Saturday, May 26, 2007


One of the nice things about a postcard collection is that it doesn't take up much room, a couple of shoeboxes and you are all set. But of course the cards need to be seen to be appreciated and enjoyed. We have many of the cards you see on this blog placed around the house, most in small, simple display stands. Some sit on the bookshelf, others on a bureau, night stand, etc. Another approach is to scan them and then enlarge and sometimes colorize them (blasphemy to some I know) and put them in period frames. We have collected a number of what are referred to today as "reverse-painted" frames. These frames were produced from the twenties through the forties and were available in department stores and five and dimes. They were cheap to produce and hundreds, if not thousands, of designs were to be had. The concept and construction of the reverse painted frame is pure simplicity. A single sheet of glass has a design painted on the back, leaving an opening for the picture to show through and the back is a single sheet of paperboard that is either glued on directly to the glass or held to it with screws or corner brackets. Sizes range from 2x3 to 12x15.

The beauty of these frames lies in their designs. Most were done in either a deco or modern/streamline style. In my opinion they work so well together with the images of the actresses of the period. The pictures below show a number of these frames and how we use them with images scanned from the postcards and I should note, images found in magazines of the period.

Most of the frames were found on Ebay (search reverse painted frames), but they can occasionally be found in antique shops. Since the are just a single piece of glass, and were cheap, many didn't survive. Prices usually range from $10 to $50, depending on size and condition.

There is also a wonderful book, "Picture Perfect-Deco Photo Frames 1926-1946", authored by Steve Starr and published by Rizzoli in 1991. It is out of print, but may be available through Alibris or ABE.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Clara Bow

For almost a year now, I have been posting information and images from my collection of many virtually forgotten actresses of the twenties and thirties. But...with Clara Bow, what can you say that hasn't been said. A Brooklyn girl, living in virtual poverty with a schizophrenic mother and abusive father, becomes one of the most famous actresses of the twenties and early thirties. Read a bio here) if by some really strange chance you are here and not familiar with Clara. Rather than rehash her life for the 1000th time, lets just enjoy the images.

Clara Bow - What do you think - Allure?

The above is from the 1931 edition of The New Movie Album, a yearly publication of New Movie magazine. Click on the image for larger size.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Miriam Hopkins

Born in Savannah, Georgia, in 1902, Ellen Miriam Hopkins was raised in nearby Bainbridge and attended a finishing school in Vermont and Syracuse University. Studying dance in New York, she began her show business career as a chorus girl in 1922 and successfully moved onto legitimate theater. In 1930, after feeling the call to the silver screen, she signed with Paramount Studios, and made her official film debut in Fast and Loose that same year.

Her first great success was in Ernst Lubitsch's masterpiece Trouble in Paradise (1932), in which she charmingly plays Lily, a thief posing as a countess. During the rest of the 1930s she appeared in such films as Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931), where I first saw her and was captured by her allure, Becky Sharp (1935), for which she was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress, Barbary Coast (1935), These Three (1936) and The Old Maid, opposite Betty Davis (1939). BTW it was on TCM earlier today, so look for it on their schedule. She was known as being very difficult on the set and most bios point to this consistently.

She was married and divorced four times. In 1932, at a time when single-parent adoption was illegal in most states, she adopted a baby boy while between marriages. She adored her son, Michael, and always called him the most important man in her life.

She died in New York city in 1972.

This image (double click for larger image) comes from my September 1931 copy of New Movie Magazine. It oozes allure as far as I'm concerned.
Miriam Hopkins - What do you think? Allure?

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Asides - Cinco de Mayo

Well, my intentions were good, but a small scanner glitch left me a day late. Anyway, in honor of Cinco de Mayo, commemorating an initial victory of Mexican forces over French forces in the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862, I am posting magazine covers of actresses of Mexican descent who have already appeared on this blog (5/31/06 and 3/19/07). Here gracing the April and June 1934 issues of Movie Classics magazine are two of Hollywood's most alluring actresses, Lupe Velez and Dolores Del Rio. And while I don't have a magazine with a cover of Raquel Torres (6/28/06 post), she was another truly alluring Mexican actresses deserving mention this day.

Both Illustrations are by the artist Marland Stone.
Click on the images for larger views.