TWO PORTRAITS OF BEAUTIFUL STAGE ACTRESS ALICE CRAWFORD (VINTAGE REAL PHOTO POSTCARDS)

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alice crawford

These vintage real photo postcards feature a beautiful actress named Alice Crawford (1882-1931). Miss Crawford was born in Bendigo, Australia. Her sister, Ruby Crawford was also an actress. Miss Crawford came to England with actor Wilson Barret in 1902 after appearing with him in Australia. Her London debut was in 1902 in in the play “The Christian”.  She was in the revival of the play in 1907. Other stage credits include “Antony and Cleopatra (1906), Matt of Merrymount (1908), and “The Passing of the Third Floor, Back” (1908). The New York Times (1909) announced her arrival in New York to perform in “These Are My People”. She is credited with film roles in “False Ambition” (1918) and Glorious Adventure (1922). There are fifteen portraits of Alice Crawford in the National Portrait Gallery, eight of which are by the photographer of the top photo postcard (Alexander Bassano}. Bassano  (1829 –1913) was a leading royal and high society photographer in Victorian London. Crawford was married to George Valentine Williams. He was wounded twice in WW I and was awarded the Military Cross. He later worked as a journalist, mostly in trouble spots. During WW2 he conducted “confidential work” for the British Government. He is best known as an author of Detective Fiction. He died in 1946. This postcard captures Miss Crawford in costume for her role as “Diantha Frothingham” in “Matt of Merrymount” (1908). Alice Crawford certainly qualifies as a “stage beauty” and she has an amazingly engaging smile. Bassano photographed the actress for Rotary Photo’s, Rotary Photographic Series (no.1852 R).                                          

The second photo postcard features Miss Crawford looking quite beautiful. Her hair is long and flowing and she has a flower hair band. Her eyes are beautiful and she appears to be holding back a smile. Like the first postcard, this card is also published by Rotary Photo and was part of a series (no. 1852 K). In fact both postcards seen here are part of the same series.  The postcard’s photograph was taken by the Dover Street Studio.  The studio was active between circa 1906 and circa 1912. The gallery specialized in taking theatrical portraits and was located in London, England. They were the successors to the Biograph Studios as well Adart (a studio that took advertising photos). Examination of the reverse of this postcard (see second postcard below) reveals that it was postmarked in 1907. The message on the back of the postcard is quite interesting because it contains comments about the photo on the postcard. The writer reports that she was charmed by a postcard from the addressee and she asks her how she likes “this one”. The writer also states that she was planning to go see “The Thief” at the St. James Theater. Billboard (1907) contains a review of the musical and describes it as an English version of Henry Bernstein’s “Le Voleur”.  The play was produced by Mr George Alexander and it’s cast included Mr. Alexander, Irene Vanbrugh, and Lillian Braithwaite. 

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PORTRAIT OF A PRETTY AND SWEET TEENAGE GIRL IN AUBURN, NEW YORK

This cabinet card portrait features a sweet and attractive looking young woman posing for her portrait at the Ernsberger Fine Art Gallery in Auburn, New York. She appears to be in her teenage years and is well dressed and holding a fur muff. Note her stylish hat. An inscription on the reverse of the photograph indicates that it was taken in May, 1880. William H. Ernsberger was a popular Auburn photographer judging by the large number of photographs by him in the collection of early Auburn images held by the Cayuga Museum. He was born in nearby Trumansberg in 1844 and moved to Auburn in 1865. He operated a photo studio in Auburn for more than sixty years. He was known to have photographed abolitionist Harriet Tubman (1822-1913) in 1908. At one point, his son Fred joined him in business. Ernsberger died in 1941. His obituary appeared in the Dunkirk Evening Observer. The article states that he was “reputedly” the oldest active photographer in the nation. He was 97 years old at the time of his death.

PORTRAIT OF DR LULU HUNT PETERS (1923 PRESS PHOTO OF THE PIONEER DIET DOCTOR)

This press photo features Lulu Hunt Peters (1873-1930), an American doctor and diet expert. She began by writing a featured newspaper column entitled “Diet and Health”. Her column appeared in more than 400 newspapers around the United States. She then wrote a book entitled “Diet & Health: With Key to the Calories” (1918). Dr Peters was the first person to popularize counting calories as a method of weight loss. She educated her readers about the concept of calories and urged them to think of food in terms of calories.  In other words, women should say “I ate 100 calories of bread” and not say “I ate a slice of bread”. Peters also taught her readers how to calculate their ideal weight. Peters maintained a strict diet of 1200 calories a day. Her book was the first weight-loss book to become a best seller. It was among the top ten selling non fiction books from 1922 through 1926. In 1918 the book sold two million copies, and spread the word that “thin is in”. Amazingly, Peters nine year-old nephew was the books illustrator. Peters was born in Maine and moved to California. She received her MD in 1909 from the University of California (Berkeley). Dr. Peters was very aware of obesity having grown up with a weight problem when at one point, she reached 220 pounds. Interestingly, during World War I, Peters considered her diet solution to be a form of patriotism. She viewed dieting as absolute self control and suggested that women organize “Watch Your Weight Anti-Kaiser Classes” to reach their goal weights. In addition, Peters believed that dieting would make war rationing easier and leave left over rations for children. Dr. Peters also supported the suffragist movement. She believed women needed to take better care of their health, exercise, and become more self-sufficient. It is clear that there were some problems associated with Dr Peters weight loss philosophy. Coupled with the fashion industry of that era, the communicated message was that all women should strive to be thin. Dieting was equated with being beautiful and having self esteem. Peters also believed that people who lacked self control over their weight were exhibiting poor morals. She contended that to be thin, women must be strong enough to resist temptation which she described using concepts such as sin, punishment, and redemption. After publishing her book, Peters went to Bosnia where she worked with the Red Cross. Dr Peters book remains in circulation today. In many ways she deserves credit for being a pioneer in the weight loss industry. On the other hand, she also advocated a philosophy that creates shame for those that are overweight, and worse yet, spawns eating disorders.

 

Published in: on May 27, 2017 at 12:00 pm  Leave a Comment  
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ESTHER RALSTON: TALENTED FILM AND EARLY TELEVISION ACTRESS

This vintage real photo postcard features beautiful actress Esther Ralston (1902-1994). She was born in Bar Harbor, Maine and was active in acting between 1915 an 1962. Her career started while she was still a child. She appeared in a family vaudeville act called “The Ralston Family with Baby Esther, America’s Youngest Juliet”. By the time she was 18, she was appearing in silent films including “Huckleberry Finn” (1920) and “Peter Pan” (1924). In the late 1920’s she appeared in many films for Paramount Pictures. She was successful enough to earn as much as eight thousand dollars per week Although she received good reviews for dramatic roles, Ralston primarily appeared in comedies, often in the role of spirited society girls. Esther’s image was initially “wholesome and fun-loving”. Florenz Ziegfeld Jr repackaged her as “The American Venus” after she appeared in the role of a beauty queen in the film, “American Venus” (1926). Miss Ralston made a successful transition to sound pictures but by the mid 1930’s she was usually appearing in supporting roles. Her final starring role was in “To the Last Man (1933) and her final film was “Tin Pan Alley (1940). That same year she retired from film and focused on stage and radio through the 1940’s. With the advent of television, Ralston spent time appearing in this new medium. Esther Ralston was married three times and divorced three times. All of her husbands worked in the entertainment industry. The imdb lists Ralston as having 108 credits as an actress. She certainly made an impact in the entertainment world and this is reflected by the fact that she has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Esther Ralston’s obituary can be found at the web site of  “The Independent”. The obituary states that she was a “captivating blond beauty with an engaging sense of humor”. The article tells the story of Ralston’s reaction to co-starring with Clara Bow and Gary Cooper in “Children of Divorce” (1927) while Bow and Cooper were having an affair. In regard to Clara Bow, Ralston stated “I didn’t really dislike her, but she was pretty loose and I’d been brought up differently”. This photo postcard was pubished by Ross Verlag, a postcard publishing company based in Berlin, Germany. The postcard was produced for Paramount Pictures and is part of a series (No. 3393/1).

PORTRAIT OF A HANDSOME SOLDIER IN VIENNA, AUSTRIA

This cabinet card provides a portrait of a handsome uniformed Austro-Hungarian soldier. He is posing at the Rudolf Denk studio in Vienna, Austria. Note his high boots, sabre, and wrist watch. The soldier is wearing a couple of medals on his chest. His cap is on the table beside him. He is wearing a whistle which can be seen between his two breast pockets. The soldier is holding an open book. It is likely that this young man saw military action. World War I was not many years away from the time that he sat for this photograph.

Published in: on May 25, 2017 at 12:00 pm  Comments (1)  
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CARTES DE VISITE PORTRAIT OF A YOUNG GIRL IN GRONINGEN, NETHERLANDS

This carte de visite features a pretty young girl wearing a simple dress. She is posing in front of a window and alongside a chair in a studio setting. The photographer of this cdv image is the Bongenaar Gallery which was located in Groningen, Netherlands.

Published in: on May 24, 2017 at 12:00 pm  Comments (1)  
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PORTRAIT OF TWO VISITORS IN A CONVERTIBLE AT BALANCED ROCK, GARDEN OF THE GODS, COLORADO

This is one of those vintage real photo postcards that one stumbles upon and is compelled to learn more about. The postcard is a wonderful find. The photograph shows a young couple driving a 1920’s (?) car past “Balanced Rock” in the Garden of the Gods. The popular tourist location is located in Colorado Springs, Colorado. In 1859, two surveyors who were instrumental in setting up Colorado City, explored the area and one of them decided that it would be a great place for a “beer garden”.  The second surveyor responded to the suggestion stating it would be better to call it “Garden of the Gods” because it was “a fit place for the Gods to assemble”. Many Native American tribes are connected to this area including the Apache, Cheyenne, Comanche, Utes, and Pawnee people. The Garden of the Gods became a National Natural Landmark in 1971. This postcard does an excellent job of providing a portrait of the “Balanced Rock”. The natural geological formation is put in even better perspective by photographing an open car in front of it’s precarious pose. The viewer holds their breath hoping that the auto and it’s two occupants pass by safely. Note that there is a pennant hanging on the side of the car. Printed on the pennant is “Kansas City”, which is likely the home of the lovely couple in the convertible. This postcard was produced by the Paul Goerke studio in Manitou, Colorado. It is printed on Artura paper and was produced between 1908 and 1924 (presumably sometime toward the end of this span). The story of photographer Paul Goerke is quite interesting. In the 1890’s, Goerke purchased the land around Balanced Rock. Goerke and his son, Curt, took photographs of tourists by the rock and sold them for 25 cents apiece. At the beginning of Goerke’s business there was no charge to view Balanced Rock. They made their money by charging for the portraits. Among the props supplied by Goerke, were burros. As personal cameras became readily available, Goerke needed to change his business concept. Curt Goerke built a wooden fence around Balanced Rock and began charging 25 cents admission. He also operated a lunch counter adjacent to nearby “Steamboat Rock” and created picnic areas for the thousand of visitors who came each summer. In 1932 the city of Colorado Springs purchased The Goerke property and tore down the fence.

 

Modern Photo Postcard of Balanced Rock

 

Published in: on May 23, 2017 at 6:14 pm  Leave a Comment  
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PORTRAIT OF A SPUNKY BRIDE AND HER GROOM IN CHICAGO, ILLINOIS

 

Wedding photos are not an unusual find in the hunt for vintage photographs. This particular photograph is a bit special. It caught my eye because of the terrific expressions on the faces of the bride and groom, particularly the bride. The bride’s expression is priceless. I interpret her expression in two ways. First, she seems to be quite spunky. She has “personality galore”. Second, she shows a look of satisfaction, as if she is thinking “I finally snared the man I wanted to marry”. The groom also has a flair for the dramatic. He appears scared and uncomfortable. One of his legs is lifted off the floor in an awkward position (flamingo style). Is he using his knee as a platform for the bouquet of flowers that his bride is holding? I am truly uncertain as to the reason he is posed in this manner. Despite the groom’s weird “yoga pose”, I think the photographer did a great job composing this wedding portrait. I admire his ability to capture the vivid facial expressions of this young couple. The photograph was produced by the Pulaski Photo Art Company of Chicago, Illinois. The President/Manager of Pulaski was Max Prusinski (1883-?) and the Secretary of the company was John Prusinski. Interestingly, this studio produced another wedding portrait which can be found in “The Cabinet Card Gallery”. The image can be seen below. At the time I posted this photograph, I noted what an excellent job the photographer did in capturing the bride’s personality. In my description of the image I wrote “She is exhibiting a playful smile and appears to be a vivacious young woman”. The bride in the image below also appears to be quite spunky. It is likely (based on a small sample of two photos) that the photographer (s) from the Pulaski studio strived to spice up wedding portraits by capturing the personalities of the wedding couple.

 

Published in: on May 20, 2017 at 12:00 pm  Comments (2)  
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PRISCILLA DEAN: TALENTED SILENT FILM ACTRESS AND LESS TALENTED “TALKIE” ACTRESS

Priscilla Dean (1896-1987) was a popular American actress who appeared in both silent films and theatre productions. Her career spanned two decades. She was born in New York to a theatrical family. Her mother and father were actors. She attended a convent school until she was fourteen and than launched her film career. Priscilla made her stage debut at the ripe old age of four and, as previously stated, her film debut at fourteen in films produced by Biograph and several other studios. She was signed to a contract by Universal (IMP) in 1911 and soon gained popularity as the female lead in the comedy series of Eddie Lyons and Lee Moran. She reached stardom after appearing in “The Gray Ghost” (1917). The advent of sound to the film industry impaired Dean’s career. She was relegated to low-budget films for minor independent studio during the 1930’s and her career fizzled out. Priscilla Dean has been called “an unlikely Diva”. She was described as being a plain woman, but cheerful. She is said to have had heavy features, a crooked smile, and an “unfashionably curvaceous figure”. However, her intensity on screen was considered “unmatched”. Dean was married to actor Wheeler Oakman (1890-1949) who was also under contract at Universal. The couple appeared together in “The Virgin of Stamboul”  (1920)and “Outside the Law” (1920). The pair divorced in the mid 1920’s and a few years later she married Leslie Arnold, a famous aviator. Dean died at the age of 91. Perusal of Miss Dean’s filmography reveals that she has 95 credits as an actress between 1912 and 1932. To view Miss Dean in the talkie film “Behind Stone Walls” (1932), click the You Tube link below. Keep in mind that she was considered a significantly better silent film actress than a “talkie” actress. This postcard was published  by Ross Verlag of Berlin, Germany. It was part of a series (No. 547/2) and was produced for Universal Studios. It was published sometime between 119 and 1924. The photographer of this portrait was Roman Freulich (1924-1974). Freulich was born in Poland and immigrated to the United States at the age of 14. He learned his trade from New York photographer Samuel Lumiere. He moved to Hollywood in the mid 1920’s where his brother Jack was a portrait photographer at Universal Pictures. Roman became a still photographer for Universal and produced many portraits of their major stars. He stayed at Universal until 1944 when he moved to Republic Studios. After Republic stopped production, Freulich did much work for United Artists.

 

TWO COOL DANDIES HAVING SOME COOL BEERS

This vintage real photo postcard features two young men seated at a table having some beers. These guys seem relaxed and quite self assured. They are clearly not intimidated by the camera. The men are well dressed, one more formally than the other. They are wearing great looking hats. Take note of the urn under the table. I wonder if it has some meaning in this photograph or if it was just an available prop. It certainly looks out of place. The photographer, the studio, and the subjects are all unidentified.

 

 

 

Published in: on May 18, 2017 at 12:00 pm  Comments (2)