Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Lilian Harvey - First of two postings

Lilian Harvey, known at the height of her career as the "sweetest girl of the world", was born Helene Lilian Muriel Pape on January 19th, 1906 in Hornsey, North London. Her mother was English and her father German. At the beginning of World War I they were living in Magdeburg, Germany, and unable to get back to England, Lilian was sent to live with an aunt in Switzerland.

In 1923 she attended the dancing and singing school of the Berlin State Opera and then worked in theater before debuting in her first UFA film "Der Fluch". After several silent outings, UFA found Lilian’s acting, dancing, singing and language skills a perfect fit for the “talkies”. A series of operetta’s, usually co-starring Willy Fritsch, with whom she made 11 films, made them the darling’s of romantic European cinema. These productions were usually made in three different languages at once. The cast would be switched around her for the various takes in German, French and English (Laurence Olivier had his first film role in one of her vehicles).

Her most successful film, 1931's “Congress Dances" led to a contract with 20th Century Fox and Lilian came to Hollywood. Though groomed for stardom here, she wasn’t to become anywhere near the star she was in Europe and after four pictures (more on these in the second post), she returned to Germany and UFA. Unfortunately, the Nazi regime had come to power in her absence and Lilian found it difficult to work under Goebbels. Because she maintained friendships with several Jewish colleagues, she came under observation of the Gestapo and eventually had to flee Germany, losing a great part of her fortune. She went first to France and then back to the United States.

The following appeared in the June 23, 1941 issue of Time.

“Blonde, British-born Cinemactress Lilian Harvey, 34, onetime bright star of German films, hobbled off the Atlantic Clipper on crutches, rattling like a busy bar glass with outsize jewels. She couldn't take any money to speak of out of Europe, but on her neck and hands she wore $100,000 worth of diamonds, sapphires, emeralds, topazes.”

After the second World War she returned to Paris. During the following years, she traveled as a singer through Scandinavia and Egypt. In 1949 she came back to Germany (having renounced her citizenship during the war years) and performed on stage.

Lilian Harvey made 56 films from 1925-1940. She died on July 27, 1968 in Juan-les-Pins, France.

As a testament to her popularity, there were more
than 150 different Lilian postcards produced.

Lilian Harvey - what do you think - Allure?

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Asides - Happy Thanksgiving

I would just like to say Happy Thanksgiving to all who have visited this little section of the web. So... for a little Thanksgiving treat, here is a collage of some photo postcards. Have some holiday cheer and then see how many you can identify. Double-click on the image to actually be able to see anything.

A cornucopia of images.

Because the book shown below didn't arrive in our mailbox until after my Edwina Booth post, I am posting it now. What you are looking at is the book tie-in for Trader Horn (1931). The book originally released in 1926, but this edition came out to help promote the movie and includes stills from the film.

The dust jacket.

The inside front cover and facing page.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Edwina Booth

Edwina Booth was born September 13, 1909, as Josephine Constance Woodruff in Provo, Utah. Entering films in 1928, she made only seven pictures before her career was cut short through illness contracted during shooting Trader Horn (1931), her hoped for breakthrough film.

Filming for Trader Horn took place on location in East Africa. The crew was not experienced filming in such a challenging environment, and problems were magnified by MGM's last-minute decision to shoot the film with sound. Director W.S. Van Dyke and many of the crew contracted malaria and were treated with quinine. Two fatal mishaps occurred during the filming: a native crewman fell into the river and was eaten by a crocodile, and a native boy was killed by a charging rhino - this mishap appears in the film. Other misfortunes also plagued the production, including flash floods, sunstroke, swarming locusts, and tse-tse fly and ant attacks.

Booth herself, only 21 at the time, contracted malaria during shooting. Her role in the film as Nina Trent, "The White Goddess", required that she be very scantily clad, probably increasing her susceptibility. Additionally, production went on for several months longer than anticipated.

Despite all the problems, Trader Horn was a success, garnering an Academy Award nomination for Best Picture. Edwina, however, fared much worse, taking six years to fully recover physically. She sued MGM for over a million dollars, claiming she had been provided with inadequate protection and inadequate clothing during the African shoot. She also claimed she had been forced to sunbathe nude for extended periods during filming. The case was eventually settled out of court, the terms not disclosed. By the way, her salary for Trader Horn was $75.00 per week.

Although she appeared in a few subsequent serials, Booth's acting career never recovered. She withdrew completely from the public eye. There were many false rumors and reports of her demise until her death in 1991.

Since Edwina never got the chance to prove herself, I've included a good number of images to pay homage to this actress. Click on them for a larger view.

The New Movie Album 1931 - Published in April, two months
before Trader Horn was released.

Trader Horn publicity still

German tobacco card - Edwina and friend with a large egg.

Edwina and local Trader Horn extras

Frame captures from our copy of The Vanishing Legion (12 chapter serial), starring Edwina and her Trader Horn co-star Harry Carey. This serial released just ten days after Trader Horn. I'm guessing it was shot before Trader Horn, but I can't verify that.

From a photo shoot with the famous photographer George Hurrell -
more evidence that Edwina was being groomed for a successful career.

Publicity Still

The phonograph that was taken on location when filming Trader Horn.

Edwina Booth- what do you think- Allure?

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Asides - Cruel and unusual punishment for as low as 50 cents

One of the interesting aspects of collecting film magazines of the twenties and thirties, aside from the pictures, articles, and film reviews of the day, are the ads. While several companies and products like Maybelline, Lifebuoy (who by the way coined the term "B.O." in an ad campaign) and Listerine, still exist, there were dozens if not hundreds of other products designed to provide the woman of the day the hope of enhancing her allure. While many of the products and ads could be described as quaint, a number of them seem downright dangerous. What follows is a head to toe look at some of the products available to the reader of the day who was looking to emulate their favorite screen star. Click on the images for a larger view.

Masion Jeunesse offered Waveen for only $.50 a bottle.
Screen Play Secrets magazine, April 1930

Imagine your significant other rolling over and getting a gander at that contraption.
Screen Play Secrets magazine, April 1930

And if Anita's product didn't do it for you,
try Dr. Josephs Nose Corrector.
Screen Play Secrets magazine, April 1930
(only one page away from the Anita ad)

Science comes to the rescue with Kolor-Bak.
Photoplay magazine, October 1930

Antimole - who knows what was in this stuff from
the beauty capital, Lincoln, Nebraska
Photoplay magazine, October 1930

Chin up, you too can have that perfect profile.
There is a Dorothy Gray product available today and users swear by it. Looks like she had her own building!
Photoplay magazine, October 1930

Photoplay magazine, October 1930

These products seem to enter the danger zone - just bleach your face to beauty.
Movie Classic magazine, June 1933

Too big - write Doris Kent.
Hollywood magazine, April 1933

Too small, write Marie Dunne.
Hollywood magazine, April 1933

Forget panty hose - use gum rubber hose, great on a summer day.
Photoplay magazine, October 1930

Marchand's Golden Hair Wash - leg and arm hair that is.
Again, just bleach it!
Movie Classic magazine, June 1933

Never mind, forget the bleach you Airedale. This stuff destroys
body hair without that blue look!
Movie Classic magazine, June 1933

And finally, I don't really know what to say about this product, except that Irene Delray finds it a pleasure to use. Manufactured by the Connecticut Telephone and Electric corporation and available in several colors, I wonder how many different uses Ms. Delray found.
Photoplay magazine, October 1930