She barely stomached Hollywood.
Adele Jergens, who appeared in I Love Trouble, The Corpse Came C.O.D., The Dark Path, and numerous other films, got her start in show business, like so many actresses of her era, when she won the a beauty contest—Miss World's Fairest, at the 1939 New York World's Fair. Later, as one of the famed Rockettes dancing troupe, she was named the number one showgirl in New York City. This led to her serving as understudy to burlesque dancer Gypsy Rose Lee in the Broadway production Star and Garter, and from there Jergens never looked back. That's probably why she forgot half of her sweater. This fun image of her with bare midriff was made in Los Angeles in 1946, by the pool at the famed Town House Hotel, a locale we've talked about more than once. Find out why by clicking its keywords below and scrolling through those posts, and you can do the same with Jergens if you want to see what else we've posted about her.
Okay, class, now let's see if you think math is boring.
This photo shows U.S. actress Janis Paige wearing a swimsuit covered with lightning bolts, which we can only assume was made by someone who forgot that water and lightning can be a lethal mix. Paige also has a nifty lightning bolt pointer which she's using to highlight equations having to do with gamma rays. We doubt they're legit, but what actually was legit is Paige's career. It spanned six decades and included several notable films, but her star shone brightest on Broadway, where she was a huge hit in Remains To Be Seen, The Pajama Game, and other extravaganzas. We don't have a date on this photo, but figure around 1950. See another here.
Nobody ever said finding the right balance in life was easy.
Above is a striking image of German-born Norwegian ballerina and actress Vera Zorina holding a very difficult pose. We know it's difficult because when we tried it we smashed a coffee table and crippled a cat. Just kidding. The table turned out to be fine. Zorina was born Eva Hartwig, a name that probably sounds beautiful to the German ear, but when she went to the U.S. most people she introduced herself to probably went, “You've a heart what?” So she changed her name to something more mellifluous and proceeded to showcase her dance skills throughout the ’40s, ’50s, and ’60s in eight films and seven Broadway productions, some choreographed by her husband, the legendary George Balanchine. This photo was shot at their home in Beverly Hills in 1941.
Hello—I'll be your fashionably dressed assailant today.
U.S. actress Julie Haydon, née Donatella Donaldson, gives the camera a steely-eyed look in this promo for her film Come On, Danger, in which she played a suspected murderess. Her film credits are extensive, with most of them accrued during the 1930s, and she also starred in quite a few Broadway productions, with most of those coming during the ’40s. This stylish photo of her dates from 1932.
She was the original funny girl but her life was not all laughs.
U.S. born Fanny Brice, née Fania Borach, was a theater, radio, and film actress mainly remembered today as the creator and star of the radio comedy series The Baby Snooks Show. For a time she was one of the most popular performers in America. What makes Brice pulp worthy? She fell in love with her second husband Nicky Arnstein while he was serving time in Sing Sing prison for wiretapping. After his release she lived with him for six years before finally marrying him in 1919. In 1924 Arnstein was charged in connection with a Wall Street bond theft, and Brice used much of her wealth on a failed legal defense that ended with him going to Leavenworth Prison. After he got out three years later he disappeared and left Brice to care for their two children. A decade after Brice died in 1951 Barbra Streisand portrayed her in the Broadway musical Funny Girl, later adapted to cinema. Both the musical and movie play Brice life events a bit lighter than they must have been in reality, but both were huge hits and brought Brice's name back into the mainstream—right where she would have wanted it. The racy photo you see here is from around 1915.
Yes, I’d like to order a pair of curtains, immediately please.
The French had a wide array of nudie—er, we mean, art—magazines during the mid-century period, including Paris-Hollywood and Folies de Paris et de Hollywood, which are the two we’ve focused on up to now. Regal was another popular publication—digest sized, light on text, and put together by Éditions Extentia, an outfit based out of 38 Rue du Monte-Thabor in Paris that also published Sensations, Chi-Chis, Paris-Broadway, and Paris-Tabou. It was a far-flung enterprise, even distributing issues in distant French Indochina via the loftily named Société Franco-Asiatique located in Saigon. Or if one preferred, issues could be obtained direct from France through the use of “envoi discret,” or discreet shipping, by which we expect they mean in a plain brown wrapper. This issue of Regal, with its voyeur themed cover photo suggesting a woman spied through an open window, was published in 1952. We have twenty-five scans below.
She may not be a champion of the ring, but she’s a winner just the same.
This photo of Elsie Connor looked to us as if it had been Photoshopped in a very interesting way but it wasn’t—we found a version on Getty Images and it was identical to what you see above. The image and the fact that she’s identified as an Irish boxing champion on various websites made us curious about her career, but after a bit of digging we discovered that she was actually a dancer and chorus girl, and appeared in the 1930 musical Earl Carroll's Sketch Book, the 1929 shows Fioretta and Earl Carroll’s Vanities, and the 1928 production Here’s Howe. That’s a pretty short career, and one that lacked any starring roles, but thanks to the internet she’s famous again, looking like a real world beater. The only thing is, we doubt she was ever a boxer. We can’t be 100% sure, but with no evidence that she ever stepped into a ring, as well as a very clear understanding of how often the world wide web is world wide wrong, we suspect this is just a very, er, striking publicity photo. It dates from 1931.
Who can take a tragedy and make it a success? The Candyman can.
A world-weary Sammy Davis, Jr. appears here in a photo shot by Peter Basch in the back of a Chicago limousine. Davis was about to go to New York to star on Broadway in Clifford Odets and William Gibson’s Golden Boy, a musical involving a boxer’s turbulent career, doomed interracial romance, and eventual suicide. Not exactly an uplifting night out, yet the show ran for 569 performances and the cast album cracked the Top 40. That’s called star power, and Davis, who was already huge in Hollywood and the music industry, had it to spare. The photo dates from 1964.
Are you serious? You call that thing a nose?
Comedian W.C. Fields, née William Claude Dukenfield, jokes around with chorus girls Helen Ellsworth, Helene Sheldon, Cricket Wooten, and Margy Martyn during a rehearsal for Florenz Ziegfeld’s Ziegfeld Follies revues. Fields was a Follies cast member off and on from 1915 until 1925. He was known from the beginning of his career for having a large nose, and it reddened and grew over time due to rosacea and rhinophyma. This shot is from today, 1925.
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1924—Hoover Becomes FBI Director
In the U.S., J. Edgar Hoover is appointed director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, a position he retains until his death in 1972. Hoover is credited with building the FBI into a large and efficient crime-fighting agency, and with instituting a number of modern innovations to police technology, such as a centralized fingerprint file and forensic laboratories. But he also used the agency to grind a number of personal axes and far exceeded its legal mandate to amass secret files on political and civil rights leaders. Because of his abuses, FBI directors are now limited to 10-year terms.
1977—Joan Crawford Dies
American actress Joan Crawford, who began her show business career as a dancer in traveling theatrical companies, but soon became one of Hollywood's most prominent movie stars and one of the highest paid women in the United States, dies of a heart attack at her New York City apartment while ill with pancreatic cancer.
1949—Rainier Becomes Prince of Monaco
In Monaco, upon upon the death of Prince Louis II, twenty-six year old Rainier Louis Henri Maxence Bertrand Grimaldi, aka Rainier III, is crowned Prince of Monaco. Rainier later becomes an international household name by marrying American cinema sweetheart Grace Kelly in 1956.
1950—Dianetics is Published
After having told a gathering of science fiction writers two years earlier that the best way to become a millionaire was to start a new religion, American author L. Ron Hubbard publishes Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health. The book is today one of the canonical texts of Scientology, referred to as "Book One", and its publication date serves as the first day of the Scientology calendar, making today the beginning of year 52 AD (After Dianetics).
1985—Theodore Sturgeon Dies
American science fiction and pulp writer Theodore Sturgeon, who pioneered a technique known as rhythmic prose, in which his text would drop into a standard poetic meter, dies from lung fibrosis, which may have been caused by his smoking, but also might have been caused by his exposure to asbestos during his years as a Merchant Marine.
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