It’s been several years since I dipped into my collection of movie stills and celebrated the holidays with some of the often-silly publicity photos that movie studios turned out by the carload—from the silent era onward. I’ll continue doing this throughout 2012 and I hope you enjoy these time-capsule photos. Let’s begin with Ken Murray, who was promoting his CBS-TV show along with Joan Shea, Lillian Farmer, Kathy Hild in this picture which is exactly sixty years old! Murray’s film career was long (beginning in 1929 and extending into the 1970s) if sporadic, but he gained latter-day reputation for his Hollywood home movies, which yielded a number of entertaining TV specials.
Over at Warner Bros., Patsy Ruth Miller and Monte Blue were pressed into service to ring in 1927. Before that year was out, the family-run company introduced The Jazz Singer to the world and changed the face of moviemaking forever. The brothers had their faults, but they were loyal to some of the people who stuck with them through the hungry years: Blue’s star fell during the talkie era, but he remained a Warners employee, playing mostly bit parts, until 1950, and continued working in television for another decade.
Lovely Jean Parker seems to be on top of the world as she ushers in 1935, and why not? She went from one film to another during that busy decade, and appeared in such notable pictures as Lady for a Day, Little Women, Sequoia, The Ghost Goes West, The Texas Rangers, and The Flying Deuces.
Janis Paige offers a bubbly salutation in this still, taken when she was under contract to Warner Bros. in the 1940s. The actress and singer came into her own, on Broadway, in movies and on television, in the decades to follow. Most recently performed a one-woman show at Los Angeles’ cabaret club The Gardenia.
Four Paramount starlets greet the new year, with hopes of good things to come. Alas, stardom was not in the cards for Carole (also billed as Carol) Parker, Joyce Mathews, Lola Jensen, and Alma Ross, although Mathews was famous for getting married seven times, beginning at the age of 16. She wed Milton Berle twice, and also went to the altar two times with producer Billy Rose! Her first husband was an illegitimate son of Venezuelan dictator Juan Vicente Gomez—which resulted in an annulment—and her last was busy character actor Don Beddoe.