While Halloween celebrations grow more elaborate with each
passing year, I like to stick with the tried-and-true. Therefore, I’m pleased
to present my annual array of vintage publicity photos featuring some of
Tinseltown’s best and brightest, decade by decade. While cheesecake photos were
always popular, they seem positively tame compared with the costumes—or lack of
them—you’re likely to see today.
Betty Grable became synonymous with the word “pin-up” during
World War II, with her all-American good looks and beautiful figure, but even
during the previous decade she and her famous legs were featured in photographs
like this seasonal shot.
Here’s someone we don’t normally associate with pin-up art:
Ida Lupino. When the young actress was signed to a studio contract by Paramount
in the 1930s, producers didn’t see her dramatic potential: she was just another
pert blonde to be employed as an all-purpose ingénue (and cheesecake model). It
wasn’t until she won a meaty role opposite Ronald Colman in The Light That Failed in 1938 that
people in Hollywood—and in the audience—realized what they’d been missing.
Here is beautiful, blonde Thelma Todd disguised as a
dark-haired gypsy for the Laurel & Hardy feature Bohemian Girl (1936). Most of the actress’ scenes were cut from the
film after her untimely death in 1935. This may not be a bona fide Halloween costume shot, but I never pass up
an opportunity to feature a photo of the lovely Thelma.
Since Veronica Lake starred with Fredric March in I Married a Witch (1942), which has just
been released on DVD and Blu-ray by The Criterion Collection, I suppose it was
inevitable that she pose for photos like this one to help promote the movie…but
she does make a fetching witch.
It’s easy to see why
model-turned-actress Dusty Anderson was a perfect choice for pinup shots like
this one in the 1940s. She was first seen as
a model in the Rita Hayworth movie Cover
Girl, then appeared in a cluster of
pictures over the next few years before retiring from the screen and raising
two children with director Jean Negulesco. I dare say no one ever rode a broom
Anne Jeffreys checks
her watch in this shot from her contract days at RKO. Anne
remains as lovely as ever, and has a refreshing sense of humor about some of
her early Hollywood assignments. She later proved herself on Broadway, where
she made use of her musical gifts, and won an even larger following on the
popular TV series Topper.
It looks like Debbie
Reynolds won MGM’s “Hug a Pumpkin” contest—or lost, depending on your point of
view. Even in the 1950s, starlets had to pose for publicity photos like these—and
newspapers and magazines ate them up.