Nifty trio of ping-pong champs

Here’s a photo from the March 16 1932 edition of the Toronto Daily Star of three women about to compete at table tennis.

I couldn’t find much on Helen Ovenden, except for a couple of references and a link to a photo of her from 1935. I could find nothing at all on Isabelle McKenny.

By the time of this photograph, Helen Filkey had just retired after a career as a track and field star. This article provides details on her life. She passed away in 2000 at the age of 92.


Sentenced to 30 days

Here’s a photograph from the March 16 1932 edition of the Toronto Daily Star of a movie actress who was about to go to jail.

Mary Nolan (1902-1948) had a very difficult and tragic life. (Warning: there may be some triggers here.) Raised in an orphanage after her mother passed away, she became an artists’ model on moving to New York. She then became a wildly popular member of the Ziegfeld Follies under the stage name of Imogene “Bubbles” Wilson. She was fired after engaging in a public affair with blackface comedian Frank Tinney.

After finally ending her relationship with the sometimes-abusive (and married) Tinney, Nolan appeared in films in Germany between 1925 and 1927 under the stage name of Imogene Robertson. (Her birth name was Mariam Imogene Robertson.) She was widely acclaimed for her work there, which led her to being offered a contract with United Artists.

On her return, she chose her third stage name, Mary Nolan, to help moviegoers forget about her earlier incarnation as Bubbles. She began another affair with a married man, studio executive Eddie Mannix. When he ended the relationship in 1929, she threatened to tell his wife, so he beat her badly enough to require 15 surgeries on her stomach over six months. The treatment for her injuries led her to become addicted to morphine.

Ms. Nolan, as she still was, lost her last major studio job in 1930 after getting into a dispute with director Ernst Laemmle. After this, she only got roles on smaller pictures until her career ended in 1933.

In 1931, she married stockbroker Wallace T. McCreary, who had just lost $2 million on bad investments. They opened a dress shop, which went bankrupt. Shortly after the jail sentence described in the photo above, the two divorced.

In later years, Ms. Nolan, now calling herself Mary Wilson, was hospitalized for a year after overdosing on sedatives, and she also ran a bungalow court. She died of an overdose of barbiturates at the age of 46 – the age at which her mother had died of cancer.


Dental practice

Here’s a short but sad notice that appeared in the March 16 1932 edition of the Toronto Daily Star:

Normally, when I look things up in the Toronto city directories, I go forward into the future. But, for this notice, I looked back to see how long the late Dr. L. J. Bancroft had been in town. The first directory that I found him in was the 1911 directory, where he is listed as Dr. Lester J. Bancroft. At that time, he was living at 151 Bedford Road (now gone) and his practice was at 575 Gerrard East.

By 1914, Dr. Bancroft was living at 13 Harcourt Avenue and his practice was still at 575 Gerrard East. This was unchanged in 1919. In the 1925 directory, his practice and home address were at 274 Danforth, the address shown in the notice above. In the 1931 directory, Dr. Bancroft had his practice at 274 Danforth and his home address was 11 Douglas Crescent in East York.

I looked up 274 Danforth in the 1932 and 1933 directories to see what happened next. The 1932 directory still lists Lester J. Bancroft, but the 1933 directory lists Sydney J. Hopkins as a dentist at that location. So I suppose that he had the winning tender for Dr. Bancroft’s practice.

Looking at Google Street View, I noticed that 274 Danforth doesn’t appear to exist anymore. My guess is that it was a building similar to the currently existing 272 Danforth, and that 274 and 276 were torn down to make room for the current (and larger) 276 Danforth.


I am over 40 years old!

Here’s an ad from the March 16 1932 edition of the Toronto Daily Star in which an actress admits that she is not as young as she used to be.

I have always loved Lux Toilet Soap ads because of their odd specificity. The text of this ad claims that, of the 613 important Hollywood actresses, 605 use Lux soap regularly. Which leads me to wonder:

  • How did they count them?
  • Who are the renegade eight that are using some other soap?

Of course, the answer to both of these questions is that the good people who wrote the ad copy for Lux Toilet Soap quite likely completely made up these numbers. But I still like the idea of eight holdouts. Were they blacklisted, I wonder?

Alla Nazimova has appeared in this blog before. She was not uncomfortable with admitting that she was over 40, as she was actually a few weeks shy of 53 years old when she was featured in this ad. Among other things, she was Nancy Reagan’s godmother.


Xylophone artist

Here’s a photo from the March 16 1932 edition of the Toronto Daily Star of a dapper young man who was a musician:

I did a Google search and found nothing on Ivan Specht. I also found nothing on Burton Till or his orchestra, even though it was apparently well-known at the time.

But, since they were living in Toronto, I tried tracing them in the Toronto city directories. I first located Mr. Specht in the 1926 directory; he was listed as a musician and living at 99 Hogarth. Arthur Specht, who worked as an elevator operator at Eaton’s, also lived there; I’m not sure whether he was Ivan’s father or his brother.

Like many musicians before and since, Mr. Specht landed a day job: the 1932 directory lists him as an employee at Maclean Publishing. Between 1932 and 1950, he continued at Maclean, later Maclean-Hunter, with his occupation listed as accountant, “cash cage”, and department manager. By 1950, he was listed as living in King; he is not in the 1951 directory, since presumably he was neither living nor working in Toronto.

I also did some poking about for Burton Till, though I did not do it systematically. The 1919 directory lists a Burton E. Till working as a clerk, and the 1932 directory lists a Bert E. Till as a musician. Other directories in between and later did not list him. I suspect that he might have moved from place to place a bit.


I’ll raise you!

Here’s a photograph from the March 16 1932 edition of the Toronto Daily Star of a young woman holding a giant playing card.

A search for Frances Flinton turned up only one other reference: a photo of a woman, identified as Frances Flinton, in front of a magnetic bridge board. This woman doesn’t look anything like the woman in the photo above. But there are references to playing cards in both pictures, so presumably they are connected. However, I do not know how.


To marry Earl of Warwick

Here’s a photo that appeared on the front page of the March 16 1932 edition of the Toronto Daily Star of a British debutante about to marry an earl.

Charles Greville, the 7th Earl of Warwick, has appeared in this blog before. Instead of marrying Margaret Whigham, he married Rose Bingham in 1933; they were divorced in 1938. He went on to become an actor in Hollywood under the stage name of Michael Brooke.

Margaret Campbell, the Duchess of Argyll (1912-1993) led an eventful and controversial life. Some highlights:

  • When she was 15, the future actor David Niven, who was 18 at the time, got her pregnant. She was sent to a London nursing home for a secret pregnancy termination. (She remained fond of him, and she was a VIP guest at his memorial service in 1983.)
  • When she married American businessman Charles Francis Sweeny in 1933 in London, the publicity surrounding her wedding dress tied up traffic in Knightsbridge for three hours.
  • The couple had three children before divorcing in 1947, one of whom was stillborn. Before this, she suffered through eight miscarriages.
  • In 1943, she fell 40 feet down an elevator shaft, only surviving because she grabbed the elevator cable, losing all of her fingernails in the process.
  • In 1951, she became the third wife of Ian Campbell, the 11th Duke of Argyll. The marriage did not last: he was reportedly abusive and she was unfaithful. It ended in 1963 when the duke discovered photographs of the duchess in various compromising positions. Her list of alleged lovers included two government ministers and three members of the British royal family.
  • She wrote a memoir titled Forget Not in 1975. Critics apparently panned it for its name-dropping and air of entitlement.
  • In later years, she became poor. She passed away in a nursing home in the Pimlico district of London.

Is oratory winner

Here’s a photo from the March 16 1932 edition of the Toronto Daily Star of a young man who had just won a debating contest.

Since Victor C. Killing had a unique name, I decided to look him up in the Toronto city directories. I found him in the 1938 Toronto city directory, working as a draftsman and living at 60 Herbert Avenue. Two other family members lived there: Kathleen G. Killing worked as a stenographer for the Clerk of the Legislative Assembly, and William C. Killing, who presumably was their father, was listed as a staff inspector for the OPP. (It might have been disconcerting at times to hear that Inspector Killing was on the job.)

Victor C. Killing appears in the city directories as a draftsman (or occasionally a photo engraver) up to the 1961 directory. He is not listed in the 1962 directory; hopefully, he just moved out of town and didn’t pass away at a too-young age.


Count’s London wedding

Here’s a photograph from the March 16 1932 edition of the Toronto Daily Star of a German count and his bride.

Count von Lichowsky was the son of Karl Max, Prince Lichowsky (1860-1928), who was the German ambassador to Britain until the outbreak of the First World War. He was apparently the only German diplomat who objected to Germany’s plans to provoke a war between Austria and Serbia; in a cable, he stated, “If war breaks out, it will be the greatest catastrophe the world has ever seen.” Sadly, he was not wrong.

The marriage of Graf Michael Max Leopold von Lichnowsky and Mildred Lucille Louise Withstandley did not last; they divorced in 1937. The Count went on to marry Elisabeth Umhoff in 1953. He was born in 1907; I couldn’t find his date of death.

Ms. Withstandley, who was born in Brooklyn in 1899, had previously divorced Silas Kendrick Everett and Morris Roderick Volck, Sr. The New York Times has an article on Ms. Withstandley’s and Mr. Volck’s marriage, which took place in 1919.


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.