28 September 2022

La Collectionneuse: actresses posing with sunshades

Summer has ended. Let’s extend it a little bit by putting the spotlight on sunshades. Here is a selection of vintage postcards showing film actresses posing with this accessory, which was much in vogue at a time when sun tanning was considered unbecoming and inappropriate for women.

Madge Bellamy in Summer Bachelors (1926)
Spanish postcard by Editorial Fotografica, Barcelona, no. A-36. Madge Bellamy in Summer Bachelors (Allan Dwan, 1926).

Madge Bellamy (1899-1990), was a “Darling of the Twenties”. That’s the title she chose for her autobiography, published in 1989. She appeared in about fifty silent films and a dozen sound films. Under contract to Thomas H. Ince, she had her breakthrough role in Lorna Doone (1922). Later, she was a star at Fox studios from 1925 to 1929.

Alma Bennett
Danish postcard by J. Chr. Olsens Kunstforlag. Eneret, no. 500.

Alluring brunette Alma Bennett (1904-1958)‘s best-remembered role is probably the vamp Bebe Blair in Frank Capra’s Long Pants (1927), starring Harry Langdon. She also played in Westerns, such as Three Jumps Ahead (1923) with Tom Mix, and appeared in several Mack Sennett comedy shorts alongside Ben Turpin, Billy Bevan or Eddie Quillan.

Marlene Dietrich
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 8990/1, 1933-1934. Photo: Paramount. Marlene Dietrich in The Devil is a Woman (Josef von Sternberg, 1935).

Marlene Dietrich (1901-1992) is regarded as the first German actress to become successful in Hollywood. Throughout her long career, she constantly re-invented herself, starting as a cabaret singer, chorus girl and film actress in 1920s Berlin, she became a Hollywood movie star in the 1930s, a World War II frontline entertainer, and finally an international stage show performer from the 1950s to the 1970s, eventually becoming one of the entertainment icons of the 20th century.

Marta Eggerth
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 9928/1, 1935-1936. Photo: Hämmerer / Ufa. Marta Eggerth in Das Hofkonzert/The Court Concert (Detlev Sierck a.k.a. Douglas Sirk, 1936).

Hungarian-born singer and actress Márta Eggerth (1912-2013) maintained a global career for over 70 years. She was the popular and talented star of 30 German and Austrian operetta films of the 1930s. Many of the 20th century's most famous operetta composers, including Franz Lehár, Fritz Kreisler, Robert Stolz, Oscar Straus, and Paul Abraham, composed works especially for her. After the rise of the Nazis, she continued her career with her partner Jan Kiepura in the US.

Greta Garbo
French postcard by Europe, no. 935. Photo: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

Swedish Greta Garbo (1905-1990) was one of the greatest and most glamorous film stars ever produced by the Hollywood studio system. She was part of the Golden Age of the silent cinema of the 1920s and was one of the few actors who made a glorious transition to the talkies. She started her career in European cinema and would always stay more popular in Europe than in the USA.

Postcard printed in Germany for Fatehchand Bhagchand & Bros. Sukkur, no. 179.

Gohar (1910-1985) was a major Indian star from 1925 to 1939. Her films include Typist Girl (1926), Gun Sundari (1927), Devi Devayani (1931), Sati Savitri (1932), Miss 1933 (1933), etc. In 1929, she founded the Ranjit Film Company, in association with director Chandulal Shah. In 1931, it became Ranjit Movietone and soon the company placed itself among the most important Indian film studios of the time. Gohar’s last film, Achhut (1939) dealt with the subject of the Untouchable caste.

Carla Gravina
Italian postcard by B.F.F. Edit. (Casa Editr. Ballerini & Fratini, Firenze), no. 3777. Photo: Titanus.

Carla Gravina (1941) was a popular Italian actress. Her films include Primo amore (1959), Esterina (1959), Jovanka e le altre (1961), La monaca di Monza (1969), Alfredo Alfredo (1972), L’Antecristo (1974) or Il lungo silenzio (1993). In the 1970s, she played opposite the two leading male French sex symbols of the time: Jean-Paul Belmondo in L’héritier (1973) and Alain Delon in Comme un boomerang (1976). She won a Best Supporting Actress Award at the Cannes Film Festival for La Terrazza (1980). She also had a successful career on stage and on television.

Katharine Hepburn
Italian postcard by Ballerini & Fratini, Firenze, no. 2544. Photo: RKO / Generalcine. Katharine Hepburn in Quality Street (George Stevens, 1937).

Katharine Hepburn (1907-2003) was an indomitable American stage and film actress, known as a spirited performer with a touch of eccentricity. She introduced into her roles a strength of character previously considered to be undesirable in Hollywood leading ladies. As an actress, she was noted for her brisk upper-class New England accent and tomboyish beauty. During her long career, she won four Best Actress Oscars, for Morning Glory (1933), Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner (1967), The Lion in Winter (1968), and On Golden Pond (1981).

Evelyn Holt Card Evelyn Holt
French postcard by Europe, no. 365. Photo: Hegewald Film. Evelyn Holt in Freiwild/Free game (Holger-Madsen, 1928).

Evelyn Holt (1908-2001) was a highly popular German film actress in the late silent and the early sound era.

Camilla Horn

French postcard by Europe, no. 903. Photo: United Artists.

Ethereally blonde Camilla Horn (1903-1996) was a German dancer and film star. Her breakthrough role was Gretchen in the silent film classic Faust (Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau, 1926). She also starred in some Hollywood films of the late 1920s and in a few British and Italian productions.

Indian postcard by Jugatram & Co., Bombay, no. 10. Caption: Prominent Indian Screen Star.

Mehtab (1913-1997) was an Indian film star who mainly worked in the 1930s and the first part of the 1940s. Her films include Veer Kunal (1932), Jeewan Swapna (1937) or Leather Face (1939). Chitralehka (1941) caused a sensation because of her aesthetically done bathing scene, which was considered daring at the time. Her last husband was famous filmmaker Sohrab Modi.

Maria Paudler
French postcard by Europe, no. 594. Photo: Super Film.

German actress Maria Paudler (1903-1990) was a popular star of the late silent German cinema. She also played the leading role in the first German TV film.

Vera Ralston
Belgian postcard by Nieuwe Merksemsche Chocolaterie S.P.R.L. Merksem (Anvers).

An accomplished figure skater, Czechoslovakian-born Vera Ralston (1919 ? 1920 ? 1921 ? 1923 ? -2003) emigrated to the U.S.A. in 1939. She made her film debut in two ice-skating movies for Republic studios, Ice Capades (1941) and Ice Capades Revue (1942), before signing a long-term contract with them in 1943. Herbert Yates, the company’s boss, fell in love with her and they married in 1952. From 1944 to 1958, she starred in twenty-four movies, including two with John Wayne, Dakota (1945) and The Fighting Kentuckian (1949).

Debbie Reynolds
Vintage postcard. Photo: M.G.M.

Debbie Reynolds (1932-2016) was elected Miss Burbank in 1948 and made her screen debut the same year. In 1950, she gained notice by playing Helen Kane in Three Little Words and by singing 'Aba Daba Honeymoon', which was a hit on the Billboard charts, in Two Weeks with Love (1950). She had her breakthrough role in Singin’ in the Rain (1952), opposite Gene Kelly and Donald O’Connor. She then starred in twenty-six movies from 1953 to 1968. Afterwards, she was much more active on television than in films.

Toby Wing
Italian postcard by Ballerini & Fratini, Firenze, no. 2734.

Toby Wing (1915-2001) was one of the cutest 1930s Hollywood blondes. From 1931 on, she had numerous uncredited bit parts and can be seen for example in 42nd Street (1933), in the 'Young and Healthy' number opposite Dick Powell. However, she became a celebrity by endlessly and cheerfully posing for movie magazines. In the second half of the decade, she had leading roles in several B movies such as Thoroughbred (1936), With Love and Kisses (1936) or Sing While You’re Able (1937). She retired from films following her marriage in 1938.

Fay Wray
French postcard by A.N. Paris, no. 555. Photo: Paramount.

Canadian-born American actress Fay Wray (1907-2004) attained international recognition as the first 'scream queen' in a series of horror films during the early 1930s. Through an acting career that spanned nearly six decades, Wray is best known as Ann Darrow, the girl held in the hand of King Kong (1933). Two days after her death, the lights of the Empire State Building, the location of King Kong's climax scene, were dimmed for 15 minutes in memory of the "beauty who charmed the beast".

Text and postcards: Marlene Pilaete.

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