Can. life insur. official

Here’s a photograph from the November 21 1931 edition of the Toronto Daily Star of a man who had just been elected vice-president of the Canadian Life Insurance Officers’ Association.

It might be my imagination, but Mr. Lithgow looks a little sad-eyed in this photograph.

I looked James H. Lithgow up in the Toronto city directories. In the 1931 directory, he is listed as an assistant general manager at Manufacturers Life, living at 264 Oriole Parkway. In later editions of the city directories, he is easy to find, as his entry is in bold face; he eventually became the Chairman of the Board.

Between 1946 and 1951, his address changed from 264 Oriole Parkway to 262 Oriole Parkway, as the street was renumbered. This must have been confusing for the mailman. Along the way, he started calling himself J. Hector Lithgow.

Mr. Lithgow retained his bold-face status in the Toronto city directory right up to 1959. He is listed in the 1960 directory, but not in bold face. He is not in the 1961 directory, but it does not list his widow, so I have no idea whether he passed away or retired someplace. A Google search didn’t reveal anything.


Peer enters prison

Here’s a photo from the November 21 1931 edition of the Toronto Daily Star of a British peer who was about to go to jail.

Owen Philipps, 1st Baron Kylsant (1863-1937) bought his first ship in 1889 with help from his older brother. He went on from there to buy a controlling interest in more than twenty other companies, including the Royal Mail Steam Packet Company and the White Star Line. He was arrested early in 1931 for “Publishing a document with intent to induce a person to advance property”, which violated Section 84 of the Larceny Act (1864).

Lord Kylsant’s appeals were exhausted at the time of this photo, and he was hauled off to Wormwood Scrubs to serve ten months in the clink. According to his obituary in the TImes, on his release in August 1932 he was greeted as follows:

On his return to Coomb he was given a warm welcome and his car was drawn by 40 men at a running pace for about a quarter of a mile to the entrance of the house, and passed under an arch of laurel and evergreen which had been built over the gates.

Most ex-convicts don’t end their terms in this way.

When Lord Kylsant passed away, his hereditary peerage ended with him, as he had fathered three daughters and no sons.


On top of the world

Here’s another publicity photo from the photo page of the November 21 1931 edition of the Toronto Daily Star:

Greta Nissen (1906-1988) started her performing career as a ballerina, appearing on Broadway in 1924, and then appeared in a number of films between 1923 and 1928. She was originally cast as the lead in Howard Hughes’ Hell’s Angels, but was paid off and removed from the film when it was converted from a silent film to a talkie, as she was playing the part of a British aristocrat and spoke with a noticeable Norwegian accent.

Her Wikipedia page does not mention her joining a Rochester stock company. But it does show that she appeared in no movies between 1928 and 1931, and that her career restarted after that. She appeared in a number of pictures between 1931 and 1937, after which she retired from movie acting.

In 1941, she married Stuart D. Eckert, an industrialist. They remained married until she passed away in 1988. At the time of her death, she was still receiving fan mail.


Commercial artists’ model

Fair warning: we’re going to be spending the next few days in the world of November 21 1931, as that day’s Toronto Daily Star had a lot of interesting (or at least mildly interesting) articles and photographs. Here’s a photograph from that day’s edition:

It’s just a trick of how the photograph was translated to print, then translated to microfiche, and then digitized, but Ms. Boardman’s face looks more modern than 1931 to me.

Eleanor Boardman (1898-1991) had just about finished her film career by the time this photograph was taken. She appeared in only one movie after 1931: The Three-Cornered Hat (1935), in which she played the miller’s wife.

She was married to director King Vidor from 1926 to 1933; she then married the French screenwriter and director Harry d’Abbadie d’Arrast in 1940. They stayed married until he passed away in 1968. After his death, she moved to California and lived in a house that she designed.


No relation

The August 1 1931 edition of the Toronto Daily Star has been a rich source of material! Here’s the Personals section from that paper:


I feel sorry for Mr. J. Beaver of 62 Winchester Street, who felt compelled to take out a personals ad with his name in large letters. The 1931 and 1932 Toronto city directories list Harry Beaver at that address; he was a plasterer. J. Beaver might have been his son. 62 Winchester is now a nice old house in Cabbagetown.

I also looked up Hiram Thomas Bush in the 1931 and 1932 directories and did not find him, so they would not have been of help to Wright at 181 Hudson Drive. The Streets section of the 1931 directory lists Wilmot G. Clarke as the resident at that address, but the Names section indicates that there was a Dorothy Wright also living there. Perhaps she placed the ad. 181 Hudson Drive still stands.


Out of thin air

Here’s a photograph from the August 1 1931 edition of the Toronto Daily Star:


Roberta Byron had been performing professionally since at least 1929, when she was billed as the Youngest Magician In The World at a convention in Lima, Ohio. She stopped performing sometime in the early 1940s.

This document provides a history of Ms. Byron’s life and career. She passed away in 2002.


In her spare time

Here’s a photo from the August 1 1931 edition of the Toronto Daily Star of a woman who constructed a telescope in her spare time.


Google searches turned up nothing else on Mrs. Catherine Jenkins. I suspect that she could have contributed a lot more to science had she been given the opportunity.


Toronto is raving

Here’s a movie ad from the August 1 1931 edition of the Toronto Daily Star.


It was handy of the ad to explain that “tabu” meant “forbidden”.

Tabu (also called Tabu: A Story of the South Seas) was a silent film divided into two parts:

  • Part 1 featured two lovers on a South Sea island who were forced to flee when the female half of the couple was chosen to be a “holy maid to the gods”, which presumably isn’t good.
  • In Part 2, they lived on a colonised island and were exploited by Western civilization. This isn’t good either.

Facts about the movie:

  • F. W. Murnau, the director, had died in an automobile crash earlier in the year; this was his last film.
  • Reri‘s full name was Anna Irma Ruahrei Chevalier; the daughter of a French father and a Polynesian mother, she was spotted in a bar in Bora Bora. She passed away in Tahiti in 1977.
  • The movie won an Oscar for Best Cinematography. The cinematographer, Floyd Crosby, eventually became the father of musician David Crosby.
  • It was not a box office success, grossing only $472,000; its investors lost money.
  • In 1994, Tabu was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry.

You can view Tabu on YouTube here.



Conditions are bad

From the August 1 1931 edition of the Toronto Daily Star, I learned that 1931 was a terrible drought year on the Prairies. Here’s an article from that edition that described the effects of the drought on the southern part of Saskatchewan:


Southern Saskatchewan is part of Palliser’s Triangle, a geographic region that was originally considered too dry to be settled. Modern farming methods have made both farming and ranching more possible in this area.

Saskatchewan wasn’t the only area having problems in 1931. Here’s a photo from the picture page of the same August 1 1931 edition of the Daily Star:



The Three American Beauties

The August 1 1931 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contained this ad for Sunnyside Beach:


This edition of the paper also included a photograph of the three American beauties in question:


Various Google searches on the Three American Beauties turned up nothing, but I did discover a 1906 film titled Three American Beauties. This 50-second clip features footage of a rose, a woman, and the American flag.