It’s time again to share some of my favorite publicity
photos from the golden age of Hollywood: a bygone era of ballyhoo, when
actresses under contract to the major studios were kept busy between film
assignments shooting promotional stills for hungry newspapers and magazines
around the world. I’ve been collecting these photos for years and never seem to
run out of material, especially for Yuletide tie-ins.
We begin in the 1920s, as the First Lady of
Hollywood, MARY PICKFORD looks out for those less fortunate—the shop girls who
sell us Christmas gifts—in this unusual public service photo. Leave it to Mary
to pull off a campaign like this.
In this MGM publicity pose of the 1930s, UNA MERKEL offers “her” gift
suggestions for practically everyone on your Christmas list. I hope Brother
didn’t wind up with emphysema from smoking all those cigarettes—unless his
sibling was thoughtful enough to pick out a nice wallet.
Universal starlet DOROTHY GULLIVER illustrates one way of sending all
your Christmas gifts on time, although we wouldn’t recommend loading up your
The original 1932 caption reads, “MIRIAM HOPKINS, who has just completed
the featured role in Ernst Lubitsch’s ‘Trouble in Paradise’ for
doing her Christmas shopping early. Her seals feature a miniature photograph of
herself.” You might consider adding this personal touch to your presents—unless
you think it seems narcissistic.
Pretty PATRICIA ELLIS was Warner Bros.’ all-purpose ingénue in the
1930s, amassing forty feature credits in eight years’ time, before leaving
films behind to sing on Broadway, in nightclubs and on the radio. Here she
demurely eats a Christmas cracker—or is she licking a stamp or gift sticker? We
may never know unless someone finds the original studio caption.
I wish I had the
caption for this photo of ANITA LOUISE, “Warner Bros. and Vitaphone Pictures
star,” delivering Christmas gifts. You can write one yourself!
Beautiful FRANCES GIFFORD makes a purchase at
the Disney studio store while filming The
Reluctant Dragon in 1941. There’s still a store on the Burbank lot, but I
don’t think they offer any of the wonderful figurines depicted here.
ADELE JERGENS strikes a
pretty pose in the late 1940s to remind Americans about the importance of
purchasing Christmas seals.