40s Halloween Starlets revisited

A couple of years ago I did a post on the above image in which I puzzled over the Vitagraph watermark hidden in the bottom right-hand corner. I said at the time that “unless someone can identify these Hollywood starlets, or the particular costumes that they are modelling, the date of this photo is likely to remain a mystery”. Well no-one has explained the watermark or identified the starlets [they have now, see my UPDATES below], but I have made some progress on the costumes. Examine them closely. One is a wrap-around, the other, not.

[Now identified as Penny Edward and Barbara Bates]

Now check out the following photos:

[Now identified as Martha Vickers]

[Now identified as Gale Robbins]

Notice anything? (Apart from the fish-net stockings!) Yep, they are the same costumes. One of each, which is pretty neat. Unfortunately, I still don’t know who any of the women are, or when the photos were taken, so it is not much to add after two years of collecting. But they are pretty cool pictures anyway. And I have now doubled the chances that someone will recognise one of the models. If you do, let me know!

[UPDATE 27 Oct 08: Well, you people are Gods! Three of my starlets now have names: Penny Edward and Barbara Bates are the two women in the first photo; and Martha Vickers is the woman in the second photo. All that remains is to identify our diva with the fishnet stockings!

Not only have I been given some names to work with, but someone has already raced ahead (like swift-footed Achilles) and found a French magazine that uses the first photo—but coloured and cropped—on its cover (V [no. 296] for 4 June 1950). I have, of course, immediately ordered a copy. When it arrives I will post it and anything else I find in the meantime.]

[UPDATE 8 March 09: An anonymous reader has identified our final anonymous starlet as Gale Robbins, aka Betty Gale Robbins, whose career started in 1944 (when she was 23). Whoever you are: thank you!]

[UPDATE 2 April 09: My copy of V with Penny Edward and Barbara Bates on the cover (mentioned above) has now arrived, it is beautiful, but is too big to scan. The photo below is the best I can do for the moment, but I plan on doing a proper post on this soon!]

23 Responses to “40s Halloween Starlets revisited”

  1. I suspect it’s actually the same top, only in one it’s tied at front, and in the other it’s tied at back (and thus unseen).

  2. Livia Indica Says:

    Hi there. I’ve nominated you for an award on my tattoo blog.

  3. Well the second one looks like a very young Barbara Stanwyck

  4. No idea on who the models may be but the pictures are great! In the third one I love the paper mache cat on the fence and also the very creepy pig mask on the scarecrow. Great stuff!

  5. From Italy Says:

    Wonderfull Site!

  6. Red Witch Says:

    Thanks folks.

    DrJon, what can I say but Brilliant! I don’t know why that didn’t occur to me before. You are undoubtedly right.

    Livia, I am honoured. Many thanks; and “from Italy” you are also very kind. Hawthorn, I will look into it. I find it so hard to tell all of these beautiful people apart. I guess that is part of the intolerable burden of being beautiful.

    Absinthe, you are right, the scarecrow is creepy, really creepy, which is as it should be. But notice that only the metal JOL features in every shot? It must have been the photographer’s favourite. And it is mine too, I want one!


  7. They're Penny Edwards & Barbara Bates- according to Skylighters.org's Halloween page:


    Love your site. :)

  8. Anonymous Says:

    The duo might be penny edwards and
    barbara bates.

    As seemingly identified here


  9. Anonymous Says:

    The godess with the poy may be
    Martha Vickers.

    As indicated here

  10. Chooks'r'us Says:

    How gorgeous is Martha Vickers! I agree with earlier comment about the top being tied at the front rather than a wrap around. Great post to revisit!

  11. Chooks'r'us Says:

    How gorgeous is Martha Vickers! I agree with earlier comment about the top being tied at the front rather than a wrap around. Great post to revisit!

  12. Chooks'r'us Says:

    How gorgeous is Martha Vickers! I agree with earlier comment about the top being tied at the front rather than a wrap around. Great post to revisit!

  13. Those are definitely some sexy witches, especially the ones in the top and bottom pics.

  14. David(Vlad) Says:

    Interesting Penny Edwards left acting for religious reasons as she was devout catholic.

    Here http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,823347,00.html she says
    “I guess I posed for every kind of cheesecake there is, but now my heart has been changed.”

  15. Anonymous Says:

    the unknow witch it’s gal robbins

  16. […] witches; witches in fiction, film and art: they will all be here in time, so stay tuned. « 40s Halloween Starlets revisited Hollywood Halloween Witch, 1940 […]

  17. […] Edward and Barbara Bates, and the photo can be dated quite safely to 1949 or 1950 (see my post here). The only mystery that remains now is what on earth a “Vitagraph Inc” watermark is doing in this […]

  18. I am truly grateful to the owner of this web site who
    has shared this impressive article at at this time.

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