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.”
Evelyn Ankers, a beautiful movie actress who was a staple of Universal’s horror films in the 1940s, was born in Valparaiso, Chile to English parents on August 17th, 1918. Her parents repatriated the family back to England in the 1920s, and it was in Old Blighty that Ankers developed a desire to become an actress.
She began appearing in small roles in English movies in the mid 1930s while she was still in school. She appeared in “Fire Over England” (1937) with Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh and in “Bells of St. Mary’s” (1937). A beauty with talent, she soon won starring roles in the low-budget “The Villiers Diamond” (1938) and “The Claydon Treasure Mystery” (1938).
With war clouds darkening the skies over Europe, Ankers emigrated to the United States and was signed to a contract by Universal in 1940. She made her Universal debut in the Abbot and Costello comedy-horror picture “Hold That Ghost” (1941) before appearing in the horror film classic “The Wolf Man” (1941) opposite Lon Chaney, Jr. Ankers found herself cast into the horror picture ghetto, appearing in two more Chaney fright films, “The Ghost of Frankenstein” (1942) and “The Frozen Ghost” (1945) during a period in which she was cast ashore with a sarong-less Jon Hall in “The Invisible Man’s Revenge” (1944). She also appeared in support of Basil Rathbone’s Sherlock Holmes in “The Voice of Terror” (1942) and “The Pearl of Death” (1944).
Ankers married B-movie hunk Richard Denning in 1942 and made a go articulating the anxieties of the home front while her husband was off to war. Horror flicks were popular during World War II, but after the cessation of hostilities in 1945, they went out of favor with audiences. Ankers’ career, mated to the genre at Universal, suffered.
She quit Universal in 1945 and freelanced at Columbia and Poverty Row’s Producers Releasing Corporation (PRC) and Republic Pictures in dramas and mysteries. Evelyn co-starred with her returned husband Richard in the major release “Black Beauty” (1946) for 20th Century Fox. For PRC, she headlined “Queen of Burlesque” (1946) and later co-starred with Lex Barker in “Tarzan’s Magic Fountain” (1949).
As the 1950s dawned, a decade of conformity and family values, Ankers quit the movies for married life and motherhood after making “The Texan Meets Calamity Jane” (1950), in which she was first-billed. She was 32 years old. A decade later, Ankers came out of retirement to make one final screen appearance, in her hubby’s “No Greater Love” (1960).
Evelyn Ankers died of ovarian cancer on August 29, 1985 in Haiku, Maui, Hawaii, twelve days after her 67th birthday.
Height: 5′ 8″ (1.73 m)
She was called “Queen of the Screamers” on account of her blood-curdling vocal outbursts in “B” suspense thrillers of the ’40s.
Ankers was engaged to actor Glenn Ford, but Ankers broke the engagement when she met Richard Denning while Ford was on location.
Evelyn’s husband, Richard Denning, had a recurring role on Hawaii Five-O as the governor of Hawaii from 1968-80. Sadly, Evelyn never put in appearance as the First Lady of the Aloha State even though she’d been offered the role. She was quite contented with retirement.
Buried at Maui Veterans Cemetery, Makawao, Hawaii next to her husband Richard Denning, who served in the US Navy during WWII and served on a submarine as Yeoman 1st Class in the South Pacific.
Known as “The Polka Dot Girl” of World War II pinups, Chili Williams (born Marian Sorenson Uhlman on December 18, 1922) was discovered by a modeling agent in 1943 at Fire Island in New York. The modeling agent’s photographer, Ewing Krainin, took her picture while she was frolicking in the Atlantic Ocean surf, and a series of photos appeared in the September 27, 1943 issue of LIFE Magazine.
Krainin had stitched together a black-and-white polka-dot dance-set (which would later come to be known as the “bikini”) for her. The photos were so well received, that 100,000 fans sent in letters requesting copies. The pinups eventually found their way into the hands of homesick GI’s fighting during the final phases of World War II.
She signed a movie contract later in 1944 and moved to Hollywood, California, where she appeared appeared in 17 films, including the wartime favorites “Girl Rush” (1944), “The Falcon In Hollywood” (1944), “George White’s Scandals” (1945), “Johnny Angel” (1945), “Wonder Man” (1945), and “Having A Wonderful Crime” (1945). Chili died on October 17, 2003 in California.
Janis Carter was born Janis Dremann on October 10, 1913 in Cleveland, Ohio. Â After graduating with two degrees (Arts and Music) from Mather College (Western Reserve) in Cleveland in 1935, Janis headed to New York with aspirations of embarking on a musical career in opera. Â Supporting herself by waitressing, singing in churches, modeling (Conover) and writing radio scripts, an audition with the Met came along. However, a case of nerves assured her failure and an end to that ambition. Â Landing on her feet, she got a part in the Broadway musical, “I Married An Angel”. Â “DuBarry Was A Lady” soon followed and then “Panama Hattie” in which she had a solo number.
Darryl Zanuck of 20th Century Fox attended the opening night and was impressed enough with Janis to offer her a contract. Â She arrived in Hollywood in February, 1941, and stayed for 12 years making more than 30 movies for 20th Century Fox, MGM, Columbia, and RKO. Â She appeared in the films “Night Editor” (1946) and “Framed” (1947) with Glenn Ford and the “Flying Leathernecks” (1951) with John Wayne.
She was married to Carl Prager from 1942 to 1951, but divorced him.
After leaving Hollywood for good, Janis headed back to New York and began a career working in television. She acted in numerous shows, both drama and comedy, and in 1954 became the hostess of the NBC quiz show, “Feather Your Nest”, working with Bud Collyer.
In 1956, Janis married Julius Stulman and retired from show business. They remained together until her death. With the same enthusiasm she had shown in other areas of her life, she involved herself in cultural activities of her community serving in various capacities throughout the years, primarily in Sarasota, Florida. She died from a heart attack, on July 30, 1994, aged 80, in Durham, North Carolina.
Height: 5′ 7″ (1.70 m)
Julius Stulman (1956 – 1994)
Carl Prager (1942 – 1951) (divorced)
1936 – ? Models as a Conover Girl and is one of the first ten models to sign with the new John Robert Powers Agency in New York.
1938 is in advertisements for Raleigh cigarettes and Ipana Toothpaste.
Chosen “1946 Motion Picture Sweater Girl” at the National Knitted Outerwear Association convention in New York City.
She was born Ramsay Phillips on March 30, 1921 in Brooklyn, New York (her reported year of birth varies from 1921 to 1924, depending on the source), and was a student athlete (especially excelling as a swimmer) in high school.
She attended the Walter Hillhouse School of Dance, specializing in Latin-style dance, and also took up singing, becoming the vocalist with a top rhumba band. She later became part of a dance team under the name Ramsay Del Rico, and appeared as a model at the Eastman Kodak-sponsored fashion show at the 1939 New York World’s Fair. A back injury sidelined her from dancing and fate intervened: in the course of a trip to California to visit her mother, she had a chance meeting at the airport with Harry Cohn. He was the president of Columbia Pictures and the meeting resulted in a screen test and then her 1943 movie debut, “Two Senoritas From Chicago” (1943). From there she moved to Universal, where she was cast in key roles in movies such as “The Mummy’s Ghost”, in which she was the hapless modern victim of the ancient curse of Kharis the Mummy, and major supporting parts in pictures like “Calling Dr. Death” (1943), “Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves” (1944), and “Follow the Boys” (1944).
With her dark good looks and statuesque, athletic yet attractive physique, Ames was ideal in portrayals of exotic roles, such as the Egyptian student in her Mummy movie and the French and Latin women she often got to play. She was also good in physically demanding action roles. During the mid-’40s, she made a pair of Cisco Kid movies with Gilbert Roland, “The Gay Cavalier” (1946) and “Beauty and the Bandit” (1946). In the first, Ames is credited in some sources with co-authoring one of the songs, and in the second, she brought a good deal of fire and humor to a script that, for the first half, resembled a cowboy version of “As You Like It”.
Ames had small roles in major movies like “Mildred Pierce” (1945) and the epic-length “Green Dolphin Street” (1947), but by the second half of the 1940s she was locked into B-features such as PRC’s low-budget “Philo Vance Returns” (1947) and was also working at Republic in serials such as “The Black Widow” (1947) and “G-Men Never Forget” (1948). She gave up acting and Hollywood at the end of the 1940s and for many years lived in Spain, where she had her own television interview show and occasionally took acting roles in films produced in Europe. Her later movies included the features “Alexander the Great” (1956) and Carol Reed’s 1963 thriller “The Running Man”. She returned to the United States in the early ’60s and was married to playwright Dale Wasserman, best known for Man of La Mancha, until their divorce in 1980. She died of lung cancer on March 30, 1998 in Santa Monica, California.
Claire Trevor was born Claire Wemlinger on March 8, 1910 in the Bensonhurst section of Brooklyn, the only child of Fifth Avenue merchant-tailor Noel Wemlinger, an immigrant Frenchmen from Paris who lost his business during the Depression, and his Belfast-born wife Betty. Trevor’s interest in acting began when she was 11 years old. She attended high school in Mamaroneck, NY. After starting classes at Columbia University, she spent six months at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, also in New York. Her adult acting experience began in the late 1920s in several stock productions. Her professional stage debut came with Robert Henderson’s Repertory Players in Ann Arbor, MI, in 1930. That same year she signed with Warner Bros. Not too far from her home haunts was Brooklyn-based Vitagraph Studios, the last and best of the early sound process studios, which had been acquired by Warner Bros. in 1925 to become Vitaphone. Trevor appeared in several of the nearly 2000 shorts cranked out by the studio between 1926 and 1930. Then she was sent west to do ten weeks of stock productions with other contract players in St. Louis. In 1931 she did summer stock with the Hampton Players in Southampton, Long Island. Finally, she debuted on Broadway in 1932 in “Whistling in the Dark”.
She moved to the feature screen, debuting in the western “Life in the Raw” (1933). There would be three more films (another western) that year and six or more through the 1930s. Though Trevor had been typed playing gun molls and hardcase women of the world, she displayed her already considerable versatility in these early films, as often playing competent, take-charge professional women as she did shady ladies. There was a disappointed-pout-vulnerability in her face and that famous slightly New York-burred voice that cracked with a little cry when heightened by emotion that quickly revealed an unusual and sensitive performer. Many of her early films were “B” potboilers, but she worked with Spencer Tracy on several occasions, notably “Dante’s Inferno” (1935). Hollywood finally took notice of her talents by nominating her for a Best Support Actress Oscar for her standout performance as a good girl raised in the slums who is forced by poverty to turn to prostitution in “Dead End” (1937), opposite ‘Humphrey Bogart’. That year she did the radio drama “Big Town” with Edward G. Robinson, then teamed with he and Bogart again for the slightly hokey but entertaining “The Amazing Dr. Clitterhouse” (1938). Director John Ford tapped her for his first big sound western, “Stagecoach” (1939), the film that made a star of John Wayne. All her abilities to bring complexity to a character showed in “Stagecoach” as the kicked-around dance hall girl ‘Dallas’, one of her great early female roles. She and Wayne were electric, and they were paired in three more films during their careers, “Allegheny Uprising” (1939), and again in 1940 in “Dark Command”. Over a decade later, she would again costar with Wayne, gaining her final Oscar nomination for “The High and the Mighty” (1954).
In the 1940s Trevor began appearing in the genre that brought her to true stardom, known as “film noir”. She started in a big way as killer Ruth Dillon in “Street of Chance” (1942) with Burgess Meredith. She was equally convincing as the more complex but nonetheless two-faced Mrs. Grayle in the Philip Marlowe vehicle “Murder, My Sweet” (1944). However, she was something very different and quite extraordinary as washed-up, boozy nightclub singer Gaye Dawn in “Key Largo” (1948), for which she won an Academy Award, again working with Bogart and Robinson. The film hangs on her wrenching performance during a pathetic rendition of the torch song “Moanin’ Low”, sung in humiliation to gain a desperately wanted drink. There were more quality movies and an additional Academy nomination for “The High and the Mighty” (1954) into the 1950s, but Trevor was also doing stage and television. She was enthusiastic about live TV and appeared on several famous shows by the mid-1950s. She won an Emmy for Best Live Television Performance by an Actress as the flighty wife of Fredric March in “Dodsworth” (1956) on NBC’s “Producers’ Showcase” (1954). She alternated her career among film, stage and TV roles. As she aged she easily transitioned into “distinguished matron” and mother roles, one of her most unusual ones being the murderous Ma Barker in an episode of the gun-blasting “The Untouchables” (1959). Her final film role was as Sally Field’s mother in “Kiss Me Goodbye” (1982).
Trevor and her third husband, producer Milton H. Bren, had long been residents of tiny Newport Beach, CA, to which they returned in 1987 when Trevor finally retired from screen work. However, she did maintain an active interest in stage work, and became associated with The School of Arts at the University of California, Irvine. She and her husband contributed some $10 million to further its development for the visual and performing arts (that included three endowed professorships). After her death, the University renamed the school The Claire Trevor School of the Arts. Her presence on the UCI campus is in more than spirit alone-visibly so-her Oscar for “Key Largo” stands in an exterior glass window on view in the school’s Arts Plaza complex.
Claire Trevor died of respiratory failure in Newport Beach, April 8, 2000 at the age of 90.