A few weeks ago we ran a  blog about World War II movies.  It reminded us about the famous pin ups of that era. There was Betty Grable, of course, the 20th Century Fox star who set the standard. (Scroll down and check out her picture on a previous blog.)  Throw Lana Turner and Rita Hayworth in the mix, and you have a pretty representative sampling of the top tier wartime pinups.

Today we expand the field a bit with these photos of two Forties stars perhaps not immediately identified now as period pinups.

Hello Everybody.  Joe Morella and  Frank Segers here again with some additional less-than-lascivious pinup photos.

Pictured at the top is Veronica Lake, the daughter of a German-Danish seaman (she was born Constance Ockelman in Brooklyn in 1919) and a veteran of beauty contests in her youth.  She made her 1939 picture debut under the name of Constance Keane at RKO, but later changed her name at Paramount.

Critic-author David Thomson aptly describes Lake as “petite, silky and hiding behind a half curtain of her own blond hair, she was a face in the dreams of American soldiers.” Her photo above perfectly conveys the essential girl-next-door innocence of the WW II pinup, sexy but not too sexy and completely attainable. By today’s standards this Lake photo could appropriately adorn a swimsuit catalog from a national department store.

Lake’s career included notable appearances in at least four memorable films including director-writer Preston Sturges’ “Sullivan’s Travels” of 1941, and the 1946 film noir classic “The Blue Dahlia,” which paired her with frequent leading man, Alan Ladd. But after her movie career went south post WW II, she declared bankruptcy, and was years later found working as a Manhattan restaurant hostess. A mid-Sixties comeback also fizzled, and Lake died at 54 of hepatitus in 1973.

The photo beneath Lake’s shows a pinup with a bit of bite, Ann Sheridan. Whereas Lake appears amused by — and detached from — her posing act, Sheridan comes across as a woman who means business.

And dig that hair style.  Wow!  No wonder Ann was widely publicized by Warner Brothers as the wartime sex symbol known as the “Oomph Girl.”

Born Clara Lou Sheridan in Texas in 1915, she was a tomboy as a girl, and trained as a teacher before a beauty contest win, which came with a screen test at Paramount, intervened. (She made her movie debut at the studio with 1934’s “Search For Beauty.”)

Sheridan was far more than a sex symbol, as worthy as that is. She was an actress of amazing versatility costarring in hard boiled crime dramas (check her out in director Raoul Walsh’s “They Drive By Night” opposite Bogart and George Raft) as well musicals and “womens’ pictures”.  She played a sassy secretary in 1941’s “Honeymoon For Three” opposite dapper George Brent (Bette Davis’ favorite leading man and one-time lover). Whatever Brent had Sheridan liked since the two married in 1942 (it lasted a year).

Sheridan’s career extended into the late Fifties, about a decade before her death from cancer at age 51 in 1967.

The two above shots were considered racy photos before Marilyn Monroe’s naked-as-a-jaybird calendar shot, and the blowsy-haired eroticism of Farrah Fawcett, whose many pinups were parleyed into giant money-makers.

But these two mid-Forties belles are great expressions of a period in which pinups were of “tastefully” sexy but still attainable women.  We salute Veronica Lake and Ann Sheridan — our two “Oomph Girls.”

 

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