Posts Tagged ‘pocket rocket’

Girls of Summer: Linné Nanette Ahlstrand, Miss July 1958

July 11, 2010


Photographed by Frank Bez.

From her name and slyly amused, distinctly un-cheesecakey pose and expressions, I figured that the lovely and talented Linné Nanette Ahlstrand would be that rare beast, the international Playmate.


I love nearly all of the shots in this pictorial, but this one here is tippy toppy favorite.

Color me all wrong. Ms. Ahlstrand was actually born in Chicago, Illinois, the hometown of Playboy and a city from which a substantial number of early and heyday Playmates hailed. The text which accompanied Ms. Ahlstrand’s pictorial alluded to having discovered her on the beach in Los Angeles but it is rich with malarkey and does not even bother to feature an interview with her, so I have my doubts.

The title of her write-up was “The Laziest Girl in Town,” which also lead me to expect to find her of some German or Swedish extraction. The title comes from the song “The Laziest Gal in Town” a Cole Porter tune, which was a longtime staple of Marlene Dietrich’s performing repertoire.


Adore the color in this shot — bathing suit, lips, parasol. (kissy-finger-pop gesture) Amazing.

Ms. Dietrich was a famously German-American international treasure who kept on ticking unlike her early celebrity companions such as Joan Crawford and the great Garbo and she had begun to tour live around this time (1958) in addition to continuing to appear in movies.

As an example, she made her biggest pictures after age 35, something like an early model of Meryl Streep. Witness for the Prosecution, Judgment at Nuremberg, and Alfred Hitchcock’s Stage Fright were all made when Marlene was over 40 years old. That is nothing to sneeze at. I have an album on which she sings “The Laziest Girl in Town” and she still has such a wonderful husky strong accent that it sounds like “lay-zeh-est gell een tone.” Love it.

With that in mind, I figured they were establishing with the title of Ms. Ahlstrand’s article a link to Marlene and particularly one of her former screen characters to parallel Ms. Ahlstrand bieng of foreign extraction and languishing in the Western sun. See, Dietrich played diverse roles in her youngest years under Josef von Sternberg but became indelibly known by larger and more modern audiences for portraying a sexy bargirl in the Old West named Frenchy — despite her outrageously strong German accent — in the sweeping frontier film Destry Rides Again (George Marshall, 1939).

The posters for the film claimed that it had “Corralled the greatest cast in cinema history!” Dietrich’s career-making part in Destry Rides Again was parodied by Madeline Kahn, departed queen of all that’s wonderful, in the 1974 Mel Brooks satire Blazing Saddles as the saloon singer Lili Von Schtupp (R.I.P., MK).

Of course all this conjecture came to nothing, like I said, when I realized that Ms. Ahlstrand was from Chicago and not of any exotic blonde overseas extraction. She moved from Chicago to New York to pursue modeling when she was younger, then out to L.A. and environs to dig in to acting in film and television.

Though Linné was best known by audiences for her work in television as a dispatcher on the program Highway Rescue, she was also in several films throughout the late 50’s and early 60’s, including Senior Prom, Beast from Haunted Cave, and Holiday for Lovers. Her most substantial big screen role was in Herschell Gordon Lewis’s Living Venus, in which she played Diane.

Unlike the gory funfests for which Lewis later became known, Living Venus is more of a biopic. Related to this post, the subject of Living Venus‘s rise-and-fall story is a publisher very much like Hugh Hefner. Jack Norwall, the fictionalized Hef played by Bill Kerwin, starts a magazine called Pagan.

Pagan’s success leads him to leave his loving fiancee and take up with his lovely and talented model, a waitress he discovered while hatching the idea for the magazine. Ms. Ahlstrand does not play the model, but rather the jilted good girl. The model ends up leaving him and killing herself as he becomes increasingly arrogant and tyrannical due to his success, and Norwall comes to realize that being on top was not all he cracked it up to be. But too late, as he has lost for good his fiancee, best friend, and soul.

I’d like to point out that in my opinion the only part of Living Venus that really parallels Hef is Jack Norwall starting a successful nudie mag. Hef did not leave his wife for another woman; quite the opposite actually. So, no.

A little looker, Ms. Ahlstrand was 5’2″ at the time of her appearance in Playboy, which I believe puts her on an equal footing with Kai Brendlinger (bleah) for shortest Playmate until feisty pocket rocket Joni Mattis’s famously not-nude appearance (love her forever) and eventual eclipsement by Sue Williams who at 4’11” at the time of her appearance in 1965 is the pocketiest rocket of them all, aww — that we know of. It’s tough to say for sure because, prior to September of 1959, the Playmates were not required to complete a data sheet. So unless their height came up in the article or their contemporaneous stats appeared in parallel work elsewhere, the math is fuzzy.

Click below for scans of the original article.

Tragically Ms. Ahlstrand died of cancer in January of 1967. She was only 30 years old and had been married less than a year and a half. R.I.P. to such a young talent.

The Girls of Summer: Kelly Burke, Miss July 1966

June 25, 2010


Photographed by William Figge.

Kelly prefers making most of her natatorial plunges in the neighbors’ back-yard pool. “Besides the pool, they own two darling dogs,” she explains. “One’s a $700 pedigreed toy poodle named Suzie; the other’s a mongrel puppy that they rescued from the local dog pound for only five dollars. He’s named Toy Tiger and, needless to say, I’m in love with the mutt.”

(“Freckle-Face.” Playboy, June 1966.)

Good choice!

I’m an across-the-board mutt guy from Way Back: dogs, cats — men. Actually, I think I’m genuinely allergic to so-called “well-bred” dudes without debt. I’ve tried to date them and their leather car coats and confident wine-awareness makes my skin crawl. On the other hand, if you got a busted grill and drive a ’92 Honda Prelude with one broken headlight that won’t raise, know the difference between a single- and a double-wide, and front a ZZ Top cover band? I’m all yours.

Actual example: my friend J-Mys once tried to set me up on a double date with her and her boyfriend and a mortgage broker Senor R knew from Morgan Stanley Dean Witter Polly Wolly Doodle All Day. J-Mys and Senor R cut out early and I was stuck with the mortgage broker, who was clearly not in to me either but was still talking some kind of folklore about variable rates and baloney sauce that I was not at all listening to because I was watching Clue in my head due to my crushing boredom, when I got up to get another pint of beer.

At the bar, this guy in a very dated No Fear t-shirt and battered, unironic John Deere ballcap saw I had actual folding money and asked me for change for the jukebox. We picked out a couple songs — I believe we went with Tom Waits, the Beatles, and “Thriller,” for novelty shits and giggles — and I told the boring mortgage broker that I was planning on going to the bathroom and going home.

I insisted we split the bill because I felt a few compunctions of guilt for wasting the early part of his Friday evening, even if I had in no way lead him to think the night had any kind of sexytimes in its future. Then I made sure the broker actually left, slipped out of the bathroom, and bullshitted with the ballcap guy on the porch about Quantum Leap and camping ’til my beer was done. Went home much happier than I’d been an hour earlier. Sneaky I guess but so much better.

As for the rest of the purple prose in that excerpt, I got hung up on “natatorial.” Really? Natatorial? Come on. That is some rich fertilizer right there. Talk about a needless fifty dollar word.

natatorial: (adj.) of, characterized by, or adapted for swimming.

Aww. Seems that some low-paid Playboy scribbler had a crush on his thesaurus.

That shot is freaking awesome. Hats off to Mr. Figge. “Natatorial” photography at its best? The reflection, the symmetry, the attention to every tile of the composition (rule of thirds) having something interesting in it — awesome sauce. Bill Figge is the shit.


As a medical buyer for one of California’s largest pharmaceutical cooperatives, Miss June has spent the past three years helping to supervise the selection of drugs destined to become shelf stock in hospitals and pharmacies throughout the Greater Glendale area.

(Ibid.)


Another stunning composition. The light-play is brilliant.

“My job can be fairly cut and dried one minute,” says the 21-year-old brunette, “and then, in typical Ben Casey fashion, a nearby hospital phones in an emergency order and I’m suddenly off and running all over the place to find the required medicines.”

(Ibid.)

The Ben Casey to which Ms. Burke refers was a popular television series which ran from the early- to mid-1960’s. The Bing Crosby-produced medical drama was filmed at Desilu Studios and starred Vince Edwards (Space Raiders, Return to Horror High*) as the titular surgeon Dr. Benjamin Casey. The opening sequence is famous for its serious, ominous overtones: this deep voice says, “Man — woman — birth — death — infinity.” Heavy shit, right?

*Yes, I deliberately picked the cheesiest, schlockiest, campiest of Edwards’ many legitimate credits to use as his two paranthetical citations, like those obscure B flicks would somehow make you say, “Oh, him!” I wanted to be funny. Vince Edwards is actually a talented and well-recognized actor who was very popular in his time: I am just a goofy rake.


Kelly now sports her own 1965 Oldsmobile convertible, in which she commutes daily from her new bachelorette bungalow in suburban Sylmar.

(Ibid.)

Just five months after Ms. Burke’s gatefold appearance, the Loop Fire wiped out huge swaths of the boundary between her new hometown of Sylmar and the Angeles Forest. The fatally unpredictable Loop Fire is still covered in firefighting course textbooks today as an example of the necessity for developing strong communication strategy to contain a dry canyon fire affected by high winds.

The Loop Fire began on November 1, 1966, at 5:19 am, on the edge of the Angeles National Forest. The El Cariso Interregional Fire Crew, which consisted of city and county firefighters, along with the El Cariso “Hot Shots,” a USDA-Forest crew of firefighters, sprang in to action to contain the blaze.

Tragically, a flare-up jumped from the forest to a canyon at the outer edges of Sylmar and created a wall of flame around it. A group from the Hot Shots crew was trapped inside, cut off from the rest of the firemen in a narrow and dry canyon of steep rock walls which, despite having no natural accelerants to move the fire along, still increases the energy of the fire because it functions as a “natural chimney,” creating tremendous heat and pressure.

Ten firefighters burned to death on site within minutes, while twelve others were injured, one critically.

Helicopter Pilot Troy Cook began rescue operations within 10 minutes after the men were burned. The diamond shaped area was still surrounded by fire when Pilot Cook hovered and picked up the first survivor.

(THE LOOP FIRE DISASTER – ANGELES NATIONAL FOREST – CALIFORNIA REGION: “A BRIEF OF THE REPORT OF THE GROUP ASSIGNED TO ANALYZE THE LOOP FIRE ACCIDENT.” US. Dept. of Agriculture, Forest Service. 1967: Washington, D.C.)


Pilot Roland Barton and his helicopter soon joined him and rescue operations continued with great courage and skill until all of the injured men were evacuated to the Los Angeles County Command Post on the Pacoima. From there the injured men were taken by auto to the hospital.

(Ibid.)

One of these injured men died at the LA County General Hospital November 6, but the rest survived thanks to the rescue efforts of the rest of the interregional team. A committee was formed by the Forest Service in conjunction with firefighting officials to use the tragic Loop Fire to improve fire prediction and containment methods, along with task force recommendations for the strengthening of safety and communication regulations.


The highly localized decisions and actions which resulted in the tragedy points to the need of:
  • (1) more specific direction on safe practices in similar topography; (2) specific control of helicopter attack; (3) scheduling of more complete inter- and intra-crew communication; and (4) adequate scouting to keep sector bosses currently informed when working in critical and possibly critical situations.

    (Ibid.)


  • [We need to] make crystal clear in firefighting training that a “chimney,” “narrow box canyon,” or similar topographic feature is a Hazard Area even if devoid of fuel.

    (Ibid.)

  • The El Cariso Regional Park on Hubbard in Sylmar is a memorial to the aforementioned El Cariso “Hot Shots,” the local United States Department of Agriculture – Forestry boys who were killed during their battle to keep the flames from entering the town.

    That was kind of bummer stuff, so sorry, but an interesting slice of history. Wildfires in California are far more devastating than the earthquakes with which the rest of the country generally associates the state, and as a result, fire science in California is often at the cutting edge of research and methods for saving lives in the future.

    But back to sunny Ms. Burke.


    “I’ve become a real flower bug,” she reports, “since Mom and Dad bought a retail nursery in Yucaipa last year. Each time I visit them, I load up the back seat of the Olds with so much greenery before heading home that it winds up looking just like some sort of window box on wheels.”

    (Ibid.)


    That’s cute.

    Weekends, June’s bantam (5′) beauty heads for the sun-drenched beaches of Santa Monica, equipped with an over-sized straw hat and nylon sailing parka. “My freckles still show no matter what I try!”

    a) Yay for little lookers! Rock on with your pocket rocket self.
    b) Why do freckled people always desire to hide them? Freckles are so unbelievably cute. I don’t get it.
    c) It looks like she is Thumbelina laying in an orange peel. What the what is that stuff?


    PEOPLE I ADMIRE: Albert Einstein, Dr. John Rock and Dr. Francis Kelsey, beause of their outstanding medical contributions.

    MY IDEAL EVENING: Have cocktails and dinner, take in a movie, and then have a pizza.

    (Playmate data sheet.)

    Right on to Einstein, pizza, mutts, and having a serious job while attending Cal Poly Pomona during her appearance as a Playmate. Ms. Burke is the exception and not the rule of pretentious brandy-snifter marlarkey we went over earlier this week. Fun final fact: her sister-in-law, Allison Parks, was the 1966 Playmate of the Year.

    Oh, and I guess a really fun final fact is that Ms. Burke was pregnant during this shoot. BOMBSHELL! Maybe that is why she is so adorably radiant. As you probably noticed, it’s another Cowboy Kate-influenced cover, I assume to reflect the “Girls of Texas” story. R.I.P., Sam Haskins.

    Spring Fever!: Gloria Windsor, Miss April 1957

    April 15, 2010

    The lovely and talented Gloria Windsor was Playboy’s Miss April 1957. I’ve had this picture saved on the ol’ compy for a couple years now, actually, because I am delighted by the expression of demented glee in the centerfold. Cracks me up. She is a tiny blonde rocking some powerful Crazy Eyes, and I’m down with that. Seriously, look at her smile. She looks one bump away from straight-up maniacal. I love it!


    Photographed by Hal Adams.

    The article which accompanied this spread was so, so full of obvious lies that I’m afraid I actually vacillated about even partially reproducing it here. It’s that cheesey. Not only that, it shrouds “Ms. Windsor” in total mystery. Who the heck knows what her name, occupation, age, and temperament really were? The answers are certainly not to be found in a bunch of chili sauce and curly fries riddled with cringe-inducing lines like:

    ‘ When in the course of human events (which sometimes includes buying a fancy chemise for a dear friend’s birthday) we discovered blonde, brown-eyed Gloria Windsor behind the counter of a lingerie shop, we said to her, “Let us take you away from all this.” ‘ (“Winsome Windsor,” Playboy, April 1957.)


    … We explained that we meant to take her away only long enough to shoot a Playmate photograph, something that could be done on her lunch hour. After a brief exchange of coy dialogue which we won’t bore you with here, she consented.

    If you’re going to spew … find Garth’s hat. Please don’t do it in my Yankees cap.


    The idea of the spread is that they’ve got her trying on the items for sale in her shop — that’s pretty cute and actually fair enough. But why then do they talk in the copy specifically about taking her away from the shop to do the shoot? Chicanery.

    Anyway. That article is absolutely ridiculous, and that was just a small sample of it. Dudes, first of all, I loathe it for giving credence to the groundless and terrible assumption that lingerie salesgirls are secretly all a bunch of highly suggestible sluts who can’t wait to shed their suits and model their wares for you. I was a proud Bra Specialist for Victoria’s Secret for two years and have always taken issue with this sterotype, which, believe me, even lonely trophy-wife-type women seem to believe, judging from how they’d constantly call us in to the fitting rooms to “adjust” and “help” them while flashing scary boob jobs and spray tans at us and trying to drop slang and hints about meeting for lunch and cocktails. I like to call them “afternoon bisexuals” — it’s all fine and good to go out to lunch and make out with a like-minded girlfriend while sipping Cosmos and discussing highlights, but when it comes time for the real meal, dinner? You bet your ass they’re going straight back to the man who buys the steak.


    Click to enlarge a scan of the original article. If you can stomach it.

    New patrons also liked to slyly approach and ask where the “good” stuff was — edible panties, furry handcuffs, etc — at which point I had no choice but to commiserate with them that we sold merely “foundations” garments and did not have “good” stuff. Then I’d tacitly endorse a few places around town which did.

    But that does not mean that all lingerie salesgirls have any knowledge of even the most basic workings of sex: assume that what you see is what you get and the girl in that Victoria’s Secret or Frederick’s of Hollywood nametag is just a young woman surrounded by silk underwear which comprises her entire world and nothing peripheral to the use of said underwear is included in her purview. Yes?


    Those sparkly gold pants are amazing. My favorite photo from the shoot.

    Those who know me might be tempted to point to my lingerie collection and the continued expansion of said wardrobe as evidence of the Victoria’s Secret merchandise/salesgirl’s character relationship — to you I say, corollation does not imply causation. You can’t argue with that, suckas, because it is math.

    But what really grinds me about this puffy little article stuffed with fluff is the advancement of the idea that you could do the whole of a Playboy photoshoot on one’s lunch hour. That is the apex of a shysty and misleading shenanigan.

    Come on — we have already learned that the b&w shots are usually done separately from the color and on totally different days from Swingin’ Miss February 1968, the lovely and talented and openminded Ms. Nancy Harwood, remember? It took absolutely days to shoot a centerfold spread; hell, it takes up to and sometimes over a week even now and that is with the advent of digital photography, even. Shot on the lunch hour, indeed. That is all total folklore. Fairy Tales and Oral Tradition 101, required course reading, right there. Depend on it. Calling bullshit on that one from a mile off.

    That last shot did not actually make it in to the original April 1957 spread, but rather comes from The First 15 Years book. The compilation of 178 centerfolds from the magazine’s earliest history was a Playboy Newsstand Special which came out in 1983. Today it goes for $75. Its success lead to the printing of The Second 15 Years in 1984. Many of those who disapproved of then-modern porn and decried the so-called corruption of morals during the 70’s and 80’s were accustomed to hounding Larry Flynt and Deep Throat and were quite surprised by the success of the The First 15 Years, but I just think it goes to show an old adage that I have always lived by. Ready for it?

    PSA: Dudes like boobs.

    Doesn’t matter if they’re on a gal whose photograph was taken yesterday or on a woman in a picture who is probably now dead or a grandma, if they are boobs, they are worth a second look. It makes no difference to the gentleman looking at the picture if the hair and wardrobe above and below the boobs are out-of-date — he is not wishing the woman with boobs was wearing more stylish clothing, he is wishing there were no clothing on the woman with boobs at all.

    Smart porn purveyors know this and, if they are savvy gents like Hef, have held on to their old photos featuring those wonderful cash cows we call boobs and will play that card from time to time, right about the time they are sure the woman in the picture with boobs in question is too old or living a life too removed from the time of the picture’s taking to raise a protest. So, ladies, when you pose for naughty pictures and they assure you that the negatives will be destroyed, they are probably lying. Did You Know?

    On a quick review, this entry is really full of revelations, from afternoon bisexuals to nudie photoshoots taking time to Victoria’s Secret’s lack of “good” stuff and all ending with the earth-shattering truism that dudes like boobs. Y’all please excuse me while I blow ya minds.