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).

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.

 

HENNY PORTEN: MAJOR GERMAN FILM ACTRESS WITH ADMIRABLE PRINCIPLES (RESISTED THE NAZI GOVERNMENT)

 

Henny Porten (1890-1960) is the subject of this real photo postcard. Porten was a German actress and film producer of the silent era. She was Germany’s first major film star and appeared in more than 170 films produced between 1906 and 1955. Along with Asta Nielsen and Pola Negri, she was one of the three most popular German actresses. Her father was a film director and her sister was an actress/screenwriter. She began her film career without any stage experience which was an unusual phenomenon for German actresses. Porten was not well known outside of Germany. A large number of her early films were directed by her husband, Curt Stark. Stark died during World War I (1916) while serving on the Eastern Front. In 1921 she remarried a Jewish man named Wilhelm von Kaufmann. When the Nazis took power, she received much pressure to divorce her husband. She refused to comply and her career plummeted. She was denied a visa to emigrate. Her career blossomed again after World War II. The photograph of Miss Porten seen on this postcard is by the Becker & Maass studio of Berlin, Germany. The photographers were well known for portrait and fashion photography in the first decades of the twentieth century. They photographed dozens of German film stars for magazines and postcards. You can view more of this studios photographs by clicking on the category “Photographer: Becker & Maass”.  The postcard is published by Rotophot which began publishing “RPH” postcards in 1916. There were three different series: Buhnen-Sterne (stage star), Film Sterne (film star), and Film Sterne (displayed scenes). This postcard is from the Film Sterne series and was no. 216/3. The film star series ran from number 61 through number 224. The front of the Film Sterne cards included the name of the film studio represented. This card advertises Messter-Films of Berlin. These postcards were continued by the Ross Verlag company who’s origins can be traced back to the earlier Rotophot postcard company. The You Tube clip below presents Henny Porten in some scenes from “24 Hours from the Life of a Woman” (1931).

 

PORTRAIT OF AN UNIDENTIFIED BEAUTIFUL FASHIONISTA (ADDENDUM: IDENTIFIED AS ACTRESS MAY FORTESCUE)

fashionista

This cabinet card portrait features a pretty fashionista photographed by an unknown studio. Perhaps this young lady is a theater actress. This image is consistent with the work of Napoleon Sarony, Jose Mora, and other New York City celebrity photographers. The photograph presents a profile view of this attractive woman. ADDENDUM: Someone has identified the woman in this photograph as actress May Fortescue. See the images below of Miss Fortescue and see if you agree with the identification. I definitely agree. May Fortescue (1859-1950) was an actress, singer and actor/manager during the Victorian era. She was a protegee of playwright W. S. Gilbert. At age 22 she was a member of the D’Oyly Carte Opera Company for two years. She left the stage after becoming engaged to an English “Lord”. Friends talked her fiancee out of marrying the actress and he broke off the engagement. Fortescue sued him for “breach of promise” and was awarded ten thousand pounds. After her break-up, she returned to the stage and appeared in many leading roles. She acted until 1926.

fashionista-1

fortescue_may_4-2                    fortescue_may_6-3-2

Published in: on May 9, 2017 at 8:02 am  Leave a Comment  
Tags: ,

PORTRAIT OF LILY ELSIE: BEAUTIFUL AND TALENTED STAGE ACTRESS (VINTAGE RPPC)

ian 1

elsie-two

elsie 3

This vintage real photo postcard features celebrated stage actress Miss Lily Elsie (1886-1962). At the time of her portrait sitting for this image, Miss Elsie was also known as “Mrs. Ian Bullugh”. More about that later. Lily Elsie was a very popular English actress and singer. She was most known for her starring role in the London production of “The Merry Widow (1907)”. The show ran for 778 performances. A critic for The Pelican (1907) wrote that “the youthfulness, the dainty charm and grace, the prettiness and the exquisite dancing with which Miss Elsie invests the part…. I share the opinion of most of the first-nighters, who considered it could not have been in better hands, and could not have been better handled…. The night was a genuine triumph for Miss Elsie, and she well deserved all the calls she received”. She began as a child actress and before her big break had appeared in a number of Edwardian musical comedies. She was charming and beautiful and became one of the most photographed actresses of her time. Lily Elsie’s dad was a theater worker and her aunt was well known actress Ada Reeve. Shortly after the turn of the century she joined George Edwardes’ company at the Daly Theater. Some of her early appearances included “A Chinese Honeymoon”, “Lady Madcap”, “The Little Michus (1905)”. In the years between 1900 and 1906 she appeared in 14 shows. After the “Merry Widow” she appeared in  26 more shows including “The Dollar Princess” (1909) and “A Waltz Dream” (1911). She clearly was an actress who was in demand. Men paid her much attention but apparently she did not enjoy the attention. Lucile, her costume designer for “The Merry Widow” stated that Elsie was “absolutely indifferent to men and had once said that she disliked “the male character”. She added that men would only behave well if a woman “treated them coldly”. Now, some words about her marriage. In 1911 she he left the cast of a play in which she was performing to marry Major John Ian Bullough (1885–1936). Major Bullough was the son of a wealthy textile manufacturer. He was formerly married to actress Maude Darrell who only survived one year after their 1909 marriage. The marriage between Elsie and Bullough was reported to be very unhappy. Elsie’s health began to deteriorate and her husband pressured her to quit the stage and she was ready to do so. She returned to the stage during the war years (World War I) and was active in fund raising for the war effort. She next took a ten year break from the stage only to return once again. Her final performance took place in the Daly Theater in the play “The Truth Game” (1929). In addition to her theater career, Elsie made recordings, and appeared in two films, including D. W. Griffith’s “The Great Love” (1918). Also appearing in that film was Lillian Gish. In 1930 Elsie’s marriage ended in divorce. Her health began to deteriorate more and she developed hypochondriasis causing her to spend much time in nursing homes and sanitariums. Due to her psychological problems she had brain surgery. Her final years were spent at St. Andrews hospital in London. This postcard is part of a series (Arcadian no. A 26). The photographer of this image of this beautiful actress is the well known celebrity photographer, Rita Martin. She was considered one of the best British photographers of her time. She opened her studio in 1906. Martin’s sister, Lallie Charles was an esteemed society photographer. Many of Rita’s photographs can be found in the National Portrait Gallery. To view more photographs by Rita Martin in the cabinet card gallery, click on the category “Photographer: Martin”.

The second postcard of Miss Elsie provides a terrific close-up photograph of the beautiful Miss Elsie. She is wearing a dark jacket, a frilly high collared blouse and a ribbon bow tie. Her accessories include a long necklace, a pin low on her blouse, and a corsage. The postcard is part of the Rotary Photographic Series (no. 4159 J) published by Rotary Photo. The photograph was taken by the Foulsham & Banfield Studio. Foulsham & Banfield were well known celebrity photographers. Frank Foulsham and A. C. Banfield operated a studio in the 1900’s through the 1920’s.

The third postcard features Lily Elsie clutching a bouquet of flowers and glancing sideways at the photographer. She looks absolutely beautiful. She is wearing a fancy beaded dress and a bracelet. She stands in front of a window. This photograph, like the second postcard’s photo, was taken by the Foulsham & Banfield studio. The portrait postcard was published by Rotary Photo and is part of a series (11840 F). The postcard was printed in Britain.

                                              

                                                       Wedding Photo (1911)

ian 2

POSTCARD 1

elsie-two-1

POSTCARD 2

elsie 3 1

POSTCARD 3

 

                

MISS VIOLET ESSEX: A FORGOTTEN OPERA STAR

 The pretty subject of this vintage real photo postcard is actress and opera singer, Violet Essex (1893-1941). The English born Miss Essex appears in a web site entitled “Forgotten Opera Singers” which is written by Ashot Arakelyan. Essex sang during World War I when there was a demand for “lighter music”. Essex, a soprano, fulfilled that need. She recorded under her own name as well as under “Vera Desmond”. Miss Essex was known for her performances in Gilbert and Sullivan’s operas. She starred in the comic opera “Chu Chin Chow” during its five and a half year run in London. She was married to Charles Tucker, an English theatrical producer. She died just six months after moving with her family to Beverly Hills, California. This postcard portrait shows Miss Essex as Emmeline in the Edwardian musical comedy “The Sunshine Girl”. The show was first produced by George Edwardes at London’s Gaiety Theatre. The musical opened in 1912 and ran for 336 performances. The show introduced the tango to British audiences. Violet  Essex was in the original cast. The play also had a Broadway run in 1913 at the Knickerbocker Theatre. The photographer who took this photograph of Miss Essex is Alexander Bassano (1829-1913). He was a leading royal and high society London photographer and more of his images can be seen by clicking on Cabinet Card Gallery’s category “Photographer: Bassano”. This postcard was produced around 1912 and is part of a series (41243 8). To hear a recorded performance (Dear Heart) by Violet Essex, click on the link below. 

 

 

 

Published in: on April 14, 2017 at 6:50 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , ,

TWO PORTRAITS OF BEAUTIFUL BRITISH ACTRESS/SINGER: WINIFRED BARNES (PHOTOS BY RITA MARTIN)

winifred-barnes

barnes

These vintage real photo postcards feature British actress Winifred Barnes. She is absolutely beautiful and photographer, Rita Martin did a fine job of capturing both her beauty and personality in these photographs. It is not surprising that Rita Martin produced such fine photo postcards. Miss Martin was well known for her expertise in taking portraits of theater stars and other celebrities. Other images by Rita Martin can be seen by clicking on the Cabinet Card Gallery’s category “Photographer: Rita Martin”. Barnes made her theatrical debut in a minor role in “Our Miss Gibbs” at the Gaiety Theater in 1909. Great Britain’s National Portrait Gallery has ten portraits of Winifred Barnes including one by Rita Martin. Her obituary appears in the New York Times (1935). The article describes her as a former chorus girl who became a star. She was one of George Edwardes’s leading actresses. Edwardes (1855-1915) was an English theatre manager and producer who received much credit for his contribution to British musical theatre. Many of Barnes’s major roles occurred during the first World War. She scored a huge success in the production of “Betty” (1915) at Daly’s Theatre. After her 1924 marriage to barrister, Roy Faulkner, she became a successful poultry farmer. She also became widely known for her cooking expertise. Both of these photo postcards were produced by Rotary Photo of London. The two postcards are part of a series (A. 1123-1) and (11867 A).

winifred-barnes-1                                                                 Top Postcard

barnes 1

                                                              Bottom Postcard

MARTE HARRELL: PRETTY AUSTRIAN ACTRESS OF THEATER, FILM, AND TELEVISION

Marte Harell (1907-1996) was an Austrian film actress. She was married to Karl Hartl (1899-1978), an Austrian film director. Harell’s filmography includes “Women Are No Angels” (1943), “After The Storm” (1948), and “The Congress Dances” (1955). She was active in film and television between 1939 and 1981. Early and late in her career she also did theater. She made her film debut at age 32. She was in a number of films by Wien-Film. Hartl was the production manager of the company. This photo postcard was made for Wien-Film. The postcard is part of a series (no. A 3645/1). It is likely that this is a photograph of Miss Harell in costume for one of her film roles

Published in: on April 5, 2017 at 12:00 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , ,

SENORITA CHRISTIANA: A BEAUTIFUL BRAZILIAN STAGE STAR IN PARIS, FRANCE

This is an opportunity to meet Christiana. One unsourced writer asserts that she was a Brazilian stage star.  I was unable to confirm that assertion. However, I can confirm that Christiana was quite beautiful. This vintage real photo postcard features a profile view of the stage star. She is dressed in a pretty flower patterned dress and is wearing flowers in her long flowing hair. Senorita Christiana’s portrait is by the Walery Studio which was located in Paris, France. The hand tinted postcard was published by the Parisian firm  “ELD” (E. Le Delay) and was part of a series (no. 2002). The postcard advertises the Casino de Paris which was one of the better known music halls in Paris. Christiana clearly performed there. Lucien Walery was a celebrated Paris photographer known for his portraits of artists and cabaret dancers from the city’s music halls. He is very well known for his portraits of Mata Hari and Josephine Baker. Walery did a lot of work in the genre of nude/erotic photography. He photographed the beautiful women of Paris between the early 1900’s and the 1920’s. You can view other images by this talented photographer by clicking on the category “Photographer: Walery”.

Published in: on March 27, 2017 at 12:00 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , ,

BEAUTIFUL ANGLO-GERMAN FILM ACTRESS LILLIAN HARVEY

harvey-2

harvey 2

harvey 2 1

This vintage real photo postcard (top postcard) features Anglo-German actress and singer, Lillian Harvey (1906-1968). Her acting base was in Germany. Harvey was born in Hornsey, England to an English mother and a German father. During World War I her family was “trapped” in Magdeburg, Germany and Harvey was sent to live with her Swiss aunt. After the war she finished school in Berlin and than studied voice and dance at the Berlin State Opera. In 1924 she earned a role as a revue dancer in Vienna. This was followed by her first movie role which was in an Austrian film named “The Curse”. Thereafter, she starred in multiple silent films. Her first leading role was in “The Passion” (1925). Because of her voice training, Harvey was able to make the transition into “talkies”. She and actor Willy Fritsch became the “dream couple” of German movies. The pair acted together in eleven movies. In the 1930’s Harvey’s films appeared in both German and English and she became popular outside of Germany. She went to Hollywood and made four movies for the Fox Film Corporation (this postcard is from that period). In 1935, Harvey returned to Germany. She appeared in several more films and soon she was under the watchful eye of the Gestapo. Harvey had many Jewish friends in the film industry  and she was supportive of them. By 1939, Miss Harvey was forced to leave Germany, leaving behind valuable real estate holdings. She went to France where, in 1940, she made two movies for director Jean Boyer. In 1943 she was stripped of her German citizenship because she had performed for French troops. When southern France was occupied by the Nazis in 1942, she emigrated to the United States. During the war she did some theatre acting and also worked as a homeside volunteer nurse. After the war, Harvey relocated to Paris. She went on a world tour as a singer and in 1949 made appearances in West Germany. She spent her retirement on the French Riviera (Antibes) where she had a souvenir shop and raised snails for escargot. Harvey was married one time. Her four year marriage to theater director Hartvig Valeur-Larsen ended in divorce. Eventually she settled down with her female partner Else Pitty Wirth (1907-2007). Interestingly, the two women are buried together in Antibes. The imdb gives Harvey 54 acting credits between 1925 and 1940. Interestingly, Lillian Harvey’s name is mentioned in Quentin Tarantino’s film  “Inglorious Bastards” (2009). One of her songs is played on a phonograph and in addition one of the characters in the film mentions liking Harvey’s performance in a film and Joseph Goebbels becomes angry and insists her name never be mentioned in his presence. Click on the link below to hear the Lillian Harvey/Willy Fritsch duet used in the Tarantino movie. The 1936 song is titled “Ich Wollt Ich War Ein Huhn” (I Wish I Was A Chicken). Now would be a good time to discuss this postcard portrait of Miss Harvey. She is looking quite decorated in this photograph. She is wearing a garland of leaves in her hair, a very ornate necklace, a number of large bracelets, two giant rings, and a jeweled clasp on her dress near her cleavage. Note her very notable eye lashes. She is wearing a somewhat provocative dress and it is clear that the aim of the photographer is to emphasize Miss Harvey’s sexiness. The photographer and Miss Harvey succeeded in accomplishing this goal. The postcard was published by the German firm Ross Verlag and was part of a series (no. 8679/1). The postcard credits Fox films.

The second postcard features Miss Harvey in a risque costume. She is showing a “lot of leg” which is quite provocative for her time. It is likely that this image captures her in one of her film roles. The postcard was published by Argenta, which was located in Munich, Bavaria.

harvey-1

                                                              TOP POSTCARD

harvey 2 3

                                                                SECOND POSTCARD