Archive for WW 2 Pin Up Girls
The World Book Dictionary defines pinup as: “Noun 1. A picture of a very attractive or famous person, pinned up on a wall, as in a barracks, usually by admirers who have not met the subject. 2. A very attractive girl, especially one considered attractive enough to be the subject of such a picture.”
Vivian Austin was born Vivian Coe on February 23, 1920 in Hollywood, California. A former Miss Hollywood and a dancer, this Universal contract starlet of the 1940s entered films as a Goldwyn Girl in “The Goldwyn Follies” (1938).
That and a few other chorus girl assignments led to the contract with Universal, which cast her opposite Donald Barry in the original Red Ryder serial, “The Adventures of Red Ryder” (1940). For unknown reasons, the studio then changed her name to Vivian Austin and as such she appeared in B-musicals with Donald O’Connor and Peggy Ryan, a couple of oaters with Rod Cameron, and the well-received comedy “The Men in Her Diary” (1944).
She made 25 westerns, musicals and dramas for the studio until she nearly died from kidney failure in 1948, which leading to blindness, forced Ms. Austin into early retirement from the motion picture business.
A Palm Springs, California physician, Dr. Kenneth Grow, managed to restore her sight, and later they married on December 30, 1968. Vivian Austin died of natural causes on August 1, 2004 (Aged 84) in Los Angeles, California.
Frances Vorne, a 19-year-old New York girl who calls herself “The Shape”, wound up 1944 with perhaps the best claim to an honor publicity agents fight desperately over: the crown as Pin-Up Girl of the Year. First the Associated Press in a rare moment of relaxation gave her the title.
The Shape had received even more dazzling recognition as the circle of her admirers expanded to include at least one segment of British officialdom. The British Ministry of Information saw her photograph in the London Daily Mirror, immediately cabled the U.S. for permission to use it in stimulating the morale of Britain’s Army & Navy.
The Highlight of her career seems to be “Pin-Up Girl of the Year 1945″ chosen by the Associated Press. He only film work seems to be a “Movie NewsReels Swimsuit Revue” which also featured Maria Montez and other beautiful young popular girls. Movie NewsReels were shown along with feature films and cartoons at theaters this one was also sold in 8 or 16mm via mail-order advertising from the back of Popular Science and other magazines. Frances Vorne was marketed as the “Modern Venus” and Star of “Swim Suit Revue”. Here last known work is the POLICE GAZETTE MAGAZINE cover June, 1947.
Carole Landis was born on New Year’s Day in 1919 in Fairchild, Wisconsin, as Frances Lillian Mary Ridste. Her childhood was, for the most part, normal. Her father, a railroad mechanic, was of Norwegian descent and her mother was Polish. Her father left the family and Carole, her mother and an older brother and sister were left to fend for themselves.
Once she graduated from high school, she married Irving Wheeler, but the union lasted a month before the marriage was annulled because Carole was only 15 at the time. The couple remarried in August of 1934 and the two headed to California to start a new life. For a while she worked as a dancer and singer, but it wasn’t long before the glitter of show business drew her to Los Angeles.
She won a studio contract with Warner Brothers, but was a bit player for the most part in such films as “A Star Is Born” (1937), “A Day at the Races” (1937), and “The Emperor’s Candlesticks” (1937). The following year started out much the same way with more bit roles. Carole’s career was stalled. By 1939, she was getting a few more into speaking roles, although mostly one-liners, and that year ended much like the previous two years with more bit roles, plus a divorce from Wheeler.
In 1940 she was cast as Loana in the Hal Roach production of “One Million B.C.” (1940), where her beauty (and skimpy outfit) finally got her recognition, and her career finally began moving. She didn’t star in big productions but began getting parts in B pictures. Although she had a fine acting talent, the really good roles were snatched up by the established stars of the day. Warner Brothers then sold her contract to 20th Century-Fox. She played “B” leads and “A” supporting roles in her first 12 Fox films, with a notable dramatic performance in “I Wake Up Screaming” (1941). Critics dwelled on her fresh-faced beauty, seldom mentioning her acting and comedy potential. Her busiest year ever turned out to be 1942, with roles in six films such as “Manila Calling” (1942), “The Powers Girl” (1943) and “A Gentleman at Heart” (1942). It seemed that her films never really attracted good critical reviews, and if they were reviewed at all it was in reference to Carole’s breathtaking beauty.
During World War 2 Carole spent more time visiting troops than any other actress. She took time off from her career and dedicated herself to the war effort. Carole toured the country selling war bonds and entertained soldiers all over the world. The press called her “a heroine” and “pride of the yanks”. She joined the Hollywood Victory Committee and worked tirelessly with the Red Cross, the Naval Aid Auxiliary, and Bundles for Blue Jackets. Carole collected cigarettes for the soldiers, taught first aid, and donated blood as often as she was allowed. She never turned down a request to help and visited more than 250 military bases across the United States. When she went to Camp Bowie for a three day appearance in 1942 she danced with 200 soldiers, sang 15 songs, and signed 1000 autographs. In September 1942 she visited the Mare Island Navy Yard where she sang for the injured men in the hospital ward. Carole became one of the soldier’s favorite pin-up girls and they nicknamed her “The Blonde Bomber”. When she appeared on the Command Performance radio show one soldier requested that she “just sigh” into the microphone. In November 1942 Carole started a five month tour of Europe and Africa with Mitzi Mayfair, Kay Francis, and Martha Raye. She met her husband Tommy Wallace during this tour and she wrote about her experiences in her 1944 book “Four Jills In A Jeep”. In the film version, “Four Jills in a Jeep” (1944), you can get a glimpse of the kind of talent she really had, and which Fox was wasting.
Carole was a hostess at the Hollywood Canteen and she invited soldiers to her beach house every weekend. In June 1944 she began a U.S.O. tour with Jack Benny, singer Martha Tilton, harmonica player Larry Adler, and pianist June Bruner. During their camp shows Carole sang and jitterbugged with the boys. She spent much of her time visiting wounded soldiers and she wrote hundreds of letters to their families. Jack Benny said “You soon forgot she was Carole Landis, the sex symbol, the Hollywood star, the sweater girl, because she was a real human being and had a warm heart that spilled over with kindness”.
During their two month tour of the South Pacific Carole almost died when she contracted malaria and amoebic dysentery. She was hospitalized for weeks, lost 15 pounds, and suffered with these illnesses for the rest of her life. Carole became an Air Raid Warden, a commander in the Aerial Nurses Corps, and an honorary Colonel in the American Legion. She auctioned off her favorite opal ring to raise money and she donated several movie projectors to bases overseas. Carole traveled more than 125,000 miles during the war. She performed for soldiers in Australia, Brazil, Algeria, Bermuda, Scotland, England, New Guinea, Ireland, Guam, and New Zealand. Carole said “Whatever we do for soldiers can’t be enough in return for what they do for us. They are wonderful!”
By the middle 1940s her career was beginning to short-circuit. Her contract with 20th Century-Fox had been canceled, failed marriages to Willis Hunt Jr. and Thomas Wallace, her current marriage to Horace Schmidlapp on the skids, plus a battle with poor health spelled disaster for her professionally and personally. Her final two films were released in 1948, “Brass Monkey” (1948) and “Noose” (1948). On July 5, 1948, Carole committed suicide by taking an overdose of seconal in her Brentwood Heights, California, home. She was only 29 and had made 49 pictures, unfortunately, mostly forgettable ones. If Hollywood moguls had given Carole a good chance, she could have been one of the brightest stars in its history.
5′ 5″ (1.66 m)
The ‘Ping’ Girl
The Blonde Bomber
Carole protested strongly and publicly against the nonsensical nickname “Ping Girl” (apparently short for “purring”) coined by Hal Roach publicist Frank N. Seltzer in April 1940.
She knew how to fly a plane. Carole started taking flying lessons with her second husband Willis Hunt and got her pilots license in 1941. During World War 2 she flew for the Civilian Air Patrol.
In 1944 Carole appeared in ads for Chesterfield cigarettes. During her career she was also featured in ads for Lipton tea, Schaefer beer, Jergens lotion, Sinclair oil, and Nescafe coffee.
On her family’s official web site they claim that Carole’s death was not a suicide, they believe someone murdered her.
Myrna Williams, later to become Myrna Loy, was born on August 2, 1905 in Radersburg, Montana.Later on her family moved to Helena where she spent her youth. At the age of 13, Myrna’s father died of Spanish Flu and the rest of the family moved to Los Angeles.
She attended the Westlake School for Girls, in Los Angeles, where she caught the acting bug. She started at the age of 15 when she appeared in local stage productions in order to help support her family. Mrs. Rudolph Valentino happened to be in the audience one night who managed to pull some strings to get Myrna some parts in her first movies.
Her first film was a small part in the production of “What Price Beauty?” (1925). Later that same year she appeared in “Pretty Ladies” (1925) along with Joan Crawford.
She was one of the few stars tto start in the silent movies and make a successful transition into the sound era. In the silent films, Myrna would appear as an exotic femme fatale. Later in the sound era, she would become a refined, wholesome character.
Her big break came in 1926, when she appeared in the Warner Brothers film “Satan in Sables” (1925) which landed her a contract. Her first appearance as a contract player was “The Caveman” (1926) where she played a maid. Although she was typecast over and over again as a vamp, Myrna continued to stay busy with small parts. Finally, in 1927, she received star billing in “Bitter Apples”.
When her contract ran out with Warner Brothers she signed with MGM where she landed two classic roles. “The Prizefighter and the Lady” (1933), and the other as Nora Charles in “The Thin Man” (1934) with William Powell. After “The Thin Man” (1934), Myrna would appear in five more in the series. Myrna was now a big box-office draw. So much so that in 1936, she was named Queen of the Movies and Clark Gable the king in a nationwide poll of movie goers. Her popularity was at its zenith.
When war broke out Myrna donned a uniform when she joined the Hollywood Chapter of ‘Bundles for Bluejackets’ – helping to run a Naval Auxiliary Canteen and going on fund raising tours. Myrna set up entertainment programs for military hospitals in the Eastern United States, visiting many hospitals herself, where she was very moved by the plight of the soldiers she saw there.
She continued to make films through the 40s and 50s but the roles were fewer and fewer. By the 1960’s the parts had all but dried up as producers and directors looked elsewhere for talent. In 1960 she appeared in “Midnight Lace” (1960) and was not in another until 1969 in “The April Fools” (1969).
Myrna passed away during surgery, on December 14, 1993, in New York City at the age of 88, she had appeared in a phenomenal 129 motion pictures. She was buried in Helena, Montana.
Queen of Hollywood
The Perfect Wife
Queen of the Movies
Measurements: 35 1/2-26 1/2-33 1/2 (from MGM’s designer Adrian), (Source: Celebrity Sleuth magazine)
Height: 5′ 6″
Howland H. Sargeant (1 June 1951 – 31 May 1960) (divorced)
Gene Markey (3 January 1946 – 21 August 1950) (divorced)
John Hertz Jr. (6 June 1942 – 21 August 1944) (divorced)
Arthur Hornblow Jr. (27 June 1936 – 1 June 1942) (divorced)
Ann Miller was born Johnnie Lucille Ann Collier on April 12, 1923 in Chireno, Texas, the daughter of Clara Emma (nÃ©e Birdwell) and John Alfred Collier, a criminal lawyer who represented the Barrow Gang, Machine Gun Kelly, and Baby Face Nelson, among others. Miller’s maternal grandmother was Cherokee. Miller’s father insisted on the name Johnnie because he had wanted a boy, but she was often called Annie. She took up dancing to exercise her legs to help her rickets. She was considered a child dance prodigy.
At the age of 13 Ann had been hired as a dancer in the Black Cat Club in San Francisco (she had told them she was 18). It was there she was discovered by Lucille Ball and talent scoutcomic Benny Rubin. And in 1937, RKO asked her to sign on as a contract player, but only if she could prove she was 18. Though she was really barely 14, she managed to get hold of a fake birth certificate, and so was signed on, playing dancers and ingÃ©nues in such films as Stage Door (1937), You Can’t Take It with You (1938), Room Service (1938) and Too Many Girls (1940). In 1939 she appeared on Broadway in George White’s Scandals and was a smash, staying on for two years. Eventually RKO released her from her contract, but Columbia Pictures snapped her up to appear in such WW II morale boosters as True to the Army (1942) and Reveille with Beverly (1943). When she decided to get married, Columbia released her from her contract. The marriage was sadly unhappy and she was divorced in two years. This time MGM picked her up, showcasing her in such films as Easter Parade (1948), On the Town (1949), and Kiss Me Kate (1953). In the mid-’50s she asked to leave to marry again, and her request was granted. This marriage didn’t last long, either, nor did a third.
Ann Miller invented pantyhose in the 1940s as a solution to the problem of continual torn stockings during the filming of dance production numbers. The common practice had been to sew hosiery to briefs worn by Miller. If torn, the entire garment had to be removed and resewn with a new pair. At Ann’s request, hosiery was manufactured for her as a single pantyhose.
Ann was famed for her speed in tap dancing. Studio publicists concocted press releases claiming she could tap 500 times per minute, but in truth, the sound of ultra-fast 500 taps was looped in later. Because the stage floors were slick and slippery, she actually danced in shoes with rubber soles. Later she would loop the sound of the taps while watching the film and actually dancing on a tap board to match her steps in the film.
She was known, especially later in her career, for her distinctive appearance, which reflected a studio-era ideal of glamor massive black bouffant hair, heavy makeup with a slash of crimson lipstick, and fashions that emphasized her lithe figure and long dancer’s legs. Her film career effectively ended in 1956 as the studio system lost steam to television, but she remained active in the theater and on television. She starred on Broadway in the musical Mame in 1969, in which she wowed the audience in a tap number created just for her. In 1979 she astounded audiences in the Broadway show Sugar Babies with fellow MGM veteran Mickey Rooney, which toured the United States extensively after its Broadway run. In 1983 she won the Sarah Siddons Award for her work in Chicago theater.
She appeared in a special 1982 episode of The Love Boat, joined by fellow showbiz legends Ethel Merman, Carol Channing, Della Reese, Van Johnson, and Cab Calloway in a storyline that cast them as older relatives of the show’s regular characters. In 2001 she took her last role, playing Coco in auteur director David Lynch’s critically acclaimed Mulholland Drive. Her last stage performance was a 1998 production of Stephen Sondheim’s Follies, in which she played the hardboiled survivor Carlotta Campion and received rave reviews for her rendition of the anthemic I’m Still Here.
Ann Miller also performed a guest appearance on the TV series Home Improvement as a dance instructor to Tim and Jill. For her contribution to the motion picture industry, Ann Miller has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6914 Hollywood Blvd.
Ann was parodied on Saturday Night Live. She was played by Molly Shannon as a talk show host, with Debbie Reynolds (played by Cheri Oteri), on a show called Legs Up.
She died in Los Angeles, California on January 22, 2004 at the age of 80 from cancer, which had metastasized to her lungs, and was interred in the Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City, California.