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).

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).

 

PRETTY ITALIAN ACTRESS AND WRITER MARCELLA ALBANI

 

Marcella Albani (1899-1959) was an Italian film actress that appeared in 50 films between 1919 and 1936. Albani was “discovered” by writer/director Guido Parish (Schamberg) when she was twenty years old. They became a very successful film couple until 1924 when they parted ways. Their movies were predominately tear jerkers and adventure stories. The actress also worked with other famous directors such as Joe May, Friedrich Zelnik, and Wilhelm Dieterle. Albani was a major star in the European cinema in the late 1920’s. Her films were made in five different European countries. Many of Albani’s roles were portraying elegant Latin beauties. She certainly looks elegant and beautiful in this postcard portrait. She is dressed exquisitely and her hat is a fashion statement in itself. At the advent of sound movies, Miss Albani turned to writing. One of her several novels was turned into a movie. She continued to act until 1936. Albani was married to director Mario Franchini in 1931. This vintage real photo postcard is of German origin by Ross Verlag of Berlin. The postcard is part of a series (no. 1521/1). The photo is by Aafa film. According to one reliable source, the postcard was issued sometime between 1927 and 1928.

UNUSUAL POST MORTEM PHOTOGRAPH FROM SCHWABACH, GERMANY

This post mortem cabinet card image features an older bearded man partially covered with flowers. The card on the bottom right hand corner of the image likely has the words of a prayer or a religious reading. The image has amazing clarity. The deceased gentleman is lying at an unusual angle. The photographer of this cabinet card image is the Kandel studio which was located in Schwabach, Germany. The town is near Nuremberg and in the center of the Franconia region in North Bavaria. Hopefully, visitors to the Cabinet Card Gallery will not find this image offensive. Photographs of deceased family members were commonplace during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries in America and Europe. The images helped surviving loved ones through the grieving process. In addition, sometimes the post mortem photographs were the only images possessed by the deceased’s family.

Published in: on March 13, 2017 at 7:18 pm  Comments (3)  
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ETHEL BARRYMORE: STAGE BEAUTY

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Ethel Barrymore (1879-1959) was an outstanding American actress and a member of the famous theatrical Barrymore family. She was born Ethel Mae Blythe in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Her parents were actors and she was the sister of John and Lionel Barrymore.  She was the great aunt of modern day actress Drew Barrymore.

Ethel Barrymore was considered by many to be the greatest actress of her generation. She was a major Broadway performer and first appeared there in 1895. She had roles in A Dolls House by Ibsen (1905).  She was a strong supporter of the Actors’ Equity Association and played a major role in the 1919 strike. She played in Somerset Maugham’s comedy, The Constant Wife (1926). She also starred in motion pictures beginning her film career in 1914.  Notable films included None but the Lonely Heart (1944) and The Spiral Staircase (1946). Around 1900, Winston Churchill proposed marriage to Barrymore but she refused. She later married Russell Griswold Colt in 1909 and had three children. She died of cardiovascular disease in 1959 at her home in California. The Ethel Barrymore Theatre in New York City is named in her honor.

The top cabinet card portrait of Ethel Barrymore was photographed by Phillips Photographers of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. To view other photographs by Phillips, click on the category “Photographer: Phillips”. The second cabinet card image of the actress was produced by Sarony, the famous celebrity photographer who’s studio was located in New York City. To see other Sarony photographs, click on the category “Photographer: Sarony”.

The third portrait of Miss Barrymore appears on a postcard published by the Rotograph Company who operated in  New York City and Germany. This postcard portrait was taken by famed Chicago photographer William Morrison. He is well known for his excellent portraits of theatrical stars. He produced both real photo postcards and cabinet cards. This postcard is number HB/1422 of the “Rotograph Series”. The image on this postcard is color tinted. This postcard has been mailed and postmarked (1907). The reverse of this postcard can be seen below.To view other photographs by Morrison, click on the category “Photographer: Morrison”.

The fourth portrait of Ethel Barrymore is an uncommon one. The image provides a lovely profile view of this legendary actress. If you search for this exact postcard online, you likely won’t find it. This postcard was published by E. Frey & Company who operated in  New York City . Research reveals that postcards displaying the printed name of  “E. Frey” were actually published by the Souvenir Post Card Company which existed between 1905 and 1914. It was located at 268 Canal Street in New York City. The company was purchased by Valentine & Sons and the combined company became Valentine – Souvenir. This postcard was printed in Germany and is in good condition (see scan).

The fifth photograph of Miss Barrymore was published by the Rotograph Company. This postcard portrait was taken by famed Chicago celebrity photographer William Morrison.This postcard is number B 662 of the “Rotograph Series”. The image has excellent clarity.

The sixth image is a vintage real photo postcard portrait of Ethel Barrymore. The postcard was published by Albert Hahn who was based in New York City (200 Broadway) and Hamburg. Hahn operated his company between 1901 and 1919. The postcard was produced in Germany sometime in the decade of 1900-1910. The postcard is part of a series (no. 5271),

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                                            REVERSE OF THIRD IMAGE (ROTOGRAPH POSTCARD)

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                                             REVERSE OF FIFTH IMAGE (ROTOGRAPH POSTCARD)

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                              REVERSE OF THE SIXTH IMAGE (POSTCARD BY ALBERT HAHN)

FANCY CAR AND FANCY DRIVER IN SCHONINGEN, GERMANY (RPPC 1934)

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A classy looking man and his classy looking automobile are the subject of this vintage real photo postcard produced by a photographer named Herr Wurm in Schoningen, Germany. The car looks new and is absolutely beautiful.The owner of the auto must love the car. He is showing his affection by putting one foot on the running board and placing his hand against the car’s door. He looks quite stylish with his white coat, dark hat, and driving gloves. There is something sticking out of his coat pocket. It may be a wallet and you can be sure that he had to be somewhat wealthy to afford this luxurious car. The town of Schoningen is in the district of Helmstedt, in Lower Saxony, Germany. The community is known for its mining of lignite. The writing on the reverse of this photo postcard is dated 1934. The postcard is not postmarked and was likely mailed inside of an envelope.

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Published in: on January 21, 2017 at 12:00 pm  Leave a Comment  
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TWO PORTRAITS OF PRETTY EUROPEAN STAGE ACTRESS LIANE HAID (PHOTOS BY ALEXANDER BINDER)

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These vintage real photo postcards features European film star Liane Haid (1895-2000). In the top postcard she poses holding a tennis racket and wearing a hair band to keep her hair out of her eyes. She is quite beautiful but how can we interpret her facial expression. To me, it looks like she is rolling her eyes as if she is bothered by something. Who is Liane Haid? She was born in Vienna, Austria and received training in both dance and singing. She gained the nickname of “Sweet Viennese Girl”. Haid was a prima ballerina, dancer, singer and stage actress. She worked in Budapest and Vienna as a dancer. Her stage career was mostly in Berlin and Vienna. She became a popular pin-up star through the 1920’s and 1930’s. Her first movie role was in a World War I propaganda film. She was employed by UFA and appeared in a number of comedy films  alongside other movie stars including Willi Forst, Bruno Kastner, and Georg Alexander. UFA was a major German Film producer and distributor that operated between 1917 through the end of World War II. Liane Haid refused a number of Hollywood offers but in 1942, she escaped Nazi Germany and went to Switzerland according to Wikipedia, “because of the regime, because everything was bombed, and because all the good directors had left”. Soon thereafter she got married and retired from films. She was married three times. The IMDB web site states that she has 92 film credits from 1915 through 1953. Notable films include “Lady Hamilton” (1921), “Lucrezia Borgia” (1926), and “The Song is Ended” (1930). The photographer of this terrific image was Alexander Binder (1888-1929). He had the largest photo studio in Europe during the late 1920’s and the 1930’s. Many of his entertainment star portraits appear on Ross Verlag postards. It is thought that Binder was of Swiss origin. He was of the Jewish faith. He studied engineering but did not complete his studies. From 1908 to 1910 he studied photography at a school in Munich, Germany. After the completion of his photography studies, he went to Berlin and in 1913 opened his first photography studio. Before long, he became one of the premier photographers in Berlin.  He primarily focussed on fashion and celebrity photography. Since Berlin was the capital of the European film industry, Binder photographed all the stars of the European film industry including, Lilian Harvey, Conrad Veidt, and Lya De Putti. Many of his images were used in popular film portrait postcards. His photographs could be seen in postcards published by Ross Verlag and Photochemie. Binder died in 1929 but new photo cards bearing his signature continued to be published until 1937. It is thought that the real photographer of these new postcards was Hubs Floeter (1910-1974) who was employed at the studio as an operator. The studio continued to be owned by Binder’s widow, Mrs. Binder Alleman and their two daughters. The studio was managed by the Jewish Elisabeth Baroness Vonhedlis Stengel who was later deported to the Theresienstadt concentration camp. In 1938 the Nazi’s closed Binder’s studio and it was later taken over by an Aryan photographer, Karl Ludwig Haenchen . Haenchen continued to produce celebrity portraits for postcards. His publishers included Film-Foto-Verlag. After World War II the studio was taken over by the Hasse und Wiese company.                                                          The second vintage postcard portrait of Miss Haid was also the work of Alexander Binder. The actress looks beautiful in her art deco lace headdress. Her eyes can be described as spell binding. The postcard was published by Germany’s Ross Verlag and is part of a series (no. 544/4). Also credited for this photograph is “Micco Film”. Before working for Micco Film, Haid was employed by Kunstfilm. She was very successful working for the company but in 1920 she sued the company for physically exploiting her (placing her in dangerous situations) and for making her financially responsible for her own makeup and costuming. Haid’s husband, industrialist Fritz  von Haymerle, built her a studio (Micco-Film) in Vienna to further promote her career. 

haid-1                                        REVERSE OF TOP POSTCARD

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                                  REVERSE OF BOTTOM POSTARD

ADORABLE LITTLE BOY AND HIS TEDDDY BEAR ON WHEELS IN HAMBURG, GERMANY

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This fantastic carte de visite features an adorable little boy and his toy teddy bear. The toy bear is on a string leash and on four wheels for easy walking. The child’s outfit, including his matching socks, are very stylish. The photograph was taken at the studio of Adolf Bruns in Hamburg, Germany.

 

 

Published in: on December 19, 2016 at 12:38 pm  Leave a Comment  
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TWO ADORABLE CHILDREN IN TRADITIONAL GERMAN COSTUMES IN HAMBURG

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This wonderful Carte de Visite features two adorable children wearing traditional clothing posing for their portrait at the Banque & Kindermann studio in Hamburg, Germany. The boys outfit has an abundance of buttons and he is wearing a top hat. The little girl is holding a basket of pretty flowers and is wearing a hat that resembles a “frying pan”. On each side of the children are potted plants. The image is actually a lovely photograph. The reverse of the photograph has print that advertises the fact that the studio won medals at an 1887 exhibition in Stuttgart, Germany. This photograph was likely taken shortly after that contest. “The Photographic Times” (1897) tells the story of photographer Conrad Kindermann. He was born in Lubeck, Germany in 1842. He apprenticed in a cloth house in Riza, Russia for five years and worked there another year. He then was introduced to working as a photographer by his brother who had a studio in Hamburg. In 1863 he opened a studio in Lubeck. The ceilings in this studio were so low that they prohibited photographing adults when they were standing. The resourceful Kindermann decided to specialize in photographing children. It is very interesting to note that the word “kinder” means “children”. He was truly a Kindermann. In 1869 he met photographer Herr Benque. They becamse fast friends and were soon partners in a studio in Hamburg. The studio encountered financial problems so Benque left and soon the studio became very successful and Kindermann became known as one of the best photographers of children in the country. A review of the era’s photography journals demonstrate that he was often cited or the subject of articles. Another fascinating fact is that Darwin used three of Kindermann’s photographs in his book “The Expression of Emotions in Man and Animals” (1872).

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AN ADORABLE BABY AND HER DOLL

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This vintage real photo postcard features a lovely image of an adorable little girl holding a beautiful doll. The child is wearing a lacy dress, a necklace, and a pink ribbon in her hair. She is so photogenic. This postcard was sent by a woman named Suzanne to her younger brother living in Argentan, France. The postmark dates back to 1906. Suzanne wrote her name on the top right hand corner of the front of the postcard. She wrote it in red which is the same color ink she used to write her message on the reverse. The postcard was published by Germany’s Neue Photographische Gesellschaft (NPG) (New Photographical Society). The company was in business between 1894 and 1948. It was founded by Arthur Black (1862-1943) and it became of the most well known and largest companies involved in the production of postcards. Over time, NPG opened subsidiaries in London, Paris, Rome, and New York. Interestingly, the company was one of the “Best Companies to Work For”. Employees were given free medical treatment and illness benefits. Employees also received bonuses and life insurance. The company offered it’s employees a library, a casino, and a dining room which sold food for cost. In addition, the company offered it’s workers a reading room and a theater for lectures and theatrical performances. Now we know where Google and other employee friendly companies got some of their ideas from. Printing on the reverse of this postcard mentions that this postcard is an “Oranotypie” and also lists the name “A. G. Steglitz”. An oranotype is a trade name for a type of glossy real photo postcard published by NPG at the beginning of the 20th century. These cards are hand colored. I am unsure if Steglitz was a postcard publisher or a photographer. I have seen postcard aficionados refer to him as both a photographer and a publisher. My guess is that most of these “experts” are as unsure as I am about his role in producing postcards. 

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