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Leg Art and Gag Shots

Some of the most widely distributed still photographs were those which connected the movie going audience with their favorite celebrities and stars. These stills assumed immediately recognizable forms and situations. Everyone can relate to Christmas, the Fourth of July, Veterans Day, etc. The still photographer created scenes in which studio stars were depicted with firecrackers, turkeys, bunnies, household pets, Santa hats, Christmas trees, fire engines, baseball bats and backyard bric a brac. These were called ''gag shots".

Another favorite with the movie audience was the photographer's use of situations which accentuated the female stars' legs. These took different forms depending on mood, circumstance and studio preferences. But these all appealed to men and women alike. A teasing humor often found its way into these set-ups, and when done properly, the impact was stunning. These were called ''leg art".

What is not apparent from a review of these images is that they were created mostly for newspaper exposure, not magazines. Therefore, the contrast and depth of the photograph is sacrificed for the monotone preferences of newspaper photo editors. Not only that, these had to be "right" on the negative. This means that the entire plate had to display the subject. 

Contrast the essence of these stills to those the still photographer made while filming was in progress on the sound stage.  Or, consider those the photographer made off-stage, between takes, while actors were still in costume but resting between takes.  These kinds of stills required the photographer to plan ahead for crucial features of the set-up: lighting, angle, distance, exposure, pose and mood. The leg art or gag shot was far more relaxed, inviting helpful hints and comments from the subject, and one can therefore assume, allowed the participants time to express themselves often in creative and humorous ways. The atmosphere around the studio was charged and tense most of the time when filming was in progress on the sound stage, but with leg art and gag shots photographers and subjects could relax and have a little fun. 

Jimmy Stewart

Jimmy Stewart plays failed music shop owner Jimmy Haskell, here surrounded by leggy rhumba dancers who accompany an orchestra act in Pot O' Gold, 1941.

Jimmy Stewart plays failed music shop owner Jimmy Haskell, here surrounded by leggy rhumba dancers who accompany an orchestra act in the romantic comedy Pot O' Gold, 1941.

Glenn Ford

 
Glenn Ford prefers to read a book while enticing models attempt to get his attention.  Between takes on the set of The Mating of Millie, 1948.

Playing a professor in The Mating of Millie, 1948, Glenn Ford would rather lose himself in a good book than cavort with enticing models who surround him. 

John Wayne

The bumboat girls flirt with John Wayne (Ole) and Driscoll (Thomas Mitchell) in a scene from 'Long Voyage Home', 1940.

The bumboat girls flirt with seaman Ole (John Wayne) and Driscoll the bosun (Thomas Mitchell) in a scene from Long Voyage Home, 1940.

Jeff Donnell

As a seasonal Easter promotion, Jeff Donnell poses with a nest for a hat, complete with hidden eggs.

As a seasonal Easter promotion, Jeff Donnell poses with a nest for a hat, complete with hidden eggs.

Michael Phineas gives his mother, Jeff Donnell, tips on how to repair his wagon.  This photograph supported the Columbia star in her role as Anne Parks Duncan in the Boston Blackie film 'The Phantom Thief', 1946.

Michael Phineas gives his mother, Jeff Donnell, tips on how to repair his wagon. This photograph supported the Columbia star in her role as Anne Parks Duncan in the Boston Blackie film The Phantom Thief, 1946.

Jeff Donnell and her four year old son, Michael, picking fruit in their backyard on a sunny day in the Los Angeles area.

Gene Autry at his home in Fan Fernando

Gene Autry and his wife smile a greeting from the balcony of their home in San Fernando Valley.  This photograph supported Columbia's film 'The Strawberry Roan', 1948.

Gene Autry and his wife smile a greeting from the balcony of their home in San Fernando Valley. This photograph supported Columbia's film The Strawberry Roan, 1948.

Ted Donaldson and the Hollywood Boys Club

Ted Donaldson, star of Columbia's  'The Rusty'  films of the mid-'40's, gets teased by Joe Dixon, center for the Los Angeles Mustangs, as 'Big Bill' Freelove, owner of the team looks on.   The occasion is a gift of funds to support the Hollywood Boy's Club in its effort to outfit its baseball and football teams.  Ted Donaldson was a member of the club at the time.

Ted Donaldson, star of Columbia's 'The Rusty' films of the mid-'40's, gets teased by Joe Dixon, center for the Los Angeles Mustangs, as 'Big Bill' Freelove, owner of the team, looks on. The occasion is a gift of funds to support the Hollywood Boy's Club in its effort to outfit its baseball and football teams. Ted Donaldson was a member of the club at the time.  This photo supported his role in the Columbia Pictures comedy Once Upon A Time, 1944.

Leslie Brooks

Leslie Brooks poses provocatively for Columbia Studios' Christmas celebration in 1946.

Leslie Brooks poses provocatively for Columbia Studios' Christmas celebration in 1947. This photograph supported her role as Ellen Wilcox in the Columbia Pictures romantic comedy Cigarette Girl, 1947.

She curls up in a leggy pose to support  the film 'Cover Girl', 1944.

She curls up in a leggy pose to support her role as Maurine Martin in Columbia Pictures romantic comedy Cover Girl, 1944

Ann Miller

Ann Miller poses carefully with a bunny for a hat in a photograph which supported her role as Linda Lorens in The Thrill of Brazil, 1946.

Eadie Allen, college girl and nightclub  dancer, never failed to attract a full house crowd in Columbia Pictures wartime musical comedy Eadie Was a Lady, 1945.  It has to be something very captivating in that newspaper for the seated officer to ignore Eadie while she is sporting a rival come-hither pose which vies unsuccessfully for his attention even though she is nearly rubbing against his right arm.  Played by actress and dancer Ann Miller who appears in other Ned Scott portraits from her films produced by Columbia from 1944 to 1946.

Eadie Allen, college girl and nightclub dancer, never failed to attract a full house crowd in Columbia Pictures wartime musical comedy Eadie Was a Lady, 1945. It has to be something very captivating in that newspaper for the seated officer to ignore Eadie while she is sporting a rival come-hither pose which vies unsuccessfully for his attention even though she is nearly rubbing against his right arm. Played by actress and dancer Ann Miller who appears in other Ned Scott portraits from her films produced by Columbia from 1944 to 1946.

Adele Mara

Columbia Starlet poses for the July 4th celebrations in 1946.

This starlet is ready to party in celebration of the Fourth of July at Columbia Studios in 1947

Columbia Starlet poses for the July 4th celebrations in 1946.

America can rejoice in the celebration of it's founding on July 4, 1776.  Columbia Studios highlighted the festivities with a stalwart photograph of Adele Mara.

Mona Freeman

Mona Freeman teams up with Ned Scott to produce promotional photographs for the American Lung Association Christmas Seals campaign, 1946.

Mona Freeman teams up with Ned Scott to produce promotional photographs for the American Lung Association Christmas Seals campaign, 1944.

Mona Freeman teams up with Ned Scott to produce promotional photographs for the American Lung Association Christmas Seals campaign, 1946.

Mona Freeman teams up with Ned Scott to produce promotional photographs for the American Lung Association Christmas Seals campaign, 1944.

Anita Louise

Anita Louise, Columbia Studios star, needs no encouragement as she stands ready to celebrate the New Year, 1946. At the time of this photograph, she was starring in 'The Bandit of Sherwood Forest'

Anita Louise, Columbia Studios star, needs no encouragement as she stands ready to celebrate the New Year, 1946. At the time of this photograph, she was starring in The Bandit of Sherwood Forest.

Gloria Henry

Gloria Henry sports a blouse designed by Jean Louis Berthault, Columbia Studios costume designer, with the title of her new film embossed at the neckline, I Love Trouble 1947.

Santa is about to get a special delivery in the flesh from Hollywood. Gloria Henry, who at the time of this photograph was starring in Columbia Studios western action drama Adventures in Silverado, is on her way to the North Pole to heat up the place, via the United States Postal Department.

Evelyn Keyes

Evelyn Keyes lines up a challenging shot on the pool table at her home.  This image was used to support her role in Johnny O'Clock, 1948

Evelyn Keyes lines up a challenging shot on the pool table at her home. This image was used to support her role as Nancy Hobson in Columbia Pictures detective drama Johnny O'Clock, 1947.

William Holden

William Holden and wife Barbara Marshall read a favorite bedtime story to their son, West, in the living room of their home.  This photographed supported his role at the time in The Man From Colorado, 1948.

William Holden and wife Barbara Marshall read a favorite bedtime story to their son, West, in the living room of their home. This photograph supported his role in the Columbia Pictures western romance  from Director Henry Levin, The Man From Colorado, 1948.

Rita Hayworth

Just another day at home for Rita Hayworth.  Ned Scott captures her in a warm moment with her German shepherd as the two exchange high fives at Rita's doorway.  Rita was filming Lady From Shanghai at the time, and this photograph along with others of her around the house supported her role in the film.

Just another day at home for Rita Hayworth. Ned Scott captures her in a warm moment with her German shepherd as the two exchange high fives at Rita's doorway. Rita was filming Lady From Shanghai at the time, and this photograph along with other portraits of her around the house supported her role in the film.

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Taken at her home right around the time Rita was filming Gilda, this image with her toddler, Rebecca, shows a relaxed and proud mother doing what everyone else does at home with their children--taking walks in the stroller, spending time outside in the yard or visiting neighbors.  The caption written by Studio staff on the back of this print states: "YOUNG CHARMER....Rita Hayworth, next to be in Columbia's Down to Earth, enjoys the few days off between pictures at home getting better acquainted with her now two-year-old daughter, Rebecca."

Janet Blair

The 1946 studio caption attached to this print reads:  'Wanted: String Puller...Pert, twinkling-eyed Janet Blair awaits a marionette master as she poses.  Janet, who hails from Altoona, PA, will next play the feminine lead in Columbia's 'Tars and Spars', based on the U.S. Coast Guard show of the same title.'  Considerable effort on the part of costume designers and set workers was needed to make this contrived gag shot effective.  Not only was this gag pose eye-catching for its message, but it also grabbed the eye with the fish net stockings.

The 1946 studio caption attached to this print reads: 'Wanted: String Puller...Pert, twinkling-eyed Janet Blair awaits a marionette master as she poses. Janet, who hails from Altoona, PA, will next play the feminine lead in Columbia's 'Tars and Spars', based on the U.S. Coast Guard show of the same title.' Considerable effort on the part of costume designers and set workers was needed to make this contrived gag shot effective. Not only was this gag pose eye-catching for its message, but it also grabbed the eye with the fish net stockings.