Warning: some spectators may experience shortness of breath.
Above: beautiful dancer Misty Ayers performs in a production photo made for the 1953 burlesque movie A Night in Hollywood, which also starred Tempest Storm, Jeanne Saunders, and others. This is a return engagement for Ayers on Pulp Intl. See her first stint here, and if you want to see her routine from the film, check here while the link lasts.
In show business the camera never sleeps.
Night and Day, for which you see the cover of an issue—its very first issue, actually—that was published this month in 1948, billed itself as America's Picture Magazine of Entertainment. It was launched in New York City by Alho Publishing, and as you'll see it came out of the gate swinging for the fences with its visual content, from its bisected cover featuring burlesque dancer Lili St. Cyr and actress Ramsey Ames, to its tongue-in-cheek feature on the twenty-seven types of kisses, to its approving look at George White's Scandals revue at Hollywood's Florentine Gardens. Interesting side note on Scandals—Wikipedia says it ended in 1939. Well, obviously not quite. Elsewhere Night and Day touches on college hazing, professional football, and the Greenwich Village art scene. In total, it's a gold mine for vintage photos.
Our favorite offering in the magazine is its quiz on Hollywood stars and their stand-ins. You just have to take a good look at twenty performers, and try to determine which twenty random people are their stand-ins. To score well on such a quiz you'd have to be either the biggest Hollywood head in history or someone who has the opposite of face blindness, whatever that would be. Face unforgettability, maybe. Even though we don't expect many people to try the quiz, we worked hard to put it into internet-usable form. In the magazine the photos were five-across on the page, which made them too small for the column width of our website. So we rearranged them to be two-across, and thus enlarged, they're clear, though you have to do a lot of scrolling. Nevertheless, it's there if you want, along with fifty other panels to eat your time with marvelous efficiency. Please enjoy.
The Hollywood movie star stand-in quiz begins below. First you get twenty famous actors and actresses:
And below are their twenty stand-ins. If you get more than half of these right you're a human face recognition algorithm. Quit your day job immediately and report to the FBI.
Below are the answers.
Fresh from the factory.
The 1964-1965 New York World's Fair brought eighty nations, almost fifty corporations, and a hundred restaurants together to occupy one hundred and forty pavilions built across more than six hundred acres in the borough of Queens. To say that sounds fun is an understatement. We'd love to have been there, especially to see the New York City of that era, but nobody has invented a time machine yet. If we could have gone to the Fair, though, we'd have made sure to run across U.S. actress, model, and singer Joi Lansing, above, who made a publicity appearance as the Queen of Candy outside the Chunky Candy Pavilion.
By the fall of 1964, which is when she posed for the photo, she was a longtime celebrity who had never quite made it big. That's easy to guess, because a big star wouldn't have been slogging through New York's autumn rain trying drum up publicity for herself and a candy brand. Lansing had started in movies in 1947 when she was eighteen, and bounced between cinema and television, with many stops in the pages of tabloids. She never quite became a movie star, but she did forge a major television presence, and was eventually honored for her contributions to that medium by receiving a star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame.
We find her interesting because she had an unconventional sort of beauty, and she seems to pop up all the time in the materials we accumulate. Sadly, she died of cancer in 1972 when she was only forty-three. We have a fair amount of material on her in the website, including some interesting bikini shots here made when she was thirty-seven but looking twenty-five, an interesting paperback cover she appeared on here, a movie poster for one of her starring roles here, and a brilliant promo image showing her at her very best here.
She's a love and let love type of girl.
Above: a cover for Love Life of a Hollywood Mistress by Florence Stonebraker, 1950. The artist is uncredited. There's interior imagery in the form of photos of models posing scenes from the story, and as usual when these digests contain such pages, they're difficult to scan without destroying the book. Besides the front, we were able to scan the inside of the front cover and five of the fourteen interior photos. Stonebraker tells the story of Wanda Russell, who one fateful night tries to resist being forcibly taken by a date and accidentally pushes him out a high window to his death. Good on her, but remember, these were the days when a single woman in a man's hotel room could not have claimed self defense, so Wanda goes on the run.
She can't hide without help, so she turns to her acquaintance Chet, who, when he finds out Wanda is a virgin, decides he can make a fortune by pimping her out to a rich acquaintance. Yeah, it's a little flimsy as a method for cop avoidance goes, but this is mid-century sleaze, so you follow where the author leads. Wanda is to become mistress to Shelby Stevens, big time romantic actor, who would love to have a virgin. But wanting to thwart these creepy men in the one way she can, she gives her virginity to her friend Danny, who has always loved her. Danny is crushed when she leaves him and goes to live in Shelby Stevens' beach house for the summer. These triangles are, you know by now, the rocket fuel that powers digest romances.
So Wanda lives with Stevens, but Stevens turns out to be a rat, and Wanda decides to flee. Stevens won't let her go, but Danny, who has sat by in silent suffering as Wanda has been used as a plaything, shows up to beat Stevens within an inch of his life. He doesn't do it because of Wanda. He does it because it turns out his younger sister Thelma had been an earlier plaything for Stevens, and had ended up dead. In one fell swoop Danny gets revenge for his sister, sort of, and rescues his true love Wanda. Oh, and Chet the pimp ends up dead, shot by his girlfriend Bertie, who considers Wanda a rival. We won't even go into all that. And the guy Wanda pushed out a window? That's never truly resolved.
Stonebraker churned out a lot of these books, some under the names Florenz Branch and Thomas Stone. Thirteen were published in 1950 alone. She would eventually write more than eighty, and she didn't even start until she was forty-one. All of which is to say Love Life of a Hollywood Mistress feels rushed, with its pat ending and central concept that barely hangs together. But Stonebraker, despite her full work schedule, has done well in other tales, so she can have a mulligan on this one as far as we're concerned. After all, she's a sleaze and romance author—expectations need to be kept in check. We have a couple more of her novels lined up, and we'll see how she does.
So explain to me again exactly what my duties are as dolly grip.
Above: a photo cover for Leo Guild's 1969 sleaze novel The Studio. The rear tells you most of what you need to know, except that the book is written from the first person viewpoint of none other than—Leo Guild. Ego much, Leo? He takes on the guise of a journalist who becomes the publicity agent for Toni Tremont, described as a Hollywood bitch. He's the latest in a long line of agents to represent her. The fiction is really just a guise for Guild to promote his personal brand while claiming to tear back the curtain from the “real” Hollywood, something at least a hundred authors did before him.
Guild has a reputation for being one of the worst authors ever—he once wrote a novel in which a werewolf and a vampire become television stars, and he churned out such books as Black Bait, Black Champion, The Black Shrink, The Girl Who Loved Black, Black Streets of Oakland, and Street of Ho's [sic]. In other words, he was a consummate opportunist and trendjumper. He found his most lucrative subject matter in lurid biographies, but also wrote a joke book, a book about gambling systems, and a tie-in to the television show What Are the Odds? The man was one of a kind. Thankfully.
Alan Ladd plays white knight in India.
Above: a really nice paperback cover featuring U.S. actor Alan Ladd, made for the novelization of his 1946 film noir Calcutta. If a Hollywood movie is set in any warm foreign land you can count on the white suit making an appearance. Ladd certainly looks nice in his. Sadly, with only the front cover scanned, no author listed, and the internet absolutely packed with Calcutta references, there's no chance to find out who wrote this unless we were to recognize the publisher's logo—which we don't. We generally don't share covers without complete information, but this cool item? We made an exception. Eventually someone will sell a copy of it and we'll update this post with author and publisher info. Until then, if you're interested in our musings about the film Calcutta, you can find those here.
Update: Well, we are amazed and pleased. Thirty minutes? That's the fastest ever, thanks to Rhea. She even found it on Ebay for us. The author here is Alex Morrison, the publisher is London based Hollywood Publications Limited (what is that WFP logo on the cover?—no idea), and it came out in 1947. The movie premiered in England in 1946, and novelizations usually coincide, but because the premiere was 20 December, the book can carry a 1947 copyright and still have been more or less simultaneously relesased with the film. Should we buy it? We're very tempted.
Bringing joy to the world through burlesque.
In choosing a femme fatale for today we wanted to reinforce an idea we constantly discuss—that pulp fiction and film noir protagonists are often motivated by sex. Due to censorship, writers and directors of the era had to be subtle about the connection, but it's obvious. The lead characters of gritty crime tales were nearly always men of the world, which is to say they'd had sex before. So when a femme fatale drove or enticed them to robbery/murder/extortion/et al, it wasn't because she was beautiful, but special. And she wasn't just someone willing to have sex, but someone who gave even experienced men pleasures they'd never imagined. That's the subtext of numerous pulp novels, as well as scores of mid-century films, and it's something we try to hit upon with our femmes fatales, who sometimes lay that subtext bare by being bare themselves. To exemplify what we mean, we wanted someone very tempting, which is why we chose Misty Ayers, who was one of many burlesque dancers embodying sexual allure during the mid-century era. The art of burlesque features in many of the books we've talked about—in fact a couple of our very favorites—so the link to pulp is perfect. Ayers is seen here keeping fit, and below, preparing to make a meal to keep that body of hers functioning at top efficiency. She was pretty well known in her day. She appeared in the 1953 burlesque documentary A Night in Hollywood, played herself in the 1954 films Tijuana After Midnite and Striptease Goddess, and later scored an acting role in the 1965 film Bad Girls Do Cry, which we'll circle back to later. We don't have a copyright date on these photos, but figure they're from the zenith of her fame—circa 1953.
Bonus material: two of the greatest burlesque dancers you never heard of here and here.
As far as I'm concerned whoever let the cops in should pay all our legal fees.
On this day in 1949, during the wee small hours of the morning, Robert Mitchum, Lila Leeds, Robin Ford, and Vickie Evans were hanging in a secluded Hollywood Hills home smoking a little mota when there was a scratch at the door. The house was the residence of Leeds and Evans, and it had become a spot where people, including Hollywood showbiz types, occasionally partook of the Devil's weed. By some accounts entry could be gained only via a secret knock, which—actually this is pretty clever—was to scratch at the front door like a cat. Since police had been tipped to the house's possible purpose, we can assume they too scratched at the door. We like to think they meowed too, but that probably didn't happen.
Anyway, Evans answered the door, and to her shock and dismay, in barged the police. Evans, Leeds, Mitchum, and Ford were corralled and escorted to the police station—and right into the cameras of the waiting press. The quartet are seen above with their legal representatives. Below, Mitchum, Leeds, and Ford are facing the camera, while Evans is facing away. Mitchum actually thought his career was ruined, but after being convicted of conspiracy to possess marijuana and serving sixty days in jail he continued as a top rank star. The up and coming Leeds, on the other hand, really was ruined by her conviction—at least according to her. Ford, who was a realtor, was also convicted, but we have no idea what happened to him afterward. Only aspiring dancer Evans was acquitted.
Subway commuters now running to work after latest round of NYC budget cuts eliminates trains.
Andrew L. Stone may be unique in the realm of vintage literature. His 1958 thriller Cry Terror is a novelization of the film of the same name, which he wrote, directed, and co-produced. Cry Terror wasn't the first time Stone wore multiple hats. Two years earlier he had written and directed the thriller Julie, and written the novelization too. The screenplay earned him an Academy Award nomination. He racked up thirty-seven directorial credits during his career, and among his output was Stormy Weather, The Hard-Boiled Canary, Highway 301, Confidence Girl, and A Blueprint for Murder. He ended up with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Another reason we wanted to highlight Cry Terror today is because of the excellent cover art by Robert Maguire. It was modeled after a promo shot from the film of lead actress Inger Stevens. You see that below. We were thinking about buying the book, but digging up all this info has revealed the entire plot to us, so we won't bother. Also, the copies that are currently out there are going for fifty dollars and up. As we mentioned before, we don't go that high for anything we'd be tempted to swat flies with. Plus we have a ton of books piled up. We may watch the movie, though. Less time, less expense. If we do we'll report back.
I always knew my movie career would end one day. But I thought it would at least start first.
Having spent some years in L.A., and having worked in entertainment there, we're drawn to Hollywood novels. Horace McCoy's I Should Have Stayed Home tells the story of Ralph Carston, twenty-something hot shit from Georgia, who heads out to Hell A. and learns that stardom is not easily achieved. This is a simple and unlayered tale, and considering what we know firsthand can happen in Hollywood, Ralph doesn't actually go through anything earth-shattering. Most of his problems stem from the fact that he's a pompous dumbass. He tries unsuccessfully to make connections, hooks up with a rich cougar who has a sexual fetish, goes to some parties, is warned he can't be a star with his southern accent, spends a few chapters infuriated by an interracial couple he sees at someone's house, battles professional envy, has a bit of strife with his roomie Mona, and deals with tragedy concerning his friend Dorothy. By the end he's grown terminally discouraged and cynical in a town that runs on hope. Dare we say it? He should have stayed home.
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1937—The Hobbit is Published
J. R. R. Tolkien publishes his seminal fantasy novel The Hobbit, aka The Hobbit: There and Back Again. Marketed as a children's book, it is a hit with adults as well, and sells millions of copies, is translated into multiple languages, and spawns the sequel trilogy The Lord of Rings.
1946—Cannes Launches Film Festival
The first Cannes Film Festival is held in 1946, in the old Casino of Cannes, financed by the French Foreign Affairs Ministry and the City of Cannes.
1934—Arrest Made in Lindbergh Baby Case
Bruno Hauptmann is arrested for the kidnap and murder of Charles Lindbergh Jr., son of the famous American aviator. The infant child had been abducted from the Lindbergh home in March 1932, and found decomposed two months later in the woods nearby. He had suffered a fatal skull fracture. Hauptmann was tried, convicted, sentenced to death, and finally executed by electric chair in April 1936. He proclaimed his innocence to the end
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