Friday, December 29, 2006

Joan Crawford - Photoplay

As I have done on occasion, I take a break from the photo postcards and offer a couple of Photoplay magazine covers from my small collection. We have not covered Joan Crawford in postcard imagery yet, that will happen, but here we see her on the cover of Photoplay in October of 1931 and January of 1934. I find the contrast in covers quite striking from a design standpoint - the yellow '31 cover is still in the style more reminiscent of the 20's, particularly as regards the typeface.

The artist for both covers is again Earl Christy (See Bebe Daniels Earl Christy cover also on this blog). As I mentioned in the Daniels post, Christy created many film magazine covers, but he also did sheet music, fans, blotters, book illustrations, boxes, jigsaw puzzles, posters, serving trays, bookmarks, advertising mailers, catalogs, programs, china, and textiles.

Love her or hate her, Joan certainly had her day(s) in Hollywood as a top star. More on her when she gets her postcard debut.

Joan Crawford - What do you think? Allure?

Monday, December 18, 2006

Marion Davies

Marion Davies, born Marion Cecilea Douras on January 3, 1897, started out as a chorus girl in New York. When Marion moved to California, she had already met William Randolph Hearst and then began a 30 year romance. They lived together at San Simeon, aka Hearst's Castle, which stands as a California landmark today. At San Simeon they threw very elaborate formal parties and the guests included basically all of Hollywood and other prominent people of the day. Being the practical joker that she was, Marion once got President Calvin Coolidge drunk by feeding him wine and simply telling him it was fruit juice.

Hearst bankrolled many of Marion's screen roles, but she was a very good comedic actress and probably would have succeeded just as well on her own. Their life together was dubiously mirrored in the films Citizen Kane (1941) and RKO 281 (1999) (TV), and more factually in The Cat's Meow (2001).

By the late 1930's Hearst was suffering financial reversals and it was Marion who bailed him out by selling off $1 million of her jewelry. Without her the Hearst Corporation might not be where it is today. Because of Hearst's financial problems, it also spelled the end to her career. Although she had made the transition to sound, other stars seemed to fare better. Roles for her became fewer. By 1937, Marion was 40 and she filmed the last production for the silver screen, EVER SINCE EVE.

Marion Davies - What do you think? Allure?

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Brigitte Helm - Third of three postings

From another Obit. See first and second Brigette posting for bio.

Though her fame rests almost entirely with one film, and her name is hardly a familiar one even to many avid moviegoers, images of Brigitte Helm are among the most haunting and famous of any in the first century of film history. Even those who have never seen Metropolis are familiar with the pale lovely face as it is seen imprisoned in a glass coffin, eyes closed, like some science-fiction Snow White, or Brunnhilde in a silver helmet, or virgin saint. Or perhaps they recall the nearly nude shimmy dancer rising from an Art Deco clamshell bed, a robot turned Babylonian love goddess.

Brigitte Helm - What do you think? Allure?

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Brigitte Helm - Second of three postings

The following is a paragraph taken from the NYT obituary, June 14th 1996.

Yet for all the acclaim she received for such roles as her portrayal of a blind girl in Georg Wilhelm Pabst's "Love of Jeanne Ney," or as a bored aristocratic wanton in his "Crisis," Ms. Helm could never eclipse the role, or rather rules, in which the good Maria, an oppressed working girl, is transformed into an evil robotic doppelganger of herself in Lang's "Metropolis."

Brigitte Helm - What do you think? Allure?

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Brigitte Helm - First of three postings

What can I say - We have over 90 different postcards of Brigitte Helm, mostly due to our exposure to her from her performance in Metropolis, director Fritz Lang's Sci-Fi classic, and one of the most influential films of all time.

Brigitte Eva Gisela Schittenhelm was born in Berlin in 1908, and at age 18 is encouraged by her mother to do a screen test for Lang, who promptly hired her for the dual role of the idealistic Maria and the evil robot woman. Only a novice, she became a star overnight among young German movie actresses. Reportedly, her first film role almost became her last due to Lang's insistence upon "realism" during a burning-at-the-stake scene. However, she survived to become one of Germany's top screen attractions, extending her popularity to British and French productions.

One of the few offers she was obliged to turn down was the part of Lola-Lola in von Sternberg's The Blue Angel (1929), which went instead to Marlene Dietrich. Brigitte retired from films upon her marriage in 1935 and moved to Switzerland to get out from under the Nazi regime. She rarely talked about her film career and died out of the limelight in 1996.

Brigitte in her role as the evil Maria.

The softer side.

Somewhere in between.

Brigitte Helm - What do you think? Allure?

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Bille Dove (Third of 3 postings)

Read the main Billie bio in post #1.

The multi-talented Billie was also a poet, a painter, and an airplane pilot.

Billie Dove - What do you think? Allure?

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Billie Dove (Second of 3 postings)

Read the main Billie bio in post #1.

For a time Billie surpassed Mary Pickford, Gloria Swanson and Greta Garbo at the box-office. She was renowned for her physical perfection, her complexion so flawless that she was a natural choice for some of the earliest films in Technicolor.

Like so many others on this blog, Billie appeared with a very young Douglas Fairbanks Jr. in several films. He recalled: "I was as smitten as any male of any age would be. She was not only lovely to look at but perfectly charming to work with. However, there was an added obstacle to my expressing myself: The director, Irvin Willat, was her husband!"

Billie Dove - What do you think? Allure?

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Billie Dove - (First of 3 postings)

Billie was born Lilian Bohny in New York City in 1900. As a teen, she worked as a model and was hired at the age of 15 by Florenz Ziegfeld to appear in his Ziegfeld Follies Revue. She migrated to Hollywood in 1922 and began appearing in films.

Her beauty and easily recognizable name helped her become one of the most popular actresses of the 1920s. She was soon dubbed The American Beauty, which was also the title of one of her films.

Billie had a huge legion of male fans and one of her most persistent was Howard Hughes. She shared a three-year romance with Hughes. Billie allegedly lost enthusiasm for the movie business after William Randolph Hearst ordered extensive recutting of Blondie of the Follies (1932) because she outshone Marion Davies, Hearst's mistress. She retired after making 50 films.

She was a favorite of singer Billie Holiday, who changed her first name from Eleanora to Billie after her idol. Billie died in 1997 at the age of 97.

Billie Dove - What do you think? Allure?

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Nita Naldi

Nita Naldi was born Anita Donna Dooley in 1897 in New York. She began her career as a showgirl in a Shubert revue and later went on to the famed Ziegfeld Follies.

In 1920 she appeared with John Barrymore in Dr. Jeykll & Mr. Hyde. This, her first role, seemed to solidify her film career. She then did a number of very successful vamp roles and was was fast becoming filmdom's leading, sexy lady. However, it was 1922's BLOOD & SAND that was to set her apart from others. Nita starred opposite Rudolph Valentino in one of the silent era's last truly great productions. (BTW, it was in Hollywood, through the alchemy of press agentry, that Nita was rhapsodized as a patrician grande dame, a daughter of a famed Italian diplomat, a distant relation of Dante’s Beatrice. Not bad for a gal from a working class NYC Irish-Italian family.)

In 1928, she made the last two of her 31 films. With the arrival of sound, her New York accent did not lend itself well to the "talkies", whereupon she retired from the silver screen. Nita died in 1961.

Nita Naldi - What do you think? Allure?

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Anita Page

Anita Page was born Anita Pomares in 1910 in Flushing New York. The vivid, petite blonde is best known for her lively flapper and ambitious starlet roles.

In 1929 Anita received over 10,000 fan letters a week, second only to Greta Garbo. Over one hundred of these were from an ardent Italian admirer, who wrote obsessively about her every move and asked for her hand in marriage several times - Benito Mussolini!

She was paired up with Joan Crawford in three popular films: "Our Dancing Daughters (1928), Our Modern Maidens (1929) and Our Blushing Brides (1930). She also appeared opposite Buster Keaton in two of his lesser-known talkies: Free and Easy (1930) and Sidewalks of New York (1931).

Anita received the Women's International Center (WIC) Living Legacy Award in 1997. Yes, she is still with us as of this posting and even had a small role in 2004's Bob's Night Out.

Anita Page - What do you think? Allure?

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Dita Parlo

Dita Parlo was born Grethe Gerda Kornstädt on September 4, 1908 in Stettin, Pomerania, Germany [now Szczecin, Poland]. She began her film career in 1928 with the German made films Geheimnisse des Orients, Heimkehr, and Die Dame mit der Maske. In the thirties Dita made both German and the French films. Perhaps her most famous role was as the female lead in the wonderful (and available) L'Atalante. She was also the female lead in Jean Renoir's must see masterpiece Grand Illusion (also available). In the same decade she made a short excursion to the Hollywood where she appeared in the Honor of the Family and Mr. Broadway.

Dita appeared only in a few movies after WWII, including "Justice est faite" and "La dame de pique", her last film, made in 1965.

Madonna based her book 'Sex' on a fictional character named Dita, inspired by Dita Parlo and her character in L'Atalante. Dita died in France in 1971.

Not sure what this outfit was all about.
Dita Parlo - What do you think? Allure?

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Jeanette Loff

Jeanette Loff was born October 9, 1906 in Cronno, Idaho. There is not much bio information about Jeanette, but we know her father was a famous Danish violinist and she began her career playing the organ in the movie palaces of Portland, Oregon.

Her first film appearance was in 1927 in Uncle Tom's Cabin and she continued to make 20 more films until 1934.

From the NYT 1930 review of Party Girl - "Jeanette Loff, a most attractive girl, plays Ellen Powell. Miss Loff entertains with song during some of the passages. Both she and Mr. Fairbanks do quite well". She also has a role in the same year in the film, The Racketeer, which survives in the public domain. Robert Armstrong of King Kong fame plays the lead opposite Carole Lombard. Jeanette Died of ammonia poisoning in 1942 at the young age of 36.

Jeanette Loff- What do you think? Allure?

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Colleen Moore

Colleen Moore was born August 19, 1900 in Port Huron, Michigan. She got her start in film thru her uncle's friendship with D.W. Griffith, and in 1917 she found herself in 5 of his films. Colleen, like others on this blog was a WAMPAS Baby Star (1922). However, the movie that defined her and her look and reputation as a flapper was the classic Flaming Youth (1923), in which she played Patricia Fentriss. By 1927 she was the top box-office draw in the US, pulling in the phenomenal sum of $12,500 a week! She successfully made the transition into the "talkie" era of sound films. Her 63rd and final film role was as Hester Payne in The Scarlet Letter (1934). At 83 she married her fourth husband. At the time of her death she was writing a novel, a Hollywood murder mystery centered around a Mae West type. Colleen died in 1988.

Colleen Moore- What do you think? Allure?

Monday, September 04, 2006

Mary Astor

Born in Illinois in 1906 as Lucile Vasconcellos Langhanke (now there's a name for a marquee - not), most all of us know Mary Astor from her starring role in The Maltese Falcon opposite Bogey. To begin though, she was pushed into beauty contests by her father and thankfully was discovered and signed to a Hollywood studio at 14! In 1924, Mary landed a role as Lady Margery Alvaney opposite the great John Barrymore in the film BEAU BRUMMEL. This launched her career to stardom and a lively affair with Barrymore. Mary was one of those lucky actresses who made the successful transition to "talkies" because of her voice and strong screen presence. In 1941, she won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her role in THE GREAT LIE. Personal problems plagued her through a good portion of her life, but she made over 120 films. Mary Astor died in 1987.

Here is Mary with William Boyd (AKA Hopalong Cassidy).

Mary Astor - What do you think? Allure?

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Hertha Feller

Born in Vienna in 1916, very little information is available about Hertha Feller (Feiler). She made 34 films beginning in the 1930's. What does follow is a brief NYT review of a film she appeared in. Other than that, all we know is that she died in 1970.

NYT review - "Austrian audiences never seemed to tire of escapist operettas, and director Ernst Marischka never tired of grinding 'em out. Based on the popular stage attraction of the same name, Opera Ball stars Johannes Heesters as faithful family man Georg Dannhauser. Georg's wife Elisabeth (Hertha Feller) trusts her husband implicity--but just to be on the safe side, she orchestrates an elaborate ruse to test his fidelity. To this end, Elisabeth enlists the aid of handsome Paul Hollinger (Josef Meinrad), who can best be described as a sexual adventurer. The outcome of the story is as predictable as the musical score is delightful."

Hertha Feller - What do you think? Allure?

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Dorothy Lee

Born in 1911, Marjorie Millsap changed her name after finishing high school, went into vaudeville, sang with Fred Waring's orchestra and made her feature debut in the film "Syncoptation (1929)". In her second film, "Rio Rita", she was teamed with comedians Bert Wheeler and Robert Woolsey, and appeared in almost all their movies. After the teaming with Wheeler and Woolsey, her career drifted away and she retired first in 1939, returned for some roles in the early 40s, and then finally quit working in films after 33 movies. Dorothy died in 1999.

No idea whats going on with the outfit.
Dorothy Lee - What do you think? Allure?

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Anna May Wong - (Third of 3 postings)

Anna May Wong

For Anna's bio highlights, see the first of her posts. There is much information about Anna on the net - her battle with the descrimination in Hollywood (and the U.S.) never got her down, although she was denied many parts due to her Asian heritage. To close, it's said that
her friend Eric Maschwitz wrote the dreamy lyrics to the pop standard
These Foolish Things (an American classic) in Wong's honor.

Anna May Wong - What do you think? Allure?

Friday, August 18, 2006

Anna May Wong - (Second of 3 postings)

Anna May Wong

For Anna's bio highlights, see the previous post. Here is another aspect of life she had to deal with. Her genuine romances typically were with Caucasian men, but California law forbade marriage between Asians and Caucasians until 1948! One of her lovers offered to marry her in Mexico, but their intentions became known and he backed off when his Hollywood career was jeopardized. Wong once mused about marrying a Chinese man, but the Chinese culture held actresses to be on par with prostitutes, which made her suspect marriage material.

Anna May Wong - What do you think? Allure?

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Anna May Wong - (First of 3 postings)

Anna May Wong

Anna May Wong was born Wong Liu Tsong on January 3, 1905, in Los Angeles, California. As the famous James Wong Howe's cousin, she was fascinated with the movie industry at a young age. Anna's big break came when she landed the role of a Mongol slave girl in The Thief of Bagdad (1924)starring Douglas Faribanks. This film put her in the position of being the first (and for a long time, the only) Chinese-American to become a bona fide movie star. Anna's talent and beauty carried her through a successful transition into talkies, where she was a hit in 1932's Shanghai Express, the von Sternberg opus starring Marlene Dietrich. Anna made over 50 films before her death in 1961. Her fame lives on, four decades after her death. She is a part of American popular consciousness, chosen as one of the first movie stars to be featured on a postage stamp. This is the first of 3 pages featuring images of this wonderful actress.

Anna May Wong - What do you think? Allure?

Thursday, August 10, 2006

La Jana

La Jana

The actress La Jana was born in 1905 Vienna. She began her career in childhood with ballet troupe of the Frankfurter Opera. Later she worked in cabarets and revues, appearing primarily as a dancer. La Jana made her film debut in 1925 and made about 25 films, mostly in dancing roles, and as the pictures indicate, wearing exotic costumes. She died prematurely in 1940 due to pneumonia and pleurisy which she caught during a Christmas tour in 1939.

La Jana - What do you think? Allure?

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Constance Bennett

Constance Bennett

Born in 1904, Constance was the first of the Bennett sisters to enter films, her initial appearance was in 1916. She then went on to make another 53 films and was in a fair number of television programs. Considered to be the most attractive of the Bennetts', she she may best be remembered today as the lead actress opposite Cary Grant in 1937's Topper. She also shines in 1932's What Price Hollwwood. Her 1931 contract with Warner Brothers, $300,000 for 2 films, made her the highest-paid film player up to that time and reportedly inspired tax legislation aimed at the film industry. Dying unexpectedly at age 60, she is buried in Arlington National Cemetery in recognition of her work for the Berlin Airlift.

Constance Bennett- What do you think? Allure?

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Mystery Guest

Mystery Guest

So, for a little change, lets see if anyone can identify this actress. I'll give you a few hints, but this won't be easy, a real test for those interested in films of the twenties and thirties. Our mystery guest was in 43 films from 1924 through 1935. Short comedies were a speciality, but she was also in a few features. Her birth name was Tibbets when she arrived in 1908, and she left with that name when she died in 2000.

Mystery Guest - What do you think? Allure?

Monday, July 31, 2006

Bebe Daniels - Photoplay

As promised, again a short break from the photo postcard realm, this post features a cover illustration of Bebe Daniels (see my 7/23/06 post) for the October 1930 edition of Photoplay magazine. The artist in this case is the very prolific Earl Christy. Christy created magazine covers, illustrations, and advertisements. Movie and entertainment publications he contributed to included Modern Screen, Photoplay, Pictorial Review, Popular Songs, Radio Stars, Screen Album, Screen Romances, and Shadowplay. His distinctive signature is always front and center.

As a side note, one of the strange things about Photoplay magazine, at least with the issues I have, is that the person featured on the cover, isn't covered at all in the issue!

Anyway, here is Bebe Daniels in full illustrated color - captured so well by Christy.

Bebe Daniels - What do you think? Allure?

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Mary Pickford

Mary Pickford

Mary Pickford, AKA Baby Gladys, "The Girl with the Golden Hair" ,"The Glad Girl", America's Sweetheart (abroad, The World's Sweetheart), Little Mary was was born in Toronto in 1892 and began her acting career at the age of six. She made her first of 249 films in 1909 and her final film in 1933. Married to Douglas Fairbanks, she was one of the founders of United Artists Pictures. She was also one of 36 founders of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Without a doubt, Mary Pickford was the most popular stars in the silent era, if not of all time. She died in 1979 at the age of 87.

Mary Pickford- What do you think? Allure?

BTW - Another beautiful Beagle card - hand tinted

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Bebe Daniels

Bebe Daniels

Bebe Daniels was was born in Dallas in 1901 and hit the stage at the age of four in a production of Richard III. That was the beginning of a very successful career that included 234 (!) films. In 1931 she starred along with Ricardo Cortez in the first version of "The Maltese Falcon", also known as "Dangerous Female". She also is remembered for her starring role in 1933's "42nd Street".

And a bit of Bebe trivia. While in Chicago, several thousand dollars' worth of jewelry was stolen from her hotel suite. Al Capone, a longtime Daniels fan, put out the word that whoever stole the jewelry had 24 hours to return it. The jewelry was returned the next day.

Along with the film roles, she also had a successful career on the London stage, in radio and on early TV.

You think maybe Cher saw this card at some point?

Bebe Daniels - What do you think? Allure?

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Lupe Velez and Camilla Horn Revisited

Lupe and Camilla
I just received two wonderful Ross cards (thanks Saskia) of actresses I have already profiled in earlier posts. Lupe was covered on May 31 and Camilla on June 13, both with bios and images. However, these two new images definitely deserve to be featured because in my opinion they both fit the definition of Allure. Enjoy.


Saturday, July 15, 2006

Lya Mara

Lya Mara

In 36 films from 1915 to 1931, Lya was born in Riga in 1897 and began her public life as a ballet dancer, became very popular and was named prima ballerina in 1913. A screen test in 1915 secured her a film career. She married director Friedrich Zelnik in 1918. The couple became a popular hub for other filmworkers who met often at the Zelnik household. She was one of the first actresses to star as Anna Karenina. Talkies ended her film life and after her husband died in 1950 all traces of Lya vanished.

Lya Mara - What do you think? Allure?

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Esther Ralston

Esther Ralston
Leading lady Esther Ralston was renowned as "The American Venus" after appearing in the 1926 film of that title. Born in 1902 to a show business family, she was part of their traveling act at the rip old age of two. Esther appeared in 95 films from 1915 until 1940. Her leaving film while still in her thirties was partly because after working in England in 1932, she returned to Hollywood the following year and was put under contract to MGM. Because she rejected Louis B. Mayer's advances, she was loaned out for "B" pictures and her film career declined. She worked outside of the industry except for a few small parts in early television. Esther died in 1994.

Esther Ralston - What do you think? Allure?

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Gloria Stuart

Gloria Stuart

Celebrating her 96th birthday just a few days ago on July 4, Gloria is today best known for her role as old Rose in Titantic. In 73 films from 1932 to 2004, Gloria got her start in theater and then was signed with Universal. Personally, I remember her best in two James Whale films, The Old Dark House (1932) and The Invisible Man (1933), that film starring Claude Rains. In the mid-'40s she retired from acting, took up painting and had one-woman shows in New York, Austria and Italy. In the 1970s, she returned to acting. But as mentioned above, she will now be remembered as the oldest actress to be nominated for an Oscar for her Titanic role.

Gloria Stuart - What do you think? Allure?

Monday, July 03, 2006

Quick Note #3

Several people have asked me where I find the postcards you see here. About ten percent have come from postcard shows (like the big show held twice a year in NYC). Virtually all the others come from auctions on Ebay, and at least ninety percent of those come from overseas. Part of the fun has been receiving cards from sellers in England, Italy, Spain, Portugal, The Netherlands, Austria, Germany, Estonia, and Romania. And to answer an other common question, they range in price from $4 to $20 and before Paypal was established in those countries, I sent cash. It always got through! Lastly, let me give an unsolicited plug to two of my long time favorite sellers - Hahnco and Leapme, both on Ebay, and both in The Netherlands.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Tullulah Bankhead

Tullulah Bankhead

An actress whose name may perhaps be more familiar than those so far featured here, Tallulah Brockman Bankhead was born on January 31, 1902 in Huntsville, Alabama. She began her career on the stage, starting in New York and then in 1923, headed to London. For the next several years she was the most popular actress of London's famed West End, the British equivalent of Broadway. In the late twenties and early thirties she tried her hand at film and with only marginal success, headed back to the stage until the forties where she was recognized for her work in Hitchcock's 1944 film, Lifeboat. Of course for those who know anything about Tullulah, it was her off stage and screen persona that is best remembered today. Read her (ribald) autobiography for that side of her life. Today her phrase, "Hello, Dahling" is known throughout the entertainment world. Tullulah's last role was in 1966 as the "Black Widow" on the camp TV Series Batman. She died in New York in 1968.

Tullulah Bankhead - What do you think? Allure?