Anyone fancy a slice of Hollywood Halloween cheesecake? It’s not for all tastes and some might find it a bit sickly. But if you’re not feeling too straight-laced, it should bring a smile to your face.
For the Hollywood studios, never shy about using sex to sell their movies, from the 1920s and into the 1950s, Halloween (or, more correctly, Halloweʼen) is a great opportunity to get their (female) stars into the press.
The result is a welter of truly trashy shots, some of which are simultaneously coy and suggestive while at the same time retaining a certain period charm.
In an article for LIFE magazine, Ben Cosgrove reminds us that:
Many Hollywood studios put their faith in photographs of their comeliest stars striking what, in retrospect, were perfectly absurd poses, wearing perfectly absurd outfits. The creation of these “pinup” shots — often referred to by the catchall term “cheesecake” — was a miniature industry all its own, with stylists, makeup artists, electricians, grips and other behind-the-scenes experts working with photographers and, of course, the actresses themselves to produce publicity stills.
But look just beneath the surface of these superficial images, and you’ll find some remarkable achievements and moving stories of the real women in front of the cameras. They’re putting on a show here just as they do in the movies.