Archive for the Halloween Category

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.

Ann Savage Riding a Gun! 1944

Posted in 40s, Halloween, Photograph on 18 June 2011 by redwitch1

Ann Savage—declared an “icon and legend” by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 2005—played the role of a femme fatale in the classic film noir Detour (1945), and starred in more than twenty films between 1943 and 1946. After appearing in Esquire in 1944, she became a favorite with the troops “making numerous personal appearance tours at various military bases in order to raise war bonds” according to IMDB. (For a better bio, see here.) So I am guessing this rather wacky photo dates from late 1944 or 1945.

Ann is sitting on a WW1-era fixed, naval anti-aircraft gun—probably 20mm—a bit similar to this one. Since she is dressed as a witch I guess we are to imagine she is flying it. Which would be difficult, seeing as it is bolted to the ground/deck. Her witch outfit is comprised almost solely of a hat. The rest, like last-week’s press photo is all pinup: a short-all-over one-piece black outfit with fishnets and heels.

Of course, if we are not going to be too literal-minded, we might imagine the gun is her(?) enormous and deadly phallus (i.e., one she controls and wields) or that it is—for her—an enormous dildo or vibrator (i.e., one she “rides” for sexual pleasure). Both options are pretty weird, but I am guessing it is the latter, and that the “troops” Ann entertained with this image were being invited to identify with the enormous and deadly phallus/dildo. Disturbing. And at this point it should be clear that you’d be well-advised to back out of any room containing either the photographer, the distributor of the photo or said soldier.

* * * * *

I said last week that I had completed my series of WW2 and earlier press photos. I was wrong. I found a few more. This one is all over the internet already, usually on enormously-long pages made up almost completely of images taken (without acknowledgment) from this site. Or, at least, pages only containing one or two images that are not on this site, and many images that are only on this site.

Acknowledgments are nice people: and it is in the interest of all bloggers and others to acknowledge where they have filched images from because, without acknowledgment and encouragement, people like me might actually stop spending all their time and money trying to find new material (i.e., images of thing not already everywhere on the internet) and then scanning and giving said images away. For free. Capisci?

Nancy Gates, 1943

Posted in 40s, Halloween, Photograph, SFW on 12 June 2011 by redwitch1

This is, unfortunately, only a reprint of a Nancy Gates Halloween press photo, but it is a very high quality one and I wanted to round out my series of press photos from before the end of WWII before I move on to other topics.

Gates (b. 1926) arrived in Hollywood in 1941 and was contracted to RKO at the age of fifteen. Over the next decade she appeared in a score of films‚including The Magnificent Ambersons and Hitler’s Children, before taking on a long series of bit-parts on TV.

The costume and props in this photo are as basic as you can get (as you can see below). In fact, the costume is comprised solely of a besom/broom and a cauldron: the bats and JOL are only “atmosphere” and the silk button-up shirt and short-shorts are simply pin-up requirements. Gates is very cute, but she looks both young and awkward among the props in this pin-up outfit. I am assuming this photo was taken in 1943 or 1944 when she was 17 or 18.

There is a second photo in this series, where Gates has her right hand on her hip and she is leaning on her broom. So far I have only seen reprints of both photos, but I am holding out for an original. With luck the snipe on an original photo will provide a more accurate date. Until then …

The Bewitched Leila Hyams, 1928

Posted in 20s, Halloween, Photograph, SFW on 21 May 2011 by redwitch1

Leila Hyams (1905–77) is best known today for her role as the kind-hearted circus performer in Freaks (1932), the wronged woman in Red-Headed Woman (1932) and the heroine in Island of Lost Souls (1933).

In her early career she “was cast in a string of supporting roles, where she was required to do very little but smile and look pretty” (as Wikipedia puts it), but by 1928 she was playing starring roles. Hyams worked for MGM from their first talkie release, Alias Jimmy Valentine (15 November 1928) and The Thirteenth Chair (19 October 1929) to Red-Headed Woman (25 June 1932). This photo was probably from early in that period (for The Thirteenth Chair perhaps).

The press snipe on the verso of this press photo reads

What A Predicament On Halloween!!

Leila Hyams, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer featured player, finds herself bewitched on the eve of spooks and boglins, unable to move from the stocks a mean old witch has placed her in.

Whoever wrote this snipe was an imbecile. Hyams, wearing a sort-of witch outfit, a very close-fitting and revealing black witch outfit, is in the stocks. So far, so good. As a witch, we might imagine her being put into the stocks by a mob waving flaming-torches and pitch forks. Or a mean old preacher-man perhaps. But why would an old witch put her in the stocks. And if the said “mean old witch” was worth her cauldron and could bewitch Hyams, WTF would she need to use stocks to keep her in place!

Moving right along, you can see below the very-polite Clarence Sinclair Bull (1896–1979) has requested due credit for this photo. I am happy to oblige.

Bull was one of the great portrait photographers who worked for the movie studios during the Golden Age of Hollywood. He was head of the MGM stills department for nearly forty years and is credited with “virtually invent[ing] celebrity portraiture as we know it today” (brief bio here, cited by Wikipedia). This is not one of his best efforts, and seems particularly weak when compared to last-week’s photo of June Collyer by Eugene Richee, which was from the same period, but I am still quite happy to have it!

Bewitching June Collyer, 1930

Posted in 30s, Halloween, Photograph, SFW on 14 May 2011 by redwitch1

Unusually, June Collyer (1906–68; aka Dorothea Heermance) had appeared in about a dozen films over three years before this press photo was released. But most of these were for Fox. Her first two films for Paramount appeared in 1929 (The Love Doctor and River of Romance), so the studio obviously decided it was a good idea to advertise their new recruit.

Also unusually, a stamp on the back of this press photo names the photographer: Eugene Robert Richee (1896–1972). Richee rates an entry on imdb (here), where we are told that he was “a studio photographer who worked for Paramount Pictures from 1925 to 1935 and took many photos of actress Louise Brooks during her time at Paramount” before moving on to MGM and Warner Brothers.

The snipe on this photo reads:

International Newsreel Photo 3246 A&C Los Angeles Bureau (O)

June Collyer, screen player, replaces the proverbial black Hallowe’en Cat with the white variety for good luck.

I am not sure that four, stuffed, white cats would bring you much in the way of good luck. In fact, unless the cats were offerings to Sekhmet the Great, Mistress of Dread, Lady of the Bloodbath, Ruler of the Chamber of Flames, I reckon your life wouldn’t be worth a bean.

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.


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