Marilyn Miller in person

Here’s an ad from the May 3 1930 edition of the Toronto Daily Star for a radio presentation of a musical.

It’s interesting that they listed the start time in both Daylight Saving Time and Eastern Standard Time. In Ontario at that time, DST started on the last Sunday in April unless that Sunday was on April 25, in which case DST started on May 1. This is a bit confusing, which might explain the multiple start times.

Marilyn Miller (1898-1936) was a tap dancer, singer, and actress, and was a Broadway star in the 1920s and early 1930s. She started her career young, first appearing on the stage at the age of four as part of a family vaudeville act. She first achieved fame in the stage version of Sally, which ran for 570 performances starting in 1920.

Sadly, Ms. Miller did not have a long or happy life – she was plagued by alcoholism and sinus infections. She died from complications following surgery on her nasal passages.

Ms. Miller was married four times. Her second marriage was to Jack Pickford, brother of Mary, who was battling alcohol and drug addictions and was apparently abusive. Her fourth and final marriage was to Chester O’Brien, a chorus dancer eleven years her junior. O’Brien went on to become a stage manager; he was the production stage manager for Sesame Street for over ten years. He occasionally appeared on the show as Mr. Macintosh, a fruit and vegetable vendor, from 1975 to 1992.

A movie version of Sally was released in 1929, featuring Ms. Miller in the starring role. YouTube has several clips of her and of this movie, including this sequence that is partly in black and white and partly in colour.


More filler

I love looking at newspapers from the 1930s for many reasons, one of which is because they always contained lots of little bits of filler to ensure that every column of every page contained no blank space.

As an example, I grabbed copies of some bits of filler from the May 3 1930 edition of the Toronto Daily Star. They led me to categorize newspaper filler into five broad categories. First, there’s obscure facts:

Next, we have words of alleged advice:

And there are jokes and witty sayings, some of which are better than others:

Of course, there are bits of news:

And, last but not least, there are local events:

I tried to look up Miss Elsie Cochrane in the Toronto city directories to see if she was listed there as an adult. She was not in the 1933, 1935, and 1938 directories.


Camera study #3

Here’s the third and last camera study from the photo page of the May 3 1930 edition of the Toronto Daily Star:

I am always astonished to see the name and address of a “charming young lady” appear in the newspaper. Wasn’t this an invitation to stalkers and other unpleasant people? Also: was she wearing some sort of headband, or was this just a series of scratches in the photograph?

Despite having her address as a clue, it was difficult, if not impossible, to trace Miss Helen V. McArthur. The 1930 Toronto city directory lists Wm G. McArthur working as a “trav” and living at 220 Waverley. However, he doesn’t appear to have put down roots there: the 1931 directory lists him as a salesman at W. G. Clarke and living at 10 Ladykirk Avenue.

The 1933 directory doesn’t list William G. McArthur, but does have a listing for a Helen McArthur living on Irene Avenue. She doesn’t appear in the 1932 and 1934 directories. I have no idea whether this is the woman in the photo.


Camera study #2

Here’s another portrait from the photo page of the May 3 1930 edition of the Toronto Daily Star:

It is always harder to trace women in the Toronto city directories, as married women are not listed independently, and single women often got married, changed their name, and thus become impossible to trace. It’s doubly hard if the person has a relatively common surname.

But I did find a Violet Law in the 1930 city directory: she was working as a stenographer at the Sellers-Gough Fur Company and living in an apartment on Queen East in the Beaches. She was at Sellers-Gough into 1936, but is not listed in the 1937 directory.

This is where the problem of having a common surname emerges – there is a Violet Law listed in the 1938 directory and working as a housekeeper at the Westmoreland Hotel. This Violet Law was working there as late as 1945. I doubt that this is the same person as the woman in the photo above, since stenographers normally don’t become housekeepers, but I have no way of knowing.


Camera study #1

The photo page of the May 3 1930 edition of the Toronto Daily Star included three portraits of Toronto citizens, all of whom were presumably considered photogenic enough for print. Here’s the first one:

When I looked in the Toronto city directories, I discovered that Arthur G. Pinard’s career went on a steady upward path. The 1935 directory listed him as sales manager at Lowe Bros., the 1940 directory listed him as vice-president, and the 1943 directory listed him as president and managing director.

However, I fear that it didn’t go well from there. The 1945 directory lists him as president of Lowe Brothers, and also provides a listing for his son, Arthur Jr. However, the 1946 directory just lists Arthur Jr. It’s possible that Arthur Sr. moved out of town or retired and settled somewhere warm – but, sadly, I am assuming the worst.


French art collection

Here’s an ad from the March 24 1930 edition of the Toronto Daily Star for what was billed as an auction of French art.

It was a very valuable and artistic French art collection!

I wanted to find out: was there really a Comte De Richemont, and did he really live at the Chateau de Verneuil? And, if so, why on earth was his estate being auctioned off at an art gallery in Toronto?

When I searched the Internet, I discovered that there was a Comte De Richemont whose title was hereditary, but the third Comte passed away in 1912, and his son died in 1941. There seems to be a Chateau de Verneuil in Moussy-Verneuil, but this French Wikipedia entry seems to indicate that the chateau had been owned by the same family since the 17th century. The family apparently is now extinct, but one member of it lived until 1948, which makes it less likely that the contents of the chateau had been spirited away to Toronto. I also could find no reference to an art expert named R. G. Sussman. So while I don’t know for sure that the text of this ad is all made up, that’s my best guess.

The Toronto city directory listed Jenkins B M & T, antique furniture dealers, at 28-30 College Street. The listing was in bold face, so they had paid for a premium entry in the city directory. Not only that: Thomas Jenkins, its president and manager, had paid for a bold-face entry for himself in the directory. So, clearly, he wanted to make an impression! Thomas E. Jenkins, the secretary-treasurer (and probably Thomas’s son) was also listed, but with a normal-sized entry.

I discovered that the firm had been in existence a long time: I found a Jenkins B M & T listing in the 1900 directory. Thomas Jenkins was still the proprietor. A comment in this post in the Occasional Toronto blog states that the firm was founded by Bridget Mary Burns Jenkins and her son, Thomas; this would explain the initials. (Oddly enough, the 1895 directory lists the firm as M B & T Jenkins; this might have been a typo.) The 1890 directory lists Thomas Jenkins with an occupation of “furniture”, so the firm was started after that.

I could find no listing for Bridget Jenkins in any Toronto directory. This might be because of sexism, or perhaps she might have started a branch of the firm in Montreal: the WorldCat global library catalogue website lists a book from 1900 that references a Montreal location for the Jenkins art galleries. The book is titled Jenkins’ palatial antique & art galleries, and is apparently ten pages of illustrations that were to serve as a “record of our activities during the past sixty years”. So either the Jenkins Galleries started in Montreal and branched out to Toronto, or this was all made up too. I could find no references to a Jenkins art gallery in Montreal, so I have no way of knowing.

Interestingly enough, there was a Thomas Jenkins who was a British painter and antiquities dealer who lived in Rome in the 18th century. So it’s either a coincidence that our Mr. Jenkins had the same name as a more famous antiquary from the past, or perhaps our man even made up his name. Either way, he dreamed and thought big, which makes him more interesting.

Jenkins Galleries is listed in the 1935 and 1940 directories, but in normal type, with Thomas E. Jenkins as proprietor, and located at 840 Yonge. Presumably, his father had passed on to the great art gallery in the sky.

The Jenkins Gallery is listed in the Art Canada Institute’s glossary of Canadian art history. The original facade for the gallery is still preserved at 23 Grenville Street; the building is now a condo named The Gallery. The Toronto Public Library has photos from 1927 from inside the gallery.


Eminent Danish baritone

Here’s an ad from the March 24 1930 edition of the Toronto Daily Star featuring a prominent Danish baritone and the piano that was to accompany him at his upcoming concert.

A Google search for Poul Bai revealed that he had immigrated to Canada. The Canadian Encyclopedia’s entry on Danish music in Canada states that Mr. Bai arrived in 1927, taught at the Toronto Conservatory of Music from 1927 to 1932, and taught privately until about 1960. He also conducted a 20-voice Scandinavian male choir for many years.

I also found a Canadian wartime propaganda pamphlet from 1941, Canadians All, that lists Mr. Bai among noteworthy Canadians of Danish extraction. The introductory sentence of the foreword to this pamphlet was:

Before the Nazi attacks with military strength, he attempts to undermine the moral and physical resistance of his victim nation by termite tactics.

That’s overwrought, but probably not wrong.

When I realized that Mr. Bai had settled in Toronto, I looked him up in the Toronto city directories. I couldn’t find him in the 1928 or 1929 directories; the 1930 directory lists a Paul Bai as a salesman, but I’m not sure whether this was him and he was briefly taking on a day job. He’s not in the 1931 directory, so I don’t know for sure.

The first definite sighting of Mr. Bai in the Toronto city directories is in 1932, when a Puol Bai is listed as an artist. In the 1933 and 1935 directories, he is listed as Poul Bai; in 1940, he’s back to being listed as Paul Bai. I sense that this was an ongoing struggle.

Moving forward: because the Canadian Encyclopedia listed him as teaching until about 1960, I looked him up in directories from about that time. I found him in the 1958 and 1960 directories listed as Paul Bai and working as a singing teacher; perhaps, by then, he had given up and had anglicized his first name. He does not appear in the 1961 directory, so maybe the Canadian Encyclopedia researched him the same way that I did.

The ad mentions in small type that Muriel Gidley was to accompany Mr. Bai on the piano. I didn’t trace her in the city directories, but I did find her obituary – she passed away in 2004 at the age of 98. Under her married name of Muriel Stafford, she has a Canadian Encyclopedia entry. She also has an Internet Movie Database entry, as she appeared on Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show in 1963 as a guest, and appeared on the TV series We the People twice in 1949.


Petite and popular

Here’s a publicity photo from the photo page of the March 24 1930 edition of the Toronto Daily Star.

Bessie Love (1896-1986) had steady work in movies from 1916 to 1930, including an Academy Award nomination for Broadway Melody (1929). Film roles dried up for her after that, so she married, had a child, moved to England in 1935, and then divorced.

Starting in the 1940s, she was steadily employed in British films and television, sometimes playing an American tourist (and why not?). Her career lasted through the 1980s, and her list of career accomplishments was so extensive that it needed a separate Wikipedia page. There is no record of her playing Peter Pan, though – perhaps this was just a gimmick for a publicity shot.


Lady Lindsay, arrived, recently

Here’s a picture from the photo page of the March 24 1930 edition of the Toronto Daily Star whose caption, might, have, contained, an, extra, comma, or two:

Elizabeth Sherman Lindsay (1885-1954) was a grandniece of Civil War general William Tecumseh Sherman. She became a landscape gardener at a time when this was an occupation that was not normally open to women, and she was also a leading figure in the American Red Cross during the First World War.

Ronald Lindsay (1877-1945) was a career British diplomat. He had previously been the ambassador to Turkey and Germany before being appointed the ambassador to the United States. He stayed in the post until 1939, an unusually long tenure for an ambassador; apparently, he was quite good at the job. When he returned to England, his wife was unable to join him due to wartime travel restrictions and her own poor health.

Sir Ronald seems to have had a fondness for grandnieces of William Tecumseh Sherman. He married Martha Cameron in 1909; she passed away in 1918. He then married her cousin, born Elizabeth Sherman Hoyt and pictured here, in 1924.


Snubbed by society

Here’s a bit of filler from the March 24 1930 edition of the Toronto Daily Star about a woman who was snubbed by Cleveland society.

The Midwest Guest blog has an article on Jimmy and Laura Mae Corrigan. She had inherited her husband’s fortune when he unexpectedly dropped dead in 1928. After returning to England, she lived on an income of $800,000 a year in London during the 1930s.

When war broke out, Mrs. Corrigan raised enough money for wartime relief efforts that she earned the nickname “The American Angel”. After the war, England awarded her the King’s Medal, and France honoured her with the Croix de Guerre, Legion of Honor, and Croix de Combattant. She passed away in 1948, and is buried in the same Cleveland cemetery as John D. Rockefeller.