First Hollywood then Broadway

Here is an ad from the September 23 1930 edition of the Toronto Daily Star:

I find this ad fascinating because of the specificity of its claims:

  • Of the 521 important actresses in Hollywood, 511 use Lux.
  • 45 Hollywood directors think that the loveliest skin is important.
  • Lux is found in the dressing rooms of 71 of the 74 legitimate theaters in New York.

Which are the three rogue theaters? Who are the 10 nonconformist actresses? And how did they contact all 45 directors? More important than that: why did the copywriter choose those specific numbers?

Information on the three women who endorsed Lux in this ad (courtesy of Wikipedia, the go-to choice for the lazy researcher):

  • Constance Talmadge (1898-1973) was a silent film star, appearing in movies from 1914 to 1929. She and her two sisters, Natalie and Norma, mostly retired on the arrival of sound, and invested in real estate and business ventures. Sadly, all three sisters had problems with substance abuse and alcoholism later in life.
  • Dorothy Stone (1905-1974) grew up in a theatrical family: her father, Fred Stone, was in charge of a theatrical stock company. Her Broadway debut was with her father in Stepping Stones in 1923; she was apparently a big hit. She appeared on stage and in movies through the 1940s.
  • Isabel Jeans (1891-1985) was a British film and stage actress whose career on both sides of the Atlantic started in 1908 and lasted into the late 1960s.

Promote Canadian songs on the air

Here’s a publicity photograph from the September 22 1933 edition of the Toronto Daily Star:

Rex Battle (1892 or 1895-1967) was a Canadian composer and pianist who has appeared in this blog before. He went on to be the music director and conductor for CBC radio’s Singing Stars of Tomorrow between 1943 and 1956.

I couldn’t find anything on Anlon Young, except a site offering his autograph for sale that claimed that his stage name was Alberto Tomasini. I couldn’t find anything on him under that name either.

Dewbourne Avenue again

A few days ago, I posted about a house on Dewbourne Avenue that appeared in a September 1936 edition of the Toronto Daily Star. When looking through the September 22 1933 edition of the paper, I discovered a photo of another house on Dewbourne Avenue, almost across the street:

Searches through the Toronto city directories revealed that the prominent Toronto mining executive was Charles L. LaBine. His younger brother, Gilbert LaBine, was the founder and president of Eldorado Mines and Gunnar Mines. Charles LaBine served as vice-president. This article provides more information about him.

Mr. LaBine lived in this house until about 1960, when he moved to 2 Chadwick Avenue, which is also in Forest Hill. He passed away in 1969.

The house at 15 Dewbourne Avenue stood until about 2014 or so, when it was torn down and another house rebuilt. The new house can be seen on Google Street View; if your browser can view the 2011 photo at that address, you can see the house in this photograph.

Wishes to publicly thank

Here’s the Personals section from the September 22 1933 edition of the Toronto Daily Star:

By chance, this section contained no fewer than four women looking to meet another woman for companionship. To my modern eyes, they look like requests for a relationship; perhaps they were, but the women in question would have had to be very discreet and careful, as same-sex relationships were illegal in 1933.

A Google search revealed nothing about Tim Maurice, internationally known clarinet and saxophone player, but I did find a Canadian Encyclopedia entry for Jack Arthur (1889-1971). Born in Glasgow, Arthur started his career early, touring as violinist for Harry Lauder’s company when he was seven. He was the music director for a number of movie theatres from 1918 to the late 1930s, and he produced the grandstand shows at the CNE from 1952 to 1967.

I hope that Soldier No. 868004 came home or wrote, though I fear that he might have abandoned his wife and children.

Little Miss Gilbert

Here’s a publicity photo that appeared on the front page of the September 22 1933 edition of the Toronto Daily Star.

John Gilbert (1897-1936) was spiralling into a deep decline at the time of this photo. A star in the silent film era, he reportedly punched Louis B. Mayer when the film mogul made a crude comment about Greta Garbo (with whom Gilbert starred in several movies and had a well-publicized romance). This was not a good career move: the MGM head apparently cast Gilbert in poor films as a way of getting even, which caused Gilbert to descend into alcoholism.

The decline accelerated shortly after: Gilbert and Virginia Bruce divorced in 1934, and Gilbert suffered a heart attack in 1935. A second heart attack, in 1936, proved fatal.

Virginia Bruce (1909-1982) returned to her career after divorcing Gilbert, appearing regularly in movies through the mid-1940s and irregularly after. Her final appearance was as Madame Wang in Paul Morrissey’s 1981 film Madame Wang’s, produced in association with Andy Warhol. Wikipedia describes this film as “bizarre”.

Susan Ann Gilbert doesn’t appear to have done anything particularly noteworthy (but who among us has?). She passed away in 2004.

A new tartan

The September 18 1936 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contained this photo of the Balmoral tartan, as chosen by King Edward VIII during his short reign.

The Scottish Tartans Authority has a page on the Balmoral tartan. It was originally designed by Prince Albert, consort to Queen Victoria. The Authority claims that the only people who are approved to wear this tartan are Queen Elizabeth II, members of her family who have been given permission, and the Queen’s personal piper.

A modern Portia

In 1936, female lawyers were rare enough that the September 18 edition of the Toronto Daily Star saw fit to include a picture of one:

The problem with tracing women in the Toronto city directories is that the directories do not list married women. So it is with Ms. Haughland: she was listed in the 1935 directory as a student at law (as “Edith”). The 1936 directory omits the Haughland family entirely, but the 1937 and 1938 directories list Edythe Haughland as a lawyer. After that, she presumably appears under her married name, if at all.

(For those of us, like me, who aren’t all that literary: Portia is a character in Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice.)

Dewbourne Avenue home sold

The Toronto Daily Star editions from the 1930s often included a Real Estate section that contained one or more photos of upscale houses. Here’s one from the September 18 1936 edition.

$18,500 in 1936 dollars is equivalent to $342,500 today – which wouldn’t be that much for a house in Forest Hill!

The Toronto city directories inform me that this house is at 18 Dewbourne Avenue, and that Walter W. Davis, a stockbroker, lived there. He lived there until 1948. The 1948 directory lists Mr. Davis as having no occupation, and the 1949 directory doesn’t list him. This suggests that he enjoyed this Georgian type residence for a little over a decade.

The house still stands, and doesn’t appear to have changed much.

Show of 1001 wonders

Here’s an ad from the September 16 1946 edition of the Toronto Globe and Mail for Blackstone, the magician:

Company of 30 – mostly girls!

Harry Blackstone Sr. (1885-1965) was one of the last of the old-school breed of magicians who performed in white tie and tails. He was arguably at the peak of his career in the 1940s, as a comic book and a radio series were created in that decade that featured him. His son, Harry Jr., also became a magician.

YouTube has footage of him performing in 1956 (though the sound quality is poor), along with this commercial for Post cereals.