Flashback: Hollywood Celebrates Christmas

Hollywood pioneer Mary Pickford makes Christmas official, 1920s.

Hollywood pioneer Mary Pickford (1892 – 1979) b. Gladys Smith, makes Christmas official, 1920s.

During Hollywood’s Golden Age, the studios, through newspapers,fan magazines, and trade publications, published photos of their stars celebrating Christmas. In this way, Hollywood — though founded by poor immigrant Jews — informed the public that the motion picture industry was in harmony with Christian America.

Seraphic Secret — Karen and I — are Orthodox Jews. We observe the Sabbath and eat only kosher food. Our lives and values are built around the Torah, written and oral. But we enjoy this season, and honor Christmas. We shudder at the relentless postmodern assault on this most Christian of holidays. We want America to remain a steadfastly Judeo-Christian country, for without G-d individual liberty vanishes, replaced, inevitably, by a powerful centralized state, a cult of personality and various forms of paganism, exemplified by the climate change (AKA the weather) fanatics.

We urge everyone to pray for the Christians who are being murdered, tortured and oppressed by genocidal  jihadists and barbaric Islamic law.

Here’s a sample of Hollywood and Christmas as it used to be.

Even Louise Brooks, a confirmed atheist, cooperated with Hollywood's Christmas spirit.

Even Louise Brooks (1906 – 1985), a confirmed atheist, cooperated with Hollywood’s Christmas spirit.

 

Jobyna Ralston 1899 –1967) co-starred with the great silent comedian Harold Lloyd in seven wonderful films.

Jobyna Ralston (1899 –1967) co-starred with the great silent comedian Harold Lloyd in seven wonderful films.

 

Silent star Marceline Day (1908 - 2000). Day is probably best recalled for her role as Sally Richards in the superb 1928 Buster Keaton comedy “The Cameraman.”

Silent star Marceline Day (1908 – 2000) b. Marceline Newlan, is probably best recalled for her role as Sally Richards in the superb 1928 Buster Keaton comedy “The Cameraman.”

 

Shirley Temple (1928 - 2014) gets into the Christmas spirit.

Shirley Temple (1928 – 2014) gets into the Christmas spirit. After her death a shocking number of obituaries made light of her post Hollywood career as an important conservative Republican activist. She was U.S. ambassador to Czechoslovakia from 1989 to 1992. Temple forged a particularly close relationships with Vaclav Havel. She is also credited with helping the Velvet Revolution against Communist tyranny by openly sympathizing with the anti-communist dissidents. Shirley Temple Black was a great actress and a great American. Seraphic Secret regularly screens her films for our grandchildren.

 

This is a silent film title from “It” (1927) the film that mad Clara Bow a Hollywood super star.

This is an intertitle from “It” (1927) the film that made Clara Bow (1905 – 1965) a Hollywood superstar.

 

Priscilla Lane (1915 - 1995) the youngest of the Lane sisters is best remembered for her roles in The Roaring Twenties (1939) co-starring with James Cagney and Humphrey Bogart; Saboteur (1942), an Alfred Hitchcock film in which she plays the heroine; and Arsenic and Old Lace (1944), in which she co-stars with Cary Grant.

Priscilla Lane (1915 – 1995) b. Priscilla Mullican, the youngest of the Lane sisters is best remembered for her roles in “The Roaring Twenties” (1939) with James Cagney and Humphrey Bogart, Alfred Hitchcock’s “Saboteur” (1942), and “Arsenic and Old Lace” (1944), in which she co-stars with Cary Grant.

 

Maureen O'Sullivan (1911- 1998) the Irish born actress is best known for playing the fetching Jane in the “Tarzan” series starring Johnny Weissmuller.

Maureen O’Sullivan (1911 – 1998)  decorates her personal Christmas tree. The Irish born actress is best known for playing the fetching Jane in six “Tarzan” movies starring Johnny Weissmuller produced between 1932 and 1942.

 

Rita Hayworth (1918 - 1987) strikes a uniquely chaste pose considering she was one of Hollywood's most alluring sex symbols.

Rita Hayworth (1918 – 1987) b. Margarita Carmen Cansino, strikes a surprisingly chaste pose considering she was one of Hollywood’s most alluring sex symbols.

 

Cyd Charisse, b. Tula Ellice Finklea (1922 - 2008), recovered from childhood polio to become a ballet dancer. Charisse went to Hollywood where she was paired with Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly; her films include “Singin' in the Rain” (1952), “The Band Wagon” (1953) and “Silk Stockings” (1957).

Cyd Charisse, b. Tula Ellice Finklea (1922 – 2008), recovered from childhood polio to become a ballet dancer. In Hollywood Charisse was paired with Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly. Her best films include “Singin’ in the Rain” (1952), “The Band Wagon” (1953) and “Silk Stockings” (1957).

 

Jayne Mansfield displays her, um, Christmas spirit.

Jayne Mansfield (1933 – 1967) b. Vera Jayne Palmer, displays her, um, Christmas spirit. Her best film is “Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?” (1957).

 

Brigitte Bardot (1934 - ) decorates her Christmas tree. BB is most famous for her starring role in the sexually charged 1957 drama “And God Created Woman.” Bardot starred in 47 films, most of them terrible. But she was probably the best known sex symbol of the 50s and 60s. Now, 80, Bardot is quite public in her opposition to the Islamization of France.

Brigitte Bardot (1934 – ) decorates her Christmas tree. BB is most famous for starring in the sexually charged 1957 drama “And God Created Woman.” Bardot starred in 47 films, most of them forgettable. But Seraphic Secret harbors great affection for her performance in “Shalako” (’68) a western shot in Spain with Sean Connery. Bardot was the reigning international sex symbol of the 50s and 60s. Now, 80, Bardot, an animal rights activist, is also quite vocal in her opposition to the Islamization of France.

Karen and I wish all our Christian friends a Merry Christmas.

I would be remiss if I did not link to a splendid Jewish Christmas gift. You have my personal guarantee that this item is awesome.

Also available from the Apple iTunes store.

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7 Comments

  1. Michael Kennedy
    Posted December 26, 2014 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

    Thank you, once again for great pics of classic Hollywood. Happy Boxing Day for those of your readers in Oz. My spirits are lifted when I can see this glorious singing. It is the spirit of the holidays or should be.

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  2. Bill Brandt
    Posted December 26, 2014 at 10:33 am | Permalink

    Robert – thank you for offering a little oasis on the Internet.

    Seeing Mary Pickford’s picture and how long she lived – of all the classic stars would she have been the one you would have liked to interview? Think of what she saw in the industry changes.

    I have to applaud Bridget Bardot’s courage – it takes a strong character to go against the grain of society.

    BTW I want to thank you for recommending “Friday Night Lights” – I am hooked on that series. And to think it was on NBC for 5 years and I wasn’t even aware of it.

    In an era of inexpensive (and mindless) reality shows I have pretty much given up on the networks.

    But that show – takes you to a small Texas town and for awhile you are part of it. Never understood the “religion” of High School football until seeing this series.

    As a friend says virtually all TV shows these days (that aren’t “reality” shows) are one of 3 things or a combination: cops, lawyers, or doctors. FNL was a refreshing difference (it just ended, so I understand).

    Another series I discovered you might like is Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries. Set in 1929 Melbourne and staring Essie Davis, the historical research, the costumes, screenwriting (IMO) and acting are all superb.

    Didn’t know the late 20s were so vibrant.

    On Netflix streaming.

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  3. Alemaster
    Posted December 25, 2014 at 7:17 pm | Permalink

    Thanks, Mr Avrech, and the warmest “Season’s Greetings” and the “Happiest of New Years” to Mrs Avrech, you, and your entire family. regards, Alemaster

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  4. covvie
    Posted December 25, 2014 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for the kind wishes, Robert. As one of Jewish descent from a family of Levii, serving as a Christian minister, I so appreciate my heritage and my Orthodox great-grandparents’ decision to brave much to leave the Ukraine in 1891 so as to have freedom and life itself in Britain and then the USA. I hope Chanukkah was blessed to you, a man I am sure would be my friend were we acquainted more than over the internet.

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  5. Robert J. Avrech
    Posted December 25, 2014 at 5:42 am | Permalink

    Names were changed to get rid of identifiable ethnicity (unless the actor was an ethnic type) for a more harmonious sound; so the number of letters could fit comfortably on a marquee. Also to avoid duplication. For instance a British actor born James Stewart changed his name to Stewart Granger so as not to be confused with the American Jimmy Stewart who was actually born James Stewart.

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    • Larry
      Posted December 25, 2014 at 10:21 am | Permalink

      To the best of my knowledge, Cagney and Stewart always had their credits as James, but friends called them Jimmy.

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  6. Posted December 25, 2014 at 4:50 am | Permalink

    Happy day!
    I generally gloss over your Hollywood posts, oddly preferring your depressing takes on politics and other bad things but, in today’s post I noticed the “b.” (born as) and that was interesting.
    And, a ray of hope – as bad as things have gotten, our Capitol still has a national Christmas tree!
    Life is beautiful all the time.

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