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The Academy was set up in 1927 by 36 leading film industry figures. Douglas Fairbanks (Godfrey Phillips, Shots from the Films)was elected its President. Very quickly it was turned into the Oscars. An annual back-slapping which has given birth to a hundred's of other industry back-slapping events.

If the image of the chap (who might be gold-plated or it might not, it might be 13.5 inches tall but then again maybe not) reminds you of your uncle Oscar then he needs help.

the stars can stroll about in them looking good.

Ardath, Film, Stage & Radio Stars (size X)

Now Oscar night has turned into a blockbuster of its own. Thousands of businesses hope to get a cut of the action (including this one.) Working your way into the 'A' list parties is an obsession with many. The stars glitter with jewellery supplied to them for the night by companies looking to use the stars as mobile bill boards. The clothes are given by the top designers so the stars can stroll about in them looking good.

But lets turn away from the clamour of today and look into the past where I have compiled the sort of 'A' list party the moguls can only dream about.

Film Stars and cigarette cards have had a long association. Just consider how many characters smoked in films of a certain era. Although cigarette cards fairly well dropped off the face of the planet in 1939 because of the longevity of film careers we can follow many of the Oscar winners past the war years. A site could be written about each and everyone of these oscar winners and no doubt somewhere there is one. Given that fact I have taken a pretty sketchy approach to details of the stars themselves. I have choosen cards from the widest variety of cigarette card sets I could find.

If you are looking for particular film stars on cigarette cards then I suggest you go to the Film Stars section which lists over 1000 of the most famous film stars on cigarette cards and are individually priced. This is backed up by a database of over 8000 different cards depicting film stars so if you are looking for a particular individual there is half a chance I can find them for you. Just drop me an email and I will give you a no-obligation quote (as ever).

Please note the card images are not necessarily from the set mentioned in the text, run your mouse over the image to see from which set they are from. Whilst on the subject just think how lucky I am that it is my job to lark about with these cigarette cards everday. It'll never change the world and it might be someones vision of hell but for me it is joy.

And in the category of best actor the winners were.

1927-8 Emil Jannings (1884-1950: Theodor Fredrich Emil Janenz)
Carreras Paramount Stars (1929)
This fellow is quite a rareity on cigarette cards (or at least on my checklist which includes well over 8000 different film star cards he only appears twice and this is the only cigarette card I have of him. I will find him on others I am sure.) The series was issued with him pretty fresh from oscar win.
1928-9 Warner Baxter (1891-1951)
Players Film Stars (1934) 1st series
The card notes he was an insurance agents, a traveller in farm implements (which has got to be uncomfortable) a sales manager and a garage proprietor. He began in 1921 in silents and made a successful transition to 'talkies' which is something a number failed to do.
By the 1940's his star was fading, ill-health had always made him look older than he was but he continued to act through his last decade perhaps in an attempt to appear in 100 movies, something he failed to do by 2 despite having slipped very firmly into B movie land. Now though only a handful of his 98 movies are ever really shown.
1929-30 George Arliss (1878-1954: Lionel Blythe)
Godfrey Phillips Characters come to life (1938).
Although the actor gets the number one card (his name begins with A) it is for the film 'The Iron Duke' he appears on this set. No mention is made of his Oscar even though the film, 'Disraeli' for which he won the award does get a mention.
1930-1 Lionel Barrymore
Gallaher Signed Portraits of Famous Stars (1935)
Older brother Ethel and John. He was a stalwart of cinema appearing in many 2 reelers before the First World War. He worked more with the advent of sound than he had before. He directed a number of films for MGM which rarely get shown and are films which have a mystery about them to some extent. 'His Glorious Night' is considered by some to be an attempt to discredt John Gilbert (an actor who seems to have plenty of conspiracy theories revolving around him.)
Godfrey Phillips: Screen Stars (pinkish colour because of my poor scanner not my poor cards) (1936)

1931-2 Fredric March (1897-1975: Fredric Ernest McIntyre Bickel)
Godfrey Phillips, Famous Love scenes.
He won the award for Dr Jeykll & Mr Hyde, rather a long reach from his role on this card as romantic lead in 'Anna Karenina' with Greta Garbo which is what this card depicts
Usually content to play the supporting role often working with his wife Florence Elridge. The card picked is representative of much of his work as he was used as romantic co-star..
Fredric Marsh: Players Film Stars series one

1931-2 Wallace Beery (1886-1949)
Ardath Famous Film Stars (1934)
Older half brother of Noah Beery. This is a man that succeeds in a glittering Hollywood line up because he is just plain ordinary. He made a number of one reelers in 1912 and in 1913 was working at Essanay. He starred with, and was briefly married to, Gloria Swanson. Paramount let him go to MGM with the advent of sound but Paramounts fears were unfounded. These were the best years of his career winning the oscar. He starred with Marie Dressler in a number of her films but with her death in 1934 he began to slip down the rankings.
1933 Charles Laughton (1899-1962)
Ardath Who is this (1936)
Son of hotelliers in Lancashire, he spent some time as a clerk in Claridges. One of the six highest paid stars on the screen. The card notes that his success made it inevitable he went to Hollywood. It also marks the first British actor to win the award. Thes set I mention him in is a 'novelty' set in the sense it only shows the stars face in close-up hence the title of the set.
Impossible to give this fellow his due. Much of his output now looks overly dramatic and dreadfully affected. He was an ugly fellow and acutely aware of that fact. Hollywood made the most of his looks by casting him in dark ugly roles for the most part. He won his oscar for the British film: The Private Lives of Henry VIII. He had a troubled relationship with Hollywood and this was pretty much reciprocated.
Laughton: Gallaher: Champions of Screen & Stage (red back)

1934 Clark Gable (1901-60: Willam Claude Gable)
Gallaher Champions of Screen & Stage (red back) (1934)
The card notes he worked in an oil-field, a lumberjack and a property-man before going into films. The breakthrough film being 'No man of her own' after years of work as an extra.
What can I say, Hollywood legend. Lionel Barrymore got him a screen test for MGM and he failed it. They were to change their mind and he was under contract with them for 23 years. 1931 he produced more movies than at any other time in his career. He won the Oscar whilst loaned out to Colombia. Something that happened due to an MGM man taking the rap for the death of a woman in a drink driving accident to keep a star out of jail. Gable was unhappy about making the movie and he was later to be unhappy about making Gone with the Wind. As they say some people have greatness thrust upon them.
Gable: Gallaher: Champions of Screen & Stage (red back)

1935 Victor McLaglen (1886-1959)
Gallaher Film Episodes (1936)
This card actually shows the Oscar winner in the film he won the Oscar for. Victor plays a 'coarse hulking Irishman'. Falling on hard times after being kicked out of the revolutionary army he comes into a bit of money by betraying his best friend which has the unfortunate consequence of killing the betrayed man. His new found wealth brings with it a cloud of suspicion. The film ends with Victor begging forgiveness as his last pleas before death takes him.
British tough guy. Fatherly intervention kept him out of the Boer War but not out of adventure. A notable boxer, Austalian gold-miner and soldier in the First World War. His brutish style was exploited to the full in the movies with role after role designed to show this side of his character. Lets say this oscar performance was not the most considered award the Academy has ever handed out. In later years Victor becomes a parody of himself, fists wheeling at any and every opportunity, his later output seems to have been largely dominated by too many punches to the head. Its an opinion.
1936 Paul Muni (1895-1967: Muni Weisenfruend)
Players Film Stars 3rd series (1938)
Lets say this fellow is an actor of his time (which is the best thing to be for anything really). It would seem he believed himself to be a great actor and was perhaps capable of subjecting others to some form of mass-hypnosis.

1937 Spencer Tracy (1900-1967)
Gallaher Film Partners (1935)
Spencer Tracy is one my my favourite actors from this period of Hollywood. On this card as the title suggests he is teamed up with Wendy Barrie. The light-hearted comedy 'Its a small world' not being one of the best.

1938 Spencer Tracy (1900-1967)
Gallaher My favourite Part (1939)
Spencer Tracy waved the Oscar above his head for the second time in a row. Well done that man. He wins it for 'Boys Town' in which he plays a priest and strangely enough he states this as his favourite part to date. Believe it or not he liked the role because it gave him so much spiritual pleasure, probably wanted to look after children and small animals as well.

Well having been critical of the last two efforts I think the sun shines out of this fellow so what's the point of me saying anything really. His best work probably comes from the 1930's and the Acadamy gets it right. A lot of his output treads a very fine line of sentimentality but usually gets away with it because underneath you feel the fellow is more likely to explode into violence rather than burst into tears. I could watch his films all day, or at least the black and white stuff, it seems to compliment his style nicely. You can keep anything he made in the 60's.
1939 Robert Donat (1905-1958)
Gallaher Film Partners (1935)
He won it for. Goodbye Mr Chips, which is still more than watchable today and only the second British film to be a vehicle for a best actor oscar performance. On the card in mention he is seen in action on 'The Thirty-nine steps.' A film with which he is probably better associated.

A wheezing asthmatic his 25 years in the film industry produced 19 films. The list of roles he turned down reads like a list of 'great films of Hollywood. He split his work between film and theatre and also Britain and the US. His illness was ever a factor and aged him considerably. In 1955 he was accompanied by oxygen cylinders just off-stage. In his last film, The Inn of Sixth Happiness (1958) he was a man clearly dying.
Donat: Gallaher: Film Partners

1940 James Stewart
Players Film Stars (1938) 2nd series
A wonderful actor who is more than missed. This time there really is too much to say so I am saying nothing, perhaps another day for this man.
1941 Gary Cooper (1901-61: Frank James Cooper)
Players Film Stars (1934) 1st

A terrifyingly young looking Gary Cooper. The card notes he is 6 ft 2 and one half tall (image is all). Christened Frank he was partly educated in England. Originally he went to Los Angeles to become a cartoonist for the newspapers and got into films through playing bit parts.

I cannot find anyway to categorise this fellows work. He was America's film industries top-earner by the end of the 1930's a decade which had seem him in some truly great roles. Pretty much making his name as a cowboy, he was an oddity. In the late 1940's things were heading in the wrong direction until High Noon came riding out of the sun and too the rescue and won him a second oscar. Once again his last film showed a clearly ill Cooper.
Gallaher: Stars of Screen & Stage (1935) Green back

1942 James Cagney (1899-1986)
Ardath From Screen & Stage (1936)
I am not a fan of the short one and I like musicals even less. Cagney won his Oscar for Yankee Doodle Dandy. Just imagine how many times I have seen his short little frame skipping about. It is my Dad's favourite film so that just goes to prove absolutely nothing. Despite my dislikes it does not matter, he did deserve an Oscar for all the seats he filled in cinema's about the world. And lets face it, its always been about money.

To redress the balance there was a time when everyone had to do a Cagney impersonation, although later this could be adapted to a Tommy Cooper for comic effect. As a kid I used to love the fact he was also shot to pieces at the end of the gangster movies and his body would dance and twist as the lead slammed into him. Not content with that he would also stagger about, a bit like a chicken without a head but usually manages to gasp out some great one-liners. What kid cannot enjoy that level of violence, forget mashing grapefruits into womens faces.
Tatley: Film Stars (1936)

1943 Paul Lukas (1895-1971)
Players, Film Stars
Something of a star in the silent era he had entered Hollywood in 1927. However the talkies were going to prove to be difficult as he did not speak a word of English. The card suggests he studied English for over 6 months and was able to remain in the front line of acting. Hmm, obviously better at languages than me. Well he was good enough to win an acadamy award and they don't just give them out to anyone. The card also mentions he had won championships for fencing and wrestling. So there really is nothing new as action heroes today seem to have made a career out of hardly speaking English, even the ones that probably can.
Mind you he was usually cast as a foreign type. He pretty much went into semi-retirement from 1945 only playing cameo roles for the most part.
1944 Bing Crosby (1905-1977: Harry Lillis Crosby)
Hignetts/Ogdens Shots From the Films (1936)/(1936)
A man that appeared to be totally at ease with the world in just about everything he did. People love that lazy good nature, always looking like he might just fall asleep at any moment for the most part. Sometimes the excitement could be generated by wondering if his pipe was going to go out. He did a series of shorts with Max Sennett in the late 20's. He naturally appeared in a long string of muscials and we all should know what I think about them by now. He won the Oscar for his portrayal of a priest (Irish of course. I am never quite sure where America would have been without the Irish, Godless and lawless I suppose if Hollywood is to believed.)
John Sinclair: Film Stars (1937)

1945 Ray Milland (1905-1986: Reginald Alfred Truscott-Jones)
CWS Western Stars (1957)
When I was too young to know better I thought X - the Man with X - ray eyes was the most fantastic film I had ever seen. Now I have become more sophisticated and having realised it is a classic I keep quiet about my love of the film (or I try to remain restrained. Myth says there is a final line as Milland pulls his eyes from his head, 'My God, I can still see.' but this was cut because it was just too much. The film is fantastic. Now lets put that little six year old's memory away for a moment.) Milland was a man before his time, he was capable of portraying the bleakness of being when nobody wanted to know that. His depiction of alcholism and despair were grand affairs. Perhaps his time was in the 50's and early 60's stuff when he was making off-beat low budget stuff. Almost a contradication in terms that off-beat could be a period when a man has found his moment in time. However by the time he re-emerged in the 1970's things were going in the wrong direction and by the 1980's you wish he had retired but you cannot blame him for the dire stuff he appeared in I suppose, nothing could have saved most of it.
1946 Fredric March
R. J. Lea Ltd Famous Film Stars F54 (1939)
Formerly a bank clerk his interest in acting began during his college years. 1927 saw him as a favourite on Broadway and he broke into films the following year. This being his second Oscar what can I add.

1947 Ronald Colman
Ardath British Born Film Stars (1934)
Bulldog Drummond is probably his best known character but it was for 'A Double Life' he picked up an Oscar. He was born in the UK. Invalided out of the army in 1916 he resumed his acting career. Eventually the bright lights of Hollywood enticed him away from his home shores and he debuted in 1920. He was offered the male lead opposite Lillian Gish in the White Sister.

1948 Laurence Olivier
Gallaher My favourite Part (1939)
Sir Larry makes something of an exacting comment on the reverse of this card. 'It may have seemed like heresy two years ago to have said that I believed English pictures were as good as American, but...' Nothing is new then, the British film industry has been in decline for as long as there has been a British film industry. At that date he claims 'The Divorce of Lady X' was his favourite part. It was his first film in technicolour.
Laurence Olivier: