It’s been too long since we last visited Anne Rodman’s 1939 beauty advice book, “Lady, Be Lovely”. I decided to turn the page today and see what my favorite beauty authority would have in store. I was delighted to find information on how to have beautiful bosoms, back, and shoulders.
Anne makes a case for plastic surgery for a woman’s breasts but only if, as she states, it is absolutely necessary. Her preference is for an uplifting brassiere. Things don’t appear to have changed much since the publication of “Lady, Be Lovely” — women are still pursuing pefect breasts. I believe that Anne would approve of Dita Von Teese’s choice of underpinnings and, like the rest of us, be envious of her incredible form.
Dita Von Teese in a Wonderbra
And what about the “…youthful contour, after the manner of the Balinese maidens” Anne mentioned? Below are “Two Balinese Maidens” by Theo Meier, and I’d say that “youthful contour” is an understatement.
Two Balinese Maidens
In the 1930s a beautiful back was crucial if a woman wanted to follow the trend in evening gowns. Bette Davis looked stunning in her frock. She had the back and shoulds to make the most of it.
According to Ms. Rodman, a woman could achieve a beautiful back by stretching backward over a hassock.
Now, according to a woman’s magazine, we can have a ball!
From the mid-1600s until 1854 Japan had been, by choice, a very isolated nation. They may have continued their isolation for another 200 years if it had not been for the Treaty of Kanagawa (aka Perry Convention). The treaty was signed by the Japanese under pressure from U.S. Commodore Matthew C. Perry. In 1853 he had sailed into Tokyo Bay with a fleet of warships and had demanded that the Japanese open their ports to U.S. ships for supplies. It was clear to the Japanese that the Commodore would return and make things very unpleasant for them if they didn’t capitulate. The Japanese signed similar treaties with Britain, France, and Russia.
Ad is circa 1918
As a result of these new trade agreements, Westerners became obsessed with all things Japanese. One of the things that intrigued Westerners the most were the bathing habits of the Japanese. At a time when folks in the U.S. were setting aside a few moments on a Saturday to scrub themselves clean of a week’s accumulation of grime, the Japanese were bathing daily and, rumor had it, frequently more than once each day!
The West, specifically the Caucasian West, felt that they were morally superior to nearly everyone else on the planet. How alarming it must have been for them to reflect on “Cleanliness is next to godliness” – and realize that they’d fallen way behind the Japanese in honoring that virtue.
Companies such as Pear’s in the U.K., and Kirk’s in the U.S. jumped on the cleanliness bandwagon. Instead of homemade soap used for everything from cleaning the day’s dishes to washing mom’s hair, personal bars of soap were being marketed with slogans such as “Have you used Pear’s soap today?”
The West’s fascination with Japan wasn’t confined to bathing habits, and it wasn’t an obsession of a few months duration.
Years after the treaties, on March 14, 1885, the Gilbert & Sullivan comic opera “The Mikado” opened in London. It ran at the Savoy Theater for 672 performances! Here’s a video, from the 1999 film “Topsy Turvy” a fictionalized account of the creation of the Mikado.
Many Japanese were understandably ambivalent about the Mikado; however, maybe people were too quick to assume that all Japanese would be offended. When Prince Fushimi Sadanaru made a state visit in 1907, the British government banned performances of The Mikado from London for six weeks, fearing that the play might offend him—a maneuver that backfired when the prince complained that he had hoped to see The Mikado during his stay. A Japanese journalist covering the prince’s stay attended a proscribed performance and confessed himself “deeply and pleasingly disappointed.” Expecting “real insults” to his country, he had found only “bright music and much fun.”
In 1947 General Douglas MacArthur banned a large-scale professional production of Mikado in Tokyo by an all-Japanese cast. I’m surprised that MacArthur was even aware of the proposed production; after all he was busy being in command of the occupation forces, as well as undertaking the democratization of Japan – complete with a ratified Constitution and the enfranchisement of women.
None of this meant much to Iva Ikuko Toguri D’Aquino, or as she would forever become known, Tokyo Rose.
Iva was born in Los Angeles, she was a Girl Scout, a Methodist, and she had graduated from UCLA with a degree in zoology. In other words, Iva was an all-American girl. She left for Japan in July 1941, possibly to care for an ailing relative, or to attend medical school.
Iva had been issued a Certificate of Identification, she didn’t have a passport. In September 1941 she applied to the U.S. Vice Consul in Japan for a passport, but she’d not received an answer by the December 7, 1941 attack by the Japanese on Pearl Harbor. She was stranded in Japan for the duration.
Iva was pressured by the Japanese Central Government to renounce her U.S. citizenship; she refused. She risked her life to provide POWs with food. By 1943 she, and prisoners of war, were coerced into producing radio broadcasts intended to demoralize the U.S. troops. She participated, but would not speak against the United States – and at no time did she refer to herself as Tokyo Rose. The name was a catch all used by U.S. troops to describe all of the women who made the propaganda broadcasts.
Iva was arrested at the end of the war and thoroughly investigated by the FBI. The FBI concluded that: “the evidence then known did not merit prosecution”.
Even so, in 1949 Iva was tried in San Francisco for treason. She was found guilty on one count, that on a certain date in 1944 she “did speak into a microphone concerning the loss of ships.” She was fined $10,000 and given a 10-year prison sentence. Attorney Collins called the verdict “Guilty without evidence”. She was sent to the Federal Reformatory for Women at Alderson, West Virginia. She was paroled after serving six years and two months, and released January 28, 1956.
She was granted a full and unconditional Presidential pardon by Gerald Ford on January 19, 1977, his last full day in office. She passed away on September 26, 2006; she was 90.
This is such a wonderful photo – it is of Raymond Chandler and Dorothy Fisher (nee Gruber). Dorothy worked as his secretary at Paramount Studios in the 1940s. I was fortunate to have met Dorothy, she was an honored guest on a couple of Esotouric’s Chandler tours, and she was a remarkable woman. Because we lived near each other we’d carpool to the departure location for the tour. We’d swap stories in the car on the way. She told me about a dinner date in Malibu with the actor Ray Milland, and she also told me about meeting Billy Wilder. She said that Wilder was a powerfully magnetic man: “he made you feel like you were the only person in the room” she said.
Dorothy passed away in December 2008, and I will be forever grateful for the opportunity to have spent time in her company. She was talented, intelligent, lovely, and a lady through and through. I think of her each time we visit Chandler’s Los Angeles.
So, if you’re a fan of noir, crime fiction, the Los Angeles Athletic Club and/or the best gelato in Los Angeles, this tour is for you! Because we stop at the historic Hollywood restaurant Musso & Frank, by the end of the tour I’m craving a gin gimlet something fierce. Lucky for me Scoops gelato generally offers a few liquor flavored choices (the vanilla/Jim Beam is delightful!)
I hope you’ll join us – especially since July is the month of Chandler’s birth.
I stepped out of the Vintage Powder Room for the month of June. Why? Well, I was establishing VPR on Facebook. When I am doing resarch for the posts for this blog, I frequently find some terrific tidbits that don’t justify an in-depth post, but are simply too wonderful not to share.
I’ve found that Facebook is perfect for the shorter posts, as is Twitter. So, if you have only a few moments to spare for the Vintage Powder Room and want to see some fabulous photos, videos, or items from my collection, look for me on Twitter (vtgpowderroom), or on Facebook (search for Vintage Powder Room). You’ll find links for both by scrolling down this page.
Now it’s time for me to roll up my sleeves and get back to work.