Classic Hollywood #37

Lilian Harvey – “I Am Suzanne” 1934

Lilan Harvey 1934 I Am SuzanneLilian Harvey was born Helene Lilian Muriel Pape on January 19, 1906 in England. Her mother was British and her father German and Lilian was schooled in Switzerland. Lilian became a leading star in Germany in the 1920’s and 1930’s.

A Hungarian nobleman once offered to give Lilian a castle and a whole village to go along with it. Speaking 13 different languages, Lilian was able to make films in four. She left Germany permanently after the outbreak of World War II.

In the early 1930’s Lilian signed a contract with Fox and made a few American films. I Am Suzanne!, a 1934 film directed by Rowland Lee did nothing to further her American career. By 1941 she was retired from film acting.

Lilian later moved to France and set up a souvenir shop and sold edible snails. Lilian Harvey died in Antibes, France July 27, 1968 at the age of 61.

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How Much Did A Working Girl Need To Live On In 1922?

According To One Report – A Miniscule $468 Per Year Would Supply A Working Girl “All The Necessities Of Life.”

1922 Women Dressed NicelyIn 1922, a single working woman could live comfortably on $9 per week and, $17 a week with “luxuries” according to a report issued by the Minimum Wage Commission of Massachusetts.

Even without debt, an annual salary of $468 would barely keep you at subsistence level. $884 would afford you the luxuries of life? Talk about underestimating the needs of the working poor.

The New York Tribune of August 26, 1922 sarcastically mocks the report, as being completely unrealistic.

BOSTON, Aug. 25 – If you are a working girl, $9 a week is enough to supply you with all the necessities of life, according to an investigation just completed by Miss Ethel M. Johnson, assistant commissioner of the Minimum Wage Commission of Massachusetts, who fails to set down for public information just how much she, herself, is contented to earn for her services. For $17 a week the working girl should be able to keep herself well supplied with all the reasonable luxuries of life.

In order to live on the commission’s wage you are supposed, if you are a working girl, to make one pair of corsets last two years and a $2.98 kimono must be stretched over five
years of service.

Your principal recreation should be semi-annual trips to the dentist, and you may contribute 7 cents a week to charity, presumably that which does not begin at home.

According to the commission’s budget, you should spend $154.92 for your clothes and $1 a day for three meals –  breakfast, 25 cents; lunch, 30, and dinner 45. Your one dress and two hats should go through the 365 days- but your heavy coat, costing $40 is supposed to last three winters.

You must not have more than three union suits a year and six pairs of stockings Miss Johnson says few working girls know how to spend their money. “Working women waste most of their money because they actually do not know how they are spending it. They spend §1.50 for a jar of face cream and then quiet their consciences by saving 40 cents a week on cheap lunches.”

By the way, $468 in 1922 adjusted for inflation is equivalent to $6,608 in 2014 dollars.

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In 1961 Dr. Richard W. Hamming Predicted The Harmful Effects of Computer Technology

Loss Of Privacy, Pooling Of Data And The Slow Blurring Of The Distinction Between Human And Machine “Thinking.”

Richard W. Hamming photo: Naval Postgraduate School

Richard W. Hamming photo: Naval Postgraduate School

In 1961, scientist and mathematician Dr. Richard W. Hamming of Bell Telephone Laboratories, had enormous foresight in predicting that computers would soon change our lives in ways that few people could have imagined half a century ago.

Dr. Hamming saw the future improvements that the computer revolution would bring, but he also warned of the coming dangers in that revolution.  Looking back at his insights today you will find them eerily accurate. In many ways Dr. Hamming merely scraped the surface on many of his suppositions.

Today we are all aware that marketers are tracking your movements on the internet. Unless you’ve set up blockers, all your clicks, all your searches, every site you visit is captured and analyzed. Big Data firms want that information, supposedly just to market to you. The government, banks, schools, brokerage firms, doctor’s offices, pharmacies, and merchants all collect information that you are obliged to provide in order to receive services. You just hope your information is secure and not compromised.

But then you voluntarily share information on Facebook, Twitter and Linked-In. We know that the information we provide is used to compile an aggregate online portrait of our lives that is available for the world to peer into and that includes stalkers, thieves and hackers and yet we still provide it!

Which leads us back to a symposium held in December 27-29, 1961 on “Man and the Computer” at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science held in Denver, CO. At the symposium Dr. Hamming’s observations were listened to attentively and the New York Times interviewed him afterwards. Summarizing  Hamming’s observations:

While computers will surely benefit mankind in ways not yet dreamed of he said, certain harmful effects of the computer revolution can be foreseen. One example he gave was a reduction in individual privacy that would be possible with the increasing storage of personal records even travel information in computers.

A major concern is that a growing amount of personal information was being committed to the memory of machines: various data collected by Selective Service; Social Security, Internal Revenue, insurance companies, places of employment, medical services and even airline companies.

“How do we know that this is always being used for the benefit of the individual?” he asked, “How can we be sure that this information will not be used against a person?”

Continue reading

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Old New York In Photographs #44

Western Union Telegraph Building 1880

Broadway looking south Western Union Building 1880This view looking south on Broadway was taken from the Old Post Office in 1880 and shows a deserted stretch of the usually traffic clogged thoroughfare.

The building partially seen on the right side is the Astor House Hotel. Adjacent to the Astor with the columns is St. Paul’s Chapel. The tall structure further down Broadway is Trinity Church with its spire rising 281 feet. This was the highest point in New York until the World Building was built in 1890.

The main building dominating the photo at the corner of Broadway and Dey Street is the Western Union Telegraph Building designed by architect George B. Post. At 230 feet, it was one of the tallest commercial buildings in the city when it was built from 1872-1875. To put this tremendous height in perspective, this was four times the height of the average New York building. On top of the building’s flagstaff a time ball was perched which would drop precisely at noon, so everyone in the surrounding financial area could set their watch to the correct time.

The telegraph was still the predominant way to get a message to someone quickly. To send a telegram with the body message being ten words or less from New York to Baltimore or Boston cost 25¢; to Chicago 40¢ and to San Francisco $1.00.

Western Union Building Fire - New York Evening World

Western Union Building Fire – New York Evening World

As the night shift of telegraph operators and workers was letting out at 6:55 a.m. on Friday, July 18, 1890 the Western Union Building caught fire.

The fire broke out on the 6th floor and quickly spread to the upper floors. Firefighters arrived within six minutes of the first alarm being turned in. Continue reading

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Hockey Legend Jean Beliveau Dies At 83

Jean Beliveau – The Epitome Of Grace And Power

Jean Beliveau puts his arms around teammates Ken Dryden and Frank Mahovlich following their victory over the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 6 of the 1971 Stanley Cup Finals on May 16, 1971, at the Montreal Forum. photo: B Bennett / Toronto Star

Jean Beliveau, who won 10 Stanley Cup championships playing for the Montreal Canadiens from 1951-1971 died Tuesday, December 2, 2014 in Longueuil, Quebec at the age of 83.

Beliveau was among the smoothest and fastest skaters I have ever seen. His hockey skills were extraordinary in every way. He dominated the game like only a handful of players have ever done. He had a wrist shot that was keenly accurate and was among the best play-makers to ever lace up a pair of skates in the NHL.

Jean Beliveau (No. 4) scores a goal against the Toronto Maple Leafs October 15 , 1959. Goalie is Johnny Bower. Canadiens won the game 4-2 - photo: UPI

Jean Beliveau (No. 4) scores a goal against the Toronto Maple Leafs October 15 , 1959. Goalie is Johnny Bower. Canadiens won the game 4-2 – photo: UPI

Beliveau amassed 507 goals and 712 assists in 1125 games. In 162 career playoff games he tallied 176 points. A two-time Hart Trophy (league MVP) winner, he was the captain of the Montreal  Canadiens for the final ten seasons of his career.

Besides his greatness as a player, what people will remember about Jean Beliveau was that he was a modest gentleman, both on and off the ice.

Teammates, opposing players, coaches and fans respected and admired Jean Beliveau. He carried himself with class, the way few athletes do nowadays.

Adieu, Jean Believeau.

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Increase Your Bust Ad – 1915

Same Scam As Today, Perpetrated 100 Years Ago

Ad Increase Your Bust world almanac 1915 0115

World Almanac 1915 ad

Before plastic surgery and breast implants became the way to change your natural assets, there were charlatans preying upon young girls and women’s insecurities. Growing up I remember reading magazines in the 1970’s and 80’s and constantly seeing the ads saying you can increase your bust size with creams, ointments or exercises. Most of the ads did not describe exactly how the transformation would occur.

Well this scam has been going on for a lot longer than you may think .

This full page advertisement above from the 1915 World Almanac placed by Mrs. Louise Ingram of Toledo, Ohio proclaims to the hopeful, that they can attain a bust of beautiful proportions, firmness, and exquisite development by writing to her.

The ads Mrs. Ingram took out in newspapers and magazines from 1912-1915 taunt women with jabs like, “Why should any woman neglect an opportunity to escape the pain and heartache of being skinny, scrawny, and unattractive in body? For why should there be that pitiful aspect – the face of a woman and the form of a man?”

ad mrs louise ingram bust developmentIf you replied, a sales pitch would arrive in your mailbox to sell you a concoction that would accomplish absolutely nothing but separate you from your money.

No, you would not get a perfect bust and figure, but you would be counted on not to tell anyone that you fell for such quackery and Mrs. Ingram would continue her scamming ways.

So not that much has changed in 100 years, the scams have mostly migrated from print to the internet and now the hucksters have doubled the playing field. While continuing to sell “increase your bust” devices and creams, they have tapped into the self-perceived shortcomings of men.

Insecurities will always fuel this market and so the ads will continue. As David Hannum, not P.T. Barnum said, “There’s a sucker born every minute.”

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Classic Hollywood #36

 Joan Collins In A Bikini 1950’s

Joan Collins in bikini 1950sI’m not sure which production this is from, but when I first came across this photograph of Joan Collins from the 1950’s my first reaction was just “wow.” I don’t think I’ve seen her looking any better than this.

The two early films from this period I remember Joan starring in were The Girl in The Red Velvet Swing, which told the story of Evelyn Nesbit, Stanford White and Harry Thaw and Land of the Pharaohs, both from 1955. They are mediocre films and Joan does an admirable job in both.

Arguably Joan’s best acting performance came not as a star of the TV show Dynasty but as a guest star in one of the best written episodes of the original Star Trek, playing Sister Edith Keeler in The City on the Edge of Forever.

Joan has remained a Hollywood presence for over 60 years and shows no signs of slowing down having appeared in four productions in 2014. Joan Collins will turn 82 on May 23, 2015.

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Things You Should Know If Visiting New York City In 1873

Thousands of children are imported from Italy each year to turn them into organ-grinders and street beggars.

12 Helpful Hints And Notes From 1873

Standing on Broadway by New York City Hall circa 1870

A tourist standing on Broadway by New York City Hall circa 1870

From the wordily titled – Wood’s Illustrated Handbook To New York and Environs: A Guide For The Traveller or Resident With Minute Instructions For Seeing The Metropolis In One or More Days Together With Numerous Valuable Hints To Visitors On Nearly Every Topic That Arises Upon The Subject of Sight-Seeing, G.W. Carleton Publishers, 1873, we learn surprising things about New York City.

If you lost something of value in public there was an excellent chance that it would be returned to you.

Saturday was the fashionable day for ladies to attend public entertainments – alone!

Wood’s Handbook’s aim was to point out interesting things about New York City without preaching to the reader.

As the guidebook says;

We think the sight-seer may now be safely left with the “Handbook ” to the guidance of the Index and Map and to his own inclinations and judgment.

He will speedily discover that our object in the preparation of this volume has been not to confuse and weary him by stale remarks and hackneyed observations about this or that, but to put him in a position to see, and admire, and criticize from his own stand-point of taste and opinion. We think the sight-seer requires ready hints, not stupid essays; and if we conduct him to a remarkable locality or a well-known structure, he will not care to have us stand perpetually at his elbow telling him what to admire, and what he ought not to be pleased with.

Since the book contains no “hackneyed observations,” the section called “helpful hints” are what we thought were worth highlighting rather than the sights to be seen.

From among the many listed, we have culled, a dozen of the helpful hints for visiting New York:

1- A GLASS OF BRANDY, in an emergency, can be obtained at any apothecary. No wines, ales, or liquors are permitted to be sold in New York at any bar on Sunday. The guests of a hotel can be served with them, however, at table or in their rooms.

2- ORGAN-GRINDERS and STREET-BEGGARS — Thousands of children are annually exported from Italy to the United States for the purpose of making them organ-grinders and street-beggars, of whom a multiplicity are to be seen in New York. A bill has been brought before the Italian Parliament, designed to put a stop to this disgraceful traffic in children. It punishes with five years’ imprisonment all persons exporting children under twelve years of age to foreign countries, under any pretext. Continue reading

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Old New York In Photographs #43

Giant Times Square Advertising Billboards Of The Past

New York's Times Square at night 60 Years ago, 1954 photo: Charles Shaw

New York’s Times Square at night 60 Years ago, 1954 photo: Charles Shaw

The New York Times article about the new eight story high, block long, LED illuminated billboard that will be put into use on Tuesday night, November 18, 2014, made me think about some of the classic advertising signs that were in place during the 1940’s and 1950’s at the crossroads of the world.

Bond Clothiers sign, 1948, Times Square looking north

Bond Clothiers sign, 1948, Times Square looking north

Chief among these ads was the dramatic Bond Clothiers sign taking up the entire Broadway block between 44th and 45th Streets. The 200 foot wide, 50 foot high billboard was brightly lit up at night and had a waterfall cascading between the two large scantily clad statues flanking it. The figures appeared nude during by day and had electric lights draped around them which produced a quasi-covering effect on the statues when the lights went on.

With two miles of neon, it was a colorful spectacle to behold in person, especially at nigTimes Square 1948 Bond Clothiers at night billboardht. The sign was only up from 1948-1954.

We previously showed what the area looked like at night in our story about the giant New York snowstorm of 1948.

The Bond sign replaced an earlier sign for Wrigley’s Spearmint Gum that also was breathtaking with its neon aquatic design. Designed by Dorothy Shepard, it occupied the site from about 1936 to 1948.

Times Square Wrigleys Billboard sign Ad postcardThe other billboard Continue reading

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Brooklyn’s Green-Wood Cemetery Epitaphs

To Be Remembered – Some Thoughts About Inscriptions On Tombstones

Green wood Henry Croatman epitaph 1120840
 
Henry Croatman                                                  Eddie Brewster Croatman 
Born January 17 1845                                                Died Dec. 2, 1878
Died June 4, 1876                                                        Aged 19 Mo’s 26 Days
 
Come view the grave and drop a tear                           Budded on earth
O’er your kind brother once so dear                              To bloom in heaven
Who once delighted in your charms
But now he’s bound in deaths cold arms
 

When wandering around Green-Wood cemetery in Brooklyn I especially take note of  monuments with epitaphs. Rather than gravitate towards the costly and grand monuments that abound in great numbers, I am drawn to those anonymous graves with no known fame attached to them. It is interesting to see how these people, buried long ago, are eulogized in stone.

Green wood John F Abbott epitaph 1100936John F. Abbott
Died Sept. 23rd, 1857
Aged 23 Years and 10 Months
A Good Life Hath But Few Days
But A Good Name Endureth Forever

 

Many of these monuments mark the last resting spots of common people with unextraordinary lives. But we all have a story to tell. Tombstones try to do that. How can you sum up a person’s life with a few sentences?

Green wood Ann Lee epitaph 1160006A Tribute of Love to
My Dear Wife
ANN LEE
Died Feb. 25, 1887
Aged 58 Years
A fond and faithful wife,
A dear devoted mother,
And a kind friend to all
 

Without their simple marker and words engraved upon them, these people’s lives would go completely unrecognized. Today, it is hard to fathom that thought, considering all the information that is now collected and shared about us.

Green wood C Ella Ellison epitaph 1120836C. Ella Ellison
Wife of John T. Ellison
Born March 22, 1846
Died December 20, 1900
 
A Loving Daughter,
A Devoted Mother,
A Faithful Wife

 

Continue reading

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