Thursday, October 24, 2013

Photoplay Movie Star Clippings (1938)

Good morning!

Lovely Carole Lombard

Well, I'll tell you-- I don't know if it's the cold weather or what, but it has been such a wackadoodle week here at the library I am just barely making it through! One of the things that makes on-desk, non-patron helping time more bearable? The ever-giving Media History Project archive, which, if you recall from my having mentioned it in the past, is A TREASURE TROVE of full-scanned items from Hollywood's golden era, spanning as far back as the teens and as far forward as 1938. Yesterday, I digitally "clipped" some items from the 1938 volume and thought you fellow film fans might find them interesting. 

Take a look!

One feature brings cinephiles in on the cutting edge of what's going on at the studios, and don't I love the on-set photographs of  budding or established stars! Here, an impossibly young Hepburn is paired with an as-always slickly handsome Cary Grant (in glasses!) for their forthcoming February 1938 release, the screwball classic Bringing Up Baby. This was the second of four movies they would make together-- they'd previously been paired on-screen for Hepburn's gender-bending title role in Sylvia Scarlett, and they would meet again on screen for late 1938's Holiday and 1941's The Philadelphia Story. As pretty as Hep' looks in this photo, I'm reminded of gossip journalist/Grant girlfriend Maureen Donaldson's indiscreet memoir, An Affair to Remember: My Life with Cary Grant. Watching one of their old movies together, Maureen remarked on how beautiful KH looked on screen, all high cheekbones, to which Grant replied something along the lines of "Oh, Maureen, she looks exactly like a horse in real life and you know it." Sheesh! Eye of the beholder, I guess. They both look devastatingly glamorous to me in this shot!

1938 is the year of the hand, apparently, as Photoplay seems more than a little obsessed with both the back and the front of your favorite movie stars' hands. Palmistry, anyone? Our Joan's hands are "elastic" skinned, with honest and frank nails (I thought they looked a little sinister, but I'm no Taroist!). Tyrone Power's hands, left, give him away as "an impulsive, quick-witted, impatient person". There were further articles about the palms in later issues of the magazine, but I was mostly interested in La Crawford's witchy, pointed nails. Can you imagine making stuff like this up every week? Would keep a copywriter on their toes!

Dainty little late thirties' pumps...what is not to like about the cutouts on the ones backed in red, or the black and white starkness of the blue backgrounded pair? If you're a size seven, you can avail yourself to a pair of Vitality shoes on ebay right now! Oooh, but they look sassy. I'll hold out for a pair in my size (one can dream!). Here are some more pumps from Paris Fashion shoes...the heels are higher and the prices lower! A, um, heavily made up Betty Grable appears to the left of the advertisement, and I wish someone had laid off the color palette a little while tinting this black and white snap! Yeeks, that blush!

It's ok, though, I can revitalize my little peepers with a long look at a famous swashbuckler off screen and candid:

Errol Flynn, looking fittingly athletic in the midst of a tennis match...he's still one of my worst crushes. Flynn actually wrote a column for Photoplay which may or may not have been ghostwritten-- unlike most Hollywood actor/ "authors", the good looking period picture star actually harbored literary aspirations! He published a book called Beam Ends, based on some of his real life adventures on the high seas, in 1937 as well as a fiction book, Showdown, which appeared in 1946 (his My Wicked, Wicked Ways memoir was ghosted by friend Earl Conrad). Honestly, I just like to look at him.  (Update: Sharp-eyed Maureen has pointed out it's Wayne Morris and not Errol Flynn in the above photo! I guess I let all the Adventures of Robin Hood ballyhoo in the 1938 volume go to my head...also, PS, Wayne Morris, please fill out my thirties' dream date dance card, as you are too cute!)

Here's Hepburn again in a F-U-N coat and in about those sweeping oversized lapels and huge, color contrast buttons in black velvet? I would wear this, oh, now. On the next page, Joan reappears in another ensemble I'd like to snatch from hat to shoe. The hat! The gold braid! The drama! 1938 would have apparently been a very good year for me to be a movie fan (or Photoplay subscriber!).

Another thought, post Grant's badmouthing of Hepburn's looks, is on the glamour or lack thereof of poor Bette Davis. The actress often got called an "ugly duckling" among some of the swans of Tinseltown in the late thirties', but here she is at the height of her Warner Brothers years looking quite pretty in her hair and makeup as Julie from Jezebel! I love the inset of what looks to be the Davis of a few years earlier or so (same hair as Cabin in the Cotton or Dangerous, isn't it?)-- maybe she did another skin cream ad and they recycled the photos from that. There was a lot of gab about Davis, who at one time was in the running for the lead in Gone with the Wind, and her suitability or unsuitability towards that role, contemporaneous to this time period. Clark Gable, in something or other I can't source at the moment, famously said that the woman who played Scarlett O'Hara would have to be pretty enough to make it believable that Rhett had such semi-inexhaustible stores of patience and tenacity towards landing her as a mate, and specifically that Bette Davis was not possessed of that beauty. As much as I love how much of pistol Davis is onscreen, I don't know that I don't agree with him (especially seeing how perfect, P-E-R-F-E-C-T Vivien Leigh was in the final product).

Bette Davis talks a good game about having missed bagging the much-coveted role of Scarlett O'Hara by "this much" in sixties' interviews and her autobiography, but I don't think she ever came as near as she makes out to playing the century's best Southern belle. Her probably more-than-a-little-apocryphal story involves a snit with studio head Jack Warner, the possible loaning out of Errol Flynn as Rhett (that part I believe, but no one but Gable was seriously considered after Gable let on that he would even possibly play the lead), and the lost role of lifetime for the actress, who has a weird thing for Southern accents throughout her career (which...I'm sorry, being from the South, knowing some great Southern accents, is not nearly as impressive as La Davis would have us think). Still, what a firecracker of an ad for her Gone with the Wind-esque role in Jezebel, which landed her an Oscar that year. The plot-advancing red "debutante" dress photographs black in this black and white production, but here we get to see it in all its garnet glory. "Meanest when she's lovin' most!"

An exotic looking Dolores del Rio, whose career dated back to silents. In 1938, she was still married to MGM art director Cedric Gibbons, and a few years away from her red-hot affair with a young Orson Welles. Doesn't she look just like a Mayan princess in this Lucky Strike ad? The complicated dress and her regal good looks are distracting me from the oxymoronic cigarette ad in the back ground.

Loretta Young looking exactly as I would like to look in year of our Lord 1938. The green and violet combination! The deep emerald colored frou-frou hat! The slash of red lip! Oh, what I wouldn't give to copy this look wholesale.

There's a lot more to be seen on the Media History Project website-- what are you waiting for? Go check it out! Are there starlets or stars of this era that you particular seek out? What do you think about Bette Davis as Scarlett O'Hara? Are there any celebrities that everyone says is gorgeous whose appeal eludes you or who you think is just plain homely? Or vice versa, someone who is thought to be unattractive who you think is a regular glamour goddess? Let's talk!

That's all for today, but I'll see you back here tomorrow for Photo Friday! Have a great Thursday, and I'll see you then.


  1. Thanks for sharing these pictures! They're simply amazing!

    1. Neat, huh? I could look at these all day!!

  2. Thanks so much for these-I am a huge classic movie fan, so I will be checking out the Media History project.

    One thing, that picture is Wayne Morris, not Errol Flynn playing tennis. They sure look alike in that picture though! I just read My Wicked, Wicked Ways-I wondered if it had been ghosted :)

    1. You are 100% correct! I feel like a dumb-bell. I can't believe Wayne Morris used to be Errol Flynn handsome! :) Speaking as a fellow Flynn fanatic--there's a really neat book by Flynn's daughter, Rory, that includes her memories of her dad along with letters he wrote, The Baron of Mullholland Drive . Flynn's EXTREMELY well written and funny in the letters, they're mostly to Rory's mom when EF was off on his schooner, raising hell. It's an expensive buy, but I got my copy through interlibrary loan (and made a LOT of photocopies, lol) and it's really a good read! You should check it out.

  3. Don't feel like a dumb-bell-they do look very similar there! The only reason I caught it is I saw a movie with him, and was intrigued-he was very good looking so I did a bit of research on him. Thanks for the tip on Rory Flynn's book-I will see if I can also get it through ILL!

  4. I spend sooo much time looking through old issues of Photoplay. It's pathologic.

    While the photo may not be of Errol Flynn, I would just like to say that, I too, enjoy looking at that man. Seriously--has anyone been as handsome since?



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