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Hollywood in "The House Of Leyendecker"

7 posts in this topic

SueSueApplegate is doing a bang-up job illustrating style from the leading ladies perspective. All the costume designs and other images she has posted are beautiful pieces of art. But what of the men in Hollywood? It isn't easy to find a presentation of the men of Hollywood that is stylish, interesting and unique. But I am going to try.

 

Around 1910, a male fashion figure debuted in the magazines of America that would become as iconic as "The Gibson Girl" of the previous decade. He would be the visual representation of American Men in the era of Fitzgerald's "The Great Gatsby". He was the Arrow Collar and Shirt Man. And he has a Hollywood legacy.

 

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New York-based artist J. C. Leyendecker was hired by the manufacturer of Arrow Collars and Shirts to provide the advertising artwork for it's line of shirts and detachable shirt collars and cuffs.

 

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(1913)

 

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(1912)

 

Leyendecker also provided illustration art for The House Of Kuppenheimer, a menswear manufacturer and retailer based in Chicago.

 

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His Kuppenheimer artwork was used in advertising, catalogues and store displays.

 

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With these two commissions, Leyendecker created a vision of the American Male that woud last through the 1920s and into the 1930s.

 

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"J.C. Leyendecker's portrayals of handsome, stylishly dressed men remain world-famous symbols of fashionable American manhood. As author Michael Schau noted in his book, J.C. Leyendecker," The characters of F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby come to mind in many Leyendecker pictures of the twenties: well-to-do civilized people with self-confidence reinforced by breeding, education, position, and taste. They were sophisticated but not above gaiety." Leyendecker's Arrow Collar illustrations are celebrated as among the most stylish ever produced."

 

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Many of the young men who would model for Leyendecker were aspiring actors - looking for work not only in New York's "legitimate theater" but at the film studios in nearby Ft. Lee N.J. And in subsequent years, a handful succeeded in their chosen field.

 

 

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Neil Hamilton in *The Mysterious Dr. Fu Manchu* (1931)

 

Neil Hamilton was a Leyendecker model. Hamilton would star in such films as *Beau Geste* (1926), *The Mysterious Dr. Fu Manchu* (1930) and *Tarzan, The Ape Man* (1932). But Hamilton is perhaps best known for his portrayal of "Inspector Gordon" on the 1960s "Batman" television series.

 

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Reed Howes in *Rough House Rosie* (1927)

 

Leyendecker also employed actor Reed Howes for modeling duty. In the movies Howes would co-star with Clara Bow in *Rough House Rosie* (1927) and appear alongside Wallace Beery and Clark Gable in *Hell Divers* (1932). In the 1940s, Howes career would lead him to roles as heavies in crime films and in westerns.

 

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Jack Mulhall in *The Folly Of Vanity* (1924)

 

Leyendecker model and actor Jack Mulhall's film career allowed him to co-star with Alice White in *Show Girl In Hollywood* (1930), Colleen Moore in *Orchids and Ermine* (1927) and Dorothy Mackall in *Just Another Blonde* (1926) among many others. His leading man days ended with the arrival of sound but Mulhall worked continuously through the 1950s.

 

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Brian Donlevy in *The Great McGinty* (1940)

 

Believe it or not, Dan McGinty was an Arrow shirt model also. Brian Donlevy of *Beau Geste* (1939), *The Great McGinty* (1940), *Stand By For Action* (1942) and the "Quatermass" films posed for Leyendecker in the 20s while he was attempting to establish himself on Broadway as did Fredric March, or so it is claimed. I've not been able to confirm that anywhere nor can I find an image that immediately brings to mind March. But I'll keep looking.

 

Each of the men mentioned above appears in artwork images / advertising already posted here. Have you picked them out?

 

Through my online research, I found various headshots of these men from the 1920s and set about trying to match them to Arrow or Kuppenheimer advertisements. Below I have paired these early photos with artwork that I believe they posed for. Donlevy is the only model attributed with any certainty to a particular piece of artwork. And Neil Hamilton's photo is from 1931 while the artwork is from 1924. You'll have to erase a few years to see the likeness. (Well, I see it.) But if you think I am way off base with my attributions, feel free to say so.

 

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Rather than use unknowns, in 1927 The House Of Kuppenheimer employed the famous actors Richard Barthelmess and John Barrymore to promote a new line of suits and outerwear. J. C. Leyendecker created artwork featuring both of these men in "costume" and in their favorite Kuppenheimer attire - all which sold for the princely sum of $50.

 

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Barthelmess Ad, 1927

 

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Barrymore Ad, 1927

 

I wish I could locate more Arrow/Kuppenheimer artwork online featuring Donlevy, Hamilton, et.al. I've tried and made some educated guesses at identities but I wasn't sure enough with any of them to make a public declaration. The few images posted above will have to suffice.

 

Hopefully everyone finds this an interesting alternative POV on style in Hollywood. And maybe a few of you will be new fans of J. C. Leyendecker too.

 

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I don't know if TCM is still looking for a corporate sponsor for the 2012 Film Festival buit if they are, Arrow Shirts may be an interesting company to approach with the idea. Just be sure to ask Arrow to bring the original artwork for these beautiful and iconic ads with them. Supposedly the company still has the pieces. (Same goes for Kuppenheimer - which is now owned by Men's Warehouse.)

 

Kyle In Hollywood

 

Larger sizes of all Leyendecker images can be found here -

 

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Thanks David. I'm glad you enjoyed the post.

 

And I think you'd look fabulous in a nice vintage suit.

 

Kyle In Hollywood

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Kyle, this is a lovely post! All your research and archival skills are definitely appreciated. The posters, biographical information, and details about the models highlight all the expressive artwork in the advertisements. I enjoyed Neil Hamilton's work, and he is probably most well known for his stint as Commission Gordon on episodes of Batman!

 

Thank you so much for such a "stylish" post!

 

I think Arrow shirts would never regret sponsoring the TCM Film Festival 2012!

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*"Kyle, this is a lovely post!"* - SueSue

 

Thank you for saying so. I am glad you found it interesting and ejoyable.

 

I've been a Leyendecker fan for awhile now. But I only recently learned of the "soon-to-be-famous" men he used as models for his artwork. Previously I was focused on the covers he created for The Saturday Evening Post, Collier's and other magazines from 1900 to 1950.

 

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His covers for "Holiday" issues of the Saturday Evening Post are particularly appealing...

 

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...especially the annual "New Year's Baby" covers.

 

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J. C. Leyendecker, the artist with the most covers for the SEP to his credit, was a mentor to Norman Rockwell who followed him as featured "cover artist" at the magazine. And the prolific Rockwell deliberately chose to paint one less cover for the Saturday Evening Post than his friend and mentor had painted. How classy is that?

 

Kyle In Hollywood

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