By Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times
This stamp honoring Bette Davis was issued by the U. S. Postal Service on Sept. 18. The portrait by Michael Deas was inspired by a still photo from "All About Eve." Notice anything missing? Before you even read this far, you were thinking, Where's her cigarette? Yes reader, the cigarette in the original photo has been eliminated. We are all familiar, I am sure, with the countless children and teenagers who have been lured into the clutches of tobacco by stamp collecting, which seems so innocent, yet can have such tragic outcomes. But isn't this is carrying the anti-smoking campaign one step over the line?
READ ON at blogs.suntimes.com (and be sure not to miss the "gallery of reader-submitted variations" linked at the end of the main text. —MJ)
Mike (Thanks to David Bostedo)
Featured Comment by Thomas: "I have to disagree. Both my father and mother died from smoking-related diseases and my brother likely will. Smokers will grab any evidence that their addiction is really okay, and the appearance of a glamorous movie star holding a cigarette is just that. The solution would have been to use a different photo."
Featured Comment by MHV: "Nothing new under the sun here; the exact same story happened with a French stamp commemorating André Malraux. His portrait by Gisèle Freund is iconic, and the cigarette is prominently displayed: it's all part of the fabric of the French intellectual look.
"Yet the stamp decided to omit that tiny detail. But at least, one can argue that the drawing is only inspired by the portrait, that it is one artist's rendition of the great man, yadda yadda. But the Bette Davis case is just wrong: why couldn't the artist make a small effort to invent a hand posture that made sense without the cigarette?"
Mike adds: Rene Theberge has apprehended the denouement: Anthony Farr on the Pentax-Discuss Mailing List (PDML) uncovered what he thinks is the stamp's original: and it doesn't show a cigarette!
So what do you think: is the source a still from All About Eve (first picture below), as Roger Ebert thinks, or the publicity still shown below it? And if the latter, why has the artist repositioned her hand just so—was it done deliberately, to imply a missing cigarette? Or is she just holding her coat?