Monday, September 21, 2009

Off Blog, But Not Off Topic

Today we go off blog, but not off topic, to visit a blog called “The File on Esther Zidel.” This blog is comprised of scrapbook photos taken by a young woman named Esther Zidel in the late 1930s and 1940s. The photos are of actors and actresses (stage and screen) she seems to have accosted outside the stage doors of Boston, Massachusetts area theaters. Some dressed to the nines; some, like one of Bette Davis, devil-may-care casual. The more famous actors are easily recognizable, but many others are not. See if you can help identify some of these actors, and fill in the blanks.

Ready to go? I’ve got my keys. Last one out, lock the door.


Amanda said...

Thanks for the great link!

Jacqueline T Lynch said...

You're welcome, Amanda. We don't often see such candid photos of the stars in unguarded (and probably surprised) moments.

panavia999 said...

I like the 'snarling' glam photo of Esther Zidel herself. A very enthusiastic celebrity watcher. maybe Esther worked in the theater district so had good opportunities. I imagine celebs are used to being asked for photos but it seems nervy to me to ask.

My mother was a telephone operator in the 40's and 50's. If someone was appearing on stage or making an appearance in San Francisco or the Peninsula and made a long distance call, then my mother worked at the exchange that handled that area. One or more operators would eavesdrop on calls when they recognized a famous person. Yes, it was very much against the rules. This was her assessment of people on whom she eavesdropped...
David Niven: a really nice guy, called his wife every night
Eddie Cantor: the devil incarnate
Bud Abbot: a jerk
Mickey Rooney: very funny, he called his mother and they exchanged dirty jokes
Bing Crosby: a local resident, always polite and businesslike

panavia999 said...

Speaking of unexpected celebrity encounters. We live in the country about 35 miles south of San Francisco. A neighbor lived in a farm house along the highway. One day a "short bald homely man" came to her door and asked to use her phone because his car broke down and he wanted to call a tow truck. (Before cellphones that happened a lot - we always kept the tow truck service phone number at hand.)
So he made his call, and she kept thinking she must know him - he seemed so familiar, especially his voice. He thanked her, offered to pay for the call, she declined, off he went down the driveway and stood by his car for half an hour and a tow truck showed up, got his car started and drove on. Then she realized why the voice was so familiar - it was Bing Crosby. But as she said, "Makeup and a hairpiece sure make a difference."
(Bing Crosby lived near San Francisco.)

Jacqueline T Lynch said...

Panavia, you crack me up. Thanks for the low-down on the stars. Eddie Cantor, the devil incarnate? Too funny. I'm still trying to wrap my head around that one.

I guess the evesdropping and guerrilla picture taking, wrong as it was, still was a lot more innocent than what the stars have to put up with today. I'm not sure the stalkers, the tabloids, and being under a constant microscope is worth the fame or any amount of money.

I wonder if your neighbor would have recognized the short, bald, homely man if he'd suddenly launched into "Moonlight Becomes You."

panavia999 said...

Well, it wasn't unusual for a dweeby businessman to ask to use the phone, but who would expect Bing Crosby at a farm house door? Of course, we only know stars when they perform a part or turn on their public persona; they could be completely different when it's "turned off".
The reason my mother said Eddie Cantor was so awful was they he screamed at the operators if they didn't handle a call to his liking. Maybe he was just having a bad day...
Usually, I'd rather not hear unsavory personal details about performers. I like to learn about professional details, theater life, the training, but not personal stuff. It's about the performance, not the performer's personal life.

Jacqueline T Lynch said...

Still chuckling over Eddie Cantor.

I agree, I'm not as interested in an actor's personal life as I am in his professional work. I imagine most are unlike their public persona. It must be hard to be "on" all the time.

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