Tuesday, 1 April 2014

April Fool 1957

There was a mixed response to the BBC's April Fool joke on Panorama in 1957. Some people were fooled, some found it funny, but some were angry that a serious programme would air something so frivolous.
The hoax documentary showed a family from Ticino in Switzerland carrying out their annual spaghetti harvest, with
women carefully plucking strands of spaghetti from a tree and laying them in the sun to dry. 
It may seem odd that anyone could be fooled by this, but spaghetti was comparatively rare in 1950s Britain, with food rationing only ending in 1954. Also, it is thought to have been the first televised April Fool prank, so it was unexpected.

Original B&W photo.

 The Panorama segment.

Sunday, 30 March 2014

Kate O'Mara

Kate O'Mara, who died today (30th March 2014) aged 74, pictured here in a publicity photo in 1971, at which time she was playing the villain in the ill-fated stage version of the British television show, "The Avengers".

Original B&W photo.

John Sherman

Senator John Sherman, pictured between 1861 and 1865. Sherman mainly concerned himself with financial matters throughout his political career, but two finance Acts were particularly significant in the Civil War. The Confiscation Act of 1861 allowed the government to confiscate any property, including slaves, that were being used to support the Confederate war effort. The Second Confiscation Act of 1862 clarified that slaves "confiscated" under the 1861 Act were freed.
He also supported the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which abolished slavery, in 1864.

Original daguerreotype from the Brady studio.

Friday, 28 March 2014

Joe Mercer

Footballer, and later manager, Joe Mercer, while playing for Arsenal, sometime between 1946 and 1955.
He first played for Ellesmere Port Town, in his birthplace, until he was 18, when he joined Everton, where he stayed until the second world war interrupted play, (though he played in 26 wartime international games), joining Arsenal after the war

Original B&W photo..

Robert G. Ingersoll - "The Great Agnostic"

Robert Green Ingersoll, pictured here sometime between 1865 and 1880.
His father, John Ingersoll, was a Congregationalist minister who was often at odds with his congregation, who would make trivial complaints against him. A church trial which took place while the elder Ingersoll was pastor of the Congregational Church at Madison, Ohio, when Robert was 9, resulted in him being forbidden to preach, though this was later reversed. The unjust treatment of his father is thought to have soured Robert's opinion of Christianity.

Original daguerreotype from the Brady studio.

Thursday, 27 March 2014

The Birth of the Selfies

"Selfies" are a very common phenomenon these days, but the first one was taken in December 1920. Self portraits were nothing new of course, but this kind of pose was.
The photographers holding the camera were Joseph Byron, on the left of this picture, and Ben Falk. Between them, from left to right, were Pirie MacDonald, Colonel Marceau and Pop Core.The photo was taken on the roof of Marceau's studio.


Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Winston At The Beach

Winston Churchill relaxing at the beach in 1922. Presumably this was taken in the summer, and he may have been taking a break from campaigning for the General Election in October, in which he lost his seat. This was while he was a member of the Liberal Party. He returned to Parliament in 1924, then formally rejoined the Conservatives the following year, having left that party in 1904.

Original B&W photo.

Roller-blading, 1910 style.

A demonstration of the Edvard Petri­ni pedalled roller skates, circa 1910, in Swe­den.

Original B&W photo.

Monday, 17 March 2014

Amelia Earhart

Amelia Earhart in 1930, by which time she was heavily involved with promoting aviation, especially for women.

Original B&W photo.

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Karol Józef Wojtyła

A young Karol Józef Wojtyła, later to be known worldwide as Pope John Paul II, probably in 1938, while at Jagiellonian University in Kraków.

Original B&W photo

Saturday, 15 March 2014

Michael Foot

Michael Foot in 1935. That was the year of his first attempt to be elected a Member of Parliament, so this photo might have been taken to use in his campaign.

Original B&W photo.

Alice Wilkie

Alice Wilkie, Ziegfeld girl, in the 1920s.

Original B&W photo.

Bette Davis

Bette Davis in a publicity photo for the film "Ex-Lady" in 1933.

Original B&W photo.

Friday, 14 March 2014

Tony Benn

Anthony Neil Wedgwood "Tony" Benn, seen here in 1961, the year he won a by-election but lost his parliamentary seat of Bristol South East, which he had held since 1950. Benn had inherited the title of Viscount Stansgate when his father died in 1960, so was disqualified from sitting in the House of Commons. Despite this, he stood in the 1961 by-election and won, but an election court declared the seat won by the Conservative runner-up, Malcolm St Clair. Benn then campaigned for a change in the law, which resulted in the Peerage Act 1963, allowing renunciation of peerages. Malcolm St Clair, honouring a promise he made in 1961, stood aside and prompted another by-election, which Benn won.

Original B&W photo.

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Bela Lugosi

This is one of a series of photos that the young Bela Lugosi had taken of himself when he played Jesus in a passion play in the Easter of 1909, in his native Hungary.

Original B&W photo.

Monday, 10 March 2014

Muriel Matters

Muriel Lilah Matters, an Australian born suffragist, lecturer, journalist, educator, actress and elocutionist, based in Britain from 1905 till her death, here shown on a postcard sent in 1909.
She and a colleague,  Helen Fox,  famously chained themselves to an iron grille in the House of Commons as a part of the campaign for women’s suffrage.

Original postcard.

Saturday, 8 March 2014

Marshal Pétain

Henri Philippe Benoni Omer Joseph Pétain, around 1930, while he was still Inspector-General of the Army. He would retire from this post in 1931.
A hero of the first world war, he would sully his name in the second when, in 1940, he headed the Vichy government.
After the war, Pétain was tried and convicted for treason, and sentenced to death, but the new president, De Gaulle, commuted the sentence to life imprisonment.

Original B&W photo.

Thursday, 6 March 2014

Earl Moran and Marilyn

The painting, “Bus Stop” by Earl Moran, is from 1946, so I think this posed photo was taken then, or shortly after. Norma Jeane Dougherty, as Marilyn Monroe was called at this time, posed for Moran in several sessions between 1946 and 1950, usually for photos that Moran would use to paint from.

Original B&W photo. 

A version of the painting as published.

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Nathaniel Hawthorne

Nathaniel Hawthorne, in a Brady Studio photo from the early 1860s.
He was born Nathaniel Hathorne, but changed the spelling to distance himself from some of his ancestors. His great-great-great-grandfather was a notoriously harsh judge. His great-great-grandfather, John Hathorne, was one of the judges at the Salem witch trials.
Among his many writings was “The Scarlet Letter”.

 Original B&W photo.

Monday, 3 March 2014

Jumbo the Elephant

Jumbo the Elephant, about 1882, with, among others, his keeper Matthew Scott, possibly at Madison Square Garden, where he was exhibited as part of the Barnum & Bailey Circus.
Jumbo was given his name about 1865, when he was at London Zoo, by the London Zookeeper Association leader Anoshan Anathajeyasri. The name wasn't a reference to size; we get the word for something large from the name. It was probably a variant of "Jumbe", a Swahili word meaning "Chief".

Original B&W photo.

Sunday, 2 March 2014

The Classic Red Phone Box

Every instance of this photo I've found on the internet has it as London in the late 1930s, but I think that's wrong. The K6 telephone kiosk, shown here being installed, was introduced in 1936 but, as far as I can tell, the installation trailer being used is the one that was introduced in 1953.
The K6 was the first kiosk to be widely installed outside the capitol, so it may not be London either.

Original B&W photo.

Saturday, 1 March 2014

George Foster Peabody

George Foster Peabody, pictured here in March of 1907. In the previous year, he retired from business to pursue a life of public service, though he had long been a philanthropist. He took a special interest in education, particularly of African Americans, and was a trustee of Hampton University in Virginia.

Original B&W photo.

Friday, 28 February 2014

Oliver Hardy

Oliver Hardy, in 1914, the year he made his first movie. Born Norvell Hardy, he took his stage name from his father, who had died less than a year after Norvell's birth. At the time of this photo, he was billed as O.N.Hardy and, because of his height and his heavy build, was usually cast as heavies and villains.

Original B&W photo.

Thursday, 27 February 2014

Stan Laurel

Arthur Stanley Jefferson. better known to the world as Stan Laurel, in character for a solo film role without his famous comedy partner Oliver Hardy. I'm not sure of the date of this one, but I think it's around 1927, which would mean it was around the time the two men first met.

Original B&W photo.

Louis Désiré Blanquart-Evrard

French chemist, printer and photographer, and inventor of the albumen print process in photography, Louis Désiré Blanquart-Evrard in a self-portrait in 1869.

Original albumen print.