This is the best Laff you'll have all day.
We've posted three issues of Laff magazine over the years, and we return to that publication today with an example from this month in 1946 featuring starlets, showgirls, and burlesque dancers of the highest order. You get Jane Russell, Adele Mara, Vera Ellen, and Myrna Dell, amongst others, but the winner in these pages is Acquanetta, aka the Venezuelan Volcano, who gets a striking tropical themed centerfold photo. In addition, you get a bit of sports coverage—specifically baseball, which is appropriate with the MLB playoffs starting tonight—as well as numerous cartoons.
These cartoons—the laffs in Laff magazine—tend to be sexist by today's standards, but then so is this entire website, really, which is an unavoidable side effect of focusing on vintage fiction, art, and photography. We hope the historical significance of the material overshadows all else. In any case, we included the cartoons despite their mostly lame humor, due to the fact that they're high quality illustrations well worth seeing. All that and more appears here in forty-plus scans and zooms, and you can see the other issues of Laff by clicking its keywords below.
French Polynesia gets whitewashed by tropical storm Hollywood.
This poster was made to promote the mostly forgotten b-picture Call of the South Seas, one of those Westerners-in-paradise flicks so popular during the mid-century period. The set-up here is simple: a roguish adventurer fetches up on a Pacific island looking for work. He takes a job at an exporting firm, but finds that his employers are paying the local Polynesians a pittance of the fortune being earned. The movie stars Janet Martin as Tahia, who's local but whose mother was French, grandmother was French, and great grandmother was French, a line of dilution strong enough to ensure that she possesses the needed racial purity to serve as love interest to co-star Allan Lane. While her blood has been whitewashed, her linguistics have not, leading to her delivering hilarious lines like, “I come because I very angry and if I don't let it out I burn all up inside.” The filmmakers had a grand old time making this movie, and the end result, clumsy though it may be, is non-malicious. It also has Adele Mara in a small part, and as a bonus she's wearing this. Call of the South Seas premiered in the U.S. today in 1944.
If you think it looks funny in a photo you she should see when I walk into a restaurant this way.
Above, hottie Adele Mara strikes some limber poses in two promos from the Republic Pictures b-feature Call of the South Seas. She plays a Polynesian dancer named Aritana, which must mean “lily white” in her language. But of course, in 1944 when the film was released, dark skinned performers were rarely part of Hollywood calculus. Mara loses points for authenticity, but the shots are still amazing.
Even if she could fit in the slot she’d be returned due to lack of postage.
This nice shot shows American actress Adele Mara, née Adelaide Delgado, who got into show business when she was discovered in her early teens by bandleader Xavier Cugat, and performed with his orchestra as a singer and dancer. From there she naturally pursued roles in film and had a long career on the screen, appearing in such productions as Traffic in Crime, Passkey to Danger, Blackmail, and I, Jane Doe. This image is probably from around 1950.
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1947—Edwin Land Unveils His New Camera
In New York City, scientist and inventor Edwin Land demonstrates the first instant camera, the Polaroid Land Camera, at a meeting of the Optical Society of America. The camera, which contains a special film that self-develops prints in a minute, goes on sale the next year to the public and is an immediate sensation.
1965—Malcolm X Is Assassinated
American minister and human rights activist Malcolm X is assassinated at the Audubon Ballroom in New York City by members of the Nation of Islam, who shotgun him in the chest and then shoot him sixteen additional times with handguns. Though three men are eventually convicted of the killing, two have always maintained their innocence, and all have since been paroled.
1935—Caroline Mikkelsen Reaches Antarctica
Norwegian explorer Caroline Mikkelsen, accompanying her husband Captain Klarius Mikkelsen on a maritime expedition, makes landfall at Vestfold Hills and becomes the first woman to set foot in Antarctica. Today, a mountain overlooking the southern extremity of Prydz Bay is named for her.
1972—Walter Winchell Dies
American newspaper and radio commentator Walter Winchell, who invented the gossip column while working at the New York Evening Graphic, dies of cancer. In his heyday from 1930 to the 1950s, his newspaper column was syndicated in over 2,000 newspapers worldwide, he was read by 50 million people a day, and his Sunday night radio broadcast was heard by another 20 million people.
1976—Gerald Ford Rescinds Executive Order 9066
U.S. President Gerald R. Ford signs Proclamation 4417, which belatedly rescinds Executive Order 9066. That Order, signed in 1942 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, established "War Relocation Camps" for Japanese-American citizens living in the U.S. Eventually, 120,000 are locked up without evidence, due process, or the possibility of appeal, for the duration of World War II.
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