RAQUEL MELLER : PRETTY SPANISH SINGER AND FILM ACTRESS

This vintage real photo postcard features a portrait of Spanish singer and actress, Raquel Meller (1888-1962). She was an international star in the 1920’s and 1930’s. She sang the original versions of well known songs such as “La Violetera” and “El Relicario”. Raquel Meller was loved by her fans. Imagine this scene. It is 1928 and Roscoe Arbuckle was appearing on the stage in France. Although he was blacklisted from films, he was relatively successful on stage. Arbuckle was a successful comedian and film actor. He discovered Bob Hope and Buster Keaton. He mentored Charlie Chaplin and was one of the most popular silent film stars of the 1910’s. In 1921 his star faded after being brought to criminal trial three times for the alleged rape and manslaughter of actress Virginia Rappe. After two hung jury trials, he was acquitted with the help of Buster Keaton’s testimony for the defense. Due to the scandal surrounding his trial, Arbuckle’s career was thrown off track and he had a much harder time finding work in films. Now, back to that stage in Paris. Fatty made the poor choice to include in his act an imitation of Raquel Meller selling violets. Meller was beloved in Europe. Besides being charismatic and beautiful, she created an art form of the “cuple genre”; which was a popular risque Spanish theatre song style sung in cabaret theater. Sarah Bernhardt had labelled her a genious and Charlie Chaplin used the score of her song “La Violetera” in his classic “City Lights” (1931). Critics had called her “imperious, ruthless, lovable, funny, temperamental, witty and totally egomaniac”. Arbuckle was booed, hooted at, and heckled for his misdeed of mocking Raquel Meller. During one of his performances the police had to be called to quell the audience riot. Here is some background of Miss Meller. She was born in Aragon, Spain. Her father was a blacksmith and her mother ran a grocery store. Her family was wealthy until losing their money during Spain’s civil wars. She and her family moved to Barcelona when Raquel was four years of age. Her father died when she was nine years old. She was was placed with an Aunt who was a nun and lived in a Convent. When she got older, she was asked to become a nun, precipitating her escaping from the convent. Raquel went back to Barcelona where she worked as a seamstress, embroidering the robes of the clergy. The story goes that she sang as she worked, and her talent drew crowds outside the dressmaker’s shop. At age 13, she sang at a small cabaret in Valencia. She then came under the tutelage of a famous Spanish singer, Marta Oliver. In 1911, she made her grand debut in Barcelona. In 1919 she married a Guatamalan journalist and diplomat. That same year she held concerts in France, Argentina, Uruguay and Chile and appeared in her first film. In 1922, she obtained a divorce. Her most successful film was probably “Carmen” (1926). She was an international star and appeared on the cover of a 1926 issue of Time magazine. Meller canceled two trips to the United States where she had scheduled performances. One of these cancellations had to do with the ocean liner company’s refusal to book a deluxe suite for her five Pekingese dogs. The third time was the charm, and she traveled to the United States and did a six city tour which included sixteen concerts in New York. In the 1930’s Meller lived in France where her friends included Maurice Chevalier and Sarah Bernhardt. Miss Bernhardt described Meller as the “greatest actress in Europe-after myself”. After the late 1930’s, Meller left performing until appearing in a film in both 1957 and 1958. The IMDb credits Meller with ten film appearances. Meller was married twice, and both marriages were short lived, ending in divorce. She was the older sister of actress Tina Meller, who appeared in five motion pictures between 1919 and 1929. Raquel died after suffering a heart attack in 1962. One hundred thousand people witnessed her funeral procession in Barcelona. She is still honored today. Streets in France and Spain bear her name and a statue of her is in a plaza named after her in Barcelona. In her obituary, appearing in the New York Times, Raquel Meller is described as a “shining example of artistry, style, and press agent’s hocum -sometimes it was difficult to separate the ingredients”. The obituary cites one of the newspaper’s theater critics who said Meller’s voice was “frequently rough and shrill” but that her great distinction was her “extraordinarily magnetic personality”. This vintage portrait postcard was published by Cinemagazine. The photograph of Miss Meller was taken by Pierre Apers. He was a talented French photographer active in the early twentieth century. His studio was in Paris and he specialized in portraiture. This vintage portrait postcard has excellent clarity and is in very good condition. Note the video profile of Raquel Meller that is found below.

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$25.50

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Video produced by the Biblioteca Nacional de España

YVONNE ARNAUD: BEAUTIFUL FRENCH PIANIST, SINGER, AND ACTRESS

arnaud 2POSTCARD 1  (SOLD)

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The pretty woman seen in this vintage real photo postcard (Postcard 1) 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. Postcard 1 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 (Postcard 1) is part of a series (no. 5111). It has a postmark of 1907.                                                                                                                     Postcard 2 is also a vintage real photo card portrait of Yvonne Arnaud. She looks beautiful in this color tinted postcard. This postcard was printed in Britain and was part of the Lilywhite Photographic Series (no. L 4, 501F). The publisher, Lilywhite Ltd, Halifax (L.L.H.), was founded by Arthur Frederick Sergeant. He also was the founder of Halifax Photographic Company which was based in Halifax, England. Lilywhite began publishing postcards in 1910; and in the 1920’s, the company took over Arrow Series Postcards. The company then published postcards under both the Arrow and Lilywhite names.  This postcard has a postmark of 1925 and is in excellent condition (see scans). 

 POSTCARD 1  (SOLD) 

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