Monday, July 04, 2016

Book Review: Hollywood Celebrates the Holidays: 1920-1970

I've enjoyed Hollywood's vast array of holiday publicity stills for years, often sharing them here at my blog -- including today!

I was thus delighted when I learned about the photo book HOLLYWOOD CELEBRATES THE HOLIDAYS: 1920-1970 by Karie Bible and Mary Mallory. It's from Schiffer Publishing.

With a wide variety of beautiful photos reproduced on glossy paper, HOLLYWOOD CELEBRATES THE HOLIDAYS will delight anyone who enjoys classic film era publicity stills.

As most classic movie fans are probably aware, studios used to regularly shoot photos of their contract players -- especially up-and-coming young actresses -- celebrating various holidays. The photos were distributed to fan magazines, where they helped keep the actors in the public eye in between movie releases.

Authors Bible and Mallory have rounded up a plethora of such holiday photos, with actors celebrating Valentine's Day, Easter, St. Patrick's Day, Thanksgiving, and yes, Independence Day, including this photo of a young Susan Hayward and Virginia Dale.

Since I "collect" these photos after a fashion myself, saving images from the internet to use on my blog or as holiday computer screensavers, I was amazed how many photos the authors included which were completely new to me. They did a superb job tracking down and researching a tremendous collection of pictures.

I found the Easter photos particularly wonderful, including Madge Evans with an Easter basket, Gail Patrick at Forest Lawn, Ann Rutherford popping out of a hatbox, and Ida Lupino carrying flowers.

In these more "P.C." times, it's certainly different -- and I must say rather refreshing -- to see actors posing with Christian symbols or in unabashedly patriotic poses. Such photos add another aspect of historical interest to this fascinating chronicle of a bygone Hollywood era.

The photos are captioned with biographical information about the actors, and in some cases the original studio caption is also included, which adds to the fun. I chortled with laughter over the original publicity blurb accompanying a Thanksgiving photo of Ann Blyth, which incongruously mixes her greetings "in the midst of the traditional plenty of American harvest time" with a plug for her new film THE GOLDEN HORDE (1951), the "story of Genghis Khan's attempted rape of Samarkand in the 13th Century."

I had the pleasure of first meeting Karie Bible a few months ago, as well as several times since, and we had the chance to discuss the book briefly. I was impressed with her description of the extensive efforts the authors went to to "clean up" the photographs and present them in the best possible condition. The authors' meticulous work paid off with a beauty of a book.

There's one photo (P. 133) which I'm a bit dubious is Martha Vickers; internet sources label it as Gale Robbins. But that's an extremely minor question, mentioned only in the interest of a thorough review. This is a splendidly researched and beautifully produced book which should be on every classic film fan's shelf, and I very much hope there will be a sequel!

Highly recommended.

HOLLYWOOD CELEBRATES THE HOLIDAYS is a hardcover book which is 192 pages long, including the index.

Thanks to Schiffer Publishing for providing a review copy of this book.


Blogger Raquel Stecher said...

Oohh! This book sounds so interesting. I'm fascinated by those holiday photos of stars. Do the authors explain why they were shot, how they were used in marketing, etc? Or is it strictly a collection of photos?

1:21 PM  

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