Marking the 4th of July

A year’s worth of holidays by Eugene Robert Richee. Click on the images to expand them.

In my last post on photographs, I wrote about three unknown subjects who sat for some of the leading Hollywood photographers of the day, and readers weighed in with suggestions about who these men might be as well as where to look for answers as to their identity. In today’s post, I wanted to try something a little different, especially as I could use a photo I’ve been longing to show off: these two photos, again taken by well-known photographers of the early sound era, show three film stars doing a bit of modeling for their studios.

The first, at left, shows one of the stars of The Stolen Jools (1931) – as well as The Maltese Falcon (1931) and 42nd Street (1933) – wearing a sash representing all the holidays of the year. If I am reading the iconography correctly, between Memorial Day (a mourning wreath) and Labor Day (a hammer) falls Independence Day, represented by something that looks like a boomerang but is perhaps a lit fire cracker. In any case, our film star is shown here in part to mark the 4th of July holiday, which we will celebrate on Saturday.

Picnicking at the beach by Gene Kornman.

So who is this attractive young woman, a stand-in for a year’s worth of holidays? Well, she was married to the man in my second photograph, with whom she appeared in The Stolen Jools; he is probably best known for roles in Hell’s Angels (1930) and Night Nurse (1931). With him, in a “candid” beach shot promoting Vogue’s Book of Etiquette (and breaking, presumably, all the book’s rules) is the young actress whom, following the death of his actress wife (see above), our leading man married in 1972. She starred in Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm (1932) and Tango (1936), among other films.

To recap: the young man in modest beach attire was at one time married to the actress wearing the sash; then, decades after the beach photo session, he married the young woman he can be seen feeding blueberries with a knife.

Who are they?[1]

And to encourage guesses, the first reader to respond with the three actors’ names will receive an NEHGS cup plate; two others will get a set of our book markers.



[1] A hint: all three can be found at The Internet Movie Database (IMDb).

About Scott C. Steward

Scott C. Steward was the founding editor at Vita Brevis; he served as NEHGS Editor-in-Chief 2013-2022. He is the author, co-author, or editor of genealogies of the Ayer, Le Roy, Lowell, Saltonstall, Thorndike, and Winthrop families. His articles have appeared in The New England Historical and Genealogical Register, NEXUS, New England Ancestors, American Ancestors, and The Pennsylvania Genealogical Magazine, and he has written book reviews for the Register, The New York Genealogical and Biographical Record, and the National Genealogical Society Quarterly.

15 thoughts on “Marking the 4th of July

      1. Hi Scott,

        No, I did not use IMDb – I followed your leads through each of the movies you listed via Wikipedia. The information about the movies listed the the major actors – and with the aid of google thumbnail photographs I eliminated other possible candidates. I thought I might be ‘close’ if I could identify the actor who was the common denominator, Mr. Ben Lyon. Once I was there, the photographs of his wives were “the tell” for me. I admit, I was terribly sloppy in my research methods – but the competition here is the best and so very keen!!

        It was great fun Scott –
        A very, very happy 4th to you and yours,

        Jeff Record

  1. Bet me to it!! Ben Lyon trivia from IMBD:
    While working as casting director at 20th Century-Fox, BL discovered and named Marilyn Monroe. (Is portrayed by Herb Mitchell in Norma Jean & Marilyn–1996)
    Adoptive father, with Bebe Daniels, of actor Richard Lyon, and natural father of Barbara Lyon.
    Hosted the British version of “I’ve Got a Secret” during the 1950s.
    A few years before his death, Ben Lyon was made a Member of the Order of the British Empire in a ceremony at the British Consulate in Los Angeles, in recognition of the following:

    “As both of their movie careers started to decline, the talented twosome [Bebe and Nen] decided to work up a husband-and-wife music hall and vaudeville act. They took their show to England and became a hit at the London Palladium. At one point he served in the U.S. Army Air Force and rose to the rank of Lt. Colonel in charge of Special Services for the U.S. Air Corps in England. Soldiers, sailors and airmen (from 1939) listened to Ben and Bebe weekly on the air waves with their popular, long-running BBC broadcast “Hi, Gang!” The couple remained in England throughout WWII performing on stage and doing their valid part to entertain and honor the troops.”

    1. Of course, the GENEALOGICAL CHALLENGE (worthy of .something, for sure) would be to find out if the three of them are in anyway other way related. Less likely for Marian as her m.n. was Nissinen

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