Saturday, 31 October 2015

Happy Hallowe'en: Riding High by Gil Elvgren

 Riding High (1958)

The celebration of All Hallows Eve in the UK has increased enormously over the last decade; driven mainly by manufacturers of plastic tat, supermarkets and confectioners, hoping for a pre-Christmas sales bump.   When I was a child it was not marked at all in Britain.  Indeed, I remember being invited to a Hallowe'en party in Banff in Canda in 1994 and finding it a very odd idea.  After all, we have Guy Fawkes night in the UK, just five days later, which is much better as you get to let off rockets.  Sadly, the latter is falling out of fashion in the UK, due to health and safety concerns over the public letting off large amounts of explosives willy nilly (alright, I know that gunpowder is not technically an explosive) and politically correct notions that, for some reason, the burning of effigies of Catholics is not acceptable.

This painting was by America''s greatest pin-up artist, Gil Elvgren (1914-1980), who for more than forty years produced hundreds of paintings of pretty girls (usually having difficulties in keeping their clothing in order) for calendars and advertisements (especially for Coca-Cola).   He was also a fine photographer and shot his own reference pictures, as here.

Elvgren's model for this painting was, the really rather splendid, Marilyn Hanold  (b. 1938) who was Playboy's Playmate of the Month for June 1959.  She was just nineteen when she posed for this shot.  She had a number of small  parts (actually there was nothing small about her parts) in TV and films in the fifties and early sixties, including, at the end of her career, as Amazon number 8, in the James Bond spoof In Like Flint (1967) with James Coburn.  That year, however, she married Rulon Neilson, the president of Skyline Oil Company from Utah and stopped acting.  What did she see in the, twice her age, millionaire oil tycoon?  For, that matter what did the 57 year old see in the 29 year old 40-26-38 nude model and former Las Vegas showgirl?

It's a mystery!

Saturday, 24 January 2015

Something for the Weekend: Ulla Lindstrom - First Page 3 Girl

First Page 3 picture - Ulla Lindstrom November 17th 1969

There has been much discussion this week over whether The Sun newspaper has or has not abolished its long running Page 3 topless girl picture.  It seems that they are using the "have they?" or "haven't they?" publicity to push up sales in the interim.  There was no Page 3 girl on Monday and then she reappeared on Thursday (see below), prompted, perhaps, by a fear that "readers" of The Sun will switch allegiance to the rival Star and it's always rather lower status Starbirds (if they even still have them).  Anyway, I am not getting into a debate about whether Page 3 was mostly harmless or the cause of women still not been treated as equals in society, as that is a discussion for one of my other incarnation's blogs.  

Rupert Murdoch with the first issue of The Sun produced under his ownership on November 17th 1969

What we will do here is correct an error I have seen in nearly every report on the issue and that is that the first Page 3 girl appeared in November 1970.  She did not.  The first Page 3 girl was twenty year old Swedish model Ulla Lindstrom, who appeared in the very first edition of the Rupert Murdoch owned issue of the newspaper (The Sun was actually first published in 1964 as a broadsheet) on 17th November 1969.

Lindstrom  was a well known model in Sweden and had already appeared topless on the cover of the Swedish magazine FIB Aktuellt in 1966.  Ironically, of course, she was not topless in her Page 3 shot.

She started modelling at the age of sixteen but by the time of her Page 3 appearance was an economics student.  Originally from Gothenburg, her 5'8" height  and lovely face got her conventional modelling work as well as a few appearances in men's magazines.  She had had a blink and you'll miss her appearance in the Dean Martin Matt Helm spy spoof The Ambushers (1967), her only screen appearance.

Two months before her Page 3 appearance she had shown rather more as Penthouse Pet of the Month in the September issue of the UK issue.  She would then be Pet of the Month in the third ever issue of Penthouse in the US, although the rather visible nipples on the UK cover would be obscured for the US edition.  

Stephanie Rahn November 17th 1970

So why the confusion as to the first Page 3 girl?  Well for the first year of the feature the girls weren't photographed topless.  It was only on the first birthday of the feature, November 17th 1970, that Sun editor Larry Lamb authorised the use of a girl in her "birthday suit",  This was twenty two year old Stephanie Rahn, originally from Singapore, who thus became the first topless Page 3 girl.  Unlike Lindstrom, she would reappear on Page 3 many times in the seventies, under the name Stephanie Marrian.  She would also appear in a lot more men's magazines than Lindstrom.

Eight years after Lindstrom appeared on the cover, Rahn/Marrian was on the cover of the same Swedish magazine

Oddly, when The Sun wanted to track her down for a feature on Page 3 they couldn't find her as they were looking for someone named Rahn (which was actually the result of the mis-writing of her surname Kahn).  They hadn't realised that Stephanie Marrian was the same girl.  It was only when Marrian was in hospital with MRSA in 2005 that she said in an interview that she had been the first topless Page 3 girl.

Nicole, January 22nd 2015

The original idea was that the Page 3 girls would cover up again after this birthday special in 1970 but, of course, that did not happen.  Until now?