I went over to my mom's house on Sunday to show her some of the vintage dresses I was considering for the wedding (again, there's one shining star of gown, but we're still looking next week), and on the way home, I rewarded myself for having taken a sackful of items to Music City Thrift by heading across the street on Due West to Robinson's Flea Market. I know I've mentioned it before, but I lo-o-o-ove the hidden treasure in that store. Sure, there might be bundles of socks or factory re-fitted vacuums in some booths, but I'm telling you, if you dig, there's gold in them thar hills. Lots of it! And boy, do I ever love looking for it.
Example: for the low, low price of $4.99, I found this 1950 movie star scrapbook, complete with oh-my-goodness-it's-adorable cover. I took some photos of the pages (I was afraid to scan them, as the pieces are delicate!), so come on and take a look at what's inside!
Honestly, they kind of had me at this terrifying looking nurse doll. But many scrapbooks are completely empty when you open them-- have you ever cracked one of their aged spines and been disappointed to see page after page of some 1950's child or mother or teenager's broken resolution to "keep up with that scrapbook"?
Well, not to worry! This young gal's sense of responsibility towards filling up these pages was great! I opened the very first page to see this:
The baton twirler on the left hand side of the page is a very young Janet Leigh! You can tell because the little girl has written her name in looping pencil over Leigh's white shorts. And on the right? Fresh-scrubbed and gorgeous Doris Day, as she appeared in the year of our Lord 1949. Look at those sparkling blue eyes on the former Miss Kappelhoff of Ohio:
Inside, every living page of the fifty or so leaves inside is meticulously filled out with clippings from movie star magazines. Sometimes advertisements are included, but mostly, the compiler seems to favor full-color spreads and publicity photos. Here's a jewelery counter at an unnamed department store (look at the mural!) and the every-dashing, future Kennedy intimate and Rat Packer Peter Lawford with a pencil mustache, no less!
As is often the case in pre-teen and teen star fandom, you can notice a particular interest the little girl has in one star, and that star is the up-and-coming-at-the-time Elizabeth Taylor. After her juvenile success in movies like Little Women, Jane Eyre, and National Velvet, the preternaturally beautiful actress moved on to more mature roles in her teens. Here are three full color pages of the seventeen or eighteen year old screen queen. Can you imagine looking like this (and possessed of that 36-21-36 figure that any living human would die for) as a junior in high school? Man, I seriously needed the MGM makeup and wardrobe team when I was clunking around Hume-Fogg in the early 2000's. Look what magic they can do, especially given such goods to work with!
Here's La Liz in a 1950 film that paired her with cute-i-tude Van Johnson, The Big Hangover. So young! So raven haired! So batwing-browed!
Other favorites of the album-maker include swimming sensation Esther Williams. The main thing I remember off the top of my head about EW was that her memoir, The Hollywood Mermaid, is practically too hot to handle...! But these photos focus on her role as a doting mother rather than a backlot firecracker. The "babby" (as he is adorably referred to in our album-maker's handwriting on the second photo below) is first-born son "Benjy".
I'm about halfway through Yvonne DeCarlo's self-titled memoir, and she mentions one of her early dancing gigs, post-obscurity but pre-major stardom, as having been at Los Angeles location of Earl Carroll's famous night club. Here's a photo of some of the dancing girls there. Look at what the neon sign outside the building looked like! What glamour, what glamour.
Look at Frank Sinatra when he was young and handsome and s-k-i-n-n-y! Still growing into those ears. I love his two tone jacket and bowtie, too sharp.
This clip caught my eye as it's promoting two young starlets, Jean Hagen (in the foreground) and MARILYN MONROE (in the background). This is a terrible shot of either of the glamorous girls...MM isn't even in focus! In 1950, Monroe was still a few years off from reaching for-real fame, though she did appear as George Sander's lovely, empty-headed date in All About Eve. It's kind of exciting to see stars on their way up in these old fan magazines, and the would-be actresses who, in spite of the publicity machine, never really made it too far along. There are some strips in the front of the album with whole half dozens of actresses I don't recognize from Adam (and that's saying something, if you know about me and movies!).
Bette Davis in a terrible wig and terribly miscast in 1949's noir clunker Beyond the Forest. Joseph Cotten looks comatose and he has every right to be. At least this movie gave us the classic "What a dump" line that Elizabeth Taylor would revist in the opening scene of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
There are so many pictures of movie stars at home and with children that it really made me think about how publicists specifically sell their clients to two major movie-going audiences-- housewives and young people, both of which would be prone to daydreaming about how good a father James Mason would be (see the first photo) or what it would be like to live in Alan Ladd's home (answer: colorful! See the second photo) or what Gene Kelly's wife looks like (as you can see in the third photo, pretty! And, as I realize I've read every movie star memoir ever, I can recommend her book as well...I think I read it all in a day, the early romance of Kelly as a New York choreographer and she as teenage dancer is just mesmerizing).
Kirk Douglas, looking determined:
Betty Grable, looking leggy:
Tony Curtis, looking exotic:
Have a great Wednesday, we're almost to the end of this week! I'll see you tomorrow.