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Back Story: 1925

Back Story: 1925

        UPDATE: Shorpy member Ben Roundabloc reveals our inscribed ingenue to be the actress Dorothy Appleby, who featured in the theatrical revue "Puzzles of 1925."

January 1925. Washington, D.C. "Man painting woman's back" is all it says here. Who can help fill in the blanks? Harris & Ewing glass negative. View full size.


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Cans on the Bench

Unfortunately I can't make out the brands, but the cans between the artist and Dorothy James appear to be show-card colors aka posters paints. Water soluble, so easy to use and easy to fix mistakes.

Elsie Janis

OK, this is a funny coincidence. Not a week ago I was poking around in the Shorpy archive and looked at this picture of the New Jersey boardwalk in 1905, marveling at the crowd (and all the dead people):

Now, down in the corner, there was a little sign that said, "A Sensation! ELSIE JANIS, the World's Greatest Imitator!" So I did a little Google search on her, and she turned out to be quite an interesting character (look her up!), who'd been just starting out in 1905 at 16 years old. Just another day on Shorpy, finding interesting little details and people who lived long ago.

So today I look up Puzzles of 1925, and who pops up as the author of the book, and the director of the Broadway play, 20 years later? Elsie Janis!

Elsie is clearly stalking me. "Always Something Interesting" here at Shorpy.

The bench

There's some funky stuff in the background !

The bench is a joiner's or carpenter's bench with a face vise on the left and a tail vise on the right. Such a bench would be appropriate in either a sign shop or a theatrical prop workshop.

Way over on the left are two empty liquor bottles and an electric hotplate. The hotplate might be there to warm old-fashioned hot hide glue which was used for woodworking in those days.

What do you make of the partially-readable labels on the cans on the bench ?

Dorothy Appleby, Star of Stage and Screen

Featured in the revue "Puzzles of 1925," based on the book by Elsie Janis. Dorothy had parts in several other movies and plays include some Three Stooges films.

Spice it up

Finally a way to spice up my daily Sudoku puzzles! I hope the wife plays along with this idea! Best not use permanent markers I guess.

The 1920s, more modern than today

Ah, Bohemia. I love this woman's free spirit: allowing herself to be photographed topless and showing a "wicked knee". Did she answer an ad in the paper or do these two have some extracurricular connection? Commercial sign painting, theatrical, unfortunate racism on prominent display. Is she a showgirl? Is to be part of a coming attraction? The exuberance of the age and flaming youth speaks in so many details, not the least of which the SHAG carpet. It's good to see people with a sense of fun.

The Sign is a Hint

Looks like it's for "Eddie L" which could be Eddie Leonard.

One thing I'm sure of

You don't have to roll your stockings down below your knees to have your back painted.

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