Sister Celluloid

Where old movies go to live

TINTYPE TUESDAY: Classic Film Stars Let Their Freckles Fly Free!

Welcome to another edition of TINTYPE TUESDAY!

In April 1976, George Hurrell wrote to Joan Crawford, his friend of almost half a century, asking her to say a few words for a book about his work. With it, he sent a 1930 photograph, his favorite of the thousands they’d shot in 33 sessions together.


“I’ve always thought the soulful, tender beauty in the attached print was among our best efforts,” he said. “The depth of feeling and emotion you expressed in this pose has a dramatic quality that only a great actress could reveal.”

Also revealed in the photo were Joan’s fabulous freckles. And while the studios insisted they be airbrushed away, no less a light than George Hurrell was just fine with them. And so was Joan, when she wasn’t filming.

But when she was working, out they went. Here’s a studio before-and-after shot:


Of course, these little flecks of “imperfection” were but one casualty of retouching. Sometimes, entire personalities were erased. Here’s Bette Davis being turned into Betty Boop:

But now that the studio bosses aren’t looking, let’s give these glorious freckles the space they deserve, shall we?

Just to be fair, we’ll close things out with a couple of guys—who were pretty much the gold standard for freckled men everywhere. And on the set of The Strawberry Blonde, you can see how delighted Cagney was to have his Irish beauty marks covered up with greasepaint.

Happy Spring, my fabulous friends! Be sure to protect your skin from the sun… but let your freckle flag fly!


TINTYPE TUESDAY is a regular feature on Sister Celluloid, with fabulous classic movie pix (and usually some backstory!) to help you make it to Hump Day! For previous editions, just click hereand why not bookmark the page, to make sure you never miss a week?


  1. Adorably natural film stars.

    I’ve always been a little jealous of folks with freckles. It must come from reading “Anne of Green Gables” in my youth. I was blessed (?) with a ghostly pallor that glows in the dark. Well, if you can’t fix it – feature it.

  2. Wow, I had no idea. If you haven’t seen it yet, you’ll love Alia Shawkat in Pee Wee’s Big Holiday on Netflix. Her all-over freckles are fantastic.

  3. I’d seen only a couple of these before, but most of them were new to me – and shockers! Thanks for sharing these!

  4. a classic beauty, real beauty
    hotmail iniciar sesion

  5. Stella aka "fennario"

    MYRNA had them? And Brooksie?
    I’ll never feel funky about mine again. 😀

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