Studio Starlets Ring in the New Year

In the days before young starlets spent all their spare time saving the rain forest, they were forced by contract to spend it luring customers into movie theaters with studio pin-up poses that had nothing to do with movies or acting. No studio publicity department missed an opportunity to deluge photo editors all over the world with the latest shots of comely players posing with cupids for St. Valentine's Day, with cuddly bunnies for Easter, with sparklers for the 4th of July.

Every summer, everyone - from reigning studio queens like Mae West to transient beauties like Jane Greer - came in from the pool to don that year's drop-dead evening gown for the annual New Year's Eve photo. No one knows when the noisemaker that had passed from starlet to starlet finally got dropped, but if this meaningful tradition had been preserved, we just might have been able to gaze at our cover girl Kim Basinger, wrapped head-to-toe in faux fur against a giant "1991," pouring champagne down the throat of a live baby seal.

All photographs courtesy of The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, special thanks to Stacey Endres