Archive for the Photograph Category

Gabrielle Ray, Christmas Witch, 1907

Posted in 00s, Photograph, Postcard, SFW on 24 December 2011 by redwitch1

Apparently, I needed a break. So I took one. “Am taking one” I should say, ’cause I haven’t finished being broken, or breaking, or taking a break, or whatever. But I wanted to start the new year (NB to any non-pagans out there, the real new year has already started) with a pretty witch xmas card of the delightful Gabrielle Ray (1883–1973), “one of the most photographed women in the world” (according to Wikipedia).

Ray performed at leading West End venues, becoming famous across Europe for her youthful beauty and her skill as a dancer. As the bio. on this site explains, “She had a graceful fluidity coupled with an acrobatic prowess that made her dancing nothing less than sensational.” In 1907, Ray played “Frou Frou” in George Edwardes’ adaptation of The Merry Widow, which ran for 778 performances at Daly’s Theatre. Ray’s dance number, complete with handstands and high kicks, performed on a table at Maxim’s held head high by four men, was a show stopper. Probably a heart-stopper too.

This photo is slightly earlier: it is one of a series of photos of Ray as “So-Hie” in the “Chinese” comic opera, See-See at the 
Prince of Wales’s Theatre, London, 20 June 1906.
 The photograph has been altered by the Rotary Photographic Co. Ltd of London, probably in 1907, for issue in its Rotary Photographic Series. You can see others in this series, and find lots of information about Ray, here.

Sadly, as Ray’s career waned “a damaging combination of depression and alchoholism brought about a total breakdown in health”; in 1936 she suffered a total nervous breakdown which led to her remaining institutionalized in a mental hospital for nearly forty years! What an end for a woman with so much going for her.

And with this terrible warning before all of us I hope you’ll forgive me for continuing my break a little longer. I will start posting regularly towards the end of (my) summer. Adieu.

Etchika Choureau, Halloween Witch, 1958

Posted in 50s, Halloween, Photograph, SFW on 16 August 2011 by redwitch1

Some of my readers will have seen this press photo before. It features Etchika Choureau (i.e., Jeannine Verret, b. 1929), a beautiful, green-eyed, sometimes blonde-haired, French actress who had a short career in cinema in the 50s.

According to the French Wikipédia and this film-star postcard blog, her first three films appeared in 1953 (when she was 24), one of which earned her an award for the “Most Promising Actress.” Verret appeared in nine other films until 1957, and then tried to launch a career in Hollywood, appearing in two war movies in 1958 (at 29). Her career came to a halt during her affair with the Crown Prince of Morocco. After Hassan II’s accession to power in 1961—and the end of their affair—she tried unsuccessfully to revive her career, retiring permanently in 1966.

I highlight Verret’s age in 1953 and 1958 because this press photo is undated. I think the photo is more likely to date from 1958 (he first appearance in Hollywood) than 1953 (her first appearance on film)—it is certainly consistent with the Hollywood practice of issuing press photo of new-to-screen starlets—and she looks closer to 29 than 24 (as she is in this picture). The Halloween theme appears to be the clincher, but it is possible that a photo was produced for the US distribution of one of her earlier films, and the costume she is wearing dates to the late 40s/early 50s (see below). Still, on balance, I vote for 1958.

As I mentioned at the start, this photo appears in many places online (Google “Etchika Choureau” + “Halloween” or “witch” and you will see what I mean). This is at least partly because reproductions of the image regularly appear on eBay. Like most reproductions, the quality of the image is low, so I was particularly pleased to get an original so I could post a cleaner image.

Before I could do this post, somebody published online a “colourised” version of the image (below). It appears on Retrogasm’s tumblr page (here), without acknowledgment, but that doesn’t mean they produced the image: lots of my images appear on tumblr, without acknowledgment, on the pages of thieving “feral rats” (see here for an explanation). Whoever did the colourising: nice work! Unfortunately, though, they got the colours wrong.

If you look closely at Verret’s top, you will notice that it is one that has appeared regularly on this blog. It is the same top worn by Penny Edward, Barbara Bates, Martha Vickers and Gale Robbins! (Details here and here.) And, as you can see in the composite image below, when the photo of Penny Edward and Barbara Bates appeared on the cover of V [no. 296] for 4 June 1950, it was coloured red, not blue.

Virginia Curtis, Sparkling Witch, 1954

Posted in 50s, Photograph, SFW on 9 August 2011 by redwitch1

Virginia Curtis (1928–2004) had a brief and modest career on television as a “comedienne” (the feminine and the diminutive of “comedian”—both apply in this case but I have always thought it was a stupid word). Here is the snipe, which is dated 23 October 1954:

Going my Way?

Who wouldn’t accept a Halloween lift from as attractive a witch as Virginia Curtis, featured comedienne on Sid Caesar’s television show (8 to 9 P.M., E.S.T., Mondays).

As Wikipedia explains (here), Caesar’s Hour (1954–57) was “a live, hour-long American sketch comedy television program.” Sid Caesar, the eponymous “comedienne” (diminutive) of this show, describes the sketch series that featured Curtis in Caesar’s Hours: My Life in Comedy, with Love and Laughter (2005), on p. 164ff. The regular sketch was called “The Commuters” and it involved three couples—two of them foils for Caesar—struggling with the challenges of upward mobility. (Yes, that is how he describes it.)

Curtis is mentioned only as one of the five women who played the wife of one of these foils. Unless they were Mormons—which seems unlikely from Caesar’s description—it seems that these five women took it in turns playing the role of a wife, a role so undistinguished that they do not warrant differentiation or, indeed, any further reference in the whole book. I discovered elsewhere that Curtis played the character “Betty Hansen” from 1954–55. Despite the fact that Caesar’s Hour featured the likes of Joan Crawford and Peggy Lee most of the original recordings were destroyed by NBC, so we are unlikely to discover anything more about Curtis’s role.

However, although Curtis had a brief and modest career on television, she is significant on this blog as the first television actor to achieve immortality as a sexy witch in a press photo.

Ann Miller, Captivating Witch, 1949

Posted in 40s, Photograph, SFW on 23 July 2011 by redwitch1

The two pictures of Ann Miller in this post are from a series of four, listed (on the snipe) with the serial numbers “3359, 3360, 3361, 3362.” The first picture here is an original, the second is a reprint, and I am not sure what the appropriate serial numbers are for each of them. The snipe on my original photo reads:

The Atomic Age of Witchery … Ann Miller is the captivating Halloween Miss who has pumpkins and black cats for her mascots in this beauty study. The young dancing star, under long-term contract to Metro-Goldwyn–Mayer will soon be seen in the techicolor musical “On the Town,” in which she shares top billing with Gene Kelly, Frank Sinatra, Betty Garrett, Jules Munshin and Vera-Ellen. The musical was directed by Kelly and Stanley Donen and produced by Arthur Freed.

If you look at the Wikipedia and Imdb entries for Ann Miller, you will find that she has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and was inducted into the International Tap Dance Hall of Fame in 2004: that is, she was very talented.

Miller started young (at 14, pretending to be 18), could tap at an extraordinary speed (she was considered a child dance prodigy), wore costumes that emphasized her lithe figure and long dancer’s legs (her measurements were, apparently, 35-22-34), was a famous for her appearances on Broadway as in Hollywood films, and married three times (unhappily).

She said that she difficulty maintaining relationships with men due to her being an Egyptian queen in a past life (Queen Hathshepsut) and having been accustomed to executing any men who displeased her. This may have been wishful thinking, because she seems to have married arseholes.

One, a piece of scum who does not deserve to be memorialised with a name, beat Miller up when she was nine months pregnant, throwing her down a flight of stairs and breaking her back. Miller had to give birth with a broken back and auditioned for Easter Parade (1948) in a steel back brace!

This press photo dates from a few years later, October 1949 I think, when Miller was 26, though the film it mentions as have been directed (past tense) by Kelly and Stanley Donen, On the Town, did not have its premiere until 8 December 1949 in New York.

Naturlich Harz sticker, 1980?

Posted in 2000+, NSFW, Photograph, Stickers on 17 July 2011 by redwitch1

Actually, I have no real idea when this sticker was printed and sold or given away [now updated, see below ], but I believe the caption translates as “Naturally, Harz.”

The caption might seem a little cryptic, unless you imagine a sticker with a women wearing nothing but a ten-gallon hat, with the caption “Naturally Texas.” That is because the witch is from the Harz mountains naturally (i.e., obviously), she is a witch and witches congregate on The Brocken in the Harz mountains, just as ten-gallon hats breed on the heads of Texans. Or something.

The witch is also as naked. That is, she is “naked as nature intended”—she is a natural beauty—and she is presented in her natural state (remember that nudists were also called—and may still be called—naturists [not naturalists, though they may be naturalists too].)

The Brocken, and large parts of the Harz mountains for all I know, sells itself as a tourist destination because it is an area of natural beauty, like a nature reserve or national or state park. So, the caption seems to also be both a claim (the Harz mountains is an area of natural beauty) and an invitation (“Come to the Harz Mountains to enjoy nature”).

Combine these three and you see that we should all go to the Harz mountains, to see nature and naked witches, or to enjoy nature and naked witches. Or something. I swear I am not making this up!

[UPDATE 18 July 2011: As Twixraider comments, the typography, photography, makeup and poor colour separation suggest a date earlier than 2000—which is the date given to it by the person I bought it from. I have chosen the mid-point of "the late 1970's or early 1980's": thanks Twix!]

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