Let’s Read Modern Screen, April 1955!

Modern Screen, founded in 1930, was a major work of the fan magazine wave that could make or break a burgeoning movie star’s popularity. Tributes to the magazine and its major market rival Photoplay were common sights in classic movies, such as the movie shorthand that a young woman reading Modern Screen would indicate that she was a little shallow and a big daydreamer. Eventually the market for Hollywood fan magazines gave way to more celebrity-focused tabloids like People and Star in the 70s, and Modern Screen ceased publication in 1985.

Kinda weird to see a cover line about Marilyn Monroe without her photo dominating the front, right? No offense to Anne Blyth, who I’m sure was…in movies? 1955 was a very different world.

“I love the way that Camay feels on my skin, as I wash away the slithery touch of the lizard man that I’m about to marry.”

It is truly amazing how striking a model can look when she isn’t pin curled and hair sprayed and lacquer-lipsticked into a mannequin. Take a sec to think about how in today’s fashion she just looks like an everyday person, but in 1955 this was the “I just fell out of bed and I’m blearily brushing my teeth” look.

I like a nice and straightforward table of contents that doesn’t get coy with who’s being profiled, so that I can skip straight to the real talk, which is judging Debbie Reynold’s guacamole recipe.

“Hit The Deck” gets a lot of promotional attention in this issue. Wikipedia makes a note that “Because of a scandalous love affair between Jane Powell and actor Gene Nelson, it was widely rumored that Powell would be replaced for the film.” Oh, that Jane!

Is it just me, or does this musical look like it’s four hours long (and partially set in Hell)? Sources say that it only made back half its budget. Can’t imagine why. Debbie Reynolds and Tony Martin are sure cute, though. I love that Kay Armen is introduced like the new hot thing, but she’s wearing the most marmsy dress ever made and singing a warbly old lady song.

So deliciously bitchy!

Sheree North was a D-list actress who was groomed/studio manufactured to be a rival for Marilyn Monroe. That clearly didn’t happen. Her whole story of a permanently stalled career in the shadow of another and very troubled actress is just sad. She got to play Marilyn Monroe’s mother in a 1980 made for TV movie – I can’t imagine she was thrilled about that.

That Kotex ad is…an adventure. I would love to get my mitts on a copy of “You’re a Young Lady Now”, though.

On the other hand, this movie looks AWESOME:

Mario and Enrico…each wanting me, each hoping I would go to his table…Mario had always told me I’d never make it. Mario had struck me – and I hadn’t forgotten. Enrico had wanted to buy me, and now I could make him suffer. Humiliate him, like he had humiliated me. – Beat THAT, Ann Miller!

Work it, grandma of Giada De Laurentiis!

The marriage lasted a year.

It’s a bummer that they didn’t last either, because that is one adorable wedding picture. The headline goes that the wedding was “very small – but unusual”, because she carried a single rose. Then again, they put all their effort into an eight-foot wedding cake topped with Dragnet figurines and Jack spent half the wedding day hanging out with random teenage girls, so maybe there were some flags there that this wasn’t going to work out.


I presume that you’ve had to watch this movie in an English class before, but this is one helluva trailer.

My memories of this movie are dim, being that I haven’t watched it since seventh grade, but all I really remember is that James Dean’s character was kind of a flaming hot mess who flailed his arms at everyone like a windmill, and this is only confirming that.

“Well, with all due respect I don’t believe that Mrs. Henderson is suited for the board of directors when her priorities are clearly elsewhere!”
Man in background: *sips coffee*

Is it the pills or the unsustainable standard put to women in 1955? It’s VIV!

Oh, that heart-stealing ladykiller Liberace! What lucky girl will finally tame the womanizing ways of Hollywood’s Number One Bachelor!

“Now when I entertain fantasies of crushing my man’s neck, my dishwater-soaked hands are soft and pleasingly fragrant!”

There are a bunch of these celebrity profiles that I didn’t have time to really capture in depth, but the photography is really fun.

Brief research on Susan Hayward’s boys didn’t turn up much besides this horrifying 1980 article from People about the making of The Conqueror , which the kids were on set for — and in addition to being certain that the notorious radioactive fallout conditions contributed to the death of their mother, Tim Barker mentions that he had to have a tumor removed from his mouth at the age of 24. Yeeaaah.

Clark Gable and Kay Spreckles were married like two months after this came out.


Mitzi and Jack were married for 52 years!


I feel like this fake-subversive story of Marilyn being way smarter than the characters she played was so bog-standard and done to death that, had she lived a little longer, she’d inevitably had made a movie just called THE DUMB BLONDE as a cash-in. And then she’d never run out of articles written about her that condescendingly go on endlessly about how, guess what, she actually wasn’t the moron that people bought movie tickets to see.



Sorry, Ann, but your vacant eyes frighten me.

Ann and Dr. Jim were married for 54 years!

Aw, Jackie Gleason, why are you so sad? Look at how much money you have! Sheesh.


We last talked to Debbie in 1962, so let’s see what she was up to a little ways before that. Oh, she’s about to marry Eddie. Excellent. BUT CAN SHE COOK?


Both Deb and Ed are “mad about beans”, apparently. Who the hell puts vinegar in guacamole? DEBBIE I AM JUDGING YOU – HARSHLY.

Will this crazy mixed up couple of a Philadelphia Jew and a Texas Rose last? Can she make borscht AND albondigas? Their shared addiction to beans will keep them together forever! Also: “Deb is also studying frozen food”

Sorry Gloria. You did deserve better. At least you got to be immortalized singing one of the cringiest songs in the history of Rogers and Hammerstein?

Marla English’s lasting legacy was starring in The She-Creature, which was of course lampooned by MST3K forty years later.

“Looook into my oily T-zone!”

Why yes, that dog IS wearing diamond earrings.

It took me a second to realize that “Scads of Lastex” referred to the abundance of material used in the bra. I figured that all the millionairesses went to Scads of Lastex for their foundation garment needs because Frederick’s of Hollywood was too vulgar.

Hella cute!

Prices for this era are about 10% inflated, so a $17 dress is the equivalent of about $170 today. Not much different from what you’d pay for a dress at Banana Republic.

Mitzi Gaynor approves of this shoe because when she’s hopped up on speed pills she talks into it like a phone.

“I just can’t get used to reading about how our marriage is going to pot.”


“Packed in a doll-size box for life-size dolls”

The photographer of this ad was a popular fashion photographer who went on to shoot the cover for Alice Cooper’s Love It To Death album. Which feels like a natural progression, because this ad is a horror show.

It’s like those THINX panties, but probably way less effective! I imagine they made you feel like you were walking with a pool floatie between your legs.

Yay censorship!

I love old Midol ads…so much.

This is just a lotion that’s still sold today and *probably* didn’t have any amphetamines in it, but god is there anything more instantly sinister than a product called “Mother’s Friend”?

Now you know…the rest of the story.

Is losing all your friends because you’re hooked into a depressing dress-selling pyramid scheme a really good use of your time?

The “depraved opium den” posing here is really key.

Thanks for reading! Next time we’ll look at Petticoat, a British ladies magazine, from April 1972!