Help Identifying A Photo

Hi there guys,  today I am looking for your help and I’m hoping that someone can fill me in on the details of the attached photo. A reader of this blog had asked me for help in knowing where it came from,  and unfortunately I cannot remember all of the details. From what I remember,  and I grant,  I could be way off,  but the girl in the photo getting spanked was there on business. I want to say that she was a part of some promo company,  you know,  working as a model showcasing the product on sale. To be honest though,  I can’t remember every detail of this photo but I do remember once reading the background about it. Is there a fellow collector out there who is able to give me the background details on this photo? It would be much appreciated not only by me,  but also by the reader who is seeking information on it.

9 comments to Help Identifying A Photo

  • megan

    Barbara Brittan and Richard Denning, Mr. and Mrs. North circa 1952

  • Mark

    I think Megan nailed it! I looked at the Mr. & Mrs. North episodes & it’s definitely Richard Denning & Barbara Britton. How did you know that, Megan? I thought that was a pretty obscure photo.

  • Mark

    Thank you, Megan, you nailed it! How did you know that?

  • Harry

    Congratulations on solving a long-standing mystery!

    There were 57 episodes of Mr and Mrs North, so there is still some work to do narrowing it down to a particular episode. There are three further significant details in the photograph which might help with this:

    (1) The seated actor in the background, whom I haven’t securely identified, but somebody may be able to.

    (2) Barbara Britton’s costume, which is nothing like any of her typical outfits and must be story-specific. (What Denning is wearing is more generic.)

    (3) The set, which is not the regular series set for the Norths’ apartment, and so is likely to be episode-specific.

    With that in mind, I rattled through the 52 episodes currently available on YouTube and didn’t spot the costume or set in any of them. Unless I missed something, that means the scene likely belongs to one of the other five, which are: Death in the Dunes; Murder in Short Pants; Blackout; Maternity, 3rd Floor; Shock. All are from the first season (1952-53). Going by the brief episode synopses available online, the first of these seems to be the likeliest possibility, and moreover an early episode in the series (this was the fourth) would be more likely than a later one to have a stills photographer in attendance.

    Except… Mr and Mrs North isn’t the only possible identification.

    There’s no doubt that the main actors in the photo are indeed Richard Denning and Barbara Britton. And half a decade before Mr and Mrs Smith, they both appeared in the 1946 Republic picture The Fabulous Suzanne, along with Bill Henry, who looks not dissimilar to the third actor in the photograph. Barbara Britton’s role was a waitress – which would explain what she’s wearing when being spanked. And Richard Denning in particular does look a bit younger than he does in the Mr and Mrs Smith episodes. I haven’t seen the film, but it’s worth investigation – though perhaps not worth the forty bucks asking price for a DVD on Amazon!

  • Harry

    I’d better add that the third actor, the one I think may be Bill Henry, is blurred in this copy of the photo, but clearly visible in other scans that can be found online.

  • Megan

    Good comments. I think the photo in question was a stand alone still publicizing Mr. and Mrs. North probably published in a fan magazine. I think it would have been a bit risque for fifties t.v.but less so for a fan magazine publicity shot. The fabulous Suzanne is a possibility. I haven’t seen it either. But Barbara Britton was the star and Richard Denning was down the cast list. They were co-stars in Mr. and Mrs. North and more likely to be featured together in a publicity shot. Sounds like Richard W. saw the photo used to illustrate an unrelated story in a now defunct site.

  • Harry

    I don’t think it can be a standalone publicity still in the strictest sense, because of the third actor in the background. A standalone picture would ordinarily be shot in a separate studio photocall – often on a very generic or plain set – and the only actors called would be the ones who are the central participants. You wouldn’t call (and, therefore, pay) an actor only to have him sit casually in the background of the picture like that. So this is likely to be an on-set shot of some kind.

    They might, for publicity purposes, have staged this kind of horseplay during production, but if so, the photo would feature the set and the costumes they were already wearing for the episode they were making, and as such it would not really be a standalone still. So if Barbara Britton’s outfit is rather risque for the television of the day (a view I incline to agree with), then the balance of probability shifts back to the big screen.

    Denning was not *way* down the cast list of The Fabulous Suzanne: he was fourth billed after Britton, Rudy Vallee and Otto Kruger. And his character was one of the (admittedly many) love interests for Britton’s Suzanne.

    In the end, neither Megan nor I actually *know* the precise origins of the photo, so let’s not argue the toss about alternatives that may be good guesses but are both still, for the time being, only possibilities. Until we do know for sure (which is likely to be when we have seen the movie and the five unavailable episodes), we ought to keep all feasible possibilities in play.

    None of this detracts from the fact that Megan helped us take an almighty step forward in identifying the two principal actors; the congratulations are worth repeating!

  • Richard Windsor

    So if we assume that it is indeed Barbara Britton, what I did tonight was search for pictures of her. Based on my findings, and you are welcome to do your own, the only time that you can find a picture of Barbara Britton with this hairstyle is in season 1 of Mr and Mrs North. If you watch the shows up until episode 20 or so, she had this hairstyle during the early part of season 1, which would date the image around 1952. I think that it is worth including because I can’t find a single picture of her outside of this time frame where her hair is in this style and color.

  • Mark

    In agreement with all that Richard, Megan, & Harry have stated. Looks like I need to buy a copy of “The Fabulous Suzanne” and check it out. Her hair style could be from that or the first season of Mr & Mrs North, as you have noted. I wonder if we can find the missing episodes of Mr & Mrs North? In the still there is a stuffed pony partially hidden by the couch, and she has that “baby bonnet” looking hat on, so I suspect it’s a kid’s costume of some sort. I must say that unlike most stills we can confidently say that Denning landed at least one swat!

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