Whatever the background color she was always red hot.
Above are three images of Tunisian born Italian actress Claudia Cardinale made by Italian photographer Angelo Frontoni. It's difficult to imagine European cinema without Frontoni. He photographed everyone, and he blurred the line between mainstream photography and erotica by collaborating with magazines like Excelsior and Playmen. Cardinale is pretty racy here by her standards. She worked with Frontoni many times over the course of her career, which began during the late 1950s and continues today, encompassing such films as 8½, The Pink Panther, Blindfold, Les pétroleuses, Fitzcarraldo, Once Upon a Time in the West, et al. These shots don't have a copyright date that we could find, but based on appearance we'd say they're from the late 1970s.
From stem to stern everything is in perfect condition.
Above: French actress Mylène Demongeot, who we revisit regularly, appears here in another promo image for her 1960 seagoing adventure Sotto dieci bandiere, aka Under Ten Flags. Demongeot took shorts to new heights—literally—which we've talked about before. We should talk about Sotto dieci bandiere too, but it'll have to wait until later.
She's dressed for a funeral—yours.
U.S. actress Bonita Granville appears to shoot from hip in this fun promo image made for her 1946 film noir Suspense, in which she starred with Barry Sullivan and Belita. In addition to the unusual pose and the shiny black dress, which we love, the lighting on this creates the illusion of the gun being fired. Granville was an acting prodigy. She began her career on stage at age three, was successful in cinema by age ten, and received an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress in 1936's These Three at age fourteen. We talked about Suspense several years ago, so if you're interested you can read about it here.
Hey everybody! Look at me! I'm having a miserable time!
This lovely shot of U.S. actress Gail Russell was made when she was filming the drama Night Has a Thousand Eyes. We'd say day has a thousand eyes too, at least when she's around. Russell had what many people want in life—amazing looks, a career with good pay, and an enviable social circle—but she was never able to enjoy it. She said so herself. But this photo makes a moment's fun look eternal. It's from 1948.
It isn't conclusive proof she's responsible for the guy on the floor with a bullet hole in him. But it's highly suggestive.
We were thrilled when we found this photo of Jane Wyatt with a gun because she's one of those actresses that usually played good girls. But in 1951's The Man Who Cheated Himself, which is where this photo comes from, she's pretty bad. We won't say more because we plan to discuss the film, but we haven't spoiled it—she's bad early on, and her escapade with the smoking gun is the premise for what follows. Wyatt later became a veteran television actress and earned a special place in the hearts of Star Trek fans for playing Spock's mom in the 1967 episode “Journey to Babel.” In that episode her name was—we love this—Amanda. You'd expect something, maybe, spacier. But nope. She was plain old Amanda. But she was never a plain old Jane.
I'm doing okay, thanks for asking. Well, no, come to think of it, not really.
Beverly Michaels looks in reasonable spirits in the first photo in this series made for her 1953 film noir Wicked Woman, but her mood seems to go downhill in the next two shots. That's a progression that occurs nightly in millions of bars across the planet, but particularly in film noir bars, where something nearly always goes wrong. In Wicked Woman Michaels is the thing that goes wrong. She plays a classic femme predator named Billie Nash, who's intent upon corrupting a basically good man. Michaels had only eight credited roles in a short career that ran from 1949 to 1956, but she was highly influential in establishing the bad girl trope in 1950s cinema. Other bad girls followed, but she was one of the first and worst.
I'm not just pretty—I have relatively positive feelings toward the institution of marriage.
This nice shot shows Hungarian actress, singer, and socialite Eva Gabor. She was not quite as famous as her older sister Zsa Zsa, and she also wasn't nearly as as fickle—by which we mean she only married five times, as opposed to Zsa Zsa's nine trips down the aisle. Marriages ran in the family. The oldest Gabor sister, Magda, had six husbands. But two of them died on her, so technically she finished third in the marital grand prix. You're probably wondering if the sisters shared any husbands. Yes, lucky George Sanders married both Magda and Zsa Zsa. That must have made for some fun Christmas dinners.
Eva appeared in numerous films, including Pacific Blackout, Love Island, Captain Kidd and the Slave Girl, Paris Model, and The Last Time I Saw Paris. On television her most popular role was as Lisa Douglas on Green Acres. The Gabor genes didn't just provide talent and beauty—they bestowed longevity. Eva's mother died at 100, and both her sisters reached 99. You have to figure Eva would have gotten there too, but a bathtub fall followed by pneumonia did her in two decades early, aged seventy-six. The above photo shows her in 1941, when she was a tender twenty-two.
Don't jump to conclusions. There's a perfectly reasonable explanation for this. Give me a minute to think of one.
The talented and versatile Barbara Stanwyck appears in this promo image made for her 1929 pre-Code thriller The Locked Door, which she starred in at the age of twenty-two. It was her first credited role, and actually does involve her making up a flimsy story for a shooting, though not for the reasons you might assume. You'll have to watch the movie to find out more. And there's no reason why you shoudn't, because if Stanwyck wasn't the greatest actress in the history of Hollywood, she was pretty damn close. Below: she's still thinking.
Sometimes you run out of superlatives.
Recently we mentioned, more or less in passing, that Vonetta McGee was very beautiful. We'd already featured her as a femme fatale years ago, but our recent name drop got us thinking about sharing another image or two. We expected photos to be hard to find. Interest acts as a filtering mechanism, and since there are not many people percentagewise who save African American actresses' old photos and slides, fewer who digitize them, and still fewer who place them on their websites, all these factors converge and the result is lowered representation. We see it every day. There are significant and talented black actresses with extensive filmographies, yet they have only a fraction the number of surviving promo photos of non-black actresses who made only a few movies. For that reason we were pretty happy when we not only found the above shot of McGee during her ingénue period, twenty-three years old, but a marvelous shot. A wonderful shot. It was made when she debuted in the 1968 Italian comedy Faustina, and this is what we meant when we said she was very beautiful. After a successful career appearing in films ranging from trendy blaxploitation such as Blacula to high budget features such as The Eiger Sanction, the magnificent McGee died today in 2010.
I came up with it all by myself. Totally groovy, right?
These shots show U.S. actress Teresa Graves today in 1970, and despite the fact that her bizarro hairdo makes her look counterculture, she was in Washington, D.C. attending the Honor America Day celebration. If you've never heard of Honor America Day, that's because it was a one-off, hastily cobbled together by then-president Richard Nixon, who was under pressure due to his decision to send U.S. troops into Cambodia during the Vietnam War, a move which precipitated a protest at Kent State University at which Ohio National Guard troops shot and killed students.
Graves was a minor television star at the time, a recurring guest on the show Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In, however she was a natural for the D.C. event because she had built her career partly by touring Southeast Asia as a singer with Bob Hope's USO show. She would eventually become a major star on the police drama Get Christie Love! By then she'd ditched the hairdo that looked like it picked up signals from space for something conventional, as you can see at this link. But whatever shape her hair took, she was quite beautiful.
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1919—Wilson Suffers Stroke
U.S. President Woodrow Wilson suffers a massive stroke, leaving him partially paralyzed. He is confined to bed for weeks, but eventually resumes his duties, though his participation is little more than perfunctory. Wilson remains disabled throughout the remainder of his term in office, and the rest of his life.
1968—Massacre in Mexico
Ten days before the opening of the 1968 Summer Olympics
in Mexico City, a peaceful student demonstration ends in the Tlatelolco Massacre. 200 to 300 students are gunned down, and to this day there is no consensus about how or why the shooting began.
1910—Los Angeles Times Bombed
A massive dynamite bomb destroys the Los Angeles Times building in downtown Los Angeles, California, killing 21 people. Police arrest James B. McNamara and his brother John J. McNamara. Though the brothers are represented by the era's most famous lawyer, Clarence Darrow, of Scopes Monkey Trial fame, they eventually plead guilty. James is convicted and sentenced to fifteen years in prison. His brother John is convicted of a separate bombing of the Llewellyn Iron Works and also sent to prison.
1975—Ali Defeats Frazier in Manila
In the Philippines, an epic heavyweight boxing match known as the Thrilla in Manila takes place between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier. It is the third, final and most brutal match between the two, and Ali wins by TKO in the fourteenth round.
1955—James Dean Dies in Auto Accident
American actor James Dean, who appeared in the films Giant
, East of Eden
, and the iconic Rebel without a Cause
, dies in an auto accident
at age 24 when his Porsche 550 Spyder is hit head-on by a larger Ford coupe. The driver of the Ford had been trying to make a left turn across the rural highway U.S. Route 466 and never saw Dean's small sports car approaching.
1962—Chavez Founds UFW
Mexican-American farm worker César Chávez founds the United Farm Workers in California. His strikes, marches and boycotts eventually result in improved working conditions for manual farm laborers and today his birthday is celebrated as a holiday in eight U.S. states.
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