ISABEL JAY : PRETTY ENGLISH OPERA SINGER AND ACTRESS

This vintage real photo postcard features English opera singer and actress, Isabel Jay (1879-1927). She was well known for her performances in soprano roles of the Savoy Operas with the D’Oyly Carte Opera Company and in Edwardian musical comedies. Isabel was a very active performer during the time picture postcard collecting was at it’s peak. She was photographed for more than 400 different postcards. There was great demand for cards with her image. Isabel studied piano and voice at the Royal Academy of Music prior to joining the D’Oyly Carte Opera Company in 1897. She immediately was given principal singing roles and by 1899, she became the company’s leading soprano.  Some of her comic opera leading roles included “The Rose of Persia”, “The Pirates of Penzance”, and the “Emerald Isle”. In 1902 she left the company after getting married. Her groom was African explorer and soldier, Henry Shepherd Cavendish and the pair were divorced by 1906. I guess Cavendish really was an explorer. Isabel was the first of his five wives. Settling down was apparently not in Mr Cavendish’s repetoire. The West End stage beckoned Jay in 1903. She starred in eleven musicals until retiring in 1911 at 31 years of age. She sang before King Edward Vll and Queen Alexandra in 1905. The Queen gave her a brooch. Isabel was born in London. Her father was an insurance officer. Her great-grandfather was a musician and composer associated with the Royal Academy of Music. She gave musical recitals by the time she was twelve years old. Isabel made a number of recordings between 1900 and 1906. Most of the songs were from her early musical comedies. Her vocal ability was considered top notch. It was thought that she could have sung Grand Opera, if that was her desire. In 1927, she died at age 47 in Monte Carlo in while on a cruise with her second husband, Frank Curzon. He was a successful actor and theatre manager. Curzon served as a mentor to Isabel. The Youtube video below captures Miss Jay performing “My Heart’s At Your Feet” (1904). This postcard was published by Rotary Photo. The card is a part of the Rotary Photographic Series (no. 4832 A). The photo was taken by the Foulsham & Banfield studio. Foulsham & Banfield were well known celebrity photographers. Frank Foulsham and A. C. Banfield operated a studio from the 1900’s through the 1920’s. This vintage postcard is in very good condition (see scans).

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isabel jay pc 2

OLGA TSCHECHOWA : PROLIFIC RUSSIAN-GERMAN ACTRESS : FRIENDS WITH HITLER, GORING, AND GOEBBELS : WORLD WAR II SPY?

This risque vintage real photo postcard features Russian-German actress, Olga Tschechowa (1897-1980). Her father was a railway engineer who became Russia’s Minister of Railways. She was the niece of Anton Chekov’s wife. She went to school and studied art and literature at an art school in St. Petersburg. . After watching famed actress Eleonora Duse, Olga joined the Moscow Art Theare’s studio. In 1914, while at the school, she met Russian-Jewish actor Mikhail Chekov. He was the nephew of Anton Chekov. She married him the same year and they had a daughter in 1916. In 1917, during the October Revolution, she divorced her husband. It is reported that he had an affair while Olga was pregnant. Olga would marry three more times. She joined a cabaret group and was offered a part in a silent movie. She travelled to Vienna and moved to Berlin in 1920, She continued to perform in films. She was one of the fortunate actresses who successfully made the transition from silent to sound movies. In the 1930’s she became one of the leading actresses of the Third Reich and was admired by Adolf Hitler. Olga was courted by Hermann Goring and Joseph Goebbels. Goebbels introduced her to Hitler in 1933 and she and Hitler became friends. In 1936, she was named “State Actress” of the Third Reich and she was made a German citizen. Olga’s brother was sent from Russia to Germany on a secret mission to assassinate Hitler. Stalin got cold feet and called off the “hit”. The brother ended up in a Nazi concentration camp, but survived the war. At one point, Olga was accused of being a Russian agent in Nazi Germany. Himmler ordered an investigation of Olga by the SS. She was often kept under surveillance by both Nazi and Soviet agents. In 1945, Himmler planned to arrest her but Hitler intervened. Olga survived the war through lying, acting, and disguise. She protected her daughter from the concentration camps by hiding the fact that she had a Jewish father. At the war’s end, Olga was arrested by the Red Army and brought to Moscow for a debriefing. She was interrogated for two months and then taken to Berlin to assist the Soviet Army. She established herself in East Berlin. She played in dramas but preferred comedies.  Olga was very successful in the film business,. Her filmography reveals that she has 138 credits as an actor, director, and producer between the years of 1917 and 1974. After the World War II, she lived in Soviet occupied Berlin and in 1949 she moved to Munich, Bavaria. In Munich she started a cosmetics company. Simultaneously she continued to act in more than 20 films.   She published a book of memoirs and retired from acting in the 1970’s. In 1966, her daughter died in a plane crash. Olga suffered from depression and alcohol abuse. She died in Munich and just before she died, she had her granddaughter bring her a glass of champagne, Her last words were purported to be “Life is beautiful”. This postcard was published by Ross Verlag and is part of a series (no. 3040/1). The front of the card has the logo for UFA, a German film company. This vintage portrait postcard is uncommon and in excellent condition. 

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ALICE DE WINTON : SOPHISTICATED AND BEAUTIFUL ENGLISH ACTRESS (C. 1905)

This vintage real photo postcard features British actress, Alice de Winton (1870-1941). She was born and died in the city of London. Her sister, Dora de Winton was also an actress. Alice de Winton was a very popular stage actress. She appeared on Broadway in “The Man from Blankley’s” (1903). De Winton was beautiful and sophisticated. She also had a film career. She appeared in many drama films. In 1912 she played a role in Cecil Hepworth Film Companys “The Fairy Doll’. Other notable appearances included “Lady Windermere’s Fan” (1916) and “The Bachelor’s Club (1921). De Winton also was a film script writer. The IMDB credits her with 24 film appearances between 1913 and 1921. The National Portrait Gallery has two cabinet card photographs of Miss de Winton in their collections. Both images were photographed by the Elliott and Fry studio in the 1890’s. This vintage postcard was published by Frederick Hartmann. His postcard publishing company was headquartered in London. He was active in the UK between 1902 and 1909. It is thought that he produced the first divided back card in the world. His postcards were printed in Saxony (Germany) because of the country’s advanced printing industry. He produced view cards from all over England and imported glamour cards from the European continent. He was the English distributor for Trenkler & Company postcards. In 1907, Hartmann partnered with Christian Linck. The business went bankrupt that same year (1907). This vintage portrait postcard is in very good condition (see scans).

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CARMEN DE FOYA : PRETTY SPANISH DANCER : COURTED BY A KING (1906)

The pretty woman in this vintage real photo postcard is the Spanish dancer, Carmen De Foya. “The Sketch: A Journal of Art and Activity (1905) reported on the De Foyas “consderable grace and skill” when she performed at the Alhambra theater in London, England. Her photo accompanied the article. “The San Francisco Call” (1905) labelled her a “famous Spanish Dancer” and announced her London appearance. The newspaper also added  that when De Foya performed in Berlin, she danced at a function attended by the Kaiser. The German leader not only complimented De Foya, but also gave her diamond earrings. It is reported that the pair had an interesting exchange about marriage. When De Foya stated she wanted to get married, the Kaiser suggested that she marry an Englishman because they make the best husbands. “The Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News” (1905) described De Foya’s act as “poetry in motion”. “The Esoteric Curiosa” (2014) tells a racy story about Miss De Foya. It seems Spain’s King Alfonso XIII nearly went to “the limit of foolishness” over “little Carmen de Foya”. She “knew how to make eyes at a King without getting into trouble”. One night at the Madrid Opera, she kicked her satin toes right at him. The next day King Alfonso sent her flowers and a card. The card said “The loveliest flowers of Spain, to Spain’s loveliest” The King was a known womanizer and he often acted on impulse. In an effort to avoid scandal, Defoya left the next day for Paris. Another version of this story has the two romantically linked. The photograph of Miss De Foya seen on this postcard, was taken by Leopold Reutlinger, a very well respected talented photographer based in Paris. One of his specialties was theatrical photography. The postcard was published by Societe Industrielle de Photograpie (SIP) of Rueil, France. The card is part of a series (no. 1309). The postmark indicates it was stamped in Arente (Italy) in the year 1906.This vintage postcard is in very good condition (see scans).

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MISS MADGE TEMPLE : ACTRESS, VOCALIST, AND MUSIC HALL COMEDIENNE OF THE ENGLISH STAGE

The adorable stage actress featured in this vintage photo postcard is Madge Temple (1875/80-1943). She was an English actress, vocalist, and music hall comedienne. Temple’s first appearance in pantomime was at West London’s, Lyric Theatre, at Christmas in 1900. She then went on tour and in 1905, she began playing on the variety stage. She then successfully toured music hall theatres with such songs as “Come , Be My Rainbow”, “He’s a Very Old Friend of Mine”, and “I’m Looking for Mr. Wright”. In 1909 and 1910 she made a series of of recordings for Pathe. She was a popular performer on the British stage and became a star in Australia when she toured there in 1913-1914. Madge Temple was married to Herman Darewski (1883-1947),  a successful composer of many popular songs.  The pair had at least one child. The story of Neville Lawrence Darewski is told in a book entitled “SAS Italian Job: The Secret Mission to Storm a Forbidden Nazi Fortress”. He was known as “Major Temple”, adopting his mother’s last name as his nom de guerre. He was a member of a an elite “Special Duty” unit and was involved in secret missions during World War II. He was a member of Churchill’s “Ministry for Ungentlemanly Warfare”. In 1943 he was dropped behind enemy lines in Italy.  He commanded a unit of five hundred Italian partisans. The group did a great deal of damage to the Italian and German military in Italy. They attacked a airbase and destroyed eighty-nine Italian planes. Unfortunately, Major Temple did not survive the war. He was killed in a truck accident as he was trying to escape the German army which after much time and effort, had surrounded his unit. This postcard is postmarked 1907 in Kilburn which is likely the Kilburn that is a section of London. The photographer of this portrait of Madge Temple is Ian Douglas Campbell-Gray. He is associated with ten portraits in the United Kingdom’s National Portrait Gallery. The British Journal of Photography (1910) printed a photograph of a commercial truck that advertised Campbell Gray’s photo studio. His creative flair is evident because the back half of the truck looked exactly like a camera. This postcard has a message which discusses the photograph on it’s front. The writer apologizes about her inability to find a photo card of “G.R.?” and claims that such cards are scarce because the performer was not active when the postcard was written. Could she be referring to “Gaynor Rowland”? This specific Madge Temple photo postcard is uncommon. The postcard is in very good condition (see scans).

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MISS AIME : PRETTY ACTRESS PHOTOGRAPHED BY SAZERAC

This vintage real photo postcard features Miss Aime, a Paris cabaret performer. She is pretty and has a wonderful smile. Preliminary research found no biographical information concerning this actress. The photographer of this image is the Sazerac studio which was located at the “Hotel Prive” in Paris, France. Little information could be located about Mr. Sazerac; but one can easily find real photo postcard portraits of French show girls that were produced by his studio. This postcard is part of a series (N. 829 Th. 93) and is in very good condition (see scans).

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Published in: on December 25, 2019 at 12:00 pm  Leave a Comment  
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KATHLEEN COURTNEY AT SEVENTEEN YEARS OF AGE: PRETTY STAGE ACTRESS (1905)

This vintage real photo postcard features stage actress Kathleen Courtney. Preliminary research yielded little information about this pretty theatre actress indicating that she was likely a minor player. However, Britain’s National Portrait Gallery has five photographs of Miss Courtney in their collection. Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News (1901) mentions that Kathleen Courtney, at age thirteen, understudied for adult actress, Ellaline Terriss in a theatre production. Tattler: An Illustrated Journal of Society Drama and Sport (1917) reports that Courtney was appearing in “Maid of the Mountains” at Daly’s theatre. These two articles disclose that Kathleen Courtney began as a child actress and that her career lasted at least 16 years. Given that we know that Kathleen Courtney was thirteen years of age in 1901, we can extrapolate that she was about seventeen years old at the time of this photo. More extensive research is required to illuminate the details of Courtney’s personal and professional life. This postcard was published by the Rapid Photo Company as part of a series (no. 1363). The company existed between 1901 and 1910. It was located in London. The company is best known for their portraits of actresses. The card was printed in London, England. The 1905 postmark is from the town of Milnrow, which is located in Greater Manchester, England. The recipient of the card lived in Blackpool, a seaside resort on the Irish Sea coast of England.

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MISS ALEX: PARISIAN ENTERTAINER : PHOTOGRAPHED BY LUCIEN WALERY (1903)

This vintage real photo postcard was mailed in 1903 and features Miss Alex, a lesser known actress or dancer of the Belle Epoque era. She was quite pretty. Many entertainers such as Miss Alex, were more or less prostitutes or “kept women”. Certainly, not all of these women were involved in such a lifestyle, and it is unknown how Miss Alex supported herself. The “Ambassadeurs”, a Paris music hall, is printed on the top right hand corner of the front of the postcard. Miss Alex was probably part of the Ambassadeur’s company of entertainers. This portrait postcard was photographed by Lucien Walery. He was a celebrated Paris photographer known for his portraits of artists and cabaret dancers from the city’s music halls. He is very well known for his portraits of Mata Hari and Josephine Baker. Walery did a lot of work in the genre of nude/erotic photography. He photographed the beautiful women of Paris between the early 1900’s and the 1920’s. This “risque” postcard is part of the Etoile 11 series and is in good condition (see scans).                                               

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VERA VASILYEVNA KHOLODNAYA : BEAUTIFUL RUSSIAN SILENT FILM STAR : VICTIM OF THE SPANISH FLU

This vintage real photo postcard features Russian actress Vera Vasilyevna Kholodnaya (1893-1919). Sometimes she is referred to as Holodnaja). She was the first star of Russian silent film. The number of films that she appeared in, is unknown. It is estimated the number of appearances is somewhere between fifty and one hundred. It is unfortunate that only five of her films survived the passage of time. She was born in Poltava which was part of the Russian Empire, and is now located in the Ukraine. At the age of two, she moved to Moscow to live with her grandmother. As a child, she fantasized about becoming a classical ballerina. She eventually enrolled in the Bolshoi Theatre ballet school From early childhood, she participated in family theater productions, While attending her school prom to celebrate her graduation she met Vladimir Kholodny, whom she married in 1910. He is known as one of Russia’s first race car drivers. The pair had two children. In 1908, after seeing actress Vera Komissarzhevskaya in a stage role, she decided that she wanted to pursue a career in films. She sought out Vladimir Gardin, a major Russian film director, and he gave her a minor role in Anna Karenina. In 1915, film director Yevgeni Bauer was searching for an actress who possessed great beauty. After meeting Vera Kholodnaya, he found the enchantress that he was looking for. Bauer’s film was a resounding success. He then made a second film starring Kholodnaya. These two Bauer films made Vera a major celebrity. She soon became known as “the Queen of Screen” and had great successes with other films. By 1918, she was a film phenom. When Russia entered World War I, her husband joined the military. She participated in charity concerts to support the soldiers and their families. It is reported that she was “worshipped” by soldiers. By the time of the Russian Revolution (1917), a new Kholodnaya film was released every three weeks and she continued to experience acclaim and success. Around this time, the actress moved with her film company to Odessa. She died there, at age 25, during the 1918 flu pandemic.This version of the flu, was known as the “Spanish Flu” and it infected 500 million people around the world between 1918 and 1920. Estimates are that between 50 and 100 million people died during the pandemic. This portrait postcard is in very good condition (see scans).

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A PORTRAIT OF ACTRESS ISLA GARNET-VAYNE BY ALEXANDER BASSANO (1910)

This vintage real photo postcard features pretty theater actress, Isla Garnet-Vayne. I just can’t refrain from saying “Isla, you’re so vayne. You probably think this blog entry is about you”. I couldn’t resist. My apologies to singer/song-writer Carly Simon. England’s National Portrait Gallery has four portraits of Miss Garnet-Vayne in their collection. One of the portraits is identical to the one seen on this photo postcard. The National Portrait Gallery reports that this photograph was taken in 1910 by Alexander Bassano. The website, Theatricalia, reports on three productions in which Miss Garnet-Vayne performed. The plays listed are ” The Prince and the Beggar Maid (1908-1909), “A Girls Temptation” (1909-1910), and “From Mill Girl to Millionairess” (1910-1911). All of the aforementioned plays were performed in Southampton, England. Further research is needed to learn more about this pretty stage actress. Postcard portraits of Miss Garnet-Vayne are rare and this is one of the nicer ones I’ve seen. It is in very good condition (see scans).                                               

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