Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Vintage 1950s Food

Such an easy buffet  "show stopper".   Simple to make!

Salad Loaf

The bottom layer is raspberry gelatin filled with sliced RIPE bananas
The middle layer is lemon gelatin smoothed with cream cheese.
The top layer is lime-flavored gelatin with pineapple rounds cut in half and placed in the design.

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Vintage 1950s Personalities

Audie Murphy
          While doing in-depth research into 1950s Hollywood for our Skylar Drake Mystery series, we came across Hollywood personalities that shocked and amazed us. Really. You can't make this stuff up!

F. Scott Fitzgerald once wrote, "Show me a hero and I'll write you a tragedy."

          Audi Murphy was the most decorated U.S, soldier of WWII, returning home as a hero. He became an actor starring in his own story, To Hell and Back. Though he was only 21 years old at the end of the war, he had been wounded three times, had earned 33 awards and medals. After the war, he appeared in more than 40 films. He suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder throughout his life.

          LIFE magazine honored the brave, handsome soldier by putting him on the cover of its July 16, 1945 issue. That photograph inspired actor James Cagney to call Murphy and invite him to Hollywood to begin an acting career. Despite his celebrity, Murphy struggled for years to gain recognition.

          In 1949, Murphy published his autobiography, To Hell and Back. The book quickly became a national bestseller, and in 1955, after much inner debate, he decided to portray himself in the film version of his book. The movie was a hit and held Universal Studio's record as its highest-grossing motion picture until 1975. Murphy would go on to make 44 feature films in all. In addition to acting, he became a successful country music songwriter, and many of his songs were recorded by well-known artists, such as Dean Martin, Jerry Wallace and Harry Nilsson.      

          During his rise to fame, Murphy met and married 21-year old actress Wanda Hendrix in 1949. Their marriage ended in divorce in 1950. He married again in 1951, this time to Pamela Archer, with whom he had two children. Plagued by insomnia and nightmares, a condition that would eventually become known as post-traumatic stress disorder, Murphy became addicted to sleeping pills. In his later years, Audie Murphy squandered his fortune on gambling and bad investments and was in financial ruin.

          He died in a plane crash on May 28, 1971. The aircraft crashed into the side of Brushy Mountain, northwest of Roanoke, Virginia. Murphy was buried at Arlington National Cemetery on June 7, 1971, and was given full military honors.

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Vintage 1950s Parties


Hawaiian Style
          When it came to Theme Parties in the 1950s, Hawaiian was most popular. The veterans returning from WWII, those who were stationed in Hawaii or South Pacific, longed for the tropical fruits, music, and overall culture. So once they get got their jobs, careers, families, and homes, what better type of party to throw in the summer in their backyard than a Hawaiian Party?

          Soon it was easy to find the leis, ferns, flowers and Hawaiian music to make it as close to the South Sea Islands as they could. The menu usually consisted of the following:
          Chicken Curry, sautéed banana, tropical fruits, green beans almandine and of course  Pineapple Upside Down Cake.

          Popular beverages were Hawaiian Punch, Pineapple punch, Mai Tai and in 1957 the Blue Hawaiian.  And of course, they would never have a party without Martinis.

          If they really wanted to do it big, they hired a Hawaiian band or someone who played the Ukulele or Hula dancers.


Sunday, June 7, 2020

Vintage 1950s Food

My aunt lived in Manhattan, N.Y. Every month my mother would ship off  my brother and me to visit her for the weekend.  When Saturday rolled rounded, we walked with her to the fresh fish market and she bought fresh oysters for this oyster stew.  Ah...memories!

Oyster Stew

1/4 cup butter or margarine                   1-quart raw oysters or 2 pkg.
Dash of pepper                                              frozen oysters
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce         1-1/2 quarts milk
Dash paprika                                         1-1/2 teaspoon salt

Melt butter in a deep pan. Add Worcestershire sauce and paprika, stir until smooth. Add oysters and oyster liquid, cook over low heat until edges of oysters curl.  Add milk, salt, and pepper, heat thoroughly over low heat but do not boil. Makes 6 servings

Saturday, May 30, 2020

Vintage 1950s Women's Fashion

Halter Top

          Most summer tops were blouses, often in cotton, with no sleeves. The Halter Blouse/top was a summer favorite throughout the 1950s. These often came in loud floral prints, bold colorful checks. They could have two thick straps that tied or buttoned in the back or slid behind the neck. Some had a zipper down the back or side. Other halter tops styles had a very low back.  They were modest in front, and immodest in back, which was acceptable.

          Another summer top was the spaghetti strap top. The thickness of the straps varied year to year. Another popular style for the hot summer days and night. The halter top style was also popular in dresses.

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Vintage 1950s Men's Fashion

Letterman Sweaters

        On high school and college campuses (worn by post-college age men as well), the letterman cardigan sweater or V-neck pullover called an “Award Sweater,” “Letter Sweater” or “Varsity Sweater” was an athletic man’s uniform. The large felt white or gold block letter on the left side represented the school name. Additional letters, stripes, and symbols were sewn onto varsity sweaters or varsity jackets to specify the sport, year, or position on the team.  

        Letterman sweaters were a symbol of social rank in school and a nod to the past for grown men. They have become an icon for 1950s fashion thanks to many movies such as GREASE, about life in 1950s high schools. 

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Vintage 1950s Cars

The Packard Caribbean

The Packard Caribbean was a personal luxury car produced by the Packard Motor Car Company of Detroit, Michigan from 1953 through 1956. It was produced only as a convertible from 1953 to 1955, a hardtop model was added in its final year of 1956.

          The Caribbean line was equipped with a V8 engine and the car was available in two or three-tone paint patterns. Designer Richard Teague succeeded in restyling the old Packard Senior body into a sensational, modern-looking design. Production for 1955 stood at only 500 units.

          For 1956, trim differences between the 1955 and 1956 cars were slight. Total model year production equaled 263 hardtops and 276 convertibles. The model was discontinued when Packard production ended in Detroit.

          It competed head-to-head with Cadillac at one time. The boldly designed Packard offered a wraparound windshield, large tail lamps, lavish interior appointments, and an aircraft-inspired instrument panel.

          One was offered for sale at the St. John's auction presented by RM Auctions in 2012. The car was estimated to sell for $70,000-$90,000. As bidding came to a close, that particular car was sold for the sum of $41,250 including the buyer's premium.

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Vintage 1950s Television Dragnet

Vintage 1950s


          Dragnet Television Show  was a police procedural drama centered around a Los Angeles Police Detective. The show stared Sergeant Joe Friday, played by Jack Webb, and his partner Officer Bill Gannon played by Harry Morgan. The police term "dragnet", means a system of coordinated measures for apprehending criminals or suspects. The original show aired from 1951 to 1959 and was revived from 1967 to 1970.

          The series gave the public a feel for the danger and heroism of police work. Dragnet earned praise for improving the public opinion of police officers. Actor and producer Jack Webb's aims in Dragnet were for realism and unpretentious acting; he achieved both goals.
          1-The ominous, four-note introduction to the brass and timpani theme music (titled Danger Ahead) date to 1946, Miklós Rózsa's score in the film version of The Killers.

          2-Another Dragnet trademark is the show's opening narration: "Ladies and gentlemen: the story you are about to hear is true. Only the names have been changed to protect the innocent." This underwent minor revisions over time. The "only" and "ladies and gentlemen" were dropped at some point, and for the television version "hear" was changed to "see". Variations on this narration have been featured in subsequent crime dramas, and in parodies of the dramas (e.g. "Only the facts have been changed to protect the guilty").

          After Webb's death (December 23, 1983) Chief Daryl Gates of the LAPD announced that badge number 714 -Webb's number on the television show - was retired, and Los Angeles city offices lowered their flags to half staff. At Webb's funeral, the LAPD provided an honor guard, and the chief of police commented on Webb's connection with the LAPD. An LAPD auditorium was named in his honor. Jack Webb's LAPD sergeant's badge and ID card are on display at the Los Angeles Police Academy.

To hear the opening theme of Dragnet go to:

Friday, May 8, 2020

Vintage 1950s Mystery The Murder House

Vintage 1950s


The Murder House

          While doing in-depth research into 1950s Hollywood, we came across news that shocked and amazed us. Really. You can't make this stuff up! The Rosenheim mansion was one of them. We ended up using the layout of the house as the Brovor Mansion in Game Town.

          Alfred Rosenheim was a German-American architect who built the mansion that was used in American Horror Story, and is now known as the "Murder House." It was also used in American Horror Story: Hotel, when Lady Gaga's Countess character used it to book an appointment with the deranged doctor who was practicing out of the basement.

          Rosenheim moved to Los Angeles from St. Louis in 1902 and built his stately manor on a hill in the Country Club Park neighborhood that became known as Billionaire Row. His neighbors included some of the most influential names in California including the Kinneys and the Dohenys.

          The Rosenheim family lived in the house for eleven years and sold it to a "colorful mining magnate" named A.J. McQuatters. Then, in the early 1930s actor Edward Everett Horton lived in the mansion. After him, the Catholic Order of Nuns, a Sisters of Social Service used the house as a convent and added a chapel to the grounds. (The chapel was used as the "Attic" in American Horror Story).

          The house has been a popular filming location, beginning with Charlie Chaplin’s silent movies followed by the talkies. The home was used in a series of films and television shows, such as Spiderman, Seabiscuit, The X-Files, The Twilight Zone, Six Feet Under, Bones, Dexter, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer (it was the frat house in the episode "Fear, Itself", where Buffy and the gang got locked in on Halloween). 

          It has been featured in numerous TV productions, including Alfred Hitchcock PresentsBuffy the Vampire SlayerBones, and Law & Order: SVU. In 2011 the house was chosen as the location for the first season of American Horror Story: Murder House. To better facilitate filming in the mansion, a large addition was built in the back of the house as a staging area.

          In 1994 an earthquake damaged the house and the nuns put it on the market for $3 million. The house was declared a Historic and Cultural Landmark in 1999. 

Added Note
          The haunted house that inspired the first season of American Horror Story is reported to be based on the Bailey House in Hartford, Connecticut. Location scouts got their inspiration from the Bailey Mansion and chose the Rosenheim Mansion as a filming substitute.  However, if you are looking for the "Bailey Mansion" in Hartford, Conn. it doesn't exist. But someone found a dilapidated Mansion in McKeesport, PA that could be the inspiration for the Rosenheim Mansion.

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Vintage 1950s Personalities

Curly Howard

Curly Howard  real name Jerome Lester Horwitz was born on October 22, 1903. He was best known as a member of the American farce comedy team the Three Stooges which also featured his elder brothers Moe and Shemp Howard and actor Larry Fine.
          Curly Howard was generally considered the most popular and recognizable of the Stooges. He was well known for his high-pitched voice and vocal expressions ("nyuk-nyuk-nyuk!", "woob-woob-woob!", "soitenly!"(certainly), and barking like a dog) as well as his physical comedy (e.g., falling on the ground and pivoting on his shoulder as he "walked" in circular motion), improvisations, and athleticism. An untrained actor, Curly borrowed (and significantly exaggerated) the "woob woob" from "nervous" and soft-spoken comedian Hugh Herbert

          Howard's childlike mannerisms and natural comedic charm made him a hit with audiences, particularly children. Many times, directors would simply let the camera roll freely and let Howard improvise. Writers  would leave gaps in the Stooge scripts where Curly could improvise for several minutes.  

          Off screen, Curley was an introvert, he generally kept to himself, rarely socializing with people unless he had been drinking (which he would increasingly turn to as the stresses of his career grew.)  Curly simply refrained from engaging in "crazy antics" unless he was in his element: with family, performing or intoxicated.
          By the time the Stooges hit their peak in the late 1930s, their films had almost become vehicles for his uninhibited comic performances. Moe Howard later confirmed that when Curly forgot his lines, that merely allowed him to improvise on the spot so that the "take" could continue uninterrupted.

          In 1944, Howard's energy began to fall.  After the filming of the feature-length Rockin; in the Rockies  (December 1944), he finally checked himself (at Moe's insistence) into Cottage Hospital in Santa Barbara, California on January 23, 1945, and was diagnosed with extreme hypertension, a retinal hemorrhage, and obesity. His ill health forced him to rest, leading to only five shorts being released in 1945.
          In January 1945, Shemp had been recruited to substitute for a resting Curly during live performances in New Orleans.  After Curly's 1946 stroke, Shemp agreed to replace him, but only until his younger brother was well enough to rejoin the act.

          Curly suffered a second massive stroke in 1947, which left him partially paralyzed. In February 1951, he was placed in a nursing home, where he suffered another stroke a month later.  
          During World War II, the Stooges entertained servicemen constantly, and the intense work schedule took its toll on Curly. He found constant companionship in his dogs and often befriended strays whenever the Stooges were traveling.

          After three failed marriages, on July 31, 1947, he married Valerie Newman, and remained married until his death.
          He died January 18, 1952, of a massive stroke.

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Vintage 1950s Music Lisbond Antiqua

Vintage 1950s Music

Lisbon Antiqua
          Lisbon Antigua ("Old Lisbon") is a Portuguese popular song that became a hit in the United States when recorded by the Nelson Riddle Orchestra in 1956. The song was originally written in 1937, with music by Raul Portela and Portuguese lyrics by José Galhardo and Amadeu do Vale. It was brought to Riddle's attention by Nat King Cole's manager who had heard a version played by an orchestra in Mexico. Riddle recorded his own arrangement with himself on the piano accompanied by a string section, brass, and a wordless male chorus. Lisbon Antiqua topped the Billboard Magazine  chart on February 25, 1956, and remained there for four weeks. The song became a gold record. Riddle then used the song for the theme music when he wrote the score for the 1956 film Lisbon. Billboard ranked it as the No. 3 song for 1956.

          In 1956, another popular version was recorded byFreank Chacksfield's  orchestra under the title In Old Lisbon in which the male chorus sang lyrics written in English by Harry Dupree. It was released by theUnited Kingdom Decca Label reaching #15 on the UK charts.

          In October 1956 the song made the French charts with Gloria Lasso's Lisbon Antigua and Dario Moreno's Adieu Lisbonne.

To enjoy the music Go to:

Saturday, April 11, 2020

Vintage 1950s Lost Buildings, Richfield Tower

Vintage 1950s Lost Buildings

Richfield Tower
formally 555 South Flower Street
Los Angeles

Richfield Tower, (a.k.a. Richfield Oil Company Building) was constructed between 1928 and 1929 and served as the headquarters of Richfield Oil. It was designed by Stiles O. Clements and featured a black and gold Art Deco façade.
          The 12-floor building, including a 130-foot (40 m) tower on top of the building emblazoned vertically with the name "Richfield". Lighting on the tower was made to simulate an oil well gusher and the motif was reused at some Richfield service stations.

          The company outgrew the building, and it was demolished in 1969, much to the dismay of Los Angeles residents and those interested in architectural preservation. It is now the ARCO Plaza skyscraper complex. The elaborate black-and-gold elevator doors were salvaged from the building and reside in the lobby of the new ARCO building (now City National Tower).
          Richfield Tower was featured in a few scenes of Michelangelo Antonioni's 1970 film Zabriskie Point, shot shortly before its demolition