A Golden Age Christmas

xmasgrableOn Christmas Eve, what could be more fun that holiday greetings from a glamorous movie star?

During the Golden Age, when most stars were under contract to a studio, posing for publicity shots was part of the job of being a star. When not working on a film, stars were expected to report to the studio’s publicity department to be photographed and interviewed. The publicity departments included press agents who composed biographies for the stars, contributed articles to the fanzines, and publicized individual films from concept through distribution. They leaked details about casting, recounted the stars’ experiences on the set, and arranged interviews with gossip columnists and radio hosts. The low end of a press agent’s job was to spread rumors and stories about certain stars or to arrange publicity stunts. The high end of employees was represented by the staff and free-lance photographers who took thousands and thousands of photos for the studios. Some photos were publicity stills from the latest films; others were promotional portraits designed to reinforce a star’s image to remind fans of their appeal.

According to scholar Richard Dyer, who has written extensively about the nature and meaning of movie stars, four types of information were used to construct and circulate a star image: films, promotion, publicity, and criticism. Promotion includes anything generated by the studio to tout a performer or a film, including stills and promo photos. These photos were routinely sent to newspapers, fanzines, and theaters as well as to any fans who wrote to the studio asking for them.

Another category of photos generated during this time were artistic celebrity portraits, which were larger than the standard 8” x 10” and intended for personal use by the stars or to decorate the offices of studio executives. Print runs were limited, and the photographers employed for these shoots included top artists like George Hurrell, Robert Coburn, Ruth Harriet Louise, Clarence Sinclair Bull, Ernest Bachrach, and Otto Dyar.

Fans, however, were content with the 8”x 10” promo photos, which were printed by the thousands, often with captions and studio logos along the bottoms. Holidays, especially Christmas, provided ample opportunity to promote many stars and resulted in some of the most charming photos, which I offer to all of you on Christmas Eve. Merry Christmas!

THESE SHOTS MIMIC THE SATURATED COLOR OF TECHNICOLOR.

KELLY AND ASTAIRE WOULD MAKE ENTERTAINING CHRISTMAS GUESTS.

xmasbow

CLARA BOW MISSES THE CHIMNEY.

 . . .AND JOAN CRAWFORD SLIDE DOWN YOUR CHIMNEYS?

BUT,  JOAN CRAWFORD GETS THE IDEA. SOMEHOW I DON’T THINK FAMILIES WERE THE TARGET AUDIENCE HERE.

WHO KNEW DIANA DORS COULD SPEAK FRENCH?

WHO KNEW DIANA DORS COULD SPEAK FRENCH?

BETTE DAVIS WOULD MAKE A NICE CHRISTMAS GIFT.

BETTE DAVIS WOULD MAKE A NICE CHRISTMAS GIFT.

BORIS KARLOFF LOOKS FOR SOME MISTLETOE AS HE FLIRTS WITH GINGER ROGERS.

BORIS KARLOFF LOOKS FOR SOME MISTLETOE AS HE FLIRTS WITH GINGER ROGERS.

QUICK! ANSWER THE DOOR IT MIGHT BE LUCY!

QUICK! ANSWER THE DOOR IT MIGHT BE LUCY. . .

. . .OR, ALICE FAYE.

. . .OR, ALICE FAYE.

A YOUNG LIZ TAYLOR PURRS, "MERRY CHRISTMAS."

A YOUNG LIZ TAYLOR PURRS, “MERRY CHRISTMAS.”

FINALLY, CLAUDETTE COLBERT ADDS A TOUCH OF CLASS TO HOLLYWOOD’S CHRISTMAS DECORATIONS.

0 Response A Golden Age Christmas
Posted By swac44 : December 24, 2012 2:31 pm

Happy Christmas to all the Morlocks! Looking forward to a new year of fun and informative posts.

Posted By swac44 : December 24, 2012 2:31 pm

Happy Christmas to all the Morlocks! Looking forward to a new year of fun and informative posts.

Posted By Doug : December 24, 2012 2:40 pm

Susan, you come bearing Christmas cheer-I love the photos, especially Karloff and Ginger!
One movie I would love to see again is “Kathy O’” (aka Christmas in Paradise)about the travails of a studio press agent (Dan Duryea) dealing with temperamental star Kathy O’Rourke (Patty McCormack) who is only 10 years old.
It’s good old fashioned Holiday shmaltz leavened with a slight send up of Hollywood ‘stars’ and studios. I know it has played on TCM in the past, but is hard to find now in any format.
Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!

Posted By Doug : December 24, 2012 2:40 pm

Susan, you come bearing Christmas cheer-I love the photos, especially Karloff and Ginger!
One movie I would love to see again is “Kathy O’” (aka Christmas in Paradise)about the travails of a studio press agent (Dan Duryea) dealing with temperamental star Kathy O’Rourke (Patty McCormack) who is only 10 years old.
It’s good old fashioned Holiday shmaltz leavened with a slight send up of Hollywood ‘stars’ and studios. I know it has played on TCM in the past, but is hard to find now in any format.
Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!

Posted By robbushblog : December 24, 2012 3:02 pm

Check out the gams on Bow. Merry Christmas is right! Merry Christmas, Suzi! And merry Christmas to all of the Morlocks and readers!

Posted By robbushblog : December 24, 2012 3:02 pm

Check out the gams on Bow. Merry Christmas is right! Merry Christmas, Suzi! And merry Christmas to all of the Morlocks and readers!

Posted By michaelgloversmith : December 24, 2012 3:18 pm

Clara Bow was such a fox. Merry Christmas, Suzi!

Posted By michaelgloversmith : December 24, 2012 3:18 pm

Clara Bow was such a fox. Merry Christmas, Suzi!

Posted By Emgee : December 24, 2012 4:52 pm

Is that a Baby Jane doll Crawford is carrying? Eerie!
Merry X-mas, Morlocks!

Posted By Emgee : December 24, 2012 4:52 pm

Is that a Baby Jane doll Crawford is carrying? Eerie!
Merry X-mas, Morlocks!

Posted By vp19 : December 25, 2012 5:17 pm

Here are some more classic Hollywood promotional pics (including a few that ran in this thread): http://carole-and-co.livejournal.com/563896.html

Happy holidays to all!

Posted By vp19 : December 25, 2012 5:17 pm

Here are some more classic Hollywood promotional pics (including a few that ran in this thread): http://carole-and-co.livejournal.com/563896.html

Happy holidays to all!

Posted By Susan Doll : December 27, 2012 10:02 pm

Doug: I have seen Kathy O in the last couple of years! It is schmaltzy but that is what Christmas movies are for!

Posted By Susan Doll : December 27, 2012 10:02 pm

Doug: I have seen Kathy O in the last couple of years! It is schmaltzy but that is what Christmas movies are for!

Posted By Susan Doll : December 27, 2012 10:03 pm

Rob and Michael: I included Clara Bow just for you guys!

Posted By Susan Doll : December 27, 2012 10:03 pm

Rob and Michael: I included Clara Bow just for you guys!

Posted By The View Beyond Parallax… more reads for week of December 28 – Parallax View | Parallax View : December 28, 2012 1:37 pm

[...] with several thousand reviews of It’s a Wonderful Life, some links of note. Susan Doll posted several holiday-themed publicity shots over at Movie Morlocks. Even though Doll’s got Joan Crawford straddling a chimney, she [...]

Posted By The View Beyond Parallax… more reads for week of December 28 – Parallax View | Parallax View : December 28, 2012 1:37 pm

[...] with several thousand reviews of It’s a Wonderful Life, some links of note. Susan Doll posted several holiday-themed publicity shots over at Movie Morlocks. Even though Doll’s got Joan Crawford straddling a chimney, she [...]

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