Why is This Woman Smiling?


For once, the question in this post’s title is neither rhetorical nor a setup for a joke, though I suppose the answer is obvious. She’s having her picture taken. But this leads me to the next question: Why did this lady dress like a medieval princess to have her picture taken?

If you do a search for “King Arthur” in Google’s nifty archive of images produced for Life Magazine, you bring up a whole slew of images tagged only by date, “May 1952”, photographer, “George Skadding”, and subject, “King Arthur”.  This is one of those hits.

Filed along with our Truman-era Guenevere are pictures of men and women, mostly college-aged, all dressed like extras on an Errol Flynn movie.  Festivities of this mystery day in May of ’52 include an archery contest, a mock naval battle, a sock-hop, and a feast attended by jongleurs.  My first thought is an early Renaissance Faire, but it seems several shades more awesome than any faire I’ve ever seen, and it’s tagged under “King Arthur,” not “Renaissance Faire.”  There was a Connecticut Yankee movie made in 1952–the one for “Studio One” that starred Boris Karloff, but this event has no obvious connection to it.  Certainly, there’s no Karloff to be seen anywhere.

So, does anyone out there know why Life would be sending a famous photographer to a rockin’ King Arthur-themed medieval party in May, 1952?

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Kimberly

    That wonderful fount of knowledge known as the Internet Movie Database says that the Boris Karloff version of A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court originally aired on 19 May 1952… perhaps that’s the connection?

    Perhaps these were early movie nuts who hung out for months before the movie premiered wearing all manner of period costumes, a la Star Wars?

  • DerekL

    It’s probably tagged “King Arthur” rather than “Renaissance Faire” because the latter term hadn’t been coined yet.

    It’s my impression that the tags are based on Life’s original filing system. My experience browsing about seems to support that because in many places they use slightly archaic terms for various things.

  • rastronomicals

    A humble suggestion.

    Love reading your posts. What’s especially entertaining to me is your need to endlessly footnote your posts such that a superscript like ******** is actually somewhat common.

    However. What’s a drag is scrolling down the page to find the footnote. ‘Course, then you get the joy of actually reading the footnote but then comes the drag of scrolling back up, trying to find where you had left off reading the main post.

    Just as a suggestion, here’s a pretty easy way of eliminating these chores for your gentle readers.

    In the body, where you want to footnote, simply insert the following two pieces of html code

    <a name="rejoin1"></a><a href="#footnote1">* </a>

    Then when you’re done with your post and writing the footnote, you insert the following before writing the note

    <a name="footnote1"></a>

    and insert the following after the note

    <a href="#rejoin1">(back)<a>

    Just change the numbers upwards as you add more and more of the beloved notes.

    This way your readers can click back and forth between body and notes without getting lost, and I know this works on Blogger because I have done it on my blog *.

    Hopefully you’ll take this suggestion in the humble and helpful spirit that it is intended. I certainly don’t mean to find fault with what is a most entertaining blog, and one I enjoy visiting.

    Thanks.

    *Sumbitch, rastro has a blog (back)

  • William the Starbreaker

    Maybe it’s an Arthur themed singles mixer?

    A full day of feats of strength to impress the ladies, followed by a drunken feast and scandalously unchaperoned dance.

  • Jen

    It’s some kind of college festival. A search of “medieval” turned up this picture from the same issue.

  • bjørn

    I believe I’ve solved your mystery. ‘Life’ mis-tagged those photos. They should be ‘Robin Hood’, not King Arthur. The smiling girl you’ve got there is Joan Rice, who played Maid Marion in Disney’s “Robin Hood and His Merrie Men”, released June, 1952. Joan Rice was on the cover of Life in July, 1952. If you look at enough of the Life photos, they’re clearly Robin Hood, not Arthur. Must have been a pre-release publicity event.

  • bjørn

    p.s. Isn’t Google wonderful? I’d never heard of her or the movie.

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