Saturday, November 28, 2015

Old News is Good News

I offer today the latest collection of tidbits that I have come across while researching articles or just casually browsing the Internet.

Variety, March 14, 1919

The Rossow Midgets were a pair of boxing midgets.


The act toured internationally for more than two decades.  Here are the midgets, Franz and Charles, in offstage outfits.  

The aging performers were soon supplanted by boxing twin midgets, Mike and Ike Matina.

At the time, it amused audiences to see odd pairs square off in a boxing match.

Midget acts in general were a vaudeville staple.

Klinkhart’s Talented Midgets

The Ritter Midgets

The Hans Kasemann Midgets

The Murays Midgets

Some vaudeville entertainers preferred to engage in boxing matches off stage.

Variety, March 14, 1917

I personally prefer a battle between slapstick comedians.  You learn so many creative self-defense techniques from these free-for-all spectacles.  For example, here is the proper way to squeeze a melon.

Roscoe Arbuckle in The Bellboy (1918)

Harold Lloyd in Welcome Danger (1929)

Moe Howard in Sing a Song of Six Pants (1947)

Of course, it is worth it at times to avoid a fight altogether.  You can hide in plain sight by pretending to be a mannequin.

Harry Langdon in Feet of Mud (1924)

Charles Bronson in House of Wax (1953)

Ballard Berkeley is well remembered for playing the senile, amiable old soldier Major Gowen in Fawlty Towers.  After Fawlty Towers, Berkeley made regular appearances on other sitcoms.  He usually played some sort of variation on the Gowen character.

Terry and June ("Swingtime," October 26, 1982)

Fresh Fields ("Hook, Line and Sink Her," March 21, 1984)

Here are publicity stills from the Fox Sunshine comedy Applesauce (1923).

I was amused by this still from Those Athletic Girls (1918).

The film was designed as a vehicle for Louise Fazenda, who played a janitor at a girl's school.  I was able to find other images for the film on the Internet.

Fazenda is disciplining the class dunce, Slim Summerville.  Sitting directly next to Summerville is Marvel Rea and Vera Steadman, who according to Sennett authority Brent Walker play "spunky student pranksters."

Fazenda again appears in this still from the Sennett comedy Are Waitresses Safe? (1917).

 Jimmy Aubrey gives a little girl a piggyback ride in The Decorator (1920).

Universal published a full-page ad in The Moving Picture World to promote Lyons and Moran.

Bobby Vernon is caught in a compromising situation in this ad for the comedian's Christie series.

An ad for 1904 vaudeville show appears in the New York Dramatic Mirror.

Raymond Hatton, who is familiar to fans of The Abbott and Costello Show for playing Hillary Brooke's father in "The Music Lover" episode, was recognized as a versatile character actor in 1919.

A good train stunts always received a write up in the movie magazines.


Here we have a publicity still for Olsen and Johnson's horror comedy Ghost Catchers (1944).

This still is from a German forgery of Charlie Chaplin’s The Kid.

Evidently, this is a good way to win a husband.

Variety, March 14, 1919

Love and death are too often close companions.

Variety, March 14, 1909

The threat of Kaiser Wilhelm II made military preparedness an important matter in 1917.

An early film version of the drill routine was featured in Miss Jackie of the Army (1917).  From the American Film Institute Catalog: "Discontent with the duties of knitting consigned to girls living on the army post, Jackie [Margarita Fischer], the daughter of Col. Kerwood, organizes a girl's brigade, much to the consternation of her father."

A forerunner to Our Gang assembled for drill practice in the 1917 Pathé Exchange release The Little Patriot.  From the American Film Institute Catalog: "Instilled with the spirit of patriotism after her teacher reads to her the story of Joan of Arc, Marie Yarbell [Marie Osbourne] goes home, persuades her father to enlist and then organizes a 'military company' comprised of her playmates."

This is the program for the original Broadway production of The Odd Couple.  The cover photo was replicated by the producers a number of times.

Walter Matthau and Art Carney

Mike Kellin and Eddie Bracken

Pat Hingle and Eddie Bracken

Dan Daily and Richard Benjamin

 Rita Moreno and Sally Struthers

For years, Roscoe Arbuckle was one of the most familiar faces in movie magazines.


I have one last note for the day.  I overlooked this scene from Welcome Danger (1929) in my recent examination of the "black brute" stereotype.