Presents each bride with a rolling pin

Here’s a somewhat startling photo from the January 25 1932 edition of the Toronto Daily Star:

I can only hope that Mayor Wert was presenting his rolling pins in jest. Was he really seriously encouraging brides to whop their hubbies upside the head?

The only other reference to the mayor of Paulsboro, N.J., that I could find was a link to his obituary, which appeared in the New York Times when he passed away in 1948. The link is behind a subscription paywall, so all I know is that Mayor Wert apparently advocated the creation of a municipal saloon.

Joy sticks are nothing new

I’m continuing on with the photo page from the January 25 1932 edition of the Toronto Daily Star because I keep finding interesting pictures on it. Here’s one of a teenage girl who had just gotten her pilot’s license:

Searches revealed that Mary Equi was the adopted daughter of Marie Equi (1872-1952), a social activist and doctor in the American West who provided information on birth control and abortion at a time when both were illegal. The elder Ms. Equi spoke out against the United States getting involved in World War I; as a result, she was arrested for sedition and served a year and a day in San Quentin prison.

She and her partner, a woman named Harriet Frances Speckart, adopted Mary, sometimes known as Mary Jr., in 1915. According to Wikipedia, the younger Ms. Equi apparently eloped; I could not find any details. Mary Jr. also apparently cared for her adopted mother during the final years of her mother’s life.

I couldn’t find out much else about Mary Jr. The only other search result I could find was this photo, which appears to be a better-quality copy of the image above.

A beautiful Diana

Here’s another entry from the photo page of the January 25 1932 edition of the Toronto Daily Star. This photograph is of a British noblewoman with her horse.

Lady Irene Helen Pratt (1906-1976), as she was originally known, was the daughter of a marquess. She married Archibald Cubitt in 1926; they were divorced in 1933. She then married and divorced an American, James Cameron Clark, before settling into a long-term marriage to a man named Charles Claud Jervis Crawfurd.

A search turned up this photo of her from 1930.

Eye strain is worth $100,000

The January 25 1932 edition of the Toronto Daily Star is turning out to be a good source of material. Here is a publicity photograph of a British actress who had just taken out an insurance policy against eye strain.

Jean Colin (1905-1987) started her stage career in Britain in 1923. She occasionally appeared in movies between 1930 and 1953 but mostly remained on the stage.

Her Internet Movie Database page states that she married a man named Fraser Henry Garloch in 1952 and that they remained together until he passed away in 1986. She doesn’t seem to have done anything particularly controversial, and doesn’t appear to have collected on her insurance policy.

Ex-football star

Here’s a publicity photograph from the January 25 1932 edition of the Toronto Daily Star of a former football player who was now a boxer.

Steve Hamas (1907-1974) played football for the Orange Tornadoes of the NFL in 1929. He then turned to boxing and won his first 29 heavyweight fights, twice beating former lightweight champion Tommy Loughran and once beating former heavyweight champion Max Schmeling.

He tore a tendon in his left elbow shortly before a rematch with Schmeling in 1935 but fought the bout anyway. This was a bad idea, as he was hospitalized for months afterward and was paralyzed on his left side for three years. He never fought again; during the Second World War, he served as a fitness instructor. He ended his working career at the New Jersey Department of Motor Vehicles.

The Swedish banknote girl

Here’s a publicity photo from the January 25 1930 edition of the Toronto Daily Star of a Swedish actress about to appear in a German movie.

Vera Schmiterlöw (1904-1987) appeared in movies in Sweden and Germany between 1920 and 1931. Shortly after this photograph was taken, she returned to the stage in Sweden. She did not appear on screen again until 1969, when she was cast in some TV movies and mini-series. Her last screen role was in the wonderfully named Release The Prisoners To Spring (1975).

Some elements of the caption above remain a mystery. I could find no reference to Ms. Schmiterlöw as a banknote girl, and I could not find a German film named The Butterfly Ball. When I looked in the Internet Movie Database for titles of that name, I found a 1977 concert movie featuring Roger Glover, the former lead singer of Deep Purple.

Robert Burns

January 25 is Robbie Burns Day, commemorating the Scottish poet and lyricist who was born on this day in 1759. The January 25 1932 edition of the Toronto Daily Star featured a poem in its “A Little Of Everything” section that honoured Mr. Burns:

It’s safe to say that this poet was proud of his Scots heritage.

Since James MacGregor was obliging enough to provide his address along with his poem, I looked him up in the Toronto city directories. He is listed at 471 Runnymede Road in the 1932 directory and was working as a painter. And that is where he stayed: he is listed as a painter at that address in the 1952 directory. The 1955 directory lists him with no occupation and the 1956 directory does not list him.


Here’s a photograph from the January 20 1927 edition of the Toronto Daily Star of an actress appearing in a movie that was about to play in the city.

Beatrice Lillie (1894-1989) was a British stage actress who was born in Toronto. She started her career performing in small towns in Ontario with her mother, Lucie Ann, and her sister Muriel, while her father, John, rented out the Toronto family home as a boarding house.

The 1910 Toronto city directory lists John A. Lillie as a plumber living at 190 Sherbourne, and lists Lucie as a vocalist and Muriel as a pianist at the same address. There was also another John Lillie working as an engineer and living at 180 Sherbourne; I have no idea if they were related. (190 Sherbourne looks like it still stands as half of a duplex, though it looks like it has been remodelled. 188 Sherbourne looks like it has not changed since 1910, though.)

The three Lillie women relocated to London after that, and Beatrice Lillie made her West End stage debut in 1914. She continued appearing in revues and shows in London and was widely praised for what Wikipedia refers to as her “exquisite sense of the absurd”.

She returned to New York City in 1926, and appeared in the movie Exit Smiling (mentioned in the photo) after that, starring opposite Mary Pickford’s brother, Jack Pickford. (The Pickfords were also born in Toronto.) She continued performing on both sides of the Atlantic until the Second World War.

At the time of this photo, she was married to Robert Peel, a used car salesman who eventually became the 5th Baronet Peel. His family had a title but no money, so Peel spent his wife’s money instead. They separated but never divorced; he passed away in 1935. Their son, who became the 6th Baronet, was killed in action in 1942.

She continued performing until suffering a stroke in the mid-1970s. The day after she passed away in 1989, her long-time companion, John Philip Huck, died of a heart attack. Huck, an actor, singer, and former U.S. Marine, was nearly three decades younger than she was.

YouTube has some footage and recordings of Beatrice Lillie, including “There Are Fairies At The Bottom Of Our Garden”, recorded in 1934, and a TV performance in 1950 of a sketch titled “Double Damask Dinner Napkins”.

A beautiful Cossack girl

Here’s a photograph from the January 20 1927 edition of the Toronto Daily Star of a Russian woman with her pet dog.

Lilli Streppetoff (and her pet dog) appear to have vanished into history. The only references I could find of her were from other newspapers around this time that were running the same wire service photo.

There’s always the possibility that Ms. Streppetoff wasn’t actually a Cossack, let alone the daughter of a general killed in the revolution. But there’s no way of knowing.

Mastering an outrigger

Here’s a photograph from the January 20 1927 edition of the Toronto Daily Star of a woman with a canoe.

Allene Ray (1901-1979) was midway through her film career at the time this photograph was taken. She was used to doing her own stunts and had already mastered horseback riding, so working with a Hawaiian outrigger was well within her skill set.

Her last movie was in 1931, after which she seems to have led an ordinary civilian life, working as a seamstress and fitter and then becoming a real estate broker. She married film producer Larry Wheeler in 1925; they stayed together until he passed away in 1958.