Highlights from the Model Image exhibition


Two photographs in the exhibition have
got interesting stories behind them in particular. This one is one of my
favorites, It was taken in 1947 when June was working at the London
casino, which was a variety venue and you can see June here, she’s fourth on the
left here in the chorus line of women who were dancers. It was a bit like the
Tiller girls at the London Palladium in the 1960s, but this was the late 1940s,
and she’s shown on stage with a singing star of the day, Lena Horne. What’s
interesting about it is June in her memoir left us some information about
what it was like to be a dancer at that time. They did two shows a day and three
on a Saturday and it was really hard work because their dressing room was up
four flights of stairs as well, so by the end of the day she said their legs felt
like jelly. During the the interval the idea was they had to walk across
the stage with glittery letters, each one had a letter that said ‘Intermission’ and
men would sometimes leave notes at the stage door afterwards that said “Would the first ‘I’ or the second ‘S’ like to meet me after the show?” And in this particular photograph we can see June a little bit later, this is the early 1950s and she’s on stage with a very popular band at the time called Edmundo Ros and his Orchestra and he was a big star at the time. But you might be
wondering why she’s on stage with a band at all if she’s modeling, and this was
something that was done in the 1950s more generally. Very often models would
appear either before or just after a performance had taken place, or backstage sometimes, for example during theatrical performances they
might go backstage, and have their photograph taken to publicise the dress
that they were wearing at the time. We have got other photographs of June,
which are not in the show, which show her backstage at the BBC studios in
London and also in the middle of the circus ring with the clowns at Barnum Circus, so we know that she did this in other venues as well and it
was a thing that models did more generally in the 1950s, but of course we
don’t do that today.

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