Hollywoodland Jul 5 2022
DEEP INSIDE
Inside Story goes where other tabloids tread—then claims not to have gone there.


It's been a few years since we posted an issue of Inside Story, but we don't run out of tabloids, we just run out of time to scan them. Today, though, there's time aplenty, so above you an issue that appeared this month in 1963 with a cover touting a feature on the new generation of young actresses in Hollywood taking over from Brigitte Bardot, Kim Novak, and Marilyn Monroe. At the time, Bardot was twenty-nine and Novak was thirty-five. Those aren't exactly geriatric years for actresses, even back then, but Inside Story said there was a young new guard: Angie Dickinson, Ann-Margret, Jane Fonda, Connie Stevens, Tuesday Weld, and Julie Newmar. Dickinson was actually older than both Bardot and Novak, but we get the general point.

Later in the issue there's a story dedicated to Monroe that describes her fans as a death cult. The interesting aspect of this is that the author Kevin Flaherty accuses people of obsessing over Monroe—while himself obsessing over Monroe. The gist of his article is that a cottage industry of films, books, and magazine articles were cashing in on her suicide, which had occurred the previous August. This was, of course, shaky ground for any tabloid to tread upon, as they all made their profits via unauthorized articles about various celebrities, which one could define as exploitative by nature. But never let the facts get in the way of a good story angle.

Flaherty tells readers that Monroe's life was marred by abandonment, depression, and rape, and suggests that if she had been given a little peace by constantly clamoring fans and intrusive reporters she might not have taken that fatal dose of pills. We think it's just as valid to conclude that without stardom she wouldn't have lasted as long as she did. Since she isn't around anymore to speak for herself (she'd be ninety-six this year), we choose to view her on the terms she chose. She started as a model and worked hard to become an actress, and we think those achievements are far more important than what she had no control over. But there will always be debate over Monroe's legacy, and Inside Story shows that the discussion was already in full swing. Twenty-plus scans below.
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Hollywoodland Mar 18 2022
WHY WORRY
Ann-Margret's reputation was a problem. But her reputation for what?


This should spice up your Friday. Above you see Swedish bombshell Ann-Margret on the cover of a National Enquirer published today in 1962. The editors wanted to match Ann's face with the, “I'm worried,” header, and used a promo shot of her dancing. Wild facial expressions were a specialty of hers. Winks, grins, grimaces, and more were her stock in trade, deftly demonstrated in the shot below. But regarding the above image, we don't think she looks particularly worried. Pained, possibly. Worried, no. We didn't buy this item, so we can't tell you for sure what she's supposed to be worried about, but considering the year, the article probably discusses her trying to make the transition from singer/dancer to serious actress. It was something she talked about in interviews. In the end she managed it easily. On the other hand, maybe Enquirer is hinting at something else entirely. Either way, the photo is rare.

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Sex Files Feb 17 2022
LIGHT READER MATERIAL
Just a little something to help pass the time.


Above is the cover of an issue of National Informer Reader published today in 1974. Some people will tell you that the trans community is a new thing, but it isn't, and we know because vintage tabloids have been obsessed with the subject for more than sixty years. If you don't believe us check here, here, here, here, and here. Reader visits the topic with a story on trans entertainer Jennifer Fox. In cheap tabloids the stories were often made up, but Fox existed. She underwent gender reassignment in 1968 and became a burlesque dancer in Las Vegas. In other stories she's noted that once knowledge of her change became widely known, interest in her exploded and she became a star attraction. The only thing is, we don't think the photo Reader printed is Fox. Her face looks wrong, Fox was usually blonde, and not many burlesque dancers posed frontally nude after becoming famous—it would have devalued the moneymaker. Probably Reader never actually spoke to Fox. The editors simply knew a useful story when they saw it, and used a handout photo that looked good. When it comes to tabloids in this tier almost nothing is 100% accurate. Scans below.

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Intl. Notebook Feb 3 2022
OH, CANADA
C'est le tabloïd bon marché! Scandale et crime! Incroyable!


Above: scans from the Canadian French tabloid Le Rendez-Vous, which appeared today in 1969 from Montréal based Publications Neoscope. The cover star is German actress Margaret Rose Keil (whose first name they spell Margret), and the text says, “A girl with no arms or legs goofs off.” Right, well, we aren't sure what that means, and since Keil gets no inside play it's never explained. Another of those Frenchisms no doubt. Elsewhere inside, you get various quick hits: actress Christiane Rucker gathering no moss, beautiful obscurity Tiffany Roberts with her precious pearls, and Rina Berti in the centerfold. You also get feature length stories about love and suicide, misbehaving scoutmasters, and Mia Farrow, who says, “I love humanity, but I hate people.” As you can see, Canadian tabloids were like U.S. tabloids, but a bit more exotique. We have more issues of Le Rendez-Vous, so we'll get back to this subject later in the year.

Update: when if comes to Frenchisms, Jo is the man. He writes about the cover image:

The "gaffe" is a grip to catch the boat's rope. It can be also a goof. As the girl has no legs and no arms, it's a joke (not very funny). Maybe she catches men using what remains in her sexy body?

You're right, Jo, it isn't a funny joke, but it's good information. We always want to know. Thanks as always.

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Hollywoodland | Intl. Notebook Jan 26 2022
CONFIDENTIAL TAKEDOWN
The king of tabloids sets its sights on the Queen of Greece.


Every month when Confidential magazine hit newsstands, we imagine Hollywood celebrities receiving the bad news that they'd made the cover, and going, “Shit.” This issue published in January 1964 features Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, Frank Sinatra, and Jill St. John. The first three members of that group probably took the news in stride, since they were all tabloid staples by then. St. John wasn't quite at their level, but her links with Sinatra kept her in the scandal sheets for a while too.

A person who wasn't used to Confidential's attentions was Frederica of Hanover, who at the time was Queen Consort of Greece—which is just a fancy way of saying she was married to the King of Greece. Confidential says she was a Nazi, a pretty serious charge, needless to say. Was she? Well, her grandfather was Kaiser Wilhelm II, as a girl she was a member of Bund Deutscher Mädel, which was a branch of the Hitler Youth, and she had brothers in the SS. Also, back in 1934 Adolf Hitler wanted to link the British and German royal houses, and tried to pressure Frederica's parents into arranging for the seventeen-year-old girl to marry the Prince of Wales, Edward VIII. And as Queen Consort she made a habit of meddling in Greek politics in ways that made clear she was not a fan of democracy. None of that is a particularly good look.

She had defenders, though, who believed that for a person in her position it would have been impossible not to have been a member of certain groups and to have socialized with Nazis. It's interesting, isn't it, how the rich and powerful always benefit from a special set of excuses? People can't really expect her to have made a stand, can they? But the excuse is hollow. As a high ranking royal she could have avoided anything she wished. Membership in organizations when she was a little girl is one thing, but as an adult she could have denounced Nazism with damage to her reputation the only potential result. A damaged reputation is no small thing, but if we expect resistance from people who'd have been imprisoned or shot for doing so, we should probably expect the same from people who would have suffered mostly dirty looks.

Confidential focuses on Frederica's July 1963 visit to England. The visit was no big surprise—Frederica, her husband King Paul of Greece, Queen Elizabeth, and her husband Prince Philip, were all related. They were all direct descendants of Queen Victoria. Monarchy is a funny thing, isn't it? The visit triggered a protest of about three thousand British leftists that was violently broken up by five thousand police. The protestors carried banners that said, “Down with the Nazi Queen.” After mentioning this fiasco, Confidential delves into Frederica's history, some of which we've outlined above, then loops back to the protests, which she blamed on the British press. But she had already reached a level of notoriety that usually brought out protestors who loudly booed her, particularly in Greece. She eventually retreated from public life, became a Buddhist, and died early at age sixty-three.

Confidential's unexpected exposé on Frederica wasn't out of character for the magazine. It was the top tabloid dog in a very large kennel. It had an expansive staff, serious reporters, hundreds of informers spread across the U.S. and Britain, and published stories about heavy hitters from all sectors of society. It had a regressive political agenda, as its article filled with terrible slander against gays and lesbians makes clear, but even with its rightward slant it took pains to keep its reporting framework factual. That makes it a priceless source of contemporaneous info about public figures, particularly of the Hollywood variety. We doubt we'll ever stop buying it, because we never know who we'll find inside. Twenty-plus scans below.
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Hollywoodland Jan 22 2022
LICK BAIT
Wilkinson's tongue lures the reading public.


Is the tongue really the strongest muscle in the human body? Maybe or maybe not, but it's certainly powerful here. This cover of National Bulletin published today in 1968 features England born model and actress June Wilkinson, owner of Hollywood's favorite exhibitionist internal organ, making newsstand browsers have thoughts that tighten their underwear. This tongue-out look was Wilkinson's trademark. Miley Cyrus is a mere millennial copycat. Too bad the cover shot is juxtaposed against blocky text about mom rape. But remember, these tabloids were part fiction. The mom story... Well, no thirteen-year-old hired men to do that. And if you look inside, it's a cinch that no anthropologist told the tabloid public she ate—and loved!—human flesh, no random daughter confessed to needing her mom to test out her boyfriends in bed, and no abortionist charged a year of sex instead of money for his services. These are cheapie tabloids, with virtually no staff, and no scruples.

The key to making fakeness work was to write stories people wanted to believe. To aid that mission they mixed in scattered factual pieces, such as the story on serial killers, including Richard Speck. He really did rape and murder eight student nurses in one night. It's a crime that sent a collective shock through America that has never been matched, at least until the era of mass shootings arrived. But importantly, it's also so bizarre and horrible that it serves as a gateway for Bulletin stories that sound more plausible but are actually fiction. Veteran breaks kitten's neck? Woman kills husband with rolling pin? Both probably happened somewhere, sometime, but did Bulletin really employ staff to travel out to woop woop and interview these people, or pay stringers for the stories? Not a chance. But that's why we love these old tabloids. They prove that nothing is new, even in 2022. It's all been done before, just not as fast, and not as glittery. Nineteen scans below.

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Hollywoodland | Sex Files Jan 20 2022
NEWMAN'S OWN BUSINESS
Informer digs for Hollywood dirt but comes up empty.


Above is the cover of a National Informer published today in 1974, and unlike other issues, this one has an actual, real life, major celebrity inside—none other than Paul Newman. How did he end up inside a cheapie sex tabloid? Good question. Reading the story—which discusses his relations with female fans—you get the sense that the magazine managed to get itself admitted to a press junket interview session, at which a group of journalists together ask questions of a star. We've participated in ones with Ron Perlman, David Caruso, Renee Zellweger, and others. Group sessions with small and lesser known press outlets saves the stars and publicists time, and the promotional companies aren't terribly discriminating as long as the publication has the right credentials.

But even if you don't know how press junkets work, you'd notice that Informer's interview doesn't read like a one-on-one sit-down. It's a few basically innocuous answers from Newman. Informer journo Tex Harmon wants to tell readers that Newman is slinging dick all around Hollywood, but can't because he has only a few quotes with which to work. So he writes an article with a mildly sexual slant, calls it a day, and probably hits the local watering hole for whiskey shots. Newman does talk about his wife Joanne Woodward a bit, but respectfully. You can read the whole piece yourself below.

Elsewhere, Informer offers up its usual style of quasi-journalism, with the claim that illicit affairs can be good for marriages, a piece on a woman who was a sex slave of the mob, and a chat with a Dutch policewoman named Anita Hausmann who encountered a flasher in Amsterdam who was “letting it all hang out.” Hang isn't the word we'd use for him, but whatever. Informer also has its usual set of predictions from Mark Travis, and of course there are photos of pretty young models. We've gotten good at identifying them, but this issue is tricky. Andrea Rau is in panels six and seven, but the rest we're blanking on. Feel free to give us an assist if you have any answers.
 
Update: Karin Peterson is in the last panels.

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Sex Files Jan 9 2022
NOTES FROM THE SEXUAL REVOLUTION
National Informer gives sex advice—and if you take it don't blame anyone but yourself.


We love National Informer. We love it like a relative who makes off-color comments and is wrong about half of what they say, but is also bizarrely funny and indispensable at barbecues. This issue published today in 1972 illustrates the point perfectly. It's filled with nonsense. You get a primer of sexual deviations, an endorsement of incest, and predictions for the future from Mark Travis—including his assertion that cock-fighting will become a major American pasttime. That didn't come true—unless we're confused about the type of cocks, in which case cockfighting has been the primary force in American politics for decades.

The paper also has bits on actress Ira von Furstenberg, burlesque dancer Rebel Carr, treats readers to plenty of sexist cartoons, and touts phony medical breaktrhoughs, but the most interesting feature is probably its forty-five question true-or-false sex quiz. "How sharp is your sexual knowledge?" it asks. Well, sharp enough for our girlfriends, is all we can say. The quiz offers up a few surprise factoids. Our favorite? “Studies show that men with tattoos are actually worried about their varility. T or F?” Studies also show that editors of tabloids should worry more about their spelling.

Informer and its little sister Informer Weekly Reader were among the earliest tabloids to prove that being regularly incoherent is no barrier to generating a mass following in America. In fact, it may even help, if the last half decade is any indication. This is the thirty-eighth issue we've shared, and finally, we're starting to run low. That's bad news, we know, and worse, we probably won't buy more. They're priced a bit high now. Maybe that happens when fifty or so issues are bought by someone in a two-year span. But don't worry—there are many other tabloids out there, and some of them are even crazier, as a traipse through our tabloid index will reveal. Have a look. Meanwhile, Informer scans below.
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Intl. Notebook Jan 6 2022
BRAVO NEW WORLD
West German magazine tears down the wall.


German isn't one of our languages, but who needs to read it when you have a magazine with a red and purple motif that's pure eye candy? Every page of this issue of the pop culture magazine Bravo says yum. It hit newsstands today in 1957 and is filled with interesting and rare starfotos of celebs like Romy Schneider, Horst Buchholz, Clark Gable, Karin Dor, Mamie Van Doren, Ursula Andress, Marina Vlady, Corinne Calvet, jazzists Oscar Peterson and Duke Ellington, and many others. This was an excellent find.

We perused other issues of Bravo and it seemed to us—more so in those examples than this one—that it was a gay interest publication. After a scan around some German sites for confirmation we found that it was as we thought. The magazine's gay themes were subtle, but they were there, and at one blog the writer said that surviving as a gay youth in West Berlin during the 1960s, for him, would have been impossible without Bravo. We will have more from this barrier smashing publication later. Thirty-five panels below.
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Hollywoodland Nov 29 2021
TENDING THE GARDNER
She was one of the most watched people in the world—onscreen and off.


Whisper magazine, in this issue published this month in 1961, offers readers an interesting story about an unnamed millionaire's obsession with Ava Gardner. Apparently the millionaire hired people to follow Gardner around 24/7, all over the world, and report back to him, with this surveillance going on for years. The purpose? If he couldn't have her, he at least wanted to know what she was doing. Whisper focuses on a particular spy named Bill, the fourth of four spies employed by the millionaire, who Gardner came to be friends with and let live on her property, rather than have to sleep in his car night after night. Is this tale true? Maybe. Money buys a lot—including tolerance for bad behavior.

And speaking money, there's also a story on gangster Mickey Cohen, who counted among his consorts Liz Renay and Candy Barr, both of whom we've discussed, Renay here, and Barr here and here. Barr has also shown up in five magazines we've posted. The easiest way to see those is click her keywords and scroll. Cohen proves that no matter what people try to tell you, money is an aphrodisiac, because there's no way trolls like him could score beautiful dancers and models if it weren't for wealth. Take a look at the worst man in the world, and if he has money, he has a wife far more beautiful than makes sense.

Whisper goes on to talk about Burt Lancaster's and Charlie Chaplin's lovers, teen-age drunks, Soviet honeytraps, U.S. prisons, Jane Fonda's professional and family lives, and more. It was a Robert Harrison publication that morphed from a cheesecake magazine with painted pin-up covers into a gossip rag. That happened around 1954, when the original Whisper, launched in 1946, began going broke thanks to an inability to compete with girly magazine numero uno—Playboy. But there was plenty of room in the tabloid market and Harrison made Whisper a staple monthly on par with Confidential, his flagship publication. We'll have more from Whisper later, as always.

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Next Page
History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
July 06
1962—William Faulkner Dies
American author William Faulkner, who wrote acclaimed novels such as Intruder in the Dust and The Sound and the Fury, dies of a heart attack in Wright's Sanitorium in Byhalia, Mississippi.
July 05
1942—Spy Novelist Graduates from Spy School
Ian Fleming, author of the James Bond novels, graduates from Camp X, a training school for spies located in Canada. The character of Bond has been said to have been based upon Camp X's Sir William Stephenson and what Fleming learned from him, though there are several other men who are also said to be the basis for Bond.
1989—Oliver North Avoids Prison
Colonel Oliver North, an aide to U.S. president Ronald Reagan, avoids jail during the sentencing phase of the Iran-Contra trials. North had been found guilty of falsifying and destroying documents, and obstructing Congress during their investigation of the massive drugs/arms/cash racket orchestrated by high-ranking members of the Reagan government.
July 04
1927—La Lollo Is Born
Gina Lollobrigida is born in Subiaco, Italy, and eventually becomes one of the world's most famous and desired actresses. Later she becomes a photojournalist, numbering among her subjects Salvador Dali, Paul Newman and Fidel Castro.
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