vintage, nostalgia and memories

November 19, 2017

Elsie Ferguson: One of the Most Beautiful Actresses in Edwardian Era

Starting as a 17 year old chorus girl, American stage and film actress Elsie Louise Ferguson (1885-1961) progressed through a number of productions to become a leading lady and Broadway star by 1909.

In 1917 with some persuasion in the form of a $5,000 a week contract, Elsie Ferguson began acting in films. Her salary at Paramount paid her an extra $1,000 per day of filming. After appearing in about 25 films she returned to the stage. She did however make one final sound film in 1930. Her final appearance on Broadway was in 1943.

She was married four times, firstly to estate agent Frederick Chamberlain Hoey (1865-1933) in 1908, they divorced in 1914. She then married banker Thomas Benedict Clarke (1877-1858) in 1916 they divorced in 1923. Thirdly she married actor and co-star Frederick George Worlock (1886-1973) in 1924, they divorced in 1930. Lastly she married British naval captain Victor Augustus Seymour Egan (1875-1956) in 1934 until his death in 1956.

Elsie died in 1961 in New London, Connecticut at the age of 76.

Take a look at these glamorous pictures to see the beauty of Elsie Ferguson when she was at the peak of her career.

Vintage Casts Portrait Photos From Tod Browning’s 1932 Cult Classic ‘Freaks’

Freaks has earned its place in history as one of the all-time great cult films, though it wasn’t always beloved. The film was reviled by both critics and audiences upon release in 1932.

While it may have been seen as taboo at most had it been released within the past 10 or so years, its release in the early 20th century was met with horror and led to such a reaction that it was banned in the U.K. for 30 years and it was pulled before its domestic run was over, the only film from MGM to ever do so. In fact, such was the outrage and disdain – as well as financial loss for the studio – that director Tod Browning, who directed the 1931 Dracula, would basically lose his career. Whereas he was once making several films per year, he only made four more films over seven years after Freaks.

While we expect the titular characters to be the monsters, it turns out that the opposite is true. The freaks in the film are the ones who are wronged, who are vilified just for being different. This discrimination wasn’t just a response from audiences upon seeing the film, it began in production. According to anecdotes, actors and studio folk would leave the cafeteria in disgust when the “freaks” would come in for their meals. Additionally, a woman threatened to sue the studio when she claimed that she suffered a miscarriage after participating in a test screening.

Originally running around 90 minutes, the film was cut extensively and the original version has been lost, never to be found again. The final version that we are able to watch these days clocks in at just over an hour, which leaves people wondering what Browning’s original vision looked like.

While we can’t see Freaks the way it was intended to be, there are some gorgeous cast portraits that show the stars of the film in stunning clarity which have been collected by Decaying Hollywood and presented for you below.

Jenny Lee & Elvira Snow

Daisy and Violet Hilton

Francis O’Connor

Francis O’Connor

Guests at the Banquet

The Story Behind the Photo of 10-Year-Old Japanese Boy Carries His Deceased Brother to a Cremation Pyre, 1945

This heart rending photo was taken by Joe O’Donnell, who was sent by the U.S. military to document the horrors inflicted upon the Japanese by air raids and atomic bombs in 1945.

In this photo, the little boy had bought his brother to a cremation spot. He was barefooted and in perhaps trying to play the role of oldest functioning family member left remaining, he was clearly copying the stand-to-attention stance he would have seen amongst the warring uniformed adults.

Joe O’Donnell in his words:
“I saw a boy about ten years old walking by. He was carrying a baby on his back. In those days in Japan, we often saw children playing with their little brothers or sisters on their backs, but this boy was clearly different. I could see that he had come to this place for a serious reason. He was wearing no shoes. His face was hard. The little head was tipped back as if the baby were fast asleep. 
“The boy stood there for five or ten minutes. The men in white masks walked over to him and quietly began to take off the rope that was holding the baby. That is when I saw that the baby was already dead. The men held the body by the hands and feet and placed it on the fire. 
“The boy stood there straight without moving, watching the flames. He was biting his lower lip so hard that it shone with blood. The flame burned low like the sun going down. The boy turned around and walked silently away.”

Rarely Seen Photos of World War I Taken by an American Doctor

Dr. P.A. Smithe was sent by the American Red Cross as a doctor and surgeon to work at a hospital in Vienna. He sailed to Europe in December 1915 and returned home in August 1916, according to his daughter, who donated his images to the National World War I Museum.

Along the way he photographed what he saw in those months, before the Unites States declared war in 1917 against several of the countries whose troops Smithe photographed the most. The images are part of the collections of The National World War I Museum in Kansas City, Missouri.

On July 28, 1914 the Austro-Hungarian Empire declared war on Serbia, which escalated into World War I.

Turkish soldiers ride in horse-drawn carts, still a frequently used means of transportation at the time.

Injured French soldiers standing outside the American Red Cross hospital at Vienna.

Civilians at the Ruhleben Prisoner of War camp. Caption on back: Smithe writes “A typical scene from the Ruhleben Concentration Camp for Englishmen: Glimpse of the theatre hall for English civilian prisoners at Ruhleben. In addition to theatre and music hall performances, as well as concerts, moving picture shows are held in this hall”.

German soldiers escort French soldiers at a prisoner of war camp.

Austrian soldiers with large artillery.

November 18, 2017

Interesting Vintage Snapshots and Studio Poses of African Americans From the Mid-20th Century

Representation of Black people in popular and vernacular culture throughout the last two centuries has been chiefly at the hand of White people. Without an outlet to represent one's self, the Black image took on generations of unfair interpretation, making snapshots of Black private life treasured tokens of American vernacular history today. Included here are snapshots from the collection of Robert E. Jackson, a wide range of images spanning from intimate and casual, to formal and solemn, from photo booths to color polaroids.

Though photography was invented in 1839, and by the 1870s it was a rather mobile process, depictions of Blacks in photographs were rare and largely controlled by Whites. It’s not until the twentieth century that snapshots and studio portraiture become more accessible and the Black person enters the vernacular tapestry of America through self-representation. However, this growing access to casual photography also resulted in an increased circulation of degrading images, such as harrowing depictions of lynchings, for example, which circulated as photo postcards.

These interesting vintage photos of African Americans are from the collection of Robert E. Jackson:
“I collect beautiful and compelling images in all photo mediums and am honored to be able to share some of my collection of African American photos, both snapshots and studio poses. I am drawn to faces and a visual narrative which evoke some sort of strong emotion. These photos are no exception. They speak to the singularity of all of our lives—to the beauty of love, of laughter, of simply living. And for some of the people depicted here, life was likely not easy or carefree. But there is something which these photos elicit—some sort of universal pride or endurance which makes them approachable and knowable. And ultimately timeless.”


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