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Sweetheart of the A.E.F.

Here’s a photograph from the May 6 1929 edition of the Toronto Daily Star of an actress who was about to retire from the stage.

Elsie Janis (1889-1956) might have been in poor health at the time of this photograph, but she went on to become, among other things, a songwriter, a screenwriter, a production manager, and the first female announcer on the NBC radio network.

During World War I, Ms. Janis had regularly performed overseas for troops stationed behind the front line, thus earning the “sweetheart” nickname given here. YouTube has, among other things, a brief documentary about her, a short feature from 1926, and a comic song from 1912.

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Makes glider flight

Here’s a photo from the May 6 1929 edition of the Toronto Daily Star of a woman who had just completed a successful glider flight.

Maxine Dunlap Bennett (1908-c. 1977) became the first licensed female glider pilot in the United States when she flew for 50 seconds, well exceeding the qualification requirement of 30 seconds. She then became president of the Bay Region California Gliding Club.

She married her flight instructor, Donald Templeman, later in 1929; they divorced in 1933. She then married Joe Bennett in 1934. After their marriage, she did all the flying in the family, because why not?

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Is ninety to-morrow

Here’s a photograph on the front page of the May 6 1929 edition of the Toronto Daily Star of a woman who was about to turn 90.

As usual with listings like this, I went to the Toronto city directories to indulge my morbid curiosity: how many more birthdays did she get to have? The answer appears to be about three. The 1929 directory lists Margaret Sintzenich at 552 Balliol and she appears in the 1932 directory at that address. (In the latter, she is listed as the widow of Maurice.) She does not appear in the 1933 directory.

552 Balliol Street appears to be a nice semi-detached house in the Davisville neighbourhood. It looks like it hasn’t changed much since Ms. Sintzenich celebrated her 90th birthday there.

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Unique photographic record

Here’s an entry from the photo page of the May 6 1929 edition of the Toronto Daily Star that I saved because, basically, WTF?

I venture to guess that this prison, wherever it was, wasn’t really into trying to rehabilitate its inmates. I hope that the prisoners at least got to change directions during their exercise period.

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Most beautiful debutante

Here’s a picture from the photo page of the May 6 1929 edition of the Toronto Daily Star of a young woman who was honoured as America’s most beautiful debutante.

Ms. de Acosta went on to appear in some Broadway plays in 1930. (Though Playbill’s entry for her is a bit suspicious, as I doubt that she appeared in two separate plays whose opening night was September 29, 1930. I suppose that it could have been a twin bill.) The New York City Public Library Digital Collections includes a photograph of her in one of these roles.

She married George Trowbridge Elliman in 1931 and passed away in 1989.

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Seein’ stars

Here’s a cartoon from the May 4 1934 edition of the Toronto Daily Star featuring ancedotes about celebrities:

Feg Murray (1894-1973) was once a star himself: before turning to cartooning, he won the bronze medal in the 110-metre hurdles at the 1920 Summer Olympic Games. Besides creating this syndicated column, Murray worked as a sportswriter and cartoonist for the Los Angeles Times.

Neal Burns (1892-1965) appeared in more than 200 films between 1915 and 1946. He doesn’t seem to have done anything remarkable other than scoring all of those holes in one.

Alice White (1904-1983) had starred in a number of films in the 1920s. (Warning: potential triggers ahead.) In 1933, she had ended an affair with actor John Warburton when he allegedly beat her so badly that she required cosmetic surgery to heal. Shortly afterwards, two men beat and robbed Warburton; Ms. White and her soon-to-be husband, screenwriter Sidney Bartlett, were accused of hiring the men. A grand jury refused to indict the couple, but the publicity harmed Ms. White’s career; she dropped to the bottom of the bill in the films in which she was cast and eventually became a secretary. By the way: though the cartoon above claimed that Ms. White did not know the date of her birth, her Wikipedia page lists it as August 25, 1904.

The Marx Brothers, together or separately, were a famous vaudeville, theatre, and television act. The Marxology website has a lengthy article on the lost film Humor Risk.

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Friday the 13th

You are probably familiar with the “Friday the 13th” series of horror films, but did you know that there was a movie with the same title that was released in 1933? The May 4 1934 edition of the Toronto Daily Star had an advertisement for it:

This version of Friday the 13th was a British film. It describes the lives of several people shortly before they were to be involved in a bus crash. The entire movie is on YouTube.

The movie’s star, Jessie Matthews (1907-1981), was married to cast member Sonnie Hale – somewhat scandalously so, as the two had begun an affair while Hale was still married to his previous wife. The couple divorced in 1944.

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You won’t know your own “figger”

Here’s an ad from the May 4 1934 edition of the Toronto Daily Star that caught my attention for a number of reasons:

I am not sure which is more startling: that the ad thought that the word “figure” was too fancy for its target audience, or the very idea of a corset, which presumably was a very unpleasant experience for its wearer. I did learn, though, that back-lacing corsets were cheaper than front-lacing corsets.

I took a look in the Toronto city directories and discovered that Woolnough Corsetiers and Woolnough Shops were listed in the 1934 Toronto city directory with F. J. Woolnough as their proprietor. Mr. Woolnough had been in the business of corseting a long time: the 1910 directory lists him as the manager of the Corset Specialty Company.

However, he was about to retire: the 1936 directory lists him (with an occupation of “corseter”), but there is no listing for Woolnough Corseters, and the Woolnough Shops now has Kate J. Nicol as its manager. Sadly, Mr. Woolnough did not survive long out of harness: the 1938 directory does not list him.

The Woolnough name was well-known enough that the Woolnough Shop, as it became known, continued to live on after its namesake had passed on. It is listed as a ladies’ wear shop; I’m not sure whether it specialized in corsets or whether it offered less restrictive options. The firm continued under Ms. Nicol’s stewardship at least until 1948; I didn’t trace it after that.

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All ready to go

Here’s a photograph from the May 4 1934 edition of the Toronto Daily Star of a young woman with a bicycle.

I am fascinated by this photograph because of how the bicycle was constructed: it looks like somebody attached automobile tires to a bicycle frame. I wonder how well the bike handled?

I did a search for Joan O’Leary, and it appears that she was just a random nice-looking woman from Hollywood, not a movie star. There is no entry under her name in the Internet Movie Database; searches for her turned up other people with that name, including a Joan O’Leary who is an associate producer on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.

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Was his face red

Here’s a photograph from the May 4 1934 edition of the Toronto Daily Star of a soccer goalkeeper who saw the ball roll into the net behind him.

A little digging revealed that this was from Scotland’s final match in the 1933-34 British Home Championship, held on April 14 1934. This article describes the match in some detail.

The goalkeeper shown here was John Jackson (1906-1965), who played for Partick Thistle in the Scottish football league from 1926 to 1933 and Chelsea in the English league from 1933 to 1939. He made eight international appearances for Scotland.

After his playing career, Jackson emigrated to Nova Scotia and became a professional golfer.