Always be careful what you say to a tabloid.
This National Enquirer published today in 1963 features the free-floating head of U.S. actress Shirley Bonne with a quote where she calls herself a “dimwit.” Enquirer often splashed shocking, sexual, or confessional quotes from stars across its covers. We have little doubt Bonne was just joshing around, if she ever said it, which we tend to doubt. She isn't well known today. Though she amassed hundreds of magazine covers, as an actress she had zero credited cinematic roles. All her credits, including movies, were on television, where she appeared on shows such as Bonanza, That Girl, Medical Center, starred in the sitcom My Sister Eileen, and was in the all-time dog of a television horror flick It's Alive. Her zenith, at least in terms being appreciated by a fandom, is having guest starred in one of the best Star Trek episodes ever—1966's “Shore Leave.” That's the one where the Enterprise crew land on a planet that makes anything they think about come true. Kirk thinks about a long lost love and Shirley Bonne appears—head, body, and all. Pretty smart thinking.
Vintage tabloid looks forward to better sex in the future but should have been happy with the present.
This issue of the low rent sexploitation tabloid National Informer published today in 1971 asks what will sex be like in the year 2020. We'd answer that compared to 1971 people will have less of it, and when they do it will come with recycled puritan guilt and fears of fatal disease. Other than that it'll be great! We jest, of course. We have no clue what 1971 sex was like, but National Informer makes clear that there were plenty of worries. Like what if you didn't know proper etiquette for your first orgy? Or what would you wear to the nude-in at Golden Gate Park? And could you get it up after popping three Quaaludes?
With the myriad sexual challenges of the period, it's no wonder people thought 2020 sex would be better, as a utopian article by Tom Bridges makes clear. Our favorite line: “Sex will be just another physical satisfaction in human living, with no stigmas attached.” Um... no. And this bit is great: “There will be sex schools in every city, attended by millions, which will teach by demonstration excellent sexual techniques. Anyone who doesn't attend and graduate will be a social dropout and considered illiterate.” Little could Mr. Bridges have suspected that the U.S. wouldn't come up with enough money to run normal schools, let alone sex schools.
It's fun to read how much faith Informer has in a brighter future. Optimism was actually a chararistic of the time period, we've noticed, whether talking about politics, science, or anything else. But a funny thing happened on the way to the post-millennial sexual mecca Informer imagines—the eunuchs took over the harem, and when 2020 finally arrived, the events of that shitty year were (notice we're already talking about it in past tense—that's how bad it was) enough to kill everyone's sex drives. Well, at least 2021 is just around the bend, and in the event of the virus actually being conquered, maybe a new sexual revolution will take hold, with love-ins and all the rest. We'll believe it when we see it, but it never hurts to dream, right?
Your Honor, I swear I didn't kill them. My wife and her lover were on fire well before I walked into the bedroom.
If you rub two sticks together fast enough you can make fire, so why not two people? But the lovers referred to on this cover of Midnight from August 1964 didn't burst into flames from the sheer intensity of their fucking (though we love that image). They were allegedly doused with gasoline and set ablaze by a Colorado man named Ricardo Anlando, who wasn't a husband, as we suggested in our subhead, but a spurned admirer. He incinerated his unrequited love because she married another man, which goes to show that hell hath no fury like an incel scorned. They say revenge is a dish best served cold, but if there's an opportunity to serve it as flambé, some will take it. There's another fire themed story in this issue about a mother who stuffed her newborn into a furnace. No need to fret, though. The building janitor saved the kid and the mom went to prison. So you get a happy ending to counterbalance the sad one. We bet neither story is true, though. Just a hunch.
First do no harm—to your bank account.
National Enquirer wins the 1968 Obvious Award with this header articulating the entire essence of U.S. healthcare. The quote is attributed to “the nation's leading doctors,” but here's the thing—if this group were actually the nation's leading doctors there would be no problem of people dying due to lack of funds. The reality is that the American Medical Association—the nation's actual leading doctors—for decades consistently opposed national health care programs, so the headline should read: If You're Sick Money Makes the Difference Between Life & Death. Nation's Leading Doctors Are Fine with That.
The primary mandate of unions is to obtain the highest possible compensation for its members, so one can hardly be surprised at the AMA's opposition to changing a profitable system. Still, its history with national healthcare probably isn't widely known enough. The group's lobbying efforts defeated President Harry Truman’s plans for universal healthcare back during the 1940s, and similar un-Hippocratic mobilizations slowed or stopped attempts by later presidents. The AMA is also the group that paid then-actor Ronald Reagan to record that famous 1961 spoken word LP claiming Medicare—aka trying to help seniors live longer—would lead to a socialist dictatorship. You can check that out at this link. Elsewhere on Enquirer's cover, serial bride Zsa Zsa Gabor explains that after she dies she doesn't want to be remembered as “the one with a lot of husbands,” but rather someone who “had the courage to keep on trying to find love.” She didn't get her wish. And the funny part is that in 1968, when she foresaw her future reputation, she wasn't finished marrying. Not even close. Having already walked down the aisle on five happy occasions, she ended up making the trip four more times. We have a lot on Zsa Zsa in the website. This rare pin-up for example. If you want to see more just click her keywords below.
If you're happy and you know it drop your shirt.
Here's a historical curiosity. Above are two pressings of an album from Angelina, aka Angelina the Singing Model, released in 1957. Sharp-eyed readers may notice that the sleeves use the name and title font of the iconic mid-century tabloid Confidential. The platters were put out by Davis Records, owned by recording entrepreneur Joe Davis, and try as we might, we uncovered no connection between him and Confidential publisher Robert Harrison. Anything is possible, though. They were both New York based, were both publishers—though of different media—so we bet they knew each other. Did Harrison have any idea his font had been borrowed? There's no way we can know.
During the summer of 1957, when this album was recorded and hit stores, Harrison was deeply involved in the libel case that would lead to him selling Confidential. The trial was in L.A., and he stayed in NYC, refusing to appear in court out west, but even so the proceedings kept him plenty busy. Too busy to notice that a novelty album infringed on his logo? We doubt it. Someone, somewhere in Manhattan, would have said, “Hey, Robert, have you seen this new record that uses the font from your magazine?” For that reason we can't help feeling there's some link between Davis and Harrison that led to the look of these LPs, but for now that will have to remain a mystery.
Moving on to the singer, Angelina was actually New York City-based Joyce Heath, who later founded Joyce Heath and the Privateers. These platters, unlikely as the possibility seems, may have actually helped launch her career. As we said, they came in 1957, and Heath's first recordings under her own name were in 1959. Maybe she kept her semi-topless starring role on the cover of Confidential quiet, but we think it more likely she embraced it. While she does show her breast on the second cover, one little boob, after all, was not that big of a deal post-Monroe and Mansfield.
The album had either a repressing or was initially released with two sleeves. Since there are two levels of explicitness, we suspect the latter. Davis probably wanted a suggestive cover, and one that was even more risqué. On the other hand, the change in Heath's hair color suggests the former possibility—two pressings at different times with a change of hairstyle between. Both albums have 1957 copyrights, though, which means little time would have elapsed. Alternatively it could be that Heath wasn't the model for both covers. But we think she was. The second sleeve says in white lettering across her red shirt, “This is Angelina.” So there you go. And the first model, if you look past the hair color, resembles Heath strongly. At least to us.
And now we get to the music. You want to know whether it's any good, right? Well, it's a joke record, with double entendre songs like, “All the Girls Like Big Dick,” “Shake Your Can,” and “He Forgot His Rubbers.” We gave it a listen and all the tunes are cabaret style, pairing piano and vocal with no other accompaniment. Twelve tunes of that ilk would begin to sound similar anyway, but in this case, they really are all the same song. Same key, same tempo, same mood, etc. We have it on good authority Heath recorded this in one afternoon and what we heard sure lends credence to that assertion. Still, limited as the music may be, it's pretty fun. If you want to know more about Joyce Heath, check the blog whitedoowopcollector at this link.
Political situation in U.S. critical after radical surgery to transplant corrupt old politics onto fresh new voters.
We wrote a polemical subhead. Heh, sub-head, see what we did there? Because it's a substitute head and— Anyway, this cover of Midnight published today in 1967 touts a medical miracle, but of course in reality it was beyond the capabilities of science then and remains so today. But one day. And when extra-long lifespans arrive, horrible old ideas will be near impossible to change because the same geezers will be in charge for hundreds of years. You think seventy-something is old too old to be president? Just wait. On another note, you may have noticed we haven't posted many tabloids lately. Our scanner has developed the habit of placing a bright blue line on our scans, and during the quarantine the electronics store was closed. We'll wander over that way pretty soon and get to scannin' again. In the meantime, we have 399 tabloid posts in the website, and if you're inclined you can access them here.
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.
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1959—Lou Costello Dies
American comedian Lou Costello, of the famous comedy team Abbott & Costello, dies of a heart attack at Doctors' Hospital in Beverly Hills, three days before his 53rd birthday. His career spanned radio and film, silent movies and talkies, vaudeville and cinema, and in his heyday he was, along with partner Abbott, one of the most beloved personalities in Hollywood.
1933—King Kong Opens
The first version of King Kong
, starring Bruce Cabot, Robert Armstrong and Fay Wray, and with the giant ape Kong brought to life with stop-action photography, opens at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. The film goes on to play worldwide to good reviews and huge crowds, and spawns numerous sequels and reworkings over the next eighty years.
1949—James Gallagher Completes Round-the-World Flight
Captain James Gallagher and a crew of fourteen land their B-50 Superfortress named Lucky Lady II in Fort Worth, Texas, thus completing the first non-stop around-the-world airplane flight. The entire trip from takeoff to touchdown took ninety-four hours and one minute.
1953—Oscars Are Shown on Television
The 26th Academy Awards are broadcast on television by NBC, the first time the awards have been shown on television. Audiences watch live as From Here to Eternity wins for Best Picture, and William Holden and Audrey Hepburn earn statues in the best acting categories for Stalag 17 and Roman Holiday.
1912—First Parachute Jump Takes Place
Albert Berry jumps from a biplane traveling at 1,500 feet and lands by parachute at Jefferson Barracks, Missouri. The 36 foot diameter chute was contained in a metal canister attached to the underside of the plane, and when Berry dropped from the plane his weight pulled the canopy from the canister. Rather than being secured into the chute by a harness, Berry was seated on a trapeze bar. It's possible he was only the second man to accomplish a parachute landing, as there are some accounts of someone accomplishing the feat in California several months earlier.
1932—Lindbergh Baby Is Kidnapped
The twenty-month-old son of aviator Charles Lindbergh, Charles Augustus Lindbergh III, is kidnapped from the family home in East Amwell, New Jersey. Over two months later the toddler's body is discovered in woods a short distance from the home. A medical examination determines that he had died of a massive skull fracture. A German carpenter named Bruno Hauptmann is arrested, tried, and convicted for the crime. He is sentenced to death and executed in April 1936.
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