1960s Makeup

1960s icon, Twiggy
The Eyes Have it

For most of the 1960s, makeup was an essential part of the mod look, with a heavy emphasis on the eyes. The effect was really an echo of the smoldering dark-eyed, dreamy look of the 1920s, only more so and minus the coloured lipstick. In the 60s, foundation was natural in colour and the lips pale. While it may seem bizarre, it wasn't unheard of for some girls to wear white zinc cream on their lips. The basics included:
  • Foundation to cover blemishes and even out skin tone
  • Optional blusher in pale pink or peachy tones, used sparingly
  • Black eyeliner
  • Lashings of mascara
  • Neutral or pastel eyeshadow on the lid (blues and greens were popular)
  • Dark eyeshadow in the crease
  • Highlighter just under the brow
  • Pale lipstick in baby pink, beigey pearl or silvery white

1920s "It" girl, Clara Bow.

 Popular brands of make-up in 60s youth culture included Mary Quant and in Australia, Prue Acton, who's distinctive yellow and black mascara tube was a big seller -some mascaras came in a cake form that required dampening with a wet brush and eyeliner was almost always in tricky liquid form, which required a steady hand..

Twiggy Eyes
Penelope Tree. Image by Avedon
The popularity of iconic, super-slim model, Twiggy in the second half of the decade led to a brief fashion for painted on fine-lined 'Twiggy' eyelashes, drawn with an eye pencil on the outer corners of the lower eye lids or in some cases, all the way along. Twiggy was something of a a visual contradiction...boyish in figure and hair yet ultra-feminine in her stylised, romantic eye makeup.

Essentially, the 60s look depended on drama and making an impact through the eyes - windows to the soul - rather than the traditional vivid lips and voluptuous hair and clothes of the previous decade.

Flair Magazine

Fleur Cowles. Image from the Sydney Morning Herald.
Mention Fleur Cowles to those who claim to have a pulse on style and the term 'icon' will inevitably pop up. Until I was flipping through a photo gallery at flickr and came across a shot of Flair magazine, I confess I'd never heard of her.

Intrigued by the simple red cover, with it's white lettering and strange graphic that I couldn't quite make out, I launched into some research. I discovered Cowles was born in New Jersey in 1908 and was an editor, writer, artist  and style guru of some note. After a stint as a columnist and a couple of marriages, in 1937 she became executive vice president of an advertising agency, which she co-founded with her second husband Atherton Pentigall Jr.

 Image from UT.
Flair and Fortune 
In '46 she left the agency and Pentigall behind and married Gardner Cowles Jr - heir to a Media Company which counted Look magazine among its publications. Cowles began working as associate editor at Look, which she successfully peppered up with fashion and food additions  and later worked in the same postiion at Quick magazine.

The short-lived Flair magazine was launched by Fleur Cowles in 1950 but was evidently too lavishly produced to be sustainable as a commercial venture and thus folded a year later. The magazine cost $1.60 to produce and sold for 50 cents - one of many costs that couldn't be recouped by its corporate advertising, yet it was Fleur's baby - her vision for a magazine that, according to journalist Veronica Howell, drew from the artistic ambitions of Manhattan's best magazine talent and combined "surrealist collages (Dali was a contributor), Japanese ephemera, memories of 1920s stencilled fashion plates, and the pop-up and pull-out books of their childhoods".

Owing to it's scarcity and uniqueness Flair is now a sought-after collectible on the vintage auction circuit. According to an obituary in The Guardian by Howell:
"Flair was a short-lived, loss-making, vanity project, meant to showcase the persona Fleur had invented for herself. Media professionals and students have admired it ever since its 12th and last issue appeared on US newsstands in January 1951."
"I have an idea a minute..."
Cowles, who died in 2009 at the impressive age of 101 was, as she said of herself, "an ideas person" with many skills...in addition to her editorial skills she served on various governmental committees, wrote sixteen books, was a painter and illustrator, designed tapestries, accessories and china. She was also tough and ambitious, at a time when such traits weren't considered becoming in a woman. As a result of hard work, ego, talent, an eye for art and design and a couple of fortuitous marriages, she amassed a personal fortune and in Flair, left a lasting legacy of style for students of design to admire and covet.

Oh..and I just don't know how I missed it before but I can see so easily now that that illustration on the cover is...a wing...a fitting symbol for a woman who so clearly wanted to fly.

Mid-Century Design

 El Gato Gomez

 El Gato Gomez
El Gato Gomez
Inspired by classic retro, Pittsburgh based artist/graphic designer El Gato Gomez has a perceptive eye for mid-century shapes and colours. GG's pencil and gouache pieces are far from mere reproductions..but rather quirky renditions that capture the design spirit of the era in a  captivatingly contemporary way.

Many old design features are recognizable in the paintings - such as boomerangs, elongated cats,  iconic kidney shapes and abstract shapes reminiscent of 1950s modern furmiture.

El Gato Gomez works are hot sellers on ebay and the artist also sells through his own website, which features a gallery of treats. Click the images to check out his many designs.

More on mid-century design...
Early 60s TV Table
Black Lady Lamps

My Favorite Martian

Among the hit TV series of the 1960s was the gem My Favorite Martian, which ran from September 1963 to May, 1967...107 episodes in all. The plot centres around pleasant young bachelor and newspaper reporter, Tim O'Hara and his 'Uncle' Martin, who is really a Mars anthropologist who happens to crash land his spacecraft in Los Angeles, within sight of Tim.

In a typically unlikely but endearing sit-com plot device, Tim and the stranded Martian become roommates while Martin attempts to repair his his spacecraft so he can leave primitive planet Earth and return to Mars. Meanwhile Tim agrees to keep shtum about Martins alien status and passes him off as his Uncle, while Martin of course, must conceal his advanced Martian powers from all other Earthlings - an irony...and a sacrifice, when we consider Tim is a reporter and crossing paths with a real live alien would be the story of the century.

Duffel Coats

Gloverall Duffles
In the late 1950s/early 1960s, traditional duffel or duffle coats - of the type worn by merchant sailors and the like - suddenly became very popular in an emerging youth culture. They conjured an aura of exotic mystery, travel and slight seediness...indeed, at the time, many bourgeois parents thought the duffel coat "subversive" and refused to buy them for their teenage sons and daughters.

The old-style duffel coat is made form a thick, coarse and very warm, woollen fibre that originated in the town of Duffel, in Belgium. Traditional colours include tan, black or navy blue- the coat has a hood, is lined in cosy tartan or check and has "walrus teeth' buttons - ie; oval shaped toggle style buttons made from wood or horn and attached with rope or leather cords. For convenience, duffel coats always have two deep, front pockets with cover flaps.

Farah Vintage Duffel. From asos
The style first became popular with sea-faring folk via the British Navy who issued a camel coloured duffel coat during WW1. Although often associated with the Beatniks, the association of duffel coats as a fashion statement with the youth of the late 50s/early 60s can be linked to the very early mod movement.

Part of the mod fashion philosophy was to customize iconic, traditional style elements, such as the union jack, pinstripe suits, the bulls-eye emblem etc and reinvent them as a kind of ironic, hip, rebellious fashion statement. As a classic symbol of the Navy, the duffel coat was ripe for a style snatch. The coats also had an androgynous element and were worn by both sexes.

Gloverall "Monty" duffel coat. The same as those issued by the Royal Navy duringWW1
Merrill duffel coat

Pick a Box

Pick-a-Box was an Australian  quiz show, that ran first for 10 years on the radio before expanding to TV in 1957. The two shows were aired simultaneously until 1962 and continued on TV alone until host Bob Dyer’s retirement in 1971. Pick-a-Box was the first big quiz show on National television in Australia and it became compulsory viewing for hoards of TV audiences, many of whom had only recently acquired their flickering boxes. TV didn't come to mainstream Australia until 1956 and then only in Sydney and Melbourne - the rest of the states had to wait until 1959 and in regional areas, until the early 60s.

1920s Shoes

1920s T bar shoes

Shoe design in the 1920s departed somewhat from the high button boots and jet embroidered slippers prevalent in previous decades As hemlines rose, shoes became more prominent and thus there was more to show off. Ankle straps with side buttons and  T-bars  were among the popular styles of the era. Heels were generally quite high. - 2 inch or 21 and 1/2 inch curved or block. Some shoe styles lent themselves to  decoration with sequins, clasps and diamantes, particularly for evening wear.

Toes tended to be gently pointed and arches high and beautifully shaped to flatter the foot, though towards the end of the decade more rounded toes and flatter heels were coming into vogue. Contrasting coloured heels, decorated with patterns or even rhinestones were also fashionable, as were satin pumps, decorated with clasps, beads and sequins. Popular colours of the period included bronze, black, silver, gold, navy, green and various pastels.
1920s brown "Semi-Oxford" Paragon shoe. Image from the Melbourne Museum website.
The three basic styles of pumps, ankle straps and T bars were closed toe  and were worn throughout the decade; it wasn't until the 1930s that open toed shoes made a mainstream appearance. For casual wear, women wore lower heeled Mary Janes, Oxford brogues or button up boots styles. Heel decorations were sometimes very elaborate, especially in the high fashion stratosphere of Paris - there's some wonderful sketch examples of 1920s exquisitely detailed heel work, revealed in a Parisian trade catalogue at rarefashionbooks, which you can view here.

The influence of 1920s shoe designers is still evident in many of the shoes of today - classic styles that remain eternally elegant, defying trends which come and go with the decades.

Early 20s criss-cross, 'Tango' shoes

Mid-Century Furniture

Vampt Vintage are a Sydney company specialising in mid-20th century modern designs; sourcing interesting pieces...including furniture, lighting and collectibles, from Europe, Scandinavia and Australia. If you're partial to the retro-quirky and those clean, Scandinavian lines that so defined 50s furniture design, Vampt is definitely worth a look.

1950s 'Norwegian easy chairs' from Vampt Vintage

The Turban

Will the Turban Return...?

Lana Turner. Still from The Postman Always Rings Twice
Although they were a popular item in the 1940s and can be convenient for disguising hair loss,  I can't see that particular style of turban making a major mainstream comeback - partly because they have that "just got out of the shower and rolled a towel around my head" look, despite the fact that Lana Turner does look pretty attractive in the still photo above. Of course there are turbans and there are turbans - those brightly coloured, interestingly knotted turbans many African women wear look sensational and on the right head, anything can look good.  Plus, just a simple silk scarf can look very spiff tied in a turban style.

Still from White Mischief
Turbans for women were nothing new and they were frequently worn by European women in the 1700s. However, 20th century fashion turbans on Western women were inspired by  far-way places like Africa and the Middle-East and various versions were also relatively popular in the daring 1920s, when there was a particular penchant for the exotic. In the 40s, a relatively subdued Hollywood version of the turban, as seen on Lana above, was the predominant style, though there were many elaborations to this basic style...some wildly extravagant.

40s styles could range from a headband form with a turban knot, or a turban cap which covered the whole head (sometimes with a heavy, rolled fringe poking out) and more structured turban hats such as the green number with a gold clasp in the photo above right, worn by Greta Scacchi in the film White Mischief, set in 1940s colonial Africa. Singer and actress Carmen Miranda eccentrically piled a tower of fake fruit on her turban and it became her trademark. I suppose in the loosest sense, it's a style that never really dissappeared, since there are scores of women who wear some version of the turban in many different parts of the world.

Carmen Miranda wearing  her trademark fruit.

Retro Swimwear

Swimwear manufacturer, Jantszen features a parade of delectable vintage inspired swimwear on their website (and some swinging music as well).

Getting back to Curvy
Styles are reminiscent of those classic 1950s body firming long-line suits but with a 'modern interpretation'. The range includes plenty of one-pieces plus two- piece suits with high-waisted bottoms that can be scrunched down for a different look.  Love it. Most appealing is the promise of mid-line body shirring to 'camouflage' and keep those flabby abs in check.
Black elegance, from Jantszen's retro swimwear line

Easy Pancake Recipe

Cheap and Easy
Why buy pre-made pancake mixes in a bottle from the supermarket shelves when it's just so, so easy to throw 3 fresh ingredients together and make your own? This very basic pancake mixture is possibly the easiest recipe in the world.

Pancakes make for  a very cheap dessert when mixed with fruit or jam and ice-cream  or cream and can be used with savoury toppings too.

One cup of flour
One egg
One cup of milk

Make a well in the centre of the flour and break the egg into it, stirring in as much flour as the egg will handle. Add half the milk in small amounts, stirring as you go until all the flour is absorbed. Keep beating with your spoon until bubbles rise then add the remainder of the milk gradually.

Let the mixture stand for a half hour or so, then drop a small wad of butter into a hot frying pan and pour in  some of the batter (not too much). Jiggle the pan around so the mixture spreads and when it's brown on top turn with a knife or metal egg flip and quickly do the other side. That's it! Easy -peasy.

French Doors

Let There be Light
Adding French or casement doors to your home is like adding extra windows -light comes flooding in and suddenly the home is extended to the outside world. Apart from this practical purpose, the doors themselves add an old world ambiance to a home. Traditionally they come in many elegant, ornate styles, with various numbers of panes, timber details, wrought iron work and elegant fixtures. Imagine the balcony in the picture at right with a solid door...just wouldn't look any good would it? Since I've never heard the term French door, without an "s" on the end I'm assuming their has to be two.

French doors began in the 17th century as casement windows that were extended to floor level on the upper storeys of houses. Once they'd be invented, no doubt the home dwellers would have put two and two together and realised how convenient it would be to have a window-like door you could slip in and out of. Balconies were added to upper floors and French doors placed at ground level. These days, if space and the position of the sun allows it, some houses incorporate whole walls constructed of French doors.
Image by finsbry at Flickr
Eternally in Vogue
Interior French doors. Image from Wiles Windows
While French doors work wonderfully well opening out onto a garden or terrace they're also a great idea for dividing rooms where you may wish to seal off the sound or keep in the heat but not lose the light. They can also make smaller rooms appear larger and less claustrophobic, though obviously not ideal for rooms where privacy is an issue.

Owing to the universal  popularity of French doors, there's a vast variety of styles to choose from, including  the conventional multi-paned, hinged door to contemporary bi-folding or sliding walls of doors in timber, steel and aluminium, with or without panes and embellishments.

Charity Shops

Image from BBC TV, The League of Gentlemen
Charity shops - opportunity shops, thrift shops, whatever you choose to call them, have always been serendipitous caverns of joy for the vintage bargain hunter; for the simple reason that you never know what they might turn up. That's probably the thing I like most about them...the surprise element. Alas, it's true, these days the people who run the shops are a lot more savvy about the popularity of retro and vintage; many now call in an appraiser if anything looks remotely rare, trendy and/or valuable, which I suppose is fair enough - they are a business, after all.

Seek and Ye Shall Find...
However, there are still bargains to be had if you're prepared to sift through the flotsam and jetsam...in other words, the junk that accumulates in such shops. Regional charity shops can be  particularly good - I may be stereo-typing here but in my experience, country folk tend to be hoarders but when they, or a relative, finally do organize a clear-out,  some fascinating items may be unearthed. Also there's not not so much competition customer-wise..not too many trendy city slickers running their fingers along the dress racks. One of these days I'm going to venture forth on a country opportunity hop, checking out all the charity shops in all those little country towns, untouched by urban hands.

Apart from the bargains to be had in clothes, old records, interesting lamp shades  and books etc, the charity shop is also a good place to find objects for 're-invention' - cheap vases to decoupage, clothes to renovate, dress materials to make headbands and cushions from, furniture to re-surface and/or paint - it's amazing what can be achieved with a little imagination.

I Op, Therefore I am is a collective blog written about opportunity shopping in Melbourne. The blog includes maps, addresses, hours and telephone numbers of urban shops. You can also find reviews, photographs and a find-a shop-by-suburb guide, as well as an op shop map for Geelong - so all in all a handy little reference guide for the thrift shopper.

Perhaps the one potential drawback to thrift shopping is that it's all too easy to come back with things you don't really need/want just because they're so darn cheap...but then it's for charity. Win/win situation.

Vintage Laminates

Boomerang pattern
Yellow 'cracked ice'
Quality reproduction laminates in classic vintage patterns can be hard to find but I stumbled upon some some beauties at Bars and Booths and yes, they do ship to Australia, though I'm not sure what the minimum order is. Styles include the very 50s boomerang patterns, cracked ice and edible looking pastels.

Delicious retro pink.
There's a good selection of colours, all echoing those funky kitchens and cafes of the past - in standard, commercial grade quality. Laminate sample packages are available for $15, which will be credited to the first order.

The familiar orangey-pink of vintage laminates
Interesting Fact
Lamination was actually invented by a dentist in 1938. Dr. Morris M. Blum uitilised a plastic resin that was normally used for capping and bonding teeth to laminate  a photograph of his wife! (wiki)

The Theremin

What's a Theremin...?

You know that eerie, wailing, space-age music that enhanced the music soundtracks of many a sci-fi film in the 1950s? Well that was down to an intriguing instrument called a theremin -so named, after its inventor, Leo Theremin, who patented his device as early as 1928. A ground-breaker in electronic music, it was used to good effect in the sci-fi classics The day the Earth Stood Still and It Came From Outer Space. I'm not 100% sure, so don't quote me on this but I also strongly suspect it was used in the music for the hedonistically weird beach dance scene in The Day the the Fish Came out . Even the Beach Boys took it for a whirl in Good Vibrations and more recently, it appeared in the theme tune for the BBC's Midsomer Murder series.

Still from The Day the Earth Stood Still. 1951
Easy to Learn but Hard to Master
The theremin is interesting for a number of reasons - it's reputedly the only instrument you don't need to touch in order to play it, as it has clever antennae that sense where your hands are; the pitch antennae controls the pitch you are playing, while the volume loop controls the volume. The closer your hand moves to the pitch antennae, the higher the tone and the further away your hand is from the volume loop, the louder the sound. Apparently a wide variety of tunes can be achieved, from classical, eccentric avant-garde and back again to mainstream dance tunes, such I was Meant for You, played by in the video below by Samuel Hoffman on the TV show, You Asked For It..  Whatever the tune though, there's always that soul-disturbing eerie tone to it.

Russian Research
Leon Theremin's invention initially came about as the result of the Russian governments sponsorship of research into proximity sensors (machines sensing things nearby without physical contact). Evidently Bolshevik leader Vladimir  Lenin was so impressed he requested lessons to learn how to play the instrument. The theremin also enthralled the West and there was even a concert tour of the US, featuring a classically trained  female musician playing the greats on the theremin.

Theremins have changed a bit over the years and heavy coils and vacuum tubes have been replaced by lightweight, solid state circuit boards. The theremin still has it's enthusiasts - nothing else sounds quite like it.

Robert Moog's modern Etherwave Theremin Kit
Theremin Info Page
Csirac...Australia's first computer

Kind Hearts and Coronets

Directed by Robert Hamer
Written by Robert Hamer and John Dighton

Kind hearts are more than coronets, and simple faith more than Norman blood...~Tennyson, Lady Clara Vere deVere

Kind Hearts and Coronets is a black comedy in the best of the British Ealing Studios tradition and the perfect vehicle for the considerable talents of Dennis Price and Alec Guiness. Regarded as a cinema classic, Kind Hearts in listed in the British Film Institute's top 100 films.

The Plot
In Edwardian England, Louis Mazzini(Dennis Price) is a sharp, dandified young man with a powerful sense of entitlement.  The son of an Italian opera singer but brought up in modest circumstances by his widowed mother, the young Louis was indoctrinated with tales of his mother's rich and aristocratic family lineage - a family that shunned her when she married beneath her. It's a seed of resentment that grows within the breast of  Mazzini and is intensified when, on her deathbed, his mother's request to be buried in the family vault is rejected by the noble D'Ascoynes (all 8 of whom are played by Alec Guiness).

Alec Guiness in one of his many guises...this time as Lady Agatha D'Ascoyne, a prominent suffragette.

Outraged, Louis Mazzini charts the D'Ascoyne family births and deaths closely - rejoicing when a death occurs and lamenting at the birth of twins to the Duke, though the lament is followed by relief when a bout of diptheria knocks the twins and a few more D'Ascoynes off the family tree. Working in a men's haberdashery, by chance Louis finds himself serving a particularly insufferable D'Ascoyne one afternoon, an encounter that results in the loss of his job.  Outrage turns to resolve, when Louis decides to remove those D'Ascoynes that stand between him and the Dukedom of Chalfont, which he now considers his rightful inheritance and the only way to put right the terrible injustice served upon his mother by her aristocratic relatives.

Hilarity ensues as Mazzini plots (and succeeds) to knock off the clueless D'Ascoynes one by one - Ascoyne D'Ascoyne, (son of the current Duke), Henry D'Ascoyne, Reverend Lord Henry D'Ascoyne, Lady Agatha D'Ascoyne, General Lord Rufus D'Ascoyne and Ethelred D'Ascoyne, 8th Duke of Chalfont.  Fortuitously two die naturally, before Mazzini's plans have a chance to be realised - Admiral Lord Horatio D'Ascoyne and banker, Lord Ascoyne D'Ascoyne.

Complications occur when Mazzini's childhood sweetheart Sybella (Joan Greenwood) marries a rival for money and Louis, while still maintaining feelings for Sybella,  falls for the elegant widow of one of his victims - amiable photographer Henry D'Ascoyne. Although Sybella and Louis continue to meet in his rooms, jealousy rears its ugly head and when the former's banker husband suicides as the result of pecuniary tragedy, Sybella hides the suicide note, framing Mazzini for the death. Thus, in a wonderful piece of irony, Louis Mazzini finds himself enclosed in a prison cell for the one murder he did not commit. There, he proceeds to write his memoirs...

Fetching widow Edith D'Ascoyne( Valerie Hobson) and Louis Mazzini (Dennis Price)
Both Price and Guiness are superb in the film, amply bolstered by the supporting cast.  Price's clipped, upper class accent and polished manners make him a smoothly appropriate natural 'aristocrat" while Guiness has an actor's field day, posturing in the many D'Ascoyne guises. This is a flawless comedy,  expertly directed, which pokes fun at the absurd pretensions of the British aristocracy as well as the envy of the aspirational middle-class.

Sadie, the Cleaning Lady

In November 1967, blonde, clean-living English immigrant Johnny Farnham released his new single Sadie the Cleaning Lady onto the Australian air waves and immediately he became the darling of teenyboppers, housewives and dishwater damaged, aging domestic engineers everywhere.

Farnham, with his warm and fuzzy nice-boy personality, exuded too much youthful charm to be ignored and the song was, at the time at least, the perfect vehicle for his husky, sympathetic voice. By early 1968 it was #1 on the Australian singles charts, where it remained for six weeks, only to eventually become the biggest selling single in Australia by an Australian artist in the 1960s - 180,000 copies - huge by Australian standards.

So Young. Johnny Farhnam, State Library of Victoria.
Sadie was written by Americans, Dave White, Johnny Madara and Ray Gilmore yet slotted in well with the upbeat, kind of tongue-in-cheek UK working-class sentimentality of the era - it would have made a good companion piece to King of Skiffle, Lonnie Donegan's 1960 hit, My Old Man's a Dustman. The B side, In my Room was written by Farnham and while the singer went on to see a couple more songs in the singles charts they failed to match the success of Sadie.

Farnham's career seriously sagged in the 1970s until he replaced Glen Shorrock as lead vocalist with Little River Band in the 80s,  after which, with the help of manager Glen Wheatley and songwriters Vanda and Young, a mature Farnham very successfully reinvented himself in the late 1980s and 90s as The Voice...John Farnham

 Tragic Offshoot...?
According to music writer Jeff Jenkins, talented singer Mike Furber was offered the Sadie song but rejected it, later telling Farnham's then manager, Darryl Sambell, that that early mistake signalled he was not "destined for success".

Furber suicided in may 1973, apparently having hanged himself in the garage of his Sydney home. Whether or not this was related to his own perceived sense of failure at having missed a chance at the upward trajectory to stardom, is anybody's guess but whichever way you slice it, it was a tragedy He was 25 years old.

Rediscovered Photographs

In 2006, writer and musician  Chris Kennedy discovered the long lost coloured photographs of 1950s Cleveland radio deejay, Tommy Edwards. According to Chris, the collection features over 1,700 Ektachrome slides of almost everyone who passed through his radio station from 1955-60. Think Elvis, Chuck Berry, Johnny Cash, Sonny James...just to name a few.

The book is published by Kent State University Press and is available here.

G.I. Joe

Action Classic
Hasbro's popular 12 inch G.I. Joe was introduced in 1964 and was the molded plastic front man for the toy company's Action series, G.I. being a generic term for an American serviceman. The series incorporated the four sections of the US military -Action Pilot, Action Soldier, Action Sailor and Action Marine and upon its release, the movable man was a huge success.

Given the relatively macho climate of the early 60s, Hasbro were careful never to call G.I. Joe a 'doll', since boys playing with dolls was considered not very masculine. Instead Joe was referred to as an 'action figure' - a fine distinction but evidently a significant one, as the term has become the default name for dolls for boys.

A G.I. Joe for every branch of the armed forces.
It's certainly true that G.I. Joe was all man and probably would have kicked sand in  Ken's (Barbie's metro boyfriend) face at the beach. Joe had a firm, square jaw, a steely gaze and just to seal his rugged credentials, a scar on one cheek. As the 70's approached however, the effects of Vietnam war and the protesting flower-power generation began to have a negative effect on G.I. Joe's hardcore image. Hasbro changed tack, giving him flocked hair (sissy!) and reinventing him via the less warlike concept of "The Adventures of G.I Joe".

The early G.I.Joes were individualists, however, from the 70s other "Adventure" team players came on the scene - Mike Power, Atomic Man and super-hero Bullet man. In addition there was a Kung Fu Grip action figure introduced, which had soft malleable hands that could grip with greater dexterity. When G.I. Joe was given his moving eye mechanism in 1976, Mike, Bullet Man and Eagle-Eye Joe became a team, fighting the forces of evil in the form of The Intruders--Strongmen From Another World. The 'eagle-eyes' however, were to be Joe's last evolutionary development, as the original 12 " G.I. Joe toy was retired with his military pension in 1976 .

G.I. Joe Official Site

Action Man 
In England Hasbro had sold the G.I. Joe licensing rights to Palitoy Ltd., which held them from 1966 to 1984. There he was copied and marketed with a similar military theme, under the name Action Man but over the years the company expanded the line to include other action men, such as footballers and cricketers.

The English version also got the gripping rubber hands, eagle eyes and even a special version, "Talking Military Commander", where a string was pulled and commands were barked out. These dolls too,  were eventually discontinued, in 1984...but relaunched as a smaller scale version in the early 1990s.

Old soldiers never die, they just quietly fade away...

Action Man HQ

1950s Cocktails

The 1950s conjures images of sophisticated men in black suits and women with coiffed hair, in voluminous skirts, sitting on the crazy-paved patio, sipping cocktails. Cocktails weren't invented in the 50s of course but the decade did take to them with gusto and it was an inventive period for alcoholic mixtures.

Gin (mother's little helper) was the big drink of the 50s and the basis for many cocktail concoctions - classics included martinis, highballs, screwdrivers, champagne punches, mint juleps and Tom Collins's. Here's a few recipes for  drinks popular in the mid 20th century:

The Pink Squirrel
Pretty Pink Squirrel
The pink squirrel was especially favoured by women and although its true origins have been the subject of dispute, a Milwaukee joint, called Bryant’s Cocktail Lounge, claims credit for its invention

3/4 oz creme de noyaux---> a red tinged, French liqueur with almond flavouring
3/4 oz white creme de cacao
1 1/2 oz of  cream or a scoop of ice-cream!
    Pour all the ingredients plus crushed ice into a cocktail shaker....shake well and  and strain into chilled, fancy cocktail glasses.

    Brandy Smash
    Not exacty obscure but a fine old drink with the zing of mint, especially appealing to the sweet tooths.

    2 and 1/2 ozs of Brandy
    1 oz of club soda
    1 tsp of fine sugar
    A slice of orange
    1 maraschino cherry
    4 fresh sprigs of mint
      Grab a glass and lightly mix the sugar, mint sprigs and club soda. Add the brandy, give everything a decent stir and garnish with the orange slice and cherry.

      Gin and Sin
      This one sounds dangerous...but nice.

      1 and 1/2 ozs of  Gin
      1 oz of lemon juice
      1 oz of sugar syrup
      1 tsp of Grenadine
        Shake up with ice in a cocktail shaker and strain into cocktail glass.

        Sea Breeze
        This cranberry cocktail, invented in the 1920s was popular in the 50s up until1958, when the US Health Department announced that the cranberry crop had been tainted by toxic herbicides - kind of put people off and it didn't become popular again until the 1970s.

        1 and 1/2 ozs of vodka
        4 oz fresh grapefruit juice
        1 and 1/half ozs of cranberry juice
        1 lime wedge

        Put everything into a highball glass, stir  and decorate with a lime wedge. For a foamy finish, shake in cocktail mixer.

        Classic Champagne Cocktail
        An eternally popular drink and definitely big in the 50s.

        1 sugar lump
        1 or 2 dashes of Angostura bitters
        1 measure of brandy
        4 measures of chilled champagne
        1 slice of orange

        Place sugar lump into a chilled cocktail glass and saturate with the bitters. Add the brandy and top up the glass with champagne. Decorate with a slice of orange.

        The Dry Martini
        5 or 6 ice cubes
        Half measure of dry vermouth
        3 measures of gin
        1 green olive

        Place ice cubes into a mixing glass, pour the vermouth and gin over and stir (don't shake!) vigorously without splashing. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and serve with a green olive.

        The Atomic Cocktail
        The atomic cocktail was a purely 1950s invention, inspired by the nuclear testing that was going on at the time. I'm not 100% sure of this one -might be a bomb, as I've heard it described by one person as 'disgusting'. Hmm.

        1 1/2 ozs vodka
        1 1/2 ozs brandy
        1 teaspoon sherry
        1 1/2 ounces Brut champagne

        Pour the vodka, brandy and sherry over the cracked ice and stir well. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and add 1 1/2 to 2 ounces cold brut champagne.
        A compodium of atomic cocktails that promises to blast your socks off.

        Don't forget to serve some period appropriate hors d'oeuvres to your guests in between drinks...such as, fancy canapes (devilled ham, savoury mushrooms), ham and egg balls, cocktail sausages, fruit cups, stuffed eggs, asparagus rolls, cheese straws, cocktail frankfurts, stuffed olives, devils on horseback...