Saturday, May 5, 2012

The Ideal Screen Figure

About the same ideal measurements that had been given out for Thelma Todd in VAMPING VENUS in the 1920's were given out again in the 1930's, this time as set of composite measurements from a number of thirties beauties.

Here we see a photo of Anita Page together with a figure drawn according to the specifications taken from a number of different screen stars, the final result looking a great deal like Anita Page.

Let's take a look at the other glamour girls on the list. Some of them are better known than others now, but they were all famous in their day.

The height of 5'4" is given for Pola Negri, this same height was given for many others, including Thelma Todd, Clara Bow, and later Marilyn Monroe.  Here we see Paula Negri, whose career began in the silent era.

Famous silent star Mary Pickford was still active in the talkies. She was actually smaller than many of the other girls on the list.

Norma Talmadge was the better-known sister of Buster Keaton's wife Natalie. Constance Talmadge was another sister.

Greta Garbo was more usually associated with big feet rather than a big bosom. With all the publicity she got for hers, I'm surprised they didn't say "Jean Harlow" instead.

Clara Bow at arms. In height and weight she was close to the ideal woman depicted in the drawing above, but the 120 pounds or so usually given for her weight was a low figure that she tended to pass up as an adult.

Bebe Daniels started out with Harold Lloyd in silent movies. In talkies, she was still a star.

Gloria Swanson started out in Mack Sennett comedies.

Gilda Gray danced the shimmy. She made some movies.

Aileen Pringle was still active in the talkies.

Norma Shearer was a top star at MGM.

Marion Davies has her detractors, and she has her fans.

Ann Pennington's small foot size was related to her her small size overall. Here we see her on the left with Billie Dove ( also on the list ) on the right.

Looking at the measurements on this list, today, we see a lack of emphasis on the bust that was carried over from the silent era, when there was a pretense that women were flat chested. Later on there would be more emphasis on the bosom, which would lead to the studios giving out exaggerated claims for the glamour girls in the Jayne Mansfield era.

The ideal of the "Perfect 36" goes way back. Mabel Normand made a movie called A PERFECT 36 in 1918.

Mabel Normand was also drawn by artist Charles Dana Gibson as the "Gibson girl" prior to her career in films and it could even be said that she more or less represented the standard of beauty they had at that time. But as the silent era progressed, a new standared of beauty emerged that was different from the old and leaned toward the androgenous. With the comng of sound, the movies became more realistic and girls themselves began to appear more like girls again, but the influence of the silent ideal would linger for some time and it is not surprising that about the same set of measurements were still being presented as the then current ideal.

 Here is a picture of Dorothy Dell from the early thirties with a list of measurements they were attributing to her, which again were very similar.

Clara Bow:

Bebe Daniels:

Dorothy Dell:

Mabel Normand:

Ann Pennington

Norma Talmadge


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