May 21, 2015
Press photos show more than the celebrities of the day. They can also serve as gateways to moments in history that shape our experiences to this day. This photo is labeled “Sennett’s Bathing Girls.” Mack Sennett, an early film entrepreneur whose Keystone Studios launched the careers of movies stars like Harold Lloyd, Gloria Swanson, and his namesake Keystone Cops.
The Bathing Girls were a marketing ploy Sennett created following the logic of the now classic advertising maxim “Sex Sells.” Anne Helen Petersen wrote an article called “Hollywood’s Bathing Beauties” for Lapham’s Quarterly, that traces the genesis of these knee-baring babes.
The way to get Keystone pictures extra notice, Sennet thought, was a healthy dose of knee nudity. The producer put his underlinings to work scouting the area for pretty girls, with particular attention to the look of the bare leg. But these girls, in the rough, were not publicity material. Instead, Sennett posed them next to his star comedians and sent the photos off to the press, knowing that the spectacle of the pretty girls and their pretty knees would give his stars the extra coverage they needed. And just in case the newspapers wanted to get sneaky, he had his photographer shot the images in such a way that sneaky editors could not just cut out the comedian and print the pretty girl.
May 20, 2015
May 19, 2015
Grauman’s Chinese Theatre opened to the public 88 years ago. On 18 May 1927 the theatre hosted the world premiere of Cecil B. DeMille’s ‘King of Kings’ and opened for the public on 19 May. Here’s some photos of the theatre and a link to a great article about ‘Mr. Grauman’s Chinese Theatre.’
May 18, 2015
May 14, 2015
You can find information for architectural restoration, to help gain landmark status, or document performances and the history of a theatre in your community.
The American Theatre Architecture Archive (ATAA) are currently home to over 100,000 items documenting over 18,000 theatres in America.The largest holding of its kind, the resources available in our collections document the architectural heritage of theatres in America from the 1880s to present day.
Browse our ‘Finding Aides’ to learn about the collections in the archive and how they can help you. For example, you can learn about the Paul S. Moore Collection, the Michael Miller Collection, and the Chicago Architectural Photographing Company Collection.
May 13, 2015
Would you like a tour of King’s Theatre after its extensive renovation? Thirty THS members joined Executive Director Richard Fosbrink for a very special visit. https://youtu.be/ynGUJ-RHSOo
May 12, 2015
Explore the Ben Hall collection’s selection of stage show photos from the Roxy Theatre. When Samuel Lionel “Roxy” Rothafel built the Roxy Theatre in Times Square, he set out to make the most awe-inspiring viewing experience imaginable. This extraordinary movie palace featured more than the luxuries of an elaborately decorated auditorium and an expansive plush lobby (though it had those as well!). http://www.historictheatres.org/archival-collections/
May 11, 2015
Watch an engaging video about the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre with story tellers Andrew Dolkart, Architectural Historian at Columbia University, Jeffery Eric Jenkins, Lunt-Fontanne Theatre Historian, and composer Alan Menken. “The theatre is a living, breathing entity. There’s all these invisible artistic threads linking us to the people who came before us.” http://www.spotlightonbroadway.com/theater/lunt-fontanne
May 8, 2015
Two great San Francisco Historic Theatres, the Grand Theatre and the New Mission Theatre, are leading a new life as part of their community.
May 7, 2015
Besides being fun and interesting to browse, the THS archives can help you document the architectural, social and cultural history of the theatres you love! Information and materials in the archives can be used to help gain historic landmark status, accurately restore buildings to their former splendor, and provide a look at the cultural and social history of an era. Here’s a peak at the postcard collection in the THS archives.
The Postcard selection is an important one, because it illuminates a few issues related to theatre history research and archiving. For most of the 20th century, the postcard was a popular tourist purchase. Postcards were both a quick way for a traveler to share news of their journey, and a handy way for localities to advertise their attractions. Many of these towns saw their theatres as memorable locations and used their images to promote and memorialize their towns.
Many, if not most, of our postcards are from the latest era of postcard production, known as photochrom-style postcards. Photochrom-style postcards are the color cards with photographic appearance that most of us are familiar with today. From 1939, when photochrom-style postcards were first sold in Western gas stations, to the 1990s, when the popularity of email led to an overall downturn in postal communication, these colorful postcards were one of the easiest and most popular ways for travelers to share the sights of their latest journeys, like these postcards showing Oakland, California’s Grand Lake Theater.
While postcards are often praised for their self-contained, single card design, they could also reach high levels of complexity. This postcard, with its self-closing printed envelope, accordion-folded images, and full text backing, is a small feat of postcard engineering.