Before Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, there was another way for store visitors to leave comments and feedback – old-fashioned guest books.
The Marshall Field’s (a Chicago department store Target owned from 1990-2004) State Street store used many guest books over time for its noteworthy guests. After all, retail stores have always been places to see and be seen. Just think of the countless photos you’ve seen of celebs entering and leaving boutiques, cameras flashing as they shield their faces with shiny bags full of new finds.
Whether they were just passing through or making a public appearance, movie stars, designers, architects and foreign luminaries would swing by to sign the now-worn “Guest Register of Distinguished Visitors.” From 1938 to 1961, the book was filled with endearing notes and signatures from international icons.
Check out a few guestbook VIPs below
Shirley Temple (June 21, 1938): At just four years old, Shirley was the original triple threat. She sang, tap-danced and charmed her way into America’s hearts as the most loveable little girl in Tinseltown. Her sweet voice and signature blonde ringlets earned her an Academy Award at seven years old. She signed the Marshall Field’s guestbook at age nine.
Harold Lloyd (Aug. 2, 1938):
Silent-film star Lloyd made nearly 200 comedy films during his career. Ranking alongside comedian greats Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton, Lloyd’s films stood out for their daredevil stunts and extended chase sequences.
William Randolph Hearst (Aug. 1938):
Without this historic publishing tycoon, you wouldn’t read many of the magazines you flip through today. Ironically, fellow guestbook signee Orson Welles became famous for depicting Hearst’s infamous personal life in the 1941 film Citizen Kane.
Admiral Byrd (Nov. 19, 1938):
American navigator, polar explorer, aviator, navy office and heartthrob Byrd was a Medal of Honor recipient and the first person to reach the South Pole by air. Despite controversy surrounding his 1926 North Pole flight, he remains one of the most celebrated explorers in history.
Dorothy Lamour (Feb. 8, 1940): From 1936 to 1952, the beautiful and hilarious Lamour dominated motion pictures. The glamorous Paramount starred in the Road to… movie series alongside legends Bob Hope and Bing Crosby. Few people know Ms. Lamour was working as an elevator operator at Marshall Field’s when a talent agent discovered her.
Helena Rubinstein (Mar. 15, 1940):
One of the richest women of her time and a self-made millionaire, the already-successful Polish-born makeup mogul became a princess after marrying Georgian Prince Artchil Gourielli-Tchkonia, twenty-three years her junior. She epitomized high-low fashion, pairing ornate jewels with cheap baubles, whilst heading to work in designer clothing with her lunch in a paper brown bag. Her most memorable quote – “there are no ugly women, just lazy ones” – symbolized her life mantra.
Jack Dempsey (Sept. 17, 1940).
Whenever the “Manassa Mauler” entered the boxing ring, sweat and screaming fans weren’t far behind. Dempsey held the world heavyweight title from 1919 to 1926, and retired with an exceptional record of 60-7-8 (50 of which were solid knockouts).
Frank Lloyd Wright (May 18, 1941)
The Soloman R. Guggenheim Museum in New York City took the architect more than sixteen years to build, and is one of 400 structures he built during his lifetime. His organic architectural style and eccentric fashion taste (he often wore capes and bold neckties) contributed to a public interest in his colorful personal life.
Orson Welles (May 10, 1957):
The multitalented Welles was known for his baritone voice, distinct directorial style and his often contentious relationship with Hollywood. A celebrated actor, screenwriter and film director, he based his film Citizen Kane on fellow guestbook signee William Randolph Hearst. Welles skyrocketed to fame a few years earlier after causing widespread panic due to his dramatic radio adaptation of H.G. Wells’ novel The War of the Worlds in 1938.
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