1920s Pop Culture – Swoonworthy Leading Men

In order to make East of Yesterday a fully immerse experience, I decided to look up some 1920s eye candy, and what better way to start than with Hollywood?

RudolphValentinoRudolph Valentino

Broody Rudolph sports a slicked-back look, a clean-shaven face and often, a cigarette. While reading his background, I learned that the only job he could hold down before becoming an actor was as a taxi-dancer, another part of 1920s pop culture that I had no idea about.

Valentino led a colorful, short life. His masculinity came into question and men compared him unfavorably to Douglas Fairbanks. Men who tried to ape Valentino’s slick look were called Vaselinos.

Douglas FairbanksDouglas Fairbanks Sr (1926 The Black Pirate)

So here he is. Confident and sinewy, Fairbanks played the perfect pirate, swashbuckler and superhero. If he were around today, I can see him sporting his abs. But in the 20s, biceps and pecs were apparently the thing, as they are featured in many of his pictures. I wonder if he shaved his chest for this shot.

Gotta love the swooning girl.

JohnGilbertJohn Gilbert

I had not heard of John Gilbert before, but he was another of Valentino’s rivals. His career spanned the 20s and the early 30s. He successfully made the transition to voice acting, but he became the victim of a producer who couldn’t stand him, and therefore fulfilled his contract with Gilbert by giving him inferior films.

Gilbert made the best of it, and after a few flops, finally got good roles again. But it was too late; his career never revived, even though Greta Garbo, pictured with him here, tried to help.

I think I like his look the best of the three.

4 Thoughts to “1920s Pop Culture – Swoonworthy Leading Men”

  1. I’m curious how you’ll work these leading men into your story. They should make interesting — and eye-catching — background. {SMILE}

    Anne Elizabeth Baldwin

  2. I don’t think I’ll be able to work these guys in, but they may play bit parts if my characters go to the movies. 🙂

    1. I didn’t mean you’d work them in as characters. I meant working them – or one or more of their movies – into conversation and such. For instance, I’d be more surprised if you didn’t find a way to work in a line about those Vaselino fellows than if you did. That one’s just too good to leave alone in my opinion. {SMILE, wink}

      You could also have one or more of the local ladies ask your heroine who she prefers before she’s really familiar enough with them to have a strong opinion. That could seem strange to the local ladies, since EVERYONE knows about Valentino and Fairbanks, and all the ladies know which they prefer. Kind of like high school girls in the 60’s knowing which Beetle was each one’s favorite. {wink, Smile}

      Anne Elizabeth Baldwin

    2. P.S. For instance, a line about “Vaselinos” would be perfect for some fellow who’s so contemptuous of the type he HAS to jealous! {REALLY BIG almost-nice GRIN}

      Anne Elizabeth Baldwin

Comments are closed.