Charles and Alfred

The November 14 1957 edition of the Toronto Daily Star included this portrait of Prince Charles on his ninth birthday:


When this photograph first appeared, several readers of Mad magazine noticed that the Prince’s features resembled those of Alfred E. Neuman, the Mad mascot. When this resemblance was mentioned in Mad’s letters to the editor, apparently the Prince himself wrote in to dispute this: “Dear Sirs No it isn’t a bit – not the least little bit like me. So jolly well stow it! See!”

Actually, I think this picture does look a bit like Alfred E. Neuman, but not that much. But you decide!


Titled smith marries actress

The April 17 1928 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contained this brief notice about a British aristocrat who had married a young actress:


Hermione Baddeley (1906-1986) went on to have a distinguished career in movies and television. Among other roles, she played Mrs. Cratchit in the 1951 version of A Christmas Carol, and a housekeeper in the TV series Maude. She was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in Room At The Top (1959), despite her part lasting only 2 minutes and 32 seconds.

The article on the marriage of David Tennant (misspelled in the article) and Ms. Baddeley doesn’t mention that she was an hour late for the wedding, having misremembered the time of the ceremony. This might have been foreshadowing: the couple divorced in 1937, but apparently remained good friends.



The entertainment section of the July 23 1963 Toronto Daily Star contained this article about four young British actresses:


I’m not sure when newspapers and magazines stopped using the term “starlet”, but I don’t think I miss it.

As for the people mentioned in the story, all had successful careers, and almost all were actually older than this article claimed that they were. I have no idea whether the article writer or the actresses’ publicists decided to adjust their ages; I guess that was standard practice then (and maybe now).

  • Samantha Eggar (who was actually 24 when this story came out) became famous in 1965 when she starred in The Collector. Her performance earned her a Golden Globe and an Academy Award nomination. She relocated to the United States in 1972, and has remained a working actor, with a variety of film, TV, and stage credits. She turned 80 last month.
  • Susan Hampshire was actually 26, not 23. She went on to win three Emmy Awards in the early 1970s. Sadly, she gave up almost all of her acting roles after 2009 to take care of her husband, who had developed dementia and type 2 diabetes. She turns 82 in May.
  • Susannah York (1939-2011) did not have her age mentioned in the article. She was nominated for Best Supporting Actress for the movie They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? She also won a Cannes Film Festival Award for Best Actress for the movie Images. She was a trouper to the end: after being diagnosed with cancer, she refused chemotherapy to honour a contractual obligation.
  • Julie Christie was actually 23, not 21. She has won an Academy Award, a Golden Globe, a BAFTA award, and a Screen Actors Guild Award. Her last significant role was in 2012, and she turned 78 last week.

Arlene Francis

The July 23 1963 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contained an article about game show panelist Arlene Francis, who was being sued for a million dollars after getting into a car accident that caused the death of a passenger in the other car:


According to the Useless Information web site, the accident happened on a rainy day: the car in front of her skidded, she slammed on her car’s brakes, and her car skidded, crossed the divider, and collided with Mr. Arcos’s car. The case went to trial, and was settled for $210,000, not $1 million (or $1.8 million, as the article states).

Astonishingly, this was not the only fatal accident inadvertently caused by Ms. Francis around that time. On June 23, 1960, a dumbbell fell out of Ms. Francis’s apartment on the eighth floor of the Ritz Tower in Manhattan and struck Alvin Rodecker, killing him instantly. The dumbbell had been used to prop a screen in place; when a maid cleaned the screen, the dumbbell fell out of the window. Mr. Rodecker’s widow sued for $500,000, and settled for $175,000.

Ms. Francis passed away in 2001, at the age of 93.



Daughter is born

The April 21 1926 edition of the Toronto Globe contained an announcement of a daughter born to the Duke and Duchess of York:


The article does not mention the name of the child – though, since she had been born that very day, perhaps her name had not been decided.

At the time, this announcement might not have seemed that important. The Duke of York was second in line to the throne, and the eldest son, commonly known as David, was young enough to marry and produce heirs. But, as it turned out, David became King Edward VIII and abdicated his throne in 1936. The Duke of York became King George VI, and the unnamed daughter eventually became Queen Elizabeth II.


Academy of Radio Arts

The October 5 1950 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contained this advertisement for careers in radio:


Lorne Greene started his career as a CBC radio announcer before becoming a U.S.-based television actor. He was called “The Voice Of Doom” because of his stern-sounding baritone and because he was given the unfortunate job of reading the names of Second World War dead.

Something I didn’t know: he invented a stopwatch that counted down to zero, which enabled announcers to quickly see how much time they had left to speak.

In the 1950 Toronto city directory, the Academy Of Radio Arts is listed with “Lorne Green” as its president. (His name at birth was Lyon Himan Green, which may or may not explain this.) The academy appears in the 1952 city directory but not the 1953 directory; this might be when Mr. Greene left Canada in search of fame and fortune in the U.S.


Barbara La Marr

The February 10 1926 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contained this article about a movie being shelved because its star had passed away:


Barbara La Marr (1896-1926) was both an actress and screenwriter, starring in 27 films. She was dubbed “The Girl That Is Too Beautiful”. Perhaps she was too beautiful: she enjoyed the nightlife so much that she apparently only slept two hours a night. Not surprisingly, this put a strain on her health, and she died of tuberculosis and nephritis. Over 3000 fans attended her funeral.

Unless there is a last film that Wikipedia doesn’t know about, her last film, The Girl From Montmartre, was in fact distributed the day after she died. It was a critical success. The actress Hedy Lamarr was named after her (Louis B. Mayer’s wife apparently admired La Marr, causing Mayer to suggest this as a stage name).

Other silent film stars mentioned in this article:

  • John Bunny (1863-1915) was a stage and vaudeville actor who moved into movies in 1910. He was widely praised for his acting skills. He passed away from what was then known as Bright’s disease.
  • Mr. and Mrs. Sydney Drew were an American stage and comedy team. There were actually two Mrs. Drews – the first died in 1914, and Mr. Drew married and continued the act with his second wife. His son died in action in World War I, and apparently he never recovered from the loss. He died suddenly in 1919.
  • Wallace Reid (1891-1923) was called “the screen’s most perfect lover”. He was prescribed morphine to keep on filming after being injured in a train wreck, and became hopelessly addicted. He died in a sanitarium while trying to recover.
  • Harold Lockwood (1887-1918) was a vaudeville actor who moved into silent films. He died during the 1918 influenza epidemic.
  • Olive Thomas (1894-1920) had the most horrible death of them all: she died after accidentally consuming a bottle of mercury bichloride, thinking it was water or sleeping pills. She was married to Mary Pickford’s brother, Jack.

Nowadays, I don’t think anybody would suggest that premature death would be box-office poison – it would be exactly the opposite.


Drab, lifeless piece

The July 29 1959 edition of the Toronto Daily Star featured this less than favourable review of the film The Hangman:


This review and this movie are only interesting because they featured Tina Louise, who went on to fame as Ginger in Gilligan’s Island. She is now 84, and is one of two cast members of that show who is still alive (the other is Dawn Wells, who played Marianne).

Wikipedia has a brief entry for The Hangman. Rotten Tomatoes doesn’t have enough critical reviews to give it a rating.

I could find nothing on Ron Johnson, the theatre critic that panned this movie and Ms. Louise. It doesn’t help that he has such a common name.


Famous murders of 1922 #2

The February 9 1922 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contained an article related to another famous murder, that of Toronto theatre impresario Ambrose Small.


Small disappeared in 1919, and was never found. He was officially declared dead in 1924, and the case was closed in 1960.


Famous murders of 1922 #1

The February 9 1922 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contained front-cover photographs of people who might have known details of the murder of Hollywood film director William Desmond Taylor.


Taylor’s murder was never solved. Details on the people in the photographs above:

  • Mary Miles Minter (1902-1984) was an actress who appeared in 54 silent-era motion pictures. She was widely rumoured to have been romantically involved with Taylor (who was 29 years her senior).
  • Claire Windsor (1892-1972) was another silent film star. She has previously appeared in this blog here.
  • Mabel Normand (1892-1930) was a silent-film actress, writer, director, and producer, often working with Mack Sennett. She died of tuberculosis.
  • Edna Purviance (1895-1958) appeared in over 30 films with Charlie Chaplin.
  • Neva Gerber (1894-1974) was a silent film actress who appeared in over 120 films between 1912 and 1930. She was engaged to Taylor at one time.