Monday, 30 June 2014

A H Williamson - A Woodcut of Caterham

I have had this image stored on the computer for quite sometime and I don't know why I haven't tried any research. It's a woodcut titled "Caterham" by an artist A H Williamson, dated 1933, which came up for auction last year and if I recall correctly it sold for about £20 !! sadly; a typical price at auction for small woodcuts.

I like these austere inter-war period woodcuts, very much in the style of Hughes Blair-Stanton or Paul Nash. Very masculine, quite depressing, an under tone of malevolence. Which isn't true of the view, Caterham is a pleasant commuter town in the Surrey Hills and I am farely sure that this is Church Hill.

A very similar view of Church Hill.
Wooden fence and trees, even the slope on the right look correct. 

and here is an old black and white photo dating to c1925 from the Frith Archive - Link

.... and the artist "A H Williamson" ?? I am begining to believe that it is Alexander Hardie Williamson but currently I am not positive. I am researching a few tendrils of information and I will post again soon.

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Delores del Rio - Female Latin Lover

Have you ever watched "Flying Down to Rio" ?? You know; the one you think starred Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire ! Whilst it may have made the dancing duo "stars", they were not the top billed name. That privilege went to the breath-takingly beautiful Mexican actress Delores del Rio (1905-1983) 

 Dolores del Río was a Mexican born film actress; a star in Hollywood in the 1920s and 1930s before establishing herself as one of the most important female figures of the Golden Age of Mexican cinema in the 1940s and 1950s. She was considered one of the most beautiful women of her time, a mythical figure in Latin America and quintessential representation of the feminine face of Mexico to the world.

During the 1920's and 1930's in Hollywood, Dolores was considered one of the most beautiful women of her time, a sort of female version of Rudolph Valentino, the "Latin lover" in the silent films. Her career flourished at the end of the silent era, with success in films such as; Resurrection (1927), Ramona (1928) and Evangeline (1929). Unlike many other established silent stars she was easily able to adapt to the talkies. She featured in such successful films as; Bird of Paradise (1932), Flying Down to Rio (1933), Madame Du Barry,Wonder Bar (1934) and Journey into Fear (1942).

 Of course their was more to Delores, she was married to the MGM's art designer Cedric Gibbons and also had a four-year relationship with Orson Welles, who was 10 years her junior. The result of a teenage infatuation, having fallen in love with after seening in the 1932 film, Bird Of Paradise. He considered her the great love of his life;“The most intense and volcanic passion I had in my life.

Sadly her star in Hollywood began to fade after she refused to be cast in the anti-Mexican film, Viva Villa! in 1935; her refusal led to her contract with Warner Bros being cancelled and in effect marked the start of the end of her Hollywood career. This combined with a change tastes, the "exotic latin lover" star had had it's day but studios refuse to cast her in more challenging roles where they prefered to cast more box office safe, American actresses. She did appear in several films during the late 1930's, but nothing that you would wish to view, the straight to video types.

Hollywood's loss was the Mexican film industries gain, where she appeared in over 20 films plus many TV appearances. There were a few also a few more Mainstream Hollywood films such as John Ford's 1947 film, The Fugitive with Henry Fonda, Flaming Star (1960) with Elvis Presley and Barbara Eden and another John Ford production with his 1964 Western Cheyenne Autumn, where part listed simply as "Spanish Women"

"Delores Dio Rio" etching in colour by Frank Martin (1921-2005)
Her box office power may have waned but her beauty is eternal, captured on film, in photographs and expressed in many graphic forms; Posters, Fanzines and Art.

Classic 1930's commercial art form the covers of fanzines.
Try and track down some of her films --

Saturday, 14 June 2014

Delores Costello (1903-1979)

Delores and Helene Costello were born to perform as their parents were the actors Mae and Maurice Costello. Although they made their names in late silent and early talkie films during the 1920’s and 30’s, both had appeared in silent films as children.

They often appeared with their father (who was quite the matinee idol) in films produced by the Vitagraph Film Company from c1909 until 1915. The girl went on to perform together in Broadway shows and were soon noticed by the big Hollywood studios, especially in Delores case, MGM.

Even though Delores' first recorded appearance on film was as a fairy in the 1909 version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, she grew up to be “The Goddess of the Silent Screen”; a nickname she had acquired by 1926 and even had a stint in the Wampas Baby Stars. After her move from Broadway she was contracted to the MGM studio and after a few minor roles she starred with John Barrymore in Herman Melville’s “Moby Dick”. She also starred along side Barrymore in the 1927 film “When a Man Loves”. I think he must have taken this title to heart as Delores and John were to marry in 1928.

Both sister together in this adorable woodcut print by Frank Martin.

As often seems to be the case with silent starlets, her transition to the talkies wasn’t smooth as she had a lisp which made her uncomfortable in front of a microphone. Undeterred, she took voice coaching and was soon back on the screen appearing with her sister Helene in the 1929 film “The Show of Show”. After the birth of her children, she gradually reduced her work load effectively retiring in 1931.

Later in life, she appeared in a few films, with the last being “This is the Army” in 1943 after which she led a secluded life managing an avocado farm. Interestingly her grand daughter inherited her lisp, the lovely Drew Barrymore

Friday, 13 June 2014

Annabella - Total Glamour

This original etching by Frank Martin (1921-2005) is titled just "Annabella", no second name. An actress ??

Yes. “Annabella” was the stage name of the French actress Suzanne Georgette Charpentier (1907-1996). Annabella was a star of French movies during the 1930′s before moving to Hollywood in 1938, where she met and married Tyrone Power. She appeared in over 40 films from 1927 until the 1950′s.

Annabella's film career statred when her father, a film producer, gave her a small part in Napoléon in 1927 and soon established herself as a star with the film Le Million. In 1936 she won the Volpi Cup for Best Actress at the Venice Film Festival for Veille d'armes (1935).

She was cast as the female lead in the British-made film Wings of the Morning (1937) opposite Henry Fonda. By then she was under contract to 20th Century Fox, which led her America and Hollywood, appearing in Suez (1938) with Loretta Young and Tyrone Power. Her romance with Power was widely reported by movie magazines of the day. Darryl Zanuck, movie mogul at 20th Century-Fox, did not want his matinee idol married. He offered Annabella a multi-movie deal that would take her overseas but she married Power on April 23, 1939.

Darryl F. Zanuck, angry with her for marrying his top box office star did not cast her in movies despite Annabella’s contract with 20th Century-Fox. Neither was she loaned out to other studios forcing her to appear on the stage. Whilst Annabella had an affair with author Roald Dahl; she refused to give Power a divorce to marry Judy Garland.

 Annabella died, aged 89 from a heart attack and is burried in Passy Cemetery.

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Billy Rose's Diamond Horseshoe

Billy Rose's Diamond Horseshoe was a New York nightclub in the basement of the Paramount Hotel, Times Square. Opened in 1938 by the Broadway impresario William Samual Rosenberg (Billy Rose) and continued until closure in 1951.

During it’s time it was know for lively cabaret and dance shows and whilst Billy was looking for a choreographer for a new show at the Horseshoe; Gene Kelly was recommended, Billy objected, saying that he wanted someone who could choreograph "tits and asses", not "soft-soap from a crazy Armenian" However, after seeing Kelly's performance, he gave Kelly the job, an important step in Kelly's career. 

The Diamond Horseshoe was also the setting and title of a 1945 20th Century Fox musical starring Betty Grable and it was this film that was the inspiration for the colour etching shown above. I think it is Betty who appears as the central figure in the etching. The film poster associated with the picture are all bright showy and gay, in your face and can't miss type - never the less still stylish and typical of the date.

 The film was usual musical feel good love story - pure entertainment. The cast included Betty Grable, Dick Haymes, William Gaxton, Phil Silvers, Carman Cavallaro, Willie Dumont, Margaret Dumont and Beatrice Kay.

Monday, 9 June 2014

Norma Talmadge (1894-1957) - Mind the Concrete !

Another American film actress from the golden era of Hollywood's silent era. She was one third of the "Talmadge Sisters" with her younger sisters Constance and Natalie.

After looking at the etching on the right, you would not be surprised to learn that she specialised in the tragic melodramatic roles whilst her sisters were cast in more comic roles.

Initially Norma's career was based in the New York City studios of Vitagraph before leaving for Hollywood !! She produced many of her own films, especially those after 1919. Norma's career reached a peak in the early 1920's with such films the 1922 picture "Smilin' Through" and "Secrets" in 1924.

During this period her popularity was amongst the highest of the American screen idols. Sadly, as with so many of the silent stars her career faded with the coming of talkies. She acted in two talkies but both were disappointing at the box office.

Talmadge married the millionaire film producer Joseph Schenck and together they founded their own production company. Which I think was called the "Norma Talmadge Film Corporation" with their first film being the 1917 picture "Panthea" Despite her failure to conquer the early talkies she retired a very wealthy lady. After retiring she shunned the trapping of stardom preferring to go unnoticed. It was reported that she told eager fans who were pressing her for an autograph as she left a restaurant, "Get away, dears. I don't need you anymore”.

In 1956, she was voted by her peers as one of the top five female stars of the pre-1925 era, but was too ill to travel to Rochester, New York to accept her award and after suffering a series of strokes she died of pneumonia on Christmas Eve 1957. At the time of her death, her estate was valued at more than $1,000,000. For her contribution to the motion picture industry, Norma has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1500 Vine Street.

Have ever seen the foot print and signature in the concrete outside Grauman's Chinese Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard ?? Well, this tradition was all started by accident when on the 18th of May 1927 Norma stepped in some wet concrete !! all apparently by mistake - the rest is history.

Filmography (probably not complete)

1910 - The Household Pest
1910 - Uncle Tom's Cabin
1910 - Love of Chrysanthemum
1910 - A Dixie Mother
1910 - A Broken Spell
1911 - A Tale of Two Cities
1915 - Captivating Mary Carstairs
1915 - The Battle Cry of Peace
1915 - The Crown Prince's Double
1916 - The Missing Links
1916 - Martha's Vindication
1916 - Going Straight
1916 - The Devil's Needle
1916 - The Social Secretary
1916 - Fifty-Fifty
1917 - Panthea
1917 - The Law of Compensation
1917 - Poppy
1917 - The Moth
1917 - The Secret of the Storm Country
1918 - The Ghosts of Yesterday
1918 - By Right of Purchase
1918 - De Luxe Annie
1918 - The Safety Curtain
1918 - Her Only Way
1918 - The Forbidden City
1919 - The Heart of Wetona
1919 - The New Moon
1919 - The Probation Wife
1919 - Dust of Desire
1919 - The Way of a Woman
1919 - The Isle of Conquest
1920 - She Loves and Lies
1920 - A Daughter of Two Worlds
1920 - The Women Gives
1920 - Yes or No
1920 - The Branded Woman
1921 - Passion Flower
1921 - The Sign on the Door
1921 - The Wonderful Thing
1921 - Love's Redemption
1922 - Smilin' Through
1922 - The Eternal Flame
1923 - The Voice from the Minaret
1923 - Within the Law
1923 - Ashes of Vengeance
1923 - The Song of Love
1924 - Secrets
1924 - The Only Woman
1925 - The Lady
1925 - Graustark
1926 - Kiki
1926 - Camille
1927 - The Dove
1928 - The Woman Disputed
1929 - New York Nights
1930 - Du Barry, Woman of Passion

Art work by Ann Brockman (1899-1943)
As she was major star many great photographs and films stills are easy to find and many of her films date from a period when advertising graphics were created by graphic artists, sketching, drawing and painting, rather then the use of artified film stills.
This cover was painted by
Margery Edna McMein (1888-1949)


Saturday, 7 June 2014

Nancy Carroll (1903-1965) - What a SWEETIE

Nancy Carroll was a New York born Hollywood Star whose popularity in the early 1930’s led to her recieving the most fan mail of any actress of her era. Born Ann Veronica Lahiff; her early career in New York followed a familiar path, from local talent contests to stage shows to an acting career in Broadway musicals.


 Nancy is shown below as Daisy Heath from the 1928 film “A Shopworn Angel” 

It wasn't long before she was signed up by a big Hollywood studio and in her case it was Paramount Picture. Her 1927 talkie debut was in the film “Ladies Must Dress” playing Mazie. This was followed in 1928 by 8 further films, including “Easy Come, Easy Go” with Richard Dix which made her a STAR !

In the next few years she was kept busy, completing 6 films in 1929, 6 in 1930 and 3 in 1931. Although clearly a star signing for the studio, she was released from her Paramount contract c1935 as she had earned herself a reputation of being uncooperative, often refusing to take roles offered to her.

Sadly by the late 1930’s her star had fallen and was no longer considered an A-list bankable star with her final film being “There Goes My Heart” in 1938. After the end of her film career she returned to stage and appeared in a few television series in the 1950’s & 60’s.

She died in 1965 having been found dead after failing to arrive for a theatre performance. She is remembered as a fiesty character and has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Filmography - with selected art posters. Links (in black) to purchase film or poster.

1927 Ladies Must Dress
1928 Easy Come, Easy Go
1928 Chicken a La King
1928 The Water Hole
1928 Manhattan Cocktail
1928 The Shopworn Angel
1929 The Wolf of Wall Street
1929 Sin Sister
1929 Close Harmony
1929 The Dance of Life
1930 Honey 1929 Illusion
1929 Sweetie
1930 Paramount on Parade
1930 Follow Thru
1930 Dangerous Paradise
1930 The Devil's Holiday
1930 Laughter
1931 Personal Maid
1931 Night Angel
1931 Stolen Heaven
1932 Broken Lullaby
1932 Wayward
1932 Hot Saturday
1932 Scarlet Dawn
1932 Under-Cover Man
1933 Child of Manhattan
1933 The Woman Accused
1933 The Kiss Before the Mirror
1933 I Love That Man
1934 Springtime for Henry
1934 Transatlantic Merry-Go-Round
1934 Jealousy
1935 I'll Love You Always
1935 After the Dance
1935 Atlantic Adventure
1938 That Certain Age
1938 There Goes My Heart

She also inspired many beautiful fan magazine cover art work.