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Columbia Pictures Stills and Key books is a collection of publicity materials that includes (but is not limited to) film stills, studio portraits and general publicity, as well as production photos and other behind-the-scenes images. Taken in their totality, the Columbia Pictures collection documents many of the ways movie studios marketed their stars and their films to potential audiences. Though they employed a variety of tactics, the goal was always to connect screen personalities to movie-goers. Many of these photos were clearly intended for fan magazines, while others were published in newspapers and other standard periodicals.
Marketing up-and-coming stars: Studios employed various strategies in order to drum up publicity for new talent (with the studio benefiting in turn). Allyn Drake, Barbara Reed and Inez Courtney were amongst a bevy of newly contracted Columbia players presented to movie fans in the article, “Tomorrow’s Stars,” Screenland, Nov. 1934: 57, 92. The introduction mostly noted their physical attributes.
Allyn Drake appeared in nine Columbia Pictures features and short films, in minor and uncredited roles. At top, Drake poses with four bottles and a glass of milk. A similar photo was used in New York State’s “drink more milk” campaign.
A 16-year-old Barbara Reed signed with Columbia Pictures in 1934 but made no movies for the studio. She eventually signed with Universal in 1937.
Marketing personas: An emphasis was placed on individual actors and actresses and the character types ascribed to them. Studio and outdoor photos placed actors in situations that reflected their on-screen identities, while “behind the scenes” photos (often staged views of actors/actresses at home) reinforced actors’ personal biographies – usually aggrandized narratives created by the actors and studio publicists.
Inez Courtney was also featured in Screenland’s “Tomorrow’s Stars” column – but Courtney was already a familiar face, having appeared in eleven films before signing with Columbia in 1934. Courtney, who began her career on Broadway, was often cast as “the funny girl” or the sarcastic friend. Images of Inez Courtney include an abundance of gag shots, along with several glamour photos.
Jack Holt began his film career as a stunt actor. Before that, he was a gold miner, railroad engineer and cattle herder (amongst other occupations).The images above convey those “rugged masculine” qualities he displayed in his Western films. The photo of Holt and his son was taken during an interview for the Los Angeles Times. The article, titled “Son May Follow into Film Career: Boy Has Physique and Outdoor Tastes of Elder ‘He-Man’ Star” (8 Jan. 1934: A6), perfectly sums up the type of character Holt conveyed on and off screen.
Though Holt only appeared in three Westerns for Columbia Pictures, the studio still seized on his alpha-male appeal, casting him in roles like the escaped convict and the dubious criminal defense attorney.
Marketing the private lives of stars: The collection includes documentary images that reveal moments in stars’ personal lives, but it is difficult to look at these images without a cynical eye. Take for instance the photo of Audrey Totter and her husband on their wedding day (September 22, 1952). The photo was housed with items related to her film, Assignment—Paris (released in October). Coincidence?
Marketing the “behind the scenes” experience: Images from the 1930s and 40s reflect the studio system and its emphasis on creating (and maintaining) personas. By the 1950s, publicity (as represented in this collection) took a different turn. Studios continued to produce their standard images – staged photo-ops, etc., but they also began to contribute more “behind the scenes” photos – perhaps in an attempt to give fans more of the insider information they craved and sought in movie magazines and scandal publications. Though Columbia’s images are decidedly measured and studio approved, they still manage to convey something a bit more real than in previous decades.
Digitization and access to these resources was generously supported by Arcadia funds.
By Stefanie Crump
Arcadia Nitrates Team
UCLA Library Cataloging & Metadata Center
In honor of the recent Supreme Court ruling that same-sex couples have the right to marry, here is a look at West Hollywood’s Gay Pride Parade as documented through the years by the Los Angeles Times.
On page 27 of the vol. 31, no. 13, March 25, 1983 issue of TV Guide, choreographer, Twyla Tharp talks about a tool that she feels is essential to her work, television. Tharp comments on her vision of the use of videodiscs, and predicts that dancers will make and market such discs, “the way recording artists do. People will then have control over when they look at dance and the kind of emotional mood they’re in.” She goes on to state, “I can’t do a piece that doesn’t become a television piece.”
A good example of the benefits of the use of television is her work, “The Catherine Wheel” which was broadcast on PBS’s Great Performances. She compares the version of the work, originally done live on stage, where “the faces and a lot of the acting were virtually invisible to anybody back more than 10 rows” to the perfected televised version. The television broadcast resolved that visual experience problem, allowing for a more seamless incorporation of video effects of fireworks and a computer-generated dancer, while also providing audience members an experience of the whole work, including the performers’ facial expressions and acting.
Library Special Collections has recently acquired a spectacular album of photographs of Mexico from 1892. It contains 185 photographs by Charles A. Mayo and J.E. Weed who were based in Chicago, Illinois. The album was purchased with funds generously provided by the University Librarian Discretionary Fund.
Grafton’s Tours, of Chicago, ran annual trips to “Old Mexico,” and 1892 was the fourth year that they ran the trip. Thy ran their own special train, complete with a choice of sleeping accommodations and full dining cars. The brochure for the tour was at pains to point out that every possible detail of the journey was taken care of by the company, and that absolutely all expenses of the trip were included in the initial cost – $350 – allowing people to get the very most out of being in Mexico on the tour. Grafton’s 1893 guide, “Grafton’s Tours through Mexico, California and the Sandwich Islands,” states that “The refined character of these tours, and the first-class manner in which they are conducted, attract as patrons the very best class of society people.”
The tour lasted four weeks, and was designed to allow Americans to see the very best that Mexico had to offer, and according to the guide “These tours do not merely cover the direct line of travel between the Rio Grande and the City of Mexico, but diverge and penetrate sections of the sister republic which tourists traveling on regular trains miss seeing. The object in visiting a foreign country is to see as much of it as possible, and these tours have been arranged accordingly.”
The guide also noted, as a sign of the times, “It will also be observed that Sunday railway travel is omitted – a feature that will commend itself to many.”
The firm of May & Weed acted as “special artists” for Grafton’s Tours. The firm accompanied the tour, taking photographs along the way. Customers could then make a selection from the photographs taken and then have them bound in to their own personal keepsake of the journey. The tour stopped in 41 places, including Mexico City, Cholula, Aguascalientes, Guadalajara, Guanajuato, Leon, Puebla, Queretaro, and Zacatecas, all of which are shown in the album.
The photographs are of particular interest, and of great value, to researchers for all the pictures of Mexican people going about their daily lives. There are views of the townspeople of Aguascalientes, bathing, doing laundry, and swimming in the acequia or canal leading from the town’s well-known hot spring, as well as busy street views of Leon, Puebla, Mexico City and Zacatecas. There are also portraits of milk vendors, ox cart drivers, a man and wife perched on a horse, families outside their homes, water and wine carriers, people bathing and washing clothes, a crowd at a fountain, market vendors, cigarette factory workers, women making tortillas, guitar players, burro drivers and many others. Other subjects include railroads, volcanoes, waterfalls, aqueducts, bullfighting, cathedrals, Chapultepec Castle, and the site of the execution of Emperor Maximilian.
The library catalog record, with a full description of the album, can be found here. To page the album to view it in our reading room, click on the “Request material” button near the top of the record.
By Simon Elliott
In late June, 1955, Walt Disney gave Los Angeles Times reporter Ed Ainsworth a tour of his latest project, an amusement park called Disneyland, less than a month before it opened to the public. As workers hurried to finish the trains, boats and scenery in time for the grand opening, LA Times readers got a peak into what would become the most famous amusement park in the world. Below are some behind-the-scenes images of Walt in the unfinished Disneyland in the weeks leading up to its unveiling.
While Disneyland has certainly expanded since its opening in 1955, many of the landmarks and attractions can still be seen on a visit to the park today. Walt’s visions for not only the layout of the park, but also the feelings of magic, fantasy, adventure, and fun have persisted throughout the last 60 years, and promise to continue far into the future.
By Jen O’Leary
Title, photographs and story of the tour from: Ainsworth, E. (1955, Jun 23). Disneyland Readied by ‘Mr. Magic.’ Los Angeles Times (1923-Current file). Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/166786457?accountid=14512.
In contrast to the richness, security, and relative comfort of his first two decades as a youth and student in Vienna, Richard Neutra (1892-1970) would experience, after 1914, the less happy traumas of war and illness. Following the assassination in Sarajevo in June 1914 of Imperial Hapsburg Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife, Sophie, by Serbian nationalists yearning to secede from the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Neutra was sent as a reserve artillery lieutenant in the town of Trebinje, Bosnia-Herzegovina, a remote outpost near present-day Dubrovnik, Croatia, on the eastern shore of the Adriatic. After the outbreak of war in August, the primary mission of Neutra’s unit was patrolling the coast to spot approaching enemy ships. Its only combat involved small skirmishes with Slavic partisans in Albania, Montenegro, and Bosnia.
During those years, however, as an ever-observant traveler, Neutra relished his encounters with new people and places and did sketches and watercolors of them and of the area’s physical and cultural landscape. He was especially intrigued with the vestiges of old Islamic architecture throughout the Balkans. But his own professional architectural skills lay largely in abeyance. In Trebinje he designed and built only a small officer’s “teahouse,” a modest structure that primitively anticipated his life-long penchant for simple post-and-beam pavilions. During and after the war, because of persistent malaria and incipient tuberculosis, Neutra also suffered bouts of depression, as revealed in somber black-and-white drawings.
This exhibition, curated by Thomas S. Hines, UCLA Research Professor of History and of Architecture and Urban Design, author of Richard Neutra and the Search for Modern Architecture (1982, 2005), includes selections from UCLA’s holdings of Neutra’s sketches and watercolors, housed within the Richard and Dion Neutra Papers. The installation design is by Octavio Olvera, visual arts specialist, UCLA Library Special Collections. Now on view until June 30, 2015.
On April 24, 2015, Armenians worldwide commemorated the centennial of the Armenian Genocide. Recognized internationally, but denied by the Turkish government as resulting from a systemic intent, the Genocide represents a fundamental shift in the lives of Armenians. Expelled from their ancestral homes in Anatolia through deportation and massacre, Armenians became a diasporic population. In many cases, the original trauma of expulsion was followed by subsequent, successive displacements, as they sought refuge at a time when the borders of what is known as the Middle East were being maneuvered by external actors.
Discussions of the Genocide point to the numbers of its victims (1.5 million), to the documentary evidence of its atrocities, to the nature of the lives and communities that existed before. As someone whose family history has crossed continents over decades, I am interested in the nature of lives in transition. For this reason, I have used my family’s history to explore the effects of the Genocide as the originating event of the status of Armenians as wandering persons.
This exhibit sought to explore and illustrate this history through the materials housed in UCLA Library Special Collections. You are invited to follow the journey in this interactive StoryMap.
By Lori Dedeyan
Even though Los Angeles enjoys summer temperatures for most of the year, the beginning of May signals the start of summer thoughts. The end of the school year is approaching, vacation plans are being made, and temperatures are climbing into official beach weather. In the 1950s, for Los Angeles’ West Side residents, this meant the start of the beach season.
With picnics, furry friends, warm sun and cool water, the Pacific Ocean was, and still is, a prime summer destination. Looks like the only changes in the last 60 years are the styles of the bathing suits!
By Jen O’Leary
UCLA Library is widely known as one of the largest repositories of Armenian materials in North America, the Armenian collections as diverse in subject as in medium. In recognition of the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, we would like to focus our attention toward some of our Armenian collections pertinent to the occasion.
One impressive archive is the William Sachtleben Collection (1890-1893). The collection is described as “Photographs relating to a world tour on bicycle which Sachtleben began from England and completed in New York City, from 1890 to 1893. The collection also contains prints, letters, clippings and other papers relating to his stay in Turkey from 1895-1896, where he was sent by Outing Magazine to investigate the disappearance of a fellow American cyclist, Frank G. Lenz.”
The Sachtleben collection includes photo albums, correspondence, diaries, and most importantly, a nitrate photo collection that is now digitized. There are several photographs that were preserved from a much larger collection, which document the massacre of October 30, 1895 at Erzerum, Turkey. Digitized portions of the Sachtleben collection include:
The Erzerum massacres are considered a rehearsal of what was coming to the Armenians in the Ottoman Empire on a much larger scale in 1915. The Sachtleben photographs are partnered with letters describing the massacre from “an occasional correspondent” (Sachtleben) that were published in “The Times” (London, England), dated November 16, 1895, titled “The Massacre of Erzerum;” dated November 27, 1895, titled “The Massacres at Erzerum;” and December 09, 1895, titled “The Erzerum Massacres.” These letters can be accessed from The Times Digital Archive 1785-2006.
Another archival collection that has not been fully digitized contains some sources on the humanitarian assistance planned by the Armenian community of Isfahan, in Iran, for refugees of the Armenian Genocide, from the provinces of Van, in Turkey, and Azerbaijan, in Iran, who had found their way to Isfahan. Below are examples of some announcements from the Minasian Collection of Armenian Materials, ca. 1600-1968. These articles and announcements can be accessed at UCLA Library Special Collections by request.
Additionally, there are newspaper clippings from Veratznound (Վերածնունդ) that contain re-published articles on the Armenian Genocide. These articles are daily eyewitness accounts from different sources published during the Genocide by Armenian papers.
UCLA Library also holds a large collection of print materials on the Armenian Genocide that can be searched under the following subject headings in the UCLA Library catalog:
- Armenian question
- Armenian massacres, 1894-1896
- Armenian massacres, 1909
- Armenian massacres, 1915-1923
By Nora Avetyan and Martha Steele, UCLA Library, Cataloging & Metadata Center