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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