I've also listed some video clips I found of some of the stars that I really enjoyed or that show them up close so you can get a better look (though they may not be well-known or iconic clips, since I come to this all as a beginner!). What fun it is entering some of these names and finding some of the old, hidden treasures that folks have kindly uploaded. I've found some stunning compositions along the way as well- Tamil film songs are simply genius at times.
I hope you enjoy these as much as I have. And I confess, I resisted the temptation to keep piling song clips below because there are just too many good ones I've run across- that will be for future posts. :) Last, please send any recommendations or corrections my way. Enjoy!
T.P. Rajalakshmi - Tamil Cinema's first star, she was also "the first woman director and producer of South India."
M.K. Thyagaraja Bhagavathar (MKT) - "First superstar of Tamil Cinema, a legend," he also appears to have sung all of his songs in his films, a distinction which seems more common in South Indian classics.
MK Thyagaraja singing in "Manam Kaninthe" from Sivakavi (1942)
N.S. Krishnan and T.A. Mathuram
The picture of Rajakumari in the lower-left hand corner of the scan is from the famous "Drum Dance" song in Chandralekha (1948). Rajakumari can be seen more clearly below in "Saanjh Ki Bela," also from Chandralekha. It appears this Tamil film was also released in Hindi given the lyrics in the video.
P. Bhanumathi, Vasundhara Devi, M.K. Radha, and P.U. Chinnappa
P. Bhanumathi singing her own stuff in "Kanile Irupathenna" from Ambikapathi (1957). Just gaze at all the gorgeous, sparkling jewelry in crisp black and white.
M.G. Ramachandran (MGR) - The "first film actor to become Chief Minister of a state."
MGR with Saroja Devi jazzing it up in "Oru Pennai Parthu" from Deivathai (1964).
Sivaji Ganesan - "One of the finest actors Indian cinema has ever produced."
Sivaji had such a unique, unmistakable look, and he seemed capable of an endless number of facial expressions, as can be seen in his drunk impersonation below in "Iravinil Aattam" from Navarathri (1964). Also not to be missed from that same film is his elaborate costume in the hilarious "Thanga Jariga Selai," also from Navarathri.
Gemini Ganesan - "Romantic superstar of Tamil cinema."
I think Gemini looks quite handsome here; unsure of the song's identity.
Padmini looking lovely with M. N. Nambiar in "Aasai Athane" from Arasilankumari (1961).
Saroja Devi and MGR romancing under a cart in the rain in "Idhuvarai Neengal" from Panakkara Kudumbam (1964). How can you not love the cute little crabs?
Chittoor V. Nagaiah, T.R. Mahalingam
Anjali Devi dancing in "Enthan Inbam Kollai" from Chakravarthy Thirumagal (1957).
K. Savitri (aka "Savithri")
Savithri in Navarathiri Subharatri from Navarathri (1964). What lovely contrasts in such a crisp print, and what set design!
M.S. Subbulakshmi, S.D. Subbulakshmi
T.S. Balaiah, V.N. Janaki (Mrs. MGR)
T.R. Ramachandran, S.S. Rajendran
Jai Shankar, C.K. Nagesh, and C.R. Manorama
Jai Shankar and Nagesh in the title song of Poova Thalaiya (1969).
Kamal Haasan - Though Kamal is not an "evergreen" star, this picture is just too fabulous.
Kamal looking groovy in Nizhal Nijamakirathu (1978).
Rajinikanth - "The superstar among superstars." Again, a more recent (and still going strong) star, but since this photo is black and white, he stays.
Rajini with Sridevi in "Naan Oru Kadanayaki" from one of his earliest films, Moondru Mudichu (1976).