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K.O.’s rustlers

Here’s a short article from the January 26 1938 edition of the Toronto Daily Star about an upcoming movie featuring baseball star Lou Gehrig.

Reading this article is now a saddening experience, as Gehrig would not have known at the time that he had less than three and a half years left to live. Midway through the 1938 baseball season, he started complaining that he felt tired. By early 1939, his decline was noticeable; in June of that year, he was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis – the fatal illness now known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease.

The journal Neurology has an article that stated that neurological researchers examined footage of Rawhide (1938) to determine whether Gehrig was experiencing symptoms of his illness at the time of the movie. Their conclusion was that he was not.

The movie premiered in Florida in 1938 while the New York Yankees (Gehrig’s team) were training there, and was released to movie theatres in April of that year. I couldn’t find any information on how well the 58-minute movie did at the box office. The Internet Archive has it available for free download.

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Most likely to become stars

Here’s a collection of photographs from the January 26 1938 edition of the Toronto Daily Star of women who were considered likely to become stars. (I’ve divided the image into three parts to make it easier to view.)

All four of the women in this photograph series became successful enough to have Wikipedia pages, which is as good a definition of stardom as any:

  • Ann Rutherford (1917-2012) was actually born in Vancouver, not Toronto, if Wikipedia is to be believed. She moved to California as a baby, so her connection with Canada is tenuous at best. She went on to become quite well-known indeed, as she played one of Scarlett O’Hara’s sisters in Gone With The Wind (1939). She also had a regular role in the Andy Hardy film series. In later life, she married William Dozier, the creator of the Batman TV series, and appeared twice as Emily Hartley’s mother on The Bob Newhart Show.
  • Olympe Bradna (1920-2012) literally started her life in show business, as she was born in a dressing room of the Olympic Theatre in Paris (hence her name). She started appearing on stage at the age of 18 months. In 1934, she moved to the United States, and appeared in a dozen movies up to 1941. She quit the film business when she got married; she and her husband were married for over 70 years.
  • Mary Maguire (1919-1974) started acting in her native Australia when she was 16. In 1936, she and her family moved to Hollywood. She left Hollywood in 1938 and moved to Britain, where she appeared in movies until 1946. She married and later divorced British fascist and anti-Semite Robert Gordon-Canning, who was thirty years older than she was.
  • Annabella (1907-1996), whose birth name was Suzanne Georgette Charpentier, is listed as “the second most promising youngster” here, but she was already 30 at the time of this picture. She appeared in several dozen films in France and Hollywood between 1927 and 1952. She was married to Tyrone Power between 1939 and 1948.
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Sixth in as many months

The photo page of the January 22 1934 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contained this picture of Cubans acclaiming their new president.

Carlos Mendieta (1873-1960) was installed as the acting president of Cuba after a coup. During his presidency, women gained the right to vote. He resigned in December 1935 as unrest continued.

Mr. Mendieta was indeed the sixth president of Cuba in as many months; in fact, he was the fourth man to hold the office in the preceding week. There were two more presidents in 1936; after that, they lasted for approximately four years at a stretch.

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Wedding off

Here’s a photograph from the January 22 1934 edition of the Toronto Daily Star that was deemed interesting enough to be on the front page:

John Jacob Astor VI (1912-1992), nicknamed “Jakey”, was known as the “Titanic Baby”: his mother, Madeleine Astor, was five months pregnant with him when she was rescued from the Titanic. Her husband, John Jacob Astor IV, went down with the ship. The Titanic Baby had the name John VI instead of John V because another branch of the Astor family gave birth to a John V first.

John VI and Ms. Gillespie were planning to marry just over two weeks from the date of this article. According to his Wikipedia page, she claimed that he wasn’t mature enough to venture into marriage. After being dumped, he went off to Shanghai for three months, then returned and almost immediately married one of Ms. Gillespie’s friends, Ellen Tuck French. She would have been one of the bridesmaids had the original wedding taken place. They divorced in 1943.

Mr. Astor married three more times. He and his third wife separated shortly after their honeymoon; his fourth marriage, to Sue Sandford in 1956, lasted until she passed away in 1985.

Eileen Gillespie Slocum (1915-2008) became a society grande dame in her home of Newport, Rhode Island. She was known for her impeccable manners and her unflinching devotion to the Republican Party.

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Prize-winning cockerel

I don’t think I will ever get bored with the photo pages of old Toronto newspapers. Here’s a photo from the January 22 1934 edition of the Toronto Daily Star of an actress with an award-winning cockerel:

Unfortunately for her, Marie Felique did not have much of a career. A search revealed that she appeared on Broadway in 1933 as part of the ensemble cast of Shady Lady, but that was it.

I could find out nothing about what happened to the cockerel. Presumably, it grew up to become a rooster.

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Not dead, he insists

On January 12 1934, Edgar “Barney” Ward was in New York state, working as a mover, away from his wife and family in Toronto. That day, he grabbed a copy of a two-day-old edition of the Toronto Daily Star. Out of habit, he turned to the Deaths section of the newspaper, and was quite startled to discover his own name in it:

Apparently, someone who looked a lot like the unfortunate Mr. Ward had committed suicide by taking cyanide. The double had been taken to the funeral home and a period of mourning had happened before Mr. Ward’s son realized that the dead man was not his father.

Upon reading the news of his own death, Mr. Ward sat for fifteen minutes, understandably shocked, before calling his wife on the telephone and assuring her and his family that he was, in fact, still alive.

The January 22 1934 edition of the Toronto Daily Star provides the complete story:

The paper also included a photo of Mr. Ward, looking very much not dead:

I tried to trace Edgar Ward in the Toronto city directories, but the records are unclear.

  • The 1933 directory lists him as a labourer living at 10 Grenadier Ravine Drive, as mentioned in his bogus death notice.
  • The 1934 directory doesn’t list him in the Names section, but the Streets section lists Edgar Ward at 10 Grenadier Ravine.
  • The 1935 directory lists an Edgar Ward working as a mechanic and living at 202 Seaton Street. In the Streets section, 10 Grenadier Ravine Drive is listed as “information unobtainable”.
  • The 1936 directory still lists Edgar Ward at 202 Seaton, but now lists Mrs. E. Ward at 10 Grenadier Ravine. She is not listed as Edgar’s widow, which might mean that the Wards split up at about this time. 202 Seaton and 10 Grenadier Ravine are at opposite ends of the city, which might (or might not) support this hypothesis.
  • The situation remains unchanged in 1939. In 1940, Mrs. Ward is still at 10 Grenadier Ravine, and Edgar Ward is no longer listed.
  • Mrs. Ward last appears at 10 Grenadier Ravine in the 1945 directory. In 1946, there is a Mrs. E. Ward elsewhere, but Ward is a common name, so there is no way to tell whether this was her.
  • Neither of them is listed in the 1947 directory, so the trail ends here.

Grenadier Ravine Drive is a small road resembling an alleyway in what was formerly the town of Swansea. 10 Grenadier Ravine has obviously been remodelled since 1934.

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Evangelists

If you were reading the January 16 1937 edition of the Toronto Daily Star and were interested in wanting to hear an evangelist preach, the paper offered at least two options:

The Assemblies of God website has a page on Otto Klink (1888-1955). As a young man attending university in Berlin, he was sentenced to two months in prison for making a speech that was interpreted as inciting rebellion against the German Crown Prince. Emigrating to New York in 1909, he became part of an anarchistic society called the Red Mask, which planned to assassinate President William Howard Taft. He married a Pentecostal woman in 1917, and became a minister in 1923.

Joseph A. Synan served as a bishop of the Pentecostal Holiness Church for 24 years. His son, H. Vinson Synan, became a noteworthy enough preacher to have his own Wikipedia page.

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Crown Life director

If you’ve been reading this for a while, you probably know that I am fascinated by portraits of businesspeople who have just been promoted into a new job. When does a company decide that a person is important enough to have their picture sent to the newspapers?

The January 16 1937 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contains another example of this:

Usually, I have to dig through the Toronto city directories to find out what happened to the person in the photograph, but Norman Frank Wilson (1876-1956) was a former member of Parliament, so he was easy to trace.

Mr. Wilson represented the Russell riding from 1904 to 1908. He did not seek office again in 1908; another Liberal, Charles Murphy, won the seat and held it until 1925. Mr. Wilson apparently originally was a farmer before going into the insurance business; I could find out very little about him, including why he ran for office at a comparatively young age or why he left.

The most noteworthy thing about Mr. Wilson was that his wife, Cairine Wilson, was the first woman ever to be appointed to the Canadian Senate. She later became the first woman to serve as a Canadian delegate to the United Nations General Assembly and the first woman Deputy Speaker of the Senate.

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Swiss miss to instruct Canadians

Here are photos from the January 16 1937 edition of the Toronto Daily Star of a woman who was heading to Canada to instruct Canadian skiers.

A search turned up very little on Dinah Kuenzli:

  • Some race results from 1938.
  • The Canadian Ski Yearbook from 1936-37, which is basically a few ads and a painting on the cover. This features Ms. Kuenzli on page 5 (including one of the above pictures).

I would guess that her career was interrupted or ended by the war.

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Concert and stage

The January 16 1937 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contained this set of photos and blurbs for upcoming performances:

I hadn’t heard of any of these people, so I looked them up on the Internet:

  • There is a web site devoted to Albert Hirsh’s life and career. He eventually settled in Houston, and was part of that city’s classical music scene for over four decades. The Houston Chronicle has his obituary.
  • Uday Shankar (1900-1977) was a dancer and choreographer who was a pioneer of modern dance in India. His younger brother, Ravi Shankar, was a musician who was primarily responsible for popularizing the sitar.
  • Olsen and Johnson were a vaudeville, radio, and stage act consisting of Ole Olsen (1892-1963) and Chic Johnson (1891-1962). Their revue, Hellzapoppin, ran for over 1400 performances on Broadway starting in 1938. (The movie version of the revue was released in 1941, and can be found on YouTube here.) Their humour could best be described as semi-organized mayhem, and they were not afraid to break the proverbial fourth wall; here’s a scene where a fight in the projection room causes the image on the screen to wobble.
  • John Charles Thomas (1891-1960) was a opera and concert singer who apparently did not like rock and roll. YouTube has a number of recordings of his, including him performing at the Metropolitan Opera in 1943.