During the Golden Age of Hollywood, from the late 1920s to the 1950s, a number of noted models and actresses, before they hit the big time, got in the festive spirit and posed for Halloween-related pinup photos for the movie studios they worked for.
The up-and-coming starlets in these publicity shots weren’t afraid to show a little leg as they get into the spooky spirit. They often posed with large Halloween props, like giant paper pumpkins and German composition jack-o-lanterns (quite valuable now as collectibles). Black cats, witch hats and spooky shadows also made plenty of appearances.
These are some of our favorites from the era that are a mix of fun, sexy, and glamorous.
Legendary singer and dancer Ann Miller poses with some great pumpkin candy containers in this circa 1955 pinup. One Hollywood’s great musical actresses during its Golden Age, Miller was a popular pinup during World War II.
Olga San Juan
Actress, dancer and comedian of the 1940s, Olga San Juan shows that all you need for Halloween are a giant pumpkin, cats and a pretty black two-piece.
A playful pinup of silent-screen actress and vaudeville star Esther Ralston on a spooky Halloween pumpkin set shot by fashion photographer Eugene Robert Richee, Paramount, c. 1920s.
Model and pinup girl Lillian Wells, 1940s. Wells later got into acting and is known for “Dead Reckoning,” “Down to Earth” and “Framed,” all from 1947.
Fun fact: Beloved actress and singer Debbie Reynolds never had to carve a pumpkin – she would just hug it and a big smile would appear. The fact that she’s wearing a French maid’s outfit in this 1953 publicity photo probably helps a little.
One of the biggest movie stars of her time, the always-glamorous Joan Crawford shows a lighter side in this playful publicity shot for MGM Studios in the 1930s.
Actress, artist, and singer Ethel Merman, known primarily for her distinctive, powerful voice, is a sparkling, leggy devil in 1935.
Iconic 1940s actress Ava Gardner is one of the most beautiful witches we’ve ever seen. Even the moon looks to be under her spell.
Peek-a-boo pinup girl and 1940s’ actress Veronica Lake, best known for her femme fatale roles, also makes a fetching witch.
This promo shot of Eartha Kitt for her 1954 single, “I Want To Be Evil,” is the cat’s meow.
Betty Grable reads some frightening tales in this photo taken in 1938, several years before her rise to super stardom.
Actress and World War II pinup girl Dusty Anderson dresses the part of a mischievous feline in this 1940s’ photo.
Popping out of cakes is so cliche. Popping out of pumpkins is the new it thing. Here Hollywood icon and horror queen Janet Leigh, who would go on to take the most famous shower in movie history in 1960’s “Psycho,” sets the new trend in this 1940s’ photo.
Swimming champion turned actress Esther Williams dons her best Halloween suit in this 1940s’ cheesecake photo.
Yvonne De Carlo
Famous for her betrayal of vampire Lily Munster, actress Yvonne De Carlo perches on top of a giant pumpkin as another mischievous feline.
After reading the cards, actress Myrna Loy, who was named Queen of the Movies in a 1936 poll, is foretelling that we will all have a frightfully fun Halloween.