22 October 2017

In Memoriam Han de Gruiter

Here at EFSP, we love all postcard collectors, but some a little bit more than others. Today we bring a salute to Han de Gruiter, a Dutch collector from The Hague. I once sold him (at Marktplaats, the Dutch equivalent of eBay) a postcard of Brigitte Bardot, his favourite actress, and from then on we corresponded. Like me, he was a fan of another postcard collector, Carla Bosch, with whom he also corresponded. Recently, Carla and I wondered why we did not receive mail anymore from ‘Haegsche Han’, like he called himself. Sadly, Carla discovered our friend had passed away and he is now our guardian angel in film star postcard heaven. Han, Carla and I salute you with this post full of postcards of beautiful women, we know you (would have) loved.

Brigitte Bardot
Brigitte Bardot. German postcard by Ufa / Krüger, no. 902/87. Photo: Sam Lévin, 1957.

Paul: "This is the BB card I sold to Han in 2014. Like every Dutch boy who became a man in the 1950s, he loved Bardot. There was even a Dutch hit song at the time: "Brigitte Bardot, Bardot, die heeft ze niet zo, maar zo." (Sorry non-dutchies, untranslatable :)) Back then, I was not born yet, but I can imagine what a sensation she must have been for him. What an erotic glance! A sensual kitten, prrrr."

Sophia Loren in A Countess From Hong Kong
Sophia Loren. Publicity still for A Countess From Hong Kong (Charles Chaplin, 1966). Source: Doctor Macro's.

Carla: "One of the first cards I sold to Han was this card of Sophia Loren in A Countess From Hong Kong. It was a Chinese card which was printed on cheap paper, but Han did not care about that. He bought wat he thought was beautiful or of which he had certain, often fond, memories. And whether they were cheap fake Chinese cards or expensive original Kolibri cards did not matter. What mattered were his memories and he liked to write about them. I am afraid I have lost his first emails. I did, however, find some old notebooks in the attic in which I used to write my first transactions. I saw my contact with Han goes back to January 2010. And I don't have this particular card in my possession anymore as Han bought it. I can see why he thought it was beautiful. If I did not see it, Han would make me see it, he would bear no contradiction."

Sophie Hardy
Sophie Hardy. German postcard by Kruger, no. 902/290. Photo: Bernard of Hollywood.

Paul: "Han called Sophie Hardy 'that damn sexy pussycat'. I've never seen a film with her but I guess she was in the France of the 1950s to Brigitte Bardot what Mamie van Doren was in the US to Marilyn Monroe. I like her, but to me the real star of this postcard is the photographer, Bernard of Hollywood. He was a German immigrant who photographed all the glamour ladies of Hollywood, including Marilyn. In the early 1960s, he returned to Germany where he made a series of sizzling pictures for postcards with Jayne Mansfield, Heidi Brühl and Barbara Valentin. And Sophie Hardy."

Gina Lollobrigida
Gina Lollobrigida. German postcard by Ufa, no. FK 3433. Photo: Constantin Film. Collection: Carla Bosch.

Carla: "Han shouted (in writing) 'Those eyes, those eyes, who can resist those eyes!' when he saw this card of Gina Lollobrigida. Gina's eyes were not the first thing that struck me on this card. The goat did. Yet, again Han convinced me those eyes were special. Another buyer was interested in this card, but when Han decided he liked a card, there was no bidder that could defeat him. So he bought the card and gossiped about this other bidder... When he found out that I wrote with Paul too, he immediately suspected we were gossiping about him. Ill doers are ill deemers (or something like that). He forgot that he was likeable, interesting and funny and that to be talked about did not necessarily mean ill talk."

Senta Berger
Senta Berger. German postcard by Ufa, no. FK 5162. Photo: Terb Agency / Ufa. Collection: Carla Bosch.

Carla: "Han liked cards of attractive women. He did not buy pin up cards, though I once caught him buying a card of Pamela Anderson in a spectacular red bathing suit. He insisted he liked women who were sexy, but were capable of more than just being beautiful. He acknowledged Pamela was an exception to this rule. Senta Berger was not: apart from being an excellent actress, she was also a shrewd business woman, producer, owner of a film production company.... and pretty. He wrote about her and that is why I look at Senta with different eyes. She had more potential than I thought."

Marina Vlady
Marina Vlady. German postcard by Ufa, Berlin-Tempelhof, no. CK-76. Photo: Unifrance Film.

Paul: "Han was so happy with this - indeed wonderful - postcard of Vlady, another free-spirited French beauty of the 1950s. Very sexy woman, in a natural way. This picture by Sam Lévin captured her natural allure, don't you think? Did you also wonder if there had been a woman in Han's life? He did write about his neighbours, the young girls next door, his brother and about his former colleagues, but he never wrote about a wife or a girlfriend. He certainly was not shy and as a journalist he must have met countless attractive women. But maybe that is what I liked about him: he kept dreaming. Even when you're 80: stay dreaming, hoping, longing, stay collecting."

Juliane Werding
Juliane Werding. German autograph card. Photo: Zill. Collection: Carla Bosch.

Carla: "Yet, sometimes I could neither rhyme nor reason his taste. When I asked him why one woman was more attractive than the other, he answered it would be the same if he asked me why the Ardennes were more attractive than the Botlek. He said he apparently liked women who acted cool and unemotional, not like Dutch Linda de Mol (yes, he really wrote that; I still have the email). One such choice was a card of German singer Juliane Werding. Well, yes, she looks rather cool and tough on this card, but he never said why he chose Juliane Werding. Perhaps because of her 1984 hit song Geh' nicht in die Stadt: in 2015 Han bought a card of Juliane Werding. He wrote he was rather concerned about his neighbourhood. All the people he knew had moved away and he now had the feeling that his beloved neighbourhood, once designed by urban designer Berlage, had become a kind of waiting room for people who were waiting to move again. He felt like Methuselah and I think rather lost, but the children who were new in his street were impressed that he survived the war and trusted him. They became a bridge between him and the changing neighbourhood. He felt well again. So I never knew why Juliane Werding, but this story belongs to one of her cards and I found it one of Han's more interesting purchases."

Eva and Pavel Roman
Pavel and Eva Roman. Vintage postcard. No editor. Collection: Carla Bosch.

Carla: "I have many cards with a story connected to Han. This one is a rather surprising choice of his too: Czech ice skating brother and sister Pavel and Eva Roman. Han used to be a sports journalist, so that may explain the subject skating. He also showed a genuine interest in people. He wrote it was so sad that Eva died very young. I had read somewhere that Eva Pavel was living together with Jackie Graham and that it was her brother who had died in a car accident. Han asked who Jackie Graham was and said he sometimes doubted his memory and asked me whether I suffered from memory loss too. I read Pavel's story on the internet, so I had no doubts. Han had the memory of an elephant, but he immediately doubted himself when he mis-remembered something."

Jacqueline Bisset
Jacqueline Bisset. Romanian postcard by Casa Filmului Acin.

Paul:  "This is a Romanian Acin card I sold to somebody else. And Han mailed me afterwards that he was so mad that he had missed it! He would have paid much more, et cetera. He loved, loved, loved Bisset, he wrote me. Sadly, I could not find another example for him. So I guess this postcard now deserves a place in this I.M. post for him. Recently I saw Jacqueline Bisset in a new film by François Ozon. She was still as elegantly beautiful as ever."

Gina Lollobrigida
Gina Lollobrigida. German postcard by Kolibri-Verlag, no. 1575. Collection: Carla Bosch.

Carla: "A few years ago, I bid on postcards for my collection on Marktplaats. However, there was another bidder who seemed to have a programme on his computer that notified him each time I bid on a card. He would outbid me within a few minutes. It drove me mad. Han noticed this other bidder. I do not know what he did or said, but it suddenly stopped. I received this card of Gina Lollobrigida and Han asked me whether I knew this rival bidder was a man or woman. I guessed it was a man, Han thought it was a woman. He was the expert... Perhaps he persuaded the woman to give up this card and send it to me. Some time ago, something similar happened when I bid on some of Paul's cards. I was immediately outbid by another bidder. A day later this rival had removed all his bids. Han again? It made us think we have a guardian angel."

Brigitte Bardot
Brigitte Bardot. German postcard by WS-Druck Wanne-Eickel. (I cannot read the number, there is glue on it.) Collection: Carla Bosch.

Carla: "This card of Brigitte Bardot I would have chosen to give as a birthday present. I do not know whether he would have chosen it himself, but I am certain he would have liked it and be a bit embarrassed."

Carla: "I know I chose too many cards! I have many more cards and stories that are connected to Han: postcards of Julie Christie, Raquel Welch, Claudia Cardinale, and why, surprisingly, he had nothing with Michelle Pfeiffer. Yet, I don't want to pretend I knew him that well and write a complete biography about him. It is just that when I looked through my cards and re-read Han's emails, so many stories bubbled up. Too many stories. It was fun to read those stories, Han had a great sense of humour, but it also made me sad, because we discovered too late that he had gone..."

Thanks, Carla, and Han of course!

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