Reynaldo Luz was a Peruvian fashion illustrator who worked for Harper's Bazaar from 1923-1950, and also did freelance work for Vogue, Vanity Fair, and assorted commercial campaigns, like this one for Woodbury's 1941 Face Powder line. I! Love! Each of these! Let's start out with my favorite of the bunch:
One of thirties' cinemas most exciting faces, exotic Merle Oberon actually had a far more interesting real-life backstory than any of the on-screen dramas in which she appeared. Born illegitimate and half-caste in Bombay, India as "Queenie" O'Brien, Oberon hid her mixed heritage and nationality in publicity releases, alternately claiming New Zealand or Tasmania as her former home, as she ascended to movie stardom. Oberon appeared with Charles Laughton in The Private Lives of Henry XVIII as Anne Boleyn, in (oh my God, one of my all-time favorite thirties' movies, period) Wuthering Heights as Cathy, with a devastatingly handsome Laurence Olivier, and as gender-bending authoress George Sand in A Song to Remember with Cornel Wilde. Her marriage to powerful British director/producer Alexander Korda established her place in Hollywood society and she spent most of her life as one of the best dressed and most elegant hostesses on the California coast. I love the way Luz has highlighted and even exaggerated a little her porcelain doll good looks and those startling hazel eyes. Ugh! I want to hang this in my house somewhere! The yellow of her dress contrasted with the dun-colored background and the red of her lipstick...it's just gorgeous.
It's funny that I like Loy's ensemble the best, but the likeness is actually the least comparable to the subject of all of these glamour portraits. I've mentioned before that Myrna Loy's appearance in the series of Thin Man movies cemented her as one of the top female box office draws of the thirties' and forties'. She was crowned "Queen of Hollywood", with Clark Gable sharing the regency with her as King of Hollywood, in 1936...you can see this adorable video for the coronation. I love her wry, piping little voice almost as much as her perfectly symmetrical, cat-like face, but there's something about the bone structure here that isn't soft enough for her features. The auburn curls are pretty, though! Loy is an "All-American Beauty Blend"-- a lovely blend of blonde and brunette strains". Aha! I have found my Woodbury Face Powder color! Though they don't make it anymore, you can see some of the gorgeous vintage compacts it used to come in here.
Virginia Bruce was married to my silent movie star super crush, John Gilbert, towards the end of his life, and appeared with him in the movie Downstairs. Look at how Art Deco the lines of this portrait are and how elegant the color blocking of the dress to the bodice are. Also, those golden curls looks just like buttercream. ..the texture of them in the portrait!
Dolores del Rio:
I used to have a photocopy of a picture of Dolores del Rio hanging on the front of my locker in high school, from Jeanne Basinger's book Silent Stars, I think. What a beauty! Again, Luza has chosen to highlight those high cheekbones instead of putting her full face with those arresting, pitch dark eyes, but such is life. I like the warm hues of her pink dress and green beaded bracelet. Though she came to Hollywood in the twenties' and was married to MGM art director Cedric Gibbons for the whole of the thirties', by 1941, she was divorced and dating the younger, wunderkind Orson Welles in his prime (here they are at an opening for Citizen Kane..looking surprised!). He said the nicest things about her in his memoir, Welles on Welles, which was comprised of a series of conversations the auteur had with director and film historian Peter Bogdanovich, about her...oh, I wish I could remember what the brand was...but her custom made step-ins and lingerie, and the traditional Mayan jewelry she would wear with her evening dresses. How nice to be remembered in such glowing terms!
Brenda Joyce represents a rare gap in my Hollywood film knowledge of that time period. I learned that she was in four Tarzan movies opposite Johnny Weissmuller, and appeared in 1939's The Rains Came with fellow Woodbury beauty, Myrna Loy. Something about her wistful gaze in this portrait reminds me of some fifties' lady writer, but I can't remember who.
Here are all but one of the stars in color photography. Isn't Merle Oberon just the most striking thing?
If you're interested in this style of painting, Luza's earlier, more Deco illustrations are even better. Could these be more beautiful?
Which one of the Woodbury acting beauties does your complexion most resenble? Which do you think is the fairest of them all? Have you seen any movies with these actresses in them lately? Been hog wild over any thirties' film personalities or artists? Let's talk!
That's all for today. See you guys back here tomorrow for Photo Friday!