Still Life

The Jack Stalnaker Stills Collection
(aka The Meeker Museum)

Guy Madison & Judy Garland
(Great screen teams we somehow missed)

?

From the very beginning -- around 1996 -- this site has reflected my ongoing passion and obsession for still photographs from various areas of entertainment, with particular emphasis on movies. Since by 1996 I was already heavily into collecting stills and lobby cards from the career of Ralph Meeker, I originally envisioned this site to be an ongoing tribute to Meeker, thus the name Meeker Museum. However, the very first photo I ever uploaded here was a portrait of Patrick Wayne! I don't remember why. All I remember is that other crazy people were encouraging me to go online with my extensive collection of stills. Eventually, I decided I should use the "Meeker Museum" to salute other personal favorites, such as Kerwin Mathews, Diane Varsi and Tuesday Weld among countless others who have entertained me over the years. I don't like to refer to these people as "B actors" or "minor stars." To me they are major! You simply cannot get more major than Tuesday Weld!

Elsewhere in this site, in the Glistening Images section, I mention my fascination with non-classics and my admiration for people with names like Troy, Tab, Tuesday and Ty. Although that pretty much sums up my taste, I do think it's about time I admitted to liking some of the more conventional superstars -- you know, "legends" like Rock Hudson, Elizabeth Taylor and James Dean. Frankly, George Stevens' 1956 film Giant is way up there on my list of all-time favorites. If that revelation calls into question my whole reason for doing this site, then be aware that my Top Ten also includes De Mille's The Greatest Show on Earth and Charles Haas' 1959 Mamie Van Doren epic Girls Town.

 

Betty Hutton and Gloria Grahame square off in DeMille's The Greatest Show on Earth, 1952's "Best Picture" according to Oscar, but not according to serious cineastes. Some of us see it for what it is -- a lot of fun!

 

I guess I just want to step out of the closet enough to admit that I actually like a handful of movies that some people would call "classic." I'll even go public with the news that the Jack Stalnaker Stills Collection, aka the Meeker Museum Collection, while heavy on people like Meeker, Varsi, and Weld, also includes collections devoted to Liz, Rock, Paul Newman, William Holden, Bette Davis, and many other stars who were on Hollywood's "A-list" at one time or another.

 

Lita Milan      Paul Newman

The Left-Handed Gun

Director: Arthur Penn
1958


Two views of a very odd publicity still for Cat On a Hot Tin Roof, with Liz crawling on...a hot tin roof? . . . a giant bedspread? . . . a huge condom? Who knows? Anyway, I tried to improve the composition by cropping it (right), but I still prefer the full view (left).

 

Obviously, I am not the only person online who salutes the underappreciated stars. There are countless websites devoted to actors, actresses and singers the average person has never heard of. Many sites are far more sophisticated than mine. The Meeker Museum remains fairly primitive-looking after all these years simply because I don't have the time to learn more advanced techniques for web design. So I rely on finding what I think are interesting photographs and I let my sense of humor sneak in here and there.

What I've placed on the site represents a tiny fragment of my collection, which, in addition to stills and lobby cards, also includes posters, magazines, books and just about anything related to any showbiz personality that I like. I'm also passionately devoted to music -- Mahler, Motown, Phil Spector, girl groups, r & b and on and on. I even have an old 45 by Mia Farrow! I see no reason to move any of this stuff online when there are already great websites devoted to just about every genre of music (with the possible exception of Mia Farrow).

I've heard over and over that stills, especially the kinds that attract me, are among the least valuable items in the realm of movie collectibles. For me, however, there is absolutely nothing more fun than sifting through an old box of photos and finding a lost treasure: a gorgeous Van Williams shot, a fabulous Carol Lynley portrait, a scene from a forgotten TV drama with a very young Ben Affleck.


I think this planet, with all it's 21st Century tensions, really needs more people working on, say, Gloria Talbott collections or even James Craig collections. This website has enabled me year after year to understand that I'm just one among the countless multitudes who are doing this sort of thing and finding enormous pleasure in it. So I would like to take this opportunity to thank everybody who has written to me to suggest stars that I've overlooked or even stars that I'm unfamiliar with.

In the meantime, I'll be scouting around for more odd, beautiful and strange stills. And I hope to place many more on this site as time permits.

 

--Jack Stalnaker
Curator/Collector
MEEKER MUSEUM
1-20-02

 

And speaking of Ben Affleck...

Ben Affleck stars as a high-school athlete who takes the pursuit of success to dangerous extremes in the LIFESTORIES: FAMILIES IN CRISIS drama A BODY TO DIE FOR: THE AARON HENRY STORY, debuting WEDNESDAY, APRIL 6 (9:30-10:00 p.m. ET), exclusively on HBO.

[original caption]

Photo: Larry Watson HBO

 

MEEKER MUSEUM


©2002 The Meeker Museum Collection
Jack Stalnaker
meeker@neosoft.com.