Tag Archives: 1920s

Classic Hollywood #65 – Lillian Gish, Ethereal Beauty In The Dawn of Cinema

Lillian Gish – An Eight Decade Career in Entertainment

 

Lillian Gish, whom George Jean Nathan the eminent critic, has termed “the finest actress in motion pictures”, has again scored a signal triumph by her characterization of “Romola” in the Inspiration company’s production of George Eliot’s celebrated novel of the same name. Miss Gish spent a year in Florence, Italy making this picture, under the direction of Henry King. Photoplay reviewers have classed her work in “Romola” as fine as that of “The White Sister”. “Romola is a Metro-Goldwyn release. October 20, 1925

For longevity there are few stars that can rival Lillian Gish (October 14, 1893 – February 27, 1993).

The star of D. W. Griffith’s legendary Birth of a Nation (1915), Gish made her stage debut in 1898 and her final movie The Whales of August in 1987. In between those many years, Gish alternated between the stage, movies and television.

In 1914 theatrical producer David Belasco was quoted as saying that Lillian Gish “is the most beautiful blond he had ever seen.”

George Jean Nathan the critic who provided the quote in the news caption above was in love with Lillian Gish and the two dated for many years. In April 1925, Variety, the weekly theatrical paper, reported that the two were engaged to be married. Similar reports emerged in 1927. Gish and Nathan never  married and no reason or announcement was ever provided except that they were just “good friends.” Continue reading

When Hazel Was Young

Is That Really Hazel???

Once upon a time there were seven television channels to choose from in New York City. Before 1977 and the wide introduction of cable television every kid experienced the same TV shows and could talk about them with their peers.

Gilligan’s Island; I Dream of Jeannie; Mr. Ed; F-Troop; Green Acres; Bonanza, Star Trek, Family Affair; I Love Lucy; Batman; The Brady Bunch and so on. If it was being rebroadcast after school in syndication we saw it. That means kids also had little to choose from. Which means kids watched many bad TV shows. And that’s why I saw Hazel.

Hazel was one of the most annoying television series from the 1960s.

The star playing Hazel was Shirley Booth (1898-1992), Continue reading

Immigration Enforcement In 1921 & Immigration Battles Today

Immigrants Inspected – Keeping America “Safe” 1921

Immigrants Examined By New York City Health Officials For Typhus Symptoms

To ward off a possible spread of the dread typhus in New York, Dr. Royal S. Copeland, Health Commissioner, has assigned a squad of inspectors to examine all immigrants released from Ellis Island on their arrival in New York City. The immigrants must pass two inspections before being permitted to land. The Federal health authorities examine them at Ellis Isalnd and Dr. Copeland’s squad assisted by New York police round them up at the Battery and take them to a nearby ferry house where another examination is made. Several carriers of the typhus lice  according to reports have been discovered by the Copeland squad after the Ellis Island officials had permitted them to pass through.

The photo shows Dr. Copeland’s squad examining newly landed immigrants. photo: International News 2-14-21

Today there is much more than typhus to worry about when deciding who shall be admitted to the United States. “Extreme vetting” to thwart terrorists is one of the big debates. And of course there is that contentious issue of the estimated 11 million people that are in the United States illegally.

In all the arguments that have been brought up about amnesty for illegals, I have not seen anyone saying they are against legal immigrants and immigration. Continue reading

Old New York In Photos #66 – Brooklyn Bridge & The Manhattan Skyline At Night 1928

Under The Brooklyn Bridge & The Classic Manhattan Skyline At Night -1928

brooklyn-bridge-manhattan-skyline-at-night-1928The Brooklyn Bridge frames this unique view of lower Manhattan at night in 1928. The Woolworth Building (partially seen behind the tower of the bridge) was still the tallest building in the world.

In the center of the photo is the third tallest building in the world, the Singer Building at Liberty Street and Broadway. The second tallest building at the time was the Metropolitan Life Insurance Building on 23rd Street and Madison Avenue.

The next skyscraper to the left of the Singer Building is the Equitable Building. Just south of the Equitable with the pyramid shaped roof is the Bankers Trust Building.

Over the next four years Continue reading

Who Controls The News In Newspapers?

In 1960 Reporter / Author Gene Fowler Saw The Impending Danger of Who Decided What’s News In Newspapers

Gene Fowler wrote the following in 1960:

…the besetting evils of a haywire economy, as well as the reprisals exacted by ferocious minorities against anyone who prints unpleasant truths, has taken much of the do-and-dare spirit out of the makers of newspaper policies. When appeasement supplants editorial enterprise, and silences the outspoken criticism of evil men, the newspaper forfeits its character, loses its influence—and eventually its life. Public servants become public masters. All freedoms are endangered when that of the press is assailed.

Gene FowlerWe continue looking inside Gene Fowler’s book Skyline a reporter’s reminiscences of the 20’s (Viking) published in 1961 a year after Fowler’s death. Fowler makes several prescient observations about the newspaper business. His commentary is astute and he recognized the shifting danger of publishers, rather than editors controlling what gets reported. Fowler witnessed the trend of electronic media (radio & TV at the time) making newspapers irrelevant as the news cycle became hourly. (Now it is instantaneous.)

As more newspapers are controlled by publishers who have an agenda, publishing what is really news has become a very blurred subject.

You’ll hear the term “the liberal media,” “conservative media” or “the mainstream media” thrown about in policy and political discussions. We all know one thing for sure, there are many forms of media bias. But who really sets editorial policy for newspapers? Continue reading

Did Newspaper Writers Really Used To Say “Stop The Press?”

Stop The Press and Other Movie Cliches

Skyline by Gene FowlerReading Gene Fowler’s highly entertaining memoir Skyline a reporter’s reminiscences of the 20’s  (Viking) 1961, I came across Fowler’s description on how newspaper writers talked shop or in this case didn’t.

Apparently those old films which featured newspapers as their settings did not capture the true vernacular of the field or their subjects according to Fowler.

In one passage, Fowler relates the following story when he was assigned to Oyster Bay, New York to cover President Theodore Roosevelt’s death in 1919. Fowler had just finished relaying his story via telegraph.

“Sign me off,” I said to the telegraph operator. So far as I know, none of us (reporters) ever used the supposedly classic term “thirty” at the end of our stories. That, and several other words and phrases which occur in motion picture scripts, was not part of our supposed lingo. For example, I never heard one Park Row man describe another as a “star reporter.” And if one of us even telephoned in with the legendary cry of “Stop the press!” he would have been turned over at once to Dr. Menas Gregory of Bellevue, or else fired.

Fowler’s memoir is a paean to 1920s New York with the central narrative focusing on the great newspaper writers and editors, now mostly forgotten. Continue reading

He Never Hires Blondes or Women Under Thirty

A Businessman Gives His 6 Rules For Hiring Women In This 1920 Article.

women office workersThis sidebar article from the August 1920 American Magazine describes some rather unscientific and capricious decision making when it comes to hiring decisions.

The businessman who penned the article never factors into his six rules for hiring women any relevant facts such as previous work experience or skills.

According to the anonymous author, older, plainly dressed, short brunettes with non-drooping mouths, make better employees. It is amazing the author did not need to consult an astrological chart or crystal ball to finalize his decisions.

There are probably still some hiring managers who today use at least one of these criteria for their hiring decisions without admitting it to anyone.

Why I Never Hire Women Under Thirty

The Experiences of a Business Executive

My Six Rules For Hiring Women

1 I never hire any woman under thirty years of age. Business for men is not “a part of life,” it is life. In our company we want women who will regard it the same way.

2 I choose short compact women rather than tall ones. Generally speaking, short or middle-sized people, men and women both, have more vitality than big people. Many say I am wrong about this. Continue reading

The Most Unbelievable Ad You Ever Saw

This Unbelievable Ad Appeared in 1920

Get Rich Quick fake Ad American magazine 1920GLORIOUS OPPORTUNITY TO GET RICH QUICK
Invest in
THE CALIFORNIA RANCHING COMPANY
Now being organized to start a cat ranch in California.

We are starting a cat ranch in California with 100,000 cats. Each cat will average twelve kittens a year. The cat skins will sell for 30 cents each. One hundred men can skin 5,000 cats a day. We figure a daily net profit of over $10,000.

NOW WHAT SHALL WE FEED THE CATS?
We will start a rat ranch next door with 1,000,000 rats.  The rats will breed twelve times faster than the cats. So, we’ll have four rats to feed each day to each cat. Now what shall we feed the rats? We will feed the rats the carcasses of the cats after they have been skinned.

NOW GET THIS
We feed the rats to the cats, and the cats to the rats, and get the cat
skins for nothing. Shares are selling at 5 cents each, but the price will go up soon.

INVEST WHILE OPPORTUNITY KNOCKS AT YOUR DOOR
CALIFORNIA RANCHING COMPANY

So what’s the story here? This can’t be a real enterprise can it? The following story appeared in The American Magazine in 1920 explaining the ad.

The Savings & Trust Co. of Cleveland wanted to warn people about bad investments. Continue reading

Rare Photograph Of Game 7 Of The 1926 World Series At Yankee Stadium

Yankee Stadium On Edge As Waite Hoyt Pitches To Cardinals Slugger Rogers Hornsby

And The Story of The Strangest End To A World Series

1926 World Series Waite Hoyt pitching to Rogers Hornsby gm 7It is October 10, 1926 and it seems everyone is wearing a hat at game seven of the 1926 World Series at Yankee Stadium. Although the stadium looks packed, rainy, gray and chilly weather kept the attendance for the deciding game down to 38,093.

In this rare photo, Yankee star pitcher Waite Hoyt is unleashing a pitch to the Cardinals Rogers Hornsby. The Yankees would lose this game 3-2 and the game would include one of the most dramatic moments in World Series history and one of, if not the strangest play to end a World Series.

The drama occurred when Cardinals starter Jess Haines had loaded the bases in the bottom of the seventh with two outs and was lifted for the veteran pitcher Grover Cleveland Alexander.  Old Alex had pitched a complete game victory the day before and was tired, but relaxed as he came into the game to face Yankees slugger Tony Lazzeri. The crowd fell silent as Alexander demonstrated his mastery and struck out Tony Lazzeri ending the threat. Continue reading

Censored! What The Movies Couldn’t Show In 1921

An Incredible List of Things That Movies Were Not Allowed To Portray In 1921

Annette Kellerman the first "star" to do a nude scene 1916 "A Daughter of the Gods"

Famous swimmer, Annette Kellerman was the first “star” to do a nude scene 1916 “A Daughter of the Gods”

Looking at what was prohibited in the state of Maryland from being shown on movie screens in 1921 is overwhelming in its restrictiveness. It includes, but is not limited to: indecorous dancing; over passionate love scenes; exhibition of feminine underwear; gruesome murders; birth control; disrespect for the law; use of opium or other habit forming drugs; executions; profanity; excessive drunkeness especially in women; and maternity scenes.

The complete Maryland censorship rules is a laundry list of vice and of how people really behaved. Basically real life was prohibited in the movies.

Because there was no film industry set of standards, individual states set up their own board of censors to either insist on cuts to movies or block films from being exhibited entirely within that state.

In 1921 there were only six state censorship boards, and that number would greatly expand throughout the 1920’s. What was okay in one state, may not be playable in another. This set off a quagmire of problems for producers of films who needed to be able to show their films to the widest possible audience without having to make special edits to satisfy each state’s censorship board.

Rather than risk the creation of a national censorship board, the film industry eventually self monitored and created its own censorship code and a board to enforce the rules.

One of the last pre-code films. 1933 Roman Scandals with a young Lucille Ball in the chorus as a slave girl

One of the last pre-code films. 1933’s Roman Scandals with a young Lucille Ball in the chorus as a slave girl

The Hays Code (1930) and Joseph Breen, head of the Production Code Administration  standardized censorship rules and staved off an official national censorship board.

But even after the Production Code went into full effect (1934), local authorities or the Legion of Decency could still condemn a film and keep it from being exhibited. The city of Boston was a prime example of banning films with objectionable content.

Below is the complete list of Maryland’s censorship restrictions. Continue reading