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).

 

BEAUTIFUL ANGLO-GERMAN FILM ACTRESS LILLIAN HARVEY

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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.

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                                                              TOP POSTCARD

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                                                                SECOND POSTCARD 

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.

PORTRAIT OF BEAUTIFUL FILM ACTRESS: MILDRED DAVIS

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This vintage real photo postcard features film actress Mildred Davis (1901-1969). Mildred Hillary Davis appeared in many of Harold Lloyd’s (1893-1971) classic silent comedy films. She eventually became Lloyd’s wife. Davis was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She wanted to be an actress and when old enough, she went to California seeking film roles. She was blonde and petite, measuring just 5 feet tall. She has been described as sweet and perky, with a flair for comedy. She was able to secure several small parts and was noticed by film director/producer Hal Roach. Roach brought her to the attention of comedian Harold Lloyd who was seeking a replacement for his leading lady, Bebe Daniels (an image of Miss Daniels can be found in the Cabinet Card Gallery). Lloyd casted Davis in his short comedy “From Hand to Mouth” (1919). This began a partnership that resulted in them starring together in fifteen films. Mildred Davis’s filmography includes approximately 36 films between 1916 and 1949. A few of her popular films include “An Eastern Westerner” (1920), “Get Out and Get Under” (1920), and “Safety Last” (1923), The film couple developed a “real life” partnership when they married in 1923. Davis only appeared in one film after the couple tied the knot. The couple had three children. Biographical information reveals they had a relatively strong marriage. In later life she struggled with depression, and drinking problems. Davis was close friends with actresses Marion Davies and Colleen Moore. Mildred Davis died in 1969 . This real photo portrait postcard was published by Ross Verlag of Berlin, Germany. The postcard is part of a series (no. 1254/1). Paramount Film is credited on the front of the postcard. The “You Tube” link below will take you to a tribute to Harold Lloyd and Mildred Davis. The video was created by Diana Calado in 2013.

 

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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. 

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                                  REVERSE OF BOTTOM POSTARD

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.

 

 

AN ADORABLE LITTLE GIRL AND HER GIANT RABBIT (VINTAGE REAL PHOTO POSTCARD)

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This real photo postcard features an adorable little girl hugging a giant toy rabbit. The rabbit appears very life like, save it’s size. The young girl exhibits an expression that looks more like fear than than affection. The postcard was published by Rotophot Berlin (RPH). Rotophot made it’s debut in Berlin, Germany around the turn of the century (1900). The company had other European offices including London and Budapest. They published many different postcard topics including stage stars. Many of their early postcards were tinted. Eventually Rotophot morphed into “Ross Verlag” a postcard company that collectors know for the many postcards they produced featuring actors and actresses. The postcard’s postmark indicates that it was mailed in 1907. It is addressed to someone in Tuscany, Italy.

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Published in: on June 22, 2016 at 12:00 pm  Comments (1)  
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PORTRAIT OF PRETTY ACTRESS TAMARA DESNI AND A LIFELIKE DOLL (VINTAGE REAL PHOTO POSTCARD)

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The pretty subject of this vintage real photo postcard is actress Tamara Desni (1910-2008). She has an exotic appearance. She was a German born daughter of a Ukrainian born silent film actress named Xenia Desni (1894-1962). Tamara begin her stage and film career as a child in Berlin, Germany. She also appeared in several British made films in the 1930’s and 1940’s.  She also starred in German films. In 1931 she had a major role in the operetta “White Horse Inn” which appeared in London. It was a spectacular hit at the Coliseum Theater. She next appeared in another leading role at the Coliseum in “Casanova”. She then had success in the British films “Falling For You (1933)”, “Forbidden Territory (1934)”, “Jack Ahoy (1935)”, and “Dark World (1935). Desni also played a supporting role in “Fire over England (1937)” which starred Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh. She continued her film career through 1950. Tamara Desni’s social life must have been quite interesting. She was married five times. She must have learned from her four mistakes because her fifth marriage lasted half a century and only ended with her husband’s death. Tamara Desni appears in this postcard holding a life-like doll. Desni is flashing a beautiful smile. The photograph was taken by Becker & Maass of Berlin, Germany. The postcard was published by Ross Verlag and was part of a series (No. 6346/1). The company printed real photo postcards of excellent quality. Some consider their portrait photos the finest movie/theater star postcard portraits ever published.

HERITO: A PORTRAIT OF MLLE HERO (THEATER ACTRESS)

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This vintage real photo postcard features French glamour star Herito (Mlle Hero). She was a celebrated actress and dancer of her era. Although she was a popular subject of photo postcards, this particular postcard is not very common. The postcard was published by Rotophot Berlin (RPH). Rotophot made it’s debut in Berlin, Germany around the turn of the century (1900). The company had other European offices including London and Budapest. They published many different postcard topics including stage stars. Many of their early postcards were tinted. Eventually Rotophot morphed into “Ross Verlag” a postcard company that collectors know for the many postcards they produced featuring actors and actresses.

 

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Published in: on March 16, 2016 at 4:02 pm  Leave a Comment  
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