Wednesday, November 30, 2005

On this day in 1925, first reports of the so-called 'draped nudes'

On this day in 1925, first reports of the so-called 'draped nudes' scandal appear in the New York Mirror.

On this day in 1925

On this day in 1925, the first reports of the so-called 'draped nudes' scandal appear in the New York Mirror.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

1920's hand fan for sale

A 1920's hand fan - depicting Louise Brooks and other Paramount stars - is for sale on eBay. Very nifty.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Not real but still true

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

What I found and didn't find

Returned to the library today. I looked at some microfilm of the Commercial Appeal, and dug out some good material (an article, a review, and some advertisements) relating to the November, 1922 Denishawn performance in Memphis, Tennessee. While looking for later film reviews, I stumbled upon a review of a personal appearance Fay Lanphier made in Memphis in June, 1926. (Lanphier, who was crowned Miss America in 1925, appeared along with Louise Brooks in The American Venus. That film, which screened in Memphis in late February, 1926, was the high point of Lanphier's career. She would appear in only one other film, a Laurel and Hardy short from 1928.) Here is a nifty advertisement promoting Lanphier's appearance.

Along with the Memphis Commercial Appeal, I also looked at microfilm of the Wellington Daily News. This small Kansas town hosted Denishawn in 1924, but before that, in 1921, a 14 year old Louise Brooks danced there. According to the Barry Paris biography, "In September there was a five-night engagement at the Wheat Show in Wellington." I decided to scour the September issues of the Wellington newspaper in hopes of finding some reference to Brooks. But nothing turned up.

What I found was that at the beginning of September, 1921 - starting on Labor Day, Wellington hosted a Golden Jubilee and Home Coming. People came from all over for the celebrations, which featured various entertainments and pageants. It was at this event that  Brooks likely danced. (A 1924 article in the Wellington paper, which appeared around the time of the Denishawn performance, mentions Brooks having given "a balloon dance at the Kansas Pageant at the Wellington Fall Festival a number of years ago.") A Wheat Festival did take place, but not until the end of September in Wichita.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Prix de Beauté on DVD

Bruce Calvert reports that he received the new Kino on Video catalog yesterday, and noticed that Kino has announced that Prix de Beauté (1930) will be released on DVD in Spring 2006. It looks like next year - the Brooks centennial - is shaping up to be a big year for all things Brooksie!

Monday, November 21, 2005

Lulu play in Chicago

The Silent Theater Company in Chicago, Illinois is currently staging LULU at City Lit Theater, which is located at 1020 West Bryn Mawr in Chicago. Performances run Fridays and Saturdays at 10:30 pm and Sundays at 8:00 pm through December 18th, 2005. Tickets are $15 and are available through the box office; call 773-544-1749.

From the press release: "LULU marks the inaugural production for Silent Theater Company. This new company is dedicated to pushing the envelope and stretching the limits of what we conceive theatre to be today.  This production was originally produced as part of The Journeymen Theater Company's 2002 season. It received critical success including being 'Highly recommended' by the Chicago Reader. Now, tonika todorova, artistic Director for Silent Theater Company, revisits her work. She states: 'The journey of this woman is as captivating as it is reflective on society and its attitude toward the amoral.'

LULU is adapted from German playwright Frank Wedekind's 1894 Lulu cycle Earth Spirit and Pandora's Box and follows the escapades of the unbearably sexy Lulu who causes many to destroy themselves while pursuing the maddening passion she inspires.

LULU is beautiful, narcissistic and young. She is a woman who possesses a thrilling combination of powerful sexuality and candid innocence that has made her the object of ardent admiration since childhood. As Lulu passes through Berlin's high society, she exercises a cruel power over the many men and women who love her to the point of obsession, exploiting them before she herself can be used. But her beauty is cursed, and her power short-lived; it is she who will ultimately be destroyed by her lovers.

LULU presents its story in complete silence. It takes the silent film genre, combined with German expressionism and portrays it on stage to accent with gesticulation and body language, what words sometimes fail to express. And on Christmas Eve, the concupiscent nature of Lulu reminds us that every man's desire to sin deserves to be answered. On Christmas Eve, Lulu finally gets her wish.

LULU includes: Brendan Greenwood Balfe, Nicholas DuFloth, Lauren Ashley Fisher, Gillian Hastings, Curtis M. Jackson, Matthew Massaro, Al an Pelesi , Marvin Eduardo Quijada, Joe Vonderhaar and Kyla Louise Webb. Lighting design by:  Jennifer Larkin. Set design by: Rick Gleeson.LULU is directed by tonika todorova with original music by Isaiah Robinson."

For more information and additional images see Should any readers of this LiveJournal attend the play in Chicago I would ask that they post their impressions.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Some neat Louise Brooks pics

Some neat Louise Brooks pics can be found at  Once there, search for "Louise Brooks." This commercial photo archive also has pics of other silent film stars like Nazimova, Garbo, Clara Bow, Esther Ralston and others.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Believe it or not

This falls under believe it or not . . . . An article in today's North Adams Transcript (the newspaper serving the Northern Berkshires in Massachusetts) called my attention to a bizarre website called The Bone Trade which claims to possess genetic samples from various deceased movie stars - including Louise Brooks.

The website specializes in necrobilia, with their stated aim being "the 'resurrection' of actresses from the Golden era of silent cinema." The small specimens collection claims genetic material from the likes of Garbo, Nazimova, Clara Bow, Colleen Moore, Gloria Swanson, Pola Negri, Olive Thomas, etc.... "To do this we are securing a large body of quality genetic material from a variety of sources which is subjected to rigorous testing to ensure its validity . . . .We intend to work closely with science organisations to perfect safe and reliable human duplication techniques. We are already in discussion with several studios interested in becoming parents to these new stars of old." What will they think of next?

Thursday, November 17, 2005

North Carolina and New Jersey

Yesterday, I looked through microfilm of two newspapers, the Charlottle Observer (from Charlotte, North Carolina) and theJerseyman (from Morristown, New Jersey). And in each, I found material about a Louise Brooks' appearance with the Denishawn Dance Company as well as her later role in The American Venus (1926).

Denishawn appeared in Charlotte in February, 1923 - and the substantial review which ran in the Observer noted "Denishawn Company Plays to Large House Here." I found that review, an earlier article, and some advertisements. That coverage was dwarfed by what appeared in the Jerseyman. This small town New Jersey newspaper gave the troupe a substantial front page review of their late April, 1924 performance. Prior to that, the paper had devoted two other front page stories to Denishawn - each noting their upcoming engagement. I also uncovered two distinct advertisements for their appearance at the Morristown High School Auditorium. (This Denishawn event - like many others - was a benefit. This engagement benefitted "the Fund for the Installation of the greatest Carillon of Bells now in this country, recently erected at Morristown." The performance raised more than $2,000.)

Along with the Denishawn material, I also found a few items relating to the screening of  The American Venus in Morristown. (Especially interesting are reviews of this film from New Jersey newspapers, as the film was partially shot at the Atlantic City Miss America contest of 1925.) Among the material I found in the Jerseyman was an article entitled "How Fay Lanphier Was Chosen 'Miss America' and 'American Venus'." No doubt supplied by the studio, it addressed the controversy over Lanphier's selection as Miss America and her awarding of a movie contract (by Walter Wanger) to appear in The American Venus.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

A Russian rarity

A Russian postcard depicting Louise Brooks is for sale on eBay. The card dates to 1928! It is amazing to think that Brooks' modest fame travelled as far as the U.S.S.R. (Interestingly, the portrait of Brooks is by M.I. Boris, who before he moved to New York City was at one-time a court photographer in the Austrio-Hungarian Empire!) Also, please note: this card has been trimmed

Monday, November 14, 2005


Today would have been Louise Brooks 99th birthday. Happy birthday Louise, our Lulu.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Beyond the Rocks

I enjoyed Beyond the Rocks (1922), which I saw this afternoon at the Castro Theater in San Francisco. The story, by Elinor Glyn, was melodramatic and the weakest aspect of the film. It was great to see the film's two stars - Rudolph Valentino (who had little to do) and Gloria Swanson (who looked great in her various changes of clothes). Bevan Dufty, a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors who also happens to be Swanson's step-son, introduced the film with a few anecdotes about her step-mother. Has anyone else seen this film elsewhere?

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Louise Brooks and the New Woman in Weimar Cinema

"New Histories of Photography 11: Louise Brooks and the New Woman in Weimar Cinema" is currently scheduled to be on view at the International Center of Photography from December 8, 2006 - February 25, 2007. The International Center of Photography is located at 1114 Avenue of the Americas at 43rd Street in New York City. The exhibit will likely be on view at the George Eastman House in Rochester during the fall of 2005.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Some neat Louise Brooks pics

Some neat Louise Brooks pics can be found at  Once there, search for "Louise Brooks." This commercial photo archive also has pics of other silent film stars like Nazimova, Garbo, Clara Bow, Esther Ralston and others.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

The Indianapolis News & Montreal Star & two advertisements

Microfilm of the Montreal Daily Star and the Indianapolis News was waiting for me at the library this week. I went through a number of months of each, where I uncovered articles and reviews relating to the Denishawn performances in each town. Denishawn performed twice in Indianapolis during Louise Brooks' tenure with the company, and though she wasn't mentioned by name in the Indianapolis News reviews (she was mentione din an earlier article), one of pieces she and three others performed was singled out for praise. (Martha Graham's efforts were deemed "satisfactory.") Here is an advertisement from the Indianapolis News for the December 4, 1922 Denishawn performance. Notice that Rachmaninoff - the great pianist and composer - followed the Denishawn performance in Indianapolis just six days later.

Culturally speaking, those were heady times: Ruth St. Denis, Ted Shawn, Louise Brooks, Martha Graham and Sergie Rachmaninoff in conjunction. I noticed another interesting advertisement while looking through the Indianapolis News. The ad was for a local hardware store run by Kurt Vonnegut's family. Kurt Vonnegut Jr. - the now celebrated novelist and author of Slaughterhouse Five (one of my favorite novels and movies) - was born in Indianapolis just three weeks prior to the Denishawn performance. Kurt Jr. would later work in the family hardware store.

Besides the Denishawn material (and some nifty period advertisements), I also scored film reviews of The American Venus (1926) and A Social Celebrity (1926) from both the Montreal Daily Star and the Indianapolis News. It was a good day at the library. Citations for this material will be added to the LBS bibliographies later today.

Wednesday, November 9, 2005

Katherine Pancol's new book

Word comes from France that Katherine Pancol's most recent bookEmbrassez-moi, features Louise Brooks on the cover. This novel, whose title translates as Kiss Me, includes our favorite actress.

I don't much about this well regarded author except that she once interviewed Brooks, and authored a long article on the actress which appeared inParis Match in 1985. Pancol is a best-selling novelist and a journalist. Born in Casablanca, Pancol has lived in both France and New York. She has published ten other books, notably Moi d'abord (1980), La Barbare (1995), J'étais là avant (1999), and Un homme à distance (2002).More about Pancol can be found on her website. Has anyone read this book?

Monday, November 7, 2005


Google maps are very cool! I have been looking into developing an application for them on the Louise Brooks Society website. Eventually, I hope to plot the two Louise Brooks-Denishawn tours using Google maps. In the meantime, LBS members are invited to place their pin in the newly created membership map.

Sunday, November 6, 2005

Die Dame aus Berlin

I recently bought a copy of Die Dame aus Berlin by Frank and Vautrin. The book is in German. The eBay seller said it had something to do with Louise Brooks. And in fact, she is mentioned on the back, "ratselhaft wie die Garbo, klug wie Louise Brooks, fatal wie die Dietrich." (Norma Shearer is on the cover.) Is anyone familar with this book? Has anyone read it? It is fiction, I assume. According to the copyright page, it was originally published in Paris in 1987 under the title Les Adventures de Boro, reporter photographe. Here is a link to the page on this title, as well as the page. Any information would be appreciated.

Saturday, November 5, 2005

Beyond the Rocks / booksignings

On Sunday November 13, 2005, The San Francisco Silent Film Festival will present the West Coast Premiere Revival Screening of Beyond the Rocks (1922), the only film that Rudolph Valentino and Gloria Swanson made together. For nearly 80 years, only a one-minute fragment of Beyond the Rocks was thought to exist. But in 2003, a complete print was discovered among 2,000 unmarked cans of film by the Nederlands Filmmuseum. In partnership with Haghefilm Conservation, the Nederlands Filmmuseum employed state-of-the-art technology to create a dazzling new print of this long-sought-after film. 
Based on a novel by Elinor Glyn (author of IT ), Beyond the Rocks features Valentino as Lord Bracondale, a desirable bachelor who finds himself enchanted by Theodora (Swanson), a simple girl from the Dorset coast. There will be two screenings (at 2 pm and 7 pm) of this romantic drama at the Castro Theatre. Both programs will be presented with live musical accompaniment on the Mighty Wurlitzer by Dennis James. The Booksmith will also be on hand selling books on silent film, including new releases and autographed titles, as well as hosting three booksignings!

Lenny Kaye signing "You Call It Madness: The Sensous Song of the Croon"
after the 2 pm screening (signing will start at approximately 3:45 pm)

--- Crooner / Jazz Age personality Russ Columbo is the subject of a new book, a musical history combining the drama of a bestselling novel and a soundtrack from the Golden Age of Broadway and Hollywood. Hailed as "The Romeo of Radio" and "The Valentino of Song," and romantically linked to actresses Pola Negri and Carole Lombard, Russ Columbo is all but forgotten today, his limitless promise cut short in a tragic and controversial accident as he stood on the verge of winning the stardom that Bing Crosby, his great rival, would soon achieve.

Lenny Kaye is an acclaimed music writer whose work has appeared in Rolling StoneThe Village VoiceHit Parader, and Crawdaddy! He has been a guitarist for poet-rocker Patti Smith since her band's inception thirty years ago and serves on the nominating committee forthe Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
Jack Tillmany signing "Theaters of San Francisco"
after the 2 pm screening (signing will start at approximately 3:45 pm)

--- Only a handful of the 100 or so neighborhood theatres that once graced the streets of San Francisco's streets still stand. However, they live on in the photographs featured in Jack Tillmany's new book. The heyday of such venues as the Clay, Noe, Metro, New Mission, Alexandria, Coronet, Fox, Uptown, Coliseum, Surf, El Rey, and Royal was a time when San Franciscans thronged to the movies and vaudeville shows, dressed to the hilt, to see and be seen in majestic art deco palaces.

Jack Tillmany, former owner of the Gateway Cinema in San Francisco and a revival programming pioneer, brings the city's theatres to life in this amazing selection of vintage images. Drawing from his personal archive collected during a 30-year career in cinema management, he paints a detailed story of the golden age of theatre, both live and cinematic. It was a time of stunning architecture, elegance, and opulence, and this volume is a reminder of the pre-multiplex days when almost every neighborhood boasted its own beloved theatre. 

Emily W. Leider signing "Dark Lover: The Life and Death of Rudolph Valentino"
prior to the 7 pm screening (signing will start at approximately 6:30 pm) 
--- Tango pirate, gigolo, powder puff, Adonis ­ all have been used to describe the silent-film icon Rudolph Valentino. From his early days as a taxi dancer in New York to his near apotheosis as the ultimate Hollywood heartthrob, Rudolph Valentino (often to his distress) occupied a space squarely at the center of controversy. In this thoughtful retelling of Valentino's short and tragic life ­ the first fully documented  biography of the star Emily W. Leider looks at the Great Lover's life and legacy, and explores the events and issues that made him emblematic of the Jazz Age. 
Emily W. Leider is the author of "Becoming Mae West" and other books. She lives in San Francisco, and will introduce the 7 pm screening.

Friday, November 4, 2005

Check out this site - hear Pola Negri sing

If you love music of the 1920's and 1930's, you will want to check out the Weimar Rundfunk Music website. You can even hear Pola Negri sing!

Thursday, November 3, 2005

Thanks to Amanda

Amanda Howard - a longtime LBS member from Wichita, Kansas - has done it again!

Amanda took some time out of her busy schedule to hunt down Denishawn material from two Kansas newspapers - theWellington Daily News and the Lawrence Daily Journal-World. Amanda found an amazing assortment of newspaper advertisements, related articles, and reviews of each performance. One of the local-interest articles spoke of a pre-Denishawn dance recital by Louise Brooks at the Wellington Home Coming and Golden Jubilee in which she "used a large number of vari-colored balloons" in an "especially attractive" routine. Wow! What a find! The other material was also quite interesting . . . one local article spoke of a reception for the dance company, and one of the reviews praised Brooks by name. [ Citations for this new material have been added to the appropriate LBS bibliographies. ]

During her research, Amanda also came across a photograph (circa 1890) of the building which Brooks and her family would later call home starting in the late teens. What a wonderfull structure.

Thank you Amanda for your excellent efforts.

Wednesday, November 2, 2005

I found some good material

A couple of inter-library loans arrived. I went through microfilm of the Daily Pantagraph, where I found good material relating to the two Denishawn performances in Bloomington, Illinois.

I also went through the March, 1926 microfilm of the Palm Beach Post. I was hoping to find articles about or references to the making of It's the Old Army Game, which was filmed in both Palm Beach and nearby Ocala, Florida. I did find one article, "Ocala is Enjoying Movie Popularity," which mentioned the film and its star, W.C. Fields. An article I had come across in the Fields fan club newsletter mentioned another article, but I failed to find that piece.

Tuesday, November 1, 2005

Pre-code film fest features Paramount flicks

"During the pre-Code era -- the five years before the imposition of a restrictive production code on July 1, 1934 -- Hollywood made a series of racy and socially daring films. This is widely known. What is not widely known is that the naughtiest studio of them all was Paramount."

The Balboa Theater in San Francisco is about to start a pre-code film festival. What makes this one special is that all of the films were made by one studio - Paramount. Author / photo historian Mark Vieira will be in attendance to introduce tomorrow night's film, as well as sign books. (Vieira is the author of the sexy, scholarly pictorial Sin in Soft Focus, as well as one of the two new books on Garbo.) Mick LaSalle, the film critic for the San Francisco Chronicle, has a long article in today's newspaper about the festival. It's well worth reading. I will be there Thursday night as well. (p.s. Amanda, I will get your copy of Sin in Soft Focus signed at this screening. At last!)
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