Clothes encounters of the Hollywood kind.
We've been gathering rare wardrobe and hairdresser test shots from the golden era of Hollywood, and today seems like a good day to share some of what we've found. It was standard procedure for all the main performers in a movie to pose for such photos, but the negatives that survive tend to belong to the most popular stars, such as Cary Grant, who you see at right. You'll see Marilyn Monroe more than amply represented below. What can we do? She's possibly the most photographed Hollywood figure ever, and she was beautiful in every exposure. But we've also found shots of a few lesser known stars, such as Giorgia Moll and France Nuyen.
Some of the shots are worth special note. You'll see Doris Day as a mermaid for The Glass Bottom Boat, Liz Taylor as a kid for National Velvet and an adult for Cat On a Hot Tin Roof, Farrah Fawcett in lingerie, Sheree North in both front and rear poses, and Yul Brynner looking like an actual man by sporting a body that had to that point seemingly known neither razor nor wax (he ditched the fur for his actual onscreen appearances). Usually the photos feature a chalkboard or card with pertinent information about the production and star, but not always, as in the case of Brynner's photo, and in Audrey Hepburn's and Joan Collins' cases as well. If the names of the subjects don't appear on the chalkboards you can refer to the keywords at bottom, which are listed in order. We may put together another group of these wardrobe shots later.
The magazine that whispered rape.
Inside Story of August 1957 offers up stories on Elsa Martinelli, Ann Sothern, Clark Gable and others, but the subhead reading “The Night Audrey Hepburn Can’t Forget” is irresistible. So what happened on the night in question? Nothing fun, unfortunately. Fully expecting to read about some wild party or drunken escapade, journo Gwen Ferguson instead tells us that in 1942, when Hepburn was a Dutch teen named Audrey Kathleen Ruston, she was “brutally kidnapped and subjected to terrible indignities” by a Nazi soldier. As is typical for mid-century tabloids, this claim comes not from direct interviews, but rather from a fly-on-the-wall third person account. In this case, the magazine claims she confessed what happened to prospective husband Mel Ferrer, pictured next to her below, because she wanted him to have a chance to rescind his marriage proposal. The implication is clear—“indignities” is a euphemism for rape. Or else why would Ferguson suggest Ferrer might turn tail and run?
In light of all the discussion about rape lately, it’s instructive to go back in time and read such an incendiary insinuation presented so casually in a national magazine, probably by some pseudonymous male editor, if tradition holds true. Looking for corroboration, we found only stories about Hepburn living in constant fear of being kidnapped, but that’s all. In no place we looked did we find any reference to her actually being taken, let alone violated. So we don’t know where Inside Story got its information. That being the case, we have to call bullshit. Inside Story goes on to wrap its dubious claim in the truth by telling readers how Hepburn’s uncle was executed by Nazis—true; how she gave secret ballet performances to generate funds for the Dutch resistance—true; and how she used tulip bulbs to make the flour needed for cakes and biscuits, but went through the war malnourished and underweight—true and true. As for the other claim—if untrue, it’s pretty low, and if true, it’s both low and irresponsible. Even by the standards of mid-century scandal sheets.
There are at least a few things the Swiss aren’t neutral about.
We ran across some issues of a German language magazine called Das Schweizer, which means “The Swiss,” and indeed, the publication originates from Switzerland. We thought only the French, Germans and Dutch produced magazines during the 1940s and 1950s that combined celebrity, photography, fine art, and eroticism. We stand corrected. Above is the cover of Das Schweizer #139, circa 1954, with Yvonne De Carlo, and interior pages featuring Brigitte Bardot looking especially hot, plus Joan Collins, Romy Schneider and others. You also get the great art of Paul Peter, and just for good measure we pulled a couple of scans from another Das Schweizer that had the cover and most of the photo pages cut out, but two more Peter art pieces left behind. Apparently whoever mutilated that issue didn’t see the value in his work. Hah! Philistines. Anyway, since we can’t make a decent post of that one, we added its Peters below (that just sounds wrong, doesn't it?). We can’t tell you anything about Paul Peter because his name is pretty much ungoogleable, if that’s even a word, however we’ll keep digging for facts on him and eventually something will turn up. It always does.
James Dean and his Giant shadow.
The always-wonderful Japanese celeb magazine Screen produced this issue promoting James Dean’s epic drama Giant in January 1956. The film opened the next October, which means the magazine was put together well beforehand. Advance press isn’t unusual, of course, but advance press of this detail in Japan—it didn’t premiere there until nearly a year later in December 1956—suggests just how huge a worldwide star James Dean had become. Sadly, some of that had to do with the fact that he was already dead, killed in a September 1955 automobile crash as Giant was about to wrap. But while nearly all dead celebrities are eulogized as geniuses cut down too soon, Dean is one of the few whose work has actually withstood the test of time. Screen makes room for other stars in this issue, including Audrey Hepburn, who we've posted in panel two. On another note, we’ve shared quite a bit from Screen over the last two years, but if you missed those entries you can see some great covers here, here and here, and see a bit of what's inside here and here.
Audrey Hepburn demonstrates the first extreme makeover.
We could hardly claim to be the go-to site for vintage tabloids if we didn’t include the National Enquirer. This actually isn’t a stretch, because the Enquirer first began publishing during the heyday of vintage tabs in the early fifties, and had published under another name for decades before that. The Enquirer’s paper stock was cheap, its printing low rent, and its use of color rare to non-existent, but the formula worked. Where the expensive tabs dazzled with their kaleidoscopes of color, the Enquirer offered single ideas paired with large, bold images. The formula set the paper apart, and it is the only vintage tabloid that survives today. This issue, with Belgian-born superstar Audrey Hepburn, was published March 3, 1963.
Crazy legs Peck gets a lower body transplant.
As long as we’re on the subject of Stanley Donen, here are two one-sheets for his 1966 caper Arabesque, starring Gregory Peck and the great Sophia Loren. Donen was trying to capture the mod magic of his earlier feature Charade, which had starred Audrey Hepburn and Cary Grant. We can’t say he fully succeeded there, but he did make an adventure romance full of joie de vivre that’s well worth seeing. The two posters differ in one fascinating aspect—Gregory Peck’s lower body has been transplanted in the bottom version. We know the dancing pose at top was the original, but we think the upright stance in the re-do is an improvement, as is the cool magenta background. It’s killer art for a killer flick, and we recommend you check it out.
Two for the Road is one of Audrey Hepburn’s lesser-known films, but it also may be her best.
Director Stanley Donen’s third collaboration with Audrey Hepburn after the hits Funny Face and Charade is not quite as breezy as those previous efforts, but it’s still a stellar effort. Basically, Two for the Road is an elliptical recounting of a difficult marriage, with the action set during different road trips across France taken at different times of life. Here you get a more mature Hepburn, playing a meatier role, derived from an excellent script by Frederic Raphael, aided by the great direction of Donen and a memorable musical score from Henry Mancini. You also get très groovy Japanese promo art printed for the premier in Tokyo forty-two years ago today. Available on dvd only since late 2005, Two for the Road is lesser known Hepburn, but we think in time it will be considered her best work. Highly recommended.
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1957—Ginsberg Poem Seized by Customs
On the basis of alleged obscenity, United States Customs officials seize 520 copies of Allen Ginsberg's poem "Howl" that had been shipped from a London printer. The poem contained mention of illegal drugs and explicitly referred to sexual practices. A subsequent obscenity trial was brought against Lawrence Ferlinghetti, who ran City Lights Bookstore, the poem's domestic publisher. Nine literary experts testified on the poem's behalf, and Ferlinghetti won the case when a judge decided that the poem was of redeeming social importance.
1975—King Faisal Is Assassinated
King Faisal of Saudi Arabia dies after his nephew Prince Faisal Ibu Musaed shoots him during a royal audience. As King Faisal bent forward to kiss his nephew the Prince pulled out a pistol and shot him under the chin and through the ear. King Faisal died in the hospital after surgery. The prince is later beheaded in the public square in Riyadh.
1981—Ronnie Biggs Rescued After Kidnapping
Fugitive thief Ronnie Biggs, a British citizen who was a member of the gang that pulled off the Great Train Robbery, is rescued by police in Barbados after being kidnapped. Biggs had been abducted a week earlier from a bar in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil by members of a British security firm. Upon release he was returned to Brazil and continued to be a fugitive from British justice.
2011—Elizabeth Taylor Dies
American actress Elizabeth Taylor, whose career began at age 12 when she starred in National Velvet
, and who would eventually be nominated for five Academy Awards as best actress and win for Butterfield 8
and Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
of congestive heart failure in Los Angeles. During her life she had been hospitalized more than 70 times.
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