Old Hollywood Kitchen: Mary Carlisle

In my quest to build culinary skills via vintage recipes, I have found a new ally: What Actors Eat When They Eat, compiled by actors Rex Lease and Kenneth Harlan and published in 1939.

A more substantial volume than Favorite Recipes of the Movie Stars, I've been overwhelmed when trying to pick out test recipes. Several hearty soups, chilis, sauces, and rice dishes up for contention. Thankfully I found relief in a simple beverage recipe from Mary Carlisle, who is still going strong at the age of 104(!).

Mary Carlisle's Cafe Froid (serves 2)

1 cup cold coffee
3 tablespoons ice cream (no flavor specified- I used French vanilla)
Ginger ale (one 7.5 oz. can was sufficient for two servings)

Mix the cold coffee and ice cream in a bowl (better if you let the ice cream soften a bit) using either a whisk or a hand mixer, which creates a frothier texture. Pour the mixture into glasses and top off with the ginger ale.

At first I was wary of the ginger ale/coffee combination; it's unusual but surprisingly refreshing. I'll give it another try in the warmer weather as a pick-me-up. 

Plenty of recipes to choose from for my next test, but until then, why not raise a Cafe Froid toast to Mary Carlisle and enjoy 1935's One Frightened Night, a fun "spooky house" film in the vein of the previously-recommended The Cat and the Canary. Mary is a highlight even among a solid supporting cast, and the film is readily available online as it is in the public domain. 


Ein autogramm?

A short time ago I acquired this lovely photo postcard of Edith Meinhard:

Advertised as an autographed photo, it was likely taken between 1937 and 1940 in the midst of some of her most prominent film roles. However, prolonged inspection of the "autograph" along the left margin reveals that it is anything but. The scale of the writing, the placement and the unusual penmanship (a cursive H written as an F?) just don't add up. Compare this to her actual autograph:

I purchased the photo knowing that it wasn't inscribed with an autograph, but it's still a great, rare image, and a fine addition to a slowly growing collection.

As a bonus, the Anny Ondra/Max Schmeling vehicle Knock Out- Ein junges M├Ądchen, ein junger Mann is now available to stream in full on Archive.org! Edith only appears in the first 25 minutes of the film, playing catty showgirl Melitta; though one of her many small roles, she makes it memorable.

She's got the look.


Old Hollywood Kitchen: Laura La Plante

One of my goals for the new year (and beyond) is to build my cooking and baking skills and be more confident in the kitchen. What better way to experiment than to bring in my love of classic film? There are many fine websites that explore celebrity recipes, but as a relatively inexperienced cook, intimidation has kept me from trying them out myself. Until now.

Perusing my stack of cookbooks, only one stood out: a well-preserved copy of Favorite Recipes of the Movie Stars, published by Tower Books in 1931. It's a slim volume, but varied in the types of recipes it offers, from light sandwiches to stews, breakfast to dessert. I figured the easiest way to take the plunge was to test a recipe with no actual cooking involved.

The charming Laura La Plante offers her Favorite Salad, an ambrosia-like creation that she recommends serving in lettuce cups along with crackers or cheese straws. The challenge with this recipe was determining the proper proportions of ingredients. How many ounces was a can of pineapple back then? A box of marshmallows? Is 1/2 pint of cream enough? Here is the recipe as I made it, with noted modifications:

Laura La Plante's Favorite Salad (updated)

1 20 oz. can crushed pineapple, drained
1 10 oz. bag mini marshmallows (I used about half of the bag)
1/2 pint whipping cream
Crisp lettuce leaves
Small crackers or cheese straws (optional)
Mayonnaise (I omitted- the heavy cream was sufficient)
Dash of paprika

Even with my changes I followed the recipe as written, and it turned out pretty well! I had hoped to find the fruit-flavored mini marshmallows to add more color, but no luck. The next time I make this recipe I might even incorporate more fruit, like maraschino cherries. As a thank-you to Ms. La Plante I'd like to recommend one of her films: the spooky, fun silent The Cat and the Canary, wonderfully restored by Kino Lorber.

(Edit: I have since made this salad with just the crushed pineapple, whipped cream and fruit-flavored marshmallows, to great success! Lighter than your standard ambrosia salad without cloying sweetness. It's like eating a pastel Art Deco cloud, if that makes any sense.)

Are you interested in making this or other film star recipes? Do you have a tried and true favorite? Feel free to share in the comments, and enjoy!


The more Glenda, the merrier.

In continued celebration of the lovely Glenda Farrell's birthday (June 30), what better time to share more wonderful portraits?

Promotional portrait for The Secret Bride (the snipe refers to the working title of Concealment).

Swathed in stripes. Portrait by Elmer Fryer.

"Glenda Farrell, star of the films, is shown here in her latest gown for formal evening wear. It is a tuxedo suit of claret colored satin. Her tailored blouse is flesh marquisette with tiny pleated cuffs and a bow tie at the neckline. Her poke bonnet hat has a starched veil of the same shade as her suit."

"Glenda's Weakness is Black and White. Glenda Farrell, star of the shadow drama, can't resist costumes which feature the ever popular black and white motif, and in this one she found a really unique adaptation of the blending. Her dress is of black woolen cloth and the lapels, hat and high gauntlet gloves are of leather."

Promotional portrait for The Keyhole. A fantastic animal print combination that looks...
...quite familiar! Still from The Mystery of the Wax Museum.


In the cards.

While Edith Meinhard may not have been a superstar in her heyday, she did have fans who sought out her autograph, received substantial press for even minor roles, and was popular enough to be included on collectible cigarette cards. 

Borg cigarette card, ca. 1932.

Macedonia cigarette card, early 1930s. Love the hat!

These are the only two cards currently in my collection, but there is at least a third card that has been produced (number 18 in the linked Aurelia series). For anyone who may be interested, Edith's card from the Macedonia series is available for purchase on eBay (number 42 in the pulldown menu) as of the date of this post. I'm curious to learn more about the photographer behind these images, Yva. What a fascinating (though ultimately tragic) life and career.


Glad tidings.

Warmest wishes to all this holiday season! A new job (among other things) has kept me busy, but I wanted to take the time to spread some joy and cheer, this time in the form of the wonderfully hardboiled Glenda Farrell. She's become a perennial favorite and my go-to for comic relief, and she could do it in style...

Promotional portrait for Man's Castle. "The dress has a definite [bateau] neckline with a border of galyak that emphasizes the shoulders. The sleeves are modified leg-o-mutton and the belt is black suede. An unusual belt clasp has a very cute holder for a red lipstick in the center. A red pin is fastened in the black galyak trimming. Black purse, black kid shoes, black galyak hat and cream suede gloves are used with the dress."

Promotional portrait for Go Into Your Dance.

The first Glenda Farrell photo I ever purchased, featuring a dress worn in Havana Widows. I adore the beaded starburst design.

Promotional portrait for Man's Castle. "This swagger suit is fashioned of rough grey wool alternately striped in black and white and trimmed with a broad mannish collar of black Persian lamb fur. In this photograph the broad shoulders are stressed, proving once again that Hollywood creates its own fashion decrees. Miss Farrell has chosen a grey cloth hat fashioned of the same plain material as the skirt of her suit. Her other accessories for wear with this outfit are of black, resulting in an effective blend of gray, black and white."

Promotional portrait for The Big Shakedown. "Her fall street frock is of brown crepe trimmed with stitched white crepe, and the matching hat is created along the new Chinese trend, with a pointed peak. Orry-Kelly designed them."


Second dance.

Edith Meinhard is best known for her Weimar-era work, most notably 1929's Tagebuch einer Verlorenen (Diary of a Lost Girl), but she also held status as a featured player with major German film studio UFA in the late 1930s. Unlike the few UFA projects she completed earlier in the decade (such as 1931's Voruntersuchung), these roles were relatively minor, but she received substantial press just the same.

               Top photo, Edith is on the top left. Bottom photo, Edith is second from right (the "3"). Photo credit.

A lovely, lucky recent find.

Another acquisition, a promotional photo for 1939's Hallo Janine!