|Vintage Pulp||Apr 15 2018|
|Vintage Pulp||Dec 14 2017|
|Hollywoodland||Jul 5 2017|
Dearest Mommie - I'm sorry, really sorry, to put you through this but there is no way to avoid it - I love you darling you have been the most wonderful mom ever and that applies to all our family. I love each and every one of them dearly - Everything goes to you - Look in the files and there is a will which decrees everything - Good bye, my angel - Pray for me - Your baby
It wasn't unusual for press to have access to death scenes, as we've documented frequently in our Naked City posts. Landis's death photo appeared on the fronts of hundreds of newspapers by the next morning. By then questions had begun to arise. Some said Landis had written a second suicide note that Harrison destroyed. When asked at a coroner's inquest whether there was a note, he said no. Her friend Florence Wasson said there was second note, but it only asked that the cat be taken to the vet because it had a sore paw. The inquest was closed with no new findings, but years later a policeman who had been at Landis's house that day said he had seen a second note addressed to Harrison, and that the cat had seemed in perfect health.
Landis's family claimed Harrison was guilty of murder—and not just for dithering about when he thought he felt a pulse. They claim he killed her outright to keep news of his affair from damaging his career. However, his relationship with Landis was a poorly kept secretm and tabloids were making sly references to it, identifying Harrison and Landis by their initials. Also, Harrison already had a terrible reputation. People behave irrationally in high stress situations, and Harrison made bad moves at every stage, especially when one considers that there was no way he could hope to hide his involvement. But that shows merely cold-hearted concern for himself, and possibly a lack of awareness how near death Landis was. Add it all up and you have one of Hollywood's most storied suicides—one where an act meant to be a final answer left endless questions.
|Vintage Pulp||Dec 6 2016|
If you're thinking of writing a book but fear you're too late to start, take note: Florence Stonebraker published her first novel at age forty-one and went on to write more than eighty books. In 1952 alone she published eleven novels. True, her stuff was not literary fiction, but dollars are green no matter your audience, right? What's beyond doubt is that she is a well-regarded genre author and her books are collectible today. Love-Hungry Doctor came in 1953 and is exactly what it seems in the cover art by Lou Marchetti—an exploration of a shy doctor's romantic troubles, which are enlivened by the arrival of a new woman in his life. We've been doing a lot on Stonebraker lately, but it's because her books had the very best cover art of the era. Check what we mean with three more examples here, here, and here.
|Vintage Pulp||Dec 2 2016|
Above, She Tried To Be Good, by the prolific Florence Stonebraker for Venus Books, 1951. The cover is the flawless work of Rudy Nappi, whose output we've shown you before. We think this is one of the most beautiful illustrations of the mid-century era, and we suspect we're not alone in that opinion. We'll have more from Nappi a bit later.
|Vintage Pulp||Oct 20 2016|
Gary Lovisi's guide to mid-century paperback cover art Dames, Dolls and Delinquents: A Collector's Guide to Sexy Pulp Fiction attributes this cover to George Gross but many online sources say it's the work of Howell Dodd. Though the internet is incredibly useful for replicating errors, we think the onliners are right this time. While the femme fatale here has some Gross-like elements to her, she has the fiery red hair that was a Dodd trademark. We think we even know her face. Doesn't it belong to legendary red-headed actress Ann Sheridan? Yup, it's her—right down to the little bump in her classic nose. And he used her more than once, we think. A basically identical face appears in several other pieces of his. We're taking full credit for this discovery. Unless of course we're wrong, in which case we deny making any Sheridan related statements. Hey, if it works for presidential candidates it can work for us, right?
|Vintage Pulp||Dec 2 2015|
And now for some beautiful art to wipe the memory of Rope Cosmetology from our heads. Above is a George Gross cover for Nora’s No Angel by Tom Stone, aka Florence Stonebraker, aka Ted Stratton. This came from Rainbow Books and you can see that Gross has his femme fatale dressed in the same style of off-the-shoulder drawstring blouse we pointed out before. 1951 copyright.
|The Naked City||May 21 2014|
The top photo shows an LAPD policewoman named Florence Coberly, who in a dangerous undercover operation, was asked to lure a serial rapist named Joe Parra. This would require placing herself in harm’s way so police could catch him just before the act. Supported by more than thirty cops hidden in unmarked cars and stationed around the neighborhood, Coberly did exactly that, drawing the suspect, which in turn drew her backup. Parra tried to run, and photo two shows him after he was gunned down. Strangely, Coberly was later arrested for shoplifting and drummed off the police force. But that would be several years later. These shots are from 1952, a year at the end of which she would win the LAPD’s Policewoman of the Year award. These images come from the USC digital archive of mid-century Los Angeles Examiner photos.
|Hollywoodland||Dec 29 2011|
This issue of the tabloid Exposed, with cover stars Anita Ekberg, Tony Steel, Edward G. Robinson, Elvis Presley, and Elizabeth Taylor, has a rather pleasing color scheme, but the usual rumor-mongering and innuendo inside. The “true story” of Anita Ekberg’s sudden wedding to Tony Steel isn’t really all that scintillating. Steel had met Ekberg when they worked together on the British motion picture Storm Over the Nile, which was filmed in 1955 and released the last week of December. Steel was smitten from the moment he saw Ekberg. In fact, he was so in love with her that he decided to break his contract with the film production company The Rank Organisation and follow her to Hollywood. They married in the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence, Italy, on 22 May, 1956, in a civil ceremony that was open to the public (the couple had asked the city government to bar spectators from the event but the request had been denied).
The press, however were restricted to a roped area just outside, which happened to be near a famous statue of David. According to several of the reporters present, when Ekberg passed by the nude sculpture after the ceremony she glanced up at its endowment and quipped, “My! Almost as big as Frank Sinatra’s.” You just knew Sinatra was involved in this somewhere, right? It’s like there were six or seven of him wandering around during the 1950s, so often does he pop up in other people’s personal business. Anyway, that statue of David—which is a copy of Michelangelo’s original masterpiece that stands in the Galleria dell’Accademia—has an incredibly small penis proportionate to the eighteen-foot-high body. At least, it seems small to us. Ahem. But we can assume Ekberg’s comment meant just the opposite, and concerned the non-proportionate size of the organ—i.e., quite a handful, taken on its own merits.
Now, should a bride really start married life with a public comment about another man’s dick? We think not, but we’re old-fashioned that way. Ekberg and Steel jetted off to Hollywood, where both hoped to expand their film careers. For Ekberg, that’s exactly what happened. But Steel struggled, possibly because of vitriol emanating from The Rank Organisation. He did find some work, but never attained the stature hecraved. In short order, his marriage to Ekberg was in trouble, their domestic woes either exacerbated by or rooted in his career problems. Either that or he never forgave her for that Sinatra comment. We kid, of course. Steel and Ekberg had serious difficulties, but Frankie wasn't one of them. In any case, in 1959 the couple divorced, and Tony Steel was pretty much yesterday’s news. Life goes on, after all, in the tabloids and in the world.
|Femmes Fatales||Sep 15 2009|
Above, three shots of French actress Florence Guérin, aka Florence Nicholas, who starred in erotic films like La vénus noire (Black Venus) and Le declic (The Click) during the 1980s, then went on to a career in French television.