Realtor likes classifieds

The May 25 1928 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contained a photograph of a substantial-looking gentleman who was promoting the Star’s classified ads section.


Since I was curious, I looked him up in the Toronto city directories. He had an ad in the 1905 directory:


He seems to have newly arrived in Toronto: he had New York and Buffalo offices, and he was living at the King Edward Hotel.

In 1910, his company had offices in Toronto, Hamilton, and Buffalo, and he was living on Glen Road in Rosedale; in 1920, he had relocated to Strathrobyn in Ridley Park (which I think is in the south-east corner of Pennsylvania).

At the time of the photograph shown above, Mr. Robins was living in Toronto. Besides being the president of Robins Limited, he was also the Spanish consul.

He last appears in the 1948 city directory; the 1949 directory lists his widow.

Will to live

The June 1 1938 edition of the Toronto Globe and Mail contained this reprint of a brief New York Times article on Pope Pius XI:


The article didn’t actually state why the Pope had lost or regained his will to live. Perhaps it was just that it was a nice day, and who doesn’t feel better on a nice day?

Naturally, I was curious: how much longer did he live? The answer is a little over eight months – he suffered two heart attacks on November 25, 1938, and then passed away from a third heart attack on February 10, 1939.

Thelma Todd

Here’s another picture from the July 27 1932 Toronto Daily Star’s photo edition:


Unfortunately, Thelma Todd had neither a happy marriage nor a long life:

  • She and Pasquale (“Pat”) DiCicco were divorced in 1934; according to Wikipedia, their marriage was unstable and resulted in drunken brawls. (He later married Gloria Vanderbilt.)
  • She passed away in her car on December 16, 1935. Her death was determined to have been from carbon monoxide poisoning.

Ellen Braumüller

I keep coming back to the photo pages of 1920s and 1930s newspapers because they are endlessly fascinating to me. Here is a photograph of a German Olympic athlete from the July 27 1932 edition of the Toronto Daily Star:


Ellen Braumüller (1910-1991) competed in the javelin, relay, discus, and high jump at the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics. The javelin practice paid off, as she won a silver medal in that event. Her German Wikipedia page states that she competed in the German championships in 1933, and won the discus event there.

I could find nothing else about her (other than that she was a little under 5’6″ and weighed about 150 pounds). She lived into the 1990s, so at least she survived Hitler’s Germany.

Lovely at any age

The July 27 1932 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contained an ad for Lux Toilet Soap, in which actresses of three different ages claimed that they used it regularly.


I looked up all three of the actresses in Wikipedia, and it appears – as I guess was common in Hollywood – that they (or their studios) were fibbing a bit about their ages.

Helen Chandler (1906-1965) was actually 26, not 20. She had just become famous for starring in Dracula in 1931. Sadly, she began to battle alcoholism in the late 1930s, and she died young while undergoing surgery for a stomach ulcer.

Gertrude Astor (1887-1977) was actually 44, not 30! She appeared in her first movie in 1917, and appeared in many Laurel and Hardy films. She died on her 90th birthday.

Frances Starr (1886-1973) was 46 at the time of this photo, not 39. She appeared in only three movies in the 1930s, but got some work on television in the early 1950s.

Given the inaccuracy of their spokespersons’ ages, I am not entirely convinced that 686 out of 694 important Hollywood actresses depended on Lux Toilet Soap.


Milk in wartime

In 1942, the Canadian government published “Canada’s Official Food Rules”, which was the first nutritional guide that it had produced. (The name was later changed to “Canada’s Food Rules” and then to “Canada’s Food Guide”.) The initial Official Rules treated milk as a food category all its own, recommending half a pint of milk a day for adults and more than one pint for children. (The Canadian government page on the history of its food rules and food guides is here.)

Naturally, milk manufacturers saw this as a marketing opportunity. Silverwood’s Dairy Products included a reasonable approximation of the Food Rules, naturally listing milk at the top:


And the Milk Foundation of Toronto also included the list of foods, in a slightly different order but once again with milk at the top:


The 1944 Canada’s Food Rules actually increased the recommended quantity of milk, suggesting one-half to one pint for adults and 1 1/2 pints to one quart for children. The recommendation reverted in 1949 to its original level of a half-pint for adults and a pint or more for children.

Hitler’s Children

Here’s a somewhat sensational movie poster from the March 24 1943 edition of the Toronto Daily Star:


Hitler’s Children was a black-and-white propaganda film released by RKO Studios. Despite being panned in the New York Times as being “obvious” and “conventional”, the film was a huge hit: it was the fourth-highest grossing film in 1943.

It was grimly ironic that the atrocities described in this poster weren’t actually as horrible as what the Nazis were actually doing.

Come-home-to girl

The March 24 1943 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contained this photo of aspiring actress Donna Reed:


I’m not sure how the voting was conducted – how were the candidates chosen?

The film critics who selected Donna Reed (1921-1986) for stardom were prescient: she went on to appear as James Stewart’s wife in the 1946 film It’s A Wonderful Life, and won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress in From Here To Eternity in 1953. She then became a TV star, appearing on The Donna Reed Show from 1958 to 1966.

Her final screen role was in the TV series Dallas in 1984-1985. When she was fired from the show, she sued for breach of contract and won; unfortunately, not long after that, she died of pancreatic cancer.

Star seeking divorce

The May 9 1932 edition of the Toronto Daily Star featured this article on a marriage between actors that was on the rocks.


Sally Eilers (1908-1978) appeared in 55 movies between 1927 and 1939, but her career stalled after that. She was apparently known for her “high spirits and vivacity”. There are worse things to be known for.

Hoot Gibson (1892-1962) was a rodeo champion and then moved into motion pictures, becoming the second-most popular cowboy star in movies after Tom Mix between the 1920s and 1940s. In later years, he fell into financial difficulties, and wound up being a greeter in a Las Vegas casino, among other things.

The marriage between Ms. Eilers and Mr. Gibson ended in 1933. She married three more times, each ending in divorce. This marriage was his third, after previously marrying two women named Helen; he married again in 1962, to a “22-year-old yodeler” named Dorothy Dunstan. This marriage lasted until his death.

Bad Girl, the movie mentioned in this article, is available here.

Two of a kind

Here’s a photo from the May 9 1932 Toronto Daily Star of jazz musician Paul Whiteman and his doppelganger:


Paul Whiteman (1890-1967) was a successful recording artist in the 1920s and 1930s, and was nicknamed “The King of Jazz” as a result. Some critics disputed his title, claiming that his music lacked emotional depth. But Duke Ellington wrote, in his autobiography, that Whiteman was entitled to his throne, and that’s probably a good enough endorsement. You can decide for yourself: YouTube has some of his recordings, including Whispering and My Blue Heaven.

I could find no information on Earl Judy. Being Paul Whiteman’s lookalike turned out not to be a ticket to fame.