I’ll admit it’s not as rich a lode as we had on Valentine’s Day, but I can’t resist posting these pictorial tributes to the father of our country. (For some reason, I haven’t found any shots of starlets cozying up to portraits of Abraham Lincoln. Maybe next year...) Studio publicity departments knew that sending out stills such as these virtually guaranteed publication in newspapers and magazines; it was all part of the promotional machine that worked so well in the 1920s, 30s, and 40s.
Mary Philbin is best remembered today as Lon Chaney’s leading lady in the 1925 version of The Phantom of the Opera. She was also a Universal Pictures contract player, which required her to pose for shots like this, honoring George Washington.
This artfully posed shot from 1929 featuring Sally Blane was taken by one of movieland’s most celebrated photographers, Ernest A. Bachrach. The caption reads, “FRAGRANT WITH THE SPIRIT OF OLD LAVENDER is this exquisite portrait of Sally Blane, RKO Picture starlet and Wampas Baby Star. In a gown handed down through six generations, the lovely actress poses to honor the 197th anniversary of the birth of George Washington.” Blane never achieved the success of her sister, Loretta Young, and retired from the screen in 1935. She was married to actor-turned-director Norman Foster.
To round out our photo album, here’s a patriotic shot featuring Betty Furness, when she was working for MGM in the mid-1930s. Decades later she enjoyed even greater success as a spokeswoman for Westinghouse appliances on television, and then carved another career for herself as a consumer affairs expert, first on the Today show and then as a civil servant, working for the city of New York.