Rudyard Kipling’s “Stiff Upper Lip”: From Empire to Tragedy

Rudyard Kipling, born in India in 1865, embodied the spirit of British Imperialism during its peak. His life was a journey of incredible success and unimaginable sorrow, forever marked by the “stiff upper lip” of Victorian stoicism.

Early Years

Growing up in Bombay, Kipling was surrounded by the grandeur and diversity of the British Raj.

 Girgaum Road, Bombay, India c.1895
Girgaum Road, Bombay, India c.1895
Pydownee Street, Bombay, India c1895
Pydownee Street, Bombay, India c1895
Harbour with arriving mail, Bombay, India, c. 1895
Harbour with arriving mail, Bombay, India, c. 1895
Statue of Queen Victoria (Empress of India, 1 May 1876 – 22 January 1901) in front of Victoria Memorial Hall, Kolkata (calcutta). Credit Karthiknanda
Statue of Queen Victoria (Empress of India, 1 May 1876 – 22 January 1901) in front of Victoria Memorial Hall, Kolkata (calcutta). Credit Karthiknanda

Yet, his idyllic childhood was shattered at the age of five when he and his sister were sent to a cruel boarding house in England. For six years they suffered cruelty and neglect at the hands of the evil Mrs Holloway of Lorne Lodge.

Badly-treated children have a clear notion of what they are likely to get if they betray the secrets of a prison-house before they are clear of it.Rudyard Kipling.

Relief came for one month every year when he and his sister visited their maternal Aunt in London. It was a paradise compared to Lorne Lodge.

A paradise which I verily believe saved me.Rudyard Kipling.

When at last his mother returned from India to remove the children from Lorne Lodge, he was able to tell the story.

The experience instilled in him the importance of emotional control, a trait that would remain with him throughout his life.

Around the World

After a brief stint at school, Kipling returned to India to pursue his passion for writing. By the age of 24, he had already published several successful stories and embarked on a breathtaking journey around the world.

Steamboats revolutionized international travel in the late Victorian era

Kipling left India in March 1889, traveling to San Francisco via Rangoon (a region of Myanmar), Singapore, Hong Kong, and Japan.

After falling in love with a Geisha in Tokyo, he continued his journey through the United States, arriving first in San Francisco and traveling on to Portland OR, Seattle, Vancouver, Alberta, Yellowstone National Park, Salt Lake City, Omaha, Chicago, Beaver PA, Niagara Falls, Toronto, Washington D. C., New York, and Boston.

He stopped along the way to visit Mark Twain, arriving unannounced, but being fortunate enough to find Mr Twain at home and happy to put the world to rights over a few whiskeys.

‘Drop by any time’. Mark Twain pondering the world.

Travelling inspired Kipling’s boundless imagination and laid the foundation for his future literary achievements.

Bliss and Tragedy

In Vermont, Kipling found his haven, building a home he called “Bliss Cottage.” Here, surrounded by his wife and daughters, he penned his most beloved works, including the Jungle Books. However, tragedy struck when his young daughter, Josephine, passed away from pneumonia.

This devastating loss left a permanent scar on Kipling’s soul, forcing him to confront the limitations of the “stiff upper lip.”

Poet of the Empire

As Kipling’s fame grew, so did his association with British Imperialism. He became known as the “Poet of the Empire,” writing poems like “The White Man’s Burden” that reflected the ideals and anxieties of the time. His unwavering support for the British cause during the Boer War further cemented this image.

Take up the White Man’s burden—
Send forth the best ye breed—
Go, bind your sons to exile
To serve your captives’ need;
To wait, in heavy harness,
On fluttered folk and wild—
Your new-caught sullen peoples,
Half devil and half child.Rudyard Kipling.

Dreams and Nightmares

In 1902, Kipling purchased a 17th-century mansion called Bateman’s, a place he cherished for its peace and beauty. Here, he continued to write prolifically, achieving the pinnacle of his career.

Bateman's. Credit Tony Grist
Bateman’s. Credit Tony Grist

However, tragedy struck once again with the loss of his son, John, in the First World War. This profound loss left Kipling heartbroken and disillusioned.

John Kipling, 1915

The Scars of War

During the war, Kipling used his powerful pen to write propaganda for the British government.

He held a particularly strong contempt for any man who reneged on his duty to serve his country, calling them outcasts and a disgrace to their family’s name.

What of his family, and, above all, what of his descendants, when the books have been closed and the last balance struck of sacrifice and sorrow in every hamlet, village, parish, suburb, city, shire, district, province, and Dominion throughout the Empire?Rudyard Kipling.
Troops going “over the top”, i.e. emerging from their trenches and charging into “no man’s land” towards enemy lines, often leading to massive casualties.

He viewed the war as a battle between good and evil, civilization and barbarity.

There was no crime, no cruelty, no abomination that the mind of men can conceive of which the German has not perpetrated, is not perpetrating, and will not perpetrate if he is allowed to go on…Today, there are only two divisions in the world…human beings and Germans.Rudyard Kipling.

However, the loss of his son exposed the hollowness of jingoism and forced him to confront the true cost of war.

If any question why we died
Tell them, because our fathers lied.Rudyard Kipling.
“My Boy Jack” by Rudyard Kipling… (Click to View)

“Have you news of my boy Jack?”
Not this tide.
“When d’you think that he’ll come back?”
Not with this wind blowing, and this tide.

“Has any one else had word of him?”
Not this tide.
For what is sunk will hardly swim,
Not with this wind blowing, and this tide.

“Oh, dear, what comfort can I find?”
None this tide,
Nor any tide,
Except he did not shame his kind —
Not even with that wind blowing, and that tide.

Then hold your head up all the more,
This tide,
And every tide;
Because he was the son you bore,
And gave to that wind blowing and that tide!

The Stiff Upper Lip and Its Limits

Kipling’s life was a testament to the complexities of the “stiff upper lip.” While it undoubtedly helped him navigate the trials of his life, it also prevented him from fully expressing his grief and reconciling with his losses. However, his poems like “If—” continue to inspire generations with their message of courage and resilience, even in the face of unimaginable hardship.

“If” by Rudyard Kipling… (click to view)

If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
and treat those two impostors just the same
If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or, being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with triumph and disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,
And stoop and build ‘em up with wornout tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on”;

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings—nor lose the common touch;
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run—
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

A Legacy of Triumph and Tragedy

Rudyard Kipling was a man of contradictions: a champion of empire and a critic of its injustices, a master storyteller and a grieving father. His life and work serve as a reminder of the human capacity for both extraordinary achievements and profound suffering. Through his words, he continues to challenge us to confront the complexities of history, the limitations of stoicism, and the enduring power of love and loss.

Frozen in Time: the Kaiser’s Home in Exile

At the end of World War I, the world desperately needed a scapegoat to help come to terms with four long years of human carnage.

And the widely disliked Kaiser Wilhelm II, Emperor of Germany and King of Prussia, was the man in the firing line.

WWI cemetery, Verdun, France. Credit Paul Arps_wilhelm
WWI cemetery, Verdun, France. Credit Paul Arps_wilhelm

As the eldest grandchild of Queen Victoria, Wilhelm was a first cousin of the British Empire’s King George V, who called him “the greatest criminal in history”.

British Prime Minister David Lloyd George proposed that the Kaiser be hanged.

After all, he had been responsible for the invasion of neutral Belgium and was instrumental in starting a war that killed tens of millions.

But since 1916—halfway through the war—Germany had become a military dictatorship under the control of Field Marshal Paul von Hindenburg and his deputy General Erich Ludendorff.

Look at those faces. You didn’t want to mess with these guys.

Field Marshal Paul von Hindenburg and General Erich Ludendorff, 1916
Field Marshal Paul von Hindenburg and General Erich Ludendorff, 1916

Wilhelm’s role had been effectively relegated to awards ceremonies and honorific duties for the last two years of the war.

Deserted by his own military High Command, Wilhelm abdicated in 1918 and fled to the Netherlands, ending 400 years of the Hohenzollern dynasty.

Thanking the Dutch government for granting him asylum in the Netherlands, Wilhelm sent this telegram to Queen Wilhemina of the Netherlands on November 11, 1918:

The events have forced me to enter your country as a private person and put myself under the protection of your government. The hope, that you would take my difficult situation into account, has not disappointed me, and I offer to you and your Government my sincere thanks for so kindly offering me hospitality. Best regards to you and yours.Wilhelm

Although article 227 of the Treaty of Versailles called for the prosecution of Wilhelm “for a supreme offense against international morality and the sanctity of treaties”, the Dutch government refused to extradite him, despite appeals from the Allies.

Settling initially in the 17th-century Amerongen Castle in the little village of Amerongen in the central Netherlands, Wilhelm called this home for two years before moving to nearby Doorn village.

Amerongen Castle, Netherlands. Credit Ben Bender
Amerongen Castle, Netherlands. Credit Ben Bender

And there it was. One day in 1920, while Wilhelm was househunting in Doorn, he spied the place he would call home for the rest of his life.

Doorn House, 1920. Credit German Federal Archives
Doorn House, 1920. Credit German Federal Archives

Owned by Dutch aristocrat Ella van Heemstra—mother of actress Audrey Hepburn—Wilhelm paid 1.35 million guilders for Doorn House.

Doorn House. Credit Zairon
Doorn House. Credit Zairon

Originally a moated 14th-century castle, Doorn House had been converted into an elegant country house in the 1790s.

Doorn House. Credit GVR
Doorn House. Credit GVR
Doorn House. Credit Ben Bender
Doorn House. Credit Ben Bender

The rear side view shows how deceptively large Doorn House actually is.

Covering 35 hectares with English-style landscaped gardens, the house was filled with antique furniture, paintings, silver, and porcelain from Wilhelm’s palaces in Berlin and Potsdam—30,000 pieces in all, requiring 59 train wagons to transport to Doorn.

Doorn House rear side view. Credit Zairon
Doorn House rear side view. Credit Zairon
Doorn House grounds and pond. Credit Ben Bender
Doorn House grounds and pond. Credit Ben Bender

Modest by what Wilhelm had become accustomed to, Doorn House was, nevertheless, deceptively large—this imposing building was just the entrance gatehouse that Wilhelm added to the property.

Entrance Gate House, Doorn House, Netherlands. Credit Zairon
Entrance Gate House, Doorn House, Netherlands. Credit Zairon

Once through the gatehouse, visitors would pass through more gates to cross a little bridge across a real moat.

Ornamental ironwork gates to bridge over the moat around Doorn House. Credit Basvb
Ornamental ironwork gates to bridge over the moat around Doorn House. Credit Basvb

The grounds even had an Orangerie used to protect tropical plants during the cold winter months.

The Orangerie ay Doorn House. Credit Basvb
The Orangerie ay Doorn House. Credit Basvb

The tasteful dining room once hosted an uneasy dinner with the powerful Nazi Party figure, Hermann Göring.

Dining Room, Doorn House. Credit Sebastiaan ter Burg
Dining Room, Doorn House. Credit Sebastiaan ter Burg

Now a museum, the rooms have been left unchanged since the time the Kaiser lived here.

Doorn House is frozen in time.

Dining Room, Doorn House. Credit Zairon
Dining Room, Doorn House. Credit Zairon
Dining Table centre display, Doorn House. Credit Sebastiaan ter Burg
Dining Table centre display, Doorn House. Credit Sebastiaan ter Burg
Dining Table detail, Doorn House. Credit Sebastiaan ter Burg
Dining Table detail, Doorn House. Credit Sebastiaan ter Burg
The corridor between the men's and women's room on the 1st floor in Doorn House. Credit Sebastiaan ter Burg
The corridor between the men’s and women’s room on the 1st floor in Doorn House. Credit Sebastiaan ter Burg
Doorn House bureau. Credit Hans Splinter, flickr
Doorn House bureau. Credit Hans Splinter, flickr
Living Rooms of the (German) Imperial Family at Doorn House. Credit Zairon
Living Rooms of the (German) Imperial Family at Doorn House. Credit Zairon
Study, Doorn House. Credit Zairon
Study, Doorn House. Credit Zairon
Bedroom, Doorn House. Credit Zairon
Bedroom, Doorn House. Credit Zairon
Bedroom, Doorn House. Credit Zairon
Bedroom, Doorn House. Credit Zairon
Bedroom, Doorn House. Credit Zairon
Bedroom, Doorn House. Credit Zairon
Doorn House dressing table. Credit Hans Splinter, flickr
Doorn House dressing table. Credit Hans Splinter, flickr
Drawing Room, Doorn House. Credit Sebastiaan ter Burg
Drawing Room, Doorn House. Credit Sebastiaan ter Burg

Wilhelm even had the saddle that he sat on while working in Berlin shipped to Doorn.

Study room with saddle used by Kaiser in Berlin. Credit Sebastiaan ter Burg
Study room with saddle used by Kaiser in Berlin. Credit Sebastiaan ter Burg
Doorn House work table. Credit Hans Splinter, flickr
Doorn House work table. Credit Hans Splinter, flickr
Bedroom at Doorn House. Credit Sebastiaan ter Burg
Bedroom at Doorn House. Credit Sebastiaan ter Burg
Oddments on the desk at Doorn House. Credit Hans Splinter, flickr
Oddments on the desk at Doorn House. Credit Hans Splinter, flickr
Doorn House decorative mirror. Credit Hans Splinter, flickr
Doorn House decorative mirror. Credit Hans Splinter, flickr

The Doorn House collection includes snuffboxes and watches that belonged to Frederick the Great.

Snuffboxes at Doorn House. Credit Sebastiaan ter Burg
Snuffboxes at Doorn House. Credit Sebastiaan ter Burg
Mantelpiece clock at Doorn House. Credit Sebastiaan ter Burg
Mantelpiece clock at Doorn House. Credit Sebastiaan ter Burg

Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands bought this lamp as a gift for the exiled Kaiser and his wife.

Lamp donated by Queen Wilhelmina in House Doorn. Credit Sebastiaan ter Burg
Lamp donated by Queen Wilhelmina in House Doorn. Credit Sebastiaan ter Burg

A real water closet—a flush toilet inside of an armoire.

Toilet Closet. Credit Vera de Kok
Toilet Closet. Credit Vera de Kok
Teacups in carriage saucers. Credit Sebastiaan ter Burg
Teacups in carriage saucers. Credit Sebastiaan ter Burg
The kitchen at Doorn House. Credit Sebastiaan ter Burg
The kitchen at Doorn House. Credit Sebastiaan ter Burg
Doorn House detail of ornaments. Credit Hans Splinter, flickr
Doorn House detail of ornaments. Credit Hans Splinter, flickr
Wilhelm's Cantonese ivory chess set. Credit Peter Nederlof, flickr
Wilhelm’s Cantonese ivory chess set. Credit Peter Nederlof, flickr

Wilhelm liked to surround himself with reminders of Prussia’s military hegemony.

Doorn House model soldier. Credit Sebastiaan ter Burg
Doorn House model soldier. Credit Sebastiaan ter Burg
Some of Wilhelm's war regalia. Credit Ziko van Dijk
Some of Wilhelm’s war regalia. Credit Ziko van Dijk

From bombastic Emperor to elderly statesman in exile.

Aging mellows most of us, but was this the case with Wilhelm?

Wilhelm II in 1905 and 1933
Wilhelm II in 1905 and 1933

Shortly after moving into Dorn House, Wilhelm learned that his youngest son, Prince Joachim of Prussia, had committed suicide by gunshot.

Believed to be directly related to Wilhelm’s abdication, 29-year-old Joachim could not accept his new status as a commoner and fell into a deep depression.

Affectionately known as “Dona”, Wilhelm’s first wife, who had been his companion for 40 years, died in the spring the following year.

Empress Auguste Viktoria (1858-1921) and emperor Wilhem II (1859-1941) of Germany
Empress Auguste Viktoria (1858-1921) and emperor Wilhem II (1859-1941) of Germany

When Wilhelm received a birthday greeting in January of 1922 from the son of a recently widowed German Princess, he invited the boy and his mother to Doorn House.

Finding much in common with Princess Hermine, and both being recently widowed, Wilhelm proposed and the two were married in November, 1922.

The Kaiser with his second wife, Hermine, and her daughter, Princess Henriette, 1931
The Kaiser with his second wife, Hermine, and her daughter, Princess Henriette, 1931

Hermine remained a constant companion to the aging emperor until his death in 1941

The Kaiser and his second wife Hermione at Doorn House, 1933
The Kaiser and his second wife Hermione at Doorn House, 1933

It would appear that Wilhelm mellowed in later years and settled for a simple life.

He spent much of his time walking the grounds, chopping wood, and feeding the ducks.

Ex-Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany walking alone on his estate, with cane in hand, 1922. Credit Library of Congress
Ex-Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany walking alone on his estate, with cane in hand, 1922. Credit Library of Congress

There were some great things he had done for Germany.

He promoted art, science, public education, and social welfare.

He sponsored scientific research, helped modernize secondary education, and tried to position Germany at the forefront of modern medical practices.

But historians believe he lacked the personal qualities of a good leader at such a critical juncture in history.

Bluster, rhetoric, and martial swagger cloaked a profound emptiness, for ignorance and self-indulgence were his primary characteristics.Lamar Cecil.
superficial, hasty, restless, unable to relax, without any deeper level of seriousness, without any desire for hard work or drive to see things through to the end, without any sense of sobriety, for balance and boundaries, or even for reality and real problems, uncontrollable and scarcely capable of learning from experience, desperate for applause and successThomas Nipperdey.

Deeply antisemitic and paranoid about a British-led conspiracy to destroy Germany, he did, however, recognize the evils of Nazism:

Of Germany, which was a nation of poets and musicians, of artists and soldiers, Hitler has made a nation of hysterics and hermits, engulfed in a mob and led by a thousand liars or fanatics.Wilhelm on Hitler, December 1938.

Declining an offer of asylum from Winston Churchill when Hitler invaded the Netherlands in May of 1940, Wilhelm must have known the winter of his life was drawing to a close.

Doorn, Netherlands. Credit Ben Bender
Doorn, Netherlands. Credit Ben Bender

He died of pulmonary embolus on 4th June 1941, aged 82, just weeks before the Axis invasion of the Soviet Union.

What a time he had lived through.

A time when Emperors toyed with millions of lives like they were little more than model soldiers in a game of war.

Wilhelm’s dream of returning to Germany as monarch died with him in Doorn, where he is buried in a mausoleum in the gardens.

Mausoleum of Wilhelm II in the grounds of Doorn House, The Netherlands. Credit Basvb
Mausoleum of Wilhelm II in the grounds of Doorn House, The Netherlands. Credit Basvb
A man so various that he seemed to be,
Not one, but all of mankind’s epitome
Fixed in opinion, ever in the wrong
Was all by fits and starts, and nothing long.
English poet Alexander Pope (1688 - 1744)

The Roaring Twenties Fashions: A 5-Minute Guide

Dubbed the “Roaring Twenties” in Britain and America, the “Années folles” (Crazy Years) in France, and the “Golden Twenties” in Germany, the 1920s was a period of sustained economic growth and cultural exuberance that lasted from the end of World War I to the Wall St Crash of 1929.

Out went the rigid Victorian way of life and in came a break with traditions, a disdain for acceptable behavior, and a flouting of social and sexual norms.

Young, rebellious, middle-class women, labeled ‘flappers’ by older generations, did away with the corset and donned slinky knee-length dresses, which exposed their legs and arms.

Women everywhere spread their wings and flew free as if for the first time.

It was a glorious revolution for women’s fashion.

1920s fashion at the Industriemuseum Textilfabrik Cromford in Ratingen, Germany. Credit Geolina163
1920s fashion at the Industriemuseum Textilfabrik Cromford in Ratingen, Germany. Credit Geolina163

Coco Chanel

One of the first women to wear trousers, cut her hair and reject the corset was Coco Chanel.

The only fashion designer listed on Time magazine’s 100 most influential people of the 20th century, Coco Chanel emancipated women’s fashion.

Gabrielle 'Coco' Chanel, 1920
Gabrielle ‘Coco’ Chanel, 1920

One of Chanel’s signature techniques was to take simple designs inspired by service uniforms, riding habits, and even men’s clothing and create exquisitely tailored, expensive interpretations.

In 1926, American Vogue likened Chanel’s “little black dress” to the Ford Model T, alluding to its almost universal popularity as a fashion basic.

1926 Chanel Little Black Dress. metmuseum
1927 Chanel Little Black Dress. Silk, wool, metal. metmuseum

Paul Poiret once called her style “poverty de luxe,” to which Chanel replied, “simplicity does not mean poverty.”

The “little black dress” became one of Chanel’s most popular and enduring contributions to women’s fashion and inspired many simple designs that championed a modern lifestyle and attitude.

1920s Chanel dresses. Left Pink crepe chiffon (1925). Right Blue silk crepe (1926). Credit MFIT
1920s Chanel dresses. Left Pink crepe chiffon (1925). Right Blue silk crepe (1926). Credit MFIT
1920s Chanel Evening dress. Silk, metallic thread, sequins. metmuseum
1920s Chanel Evening dress. Silk, metallic thread, sequins. metmuseum

Carefully cut to follow the floral pattern of the textile, the dress hem and appliqués of chiffon on the jacket below exemplify Chanel’s excellence at soft tailoring.

1929 Chanel Ensemble. Silk, wool. metmuseum
1929 Chanel Ensemble. Silk, wool. metmuseum

A host of fashion designers found fame or peaked during the Roaring Twenties, including Madeleine Vionnet, Paul Poiret, Callot Soeurs, Jeanne Lanvin, Jean Patou, and House of Drécoll.

1920 Madeleine Vionnet dress. French. Silk. metmuseum.org
1920 Madeleine Vionnet dress. French. Silk. metmuseum.org
1927 Evening Dress. Paul Poiret. Silk, metal, plastic
1927 Evening Dress. Paul Poiret. Silk, metal, plastic
1920s. Callot Soeurs. Green and Pink Silk. Passementerie tassels composed of rhinestones, pearls and beads that hang from either shoulder. Acton Art Collection - Villa La Pietra
1920s. Callot Soeurs. Green and Pink Silk. Passementerie tassels composed of rhinestones, pearls and beads that hang from either shoulder. Acton Art Collection – Villa La Pietra
1923 House of Lanvin. French. Silk. metmuseum
1923 House of Lanvin. French. Silk. metmuseum
1926 House of Patou Evening Dress. French. Cotton, plastic, glass, polyester. metmuseum
1926 House of Patou Evening Dress. French. Cotton, plastic, glass, polyester. metmuseum
1924. House of Drécoll. French. Silk, wool. metmuseum
1924. House of Drécoll. French. Silk, wool. metmuseum

Flappers

Said to refer to a young bird flapping its wings while learning to fly, the slang word “flapper” had emerged in England in the late 19th century to describe lively mid-teenage girls.

But it could just as easily have referred to a dancer, flapping her wings to the Charleston dance moves of the Roaring Twenties.

Josephine Baker was one of many celebrities who embraced the flapper fashion movement, becoming a symbol of the jazz age of the 1920s.

Josephine Baker dancing the Charleston at the Folies-Bergère, Paris, 1925
Josephine Baker dancing the Charleston at the Folies-Bergère, Paris, 1925

Going on to star in the major motion picture in 1934—Marc Allégret’s Zouzou—she was the first person of African descent to become a world-famous entertainer.

Orphaned at the age of four and partially raised in foster homes, actress Barbara Stanwyck began her career as a dancer at the Ziegfeld Follies in the New Amsterdam Theatre on Broadway.

Future Hollywood star Barbara Stanwyck, c. 1924
Future Hollywood star Barbara Stanwyck, c. 1924

One of the most elegant and glamorous film stars of the roaring twenties, Norma Talmadge married a wealthy film executive who nurtured her career and with whom she started the Norma Talmadge Film Corporation.

Flocking to see her extravagant movies, women from around the world wanted to be Norma Talmadge.

Norma Talmadge
Norma Talmadge

Popularizing the bobbed haircut and noted as an iconic symbol of the flapper, American film actress and dancer Louise Brooks starred in iconic flapper movies of the late 1920s.

Pandora’s Box and Diary of a Lost Girl were considered shocking portrayals of sexuality and social satire.

Louise Brooks
Louise Brooks

Rising to stardom in silent films, Clara Bow rocketed to global fame in the 1927 romantic comedy “It” about an ambitious shop girl who wants to marry her handsome, wealthy boss.

Earning her the nickname “The It Girl”, the magnetic attraction she portrayed in the movie made her a sex symbol of the Roaring Twenties.

Clara Bow, 1928
Clara Bow, 1928

Besides sharing a love for Roaring Twenties fashion, what these women had in common was the flapper attitude captured in Russell Patterson’s famous illustrations—a confidence that helped empower women to defy traditional notions of their role in society and chart their own course.

'Where there's smoke there's fire' by American artist Russell Patterson
‘Where there’s smoke there’s fire’ by American artist Russell Patterson

Bob Cut

The hairstyle of the decade was a chin-length bob, which had several popular variations.

Older generations used to seeing Edwardian-era pompadour styles found the short bob cuts a shocking statement of young women’s independence.

But acceptance of shorter hair had been gaining ground during World War I.

With most men away fighting in Europe, women took over the factory work and soon came to realize just how impractical and dangerous longer hair was.

As early as 1915, dancer and fashion trendsetter Irene Castle had introduced her own version of the bob to a receptive American audience.

The flappers adopted the bob cut and didn’t look back for the entire decade.

Renée Adorée, French actress who appeared in Hollywood silent movies during the 1920s
Renée Adorée, French actress who appeared in Hollywood silent movies during the 1920s

Louise Brooks and Colleen Moore in particular started a trend that many women followed—short straight hair cut about jaw-level with a fringe or “bangs” at the front.

Louise Brooks. Credit Laura Loveday, flickr
Louise Brooks. Credit Laura Loveday, flickr
Photoplay cover for January 1926 featuring Colleen Moore, based on a painting by Livingston Geer
Photoplay cover for January 1926 featuring Colleen Moore, based on a painting by Livingston Geer

Cloche Hats

As its name implies, the bell-shaped cloche is derived from cloche, the French word for “bell”.

Usually made of felt to comfortably conform to the head, cloches were worn low on the forehead.

By the end of the 1920s, it became fashionable to turn the brims on cloche hats upwards.

A symbol of the Roaring Twenties, cloche hats became obsolete in the early 1930s.

1925 Evening cloche. House of Lanvin. French. Silk, metal
1925 Evening cloche. House of Lanvin. French. Silk, metal
Cloches from the mid-1920s. metmuseum
Cloches from the mid-1920s. metmuseum
1925 Evening cloche. House of Lanvin. French. Cotton, metal
1925 Evening cloche. House of Lanvin. French. Cotton, metal
1920s Actresses. Top Row: Vilma Banky, Evelyn Brent; Middle Row: Joan Crawford; Bottom Row: Greta Garbo
1920s Actresses. Top Row: Vilma Banky, Evelyn Brent; Middle Row: Joan Crawford; Bottom Row: Greta Garbo

Shoes

Rapidly changing fashion meant a cornucopia of shoe designs were available in the 1920s.

High-heels were in vogue, even for dancing, necessitating straps over the instep.

Browns, greys and beiges dominated the first half of the decade, while crocodile, snake and lizard shoes became fashionable in the late 20s.

Pietro Yantorny (1874-1936), the self-proclaimed “most expensive shoemaker in the world”, was a consummate craftsman utterly devoted to the art of shoemaking.

He sought to create the most perfectly crafted shoes possible for a select and exclusive clientele.

1925. Pierre Yantorny. French. Leather. metmuseum
1925. Pierre Yantorny. French. Leather. metmuseum
1925 British. Leather, lined with kid leather and canvas. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
1925 British. Leather, lined with kid leather and canvas. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
1927. French. Calf leather, stamped design, lined with leather and canvas.© Victoria and Albert Museum, London
1927. French. Calf leather, stamped design, lined with leather and canvas.© Victoria and Albert Museum, London
1920s ladies shoes. metmuseum.
1920s ladies shoes. metmuseum.
1928. British. Snake skin, metal buckle, lined with leather and canvas. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
1928. British. Snake skin, metal buckle, lined with leather and canvas. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Wall St Crash of 1929

The exuberance of the Roaring Twenties came crashing down with the Wall St collapse of Black Tuesday, October 29, 1929.

But the profound changes to western culture, especially women’s liberation and equal rights, continue to reverberate to this day.

World War II in Color—the Greatest Generation

At the very end of the 1970 film Tora! Tora! Tora!—about the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor by Imperial Japan—Naval Marshal General Isoroku Yamamoto said,

I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve

America’s response to World War II was the most extraordinary mobilization in the history of the world.

We owe an enormous debt of gratitude to the greatest generation.

M-3 tanks in action, Ft. Knox., Ky
M-3 tanks in action, Ft. Knox., Ky
A young soldier of the armored forces holds and sights his Garand rifle like an old timer, 1942
A young soldier of the armored forces holds and sights his Garand rifle like an old timer, 1942
An M3 Stuart light tank going through water obstacle, Ft Knox, KY, 1942
An M3 Stuart light tank going through water obstacle, Ft Knox, KY, 1942
Crewman of an M-3 tank, Ft. Knox, KY, 1942
Crewman of an M-3 tank, Ft. Knox, KY, 1942
Combustion Engineering Co., Chattanooga. Welder making boilers for a ship
Combustion Engineering Co., Chattanooga. Welder making boilers for a ship
Cleaning the air filter of an army truck 1942
Cleaning the air fillter of an army truck 1942
M3 Stuart light tanks at Fort Knox, Kentucky, 1942
M3 Stuart light tanks at Fort Knox, Kentucky, 1942
M-3 and M4 tank company at bivouac, Ft. Knox, KY, 1942
M-3 and M4 tank company at bivouac, Ft. Knox, KY, 1942
Halftrack infantryman with Garand rifle, Ft. Knox, KY, 1942
Halftrack infantryman with Garand rifle, Ft. Knox, KY, 1942
Better known as the Flying Fortress, the B-17F bomber is a later model of the B-17, which distinguished itself in action in the south Pacific, over Germany and elsewhere. It is a long range, high altitude, heavy bomber, with a crew of seven to nine men -- and with armament sufficient to defend itself on daylight missions
A girl riveting machine operator at the Douglas Aircraft Company plant joins sections of wing ribs to reinforce the inner wing assemblies of B-17F heavy bombers, Long Beach, Calif. Better known as the Flying Fortress, the B-17F bomber is a later model of the B-17, which distinguished itself in action in the south Pacific, over Germany and elsewhere. It is a long range, high altitude, heavy bomber, with a crew of seven to nine men — and with armament sufficient to defend itself on daylight missions
M-3 tanks and crews, Ft. Knox, Ky
M-3 tanks and crews, Ft. Knox, Ky
Hitler would like this man to go home and forget about the war. A good American non-com at the side machine gun of a huge YB-17 bomber is a man who knows his business and works hard at it.
Hitler would like this man to go home and forget about the war. A good American non-com at the side machine gun of a huge YB-17 bomber is a man who knows his business and works hard at it.
B-25 bombers on the outdoor assembly line at the North American Aviation plant in Kansas City, Kansas. Almost ready for their first test flight.
B-25 bombers on the outdoor assembly line at the North American Aviation plant in Kansas City, Kansas. Almost ready for their first test flight.
Women workers install fixtures and assemblies to a tail fuselage section of a B-17 bomber at the Douglas Aircraft Company plant, Long Beach, Calif. Better known as the "Flying Fortress," the B-17F is a later model of the B-17, which distinguished itself i
Women workers install fixtures and assemblies to a tail fuselage section of a B-17 bomber at the Douglas Aircraft Company plant, Long Beach, Calif. Better known as the “Flying Fortress,” the B-17F is a later model of the B-17, which distinguished itself i
Mounting of a Wright R-2600 Cyclone engine on a North American B-25 Mitchell bomber, at North American Aviation, Inglewood, California (USA). The Wright R-2600 was the standard engine on the B-25.[1] Original description: "Mounting motor [on a] Fairfax B-25 bomber, at North American Aviation, Inc., plant in [Inglewood], Calif."
Mounting of a Wright R-2600 Cyclone engine on a North American B-25 Mitchell bomber, at North American Aviation, Inglewood, California (USA). The Wright R-2600 was the standard engine on the B-25.[1] Original description: “Mounting motor Fairfax B-25 bomber, at North American Aviation, Inc., plant in , Calif.”
An experimental scale model of the B-25 plane is prepared for wind tunnel tests in the plant of the North American Aviation, Inc, Inglewood, Calif, The model maker holds an exact miniature reproduction of the type of bomb the plane will carry.
An experimental scale model of the B-25 plane is prepared for wind tunnel tests in the plant of the North American Aviation, Inc, Inglewood, Calif, The model maker holds an exact miniature reproduction of the type of bomb the plane will carry.
A U.S. Navy aviation cadet in training on a Vought OS2U Kingfisher at the Naval Air Station Corpus Christi, Texas (USA)
A U.S. Navy aviation cadet in training on a Vought OS2U Kingfisher at the Naval Air Station Corpus Christi, Texas (USA)
A North American Mustang Mk. IA on a test flight from NAA's Inglewood, California facility in October 1942. The painted-over serial number appears to be 41-37416. According to Warbird-Central.com it was damaged during shipment to Europe in late 1943.
A North American Mustang Mk. IA on a test flight from NAA’s Inglewood, California facility in October 1942. The painted-over serial number appears to be 41-37416. According to Warbird-Central.com it was damaged during shipment to Europe in late 1943.
American mothers and sisters, like these women at the Douglas Aircraft Company, give important help in producing dependable planes for their men at the front, Long Beach, Calif. Most important of the many types of aircraft made at this plant are the B-17F
American mothers and sisters, like these women at the Douglas Aircraft Company, give important help in producing dependable planes for their men at the front, Long Beach, Calif. Most important of the many types of aircraft made at this plant are the B-17F
A U.S. Navy Brewster SB2A-4 Buccaneer in flight near Vero Beach, Florida (USA), in 1942
A U.S. Navy Brewster SB2A-4 Buccaneer in flight near Vero Beach, Florida (USA), in 1942
Parade of M-4 (General Sherman) and M-3 (General Grant) tanks in training maneuvers, Ft. Knox, Ky,1942
Parade of M-4 (General Sherman) and M-3 (General Grant) tanks in training maneuvers, Ft. Knox, Ky,1942
Tank commander, Ft. Knox, Ky.
Tank commander, Ft. Knox, Ky.
Tank crew standing in front of M4 Sherman tank; Fort Knox, Kentucky, 1942
Tank crew standing in front of M4 Sherman tank; Fort Knox, Kentucky, 1942
Tank driver, Ft. Knox, Ky, 1942
Tank driver, Ft. Knox, Ky, 1942
Switch boxes on the firewalls of B-25 bombers are assembled by women workers at North American Aviation, Inc's Inglewood, Calif, plant
Switch boxes on the firewalls of B-25 bombers are assembled by women workers at North American Aviation, Inc’s Inglewood, Calif, plant
Servicing an A-20 bomber, Langley Field, Va
Servicing an A-20 bomber, Langley Field, Va
Production of B-24 bombers and C-87 transports, Consolidated Aircraft Corp., Fort Worth, Texas. Cabbie Coleman, former housewife, works at western aircraft plant
Production of B-24 bombers and C-87 transports, Consolidated Aircraft Corp., Fort Worth, Texas. Cabbie Coleman, former housewife, works at western aircraft plant
Operating a hand drill at North American Aviation, Inc, a woman is working in the control surface department assembling a section of the leading edge for the horizontal stabilizer of a plane, Inglewood, Calif.
Operating a hand drill at North American Aviation, Inc, a woman is working in the control surface department assembling a section of the leading edge for the horizontal stabilizer of a plane, Inglewood, Calif.
North American NA-91 Mustang fighters being serviced at North American Aviation at Inglewood, California (USA), in October 1942. After passing of the lend-lease act in March 1941, the USAAF ordered 150 NA-93 Mustang Mk IA fighters on 25 September 1941 for delivery to the United Kingdom. The RAF serial numbers assigned were FD418-FD567 (FD553 is visible on the left). For contractual purposes, these aircraft were assigned the U.S. designation of P-51 (USAAF serials 41-37320 to 41-37469). The Mustang IA differed from earlier versions in having the machine guns replaced by four 20 mm wing-mounted Hispano cannon. After December 1941 serials FD418-FD437, FD450-FD464, FD466-FD469, and FD510-FD527 were reposessed by the USAAF (and briefly named A-36A Apache). Original caption: "P-51 fighter planes being prepared for test flight at the field of the North American Aviation, Inc., plant in Inglewood, Calif.
North American NA-91 Mustang fighters being serviced at North American Aviation at Inglewood, California (USA), in October 1942. After passing of the lend-lease act in March 1941, the USAAF ordered 150 NA-93 Mustang Mk IA fighters on 25 September 1941 for delivery to the United Kingdom. The RAF serial numbers assigned were FD418-FD567 (FD553 is visible on the left). For contractual purposes, these aircraft were assigned the U.S. designation of P-51 (USAAF serials 41-37320 to 41-37469). The Mustang IA differed from earlier versions in having the machine guns replaced by four 20 mm wing-mounted Hispano cannon. After December 1941 serials FD418-FD437, FD450-FD464, FD466-FD469, and FD510-FD527 were reposessed by the USAAF (and briefly named A-36A Apache). Original caption: “P-51 fighter planes being prepared for test flight at the field of the North American Aviation, Inc., plant in Inglewood, Calif.
M-4 tank, Ft. Knox, KY, 1942
M-4 tank, Ft. Knox, KY, 1942
M-4 tank crews of the United States, Ft. Knox, KY, 1942
M-4 tank crews of the United States, Ft. Knox, KY, 1942
Assembling the North American B-25 Mitchell at Kansas City, Kansas (USA).
Assembling the North American B-25 Mitchell at Kansas City, Kansas (USA).
North American B-25 bomber is prepared for painting on the outside assembly line, North American Aviation, Inc., Inglewood, Calif
North American B-25 bomber is prepared for painting on the outside assembly line, North American Aviation, Inc., Inglewood, Calif
Part of the cowling for one of the motors for a B-25 bomber is assembled in the engine department of North American Aviation's Inglewood, Calif., plant
Part of the cowling for one of the motors for a B-25 bomber is assembled in the engine department of North American Aviation’s Inglewood, Calif., plant
Bomb bay gasoline tanks for long flights of B-25 bombers await assembly in the plant of North American Aviation, Inc., Inglewood, Calif. This plant produces the battle-tested B-25 ("Billy Mitchell") bomber used in General Doolittle's raid on Tokyo, and the P-51 ("Mustang") fighter plane which was first brought into prominence by the British raid on Dieppe.
Bomb bay gasoline tanks for long flights of B-25 bombers await assembly in the plant of North American Aviation, Inc., Inglewood, Calif. This plant produces the battle-tested B-25 (“Billy Mitchell”) bomber used in General Doolittle’s raid on Tokyo, and the P-51 (“Mustang”) fighter plane which was first brought into prominence by the British raid on Dieppe.
A combat crew receives final instructions just before taking off in a YB-17 bomber from a bombardment squadron base at the field, Langley Field, Va.
A combat crew receives final instructions just before taking off in a YB-17 bomber from a bombardment squadron base at the field, Langley Field, Va.
Annette del Sur publicizing salvage campaign in yard of Douglas Aircraft Company, Long Beach, Calif.
Annette del Sur publicizing salvage campaign in yard of Douglas Aircraft Company, Long Beach, Calif.

References
The Way We Won: America’s Economic Breakthrough During World War II
Wikipedia.org

A 5-Minute Guide to Callot Soeurs Couture

When a young painting conservator from New York University happened upon some Louis Vuitton trunks in a 15th-century Florentine villa, she could not believe what was inside.

Undisturbed for almost 90 years were the most beautiful dresses she had ever seen, each with the label “Callot Soeurs”.

This was no ordinary find. Not many Callot Soeurs dresses have survived in such pristine condition.

They belonged to Hortense Mitchell Acton, an heiress from Chicago, married to Arthur Acton, a successful Anglo-Italian art collector and dealer.

Chicago heiress Hortense Mitchell Acton. Acton Art Collection - Villa La Pietra
Chicago heiress Hortense Mitchell Acton. Acton Art Collection – Villa La Pietra

Mrs Acton had been a valued client of Callot Soeurs from the moment they opened their couture house in 1895.

The Callot sisters—Marie Gerber, Marthe Bertrand, Régine Tennyson-Chantrelle, and Joséphine Crimont—rose to become the premier dressmaking house of the Belle Époque.

After losing Joséphine to suicide in 1897, Marie, Marthe and Régine continued to run the business.

Vogue magazine called them the Three Fates, and declared they were “foremost among the powers that rule the destinies of a woman’s life and increase the income of France.”

1920s. Green and Pink Silk. Passementerie tassels composed of rhinestones, pearls and beads that hang from either shoulder. Acton Art Collection - Villa La Pietra
1920s. Green and Pink Silk. Passementerie tassels composed of rhinestones, pearls and beads that hang from either shoulder. Acton Art Collection – Villa La Pietra

Among the first of the design houses to reject the corset, Callot Soeurs knew what women wanted—more freedom of movement, fluid lines, and exquisite detail.

In a male dominated business, the sisters stood out by including the word “Soeurs” (French for sisters) in their label.

For Hortense Acton, Callot Soeurs’ gowns were perfect for throwing parties at La Pietra—the Acton’s Florentine villa. She entertained everyone from Gertrude Stein to Winston Churchill.

La Villa Pietra. Credit sailko
La Villa Pietra. Credit sailko

Just how the dresses survived is somewhat of a miracle.

When the Fascists took over Italy, most of Mrs. Acton’s expatriate friends upped and left.

But not her husband. He was determined to stay, ride out the storm and look after the house and art collection.

1920s. Acton Art Collection - Villa La Pietra
1920s. Acton Art Collection – Villa La Pietra

Poor Hortense Acton stayed with him, only to be arrested and imprisoned. The villa and art collection were confiscated.

As if from a scene out of the Sound of Music, both Actons eventually managed to escape through Switzerland.

Perhaps overlooked … perhaps fate .. these incredible gowns somehow survived.

Today, they form part of a collection at La Pietra which was bequeathed to New York University in 1994.

1920s. Acton Art Collection - Villa La Pietra
1920s. Acton Art Collection – Villa La Pietra

Several other Museums house a collection of Callot Soeurs gowns, including The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology, and the Museum of Decorative Arts, Paris.

1915 Callot Soeurs. Silk, metal, pearl, metmuseum
1915 Callot Soeurs. Silk, metal, pearl, metmuseum

In each case, the collections show the signature elements of the house of Callot Soeurs: antique lace trimming, Orientalist textiles, lavish embroidery, and bead- or ribbonwork.

1914 Callot Soeurs. Silk, metal. metmuseum
1914 Callot Soeurs. Silk, metal. metmuseum
1914. Callot Soeurs. Silk, metal. metmuseum
1914. Callot Soeurs. Silk, metal. metmuseum

Exemplifying the fashion aesthetic of the time, this 1914 gown uses multiple layers and textures to give the appearance of an unstructured and spontaneous design.

1914 Callot Soeurs. Silk, metal, rhinestones
1914 Callot Soeurs. Silk, metal, rhinestones

One of Callot Soeurs’s greatest supporters was American socialite Rita de Acosta Lydig, regarded as “the most picturesque woman in America.”

Ordering dozens of dresses at a time, she would design them herself and have them handmade by Callot Soeurs.

So exacting were her tastes that when she discovered her husband was having an affair with a poorly dressed woman, she sent the mistress to Callot Soeurs for new clothing.

She wore a silver Callot Soeurs dress for this 1911 Giovanni Boldini portrait.

Rita de Acosta Lydig by Giovanni Boldini, 1911
Rita de Acosta Lydig by Giovanni Boldini, 1911
1910. Robe du soir, Callot Sœurs, Paris. Satin, tulle, dentelle métallique, broderie de filé, lame or et perles. Coll. UFAC, don Debray
1910. Robe du soir, Callot Sœurs, Paris. Satin, tulle, dentelle métallique, broderie de filé, lame or et perles. Coll. UFAC, don Debray

In Marcel Proust’s second volume of “Remembrance of Things Past”, he asks his girlfriend, “Is there a vast difference between a Callot dress and one from any other shop?” To which she replied, “Why, an enormous difference. Only, alas! What you get for 300 francs in an ordinary shop will cost you two thousand there. But there can be no comparison; they look the same only to people who know nothing about it.”

1925. Callot Soeurs. Cotton, silk, plastic, glass. metmuseum
1925. Callot Soeurs. Cotton, silk, plastic, glass. metmuseum
1925. Callot Soeurs. Cotton, silk, plastic, glass. metmuseum
1925. Callot Soeurs. Cotton, silk, plastic, glass. metmuseum
1900 Callot Soeurs. Silk. metmuseum
1900 Callot Soeurs. Silk. metmuseum
1900 Callot Soeurs. Silk. metmuseum
1900 Callot Soeurs. Silk. metmuseum
1900 Callot Soeurs. Silk. metmuseum
1900 Callot Soeurs. Silk. metmuseum
1913. Woman's Lounging Pajamas. Callot Soeurs. Silk net (tulle) and silk satin (charmeuse) with metallic-thread passementerie and silk tassels. Credit LACMA.
1913. Woman’s Lounging Pajamas. Callot Soeurs. Silk net (tulle) and silk satin (charmeuse) with metallic-thread passementerie and silk tassels. Credit LACMA.
1911. Callot Soeurs. Silk, cotton, metallic thread, metal beads. metmuseum
1911. Callot Soeurs. Silk, cotton, metallic thread, metal beads. metmuseum
1911. Callot Soeurs. Silk, cotton, metallic thread, metal beads. metmuseum
1911. Callot Soeurs. Silk, cotton, metallic thread, metal beads. metmuseum
1911. Callot Soeurs. Silk, cotton, metallic thread, metal beads. metmuseum
1911. Callot Soeurs. Silk, cotton, metallic thread, metal beads. metmuseum
1908 Callot Soeurs. Silk, bead, linen, metal. metmuseum
1908 Callot Soeurs. Silk, bead, linen, metal. metmuseum
1915 Woman's Dress. Callot Soeurs. Linen lace and silk satin with silk-knotted fringe. LACMA
1915 Woman’s Dress. Callot Soeurs. Linen lace and silk satin with silk-knotted fringe. LACMA
Callot Soeurs, evening dress, 1909-1913. Silk satin metallic tulle and silk tulle. Collection UFAC © Les Arts Décoratifs, Paris photo Jean Tholance
Callot Soeurs, evening dress, 1909-1913. Silk satin metallic tulle and silk tulle. Collection UFAC © Les Arts Décoratifs, Paris photo Jean Tholance

Callot Soeurs often used delicate materials in their very feminine creations.

Renowned for their exquisite lacework, such as this black, imbricated leaf pattern overlaid on pale taffeta. Finely embellished with black and silver sequins and rhinestones, this dress was exemplary of fashions in La Belle Époque.

1909. Evening Dress. Callot Soeurs. Black lace, white taffeta, sequins and rhinestones. Museum at FIT
1909. Evening Dress. Callot Soeurs. Black lace, white taffeta, sequins and rhinestones. Museum at FIT

By the Roaring Twenties, Callot Soeurs had branches in Nice, Biarritz, Buenos Aires, and London.

Ladies’ Home Journal of 1922 wrote,

Callot probably has more rich clients than any other establishment in the world. They come from South America, from South Africa, and as far east as Japan.
1926. Women's dresses. Callot Soeurs. LACMA
1926. Women’s dresses. Callot Soeurs. LACMA
1910 Callot Soeurs. Cotton, Silk, metal. metmuseum
1910 Callot Soeurs. Cotton, Silk, metal. metmuseum

One of the twentieth century’s greatest designers—Madeleine Vionnet—was Callot’s head of the workroom, or première, before venturing out on her own.

She considered her time at Callot invaluable later in her career.

Without the example of the Callot Soeurs, I would have continued to make Fords. It is because of them that I have been able to make Rolls RoycesMadeleine Vionnet

And she expressed great respect for the house’s head designer, Madame Gerber.

A true dressmaker and a great lady totally occupied with a profession that consists of adorning women . . . not constructing a costume.Madeleine Vionnet
Madeleine Vionnet, evening dress, Haute couture winter 1935. Silk crêpe. Collection UFAC © Les Arts Décoratifs, Paris. Photo Jean Tholance
Madeleine Vionnet, evening dress, Haute couture winter 1935. Silk crêpe. Collection UFAC © Les Arts Décoratifs, Paris. Photo Jean Tholance

References

Transatlantic Modernities
Twenty One Dresses by the New Yorker
Metropolitan Museum of Art

18 Halloween Pin-Ups from Hollywood’s Golden Age

The Golden Age of Hollywood was a period stretching from the introduction of sound in around 1927 to the beginning of the demise of the studio system with Howard Hughes’ agreement to breakup RKO in 1948/49.

During the Golden Age, there were eight Hollywood studios that were commonly known as the “majors”. Of these eight, five were fully integrated conglomerates, combining ownership of a production studio, distribution division, and a substantial theater chain: Fox Film Corporation (later 20th Century-Fox), Loew’s Incorporated (owner of America’s largest theater circuit and parent company to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer), Paramount Pictures, RKO Radio Pictures, and Warner Bros.

By 1939, there were more movie theaters in the United States than banks. The cinema industry was larger than office machines or supermarkets. It cost around 20¢ to see a movie.

The studio system of the Golden Age created many incredibly gifted actresses. Here are just a few who happen to have posed for Halloween portraits during their careers.

The History of Handbags — a 5-Minute Guide

Today’s designer handbags have a long and storied history.

Early Europeans used handbags just as we do today—to store personal belongings needed for the day. Clothing had no pockets until the 17th century, so men also carried handbags for things like coins, alms, and relics.

Worn attached to a belt, this 16th-century buckle bag had 18 secret compartments. For the aristocratic gentleman, it was a status symbol.

1500s. French. Goat's leather belt puch with iron frame and 18 pockets, some behind secret closures. French. Silk. Tassenmuseum Netherlands
1500s. French. Goat’s leather belt puch with iron frame and 18 pockets—some behind secret closures. French. Silk. Tassenmuseum Netherlands

The First Man-Purse?

The sporran played a similar role in the highlands of Scotland—part utilitarian, part symbol of wealth and status.

A belted plaid with sporran as worn by a reenactor of Scottish history.
A belted plaid with sporran as worn by a reenactor of Scottish history.

A 16th-Century Messenger Bag?

As pockets became an integral part of clothing during the 17th century, men no longer needed to carry handbags for anything other than the bulkiest of items—books, documents, and letters.

Late 1500s. Leather book bag. Tassenmuseum Netherlands
Late 1500s. Leather book bag. Tassenmuseum Netherlands

Chatelaine Bags

From the 16th century, women often wore a decorative clasp at the waist with a series of chains attached, called a chatelaine. Suspended from it were useful household accessories such as scissors, keys, and sewing tools. Crafted from precious metals, chatelaines were considered as jewelry and status symbols.

Wedgwood Chatelaine, Indianapolis Museum of Art. Chatelaine, Tassenmuseum Netherlands. Chatelaine bag, LACMA.
Wedgwood Chatelaine, Indianapolis Museum of Art. Chatelaine, Tassenmuseum Netherlands. Chatelaine bag, LACMA.

Reticules or Indispensables

17th- and 18th-century ladies preferred to carry their particulars in small bags with drawstrings that were known as reticules in France and “indispensables” in England.

Lady from 1830 carry a French reticule handbag. LACMA
Lady from 1830 carry a French reticule handbag. LACMA
Left: A Colonial Coquette by Charles Henry Turner. Right: Frederik VI of Denmark and family out for a stroll by Johannes Senn, 1813
Left: A Colonial Coquette by Charles Henry Turner. Right: Frederik VI of Denmark and family out for a stroll by Johannes Senn, 1813. Both ladies are clutching a reticule.

Using embroidery skills learned from a young age, ladies created designs of great artistry and beauty.

c1680. French. Silk, metal. metmuseum
c1680. French. Silk, metal. metmuseum
1799. Reticule. French. Silk satin with weft-float and supplementary weft-float patterning, silk floss and chenille passementerie with silk fly fringe, and silk cord. LACMA
1799. Reticule. French. Silk satin with weft-float and supplementary weft-float patterning, silk floss and chenille passementerie with silk fly fringe, and silk cord. LACMA

The Dawn of the Designer Handbag

The Industrial Revolution brought steam railways and travel became increasingly popular.

In 1841, Yorkshire entrepreneur Samuel Parkinson, whose Butterscotch confectionary was appointed to the British royal household, wanted to treat his wife to a custom-made set of hand luggage.

He had noticed that her purse was too small and not made of a sturdy enough material for traveling. So he had leather handbags made for her in varying size for different occasions.

Waiting at the Station, Willesden Junction by James Tissot, 1874
Waiting at the Station, Willesden Junction by James Tissot, 1874

Besides durability, Parkinson wanted to distinguish his luggage from that of lower class passengers.

London-based luxury leather goods company H. J. Cave & Sons was more than happy to oblige. Its Osilite trunk became so famous that it won several prizes in the 19th century, including first prize in Paris in 1867.

But most importantly for Mrs. Parkinson, she got to own the world’s first designer handbag.

H. J. Cave’s designs are known to have inspired Louis Vuitton (1857) and a young Guccio Gucci (1910).

Gallery of handbags and purses through history

1700s

c 1720. European. Silk, metal. metmuseum
c 1720. European. Silk, metal. metmuseum
1740. American. Linen, silk. metmuseum
1740. American. Linen, silk. metmuseum

1800s

1800. American. Silk, paper. metmuseum
1800. American. Silk, paper. metmuseum
1800. Mexican. Glass, cottom, linen. metmuseum
1800. Mexican. Glass, cottom, linen. metmuseum
1820. French. Metal. metmuseum
1820. French. Metal. metmuseum
1820. French. Silver. metmuseum
1820. French. Silver. metmuseum
1825. French. Silver. metmuseum
1825. French. Silver. metmuseum
1830. French. metal. metmuseum
1830. French. metal. metmuseum
1850. European. Metal, cotton. metmuseum
1850. European. Metal, cotton. metmuseum
1860. Italian. Silk. metmuseum
1860. Italian. Silk. metmuseum
c 1880. Mexican. Glass, linen, silk. metmuseum
c 1880. Mexican. Glass, linen, silk. metmuseum
1885. American. Cotton, silk, metal. metmuseum
1885. American. Cotton, silk, metal. metmuseum
1890. American. Silk, metallic. metmuseum
1890. American. Silk, metallic. metmuseum
1890. French. Leather. metmuseum
1890. French. Leather. metmuseum
c 1890. French. metla. metmuseum
c 1890. French. metla. metmuseum

1900s

1900. American. Silk, metal, glass. metmuseum
1900. American. Silk, metal, glass. metmuseum
1910. Scottish. Wool, metal. metmuseum
1910. Scottish. Wool, metal. metmuseum
1913. American. Tiffany. Gold. metmuseum
1913. American. Tiffany. Gold. metmuseum
1914. European. Silk, metal. metmuseum
1914. European. Silk, metal. metmuseum
1915. French. Silk, metal, metallic. metmuseum
1915. French. Silk, metal, metallic. metmuseum
1920. Italian. Metal, glass. metmuseum
1920. Italian. Metal, glass. metmuseum
1920. Philippines. Piña, silk. metmuseum
1920. Philippines. Piña, silk. metmuseum
1925. American. Glass, silk. metmuseum
1925. American. Glass, silk. metmuseum
1925. French. Leather, metal, stone. metmuseum
1925. French. Leather, metal, stone. metmuseum
1930. American. Leather, metal. metmuseum
1930. American. Leather, metal. metmuseum
1930. American. Leather, plastic. metmuseum
1930. American. Leather, plastic. metmuseum
1933. American. Leather. metmuseum
1933. American. Leather. metmuseum
1950. French. Cartier. Leather, wool, wood. metmuseum
1950. French. Cartier. Leather, wool, wood. metmuseum
1950s. American. Phelps. Cotton, leather. metmuseum
1950s. American. Phelps. Cotton, leather. metmuseum
1958. Italian. Gucci. Leather, metal. metmuseum
1958. Italian. Gucci. Leather, metal. metmuseum
1965. Italian. Gucci. Leather, wood, metal. metmuseum
1965. Italian. Gucci. Leather, wood, metal. metmuseum
1965. Spanish. Loewe. Leather, metal. metmuseum
1965. Spanish. Loewe. Leather, metal. metmuseum

References
Museum of Bags
Metropolitan Museum of Art
Wikipedia
LACMA

How the Power of Pictures Helped End Child Labor in the United States

During the early decades of the twentieth century, child labor reached a peak in the United States.

American children worked in large numbers in mines, glass factories, textiles, agriculture, canneries, home industries, and as newsboys, messengers, bootblacks, and peddlers.

Social activism and political reform were sweeping across the country, and many states enacted laws to improve the conditions under which people lived and worked.

At the urging of prominent social critics, child labor laws were strengthened, age limits raised, and the work-week shortened—restricting night work and requiring school attendance.


Contains affiliate links The Art of the Piano by Fabrizio Paterlini.

When asked how old, she hesitated, then said “I don’t remember.” Then confidentially, “I’m not old enough to work, but I do just the same.”
One of the spinners in Whitnel Cotton Mfg. Co. N.C. She was 51 inches high. Had been in mill 1 year. Some at night. Runs 4 sides, 48 cents a day. When asked how old, she hesitated, then said "I don't remember." Then confidentially, "I'm not old enough to work, but I do just the same." Out of 50 employees, ten children about her size.
One of the spinners in Whitnel Cotton Mfg. Co. N.C. She was 51 inches high. Had been in mill 1 year. Some at night. Runs 4 sides, 48 cents a day. When asked how old, she hesitated, then said “I don’t remember.” Then confidentially, “I’m not old enough to work, but I do just the same.” Out of 50 employees, ten children about her size.

The National Child Labor Committee (NCLC) was formed in 1904 to promote “the rights, awareness, dignity, well-being and education of children and youth as they relate to work and working.”

But children were being exploited for cheap labor in secret, hidden from public view. So in 1908, the NCLC hired Lewis Hine as an “investigative photographer” to document working and living conditions of children across the United States.

Name: Jo Bodeon. A "back-roper" in mule room. Burlington, Vt. Chace Cotton Mill. Location: Burlington, Vermont.
Name: Jo Bodeon. A “back-roper” in mule room. Burlington, Vt. Chace Cotton Mill. Location: Burlington, Vermont.

Hine would gain access to factories under assumed identities—one day a bible salesman, another day a fire inspector, a postcard vendor, or even an industrial photographer saying he was making a record of machinery.

A little spinner in Globe Cotton Mill. Augusta, Ga. The overseer admitted she was regularly employed. Location: Augusta, Georgia.
A little spinner in Globe Cotton Mill. Augusta, Ga. The overseer admitted she was regularly employed. Location: Augusta, Georgia.

Undeterred by threats of violence and even death by factory police and foremen, if he couldn’t get inside a building, he would wait outside and photograph the children in groups as they entered or left.

488 Macon, Ga. Lewis W. Hine 1-19-1909. Bibb Mill No. 1 Many youngsters here. Some boys were so small they had to climb up on the spinning frame to mend the broken threads and put back the empty bobbins. Location: Macon, Georgia.
488 Macon, Ga. Lewis W. Hine 1-19-1909. Bibb Mill No. 1 Many youngsters here. Some boys were so small they had to climb up on the spinning frame to mend the broken threads and put back the empty bobbins. Location: Macon, Georgia.
Groups of workers in Clayton (N.C.) Cotton Mills. Every one went in to work when whistle blew, and I saw most of them at work during the morning when I went through. Mr. W.H. Swift talked with a boy recently who said he was ten years old and works in the Clayton Cotton Mill, also that others the same age worked. Here they are. I couldn't get the youngest girls in the photos. Clayton is but a short ride from the State Capitol. (The Superintendent watched the photographing without comment.) Clayton, North Carolina.
Groups of workers in Clayton (N.C.) Cotton Mills. Every one went in to work when whistle blew, and I saw most of them at work during the morning when I went through. Mr. W.H. Swift talked with a boy recently who said he was ten years old and works in the Clayton Cotton Mill, also that others the same age worked. Here they are. I couldn’t get the youngest girls in the photos. Clayton is but a short ride from the State Capitol. (The Superintendent watched the photographing without comment.) Clayton, North Carolina.

His photographs were instrumental in changing the child labor laws in the US.

We can all relate to the plight of this little girl who stares longingly out of the window of a cotton mill, watching the childhood she should’ve had slip away.

Rhodes Mfg. Co., Lincolnton, N.C. Spinner. A moments glimpse of the outer world Said she was 10 years old. Been working over a year. Location: Lincolnton, North Carolina.
Rhodes Mfg. Co., Lincolnton, N.C. Spinner. A moments glimpse of the outer world Said she was 10 years old. Been working over a year. Location: Lincolnton, North Carolina.

Reminiscent of a scene from Stanley Kubrick’s film The Shining, the little girl below probably thinks she’s done something wrong and can’t understand why Lewis Hine is asking her to stand still while pointing the camera at her.

… after I took the photo, the overseer came up and said in an apologetic tone that was pathetic, “She just happened in.” Then a moment later he repeated the information. The mills appear to be full of youngsters that “just happened in,” or ” are helping sister.”
A little spinner in the Mollahan Mills, Newberry, S.C. She was tending her "sides" like a veteran, but after I took the photo, the overseer came up and said in an apologetic tone that was pathetic, "She just happened in." Then a moment later he repeated the information. The mills appear to be full of youngsters that "just happened in," or " are helping sister." Dec. 3, 08. Witness Sara R. Hine. Location: Newberry, South Carolina
A little spinner in the Mollahan Mills, Newberry, S.C. She was tending her “sides” like a veteran, but after I took the photo, the overseer came up and said in an apologetic tone that was pathetic, “She just happened in.” Then a moment later he repeated the information. The mills appear to be full of youngsters that “just happened in,” or ” are helping sister.” Dec. 3, 08. Witness Sara R. Hine. Location: Newberry, South Carolina

We can probably all remember our grandparents saying “kids today don’t know they’re born”—we’ll probably say the same thing because each generation thinks they had it tougher than the current one.

But the young lads below really did have it tough. They worked the night shift from 5 pm to 3 am along with thousands of other children in the dangerous glass making industry.

Glass works. Midnight. Location: Indiana.
Glass works. Midnight. Location: Indiana.

Exposed to the intense heat (3133 °F) needed to melt glass, the boys could suffer eye trouble, lung ailments, heat exhaustion, not to mention constant cuts and burns.

Paid by the piece, they had to work as fast as they could for hours without a break. Many factory owners preferred boys under 16 years of age.

Boys at Lehr, Economy Glass Works. Location: Morgantown, West Virginia.
Boys at Lehr, Economy Glass Works. Location: Morgantown, West Virginia.

Eight-year-old Leo worked in a cotton mill and picked up bobbins for 15c a day. Already feeling the responsibility of contributing like the grown-ups, he said he didn’t do it just to help his sister or mother, but for himself.

Leo, 48 inches high, 8 years old. Picks up bobbins at 15 cents a day in Elk Cotton Mills. He said, "No, I don't help me sister or mother, just myself." Location: Fayetteville, Tennessee.
Leo, 48 inches high, 8 years old. Picks up bobbins at 15 cents a day in Elk Cotton Mills. He said, “No, I don’t help me sister or mother, just myself.” Location: Fayetteville, Tennessee.

Breaker boys worked in the coal mining industry. Their job was to separate impurities from coal by hand. It was midday when this photo was taken, and already the lads are covered from head to toe in coal dust.

Noon hour in the Ewen Breaker, Pennsylvania Coal Co. Location: South Pittston, Pennsylvania.
Noon hour in the Ewen Breaker, Pennsylvania Coal Co. Location: South Pittston, Pennsylvania.
Group of Breaker boys. Smallest is Sam Belloma, Pine Street. (See label #1949). Location: Pittston, Pennsylvania.
Group of Breaker boys. Smallest is Sam Belloma, Pine Street. (See label #1949). Location: Pittston, Pennsylvania.

A couple of the lads below muster a smile, while others are probably just relieved to get a few minutes respite.

Breaker boys in #9 Breaker, Hughestown Borough, Pa. Coal Co. Smallest boy is Angelo Ross, (See labels #1953 + #1951.) Location: Pittston, Pennsylvania.
Breaker boys in #9 Breaker, Hughestown Borough, Pa. Coal Co. Smallest boy is Angelo Ross, (See labels #1953 + #1951.) Location: Pittston, Pennsylvania.

Three-quarters of all child laborers worked in agriculture. Many of them were children of sharecroppers or seasonal workers who didn’t own their own land.

Paid by how much they picked, the only way for families to survive was for everyone in the family to join in with the work.

Jewel and Harold Walker, 6 and 5 years old, pick 20 to 25 pounds of cotton a day. Father said: "I promised em a little wagon if they'd pick steady, and now they have half a bagful in just a little while." Location: Comanche County, Oklahoma
Jewel and Harold Walker, 6 and 5 years old, pick 20 to 25 pounds of cotton a day. Father said: “I promised em a little wagon if they’d pick steady, and now they have half a bagful in just a little while.” Location: Comanche County, Oklahoma

Waking when it was still dark, families would pile into trucks headed for the fields where they would work until the sun went down, often without a break.

Fighting to stay awake, come rain or shine, the children would pick cotton until their hands bled.

Millie, four years old and Nellie five years old. Cotton pickers on a farm near Houston, Millie picks eight pounds a day and Nellie thirty pounds. This is nearly every day. Home conditions bare and bad. Houston, Texas.
Millie, four years old and Nellie five years old. Cotton pickers on a farm near Houston, Millie picks eight pounds a day and Nellie thirty pounds. This is nearly every day. Home conditions bare and bad. Houston, Texas

Frequently, the children lost weeks of schooling before the picking season ended and it was too late for them to catch up.

Four year old cotton picker. Children come out to this farm from the town to pick cotton outside of school hours. Ages range from four and six years (ages of the two youngest boys who pick regularly) up to fifteen and more. Two adults. Location: Waxahachie [vicinity], Texas.
Four-year-old cotton picker. Children come out to this farm from the town to pick cotton outside of school hours. Ages range from four and six years (ages of the two youngest boys who pick regularly) up to fifteen and more. Two adults. Location: Waxahachie , Texas.

Like agricultural work, cannery jobs were seasonal. Whole families would move on site for the season, living in squalid temporary quarters provided by the employers.

The day began at 3 am, with six- and seven-year-olds working alongside their parents. Payment was piecework and speed was everything.

Daisy helps at the capping machine, but is not able to “keep up.” She places caps on the cans at the rate of about 40 per minute working full time.
Daisy Langford, 8 yrs. old works in Ross' canneries. She helps at the capping machine, but is not able to "keep up." She places caps on the cans at the rate of about 40 per minute working full time. This is her first season in the cannery. Location: Seaford, Delaware.
Daisy Langford, 8 yrs. old works in Ross’ canneries. She helps at the capping machine, but is not able to “keep up.” She places caps on the cans at the rate of about 40 per minute working full time. This is her first season in the cannery. Location: Seaford, Delaware.

Shucking oysters at a seafood cannery, children might manage two four-pound pots per day while their parents filled eight or nine.

Piled up on the ground, the shells made it exhausting to keep a footing and their jagged edges cut into fingers.

The baby will shuck as soon as she can handle the knife.
Rosy, an eight-year-old oyster shucker who works steady all day from about 3:00 A.M. to about 5 P.M. in Dunbar Cannery. The baby will shuck as soon as she can handle the knife. Location: Dunbar, Louisiana.
Rosy, an eight-year-old oyster shucker who works steady all day from about 3:00 A.M. to about 5 P.M. in Dunbar Cannery. The baby will shuck as soon as she can handle the knife. Location: Dunbar, Louisiana.

Eighteen-hour working days were not uncommon and children using sharp knives were especially likely to hurt themselves toward the end of the day, when they were exhausted.

The salt gits in the cuts an’ they ache.
Shows the way they cut the fish in sardine canneries. Large, sharp knives are used, with a cutting and sometimes a chopping motion. The slippery floors and benches, and careless bumping into each other increase the liability to accident. "The salt gits in the cuts an' they ache." Location: Eastport, Maine.
Shows the way they cut the fish in sardine canneries. Large, sharp knives are used, with a cutting and sometimes a chopping motion. The slippery floors and benches, and careless bumping into each other increase the liability to accident. “The salt gits in the cuts an’ they ache.” Location: Eastport, Maine.

In vegetable and fruit canneries, produce had to be canned quickly before it wilted. Children would haul boxes to the weighing stations—some weighing between 30 and 60 pounds.

Salvin Nocito, 5 years old, carries 2 pecks of cranberries for long distance to the "bushel-man." Whites Bog, Browns Mills, N.J. Sept. 28, 1910. Witness E. F. Brown. Location: Browns Mills, New Jersey
Salvin Nocito, 5 years old, carries 2 pecks of cranberries for long distance to the “bushel-man.” Whites Bog, Browns Mills, N.J. Sept. 28, 1910. Witness E. F. Brown. Location: Browns Mills, New Jersey

In comparison, selling newspapers was relatively easy work and a good education in the ways of business.

Children would buy as many newspapers as they thought they could sell. Their own salesmanship came into play, but so did the drama of the headlines and how kind the weather was.

Most “newsies” attended school all day and had decent homes to go to at night. They were the lucky ones.

After midnight April 17, 1912, and still selling extras. There were many of these groups of young news-boys selling very late these nights. Youngest boy in the group is Israel Spril (9 yrs. old), 314 I St., N.W., Washington D.C. Harry Shapiro, (11 yrs. old), 95 L St., N.W., Washington, D.C. Eugene Butler, 310 (rear) 13th St., N.W. The rest were a little older., 12th St. near G [or C?] Sundays. Location: Washington (D.C.), District of Columbia.
After midnight April 17, 1912, and still selling extras. There were many of these groups of young news-boys selling very late these nights. Youngest boy in the group is Israel Spril (9 yrs. old), 314 I St., N.W., Washington D.C. Harry Shapiro, (11 yrs. old), 95 L St., N.W., Washington, D.C. Eugene Butler, 310 (rear) 13th St., N.W. The rest were a little older., 12th St. near G Sundays. Location: Washington (D.C.), District of Columbia.
Joseph Bernstein, 1518 Fifth St. N.W., a 10 yr. old news-boy who had been selling in saloons along the way, says he makes a dollar a day, sells until 8:30 P.M. Is a bright Jewish boy. Location: [Washington (D.C.), District of Columbia]
Joseph Bernstein, 1518 Fifth St. N.W., a 10 yr. old news-boy who had been selling in saloons along the way, says he makes a dollar a day, sells until 8:30 P.M. Is a bright Jewish boy. Location:
Tootsie, six yr. old news-boy, sells every day and Sunday for a young uncle who had to spend a good deal of his time driving Tootsie back on the job. Harry Murphy, 809 4-1/2 St., S.W., Washington, D.C. Location: Washington (D.C.), District of Columbia.
Tootsie, six yr. old news-boy, sells every day and Sunday for a young uncle who had to spend a good deal of his time driving Tootsie back on the job. Harry Murphy, 809 4-1/2 St., S.W., Washington, D.C. Location: Washington (D.C.), District of Columbia.

The National Child Labor Committee’s work to end child labor was combined with efforts to provide free, compulsory education for all children, and culminated in the passage of the Fair Labor Standards Act in 1938, which set federal standards for child labor.

References
Library of Congress
Smithsonian Institution
Wikipedia

D-Day, H-Hour: the greatest collaboration the world has ever seen

We few, we happy few, we band of brothers; For he to-day that sheds his blood with me Shall be my brother …

—William Shakespeare (King Henry V, Act IV, Sc. 3)

Henry V and his army give thanks on the field of Agincourt

It was a “golden age” of speeches when carefully crafted words had the power to lift people’s hearts and make the difference between success and failure.

Winston Churchill during the General Election Campaign in 1945

Who among us is not stirred by Churchill’s words after the Battle of Britain?—a real turning point in World War II.

Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.
—Winston Churchill.

Or his speech after the fall of France to Nazi Germany:

We shall go on to the end. We shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender …
—Winston Churchill.
Once more, a supreme test has to be faced. This time, the challenge is not to fight to survive but to fight to win the final victory for the good cause. Once again, what is demanded from us all is something more than courage, more than endurance. We need a revival of spirit – a new, unconquerable resolve.
—King George VI.
Good luck, and let us all beseech the blessings of Almighty God upon this great and noble undertaking.
—Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces, General Dwight D. Eisenhower
General Dwight D. Eisenhower addresses American paratroopers prior to D-Day
General Dwight D. Eisenhower addresses American paratroopers prior to D-Day
The battle has begun and France will fight it with fury. For the sons of France, whoever they may be, wherever they may be, the simple and sacred duty is to fight the enemy with every means in their power.”
—General de Gaulle.
This vast operation is undoubtedly the most complicated and difficult that has ever taken place. It involves tides, wind, waves, visibility, both from the air and the sea standpoint, and the combined employment of land, air and sea forces in the highest degree of intimacy and in contact with conditions which could not and cannot be fully foreseen.
—Winston S. Churchill (wiki) (in announcing the Normandy invasion to the House of Commons, 6 June 1944).
People of Western Europe: a landing was made this morning on the coast of France by troops of the Allied Expeditionary Force. This landing is part of the concerted United Nations plan for the liberation of Europe, made in conjunction with our great Russian allies. I have this message for all of you. Although the initial assault may not have been made in your own country, the hour of your liberation is approaching. All patriots, men and women, young and old, have a part to play in the achievement of final victory. To members of resistance movements, I say, ‘Follow the instructions you have received.’ To patriots who are not members of organized resistance groups, I say, ‘Continue your passive resistance, but do not needlessly endanger your lives until I give you the signal to rise and strike the enemy. The day will come when I shall need your united strength.’ Until that day, I call on you for the hard task of discipline and restraint.
—Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces, General Dwight D. Eisenhower

Today, on this day, D-Day, we remember and give thanks to the Greatest Generation.

A-20 from the 416th Bomb Group making a bomb run on D-Day, 6 June 1944
A-20 from the 416th Bomb Group making a bomb run on D-Day, 6 June 1944
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Troops in an LCVP landing craft approach Omaha Beach on D-Day, June 6, 1944
Troops in an LCVP landing craft approach Omaha Beach on D-Day, June 6, 1944
Company E, 16th Infantry. Wading onto the Fox Green section of Omaha Beach on the morning of June 6, 1944
Company E, 16th Infantry. Wading onto the Fox Green section of Omaha Beach on the morning of June 6, 1944
Commando coming ashore from LCAs (Landing Craft Assault) on Jig Green beach, Gold area, 6 June 1944
Commando coming ashore from LCAs (Landing Craft Assault) on Jig Green beach, Gold area, 6 June 1944
Troops wading ashore from an LCI(L) on Queen beach, Sword area, 6 June 1944.
Troops wading ashore from an LCI(L) on Queen beach, Sword area, 6 June 1944.
American assault troops of the 3d Battalion, 16th Infantry Regiment, 1st U.S. Infantry Division, takes a breather before moving onto the continent at Colleville-Sur-Mer
American assault troops of the 3d Battalion, 16th Infantry Regiment, 1st U.S. Infantry Division, takes a breather before moving onto the continent at Colleville-Sur-Mer
American assault troops of the 3d Battalion, 16th Infantry Regiment, 1st U.S. Infantry Division, who stormed Omaha Beach. Colleville-sur-Mer, Normandy, France, 6 June 1944.
American assault troops of the 3d Battalion, 16th Infantry Regiment, 1st U.S. Infantry Division, who stormed Omaha Beach. Colleville-sur-Mer, Normandy, France, 6 June 1944.
A medic of the 3d Bn., 16th Inf. Regt., 1st U.S. Inf. Div., moves along a narrow strip of Omaha Beach administering first aid to men wounded in the landing.
A medic of the 3d Bn., 16th Inf. Regt., 1st U.S. Inf. Div., moves along a narrow strip of Omaha Beach administering first aid to men wounded in the landing.
Wrecked landing craft on Nan Red beach, Juno area, at St Aubin-sur-Mer, 6 June 1944.
Wrecked landing craft on Nan Red beach, Juno area, at St Aubin-sur-Mer, 6 June 1944.
A group of German prisoners standing in the water next to a disabled Sherman Crab flail tank watch as a jeep is towed from the sea, Queen beach, Sword area, 6 June 1944.
A group of German prisoners standing in the water next to a disabled Sherman Crab flail tank watch as a jeep is towed from the sea, Queen beach, Sword area, 6 June 1944.
Landing ships putting cargo ashore on one of the invasion beaches, at low tide during the first days of the operation, June 1944
Landing ships putting cargo ashore on one of the invasion beaches, at low tide during the first days of the operation, June 1944
Troops of 3rd Infantry Division on Queen Red beach, Sword area, circa 0845 hrs, 6 June 1944.
Troops of 3rd Infantry Division on Queen Red beach, Sword area, circa 0845 hrs, 6 June 1944.
Troops take shelter near an M10 Wolverine tank destroyer.
Troops take shelter near an M10 Wolverine tank destroyer.
German POWs being escorted along one of the Gold area beaches, 6 June 1944.
German POWs being escorted along one of the Gold area beaches, 6 June 1944.
Royal Engineers serving with a 50th Division Beach Group share cocoa with a French boy in the village of Ver-sur-Mer
Royal Engineers serving with a 50th Division Beach Group share cocoa with a French boy in the village of Ver-sur-Mer
D-Day Cemetery in Normandy. Credit Michal Osmenda
D-Day Cemetery in Normandie. Credit Michal Osmenda

10 Surprising Facts About Audrey Hepburn

Audrey Hepburn was elegance personified. Her wistful expressions, her svelte figure, her impish charm, captivated millions and made her one of the greatest movie actors and fashion icons of all-time.

Audrey is today’s wonder girl…This slim little person with the winged eyebrows and Nefertiti head and throat is the world’s darling.—Vogue magazine

Her on-screen biography reads like a fairytale, but her off-screen life was often quite the opposite.

Here are 10 surprising facts about style icon Audrey Hepburn.

1. Her mother was a Dutch Baroness who wanted to be an actress

Audrey’s mother, Baroness Ella van Heemstra (1900 – 1984) was from a long line of Dutch nobility dating back to the 12th century. Her grandfather, Baron Aernoud van Heemstra (1871 – 1957) was frequently at the court of Queen Wilhelmina. Portraits of Audrey’s ancestors hung in museums and country estates throughout Holland.

… in those times, a daughter of the nobility was forbidden to have a career. She was expected to marry well and have lots of children. —Alfred Heineken III.

Ella wanted to study for the opera, but the Baron forbade associating with actors, lest it would bring disgrace on the family. But Ella’s friend Alfred Heineken III, of the Dutch brewery family, thought she was a “born actress”.

I grew up wanting more than anything else to be English, slim, and an actress. —Baroness Ella van Heemstra.

Ella vowed that if she ever had a daughter, she would encourage her to be an actor.

And so it was. Audrey lived her mother’s dream and her noble background gave her the edge that movie directors were looking for in the glamorous fifties. Even Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother could see it, remarking to her daughter,

She is one of us.

2. Her father believed he was descended from Mary Queen of Scots’ third husband

Audrey Hepburn, Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961)
Audrey Hepburn, Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961)

Audrey’s stage name ‘Hepburn’ was taken from her father’s name. He was born Joseph Victor Anthony Ruston (1889–1980), but later double-barrelled the surname to the more aristocratic-sounding Hepburn-Ruston.

His maternal grandmother’s maiden name was Kathleen Hepburn, and he believed himself descended from James Hepburn, third husband of Mary, Queen of Scots.

James Hepburn, 4th Earl of Bothwell, c 1535 – 1578. Third husband of Mary Queen of Scots

The Anglo-Scottish Hepburn clan can be traced back several centuries, but the name has many variants, including Hebburne, Hyburn, and Hopbourn. The origin of the name is thought to be from the Anglo-Saxon words heah, meaning high and byrgen, meaning burial place.

Audrey’s father, Joseph,  was tall, dark, and handsome, with a little mustache and a calm manner. At the time he met Audrey’s mother, he was living off his first wife’s inheritance and hadn’t held a job for more than a few months.

The fact that one of the greatest appeals for Joseph was Ella’s title and aristocratic lifestyle throws serious doubt on his claim of ancestral connection to Earl James Hepburn. And the complexity of multiple branches on the Hepburn family tree makes it difficult for historians to verify.

But Audrey loved her father to bits, and even though he left her when she was just six, she tracked him down in later life and supported him financially.

3. Her parents were Fascists—her father a true Nazi sympathizer

Audrey Hepburn & Harcourt Williams on the set of Roman Holiday (1953)
Audrey Hepburn & Harcourt Williams on the set of Roman Holiday (1953)

In the mid-1930s, fascism had gained a toehold in Britain through the British Union of Fascists (BUF), led by Sir Oswald Mosley.

Before the BUF became too radicalized, even the Daily Mail newspaper supported them, running the 1933 headline “Hurrah for the Blackshirts!” (a reference to their black uniform). At the time, the owner of the daily mail, Lord Rothermere was openly friendly with fascist leaders Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler, believing that the Nazi party would restore the monarchy to Germany.

Audrey’s parents were both members of the BUF, her mother Ella being friends with Mosley’s wife, Diana Mitford. They donated to the BUF and even accompanied Mosley on a tour of Nazi Germany where they met Hitler at his headquarters in Munich.

As the BUF radicalized and its violent anti-Semitic views came to the fore, Ella and the Daily Mail distanced themselves, but her father Joseph’s involvement deepened. He joined an even more extreme splinter group.

Joseph’s radicalism caught the attention of Dutch Queen Wilhelmina, who urged Ella’s father, Baron Aarnoud van Heemstra, to help get him out of the family.

Shortly after returning from the tour of Germany, Joseph walked out on his wife and the six-year-old Audrey.

It was the most traumatic event of my life … a tragedy from which I don’t think I’ve ever recovered. I worshipped him and missed him terribly from the day he disappeared. I always envied other people’s fathers, came home with tears, because they had a daddy. —Audrey Hepburn.

4. She witnessed wartime atrocities

In the German-occupied Netherlands, Audrey witnessed young men being pushed against a wall in the street and shot.

She saw trainloads of Jews being deported, their faces peering through the slit at the top of meat wagons. Families, babies, little children being herded like animals for slaughter.

I remember, very sharply, one little boy standing with his parents on the platform, very pale, very blond, wearing a coat that was much too big for him, and he stepped onto the train. I was a child observing a child.

Her half brothers had refused to join the Nazi youth camp, where Aryan boys underwent strenuous physical training before joining the Nazi movement. As punishment, the eldest, Alexander, was sent to a forced labor camp for the rest of the war.

For three years, Audrey and her family listened to Freedom Radio for news of any Allied successes in the war. But there were none—not until 1943.

I knew the cold clutch of human terror all through my early teens; I saw it, felt it, heard it—and it never goes away.

Audrey never attended acting school because she didn’t need to. All the acting lessons were during those years of horror when she pretended not to care simply to survive. But she was secretly passing messages to the Dutch resistance.

5. She suffered from malnutrition during World War 2

By 1943, the Germans had tightened the noose around the Netherlands as the threat of Allied invasion looked imminent. Food shortages had reached crisis levels.

Audrey’s half-brother Ian would hold his stomach and cry. But she found temporary distraction from hunger pangs by giving dancing lessons. When she did eat, it was lettuce, bread made with peas, and occasionally a potato. She survived the Dutch famine during the winter of 1944 by eating tulip bulbs.

A US B-17 drops a cargo of food for the starving Dutch population in operation Chow Hound, May 1945.
A US B-17 drops a cargo of food for the starving Dutch population in operation Chow Hound, May 1945.

Even with her weight falling to just 90 lbs, she continued to give dance lessons to help her family and the Dutch resistance.

6. She trained to be a ballerina before becoming an actor

Audrey’s lithe figure and three years of ballet training with Sonia Gaskell—a leading ballet instructor in Amsterdam—prepared her for a ballet scholarship with Ballet Rambert in London.

But when she sought the professional opinion of the school founder, Dame Marie Rambert, she faced the fact that she probably wouldn’t reach her dream of becoming a Prima Ballerina. At 5′ 7″, she was too tall for the male dancers at the time, and her poor health during World War 2 had impaired some of her muscular development.

Audrey’s ballet teachers. Left: Sonia Gaskell. Right: Dame Marie Rambert.

During World War 2, Audrey secretly danced for groups of people to collect money for the Dutch resistance. She later remarked,

The best audience I ever had made not a single sound at the end of my performances.

Despite years of training, she would never perform a full ballet.

7. She spoke five languages

Audrey’s multinational background and frequent traveling because of her father’s work gave her the opportunity to learn five languages.

From her parents, she learned Dutch and English and later French, Spanish, and Italian.

A friend of Audrey’s mother, Mrs Pauline Everts, said,

Her father was British, so she spoke English fluently as well as French, from having been brought up in Brussels, and she also spoke Dutch very nicely … she had a very musical ear.

Audrey followed husband, actor Mel Ferrer, to Spain and Mexico for the filming of “The Sun Also Rises” (1957) which would have given her the opportunity to learn some Spanish—something that would prove useful for her later work with UNICEF in South America.

She lived for 20 years in Rome.

8. She was the first actress to win multiple awards for a single performance

Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck in Roman Holiday (1953)
Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck in Roman Holiday (1953)

Roman Holiday (1953) projected Audrey to stardom and the first actress to win an Academy Award, Golden Globe, and BAFTA Award for a single performance.

The producers wanted Elizabeth Taylor for the role, but Audrey gave such an impressive screen test that director William Wyler knew she was the one, saying:

She had everything I was looking for: charm, innocence, and talent. She also was very funny. She was absolutely enchanting and we said, ‘That’s the girl!’

Originally, only Gregory Peck’s name was planned to appear above the movie title, with “Introducing Audrey Hepburn” beneath in smaller font. However, Peck suggested to Wyler that Audrey get equal billing “because she’ll be a big star and I’ll look like a big jerk.

9. Audrey Hepburn is not related to Katherine Hepburn

There are a surprising number of questions on the web asking whether Audrey and Katherine are related. It has been a persistent misconception since Audrey came to prominence in the 1950s.

Katharine was the daughter of two wealthy Connecticut Americans; Audrey the daughter of Dutch nobility. There is no meeting of family lines.

They do, however, have a lot in common: talent, beauty, the same star sign, multiple acting awards. Both are listed in the American Film Institute’s greatest screen legends: Katherine at #1 and Audrey #3.

There is a humorous story of a series of telegrams during Paramount Pictures’ selection of Audrey Hepburn for the role of Princess Ann in Roman Holiday:

Studio very interested Hepburn … Ask Hepburn if OK change her last name avoid conflict Katherine Hepburn.

At such an amazing opportunity to play the lead female role in a Hollywood movie as a relative unknown with no acting training, most would have acquiesced. But not Audrey, who boldly replied,

If you want me, you’ll have to take my name, too.

10. She quit acting at the height of her career to devote her life to charity

Audrey Hepburn in Charade (1963)
Audrey Hepburn in Charade (1963)

Grateful for the humanitarian aid that helped her survive the German occupation as a child, at the height of her acting career, she quit, dedicating the remainder of her life to helping poverty-stricken children in the poorest nations.

In this video from March 26, 1988, Global News reporter Elaine Loring sits down with Hollywood legend Audrey Hepburn to discuss her experiences with UNICEF in Ethiopia and living away from the ‘hustle and bustle’.

Sources
wikipedia.org
Audrey Hepburn by Barry Paris
Enchantment: The Life of Audrey Hepburn
Audrey Hepburn: A Biography by Martin Gitlin
Audrey Hepburn, An Elegant Spirit: A Son Remembers by Sean Hepburn Ferrer
Vanity Fair: My Fair Mother

Celebrating Christmas in World War 2 – Keep Calm and Carry On

The war years made celebrating the tradition of Christmas very difficult. But people found ways to make the most of it. There was a spirit of camaraderie and a willingness to “mend and make do”.

Being apart from loved ones at Christmas was a strain on families. Husbands and fathers were away at war; wives and mothers were either serving in the military or working in munitions factories for the war effort; children were often evacuated to the countryside, far from home.

But people put their best foot forward. They kept calm and carried on.

Listen to “I’ll be Home for Christmas” as you read along. The song was originally written to honor soldiers overseas who longed to be home at Christmas time.

The National Savings Committee in wartime Britain issued posters to encourage saving, discourage frivolous spending and promote investment in the war effort.

World War 2 poster issued by the National Savings Committee, London.
World War 2 poster issued by the National Savings Committee, London.

Similar posters were issued in the United States.

World War II Posters, US Office of War Information
World War II Posters, US Office of War Information

Fewer men at home meant fewer men available to dress up and play Santa Claus. Mothers dressed up as Santa for Christmas parties, and women served as substitute Santas at department stores.

Father Christmas presents Winston Churchill Jr., the Prime Minister's grandson, with a gift at a Christmas party at Admiralty House in London, 17 December 1942
Father Christmas presents Winston Churchill Jr., the Prime Minister’s grandson, with a gift at a Christmas party at Admiralty House in London, 17 December 1942
Father Christmas lifts a young girl up to look at a toy soldier on a highly-decorated Christmas tree at a home for evacuees in Henley-on-Thames. It is interesting to note that this Father Christmas is actually being played by a woman
Father Christmas lifts a young girl up to look at a toy soldier on a highly-decorated Christmas tree at a home for evacuees in Henley-on-Thames. It is interesting to note that this Father Christmas is actually being played by a woman
Father Christmas hands out toys and games, including a set of building bricks, to children at a home for evacuees in Henley-on-Thames, 1941
Father Christmas hands out toys and games, including a set of building bricks, to children at a home for evacuees in Henley-on-Thames, 1941

Christmas trees were in short supply in Britain and America because the men who would normally cut them down were away at war. Rail and road transportation was largely used for the war effort, leaving little room for luxuries like Christmas trees.

Britain had a program through the YMCA called “Gifts to Home League” whereby those serving abroad could purchase gifts and have them delivered. The following three images show how the YMCA’s program brought Christmas cheer to the Devereaux family in Middlesex, England in 1944.

Outside the main entrance to Selfridge's department store on Oxford Street, representatives of the YMCA load the Christmas tree they have just purchased into their van
Outside the main entrance to Selfridge’s department store on Oxford Street, representatives of the YMCA load the Christmas tree they have just purchased into their van
Trooper Devereux, whose photograph can be seen on the Christmas tree, is serving in Italy and bought the tree as a present for 12 year old Jean under a YMCA scheme
Trooper Devereux, whose photograph can be seen on the Christmas tree, is serving in Italy and bought the tree as a present for 12 year old Jean under a YMCA scheme
Jean Devereux cuts the cake in her house in Pinner, Middlesex, on Christmas Day 1944
Jean Devereux cuts the cake in her house in Pinner, Middlesex, on Christmas Day 1944
Children visiting Santa Claus, Eaton's department store, St. Catherine Street, Montreal, Canada, 1941
Children visiting Santa Claus, Eaton’s department store, St. Catherine Street, Montreal, Canada, 1941
Christmas Eve in Stockholm, Sweden, 1941
Christmas Eve in Stockholm, Sweden, 1941
A Christmas party held at Admiralty House, London, 17 December 1942
A Christmas party held at Admiralty House, London, 17 December 1942
Leading Aircraftman Fred Fazan dressed as Santa Claus hands out presents to Dutch children at No. 122 Wing's airfield at Volkel, Holland, 13 December 1944
Leading Aircraftman Fred Fazan dressed as Santa Claus hands out presents to Dutch children at No. 122 Wing’s airfield at Volkel, Holland, 13 December 1944

During respites from fighting, there were a few chances to sample the local beverage. Here, British troops celebrate Christmas cheer with the help of Italy’s fine wine offerings.

The British Army in Italy 1943. The Queen's Regiment celebrate Christmas, 25 December 1943
The British Army in Italy 1943. The Queen’s Regiment celebrate Christmas, 25 December 1943
Royal Artillery cooks preparing Christmas dinner near Geilenkirchen, Germany, 25 December 1944
Royal Artillery cooks preparing Christmas dinner near Geilenkirchen, Germany, 25 December 1944

Singing songs and carols were rituals of Christmas at war—a way to keep memories of Christmases at home alive.

The ground crew of No. 122 Wing singing Christmas carols by a Hawker Tempest in a dispersal at Volkel airfield (B80), Holland 1944
The ground crew of No. 122 Wing singing Christmas carols by a Hawker Tempest in a dispersal at Volkel airfield (B80), Holland 1944
In the ward room that has been decorated with balloons and streamers, the First Lieutenant carves the joint during Christmas celebrations on board HMS WESTMINSTER at Rosyth
In the ward room that has been decorated with balloons and streamers, the First Lieutenant carves the joint during Christmas celebrations on board HMS WESTMINSTER at Rosyth
Christmas dinner in the wardroom of HMS MALAYA at Scapa Flow, 25 December 1942
Christmas dinner in the wardroom of HMS MALAYA at Scapa Flow, 25 December 1942
A nurse feeds a patient with a spoonful of Christmas pudding at a naval hospital at Kingseat in Scotland, December 1941
A nurse feeds a patient with a spoonful of Christmas pudding at a naval hospital at Kingseat in Scotland, December 1941
A youngster, clutching his soldier father, gazes upward while the latter lifts his wife from the ground to wish her a Merry Christmas
A youngster, clutching his soldier father, gazes upward while the latter lifts his wife from the ground to wish her a Merry Christmas

Home-made presents were popular. Dads made ships and dolls’ houses, whilst moms made sweets (candies) and knitted with spare bits of wool. Children’s gifts were often donated from other countries and charities.

Petty Officer H Bell, of Shotts, Lanarkshire, a member of the Home Fleet, constructs model ships and aircraft to be given as presents for Christmas
Petty Officer H Bell, of Shotts, Lanarkshire, a member of the Home Fleet, constructs model ships and aircraft to be given as presents for Christmas
On the foc'sle of a battleship, in the shadow of the guns, a Royal Marine, J Lynch of Newport, Monmouthshire is putting the finishing touches to a large dolls house, complete with furniture, 1943
On the foc’sle of a battleship, in the shadow of the guns, a Royal Marine, J Lynch of Newport, Monmouthshire is putting the finishing touches to a large dolls house, complete with furniture, 1943
Make-do Dolls For Christmas- Wartime Recycling, 1943 A portrait of a home-made stuffed cloth 'Mrs Brer Rabbit' and baby. According to the original caption, the apron of this children's toy was made from part of an old net curtain
Make-do Dolls For Christmas- Wartime Recycling, 1943 A portrait of a home-made stuffed cloth ‘Mrs Brer Rabbit’ and baby. According to the original caption, the apron of this children’s toy was made from part of an old net curtain
A group of young children at Junior School design and make their own Christmas decorations in Cambridgeshire, England, 1944
A group of young children at Junior School design and make their own Christmas decorations in Cambridgeshire, England, 1944

To help conserve paper, wrapping of Christmas presents was prohibited, making it difficult to keep Christmas presents a surprise. But whatever children received for Christmas during World War II, it was a treat and a sight for their sore little eyes.

Look what Santa brought you
Look what Santa brought you

Suggested Reading

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What’s Your Favorite Christmas Movie?

Oh, the weather outside is frightful, But the fire is so delightful. And since we’ve got no place to go, Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!Written by Sammy Cahn and composed by Jule Styne, July 1945.

The log fire is crackling away nicely. You’ve made a hot cup of cocoa. You check outside again. Yes—it’s still snowing in large, fluffy flakes.

You have the house to yourself.

Perfect.

Now, at last, the time has come. The time to relax and watch your favorite Christmas movies!

Which one to watch first? Decisions, decisions.

But wait a second. What is it about Christmas movies that we love so much? Is it the warm, comforting feeling we get from uplifting stories that offer hope? Is it the inspiration we find in the life lessons of the classics?

In a world that often seems full of turmoil, perhaps we just like to know that the perennial favorites help keep alive the values and traditions that we hold dear.

Which one to watch first …? Here’s a few ideas—peruse the movie clips and then vote for your favorite.

It’s a Wonderful Life (1946) is a classic Christmas drama directed by Frank Capra and starring James Stewart as George Bailey, a man who contemplates suicide on Christmas Eve until an angel shows him how different the world would be if he had never been born. The film was nominated for five Academy Awards and is considered one of the greatest films of all time.

Home Alone (1990) is a comedy film directed by Chris Columbus and written by John Hughes, starring Macaulay Culkin as Kevin McCallister, an eight-year-old boy who is accidentally left behind when his family goes on a Christmas vacation to Paris. He has to defend his home from two burglars, played by Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern, using various booby traps. The film was a huge box office success and spawned four sequels.

Elf (2003) is a fantasy comedy film directed by Jon Favreau and starring Will Ferrell as Buddy, a human who was raised by elves at the North Pole. He travels to New York City to find his biological father, played by James Caan, and experiences the joys and challenges of the human world. The film also features Zooey Deschanel, Bob Newhart, Ed Asner, and Peter Dinklage. It was well received by critics and audiences and became a Christmas staple.

The Santa Clause (1994) is a fantasy comedy film directed by John Pasquin and starring Tim Allen as Scott Calvin, a divorced father who accidentally causes Santa Claus to fall from his roof and die on Christmas Eve. He puts on Santa’s suit and finishes his deliveries, only to find out that he has to become the new Santa and convince his family and friends of his new identity. The film was a hit and spawned two sequels.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000) is a live-action adaptation of the 1957 Dr. Seuss book of the same name, directed by Ron Howard and starring Jim Carrey as the Grinch, a green creature who hates Christmas and plans to ruin it for the people of Whoville. He is challenged by a young girl named Cindy Lou Who, played by Taylor Momsen, who tries to befriend him and show him the true meaning of Christmas. The film was a commercial success and won an Oscar for Best Makeup.

The Polar Express (2004) is an animated film based on the 1985 children’s book of the same name by Chris Van Allsburg, directed by Robert Zemeckis and featuring the voice of Tom Hanks in multiple roles. It tells the story of a young boy who boards a magical train on Christmas Eve that takes him and other children to the North Pole to meet Santa Claus. The film was the first to use performance capture technology for all the human characters and was nominated for three Oscars.

White Christmas (1954) is a musical film directed by Michael Curtiz and starring Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney, and Vera-Ellen. It follows two former army buddies who team up with a sister act to save the failing Vermont inn of their former commander. The film features the songs of Irving Berlin, including the title song, which Crosby had previously introduced in the 1942 film Holiday Inn. The film was a box office hit and received a nomination for Best Original Song.

A Christmas Story (1983) is a comedy film based on the semi-autobiographical stories of Jean Shepherd, directed by Bob Clark and narrated by Shepherd himself. It depicts the childhood memories of Ralphie Parker, played by Peter Billingsley, who desperately wants a Red Ryder BB gun for Christmas in the 1940s. The film also stars Darren McGavin, Melinda Dillon, and Ian Petrella as Ralphie’s family. The film has become a cult classic and is shown on television every Christmas.

Miracle on 34th Street (1947) is a Christmas comedy-drama film directed by George Seaton and starring Maureen O’Hara, John Payne, Natalie Wood, and Edmund Gwenn. It tells the story of a department store Santa Claus who claims to be the real Santa and has to prove his identity in court. The film was released in June but became a holiday favorite and won three Oscars, including Best Supporting Actor for Gwenn. It has been remade several times, most notably in 1994 with Richard Attenborough as Santa.

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989) is a comedy film directed by Jeremiah S. Chechik and written by John Hughes, starring Chevy Chase as Clark Griswold, a father who wants to have a perfect Christmas with his family and relatives. However, his plans are constantly ruined by various mishaps and disasters, such as a malfunctioning Christmas lights display, a kidnapped boss, and a squirrel-infested Christmas tree. The film is the third installment of the National Lampoon’s Vacation series and is widely regarded as the best one.

A Christmas Carol (1951) is a British film adaptation of the 1843 novella by Charles Dickens, directed by Brian Desmond Hurst and starring Alastair Sim as Ebenezer Scrooge, a miserly businessman who is visited by three spirits on Christmas Eve who show him the error of his ways. The film is also known as Scrooge in the United Kingdom and is considered one of the best versions of the classic story. It features a faithful script by Noel Langley and a memorable performance by Sim.

The Holiday (2006) is a romantic comedy film written, produced, and directed by Nancy Meyers, starring Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslet as Amanda and Iris, two women who swap homes for the holidays to escape their love problems. Amanda travels to Iris’ cottage in Surrey, England, where she meets Iris’ brother Graham, played by Jude Law, while Iris stays in Amanda’s house in Los Angeles, where she befriends an elderly screenwriter named Arthur, played by Eli Wallach, and a film composer named Miles, played by Jack Black. The film was a box office success and received positive reviews.

Scrooged (1988) is a comedy film directed by Richard Donner and starring Bill Murray as Frank Cross, a cynical and selfish television executive who is haunted by three spirits on Christmas Eve who teach him the true meaning of Christmas. The film is a modern retelling of A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, with references to the original story and other pop culture elements. The film also features Karen Allen, John Forsythe, Bobcat Goldthwait, Carol Kane, and David Johansen. The film was a hit and has become a cult classic.

The Bells of St. Mary’s (1945) is a drama film directed by Leo McCarey and starring Bing Crosby and Ingrid Bergman as Father Chuck O’Malley and Sister Mary Benedict, who work together at a Catholic school in financial trouble. The film is a sequel to the 1944 film Going My Way, which also starred Crosby as Father O’Malley. The film features the song “Aren’t You Glad You’re You?” by Jimmy Van Heusen and Johnny Burke, and was nominated for eight Oscars, including Best Picture.

Trading Places (1983) is a comedy film directed by John Landis and starring Dan Aykroyd and Eddie Murphy as Louis Winthorpe III and Billy Ray Valentine, two men from opposite social backgrounds who unknowingly switch places as part of a bet by two wealthy brothers, played by Ralph Bellamy and Don Ameche. The film is a satire of social class and race relations in America, and features Jamie Lee Curtis, Denholm Elliott, and Paul Gleason in supporting roles. The film was a critical and commercial success and is considered one of the best comedies of the 1980s.

2
Vote for your favorite Christmas Movie

References:
wikipedia.com, imdb.com, universalstudios.fandom.com, boxofficemojo.com, disney.fandom.com, wikiwand.com, filmaffinity.com, rogerebert.com, britannica.com, archive.org, catalog.afi.com, movies.fandom.com, justwatch.com, countdownuntilchristmas.com, cmomngsoon.net, rottentomatoes.com, themoviedb.org

6 of the Best Sherlock Holmes Actors – Who’s Your Favorite?

The Guinness Book of World Records lists Sherlock Holmes as the “most portrayed literary human character in film and TV”.

Claire Burgess, an adjudicator for Guinness World Records, said,

Sherlock Holmes is a literary institution. This Guinness World Records title reflects his enduring appeal and demonstrates that his detective talents are as compelling today as they were 125 years ago.

Created in 1887 by Scottish author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Sherlock Holmes has been played by over 75 actors—besting even William Shakespeare’s Hamlet.

Which begs the question “who was the best?”

If we could ask Sir Arthur Conan Doyle that question, he would have said Eille Norwood:

He has that rare quality, which can only be described as glamour, which compels you to watch an actor eagerly even when he is doing nothing. He has the brooding eye which excites expectation and he has also a quite unrivaled power of disguise.

Sir Arthur said those words in the early 1920’s and there have been some truly remarkable performances since.

You’ll probably have your favorites in mind already, but just to help, we’ve shortlisted six of the best Holmes of all time in chronological order. Each actor has been critically acclaimed as Sherlock for their era, with multiple productions of film, stage or TV to their credit.

Then vote for your favorite below.

Eille Norwood (1923)

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle himself admired Norwood’s portrayal, saying: “His wonderful impersonation of Holmes has amazed me.”

Norwood was obsessed with portraying Holmes true to the written stories. He re-read all the stories published up to that time and even learned to play the violin.

Norwood had a reputation as a very professional actor with an incredible ability with make-up and disguise.

There is a story that asked to do an impromptu screen test, Norwood excused himself to the dressing room and appeared a few minutes later “an entirely new person”.

He had done very little in the way of make-up, and he had no accessories, but the transformation was remarkable – it was Sherlock Holmes who came in that door.

Arthur Wontner (1935)

Allmovie wrote that Leslie S. Hiscott’s 1931 movie “Sherlock Holmes’ Fatal Hour” got the Wontner Holmes series off to a rousing start.”

The New York Times wrote of Wontner in Leslie S. Hiscott’s 1935 film “The Triumph of Sherlock Holmes”, , “a mellow, evenly paced British film that renders to Holmes what Sir Arthur Conan Doyle would have rendered to him: Interest, respect and affection … Mr. Wontner decorates a calabash pipe with commendable skill, contributing a splendid portrait of fiction’s first detective.”

“The Sign of Four” 1932 Film.
“The Missing Rembrandt” 1932 Film.
“The Sleeping Cardinal” 1931 Film.

Basil Rathbone (1939)

Basil Rathbone is credited with creating the definitive screen interpretation of Sherlock Holmes, his only rival generally conceded to be Jeremy Brett’s interpretation of the fictional detective.

His expert fencing skills earned him a reputation as the greatest swordsman in Hollywood history.

“Sherlock Holmes” by Ouida Rathbone 1953 Stage Play.
“Dressed to Kill” 1946 Film.
“Terror by Night” 1946 Film.
“The House of Fear” 1945 Film.
“Pursuit to Algiers” 1945 Film.
“The Woman in Green” 1945 Film.
“The Pearl of Death” 1944 Film.
“The Scarlet Claw” 1944 Film.
“The Spider Woman” 1944 Film.
“Sherlock Holmes in Washington” 1943 Film.
“Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Weapon” 1943 Film.
“Sherlock Holmes Faces Death” 1943 Film.
“Sherlock Holmes and the Voice of Terror” 1942 Film.
“The New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes” 1939-1946 Radio (Blue Network & Mutual).
“The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes” 1939 Film.
“The Hound of the Baskervilles” 1939 Film.

Jeremy Brett (1984)

Inheriting the mantle from the great Basil Rathbone was a tall order indeed, but Jeremy Brett pulls it off with a long-running TV series in the 80’s and again in the 90’s.

Considered to be the definitive Holmes of his era, Brett once said that “Holmes is the hardest part I have ever played — harder than Hamlet or Macbeth.”

“The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes” 1994 TV series.
“The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes” 1991–1993 TV series.
“The Secret of Sherlock Holmes 1988–89” Stage (touring, British).
“The Return of Sherlock Holmes 1986–1988” TV series.
“The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes” 1984–1985 TV series.
41 episodes.

Robert Downey Jr (2009)

“Sherlock Holmes” 2009 Film.
“Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows” 2011 Film.

Robert Downey Jr reminds us that in addition to a suave and sophisticated Victorian gentleman, Sherlock Holmes is also, “a brawling, head-butting, fist-in-the-gut, knee-in-the-groin action hero.”

In additional to brawn, Downey brings his “characteristic twitchy wit and haggard insouciance, he has more intelligence than the movie knows what to do with.”

The London scene is given a makeover with “a smoky, greasy, steam-punk rendering of Victorian London, full of soot and guts and bad teeth and period clothes — shows some undeniable flair.”
Ref: NYTimes “Sherlock Holmes” 2009 Review.

Benedict Cumberbatch (2012)

“Sherlock” 2010–present TV series (BBC).
15 episodes.

Danny Bowes, writing for Indiewire thinks the greatest performance as Sherlock Holmes is that of Benedict Cumberbatch.

“… free the character from what they felt was a paralyzing traditionalism in adaptations. By setting the show in present-day London, they’ve found a way of getting at who Holmes is as a character, giving everyone from the writers to the designers to the actor playing the role the opportunity to focus on who Holmes is, rather than who he has been.”

“As for Cumberbatch’s performance, his physicality is a delight — he alternates between furious activity and catatonic stillness, seeming to be in motion even when still and to exist in a series of meticulously constructed tableaux when in motion.”

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