What if he should tire of me?

Here’s an ad for Lux Toilet Soap from the May 26 1933 edition of the Toronto Daily Star:

Like other Lux ads of this era, this ad is oddly specific: it claims that 686 of the important 694 actresses in Hollywood use Lux, including all stars. It then claims that “9 out of 10 Screen Stars” use Lux. Oh, well – you can’t expect copywriters to have fluency with numbers.

Aileen Pringle (1895-1989) was an actress who lived a life of privilege: she was born into a wealthy San Francisco family and then married the son of a wealthy British-Jamaican landowner before starting her film career. This might have been why she was noted for her apparent disdain of her fellow actors and of her chosen profession: apparently, in the silent movie Three Weeks (1924), lip readers can discern that she told co-star Conrad Nagel, during a romantic scene, “If you drop me, you bastard, I’ll break your neck.”

On the other hand, Ms. Pringle successfully cultivated friendships with a number of writers and artists, including H. L. Mencken, who became a lifelong friend. She apparently had “wit, a keen intellect, and a sparkling personality”, which are obviously good things to have. She spent her later years in New York, living a comfortable life.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


Meet Fioravanti Baggio

Here’s a photograph from the May 4 1934 edition of the Toronto Daily Star of a cyclist who had sustained notable bruises after a six-day event.

Fioravante Baggio does not have a Wikipedia page, but I did find this entry for him on a cycling website. He immigrated to Canada in 1929, and he finished second in a six-day event in Vancouver in 1934. He passed away in Montreal in 1991.

There is also a Rua Fioravante Baggio in Curitiba, Puerto Rico. I have no idea if this street is named after the cyclist.


Wants trial at once

Here’s a photo from the May 4 1934 edition of the Toronto Daily Star of a woman accused of harboring notorious gangster John Dillinger:

John Dillinger (1903-1934), who had the perfect name for a wanted desperado, was the head of a gang that was accused of robbing 24 banks and four police stations. He evaded police in four states for over a year before being shot as he attempted to flee from the Biograph Theater in Chicago.

Evelyn “Billie” Freschette (1907-1969) was raised on a Menominee Indigenous reservation in Wisconsin before attending a residential school in South Dakota. In 1932, she married Welton Spark just before he was about to start a 15-year term in Leavenworth prison for three counts of robbery; they divorced in 1933. She was involved with Dillinger for about six months before being arrested.

She served two years in prison and was released in 1936. After her release, she toured with the Dillinger family for five years in a show titled Crime Doesn’t Pay. She later returned to the Menominee reservation, married twice more, and passed away from cancer.


In aid of blind

When I look at old Toronto Daily Star newspapers from the early 1930s, I am always startled to run across photos of women with their name and address included in the caption. Here’s another example, from May 1 1931:

However, searches in the Toronto city directories yielded nothing on Miss Mimi Loran. The Streets section of the 1930, 1931, and 1932 directories listed Mrs. D. R. Harvey as living at 111 Crescent Road. There was an I. R. Loran living on Maitland Street in 1931 and a J. Loran on Bain Avenue in 1932, but they’re probably unrelated.

Perhaps Ms. Loran was ahead of her time and realized that publishing her name and address in the paper was a bad idea, so she provided a pseudonym. Or perhaps her name was misspelled. I’ll never know for sure.


May be Mormon head

Here’s a photo from the May 1 1931 edition of the Toronto Daily Star of a United States senator who was also high up in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, as it’s now known:

Reed Smoot (1862-1941) was born in Salt Lake City, Utah. His father, who was mayor of Salt Lake City from 1856 to 1862, had six wives and 27 children. (The LDS church officially renounced plural marriages in 1890, but it was rumoured that some church leaders continued to secretly approve them.)

Smoot was first elected to the Senate in 1903. When he was elected, a committee was formed to determine whether he was fit for office, as some people believed that his position in the church would conflict with his duty to his non-church constituents. The committee recommended that he not be allowed to take his seat, but the vote to expel him failed. He remained a senator until 1933, when he was defeated.

Many historians believe that the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act, passed in 1930, made the Great Depression worse.