NP: NP, ca. 1920s-1950s. Original photograph(s). Hardcover. Oblong small folio. 13x20". Black cloth boards with metal bolt binding. This collection is comprised of an album of mounted photos as well as loose photographs and other ephemera. The collection contains more that 150 original photographs, and an additional 6 original camera negatives. The photo album has the photographs mounted onto heavy black cardstock, one or two images per pages (often a pair of 8x10"s), with single-sided leaves. A group of 17 full leaves as well as 6 half-leaves have come loose or been cutout from the photo album, but are present. Images in the collection are in a number of different sizes ranging, from 3.75x4.75" to 10x13" (most are an average of 8x10"), types including sepia-toned and silver gelatin prints, and include matte, glossy and textured paper stocks.
Among the figures photographs are countless Hollywood actors, movie stars, singers, and other celebrities including:
William Powell, Donald Crisp, Robert Young, Olivia de Havilland, James Cagney, Walt Disney, Rita Haywoth, Judy Garland, Boris Karloff, Clark Gable, Jimmy Stewart, Dorothea Wieck, Gene Autry, John Boles, Jeanette MacDonald, Errol Flynn and Bob Hope. Numerous other currently unidentified Hollywood actors and industry figures are shown, including quite a number of film studio executives and members of the press/media.
Of the photographs, 38 are signed and/or inscribed, including:
Norma Shearer, Bette Davis (x2), Maurice Chevalier, Shirley Temple, Spencer Tracy, June Marlowe, Joan Crawford, Loretta Young, director Frank Borzage, Lupe Velez, Myrna Loy, Gladys George, El Brendel, House Jameson (radio actor), Douglas Fairbanks, Marguerite De La Motte, Nelson Eddy, May Robson, Freddie Bartholomew, Eleanor Powell, Margaret Sullavan, Irene Dunne and Ginger Rogers.
The many of the photos in the collection show Merle Potter, or are inscribed to him, often catching him in casual or relaxed moments, socializing with the various celebrity figures, and/or actors on Hollywood film sets or Midwestern promotional events. Many photos, credited to quite a number of different photographers, display a similar style to that of the acclaimed Hollywood photographer Murray Garrett and his mater-of-fact style, with the images capturing these cultural figures in candid and unaffected moments. Some photos in the collection are however, traditional glamour portrait shots. A number of later photos in the collection show Potter with his wife Edith.
A large group of photos and ephemera deal with the relationship between Potter and actress/singer Susanna Foster (aka "Suzanne" or "Suzan Larsen"), and his efforts to promote her career in Hollywood (Jan-Mar 1937). Foster is most know for her leading role as as the young soprano, Christine, in the 1943 film version of Phantom of the Opera. Potter, who like the young prospective star was from Minneapolis, seems to have acted as a mentor/guardian figure to her, and accompanied her as she made her way in Hollywood. Photographs (including an inscribed photo), show Foster accompanied by Potter, traveling, meeting Hollywood celebrities and having fun. Included are a number of portraits as well. Documents include 3 copies of invitations to a recital by "Suzanne" at the Nicollet Hotel in Minneapolis, "presented by Carl J. Johnson and Merle Potter", a letter from the Hotel management concerning her performances, copies of bills from the hotel, a handwritten note from Carl Johnson concerning the performances, and two typed letter from the law offices of Safford, Puttnam & Campbell concerning her contract with MGM. Also included is a telegram to Potter from production manager William "Bill" Koenig, also formerly a fellow resident of Minneapolis, thanking him for bringing Foster to the studio's attention (there are photos in the collection showing Potter and Koenig talking), and finally an 8-page letter to Potter from Susanna Foster thanking him for his support, discussing her new life in Hollywood, and her experience going to grooming school with Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland etc.
Other included ephemera:
- Two 8.5x11" b/w sketches in pen.
- "The Palimpsest" (July 1931). 257-288pp. State Historical Society of Iowa. Printe wrappers. Some light pen markings in the margins throughout.
- 17x20" folded advertisement, w/ a review by Merle Potter, for the film 'Three Smart Girls', Minneapolis Journal, Dec. 27th 1936.
- A Brochure for the 1947 National Hobo Convention in Britt, Iowa.
- "So This is Peace" by Bobe Hope. 82pp. Softcover. Missing wrappers.
- Typed 2- page letter to Potter, praising his tenure as editor of "The Minnesota Daily", student newspaper of The University of Minnesota. Dated May 18th, 1916
- French postcard, dated Jan 29th 1908.
Binding with light rubbing and/or bumping to the corners. Some scratches and smudges to the front and back cover. Some leaves loose or loosening from the binding. Loose leaves with some rubbing, creasing and/or closed tears along the edges and corners. Some photos in the collection have minor to light smudges and/or scratches and creasing along the edges. One photograph on a loose leaf seems to have been over-painted. Many of the loose leaves, and some of the other loose photograph are slightly bowed. Images overall are clean and bright. Binding in very good, interior in very good- condition. Loose photos in good+ to near fine condition overall. g+ to near fine. Item #43421
* Merle A. Potter (Cornwith, IA 1894 - Los Angeles, 1960) was an American film/theater critic, journalist, publicist, writer, theater manager, and army officer. Potter studied at the University of Minnesota, and graduated in 1916, a member of their first journalism class. He also served as editor of the school's newspaper, "The Minnesota Daily" during his senior year. Starting out as a journalist at the "Minneapolis Journal" in 1925, he soon thereafter transitioned to more of an entertainment columnist and critic, which included writing film and theater reviews and covering entertainment news. Potter started to come to regional attention with his extensively researched and engagingly written column on local Minnesota history, in the Sunday editions of the Journal. He quickly became known as great storyteller and supplemented his written work with speaking engagements, regaling attendees at events with fascinating stories of Minnesota's long forgotten history. His work with the increasingly popular history column lead to a published book of these stories in 1931, titled "101 Best Stories of Minnesota". During this time Potter also continued with his other entertainment writing and by the early 1930s had built up quite a reputation in the Midwest as an entertainment journalist and critic. He made friends with many of the biggest movie stars and celebrities of the era on his many trips out to Hollywood during this time and during publicity tours brought big names to the midwest. These Hollywood connections, his publicity acumen and personal charisma, lead him to become successful in promoting the careers of many local talents, and help them build careers in Hollywood and the entertainment industry. Potter's name became just as well known for the constant string of newspaper contests, which he sponsored and promoted in the Minneapolis area, as his columns. When the Minneapolis Journal was bought out by rival "The Minneapolis Times-Tribune", in 1939, Potter continued with the new paper. In 1940 the paper canceled Potter's column, and he went to work managing as a manager of several local theaters, for a few of years. Later during the middle of WWII he volunteered for the Red Cross and later applied for a military program to train to become civil administration officer. Having been commissioned as a Captain, he went on the serve as Public Relations officer of the XII Cops of the Third Army. Potter ended up serving as the Military Governor of Bad Kissingen from 1945-1947. By 1949 he had left the military and moved to Los Angeles, with his second wife Edith. He remained there until his death in 1960.