Posts Tagged ‘1972’

Post-Holiday Pick-Up: Miss December 1972, Mercy Rooney (yee haw)

December 26, 2009

Miss November 1972 was “Lenna,” whose cropped centerfold, as you may recall, is just about one of the most famous pictures in the graphics design world. So you’d think Miss December would have a tough act to follow, and she might pale in comparison, right?

Here to prove you wrong is the lovely and talented Mercy Rooney (aka Merci Montello, aka Mercy Mee), a B-movie actress and rodeo queen who at 22 had already roped and released Mickey Rooney, Jr., the oldest son of Hollywood legend Mickey Rooney.

Photographed by Alexas Urba.

“Most people think of rodeo as man conquering beast — men riding bulls, roping calves, that kind of thing. That’s not it at all. Rodeo is actually man conquering his own body, being able to control it and make it work the way he wants it to. The real pros are very disciplined people; with discipline comes skill, and that’s what makes the whole thing a treat for fans. Riding rodeo is a beautiful, graceful art when a person’s really good at it.” (“Mercy, Mercy!” Playboy, December 1972)

“I liked being right down there with the dirt kicked in the air, flying in your face, and the animals lunging so close that you have to jump for a fence to get out of their way.”

Asked about the reaction when she appeared on the scene, Mahan says, “I recollect hearing quite a few ‘Good God A’mightys!’ And one of my friends said to me, ‘We gotta get her out of here. I can’t concentrate on my horse.'”

When she isn’t distracting rodeo performers, Mercy lives a busy life in Los Angeles, following a schedule that divides time between Bunnying at the L.A. Club and returning to an acting career that she had pursued after high school, then capriciously dropped for a couple of years. “I’m back in acting school and working hard at it. I guess I quit before because I just had too many things going.”

One of those “things” she “had going” was a marriage to Mickey Rooney, Jr. I cannot for the life of me find out the dates on that (I do not feel like doing a public records search for the sake of one simple blog entry), but I know that by 1986 he had married his second wife, Laura, with whom he now travels the country as a born-again Christian preacher. He gives lectures on the dangers of “Life in the Fast Lane.”

That is one ride I am glad she was not down to take, or we would never have this nature-themed, awesome Playboy spread. God made us naked and Jesus preached tolerance, Mr. Rooney. Duh. These days, Ms. Montello/Mee/Rooney has faded in to almost total obscurity which my cursory search of the internet cannot seem to uncloud. If you have info, shoot it my way, cause I love me some crazy eyes!

NSFW November: Miss November 1972, Lena Sjööblom, “The First Lady of the Internet”

November 12, 2009

Before Cindy Margolis or Tila Tequila, there was the lovely and talented Lena Söderberg, nee Sjööblom, Playboy’s Miss November 1972.

Photographed by Dwight Hooker.

In the early days of the internet and the design of graphical interface, a cropped version of Miss Sjööblom’s centerfold, famously known as “Lenna,” was the standard test image by which graphic designers measured and compared advances in color, transitions, uniform regions, and sharp edges.

In the early Seventies, an unknown researcher at the University of Southern California working on compression technologies scanned in the image of Lena’s centerfold. Since that time, images of the Playmate have been used as the industry standard for testing ways in which pictures can be manipulated and transmitted electronically.

Over the past 25 years, no image has been more important in the history of imaging and electronic communications, and today the mysterious Lena is considered the First Lady of the Internet (“The Search For Lena: Discovering one Playmate’s role in the history of the Internet,” Playboy Enterprises, 1997).

“The use of her photo is clearly one of the most important events in the history of electronic imaging,” [President of the Society for Imaging Science and Technology Jeff] Seideman said. Image compression is what has made the World Wide Web the wildly popular communications medium it is today.

Seideman adds that he is working with Playboy’s archivist to re-scan Lena’s image and compile all the missing information, including everything from the type of photo emulsion used to make the print to the technical specifications of the scanner.

In this way, Seideman says, the image of this Playboy Playmate can remain the standard reference image for comparing compression technologies into the 21st century.

This is Lena Söderberg these days, pictured with the loveable dork who tracked her down for his imaging conference.

Lena has said that she finds her celebrity status amusing and has made no move to cash in on whatever cache might be got from it. She is content to keep her job working with the handicapped for the government in Stockholm, Sweden and living with her retired husband. Sometimes good things happen to perfectly normal people: what a welcome respite from the would-be reality stars and Paris Hilton wannabes choking up our malls and bars and television sets, desperately clawing at one another for a shot at even thirty seconds of fame. All’s well that ends well!