THE SAD STORY OF VILMA BANKY: BEAUTIFUL SILENT FILM STAR

 

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This vintage real photo postcard features beautiful and sensuous actress Miss Vilma Banky (1901-1991). She was born in Hungary but was an American silent film actress. She began her acting career in Budapest and later France, Austria, and Germany. In 1925, Banky was plucked from Europe by Hollywood film producer Samuel Goldwyn. American audiences fell in love with her and she earned the moniker of “The Hungarian Rhapsody”. In a review of her first film, “The Dark Angel” (1925), the New York Times (1925) described Banky as “a young person of rare beauty”. In the mid and late 1920’s she was Goldwyn’s biggest money maker. Some of her most famous roles were in the films “The Eagle” (1925) and the “The Son of the Sheik” (1926). She played romantic roles opposite Ronald Coleman and Rudolph Valentino. The advent of sound films is believed to have short circuited her acting career. Apparently her thick Hungarian accent was unacceptable. However, around the time of the introduction of sound films, it is thought that she had lost her enthusiasm about films and was more interested in settling down with actor Rod La Rocque (1898-1969), whom she married in 1927. Goldwyn gave the bride away and Cecil B. DeMille was the best man. By 1928, she was talking of retirement. In all, she made 24 films of which only eight remain in existence in their complete form. Her filmography begins in 1919 and ends in 1933. After leaving filmdom, she and her husband had a career in real estate and she pursued the sport of golf. The Chicago Tribue (1993) entitled Banky’s obituary “Silent Film Star Makes Dramatic Exit”. It is interesting to note that the article appeared nearly two years after her death. It seems that the press and Hollywood watchers never noticed her death. Apparently she lay sick in bed for the last ten years of her life, at home, and later in a nursing facility, without any visitors. The author of the article asserts “She died the nightmare death of every elderly person, alone, her life unremembered, her passing unlamented”. Banky was upset and angry about being abandoned, that she instructed her attorney to inform no one, including the newspapers, upon her passing. The attorney followed her instructions but when the press eventually learned of her death, the lawyer stated to reporters that Banky had no visitors because none of her friends or family still survived. She left a $600,000 trust fund to her sister’s two children in Hungary. After a difficult search the attorney found the two nieces in rural Hungary “living in peasant squalor”. The women had never met their Aunt and the last letter exchanged with Banky had been thirty years earlier. Banky’s lawyer had his hands full because a German heir hunting company had found them first and got them to sign over twenty percent of their inheritance for a finding-fee. At the time of the articles publication, the lawyer planned to pay off the company with a smaller fee and set up distant banking for the nieces who lived in an area that had no banks. Although after her death, the lawyer turned out to be a committed and wonderful friend to Vilma Banky and her family. This vintage postcard was produced by the Iris Verlag company. Iris Verlag was the most important Austrian publisher of film star postcards. It operated from Vienna during the 1920’s and 1930’s. The postcard is part of a series (no.695/3). The photographer of this portrait of Banky is Halasz of Budapest. The postcard was made for Fanamet-film which was a Austrian film distribution company.

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BEBE DANIELS: BEAUTIFUL AND MULTI TALENTED ACTRESS (VINTAGE REAL PHOTO POSTCARD)

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These vintage real photo postcards feature actress Bebe Daniels (1901-1971). The top postcard was published by Cinemagazine (Paris Edition) and is part of a series (no. 121?). Miss Daniels is absolutely beautiful. She is nicely dressed and her outfit includes furs. She is wearing a large ring and a necklace with a cross. Bebe Daniels was an American actress, singer, dancer, writer and producer. She was born in Dallas, Texas to show business parents. Her father was a theater manager and her mother was a stage actress. She started her career in Hollywood as a silent film child actress. She became a star in musicals such as “42nd Street”. She worked opposite Harold Lloyd and was under contract with Cecil B. DeMille.  She later became a popular radio and television actress in Great Britain. In the 1920’s she was under contract with Paramount Pictures and made the transition to adult roles. In 1924 she played opposite to Rudolph Valentino in “Monsieur Bearcaire”. She also recorded songs for RCA Victor. When talkies began, she was hired by RKO. While with RKO her movies included a number of musicals such as “Dixiana” (1930) and  “Love Comes Along” (1930). Over the course of her career, she appeared in 230 films. She retired from Hollywood in 1935. After World War II she was awarded the Medal of Freedom by President Truman for her service during the war. An interesting story concerning Miss Daniels is that while appearing in a Chicago hotel, several thousand dollars worth of her jewelry was stolen from her hotel room. Al Capone, the notorious gangster, was a longtime Daniels fan and put out an order that the thief had just 24 hours to return it “or else”. The jewelry was returned the following day.

The second postcard of Miss Daniels was published by Iris Verlag for Paramount Films (Fanamet). Fanamet was an Austrian film distribution company. The postcard was part of a series (no. 977). This profile portrait also displays the beauty and appeal of Miss Daniels.Iris Verlag was the most important Austrian publisher of film star postcards. It operated from Vienna during the 1920’s and 1930’s. Iris Verlag was a different company than Germany’s Ross Verlag. Iris cards restricted itself to one postcard format and did not publish scene card series popularized by Ross. The early Iris cards had a sepia brown tone while the cards from the 1930’s were closer to “black and white”.

The third photo postcard features Bebe Daniels dressed as a “harem princess”. She is wearing a two piece dress with lots of see-through material. She is dressed and posed to look beautiful and sexy. I believe that the mission was accomplished. The postcard was published by Ross Verlag in Germany circa 1920’s. The postcard is part of a series (no. 3213/1) and Paramount Studio is credited. This postcard portrait of Miss Daniels is rare.

 

 

MISS EVELEEN RAINE: PRETTY THEATRE ACTRESS (PHOTO BY ELLIOTT AND FRY)

rayneThis cabinet card portrait features stage actress Eveleen (Evelyn) Rayne. She became titled when she married George Fitzwilliam in 1888. She died in 1925. The Elliott & Fry studio produced this image. This Victorian photographic studio and photographic film manufacturer was founded in 1863 by Joseph John Elliott and Clarence Edmund Fry. For an entire century the studio took and published images of leading Victorian luminaries from the fields of science, public service, art, politics as well as celebrities of the day. To view other photographs by this studio click on the category “Photographer: Elliott & Fry”.

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Published in: on December 7, 2016 at 12:00 pm  Leave a Comment  
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BEAUTIFUL STAGE ACTRESS JOHAN WITTMAN (PUBLICITY PHOTO)

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Beautiful stage actress Johan Wittman posed for this publicity photograph for her appearance  in “The Perfect Fool”, a play that appeared at the George M. Cohan Theatre” in New York City (Broadway). Ed Wynn provided the book, lyrics, and music. The revue played in 1921 and 1922 and ran for 275 performances. Miss Wittman looks elegant in her “to the floor” beaded dress. The previous owner of this photograph hypothesized that the dress was modeled after a peacock feather. I agree with his observation. Miss Wittman is holding a feather fan behind her head. She truly is representative of the flapper era. According to Broadwayworld.com, Miss Wittman’s Broadway experience was confined to her role in “The Perfect Fool”. The photographer of this lovely portrait was Ira Daniel Schwarz (1878-1946) who was based on West 48th Street in New York City. Schwarz was a Brooklynite and one of the first New York portrait artists to work in the movie industry. He began his career as a pictorialist art photographer and during World War I he went to work for Screencraft Pictures (located in New York) as Cinematographer and Stillman. He displayed a lot of talent as a Stillman and in 1919 became the chief portrait photographer for the company. The website “Broadway Photographs” reports that Schwarz was fascinated with shade and that his images were often recognized for their “plummy blacks”. In 1924 he left Photocraft and established his own studio. In regard to his skill as a portrait photographer “Broadway Photographs” assert that Schwarz was considered “a photographic psychologist” by his colleagues because he was excellent at “capturing the mentality of his sitter”. During World War II he closed his studio due to the silver shortage.

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

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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.

                                              

                                                       Wedding Photo (1911)

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MISS JOSE COLLINS: BEAUTIFUL STAGE AND FILM STAR (VINTAGE REAL PHOTO POSTCARDS)

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The pretty woman featured in this vintage real photo postcard is Miss Jose Collins (1887-1958). The name “Jose” was a shortening of her given name “Josephine”. She was an English actress and singer known for her appearances in musical comedies and early movies. She was born in London. Her mother was a music hall performer and comedian named Lottie Collins. Interestingly, she was the singer who popularized the song “Ta-ra-ra Boom-de-ay”. Jose Collins father was Stephen Patrick Cooney, her mother’s music coach. Collins began as a child actress and as a teenager had already appeared in both pantomine and music hall performances as a singer and actress. Her debut performance in the West End was a major role in “The Antelope” (1908). She also appeared on Broadway  in the production of “Vera Violetta (1911), “The Merry Countess (1912), “The Whirl of Society” (1912), and other shows. In the later production, she sang a duet with Al Jolson. She also appeared in the Ziegfeld Follies (1913). In 1917 she appeared in the hit musical “The Maid of the Mountains”, a role for which she received much acclaim. She actually earned a nickname from the show; she was known as “The Maid of the Mountains”. She appeared in a number of shows through 1925. One of these productions was “A Southern Maid”  (at Daly’s Theatre) and this postcard portrait captures her in that role. The show was an operetta and her costar was Bertram Wallis. The production ran for 306 performances. The remainder of her career was spent acting in revues, variety and non-musical roles. She also appeared in films. The IMDB reports that she appeared in thirteen movies between 1915 and 1933. Miss Collins was married three times and these unions produced no children. The link below will take you to a Ziegfeld Follies performance by Jose Collins. She is singing “Just You and I and the Moon” (1913). This postcard was published by J. Beagles & Co. of London, England. The postcard is part of a series (no. 222 U). The photograph of Miss Collins is by Reville Studios.

The second vintage real photo postcard presents Miss Collins in a relatively short frilly dress. She looks very pretty as she flashes a nice smile. The postcard was produced by Rotary Photo and is part of the Rotary Photographic Series (no. 4004 D)

 

 

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ENGLISH STAGE ACTRESS: MISS MILLIE LINDEN

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This vintage real photo postcard features English stage actress Miss Millie Linden. The actress was a popular photo postcard model judging by the number of postcards that display her portrait. However, research yielded little information about her. The New York Times (1907) reported that she had a supporting role in a show opening at the Colonial Theatre. The newspaper described Miss Linden as “an English singer who makes her debut in this country in songs”. This postcard was published by the Philco Publishing Company of London, England. Philco published postcards between 1905 and 1934. The postcard is part of the Philco Series (no. 3161 D). The postcard has a 1907 postmark from Folkestone which is a port town on the English Channel in Kent, England.

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Published in: on November 19, 2016 at 12:03 pm  Leave a Comment  

MEET THE VOKES FAMILY: JESSIE, VICTORIA, AND ROSINA VOKES WERE TALENTED SISTERS OF THE BRITISH STAGE

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The top photograph in this grouping features stage actress Rosina Vokes (1854-1894). She was the daughter of a London costumer. She came to America with her two older siblings and Fawdon Vokes to make a career in the theatre. Interestingly, Fawdon Vokes was not a member of the Vokes family. His name was actually Walter Fawdon, but the name change was necessary for him to join the family troupe. The group made their New York debut in 1872 in “The Belles of the Kitchen“. They played in a number of shows over time and from the beginning, Rosina was considered “infinitely the cleverest, the most bewitching” of the group. When she reappeared in America in 1885 with her own company, she was warmly welcomed. One paper wrote “she is still young, agile, slender and graceful; the piquant prettiness of her face and the droll charm of her manner still exert a strong influence on the susceptible spectator”. She toured with made-to-order productions, until shortly before her early death, at about, forty years of age. The New York Times (1893) published an article entitled “Rosina Voke’s Serious Illness: It Deprives the Anglo-American Stage of One of its Brightest Ornaments”. The article favorably compares her to her other acting family members and reveals that Vokes had embarked on a voyage from America to England whose purpose was to allow her to die in her home country. The young actress was terminally ill with consumption (pulmonary disease). Judging by the content of the many obituaries that appeared in American newspapers after Rosina Vokes succumbed to her illness, the actress was a well respected and loved performer of the American stage. It is important to note that the Vokes theatrical family included a brother named Fred Vokes (1846-1888). He was an actor and a dancer. This cabinet card comes from the studio of famed celebrity photographer, Napoleon Sarony. To view other photographs by Sarony, click on Cabinet Card Gallery’s category, “Photographer: Sarony”.

The second photograph captures Rosina and her two sisters posing for an unidentified photographer. The sisters have been identified as Jessie (1851=1884) and Victoria (1853-1894). The reverse of the photograph indicates that the image was formerly part of the “Harold Seton Collection”. Who is Harold Seton? Research reveals that Harold Seton was best known for his work as a journalist, author and collector. He wrote about theatre and society in his column, Theatre Thoughts”, which appeared in Theatre Magazine. He accumulated over ten thousand theatrical photographs of actors and actresses who performed between 1870 and 1900. He donated some of his collection to the New York Historical Society and some are  located at the Wake Forest University library, as well as a number of other institutions. A Harold Seton was a theatre actor who performed in eight plays between 1919 and 1935. Although I doubt that the two Harold Setons’ are the same men; no evidence could be found to determine if they were one and the same man.

The third image in this group is a carte de visite portrait of Victoria Vokes. The photograph was taken at the Broadway studio of Napoleon Sarony. Victoria was born in London and began her career at the Royal Surrey Theatre at just two years of age. Over time she played a variety of children’s roles in London theatres. In 1861 she appeared with her brothers and sisters at the Operetta House in Edinburgh as one of the “Vokes Children” (later changed to “The Vokes Family”. Victoria earned her early popularity with her voice but soon she was gathering acclaim via her acting. Her performance in “Amy Robsart” (1871) at Drury Lane Theatre is an example of one of her excellent exhibitions on stage. “The Cornell Daily Sun” (1890) wrote about an appearance by Victoria Vokes and her Company. The reviewer asserted that “Few actresses have appeared in Montreal whose genius is so versatile as that of Miss Yokes. She sings with a fine contralto of great power, dances like zephyr and acts in comedy — well, like one of the Yokes”.

MISS GERTIE MILLAR: BEAUTIFUL AND TALENTED BRITISH STAGE ACTRESS

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This vintage real photo postcard features beautiful English actress and singer Gertrude (Gertie) Millar (1879-1952). She was well known for her performances in Edwardian musical comedies. She began acting as a child (age 13) and was a well known star of musical comedies for two decades. Her first husband, Lionel Monckton, was the composer of many of her shows and songs. Monckton died in 1924 and Millar later married the 2nd Earl of Dudley, making her the Countess of Dudley. Some of Millar’s earlier appearances involved roles in “A Game of Cards” (1897), “Cinderella” (1899), “The Messenger Boy” (1900), and “The Toreador” (1901) at the Gaiety Theatre. By this time some of the songs she performedad become big hits. Gertie Millar was quite beautiful and was one of the most photographed women of the Edwardian period. Evidence of her popularity is the fact that there are 88 photographs of Miss Millar in England’s National Portrait Gallery. Many of these images appeared on postcards which became a popular collectors item.Gertie Millar was tall, thin and attractive with dark hair and large and very clear eyes. In addition she has been described as tough, determined and ambitious. Miss Millar appeared in many theatrical productions as the twentieth century progressed. In fact, between 1901 and 1910 Millar was the leading star of the Gaiety Theatre. Millar’s appearances included “The Orchid” (1903), “The Girls of Gottenberg” (1907), and “Our Miss Gibbs” (1909), “Gipsy Love” (1912). Gertie Millar went to the United States to star in the “Girls of Gottenberg” (1908) on Broadway. In 1914 she appeared in a film entitled “The House of Bondage”. After appearing in a number of less successful theatrical productions, Gertie Millar left the stage in 1918. Her husband died in 1924 and two months later she married the 2nd Earl of Dudley. The speed at which she remarried may reflect the unhappy state of her relationship with Mr. Monckton. The website “Stage Beauty” informs us that this theatrical couple had problems for many years. In fact the couple had unfortunate theatrics in their personal life. Mr Monckton was a jealous man and Miss Millar was a woman who attracted lots of male attention. This was a bad combination. A major dramatic incident occurred in  1905 when a young German nobleman who was infatuated with Gertie, broke into her marital residence and committed suicide by shooting himself in the head  at her dressing table. Gertie denied any involvement with the obsessed man but her husband refused to believe her denial. In 1910 her romantic life was in the news again because of speculation about her involvement with the Duke of Westminister. This publicity was considered a major cause of the Duke’s estrangement from his wife. This postcard portrait was taken by celebrity photographer, Rita Martin. She is considered one of the best British photographers of her time. Rita had a specialty in photographing actresses. Her sister was celebrated society photographer Lallie Charles. To learn more about Rita Martin and to view more of her photographs, click on the category “Photographer: Rita Martin”. This postcard portrait is part of the “Lilywhite Series” (no. L 22). The postcard has a postmark from Shipley, England (1918) and is addressed to someone in Penrith, England. The postcard has an interesting message which includes the following first line; “Hope you have not got this one (postcard) of Gertie …..”. Click on the you tube video below to hear Gertie Millar sing “Moonstruck” from the musical comedy “Our Miss Gibbs” (1909).

 

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JOAN OF ARC: READY FOR BATTLE (VINTAGE REAL PHOTO POSTCARD)

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This vintage real photo postcard features a pretty actress portraying “Joan of Arc”. She is wearing armor, and holding a flag in one hand and a shield in the other. Her medieval costume includes breastplates and a helmet. She has a sword hanging at her side and is wearing boots that almost look “space age”. Joan of Arc (1412-1431) was nick named “The Maid of Orleans” and is a heroine of France for her role in the Hundred Years’ War. She was canonized as a Roman Catholic saint. After being captured, she was tried and burned at the stake. The life of Joan of Arc became a popular subject in literature, theater, and film. Even Mark Twain wrote about her in the novel “Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc (1896) as did Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in “The Mystery of Joan of Arc” (1924).

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