I don't care if his schedule is packed today. I found him and I'm keeping him.
This nice image shows U.S. actor Woody Strode and Italian actress Vittoria Solinas posing together at the Lido in Venice, Italy, in 1967, probably during the Venice Film Festival. Solinas acted in only five films, but was a popular magazine model, and later became a singer and author. Strode is somewhat forgotten today, but was a prolific actor who appeared in more than sixty films, most in small roles, though many were noticeable, such as when he played the gladiator Draba who fought Kirk Douglas in Spartacus. Strode's calling card—as if you couldn't guess—was a body he'd honed as a college athlete and professional wrestler. Think of him as the original Rock, with the main difference being that his neck was smaller than his head. Other movies of his include Genghis Khan, Black Jesus, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, and Colpo en canna, aka Loaded Guns. We hope he and Solinas had a lovely afternoon.
Mexico hasn't been the same since.
Did we ever mention that Mexico is our favorite country? Not that we really rank them, but we've been numerous times, always had fun, and more than once considered moving there. It could still happen. Marilyn Monroe looks like she had a fun time there in this publicity photo made today in 1962, when she landed in Los Angeles after ten days of vacation in Mexico City. You may have noticed the fur coat. It probably wasn't just for show. Mexico City can be quite warm in Fenruary, but nightly lows can get into the 40s Fahrenheit. Or maybe the plane was freezing. In any case, we like this shot showing a world champion of striking excellent poses looking a bit candid. We took notice of this shot because we too shall be flying away on vacation. We'll get into that tomorrow, and as always, Monroe will return.
If my powers function as normal this should get perfectly straight within the next thirty seconds or so.
Usually we trim these square images a bit to fit the column width on our website a little better, but look at the guy in the background. His face. We couldn't trim out that expression. That's actor Lance Fuller looking like he has a head full of highly interesting ideas, and why wouldn't he when he's standing behind naughtily behaving actress and model Vikki Dougan. The two posed for a set of promo photos in 1957 at Wil Wright's Ice Cream on Beverly Drive in Los Angeles. In addition to their banana interplay, they cavorted with a taffy puller and a dough mixer, posed at tables, and generally clowned around. Of course, those other photos are mostly forgotten. It's the banana shot that keeps popping up, so to speak, online. Dougan, who's ninety-four and still out there somewhere in the world, was one of the great publicity seekers of her day, and you can see she has the instincts of a reality television star. Don't believe us? Look here and here, and for a sight that will surely make your day look here.
This is your cell, Mitchum. You'll survive fine. Miss Leeds, yours is in the other wing and I'm sorry to say it's the last anyone'll ever hear of you.
In this press photo, a Los Angeles police deputy named Marjorie Kellog, in black, escorts Lila Leeds and Robert Mitchum to jail after their sentencing for marijuana related charges today in 1949. They'd been arrested the previous August after a police sting operation and been sentenced to a year behind bars, but the judge suspended the sentence and gave them two years probation, sixty days of which were to take place in Los Angeles County Jail. Mitchum had fretted that his acting career was over, but he emerged from his stint in lock-up more popular than ever, and law enforcement axe grinders learned an important lesson—arresting stars in hopes of ruining their careers risked making them appealing as rebels.
Leeds, however, wasn't a star. She was a fledgeling actress who'd accumulated nine film appearances, six of them uncredited. It's possible to argue that, had she been a big star her career would have been severely damaged because she was a woman. But on the other hand Lana Turner went through the scandal of her daughter's killing of Johnny Stompanato, was exposed as a mobster's mistress, yet her subsequent movie was one of her biggest hits. But Turner was seen by the public as someone led astray by a bad man. So in the end it's difficult to say if Leeds got a raw deal because she was a woman. Probably. It's usually a safe bet. We can only say for sure that with no earnings record and no power, her dreams of stardom died.
Sommer photos paint a portrait of relaxation.
These photos show German actress Elke Sommer painting in the yard of her Los Angeles home. They're obviously staged, because we don't think she'd choose a hard tile surface to sit on while doing her work, but the shots are nice. We don't have a date on them, but if we had to guess we'd say they're from the late 1960s. Sommer began painting when she was young, and continued throughout her film career and afterward. She once told an interviewer, “I am really closest to me being myself with paint. I paint anyplace. When I am at home I paint outside, in the nude, for up to eight hours at a stretch. I paint with acrylics, so when I'm finished I just jump in the pool.” In 1984 Sommer published a book titled Painting with Elke Sommer, and had a television show of the same title during the 1980s, on which she wore clothes, sadly. So, what does Elke paint? See an example below.
It was the Whisper heard from coast to coast.
Above is a cover of the tabloid Whisper from January 1965, with actress Carroll Baker, convicted murderer Winston Moseley, and New York judge J. Irwin Shapiro starring on the front. But before we get into the magazine, we want to share the good news that our longtime scanning problems are fixed. We didn't get a new scanner, though. We got a new computer—a Mac Studio with plenty under the hood. It's quicker than the old Mac, but it also changed the functionality of the scanning interface. The whole process runs differently, and is about three times faster now. So you'll be seeing more magazines in the future.
Turning back to Whisper, Winston Moseley—who editors call William for some reason—was America's villain of the moment for the murder of Catherine Genovese, who he stalked, stabbed with a hunting knife, then found again where she had taken refuge in a building, and finished her off. Additionally, Moseley was a necrophiliac. He raped his victims—of which there were three total—post-mortem. Of the trio of victims Genovese is the one that's remembered today because her murder sparked a national reckoning about the relationship between citizens and the police, as well as life in big cities, because the press reported that thirty-eight people had seen the crime happening but had done nothing.
As it turned out, that number was wildly inaccurate, but never let the truth get in the way of perfectly cooked, juicy tabloid outrage. A quote appeared in nearly every story about the murder: “I didn't want to get involved.” New York City—where the crime occurred—and other metropolitan centers were criticized as uncaring places. Author Harlan Ellison, who at that time was writing urban crime fiction, weighed in, saying, “not one of [the witnesses] made the slightest effort to save her, to scream at the killer, or even to call the police.” Peak outrage was achieved by New York State Supreme Court Justice J. Irwin Shapiro when he expressed a desire to execute Moseley himself. In the end, Moseley wasn't executed at all. He died in prison in 2016 at age eighty-one.
Elsewhere in Whisper, you'll notice that the magazine is—unsurprisingly, given the time period and nature of the publication—antagonistic toward gay men, as demonstrated by the panel with the blaring text: “Who's Queer Asked the Peer?” But what is a surprise is that later in the issue the editors run a detailed piece on transvestites and transsexuals, and the approach is very different than the contempt shown toward homosexuality. As we've pointed out many times before, mid-century tabloids had a deep interest in trans issues. The story is titled, “A Doctor Answers What Everyone Wants To Know About Sex Change Operations.” The tone is as follows:
The condition he referred to was the common plight of all male transsexuals. Physically he was a man, but emotionally and personality-wise he was a woman, a condition that made it difficult to find successful employment, and to live at all happily. Fortunately, in his case, he had a lawyer and a wise judge who were able to help him in his wish to go to Europe for a sex change operation so that his body could be brought into greater harmony with his mind, and enable him to work and live with a degree of happiness he had never known before.
That's respectful—if not even compassionate—for a 1965 publication considered lowbrow by sophisticated readers. Is it a paradox that the magazine could be so evil toward gay men, yet so civil toward transsexuals? We think so, and we'd love to know the thought process behind it. While we're puzzling that out, you may want to move on to Whisper's slate of celebrity news. Everyone from Romy Schneider to Ernest Borgnine get their due exposure. We've uploaded the magazine's “Behind the Whispers” feature, so you can get the dish on a few Hollywood stars. Please enjoy.
When you're a movie star you can't simply have a bad day.
When you're a celebrity, even in professional decline or retirement, you can always make news with a public misstep. Such was the case with Rita Hayworth when she was helped from a TWA flight after it landed in London today in 1976. Hayworth had caused a disruption by directing an angry outburst at a flight attendant. The press was on hand at the airport, so Hayworth was photographed from arrival terminal to limousine looking as tired as if she'd walked instead of flown to London.
It was bad day for Hayworth, but it was only the latest in a long run of them. She had been deeply affected by both her brothers dying within a week in March 1974, had been drinking heavily since then, and in fact was allegedly intoxicated on the flight. When news of the disturbance hit the papers she took a public relations beating and, of course, back then the press wasn't circumspect about attacking a woman's looks.
It wasn't until several years later that Hayworth was diagnosed with the still largely unknown ailment Alzheimer's disease, which helped explain her increasingly erratic behavior. Aging is difficult, there's little doubt. Aging as a sex symbol must be incredibly hard. Some would say growing old in public is back payment for fame, fortune, and undeserved adoration, and that may be so, but to us it seems like a mighty high price. We have a few more photos below.
Everybody, listen up! Grace is having a nap, so I guess the whole production has to grind to a halt until she's done.
Online you see this photo captioned something like, “Grace Kelly has a nap in Africa on the set of the 1953 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer movie Mogambo." It's clear, though, that the shot is staged. See all those footprints around Kelly's mattress? Grips, best boys, production assistants, and other species of cinematic wildlife have been constantly trekking through there lugging heavy gear. If she were really in need of a catnap we feel she'd be off to the side, somewhere under shelter from the brutal African sun, for example in a tent reserved for her, so we suspect she and the good folks at MGM chose this spot for a quick photo op. But it's a fun shot. In Africa or out of it, Kelly was hella hot.
Fragility goes back a long, long way.
This famous image appears around the internet, but usually in blurry condition. Today we have a nice, sharp version. It was made by Hollywood photographer Whitey Shafer to satirize the Hays Code censorship regime that came to the motion picture industry like an unwanted guest, and determined what could be shown on movie screens. A reactionary minority believed Americans were too fragile of character to see certain depictions in cinema. Schafer, in his image, chose ten of those no-nos and squeezed them all into one frame. He needed to overlay the machine gun, but it looks like he composed the other nine elements at the same time.
Many websites give the date on this as 1934. The Hays Code began strict enforcement that year, but Schafer didn't create his photographic provocation until 1940. He unveiled it at the inaugural Hollywood Studios Still Show in 1941, which had been created by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to recognize outstanding still photography. Shafer was threatened with a $2,000 fine, which we suspect didn't surprise him. He escaped the penalty, but the photo was banned until turning up in a newspaper decades later—posthumously, since Schafer died in 1951. But his image is remembered. It isn't just razor sharp commentary. It's an amazing creation. We'd be interested to know who the model is, but that information, unfortunately, seems lost.
Fresh from the factory.
The 1964-1965 New York World's Fair brought eighty nations, almost fifty corporations, and a hundred restaurants together to occupy one hundred and forty pavilions built across more than six hundred acres in the borough of Queens. To say that sounds fun is an understatement. We'd love to have been there, especially to see the New York City of that era, but nobody has invented a time machine yet. If we could have gone to the Fair, though, we'd have made sure to run across U.S. actress, model, and singer Joi Lansing, above, who made a publicity appearance as the Queen of Candy outside the Chunky Candy Pavilion.
By the fall of 1964, which is when she posed for the photo, she was a longtime celebrity who had never quite made it big. That's easy to guess, because a big star wouldn't have been slogging through New York's autumn rain trying drum up publicity for herself and a candy brand. Lansing had started in movies in 1947 when she was eighteen, and bounced between cinema and television, with many stops in the pages of tabloids. She never quite became a movie star, but she did forge a major television presence, and was eventually honored for her contributions to that medium by receiving a star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame.
We find her interesting because she had an unconventional sort of beauty, and she seems to pop up all the time in the materials we accumulate. Sadly, she died of cancer in 1972 when she was only forty-three. We have a fair amount of material on her in the website, including some interesting bikini shots here made when she was thirty-seven but looking twenty-five, an interesting paperback cover she appeared on here, a movie poster for one of her starring roles here, and a brilliant promo image showing her at her very best here. |
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