Tag Archives: Unusual

Possible Oscar Boycott Ignores Other Underrepresented Actors

Time To Put A Stop To Hollywood’s Casting Bias – Microcephalics Insultingly called “Pinheads” Get The Shaft in Oscar Process

microphely 1

Everyone is now aware that for the 2016 Academy Awards no African-Americans were nominated for Academy Awards in the major acting categories. This has led to some people calling out the racist members of the Academy saying they will boycott the Oscars and things “have to change.”

microphely 2 zipBut there are so many groups not represented with nominations. If we’re going to go through with this diversity campaign let’s go full tilt.

In this country where we strive for equality the question arises – is it fair to single out the omission of only African Americans?

There is one group of entertainers that has been far more glaringly ignored in the Oscar process since the Academy’s  founding, and yet no one is standing up for them.

Microcephalic actors have not been recognized by the Academy – ever. Disparagingly called “pinheads” by sideshow aficionados, these people have been thoroughly neglected by the Hollywood elite and the Academy.

Schlitzie in Tod Browning's Freaks

Schlitzie in Tod Browning’s Freaks

Director Tod Browning was the only filmmaker brave enough to break the stigma of using people with microcephaly prominently in a film with his 1932 classic Freaks.

Since then, I know of no film that has featured a microcephalic actor with any prominent role. Therefore there have been no microcephalic actors nominated for an Academy Award.

True, Dan Akroyd and Jane Curtin starred in 1993’s The Coneheads, but they were only actors who looked like people with microcephaly and they were not nominated for anything either.

How can we let this obvious oversight and discrimination continue? When will we see a fair representation of this unrecognized group of people?

Beetlejuice - An Academy Award winner if given the chance?

Beetlejuice – An Academy Award winner if given the chance?

Besides Beetlejuice from the Howard Stern Show and Patrick from Spongebob Square Pants, where are microcephalics being represented in entertainment? Continue reading

The Average Woman – 1908

The Average American Woman Is…Ungainly, Has An Appalling Lack of Symmetry, Is Inactive and Badly In Need Of Exercise

Ungainly FigureCharles Merriles penned a three part article for Physical Culture Magazine entitled The Average Woman which ran from the July – September 1908 issues. He offers a scathing indictment against the average woman as being generally disproportioned, out of shape and defective.

Today an article like the one Charles Merriles wrote would be savagely attacked and he would probably be apologizing on social media. But this was 1908 and it was a very much a man’s world.

Physical Culture Magazine described itself as “devoted to health, strength, vitality, muscular development, and care of the body”

The publisher of Physical Culture, Bernarr MacFadden, was a man driven by perfection, physical fitness and fame. His belief of natural cures and strength training was forward looking. but his many detractors considered him to be an obscene, health-nut.

Later in the 1920s MacFadden founded the New York Graphic newspaper which was ahead of its time for its use of composite photographs called composographs featuring “photoshopped” scenes that did not exist. The New York Graphic also presaged the National Enquirer and other publications of that ilk by its use of lurid and sleazy stories thus earning the nickname “the New York Pornographic.”

Merriles’ article was one of the surefire ways MacFadden’s Physical Culture liked to attract readers with scantily dressed women. To illustrate his article, Merriles advertised for regular looking women that he could photograph in athletic garb that would display their figure.

The photo captions alone are cringe worthy. To say Merriles was critical in his assessment of his models and the state of womanhood would be an understatement.

Chest Too FlatHere are some excerpts and photographs from Merriles’ article:

The average woman of today has nothing to boast of from the standpoint of mere physical attraction. When stripped of her furbelows and fancy frills we usually find a startling contrast. In but few cases has she anything to be proud of under such instances. Between the corset, false hips, busts, padding here and there to fill out, even the leanest woman is at times able to make what might be termed a fair appearance. And a woman who is suffering from too much avoirdupois can pull in the waist line to an extraordinary degree and thus add to her attractions, so she thinks.

The body to be beautiful must be strong. No unsightly angles should be apparent, all its outlines should be made up of curves. For instance, from the neck to the shoulder, there should be a gradual sloping away until one part merges into the other. There should be an appearance of symmetry, harmony, one part with another, which is the one necessary
characteristic of a beautifully formed body. There should be no large, prominent muscles, there should be no bulging bust, or large, massive hips.

Figure Fair Hips too largeThey are so ugly that they might almost be called vulgar. Then again, there is an entirely false conception of the form of women that has been produced largely by the habit of corset wearing. 

Though every woman cannot possess features that might be termed beautiful, I believe that my opinion is borne out by the facts when I state that practically every woman can have a finely-developed body. This means, in conventional parlance, a superb form.

Entire Body Too Thin Continue reading

Los Angeles’ First Snowstorm – 1932

The First Time It Snowed In Hollywood (and Los Angeles)

Hollywood First snowstorm ever Jan 15 1932Hollywood woke up early yesterday morning (Friday January 15)to welcome the first real snow storm in Southern California’s history. Judith Wood, Paramount screen player who is recovering from an automobile accident, forgot the doctor’s orders and dashed out into the storm shortly after five o’clock. (photo – Paramount, January 15 1932)

Los Angeles Times Jan 16 1932 (click to enlarge)

Los Angeles Times Jan, 16, 1932 photo coverage of storm (click to enlarge)

When you think of snow, you usually don’t think of Los Angeles. But 84 years ago today Los Angeles residents awoke and were shocked to discover a city covered in snow.

The surprise snowstorm began at 5:00 a.m. and continued for over two hours. The Los Angeles Times said it was “the first official snowfall recorded in the United States Weather Bureau’s fifty-four year existence in the city.”

Snow had fallen before in Los Angeles but never in measurable quantities. Claude Luce, a Los Angeles resident since 1875,  said he remembered one inch of snow falling in 1880. Continue reading

Unusual News Stories From A Small Town Newspaper in 1881

A Horse Commits Suicide, A Man Falls 60 Feet From A Building And Is Uninjured & Instructions On How To Wash Your Face

lowville times bannerInteresting “News” From The Lowville Times In The Summer of 1881

photo: Yester-Images of Lowville NY on postcards by Larry Myers

photo: Yester-Images of Lowville NY on postcards by Larry Myers

Lowville is a sleepy town in Lewis County, upstate New York, about 40 miles east of Lake Ontario and about 90 miles north of Syracuse. Just under 5,000 people call this town home. The most famous person associated with Lowville is probably Peter Ostrum, who played Charlie in the original Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Peter is a veterinarian at Countryside Veterinary Clinic in Lowville.

lowville new york map circa 1870sThe town was founded in 1797 and by 1881 had a population which was a tad over 3,000 people, mostly comprised of assiduous  farmers and merchants.

Like most aspiring small towns across America, Lowville had their own newspaper, a weekly journal comprised of four pages called the Lowville Times which existed from 1876-1884. It featured a smattering of national and international news, but the main feature for the citizens of Lowville and the surrounding towns of Copenhagen, Carthage, Constableville, Martinsburgh and Boonville, was the “local matters” section on page three.

It featured not so much news as it did gossip, illnesses, births, deaths, religious revivals, calls for temperance, arrivals and departures of visitors, and rumblings about town and other community news from larger towns around New York State.

An accurate statement in the newspaper of August 25, 1881 read “A stranger visiting Lowville on Wednesday, the day of the Band Boys’ excursion would have pronounced it a dull place.” What the paper doesn’t say is that this was probably true 360 days out of the year. But in the 19th century it was a beautiful town, with hills and rolling meadows. The pace of life was slow and hard work was rewarded with leisurely pleasures, like regular town picnics featuring music and refreshments.

Besides reporting local mundane items like, ” The picnic was well attended on Saturday last,” and “R.J. Richardson and Frank Doig killed 17 woodcock on Tuesday,” there are stories that are succinct, unusual and interesting.

Here are a selection of short news items with some editorial flair from the summer of 1881:

June 23 – Mr. Albert Eldridge, foreman in the Lowville Manufacturing Co.’s saw mill had a tussel with a hand spike, and we should judge by the looks of his eye that he got the worst of the bargain. Continue reading

The Daying Dead Sea In China Is Really A Filthy, Giant Swimming Pool

More Like A Cesspool Than A Swimming Pool, The Daying Dead Sea Is China’s Solution For Its Citizens To “Enjoy Swimming”

chinese pool 3When I first encountered a photograph of the Daying Dead Sea in Suining City, Daying County, China, I had no idea of what to make of it.

My mind conjured up a nightmare scenario like the 1973 film Soylent Green in which overpopulation has been dealt with by turning people into food.

chinese pool 1The Daying Dead Sea is not an aquatic human abatoir. It is a very large indoor swimming pool that regularly attracts crowds of 8,000 or more people. Of course there is absolutely no room to swim and people jam themselves into the water and stand or float on a tube in their one spot.

They don’t need the tubes. The people can effortlessly float because the pool is made up of 43 elements and microelements  to simulate the effects of the Middle East’s Dead Sea where the salt composition is extremely high enabling easy floatation.

chinese pool 4The Chinese Continue reading

Chimps and Actors In Publicity Photographs

Bettie Page, Jayne Mansfield, Gary Cooper and Other Celebrities Posing With Chimps

Bettie Page with chimp. photo Bunny Yeager

Bettie Page with chimp. photo Bunny Yeager

Previously we showed some news photographs of chimpanzees. Because there were so many to choose from, we put these aside until now – publicity photographs of famous personalities with chimps.

Some of these posed photographs may have been related to whatever production the star was doing at the time. Others were just good photo opportunities.

The original news caption or a brief explanation for the photo is provided if we have one. Either way, here they are. Click on any photo to enlarge.

Herb Alpert April 21 1968

Herb Alpert April 16, 1968

“Herb Alpert teaches a friendly chimp at the Los Angeles zoo how to play a few notes at a stopover on a musical tour of America featuring the Tijuana Brass to be televised on Channel 7 at 7 p.m. on Monday. The program is called ‘The Beat of the Brass'”

Jayne Mansfield 1965

Jayne Mansfield 1965

Jayne Mansfield holding Laconia 1965

Dom DeLuise 1966

Dom DeLuise 1966

Dom DeLuise appears with one of The Marquis Chimps (probably Candy) on the Dean Martin Show 1966.

Stymie (Matthew Beard) of the Little Rascals (Our Gang)

Stymie (Matthew Beard) of the Little Rascals (Our Gang)

The Little Rascals Stymie (Matthew Beard) thinks Spanky has turned his brother Cotton into a chimpanzee through the power of a magic lamp in the 1932 Our Gang short ‘A Lad An’ A Lamp.

Gary Cooper 1932. photo: Acme

Gary Cooper 1932. photo: Acme

“Gary Cooper and baby chimpanzee as they arrived in Hollywood after an absence of more than a year.” Acme News Photo 4-27-1932 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.

W.C. Fields Will Gave The Bulk Of His Estate To Establish A College For White Orphans

W.C. Fields Died On A Day He Pretended To Despise, Christmas Day 1946. When His Will Was Read, It Had A Peculiar Racial Provision In It

WC Fields full face and portraitsMovie star comedian W.C. Fields is not well remembered by today’s generation, his cerebral brilliance generally going unappreciated or unrecognized. But those who know comedy such as Monty Python’s John Cleese said of Fields, “At a time when political correctness often stifles honesty and impulse to laugh and genuine wit is in such short supply, I think nothing could be healthier than the re-discovery of this most original, perceptive and unrepentant of comedians.”

When Fields died 68 years ago today on December 25, 1946, his will provided small amounts for family members and friends with the $800,000 remainder of his estate being left to establish “The W. C. Fields College for White Orphan Boys and Girls Where No Religion of Any Kind is Ever to be Taught.”

This strange racial provision seemed completely out of character for a man who treated blacks as equals and stood up for racial equality long before it was popular.  It was at W.C. Fields insistence that his Zigfield Follies friend, the great black vaudeville star Bert Williams, be allowed to join Actor’s Equity. Williams was finally admitted to the association. Fields said Williams was, “The funniest man I ever saw and the saddest man I ever knew.”

So why would Fields put this exclusionary provision in his will? Continue reading

Smoking Cigarettes For A Living

Here Is A Real Chain Smoker

Man tests cigarettes for a living photo Acme 1945This is not part of some government secret test program to see how many cigarettes you need to smoke before you develop cancer. Testing cigarettes was part of Sol C. Korn’s job as the director of various cigarette and cigar company’s from the 1920’s until the 1960’s. In 1945 when this picture was taken he was president of the Fleming-Hall Tobacco Company.

The caption reads:

Sol C. Korn, cigarette authority, puffs prodigiously as he makes the final and severest test of a a cigarette – the smoking. It’s just a job to him. Credit: (Acme 4/20/45)

Even with all that smoking, Mr. Korn lived to the age 70, passing away in 1962.