Tag Archives: 1940s

Classic Hollywood #73 – Mystery Celebrity

Va-Va-Voom. Can You Guess Who This Is?

I did not recognize this well known celebrity when I first saw this photograph.

Do you know who it is?

Here are some clues to who our mystery celebrity is:

  1. She appeared regularly on a television show which had a long run in the 1950s.
  2. Two of her co-stars on the show were Jack Larson and John Hamilton.
  3. She was never attired like this on the show, but wore a pillbox hat and business suit?
  4. She was born in 1920 in Minnesota and died in 2016 in Arizona at the age of 95.
  5. She began making films in 1940 and had a contract with Paramount Pictures.
  6. Her final film was in 2016 Surge of Power: Revenge of the Sequel.

Do you give up?

Or is this someone you’ll have to look up?

In the sky. Not in the cloud.

Okay, that was a terrible pun of a clue.

The answer is:

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How Historic Events Would Be Covered By The Media If They Were Written About With 2018 Attitudes

If The Media Covered These Historic Events Now, It Might Read Something Like This

We view historic events with 21st century attitudes and ideas. It’s called presentism.

Reader warning: satire ahead.

 A Rampage of Sexual Harassment in Times Square (V.J. Day 1945)

As pedestrians watch, an American sailor celebrates by passionately kissing and sexually assaulting a white-uniformed nurse in Times Square to celebrate the long awaited-victory over Japan  photo: Alfred Eisenstaedt / Life Magzine

Crowd in Times Square celebrates V.J. Day photo: Ezra Stoller

As word spread that the Empire of Japan had unconditionally surrendered and that the war was finally over, pandemonium broke loose in New York City’s Times Square yesterday. Continue reading

Classic Hollywood #67 – Chico Marx, Businessman & Gambler

Chico Marx Entertaining The Troops During World War II

U.S. Naval Air Station, Wold-Chamberlain Airport, Minneapolis, MN: Chico Marx was flying high back stage in the Orpheum Theater when three Aviation Cadets and one WAVE from the U.S. Naval Air Station called on him to make arrangements for his appearance at the Station Recreation Hall. Chico is bringing his entire show to the Air Station Tuesday to entertain the Naval Personnel. The Cadets are Lowell H. Conrow, Richard W. Hildebrand and Donald D. Bosold. The WAVE is Ensign Mary J. Withrow, USNR. Photo: U.S. Navy

When author Charlotte Chandler wrote her entertaining book about Groucho Marx, Hello I Must Be Going (Doubleday, 1978), it was mentioned by Groucho’s friends that someone should write or compile a book about Groucho’s eldest brother, Chico Marx.

Eventually a book was written about Chico by his daughter Maxine Marx. As interesting as that book is, it was not the sort of book that captured Chico’s flamboyant and incredible life.

Maxine had left out a good deal of the salacious parts of her father’s life by purposeful omission. Many other anecdotes were left out of her book simply because Maxine was unaware of them. There were hundreds of great stories known and shared only by show business veterans and insiders who Chico associated with, that went untold. Now those stories are lost forever, as all of Chico’s friends, contemporaries and acquaintances are long dead.

What is widely known is that Chico was a notorious womanizer and gambler who went through money as quickly as he made it or borrowed it.

Groucho famously said, “You know, somebody asked Chico how much money he lost gambling, and he said, ‘Find out how much money Harpo has. That’s how much money I lost.'”

The brothers had to bail Chico out countless times. There were even a couple of instances where had they not paid Chico’s debts, the gamblers he owed money to would have killed him.

Harpo wrote in Harpo Speaks! (Bernard Geis Associates, 1961) of his older brother when they were both teenagers, “Chico was a devout believer in the maxim, ‘Share and share alike.’ The way he shared my possessions was to hock them as fast as he got his hands on them, and then give the pawn tickets to me as my share.” Continue reading

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

Red Sox Star Bobby Doerr’s Death At 99 Ends An Era

Hall-Of-Famer Bobby Doerr Who Died On Monday November 13 Was the Last Living Major Leaguer Who Played in the 1930s

Bobby Doerr, Johnny Pesky, Ted Williams – 1963

Shades of 1946- Three stars of the last Red Sox American league championship team of 1946 (L-R)  Bobby Doerr, Johnny Pesky and Ted Williams are working together in the Red Sox 1963 training camp in Scottsdale, Arizona to bring the Red Sox back to the position where they will seriously challenge the Yankees again for the pennant. photo: Sporting News April 1963

When Bobby Doerr passed away at the age of 99 this week, he had been the last ballplayer to have played major league baseball in the 1930s. At the age of 19 Doerr debuted in the major leagues on April 20, 1937.

Think about that for a moment. That was over 80 years ago. Doerr played against Lou Gehrig, Mickey Cochrane, Rogers Hornsby, Goose Goslin, Ossie Bluege and Mule Haas.

Edde Stanky takes the throw as Bobby Doerr steals second base in the seventh inning of the 1947 All-Star game. Doerr later scored the winning run.

Doerr was a nine time all-star who had to retire prematurely at the age of 33 due to back problems. As great of a player Doerr was, he was an even better human being.

You get that assessment from the many people in and out of baseball who knew the man.

If  you love baseball and have never read David Halberstam’s book, The Teammates (Hyperion) 2003, you should. This will give you a sense of Bobby Doerr, the man.. Continue reading

Classic Hollywood #64 – Judy Garland & Vincente Minnelli at The Stork Club

Judy Garland and Future Husband Vincente Minnelli At The Stork Club In New York 1945

Judy Garland Vincent Minelli Stork Club photo AcmeJudy is altar bound again

Hollywood, CA – Screen actress Judy Garland has announced that she and director Vincente Minnelli will be married in New York City, at the Little Church Around The Corner, in June. The exact date has not been set, but it will be soon after June 7th when Judy’s divorce from composer Dave Rose becomes becomes final. The couple is shown together during a recent visit to the Stork Club, in New York.  (4-23-45) credit: Acme

Garland, age 23 and Minnelli age 42 had worked together on Meet Me in St. Louis (1944) and The Clock (1945). The couple wedded on June 15, 1945 not in New York, but at Judy’s mother Ethel’s home 750 South Ogden Drive in Los Angeles. It was Garland’s second of an eventual five marriages. Continue reading

Classic Hollywood #63 – Abbott & Costello With Edgar Bergen & Charlie McCarthy

Abbott & Costello With Edgar Bergen & Charlie McCarthy

When I was growing up there were only seven television channels to choose from in New York City. Many weekend mornings I found myself laughing at the antics of Abbott and Costello on WPIX, channel eleven. A lot of other kids at that time shared that love for the fast-talking comedy duo.

Not just their movies were shown, but also the Abbott and Costello TV show was broadcast regularly as well. If today’s generation knows anything about Abbott and Costello, it is almost certainly their famous “Who’s On First” baseball skit. Unfortunately Abbott and Costello and their wordplay humor are fading into history.

But if Abbott and Costello have faded, then ventriloquist Edgar Bergen and his puppet Charlie McCarthy are forgotten. Continue reading

Hiroshima And The New York Times – Let’s Rewrite History Two Subversive Words At A Time

On The 72nd Anniversary Of The Dropping Of The Atomic Bomb On Hiroshima – The New York Times Tries To Innocuously Rewrite History Two Subversive Words At A Time

Maybe you didn’t notice but It seems like every day The New York Times tries to pass off several pieces of propaganda as articles. There’s always something to infuriate any free thinking person.

Enola Gay Crew who dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima Aug 6, 1945

If you read the Saturday, August 5 Op-ed pages of the New York Times you may have seen a contributed piece by Ariel Dorfman, author and emeritus professor of literature at Duke University. The op-ed was entitled The Whispering Leaves of the Hiroshima Ginkgo Trees. The inconsequential article is not what disturbed me. It was one line slipped in to make an almost subliminal  impression upon the reader. Referring to a Mr. Takahashi, a survivor of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Dorfman writes, “By then middle-aged, his body was a testament to that war crime and its aftermath.”

War crime? The dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima was a “war crime”?

In 2005 I attended an exhibit at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum in Washington D.C. The exhibit was commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Enola Gay mission in World War II.  There was a video presentation about the Enola Gay’s mission which included interviews with the crew before and after the mission including  pilot Col. Paul Tibbets. To say it was a powerful exhibit would be an understatement.

For those too young to remember or do not know their history, the Enola Gay was a B-29 bomber plane that dropped the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan on August 6, 1945. Three days later another B-29, Bockscar, dropped the second atomic bomb on Nagasaki.

Before deciding to use an atomic bomb the Allies insisted that Japan unconditionally surrender, as their defeat was inevitable. Japan refused.

Over 145,000 people died in the initial blasts. Thousands of Japanese civilians died of the injuries they sustained in the years that followed.

The end result of those bombings? Japan surrendered to the Allies the following week on August 15, 1945 and World War II was over.

There was a comment book at the end of the exhibit where visitors could record their name age, address and comment on what they had seen. Walking over to that book and thumbing through it I read to my surprise quite a few people had written essentially the same thing: the United States was wrong to drop the bombs. Others went so far to say that we never should have used the weapons and fought it out until the Japanese surrendered. The people who wrote these comments were all under the age of 40.

I wrote a short comment. I’ll say it again here for the edification of Mr. Dorfman, the editorial staff of the New York Times and any history revisionists.

Killing civilians in war is a byproduct of the wickedness of war. But it was a good thing the United States used those bombs. We didn’t start this war, but we ended it.

Let me correct Mr. Dorfman (born 1942) and the seriously uninformed, mostly those who were not alive during the conflict, the use of those bombs saved hundreds of thousands of lives and was not a “war crime.”

The Japanese unprovoked, surprise attack on Pearl Harbor was a war crime. The Japanese torturing of POW’s was a war crime. The Bataan Death March was a war crime. The Japanese sinking of hospital ships was a war crime. The conscription and rape of over 200,000 civilian women for Japanese army brothels was a war crime. Continue reading

New York In The Late 1940s As Seen By The Saturday Evening Post’s Cover Artists

Five Classic New York City Saturday Evening Post
Magazine Covers

A magazine with great cover art? The New Yorker fits the bill with every issue having an illustration adorning the covers since beginning publication in 1925.

Over the course of the 20th century photography eventually replaced magazine cover art. But if there was a magazine that could give The New Yorker a challenge in the cover art department, it would be The Saturday Evening Post.

If The New Yorker was the quintessential representative for sophisticates, then The Saturday Evening Post represented the rest of America. The covers of The Saturday Evening Post mirrored America, the same way The New Yorker echoed New York.

Arguably no New Yorker cover artist past or present is widely known to most Americans. The Post fostered the career of a legendary artist, Norman Rockwell. From the late teens until the 1960s Rockwell drew an astounding 321 covers for the magazine. Rockwell’s name and work is still recognized by millions of people nearly 40 years after his death.

But what of the hundreds of other talented artists who illustrated magazine covers? There were only a few artists who worked for both the New Yorker and The Saturday Evening Post. Each magazine wanted exclusivity considering the illustration style was at times somewhat similar.

Every now and then, the Post would feature a New York City scene on its cover.

Here are five examples from the 1940s.

John Falter (1910-1982) drew over 120 covers for the Saturday Evening Post. The April 30, 1949 cover shows Central Park and the skyline of the upper east side. The original cover Falter submitted had a lightning bolt and a rainbow simultaneously, which concerned the Post’s editors. They consulted the weather bureau asking if it was possible to have both lightning and a rainbow appear at the same time? The weather bureau replied they had never seen the phenomenon but where weather was concerned “anything could happen.”

The Post’s Art Department decided to remove the lightning and the illustration appeared as seen here.

Constantin Alajalov (1900-1987) was one of those few artists who worked concurrently for The New Yorker and The Saturday Evening Post. The February 12, 1949 cover has  a young lady in a travel office dreaming of getting away from the cold as she’s surrounded with posters advertising sunny locales. Note there is something never seen in New York City anymore: clotheslines connected from building to building. Alajalov originally drew snowflakes falling in the courtyard, but then decided to remove them when he thought: would anyone be drying clothes in a snowstorm? Probably not. So either remove the clotheslines or the snowflakes. Alajalov chose to remove the snowflakes. Continue reading

I Want That Baseball! What Some People Would Do For A Foul Ball – 1947

You’ll Never See Fans Go For A Baseball Like This Again

God forbid someone was to try and climb the backstop screen at a baseball game today. If this situation seen here happened now, a potential climbee would be pulled down, arrested and barred from the stadium for life.

If no one from the ballpark interfered with you, you could fall, break some bones and then hire a lawyer and sue the team for not protecting you from yourself.

Seventy years ago this was obviously not the case.

The place is Shibe Park in Philadelphia, The date is September 7, 1947. The Philadelphia Athletics would sweep a Sunday doubleheader from the Boston Red Sox by scores of 7-4 and 4-3. Times of the games: 2:19 and 1:50.

But for part of one inning this mad dash for a foul ball was the entertainment for the 32,464 fans in attendance.

Amateur Aerialists Steal Baseball Show

Philadelphia, PA… When a high foul ball lodged in wire mesh screen behind the home plate in the 8th inning of the Boston-Philadelphia game at Shibe Park, these two boys stole the show from the diamond in their efforts to race for the ball as a souvenir. Neck-craning spectators may be seen in the lower foreground. A television camera is peeping through the screen on the center. The upper boy got to the ball and got back to terra firma safely, much to the relief of the crowd. 9-8-47 photo: Mike Freeman, International News

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