Hollywoodland Aug 16 2022
BIRTHDAY GIRL
Have her cake and eat her too.


This photo shows French actor Charles Boyer at Ann Blyth's nineteenth birthday party today in 1947, looking hungry for more than just cake. Or maybe that's just our silly imaginations. Such a May-December pairing wouldn't have been terribly strange back then (though some consider it a capital offense today), however the two are not known to have been involved. The reason they were acquainted is because they were filming the Universal drama A Woman's Vengeance, which would hit cinemas the next January.

Blyth is still around, celebrating her ninety-fourth birthday today. Boyer died in 1978. That means Blyth has lived more than forty years beyond the day Boyer passed away. That's the joy and pain of long life, seeing so much but losing friends decades early, and it's made even more poignant due to the fact that for celebrities it happens in the public eye. But even at ninety-four a birthday may bring a little happiness. The lucky ones amongst us will find out firsthand if that's true. See some fun shots of Blyth here and here

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Hollywoodland Jul 5 2022
DEEP INSIDE
Inside Story goes where other tabloids tread—then claims not to have gone there.


It's been a few years since we posted an issue of Inside Story, but we don't run out of tabloids, we just run out of time to scan them. Today, though, there's time aplenty, so above you an issue that appeared this month in 1963 with a cover touting a feature on the new generation of young actresses in Hollywood taking over from Brigitte Bardot, Kim Novak, and Marilyn Monroe. At the time, Bardot was twenty-nine and Novak was thirty-five. Those aren't exactly geriatric years for actresses, even back then, but Inside Story said there was a young new guard: Angie Dickinson, Ann-Margret, Jane Fonda, Connie Stevens, Tuesday Weld, and Julie Newmar. Dickinson was actually older than both Bardot and Novak, but we get the general point.

Later in the issue there's a story dedicated to Monroe that describes her fans as a death cult. The interesting aspect of this is that the author Kevin Flaherty accuses people of obsessing over Monroe—while himself obsessing over Monroe. The gist of his article is that a cottage industry of films, books, and magazine articles were cashing in on her suicide, which had occurred the previous August. This was, of course, shaky ground for any tabloid to tread upon, as they all made their profits via unauthorized articles about various celebrities, which one could define as exploitative by nature. But never let the facts get in the way of a good story angle.

Flaherty tells readers that Monroe's life was marred by abandonment, depression, and rape, and suggests that if she had been given a little peace by constantly clamoring fans and intrusive reporters she might not have taken that fatal dose of pills. We think it's just as valid to conclude that without stardom she wouldn't have lasted as long as she did. Since she isn't around anymore to speak for herself (she'd be ninety-six this year), we choose to view her on the terms she chose. She started as a model and worked hard to become an actress, and we think those achievements are far more important than what she had no control over. But there will always be debate over Monroe's legacy, and Inside Story shows that the discussion was already in full swing. Twenty-plus scans below.
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Hollywoodland Jul 3 2022
THEIR GENERATION
People try to put them down.


This photo was made to promote the 1959 drama The Beat Generation, and shows co-stars Steve Cochran and Fay Spain. The movie also starred the never-to-be-overlooked Mamie Van Doren. While you would think the movie deals with disaffected youth—and in some ways it does—it's largely about middle-aged detective Cochran trying to capture a serial rapist. We watched it five years ago. You can find out what we thought here

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Hollywoodland Jun 18 2022
SHE'S NO DAY AT THE BEACH
I love it here. Sun, sand, surf. It's almost enough to make me stop thinking about cold-blooded murder.


Above and below: a series of photos made for the classic murder drama The Postman Always Rings Twice, with Lana Turner and John Garfield busily frolicking on Laguna Beach south of Los Angeles. The movie was released in April 1946, but began filming in June 1945, which means these photos were made sometime during that summer. Postman features two long seaside sequences, plus one brief beach scene of Garfield alone, and all the shooting was of the day-for-night variety—filmed during the day but filtered to simulate night. We're fans of the film, but even more so of James M. Cain's pitch dark novel. For two enjoyably amoral experiences, ring twice.

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Hollywoodland Mar 25 2022
BUSTING FREE
Don't fool around on Donna Mae.


We're back in Los Angeles County divorce court, a place that got so much celebrity usage during the mid-century period it probably could have benefitted from a VIP section. Above you see famed burlesque dancer and model Donna Mae Brown, aka Busty Brown, attending a spousal support hearing today in 1960. Brown performed throughout the U.S. but was based in L.A., headlining at the New Follies, Strip City, and other popular nightspots. Busty wasn't her only alias. The era was all about unwieldy nicknames meant to generate free publicity, therefore she was also known for a while as “Miss Shape of Things To Come,” and “Miss Anatomy.”

In this case, what was to come was monthly support. She was seeking funds from her second ex-husband Maynard Sloate, a high powered agent whose clients included Count Basie, Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughn, and Dinah Washington, and who later went into club ownership—including the aforementioned Strip City—through which he trafficked such stars as Anita O’Day and Redd Foxx. At the end of the day Brown, who had initiated divorce proceedings due to Sloate's various infidelities, won fifty dollars monthly, and twenty percent of her ex's gross earnings as support for herself and her children.

The notably slender Brown, who's a brunette above and below, but earned her fame as a platinum blonde, was one of the bolder models of her era, going topless in magazines, baring all for nudie film loops, and getting truly revealing for underground photo club shoots. The latter practice even got her arrested in 1953. The trio of poolside shots below give you a sense of how far she was willing to go, but they're not among her most explicit photos, because there's only so far we're willing to go. If you poke around online you might find those images. She's also fifth in a collection of photos we uploaded a few years ago.
I'll admit there are a couple of aspects of marriage to Donna that I'll really miss.
 
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Hollywoodland Mar 24 2022
BIKE LIKE IKE
He's a complicated man—nobody understands him but his mechanic.


This is about as chill as you can get. The above shot, which has been floating around online for a while now, was first published in Custom Bike-Chopper, aka Custom Chopper, in 1976, and shows the legendary Isaac Hayes astride his turbocharged Kawasaki chopper on a sunny Southern California day. With the sandals and socks, it's like he never left his sofa. His bike has one-of-a-kind handlebars, a filigreed gearbox, a gold-plated roller chain, and more. It's extravagant, but the guy wrote the massive hit song, “Theme from Shaft.” He had to do something with all that royalty money. As the lyrics explain, nobody understands him but his woman—who we assume built his bike.
 
We've talked about Hayes before. He starred in a number of films, but of the ones we've seen so far, the most interesting is the 1974 blaxploitation flick Truck Turner. We talked about it at length a while back, and long story short, it's terrible but amusing. He also appeared in the fun John Carpenter b-movie Escape from New York in 1981, and was a running character on the animated show South Park. We'll get back to Escape from New York later, probably. In the meantime, you can see U.S. and Italian Truck Turner posters here and here, read our thoughts about the film at the first of those links, and check out a promo image of Hayes in considerably less relaxed mode here.

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Hollywoodland Mar 18 2022
WHY WORRY
Ann-Margret's reputation was a problem. But her reputation for what?


This should spice up your Friday. Above you see Swedish bombshell Ann-Margret on the cover of a National Enquirer published today in 1962. The editors wanted to match Ann's face with the, “I'm worried,” header, and used a promo shot of her dancing. Wild facial expressions were a specialty of hers. Winks, grins, grimaces, and more were her stock in trade, deftly demonstrated in the shot below. But regarding the above image, we don't think she looks particularly worried. Pained, possibly. Worried, no. We didn't buy this item, so we can't tell you for sure what she's supposed to be worried about, but considering the year, the article probably discusses her trying to make the transition from singer/dancer to serious actress. It was something she talked about in interviews. In the end she managed it easily. On the other hand, maybe Enquirer is hinting at something else entirely. Either way, the photo is rare.

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Hollywoodland Mar 11 2022
A HUNDRED YEARS YOUNG
Early movie magazine celebrates a pantheon of Hollywood stars long gone.


Above and below are the cover and a selection of pages from an issue of Pantomime magazine published exactly one hundred years ago, today in 1922, by New York City based Movie Topics, Inc. We don't share much printed material from the pre-1940 pulp years because it tends to be rare to find, a bit expensive to buy, and not as visually dynamic as what came afterward. Luckily, there's a selection of items like these on Archive.org, and that's where this particular discovery originated, part of a collection of eighteen issues available for free download.

There isn't much information available on Pantomime. The rise of Hollywood fueled a huge satellite industry of movie and celeb mags, and scores of them were short-lived. It's possible this one was in existence only during 1921-22, during the silent era. It's filled with celebrities whose names have faded from popular culture, such as cover star Mae Murray, who was known as “The Girl with the Bee-Stung Lips,” Betty Compson, who we've shown you before, Bebe Daniels, who starred in the first version of The Maltese Falcon, action megastar William Duncan, who appeared in one-hundred fifty movies and short features, and Bryant Washburn, who topped Duncan, accumulating well over three-hundred screen credits.

As you might imagine of a publication from 1922, there's problematic material, in this case an article purportedly written by Pantomime's office boy, Eustace Yodels, but in reality written by the editors in what they imagined was African American vernacular, filled with racist phonetics. Apparently the piece is part of a series, an assumption we make because the subhead says it's “another” discourse by Yodels. We've uploaded a snippet below, but if you ever need to do research on racist tropes in old magazines, pull this one off Archive.org and read the whole shameful thing for yourself.

Pantomime also published fiction—official, aknowledged fiction, unlike the above. This issue has Sign of the Trident, which is two chapters of Herbert Crooker's novelization of the Ruth Roland cinema serial White Eagle. For any visitors unfamiliar with the concept, serials were films shown one chapter per week in cinemas. They came on before the main features, and each chapter ended with a so-called cliffhanger. Pantomime was a weekly, so each week it published a fictionalization of what was showing in the movie house. All that for a cover price of ten cents. Inflation-wise that would be about $1.67 today. Not a bad value.
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Hollywoodland Feb 10 2022
HELL AND HIGH WATER
Elaine Stewart gets fat for the only time in her life.


This photo shows actress Elaine Stewart preparing for a bath scene in her 1958 thriller High Hell, in which she starred with John Derek. Make-up artist George Claff is applying a layer of grease paint, which is basically animal fat, sometimes with pigments mixed in. We guess it must have helped keep Stewart warm in the water. Maybe someone else has a better explanation. That's ours. In any case, handling Stewart's hot legs must have been the highlight of Claff's career. We imagine him returning home that evening:

Mrs. Claff: “How was work today, honey?”

George: “Work? Um... Why? What did you hear?”

*later makes love to wife with wild abandon she hasn't known since they were first married*

Mrs. Claff: “Wow! What got into you?”

George: “Nothing. I just realize I love Elaine— Er... I mean... um... I love a-laying... you... Just a-you.”

Below you see the result of Stewart's extensive grease paint preparation. De Niro? Hah! Stewart fattened up for a role long before him. Is it our imagination or is supporting actor Patrick Allen looking inside the barrel while on the verge of tears? It's understandable. Look here.
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Hollywoodland | Intl. Notebook Jan 26 2022
CONFIDENTIAL TAKEDOWN
The king of tabloids sets its sights on the Queen of Greece.


Every month when Confidential magazine hit newsstands, we imagine Hollywood celebrities receiving the bad news that they'd made the cover, and going, “Shit.” This issue published in January 1964 features Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, Frank Sinatra, and Jill St. John. The first three members of that group probably took the news in stride, since they were all tabloid staples by then. St. John wasn't quite at their level, but her links with Sinatra kept her in the scandal sheets for a while too.

A person who wasn't used to Confidential's attentions was Frederica of Hanover, who at the time was Queen Consort of Greece—which is just a fancy way of saying she was married to the King of Greece. Confidential says she was a Nazi, a pretty serious charge, needless to say. Was she? Well, her grandfather was Kaiser Wilhelm II, as a girl she was a member of Bund Deutscher Mädel, which was a branch of the Hitler Youth, and she had brothers in the SS. Also, back in 1934 Adolf Hitler wanted to link the British and German royal houses, and tried to pressure Frederica's parents into arranging for the seventeen-year-old girl to marry the Prince of Wales, Edward VIII. And as Queen Consort she made a habit of meddling in Greek politics in ways that made clear she was not a fan of democracy. None of that is a particularly good look.

She had defenders, though, who believed that for a person in her position it would have been impossible not to have been a member of certain groups and to have socialized with Nazis. It's interesting, isn't it, how the rich and powerful always benefit from a special set of excuses? People can't really expect her to have made a stand, can they? But the excuse is hollow. As a high ranking royal she could have avoided anything she wished. Membership in organizations when she was a little girl is one thing, but as an adult she could have denounced Nazism with damage to her reputation the only potential result. A damaged reputation is no small thing, but if we expect resistance from people who'd have been imprisoned or shot for doing so, we should probably expect the same from people who would have suffered mostly dirty looks.

Confidential focuses on Frederica's July 1963 visit to England. The visit was no big surprise—Frederica, her husband King Paul of Greece, Queen Elizabeth, and her husband Prince Philip, were all related. They were all direct descendants of Queen Victoria. Monarchy is a funny thing, isn't it? The visit triggered a protest of about three thousand British leftists that was violently broken up by five thousand police. The protestors carried banners that said, “Down with the Nazi Queen.” After mentioning this fiasco, Confidential delves into Frederica's history, some of which we've outlined above, then loops back to the protests, which she blamed on the British press. But she had already reached a level of notoriety that usually brought out protestors who loudly booed her, particularly in Greece. She eventually retreated from public life, became a Buddhist, and died early at age sixty-three.

Confidential's unexpected exposé on Frederica wasn't out of character for the magazine. It was the top tabloid dog in a very large kennel. It had an expansive staff, serious reporters, hundreds of informers spread across the U.S. and Britain, and published stories about heavy hitters from all sectors of society. It had a regressive political agenda, as its article filled with terrible slander against gays and lesbians makes clear, but even with its rightward slant it took pains to keep its reporting framework factual. That makes it a priceless source of contemporaneous info about public figures, particularly of the Hollywood variety. We doubt we'll ever stop buying it, because we never know who we'll find inside. Twenty-plus scans below.
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Next Page
History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
August 18
1920—U.S. Women Gain Right To Vote
The Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution is ratified despite heavy conservative opposition. It states that no U.S. citizen can be denied the right to vote because of their gender.
1958—Lolita is Published in the U.S.
Vladimir Nabokov's controversial novel Lolita, about a man's sexual obsession with a pre-pubescent girl, is published in the United States. It had been originally published in Paris three years earlier.
August 17
1953—NA Launches Recovery Program
Narcotics Anonymous, a twelve-step program of drug addiction recovery modeled on Alcoholics Anonymous, holds its first meeting in Los Angeles, California.
August 16
1942—Blimp Crew Disappears without a Trace
The two-person crew of the U.S. naval blimp L-8 disappears on a routine patrol over the Pacific Ocean. The blimp drifts without her crew and crashes in Daly City, California. The mystery of the crew's disappearance is never solved.
1977—Elvis Presley Dies
Music icon Elvis Presley is found unresponsive by his fiancée on the floor of his Graceland bedroom suite. Attempts to revive him fail and he's pronounced dead soon afterward. The cause of death is often cited as drug overdose, but toxicology tests have never found evidence this was the case. More likely, years of drug abuse contributed to generally frail health and an overtaxed heart that suddenly failed.
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