Campfire Witches, 1946
In Stuart L. Schneider’s Halloween in America: A Collector’s Guide With Prices (1995), 185, a copy of the following photo appears which has annotations on its edge that identify the actresses below as Jane Adams (left) and Patricia Alphin (right). The actor playing the tree is not identified but, damn, he is ugly.
This Universal Studio publicity photo is numbered 08-P128 and dated 7 August 1946. Yes, August, not October. A bit early for Halloween? Well, perhaps I can explain. Both Adams and Alphin only appear together (uncredited) in A Night in Paradise, which imdb says was released on 3 May 1946 in the US (5 June in New York). So this press photo may be an attempt by the studio to fill the publicity vacuum following the film. Then again, the photo may have nothing to do with the film and the fact that they appeared together in the film and the photo may be purely fortuitous. After all, they are both “Universal Stars” and they are both very pretty (and very pretty stars need constant publicity, yes?).
For Patricia Alphin, A Night in Paradise was only the second of a score of films in which she appeared, uncredited, between 1946 and 1949. Having got nowhere in particular in Hollywood, she gave up acting. I am not really sure why she wasn’t a success. I mean, even the tree can’t take his eyes off her!
By 1946 Jane Adams (aka Betty Jane Bierce, aka Poni Adams) had already done a stint in Westerns, Horror and Action films (she playing a hunchbacked nurse in House of Dracula (1945) which has insured her place as one of Universal’s Leading Ladies from the Golden Age of Horror), and she continued acting in film and on television into the early 50s. In August of 1946—when this photo was released—no less than three films in which she appeared were released (Rustler’s Round-up, Gunman’s Code and Lawless Breed) so perhaps the publicity photo was all about Adams the Star of Westerns and we should be focusing on the campfire? Or perhaps, since her next film was a Horror film (The Brute Man) this was the studio getting in some pre-publicity for her role as “Helen Paige”, a blind piano teacher? No. Oh well, clearly I haven’t got a clue about the reason for this photo appearing when it did. And until I find a copy with the studio’s “shout” glued to the back, I won’t know.
So, let’s focus on the costumes. The fabulous feedback on my newly-identified 40s starlets (my last post) has kept their costumes on my mind. I’ve been trying to remember where else I’d seen something similar when this photo occurred to me. And although the Penny Edward and Barbara Bates photo can now be dated to “ca. 1950” it is interesting to see what else was around at the time. So, here is Jane Adams’ top:
If you look closely you can see that the witches and stars on the bras (or bikini top) are tacked-on cut-outs. Here is Pat Alphin’s skirt:
I am not sure if the witches and scaredy-cats are also cut-outs on the skirt, perhaps they are and it is just not as obvious. Anyway, the cats look a lot like the ones on the tops of Edward and Bates (below). Yes?