With Cupid on the wing, it’s time to show off some vintage Hollywood stills promoting Valentine’s Day—and the movie studios who had their prettiest contract stars pose for these shots. The earliest example features an ingénue whom many of us cherish from her recurring role as Miss Crabtree, the most idealized schoolteacher of all time, in the Our Gang comedies of the early 1930s.
That was still several years away when she faced the camera in 1927. Here’s the original caption: “St. Valentine, I salute you, or Lincoln or whoever it was who invented St. Valentine’s Day,’ says June Marlowe, who has just finished her role with Jean Hersholt in Alias the Deacon at Universal City.”
This may not have been a tie-in for the February holiday, but I can’t think of a cuter valentine than Thelma Todd, who never took a bad photo during her tenure at the Hal Roach comedy studio in the 1930s.
Betty Grable was not yet a G.I. pin-up queen when she participated in this sitting at Paramount in the late 1930s. Paramount never knew how to make the best use of the talented musical performer, who only came into her own when she moved to 20th Century Fox in 1940 and quickly became their top box-office attraction. But as you can see, her famous legs were just as lovely at her earlier studio home across town.
Frances Gifford set adolescent hearts aflutter when she played Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Jungle Girl in the 1941 Republic serial of the same name. She was then placed under contract at MGM, where she worked for the balance of that decade without great distinction. But she certainly was photogenic.
Gloria DeHaven strikes a patriotic pose in this MGM promotional still which went out to newspaper and magazine editors with this timely caption: "SOMETHING FOR THE BOYS – A giant Valentine from Hollywood’s top stars to be sent to a company of fighting men overseas is signed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer’s shapely actress Gloria DeHaven. Even more attractive than the Valentine itself is sunny-tressed Gloria, who will be seen to further advantage in the forthcoming ‘Red Adams.’ ”