You know that fist bump thing? I invented it way back in the ’70s except it was my fist and their faces.
We've commented before about how, generally speaking, actresses from the blaxploitation era don't have much in the way of surviving promotional material. It's possible few promos were ever made. In either case, it means good photos of the genre's stars can be rare. Pam Grier is an exception. She was one of the top performers to come out of blaxploitation, was also an impact presence in the women-in-prison niche, and really, was probably the first woman you could call an action star. We say probably to hedge our bets, but we can't think of a counter example, unless, maybe, we look at Japanese film. But because Grier was an important figure, she was reasonably well photographed. For that reason, previously unseen shots appear regularly. The two images above, which turned up online earlier this year, are excellent additions to her cinematic legacy. They were shot in 1975, and are part of the series that produced the well known image below that appeared inside an issue of New York magazine.
Don't believe the folk tale. Crossing my path is the very best luck.
Lee Meriwether poses in costume as Catwoman in this shot made during the filming of the 1966 movie Batman: The Movie, one of the goofiest products of the era. It also produced one of the funniest extended gags in cinematic history, involving Batman trying to dispose of a bomb. We go into more detail on that classic comedy moment here. Meriwether also appeared on the Batman television show, and though known mainly for playing Catwoman, amassed more than one hundred film and television credits during her career, which was still going strong up until 2019. With that kind of résumé it's certainly possible she'll show up here again.
I don't really know anything about tennis. I just know there's love involved.
The beautiful Evelyn West, known as the Hubba Hubba Girl and $50,000 Treasure Chest West, is seen here in a pointy promo image for the 1947 burlesque movie A Night at the Folies. In addition to appearing as herself in that film, she acted in two other productions—1941's Birth of the Blues, and 1940's Rhythm on the River. Both roles were uncredited, but the timing seems to make clear that West attempted to be a mainstream actress before she found burlesque. It was in the latter field that she became one of the most famous dancers of her time, and an enduring legend.
This frolic has been sponsored by Off! bug repellent and Nasonex hay fever tablets.
In this centerfold image from the Belgian magazine Ciné-Revue published in September 1972, Barbara Bouchet finds herself in a field of wildflowers and high grasses, and does what comes naturally—sneezes like a maniac until the medication kicks in. Then she frolics, and what a lovely frolic it is. We've featured Bouchet before, which means you already know she's a famously beautiful model-turned-actress who appeared in films like Non si sevizia un paperino, aka Don't Torture a Duckling, Gangs of New York, Casino Royale, and television's Star Trek. Also—and we didn't mention this the other times we wrote about her—she's another celeb who benefitted from a name change. She was born in 1943 in Sudentenland, a part of Czechoslovakia that was occupied by Germany at the time, and grew up as Bärbel Gutscher. That name simply doesn't roll off the tongue, so when she went to Hollywood she chose something that sounded French and the rest is history. These days she lives in Rome, where she still occasionally acts, though probably does a bit less frolicking. See a couple more shots of her here and here.
Excuse me, Miss? Could you *cough cough* smoke elegantly in the opposite direction?
London born Irene Needham found the need for a new name when she made the journey to Hollywood to become an actress. She chose a pretty cool one—Sandra Storme. Though these days, let's admit, it sounds like it belongs to a porn star. During Storme's short career she made five movies, including 1937's Artists and Models and 1939's Murder in the Night. She looks quite nice in this smoking shot, which is one of more than a hundred we've colllected. We may post a group of those later. We don't have a precise copyright on this one, but it's probably from around 1935.
Downtime always means pooltime in Hollywood.
We like this shot of Coleen Gray, née Doris Bernice Jensen, with its casual day-off feel. Gray appeared in some very good movies, including Kiss of Death, The Killing, Kansas City Confidential, State Fair, and The Leech Woman (well, maybe that one's not so good, but it's really fun). All told, she amassed more than one hundred credits in cinema and on television. We obviously haven't seen them all, but our favorite role of hers is as Molly in Nightmare Alley. Interest in that one will pick up soon because it's being remade by Guillermo del Toro, with Willem Dafoe, Cate Blanchett, and Bradley Cooper in the leads. We can understand why a maestro of the weird like del Toro was attracted to that film, and we expect the remake to be very interesting. But do yourself a favor and watch the original sometime too.
What she does in the shadows.
We saw Signe Hasso recently. In fact, we used her for a pro-vaccine PSA. So we brought her back without any messaging. Though we messaged just by mentioning the previous message, didn't we? Anyway, you see Hasso here in probably her best promo image, which like the earlier shot was made when she filmed The House on 92nd Street. There are some pretty bad femmes fatales in film noir, but Hasso, with her cabal of deadly thugs and penchant for dangerous chemicals, is close to the baddest. We'll talk about it in a bit. The photo from 1945.
You think crawling is going to help? Have some pride. Get up and take it like a man.
Above, a fun shot of U.S. actress Tippi Hedren, née Nathalie Hedren, made when she was filming the 1964 Alfred Hitchcock thriller Marnie. Despite having one of the odder pseudonyms of the era there's no elaborate story involved. Her father nicknamed her Tippi when she was four. Hedren also appeared in such films as The Birds, The Harrad Experiment, and the unbelievable Roar. Have you heard of Roar. No? Well, it's certainly one of the most bizarre movie projects in history.
Rather than get into the plot (such as it is), we'll just tell you that during its making Hedren broke her leg after being bucked off an elephant's back, and received thirty-eight stitches after a lioness gnawed the back of her head. In addition, her daughter Melanie Griffith, cinematographer Jan de Bont, and producer Noel Marshall were also mauled by lions. Griffith needed fifty stitches in her face and plastic surgery, de Bont needed one hundred twenty stitches and his scalp sewn back in place, and lucky Noel Marshall merely developed gangrene.
If you haven't seen Roar and are an aficionado of weird cinema, we can't recommend watching that one highly enough. Ironically, while we've seen that all-time obscurity, we haven't seen the well-known Marnie. But there's a reason—one of the worst people we ever knew, someone who stole several of our most prized belongings, was named Marni, so avoiding that reminder has kept us from getting around to the film. But it isn't like that's Tippi's fault, so her movie is finally in the queue. When we watch it we'll report back.
Whew! That's better. I was sweating like a Texas fry cook in this outfit.
Above is a fun photo of Japanese actress Yûko Iruka suddenly realizing the shortcomings of wearing leather during summer. We last saw her headlining the 1977 girl gang movie Jigoku no tenshi: Akai bakuon, aka Hells Angels: Crimson Roar, and we were thinking we'd check her out in another flick, but it looks like she made only the one. Considering the crazy things actresses were asked to do in Japanese genre films, she may have gotten off easy. We have no date on this image, but we figure it's from around the same time as her movie.
Of course I'm happy. Why? Don't I look happy?
Above is a nice shot of Swedish film star Greta Garbo, someone who made the transition from actress to legend in her lifetime. That was not only due to her hit films and award nominations, but also her perceived melancholic persona, seeming indifference to the press, and retirement while still in her prime at age thirty-five. She was mysterious until the day she died. This promo was made in 1931 while she was playing the lead role in Mata Hari, about the infamous exotic dancer and accused World War I spy.
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1926—Houdini Fatally Punched in Stomach
After a performance in Montreal, Hungarian-born magician and escape artist Harry Houdini is approached by a university student named J. Gordon Whitehead, who asks if it is true that Houdini can endure any blow to the stomach. Before Houdini is ready Whitehead strikes him several times, causing internal injuries that lead to the magician's death.
1973—Kidnappers Cut Off Getty's Ear
After holding Jean Paul Getty III for more than three months, kidnappers cut off his ear and mail it to a newspaper in Rome. Because of a postal strike it doesn't arrive until November 8. Along with the ear is a lock of hair and ransom note that says: "This is Paul’s ear. If we don’t get some money within 10 days, then the other ear will arrive. In other words, he will arrive in little bits." Getty's grandfather, billionaire oilman Jean Paul Getty, at first refused to pay the 3.2 million dollar ransom, then negotiated it down to 2.8 million, and finally agreed to pay as long as his grandson repaid the sum at 4% interest.
1947—HUAC Hearings Begin
The House Un-American Activities Committee begins its investigation into Communist infiltration of Hollywood, resulting in a witch hunt that destroys lives, ruins careers, and makes Senator Joseph McCarthy the most feared politician of the era.
1968—Jackie Kennedy Marries
Former First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy marries Greek shipping tycoon Aristotle Onassis. The marriage comes as a total surprise to the American public, and results in a terrible backlash against her and also makes her the number one target of paparazzi for years.
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