We wonder if anyone warned her she was running out of sidewalk?
Because we're always seeing the ridiculous in even the most innocuous situations we can't stop imagining U.S. actress Leigh Snowden continuing to walk looking over her shoulder until she falls off the end of the sidewalk. Which would be ironic because she was famous for her graceful walk. These three promo images were originally made in 1956 as a single triptych to demonstrate precisely that grace. We've helpfully broken the original composite down to its constituent elements. Does Snowden look unusually graceful? Sure, we guess so—right up until the faceplant.
The full story is on the rear: Leigh Snowden demonstrates the walk which started her on the road to movie stardom. Jack Benny gave the first slight shove to the young actress who not long ago was singing in the choir in Covington, Tenn. He took her along as feminine interest for a performance of his tv show at the naval base in San Diego, early in 1955. All she did was walk on. Twenty thousand sailors let out with whistles and wolf calls which were heard in Hollywood. Leigh, unknown a few days earlier, had her choice of 11 studios and independent producers.
End of the line—Brando's place.
Above, a striking West German poster for Endstation Sehnsucht, which you know better as A Streetcar Named Desire. Admit it. You've heard of it, you know who Tennessee Williams is, but you haven't seen it (or seen or read the much racier Pulitzer Prize winning play it's based on). A famous critic once explained that a good book teaches you how to read it. The same can apply to movies. You have to let yourself be immersed in A Streetcar Named Desire. The first twenty minutes you might be tempted to give up. But once the dubious southern accents and style of the production settle into your head, you'll find a movie well worth watching, with a nice performance by Marlon Brando, who was comfortable in his role of the beefcakey Stanley Kowalski after having played it on Broadway. A Streetcar Named Desire is over the top—and over the needed running time, in the opinions of many—but it's an involving experience. After its U.S. premiere in September 1951 it rolled into West Germany as Endstation Sehnsucht today the same year.
There's nothing standard about this model.
This 1953 wall calendar from the Standard Parts Co. of Memphis, Tennessee features a lovely painting from famed pin-up artist Bill Medcalf. While it looks as if the painting featuring a golfer with a perfect follow through has been pinned to a sunny wall for ages and the colors faded as a result—an assumption seemingly confirmed by looking at Medcalf's original lithograph at right—the image isn't actually faded. A glance at the orange border, which is as vibrant as something harvested by Sunkist, proves it. The makers simply decided for stylistic reasons to go with a monochromatic sepia for the color. Why? We don't know. Maybe because golf is an exercise in serial failure that sucks all the vitality out of you.
The real bonus with this piece, though, comes when you flip it over. There on the other side of the Standard Parts calendar is none other than anything-but-standard model Diane Webber, aka Marguerite Empey, who was America's most famous nudist from the mid-century period. She's popped up on our site several times, usually in rare treasures we've had the pleasure of putting online for the first time, like here, here, and especially here. We're happy to add another find to the collection, and we'll have more from her a bit later.
Notice how the guy goes from an early, enthusiastic attempt to glumly watching from the sideline—that’s how it works for us too.
We’ve seen these paperback covers in different places around the internet and thought they’d make an interesting collective post showing the progression of their dance-themed covers. The first is from 1950 with art by Rudolph Belarski, the next is from an unknown who nonetheless painted a nice rear cover as well, and the last is from Harry Shaare. Macamba concerns a group of characters in Curaçao, and how one in particular struggles to deal with his biracial background as he grows to manhood. He first tries to become a witch doctor, then excels at conventional learning in university, and eventually ships off to World War II and becomes a hero. Returning home, he has many romances and seeks to find his place in the world. You may wonder if there’s any actual dancing in the book, and indeed there is—the main character watches a performance of the tamboe or tambú, a native dance and music that the Dutch colonizers of Curaçao had made illegal.
Lilla Van Saher captures certain aspects of indigenous culture in Curaçao, even sprinkling the dialogue with some Papiamento, but the book is not derived directly from her personal experiences. She was born Lilla Alexander in Budapest, lived an upper class life, modeled, acted in French fims, married a Dutch lawyer named August Edward Van Saher, and through him was introduced to Dutch culture and its island possessions. During her first trip to Curaçao she claims to have been imprisoned by natives in a church because they thought she was a local saint.
In private life, she was a close friend of Tennessee Williams, traveling with him aboard the S.S. Queen Federica in the early 1950s, entertaining him in New York City, and accompanying him during a press junket of Sweden, acting almost as an agent and introducing him to the upper crust of Stockholm, where she was well known. During this time she was Lilla van Saher-Riwkin, and often appears by that name in biographies of Williams as part of his retinue of admirers and associates, though not always in a flattering light. Later she did what many globetrotting dilletantes do—published a cookbook. Hers was called Exotic Cooking, which is as good a description of Macamba as we can imagine.
Nothing says refreshment like deadly air power.
Something a little different today, above is a poster produced by the American soft drink brand Pop Kola touting their beverage as the biggest thirst value under the sun. Though this poster uses a World War II motif, the brand was launched as a subsidiary of Hub City Bottling Works in Jackson, Tennessee way back in 1919, and seems to have survived at least into the early 1970s. We only know the latter because we came across a newspaper story about Pop Kola sponsoring NASCAR star James Hylton during his last year as a full-time professional racer in 1972. He was excited about the partnership, calling it the best deal he ever had. As far as how far beyond 1972 Pop Kola lasted, we don’t know. It was a bit before our time. In any case, we always enjoy WWII memorabilia, and this poster featuring the elegant, gull-winged Corsair fighter plane caught our eye. It seems like an aggressive image for selling soda, but we’re sure it was well received at the time.
Ex-NFL MVP DOA in Tennessee.
Former NFL quarterback and one-time league MVP Steve "Air" McNair was found shot dead yesterday in his Nashville, Tennessee condominium. He was slumped on a sofa, with several gunshot wounds—including two to the head. Nearby was the body of 20-year-old Sahel Kazemi, who McNair reportedly knew from a restaurant he often dined at. She had a single gunshot wound to the head, and a weapon was on the floor underneath her.
McNair, 36, who played most of his career with the Tennessee Titans and on the football field was known for his physical style and fearlessness, had been out Friday night, and returned to his condo between 1:30 a.m. and 2:00 Saturday morning. According to witnesses, Kazemi’s car was already there, but it isn’t known yet if she was already at the scene or arrived with McNair. As of now, nobody is thought to have heard any disturbances, so the incident went unreported until the next afternoon, when McNair’s and Kazemi’s bodies were found by acquaintance Wayne Neely, who co-rents the condo.
One last detail of interest—Kazemi was arrested two days earlier for DUI, and at the time was driving a car registered to both her and McNair. McNair was in the vehicle, but was allowed to take a cab home because he had not broken the law. McNair’s wife, Mechell, is said to be very distraught over the news, and according to police is not a suspect in the deaths.
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1931—Schmeling Retains Heavyweight Title
German boxer Max Schmeling TKOs his U.S. opponent Young Stribling in the fifteenth round to retain the world heavyweight boxing title he had won in 1930. Schmeling eventually tallies fifty-six wins, forty by knockout, along with ten losses and four draws before retiring in 1948.
1969—Stones Guitarist Is Found Dead
Brian Jones, a founding member of British rock group Rolling Stones, is found at the bottom of his swimming pool at Crotchford Farm, East Sussex, England. The official cause of his death is recorded as misadventure from ingesting various drugs.
1937—Amelia Earhart Disappears
Amelia Earhart fails to arrive at Howland Island during her around the world flight, prompting a search for her and navigator Fred Noonan in the South Pacific Ocean. No wreckage and no bodies are ever found.
1964—Civil Rights Bill Becomes Law
U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signs the Civil Rights Bill into law, which makes the exclusion of African-Americans from elections, schools, unions, restaurants, hotels, bars, cinemas and other public institutions and facilities illegal. A side effect of the Bill is the immediate reversal of American political allegiance, as most southern voters abandon the Democratic Party for the Republican Party.
1997—Jimmy Stewart Dies
Beloved actor Jimmy Stewart, who starred in such films as Rear Window and Vertigo, dies at age eighty-nine at his home in Beverly Hills, California of a blood clot in his lung.
1941—NBC Airs First Official TV Commercial
NBC broadcasts the first TV commercial to be sanctioned by the Federal Communications Commission. The FCC began licensing commercial television stations in May 1941, granting the first license to NBC. During a Dodgers-Phillies game broadcast July 1, NBC ran its first commercial, from Bulova, who paid $9 to advertise its watches.
1963—Kim Philby Named as Spy
The British Government admits that former high-ranking intelligence diplomat Kim Philby had worked as a Soviet agent. Philby was a member of the spy ring now known as the Cambridge Five, along with Donald Maclean, Guy Burgess, Anthony Blunt and John Cairncross. Of the five, Philby is believed to have been most successful in providing classified information to the Soviet Union. He defected to Russia, was feted as a hero and even given his commemorative stamp, before dying in 1988 at the age of seventy-six.
1997—Robert Mitchum Dies
American actor Robert Mitchum dies in his home in Santa Barbara, California. He had starred in films such as Out of the Past, Blood on the Moon
, and Night of the Hunter
, was called "the soul of film noir," and had a reputation for coolness
that would go unmatched until Frank Sinatra arrived on the scene.
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