Portrait d’une prostituée, Paris, ca. 1930

Portrait of a prostitute, Paris, ca. 1930

Colorization by Manos Athanasiadis

“Mauvaises filles”: Portrait of a prostitute (photo by Monsieur X) Paris, ca. 1930

In the early 20th century, Paris was a hotspot for prostitution. In those days, men didn’t have very exciting sex lives with their wives. Also, if you were a man in the middle class, you would get married by 35. There would always be some misbehaving uncle to show you the joys of a brothel once you hit puberty.
Alexandre Dupouy is a sex archaeologist. The French collector has spent his entire life collecting what he defines as “erotic and pornographic junk.” His shop, the Tears of Eros—now open only by appointment—has been selling pictures, paintings, and sex objects for almost half a century. It’s a sort of small museum that traces the history of sex in France.
In 1975, he received a call from a bookseller friend who said that he had an old gentleman with “something special to show him.” What he had was a luxury car with a trunk full of black-and-white photographs of naked and smiling prostitutes from the 1930s. He explained that he took most of the pictures in a brothel on the Rue Pigalle. Given that he could feel his days were numbered, the old man agreed to part with the pictures as long as he could remain anonymous. That man became known as “Monsieur X.”
On the back of the photos Monsieur X wrote the name of each girl: Mado, Suzette, Gypsi, Mimi, Nono, Pepe, etc. Monsieur X must have been close, friendly, and generous with the ladies. What is amazing is that the girls seem very relaxed in the pictures—they are actually having fun. There are even outdoor pictures taken on the banks of the Marne. He also directed two ten-minute short films, shot both outdoors and indoors. These two pieces really revealed his biggest fantasy: putting two girls together. One played a modest girl, while the other tried to be a stripper.
There are a lot of similarities to Gustave Courbet’s The Origin of the World. He also liked pretty exhibitionists. Or E. J. Bellocq—the New Orleans photographer who was also a regular customer of a local brothel, eventually making friends with the girls so that he could take any picture he wanted.
Nearly four decades later, Dupouy has decided to reprint some of this impressive collection as a book called Mauvaises filles (Bad Girls). The book is co-authored by both Dupouy and Monsieur X and published by La manufacture des livres, in 2014.
(Follow the link below to read the full interview of Alexandre Dupouy, in vice.com)
Sources / More to read:
Vice : Charming Pornographic Photographs of French Prostitutes from the 1930s
La manufacture des livres: Mauvaises filles
Amazon.co.uk: Mauvaises filles, Portraits de prostituées 1925-1935

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National Socialist, Cologne, 1937

August Sander, part four

Colorization by Manos Athanasiadis

Nationalsozialist, Köln,1937 (Die Photographische Sammlung / SK Stiftung Kultur – August Sander Archiv)

August Sander (1876–1964) was a German portrait and documentary photographer. He has been described as “the most important German portrait photographer of the early twentieth century”.
In 1929, Sander published his book “Face of our Time” (Antlitz der Zeit), a selection of 60 portraits, from his series People of the 20th Century. In this series, he aims to show a cross-section of society during the Weimar Republic.
Under the Nazi regime, his work and personal life were greatly constrained. Sander’s book was seized in 1936 and the photographic plates destroyed. His son Erich, who was a member of the left wing Socialist Workers’ Party (SAP), was arrested in 1934 and sentenced to 10 years in prison, where he died in 1944, shortly before the end of his sentence. Around 1942, during World War II, Sander left Cologne and moved to a rural area, allowing him to save most of his negatives. His studio was destroyed in a 1944 bombing raid. Thirty thousand of Sander’s roughly forty-thousand negatives survived the war, only to perish in an accidental fire in Cologne in 1946. Sander practically ceased to work as a photographer after World War II. He died in Cologne in 1964.

THE NATIONAL SOCIALIST
This photograph of a seated National Socialist Party member (sergeant of the SA paramilitary group) is the first in the portfolio entitled ‘The National Socialists’ within the group ‘Classes and Professions’, in August Sander’s major project ‘People of the 20th Century’. Sander’s ambition in this project, which he conceived in the 1920s, was to create a typology of the German people during his lifetime that would function as a scientific documentation for future generations. He organised more than 500 photographs into seven groups and over 45 portfolios, classified by the categories of estate, profession and, in this case, political affiliation. Here the subject leans back in his chair, a swastika cufflink just visible in sharp focus peeking out from underneath his brown uniform shirt, and looks confidently into the camera.
National Socialism (German: Nationalsozialismus), more commonly known as Nazism is the ideology and practice associated with the 20th-century German Nazi Party (National Socialist German Workers’ Party) and Nazi Germany, as well as other far-right groups. Nazism characterized as a form of fascism that incorporates scientific racism and anti-Semitism. It was developed out of the influences of Pan-Germanism, the Völkisch German nationalist movement and the anti-communist Freikorps paramilitary groups that emerged during the Weimar Republic after German defeat in World War I.
The Sturmabteilung (SA), literally Storm Detachment, functioned as the original paramilitary wing of the Nazi Party (NSDAP). It played a significant role in Adolf Hitler’s rise to power in the 1920s and 1930s. Their primary purposes were providing protection for Nazi rallies and assemblies, disrupting the meetings of opposing parties, fighting against the paramilitary units of the opposing parties, especially the Red Front Fighters League (Rotfrontkämpferbund) of the Communist Party of Germany (KPD), and intimidating Slavic and Romani citizens, unionists, and Jews – for instance, during the Nazi boycott of Jewish businesses. The SA developed pseudo-military titles for its members. The SA ranks were adopted by the Schutzstaffel (SS), which originated as a branch of the SA before being separated. Truppführer was a Nazi Party paramilitary rank that was first created in 1930 as a rank of the Sturmabteilung (SA). Translated as “Troop Leader”, the rank of Truppführer was considered the equivalent of a senior sergeant, or sergeant first class. The SA have been known in contemporary times as “Brownshirts” (Braunhemden). Brown-coloured shirts were chosen as the SA uniform because a large batch of them were cheaply available after World War I, having originally been ordered during the war for colonial troops posted to Germany’s former African colonies. In the 1930s, the Hugo Boss Company produced these brown SA shirts along with the all-black SS uniform and the black-and-brown uniforms of the Hitler Youth.
Hugo Ferdinand Boss (1885–1948) was a German fashion designer and businessman. He was the founder of the clothing company Hugo Boss. Boss was born in Metzingen, in the Kingdom of Wurttemberg. He did an apprenticeship as a merchant, completed military service from 1903 to 1905 and worked in a weaving mill in Konstanz. In 1914, he was mobilized into the army and he served through World War I with the rank of corporal. He founded his own clothing company in Metzingen in 1923, producing shirts and jackets and then work-clothing, sportswear and raincoats. In 1928 he became the official supplier of uniforms to the SA, SS, Hitler Youth, National Socialist Motor Corps, and other party organizations. Boss joined the Nazi Party in 1931, and became a sponsoring member of the SS. He also joined the German Labour Front in 1936, the Reich Air Protection Association in 1939, and the National Socialist People’s Welfare in 1941. After joining these organizations, his sales increased from 38,260 Reichsmark (25.393,12 € ($26,993)) in 1932 to over 3,300,000 RM in 1941. After World War II, Boss was fined “a very heavy penalty” of 100,000 DM (66.371,32 € ($70,553)) for his support of Nazism and was not allowed to vote. He died of a tooth abscess in 1948, but his business survived.
In 1999, US lawyers acting on behalf of Holocaust survivors started legal proceedings against the Hugo Boss company over the use of slave labour during the war. The misuse of 140 Polish and 40 French forced workers led to an apology by the company.
Sources/More to Read:
Wikipedia: August Sander
Die Photographische Sammlung/SK Stiftung Kultur
August Sander Foundation
Wikipedia: Nazism
Wikipedia: Sturmabteilung
Wikipedia: Truppführer
Wikipedia: Hugo_Boss (fashion designer)
Wikipedia: Hugo_Boss (company)

See also my other posts about August Sander’s work
Widower with his sons, Cologne, 1914
Confirmation candidate, 1911
The Notary, Cologne, 1924

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Margot Fonteyn, London, 1935

Emil Otto Hoppé – Part Two
Colorization & Restoration by Manos Athanasiadis

Colorization & Restoration by Manos Athanasiadis

Margot Fonteyn, 1935 (Curatorial Assistance, Inc. / E.O. Hoppé Estate Collection)

Margot Fonteyn by E.O.Hoppé, 1935 (Curatorial Assistance, Inc. / E.O. Hoppé Estate Collection)

Dame Margot Fonteyn de Arias, DBE (1919 – 1991), was an English ballerina.
Fonteyn was born Margaret Evelyn Hookham in Reigate, Surrey. Her father, Felix, was a British engineer and her mother, Hilda, was half Irish and half Brazilian, the daughter of Brazilian industrialist Antonio Fontes. Very early in her career Margaret took the name by which she was known all her life, “Margot Fonteyn”, with surname derived from “Fontes”, also adopted by her brother—Portuguese “fonte” is “fountain” in modern English, “fonteyn” in Middle English. Her later formal married name was “Margot Fonteyn de Arias”, in the Spanish-language tradition.
At four years of age her mother signed her and her elder brother up for ballet classes. At age eight, Margot traveled to China with her mother and father, who had taken employment with a tobacco company there. For six years Margot lived in TianJin, then in Shanghai, where she studied ballet with Russian emigre teacher George Goncharov. Her mother brought her back to London when she was 14, to pursue a ballet career.
In 1933 Fonteyn joined the Vic-Wells Ballet School, (later Royal Ballet School) which was founded by Ninette de Valois in 1928.  De Valois believed in Fonteyn’s talent and pushed her through difficult moments.By 1939 Fonteyn had performed principal roles in Giselle, Swan Lake and The Sleeping Beauty and was appointed Prima Ballerina. Until then all leading dancers in Britain had been Russian or French.
In the 1940s she and Robert Helpmann formed a very successful dance partnership, and they toured together for several years. When the Royal Ballet toured the United States in 1949, Fonteyn instantly became a celebrity for her performances. In the 1950s she danced regularly with Michael Somes.
In 1951 Fonteyn was decorated a Commander of the Order of the British Empire, and in 1956 she became Dame of the Order of the British Empire, after which she was known as Dame Margot Fonteyn.
Fonteyn began her greatest artistic partnership at a time when many people thought she was about to retire. In 1961 Rudolf Nureyev defected to the West, and on 21 February 1962 he and Fonteyn first performed together in Giselle. She was 42 and he was 24. Their performance was a great success. They created an on-and-offstage partnership that lasted until her retirement in 1979 at age 61. Fonteyn and Nureyev became known for inspiring repeated frenzied curtain calls and bouquet tosses. Despite differences in background and temperament, and a 19-year gap in ages, Nureyev and Fonteyn became close lifelong friends and were famously loyal to each other.
During the late 1930s and early 1940s Fonteyn had a long relationship with composer Constant Lambert. In 1955, at age 36, she married in Paris a man she had met in her youth: Robert E. Arias, “Tito,” the son of the former president of Panama who became the Panamanian ambassador in London. In 1959, whilst Margot continued her successful career, Arias planned an armed invasion to Panama City. Fonteyn was arrested for helping Arias to attempt a coup d’etat against the government. Confidential British government files released in 2010 showed that Fonteyn knew of and had some involvement in the coup attempt. In 1964 a rival Panamanian politician shot Arias, leaving him a quadriplegic for the rest of his life.
In 1979, Fonteyn made her last stage appearance and received, from the Royal Ballet in England, the title “prima ballerina assoluta,” a title only given to three ballerinas in the 20th century. After her retirement Fonteyn spent all her time in Panama, and was close to her husband and his children from an earlier marriage. She had no pension, and had spent all her savings looking after her husband. Shortly before her husband’s death, in 1989, Fonteyn was diagnosed with a cancer that proved fatal. She died on 21 February 1991 in a hospital in Panama City, Panama, aged 71.
Emil Otto Hoppé (1878–1972) was a German-born British portrait, travel, and topographic photographer active between 1907 and 1945. Hoppé was one of the most important photographic artists of his era and highly celebrated in his time. He was the undisputed leader of pictorial portraiture in Europe. In the 1930s Hoppé photographed a number of dancers at the Vic-Wells company including Margot Fonteyn, Ninette de Valois, Hermione Darnborough and Beatrice Appleyard.
Sources / More to Read:
Wikipedia: Margot Fonteyn
Daily Mail: Fonteyn in Panama coup attempt
Wikipedia: E.O. Hoppé

Anna May Wong, by George Hurrell, 1938

Colorization & Restoration by Manos Athanasiadis

Colorization & Restoration by Manos Athanasiadis

Anna May Wong (photo: George Hurell) 1938

Anna May Wong (photo: George Hurell) 1938

Anna May Wong (born Wong Liu Tsong, 1905–1961) was an American actress. She is considered to be the first Chinese American movie star, and also the first Asian American actress to gain international recognition. Her long and varied career spanned silent film, sound film, television, stage and radio.
Born in Los Angeles to second-generation Chinese-American parents, Wong became infatuated with the movies and began acting in films at an early age. During the silent film era, she acted in The Toll of the Sea (1922), one of the first movies made in color. Her big breakthrough came when Douglas Fairbanks cast her in a supporting role as a treacherous Mongol slave in The Thief of Bagdad (1924). The $2-million blockbuster production made her known to critics and the movie-going public. For better or worse, a star, albeit of the stereotypical “Dragon Lady” type, was born.
Despite her waxing fame, she was limited to supporting roles, as Caucasian actresses, continued to be cast as Asian women in lead roles. She was unable to attract lead parts despite her beauty and proven acting talent, even in films featuring Asian women. The characters she played typically were duplicitous or murderous vamps that often reaped the wages of their sin by being raped. Frustrated by the stereotypical supporting roles she reluctantly played in Hollywood, Wong left for Europe in the late 1920s, where she starred in several notable plays and films. European directors appreciated Wong’s unique talents and beauty, and they used her in ways that stereotype-minded Hollywood, hemmed in by American prejudice, would not or could not. Moving to Germany to appear in German films, she became acquainted with German film personalities, including Marlene Dietrich and Leni Riefenstahl. She learned German and French and began to develop a continental European attitude and outlook. Anna May Wong was featured in magazines all over the world, she became a media superstar, and her coiffure and complexion were copied, while “coolie coats” became the rage. The 170-cm-tall beauty was known as the world’s best-dressed woman and widely considered to have the loveliest hands in the cinema.
She spent the first half of the 1930s traveling between the United States and Europe for film and stage work. Her best role in Hollywood in the early 1930s was in support of Marlene Dietrich in Oscar-winning classic Shanghai Express (1932). However, Hollywood in the 1930s was as racist as it had been in the Roaring Twenties, and MGM refused to cast her in its 1932 production of The Son-Daughter (1932), for which she did a screen-test, as she was “too Chinese to play a Chinese.”
In 1935 Wong was dealt the most severe disappointment of her career, when MGM refused to consider her for the leading role of the Chinese character O-Lan in the film The Good Earth, choosing instead the German actress Luise Rainer to play the leading role. Albert Lewin, the Thalberg assistant who was casting the film, vetoed Wong and other ethnic Chinese because their looks didn’t fit his conception of what Chinese people should look like. Ironically, the year “The Good Earth” came out, Wong appeared on the cover of Look Magazine’s second issue, which labeled her “The World’s Most Beautiful Chinese Girl.” Luise Rainer would win the Best Actress Oscar for her performance of O-Lan in Chinese drag.
Wong spent the next year touring China, visiting her family’s ancestral village and studying Chinese culture. Though Wong was one of Hollywood’s more memorable victims of racism in being denied leading roles in A-list pictures because the racist mores of the times prevented an Asian woman from kissing a Caucasian actor, she was considered socially suspect by her own people. The roles she was forced to accept in order to have an acting career, as well as her status as a single woman disgusted many Chinese in America and in her ancestral homeland, where actresses were equated with prostitutes and where women were still played by men in classical opera. On her trip, Anna May was welcomed by the country’s cultural elite in cosmopolitan Beijing and Shanghai, but she had to abandon a trip to her parents’ ancestral village when her progress was blocked by a crowd of protesters.
Wong’s personal relationships typically were with older Caucasian men, but California law forbade marriage between Asians and Caucasians until 1948. One of her white lovers offered to marry her in Mexico, but the couple’s intentions became known and he backed off when his Hollywood career was jeopardized. Wong mused about marrying a Chinese man at times, but the Chinese culture held actresses to be on a par with prostitutes, which made her suspect marriage material. She was afraid that the mores of her culture likely meant that marrying a Chinese would force her to quit her career and be an obedient wife.
Anna May Wong loved reading, and her favorite subjects spanned a wide range, everything from Asian history and Tzu Lao to William Shakespeare. She never married but occupied her time with golf, horses, and skiing. Wong smoked, drank too much, and suffered from depression.
In the late 1930s, she starred in several B movies for Paramount Pictures, portraying Chinese Americans in a positive light. She paid less attention to her film career during World War II, when she devoted her time and money to helping the Chinese cause against Japan. Wong returned to the public eye in the 1950s in several television appearances. In 1951, she made history with her TV show The Gallery of Madame Liu-Tsong, the first ever U.S. television show starring an Asian American series lead.
She had been planning to return to film in Flower Drum Song when she died of a massive heart attack on February 3, 1961, in Santa Monica, CA, after a long struggle against Laennec’s cirrhosis, a disease of the liver. She was 56 years old.
For decades after her death, Wong was remembered principally for the stereotypical “Dragon Lady” and demure “Butterfly” roles that she was often given. Her life and career were re-evaluated in the years around the centennial of her birth, in three major literary works and film retrospectives.
George Edward Hurrell (1904–1992) was a photographer who contributed to the image of glamour presented by Hollywood during the 1930s and 1940s.
Born in Cincinnati, Ohio, Hurrell originally studied as a painter with no particular interest in photography. He first began to use photography only as a medium for recording his paintings. After moving to Laguna Beach, California from Chicago, Illinois in 1925 he met many other painters who had connections. One of those connections was Edward Steichen who encouraged him to pursue photography after seeing some of his works. Hurrell eventually opened a photographic studio in Los Angeles.
In the late 1920s, Hurrell was introduced to the actor Ramon Novarro and agreed to take a series of photographs of him. Novarro was impressed with the results and showed them to the actress Norma Shearer, who was attempting to mould her wholesome image into something more glamorous and sophisticated in an attempt to land the title role in the movie The Divorcee. She asked Hurrell to photograph her in poses more provocative than her fans had seen before. After she showed these photographs to her husband, MGM production chief Irving Thalberg, Thalberg was so impressed that he signed Hurrell to a contract with MGM Studios, making him head of the portrait photography department. But in 1932, Hurrell left MGM after differences with their publicity head, and from then on until 1938 ran his own studio. Throughout the decade, Hurrell photographed every star contracted to MGM, and his striking black-and-white images were used extensively in the marketing of these stars.
In the early 1940s Hurrell moved to Warner Brothers Studios and later in the decade, he moved to Columbia Pictures where his photographs were used to help the studio build the career of Rita Hayworth.
He left Hollywood briefly to make training films for the First Motion Picture Unit of the United States Army Air Forces. When he returned to Hollywood in the mid-1950s his old style of glamour had fallen from favour. Where he had worked hard to create an idealised image of his subjects, the new style of Hollywood glamour was more earthy and gritty, and for the first time in his career Hurrell’s style was not in demand. He moved to New York and worked for the advertising industry where glamour was still valued. He continued his work for fashion magazines and photographed for print advertisements for several years before returning to Hollywood in the 1960s.
Hurrell died from complications from bladder cancer shortly after completing a TBS documentary about his life. He died on May 17, 1992.
Since his death, his vintage works have continued to appreciate in value and examples of his artistic output can be found in the permanent collections of numerous museums around the world.
Sources/More to Read:
Wikipedia: Anna May Wong
Wikipedia: George Hurrell
George Hurrell Official Site
Scandalous Women: Anna May Wong
IMDb: Anna May Wong
BuzzFeed: Anne Helen Petersen’s “Scandals of Classic Hollywood: Sex, Deviance, and Drama from the Golden Age of American Cinema” (bonus chapter)

Costică Acsinte’s Foto Splendid Studio, Romania, 1935-1945

Colorization by Manos Athanasiadis

Colorization by Manos Athanasiadis

Colorization by Manos Athanasiadis

Colorization by Manos Athanasiadis

Young girl (Costică Acsinte) 1935-1940

Young girl (Costică Acsinte) 1935-1940

Young girl (Costică Acsinte) 1935-1940

Young girl (Costică Acsinte) 1935-1940

Constantin Axinte (1897-1984) known as Costică Acsinte, was a Romanian photographer, born in the village of Perieți, Ialomița County, Romania. At the age of 18 he graduated from the Cotroceni Piloting School in Bucharest, but he did not obtain the pilot license. After serving as a Romanian war photographer from World War I through 1920, Acsinte settled in Slobozia in the south of the country. In 1930 he set up a studio called Foto Splendid Acsinte. There he proceeded to document the surrounding community in over 5,000 images. He retired in 1960 and his studio being demolished shortly after. Acsinte died in 1984, and the glass-plate negatives were mostly forgotten and left in storage.
This documentation of Romania centered between 1935 and 1945 could have been totally lost if it weren’t for the Ialomița County Museum, which acquired all 5,000 of the plates in the 1990s. Marked by time and entropy, these decaying photos of Romanian life in the lead-up to World War II take on a haunting, melancholy quality. Many of the fragile glass plates had sustained damage over the years, warped by heat and moisture, the glass cracked and splintered, the delicate silver gelatin emulsion peeled, flaked and sloughed off. The destruction of the photos added a new artistic layer, by accident. Beyond the psychedelic swirls of their shrinking, pealing emulsion, next to nothing is known about the subjects of the photographs. The greater part of their allure comes not from the information revealed, but from what is obscured and denied to the viewer.
The photos have since fallen into the public domain, and photographer Cezar Popescu has been collaborating with the museum on digitizing all of Costica Acsinte’s images. Now, Popescu is crowdfunding to complete the project and improve the storage facilities of the delicate glass plates.

Sources/More to Read:
Wikipedia: Costică Acsinte
Costică Acsinte Archive
Flickr: Costică Acsinte
Mashable: 1930-1945, Beauty in decay
Jane Long Photography: Dancing with Costică
Dailymail Online: Ghosts from the land that time forgot

Marx Brothers, A Night at the Opera, 1935

Colorization by Manos Athanasiadis

Colorization by Manos Athanasiadis

Groucho, Chico, and Harpo Marx w/ cast in the stateroom scene from "A Night at the Opera" (1935)

Groucho, Chico, and Harpo Marx w/ cast in the stateroom scene from “A Night at the Opera” (1935)

The Marx Brothers were a family comedy act that was successful in vaudeville, on Broadway, and in motion pictures from 1905 to 1949. The group are almost universally known today by their stage names: Chico (Leonard Marx; 1887–1961), Harpo (Arthur Marx, born Adolph Marx; 1888–1964), Groucho (Julius Henry Marx; 1890–1977), Gummo (Milton Marx; 1893–1977), and Zeppo (Herbert Manfred Marx; 1901 –1979). The core of the act was the three elder brothers: Chico, Harpo, and Groucho. Each developed a highly distinctive stage persona.
Harpo and Chico “more or less retired” after 1949, while Groucho began a second career and became a well-known television host. Gummo was not in any of the movies; Zeppo appeared in the first five films in relatively straight (non-comedic) roles. They both left performing to run a large theatrical agency, through which they represented their brothers as well as others at times.
By the 1920s, the Marx Brothers had become one of America’s favorite theatrical acts, with their sharp and bizarre sense of humor. They satirized high society and human hypocrisy, and they became famous for their improvisational comedy in free-form scenarios. The Marx Brothers’ stage shows became popular just as motion pictures were evolving to “talkies”. They signed a contract with Paramount Pictures and embarked on their film career at Paramount studios. Their first two released films were adaptations of the Broadway shows The Cocoanuts (1929) and Animal Crackers (1930). Both were written by George S. Kaufman and Morrie Ryskind. Their third feature-length film, Monkey Business (1931), was their first movie not based on a stage production. Horse Feathers (1932), was their most popular film yet, and won them the cover of Time. Their last Paramount film, Duck Soup (1933), directed by the highly regarded Leo McCarey, is the highest rated of the five Marx Brothers films on the American Film Institute’s list.
After expiration of the Paramount contract Zeppo left the act to become an agent. Groucho and Chico did radio, and there was talk of returning to Broadway. At a bridge game with Chico, Irving Thalberg began discussing the possibility of the Marxes joining Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. They signed, now billed as “Groucho, Chico, Harpo, Marx Bros.”

Is it my imagination, or is it getting crowded in here?” Groucho Marx

A Night at the Opera (1935) was the first film made for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer starring the Marx Brothers, and featuring Kitty Carlisle, Allan Jones, Margaret Dumont, Sig Ruman, and Walter Woolf King. It was a satire on the world of opera, where the brothers help two young singers in love by throwing a production of “Il Trovatore” into chaos. At the suggestion of Thalberg, the film marked a change of direction in the brothers’ career. In their Paramount films, the brothers’ characters were much more anarchic: they attacked anybody who was so unfortunate to cross their paths whether they deserved it or not, albeit comically. Thalberg, however, felt that this made the brothers unsympathetic, particularly to female filmgoers. So in the MGM films, the brothers were recast as more helpful characters, saving their comic attacks for the villains.
There is a famous scene in the film where an absurd number of people crowd into a tiny stateroom on a ship. The Stateroom scene developed with participation of Buster Keaton and became one of the most famous comedy scenes of all time.

Two years later, A Day at the Races (1937), was an even bigger hit, in which the brothers cause mayhem in a sanitarium and at a horse race. Despite the Thalberg films’ success, the brothers left MGM in 1937; Thalberg had died suddenly during filming of A Day at the Races, leaving the Marxes without an advocate at the studio.
After a short experience at RKO (Room Service, 1938), the Marx Brothers returned to MGM and made three more films: At the Circus (1939), Go West (1940) and The Big Store (1941). Prior to the release of The Big Store the team announced they were retiring from the screen. Four years later, however, Chico persuaded his brothers to make two additional films, A Night in Casablanca (1946) and Love Happy (1949), to alleviate his severe gambling debts. Both pictures were released by United Artists.
From the 1940s onward Chico and Harpo appeared separately and together in nightclubs and casinos. Chico fronted a big band, the Chico Marx Orchestra. Groucho made several radio appearances during the 1940s and starred in You Bet Your Life, which ran from 1947 to 1961 on NBC radio and television.
Sources/More to Read:
Wikipedia: Marx Brothers
Wikipedia: A Night at the Opera
IMDb: A Night at the Opera
Marx Brothers – Night at the Opera Treasury
Wikipedia: Chico Marx
Wikipedia: Harpo Marx
Wikipedia: Groucho Marx
Wikipedia: Gummo Marx
Wikipedia: Zeppo Marx
Wikipedia: Irving Thalberg

Men in the Great Depression, 1937

Colorization By Manos Athanasiadis

Colorization & Restoration by Manos Athanasiadis

Colorization By Manos Athanasiadis

Colorization By Manos Athanasiadis

A migrant packinghouse worker, Deerfield, Florida, 1937, (Arthur Rothstein / Library of Congress)

A migrant packinghouse worker, Deerfield, Florida, 1937, (Arthur Rothstein / Library of Congress)

A migrant worker from Oklahoma, Deerfield, Florida, 1937 (Arthur Rothstein / Library of Congress)

A migrant worker from Oklahoma, Deerfield, Florida, 1937 (Arthur Rothstein / Library of Congress)

The Great Depression was a severe worldwide economic depression which started in 1930 and lasted until the late 1930s.
Industries that suffered the most included construction, agriculture as dust-bowl conditions persisted in the agricultural heartland, shipping, mining, and logging as well as durable goods like automobiles and appliances that could be postponed. The Depression also resulted in the mass migration of people from badly hit areas in the Great Plains and the South to places such as California and the North, respectively.
The Dust Bowl was a period of severe dust storms that greatly damaged the ecology and agriculture of the US and Canadian prairies during the 1930s; severe drought and a failure to apply dryland farming methods to prevent wind erosion caused the phenomenon. With insufficient understanding of the ecology of the Plains, farmers had conducted extensive deep plowing of the virgin topsoil of the Great Plains during the previous decade; this had displaced the native, deep-rooted grasses that normally trapped soil and moisture even during periods of drought and high winds. The rapid mechanization of farm equipment, especially small gasoline tractors, and widespread use of the combine harvester contributed to farmers’ decisions to convert arid grassland to cultivated cropland. During the drought of the 1930s, the unanchored soil turned to dust, which the prevailing winds blew away in huge clouds that sometimes blackened the sky. The Dust Bowl forced tens of thousands of families to abandon their farms. Many of these families, who were often known as “Okies” because so many of them came from Oklahoma, migrated to California and other states. The term came to be known in the 1930s as the standard term for those who had lost everything and were struggling the most during the Great Depression. The Dust Bowl exodus was the largest migration in American history within a short period of time. Between 1930 and 1940, approximately 3.5 million people moved out of the Plains states.
The Farm Security Administration (FSA) was created in the Department of Agriculture in 1937. It was a New Deal program designed to assist poor farmers during the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression. The photographs of the Farm Security Administration Photograph Collection form an extensive pictorial record of American life between 1935 and 1944. This U.S. government photography project was headed by Roy E. Stryker. Roy Emerson Stryker (1893-1975) was an American economist, government official, and photographer. He employed such photographers as Walker Evans, Dorothea Lange, Russell Lee, Arthur Rothstein, Ben Shahn, Jack Delano, Marion Post Wolcott, Gordon Parks, John Vachon, and Carl Mydans. Those photographers wanted the government to move and give a hand to the people as they were completely neglected and overlooked and thus they decided to start taking photographs in a style that we today call “documentary photography.” Under Stryker, the FSA adopted a goal of “introducing America to Americans.” His agenda focused on his faith in social engineering, the poor conditions among tenant cotton farmers, and the very poor conditions among migrant farm workers; above all he was committed to social reform through New Deal intervention in people’s lives.
Arthur Rothstein (1915 – 1985) was an American photographer. He is recognized as one of America’s premier photojournalists. During a career that spanned five decades, he provoked, entertained and informed the American people. His photographs ranged from a hometown baseball game to the drama of war, from struggling rural farmers to US Presidents.
Following his graduation from Columbia in 1934, Rothstein was invited to Washington DC by Roy Stryker, one of his professors at Columbia, to set up the darkroom for Stryker’s Photo Unit of the Historical Section of the Resettlement Administration (RA), which became the Farm Security Administration (FSA) in 1937. During the next five years, Rothstein shot some of the most significant photographs ever taken of rural and small-town America. He and the other FSA photographers were employed to publicize the living conditions of the rural poor in the United States.
In 1940 Rothstein became a staff photographer for Look magazine but left shortly thereafter to join the US Army as a photographer in the Signal Corps. In 1947 he rejoined Look as Director of Photography. He remained at Look until 1971 when the magazine ceased publication. Rothstein joined Parade magazine in 1972 as Director of Photography and remained there until his death.
Sources / More to Read:
Wikipedia: Great Depression
Wikipedia: Dust Bowl
Wikipedia: Farm Security Administration
Wikipedia: Roy Stryker
Wikipedia: Arthur Rothstein
Library of Congress: Arthur Rothstein
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Jeanne Juilla, Miss Europe, ca. 1930’s

Jeanne Juilla on french postcard, ca. 1930's

Colorization by Manos Athanasiadis

French postcard of Jeanne Juilla, ca. 1930's

French postcard of Jeanne Juilla, ca. 1930’s

A French postcard is a small, postcard-sized photograph of a nude or semi-nude woman. Such erotic cards were produced in great volume, primarily in France, in the late 19th and early 20th century.
Because nudity was seen so far only in classic paintings, people were excited by the new technique of photography, which made it possible to collect erotic images otherwise not accessible apart from expensive artworks. New industrial reproduction techniques allowed publishers of postcards to sell large amounts of various series. The cards were sold as postcards, but the primary purpose was not for sending by mail, as they would have been banned from delivery. Due to the contemporary moral and law, these cards were usually sold and traded discretely in stores or by street dealers.
Most of the photographers kept their work anonymous by using acronymic signatures. They didn’t want to risk their public reputation, or to get in troubles with the law. Nevertheless photographers in Paris like Jean Agélou, Louis Amedée Mante or Julian Mandel produced numerous series of semi-nude and nude photographs of a large variety of anonymous models. Modelling for nude photography was kept secretly too. This is why there are only a very few known names of artists from theatre or music halls.
Jeanne Juilla, born in 1910 at Villeneuve-sur-Lot (Lot-et-Garonne), France, was a model and actress. She elected Miss Garonne in 1930 and Miss France the next year. On February 5, 1931, in Paris, she became the first French Miss Europe, among the representatives of 16 European countries.
Being a contestant for Miss Europe was tough. In the countries that already had pageants, the girls began in small contests and worked their way up, from local cantons to provinces and finally the capital. The contestants had to possess those genuine, innocent yet sensual charms. Some entrants came from privileged backgrounds, where they had been taught the etiquette of table manners and the art of small talk from an early age, but the judges could also be touched by a young lady’s journey from small town baker’s daughter to culture symbol to the metropolis. Such a girl had led a wholesome, positive life, a role model the world.

“My greatest ambition is to make my mother happy. I will not go on the stage or screen. Just a few weeks ago I saw a large city for the first time—Paris!” Jeanne Juilla, Miss Europe 1931: Time Magazine, Feb. 16, 1931

It was a standard for the winners of such beauty-pageants to have several types of photo shoots, and some were in nude. Jeanne Juilla, was above average in height with hazel eyes of bluish/greenish/grey, and dark hair. She worked as a dress maker with her mother in a small business in Villeneuve-Sur-Lot, where she spent the greater part of her life, according to “The Straits Times, 18 April 1931”.
Tracing what happened to the various contestants after they won turns up precious little. A few moved on to acting or modelling careers, usually short lived and unspectacular. For most the beauty pageant was their one brief brush with fame.
Jeanne Juilla’s filmography: His best client (1932), The Prison of St. Chlothaire (1934), A woman chipée (1934), Samson (1936).
Sources / More to read:
Wikipedia: French postcard
Wikipedia: Jeanne Juilla
Boudoir-Cards: French (Erotic) Postcards
Boudoir-Cards: Jeanne Juilla
One Man’s Treasure: Pageants of Pulchritude

Tarzan and His Mate, 1934

Colorization by Manos Athanasiadis

Colorization by Manos Athanasiadis

Johnny Weissmuller and Maureen O'Sullivan in "Tarzan and His Mate", 1934

Johnny Weissmuller and Maureen O’Sullivan in “Tarzan and His Mate”, 1934

Tarzan and His Mate is a 1934 American Pre-Code action adventure film based on characters created by Edgar Rice Burroughs. It was the second in the Tarzan film series to star Johnny Weissmuller and Maureen O’Sullivan.
The film’s cult status is largely due to O’Sullivan wearing one of the most revealing costumes in screen history at that time; a halter-top and a loincloth that leave her thighs and hips exposed. In this Pre-Code film Jane sleeps in the nude, swims nude with Tarzan, is constantly touched by Tarzan, has a scene in which she’s stranded in the jungle without clothes on, and is seen nude in silhouette when dressing in a well lit tent. The scene that caused the most commotion was the ‘underwater ballet’ sequence. Tarzan and Jane (O’Sullivan’s swimming double, Josephine McKim, who competed in the 1928 games with Johnny Weissmuller), dance a graceful underwater ballet with a completely nude Jane. When she rises out of the water, Jane (now Maureen O’Sullivan) flashes a bare breast. Such big-screen impropriety was rare at the time, and if seen at all was usually done by dancing girl extras, or non-white actresses due to the time’s double-standards.
In 2003, the United States Library of Congress deemed the film “culturally, historically or aesthetically significant” and selected it for preservation in the National Film Registry.
Edgar Rice Burroughs (1875 – 1950) was an American writer best known for his creations of the jungle hero Tarzan and the heroic Mars adventurer John Carter, although he produced works in many genres.
Tarzan was a cultural sensation when introduced. Burroughs was determined to capitalize on Tarzan’s popularity through several different media including a syndicated Tarzan comic strip, movies and merchandise. Experts in the field advised against this course of action, stating that the different media would just end up competing against each other. Burroughs went ahead, however, and proved the experts wrong – the public wanted Tarzan in whatever fashion he was offered. Tarzan remains one of the most successful fictional characters to this day and is a cultural icon.

Cover of the book Tarzan of the Apes, written by Edgar Rice Burroughs (1914)

Cover of the book Tarzan of the Apes, written by Edgar Rice Burroughs (1914)

Johnny Weissmuller (1904 –1984) was an American competition swimmer and actor. He was one of the world’s fastest swimmers in the 1920s, winning five Olympic gold medals for swimming and one bronze medal, fifty-two United States national championships and set sixty-seven world records.
His acting career began when he signed a seven-year contract with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and played the role of Tarzan in Tarzan the Ape Man (1932). The movie was a huge success and Weissmuller became an overnight international sensation. Weissmuller starred in six Tarzan movies for MGM with Maureen O’Sullivan as Jane and Cheeta the Chimpanzee. Then, in 1942, Weissmuller went to RKO and starred in six more Tarzan movies with markedly reduced production values. In 1976, he appeared for the last time in a motion picture and he also made his final public appearance in that year when he was inducted into the Body Building Guild Hall of Fame.
On January 20, 1984, Weissmuller died from pulmonary edema at the age of 79. He was buried just outside Acapulco. As his coffin was lowered into the ground, a recording of the Tarzan yell he invented was played three times, at his request.
Maureen O’Sullivan (1911 – 1998) was an Irish actress, one of the more popular ingenues at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer throughout the 1930s. In 1932, she signed a contract with MGM and after several roles she was chosen to appear in Tarzan the Ape Man, opposite co-star Johnny Weissmuller. She played Jane in six features between 1932 and 1942.
After appearing in Tarzan’s New York Adventure (1942), O’Sullivan asked MGM to release her from her contract so she could care for her husband who had just left the Navy with typhoid. She retreated from show business, devoting her time to her family. O’Sullivan’s first husband was Australian-born writer, award-winning director John Farrow, from 1936 until his death in 1963. Mia Farrow is one of their seven children.
In 1948, she re-appeared on the screen in The Big Clock, directed by her husband. She continued to appear occasionally in her husband’s movies and on television. However, by 1960 she believed she had permanently retired.
Maureen O’Sullivan died in Arizona in 1998. She has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in Hollywood, facing the star of Johnny Weissmuller.
Sources / More to read:
Wikipedia: Tarzan and His Mate
IMDb: Tarzan and His Mate
Wikipedia: Edgar Rice Burroughs
Wikipedia: Johnny Weissmuller
Wikipedia: Maureen O’Sullivan
Wikipedia: Motion Picture Production Code

Στα Ελληνικά:
Σαν Σήμερα: Ταρζάν
Τα αριστουργήματα της 7ης Τέχνης: Ο Ταρζάν και η Σύντροφός του
Wikipedia: Τζόνι Βαϊσμίλερ

Tarzan and His Mate – The ‘underwater ballet’ sequence
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IPrWCCPADNs&feature=youtu.be

Helena Rubinstein’s Beauty Salon, New York, 1938

Colorization by Manos Athanasiadis

Colorization by Manos Athanasiadis

"Day of Beauty" in Rubinstein's 715 Fifth Av. salon, 1938 (Image: Corbis via Mashable/ Retronaut)

“Day of Beauty” in Rubinstein’s 715 Fifth Av. salon, 1938 (Image: Corbis via Mashable/ Retronaut)

Helena Rubinstein (1872–1965) was a Polish American business magnate, the founder of Helena Rubinstein Incorporated Cosmetics Company, which made her the world’s first self-made female millionaire.
She was born Chaja Rubinstein in Krakow, to Orthodox Jewish parents. When she rejected an arranged marriage at age 16, her father forced her to leave home. In 1896, Rubinstein emigrated to her aunt in Melbourne, Australia, with no money and little English.
Her stylish clothes and milky complexion did not pass unnoticed among the Australian women who suffered from sunburn. She soon found enthusiastic buyers for the jars of beauty cream in her luggage. Spotting a market, she began to make her own cream from the lanolin in sheep wool. It was formulated with the help of her family, the Lykusky brothers, who were both chemists. Her Crème Valaze, costing ten pence and selling for six shillings, it walked off the shelves as fast as she could pack it in pots. This success enabled her to open her first Valaze boutique, including beauty salons and a treatment room. Sydney was next, and within five years Australian operations were profitable enough to finance a Salon de Beauté Valaze in London. At the outbreak of World War I, she and her husband Titus moved to New York City, where she opened a cosmetics salon in 1915. From 1917, Rubinstein took on the manufacturing and wholesale distribution of her products. In 1928, she sold the American business to Lehman Brothers for €7 million, (€79 million in 2007). After the arrival of the Great Depression, she bought back the nearly worthless stock for less than €0.90 million and eventually turned the shares into values of multimillion dollars, establishing salons and outlets in almost a dozen U.S. cities.

“Getting ready for a sun bath, the client sits on a sand table and sips refreshing fruit or vegetable juice.”

She knew how to advertise and introduced the concept of ‘problem’ skin types. She also pioneered the use of pseudo-science in marketing, donning a lab coat in many advertisements. She knew how to manipulate consumers’ status anxiety, as well.” Ruth Graham, “More Than Skin Deep“, The Wall Street Journal
Rubinstein believed that each woman had specific makeup, hair and personal style that they should develop on their own instead of adhering to snobbery and the status quo. Makeup had previously been relegated to prostitutes and actresses, but women began wearing lipstick as a symbol of empowerment at the dawn of feminism. Also, the fact that the close-up became a feature in movies, makeup became more socially acceptable.
In 1953, Rubinstein established the Helena Rubinstein Foundation. Upon its creation, she said, “My fortune comes from women and should benefit them and their children to better their quality of life.” The foundation established scholarships for young women to pursue their education, which continued until the foundation closed in 2011.
Mme Rubinstein died April 1, 1965, and was buried in Queens.
Sources / More to Read:
Wikipedia: Helena Rubinstein
Mashable: Helena Rubinstein Glamor Factory
Forward: 7 Things To Know About Helena Rubinstein
Helena Rubinstein Official Page Magazine: Helena Rubinstein’s three most avant-garde inventions

Η Έλενα Ρούμπινστάιν γεννήθηκε στην Κρακοβία της Πολωνίας, από ορθόδοξους Εβραίους γονείς, το 1865. Όταν ήταν 16 χρονών, ο πατέρας της την έδιωξε από το σπίτι γιατί δεν ήθελε τον γαμπρό που της είχε διαλέξει. Σύντομα, η Έλενα μετανάστευσε σε μια θεία της στην Αυστραλία, απένταρη και χωρίς να ξέρει τη γλώσσα. Εκεί, ανακάλυψε ότι οι ντόπιες γυναίκες υπέφεραν από τον ήλιο και ήταν πρόθυμες να πληρώσουν για μια κρέμα προσώπου, όπως αυτή που χρησιμοποιούσε η ίδια. Η Έλενα συνειδητοποίησε ότι είχε μια εξαιρετική επιχειρηματική ευκαιρία. Άρχισε να φτιάχνει κρέμες προσώπου με κύριο συστατικό τη λανολίνη, που ήταν άφθονη στην Αυστραλία αφού προερχόταν από μαλλί προβάτου. Η παρασκευή της κρέμας προσώπου “Βαλάζ” κόστιζε δέκα πέννες και την πουλούσε έξι λίρες με τεράστια επιτυχία. Σε πέντε χρόνια τα προϊόντα της κατέκτησαν την αγορά της Αυστραλίας. Η επιτυχία της συνεχίστηκε στο Λονδίνο και αργότερα στη Νέα Υόρκη, όπου πήγε πριν ξεσπάσει ο Πρώτος Παγκόσμιος Πόλεμος, το 1915. Το 1927, πούλησε την εταιρία της στη Λέμαν Μπράδερς για 7 εκατομμύρια δολάρια (79 εκατομμύρια σε τιμές του 2007) και με το Μεγάλο Κράχ των αγορών, την ξαναγόρασε για 900 χιλιάδες δολάρια. Κατόπιν, επένδυσε τα κέρδη της δημιουργώντας σαλόνια αισθητικής και καταστήματα σ’ όλη την Αμερική.
Καθιέρωσε τη “Μέρα Ομορφιάς” στα σαλόνια της, όπου οι πελάτισσες εξετάζονταν πρώτα με ειδικά όργανα από το προσωπικό, ώστε τους παρασχεθεί κατόπιν η κατάλληλη φροντίδα και περιποίηση. Η φωτογραφία είναι από το φημισμένο σαλόνι αισθητικής στην 5η Λεωφόρο της Νέας Υόρκης, όπου μεταξύ άλλων είχε εστιατόριο, γυμναστήριο και ήταν διακοσμημένο με έργα του Μιρό και του Νταλί.
Η Έλενα Ρουμπινστάιν, ήξερε να χειραγωγεί τις ανασφάλειες των πελατών της και να προωθεί τα προϊόντα της διαφημίζοντας τα με μια ψευδό-επιστημονική χροιά. Ήταν όμως και υπέρμαχος της χειραφέτησης των γυναικών και κατάφερε να απενεχοποιήσει την αισθητική περιποίηση τους σε εποχές που τα καλλυντικά ήταν κοινωνικά κατακριτέα.
Πέθανε το 1965, όντας η πρώτη γυναίκα αυτοδημιούργητη εκατομμυριούχος.