The It girl in London

Here’s the second of three photos from the January 3 1933 edition of the Toronto Daily Star that feature an actress or performer with thin lines for eyebrows. This one is of actress Clara Bow with her husband.

Clara Bow (1905-1965) was generally considered the most famous film star of the late 1920s, receiving 45,000 fan letters in the month of January 1929 alone. She rose to fame in 1927 when she starred in the movie It, which was an adaptation of a novella by British author Elinor Glyn. As a result, she was given the nickname “the ‘It’ girl”. (Ms. Glyn has previously appeared in this blog here.)

Unlike many celebrity marriages, the union of Ms. Bow and Rex Bell lasted, but unfortunately this did not ensure that she led a happy life. She developed mental health problems in the 1940s, became socially withdrawn, and attempted suicide in 1944. In the late 1940s, she was treated with electroshock therapy, and she spent the last years of her life alone in a bungalow.

Rex Bell (1903-1962) acted in films, mostly Westerns, between 1928 and 1936, with occasional parts after that. He later entered politics in Nevada, where he and Ms. Bow owned a ranch. He ran for the House of Representatives in 1944 and lost, but became the Lieutenant-Governor of Nevada in 1954. He remained in this office until he died of a heart attack.


A doggy game of tennis

One thing I noticed when I looked at photos of actresses and female singers in the January 3 1933 edition of the Toronto Daily Star was that the fashion at the time was for women’s eyebrows to be drawn or trimmed to be thin lines, which looks very unusual today.

The next three blog posts will feature photos of women with this look. The first is this photo of actress Fay Marbe with a tennis racket and a dog:

Fay Marbe (1899-1986) appeared in movies between 1920 and 1930 as well as appearing on the stage. By about the time of this photograph, she had retired from performing. Nothing exceptionally exciting appears to have happened to her during the rest of her life.

British Pathé has a film clip of her, in which she claims that she has insured various parts of her body for significant sums of money, including her legs for one million dollars.


In the swim of things

The photo page of the January 3 1933 edition of the Toronto Daily Star turned out to be a good source of material. Here’s a photo from that page of a family of swimmers from Milwaukee:

I did searches for Ruth Dierolf and Edward Dierolf and didn’t find anything, which suggests that the junior Dierolfs did not go on to noteworthy swimming careers.

I did find that an Edward D. Dierolf wrote a book in 1915 titled Swimming: Be Your Own Instructor. I strongly suspect that this was the man shown here as Pa Dierolf, but I have no way of knowing for certain. The Amazon link for the book contains the following excerpt from it:

Right here lies the starting point for them to gain that wonderful confidence, which in later years will prove that the child is as safe in the water as it is on land. Usually the mother becomes frightened and does not know what to do. She takes the babe out of the bath, pats it on the back and some times even tries to shake the little body, hoping that by so doing the water will come out of the nostrils.

I’m confused. Is the mother dunking her child into the bathtub?


Only a junior

Here’s a picture of a young billiards expert from the photo page of the January 3 1933 edition of the Toronto Daily Star:

I did a search for Art Judice, and found:

  • Information on business filings for Art Judice Family Billiards, which, presumably, he founded;
  • An article on pocket billiards in the January-February 1967 edition of DuPont magazine in which he is quoted;
  • His obituary, which stated that he passed away in 2012 at the age of 95.


Wedding bells and Christmas bells

Here’s a photograph from the December 26 1933 edition of the Toronto Daily Star of a film star who got married on Christmas Day.

Ricardo Cortez (1900-1977) had a Latin name and good looks similar to those of famous Latin screen stars such as Rudolph Valentino, but he was actually Jewish – he was born Jacob Krantz in New York City, and took his stage name to (quite understandably) make himself more bankable. When rumours of his true origin began to circulate, the studios tried to claim that he was French, and then that he was from Vienna.

When sound was added to movies, Mr. Cortez’s career was revitalized, as his New York accent made him the perfect bad guy. He appeared in over 100 movies, and also directed some low-budget pictures between 1938 and 1940. He retired from the film business in the 1950s and became a stockbroker.

Mr. Cortez was a widower when he married Christine Conniff Lee; his first marriage, to actress Alma Rubens, ended in 1931 when she passed away from pneumonia. His marriage to Ms. Lee didn’t last; they divorced in 1940.


To be broken in ’35

Here’s an article from the December 26 1933 edition of the Toronto Daily Star that describes a prediction that turned out to be extremely incorrect.

Blanche de Paunac was known as La Mysterieuse, and had been performing for at least twenty years. This photo of her apparently dates to 1912, and a French magazine from 1935 lists her as appearing at 51 Rue Geoffrey-Saint-Hilaire between 2 and 6 pm every day (the reference is at the top left of page 10 of the PDF). I couldn’t find out anything else about her.

Her oracular powers, arising from her self-induced hypnotic sleep, also got it wrong about King Alfonso XIII – he never regained the Spanish throne.


Sunny Side Up

Here’s a movie ad from the December 1 1933 edition of the Toronto Daily Star that caught my attention:

Naturally, I was curious: did Janet Gaynor and Charles Farrell actually make another picture together after December 1933? Technically, yes: Change of Heart, the last film in which they co-starred, was released in May 1934. But it could have finished filming by the time this ad came out, and they might have decided never to work together again.

Sunny Side Up was originally released in 1929. It was produced before the adoption of the Motion Picture Production Code censorship guidelines of 1934, so it was able to include “scantily clad and gyrating island women enticing bananas on trees to abruptly grow and stiffen, with the graphic metaphor lost on no one”. Cowabunga! Critical reviews described the film as tolerable or engaging despite its sugary sentimentality. The complete movie is available on YouTube here (called Sunnyside Up in this edition); the dance sequence with the gyrating island women is at about the 1 hour and 18 minute mark.

Janet Gaynor (1906-1984) had a secret relationship with her co-star Farrell while they were filming together, and was married three times. In later life, she was an acclaimed painter of still-life portraits of vegetables and flowers. She was seriously injured in 1982 when the taxicab she was riding in was hit by a drunk driver who ran a red light; she eventually passed away from the injuries she sustained in the accident.

Charles Farrell (1900-1988) eventually settled in Palm Springs, California, and became its mayor from 1947 to 1955. While serving as mayor, he revived his acting career by starring in the TV series My Little Margie from 1952 to 1955. He married former actress Virginia Valli in 1931, and they stayed married until she passed away in 1968.


Veteran vanishes

Here’s an article from the December 1 1933 edition of the Toronto Daily Star about a World War I veteran who had gone missing.

I looked up Matthew Wilson in the Toronto city directories, and I am happy to report that he was found. He is listed in the 1933, 1934, 1935, and 1938 directories working as a painter and interior decorator and living at 106 Amelia Street.

106 Amelia Street still stands – it’s in Cabbagetown.


Tell ’em I’m busy

By 1933, articles and photos about Adolf Hitler were starting to appear in Toronto newspapers. Here’s a photo of the Nazi dictator from the December 1 1933 edition of the Toronto Daily Star:

Franz Seldte (1882-1947) lost his left arm in World War I. After the war, he founded Der Stahlhelm, an organization of ex-servicemen that was opposed to the Treaty of Versailles and German war reparations. The organization became increasingly anti-democratic during the time of the Weimar Republic.

In 1933, when Hitler was appointed Chancellor of Germany, Seldte was given the post of Minister of Labor. He remained in this post through the war and even after Hitler’s suicide, though he was marginalized by other Nazis.

When captured, Seldte claimed that he had stood against Hitler’s dictatorship and advocated a two-chamber system of parliamentary governance. He was not believed. He passed away at a U.S. military hospital in 1947 before he could be put on trial at Nuremberg.


Johnny Copp

The December 1 1933 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contained this photograph of a young man who had been shot by a burglar.

The caption stated that young Mr. Copp had a fighting chance of recovery, but unfortunately he did not survive. Three days later, the Daily Star reported that a $5000 reward had been offered for information on his killer:

Very little was known about the killer – which is why the reward was so high – but the police believed that he spoke “with a distinct foreign accent”:

On December 6, the Daily Star reported his funeral:

According to the Daily Star, Mr. Copp’s death led to a crime wave in the city. Here’s the start of an article from the December 20 edition:

And his death was sufficiently well remembered that another criminal invoked his name as a threat over two months later, as reported in the February 23 1934 edition of the paper:

Despite the reward, the murderer of Johnny Copp was never found. He is buried in Mount Pleasant Cemetery; Mike Filey, a long-time writer of Toronto history, wrote up his story on the cemetery’s web site. Mr. Copp was a rugby star and medical student at the University of Toronto, and the university still awards a trophy and a scholarship in his name.