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Parting of the ways

The April 18 1934 Toronto Daily Star contained photographs of the Prince and Princess di Siriggnano, whose marriage fell apart after only five days.

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Google searches revealed that their surname was actually “di Sirignano”. The couple apparently got married within 24 hours of his arrival in America.

Unfortunately, the stories of both the Prince and Princess had a tragic ending. He died in a car accident five months later. She married again in 1934, and had three children, but fell to her death from a hotel balcony in New York in 1943.

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Loretta Poynton

The April 18 1934 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contained this photo of 20-year-old radio actress Loretta Poynton:

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Ms. Poynton went on to star in several radio series in the 1930s, including Dan Harding’s Wife. She apparently retired from radio in the 1940s, and she passed away in 1992.

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This, sir, is a broadcast!

The August 11 1934 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contained an ad for a radio broadcast in support of the Daily Star’s Fresh Air Fund.

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I did quick Google searches on the cast list, to see if any names turned up.

Comedians:

  • I found a Will J. White who was an actor, but he was born in 1925. I found no reference to a comedian of that name.
  • Albert “Red” Newman was a member of the Dumbells, a group of Canadian soldiers who entertained front-line troops in 1917 and 1918, and went on to success in vaudeville until 1932.

Girl Entertainers:

  • Ida Culley, whose stage name was Claudette Culley, was a pianist who accompanied famous performers such as George Formby and Kate Smith. She formed a team with her husband, Harry Culley (listed under Male Artists).
  • Muriel Donnellan was a harp player who migrated to Hollywood in 1941 and went on to play in studio orchestras in films.

Male Artists:

  • Billy Bissett and Alice Mann (listed under Girl Entertainers) turn up in a YouTube video here, from 1937. (A comment in this YouTube link mentions that they lived in California in the 1970s and 1980s, and were apparently quite wonderful people.) The music would probably be classified as smooth jazz today.
  • Rex Battle was a pianist and composer who played at the Mount Royal Hotel in Montreal from 1922 to 1929, and conducted the Royal York Hotel Concert Orchestra in Toronto from 1929 to 1938.
  • There is a Stanley Maxted who was a Canadian journalist and actor. His Wikipedia page mentions that he started out at the CBC, so that’s where he probably was in 1934.
  • Wishart Campbell was a baritone, songwriter, and pianist, known as “The Golden Voice of the Air”. He became the music director for CFRB from 1945-1960, and then “retired to private business” in the Hebrides.
  • Luigi Romanelli was a conductor and violinist who performed in 1922 in the first concert broadcast on the radio in Toronto.
  • Al Plunkett was another of the Dumbells.
  • An obituary for Harry Culley appeared in the Globe and Mail in 2009. Not sure if this is the same person, as the article mentioned that he started working in a band in 1937.
  • Gordon Sinclair was easily the most famous person in this list – he was a journalist and writer who later became famous as a panelist on Front Page Challenge.

Also:

  • Clint Buelhman was a broadcaster on Buffalo, N.Y., morning radio for nearly 50 years.
  • Here’s a picture of Roy Locksley’s Orchestra in the 1920s.
  • R. E. Knowles appears to have been a writer. Two books by someone of that name are listed here, and there is an article by him in the July 15 1935 edition of Maclean’s. I’m not sure if either of these are the same R.E. as the one in this ad; the Macleans article lists the author as R. E. Knowles, Jr., so the books are probably by Senior, and the article is by Junior. Or maybe not.
  • Denton Massey was a descendant of Hart Massey, who founded the Canadian agricultural manufacturing company. He broadcast religious programs on Toronto radio stations both before and after the Second World War, was a Conservative MP from 1935 to 1949, and later became a priest. A picture of him appears here; this caption also mentions Roy Locksley and Kathryn Young (in the Girl Entertainers list).

 

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She gets along

The August 11 1934 edition of the Toronto Daily Star was published in the depths of the Great Depression. So, understandably, articles on what rich people were doing were newsworthy.

Here’s a photograph of a nine-year-old girl whose expenses were either $3000 a month or $5000 a month, depending on whether you believe the caption or the body of the text:

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To me, it seems a little harsh to publicly shame a child for being extravagant. It wasn’t her fault that her mother spent lavishly on her behalf.

Lucy’s mother, Lucy Cotton (1895-1948), was an actress who married Edward Russell Thomas in 1924. Mr. Thomas, a financier and newspaper owner, had the unfortunate distinction of being the first American to kill someone in a car accident. When he passed away in 1926, his wife and her daughter (whose full name was Lucetta) inherited hisĀ  fortune. After his death, his widow was not lucky in love: she married four more times, the last of which was to Prince Vladimir Eristavi-Tchitcherine of Russia.

The daughter photographed here eventually decided to change her name to Mary Frances Thomas (and I can’t really say that I blame her). I couldn’t find any information about her after her name change.

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Mae Questel in person

The cartoon character Betty Boop appears to have been popular in the 1930s! In 1930, Toronto Star readers were invited to meet Helen Kane, the inspiration for Betty Boop. Four years later, in the August 11 1934 edition, readers now had the opportunity to meet Mae Questel, the voice of Betty Boop:

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Mae Questel (1908-1998), who was born Mae Kwestel, also provided the voice of Olive Oyl in the Popeye cartoons, and was the voice of Casper, the Friendly Ghost.

Sadly, she lost an audition for the role of Olive Oyl in a new series of Popeye cartoons in the 1970s, which seems cruel. She did, however, continue to be Betty and Olive elsewhere right up until her death.

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Miniature farm hobby

The August 11 1934 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contained this photograph of a British tennis champion who kept a miniature farm as a hobby.

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It’s pretty cool when someone wins a championship so often that they just let her keep the trophy. Though I’m not sure what you would do with it – display it proudly on the mantelpiece, I guess.

Joan Ridley (1903-1983) had her best result in 1931, when she was a finalist at Wimbledon in mixed doubles. She got married in 1935, and appears to have ended her tennis career at about that time.

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Corn roast

I think that I might have found the most obscure bit of trivia ever to be put in a newspaper. The August 11 1934 edition of the Toronto Daily Star reported on a company picnic:

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I strongly suspect that the employees of the Kelvinator Co. of Canada Ltd., Toronto branch, were extremely grateful to be employed in the depths of the Great Depression.

Kelvinator was a home appliance manufacturer named after Lord Kelvin, the scientist who determined the lowest possible temperature (absolute zero), which is approximately -273.15 degrees Celsius (or zero Kelvin). The brand name is now owned by Electrolux.

You might enjoy this Kelvinator commercial from 1957.

I’m not exactly sure where Lakeview Park was. It was probably in Oshawa, but it might have been in Mississauga.

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King Carol and Magda

The December 31 1934 edition of the Toronto Daily Star included this photo of King Carol of Rumania and his mistress, Magda Lupescu:

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I was curious: were they actually married at the time? Wikipedia says no: they didn’t finally marry until 1947, long after King Carol had given up his throne in 1940. (Giving up his throne was not a new thing for him: he had renounced the throne in 1925 as a result of the scandal surrounding his affair with Ms. Lupescu, only to be restored to it in 1930 when the National Peasant Party achieved power.)

Marie of Rumania, Carol’s mother, at least once appeared in the Toronto Daily Star as a newspaper columnist.

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Mayoral endorsement

The city of Toronto used to hold municipal elections every year on New Year’s Day. So the December 31 1934 edition of the Toronto Daily Star was the last edition before the 1935 election.

This edition of the Daily Star made it clear who the paper was endorsing for mayor: Jimmy Simpson. Here is a collection of pro-Simpson articles that appeared there that day.

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Mr. Simpson headed the list of the candidates that the Daily Star was endorsing for 1935:

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However, there was one ad in the paper for a rival mayoral candidate:

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There was a page full of ads from people seeking municipal office:

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And, finally, there was a burst of doggerel on the editorial page, advising people to vote for somebody:

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As it turned out, the Daily Star’s endorsement might have helped: Simpson won the race for mayor of Toronto in 1935 by nearly 4500 votes. The Daily Star turned on him the next year, though, when they discovered that he was anti-Catholic; he lost his bid for re-election in 1936.

In 1938, Simpson was killed when his car collided with a streetcar. In Toronto, his name lives on in the city’s east end, as a park and a recreation centre are named after him.

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1934 photo parade

Many of the Toronto Daily Stars from the 1930s reserved one page for all their photographs, since they were harder to reproduce than they are today.

The April 18 1934 edition of the Toronto Daily Star’s photo page included a picture of the Duchess of Northumberland and her daughters:

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There are Wikipedia pages for Helen Percy, the Duchess of Northumberland, and her daughter Elizabeth. They didn’t do anything really exciting to write about, but they looked a lot alike.

There was also a picture of Roberta Semple Smythe, the daughter of famous evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson:

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Ms. Smythe married her husband in 1931 when she was 21, and was divorced in 1934. She was removed as the heir to her mother’s church in 1937. In later life, she worked on and created radio and TV game shows. She passed away in 2007 at the age of 96.

And here is boxer King Levinsky leaping over his manager, his sister Lena:

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King Levinsky (1910-1991) fought most of the leading heavyweight contenders of the 1930s, but didn’t challenge for the title himself. At about the time of this photograph, he was briefly married to exotic dancer Roxana Sand; she asked for a divorce after only five weeks on the grounds of cruelty. His sister was noted for swearing like a sailor and rooting loudly for her brother during fights.