Pretty Vintage Ladies Playing Their Ukuleles

As you might have caught on to by now, I am kinda obsessed with playing the ukulele. For the majority of my life I’ve been playing various musical instruments, but the ukulele is the only string instrument I can play (as of right now at least!). It was a weird experience for me to learn how to play chords and melodies using strings rather than by pressing keys, but now I can’t stop. And it’s a lot more of a mobile instrument than my piano! Anyway, I was fiddling around on the internet today and started stumbling upon all these beautiful early to mid-1900 photographs of ukulele players, and just had to share some of them. Many of the blogs and other websites I found them didn’t include much data about the photographs themselves, and after doing some Googling I couldn’t turn up much either, so that’s the only downfall. Enjoy!

Famous Ukulele Ladies:

Greta Garbo in 1925

Doris Day

Gloria Swanson

Joni Mitchell

Marilyn Monroe

Another Marilyn

Betty Page, rocking the pin-up ukulele look.

Mia Farrow

Shirley Temple

I’m not sure who the woman is, but she is getting a lesson from one of the best! Cliff Edwards, a.k.a. Ukulele Ike AND the voice of Jiminy Cricket!

And a bunch of fun, vintage ukulele ladies:

Two young girls goofing off

Group of women playing ukulele on the beach, taken around 1925.

This is my favorite photo. Flapper modeling with a ukulele, c. 1920.

Just strumming in some lingerie.

Left handed ukulele player. “Lest you forget.” Aren’t the colors in this photo interesting?

Again, with the ukeing in the lingerie! Printed in a 1950s magazine ad.

Professional shot of a young starlet.

What I wouldn’t give to be skipping around on the beach with my friends, a ukulele and a parasol.

Girls clearly can use their musical talents to lure in unsuspecting young men, too, c. 1938.

I don’t know how it’s possible to look so glum playing a uke, but she’s working it, c. 1945.

Swoon. She’s looking easy, breezy playing ukulele on the porch.

I have close to zero understanding of what is going on in this photograph, but it is cracking me up.

“You should have heard the music.” What a bittersweet message.

Girls playing uke on a park bench in their swimsuits. Taken on July 9, 1926 in Washington, DC. The girls are identified in the caption of a similar photo as Elaine Griggs, Virginia Hunter, Mary Kaminsky, Dorothy Kelly and Hazel Brown.
This is also the only image on the Library of Congress’ website that features girls with ukuleles (or at least, the only one that is searchable, and has been digitized). [http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/npcc.16039, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA]

Printed in the New York Tribune, September 14, 1919.

The Boswell Sisters

Music book, “Oh How She Could Play A Ukulele.”

All-American Girl

A Norman Rockwell Illustration

And, just because I happen to be a huge fan, I had to include this one I found of goofball Buster Keaton:

Oh, to live during this time! (And what a beautiful photograph, at that).

 

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Vintage Beauties: Anna Karina

Recently I have been rekindling my fondness for Jean-Luc Godard films. During undergrad school we studied Godard in several of my classes, which is how I first learned about the director. The first movie of his I saw was Breathless and it has been true love ever since. Yesterday I watched Pierrot le fou. I have always been an Anna Karina fan—I mean, I have a thing for any quirky actress rocking bangs—but now I am truly obsessed. So, now I present, Vintage Beauties: Anna Karina.

Anna Karina was born Hanne Karin Blarke Bayer in Copenhagen, Denmark on September 22, 1940. Her parents were less than adequate. She lived with her maternal grandparents until she was four and then in foster homes until she was eight. After that she went to live with her mother and stepfather, where she felt unwanted and unloved. Her stepfather regularly physically abused her and after one instance she decided she was going to run away to Paris.

It was the summer of 1958 when Anna, who spoke little French, arrived in Paris. A local priest assisted her in securing a small room on the rue Pavee near the Champs Elysees and behind the Bastille. Shortly thereafter a lady named Catherine Harle approached Anna at the Les Deux Magots café and asked her if she would do some photos for the fashion magazine Jours de France. Harle was not impressed with her modeling during the photo shoot, but still gave her some other contacts to investigate, and soon became a top model in Paris. While shooting an advertisement for Elle, she met Coco Chanel, who is credited with changing Anna’s name from Hanna Karin Bayer to Anna Karina.

Jean-Luc Godard first laid eyes on Anna when she was featured in a soap ad for Palmolive, during which he was casting for his movie À bout de soufflé (Breathless). Interested in Anna to play the part of one of Michel Poiccard’s previous girlfriends, he sent her a telegram requesting an appointment with her. Godard told her she had the part if she wanted it, but that the part required nudity, which Anna refused to do. Godard had been under the impression that she had been nude for the Palmolive ad, to which she replied “Are you mad? I was fully clothed in those ads, and the soapsuds went up to my neck. It was in your mind I was undressed” and stormed out of the meeting.

Anna went on to become Godard’s muse and wife. Their relationship was stormy and hostile, eventually getting divorced in 1965 after making a host of movies together such as The Little Soldier (1960), A Woman is a Woman (1961), Vivre sa vie (1962), Pierrot le Fou (1965), and Alphaville (1965). Anna continued to take on roles with other directors, although she is best known for being Godard’s French New Wave film star.

I don’t want to go too in depth with Anna’s biography, but I found a really detailed page at NewWaveFilm.com if you are interested in more Anna deets, especially concerning Anna and Godard’s relationship.

A few more favorite photos, of course…

Of course, while watching Pierrot le Fou, I had to emulate Anna’s classic look of heavy bangs and winged black eyeliner:

Oh, web cam photos.

In any case, I am pretty sure that Anna is the original Zooey Deschanel. I dare you to challenge me on that one.

Vintage Beauties: Brigitte Bardot

Oui Oui.

The 50s and 60s French icon herself.

Cool as a cucumber.

“I’m a girl from a good family who was very well brought up. One day I turned my back on it all and became a bohemian.”

Brigitte had some amazing hair, eyeliner, and style. Also, gimme that camera.

“I never do anything by chance.”

“What does it mean, being a woman?

I’m gonna say it probably means being Brigitte Bardot.

If I did not already know I would look horrendous as a blonde I’d likely go out and do it this instant just to copy Brigitte.