Back in 1947, when LIFE accompanied 10,000 young men and women to Balboa Beach in Southern California for spring break, the shenanigans wouldn’t have scored any higher than a PG rating. Daylight brought beachside dancing, boat races, beauty pageants and sunbathing. The evening hours found students aglow in the warmth of bonfires as portable radios churned out the tunes of the day.
These fascinating vintage photographs, taken by Peter Stackpole, that show what spring break looked like in Southern California in the 1940s.
(Photos:Peter Stackpole—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)
Around 1900, photographer Horace Warner took a series of portraits of some of the poorest people in London – creating relaxed, intimate images that gave dignity to his subjects and producing great photography that is without comparison in his era.
Previously, only a handful of Warner’s sympathetic portraits of the children who lived in the courtyards off Quaker St – known as the Spitalfields Nippers – were believed to exist, but through some assiduous detective work by researcher Vicky Stewart and a stroke of good luck upon The Gentle Author, they were able to make contact with his grandson who keeps two albums comprising more than one hundred of his grandfather’s pictures of Spitalfields, from which the photographs published here are selected.
This unique collection of pictures revolutionises our view of Londoners at the end of the nineteenth century, by bringing them startlingly close and permitting us to look them in the eye.
Sophia Loren was born as Sofia Scicolone at the Clinica Regina Margherita in Rome, Italy, on September 20, 1934. Her father, Riccardo Scicolone, was married to another woman and refused to marry her mother, Romilda Villani, despite the fact that she was the mother of his two children (Sophia and her younger sister Maria Scicolone). Growing up in the slums of Pozzuoli during the second World War without any support from her father, she experienced much sadness in her childhood. Her life took an unexpected turn for the best when, at age 14, she entered into a beauty contest where she placed as one of the finalists. It was there that Sophia caught the attention of film producer Carlo Ponti, some 22 years her senior, whom she eventually married in 1966 once he finally obtained a divorce from his first wife. Perhaps he was the only father figure she ever had. Under his guidance, Sophia was put under contract and appeared as an extra in ten films beginning in 1950, before working her way up to supporting roles. In these early films, she was credited as “Sofia Lazzaro” because people joked her beauty could raise Lazzarus from the dead.
By her late teens, Sophia was playing lead roles in many Italian features such as La favorita (1952) and Aida (1953). In 1957, she embarked on a successful acting career in the United States, starring in Boy on a Dolphin (1957), Legend of the Lost (1957), and The Pride and the Passion (1957) that year. She had a short-lived but much-publicized fling with co-star Cary Grant, who was 31 years her senior. She was only 22 while he was 53, and she rejected a marriage proposal from him. They were paired together a second time in the family-friendly romantic comedy Houseboat (1958). While under contract to Paramount Pictures, Sophia starred in Desire Under the Elms (1958), The Key (1958), The Black Orchid (1958), It Started in Naples (1960), Heller in Pink Tights (1960), A Breath of Scandal (1960), and The Millionairess (1960) before returning to Italy to star in Two Women (1960). The film was a period piece about a woman living in war-torn Italy who is raped while trying to protect her young daughter. Originally cast as the more glamorous child, Sophia fought against type and was re-cast as the mother, evidencing a lack of vanity and proving herself as a genuine actress. This performance received international acclaim and was honored with an Academy Award for Best Actress.
Sophia remained a bona fide international movie star throughout the sixties and seventies, making films on both sides of the Atlantic, and starring opposite such leading men as Paul Newman, Marlon Brando, Gregory Peck, and Charlton Heston. Her American films included El Cid (1961), The Fall of the Roman Empire (1964), Arabesque (1966), Man of La Mancha (1972), and The Cassandra Crossing (1976). She gained a wider respect with her Italian films, especially Marriage Italian Style (1964) and A Special Day (1977). During these years she received a second Oscar nomination and won five Golden Globe Awards.
From the eighties onward, Sophia’s appearances on the big screen came few and far between. She preferred to spend the majority of her time raising sons Carlo Jr. (b. 1969) and Eduardo (b. 1973). Her only acting credits during the decade were five television films, beginning with Sophia Loren: Her Own Story (1980), a biopic in which she portrayed herself and her mother. She ventured into other areas of business and became the first actress to launch her own fragrance and design of eye wear. In 1982 she voluntarily spent nineteen days in jail for tax evasion.
In 1991 Sophia received an Honorary Academy Award for her body of work, and was declared “one of world cinema’s greatest treasures.” Later that year, she experienced a great loss when her mother died of cancer. Her return to mainstream films in Ready to Wear (1994) (“Ready to Wear”) was well-received, although the film as a whole was not. She followed this up with her biggest U.S. hit in years, the comedy Grumpier Old Men (1995) in which she played a sexy divorcée who seduces Walter Matthau. Over the next decade Sophia had plum roles in a few non-mainstream arthouse films like Soleil (1997), Between Strangers (2002) (directed by Edoardo), and Lives of the Saints (2004). Still beautiful at 72, she posed scantily-clad for the 2007 Pirelli Calendar. Sadly, that same year she mourned the loss of her spouse, Carlo Ponti, who died at age 94. In 2009, after far too much time away from film, she appeared in the musical Nine (2009) opposite Daniel Day-Lewis. These days Sophia is based in Switzerland but frequently travels to Los Angeles to spend time with her sons and their families (Eduardo is married to actress Sasha Alexander). Sophia Loren remains one of the most beloved and recognizable figures in the international film world. Text via IMDb
The Thylacine, also called Tasmanian tiger because of its striped lower back, or the Tasmanian wolf because of its canid-like characteristics, was neither a tiger nor a wolf, but a marsupial, and closely related to the Tasmanian devil.
The last known Tasmanian tiger died in 1936, but hundreds of unconfirmed sightings have spurred investigations into whether the animal still lives. Below are some last known thylacines photographed at Beaumaris Zoo in 1933.
The thylacine was relatively shy and nocturnal, with the general appearance of a medium-to-large-size dog, except for its stiff tail and abdominal pouch similar to a kangaroo, and dark transverse stripes that radiated from the top of its back, reminiscent of a tiger. The thylacine was a formidable apex predator, though exactly how large its prey animals were is disputed. Because of convergent evolution it displayed a form and adaptations similar to the tiger and wolf of the Northern Hemisphere, even though not related. Its closest living relative is either the Tasmanian devil or the numbat. The thylacine was one of only two marsupials to have a pouch in both sexes: the other is water opossum. The pouch of the male thylacine served as a protective sheath covering the external reproductive organs.
Although the thylacine was extinct on mainland Australia, it survived into the 1930s on the island state of Tasmania. At the time of the first European settlement, the heaviest distributions were in the northeast, northwest and north-midland regions of the state. They were rarely sighted during this time but slowly began to be credited with numerous attacks on sheep. This led to the establishment of bounty schemes in an attempt to control their numbers. The Van Diemen’s Land Company introduced bounties on the thylacine from as early as 1830, and between 1888 and 1909 the Tasmanian government paid £1 per head (the equivalent of £100 or more today) for dead adult thylacines and ten shillings for pups. In all they paid out 2,184 bounties, but it is thought that many more thylacines were killed than were claimed for. Its extinction is popularly attributed to these relentless efforts by farmers and bounty hunters.
However, it is likely that multiple factors led to its decline and eventual extinction, including competition with wild dogs introduced by European settlers, erosion of its habitat, the concurrent extinction of prey species, and a distemper-like disease that affected many captive specimens at the time. A study from 2012 also found that were it not for an epidemiological influence, the extinction of thylacine would have been at best prevented, at worst postponed.
Whatever the reason, the animal had become extremely rare in the wild by the late 1920s. Despite the fact that the thylacine was believed by many to be responsible for attacks on sheep, in 1928 the Tasmanian Advisory Committee for Native Fauna recommended a reserve similar to the Savage River National Park to protect any remaining thylacines, with potential sites of suitable habitat including the Arthur-Pieman area of western Tasmania.
The last known thylacine to be killed in the wild was shot in 1930 by Wilf Batty, a farmer from Mawbanna in the state’s northwest. The animal, believed to have been a male, had been seen around Batty’s house for several weeks.
Work in 2012 examined the relationship of the genetic diversity of the thylacines before their extinction. The results indicated that the last of the thylacines in Australia, on top of the threats from dingoes, had limited genetic diversity, due to their complete geographic isolation from mainland Australia. Further investigations in 2017 showed evidence that this decline in genetic diversity started long before the arrival of humans in Australia, possibly starting as early as 70–120 thousand years ago.
The original bad girl of burlesque, and the dancer who popularized the use of live snakes, Zorita was a 1940s glamour girl. Known for her original and raunchy dances, Zorita was recognizable by the blonde streaks she often had in her black hair.
Born Kathryn Boyd in Youngstown, Ohio in 1915, she was adopted by a strict Methodist couple. She was said to be “built to the hilt” for her age, and by the time she was 15 she began working at stag parties and nudist colony events at the San Diego Worlds Fair. Boyd also entered beauty pageants and by the time she was 20 she was turned onto the burlesque world.
Zorita became well known for her unique and naughty acts. In one number she danced in front of a rhinestone spiderweb, while the hands of an unseen spider gradually removed her clothing. Another act was a kinky take on a vaudeville staple – the Half and Half. Taking gender bending to new levels, she dressed one half of her body as a male groom, and the other as a female bride. Always keeping one profile to the audience, the groom and bride gradually removed each others clothing, leading to a climactic “wedding night” romp.
With her exotic fierce looks it is no wonder Zorita became popular, and adding the danger and eroticism of the snakes, the audiences just went wild. She used the movement of the snakes, named Elmer and Oscar, to emphasize her own. In her popular act “The Consummation of the Wedding of the Snake”, she stripped while holding an 8 foot boa constrictor.
What she did with these snakes eventually landed her in trouble. Possibly as an attempt to censor Zorita’s acts, in February 1949 she was arrested by the New York ASPCA claiming she had been cruel to animals. In the above photo she sits in a courtroom with her 10-foot rock python and 20 month old daughter Tawny (who was said to have been put in a drawer while her mother performed in order to keep her safe). The claim was that Zorita had taped the mouths of her snakes before each performance. She was released on $1500 bail, but all her snakes were confiscated.
Although Zorita dated men, and admitted she only spent time with the ones she could use, she was a lesbian and never married. Her unrequited love was fellow performer Sherry Britton, who she pursued relentlessly to no avail.
Retiring from burlesque in 1954, Zorita kept herself busy owning several burlesque clubs in New York and Miami, often passing on tips and tricks. While she taught burlesque routines to others, she refused to tell the secrets of her signature snake stripteases. She quite the scene entirely in 1974, and moved to Florida where she bred Persian cats.
Actress and singer Ann-Margret is one of the most famous sex symbols and actresses of the 1960s and beyond. She continued her career through the following decades and into the 21st century.
Ann-Margret was born Ann-Margret Olsson on April 28, 1941 in Valsjöbyn, Jämtland County, Sweden, to Anna Regina (Aronsson) and Carl Gustav Olsson, who worked for an electrical company. She came to America at age 6. She studied at Northwestern University and left for Las Vegas to pursue a career as a singer.
Ann-Margret was discovered by George Burns and soon afterward got both a record deal at RCA and a film contract at 20th Century Fox. In 1961, her single “I Just Don’t Understand” charted in the Top 20 of the Billboard Hot 100 Charts. Her acting debut followed the same year as Bette Davis’ daughter in Frank Capra’s Pocketful of Miracles (1961). She appeared in the musical State Fair (1962) a year later before her breakthrough in 1963. With Bye Bye Birdie (1963) and Viva Las Vegas (1964) opposite Elvis Presley, she became a Top 10 Box Office star, teen idol and even Golden Globe nominated actress. She was marketed as Hollywood’s hottest young star and in the years to come got awarded the infamous nickname “sex kitten.”
Her following pictures were sometimes ripped apart by critics. She couldn’t escape being typecast because of her great looks. By the late 1960s, her career stalled, and she turned to Italy for new projects. She returned and, by 1970, she was back in the public image with Hollywood films, Las Vegas sing-and-dance shows and her own television specials. She finally overcame her image with her Oscar-nominated turn in Mike Nichols’ Carnal Knowledge (1971) and succeeded in changing her image from sex kitten to respected actress.
A near-fatal accident at a Lake Tahoe show in 1972 only momentarily stopped her career. She was again Oscar-nominated in 1975 for Tommy (1975), the rock opera film of the British rock band The Who. Her career continued with successful films throughout the late 1970s and into the 1980s. She starred next to Anthony Hopkins in Magic (1978) and appeared in pictures co-starring Walter Matthau, Gene Hackman, Glenda Jackson and Roy Scheider. She even appeared in a television remake of Tennessee Williams’s masterpiece play “A Streetcar Named Desire” in 1983. Another late career highlight for her was Grumpy Old Men (1993) as the object of desire for Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau. She continues to act in movies today.
In 1916, photographer Arthur Bondar heard that the family of a Soviet war photographer was selling his negatives. The photographer, Valery Faminsky, had worked for the Soviet Army and kept his negatives from Ukraine and Germany meticulously archived until his death in 2011. Mr. Bondar had seen many books and several exhibits of World War II photography but had never heard of Mr. Faminsky.
He contacted the family, and when he viewed the negatives Mr. Bondar realized that he had stumbled upon an important cache of images of World War II made from the Soviet side. The price the family was asking was high — more than Mr. Bondar could afford as a freelance photographer — but he took the money he had made from a book on Chernobyl and acquired the archive.
“I looked through the negatives and realized I held in my hands a huge piece of history that was mostly unknown to ordinary people, even citizens of the former U.S.S.R.,” he told The New York Times. “We had so much propaganda from the World War II period, but here I saw an intimate look by Faminsky. He was purely interested in the people from both sides of the World War II barricades.”
Most of the best-known Soviet images from the war were used as propaganda, to glorify the victories of the Red Army. Often they were staged. Mr. Faminsky’s images are for the most part unvarnished and do not glorify war but focused on the human cost and “the real life of ordinary soldiers and people.”
(Photos: Valery Faminsky/Courtesy of Arthur Bondar, via The New York Times)
Born 1922 in Grabtown, North Carolina, American actress and singer Ava Gardner was signed to a contract with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in 1941, and appeared mainly in small roles until she drew attention with her performance in The Killers (1946).
Gardner appeared in several high-profile films from the 1940s to 1970s, including The Hucksters (1947), Show Boat (1951), Pandora and the Flying Dutchman (1951), The Snows of Kilimanjaro (1952), The Barefoot Contessa (1954), Bhowani Junction (1956), On the Beach (1959), 55 Days at Peking (1963), Seven Days in May (1964), The Night of the Iguana (1964), The Bible: In the Beginning… (1966), The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean (1972), Earthquake (1974), and The Cassandra Crossing (1976).
Gardner was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress for her work in Mogambo (1953), and also received BAFTA Award and Golden Globe Award nominations for other films. She continued to act regularly until 1986, four years before her death in London in 1990, at the age of 67.
Ava Gardner is listed 25th among the American Film Institute’s 25 Greatest Female Stars of Classic Hollywood Cinema.
Take a look at these stunning photos to see glamorous beauty of Ava Gardner in the 1940s and 1950s.
The history of the Army Nurse Corps (ANC) in Vietnam began in April, 1956 when three Army nurses arrived in Saigon, Republic of Vietnam. These nurses were on temporary duty assignments attached to the United States Army Medical Training Team, United States Military Assistance Advisory Group (MAAG), Saigon. The Army sent them to train South Vietnamese nurses in nursing care procedures and techniques, not care for U.S. servicemen.
Instead, the American Embassy Dispensary in Saigon provided care for the American Community and the MAAG advisers. By 1959, however, that facility could no longer meet its mounting requirements. Medical and dental personnel of the U.S. Army, Navy and Air Force augmented a team redesignated as the American Dispensary, Saigon. This tri-service staffing arrangement, including two Army Nurse Corps officers, continued for the next three years.
The expansion of the war in the Republic of Vietnam placed greater burdens on the Army Nurse Corps. Over 11 years from March, 1962 (when the 8th Field Hospital opened in Nha Trang) to March, 1973 (when the last Army nurses departed the Republic of Vietnam), more than 5,000 Army nurses served in America’s longest war.
The buildup in Vietnam taxed the Corps. Army nurses had to provide full peacetime nursing services in the continental United States and Europe yet simultaneously meet the far different requirements of combat forces fighting in Southeast Asia. In January, 1965 the Army had 113 hospital beds and 15 nurses in Vietnam. The buildup of medical units was completed in 1968 and included 11 Reserve and National Guard medical units. By December 1968, 900 nurses in Vietnam worked in 23 Army hospitals, and one convalescent center with a total of 5,283 beds.
Army nurses volunteered for duty in Vietnam for a variety of reasons. Many felt it was their patriotic duty; others thought of Vietnam as an adventure. One nurse veteran remarked: “We aren’t angels, We are simply members of the nursing profession who have seen the need in Vietnam and are here to do our part.” Another said: “I wanted to be an army nurse and combat is where the soldier is. That’s where I wanted to be.” And a third: “My reason for going was that there were American troops there that needed help. They needed the things that I could give them in my nursing profession.”
Born 1913, Dutch photojournalist Ben van Meerendonk worked at the General Dutch Photo Press Office of Sem Presser in the late 1930s, but was prohibited from practicing his profession during the Second World War. In 1945, he founded the Algemeen Hollands Fotopersbureau (AHF).
Van Meerendonk mainly photographed in the forties, fifties and sixties, and delivered via his AHF to the newspapers De Telegraaf, De Tijd, De Waarheid, Het Parool, Het Vrije Volk and Trouw.
As a press photographer Van Meerendonk specialized in daily life, the Royal House, and international stars. He won the Silver Camera in 1950, 1958 and 1966, and in 1966 the first prize in the category Photo Stories of World Press Photo with a photograph of the rehearsal for the wedding of Beatrix and Claus.
In 1988 he was awarded the Golden Pin of Amsterdam. On the Haveneiland of the Amsterdam district of IJburg a street was named after him in 2006.
Van Meerendonk died in 2008, at the age of 94. His photo archive of more than 70 thousand photos has been housed at the International Institute of Social History (IISH) since 1990.
These amazing photos from IISG were taken by Ben van Meerendonk that show everyday life of Amsterdam from 1946 to 1949, few years just after the Second World War.
Born 1946 in Hove, England, British actress Alexandra Bastedo made her film debut as one of the title characters in 13 Frightened Girls (1963). She received notice on the European continent, earning her the nickname, “La Bastedo”.
Bastedo was most familiar to viewers of 1960s TV, and best known for her role as secret agent Sharron Macready in the 1968 British espionage/science fiction adventure series The Champions. She has been cited as a sex symbol of the 1960s and 1970s.
Bastedo was also known for her multilingual skills, speaking Italian, Spanish, French and German. This skill brought her to the attention of 10 Downing Street to assist with translations and landed her the role of co-presenter of Miss World competitions with Peter Marshall in the 1980s.
Bastedo was a vegetarian and animal welfare advocate, and authored a number of books on both subjects. She died from cancer in 2014 aged 67 in hospital in Worthing, England.
Take a look at these glamorous photos to see the beauty of Alexandra Bastedo in the 1960s and ’70s.