Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Ooodles of pulchitrude and other clippings

Despite this being a national holiday (Groundhogs Day) for some, I spent the morning at the San Francisco Public Library. A couple of inter-library loans were waiting for me. I had requested microfilm of two newspapers from Springfield, Missouri in hopes of tracking down reviews of the Denishawn performance there in January, 1924. The Springfield Republican turned-out to be a goldmine of articles, images, advertisements, and a review. The paper ran six articles in advance of the performance, and each carried a picture eithor of Ruth St. Denis or of the Denishawn company. One depicted Louise Brooks. Very nifty! TheSpringfield Daily Leader, on the other hand, did not run a review. And only ran two short articles on the Denishawn company on the page devoted to "Automobile News." Very odd!

I also found some Denishawn material in the Times-Union, from Albany, New York. Denishawn performed there in April, 1924. And this would be one of Brooks' last performances with the company. The Times-Union ran a review, and article in advance, some ads, and a write-up in Marie Avery Myers local column, "Dramatic Driftwood." All together nothing outstanding, but good to have for the record.

Along with the Denishawn-period microfilm, I also requested reels from late 1925 and early 1926 in hopes of scoring some film reviews from Albany. Unfortunately, the Times-Union (a Hearst paper ?) was a third rate publication. I found advertisements, listings and very brief notices for three Brooks' films - though they are hardly worth citing in the bibliographies. The problem with the Times-Union was that it just was not a very good newspaper, editorially speaking. I've seen better papers from much smaller towns.

However, while scanning the September, 1925 Times-Union for material on a local screening of The Street of Forgotten Men, I did come across a number of articles on the Miss America beauty contest, which was then being held in Atlantic City, New Jersey. (The contest was the background for Brooks' second film,The American Venus.) "Prettiest Girls Vie for Title" one article was headlined, as it detailed the field of beauties. Others spoke of the controversy surrounding the contest. "Miss Pittsburgh" and "Miss Erie" withdrew from the affair, charging that two of the entrants were professional beauties. One of those two entrants turned out to be "Miss Manhattan" - Dorothy Knapp, who was Brooks' friend in the Ziegfeld Follies. Others objected "to an attempt which they said was made by another judge, a motion picture producer, to compel them to sign contracts to appear in the movies if crowned Miss America." Hmmmm.

One article I found mentions a personal appearance by actors Ernest Torrence and Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., each of whom had roles in The American Venus. The contest, of course, was won by San Francisco's own "Miss California," Fay Lanphier. She would star in The American Venus. Hmmmm. While looking through all this interesting material, I also came across this captioned photo. It is offered here for your viewing pleasure.

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