Friday, January 16, 2009

The Final Chapter: Lassoed!

The previous chapter in our tale of stray cowgirl ended with a thud, the painting had vanished just days before I had asked about it. After this anticlimax I periodically emailed Judy who had taken up the cause, and she made careful inquiries to the local authorities, but to no avail. Over the next two years nothing changed until three weeks ago when I received an email from Judy. I had assumed it would be news of the same but was thrilled to learn that the painting had turned up, left at the office door of an Odgen city councilman with an anonymous note that the painting should go back to its rightful owner.
I had thought our Bolles girl was lost forever but she was back in the saddle. The locals were especially thrilled because this year marks the 75th anniversary of the Pioneer Days rodeo. The are planning a special exhibit for the Whoopee Girl and I hope to provide an entry on Enoch. By the way the Whoopee Girl label (misspelled Whoopie in the article) did not originate with the rodeo. They initially called her the Odgen girl and probably got the idea from the 1929 movie, Queen of the Nightclubs, starring the incomparable Texas Guinan. Follow the link and you'll see the trailer where she was described as the Whoopee Girl. If I can dig it up I'll update this post with a photo from a W.C. Fields movie showing a chorus girl wearing the prototype of the Whoopee Girl outfit.

So there you go. This is just one example of the lengths it can take to hunt down an original Bolles. Right now I'm on the trail after not one but two additional originals, a Film Fun cover from 1925 and another from 1938. With some luck I'll soon post an epilogue to this story that will feature a photo of the actual Whoopee Girl painting. If it's anything like other Bolles originals you'll be amazed at all the additional detail and character gets left off the magazine cover.

Addendum: I found a couple photos of the original costume but then spotted another better shot from Greenbriar Picture Shows, a really scholarly but fun site with simply amazing photos. So I swiped it off the site. Take a look at the outfits, they are pretty much identical to the Bolles cover (yes, he did swipe from photos and I'll share more examples). I just noticed Baby Leroy is in this pic. My dad knew him (as an adult), though there were several. It was sort of like Menudo, once the kids got too old the studio replaced him with a fresh model.' But the most notable thing about this photo is that W.C. Fields is working with both animals and children.

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