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Most of the photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs, 20 to 200 megabytes in size) from the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) Many were digitized by LOC contractors using a Sinar studio back. They are adjusted by your webmaster for contrast and color in Photoshop before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here.

 
 
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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • ABOUT PARIS, 1895

Earl Carroll's Vanities: 1925

Earl Carroll's Vanities: 1925

January 26, 1925. Washington, D.C. "National Theater. Earl Carroll instructing showgirls in Vanities." More of the Broadway showman and considerably more of his performers. For a decade or so, annual productions of Earl Carroll's Vanities ("Through these portals pass the most beautiful girls in the world") were a staple of the theatrical stage, "treading the fine line between titillation and indecency," as one reviewer put it. National Photo Company glass negative. View full size.

 

Strange, no?

Those women are fantastic. And 1920s women's hairstyles were so very strange.

Not so glamorous

I'm sure these ladies looked lovely on stage but then, as it is now, the backstage life of an actress or dancer isn't so glamorous. Poorly painted walls and old chairs. Yeesh! I don't think the ladies would have danced on stage with their straps hanging off their shoulders (young lady on far left) or with uneven stockings. This picture was taken at a moment of relaxation or in between scenes. I do want one of their hats though. Super cute.

Vanities or Valentines

These beauties make me wish I could travel back in time. I wonder what the Proper Ladies of the time would have said of this picture.

Speculation

They are so hot they can melt the glue out of a kitchen chair. Perhaps the wire helps drain the static charge out of the dressing room. The chairs may have doubled as props in one of their numbers, hence the extra bracing. One can only speculate.

My goodness!

Well, as Mae West once quipped: "Goodness had nothing to do with it."

Uh-oh

Grandma! Is that really you?

Who Cares

So what about the chairs, who noticed the stocking lengths? The girls are enchanting and those legs are great.

The girls live on

I know a ninetysomething man who used to frequent Earl Carroll's club in Los Angeles. He still talks about dancing with some of those loveliest of girls. It seems to have been the high point of his youth.

Quick, the carpenter's glue

In addition to the young lady's stocking being at different heights, it obvious that all the chairs are in bad need of maintenance -- something more than just stringing wires and tightening them.

And what a fine line it is

This would have to be a touring company of the 1924 cast:

http://www.ibdb.com/production.php?id=9572

since the 1925 version didn't debut until July of that year. In the earlier productions like this one, Earl Carroll wrote all the music & lyrics. Later productions had bigger name stars (WC Fields, Milton Berle) and Songs by other songwriters (Howard Arlen) and production design by Vincente Minelli.

 
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