MISS ELSIE COOK – PRETTY PERFORMER

Meet Elsie Cook. I wish there was something I could tell you about her. I assume that she is a performer of some kind. Most likely she is an actress that did not receive much acclaim as my initial research into her background found nothing. Perhaps a visitor to the Cabinet Card Gallery can provide us with some information about this pretty young woman. This vintage real photo postcard was published by Stewart & Woolf. The firm was located in London, England. The postcard is part of a series (115, no. 42). The postcard is in very good condition (see scans).

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MARY PHILBIN – BEAUTIFUL AMERICAN FILM ACTRESS

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mary philbin 1 This vintage real photo postcard portrait features American actress Mary Philbin (1902-1993). She was active in film between 1918 and 1930. One of her most noted film roles was in “The Phantom of the Opera” (1925). She co-starred with Lon Chaney. A number of her roles involved playing the “beauty” in “Beauty and the Beast” type stories . Mary was born in Chicago, Illinois. Her parents were middle-class and of Irish descent. Her mother was convivial but controlling and domineering. She pushed her strong religious beliefs onto Mary. She adored her father who was “quiet, shy, and reserved”. She was very similar, personality-wise, to her dad. She would accompany him to the theater and there she developed a passion for the stage. She pursued dance and played the pipe organ and piano. She lacked a singing  voice, and surprisingly, never received training in acting. Mary’s acting career was launched after she won a beauty contest sponsored by Universal Pictures. The motion picture company promptly signed her to a contract. Her screen debut was in 1921 and during the following year she was named a WAMPAS Baby Star. This prestigious annual award, given by an association of film advertisers, was awarded to thirteen young women each year. These women were predicted to be on the verge of becoming major movie stars. During the 1920’s, Mary’s film career blossomed and she starred in a number of successful films, including “Drums of Love (1920), directed by D. W. Griffith. When “talkies” arrived, she played in a few films and even dubbed her own voice for the sound version of “Phantom of the Opera”. Unfortunately, her voice was considered too “girlish” to be suitable for talking pictures. She retired from the screen in the early 1930’s in order to become a caretaker for her elderly parents. She lived the rest of her life as a recluse. She never married and seldom made public appearances. An exception occurred when she attended the Los Angeles opening of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical version of “Phantom of the Opera”. She died of pneumonia at the age of ninety and is buried in Los Angeles, California. The IMDb reports that Mary appeared in 34 film between 1921 and 1929. She never married.  In 1926 she became engaged to Universal producer, Paul Kohner. When her family learned of the engagement, they were infuriated. They demanded a meeting with Kohner and all went reasonably well until the subject of religion arose. Kohner was Jewish and Mary’s family was Catholic. Mary’s mother was adamant in her belief that Kohner would attempt to convert Mary to Judaism. Paul and Mary informed her parents that no such thing  would happen. An argument developed between Paul and Mary’s parents. She was told by her parents that she would be disowned if she proceeded with her wedding plans. Mary was ambivalent but, in the end, despite still loving Paul, she returned her engagement ring to him. A biographer contends that this traumatic experience is the reason Mary never married.   The youtube video seen below offers a terrific tribute to Mary Philbin. The video was created by Diana Calado (2014). This vintage postcard was published by Ross Verlag, of Berlin, Germany. It is part of a series (no. 968/1). The name of the film distribution company (Filmhaus Bruckmann) can be seen on the bottom right corner of the image. A stamp on the reverse of the postcard indicates that it once was part of a collection belonging to Herman Overeem, of Utrecht, the Netherlands. This vintage postcard is in very good condition (see scans).

 

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PORTRAIT OF ACTRESS GERDA MAURUS AND HER AIREDALE

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cuban milkman 5 The lovely actress seen in this vintage real photo postcard is named Gerda Maurus (1903-1968). She is posed next to a beautiful Airedale terrier. This unusual profile photograph was taken by celebrity photographer Alex Binder. His studio was located in Berlin, Germany. Maurus was active in film and television between 1928 and 1968. She was an Austrian actress of Croatian descent. Maurus was the daughter of an engineer/inventor. She grew up in Vienna and received training as a singer and dancer. She hit the stage at age fifteen. The IMDb biography of Maurus describes her as ” a strikingly beautiful blonde with high cheekbones an expressive blue eyes”. She began her career on the stages of Vienna. She was “discovered” by director Fritz Lang and he cast her in the female lead in the silent film “Spione” (1928). Lang was smitten by maurus and his marriage was destroyed. She then appeared in a number of German films during the Weimar and Nazi eras. Maurus married director Robert A. Stemmie in 1937. He directed her in  “Daphne and the Diplomat” (1937). Like many actresses of her time, her acting career was hurt by the introduction of “talkies”. Further complicating matters was her nebulous association with Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels. This relationship had negative impact on her career after World War II. Due to lack of film offers, Maurus retreated to the German stage. The IMDb filmography of Gerda Maurus lists 33 credits. Here is a side note about Airedales. The first World War increased the popularity of Airedales because they became famous for their bravery on the battlefield. In the US, Presidents Theodore Roosevelt, Calvin Coolidge, and Warren Harding all owned Airedales. In the 1920’s, Airedales became the most popular dog in the US. This postcard was published by Ross Verlag and is part of a series (no. A1320/1). This photo postcard portrait is in very good condition (see scans).

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CAMILLA VON HOLLAY: PRETTY HUNGARIAN SILENT FILM ACTRESS

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water buffalo 3 This vintage real photo postcard features Hungarian actress Camilla von Hollay (1899-1967). She was born in Budapest. Her father was a factory director and as she entered young adulthood her parents tried to steer her into going to medical school. Instead, Camilla pursued acting. She was active in film during the silent film era. IMDb credits her with sixty-eight film credits between 1916 and 1930. Early in her movie career she appeared in films with Bela Lugosi. Later, he became known in the US for his portrayal of Dracula. Camilla was blonde and attractive. Many of her films in the 1920’s were filmed in Germany. Her first acclaimed role was in “The Lightship” (1922). Camilla is quoted as stating that film “offers me the opportunity to live my life, to walk in many different forms, and to see myself in a hundred mirrors of just as many human figures”. It is believed that Camilla’s acting career disappeared with the advent of sound film. It is likely her Hungarian accent was seen by film companies as unsuitable for significant roles. She was married to a journalist. Nothing is known about her post acting life. This portrait postcard was published by Iris Verlag/Amag. Iris Verlag was a popular Austrian postcard producer. Amag (Albrecht & Meister) was a publisher located in Berlin. The company took over Aristophot in 1909. Amag ceased production in 1920. This photo portrait postcard is in excellent condition (see scans).

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PINA MENICHELLI – ITALIAN SILENT FILM STAR RADIATING “DECADENT EROTICISM”

menchelli This vintage real photo postcard is another member of the Cabinet Card Gallery’s collection of international silent film stars. The beautiful actress featured on this postcard is Italian silent film star Pina Menichelli (1890-1984). She began her career in theater and in a number of small film roles. When she appeared in the lead role of “The Fire” (1916), she became elevated to stardom. For the next nine years, Menichelli appeared in many films and became a global star. She frequently appeared in roles where she played the role of a diva. She also showcased her, what wikipedia calls, her “decadent eroticism”. She retired in 1924 at the ripe old age of 34. Menichelli was born in Sicily to parents who were both touring theater actors. Her three siblings also became actors. She began acting as a child. Her theater travels took her to Argentina in 1908 and she married and relocated there. She returned to Italy in 1912 and acted in 35 films between 1913 and 1915. In 1918, one of her films was banned from theaters by Italian censors because Menichelli was “too fascinating” in the film. The IMDb website credits her with 62 film appearances between 1913 and 1925. A YouTube video biography of Miss Menichelli can be seen below. This postcard was published by Alberto Traldi of Milan, Italy. He was a publisher there beginning 1902, and according to one source, he ended his Milan business in 1918. This postcard was part of a series (no. 408). After World War II he returned to publishing postcards, including pin-up and cinema postcards. This vintage postcard portrait is in very good condition (see scans).

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Published in: on February 8, 2019 at 12:00 pm  Leave a Comment  
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YVONNE ARNAUD: BEAUTIFUL FRENCH PIANIST, SINGER, AND ACTRESS

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The pretty woman seen in this vintage real photo postcard is Germaine Yvonne Arnaud (1890-1958). She had a noteworthy career as a pianist, singer, and actress. She was most popular in her native France, as well as Britain. Arnaud was brought up in Paris and at the age of nine, she entered the Paris Conservatory where she studied piano. In 1905 she won a major competition for her skills in playing the piano. For the next six years, she performed with many of the leading orchestras in Europe and America. In 1911, at age 21, she began acting on the stage. Her first lead role was in the musical “The Girl in the Taxi”. After an operation damaged her vocal cords, she switched to acting in plays. She began her transition in the hit farce “Tons of Money” (1922). She played a role in the hit, “A Cuckoo in the Nest” (1925). She played in two Broadway productions; “And So To Bed” (1927) and “Canaries Sometimes Sing” (1930). In the 1930’s and 1940’s, she played dramatic roles in films. The IMDb credits her with 21 film roles between 1920 and 1958, Later in her career, she still performed as a pianist. Britain’s Yvonne Arnaud Theatre was named in her memory. Arnaud was married to actor Hugh McLellan in 1920. She was president of the “League Against Cruel Sports” from 1948 to 1951. Founded in 1924, the league is Britain’s leading charity that aims to stop the persecution, abuse, and killing of animals for sport. For example, the organization campaigns against Bull Fighting and Fox Hunting. Yvonne Arnaud was very popular; she was a sitter in 80 portraits in the collection of Britain’s National Portrait Gallery. The YouTube video below captures Arnaud playing piano with an orchestra conducted by John Barbirolli. The music was recorded in 1932. She is playing “Valse Caprice Op.76” which was composed by Camille Saint-Saens (1835-1921). The French composer was unique compared to his contemporaries in that he wrote music in many genres including chamber music, opera, symphonies, sacred choral music, concertos, and solo piano. He had many musical talents. evidenced by the fact that he was a composer, conductor, organist, and pianist. This vintage postcard highlights the beauty of Miss Arnaud. Note her romantic headdress. Her photograph was taken by Lucien Walery, a celebrated photographer who operated a studio in Paris. He was known for his portraits of actresses and cabaret dancers from the city’s music halls. He was well known for his portraits of Mata Hari and Josephine Baker. Much of his work was done in the genre of nude/erotic photography. He photographed the beautiful women of Paris between the early 1900’s and the 1920’s. This hand color tinted postcard is part of a series (no. 5111). The postcard has a postmark of 1907. The postcard has great clarity and is in excellent condition (see scans)..

 

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ANNY ONDRA: BEAUTIFUL AND TALENTED ACTRESS AND WIFE OF BOXING CHAMPION MAX SCHMELING

This risque vintage real photo postcard features actress Anny Ondra. The postcard was published by Iris Verlag. The photograph is by Verleih Norbert & Co.. The postcard is part of a series (no. 5446). The photo seen on this postcard captures Ondra in a scene from the movie “Blackmail” (1929). This particular postcard is rare. I have searched extensively and have not been able to locate this particular image elsewhere. Anny Ondra (1903-1987) was a Czech film actress. She was born in Tarnow, Galicia, Austria-Hungary (now Poland). She was active in the movie industry between 1914 and 1957. She acted in Czech, Austrian, and German films in the 1920’s. She appeared in some British dramas, most notably, Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Manxman” (1929) and “Blackmail” (1929). The IMDb credits Ondra with over 90 acting credits between 1914 and 1957. She appeared in more than 40 films in the sound era. However, her career in British films was hurt by her thick accent. Check out the youtube video below. In this “test film”, Hitchcock “interviews” Ondra and makes her visibly uncomfortable and embarrassed by asking her very personal questions. She was married to German boxing champion Max Schmeling between 1933 and 1987. Schmeling was the world champion between 1930 and 1932. He is  well known for his fights with African American fighter, Joe Lewis. Ondra’s father was a Czech, Austro-Hungarian military officer and she grew up in Tarnow, Pula, and Prague. At the early age of seventeen, she acted in the theater as well as in a film. When her family learned that she had acted in a film, they were extremely angry. In fact, she reported that she was given a beating by her father. Post World War I was a time, for many people, that being an actress was akin to being a prostitute. Ondra began to live with her boyfriend (her debut film’s director) but after some time, the relationship ended because she wanted a family and he wanted nothing to do with marriage. In 1933, after a three year romance, Anny married Max Schmeling. She had been in a film with the boxer (“Knock-Out”, 1935). It was a “happy” marriage and the couple remained together until her death in 1987. Ondra and Schmeling were hot names in Nazi Germany. German fascists tried to exploit them in order to popularize their movement. Schmeling was seen as a German superman while Ondra represented the blonde Aryan type. The two celebrities refused to collaborate. Schmeling turned down honors and even helped hide two Jewish children, saving their lives. However, because of Nazi propoganda, many believed that the couple had collaborated. As a result, Schmeling and Ondra suffered financially for their fictional cooperation with the Nazis. Ondra was portrayed in two modern day movies, “Ring of Passion” (1978) and Joe and Max (2002). This vintage postcard is in excellent condition (see scans).

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BRITISH STAGE ACTRESS: MOLLIE LOWELL

Mollie Lowell, a stage actress, is featured in this vintage real photo postcard. According to the Internet Broadway Data Base (IBDB), she appeared in one Broadway play. The play was a musical comedy and entitled “Our Miss Gibbs” (1910). Sketch (1899) reports that Lowell was born in Newcastle-on-tyne and was of Irish descent. She joined the Carl Rosa Opera Company and played small parts. Next, she was signed by George Edwardes and she appeared in “The Geisha” (1896) and “A Greek Slave” (1898). She then had great success in the production of “Her Royal Highness”. Play Pictorial (1906) cites her appearance in “The Beauty of Bath”. This photo postcard, published by Rotary Photo, was part of the Rotary Photographic Series (no.1964B) and was printed in England. The photographer of Miss Lowell’s portrait is listed as Play Pictorial magazine, indicating that the photo likely appeared in that publication.

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