Bite your nails?

Here’s a movie ad from the October 5 1951 edition of the Toronto Daily Star:

I wonder if anyone actually wore gloves to the movie.

Seven Days To Noon was a British drama released there in 1950. It did reasonably well at the box office, and it won an Oscar for Best Story. The opening scene of the movie is available on YouTube.

By the way: when doing (minimal) research for this post, I discovered that Wikipedia has a list of fictional prime ministers of Britain. My favourite names from this list are Alan B’Stard and the Duke of Omnium.


New 1951 Prefects

Fans of the Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy series will recognize the name of the car in this ad from the October 5 1951 edition of the Toronto Daily Star:

The Ford Prefect was manufactured in Britain from 1938 to 1941, and then again from 1945 to 1961. It was also manufactured in Canada, where it was built with left-hand drive for Canadian roads.

As for Cedarvale Motors: a search of the Toronto city directories revealed that they changed owners several times. They were at 1463 Eglinton West in 1956 and 1961, and they do not appear in the 1963 directory.


Cooking school

Here’s a grocery ad from the October 4 1934 edition of the Toronto Daily Star. Can you guess what the problem is with this ad?

Readers of this ad would have been confused. Miracle Marketeria was offering a cooking school on Friday at 1:30, and again next week – but at which of their two locations?

The Toronto city directories suggest that the cooking classes were held at 2424 Yonge Street, as this was the company’s main store. Miracle Marketerias expanded aggressively in the 1930s; by 1939, there were five branches, though they had moved from 2187 Bloor West to 2269 Bloor West. They didn’t survive the war, though: by 1941, there were just two stores, at 2424 Yonge and 883 Bloor West, and in 1942 these had both become branches of the Dominion food store chain.

The 1934 directory lists Jay M. Laws as a home economist for Mills & Hadwin, with her home address in an unspecified location in Islington. She doesn’t appear in the 1937 directory.


The Vanderbilt custody trial

The biggest news item in the October 4 1934 edition of the Toronto Daily Star was the Gloria Vanderbilt custody trial. Young Ms. Vanderbilt was 10 years old at the time and heiress to half of a $5 million trust fund left to her when her father passed away in 1925. Since she was 18 months old when she received her inheritance, management of the trust fund went to her mother, Gloria Morgan Vanderbilt.

In 1934, the elder Ms. Vanderbilt’s sister-in-law, Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, sued for custody of the child, claiming that her mother was unfit to be a parent. Ms. Whitney won the suit; the elder Ms. Vanderbilt was granted occasional visitation rights but lost access to the trust fund.

There were a number of articles and photographs related to the custody trial in that day’s paper. The front page included a photo of actress Constance Bennett, who was prepared to serve as a character witness for Ms. Vanderbilt:

An article on the front page of the paper, continuing into page 2, mentioned support for Ms. Vanderbilt from Ms. Bennett and others:

The others included “the blue-blooded marchioness of Milford Haven”:

Another supporter was Prince Gottfried Zu Hohenlohe-Langenburg:

And, last but not least, there was Lady Furness, Ms. Vanderbilt’s twin sister:

The Daily Star also printed a photograph that was part of the case for the prosecution, as it were, showing Ms. Vanderbilt “dining out” with A.C. Blumenthal, a theatre producer:

The quotaton marks in “dining out” were presumably meant to insinuate that the two were a couple. I’m impressed by the sheer quantity of glasses at the table!

All of the leading protagonists in this drama have Wikipedia pages, of course:

  • Gloria Morgan Vanderbilt (1904-1965) tried to obtain custody again in 1936; the New York State Supreme Court granted her more time with her daughter, but did not give her custody. She received a $21,000 annual allowance from her daughter until 1946; at that time, her daughter cut her off, suggesting that maybe she should get a job. She passed away in 1965 of cancer.
  • Ms. Vanderbilt’s twin sister, Thelma Furness (1904-1970), started off her life by forming a motion picture company in 1923 that would create films in which she would star. She appeared in movies between 1922 and 1925. She later became a mistress of the future King Edward VIII; this ended when she introduced him to Wallis Simpson.

Wikipedia quotes photographer Cecil Beaton as describing the Morgan twins as

…alike as two magnolias, and with their marble complexions, raven tresses, and flowing dresses, with their slight lisps and foreign accents, they diffuse a Ouida atmosphere of hothouse elegance and lacy femininity. … Their noses are like begonias, with full-blown nostrils, their lips richly carved, and they should have been painted by Sargent, with arrogant heads and affected hands, in white satin with a bowl of white peonies near by.

My oh my! The twin sisters, sometimes called “The Magnificent Morgans”, appear in a brief video here, in which they appear to be watching somebody model clothes for them.


  • Gloria Vanderbilt (1924-2019) outlived her mother by over half a century. She went on to become an actress, a fashion model, and a fashion designer. She was the mother of television personality Anderson Cooper.
  • Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney (1875-1942) was a sculptor and supporter of women in the arts. She would not have needed her niece’s money: she inherited a $72 million estate when her husband, Harry Payne Whitney, passed away in 1930.
  • Constance Bennett (1904-1965) was the daughter of two actors and the older sister of two others. She appeared regularly in movies until the mid-1940s and occasionally after that. She was married five times; her last marriage, to John Theron Coulter, was the one that lasted. Mr. Coulter later became a brigadier general, which meant that Ms. Bennett was buried in Arlington National Cemetery when she passed away from a brain hemorrhage.
  • Nadejda Mountbatten, Marchioness of Milford Haven (1896-1963) was the daughter of Grand Duke Michael Alexandrovich of Russia, who was murdered by the Bolsheviks in 1918. During the custody trial, a maid of Ms. Vanderbilt claimed that she and the Marchioness were lovers, which she denied.
  • Gottfried, Prince of Hohenlohe-Langenburg (1897-1960) was reportedly engaged to Ms. Vanderbilt during 1927-1928, but later married Princess Margarita of Greece and Denmark. Her brother, Philip, who was 16 years younger than the princess, married Queen Elizabeth II.
  • Alfred Cleveland Blumenthal (1885-1957) was a real estate developer, theatre producer, and one-time speakeasy owner. He was married to actress Peggy Fears at the time of the photograph appearing in the paper, so perhaps he didn’t particularly want his picture taken.


The October 4 1934 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contained perhaps the most sparsely-written ad I’ve ever seen:

I suppose that there is no need to say anything else.


Not on your life!

Here’s an ad from the September 28 1948 edition of the Toronto Daily Star for a tailor that had been on King Street a long time.

I couldn’t verify whether Score’s had been in business since 1787, but I did find Richard Score, a merchant tailor, in the 1846 Toronto city directory:

Obviously, by 1948, Mr. Score was no longer in charge of the establishment – the 1948 Toronto city directory lists Samuel Kalles as the president and A. G. Weston as the manager.

Score’s didn’t survive much longer – they are in the 1951 directory, but the 1952 directory lists Beauchamp & How Limited, merchant tailors, at 77 King West. I’m surprised that the new tenants didn’t try to attach themselves to the Score name – over a century on King Street is nothing to be sneezed at.


Ethel and Albert

Here’s an ad from the September 28 1948 edition of the Toronto Daily Star that I found amusing.

The Private Lives of Ethel and Albert, also called simply Ethel and Albert, was on network radio between 1944 and 1950, and on television from 1953 to 1956. Its creator and co-star, Peg Lynch, passed away in 2015 at the age of 98.

The Toronto School of Safer Driving changed managers at least once during its existence, as Allan Morgan was running it in 1949 and George Foote in the 1950s. It appears in the 1959 Toronto city directory but not in 1961.


Radio’s most endearing wife

Here’s an ad for a radio show from the September 27 1948 edition of the Toronto Daily Star:

Claudia, also known as Claudia and David, originally appeared in 1941 with a different cast, and was rebroadcast in 1947 with the cast shown in this ad. According to this log, the show remained on the air until March 1949 after airing for 390 episodes.

CFRB had just moved to 1010 on the dial; from 1941 to 1948, the station had been at 860.


Meet me soon

Here’s a somewhat mysterious ad from the September 27 1948 edition of the Toronto Daily Star:

I was curious, so I looked in the next day’s paper. It had this:

By now, I was more curious (which is the point of the ads, of course). The September 29 1948 paper resolved the mystery, as it was an ad for Morse Credit Jewellers, opening at that location.

Tracing Morse Credit Jewellers in the Toronto city directories: they had four outlets in 1956, including 282 Yonge. By 1960, they had five outlets, but the 282 Yonge location was gone. They had four outlets in 1965 and five outlets again in 1967, but they are not listed in the 1969 directory.


Newest film light

Here’s a publicity photograph from the September 27 1948 edition of the Toronto Daily Star:

Valentina Cortese (1923-2019) was involved in what used to be called a May-December romance early in her life: when she was 17, she started a relationship with conductor Victor de Sabata that lasted for eight years. She began her film career in Italy in 1941 and continued it, on multiple continents, until 1993. She passed away at the age of 96; sadly, she outlived her only child.

A search for Carlo Pavone, her leading man, was not that successful: I found an Internet Movie Database entry for somebody with that name, but this might not be the same person.