MARY ASTOR : PRETTY FILM, TELEVISION, AND STAGE ACTRESS : TRAUMATIZED BY FAMILY

This vintage real photo postcard features American film, stage, and television actress and musician, Mary Astor (1906-1987). She played many memorable roles but she is most associated with her performance in “The Maltese Falcon” (1941). Astor also wrote five novels and an autobiography. She began her film career as a teenager by appearing in silent movies during the early 1920’s. Her career continued with the introduction of “talkies”. In 1936, Astor’s career was almost ruined by a scandal in which she had an affair with playwright George Kaufman. A custody fight with her ex-husband stigmatized her as being an adulterous wife. She managed to overcome the poor PR and in 1941, won an Academy Award fo Best Supporting Actress in “The Great Lie”.  Astor was born in Quincy, Illinois. Her father was a German teacher and her mother taught drama and elocution. Astor was home schooled by her father who also taught her the piano. In 1919, she sent her photo to a beauty contest in Motion Picture Magazine. She was chosen as a semi finalist. When she was fifteen, she and her family moved to Chicago where she took drama lessons and performed on the stage. She and her family moved to New York City so she could act in motion pictures. A Manhattan photographer asked Astor to pose for him and the resulting photographs led her to be signed by Paramount pictures. In 1921, at age fourteen, she made her film debut. In 1923, she and her family moved to Hollywood. During the filming of one movie, the underage actress was wooed off set by the significantly older actor, John Barrymore. She became a “WAMPAS Baby Star” in 1926. In Hollywood, her controlling parents kept her a virtual prisoner and lived lavishly off her earnings. They gave her a five dollar a week allowance while she was earning 2500 dollars a week. Her father was emotionally and physically abusive. She did not gain control of her salary until she was 26 years old. However, this resulted in her parents suing her for financial support.  In 1928 she married film director Kenneth Hawkes. In 1928, he was killed in a plane crash while filming sequences for a movie. After Astor appeared in a few more movies, she suffered a nervous breakdown related to the loss of her husband. She married the doctor who treated her for her psychiatric illness. By 1933, she had a child, and was seeking a divorce. Her personal life was coming apart at the seams. That is when the aforementioned scandal occurred. She continued to appear in films during the 1930’s but had entered the early stages of alcoholism. By 1949, she entered a sanitarium for alcoholics. In 1951, she experienced her third suicide attempt. Astor’s filmography credits her with 155 film appearances between 1921 and 1964. The IMDb reports that she appeared in two Broadway plays between 1945 and 1954. Astor was a very successful performer but was plagued by problems in her personal life. This photo postcard was published by Picturegoer as part of a series (no.240b). The firm was located in London, England. This postcard is in very good condition (see scans). 

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ETHEL OLIVER : BRITISH STAGE AND SILENT FILM ACTRESS : GAIETY THEATER : RPPC

This vintage real photo postcard features British stage and film actress, Miss Ethel Oliver. She is wearing a costume from one of her performances. Little information is readily available about Miss Oliver. She is listed as being a chorus member in the play at the Gaiety Theater, “The Orchid” (1903), In 1917, Oliver starred in the musical comedy “Pomponette at the Newcastle upon Tyne Theatre Royal. The IMDb reports that she acted in two films; “The Return” (1921) and “A Soul’s Awakening” (1922). Oliver was also a dancer. She was a sitter for twelve portraits in Britain’s National Portrait Gallery. This vintage close-up portrait postcard was published by Philco as part of a series (No.3260 E). This postcard is in very good condition (see scans). 

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DRINA VERCHESI : BRITISH BEAUTY & ACTRESS : ROTARY PHOTO : RISQUE : 1910’s

This vintage real photo postcard features British beauty and actress, Drina Verchesi. This hand-painted postcard captures Miss Verchesi in a risque pose and in a revealing dress. This card is certainly provocative for it’s era. Information about Verchesi is not readily available. A deeper dive into theater sources, will uncover some details of her life. It is safe to bet that she was not a major player on the British stage, but established enough to be featured on this postcard. This card was published by Rotary Photo (no.A526-1). The firm operated in London, England. This postcard is in good condition (see scans). 

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BLANCHE SWEET : SILENT FILM ACTRESS : 161 FILM CREDITS : BY FRED HARTSOOK : 1917

Blanche Sweet (1896-1986) was an American silent film actress. Her mother was a dancer and her father was a wine merchant. Blanche began show business at an early age. At age four she was performing with a touring company with stars, Marie Burroughs and Maurice Barrymore. At age thirteen, she was working at Biograph Studios under contract with D. W. Griffith. She became known as “The Biograph Blonde”. In 1914, Sweet moved to Paramount (Famous Players – Lasky). Paramount had offered her more money than Biograph could pay. During the 1910’s, Sweet appeared in several prominet film roles and kept her place as a popular leading lady. She played in a number of Cecil B. DeMille films. She and Marshall Neilan (actor, director, producer, screen writer) had an affair which led to Neilan obtaining a divorce and marrying young Blanche. She was about 16 years old. The marriage ended in 1929 because Neilan was an alleged philanderer. When “talkies” began, Sweets career suffered causing her to retire in 1930. The IMDb lists 161 film credits in Blanche’s filmography. Her post film career included radio work and non major Broadway roles. When job offers dissipated, she began working in a Los Angeles department store. She later worked with historians and gave lectures about the early days of Hollywood. This photo portrait of Miss Sweet was taken by American photographer, Fred Hartsook (1876-1930). He owned a chain of California studios described as “the largest photographic business in the world” at that time. The photo was taken circa 1917. Hartsook photographed many silent film stars as well as Woodrow Wilson during his Presidency. This vintage postcard’s AZO stamp box indicates that the postcard was published sometime between 1910 and 1930. This postcard is in very good condition (see scans).

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TESSIE HACKNEY : BRITISH STAGE ACTRESS : PHOTO BY RITA MARTIN : (1907)

This vintage real photo postcard features English musical comedy actress, Tessie Hackney (1885-1967). Tessie was the daughter of a butcher. In 1913, she married a Commander in the Royal Navy. She played important roles in “The New Aladdin” (1906), “The Girls of Gottenberg” (1907), “The Hon’ble Phi”l (1908), and “A Persian Princess” (1909). Her sister, Mary Hackney, was also a musical comedy performer. There are two photographs of Tessie Hackney in Britain’s National Portrait Gallery. In one of these images, Hackney appears in the same costume as the one she wears in this postcard. The portrait of Miss Hackney seen on this postcard was taken by famed female celebrity photographer, Rita Martin. This photo postcard is in good condition (see scans).

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FLORENCE TURNER : SILENT FILM STAR : ACTRESS : VITAGRAPH : POSTCARD

This vintage postcard features a portrait of Florence Turner (1885-1946). She was an American silent film actress known as the “Vitagraph Girl”. She was born in New York City. She began performing on the stage at age three, thanks to a zealous stage mom. In 1906 she was signed by Vitagraph studios to a film contract. She made her movie debut in “How to Cure a Cold” (1907). She became the studio’s leading box office draw. As time went by, more actresses became well known throughout the movie industry. Turner’s popularity waned and in 1913 she moved to England and began performing in music halls. Part of her schtick was impersonating celebrities of the day. Apparently, she had much talent as an impersonator. While in England, she set up her own production company (Turner Films). She wrote screenplays and directed films. In 1924 she returned to the US and pursued acting. She was no longer seen as a film star and she played supporting roles during the 1930’s.  Turner has 197 credits to her name, between 1907 and 1943. This postcard was published by the Ess an Ess Photo Company, located in New York City. (SOLD)

MISS EMMY WEHLEN : PRETTY THEATRE AND SILENT FILM STAR : BROADWAY : RPPC

This vintage real photo postcard features German actress, Emily “Emmy” Wehlen (1887-1977). She was a Edwardian musical comedy and silent film actress. She retired from acting at a young age (early 30’s), Wehlen received her musical training at the Mannheim Conservatory. She then joined the Thalia-Theatre and performed in musical comedies in several German cities. She was then invited to London and was considered as a possible successor to Lily Elsie. Wehlen played the lead role in “The Merry Widow” (1909). Later that year she appeared in the hit musical “The Dollar Princess” which ran for 428 performances. Next stop was New York, where she appeared in four Broadway plays between 1911 and 1915. Shortly after her last Broadway appearance, Wehlen left the stage and pursued a film career.  She appeared in over twenty films between 1915 and 1920. “Everybody’s Magazine (1911) reported that Wehlen was very pretty and very graceful. Her acting and voice were also praised. In addition, the article stated that “she has the indescribable charm of personality” and that audiences liked her and wanted her to never leave the stage during a production. Miss Wehlen’s photograph on this postcard was taken by celebrity studio, Foulsham & Banfield. The card was published by Rotary Photo as part of a series (no.11717H). This vintage postcard portrait is in good condition (see scans).

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MARIE WAINWRIGHT: PORTRAIT OF A THEATRE ACTRESS (PHOTOGRAPHED BY SARONY)

This cabinet card features Marie Wainwright (1853-1923), an American stage actress and singer. She also appeared in three silent films between 1918  and 1920. Most of her fame came from the Victorian stage. She was born in Philadelphia and as educated in Paris, France. She received her acting training in Paris.This  photographic portrait is by Napoleon Sarony’s New York City  studio. Sarony was a famous celebrity photographer. This image shows Wainwright wearing a white gown and bonnet. A copy of this photograph can be found in Wikipedia’s entry for Wainwright. She is holding a book and rosary beads. This cabinet card portrait has some cornerwear and a slight curl. The photo is on thinner than usual card stock. Overall, this photograph is in good condition (see scans).

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Published in: on May 23, 2022 at 12:00 pm  Leave a Comment  
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LORRAINE DREUX : PRETTY STAGE ACTRESS : DIES YOUNG AND TRAGICALLY : CABINET CARD

This cabinet card is a portrait of theatre actress, Lorraine Dreux. The  image is part of the Newsboy Series (#385) and was published in New York City. The Newsboy series was used for advertising purposes by the Newsboy Tobacco Company. Celebrity photographs were given away as premiums upon the sale of tobacco products. Ms. Dreux looks like she ran through the woods in order to arrive at the photography studio in a timely fashion. She has twigs and leaves on her head and even is wearing a necklace of branches around her shoulders. It seems she is modeling “the natural” look. Her eyes are looking upward, as if to say, “Am I really wearing sticks and leaves?”. Who was Lorraine Dreux? The Illustrated America (1893) describes her as “young and pretty, with soft dark eyes, a tremulous little mouth, and a dazzling complexion”. She was born in Marquette, Michigan, of well to do parents. Her father did a great deal of business in the East and she spent much time on the banks of the Hudson River in New York. She was educated at home by a governess supervised by Dreux’s beautiful mother. She decided that she wanted to be an actress while in her early teens. Her parents reluctantly gave her permission and her first experience acting occurred while she was in London, England, with her mother. She was engaged by Mr Charles Wyndham to play comedy parts in London stage shows. She next joined the London Globe Theatre Stock Company playing sentimental roles. She then joined an English traveling theatre company. She soon returned to America and appeared in a number of plays, including “Ninety Days” with William Gillette. The article closes with the prediction that Dreux would be a successful actress in America because she possessed both beauty and talent. The New York Times (1894) reported on Dreaux’s appearance in “Lem Kettle” at the Bijou theatre. She also appeared in “Rush City” (1894) which was staged in Brooklyn (New York), and also in “Nance Oldfield” (1896) in New York. Dreux appeared in one Broadway production, “The Spectator” (1896). The New York Dramatic Mirror (1908) reported the tragic death of Lorraine Dreux. She was described as a well known and capable leading women of many stock companies outside of New York City. She died in New York’s Bellvue Hospital at age 35. The article reports that she “had fallen on evil days” and was “too proud to let her friends know of her plight”. She let an illness go till it turned  into acute pneumonia which led to her death. Her last two engagements were in Worcester, Massachusetts and Rochester, New York. She received excellent reviews for her acting in both productions. However, her wardrobe was stolen and she was criticized for the way she dressed for her part in Rochester. She returned home “down hearted and discouraged” and sick, penniless and homeless. She met an old friend on the streets of New York who took her home to be fed and cared for but her condition worsened. A collection was made from other actors and actresses and the money was used to admit her to Bellvue Hospital where she died. Aid from the Actors Fund paid for her funeral and burial at Evergreen Cemetery. This cabinet card is in very good condition (see scans).           

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MISS WATT : PERFORMER AT LA SCALA : PHOTO BY WALERY : FANCY COSTUME : RPPC

This vintage real photo postcard features performer, Miss Watt.. The title on the card indicates that Miss Watt performed at the La Scala in Paris, France. Miss Watt was photographed in costume. This photo portrait was taken by Walery at his Paris studio. He was a well known and talented celebrity photographer. The card is in very good conditon (see scans). 

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