It's impossible to be on the fence about Elke.
If you watch an Elke Sommer movie you notice immediately how athletic she looks. It was a trademark, and it made her unlike most of her mid-century peers. In fact, in the film Deadlier Than the Male her co-star Richard Johnson specifically disparages her body, opining, “Well, it's not bad. A little bit muscular perhaps, but then you've got to expect that with the violent sort of exercise you undertake.” Sommer was ahead of her time, that's all. Check here and here to see for yourself. This shot of her is from 1959 and appeared in the West German magazine Smart.
Elke escapes the East and probably wished she could have escaped the movie.
Even after seeing hundreds of photos of German goddess Elke Sommer over the years, ocasionally you see come across some and have to hit pause. She appeared on the cover and inside the American magazine Escapade in January 1968, posing for a set of photos taken from her comedy The Wicked Dreams of Paula Schultz, which had premiered in New York City on January 3rd. Sommer plays an East German decathlete who wants to escape to the west, and does so by pole vaulting over the Berlin Wall, which is what the images below depict. Why is she in her underwear? We've seen the movie but we don't remember. We do know it featured Hogan's Heroes cast members Bob Crane, Werner Klemperer, John Banner, and Leon Askin, and that it uses the Hogan's formula, replacing improbably bumbling Nazis with improbably bumbling communists. But before you add this one to your queue, here's something else we recall—it was terrible.
Aussie publisher spices up thriller with an image of Elke Sommer.
Last week we shared some images of Elke Sommer from the debut issue of the French magazine Stop. Those were a deliberate preface to today's post, which shows the cover for Carter Brown’s, aka Alan G. Yates’ mystery Death of a Doll from Australia's Transport Publishing, the paperback division of Horwitz Publications.
You can see that the designer used Sommer for his inspiration. Her normally blonde hair was changed to match the hair color of the story’s redheaded femme fatale, but what’s really interesting about this cover is the yawning pose. At least a couple of images from the Stop layout would have worked better, we think, but that’s just our humble opinion.
At first we thought the designer here was Bernard Blackburn, who made many of Horwitz-Transport’s photo-illustrated covers during the mid-1950s, but then we learned that this “reprint by demand” edition appeared in 1960. So we have no idea who created the cover, but he/she had good taste in models, though we seriously doubt Sommer received any compensation for her starring role. Check out the rest of those rare Stop images here and see if you don’t agree about the designer making a weird choice.
The brightest light in Hollywood.
Elke Sommer speeds through Hollywood during the late hours in this promotional photo from a 1963 issue of the French magazine Stop. She was famous at this point, having appeared in films in Europe, but she wasn’t yet the global icon she would become. In less than a year the hit comedy A Shot in the Dark would make her one of Hollywood’s biggest stars.
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.
It isn’t the fastest way to travel but the scenery sure is pretty.
Well, that was fun. Berlin is an interesting city, dynamic, hectic and ultramodern, but also much greener than we expected. Certainly a recommendable destination, though we did encounter an €8 glass of white wine, which makes us happy to be back where the same pour costs exactly eight times less. We’re a bit tired today, so we’re just going to do a couple of brief shares, just so you know we’re still alive. Above is the cover from the West German celeb magazine Gondel (Gondola) featuring Elisa Mainardi. Inside you get shots of Teresa Velasquez, Lisa Gastoni and more, and on the rear cover you get goddess Elke Sommer. Most of the shots are unimaginative portraits that don’t do the subjects justice, but the images are rare, which makes them worth sharing. You can see more Gondel covers here. This issue came out in 1964.
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1944—Velez Commits Suicide
Mexican actress Lupe Velez, who was considered one of the great beauties
of her day, commits suicide by taking an overdose of sleeping pills. In her note, Velez says she did it to avoid bringing shame on her unborn child by giving birth to him out of wedlock, but many Hollywood historians believe bipolar disorder was the actual cause. The event inspired a 1965 Andy Warhol film entitled Lupe
1958—Gordo the Monkey Lost After Space Flight
After a fifteen minute flight into space on a Jupiter AM-13 rocket, a monkey named Gordo splashes down in the South Pacific but is lost after his capsule sinks. The incident sparks angry protests from the American Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, but NASA says animals are needed for such tests.
1968—Tallulah Bankhead Dies
American actress, talk show host, and party girl
Tallulah Bankhead, who was fond of turning cartwheels in a dress without underwear and once made an entrance to a party without a stitch of clothing on, dies in St. Luke's Hospital in New York City of double pneumonia complicated by emphysema.
1962—Canada Has Last Execution
The last executions in Canada occur when Arthur Lucas and Ronald Turpin, both of whom are Americans who had been extradited north after committing separate murders in Canada, are hanged at Don Jail in Toronto. When Turpin is told that he and Lucas will probably be the last people hanged in Canada, he replies, “Some consolation.”
1964—Guevara Speaks at U.N.
Ernesto "Che" Guevara, representing the nation of Cuba, speaks at the 19th General Assembly of the United Nations in New York City. His speech calls for wholesale changes in policies between rich nations and poor ones, as well as five demands of the United States, none of which are met.
2008—Legendary Pin-Up Bettie Page Dies
After suffering a heart attack several days before, erotic model Bettie Page, who in the 1950s became known as the Queen of Pin-ups, dies when she is removed from life support machinery. Thanks to the unique style she displayed in thousands of photos
and film loops, Page is considered one of the most influential beauties who ever lived.
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