BILLIE DOVE: BEAUTIFUL FILM ACTRESS, GIRL FRIEND OF FLORENZ ZIEGFELD AND HOWARD HUGHES

Billie Dove (1903-1997) was an American actress. Her parents were Swiss immigrants. During her teenage years, she worked as a model to support her family. Florenz Ziegfeld hired her as a teenager to appear in the Ziegfeld Follies Revue. She was not a particularly talented dancer or singer, her beauty and acting ability were her major assets. In the early 1920’s she moved to Hollywood and began appearing in silent films. It has been written that Ziegfield’s wife, actress Billie Burke, helped facilitate Dove’s transition to films. Apparently, Burke was trying to separate Dove from her husband because the pair were having an affair. It did not take long for her to become one of the more popular actresses of the 1920’s. Among her better known films was “The Black Pirate” (1926) with Douglas Fairbanks, and “The American Beauty” (1927). Dove was a ravishing beauty and was very photogenic. She married director, Irvin Willat, in 1923. The marriage had a six year duration. She then had a three year romance with Howard Hughes. Dove’s other interests included being a pilot, painter, and poet. After her last film, “Blondie of the Follies” (1932), Dove retired from films. It is thought that she retired because she was distraught about her role in her last film being “trimmed” by her co-star’s (Marion Davis) influential boyfriend (William Randloph Hearst). Hearst was upset because Miss Davis’s acting was overshadowed by Dove’s acting. Mr Hearst owned Cosmopolitan Productions which produced the movie. After retirement, Dove married oil executive Robert Kenaston in 1933 and the couple remained together until Kenaston’s death in 1970. She had a brief third marriage to an architect. It is interesting to note that jazz singer, Billie Holiday, borrowed Billie Dove’s first name when picking out her own stage name. Miss Holiday was an admirer of Miss Dove. The IMDb lists 50 movie credits for Billie Dove between 1921 and 1962, This vintage real photo postcard was published by “Ross Verlag”, The photographer of Miss Dove’s portrait was Defina of First National Pictures. This postcard is in excellent condition (see scans).

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ESTHER RALSTON: TALENTED FILM AND EARLY TELEVISION ACTRESS

This vintage real photo postcard features beautiful actress Esther Ralston (1902-1994). She was born in Bar Harbor, Maine and was active in acting between 1915 an 1962. Her career started while she was still a child. She appeared in a family vaudeville act called “The Ralston Family with Baby Esther, America’s Youngest Juliet”. By the time she was 18, she was appearing in silent films including “Huckleberry Finn” (1920) and “Peter Pan” (1924). In the late 1920’s she appeared in many films for Paramount Pictures. She was successful enough to earn as much as eight thousand dollars per week Although she received good reviews for dramatic roles, Ralston primarily appeared in comedies, often in the role of spirited society girls. Esther’s image was initially “wholesome and fun-loving”. Florenz Ziegfeld Jr repackaged her as “The American Venus” after she appeared in the role of a beauty queen in the film, “American Venus” (1926). Miss Ralston made a successful transition to sound pictures but by the mid 1930’s she was usually appearing in supporting roles. Her final starring role was in “To the Last Man (1933) and her final film was “Tin Pan Alley (1940). That same year she retired from film and focused on stage and radio through the 1940’s. With the advent of television, Ralston spent time appearing in this new medium. Esther Ralston was married three times and divorced three times. All of her husbands worked in the entertainment industry. The imdb lists Ralston as having 108 credits as an actress. She certainly made an impact in the entertainment world and this is reflected by the fact that she has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Esther Ralston’s obituary can be found at the web site of  “The Independent”. The obituary states that she was a “captivating blond beauty with an engaging sense of humor”. The article tells the story of Ralston’s reaction to co-starring with Clara Bow and Gary Cooper in “Children of Divorce” (1927) while Bow and Cooper were having an affair. In regard to Clara Bow, Ralston stated “I didn’t really dislike her, but she was pretty loose and I’d been brought up differently”. This photo postcard was pubished by Ross Verlag, a postcard publishing company based in Berlin, Germany. The postcard was produced for Paramount Pictures and is part of a series (No. 3393/1).

ELISE DE VERE: PORTRAIT OF A BEAUTIFUL SOUBRETTE BY REUTLINGER

Elise De Vere was indeed a very pretty woman and her pose in this image can be described as risque. She poses in this cabinet card photograph for famed celebrity photographer, Charles Reutlinger. Reutlinger’s studio was located at 21 Boulevard in Paris, France. The photograph was published in 1899.  Small print located at the bottom of the reverse of the card states R. Dechavannes. He may be in fact the actual photographer of the portrait. Perhaps the photograph was published by Reutlinger but not actually photographed by him. The facts concerning the role of Reutlinger and Dechavannes are not clear. To view other photographs by Dechavannes, click on the category “Photographer: Dechavannes”. To view other photographs by Reutlinger, click on the category “Photographer: Reutlinger”. Elise De Vere was an English actress/singer who performed in music halls and operas around 1900. The previous year she had won second place in a beauty contest at the Paris Olympia Theatre. She was described at the contest as a “Chanteuse Excentrique”  (Eccentric Singer). Around 1900 she was a stage diva in Europe and America. In 1903-1904 she performed in the Flo Ziegfeld Broadway opera “Red Feather” which played at the Lyrical Theatre and then the Grand Opera Theatre. In announcing De Vere’s arrival in America to play in “Red Feather”,  The New York Times (1903) writes that although she was a Parisienne, she spoke excellent English (shouldn’t have been a surprise, she was English). The article added that De Vere had recently learned to sing in German. In a later article, the New York Times (1903) labelled De Vere as a “Soubrette” in the “Red Feather”. A soubrette is a stock character in opera or theatre. A soubrette is frequently a comedic character who is often portrayed as vain, girlish, mischievous, gossipy and light hearted.

ANNABELLE MOORE: STAGE AND EARLY FILM DANCER

Annabelle Moore (1878-1961) was born Annabella Whitford in Chicago, Illinois. In 1910 she married Edward James Buchan and they remained married until his death in 1958. She appeared in at least nine films beween 1894 and 1897.  Film companies included Edison and Biograph. The films were dance films and included “A Mermaid Dance”, “Butterfly Dance” and “Serpentine Dance”. These films can be seen on “You Tube”. Annabelle starred as the Gibson Bathing Girl in the first of  the Ziegfeld Follies (1907). She remained as part of the Ziegfeld Follies company until her marriage and retirement in 1912. The cabinet card is stamped on the reverse with the following words; “This No. 46 is the property of the American Lithographic Company” of New York.