Page 26. " a girl can't go to Sing Sing with a green face "
Old cell block, Sing Sing Prison 1938
Public DomainOld cell block, Sing Sing Prison 1938 - Credit: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division

Sing Sing is a maximum security prison in Ossining, New York,  about 30 miles north of New York City on the banks of the Hudson River.

It derives its name from the Native American Sinck Sinck tribe, from whom the land on which it stands was purchased in 1685. It currently houses about 1,700 prisoners.

The expression "being sent up the river" - a euphemism for being sent to prison - has its origins in the trip prisoners from New York City made to Sing Sing, up the Hudson River.

Page 28. " I figured Bergdorf was trying to collect "

Bergdorf Goodman's main store on Fifth Avenue
Creative Commons AttributionBergdorf Goodman's main store on Fifth Avenue - Credit: Christopher Peterson
Bergdorf Goodman is a luxury goods department store on Fifth Avenue, Manhattan.  It was founded in 1899 by Herman Bergdorf. 

The main store, which opened at its current location in 1928, is located on the west side of Fifth Avenue. A separate men's store, established in 1990, is located on the east side of Fifth Avenue, directly across the street.

Page 31. " a Libertyphone "
Public DomainLibertyPhone - Credit: EMGColonel

The Libertyphone was an American portable radiogram.  It was first manufactured in New York City in 1935, and was sold by Liberty Music Shops.  It had an auto-changer which would automatically play up to nine records.  The radiogram was housed in a portable leather box.



Page 33. " But that was before The Story of Dr. Wassell "
The Story of Dr. Wassell
Public DomainThe Story of Dr. Wassell - Credit: MCA Universal

The Story of Dr. Wassell was a World War II film directed by Cecil B. DeMille in 1944, set in the Dutch East Indies. It starred Gary Cooper, Laraine Day, Signe Hasso, and Dennis O'Keefe.

The film was based on the life of Dr. Corydon Wassell, an Arkansas doctor and naval officer, declared a WWII hero for saving 12 injured men by transporting them from Java to Australia. Wassell was awarded the Navy Cross.

The Story of Dr. Wassell opened in New York on D-Day, June 6, 1944.

Page 33. " Ask Luise Rainer "
Luise Rainer in a still from film The Great Ziegfeld
Public DomainLuise Rainer in a still from film The Great Ziegfeld - Credit: MGM Studios

Luise Rainer (born 1910) was a Jewish German film actress.  After making a few films in Austria, she was offered a three-year contract with MGM and came to Hollywood in 1935.  In Hollywood, she made seven big films and won two Oscars (the first woman to do so).  However she did not enjoy stardom and, disillusioned by Hollywood, she returned to Europe.

She later returned to the stage and to the small screen, and took some minor parts in movies. She also studied medicine and did charity work with displaced children in Europe.  She celebrated her centenary in London in 2011. 

Page 34. " We modelled her along the Margaret Sullavan type "

Margaret Brooke Sullavan (1909-1960) was an American stage and film actress. She began her career on stage in 1929. She made her movie debut in 1933, with Only Yesterday.  She made 16 movies, but preferred the stage. 

She was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress in Three Comrades (1938).


Page 36. " What's David O. Selznick's number "
David O. Selznick
Public DomainDavid O. Selznick - Credit: United Artists

David O. Selznick (1902-1965) was an American film producer.  He began his Hollywood career in 1926, as an assistant story editor at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.  He left MGM for Paramount Pictures in 1928.  In 1931 he joined RKO as Head of Production. In 1933 he returned to MGM.  His father-in-law, MGM CEO L.B. Mayer, established a prestige production unit specifically for Selznick.

Despite enjoying great success with MGM, Selznick left in 1935 to establish his own studio, Selznick International Pictures, which distributed its films through United Artists.  He is best known for producing Gone with the Wind (1939) and Rebecca (1940); both won Oscars for Best Picture.

Page 38. " mutiny resulting in his being deposited on the Dry Tortugas "

The Dry Tortugas are a small group of islands located at the end of the Florida Keys, USA. 


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Page 38. " before the war he'd proposed to Unity Mitford "

Unity Valkyrie Mitford (1914-1948) was a member of the aristocratic Mitford family, which traces its origins back to the 11th century.  Her sister Diana was married to Oswald Mosley, leader of the British Union of Fascists. 

Unity and Diana Mitford travelled to Germany as part of the British Union of Fascists delegation in 1933.  They stayed on in Germany, and became prominent and public supporters of Nazism and fascism.  Unity was part of Hitler’s inner circle of friends and confidants from 1936.

At the outbreak of war in 1939, Diana returned to England, where she was arrested and imprisoned.  Unity remained in Germany, and attempted suicide by shooting herself in the head.  Although she survived, the bullet could not be removed, and she never fully recovered.  She died several years later as a result of meningitis caused by cerebral swelling around the bullet.

Page 38. " at 'One Touch of Venus' preem "
Ava Gardner in a still from the 947 film The Hucksters
Public DomainAva Gardner in a still from the 947 film The Hucksters - Credit: MGM

One Touch of Venus was a musical, with music by Kurt Weill, which satirized contemporary American suburban values, artistic fads and romantic and sexual mores.  The original Broadway production opened in October 1943 and ran for over 560 performances.

The musical was made into a 1948 film, starring Ava Gardner and Robert Walker.  The movie seems to have strayed too far from the Broadway production, however, and it received poor reviews.

Page 39. " I wake up one fine morning, and have breakfast at Tiffany's "
Tiffany's Flagship store, Manhattan.jpg
GNU Free Documentation LicenseTiffany's Flagship store, Manhattan.jpg - Credit: Dmadeo

Tiffany & Co is a luxury goods corporation, headquartered in Manhattan.  It sells jewelry, silverware, china, crystal, stationery, fragrances, personal accessories and leather goods. It is particularly famous for its diamond jewelry. 

The company was founded by Charles Lewis Tiffany and Teddy Young in 1837, as a "stationery and fancy goods emporium".  Since 1940, Tiffany's flagship store has been located at the corner of Fifth Avenue and 57th Street, Manhattan. 

They do not serve breakfast.



Page 40. " Maria Ouspenskaya "

Maria Ouspenskaya (1876-1949) was a Russian silent film actress. She was a founding member of the First Studio, part of the Moscow Art Theatre. 

When the Moscow Art Theatre visited New York in 1922, Ouspenskaya decided to stay there. She performed regularly on Broadway over the next decade. In 1929, together with a colleague from the Moscow Art Theatre, she founded the School of Dramatic Art in New York. 

In the late 1930s, she acted in various Hollywood films, usually playing European characters of various national origins. Her first Hollywood role, in 1936, earned her an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress.  

Page 41. " Chinatown? "
Pell Street, looking west towards Doyer and Mott
GNU Free Documentation LicensePell Street, looking west towards Doyer and Mott - Credit: chensiyuan

Chinatown, Manhattan, is home to the largest enclave of Chinese people in the Western hemisphere, and is one of the oldest ethnic Chinese enclaves outside Asia.  It’s one of seven Chinatown neighborhoods in New York City. 

The first Chinese person credited as having permanently immigrated to Chinatown was Ah Ken, a Cantonese businessman, who arrived around 1858.  He opened a Park Row cigar shop, around which Chinatown developed, centred on Mott, Park, Pell, and Doyers Streets.  By 1870 there was a Chinese population of 200, rising to 2,000 by 1882, and 7,000 by 1900.  Today, Chinatown has a population of 90-100,000 people. 


Mott Street
Public DomainMott Street - Credit: Derek Jensen
Page 43. " Christmas stuff for the Ba-ba-zaar "

Harper’s Bazaar is an American women's monthly fashion magazine, first published in 1867. The magazine is published by Hearst, and is marketed as the style resource for "women who are the first to buy the best, from casual to couture." 

Carmel Snow ran the magazine as editor-in-chief from 1933 to 1957.  She’s credited with revolutionising fashion shoots – taking fashion photography out of the studio and bringing motion, life and a sense of adventure to her magazine spreads.


Fashion shoot, taken by Olive Cotton, photographer in the shot is Max Dupain, 1937
Public DomainFashion shoot, taken by Olive Cotton, photographer in the shot is Max Dupain, 1937 - Credit: Olive Cotton, National Gallery of Australia