Monthly Archives: November 2012

Photography: How Was Your Thankgiving?

It’s over for another year. Your family has finally gone home. The damage to your heart and liver is complete.  Now you just need a good nap and maybe a Bloody Mary to cut the edge. Get rested up ‘cuz Christmas is right around the corner. Now go wait in line at Walmart for that TV you don’t need.

Design: All Black Cast Movie Posters, 1930’s – 1950

Often called Race Films, these all-black cast pictures were specifically marketed to black audiences (really?), from about 1915 to 1950, effectively stopping with the Hollywood Antitrust Case of 1948.

In all, approximately five hundred race films were produced. Of these, fewer than one hundred remain. Because race films were produced outside the Hollywood Studio System, they have been largely forgotten by mainstream film historians. The ironic bit being that the vast majority of these pictures were written, produced and directed by white folk. Some black-owned studios existed, including Lincoln Motion Picture Co and most notably the Chicago-based Micheaux Film Corporation, which operated from 1918 – 1940. On the posters, Micheaux advertised that his films were scripted and produced exclusively by African Americans.

In the South, to comply with segregation laws, race movies were screened at designated black theaters. Though northern cities were not formally segregated, race films were generally shown in theaters in black neighborhoods. Many large northern theaters incorporated special balconies reserved for blacks.

While it was rare for race films to be shown to white audiences, white theaters often reserved special time-slots for black moviegoers. This resulted in race films often being screened as matinees and midnight shows shows. During the height of their popularity, race films were shown in as many as 1,100 theaters around the country.


Bronze Buckaroo – “All Negro Western” 1939

Hi De Ho starring Cab Calloway – 1947

Hi De Ho – Lobby Card

House Rent Party – Starring Pigmeat Markham – 1946

Mantan Messes Up – Starring Mantan Moreland – 1946

The Bronze Venus – Starring Lena Horne – 1946

Boarding House Blues – 1948

Juke Joint – Lobby Card 1947

Harlem Rides the Range – 1939

Mr. Washington Goes to Town – 1941

Swing – 1938

Cabin in the Sky – Lobby Card – 1943

Joe Louis, The Fight Never Ends – 1949

Reet, Petite and Gone – Starring Louis Jordan  – 1947

Return of Mandys Husband – 1948

The Jackie Robinson Story – 1950

Photography: Burlesque Pt. 6

Always a crowd pleaser. The ladies of burlesque are beautiful, sexy and way ahead of their time. These photos come from the excellant site Check it out, hundreds of great vintage burlesque and striptease shots.

1955 New York City – Striptease Dolls & Burlesk Beauties

Gay Dawn

Candy Barr – The Sugar & Spice Girl

Diane Ross and her Monkey Squeaky

“Flaming” Mamie Stover – The Female Firecracker

Gilda and her Crowning Glory (?)

Yvette Dare and her Macaw Lippy

Rose La Rose – Off Work

Donna Mae “Busty” Brown

Gay Dawn – Part 2

Lilly Christine

Jada – World’s Hottest Exotic

Lily Ayers – aka. Icel Condon

Mitzi Doré

Libby Jones – The Park Avenue Playgirl


Design: Public Health Campaign – Taiwan 1959

These were from a campaign to make children aware of health issues, such as washing up before meals, getting plenty of sleep, brushing your teeth, etc. What’s amazing is, that for the most part, without understanding the language all these messages are pretty clear, simply through the great illustrations. There are a couple of ringers though. The last one is a bit confusing – is it telling us to “wash your hands after you wipe your butt and before meals”?  Posters 9 & 12 tell us that mosquitoes were apparently a big problem for the Taiwanese children of the 1950’s ‘so keep plenty of DDT around the house’, one assumes… Malaria? The rest are clear as a bell, ‘go to sleep early’, ‘get plenty of exercise’, ‘don’t get Tuberculosis’ … everything a child needs to know to stay healthy.
As pure design they’re equally great. The very slightly off-register 3 color printing is beautiful and the illustration and layout is wonderful – simple, clean and to-the-point.

The Art of Packaging: Linder Casket Calendar – 2011

One of the main tenants of good design is to be appropriate to the item or service. So right-off-the-bat, we’re in foreign territory here. I’ve got nothing against design that is shocking, nor am I offended by these. In fact I find it hilarious. It  does seem to have worked in terms of promotion because now I (and you) know about a casket manufaturer in Poland.

The company intends to garner publicity and generate revenue with its erotic calendar.  “My son had the idea of creating the company’s calendar, said the companys owner Zbigniew Lindner, so that we could show something half-serious, colorful, beautiful; the beauty of Polish girls and the beauty of our coffins.   Linder hopes the sexual pictures will distance the coffin from theological significance in the minds of customers, who will also receive a complementary casket-shaped key ring, reported Reuters.  “We wanted to show that a coffin isn’t a religious symbol. Its a product,” said Lindner. “Why are people afraid of coffins and not of business suits, cosmetics or jewelry?”

This particular 2011 calendar is supposed to be related to famous movie scenes, somehow, but for the life of me I can’t figure out which is which. Jan. might be The Godfather and April could possibly be Resevoir Dogs – maybe.














The Death of James Dean and the Curse of the Little Bastard

It’s not the anniversary  – that happened on Sept 30th. It’s  just an interesting, albeit tragic story worth telling again. With only 3 movies under belt (Rebel Without a Cause, East of Eden & Giant – only ‘Rebel..’ having been released) James Dean’s career was on the rise – his death made him an icon.  Here’s what happened;

On September 30, 1955, James Dean was driving his new Porsche 550 Spyder to a rally in Salinas, CA. Originally planning to tow the Porsche, Dean changed his mind at the last minute and decided to drive instead. While Dean and Rolf Wuetherich (Dean’s mechanic) rode in the Porsche, Dean had photographer Sanford Roth and friend Bill Hickman follow him in his Ford station wagon, which had a trailer for the Spyder attached.

En route to Salinas, Dean was pulled over by police officers near Bakersfield for speeding around 3:30 p.m. Two hours later, around 5:30 p.m., they were driving westbound on Highway 466 (now called State Route 46), when a 1950 Ford Tutor pulled out in front of them. Twenty-three-year-old Donald Turnupseed, who was driving the Ford, has been traveling east on Highway 466 and was attempting to make a left turn onto Highway 41. Unfortunately, Turnupseed had already started to make his turn before he saw the roaring Porsche traveling quickly toward him. Without time to turn, the two cars smashed nearly head-on.

Turnupseed, the driver of the Ford, only received minor injuries from the accident. Rolf Wuetherich, the passenger in the Porsche, was lucky to be thrown from the Porsche and suffered serious head injuries and a broken leg, but survived the crash. James Dean, however, was killed in the accident. Deans’ last words, “That guy’s gotta stop. . . He’ll see us.”

Many fans wonder what happened to the smashed Porsche. After the accident, the crumpled car was toured around the United States as part of a driver safety presentation. However, en route between two stops, the car disappeared. In 2005, Volo Auto Museum in Volo, Illinois offered $1 million to anyone who currently had the car. So far, the car has not resurfaced.

With Rolf Weuterich

The Last Photo

Donald Turnupseed’s 1950 Ford Tudor

Little Bastard on display – by The Greater LA Safety Council

The Curse of the Little Bastard
Famous car cutomizer George Barrispaid $2,500 for the wreckage with the intent of parting it out. However, a string of bizarre tragedies immediately struck. As soon as the vehicle was delivered to Barris’ garage, it slipped off its trailer and broke a mechanic’s leg.

  • Shortly thereafter, Barris sold the engine to Troy McHenry and the drive train to William Eschrid. Both were physicians and racing hobbyists. While racing at the Pomona fairgrounds on October 24, 1956, McHenry was killed when his vehicle spun out of control and crashed into a tree. Eschrid’s race car rolled several times while taking a curve, seriously injuring him. He later said that the vehicle ‘just locked up’ on him.
  • Two tires that Barris sold malfunctioned simultaneously, causing the car they were on to go off the road.
  • A young man who was attempting to steal the steering wheel had his arm gashed open on a piece of jagged metal.
  • Another man was hurt while trying to steal one of the bloodstained seats.

At this point, Barris decided that the car would be safer in storage. But the California Highway Patrol persuaded him to loan them the car for a traveling safety exhibition.

  • The mangled remains of Little Bastard were taken to a garage in Fresno, and stored there. Then, in March 1959, a fire broke out in the garage. The garage itself, and everything stored within, were incinerated. All except for the wreckage of James Dean’s car.
  •  At a display at Sacramento High School on the anniversary of Dean’s accident, the bolts holding the car in place snapped. The car plowed off its display and broke the hip of a fifteen-year-old boy who had been looking at the wreckage.
  • En route to Salinas, the truck hauling the vehicle lost control, causing the driver to fall out of the cab. Although the fall from the vehicle didn’t kill him, the Porsche fell off the truck bed and landed on top of him, ending his life.

In 1960, the car’s tour ended. Barris had the vehicle loaded onto a box car in Florida and sealed shut. Then it was transported via train back to California. When the train arrived in L.A., the seal was still intact, yet the car had vanished, and has not been seen since.

With fans on the set of East of Eden