The Lowdown has the scoop on a fantastic plastic.
Today we're back to tabloids with an issue of The Lowdown published this month in 1962. The cover features Bob Hope goofing around, Elizabeth Taylor looking serious, Kim Novak nuzzling, and a random naked party girl randomly partying naked. Inside the issue are stories on Hope getting the hots for trans star Coccinelle in a French nightclub, Novak raking a series of suitors over the coals, and baseball players succumbing to greed. So much material in these tabloids, and so little time to highlight a story or two. But forced to make a choice, we're opting to discuss a piece on something called Scoobeedoo. How can we not? We all remember the cartoon, and now this story seemed guaranteed to tell us where the name of the legendary dog came from. We never knew we wanted to know that. But when we saw the word Scoobeedoo we realized, yes, we want to know.
Lowdown describes Scoobeedoo as a craze and a do-it-yourself gimmick. Apparently, it was popularized when French singer Sacha Distel wrote a 1958 song of the same name. But he didn't invent it—he just sang about it. The actual thing was invented by a French plastics company and called Scoubidou. It was basically a spool of brightly colored plastic cord that could be woven or tied to make—well, whatever you wanted. Youcould make lampshades, baskets, placemats, keychains. A California man famously used it to make bikinis. We imagine it would work for household repairs, light sexual bondage, whatever you needed it for. The stuff was as popular as the hula hoop for a while. Apparently figures in the electrical industry even complained that a shortage of wiring insulation was due to Scoubidou because it used the same type of plastic.
Readers above a certain age will already know about all this, of course, but we had no idea. We weren't around back then. And that, succinctly, is why we maintain this website—because we learn about a past we never experienced. But surprisingly Scoubidou isn't just the past. It apparently still exists. It even has a Wikipedia entry with examples of the many things you can make (but no bikinis). So this was a very informative issue of The Lowdown, all things considered. The only thing we're bummed about is that our Scoubidou research provided no actual confirmation that the cartoon dog Scooby-Doo got his name from the toy. But he had to, right? Maybe a reader has the answer to that. In the meantime we have more than twenty scans below for your enjoyment and other issues of The Lowdown you can access by clicking the magazine's keywords at bottom.
Update: a reader does have the answer. One of you always does. J. Talley wrote this:
The series was originally rejected by CBS executives, who thought the presentation artwork was too frightening for children and that the show must be the same. CBS Executive Fred Silverman was listening to Frank Sinatra's “Strangers In The Night” (with the scatted lyric “dooby-dooby-doo”) on the flight to that ill-fated meeting. After the show was rejected, a number of changes were made: the Hanna-Barbera staff decided that the dog should be the star of the series instead of the four kids, and renamed him Scooby-Doo after that Sinatra lyric. The spooky aspects of the show were toned down slightly, and the comedy aspects tuned up. The show was re-presented, accepted, and premiered as the centerpiece for CBS's 1969-1970 Saturday Morning season.
Thanks, J. That's another hole in our historical knowledge successfully filled in. Is it any surprise Sinatra was involved somehow? That guy really got around.
Who, this jerk? I just work with him.
This awesome August 1953 National Police Gazette featuring Bob Hope and Bing Crosby cut-and-pasted into baseball uniforms came from the website Ephemera Forever, which we had no idea existed until today. It’s a nice spot, and claims to have more than 22,000 rare items. The prices? Well, those are high. But you can always browse, at least. As far as the Hope/Crosby feud mentioned on the cover, different sources make claims of everything from full blown mutual hatred to the two using rumors of discord as a publicity stunt. However Hope did once reveal that Crosby never once invited him and his wife over for dinner, which seems like a pretty strong clue. See much more from Police Gazette in our tabloid index.
Sommer isn’t over quite yet.
In June we shared a Japanese poster for Elke Sommer’s 1966 comedy Boy Did I Get a Wrong Number and talked about the movie a bit. Today we have an even better Italian promo for the same film. In Italy it was succinctly retitled Un bikini per Didi, and the art is by yet another Italian talent, this time Tino Avelli, who we haven’t featured before. Another version of the poster appears below, and we’ll have more from Avelli later.
Whisper dishes dirt from Sukarno to Lollobrigida.
Whisper features a political figure on this cover from March 1964, namely Indonesian ruler Kusno Sosrodihardjo, later known as Sukarno, who we’re told was offered twenty prostitutes while visiting his country’s embassy in Copenhagen in 1961. In fact, the magazine goes on to claim that the embassy housed a brothel. Though it sounds like a typical tabloid tall tale, it’s actually true. Time magazine had written about it in its October 1963 issue, stating: A diplomat may be only a cookie pusher, but the kind of cookies pushed by Indonesia’s charge d’affaires in Copenhagen tumbled, not crumbled. Last week Danish police announced that Gustin Santawirja not only ran his country’s embassy, [snip] but was also a procurer on the side. Santawirja got into the tart tradein 1961 when Indonesia's President Sukarno showed up in Copenhagen on an unofficial visit. Amiably, he rounded up some girls for the visiting entourage. So successful was the venture that he decided to supplement his entertainment allowance by running a fulltime poule hall. “Poule” is French for “hen,” by the way, and Whisper was correct, but it was also late to the party. We give no credit for publishing what was already widely known.
The magazine moves on to the subject of sexual shenanigans at Harvard University, Carol Lynley’s divorce, Sonny Liston’s world, Roland Gilbert’s bed hopping, and George Bernard Shaw’s love child. The latter is a curious story, since Shaw had died in 1950. But the woman in question, whose name was Patricia Joudry, claimed to have conceived spiritually. In addition to Shaw apparently transmitting his seed from the netherworld, Joudry claimed he transmitted a treasure trove of written material to her, explaining, “There are eighteen full length stage plays, a dozen TV plays, two full length novels and essays. At first George and I worked out an alphabet so we could speak, but now I am a clairvoyant and clairaudient. Now I can see him and hear him.” We actually believe this story because our entire website is transmitted to us by Rodney Dangerfield.
Lastly, Whisper offers up an exposé of Gina Lollobrigida’s complicated personal life. For years she had been protesting that she was not a sex symbol (as if she’s the one who actually gets to decide that), but rather a nice girl. She tells an interesting story from her early career about Howard Hughes’ efforts to romance her, which were fruitless but led to her being stuck in a hotel “for six weeks like a prisoner.” In the end,
she fled back to Italy and, because Hughes owned her American contract, she was unable to make movies in the U.S. She became an international star just the same, acting exclusively in Europe, but having attained celebrity claimed it was difficult for her. She complained: “When I am with people I am constantly watched, and I can’t get used to this sort of thing—that they look at me as a chimpanzee in a zoo.” Sounds bad, but she eventually learned to enjoy it. In 2000 she commented to Parade magazine, “I’ve had many lovers and still have romances. I am very spoiled.” So it seems even the worst parts of celebrities’ lives aren’t really all that bad. Assorted scans below.
We don’t know art, but we know what we like.
A few of the contributors to the Goodtime Weekly Calendar of 1963 have been anonymous. This week we have another mystery photog (or perhaps the same single person who shot all the anonymous photos), and an image of an unknown model paired with a winged statuette. The anonymity of the photo dovetails with the provenance of the sculpture, which is a miniature of the Greek statue Winged Victory of Samothrace, a representation of the goddess Nike carved by an unknown artisan sometime in the second century B.C. But deities inevitably lose their power, and at some point someone looked at the goddess of victory, sneered, “Loser,” and pushed her over, rendering her armless and headless. But you’re just looking at the boobs behind the statue, aren’t you? Fair enough. So are we. Like the Greeks, we’re sensual that way.
Jan 27: “No photographer of pretty women ever completely covers the subject.”—Joe Hamilton
Jan 28: Venus of Milo: gal who used a harsh detergent!—“Stump the Stars.”
Jan 29: “Virus is a Latin word used by doctors to mean ‘your guess is as good as mine.’”—Bob Hope
Jan 30: “Beatniks Anonymous: When a ‘beat’ takes a bath, he calls up and members rush over to turn off the water.”—Irv Kupcinet
Jan 31: “I am a wonderful housekeeper. Every time I get a divorce I keep the house.”—Zsa Zsa Gabor
Feb 1: “Imagine Sinatra owning a record company. In any other country he’d be the needle.”—Bob Hope
Feb 2: “It used to be tired and run down; now it’s tired and twisted.”—He-who Who-he
Ringing in the New Year in style.
Survived another year. And so have you. So let’s open 2013 by catching up with the Goodtime Weekly Calendar. We missed two weeks while we were in Morocco, and those pages are below. Above you see the January 1 page of this great publication, which also happens to be the cover, and it features model/actress/centerfold June Wilkinson shot by film director Russ Meyer. The photo is a variation of another Wilkinson image that appears inside the calendar later in the year. The images below are credited to Ron Vogel and L.W., whoever he is. Obviously, there's a three week backlog of jokes, but by now we’ve established that most of them are not in any way amusing, so rather than transcribe the entire collection, we’ve selected what we hope are the most interesting. Enjoy.
“A pedestrian: The man who didn’t believe his wife when she said the family needed two cars.”—Cannonball Adderley
“Many a man who would never think of gambling goes out and gets married.”—Sig Sakowicz
At Christmas time, every girl likes her past forgotten and her presents remembered.
Women are like modern paintings: you’ll never enjoy them if you try to understand them.
“Better a witty fool than a foolish wit.”—William Shakespeare
“People Who throw kisses are mighty near hopelessly lazy.”—Bob Hope
“Short skirts have a tendency to make men polite. Have you ever seen a man get on a bus ahead of one?”—Mel Ferrer
Whatever it is that girl put a spell on me.
The editors of the Goodtime Weekly Calendar of 1963 have yanked themselves back from the brink. Last week their misogyny had reached an extent that made their ruminations unpublishable, but this week, suddenly, they’re back to normal—i.e. teasing but not mean-spirited. Where did the malice come from? We have no idea. Maybe some men are so used to retaining control over every aspect of their lives that the freaky power women have to make them lose their equilibrium spawns a simmering hostility. But sexual power is really the point of life, isn’t it? We act like we’re firmly anchored, but in reality we’re emotionally designed to slip our moorings the moment the right person happens along. That’s the fun of living. Lust, fear, risk, reward, failure, sex, heartbreak, love—all pieces of the same lovely puzzle. You gotta embrace it. Insults say nothing about the group we insult, and everything about us.
Well, at least Fernand Fonssagrives understood all this. He’s the creator of the image above, as well as one we uploaded in July. Way back in the 1930s his wife Lisa gave him a camera and he began shooting photos with her as his model. He eventually became the highest paid fashion photographer in New York City, while his wife became the world’s first supermodel. The model here is not Lisa Fonssagrives—she would have been in her fifties by then. There’s no model info in the Goodtime Calendar, so we’ll probably never know who posed for this shot. But she’s certainly a beauty. The session really sucked for the bear, though. The week’s observations are below.
Nov 10: “A penny for your thoughts is still about the right price.”—Bob Hope
Nov 11: “A dark corner is where some men get bright ideas.”—Freddie Flintstone
Nov 12: Gossip: What no one claims to like but everyone enjoys.
Nov 13: Women’s intuition is the ability to read between men’s lyings.
Nov 14: “Woman’s dearest delight is to wound man’s self-conceit, though man’s dearest delight is to gratify hers.”—George Bernard Shaw
Nov 15: “Love is blind, and lovers cannot see the pretty follies that themselves commit.”—William Shakespeare
Nov 16: “A friend of mine always buys from relatives: He says, ‘It’s cheaper by the cousins.’”—Paul Fogarty
Sleazy tabloid exposes the nationwide trade in even sleazier Tijuana bibles.
It’s been a while since we’ve featured Hush-Hush, but it’s one of our favorite high-end mid-century tabloids, so today we have a newly scanned issue from this month 1957. We learn that Ingrid Bergman called Ed Sullivan a liar for falsely claiming she was booked on his show, and that Phil Silvers was terrified that he would lose his fame, and that Eartha Kitt was destined to forever be lonely because she was interested only in white men. But the fun story here is the one headed: “Movie Stars Victimized By Smut, Inc.” The article is about Tijuana bibles, and the many celebs who had been unknowingly featured in them. We’ve already posted a few bibles, thus you probably already know that they’re pornographic eight-page comic booklets sold clandestinely in drug stores and soda fountains. Their makers felt free to borrow the likenesses of public figures of the day, and Hush-Hush offers up examples starring Bob Hope, Marie Wilson, Robert Mitchum and others. The article describes them as “unbelievably filthy booklets showing the basest sexual acts and perversions.” Well, true enough. Their distribution was so worrisome that the FBI got involved, and while the feds did manage to make some arrests, the flow of booklets remained pretty much uninterrupted. We can only assume that Hush-Hush’s exposé made them even more popular, which is kind of how it works with porn, right? Someone gets on their soapbox about it and people walk away thinking, Hmm, I better see one of these with my own eyes. Of course, Hush-Hush didn’t dare reprint the interior pages, but we have no such inhibitions here at Pulp Intl. See the next post, and see here.
The resurrection of Lazzaro.
So, last week we mentioned that we had found the best calendar of all time at the Denver Book Fair. Above is the first image we’re posting from it, a tinted shot of Sophia Loren’s famous nude scene in 1951’s Era lui... sì! sì!, in which she appeared as Sophia Lazzaro. By 1953 she had begun acting as Loren, leaving the Lazzaro screen name behind forever. Her nude scene was never a secret, exactly, but until the internet came along stills from Era lui appeared only in porn and scandal magazines—and, apparently, obscure calendars. So thank you world wide web for making formerly impossible-to-find nudity readily available via a mouseclick or two.
This calendar—The Goodtime Weekly Calendar of 1963, printed in the U.S. by Good Time Publishing—has a nude or pin-up image for every week of the year, and in addition, a joke, quote, or pithy saying for every day of each week. The sayings are illegibly small on our posted image, so we’ve transcribed them below. But don’t thank us until you read them. While a couple are mildly amusing, most aren’t, and one is simply incomprehensible (March 14). We hope they improve as the year continues, but if they don’t, think of them anthropologically—i.e., try to value them as artifacts of an older culture that we're going to study for whatever insights we can glean. And if that doesn’t interest you, well, you can just look at the pretty photos. We’ll post one calendar page per week, along with its text, until we run through all fifty-two.
March 10: “Sophia Loren has been awarded an Oscar for Two Women. By gosh, she certainly is.”—Bob Hope.
March 11: Figures don’t lie; that’s why an honest man believes in good sizes.
March 12: “A gossip always gives you the benefit of the dirty.”—Sam Cowling.
March 13: Anybody who still says the sky’s the limit is way behind the times.
March 14: “Tips from outer space: Tired of chimps and dogs and men—try us with a woman.”—He-who Who-he
March 15: “Life is what happens to us while we are making other plans.—Henry Cooke.
March 16: “Beauty contests didn’t start in Atlantic City or any other city; they began when the second woman arrived on Earth.”—Mitch Miller.
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1964—China Detonates Nuke
At the Lop Nur test site located between the Taklamakan and Kuruktag deserts, the People's Republic of China detonates its first nuclear weapon, codenamed 596 after the month of June 1959, which is when the program was initiated.
1996—Handgun Ban in the UK
In response to a mass shooting in Dunblane, Scotland that kills 16 children, the British Conservative government announces a law to ban all handguns, with the exception .22 caliber target pistols. When Labor takes power several months later, they extend the ban to all handguns.
Pierre Laval, who was the premier of Vichy, France, which had collaborated with the Nazis during World War II, is shot by a firing squad for treason. In subsequent years it emerges that Laval may have considered himself a patriot whose goal was to publicly submit to the Germans while doing everything possible behind the scenes to thwart them. In at least one respect he may have succeeded: fifty percent of French Jews survived the war, whereas in other territories about ninety percent perished.
1966—Black Panthers Form
In the U.S., in Oakland, California, Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale form the Black Panther political party. The Panthers are active in American politics throughout the 1960s and 1970s, but eventually legal troubles combined with a schism over the direction of the party lead to its dissolution.
1962—Cuban Missile Crisis Begins
A U-2 spy plane flight over the island of Cuba produces photographs of Soviet nuclear missiles being installed. Though American missiles have been installed near Russia, the U.S. decides that no such weapons will be tolerated in Cuba. The resultant standoff brings the U.S. and the Soviet Union to the brink of war. The crisis finally ends with a secret deal in which the U.S. removes its missiles from Turkey in exchange for the Soviets removing the Cuban weapons.
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