Dolores del Rio and Erno Piffle

Yesterday’s morning names: the stage name of a fabulous actress and a fictional young man who started life as a catchphrase.

Dolores del Rio. From Wikipedia:


Dolores del Río (… born María de los Dolores Asúnsolo López-Negrete; August 3, 1904 – April 11, 1983), was a Mexican actress. She was the first major female Latin cross-over star in Hollywood, with an outstanding career in American films in the 1920s and 1930s. She was also considered one of the more important female figures of the Golden Age of Mexican cinema in the 1940s and 1950s. Del Río is remembered as one of the most beautiful faces of the cinema in her time. Her long and varied career spanned silent film, sound film, television, stage and radio.

The elegant embodiment of Art Deco style. Here she is in the 1928 film Ramona:


On the film Ramona, from Wikipedia:

Ramona is a 1928 American silent drama film directed by Edwin Carewe,[1] based on Helen Hunt Jackson’s 1884 novel Ramona, and starring Dolores del Rio and Warner Baxter.

Mordaunt Hall of the New York Times found much to praise in what he called “an Indian love lyric”: “This current offering is an extraordinarily beautiful production, intelligently directed and, with the exception of a few instances, splendidly acted. The scenic effects are charming…. The different episodes are told discreetly and with a good measure of suspense and sympathy.”

This was the first United Artists film with a synchronized score and sound effects, but no dialogue, and so was not a talking picture.

This was the third movie version of the novel (of four). On the book:

Ramona is an 1884 American novel written by Helen Hunt Jackson. Set in Southern California after the Mexican-American War, it portrays the life of a mixed-race Scots–Native American orphan girl, who suffers racial discrimination and hardship. Originally serialized in the Christian Union on a weekly basis, the novel became immensely popular. It has had more than 300 printings, and been adapted four times as a film. A play adaptation has been performed annually outdoors since 1923.

The novel’s influence on the culture and image of Southern California was considerable. Its sentimental portrayal of Mexican colonial life contributed to establishing a unique cultural identity for the region. As its publication coincided with the arrival of railroad lines in the region, countless tourists visited who wanted to see the locations of the novel.

The novel is significant to me, because the street I live on in Palo Alto is named after it; it’s one of the many literarily named streets downtown: parallel streets in order:

Emerson (Ralph Waldo), Ramona, Bryant (William Cullen), Waverley (novels by Sir Walter Scott), Cowper (William), Webster (Daniel), Byron

and also in the neighborhood: Kipling, Channing (William Ellery), Addison (Joseph).

Erno Piffle. This one started on the Usenet newsgroup soc.motss, for lgbt people and their friends (now reincarnated as a closed Facebook group, smaller in size). It began as a catchphrase from Ellen Evans, contradicting something someone wrote and dismissing the contribution as negligible:

Er, no. Piffle.

After some repetitions, this was transformed — the details of the transformation are now lost to me –into the name of a character, a young guy named Erno Piffle. Since Erno is fictional, people can feel free to write his story any way they want; one motsser claimed him as her nephew, for example.

2 Responses to “Dolores del Rio and Erno Piffle”

  1. Robert Coren Says:

    I thought at one point Erno was proposed as a name for the not-yet-born Henry.

    • arnold zwicky Says:

      Ah, I believe you’re right. That would explain the nephew thing.

      For other readers: Henry is Henry Parker Burlingham, son of Ann Burlingham and Jason Parker-Burlingham, both of soc.motss and soc-motss. Henry is now, astonishingly, 13.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: