Tag Archives: 1930s

Gangster Al Capone Goes To A Baseball Game

Hall-of-Famer Gabby Hartnett Signs Autographs For Al Capone and His Son – 1931

Al Capone sees a Cubs game with son as Gabby Hartnett signs autograph 1931 9 10Associated Press Photo From Chicago

Al Capone takes his son to the ball game surrounded by his watchful lieutenants. Chicago’s gang chief and his 12-year-old son, Al Jr., get Gabby Hartnett of the Cubs to autograph a baseball just before the Cubs defeated the White Sox, 3 to 0, in a charity game before 35,000 spectators at Comiskey Park, Chicago, Sept. 9. Pictures of Capone before the public are not frequent, and a pose with his son is rare. He affectionately calls the boy “Sonny.”

Note the watchfulness of one of his bodyguards directly behind him. A pop-corn vendor evidently rubbed his shoulder and he looks ready to protect his chief. 9-9-31

This photograph made me wonder if Al Capone’s bodyguards were licensed to carry firearms and if they were packing heat when they visited Comiskey Park? It certainly looks like the bodyguard is reaching into his jacket to pull out his “roscoe” or maybe it was his wallet to pay for the popcorn.

One other thing to note: “Sonny,” does not look thrilled to be at the ballpark, much less getting an autograph from Gabby Hartnett.

Classic Hollywood #47

Harold Lloyd Between Takes On The Set of Professor Beware! – 1938

Harold Lloyd on set 1939Noted fun-maker rests during an idle moment on location. Harold Lloyd , now in production on his current comedy “Professor Beware!” is seen here taking it easy between “takes”. This is the first Lloyd picture in almost two years. – photo: Harold Lloyd Productions

In the 1920s Harold Lloyd was one of the top box office stars. By the 1930s he was reduced to making a film every two years. With the completion of Professor Beware!, LLoyd said he was now planning on getting ramped up and start making two films per year.

Instead, Professor Beware! turned out to be Harold Lloyd’s next to last film.

The story for Professor Beware! was written by Colonel Crampton Harris, the former law partner of Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black.

Lloyd plays an egyptologist who sees parallels between ancient happenings and his own life that seem like reincarnation and may spell doom for him. Lloyd’s co-star was the unknown Phyllis Welch, but Lloyd had originally offered the female lead to Jean Arthur, who turned it down.

A strange story connected with the film concerns the usually inoffensive Lloyd almost being censored. The Hays office called Lloyd and his staff in for a meeting and wanted a scene cut in which Lloyd’s character is driving in the street, bumps into a fire engine and tells the firemen there is a fire at the pier and yells “fire!” Lloyd was flabbergasted and asked what was wrong with saying “fire”.

Lloyd insisted to the censor that removing the scene would ruin the plot. The Hays office censor said that no actor should ever say the word “fire” on screen. The censor explained that two times previously it had led to  trouble  when a person out on the street buying a ticket at the box office heard the word fire and went to call the fire department.

Lloyd asked the overzealous censor if he had seen the film in a projection booth with no audience and if he had laughed, to which which replied that is where he viewed the movie and  he had not laughed. In a real theater situation, Lloyd explained, the audience would be laughing so hard at that point, that when the word fire was uttered no one would be able to hear it. Believe it or not, the censor agreed with this argument and left the scene intact.

The movie itself did not catch fire and was greeted lukewarmly by the critics and the public. Lloyd then made up his mind to give up acting until “he found the right story.”

After a career appearing in over 200 films, it took another seven years for the highly popular Lloyd to make another film, which ended up being his final movie The Sin of Harold Diddlebock (released 1947).

In 1945 producer-director Preston Sturges convinced Lloyd that he should play the lead character in his new film which was originally slated to star Eddie Bracken as Harold Diddlebock. Considering Sturges’ reputation as a comedic genius, Lloyd agreed.

In an interview with the New York Times after the filming was completed, LLoyd said, “Basically, Preston and I think alike even when our approach is different. I like to go out on the set with a scene mapped out and work from my head; Preston comes on with a blueprint he’s sweated over beforehand to the last detail. He can do his cutting a reel at a time, and stay with it indefinitely; it’s an effort for me to stay in a projection room with an uncut story. After I’ve seen three good ideas go through the chopper, I have to come up for air.”

The strained creative relationship Continue reading

The First Day Of School In New York City 1937

Giving The Teacher An Apple – 1937

New York City school photo giving the teacher an apple 1937

Today, September 9, 2015 marks the first day of school here in New York City.  It might seem like a cliche now, but in the not so distant past, on the first day of school, many children really did present their teachers with an apple, as shown here in this 1937 NYC Schools photo.

The mode of dress may have changed, but the excitement and trepidation of the first day of school hasn’t.

Mel Ott Rare Batting Photos

The Unusual Swing Of New York Giants Star Mel Ott

Mel Ott swing sequence 1

It’s hard to imagine in this era where everyone is recording everything, that there is very little film of the old time great players (pre-1950) actually playing.

Because of this when all-time, all-star lists are drawn up the players, modern ballplayers usually get picked over old-timers because there are few people alive who saw those old-timers play. There are exceptions like Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, Christy Mathewson, Walter Johnson and other greats who have superb stats or reputations that have carried into the 21st century. They get named to those all-time lists. But many of the early 20th century’s great players are mostly forgotten.

A case in point is Mel Ott, the  slugger who played his entire career with the New York Giants from 1926 until 1947. Ott had 2,876 hits, 511 home runs, drove in 1860 runs and hit .304 in his 22 year career.

The left-handed hitting Ott had one of the strangest batting stances in baseball, lifting his right leg high in the air while the pitch was on the way to the plate.

In this rare sequence of photos Continue reading

Marching In New York For Their Socialist Agenda May 1, 1934

May Day Parade 1934

May day parade Madison Ave May 1 1934 photo APWhile this may look like a group of Nazi women dressed like stormtroopers marching up Madison Avenue it is actually just a bunch of American socialists resembling the sieg heiling Nazi’s.

The original caption for this news photo reads as follows:

The Red Flag of Socialism

A general view of the parade of the Socialists up Madison Avenue in New York May 1.  A group of women Socialists carried red flags and sang and shouted as they marched. Parades were held throughout the city by various groups but there was no disorder of any kind. (Associated Press Photo 5-1-34)

In the first half of the 20th century, every May Day in New York would bring thousands of activists out into the streets to march and promulgate their ideas . Many were just plain old Socialists, however there would be smaller parades of Communists, anarchists, Industrial Workers of the World, or other labor groups who had a concern or cause.

In 1932, the Socialist party presidential candidate Norman Thomas received 884,895 votes, a little more than 2% of all ballots cast.

Mostly the May Day marches in New York Continue reading

Lifebuoy Soap Body Odor Ad 1933

My Dear, You Smell of B.O.

Lifebuoy Soap Ad - Schenectady Gazette March 13, 1933

Lifebuoy Soap Ad – Schenectady Gazette March 13, 1933 (click to enlarge)

“What a kill-joy B.O. is!” says this 1933 Lifebuoy comic strip ad.

“Perhaps its your fault,” says Auntie to Mrs. B.O.

Nothing like being direct.

The Lifebuoy ad warns that B.O. make life miserable for its victims. I like that  it is whispered in parenthesis in case you don’t know that B.O. stands for body odor.

And to add a dramatic flair, B.O. “threatens their jobs, social positions – even their homes!”

Fortunately of course there is a Continue reading

Lois DeFee Bouncer At The Dizzy Club, New York City 1936

Don’t Mess With The Lady

woman bouncer Lois DeFee 1936 photo AcmeLois DeFee started her working life at the age of 18 in an unusual occupation – as a bouncer. A couple of years later she would achieve fame of another sort.

“Little Miss Bouncer”

Gentlemen guests at the Dizzy Club, New York night spot; are polite, especially to Miss Lois DeFee, (shown above), with a waiter of average size. Miss DeFee who stands six feet two inches, without high heels, is the official bouncer at the night club, and has acted in that capacity for seven weeks to the satisfaction of the management. Women drunks give her the most trouble, says Miss DeFee. She has been married twice; one of her husbands was a jockey who was only five feet tall. Yes– she enjoys her work, and Broadway night life in general. Credit Line: (ACME 5/15/36)

Lois DeFee was soon hired away from The Dizzy Club on 52nd street to go work across the street at the more famous Leon & Eddie’s performing the same duties at their nightclub.

Lois was later discovered by Harold Minsky of Minsky’s burlesque and she became a top burlesque star for many years, billed as a “glamazon.” Because of her great height, columnist Walter Winchell billed her as”The Eiffel Eyeful.” Lois died in Florida in 2012 at the age of 93.

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.

Salaries Of Hollywood In 1937 – A List of The Film Stars Pay

Katharine Hepburn Was Paid $206,928, While Peter Lorre Made Just $15,265

1937 Was A Good Year For Film Salaries

Gary Cooper - Filmdom's top paid personality in 1937

Gary Cooper – Filmdom’s top paid personality in 1937

I find this sort of stuff fascinating.

In 1938 the U.S. Treasury released a report to Congress that listed how much compensation was paid to luminaries in the film industry for 1937.

The highlight of the report was that Gary Cooper ($370,214) overtook Mae West ($323.333) as the highest salaried film personality.

This was during the height of the Great Depression, so many of the salaries seem astronomical when compared to the average annual salary of a working person which was only $890 in 1937 according to Time magazine.

The list is interesting to look over and there are quite a few surprises. For instance Zeppo Marx ($56,766) is listed in the report and his more famous brothers Groucho, Chico and Harpo are not. Laurel and Hardy are there, and Stan Laurel ($135,167 ) earned nearly $50,000 more than his rotund comedy partner Oliver Hardy ( $88,600).

Ginger Rogers and those famous legs. Ginger received a $124,770 salary in 1937.

Ginger Rogers and those famous legs. Ginger received $124,770 in pay in 1937.

Studio chief and creative genius Walt Disney made only $39,000, yet William A. Seiter, director in 1937 of This is My Affair and Life Begins In College made $135,750!

Box office draws, Barbara Stanwyck, Ginger Rogers and Claudette Colbert were all pulling in over $100,000.

I recognized most of the names on the list, but there are also a handful of people I never heard of like The Yacht Club Boys, ($32,166) who were a popular singing group. And I should have known Alan Dinehart, ($39,666) a busy character actor who appeared in 89 movies during his abbreviated acting career (he died at the age of 54 in 1944).

Bette Davis, Joan Crawford, Spencer Tracy, Olivia de Havilland, Clark Gable, Humphrey Bogart and many others who were big stars are unfortunately not listed.

There are writers, directors, producers, and songwriters mixed in among the stars and supporting players of the movies.

Sadly, so many of these names are now completely forgotten except by a much older generation of contemporaries or rabid TCM movie fans.

Here are the 1937 salaries of over 160 of some of Hollywood’s top talent in alphabetical order:

  1. Don Ameche, $34,499;
  2. Heather Angel, $15,375;
  3. Jean Arthur, $119,041;
  4. Fred Astaire, $211,666; Continue reading