Disney, Hitchcock, and Marilyn Flying High

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by Leonard Maltin
May 6, 2013 12:05 AM
3 Comments
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If you fly out of Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) on American Airlines’ commuter service, American Eagle, you must take a shuttle bus to a remote terminal, where you’ll be surrounded by giant photographic blowups of celebrities boarding American planes, back in the days when flying was a more romantic experience than it is today. We’re talking about the 1930s, ‘40s, ‘50s, and early ‘60s, which is where the timeline stops in this informal gallery. (The “newest” stars on display are Paul Newman, Grace Kelly, Eartha Kitt, and Jerry Lewis.) I’ve been yearning to share these wonderful pictures with you—many of which have never been reprinted, I dare say—but I couldn’t’ get a clear shot with my camera because the blowups are so glossy and the terminal is filled with fluorescent light fixtures.

As luck would have it, I contributed an article to the airline’s magazine, American Way, during Oscar season, and my editor, Jessica Jones, was kind enough to locate the originals, which are part of the C.R. Smith Museum. I am grateful to them for allowing me to run them here.

Photo Courtesy of American Airines

Walt Disney looks very dapper in this 1930s shot, accompanied by a cut-out Mickey Mouse that looks like a department-store display piece.

Courtesy of American Airlines

It took me time to realize that Shirley Temple is standing on a metal shipping can designed to transport 35mm prints. Could this be a promotional photo for Bright Eyes, in which she sings “On the Good Ship Lollipop” while strolling down the aisle of an airplane?

Courtesy of American Airlines

The Three Stooges never missed an opportunity to “mug” for the camera, and here is evidence, as they make a personal appearance at the Texas Centennial celebration in 1936.

Courtesy of American Airlines

Alfred Hitchcock is another figure who enjoyed playing up his public persona as the master of suspense, even in a simple still photo such as this.

Courtesy of American Airlines

Roy Rogers and Dale Evans would have accumulated a daunting number of frequent-flyer miles during their heyday touring the country. This pose is likely from the 1950s.

Courtesy of American Airlines

When it comes to posing, few people in the history of Hollywood could match Marilyn Monroe. She knew what people wanted to see and obliged the anonymous American Airlines cameraman at the height of her popularity.

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3 Comments

  • Tony Caruana | May 7, 2013 4:28 PMReply

    Great photos: Thanks for sharing.

  • mike fontanelli | May 7, 2013 10:00 AMReply

    I just hope someone kept the Stooges away from the flight controls.

  • Norm | May 6, 2013 4:13 PMReply

    To loosely quote an Indiana Jones film, allot of LM's material should be in a Museum, even if the Disney clods don't get it , maybe someone else will, and then sell it back to the Diz for a hefty price. Capitalism at work...

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