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Our holdings include hundreds of glass and film negatives/transparencies that we've scanned ourselves; in addition, many other photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs) in the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) They are adjusted, restored and reworked by your webmaster in accordance with his aesthetic sensibilities before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here. All of these images (including "derivative works") are protected by copyright laws of the United States and other jurisdictions and may not be sold, reproduced or otherwise used for commercial purposes without permission.

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[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Whirly Gig: 1921

Whirly Gig: 1921

New York, July 5, 1921. "Joan Broadhurst." One of the players in "The Broadway Whirl," a musical comedy revue at the Times Square Theatre. View full size.

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Why the focus?

Been visiting this site for a while and notice that there often seems to be some comment about how homely the women are or how fat or how thin especially compared to today's standards. Am I missing the importance of evaluating this in these wonderful historical photographs? Surely there is something more important to talk about regarding such images.


It looks like a tiny cameo.

The pendant?

Dave, any chance of a close-up of the pendant, please?


Some people don't know what pretty is. The media say something is good so it is, right? Joan is very real and she is pretty. And, as a performer, she probably gets one hell of a lot more attractive when you get to know her as woman -- a real woman that knows how to talk to a man.

I Googled Joan

Joan Broadhurst also appeared in "Miss Millions" as a kind of "supporting actress." These seem to be the only two Broadway productions where she makes an appearance.

Most women considered attractive in past ages wouldn't pass muster today. Toward the end of 19th century, for instance, an important beauty requisite for a woman was to have all the front teeth.

Sizing - it's all a scam

For comparison purposes, when I was young (40's-50's era) I weighed in at less than 105 pounds and wore a size 9-10. I am now somewhat heavier and wear a size 6. Go figure. Who are the clothes makers trying to kid.

The Suit

Ya know, I wouldn't mind that style of suit for splashing in the ocean or sitting in the hot tub.

The Real Thing

These attractive gals are honestly shown in these photographs, no Photoshop used like in most of today's pictures. I love the honesty of all these old pictures.

The bee's knees

What sjmills expresses here is surely the love of the ideal, and not of the real. The average woman's dress size today in the US is 12 (although others hold out for size 14). The average mannequin's dress size is 6. The group of Hollwood starlets discussed here range in size from 0 to 10. (Please ignore the photos, gents--it's the data I'm talking about.)

Not one of them--including the average mannequin--wears a dress size as large as the average American woman. And as far as thin and healthy being synonymous, note in the first URL posted above what some women have to do to keep "thin."

I doubt that Joan Broadhurst here is much beyond a 6 herself, and probably much less--using today's measurements. (Dress sizes used to use a different metric, apparently.) And she may not be much more than five feet in her stocking feet.

What it comes down to,I think, is this. We are a different culture now. What was seen as attractive in 1921 is seen as far from that mark today. We've had lots of time in the intervening ninety years or so to learn what the camera likes and how to make ourselves look pretty for photographs.

Ms. Broadhurst here is likely a portrait of the ideal of the early 1920s--hips, knees, moles and all.

Lovers, not Haters

Those of us that prefer thin, fit, healthy women don't hate her, we just think she's very unattractive and everything from her hips on down are way too thick. She's no Keira Knightley, that's for sure. Maybe actresses/dancers had to be bigger back then so they could be seen on stage from the back row.

Mister B.

I wonder if Miss Broadhurst was related to George Broadhurst, the playwright and theater manager (Broadhurst Theater).

Anyway, before the haters appear, yes she has a mole on her forehead, no she is NOT fat and y'know, she has a sweet face and lovely wavy blond hair. So there.

SHORPY OLD PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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