Somebody up there liked him 67 times. And didn't like him 10 times.
These Italian promo posters were made for the drama Lassù qualcuno mi ama, better known as Somebody Up There Likes Me, the rags to riches biopic of boxer Rocky Graziano, who survived a violent father, street gangs and prison to become a world middleweight champion who finished his career with a 67-10 record. If somebody up there liked him, we'd love to hear why he got his ass whipped ten times, but whatever. Paul Newman played the lead in this after intended star James Dean was killed in an auto accident, and the film went on to earn acclaim and win a couple of Oscars for cinematography and art direction. The posters were painted by Renato Casaro, one of the most important mid-century film artists, a man who produced hundreds of masterpieces and was behind this gem and this racy little number. Casaro is still around at age eighty-one and maintains a website detailing his work and career. Lassù qualcuno mi ama was originally released in the U.S. in 1956 and had its premiere in Italy today in 1957
New tabloid explodes onto the gossip scene.
When we describe Dynamite as a new tabloid, it's only partly true. It was a new imprint. But its publisher, the Modern Living Council of Connecticut, Inc., was headquartered at the Charlton Building in Derby, Connecticut, which is where Top Secret and Hush-Hush based operations. When you see that Dynamite carried the same cover font as Top Secret and Hush-Hush, and that those two magazines advertised in Dynamite, it seems clear that all three had the same provenance. But unlike Top Secret and Hush-Hush, it doesn't seem as if Dynamite lasted long. The issue above, which appeared this month in 1956, is the second. We are unable to confirm whether there was a third. But if Dynamite was short-lived it wasn't because of any deficiencies in the publication. It's identical in style to other tabloids, and its stories are equally interesting.
One of those deals with Henry von Thyssen, the Dutch born, German descended heir to an industrial fortune, and his wife, Nina Dyer, heiress to a tea plantation in Sri Lanka, back then called Ceylon. The von Thyssen family manufactured steel in Germany, including for Hitler's Third Reich, and came out of World War II unscathed, as big companies that profit from war always do. Dyer was a dilettante famed for making bikinis popular on the French Riveria. According to Dynamite, von Thyssen was so desperate to marry Dyer that he allowed her to keep her boyfriend, the French actor Christian Marquand. Society gossips whispered,but both spouses were fine with the set-up until von Thyssen accidentally ran into Dyer and Marquand in Carrol's nightclub in Paris and was forced to save face by starting a fight. The couple soon divorced, but not because of infidelity, as many accounts claim. What finally broke the couple up was that Dyer dropped Marquand. Dynamite tells readers: “[von Thyssen] has ditched his sloe-eyed Baroness because now she's decided she loves him.”
Interesting, but there are many similar stories about open high society marriages. What interested us, really, was the portrayal of Dyer. Apparently she had at some point been strongly influenced by Asian women. Her husband described her as “soft and feminine and oriental looking.” Dynamite painted this word picture: “She walks as though she has a water pot balanced on her head, her dark, slanting eyes are inscrutable, and her movements are so languorous and cat-like that von Thyssen gave her a baby panther as a companion.” Dyer eventually had two panthers, and was often seen walking them on the Croisette in Cannes. After her marriage to von Thyssen ended she quickly married Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan, but that marriage ended in divorce. Over the years she had been given many gifts. Besides the panthers there were cars, jewels, and a Caribbean island. But the one thing money never bought for her was happiness. She committed suicide at age thirty-five.
There's a lot more to learn about Nina Dyer—her modeling career, her adventures in the south of France, her free-spirited ways in the Caribbean, her 1962 E-Type Jaguar Roadster that was found in Jamaica in 2015 and restored for a November 2016 auction, and more. So we'll be getting back to her a little later. We still have about fifty tabloids from the mid-1950s and we're betting she appears in more than a few. Meanwhile, elsewhere in Dynamite is a story tracking Marilyn Monroe's movements around Fire Island during a summer 1955 vacation, a report about Frank Sinatra being barred from the Milroy Club in London, an exposé on prostitution in Rome, a breakdown of the breakdown of Gene Tierney's engagement to Aly Khan (Sadruddin Aga Khan's brother), and a couple of beautiful photos of Diana Dors. We have about thirty scans below for your enjoyment. Odds are we'll never find another issue of Dynamite, but we're happy to own even one. It's great reading.
The National Police Gazette looks up to Raquel Welch.
This National Police Gazette from January 1970 features bombshell sex symbol Raquel Welch on the cover photographed from an odd up-the-nose angle you don’t often see. This was also, we are almost certain, the first Gazette to feature a full color cover photo, as the magazine was trying to upgrade its staid image. Inside you get Linda Harrison, Sugar Ray Robinson, Rocky Graziano, Grace Kelly and a dubious report on the 200,000 legally insane teachers working in America’s schools. Welch’s bikini shoots were always a major event, and images from this particular session ended up on or inside scores of publications, including an issue of the Japanese film magazine Screen we shared last year. We have several more frames from the shoot, and we’ll get around to posting those soonish.
There's nothing like a summer romance to make an old man feel young.
This poster for Nudisti all'isola di Sylt was made for the Italian run of a West German movie called Heißer Sand auf Sylt, known in English as The New Life Style (Just to Be Love) and Naked and Free... The New Life Style. It's about a group of hipsters who head to the British seaside for some partying, drugs, and good clean promiscuous sex. The group is surprised when Renate von Holt hooks up with middle aged square Horst Tappert and the two hit it off. Their romance is genuine and idyllic, but Tappert doesn't like von Holt's friends, and they don't like him. Eventually the counterculture clique is exposed as shallow and uncaring, but at the same time von Holt's and Tappert's May/December romance starts to develop generational cracks.
The movie makes attempts at comedy, but the plot is mostly serious, and comes with a moral: youth will reject what it's offered in favor of kicks and thrills. Pretty obvious. The point is really to show lots of skin. That skin is notable because the women are uniformly gorgeous. Von Holt, Babsi Zimmermann, and Uschi Mood are major beauties. There's also a quick peek at Solvi Stubing, who later became more famous than all of them. This roster of lovely women is the only reason to expend any time here (though Jake la Motta and Rocky Graziano appear in the U.S. version, which could be a draw for boxing fans). Nudisti all'isola di Sylt doesn't have an Italian release date, but it premiered in West Germany today in 1968. Von Holt, Zimmermann, Mood, and Stubing appear, in that order, below.
The Police Gazette’s graphic boxing covers were some of the best in the magazine’s long history.
Rocky Graziano is one angry man in this stunner of a photo-illustration from The National Police Gazette. Graziano was near the end of his run when this cover appeared in January 1951, but he was one of greats, knocking out fifty-two opponents during a brief five year professional career. The Gazette, published originally way back in 1845, weathered many changes in American society and yet managed to keep on chugging along. Sometime during the 1940s they seemed to have hit on a new formula—sports covers. The magazine had always covered sports, but now they put it front and center with super-saturated action shots and lots of blood. They mainly produced boxing covers—and these were some of the most striking (heh heh) in the magazine’s history. They also occasionally featured football and hockey. This lasted for about ten years, then the Gazette changed its cover style to try and keep pace with the many Hollywood tabloids that had crowded the newsstands. It was at that point that editors adopted the motif you’ve seen in posts like this one and this one. We have more Police Gazette pages below, and we’ll have more sports issues down the line.
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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