MARY PHILBIN – BEAUTIFUL AMERICAN FILM ACTRESS

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mary philbin 1 This vintage real photo postcard portrait features American actress Mary Philbin (1902-1993). She was active in film between 1918 and 1930. One of her most noted film roles was in “The Phantom of the Opera” (1925). She co-starred with Lon Chaney. A number of her roles involved playing the “beauty” in “Beauty and the Beast” type stories . Mary was born in Chicago, Illinois. Her parents were middle-class and of Irish descent. Her mother was convivial but controlling and domineering. She pushed her strong religious beliefs onto Mary. She adored her father who was “quiet, shy, and reserved”. She was very similar, personality-wise, to her dad. She would accompany him to the theater and there she developed a passion for the stage. She pursued dance and played the pipe organ and piano. She lacked a singing  voice, and surprisingly, never received training in acting. Mary’s acting career was launched after she won a beauty contest sponsored by Universal Pictures. The motion picture company promptly signed her to a contract. Her screen debut was in 1921 and during the following year she was named a WAMPAS Baby Star. This prestigious annual award, given by an association of film advertisers, was awarded to thirteen young women each year. These women were predicted to be on the verge of becoming major movie stars. During the 1920’s, Mary’s film career blossomed and she starred in a number of successful films, including “Drums of Love (1920), directed by D. W. Griffith. When “talkies” arrived, she played in a few films and even dubbed her own voice for the sound version of “Phantom of the Opera”. Unfortunately, her voice was considered too “girlish” to be suitable for talking pictures. She retired from the screen in the early 1930’s in order to become a caretaker for her elderly parents. She lived the rest of her life as a recluse. She never married and seldom made public appearances. An exception occurred when she attended the Los Angeles opening of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical version of “Phantom of the Opera”. She died of pneumonia at the age of ninety and is buried in Los Angeles, California. The IMDb reports that Mary appeared in 34 film between 1921 and 1929. She never married.  In 1926 she became engaged to Universal producer, Paul Kohner. When her family learned of the engagement, they were infuriated. They demanded a meeting with Kohner and all went reasonably well until the subject of religion arose. Kohner was Jewish and Mary’s family was Catholic. Mary’s mother was adamant in her belief that Kohner would attempt to convert Mary to Judaism. Paul and Mary informed her parents that no such thing  would happen. An argument developed between Paul and Mary’s parents. She was told by her parents that she would be disowned if she proceeded with her wedding plans. Mary was ambivalent but, in the end, despite still loving Paul, she returned her engagement ring to him. A biographer contends that this traumatic experience is the reason Mary never married.   The youtube video seen below offers a terrific tribute to Mary Philbin. The video was created by Diana Calado (2014). This vintage postcard was published by Ross Verlag, of Berlin, Germany. It is part of a series (no. 968/1). The name of the film distribution company (Filmhaus Bruckmann) can be seen on the bottom right corner of the image. A stamp on the reverse of the postcard indicates that it once was part of a collection belonging to Herman Overeem, of Utrecht, the Netherlands. This vintage postcard is in very good condition (see scans).

 

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LOUISE LORRAINE: BEAUTIFUL AND DELICATE FILM ACTRESS

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 This vintage real photo postcard features beautiful American film actress, Louise Lorraine (1904-1981). She was born in San Francisco and was discovered by a photography salesman who had knocked at the door of her home and was met by Louise. The salesman was startled by her good looks and her winning personality He told Louise’s mother that her daughter should be in films. Her widowed mother had five other children and after some time, she agreed to allow Louise to investigate becoming an actress. The salesman used a contact, and before long, Louise was in independent two-reel comedies. That was followed by stints with MGM and Universal. She became very popular for her roles in action-packed serials such as “The Radio King” (1922) and “With Stanley in Africa” (1922). She starred in eleven serials and was known for her energy and charisma. Her small stature and delicate beauty were unlikely characteristics expected in a serial heroine. However, she starred these physically demanding serials. In 1921, she became the third actress to portray “Jane”. She starred in the movie serial “The Adventures of Tarzan’ (1921). She was selected as a “Wampas Baby Star” in 1922. The organization was very successful at identifying future stars. Among their “finds” was Clara Bow and Joan Crawford. She starred in only five talkies during her film career including “Near the Rainbow’s End’ (1930). After this film appearance, she retired to spend time with her husband and two children. The IMDb reports that Louise Lorraine appeared in 83 films between 1922 and 1930. Lorraine was married twice. Marriage number one was to actor Art Acord, Her second marriage was to Chester Hubbard. She had two children. This vintage postcard was published by Ross Verlag and was part of a series (no. 836/1). The photographer of this portrait was Roman Freulich (1898-1974). Freulich was born in Poland and immigrated to the United States at the age of 14. He learned his trade from New York photographer Samuel Lumiere. He moved to Hollywood in the mid 1920’s where his brother Jack was a portrait photographer at Universal Pictures. Roman became a still photographer for Universal and produced many portraits of their major stars. He stayed at Universal until 1944 when he moved to Republic Studios. After Republic stopped production, Freulich did much work for United Artists.The stamp box of this postcard has an interesting story. “NBC” (Neue Bromsilber Convention) was a price cartel established in 1909 that continued until the 1930’s. The purpose of the cartel was to ensure that the minimum price charged for postcards was kept at a sufficiently profitable level. A number of postcard publishing companies joined the cartel in an effort to stave off the effect of competition on the pricing of postcards. This postcard has excellent clarity and is in very good condition (see scans).

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JACQUELINE LOGAN: BEAUTIFUL STAR OF FILM AND STAGE AND BIGAMIST

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This vintage real photo postcard features silent film star Jacqueline Logan (1904-1983). Logan had auburn hair and green eyes. She was considered to be very beautiful. Logan was a “WAMPAS Baby Star” of 1922. The Western Association of Motion Picture Advertisers sponsored the WAMPAS promotional campaign. Each year between 1922 and 1934 the promotion honored 13-15 young actresses who were predicted to be on the cusp of movie stardom. Other honorees besides Logan included Clara Bow, Joan Crawford, Fay Wray, and Ginger Rogers. Jacqueline Logan was born in Corsicana, Texas and grew up in Nebraska. She worked briefly as a journalist in Scottsbluff, Nebraska and than went to Colorado Springs for health issues. She took a journalism course there and than moved to Chicago where she found a job dancing in a stage production. She had told her family she was going to Chicago to attend college. She then went of New York City with a theater troupe. While in New York, she received a small part in the Broadway musical “Florodora (1920). She was noticed by Flo Ziegfeld who hired her as a dancer. She also was selected to model in photographs by Alfred Cheney Johnston. By 1921, she began appearing in films. Her first role was in “The Perfect Crime”. Also featured in the film was Carole Lombard, who at the time, was a child actress. Cecile B. DeMille selected Logan to play Mary Magdalene in the film “King of Kings” (1927). The movie broke audience attendance records. With the advent of  “talkies”, Logan had less success. However, she did appear in “Show of Shows” (1929) in which she was a member of an all-star cast. Next, she went to England to do stage work. She received many good reviews. She was then hired by British International Pictures to write and direct films. She was successful in her writing and directing. When she returned to Hollywood she found that studios were not interested in hiring her for behind the camera work. Their resistance was likely predominately due to not wanting a female to direct films. Back in America, she appeared in several Broadway shows including “Merrily We Roll Along” and “Two Strange Women”. In 1934, after her marriage to an industrialist, she retired from films. The IMDB web site reports that Logan has 61 film credits between 1921 and 1931. The Internet Broadway Database lists 3 Broadway play credits for the actress between 1920 and 1935. In her later years, Logan became a conservative political activist and member of the John Birch Society. This real photo portrait postcard was produced in France. It was part of a series (no. 197) called “Les Vedettes de Cinema (Stars of the Cinema)”. The photograph was taken at the Alfred Noyer studio (AN) in Paris. The actual photographer may have been Witze. The postcard includes an advertisement for Fox Film, indicating Logan’s affiliation with the studio at the time of the photograph.  The second photograph of Miss Logan is a press photo from 1928. Judging by the title of the text on the reverse (see below), this image appeared in a newsreel. Jacquline Logan had made the news because she had committed bigamy. Apparently she married Larry Winston before her divorce from Ralph Gillespie had become finalized. It appears she was too impatient to wait for the ink to dry on her divorce decree.

 
                                                         REVERSE OF POSTCARD
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                                                       REVERSE OF PRESS PHOTO

 

SEXUAL CHEMISTRY IN FILM: VIRGINIA VALLI AND GEORGE O’BRIEN (RPPC)

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Can sexual chemistry be photographed? This fantastic vintage real photo postcard provides evidence that the answer is yes. This image captures early film stars George O’Brien and Virginia Valli in an emotionally charged scene in an unknown movie. The pair starred together in at least two silent movies produced by Fox. The films were “Paid to Love” (1927) and “Eastside Westside” (1927). Virginia Valli (1898-1968) was an American stage and film actress. Her early acting experience was with a Milwaukee based stage troupe. Her film career started in the silent film era and ended in the early stages of the talkies (1930’s). She has 65 credits on the IMDB web site. She began her film work with Essanay Studios in her hometown of Chicago in 1916. By the mid 1920’s, she was an established star at Universal Studios. She was the star of  King Vidor’s “Wild Oranges” (1924). Most of her films were produced in the mid 1920’s and include Alfred Hitchcock’s first feature movie, “The Pleasure Garden” (1925). Her first sound picture was in 1929. She left the movie business in 1931 due to her high salary command and declining appeal to audiences. She moved to Palm Springs, California with her second husband, actor Charles Farrell. She was very much part of the social scene there. She died in Palm Springs at age seventy. George O’Brien (1899-1985) was an American actor popular during the silent film era as well as the early talkies era of the 1930’s. He is remembered most for his role in Murnau’s 1927 film “Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans”. He had an active film career which is evident by the fact that the IMDB web site gives him 85 credits. O’Brien was born in San Francisco and his father at one time, was the city’s chief of police.  During World War I, O’Brien was in the US Navy and served on a submarine chaser. He worked as a stretcher bearer for wounded Marines and was decorated for his bravery. Following the war, O’Brien became the light-heavyweight champion of the Pacific Fleet. After completing is service, O’Brien was in his early twenties and he went to Hollywood to seek work as a cameraman. He did find employment in the field and helped film for Tom Mix and Buck Jones. He then entered acting by playing bit parts and by being a stuntman. His first starring role was in “The Man Who Came Back” (1927) where he played opposite Doroth Mackaill. He then appeared in “Iron Horse” by famed director John Ford in which his counterpart was Madge Bellamy. The film was a great success and the experience forged a colloborative relationship with Ford that resulted in O’Brien appearing in nine more of the directors films. He spent much of the 1920’s as a leading man in action and adventure type roles. During the 20’s he received the nickname “the torso” because of his excellent physique. With the arrival of sound, O’Brien appeared predominately in Westerns during the 1930’s and he was considered a major draw. With the arrival of World War II, O’Brien re-enlisted in the US Navy and served as a beachmaster in the Pacific theater. He was decorated several times and when he was discharged he had attained the rank of commander. He later joined the Naval Reserve where he served as a captain. O’Brien’s last leading role was in a film that included the Three Stooges. According to his obituary,  O’Brien was buried at sea courtesy of the US Navy. This real photo postcard was published by Iris Verlag and made in Germany. The postcard is part of a series (no. 5121) and credits Fox Film.
ADDENDUM: After viewing this image, a visitor contacted me to claim that the beautiful woman in this photograph is not Virginia Valli, but instead, it is June Collyer (1906-1968). I was unable to locate information or relevant comparison images to definitively confirm that it is Collyer that is in the photograph, but I did find a film publicity photo identical to the postcard image above. The description of that photo indicates that the pictured woman is Collyer. Collyer was born in New York City and as a society girl was chosen by Allan Dwan (Director, Producer, Screen Writer) to her first starring role in “East Side, West Side. She did eleven silent films and made a successful transition to talkies. In 1928 she was he was one of the thirteen girls selected as “WAMPAS BABY STARS”. In 1930 she appeared in “The Three Sisters” and “Sweet Kitty Bellairs”. From 1930 through 1936 she starred in nineteen films. She took a sabbatical from acting in the 1940’s and did television acting during the 1950’s. June was the sister of radio actor/announcer Bud Collyer (1908-1969). He became a major game show star hosting such programs as “Beat the Clock” and “To Tell the Truth”. June Collyer was married to actor Stu Erwin. In conclusion, I am unsure whether the beautiful woman in this image is Miss Valli or Miss Collyer. It is an answerable question if someone is willing to do the requisite research.

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