BETTY BRONSON: BEAUTIFUL ACTRESS BEST KNOWN FOR PLAYING PETER PAN IN THE 1924 SILENT FILM

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This vintage real photo postcard features American actress Betty Bronson (1906-1971).She began her career in silent films and later appeared in sound films and television. This postcard was published by Ross Verlag and is part of a series (1095/1). At the time when this postcard was released, Miss Bronson was working for Paramount Film. She appears to be quite young when she sat for this portrait. She moved to California as a teenager determined to start an film acting career. She landed a bit part at age 16 and a year later she was interviewed by the author of  Peter Pan (J M Barrie) and chosen to play the lead role in the film version which was released in 1924. Gaining this part was quite an accomplishment considering more seasoned actresses including Gloria Swanson and Mary Pickford sought the role. She became became lifelong friends with two members of the Peter Pan cast (Mary Brian and Esther Ralson). Miss Bronson had major roles in the silent films Ben Hur (1925) and a Kiss for Cinderella (1925). Betty Bronson made a successful transition into talkies. She co-starred with Al Jolson in the sound film, The Singing Fool (1928). In 1933 she took about a four year break from actingto marry a wealthy North Carolinian named Ludwig Lauerhass. While she was filming Peter Pan, Douglas Fairbanks Jr. developed a crush on her. The IMDb reports that Bronson had 41 film and television appearances during her career (1922-1971). Included in her television career were roles in Run For Your Life and My Three Sons. Overall, it is reported that Betty Bronson never lived up to her original promise. She was expected to be a major competitor to Mary Pickford but it is thought that her roles after Peter Pan were not effective vehicles to showcase her talent and to help her rise to superstardom. The YouTube clip below shows Miss Bronson in her role as Peter Pan.                                                                                                             The second postcard offers another portrait of Betty Bronson. The postcard was published by Ross Verlag and has the logo of Paramount Pictures. This postcard shows her in a movie role but the movie title is unidentified.                                                                                                            The third postcard is a portrait of Miss Bronson that was published by Iris Verlag as part of a series (#504). Iris Verlag was the most important Austrian publisher of film star postcards. It operated from Vienna during the 1920’s and 1930’s. The film star looks quite beautiful and is wearing a fancy dress, long white gloves, and a tiara. Imbedded in the photo of the actress is a logo for “Fanamet Films”.  Fanamet was an Austrian film distribution company.

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BEAUTIFUL ANGLO-GERMAN FILM ACTRESS LILLIAN HARVEY

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This vintage real photo postcard (postcard 1) 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 (postcard 2) 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.

The third postcard (postcard 3) presents Miss Harvey is a sexy pose. Note her dark gloves and large hoop earrings. The postcard was published by Ross Verlag and is part of a series (no. 4288/1). Note the advertising logo for the German film company UFA, located on the bottom right hand corner of the image.

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ELISABETH PINAJEFF: EUROPEAN ACTRESS, ARTIST, AND PART OF THE “BALLETS ROSES SCANDAL”

This vintage real photo postcard features German actress Elisabeth Pinajeff (1900-1995). In the 1920’s and 1930’s she starred in French and German films. Her first sound film was in 1929. The actress was born in Russia. Her father was an architect and her mother was a countess. In the 1910’s Pinajeff studied drama in the Ukraine. When she was 19 years old she married an engineer and his career required the couple to move to Germany. In 1929, Pinajeff met Austrian photographer, Alex Binder. Binder will be a familiar name to those that follow the cabinet card gallery. Many of his beautiful postcard portraits of theater stars can be found in the gallery (you can see his photos by placing his name, “Binder”, in the search box).  Binder had the largest photo studio in Europe during the 1920’s. Pinajeff modeled for Binder and later, married him. The couple lived in Paris. There is some debate about the years that they were together.The IMDb reports that Pinajeff appeared in 35 films between 1922 and 1938. After appearing in a bit part in a 1938 film about Rasputin, she retired from acting and focused on her painting. In 1950, Pinajeff became a friend of Andre Le Troquer, a “very connected” lawyer and politician. The couple surrounded themselves with political, artistic, and intellectual leaders.   In 1959, she was involved in a scandal known as the “Ballets Roses Scandal”. She was one of more than twenty people enmeshed in the scandal. She was accused of organizing erotic ballets with underaged girls for an “elite” audience. Some prospective show biz mother’s had consented to their daughters participation in this ballet with hopes that it would help launch their performance career.  Although Pinajeff was not convicted. Miss Pinajeff had artistic talent. She painted a number of famous personalities including the British Queen. She successfully exhibited a number of her paintings. This postcard is somewhat risque in that the photograph shows Miss Pinajeff’s bare back. The actress was a very pretty woman and had an engaging smile. This postcard was published by Russ Verlag and is part of a series (no. 2060/1). The photographer was the aforementioned Alex Binder and the photo was taken in Berlin.

RISQUE PORTRAIT OF FILM STAR INEZ VAN BREE (PHOTO BY ESTEEMED PHOTOGRAPHER: ERNST SCHNEIDER)

This vintage real photo postcard is one of the more risque Ross Verlag postcards in the Cabinet Card Gallery. The postcard is of German origin and is part of a series (no. 1581/1). It was published between 1927 and 1928. Preliminary research found little information about Inez Van Bree. A defunct University of Toronto website labels Miss Bree as a silent movie siren/star. The photographer of this portrait appears to be Ernst Schneider and the photograph was taken in Berlin, Germany. Research about Mr Schneider yielded a great deal of information. He was considered to be one of the most celebrated studio photographers in Berlin during three decades (1900’s, 1910’s, 1920’s. He photographed many celebrities from the world of theater, opera, circuses, and film. He was also one of the most prominent fashion photographers in Berlin. In addition, he was well known for his nude photography and he published books showcasing his work in this domain. Sometime around 1908 Schneider began working with postcard publishers “Rotophot” and “Neue Photographische Gesellschaft” (NPG). In 1919 he began working with Ross Verlag.

 

 

 

 

TWO PORTRAITS OF GERMAN ACTRESS LISSI ARNA (ONE IMAGE PHOTOGRAPHED BY THE CELEBRATED MANASSE STUDIO)

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These vintage real photo postcards feature German actress Lissi Arna (1900-1964). She is known for the films “Harbor Drift” (1929, The Squeeker (1931), and Under the Lantern (1928). She appeared in German silent films and entered US films in 1930. She was an exotic femme fatale in German silents She was married to a doctor in 1939 and the couple lived in Venezuela until his death. She appeared in Hollywood in German language versions of American films. She was in the US for only one year and failed to get significant offers from any of the major studios. In the sound era she gradually lost her popularity and was confined to supporting roles through the 1930’s. The IMDb credits her with 62 films between 1915 and 1962. View the YouTube video below to see Lissi Arne appearing in “Under the Lantern” (1928).The first postcard was published by Ross Verlag as part of a series (no. 4199/2). Miss Arna’s portrait was taken by the Manasse studio which was located in Vienna, Austria. There also was a branch of the studio in Berlin. The Manasse studio was in existence between about 1922 and 1938. The studio was run by Olga Solarics (1896-1969) and her husband Adorja’n von Wlassics (1893-1946). Olga was known for her interest in photographing nudes. The studio flourished in Vienna during the 1930’s. Many of the portraits taken by the studio had an erotic flavor. The studio attracted some of the leading ladies of film and theater. The studio was also involved in producing photographs for advertising. This husband and wife team of photographers were very talented and very successful in their profession.

The second portrait postcard features a somewhat risque photograph of Miss Arna. The photograph reveals her bare back and shoulders as well as as a bare view above her breast. She is flashing a sly smile and smoking a cigarette at the end of a cigarette holder. The photo was taken by German photographer Kiesel in Berlin, Germany. The second postcard (no. 3091/1) is part of the same series as the first postcard. This postcard is published by Ross Verlag (Berlin, Germany).

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PORTRAIT OF PROVOCATIVE GERMAN SILENT FILM STAR RUTH WEYHER

This vintage real photo postcard features German silent film actress, Ruth Weyher (1901-1983). She was born in Neumark, East Prussia, Germany.  Weyher grew up in Danzig where she studied painting until she switched to a conservatory to study singing. An illness robbed her of her singing voice and in 1919 she travelled to Berlin where she studied a Max Reinhardt’s theatre school. Reinhardt was a well known director and producer. She appeared in 48 films between 1920 and 1930. She starred in director Georg Wilhelm Pabst’s film “Secrets of the Soul” (1926). She also produced a film in 1929. During her career, Weyher only appeared in a few sound movies and she abandoned acting after marrying publisher Hans Geiselberger in 1932. It is reported that she retired at her husband’s request. The video clip below features Miss Weyher in her appearance in the film “Shadows: A Nightly Hallucination” (1923). The film title translation was done by “google translate”. Weyher’s costar in this film was Austrian stage and film actor Fritz Kortner (1892-1970). A review of this film describes Weyher as “beautiful and passionate”.  Ruth Weyher’s appearance in this film can be described as risque or provocative. One of the themes of this film is infidelity. This postcard was published by Ross Verlag and is part of a series (no. 3529/1). The portrait of Miss Weyher was taken by Alex Schmoll, a photographer located in Berlin, Germany. There is Italian print on the reverse of the postcard that roughly translates as “Exclusive sale publisher: Ballerini and Fratini, Firenze (Florence, Italy). A bit of research reveals that the publishing house, Ballerini & Fratini Montespertoli began in Florence in the year 1912.

BEAUTIFUL SILENT FILM STAR XENIA DESNI AND HER JUMBO TEDDY BEAR

This vintage real photo postcard features actress Xenia Desni (1894-1962) snuggling with a large teddy bear. Miss Desni is beautiful and this photograph is a bit risque for it’s era. She has pretty eyes and a wonderful smile. Miss Desni was born in the Russian Empire and she and her family fled the Russian Revolution to Constantinople, which was in the Ottoman Empire. She began acting and dancing in vaudeville there and than moved to Berlin where she became involved in films. She began her career by appearing in the movie “Sappho” (1921). This was followed by a number of other film successes. The IMDb credits her with 33 acting roles between 1921 and 1940. She is most identified with “Leap Into Life” (1924),  “Der rosa Diamant” (1926)  and “The Tower of Silence” (1925). The introduction of sound movies, (she only appeared in one)  led to the death of her career. Xenia Desni was the mother of Tamara Desni, a star of British films in the 1930’s and 1940’s. The Cabinet Card Gallery has a photograph of Tamara Desni (1913-2008) which can be seen by placing her name in this blog’s search box. The photographer of this portrait is the Willinger studio which was located in Vienna. Laszlo Josef Willinger (1909=1989) was a Jewish-German photographer known for his portrait photography of movie stars and celebrities. This area of concentration began in 1937. His mother, Margaret Willinger was also a photographer. Her work included photographs of theatrical stars. Laszlo Willinger established studios in Paris (1929) and Berlin (1931). At the age of 23, he left Berlin (1933) with the rise of Adolf Hitler and relocated to Vienna, Austria. He began photographing celebrities including Hedy Lamarr, Josephine Baker, Marlene Dietrich, Sigmund Freud, and Carl Jung. Willinger was invited by studio photographer, Eugene Robert Richee to move to the United States and in 1937, he settled in Los Angeles, California. He then opened a photo studio in Hollywood and sold many of his photographs to magazines and other periodicals. He produced many magazine covers of popular stars. Among the stars he photographed were Clark Gable, Joan Crawford and Fred Astaire. Interestingly, toward the end of his career, he was accused of stalking some celebrities, including Charlie Chaplin. This postcard was published by Ross Verlag of Berlin, Germany and is part of a series (no. 1661/1).

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.

The fourth postcard portrait of Miss Daniels is from a series (No. 37) called “Les Vedettes de Cinema (Stars of the Cinema)”. The postcard includes the logo of Paramount Studios. This real photo postcard is published by Cinemagazine and was produced in France.

 

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THREE PORTRAITS OF PRETTY EUROPEAN STAGE ACTRESS LIANE HAID

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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.                                                                               The third real photo postcard, seen above, was produced by publisher Ross Verlag (Berlin). Once again, Liane Haid appears beautiful in her portrait. The photograph was taken by the Ring studio in Vienna, Austria. A logo for Micco-Film appears in the lower right hand corner of the postcard. 

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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).