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TV Week Logie Nominations In Sydney, Australia; News And Lists

 

Tonight in Sydney, Australia it's the TV Week Logies Nominations.

 

Karl Stefanovic is battling to snatch back-to-back Gold Logies after nominations for the TV Week industry awards were announced today.

 

After surprising many media and entertainment commentators including this agency by snatching the major prize last year, the Channel 9 Today co-host got both a Silver and Gold for most popular presenter on Australian TV.

 

Karl will fight the ABC's Adam Hills, Offspring star Asher Keddie, The Project co-host Carrie Bickmore, ex Home & Away siren Esther Anderson and Nine comedian presenter Hamish Blake for the top honours when the TV Week Logies are awarded on April 15.

 

Channel 7 leads the network pack, with 32 nominations across 22 categories, followed by Ten (26 nominations), the ABC (22 nominations), Nine (21 nominations), pay TV operator Foxtel (eight nominations) and SBS (seven nominations).

 

While Packed To The Rafters favourite Rebecca Gibney was overlooked for a Gold Logie nod this year, she is squared off against her TV daughter Jessica Marais for Silver as most popular actress.

 

Also in the running for Silver was Asher Keddie, acknowledged for her double effort - playing Nina Proudman on Ten's romantic comedy, Offspring, and publishing maverick Ita Buttrose in the ABC1 docu-drama, Paper Giants: The Birth Of Cleo.

 

Making their Silver Logie nomination debut are Danielle Cormack (Kate Leigh in Nine's Underbelly Razor) and Esther Anderson (Charlie Buckton on Seven's soap Home & Away).

 

In the TV fight for the boys, the Silver Logie for most popular actor will be fought between Daniel MacPherson (Wild Boys, Channel 7), Eddie Perfect (Offspring, Ten), Erik Thomson (Packed To The Rafters, Channel 7), Hugh Sheridan (Packed To The Rafters, Channel 7) and Ray Meagher (Home & Away, Channel 7).

 

Despite turning her back on a TV career for a spot on Melbourne breakfast radio this year, Chrissie Swan secured a nomination as most popular presenter for her role on Ten's morning chat show, The Circle.

 

The nominations were held at Sydney's Park Hyatt, hosted by Nine's Natalie Gruzlewski and Ten's Bondi Vet, Chris Brown.

 

FULL LIST OF 2012 LOGIE NOMINATIONS:

 

TV WEEK GOLD LOGIE AWARD Most Popular TV personality

Adam Hills (Spicks And Specks, ABC1/Adam Hills In Gordon St Tonight, ABC1)

Asher Keddie (Nina Proudman,Offspring, Network Ten /Ita Buttrose, Paper Giants: The Birth Of Cleo, ABC1)

Carrie Bickmore (The Project, Network Ten)

Esther Anderson (Charlie Buckton, Home And Away, Channel Seven)

Hamish Blake (Hamish & Andy's Gap Year, Nine Network)

Karl Stefanovic (Today, Nine Network)

 

TV WEEK SILVER LOGIE Most Popular Actor

Daniel MacPherson (Jack Keenan, Wild Boys, Channel Seven)

Eddie Perfect (Mick Holland, Offspring, Network Ten)

Erik Thomson (Dave Rafter, Packed To The Rafters, Channel Seven)

Hugh Sheridan (Ben Rafter, Packed To The Rafters, Channel Seven)

Ray Meagher (Alf Stewart, Home And Away, Channel Seven)

 

TV WEEK SILVER LOGIE Most Popular Actress

Asher Keddie (Nina Proudman, Offspring, Network Ten /Ita Buttrose, Paper Giants: The Birth Of Cleo, ABC1)

Danielle Cormack (Kate Leigh, Underbelly: Razor, Nine Network /Angela Travis, East West 101, SBS)

Esther Anderson (Charlie Buckton, Home And Away, Channel Seven)

Jessica Marais (Rachel Rafter, Packed To The Rafters, Channel Seven)

Rebecca Gibney (Julie Rafter, Packed To The Rafters, Channel Seven)

 

TV WEEK SILVER LOGIE Most Popular Presenter

Adam Hills (Spicks And Specks,ABC1/Adam Hills In Gordon St Tonight, ABC1)

Carrie Bickmore (The Project, Network Ten)

Chrissie Swan (The Circle, Network Ten)

Hamish Blake (Hamish & Andy's Gap Year, Nine Network)

Karl Stefanovic (Today, Nine Network)

 

MOST POPULAR NEW MALE TALENT

Dan Ewing (Heath Braxton, Home And Away, Channel Seven)

James Mason (Chris Pappas, Neighbours, Network Ten)

Peter Kuruvita (Host, My Sri Lanka With Peter Kuruvita, SBS)

Steve Peacocke (Darryl "Brax" Braxton, Home And Away, Channel Seven)

Tom Wren (Dr Doug Graham, Winners & Losers, Channel Seven)

 

MOST POPULAR NEW FEMALE TALENT

Anna McGahan (Nellie Cameron, Underbelly: Razor, Nine Network)

Chelsie Preston Crayford (Tilly Devine, Underbelly: Razor, Nine Network)

Demi Harman (Sasha Bezmel, Home And Away, Channel Seven)

Melissa Bergland (Jenny Gross, Winners & Losers Channel Seven)

Tiffiny Hall (Trainer, The Biggest Loser Australia, Network Ten)

 

MOST POPULAR DRAMA SERIES

Home And Away (Channel Seven)

Offspring (Network Ten)

Packed To The Rafters (Channel Seven)

Underbelly: Razor (Nine Network)

Winners And Losers (Channel Seven)

 

MOST POPULAR LIGHT ENTERTAINMENT PROGRAM

Australia's Got Talent (Channel Seven)

Hamish & Andy's Gap Year (Nine Network)

Spicks And Specks (ABC1)

Sunrise (Channel Seven)

The Project (Network Ten)

 

MOST POPULAR LIFESTYLE PROGRAM

Better Homes And Gardens (Channel Seven)

Getaway (Nine Network)

iFISH (Network Ten)

Ready Steady Cook (Network Ten)

Selling Houses Australia Extreme (LifeStyle Channel, FOXTEL

 

MOST POPULAR SPORTS PROGRAM

2011 AFL Grand Final (Network Ten)

Before The Game (Network Ten)

The AFL Footy Show (Nine Network)

The NRL Footy Show (Nine Network)

Wide World Of Sports (Nine Network)

 

MOST POPULAR REALITY PROGRAM

Beauty And The Geek Australia (Channel Seven)

MasterChef Australia (Network Ten)

My Kitchen Rules (Channel Seven)

The Block (Nine Network)

The X Factor Australia (Channel Seven)

 

MOST POPULAR FACTUAL PROGRAM

Bondi Rescue (Network Ten)

Bondi Vet (Network Ten)

Border Security: Australia's Front Line (Channel Seven)

RPA (Nine Network)

World's Strictest Parents (Channel Seven)

 

MOST OUTSTANDING NOMINEES (peer voted by industry)

TV WEEK SILVER LOGIE Most Outstanding Drama Series, Miniseries or Telemovie

Cloudstreet (Showcase, FOXTEL)

Offspring (Network Ten)

Paper Giants: The Birth Of Cleo (ABC1)

The Slap (ABC1)

Underbelly: Razor (Nine Network)

 

TV WEEK SILVER LOGIE Most Outstanding Actor

Alex Dimitriades (The Slap, ABC1)

David Wenham (Killing Time, TV1, FOXTEL)

Don Hany (East West 101, SBS)

Geoff Morrell (Cloudstreet, Showcase, FOXTEL)

Rob Carlton (Paper Giants: The Birth Of Cleo, ABC1)

 

TV WEEK SILVER LOGIE Most Outstanding Actress

Asher Keddie (Paper Giants: The Birth Of Cleo, ABC1)

Diana Glenn (Killing Time, TV1, FOXTEL)

Essie Davis (The Slap, ABC1)

Kat Stewart (Offspring, Network Ten)

Melissa George (The Slap, ABC1)

 

GRAHAM KENNEDY AWARD FOR MOST OUTSTANDING NEW TALENT

Anna McGahan (Underbelly: Razor, Nine Network)

Chelsie Preston Crayford (Underbelly: Razor, Nine Network)

Hamish Macdonald (Senior Foreign Correspondent, Network Ten)

Hamish Michael (Crownies, ABC1)

Melissa Bergland (Winners & Losers, Channel Seven)

 

MOST OUTSTANDING NEWS COVERAGE

Lockyer Valley Flood (Brisbane News, Channel Seven)

Qantas Grounded (Sky News National, Sky News Australia, FOXTEL)

Skype Scandal (Ten News At Five, Network Ten)

The Queensland Flood (Nine News, Nine Network)

Unfinished Business (SBS World News Australia, SBS)

 

MOST OUTSTANDING PUBLIC AFFAIRS REPORT

A Bloody Business (Four Corners/Sarah Ferguson, ABC1)

After The Deluge: The Valley (Paul Lockyer, ABC1)

Rescue 500 (Sunday Night, Channel Seven)

Salma In The Square (Foreign Correspondent/Mark Corcoran, ABC1)

Tour Of Duty: Australia's Secret War (Network Ten)

 

MOST OUTSTANDING LIGHT ENTERTAINMENT PROGRAM

Australia's Got Talent (Channel Seven)

Gruen Planet (ABC1)

Spicks And Specks (ABC1)

Talkin Bout Your Generation (Network Ten)

The Project (Network Ten)

 

MOST OUTSTANDING SPORTS COVERAGE

2011 Australian Open Tennis (Channel Seven)

2011 Bathurst 1000 (Channel Seven)

2011 Melbourne Cup Carnival (Channel Seven)

State Of Origin III (Nine Network)

Tour de France 2011 (SBS)

 

MOST OUTSTANDING CHILDRENS PROGRAM

Camp Orange: Wrong Town, (Nickelodeon, FOXTEL)

Lockie Leonard (Nine Network)

My Place (ABC3)

Saturday Disney (Channel Seven)

Scope (Network Ten)

 

MOST OUTSTANDING FACTUAL PROGRAM

Go Back To Where You Came From (SBS)

Leaky Boat (ABC1)

Mrs Carey's Concert (ABC1)

Outback Fight Club (SBS)

Tony Robinson Explores Australia (The History Channel, (FOXTEL)

 

The TV Week Logie Awards ceremony will take place at Crown Melbourne on Sunday 15th April.

 

Good luck to all.

 

Websites

 

TV Week Logies

www.tvweek.ninemsn.com.au/logies

 

TV Week

www.tvweek.com.au

 

Park Hyatt, Sydney

www.sydney.park.hyatt.com

 

Crown Melbourne

www.crownmelbourne.com.au

 

Eva Rinaldi Photography Flickr

www.flickr.com/evarinaldiphotography

 

Eva Rinaldi Photography

www.evarinaldi.com

 

The Lantern Group

www.lanterngroup.com.au

 

Music News Australia

www.musicnewsaustralia.com

German postcard. Ondra-Lamac-Film. Ross Verlag, No. 7626/2.

 

Anny Ondra (1903-1987) was a Polish-Czech-Austrian-German-French singer, film, and stage actress. During the 1920s and 1930s, she was a popular actress in Czech, Austrian and German comedies, and she was Alfred Hitchcock’s first ‘Blonde’.

German postcard. Film-Foto-Verlag, A.3781/1. Prag-Film. 1940s.

 

Anny Ondra (1903-1987) was a Polish-Czech-Austrian-German-French singer, film, and stage actress. During the 1920s and 1930s, she was a popular actress in Czech, Austrian and German comedies, and she was Alfred Hitchcock’s first ‘Blonde’.

Italian/ Austrian postcard. Stabilimento Rotocalcografico Vitagliano, Milano. Wiener Film-Kurier.

 

Anny Ondra (1903-1987) was a Polish-Czech-Austrian-German-French singer, film, and stage actress. During the 1920s and 1930s, she was a popular actress in Czech, Austrian and German comedies, and she was Alfred Hitchcock’s first ‘Blonde’.

FACEBOOK / INSTAGRAM / FLICKR / TWITTER

photo by: Roman Kajzer @FotoManiacNYC

 

You can see the entire session here:

KENDRA - FALL SESSION

 

TEEN IDOL

 

A teen idol is a celebrity with a large teenage fan-base. Teen idols are generally young but not necessarily teenaged. Often teen idols are actors or singers, but some sports figures also have an appeal to teenagers. Some teen idols began their careers as child actors, like Leif Garrett, Lindsay Lohan, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, and Hilary Duff.

 

The idol's popularity may be limited to teens, or may extend to all age groups. Many teen idols are targeted for adults for nostalgia purposes.

 

There were teen idols before there were teen magazines, but idols have always been a permanent feature in magazines such as Seventeen, 16 magazine, Tiger Beat and Right On! in the United States, and in similar magazines elsewhere. With the advent of television, teen idols were also promoted through programs such as American Bandstand, The Ed Sullivan Show, Soul Train and in the UK Top of the Pops. Today's teen idols have spawned an entire industry of gossip magazines, television shows, YouTube, and whole television channels such as E!.

 

Many American teen idols achieve "cross-over" success internationally; however, this list is not limited to American artists alone with some people such as German popstar Bill Kaulitz of the pop-rock band Tokio Hotel. In Asia, idols range from Japanese pop megastars Ayumi Hamasaki and Namie Amuro as well as Kana Nishino and Japanese music groups such as Momoiro Clover Z, Morning Musume, AKB48, and Perfume and Johnny & Associates boy bands Arashi, NEWS, KAT-TUN, and Hey! Say! JUMP among others while Chinese pop icon Jay Chou and Jolin Tsai, music groups F4 and Lollipop F, and South Korean singers BoA and Rain and music groups TVXQ, 2PM, 2AM, Beast, Shinee, EXO, Super Junior, f(x), 2NE1, BIGBANG, Wonder Girls, BTS, T-ara, Kara and Girls' Generation are examples. In Latin America, idols ranges from Mexican pop stars ThalĂ­a, Timbiriche, Lynda Thomas, Magneto, Puerto Rican born Mexican Luis Miguel, Puerto Rican singer Marc Anthony, and the very popular Puerto Rican boy band Menudo in the 1980's and 1990's, and Paty CantĂș, Anahi, Belinda. Ha^Ash and RBD in the 2000s and 2010's. Besides, former Menudo member Ricky Martin, their chief rivals Los Chicos and former member Chayanne, Venezuelan actor and singer Guillermo Davila and more, to Argentina, where telenovela, Chiquititas, ushered in a new era of teen-idols for that country, including actors Benjamin Rojas, Felipe Colombo, Luisana Lopilato and Camila Bordonaba, who went on to form teen band Erreway, precursors to Mexican band RBD. In Spain, La Oreja de Van Gogh, Miguel Bose, Mecano and Hombres G all enjoyed teen-idol status. Even in the classical music field, a British-Chinese violinist Vanessa-Mae became the first "teen idol" in that category.

 

In the past, young sports icons and Olympic athletes during their competitive times were considered teen idols such as Jean-Claude Killy, Peggy Fleming, Joe Namath, Dorothy Hamill, Mark Spitz, Jim Craig, Nadia Comăneci, Mary Lou Retton, Michael Jordan, Dominique Moceanu, Michelle Kwan, Carly Patterson, Shawn Johnson, Nastia Liukin, Michelle Wie, Mia Hamm, Ryan Lochte, Michael Phelps, Missy Franklin, Katie Ledecky, Shaun White, Apolo Ohno, Simone Biles, Tom Daley, McKayla Maroney, and Gabby Douglas.

 

Early teen idols

 

The first known person to have been treated as a teen idol was Franz Liszt, the Hungarian pianist who, in the 1840's, drew such a following among young women that the term "Lisztomania" soon came to describe the phenomenon. The kind of idolizing following Liszt drew in Europe would not be followed for several decades. Geraldine Farrar, American opera singer, had a large following of young women nicknamed "Gerry-flappers" in the early 20th century. Rudy Vallée, who became a major success in 1929 with hits like "Honey" and "Deep Night", may have been the first American popular singer to have been idolized by hundreds of teen-aged girls at sold-out concerts. He was also possibly the first popular singer to have a star vehicle created for him: The Vagabond Lover. Frank Sinatra, whose early career is often linked to his appeal to bobby soxers, is also regarded as having been amongst the first teen idols.

 

1950's–1960's

 

The great success of young rock stars like Elvis Presley and Pat Boone, film stars like Marlon Brando, Paul Newman, James Dean, Tab Hunter, and Sal Mineo in the 1950's, as well as the wider emergence of youth subcultures, led promoters to the deliberate creation of teen idols such as singers Frankie Avalon, Fabian Forte, Frankie Lymon, and Connie Stevens. Even crooners like Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra were still considered idols and rather handsome. Actors Edd Byrnes and Troy Donahue and other artists deliberately cultivated a (safer) idol image, like Paul Anka.

 

Anka initially modelled himself on a particular generic type, the teen idol [who] carried on the process ... of changing the image of male youth ... from wild to mild, by providing a cleaner, more wholesome image of masculinity than that of the previous era's rebellious rockabilly heroes and (working-class) so-called juvenile delinquents, like those in West Side Story....

 

Post-war teens were able to buy relatively inexpensive phonographs — including portable models that could be carried to friends' houses — and the new 45-rpm singles. Rock music played on 45's became the soundtrack to the 1960's as people bought what they heard on the radio. The great majority of the music being marketed to 1950's teens was being written by adults, but 1960's teens were increasingly appreciating and emulating artists closer to their own age, to teen fashion, and to lyrics which addressed their own concerns. Their parents worried about their attraction to artists (and DJs) who were edgy and rebellious. Faces on magazines fed fans; fans buy records, see films, watch TV and buy fashions.

 

Marketing of the teen idol generally focuses on the image.... The teen idol is structured to appeal to the pre-teen and young teen female pop audience member and children in general.... [They] are commodified in forms and images that are relatively non-threatening to this young audience and to the ancillary market of parents... The teen idol never appears to be autonomous and therefore never appears to be threatening as an adult; he remains, as long as he is popular, perpetually childlike and dependent.

 

Some marketers turned to film and TV for fresh, attractive, 'safe' faces. Tommy Sands's debut in a television film about the phenomenon, The Idol, made a teen idol out of Sands himself. Ricky Nelson, a performer of rockabilly music, also became a teen idol through his parents' television series, The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet. Some young TV stars were being hustled into studios to make recordings; for example, ex-Mousketeer Annette Funicello became one of the first big female idols as well as the Lennon Sisters whom had cut out dolls and were always on the covers of the gossip magazines; another, Johnny Crawford of The Rifleman, had five Top-40 hits. In 1963, Luke Halpin made a big splash as a teen idol in the television program Flipper. After Bye Bye Birdie was released in 1963, Bobby Rydell became an instant teen idol.

 

In the 1960's as situation comedies and dramas on television using child actors became more popular, actors Paul Petersen, Patty Petersen, and Shelley Fabares from The Donna Reed Show, Dwayne Hickman from The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis, Sally Field of Gidget, Jon Provost of Lassie, Jay North from Dennis the Menace, Billy Mumy of Lost in Space (and later of novelty group Barnes and Barnes), Sajid Khan of Maya, and Keith and Kevin Schultz known as the "Schultz Twins" on The Monroes all became younger preteen idols and grew into being teen idols.

 

Likewise, Tommy Steele, the Beatles with Beatlemania, the Rolling Stones, and the Beach Boys were teen idols, especially during the earlier part of their careers, although they quickly grew out of that status. The Rolling Stones did it through a more rebellious image, the Beatles did it through their more developed (or "grown up") music. Similarly, Neil Sedaka had two distinct eras of his career, with about a decade in between: one as a teen idol in the 1960's, and a later career in adult contemporary music. From the family band the Cowsills, Susan Cowsill, John Cowsill and Barry Cowsill became teen idols and were on teen magazine covers for many years. Many of the teen idols of the era were the sons of older, established stars; Dino, Desi & Billy were active as teen idols during the mid-sixties. The group included Desi Arnaz Jr (son of bandleader Desi Arnaz), Dean Paul Martin (son of singer Dean Martin), and Billy Hinsche (a mutual friend whose parents were not famous). Gary Lewis, son of comedian Jerry Lewis, fronted the Playboys during this era.

 

All of the Monkees became instant teen idols in the late 1960's after their TV show became an overnight success, especially for Micky Dolenz and Davy Jones. The British born member of the Monkees Davy Jones was regularly featured in all time teen idol lists. In 2008, Yahoo Music named Jones the number one teen idol of all time, and in 2009 he was ranked second in a list compiled by Fox News. Davy Jones still to this day tends to win many number one's and the top of the list in best teen idol contests.

 

Tiger Beat magazine, an influential teen music magazine, began publishing in 1965.

 

1970's

 

After Davy Jones came Bobby Sherman and David Cassidy, who held the title of Teen Idols from the late 1960's until the mid-1970's. Both Sherman and Cassidy were actors on television and chart topping musicians in the pop-rock category at the time; with David Cassidy in particular enjoying immense international fame and success. Sherman was on hit TV shows Shindig! and Here Come the Brides among many others. Musical series such as Cassidy's The Partridge Family, the animated series The Archie Show, and (to a lesser extent) The Brady Bunch integrated television and teen-pop music to significant success during this time frame. The Brady Bunch's Barry Williams and Christopher Knight, as was tennis pro/actor Vincent Van Patten all were constantly in the fan magazines at the time. Actors Richard Thomas, Robby Benson, Peter Barton, Leif Garrett, Mark Lester, Jan-Michael Vincent, William Katt, and Jack Wild were the talk of the teenagers in the 1970's as well. Musicians the Hudson Brothers were on many teen magazine covers for a number of years as teen idols. They had two shows on TV during the 1970's and recorded many albums.

 

One of the features of many teen idols is that their fans (and, in some cases, the musicians themselves) tend to develop a distaste for the music once they became adults, and it is not much listened to by adults, except for nostalgia: the legacy of bubblegum pop. Teen idol performers in this category would include Shaun Cassidy, Leif Garrett, the Osmond Brothers (particularly Donny Osmond and their teen idol sister Marie Osmond), Andy Gibb, Tony DeFranco of the DeFranco Family, and the Bay City Rollers. Even modern classic hits and oldies outlets, which cover this time period, rarely play cuts from the teen idols of the era. A notable exception is Michael Jackson of the Jackson Five, who began his career as a teen idol along with his brothers, but whose individual career eventually evolved far beyond the limitations of that description and into super-stardom.

 

The Jackson Five were the first African-American music group to become national teen idols, appearing alongside white idols in magazines such as 16 and Tiger Beat.

 

1980's

 

In 1985 actress Alyssa Milano from Who's The Boss became a major teen idol and was dubbed "The Teen Queen of the 1980's. In the mid-1980's there was a group of young actors called the Brat Pack; the whole group collectively and separately became teen idols. They were Emilio Estevez, Anthony Michael Hall, Rob Lowe, Andrew McCarthy, Demi Moore, Judd Nelson, Molly Ringwald, and Ally Sheedy. They starred in many coming-of-age films. The film that would help invent and popularize the genre was Francis Ford Coppola's coming-of-age drama film The Outsiders (1983), which starred C. Thomas Howell, Ralph Macchio, Matt Dillon, Patrick Swazye, Diane Lane, Rob Lowe, Leif Garrett, Emilio Estevez, and Tom Cruise. The movie would receive critical acclaim, and would also become a box office success, and later a cult classic.

 

Actors such as Patrick Swazye, Matt Dillon, and Tom Cruise were teen idols who would later become successful A-list celebrities.

 

Actors Corey Feldman and Corey Haim also became teen idols during the later part of the 1980's with films The Goonies and together The Lost Boys, Dream a Little Dream and License to Drive among other films. They were dubbed "the two Coreys". Before Corey Haim's death in 2010, they did a reality TV show for two seasons (2007–08) on A&E named The Two Coreys after their 1980's moniker.

 

Actor River Phoenix during his teen years became a teen idol during the later part of the 1980s.Phoenix's work encompassed 24 films and television appearances, and his rise to fame led to his status as a "teen idol".On October 31, 1993, Phoenix collapsed and died of drug-induced cardiac arrest on the sidewalk outside the West Hollywood nightclub The Viper Room at the age of 23.

 

Australian-American singer Rick Springfield was regarded as teen idol from 1971, after releasing his solo début single "Speak to the Sky". His career matured over the next two decades with more hit songs. He gained further fame as a television series actor.

 

In the 1980's, Puerto Rican boy band Menudo, caused a sensation in Latin America, nicknamed Menudomania that became compared to the Beatles' Beatlemania.

 

Also painted with the Beatlemania brush was British pop group Duran Duran. Dubbed "the Fab Five", this group is recognized as pioneers in the then relatively new area of music video, that started with the Monkees in the 1960's. Their exotic videos, such as Hungry Like the Wolf, being fixtures on cable channel MTV coupled with their exposure in teen magazines instilled them as teen idols in America and around the world though the majority of the 80's. Another British pop band Culture Club were dubbed teen idols, with Boy George's androgynous outfits that were copied by his teen fans and young adults alike.

 

At the end of the 1980's, actor Kirk Cameron became a major teen idol teenage heartthrob. Cameron was best known for his role as Mike Seaver on the television situation comedy Growing Pains from 1985 to 1992. Also Scott Baio and Willie Aames of Charles in Charge fame found themselves regulars in teen magazines.

 

In popular music, the late 1980's was the boom of teenagers dominating the music charts. Debbie Gibson became the youngest person to write, perform and produce a number-one single, "Foolish Beat", and also had many hits from her first two albums. Tiffany, another teen icon, became a pop sensation at 15 years old thanks to an aggressive marketing strategy. She promoted her debut album in shopping malls of the US. She is also the youngest person to have a debut album hit number one and have multiple number one singles from that album ("I Think We're Alone Now" and "Could've Been"). Having become a household name, she had then-unknown band New Kids on the Block as an opening act for her shows. However, the sudden popularity of the New Kids caused their roles to be reversed. Gibson and Tiffany's careers had stalled by the early 1990's; so had NKOTB by the mid-nineties. The other boy band from Boston, New Edition was very popular with the teen set by the end of the 1980's as well.

 

Madonna, was another example of teen idol and became a fashion icon between teenagers. Even, professor Joseph Straubhaar in the book Communications Media in the Information Society (1997) called a teen idol by 1992 year.

 

1990's

 

The manufacturing of teen idols has been marketed more aggressively and with greater sophistication since the 1980's. The rise of MTV in the 1980's and the success of the boy bands of the 1990's and 2000's has continued to fuel the phenomenon. Besides a combination of good, clean-cut looks and a ubiquitous marketing campaign, such bands typically include a variety of personality types (e.g. "the shy one", "the smart one", etc.) Classic examples of "boy bands" include Menudo, New Kids on the Block, Take That, Backstreet Boys, and 'NSYNC, all becoming the best selling pop groups of the decade. Hanson was initially marketed as such a band, but eventually outgrew this label to become a successful indie band. Female pop super star Mariah Carey, was very popular with teens in the 90's decade. Christina Aguilera, Jennifer Lopez, Mandy Moore, Jessica Simpson, and Britney Spears, along with mega girl groups the Spice Girls and Destiny's Child, also became very popular at the end of the decade. Other notable examples from the 1990's are female R&B singers MĂœa, Aaliyah, Monica, and Brandy. After Brandy's television show Moesha went on the air, it brought her many teen fans and she was always on the cover or in the teen magazines for many years. Brothers Nick Carter from Backstreet Boys and pop star Aaron Carter were both teen idols in their heyday, as was, to a much lesser extent, sister Leslie. Robbie Williams of boy band Take That had teen idol status as did Ricky Martin during the Latin music explosion of the late 1990's.

 

Many of the major teen idols in the 1990's were from boy bands and musical acts. One major exception was the situation comedy Home Improvement 's Jonathan Taylor Thomas, who appeared from 1991 to 1998, but never embraced his stardom. Another major teen idol was Freddie Prinze, Jr. who skyrocketed to teen heartthrob status after starring in successful teen horror films.

 

The 1997 film Titanic made Leonardo DiCaprio a teen idol; during "Leo-Mania" his face appeared on many teen magazines. Other teen idols from TV were most of the cast of Saved by the Bell, Joshua Jackson and James Van Der Beek of Dawson's Creek, Ben Savage and Rider Strong of Boy Meets World, Joseph Gordon-Levitt of 3rd Rock From the Sun, Jonathan Brandis of seaQuest DSV, Jared Leto of My So-Called Life, Joey Lawrence of Blossom (and to a lesser extent, Joey's brothers, Matthew and Andrew), Jason Priestley and Luke Perry of Beverly Hills, 90210 fame, and Erik Von Detten of various TGIF shows. These actors were often found on the covers and pages of teen magazines during the 1990's as teen idols as well. Sarah Michelle Gellar was a major teen idol in the late 90's, as a result of her lead role in the popular television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Fraternal twin sisters and TV actresses Ashley Olsen and Mary-Kate Olsen were major tween idols, and as they grew up they later became teen idols during the 1990's. After the movie Clueless, Alicia Silverstone found herself a teen idol. The comedy duo of Kenan Thompson and Kel Mitchell are also teen idols, in which they star in the Nickelodeon sketch comedy All That, their own sitcom Kenan & Kel, and the 1997 film Good Burger. Nickelodeon also produced The Amanda Show which featured Amanda Bynes as well.

 

2000's

 

The Walt Disney Company and its numerous outlets (e.g. Disney Channel, Radio Disney and Walt Disney Pictures) have successfully developed a new generation of teen idols. In the early 2000's, the company developed the careers of actresses and singers Hilary Duff and Lindsay Lohan, initially targeting youth and female teen audiences. While still teenagers, Duff became famous for her starring titular character in the Disney Channel teen sitcom Lizzie McGuire, and Lohan became famous for her starring roles in many successful teen movies, including Freaky Friday, Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen, Herbie: Fully Loaded, and Mean Girls. Other Nickelodeon and Disney Channel stars are also teen idols, including Jesse McCartney, Raven-Symone, Kyla Pratt, Ashley Tisdale, Vanessa Hudgens, Drake Bell, Josh Peck, Emma Roberts, Miranda Cosgrove, Miley Cyrus, Victoria Justice, Jennette McCurdy, Elizabeth Gillies and the Jonas Brothers.

 

In 2002, Canadian singer Avril Lavigne dominated the music scene and eventually became a worldwide teen idol. Listed at number 4 on Yahoo!'s Top 25 Teen Idols of all-time. Other teen idols are in the R&B and hip-hop realm, including JoJo, Ciara, Keke Palmer and Chris Brown.

 

2010's

 

Disney Channel stars Selena Gomez and Demi Lovato, YouTube star Becky G, and The X Factor alumni Little Mix have come to be teen idols. Ariana Grande was a popular teen actress before gaining mainstream popularity as a singer and teen idol.

 

In Japan, more and more "idol groups" have appeared. In Japanese culture, persons called "idols" are media personalities in their teens and early twenties who are considered particularly attractive or cute and who will, for a period ranging from several months to a few years, regularly appear in the mass media, e.g. as singers for pop groups, bit-part actors, TV personalities, models in photo spreads published in magazines, advertisements, etc. One of the most successful groups is Momoiro Clover Z. Their performances incorporate elements of ballet, gymnastics, and action movies. During 2016, about 636 thousand people attended their live concerts, which was the highest record of all female musicians in Japan. The group has been ranked as the most popular female idol group from 2013 to 2016.

 

Since their rise to fame in recent years, pop singer and YouTube sensation Justin Bieber, country-pop musician Taylor Swift, boy band One Direction, pop rock band 5 Seconds of Summer, and girl group Fifth Harmony have become examples of modern-day mega teen idols who have achieved international success, known for their devoted teen female fans, as well as an adult fan base making them all international superstars as well as teen idols.

  

LINKS:

 

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Teen_idol

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Model_(person)

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Junior_idol

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Korean_pop_idol

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japanese_idol

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Japanese_gravure_idols

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sex_symbol

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pin-up_model

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Celebrity_worship_syndrome

 

Austrian postcard by Iris-Verlag, no. 5334. Photo: Lux-Film Verleih. Karel Lamač and Anny Ondra in Kvet ze Sumavy/A Flower of the Sumava Mountains (Karel Lamac, 1927).

 

Anny Ondra (1903-1987) was a Polish-Czech-Austrian-German-French singer, film, and stage actress. During the 1920s and 1930s, she was a popular actress in Czech, Austrian and German comedies, and she was Alfred Hitchcock’s first ‘Blonde’.

 

Karel Lamač (1897-1952), aka Karl Lamac, Carl Lamac, and Carl Lamač, was a Czech actor and filmmaker, famous for the many comedies he directed and co-acted in with Czech actress Anny Ondra.

 

And, please check out our blog European Film Star Postcards.

American postcard. This is Virginia Mayo, not Adele Jergens. Collection: Marlene Pilaete.

 

American actress and dancer Virginia Mayo (1920-2005) is best known for her series of film comedies with Danny Kaye, including Wonder Man (H. Bruce Humberstone, 1945), The Kid from Brooklyn (Norman Z. McLeod, 1946), and The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (Norman Z. McLeod, 1947). The popular actress personified the dream girl or girl-next-door and audiences—particularly males—flocked to theatres just to see her blonde hair and classic looks on-screen in Technicolor. It made Mayo Warner Brothers biggest box office money maker in the late 1940s. Going against stereotype, Mayo accepted the supporting role of unsympathetic gold-digger Marie Derry in the Oscar winning drama The Best Years of Our Lives (William Wyler, 1946). Her performance drew favourable reviews from critics as the film also became the highest-grossing film in the US since Gone with the Wind. Later she appeared opposite James Cagney in White Heat (Raoul Walsh, 1949), Burt Lancaster in The Flame and the Arrow (Jacques Tourneur, 1950), and Gregory Peck in Captain Horatio Hornblower (Raoul Walsh, 1951). At the zenith of her career, Mayo was seen as the quintessential voluptuous Hollywood beauty: she "looked like a pinup painting come to life".

 

Sources: Wikipedia and IMDb.

 

And, please check out our blog European Film Star Postcards.

German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 44301/1, 1929-1930. Photo: United Artists.

 

Lupe Velez (1908-1944), was one of the first Mexican actresses to succeed in Hollywood. Her nicknames were 'The Mexican Spitfire' and 'Hot Pepper'. She was the leading lady in such silent films as The Gaucho (1927), Lady of the Pavements (1928), and Wolf Song (1929). During the 1930s, her well-known explosive screen persona was exploited in a series of successful films like Hot Pepper (1933), Strictly Dynamite (1934), and Hollywood Party (1934). In the 1940s, VĂ©lez's popularity peaked after appearing in the Mexican Spitfire films, a series created to capitalise on VĂ©lez's well-documented fiery personality. She had several highly publicised romances and a stormy marriage. In 1944, VĂ©lez died of an intentional overdose of the barbiturate drug Seconal. Her death and the circumstances surrounding it have been the subject of speculation and controversy.

 

Lupe VĂ©lez was born MarĂ­a Guadalupe Villalobos VĂ©lez in 1908 in the city of San Luis PotosĂ­ in Mexico. She was the daughter of Jacobo Villalobos Reyes, a colonel in the army of the dictator Porfirio Diaz, and his wife Josefina VĂ©lez, an opera singer according to some sources, or vaudeville singer according to others. She had three sisters: Mercedes, Reina and Josefina, and a brother, Emigdio. The family was financially comfortable and lived in a large home. At the age of 13, her parents sent her to study at Our Lady of the Lake (now Our Lady of the Lake University) in San Antonio, Texas. It was at Our Lady of the Lake that VĂ©lez learned to speak English and began to dance. She later admitted that she liked dance class, but was otherwise a poor student. Denny Jackson at IMDb: "Life was hard for her family, and Lupe returned to Mexico to help them out financially. She worked as a salesgirl for a department store for the princely sum of $4 a week. Every week she would turn most of her salary over to her mother, but kept a little for herself so she could take dancing lessons. By now, she figured, with her mature shape and grand personality, she thought she could make a try at show business." She began her career as a performer in Mexican vaudeville in 1924. She initially performed under her paternal surname, but after her father returned home from the war, he was outraged that his daughter had decided to become a stage performer. She chose her maternal surname, "VĂ©lez", as her stage name and her mother introduced VĂ©lez and her sister Josefina to the popular Spanish Mexican vedette MarĂ­a Conesa, "La Gatita Blanca". VĂ©lez debuted in a show led by Conesa, where she sang 'Oh Charley, My Boy' and danced the shimmy. Aurelio Campos, a young pianist, and friend of the VĂ©lez sisters recommended Lupe to stage producers, Carlos Ortega and Manuel Castro. Ortega and Castro were preparing a season revue at the Regis Theatre and hired VĂ©lez to join the company in March 1925. Later that year, VĂ©lez starred in the revues 'Mexican Rataplan' and 'ÂĄNo lo tapes!', both parodies of the Bataclan's shows in Paris. Her suggestive singing and provocative dancing was a hit with audiences, and she soon established herself as one of the main stars of vaudeville in Mexico. After a year and a half, VĂ©lez left the revue after the manager refused to give her a raise. She then joined the Teatro Principal but was fired after three months due to her "feisty attitude". VĂ©lez was quickly hired by the Teatro Lirico, where her salary rose to 100 pesos a day. In 1926, Frank A. Woodyard, an American who had seen VĂ©lez perform, recommended her to stage director Richard Bennett, the father of actresses Joan and Constance Bennett. Bennett was looking for an actress to portray a Mexican cantina singer in his upcoming play 'The Dove'. He sent VĂ©lez a telegram inviting her to Los Angeles to appear in the play. VĂ©lez had been planning to go to Cuba to perform, but quickly changed her plans and traveled to Los Angeles. However, upon arrival, she discovered that she had been replaced by another actress.

 

While in Los Angeles, Lupe VĂ©lez met the comedian Fanny Brice. Brice recommended her to Flo Ziegfeld, who hired her to perform in New York City. While VĂ©lez was preparing to leave Los Angeles, she received a call from MGM producer Harry Rapf, who offered her a screen test. Producer and director Hal Roach saw VĂ©lez's screen test and hired her for a small role in the comic Laurel and Hardy short Sailors, Beware! (Fred Guiol, Hal Yates, 1927). After her debut, VĂ©lez appeared in another Hal Roach short, What Women Did for Me (James Parrott, 1927), opposite Charley Chase. Later that year, she did a screen test for the upcoming Douglas Fairbanks feature The Gaucho (F. Richard Jones, 1927). Fairbanks was impressed by VĂ©lez and hired her to appear in the film with him. The Gaucho was a hit and critics were duly impressed with VĂ©lez's ability to hold her own alongside Fairbanks, who was well known for his spirited acting and impressive stunts. Her second major film was Stand and Deliver (Donald Crisp, 1928), produced by Cecil B. DeMille. That same year, she was named one of the WAMPAS Baby Stars. Then she appeared in Lady of the Pavements (1929), directed by D. W. Griffith, and Where East Is East (Tod Browning, 1929), starring Lon Chaney as an animal trapper in Laos. In the Western The Wolf Song (Victor Fleming, 1929), she appeared alongside Gary Cooper. As she was regularly cast as 'exotic' or 'ethnic' women that were volatile and hot-tempered, gossip columnists took to referring to VĂ©lez as "Mexican Hurricane", "The Mexican Wildcat", "The Mexican Madcap", "Whoopee Lupe" and "The Hot Tamale". Lupe VĂ©lez made the transition to sound films without difficulty. Studio executives had predicted that her accent would likely hamper her ability to make the transition. That idea was dispelled after she appeared in the all-talking Rin Tin Tin vehicle, Tiger Rose (George Fitzmaurice, 1929). The film was a hit and VĂ©lez's sound career was established. VĂ©lez appeared in a series of Pre-Code films like Hell Harbor (Henry King, 1930), The Storm (William Wyler, 1930), and the crime drama East Is West (Monta Bell, 1930) opposite Edward G. Robinson. The next year, she appeared in her second film for Cecil B. DeMille, Squaw Man (Cecil B. DeMille, 1931), opposite Warner Baxter, in Resurrection (Edwin Carewe, 1931), and The Cuban Love Song (W.S. Van Dyke, 1931), with the popular singer Lawrence Tibbett. She had a supporting role in Kongo (William J. Cowen, 1932) with Walter Huston, a sound remake of West of Zanzibar (Tod Browning, 1928) which tries to outdo the Lon Chaney original in morbidity. She also starred in Spanish-language versions of Universal films like ResurrecciĂłn (Eduardo Arozamena, David Selman, 1931), the Spanish version of Resurrection (1931), and Hombres en mi vida (Eduardo Arozamena, David Selman, 1932), the Spanish version of Men in Her Life (William Beaudine, 1931) in which Lois Moran had starred.

 

In 1932, Lupe VĂ©lez took a break from her film career and traveled to New York City where she was signed by Broadway impresario Florenz Ziegfeld, Jr. to take over the role of "Conchita" in the musical revue 'Hot-Cha!'. The show also starred Bert Lahr, Eleanor Powell, and Buddy Rogers. Back in Hollywood, Lupe switched to comedy after playing dramatic roles for five years. Denny Jackson at IMDb: "In 1933 she played the lead role of Pepper in Hot Pepper (1933). This film showcased her comedic talents and helped her to show the world her vital personality. She was delightful." After Hot Pepper (John G. Blystone, 1933) with Edmund Lowe and Victor McLaglen, Lupe played beautiful but volatile, characters in a series of successful films like Strictly Dynamite (Elliott Nugent, 1934), Palooka (Benjamin Stoloff, 1934) both opposite Jimmy Durante, and Hollywood Party (Allan Dwan, a.o., 1934) with Laurel and Hardy. Although VĂ©lez was a popular actress, RKO Pictures did not renew her contract in 1934. Over the next few years, VĂ©lez worked for various studios as a freelance actress; she also spent two years in England where she filmed The Morals of Marcus (Miles Mander, 1935) and Gypsy Melody (Edmond T. GrĂ©ville, 1936). She returned to Los Angeles the following year where she appeared in the final part of the Wheeler & Woolsey comedy High Flyers (Edward F. Cline, 1937). In 1938, VĂ©lez made her final appearance on Broadway in the musical You Never Know, by Cole Porter. The show received poor reviews from critics but received a large amount of publicity due to the feud between VĂ©lez and fellow cast member Libby Holman. Holman was irritated by the attention VĂ©lez garnered from the show with her impersonations of several actresses including Gloria Swanson, Katharine Hepburn, and Shirley Temple. The feud came to a head during a performance in New Haven, Connecticut after VĂ©lez punched Holman in between curtain calls and gave her a black eye. The feud effectively ended the show. Upon her return to Mexico City in 1938 to star in her first Mexican film, VĂ©lez was greeted by ten thousand fans. The film La Zandunga (Fernando de Fuentes, 1938) co-starring Arturo de CĂłrdova, was a critical and financial success. VĂ©lez was slated to appear in four more Mexican films, but instead, she returned to Los Angeles and went back to work for RKO Pictures. In 1939, Lupe VĂ©lez was cast opposite Leon Errol and Donald Woods in the B-comedy, The Girl from Mexico (Leslie Goodwins, 1939). Despite being a B film, it was a hit with audiences and RKO re-teamed her with Errol and Wood for a sequel, Mexican Spitfire (Leslie Goodwins, 1940). That film was also a success and led to a series of eight Spitfire films. Wikipedia: "In the series, VĂ©lez portrays Carmelita Lindsay, a temperamental yet friendly Mexican singer married to Dennis 'Denny' Lindsay (Woods), an elegant American gentleman. The Spitfire films rejuvenated VĂ©lez's career. Moreover, they were films in which a Latina headlined for eight films straight –a true rarity." In addition to the Spitfire series, she was cast in such films as Six Lessons from Madame La Zonga (John Rawlins, 1941), Playmates (David Butler, 1941) opposite John Barrymore, and Redhead from Manhattan (Lew Landers, 1943). In 1943, the final film in the Spitfire series, Mexican Spitfire's Blessed Event (Leslie Goodwins, 1943), was released. By that time, the novelty of the series had begun to wane. Velez co-starred with Eddie Albert in the romantic comedy, Ladies' Day (Leslie Goodwins, 1943), about an actress and a baseball player. In 1944, VĂ©lez returned to Mexico to star in an adaptation of Émile Zola's novel Nana (Roberto GavaldĂłn, Celestino Gorostiza, 1944), which was well-received. It would be her final film. After filming wrapped, VĂ©lez returned to Los Angeles and began preparing for another stage role in New York.

 

Lupe Vélez's temper and jealousy in her often tempestuous romantic relationships were well documented and became tabloid fodder, often overshadowing her career. Vélez was straightforward with the press and was regularly contacted by gossip columnists for stories about her romantic exploits. Her first long-term relationship was with actor Gary Cooper. Vélez met Cooper while filming The Wolf Song in 1929 and began a two-year affair with him. The relationship was passionate but often stormy. Reportedly Vélez chased Cooper around with a knife during an argument and cut him severely enough to require stitches. By that time, the rocky relationship had taken its toll on Cooper who had lost 45 pounds and was suffering from nervous exhaustion. Paramount Pictures ordered him to take a vacation to recuperate. While he was boarding the train, Vélez showed up at the train station and fired a pistol at him. During her marriage to actor Johnny Weissmuller, stories of their frequent physical fights were regularly reported in the press. Vélez reportedly inflicted scratches, bruises, and love-bites on Weissmuller during their fights and "passionate love-making". In July 1934, after ten months of marriage, Vélez filed for divorce citing cruelty. She withdrew the petition a week later after reconciling with Weissmuller. In January 1935, she filed for divorce a second time and was granted an interlocutory decree that was dismissed when the couple reconciled a month later. In August 1938, Vélez filed for divorce for a third time, again charging Weissmuller with cruelty. Their divorce was finalised in August 1939. After the divorce became final, Vélez began dating actor Guinn "Big Boy" Williams in late 1940. They were reportedly engaged but never married. Vélez was also linked to author Erich Maria Remarque and the boxers Jack Johnson and Jack Dempsey. In 1943, Vélez began an affair with her La Zandunga co-star Arturo de Córdova. De Córdova had recently moved to Hollywood after signing with Paramount Pictures. Despite the fact that de Córdova was married to Mexican actress Enna Arana with whom he had four children, Vélez granted an interview to gossip columnist Louella Parsons in September 1943 and announced that the two were engaged. Vélez ended the engagement in early 1944, reportedly after de Córdova's wife refused to give him a divorce. Vélez then met and began dating a struggling young Austrian actor named Harald Maresch (who went by the stage name Harald Ramond). In September 1944, she discovered she was pregnant with Ramond's child. She announced their engagement in late November 1944. On 10 December, four days before her death, Vélez announced she had ended the engagement and kicked Ramond out of her home. On the evening of 13 December 1944, Vélez dined with her two friends, the silent film star Estelle Taylor and Venita Oakie. In the early morning hours of 14 December, Vélez retired to her bedroom, where she consumed 75 Seconal pills and a glass of brandy. Her secretary, Beulah Kinder, found the actress's body on her bed later that morning. A suicide note addressed to Harald Ramond was found nearby. Lupe Vélez was only 36 years old. More than four-thousand people filed past her casket during her funeral. Her body was interred in Mexico City, at Panteón Civil de Dolores Cemetery. Velez' estate, valued at $125,000 and consisting mostly of her Rodeo House home, two cars, jewelry, and personal effects were left to her secretary Beulah Kinder with the remainder in trust for her mother, Mrs. Josephine Velez. Together with Dolores del Rio, Ramon Novarro, and José Mojica, she was one of the few Mexican people who had made history in the early years of Hollywood.

 

Sources: Denny Jackson (IMDb), Wikipedia, and IMDb.

 

And, please check out our blog European Film Star Postcards.

Dutch postcard by Smeets & Schippers, Amsterdam. Photo: George Hurrell / MGM (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer).

 

Lupe Velez (1908-1944), was one of the first Mexican actresses to succeed in Hollywood. Her nicknames were 'The Mexican Spitfire' and 'Hot Pepper'. She was the leading lady in such silent films as The Gaucho (1927), Lady of the Pavements (1928), and Wolf Song (1929). During the 1930s, her well-known explosive screen persona was exploited in a series of successful films like Hot Pepper (1933), Strictly Dynamite (1934), and Hollywood Party (1934). In the 1940s, VĂ©lez's popularity peaked after appearing in the Mexican Spitfire films, a series created to capitalise on VĂ©lez's well-documented fiery personality. She had several highly publicised romances and a stormy marriage. In 1944, VĂ©lez died of an intentional overdose of the barbiturate drug Seconal. Her death and the circumstances surrounding it have been the subject of speculation and controversy.

 

Lupe VĂ©lez was born MarĂ­a Guadalupe Villalobos VĂ©lez in 1908 in the city of San Luis PotosĂ­ in Mexico. She was the daughter of Jacobo Villalobos Reyes, a colonel in the army of the dictator Porfirio Diaz, and his wife Josefina VĂ©lez, an opera singer according to some sources, or vaudeville singer according to others. She had three sisters: Mercedes, Reina and Josefina, and a brother, Emigdio. The family was financially comfortable and lived in a large home. At the age of 13, her parents sent her to study at Our Lady of the Lake (now Our Lady of the Lake University) in San Antonio, Texas. It was at Our Lady of the Lake that VĂ©lez learned to speak English and began to dance. She later admitted that she liked dance class, but was otherwise a poor student. Denny Jackson at IMDb: "Life was hard for her family, and Lupe returned to Mexico to help them out financially. She worked as a salesgirl for a department store for the princely sum of $4 a week. Every week she would turn most of her salary over to her mother, but kept a little for herself so she could take dancing lessons. By now, she figured, with her mature shape and grand personality, she thought she could make a try at show business." She began her career as a performer in Mexican vaudeville in 1924. She initially performed under her paternal surname, but after her father returned home from the war, he was outraged that his daughter had decided to become a stage performer. She chose her maternal surname, "VĂ©lez", as her stage name and her mother introduced VĂ©lez and her sister Josefina to the popular Spanish Mexican vedette MarĂ­a Conesa, "La Gatita Blanca". VĂ©lez debuted in a show led by Conesa, where she sang 'Oh Charley, My Boy' and danced the shimmy. Aurelio Campos, a young pianist, and friend of the VĂ©lez sisters recommended Lupe to stage producers, Carlos Ortega and Manuel Castro. Ortega and Castro were preparing a season revue at the Regis Theatre and hired VĂ©lez to join the company in March 1925. Later that year, VĂ©lez starred in the revues 'Mexican Rataplan' and 'ÂĄNo lo tapes!', both parodies of the Bataclan's shows in Paris. Her suggestive singing and provocative dancing was a hit with audiences, and she soon established herself as one of the main stars of vaudeville in Mexico. After a year and a half, VĂ©lez left the revue after the manager refused to give her a raise. She then joined the Teatro Principal but was fired after three months due to her "feisty attitude". VĂ©lez was quickly hired by the Teatro Lirico, where her salary rose to 100 pesos a day. In 1926, Frank A. Woodyard, an American who had seen VĂ©lez perform, recommended her to stage director Richard Bennett, the father of actresses Joan and Constance Bennett. Bennett was looking for an actress to portray a Mexican cantina singer in his upcoming play 'The Dove'. He sent VĂ©lez a telegram inviting her to Los Angeles to appear in the play. VĂ©lez had been planning to go to Cuba to perform, but quickly changed her plans and traveled to Los Angeles. However, upon arrival, she discovered that she had been replaced by another actress.

 

While in Los Angeles, Lupe VĂ©lez met the comedian Fanny Brice. Brice recommended her to Flo Ziegfeld, who hired her to perform in New York City. While VĂ©lez was preparing to leave Los Angeles, she received a call from MGM producer Harry Rapf, who offered her a screen test. Producer and director Hal Roach saw VĂ©lez's screen test and hired her for a small role in the comic Laurel and Hardy short Sailors, Beware! (Fred Guiol, Hal Yates, 1927). After her debut, VĂ©lez appeared in another Hal Roach short, What Women Did for Me (James Parrott, 1927), opposite Charley Chase. Later that year, she did a screen test for the upcoming Douglas Fairbanks feature The Gaucho (F. Richard Jones, 1927). Fairbanks was impressed by VĂ©lez and hired her to appear in the film with him. The Gaucho was a hit and critics were duly impressed with VĂ©lez's ability to hold her own alongside Fairbanks, who was well known for his spirited acting and impressive stunts. Her second major film was Stand and Deliver (Donald Crisp, 1928), produced by Cecil B. DeMille. That same year, she was named one of the WAMPAS Baby Stars. Then she appeared in Lady of the Pavements (1929), directed by D. W. Griffith, and Where East Is East (Tod Browning, 1929), starring Lon Chaney as an animal trapper in Laos. In the Western The Wolf Song (Victor Fleming, 1929), she appeared alongside Gary Cooper. As she was regularly cast as 'exotic' or 'ethnic' women that were volatile and hot-tempered, gossip columnists took to referring to VĂ©lez as "Mexican Hurricane", "The Mexican Wildcat", "The Mexican Madcap", "Whoopee Lupe" and "The Hot Tamale". Lupe VĂ©lez made the transition to sound films without difficulty. Studio executives had predicted that her accent would likely hamper her ability to make the transition. That idea was dispelled after she appeared in the all-talking Rin Tin Tin vehicle, Tiger Rose (George Fitzmaurice, 1929). The film was a hit and VĂ©lez's sound career was established. VĂ©lez appeared in a series of Pre-Code films like Hell Harbor (Henry King, 1930), The Storm (William Wyler, 1930), and the crime drama East Is West (Monta Bell, 1930) opposite Edward G. Robinson. The next year, she appeared in her second film for Cecil B. DeMille, Squaw Man (Cecil B. DeMille, 1931), opposite Warner Baxter, in Resurrection (Edwin Carewe, 1931), and The Cuban Love Song (W.S. Van Dyke, 1931), with the popular singer Lawrence Tibbett. She had a supporting role in Kongo (William J. Cowen, 1932) with Walter Huston, a sound remake of West of Zanzibar (Tod Browning, 1928) which tries to outdo the Lon Chaney original in morbidity. She also starred in Spanish-language versions of Universal films like ResurrecciĂłn (Eduardo Arozamena, David Selman, 1931), the Spanish version of Resurrection (1931), and Hombres en mi vida (Eduardo Arozamena, David Selman, 1932), the Spanish version of Men in Her Life (William Beaudine, 1931) in which Lois Moran had starred.

 

In 1932, Lupe VĂ©lez took a break from her film career and traveled to New York City where she was signed by Broadway impresario Florenz Ziegfeld, Jr. to take over the role of "Conchita" in the musical revue 'Hot-Cha!'. The show also starred Bert Lahr, Eleanor Powell, and Buddy Rogers. Back in Hollywood, Lupe switched to comedy after playing dramatic roles for five years. Denny Jackson at IMDb: "In 1933 she played the lead role of Pepper in Hot Pepper (1933). This film showcased her comedic talents and helped her to show the world her vital personality. She was delightful." After Hot Pepper (John G. Blystone, 1933) with Edmund Lowe and Victor McLaglen, Lupe played beautiful but volatile, characters in a series of successful films like Strictly Dynamite (Elliott Nugent, 1934), Palooka (Benjamin Stoloff, 1934) both opposite Jimmy Durante, and Hollywood Party (Allan Dwan, a.o., 1934) with Laurel and Hardy. Although VĂ©lez was a popular actress, RKO Pictures did not renew her contract in 1934. Over the next few years, VĂ©lez worked for various studios as a freelance actress; she also spent two years in England where she filmed The Morals of Marcus (Miles Mander, 1935) and Gypsy Melody (Edmond T. GrĂ©ville, 1936). She returned to Los Angeles the following year where she appeared in the final part of the Wheeler & Woolsey comedy High Flyers (Edward F. Cline, 1937). In 1938, VĂ©lez made her final appearance on Broadway in the musical You Never Know, by Cole Porter. The show received poor reviews from critics but received a large amount of publicity due to the feud between VĂ©lez and fellow cast member Libby Holman. Holman was irritated by the attention VĂ©lez garnered from the show with her impersonations of several actresses including Gloria Swanson, Katharine Hepburn, and Shirley Temple. The feud came to a head during a performance in New Haven, Connecticut after VĂ©lez punched Holman in between curtain calls and gave her a black eye. The feud effectively ended the show. Upon her return to Mexico City in 1938 to star in her first Mexican film, VĂ©lez was greeted by ten thousand fans. The film La Zandunga (Fernando de Fuentes, 1938) co-starring Arturo de CĂłrdova, was a critical and financial success. VĂ©lez was slated to appear in four more Mexican films, but instead, she returned to Los Angeles and went back to work for RKO Pictures. In 1939, Lupe VĂ©lez was cast opposite Leon Errol and Donald Woods in the B-comedy, The Girl from Mexico (Leslie Goodwins, 1939). Despite being a B film, it was a hit with audiences and RKO re-teamed her with Errol and Wood for a sequel, Mexican Spitfire (Leslie Goodwins, 1940). That film was also a success and led to a series of eight Spitfire films. Wikipedia: "In the series, VĂ©lez portrays Carmelita Lindsay, a temperamental yet friendly Mexican singer married to Dennis 'Denny' Lindsay (Woods), an elegant American gentleman. The Spitfire films rejuvenated VĂ©lez's career. Moreover, they were films in which a Latina headlined for eight films straight –a true rarity." In addition to the Spitfire series, she was cast in such films as Six Lessons from Madame La Zonga (John Rawlins, 1941), Playmates (David Butler, 1941) opposite John Barrymore, and Redhead from Manhattan (Lew Landers, 1943). In 1943, the final film in the Spitfire series, Mexican Spitfire's Blessed Event (Leslie Goodwins, 1943), was released. By that time, the novelty of the series had begun to wane. Velez co-starred with Eddie Albert in the romantic comedy, Ladies' Day (Leslie Goodwins, 1943), about an actress and a baseball player. In 1944, VĂ©lez returned to Mexico to star in an adaptation of Émile Zola's novel Nana (Roberto GavaldĂłn, Celestino Gorostiza, 1944), which was well-received. It would be her final film. After filming wrapped, VĂ©lez returned to Los Angeles and began preparing for another stage role in New York.

 

Lupe Vélez's temper and jealousy in her often tempestuous romantic relationships were well documented and became tabloid fodder, often overshadowing her career. Vélez was straightforward with the press and was regularly contacted by gossip columnists for stories about her romantic exploits. Her first long-term relationship was with actor Gary Cooper. Vélez met Cooper while filming The Wolf Song in 1929 and began a two-year affair with him. The relationship was passionate but often stormy. Reportedly Vélez chased Cooper around with a knife during an argument and cut him severely enough to require stitches. By that time, the rocky relationship had taken its toll on Cooper who had lost 45 pounds and was suffering from nervous exhaustion. Paramount Pictures ordered him to take a vacation to recuperate. While he was boarding the train, Vélez showed up at the train station and fired a pistol at him. During her marriage to actor Johnny Weissmuller, stories of their frequent physical fights were regularly reported in the press. Vélez reportedly inflicted scratches, bruises, and love-bites on Weissmuller during their fights and "passionate love-making". In July 1934, after ten months of marriage, Vélez filed for divorce citing cruelty. She withdrew the petition a week later after reconciling with Weissmuller. In January 1935, she filed for divorce a second time and was granted an interlocutory decree that was dismissed when the couple reconciled a month later. In August 1938, Vélez filed for divorce for a third time, again charging Weissmuller with cruelty. Their divorce was finalised in August 1939. After the divorce became final, Vélez began dating actor Guinn "Big Boy" Williams in late 1940. They were reportedly engaged but never married. Vélez was also linked to author Erich Maria Remarque and the boxers Jack Johnson and Jack Dempsey. In 1943, Vélez began an affair with her La Zandunga co-star Arturo de Córdova. De Córdova had recently moved to Hollywood after signing with Paramount Pictures. Despite the fact that de Córdova was married to Mexican actress Enna Arana with whom he had four children, Vélez granted an interview to gossip columnist Louella Parsons in September 1943 and announced that the two were engaged. Vélez ended the engagement in early 1944, reportedly after de Córdova's wife refused to give him a divorce. Vélez then met and began dating a struggling young Austrian actor named Harald Maresch (who went by the stage name Harald Ramond). In September 1944, she discovered she was pregnant with Ramond's child. She announced their engagement in late November 1944. On 10 December, four days before her death, Vélez announced she had ended the engagement and kicked Ramond out of her home. On the evening of 13 December 1944, Vélez dined with her two friends, the silent film star Estelle Taylor and Venita Oakie. In the early morning hours of 14 December, Vélez retired to her bedroom, where she consumed 75 Seconal pills and a glass of brandy. Her secretary, Beulah Kinder, found the actress's body on her bed later that morning. A suicide note addressed to Harald Ramond was found nearby. Lupe Vélez was only 36 years old. More than four-thousand people filed past her casket during her funeral. Her body was interred in Mexico City, at Panteón Civil de Dolores Cemetery. Velez' estate, valued at $125,000 and consisting mostly of her Rodeo House home, two cars, jewelry, and personal effects were left to her secretary Beulah Kinder with the remainder in trust for her mother, Mrs. Josephine Velez. Together with Dolores del Rio, Ramon Novarro, and José Mojica, she was one of the few Mexican people who had made history in the early years of Hollywood.

 

Sources: Denny Jackson (IMDb), Wikipedia, and IMDb.

 

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Italian postcard by S. Vettori, Bologna, no. 206. Photo: Badodi.

 

Charming and elegant Vera Vergani (1894-1989) was primarily an Italian stage actress, famous for her interpretations in the first stagings of Pirandello’s plays. She became one of the popular divas of the Italian cinema when she appeared in a dozen silent films between 1917 and 1921 for directors like Augusto Genina and Roberto Roberti.

 

Vera Vergani was born in Milan in 1894 She was the granddaughter of puppet master Vittorio Podrecca and sister of journalist and stage write Orio Vergani. She debuted on stage in 1912 at the Benini company. Two years later she joined the Talli-Melato-Giovannini company and in 1916 she became the ‘primattrice’ (leading lady) in the company of the famous actor Ruggero Ruggeri. She was only 21 at the time. She played Ophelia in William Shakespeare’s Hamlet and had a huge success with the title role in Gabriele D’Anunzio’s 'La Figlia di Jorio' (The Daughter of Jorio). She would play that role again and again. In 1916 film producer Giovanni Xilo managed to lure the popular actress to work for his Monopol-Rome Film. He hoped to add prestige to his productions with big names of the stage. Producers had done so earlier with Lyda Borelli and Ermete Zacconi. When her stage company was at rest in the summertime, Vergani played in two films for which Augusto Genina had written the original scripts: Il presagio/The Presentiment (Augusto Genina, 1916) and La menzogna/The Lie (Augusto Genina, 1916) with Tullio Carminati and Oreste Bilancia. They were produced at the same time, using the same cast and crew, at the Cines film studio, which was rented for the occasion. As the publicity indicates, Il presagio was "the drama of a beautiful woman who seems to be born for the joy of the eyes and for love, but instead meets futile caprice and tragic passion". La menzogna is "the violent story of a woman ready to sacrifice her honour to save her husband, but justice protects the good ones and will prevail in the end". The film did not have a very good reception and Vergani was accused of betraying the theatre. "It is a night without a moonbeam", one critic wrote, and Vera didn’t want to know about film anymore for several years. On stage she was very successful again with both critics and audiences in plays by Luigi Pirandello and Gabriele D'Annunzio. In the 1910s and 1920's, she remained foremost a stage actress, appreciated not only for her beauty and elegance but also for her excellent interpretations.

 

In 1919, Vera Vergani returned to the screen. Giuseppe Barattolo, the producer at Caesar Film, offered her to play in three films based on famous stage plays Dora o le spie/Dora or the spies (Robert Roberti, 1919) written by Victorien Sardou, La paura d'amare/Fear of love (Robert Roberti, 1920) by Dario Niccodemi, and Giulia di TrĂ©coeur/Lucie de Trecoeur (Camillo De Riso, Augusto Genina, 1921) by Octave Feuillet. Robert Roberti had made his career as the director of films with diva Francesca Bertini. The critics didn’t like his direction too much but were full of praise for Vera’s lively interpretation of the dramas, along with her style of performance on stage. Another film based on a play by Niccodemi followed, L'envolĂ©e/La volata/The sprint (1919). Vera is dressed in the film as a daring aviator, "flaming expression of the new" as one critic wrote, who also noted in the aviation "the clearest emergence of these times". The actress also played in the film La modella/The model (Mario Caserini, 1920) based on a comedy by Alfredo Testoni, La buona figliola/The good daughter (Mario Caserini, 1919) based on Sabatino Lopez, Fior d'amore/Flower of love (Mario Caserini, 1921) again based on Niccodemi, and Caterina (Mario Caserini, 1921) written by Henri Lavedan. Her co-star in these films was Nerio Bernardi. She often repeated on screen, of which by now she knew all the odds and outs, her previous stage performances. But after La Vittima/The Victim (Jacques Creusy, 1921), a neglectable tearjerker, she returned to the stage for good.

 

During the fundamental years of her stage career, Vera Vergani played for the company of Dario Niccodemi. From 1921 on, she was the company's ‘primattrice’ for nine seasons. Her regular male co-star was Luigi Cimara. Memorable from these years were her performances in the first stagings of Luigi Pirandello’s plays 'Sei personaggi in cerca d'autore'(Six Characters in Search of an Author) (1921) and 'Ciascuno a suo modo' (Each on His Own Way) (1924). After the world premiere of 'Sei personaggi in cerca d'autore', hundreds of people flooded the stage and yelled violently at the author. The public, accustomed to the conventional theatre did not accept the avant-garde text. Pirandello had to barricade himself in Vergani’s dressing room. The beautiful actress suddenly stepped forward, made a silencing gesture to the raging crowd, and declared smiling sweetly: “Prima di toccare Pirandello dovete passare sul mio cadavere.“ (Before you touch Pirandello, you will have to pass my dead body). Pirandello survived and nowadays his play is considered a classic of the Italian theatre. Vittorio Paliotti writes at the website L’Isola that Vergani's photos graced the covers of European magazines and that she received an ‘avalanche’ with love letters from all over the world. Before her performances, her dressing rooms were transformed into greenhouses. The fascinating and elegant actress retired in 1930, after a last performance at the Teatro Manzoni in Milan. She starred once more in the play which had contributed to her fortune: 'La figlia di Iorio' by Gabriele D'Annunzio. The reason for her retirement was her marriage with Leonardo Pescarolo, a naval officer from the island of Procida. They had two children: assistant director Vera Pescarolo, who would become the wife of film director Giuliano Montaldo, and film producer Leo Pescarolo. Vera Vergano returned once to the cinema. In 1965 she appeared in a small role in Il morbidone/The Dreamer (Massimo Franciosa, 1965) with Anouk AimĂ©e. Vera Vergani died in Procida in 1989. Her granddaughter and great-grandchildren are also working in the film business: costume designer Elisabetta Montaldo, assistant director Inti Carboni and makeup designer Jana Carboni.

 

Sources: Vittoro Martinelli (Le dive del silenzio) (Italian), Vittorio Paliotti (L’Isola) (Italian), Procidamia (Italian) and IMDb.

 

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West-German postcard . Photo: Studio / Titanus Film / Matador-Film. Katharina Mayberg in Klisura (Bosko Kosanovic, 1956).

 

German actress Katharina Mayberg (1925–2007) was a popular actress in German and Austrian film productions the 1950s and 1960s.

 

Katharina Mayberg was born in 1925 in Hamburg, Germany. Mayberg took acting classes with Waldemar Stegemann and initially worked as a stage actress. She made her film debut with a small part in the drama Die Söhne des Herrn Gaspary/Gaspary's Sons (Rolf Meyer, 1948) starring Lil Dagover and Hans StĂŒwe. The following year, she played Barbarina in the East German musical Figaros Hochzeit/The Marriage of Figaro (Georg Wildhagen, 1949) starring Angelika Hauff and Willi Domgraf-Fassbaender. It was based on the opera The Marriage of Figaro by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Lorenzo Da Ponte, which was itself based on the play The Marriage of Figaro by Pierre Beaumarchais. The film was made by DEFA, the state production company of East Germany, in their Babelsberg Studio and the nearby Babelsberg Park. The production used not the original Italian but a German text. The recitatives were replaced with dialogue spoken by the actors. It sold 5,479,427 tickets. She had a supporting part in the Austrian-German sports comedy Der Theodor im Fußballtor/Theodore the Goalkeeper (E.W. Emo, 1950) starring Theo Lingen and Hans Moser. She had a major role in the drama Hinter Klostermauern/Behind Monastery Walls (Harald Reinl, 1952) starring Olga Tschechowa and Frits van Dongen (Philip Dorn). The film takes place in a priory and is sometimes known by the alternative title of The Unholy Intruders.

 

Katharina Mayberg had her first female leading role in the Austrian-German crime film Die Todesarena/Arena of Death (Kurt Meisel, 1953) co-starring Richard HĂ€ussler and Friedl Hardt. A popular success was the drama Rosen-Resli/Rose-Girl Resli (Harald Reinl, 1954) which turned child actress Christine Kaufmann into a star. In this and other films like the romantic drama Die schöne MĂŒllerin/The Beautiful Miller (Wolfgang Liebeneiner, 1954) featuring Waltraut Haas, Mayberg played supporting parts again. Throughout the 1950s, her parts became smaller, such as in the Spanish film El batallĂłn de las sombras/The Battalion in the Shadows (Manuel Mur Oti, 1957). She played again a leading role as Brunilde in the Italian fantasy Sigfrido/The Dragon's Blood (Giacomo Gentilomo, 1957), based on Richard Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen. Dragon's Blood giant dragon was one of the earliest creatures created by special effects artist Carlo Rambaldi, who later would be responsible for the special effects on King Kong (1976) and E.T. (1982). Back in Germany, Mayberg appeared in comedies like Immer die Radfahrer/Cyclists Forever (Hans Deppe, 1958) and Kauf dir einen bunten Luftballon (GĂ©za von Cziffra, 1961). Later she appeared in the Austrian crime film Mann im Schatten/Man in the Shadow (Arthur Maria Rabenalt, 1961), the TV film Jan Himp und die kleine Brise (Arthur Maria Rabenalt, 1966) with Ulli Lommel, and the sexploitation Wilder Sex junger MĂ€dchen/Love Times Three (JĂŒrgen Schindler, Nino Casale, 1972). In the literary adaptation Der Schimmelreiter/Rider of a White Horse (Alfred Weidenmann, 1977), starring John Phillip Law and Gert Fröbe, she played her last role, the maid Ann Grete. The film was produced by her own company Schimmelreiter Albis Film GmbH. Mayberg was married to film producer Alf Teich from 1956 till 1992 (his death) and they had a son. Katharina Mayberg passed away after a long illness in 2007 at her home in Hamburg-Othmarschen. She was 83.

 

Sources: Wikipedia (English and German), and IMDb.

 

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British Real Photograph postcard. Photo: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

 

Lupe Velez (1908-1944), was one of the first Mexican actresses to succeed in Hollywood. Her nicknames were 'The Mexican Spitfire' and 'Hot Pepper'. She was the leading lady in such silent films as The Gaucho (1927), Lady of the Pavements (1928), and Wolf Song (1929). During the 1930s, her well-known explosive screen persona was exploited in a series of successful films like Hot Pepper (1933), Strictly Dynamite (1934), and Hollywood Party (1934). In the 1940s, VĂ©lez's popularity peaked after appearing in the Mexican Spitfire films, a series created to capitalise on VĂ©lez's well-documented fiery personality. She had several highly publicised romances and a stormy marriage. In 1944, VĂ©lez died of an intentional overdose of the barbiturate drug Seconal. Her death and the circumstances surrounding it have been the subject of speculation and controversy.

 

Lupe VĂ©lez was born MarĂ­a Guadalupe Villalobos VĂ©lez in 1908 in the city of San Luis PotosĂ­ in Mexico. She was the daughter of Jacobo Villalobos Reyes, a colonel in the army of the dictator Porfirio Diaz, and his wife Josefina VĂ©lez, an opera singer according to some sources, or vaudeville singer according to others. She had three sisters: Mercedes, Reina and Josefina, and a brother, Emigdio. The family was financially comfortable and lived in a large home. At the age of 13, her parents sent her to study at Our Lady of the Lake (now Our Lady of the Lake University) in San Antonio, Texas. It was at Our Lady of the Lake that VĂ©lez learned to speak English and began to dance. She later admitted that she liked dance class, but was otherwise a poor student. Denny Jackson at IMDb: "Life was hard for her family, and Lupe returned to Mexico to help them out financially. She worked as a salesgirl for a department store for the princely sum of $4 a week. Every week she would turn most of her salary over to her mother, but kept a little for herself so she could take dancing lessons. By now, she figured, with her mature shape and grand personality, she thought she could make a try at show business." She began her career as a performer in Mexican vaudeville in 1924. She initially performed under her paternal surname, but after her father returned home from the war, he was outraged that his daughter had decided to become a stage performer. She chose her maternal surname, "VĂ©lez", as her stage name and her mother introduced VĂ©lez and her sister Josefina to the popular Spanish Mexican vedette MarĂ­a Conesa, "La Gatita Blanca". VĂ©lez debuted in a show led by Conesa, where she sang 'Oh Charley, My Boy' and danced the shimmy. Aurelio Campos, a young pianist, and friend of the VĂ©lez sisters recommended Lupe to stage producers, Carlos Ortega and Manuel Castro. Ortega and Castro were preparing a season revue at the Regis Theatre and hired VĂ©lez to join the company in March 1925. Later that year, VĂ©lez starred in the revues 'Mexican Rataplan' and 'ÂĄNo lo tapes!', both parodies of the Bataclan's shows in Paris. Her suggestive singing and provocative dancing was a hit with audiences, and she soon established herself as one of the main stars of vaudeville in Mexico. After a year and a half, VĂ©lez left the revue after the manager refused to give her a raise. She then joined the Teatro Principal but was fired after three months due to her "feisty attitude". VĂ©lez was quickly hired by the Teatro Lirico, where her salary rose to 100 pesos a day. In 1926, Frank A. Woodyard, an American who had seen VĂ©lez perform, recommended her to stage director Richard Bennett, the father of actresses Joan and Constance Bennett. Bennett was looking for an actress to portray a Mexican cantina singer in his upcoming play 'The Dove'. He sent VĂ©lez a telegram inviting her to Los Angeles to appear in the play. VĂ©lez had been planning to go to Cuba to perform, but quickly changed her plans and traveled to Los Angeles. However, upon arrival, she discovered that she had been replaced by another actress.

 

While in Los Angeles, Lupe VĂ©lez met the comedian Fanny Brice. Brice recommended her to Flo Ziegfeld, who hired her to perform in New York City. While VĂ©lez was preparing to leave Los Angeles, she received a call from MGM producer Harry Rapf, who offered her a screen test. Producer and director Hal Roach saw VĂ©lez's screen test and hired her for a small role in the comic Laurel and Hardy short Sailors, Beware! (Fred Guiol, Hal Yates, 1927). After her debut, VĂ©lez appeared in another Hal Roach short, What Women Did for Me (James Parrott, 1927), opposite Charley Chase. Later that year, she did a screen test for the upcoming Douglas Fairbanks feature The Gaucho (F. Richard Jones, 1927). Fairbanks was impressed by VĂ©lez and hired her to appear in the film with him. The Gaucho was a hit and critics were duly impressed with VĂ©lez's ability to hold her own alongside Fairbanks, who was well known for his spirited acting and impressive stunts. Her second major film was Stand and Deliver (Donald Crisp, 1928), produced by Cecil B. DeMille. That same year, she was named one of the WAMPAS Baby Stars. Then she appeared in Lady of the Pavements (1929), directed by D. W. Griffith, and Where East Is East (Tod Browning, 1929), starring Lon Chaney as an animal trapper in Laos. In the Western The Wolf Song (Victor Fleming, 1929), she appeared alongside Gary Cooper. As she was regularly cast as 'exotic' or 'ethnic' women that were volatile and hot-tempered, gossip columnists took to referring to VĂ©lez as "Mexican Hurricane", "The Mexican Wildcat", "The Mexican Madcap", "Whoopee Lupe" and "The Hot Tamale". Lupe VĂ©lez made the transition to sound films without difficulty. Studio executives had predicted that her accent would likely hamper her ability to make the transition. That idea was dispelled after she appeared in the all-talking Rin Tin Tin vehicle, Tiger Rose (George Fitzmaurice, 1929). The film was a hit and VĂ©lez's sound career was established. VĂ©lez appeared in a series of Pre-Code films like Hell Harbor (Henry King, 1930), The Storm (William Wyler, 1930), and the crime drama East Is West (Monta Bell, 1930) opposite Edward G. Robinson. The next year, she appeared in her second film for Cecil B. DeMille, Squaw Man (Cecil B. DeMille, 1931), opposite Warner Baxter, in Resurrection (Edwin Carewe, 1931), and The Cuban Love Song (W.S. Van Dyke, 1931), with the popular singer Lawrence Tibbett. She had a supporting role in Kongo (William J. Cowen, 1932) with Walter Huston, a sound remake of West of Zanzibar (Tod Browning, 1928) which tries to outdo the Lon Chaney original in morbidity. She also starred in Spanish-language versions of Universal films like ResurrecciĂłn (Eduardo Arozamena, David Selman, 1931), the Spanish version of Resurrection (1931), and Hombres en mi vida (Eduardo Arozamena, David Selman, 1932), the Spanish version of Men in Her Life (William Beaudine, 1931) in which Lois Moran had starred.

 

In 1932, Lupe VĂ©lez took a break from her film career and traveled to New York City where she was signed by Broadway impresario Florenz Ziegfeld, Jr. to take over the role of "Conchita" in the musical revue 'Hot-Cha!'. The show also starred Bert Lahr, Eleanor Powell, and Buddy Rogers. Back in Hollywood, Lupe switched to comedy after playing dramatic roles for five years. Denny Jackson at IMDb: "In 1933 she played the lead role of Pepper in Hot Pepper (1933). This film showcased her comedic talents and helped her to show the world her vital personality. She was delightful." After Hot Pepper (John G. Blystone, 1933) with Edmund Lowe and Victor McLaglen, Lupe played beautiful but volatile, characters in a series of successful films like Strictly Dynamite (Elliott Nugent, 1934), Palooka (Benjamin Stoloff, 1934) both opposite Jimmy Durante, and Hollywood Party (Allan Dwan, a.o., 1934) with Laurel and Hardy. Although VĂ©lez was a popular actress, RKO Pictures did not renew her contract in 1934. Over the next few years, VĂ©lez worked for various studios as a freelance actress; she also spent two years in England where she filmed The Morals of Marcus (Miles Mander, 1935) and Gypsy Melody (Edmond T. GrĂ©ville, 1936). She returned to Los Angeles the following year where she appeared in the final part of the Wheeler & Woolsey comedy High Flyers (Edward F. Cline, 1937). In 1938, VĂ©lez made her final appearance on Broadway in the musical You Never Know, by Cole Porter. The show received poor reviews from critics but received a large amount of publicity due to the feud between VĂ©lez and fellow cast member Libby Holman. Holman was irritated by the attention VĂ©lez garnered from the show with her impersonations of several actresses including Gloria Swanson, Katharine Hepburn, and Shirley Temple. The feud came to a head during a performance in New Haven, Connecticut after VĂ©lez punched Holman in between curtain calls and gave her a black eye. The feud effectively ended the show. Upon her return to Mexico City in 1938 to star in her first Mexican film, VĂ©lez was greeted by ten thousand fans. The film La Zandunga (Fernando de Fuentes, 1938) co-starring Arturo de CĂłrdova, was a critical and financial success. VĂ©lez was slated to appear in four more Mexican films, but instead, she returned to Los Angeles and went back to work for RKO Pictures. In 1939, Lupe VĂ©lez was cast opposite Leon Errol and Donald Woods in the B-comedy, The Girl from Mexico (Leslie Goodwins, 1939). Despite being a B film, it was a hit with audiences and RKO re-teamed her with Errol and Wood for a sequel, Mexican Spitfire (Leslie Goodwins, 1940). That film was also a success and led to a series of eight Spitfire films. Wikipedia: "In the series, VĂ©lez portrays Carmelita Lindsay, a temperamental yet friendly Mexican singer married to Dennis 'Denny' Lindsay (Woods), an elegant American gentleman. The Spitfire films rejuvenated VĂ©lez's career. Moreover, they were films in which a Latina headlined for eight films straight –a true rarity." In addition to the Spitfire series, she was cast in such films as Six Lessons from Madame La Zonga (John Rawlins, 1941), Playmates (David Butler, 1941) opposite John Barrymore, and Redhead from Manhattan (Lew Landers, 1943). In 1943, the final film in the Spitfire series, Mexican Spitfire's Blessed Event (Leslie Goodwins, 1943), was released. By that time, the novelty of the series had begun to wane. Velez co-starred with Eddie Albert in the romantic comedy, Ladies' Day (Leslie Goodwins, 1943), about an actress and a baseball player. In 1944, VĂ©lez returned to Mexico to star in an adaptation of Émile Zola's novel Nana (Roberto GavaldĂłn, Celestino Gorostiza, 1944), which was well-received. It would be her final film. After filming wrapped, VĂ©lez returned to Los Angeles and began preparing for another stage role in New York.

 

Lupe Vélez's temper and jealousy in her often tempestuous romantic relationships were well documented and became tabloid fodder, often overshadowing her career. Vélez was straightforward with the press and was regularly contacted by gossip columnists for stories about her romantic exploits. Her first long-term relationship was with actor Gary Cooper. Vélez met Cooper while filming The Wolf Song in 1929 and began a two-year affair with him. The relationship was passionate but often stormy. Reportedly Vélez chased Cooper around with a knife during an argument and cut him severely enough to require stitches. By that time, the rocky relationship had taken its toll on Cooper who had lost 45 pounds and was suffering from nervous exhaustion. Paramount Pictures ordered him to take a vacation to recuperate. While he was boarding the train, Vélez showed up at the train station and fired a pistol at him. During her marriage to actor Johnny Weissmuller, stories of their frequent physical fights were regularly reported in the press. Vélez reportedly inflicted scratches, bruises, and love-bites on Weissmuller during their fights and "passionate love-making". In July 1934, after ten months of marriage, Vélez filed for divorce citing cruelty. She withdrew the petition a week later after reconciling with Weissmuller. In January 1935, she filed for divorce a second time and was granted an interlocutory decree that was dismissed when the couple reconciled a month later. In August 1938, Vélez filed for divorce for a third time, again charging Weissmuller with cruelty. Their divorce was finalised in August 1939. After the divorce became final, Vélez began dating actor Guinn "Big Boy" Williams in late 1940. They were reportedly engaged but never married. Vélez was also linked to author Erich Maria Remarque and the boxers Jack Johnson and Jack Dempsey. In 1943, Vélez began an affair with her La Zandunga co-star Arturo de Córdova. De Córdova had recently moved to Hollywood after signing with Paramount Pictures. Despite the fact that de Córdova was married to Mexican actress Enna Arana with whom he had four children, Vélez granted an interview to gossip columnist Louella Parsons in September 1943 and announced that the two were engaged. Vélez ended the engagement in early 1944, reportedly after de Córdova's wife refused to give him a divorce. Vélez then met and began dating a struggling young Austrian actor named Harald Maresch (who went by the stage name Harald Ramond). In September 1944, she discovered she was pregnant with Ramond's child. She announced their engagement in late November 1944. On 10 December, four days before her death, Vélez announced she had ended the engagement and kicked Ramond out of her home. On the evening of 13 December 1944, Vélez dined with her two friends, the silent film star Estelle Taylor and Venita Oakie. In the early morning hours of 14 December, Vélez retired to her bedroom, where she consumed 75 Seconal pills and a glass of brandy. Her secretary, Beulah Kinder, found the actress's body on her bed later that morning. A suicide note addressed to Harald Ramond was found nearby. Lupe Vélez was only 36 years old. More than four-thousand people filed past her casket during her funeral. Her body was interred in Mexico City, at Panteón Civil de Dolores Cemetery. Velez' estate, valued at $125,000 and consisting mostly of her Rodeo House home, two cars, jewelry, and personal effects were left to her secretary Beulah Kinder with the remainder in trust for her mother, Mrs. Josephine Velez. Together with Dolores del Rio, Ramon Novarro, and José Mojica, she was one of the few Mexican people who had made history in the early years of Hollywood.

 

Sources: Denny Jackson (IMDb), Wikipedia, and IMDb.

 

And, please check out our blog European Film Star Postcards.

German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. A 2013/1, 1939-1940. Photo: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

 

Lupe Velez (1908-1944), was one of the first Mexican actresses to succeed in Hollywood. Her nicknames were 'The Mexican Spitfire' and 'Hot Pepper'. She was the leading lady in such silent films as The Gaucho (1927), Lady of the Pavements (1928), and Wolf Song (1929). During the 1930s, her well-known explosive screen persona was exploited in a series of successful films like Hot Pepper (1933), Strictly Dynamite (1934), and Hollywood Party (1934). In the 1940s, VĂ©lez's popularity peaked after appearing in the Mexican Spitfire films, a series created to capitalise on VĂ©lez's well-documented fiery personality. She had several highly publicised romances and a stormy marriage. In 1944, VĂ©lez died of an intentional overdose of the barbiturate drug Seconal. Her death and the circumstances surrounding it have been the subject of speculation and controversy.

 

Lupe VĂ©lez was born MarĂ­a Guadalupe Villalobos VĂ©lez in 1908 in the city of San Luis PotosĂ­ in Mexico. She was the daughter of Jacobo Villalobos Reyes, a colonel in the army of the dictator Porfirio Diaz, and his wife Josefina VĂ©lez, an opera singer according to some sources, or vaudeville singer according to others. She had three sisters: Mercedes, Reina and Josefina, and a brother, Emigdio. The family was financially comfortable and lived in a large home. At the age of 13, her parents sent her to study at Our Lady of the Lake (now Our Lady of the Lake University) in San Antonio, Texas. It was at Our Lady of the Lake that VĂ©lez learned to speak English and began to dance. She later admitted that she liked dance class, but was otherwise a poor student. Denny Jackson at IMDb: "Life was hard for her family, and Lupe returned to Mexico to help them out financially. She worked as a salesgirl for a department store for the princely sum of $4 a week. Every week she would turn most of her salary over to her mother, but kept a little for herself so she could take dancing lessons. By now, she figured, with her mature shape and grand personality, she thought she could make a try at show business." She began her career as a performer in Mexican vaudeville in 1924. She initially performed under her paternal surname, but after her father returned home from the war, he was outraged that his daughter had decided to become a stage performer. She chose her maternal surname, "VĂ©lez", as her stage name and her mother introduced VĂ©lez and her sister Josefina to the popular Spanish Mexican vedette MarĂ­a Conesa, "La Gatita Blanca". VĂ©lez debuted in a show led by Conesa, where she sang 'Oh Charley, My Boy' and danced the shimmy. Aurelio Campos, a young pianist, and friend of the VĂ©lez sisters recommended Lupe to stage producers, Carlos Ortega and Manuel Castro. Ortega and Castro were preparing a season revue at the Regis Theatre and hired VĂ©lez to join the company in March 1925. Later that year, VĂ©lez starred in the revues 'Mexican Rataplan' and 'ÂĄNo lo tapes!', both parodies of the Bataclan's shows in Paris. Her suggestive singing and provocative dancing was a hit with audiences, and she soon established herself as one of the main stars of vaudeville in Mexico. After a year and a half, VĂ©lez left the revue after the manager refused to give her a raise. She then joined the Teatro Principal but was fired after three months due to her "feisty attitude". VĂ©lez was quickly hired by the Teatro Lirico, where her salary rose to 100 pesos a day. In 1926, Frank A. Woodyard, an American who had seen VĂ©lez perform, recommended her to stage director Richard Bennett, the father of actresses Joan and Constance Bennett. Bennett was looking for an actress to portray a Mexican cantina singer in his upcoming play 'The Dove'. He sent VĂ©lez a telegram inviting her to Los Angeles to appear in the play. VĂ©lez had been planning to go to Cuba to perform, but quickly changed her plans and traveled to Los Angeles. However, upon arrival, she discovered that she had been replaced by another actress.

 

While in Los Angeles, Lupe VĂ©lez met the comedian Fanny Brice. Brice recommended her to Flo Ziegfeld, who hired her to perform in New York City. While VĂ©lez was preparing to leave Los Angeles, she received a call from MGM producer Harry Rapf, who offered her a screen test. Producer and director Hal Roach saw VĂ©lez's screen test and hired her for a small role in the comic Laurel and Hardy short Sailors, Beware! (Fred Guiol, Hal Yates, 1927). After her debut, VĂ©lez appeared in another Hal Roach short, What Women Did for Me (James Parrott, 1927), opposite Charley Chase. Later that year, she did a screen test for the upcoming Douglas Fairbanks feature The Gaucho (F. Richard Jones, 1927). Fairbanks was impressed by VĂ©lez and hired her to appear in the film with him. The Gaucho was a hit and critics were duly impressed with VĂ©lez's ability to hold her own alongside Fairbanks, who was well known for his spirited acting and impressive stunts. Her second major film was Stand and Deliver (Donald Crisp, 1928), produced by Cecil B. DeMille. That same year, she was named one of the WAMPAS Baby Stars. Then she appeared in Lady of the Pavements (1929), directed by D. W. Griffith, and Where East Is East (Tod Browning, 1929), starring Lon Chaney as an animal trapper in Laos. In the Western The Wolf Song (Victor Fleming, 1929), she appeared alongside Gary Cooper. As she was regularly cast as 'exotic' or 'ethnic' women that were volatile and hot-tempered, gossip columnists took to referring to VĂ©lez as "Mexican Hurricane", "The Mexican Wildcat", "The Mexican Madcap", "Whoopee Lupe" and "The Hot Tamale". Lupe VĂ©lez made the transition to sound films without difficulty. Studio executives had predicted that her accent would likely hamper her ability to make the transition. That idea was dispelled after she appeared in the all-talking Rin Tin Tin vehicle, Tiger Rose (George Fitzmaurice, 1929). The film was a hit and VĂ©lez's sound career was established. VĂ©lez appeared in a series of Pre-Code films like Hell Harbor (Henry King, 1930), The Storm (William Wyler, 1930), and the crime drama East Is West (Monta Bell, 1930) opposite Edward G. Robinson. The next year, she appeared in her second film for Cecil B. DeMille, Squaw Man (Cecil B. DeMille, 1931), opposite Warner Baxter, in Resurrection (Edwin Carewe, 1931), and The Cuban Love Song (W.S. Van Dyke, 1931), with the popular singer Lawrence Tibbett. She had a supporting role in Kongo (William J. Cowen, 1932) with Walter Huston, a sound remake of West of Zanzibar (Tod Browning, 1928) which tries to outdo the Lon Chaney original in morbidity. She also starred in Spanish-language versions of Universal films like ResurrecciĂłn (Eduardo Arozamena, David Selman, 1931), the Spanish version of Resurrection (1931), and Hombres en mi vida (Eduardo Arozamena, David Selman, 1932), the Spanish version of Men in Her Life (William Beaudine, 1931) in which Lois Moran had starred.

 

In 1932, Lupe VĂ©lez took a break from her film career and traveled to New York City where she was signed by Broadway impresario Florenz Ziegfeld, Jr. to take over the role of "Conchita" in the musical revue 'Hot-Cha!'. The show also starred Bert Lahr, Eleanor Powell, and Buddy Rogers. Back in Hollywood, Lupe switched to comedy after playing dramatic roles for five years. Denny Jackson at IMDb: "In 1933 she played the lead role of Pepper in Hot Pepper (1933). This film showcased her comedic talents and helped her to show the world her vital personality. She was delightful." After Hot Pepper (John G. Blystone, 1933) with Edmund Lowe and Victor McLaglen, Lupe played beautiful but volatile, characters in a series of successful films like Strictly Dynamite (Elliott Nugent, 1934), Palooka (Benjamin Stoloff, 1934) both opposite Jimmy Durante, and Hollywood Party (Allan Dwan, a.o., 1934) with Laurel and Hardy. Although VĂ©lez was a popular actress, RKO Pictures did not renew her contract in 1934. Over the next few years, VĂ©lez worked for various studios as a freelance actress; she also spent two years in England where she filmed The Morals of Marcus (Miles Mander, 1935) and Gypsy Melody (Edmond T. GrĂ©ville, 1936). She returned to Los Angeles the following year where she appeared in the final part of the Wheeler & Woolsey comedy High Flyers (Edward F. Cline, 1937). In 1938, VĂ©lez made her final appearance on Broadway in the musical You Never Know, by Cole Porter. The show received poor reviews from critics but received a large amount of publicity due to the feud between VĂ©lez and fellow cast member Libby Holman. Holman was irritated by the attention VĂ©lez garnered from the show with her impersonations of several actresses including Gloria Swanson, Katharine Hepburn, and Shirley Temple. The feud came to a head during a performance in New Haven, Connecticut after VĂ©lez punched Holman in between curtain calls and gave her a black eye. The feud effectively ended the show. Upon her return to Mexico City in 1938 to star in her first Mexican film, VĂ©lez was greeted by ten thousand fans. The film La Zandunga (Fernando de Fuentes, 1938) co-starring Arturo de CĂłrdova, was a critical and financial success. VĂ©lez was slated to appear in four more Mexican films, but instead, she returned to Los Angeles and went back to work for RKO Pictures. In 1939, Lupe VĂ©lez was cast opposite Leon Errol and Donald Woods in the B-comedy, The Girl from Mexico (Leslie Goodwins, 1939). Despite being a B film, it was a hit with audiences and RKO re-teamed her with Errol and Wood for a sequel, Mexican Spitfire (Leslie Goodwins, 1940). That film was also a success and led to a series of eight Spitfire films. Wikipedia: "In the series, VĂ©lez portrays Carmelita Lindsay, a temperamental yet friendly Mexican singer married to Dennis 'Denny' Lindsay (Woods), an elegant American gentleman. The Spitfire films rejuvenated VĂ©lez's career. Moreover, they were films in which a Latina headlined for eight films straight –a true rarity." In addition to the Spitfire series, she was cast in such films as Six Lessons from Madame La Zonga (John Rawlins, 1941), Playmates (David Butler, 1941) opposite John Barrymore, and Redhead from Manhattan (Lew Landers, 1943). In 1943, the final film in the Spitfire series, Mexican Spitfire's Blessed Event (Leslie Goodwins, 1943), was released. By that time, the novelty of the series had begun to wane. Velez co-starred with Eddie Albert in the romantic comedy, Ladies' Day (Leslie Goodwins, 1943), about an actress and a baseball player. In 1944, VĂ©lez returned to Mexico to star in an adaptation of Émile Zola's novel Nana (Roberto GavaldĂłn, Celestino Gorostiza, 1944), which was well-received. It would be her final film. After filming wrapped, VĂ©lez returned to Los Angeles and began preparing for another stage role in New York.

 

Lupe Vélez's temper and jealousy in her often tempestuous romantic relationships were well documented and became tabloid fodder, often overshadowing her career. Vélez was straightforward with the press and was regularly contacted by gossip columnists for stories about her romantic exploits. Her first long-term relationship was with actor Gary Cooper. Vélez met Cooper while filming The Wolf Song in 1929 and began a two-year affair with him. The relationship was passionate but often stormy. Reportedly Vélez chased Cooper around with a knife during an argument and cut him severely enough to require stitches. By that time, the rocky relationship had taken its toll on Cooper who had lost 45 pounds and was suffering from nervous exhaustion. Paramount Pictures ordered him to take a vacation to recuperate. While he was boarding the train, Vélez showed up at the train station and fired a pistol at him. During her marriage to actor Johnny Weissmuller, stories of their frequent physical fights were regularly reported in the press. Vélez reportedly inflicted scratches, bruises, and love-bites on Weissmuller during their fights and "passionate love-making". In July 1934, after ten months of marriage, Vélez filed for divorce citing cruelty. She withdrew the petition a week later after reconciling with Weissmuller. In January 1935, she filed for divorce a second time and was granted an interlocutory decree that was dismissed when the couple reconciled a month later. In August 1938, Vélez filed for divorce for a third time, again charging Weissmuller with cruelty. Their divorce was finalised in August 1939. After the divorce became final, Vélez began dating actor Guinn "Big Boy" Williams in late 1940. They were reportedly engaged but never married. Vélez was also linked to author Erich Maria Remarque and the boxers Jack Johnson and Jack Dempsey. In 1943, Vélez began an affair with her La Zandunga co-star Arturo de Córdova. De Córdova had recently moved to Hollywood after signing with Paramount Pictures. Despite the fact that de Córdova was married to Mexican actress Enna Arana with whom he had four children, Vélez granted an interview to gossip columnist Louella Parsons in September 1943 and announced that the two were engaged. Vélez ended the engagement in early 1944, reportedly after de Córdova's wife refused to give him a divorce. Vélez then met and began dating a struggling young Austrian actor named Harald Maresch (who went by the stage name Harald Ramond). In September 1944, she discovered she was pregnant with Ramond's child. She announced their engagement in late November 1944. On 10 December, four days before her death, Vélez announced she had ended the engagement and kicked Ramond out of her home. On the evening of 13 December 1944, Vélez dined with her two friends, the silent film star Estelle Taylor and Venita Oakie. In the early morning hours of 14 December, Vélez retired to her bedroom, where she consumed 75 Seconal pills and a glass of brandy. Her secretary, Beulah Kinder, found the actress's body on her bed later that morning. A suicide note addressed to Harald Ramond was found nearby. Lupe Vélez was only 36 years old. More than four-thousand people filed past her casket during her funeral. Her body was interred in Mexico City, at Panteón Civil de Dolores Cemetery. Velez' estate, valued at $125,000 and consisting mostly of her Rodeo House home, two cars, jewelry, and personal effects were left to her secretary Beulah Kinder with the remainder in trust for her mother, Mrs. Josephine Velez. Together with Dolores del Rio, Ramon Novarro, and José Mojica, she was one of the few Mexican people who had made history in the early years of Hollywood.

 

Sources: Denny Jackson (IMDb), Wikipedia, and IMDb.

 

And, please check out our blog European Film Star Postcards.

Dutch postcard by Croeze Bosman Universal, no. 61.

 

Lupe Velez (1908-1944), was one of the first Mexican actresses to succeed in Hollywood. Her nicknames were 'The Mexican Spitfire' and 'Hot Pepper'. She was the leading lady in such silent films as The Gaucho (1927), Lady of the Pavements (1928), and Wolf Song (1929). During the 1930s, her well-known explosive screen persona was exploited in a series of successful films like Hot Pepper (1933), Strictly Dynamite (1934), and Hollywood Party (1934). In the 1940s, VĂ©lez's popularity peaked after appearing in the Mexican Spitfire films, a series created to capitalise on VĂ©lez's well-documented fiery personality. She had several highly publicised romances and a stormy marriage. In 1944, VĂ©lez died of an intentional overdose of the barbiturate drug Seconal. Her death and the circumstances surrounding it have been the subject of speculation and controversy.

 

Lupe VĂ©lez was born MarĂ­a Guadalupe Villalobos VĂ©lez in 1908 in the city of San Luis PotosĂ­ in Mexico. She was the daughter of Jacobo Villalobos Reyes, a colonel in the army of the dictator Porfirio Diaz, and his wife Josefina VĂ©lez, an opera singer according to some sources, or vaudeville singer according to others. She had three sisters: Mercedes, Reina and Josefina, and a brother, Emigdio. The family was financially comfortable and lived in a large home. At the age of 13, her parents sent her to study at Our Lady of the Lake (now Our Lady of the Lake University) in San Antonio, Texas. It was at Our Lady of the Lake that VĂ©lez learned to speak English and began to dance. She later admitted that she liked dance class, but was otherwise a poor student. Denny Jackson at IMDb: "Life was hard for her family, and Lupe returned to Mexico to help them out financially. She worked as a salesgirl for a department store for the princely sum of $4 a week. Every week she would turn most of her salary over to her mother, but kept a little for herself so she could take dancing lessons. By now, she figured, with her mature shape and grand personality, she thought she could make a try at show business." She began her career as a performer in Mexican vaudeville in 1924. She initially performed under her paternal surname, but after her father returned home from the war, he was outraged that his daughter had decided to become a stage performer. She chose her maternal surname, "VĂ©lez", as her stage name and her mother introduced VĂ©lez and her sister Josefina to the popular Spanish Mexican vedette MarĂ­a Conesa, "La Gatita Blanca". VĂ©lez debuted in a show led by Conesa, where she sang 'Oh Charley, My Boy' and danced the shimmy. Aurelio Campos, a young pianist, and friend of the VĂ©lez sisters recommended Lupe to stage producers, Carlos Ortega and Manuel Castro. Ortega and Castro were preparing a season revue at the Regis Theatre and hired VĂ©lez to join the company in March 1925. Later that year, VĂ©lez starred in the revues 'Mexican Rataplan' and 'ÂĄNo lo tapes!', both parodies of the Bataclan's shows in Paris. Her suggestive singing and provocative dancing was a hit with audiences, and she soon established herself as one of the main stars of vaudeville in Mexico. After a year and a half, VĂ©lez left the revue after the manager refused to give her a raise. She then joined the Teatro Principal but was fired after three months due to her "feisty attitude". VĂ©lez was quickly hired by the Teatro Lirico, where her salary rose to 100 pesos a day. In 1926, Frank A. Woodyard, an American who had seen VĂ©lez perform, recommended her to stage director Richard Bennett, the father of actresses Joan and Constance Bennett. Bennett was looking for an actress to portray a Mexican cantina singer in his upcoming play 'The Dove'. He sent VĂ©lez a telegram inviting her to Los Angeles to appear in the play. VĂ©lez had been planning to go to Cuba to perform, but quickly changed her plans and traveled to Los Angeles. However, upon arrival, she discovered that she had been replaced by another actress.

 

While in Los Angeles, Lupe VĂ©lez met the comedian Fanny Brice. Brice recommended her to Flo Ziegfeld, who hired her to perform in New York City. While VĂ©lez was preparing to leave Los Angeles, she received a call from MGM producer Harry Rapf, who offered her a screen test. Producer and director Hal Roach saw VĂ©lez's screen test and hired her for a small role in the comic Laurel and Hardy short Sailors, Beware! (Fred Guiol, Hal Yates, 1927). After her debut, VĂ©lez appeared in another Hal Roach short, What Women Did for Me (James Parrott, 1927), opposite Charley Chase. Later that year, she did a screen test for the upcoming Douglas Fairbanks feature The Gaucho (F. Richard Jones, 1927). Fairbanks was impressed by VĂ©lez and hired her to appear in the film with him. The Gaucho was a hit and critics were duly impressed with VĂ©lez's ability to hold her own alongside Fairbanks, who was well known for his spirited acting and impressive stunts. Her second major film was Stand and Deliver (Donald Crisp, 1928), produced by Cecil B. DeMille. That same year, she was named one of the WAMPAS Baby Stars. Then she appeared in Lady of the Pavements (1929), directed by D. W. Griffith, and Where East Is East (Tod Browning, 1929), starring Lon Chaney as an animal trapper in Laos. In the Western The Wolf Song (Victor Fleming, 1929), she appeared alongside Gary Cooper. As she was regularly cast as 'exotic' or 'ethnic' women that were volatile and hot-tempered, gossip columnists took to referring to VĂ©lez as "Mexican Hurricane", "The Mexican Wildcat", "The Mexican Madcap", "Whoopee Lupe" and "The Hot Tamale". Lupe VĂ©lez made the transition to sound films without difficulty. Studio executives had predicted that her accent would likely hamper her ability to make the transition. That idea was dispelled after she appeared in the all-talking Rin Tin Tin vehicle, Tiger Rose (George Fitzmaurice, 1929). The film was a hit and VĂ©lez's sound career was established. VĂ©lez appeared in a series of Pre-Code films like Hell Harbor (Henry King, 1930), The Storm (William Wyler, 1930), and the crime drama East Is West (Monta Bell, 1930) opposite Edward G. Robinson. The next year, she appeared in her second film for Cecil B. DeMille, Squaw Man (Cecil B. DeMille, 1931), opposite Warner Baxter, in Resurrection (Edwin Carewe, 1931), and The Cuban Love Song (W.S. Van Dyke, 1931), with the popular singer Lawrence Tibbett. She had a supporting role in Kongo (William J. Cowen, 1932) with Walter Huston, a sound remake of West of Zanzibar (Tod Browning, 1928) which tries to outdo the Lon Chaney original in morbidity. She also starred in Spanish-language versions of Universal films like ResurrecciĂłn (Eduardo Arozamena, David Selman, 1931), the Spanish version of Resurrection (1931), and Hombres en mi vida (Eduardo Arozamena, David Selman, 1932), the Spanish version of Men in Her Life (William Beaudine, 1931) in which Lois Moran had starred.

 

In 1932, Lupe VĂ©lez took a break from her film career and traveled to New York City where she was signed by Broadway impresario Florenz Ziegfeld, Jr. to take over the role of "Conchita" in the musical revue 'Hot-Cha!'. The show also starred Bert Lahr, Eleanor Powell, and Buddy Rogers. Back in Hollywood, Lupe switched to comedy after playing dramatic roles for five years. Denny Jackson at IMDb: "In 1933 she played the lead role of Pepper in Hot Pepper (1933). This film showcased her comedic talents and helped her to show the world her vital personality. She was delightful." After Hot Pepper (John G. Blystone, 1933) with Edmund Lowe and Victor McLaglen, Lupe played beautiful but volatile, characters in a series of successful films like Strictly Dynamite (Elliott Nugent, 1934), Palooka (Benjamin Stoloff, 1934) both opposite Jimmy Durante, and Hollywood Party (Allan Dwan, a.o., 1934) with Laurel and Hardy. Although VĂ©lez was a popular actress, RKO Pictures did not renew her contract in 1934. Over the next few years, VĂ©lez worked for various studios as a freelance actress; she also spent two years in England where she filmed The Morals of Marcus (Miles Mander, 1935) and Gypsy Melody (Edmond T. GrĂ©ville, 1936). She returned to Los Angeles the following year where she appeared in the final part of the Wheeler & Woolsey comedy High Flyers (Edward F. Cline, 1937). In 1938, VĂ©lez made her final appearance on Broadway in the musical You Never Know, by Cole Porter. The show received poor reviews from critics but received a large amount of publicity due to the feud between VĂ©lez and fellow cast member Libby Holman. Holman was irritated by the attention VĂ©lez garnered from the show with her impersonations of several actresses including Gloria Swanson, Katharine Hepburn, and Shirley Temple. The feud came to a head during a performance in New Haven, Connecticut after VĂ©lez punched Holman in between curtain calls and gave her a black eye. The feud effectively ended the show. Upon her return to Mexico City in 1938 to star in her first Mexican film, VĂ©lez was greeted by ten thousand fans. The film La Zandunga (Fernando de Fuentes, 1938) co-starring Arturo de CĂłrdova, was a critical and financial success. VĂ©lez was slated to appear in four more Mexican films, but instead, she returned to Los Angeles and went back to work for RKO Pictures. In 1939, Lupe VĂ©lez was cast opposite Leon Errol and Donald Woods in the B-comedy, The Girl from Mexico (Leslie Goodwins, 1939). Despite being a B film, it was a hit with audiences and RKO re-teamed her with Errol and Wood for a sequel, Mexican Spitfire (Leslie Goodwins, 1940). That film was also a success and led to a series of eight Spitfire films. Wikipedia: "In the series, VĂ©lez portrays Carmelita Lindsay, a temperamental yet friendly Mexican singer married to Dennis 'Denny' Lindsay (Woods), an elegant American gentleman. The Spitfire films rejuvenated VĂ©lez's career. Moreover, they were films in which a Latina headlined for eight films straight –a true rarity." In addition to the Spitfire series, she was cast in such films as Six Lessons from Madame La Zonga (John Rawlins, 1941), Playmates (David Butler, 1941) opposite John Barrymore, and Redhead from Manhattan (Lew Landers, 1943). In 1943, the final film in the Spitfire series, Mexican Spitfire's Blessed Event (Leslie Goodwins, 1943), was released. By that time, the novelty of the series had begun to wane. Velez co-starred with Eddie Albert in the romantic comedy, Ladies' Day (Leslie Goodwins, 1943), about an actress and a baseball player. In 1944, VĂ©lez returned to Mexico to star in an adaptation of Émile Zola's novel Nana (Roberto GavaldĂłn, Celestino Gorostiza, 1944), which was well-received. It would be her final film. After filming wrapped, VĂ©lez returned to Los Angeles and began preparing for another stage role in New York.

 

Lupe Vélez's temper and jealousy in her often tempestuous romantic relationships were well documented and became tabloid fodder, often overshadowing her career. Vélez was straightforward with the press and was regularly contacted by gossip columnists for stories about her romantic exploits. Her first long-term relationship was with actor Gary Cooper. Vélez met Cooper while filming The Wolf Song in 1929 and began a two-year affair with him. The relationship was passionate but often stormy. Reportedly Vélez chased Cooper around with a knife during an argument and cut him severely enough to require stitches. By that time, the rocky relationship had taken its toll on Cooper who had lost 45 pounds and was suffering from nervous exhaustion. Paramount Pictures ordered him to take a vacation to recuperate. While he was boarding the train, Vélez showed up at the train station and fired a pistol at him. During her marriage to actor Johnny Weissmuller, stories of their frequent physical fights were regularly reported in the press. Vélez reportedly inflicted scratches, bruises, and love-bites on Weissmuller during their fights and "passionate love-making". In July 1934, after ten months of marriage, Vélez filed for divorce citing cruelty. She withdrew the petition a week later after reconciling with Weissmuller. In January 1935, she filed for divorce a second time and was granted an interlocutory decree that was dismissed when the couple reconciled a month later. In August 1938, Vélez filed for divorce for a third time, again charging Weissmuller with cruelty. Their divorce was finalised in August 1939. After the divorce became final, Vélez began dating actor Guinn "Big Boy" Williams in late 1940. They were reportedly engaged but never married. Vélez was also linked to author Erich Maria Remarque and the boxers Jack Johnson and Jack Dempsey. In 1943, Vélez began an affair with her La Zandunga co-star Arturo de Córdova. De Córdova had recently moved to Hollywood after signing with Paramount Pictures. Despite the fact that de Córdova was married to Mexican actress Enna Arana with whom he had four children, Vélez granted an interview to gossip columnist Louella Parsons in September 1943 and announced that the two were engaged. Vélez ended the engagement in early 1944, reportedly after de Córdova's wife refused to give him a divorce. Vélez then met and began dating a struggling young Austrian actor named Harald Maresch (who went by the stage name Harald Ramond). In September 1944, she discovered she was pregnant with Ramond's child. She announced their engagement in late November 1944. On 10 December, four days before her death, Vélez announced she had ended the engagement and kicked Ramond out of her home. On the evening of 13 December 1944, Vélez dined with her two friends, the silent film star Estelle Taylor and Venita Oakie. In the early morning hours of 14 December, Vélez retired to her bedroom, where she consumed 75 Seconal pills and a glass of brandy. Her secretary, Beulah Kinder, found the actress's body on her bed later that morning. A suicide note addressed to Harald Ramond was found nearby. Lupe Vélez was only 36 years old. More than four-thousand people filed past her casket during her funeral. Her body was interred in Mexico City, at Panteón Civil de Dolores Cemetery. Velez' estate, valued at $125,000 and consisting mostly of her Rodeo House home, two cars, jewelry, and personal effects were left to her secretary Beulah Kinder with the remainder in trust for her mother, Mrs. Josephine Velez. Together with Dolores del Rio, Ramon Novarro, and José Mojica, she was one of the few Mexican people who had made history in the early years of Hollywood.

 

Sources: Denny Jackson (IMDb), Wikipedia, and IMDb.

 

And, please check out our blog European Film Star Postcards.

French postcard by Europe, no. 457. Photo: United Artists / Regal Film.

 

Lupe Velez (1908-1944), was one of the first Mexican actresses to succeed in Hollywood. Her nicknames were 'The Mexican Spitfire' and 'Hot Pepper'. She was the leading lady in such silent films as The Gaucho (1927), Lady of the Pavements (1928), and Wolf Song (1929). During the 1930s, her well-known explosive screen persona was exploited in a series of successful films like Hot Pepper (1933), Strictly Dynamite (1934), and Hollywood Party (1934). In the 1940s, VĂ©lez's popularity peaked after appearing in the Mexican Spitfire films, a series created to capitalise on VĂ©lez's well-documented fiery personality. She had several highly publicised romances and a stormy marriage. In 1944, VĂ©lez died of an intentional overdose of the barbiturate drug Seconal. Her death and the circumstances surrounding it have been the subject of speculation and controversy.

 

Lupe VĂ©lez was born MarĂ­a Guadalupe Villalobos VĂ©lez in 1908 in the city of San Luis PotosĂ­ in Mexico. She was the daughter of Jacobo Villalobos Reyes, a colonel in the army of the dictator Porfirio Diaz, and his wife Josefina VĂ©lez, an opera singer according to some sources, or vaudeville singer according to others. She had three sisters: Mercedes, Reina and Josefina, and a brother, Emigdio. The family was financially comfortable and lived in a large home. At the age of 13, her parents sent her to study at Our Lady of the Lake (now Our Lady of the Lake University) in San Antonio, Texas. It was at Our Lady of the Lake that VĂ©lez learned to speak English and began to dance. She later admitted that she liked dance class, but was otherwise a poor student. Denny Jackson at IMDb: "Life was hard for her family, and Lupe returned to Mexico to help them out financially. She worked as a salesgirl for a department store for the princely sum of $4 a week. Every week she would turn most of her salary over to her mother, but kept a little for herself so she could take dancing lessons. By now, she figured, with her mature shape and grand personality, she thought she could make a try at show business." She began her career as a performer in Mexican vaudeville in 1924. She initially performed under her paternal surname, but after her father returned home from the war, he was outraged that his daughter had decided to become a stage performer. She chose her maternal surname, "VĂ©lez", as her stage name and her mother introduced VĂ©lez and her sister Josefina to the popular Spanish Mexican vedette MarĂ­a Conesa, "La Gatita Blanca". VĂ©lez debuted in a show led by Conesa, where she sang 'Oh Charley, My Boy' and danced the shimmy. Aurelio Campos, a young pianist, and friend of the VĂ©lez sisters recommended Lupe to stage producers, Carlos Ortega and Manuel Castro. Ortega and Castro were preparing a season revue at the Regis Theatre and hired VĂ©lez to join the company in March 1925. Later that year, VĂ©lez starred in the revues 'Mexican Rataplan' and 'ÂĄNo lo tapes!', both parodies of the Bataclan's shows in Paris. Her suggestive singing and provocative dancing was a hit with audiences, and she soon established herself as one of the main stars of vaudeville in Mexico. After a year and a half, VĂ©lez left the revue after the manager refused to give her a raise. She then joined the Teatro Principal but was fired after three months due to her "feisty attitude". VĂ©lez was quickly hired by the Teatro Lirico, where her salary rose to 100 pesos a day. In 1926, Frank A. Woodyard, an American who had seen VĂ©lez perform, recommended her to stage director Richard Bennett, the father of actresses Joan and Constance Bennett. Bennett was looking for an actress to portray a Mexican cantina singer in his upcoming play 'The Dove'. He sent VĂ©lez a telegram inviting her to Los Angeles to appear in the play. VĂ©lez had been planning to go to Cuba to perform, but quickly changed her plans and traveled to Los Angeles. However, upon arrival, she discovered that she had been replaced by another actress.

 

While in Los Angeles, Lupe VĂ©lez met the comedian Fanny Brice. Brice recommended her to Flo Ziegfeld, who hired her to perform in New York City. While VĂ©lez was preparing to leave Los Angeles, she received a call from MGM producer Harry Rapf, who offered her a screen test. Producer and director Hal Roach saw VĂ©lez's screen test and hired her for a small role in the comic Laurel and Hardy short Sailors, Beware! (Fred Guiol, Hal Yates, 1927). After her debut, VĂ©lez appeared in another Hal Roach short, What Women Did for Me (James Parrott, 1927), opposite Charley Chase. Later that year, she did a screen test for the upcoming Douglas Fairbanks feature The Gaucho (F. Richard Jones, 1927). Fairbanks was impressed by VĂ©lez and hired her to appear in the film with him. The Gaucho was a hit and critics were duly impressed with VĂ©lez's ability to hold her own alongside Fairbanks, who was well known for his spirited acting and impressive stunts. Her second major film was Stand and Deliver (Donald Crisp, 1928), produced by Cecil B. DeMille. That same year, she was named one of the WAMPAS Baby Stars. Then she appeared in Lady of the Pavements (1929), directed by D. W. Griffith, and Where East Is East (Tod Browning, 1929), starring Lon Chaney as an animal trapper in Laos. In the Western The Wolf Song (Victor Fleming, 1929), she appeared alongside Gary Cooper. As she was regularly cast as 'exotic' or 'ethnic' women that were volatile and hot-tempered, gossip columnists took to referring to VĂ©lez as "Mexican Hurricane", "The Mexican Wildcat", "The Mexican Madcap", "Whoopee Lupe" and "The Hot Tamale". Lupe VĂ©lez made the transition to sound films without difficulty. Studio executives had predicted that her accent would likely hamper her ability to make the transition. That idea was dispelled after she appeared in the all-talking Rin Tin Tin vehicle, Tiger Rose (George Fitzmaurice, 1929). The film was a hit and VĂ©lez's sound career was established. VĂ©lez appeared in a series of Pre-Code films like Hell Harbor (Henry King, 1930), The Storm (William Wyler, 1930), and the crime drama East Is West (Monta Bell, 1930) opposite Edward G. Robinson. The next year, she appeared in her second film for Cecil B. DeMille, Squaw Man (Cecil B. DeMille, 1931), opposite Warner Baxter, in Resurrection (Edwin Carewe, 1931), and The Cuban Love Song (W.S. Van Dyke, 1931), with the popular singer Lawrence Tibbett. She had a supporting role in Kongo (William J. Cowen, 1932) with Walter Huston, a sound remake of West of Zanzibar (Tod Browning, 1928) which tries to outdo the Lon Chaney original in morbidity. She also starred in Spanish-language versions of Universal films like ResurrecciĂłn (Eduardo Arozamena, David Selman, 1931), the Spanish version of Resurrection (1931), and Hombres en mi vida (Eduardo Arozamena, David Selman, 1932), the Spanish version of Men in Her Life (William Beaudine, 1931) in which Lois Moran had starred.

 

In 1932, Lupe VĂ©lez took a break from her film career and traveled to New York City where she was signed by Broadway impresario Florenz Ziegfeld, Jr. to take over the role of "Conchita" in the musical revue 'Hot-Cha!'. The show also starred Bert Lahr, Eleanor Powell, and Buddy Rogers. Back in Hollywood, Lupe switched to comedy after playing dramatic roles for five years. Denny Jackson at IMDb: "In 1933 she played the lead role of Pepper in Hot Pepper (1933). This film showcased her comedic talents and helped her to show the world her vital personality. She was delightful." After Hot Pepper (John G. Blystone, 1933) with Edmund Lowe and Victor McLaglen, Lupe played beautiful but volatile, characters in a series of successful films like Strictly Dynamite (Elliott Nugent, 1934), Palooka (Benjamin Stoloff, 1934) both opposite Jimmy Durante, and Hollywood Party (Allan Dwan, a.o., 1934) with Laurel and Hardy. Although VĂ©lez was a popular actress, RKO Pictures did not renew her contract in 1934. Over the next few years, VĂ©lez worked for various studios as a freelance actress; she also spent two years in England where she filmed The Morals of Marcus (Miles Mander, 1935) and Gypsy Melody (Edmond T. GrĂ©ville, 1936). She returned to Los Angeles the following year where she appeared in the final part of the Wheeler & Woolsey comedy High Flyers (Edward F. Cline, 1937). In 1938, VĂ©lez made her final appearance on Broadway in the musical You Never Know, by Cole Porter. The show received poor reviews from critics but received a large amount of publicity due to the feud between VĂ©lez and fellow cast member Libby Holman. Holman was irritated by the attention VĂ©lez garnered from the show with her impersonations of several actresses including Gloria Swanson, Katharine Hepburn, and Shirley Temple. The feud came to a head during a performance in New Haven, Connecticut after VĂ©lez punched Holman in between curtain calls and gave her a black eye. The feud effectively ended the show. Upon her return to Mexico City in 1938 to star in her first Mexican film, VĂ©lez was greeted by ten thousand fans. The film La Zandunga (Fernando de Fuentes, 1938) co-starring Arturo de CĂłrdova, was a critical and financial success. VĂ©lez was slated to appear in four more Mexican films, but instead, she returned to Los Angeles and went back to work for RKO Pictures. In 1939, Lupe VĂ©lez was cast opposite Leon Errol and Donald Woods in the B-comedy, The Girl from Mexico (Leslie Goodwins, 1939). Despite being a B film, it was a hit with audiences and RKO re-teamed her with Errol and Wood for a sequel, Mexican Spitfire (Leslie Goodwins, 1940). That film was also a success and led to a series of eight Spitfire films. Wikipedia: "In the series, VĂ©lez portrays Carmelita Lindsay, a temperamental yet friendly Mexican singer married to Dennis 'Denny' Lindsay (Woods), an elegant American gentleman. The Spitfire films rejuvenated VĂ©lez's career. Moreover, they were films in which a Latina headlined for eight films straight –a true rarity." In addition to the Spitfire series, she was cast in such films as Six Lessons from Madame La Zonga (John Rawlins, 1941), Playmates (David Butler, 1941) opposite John Barrymore, and Redhead from Manhattan (Lew Landers, 1943). In 1943, the final film in the Spitfire series, Mexican Spitfire's Blessed Event (Leslie Goodwins, 1943), was released. By that time, the novelty of the series had begun to wane. Velez co-starred with Eddie Albert in the romantic comedy, Ladies' Day (Leslie Goodwins, 1943), about an actress and a baseball player. In 1944, VĂ©lez returned to Mexico to star in an adaptation of Émile Zola's novel Nana (Roberto GavaldĂłn, Celestino Gorostiza, 1944), which was well-received. It would be her final film. After filming wrapped, VĂ©lez returned to Los Angeles and began preparing for another stage role in New York.

 

Lupe Vélez's temper and jealousy in her often tempestuous romantic relationships were well documented and became tabloid fodder, often overshadowing her career. Vélez was straightforward with the press and was regularly contacted by gossip columnists for stories about her romantic exploits. Her first long-term relationship was with actor Gary Cooper. Vélez met Cooper while filming The Wolf Song in 1929 and began a two-year affair with him. The relationship was passionate but often stormy. Reportedly Vélez chased Cooper around with a knife during an argument and cut him severely enough to require stitches. By that time, the rocky relationship had taken its toll on Cooper who had lost 45 pounds and was suffering from nervous exhaustion. Paramount Pictures ordered him to take a vacation to recuperate. While he was boarding the train, Vélez showed up at the train station and fired a pistol at him. During her marriage to actor Johnny Weissmuller, stories of their frequent physical fights were regularly reported in the press. Vélez reportedly inflicted scratches, bruises, and love-bites on Weissmuller during their fights and "passionate love-making". In July 1934, after ten months of marriage, Vélez filed for divorce citing cruelty. She withdrew the petition a week later after reconciling with Weissmuller. In January 1935, she filed for divorce a second time and was granted an interlocutory decree that was dismissed when the couple reconciled a month later. In August 1938, Vélez filed for divorce for a third time, again charging Weissmuller with cruelty. Their divorce was finalised in August 1939. After the divorce became final, Vélez began dating actor Guinn "Big Boy" Williams in late 1940. They were reportedly engaged but never married. Vélez was also linked to author Erich Maria Remarque and the boxers Jack Johnson and Jack Dempsey. In 1943, Vélez began an affair with her La Zandunga co-star Arturo de Córdova. De Córdova had recently moved to Hollywood after signing with Paramount Pictures. Despite the fact that de Córdova was married to Mexican actress Enna Arana with whom he had four children, Vélez granted an interview to gossip columnist Louella Parsons in September 1943 and announced that the two were engaged. Vélez ended the engagement in early 1944, reportedly after de Córdova's wife refused to give him a divorce. Vélez then met and began dating a struggling young Austrian actor named Harald Maresch (who went by the stage name Harald Ramond). In September 1944, she discovered she was pregnant with Ramond's child. She announced their engagement in late November 1944. On 10 December, four days before her death, Vélez announced she had ended the engagement and kicked Ramond out of her home. On the evening of 13 December 1944, Vélez dined with her two friends, the silent film star Estelle Taylor and Venita Oakie. In the early morning hours of 14 December, Vélez retired to her bedroom, where she consumed 75 Seconal pills and a glass of brandy. Her secretary, Beulah Kinder, found the actress's body on her bed later that morning. A suicide note addressed to Harald Ramond was found nearby. Lupe Vélez was only 36 years old. More than four-thousand people filed past her casket during her funeral. Her body was interred in Mexico City, at Panteón Civil de Dolores Cemetery. Velez' estate, valued at $125,000 and consisting mostly of her Rodeo House home, two cars, jewelry, and personal effects were left to her secretary Beulah Kinder with the remainder in trust for her mother, Mrs. Josephine Velez. Together with Dolores del Rio, Ramon Novarro, and José Mojica, she was one of the few Mexican people who had made history in the early years of Hollywood.

 

Sources: Denny Jackson (IMDb), Wikipedia, and IMDb.

 

And, please check out our blog European Film Star Postcards.

American postcard. Photo: Essanay. Collection: Marlene Pilaete.

 

Dolores Cassinelli (1888-1984)

 

Dolores Cassinelli (born in Chicago, USA) made her film debut in 1911 at Essanay, where she became one of the leading female stars.

 

She was the leading lady of, among others, Two Men and a Girl (1911), Winning an Heiress (1911), Do Dreams Come True? (1912), Napatia, the Greek Singer (1912), The Laurel Wrath of Fame (1912), When Soul Meets Soul (1913), The Girl at the Brook (1913), The Girl in the Case (1913), A Wolf Among Lambs (1913), and A Successful Failure (1913).

 

After leaving Essanay, she made The Wolf and the City (1913) and Too Late (1914) for Selig and in 1916 she played Mrs. Jerry Simpson, wife of one of the two heroes of the comedy series Tom and Jerry, produced by Emerald Pictures.

 

She starred in Lafayette, We Come (1918), Unknown Love (1919), and Tarnished Reputations (1920), directed by Alice Guy, the only three titles from the short-lived company created by LĂ©once Perret.

 

Albert Capellani, another Frenchman who was based in the United States at the time and who also founded a production unit there, hired her for The Virtuous Model (1919) and The Right to Love (1919).

 

Other notable titles of her filmography are The Web of Deceit (1920), Anne of Little Smoky (1921), The Challenge (1922), and Christopher Columbus (1923).

 

She ended her film career with a few supporting roles in 1924 and 1925, alongside Doris Kenyon, Bebe Daniels, and Lila Lee, younger and more popular actresses.

 

Text: Marlene Pilaete.

 

And, please check out our blog European Film Star Postcards.

German postcard. Photo by Atelier Balazs, Berlin. Ross Verlag, No. 4423/1.

 

Anny Ondra (1903-1987) was a Polish-Czech-Austrian-German-French singer, film, and stage actress. During the 1920s and 1930s, she was a popular actress in Czech, Austrian and German comedies, and she was Alfred Hitchcock’s first ‘Blonde’.

German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. A 2858/2, 1939-1940. Photo: Haenchen / Tobis.

 

Austrian actress Marte Harell (1907-1996) played strong women who determined the events, in several Viennese comedies and operettas of the 1940s and 1950s.

 

Marte Harell was born as Martha Schömig in 1907 in Wien (Vienna), Austria-Hungary, now Austria. She was the daughter of architect Rudolf Schömig and his wife Emilie Mathilde nĂ©e. Passetzky. She visited a secondary school for girls in Vienna. Her acting career started when she married director Karl Hartl in 1930. She followed acting classes from Margit von Tolnai and attended the Max-Reinhardt-Seminar. At 30 years she made her debut at the Kammerspielen des Theaters in der Josefstadt. She worked for theatres in Munich and Berlin, where she was spotted by director Geza von Bolvary at the Deutsches Theater. He cast her as the leading lady in his film Opernball/Opera Ball (GĂ©za von BolvĂĄry, 1939) opposite Paul Hörbiger, and her film debut at 32 as the typical Wiener mĂ€del (Viennese girl) became an unexpected success. More leading roles followed in Wiener G'schichten/Vienna Tales (GĂ©za von BolvĂĄry, 1940) again opposite Paul Hörbiger, and an adaption of the Zeller operetta 'Der VogelhĂ€ndler', Rosen in Tirol/The Bird Seller (GĂ©za von BolvĂĄry, 1940) with Johannes Heesters. When her husband Karl Hartl became the production manager of the newly founded Wien-Film, she became a very busy actress for this company. She convinced critics and audiences with her performances in BrĂŒderlein fein/Dear Brother (Hans Thimig, 1941), the comedy Die heimliche GrĂ€fin/The Secret Countess (GĂ©za von BolvĂĄry, 1942) with Wolf Albach-Retty, Frauen sind keine Engel/Women Are No Angels (Willi Forst, 1943) with a young Curd JĂŒrgens, and Tolle Nacht/Great Night (Theo Lingen, 1943). She always played the strong woman who determined the events and was not able to hide her typical Viennese accent. The part of Fiakermilli (Cabby Milli) in the beautiful tragi-comedy-musical Schrammeln (GĂ©za von BolvĂĄry, 1944) was her most popular role. For the adaptation of Johann Strauss' comic opera Die Fledermaus/The Bat (1945), she worked again with director GĂ©za von BolvĂĄry, with whom she made a total of ten films.

 

Marte Harell continued her film career immediately after the Second World War with Glaube an mich/Believe in Me (GĂ©za von Cziffra, 1946), but the film was torn to pieces by the critics. Two years later she returned in the romance Nach dem Sturm/After the Storm (Gustav Ucicky, 1948), based on a story by Carl Zuckmeyer. Wien Tanzt/Vienna Waltzes (Emil E. Reinert, 1951) was an old-fashioned musical extravaganza in the tradition of the pre-war Austrian films. The story centers upon Waltz King Johann Strauss (Adolf Wohlbrueck) and his ‘progressive’ composer son Richard, and their terrific music. About the female lead Hal Erickson writes at AllMovie: “The feminine interest in Wien Tanzt is provided by Marte Harell, who refreshingly is not a Hollywood-style glamourpuss.” In 1951 the Austrian public chose her as the most popular actress, but her film roles became rarer in the 1950s. She appeared in one film each year, among others the comedy Liebeskrieg nach Noten/Love War for Music (Karl Hart, 1953l) with Johannes Heesters, the historical thriller Spionage/Espionage (Franz Antel, 1955) based on the tragic life story of the homosexual ‘Oberst’ Alfred Redl, and the operetta Im Prater blĂŒhn wieder die BĂ€ume/Trees Are Blooming in Vienna (Hans Wolff, 1958). In between, she dedicated herself again to the theater and had a successful stage comeback. Her last films were the spy yarn Assignment K (Val Guest, 1968) starring Stephen Boyd, Abenteuer eines Sommers/Summer Adventure (Helmut Pfandler, 1974) starring Matthias Habich, the sex comedy Das Love-Hotel in Tirol/Love Hotel in Tyrol (Franz Antel, 1978), and the historical drama Der Bockerer (Franz Antel, 1980), about the naĂŻve Viennese butcher Karl Bockerer who refuses to get assimilated by the Nazi system and with his aggressive but charming behaviour, and a whole lot of luck survives the war. During the 1970s Marte Harell also worked regularly for television and made guest appearances in series like Hallo – Hotel Sacher
 Portier!/Hello – Hotel Sacher
Doorman! (1973), Van der Valk und die Reichen/Van der Valk and the Rich (1975), and the popular Krimi Tatort (1974). In 1985 she was awarded the Filmband in Gold for her longtime and important attributions to the German cinema, and that same year she retired. In 1996 Marte Harell died in Vienna. Her husband, Karl Hartl, had passed away in 1978. In 1951 the couple was divorced, but eight years later they have married again. In 2000 a street was named after her, the Marte-Harell-Gasse in Wien-Liesing.

 

Sources: Thomas Staedeli (Cyranos), Hal Erickson (AllMovie), Stephanie D’heil (Steffi-Line), Wikipedia and IMDb.

 

And, please check out our blog European Film Star Postcards.

Italian postcard by Fotocelere, no. 280. Photo: Badodi.

 

Charming and elegant Vera Vergani (1894-1989) was primarily an Italian stage actress, famous for her interpretations in the first stagings of Pirandello’s plays. She became one of the popular divas of the Italian cinema when she appeared in a dozen silent films between 1917 and 1921 for directors like Augusto Genina and Roberto Roberti.

 

Vera Vergani was born in Milan in 1894 She was the granddaughter of puppet master Vittorio Podrecca and sister of journalist and stage write Orio Vergani. She debuted on stage in 1912 at the Benini company. Two years later she joined the Talli-Melato-Giovannini company and in 1916 she became the ‘primattrice’ (leading lady) in the company of the famous actor Ruggero Ruggeri. She was only 21 at the time. She played Ophelia in William Shakespeare’s 'Hamlet' and had a huge success with the title role in Gabriele D’Anunzio’s 'La Figlia di Jorio' (The Daughter of Jorio). She would play that role again and again. In 1916 film producer Giovanni Xilo managed to lure the popular actress to work for his Monopol-Rome Film. He hoped to add prestige to his productions with big names of the stage. Producers had done so earlier with Lyda Borelli and Ermete Zacconi. When her stage company was at rest in the summertime, Vergani played in two films for which Augusto Genina had written the original scripts: Il presagio/The Presentiment (Augusto Genina, 1916) and La menzogna/The Lie (Augusto Genina, 1916) with Tullio Carminati and Oreste Bilancia. They were produced at the same time, using the same cast and crew, at the Cines film studio, which was rented for the occasion. As the publicity indicates, Il presagio was "the drama of a beautiful woman who seems to be born for the joy of the eyes and for love, but instead meets futile caprice and tragic passion". La menzogna is "the violent story of a woman ready to sacrifice her honour to save her husband, but justice protects the good ones and will prevail in the end". The film did not have very good reception and Vergani was accused of betraying the theatre. "It is a night without a moonbeam", one critic wrote, and Vera didn’t want to know about film anymore for several years. On stage, she was very successful again with both critics and audiences in plays by Luigi Pirandello and Gabriele D'Annunzio. In the 1910s and 1920s, she remained foremost a stage actress, appreciated not only for her beauty and elegance but also for her excellent interpretations.

 

In 1919, Vera Vergani returned to the screen. Giuseppe Barattolo, the producer at Caesar Film, offered her to play in three films based on famous stage plays Dora o le spie/Dora or the spies (Robert Roberti, 1919) written by Victorien Sardou, La paura d'amare/Fear of love (Robert Roberti, 1920) by Dario Niccodemi, and Giulia di TrĂ©coeur/Lucie de Trecoeur (Camillo De Riso, Augusto Genina, 1921) by Octave Feuillet. Robert Roberti had made his career as the director of films with diva Francesca Bertini. The critics didn’t like his direction too much but were full of praise for Vera’s lively interpretation of the dramas, along with her style of performance on stage. Another film based on a play by Niccodemi followed, L'envolĂ©e/La volata/The sprint (1919). Vera is dressed in the film as a daring aviator, "flaming expression of the new" as one critic wrote, who also noted in the aviation "the clearest emergence of these times". The actress also played in the film La modella/The model (Mario Caserini, 1920) based on a comedy by Alfredo Testoni, La buona figliola/The good daughter (Mario Caserini, 1919) based on Sabatino Lopez, Fior d'amore/Flower of love (Mario Caserini, 1921) again based on Niccodemi, and Caterina (Mario Caserini, 1921) written by Henri Lavedan. Her co-star in these films was Nerio Bernardi. She often repeated on screen, of which by now she knew all the odds and outs, her previous stage performances. But after La Vittima/The Victim (Jacques Creusy, 1921), a neglectable tearjerker, she returned to the stage for good.

 

During the fundamental years of her stage career, Vera Vergani played for the company of Dario Niccodemi. From 1921 on, she was the company's ‘primattrice’ for nine seasons. Her regular male co-star was Luigi Cimara. Memorable from these years were her performances in the first stagings of Luigi Pirandello’s plays 'Sei personaggi in cerca d'autore' (Six Characters in Search of an Author) (1921) and 'Ciascuno a suo modo' (Each on His Own Way) (1924). After the world premiere of 'Sei personaggi in cerca d'autore', hundreds of people flooded the stage and yelled violently at the author. The public, accustomed to the conventional theatre did not accept the avant-garde text. Pirandello had to barricade himself in Vergani’s dressing room. The beautiful actress suddenly stepped forward, made a silencing gesture to the raging crowd, and declared smiling sweetly: “Prima di toccare Pirandello dovete passare sul mio cadavere.“ (Before you touch Pirandello, you will have to pass my dead body). Pirandello survived and nowadays his play is considered a classic of the Italian theatre. Vittorio Paliotti writes at the website L’Isola that Vergani's photos graced the covers of European magazines and that she received an ‘avalanche’ with love letters from all over the world. Before her performances, her dressing rooms were transformed into greenhouses. The fascinating and elegant actress retired in 1930, after a last performance at the Teatro Manzoni in Milan. She starred once more in the play which had contributed to her fortune: 'La figlia di Iorio' by Gabriele D'Annunzio. The reason for her retirement was her marriage with Leonardo Pescarolo, a naval officer from the island of Procida. They had two children: assistant director Vera Pescarolo, who would become the wife of film director Giuliano Montaldo, and film producer Leo Pescarolo. Vera Vergano returned once to the cinema. In 1965 she appeared in a small role in Il morbidone/The Dreamer (Massimo Franciosa, 1965) with Anouk AimĂ©e. Vera Vergani died in Procida in 1989. Her granddaughter and great-grandchildren are also working in the film business: costume designer Elisabetta Montaldo, assistant director Inti Carboni and makeup designer Jana Carboni.

 

Sources: Vittoro Martinelli (Le dive del silenzio) (Italian), Vittorio Paliotti (L’Isola) (Italian), Procidamia (Italian) and IMDb.

 

And, please check out our blog European Film Star Postcards.

Italian postcard by Vettori, Bologna.

 

Charming and elegant Vera Vergani (1894-1989) was primarily an Italian stage actress, famous for her interpretations in the first stagings of Pirandello’s plays. She became one of the popular divas of the Italian cinema when she appeared in a dozen silent films between 1917 and 1921 for directors like Augusto Genina and Roberto Roberti.

 

Vera Vergani was born in Milan in 1894 She was the granddaughter of puppet master Vittorio Podrecca and sister of journalist and stage write Orio Vergani. She debuted on stage in 1912 at the Benini company. Two years later she joined the Talli-Melato-Giovannini company and in 1916 she became the ‘primattrice’ (leading lady) in the company of the famous actor Ruggero Ruggeri. She was only 21 at the time. She played Ophelia in William Shakespeare’s Hamlet and had a huge success with the title role in Gabriele D’Anunzio’s 'La Figlia di Jorio' (The Daughter of Jorio). She would play that role again and again. In 1916 film producer Giovanni Xilo managed to lure the popular actress to work for his Monopol-Rome Film. He hoped to add prestige to his productions with big names of the stage. Producers had done so earlier with Lyda Borelli and Ermete Zacconi. When her stage company was at rest in the summertime, Vergani played in two films for which Augusto Genina had written the original scripts: Il presagio/The Presentiment (Augusto Genina, 1916) and La menzogna/The Lie (Augusto Genina, 1916) with Tullio Carminati and Oreste Bilancia. They were produced at the same time, using the same cast and crew, at the Cines film studio, which was rented for the occasion. As the publicity indicates, Il presagio was "the drama of a beautiful woman who seems to be born for the joy of the eyes and for love, but instead meets futile caprice and tragic passion". La menzogna is "the violent story of a woman ready to sacrifice her honour to save her husband, but justice protects the good ones and will prevail in the end". The film did not have a very good reception and Vergani was accused of betraying the theatre. "It is a night without a moonbeam", one critic wrote, and Vera didn’t want to know about film anymore for several years. On stage she was very successful again with both critics and audiences in plays by Luigi Pirandello and Gabriele D'Annunzio. In the 1910s and 1920's, she remained foremost a stage actress, appreciated not only for her beauty and elegance but also for her excellent interpretations.

 

In 1919, Vera Vergani returned to the screen. Giuseppe Barattolo, the producer at Caesar Film, offered her to play in three films based on famous stage plays Dora o le spie/Dora or the spies (Robert Roberti, 1919) written by Victorien Sardou, La paura d'amare/Fear of love (Robert Roberti, 1920) by Dario Niccodemi, and Giulia di TrĂ©coeur/Lucie de Trecoeur (Camillo De Riso, Augusto Genina, 1921) by Octave Feuillet. Robert Roberti had made his career as the director of films with diva Francesca Bertini. The critics didn’t like his direction too much but were full of praise for Vera’s lively interpretation of the dramas, along with her style of performance on stage. Another film based on a play by Niccodemi followed, L'envolĂ©e/La volata/The sprint (1919). Vera is dressed in the film as a daring aviator, "flaming expression of the new" as one critic wrote, who also noted in the aviation "the clearest emergence of these times". The actress also played in the film La modella/The model (Mario Caserini, 1920) based on a comedy by Alfredo Testoni, La buona figliola/The good daughter (Mario Caserini, 1919) based on Sabatino Lopez, Fior d'amore/Flower of love (Mario Caserini, 1921) again based on Niccodemi, and Caterina (Mario Caserini, 1921) written by Henri Lavedan. Her co-star in these films was Nerio Bernardi. She often repeated on screen, of which by now she knew all the odds and outs, her previous stage performances. But after La Vittima/The Victim (Jacques Creusy, 1921), a neglectable tearjerker, she returned to the stage for good.

 

During the fundamental years of her stage career, Vera Vergani played for the company of Dario Niccodemi. From 1921 on, she was the company's ‘primattrice’ for nine seasons. Her regular male co-star was Luigi Cimara. Memorable from these years were her performances in the first stagings of Luigi Pirandello’s plays 'Sei personaggi in cerca d'autore'(Six Characters in Search of an Author) (1921) and 'Ciascuno a suo modo' (Each on His Own Way) (1924). After the world premiere of 'Sei personaggi in cerca d'autore', hundreds of people flooded the stage and yelled violently at the author. The public, accustomed to the conventional theatre did not accept the avant-garde text. Pirandello had to barricade himself in Vergani’s dressing room. The beautiful actress suddenly stepped forward, made a silencing gesture to the raging crowd, and declared smiling sweetly: “Prima di toccare Pirandello dovete passare sul mio cadavere.“ (Before you touch Pirandello, you will have to pass my dead body). Pirandello survived and nowadays his play is considered a classic of the Italian theatre. Vittorio Paliotti writes at the website L’Isola that Vergani's photos graced the covers of European magazines and that she received an ‘avalanche’ with love letters from all over the world. Before her performances, her dressing rooms were transformed into greenhouses. The fascinating and elegant actress retired in 1930, after a last performance at the Teatro Manzoni in Milan. She starred once more in the play which had contributed to her fortune: 'La figlia di Iorio' by Gabriele D'Annunzio. The reason for her retirement was her marriage with Leonardo Pescarolo, a naval officer from the island of Procida. They had two children: assistant director Vera Pescarolo, who would become the wife of film director Giuliano Montaldo, and film producer Leo Pescarolo. Vera Vergano returned once to the cinema. In 1965 she appeared in a small role in Il morbidone/The Dreamer (Massimo Franciosa, 1965) with Anouk AimĂ©e. Vera Vergani died in Procida in 1989. Her granddaughter and great-grandchildren are also working in the film business: costume designer Elisabetta Montaldo, assistant director Inti Carboni and makeup designer Jana Carboni.

 

Sources: Vittoro Martinelli (Le dive del silenzio) (Italian), Vittorio Paliotti (L’Isola) (Italian), Procidamia (Italian) and IMDb.

 

And, please check out our blog European Film Star Postcards.

German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. A 3206/2, 1941-1944. Photo: Wien Film / Terra.

 

Austrian actress Marte Harell (1907-1996) played strong women who determined the events, in several Viennese comedies and operettas of the 1940s and 1950s.

 

Marte Harell was born as Martha Schömig in 1907 in Wien (Vienna), Austria-Hungary, now Austria. She was the daughter of architect Rudolf Schömig and his wife Emilie Mathilde nĂ©e. Passetzky. She visited a secondary school for girls in Vienna. Her acting career started when she married director Karl Hartl in 1930. She followed acting classes from Margit von Tolnai and attended the Max-Reinhardt-Seminar. At 30 years she made her debut at the Kammerspielen des Theaters in der Josefstadt. She worked for theatres in Munich and Berlin, where she was spotted by director Geza von Bolvary at the Deutsches Theater. He cast her as the leading lady in his film Opernball/Opera Ball (GĂ©za von BolvĂĄry, 1939) opposite Paul Hörbiger, and her film debut at 32 as the typical Wiener mĂ€del (Viennese girl) became an unexpected success. More leading roles followed in Wiener G'schichten/Vienna Tales (GĂ©za von BolvĂĄry, 1940) again opposite Paul Hörbiger, and an adaption of the Zeller operetta 'Der VogelhĂ€ndler', Rosen in Tirol/The Bird Seller (GĂ©za von BolvĂĄry, 1940) with Johannes Heesters. When her husband Karl Hartl became the production manager of the newly founded Wien-Film, she became a very busy actress for this company. She convinced critics and audiences with her performances in BrĂŒderlein fein/Dear Brother (Hans Thimig, 1941), the comedy Die heimliche GrĂ€fin/The Secret Countess (GĂ©za von BolvĂĄry, 1942) with Wolf Albach-Retty, Frauen sind keine Engel/Women Are No Angels (Willi Forst, 1943) with a young Curd JĂŒrgens, and Tolle Nacht/Great Night (Theo Lingen, 1943). She always played the strong woman who determined the events, and was not able to hide her typical Viennese accent. The part of Fiakermilli (Cabby Milli) in the beautiful tragi-comedy-musical Schrammeln (GĂ©za von BolvĂĄry, 1944) was her most popular role. For the adaptation of Johann Strauss' comic opera Die Fledermaus/The Bat (1945), she worked again with director GĂ©za von BolvĂĄry, with whom she made a total of ten films.

 

Marte Harell continued her film career immediately after the Second World War with Glaube an mich/Believe in Me (GĂ©za von Cziffra, 1946), but the film was torn to pieces by the critics. Two years later she returned in the romance Nach dem Sturm/After the Storm (Gustav Ucicky, 1948), based on a story by Carl Zuckmeyer. Wien Tanzt/Vienna Waltzes (Emil E. Reinert, 1951) was an old-fashioned musical extravaganza in the tradition of the pre-war Austrian films. The story centers upon Waltz King Johann Strauss (Adolf Wohlbrueck) and his ‘progressive’ composer son Richard, and their terrific music. About the female lead Hal Erickson writes at AllMovie: “The feminine interest in Wien Tanzt is provided by Marte Harell, who refreshingly is not a Hollywood-style glamourpuss.” In 1951 the Austrian public chose her as the most popular actress, but her film roles became rarer in the 1950s. She appeared in one film each year, among others the comedy Liebeskrieg nach Noten/Love War for Music (Karl Hart, 1953l) with Johannes Heesters, the historical thriller Spionage/Espionage (Franz Antel, 1955) based on the tragic life story of the homosexual ‘Oberst’ Alfred Redl, and the operetta Im Prater blĂŒhn wieder die BĂ€ume/Trees Are Blooming in Vienna (Hans Wolff, 1958). In between, she dedicated herself again to the theater and had a successful stage comeback. Her last films were the spy yarn Assignment K (Val Guest, 1968) starring Stephen Boyd, Abenteuer eines Sommers/Summer Adventure (Helmut Pfandler, 1974) starring Matthias Habich, the sex comedy Das Love-Hotel in Tirol/Love Hotel in Tyrol (Franz Antel, 1978), and the historical drama Der Bockerer (Franz Antel, 1980), about the naĂŻve Viennese butcher Karl Bockerer who refuses to get assimilated by the Nazi system and with his aggressive but charming behaviour, and a whole lot of luck survives the war. During the 1970s Marte Harell also worked regularly for television and made guest appearances in series like Hallo – Hotel Sacher
 Portier!/Hello – Hotel Sacher
Doorman! (1973), Van der Valk und die Reichen/Van der Valk and the Rich (1975), and the popular Krimi Tatort (1974). In 1985 she was awarded the Filmband in Gold for her longtime and important attributions to the German cinema, and that same year she retired. In 1996 Marte Harell died in Vienna. Her husband, Karl Hartl, had passed away in 1978. In 1951 the couple was divorced, but eight years later they have married again. In 2000 a street was named after her, the Marte-Harell-Gasse in Wien-Liesing.

 

Sources: Thomas Staedeli (Cyranos), Hal Erickson (AllMovie), Stephanie D’heil (Steffi-Line), Wikipedia and IMDb.

 

And, please check out our blog European Film Star Postcards.

German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 3241/1, 1928-1929. Photo: United Artists. Lupe Velez in The Wolf Song (Victor Fleming, 1929).

 

Lupe Velez (1908-1944), was one of the first Mexican actresses to succeed in Hollywood. Her nicknames were 'The Mexican Spitfire' and 'Hot Pepper'. She was the leading lady in such silent films as The Gaucho (1927), Lady of the Pavements (1928), and Wolf Song (1929). During the 1930s, her well-known explosive screen persona was exploited in a series of successful films like Hot Pepper (1933), Strictly Dynamite (1934), and Hollywood Party (1934). In the 1940s, VĂ©lez's popularity peaked after appearing in the Mexican Spitfire films, a series created to capitalise on VĂ©lez's well-documented fiery personality. She had several highly publicised romances and a stormy marriage. In 1944, VĂ©lez died of an intentional overdose of the barbiturate drug Seconal. Her death and the circumstances surrounding it have been the subject of speculation and controversy.

 

Lupe VĂ©lez was born MarĂ­a Guadalupe Villalobos VĂ©lez in 1908 in the city of San Luis PotosĂ­ in Mexico. She was the daughter of Jacobo Villalobos Reyes, a colonel in the army of the dictator Porfirio Diaz, and his wife Josefina VĂ©lez, an opera singer according to some sources, or vaudeville singer according to others. She had three sisters: Mercedes, Reina and Josefina, and a brother, Emigdio. The family was financially comfortable and lived in a large home. At the age of 13, her parents sent her to study at Our Lady of the Lake (now Our Lady of the Lake University) in San Antonio, Texas. It was at Our Lady of the Lake that VĂ©lez learned to speak English and began to dance. She later admitted that she liked dance class, but was otherwise a poor student. Denny Jackson at IMDb: "Life was hard for her family, and Lupe returned to Mexico to help them out financially. She worked as a salesgirl for a department store for the princely sum of $4 a week. Every week she would turn most of her salary over to her mother, but kept a little for herself so she could take dancing lessons. By now, she figured, with her mature shape and grand personality, she thought she could make a try at show business." She began her career as a performer in Mexican vaudeville in 1924. She initially performed under her paternal surname, but after her father returned home from the war, he was outraged that his daughter had decided to become a stage performer. She chose her maternal surname, "VĂ©lez", as her stage name and her mother introduced VĂ©lez and her sister Josefina to the popular Spanish Mexican vedette MarĂ­a Conesa, "La Gatita Blanca". VĂ©lez debuted in a show led by Conesa, where she sang 'Oh Charley, My Boy' and danced the shimmy. Aurelio Campos, a young pianist, and friend of the VĂ©lez sisters recommended Lupe to stage producers, Carlos Ortega and Manuel Castro. Ortega and Castro were preparing a season revue at the Regis Theatre and hired VĂ©lez to join the company in March 1925. Later that year, VĂ©lez starred in the revues 'Mexican Rataplan' and 'ÂĄNo lo tapes!', both parodies of the Bataclan's shows in Paris. Her suggestive singing and provocative dancing was a hit with audiences, and she soon established herself as one of the main stars of vaudeville in Mexico. After a year and a half, VĂ©lez left the revue after the manager refused to give her a raise. She then joined the Teatro Principal but was fired after three months due to her "feisty attitude". VĂ©lez was quickly hired by the Teatro Lirico, where her salary rose to 100 pesos a day. In 1926, Frank A. Woodyard, an American who had seen VĂ©lez perform, recommended her to stage director Richard Bennett, the father of actresses Joan and Constance Bennett. Bennett was looking for an actress to portray a Mexican cantina singer in his upcoming play 'The Dove'. He sent VĂ©lez a telegram inviting her to Los Angeles to appear in the play. VĂ©lez had been planning to go to Cuba to perform, but quickly changed her plans and traveled to Los Angeles. However, upon arrival, she discovered that she had been replaced by another actress.

 

While in Los Angeles, Lupe VĂ©lez met the comedian Fanny Brice. Brice recommended her to Flo Ziegfeld, who hired her to perform in New York City. While VĂ©lez was preparing to leave Los Angeles, she received a call from MGM producer Harry Rapf, who offered her a screen test. Producer and director Hal Roach saw VĂ©lez's screen test and hired her for a small role in the comic Laurel and Hardy short Sailors, Beware! (Fred Guiol, Hal Yates, 1927). After her debut, VĂ©lez appeared in another Hal Roach short, What Women Did for Me (James Parrott, 1927), opposite Charley Chase. Later that year, she did a screen test for the upcoming Douglas Fairbanks feature The Gaucho (F. Richard Jones, 1927). Fairbanks was impressed by VĂ©lez and hired her to appear in the film with him. The Gaucho was a hit and critics were duly impressed with VĂ©lez's ability to hold her own alongside Fairbanks, who was well known for his spirited acting and impressive stunts. Her second major film was Stand and Deliver (Donald Crisp, 1928), produced by Cecil B. DeMille. That same year, she was named one of the WAMPAS Baby Stars. Then she appeared in Lady of the Pavements (1929), directed by D. W. Griffith, and Where East Is East (Tod Browning, 1929), starring Lon Chaney as an animal trapper in Laos. In the Western The Wolf Song (Victor Fleming, 1929), she appeared alongside Gary Cooper. As she was regularly cast as 'exotic' or 'ethnic' women that were volatile and hot-tempered, gossip columnists took to referring to VĂ©lez as "Mexican Hurricane", "The Mexican Wildcat", "The Mexican Madcap", "Whoopee Lupe" and "The Hot Tamale". Lupe VĂ©lez made the transition to sound films without difficulty. Studio executives had predicted that her accent would likely hamper her ability to make the transition. That idea was dispelled after she appeared in the all-talking Rin Tin Tin vehicle, Tiger Rose (George Fitzmaurice, 1929). The film was a hit and VĂ©lez's sound career was established. VĂ©lez appeared in a series of Pre-Code films like Hell Harbor (Henry King, 1930), The Storm (William Wyler, 1930), and the crime drama East Is West (Monta Bell, 1930) opposite Edward G. Robinson. The next year, she appeared in her second film for Cecil B. DeMille, Squaw Man (Cecil B. DeMille, 1931), opposite Warner Baxter, in Resurrection (Edwin Carewe, 1931), and The Cuban Love Song (W.S. Van Dyke, 1931), with the popular singer Lawrence Tibbett. She had a supporting role in Kongo (William J. Cowen, 1932) with Walter Huston, a sound remake of West of Zanzibar (Tod Browning, 1928) which tries to outdo the Lon Chaney original in morbidity. She also starred in Spanish-language versions of Universal films like ResurrecciĂłn (Eduardo Arozamena, David Selman, 1931), the Spanish version of Resurrection (1931), and Hombres en mi vida (Eduardo Arozamena, David Selman, 1932), the Spanish version of Men in Her Life (William Beaudine, 1931) in which Lois Moran had starred.

 

In 1932, Lupe VĂ©lez took a break from her film career and traveled to New York City where she was signed by Broadway impresario Florenz Ziegfeld, Jr. to take over the role of "Conchita" in the musical revue 'Hot-Cha!'. The show also starred Bert Lahr, Eleanor Powell, and Buddy Rogers. Back in Hollywood, Lupe switched to comedy after playing dramatic roles for five years. Denny Jackson at IMDb: "In 1933 she played the lead role of Pepper in Hot Pepper (1933). This film showcased her comedic talents and helped her to show the world her vital personality. She was delightful." After Hot Pepper (John G. Blystone, 1933) with Edmund Lowe and Victor McLaglen, Lupe played beautiful but volatile, characters in a series of successful films like Strictly Dynamite (Elliott Nugent, 1934), Palooka (Benjamin Stoloff, 1934) both opposite Jimmy Durante, and Hollywood Party (Allan Dwan, a.o., 1934) with Laurel and Hardy. Although VĂ©lez was a popular actress, RKO Pictures did not renew her contract in 1934. Over the next few years, VĂ©lez worked for various studios as a freelance actress; she also spent two years in England where she filmed The Morals of Marcus (Miles Mander, 1935) and Gypsy Melody (Edmond T. GrĂ©ville, 1936). She returned to Los Angeles the following year where she appeared in the final part of the Wheeler & Woolsey comedy High Flyers (Edward F. Cline, 1937). In 1938, VĂ©lez made her final appearance on Broadway in the musical You Never Know, by Cole Porter. The show received poor reviews from critics but received a large amount of publicity due to the feud between VĂ©lez and fellow cast member Libby Holman. Holman was irritated by the attention VĂ©lez garnered from the show with her impersonations of several actresses including Gloria Swanson, Katharine Hepburn, and Shirley Temple. The feud came to a head during a performance in New Haven, Connecticut after VĂ©lez punched Holman in between curtain calls and gave her a black eye. The feud effectively ended the show. Upon her return to Mexico City in 1938 to star in her first Mexican film, VĂ©lez was greeted by ten thousand fans. The film La Zandunga (Fernando de Fuentes, 1938) co-starring Arturo de CĂłrdova, was a critical and financial success. VĂ©lez was slated to appear in four more Mexican films, but instead, she returned to Los Angeles and went back to work for RKO Pictures. In 1939, Lupe VĂ©lez was cast opposite Leon Errol and Donald Woods in the B-comedy, The Girl from Mexico (Leslie Goodwins, 1939). Despite being a B film, it was a hit with audiences and RKO re-teamed her with Errol and Wood for a sequel, Mexican Spitfire (Leslie Goodwins, 1940). That film was also a success and led to a series of eight Spitfire films. Wikipedia: "In the series, VĂ©lez portrays Carmelita Lindsay, a temperamental yet friendly Mexican singer married to Dennis 'Denny' Lindsay (Woods), an elegant American gentleman. The Spitfire films rejuvenated VĂ©lez's career. Moreover, they were films in which a Latina headlined for eight films straight –a true rarity." In addition to the Spitfire series, she was cast in such films as Six Lessons from Madame La Zonga (John Rawlins, 1941), Playmates (David Butler, 1941) opposite John Barrymore, and Redhead from Manhattan (Lew Landers, 1943). In 1943, the final film in the Spitfire series, Mexican Spitfire's Blessed Event (Leslie Goodwins, 1943), was released. By that time, the novelty of the series had begun to wane. Velez co-starred with Eddie Albert in the romantic comedy, Ladies' Day (Leslie Goodwins, 1943), about an actress and a baseball player. In 1944, VĂ©lez returned to Mexico to star in an adaptation of Émile Zola's novel Nana (Roberto GavaldĂłn, Celestino Gorostiza, 1944), which was well-received. It would be her final film. After filming wrapped, VĂ©lez returned to Los Angeles and began preparing for another stage role in New York.

 

Lupe Vélez's temper and jealousy in her often tempestuous romantic relationships were well documented and became tabloid fodder, often overshadowing her career. Vélez was straightforward with the press and was regularly contacted by gossip columnists for stories about her romantic exploits. Her first long-term relationship was with actor Gary Cooper. Vélez met Cooper while filming The Wolf Song in 1929 and began a two-year affair with him. The relationship was passionate but often stormy. Reportedly Vélez chased Cooper around with a knife during an argument and cut him severely enough to require stitches. By that time, the rocky relationship had taken its toll on Cooper who had lost 45 pounds and was suffering from nervous exhaustion. Paramount Pictures ordered him to take a vacation to recuperate. While he was boarding the train, Vélez showed up at the train station and fired a pistol at him. During her marriage to actor Johnny Weissmuller, stories of their frequent physical fights were regularly reported in the press. Vélez reportedly inflicted scratches, bruises, and love-bites on Weissmuller during their fights and "passionate love-making". In July 1934, after ten months of marriage, Vélez filed for divorce citing cruelty. She withdrew the petition a week later after reconciling with Weissmuller. In January 1935, she filed for divorce a second time and was granted an interlocutory decree that was dismissed when the couple reconciled a month later. In August 1938, Vélez filed for divorce for a third time, again charging Weissmuller with cruelty. Their divorce was finalised in August 1939. After the divorce became final, Vélez began dating actor Guinn "Big Boy" Williams in late 1940. They were reportedly engaged but never married. Vélez was also linked to author Erich Maria Remarque and the boxers Jack Johnson and Jack Dempsey. In 1943, Vélez began an affair with her La Zandunga co-star Arturo de Córdova. De Córdova had recently moved to Hollywood after signing with Paramount Pictures. Despite the fact that de Córdova was married to Mexican actress Enna Arana with whom he had four children, Vélez granted an interview to gossip columnist Louella Parsons in September 1943 and announced that the two were engaged. Vélez ended the engagement in early 1944, reportedly after de Córdova's wife refused to give him a divorce. Vélez then met and began dating a struggling young Austrian actor named Harald Maresch (who went by the stage name Harald Ramond). In September 1944, she discovered she was pregnant with Ramond's child. She announced their engagement in late November 1944. On 10 December, four days before her death, Vélez announced she had ended the engagement and kicked Ramond out of her home. On the evening of 13 December 1944, Vélez dined with her two friends, the silent film star Estelle Taylor and Venita Oakie. In the early morning hours of 14 December, Vélez retired to her bedroom, where she consumed 75 Seconal pills and a glass of brandy. Her secretary, Beulah Kinder, found the actress's body on her bed later that morning. A suicide note addressed to Harald Ramond was found nearby. Lupe Vélez was only 36 years old. More than four-thousand people filed past her casket during her funeral. Her body was interred in Mexico City, at Panteón Civil de Dolores Cemetery. Velez' estate, valued at $125,000 and consisting mostly of her Rodeo House home, two cars, jewelry, and personal effects were left to her secretary Beulah Kinder with the remainder in trust for her mother, Mrs. Josephine Velez. Together with Dolores del Rio, Ramon Novarro, and José Mojica, she was one of the few Mexican people who had made history in the early years of Hollywood.

 

Sources: Denny Jackson (IMDb), Wikipedia, and IMDb.

 

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Italian or Romanian postcard. Agfa.

 

Irasema Dilian/ Eva Dilian, pseudonym of Irasema Warschalowska (1924-1996), was an Italian actress, who acted in Italian, Spanish and Mexican cinema.

 

Daughter of a Polish diplomat, Dilian was born in Rio de Janeiro where her father represented her country in the 1920s. She arrived at a very young age in Rome where she enrolled to the film school Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia, graduating in 1940. She made her debut in a film by the French director Marcel L'Herbier, Ecco la felicità/ La Comédie du bonheur (1940). Noted by Vittorio De Sica, Dilian became one of the students in Maddalena... zero in condotta, alongside Carla Del Poggio. From 1940 using her first pseudonym of Eva Dilian, she became a hugely successful actress thanks to this role. After that film, she became the rich private schoolgirl par excellence of the Italian cinema of white telephones, Dilian was certainly one of the most popular actresses of the 1940s, especially in the role of unpleasant students but at the same time endowed with promising beauty, and contagiously captivating by the interpretative sweetness of the actress. This also goes for that other role that Dilian played in 1941: the spoiled, snobbish merchant's daughter and failed poetess Lilli Passalacqua in Teresa VenerdÏ (1941), again under the direction of De Sica and this time alongside Adriana Benetti as protagonist.

 

But Irasema Dilian, her final pseudonym, found her consecration in Ore 9: lezione di chimica, under the direction of Mario Mattoli and alongside young and beautiful actors such as Alida Valli, Andrea Checchi and Bianca Della Corte. In the role of "Maria" she conquered the first place in the opening titles and imposed herself on the audience, above all in the heart of the male adolescent spectators, as the sensitive and sincere girl that every man dreamed of marrying. Dilian starred continuously in films that grossed a lot like Violette nei cappelli by Carlo Ludovico Bragaglia, I sette peccati by Ladislao Kish and Malombra by Mario Soldati in 1942, and Fuga a due voci, with Gino Bechi, again by Bragaglia in 1943. After the war Dilian starred in Riccardo Freda's Aquila nera in 1946, Mario Camerini's La figlia del capitano in 1947 and Gennaro Righelli's Il corriere del re of 1948, costume films, which characterized a new horizon for Dilian, now a woman, who in the meanwhile, having found an artistic refuge in Spain during the RSI (Republic of SalĂČ) together with other Italian stars, she returned very often to the Iberian peninsula to act in various films even after the conflict.

 

Married in 1950 to Arduino (Dino) Maiuri, later acclaimed screenwriter, after the flop of the film Donne senza nome (Géza von Radvånyi, 1950), Dilian moved with her husband to Mexico to shoot Muchachas de Uniforme (Alfredo B. Crevenna, 1951). This film which was an extraordinary success and catapulted Dilian towards an unexpected fame in the Central American country in which she remained several years, contributing with other actors and actresses to create what was later called "the golden age" of Mexican cinema. Among the various films she acted in, Luis Buñuel's Abismos de pasión/Wuthering Heights from 1954 is worth mentioning, perhaps the only film the director regretted shooting. Dilian acted as Caterina/Cathy opposite Jorge Mistral as Alejandro/Heathcliff. In the late fifties Dilian retired, despite being still on the crest of the wave, from the world of entertainment and returned to live in Italy, while her husband Arduino Maiuri continued his career as a screenwriter. From their marriage two children were born, Coralla and Antonio.

 

Irasema Dilian died in Ceprano (Frosinone) in 1996.

 

Sources: Italian Wikipedia, IMDB.

Italian postcard by Casa Editrice G. Ballerini & Fratini, Firenze, no. 601/6. Photo: Massaglia, Torino.

 

Charming and elegant Vera Vergani (1894-1989) was primarily an Italian stage actress, famous for her interpretations in the first stagings of Pirandello’s plays. She became one of the popular divas of the Italian cinema when she appeared in a dozen silent films between 1917 and 1921 for directors like Augusto Genina and Roberto Roberti.

 

Vera Vergani was born in Milan in 1894 She was the granddaughter of puppet master Vittorio Podrecca and sister of journalist and stage write Orio Vergani. She debuted on stage in 1912 at the Benini company. Two years later she joined the Talli-Melato-Giovannini company and in 1916 she became the ‘primattrice’ (leading lady) in the company of the famous actor Ruggero Ruggeri. She was only 21 at the time. She played Ophelia in William Shakespeare’s 'Hamlet' and had a huge success with the title role in Gabriele D’Anunzio’s 'La Figlia di Jorio' (The Daughter of Jorio). She would play that role again and again. In 1916 film producer Giovanni Xilo managed to lure the popular actress to work for his Monopol-Rome Film. He hoped to add prestige to his productions with big names of the stage. Producers had done so earlier with Lyda Borelli and Ermete Zacconi. When her stage company was at rest in the summertime, Vergani played in two films for which Augusto Genina had written the original scripts: Il presagio/The Presentiment (Augusto Genina, 1916) and La menzogna/The Lie (Augusto Genina, 1916) with Tullio Carminati and Oreste Bilancia. They were produced at the same time, using the same cast and crew, at the Cines film studio, which was rented for the occasion. As the publicity indicates, Il presagio was "the drama of a beautiful woman who seems to be born for the joy of the eyes and for love, but instead meets futile caprice and tragic passion". La menzogna is "the violent story of a woman ready to sacrifice her honour to save her husband, but justice protects the good ones and will prevail in the end". The film did not have very good reception and Vergani was accused of betraying the theatre. "It is a night without a moonbeam", one critic wrote, and Vera didn’t want to know about film anymore for several years. On stage, she was very successful again with both critics and audiences in plays by Luigi Pirandello and Gabriele D'Annunzio. In the 1910s and 1920s, she remained foremost a stage actress, appreciated not only for her beauty and elegance but also for her excellent interpretations.

 

In 1919, Vera Vergani returned to the screen. Giuseppe Barattolo, the producer at Caesar Film, offered her to play in three films based on famous stage plays Dora o le spie/Dora or the spies (Robert Roberti, 1919) written by Victorien Sardou, La paura d'amare/Fear of love (Robert Roberti, 1920) by Dario Niccodemi, and Giulia di TrĂ©coeur/Lucie de Trecoeur (Camillo De Riso, Augusto Genina, 1921) by Octave Feuillet. Robert Roberti had made his career as the director of films with diva Francesca Bertini. The critics didn’t like his direction too much but were full of praise for Vera’s lively interpretation of the dramas, along with her style of performance on stage. Another film based on a play by Niccodemi followed, L'envolĂ©e/La volata/The sprint (1919). Vera is dressed in the film as a daring aviator, "flaming expression of the new" as one critic wrote, who also noted in the aviation "the clearest emergence of these times". The actress also played in the film La modella/The model (Mario Caserini, 1920) based on a comedy by Alfredo Testoni, La buona figliola/The good daughter (Mario Caserini, 1919) based on Sabatino Lopez, Fior d'amore/Flower of love (Mario Caserini, 1921) again based on Niccodemi, and Caterina (Mario Caserini, 1921) written by Henri Lavedan. Her co-star in these films was Nerio Bernardi. She often repeated on screen, of which by now she knew all the odds and outs, her previous stage performances. But after La Vittima/The Victim (Jacques Creusy, 1921), a neglectable tearjerker, she returned to the stage for good.

 

During the fundamental years of her stage career, Vera Vergani played for the company of Dario Niccodemi. From 1921 on, she was the company's ‘primattrice’ for nine seasons. Her regular male co-star was Luigi Cimara. Memorable from these years were her performances in the first stagings of Luigi Pirandello’s plays 'Sei personaggi in cerca d'autore' (Six Characters in Search of an Author) (1921) and 'Ciascuno a suo modo' (Each on His Own Way) (1924). After the world premiere of 'Sei personaggi in cerca d'autore', hundreds of people flooded the stage and yelled violently at the author. The public, accustomed to the conventional theatre did not accept the avant-garde text. Pirandello had to barricade himself in Vergani’s dressing room. The beautiful actress suddenly stepped forward, made a silencing gesture to the raging crowd, and declared smiling sweetly: “Prima di toccare Pirandello dovete passare sul mio cadavere.“ (Before you touch Pirandello, you will have to pass my dead body). Pirandello survived and nowadays his play is considered a classic of the Italian theatre. Vittorio Paliotti writes at the website L’Isola that Vergani's photos graced the covers of European magazines and that she received an ‘avalanche’ with love letters from all over the world. Before her performances, her dressing rooms were transformed into greenhouses. The fascinating and elegant actress retired in 1930, after a last performance at the Teatro Manzoni in Milan. She starred once more in the play which had contributed to her fortune: 'La figlia di Iorio' by Gabriele D'Annunzio. The reason for her retirement was her marriage with Leonardo Pescarolo, a naval officer from the island of Procida. They had two children: assistant director Vera Pescarolo, who would become the wife of film director Giuliano Montaldo, and film producer Leo Pescarolo. Vera Vergano returned once to the cinema. In 1965 she appeared in a small role in Il morbidone/The Dreamer (Massimo Franciosa, 1965) with Anouk AimĂ©e. Vera Vergani died in Procida in 1989. Her granddaughter and great-grandchildren are also working in the film business: costume designer Elisabetta Montaldo, assistant director Inti Carboni and makeup designer Jana Carboni.

 

Sources: Vittoro Martinelli (Le dive del silenzio) (Italian), Vittorio Paliotti (L’Isola) (Italian), Procidamia (Italian) and IMDb.

 

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German cigarette card by Ross Verlag in the 'KĂŒnstler im Film' series for Zigarettenfabrik Monopol, Dresden, Serie 1, image 152 (of 200). Photo: Paramount. Lupe Velez in The Broken Wing (Lloyd Corrigan, 1932).

 

Lupe Velez (1908-1944), was one of the first Mexican actresses to succeed in Hollywood. Her nicknames were 'The Mexican Spitfire' and 'Hot Pepper'. She was the leading lady in such silent films as The Gaucho (1927), Lady of the Pavements (1928), and Wolf Song (1929). During the 1930s, her well-known explosive screen persona was exploited in a series of successful films like Hot Pepper (1933), Strictly Dynamite (1934), and Hollywood Party (1934). In the 1940s, VĂ©lez's popularity peaked after appearing in the Mexican Spitfire films, a series created to capitalise on VĂ©lez's well-documented fiery personality. She had several highly publicised romances and a stormy marriage. In 1944, VĂ©lez died of an intentional overdose of the barbiturate drug Seconal. Her death and the circumstances surrounding it have been the subject of speculation and controversy.

 

Lupe VĂ©lez was born MarĂ­a Guadalupe Villalobos VĂ©lez in 1908 in the city of San Luis PotosĂ­ in Mexico. She was the daughter of Jacobo Villalobos Reyes, a colonel in the army of the dictator Porfirio Diaz, and his wife Josefina VĂ©lez, an opera singer according to some sources, or vaudeville singer according to others. She had three sisters: Mercedes, Reina and Josefina and a brother, Emigdio. The family was financially comfortable and lived in a large home. At the age of 13, her parents sent her to study at Our Lady of the Lake (now Our Lady of the Lake University) in San Antonio, Texas. It was at Our Lady of the Lake that VĂ©lez learned to speak English and began to dance. She later admitted that she liked dance class, but was otherwise a poor student. Denny Jackson at IMDb: "Life was hard for her family, and Lupe returned to Mexico to help them out financially. She worked as a salesgirl for a department store for the princely sum of $4 a week. Every week she would turn most of her salary over to her mother, but kept a little for herself so she could take dancing lessons. By now, she figured, with her mature shape and grand personality, she thought she could make a try at show business." She began her career as a performer in Mexican vaudeville in 1924. She initially performed under her paternal surname, but after her father returned home from the war, he was outraged that his daughter had decided to become a stage performer. She chose her maternal surname, "VĂ©lez", as her stage name and her mother introduced VĂ©lez and her sister Josefina to the popular Spanish Mexican vedette MarĂ­a Conesa, "La Gatita Blanca". VĂ©lez debuted in a show led by Conesa, where she sang 'Oh Charley, My Boy' and danced the shimmy. Aurelio Campos, a young pianist and friend of the VĂ©lez sisters, recommended Lupe to stage producers Carlos Ortega and Manuel Castro. Ortega and Castro were preparing a season revue at the Regis Theatre and hired VĂ©lez to join the company in March 1925. Later that year, VĂ©lez starred in the revues 'Mexican Rataplan' and 'ÂĄNo lo tapes!', both parodies of the Bataclan's shows in Paris. Her suggestive singing and provocative dancing was a hit with audiences, and she soon established herself as one of the main stars of vaudeville in Mexico. After a year and a half, VĂ©lez left the revue after the manager refused to give her a raise. She then joined the Teatro Principal, but was fired after three months due to her "feisty attitude". VĂ©lez was quickly hired by the Teatro Lirico, where her salary rose to 100 pesos a day. In 1926, Frank A. Woodyard, an American who had seen VĂ©lez perform, recommended her to stage director Richard Bennett, the father of actresses Joan and Constance Bennett. Bennett was looking for an actress to portray a Mexican cantina singer in his upcoming play 'The Dove'. He sent VĂ©lez a telegram inviting her to Los Angeles to appear in the play. VĂ©lez had been planning to go to Cuba to perform, but quickly changed her plans and traveled to Los Angeles. However, upon arrival, she discovered that she had been replaced by another actress.

 

While in Los Angeles, Lupe VĂ©lez met the comedian Fanny Brice. Brice recommended her to Flo Ziegfeld, who hired her to perform in New York City. While VĂ©lez was preparing to leave Los Angeles, she received a call from MGM producer Harry Rapf, who offered her a screen test. Producer and director Hal Roach saw VĂ©lez's screen test and hired her for a small role in the comic Laurel and Hardy short Sailors, Beware! (Fred Guiol, Hal Yates, 1927). After her debut, VĂ©lez appeared in another Hal Roach short, What Women Did for Me (James Parrott, 1927), opposite Charley Chase. Later that year, she did a screen test for the upcoming Douglas Fairbanks feature The Gaucho (F. Richard Jones, 1927). Fairbanks was impressed by VĂ©lez and hired her to appear in the film with him. The Gaucho was a hit and critics were duly impressed with VĂ©lez's ability to hold her own alongside Fairbanks, who was well known for his spirited acting and impressive stunts. Her second major film was Stand and Deliver (Donald Crisp, 1928), produced by Cecil B. DeMille. That same year, she was named one of the WAMPAS Baby Stars. Then she appeared in Lady of the Pavements (1929), directed by D. W. Griffith, and Where East Is East (Tod Browning, 1929), starring Lon Chaney as an animal trapper in Laos. In the Western The Wolf Song (Victor Fleming, 1929), she appeared alongside Gary Cooper. As she was regularly cast as 'exotic' or 'ethnic' women that were volatile and hot-tempered, gossip columnists took to referring to VĂ©lez as "Mexican Hurricane", "The Mexican Wildcat", "The Mexican Madcap", "Whoopee Lupe" and "The Hot Tamale". Lupe VĂ©lez made the transition to sound films without difficulty. Studio executives had predicted that her accent would likely hamper her ability to make the transition. That idea was dispelled after she appeared in the all-talking Rin Tin Tin vehicle, Tiger Rose (George Fitzmaurice, 1929). The film was a hit and VĂ©lez's sound career was established. VĂ©lez appeared in a series of Pre-Code films like Hell Harbor (Henry King, 1930), The Storm (William Wyler, 1930), and the crime drama East Is West (Monta Bell, 1930) opposite Edward G. Robinson. The next year, she appeared in her second film for Cecil B. DeMille, Squaw Man (Cecil B. DeMille, 1931), opposite Warner Baxter, in Resurrection (Edwin Carewe, 1931), and The Cuban Love Song (W.S. Van Dyke, 1931), with the popular singer Lawrence Tibbett. She had a supporting role in Kongo (William J. Cowen, 1932) with Walter Huston, a sound remake of West of Zanzibar (Tod Browning, 1928) which tries to outdo the Lon Chaney original in morbidity. She also starred in Spanish-language versions of Universal films like ResurrecciĂłn (Eduardo Arozamena, David Selman, 1931), the Spanish version of Resurrection (1931), and Hombres en mi vida (Eduardo Arozamena, David Selman, 1932), the Spanish version of Men in Her Life (William Beaudine, 1931) in which Lois Moran had starred.

 

In 1932, Lupe VĂ©lez took a break from her film career and traveled to New York City where she was signed by Broadway impresario Florenz Ziegfeld, Jr. to take over the role of "Conchita" in the musical revue 'Hot-Cha!'. The show also starred Bert Lahr, Eleanor Powell, and Buddy Rogers. Back in Hollywood, Lupe switched to comedy after playing dramatic roles for five years. Denny Jackson at IMDb: "In 1933 she played the lead role of Pepper in Hot Pepper (1933). This film showcased her comedic talents and helped her to show the world her vital personality. She was delightful." After Hot Pepper (John G. Blystone, 1933) with Edmund Lowe and Victor McLaglen, Lupe played beautiful, but volatile, characters in a series of successful films like Strictly Dynamite (Elliott Nugent, 1934), Palooka (Benjamin Stoloff, 1934) both opposite Jimmy Durante, and Hollywood Party (Allan Dwan, a.o., 1934) with Laurel and Hardy. Although VĂ©lez was a popular actress, RKO Pictures did not renew her contract in 1934. Over the next few years, VĂ©lez worked for various studios as a freelance actress; she also spent two years in England where she filmed The Morals of Marcus (Miles Mander, 1935) and Gypsy Melody (Edmond T. GrĂ©ville, 1936). She returned to Los Angeles the following year where she appeared in the final part of the Wheeler & Woolsey comedy High Flyers (Edward F. Cline, 1937). In 1938, VĂ©lez made her final appearance on Broadway in the musical You Never Know, by Cole Porter. The show received poor reviews from critics but received a large amount of publicity due to the feud between VĂ©lez and fellow cast member Libby Holman. Holman was irritated by the attention VĂ©lez garnered from the show with her impersonations of several actresses including Gloria Swanson, Katharine Hepburn, and Shirley Temple. The feud came to a head during a performance in New Haven, Connecticut after VĂ©lez punched Holman in between curtain calls and gave her a black eye. The feud effectively ended the show. Upon her return to Mexico City in 1938 to star in her first Mexican film, VĂ©lez was greeted by ten thousand fans. The film La Zandunga (Fernando de Fuentes, 1938) co-starring Arturo de CĂłrdova, was a critical and financial success. VĂ©lez was slated to appear in four more Mexican films, but instead, she returned to Los Angeles and went back to work for RKO Pictures. In 1939, Lupe VĂ©lez was cast opposite Leon Errol and Donald Woods in the B-comedy, The Girl from Mexico (Leslie Goodwins, 1939). Despite being a B film, it was a hit with audiences and RKO re-teamed her with Errol and Wood for a sequel, Mexican Spitfire (Leslie Goodwins, 1940). That film was also a success and led to a series of eight Spitfire films. Wikipedia: "In the series, VĂ©lez portrays Carmelita Lindsay, a temperamental yet friendly Mexican singer married to Dennis 'Denny' Lindsay (Woods), an elegant American gentleman. The Spitfire films rejuvenated VĂ©lez's career. Moreover, they were films in which a Latina headlined for eight films straight –a true rarity." In addition to the Spitfire series, she was cast in such films as Six Lessons from Madame La Zonga (John Rawlins, 1941), Playmates (David Butler, 1941) opposite John Barrymore, and Redhead from Manhattan (Lew Landers, 1943). In 1943, the final film in the Spitfire series, Mexican Spitfire's Blessed Event (Leslie Goodwins, 1943), was released. By that time, the novelty of the series had begun to wane. Velez co-starred with Eddie Albert in the romantic comedy, Ladies' Day (Leslie Goodwins, 1943), about an actress and a baseball player. In 1944, VĂ©lez returned to Mexico to star in an adaptation of Émile Zola's novel Nana (Roberto GavaldĂłn, Celestino Gorostiza, 1944), which was well-received. It would be her final film. After filming wrapped, VĂ©lez returned to Los Angeles and began preparing for another stage role in New York.

 

Lupe Vélez's temper and jealousy in her often tempestuous romantic relationships were well documented and became tabloid fodder, often overshadowing her career. Vélez was straightforward with the press and was regularly contacted by gossip columnists for stories about her romantic exploits. Her first long-term relationship was with actor Gary Cooper. Vélez met Cooper while filming The Wolf Song in 1929 and began a two-year affair with him. The relationship was passionate but often stormy. Reportedly Vélez chased Cooper around with a knife during an argument and cut him severely enough to require stitches. By that time, the rocky relationship had taken its toll on Cooper who had lost 45 pounds and was suffering from nervous exhaustion. Paramount Pictures ordered him to take a vacation to recuperate. While he was boarding the train, Vélez showed up at the train station and fired a pistol at him. During her marriage to actor Johnny Weissmuller, stories of their frequent physical fights were regularly reported in the press. Vélez reportedly inflicted scratches, bruises, and love-bites on Weissmuller during their fights and "passionate love-making". In July 1934, after ten months of marriage, Vélez filed for divorce citing cruelty. She withdrew the petition a week later after reconciling with Weissmuller. In January 1935, she filed for divorce a second time and was granted an interlocutory decree that was dismissed when the couple reconciled a month later. In August 1938, Vélez filed for divorce for a third time, again charging Weissmuller with cruelty. Their divorce was finalised in August 1939. After the divorce became final, Vélez began dating actor Guinn "Big Boy" Williams in late 1940. They were reportedly engaged but never married. Vélez was also linked to author Erich Maria Remarque and the boxers Jack Johnson and Jack Dempsey. In 1943, Vélez began an affair with her La Zandunga co-star Arturo de Córdova. De Córdova had recently moved to Hollywood after signing with Paramount Pictures. Despite the fact that de Córdova was married to Mexican actress Enna Arana with whom he had four children, Vélez granted an interview to gossip columnist Louella Parsons in September 1943 and announced that the two were engaged. Vélez ended the engagement in early 1944, reportedly after de Córdova's wife refused to give him a divorce. Vélez then met and began dating a struggling young Austrian actor named Harald Maresch (who went by the stage name Harald Ramond). In September 1944, she discovered she was pregnant with Ramond's child. She announced their engagement in late November 1944. On 10 December, four days before her death, Vélez announced she had ended the engagement and kicked Ramond out of her home. On the evening of 13 December 1944, Vélez dined with her two friends, the silent film star Estelle Taylor and Venita Oakie. In the early morning hours of 14 December, Vélez retired to her bedroom, where she consumed 75 Seconal pills and a glass of brandy. Her secretary, Beulah Kinder, found the actress's body on her bed later that morning. A suicide note addressed to Harald Ramond was found nearby. Lupe Vélez was only 36 years old. More than four-thousand people filed past her casket during her funeral. Her body was interred in Mexico City, at Panteón Civil de Dolores Cemetery. Velez' estate, valued at $125,000 and consisting mostly of her Rodeo House home, two cars, jewelry, and personal effects were left to her secretary Beulah Kinder with the remainder in trust for her mother, Mrs. Josephine Velez. Together with Dolores del Rio, Ramon Novarro, and José Mojica, she was one of the few Mexican people who had made history in the early years of Hollywood.

 

Sources: Denny Jackson (IMDb), Wikipedia and IMDb.

 

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Italian postcard by Fotocelere, Torino (Turin), no. 282. Photo: Badodi.

 

Charming and elegant Vera Vergani (1894-1989) was primarily an Italian stage actress, famous for her interpretations in the first stagings of Pirandello’s plays. She became one of the popular divas of the Italian cinema when she appeared in a dozen silent films between 1917 and 1921 for directors like Augusto Genina and Roberto Roberti.

 

Vera Vergani was born in Milan in 1894 She was the granddaughter of puppet master Vittorio Podrecca and sister of journalist and stage write Orio Vergani. She debuted on stage in 1912 at the Benini company. Two years later she joined the Talli-Melato-Giovannini company and in 1916 she became the ‘primattrice’ (leading lady) in the company of the famous actor Ruggero Ruggeri. She was only 21 at the time. She played Ophelia in William Shakespeare’s Hamlet and had a huge success with the title role in Gabriele D’Anunzio’s 'La Figlia di Jorio' (The Daughter of Jorio). She would play that role again and again. In 1916 film producer Giovanni Xilo managed to lure the popular actress to work for his Monopol-Rome Film. He hoped to add prestige to his productions with big names of the stage. Producers had done so earlier with Lyda Borelli and Ermete Zacconi. When her stage company was at rest in the summertime, Vergani played in two films for which Augusto Genina had written the original scripts: Il presagio/The Presentiment (Augusto Genina, 1916) and La menzogna/The Lie (Augusto Genina, 1916) with Tullio Carminati and Oreste Bilancia. They were produced at the same time, using the same cast and crew, at the Cines film studio, which was rented for the occasion. As the publicity indicates, Il presagio was "the drama of a beautiful woman who seems to be born for the joy of the eyes and for love, but instead meets futile caprice and tragic passion". La menzogna is "the violent story of a woman ready to sacrifice her honour to save her husband, but justice protects the good ones and will prevail in the end". The film did not have a very good reception and Vergani was accused of betraying the theatre. "It is a night without a moonbeam", one critic wrote, and Vera didn’t want to know about film anymore for several years. On stage she was very successful again with both critics and audiences in plays by Luigi Pirandello and Gabriele D'Annunzio. In the 1910s and 1920's, she remained foremost a stage actress, appreciated not only for her beauty and elegance but also for her excellent interpretations.

 

In 1919, Vera Vergani returned to the screen. Giuseppe Barattolo, the producer at Caesar Film, offered her to play in three films based on famous stage plays Dora o le spie/Dora or the spies (Robert Roberti, 1919) written by Victorien Sardou, La paura d'amare/Fear of love (Robert Roberti, 1920) by Dario Niccodemi, and Giulia di TrĂ©coeur/Lucie de Trecoeur (Camillo De Riso, Augusto Genina, 1921) by Octave Feuillet. Robert Roberti had made his career as the director of films with diva Francesca Bertini. The critics didn’t like his direction too much but were full of praise for Vera’s lively interpretation of the dramas, along with her style of performance on stage. Another film based on a play by Niccodemi followed, L'envolĂ©e/La volata/The sprint (1919). Vera is dressed in the film as a daring aviator, "flaming expression of the new" as one critic wrote, who also noted in the aviation "the clearest emergence of these times". The actress also played in the film La modella/The model (Mario Caserini, 1920) based on a comedy by Alfredo Testoni, La buona figliola/The good daughter (Mario Caserini, 1919) based on Sabatino Lopez, Fior d'amore/Flower of love (Mario Caserini, 1921) again based on Niccodemi, and Caterina (Mario Caserini, 1921) written by Henri Lavedan. Her co-star in these films was Nerio Bernardi. She often repeated on screen, of which by now she knew all the odds and outs, her previous stage performances. But after La Vittima/The Victim (Jacques Creusy, 1921), a neglectable tearjerker, she returned to the stage for good.

 

During the fundamental years of her stage career, Vera Vergani played for the company of Dario Niccodemi. From 1921 on, she was the company's ‘primattrice’ for nine seasons. Her regular male co-star was Luigi Cimara. Memorable from these years were her performances in the first stagings of Luigi Pirandello’s plays 'Sei personaggi in cerca d'autore'(Six Characters in Search of an Author) (1921) and 'Ciascuno a suo modo' (Each on His Own Way) (1924). After the world premiere of 'Sei personaggi in cerca d'autore', hundreds of people flooded the stage and yelled violently at the author. The public, accustomed to the conventional theatre did not accept the avant-garde text. Pirandello had to barricade himself in Vergani’s dressing room. The beautiful actress suddenly stepped forward, made a silencing gesture to the raging crowd, and declared smiling sweetly: “Prima di toccare Pirandello dovete passare sul mio cadavere.“ (Before you touch Pirandello, you will have to pass my dead body). Pirandello survived and nowadays his play is considered a classic of the Italian theatre. Vittorio Paliotti writes at the website L’Isola that Vergani's photos graced the covers of European magazines and that she received an ‘avalanche’ with love letters from all over the world. Before her performances, her dressing rooms were transformed into greenhouses. The fascinating and elegant actress retired in 1930, after a last performance at the Teatro Manzoni in Milan. She starred once more in the play which had contributed to her fortune: 'La figlia di Iorio' by Gabriele D'Annunzio. The reason for her retirement was her marriage with Leonardo Pescarolo, a naval officer from the island of Procida. They had two children: assistant director Vera Pescarolo, who would become the wife of film director Giuliano Montaldo, and film producer Leo Pescarolo. Vera Vergano returned once to the cinema. In 1965 she appeared in a small role in Il morbidone/The Dreamer (Massimo Franciosa, 1965) with Anouk AimĂ©e. Vera Vergani died in Procida in 1989. Her granddaughter and great-grandchildren are also working in the film business: costume designer Elisabetta Montaldo, assistant director Inti Carboni and makeup designer Jana Carboni.

 

Sources: Vittoro Martinelli (Le dive del silenzio) (Italian), Vittorio Paliotti (L’Isola) (Italian), Procidamia (Italian) and IMDb.

 

And, please check out our blog European Film Star Postcards.

German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 4116/1, 1929-1930. Photo: United Artists. Lupe Velez in Lady of the Pavements (D.W. Griffith, 1929).

 

Lupe Velez (1908-1944), was one of the first Mexican actresses to succeed in Hollywood. Her nicknames were 'The Mexican Spitfire' and 'Hot Pepper'. She was the leading lady in such silent films as The Gaucho (1927), Lady of the Pavements (1928), and Wolf Song (1929). During the 1930s, her well-known explosive screen persona was exploited in a series of successful films like Hot Pepper (1933), Strictly Dynamite (1934), and Hollywood Party (1934). In the 1940s, VĂ©lez's popularity peaked after appearing in the Mexican Spitfire films, a series created to capitalise on VĂ©lez's well-documented fiery personality. She had several highly publicised romances and a stormy marriage. In 1944, VĂ©lez died of an intentional overdose of the barbiturate drug Seconal. Her death and the circumstances surrounding it have been the subject of speculation and controversy.

 

Lupe VĂ©lez was born MarĂ­a Guadalupe Villalobos VĂ©lez in 1908 in the city of San Luis PotosĂ­ in Mexico. She was the daughter of Jacobo Villalobos Reyes, a colonel in the army of the dictator Porfirio Diaz, and his wife Josefina VĂ©lez, an opera singer according to some sources, or vaudeville singer according to others. She had three sisters: Mercedes, Reina and Josefina, and a brother, Emigdio. The family was financially comfortable and lived in a large home. At the age of 13, her parents sent her to study at Our Lady of the Lake (now Our Lady of the Lake University) in San Antonio, Texas. It was at Our Lady of the Lake that VĂ©lez learned to speak English and began to dance. She later admitted that she liked dance class, but was otherwise a poor student. Denny Jackson at IMDb: "Life was hard for her family, and Lupe returned to Mexico to help them out financially. She worked as a salesgirl for a department store for the princely sum of $4 a week. Every week she would turn most of her salary over to her mother, but kept a little for herself so she could take dancing lessons. By now, she figured, with her mature shape and grand personality, she thought she could make a try at show business." She began her career as a performer in Mexican vaudeville in 1924. She initially performed under her paternal surname, but after her father returned home from the war, he was outraged that his daughter had decided to become a stage performer. She chose her maternal surname, "VĂ©lez", as her stage name and her mother introduced VĂ©lez and her sister Josefina to the popular Spanish Mexican vedette MarĂ­a Conesa, "La Gatita Blanca". VĂ©lez debuted in a show led by Conesa, where she sang 'Oh Charley, My Boy' and danced the shimmy. Aurelio Campos, a young pianist, and friend of the VĂ©lez sisters recommended Lupe to stage producers, Carlos Ortega and Manuel Castro. Ortega and Castro were preparing a season revue at the Regis Theatre and hired VĂ©lez to join the company in March 1925. Later that year, VĂ©lez starred in the revues 'Mexican Rataplan' and 'ÂĄNo lo tapes!', both parodies of the Bataclan's shows in Paris. Her suggestive singing and provocative dancing was a hit with audiences, and she soon established herself as one of the main stars of vaudeville in Mexico. After a year and a half, VĂ©lez left the revue after the manager refused to give her a raise. She then joined the Teatro Principal but was fired after three months due to her "feisty attitude". VĂ©lez was quickly hired by the Teatro Lirico, where her salary rose to 100 pesos a day. In 1926, Frank A. Woodyard, an American who had seen VĂ©lez perform, recommended her to stage director Richard Bennett, the father of actresses Joan and Constance Bennett. Bennett was looking for an actress to portray a Mexican cantina singer in his upcoming play 'The Dove'. He sent VĂ©lez a telegram inviting her to Los Angeles to appear in the play. VĂ©lez had been planning to go to Cuba to perform, but quickly changed her plans and traveled to Los Angeles. However, upon arrival, she discovered that she had been replaced by another actress.

 

While in Los Angeles, Lupe VĂ©lez met the comedian Fanny Brice. Brice recommended her to Flo Ziegfeld, who hired her to perform in New York City. While VĂ©lez was preparing to leave Los Angeles, she received a call from MGM producer Harry Rapf, who offered her a screen test. Producer and director Hal Roach saw VĂ©lez's screen test and hired her for a small role in the comic Laurel and Hardy short Sailors, Beware! (Fred Guiol, Hal Yates, 1927). After her debut, VĂ©lez appeared in another Hal Roach short, What Women Did for Me (James Parrott, 1927), opposite Charley Chase. Later that year, she did a screen test for the upcoming Douglas Fairbanks feature The Gaucho (F. Richard Jones, 1927). Fairbanks was impressed by VĂ©lez and hired her to appear in the film with him. The Gaucho was a hit and critics were duly impressed with VĂ©lez's ability to hold her own alongside Fairbanks, who was well known for his spirited acting and impressive stunts. Her second major film was Stand and Deliver (Donald Crisp, 1928), produced by Cecil B. DeMille. That same year, she was named one of the WAMPAS Baby Stars. Then she appeared in Lady of the Pavements (1929), directed by D. W. Griffith, and Where East Is East (Tod Browning, 1929), starring Lon Chaney as an animal trapper in Laos. In the Western The Wolf Song (Victor Fleming, 1929), she appeared alongside Gary Cooper. As she was regularly cast as 'exotic' or 'ethnic' women that were volatile and hot-tempered, gossip columnists took to referring to VĂ©lez as "Mexican Hurricane", "The Mexican Wildcat", "The Mexican Madcap", "Whoopee Lupe" and "The Hot Tamale". Lupe VĂ©lez made the transition to sound films without difficulty. Studio executives had predicted that her accent would likely hamper her ability to make the transition. That idea was dispelled after she appeared in the all-talking Rin Tin Tin vehicle, Tiger Rose (George Fitzmaurice, 1929). The film was a hit and VĂ©lez's sound career was established. VĂ©lez appeared in a series of Pre-Code films like Hell Harbor (Henry King, 1930), The Storm (William Wyler, 1930), and the crime drama East Is West (Monta Bell, 1930) opposite Edward G. Robinson. The next year, she appeared in her second film for Cecil B. DeMille, Squaw Man (Cecil B. DeMille, 1931), opposite Warner Baxter, in Resurrection (Edwin Carewe, 1931), and The Cuban Love Song (W.S. Van Dyke, 1931), with the popular singer Lawrence Tibbett. She had a supporting role in Kongo (William J. Cowen, 1932) with Walter Huston, a sound remake of West of Zanzibar (Tod Browning, 1928) which tries to outdo the Lon Chaney original in morbidity. She also starred in Spanish-language versions of Universal films like ResurrecciĂłn (Eduardo Arozamena, David Selman, 1931), the Spanish version of Resurrection (1931), and Hombres en mi vida (Eduardo Arozamena, David Selman, 1932), the Spanish version of Men in Her Life (William Beaudine, 1931) in which Lois Moran had starred.

 

In 1932, Lupe VĂ©lez took a break from her film career and traveled to New York City where she was signed by Broadway impresario Florenz Ziegfeld, Jr. to take over the role of "Conchita" in the musical revue 'Hot-Cha!'. The show also starred Bert Lahr, Eleanor Powell, and Buddy Rogers. Back in Hollywood, Lupe switched to comedy after playing dramatic roles for five years. Denny Jackson at IMDb: "In 1933 she played the lead role of Pepper in Hot Pepper (1933). This film showcased her comedic talents and helped her to show the world her vital personality. She was delightful." After Hot Pepper (John G. Blystone, 1933) with Edmund Lowe and Victor McLaglen, Lupe played beautiful but volatile, characters in a series of successful films like Strictly Dynamite (Elliott Nugent, 1934), Palooka (Benjamin Stoloff, 1934) both opposite Jimmy Durante, and Hollywood Party (Allan Dwan, a.o., 1934) with Laurel and Hardy. Although VĂ©lez was a popular actress, RKO Pictures did not renew her contract in 1934. Over the next few years, VĂ©lez worked for various studios as a freelance actress; she also spent two years in England where she filmed The Morals of Marcus (Miles Mander, 1935) and Gypsy Melody (Edmond T. GrĂ©ville, 1936). She returned to Los Angeles the following year where she appeared in the final part of the Wheeler & Woolsey comedy High Flyers (Edward F. Cline, 1937). In 1938, VĂ©lez made her final appearance on Broadway in the musical You Never Know, by Cole Porter. The show received poor reviews from critics but received a large amount of publicity due to the feud between VĂ©lez and fellow cast member Libby Holman. Holman was irritated by the attention VĂ©lez garnered from the show with her impersonations of several actresses including Gloria Swanson, Katharine Hepburn, and Shirley Temple. The feud came to a head during a performance in New Haven, Connecticut after VĂ©lez punched Holman in between curtain calls and gave her a black eye. The feud effectively ended the show. Upon her return to Mexico City in 1938 to star in her first Mexican film, VĂ©lez was greeted by ten thousand fans. The film La Zandunga (Fernando de Fuentes, 1938) co-starring Arturo de CĂłrdova, was a critical and financial success. VĂ©lez was slated to appear in four more Mexican films, but instead, she returned to Los Angeles and went back to work for RKO Pictures. In 1939, Lupe VĂ©lez was cast opposite Leon Errol and Donald Woods in the B-comedy, The Girl from Mexico (Leslie Goodwins, 1939). Despite being a B film, it was a hit with audiences and RKO re-teamed her with Errol and Wood for a sequel, Mexican Spitfire (Leslie Goodwins, 1940). That film was also a success and led to a series of eight Spitfire films. Wikipedia: "In the series, VĂ©lez portrays Carmelita Lindsay, a temperamental yet friendly Mexican singer married to Dennis 'Denny' Lindsay (Woods), an elegant American gentleman. The Spitfire films rejuvenated VĂ©lez's career. Moreover, they were films in which a Latina headlined for eight films straight –a true rarity." In addition to the Spitfire series, she was cast in such films as Six Lessons from Madame La Zonga (John Rawlins, 1941), Playmates (David Butler, 1941) opposite John Barrymore, and Redhead from Manhattan (Lew Landers, 1943). In 1943, the final film in the Spitfire series, Mexican Spitfire's Blessed Event (Leslie Goodwins, 1943), was released. By that time, the novelty of the series had begun to wane. Velez co-starred with Eddie Albert in the romantic comedy, Ladies' Day (Leslie Goodwins, 1943), about an actress and a baseball player. In 1944, VĂ©lez returned to Mexico to star in an adaptation of Émile Zola's novel Nana (Roberto GavaldĂłn, Celestino Gorostiza, 1944), which was well-received. It would be her final film. After filming wrapped, VĂ©lez returned to Los Angeles and began preparing for another stage role in New York.

 

Lupe Vélez's temper and jealousy in her often tempestuous romantic relationships were well documented and became tabloid fodder, often overshadowing her career. Vélez was straightforward with the press and was regularly contacted by gossip columnists for stories about her romantic exploits. Her first long-term relationship was with actor Gary Cooper. Vélez met Cooper while filming The Wolf Song in 1929 and began a two-year affair with him. The relationship was passionate but often stormy. Reportedly Vélez chased Cooper around with a knife during an argument and cut him severely enough to require stitches. By that time, the rocky relationship had taken its toll on Cooper who had lost 45 pounds and was suffering from nervous exhaustion. Paramount Pictures ordered him to take a vacation to recuperate. While he was boarding the train, Vélez showed up at the train station and fired a pistol at him. During her marriage to actor Johnny Weissmuller, stories of their frequent physical fights were regularly reported in the press. Vélez reportedly inflicted scratches, bruises, and love-bites on Weissmuller during their fights and "passionate love-making". In July 1934, after ten months of marriage, Vélez filed for divorce citing cruelty. She withdrew the petition a week later after reconciling with Weissmuller. In January 1935, she filed for divorce a second time and was granted an interlocutory decree that was dismissed when the couple reconciled a month later. In August 1938, Vélez filed for divorce for a third time, again charging Weissmuller with cruelty. Their divorce was finalised in August 1939. After the divorce became final, Vélez began dating actor Guinn "Big Boy" Williams in late 1940. They were reportedly engaged but never married. Vélez was also linked to author Erich Maria Remarque and the boxers Jack Johnson and Jack Dempsey. In 1943, Vélez began an affair with her La Zandunga co-star Arturo de Córdova. De Córdova had recently moved to Hollywood after signing with Paramount Pictures. Despite the fact that de Córdova was married to Mexican actress Enna Arana with whom he had four children, Vélez granted an interview to gossip columnist Louella Parsons in September 1943 and announced that the two were engaged. Vélez ended the engagement in early 1944, reportedly after de Córdova's wife refused to give him a divorce. Vélez then met and began dating a struggling young Austrian actor named Harald Maresch (who went by the stage name Harald Ramond). In September 1944, she discovered she was pregnant with Ramond's child. She announced their engagement in late November 1944. On 10 December, four days before her death, Vélez announced she had ended the engagement and kicked Ramond out of her home. On the evening of 13 December 1944, Vélez dined with her two friends, the silent film star Estelle Taylor and Venita Oakie. In the early morning hours of 14 December, Vélez retired to her bedroom, where she consumed 75 Seconal pills and a glass of brandy. Her secretary, Beulah Kinder, found the actress's body on her bed later that morning. A suicide note addressed to Harald Ramond was found nearby. Lupe Vélez was only 36 years old. More than four-thousand people filed past her casket during her funeral. Her body was interred in Mexico City, at Panteón Civil de Dolores Cemetery. Velez' estate, valued at $125,000 and consisting mostly of her Rodeo House home, two cars, jewelry, and personal effects were left to her secretary Beulah Kinder with the remainder in trust for her mother, Mrs. Josephine Velez. Together with Dolores del Rio, Ramon Novarro, and José Mojica, she was one of the few Mexican people who had made history in the early years of Hollywood.

 

Sources: Denny Jackson (IMDb), Wikipedia, and IMDb.

 

And, please check out our blog European Film Star Postcards.

German postcard by Ross Verlag, Berlin, no. 1873/1, 1927-1928. Photo: First National.

 

Corinne Griffith (1894–1979) was an American film actress, producer, and author. Dubbed The Orchid Lady of the Screen, she was one of the most popular film actresses of the 1920s and widely considered the most beautiful actress of the silent screen. While she started out at Vitagraph in 1916, she became a very popular actress at First National Pictures.

 

Corinne Griffith was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance in Frank Lloyd's The Divine Lady, a 1929 American Vitaphone sound film with a synchronized musical score, sound effects, and some synchronized singing, but no spoken dialogue. Griffith played the female lead of Lady Hamilton, opposite Victor Varconi as Horatio Nelson. When sound film set in, Griffith stopped acting and became a successful writer and businesswoman.

 

Sources: Wikipedia and IMDb.

 

And, please check out our blog European Film Star Postcards.

Vintage postcard, no. 354. Photo: Warner Bros.

 

American actress and dancer Virginia Mayo (1920-2005) is best known for her series of film comedies with Danny Kaye, including Wonder Man (H. Bruce Humberstone, 1945), The Kid from Brooklyn (Norman Z. McLeod, 1946), and The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (Norman Z. McLeod, 1947). The popular actress personified the dream girl or girl-next-door and audiences—particularly males—flocked to theatres just to see her blonde hair and classic looks on-screen in Technicolor. It made Mayo Warner Brothers biggest box office money maker in the late 1940s. Going against stereotype, Mayo accepted the supporting role of unsympathetic gold-digger Marie Derry in the Oscar winning drama The Best Years of Our Lives (William Wyler, 1946). Her performance drew favourable reviews from critics as the film also became the highest-grossing film in the US since Gone with the Wind. Later she appeared opposite James Cagney in White Heat (Raoul Walsh, 1949), Burt Lancaster in The Flame and the Arrow (Jacques Tourneur, 1950), and Gregory Peck in Captain Horatio Hornblower (Raoul Walsh, 1951). At the zenith of her career, Mayo was seen as the quintessential voluptuous Hollywood beauty: she "looked like a pinup painting come to life".

 

Sources: Wikipedia and IMDb.

French postcard by Europe, no. 650. Photo: Paramount. Lupe Velez in The Wolf Song (Victor Fleming, 1929).

 

Lupe Velez (1908-1944), was one of the first Mexican actresses to succeed in Hollywood. Her nicknames were 'The Mexican Spitfire' and 'Hot Pepper'. She was the leading lady in such silent films as The Gaucho (1927), Lady of the Pavements (1928), and Wolf Song (1929). During the 1930s, her well-known explosive screen persona was exploited in a series of successful films like Hot Pepper (1933), Strictly Dynamite (1934), and Hollywood Party (1934). In the 1940s, VĂ©lez's popularity peaked after appearing in the Mexican Spitfire films, a series created to capitalise on VĂ©lez's well-documented fiery personality. She had several highly publicised romances and a stormy marriage. In 1944, VĂ©lez died of an intentional overdose of the barbiturate drug Seconal. Her death and the circumstances surrounding it have been the subject of speculation and controversy.

 

Lupe VĂ©lez was born MarĂ­a Guadalupe Villalobos VĂ©lez in 1908 in the city of San Luis PotosĂ­ in Mexico. She was the daughter of Jacobo Villalobos Reyes, a colonel in the army of the dictator Porfirio Diaz, and his wife Josefina VĂ©lez, an opera singer according to some sources, or vaudeville singer according to others. She had three sisters: Mercedes, Reina and Josefina, and a brother, Emigdio. The family was financially comfortable and lived in a large home. At the age of 13, her parents sent her to study at Our Lady of the Lake (now Our Lady of the Lake University) in San Antonio, Texas. It was at Our Lady of the Lake that VĂ©lez learned to speak English and began to dance. She later admitted that she liked dance class, but was otherwise a poor student. Denny Jackson at IMDb: "Life was hard for her family, and Lupe returned to Mexico to help them out financially. She worked as a salesgirl for a department store for the princely sum of $4 a week. Every week she would turn most of her salary over to her mother, but kept a little for herself so she could take dancing lessons. By now, she figured, with her mature shape and grand personality, she thought she could make a try at show business." She began her career as a performer in Mexican vaudeville in 1924. She initially performed under her paternal surname, but after her father returned home from the war, he was outraged that his daughter had decided to become a stage performer. She chose her maternal surname, "VĂ©lez", as her stage name and her mother introduced VĂ©lez and her sister Josefina to the popular Spanish Mexican vedette MarĂ­a Conesa, "La Gatita Blanca". VĂ©lez debuted in a show led by Conesa, where she sang 'Oh Charley, My Boy' and danced the shimmy. Aurelio Campos, a young pianist, and friend of the VĂ©lez sisters recommended Lupe to stage producers, Carlos Ortega and Manuel Castro. Ortega and Castro were preparing a season revue at the Regis Theatre and hired VĂ©lez to join the company in March 1925. Later that year, VĂ©lez starred in the revues 'Mexican Rataplan' and 'ÂĄNo lo tapes!', both parodies of the Bataclan's shows in Paris. Her suggestive singing and provocative dancing was a hit with audiences, and she soon established herself as one of the main stars of vaudeville in Mexico. After a year and a half, VĂ©lez left the revue after the manager refused to give her a raise. She then joined the Teatro Principal but was fired after three months due to her "feisty attitude". VĂ©lez was quickly hired by the Teatro Lirico, where her salary rose to 100 pesos a day. In 1926, Frank A. Woodyard, an American who had seen VĂ©lez perform, recommended her to stage director Richard Bennett, the father of actresses Joan and Constance Bennett. Bennett was looking for an actress to portray a Mexican cantina singer in his upcoming play 'The Dove'. He sent VĂ©lez a telegram inviting her to Los Angeles to appear in the play. VĂ©lez had been planning to go to Cuba to perform, but quickly changed her plans and traveled to Los Angeles. However, upon arrival, she discovered that she had been replaced by another actress.

 

While in Los Angeles, Lupe VĂ©lez met the comedian Fanny Brice. Brice recommended her to Flo Ziegfeld, who hired her to perform in New York City. While VĂ©lez was preparing to leave Los Angeles, she received a call from MGM producer Harry Rapf, who offered her a screen test. Producer and director Hal Roach saw VĂ©lez's screen test and hired her for a small role in the comic Laurel and Hardy short Sailors, Beware! (Fred Guiol, Hal Yates, 1927). After her debut, VĂ©lez appeared in another Hal Roach short, What Women Did for Me (James Parrott, 1927), opposite Charley Chase. Later that year, she did a screen test for the upcoming Douglas Fairbanks feature The Gaucho (F. Richard Jones, 1927). Fairbanks was impressed by VĂ©lez and hired her to appear in the film with him. The Gaucho was a hit and critics were duly impressed with VĂ©lez's ability to hold her own alongside Fairbanks, who was well known for his spirited acting and impressive stunts. Her second major film was Stand and Deliver (Donald Crisp, 1928), produced by Cecil B. DeMille. That same year, she was named one of the WAMPAS Baby Stars. Then she appeared in Lady of the Pavements (1929), directed by D. W. Griffith, and Where East Is East (Tod Browning, 1929), starring Lon Chaney as an animal trapper in Laos. In the Western The Wolf Song (Victor Fleming, 1929), she appeared alongside Gary Cooper. As she was regularly cast as 'exotic' or 'ethnic' women that were volatile and hot-tempered, gossip columnists took to referring to VĂ©lez as "Mexican Hurricane", "The Mexican Wildcat", "The Mexican Madcap", "Whoopee Lupe" and "The Hot Tamale". Lupe VĂ©lez made the transition to sound films without difficulty. Studio executives had predicted that her accent would likely hamper her ability to make the transition. That idea was dispelled after she appeared in the all-talking Rin Tin Tin vehicle, Tiger Rose (George Fitzmaurice, 1929). The film was a hit and VĂ©lez's sound career was established. VĂ©lez appeared in a series of Pre-Code films like Hell Harbor (Henry King, 1930), The Storm (William Wyler, 1930), and the crime drama East Is West (Monta Bell, 1930) opposite Edward G. Robinson. The next year, she appeared in her second film for Cecil B. DeMille, Squaw Man (Cecil B. DeMille, 1931), opposite Warner Baxter, in Resurrection (Edwin Carewe, 1931), and The Cuban Love Song (W.S. Van Dyke, 1931), with the popular singer Lawrence Tibbett. She had a supporting role in Kongo (William J. Cowen, 1932) with Walter Huston, a sound remake of West of Zanzibar (Tod Browning, 1928) which tries to outdo the Lon Chaney original in morbidity. She also starred in Spanish-language versions of Universal films like ResurrecciĂłn (Eduardo Arozamena, David Selman, 1931), the Spanish version of Resurrection (1931), and Hombres en mi vida (Eduardo Arozamena, David Selman, 1932), the Spanish version of Men in Her Life (William Beaudine, 1931) in which Lois Moran had starred.

 

In 1932, Lupe VĂ©lez took a break from her film career and traveled to New York City where she was signed by Broadway impresario Florenz Ziegfeld, Jr. to take over the role of "Conchita" in the musical revue 'Hot-Cha!'. The show also starred Bert Lahr, Eleanor Powell, and Buddy Rogers. Back in Hollywood, Lupe switched to comedy after playing dramatic roles for five years. Denny Jackson at IMDb: "In 1933 she played the lead role of Pepper in Hot Pepper (1933). This film showcased her comedic talents and helped her to show the world her vital personality. She was delightful." After Hot Pepper (John G. Blystone, 1933) with Edmund Lowe and Victor McLaglen, Lupe played beautiful but volatile, characters in a series of successful films like Strictly Dynamite (Elliott Nugent, 1934), Palooka (Benjamin Stoloff, 1934) both opposite Jimmy Durante, and Hollywood Party (Allan Dwan, a.o., 1934) with Laurel and Hardy. Although VĂ©lez was a popular actress, RKO Pictures did not renew her contract in 1934. Over the next few years, VĂ©lez worked for various studios as a freelance actress; she also spent two years in England where she filmed The Morals of Marcus (Miles Mander, 1935) and Gypsy Melody (Edmond T. GrĂ©ville, 1936). She returned to Los Angeles the following year where she appeared in the final part of the Wheeler & Woolsey comedy High Flyers (Edward F. Cline, 1937). In 1938, VĂ©lez made her final appearance on Broadway in the musical You Never Know, by Cole Porter. The show received poor reviews from critics but received a large amount of publicity due to the feud between VĂ©lez and fellow cast member Libby Holman. Holman was irritated by the attention VĂ©lez garnered from the show with her impersonations of several actresses including Gloria Swanson, Katharine Hepburn, and Shirley Temple. The feud came to a head during a performance in New Haven, Connecticut after VĂ©lez punched Holman in between curtain calls and gave her a black eye. The feud effectively ended the show. Upon her return to Mexico City in 1938 to star in her first Mexican film, VĂ©lez was greeted by ten thousand fans. The film La Zandunga (Fernando de Fuentes, 1938) co-starring Arturo de CĂłrdova, was a critical and financial success. VĂ©lez was slated to appear in four more Mexican films, but instead, she returned to Los Angeles and went back to work for RKO Pictures. In 1939, Lupe VĂ©lez was cast opposite Leon Errol and Donald Woods in the B-comedy, The Girl from Mexico (Leslie Goodwins, 1939). Despite being a B film, it was a hit with audiences and RKO re-teamed her with Errol and Wood for a sequel, Mexican Spitfire (Leslie Goodwins, 1940). That film was also a success and led to a series of eight Spitfire films. Wikipedia: "In the series, VĂ©lez portrays Carmelita Lindsay, a temperamental yet friendly Mexican singer married to Dennis 'Denny' Lindsay (Woods), an elegant American gentleman. The Spitfire films rejuvenated VĂ©lez's career. Moreover, they were films in which a Latina headlined for eight films straight –a true rarity." In addition to the Spitfire series, she was cast in such films as Six Lessons from Madame La Zonga (John Rawlins, 1941), Playmates (David Butler, 1941) opposite John Barrymore, and Redhead from Manhattan (Lew Landers, 1943). In 1943, the final film in the Spitfire series, Mexican Spitfire's Blessed Event (Leslie Goodwins, 1943), was released. By that time, the novelty of the series had begun to wane. Velez co-starred with Eddie Albert in the romantic comedy, Ladies' Day (Leslie Goodwins, 1943), about an actress and a baseball player. In 1944, VĂ©lez returned to Mexico to star in an adaptation of Émile Zola's novel Nana (Roberto GavaldĂłn, Celestino Gorostiza, 1944), which was well-received. It would be her final film. After filming wrapped, VĂ©lez returned to Los Angeles and began preparing for another stage role in New York.

 

Lupe Vélez's temper and jealousy in her often tempestuous romantic relationships were well documented and became tabloid fodder, often overshadowing her career. Vélez was straightforward with the press and was regularly contacted by gossip columnists for stories about her romantic exploits. Her first long-term relationship was with actor Gary Cooper. Vélez met Cooper while filming The Wolf Song in 1929 and began a two-year affair with him. The relationship was passionate but often stormy. Reportedly Vélez chased Cooper around with a knife during an argument and cut him severely enough to require stitches. By that time, the rocky relationship had taken its toll on Cooper who had lost 45 pounds and was suffering from nervous exhaustion. Paramount Pictures ordered him to take a vacation to recuperate. While he was boarding the train, Vélez showed up at the train station and fired a pistol at him. During her marriage to actor Johnny Weissmuller, stories of their frequent physical fights were regularly reported in the press. Vélez reportedly inflicted scratches, bruises, and love-bites on Weissmuller during their fights and "passionate love-making". In July 1934, after ten months of marriage, Vélez filed for divorce citing cruelty. She withdrew the petition a week later after reconciling with Weissmuller. In January 1935, she filed for divorce a second time and was granted an interlocutory decree that was dismissed when the couple reconciled a month later. In August 1938, Vélez filed for divorce for a third time, again charging Weissmuller with cruelty. Their divorce was finalised in August 1939. After the divorce became final, Vélez began dating actor Guinn "Big Boy" Williams in late 1940. They were reportedly engaged but never married. Vélez was also linked to author Erich Maria Remarque and the boxers Jack Johnson and Jack Dempsey. In 1943, Vélez began an affair with her La Zandunga co-star Arturo de Córdova. De Córdova had recently moved to Hollywood after signing with Paramount Pictures. Despite the fact that de Córdova was married to Mexican actress Enna Arana with whom he had four children, Vélez granted an interview to gossip columnist Louella Parsons in September 1943 and announced that the two were engaged. Vélez ended the engagement in early 1944, reportedly after de Córdova's wife refused to give him a divorce. Vélez then met and began dating a struggling young Austrian actor named Harald Maresch (who went by the stage name Harald Ramond). In September 1944, she discovered she was pregnant with Ramond's child. She announced their engagement in late November 1944. On 10 December, four days before her death, Vélez announced she had ended the engagement and kicked Ramond out of her home. On the evening of 13 December 1944, Vélez dined with her two friends, the silent film star Estelle Taylor and Venita Oakie. In the early morning hours of 14 December, Vélez retired to her bedroom, where she consumed 75 Seconal pills and a glass of brandy. Her secretary, Beulah Kinder, found the actress's body on her bed later that morning. A suicide note addressed to Harald Ramond was found nearby. Lupe Vélez was only 36 years old. More than four-thousand people filed past her casket during her funeral. Her body was interred in Mexico City, at Panteón Civil de Dolores Cemetery. Velez' estate, valued at $125,000 and consisting mostly of her Rodeo House home, two cars, jewelry, and personal effects were left to her secretary Beulah Kinder with the remainder in trust for her mother, Mrs. Josephine Velez. Together with Dolores del Rio, Ramon Novarro, and José Mojica, she was one of the few Mexican people who had made history in the early years of Hollywood.

 

Sources: Denny Jackson (IMDb), Wikipedia, and IMDb.

 

And, please check out our blog European Film Star Postcards.

Czech postcard, no. 53. Photo: Willy Ströminger, Praha.

 

Anny Ondra (1903-1987) was a Polish-Czech-Austrian-German-French singer, film, and stage actress. During the 1920s and 1930s, she was a popular actress in Czech, Austrian and German comedies, and she was Alfred Hitchcock’s first ‘Blonde’.

 

Karel Lamač (1897-1952), aka Karl Lamac, Carl Lamac, and Carl Lamač, was a Czech actor and filmmaker, famous for the many comedies he directed and co-acted in with Czech actress Anny Ondra.

 

And, please check out our blog European Film Star Postcards.

Italian postcard by Ed. A Traldi, Milano, no. 502. Photo: Badodi.

 

Charming and elegant Vera Vergani (1894-1989) was primarily an Italian stage actress, famous for her interpretations in the first stagings of Pirandello’s plays. She became one of the popular divas of the Italian cinema when she appeared in a dozen silent films between 1917 and 1921 for directors like Augusto Genina and Roberto Roberti.

 

Vera Vergani was born in Milan in 1894 She was the granddaughter of puppet master Vittorio Podrecca and sister of journalist and stage write Orio Vergani. She debuted on stage in 1912 at the Benini company. Two years later she joined the Talli-Melato-Giovannini company and in 1916 she became the ‘primattrice’ (leading lady) in the company of the famous actor Ruggero Ruggeri. She was only 21 at the time. She played Ophelia in William Shakespeare’s Hamlet and had a huge success with the title role in Gabriele D’Anunzio’s 'La Figlia di Jorio' (The Daughter of Jorio). She would play that role again and again. In 1916 film producer Giovanni Xilo managed to lure the popular actress to work for his Monopol-Rome Film. He hoped to add prestige to his productions with big names of the stage. Producers had done so earlier with Lyda Borelli and Ermete Zacconi. When her stage company was at rest in the summertime, Vergani played in two films for which Augusto Genina had written the original scripts: Il presagio/The Presentiment (Augusto Genina, 1916) and La menzogna/The Lie (Augusto Genina, 1916) with Tullio Carminati and Oreste Bilancia. They were produced at the same time, using the same cast and crew, at the Cines film studio, which was rented for the occasion. As the publicity indicates, Il presagio was "the drama of a beautiful woman who seems to be born for the joy of the eyes and for love, but instead meets futile caprice and tragic passion". La menzogna is "the violent story of a woman ready to sacrifice her honour to save her husband, but justice protects the good ones and will prevail in the end". The film did not have very good reception and Vergani was accused of betraying the theatre. "It is a night without a moonbeam", one critic wrote, and Vera didn’t want to know about film anymore for several years. On stage, she was very successful again with both critics and audiences in plays by Luigi Pirandello and Gabriele D'Annunzio. In the 1910s and 1920s, she remained foremost a stage actress, appreciated not only for her beauty and elegance but also for her excellent interpretations.

 

In 1919, Vera Vergani returned to the screen. Giuseppe Barattolo, the producer at Caesar Film, offered her to play in three films based on famous stage plays Dora o le spie/Dora or the spies (Robert Roberti, 1919) written by Victorien Sardou, La paura d'amare/Fear of love (Robert Roberti, 1920) by Dario Niccodemi, and Giulia di TrĂ©coeur/Lucie de Trecoeur (Camillo De Riso, Augusto Genina, 1921) by Octave Feuillet. Robert Roberti had made his career as the director of films with diva Francesca Bertini. The critics didn’t like his direction too much but were full of praise for Vera’s lively interpretation of the dramas, along with her style of performance on stage. Another film based on a play by Niccodemi followed, L'envolĂ©e/La volata/The sprint (1919). Vera is dressed in the film as a daring aviator, "flaming expression of the new" as one critic wrote, who also noted in the aviation "the clearest emergence of these times". The actress also played in the film La modella/The model (Mario Caserini, 1920) based on a comedy by Alfredo Testoni, La buona figliola/The good daughter (Mario Caserini, 1919) based on Sabatino Lopez, Fior d'amore/Flower of love (Mario Caserini, 1921) again based on Niccodemi, and Caterina (Mario Caserini, 1921) written by Henri Lavedan. Her co-star in these films was Nerio Bernardi. She often repeated on screen, of which by now she knew all the odds and outs, her previous stage performances. But after La Vittima/The Victim (Jacques Creusy, 1921), a neglectable tearjerker, she returned to the stage for good.

 

During the fundamental years of her stage career, Vera Vergani played for the company of Dario Niccodemi. From 1921 on, she was the company's ‘primattrice’ for nine seasons. Her regular male co-star was Luigi Cimara. Memorable from these years were her performances in the first stagings of Luigi Pirandello’s plays 'Sei personaggi in cerca d'autore'(Six Characters in Search of an Author) (1921) and 'Ciascuno a suo modo' (Each on His Own Way) (1924). After the world premiere of 'Sei personaggi in cerca d'autore', hundreds of people flooded the stage and yelled violently at the author. The public, accustomed to the conventional theatre did not accept the avant-garde text. Pirandello had to barricade himself in Vergani’s dressing room. The beautiful actress suddenly stepped forward, made a silencing gesture to the raging crowd, and declared smiling sweetly: “Prima di toccare Pirandello dovete passare sul mio cadavere.“ (Before you touch Pirandello, you will have to pass my dead body). Pirandello survived and nowadays his play is considered a classic of the Italian theatre. Vittorio Paliotti writes at the website L’Isola that Vergani's photos graced the covers of European magazines and that she received an ‘avalanche’ with love letters from all over the world. Before her performances, her dressing rooms were transformed into greenhouses. The fascinating and elegant actress retired in 1930, after a last performance at the Teatro Manzoni in Milan. She starred once more in the play which had contributed to her fortune: 'La figlia di Iorio' by Gabriele D'Annunzio. The reason for her retirement was her marriage with Leonardo Pescarolo, a naval officer from the island of Procida. They had two children: assistant director Vera Pescarolo, who would become the wife of film director Giuliano Montaldo, and film producer Leo Pescarolo. Vera Vergano returned once to the cinema. In 1965 she appeared in a small role in Il morbidone/The Dreamer (Massimo Franciosa, 1965) with Anouk AimĂ©e. Vera Vergani died in Procida in 1989. Her granddaughter and great-grandchildren are also working in the film business: costume designer Elisabetta Montaldo, assistant director Inti Carboni and makeup designer Jana Carboni.

 

Sources: Vittoro Martinelli (Le dive del silenzio) (Italian), Vittorio Paliotti (L’Isola) (Italian), Procidamia (Italian) and IMDb.

 

And, please check out our blog European Film Star Postcards.

Dutch postcard by JosPe, Arnhem, no. 319. Photo: MGM.

 

Lupe Velez (1908-1944), was one of the first Mexican actresses to succeed in Hollywood. Her nicknames were 'The Mexican Spitfire' and 'Hot Pepper'. She was the leading lady in such silent films as The Gaucho (1927), Lady of the Pavements (1928), and Wolf Song (1929). During the 1930s, her well-known explosive screen persona was exploited in a series of successful films like Hot Pepper (1933), Strictly Dynamite (1934), and Hollywood Party (1934). In the 1940s, VĂ©lez's popularity peaked after appearing in the Mexican Spitfire films, a series created to capitalise on VĂ©lez's well-documented fiery personality. She had several highly publicised romances and a stormy marriage. In 1944, VĂ©lez died of an intentional overdose of the barbiturate drug Seconal. Her death and the circumstances surrounding it have been the subject of speculation and controversy.

 

Lupe VĂ©lez was born MarĂ­a Guadalupe Villalobos VĂ©lez in 1908 in the city of San Luis PotosĂ­ in Mexico. She was the daughter of Jacobo Villalobos Reyes, a colonel in the army of the dictator Porfirio Diaz, and his wife Josefina VĂ©lez, an opera singer according to some sources, or vaudeville singer according to others. She had three sisters: Mercedes, Reina and Josefina and a brother, Emigdio. The family was financially comfortable and lived in a large home. At the age of 13, her parents sent her to study at Our Lady of the Lake (now Our Lady of the Lake University) in San Antonio, Texas. It was at Our Lady of the Lake that VĂ©lez learned to speak English and began to dance. She later admitted that she liked dance class, but was otherwise a poor student. Denny Jackson at IMDb: "Life was hard for her family, and Lupe returned to Mexico to help them out financially. She worked as a salesgirl for a department store for the princely sum of $4 a week. Every week she would turn most of her salary over to her mother, but kept a little for herself so she could take dancing lessons. By now, she figured, with her mature shape and grand personality, she thought she could make a try at show business." She began her career as a performer in Mexican vaudeville in 1924. She initially performed under her paternal surname, but after her father returned home from the war, he was outraged that his daughter had decided to become a stage performer. She chose her maternal surname, "VĂ©lez", as her stage name and her mother introduced VĂ©lez and her sister Josefina to the popular Spanish Mexican vedette MarĂ­a Conesa, "La Gatita Blanca". VĂ©lez debuted in a show led by Conesa, where she sang 'Oh Charley, My Boy' and danced the shimmy. Aurelio Campos, a young pianist, and friend of the VĂ©lez sisters, recommended Lupe to stage producers Carlos Ortega and Manuel Castro. Ortega and Castro were preparing a season revue at the Regis Theatre and hired VĂ©lez to join the company in March 1925. Later that year, VĂ©lez starred in the revues 'Mexican Rataplan' and 'ÂĄNo lo tapes!', both parodies of the Bataclan's shows in Paris. Her suggestive singing and provocative dancing was a hit with audiences, and she soon established herself as one of the main stars of vaudeville in Mexico. After a year and a half, VĂ©lez left the revue after the manager refused to give her a raise. She then joined the Teatro Principal, but was fired after three months due to her "feisty attitude". VĂ©lez was quickly hired by the Teatro Lirico, where her salary rose to 100 pesos a day. In 1926, Frank A. Woodyard, an American who had seen VĂ©lez perform, recommended her to stage director Richard Bennett, the father of actresses Joan and Constance Bennett. Bennett was looking for an actress to portray a Mexican cantina singer in his upcoming play 'The Dove'. He sent VĂ©lez a telegram inviting her to Los Angeles to appear in the play. VĂ©lez had been planning to go to Cuba to perform, but quickly changed her plans and traveled to Los Angeles. However, upon arrival, she discovered that she had been replaced by another actress.

 

While in Los Angeles, Lupe VĂ©lez met the comedian Fanny Brice. Brice recommended her to Flo Ziegfeld, who hired her to perform in New York City. While VĂ©lez was preparing to leave Los Angeles, she received a call from MGM producer Harry Rapf, who offered her a screen test. Producer and director Hal Roach saw VĂ©lez's screen test and hired her for a small role in the comic Laurel and Hardy short Sailors, Beware! (Fred Guiol, Hal Yates, 1927). After her debut, VĂ©lez appeared in another Hal Roach short, What Women Did for Me (James Parrott, 1927), opposite Charley Chase. Later that year, she did a screen test for the upcoming Douglas Fairbanks feature The Gaucho (F. Richard Jones, 1927). Fairbanks was impressed by VĂ©lez and hired her to appear in the film with him. The Gaucho was a hit and critics were duly impressed with VĂ©lez's ability to hold her own alongside Fairbanks, who was well known for his spirited acting and impressive stunts. Her second major film was Stand and Deliver (Donald Crisp, 1928), produced by Cecil B. DeMille. That same year, she was named one of the WAMPAS Baby Stars. Then she appeared in Lady of the Pavements (1929), directed by D. W. Griffith, and Where East Is East (Tod Browning, 1929), starring Lon Chaney as an animal trapper in Laos. In the Western The Wolf Song (Victor Fleming, 1929), she appeared alongside Gary Cooper. As she was regularly cast as 'exotic' or 'ethnic' women that were volatile and hot-tempered, gossip columnists took to referring to VĂ©lez as "Mexican Hurricane", "The Mexican Wildcat", "The Mexican Madcap", "Whoopee Lupe" and "The Hot Tamale". Lupe VĂ©lez made the transition to sound films without difficulty. Studio executives had predicted that her accent would likely hamper her ability to make the transition. That idea was dispelled after she appeared in the all-talking Rin Tin Tin vehicle, Tiger Rose (George Fitzmaurice, 1929). The film was a hit and VĂ©lez's sound career was established. VĂ©lez appeared in a series of Pre-Code films like Hell Harbor (Henry King, 1930), The Storm (William Wyler, 1930), and the crime drama East Is West (Monta Bell, 1930) opposite Edward G. Robinson. The next year, she appeared in her second film for Cecil B. DeMille, Squaw Man (Cecil B. DeMille, 1931), opposite Warner Baxter, in Resurrection (Edwin Carewe, 1931), and The Cuban Love Song (W.S. Van Dyke, 1931), with the popular singer Lawrence Tibbett. She had a supporting role in Kongo (William J. Cowen, 1932) with Walter Huston, a sound remake of West of Zanzibar (Tod Browning, 1928) which tries to outdo the Lon Chaney original in morbidity. She also starred in Spanish-language versions of Universal films like ResurrecciĂłn (Eduardo Arozamena, David Selman, 1931), the Spanish version of Resurrection (1931), and Hombres en mi vida (Eduardo Arozamena, David Selman, 1932), the Spanish version of Men in Her Life (William Beaudine, 1931) in which Lois Moran had starred.

 

In 1932, Lupe VĂ©lez took a break from her film career and traveled to New York City where she was signed by Broadway impresario Florenz Ziegfeld, Jr. to take over the role of "Conchita" in the musical revue 'Hot-Cha!'. The show also starred Bert Lahr, Eleanor Powell, and Buddy Rogers. Back in Hollywood, Lupe switched to comedy after playing dramatic roles for five years. Denny Jackson at IMDb: "In 1933 she played the lead role of Pepper in Hot Pepper (1933). This film showcased her comedic talents and helped her to show the world her vital personality. She was delightful." After Hot Pepper (John G. Blystone, 1933) with Edmund Lowe and Victor McLaglen, Lupe played beautiful but volatile, characters in a series of successful films like Strictly Dynamite (Elliott Nugent, 1934), Palooka (Benjamin Stoloff, 1934) both opposite Jimmy Durante, and Hollywood Party (Allan Dwan, a.o., 1934) with Laurel and Hardy. Although VĂ©lez was a popular actress, RKO Pictures did not renew her contract in 1934. Over the next few years, VĂ©lez worked for various studios as a freelance actress; she also spent two years in England where she filmed The Morals of Marcus (Miles Mander, 1935) and Gypsy Melody (Edmond T. GrĂ©ville, 1936). She returned to Los Angeles the following year where she appeared in the final part of the Wheeler & Woolsey comedy High Flyers (Edward F. Cline, 1937). In 1938, VĂ©lez made her final appearance on Broadway in the musical You Never Know, by Cole Porter. The show received poor reviews from critics but received a large amount of publicity due to the feud between VĂ©lez and fellow cast member Libby Holman. Holman was irritated by the attention VĂ©lez garnered from the show with her impersonations of several actresses including Gloria Swanson, Katharine Hepburn, and Shirley Temple. The feud came to a head during a performance in New Haven, Connecticut after VĂ©lez punched Holman in between curtain calls and gave her a black eye. The feud effectively ended the show. Upon her return to Mexico City in 1938 to star in her first Mexican film, VĂ©lez was greeted by ten thousand fans. The film La Zandunga (Fernando de Fuentes, 1938) co-starring Arturo de CĂłrdova, was a critical and financial success. VĂ©lez was slated to appear in four more Mexican films, but instead, she returned to Los Angeles and went back to work for RKO Pictures. In 1939, Lupe VĂ©lez was cast opposite Leon Errol and Donald Woods in the B-comedy, The Girl from Mexico (Leslie Goodwins, 1939). Despite being a B film, it was a hit with audiences and RKO re-teamed her with Errol and Wood for a sequel, Mexican Spitfire (Leslie Goodwins, 1940). That film was also a success and led to a series of eight Spitfire films. Wikipedia: "In the series, VĂ©lez portrays Carmelita Lindsay, a temperamental yet friendly Mexican singer married to Dennis 'Denny' Lindsay (Woods), an elegant American gentleman. The Spitfire films rejuvenated VĂ©lez's career. Moreover, they were films in which a Latina headlined for eight films straight –a true rarity." In addition to the Spitfire series, she was cast in such films as Six Lessons from Madame La Zonga (John Rawlins, 1941), Playmates (David Butler, 1941) opposite John Barrymore, and Redhead from Manhattan (Lew Landers, 1943). In 1943, the final film in the Spitfire series, Mexican Spitfire's Blessed Event (Leslie Goodwins, 1943), was released. By that time, the novelty of the series had begun to wane. Velez co-starred with Eddie Albert in the romantic comedy, Ladies' Day (Leslie Goodwins, 1943), about an actress and a baseball player. In 1944, VĂ©lez returned to Mexico to star in an adaptation of Émile Zola's novel Nana (Roberto GavaldĂłn, Celestino Gorostiza, 1944), which was well-received. It would be her final film. After filming wrapped, VĂ©lez returned to Los Angeles and began preparing for another stage role in New York.

 

Lupe Vélez's temper and jealousy in her often tempestuous romantic relationships were well documented and became tabloid fodder, often overshadowing her career. Vélez was straightforward with the press and was regularly contacted by gossip columnists for stories about her romantic exploits. Her first long-term relationship was with actor Gary Cooper. Vélez met Cooper while filming The Wolf Song in 1929 and began a two-year affair with him. The relationship was passionate but often stormy. Reportedly Vélez chased Cooper around with a knife during an argument and cut him severely enough to require stitches. By that time, the rocky relationship had taken its toll on Cooper who had lost 45 pounds and was suffering from nervous exhaustion. Paramount Pictures ordered him to take a vacation to recuperate. While he was boarding the train, Vélez showed up at the train station and fired a pistol at him. During her marriage to actor Johnny Weissmuller, stories of their frequent physical fights were regularly reported in the press. Vélez reportedly inflicted scratches, bruises, and love-bites on Weissmuller during their fights and "passionate love-making". In July 1934, after ten months of marriage, Vélez filed for divorce citing cruelty. She withdrew the petition a week later after reconciling with Weissmuller. In January 1935, she filed for divorce a second time and was granted an interlocutory decree that was dismissed when the couple reconciled a month later. In August 1938, Vélez filed for divorce for a third time, again charging Weissmuller with cruelty. Their divorce was finalised in August 1939. After the divorce became final, Vélez began dating actor Guinn "Big Boy" Williams in late 1940. They were reportedly engaged but never married. Vélez was also linked to author Erich Maria Remarque and the boxers Jack Johnson and Jack Dempsey. In 1943, Vélez began an affair with her La Zandunga co-star Arturo de Córdova. De Córdova had recently moved to Hollywood after signing with Paramount Pictures. Despite the fact that de Córdova was married to Mexican actress Enna Arana with whom he had four children, Vélez granted an interview to gossip columnist Louella Parsons in September 1943 and announced that the two were engaged. Vélez ended the engagement in early 1944, reportedly after de Córdova's wife refused to give him a divorce. Vélez then met and began dating a struggling young Austrian actor named Harald Maresch (who went by the stage name Harald Ramond). In September 1944, she discovered she was pregnant with Ramond's child. She announced their engagement in late November 1944. On 10 December, four days before her death, Vélez announced she had ended the engagement and kicked Ramond out of her home. On the evening of 13 December 1944, Vélez dined with her two friends, the silent film star Estelle Taylor and Venita Oakie. In the early morning hours of 14 December, Vélez retired to her bedroom, where she consumed 75 Seconal pills and a glass of brandy. Her secretary, Beulah Kinder, found the actress's body on her bed later that morning. A suicide note addressed to Harald Ramond was found nearby. Lupe Vélez was only 36 years old. More than four-thousand people filed past her casket during her funeral. Her body was interred in Mexico City, at Panteón Civil de Dolores Cemetery. Velez' estate, valued at $125,000 and consisting mostly of her Rodeo House home, two cars, jewelry, and personal effects were left to her secretary Beulah Kinder with the remainder in trust for her mother, Mrs. Josephine Velez. Together with Dolores del Rio, Ramon Novarro, and José Mojica, she was one of the few Mexican people who had made history in the early years of Hollywood.

 

Sources: Denny Jackson (IMDb), Wikipedia and IMDb.

 

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Spanish postcard by La Novela Semanal Cinematografica, no. 87.

 

Corinne Griffith (1894–1979) was an American film actress, producer, and author. Dubbed The Orchid Lady of the Screen, she was one of the most popular film actresses of the 1920s and widely considered the most beautiful actress of the silent screen. While she started out at Vitagraph in 1916, she became a very popular actress at First National Pictures. Griffith was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance in Frank Lloyd's The Divine Lady, a 1929 American Vitaphone sound film with a synchronised musical score, sound effects, and some synchronised singing, but no spoken dialogue. Griffith played the female lead of Lady Hamilton, opposite Victor Varconi as Horatio Nelson. When sound film set in, Griffith stopped acting and became a successful writer and businesswoman.

 

Corinne Mae Griffith was born in 1896 in Texarkana, Texas, as the daughter of John Lewis Griffin, a Methodist minister, and Ambolina (Ambolyn) Ghio Griffin. She was educated in the Sacred Heart Convent school in New Orleans and worked as a dancer before she began her acting career. She signed a studio contract with Vitagraph in 1916 and made quite a few films there, e.g. opposite the male lead at Vitagraph then, Earle Williams. By 1920 she had become a well-known film star herself at Vitagraph, known as 'The Orchid Lady of the Screen'. Able to command her salaries, she left Vitagraph for First National Pictures in 1923, where her salaries were raised from 2.500 dollars a week in 1923 to 10.000 a week in 1927. In contrast to her ethereal screen image, Griffith negotiated each of her contracts personally and also personally dealt with the issue of her high salaries. By the mid-1920s, she was considered Hollywood's richest woman next to Mary Pickford. In addition, already at Vitagraph, she could choose from three leading men and three directors. Also, she obtained decent working hours for herself on shooting days, which was uncommon in those years. As Tom Slater writes in his biography on Women Film Pioneers Project, "A great beauty and comic talent, Griffith also played dramatic roles in which her character faced major decisions affecting her life and many others. Altogether, this body of work reveals the centrality and complexity of women’s roles in the post-Victorian consumer society. In The Common Law (1923), Classified (1925), and The Garden of Eden (1928), directed by Lewis Milestone, Griffith must endure male lechery while attempting to earn a living and find romance. In Single Wives (1924), DĂ©classĂ©e (1925), and Three Hours (1927), she played wives involved in traumatic searches for love and meaning due to spousal abuse and neglect. In Black Oxen (1923), Griffith plays a highly unusual character for the twenties, or, indeed, probably any era, a woman who rejects romance for a political career."

 

During her Vitagraph years, Corinne Griffith modestly lived at the Hotel des Artistes, while she would buy a large home when working at First National. Moreover, Slater reveals that in 1926, Griffith paid $185,000 for two properties in downtown Beverly Hills. This property would become the basis for a second career in real estate and a fabulous personal fortune. By consequence, she became the first woman to address the National Realty Board in the early 1950s and campaigned throughout that decade to repeal the federal income tax. At one stage, Griffith owned four complete office buildings in Los Angeles. She was the executive producer of eleven of her films starting with Single Wives (George Archainbaud, 1924) and ending with Three Hours (James Flood, 1927). In 1929, Griffith was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance in Frank Lloyd's The Divine Lady (1929), a historical drama about the lives of Lady Emma Hamilton and Admiral Nelson. This was an American Vitaphone sound film with a synchronised musical score, sound effects, and some synchronised singing, but no spoken dialogue. Griffith played the female lead of Lady Hamilton, opposite Victor Varconi as Horatio Nelson. Anthony Slide argues in 'Silent Players' that The Divine Lady was even more fitted to end the silent film era than F. W. Murnau's masterpiece Sunrise (1928): "it is even better that silent film came to a close with the brilliant romanticism of Corinne Griffith's The Divine Lady, which is exemplary of the best in direction (by Frank Lloyd), scripting (by Agnes Christine Johnston), cinematography (by John Seitz), and above all is dominated by a lyrical performance of its star." Slide's assessment is supported by the fact that The Divine Lady received Oscars for photography and direction. In 1930, Griffith's first real sound film, Lilies of the Field, (Alexander Korda, 1930) with Ralph Forbes, was released. Her voice did not record well and The New York Times stated that she "talked through her nose". The film was a box office flop, as was her next film, Back Pay (William A. Seiter, 1930). First National paid the actress $ 250,000 to terminate her contract with the studio. Griffith made another film in the UK for Paramount-British Lily Christine (Paul L. Stein, 1932) opposite Colin Clive, and in 1935-1936, she did a theatre tour of Noël Coward 's 'Design for Living'. After the tour was finished, she retired from acting.

 

After 1936, Corinne Griffith focused on her real estate and her writing. In the late 1950s, she returned one more time to the screen in the last film by actor-producer-director Hugo Haas, the low-budget social commentary Stars in Your Own Backyard. It was released as Paradise Alley (Hugo Haas, 1961), and at IMDb, the few reviewers are very positive about the film and about Griffith's performance. One of the 13 books she published was her biography: 'Papa's Delicate Condition'. In 1963, the book was filmed as Papa's Delicate Condition (George Marshall, 1963). Griffith was not fond of the film. In the credits, her name was misspelled as "Corrine Griffith". She had unsuccessfully campaigned for Fred Astaire to play her father and was disappointed with the choice of Jackie Gleason. In addition, she wrote the text of 'Hail to the Redskins', the official hymn of the American football team the Washington Redskins, with whose owner George Preston Marshall she was married from 1936 to 1958. She described the experiences around the team in another bestseller, 'My Life with the Redskins'. In the mid-1960s, Griffith's name reappeared in the headlines when she wanted to annul her short-term marriage with the 33-year-younger realtor and former Broadway actor Danny Scholl in court. During the process, she said that she was, in fact, the - at least 20 years younger and long-dead - sister of Corinne Griffith. However, several colleagues from the silent film era, including Lois Wilson, Claire Windsor, and Betty Blythe, were able to prove in the course of the trial that the plaintiff would clearly be the real Corinne Griffith. Griffith pertained until her death she was her sister. Griffith was married four times, first to her frequent co-star Vitagraph actor-director Webster Campbell (1920-1923). Then she married theatre producer Walter Morosco (1924-1934 or 1928-1934), who produced Lewis Milestone's The Garden of Eden, the sole film to come out of their short-lived joint production company Corinne Griffith Productions. Her third husband was George Marshall (1936-1958), founder and longtime owner of the Washington Redskins. At the age of 71, she married realtor and Broadway actor Dan Scholl in 1965. They separated after six weeks and, following a messy and much-publicised court battle, they were divorced. Griffith had no children of her own but had adopted two girls, Pamela and Cynthia. Apart from real estate, she developed as a writer, painter, and composer. When she passed away in 1979, at her mansion in Beverly Hills, Corinne Griffith left behind an estate of about $ 150 million. A star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, 1560 Wine Street, reminds of the actress. Tom Tryon wrote a novella, Fedora, based on Griffith's claim that she had taken the place of the real actress. It was filmed by Billy Wilder as Fedora (1978) starring Hildegard Knef and Marthe Keller.

 

Sources: Anthony Slide (Silent Players), Tom Slater (Women Film Pioneers Project), Tim Lussier (Silents are Golden), Wikipedia (German and English), and IMDb.

 

And, please check out our blog European Film Star Postcards.

Dutch postcard, no. 3522. Photo: Warner Bros.

 

American actress and dancer Virginia Mayo (1920-2005) is best known for her series of film comedies with Danny Kaye, including Wonder Man (H. Bruce Humberstone, 1945), The Kid from Brooklyn (Norman Z. McLeod, 1946), and The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (Norman Z. McLeod, 1947). The popular actress personified the dream girl or girl-next-door and audiences—particularly males—flocked to theatres just to see her blonde hair and classic looks on-screen in Technicolor. It made Mayo Warner Brothers biggest box office money maker in the late 1940s. Going against stereotype, Mayo accepted the supporting role of unsympathetic gold-digger Marie Derry in the Oscar winning drama The Best Years of Our Lives (William Wyler, 1946). Her performance drew favourable reviews from critics as the film also became the highest-grossing film in the US since Gone with the Wind. Later she appeared opposite James Cagney in White Heat (Raoul Walsh, 1949), Burt Lancaster in The Flame and the Arrow (Jacques Tourneur, 1950), and Gregory Peck in Captain Horatio Hornblower (Raoul Walsh, 1951). At the zenith of her career, Mayo was seen as the quintessential voluptuous Hollywood beauty: she "looked like a pinup painting come to life".

 

Sources: Wikipedia and IMDb.

French postcard by Cinémagazine-Edition, Paris, no. 928. Photo: Ruben Sobol, Paris. For more on Sobol, see www.gazette-drouot.com/article/ruben-sobol-photographe-de...

 

French film star Annabella (1909-1996) was France's most popular actress during the mid-1930s, but she also achieved some success in Hollywood films of the late 1930s.

Belgian collectors card, no. 297. Photo: Europ Film. Katharina Mayberg in Dr. Crippen lebt/Doctor Crippen Lives (Erich Engels, 1958).

 

German actress Katharina Mayberg (1925–2007) was a popular actress in German and Austrian film productions the 1950s and 1960s.

 

Katharina Mayberg was born in 1925 in Hamburg, Germany. Mayberg took acting classes with Waldemar Stegemann and initially worked as a stage actress. She made her film debut with a small part in the drama Die Söhne des Herrn Gaspary/Gaspary's Sons (Rolf Meyer, 1948) starring Lil Dagover and Hans StĂŒwe. The following year, she played Barbarina in the East German musical Figaros Hochzeit/The Marriage of Figaro (Georg Wildhagen, 1949) starring Angelika Hauff and Willi Domgraf-Fassbaender. It was based on the opera The Marriage of Figaro by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Lorenzo Da Ponte, which was itself based on the play The Marriage of Figaro by Pierre Beaumarchais. The film was made by DEFA, the state production company of East Germany, in their Babelsberg Studio and the nearby Babelsberg Park. The production used not the original Italian but a German text. The recitatives were replaced with dialogue spoken by the actors. It sold 5,479,427 tickets. She had a supporting part in the Austrian-German sports comedy Der Theodor im Fußballtor/Theodore the Goalkeeper (E.W. Emo, 1950) starring Theo Lingen and Hans Moser. She had a major role in the drama Hinter Klostermauern/Behind Monastery Walls (Harald Reinl, 1952) starring Olga Tschechowa and Frits van Dongen (Philip Dorn). The film takes place in a priory and is sometimes known by the alternative title of The Unholy Intruders.

 

Katharina Mayberg had her first female leading role in the Austrian-German crime film Die Todesarena/Arena of Death (Kurt Meisel, 1953) co-starring Richard HĂ€ussler and Friedl Hardt. A popular success was the drama Rosen-Resli/Rose-Girl Resli (Harald Reinl, 1954) which turned child actress Christine Kaufmann into a star. In this and other films like the romantic drama Die schöne MĂŒllerin/The Beautiful Miller (Wolfgang Liebeneiner, 1954) featuring Waltraut Haas, Mayberg played supporting parts again. Throughout the 1950s, her parts became smaller, such as in the Spanish film El batallĂłn de las sombras/The Battalion in the Shadows (Manuel Mur Oti, 1957). She played again a leading role as Brunilde in the Italian fantasy Sigfrido/The Dragon's Blood (Giacomo Gentilomo, 1957), based on Richard Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen. Dragon's Blood giant dragon was one of the earliest creatures created by special effects artist Carlo Rambaldi, who later would be responsible for the special effects on King Kong (1976) and E.T. (1982). Back in Germany, Mayberg appeared in comedies like Immer die Radfahrer/Cyclists Forever (Hans Deppe, 1958) and Kauf dir einen bunten Luftballon (GĂ©za von Cziffra, 1961). Later she appeared in the Austrian crime film Mann im Schatten/Man in the Shadow (Arthur Maria Rabenalt, 1961), the TV film Jan Himp und die kleine Brise (Arthur Maria Rabenalt, 1966) with Ulli Lommel, and the sexploitation Wilder Sex junger MĂ€dchen/Love Times Three (JĂŒrgen Schindler, Nino Casale, 1972). In the literary adaptation Der Schimmelreiter/Rider of a White Horse (Alfred Weidenmann, 1977), starring John Phillip Law and Gert Fröbe, she played her last role, the maid Ann Grete. The film was produced by her own company Schimmelreiter Albis Film GmbH. Mayberg was married to film producer Alf Teich from 1956 till 1992 (his death) and they had a son. Katharina Mayberg passed away after a long illness in 2007 at her home in Hamburg-Othmarschen. She was 83.

 

Sources: Wikipedia (English and German), and IMDb.

 

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Italian postcard by B.F.F. Edit. (Casa Editrice Ballerini & Fratini, Firenze), no. 44240. Photo: Vaselli / E.N.I.C.

 

Irasema DiliĂĄn or Eva Dilian (1924-1996), was a Polish-born, Italian actress. She had her breakthrough in Vittorio de Sica's Maddalena... zero in condotta (1940), and became one of the most popular actresses of the Italian cinema of the 1940s. After the war, she became a star of the Mexican cinema.

 

Irasema Diliån was born as Irasema Warschalowska in 1924 in Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. She was the daughter of a Polish diplomat, who represented his country in Brazil in the 1920s. She arrived at a very young age in Rome where she enrolled in the film school Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia, graduating in 1940. She made her debut in a film by the French director Marcel L'Herbier, Ecco la felicità/La Comédie du bonheur/Comedy of Happiness (1940), starring Michel Simon and Ramon Novarro. Noted by director Vittorio De Sica, Dilian became one of the students in Maddalena... zero in condotta/Maddalena, Zero for Conduct (Vittorio De Sica, 1940), alongside Carla Del Poggio. From 1940, using her first pseudonym of Eva Dilian, she became a hugely successful actress thanks to this role. After Maddalena, she became the rich private schoolgirl par excellence of the Telefoni Bianchi, the Italian white telephones cinema. Dilian was certainly one of the most popular actresses of the 1940s, especially in the role of unpleasant students but at the same time endowed with beauty and sweetness. This also goes for the spoiled, snobbish merchant's daughter and failed poetess Lilli Passalacqua, she played in Teresa VenerdÏ/Doctor, Beware (Vittorio De Sica, 1941), this time alongside Adriana Benetti as the protagonist. But Irasema Diliån, her final pseudonym, found her consecration in Ore 9: lezione di chimica/Schoolgirl Diary (Mario Mattoli, 1941) alongside such young and beautiful actors as Alida Valli, Andrea Checchi and Bianca Della Corte. In the role of Maria, she was first credited in the opening titles and imposed herself on the audience as the sensitive and sincere girl that every male adolescent spectator dreamed of marrying. Dilian starred continuously in films that grossed a lot at the box offices like Violette nei cappelli/Violets in the hair (Carlo Ludovico Bragaglia, 1942), I sette peccati/The seven sins (Ladislao Kish, 1942), Malombra (Mario Soldati, 1942), and Fuga a due voci/Music on the Run (Carlo Ludovico Bragaglia, 1943), with Gino Bechi.

 

After the war, Irasema DiliĂĄn starred in the costume films Aquila nera/The Black Eagle (Riccardo Freda, 1946) with Rossano Brazzi, La figlia del capitano/The Captain's Daughter (Mario Camerini, 1947) and Il corriere del re/The king's courier (Gennaro Righelli', 1948), which characterised a new horizon for Dilian, who was now a woman. During the RSI (Repubblica Sociale Italiana of Mussolini - the Republic of SalĂČ, existing between September 1943 and May 1945 ), she had found artistic refuge in Spain together with other Italian stars. After the war, she returned very often to the Iberian peninsula to act in various films. In 1950, DiliĂĄn married Arduino Maiuri, who became later an acclaimed screenwriter. After the flop of the international coproduction Donne senza nome/Women Without Names (GĂ©za von RadvĂĄnyi, 1950), she moved with her husband to Mexico to shoot Muchachas de Uniforme/Girls in Uniform (Alfredo B. Crevenna, 1951), an exceptional Mexican remake of the German classic MĂ€dchen in Uniform (Leontine Sagan, Carl Froelich, 1931). This film was an extraordinary success and it catapulted Dilian towards unexpected fame in Mexico where she remained several years. With other actors and actresses, she created what was later called "the golden age" of the Mexican cinema. She appeared in Luis Buñuel's Abismos de pasiĂłn/Wuthering Heights (1954), but it is perhaps the only film the director regretted shooting. However, the IMDb reviewer, all rave about the film. Dilian played Caterina/Cathy opposite Jorge Mistral as Alejandro/Heathcliff. In the late 1950s, she retired from the film business, despite being still on the crest of the wave of success. She returned to live in Italy, where her husband Arduino Maiuri continued his successful career as a screenwriter. From their marriage two children were born, Coralla and Antonio. Irasema DiliĂĄn died in Ceprano (Frosinone) in 1996. She was 71

 

Sources: Wikipedia (Italian), and IMDb.

 

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Austrian postcard by Eberle Verlag, Wien, no. 21. Photo: I.S.B. Films.

 

Austrian actress Marte Harell (1907-1996) played strong women who determined the events, in several Viennese comedies and operettas of the 1940s and 1950s.

 

Marte Harell was born as Martha Schömig in 1907 in Wien (Vienna), Austria-Hungary, now Austria. She was the daughter of architect Rudolf Schömig and his wife Emilie Mathilde nĂ©e. Passetzky. She visited a secondary school for girls in Vienna. Her acting career started when she married director Karl Hartl in 1930. She followed acting classes from Margit von Tolnai and attended the Max-Reinhardt-Seminar. At 30 years she made her debut at the Kammerspielen des Theaters in der Josefstadt. She worked for theatres in Munich and Berlin, where she was spotted by director Geza von Bolvary at the Deutsches Theater. He cast her as the leading lady in his film Opernball/Opera Ball (GĂ©za von BolvĂĄry, 1939) opposite Paul Hörbiger, and her film debut at 32 as the typical Wiener mĂ€del (Viennese girl) became an unexpected success. More leading roles followed in Wiener G'schichten/Vienna Tales (GĂ©za von BolvĂĄry, 1940) again opposite Paul Hörbiger, and an adaption of the Zeller operetta 'Der VogelhĂ€ndler', Rosen in Tirol/The Bird Seller (GĂ©za von BolvĂĄry, 1940) with Johannes Heesters. When her husband Karl Hartl became the production manager of the newly founded Wien-Film, she became a very busy actress for this company. She convinced critics and audiences with her performances in BrĂŒderlein fein/Dear Brother (Hans Thimig, 1941), the comedy Die heimliche GrĂ€fin/The Secret Countess (GĂ©za von BolvĂĄry, 1942) with Wolf Albach-Retty, Frauen sind keine Engel/Women Are No Angels (Willi Forst, 1943) with a young Curd JĂŒrgens, and Tolle Nacht/Great Night (Theo Lingen, 1943). She always played the strong woman who determined the events and was not able to hide her typical Viennese accent. The part of Fiakermilli (Cabby Milli) in the beautiful tragi-comedy-musical Schrammeln (GĂ©za von BolvĂĄry, 1944) was her most popular role. For the adaptation of Johann Strauss' comic opera Die Fledermaus/The Bat (1945), she worked again with director GĂ©za von BolvĂĄry, with whom she made a total of ten films.

 

Marte Harell continued her film career immediately after the Second World War with Glaube an mich/Believe in Me (GĂ©za von Cziffra, 1946), but the film was torn to pieces by the critics. Two years later she returned in the romance Nach dem Sturm/After the Storm (Gustav Ucicky, 1948), based on a story by Carl Zuckmeyer. Wien Tanzt/Vienna Waltzes (Emil E. Reinert, 1951) was an old-fashioned musical extravaganza in the tradition of the pre-war Austrian films. The story centers upon Waltz King Johann Strauss (Adolf Wohlbrueck) and his ‘progressive’ composer son Richard, and their terrific music. About the female lead Hal Erickson writes at AllMovie: “The feminine interest in Wien Tanzt is provided by Marte Harell, who refreshingly is not a Hollywood-style glamourpuss.” In 1951 the Austrian public chose her as the most popular actress, but her film roles became rarer in the 1950s. She appeared in one film each year, among others the comedy Liebeskrieg nach Noten/Love War for Music (Karl Hart, 1953l) with Johannes Heesters, the historical thriller Spionage/Espionage (Franz Antel, 1955) based on the tragic life story of the homosexual ‘Oberst’ Alfred Redl, and the operetta Im Prater blĂŒhn wieder die BĂ€ume/Trees Are Blooming in Vienna (Hans Wolff, 1958). In between, she dedicated herself again to the theater and had a successful stage comeback. Her last films were the spy yarn Assignment K (Val Guest, 1968) starring Stephen Boyd, Abenteuer eines Sommers/Summer Adventure (Helmut Pfandler, 1974) starring Matthias Habich, the sex comedy Das Love-Hotel in Tirol/Love Hotel in Tyrol (Franz Antel, 1978), and the historical drama Der Bockerer (Franz Antel, 1980), about the naĂŻve Viennese butcher Karl Bockerer who refuses to get assimilated by the Nazi system and with his aggressive but charming behaviour, and a whole lot of luck survives the war. During the 1970s Marte Harell also worked regularly for television and made guest appearances in series like Hallo – Hotel Sacher
 Portier!/Hello – Hotel Sacher
Doorman! (1973), Van der Valk und die Reichen/Van der Valk and the Rich (1975), and the popular Krimi Tatort (1974). In 1985 she was awarded the Filmband in Gold for her longtime and important attributions to the German cinema, and that same year she retired. In 1996 Marte Harell died in Vienna. Her husband, Karl Hartl, had passed away in 1978. In 1951 the couple was divorced, but eight years later they have married again. In 2000 a street was named after her, the Marte-Harell-Gasse in Wien-Liesing.

 

Sources: Thomas Staedeli (Cyranos), Hal Erickson (AllMovie), Stephanie D’heil (Steffi-Line), Wikipedia and IMDb.

 

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Austrian postcard. Iris Verlag, No. 6392. Amag. Este-Film. Hugo Engel-Film.

 

Anny Ondra (1903-1987) was a Polish-Czech-Austrian-German-French singer, film, and stage actress. During the 1920s and 1930s, she was a popular actress in Czech, Austrian and German comedies, and she was Alfred Hitchcock’s first ‘Blonde’.

East-German postcard by VEB Progress Filmvertrieb, Berlin, no. 4077/294. Photo: DEFA / Wunsch. Katharina Mayberg in Mazurka der Liebe/Love's Mazurka (Hans MĂŒller, 1957).

 

German actress Katharina Mayberg (1925–2007) was a popular actress in German and Austrian film productions the 1950s and 1960s.

 

Katharina Mayberg was born in 1925 in Hamburg, Germany. Mayberg took acting classes with Waldemar Stegemann and initially worked as a stage actress. She made her film debut with a small part in the drama Die Söhne des Herrn Gaspary/Gaspary's Sons (Rolf Meyer, 1948) starring Lil Dagover and Hans StĂŒwe. The following year, she played Barbarina in the East German musical Figaros Hochzeit/The Marriage of Figaro (Georg Wildhagen, 1949) starring Angelika Hauff and Willi Domgraf-Fassbaender. It was based on the opera The Marriage of Figaro by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Lorenzo Da Ponte, which was itself based on the play The Marriage of Figaro by Pierre Beaumarchais. The film was made by DEFA, the state production company of East Germany, in their Babelsberg Studio and the nearby Babelsberg Park. The production used not the original Italian but a German text. The recitatives were replaced with dialogue spoken by the actors. It sold 5,479,427 tickets. She had a supporting part in the Austrian-German sports comedy Der Theodor im Fußballtor/Theodore the Goalkeeper (E.W. Emo, 1950) starring Theo Lingen and Hans Moser. She had a major role in the drama Hinter Klostermauern/Behind Monastery Walls (Harald Reinl, 1952) starring Olga Tschechowa and Frits van Dongen (Philip Dorn). The film takes place in a priory and is sometimes known by the alternative title of The Unholy Intruders.

 

Katharina Mayberg had her first female leading role in the Austrian-German crime film Die Todesarena/Arena of Death (Kurt Meisel, 1953) co-starring Richard HĂ€ussler and Friedl Hardt. A popular success was the drama Rosen-Resli/Rose-Girl Resli (Harald Reinl, 1954) which turned child actress Christine Kaufmann into a star. In this and other films like the romantic drama Die schöne MĂŒllerin/The Beautiful Miller (Wolfgang Liebeneiner, 1954) featuring Waltraut Haas, Mayberg played supporting parts again. Throughout the 1950s, her parts became smaller, such as in the Spanish film El batallĂłn de las sombras/The Battalion in the Shadows (Manuel Mur Oti, 1957). She played again a leading role as Brunilde in the Italian fantasy Sigfrido/The Dragon's Blood (Giacomo Gentilomo, 1957), based on Richard Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen. Dragon's Blood giant dragon was one of the earliest creatures created by special effects artist Carlo Rambaldi, who later would be responsible for the special effects on King Kong (1976) and E.T. (1982). Back in Germany, Mayberg appeared in comedies like Immer die Radfahrer/Cyclists Forever (Hans Deppe, 1958) and Kauf dir einen bunten Luftballon (GĂ©za von Cziffra, 1961). Later she appeared in the Austrian crime film Mann im Schatten/Man in the Shadow (Arthur Maria Rabenalt, 1961), the TV film Jan Himp und die kleine Brise (Arthur Maria Rabenalt, 1966) with Ulli Lommel, and the sexploitation Wilder Sex junger MĂ€dchen/Love Times Three (JĂŒrgen Schindler, Nino Casale, 1972). In the literary adaptation Der Schimmelreiter/Rider of a White Horse (Alfred Weidenmann, 1977), starring John Phillip Law and Gert Fröbe, she played her last role, the maid Ann Grete. The film was produced by her own company Schimmelreiter Albis Film GmbH. Mayberg was married to film producer Alf Teich from 1956 till 1992 (his death) and they had a son. Katharina Mayberg passed away after a long illness in 2007 at her home in Hamburg-Othmarschen. She was 83.

 

Sources: Wikipedia (English and German), and IMDb.

 

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British postcard by Rotary Photo, no. S.75-5. Photo: Moody, N.Y.

 

Anita Stewart (1895-1961) was an American actress who achieved success during the silent period. From 1911 on, she worked with director Ralph Ince for Vitagraph, later she had her own film company at Metro. The advent of the sound film ended her career.

 

Anita Stewart was born Anna M. Stewart in Brooklyn in 1895. In 1911, when she was still in high school, she started her career playing in films for Vitagraph Studios. She had her breakthrough with the box office hit A Tale of Two Cities (William J.Humphrey, 1911), adapted from Charles Dickens, and with an all-star cast including Maurice Costello, Florence Turner, Norma Talmadge, and John Bunny. Over the years, she quickly grew into an actress in the foreground. She appeared in a string of short comedies and dramas. Director Ralph Ince gave Stewart leading roles in his films A Million Bid (1914), her first real feature-length film, and The Sins of the Mothers (1914). She also starred with Earle Williams in a series of films: the trainwreck drama The Juggernaut (1915), The Goddess (1915), and My Lady's Slipper (1916). In 1917 Stewart married Rudolph Cameron, the brother of Ralph Ince. Stewart grew into a popular actress and was cast with big names such as Mae Busch and Barbara La Marr.

 

Anita Stewart left Vitagraph in 1918 for a contract with the film studio of Louis B. Mayer. Stewart was promised her own production company and received a substantial salary increase. Her films were enormously successful during this period. Titles include the Lois Weber film A Midnight Romance (1919) with Jack Holt, Marshall Neilan's Her Kingdom of Dreams (1919, In Old Kentucky (Marshall Neilan, 1919), Sowing the Wind (John Stahl, 1921), The Woman He Married (1922), etc. From the mid-1920s, Stewart quitted her own production company and acted at various production companies, including Tiffany, Cosmopolitan, Fox, and even her old company Vitagraph. She mostly got first billing until 1928. Her last silent film was Romance of a Rogue (King Baggot, 1928), starring H.B. Warner, and Stewart co-starring. After the emergence of the sound film in 1928, however, it went badly with Stewart's career. She made an attempt to make a sound film, but it did not turn out well, so she immediately retired. Anita Stewart died of a heart attack in 1961. She has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

 

Sources: Wikipedia (English and Dutch), and IMDb.

 

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Italian postcard by Cinema-Illustrazione, Milano, Serie 1, no. 36. Photo: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

 

The popular magazine Cinema-Illustrazione was founded in 1930. It originated from the journal Illustrazione, which started in 1926. From 1930 on, it only focussed on cinema. Among the editors was the later screenwriter Cesare Zavattini. The magazine offered bios of popular Hollywood stars and lots of glamour photos. In 1938, due to the Alfieri law, a monopoly on the import of American films by the Italian state started. Therefore the magazine gave more attention to Italian actors and films from then on. The magazine stopped to appear in September 1939.

 

Lupe Velez (1908-1944), was one of the first Mexican actresses to succeed in Hollywood. Her nicknames were 'The Mexican Spitfire' and 'Hot Pepper'. She was the leading lady in such silent films as The Gaucho (1927), Lady of the Pavements (1928), and Wolf Song (1929). During the 1930s, her well-known explosive screen persona was exploited in a series of successful films like Hot Pepper (1933), Strictly Dynamite (1934), and Hollywood Party (1934). In the 1940s, VĂ©lez's popularity peaked after appearing in the Mexican Spitfire films, a series created to capitalise on VĂ©lez's well-documented fiery personality. She had several highly publicised romances and a stormy marriage. In 1944, VĂ©lez died of an intentional overdose of the barbiturate drug Seconal. Her death and the circumstances surrounding it have been the subject of speculation and controversy.

 

Lupe VĂ©lez was born MarĂ­a Guadalupe Villalobos VĂ©lez in 1908 in the city of San Luis PotosĂ­ in Mexico. She was the daughter of Jacobo Villalobos Reyes, a colonel in the army of the dictator Porfirio Diaz, and his wife Josefina VĂ©lez, an opera singer according to some sources, or vaudeville singer according to others. She had three sisters: Mercedes, Reina and Josefina, and a brother, Emigdio. The family was financially comfortable and lived in a large home. At the age of 13, her parents sent her to study at Our Lady of the Lake (now Our Lady of the Lake University) in San Antonio, Texas. It was at Our Lady of the Lake that VĂ©lez learned to speak English and began to dance. She later admitted that she liked dance class, but was otherwise a poor student. Denny Jackson at IMDb: "Life was hard for her family, and Lupe returned to Mexico to help them out financially. She worked as a salesgirl for a department store for the princely sum of $4 a week. Every week she would turn most of her salary over to her mother, but kept a little for herself so she could take dancing lessons. By now, she figured, with her mature shape and grand personality, she thought she could make a try at show business." She began her career as a performer in Mexican vaudeville in 1924. She initially performed under her paternal surname, but after her father returned home from the war, he was outraged that his daughter had decided to become a stage performer. She chose her maternal surname, "VĂ©lez", as her stage name and her mother introduced VĂ©lez and her sister Josefina to the popular Spanish Mexican vedette MarĂ­a Conesa, "La Gatita Blanca". VĂ©lez debuted in a show led by Conesa, where she sang 'Oh Charley, My Boy' and danced the shimmy. Aurelio Campos, a young pianist, and friend of the VĂ©lez sisters recommended Lupe to stage producers, Carlos Ortega and Manuel Castro. Ortega and Castro were preparing a season revue at the Regis Theatre and hired VĂ©lez to join the company in March 1925. Later that year, VĂ©lez starred in the revues 'Mexican Rataplan' and 'ÂĄNo lo tapes!', both parodies of the Bataclan's shows in Paris. Her suggestive singing and provocative dancing was a hit with audiences, and she soon established herself as one of the main stars of vaudeville in Mexico. After a year and a half, VĂ©lez left the revue after the manager refused to give her a raise. She then joined the Teatro Principal but was fired after three months due to her "feisty attitude". VĂ©lez was quickly hired by the Teatro Lirico, where her salary rose to 100 pesos a day. In 1926, Frank A. Woodyard, an American who had seen VĂ©lez perform, recommended her to stage director Richard Bennett, the father of actresses Joan and Constance Bennett. Bennett was looking for an actress to portray a Mexican cantina singer in his upcoming play 'The Dove'. He sent VĂ©lez a telegram inviting her to Los Angeles to appear in the play. VĂ©lez had been planning to go to Cuba to perform, but quickly changed her plans and traveled to Los Angeles. However, upon arrival, she discovered that she had been replaced by another actress.

 

While in Los Angeles, Lupe VĂ©lez met the comedian Fanny Brice. Brice recommended her to Flo Ziegfeld, who hired her to perform in New York City. While VĂ©lez was preparing to leave Los Angeles, she received a call from MGM producer Harry Rapf, who offered her a screen test. Producer and director Hal Roach saw VĂ©lez's screen test and hired her for a small role in the comic Laurel and Hardy short Sailors, Beware! (Fred Guiol, Hal Yates, 1927). After her debut, VĂ©lez appeared in another Hal Roach short, What Women Did for Me (James Parrott, 1927), opposite Charley Chase. Later that year, she did a screen test for the upcoming Douglas Fairbanks feature The Gaucho (F. Richard Jones, 1927). Fairbanks was impressed by VĂ©lez and hired her to appear in the film with him. The Gaucho was a hit and critics were duly impressed with VĂ©lez's ability to hold her own alongside Fairbanks, who was well known for his spirited acting and impressive stunts. Her second major film was Stand and Deliver (Donald Crisp, 1928), produced by Cecil B. DeMille. That same year, she was named one of the WAMPAS Baby Stars. Then she appeared in Lady of the Pavements (1929), directed by D. W. Griffith, and Where East Is East (Tod Browning, 1929), starring Lon Chaney as an animal trapper in Laos. In the Western The Wolf Song (Victor Fleming, 1929), she appeared alongside Gary Cooper. As she was regularly cast as 'exotic' or 'ethnic' women that were volatile and hot-tempered, gossip columnists took to referring to VĂ©lez as "Mexican Hurricane", "The Mexican Wildcat", "The Mexican Madcap", "Whoopee Lupe" and "The Hot Tamale". Lupe VĂ©lez made the transition to sound films without difficulty. Studio executives had predicted that her accent would likely hamper her ability to make the transition. That idea was dispelled after she appeared in the all-talking Rin Tin Tin vehicle, Tiger Rose (George Fitzmaurice, 1929). The film was a hit and VĂ©lez's sound career was established. VĂ©lez appeared in a series of Pre-Code films like Hell Harbor (Henry King, 1930), The Storm (William Wyler, 1930), and the crime drama East Is West (Monta Bell, 1930) opposite Edward G. Robinson. The next year, she appeared in her second film for Cecil B. DeMille, Squaw Man (Cecil B. DeMille, 1931), opposite Warner Baxter, in Resurrection (Edwin Carewe, 1931), and The Cuban Love Song (W.S. Van Dyke, 1931), with the popular singer Lawrence Tibbett. She had a supporting role in Kongo (William J. Cowen, 1932) with Walter Huston, a sound remake of West of Zanzibar (Tod Browning, 1928) which tries to outdo the Lon Chaney original in morbidity. She also starred in Spanish-language versions of Universal films like ResurrecciĂłn (Eduardo Arozamena, David Selman, 1931), the Spanish version of Resurrection (1931), and Hombres en mi vida (Eduardo Arozamena, David Selman, 1932), the Spanish version of Men in Her Life (William Beaudine, 1931) in which Lois Moran had starred.

 

In 1932, Lupe VĂ©lez took a break from her film career and traveled to New York City where she was signed by Broadway impresario Florenz Ziegfeld, Jr. to take over the role of "Conchita" in the musical revue 'Hot-Cha!'. The show also starred Bert Lahr, Eleanor Powell, and Buddy Rogers. Back in Hollywood, Lupe switched to comedy after playing dramatic roles for five years. Denny Jackson at IMDb: "In 1933 she played the lead role of Pepper in Hot Pepper (1933). This film showcased her comedic talents and helped her to show the world her vital personality. She was delightful." After Hot Pepper (John G. Blystone, 1933) with Edmund Lowe and Victor McLaglen, Lupe played beautiful but volatile, characters in a series of successful films like Strictly Dynamite (Elliott Nugent, 1934), Palooka (Benjamin Stoloff, 1934) both opposite Jimmy Durante, and Hollywood Party (Allan Dwan, a.o., 1934) with Laurel and Hardy. Although VĂ©lez was a popular actress, RKO Pictures did not renew her contract in 1934. Over the next few years, VĂ©lez worked for various studios as a freelance actress; she also spent two years in England where she filmed The Morals of Marcus (Miles Mander, 1935) and Gypsy Melody (Edmond T. GrĂ©ville, 1936). She returned to Los Angeles the following year where she appeared in the final part of the Wheeler & Woolsey comedy High Flyers (Edward F. Cline, 1937). In 1938, VĂ©lez made her final appearance on Broadway in the musical You Never Know, by Cole Porter. The show received poor reviews from critics but received a large amount of publicity due to the feud between VĂ©lez and fellow cast member Libby Holman. Holman was irritated by the attention VĂ©lez garnered from the show with her impersonations of several actresses including Gloria Swanson, Katharine Hepburn, and Shirley Temple. The feud came to a head during a performance in New Haven, Connecticut after VĂ©lez punched Holman in between curtain calls and gave her a black eye. The feud effectively ended the show. Upon her return to Mexico City in 1938 to star in her first Mexican film, VĂ©lez was greeted by ten thousand fans. The film La Zandunga (Fernando de Fuentes, 1938) co-starring Arturo de CĂłrdova, was a critical and financial success. VĂ©lez was slated to appear in four more Mexican films, but instead, she returned to Los Angeles and went back to work for RKO Pictures. In 1939, Lupe VĂ©lez was cast opposite Leon Errol and Donald Woods in the B-comedy, The Girl from Mexico (Leslie Goodwins, 1939). Despite being a B film, it was a hit with audiences and RKO re-teamed her with Errol and Wood for a sequel, Mexican Spitfire (Leslie Goodwins, 1940). That film was also a success and led to a series of eight Spitfire films. Wikipedia: "In the series, VĂ©lez portrays Carmelita Lindsay, a temperamental yet friendly Mexican singer married to Dennis 'Denny' Lindsay (Woods), an elegant American gentleman. The Spitfire films rejuvenated VĂ©lez's career. Moreover, they were films in which a Latina headlined for eight films straight –a true rarity." In addition to the Spitfire series, she was cast in such films as Six Lessons from Madame La Zonga (John Rawlins, 1941), Playmates (David Butler, 1941) opposite John Barrymore, and Redhead from Manhattan (Lew Landers, 1943). In 1943, the final film in the Spitfire series, Mexican Spitfire's Blessed Event (Leslie Goodwins, 1943), was released. By that time, the novelty of the series had begun to wane. Velez co-starred with Eddie Albert in the romantic comedy, Ladies' Day (Leslie Goodwins, 1943), about an actress and a baseball player. In 1944, VĂ©lez returned to Mexico to star in an adaptation of Émile Zola's novel Nana (Roberto GavaldĂłn, Celestino Gorostiza, 1944), which was well-received. It would be her final film. After filming wrapped, VĂ©lez returned to Los Angeles and began preparing for another stage role in New York.

 

Lupe Vélez's temper and jealousy in her often tempestuous romantic relationships were well documented and became tabloid fodder, often overshadowing her career. Vélez was straightforward with the press and was regularly contacted by gossip columnists for stories about her romantic exploits. Her first long-term relationship was with actor Gary Cooper. Vélez met Cooper while filming The Wolf Song in 1929 and began a two-year affair with him. The relationship was passionate but often stormy. Reportedly Vélez chased Cooper around with a knife during an argument and cut him severely enough to require stitches. By that time, the rocky relationship had taken its toll on Cooper who had lost 45 pounds and was suffering from nervous exhaustion. Paramount Pictures ordered him to take a vacation to recuperate. While he was boarding the train, Vélez showed up at the train station and fired a pistol at him. During her marriage to actor Johnny Weissmuller, stories of their frequent physical fights were regularly reported in the press. Vélez reportedly inflicted scratches, bruises, and love-bites on Weissmuller during their fights and "passionate love-making". In July 1934, after ten months of marriage, Vélez filed for divorce citing cruelty. She withdrew the petition a week later after reconciling with Weissmuller. In January 1935, she filed for divorce a second time and was granted an interlocutory decree that was dismissed when the couple reconciled a month later. In August 1938, Vélez filed for divorce for a third time, again charging Weissmuller with cruelty. Their divorce was finalised in August 1939. After the divorce became final, Vélez began dating actor Guinn "Big Boy" Williams in late 1940. They were reportedly engaged but never married. Vélez was also linked to author Erich Maria Remarque and the boxers Jack Johnson and Jack Dempsey. In 1943, Vélez began an affair with her La Zandunga co-star Arturo de Córdova. De Córdova had recently moved to Hollywood after signing with Paramount Pictures. Despite the fact that de Córdova was married to Mexican actress Enna Arana with whom he had four children, Vélez granted an interview to gossip columnist Louella Parsons in September 1943 and announced that the two were engaged. Vélez ended the engagement in early 1944, reportedly after de Córdova's wife refused to give him a divorce. Vélez then met and began dating a struggling young Austrian actor named Harald Maresch (who went by the stage name Harald Ramond). In September 1944, she discovered she was pregnant with Ramond's child. She announced their engagement in late November 1944. On 10 December, four days before her death, Vélez announced she had ended the engagement and kicked Ramond out of her home. On the evening of 13 December 1944, Vélez dined with her two friends, the silent film star Estelle Taylor and Venita Oakie. In the early morning hours of 14 December, Vélez retired to her bedroom, where she consumed 75 Seconal pills and a glass of brandy. Her secretary, Beulah Kinder, found the actress's body on her bed later that morning. A suicide note addressed to Harald Ramond was found nearby. Lupe Vélez was only 36 years old. More than four-thousand people filed past her casket during her funeral. Her body was interred in Mexico City, at Panteón Civil de Dolores Cemetery. Velez' estate, valued at $125,000 and consisting mostly of her Rodeo House home, two cars, jewelry, and personal effects were left to her secretary Beulah Kinder with the remainder in trust for her mother, Mrs. Josephine Velez. Together with Dolores del Rio, Ramon Novarro, and José Mojica, she was one of the few Mexican people who had made history in the early years of Hollywood.

 

Sources: Raffaele De Berti (Dallo schermo alla carta), Denny Jackson (IMDb), Wikipedia, and IMDb.

 

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German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 703/1, 1925-1926. Photo: Transocean Film-Co, Berlin.

 

Anita Stewart (1895-1961) was an American actress who achieved success during the silent period. From 1911 on, she worked with director Ralph Ince for Vitagraph, later she had her own film company at Metro. The advent of the sound film ended her career.

 

Anita Stewart was born Anna M. Stewart in Brooklyn in 1895. In 1911, when she was still in high school, she started her career playing in films for Vitagraph Studios. She had her breakthrough with the box office hit A Tale of Two Cities (William J.Humphrey, 1911), adapted from Charles Dickens, and with an all-star cast including Maurice Costello, Florence Turner, Norma Talmadge, and John Bunny. Over the years, she quickly grew into an actress in the foreground. She appeared in a string of short comedies and dramas. Director Ralph Ince gave Stewart leading roles in his films A Million Bid (1914), her first real feature-length film, and The Sins of the Mothers (1914). She also starred with Earle Williams in a series of films: the trainwreck drama The Juggernaut (1915), The Goddess (1915), and My Lady's Slipper (1916). In 1917 Stewart married Rudolph Cameron, the brother of Ralph Ince. Stewart grew into a popular actress and was cast with big names such as Mae Busch and Barbara La Marr.

 

Anita Stewart left Vitagraph in 1918 for a contract with the film studio of Louis B. Mayer. Stewart was promised her own production company and received a substantial salary increase. Her films were enormously successful during this period. Titles include the Lois Weber film A Midnight Romance (1919) with Jack Holt, Marshall Neilan's Her Kingdom of Dreams (1919, In Old Kentucky (Marshall Neilan, 1919), Sowing the Wind (John Stahl, 1921), The Woman He Married (1922), etc. From the mid-1920s, Stewart quitted her own production company and acted at various production companies, including Tiffany, Cosmopolitan, Fox, and even her old company Vitagraph. She mostly got first billing until 1928. Her last silent film was Romance of a Rogue (King Baggot, 1928), starring H.B. Warner, and Stewart co-starring. After the emergence of the sound film in 1928, however, it went badly with Stewart's career. She made an attempt to make a sound film, but it did not turn out well, so she immediately retired. Anita Stewart died of a heart attack in 1961. She has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

 

Sources: Wikipedia (English and Dutch), and IMDb.

 

And, please check out our blog European Film Star Postcards.

German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 585/1, 1919-1924. Photo: Transocean Film-Co, Berlin.

 

Anita Stewart (1895-1961) was an American actress who achieved success during the silent period. From 1911 on, she worked with director Ralph Ince for Vitagraph, later she had her own film company at Metro. The advent of the sound film ended her career.

 

Anita Stewart was born Anna M. Stewart in Brooklyn in 1895. In 1911, when she was still in high school, she started her career playing in films for Vitagraph Studios. She had her breakthrough with the box office hit A Tale of Two Cities (William J.Humphrey, 1911), adapted from Charles Dickens, and with an all-star cast including Maurice Costello, Florence Turner, Norma Talmadge, and John Bunny. Over the years, she quickly grew into an actress in the foreground. She appeared in a string of short comedies and dramas. Director Ralph Ince gave Stewart leading roles in his films A Million Bid (1914), her first real feature-length film, and The Sins of the Mothers (1914). She also starred with Earle Williams in a series of films: the trainwreck drama The Juggernaut (1915), The Goddess (1915), and My Lady's Slipper (1916). In 1917 Stewart married Rudolph Cameron, the brother of Ralph Ince. Stewart grew into a popular actress and was cast with big names such as Mae Busch and Barbara La Marr.

 

Anita Stewart left Vitagraph in 1918 for a contract with the film studio of Louis B. Mayer. Stewart was promised her own production company and received a substantial salary increase. Her films were enormously successful during this period. Titles include the Lois Weber film A Midnight Romance (1919) with Jack Holt, Marshall Neilan's Her Kingdom of Dreams (1919, In Old Kentucky (Marshall Neilan, 1919), Sowing the Wind (John Stahl, 1921), The Woman He Married (1922), etc. From the mid-1920s, Stewart quitted her own production company and acted at various production companies, including Tiffany, Cosmopolitan, Fox, and even her old company Vitagraph. She mostly got first billing until 1928. Her last silent film was Romance of a Rogue (King Baggot, 1928), starring H.B. Warner, and Stewart co-starring. After the emergence of the sound film in 1928, however, it went badly with Stewart's career. She made an attempt to make a sound film, but it did not turn out well, so she immediately retired. Anita Stewart died of a heart attack in 1961. She has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

 

Sources: Wikipedia (English and Dutch), and IMDb.

 

And, please check out our blog European Film Star Postcards.