Archive for the Halloween Category

Fabulous Four Witches, 1941

Posted in 40s, Halloween, Photograph on 7 May 2011 by redwitch1

Here we have four, fabulous Paramount starlets, thrown together for this Halloween press photo. All four were early in their career (thus “starlets“) but the four did not appear in any single Paramount film together. Of the four, three had long careers and two achieved significant fame. Read the shout and guess who appeared in the most films:

Well, Hobble My Goblins, It’s Halloween Again

And the date calls for the traditional observance.
So Here we have Paramount starlets Barbara Britton, Ella Neal, Eva Gabor and Katherine Booth for the event.

And the answer: Barbara Britton (51 titles on IMdB + a star on the Walk of Fame), Ella Neal (16 titles), Eva Gabor (79 titles + a star on the Walk of Fame) and Katharine Booth (61 titles).

Eva Gabor, the “good Gabor” among the three Gabor sisters, only married and divorced five times. Apparently, “Marriage is too interesting an experiment to be tried only once”! (Eva is the blonde above, right.)

There are some interesting details in the photo. Note the masks on the ground at the front two of our starlets. Here we have an echo of the “OMG the hag is a hottie” theme (which I discussed here and here).

The JOL above is one of two candy containers, decorated cardboard horns etc, which are all very nice too—if you can drag your eyes away from all that silk and starlet skin on show. No doubt the Advertising Advisory Council of Hollywood Approved of this photographic enticement to a roll in the hay with a leggy witch (or four) on the basis that it was morale-boosting.

This press photo was released on 12 August 1941, rather early in the year for Halloween, and pretty much the nadir of WW2 for the Allies. It was at the time when Axis-controlled territory in Europe was a its “maximal expansion” (as Wikipedia puts it). So, if Paramount thought the Allies need a morale boost, they were almost certainly right!

More Dorothy Dix, 1928

Posted in 20s, Halloween, Photograph, Pin-up, SFW on 23 April 2011 by redwitch1

This is the second Halloween-themed press photo I have of Dorothy Dix, which was taken in 1928.

In this photo Dix is wearing the same daring two-tone silk outfit, and showing off a lot of skin, baring almost every square inch of her lovely arms and legs. Also, once again, Dix, carrying a JOL, has a veil billowing out behind her (the end of which she is standing on). And she has been photographed standing in front of a bare wall casting what is supposed to be an eerie shadow.

The classic 20s spooky Halloween photo is below. The photo on on the left is from flickr, where the model is not identified. The photo on the right is a 2010 MichellexStar homage featuring Sabina Kelley.

In 2010, the model in the original photo was identified as Clara Bow, which is possible, but the photo is quite different from the Clara Bow Halloween photos I have seen elsewhere (gathered here), so I am a little skeptical.

Anyway, as you can see, the shadow play in both Dorothy Dix photos (and in the Colleen Moore photo I posted a few weeks back) is nowhere near as sophisticated as in the Clara Bow(?) photo above, but using shadows like this does seem to have been typical of the period.

Daring Dorothy Dix, Sexy Witch, 1928

Posted in 20s, Halloween, Movies, Photograph on 16 April 2011 by redwitch1

This is one of two press photos I have of Dorothy Dix (1908–2000), who was a “Hal Roach comedy player.” I know this because blind stamped on this photo is “Hal Roach * Studios Photo *” and typed on the back is the shout:

Dorothy Dix, Hal Roach comedy player, is the personification of the Spirit of Halloween. Starr, Sept 18, ’28

Penciled on the back of the second photo is “Dorothy Dix, Hal Roach M. S. M. Comedies.” I haven’t been able to discover who or what “M. S. M. Comedies” is, but I am assuming MSM does not stand for M[ust] S[ee] M[ovies]!

Dix’s first appearance in film was in a short, silent western, called A Fighting Tenderfoot, which was released on 29 December 1928. This photo is dated 18 September 1928, a month before the release of Dix’s first film. I said last week that press photos were used to promote new talent and this is a perfect example, where the photos were released to drum up interest in someone new.

Dix appeared in another seventeen films, nine shorts and four without appearing in the credits. So, not exactly the stellar career that Colleen Moore enjoyed, but she did appear in Dante’s Inferno (1935), which is pretty cool. And this photo is pretty cool too. Like last week’s photo of Moore, the props and backdrop are less interesting than the costume and the model. The floor and wall are bare, Dix holds a large JOL in her right hand and a pole(?) with a cardboard cut-out scaredy cat attached to it, in her left (detail below). The pole only appears in this photo, so I can’t tell if this is actually a broomstick, with the brush out of frame.

Like Moore, Dix has a veil draped behind her, but it is billowing out beside her, as it would if she were flying. (Which, of course, makes no sense since she is standing upright and has nothing to fly on …). Dix’s outfit is a lot more daring than Moore’s. Rather than a neck-to-toe dress, Dix is bearing her arms, legs, and her top has a plunging v-shaped neckline with a separate silk collar. Her daring silk shorts are two-coloured, as is her top—like these outfits from 1949.

I am going to go out on a limb here and say that I think the outfit is probably orange and black, though the 1949 outfit worn by Penny Edward and Barbara Bates was coloured red and white when it was printed in V. (See below. The tone of the Dix photos looks closer to orange than white and I am not convinced the colouring of the Edward and Bates photo is original.)

Never Halloween Without a Witch, 1911

Posted in 10s, Advertising, chromolithograph, Costumes, Halloween, Magazine, SFW on 2 April 2011 by redwitch1

The October 1911 issue of The Ladies’ Home Journal contains a colour spread under the title “The Halloween Masquerade” with eight designs by Adrienne Brugard and drawings by M. E. Musselman.

The eight designs are: Yankee Doodle Boy, A Very Demure Goose Girl, Up-to-Date Aeroplane Girl, a Witch, Bo-Peep Hunting her Sheep, Pumpkin and Lettuce Girls, A Calico Clown. The spread is promoted in these words:

For a jolly time on Hallowe’en give a masquerade party. How shall I dress? is always the first thought on receiving an invitation to such a party. The girls and boys will look well in these fanciful costumes, some of which suggest others which would be just as quaint and humorous. Ghosts and goblins might accompany the Witch, and Little Boy Blue and other nursery-rhyme characters might go along with Bo-Peep. If the dominos do not sufficiently conceal the features suitable masks may be obtained for a number of these costumes. The more one’s identity is concealed the greater will be the fun.

The attenuated broom carried by the witch suggests that M. E. Musselman was not familiar with the object itself, but the costume is cute. Note the short cape, which turns up in some graphics from the 40s and 50s (here and here). BTW: I love the Lettuce Girl (below)—I can’t understand why this costume has waned in popularity since 1911!

At the foot of the page are two paragraphs (which I have transcribed) that explain you could buy the pattern to three of the costumes. For women, the witch costume was the only one available, men, could choose between the Yankee Doodle Boy and the Clown outfit. It would be nice to think that this meant that the witch costume reigned supreme at Halloween, for women of all sizes (i.e., with bust measurements from 32 to 44 inches). But contemporary photos suggest that the Calico Clown was more popular with women than the witch outfit. And many of the witch outfit people actually wore were hybrids with the clown outfit. After all, it was easy to make!

I haven’t given up hope of finding a surviving pattern for this design, or a costume based on it, or—better still—a contemporary photo of someone wearing this Adrienne Brugard’s creation. Until I do, Musselman’s artwork will have to suffice.

* * * * *

Patterns (including Guide-Chart) for the numbered designs shown on this page can be supplied at fifteen cents for each number, post-free. Pattern No. 4112 [Calico Clown] comes in four sizes: 26, 30, 34 and 38 inches; No. 6409 [Yankee Doodle Boy] in six sizes: 24, 26, 32, 36, 40 and 44 inches chest measure; and No. 6407 [Witch] in seven sizes: 32 to 44 inches bust measure. Order from your nearest dealer in patterns; and by mail, giving number of pattern and bust measure, and inclosing the price to the Pattern Department, The Ladies’ Home Journal, Philiadelphia.

Note—If you want any further information about the costumes shown on this page send an addressed, stamped envelope to the Fashion Editors, The Ladies’ Home Journal, Philiadelphia, who will tell you how to make these costumes, suggesting substitute patterns for any of the unnumbered designs shown on this page. Several of the costumes may be made from discarded dresses, with only a small expenditure for accessories.

Puck and the Witch, 1912

Posted in 10s, Halloween, Lithograph, Postcard on 27 March 2011 by redwitch1

Here is yet another sepia lithographic postcard from The Pink of Perfection series. Not only is it from the same series as last week’s card (“Series 152″), the artwork on this card also contains a Gibson Art Company copyright statement (“©1912 C. R. Gibson”), though it was published under license by the Fairman Company of New York.

The caption on this card reads

Hallowe’en
Puck, the Sprite,
Weaves to night,
Fortunes bright.

Despite the caption, Puck is not in evidence. We have, instead, another pretty witch, with full cheeks, pale skin and hair, in a silken black witch’s hat, holding a JOL. Our winsome witch holds her JOL with all but the little finger of her right hand, which is held aloft. The gesture is subtle (and difficult to see on this card) but full of meaning—at least it is in Australia where the Roads and Traffic Authority used it in an anti-speeding campaign.

How? Well a woman wiggles her little finger at a driver to imply he has a small penis (see this news item here, concerning a road-rage incident it provoked, but not here, the Wikipedia page for single hand gestures!) So, perhaps our witch is saying something about Puck’s penis.**

Moving right along. This card appears to be from the same collection as the one I posted last week, and so it also has a destination or sales area marked on it: “Denmark, No. 4.” Since the one from last week was a suburb of New York I am not quite sure what to make of this.

**I promise that I didn’t set out to get the phrases “Pink of Perfection” and “Puck’s penis” in the same post. Honest.

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