Hollywoodland May 17 2017
NEW YORK STORY
Monroe and Miller make the scene in Manhattan.

Playwright Arthur Miller buys Marilyn Monroe a hot dog during a warm day in New York City. The shot was made for Look magazine for a feature purporting to show how normal Miller and Monroe's married life was—even though there's nothing normal about living in a Sutton Place penthouse. But if photos are illusions, the spell woven by this one is effective. Other photos were made, in a session that took place along 5th Avenue from the Plaza Hotel to the Queensborough Bridge and to various NYC landmarks in between, and the truth of being celebrity superstars is only revealed when the photographer finally shoots the crowd Monroe and Miller drew, seen below in the next-to-last panel. These were made in 1957.

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Vintage Pulp Sep 11 2016
POLE POSITION
These are people who definitely pay attention to the poles.


When you look at lots of paperbacks sometimes a common thread suddenly jumps out at you that went unnoticed before. Such was the case a few weeks ago when we noticed the large number of characters on mid-century covers leaning against poles—light poles, telephone poles, sign poles, etc. We suggested someone should put together a collection, but of course we really meant us, so today you see above and below various characters deftly using these features of the urban streetscape as accessories. Art is from Benedetto Caroselli, Harry Schaare, George Gross, Rudolph Belarski, James Avati, et al. You can see a couple more examples here and here.

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Vintage Pulp Jun 28 2016
SHARPER VISION
Focus on both the writing and the art.


Focus was Arthur Miller's first novel, written in 1945, with this Ace Books edition appearing in 1960. If you haven't read it, basically it tells the story of a man who buys a new pair of glasses that alter his appearance to the extent that he is constantly mistaken for being Jewish. From harboring the same prejudices as others, he is suddenly cast as an enemy, as the hatreds around him are revealed. It's a very good, very earnest book. We've actually shared this, though, because the cover was painted by the Italian artist Sandro Symeoni, and it's the first time we've found his work on a paperback. The art reflects nothing of the book's content, but it's amazing just the same. 

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Hollywoodland Aug 18 2015
MEETING HER MATCH
Paris Match offers a retrospective of Monroe from childhood to superstardom.

Marilyn Monroe was perhaps the most photographed celebrity of her era, so when she died it was only natural that scores of magazines released tribute issues. One of the most comprehensive was published by Paris Match today in 1962, just shy of two weeks after Monroe’s death, and it featured a thirty-six page retrospective of her life and career. Above you see the cover of that issue, and below you’ll find all of the accompanying photographs, including several that have been less widely seen, such as those near the bottom showing her making faces while doing acting exercises. We have scans from another Monroe tribute issue made just after her death—this one by Italy’s Epoca—and you can see those here.

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Hollywoodland Apr 11 2014
WHISPER OF THE KNIVES
Every celebrity’s time comes eventually.

Reading about celebrities in these old tabloids is a bit like reliving their fame in real time, and in this Whisper published this month in 1957 we get to observe Marilyn Monroe in mid-career. You know that stage. It’s the one where she’s no longer a sparkling new star, but hasn’t yet earned the status of a venerable old treasure. It’s the stage where almost overnight the very editors who were partners in constructing the edifice of fame begin to take it apart brick and girder, with sledgehammers and blowtorches.
 
In this issue Whisper editors throw Monroe into their monthly crucible “The Pit,” an unenviable place you may remember from our post on Liberace a while back. Sometimes a celebrity behaves in such a way as to deserve harsh criticism, but generally that isn’t the case—only the narrative has changed, which itself reflects the belief in editorial circles that more magazines can be sold by tearing a person apart than by continuing to build them up. As we’ve mentioned before, we know a little bit about this, having spent many years working in media.
 
So what had Monroe done? What was Whisper so miffed about? Well, she had declared her craving to act in serious films. We’ll let Whisper hatchet man Tom Everleigh spin it for you in his own words: “And while the only success she’s ever had in films has been by rolling her hips and doing a lightweight Mae West routine, she’s suddenly going to become a “serious actress”—and would even love to render Shakespeare even!” There you have it, complete with two "evens," oddly. Monroe was the pits because she sought artistic growth. Everleigh describes every aspect of her career as crass manipulation and propaganda, which strikes us as pretty harsh, considering she was never in politics.
 
But anyway, it does illustrate the point that when the script is primed to flip the flimsiest of pretexts will do. At this point in her career Monroe probably would have ended up in Whisper’s Pit whether she’d personally thwarted a terrorist attack or thrown a crate of golden retriever puppies in a woodchipper. Or put another way, when it’s your time to suffer the knives of the tabloids it’s simply your time. Monroe eventually did reach venerable old treasure status, but sadly, it was after her death five years after this issue appeared. We have a couple of scans of her, as well as a great page of Diana Dors with her husband Dennis Hamilton, below. 


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Hollywoodland Feb 4 2014
TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE ART
When Monroe was around everyone else just faded into the background.

This unusual photo shows a glowing Marilyn Monroe with her third husband, the playwright Arthur Miller. It would be tempting to say the shot symbolizes the couple’s relationship with fame or with each other, but that would be too easy—Miller was not shy, and he wasn’t overshadowed by Monroe. In fact, within the relationship it was the opposite—Monroe strived constantly to not disappoint Miller, one of the leading American intellectuals. When she finally learned he was occasionally embarrassed by her, it marked the beginning of the end for their marriage. But this photo was made during the summer of 1957, a period during which, according to most observers, Miller and Monroe were happiest.

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Vintage Pulp Jun 27 2011
GOOD WITH HIS HANDS
Some things are more difficult to grasp than others.


The most difficult piece of human anatomy for an artist to master, so we've heard, is the hand. But pulp icon Rudolph Belarski was so good at hands that they were often the central element of his covers. Below are seven examples culled from around the internet showing his proficiency—indeed, flaunting his ability—in this area. And you can see an eighth handsome Belarski here

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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
October 23
1935—Four Gangsters Gunned Down in New Jersey
In Newark, New Jersey, the organized crime figures Dutch Schultz, Abe Landau, Otto Berman, and Bernard "Lulu" Rosencrantz are fatally shot at the Palace Chophouse restaurant. Schultz, who was the target, lingers in the hospital for about a day before dying. The killings are committed by a group of professional gunmen known as Murder, Inc., and the event becomes known as the Chophouse Massacre.
1950—Al Jolson Dies
Vaudeville and screen performer Al Jolson dies of a heart attack in San Francisco after a trip to Korea to entertain troops causes lung problems. Jolson is best known for his film The Jazz Singer, and for his performances in blackface make-up, which were not considered offensive at the time, but have now come to be seen as a form of racial bigotry.
October 22
1926—Houdini Fatally Punched in Stomach
After a performance in Montreal, Hungarian-born magician and escape artist Harry Houdini is approached by a university student named J. Gordon Whitehead, who asks if it is true that Houdini can endure any blow to the stomach. Before Houdini is ready Whitehead strikes him several times, causing internal injuries that lead to the magician's death.
October 21
1973—Kidnappers Cut Off Getty's Ear
After holding Jean Paul Getty III for more than three months, kidnappers cut off his ear and mail it to a newspaper in Rome. Because of a postal strike it doesn't arrive until November 8. Along with the ear is a lock of hair and ransom note that says: "This is Paul’s ear. If we don’t get some money within 10 days, then the other ear will arrive. In other words, he will arrive in little bits." Getty's grandfather, billionaire oilman Jean Paul Getty, at first refused to pay the 3.2 million dollar ransom, then negotiated it down to 2.8 million, and finally agreed to pay as long as his grandson repaid the sum at 4% interest.
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