skewgee décor

Reading old issues of Time Magazine, it seems 1946 was a good year for interesting gossip

Gloria Swanson, svelte survivor of the silent screen and five marriages, survived a New York City taxicab crash that bowled one of the cabs over. Injuries to Siren Swanson: an egg on the brow, a skewgee décor.

Gloria Swanson in her monkey fur cape found here

John Jacob Astor III, 34, plum-shaped posthumous son of the Colonel and half-brother of Vincent, was having a time with the newspapers. They were breaking out all over with photos of a symmetrical 18-year-old girl in suburban Philadelphia, and stuff about her heartbreak. The girl, Virginia Jacobs, called him “Jackims.” He was supposed to have had her on the qui vive since she was 15, but now she could not find him. She said he had talked of marrying her and “going to Paris, where we’d have lots of children” —that is, if he ever got a divorce from Wife No. 2. He had been just too extravagant, Virginia’s mother told the newspapers. Mother had had to put her foot down: “Not mink, I told him. . . . He begged so hard, I finally allowed him to buy her a seven-skin beaver . . . $1,500. . . .” Suddenly the wind shifted. Said lovelorn Virginia to the newspapermen: “I’ve changed my mind.”

Bette Davis rocks a mink

Schiaparelli figured that women would be hobbled much of the time this season. “Nobody will be able to get out of bed before 5 in the afternoon,” said she. “There are practically no dresses designed to wear before that time. . . .”

hobble skirt found here

Paris’ fall fashion shows opened, and Schiaparelli’s outstanding contribution proved to be a bustle—a bustle on almost everything. Molyneux’s favorite colors sounded like sublimations: butter yellow, burnt orange, light mustard. Favorite couturière of the boulevardiers was doubtless Mlle. Alixt: she had daytime dresses with necklines clear to the waistline.

Sophia Loren found here

Princess Juliana of The Netherlands, mother of three, all girls, was again in an interesting condition. As a delicately euphemistic palace announcement put it, the Princess “for a joyful reason has to restrict her activities.” Stolid Netherlanders, under petticoat rule since 1890, started hoping for a royal boy.

Juliana curtailing her duties found here

sash boys are safe

Elsa Maxwell* was an American gossip columnist known as the Hostess with the Mostess. She wrote several books including the memoir this excerpt is from

Elsa and Maria Callas found here

“Much as I dislike to mention a distasteful subject I cannot gloss over the shocking increase in homosexuality that is apparent today. Thirty years ago, lesbians and sash boys were almost unknown to the majority of people. I call them ‘sash boys’, because they always go about as though waving a sash in their hands and because I prefer that euphemism to the commoner terms I do not care to use. Perhaps I was more naive at the time, but I never saw a woman who was an obvious Lesbian until I went to Europe. Of course there were homosexuals in theatrical and artistic circles, but outside that one rarely, if ever, encountered one. Now it is like a contagious disease, spreading here, there and everywhere.

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The incidence of homosexuality always has been greater in some countries than others. It varies in time and place. I believe in England it can be attributed in some measure to the general custom of sending boys to boarding-schools at an early age and confining them in this unnatural environment during adolescence. But there are so many confusing and contributing factors to the disease that it is difficult to isolate one particular cause. I have seen scores of thoroughly normal men and women turn to perversion in their forties or fifties simply through boredom, or idleness, or dissatisfaction.

Mr Sulu became bored

In a large measure, women are greatly to blame for the increase in homosexuality. They are unconscious carriers of the germ. For older women, particularly those who are rich and manless, whose husbands have died or who have never married, the homosexual is the complete answer. 

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A further carrier of the germ is the mother caught up by an almost incestuous love for an only son, whom she constantly keeps beside her, pampering him and denying him the normal friendship of other women. Little do such mothers realise the perverted prison to which they condemn their beloved sons.

nursemyra’s eldest son

A number may say, ‘How can you take up this attitude when you know very well a number of these men are among your friends and acquaintances?’ It is quite true. I am guilty of contradiction here. But I just cannot apply the same rules to genius. It may be morally indefensible but I feel there must be one law for the especially rich in mind and another for the remainder.

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Until last year dressmakers and interior decorators were holding their position on the social roost in Paris. Now I see a change; there are signs that their prestige is on the wane, in a word that they are slipping from their favoured niche. People are growing a little bored with them. And something of the same thing is happening, in Paris at least, with the sash boys. At my last party out of four hundred there were only nine present.

To my mind, it is in the power of women to stop the spread of homosexuality, to set up a barrier to their effete, lavender decadence by no longer courting and coddling their presence in their homes and at their parties. A dearth of hospitality will achieve a quicker death to homosexuality than any act of Parliament.

Most chroniclers of Elsa Maxwell’s life claim she was a lesbian. She lived with Dickie Gordon-Fellowes for nearly fifty years.

image found here

*from a review by Brooks Peters found here

scarlet boots and easy virtue

I was reading an article recently where the author, after being shown around the Hotel Granvia Kyoto by a smiling, bowing Japanese lady was momentarily disconcerted when she concluded her tour by holding up a sign “People with tattoos, and other unsuitable hotel guests, will not be allowed in the pool”. The author suggested it was intended to discourage members of the feared Yakuza though I would have thought a mere sign wouldn’t be much of a deterrent to those guys…..

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Back in 18th century New York, the Delmonico*** family were also concerned about running a respectable establishment. No man was permitted to eat alone with a woman in the private rooms, all of which had to have their doors left open and be regularly visited by the staff to ensure that nothing improper was taking place.

Mark Twain at Delmonico’s

Delmonico’s was also famous for its cotillion dinners, limited to 100 subscribers at a time. Mrs Pierre Lorillard Ronalds hosted one of these where guests were required to dress in extravagant costumes. She arrived representing “Music”; her gown was embroidered with the score of an Italian ballet and on her head she flaunted a tiara composed of musical notes grouped around a harp, from jets in which flickered flames that were fed by a gas cylinder concealed by false hair. The reporters next day also drew attention to her scarlet boots encircled by tiny tinkling bells which were identical with those worn by women of easy virtue in Water Street. This upset the conservative Delmonicos greatly.

Mrs Fanny Rolands

But one man appeared to be exempt to their moral strictures.  Colonel D’Alton Mann, was the editor of a notorious weekly magazine, Town Topics, that filled its columns with society scandals. Rumour had it that the most salacious tidbits never made it into the magazine because when the copy had been set up in print, the Colonel would make straight for Delmonico’s with the galley proofs and seat himself at a reserved table near the entrance where he could observe his quarry’s arrival at once.

Colonel Mann

While waiting, he usually ate 6 mutton chops served with liver, kidneys and baked yams, and well irrigated by a bottle of the best champagne. To the amusement of those in his vicinity, he often made appreciative “woof woof” noises.

When the person whom the Colonel was seeking came in, accompanied by his wife or some other guest, the Colonel would tip a page to say he was wanted urgently on the bar telephone. There the Colonel would be already installed with two glasses and another bottle of champagne. “Just the fellow I want to see!” he would exclaim. “I was leaving for lunch when this proof turned up from the composing room. It’s about you, would you cast your eye over it for accuracy?”

Dismayed by what he read, the other would readily agree to ‘lend’ the Colonel £500 in return for which he would be given the galley proof and assured the story would never be published. D’Alton always kept his word and some people even regarded it as a sort of compliment to be considered of sufficient importance to merit his attention.

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*** excerpt from Foie Gras and Trumpets by Charles Neilsen Gattey

Published in: on August 18, 2010 at 8:23 am  Comments (43)  
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slumming in a cheap nightclub

Sir Francis Henry Laking, Baronet and Royal Surgeon, was knighted in 1893. In 2004, historian Tor Bomann-Larsen published revelations concerning him that rocked the royal family of Norway.

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Bomann-Larsen makes an interesting case for King Haakon’s royal physician Sir Francis Laking as Olav’s real father. The book contains a photograph of Laking’s son Guy Francis Laking, born in 1875, who bears a striking resemblance to the adult King Olav. Bomann-Larsen also raises the possibility that Laking’s son was a possible sperm donor for Queen Maud, and that Olav was the result of artificial insemination.

Guy and Olav

The royal couple had been childless for six years before his birth in 1903, and Prince Carl was in Denmark while Princess Maud was in England at the most likely time for his conception.

The third Baronet was also named Sir Guy Francis Laking. Unlike his grandfather and father he did not seem particularly interested in medicine or museums. According to Tallulah Bankhead he was the greatest mischief maker in all England.

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“He was witty, malicious and petulant and lipthed when he spoke. When Tony Wilson and I were on the brink of wedlock Francis surpassed himself in offensiveness. We were slumming in a cheap nightclub with a crooked chemin de fer game upstairs when I spied the evil Francis nearby. He sent Tony a note via a waiter that stated “You’re a pimp”. Tony was furious and hunted him down in his rooms.

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“You can’t tuth me, you can’t tuth me, I’m on Tom Tiddleth ground” he cried.

Sir Francis was loathsome in many ways, yet his pranks and talent for troublemaking fascinated me. More than once I went round to the Bow Street jail to ransom him when he had been plucked from the gutter by a bobby. Even in death he was fantastic. He died at the age of 26 after drinking too much yellow chartreuse. His Will stated that he left “to my friend Tallulah Bankhead, all my motor cars”

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It was a posthumous prank. He never had a car to his name.

Published in: on July 14, 2010 at 8:05 am  Comments (34)  
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de wolf in sheep’s clothing

Famous Hollywood columnist Hedda Hopper was born Elda Furry. When she married actor DeWolf Hopper she consulted an astrologer cum numerologist who advised her to change her first name to Hedda. At least it sounded less like the names of DeWolf’s previous four wives: Edna, Ida, Ella and Nella.

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DeWolf was over 25 years older than Hedda. Bald from childhood (he had alopecia), Hopper wore wigs both on and offstage. In later years, a reaction to harsh medicines that he took for throat problems made his skin have a bluish tinge. With an insatiable appetite for young actresses, he left a long trail of wives and countless mistresses in his wake — he became known by the nickname “The Husband of His Country.”

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Hedda divorced him in 1922 and devoted herself to her gossip column, courting controversy wherever she went.

After publishing a blind item on Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy’s relationship, Tracy confronted her at Ciro’s and kicked her in the behind. Similarly, after she had printed a story about an extramarital affair between Joseph Cotten and Deanna Durbin, Cotten ran into Hopper at a social event and pulled out her chair, only to pull it out from under her when she sat down.  She reportedly tried to “out” Cary Grant and Randolph Scott as gay lovers, but Grant was too big a star even for her to touch. Joan Fontaine sent Hopper a skunk one Valentine’s Day with a note reading “I stink and so do you”. Hedda merely said that the skunk was beautifully behaved. She christened it Joan and passed it on to James Mason as a present.

Joan Fontaine

***In a March 1927 edition of Screen World Magazine, Hedda reported this April Fools Day story. EDITOR’S NOTE: Mae West was responsible for this new item being planted, and the so-called Queen of the Show Biz title. As she relates in her unpublished account of the match below, Mae was trying to promote herself to the Hollywood, and she thought beating the “IT” Girl, Clara Bow, would be her ticket to Tinsel Town.

“Boxing is in Mae’s blood. The daughter of pro fighter “Battling Jack” West, Mae knows her way around the ring, and loves it! Says she: “Look, dearie, if there’s any thing better than “SEX” it’s lacing on the gloves, stepping in the ring, and punchin’ the daylights out of some hussy! There ain’t no canvas made I’d ever lay on. Besides, I know plenty other places that give me more pleasure.”

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Hedda’s rival Louella Parsons then supposedly wrote this riposte

“About the upcoming bout, Clara Bow purrs, then hisses: “I can’t wait! I love to fight so much! I love the smell of my leather boxing gloves! I don’t care how good a fighter Mae West is. I got twelve years on her, and I’m fit and in fighting trim. She’s old news, Louella, and when I’m done, she’s gonna be dead news!”

EDITOR’S NOTE: The Parsons-Hopper animosity is of course legendary, but research indicates that it ran much deeper than professional rivalry. Both women had boxed on the underground circuit in their youth, and clashed in a number of bitterly fought matches, with Hedda the stylish boxer and Louella the shorter brawler. Of the three known bouts, Hedda outpointed Louella over six rounds; Louella knocked out Hedda in the fourth in the rematch; and the two fought to a bitterly contested draw over 12 rounds in the rubber match.”

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*** found at Reocities which appears to specialise in April Fools Day Boxing Stories. None of the characters actually participated in any of this…..

Published in: on May 30, 2010 at 7:49 am  Comments (32)  
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