BETTY BALFOUR: “BRITAINS QUEEN OF HAPPINESS” (VINTAGE REAL PHOTO POSTCARD)

 

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Have you ever heard of Betty Balfour? You would definitely know who she was if you lived in England during the silent film era because she is considered the most popular actress there during the 1920’s. She was known as the “British Mary Pickford” and “Britain’s Queen of Happiness”. Her fans knew her best for her “Squibs” series of films. Betty Balfour (1903-1977) was also known for her stage career. She made her stage debut in 1913 and worked in theater for several years before entering the film industry. She did not attempt to extend her career to Hollywood  but she did star in a number of German films. In Britain she starred in Alfred Hitchcock’s “Champagne” (1928). Her sound era debut was in “The Nipper” (1930), Her popularity began to drop in the 1930’s though she still was getting film roles. In all, she appeared in more than 35 films. Balfour was married to composer Jimmy Campbell but the marriage fell apart in 1941 after a ten year run. She attempted a theater comeback in 1952 but it failed. She died in Weybridge, Surrey, England at the age of seventy-four. This vintage real photo postcard was produced by Picturegoer as part of a series (no. 2a). The company was based in London. Picturegoer was a British fan magazine focussing on contemporary films and the actors and actresses who performed in them. Picturegoer also published postcards. In fact, they produced over 6500 different real photo postcards on 2000 actors and actresses.

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MABELLE ADAMS: A PRETTY BROADWAY ACTRESS

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This vintage real photo postcard features actress Mabelle Adams (1880-1935). Mabelle Adams was her stage name but her real name was Mabelle Humberstone. She is known for her stage career but also for being the mother of director Bruce “Lucky” Humberstone whose work included Film noir “I Wake Up Screaming” (1941) as well as some “Charlie Chan” and “Tarzan” films. Interestingly, Mabelle was a niece of Edwin Booth. She was the understudy on Broadway for actress Maude Adams in “Peter Pan”. She was in a number of Broadway productions including occupying a starring role in “Two Orphans” (1933). Adams was an active member of the Stage Women’s War Relief which raised money for medical supplies for Allies wounded in World War I. A brief biography of Adams can be found in “The Stars of Hollywood Forever” (2014), This postcard was published pre 1907 by the Rotograph Company and part of a series (no. B1998). Rotograph was located in New York City.

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Published in: on December 26, 2015 at 12:00 pm  Leave a Comment  

ACTORS CHARLES GARRY AND DORA BARTON APPEARING IN “IVANHOE” (1909 REAL PHOTO POSTCARD)

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This wonderful vintage real photo postcard captures actor Mr. Charles Garry and actress Dora Barton (1880-1966) in a dramatic scene from the play “Ivanhoe”. Ivanhoe was a dramatization by William Palmer of Walter Scott’s novel.Dora Barton plays Rebecca while Charles Garry plays the role of Isaac of York. Both actors later had film careers. This photograph does an incredible job of capturing the performers emotions. The photographer of this image was well known for his talent and family ties. Alexander Percy Guttenberg (1870-?) came from a family that produced a number of photographers. His father, Marcus Guttenberg (1828-1891) began as a daguerreotypist in Hungary, Prussia, Poland and Germany before starting a photography business in England (1851). One source reports that he established 24 studios in England but settled in the Manchester area. Percy, like his father, was also very successful. In fact, there are fourteen of his photographs in England’s National Portrait Gallery. Percy was famous for his work photographing actors and actresses. The image above was photographed at his Queen’s Theater studio in Manchester as part of a “Revival Series”. The postcard has been mailed and is postmarked in Sunderland in the year 1909. Sunderland is in the northeast of England.

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GISELLA POZZI: BEAUTIFUL SILENT FILM ACTRESS WEARING A BUTTERFLY DRESS

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One thing is for certain is that Gisella Pozzi is a very pretty woman. However, my knowledge about the details of her life is very uncertain. Preliminary research indicates that she was an Italian silent film actress. Some sources report that she was also a theater actress. I have just written everything I know about Gisella Pozzi. More research is needed. What do you think of her dress and hat? I think she looks terrific. I especially like the butterfly on front of her dress. This vintage real photo postcard was made in Italy and produced by Fotocelere. Fotocelere was active between 1915 and 1942 and published postcards across a wide range of genres. The company must have decided it would be attractive to include her faux autograph across her image. I respectfully disagree.

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Published in: on December 16, 2015 at 12:00 pm  Comments (3)  
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THE SCANTILY CLAD BELLY DANCING HARRISON SISTERS CAVORT TOGETHER

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Meet the Harrison Sisters, or the “Sisters Harrison” if you prefer the title on this vintage real photo postcard. The sisters are dressed like belly dancers and perhaps that is their trademark talent. Judging by their expressions, the young women don’t appear to be too interested in their career choice. Note the dancer’s sheer skirts and abundance of jewelry. The provocative skirts and the performer’s bikini top certainly makes this a risque photograph for it’s era. Postcard images such as this often appeared with a Salome theme. Salome, the daughter of Herod II and Herodias is involved in the story of John the Baptist, or more specifically, the head of John the Baptist. Salome was a popular subject in literature, theater, and art around the time that these images were produced. Salome became a symbol for dangerous female seductiveness. To make a long story longer, I am not sure if the inspiration of this postcard’s image is Middle Eastern belly dancing or the temptress Salome. Preliminary research uncovered nothing about the “Sisters Harrison” and clearly more extensive investigation is required. Perhaps the Cabinet Card Gallery’s research department (it’s visitors) have some information to share about these dancing siblings.

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Published in: on December 12, 2015 at 12:47 pm  Comments (2)  
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MABEL MAY-YONG

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Mabel May Yong (1883-1945) was an Australian born actress and dancer. She appeared in German films. The IMDB reports that she had 21 film appearances between 1920 and 1925. In some of the early films she was billed as Mabel May. She portrayed the exotic, sexy,  scantily clad Mata Hari or Salome type. She is often considered the German equivalent of Theda Bara. She had the lead in a vampire film “What the Skull Tells” (1921). Interestingly, she appeared in a film called “Women Who Commit Adultery ( 1922). Mabel May Yong was quite prolific in regard to her numerous film appearance in the early 1920’s. However, her success was short lived. Perhaps a cabinet card gallery visitor can explain what happened to Miss Yong personally and professionally after her early success. This rare vintage real photo postcard was published in Munich, Germany by Percy Hein.

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Published in: on December 4, 2015 at 12:00 pm  Comments (9)  
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MYSTERY CHANTEUSE PHOTOGRAPHED BY NADAR

ILBERT_0002This Cabinet Card presents a bit of a mystery.  The photograph is by famed French photographer, P. Nadar of Paris. The subject of the photograph is a mystery. The reverse of the card has the name “Ilbert”  written in two places. In addition the word “Chanteuse” also appears. Is she an opera singer? Is she a nightclub singer? The woman is very stylish and is wearing a fur and interesting hair clip. Hopefully, a viewer will leave a comment with some identifying information.                                                    ADDENDUM: This photograph entered into the cabinet card gallery in 2009. Since then there have been a number of cabinet card gallery visitors that have left comments concerning the identity of the subject of this  image. There has been some disagreement, but at least two visitors have identified this performer as being Yvette Guilbert (1867-1944). To follow the discussion about identification, check out the comment section below. Now back to Mlle Guilbert. Born as Emma Laure Esther Guilbert, she began singing as a child but worked at a Paris department store model when she turned sixteen. She also took acting and voice lesson and in 1886 she began working as an actress. She debuted at the Variette Theatre in 1888. She was soon singing at a number of popular clubs before starring in Montmartre at the Moulin Rouge in 1890. Over time she began to sing a lot of  monologue “patter songs”. Often the lyrics were risque, even raunchy. Her song frequently featured tragedy and poverty. Guilbert was audacious and audiences ate it up. She was celebrated in France, England and the United States. She was a favorite subject of artist Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, who made many portraits and caricatures of Guilbert. Later in her career, she appeared in silent movies, talkies and made recordings. She also wrote books about the Belle Epoque. It is interesting to note that Nadar, the photographer of the mystery chanteuse also photographed Yvette Guilbert. A Nadar photograph of Mlle Guilbert is part of the collection at the National Library of France. A copy of that image can be found below.

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Published in: on December 1, 2015 at 12:01 pm  Comments (7)  
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ON THE ROAD WITH FRENCH ACTRESS GABRIELLE REJANE (VINTAGE REAL PHOTO POSTCARD)

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This vintage real photo postcard features French theatre actress Gabrielle Rejane standing on the sideboard of her chauffeur driven limousine. A little boy (most likely her son) peaks over her shoulder at the camera. The car in this photograph is beautiful, as was Rejane. A cabinet card image of the actress can be seen below. The photograph was taken by celebrated photographer Felix Nadar. Gabrielle Rejane was the stage name employed by Gabrielle-Charlotte Reju (1856-1920). She was born in Paris and had theatre in her blood as her father was an actor. She studied under Regnier at the Conservatoire and excelled in comedy. She made her debut in 1875 playing a number of “soubrette parts. Her first major success was in Meilhac’s “Ma Camarade (1883) and she quickly became known as a talented emotional actress. She played roles in “Decor”, “Ma Cousine”, and “Lysistrata”. In 1892 she married M. Paul Porel, the director of the Theatre du Vaudeville. The marriage lasted twelve years. In 1893 she appeared in Paris and soon thereafter she appeared in her most famous role as Catherine in Sardou’s “Madame Sans-Gene” in London and New York. In 1906 she opened the Theatre Rejane in Paris. She and Sarah Bernhardt served as the models for the character of the actress Berma in Marcel Proust’s novel “In Search of Lost Time”. Gabrielle Rejane’s acting is thought to represent what wikipedia describes as “the essence of French vivacity and animated expression”. Rejane appeared in a number of short films during the pioneering days of early cinema. Réjane died in Paris and is buried in the Cimetiere de Passy. Her obituary appeared in the New York Times (1920) and it was chock full of praise including; “She was the supreme comedienne of her time.” The image of Me. Rejane seen on this postcard was photographed by Paul Boyer (1861-1908) of Paris. He invented the use of magnesium for the flash in photography. He also was a very talented and award winning photographer. His studio was located at 35 Boulevard des Capucines in Paris. He produced many portraits of theater actors and actresses as well as other celebrities of his time. This postcard was published by Societe Industrielle de Photograpie (SIP) of Rueil, France and was part of a series (no. 2000).The postcard is addressed to Lyons, France and the writer of the message written on the card dated it 1908. This postcard is particularly special because it is a rare image of Gabrielle Rejane.

 

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Nadar,_Félix_-_Gabrielle_Réjane_(1856-1920)

 

 

 

 

 

BRITISH STAGE ACTRESS CISSY GRAHAME PHOTOGRAPHED BY W and D DOWNEY IN LONDON, ENGLAND

CISSY GRAHAMEBritish stage actress, Cissy Grahame is the subject of this portrait by the famed London photographic studio W. & D. Downey. She looks quite beautiful in her lace scarf and feathered hat. Grahame was born in 1862. She was the daughter of an actress and she took her first stage role at the age of thirteen. Three years later she was  hired to the stage by Mr. Wilson Barrett and soon thereafter by the Kendal’s. As she progressed in her theatrical career she added theatre management to her repertoire. To view other photographs by the Downey studio, click on the category “Photographer: Downey”.

Published in: on November 21, 2015 at 12:00 pm  Leave a Comment  
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ROMANTIC SCENE FROM THE PLAY “HAVANA” (1908): VINTAGE REAL PHOTO POSTCARD

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This vintage real photo postcard captures a scene from the the stage production of “Havana” which appeared in 1908 at the Gaiety Theatre in London. The play ran for 221 performances before going on the road around England. The show later played in Berlin, Philadelphia and New York City (The Casino Theatre). Interestingly, future star, Gladys Cooper appeared in the chorus. The play’s plot was that Evie Greene was the daughter of a cigar store owner who also happened to be the mayor of Havana. She was promised to her cousin in marriage but was in love with an English yachtsman (McKay). To complicate matters, the McKay was suspected of being a revolutionary. The actors in this image are Evie Greene and Leonard McKay. Edith Elizabeth (“Evie”) Greene (1875-1917) was an English actress and singer who played in Edwardian Musical Comedies in London and on Broadway. She was quite beautiful and was often photographed. She was most known for starring in the international hit musical “Florodora” (1899). She sang in the cast album of the show which was historic because it was the world’s first original cast album. This postcard was published by Rotary Photo as part of a series (no. 7431 F). It was printed in England. The photograph itself is by “Play Pictorial”. “Play Pictorial” was an English theatre magazine published in London between 1902 and 1939. The publication provided a pictorial presentation of West End theatrical productions with each issue focusing on just one play.

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