TRUUS VAN AALTEN: PRETTY, SPUNKY, AND FUNNY DUTCH/GERMAN ACTRESS

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This vintage real photo postcard features Dutch actress, Truus van Aalten (1910-1999). She appeared in many German films in the 1920’s and 1930’s. She is flashing a wonderful smile as she holds a cute little dog. Truus worked as a milliner after finishing school and then worked as a salesgirl in a clothing store in Amsterdam. What she really wanted to do, was to become a movie actress. Unfortunately, at the time,  the movie industry was not producing many films in the Netherlands. In 1896, Truus entered a beauty contest sponsored by a Dutch magazine. The winner of this contest would be given the opportunity to audition for a film role. Truus was selected and joined about two hundred other women in Berlin to try out for the film part. She excelled on the screen test and won the role. The movie was being produced by Ufa, a German film company. The cast of the film included Betty Balfour and Willy Fritsch. Three photos of Miss Balfour can be found in the Cabinet Card Gallery by searching for “Balfour”. The name of Truus’s first movie was “A Sister of Six” (1926). Keep in mind, Truus had no training or experience as an actress. Even though Truu’s command of the German language was weak, Ufa offered her a contract and promised to train her and offer her opportunities in other films. The Ufa executives appreciated her sparkly and funny personality as well as her photogenic appearance. Truus’s father signed the contract and she moved to Berlin. The celebrated actress Olga Tschechowa took Truus under her wing and became her unofficial mentor and mother figure in the film industry. Olga nicknamed the young actress “Trulala”. Truus second film appearance was in “His Late Excellency” (1927). This movie included Willy Fritsch and Olga Tschechowa among it’s stars. Truus appeared in five movies that were released in 1928. She was certainly a busy actress. As Truus started to appear in more and more silent films, it became clear that she was talented; pretty, spunky, and funny. Truus’s greatest talent was seen in her comedic roles. She slowly became a fan favorite. She was the subject of interviews and photos in movie magazines. She also got work appearing in advertisements.  Truus had “a look” of her own. She was described in one article as having a “mixture of boyish yet feminine energy”. Her bobbed hair and her uninhibited style was similar to actress Colleen Moore. Truus made a successful transition into “talkies”, despite her Dutch accent. By 1930, she was a very well known actress. Her photograph appeared in many postcards and tobacco cards. As Nazism rose in Germany, members of the film industry felt extremely vulnerable. Her film appearances became less frequent, partially because the parts written for females, during the Hitler era,  were not particularly desirable to Truus. In 1934, she starred in her only film in Dutch and she was well received. Her next film wasn’t until 1939 and it turned out to be her final film appearance. In 1940, she returned to live in German occupied Netherlands. She was offered movie roles there, but refused them, because they were propaganda films. After the war, there was little activity in film production in Germany or Netherlands. Finding roles in English or American movies was unsuccessful. In 1954, Truus established a successful importing and exporting business in the Netherlands. The IMDb credits Truus with 28 film appearances from 1926 to 1939. The YouTube video below demonstrates just how cute and engaging Truus was as an actress. She was incredibly adorable. This vintage postcard was published by Ross Verlag. The postcard is part of a series (no. 4184/1). Miss van Aalten’s portrait was taken by photographer Alex Binder, who operated a studio in Berlin. He was one of Berlin’s premier photographers and photographed many stars of the stage and film. This postcard is in excellent condition (see scans).

 

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BEAUTIFUL ANGLO-GERMAN FILM ACTRESS LILLIAN HARVEY

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POSTCARD 1  (SOLD)

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                                                       POSTCARD 2 (SOLD)

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POSTCARD 3

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 POSTCARD 6

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 Real photo postcard #1 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.                                                 SOLD                                                                                                                                                                          

The second postcard (postcard 2) 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.                                                                                                                  SOLD        

The third postcard (postcard 3) presents Miss Harvey is a sexy pose. Note her dark gloves and large hoop earrings. The postcard was published by Ross Verlag and is part of a series (no. 4288/1). Note the advertising logo for the German film company UFA, located on the bottom right hand corner of the image.

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The fourth postcard (postcard 4) showcases Lillian Harvey’s beautiful smile. Miss Harvey’s not quite plunging neckline was clearly aimed to add a bit of a risque element to the photograph. This postcard was published by Ross Verlag (Berlin) and is part of a series (no. 1019/2). This portrait was taken by the talented photographer, Alex Binder. 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. 

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The fifth real photo postcard (postcard 5) features Miss Harvey wearing a bathing suit and sitting in a beach chair. Her shoes and stockings don’t seem very appropriate for the beach so it is a good thing that she is actually in a photographer’s studio and sitting in front of a beach backdrop. Obviously, the mission of the photographer was not to convince viewers that Miss Harvey was at the beach. The intent of photographer Alexander Binder was to present Lilian Harvey in a provocative and sexy pose. Mr. Binder certainly succeeded in accomplishing his goal. This photo postcard was published by Ross Verlag.

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Postcard #6 features a hand colored portrait of Miss Harvey published by Ross Verlag. The postcard is part of a series (no. 3543/4). She looks fantastic wearing her print dress and plaid long scarf. I’m not convinced the dress and scarf are matching, but her beauty overcomes any mismatch. As in Postcard #3, the logo for the German film company UFA, can be seen on the lower right hand corner of the image. This photo postcard is from the 1930’s and is in very good condition (see scans).

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Postcard #7 features Lillian Harvey leaning forward as she looks into a hanging bird cage. The photographer likely chose this pose to inject some sexuality into the image. The pose reveals a small amount of the actress’s cleavage. She is wearing a relatively low-cut dress for this time period. Print on the reverse of the postcard reveals that the photograph of Miss Harvey comes from the film “Congress Dances” (1931). Her costar in the film was Willy Fritsch. The postcard was published by Ross Verlag and is part of a series (no. 6738/1). On the right hand bottom corner of the postcard is the logo for “UFA”, a German film company. This postcard is in excellent condition.

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ELISABETH PINAJEFF: EUROPEAN ACTRESS, ARTIST, AND PART OF THE “BALLETS ROSES SCANDAL”

This vintage real photo postcard features German actress Elisabeth Pinajeff (1900-1995). In the 1920’s and 1930’s she starred in French and German films. Her first sound film was in 1929. The actress was born in Russia. Her father was an architect and her mother was a countess. In the 1910’s Pinajeff studied drama in the Ukraine. When she was 19 years old she married an engineer and his career required the couple to move to Germany. In 1929, Pinajeff met Austrian photographer, Alex Binder. Binder will be a familiar name to those that follow the cabinet card gallery. Many of his beautiful postcard portraits of theater stars can be found in the gallery (you can see his photos by placing his name, “Binder”, in the search box).  Binder had the largest photo studio in Europe during the 1920’s. Pinajeff modeled for Binder and later, married him. The couple lived in Paris. There is some debate about the years that they were together.The IMDb reports that Pinajeff appeared in 35 films between 1922 and 1938. After appearing in a bit part in a 1938 film about Rasputin, she retired from acting and focused on her painting. In 1950, Pinajeff became a friend of Andre Le Troquer, a “very connected” lawyer and politician. The couple surrounded themselves with political, artistic, and intellectual leaders.   In 1959, she was involved in a scandal known as the “Ballets Roses Scandal”. She was one of more than twenty people enmeshed in the scandal. She was accused of organizing erotic ballets with underaged girls for an “elite” audience. Some prospective show biz mother’s had consented to their daughters participation in this ballet with hopes that it would help launch their performance career.  Although Pinajeff was not convicted. Miss Pinajeff had artistic talent. She painted a number of famous personalities including the British Queen. She successfully exhibited a number of her paintings. This postcard is somewhat risque in that the photograph shows Miss Pinajeff’s bare back. The actress was a very pretty woman and had an engaging smile. This postcard was published by Russ Verlag and is part of a series (no. 2060/1). The photographer was the aforementioned Alex Binder and the photo was taken in Berlin.

THREE PORTRAITS OF PRETTY EUROPEAN STAGE ACTRESS LIANE HAID

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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.                                                                               The third real photo postcard, seen above, was produced by publisher Ross Verlag (Berlin). Once again, Liane Haid appears beautiful in her portrait. The photograph was taken by the Ring studio in Vienna, Austria. A logo for Micco-Film appears in the lower right hand corner of the postcard. 

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 REVERSE OF BOTTOM POSTCARD