Ava Gardner combines patriotism with cheesecake. The dolls she cradles are wearing military uniforms.
The photos seem to be from another planet, or at least a parrallel universe.
It was not so long ago that Hollywood was institutionally patriotic. Studio photos always included an Independence Day shot, frequently an innocent piece of cheesecake. Because what’s more American than igniting fireworks while wearing a bathing suit.
L.B. Mayer of MGM did not know his birthday—common for Jews born in the Pale of Settlement—and so the powerful studio chief symbolically adopted July 4 as his own and threw America and himself a huge birthday party on the studio lot. Everyone was expected to attend. Only Greta Garbo, the great narcissist, refused to attend.
Here’s a sample of studio shots celebrating America’s birth.
Marion Shilling starred in dozens of B westerns from 1930-’36. Here, she shows off patriotic silk stockings.
No star worked harder at being a star than Joan Crawford. Whereas most actors endured publicity photo shoots as a necessary chore, Crawford understood that without her fans she was nothing.
Madge Evans started her career in the silent era as a child actress. She transitioned into ingenue roles and MGM signed her to a contract. She usually played the good girl. In 1939 she married playwright Sidney Kingsley and retired to raise a family. You might have seen her in the classic 1935 version of “David Copperfield” where she plays Agnes.
This was not the pin-up photo that helped catapult Rita Hayworth to mega stardom. The Freudian implications of this photo are, sigh, comical.
Marian Marsh (b.Violet Ethelred Krauth) was chosen by philandering alcoholic superstar John Barrymore to play Trilby in the 1931 “Svengali.” With her sweet innocence it was a role to which she was perfectly suited. She also starred opposite Edward G. Robinson in the excellent “Five Star Final,” 1934. And in 1935 she appeared with Peter Lorre as Sonya, the kind-hearted prostitute in Josef von Sternberg’s “Crime and Punishment.” Here, Marian visits the Liberty Bell.
Is there an actress with more photos documenting her rise to stardom than Marilyn Monroe? Like Joan Crawford, MM understood the value of publicity and used the still photos to advance her career.
Of course, there was no greater Hollywood patriot than the Depression era’s most potent sex symbol Betty Boop.
Karen and I wish all our friends a happy and patriotic July 4th. As Jews we understand that America has blessed us with unequaled freedom and opportunity for which we are deeply grateful.