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Chicago Area Family Has Original Tonnesen Photos

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It was shortly after receiving the March issue of Chicago Magazine in his mail that David Lloyd made a startling discovery. A photo of his wife's grandmother, Beulah Clark Dunn, was prominently displayed on page 96. Alerted by her husband, and a bit skeptical, Rose Lloyd opened the magazine and immediately recognized the photo, by Beatrice Tonnesen, as identical to one she had stored safely among her family memorabilia.

I am deeply grateful to Rose for what she did next! With lightning speed, she rounded up nearly forty photos of her beautiful grandmother, scanned them and emailed them to me. She also provided biographical information, documents and news clippings that allow us a fascinating glimpse into the world of calendar and advertising art in the 1920's. (See accompanying slideshow.)

Beulah Clark Dunn (1903-1996) won the Chicago Herald and Examiner's Sweetheart of Chicago contest in 1920. This led to a string of public appearances, including the glamorous opening of the Chicago Theatre and a cover portrait on sheet music for “A Body Just Can't Help But Loving You,” composed by Will Reider. News clippings from both the Herald and Examiner and The Chicago Tribune during the 1920-1922 time frame reveal she competed successfully in several of the city's major beauty contests, which were all the rage at the time. In the meantime, her modeling career had taken off and she was seen in everything from millinery and cold cream ads to the art prints and photographs produced by Tonnesen and others for the booming calendar market.

In 1922, Beulah married Phillip J. Dunn, owner of Chicago's Dunn Coal Company. They had two daughters, Marie (Rose's mother) and Beulah Mae. Beulah Clark Dunn continued to model after her marriage, sometimes with her daughters. Marie, born in 1924, also modeled for fashion ads in the 1940's.

Images of Beulah Clark Dunn are (L to R): Photo by Tonnesen, circa 1922, from which R. A. Fox painted “The Glory of Youth” (To view Fox’s painting, see image #3 in the slideshow below this one); an early calendar photo by an unidentified photographer; back of photo inscribed to Beulah by Beatrice Tonnesen and dated 1920; art print titled “Love’s Dawning” copyright Osborne Co. by an unidentified photographer; a photo illustration of Beulah and an unidentified child, signed MaiDai George, Lux Studio; photo for a hat ad (photographer unknown); front of  1920 photo inscribed by Tonnesen.

(C) 2010 Lois Emerson

4 thoughts on “Chicago Area Family Has Original Tonnesen Photos

  1. This is a wonderful article about my Grama, Lois. Thankyou so much for this beautiful article, our family is deeply grateful.
    very fondly,
    Rose Lloyd (one of Beulah Clark Dunn’s 3 Grandaughters)

  2. I’m glad you like it, Rose. I can’t thank you enough for all of the images and information you supplied.\n-Lois

  3. I and my partner hold two original photos by Beatrice Tonnesen.
    Both of young girls, holding single flowers, we dont know much about them,
    but were told always keep these safe, which we have done, and proudly display them both on our lounge wall.
    We would like to learn more of thes photos, i can scan them and send them for you to look at if you think they may be of some importance.
    Kind Regards
    Richard Jones

  4. Hello Mr. Jones,\nThanks for writing. We would love to see your scans. I’ve sent you information for submitting them. Please let me know if you did not receive it or if you have questions.\n\nThanks,\nLois