Star light, star bright, first star that really, really wants it tonight.
German actress and glamour model Christiane Schmidtmer claims on the cover of this Midnight published today in 1965 that she'll do anything to be a star. Back then, that was music to unscrupulous producers' ears. Today, producers that cross the professional line would run a serious risk of going to jail. Did Schmidtmer ever actually say this? There's no way to know for sure, but with Midnight you can reasonably suspect that its quotes are fabricated to thrill its preponderantly male readership. As we've mentioned numerous times before, this was its m.o.—the provocative cover quote paired with a slinky handout photo, and an interior article bought cheap off a freelance writer who had managed to carve out ten minutes with an actress during a film junket.
So how did Schmidtmer's career go? The quote requires we ask. Well, she appeared in about a dozen motion pictures and about the same number of parts on television, and she played, among other roles, a passenger in 1963's Stop Train 349, a flight attendant in 1965's Boeing, Boeing, a passenger (named Lizzi Spoekenkieker) in 1965's Ship of Fools, and another passenger in Airport ’75—which weirdly came out in 1974. Unlike in astronomy, in cinema you sometimes have to define the term star for yourself, and we judge that she didn't quite make it, though it's an accomplishment of sorts to play roles in or on all the major forms of commercial conveyance—trains, planes and boats. But even if she never attained real stardom, she dazzles below, and we'll probably see her again a little later because: Lizzi Spoekenkieker. How can we resist?
Midnight cover star urges women to bust out.
None of Midnight magazine's quotes were real, we're pretty sure. On this cover from today in 1966 Janet Dane says ban the bra, joining feminists of her day who advocated ditching such restraints. But who's Janet Dane? Well, we had a heck of a time finding out, because there's a famous psychic of the same name, but it turns out she was a glamour model who appeared in Fling, Rogue, Tab and other such publications mostly in 1959 and 1960. This Midnight cover would postdate by years any other images of her we saw, but the editors had no qualms about using old material, so we suspect this shot, while published in ’66, is actually a handout dating from around 1960. Below we have a nice color image of her, a rarity we found years ago, and as you can see she's banned her bra. Thanks to these two shots, the hard-to-find Dane's internet presence has been greatly augmented. If you're out there, Janet, you're welcome. On the other hand, if you wanted your glamour days to be forgotten, we're terribly sorry.
The more things change the more they stay the same.
Above is a cover of the U.S. tabloid Inside Story published this month in 1955. There's a lot in this magazine, but since we keep our write-ups short we can't cover it all. One story of note concerns Betty Furness, an actress and pitchwoman whose squeaky clean image Inside Story claims is false. This is a typical angle by mid-century tabloids, the idea that a cinema or television sweetheart was really a hussy, lush, ballbreaker, or cold fish. Furness receives slander number four, with editors claiming she has “ice bound emotions,” “a cold, cold heart,” and is, “tough and tightfisted.” It's interesting that sixty years later resistance to a woman being anything other than a nurturer really hasn't diminished all that much, as many women with high public profiles would confirm.
Another story concerns the death of actress Virginia Rappe and the subsequent arrest of Fatty Arbuckle. In short, Rappe died after attending a party thrown by Arbuckle, with the cause of death attributed to either alcohol induced illness or rape and sodomy with a Coke bottle. Arbuckle went to trial three times before winning a final acquittal, though certain details of the death remained murky. The case was muddied by the influence of sensationalistic journalism, as publishing mogul William Randolph Hearst's nationwide chain of newspapers deemed sales more important than truth. The Coke bottle, for example, was entirely fabricated, but Hearst was unrepentant. He'd fit into the modern media landscape perfectly today, because for him money and influence justified everything.
And speaking of money, a final story that caught our eye was the exposé on the record business, namely the practice of buying spins on radio. The term for this—“payola”—was coined in 1916 but not widely known until the ’50s. Inside Story helps spread the terminology with a piece about pay-for-play on national radio stations. Like the previous two stories, this one feels familiar, particularly the idea that the best music rarely makes it onto the airwaves. Those who engaged in payola understood that people generally consumed whatever was put in front of them, therefore what was the point of worrying about quality or innovation? This remains a complaint about entertainment media today, but repetition still rules. To paraphrase the famed colloquialism: If you ain't going broke, don't fix it. We have thirty-plus scans below.
Vickers tells Midnight readers what's what.
This cover of Midnight dated today in 1965 features Laura Vickers, who is touted as an actress, but who had no credited film roles. In fact, for a while we thought she was a made up person, but that wasn't Midnight's style. The magazine had enough cred to get legit celebrities for its covers. So we kept checking and it turns out Vickers was an obscure glamour model who appeared in super low rent magazines like Flirt 'n Skirt and Black Nylons. Midnight was probably the closest she ever came to mainstream recognition—which is to say, not very close. So what's the score? As usual with this tabloid it's about sex. A man who knows the score knows what women want. But we don't need Midnight to know what that is. The Pulp Intl. girlfriends keep us well informed what women want: it all.
Can there ever be too much of a good thing?
We're still cleaning out that pulp closet, so above you see some random scans from another National Police Gazette. We have an excess of this magazine, and since these late stage editions aren't as interesting as the ones from the ’50s and ’60s, they have to go. And speaking of overabundance, our favorite story in this issue is, “The 3 Ways Wives Murder Their Husbands.” What are they? Apparently, food, aggravation, and sexual excess. We're guessing very few husbands receive number three on that list. But the good news is now you can tell your significant other that one of the world's oldest tabloids, a magazine established in 1845 and full of wisdom, says you should be killed with sex. Good luck with that.
Elsewhere in the issue you get Jacqueline Bisset, Gene Tunney, Jean Harlow, and the strange death of Paul Bern. The Bern incident is part of Hollywood lore. He was married to Jean Harlow for four months when he committed suicide by shooting himself. He left a note behind that apologized for a “frightful wrong" he had done Harlow, and referred to the previous night as “only a comedy.” It led observers to believe Bern had a sexual problem that he tried to solve by artificial means, only to fail. A strap-on, was the inference made by tabloids. But the truth never emerged, certainly not from Harlow herself. There's more to the story, and maybe we'll get into it later. Scans below, and more issues of Gazette here.
National Informer gets inside its readers heads.
We mentioned a while back that we bought some waterlogged tabloids. Above is the latest example from that pile—National Informer, published today in 1971, dipped like a teabag in liquid sometime after that. Inside you get the usual wild sex stories, cartoon humor, and phony outrage. But the winner in this issue is the article, “The Sexual Implications of Your Dreams.” We're going to quote it at length, because it's pretty funny:
When a man dreams of seeing a woman's sexual organs exposed, it means that a woman will soon offer herself to him. If the genitals are covered with sores, this is a bad omen, and indicates a long, serious illness which will require long treatment or surgery.
Dreams of oral intercourse with a woman indicate that success and wealth will be obtained, but that it will be quickly spent. Dreams in which a man engages in anal intercourse with a woman indicate that he will be highly successful financially, and will amass a considerable fortune.
That's priceless, and the last prediction makes perfect sense, since so many rich men have obtained their fortunes by fucking people in the ass. But Informer is not to be trusted with something as important as predicting the future. If you're looking for real dream interpretation, buy a dream book. We recommend Madame Zodia. She's legit.
Elsewhere in the issue is a handout photo of fishnet stockinged Swedish actress Janet Agren. Informer uses her to illustrate a story called “How Girls Make It Hard on Guys When It Comes to Sexual Satisfaction.” It's basically a primer on how to get women in bed, with one clever horndog taking the opportunity of a cross falling off a wall to tell a woman God wants her to have sex. That's low. And ingenious. Sixteen scans below and more Informer here.
America's oldest tabloid continues its appointed rounds.
Today we have the cover and some interior scans from an October 1971 issue of the National Police Gazette, which dutifully explores its usual realms of sports, crime, and Hollywood. The magazine was founded in 1845, which is always astounding to consider. We bought a pile of these ages ago. In fact, they were the first bulk purchase of tabloids we ever made for the website. These ’70s issues of Gazette tend to be very cheap, but, as late stage editions, don't hold much intrigue, which is why we hadn't scanned one since 2014.
But we have to clear some space in our Pulp cave, so we scanned this one and immediately sailed it into the recycling bin. On the cover you have Samantha Marsh, and inside you get Joe Louis and Max Schmeling, Australian model Deanne Soutar, speculations on how old men can be and still have sex, hashish smugglers from India, and a story on the mysterious death of actress Thelma Todd. More from Police Gazette coming soon.
National Spotlite gives readers a Halloween fright.
Another colorful National Spotlite cover, another set of wild stories to go along with it. In this one, published today in 1971, a couple of alleged New York models named Joan Goddard and Ursula Daniels expound upon the joys of same-sex love. These stories get explicit. How explicit? See if this doesn't make you sit up and take notice: “Her tongue quivered inside my sheath, licking its moistness and crawling up to flick and toy with my love-button. Then she sucked in the lips of my sex, taking my entire vagina in her warm mouth, scratching the delicate folds of flesh with her teeth and licking it all with her marvelous tongue.”
Written by a guy, don't you think? We can't confirm that. We can't—shall we say—put a finger on it, but it's a strong suspicion. Know why? Because generally these magazines were put together by balding forty-somethings in smoky offices as they burned through caffeine by the cup and anti-hemorrhoid cream by the tube. In any case, you see once again that these ’70s tabs were just sleaze literature in disguise, and in this case the goal was to titillate male readers, but also leave them disconcerted about being left out of potential woman sandwiches. If women were no longer sexually interested in men, surely the world was going to hell in a handbasket.
Lesbian models are fine as far getting male readers hot and bothered, but the story that's really meant to blow minds is “Sexual Witch Cults, U.S.A.” Again, more sleaze in disguise: “In the name of Beelzebub our Lord and Master, I consecrate thee. In this act we join with His Satanic Majesty in recognizing his power over our bodies and minds.” And the fucking begins. A naked man, his penis jutting solid from his thighs (!), strides up to the slim, dark girl on the altar and slides his full length into her waiting triangle.
The idea here is sexual devil cults—filled with men whose penises jut directly from their thighs—are spreading across the U.S. like hellfire. After two full pages of sexual detail that would make even a confessional priest blush, expert mystic Paul Rashau is wheeled out to admonish readers that, despite all the multiple orgasms and red hot sexual ecstasy, the cultists are “monkeying with forces they don't understand, and will surely destroy themselves.” Hmm... Scary, but even so, we might take the multiple orgasms now and worry about burning in hell later. But that's just us. See extensive scans from Spotlite here, here, here, and here.
Politics, show business, and sports collide in one of the U.S.'s oldest magazines.
We've shared lots of issues of The National Police Gazette, but this September 1959 cover, more than others, neatly emphasizes the magazine's three focus areas—politics, celebrity, and sports. Dishing on political figures and celebs was typical for mid-century tabloids, but Gazette's devotion to sports made it unique. And its favorite sport was boxing. Every issue we've seen has reserved a chunk of pages for the sweet science.
In this case the scientist is Sugar Ray Robinson, and the story about him discusses the rivalry he had with Carmen Basilio. The two fought twice when Robinson was in decline at the tail end of his career. Sugar Ray lost the first bout—considered by boxing historians to be one of the greatest fights ever—and a year later won the second. Every boxer declines, but Robinson's career record stands tall—he fought two hundred times and tallied 173 wins, 108 of them by knockout. But for all that hard work he ended up—as boxers often do—flat broke.
Police Gazette was launched in 1845, as incredible as that seems, and was still going strong more than a century later when this issue appeared. We have about twenty-five scans below and seventy-five more entries on Gazette in the website comprising many hundreds of pages. The easiest way to access those, as well as numerous other mid-century tabloids, is via our tabloid index located here.
Sophia Loren applies personal experience to her ideas about marriage.
Above is a cover of Midnight with a nice photo of Italian superstar Sophia Loren, and a header suggesting trial marriages for couples over twenty-one. Did she say it? Quite possibly. Her marriage to film producer Carlo Ponti was an international scandal thanks to popes and others sticking their noses into her private business. But back then they thought it was their right—actually, their holy duty—because divorce wasn't legal in Italy and Ponti was still married. He and his wife had split and had nothing to do with each other, but the Catholic church assured Loren she'd go to hell if she married Ponti. Well, she did it anyway by proxy in 1957 and officially in 1966. So in August 1970, when this issue of Midnight appeared, we think it quite likely that she had some well formed ideas about marriage. In any case, nice cover. |
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1953—Jomo Kenyatta Convicted
In Kenya, Jomo Kenyatta is sentenced to seven years in prison by the nation's British rulers for being a member of the Mau Mau Society, an anti-colonial movement. Kenyatta would a decade later become independent Kenya's first prime minister, and still later its first president.
1974—Hank Aaron Becomes Home Run King
Major League Baseball player Hank Aaron hits his 715th career home run, surpassing Babe Ruth's 39-year-old record. The record-breaking homer is hit off Al Downing of the Los Angeles Dodgers, and with that swing Aaron puts an exclamation mark on a twenty-four year journey that had begun with the Indianapolis Clowns of the Negro League, and would end with his selection to Major League Baseball's Hall of Fame.
1922—Teapot Dome Scandal Begins
In the U.S., Secretary of the Interior Albert Fall leases the Teapot Dome petroleum reserves in Wyoming to an oil company. When Fall's standard of living suddenly improves, it becomes clear he has accepted bribes in exchange for the lease. The subsequent investigation leads to his imprisonment, making him the first member of a presidential cabinet to serve jail time.
1930—Gandhi Leads Satyagraha March
In India, Mahatma Gandhi raises a lump of mud and salt and declares, "With this, I am shaking the foundations of the British Empire." His words, which were a protest against the British salt tax, mark the beginning of the Satyagraha March, which in turn triggers the wider Civil Disobedience Movement that ultimately culminates in Indian independence.
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