 1954 crime drama Black Tuesday, in which she co-starred with Edward G. Robinson. Must be something very valuable in those boxes for her to be armed and ready to ventilate somebody. Is toilet paper still the valuable currency of the moment? It's never been scarce where we live but we heard people in other places were ready to kill for it a few weeks ago. We'd prefer if the cargo here were good booze, possibly Bulleit bourbon. Well, let's flip them upside down and...
Aha. So, they're items made in occupied Japan. We embarked upon the digital superhighway, conjured up several synopses for Black Tuesday, and using search-find on keyword “Japan,” so we wouldn't spoil the plot by actually reading any details, got no hits. Probably the crates are just props that had been sitting around RKO-Pathé Studios, where the movie was shot. But we can't be sure. It's just these sorts of small mysteries that influence our movie queue. We'll screen this and report back.
 
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Femmes Fatales May 10 2020
HELLO BEAUTIFUL
Without a doubt seeing you is always the best part of my day.


This cute photo shows U.S. actress Joan Blondell, who started her showbiz career in Vaudeville, and later made numerous pre-Code films, including The Public Enemy and Blonde Crazy. It was shot when she was making the 1936 film Stage Struck, in which she starred with her husband Dick Powell.

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Femmes Fatales May 4 2020
DAMN, THE TORPEDOES
The things we put ourselves through in the name of fashion.


What we've subjected ourselves to over the ages in order to be alluring is astounding. Bone corsets, Victorian wigs, thongs, bikini waxing, back waxing, ball waxing, nostril waxing (which we recently learned is a thing), stiletto heels, and the list goes on. Obviously, women have it far worse than men. We don't want to sound unduly incredulous, because we get that all the things we do to ourselves show how important the mating game is. If a fashion trend gets you that partner you seek for a night, a lifetime, or any time between, is there really any length that is too far? Still, though, from our generational perspective, the torpedo bra is among the strangest of all fashion items, and this shot of model Donna Reading shows how extreme the look could get. It comes from an issue of Daily Girl and dates from around 1970. Reading, who was also known as Donna Marlowe (sometimes Marlow), acted as well as modeled, and appeared in a dozen or so television series, including The Benny Hill Show and Monty Python's Flying Circus. The real circus act was wedging herself into this medieval device. We've expressed our wonder concerning this subject before, here and here.

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Femmes Fatales May 1 2020
GRACEFUL KELLY
For perfect composition start with the basics.


This artful photo shows U.S. actress Paula Kelly, who appeared in such classic films as The Andromeda Strain, Soylent Green, and the blaxploitation comedy Uptown Saturday Night. She was also a dancer and choreographer, which probably helped her nail this pose and make the photographer look brilliant. She just died a couple of months ago at age seventy-seven, an event we totally missed, but we're glad we found this timeless image.

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Femmes Fatales Apr 27 2020
ANNIE GOT HER GUNS
There's a new sheriff on the planet.


This photo has sort of ’50s sci-fi look, but it's actually from the 1980s and shows Japanese actress Naomi Morinaga as the character Annie from Uchû keiji Shaider, aka Space Sheriff Shaider, which aired on Japanese television for one season straddling 1984 and 1985. Morinaga played other roles, but Space Sheriff, which also spawned two movies, a video game, and a video short, is her legacy. By the way, Japan is truly the place for space guns. In fact, we did an entire post on them, though it was so long ago you've probably never seen it. But it's here, if you're interested. 

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Next Page
History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
June 04
1939—Journey of the St. Louis
The German passenger liner MS St. Louis, carrying 963 Jewish refugees, is denied permission to land in Florida, United States, after already being turned away from Cuba. Forced to return to Europe, many of its passengers later die in Nazi concentration camps. The event becomes the subject of a 1974 book, Voyage of the Damned, by Gordon Thomas and Max Morgan-Witts, and is later adapted into a film with the same title, released in 1976.
June 03
1968—Andy Warhol Is Shot
Valerie Solanas, feminist author of an anti-male tract she called the S.C.U.M. Manifesto (Society for Cutting Up Men), attempts to assassinate artist Andy Warhol by shooting him with a handgun. Warhol survives but suffers health problems for the rest of his life. Solanas serves three years in prison and eventually dies of emphysema at San Francisco's Bristol Hotel in 1988.
June 02
1941—Lou Gehrig Dies
New York Yankees baseball player Henry Louis Gehrig, aka The Iron Horse, who set a record for playing in 2,130 consecutive games over the course of fourteen seasons, dies of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig's disease, two years after the onset of the illness ended his consecutive games streak.
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