Saturday, April 16, 2016

Faith Bacon (Burlesque Dancer)

"I want a man -  a man to love! I want a husband, a home, a kitchen, and what goes with it." ~ Faith

Faith Bacon was born Francis Yvonne Bacon on July 19, 1910 in Los Angeles, California. She was an only child and her parents divorced when she was young. Faith dreamed of becoming a doctor but she decided to pursue a show business career instead. Although she had no formal dance training she moved to Paris and started dancing in burlesque shows. In 1928 she went to Broadway and starred in Earl Carroll's Vanities. Faith became famous doing a racy "fan dance" in which she appeared nude on stage covered only by ostrich feathers. She made headlines in 1930 when she was arrested for performing an "indecent show". Faith was given a starring role in The Ziegfeld Follies and she was one of the featured attractions at the 1933 World's Fair. Florenz Ziegfeld called her the "most beautiful woman in the world". When rival dancer Sally Rand starting doing her own fan dance Faith sued her claiming she had stolen the idea. Faith told reporters that her dream was to retire and start a family. She married songwriter Sanford H. Dickinson but the couple separated.

In 1936 Faith was seriously injured when she fell during a performance. She sued the owners of the show for $100,000 although she eventually settled the case for much less. Faith got a small part in the 1938 drama Prison Train. It would be her only film role. She was arrested in 1939 for disorderly conduct after staging a nude publicity stunt on Park Avenue. All the bad press hurt her reputation and by the time she was thirty her career was over. Faith would spend the next decade dancing in strip clubs and carnivals across the country. She also danced semi-nude in some short films. In June of 1948 she suffered a nervous breakdown after suing a carnival owner for unpaid wages. A few years later she was homeless and living on the streets of Seattle. She attempted suicide in 1954 by overdosing on sleeping pills. Faith decided to move to Chicago and tried to find work. She lived in a small hotel room with a friend. On September 26, 1956 Faith committed suicide by jumping out her third story window. She was only forty-six years old. Faith was buried at Wunder's Cemetery in Chicago, Illinois.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Anny Ahlers (German Actress)

 Anny Ahlers was born on December 21, 1907 in Hamburg Germany. At the age of four she began her career performing in the circus. When she was a teenager Anny studied ballet and singing. In 1928 she made her film debut in the German film Casanova. She had a beautiful voice and starred in successful operettas in Berlin and Vienna. Audiences loved her and she quickly became one of Europe's most popular stars. Anny landed leading roles in the films True Jacob and The Company's In Love. She went to London in 1932 to star in the musical The DuBarry. Although she did not speak English her singing won rave reviews. Critics called her "vivacious" and said she was destined for Hollywood stardom. She fell in love with the show's producer Stanley Scott but their romance didn't last.

During a performance in September of 1932 she had a nervous breakdown on stage. The show closed while she recovered at a seaside resort. Rumors began that she had developed an addiction to morphine and sleeping pills. She started dating Sir Merrik Burrell, a recently divorced millionaire. He gave her an emerald ring and commissioned a portrait of her from artist Philip Alexius de Laszlo. By the Spring of 1933 Anny was suffering from tuberculosis and had severe insomnia. On March 14, 1933 she died after falling from her second floor balcony. Anny broke her neck and was killed instantly. She was only twenty-five years old. Her maid told reporters that Anny was a sleepwalker and might have fallen. However the coroner ruled that her death was a suicide. She was cremated and her ashes were buried in Hamburg. Merrik was given a lock of her red hair which he kept for the rest of his life.

Anny Sings I Give My Heart

Friday, March 18, 2016

Let's Celebrate Easter

Celebrate Easter with some of our favorite classic beauties ...

 Jeanette Loff

 Alice White and Bernice Claire

 Colleen Moore

 Doris Dawson, Estelle Bradley, June Collyer, and Ethlyne Clair

Jane Winton

 Jean Parker

Monday, March 7, 2016

Eugenia Gilbert (1920s Starlet)

  "I like an honest-to-God business man - not a dancing sheik. It would be pleasant if he could remember that courtesy counts." ~ Eugenia

Eugenia Gilbert was born Eugenia Knapp on November 18, 1902 in East Orange, New Jersey. She attended high school in New York City and went to Mallborough College in Los Angeles. When her father became ill she quit school and got a job as a dancer. She made her acting debut in the 1920 short film Paul's Peril. Eugenia began entering beauty pageants and in 1923 she won the title of Miss Los Angeles. She became one of Mack Sennett's bathing beauties and he signed her to a long term film contract. Eugenia starred in dozens of comedies including A Rainy Night, Sinners In Silk, and A Broadway Butterfly (she was often credited as Eugenie Gilbert).

In 1927 she starred in the action serial The Crimson Flash. She was also Leo Mallory's leading lady in three Westerns. Eugenia was considered one of the most versatile starlets in Hollywood. In her spare time she liked to go to a cabin she bought in the mountains. Although she made more than sixty films she never became a major star. At the age of twenty-seven Eugenia decided to quit making movies. Her final film was the 1929 comedy Courtin' Wildcats. During the 1930s she worked as a model in fashion shows. She eventually got married and changed her last name to Enders. Eugenia spent her final years living in Santa Monica. She died from heart failure on December 8, 1978 and was cremated.

Eugenia (second from right) with Rudolph Valentino

Eugenia Gilbert and Ruth Hiatt

 With Charley Chase

Jeanette MacDonald's First Letter From Nelson Eddy

I recently bought a very rare handwritten letter Nelson Eddy sent to Jeanette MacDonald in November 1934. Nelson and Jeanette made eight musicals together and became known as "America's Singing Sweethearts". Off screen the couple had a passionate romance that lasted for decades. They kept their relationship a secret and it continued even after they were both married. This letter was written by Nelson a month before they started filming their first movie Naughty Marietta.

 Here is the text of the letter ...

Dear Miss McDonald, Thank you for the wire. It was terribly sweet of you and I appreciate it more than I can tell you. One day I hope to get up courage enough to tell you I think you're the grandest person in the world. Very gratefully yours, Nelson Eddy

This is my favorite Nelson and Jeanette duet ...

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Janet Gaynor's Oil Paintings

Although I'm not an art collector I do own two still life oil paintings done by Hollywood legend Janet Gaynor.  She appeared in more than sixty films and won the first Best Actress Academy Award in 1929. Janet retired from making movies and moved to a farm in Brazil. She started painting as a hobby after receiving some paint as a Christmas gift. Her gardens inspired her to paint colorful flowers and leafy vegetables. She said "I believe painting has to come from the heart and soul".

Janet never considered herself a professional artist until her friends convinced her to display her work. Her best friend Mary Martin was the first person to buy one of her paintings. During the 1970s Janet's paintings were displayed in galleries all over the country. Her exhibit at Findlay Galleries in Chicago completely sold out. Janet loved her new career as an artist and she spent up to six hours a day painting. She said she hoped her paintings "add a little brightness and cheer to a room just as a bouquet of fresh flowers would".

With Henry Fonda at an art exhibit

 With Lillian Gish at an art exhibit

I also have this autographed card from Janet in my collection

Monday, February 8, 2016

Martha Raye's Dress From Four Jills In A Jeep

In 2015 I purchased a dress Martha Raye wore in Four Jills In A Jeep. I bought it from actress Debbie Reynolds. It was designed by Yvonne Wood. Martha played herself in the Four Jills In A Jeep. Her costars were Carole Landis, Kay Francis, and Mitzi Mayfair.

Here is a clip of Martha wearing the dress ...