America’s outstanding hope

Here’s one more photograph from the March 2 1932 edition of the Toronto Daily Star, featuring a young man who was good at gymnastics.

Searches for Jack Holst didn’t turn up very much. There were other photographs of him from 1932 and 1933, and this page, which stated that he was the 1933 AAU high-bar champion. But he does not appear to have competed at the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin.

The only other reference to him that I found was in Billboard magazine in 1947. He was appearing as a vaudeville act, performing gymnastics at the Loew’s State Theatre in New York. I have no idea what happened to him, but I assume that advancing age and the rise of television would have reduced his career opportunities.


Going up alone

Here’s a photograph from the March 2 1932 edition of the Toronto Daily Star of a young woman about to become a solo pilot.

Loma Worth was a stage name sometimes used by Olivebelle Hamon (1909-1987). Ms. Hamon was a child violin prodigy; in 1922, she played her violin while walking up and down the 33 flights of the fire escape of the Wrigley Building in Chicago to raise funds for charity. She started flying lessons at the age of 10, and earned her federal pilot’s license after the death of Robert Short, a pilot whom she had planned to marry.

She used what was left of her inheritance (which she reportedly squandered) to buy an airplane, flying herself to vaudeville performances. Learning how to play twenty different instruments, she was billed as a “one-woman band”. She was married and divorced at least three times. (Wikipedia lists three husbands, but her Find A Grave entry has her with a different surname from any of these.)

Ms. Hamon led a controversial life, but not nearly as controversial as that of her father, Jake L. Hamon Sr. (1873-1920). Hamon, who had made a fortune in oil, and who was married with two children, met Clara Belle Smith when he was 40 and she was 16. He started an affair with her, and then paid his nephew $10,000 to marry her and then go away, leaving him free to carry on with her; when his wife heard about the situation, she went to Chicago, taking their children with her. Ms. Smith, now Clara Hamon, eventually shot him after an argument; in her murder trial, she pleaded self-defense and was acquitted.

Hamon became attorney-general of Lawton, Oklahoma, in 1901, but was voted out in 1903 amid accusations of corruption. He was accused of attempting to bribe a U.S. senator in 1910, and he was influential in helping Warren Harding become President of the United States in 1920. He apparently was being considered for a cabinet post in the Harding administration before he was shot.

The Oklahoman has an in-depth article on Hamon’s life and death. (Edit: they just reorganized their website, and the link is now gone. Which is too bad – it was an entertaining article.)


9-year-old boy violinist

Here’s an ad from the March 2 1932 edition of the Toronto Daily Star for a nine-year-old boy who was about to play the violin at Massey Hall.

The boy’s name was actually Paul Lennard, and he was born in Brooklyn on October 16 1920, so he was 11, not 9, when he appeared at Massey Hall.

When Lennard started performing, he was given a Russian-sounding stage name because it was assumed that Russian artists would be taken more seriously. (He had a Russian music teacher and learned how to speak Russian, so he would have had as good a chance as any of pulling it off.) He performed throughout North America and then Europe in the 1930s.

Lennard went on to serve as an army photographer during the Second World War. After the war, he tried to resume his music career, but a train accident made it impossible for him to play. He became a businessman, owning and running a plastics business and branching into manufacturing scientific research equipment.

Lennard passed away on July 19 2020 at the age of 99. His obituary is here; there is also a web site that documents his life.


A vital message

Here’s another ad for a patent medicine offered by the Tamblyn drug store chain, this time from the March 2 1932 edition of the Toronto Daily Star.

A search for Nu-Erb turned up a Federal Trade Commission decision from 1936 in which a seller was forced to admit that it wasn’t anything other than a laxative and mild tonic.

While this advertiser may have stretched the truth about the wondrous healing properties of Nu-Erb, the testimonials for the product appear to be genuine. Or, at least, the people in the ads were real: the 1932 Toronto city directory lists Sehon Scott at 511 Ontario Street (Adelaide was presumably his wife) and Charles W. Deviney at 63 Annette Street. Mr. Scott worked as a train man on the Canadian National Railroad, and Mr. Deviney worked as a laborer at the Laidlaw Lumber Company. Three other Devineys are listed at 63 Annette Street, so it was a busy family!

Going forward: Mr. Deviney is listed in the 1937 directory, but not the 1942 one. Mr. Scott is listed as late as 1948, but is not in the 1949 directory. His wife, the Madame Adelaide Scott of the ad, also isn’t listed; either they moved somewhere or she predeceased him.


Visited her cousin

Here’s a picture from the photo page of the March 2 1932 edition of the Toronto Daily Star:

When Phyllis Fraser (1916-2006), born Helen Brown Nichols, arrived in Hollywood, one of the first things that her cousin Ginger Rogers gave her was her stage name. While Ms. Fraser never became a star, she appeared regularly in movies in the 1930s.

In 1939, she left movies for a career in advertising. In 1940, she married publisher Bennett Cerf, who later became a panelist on the TV show What’s My Line. After Mr. Cerf passed away, she married former New York mayor Robert F. Wagner Jr.; she eventually outlived him too.


Godfather to Hapsburg baby

Here’s one more photo from the September 8 1932 edition of the Toronto Daily Star, featuring a prince of Austria being held by the former king of Spain.

The infant in the photo was Archduke Stefan of Austria (1932-1998), a great-great-grandson of Queen Victoria. Born in Austria, he and his family moved to Romania in 1942. When his cousin, King Michael of Romania, was forced to abdicate in 1947, he lived in Switzerland, Argentina, and then finally in the United States, where he settled.

The archduke eventually became an American citizen and established a division of advanced research at General Motors in Detroit, which is probably not what he expected to be doing with his life when he was living as a prince in Austria.

King Alfonso XIII of Spain (1886-1941) became king at birth, his father having died before he was born. He was granted full powers of kingship in 1902, and abdicated in 1931 when the Second Republic was formed.


Princess seeks divorce

Here’s a photo from the September 8 1932 edition of the Toronto Daily Star:

Avril Joy Mullens (1909-1978) married two more times after divorcing His Serene Highness Prince George Imeretinsky (whom she married when she was 16). She married Brigadier General Hugh Nugent Leveson-Gower and then married Ernest Aldrich Simpson; the latter was the ex-husband of Wallis Simpson, who later became the Duchess of Windsor. Ms. Mullens passed away in Mexico after an automobile crash.

Despite all of this, Ms. Mullens was not the most notorious sibling in her family. Her older sister, Elvira Enid Barney (1904-1936), who used the stage name of Dolores Ashley, was dramatically acquitted of murdering her lover in 1932. Ms. Barney was later disowned by her family and was found dead in a hotel room in Paris on Christmas Day, 1936. The Steeple Times website provides a highly unflattering portrait of her.


Miss America 1932

The photo section of the September 8 1932 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contains this photograph of a young woman who had just been crowned Miss America.

The photo is reproduced as shown in the paper; clearly, Ms. Hann’s image was reversed, presumably because she appeared on the right-hand edge of the page and the editor wanted her legs to face inwards.

Dorothy Hann‘s title of Miss America for 1932 was apparently unofficial. No Miss America had been crowned since 1927, and the title was not officially revived until 1933. She appears to have led an uncontroversial life: she was widowed in 1982, and passed away in 1990 in her home town of Camden, New Jersey.


Quarrel forgotten

Here’s a publicity photo from the September 8 1932 edition of the Toronto Daily Star, featuring singer Rudy Vallée and his wife, who were now reconciled:

Vallée and his wife, Fay Webb, were not reconciled for long, as they separated in 1933. Vallée’s Wikipedia page states that, during the divorce proceedings, Ms. Webb claimed that “Vallée is possessed of a violent, vicious, and ungovernable temper, and given to the use of blasphemy and the use of intemperate, vile, and vituperative language.”

The two were divorced in 1936, and Ms. Webb passed away shortly afterwards from complications following stomach surgery. Vallée married two more times; his final marriage, to Eleanor Norris, lasted from 1949 until his death in 1986.


Lady bowlers hold tea

Here’s a bit of filler from the June 10 1932 edition of the Toronto Daily Star:


The problems of the world must have seemed so far away.

There is now an Etobicoke Lawn Bowling Club at the corner of Islington and Dundas in Toronto. Since this is the centre of what used to be the town of Islington, I’m assuming that this is the same club.