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Disney, Hitchcock, and Marilyn Flying High

Disney, Hitchcock, and Marilyn Flying High

If you fly out of Los AngelesInternationalAirport (LAX) on American Airlines’ commuter service, American Eagle, you must take a
shuttle bus to a remote terminal, where you’ll be surrounded by giant
photographic blowups of celebrities boarding American planes, back in the days
when flying was a more romantic experience than it is today. We’re talking
about the 1930s, ‘40s, ‘50s, and early ‘60s, which is where the timeline stops
in this informal gallery. (The “newest” stars on display are Paul Newman, Grace
Kelly, Eartha Kitt, and Jerry Lewis.) I’ve been yearning to share these
wonderful pictures with you—many of which have never been reprinted, I dare
say—but I couldn’t’ get a clear shot with my camera because the blowups are so
glossy and the terminal is filled with fluorescent light fixtures.

As luck would have it, I contributed an article to the
airline’s magazine,

American Way

, during Oscar season, and
my editor, Jessica Jones, was kind enough to locate the originals, which are
part of the C.R.SmithMuseum. I am grateful to them for
allowing me to run them here.

Walt Disney looks very dapper in this 1930s shot,
accompanied by a cut-out Mickey Mouse that looks like a department-store
display piece.

It took me time to realize that Shirley Temple is standing
on a metal shipping can designed to transport 35mm prints. Could this be a
promotional photo for Bright Eyes, in
which she sings “On the Good Ship Lollipop” while strolling down the aisle of
an airplane?

The Three Stooges never missed an opportunity to “mug” for
the camera, and here is evidence, as they make a personal appearance at the
Texas Centennial celebration in 1936.

Alfred Hitchcock is another figure who enjoyed playing up
his public persona as the master of suspense, even in a simple still photo such
as this.

Roy Rogers and Dale Evans would have accumulated a daunting
number of frequent-flyer miles during their heyday touring the country. This
pose is likely from the 1950s.

When it comes to posing, few people in the history of Hollywood
could match Marilyn Monroe. She knew what people wanted to see and obliged the
anonymous American Airlines cameraman at the height of her popularity.

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