Fan Magazine Fun: “If I Were a Man…”

1920s fan magazines are an endless source of trivia, fun anecdotes, touches of serious journalism, and of course, oodles of fluff pieces. Take the following irresistible article from Picture-Play Magazine, from the March 1927 issue:

If I Were a Man 1

Here’s the headline on the opposite page (as you can see, the article was compiled by Dorothy……………Wooldridge):

If I Were a Woman 2

A bunch of actors and actresses were asked what annoyed them about the opposite sex the most–and who knows if they were asked personally, or if their publicists responded. Either way, some of the answers are most amusingly 1920s. 

Here’s a frank answer from Constance Talmadge: “If I were a man, I wouldn’t smoke perfumed cigarettes. I wouldn’t smoke a strong pipe. I wouldn’t ask every other person whether he or she thought the bald spot on the back of my head was noticeable. I wouldn’t tune in on an Hawaiian orchestra on the radio and then next day tell my friends that I had got Honolulu. Nor would I laugh at my own stories before the other chap had a chance.” (I guess there was an epidemic of guys bragging about their far-flung radio signals back then…)

Norma Shearer appeeeeared to be drawing on personal experience: “I wouldn’t wear loud ties and I wouldn’t quarrel with my wife in public, not talk about business after business hours. I wouldn’t say, ‘Meet the wife!’ when I introduced a friend to my better half, and I wouldn’t telephone home ten minutes before I left the office and say that I was bringing a friend home for dinner.”

Pola Negri‘s complaints frankly made me long for the days when men at least tried to seem cultured: “I wouldn’t recite Robert W. Service and Rudyard Kipling for hours at a stretch at the slightest opportunity. While the works of these poets are magnificent, nothing is quite so boring as a sentimental gentleman on a Service or Kipling rampage. To the many men afflicted with this annoying practice I recommend that they memorize at least one or two poems of other poets for sake of variety.” (Oh poor you, Pola! Allow me to comfort you with a song from this teeny weeny violin.)

Laura La Plante was none too fond of certain popular hairstyles: “If I were a man, I would not wear my hair either fluffy, a la impresario, nor sleeked down with grease. Neither looks natural.” Sorry, Valentino! And, err, Charlie Chaplin too, maybe?

Eleanor Boardman was a modern woman, thank you very much: “I wouldn’t try to be facetious, nor boast about all the women I knew. I wouldn’t try to be the ‘life of the party,’ and I wouldn’t ask a lady’s pardon when I said ‘Damn!’ I’d give her the benefit of the doubt and believe that she was modern enough to say ‘Damn!’ too. And I wouldn’t tell people that my wife was just an old-fashioned girl.”

Helene Chadwick had but one gripe, and one gripe alone: “I wouldn’t wear golf trousers and loud socks on city streets. I believe such apparel is nice for the links, but not a bit appropriate for downtown.”

So what were some of the menfolk’s biggest complaints?

George K. Arthur declared: “If I were a woman, I would not make speeches before literary clubs, nor rave about Browning in all my spare moments. I wouldn’t blow smoke through my nose nor affect an interest in prize fights that I didn’t feel. I wouldn’t wear rolled stockings nor have a boyish bob.”

Rod La Rocque said, with a touch of wry sarcasm: “If I were a woman, I wouldn’t fall for men–maybe! What can a beautiful, soft, perfumed creature see in a bearded, uncouth, tobacco-fouled ruffian like the majority of us superior males?” (As it turns out, it’s a good thing for Rod that these perfumed creatures do like tobacco-fouled ruffians–he and Vilma Banky were happily married for decades.)

Ernest Torrence had one specific gripe: “I wouldn’t powder my nose and rouge my lips in public. To preserve the illusion, if any, that her beauty is natural, a woman ought at least to put on her war paint only in private.”

Neil Hamilton carefully and diplomatically observed: “If I were a woman, I would not attempt to drive an automobile from the backseat. The only trouble with that statement is that it applies to men nearly as much as it does to women. Women have no monopoly on backseat driving, but they are fairly well represented.”

Much like Norma Shearer’s, Wallace Beery‘s complaints seem pretty autobiographical: “I wouldn’t say ‘My dear!’ nor ‘Don’t you just love it!’ nor ‘Isn’t it just adorable!’ I’d also not insist that my husband have dinner at home when I had a group of my friends at the house. Neither would I make engagements without first consulting him. And last of all, I certainly wouldn’t insist that he play chauffeur with me or for my friends when our regular driver isn’t available.”

(Can you see why reading old fan magazines is a hobby that takes up a significant chunk of my existence?)

To read more of these answers, here’s the link to the full article. Enjoy!

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8 thoughts on “Fan Magazine Fun: “If I Were a Man…”

  1. Just found your wonderful blog while taking a break from a work project. Re: old movie magazines – the ads are hilarious – in some cases more entertaining than the articles! Look forward to binge reading your posts.

    • So glad you like the article, jacullman! i totally agree, the amount of hilarity contained in those old ads/letters/fluff pieces are worth their weight in gold.

      Welcome to Silent-ology! Drop in anytime. 🙂

  2. Pingback: Silent-ology Turns Four Today! | Silent-ology

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