Old New York In Photos #84 – West End Avenue 60th Street 1927 & Now

How West End Avenue & 60th Street Has Changed Over The Last 90 Years

One word describes this transformation – drastic.

Judge for yourself.

Our first photograph looking north and west on West End Avenue from 60th Street was taken by Percy Sperr on May 20, 1927. Sperr photographed the city endlessly during the 1920s and 1930s and preserved many views of common scenes and places that other photographers would rarely chronicle.

The Belgian block paved street and rail tracks that line West End Avenue from 60th Street stretch as far as the eye can see. Continue reading

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“Fast” Eddie Clarke Motörhead’s Greatest Guitarist

Some Highlights Of The Late, Great, “Fast” Eddie Clarke, Guitarist Of Motörhead

The “classic” Motorhead line-up on stage circa 1980 (l-r) Phil Taylor, Eddie Clarke & Lemmy Kilmister photo: Simon Fowler

When “Fast” Eddie Clarke (October 5, 1950 – January 10, 2018), guitarist with Motörhead from 1976-1982 died from pneumonia last week at the age of 67, it closed the book on what many consider Motörhead’s greatest line-up.

In the space of a little over two years, Eddie Clarke, singer-bassist and founder Lemmy Kilmister and drummer Phil “Philthy Animal” Taylor, all died.

The trio put out albums that are considered the high points of Motörhead’s career: Motörhead (1977), Bomber (1979), Overkill (1979), Ace of Spades (1980), No Sleep ’til Hammersmith (Live 1981) and Iron Fist (1982).

After being forced out or leaving Motörhead in 1982 (stories conflict on the departure), “Fast” Eddie formed Fastway with bassist Pete Way of UFO. Continue reading

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“Good Acting Is Like Good Love-Making” – Old Time Movie Stars Reflect On Acting

 Actors Talking About Acting

Heartbreak Pair in New Air Epic – William Holden reaches new stellar heights as a flying cadet whose career is temporarily shattered through his love for Veronica Lake in Paramount’s “I Wanted Wing” an Arthur Hornblow, Jr., production based on the Army Air Corps training and tactics. Blonde and sultry newcomer, Miss Lake, plays menace in piece. photo – Paramount studios

William Holden – “The best actors I know have no style but that of genuine professionalism. They act each role according to the script. And if they do have a style, it is so much a part of their personality it can’t be noticed.” (Atlanta Constitution April 22, 1956)

If you hear people lament that today’s movie stars don’t stack up to the old stars, there are probably many reasons for the lack of charisma or star power today. Regardless of their approach to acting, the old-time Hollywood stars all had one thing in common: they came through the studio system, where they were trained and “groomed” to be and act like movie stars. How each actor accomplished that varied from actor to actor.

Whatever techniques they used to develop their acting style; “The Method,” “Chekhov,” or simply showing up and knowing your lines, movie stars usually could provide philosophy or insight into their craft when being interviewed by the press. Whether they had honed their skills on the legitimate stage or come straight from a farm, to be a star you had to learn and understand something about acting.

Here are twelve old time movie stars expressing their views, sometimes simple other times profound, about acting.

Veronica Lake – “I’m no great actress. I just had a movie job dumped into my lap, the public seemed to like me, and that’s all there was to it.”  (Wide World Features May 3, 1942)

Rod Steiger – “Good acting is like good love-making. Leave yourself alone and explore. Do it. Don’t watch yourself do it. Don’t think about yourself doing it. You just go from moment to moment. But don’t take anything for granted either, especially not in acting. That’s when you get your ass kicked.” (Los Angeles Times  September 15, 1994)

Yul Bryner – “I’m not of the can-kicking, shovel-carrying, ear-scratching, torn T-shirt school of acting. There are very few real men in the movies these days. Yet being a real man is the most important quality an actor can offer on the screen.”  (Detroit Free Press April 27, 1958)

Paul Muni – “Acting is a scientific art. It’s a matter of trial and error. You try out your effects like a man who is experimenting on a new chemical formula. I enjoy the experimenting.”  (Boston Globe Feb. 6, 1949)

Barbara Stanwyck on accepting the role of the “no good” Phyllis Dietrichson in Double Indemnity – “Once I said yes I was awfully glad. During the making of it Fred (MacMurray) would go to the rushes. I remember once the next day he said, ‘You’re not acting, you’re enjoying it.’ And I remember saying ,’Fred, really, how was i?’  And very candidly he looked at me and said, ‘I don’t know about you- but I was wonderful!’ And that was such a true remark. Actors only look at themselves.”  (Los Angeles Times April 5, 1987)

Spencer Tracy – “I’ve always played the same character. Larry Olivier says the way to act is learn your lines and get on with it. I’m Spencer Tracy with some deference to the character. When a person says he’s an actor – he’s a personality. The whole idea is to show your personality. There are people who are much better technically, but who cares?  Nobody cares.” (Los Angeles Times  November 18, 1962) Continue reading

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Babe Ruth & Gary Cooper Welcome Visitors On The Set of The Pride Of The Yankees

Babe Ruth and Gary Cooper Get A Visit From Former Yankee Bob Meusel & His Daughter

When Babe Ruth played himself in the classic film The Pride of The Yankees (1942) he had not played for seven years. Since his retirement, Ruth’s weight had ballooned to 270 pounds. The Babe wanted to look good for the film, not that he would ever look as svelte as Gary Cooper, starring as Babe’s teammate Lou Gehrig, but at least he tried.

Before filming began Babe went on a diet and shed over 47 pounds to look more like he did in his playing days.

Some former Yankee teammates appeared for short cameos including Bill Dickey, Mark Koenig and Bob Meusel. Continue reading

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New York in the 1920’s & 30’s as Seen by Luigi Kasimir – Part 2

Six More Views of New York City From The 1920s & 30s by Artist Luigi Kasimir

New York City skyline as seen from Central Park. Etching by Luigi Kasimir

Seven years ago we featured the art work of Luigi Kasimir.

In the first half of the 20th century Kasimir was admired by peers and critics in the art world. His name has been forgotten in the 21st century by most people, except New York art aficionados.

Luigi Kasimir was born in 1881 in the Austrian-Hungarian Empire and later came to New York where he repeatedly captured the architectural sights of the city. Kasimir is best known for his detailed etchings, many of which were done in color, which apparently was not the norm for early 20th century etchings.  The New York Times distinguished Kasimir from other etchers of the time at a contemporary exhibition in 1926 by referring to him as a “colorist.” These aquatints have a vibrancy that makes the New York of the 1920’s and 1930’s come alive.  Kasimir was prolific and produced hundreds of works until his death in 1962.

We thought it was worth taking another look at Kasimir’s delightful scenes of New York. So here are six additional etchings of Luigi Kasimir’s New York City.

(click on any etching to enlarge.)

Wall Street, April 1936 Continue reading

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New Yorkers Welcome In The New Year 1907 – But No Horn Blowing Allowed!

New Year’s Celebration 1907 – New York Police Commissioner Bans Horn Blowing

A photographer from the Montauk Photo Concern decided to photograph the scene inside the Cafe Martin, at 26th Street and Fifth Avenue on New Year’s Eve December 31, 1906.

As midnight approached the revelers at Cafe Martin noisily whooped it up, raised their glasses and toasted the coming New Year of 1907. This photograph captures a singular moment: right before the stroke of midnight the lights were put out and at exactly twelve, were put on again. The guests then sang along as the band broke into the Star Spangled Banner. Afterwards guests blew horns and confetti was strewn everywhere. Young men filled with the idea of making a speech got up on chairs and spoke to the heart’s content without anyone to stop them.

The guests, all elegantly attired, look like they are having an extraordinary time.

Outside the restaurant it was supposed to be quieter. A city ordinance forbidding horn blowing in the streets had been on the books for years. Earlier in the day Police Commissioner Theodore Bingham informed the newspapers that the bells of Trinity and Grace Church would be heard when they tolled the midnight hour.

Bingham instructed the police to enforce the noise law. All horn blowing was prohibited on New Year’s Eve! Continue reading

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45 Years Ago President Truman Died – Remembering A Man of Conviction and Courage

Harry Truman Died December 26, 1972 At Age 88.

Some Words About and From President Truman

Here’s how the CBS Evening News covered the death of the 33rd President of the United States, Harry S. Truman. This three minute clip reflects the simplicity of Harry Truman.

Throughout his life Harry Truman spoke his mind and was honest and ethical, highly unusual traits for a politician.

How much of a straight shooter was Harry Truman? The following story clearly illustrates it.

President Nixon tours Truman Library with President Truman March 21 1969 photo: Harry S. Truman Library

When he retired from public life in 1953, President Truman and his wife Bess moved into his mother-in-law’s house in Independence, MO. They had almost no money.

Truman had been offered many jobs, but turned them all down. Truman had not exploited his fame or former power of the high office he had held for monetary gain.

“I could never lend myself to any transaction, however respectable, that would commercialize on the prestige and dignity of the office of the presidency,” Truman would later write of his refusal to influence-peddle to get by.

No president received a pension until 1958 when Congress established a law giving former presidents a pension of $25,000 per year.

Truman would frequently recite this prayer…and mean it:

“Oh! Almighty and Everlasting God, Creator of Heaven, Earth and the Universe: Help me to be, to think, to act what is right, because it is right; make me truthful, honest and honorable in all things; make me intellectually honest for the sake of right and honor and without thought of reward to me. Give me the ability to be charitable, forgiving and patient with my fellowmen—help me to understand their motives and their shortcomings—even as Thou understandest mine! Amen.”

To get a sense of Harry Truman, Continue reading

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Old New York In Photos #83 – Macy’s & Surroundings 1905

Around Macy’s Herald Square – The Greatest Store In The World 1905

This high definition photograph of Macy’s department store was taken by the Detroit Publishing Company in 1905. Macy’s led the march of modern department stores uptown, moving from their Sixth Avenue and 14th Street location where they had been since the 1858. The “Greatest Store in the World,” opened at the Herald Square location on Saturday, November 8, 1902.

We are looking west from the Sixth Avenue elevated station along Broadway with 34th Street on the left and 35th Street on the right.

Above is the color postcard that was created from this photograph.

Let’s take a close-up view of Macy’s and the surrounding area from our photograph. Click to enlarge any photo.

In the immediate foreground on the extreme right is a small portion of the New York Herald Building with a large owl, wings spread, perched at the corner.

James Gordon Bennett, and later James Jr., owners of the Herald, had a thing for owls. The Herald building was adorned with many of them. Mechanical owls attached to the clock had their eyes illuminated and would light up when the Herald clock struck the hour.

The Herald Building is long gone, but Herald Square retains its name and two of the original owls are still in Herald Square. They are part of a monument to  James Gordon Bennett and the newspaper he founded. And yes the owls eyes still light up.

Looking past the Herald Building down 35th Street is the loading bay of Macy’s. Delivery trucks of all type congregate here, including an ice wagon. Continue reading

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Old New York In Photos #82 – Central Park Mall c. 1870

The Mall In Central Park & The American Elms

Central Park was once young and so were its trees. We are looking south from 72nd Street in this rare circa 1870 stereoview photograph. You can see the American elm trees along both sides of the Mall that had been planted only a decade before. If you’ve been along this famous stretch of the park, you know that the trees are a constant – always the same year after year for over 100 years. To see the trees at this height is a startling sight. Continue reading

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Classic Hollywood #66 – Rudolph Valentino Goes To Court In Costume

Rudolph Valentino Is Not Acting, He’s Actually In Court – 1925

Rodolfo Alfonso Raffaello Pierre Filibert Guglielmi di Valentina d’Antonguella – aka Rudoplh Valentino, one of the world’s biggest film stars in 1925.

As big as a film star Valentino was it would not prevent him from being compelled to show up in court against his wishes to answer a speeding violation. His crime: going 38 in a 20 mile per hour zone in Santa Monica.

The news caption reads:

Valentino in Court in Screen Costume – Fined $50

Rudolph Valentino, failing in an attempt to have a representative answer speeding charges in court asked to have court held at his studio pleading business pressure. Justice Marchetti became angered demanded Valentino’s appearance and fined him $50. Photo of “The Sheik” in the costume of his latest screen vehicle – 9-11-25 (photo Wide World)

Valentino was not being a prima donna asking the court to come to the studio. Shutting down production for one day of the film he was starring in, “The Eagle” would cost $10,000. More importantly the people who could least afford it, all the extras involved in the filming, would have lost a days wages

On September 8 Justice Marchetti said, “I am sorry that anyone should lose money or be inconvenienced, but the court can show no partiality. Before the law a famous actor is in the same situation as anyone else. The dignity of the law would be compromised, the courts would be made a laughing stock, were I to set up legal machinery in a studio.” Continue reading

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