This picture capturing the wonderful rollerskating number Let's Call the Whole Thing Off from Shall We Dance from 1937 showed up in a little antique store in the middle of nowhere in Germany. They had a whole batch of Astaire pictures and I got three of them for the price of one! Yay! A very special find.
There's a really special energy about this picture... unfortunately I don't know anything about its history, other than that it was one of those somebody-found-a-bunch-of-old-pictures-in-some-attic situations (in California). That's all. But if you're perceptive you can feel that some pictures have a stronger energy than others when you hold them in your hands, and this one has something so intriguing about it that I often take it out from my folder and look at it. And not because he's so darn beautiful... although he totally is. Damn it, Ronnie, you were a babe. A terrific actor, too, but virtually forgotten these days, although he's appreciated by classic film lovers everywhere.
It arrived a few days late, but this is what I got myself for Christmas: A gorgeous candid photograph of Carole Lombard and her horse Pico on her ranch in 1937, around the time when she was working on True Confession.
I just about died when I won this picture at an auction, but then I magically came back to life again. Just look at him! He's the sweetest, and I love when he wears white pants. This is one of a series of shots photographer John Miele took of Astaire playing tennis, around the time when he was shooting Shall We Dance in 1937. The image is in excellent condition, everything is super crisp and sharp, and Fred smells amazing! I really can't stop sniffing on these old pictures, I guess it makes me feel like it brings me closer to the golden days.
Charles Farrell was an incredibly effective actor during the silent era (and his hair looked friggin' amazing when it was blowing in the wind), but his career as a leading man dwindled considerably with the introduction of sound, as his voice had a certain Mickey Mouse quality that seemed oddly out of sync with his good looks. But he had a very likeable quality about him and people say he was a wonderful man without a trace of vanity. He eventually moved to Palm Springs where he opened up the Palm Springs Racquet Club together with fellow actor Ralph Bellamy, and he even became the mayor of Palm Springs! The picture is undated, but I'm estimating it's from the early 30s, and it comes with a snipe that says: "A solitaire star: Charles Farrell whiles away a few idle moments in his new home at Malibu". It's quite eerie, since Farrell would spend his later years as a recluse, feeling forgotten and unloved, so him playing solitaire feels like a sort of foreshadowing. What's super special about this particular picture is that it came from the collection of Ed Diamond who ran an entertainment memorabilia store in Palm Desert, who obtained this picture from Farrell's personal estate, meaning that this picture actually belonged to Charles Farrell! It's super exciting to hold this in my hands and think that he must have held it in his hands at one point, too.
* I actually got to talk a little bit about the history of the picture to the seller, a lovely man named Randall, and this is what he told me. "When Mr. Farrell passed away, or possibly before, much or all of his memorabilia went to Ed Diamond who was fairly well connected with movie stars at the time and had a store in Palm Desert, not far from the Farrell household in Palm Springs. Ed Diamond passed away about 1992 and everything was willed to a woman in Kelowna, Canada. It was a large collection and it was put in storage until three years ago. I think she passed away and all was sent to a local auction here in Vancouver. I sold many of my Farrell pieces but still have more. I had a rare Janet Gaynor and Charles Farrell signed photo that I sold too cheaply. You have an interesting photo. I think I had twelve originally from the photo shoot but only have two left."
After making a few beginner's mistakes, I finally got my first proper 8x10 today! It was a special moment. I kinda wanted my first 8x10 to be a Fred Astaire photograph, but my first experiences in the world of collecting weren't very successful—I got tricked into buying three Astaire pictures that turned out not to be originals. So that was that. Anyways, this isn't about Fred (Jesus, I just cannot ever shut up about that guy, can I?), this is about the very lovely and very talented Mr. Barrymore. The picture is undated, but from the looks of it I'm thinking it must be sometime from the late 30s. There's a little pinhole at the top, and on the back someone has marked it in a way that makes it seem like it was being prepared to be printed in a newspaper or magazine. I sat with it for a while today—what a difference to hold an actual vintage photograph in my hands, as opposed to looking at it on a computer screen. I think that's what I will love about collecting—maybe even more than the picture itself it's the history that's attached to it that excites me. To wonder who held this in their hands before me? What was their life like? I like to think that it hung on a wall in a busy newspaper office at some point, and all the guys who worked there wore hats and suspenders and had a cigarette dangling from the corner of their mouths, and they'd yell at each from behind their desks. Just like in the movies! And we're all connected through the Lionel.