Over this past summer I posted about when Hollywood stars were forced to begin charging for their own fan photos in 1929. We jump a few decades from that story today but steer on a similar track thanks to a nifty piece of ephemera I found tucked inside an order that arrived today.
Try researching a company titled Hollywood Studios hailing out of Hollywood, CA and Google isn't a very friendly beast. And so we're stuck with the little sales brochure itself to wade through and try to decipher more about the distribution of vintage quality photographs of the stars to their ardent fans of the period.
About the only clue the brochure itself provides is that lack of a zip code and inclusion of the Hollywood 28 postal code which dates it to between 1943-1963. Of course a quick glance at the names on the photos being offered for sale basically zeroes this in as a 1950's piece.
I say little, and the brochure as shown above does measure only 4-1/4" X 6-3/4", but it in fact unfolds to a respectable 8-1/2" X 19-5/8" in size and offers at least several hundred photos for sale.
From Hollywood Studios to You
Hollywood Studios bring you genuine studio-tone photographs taken by top flight studio cameramen. Our exclusive collection is kept constantly up to date. We will bring you thrilling, life-0like poses of your favorite stars.
THERE ARE OVER 1000 STARS TO CHOOSE FROM
Opening up this little catalog we get that little pitch above along with instructions for ordering. Those instructions include a tease of a "special bonus offer for orders of $1 or more" and quaintly notes that "Coins should be wrapped securely."
Flipping the booklet open another page brings up our Order Form, which is shown below. More interesting we start getting into the different sort of photos Hollywood Studios was then offering for sale. Master Portraits were available in quantities from 2 for 25¢s; up to 25 for $2.00. These are "3-1/2" X 5-1/2" Genuine studio-tone double weight finish facsimile autographs." Names available included legends such as Ingrid Bergman, Joan Crawford, Bette Davis, even Lassie, right down to lesser recalled stars such as Vanessa Brown, Audrey Dalton, and Helen Forrest.Other photos being offered were described and priced as thus:
De Luxe Portraits: 5" X 7" Genuine studio-tone double weight matte finish facsimile autographs, 3 for 50¢s; up to 15 for $2.00.
Pinups: 5" X 7" Pinups - Deluxe High Gloss Finish - Facsimile Autograph, with pricing falling under the same rates as the De Luxe above.
Also available were "Stage Sets" which were 19 different groupings of photos, described as "Eight 2-1/2" X 3-1/2" portraits to a set. High gloss finish. A set includes the eight different stars named. No sets broken. Order by number. You could get 2 of the sets for 50¢s; and 5 for just $1.00.
But Wait, There's More:
You remember that bonus I mentioned? Hollywood Studios would give 2 free photos if you ordered a $1.00 or more worth of goods. Further they upped the ante to 5 free pics on orders of $2 or more and 8 freebies if you spent $3 or more.
I'm always interested in learning more about how period film fans collected their Hollywood favorites. It's interesting between this and that earlier post to see how photo requests evolved from freebies mailed out by the actual star and his or her studio, to the same for a cost, to an outside company handling requests at a profit.
I'd imagine companies such as Hollywood Studios came along after discovering that people would pay hard earned money for objects picturing their favorite stars. For the collector the investment moved from the time it took to pen an often heartfelt letter over to the much less personal activity of filling out an order form and sealing some hard earned money inside an envelope.
These are the objects I prefer to handle, those which were assembled into the collections of ordinary collectors.
Following are some examples of photos of the type likely being sent out by Hollywood Studios to fulfill orders: