Posted on December 19, 2020
LA writer Duke Haney told me about the history of Playmate puzzles, one of them included the centerfold image of Paige Young.
“The successful Playmate puzzle series was released periodically, in groups of 4 Playmates at a time. Paige’s group included Cynthia Myers, Gwen Wong and DeDe Lind and was released in 70/71.”
Haney describes the lid of the Playmate puzzle.
“The mini-centerfold measures 3×6.5 and two were two included with every puzzle. One was folded so that only the face of the girl was visible through the opaque cap on the can. This was so that the buyer knew which puzzle it was, which Playmate. There are four pictured on the can itself. Then there was another mini-centerfold inside the can. This one wasn’t creased like the one below the lid. These pictures were guides to be referenced while piecing together the puzzle. Only one would have been necessary but hey…”Author Duke Haney
Haney says Playmates “never received residuals, Playboy owned the photos outright.” and that “The last of the puzzles were released in 1973, so Paige would have certainly been alive when her puzzle was released.”
Thank you Duke for speaking with me, I appreciate it.
*NOTE* All of images of Paige’s paintings that follow, were publicly posted on Pinterest and Facebook.
PETER GOWLAND’S GIRLS exhibit and book curated by Thom Schrimbock 2016
To mark the 100th birthday of Peter Gowland ZEPHYR – Space for Photography in Mannheim & Reiss-Engelhorn Museums curated “Peter Gowland’s Girls”, the first international exhibition of his lifework. “Peter Gowland’s Girls” showcases some 200 works selected from Peter Gowland’s estate, which comprises tens of thousands of superb prints and slides, including the most sensational, most elegant and most daring pictures from his unparalleled career as a pin-up photographer. The exhibition displays his portraits of stars like Joan Collins and Jayne Mansfield, his work for “Playboy” and “Rolling Stone”, and his pictures for innumerable calendars and magazines from the 1940s to the 1970s. from petergowlandphotography.com
Photo below is from the book “Peter Gowland’s Girls.” Labeled “Unknown”
Category: 1970s, LA Locations, Playboy, PMOM, Popular Culture Tagged: 1960s, 1960spinupmodels, 1968, 1970s, 1970sfad, 35mm slides, Duke Haney, Exhibit in Germany, Feminist Art, Femlin Playboy, glamourphotography, Leroy Neiman, Martha Rosler, Mel Ramos, Paige Young, Peter Gowland, Peter Gowland's Girls, pin-up models, Playboy History, Playboy magazine, Playboy merchandise, Playboy Playmate, Playboymagazine, Playmate Puzzle, Pop Art, Pop culture, Sally Sheffield, Thom Shrimbock, Venetia Stevenson, Vietnam era, Vintage Novelty Barware, Wack! Art and the Feminist Revolution
Posted on June 5, 2020
It was around this time I think, Paige meets and models for famous photographer Peter Gowland.
By this time, Peter and Alice Gowland had already enjoyed a thriving photography business for over a decade. This includes many Playboy Playmates.
Richard Sample confirmed what I had suspected, that Paige had known and modeled for Gowland already several years before her Playboy centerfold issue, November of 1968. See chapter on Richard Sample interview.
In the 1950s:
The Gowlands were part of a larger group of mainly male glamour/pinup photographers, based in the LA area. Chapter coming soon.
The Gowlands were not unique in their husband and wife photography partnership: Another husband and wife photography team who also produced Playmate features: Bill and Melba Figge, based in Glendale.
The Figges were very busy with their wedding photography business, (500 per year) while living family life with four children.
They spotted or (scouted) many Playmates at weddings gigs, including Lisa Baker from Texas, Playmate of the Year, 1967. Lisa Baker and Paige would appear together in April of 1969 at a Fresno mall to sign autographs.
The two Playmates both supposedly appeared on the Jonathan Winters Show, probably as background decor. I’ve never found an actual credit for Paige or Lisa on the show.
Back to the 1950s: The “pin-up model” had been made into a mass media icon associated with patriotism during world war 2. She was evolving and keeping her mainstream status. This time coincided with advances in photography; cameras, lighting and other technology and increasing appeal as a popular hobby for the “average joe.”
glamourphotographers.yolasite.comsite.com Please checkout this website for an in-depth discussion of the Gowlands and other photographers from the classic era of postwar glamour/pinup photography.
Peter Gowland himself was often featured in magazines for amateur photographers, he not only built his own outdoor sets by hand at his Rustic Canyon home, he invented a large format 4×5 camera he named the Gowlandflex. Throughout the 50s and 60s,
Peter and Alice were at the forefront of the genre and the business and the technical side with Peter’s handbuilt sets and Gowlandflex camera.
Their specialty was selling these photos for use in different types of men’s magazines, girlie calendars, mainstream commercial work and many photography instructional books.
TV starlet Saundra Edwards is mentioned in the above article as a Gowland favorite model. She had several bit parts and uncredited appearances on TV and movies including Hawaiian Eye, 77 Sunset Strip, Maverick, Cheyenne and Troy Donahue starring movie Parrish.
Saundra was a Playmate for March 1957; photography by the Gowlands.
Saundra killed her husband, actor Tom Gilson, in self-defense when he drunkenly approached Saundra during a separation, demanding to see his son. This happened in Oct. of 1962 in Van Nuys. Below is one of many articles on the incident. Saundra was cleared of any wrongdoing.
Saundra Edwards had two children by a previous marriage. She also had a contract with Warner Bros. that she broke. The story goes the studio wanted Sandra to place her kids in a boarding school while they developed her star potential. She refused.
Other notable models or stars who worked for the Gowlands were model and swimsuit designer Barbara Osterman, mid-century pop culture phenomenon Vicki “The Back” Dougan, Julie Newmar (pre-Cat Woman) Tina Louise (pre-Gilligan’s Island) cult movie actress Edy Williams, starlets Yvette Mimeux and Venetia Stevenson, Jayne Mansfield, famous men’s magazine and nudist model Diane Webber. Rosemarie Bowe and her husband Robert Stack, Rock Hudson and R. J. Wagner.
The Gowlands had a lucrative revenue stream with dozens of photography instruction manuals from the 50s through the 80s at least. Some were magazine format and others hardback books. 3 examples of magazine format below
Many of these instruction manuals pushed boundaries for nudity (topless) standards or simulation or implied nudity, (naked back turned toward the camera, almost see-through garments etc.) for the times.
Alice Gowland wrote these books which include detailed instructions on lighting, camera settings, set design and construction, on location shooting and scouting, interviewing and signing contracts with models.
Peter Gowland did publish photos with obvious frontal nudity in a small number of instructional books. (Later, Alice Gowland would say one reason they left Playboy, was the appearance of pubic hair in the early 70s.) Mainly though, it was swimsuit and beach attire.
Peter Gowland is well-known (Alice less so) for contributing to the Playboy Magazine Playmate feature in the 50s and 60s.
Most fans know Paige Young was the last of the Gowland’s Playmates with her feature in November of 1968.
Peter Gowland has a type of fame, both then and now, but not one that is mass fame. He has more of a cult status.
However, Gowland was more mainstream in the 50s and 60s when non-nude pinup models were used in a myriad of ways in mass media culture.
Part of the phenomena of the pinup cover model is the plethora of beauty contests, beauty contest winners and corresponding media coverage.
Southern California was a hub for all kinds of beauty contests and displays of physicality; for example the Venice Beach “muscle” scene also feature female beauty contests.
This article was published around the time Paige met Peter and Alice Gowland.
Category: 1950s, 1960s, LA Locations, Playboy, Popular Culture Tagged: 1950s pinup models, Alan Jay Lerner, Alan Jay Lerner divorce, Alice Gowland, Barbara Osterman, cult models, Early 1960s, Edy Williams, Elsa Sorensen, glamour models, hobby, Hollywood divorce, Madeline Castle, Mark F. Segal, Marvin M. Mitchelson, Marvin Mithcelson, mid-1960s, Mid-century Los Angeles, Mid-Century SFV, Model/Starlet, Paige Young, Peter Gowland, photography, pin-up models, Playboy History, Rosemarie Bowe, Rosemarie Stack, Sandra Edwards, Saundra Edwards, Susan Denberg, Tom Gilson, Venetia Stevenson., Vintage Playboy, Vintage Playboy Playmate
Posted on May 6, 2020
Frank LaRocca, brother of Diana’s grandfather and defacto father Ned, was a violinist and music director in Decatur, Illinois.
Ned and Virginia are listed in the census as living in Peoria, Ill. Ned a musician and Virginia a housewife.
Phone directories list a Frank LaRocca and wife Rose in Los Angeles. The couple resided at 2303 Gatewood. Frank was a violinist and conductor.
Ned, his wife Virginia LaRocca and their 9-year-old daughter Donna, join Frank and Rose in Los Angeles. The family moved into a house located at 2234 Shoredale Ave. located about two blocks away from Frank and Rose on Gatewood.
Ned and Virginia had performed their vaudeville acts in the Los Angeles area many times in the teens and 20s, so they had familiarity with the area.
(Per LA phone directories seen in the LAPL and voter registration ancestry.com)
This neighborhood is very close to Elysian Park, the LA River and Riverside Drive, well before “the 5” freeway was built.
Brothers Frank and Ned LaRocca are listed as “music teachers” in the LA phone directory in the mid–1930s.
1937: According to his death certificate, Frank is admitted to Methodist Hospital with peritonitis/perforated duodena. After one week in the hospital, Frank dies, having contracted pneumonia two day previous.
He is buried in his home town of Peoria, Illinois.
Frank’s find-a-grave page includes an obituary. It states that brother Ned LaRocca lives in LA and is a harpist in a Hollywood radio orchestra.
This sensational streamline moderne building was the new west coast headquarters of NBC radio and opened in 1938. Architect was John C. Austin. Austin was also architect of the Griffith Park Observatory along with Frederick M. Ashley.
The National Broadcasting Company originally used the phrase Radio City to describe their studios at Rockefeller Center in New York City. When NBC opened their new Hollywood studios at Sunset and Vine in 1938, they placed the words Radio City prominently on the front of their new building. However, the area between Hollywood Boulevard and Sunset Boulevard on Vine Street became known as Radio City for tourists and locals alike who visited the many radio studios and radio themed cocktail lounges and businesses in the area.radiocityhollywood.com
Veteran performing artist Ned LaRocca found a steady paycheck at both NBC and CBS as I discovered from this document found on ancestry.
The website radiocityhollywood.com describes vividly what must have been a fascinating “scene”overflowing with human activity; many types of people who had a requirement,a desire, or both, to be there: from Radio City employees, to ticket holders to tourists from near and far.
The National Broadcasting Company, after moving from New York to San Francisco, opened its’ new Moderne studios at the intersection of Sunset and Vine in Hollywood, California.
A block away, the Columbia Broadcasting System opened it’s new modern studios at Columbia Square. Across the street, on December 26, Earl Carroll opened his premier nightclub and restaurant, with the glamorous neon sign proclaiming, “Through these portals pass the most beautiful girls in the world.”
The Hollywood Palladium opened two years later between NBC and CBS, with the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra, featuring band singer Frank Sinatra. Across Vine Street, on the northwest corner of Sunset and Vine, sat Music City and Capitol Records, operated by bothers Glenn and Clyde Wallich.radiocityhollywood.com
The radio industry in Los Angeles, and the world I imagine, was at its’ zenith from the late 30s through the 1940s. This era was short lived. Television would soon replace radio as the mass entertainment medium of choice. (1950s)
CBS radio aka “Columbia Square” opens just down the street from NBC. Also opened in 1938.
It’s the new home to KNX Radio, where Ned LaRocca performed.
Film-noirish look at Sunset & Vine. found on the internet. NBC on the right. 1940s. Capitol Records on the left, before the iconic new location (the “stack of records” building) was built at 1750 Vine St. by Welton Becket and Assoc. (Opened in 1956)
The American Broadcasting Corporation set up shop a few doors north on Vine Street. Up the street was the Radio Room, Club Morocco, Mike Lyman’s and the famous Tom Breneman’s Breakfast in Hollywood restaurant. Even further up Vine, just before Hollywood Boulevard, Clara Bow operated her restaurant, the It Cafe. Across the street, south of the Boulevard, was the world famous Vine Street Brown Derby, more restaurants and bars, and at Selma Avenue, the RCA building. Further south, at the end of the block, at the intersection of Vine Street and Sunset Boulevard stood the radio flagship studio, NBC Radio City.
It was a glorious year, 1938, for Hollywood and for radio. And, while NBC called their new studios Radio City, the entire area became famous across America and around the world.Radio City Hollywood website.
Tom Breneman broadcast his popular show “Breakfast In Hollywood” from his restaurant on Vine off Sunset Blvd. I’ve listened to a few radio broadcasts and Breneman asks the audience members”where are you from?” It seems like the are a combination of locals and out of town visitors.
Ned LaRocca continued to work at NBC and CBS throughout the 1940s and made an important contact with Leith Stevens, conductor and composer.
. Jane Harker was the daughter of Josephine and George Truman Harker and a first cousin to Donna LaRocca, Diana/Paige’s mother. I write more about them in Family History Part #1.
The information about Jane Harker that you see on websites like imdb is incorrect. I’m attempting to correct it.
I have a lot of material collected about Jane Harker if anyone would like to collaborate on this project contact me.
Category: 1940s, LA Locations, Popular Culture, Radio City, CBS, NBC Tagged: 1940s LA, Brown Derby, Columbia Square, Don Lee Mutual Broadcast System, Eleanor Parker, Errol Flynn, Hollywood Blvd., imdb, Jane Harker, John C. Austin, Joseph Ned LaRocca, KNX, LA architecture, LA History, LA Noir, Los Angeles History, Mary Jane Harker, NBC\CBS, pin-up models, pinup photography, Radio City, Radio City Hollywood, Radio Room Bar, Radio Row, Radio Row LA, Radio Shows, radiocityhollywood.com, Raul Morena, RCA, Starlet, Sunset & Vine, Tom Breneman, Warner Bros.