Thursday, March 6, 2014

Fun Finds: German Caricature Movie Star Cards

Hot on the heels of our not-too-long-ago Fun Find featuring Mexican TV and movie star cards, we're back today with some other oddities. These are some German cards from (presumably) 1960, give or take, featuring famous movie actors and actresses. It's quite an international selection. The sometimes-clever caricatures tend to focus on either the performer's notable physical traits or perhaps a recent role of theirs that made an impact. I hope you find them interesting!

First up is Marlon Brando in a clear reference to his role as Napoleon in Desiree (1954), but with modern dress.
Next we see German-born actress Lilli Palmer (whose striking, porcelainic features I have always enjoyed seeing.) Appres po of nothing, her 1976 autobiography "Change Lobsters and Dance" is an engaging, eventful, well-told read.
French actress Leslie Caron gets quite a unique treatment! Anyone happen to know why she's depicted as a simian in a tree holding a banana?!
Screen tough guy Richard Widmark is shown after a particularly rough battle of some kind, holding his own dismembered left arm in his right hand!
Curvaceous, blonde French starlet Mylene Demongeot could so easily have joined the pile of leftover beauties whose careers dried up when their age crept up, but she went on to enjoy a six-decade-long acting career that continues to this day!
Perpetually-smiling Austrian actress Maria Schell only made a limited number of American films (1958's The Brothers Karamazov and 1960's Cimarron among them) but kept busy in Europe for many years.
Legendary English character actor Charles Laughton is given a very simple, but instantly recognizable, treatment on his card.
Kim Novak (who recently made a very startling appearance at the Oscar ceremony) is shown in her familiar 1950s style of hair and dress.
Italian bombshell Gina Lollobrigida is shown, literally, emerging from a bombshell. She's knitting a booty, I think, though her only child was born in 1957.
Dahlinks, Hungarian starlet Zsa Zsa Gabor (an early example of one of those "famous for being famous" types who now seem to cover the globe) is depicted beating to her own drummer (on her rear end!) Our poor girl, always known for her sly wit and glittering glamour, is now ninety-seven and confronted with endless health woes, bless her heart.
Clark "The King" Gable is spotted in the midst of making a female fall down in rapt desire.
Austrian star Romy Schneider is shown cavorting with a sprig in her hand (is it Edelweiss?)
Our next card features the voluminously-tressed British starlet Belinda Lee, who was part of a significant scandal in 1958 when the married actress took an overdose of sleeping pills (surviving the incident) followed by her alleged lover Filippo Orsini slashing his wrists in an unsuccessful (apparent) suicide attempt. Orsini was a papal prince and the series of events led to his family being stricken of their hereditary title. Here, it looks as if the married Orsini is hiding out in her hair! Even more remarkably, this popular actress was killed in 1961 at only age twenty-five when she was hurled from a car during an accident. Maybe there should be a movie based on her turbulent, eventful life rather than one more idiotic rom-com or torture flick. I smell an Oscar nomination for somebody if they do!
Another sexpot, one with a more prominent legacy, is Anita Ekberg, shown in a sort of mash-up of her famous fountain dip from La Dolce Vita (1960) and a play on her name Ekberg/Iceberg, with icicles, a penguin and a pretty happy walrus on hand.
Next, we come upon Yul Brynner in a customary royal stance, perhaps inspired by The King and I (1956), though he portrayed several rulers as well.  His famously bald cranium is getting a dust-off by a pretty maid!
At this point, Miss Elizabeth Taylor hadn't even met Richard Burton yet (aside from maybe a brief passing introduction), but she was already embroiled in a huge scandal thanks to segueing from the death of husband Mike Todd to the marriage of his best friend Eddie Fisher (who happened to already be married to Debbie Reynolds!  Thus, the nuptials had to be put off until his divorce was final.) This is why she's shown in a black wedding dress... sort of a combination mourning-marriage gown (with her tossing a funeral wreath instead of a bouquet!)
Archetypal British gentleman David Niven is depicted all duded-out in a morning coat, with customary hat and umbrella.
His soon-to-be costar in The Guns of Navarone (1961), Gregory Peck, is drawn with an emphasis on his apparent tight lips when it comes to talking.
Volcanic Italian sexpot (later to gain acclaim for her acting) Sophia Loren is shown with steam rising from her ample cleavage!
Famous vocalist and actor Bing Crosby appears to be singing his way to the bank!
The choice to depict Italian model-actress Elsa Martinelli as an ironing board is lost on me. I don't believe she was that flat-chested, was she?  Anyone?
Portrayer of aristocrats Alec Guinness is seen in his princely get-up from The Swan (1956.)
Statuesque siren Ava Gardner is seen in a parody of her role in One Touch of Venus (1948), which was, even by then, a bit in the past for her.
German actor Horst Buchholz was just near the peak of his international stardom at this time, having costarred in The Magnificent Seven (1960) and with Fanny (1961) and One, Two, Three (1961), among others, on the horizon.
Double Oscar-winning actor Gary Cooper was near the end of his career (and life) at this time.  He passed away in 1960.  His card suggests his 1952 role in High Noon (or perhaps Man of the West, 1958.)
This card of British actress Dawn Addams seems to signify her leaving England (with her umbrella and some Chianti) for Italy, where she married a prince. The marriage lasted pretty long by celebrity standards (1954-1971) and even resulted in the birth of a son (a second son died in infancy.)
In 1959, "Ol' Ski Nose" Bob Hope starred in the comic western Alias Jesse James, hence his cowboy get-up in this caricature.
I'm afraid I don't know the significance of having French actress Michele Morgan depicted as mostly fish, though I am happy to report that Ms. Morgan is still among us today at age ninety-four!
French cinema star Jean Marais is shown mooning over someone in the distance (does it say Cocteau on his book? The director Jean Cocteau, his mentor, was his lover for many years until his death in 1963. Marais, probably best known to U.S. audiences for the 1946 version of Beauty and the Beast, lived to be eighty-four.)
The temptress qualities that could be found in many of Rita Hayworth's roles seem to be depicted by the use of spider webs in her portrait.  The dress and gloves gently recall one of those parts, Gilda (1946.)
The crackling intensity that Kirk Douglas brought to so many parts is worked into his drawing.
I worship and adore this hilarious rendition of the reclusive and rather asocial legend, Miss Greta Garbo!
Lastly, I bring you the card for Katharine Hepburn in a pose designed to point out her intelligence. The person applying her name wasn't quite so bright. It's common for people to mistakenly misspell her as "Katherine" (even the credits of 1948's State of the Union got that wrong, long after she'd attained worldwide fame!), but rare indeed to start her name with a C! Just goes to show you that you can be staggeringly famous and on your way to an Oscar record (at this time) and still not get your name spelled right in some circles!


Knuckles Girlyskirt said...

As much as I like the Zsa Zsa and Sophia*...if I had to hang one on my wall, from an artistic point of view, I think I would go with the Anita Ekberg.

*and speaking of Sophia, if you're a fan and are unfamiliar with her recordings of "Mambo Bacan" or "Bing, Bang, Bong", they are definitely worth listening to at least once.

joel65913 said...

What marvelously bizarre cards!!

I know the answer to Michele Morgan's being portrayed as a fish. She is a semi professional painter and one of her specialties is paintings of fish owing to the fact that she's a Pisces. In an unrelated side note during her brief Hollywood career she had the French farm house built at 10050 Cielo Drive that was the tragic setting of the Sharon Tate murders.

Zsa Zsa is famous for being famous true but unlike the trash that passes for celebrities today she had several thing they never will. Class, wit, a droll attitude, dignity and when cast properly an amusing comic talent-small but serviceable.

They are all pretty terrific but my favorites are:

Elizabeth Taylor(wonderfully ghoulish), Belinda Lee and Dawn Addams(I know they were well known then but so wonderfully random now),Jean Marais, Bing, Charles Laughton(so simple yet accurate) and that Garbo drawing is everything.

I second the idea of a Belinda Lee bio pic! You just can't make a life like hers up! I could see Saoirse Ronan, Diane Kruger or maybe even Scarlett Johansson tearing up the screen with a story like that.

Poseidon3 said...

Joel, thank you so much for clearing up that Michele Morgan thing!! I appreciate that a lot. Also, I do agree with you about Zsa Zsa (and today's tabloid celebs.) I was just sort of suggesting that this sort of thing was done long before (and far better!) Thank you!

Poseidon3 said...

Oh, and Knuckles, I nearly forgot about you (perish the thought!) It would be rather neat to have a series of these types of drawings framed and hung in a (cinema lover's, not a gamer's) media room! They are fascinating conversation pieces. Thanks! ;-)