It is a source of constant amazement to me how movie stars established a hold on the public so early in the 20th century. Fan magazines sprung up in the teens and before long the world’s newest celebrities were being used to sell every imaginable product. Some of these “endorsements” were generic: a star’s face might appear on a desk blotter or calendar with the local sponsor’s name to be filled in later.

Blanche SweetThis leads me to a recent discovery: a 12-page brochure called “Frozen Echoes from the Movies” written by one Lillian Blackburn and reprinted from an issue of Motion Picture Magazine, which was founded in 1911. Some of the names still echo across the years like Dorothy Gish, Blanche Sweet, and opera star Geraldine Farrar, who became a screen favorite thanks to Cecil B. DeMille. Others, like May Allison and Cleo Madison, are remembered only by avid silent-film aficionados.

I can’t speak to the quality of the recipes but I would like to quote from an appendix at the end of the brochure about “Color Schemes for Table Decorations.”

“A simple color-scheme of ribbons or crepe-paper streamers in appropriate shades will make your table look dainty and give an added zest to what you serve,” we are told. Bear that in mind this summer. But when it comes to an overall palette, why not imitate the colors most worn by the stars themselves?

“Marguerite Snow most often dresses in blue; May Allison is fond of white and corn yellow; Geraldine Farrar believes that deep purple or black with crimson trimmings best suit her brunette type of beauty, And Anita Stewart is partial to lavender. Lenore Ulrich says that she loves all colors alike, but as Wetona, the Indian maid, she showed a predilection for russet brown, and as for dainty Edna Mayo, cream and ivory white are her favorite shades.”

There may not have been an US magazine or TMZ a hundred years ago, but people were just as eager to learn about famous folk then as they are today.

Geraldine Farrar-300

Dorothy Gish-300



Leonard Maltin is one of the world’s most respected film critics and historians. He is best known for his widely-used reference work Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide and its companion volume Leonard Maltin’s Classic Movie Guide, now in its third edition, as well as his thirty-year run on television’s Entertainment Tonight. He teaches at the USC School of Cinematic Arts and appears regularly on Reelz Channel and Turner Classic Movies. His books include The 151 Best Movies You’ve Never Seen, Of Mice and Magic: A History of American Animated Cartoons, The Great Movie Comedians, The Disney Films, The Art of the Cinematographer, Movie Comedy Teams, The Great American Broadcast, and Leonard Maltin’s Movie Encyclopedia. He served two terms as President of the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, is a voting member of the National Film Registry, and was appointed by the Librarian of Congress to sit on the Board of Directors of the National Film Preservation Foundation. He hosted and co-produced the popular Walt Disney Treasures DVD series and has appeared on innumerable television programs and documentaries. He has been the recipient of awards from the American Society of Cinematographers, the Telluride Film Festival, Anthology Film Archives, and San Diego’s Comic-Con International. Perhaps the pinnacle of his career was his appearance in a now-classic episode of South Park. (Or was it Carmela consulting his Movie Guide on an episode of The Sopranos?) He holds court at Follow him on Twitter and Facebook; you can also listen to him on his weekly podcast: Maltin on Movies. — [Artwork by Drew Friedman]

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February 2024