Hollywoodland Jan 7 2022
LAST TRAIN HOME
Poitier heads to parts unknown after a long and unique career.


Above is a photo of one-of-a-kind actor and cultural icon Sidney Poitier, who died yesterday aged ninety-four in the Bahamas, where he was born and lived much of his life. He starred in a couple of our favorite lightweight movies, including 1961's Paris Blues and 1992's Sneakers, but this shot is from 1967's unforgettable and topical drama In the Heat of the Night, one of many landmark movies in which he starred. He changed the game. That's really all you can say. See another cool shot of him here.

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Hollywoodland Jan 4 2022
HERO TAKES A FALL
Not just another one bites the dust.


Scared you there for a second, didn't we? Well, breathe easy, because this isn't a piece of ambush gore like you sometimes stumble across online, but a harmless promo image featuring none other than Humphrey Bogart. This was made when he was filming his 1951 thriller Sirocco and reveals a major plot point. In fact the final plot point. Hope we didn't give anything away. Interestingly, the shot was never used in the flick—Bogart bites the dust offscreen. And after all the work the makeup department did on this, blood from the ears and everything. Well, they still got paid for their time. You can read what we wrote about the film here.

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Hollywoodland Dec 13 2021
HOLLYWOOD LOVE TRIANGLE
Wronged husband takes a shot at his rival.


Above is an interesting composite photo of the style that was sometimes produced by newspapers during the mid-century period. These old composites are pretty cool. We can imagine a museum or gallery exhibit of them. We've seen many, but have only featured one other, which you can see here. This one came from the Los Angeles Herald/Examiner archive and shows Jennings Lang, Walter Wanger, and Joan Bennett in 1951, and was made after Wanger shot Lang.
 
What was it all about? Wanger and Bennett were married to each other, and Wanger thought Lang was trying to get in Bennett's panties. Some sources say an affair was never consummated, but we think it was—and Benett was an expert at attracting men. The shooting happened today, with the news coverage running through the event, immediate aftermath, and sensational trial. You notice the composite also features a gun? That's the real gun Wanger used. We talked about it last year, and the short version is: the fact that the shooter is named Wanger is ironic in the extreme.
 
Below you see Lang's wife, at her husband's hospital bed, and we imagine her saying, “You're thinking about that fucking actress again, aren't you?” And Lang is thinking, “Switch two of those words and you're absolutely right, baby.” The previous bit we posted on their love triangle with Lang is at this link, and if you venture over there, take a look at the last photo and ask yourself if Wanger is a guy you'd want to cross. We think Lang had a death wish.

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Hollywoodland Dec 8 2021
BAD LUCK AND TROUBLE
Nowhere to run, nowhere to hide.


Dennis O'Keefe does the trench-coat-and-pistol thing in this cool promo photo made for the 1950 film noir Woman on the Run. The movie is so titled because of Ann Sheridan, but O'Keefe plays an important secondary character in a flick with some good moments. It's well worth a watch. We wrote about it here.

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Hollywoodland Nov 29 2021
TENDING THE GARDNER
She was one of the most watched people in the world—onscreen and off.


Whisper magazine, in this issue published this month in 1961, offers readers an interesting story about an unnamed millionaire's obsession with Ava Gardner. Apparently the millionaire hired people to follow Gardner around 24/7, all over the world, and report back to him, with this surveillance going on for years. The purpose? If he couldn't have her, he at least wanted to know what she was doing. Whisper focuses on a particular spy named Bill, the fourth of four spies employed by the millionaire, who Gardner came to be friends with and let live on her property, rather than have to sleep in his car night after night. Is this tale true? Maybe. Money buys a lot—including tolerance for bad behavior.

And speaking money, there's also a story on gangster Mickey Cohen, who counted among his consorts Liz Renay and Candy Barr, both of whom we've discussed, Renay here, and Barr here and here. Barr has also shown up in five magazines we've posted. The easiest way to see those is click her keywords and scroll. Cohen proves that no matter what people try to tell you, money is an aphrodisiac, because there's no way trolls like him could score beautiful dancers and models if it weren't for wealth. Take a look at the worst man in the world, and if he has money, he has a wife far more beautiful than makes sense.

Whisper goes on to talk about Burt Lancaster's and Charlie Chaplin's lovers, teen-age drunks, Soviet honeytraps, U.S. prisons, Jane Fonda's professional and family lives, and more. It was a Robert Harrison publication that morphed from a cheesecake magazine with painted pin-up covers into a gossip rag. That happened around 1954, when the original Whisper, launched in 1946, began going broke thanks to an inability to compete with girly magazine numero uno—Playboy. But there was plenty of room in the tabloid market and Harrison made Whisper a staple monthly on par with Confidential, his flagship publication. We'll have more from Whisper later, as always.

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Hollywoodland Oct 25 2021
ALL EYES ON LILI
L.A. residents turn out in droves for a flower show.


Above is a photo of legendary burlesque dancer Lili St. Cyr shot at Ciro's in Hollywood today in 1951. St. Cyr was always controversial, but her performances at that particular locale got her into hot water in the form of an obscenity bust, as we noted a while back. Cops thought she had gone fully nude. It remains an open question whether she did. We even left it open in a detailed post we wrote about the arrest. But if pressed, we'd say she did show it all. We think so not because of any contemporary accounts, which are contradictory, but merely because in the old novels we've read young burlesque dancers had little choice when starting out, and established dancers would do it to start rumors, and thus lure more people to their shows. Generally, in these fictional accounts when they dropped their g-strings, they did it an eyeblink before the stage lights went dark. Almost too fast too see. One character who did this in a novel even aspired to be as good and popular as St. Cyr, so we kind of think if all these authors wrote full nudity as plot devices maybe it was because peelers—including Lili—showed their lillies in real life. But since nobody ever caught it on film, we'll never know for sure.

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Hollywoodland Sep 25 2021
THE LION EATS TONIGHT
Really? The foot on my back again? When the time comes this motherfucker is going to taste so good.


Did you know that generally lions were tranquilized for photo ops like this? This particular lion, though, tucked its tranq between its cheek and gum and spit it out when nobody was looking. Later it's going to eat human flesh for the first time, in this case embodied by Nat Pendleton, wrestler, actor, animal lover. He made this promo in 1936 when he was filming The Great Ziegfeld, and it's part of a series that includes this shot showing him and the lion on better terms.

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Hollywoodland Sep 18 2021
NO SLEEP FOR THE CAFFEINATED
Royal Crown helps consumers to stay awake at the movies.


Lauren Bacall brings her special brand of smoky sex appeal to this magazine advertisement for Royal Crown Cola, made as a tie-in with her 1946 film noir The Big Sleep. RC was launched in 1905 by Union Bottling Works—a grandiose corporate name for some guys in the back of a Georgia grocery store. The story is that the drink came into being after grocer Claud A. Hatcher got into a feud with his Coca Cola supplier over the cost of Coke syrup, and essentially launched RC out of equal parts entrepreneurialism and spite. Union Bottling Works quickly had a line of drinks, including ginger ale, strawberry soda, and root beer.

However humbly RC Cola began, the upstart had truly arrived by 1946, because The Big Sleep, co-starring Humphrey Bogart, was an important movie, and Bacall was a huge star. She was only one jewel in the crown of RC's endorsement efforts. Also appearing in ads were Rita Hayworth, Veronica Lake, Joan Crawford, Virginia Mayo, Paulette Goddard, Gene Tierney, Ann Rutherford, Ginger Rogers, and others. Bacall flogged RC for at least a few years, including starring in tie-in ads for Dark Passage, another screen pairing of her and Bogart that hit cinemas in 1947. You see one of those at bottom. We can only assume these ads were wildly successful. After all, it was Bacall.
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Hollywoodland Sep 1 2021
NO SMOKING ZONE
As far as I'm concerned whoever let the cops in should pay all our legal fees.


On this day in 1949, during the wee small hours of the morning, Robert Mitchum, Lila Leeds, Robin Ford, and Vickie Evans were hanging in a secluded Hollywood Hills home smoking a little mota when there was a scratch at the door. The house was the residence of Leeds and Evans, and it had become a spot where people, including Hollywood showbiz types, occasionally partook of the Devil's weed. By some accounts entry could be gained only via a secret knock, which—actually this is pretty clever—was to scratch at the front door like a cat. Since police had been tipped to the house's possible purpose, we can assume they too scratched at the door. We like to think they meowed too, but that probably didn't happen.

Anyway, Evans answered the door, and to her shock and dismay, in barged the police. Evans, Leeds, Mitchum, and Ford were corralled and escorted to the police station—and right into the cameras of the waiting press. The quartet are seen above with their legal representatives. Below, Mitchum, Leeds, and Ford are facing the camera, while Evans is facing away. Mitchum actually thought his career was ruined, but after being convicted of conspiracy to possess marijuana and serving sixty days in jail he continued as a top rank star. The up and coming Leeds, on the other hand, really was ruined by her conviction—at least according to her. Ford, who was a realtor, was also convicted, but we have no idea what happened to him afterward. Only aspiring dancer Evans was acquitted.

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Hollywoodland Aug 7 2021
BACK IN THE DAY
You know, young lady, I used to have one exactly like that but I used it so much it eventually wore out.


This is a rather amusing shot of professional celebrity, sometime actress, and buttcrack innovator Vikki Dougan's caboose being checked out by an older woman at a Los Angeles social event. You know the story by now. Aspiring star Dougan and her agent were looking for a way to garner publicity, and because so many actresses were wearing low cut dresses that showed cleavage, they cooked up the scheme of having Dougan appear in public with dresses that were low cut in the rear. Thus her nickname: the Back. These dresses would at moments even dip to buttcrack level, which was scandalous, but effective in terms of getting Dougan's name into the tabloids. She soon had the most famous back—and crack—in Hollywood. And of course who can forget the time she showed her girlfur? We certainly can't. The above shot has been nicely colorized, and dates from 1957. Many sites say 1956, but it's part of a photo series made by lensman Ralph Crane for Life magazine and published in ’57. We have an uncolorized shot, slightly different (notice the interested woman isn't wearing glasses in that one) below. We'll have more from Miss Dougan soon.
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Next Page
History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
January 18
1967—Boston Strangler Convicted
Albert DeSalvo, the serial killer who became known as the Boston Strangler, is convicted of murder and other crimes and sentenced to life in prison. He serves initially in Bridgewater State Hospital, but he escapes and is recaptured. Afterward he is transferred to federal prison where six years later he is killed by an inmate or inmates unknown.
January 17
1950—The Great Brinks Robbery Occurs
In the U.S., eleven thieves steal more than $2 million from an armored car company's offices in Boston, Massachusetts. The skillful execution of the crime, with only a bare minimum of clues left at the scene, results in the robbery being billed as "the crime of the century." Despite this, all the members of the gang are later arrested.
1977—Gary Gilmore Is Executed
Convicted murderer Gary Gilmore is executed by a firing squad in Utah, ending a ten-year moratorium on Capital punishment in the United States. Gilmore's story is later turned into a 1979 novel entitled The Executioner's Song by Norman Mailer, and the book wins the Pulitzer Prize for literature.
January 16
1942—Carole Lombard Dies in Plane Crash
American actress Carole Lombard, who was the highest paid star in Hollywood during the late 1930s, dies in the crash of TWA Flight 3, on which she was flying from Las Vegas to Los Angeles after headlining a war bond rally in support of America's military efforts. She was thirty-three years old.
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