“He whose face gives no light shall never become a star.”
The Ross Company bought images from the film studios and though we know that the work of some significant photographers such as Clarence Bull, George Hurrell and Emile Hoppé appeared on the cards, they were rarely credited. It was also the situation that various film studios developed a particular look for their stars that depended on lighting angles and background. The photographers tended to work within tight guidelines. The film studio was a place for manufacturing stars and the story of these cards then is really a case study in economics, how a product is created and marketed to the world. Here it isn’t the actors or the cinema but the idea of glamour and sophistication. For the first time these qualities weren’t innate to wealth or position. Even a farm girl could look the epitome of cool elegance if she was photographed the right way.
As his name might indicate, Ross was Jewish and during the 1930s the Nazis took control of Ross Verlag. He left Germany in 1939 and ended up in Chicago, where he died in the 1940s. An exhaustive history of the company including the publishing details of thousands of cards can be found here at www.rosscards.com. The photos in this gallery include Ross cards, of course, but also French and Turkish examples, of actors, beauty queens and Jack Dempsey, who was neither of the above but was at least an iconic symbol of the 1920s.
VIEW THE GALLERY HERE