Enter June in the house of Morgan
Posted by vp19 on 2011.05.31 at 07:19
Current mood: cheerful
Among the many joys of classic Hollywood film are the huge array of character actors who populated the era’s movies; their talent and reliability made them mainstays with audiences, and many moviegoers found them every bit as indispensable as the stars. Frank Morgan, shown with Carole Lombard in 1930’s “Fast And Loose,” was one of those performers (http://carole-and-co.livejournal.com/287493.html).
Wednesday, June 1, marks the anniversary of his birth, and to commemorate, Turner Classic Movies in the U.S. is showing 10 lesser-known Morgan movies made between 1932 and 1940. If you only know Morgan from the likes of “The Wizard Of Oz” and “The Shop Around The Corner” (the latter is increasingly gaining renown as the definitive Morgan performance), you’ll enjoy seeing him in these roles and get a flavor of his ability to add zest to just about any film. Here’s the schedule (all times Eastern):
* 6 a.m. – “Secrets of the French Police” (1932) Frank plays a French detective trying to solve a murder in a case that may involve famed Russian Princess Anastasia. With Gwili Andre and Gregory Ratoff.
* 7 a.m. – “The Half Naked Truth” (1933) A fun pre-Code, directed by Gregory La Cava of later “My Man Godfrey” fame, featuring Lee Tracy as a carnival pitchman, as well as Lupe Velez and Eugene Pallette.
* 8:30 a.m. – “The Nuisance” (1933) Tracy’s top-billed in this one, portraying an ambulance-chasing attorney with Madge Evans as his leading lady; Frank plays a doctor.
* 10 a.m. – “The Cat And The Fiddle” (1934) Jeanette MacDonald and Ramon Novarro are the leads in this operatic romance, with Frank as a wealthy arts patron. (Above are Morgan, Novarro, MacDonald and Jean Hersholt.) The final segment of this film was shot in three-strip Technicolor, a year before “Becky Sharp” became the first feature to be entirely filmed in this new process.
* 11:30 a.m. – “By Your Leave” (1935) Frank was occasionally top-billed in lower-tier MGM films such as this one, where he and Genevieve Tobin portray a couple in a mid-life crisis. The cast includes Neil Hamilton, Gene Lockhart, Margaret Hamilton and a young Betty Grable.
* 1 p.m. – “The Perfect Gentleman” (1935) Another leading role for Frank, where he plays a struggling aristocrat who helps a singer (Cicely Courtniedge) make a comeback.
* 2:15 p.m. – “Piccadilly Jim” (1936) A romantic comedy of manners where Frank plays the father of London cartoonist Robert Montgomery. A strong supporting cast includes Madge Evans, Eric Blore, Billie Burke and Robert Benchley.
* 4 p.m. – “Beg, Borrow Or Steal” (1937) A story of con artists on the Riviera decades before “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels,” this co-stars Florence Rice, John Beal and Erik Rhodes.
* 5:15 p.m. – “Henry Goes Arizona” (1939) Frank’s a broke vaudeville dandy who inherits an Arizona ranch. Virginia Weidler and Guy Kibbee co-star.
* 6:30 p.m. – “Keeping Company” (1940) A domestic comedy, with Frank married to Irene Rich and father of daughters Ann Rutherford, Virginia Weidler and Gloria De Haven.
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Looking back: May 1932
Posted by vp19 on 2011.05.30 at 03:45
Current mood: curious
This month’s review of Carole Lombard items in the news from 79 years ago begins with an amusing anecdote regarding “Sinners In The Sun,” reported in the Milwaukee Sentinel on May 6, 1932:
“When Carole Lombard and Chester Morris were filming location sequences for ‘Sinners In The Sun,’ two wild mallard ducks flew into the scene. The ducks refused to leave, despite efforts of employes to chase them away, and the director found it necessary to use them in the scene and record their quacks!”
Maybe the mallards were looking for the “Horse Feathers” set (remember the ducks’ appearance when Groucho Marx sings “Everyone Says I Love You” to “college widow” Thelma Todd?) and settled for this film instead.
Later that month, “Sinners In The Sun” premiered at the Liberty in Spokane, Wash., and on May 18, here’s part of what the Spokesman-Review wrote about it:
“Miss Lombard is svelte and stunning in her lavish wardrobe, but Morris would be better if he wasn’t quite so resolute. Some opening scenes of Miss Lombard’s quarreling family are quite overdone, but amusing, but the picture’s chief merit lies in its style shows.”
On May 27, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, through its Hollywood columnist and former actress Eileen Percy, said Lombard and her husband were taking up a new activity:
“Bill Powell has discarded his tennis rackets for a set of golf clubs. No, Bill has not grown too old for the game of forty-love, but his wife, Carole Lombard, has been advised by her physician to take up golf instead of the more strenuous form of exercise. So now Mr. and Mrs. Powell are being taught the more gentle art of the drive and putt.”
How long did that last? Well, I’ve never seen a photo of Lombard playing golf, but plenty of her once she returned to this:
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Carole and Marlene, via Maria
Posted by vp19 on 2011.05.29 at 01:32
Current mood: productive
No human being is immune from having his or her share of contradictions, and Carole Lombard and Marlene Dietrich, Paramount stablemates for much of the 1930s, certainly were not immune. We’ve discussed their relationship in the past, and in this entry we’ll do so through the book, “Marlene Dietrich,” written not long after her death by her daughter, Maria Riva.
Riva’s book is hardly a “Mommie Dearest” expose — she clearly has affection towards her legendary mother — but at the same time, it doesn’t hide her foibles and eccentricities. Marlene was in many ways an admirable woman, but like the rest of us, she had her moments.
Lombard wasn’t one of Dietrich’s “pet hates” — according to Riva, that status belonged to Loretta Young, who Marlene detested for her overly pious nature — but Carole elicited some intriguing reactions from the German star.
When Dietrich’s husband, Rudi Sieber, arrived in Los Angeles to meet her in 1932, Marlene didn’t think much of Paramount’s roster, telling him:
“Here no women have brains. Certainly not at the studio and, with Jo (Josef von Sternberg), that’s the only place one sees. There is that vulgar (Tallulah) Bankhead, awful, chases the bit players. There is that ugly Claudette Colbert, so ‘shopgirl French.’ Lombard is pretty, but too ‘palsy’ American, and tries to look like me, and (Bing) Crosby’s chorines, and … who else is there? Now, at Garbo’s studio (MGM), there they have women — beautiful ones. I don’t mean that Norma Shearer — she’s a dead fish, and that new one, (Jean) Harlow, too low-class. But they have some that are very interesting, but with Jo, of course, impossible.”
When Marlene was preparing costumes for her film “The Scarlet Empress,” where she portrayed Catherine the Great, Riva wrote she overheard her mother conversing with Paramount design maven Travis Banton:
“Travis — I know we have a blacker black than this velvet. The nap is too short on this to look rich on the screen, and where is the georgette we didn’t use in ‘Blonde Venus’? Did you use it for Lombard? That old satin you draped her with for those publicity stills — really! — off the shoulder? A la ‘vamp’? Lombard? She looked silly…”
“Talk about silly, where did you get that sailor outfit they put on her? Really, Travis, you can’t do that!”
“Lombard can be very funny. If she gets the right pictures, she can become a big star. You have to watch what Lombard wears. She loves to look like me; why not make her a ‘Dietrich’ suit out of that white flannel we found — but she will need a shorter jacket than I wear. She has an American body. Also a behind, so watch the skirt line.”
Then came the 1935 Venice party, of which Riva wrote, “This was so rare that it created quite a stir in our lives.” Here’s how she described Dietrich’s reaction upon receiving the invitation:
“It says here, ‘Wear old clothes!’ What does she mean, ‘old clothes’? Just like her, trying to be ever-so-different and cutesy! Get me Travis at the studio.”
She got Banton on the phone, and Riva wrote her mother’s end of the conversation went something like this:
“Travis? Have you heard about Lombard’s big party? Well, what does she mean with ‘old clothes’? Old clothes ‘history’ or old clothes ‘no good anymore’? … Oh! Is a fun house really that dirty? Then why give a party there? Do you know what she is going to wear? Knowing her, she will have alerted publicity and there will be photographers. … Really? Now everyone thinks they can wear trousers — so, what do I wear? I am coming in! Think! We will have to make something ‘old clothes’!”
Marlene chose not to wear trousers, a decision she likely regretted, as Maria — who did not go to the party — said Dietrich came home “a bloody mess”:
“What an idea for a party? We had to sit on potato sacks and slide down enormous slides? I thought we were going straight through the wall into the ocean! … And barrels that rolled! We had to run through them trying not to fall! It was awful! Everyone was crashing on top of each other and they were laughing. They thought it was fun! You know those horrible mirrors that make you look like a midget or a giant or fat? She had those too. Who wants to see themselves fat? I can have that right here in my bathroom and not look like I have been in a war!”
Dietrich is shown above with Lombard, Lili Damita and Errol Flynn at the party. Riva described her knees: “They were really bad. She looked as though she had fallen off a bicycle at high speed on a gravel road. … We cleaned the caked blood off her knees and shins, then she soaked in a hot bath loaded with epsom salts.”
Meanwhile, Marlene kept on moaning:
“Of course, Lombard’s trousers protected her legs. Her legs should be covered!”
Dietrich is shown with Richard Barthelmess, her escort that night, and Cary Grant. The following morning, Marlene did a 180 when describing the party to friends on the phone: “I went to a marvelous party that Carole Lombard gave in a fun house! Well, let me tell you all about it! …”
She was conversing with Banton in 1936 when Lombard again entered the conversation:
“I saw a picture of Lombard in something you did for her — in that black monkey fur … you want to give her a banana? Really, Travis? But in that film …”
She then turned to Maria: “What’s the name of that film, where we saw the photographs and I said, ‘Finally, Lombard looks beautiful!’?”
Riva: “‘The Princess Comes Across.'”
“Yes — a bad title — in that film, you finally did something for her. She looks just like Dietrich. I hear she calls you ‘Teasie’ — how very cutesy-poo’!”
According to Riva, when Dietrich learned of Lombard’s death, she said this to her daughter:
“See? What do I always say? Never fly! Airplanes are dangerous. I never really liked her, but she could be beautiful when someone dressed her right. I wonder who Gable will find now?”
Typical Dietrich. According to Riva, Marlene’s closest friend at Paramount was, like her, an outsider, and also one whose style and personality signified no threat to Dietrich. We are referring to, of all people, Mae West:
Riva’s word portrait of Dietrich and her amazing life will at times delight, shock or exasperate you … but it will never bore you. It’s well worth a read.
For Memorial Day, this week’s header features Lombard with two servicemen during her eastbound rail stop at Salt Lake City on Jan. 13, 1942. Let us remember those who sacrificed for our country, and don’t let the unofficial summer kickoff obscure the real reason for the holiday.
Bid for Lombard…get an extra page free
Posted by vp19 on 2011.05.28 at 00:59
Current mood: enthralled
Fan magazines are a wonderful resource for Carole Lombard items and images, even if some of the former have to be sifted with a skeptical eye towards the Hollywood publicity machine. At first, we weren’t sure what magazine the following page hails from, but thanks to Amy Jeanne, we discovered it was Movie Classic of July 1932:
Nice pic of Lombard, one that isn’t seen too often. Here’s what the caption says:
“Despite ill health, Carole stayed by her post until ‘Sinners In The Sun’ was completed — and THEN had a nervous breakdown. Unlike many a star, however, she didn’t play on public sympathy. The headline-hunters didn’t know of her illness until she was almost recovered. And were they mad? Almost as much as when Carole and William Powell got married secretly — a year ago June 26th!”
This page is being auctioned at eBay…and since it’s from an actual magazine, there’s something on the other side. Not an ad, not a table of contents, but photos of another actress, one far less remembered than Lombard.
Her name was Adrienne Dore. Born in 1910 in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, she moved to Los Angeles in her youth, was named Miss Los Angeles in 1925 and was a runnerup in the Miss America pageant that year (some biographies erroneously list her as having won the title).
Movie work followed; in fact, one of her early films was “The Swim Princess,” the 1928 Mack Sennett short featuring Lombard. By 1929 Dore had small roles in Clara Bow’s “The Wild Party” and the William Powell vehicle “Pointed Heels.”
By 1932, she was at Warners, appearing in a number of films including Kay Francis’ “Street Of Women” and Edward G. Robinson’s “Two Seconds.” She didn’t remain at the studio very long, and by 1934 was out of film acting entirely. She died in Woodland Hills, Calif., in November 1992. Dore is so forgotten by all but the most ardent film buffs that the seller for this eBay item lists her last name as “Dare.”
Bids begin at 99 cents (none have been made as of this writing), and bidding closes at 4:27 p.m. (Eastern) next Friday. If you’re interested in this rare Lombard image as well as some bath shots of an overlooked ’30s starlet, go to http://cgi.ebay.com/Carole-Lombard-Adrienne-Dare-Bathing-Beauty-/320705748642?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item4aab8d5ea2.
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Get ready to place your bids
Posted by vp19 on 2011.05.27 at 00:01
Current mood: contemplative
It’s no secret that Carole Lombard loved animals; well, it just so happens that another portrait of Lombard plus pet will be up for auction beginning this Sunday, thanks to Heritage Auctions. Take a look:
This is a 7″ x 9″ vintage Kodak nitrate negative, p1202-616 (from about 1934). According to Heritage, it’s an “unrestored negative that appears virtually unused. Closer inspection may reveal one or two minor flaws, such as some mild developer residue that should not affect the printing process. The image that is shown is a recent paper print taken from the actual negative being offered. With today’s digital technology available through Photoshop, these original negatives can easily be used to produce beautiful positive prints when correctly processed.”
Bidding on this item starts Sunday and lasts through the following Sunday.
Heritage has three other Lombard items which will be open for bidding on June 24 (the auction itself will occur July 16 and 17), and it’s just as well the date’s a few weeks off because two of them are 8″ x 10″ autographed photos that should go for a pretty penny, and this will give potential bidders some time to save the dough:
The top image has no p1202 marking; the bottom is p1202-1716, from 1937 and among Lombard’s last portraits at Paramount.
Of the top photo, Heritage writes: “Vintage gelatin silver, single weight, glossy photo. It has been inscribed: ‘Cordially, Carole Lombard. There are some very faint surface crinkles, and some minor corner creases.” Of the bottom: “This rare vintage gelatin silver, single weight, glossy photo has been autographed by Carole Lombard. There is some edge wear with minor corner bumps, surface crinkling, and scrapbook paper remnants on the verso.”
The fourth photo features Lombard with Clark Gable in “No Man Of Her Own,” when they were merely co-stars in a film and not in real life:
The back of the 7.75″ x 10″ is hand-marked with a date of Dec. 21, 1931, which doesn’t make sense since “No Man Of Her Own” wasn’t filmed until the fall of 1932 and came out that December. Heritage describes it as “Vintage gelatin silver, double weight, linen backed glossy keybook photo. This is a publicity photo from the only on-screen pairing of Carole Lombard and Clark Gable, and it’s a beauty! The photo has been studio linen backed for insertion into a keybook. There are only some very small surface dot bumps, and some very small corner bends.”
To see all four items and get bidding information, visit http://movieposters.ha.com/common/search_results.php?Nty=1&Ntk=SI_Titles&N=54+793+794+791+792+2088&Ntt=Carole%20Lombard.
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Was Carole’s face red? Her hair seemingly was
Posted by vp19 on 2011.05.26 at 01:44
Current mood: amused
When “Nothing Sacred” came out in late 1937, that’s how movie audiences first experienced Carole Lombard (and Fredric March, for that matter) in three-strip Technicolor. But Carole’s hair led to potential problems for what planned to be her color talking debut (segments of a few of her silent Mack Sennett shorts were shot in two-strip Technicolor).
We’re referring to a movie she never made, “Spawn Of The North” (http://carole-and-co.livejournal.com/137095.html). Lombard was announced for the Paramount film in June 1936, but while she had shown she could deliver good box office, the studio feared her fans might be confused. Why? Let Hearst columnist Louella Parsons explain in the Los Angeles Examiner of June 21, 1936, yet another clipping courtesy of Tally Haugen:
Under the headline “Carole Lombard Will Compete With Aurora Borealis” (some of the exteriors were to be shot well north of the continental U.S.), Parsons wrote:
“In making the color photography tests Carole and everyone concerned received a shock to discover that her gilded locks filmed as Titian as Jeanette MacDonald’s tresses or Ginger Rogers’ morning glory. And the studio was in one of those well-known, old-fashioned quandaries.
“What would happen, everyone asked, if Carole’s fans should be faced out of a clear screen with a Lombard gone redhead, redhead, gingerbread-head right overnight and without a word of warning?”
So what happened, Louella?
“…Carole came galloping to the rescue like a true United States Marine and changed the color scheme of her coiffure by permitting her hair to resume its naturally beautiful ash-blonde hue.”
And thankfully, she didn’t have to adopt a Marine cut to go with it, as she returned her hair to its appearance of earlier in the 1930s (although I doubt Carole went back to her 1931-32 ultrablonde look).
Also note the byline below Lombard’s picture: Otto Winkler, whose fate would sadly tie in to Carole’s slightly more than 5 1/2 years later. At the time, Winkler covered the film industry for the Examiner before joining MGM’s publicity staff.
Of course, Lombard never made “Spawn Of The North” (when it finally hit theaters in 1938, Dorothy Lamour had her part) and by the time “Nothing Sacred” was made, Carole had returned to a slightly reddish shade, though nowhere as vividly red as that of future RKO studio mate Lucille Ball:
Oh, and one final twist: “Spawn Of The North” was ultimately filmed in black and white.
Connie, not Carol(e), nearly made a ‘Racket(eer)’
Posted by vp19 on 2011.05.25 at 01:19
Current mood: productive
It’s no secret that Carole Lombard’s final film at Pathe, back when her first name didn’t have an “e,” was “The Racketeer” with Robert Armstrong (Kit Guard is between them in this still from the movie). But what you may not know was that Lombard’s last was initially announced as someone else’s first, someone whose path would intersect with Carole’s on several occasions…
…Constance Bennett. “The Racketeer” apparently was to have been her first movie after signing with Pathe, and her first talkie of any sort. (Bennett had brief stardom in silents in 1925, but married, moved to Paris for a few years and left the business.)
This is among a number of Lombard-related tidbits found in the files of Film Daily, specifically the May 23, 1929 issue (82 years ago Monday), through the Media History Digital Library (http://carole-and-co.livejournal.com/412516.html). Here’s the item in its entirety (http://www.archive.org/stream/filmdaily4748newy#page/n1241/mode/2up/search/Carole+Lombard):
Constance Bennett’s First Picture “The Racketeer”
“Constance Bennett’s first talking picture for Pathe will be ‘The Racketeer,’ from an original by Paul Gangelin. Readjustments of the studio’s production schedule made it advisable to put this story into production before the play which at first it had been planned to give her.
“In ‘The Racketeer’ Miss Bennett will play opposite Robert Armstrong. As Armstrong has completed rehearsals for a dramatic talking picture of newspaper life from the unproduced play, ‘For Two Cents,’ production on ‘The Racketeer’ will be held up until the completion of that picture, which is in production this week under the direction of Gregory LaCava. With Armstrong in the cast are Carol Lombard as feminine lead, Wade Boteler, Sam Hardy, Tom Kennedy, Lewis Payne, Warner Richmond, Bob Dydley, Gertrude Sutton, George Hayes and Fred Behrle.”
It’s apparent that “For Two Cents” was soon renamed “Big News,” a more descriptive fit for a newspaper yarn. But the reference “before the play which at first it had been planned to give (Bennett)”…what could that mean? A search for Constance Bennett items in Film Daily showed it was “This Thing Called Love,” which turned out to be Connie’s second film at the studio; the first was “Rich People.” (Both films were released in December 1929, and both are believed lost.)
Bennett had signed with Pathe in early April 1929. At first, the studio planned to make her pictures in New York, where she and sisters Barbara and Joan had grown up as the daughters of Broadway acting legend Richard Bennett, but by May, Pathe decided to send Connie to the coast.
By June 30, the feminine lead in “The Racketeer” was shifted to Lombard. Did Constance have second thoughts about the project? Was it a scheduling conflict that caused the change? Or did Bennett, whom Pathe projected as a potential major star, get first crack at prime properties? (We do know that Bennett was more than likely the catalyst for getting Lombard and fellow blonde Diane Ellis dismissed from Pathe’s roster in late ’29.) Whatever, it was Carole who ended up portraying Rhoda Philbrooke in this programmer, and its lackluster nature is shown on her face:
It takes two to ‘Rumba’
Posted by vp19 on 2011.05.24 at 00:48
Current mood: hopeful
In “Rumba,” released in early 1935, Paramount tried to make lightning strike twice with the dancing combo of George Raft and Carole Lombard, so sexy and successful at the box office in “Bolero” a year before. However, it was received coolly and didn’t make much of an impact.
Perhaps it was a case of going to the well once too often, or maybe the strict imposition of the Production Code — which came in between the pictures — lessened its appeal. (No Lombard dancing in lingerie this time, fellas.) Or maybe RKO’s Astaire-Rogers musicals, which featured better dancing, two stars who could sing, and songs from some of Hollywood’s top tunesmiths, had stolen their thunder and defined the genre.
Whatever, there are several items at eBay related to “Rumba,” and here are two of note. First, this photo of George and Carole:
This is an original 8″ x 10″ photo from a newspaper file, received Feb. 6, 1935, and you can buy it for $28.88. To learn more, visit http://cgi.ebay.com/1935-Carole-Lombard-George-Raft-Rumba-Wire-Photo-/270727317044?pt=Art_Photo_Images&hash=item3f089b0634.
Next, a Lombard solo shot to promote the film:
The snipe on back reads, “GLAMOROUS CAROLE — The Lombard girl at Paramount, who is at present appearing opposite George Raft in ‘Rumba,’ being directed by Marion Gering.”
This original portrait, p1202-948, shows Carole in bangs and was received in February 1935 as well. It’s 7/5″ x 10″ and deemed in good condition, though it’s had some wear and minor creasing over the years. It’s also a “buy it now” item, though this will set you back $100. Interested? Go to http://cgi.ebay.com/1935-Carole-Lombard-Rumba-VINTAGE-1930s-Movie-PHOTO-26f-/380256193133?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item5889090a6d.
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Learn more about 1920s film…daily
Posted by vp19 on 2011.05.23 at 03:39
Current mood: pleased
Researching film history in general is fascinating for me; when such history involves Carole Lombard, it holds added importance. And towards that end, here’s some welcome news involving a site I’ve mentioned before, the Media History Digital Library (http://www.archive.org/details/mediahistory). The library, whose items include Photoplay from 1925 through 1930, has just added another publication from that era — the files of Film Daily from 1922 through 1929.
Unlike Photoplay, which was a fan magazine, Film Daily was a trade publication, printed every day but Saturday. (The Sunday issues were traditionally larger and usually featured color in advertising.) It was basically meant for industry executives and theater owners, but there were updates on actors, directors and other personnel as well as brief film reviews on Sundays — not only for feature films, but many short subjects as well.
It’s remarkable to peruse the archives and get an idea of what the film industry was like, especially during 1928 — when Hollywood began to realize that unlike several previous attempts to make pictures talk, this time sound was not a novelty — and 1929, when the business was in tumult trying to retool itself for “talkies.”
Unlike microfilm, these scans are in full color, and some of the special advertising sections promoting individual studios are dazzling. Check out the June 18, 1929 section on Fox talkies (http://www.archive.org/stream/filmdaily4748newy#page/n1431/mode/2up), and the introduction of Radio Pictures on July 15 (http://www.archive.org/stream/filmdaily4950newy#page/106/mode/2up).
Another advantage of the Media History Digital Library is that these files are searchable. According to David Pierce, the man behind the site (and someone to whom all film researchers owe thanks), here’s how it works:
You can start here (http://www.archive.org/details/mediahistory) and choose a volume — such as this one (http://www.archive.org/details/filmdaily4950newy).
On the left, under “view the book” you can download the PDF and use the built in search function to do text searches. (If you own a copy of Acrobat (not the free reader), you can search across multiplevolumes at the same time.
Or you can open the volume using the “read online” option and there is a search box in the upper right corner.
I used the latter, and discovered that the first reference to Lombard in Film Daily came not in 1925, when she appeared in a few films for Fox, but on Feb. 20, 1927, in the following blurb:
Cameramen’s Frolic March 12
The Junior Cameramen’s Club is to hold its first annual dance and entertainment at the Hollywood Masonic Temple March 12. Hank Mann will be master of ceremonies assisted by Sammy Blum, Arthur Lake, Sammy Cohen, Nick Stuart, Carol Lombard, George Blandford and Barbara Luddy.
Lombard, trying to make her way back into the industry following her 1926 auto accident, may have hooked up with the Junior Cameramen while trying to learn the tricks of the trade (that’s strictly conjecture on my part). The only other name I recognize from that list is Lake, who years later would play Dagwood in the “Blondie” series of films.
Carole’s networking must have paid off, because the following ran in the June 24, 1927 issue:
Sennett Plans More Bathing Beauties
Hollywood — Mack Sennett will feature 12 girls in a series of the “Bathing Beauties” type, which Eddie Cline will direct. Sennett already has chosen Carol Lombard, Anita Barnes, Katherine Stanley, Leota Winter and Marie Tergain for the series.
Two items below the Sennett blurb was an announcement that Greta Nissen had been hired to play opposite John Barrymore in “Tempest.” That was the film Lombard had tested for just before her auto accident. But that was in the past, and Carole readied for her new status as a Sennett girl. Here she is in 1928’s “Run, Girl, Run,” watching diminutive Daphne Pollard kiss her beau:
This week’s header features Carole in triplicate. Enjoy.
Yet more from Tally
Posted by vp19 on 2011.05.22 at 00:57
Current mood: excited
Tally Haugen’s recently acquired array of Carole Lombard newspaper and magazine clippings is the gift that keeps on giving for Lombard fans. And we have a few more assorted items to share with you.
From the reference to “Made For Each Other,” we know this is almost certainly from early 1939, and it’s unfortunate we don’t have the photos of Constance and Joan Bennett that are referred to (by this time, Joan had revitalized her career by turning brunette).
The slightly risque captions (not to mention Carole’s scanty outfit) are indications the clipping on the left is from Film Fun or a magazine of its ilk in 1932, when “Virtue” was released. Its partner is an advertisement for Old Gold, one of several cigarette brands Lombard endorsed over the years.
Two photos that appeared in the Los Angeles Times -- one from “Bolero” in February 1934, the next promoting “Now And Forever” six months later.
Finally, a photo split into two parts, showing Carole with Fernand Gravet and director Mervyn LeRoy during filming of “Fools For Scandal.”
Some fascinating stuff; we look forward to more.
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A clearance on Carole
Posted by vp19 on 2011.05.21 at 01:32
Current mood: enthralled
For a student of Carole Lombard’s still portraits, coming across a new one is always a delight, but difficult to do after years of searching. So this photo, p1202-742 from 1934, is welcome news. Even better is learning where it cam fron.
It’s among 94 Lombard photos, all 8″ x 10″, on clearance from a seller in Brooklyn; each can be bought outright for $12.50, or you can choose to make an offer instead. They aren’t originals, but were printed in the 1980s or thereabouts on photostock paper. To bid or learn more on the one above, go to http://cgi.ebay.com/Carole-Lombard-ONE-8×10-bxw-photo-CLEARANCE-30-/370504774742?pt=Art_Photo_Images&hash=item5643ce3456.
What makes this exciting is seeing that the batch includes several images I was not familiar with, some of the lesser-known Lombard portraits. There’s a good chance a few of these will be new to you as well. Here are some of mine:
This one is lovely, but unfortunately someone cropped out the p1202 number when reproducing the image, where Carole’s hands and hair come to the forefront. It is sold at http://cgi.ebay.com/Carole-Lombard-ONE-8×10-bxw-photo-CLEARANCE-12-/390308932978?pt=Art_Photo_Images&hash=item5ae039ad72.
Here’s p1202-857; we’ve seen similar photos of Lombard in that outfit, in that chair, but not in that pose. To buy or make an offer, visit http://cgi.ebay.com/Carole-Lombard-ONE-8×10-bxw-photo-CLEARANCE-40-/370504775055?pt=Art_Photo_Images&hash=item5643ce358f.
Can’t quite make out the p1202 number at the bottom, but just from the coat, I know that’s a portrait I’ve never seen before. Find it at http://cgi.ebay.com/Carole-Lombard-ONE-8×10-bxw-photo-CLEARANCE-36-/390308933323?pt=Art_Photo_Images&hash=item5ae039aecb.
Someone at Paramount should have had heeded the lesson of this photo, p1202-343, and used a dark marker for that earlier image. This one can be seen at http://cgi.ebay.com/Carole-Lombard-ONE-8×10-bxw-photo-CLEARANCE-55-/370505831686?pt=Art_Photo_Images&hash=item5643de5506.
This is p1202-1402, from late 1936 or early ’37. If you’re interested, drop by http://cgi.ebay.com/Carole-Lombard-ONE-8×10-bxw-photo-CLEARANCE-66-/390310051600?pt=Art_Photo_Images&hash=item5ae04abf10.
And finally, p1202-676, a sleek, lovely Lombard (and with a dark marker on a light background). It is at http://cgi.ebay.com/Carole-Lombard-ONE-8×10-bxw-photo-CLEARANCE-56-/390310051622?pt=Art_Photo_Images&hash=item5ae04abf26.
The entire collection of Carole clearance portraits can be found at http://stores.ebay.com/machinist-43stuff/aa-one-8×10-photo-CLEARANCE-/_i.html?_nkw=Carole+Lombard&_fsub=1676569011&_ipg=30&_sasi=1&_sid=723087901&_sop=1&_trksid=p4634.c0.m322&_vc=1. For some, the offers expire next Wednesday; for others, the following Sunday.
These clippings are ‘What They Wanted’
Posted by vp19 on 2011.05.20 at 00:01
Current mood: moody
“They Knew What They Wanted,” which was released in the fall of 1940 and would turn out to be Carole Lombard’s final excursion into drama, has a rather unsettled history. It’s been said Lombard and co-star Charles Laughton had little fondness for each other, and yet neither could claim prior ignorance of their differences, since they had teamed up never seven years earlier for the campy Paramount programmer “White Woman.”
In contrast, “They Knew What They Wanted” was a top-line item from the get-go. It was an adaptation of Sidney Howard’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play from the 1920s, though some of the story was watered down to appease Joseph Breen and industry censors. RKO hoped that with Laughton, a former Academy Award winner, and Lombard, a past best actress nominee, this would be a prestige production that could make some noise come Oscar time. (Neither of the leads would be nominated, though William Gargan secured a best supporting actor nomination.)
The latest batch of Lombard clippings scanned my way from Tally Haugen provides some background into the film, from both contemporary newspapers and fan magazines, as well as quite a few rare photographs. We’ll kick it off with sort of an alpha and omega — part of a Louella Parsons column from March 1940 stating Lombard and Laughton had been cast in the leads, alongside a review of the movie from Kate Cameron of the New York Daily News and a photo of Carole with director Garson Kanin and a floral horseshoe:
A fan magazine took a publicity photo of Carole and Charles, then added a caption:
The fan magazine Movies ran a two-page spread of location photos, including a trio of a jovial Lombard and Laughton at right:
Such poses weren’t enough to quiet the chatter that the co-stars were not on the best of terms. So a fan magazine (not sure which one) decided to “investigate.”
It’s hard not to get a kick out of the drawings of Lombard and Laughton in boxing mode (evoking memories of “Nothing Sacred”). And how about that photo of Stuart and Elizabeth Peters coming up to Napa to check out action on the set? (A little known fact: Elizabeth was at the Hollywood premiere of “Citizen Kane” at the El Capitan theatre in May 1941. One guesses that Lombard was invited by Orson Welles, but was reluctant to go for fear of antagonizing William Randolph Hearst and her good friend, Marion Davies. Welles arranged a private screening of “Kane” for Carole and Clark Gable later that year. Below is the exterior of the RKO lot in ’41; you can see the ad for “Kane,” and a note that the El Capitan was the only Los Angeles theater showing the film.)
So was there genuine tension between Lombard and Laughton during the filming of “They Knew What They Wanted,” or was it overblown? I’ll leave the verdict up to you.
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This month’s heiress: When Stanwyck went ‘Mad’
Posted by vp19 on 2011.05.19 at 06:55
Current mood: amused
The heiress was a frequent figure of comedies from the mid- and late 1930s. Carole Lombard’s Irene Bullock in 1936’s “My Man Godfrey” was among the most famous of such characters, though the first to reach popular consciousness came two years earlier, when Claudette Colbert portrayed Ellie Andrews in “It Happened One Night.”
Many of the great actresses of the era became comic heiresses on screen (including Myrna Loy, the de facto title character in “Libeled Lady”). This entry examines what happened when another classic star gave it a try…specifically, Barbara Stanwyck in an RKO film called “The Mad Miss Manton,” which aired on Turner Classic Movies the other day:
Stanwyck portrays East Side heiress Melsa Manton, ringleader of a group of fun-loving young socialites whose pranks exasperate police and give her a rather screwy reputation. This causes trouble for Melsa when she comes across a corpse in an empty mansion on 14th Street one night; in fact, editor Peter Ames (Henry Fonda) writes an editorial castigating Manton for causing more pain for city authorities.
Feeling like a libeled lady herself, Melsa visits his office to threaten a lawsuit, and while she and Peter initially can’t stand each other, as so often happens in such films, that negative attraction soon turns positive as he helps Melsa and crew track down the culprit. En route to solving the murder, Peter is frequently victim of the Manton troupe.
This was the first of three Fonda-Stanwyck teamings, and truth be told, during filming Henry often felt as constrained as his character did in that shot. “I was so mad on this picture — I resented it,” he later said of the film. Understandably so, as it was a female comedy vehicle and not the strongest of screwballs. (Philip G. Epstein of “Casablanca” fame wrote the screenplay, as he did with another unsuccessful screwball heiress film, Bette Davis’ “The Bride Came C.O.D.,” in 1941. Perhaps that’s why he decided not to make Ilsa an heiress.)
“Manton” is hardly prime Stanwyck, but she goes at it with her usual elan in a role one can imagine Lombard playing (though by mid-1938, when the film was made for an October release, Carole would have deemed it “been there, done that”). However, RKO initially envisioned this as a vehicle for Katharine Hepburn, a followup to the solid, if somewhat overrated “Bringing Up Baby.” Kate turned it down and Stanwyck, who needed an assignment, took over.
Manton’s army of seven demented debutantes — sort of a prelude to the “seven dwarfs” that would be seen in a later Stanwyck film, “Ball Of Fire” — parade around in fur coats much of the time. If you’re a fur fetishist, you’ll love this movie, which one site labels “the best fur fashion film of all time” (http://furglamor.com/2010/01/03/furs-on-film-the-mad-miss-manton/). But it wasn’t an easy shoot; exteriors were shot on the Columbia ranch in Burbank in midsummer 100-degree heat, not much fun in a mink stole.
Stanwyck is her usual professional self, and Fonda holds up well despite his obvious disdain for the film, but the best performance in “Manton” may arguably be Hattie McDaniel (billed on screen as “Hattie McDaniels”), a year before her Oscar-winning triumph in “Gone With The Wind.” She plays Melsa’s maid Hilda, but she’s no subservient black stereotype by any means.
Hilda greets Peter with a pitcher of water (though she actually likes him, telling him she used distilled water) and makes snide remarks about some of Melsa’s dimwitted society pals which her employer appreciates. When one of them says, “Comes the revolution, and we’ll start being exploited by our help,” Melsa glances at Hilda and says, “In my home, the revolution is here.”
Such impudence caused some tension in Hollywood, and Joseph Breen reminded RKO that it “may be objectionable in the South where the showing of Negroes on terms of familiarity and social equality is resented.” Some cuts were apparently made, but the core of Hilda’s character remained.
“The Mad Miss Manton” isn’t top-flight screwball, but it’s worth seeing once. And Fonda and Stanwyck would make a more memorable teaming in 1941 for Preston Sturges’ “The Lady Eve”:
Two more from p1202
Posted by vp19 on 2011.05.18 at 00:01
Current mood: content
Above is p1202-10, one of the first Paramount portrait of Carole Lombard, probably taken in the spring of 1930 after she was hired to play a supporting role in “Safety In Numbers.” Over the next seven-plus years at Paramount, Lombard would be seen in about 1,800 such photos, as well as others listed and coded for specific films and some that simply were never coded at all.
Two of those original p1202 pics are currently being sold at eBay.
First, p1202-679, as Lombard proudly welcomes older brother Stuart Peters to the set of “We’re Not Dressing.” Carole’s co-star, Bing Crosby, looks a bit befuddled, as if he can’t make up his mind whether to appear in character or as himself for this shot.
It’s 7 3/4″ x 9 3/4″, in excellent shape (with a snipe on the back), and can be yours for $94.95. If interested, check out http://cgi.ebay.com/Vintage-Carole-Lombard-HER-BROTHER-34-DBW-Candid-/380338214151?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item588dec9507.
The same seller has this item, p1202-1411, from 1936:
It’s slightly larger than the other one (8″ x 10″), in sepia tone and in excellent shape. This is being sold for $249.95; to find out more, visit http://cgi.ebay.com/VINTAGE-Carole-Lombard-36-GORGEOUS-GLAMOUR-Portrait-/380338214148?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item588dec9504.
Lombard, with some Spanish spice
Posted by vp19 on 2011.05.17 at 00:00
Current mood: impressed
The year 1933 was an intriguing one for Carole Lombard. While she hadn’t quite gained complete traction as a film star, she continued to make advances as an actress. Her personal life was highlighted by a divorce from William Powell, though they remained friendly and even dated a few times after their split.
Early in the year, Feb. 5 to be precise, a magazine in Madrid, Spain, put Lombard on its cover:
Here’s a closer look at the top and bottom of the cover:
Spanish isn’t my primary foreign language, but I can make out enough to know the caption is commenting on Carole’s rather flimsy, “see-through” outfit.
The magazine, Cronica, measures 15″ x 11.5″, with 28 pages. Bids begin at $9.99 — no bids have been made as of this writing — and bids close at 5:08 p.m. (Eastern) on Monday. If you’re interested in this Lombard rarity, go to http://cgi.ebay.com/Vintage-CAROLE-LOMBARD-Cronica-Large-Euro-Mag-1933-/310319444501?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item48407af215.
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CMBA Movies of 1939 Blogathon: “Made For Each Other”
Posted by vp19 on 2011.05.16 at 01:00
Current mood: artistic
The biggest news Carole Lombard made in 1939 probably wasn’t on the movie screen, but in real life, when after several years of waiting, she was finally able to wed Clark Gable. That isn’t meant as a knock on her screen work that year, however. She made two movies in ’39, both opposite leading men reaching filmdom’s top tier. One was Cary Grant (“In Name Only”); this entry deals with her other co-star of ’39, James Stewart, who teamed up with her for a drama with comedic overtones called “Made For Each Other.” It would be part of a year’s cinematic output that put him on the map for good.
As ’39 began, Stewart was hardly unknown to the moviegoing public. He had appeared in “You Can’t Take It With You,” which would win the Academy Award winner for best picture of 1938, but it was an ensemble piece and he didn’t have to carry the film. Other notable appearances had been in “Born To Dance” with Eleanor Powell, in which he introduced the Cole Porter standard “Easy To Love” (although Stewart would have been the first to admit he was no singer) and “Vivacious Lady” with Ginger Rogers. While Stewart was engaging, he had yet to fully assert himself on screen. Of “Born To Dance,” Alistair Cooke wrote at the time, “There is James Stewart, trying to be ingenious and charming like Gary Cooper, but many tricks and light years behind.”
In 1939, Stewart would go beyond a mere Cooper clone, and it all began with “Made For Each Other” (filmed in the fall of 1938, but not released until the following February), which Stewart, an MGM contract player, made on loanout to Selznick International. He plays a young attorney who falls for Lombard; they get married and have a baby. The film, directed by John Cromwell (who would also direct “In Name Only”), well conveys the highs and lows of domestic life — although the final third of the movie, where their child’s life is endangered by a disease that needs a rare vaccine, devolves into melodrama — and James and Carole have a solid cinematic chemistry. (They would team up for several radio appearances over the next two years, and although each would perform “Made For Each Other” for “Lux Radio Theater,” it would be opposite other actors — Fred MacMurray with Lombard in 1940, Marsha Hunt with Stewart in 1945.)
“Made For Each Other” received warm reviews. Frank S. Nugent in the New York Times wrote, “It is a richly human picture they have created, human and therefore comic, sentimental and poignant by turns.” (His paper would list it among its top ten films of the year.) John Alden in the Minneapolis Tribune -- who said he still preferred Lombard in comedic roles — wrote, “Jimmy Stewart is becoming better and better, in our humble opinion, with every picture. His naturalness and freshness haven’t been lost, and at the same time they haven’t begun to pall on us.”
But did MGM notice? The first film Stewart made for the studio in ’39 was a lackluster vehicle called “Ice Follies Of 1939,” in which we see him partnered in a ridiculous romantic triangle with Joan Crawford and Lew Ayres, featuring spectacle from the real-life Shipstad and Johnson ice troupe in Metro’s attempt to cash in on the Sonja Henie ice craze. Fortunately, his next film at MGM was more substantial: a little comedy, directed by W.S. Van Dyke of “Thin Man” fame and co-starring Claudette Colbert, called “It’s A Wonderful World.” It’s plenty of fun, and because its title is similar to that of Stewart’s most famous film, it occasionally gets lost in the shuffle.
The eventual director of that other “Wonderful” film, Frank Capra (who’d worked with Stewart in “You Can’t Take It With You”), brought James back to Columbia to star in one of the year’s best-loved movies, “Mr. Smith Goes To Washington.” This movie, co-starring Jean Arthur, is arguably where Stewart as all-too-human hero comes to the fore; his speech before the Senate ranks as one of the high points of his career. The New York Film Critics named him best actor of 1939 for this performance, beating out the likes of Gable, Robert Donat and others.
Another studio (Universal), another leading lady (Marlene Dietrich!), another genre (comic western), and a completely different Stewart for “Destry Rides Again,” where James plays a sheriff who eschews violence a decade before making his series of acclaimed psychological westerns.
Not a bad way to close the year, arguably the best calendar year for an actor since William Powell in 1936 (although Powell’s output that year never had anything as tawdry as “Ice Follies”).
Stewart’s 1940 would be nearly as good: “The Shop Around The Corner,” directed by Ernst Lubitsch; “The Mortal Storm,” a look at life in Nazi Germany; “No Time For Comedy,” an adaptation of a play; and “The Philadelphia Story,” for which he would win an Oscar as best actor. For a two-year stretch, Stewart’s output would be difficult to beat. And following World War II, he returned as an actor of unique complexity, with a maturity and edge largely absent in his earlier roles. But Stewart’s star began to shine for good in 1939…and it all started with “Made For Each Other.”
This week’s header shows Carole on the phone, kicking up her heels. (Maybe she’s excited about this blogathon, too.)
For the list and links to the various entries, go to http://clamba.blogspot.com/2011/04/classic-movies-of-1939-blogathon-may-15.html.
A dictionary for the flapper flock
Posted by vp19 on 2011.05.15 at 00:05
Current mood: amused
Carole Lombard is “The Campus Vamp” in a scene from that 1928 Mack Sennett short, using her wiles and sex appeal to wield power over just about every male student at that college. Was she a flapper? Most likely, but by that time flappers were nothing new.
They arrived on the scene at roughly the turn of the decade, at just about the time the Nineteenth Amendment gave women in all states the right to vote. An increasingly urbanized America was changing its mores, and the flapper character fit right in with the newfound feminine modernity.
By 1922, there was even a magazine dedicated to this new breed of womanhood, a Chicago-based publication appropriately called The Flapper:
Labeled “Not For Old Fogies,” the monthly magazine celebrated the flapper lifestyle. It apparently didn’t last very long — its first issue was dated May 1922, and I can’t find one past November — but it provides a fascinating glimpse into American youth culture of the time.
And, thanks to an April entry in the blog “Book flaps: Musings of a small-town book peddler” (http://bookflaps.blogspot.com/2011/04/flappers-dictionary.html), I discovered that the July 1922 issue of The Flapper featured something called the “Flapper’s Dictionary,” an array of terms to use in your crowd to emphasize that you indeed were not an old fogie. According to the anonymous author, “The flapper movement is not a craze, but something that will stay. Many of the phrases now employed by members of this order will eventually find a way into common usage and be accepted as good English.”
Here’s the list of lingo; judge for yourself whether the author was right. And remember these phrases for your next Roaring ’20s party or when you ride that time machine back to Prohibition days:
Absent treatment -— Dancing with a bashful partner.
Airedale —- A homely man.
Alarm clock —- Chaperone.
Anchor —- Box of flowers.
Apple knocker —- A hick; a hay-shaker.
Apple sauce — Flattery; bunk.
Barlow -— A girl, a flapper, a chicken.
Bank’s closed -— No petting allowed; no kisses.
Barneymugging -— Lovemaking.
Bee’s knees -— See “Cat’s pajamas.”
Bell polisher —- A young man addicted to lingering in vestibules at 1 a.m.
Bean picker -— One who patches up trouble and picks up spilled beans.
Berry patch -— A man’s particular interest in a girl.
Berries —- Great.
Biscuit —- A pettable flapper.
Big timer (n. masc.) -— A charmer able to convince his sweetie that a jollier thing would be to get a snack in an armchair lunchroom; a romantic.
Billboard -— Flashy man or woman.
Blushing violet -— A publicity hound.
Blouse —- To go.
Blow —- Wild party.
Blaah —- No good.
Boob tickler —- Girl who entertains father’s out-of-town customers.
Brush ape -— Anyone from the sticks; a country Jake.
Brooksy -— Classy dresser
Bust -— A man who makes his living in the prize ring, a pugilist.
Bun duster -— See “Cake eater.”
Bush hounds -— Rustics and others outside of the Flapper pale.
Cancelled stamp —- A wallflower.
Cake basket -— A limousine.
Cake eater -— See “Crumb gobbler.”
Cat’s particulars -— The acme of perfection; anything that’s good
Cat’s pajamas -— Anything that’s good
Cellar smeller -— A young man who always turns up where liquor is to be had without cost.
Clothesline -— One who tells neighborhood secrets.
Corn shredder -— Young man who dances on a girl’s feet.
Crepe hanger -— Reformer.
Crumb gobbler -— Slightly sissy tea hound.
Crasher -— Anyone who comes to parties uninvited.
Crashing party -— Party where several young men in a group go uninvited.
Cuddle cootie -— Young man who takes a girl for a ride on a bus, gas wagon or automobile.
Cuddler -— One who likes petting.
Dapper —- A flapper’s father.
Dewdropper -— Young man who does not work, and sleeps all day.
Dincher -— A half-smoked cigarette.
Dingle dangler -— One who insists on telephoning.
Dipe ducat —- A subway ticket.
Dimbox -— A taxicab.
Di Mi -— Goodness.
Dogs -— Feet.
Dog kennels -— Pair of shoes.
Dropping the pilot -— Getting a divorce.
Dumbdora —- Stupid girl.
Duck’s quack -— The best thing ever.
Ducky —- General term of approbation.
Dud —- Wallflower.
Dudding up —- Dressing.
Dumbbell — Wallflower with little brains.
Dumkuff —- General term for being “nutty” or “batty.”
Edisoned -— Being asked a lot of questions.
Egg harbor -— Free dance.
Embalmer -— A bootlegger.
Eye opener —- A marriage.
Father Time —- Any man over 30 years of age.
Face stretcher —- Old maid who tries to look younger.
Feathers -— Light conversation.
Fire extinguisher —- A chaperone.
Finale hopper —- Young man who arrives after everything is paid for.
Fire alarm —- Divorced woman.
Fire bell —- Married woman.
Flap -— Girl
Flat shoes -— Fight between a Flapper and her Goof
Fluky —- Funny, odd, peculiar; different.
Flatwheeler -— Slat shy of money; takes girls to free affairs.
Floorflusher —- Inveterate dance hound.
Flour lover -— Girl who powders too freely.
Forty-Niner -— Man who is prospecting for a rich wife.
Frog’s eyebrows —- Nice, fine.
Gander —- Process of duding up.
Green glorious —- Money and checks.
Gimlet -— A chronic bore.
Given the air —- When a girl or fellow is thrown down on a date.
Give your knee —- Cheek-to-cheek or toe-to-toe dancing.
Goofy -— To be in love with, or attracted to. Example: “I’m goofy about Jack.”
Goat’s whiskers -— See “Cat’s particulars.”
Goof -— Sweetie.
Grummy -— In the dumps, shades or blue.
Grubber -— One who always borrows cigarettes.
Handcuff -— Engagement ring.
Hen coop -— A beauty parlor.
His blue serge -— His sweetheart.
Highjohn -— Young man friend; sweetie, cutey, highboy.
Hopper -— Dancer.
Houdini —- To be on time for a date.
Horse prancer -— See “Corn shredder.”
Hush money -— Allowance from father.
Jane -— A girl who meets you on the stoop.
Johnnie Walker -— Guy who never hires a cab.
Kitten’s ankles -— See “Cat’s particulars.”
Kluck -— Dumb, but happy.
Lap -— Drink.
Lallygagger —- A young man addicted to attempts at hallway spooning.
Lens Louise -— A person given to monopolizing conversation.
Lemon squeezer -— An elevator.
Low lid —- The opposite of highbrow.
Mad money —- Carfare home if she has a fight with her escort.
Meringue -— Personality.
Monkey’s eyebrows —- See “Cat’s particulars.”
Monog -— A young person of either sex who is goofy about only one person at a time.
Monologist -— Young man who hates to talk about himself.
Mustard plaster —- Unwelcome guy who sticks around.
Munitions -— Face powder and rouge.
Mug —- To osculate or kiss.
Necker -— A petter who puts her arms around a boy’s neck.
Noodle juice -— Tea.
Nosebaggery -— Restaurant.
Nut cracker -— Policeman’s nightstick.
Obituary notice -— Dunning letter.
Oilcan —- An imposter.
Orchid —- Anything that is expensive.
Out on parole -— A person who has been divorced.
Petting pantry -— Movie.
Petting party -— A party devoted to hugging.
Petter —- A loveable person; one who enjoys to caress.
Pillow case -— Young man who is full of feathers.
Police dog -— Young man to whom one is engaged.
Potato -— A young man shy of brains.
Ritzy burg -— Not classy.
Ritz —- Stuck-up.
Rock of ages -— Any woman over 30 years of age.
Rug hopper —- Young man who never takes a girl out. A parlor hound.
Sap —- A flapper term for floorflusher.
Scandal —- A short term for scandal walk.
Scandaler —- A dance floor fullback. The interior of a dreadnaught hat, Piccadilly shoes with open plumbing, size 13.
Seetie -— Anybody a flapper hates.
Sharpshooter -— One who spends much and dances well.
Shifter -— Another species of flapper.
Show case -— Rich man’s wife with jewels.
Sip -— Flapper term for female Hopper.
Slat —- See “Highjohn”; “Goof.”
Slimp -— Cheapskate or “one way guy.”
Smith Brothers -— Guys who never cough up.
Smoke eater -— A girl cigarette user.
Smooth —- Guy who does not keep his word.
Snake —- To call a victim with vampire arms.
Snuggleup —- A man fond of petting and petting parties.
Sod buster -— An undertaker.
Stilts —- Legs.
Stander -— Victim of a female grafter.
Static —- Conversations that mean nothing.
Strike breaker -— A young woman who goes with her friend’s “steady” while there is a coolness.
Swan —- Glide gracefully.
Tomato -— A young woman shy of brains.
Trotzky (sic) -— Old lady with a moustache and chin whiskers.
Umbrella -— young man any girl can borrow for the evening.
Urban set —- Her new gown.
Walk in —- Young man who goes to a party without being invited.
Weasel —- Girl stealer.
Weed —- Flapper who takes risks.
Weeping willow -— See “Crepe hanger.”
Whangdoodle —- Jazz-band music.
Whiskbroom —- Any man who wears whiskers.
Wind sucker -— Any person given to boasting.
Wurp -— Killjoy or drawback.
Interesting terms, doncha think? One wonders if Jane Alice Peters was using any of the terms while at Virgil Junior High School in ’22, or if a few years later the renamed Carole Lombard, Joan Crawford and company said such lingo while dancing at the Cocoanut Grove at the Hotel Ambassador in 1925.
We can guess the teenage Lombard steered clear of any potential “smooth” or “potato,” made sure to stock up on “munitions” before enjoying any “whangdoodle,” and enjoyed being a “sip” while showing off her “stilts.”
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Leggy in linen
Posted by vp19 on 2011.05.14 at 01:09
Current mood: flirty
Beginning with her starlet days at Fox in the mid-twenties, Carole Lombard was known for her attractive legs, which she regularly showed off (above is part of a publicity portrait for 1932’s “No Man Of Her Own”). So it’s understandable that during the early 1930s, Paramount frequently played up her shapely legs in photos. Here’s a sample, p1202-158:
This is an original linen photo from about 1931, measuring 7 1/2″ x 9 1/2″, slightly trimmed and sepia toned. We’ve seen Carole in similar photos using this setting, but this one, flashing plenty of gam, is new to me.
You can buy it for $49.99. If interested, go to http://cgi.ebay.com/30s-Sexy-Carole-Lombard-VINTAGE-Linen-Movie-PHOTO-924B-/200606904975?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item2eb51a728f.
To paraphrase that old hosiery slogan, nothing beats a great Lombard leg.
This window card ‘Comes Across’
Posted by vp19 on 2011.05.13 at 00:00
Current mood: enthralled
“The Princess Comes Across” may not be top-tier Carole Lombard (shown with Alison Skipworth), but it has its charms, not the least of which is Lombard using a mock Swedish accent as she tries to pass herself off as a Swedish princess sailing across the Atlantic, bound for Hollywood and film fame.
An artifact from that film that I’ve never seen before is currently being auctioned at eBay. It’s a window card, but instead of measuring the usual 14″ x 22″, it’s a mere 14″ x 18″ (evidently the top part, in which the theater’s name and dates the film was playing would appear, was cut off; you can’t tell whether or not it had been used for that purpose):
Want a closeup of Carole? You’ve got it:
It’s got a few smudges and signs of wear, but for something three-quarters of a century old, it’s in reasonably good shape.
Bids on this begin at $149.99; as of this writing, no bids have been placed. Bidding ends at 9:03 p.m. (Eastern) next Tuesday. If you’re interested in this item, visit http://cgi.ebay.com/CAROLE-LOMBARD-PRINCESS-COMES-ACROSS-WINDOW-CARD-1936-/380338909419?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item588df730eb.
Carole plays nurse
Posted by vp19 on 2011.05.12 at 00:59
Current mood: grateful
Today, May 12, is International Nurses’ Day, not coincidentally the day of Florence Nightingale’s birth. In honor of the day, and of all the wonderful work nurses do for us, some images from a film where Carole Lombard portrayed a nurse…
“Vigil In The Night,” directed by George Stevens and released in early 1940, is rarely considered one of Lombard’s top films, even though she gives an earnest, heartfelt performance. But it’s a drama, and a fairly solemn drama at that. To those who prefer their Carole on the lighter side, it’s not easy to watch. But after experiencing her share of days in the hospital for an array of ailments, Lombard certainly appreciated the work nurses did, and one guesses those recollections probably helped her in her portrayal. “Vigil” is still considered one of the better movies made about the nursing profession.
So for all you nurses out there, some stills from “Vigil”:
“Vigil In The Night” will be shown on Turner Classic Movies in the U.S. on Aug. 28, the day Lombard is honored during TCM’s 2011 edition of “Summer Under The Stars.” We hope the channel shows the ending shown in overseas markets, where Carole and the other characters react to Great Britain going to war in September 1939 following Germany’s invasion of Poland. (The movie is set in England.) TCM showed this alternate ending during the 2006 SUTS, though it hasn’t done likewise on subsequent airings of the film.
Carole and Fred, via Tally
Posted by vp19 on 2011.05.11 at 01:10
Current mood: busy
What are Carole Lombard and Fred MacMurray doing behind bars, especially when we know it’s not from “True Confession”? (Fred has no mustache…and he isn’t fooling anyone with his scowl.) Looks like the photographer had some fun with it; supposedly it’s from “Hands Across The Table.”
That photo above comes from the latest batch of Carole clippings courtesy of Tally Haugen, and today we’re going to examine a few items related to the four movies Lombard and MacMurray made together (also her final four films at Paramount). “Hands” has been taken care of, so now let’s go to “The Princess Comes Across”:
There are two articles here. The first is from New York-based Norbert Lusk, a well-known writer of the time who worked for Picture Play, the Los Angeles Times (which is where I believe this came from) and other publications. Interesting to see her that Lusk focuses on the directing of W.K. Howard, someone not all that well remembered among directors of that era, though he does say, “Miss Lombard’s acting can only be compared with her hit in ‘Hands Across The Table,’ and there are some critics who refuse to credit her with acting in that, even. These die-hards acknowledge her ability in the new film, however, while those who have always been aware of her cleverness and inclined to think she exceeds every past effort.”
Lusk became friends with a number of actresses, notably Joan Crawford, and later did some film publicity work before his sudden death in mid-1949.
The other item comes from “across the pond,” specifically the British magazine Film Pictorial of Nov. 14, 1936. This article, “How Plain Jane Became Carole The Glamorous,” has some delightful quotes from her, such as:
“Hollywood has always placed so much emphasis on the importance of its stars that perhaps the players themselves are not entirely to blame for developing false ideas of their own importance. … I hear stars talking about ‘their pictures,’ ‘their public,’ as though they and they only were the cause of it all. I have never forgotten — and I hope I never will forget — how much we owe to the scriptwriters, the director and the cutter. Why anyone goes high-hat in this business I can’t imagine.”
Next up…”Swing High, Swing Low”:
This review was written by Rose Pelswick, a longtime movie critic for Hearst in New York (she wrote for the chain into the 1960s); this was from the New York Evening Journal, not long before it merged with the morning American to form the Journal-American. Pelswick generally approved of the film, and note that in the final paragraph she makes reference to “the Armstrong band” at the Paramount theater — that’s Louis Armstrong’s orchestra performing in between showings. Lombard and Louis in Times Square? Not a bad combo.
Finally, “True Confession,” from near the end of ’37, and guess what magazine did a piece on it?
Why, True Confessions, of course. (A little log-rolling never hurt.)
And to close, a photo of the acquittal scene, which I believe ran in the Los Angeles Times of Nov. 7, 1937:
Twice the woman she was before: Carole goes Gish
Posted by vp19 on 2011.05.10 at 00:07
Current mood: chipper
We get two Carole Lombards for the price of one, thanks to the camerawork and mirrors employed by Paramount portrait artist Otto Dyar. But there’s another way to get multiple Caroles…trick photography. And here’s proof, and a quality version of an image I’ve been seeking for some time:
That’s Paramount p1202-736 from 1934, showing Carole, plus Carole. (Heck, the entry we ran the other day discussed her figurative ability to be two different women.) The snipe is headlined “ROLES THEY’LL NEVER PLAY,” where Carole would play twin orphans…”in which Carole would never stand being sent out into a snow storm for art or anyone else…”
It’s an obvious take-off on the 1922 D.W. Griffith film “Orphans Of The Storm,” starring Lillian and Dorothy Gish as waifs, one of them blind, struggling through the French Revolution:
Lombard probably saw the movie in her youth, and let’s face it — putting Carole in a costume drama didn’t play up to her strengths. (After her lone talking western, 1930’s “The Arizona Kid” at Fox, none of Lombard’s films was set in a time before the first World War, probably a reason she was never a serious contender in the Scarlett O’Hara derby.)
This photo has been a holy grail for some time; Carole Sampeck of The Lombard Archive had sent me a low-toned version, and I’m glad to finally have the image in high quality. It’s 7 1/2″ x 9 3/4″ and in excellent condition. Bidding begins at $94.95 (no bids have been placed as of yet), and bids close at 10:15 p.m. (Eastern) on Wednesday. To bid, or to learn more, go to http://cgi.ebay.com/Vintage-Carole-Lombard-34-UNUSUAL-DOUBLE-EXPOSURE-DBW-/380335373963?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item588dc13e8b.
A fan magazine, en francais
Posted by vp19 on 2011.05.09 at 00:00
Current mood: confused
Carole Lombard is dressed in fur for “Fools For Scandal,” which was partially set in Paris (or at least Warners’ interpretation of it, which hardly compares to the Paris supplied by Ernst Lubitsch at Paramount). We want to get you in a French state of mind, because the fan magazine excerpt in today’s entry — another item courtesy of Tally Haugen — just happens to be in that language.
It’s called “Carole Lombard et le marriage,” and I’m guessing it to be from 1938 or ’39. Unfortunately, I don’t know what magazine this is from, or even if it’s French Canadian or from France itself. We have three pages of the article, but it appears to be incomplete, judging from the rather abrupt ending.
Here are those pages, and even if you can’t read French, you can appreciate the photos, some of which are uncommon:
Interesting to see an article from the late 1930s bring up “Carole Lombard” and “marriage,” and yet there’s not a single reference to Clark Gable. That’s bizarre.
Anyone care to translate a few paragraphs to give us a better flavor of the piece? My French is a bit rusty.
We’ll leave you with this item, in English, showing Carole on the set of “My Man Godfrey,” evidently in a moment that’s been immortalized in a number of blooper compilations:
This week’s header shows Lombard the tennis player, in a shot taken by William Walling in 1936…and continuing the French theme, I believe we’re not far away from play on the clay of Roland Garros.
Mothers and movie stars
Posted by vp19 on 2011.05.08 at 01:23
Current mood: loved
That’s Carole Lombard in August 1933, being welcomed home by her mother, Bess Peters, after Carole’s return to California following her divorce from William Powell. (Lombard established Nevada residency for six weeks in order to qualify for a divorce.) With Carole is noted aviator Roscoe Turner, who had flown her back from Nevada.
As you might guess, we’re running that photo in honor of Mother’s Day. And while we’re at it, how about some images of other stars from that era with their mothers?
We’ll start with Jean Harlow and her mom (who actually was named Jean Harlow; her daughter was christened Harlean Carpenter, and decided to use mom’s moniker as a movie stage name):
Here’s a mother-and-daughter pose of one of Lombard’s Paramount stablemates, Claudette Colbert and her mom, Jeanne Loew Chauchoin, a pastry cook:
One of Hollywood’s best-known mother-daughter combos was Ginger Rogers with her mom, Lela:
Finally, Bette Davis and her mother, Ruth Augusta Davis:
The happiest of Mother’s Day to you — and to your mother.
Pay a vintage visit
Posted by vp19 on 2011.05.07 at 08:19
Current mood: nostalgic
A candid photo of Carole Lombard circa 1935, taken in the city she called home for more than four-fifths of her sadly brief life…Los Angeles. Until a time machine is invented, we can’t go back and experienced that rapidly-growing city as it was, the new chief metropolis of the West.
But thankfully, we can do the next best thing. And credit goes to a lady named Alison Martino, who grew up in LA as daughter of the late singer Al Martino (of “I Love You Because” fame and the film “The Godfather”). Now a TV producer, she experienced much of what made LA special in her youth — enough to comprehend what was lost when many of those venues fell victim to changing tastes and so-called “progress.”
Consequently, she began collecting items pertaining to Los Angeles of the past, initially focusing on the town in the ’50s through the ’80s, but expanding it into a Facebook site called “Vintage Los Angeles” (http://www.facebook.com/pages/Vintage-Los-Angeles/121097987946929), which at last count had close to 7,000 members. That in itself is impressive, but consider that it’s barely more than a month old. Obviously, Alison has struck a chord with thousands who either experienced vintage LA firsthand or, like me, are fascinated with a place they never visited. (I’m in the latter camp, as my first trip to LA came in June 1989.)
At last check, there were more than 1,400 photos, many from the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s but some that go back to pre-World War II Los Angeles, the city as Lombard knew it. For example, while people who lived during the 1960s might recall KHJ as a legendary Top 40 radio station, its heritage dates back much further; Bing Crosby regularly sang at the station in the early 1930s. And here’s the KHJ transmitting site in 1927:
Alison also has a blog dedicated to LA of the past, “Martino’s ‘Lost’ Angeles Time Table” (http://www.martinostimemachine.blogspot.com/), which features images such as the Earl Carroll Theatre on Sunset Boulevard:
By the late 1960s, that site was the short-lived Aquarius theater, and dig it in groovy, mind-blowing color:
It used to be fairly common to scoff at the concept of LA having a history. Thankfully, people now know better, and sites such as Vintage Los Angeles are a reason why.
Get your own Gable, gals: Here’s how
Posted by vp19 on 2011.05.06 at 01:59
Current mood: happy
So, how did she do it? Just how did Carole Lombard bag one of Hollywood’s major stars — Clark Gable? (Okay, so technically he was married, but to borrow a title of one of Lombard’s films, the public knew it was “in name only.”)
The June 1939 issue of Movie Mirror supplies the answer, and thanks to Tally Haugen, I can share it with you. And that answer is: be multiple women.
No, Carole hadn’t come up with a 1930s version of cloning herself. But depending upon the situation, she could make herself be a paragon of femininity at one time, show toughness the equal of any man at another.
Here’s the story, “How To Get Your Own Clark Gable,” by S.B. Mook:
(Isn’t that a great photo of Carole with James Stewart, apparently in the same Selznick International office where Lombard played studio publicist for a week?)
As was the case with the fan magazine story in yesterday’s entry, many, if not all, of the “quotes” attributed to Lombard are probably from the writer. At the same time, Mook (whom I believe to be male) does provide a more authentic “voice” for Carole than the earlier piece; you can actually imagine her saying some of these things. Such as:
“When we (women) go out at night we have to be strictly feminine. Our escorts expect it. They want to be flattered, to be listened to. They like to think we’re helpless little things — and so we play our parts. But we’re only playing.”
“It’s up to every working girl, whether she earns ten dollars a week or a thousand, to be a regular businessman and she has to be prepared to face a roomful of men and tell them what’s what. And with no masculine shoulder to lean on, either.”
“The day of the clinging vine is gone and I, for one, don’t mourn her passing. It’s one thing to let a man teach you to swim or play golf or tennis, but can you imagine what would happen if girls started swooning all over the place as they used to do? Or uttering silly little shrieks and jumping on chairs every time a bug appeared?”
“The sporting sections of the papers are no longer written for and read exclusively by men. Women are just as interested in these things. They have to be in order to talk with even a semblance of intelligence to their boyfriends about the things in which the latter are interested.”
“The only marriages today that last are those where the husband and wife have a community of interest and you can’t have anything in common with a man if you’ve constantly to be taken care of.”
Lombard the feminist, Lombard the feminine…some splendid advice that’s applicable even if you’re not a celebrity.
It’s no wonder that in the next-to-last paragraph, Mook describes “Carole as a gallant modern girl who knows how to get her man — because she has the qualities to hold him and make him happy.” And without sacrificing her own happiness, either.
Marriage and movies can’t mix
Posted by vp19 on 2011.05.05 at 02:15
Current mood: cynical
Oh, those happy loving couples, such as Carole Lombard and William Powell in 1931. So sure their marriage was eternal, so sure their romantic voyage would sail smoothly. By their second anniversary, that voyage had hit the rocks, and not long afterwards, they split — albeit absent of acrimony.
More than half a year following their divorce, in the May 1934 issue of Movie Story, Carole sat down with writer Sonia Lee and spoke her mind about why such marriages of celebrities are invariably doomed to failure. (OK, Lee likely paraphrased Lombard somewhat — I doubt most of these are direct quotes — but they probably are indicative of her feelings at the time.)
Intriguing reading, and just another sample from the colossal collection of Carole clippings that my friend Tally Haugen recently received and was generous enough to scan for me. Take a look:
Near the end, Carole says (or at least Lee has her say): “Some day, I suppose, I shall marry again, because no woman can determine her emotions.” And as fate would have it, on the front page of this article was a photo of Lombard in a love scene with Clark Gable, nearly two years before they became “an item” and close to half a decade before they would exchange vows.
(This issue also has a story on Carole’s new Hollywood Boulevard residence, described as “a home that could be a background for only a blonde.” Hope it’s stashed somewhere in Tally’s box.)
Finally, in memory of Jackie Cooper, who just passed away at age 88, here he is with Lombard on the Paramount lot from 1933, as Carole gives him a push in his go-cart “race” with Groucho and Harpo Marx:
‘Baby, let’s cruise…away from here…’
Posted by vp19 on 2011.05.04 at 07:10
Current mood: optimistic
That delightful nautical pose of Carole Lombard ties in with today’s entry, dealing with the recent TCM Classic Film Festival. It was a huge success, with attendance of about 25,000; passholders came from every state except West Virginia (what gives, Mountaineers?) as well as Canada, Italy, Romania, Poland, Australia, France and Argentina. Some of those fans can be seen inside Grauman’s Chinese Theater, waiting for one of the many classic film showings:
Consequently, the channel has announced that a third annual event will take place in 2012, but that’s not all. Before this year is out, TCM will sponsor its first-ever cruise. From the news release:
“The new TCM Classic Cruise is set for Dec. 8-12, 2011. It will be a five-day/four-night event aboard Celebrity Millennium. The multi-faceted, interactive experience is being planned by TCM in partnership with cruise production company Sixthman, the industry leader in theme cruises. The TCM Classic Cruise will sail from Miami to Key West and Cozumel.
“The TCM Classic Cruise will include live appearances by Hollywood legends, as well as exclusive events with [TCM host Robert] Osborne and TCM weekend daytime host Ben Mankiewicz. In addition to the ocean liner’s amenities, travelers will be treated to a wide variety of movie-themed events, from screenings and panel discussions to trivia contests and parties.”
Above is said boat, shown off the coast of Ketchikan, Alaska — a far cry from the terrain TCM cruisers will view this December.
More information on the event will gradually be announced in ensuing weeks. Again, from the release:
“Celebrity Millennium accommodates more than 2,000 passengers in 1,017 staterooms, 80 percent of which feature an ocean view. Pre-sale begins May 9 and run through May 19. Cabins go on sale publicly May 20. Prices for interior cabins start at $795, which also includes meals, entertainment, and onboard activities. Guests can visit http://www.tcmclassiccruise.com for more information and details on booking a reservation.”
All in all, another way for TCM to promote its brand to its zealous fan base and beyond. If you’re a landlubber and prefer to wait for the 2012 festival, go to http://www.tcm.com/festival for details, which will gradually be released.
Ready to set sail?
See Valentino for yourself this Friday
Posted by vp19 on 2011.05.03 at 00:07
Current mood: excited
Even from the start, Carole Lombard’s career crossed paths with just about everyone in the film industry…but there probably were a few exceptions. One of them will be honored on the 116th anniversary of his birth Friday.
He’s Rudolph Valentino, legendary lover of the silent screen. While it’s possible that Jane Alice Peters, just entering her teenage years, may have spotted Valentino at a premiere or related event, by the time she got into pictures in late 1924 and adopted the screen name Carole Lombard, she didn’t work at the same studio he did (she was at Fox, he was at Paramount). And in August 1926, when Valentino died unexpectedly during surgery, Lombard — not yet 18 — had no time to mourn, as she herself was recovering from plastic surgery to heal the scars from an automobile accident earlier that year, which led to Fox canceling her contract.
I am certain she saw at least a few of Rudy’s pictures; he was incredibly popular, particularly with female audiences.
Friday, American viewers who know Valentino only as a 1920s sex symbol rather than as an actor can get an idea of what he was like on screen, as Turner Classic Movies will air six of his films as a birthday commemoration.
“The Sheik” (shown above), arguably Rudy’s most famous role, isn’t on the schedule. Thanks to its runaway success, “sheik” quickly became a major twenties term for any amorous male; in fact, Hollywood High School’s athletic teams are called the Sheiks (the girls’ teams are called “Shebas,” after “Queen of”). All six of the films TCM are showing are from 1921 and ’22, not long after Valentino rose to worldwide fame. Here’s the schedule (all times Eastern):
* 8 a.m. – “Beyond The Rocks” (1922). Many people have heard of Valentino but have never seen him act, and the same can be said for the silent-era output of Gloria Swanson. You can kill two birds with one stone in this film, thought lost for decades before it turned up. There’s some decomposition near the end, but you’ll get to see what these two legends were like in this mountain adventure.
* 9:30 a.m. – “Moran Of The Lady Letty” (1922). Rudy goes from the mountains to the sea in this tale of playboy Rudy (whose character is named Ramon Laredo!) rescues a young woman (Dorothy Dalton) who’s been kidnapped by smuggles (she’s the “Moran” of the film’s title). A fun movie with some good maritime sequences.
* 10:45 a.m. – “The Young Rajah” (1922). Here, Valentino portrays an American boy who learns that he’s really an Indian ruler and must desert his sweetheart to reclaim his throne. A bit absurd, but nonetheless fun.
* 11:45 a.m. – “Camille” (1921). This ran on TCM’s “Sunday Silent Nights” not long ago, and here’s your chance to see it again. Alla Nazimova plays the title character with Rudy in a supporting part, as the story is transferred to more contemporary times with some stunning set design. One guesses Greta Garbo saw this while a teen in Sweden, not knowing that years later, she would star in a version that talked.
* 1 p.m. – “The Conquering Power” (1921). Here, Valentino plays a young man who falls for his wicked uncle’s stepdaughter (Alice Terry). Not one of his better-known films.
* 2:45 p.m. – “The Four Horsemen Of The Apocalypse” (1921). This is the film that put Rudy on the map, as he plays an Argentine of French descent who fights for his father’s country during the World War…and dances a mean tango (with Terry) in the process. Brilliantly done, one of the landmarks of the silent era.
Had Valentino lived to witness the arrival of sound, would he have been a star in talkies? Recordings exist of his voice, which sounds consistent with his persona. Would he have adjusted to the differing style talking pictures required, or would it have crippled him as it did John Gilbert? It’s a question we’ll never have an answer for.
On Friday, however, witness the work of the Valentino we do know. His natural acting may surprise you.
It’s hard out here for a star
Posted by vp19 on 2011.05.02 at 08:19
Current mood: working
Who’s with Carole Lombard in that picture, from the 1929 Pathe film “The Racketeer”? An actress named Hedda Hopper — that’s right, actress. Before gaining fame as a syndicated columnist based at the Los Angeles Times, Hopper (born 126 years ago today) acted on stage and in film.
Hopper indulged in a lot of gossip, the stock in trade of the Hollywood columnist, but her experience in the business gave her a perspective lacking in contemporaries such as Louella Parsons. Every now and then, she would write a column on what life in the film colony was really like, as if to show John and Jane Public that movie stardom wasn’t entirely glitz and glamour. In fact, much of it was grunt and grudgery.
Take this column, for instance, from April 30, 1939:
Regarding salaries, Hopper more or less confirmed what Carole Lombard had been saying the previous August about how high a percentage of taxes is taken from an actor’s salary (although Hedda, a staunch Republican, probably objected far more to their removal than New Dealer Lombard).
And the hours…as Hopper wrote, “Now let’s have a look at this easy life we hear about from those who have never lived it,” noting that studio employees — from stars to technicians — reported to studios at the crack of dawn to work. It wasn’t simply the early shift, either:
“Do you work 72 hours a week? A screen actress does when she’s on a picture. And if you’ve an idea our gals walk leisurely for coffee at 10 and call it a day at 4, you’re wrong. Movies aren’t made that way.”
Hedda also said the public’s fawning over stars had a flip side as well: “But when they try to snip a lock of hair as you go into the theater, or push you off the sidewalk and break your ankle, as they did Elizabeth Patterson — and it isn’t entirely healed yet — I don’t think that comes under the heading of ‘ease.'”
No doubt Lombard experienced some of that tension in public, but her fortright personality helped blunt any potential problems.
As Hopper concluded: “No, my friends, the money is never quite as big, nor the life as easy, as their paid press agents would have you believe.” Something stars like Carole and her one-time idol, Gloria Swanson, could vouch for.
This week’s header shows Lombard in lingerie (so you know it’s pre-Code) in a screencap from 1932’s “No Man Of Her Own.”
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Posted by vp19 on 2011.05.01 at 09:25
Current mood: confused
In her waning days as a teenager, Carole Lombard looks a bit bewildered in her role as a showgirl in the 1928 Pathe part-talkie programmer “Show Folks.” How did she get this way? An eBay seller provides a partial answer to those of us who haven’t seen the rarely-revived film. Check out this still photo of her with Eddie Quillan:
It’s easy to see how the Lombard of this era gained the nickname “Carol of the curves”; thanks to eating plenty of bananas (something suggested by Mack Sennett, her primary employer at the time), she looks more filled out than the sleek Lombard that gained fame in the ’30s.
This is an original 8″ x 10″ photo, listed in very good condition. One bid, for $9.99, has been made as of this writing, with bidding closing at 8:01 p.m. (Eastern) tonight. If you’re interested in this 83-year-old picture, visit http://cgi.ebay.com/Carole-Lombard-Show-Folks-ORIGINAL-1928-KEYSET-photo-/260773876881?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item3cb7559491.
The same seller has another 8″ x 10″ photo of Carole, made a few years later and revealing a drastically different side of her:
That’s a stern-looking Lombard with plantation owner Charles Laughton in a still from the steamy 1933 Paramount jungle melodrama “White Woman.” You can buy it for $12.99 by going to http://cgi.ebay.com/Carole-Lombard-White-Woman-ORIGINAL-1933-scene-still-/260776491078?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item3cb77d7846.
About 300 of the couple’s family and friends were invited to the evening reception that was hosted by Prince Charles inside Buckingham Palace, according to Us
. And with her groom in a dapper tux, newlywed Kate Middleton
changed from her lacy wedding dress and veil into another Sarah Burton gown
Birthday Ball: A blogathon for Lucy’s centenary
Posted by vp19 on 2011.04.30 at 00:01
Current mood: content
Given that April hasn’t even ended yet, we’ve been talking a lot about August lately. The other day, we reported (with pleasure) that American TV audiences will see Carole Lombard on Aug. 28 as part of Turner Classic Movies’ 2011 “Summer Under The Stars.” Twenty-two days earlier, Lucille Ball will receive similar honors…on the 100th anniversary of her birth, no less. (Three Augusts ago, TCM did likewise for Fred MacMurray’s centenary.)
Ball is understandably revered as a television icon, arguably that medium’s equivalent of Charlie Chaplin. (Would that make Milton Berle, whose TV fame came a few years before Lucy’s, the Max Linder of television?) But just as Chaplin initially gained renown in the English music hall and on the stage, Ball honed her skills in film — some comedies, some musicals, even a few film noirs such as “The Dark Corner.”
Lucy will not only be honored by TCM on her centenary, but by the blogosphere as well. The site “True Classics: The ABCs of Modern Film” (http://trueclassics.wordpress.com/) has announced a blogathon for that day, called the “Loving Lucy Blogathon,” and I’m delighted to say I’ve volunteered my services:
Ball is a worthy subject for a Lombard-related blog. Lucy got to know Carole in the mid-1930s, and they became good friends, especially after Lombard signed with RKO (the studio Ball and husband Desi Arnaz would eventually acquire for their Desilu production company) in 1939. (Ironically, as is the case with Jean Harlow, I have never come across a photo of Lucy and Carole together.) We’ll discuss the ties between Lombard and Lucy in our entry that day, but you’ll have to wait until Aug. 6 to find out our angle.
For now, a few more photos of the pre-TV Lucille Ball (who, believe it or not, was a few months past her 40th birthday when “I Love Lucy” premiered):
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Two rare Sennett photos, as well as two others
Posted by vp19 on 2011.04.29 at 01:13
Current mood: nostalgic
Carole Lombard’s tenure at Mack Sennett raced by in less than two years, but she learned a lot about comedy during her time there. And while the image above, from “Run, Girl, Run,” one of her best-known Sennett two-reelers, is relatively common, there are some photos from that period you don’t come across very often.
Two of them, both original 8″ x 10″ stills, are being auctioned at eBay — but if you want them, you better hurry, as bidding is slated to end today.
First, Lombard from the 1928 film “The Bicycle Flirt”:
Lombard defines ’28 chic in her cloche hat and trim dress. Two bids have been made on this photo as of this writing, with the high bid at $13.15. Bids close at 4 p.m. (Eastern) today, so if you want to get in on it, don’t dally — ride your figurative bicycle over to http://cgi.ebay.com/ORIGINAL-1928-STUDIO-Movie-Photo-Carole-Lombard-/370504076687?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item5643c38d8f.
“The Bicycle Flirt” is one of the better known Lombard-era Sennetts. The same can’t be said for the 1927 entry, “Gold Digger Of Weepah,” from which this still originates:
Lombard was an uncredited extra on this Billy Bevan vehicle; that’s her standing just below the “fortune teller” sign. Three bids have been made at the time of writing, topping off at $16.49, and bidding ends at 3:32 p.m. (Eastern) today. If you’d like to go prospecting after this picture, visit http://cgi.ebay.com/ORIGINAL-1927-STUDIO-Movie-Photo-Carole-Lombard-/370504068874?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item5643c36f0a.
The seller of both of the above stills has a few more of Lombard available, of which two are of special interest. First, this 7 1/2″ x 9 1/2″ of Carole, from 1931’s “Man Of The World”:
As I write this, one bid, for $9.99, has been made; bids close at 6:23 p.m. (Eastern). To try your luck, go to http://cgi.ebay.com/ORIGINAL-1931-STUDIO-Movie-Photo-Carole-Lombard-/260773273484?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item3cb74c5f8c.
Move ahead a year to 1932’s “No More Orchids,” and this 8″ x 10″ shot of Lombard with Lyle Talbot:
The slight tears may explain why no one has bid on this yet (bids open at $9.99). Bids will conclude at 3:49 p.m. (Eastern). To place a bid or learn more, check out http://cgi.ebay.com/ORIGINAL-1932-STUDIO-Movie-Photo-Carole-Lombard-/370504073796?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item5643c38244.
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A place to catch up on Connie
Posted by vp19 on 2011.04.28 at 01:59
Current mood: curious
Both were sleek blondes with good legs, style icons whose chic fashion sense made a success of virtually anything they wore. Each was a fine actress, adept at witty comedy and talented at drama. One was among the biggest stars of the early 1930s, while the other fully came into her own in the second half of the decade (each was, for a time, the highest-paid actress in the industry). And their careers intersected on several occasions.
Thanks to this site and others, you know a lot about Carole Lombard. Now, there’s a place dedicated to the other star we’re referring to…Constance Bennett.
It’s http://www.constancebennett.byethost14.com, which refers to itself as “the first and only website, dedicated to the lovely Constance Bennett.” It’s admittedly a work in progress, but what it’s accumulated so far is substantial.
For example, did you know that Connie once made a movie with Joan Crawford? Above are Bennett, Crawford and Sally O’Neill in the 1925 silent “Sally, Irene And Mary.” (And no, Sally isn’t “Sally” — that’s Connie. Joan is “Irene” and O’Neill is “Mary.”)
Many of Bennett’s films are profiled with plot descriptions, contemporary reviews, lobby cards, posters and more. Fascinating stuff. (Her radio and television work is also noted, and the site owner also plans to review Connie’s stage work, which she did a lot of during the 1950s. A biography of Bennett is also on the horizon.)
And photos? My count showed 730 pics of Connie — most of which I’d never seen before — from her youth to her final film, “Madame X,” which she completed just before her death at age 60 on July 24, 1965. Bennett underwent a facelift for the film, her first in a dozen years, and more than held her own against star Lana Turner. Here’s Bennett on the set with director David Lowell Rich:
There is also information on books and magazines that feature Constance, including both stories and covers, such as this from Photoplay of March 1931:
Bennett wasn’t always the easiest person to work with — she had more than her share of feuds, and many of the stories about her aren’t all that flattering. But she was certainly among the great beauties of the Golden Age of Hollywood, and several of her films (“What Price Hollywood?”, “Bed Of Roses,” “Topper”) are among the most satisfying of the 1930s. This is a splendid place to learn more about her.
For 24 hours this August, Carole’s star will shine
Posted by vp19 on 2011.04.27 at 06:25
Current mood: happy
What will Aug. 28, 2011 have in common with Aug. 17, 2006? A concentrated mega-dose of Carole Lombard while enjoying summer, that’s what.
Turner Classic Movies’ August U.S. schedule has been released, and for the second time since its “Summer Under The Stars” concept began in 2003, Lombard is being honored with a 24-hour marathon. Moreover, because Aug. 28 is a Sunday, many people can have company with Carole all day long. (It also means we’ll hear about Lombard from both Ben Mankiewicz, in the afternoon, and Robert Osborne, in prime time.)
Here’s the schedule (all times Eastern):
6 a.m. – “Brief Moment” (1933)
7:15 a.m. – “No More Orchids” (1932)
8:30 a.m. – “The Gay Bride” (1934)
10 a.m. – “Fools For Scandal” (1938)
11:30 a.m. – “Lady By Choice” (1934)
1 p.m. – “Virtue” (1932)
2:30 p.m. – “In Name Only” (1939)
4:30 p.m. – “Twentieth Century” (1934)
6:15 p.m. – “To Be Or Not To Be” (1942)
8 p.m. – “My Man Godfrey” (1936)
10 p.m. – “Hands Across The Table” (1935)
11:30 p.m. – “Nothing Sacred” (1937)
1 a.m. – “Mr. & Mrs. Smith” (1941)
3 a.m. – “Vigil In The Night” (1940)
4:45 a.m. – “The Racketeer” (1929)
If there’s a disappointment, it’s a comparatively minor one — that no TCM channel premieres are among its 15-film scheduled fare. It would have been nice to see a few of her more obscure Paramount vehicles, such as “Bolero,” “Rumba” or “No One Man,” in lieu of mediocrities such as “Fools For Scandal” or “The Racketeer” that TCM has shown several times before. Nevertheless, it’s plenty of Lombard, and it’s good to see “Hands Across The Table” (shown in a still above), arguably the best film Carole ever made at Paramount but one that receives comparatively little attention, get a prime-time airing. (One also hopes that TCM will follow what it did during the 2006 SUTS and show the rare European ending to “Vigil In The Night,” in which the characters react to Great Britain going to war with Germany in September 1939.)
As for the rest of the SUTS schedule, here it is, and it features some surprises:
1. Marlon Brando
2. Paulette Goddard
3. Bette Davis
4. Ronald Colman
5. John Garfield
6. Lucille Ball
7. Ralph Bellamy
8. Orson Welles
9. Ann Dvorak
10. Shirley MacLaine
11. Ben Johnson
12. Claudette Colbert
13. James Stewart
14. Charles Laughton
15. Lon Chaney
16. Joanne Woodward
17. Humphrey Bogart
18. Jean Gabin
19. Debbie Reynolds
20. Montgomery Clift
21. Cary Grant
22. Joan Crawford
23. Conrad Veidt
24. Joan Blondell
25. Burt Lancaster
26. Peter Lawford
27. Linda Darnell
28. Carole Lombard
29. Anne Francis
30. Howard Keel
31. Marlene Dietrich
Several of the “usual suspects” for SUTS — Davis, Stewart, Grant, Crawford (“What, no Katharine Hepburn this year?” he said sarcastically) — but many on this year’s roster either have never been SUTS selections or, like Lombard, haven’t received the honor in some time. Pre-Code devotees will be delighted to see days devoted to Dvorak and Blondell, while Gabin and Veidt may well be this year’s equivalent to what Thelma Todd was in 2010…stars unfamiliar to casual fans, but actors who played a key role in cinematic history. (As part of Veidt’s schedule, TCM is showing the classic 1919 German expressionist film “The Cabinet Of Dr. Caligari.”) Fans of silents will thrill to the great Lon Chaney (several Ronald Colman silents will be shown on his day). And it’s wonderful to see Ralph Bellamy get his own day, highlighted not only as the perennially unlucky second lead but for his splendid turn as Franklin D. Roosevelt in “Sunrise At Campobello.” (Dietrich’s day, closing out SUTS, features four of her films with Josef von Sternberg, as well as “Rancho Notorious” and “A Foreign Affair.”) For the month’s schedule, go to http://www.tcm.com/schedule/monthly.html?tz=est&sdate=2011-08-01.
In coming weeks, TCM will unveil its artwork to accompany the 2011 SUTS campaign, and if tradition is indicative, it will be distinctive. (Oh, and if you’re going to the second annual TCM Classic Film Festival in Hollywood, which runs tomorrow through Sunday, make sure to thank channel officials for including Carole on this year’s SUTS roster.)
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A few more from Tally
Posted by vp19 on 2011.04.26 at 00:13
Current mood: enthralled
Carole Lombard is described as “exquisite” in the above photo, which looks to be from 1933 or ’34. And we have several more images of Carole, courtesy of Tally Haugen and the big box of Lombard memorabilia she recently received.
First, “Carole Lombard presents” a pair of creations from Paramount design guru Travis Banton, who made sure Lombard’s loan-out to Universal for 1936’s “Love Before Breakfast” was sufficiently glamorous:
Next, two poses from 1932 and ’33; the one on the left is another Banton work, while the one of the right looks to be an ad for Doraldina cosmetics:
More of the same — Banton and Doraldina — but this time the ad is from ’32 and the Banton gown is from ’33, specifically for Columbia’s “Brief Moment”:
And one more Banton work:
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’39 CMBA blogathon schedule ‘Made’
Posted by vp19 on 2011.04.25 at 08:00
Current mood: pleased
That pic of Carole Lombard, James Stewart and baby — not to mention the subject header — should give you an idea of what I’ll be doing in a few weeks for the Classic Movies Blog Assocation’s latest blogathon, on the films of 1939:
Of course, having to do the entry from a Lombard perspective didn’t provide me with much of a choice, as Carole made but two films in ’39 — this one and “In Name Only.” I promise to come up with some interesting angles for the entry, which is scheduled to run May 16, three weeks from today. In fact, here’s the entire schedule (and the URLs for the member sites handling them), just to give you an idea of what to expect:
Sunday, May 15
It’s A Wonderful World
The Wizard of Oz
Another Thin Man
The Cat and the Canary
Charlie Chan at Treasure Island
Destry Rides Again
Five Came Back
Gone With the Wind
On Your Toes
Monday, May 16
Hunchback of Notre Dame
The Light That Failed
Only Angels Have Wings
Tuesday, May 17
The Lone Wolf Spy Hunt
Ice Follies of 1939
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
Never Say Die
Of Mice and Men
The Old Maid
Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex
The Rules of the Game
The Rains Came
We Are Not Alone
The Whole Family Works
Watching A Year –- All the Films Of 1939
It should be a lot of fun reviewing this year, arguably the apex of classic Hollywood. And more than a few of the films to be profiled go beyond “the usual suspects” from that halcyon year (“The Lone Wolf Spy Hunt”? “We Are Not Alone”? “The Starmaker”?). All in all, this promises to be a slightly different approach to cinema ’39.
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Happy Easter, from all at the farm
Posted by vp19 on 2011.04.24 at 07:19
Current mood: jubilant
Best wishes on this Easter Sunday, with hope you are sharing the joy of the season with friends and family. That photo above, of Carole Lombard in a classy gown, is one of the items recently sent my way from friend Tally Haugen and her new collection of Carole clippings. The next three show Lombard and husband Clark Gable at their 14-acre Encino ranch, or farm, or however you wish to describe it. All come from late 1939 or early 1940, as “Gone With The Wind” was hitting theaters and Lombard’s drama “Vigil In The Night” was nearing release.
Gable is referenced in this 1932 clipping which cites Lombard’s return to Paramount for “No Man Of Her Own” after repeated disputes with the studio. It ends, “Playing his heroine is not exactly a setback to any career and Carol has had some pretty tepid pictures to combat.”
And to accompany the farm motif of this entry, check out this week’s new header, showing Carole (in pajamas) and her horses from 1937.
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Marlene: Isn’t she ironic, doncha think?
Posted by vp19 on 2011.04.23 at 05:43
Current mood: enthralled
Carole Lombard and Marlene Dietrich, shown with Cary Grant and Richard Barthelmess at Carole’s famed party at the Venice pier in June 1935, were studiomates at Paramount for several years. While they were hardly at each other’s throats, the relationship was occasionally rocky.
In the Dietrich biography by her daughter, Maria Riva, she described Lombard as one of Dietrich’s “pet hates.” It apparently stemmed from a time in the early 1930s where Carole — still seeking a distinctive “look” — briefly tried to appear as an Americanized version of Marlene. Compare Dietrich and Lombard in these Paramount portraits from 1931:
One can understand why Marlene was briefly peeved…and we emphasize briefly. Apparently later in the decade, the bisexual Dietrich erroneously believed she could recruit Carole into her army of bed partners (http://carole-and-co.livejournal.com/346936.html). And since Marlene always valued potential conquests for both body and soul, there must have been something about Lombard that she liked.
When Paramount imported Dietrich from Germany in 1930, it aimed to make her its answer to MGM icon Greta Garbo, failing to realize Marlene was an entirely different animal. Whereas Garbo immersed herself in her characters, transmitting her subtle passion to the film audience, Dietrich had a detached air about her; in fact, at the time, some viewed her as a Garbo with humor. (It wouldn’t be until “Ninotchka” in 1939 that “Garbo” and “humor” would be synonymous.)
In his excellent book on pre-Code female roles, “Complicated Women,” Mick LaSalle says this about Marlene: “She doesn’t take herself seriously. She doesn’t take her movies seriously. She is smarter than everyone in her films, and her attitude assumes that the audience is smart enough to be in on the joke — even if there is no joke.”
On the surface, that sounds like Groucho Marx breaking the fourth wall to the audience. But Dietrich’s detachment is altogether different. As LaSalle further writes, “Watching Dietrich today it’s no wonder that she lost most of her audience in the irony-impaired thirties. It’s also no wonder why her contribution came to be sometimes overestimated in the irony-drenched second half of the twentieth century.”
So you could argue Marlene not only paved the way for Madonna (and Lady Gaga, who’s more or less Madonna 2.0), but Alanis Morrisette as well.
Dietrich may be an enigma who zealously guarded her image, but once you get beyond that there’s much to admire about her. She was a talented singer who won wows for her musical performances from the 1950s to the ’70s, stood up to Hitler and Nazism from the start, then performed for and gave comfort to Allied troops during World War II.
I bring this all up because I’ve recently discovered a wonderful site about Dietrich, http://lastgoddess.blogspot.com, with numerous entries on Marlene, her life and times. It’s described this way:
“Almost two decades after her death, Marlene Dietrich survives as an archetypal celebrity in pop culture and academia. Through this blog, my co-bloggers and I report on what we consider the most fascinating online tidbits related to Dietrich. Since news is slow, I’d like to expand postings to include a wider array of topics that are nowadays associated with Dietrich. In that case, some things less will do!” If you’re a Dietrich devotee — and most fans of classic Hollywood fit that description — by all means, go check it out.
We’ll close with another pic from that ’35 party; this one features Lombard and Dietrich with Lili Damita and husband Errol Flynn.
Posted by vp19 on 2011.04.22 at 07:54
Current mood: excited
When Carole Lombard wasn’t busy reading scripts, she probably spent some time reading movie fan magazines. Not that she necessarily trusted everything she read in them (she was too much an industry insider for that), but to get an idea of how the public perceived her and other film personalities.
Magazines were an integral part of the classic Hollywood experience, and they are part of a site dedicated to what it calls “the Golden Age of American Illustration.” It’s http://magazineart.org, which features more than 11,000 covers and ads from all sorts of magazines. The site currently has more than 800 covers from vintage movie (and radio and TV) mags, and as you might guess, Carole is well represented. For example, here’s Lombard pictured by the renowned Zoe Mozert on the cover of the June 1936 Romantic Movie Stories:
Carole and Cary Grant, then in theaters with “In Name Only,” are shown on the October 1939 Movie Story:
Earl Christy renders Lombard in Photoplay’s famous “Blondes Plus Curves Mean War” issue of June 1934:
Another from Photoplay -- the famed artist James Montgomery Flagg draws Carole for the November 1936 cover:
Lombard shows off her shoulders in this sexy pose from the November 1937 Screen Guide:
All in all, a fascinating site, one worth checking out for any fan of vintage publications. It is also seeking notable covers and ads to add to the collection, so contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any to contribute.
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Myrna fans roll a seven
Posted by vp19 on 2011.04.21 at 07:19
Current mood: happy
Carole Lombard’s friend Myrna Loy is the topic of today’s entry, because DVD collectors will have much more of Myrna to watch in upcoming months — seven films, in fact.
Heading the list is a film that’s been largely unseen for nearly 70 years because of rights issues, one of MGM’s all-star extravaganzas:
“Night Flight,” a 1933 film with Loy, Clark Gable, Helen Hayes, Robert Montgomery and both John and Lionel Barrymore. It will be shown in public for the first time since 1942 at the TCM Classic Film Festival later this month, and the DVD will be made public June 7.
“Night Flight,” set in South America and dealing with fliers who transport mail and other items across the continent, is based on a novel by Antoine de Saint-Exupery of “Little Prince” fame. Loy plays the wife of a Brazilian pilot portrayed by William Gargan (who seven years later would gain an Academy Award best supporting actor nomination for the Lombard film “They Knew What They Wanted”). David O. Selznick produced this movie, and the concept of flying vaccine to aid a sick child, seen in his 1939 Lombard drama “Made For Each Other,” gets its first tryout here.
Six other films from Loy are being released through the Warner Archive collection. Two are 1929 Warners talkies, showing Myrna in her “exotic” phase — as a gypsy in “The Squall,” which also features Loretta Young (only 16 at the time) and Zasu Pitts, and as a Mexican temptress in “The Great Divide,” co-starring Dorothy Mackaill and Ian Keith. Three are from MGM: “New Morals For Old” (1932), with Robert Young; “The Prizefighter And The Lady” (1933), with Walter Huston and heavyweight champions Max Baer Sr. and Primo Carnera; and “Third Finger, Left Hand” (1940), co-starring Melvyn Douglas, where Loy portrays a publishing executive (the type of role more closely associated with her Metro “rival” at the time, Rosalind Russell). Finally, Warners gets hold of a 1946 Universal comedy-drama, “So Goes My Love” with Don Ameche.
There’s a LiveJournal site, myrnadaily, whose slogan is “Daily Myrna Loy Goodness.” (Unfortunately, it has been dormant for more than a year.) But thanks to DVD, you can experience plenty of that goodness this spring and into summer.
Looking back: April 1932
Posted by vp19 on 2011.04.20 at 09:16
Current mood: annoyed
It’s time for the latest in our looks back at Carole Lombard in the newspapers, and this entry examines her in print in April 1932.
We’ve shown this photo of Carole Lombard in a swimsuit before, but never knew its colors (although in a hand-painted Australian poster, it was shown as gold and brown). Well, thanks to the St. Petersburg Times of April 10, 1932, we’ve finally learned its actual colors:
“There’s color in women’s sport wear this spring — whether it’s for swimming, lounging on the beach, motoring, traveling or just general wear. Carole Lombard of the films wears a distinctly 1932 bathing suit. It’s one of the popular ribbed models, and the top part is white with the trunks and designs in bright blue.”
Carole looks hale and hearty in that photo and this one, but it wasn’t a particularly healthy month for her, as the San Jose News reported on April 27 with this AP item:
“Seriously ill for the past two weeks as the result of a nervous breakdown, Carole Lombard, screen actress and wife of William Powell, actor, was reported out of danger today. Announcement that she had passed the crisis in her illness was the first word given the public she had been ill.”
Apparently, assignments given by her home studio didn’t enhance her state of being — or so syndicated columnist Mollie Merrick reported in The Day of New London, Conn. on April 16, following a report of a dispute between Paramount and Josef von Sternberg:
“Just to add more trouble to the Paramount situation, it is rumored that Carole Lombard has asserted herself about her next picture, ‘Hot Saturday,’ saying that she doesn’t like it and won’t appear in it.
“Perhaps this story is somewhat exaggerated, as it doesn’t seem a wise thing for one so newly prompted to big parts to say.
“Especially when her studio has done so much toward building up her popularity. Anyway, now that the Dietrich-von Sternberg argument has been brought to a head, we’ll see about Carole Lombard.”
In this case, when Lombard put her lovely foot down, she got what she wanted. When “Hot Saturday” came to theaters, the leads were:
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Items up for bidding (or for sale)
Posted by vp19 on 2011.04.19 at 08:44
Current mood: impressed
It’s been a few days since I visited eBay to check for Carole Lombard-related items (at last check, there were more than 1,600), and here are a few new ones available.
We begin with the photo above, showing Carole sitting on a fence. I’m guessing it to be from around 1937, and may well come from the same session where Lombard, in the same khakis she has on, is shown standing outside a door (the pose used several decades later by the Gap chain to sell khakis). Unfortunately, if there was a p1202 number for this portrait, it’s been cropped out.
This measures 8″ x 10″, and five copies are available at $9.95 each. If interested, go to http://cgi.ebay.com/CAROLE-LOMBARD-8×10-B-W-PHOTO-VERY-SEXY-GLAMOUR-/350456771047?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item5198d9f1e7.
Next up, a fairly rare portrait of Carole with Gary Cooper from 1931’s “I Take This Woman”:
It too measures 8″ x 10″; unlike the other, this is an original, not a reproduction, and is being auctioned. One bid has already been made, for $9.99, and bids will be taken through 9:32 p.m. (Eastern) on Sunday. To learn more, visit http://cgi.ebay.com/Vintage-Photo-Gary-Cooper-Carole-Lombard-1931-AAH658-/350456524197?pt=Art_Photo_Images&hash=item5198d62da5.
Finally, here’s Carole on the cover of a fan magazine — but it’s not a movie mag:
It’s Radio Mirror, from April 1939, and notice how Lombard is described as a “new radio queen,” though her reign didn’t last very long. Evidently, this story was commissioned at the time she began on the NBC series “The Circle”; by the time this hit print, she had left the show, and the series itself didn’t last much longer. Also note how the magazine plays up her ties to Clark Gable, though I’m guessing this issue hit newsstands before the two were wed in late March. There are some other film-related stories here, as subjects included Tyrone Power, Burns and Allen and others.
No bids have yet been made on this item; bidding opens at $12 and will end next Sunday at 12:44 p.m. (Eastern). You can find out more at http://cgi.ebay.com/Radio-Mirror-4-39-Carole-Lombard-cover-/160574897054?pt=Magazines&hash=item2563027b9e
Briefly a Ward of Rocky and Bullwinkle
Posted by vp19 on 2011.04.18 at 09:37
Current mood: curious
Carole Lombard’s Mack Sennett shorts are now in public domain (which makes one wonder why no one has put them together into a DVD package), but one of the previous owners of the Sennett catalog — someone who kept the items in circulation — may surprise you. It was Jay Ward, the eccentric (and beloved) animation pioneer.
While Ward was popularly perceived as the creator of “Crusader Rabbit” and later “Rocky And Bullwinkle,” he actually handled the business aspects; the characters were created by veteran animator Alex Anderson, Ward’s college friend from the University of California. The Ward-Anderson team also worked for Quaker Oats in establishing such characters as Cap’n Crunch.
Ward corraled some of Hollywood’s top talent for his productions; William Conrad narrated the “Rocky” cartoons (at about the same time he was wrapping up his memorable work as Marshal Dillon on the classic “Gunsmoke” radio show), and the likes of Edward Everett Horton and Hans Conried did voice work on the program. Like “The Simpsons” two decades later, clever writing made it a series both adults and children loved. Here’s Jay with the voices of Rocky and Bullwinkle, June Foray (who still works regularly) and Bill Scott:
Ward also loved silent films; some of you may recall his non-animated series “Fractured Flickers,” which used clips of old silents for comedic effect. In the early sixties, Ward and Raymond Rohauer obtained the rights to 150 Laurel and Hardy films, then acquired rights to much of D.W. Griffith’s catalogue. In 1964, they obtained rights to some 200 of Sennett’s movies — which likely included at least some of those featuring Lombard in the late 1920s — for about $100,000. (Sennett, once a millionaire, had died in 1960 with relatively little to his name.)
I’m not sure what Ward did with these properties before his death in 1989. As for Anderson, who sued the Ward estate in 1996 over creation of the characters (it was settled out of court), he died last October at age 90.
This week’s header shows Carole relaxing on a hammock, one apparently created from a carpet.
One woman, two acts, one legend
Posted by vp19 on 2011.04.17 at 06:36
Current mood: pleased
Carole Lombard’s triumphant, yet ultimately ill-fated war bond trip was the subject of a one-woman play, “Lombard,” written by veteran screenwriter/playwright/publicist/Hollywood historian Michael B. Druxman.
“Lombard” — part of a series of one-person plays Druxman has written about Hollywood legends — has been performed a number of times, and has been well received. Now the script has been published in book form, 74 pages.
The play is set as Carole “awaits word in an Indianapolis hotel room to see if she’s been successful in securing plane reservations for a flight back to Los Angeles. She’s anxious to get home, because she suspects that her husband, Clark Gable, is cheating on her.
“Drawing liberally upon her legendary sailor’s vocabulary, Ms. Lombard talks about her tragic affair with singer Russ Columbo, ex-husband William Powell, as well as George Raft, Gary Cooper, Joseph P. Kennedy and, of course, David O. Selznick and her ill-fated attempt to secure the role of Scarlett O’Hara in ‘Gone With The Wind.'”
As the audience knows what fate has planned for her, the subject might seem sad. But “Lombard” is “not a depressing play of approaching doom. It is a warm, funny story of a woman — the highest paid film actress of her day — who was a ‘fighter,’ both in her career and personal life.”
It’s hoped the book’s publication will lead to more productions of the play; at the very least, reading about Carole’s life may inspire other actresses. To purchase “Lombard,” which sells for $7.50, go to https://www.createspace.com/3591316.
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A cottage for lease
Posted by vp19 on 2011.04.16 at 07:55
Current mood: confused
If you were dreaming of living in Carole Lombard’s one-time house on Hollywood Boulevard, prepare to wait at least another two years. The Los Angeles Times reported earlier this month that the fabled residence Carole called home from 1934 to 1936 and the site of several of her most famous parties, has been leased:
“A house in the Sunset Strip area that actress Carole Lombard lived in during the 1930s came on the market in March for sale at $1,595,000 or for lease at $6,500 a month. It already has been leased out for two years.
“The French Regency-style home is set behind gates. It has an art studio, a music-media room, four bedrooms and three bathrooms in nearly 3,000 square feet of living space with original fixtures. A spiral staircase off the master suite leads to a loft. The separate guesthouse includes a kitchenette.
“Lombard, who died in 1942 at 33, was married to leading men William Powell and Clark Gable. She is listed among the American Film Institute’s top screen legends.
“The property last changed hands in 1994 for $420,000, according to public records.”
Look on the bright side: You get two more years to try to win the lottery that will give you sufficient funds to move into the place.
One more thing: “Carole & Co.” now has a new URL, http://carole-and-co.livejournal.com/. It’s a bit easier to remember than the old listing.
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Some odds and ends
Posted by vp19 on 2011.04.15 at 09:51
Current mood: hopeful
Here are a few more selections from what Tally Haugen calls “the box” — the huge collection of Carole Lombard clippings she recently received (with more stuff on the way for us).
First, a pair of portraits — one in character, one that isn’t — from the time of “They Knew What They Wanted” in the fall of 1940:
Next, some items related to the film “Made For Each Other,” with a few Max Factor ads from the mid-1930s mixed in:
Finally, a 1935 ad for Lux soap — must avoid that “Cosmetic Skin,” you know:
No jump into the ‘Fire’
Posted by vp19 on 2011.04.14 at 10:06
Current mood: sympathetic
Carole Lombard was both leggy and alluring playing a showgirl in “Swing High, Swing Low.” And a few years later, she had a chance to show off those glamorous gams again in a similar costume, but turned it down.
We bring it up because that film will be shown at 8 p.m. (Eastern) Saturday as part of Turner Classic Movies’ “Essentials” series. It’s “Ball Of Fire,” from late 1941, and the actress who wound up as showgirl Sugarpuss O’Shea? None other than Barbara Stanwyck, who had some great gams of her own:
Actually, Lombard was not the first choice for the role in this Samuel Goldwyn film, directed by Howard Hawks with a script by Billy Wilder and Charles Brackett and starring Gary Cooper (who was under a personal contract for Goldwyn) as a linguistics professor who meets a slang-knowledgeable showgirl and becomes entangled with mobsters. The lead was initially offered to Ginger Rogers, who had won an best actress Academy Award the year before for “Kitty Foyle.” Rogers apparently believed that this type of role was a step back for her, the ground she had trod as “Anytime Annie” in “42nd Street” back in her Warners days. So she said no.
Why did Lombard decline? Hard to say. Perhaps the story, or character, simply didn’t click with her. Nearing the age of 33 in the summer of 1941, when this script would have come her way, Carole may have felt a bit too old for the part (though she was nearly 15 months younger than Stanwyck). It was also an aggressively urban role, more hard-edged and working-class than anything Lombard had played in some years (and, as it turned out, made to order for the Brooklyn-born Barbara).
But there has also been conjecture that “Ball Of Fire” could have been “Ball Of Fire” — as in Lucille Ball. She was tested for the role (as was Betty Field); some say Lombard suggested her for the part. Whatever, Lucy wasn’t hired, possibly because Goldwyn wanted a female lead of similar starpower to Cooper. (Jean Arthur, who Hawks reportedly didn’t want, was also a supposed candidate, although she wouldn’t appear to have had the requisite overt sex appeal for such a part.) Stanwyck was recommended by Cooper, who had just worked with her in “Meet John Doe,” and she quickly accepted.
Considering its urban milieu and that Hawks is directing it, “Ball Of Fire” moves at a surprisingly languid pace; this is no “Twentieth Century.” Nevertheless, it’s a charmingly funny film, and if you only know Stanwyck from “The Big Valley” onward, you’ll be amazed over how sexy she can be. To borrow a line from the film, “yum-yum.” (You are also ordered to watch “Baby Face,” “Night Nurse” and “Double Indemnity” — the last of which was directed by Wilder — ASAP.) It also capped off a stunning year for Stanwyck, who that year had not only made “Meet John Doe” with Cooper but two fine films with Henry Fonda — the classic “The Lady Eve,” a Preston Sturges creation, and the overlooked “You Belong To Me.”
The supporting cast in “Ball Of Fire” is also wonderful, including Dana Andrews and Dan Duryea as the mobsters, and Oscar Homolka and Richard Haydn among the fellow professors helping Cooper with his dictionary project.
“Ball Of Fire,” the last film Wilder would write before beginning his fabled directing career, was shown for a week in Los Angeles at the tail end of 1941 to qualify for the Academy Awards; Stanwyck was nominated, but lost to Joan Fontaine for “Suspicion.” Its New York premiere came in the same mid-January week of Lombard’s war bond rally and ensuing death in a plane crash.
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A partial lesson in being modern
Posted by vp19 on 2011.04.13 at 09:50
Current mood: hopeful
It may be three-quarters of a century after her heyday, but Carole Lombard’s appeal continues, largely thanks to qualities that transcend her time. Here’s an example, and it comes from the August 1935 issue of Motion Picture, featuring Lombard’s friend (and fellow Oct. 6 birthday girl) Janet Gaynor on the cover:
Inside is a Lombard article by William F. French, “Be Modern Or Be A Wallflower”:
Carole has some intriguing comments, several of which can be adapted into a 2011 mindset. (Human nature doesn’t change very much, after all.) Here’s what it says (up to a point), courtesy of Carla Valderrama’s unfortunately dormant site, CaroleLombard.org:
BE MODERN OR BE A WALLFLOWER
The girl of today, says the ultra-popular Carole, must have a variety of interests and keep up with the times. She must be modern enough to stay ahead of the parade instead of lagging behind — a forgotten wallflower
By WILLIAM F. FRENCH
We WERE talking about what it takes to put a girl up where every girl wants to be, when Carole Lombard — fresh, healthy and confident, after two weeks rest in the mountains — aired her outlook on it all.
“No,” she replied, “I don’t think luck has much to do with a girl amounting to anything worth while. I think it’s more a matter of alertness, of being wide-awake and alive. These days a girl has to be modern or else be a wallflower. The year 1935 hasn’t time to stop and pay its respects to the old-fashioned girl who is sitting quietly in the corner. Instead of waiting to be asked, a girl has to get out in front of the parade, where she’ll be seen. The time is past when a girl can attract attention being a passive verb, so to speak. She must be active, and in time with the times. She must be modern.”
“Modern girls don’t have to get noisy and boisterous and cheap to get into things. They don’t have to be fast to live fast. A hundred sensible, constructive, progressive interests are open to them. They no longer have to clamp the lid on their energy until it explodes into unhealthy channels. The up-to-date girl has a variety of interests. She rides, she drives, she plays bridge, she reads, she follows the latest plays, she studies, she goes in for sports with a zest. She doesn’t putter. She doesn’t do things half-way. She does things with a will, never half-heartedly. Norma Shearer is an excellent example of being modern. There is nothing half-hearted about her, with her determination to progress and her score of interests. Joan Crawford is modern, knowing what she wants and going after it. Katherine Hepburn, with her independence of spirit, is ultra-modern.”
“Determination, independence, health, intelligence, zest, alertness and a variety of interests. Mix well and season with a happy sense of humor, and you have what it takes to be modern. But don’t forget that seasoning. It is the thing that makes all the others possible. And you must learn to stick with a thing until you whip it. These days a girl simply must go in for sports, both for health and for popularity. Men expect girls to swim with them, ride with them, play tennis with them and even, perhaps, go fishing or hunting with them.”
“I GO IN for athletics and sports as intensively as I do for work. When I took up tennis I had an instructor and, even now, though I’m rather good at it, I still coach. I’m taking up flying because I think it’s part of a present-day education, and because I think we will all be flying before long.”
“I can’t afford not to keep up with new things. And neither can any other girl, whether she is in society or in a bargain basement. She can find time and means to keep in step with the times. She simply must learn to dance well, to swim, to play golf and bridge. There are ways to accomplish this if she has the will. And if she hasn’t the will, and isn’t willing to pay the price and effort, she will never get the things her heart just aches for and longs for.”
“Don’t believe, girls, that you don’t have to do the things the movie stars do in order to get what you want. You do have to. Because life demands the same of you as it does of them. When you hear what a casting office asks of a girl, don’t marvel. That office asks: ‘Can you swim, can you dance, can you drive, can you play tennis, can you wear a gown attractively, do you know how to walk, can you make yourself interesting?’ Your employer and your friends may not be asking you those questions quite so bluntly. But they are finding the answers to them in their own way. And if you fall short you’ll get as little as little notice from them as the unprepared movie applicant gets at the casting office.”
“In the past fifteen years, women have gone a long way, and have claimed a lot of privileges, for which all women must pay. The progressive ones have crowded so far ahead that the ones who lag at all, are left behind and forgotten. We, as women, asked to be included in men’s sports, interests, activities and even in their political problems. We got our wish. And to live up to it, we must be modern. Perhaps it is unfortunate that all girls must keep up with the pace set by the most successful ones. But I, personally, don’t think so. Instead, I think it is forcing them all into broader, happier, more useful lives.”
“TODAY, the girl in the Iowa village, or the Pennsylvania hamlet, must keep up-to-date on styles and on manners, because the movies are constantly showing her friends how she ought to act, how she ought to look and what she ought to be able to do. She can’t hide from progress, no matter where she goes. The small city judges the girls on its local beach by the same standards as the world judges the stars at Malibu. And it has a right to do so. Don’t say that you haven’t a chance. Two out of every three stars in Hollywood didn’t have a chance either — once. They worked in department stores, restaurants, and even factories. They were home girls, chorus girls and starving extra girls. But they were modern, and made their ‘break’.”
“Being modern doesn’t mean going in for fads, wearing ultra-modern or spectacular clothes, or doing strange things. The girl of today has too many interests, too much to do, to waste her time that way. She centers on efficiency. She must! But she keeps up with the latest in everything. She reads the newest and best books even if she doesn’t like…”
Doesn’t like what? And what else does Lombard have to say? Inquiring minds want to know. And the good news is, you can complete this fan magazine cliffhanger.
This issue is being sold at eBay for $19.99. It’s complete, although the seller calls its condition “Acceptable: A book with obvious wear. May have some damage to the cover but integrity still intact. … Possible writing in margins, possible underlining and highlighting of text, but no missing pages or anything that would compromise the legibility or understanding of the text.”
What else is in the issue? Articles about Carole’s Paramount stablemate Sylvia Sidney…
…and old Cocoanut Grove dance rival Joan Crawford…
…as well as Fred Astaire, Gary Cooper, Ann Dvorak, Basil Rathbone, Ginger Rogers and more.
To buy it, go to http://cgi.ebay.com/MOTION-PICTURE-JANET-GAYNOR-CAROLE-LOMBARD-SYLVI-SIDNEY-/400209093457?pt=Magazines&hash=item5d2e522351. And if you do, please forward the rest of the Lombard article to us. There are a lot of ladies out here who don’t want to be wallflowers.
Accentuating what you’ve got
Posted by vp19 on 2011.04.12 at 08:52
Current mood: contemplative
There was a time in the late 1920s when Carole Lombard, working in Mack Sennett’s bathing-beauty comedies, had gained a few extra pounds at his behest (thanks to bananas) and was thus known as “Carole of the curves.” Not that she was exceptionally voluptuous by any means, but she was somewhat shapelier (the better to fill out a swimsuit) than the more recognizable Lombard from the mid- and late 1930s.
By the start of the 1930s, the curvy Carole had shed those extra pounds at Pathe’s behest and her body had become sleek and lithe. But by learning the photographic tricks of the trade — and working with some of the most talented portrait takers in the business — she had gained the ability to make herself seem buxom, even if she was actually no bigger than a “B” cup.
A case in point, pardon the pun:
That’s Paramount p1202-396, from late 1932 or sometime in ’33. Not sure who the photographer is (I’m guessing Otto Dyar), but the expert lighting, not to mention her stance, plays up her bosom — and while it may not transform Lombard into an early version of Marie Wilson, it does make her look more curvaceous than usual.
This is the type of photo that one eBay seller would typically characterize as “busty”…and while this item is available at eBay, it’s not from that seller. It’s 8″ x 10″, and is described this way: “The photo is in good condition with minor edge, corner and surface wear. There is also pinholes in the corners and along the side borders with 2 pinholes in the image that do not penetrate through the photo. The photo overall shows very well and these issues do not detract from this gorgeous and rare image.”
It’s being sold for $95. If interested, go to http://cgi.ebay.com/RARE-Orig-30s-CAROLE-LOMBARD-Art-Deco-BEAUTY-Portrait-/260765700010?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_2&hash=item3cb6d8cfaa.
Welcome to the working week
Posted by vp19 on 2011.04.11 at 08:36
Current mood: working
For many of you, Monday means the start of another work week. (My schedule is a bit different, as I have Sundays and Mondays off; my “Monday” is your “Tuesday.”) To provide some inspiration while you toil in the office, some photos (and relatively rare ones) from Carole Lombard’s week-long sojourn in July 1938 handling publicity at Selznick International Pictures, more or less giving a break to its usual PR maven, the talented Russell Birdwell (shown above). It was good publicity for her, too.
Here’s Lombard doing all sorts of odds and ends. A lot different from acting, isn’t it, Carole?
Two more photos, including one showing Lombard with noted writer Gene Fowler, a close friend of one-time Carole co-star John Barrymore:
Both pages look to be from the same publication (probably from the fall of ’38), but I don’t know what magazine it is.
However, it should be noted in fairness that Carole worked both sides of the publicity game. In early 1936, she served as guest editor for Screen Book magazine, following in the footsteps of Ginger Rogers:
All these are from Tally Haugen’s newly-acquired collection of Lombard memorabilia, and I again give thanks to her for letting me share these with you.
This week’s header shows Carole looking over her shoulder from about 1933 or ’34.
Down on the farm
Posted by vp19 on 2011.04.10 at 08:35
Current mood: productive
That picture of Carole Lombard with her beloved Palomino pony, Pico (Paramount p1202-1553) puts me in the mood for a few more photos of Lombard living the farmer’s life. Or should that be farmer’s wife, since these pics are from the Encino ranch she shared with husband Clark Gable.
This one is from the November 1939 issue of Motion Picture:
Next, a few assorted photos of Clark, Carole and livestock. Not sure what magazine this is from, but the reference to Lombard’s appendectomy leads one to believe that this was from the fall of 1939. And “Not Too Narrow, Not Too Deep”? That was the initial title of the Gable film later known as “Boom Town.” (Also love that line, “Like all wives, Carole knows how to get her hubby’s goat.”)
Both of this clippings are from Tally Haugen’s recently inherited collection of Lombard memorabilia.
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He learned what Breen wanted
Posted by vp19 on 2011.04.09 at 08:56
Current mood: mellow
Carole Lombard may have looked nervous while viewing the dailies for “They Knew What They Wanted” with director Garson Kanin and co-star Charles Laughton, but she wasn’t the only one who was tied up in knots over the film. Just getting it to that point was a challenge, as the producer vouched in print.
Erich Pommer was one of the most respected people in international film, producing some of the best German movies of the Weimar era — “The Cabinet Of Dr. Caligari,” “The Last Laugh,” “Metropolis” and “The Blue Angel,” among others. After the Nazis came to power, he left Germany, working for Fox, Alexander Korda and others (including two films with Laughton). In 1939, he signed a deal to produce films for RKO and decided to adapt Sidney Howard’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play, “They Knew What They Wanted.” What happened next was the subject of a story in a New York newspaper:
(This is from Tally Haugen’s recently-acquired treasure trove of Lombard memorabilia. Unfortunately, the item is incomplete, and I’m not sure what newspaper it’s from.)
“For the finished script came back from the Hays office with a sad letter and eight pages of objections.” Pommer knew he would have a difficult time with Joseph Breen, and was aware the play had been on the banned list. So Pommer decided to make an adversary his ally.
“First (Breen told) me his objections. Then he’d suggest a way to get around them. And it was he who suggested an ending. We hadn’t been able to find an ending. Joe Breen found one for us.”
For all the inveighing we’ve made against Breen at “Carole & Co.”, it must be said the guy liked movies. In fact, for a time in the 1940s, he left his position as industry censor and became an executive at RKO.
How did Carole get involved in the project?
“They wanted Carole Lombard for the waitress part, but they were sure she would never accept. A little scared they sent her the completed script. Next day arrived a hundred-word telegram thanking them for the chance to play the finest role she had ever had. Miss Lombard, it seems, is eager to prove she is not just a glamor girl nor yet just a comedienne. Her part does not compare in size to Laughton’s but the star accepted it and played it just as it was written and directed without one plea for more lines or closeups. Again Erich Pommer is grateful. It is, he says, a beautiful performance, and one with almost no comedy.”
Interesting that Lombard still had the “comedienne” tag after having appeared in the drama-tinged “Made For Each Other,” the romantic drama “In Name Only,” and the nearly somber “Vigil In The Night.”
“They Knew What They Wanted” received approving reviews for the most part, but if Pommer and RKO expected blockbuster business, they were disappointed. And if Lombard signed onto the film hoping it might be Academy Award material, she was disappointed, too; the only Oscar nomination it received went to William Gargan for best supporting actor.
As for Pommer, he suffered a heart attack in 1941, recovered, and returned to Germany in 1946. There, he helped rebuild the German film industry, but he never regained his earlier glory. Pommer, who had gained American citizenship in 1944, returned to California and died in 1966.
Does Debbie have Carole? The answer is yes
Posted by vp19 on 2011.04.08 at 08:43
Current mood: pleased
We recently wondered whether Carole Lombard had any items included in the forthcoming part 1 of the auction of memorabilia from the collection of Debbie Reynolds.
The answer came last evening: “We do indeed.”
It’s a “Beige floor length gown with ornately pleated back panel and belt scarf, accented with embroidery wire, sequins, jet beads and seed pearls at neckline, on sleeves and tips of scarf and train. Sleeves on gown have been altered. Designed by Travis Banton.”
Okay, so what film was it used in?
“No Man Of Her Own,” Lombard’s lone film with Clark Gable, for Paramount in late 1932. Certainly something any fan of Carole’s can savor — and probably something that will go for a few thousand dollars (at least).
For more on the auction, go to http://profilesinhistory.com/debbie-reynolds-auction/event-and-catalog-information. And if this gown is a bit beyond your reach, don’t fret; there will likely be Lombard-related items among the 20,000 still photographs and several thousand movie posters scheduled to be in part 2 of the auction this December.
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Loves to ‘Rumba,’ needs work
Posted by vp19 on 2011.04.07 at 07:59
Current mood: optimistic
Almost sounds like a classified ad from a professional dancer circa 1935, doesn’t it? Actually, it applies to the item above, a rare window card from Carole Lombard’s Paramount film “Rumba” with George Raft, released in ’35. This is a design I’ve never seen before, and the seller admits it’s not in the best of shape…but adds that it can be restored:
“This ORIGINAL WINDOW CARD POSTER has a great need to be restored to its original grandness….but it is presentable in its current state. This ORIGINAL WINDOW CARD POSTER has been trimmed at the top blank theater talker space area down to the image line and now measures a full 13 1/2 x 17 inches and is in fair to good condition. The back of the card has been dot glued to a backing board and can easily be removed when restored. The colors are faded but are still recognizable. The top half of the card is red and the bottom half is yellow with the title ‘Rumba’ being red and black outlined. Lombard’s gown is a silver number with the inset head shots against a blue background…Lombard’s gown is green. There are some stains and a bit of surface paperloss to the white border areas. With all this going on I can tell you there are a number of lobby cards out there and there will be a JUMBO WINDOW CARD up for auction in a few months…..which has none of the wonderful graphics this piece has….but there are no accounts of this poster coming to market. This is a BEAUTIFUL WINDOW CARD!….don’t miss your chance to have a really outstanding piece of motion picture history. With a little TLC this poster will be a looker! I will list this piece just once more….then it’s off to either the restorer or the auction house.”
If you have sufficient TLC, and the talent to match (or the knowhow to find a capable restorer), this might be worth picking up. Of course, you’ll also need sufficient money to buy it — bidding starts at $359.99 (it just came on the market), and bids close at 7:47 p.m. (Eastern) next Wednesday. If you’re a serious memorabilia collector or a restorer, or simply want to learn more, visit http://cgi.ebay.com/Rumba-1935-Carole-Lombard-George-Raft-DANCE-/330550981835?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item4cf65fb4cb.
From Debbie, to auction
Posted by vp19 on 2011.04.06 at 11:24
Current mood: excited
Carole Lombard and other Hollywood stars are the subject of a huge array of memorabilia. And some of the most sought-after of such items are to be auctioned in June, from the collection of one of filmdom’s most beloved stars:
It’s Debbie Reynolds (who turned 79 last Friday — a belated happy birthday!), shown in her 1950s days of MGM stardom. For many years, Debbie has collected memorabilia, including many costumes, with hopes of establishing a museum dedicated to classic Hollywood. Her dream never quite caught on, so Reynolds has decided to auction her collection through the Profiles in History firm. Perhaps you saw her publicize it in February on the Oprah Winfrey Show.
Well, the specifics have just been announced, and it’s big. The collection has more than 20,000 original photographs, several thousand original posters and more than 3,500 costumes. About 700 of those costumes will be auctioned in part one of the sale, on June 18; the rest of the collection will be auctioned in December.
What sort of items are available? Well, here’s a taste, direct from the site:
There’s even Elizabeth Taylor’s jockey costume from “National Velvet,” long before she became Debbie’s romantic rival (and eventual friend).
A 1925 painting from the Marion Davies estate and some other non-costume items will also be auctioned in June. No word on whether the Reynolds collection includes any Lombard costumes, but I’m certain Carole’s represented among the photographs, and possibly the posters as well.
To learn more about the collection, and to pre-order a catalog, go to http://profilesinhistory.com/debbie-reynolds-auction/event-and-catalog-information.
A Pathe star, on fox
Posted by vp19 on 2011.04.05 at 08:34
Current mood: relieved
Didn’t know that Carole Lombard appeared in a fur advertisement, did you? (And as was the case with smoking, sensibilities in those days weren’t similar to what they are now; had Lombard grown up a generation or two later, given her fondness for animals, she might have had a substantially different view of wearing fur.)
It’s a highlight of a recent batch of items Tally Haugen e-mailed me from a treasure trove of Lombard clippings and such. It’s from Feb. 24, 1929 and presumably ran in a Los Angeles newspaper:
“Colburn’s Exclusive Fur Shop on South Flower Street, realize the necessity of light furs even in the summer-time for Southern California. Fox skins in all the new flattering shades will be worn for sports and afternoon costumes, and a long white fox scarf or two skins will take the place of summer wraps in many instances for evening. Carol Lombard, Pathe featured player, poses here in a coat created by Colburn, of grey Russian caracul bordered with platinum fox skin.”
Whether this photo was taken expressly for the ad or derived from a Pathe publicity photo, I do not know; in my far from complete listing of Pathe portraits, I didn’t see it. As for summertime furs, perhaps Los Angeles had cooler summers in the days before smog and widespread urban build-up.
I initially couldn’t see the entire ad copy because it’s covered by one of three photos in the next grouping:
At the top is Carole with Charles Laughton, in a promotional photo for “White Woman” in late 1933. Below are two photos from 1940 briefs, one to promote “They Knew What They Wanted” and the other from year’s end, when Lombard and husband Clark Gable were at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore.
Speaking of Carole and Clark, earlier in 1940 they were missing in Mexico, and it was big news:
Note that one of those in the MGM searching party was Otto Winkler, whose fate would be tied to Lombard’s less than two years later.
The other item shows Carole with her first husband, William Powell, in a publicity photo from 1936 for “My Man Godfrey.”
A pair of pics you’ve likely never seen
Posted by vp19 on 2011.04.04 at 02:14
Current mood: cheerful
Ah, Carole Lombard being charmingly chic as only she can, even if it’s in the midst of sand dumped onto the portrait studio floor to create an ersatz beach. For the record, it’s Paramount p1202-282, but what’s it about? Fortunately, we have a snipe on the back, which not only informs us what film this is promoting (guess!) and why she’s wearing what she’s wearing:
It’s a vintage Lombard photo that has recently been put up for auction. And here’s another one that will probably be new to you:
It’s Carole with William Powell, taken on Powell’s Warners turf, and while I’m guessing from the January 1934 date on the back that it was taken following their divorce the previous August, it can’t be completely confirmed. We do know that Powell wasn’t long for Warners, jumping to MGM in early 1934, where he would meet Myrna Loy, and two years later have arguably the best calendar year for any actor during the classic era.
The “Sinners In The Sun” photo is the more valuable of the two, with the minimum bid going for $99.99 (no bids have been placed as of this writing); bids close at 9:05 p.m. (Eastern) next Sunday. The photo measures 7.5″ x 9.5″, and to bid or get more info, visit http://cgi.ebay.com/CAROLE-LOMBARD-SINNERS-SUN-VINTAGE-PHOTO-H902-/380329731720?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item588d6b2688.
Bids on the Powell pic, which is also 7.5″ x 9.5″, begin at $24.99 (no bids as of yet) and will be taken through 9:08 p.m. (Eastern) next Sunday. Go to http://cgi.ebay.com/WILLIAM-POWELL-CAROLE-LOMBARD-CANDID-w-CREDIT-LIPPMAN-/380329732601?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item588d6b29f9 for more information.
And this week’s header is from Lombard’s first Paramount film, “Safety In Numbers,” where she apparently hoped a pair of shiny silk stockings would help her get a leg up at the studio…and they evidently did.
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All sorts of happy stuff
Posted by vp19 on 2011.04.03 at 12:34
Current mood: happy
To borrow a line from the Harold Arlen song, forget your troubles and just get happy. If you’re in the Northern Hemisphere, spring is here; if you’re in North America, baseball season has begun; and if you’re a Carole Lombard fan, I have some more long-lost treasures, courtesy of Tally Haugen and her new batch of Lombard goodies. Seeing these made me happy, and they should have a similar effect on you.
In fact, we’ll kick things off with an item entitled “Found — A Happy Star”:
About the only things that could make me happier about this article would be finding it in its entirety, and discovering when and where it was published (I’m guessing it to be from 1932 or ’33). A Google search under “found a happy star” yielded no success (though I did get the locations of several “Happy Star” Chinese restaurants!), and looking under the name of the “as told to” writer, Dorothy Wooldridge, proved similarly unfruitful — but I did come up with this photo of her:
It’s from 1926, on the set of Warners’ “Across The Pacific,” and the “native” girl alongside Wooldridge is none other than a young (and fabulous-looking) Myrna Loy.
Here’s another “happy” story; in fact, it concerns “Two Happy People,” namely Lombard and Clark Gable. Its author is James Street, who may well be the James H. Street whose story “Letter To The Editor” was the genesis for Lombard’s hit “Nothing Sacred,” and it’s from Movie And Radio Guide of May 11, 1940:
Is the title, “Two Happy People,” a take-off on the name of a current hit of the time, “Two Sleepy People”? An intriguing piece, and alas, another incomplete one.
We’ll stay with Clark and Carole, and in fact get a pictorial of life on the ranch in “At Home With The Gables.” Ida Zeitlin wrote this for Picture Play in August 1940, and again, it’s incomplete:
We’ll close by wishing a happy 89th birthday to a legend of both music and movies, the great Doris Day. Here’s my favorite record of hers, a 1947 version of the old ballad “Pretty Baby.” This is the only sample of the song on YouTube, taken from a 78 rpm recording (it can be found on many of Day’s CD greatest hits compilations, in far better sound quality). Love the arrangement by George Siravo, and Doris sings this beautifully and sensually — as close to a sexy lullaby as you’re going to get.
Here comes the bride…to be
Posted by vp19 on 2011.04.02 at 01:24
Current mood: jubilant
Earlier this week, we noted the anniversary of Carole Lombard’s marriage to Clark Gable. This entry’s topic concerns Carole’s first marriage, to another Hollywood legend…William Powell.
While Lombard and Powell had been a social pair for several months, by June 1931 talk that their teaming could take the ultimate step soared to new heights. And that month, the couple decided to do just that — only to find the press had caught wind of their plans.
Acme Newspictures commemorated it with this photo:
Was Carole allowing the papers to see the gown she’d wed William in? Uh, not quite. Here’s the bad of the photo, followed by a closeup of the snipe, shown in greyscale for clarity:
“Miss Lombard, who is seen above in an appropriate costume…” (Also love the reference to Powell as “the suave racketeer of the talkies.”) And isn’t it interesting that Lombard listed her “real” name as “Carole Jane Peters”? The “Carole” was played up for recognition, while the “Alice” in her birth name was shunted down the rabbit hole. (At least she listed her genuine age, not shaving off a year as was often done.)
Okay, so when was the shot of this “costume” taken? Well, since there’s no p1202 number or other Paramount identification, it looks to be from a bit earlier — Pathe, perhaps, since it issued several photos of Lombard in bridal wear. But in my search of Lombard Pathe pics or those from its top photographer, William E. Thomas, I find nothing comparable.
It’s an attractive, demure portrait, nonetheless. And it’s being auctioned at eBay.
The photo measures 6″ x 8″, is considered in good condition, and bids begin at $49.99 (no bids have been made as of this writing). Bidding closes at 8:17 p.m. (Eastern) next Friday. If you wish to place a bid, or just want to learn more about the photo, visit http://cgi.ebay.com/1931-Candid-Carole-Lombard-VINTAGE-PHOTO-w-Credit-949S-/380329211073?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item588d6334c1.
Oh, and on June 26, 1931, four days after this was issued, Carole and Bill tied the knot, then celebrated with Lombard’s brothers, Frederick and Stuart Peters:
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No April fool: Only ‘Fragments’ are left
Posted by vp19 on 2011.04.01 at 01:14
Current mood: frustrated
Carole Lombard’s screen debut in 1921’s “A Perfect Crime,” when she was still Jane Alice Peters and all of 12 years old, has long been lost to history. Sadly, most movies from that era have shared a similar fate; according to film historian and Turner Classic Movies host Robert Osborne, up to four-fifths of films issued before 1930 have either disappeared or are damaged beyond repair.
Sunday at 8 p.m. (Eastern), TCM in the U.S. will present a tantalizing glimpse at what’s disappeared in a two-hour special called “Fragments.” It contains clips of films that only survive piecemeal, taunting reminders of what we’ve lost. The special is produced by Flicker Alley, and features material from the Academy Film Archive, the UCLA Film & Television Archive and the Library of Congress Packard Campus for Audio Visual Conservation. (It’s similar to a presentation that was given at last year’s TCM Classic Film Festival.)
What makes “Fragments” all the more frustrating is that among the celluloid victims on display here are several of the most notable names of pre-1930 cinema, including director John Ford and actors such as Emil Jannings, Douglas Fairbanks Sr., Lon Chaney Sr., Theda Bara…and Clara Bow.
For much of the late 1920s, Bow was the biggest female star in Hollywood, a meal ticket for Paramount — and yet, several of her hits are either lost or survive in bits and pieces. Among the latter is “Red Hair,” and Sunday you’ll see the only known color footage of Clara, in two-strip Technicolor. Bow’s biggest contemporary “flapper” rival, Colleen Moore at First National, suffered similarly; in fact, when she died in 1988, she had outlived the last known copy of her breakthrough hit, “Flaming Youth.” Both were victims of an industry philosophy that viewed its work as generally ephemeral, with little or no emphasis placed on preserving product.
Even an Academy Award wasn’t enough to preserve a film; “Fragments” contains the only remaining footage of Jannings’ Oscar-winning performance in “The Way Of All Flesh.” (Jannings also won for “The Last Command,” which survives intact.)
Bara’s legendary 1917 portrayal of Cleopatra, long before Claudette Colbert or Elizabeth Taylor tried their hand at playing the legendary Egyptian queen, survives in a mere few seconds of film, and you’ll see it Sunday.
But fragmentary film isn’t solely a silent concern. Quite a few early talkies, including several embryonic musicals, survive only in segments, including the 1929 “Gold Diggers Of Broadway,” entirely shot in early Technicolor but now diminished to a few fragments:
Diana Serra Cary, best known as “Baby Peggy” and one of the few surviving performers from silent times, will be interviewed to complement a fragment from her 1923 film “Darling Of New York.”
The good news is that every now and then, films previously deemed completely or partially lost are found in places from New Zealand to Russia. So there’s always hope. In the meantime, the battle remains to preserve the film we already have before it falls victim to the ravages of age and time. (Among the films that have been restored at UCLA are “Nothing Sacred” and several of Lombard’s comedy vehicles for Mack Sennett.)
At 10 p.m., TCM’s historical evening continues with “Unseen Cinema: Early American Avant Garde Film 1894-1941,” featuring 16 experimental works by early filmmakers. It includes a 1941 production of “Peer Gynt,” featuring a 17-year-old from suburban Chicago named Charlton Heston; or how about future famed character actor Edward Everett Horton in the 1925 “Beggar On Horseback”? There are also pioneer dance and ballet segments dating back to the 1890s.
Posted by vp19 on 2011.03.31 at 00:38
Current mood: curious
Carole Lombard memorabilia comes in all kinds of sizes — some large enough to hang on your wall, others small enough to be stashed in a tiny drawer. Examples of each are in today’s entry.
We’ll begin with the large-scale Lombard, and while the following is by no means the biggest movie poster we’ve ever seen of her, it’s nonetheless striking…especially since you’ve probably never seen it unless you’re an Australian of age 90 or thereabouts. The Aussies* call this type of poster a “daybill,” and it measures 15″ x 40″ (which includes a few blank inches at the top, not seen here, that exhibitors could use to list the theater’s name and the dates it would be shown):
Isn’t that a knockout — but then again, most images of Carole in a swimsuit qualify for that description.
* Apologies to any Australians who may have been offended by the term “Aussies”; I’ve heard some bristle at that term, just as virtually every San Franciscan detests the contraction “Frisco.” No slight was intended to our friends Down Under.
That swimsuit was also seen in this Paramount portrait:
The daybill may be of Australian origin, but it’s found its way to the Northern Hemisphere, specifically Huntington, N.Y. It’s professionally linen-backed and listed in fine condition. You can purchase it outright for $1,250 or make an offer; the sale/auction runs through 4:21 p.m. (Eastern) April 28. If this piques your interest, go to http://cgi.ebay.com/SINNERS-SUN-CAROLE-LOMBARD-1932-DAYBILL-LB-/150584311613?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item230f863f3d.
From 15″ x 40″, let’s downsize to 1″ x 1 3/4″ (actual size — blown up below), and while Lombard’s image isn’t here, her signature is:
It’s a stamp from 1940 (check), Carole’s signature is in her customary green ink (check), but is it the real deal? For analysis, let’s go to autograph expert Carole Sampeck of The Lombard Archive:
“It’s absolutely a good signature. I also took a look at this seller’s other items and closed auctions — I haven’t found a ringer in the bunch. Generally if you stay with UACC Dealers (particularly Registered Dealers, such as I was), you are afforded a large measure of protection.”
But a stamp? Why would Carole sign a stamp?
“As to the Whys and Wherefores of signing a stamp — who knows? I’ve seen stranger things, including an Orson Welles-autographed tongue depressor stick.
It may well be, but no one is biting, possibly because many collectors find it hard to believe Carole Lombard would sign a postage stamp. Bidding begins at $49.95 — and as of this writing, no one has placed a bid. And time is ticking; the deadline is 9:54 p.m. (Eastern) Sunday. To learn more, visit http://cgi.ebay.com/CAROLE-LOMBARD-d-1942-TO-NOT-BE-VIRTUE-/350451651666?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item51988bd452.
Posted by vp19 on 2011.03.31 at 10:06
Current mood: hopeful
Okay, so the studio’s name was actually pronounced “path-AY,” sort of defeating the pun, but no matter. Officially, it’s CL-197, a gorgeous photo of the young Lombard from 1929, when she was just 20, a recent Mack Sennett alumna still finding her way as a talkie starlet. (The seller lists it as being from “1929-30,” but I’m pretty certain that by the end of 1929, Lombard was no longer a Pathe employee, and the photo series of her is known to extend to at least CL-225.)
The photographer isn’t listed, but I’m guessing it’s William E. Thomas, head of Pathe’s photo department, who took more than his share of portraits of Lombard during her brief stay at the studio. His best-known shots of her are rather racy, but this proves he could also be sublime.
This 8″ x 10″ photo, said to be in excellent shape, can be yours — but it won’t come cheap. Bidding begins at $294.95, and closes at 11:15 p.m. (Eastern) next Wednesday. To learn more, go to http://cgi.ebay.com/VINTAGE-Carole-Lombard-29-30-GORGEOUS-Portrait-/400204535821?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item5d2e0c980d.
Just something to excite you as we count the hours (about three) to the start of baseball season.
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Posted by vp19 on 2011.03.30 at 02:11
Current mood: energetic
It’s the morning of March 29, 1939, and Carole Lombard and Clark Gable are leaving Los Angeles, heading to a wedding rendezvous in Kingman, Ariz. While Clark drives, Carole, in the front passenger seat, pulls out that morning’s copy of the Los Angeles Examiner and begins reading.
Clark: So what does Louella say today?
Carole: Hold your horses, Pa — you know there’s a lot of other things going on in the world right now. The talks between Poland and Germany over Danzig, for instance. But I’ll get to it. (A minute or two passes by, and Lombard finally turns to the entertainment section.)
Clark: You don’t think she knows?
Carole: (Laughs) About us? No, mum’s the word — haven’t told a soul outside family. And looking at Louella here, it’s apparent she doesn’t know, either. Neither did Hedda in the Times I saw before I left.
Clark: Good. What does she say?
Carole: You’re not in it, but I am. It concerns that British nursing property RKO has for me down the road, “Vigil In The Night.”
Clark: A.J. Cronin?
Carole: Yep, the “Citadel” guy. You know, they’ve been looking for an actress to play my younger sister. At first, RKO was talking about Ginger Rogers co-starring with me.
Clark: Might’ve been interesting.
Carole: (Chuckles) As Jean Harlow, rest her soul, used to say to you, snap out of it, Fred. It’s a supporting role, and Ginger’s grown out of that now.
Clark: True, but I’m concentrating on my driving; fortunately, the sun isn’t in my eyes anymore. Anyway, who are they talking about now in the part?
Carole: Wendy Hiller, you know, the actress who played Eliza in “Pygmalion” opposite your Ashley, Leslie Howard, and got the Oscar nomination. RKO just gave her a screen test in England.
Clark: And you didn’t know about it?
Carole: Right now, when it comes to non-wedding stuff, I’ve been concentrating on “In Name Only.” It’ll be fun finally co-starring with Cary.
Clark: Leslie’s told me a lot of good things about “Pygmalion,” which I really should see one of these days. You’re more the Shaw expert than I am. You choosing him for that list of 10 men outside of Hollywood in Look last year…
Carole: Hey, Shaw visited San Simeon a few years back, and Marion Davies loved him. And any friend of Marion’s a friend of mine.
Clark: So, what else does Louella say about this?
Carole: I quote: “Let’s have brunette Wendy Hiller with the blonde Carole if RKO can get her,” end of quote.
Clark: That and five cents…
The couple continues driving eastward.
That information actually did run in Louella Parsons’ column that morning. I don’t have the Examiner on hand, but here’s how it appeared in the Minneapolis Tribune:
Hiller, born in August 1912, decided to remain in England instead of heading to Hollywood, and stayed there throughout the war. Primarily a stage actress who did occasional films, she also appeared in the movie adaptation of Shaw’s “Major Barbara” and in later UK classics such as “I Know Where I’m Going.” She was later named a Dame for her stage, screen and television achievements and died in 2003.
And, as we all know, the role of the younger sister went to someone born Dawn Evelyeen Paris in 1918, who gained some renown as a child actress named Dawn O’Day, then changed it to Anne Shirley — the name of the role she played in the film “Anne Of Green Gables” — in 1934. Her best-known film is probably “Stella Dallas,” for which she gained an Academy Award best supporting actress nomination, but she retired from acting after making “Murder, My Sweet” in 1944. She died July 4, 1993.
To close, a few more photos from Tally Haugen of Clark and Carole at the press conference at Lombard’s home on St. Cloud Road (their Encino ranch home was still being worked on) the day after the wedding:
Posted by vp19 on 2011.03.30 at 21:07
Current mood: busy
Rare items from films Carole Lombard made a decade apart are being auctioned at eBay.
First, from Lombard’s initial all-talking feature, “High Voltage” from Pathe in early 1929, this 6″ x 10″ promo:
It shows Lombard (billed as “Carol,” as was generally the case during her Pathe tenure) comforting Diane Ellis (her ill-fated good friend in real life) along with William Boyd, the picture’s star. It’s in good condition.
Two bids have been made as of this writing, topping out at $13.15; bids close at 8:45 p.m. (Eastern) Monday. If interested, visit http://cgi.ebay.com/20s-Carole-Lombard-High-Voltage-1929-Promo-PHOTO-966S-/200591946073?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item2eb4363159.
Next, we fast forward to early 1939 and a rather unusual publicity photo from “Made For Each Other”:
What’s it about? Fortunately, the snipe’s on the back, and Selznick International publicity maven Russell Birdwell supplies the answer:
It’s Lombard taking care of a 10-day-old infant in a scene from the film.
Three bids have been made, with the top bid at $29.50, and bidding ends at 8:23 p.m. (Eastern) Monday. (It’s from the same seller as the other item.) To learn more, visit http://cgi.ebay.com/CAROLE-LOMBARD-CANDID-MADE-EACHOTHER-PHOTO-H945-/200591941489?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item2eb4361f71.
Posted by vp19 on 2011.03.29 at 00:59
Current mood: loved
That’s right, it was 72 years ago today — March 29, 1939 — that Carole Lombard and Clark Gable sneaked out of Los Angeles, headed east on fabled U.S. 66, ended up in Kingman, Ariz. and finally got married.
After Ria Gable obtained her divorce a few weeks earlier, it was now a virtual formality that Carole and Clark were going to exchange vows...when and where were the questions. Many believed Arizona would supply the latter answer — but many expected Yuma, just across the California state line, to be site of the honors (it was a popular place for Californians to marry). Instead, the couple went much further north and about 30 miles inside Arizona, to Kingman, hometown of their good friend Andy Devine. As for the when, Clark and Carole kept things relatively low-key, getting married on a Wednesday, and at a time when neither had film work scheduled. (“Gone With The Wind” was on a brief production break, while Lombard had not yet started work on her upcoming movie, “In Name Only.”)
After the wedding, held at the Methodist Church in town, the couple drove back to Los Angeles — the story that they spent their honeymoon in nearby Oatman, Ariz. is strictly myth — and quickly arranged an interview with reporters.
In May 1939, one of the fan magazines — not certain which one — ran a few paragraphs on what Lombard wore. Thanks to the superb Gable site dearmrgable.com, here’s the item:
And the bride wore gray.
When Carole Lombard and Clark Gable announced their intentions to wed, the question of what the bride (a divorcee) should wear became important not only to Carole but to thousands of other women who were about to marry for the second time. Carole never faltered in her choice for a moment.
“A gray suit,” was her decision. But the problem wasn’t solved that easily. There are grays and grays, some flattering, some hard and cold in tone, some unkind to blondes, as every woman knows. So, in order to secure exactly the proper shade for her, Carole devoted “a gray week” to the selection of the color. Irene, who was to create the suit, began by sending to Carole sample after sample of gray materials ranging in tone from rose-gray to blue-gray.
Between his “Gone with the Wind” scenes, Mr. Gable would aid Miss Lombard in the elimination of tones, until, finally the exact “Lombard gray” was chosen.
So, when you gaze at pictures of the newlyweds, remember this little story behind the wedding suit and, with a smile of universal understanding among women the world over, wish the bride a long and happy marriage with no “gray” ending.
As we all know, that sadly wouldn’t be the case.
Incidentally, Carole Sampeck of The Lombard Archive has attempted to replicate the outfit Lombard wore that day, and after years of work has assembled all items but one — a gray scarf with white polka dots. Sampeck said she has long searched for material of that color description, without success. While she believes Lombard’s cravat was made of silk, she would settle for other fabrics. If anyone has a suggestion where she might find that shade, it would be greatly appreciated.
In honor of the couple, a few Gable/Lombard clippings from Tally Haugen. First, a story from a magazine called Screen Life; the title is “She Knew What She Wanted,” and it ran in the March 1941 issue:
Next, Clark and Carole at the track (Santa Anita) from March 1940, published in Screen Guide that spring. It’s a large page, and thus is divided into two parts that sort of duplicates in the middle (some of the Lombard pix in the upper left-hand corner aren’t in the best of shape), but it’s a fun look at the famed couple in public:
We often close entries with a song…and today, we’re going to give you two. The first honors the highway Clark and Carole traveled in order to get married…”Route 66,” of course. (Kingman’s even mentioned in the lyric.) Here’s the act that did the best-known version of that Bobby Troup standard, Nat “King” Cole and his Trio — but this isn’t the hit recording of it (or the stereo remake Cole did some years later). This is one of the “soundies” from the 1940s, video musical performances that could be played on large jukebox-like machines. Cole’s in fine form here:
Next, a song that should be played at more weddings, because its mood captures the devotion of wedded bliss beautifully. It’s from the Association, an act that had quite a few hits in the late 1960s, including several that made number one. This was one of them, and in my mind is their greatest achievement — the brilliant “Never My Love”:
As many know Elizabeth Taylor was entombed in the Great Mausoleum in Forest Lawn in Glendale, California last Thursday. What you might not know is that her final resting place is at the end of the entrance corridor leading to the hall where the stained glass window depicting the Last Supper is located. This is in a public area that is very near both the final resting places of Russ Columbo as well as those of Carole Lombard and Clark Gable.
The entrance to the Great Mausoleum (left) and (right) on the day of Elizabeth Taylor’s funeral, March 24, 2011.
Elizabeth Taylor is entombed beneath a large marble sculpture of an angel entitled In Memoria that was created 70 years ago by Italian sculptor Ermenegildo Luppi out of imported marble.
The floral tribute shown here includes the gardenias, violets and orchids that covered Elizabeth Taylor’s casket during her funeral service on March 24, 2011.
Looking toward the Last Supper Window. The Sanctury of Vespers is on the left, while the Sanctuary of Trust is to the right.
The Last Supper.
A full-sized copy of Michelangelo’s Pieta. Pope John Paul II knelt and prayed here during his visit to Forest Lawn in 1976 when he was still the Archbishop of Krakow. The statue is located right outside the Sanctuary of Vespers.
The Sanctuary of Vespers.
The Sanctuary of Trust.
May they all rest in peace.
Posted by vp19 on 2011.03.28 at 00:11
Current mood: cheerful
The great singer-songwriter Jackie De Shannon may never have made them a subject for a song, but Carole Lombard’s eyes were among her greatest assets. For proof, check out this photo:
It’s from Paramount in the early 1930s, and an original in excellent condition; I don’t believe it was part of its p1202 Lombard portrait series. There apparently was a snipe on the back, but it isn’t there anymore. The photo measures 7.5″ x 9.5″, and while Carole is wearing a hat, it’s still evident she’s one of “those charming, alarming blonde women” Marlene Dietrich used to sing about.
No bids have been placed on this yet, perhaps because the minimum bid is $249.95. Bidding closes at 11:30 p.m. (Eastern) on Wednesday. If you want to learn more, visit http://cgi.ebay.com/Vintage-Carole-Lombard-30s-GORGEOUS-EYES-Portrait-/380325241848?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item588d26a3f8.
Here’s another “eyes” photo, from Eugene Robert Richee early in Lombard’s days at Paramount (we know because there’s a reference to “Safety In Numbers”):
It’s also available for $294.95, but under the “buy it now” option. To purchase, or to look, head over to http://cgi.ebay.com/Vintage-Carole-Lombard-30-GORGEOUS-EYES-Portrait-RICHEE-/400204975820?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item5d2e134ecc.
If both are a bit beyond your reach, here’s another Lombard photo that might be more your speed:
It’s Paramount p1202-857, from 1934, and Carole’s wearing the same outfit seen in the more common p1202-862:
857 is an 8″ x 10″ reprint on modern photostock paper from the 1980s or so. You can buy it now for $12.50 or make an offer; if unsold, it will be available through April 24. Interested? Then go to http://cgi.ebay.com/Carole-Lombard-ONE-8×10-bxw-photo-CLEARANCE-40-/370496204769?pt=Art_Photo_Images&hash=item56434b6fe1.
And in honor of the upcoming baseball season (major league opening day is Thursday), this week’s header is a pic of Lombard throwing out the first pitch in 1938 at Los Angeles Wrigley Field. Play ball!
Posted by vp19 on 2011.03.27 at 01:32
Current mood: happy
While you enjoy Carole Lombard in Paramount p1202-1008, taken by the great Eugene Robert Richee about 1934, some news from Lombard collector and good friend Tally Haugen about a box of Carole memorabilia she recently received — and, if her description is accurate, it’s a fairly big box:
“It is FILLED to the brim practically with several thousand clips all through Carole’s career. The lady tried to label the folders: FOOLS FOR SCANDAL, Lombard with MacMurray etc..I think based on the chief thing in that particular folder, but I have never seen so much!”
Just one word describes my reaction...wow.
Tally should have a fun time going through all that stuff — and the good news is that we’ll be able to partake of her discoveries, as she’s promised to scan and send some of the items my way. In fact, she’s already forwarded some odds and ends, a few of which I now will share with you.
In 1938, Lombard — who loved just about all facets of the film business — spent a week handling publicity for Selznick International Pictures. Several images have circulated regarding that memorable occasion, but here are a few more that probably haven’t been seen since they appeared in a fan magazine (not sure which one). Double-clicking will show them at just about the size they appeared in the mag:
(And remember, in 1938 the Surgeon General’s report on smoking was a long way from coming out, so don’t blame Lombard for lighting up. She didn’t know any better.)
Here are a pair of pictures of Carole with her beloved Palomino pony, Pico:
Both you and I await seeing more material from this treasure trove; if Tally is wondering, “I just don’t know what to do with all this,” I can’t say I blame her.
Posted by vp19 on 2011.03.27 at 18:31
Current mood: nostalgic
“No One Man,” in which Carole Lombard cavorts with Ricardo Cortez (top) and Paul Lukas, isn’t considered one of her prime Paramount vehicles. But it was a fairly prestigious property given for her to star in, an adaptation of a popular novel by noted author Rupert Hughes (Howard’s uncle).
And someone, somewhere, was enough of a fan of either Carole or the film to collect an array of advertisements and images for it.
From the names of the theaters listed, we know the “somewhere” — the San Francisco Bay area. Loew’s Warfield, on Market Street, which opened in 1922, was one of San Francisco’s better-known movie houses; the same applies to the Paramount, in Oakland, an Art Deco gem that opened in 1931, the year before “No One Man” showed in the East Bay. (Both theaters are still around and primarily function as performing arts venues.)
That water-skiing shot used in the ads is actually Paramount p1202-92, and its background reveals that whether or not Carole ever water-skied in her life, it certainly wasn’t on this occasion:
The seller also has bunches of clippings from other pre-Code films, including Jean Harlow’s “Red-Headed Woman,” “The Beast Of The City” and “The Public Enemy”; the Marx Brothers’ “Horse Feathers”; Barbara Stanwyck’s “Night Nurse” and “The Miracle Woman”; Greta Garbo’s “Susan Lenox: Her Fall And Rise,” “Mata Hari” and “As You Desire Me”; and Fay Wray’s “Dirigible” and “Doctor X.” For the entire list, go to http://shop.ebay.com/pipelinemba/m.html?_trksid=p4340.l2562.
As for the “No One Man” package, it has 14 clippings in all, wrapped in a protective mailer; bids open at $4.20 (as of this writing, no bids have been placed), with bids closing at 2:43 p.m. (Eastern) on Saturday. Interested? Visit http://cgi.ebay.com/Carole-Lombard-Paul-Lukas-Film-No-One-Man-1932-/250794742315?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item3a6488122b to learn more.
Posted by vp19 on 2011.03.26 at 02:13
Current mood: confused
A reflective portrait of Carole Lombard, specifically p1202-1408, which would place it from 1936 or so. The picture is currently on sale at eBay, but what’s unusual about this image is what’s on back. You could call it a snipe, but it surely didn’t come from Hollywood:
Here’s a closeup image of the back:
The name is clearly “Carole Lombard” in Cyrillic (“Кароль Ломбард”); slightly more than three years ago, we ran an entry on the popularity of Lombard and other classic Hollywood stars in Russia (http://community.livejournal.com/carole_and_co/84481.html). The seller labels it a photo from the “Russian archives,” but because the alphabet on the snipe is Cyrillic doesn’t necessarily mean it’s Russian (just as the alphabet from which English is spelled also can connote French, Italian, Spanish and many other languages). According to Wikipedia, the following languages employ a Cyrillic alphabet:
* Slavic languages: Bulgarian, Belarusian, Macedonian, Russian, Rusyn, Serbo-Croatian (Serbian, Montenegrin and, sometimes, Bosnian standards) and Ukrainian.
* Non-Slavic languages: Abkhaz, Bashkir, Erzya, Kazakh, Kildin Sami, Komi, Kyrgyz, Mari, Moksha, Moldovan, Mongolian, Ossetic, Romani (some dialects), Tajik, Tatar, Tuvan and Udmurt.
Oh, and while Russian is clearly the largest language that uses Cyrillic, that alphabet was actually popularized by the First Bulgarian Empire in the 10th century.
So I’m not entirely certain the snipe is in Russian; it may well be one of the other languages cited above. (According to one response, it’s Serbian.)
The seller apparently believes the snipe comes from 1938 because “True Confession” (which would have arrived in Europe sometime that year, a few months behind its late 1937 U.S. debut) is mentioned. However, it’s apparent several other of Carole’s films were listed — I’m guessing the one directly above “True Confession” is a differently-titled “My Man Godfrey,” since the co-star’s spelling looks like William Powell’s; ditto for “Mr. & Mrs. Smith” and Robert Montgomery. And at the top, since Kay Francis is listed alongside “Cari Granton,” that’s probably a reference to “In Name Only.” It’s possible this snipe was made sometime during 1941, but it might also have been issued posthumously.
This is an 8″ x 10″ sepia, and here’s what the version for sale looks like:
The photo is being sold for $50, and will be available through 3:47 p.m. (Eastern) on April 4. If interested, go to http://cgi.ebay.com/CAROLE-LOMBARD-SEPIA-PHOTO-8X10-RUSSIAN-ARCHIEVES-1938-/190516356034?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item2c5ba8e3c2.
And speaking of Russia: While listening to BBC World Service tonight for the latest on Arab political upheaval and the aftermath of the Japan earthquake/tsunami, I learned that today, the BBC is ending transmission of its Russian broadcast service for budgetary reasons, just as it recently ceased service to the Caribbean and the former Yugoslavia. (The BBC will retain an online Russian presence.) The service had begun in 1946, just as the Cold War was beginning, and for several decades the old Soviet Union often jammed the signal. But many people secretly listened to BBC Russian-language broadcasts to hear Soviet dissidents and “decadent” Western culture…including a band from Merseyside called the Beatles.
Fast forward to 2003, when Paul McCartney not only performs in Russia, but in Red Square -- and one of the highlights? “Back In The USSR,” of course, the Beatles’ clever take on the rock ‘n’ roll revival of 1968. With BBC Russian-language transmissions joining BOAC — and the USSR itself — in the dustpan of history, here’s Sir Paul, rockin’ the red:
Posted by vp19 on 2011.03.25 at 02:56
Current mood: peaceful
In “The Princess Comes Across,” released 75 years ago this spring, Carole Lombard plays Olga, a Swedish princess who really isn’t one; she’s actually a showgirl named Wanda Nash who hails from Brooklyn. And it just so happens that this Sunday, the borough hosts a pair of films Wanda might have seen a few years before her royal charade.
Lombard’s “Fast And Loose” (1930) and “No More Orchids” (1932) are being shown in a double bill at 2:30 p.m. (not sure which one goes first) as part of a series on “pre-screwball comedy” at Spectacle, which describes itself as “a collective of film collectors, filmmakers, editors, musicians, performers and misfits.” (Sounds like fun!) The series has been running on weekends throughout the month, and “No Man Of Her Own” has already been shown (sorry), but these two movies have a somewhat lower profile and are worth a look if you’ve never seen them.
“No More Orchids” really isn’t a comedy, as the ending (which we won’t give away) makes clear, but there are numerous comedic situations and clever lines, especially in the early part of the picture — and plenty of help from a fine supporting cast, including Lombard’s first work with superlative character actor Walter Connolly. As the site notes, “Ignore the largely nonsensical plot and enjoy the ribald ripostes, and, especially, Lombard looking gorgeous as she wriggles around with great vivacity in sexy lingerie.” This film was another example of Columbia showing it handled Carole more skillfully than did her home studio of Paramount.
“Fast And Loose,” the only movie Lombard ever made in New York (filmed one borough over in Astoria, Queens), gives her a largely supporting role (with Broadway emigre Miriam Hopkins getting the lead in her film debut), but Carole does get to work with another first-rate character actor (Frank Morgan), and the dialogue was written by none other than Preston Sturges, who Spectacle says “reconditions the frothy, Roaring Twenties era stage hit ['The Best People'] into a witty, sophisticated romp.”
Tickets for this twin bill are $5, and it will be followed by another double feature (separate admission) at 4:50 — Lombard’s husband in 1932, William Powell, teaming up with Kay Francis for the saucy “Jewel Robbery” (watch Bill disarm his foes by giving them cigarettes laced with that “wacky tobacky,” marijuana)…
…and the 1933 Ruth Chatterton business saga, “Female.”
I don’t believe Wanda Nash’s specific Brooklyn neighborhood was noted in “The Princess Comes Across,” but Spectacle is at 124 South 3rd Street, some blocks north of the Williamsburg Bridge. It’s a few blocks’ walk from the Bedford Avenue station on the L train or the Marcy Avenue station on the J, M or Z trains. For more precise directions or information on the theater, visit http://spectacletheater.com/
Now let’s direct our attention 3,000 miles away to southern California, which 53 years ago wrested one of Brooklyn’s many civic treasures. However, we’re looking a few miles north of Dodger Stadium — specifically Glendale and its famed Forest Lawn cemetery, final resting spot for Lombard and second husband Clark Gable. Yesterday, they welcomed an afterlife neighbor, as Elizabeth Taylor was laid to rest at the Great Mausoleum.
Taylor, who everyone expected would be buried alongside her parents at Westwood Memorial Park, threw everyone a curve by going to Forest Lawn instead. Perhaps it was done because Forest Lawn’s tighter security would prevent those loathsome anti-gay picketers from contaminating the ceremony, Maybe Taylor wanted to be near good friend Michael Jackson (although apparently, her vault isn’t that close to Jackson’s). Whatever, as the Los Angeles Times noted:
“She will be buried in the expansive cemetery’s Great Mausoleum, the same building where her good friend, Michael Jackson is buried, the final resting place for stars from film’s golden age, such as Jean Harlow, Carole Lombard and Clark Gable.”
And somewhere, Lombard is chortling that she finally got billed above Gable.
(Check http://www.seeing-stars.com/buried2/ForestLawnGlendale5.shtml for more details on Taylor’s precise burial site as they become available — especially since it could affect the logistics of those wishing to visit Carole’s vault.)
I’ve never heard Lombard mentioned as an influence on Elizabeth, who certainly never met her. (While Taylor and Gable were MGM stablemates for several years and surely knew each other, they never made a film together. The young Elizabeth did make a pair of movies with Powell.) But I believe had Lombard lived, she would have liked Taylor, who developed a lively, somewhat bawdy sense of humor. (It’s unfortunate Liz didn’t make more comedies, as she certainly could have excelled in the genre.)
In retrospect, there’s a lot to like about Taylor beyond her amazing beauty — her acting talent, her tireless work for charities and such. But for someone who at her peak was arguably the world’s best-known movie star since Mary Pickford in her prime, Elizabeth had a good sense of herself…something one might not expect from a person who at times was more a celebrity than an actress. For example, Taylor bore three children and adopted another, but remarkably managed to keep them largely out of the public eye and along the straight and narrow. (Heck, I bet many casual fans even forgot she was a mother until seeing her obituary.) In these days, where actresses tend to use children as virtual props for publicity, that’s close to a miracle.
I recommend this fine tribute to Taylor from cultural observer Camille Paglia: http://www.salon.com/entertainment/movies/feature/2011/03/23/camille_paglia_on_elizabeth_taylor/index.html. And I’ll leave you with this, my favorite picture of her, proof that Elizabeth was indeed one cool cat:
Posted by vp19 on 2011.03.24 at 02:48
Current mood: impressed
However, we’re not referring to the ending (the Indianapolis war bond rally of January 1942), but the beginning...a time when not only “Carole Lombard” was in the future, but so was California and motion pictures. Thanks to William Drew’s research, we find the birth of Jane Alice Peters in newsprint (even if she isn’t identified by name), specifically in the Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette of Oct. 8, 1908, two days after her arrival:
It must have been a thrilling time at 704 Rockhill Street:
Here’s the entire page of the birth announcement, which was part of the society column:
But if you fear little Jane Peters never saw her name in her hometown paper before heading west, don’t fret. Five years later, it was part of the Journal-Gazette, specifically on Oct. 7, 1913, again in the society column:
That entire page of the Journal-Gazette:
Now, look at what is adjacent to the brief on Jane Peters’ birthday party. (You can’t make this up, folks!)
A demonstration of Thomas Edison’s talking pictures. (Edison himself was not in Fort Wayne that day; a representative of his company was on hand for the presentation.) If you saw the Turner Classic Movies documentary “Moguls & Movie Stars,” you know that experimentation with sound in motion pictures went all the way back to the 1890s, and while Edison wasn’t the first to promote talking movies, he hoped his clout and renown would make his method the industry standard.
Here’s how the Journal-Gazette reviewed the proceedings:
“Mr. Ramsey eloquently points out the possibilities of the talking machine, how it will preserve the personality and the voice of every public idol for the edification of posterity.”
It would take another decade and a half for sound films to be technologically adept and commercially viable; Edison would live to see talking pictures thrive, though by that time he had little to do with them. (In fact, he developed severe hearing problems soon before his death in 1931.)
Since we know Jane Peters was already movie-mad, she may have well been more excited over the idea of motion pictures that actually talked than the report of her birthday party. We don’t know if she and her family attended this demonstration, but one guesses they were at least semi-regulars at the Majestic, which normally showed live stage plays:
The theater on West Berry Street, which opened in 1904, was eventually renamed the Capitol, and ultimately demolished.
Finally, one more goodie from this era, but we go from Fort Wayne to Kansas City in March of 1911:
As eventually would be her daughter.
Posted by vp19 on 2011.03.23 at 10:23
Current mood: thankful
That’s Carole Lombard, just about ready to leave teenhood, dancing up a storm on screen in the Mack Sennett two-reeler “The Campus Vamp” from September 1928. But years before that, Lombard was among the youthful set cavorting at the famed Cocoanut Grove of the legendary Hotel Ambassador on Wilshire Boulevard.
That is no secret; biographers have frequently cited that part of her life. However, now we have documented proof of it — along with a snippet of information from a time when next to nothing is known about her…1926, when she was recovering from an automobile accident that scarred her face and caused Fox to drop her from its roster.
William M. Drew has done yeoman work of late on my behalf, going above and beyond the call of duty for Lombard research. I had asked him to get some items from the Los Angeles Times of the mid-1920s that I was unable to access; not only did he come through, but he also came up with some things I was unaware of.
The other day, we ran a column from the Times 1927 called “Society of Cinemaland.” The year before — Sept. 19, 1926 to be precise — this is what the column looked like:
It sort of blends a society column with an early version of Hollywood gossip; note the lead item concerns Clara Bow’s surprise engagement to director Victor Fleming (it’s no spoiler to say it never went any further). Ironically, the bottom of the first column lists a party given by actress Hedda Hopper, who years later would gain more fame as a Times Hollywood columnist than she ever did for acting.
But that’s the article as a whole. Here’s the segment we’re interested in:
We learn that the previous Thursday (Sept. 16), the Cocoanut Grove had the finals of its dancing contest, and one of the competitors was none other than...Jane Peters. (Perhaps her family’s society ties led the Times society writer to refer to her by that name rather than her professional moniker of Carole Lombard.) By the fall of 1926, Lombard had likely recovered from the accident — and what better therapy than dancing?
Looking at some of the names provides an idea of the “crowd” the teen Lombard hung out with. Lloyd Pantages was the only name here that was also on the 1927 “Society of Cinemaland” Jane Peters segment, so he may have been Carole’s date. Stars (or future stars) shown here include Billie Dove (who like Lombard would have a romantic attachment to Howard Hughes, albeit a far longer and more serious one), Joan Crawford and Douglas Fairbanks Jr. (who later would marry).
Drew, who knew Dove in her last years and interviewed her extensively for his book, “At the Center of the Frame: Leading Ladies of the Twenties and Thirties,” provided a comment on his research regarding the accident:
“I did check for items in the LA Times regarding the accident with Harry Cooper but could find nothing. Since I do not have Larry Swindell’s bio of Carole, I’m assuming from your posts that he did not include an exact date for the accident. The fact that it was not reported in the Times, however, does not mean that it might not have appeared in one of the other LA papers, such as the Los Angeles Examiner. But as these have not been digitized and placed online, I have no means of searching them for this. I would guess that any accident report that reached the local press would have used her real name of Jane Peters rather than her stage name of Carol (or Carole) Lombard, limiting the possibility that it might have been more widely reported. …
“My guess is that Carole’s accident occurred around early 1926 or possibly even late 1925. By the end of summer or the onset of the fall of 1926, she had made her remarkable recovery and was now able to rejoin Hollywood society, a reappearance that, within a few months, made it possible to work in films again. This participation in a dance contest may have been a kind of coming-out party for her.”
Drew notes that a contemporary of Carole’s was also involved in an auto accident, and here’s how the Times covered Thelma Todd’s collision in November 1927:
As for Carole’s accident, if anyone around Los Angeles has the time to go to the history department of the main library downtown and check, it would be greatly appreciated. Among the other dailies in Los Angeles in late 1925 and early ’26 were:
* Hollywood Daily Citizen
* Los Angeles Daily News (not to be confused with the current San Fernando Valley-based newspaper of the same name)
* Los Angeles Evening Herald
* Los Angeles Examiner
* Los Angeles Record
Perhaps someday we can finally establish the particulars of when and where this pivotal event in Lombard’s life happened.
Posted by vp19 on 2011.03.22 at 01:24
Current mood: excited
Today’s entry is a potpourri, and the photo of Carole Lombard with James Stewart, followed by one of her with Cary Grant (and Peggy Ann Garner in between them), are from the two films Lombard made during 1939. And speaking of that year…
…the Classic Movie Blog Association will be doing another blogathon in mid-May, this one examining that epochal year, arguably the apex of the studio system — and I’m pleased to say that I’ll be among the participants. What will I be writing about? Well, as you might guess, there will be a Lombard angle to my entry; as for specifics, well, you’ll just have to wait and see.
You won’t have to wait until mid-May for the next subject of today’s entry…
…just until tonight, if you live in the U.S. and have Turner Classic Movies on your satellite or cable system. That’s because TCM is continuing its Jean Harlow star of the month programming in March with the six films she made with Clark Gable, kicking off (or should that be skating off?) at 8 p.m. (Eastern) with “Wife Vs. Secretary,” where Harlow is the latter, Myrna Loy the former, and Gable the husband/boss. (Stewart is also in the cast,)
It’ll be followed by “Red Dust,” “Hold Your Man,” “China Seas,” “The Secret Six” and “Saratoga” (in which Harlow died during shooting and her scenes were completed by a double). Gable and Harlow made a charismatic couple on screen — though they were no more than good, devoted friends off screen — and if you’ve never experienced their chemistry, here’s your chance.
Finally, have you ever searched for “Carole & Co.” via Google? If you have, you’ll find some other endeavors with similar names listed in addition to this blog, and one of them is a real estate appraiser in Seminole, Okla. named “Carole & Company”; its broker is named Carole O’Daniel (wonder if she was named for Lombard?).
Carole & Company also has a branch office in Maud, Okla., on the 100 block of Wanda Jackson Boulevard. If you’re a rock or rockabilly fan, you know who Wanda Jackson is — she’s a rockabilly pioneer (from Oklahoma) who had several hits in the late 1950s and early 1960s, moved into country and gospel for some years, but has returned to her roots, proving grandmothers can rock. She’s toured extensively in recent years and has just released a CD that’s getting good reviews. (Not long ago, she was interviewed by Terry Gross on the popular NPR program “Fresh Air.”)
To honor Wanda, and by extension our favorite real estate office, here’s what I consider Jackson’s greatest record, one of the best “B” sides in rock history — “Funnel Of Love,” from 1961. It was the flip of “Right Or Wrong,” a decent pop hit that became her entry into the country market, but had this received a push from Capitol, Jackson’s career might have been entirely different. It’s an excellent production with superb guitar work from Roy Clark (yes, the same guy who was on “Hee-Haw”; he was in Wanda’s band and was one of the best session men in the business). Now considered a classic, this is still a staple of Wanda’s shows. One listen, and I think you’ll love it as much as I do.
Posted by vp19 on 2011.03.21 at 02:05
Current mood: ecstatic
Wait, there’s more! As in more early Carole Lombard stories from the files of the Los Angeles Times, and by “early,” we mean up to 1927; the portrait above was used to promote the Mack Sennett comedy “The Girl From Everywhere,” released in December of ’27. William Drew uncovered a few more items hitherto unknown…perhaps because they don’t refer to Lombard, but to “Jane Peters.”
First, we’ll examine the Times of July 24, 1927, and a lengthy column called “Society of Cinemaland” by a Myra Nye:
The days of people in the film industry being treated as second-class citizens by the leading lights of Los Angeles had long since passed; the movies meant too much to the city’s economy and self-esteem.
It makes a good read, providing an idea of how Hollywood and society intersected, even if many of the names won’t be familiar unless you regularly watch “Silent Sunday Nights” on Turner Classic Movies. But in case you don’t have the time — or the inclination — to read the entire story, we’ll isolate the relevant stuff:
The previous Sunday (July 17), a reception was held to bid farewell to the Duncan sisters, one of vaudeville’s premier acts:
Some of the notables on hand included Dolores Del Rio and her husband, Louella Parsons, Lloyd Pantages of theater fame, Claire Windsor, Lois Moran and “Jane Peters.” (Why was she listed by that name here? Perhaps at the time, she had been out of the business for so long — more than a year, which by 1920s standards was a virtual eternity — that she had been forgotten professionally.) Perhaps Carole, who still had many friends in the industry, was trying to “network” and land another film contract.
In the Feb. 4, 1925 Times story in which “Carole Lombard” made her debut in the paper, she was referred to as Jane Peters, a “society girl.” And slightly more than two months earlier — Nov. 30, 1924 — that “society girl” had been listed in the Times, as part of an even longer society roundup; we’ll show only the cogent item:
So we learn that Jane Peters, who had turned 16 the month before, was maid of honor at a wedding on Friday, Nov. 28, and that she wore a gown “of soft ping [pink?] crepe with trimming of crystals and rhinestones and she carried an arm shower of Ophelia roses and ferns.” I have no idea of the Peters family’s ties to bride Ursula E. Barker or groom Eugene E. Silver.
Incidentally, a few months before this ran, specifically on Sept. 7, 1924, the Times society column mentioned someone else who would gain fame in the following decade:
Not sure who we mean? Again, let’s isolate, focusing on the bottom of the first column and the top of the second one:
“Miss Harlean Carpenter” would make a name for herself a few years later, signing with Hal Roach in 1929 and taking her mother’s name…Jean Harlow:
Also note this week’s header, a straight-on head shot of Carole from the mid-thirties.
Posted by vp19 on 2011.03.20 at 01:11
Current mood: frustrated
Carole Lombard’s budding film career continued in the summer of 1925 with a female lead in the Buck Jones western at Fox, “Hearts And Spurs.” However, the Los Angeles Times, the leading newspaper in the capital of the film industry, had no mentions of Lombard in its pages in 1925, beyond the items we showed in the first two parts of this series.
There’s Lombard in a lobby card from “The Road To Glory,” a Fox film directed by Howard Hawks (who, more than a decade later, directed an unrelated film of the same name) and released in February 1926. Unfortunately, that’s about all we have of Carole for the entire year; the Times apparently didn’t print a single item on her for all of ’26.
For the Lombard researcher, 1926 is a virtual black hole, largely because she was in an automobile accident that caused a noticeable scar on her left cheek that required plastic surgery and an extended period of healing. It also led Fox to drop her from its acting roster. We’re aware of that general information, but as far as specifics, no luck.
No biographer has ever provided a definite date to when the accident happened, or precisely where it occurred. Perhaps it’s hidden somewhere in Los Angeles police files, but if it exists, it’s never been retrieved. One would believe at least one of the city’s newspapers ran something on it, but if one did, it remains hidden.
At a dead end where 1926 is concerned, we move forward to 1927, where Carole gained work as a member of Mack Sennett’s bathing beauty troupe in two-reelers. Her Sennett debut came in “Smith’s Pony,” released on Sept. 18 — and as fate would have it, that day the Times ran Lombard’s picture as part of a rotogravure display:
Let’s isolate and run a closeup of that Lombard portrait:
Somewhat resembles a 1927 version of Christina Aguilera, doesn’t it? Here’s what the caption says:
“The loveliness that so charmed the eye of Mack Sennett is revealed in this photograph of Carol Lombard. Small wonder that the comedy king has signed Miss Lombard to appear in his two-reelers. — Photo by Hesser”
As in Edwin Bower Hesser, the noted glamour photographer. Also note that her first name has no “e”; might it have been to give her a new persona, distinct from that long-ago Fox player (whose past isn’t mentioned here)? Whatever, it’s a stunning photo, and the blonde hair certainly makes her look different from the Fox Lombard.
Less than a month later (Oct. 13), Lombard was back in the Times, this time in the news section, and it’s also the first report of the auto accident in the paper:
Note she is listed as “Carole Jane Peters” (although her legal name was still Jane Alice Peters), and she was suing Harry Cooper and his parents for $35,000 for damages suffered in the accident. It doesn’t give us any detail on when and where the incident occurred (also note that Lombard, whose professional name this time does have an “e,” is listed as being 17, even though she had turned 19 the week before). Moreover, it says nothing about her prior work with Fox.
Two days later, we learned the result (thanks to Bill Drew for uncovering this) — as often happened in such cases, it was settled out of court before going to trial:
And Carole apparently came out of it with $3,000, so for her it was a victory of sorts.
That’s where Carole Lombard stood as 1927 ended, as she continued to gain expertise in a type of acting far different than what she had done at Fox. If only we knew more about the incident that had sent her career in this new direction.
Carole Lombard lunching with Roger Pryor, possibly during the filming of “Lady By Choice” in 1934 or later.
Carole Lombard and director, Walter Lang, (soon to be husband of “Fieldsie” Carole’s close friend and social secretary), on the set of “Love Before Breakfast”.
Leslie Howard, Zeppo Marx, Carole Lombard, Gary Cooper and Mrs. Zeppo Marx at a social gathering.
June Knight moving in as a roommate with Russ Columbo and Roger Pryor in 1934’s “Wake Up and Dream” made just before the code was in full force.
Roger Pryor, June Knight and Russ Columbo as a team of vaudevillians in “Wake Up and Dream”, 1934.
Carole maintained friendly relations with many of the people she knew with and through Russ Columbo to the end of her life. Pryor was her co-star in “Lady By Choice”. Andy Devine, who also co-starred with Russ in “Wake Up and Dream” was invited, along with his wife, to Carole’s very private funeral in January of 1942. Walter Lang and Zeppo Marx both served as pall bearers for Russ Columbo in 1934 and then again for Carole in 1942.
It is interesting what a very private person Carole was for all of her public aura of being an extrovert. She made a clear distinction between what was “on the record” and what was “off the record”.
Posted by vp19 on 2011.03.19 at 01:40
Current mood: curious
In the middle of 1925, the first film starring a 16-year-old actress named Carole Lombard (shown with Edmund Lowe), “Marriage in Transit,” made its way across American movie theaters. The largest daily in the movie capital, the Los Angeles Times, already had taken note of this teen actress several times that spring, and her name would resurface on a few more occasions as the year continued.
On May 13, the Times published a lengthy story by Katherine Lipke on “Re-discovering Discoveries,” in which Lombard is mentioned in the initial paragraph (“dancing one evening and acting the next”) but not at all thereafter:
Of course, with the angle “rediscovering discoveries,” Lombard didn’t really qualify (unless you wanted to count her 1921 one-shot as Jane Peters in “A Perfect Crime”). It nevertheless makes a good read, as some of the top people in the industry discuss who rediscovered whom.
Move slightly more than three months ahead, to Aug. 23, and Lombard’s name comes up again in the Times -- but in an item that had little, if anything, to do with the movies. (And to be honest, I had no idea this existed until Bill Drew dug it up.) It’s part of resort notes, and for us, the relevant stuff is at the bottom:
Lake Arrowhead resorts report full houses for last week during the women’s swimming meet with expectations of full houses Saturday when Fred Cady will stage the fourth annual mile-high diving meet. Among the well-known people registered last week at Cottage Grove, Camp Fleming and Lake Arrowhead Lodge, were Miss Carole Lombard of the Fox studio, Tim Waring and Roy Fox. …
This tidbit opens up an array of questions. Did Carole compete in the swimming events (and if so, how did she fare?) or was she merely a spectator, a celebrity guest? And who were Tim Waring and Roy Fox? (The first name isn’t listed at all at the Internet Movie Database, and the oldest date of work for one of the three Roy Foxes listed was 1971.) Were either her date, and might Roy Fox have been related to studio owner William Fox?
I’ve never seen a photo of Lombard in a swimsuit in 1925, but here’s how she appeared in one later that decade:
And here’s Carole at Lake Arrowhead in 1937, where she was filming scenes from “True Confession”:
Lombard visited Lake Arrowhead quite a few times over the years; in fact, it was where she was staying Labor Day weekend in 1934 when she received word of the accidental shooting of Russ Columbo.
One more interesting detail in the resort notes: The lead item concerns an A.B. Spreckels amateur golf tournament. A.B. Spreckels Jr. would later marry a model and actress named Kathleen Williams, who subsequently became the fifth and final wife of Clark Gable.
Finally, that Lombard and Lowe photo at the top (thanks to Tally Haugen for her work on it) is on sale at eBay for $8.99; it’s not an original picture, but it is a few decades old. If interested, go http://cgi.ebay.com/CAROLE-LOMBARD-EDMUND-LOWE-MARRIAGE-TRANS-vintage-photo-/220756298574?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item336619cb4e.
Posted by vp19 on 2011.03.18 at 01:11
Current mood: nostalgic
As in Los Angeles Times, the dominant newspaper in southern California — and by “early,” we’re referring to the mid-1920s, the first instances of Jane Alice Peters being publicized for her new name and new profession.
We’ve noted a few of these items in the past, but we’ve never shown them to you as they actually ran in the newspaper. Thanks to Bill Drew, we’ve obtained a number of articles that ran in the Times, and you can get an idea of how they must have thrilled a teenage girl who had long dreamed of movie stardom, emulating the notables she had watched in moviehouses since early childhood.
The first part of this series is from early 1925, as Lombard — still closer to age 16 than 17 — embarked on her journey to stardom. We’ll begin with what may be the first time the name “Carole Lombard” appeared not just in the Times, but perhaps any newspaper. (Perhaps someone can study other Los Angeles papers of the period — G.D. Hamann, where are you? — to learn if any other daily beat the Times to the punch.) Here’s the entry, from the Times of Feb. 4, 1925:
Jane Peters, “another lovely society girl”…Elizabeth Peters, “society leader”…”Incidentally Miss Peters has taken the name of Carole Lombard.” (From the start, that first name has an “e”!) We learn how she won an interview with Fox’s Sol M. Wurtzel, impressed them enough to win a five-year contract, and was given the female lead opposite Edmund Lowe in an upcoming film called “The Best Man.” (The world would come to know it as “Marriage In Transit.”) Pretty heady achievement for a girl of sweet sixteen — although her previous debut with Monte Blue is noted.
About a month later, March 8 to be exact, the name “Carole Lombard” would again appear in the Times, in an article written by Edwin Schallert, whose son William was then two years old — he’s still going strong today and continues to get work as one of the industry’s most beloved character actors (http://community.livejournal.com/carole_and_co/190884.html):
“Girls who have the least suspicion of talent are not only being given small supporting parts in the pictures, but in several instances they have been put right into leading roles.” Lombard is one of those cited, along with other actresses of note, including Sally O’Neill, Dorothy Sebastian, Greta Nissen, Constance Bennett and a new Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer played named Lucille LeSueur, whom Carole by now might have met on the dance floor at the Cocoanut Grove and who soon would be renamed Joan Crawford. It’s an intriguing article, as Schallert evaluates this trend in the industry.
Later that month, March 25, Carole’s photograph likely made its debut in the Times, as part of a salute to filmdom newcomers:
“How do you like these newcomers?” Very much, thank you.
Lombard’s in the lower right-hand corner. Want a close-up?
Of Lombard, it says she “walked into the films via the ballroom. Her beauty attracted attention at a recent dance and Fox immediately signed her up.” (Funny, but that wasn’t mentioned in the account the previous month.) “She is playing opposite Edmund Lowe in ‘The Best Man.'” And it appears that shot is taken from a wedding scene still from that picture.
Fascinating stuff from about 86 years ago, and one can imagine the Peters family buying up a few extra copies to mail to friends back home in Indiana, and perhaps saving a copy or two for the family scrapbook. Our next entry will feature Lombard items from later on in the year.
Posted by vp19 on 2011.03.17 at 02:31
Current mood: frustrated
It’s Nov. 22, 1929, and already the buzz is going around Hollywood over who’s going to be named award-winners. No, not the Academy Awards, but a figurative prize for young actresses — the WAMPAS Baby Stars. Every year since 1922, a baker’s dozen (13) starlets received the honor, presented by the Western Association of Motion Picture Advertisers (WAMPAS).
That day, the St. Petersburg (Fla.) Evening Independent ran a column from syndicated Hollywood writer Dan Thomas on the upcoming selection. Thomas chose six likely contenders, and guess who one of his six was?
Of course it was Carole Lombard (if it wasn’t, would we be doing this entry?) She was deemed a starlet whose voice would lead her to prominence, a new element in the WAMPAS star search. Here’s what Thomas said of Lombard (whose first name was listed with an “e,” yet another crack in the myth that it lacked that letter until “Fast And Loose” was released nearly a year later):
“Carole Lombard, who started in pictures on the Mack Sennett lot several years ago, is now under contract to Pathe. During the past year she has appeared in seven productions at that studio and is touted by executives as one of the most promising prospects in some time.”
Now, it’s entirely possible that at the time this hit print, Lombard and stablemate Diane Ellis had already been informed by Pathe officials that their services were no longer needed at the studio, although no one at the studio would admit the reason for their dismissal was because newly-signed Constance Bennett wanted no blonde competition on the roster.
The other five Thomas cited were Marion Byron, Kathryn Crawford, Mary Doran, Dixie Lee and Lillian Roth.
So who among the six got the WAMPAS honors? None of them did…but then again, neither did anyone else. WAMPAS declined to make selections for 1930 for at least two reasons — the recent stock market crash and the industry upheaval over the transition to sound.
Lombard would become by far the biggest star of the six Thomas selected, as none of the other five achieved more than minimal Hollywood success. Crawford worked with Carole in Lombard’s Paramount debut, “Safety In Numbers,” but made only six films thereafter; Byron, Buster Keaton’s leading lady in “Steamboat Bill, Jr.”, soon descended into bit parts; Doran hung on slightly longer; and Lee and Roth achieved brief stardom before being derailed by alcoholism. (Lee married singer Bing Crosby, whose fame soon eclipsed hers.)
As for the WAMPAS awards, they were revived in 1931 and ’32, suspended in ’33, and given out one more time in 1934 before being ditched for good.
To close, an appropriate song — “I’m Nobody’s Baby,” which has been done by a number of artists, including Marion Harris, Mildred Bailey and Judy Garland. Here’s Ruth Etting’s version from 1927:
Posted by vp19 on 2011.03.16 at 10:52
Current mood: nostalgic
Last October, we noted that Carole Lombard’s legendary home at 7953 Hollywood Boulevard was available for sale or rent (http://community.livejournal.com/carole_and_co/344899.html). Five months later, that’s still the case — apparently the slow housing market is affecting even luxury home sales in Los Angeles — although the pricing has changed.
The bad news: The rental price has increased from $5,800 to $6,500 per month (with a year’s lease in each case). The good news, relatively speaking: The sale price has shrunk by nearly half, from $2.7 million to $1,595,000…though that number still dwarfs what most of us mere mortals can afford. (Until we win the lottery, invent the latest high-tech app or such.)
The house, built in 1926 and occupied before Carole’s two-year stay from 1934 to 1936, remains a showplace, at the far western end of famed Hollywood Boulevard just before Laurel Canyon Boulevard. Here’s an aerial view of the neighborhood:
And here are a few new photos of the house’s interior at it looks today:
Note the third photo features some Lombard memorabilia, including a reproduction of a poster from “No Man Of Her Own” and Carole’s 1937 Lucky Strike advertisement.
This shows Lombard not only slept here, but showered here (and used the medicine cabinet, too):
The kitchen now includes a microwave and some other modern fixtures (Carole may have been ahead of her time, but not that far ahead!):
Now, a question perhaps Carole Sampeck of The Lombard Archive or someone else can answer: Has the rear of the property been significantly altered since Lombard lived there? I ask because here’s a vintage picture of Carole at her pool behind the house:
In contrast, two current photos of the rear, which show no pool but a guest house (did it exist when Carole called it home, and was it where her personal assistant, Madalynne Fields, resided?). It’s a bit confusing:
You can learn more about this piece of Hollywood history at http://la.curbed.com/archives/2011/03/carole_lombards_hollywood_bachelorette_pad_returns.php#lombard-2 and http://www.redfin.com/CA/Los-Angeles/7953-Hollywood-Blvd-90046/home/7116221.
As we did in the October entry, we’ll close with the song “A Cottage For Sale.” This charming version of the Willard Robison standard was recorded by jazz legend Jack Teagarden in January 1962, about two years before his death.
Posted by vp19 on 2011.03.15 at 01:51
Current mood: contemplative
“No One Man” is among the Carole Lombard films I’ve yet to see, so I don’t know who the man at the desk is that Carole and Ricardo Cortez want to do business with. He’s probably a hotel clerk, or possibly a railroad stationmaster. In either case, his other duties might include work for Western Union, handling telegrams.
Today, sending messages via Western Union seems almost quaint; the company’s current principal business is money transfers and bill payments. (Sam Goldwyn’s famed quote to screenwriters, “If you want to send a message, use Western Union,” is an anachronism.) These days, messages are sent via smartphones, laptops and other methods of instant, portable communication. (For the recent Jean Harlow Blogathon, the charming site Via Margutta 51 imagined what the Harlow film “Red-Headed Woman” would have been like if Twitter had been around in 1932 — check it out at http://via-51.blogspot.com/2011/03/read-headed-woman-twitter-version-part.html and http://via-51.blogspot.com/2011/03/red-headed-woman-twitter-version-end.html
We know Western Union was a part of Lombard’s life; a few years ago, we noted a telegram Carole and Clark Gable sent to Hollywood columnist Jimmy Starr, wishing him and his family a happy holiday season:
Well, at least several other Lombard and Starr-related telegrams have surfaced, and you’re going to see them.
One was sent by Lombard on June 28, 1935, giving best wishes on the wedding of Starr and his wife:
The other three weren’t sent by Carole, but she is mentioned in the copy. The first is from May 13, 1937, and it looks to be about that a friend of Starr’s married the nurse who helped in the recovery of Lombard’s aunt in Palm Springs (what?):
On Dec. 18, 1939, someone wired Starr, noting that Santa Claus received more mentions than Gable, Lombard, Norma Shearer and “Gone With The Wind” the previous week, and wondering just who was St. Nick’s press agent:
And finally, one from Jan. 21, 1942. It was sent by the Young & Rubicam advertising agency, noting that Jack Benny had returned to the top of the Crosley ratings and that he would be back on Sunday night’s show after his absence the previous week out of respect for Lombard’s passing:
All four of these telegrams are being auctioned at eBay. The one sent by Lombard is the most expensive of the bunch, with bids beginning at $49.99; it’s at http://cgi.ebay.com/Western-Union-Telegram-Jimmy-Starr-Carole-Lombard-/330542200449?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item4cf5d9b681. Next, with bids starting at $29.99 each, are the 1937 telegram (http://cgi.ebay.com/Western-Union-Telegram-Carole-Lombard-Jimmy-Starr-/360352080667?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item53e6a8631b) and the one from 1942 (http://cgi.ebay.com/Western-Union-Telegram-Carole-Lombard-Jack-Benny-/360352079245?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item53e6a85d8d). The lowest opening bid, $24.99, is for the 1939 Santa Claus wire (http://cgi.ebay.com/Western-Union-Telegram-Jimmy-Starr-Carole-Lombard-/360352084971?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item53e6a873eb). Bidding ends on all four items between 4:27 and 4:49 p.m. (Eastern) next Monday, and as of this writing, none have been bid on.
To close, an appropriate song from the “Iceman,” Jerry Butler — “Hey, Western Union Man.” Chicago native Butler co-wrote this with Philadelphia music mavens Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff, and it reached #16 on the Billboard pop charts and #1 on its R&B chart in November 1968. (Incidentally, Butler is still touring; he appeared at Washington’s Blues Alley last month.) Enjoy some smooth Chicago-meets-Philly-style soul, even if you younger folks have no idea what he’s singing about…
Posted by vp19 on 2011.03.14 at 00:12
Current mood: artistic
The snipe on the back of Paramount p1202-277 admitted that Carole Lombard was perhaps with a bow and arrow “for the Olympic games,” but in early 1932 just about everyone in Los Angeles had Olympic fever. And why not? That summer’s event represented the city’s coming-out party, an opportunity to show it was indeed a world-class metropolis. And its best-known industry, the movies, joined in the enthusiasm.
In fact, Carole — who by then had called L.A. home for more than 17 years — was so excited, she either designed a commemorative hairstyle or let herself become its best-known proponent. And 79 years ago today, March 14, 1932, Lombard let the world know about it.
That morning, readers of the Los Angeles Times saw this item (thanks to William M. Drew for retrieving it):
Yes, Lombard was promoting something called “the Olympic bob,” which she termed a sculptured headdress. But how is it done?
The story said “the hair should be about two inches above the shoulder line, a light fringe of bangs covering the forehead being slightly curled upward at the ends. The rest of the hair is severely combed back off the face and ears with one slight wave at a line parallel with the ears.” The story added:
“Miss Lombard declared treatment of the ends of the hair is most important, the hair being curled on an iron so it clusters closely to the nape of the neck and extends up under the ear lobes.”
I have no idea whether this became a popular ‘do that summer (and how would it look in 2011? Perhaps one of our Lombard ladies should try it and report to us), but I do know that the Olympic bob was featured in several smaller newspapers in ensuing weeks and presumably was also shown in fan magazines of the time.
Moreover, we do know that Paramount’s Eugene Robert Richee took the two views of the hair bob picture. Here’s a better version of the first one:
(Oh, and it’s far bigger, too, because this image comes from the Heritage Auction Galleries site that supersizes photographs for its bidders. Double-click on it, and Carole’s face looks truly Olympian, goddess-like in its larger-than-life scale — so much so that in order to stand eye-to-eye with her, you’d need a small stepladder!)
The Heritage photo also has a snipe publicizing the Olympic look, noting that Lombard is wearing the style in her latest film, “Sinners In The Sun”:
As coincidence would have it, this Richee image of Lombard is being auctioned at eBay, and while it’s not blown up to the giant scale you’d view it above when double-clicked, at 13″ x 19″ it’s still considerable. The seller initially labeled it “flapper era,” but either did some additional research or was corrected by somebody, because it’s now referred to “exquisite and beautiful” (right on both counts!). It sells for $9.99 under the “buy it now” option; if you’d like to put an Olympian Lombard on your wall, go to http://cgi.ebay.com/CAROLE-LOMBARD-Exquisite-Beautiful-HUGE-WALL-POSTER-/250788068585?pt=Art_Prints&hash=item3a64223ce9.
Hope you like this week’s header, Lombard stretching out those lovely legs of hers during a break on “Nothing Sacred.”
Two more things, the first for the baseball fans among us. If you have the MLB Network on your cable or satellite system, watch “MLB Tonight” at 7 p.m. (Eastern) to watch rare, high-quality footage of three of baseball’s legendary stars. Here’s the background, from Sports Illustrated baseball writer Tom Verducci:
Back in 1922, the Pathe Brothers Company of Paris developed 9.5 mm film, an inexpensive format that became popular in Europe. Two years later, somebody took a 9.5 mm film camera to Yankee Stadium, then scarcely more than a year old, and shot film of some of the greatest legends in baseball history, who could have been there taking part in some sort of exhibition game: Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb and Walter Johnson. The film may have been part of an instructional series that was distributed in Europe and then essentially forgotten for nearly a century.
MLB Productions recently acquired three minutes of this rare, high-quality footage. The fascinating up-close look of Ruth and Cobb hitting and Johnson pitching will be shown on “MLB Tonight” Monday at 7 p.m. on the MLB Network. (Disclosure: I work for MLB Network, though not in 9.5 mm.)
The rare film is captivating because it brings these baseball ghosts closer to life than almost anything else you might have seen: the uncoiling of Ruth’s rotational power, which was innovative back then; a clear look at how Cobb awkwardly began his swing with his hands apart and brought them together as his bat came forward; and the unique slingshot style of Johnson, who, with his velocity and arm angle, must have been particularly frightening to right-handed hitters. Watching these greats, you understand how far (and how much better) the mechanics of the game have evolved.
The stars were not far from the top of their game when the film was made in 1924. Johnson, then 36, won the pitching Triple Crown; Ruth, 29, and still five years from wearing his famous number 3, nearly won the hitting Triple Crown; and Cobb, 37, hit .338 with 211 hits, the last of his nine 200-hit seasons.
Should be fascinating to see these three greats in film beyond the herky-jerky images so associated with baseball movies of that era.
Secondly, with most of America now on Daylight Savings Time, it seems appropriate to play this tune — “(There Ought To Be A) Moonlight Savings Time,” which was popular around 1930 and ’31. Several versions of the song can be found on YouTube; even Maurice Chevalier recorded it. The one I’ve chosen is by the great Annette Hanshaw from May 1931, and it’s simply a wonderful pop record.
Posted by vp19 on 2011.03.13 at 01:23
Current mood: thankful
It’s one of the most popular pictures of Carole Lombard, and you’ve probably never seen it look quite this good before. That’s because it’s also one of the most difficult images of her to find, a holy grail of sorts.
Seen on the rear dust jacket of “Screwball,” the 1975 Larry Swindell biography of Lombard, it’s proven virtually impossible to track down; even Swindell has no idea what happened to the photo that was used on the dust jacket. Last July, a copy of the photo emerged from the archive of the Chicago Tribune, but it had been used for publication and featured crop marks (http://community.livejournal.com/carole_and_co/323736.html).
But good news — a relatively untouched copy of the photo was found, put up for auction and was won by our good friend Carole Sampeck of The Lombard Archive. She cleaned up the few edit marks, was nice enough to share it with me, and I in turn am delighted to share it with you. Enjoy that image of Lombard, so full of joy. (It was likely taken near the Encino ranch in 1940, and was used as a publicity photo at RKO for “Mr. & Mrs. Smith.”)
Another friend of “Carole & Co.” is Tally Haugen, who has provided many images to this community — and she’s come up with one more. It’s from 1937 or thereabouts, and features Carole with three of her canine companions:
I know that the dachshund Lombard is holding is Commissioner, and that the Pekingese cuddled up against her lower leg is Pushface. But who’s the third dog? According to Tally, “Carole had two cocker spaniels, Dudley and Smokey, so I’d guess that’s Smokey.” (One presumes Dudley had fur of a different shade.)
It’s a charming picture for any dog lover, and if you’d like an 8″ x 10″ print of it for your very own, you can. It’s being sold for $8.75, and the good news is that the seller currently has 10 copies available (if you’d like to buy multiple copies for friends). Go to http://cgi.ebay.com/CAROLE-LOMBARD-8X10-Photo-Dog-Lover-ER439-/280643423590?pt=Art_Photo_Images&hash=item4157a6cd66 to learn more.
We know that Lombard was a good friend of Marion Davies, who along with William Randolph Hearst adored dachshunds — at one point, the San Simeon ranch that was the publisher’s principal residence was home to 75 dachshunds. A few were given to friends who requested them (and whom Hearst and Davies believed would be trustworthy owners); might Commissioner have had a Hearst Castle lineage? (Sampeck says no, that Carole got the dog from a local fire chief, hence its name.)
I bring up Davies because Sampeck supplied me with another photo, a version of one we ran in January to mark the 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s inauguration — an event Marion attended (http://community.livejournal.com/carole_and_co/374767.html). We wondered just where Davies was at the inauguration, and Sampeck believes she’s found it:
Horace Brown, Davies’ husband, and Marion are directly above their names, according to Sampeck:
“…the specific fellow in the top hat is recognizably Horace Brown. I believe the small woman to the right of him in the image is Marion. There is another female on his other side, but she is much too large a person to be MD. The lady’s eyebrows are the high arches Marion favored, and there is substantial luggage below her eyes as well, which dovetails with MD’s appearance in the last year or two of her life. I’m fairly confident of my thinking on this — plus Horace would have been a gentleman and let his wife sit closer to the action so she could see it better, I think.”
Davies, a substantial contributor in both money and resources to the JFK campaign (she let him take over her Beverly Hills mansion as a headquarters while the 1960 Democratic convention was being held at the Los Angeles Sports Arena), was a few rows behind the outgoing president, Dwight Eisenhower, and the incoming first lady, Jacqueline Kennedy (a one-time photographer for the old Washington Times-Herald).
Posted by vp19 on 2011.03.13 at 09:31
Current mood: amused
…if you have Turner Classic Movies in the U.S., that Carole Lombard’s final film (and certainly one of her best), the original “To Be Or Not To Be,” will air at 1 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time (have you moved all your clocks an hour ahead?). Most of you have likely seen this Ernst Lubitsch classic, but if you haven’t or want to view it again, enjoy.
Before that, at 11 a.m., is the fine “After The Thin Man” with the beloved William Powell and Myrna Loy (“And you call yourself a detective!”).
Posted by vp19 on 2011.03.12 at 02:34
Current mood: mischievous
Cute picture, isn’t it — Carole Lombard, looking seductive and glamorous, perched in front of a model ship around 1934 or so. It might not be the easiest thing to accomplish, but through Photoshop or some other image alteration program, one might be able to isolate Lombard and ship, superimpose them on an oceanfront background, and voila — you’ve magically created a Carole colossus (a Lombardzilla?), although she appears in far too gentle a mood to wreak havoc on Hollywood.
Yesterday’s entry on the large one-sheet poster of “White Woman” made me dig further into the files of Heritage Auction Galleries; if you’re a member, one of the advantages is that you photographically examine items it has handled, even those it has previously sold. And since people who purchase Hollywood memorabilia are painstakingly thorough about what they bid on, the “view closer” option not only applies to posters, but photographs, too. In fact, they can be magnified to such an extent that a photo measuring 8″ x 10″ or thereabouts can be viewed at poster size.
Seeing photographs at that scale (as you can do with the shot above, Paramount p1202-964, after double-clicking) is a revelation. Whether it be an actual publicity photo or an inverted negative, a Lombard image at mega proportions allows one to fully comprehend the work that went into creating it, both from the photographer (from lighting, angles or even retouching) and from Carole herself (her study of cinematography, initially done to help disguise the scar she received in her 1926 automobile accident, made her a master at knowing how to produce an effective portrait).
This entry will limit itself to Heritage’s photographs (or inverted negatives) in the fabled p1202 series; double-clicking will magically boost their size five- or six-fold. Unlike usual policy at “Carole & Co.”, the borders of those images will not be trimmed off. Get ready to bask in the Brobdingnagian beauty of one of the giants of Hollywood…and in this instance, it’s almost literally so. (Oh, and even those of you with the largest monitors, prepare to do some maneuvering.)
First, p1202-43, followed by 189 and 203, the last of which is a close-up in which, at giant size, you can view Carole’s face in incredible detail:
Next up, p1202-393, 594 and 649:
The next three are p1202-897 (from “Supernatural”), 1021 and 1344:
And to close, p1202-1346, 1624 and 1715:
But wait, there’s more! Whereas all those images above are from previous auctions, here’s an item you can bid on now. It’s a Kodak nitrate negative of p1202-1177, showing Lombard relaxing between games of tennis. While you can view the inverted negative supersized, the winning bidder won’t get it at that scale. (It would be difficult to develop in a non-commercial darkroom!) Here it is, and get ready to be awed at the remarkable detail when double-clicked:
The negative measures 7 3/4″ x 9 3/4″, and as of this writing the higher of the two bidders is at $3. (However, seven people are tracking this item.) Bidding concludes at 11 p.m. (Eastern) Sunday. To those interested, go to http://movieposters.ha.com/common/view_item.php?Sale_No=161111&Lot_No=51058.
Oh, and someone should tell Carole to stop smoking. Doesn’t she know it will stunt her growth?
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Posted by vp19 on 2011.03.11 at 03:07
Current mood: envious
Prepare to be overwhelmed.
“White Woman,” arguably the most outrageous film of Carole Lombard’s career, has its share of fascinating artifacts. Among them is a poster that we’ve shown in the past (albeit not in a long time), but chances are you’ve never seen it like this before. That’s because this full-bleed one-sheet, measuring 26 1/4″ x 39 3/4″ (yes, slightly more than one meter long!), is being auctioned by Heritage Auction Galleries this month.
On its website, Heritage offers an option to “view larger size,” and in this case, large means large -- if it’s not full-size, it’s awfully close to it. So here’s the poster; double-click to view it in all its gargantuan glory:
If you’re a bit hesitant to work with something of that size, I’ve isolated Carole’s head being gazed at from below by co-star Kent Taylor, but at the same scale as the entire poster, a less problematic double-click:
While not the biggest poster from one of Carole’s movies (that honor probably goes to an 80-inch one-sheet from “Love Before Breakfast” that showed a full-length Lombard at slightly larger than life-size), it’s nonetheless impressive. As Heritage puts it:
“On this rare and dramatic one sheet, Lombard’s classic blonde beauty is rendered to perfection along with co-stars Laughton and Kent Taylor. This is the first time we have ever seen this full-bleed one sheet and the only one we are aware of; a sensational item for eager collectors. It had only a pinhole in each corner, which have been professionally restored. Very Fine on Linen.”
Unfortunately (and, as you might guess), you’ll need to have a giant bank account in order to acquire this rarity. The current high bid is $7,500, and the minimum next bid is $8,000 — and in some auction circles, that might be considered a bargain, because Heritage appraises its value as between $15,000 and $25,000.
If you have that kind of dough lying around, be aware that absentee bidding ends at 11 p.m. (Eastern) March 24, with a live auction the next day. Want to bid, or at least online window shop? Go to http://movieposters.ha.com/common/view_item.php?Sale_No=7035&Lot_No=83277.
Posted by vp19 on 2011.03.10 at 01:40
Current mood: accomplished
Gregory La Cava (shown with Carole Lombard, Alice Brady, Mischa Auer and William Powell) is understandably best remembered today for “My Man Godfrey,” as well as the fine ensemble drama “Stage Door” and the Depression-era political fantasy “Gabriel Over The White House.” But La Cava directed more than 20 sound films and about a dozen silent features. (His film career dated back to the teens, when he directed animated versions of Hearst comic strips.)
Today marks the 119th anniversary of his birth, and to celebrate, Turner Classic Movies in the U.S. is airing nine lesser-known La Cava films during the day. Six of them are comedies, where his semi-improvisational style was put to best use. (La Cava reportedly once said that a script exists only to be ignored.) He worked with a wide range of actors, invariably eliciting good performances — eight received Academy Award nominations, including all four above for “Godfrey.”
Here’s the schedule (all times Eastern):
* 6:45 a.m. – “Laugh And Get Rich” (1931) Hugh Herbert and Edna May Oliver, two solid characters, play husband and wife; he perpetually comes up with get-rich-quick schemes that never work. Dorothy Lee, best known for her work in Wheeler & Woolsey films, plays the couple’s daughter.
* 8 a.m. – “Smart Woman” (1931) Mary Astor stars in this adaptation of the Broadway play “Nancy’s Private Affair,” as a woman who discovers her husband (Robert Ames) is two-timing her…so she gives him a dose of his own medicine. John Halliday and Edward Everett Horton co-star.
* 9:15 a.m. – “The Age Of Consent” (1932) This campus romance, with an air of frank sexuality, stars Dorothy Wilson in her film debut; a Hollywood secretary, she was taking dictation from La Cava when he decided to give her a screen test and gave her this role. Richard Cromwell, whom more than one reviewer at the Internet Movie Database called a dead ringer for Leonardo DiCaprio, is the boyfriend.
* 10:30 a.m. – “Symphony Of Six Million” (1932) Ricardo Cortez, so often cast as an oily pre-Code heel (http://community.livejournal.com/carole_and_co/162206.html), gets a good-guy role in this drama as an earnest Jewish doctor who strives for Park Avenue riches but can’t escape his Lower East Side past. Irene Dunne, of all people, plays his Jewish love interest.
* 12:15 p.m. – “Bed Of Roses” (1933) Constance Bennett and wisecracking Pert Kelton play former Mississippi River prostitutes faced with starting a new life after being released from prison, and Connie falls for riverboat skipper Joel McCrea. A smart blend of pre-Code comedy and drama.
* 1:30 p.m. – “The Half Naked Truth” (1933) La Cava co-wrote the screenplay of this lively romp, starring Lee Tracy as a carnival pitchman, Lupe Velez as the sexy dancer whom he turns into a star and Frank Morgan as an ersatz Florenz Ziegfeld. (TCM will again air this film on June 1, the anniversary of Morgan’s birth.) Eugene Pallette, who would work with La Cava in “Godfrey,” has an intriguing supporting turn.
* 3 p.m. – “What Every Woman Knows” (1934) — Helen Hayes stars in this adaptation of James M. Barrie’s comedy about romance and intrigue in Scotland; the cast also includes Brian Aherne, Madge Evans and Lucile Watson.
* 4:30 p.m. – “She Married Her Boss” (1935) That more or less explains the story, “she” being Claudette Colbert, “her boss” being Melvyn Douglas. Colbert, who La Cava had directed earlier that year in the drama “Private Worlds,” is capable as always, but the script has dated badly. Edith Fellows, a talented child star, plays the boss’ spoiled daughter, and Jean Dixon plays Colbert’s older sister(!). An adequate comedy, but little more.
* 6 p.m. – “Living In A Big Way” (1947) Gene Kelly stars as a postwar GI who finally gets to know his war bride (Marie “The Body” McDonald). Kelly is engaging as always, but this shouldn’t be rated among his triumphs. This was La Cava’s last directorial credit, although he did some uncredited work on the 1948 Ava Gardner film “One Touch Of Venus”; he died in 1952, nine days short of his 60th birthday.
A nice batch of films, but there’s one more I wish TCM would air someday — the movie La Cava made with Lombard seven years before “Godfrey,” the rarely seen Pathe newspaper saga “Big News.” with Robert Armstrong:
Posted by vp19 on 2011.03.09 at 01:47
Current mood: nostalgic
That photo, from the Jan. 25, 1939 Minneapolis Tribune, shows Carole Lombard with Clark Gable at the premiere of his new film, “Idiot’s Delight.” And to the delight of both Clark and Carole, Gable’s wife, Ria Langham, had just moved to Las Vegas in order to establish a six-week residency to qualify for a divorce. (It was a procedure Lombard knew well, because she spent six weeks in Reno in the summer of 1933 in order to divorce William Powell.)
The morning of March 8, the Tribune reported, to use a later term, that all systems were go:
Incidentally, I had never heard the term “Gretna Greens” before; a Google search showed it refers to a place where people go to get married. The original Gretna Green is in Scotland, just over the border from England, and Scotland’s relatively lax marriage rules (no residency requirements, both members of the couple must be at least age 16) meant it was a popular place to take vows.
Apparently in 1939, both Las Vegas and Yuma, Ariz., were “Gretna Greens” for the western U.S. (Perhaps the East Coast equivalent is Elkton, Md., just across the state line from Delaware, where couples from states along the northeast corridor would get married. I know this because my parents, both Brooklynites, married in Elkton on Dec. 21, 1942.)
In 1939, according to the blog at WorldVitalRecords.com, “California passed a law that required a medical examination before marriage. During one year of the enforcement of this California marriage law, Yuma recorded 17,000 marriages for a town that had only 5,000 residents. Both Yuma and Las Vegas became the place for Hollywood stars and the everyday person to get married.”
So it was understandable why in March 1939, many people in Vegas and Yuma expected the “king” and his screwball queen-to-be would soon pay a visit.
On March 6, columnist Sheilah Graham’s column, which ran in the Tribune, added more conjecture (the Gable-Lombard segment is at the bottom of the first column):
“Clark Gable and Carole Lombard have confirmed the chatter that they will have as quiet a wedding as possible under the circumstances — i.e. with the whole country alert to their plans. They want Gail Patrick and her husband, Bob Cobb, as witnesses, but this will be a last-second decision, depending on last-second circumstances.”
Patrick, who first worked with Carole on “Rumba” and then gained renown as her antagonist sister in “My Man Godfrey,” was a close friend of Lombard’s; her husband, Robert Cobb, owned the Brown Derby restaurants (Clark proposed to Carole at the Vine Street Derby) as well as the Hollywood Stars of the Pacific Coast League.
I don’t think it’s any spoiler to announce that when the vows were finally taken in Kingman, Ariz., roughly 150 miles north of Yuma, Patrick and Cobb were not there. Had they backed out because their whereabouts might have given things away? Were they too busy to accompany Clark and Carole? (I’m not sure if Gail was making a movie at the time, but Robert not only had his restaurants to oversee but construction of the Stars’ new home, Gilmore Field, which would finally open for business in May.) Did Clark and Carole decide to elope without alerting them? I’m really not sure.
Oh, I should also note that in early March of ’39, Lombard was back in the moviehouses, co-starring with James Stewart in “Made For Each Other.” Here’s an ad from the March 2 Tribune:
Two days later, it was reviewed by the Tribune’s John Alden, who raved about Stewart (it would be a sensational year for him), but was somewhat cooler about Carole’s going dramatic. (Double-click each segment to view at enlarged size.):
Incidentally, all the Minneapolis Tribune material is from a thread at the “Your Favorites” Turner Classic Movies message board, as part of the thread called “1939 — Hollywood’s Greatest Year — Day-By-Day — as it happens!” (http://forums.tcm.com/jive/tcm/thread.jspa?threadID=157427&tstart=0&start=0). It’s a wonderful way to immerse yourself in what ’39 was like for a film buff who was living it. (Even the oldest members or readers of “Carole & Co.” were at most probably toddlers or pre-teens in 1939.)
Posted by vp19 on 2011.03.08 at 01:07
Current mood: artistic
As promised, here’s part two of our tribute to George Hurrell, who redefined Hollywood portrait photography through his work, such as this image of Carole Lombard, taken about 1933. Yesterday, we examined the women who were subjects of his; now, we’ll look at how he handled the men he photographed.
Male Hollywood portraits get a fraction of the attention given to those of women, but such images can be crucial in creating, or revamping, an actor’s persona. And the first film star to have photographs taken by Hurrell was late 1920s star Ramon Novarro (both were friends with aviatrix Pancho Barnes); Novarro raved about Hurrell’s work to Norma Shearer, who was seeking a more sophisticated image for sound pictures, and the rest is history.
We’ll start with Hurrell’s photographs of Carole’s husbands. First, a photo he took of Clark Gable in 1932, when Clark — who had risen to stardom the year before as a man whom women found irresistible despite his brutish, rough exterior — was trying to add texture to his persona so as to avoid becoming a one-note character. Images such as this one helped give Gable an image more conducive to long-term success:
Flash forward to 1935, when Lombard’s first husband, the now-divorced William Powell, sat down for a Hurrell session. Powell was already renowned for his dapper, urbane style, and Hurrell retained much of that feel but placed the actor in a far more informal setting, enabling viewers to perceive him in a different way:
For many years, Gable’s primary rival as a rugged yet sophisticated leading man with sex appeal was Gary Cooper. This is how Hurrell captured him in 1937:
Here’s Hurrell photographing the dashing Errol Flynn; I don’t have the precise year for this, but it looks to be from the late ’30s or early ’40s, when Flynn was riding high at Warners:
Another one of the era’s great leading men was Robert Montgomery, who was a Hurrell subject in 1932 — the same year the actor’s daughter Elizabeth was born:
From 1929 to 1932, Hurrell worked exclusively for MGM, and thus worked with actors you wouldn’t normally associate with him. An example is this elegant 1931 photo of comedic genius Buster Keaton, as this session helped him take refuge from both his stormy tenure at Metro and a deteriorating marriage to Natalie Talmadge:
Here’s a Hurrell image taken more than a half-century later of musician David Byrne of Talking Heads fame. You may ask yourself, what was David Byrne doing in a Hurrell portrait? Well, classic photography is “same as it ever was.”
All these show that timeless images aren’t limited to one gender, and prove the magic that took place at Hurrell’s fabled studio on Sunset Boulevard.
Incidentally, I wish to thank everyone who took part in the voting for the silents/1930s division of the “All Good Things” March Madness tournament. Although Carole Lombard was defeated by Irene Dunne in the finals by a tally of 58-43, it was fun while it lasted.
The competition continues, now in the 1940s division. There are eight first-round matches involving many of that decade’s top actresses:
#1 Bette Davis vs. #16 Esther Williams
#8 Rita Hayworth vs. #9 Hedy Lamarr
#4 Vivien Leigh vs. #13 Ann Sheridan
#5 Lauren Bacall vs. #12 Jane Wyman
#2 Katharine Hepburn vs. #15 Betty Grable
#7 Gene Tierney vs. #10 Greer Garson
#3 Ingrid Bergman vs. #14 Jeanne Crain
#6 Olivia de Havilland vs. #11 Lana Turner
To vote, go to http://poohtiger-allgoodthings.blogspot.com/ and cast your ballot before 10 p.m. (Eastern).
Posted by vp19 on 2011.03.07 at 14:38
Current mood: mellow
It’s arguably the most famous still photo ever taken of Carole Lombard, the one she signed, “Pa, I love you. Ma” to Clark Gable, who cherished it for the rest of his life. It was taken by George Hurrell, the man who revolutionized the art of Hollywood portrait photography through his approach to lighting and background.
That’s Hurrell in 1980, promoting an exhibit of his work in Palm Springs.
I’ve been thinking a lot about Hurrell lately, perhaps because two of his most famous subjects have been in the news lately with last Thursday’s centenary of Jean Harlow’s birth and the passing last week of Jane Russell. Hurrell probably captured Harlow’s ethereal beauty better than anyone else through a number of iconic portraits, and he also established Russell’s “mean…moody…magnificent” persona through the publicity photos he did for the Howard Hughes film “The Outlaw” — and because of censorship problems, most people became aware of Russell through those photos rather than the long-delayed movie.
So I thought it proper to honor Hurrell — who photographed film greats from the end of the 1920s to the start of the 1990s — with a gallery of his portraits, today the ladies, tomorrow the gentlemen. The idea came through a glance at this then-unidentified photo on the Web the other day:
“That couldn’t be her...could it?” I thought to myself, and a further investigation revealed that it was. “Her,” in this case, being Farrah Fawcett, who apparently had a session with Hurrell in 1979, resulting in this portrait, the subtly sophisticated antithesis of her famous swimsuit poster — 1970s glamour given a ’30s touch. (Not long before Hurrell’s death, Sharon Stone, narrator of a documentary about his work, was a portrait subject.)
Here are some more Hurrell portraits of actresses, these from the classic era. Since we initially noted Harlow and Russell, we’ll start with a relatively obscure shot of Jean from 1934, followed by one from Jane in 1941 and an image of Russell working with Burrell at a 1942 photo session:
Here’s Joan Crawford from “Grand Hotel.” followed by a 1933 portrait, before and after retouching — a perfect example of the photographer’s art:
In 1930, Hurrell had a session with Greta Garbo, a creature of habit if there ever was one. Their personalities didn’t quite mesh, and Garbo thereafter returned to her favorite portrait photographer (and a good one), Clarence Sinclair Bull, but here are two samples of what Hurrell ended up with that day:
Now for four more Hollywood legends photographed by Hurrell — Marion Davies (from 1931), Marlene Dietrich (from 1938), Myrna Loy (not sure of the date, but it looks to be around 1933 or ’34, when she was making the transition from vamp-ersatz Asian to the “perfect wife”) and Gene Tierney (from 1944):
Finally, a few actresses you wouldn’t associate with Hurrell for one reason or another — such as Veronica Lake from 1941, sans peek-a-boo ‘do:
’30s actress and later radical Karen Morley (up to her death in 2003, she was a regular contributor to WBAI and other Pacifica radio stations) got the Hurrell treatment:
In 1935, two years after making what would be her final film, silent-era legend Mary Pickford was a Hurrell subject:
And here’s brassy Ann Sothern getting her brassiness toned down, Hurrell-style, in 1940:
There are so many legendary actresses whose beauty was further enhanced by Hurrell, from Norma Shearer — whose career was revolutionized by his portraits and who helped put George on the map — to Rita Hayworth. To learn more about this master of shadow and light, go to http://www.hurrellphotos.com/hurrell_home.asp?ID=2 and http://www.hurrellphotography.com/.
We’ll leave you with one more Hurrell image of Lombard, this from 1937:
Oh, and if you haven’t voted in the “All Good Things” poll between Lombard and Irene Dunne in the finals of the silents/1930s tournament, do so at http://poohtiger-allgoodthings.blogspot.com/ before the 10 p.m. (Eastern) deadline. Carole has narrowed the margin to 43-34, and can still pull it out with a late surge.
Posted by vp19 on 2011.03.07 at 01:08
Current mood: determined
That second go-round for Carole Lombard in the finals of the silents/1930s division of the “All Good Things” actresses tournament (http://poohtiger-allgoodthings.blogspot.com/) currently isn’t going so well for her. As of 1 a.m. (Eastern),fourth-seeded Carole trails 10th seed Irene Dunne 29-16, and voting concludes at 10 p.m.
So, it’s rally time. If you haven’t done so already, go to the site above and vote. If you have done so, tell your friends to vote for Lombard. We want to win this, yes, but fairly.
This week’s header is an edited version of one of the more than 2,000 screencaps of “No Man Of Her Own” that we noted yesterday.
Posted by vp19 on 2011.03.06 at 01:48
Current mood: hot
There’s plenty to smile about at “Carole & Co.” This marks our 1,500th entry since this community began on June 13, 2007 — that’s roughly about 1 1/4 entries per day. A further check of the user info showed that we currently have 296 members, an all-time high. (Tell your friends who love classic Hollywood about this site, and we can surpass 300 sometime during March!)
To celebrate, here’s something I just uncovered — and it concerns one of Carole Lombard’s most popular films. The movie is “No Man Of Her Own,” where Lombard shows off her skills (and lots of other stuff) as she portrays small-town librarian Connie Randall, who makes a big change in her life. (And there’s this leading man brought in from MGM named, uh…oh yes, Gable.)
So what’s this all about? Screencaps. Lots and lots and lots of screencaps — more than 2,000 in all.
This gargantuan undertaking is the handiwork of someone at LiveJournal who goes by the title “Peppermint Fox.” Apparently, this fox likes to go on the hunt for screencaps, because past entries include screencap collections for the likes of the original Barbara Stanwyck “Christmas In Connecticut” and more recent fare, including “The Wedding Singer” and “Salt.”
The “No Man Of Her Own” screencaps can be found at http://peppermint-fox.livejournal.com/5594.html. They are divided into three segments, totaling about 150 MB. So, what’s it like? Well, here’s a sample:
That’s screencap 0359, the first one featuring Lombard — and double-clicked, you’ll find that it, and all the other screencaps, measure an impressive 1067 x 800. (The first part of the film establishes Clark Gable and his character.) What’s the first one with Gable and Lombard together? It’s screencap 0439, as Gable, who’s just hightailed to the upstate New York town of Glendale, is at a newsstand when librarian Lombard comes by:
Clark’s character likes what he sees, and not much later, in screencap 0456, he drops by the library to check out not books, but Carole:
Lombard has to climb a ladder to visit the shelves in screencap 0528, but at 0531, we find Gable is more interested in her stockinged ankle:
Screencap 0615 gives one an idea of what the Paramount people went through to construct a set that so resembles a small-town library circa 1932:
But you want to see Lombard, not a library, and so you shall. In fact, here’s Carole in a cabin in screencap 0805, as she prepares to call it a night:
Okay, gang, here’s the pre-Code payoff — lots of Lombard in little lingerie. specifically in screencaps 0815, 0819 and 0821, the last being full-frontal lingerie Lombard. (A reminder, especially to those of the male gender: do not salivate over your keyboard.)
We have other screencaps from the film, but honestly, what can follow that?
So enjoy the “No Man Of Her Own” screencaps as sort of my gift to you.
Posted by vp19 on 2011.03.06 at 02:40
Current mood: bouncy
There was lots of Carole Lombard news to report in entry #1,500, but I decided to hold this one because it deserved its own entry. Carole is in the finals of the “All Good Things” March Madness tournament for silents/1930s actresses. Lombard, the fourth seed, posted a 59-41 conquest of ninth-seeded Myrna Loy (famed for being named “queen of Hollywood” in a 1936 fan poll) in one of the semifinals.
Carole’s foe in the finals won’t be easy — she’s 10th seed Irene Dunne, who’s won her three matches by large margins, most recently a 64-36 victory over sixth-seeded Claudette Colbert. Note that vote total is 100, same as the Lombard-Loy battle. That may indicate the voting booth can only take so many ballots.
What’s that mean? Time is probably of the essence. Voting will begin at about 8 a.m. (Eastern) today, and while it’s slated to end at 6 p.m. Monday, there’s an awfully good chance that it will reach 100 votes well before then. In other words, don’t delay. As soon as you can, go to http://poohtiger-allgoodthings.blogspot.com/ and cast your vote for Carole. The winner will advance to face the winner of the other tourneys for 1940s, 1950s and 1960s actresses.
And if you need a reminder why to vote for Lombard, well, here’s another lingerie screencap from “No Man Of Her Own” (specifically screencap 0830), as Carole exhibits her schoolgirl track star form — in high heels, no less. Let’s see Irene try that.
Posted by vp19 on 2011.03.06 at 17:33
Current mood: frustrated
If you voted this weekend between Carole Lombard and Irene Dunne in the finals of the “All Good Things” silents/1930s actresses tournament, you’ll have to go back to the site (http://poohtiger-allgoodthings.blogspot.com/) and do it again. Some apparent chicanery at the polls forced a re-vote.
According to site administrator Monty Hawes, this time the site is using a Blogger poll, not one from Zoomerang — and I believe this one can accept more than 100 total votes. Following the balloting was weird, since the original election had more runs than a pair of 99-cent pantyhose. Lombard jumped to a 10-1 lead…then Dunne went ahead 28-12…then Lombard pulled to a 66-34 edge when the Zoomerang voting reached its limit. Frank “I am the law” Hague of Jersey City machine infamy would be proud of that, but no true fan of Carole or Irene would be.
So return to “All Good Things” and cast your vote — but please, do it once. And just to give you a reason to vote, look above to another Lombard lingerie screencap (0812) from “No Man Of Her Own.”
Posted by vp19 on 2011.03.05 at 02:22
Current mood: impressed
For the third time this week, “Carole & Co.” is pleased to offer an entry on Carole Lombard’s good friend and fellow legend Jean Harlow, whose centenary was Thursday. It’s been a great week for “the Baby,” as she’s received all sorts of salutes in newspapers (for example, Susan King’s fine tribute in Friday’s Los Angeles Times, http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/news/la-et-jean-harlow-20110304,0,6813494.story) and, of course, the blogosphere, most notably the Kitty Packard Pictorial (http://kittypackard.wordpress.com/), where at last count 34 different blogs have done Harlow-related entries.
This entry will look ahead and show how you can brush up on your Jean screen expertise. First, this Sunday, the Egyptian Theater on Hollywood Boulevard — where I’m certain several of Harlow’s movies played during her lifetime — will honor the centennial of her birth. At 2 p.m., Harlow historian Darrell Rooney will present a slide show that will, I’m sure, have many rare images of the beloved star. At 3, Rooney and co-author Mark A. Vieira will sign copies of their new book, “Harlow in Hollywood: The Blonde Bombshell in the Glamour Capital, 1928-1937.”
Once that’s done, it’s back inside the theater for a movie, one of Jean’s best — the delightful 1933 satire “Bombshell”:
For more on the event, visit http://www.americancinemathequecalendar.com/content/jean-harlow-centenary.
Can’t make it out to Hollywood for Sunday’s fun? Never fear — if you’re in the U.S., you can still see plenty of Harlow this month thanks to the good folks at Turner Classic Movies. Jean is the channel’s star of the month for March, and most of her notable films are being shown (“Hell’s Angels” being the principal exception) over four consecutive Tuesday nights. Here’s the schedule (all times Eastern):
8 p.m. – “Red-Headed Woman” (1932)
9:30 p.m. – “Three Wise Girls” (1932)
10:45 p.m. – “Riffraff” (1936)
12:30 a.m. – “Suzy” (1936)
2:15 a.m. – “City Lights” (1931)*
*What’s this Charlie Chaplin classic doing here? Harlow appears in this film as an extra, in a scene filmed before she reached stardom.
8 p.m. – “The Public Enemy” (1931)
9:30 p.m. – “Bombshell” (1933)
11:15 p.m. – “Libeled Lady” (1936)
1 a.m. – “Reckless” (1935)
2:45 a.m. – “Personal Property” (1937)
“Bombshell” will also run at 6:15 a.m. March 20.
8 p.m. – “Wife vs. Secretary” (1936)
9:45 p.m. – “Red Dust” (1932)
11:15 p.m. – “Hold Your Man” (1933)
1 a.m. – “China Seas” (1935)
2:30 a.m. – “The Secret Six” (1931)
4 a.m. – “Saratoga” (1937)
Harlow’s half-dozen (or should that be 5 1/2?) films with Clark Gable
8 p.m. – “Dinner at Eight” (1933)
10 p.m. – “The Girl From Missouri” (1934)
11:30 p.m. – “Platinum Blonde” (1931)
1:15 a.m. – “The Beast Of The City” (1932)
It’s unfortunate some of her rarely seen pre-MGM films weren’t available — heck, “The Saturday Night Kid” would have made more sense than showing “City Lights” — but otherwise, it’s a good schedule. (Attention to TCM: If you can, show the separate footage of “Hold Your Man” that features both a black and a white minister; the latter was used in a version for southern U.S. markets. During the 2006 SUTS Lombard salute, you showed the ending of “Vigil In The Night” made expressly for European markets, and there’s no reason you can’t do likewise here.)
Finally, some rare Harlow pics, from the superb Jean Harlow Yahoo! site (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/jeanharlow/), which is now 13 years old and full of avid fans and information on the first of the blonde bombshells. We’ll start out with a promotional still for “Bombshell”; double-clicked, this has been enlarged to such a gigantic size that if you were sitting face-to-face with a Jean who was this scale, when she stood up, she’d likely bump her head against the ceiling:
We’ve been “reflecting” on Harlow this week; now it’s her turn to do so:
This charming photo shows Jean, whose legs were as splendid as the rest of her figure, filling a pair of silk stockings nicely:
Finally, a pair of MGM legends, both of whom left us far too soon — Jean Harlow and Irving Thalberg:
Posted by vp19 on 2011.03.05 at 02:51
Current mood: tired
Carole Lombard needs your help, and she needs it now.
It’s the semifinals of the March Madness competition for actresses of the silents and 1930s at the blog “All Good Things,” and Lombard, the fourth seed, is in a tough battle with ninth-seeded Myrna Loy. Myrna, who routed both Jean Harlow and top seed Greta Garbo in earlier rounds, took an early lead before Carole went ahead, leading 39-28 at one point before Loy whittled the margin to a too-close-for-comfort 44-40. Lombard has since added more votes and currently has a bit of breathing room at 59-41, but it’s no time for Carole’s fans to be complacent, especially against a worthy rival like Myrna. If you haven’t yet voted in this round, do so immediately, as Saturday marks the closing day for the semis. Go to http://poohtiger-allgoodthings.blogspot.com/ and cast your ballot; the deadline is 8 p.m. (ET).
In the other semifinal, 10th seed Irene Dunne, who’s shown more staying power than expected, has a similar lead on sixth-seeded Claudette Colbert, but it’s only 46-30 (which means Lombard-Loy is drawing substantially more interest).
Posted by vp19 on 2011.03.04 at 00:41
Current mood: optimistic
To call it a rout would be an understatement. In the second round of the silents/1930s actress tournament at the “All Good Things” blog, fourth-seeded Carole Lombard — already up 54-8 after one day — cruised to a 71-9 victory over fifth-seeded Marlene Dietrich. That means Carole moves on to the semifinals against arguably her most formidable foe to date.
We’re referring to Myrna Loy, the ninth seed, who defeated an MGM stablemate for the second straight time. After a surprisingly easy first-round win over Jean Harlow, Loy posted a 60-13 upset over top-seeded Greta Garbo. The other semifinal features 10th-seeded Irene Dunne (who had no trouble in upsetting second seed Barbara Stanwyck, 59-38) against sixth seed Claudette Colbert (a 50-24 conqueror of third-seeded Norma Shearer).
If this were boxing — a sport Lombard loved to watch — the Lombard-Loy match would be a contrast in styles. Lombard, with her raucous, manic physical humor, could be the female comedic equivalent of Jack Dempsey. In contrast, the cool, more subtle Loy could be viewed as a Gene Tunney type. (If you’re confused by the analogies, in the 1920s Dempsey was a no-holds-barred knockout artist; Tunney was considered a “scientific” boxer, a fighter with finesse rather than a heavy puncher.)
Dempsey and Tunney fought twice, with Gene wresting the heavyweight title from Jack in Philadelphia in 1926 and retaining his crown the following year in Chicago in the controversial “long count” fight. But that’s ancient history, and perhaps Carole (who took boxing lessons in her youth from lightweight champion Benny Leonard) can win one for the brawlers. (Hey, remember “Nothing Sacred”?) And you can help.
You should know the drill by now: matches last two days, and you cast your vote by going to http://poohtiger-allgoodthings.blogspot.com/. Polls are expected to open at 6 a.m. (Eastern).
Oh, and while I’ve long expressed my admiration for Loy — a talented actress and a fine person — make no mistake whom I’m backing in this round. After all, this community isn’t known as “Myrna & Co.”
While we’re at it, a reminder to go to the Kitty Packard Pictorial (http://kittypackard.wordpress.com/) for the continuation of the Jean Harlow Blogathon. To date, more than 30 sites have been “blogging for Baby,” and the range of entries has been something to behold. One of them is from the splendidly nostalgic “Thrilling Days Of Yesteryear,” which examines Harlow’s work with Laurel & Hardy — including the 1929 two-reeler “Double Whoopee,” where a mishap involving bellhops Stan and Ollie, a taxi door and a dress caught when it closed enables us to see much more of Harlow’s character than she intended. (Not that viewers minded.)
Posted by vp19 on 2011.03.04 at 02:10
Current mood: sympathetic
Carole Lombard and Clark Gable probably didn’t see much sun (lower case) during their stay at Johns Hopkins Hospital in wintry Baltimore, as 1940 turned into 1941. However, they probably saw a lot of the Sun (upper case).
As in the famed Baltimore Sun, once the home of sage H.L. Mencken and coverage of Washington (government) news that often outdid D.C. rivals. (Actually, there was a morning Sun and the now-defunct Evening Sun, two different entities; they were often referred to as the “Sunpapers.”)
The newspapers, locally owned for decades, were eventually sold to Times-Mirror (owners of the Los Angeles Times, among other dailies), a firm which in turn was sold to the Tribune Corporation. And just as the company recently sold vintage photos from the Chicago Tribune, now it is doing likewise with the Sunpapers’ photographic archive. (Will the Times, a likely treasure trove of classic Hollywood-related images, be next to auction off items? We’ll have to wait and see.)
The photo above, minus the crop marks, is from Dec. 31, 1940, showing the couple’s arrival at Hopkins. Here’s what the back looks like, including a watermark with the Sun logo:
The Dec. 31, 1940 stamp is visible, and this picture was also used in June 1980 for an “I remember” story. Underneath those dates, you can faintly make out a “Jan 17, 1942,” so this photo was probably used to accompany the story on the plane crash.
While that is the only locally-generated Lombard photo being auctioned, there are several more photos of interest from Sun archives. Take this one of Carole with William Powell from Sept. 26, 1933, barely five weeks after their divorce had been granted:
Here’s the photo as it actually exists (minus the watermark, of course), from front and back, with (most of) the snipe:
Back to Lombard with Gable — a photo, taken just after their marriage, which apparently arrived at the Sun on April 4, 1939:
There are six photos in all, each with a starting bid of $24.99 — and as of this writing, none of them have been bid on. Bidding is slated to close between 7:32 and 11:38 p.m. (Eastern) Sunday night. (Thanks to Tally for her work on these images.)
Want to get in on the action, or simply learn more? Go to http://stores.ebay.com/TribunePhotos/_i.html?_nkw=Carole+Lombard&LH_SellerWithStore=1&LH_TitleDesc=1&_armrs=1&_from=&_ipg=&_sasi=1&_sop=1.
Posted by vp19 on 2011.03.03 at 00:56
Current mood: happy
Today marks a very special day for all classic Hollywood fans, and I know that somewhere, Carole Lombard is delighted to honor the centenary of not only a friend, but someone she genuinely liked, respected and admired. We are, of course, referring to Jean Harlow (who replaces Carole in the avatar for this entry), arguably the top sex symbol of the 1930s, even if she sadly didn’t complete the decade. This marks my second contribution this week to the Jean Harlow Blogathon at the Kitty Packard Pictorial (http://kittypackard.wordpress.com/):
For someone who only lived slightly more than 26¼ years, Harlow accomplished a lot. And what makes it all the more remarkable is that Jean did it without a genuine zeal for the business. It’s entirely possible she might never have pursued a film career had she not followed up on Fox casting director Joe Egli’s suggestion in mid-1928 that she apply with Central Casting. Egli was entranced with the 17-year-old’s beauty; over the next nine years, millions of moviegoers would follow suit.
(Harlow, born Harlean Carpenter, had lived in Los Angeles earlier in the 1920s with her mother, the original Jean Harlow, who unsuccessfully tried to break into films. As was the case with most youths of the 1920s, the daughter loved movies, and was particularly a fan of western star Buck Jones –- so there’s a good chance Harlean saw her future friend Lombard in a few of Jones’ Fox westerns of 1925.)
It’s no secret that MGM stablemate Joan Crawford was one of the few people in the industry who didn’t like Jean. Perhaps Crawford, for whom stardom was the be-all and end-all, couldn’t understand Harlow, who certainly worked hard at her craft (critics, who derided Jean in the early 1930s, came around to her side by 1932 or ’33) but never let it consume her the way it did Joan -– had Harlow never achieved stardom, one could imagine her writing or doing something completely unrelated to film. (Lombard was sort of in between ‘20s pal Crawford and ‘30s buddy Harlow; while she certainly was driven to become a star actress, she enjoyed the movie business as a whole and became expert at many facets of it -– lighting, cinematography, publicity, etc. Had Carole lived longer, perhaps she would have become a producer once her acting career wound down.)
Yes, Jean’s sex appeal was considerable, although some elements of her style might not resonate with audiences three-quarters of a century after her fame. But those who worked on film crews met all sorts of sexy, attractive people. What made Harlow so popular, so beloved, in the film community was her genuine niceness and lack of pretense. As was the case with Lombard, people on the low end of the totem pole felt a kinship with her, a quality that transcended glamour. And unlike Marilyn Monroe, the de facto successor to Harlow a quarter-century later, Jean was ever the professional on the set (although, to be fair, Monroe had a far rougher upbringing and less education than the relatively well-off Harlow).
Today isn’t just Jean’s centennial birthday -– it also marks the opening of a special Harlow exhibit through Sept. 5 at the Hollywood Museum (located at the old Max Factor building where Jean dedicated the “blonde room” in 1935).
All sorts of Harlow memorabilia will be on display, including the famous 1932 mural Paul Bern commissioned depicting Jean and several other MGM stars as Elizabethan types. This will mark the first time it’s ever been on public view. Below is an image of the mural as it hung in the Harlow-Bern house.
And next Wednesday, Darrell Rooney and Mark A. Vieira, authors of the eagerly awaited “Harlow In Hollywood,” will hold a grand opening book signing from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m.
All this is a wonderful way to honor the memory of one of filmdom’s icons, a talented actress and a likable person who has been called “the most real of the sex symbols.” And deservedly so.
To close, some candid shots of “the Baby”:
Posted by vp19 on 2011.03.03 at 01:40
Current mood: hopeful
Is Carole Lombard waving “bye-bye” to Marlene Dietrich? It could very well be. After one day of the two-day second-round March Madness competition for actresses from the silent era and 1930s at the “All Good Things” blog, fourth-seeded Lombard has a commanding 54-8 lead over her fifth-seeded Paramount stablemate. However, that’s not the most lopsided battle as of this writing. While Carole has 87 percent of the vote so far, ninth-seeded Myrna Loy has 89 percent (51-6) as she appears on her way to a rout of top seed and MGM cohort Greta Garbo. Americans 2, foreigners 0?
The other two matches are somewhat more competitive. Fifth-seeded Claudette Colbert has a 39-18 edge on third seed Norma Shearer, while tenth seed Irene Dunne is surprising second-seeded Barbara Stanwyck, 51-29 (it’s interesting to see that battle’s drawing far more votes than the other three). As things stand, Friday’s semifinals will pit Lombard versus Loy (my two all-time favorite actresses) and Dunne versus Colbert.
But nothing’s in the bag just yet, so fans of Carole shouldn’t get overconfident. If you haven’t voted, do so today at http://poohtiger-allgoodthings.blogspot.com/, where the blog is also honoring Lombard as its classic movie goddess of the month. (That in itself is a reason to visit.)
Posted by vp19 on 2011.03.02 at 02:35
Current mood: curious
The big news for Carole Lombard in March 1932 was her latest film, “No One Man,” which after its release in late January was rolling out into medium-sized and smaller cities. Artistically, it was little more than a programmer, but at least it was keeping Carole in the spotlight.
This type of film, one writer noted, was quite similar to what another blonde — one currently more popular than Lombard — was doing at the time. This is from the St. Joseph (Mo.) News Press of March 18:
Hollywood writer Robbin Coons said Lombard was being used as a rags-to-riches Constance Bennett type, “and she is wearing glittering creations which she sets off quite as beautifully as the rival star. But she has a right to be considered on her own merits, and she will, you may be sure.” (Coons also said Bette Davis, then a Bennett-like ash blonde still some years away from becoming queen of the Warners lot, was in a similar situation.)
One wonders whether the writer was aware of the backstory regarding Bennett and Lombard, in that Connie reportedly had Carole and her blonde buddy Diane Ellis thrown off the Pathe roster in late 1929, about the time Bennett signed with the studio.
In March of ’32, Carole was hard at work on her next film, “Sinners In The Sun,” from which Mollie Merrick, whose column ran in the Spokane Spokesman-Review, received fodder for at least two columns. On March 7, she wrote that a mock newspaper was created for a scene:
“They had lots of fun at Paramount the other day getting together a real Sunday newspaper (to be used in “Sinners In The Sun,” which is being made now).
“Under the fictitious title, ‘New York Mercury,’ a lot of ex-newspaper men turned out an unusually interesting paper, which only reached a total of 15 copies. Just enough for the picture.
“A real newspaper could not be used, as the studio would thereby be open to any number of suits from syndicates because of the strict copyright laws in regard to photographing copyrighted material.
“Being an argumentative sort, I asked why they had to make an entire newspaper — why wouldn’t the front sheet be enough?
“But it happens that in the story one of the scenes shows a family grabbing the parts of a Sunday paper. For instance, Chester Morris gets the sports section, Carole Lombard the help wanted section, Adrienne Ames the society, and Alison Skipworth the woman’s page, which necessitated a complete paper.
“So while they were going that far they made it truly realistic and made a funny page featuring the four Marx brothers, Stuart Erwin and Jack Oakie.”
Had this film been made at MGM in 1932, it probably could have used a Hearst paper (in this case, the Sunday New York American), thanks to Hearst’s MGM ties at the time. And, of course, the Marxes, Erwin and Oakie were all Paramount players when this was made.
Two weeks later, in the March 21 paper, she ran this tidbit:
Merrick discovers 1910s stars Florence Turner and Florence Lawrence both in the cast of “Sinners In The Sun.” Alas, she merely acknowledges their presence and doesn’t talk to them — or to the stars they were supporting. (Lombard probably saw their films while growing up in Fort Wayne.) For more on Lawrence and her fascinating, yet ultimately tragic story, go to http://community.livejournal.com/carole_and_co/268617.html.
On March 30, Hearst columnist Louella Parsons reported that Lombard and co-star Chester Morris had lunch on the lot with the Earl and Countess of Strafford and the honorable Robert Bruce of London. According to Parsons, “They were visiting the paramount studios and Carole and Chester did the honors and did them mighty well.” How reassuring to the Anglophiles among us.
To help promote “Sinners In The Sun,” Lombard, Paramount designer Travis Banton and William De Mille selected 11 extras from several hundred candidates to appear in the film. This ran in the Meriden (Conn.) Daily Journal on March 19:
None of the 11 achieved any notable stardom, although Muriel Evans worked on quite a few 1930s westerns, including at least one with John Wayne, and was a frequent leading lady of Charley Chase in his later two-reelers.
Posted by vp19 on 2011.03.02 at 08:50
Current mood: giddy
History has not recorded whether Carole Lombard ever faced friend and fellow actress Ginger Rogers in tennis — both were pretty good at it — but in their latest competition, Carole prevailed in surprisingly convincing fashion.
Leading only 11-10 at one point, a second-day Lombard surge enabled the fourth-seeded star to conquer #13 seed Rogers, 35-18, in the first round of the March Madness challenge of silents and 1930s actresses at the “All Good Things” blog. Other opening-round battles went like this:
#1 Greta Garbo def. #16 Gloria Swanson, 26-22
#9 Myrna Loy def. #8 Jean Harlow, 36-13
#5 Marlene Dietrich def. #12 Mary Pickford, 34-12
#2 Barbara Stanwyck def. #15 Joan Crawford, 42-8
#10 Irene Dunne def. #7 Clara Bow, 28-13
#3 Norma Shearer def. #14 Marion Davies, 29-18
#5 Claudette Colbert def. #12 Louise Brooks, 40-8
Second-round action has just begun, and once again Carole is facing a leggy former studio cohort, this time from Paramount rather than RKO, in the form of Marlene Dietrich. Lombard once more needs your support, so go to http://poohtiger-allgoodthings.blogspot.com/ and vote. You again have two days to do it.
Other second-round battles pit Loy against another MGM rival, this one Greta Garbo; Barbara Stanwyck, fresh off a lopsided win over Joan Crawford, takes on Irene Dunne; and Norma Shearer, who outlasted scrappy Marion Davies, faces Claudette Colbert.
Also, a reminder that the Jean Harlow Blogathon is continuing (remember, tomorrow is Jean’s actual centenary!), and among the contributors is Michelle Morgan, a longtime friend of “Carole & Co.” who’s currently working on a Clark Gable project. Find links to all the contributions at http://kittypackard.wordpress.com/.
Posted by vp19 on 2011.03.01 at 01:40
Current mood: thoughtful
If it’s March, it must mean madness…and so it does, and not just in basketball, either. As noted the other day, the site “All Good Things” is staging a tournament of its own among 64 classic actresses. This week, 16 stars from the silents and 1930s are waging battle, and Lombard, seeded fourth, is facing #13 seed Ginger Rogers in the opening round. As of this writing, Carole maintains a lead by the narrowest of margins, 11-10, after one day of the two-day competition.
You can help Lombard out by going to the site, http://poohtiger-allgoodthings.blogspot.com/. On the right side of the site are the eight opening-round matches, where you can cast your vote — but remember, you must do it today. And if you need a reason why you should vote for Lombard, well, just look at the top of this entry.
Here are the other matches, along with the voting as of this writing:
#1 Greta Garbo leads #16 Gloria Swanson, 12-9
#9 Myrna Loy leads #8 Jean Harlow, 19-3
#5 Marlene Dietrich leads #12 Mary Pickford, 15-5
#2 Barbara Stanwyck leads #15 Joan Crawford, 17-5
#10 Irene Dunne leads #7 Clara Bow, 16-5
#3 Norma Shearer and #14 Marion Davies are tied, 10-10
#6 Claudette Colbert leads #11 Louise Brooks, 16-4
* While I love Loy, I am surprised she has such a commanding lead over her “Libeled Lady” castmate — and in the week of Harlow’s centenary, too.
* Interesting battle between Shearer and Davies. Is William Randolph Hearst waging a campaign from the hereafter to avenge Shearer beating out Davies for “The Barretts Of Wimpole Street,” a decision that led Hearst to transfer Davies (and her giant studio bungalow) from MGM to Warners?
* I have no doubt that if Carole saw the seeding, she would be a bit embarrassed to rank ahead of Pickford and Swanson, two stars she idolized in her youth.
Again, remember that today marks the final day of voting for this round, so please take a second and give Carole your support.
Also, don’t forget to keep up with the continuing Jean Harlow Blogathon at the Kitty Packard Pictorial ((http://kittypackard.wordpress.com/).
I would be remiss not to acknowledge the death of Jane Russell Monday at age 89. For years considered by many as merely a sex symbol, as time goes on her cool style, never taking herself all that seriously, looks better and better. (It also probably explains why she had such wonderful chemistry with Robert Mitchum.)
Last June, I posted an entry on Russell, noting several films Turner Classic Movies in the U.S. was to show on her birthday, June 21 (http://community.livejournal.com/carole_and_co/314886.html); TCM just announced its June schedule, and what would have been a 90th birthday celebration will now be a memorial. (I also expect the channel to run some Russell films this month as a salute to her passing.) The link above features her fine performance of “One For My Baby” from “Macao.”
Thanks for your contributions to classic Hollywood, Jane.
Jean Harlow Blogathon: Harlow, Lombard…let’s switch!
Posted by vp19 on 2011.02.28 at 00:01
Current mood: cheerful
For the centenary of Jean Harlow’s birth (which occurs this Thursday), I tried to find a way to commemorate it -– especially since this will be part of a Harlow blogathon at “The Kitty Packard Pictorial,” a superb site on Harlow, classic Hollywood and popular culture (http://kittypackard.wordpress.com/).
At last count, 19 blogs are contributing Harlow-related material (or, as it’s being called, “Blogging For Baby”). The blogathon is also designed to promote the fine new book that we’ve mentioned several times here before, “Harlow in Hollywood: The Blonde Bombshell in the Glamour Capital,” by Darrell Rooney and Mark Vieira (http://www.angelcitypress.com/harl.html).
An entry linking Carole Lombard and Harlow isn’t easy. Although they were good friends and were beloved by casts and crews throughout filmland, no picture of them together has ever been discovered –- a holy grail among both fandoms. Carole’s first husband, William Powell, later had an intense, but ill-fated, romance with Harlow, and Lombard’s second husband, Clark Gable, was renowned for his steamy romantic films with Jean (although in real life, they were good friends, never lovers).
So, what’s a writer to do? Use imagination, that’s what. I’m going to create an alternate universe where Lombard stars in Harlow’s movies, and vice versa. How might these silver screen goddesses have fared in each other’s films?
Some ground rules:
* Our ”altered” period begins in 1930 (when both settled into the business) and ends in early 1937 (before Harlow died).
* We’re generally focusing on Jean and Carole’s acting work; their romances will be mentioned solely in passing.
So imagine you’re poring through one of the big Sunday newspapers on Feb. 28, 1937, with the Oscars a few days away, and you see this story in the entertainment section:
February 28, 1937
Blonde Beauty Buddies Cheer Each Other On
Jean, Carole Ascend In Film Firmament
HOLLYWOOD -– Do Jean Harlow and Carole Lombard have a mutual admiration society?
“You might say so,” Miss Lombard replied with a laugh as fellow blonde Miss Harlow nodded with approval. “Jean is such a sweet and charming lady.”
“The same can be said for Carole,” Jean said over lunch at the Brown Derby as customers passed by their booth and politely gave their regards to both.
Miss Harlow is now linked with William Powell, Carole’s ex-husband, and she doesn’t mind their romance a bit. “The two make a marvelous couple, and would make an even better husband and wife,” said Miss Lombard, now frequently seen in public with one of her regular M-G-M co-stars, Clark Gable.
Both actresses –- considered among the most luminous ladies in filmland — are riding high in popularity. Miss Lombard, who’s been one of Metro’s most valuable properties for five years now, will soon star opposite Robert Taylor in the comedy “Personal Property.” Meanwhile, Paramount has high hopes for “Swing High, Swing Low,” which will come out in about a month, co-starring Miss Harlow and Fred MacMurray in a musical where Jean actually sings a bit.
“Just a bit,” Jean said in self-deprecation.
“Don’t worry, hon, I’m not much of a golden throat either,” Carole added, laughing. “I guess she and I are the anti-Boswell Sisters.”
Both are looking forward to this week’s Academy Awards. Each have received nominations, Jean for best actress in “My Man Godfrey,” Carole for best supporting actress for her role as a bride perennially left at the altar in “Libeled Lady.”
“It’s good we’re not in the same category, though if we were we’d be ladylike about it,” Jean said, smiling.
Carole nodded approvingly. “You want to see us competitive? Come to the tennis court, where Baby rarely takes a set from me.”
“But on the golf course, it’s a horse of a different color,” Miss Harlow responded, referring to her mastery on the links.
The two blondes became friends in late 1931, when both were being considered for parts as gold-diggers in Samuel Goldwyn’s saucy comedy, “The Greeks Had A Word For Them.” Neither was cast, but it didn’t stop either’s progress in Hollywood.
Carole, about a year and a half older than Jean, reached stardom first, as Howard Hughes cast her as love interest Helen in his 1930 air epic “Hell’s Angels.” She admitted the role was “ridiculous -– and so was the dialogue,” but it catapulted her into the limelight after working with Mack Sennett in two-reel comedies.
She had her ups and downs for a little over a year, making a few programmers along with supporting roles in hits such as “The Public Enemy” (“What actress wouldn’t want to work with James Cagney?” Miss Lombard said) and “Platinum Blonde.” In the latter, she dyed her hair to that color to play the title heiress, “and some in the industry thought I was copying Jean.” Carole then sighed, saying she still wistfully remembered Robert Williams, who died not long after its release.
At the time, Miss Harlow was a relatively obscure player at Paramount, which had signed her to a contract at the suggestion of Clara Bow after Jean had a small role in “The Saturday Night Kid.”
“Clara did a lot to encourage my career,” Miss Harlow said. “I’m sad that she’s no longer in the business, but I’m happy for her in that she seems happier the few times I see her.”
However, Miss Harlow’s rise was slow and steady. With Paramount’s stable of starlets, she gained experience on lower-tier features, such as Buddy Rogers’ “Safety In Numbers” in 1930 and the Gary Cooper vehicle “I Take This Woman” the following year. “Coop was great to work with, and I had a ball riding a horse!” Jean said of that film; they worked again three years later in “Now And Forever,” with everyone’s favorite moppet, Shirley Temple.
“Shirley deserves her fame and praise,” Jean said. “For her youth, she has remarkable composure and poise on the set.”
The year 1932 was a good year for both blondes’ careers. Carole was signed by M-G-M after a good supporting turn in “The Beast Of The City,” getting her breakthrough role in “Red-Headed Woman,” where the normally blonde Miss Lombard won wows for not only her new hair shade, but her mastery of comedy.
“People only viewed me through the prism of sex -– I said prism, not prison, though it might as well have been,” Miss Lombard said, eliciting a laugh from Miss Harlow. “Okay, so I have sex appeal. Big deal. Making people laugh –- now that’s an achievement!”
“That’s true,” Jean added. “People who don’t know us think we’re obsessed with glamour, but that really isn’t the case. Yes, we’re very dedicated to our work, and we take it seriously. We follow what goes on in the business, just as anyone does in their trade. But we keep up with world events, do plenty of reading and so on. Being glamorous doesn’t mean being stupid.”
Carole followed up “Red-Headed Woman” with the torrid “Red Dust,” vying for Gable’s manly charms with Mary Astor, a distant relative of hers. “I have such fun on screen with Clark,” she said. They’ve subsequently teamed up a number of times -– “Hold Your Man,” “China Seas,” “Wife Versus Secretary” (“Watch out for that James Stewart, he’s going places,” Miss Lombard said) and they’ll soon be together again in “Saratoga.”
In ’32, Miss Harlow also worked with Gable, when Metro loaned him out to Paramount for “No Man Of Her Own.” Asked about Clark, Jean said, “Sure I’d like to work with him again.” She also gained success on a loanout of her own, visiting Columbia and winning praise for “Virtue.”
Still, Jean appeared stifled at Paramount, seemingly unable to gain a distinctive screen personality, whereas in contrast Carole was riding high at Metro with the delightful “Dinner At Eight” and the satiric “Bombshell.”
“You can’t imagine how many guys have said they wanted to run barefoot through my hair,” Carole said, citing a line from the latter film and chuckling.
But Miss Harlow finally found her stride in 1934, again at Columbia. Playing a salesgirl turned petulant star in “Twentieth Century,” she was every bit as hilarious as John Barrymore, whose praise for her was effusive. On the other hand, Jean finally got the M-G-M treatment that fall in “The Gay Bride,” and while she looked beautiful, it didn’t provide the boost she expected.
That wouldn’t come until 1935, when Paramount gave her a romantic comedy worthy of her talent — “Hands Across The Table,” directed by Mitchell Leisen and co-starring MacMurray. “It was fun playing a manicurist digging for gold and learning bigger lessons,” Miss Harlow said.
Last year, Jean and Carole gained greater stature, each through working with the dapper Mr. Powell. Miss Lombard enjoyed portraying the luckless Gladys Simpson in “Libeled Lady,” noting that “working with Bill, Myrna (Loy) and Spencer (Tracy) is a pleasure and a challenge simultaneously. You have to keep up with them, but the good news is that they make it so easy.”
“Even when your ex reeled you in?” Jean replied jokingly, referring to a scene where Carole’s character is hooked by Powell’s fishing rod while in a hotel suite. (If that doesn’t make sense, you haven’t seen the movie.)
“True comedy requires pain,” Carole replied sarcastically. “By the way, you were wonderful as Irene Bullock in ‘Godfrey.’”
“Given the popularity of this thing called screwball, I was tempted to play her as a flighty sort, but that really isn’t me,” Miss Harlow said. “So instead, I emphasized her blend of sweetness and naivete. With all those fine actors in the cast, it worked.”
“We’ve both achieved a lot,” Carole said. “Who knows, if things had gone slightly differently somewhere along the line, we might be in each other’s shoes.”
Would Misses Lombard and Harlow like to appear in a movie together?
“I’d love it!” Carole said. “Trouble is, most pictures that aren’t adventures or westerns, whether they be comedies or dramas, cast a guy and a girl as the leads -– ‘Libeled Lady’ was the exception to the rule. When two women are the leads, it’s usually one of those two-reel comedies, the kind Thelma Todd made, rest her soul.”
Jean concurred. “I’m sure some writer out there -– Ben Hecht, Norman Krasna, somebody -– could create a script that would make Carole and I distinctive and different characters,” she said. “Would a studio be interested in that type of property? I don’t know. But someday, I would enjoy making a movie with her, though it’d probably be at Metro -– L.B. considers Carole too valuable to loan out.”
With that, they extended their arms over the table and shook hands.
While it’s highly unlikely film history would have proceeded precisely this way, you could make the case for Lombard traveling Harlow’s career route and vice versa. Jean did have a small role in “The Saturday Night Kid” (another Jean of later fame, Miss Arthur, also had a supporting part). Had a Paramount executive seen something in Harlow and signed her to a significant contract, she might well have spent her next several years based on Melrose Avenue in Hollywood rather than Washington Boulevard in Culver City.
As for Carole, she did have a brief, discreet relationship with Howard Hughes in 1929; had Harlow been unavailable, would he have cast Lombard in the sound version of “Hell’s Angels”? It might well have happened. Darwin Porter makes a case for this in his 2005 Hughes bio “Howard Hughes, Hell’s Angel,” but his purported dialogue, which naturally can’t be corroborated, paints a portrait of Lombard that doesn’t mesh with what we know about her at that age. (For more on Porter’s book and his rather spurious account, see http://community.livejournal.com/carole_and_co/57165.html.)
In short, it’s not hard to imagine a Paramount Harlow, as well as a Lombard who somehow finds her way to MGM (perhaps not through Paul Bern). In this alternate universe, I’ve tried to avoid shoehorning Jean’s personality into Carole’s films, and vice versa, although a Harlow left to fend for herself at Paramount during its financial struggles in the early thirties might have become somewhat different than the Harlow we’re familiar with.
Conversely, just because Lombard’s lone film at Metro was the lackluster “The Gay Bride” doesn’t mean she couldn’t have succeeded there as a studio star rather than a hired hand. Irving Thalberg probably would have made sure she received good scripts, and without a Harlow on hand, an MGM Lombard might have been cast in those sexy comedies, as well as other properties tailored to her talents.
It’s a fascinating “what if” to ponder.
Oh, and three other things to note:
* Harlow and Lombard apparently really were among the candidates for “The Greeks Had A Word For Them,” according to contemporary accounts.
* The Lombard-Cagney comment is sort of ironic. In real life, Carole had a chance to work with him, but refused a loanout to Warners to make “Taxi!” (Loretta Young got the female lead), a decision Lombard long regretted.
* That one-and-a-half year age difference between Carole and Jean was an intentional error. At the time, studio publicists had Lombard born in 1909, not 1908.
Incidentally, I hope you like this week’s Lombard header image, showing Carole in a pensive mood.
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Posted by vp19 on 2011.02.27 at 01:50
Current mood: nostalgic
That’s Carole Lombard, playing a princess (or, should we say, playing a character passing herself off as one) in the 1936 Paramount comedy “The Princess Comes Across.” Two years earlier, one of Hollywood’s most notable moguls labeled her a queen — in print.
And what’s most interesting about this is that it came from a man who would never work professionally with Lombard.
He’s Darryl F. Zanuck, shown in 1940 when he was head of one of the industry’s top studios, Twentieth Century-Fox. But six years earlier, there was no “Fox” in that title, as Zanuck ran Twentieth Century Pictures, the upstart studio he had co-founded the year before after leaving Warners. (The merger with ailing Fox would come the following year.)
In January 1934, Zanuck wrote a newspaper article on “The Nine Queens Of Hollywood,” and yes, Lombard was one of them:
This is from the Winnipeg Free Press of Jan. 13, 1934. One would think this was a syndicated piece, that Zanuck wasn’t writing expressly for a daily in central Canada, but so far I can’t find this in another newspaper.
You can see Carole in shorts, showing off her legs, at right, with Joan Crawford’s disembodied head at her feet, both dwarfed by Jean Harlow at left.
It’s interesting that Zanuck chose Lombard, who at the time was possibly better known for her legs than for her acting. “Twentieth Century” (the film, not the studio!) was a few months away, and may have just started production when this came to print.
So we know three of the other nine; who were the other six? (Hint: Myrna Loy, who would be named “queen of Hollywood” in a 1936 fan poll, was not one of them.)
Three of the queens aren’t all that surprising for the time — Constance Bennett, Norma Shearer and Loretta Young (the last of whom would work for Zanuck for many years at Twentieth Century-Fox):
But the other three might surprise you with their “royal” lineage, even though one of them had won an Academy Award.
That’s Helen Hayes, who would trade in her Hollywood “queendom” for the comforts of being Broadway royalty. Zanuck’s other two queens, far more obscure today, never quite became big stars — Anna Sten, who Samuel Goldwyn vainly tried to make into another Greta Garbo, and Constance Cummings, a friend of Carole’s best known today for being Harold Lloyd’s leading lady in 1932’s underrated “Movie Crazy”:
I’d love to tell you more about this column, about what Zanuck had to say about Carole, the two Constances and others. Unfortunately, I can’t enlarge this page to the point where the print would be legible. However, you can purchase this page through eBay for $17.50 through its “buy it now” option, or you can make an offer. (If unsold, the offer will end March 28.) Interested? Go to http://cgi.ebay.com/100236CQ-HOLLYWOOD-JEAN-HARLOW-CAROLE-LOMBARD-JAN-1934-/390292755434?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item5adf42d3ea. (And if you do get it, forward me what it says.)
In honor of Zanuck, we’ll close with him speaking and introducing a tour of the Twentieth Century-Fox studios (much of which is now gone, replaced by the Century City development), part of a film the company made for industry people attending a convention. It’s listed as being from 1935, but references to “Cafe Metropole” and “On The Avenue” indicate it’s actually from 1937. You’ll even see Shirley Temple (speaking of royalty!) at the end.
Posted by vp19 on 2011.02.27 at 13:33
Current mood: excited
Ever the competitor, Carole Lombard is preparing for a tournament, ready to face her peers. But this isn’t tennis — no, it’s a competition being staged by Monty at the site “All Good Things” (http://poohtiger-allgoodthings.blogspot.com), and it’s scheduled to start tomorrow. He calls it “March Madness (Classic Movie Goddess style),” with 64 of classic Hollywood’s greats squaring off.
Some of you college basketball fans may be saying, “64? Doesn’t Monty realize there are 68 teams in the tourney now?” True, but that’s in the men’s tournament; the women’s event still has 64 entrants. (So Monty, when you do something like this with actors, make the field 68.)
According to at least one biographer, Carole did play some basketball in school (not that surprising, considering that for many in the early 1920s, it was as much an activity for women and girls as it was for men and boys). But she won’t have to practice her jump shot here, because this competition will be fought by fans.
Monty explains the criteria this way: “I broke down the actresses into 4 groups: I combined the silent era with the 1930’s; the 1940’s; the 1950’s; and the 1960’s. There will be 16 women per section and I’m currently ranking them 1 to 16 based on their popularity, success, award achievements, and acting prowess.”
Wonder if Marion Davies made the cut?
Here’s how it will work, according to Monty:
“Once I have all 64 actresses chosen, they will be paired up in matches and I will have the voting take place on my sidebar. So the first round will have 8 matches taking place. I will start with the silent/30’s era for the first week beginning on Monday, February 28th until the final actress is left standing. And then week 2 will be for the 40’s era, week 3 for the 50’s and week 4 for the 60’s. You will have two days to vote for each round so please come by and vote quickly. And then the final four to determine the most popular actress will begin on March 28th. Two days for each semi-final match and then the final match beginning on April 1st. I will let that match run 3 days so I can crown the champion on Monday.”
That means that the first-round battle involving Lombard could come as early as Monday, so I beseech all of her fans (the “Team Carole” noted in the subject line) to visit “All Good Things” every day, to vote for her when her event takes place as well as to vote on the other bouts. The top seeds in each category are Greta Garbo, silents/1930s; Bette Davis, 1940s; Audrey Hepburn, 1950s; Doris Day, 1960s.
And there’s another reason to visit “All Good Things” tomorrow and in the upcoming weeks. Monty has a feature called “Classic Movie Goddess Of The Month,” and guess who happens to have the honor for March?
Lombard, whom Monty says “also happens to be my favorite actress of all time.” Clearly, this is a man of taste.
One immaculate lady, man
Posted by vp19 on 2011.02.26 at 01:46
Current mood: contemplative
In purely artistic terms, “Ladies’ Man” was a programmer, little more. But it was Carole Lombard’s second film with William Powell, whom she’d marry in late June 1931, not long after its release. Powell had already made a few films with Kay Francis, although their splendid chemistry would reach full flower when both went to Warners in 1932. (And, of course, Lombard and Francis would work together in the 1939 drama “In Name Only.”)
When I saw “Ladies’ Man” at the old Theater 80 St. Marks in lower Manhattan in the late 1980s, I didn’t think much of Lombard’s performance. Based upon the lone comment made about the movie at IMDb, perhaps I should give it another look, though it’s difficult to track down. (Unlike Powell’s first film with Carole, “Man Of The World” — made earlier in ’31 — it has received no official DVD release.)
I thought about “Ladies’ Man” after coming across a publicity still made by ace Paramount portrait artist Eugene Robert Richee (1896-1972), who took plenty of magnificent pictures of Carole. Richee, for several years head of Paramount’s still photography studio, captured her glamour as well as any photographer of his era. The photo below makes that evident:
That is the type of portrait that dares you not to double-click it to view at its full, glorious size, just to examine Carole’s stunning face. (Also note two “tricks” she uses to disguise the slight scar from her automobile accident five years earlier — she’s photographed at a slight angle away from the scar, and she’s also placing her fingers over the scar, simultaneously giving the impression she’s deep in thought. Which she may well be.)
This solo shot could well be part of Paramount’s p1202 collection of Lombard images…but it isn’t. Instead, it is marked 828-65, “828” being the code number for “Ladies’ Man.” It’s a 7 1/2″ x 9 1/2″ original, slightly trimmed and in excellent condition.
And if you want it, prepare to pay. Bidding for this photo begins at $294.95, and as of this writing, no bids have been made. There’s plenty of time, though, because bidding ends at 11:30 p.m. (Eastern) on Wednesday.
If you’d like to place this in your collection, go to http://cgi.ebay.com/Vintage-Carole-Lombard-31-GORGEOUS-Portrait-RICHEE-/380317415563?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item588caf388b.
Just as a point of comparison, here’s another Richee portrait from that session, also released as part of the “Ladies’ Man” issue:
Maybe it’s me, but I prefer the first picture, the one being auctioned. In the second one, she appears less sure of herself, almost seeming vacant upstairs.
Break on through to the Other Side
Posted by vp19 on 2011.02.25 at 01:48
Current mood: calm
Ever wonder what Carole Lombard and Clark Gable are up to these days? That’s right, I said “these days.”
No, I have not been partaking of any controlled substances, nor have I suffered a bump on my head that leads me to believe I’m in 1940. Yes, I know Lombard hasn’t been with us for nearly 70 years, and that Gable has been gone for more than half a century. But that’s here where they’re in the past tense; there could be a “there” where they live on.
And a best-selling author believes she’s tracked them down. Ladies and gentlemen, may I present the latest offering from noted psychic Sylvia Browne:
“Afterlives Of The Rich And Famous” was released earlier this month by HarperCollins, and according to Browne, Clark and Carole were the impetus behind this book:
“It was very strange. One night I was lying in bed and I was thinking about Clark Gable and his love affair with Carole Lombard. I asked my spirit guide (Francine) if they ever got together, and she said that they’re very much in love ‘over here.’ When she says ‘over here,’ she means the Other Side. They rowboat together, they walk together.”
But do they hunt together? (That’s Clark and Carole from their 1941 trip to South Dakota.) Perhaps on that astral plane, the pheasants feel no pain. (The preceding sentence is arguably the weirdest one I’ve ever written.)
And Browne says the afterlife has no clouds or harps:
“In actuality, the afterlife is 3 feet above our ground level. People keep looking up to the sky -– which isn’t correct. When people see ‘ghosts,’ they always say they’re floating. They’re not actually floating, they’re walking on their own solid ground. It has libraries, it has record centers, it has concert halls, it has everything except the negativity.”
Three feet off the ground? I guess that means anyone who found a way to visually experience both planes simultaneously would be eye level to all sorts of afterlife kneecaps.
I haven’t come across the book yet, but online there are some snippets of references to Lombard (I’m not sure whether she’s one of the 40 celebrities profiled or merely mentioned as an adjunct to Gable):
* On page 206, it says one celebrity, whose identity I can’t immediately discern, is “performing with an unending series of plays, particularly with her old friends Laurence Olivier and Carole Lombard.” (Has the afterlife Lombard suddenly developed a hankering for the theatre? If so, the afterlife Broadway and West End are in for a treat.)
* On page 248, there is a reference to “high-spirited, outspoken actress Carole Lombard. Legend has it that it was Carole Lombard who first suggested the idea of Clark Gable for…” (I’m pretty sure this refers to Rhett Butler, all you “Gone With The Wind” fans.)
* The facing page, 249, has this: “It was January 16, 1942, three years into this marriage of kindred souls. Carole Lombard had just finished her film ‘To Be Or Not To Be’ and boarded TWA Flight 3…” Alas, we know the rest.
* Finally, this from page 251: “…at rest beside the body of Carole Lombard, where he’d yearned to be for so many years. From Francine: The first face he saw when he arrived Home…”
Anyone here bought or seen the book? I’d be fascinated to learn more about how Browne and Francine envision the afterlives of Carole and Clark.
The subjects profiled in this book include the usual suspects — Marilyn Monroe, Beatles John Lennon and George Harrison, Princess Diana, Michael Jackson, Heath Ledger and Anna Nicole Smith, subject of a recent opera (yes, opera) in London:
But there are some celebrities who one might be surprised to find, such as veteran newsman Walter Cronkite and comedian George Carlin, known for his skepticism regarding organized religion. I’ve seen part of Carlin’s afterlife description, and it’s pretty interesting. According to Browne’s conduit, Francine:
“I wish you could have seen the look of shock on George’s face when he emerged from the tunnel and discovered there really is life after death after all. And when he found his first wife, Brenda, waiting to greet him, he was stunned into a long silence while he held her, after which I’m told he gaped at the hundreds of spirits and animals who gathered for the reunion and said, ‘I’ll be damned.'”
After which I fully expected that a loud voice — maybe resembling Bill Cosby’s Almighty in his famous “Noah” routine — would tell Carlin, “No, you won’t.” Because, to borrow the title of an Elvis Costello song, God’s comic.
Sounds like a fun read, no matter what your views on the hereafter — even if when you hear the name “Jean Dixon,” you don’t think of the psychic (didn’t her first name have an “e,” a la Lombard?), but the fine, unrelated character actress who portrayed the maid in “My Man Godfrey”:
A blogathon for Harlow’s 100th
Posted by vp19 on 2011.02.24 at 01:44
Current mood: excited
It seems likely that for several years, when March 3 rolled around, Carole Lombard sent a card — or made a phone call — to wish Jean Harlow a happy birthday. They were good friends, simpatico in so many ways: as skilled comedic actresses, sex symbols of a sort, people who were genuinely beloved by studio subordinates for reasons that extended far beyond their considerable physical beauty. Plus they had the same men play major roles in their lives — William Powell (romantically for both) and Clark Gable (romance for one, a close friendship for the other).
In that spirit, we are delighted to announce that, with the centenary of Jean’s birth coming up a week from today, a blogathon in her honor has been created:
It’s being organized by a fine site, the Kitty Packard Pictorial (http://kittypackard.wordpress.com/). What’s it about? Let its creator explain:
The Kitty Packard Pictorial is the lovechild of an LA gal suffering from an apparent glitch in the Space-Time Continuum. (Not that I don’t love our iPods and Crackberry’s … but freshly pressed 78s and coded telegrams are much more fun.)
The Pictorial was created as a very necessary means of self-expression, as well as to provide a platform through which we could fuse past with present—looking at the world each day through Black and White (and Technicolor!) glasses. The aim is to create a sense of then in our everyday nows through movies, photos, music, essays, news articles, books, art and anything else that happens to strike my fanciful whim. (what are blogs for, after all, if not to indulge one’s fanciful whims!)
Those whims are wonderful, by the way. And “Kitty Packard”? I think most of you should get the allusion…and why this site is administering this blogathon.
And in the best tradition of friendship, “Carole & Co.” is proud to announce it will be among the participants in this blogathon. I had a delightful time taking part in the recent CMBA Alfred Hitchcock blogathon, and this should be equally as satisfying.
So in honor of Harlow’s 100th, a few photos of “the Baby” in advertising of the day. (All three are from the early 1930s, essentially her pre-MGM days.) Here’s “Howard Hughes star” Harlow for Coca-Cola:
Jean in 1931, pitching Luckies:
In 1932, Harlow was seen in magazines such as Photoplay endorsing something called the “Vita-Tonic Wave”:
Heck, Jean spent much of her time at beauty salons:
The cat’s meow, and more
Posted by vp19 on 2011.02.23 at 02:43
Current mood: busy
As we’ve often noted, Carole Lombard adored animals. I’m not sure what pets were in her household during her youth as Jane Alice Peters, but there probably were a few. It also explains why she adjusted so well to life on the ranch in Encino. some distance away from the Hollywood-Beverly Hills area where she had heretofore spent much of her time.
Is that a nice pic with a cat? Sure, but as Al Jolson would say, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet. For sheer adorableness, I doubt any Lombard photo beats this one:
Carole plays mama cat with this cute quartet of kittens (one of which is staying close to Lombard for warmth), and she’s clearly enjoying all this feline company.
This is the highlight of several photos being auctioned at eBay by a Memphis company, Historic and Vintage Images, which has acquired original photographs from newspapers such as the Detroit Free Press, the Detroit News, the Denver Post, the Chicago Sun-Times and others. Here’s the back of the photo, including a snipe:
The photo was issued by RKO in 1940 for “They Knew What They Wanted,” but it apparently didn’t enter this newspaper’s library until December 1944.
And believe it or not, as of this writing no one has placed a bid on this rare and charming photo. Bids begin at $9.99, with bids closing at 2:53 p.m. (Eastern) on Saturday. This would be a purr-fect (say that in your best Julie Newmar Catwoman voice) gift for the cat lover in your life. Interested? Go to http://cgi.ebay.com/1944-press-photo-Carole-Lombard-American-Actress-US-/280632690303?pt=Art_Photo_Images&hash=item415703067f.
But wait — there’s more from this seller, also from “They Knew What They Wanted.” Here she is, leaning on a fence:
Again, there’s a snipe:
One interesting note — the snipe lists Lombard’s character as “Ann Peters,” but in the film she’s Amy Peters. Was it changed? And there’s a 1945 date printed above the snipe.
Like the cat photo, bids start at $9.99 and no bids have to date been placed; this picture has an earlier bidding deadline — 5:03 p.m. (Eastern) on Thursday. If you’d like to bid, or merely want to learn more, visit http://cgi.ebay.com/1945-press-photo-Carole-Lombard-Charles-Laughton-/270708056273?pt=Art_Photo_Images&hash=item3f077520d1.
Those photos have not yet been bid on; in contrast, the following pic has received four, despite having cropmarks:
Here’s how the photo looks without it (thanks to Tally for the work):
And the back:
The image, first received at the newspaper in August 1937 (you can see part of the “Carole Lombard Paramount Pictures” stamp near the top), was used on Oct. 6, 1980 on the anniversary of her birth — though the writer erroneously listed her birth name as Janice Alice Peters.
Four bids have been made on this, topping at $48. If you want to strike late, you don’t have me; bidding closes at 5:18 p.m. (Eastern) today. Go to http://cgi.ebay.com/1937-press-photo-Carole-Lombard-actress-film-star-/270707623411?pt=Art_Photo_Images&hash=item3f076e85f3.
Finally, here’s one more Lombard photo from this dealer, Paramount p1202-1050 from 1935:
The back of the picture looks like this, although I’m showing it upside down:
There are two visible stamp dates for this photo, both from the 1950s, as well as a “TV” marking; by this time, many of Lombard’s films had been released for television. There’s a small blurb that apparently accompanied this image when it was printed, and note the erroneous date of her passing -- June 16, 1942, not Jan. 16.
No bids have been placed on this as yet. Bids start at $9.99, with bidding closing at 4:31 p.m. (Eastern) Thursday. To place a bid or get more info, visit http://cgi.ebay.com/1957-press-photo-Carole-Lombard-actress-Clark-Gable-/290535700671?pt=Art_Photo_Images&hash=item43a546f8bf.
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Early reflections, plus a ‘castle’ at night
Posted by vp19 on 2011.02.22 at 00:22
Current mood: artistic
Mirrors were often a part of Carole Lombard’s photo shoots, enabling multiple angles of what she was wearing (and multiple Caroles as well!). This photo is Paramount p1202-712, probably taken around 1934.
I bring this up because I just came across what may be the first photo — from Paramount, at least — showing Lombard with a mirror. It’s p1202-51, probably taken in mid- to late 1930:
It’s a rather striking image of Lombard next to a planter; I have no idea who took it, though I would guess it was Otto Dyar, the studio’s head photographer at the time. The photo was probably taken from above, at an angle where the camera could not be seen, so the actual Lombard is the one on the bottom.
The photo is 8″ x 10″, struck from the original negative, and can be yours for $14.99. If interested, go to http://cgi.ebay.com/Carole-Lombard-8×10-Photo-D6-/120680433041?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item1c191d4591.
In the past, I’ve often raved about Hearst Castle at San Simeon, where the newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst built an incredible palace over more than two decades…a place Lombard visited on several occasions thanks to her good friend Marion Davies. I’ve toured the “ranch,” but here’s a whole new take on the place — highlights from one of the nighttime tours. Early on in this, you’ll see the famous outdoor pool at dusk, and it looks spectacular. Then, you’ll go inside, get a feel for what the guest rooms were like come evening time, and even see some of the docents dressed in 1930s wear. You can imagine what it was like when Davies and Hearst entertained everyone from Lombard to George Bernard Shaw.
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‘Ad’ these to your collection
Posted by vp19 on 2011.02.21 at 01:21
Current mood: working
Carole Lombard enjoyed making movies; advertising made sure the public knew about them and said films could thus make money. Today’s entry features seven ads for Lombard movies that are up for auction at eBay, and curiously, none of them have been bid on as of this writing. All have an opening bid of $9.99, and bidding ends on the items between 10:03 and 10:35 p.m. (Eastern) on Wednesday.
We’ll do this alphabetically by film, the only reason this kicks off with the lackluster “Fools For Scandal”:
Actually, had the movie been as attractive as the ad, it might have been fairly good instead of a disappointment. I like that line in the lower left-hand corner — “Their romance is scandalicious, scandalovely, scandalirious!” Also note at the bottom that the ad apparently ran in the May 1938 issue of Screen Book magazine; a message reads, “When answering advertisements, please mention Screen Book magazine.” It measures 7 1/4″” x 10 1/2″ and is in very good condition. To learn more, visit http://cgi.ebay.com/1938-ad-Fools-Scandal-Carole-Lombard-Ralph-Bellamy-/220740932534?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item33652f53b6.
Next, a newspaper ad for what would be Carole’s next film, “Made For Each Other” with James Stewart:
The ad states in the upper right-hand corner, “Carole Lombard makes a brilliant transition from comedienne to dramatic star!” It measures 8″ x 11″ and is from the Portland (Ore.) News-Telegram. Find out more at http://cgi.ebay.com/1939-Made-Each-Other-James-Stewart-Carole-Lombard-/270707712440?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item3f076fe1b8.
Next, my favorite in the bunch, for RKO’s “Mr. & Mrs. Smith”:
The A-B-C angle to sell the film is delightful; the photo of Carole in the upper-left corner is sublime. RKO was certainly hoping that returning Mrs. Gable to her comedic milieu would pay off, and it did, with substantially better box office than her previous dramatic turns. The source for the ad isn’t listed, but the 7″ x 10.25″ probably indicates it’s from a magazine. It’s listed in very good condition, and more information can be gained by going to http://cgi.ebay.com/1940-ad-Hitchcocks-Mr-Mrs-Smith-Carole-Lombard-/270707711255?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item3f076fdd17.
Now, let’s head back to the fall of 1936 and Lombard’s hit for Universal, “My Man Godfrey”:
Nothing especially significant about this ad, though it’s characteristically clean and stylish. We do learn that author Eric Hatch, whose Liberty magazine serial, “Irene, The Stubborn Girl,” became the original source for the film, also wrote a novel called “My Man Godfrey.” (One guesses this version was more in line with the changes made in the movie, such as making Lombard’s Irene Bullock character younger than sister Cornelia, rather than older.) Again, I have no idea where this ad ran — it measures 7 1/4″ x 10 1/4″. it’s at http://cgi.ebay.com/1936-My-Man-Godfrey-ad-William-Powell-Carole-Lombard-/270707715456?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item3f076fed80.
Now to “Nothing Sacred,” and some confusion:
The seller lists the ad as being from 1940, when “Nothing Sacred” opened in late 1937. I know the movie was reissued in 1942 as a posthumous salute to Lombard, but there might have been a reissue of sorts in 1940, when Selznick was having some financial problems despite the runaway success of his “Gone With The Wind.” You can check out the ad at http://cgi.ebay.com/1940-Nothing-Sacred-ad-Carole-Lombard-Fredric-March-/220740937800?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item33652f6848.
In the spring of 1937, Lombard and Fred MacMurray were packing them in for “Swing High, Swing Low” (Paramount’s biggest moneymaker of the year), and here’s an ad that ran for it:
This charming ad refers to MacMurray’s two previous collaborations with Carole, “Hands Across The Table” and “The Princess Comes Across.” It’s 7 1/2″ x 10 1/2″, in very good condition, and at http://cgi.ebay.com/1936-ad-Swing-High-Swing-Low-Carole-Lombard-F-MacMurray-/270707708955?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item3f076fd41b.
Finally, an ad for one of those RKO dramas that critics tended to like but audiences found disconcerting, 1940’s “Vigil In The Night”:
That you see spot red in this ad indicates that RKO was giving “Vigil” a push as one of its prestige pictures. and indeed this ad, measuring 8 1/4″ x 11 1/4″, ran in the March 1940 Screenland magazine, probably in the inside front or back cover. The ad understandably emphasizes “The intimate secrets of a private nurse,” rather than its downbeat atmosphere. For more about this ad, visit http://cgi.ebay.com/1940-ad-Vigil-Night-Carole-Lombard-Brian-Aherne-/270707718440?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item3f076ff928.
Also, hope you enjoy this week’s horizontal header of a languid Lombard.
Plenty of goodies on the Jersey side
Posted by vp19 on 2011.02.20 at 09:33
Current mood: accomplished
For those of you out skiing — cross-country or downhill — over this Presidents’ Day weekend in the U.S., a gift to those using a laptop at the lodge. It’s Carole Lombard, dressed up for winter fun as her character Ann Smith, in a publicity still for “Mr. & Mrs. Smith,” a testament to the deceptive power of studio snow. (This was almost certainly taken on the RKO lot.)
It’s an 8″ x 10″ original, in very good condition, and the seller says it includes a seven-line snipe on the back. (Unfortunately, the snipe is not shown nor its exact wording stated.) You can buy it straight up for $20, although the sale will end at 12:53 p.m. (Eastern) on Monday. To purchase, or learn more, visit http://cgi.ebay.com/Carole-Lombard-41-Hitchcock-Original-Photo-/260697385170?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item3cb2c668d2.
The seller, the Motion Picture Arts Gallery, is located in East Rutherford, N.J., best known to the world as home of the sports complex where the NFL’s Giants and Jets play (and, not long ago, the NHL’s Devils and NBA’s Nets). It’s owned by the former chairman of the Film Society at Lincoln Center (which did a Lombard retrospective back in 1987), and prides itself on selling strictly original material — no reproductions.
The eBay sale site links to the gallery’s website, and a quick search for Carole Lombard leads to all sorts of fascinating things. Perhaps the most exciting, from my perspective, is this lobby card from 1925’s “Hearts And Spurs,” a Fox western now deemed lost (as is the case with all the films Lombard made before her 1926 automobile accident):
Lombard, then all of 16 (this film was released in June 1925), is probably the woman standing in the white outfit; she and Jean Lamott are the only women listed in the cast. This Buck Jones vehicle (the movie, not the car!) was directed by W.S. Van Dyke, who would become an MGM stalwart in the 1930s for “Trader Horn” and the first two teamings of William Powell and Myrna Loy, “Manhattan Melodrama” and “The Thin Man.”
The price on that lobby card is $300, also the same price as this lobby card rarity from Carole’s first film at Columbia, “Virtue”:
Superb art work, with a lovely rendering of Lombard in a red dress as she meets Pat O’Brien and his fellow New York cabbies. It’s a still image I’ve never seen before — either as a lobby card or as a publicity pic — and in very good condition.
We’ve previously run a photo of Lombard, co-star Fred MacMurray and director Mitchell Leisen meeting Paramount mogul Adolph Zukor on the set of “Swing High, Swing Low.” Here’s another one from that shoot; here, all four are seated:
This 8″ x 10″ still is being sold for $75. So is this still, inadvertently credited from the website as being from “Nothing Scared“:
Hey, the idea of a squirrel on my shoulder would’ve made me “scared,” too…especially if I had been previously injured by a wild animal (as Lombard was a few years earlier, when a monkey scarred her arm during the filming of “White Woman”). Aside from that incident, Carole must have had an almost supernatural rapport with animals. A snipe from Selznick International is attached to the back, and perhaps publicist Russell Birdwell can explain just why this rodent is perched on her shoulder.
To learn more about the Motion Picture Arts Gallery, go to http://www.mpagallery.com/intro/index.asp.
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One more for the ‘Book’
Posted by vp19 on 2011.02.19 at 02:02
Current mood: satisfied
Ever wonder what Carole Lombard’s favorite fan magazine was? She certainly wouldn’t have announced it publicly, but one logical candidate would probably be Screen Book. And why not? Not only had she been featured on its cover several times, but on one occasion (the April 1936 issue) she served as guest editor (http://community.livejournal.com/carole_and_co/213419.html):
So it should come as no surprise that the magazine’s photographer, Jack Albin, took a photo of Carole reading Screen Book while seated in the Hollywood auditorium that “Lux Radio Theater” called home:
Interesting outfit, although those ankle-strap shoes really don’t become her.
The seller of this photo says it was taken in 1939, and was done while Lombard — who by now had appeared twice on the program — waited for Clark Gable to finish a rehearsal. A check of the “Lux” log shows Gable made but one appearance on the series in 1939…to reprise his Academy Award-winning role opposite Claudette Colbert (reprising hers) in the radio adaptation of “It Happened One Night,” a program that aired on March 20. (One wonders whether Carole and Clark had already agreed to elope before month’s end.)
Lombard’s likely looking at the March issue of Screen Book, although perhaps the April issue had hit the newsstands by then. We know it’s not the February issue, because guess who was on the cover?
The photo of Lombard with the magazines measures 11″ x 14″; it’s not an original but was struck from a vintage negative. You can purchase it for $15, and it will be up for sale through 5:54 p.m. (Eastern) on Tuesday. Interested? Check it out at http://cgi.ebay.com/CAROLE-LOMBARD-11×14-B-W-publicity-portrait-c-1939-/200568615575?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item2eb2d23297.
Oh, and Screen Book wouldn’t be finished with Carole for 1939. In fact, armed with a new logo for the November issue, the magazine literally got her goat:
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Posted by vp19 on 2011.02.18 at 02:27
Current mood: exanimate
…but no one is in danger, although Carole Lombard certainly has some “weapons” at her disposal. We’re going to examine a few images of her on postcards, including several I don’t believe I’ve previously run at “Carole & Co.”
We’ll start with this one, which isn’t new but hasn’t run here in a few years. It’s the first postcard of Lombard produced by Germany’s famed Ross-Verlag publishing house (http://community.livejournal.com/carole_and_co/52279.html), and I’m guessing the photograph was taken late in her tenure at Pathe, although this card wasn’t issued until 1930:
Now, a few cards issued during her stay at Paramount. First, one for those of you who just adore bare shoulders:
The next two are considerably more sedate, but do have their own charm:
This one lists Lombard as an RKO star:
Now one I can’t figure out at all. The card shows Carole as part of “Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer,” which I could see if this photo was from “The Gay Bride.” But it’s clearly from “The Princess Comes Across,” a Paramount feature issued some 18 months after “The Gay Bride,” the lone movie she made for MGM. And, of course, the image of her with a cigarette on her lips may have signaled sophistication back then, but today at least looks ludicrous (in addition to being dangerous for your health). Here it is, anyway:
This postcard was issued to promote Selznick International’s “Made For Each Other,” and it’s an image of Lombard as her character, Jane Mason, that relatively few have seen over the years:
One popular topic of movie star postcards was pictures of the actors’ homes. This image, probably issued in 1937, shows Lombard in front of her Beverly Hills residence:
And lo and behold, someone actually used it as a postcard, mailing it to a daughter at the Georgia State College for Women (GSCW) in Milledgeville, Ga. (The institution became co-educational in 1967, and is now known as Georgia College.)
In the card, dated April 10, 1938, we learn that Dad went deep-sea fishing that day, without much success. But if you want to reel in this card — which the seller admits shows signs of aging — you can. It’s on sale for $3.99 at eBay; to learn more, go to http://cgi.ebay.com/CA-BEVERLY-HILLS-CAROLE-LOMBARD-MAILED-1938-M47520-/150489020120?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item2309d836d8.
Posted by vp19 on 2011.02.18 at 09:47
Current mood: amused
While monitoring eBay for intriguing Carole Lombard memorabilia, it’s often easy to spot the handiwork of particular sellers even from the thumbnails — a particular description or style in the listing gives it away.
One of these sellers invariably uses terms such as “sexy,” “leggy” or “busty” to describe a photo, although the third adjective almost never is accurate where Lombard is concerned. (Had Carole been born 20 years later and come to prominence in the 1950s, she might have had to market herself as an Audrey Hepburn-style gamin; she certainly wouldn’t have been seen as a rival to the buxom likes of Marilyn Monroe or Jayne Mansfield.) This seller, perhaps hoping said terms will bring potential buyers to the site, also tends to use “sexy” in the most questionable of contexts (the bond rally?).
Okay, now that we’ve got that “rant” out of the way, a photo — and an attractive and rare one — even though it’s headlined “CAROLE LOMBARD BUSTY DBLWT Original 8X10 Photo.” (“DBLWT” is an abbreviation for “doubleweight,” a common term for photo memorabilia.) Is she “busty” here? Decide for yourself:
I personally don’t think there’s much heft to her bosom here (one of the reasons Lombard rarely wore a bra), but that’s not the point, pardon the pun. What matters here in Paramount p1202-810 (placing it sometime in 1934) is that we see Carole in an attractive gown, and we know the man in the photo is studio design maven Travis Banton. But who’s the woman?
Fortunately, we have an answer, because this original doubleweight photo has a snipe on the back:
CAROLE LOMBARD, Madame Frances Spingold, famous New York designer, and Travis Banton, Paramount stylist, declare that Carole’s blue chiffon gown she wears in scenes of “Now And Forever” will create a new trend in evening gown creations. Banton is a former pupil of Madame Frances’, having studied with her in New York ten years ago.”
Did her blue chiffon gown (thanks for describing the color, Paramount publicists!) create a new trend? We’ll let the fashion historians answer that. But it’s a stunning photo, and it can be yours — but you don’t have much time. The photo, in very good condition, is being sold for $44.99, and the deadline for purchase is 9:43 p.m. (Eastern) tonight. Interested? Go to http://cgi.ebay.com/CAROLE-LOMBARD-BUSTY-DBLWT-Original-8X10-Photo-/400189404006?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item5d2d25b366 to learn more.
Posted by vp19 on 2011.02.17 at 00:40
Current mood: nostalgic
That’s Carole Lombard taking a break from shooting her 1934 comedy “The Gay Bride”; it looks as if she’s poring over the script. Looking over her right shoulder is the film’s director, Jack Conway. Peering over her left, co-star Chester Morris.
This was taken on the MGM lot, and it would be the only film Lombard would make at Metro. She may be smiling, but the finished product produced the opposite reaction, as Carole would call “The Gay Bride” her worst film. (As I’ve stated many times before, as long as prints of “Fools For Scandal” exist — and I’m not advocating their elimination — “The Gay Bride” won’t be the worst film in her catalog. In fact, it also rates ahead of “High Voltage,” “The Racketeer” and a few of her early Paramount offerings.)
But from 1936 on. Lombard was no stranger to the MGM studio, thanks to her relationship with its top male star, Clark Gable. As Carole was one of the film community’s most popular people, she was always welcome.
We bring this up because of a book called “M-G-M: Hollywood’s Greatest Backlot,” which we discussed here last July (http://community.livejournal.com/carole_and_co/320911.html).
Okay, the title isn’t technically correct, as Metro was actually located in Culver City, several miles from the Hollywood district of Los Angeles. But for roughly a quarter-century, MGM was generally considered the gold standard of studios for its huge stable of stars and impeccable production values.
Those days are long gone. Yes, MGM is a corporate entity today, but that’s about it. The lot the lion called home lo those many years on Washington Boulevard now belongs to Sony, the outgrowth of scrappy Columbia, a studio age underdog. Much of the acreage MGM used during its reign has been converted into apartments, condominiums and homes.
However, you can finally get a feel for the legendary lot because the book — which was initially scheduled to be released last fall — was issued this week. It includes interviews with Betty Garrett, an MGM musical star who we lost last weekend at age 91, and Richard Anderson, as well as an introduction by Debbie Reynolds, who likely spent some time working at stage 6, shown below, when it was topped with the MGM logo, not Columbia’s.
The book is available at Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/MGM-Hollywoods-Greatest-Steven-Bingen/dp/1595800557), where all six reviewers to date gave it five stars out of five. If you’ll be in southern California March 13, the three authors — Steven Bingen, Stephen X. Sylvester and Michael Troyan — will have a book signing at 4 p.m. at the Egyptian Theater, followed by a classic MGM twin bill of “The Band Wagon” (1953) and “That’s Entertainment” (1974). For more on the book, visit http://www.mgmbacklot.info/.
To close, here’s a clip of Carole from “The Gay Bride,” where she has some fine comedic interaction with the always-reliable Nat Pendleton and Zasu Pitts, before her showgirl character sits around and looks pretty on stage during the singing of the insipid “Mississippi Honeymoon.”
For the Lombard fan, a Lombard…fan
Posted by vp19 on 2011.02.16 at 01:23
Current mood: curious
While this photo was taken indoors, Carole Lombard at least tries to give the impression that it’s a sunny summer afternoon somewhere, and she’s trying to beat the heat.
And, as it turns out, she can help you do just that. Ladies and gentlemen, one of the most unusual Lombard-related items I’ve ever run across…
…an honest-to-goodness Carole Lombard fan. And this fan doesn’t collect memorabilia; it is memorabilia. I’m certain it got plenty of use each January and February.
Oh, I forgot to mention — this fan comes from Argentina. In fact, it was sponsored by a pharmacist:
From the photo, I’m guessing this was issued between 1935 and 1937; the picture likely came from the same session that produced the top photo.
I have no idea whether this fan phenomenon was peculiar to Argentina, or whether movie star images were used on fans elsewhere. Some other Hollywood folks were similarly honored, including (no surprise) Latin American favorite Dolores Del Rio:
And here’s someone I didn’t expect to get the fan treatment — Astrid Allwyn, who had a supporting role in the Lombard vehicle “Hands Across The Table”:
It’s perhaps no surprise that while the eBay seller has a $25 price for both the Lombard and Del Rio fans, the one for Allwyn sells for a mere $16 US. (Did Carole and the other stars know their photos were being used for fans? They were certainly aware that their names and images were employed for an array of marketing purposes, and I doubt they received any share of the licensing in those days of studio contracts.)
For more on the Lombard fan, which measures about 6 1/2″ x 13″ and is being sold under eBay’s “buy it now” option, go to http://cgi.ebay.com/Antique-Hand-Fan-CAROLE-LOMBARD-c-1930-argentina-/270700179945?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item3f06fcf1e9. (If unsold, it will be available through March 2.) To see it and the other star fans, visit http://stores.ebay.com/El-Juguete-Ilustrado/_i.html?rt=nc&_sid=199717288&_trksid=p4634.c0.m14.l1513&_pgn=1.
But if you get the fan, be careful how, and when, you use it. Remember what happened to Alice after she waved a fan…
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Posted by vp19 on 2011.02.15 at 01:39
Current mood: cheerful
How do you make people who have either never heard of Carole Lombard, or know only that she was married to Clark Gable and died young, fans of hers? If you live in the U.S., Turner Classic Movies tonight is a good place to start. At 8 p.m. (Eastern), it’s showing “My Man Godfrey,” one of the best screwball comedies ever made (if not the best), and it won Lombard an Academy Award best actress nomination for her portrayal of the dizzy heiress Irene Bullock.
Oscar nominations abounded for “Godfrey.” Carole’s ex-husband, William Powell — who lobbied for her to get the role — was nominated for best actor as the film’s title character. Alice Brady. as Irene’s daffy mother, and Mischa Auer, as mom’s weird “protege,” were nominated in the new categories of best supporting actress and actor. (The night’s theme is “Oscar firsts,” and among the other films tonight are 1963’s “Lilies Of The Field,” in which Sidney Poitier became the first black man to win an best actor Oscar, and 1961’s “Two Women,” where Sophia Loren was the first non-American to win best actress for a foreign-language film.)
Gregory La Cava, who brought a semi-improvisational style to “Godfrey,” was nominated for best director, and Morrie Ryskind, whose past credits included the Marx Brothers’ “A Night At The Opera,” was nominated for best screenplay. All four acting nominees plus La Cava are shown below, taking a break on the set.
None of the six won.
Nevertheless, “Godfrey” may be better remembered than most of the other films that won Academy Awards that year. From its stylish art deco opening credits…
…to a wonderful supporting cast that includes Gail Patrick (foreground) as Irene’s antagonistic older sister Cornelia (in real life, Patrick was slightly younger than Lombard) and Eugene Pallette as the exasperated paterfamilias of this menagerie of screwballs…
…to a social message running as an undercurrent, but never usurping the comedy, “My Man Godfrey” is a gem of a film. Unfortunately, since it fell into public domain, that gem often resembles fool’s gold or zirconium. TCM will probably find a good print to run tonight, but keep your fingers crossed just in case. (For those who would like to make “Godfrey” a permanent part of their home, Criterion issued a fine DVD print of the film that includes all sorts of delightful extras — including the 1938 “Lux Radio Theater” adaptation where Lombard, Powell and Patrick reprise their film roles.)
So tell your friends, gather them around the TV set tonight, and have them soak in the timeless magic created by Lombard and her cohorts. More likely than not, they’ll be asking for more.
Posted by vp19 on 2011.02.15 at 11:38
Current mood: curious
Here are some Carole Lombard goodies you can acquire through eBay if you hurry.
First, take a look at this stunning pic, a lobby card for the rarely seen 1931 Paramount film “I Take This Woman” (and to whomever has the rights to this rediscovered movie -- please find a way to get this issued on DVD or at least shown on Turner Classic Movies!):
Looking stylish in her equestrian outfit, Carole’s character, Kay Dowling, tells her aunt Bessie (Helen Ware), “He’s bad for wild horses and — wild women…”, the “he,” of course, being Gary Cooper. (And we presume in this context “bad” means desirous; if it’s the other definition, call the police and the humane society.)
This photo is from the collection of Gerald T. Robert, who owned the Capitol Theater in Trois Rivieres, Quebec. It became a movie house in 1929, and Robert retained all the lobby cards until his death. There’s a slight, unobtrusive stamp of his in the lower right-hand corner; in the upper right-hand corner, there’s a seal of approval from the Quebec Censorship Board.
The collection also features a photo from the film Lombard made just before this one, “Up Pops The Devil”:
The Robert stamp is visible in the upper left corner, as Lombard’s Anne Merrick puts her foot down and tells Joyce Compton’s Luella May Carroll to stay away from her husband (Norman Foster). “Get out! I’m making the money, this is my place,” Anne says; she’s a dancer playing the breadwinner while her husband is writing a novel.
No one has made a bid yet on the “Up Pops The Devil” photo, for which bids begin at 99 cents. Two bids have been made as of this writing on the “I Take This Woman” photo, topping out at $5. To bid or learn more on the “Devil” photo, go to http://cgi.ebay.com/Carole-LOMBARD-Up-Pop-Devil-movie-still-photo-1931-/300524271482?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_2&hash=item45f8a4777a; for the “Woman” photo, visit http://cgi.ebay.com/Carole-LOMBARD-take-Woman-movie-still-1931-/300524271508?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_2&hash=item45f8a47794. But you don’t have much time for either, as both auctions expire at 7:39 p.m. (Eastern) tonight.
In the past, we’ve run several entries on Hollywood Patterns, the Connecticut company that sold patterns of outfits which either were worn by stars or inspired by them. Another pattern with Lombard’s image on the package is now available:
This is pattern 1017, a one-piece frock with detachable peplum, and it’s actually part of a two-pattern package being sold on eBay; the other one, #1177, features Claire Dodd. The seller says of Lombard, “loved her,” but Dodd? “I don’t know who that is either.” Okay, to answer:
Dodd, shown above in 1932, was an Iowa native born nearly three months after Lombard, who had a small uncredited part in “Up Pops The Devil.” She later moved to Warners, where she was never quite a star but played supporting roles in a number of films, including “The Match King,” “Footlight Parade” and “Hard To Handle.” You can also see her in the Fred Astaire-Ginger Rogers-Irene Dunne musical “Roberta.”
As of this writing, four bids have been made on the patterns, with the high bid at $13.26; bidding is slated to end at 1:59 p.m. (Eastern) on Wednesday. To check it out, go to http://cgi.ebay.com/2-Vintage-30s-Hollywood-Patterns-Carole-Lombard-Dress-/140510650401?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item20b7166021.
Posted by vp19 on 2011.02.14 at 02:14
Current mood: nostalgic
A happy Valentine’s Day to all, with hopes things are going better with your valentine than they are for the fictional Ann and David Smith, portrayed by Carole Lombard and Robert Montgomery in “Mr. & Mrs. Smith.” This entry will focus on life with Lombard and her real-life husband at the time, Clark Gable, though we’ll turn the clock back a bit to mid-1939, a few months after they tied the knot.
For this, we thank someone who played a major role in their lives — Jean Garceau, who had been Carole’s personal secretary, then linked up with Gable following Lombard’s marriage to him. She would remain a part of life at Encino for many years to come.
Garceau gained a bit of celebrity herself for her ties to filmdom’s top couple. In fact, she would be featured in the October 1939 issue of Movie Mirror, an issue with Olivia De Havilland, getting ready for a day at the links, on the cover:
At the bottom of the cover is the promo, “Read Clark Gable’s Private Correspondence.” That sounds rather titillating, but you can be sure Gable, Lombard, Garceau and MGM publicists made certain nothing of a really intimate nature made print. Nevertheless, it does provide a feel for day-to-day life at the ranch for these newlyweds.
The article, entitled “The Private Affairs of A Married Man — Mr. C. Gable,” was reprinted the other day at the blog “An Elegant Obsession” (http://goldenagedames.wordpress.com/), which has been running plenty of Gable-related items this month. Here’s how it ran in Movie Mirror, followed by my comments:
A letter to
Miss Miriam Sparks, Cadiz Ohio.
Dear Aunt Miriam:
Well, you always were sentimental, weren’t you — and now you want a picture of Carole and myself for that fancy mantelpiece of yours … by the way, am I still up there as a baby? You know, that picture with the lace collar and the curl that you so carefully arranged?
Incidentally, Carole has a copy of that picture and it’s the only picture of me she has displayed on her dressing table.
She trots it out for visitors just like used to do.
In re-reading your letter I note that you want a photo of us, with Carole carrying her wedding bouquet. Well, I have to disappoint you about the bouquet, because what she carried wasn’t exactly a bouquet. I didn’t dare risk ordering her one, or having anyone else order one, either, because out here florists always check up on wedding bouquets — whom they’re for, etc, — and we wanted to keep our elopement a secret. I did buy her a rose, with a couple of sprigs of lily of the valley, though, from a sidewalk vendor as we left Hollywood. We had hoped to preserve the bouquet until the ceremony by placing it in the glove compartment of the car, but the desert heat got at it and it was a sorry sight when we brought it to light at Kingman — not at all photogenic. But Carole has pressed the rose and if you ever come out this way, Aunt Miriam, she’ll be glad to let you have a whiff of it.
Anyway, I’m sending you one of our favorite pictures — Carole and me at The Farm. From it you can get sort of an idea of where we live, too.
Thanks again for writing, and Carole sends along her best wishes, too.
Your devoted nephew, CLARK
Call the Farmers’ Carton Company and have them make up sample egg cartons and submit with prices, etc. Ask them to please print up several styles and get them to work in “The Farm” somehow and the name of Mr. And Mrs. Clark Gable at the bottom — something not too commercial, because we’re going to give the eggs away to friends and neighbors.
I don’t know exactly how many we’ll need, but they ought to be able to figure a half year’s supply from the fact that we now have five hundred chicks and about a hundred of the red leghorn hens have begun laying.
Call Mr. Price at Holden’s and ask him to pick up Carole’s convertible at the RKO lot this morning. Tell him I want it turned in on a new sedan. He can phone me about a possible deal over on the set. Make it plain to him that I don’t want anything but a sedan… no more convertibles for her. A Convertible is too dangerous. And if Carole phones, don’t say anything about it… she might object, but I’m her safety director from now on. Tell Price I think she’d prefer black.
A MESSAGE to Bob Taylor; if you him, try Barbara — and tell him that we’re sorry but we have to cancel our dinner date for Friday, because it’s Carole’s mother’s birthday and she’s coming over.
That reminds me: you’d better start a little section in your notebook devoted to in-laws’ birthdays. Put Mrs. Peters’ birthday down, so I won’t forget it again; also Carole’s brothers'; that kid niece of hers, too. And any other dates you think I shouldn’t forget — Mothers’ Day and dates like that.
PLEASE call the store where we bought our porch furniture and ask them to send someone out to refinish the chairs along the front rungs. Mrs. Gable says she’s always catching her stockings on them.
And that reminds me — now that I’ve got Mrs. Gable’s car changed, I want to begin working on her horse. She never told me that that animal was a bad actor… I found it out myself this morning when I tried to ride him over to Andy’s. He nearly threw me! Buck Jones said he had a Palomino he might sell me … I think the horse was called Pavo, or some Spanish name like that. Then call that company that rents horses for pictures … I forget the name … but tell them that I have a wild pinto that they can have cheap. They use those pintos mostly in Indian fights and those Indians are the people who can ride him. I don’t think Carole will really mind, because from the sample I had of that horse this morning he’s no fun — all work and no play. She’s just been trying to be brave, that’s all.
Speaking of horses, will you phone Andy or Mrs. Devine and ask when little Tad’s birthday is. I think it’s this month and I heard him say, he wanted a pony. He’s still got Scarlett, that donkey I gave Carole, but I’m sure he’s got his heart set on a pony now. Find out for sure, though.
Sears, Roebuck and Co.,
Will you please send me, at the above address, your latest catalogue.
Department of Agriculture, Federal Building, Los Angeles, Cal.
When the government appraiser in the grape division comes out from Washington, as I understand he will shortly, will it be possible for him to appraise my vines in the San Fernando Valley? If you will let me know when an appointment may be made, I will be glad to arrange it at his convenience.
Refrigeration De Luxe,
San Francisco, California
Some time ago you delivered a special game refrigerator to me, but I believe that lit needs some sort of adjustment or repair, because, just recently, I have discovered that the venison does not seem to be ageing properly. Will you please let me know whom I can call for this service, or will it be necessary for you to send someone down?
As a matter of fact, if you will let me know exactly what sort of repair is necessary, I may be able to do it myself. The only fault I can find with it is this one compartment. The other sections are functioning perfectly.
TO attend to:
Look, here’s an outline — of some publicity plans that the publicity department submitted. I want it returned and will you please take a note to add to it:
Dear S. L: Sorry I can’t drop in with this myself and talk it over with you personally, but as you know I’ve got a pretty tough schedule over here on the Gone with the Wind set. Anyway, I’m sure you’re going to understand when I say that Carole and I have talked it over and have finally decided against giving out any routine marriage stories, especially those double-truck stories that usually appear under the titles of “My Wife,” by the husband, and “My Husband,” by the wife. It’s awfully difficult talking about each other publicly and, in sheer defense of our privacy, we’ve come to this decision. In the same way, we’ve decided to allow pictures of the exterior of The Farm, but are turning down requests for interiors … and, what’s more, I think you’ll understand. Maybe we might do it later, but not now. Thanks for giving me a chance to look over these requests and I hope I’ll be able to get in a day or so.
A letter to
Just to let you know that that cow which you planted on our front lawn before we returned from Kingman has since borne a calf … and so we are doubly grateful and consider it one of our very nicest wedding presents. Carole says we’ll save the christening until you come over, so be sure and give us a call.
By the way, it really looked like it had rained cats and dogs, sheep and goats, cows and what not when we returned. There were four-legged wedding presents all over the front yard and not a silver platter among them. We had open house all day and looked for your bright mug hourly, but no sign of you. Come on over soon, will ya?
Best from both of us,
If Jimmie Fidler calls, tell him that that report about our going to Europe on our belated honeymoon is a lot of baloney. You can tell him, though, that Metro has postponed “The Great Canadian” for a while to give us a decent break and that I’m going to have two months’ vacation, but we think we’ll stick pretty close to home, because there is a lot to look after around the farm. We’ll probably take just some short trips, hunting up north and fishing down south. By the way, will you please call some travel agency and get us a folder on Mazatlan and Acapulco.
Make a note:
REMIND me to order some turpentine. Last time I whitewashed the fence I got it in my hair and couldn’t get it out. We need some around the place, anyway. Oh, and will you find out how much electric clippers for horses are? They charge two-fifty over at the stable just to clip one horse and I think I can probably save money by buying the clippers. If they’re under twenty-five dollars, have them send out a pair. And will you call Mrs. Gable on the “In Name Only” set and tell her I’ll be late in picking her up tonight, because I’ve got to stop at the Tractor Supply Company before it closes and pick up a part. I just talked to her now, but, of course, I forgot to tell her about that. She spent the whole time talking to me about curtains!
CALL the phone company and request a new unlisted number. Mrs. Gable and I were awakened four times last night by somebody who just thought he was being funny. Those workmen around the place must have picked up the number from the phone, and I guess they’ve been handing it out to their friends. I don’t mind except that we’ve been working so hard lately we really do need our sleep.
Call Mike over at the barber shop and tell him never mind about coming over to give me a haircut. I thought I could get rid of this mop, this week, but we still got some more scenes to do
A letter to:
Pete Elmo, The Duck Club, Lakeport, California
Dear Mr. Elmo:
MRS. GABLE has asked me to request membership for her in the club, but I’m just wondering if my membership isn’t a family one and sufficient? Will you please let me know about this and, at the same time, I’m enclosing my quarterly dues. Incidentally, that advice you sent us about packing freshly killed ducks in lard, when no ice was available, worked out fine.
A letter to
General Hospital, Los Angeles, California
Just today the government expert has estimated that my grape crop this fall will be around two and a half tons. I would like to donate the entire crop to your institution, so am letting you know now, in order that you may make provision for it. If you will let know how you — can best use it, whether for wines or jellies, I will have it prepared accordingly.
Acme Oil Leases,
San Bernardino, Cal.
HAVE turned over your letter concerning The Hardrock Land Co. to the treasurer of this company, Mrs. Clark Gable, who has asked me to reply that it is the decision of the board that nothing be done at present about granting oil leases.
We purchased this land solely for our own personal use, as a hunting and fishing retreat, and we are not interested in promoting it commercially. Thanking you for your interest, however,
WILL you please phone a book store and order “Grapes of Wrath” for Mrs. Gable. And while you’re phoning you, might as well ask them to send along a new-edition dictionary. Mrs. Gable and I are always arguing about the pronunciation of some word last night it was p-r-e-c-e-d-e-n-c-e. She insists the accent comes on the second syllable. She’s probably right, but in the future I want to know I’m right before I start arguing!
A letter to
Mr. Spike Grimes,
Rocky Mountain, Arizona
THANKS for writing me, Spike, about the new camping equipment, but I’m afraid I’m not going to get down there this year — and a part of me kind of hates to say that. But, as you may have heard, I’ve married recently and I don’t think I’d like to take my wife on the trail of a wildcat, though I expect she could handle one if she had to. She’s heard so much about my hunting experiences down there with you that she’d like to come along, but I think we’ll just stick to deer and duck this year. Say hello to the boys, though, will you? And if things do get too tame for us (you can’t tell) we might show up. But I thought I’d better let you know not to count on it.
I think I’m going to be able to send you another customer, though, Victor Fleming, a swell director and a swell guy. He may write you and if he does, prepare the best for him and thus oblige your old pal,
WILL you please call Bob Taylor and tell him that I’m sorry but we can’t have them over for dinner this Friday either, because I have some night shooting to do. I guess we’d just better not make any more social engagements at all until we’re both cleared up with our pictures.
And, while I think of it, near that little section in your notebook, where you’ve got birthdays, etc., to be remembered, put down this: gloves, size 6¼; stockings, size 9; lingerie, size 32. I think those are the sizes she gave me this morning. Anyway, I want them written down, in case I go birthday shopping.
Oh, and the most important thing and date of, all to remember! Don’t let me forget this! Put it down somewhere in big letters: March 29, 1940. First year’s anniversary! And don’t let me forget among other things that I want to get her then; I want to be sure to buy her one limp pink rose with two feeble sprays of lily of the valley.
Some thoughts and observations:
* Thanks to the reference to the birthday of Lombard’s mother, we can pinpoint that item as coming from mid-June; Elizabeth Peters turned 63 on June 20.
* We learn how careful Clark and Carole had to be concerning their elopement. (Wonder if the sidewalk vendor Gable bought the rose from had an inkling of what was about to happen?)
* Clark, playing “safety director,” was trading in Carole’s convertible for a sedan, in fact removing it from the RKO lot. (For all we know, Lombard may have chafed at her husband’s decision, but she had driven sedans before.) And she probably understood that in a sedan, she wouldn’t stand out in a crowd — probably a good idea in her new role as Mrs. Gable.
* We discover that Lombard’s stockings often get caught on the rungs of the porch chairs (which will have to be refinished) and that she wears size 9. (Memo to Gable: Make sure and remember that next May, because Carole will want to be among the first to wear those newfangled nylon stockings.)
* Anyone know anything about “The Great Canadian”? Did Clark make that film under a different title, was it handed to another actor, or was it even made at all? (Have never heard of it until now.)
* The perils of celebrity are explained in the Gables’ need to get another unlisted telephone number.
* Lombard was probably reading “The Grapes Of Wrath” for her own literary enjoyment, not with a future acting gig in mind. There was only one significant female character in the John Steinbeck novel, and I doubt Carole envisioned herself as Ma Joad.
* The photo near the reference to Victor Fleming is of the director with Gable and Myrna Loy in 1938’s “Test Pilot.” (Just to remind everyone that Fleming and Gable worked together multiple times, not just on that film David O. Selznick made about the Civil War.)
* And I’m sure Robert Taylor and Barbara Stanwyck eventually did get to enjoy dinner at Clark and Carole’s ranch.
P.S. This week’s header pic is one of my favorites of Lombard, so full of joy and fun. And what red-blooded American male of the 1930s wouldn’t have wanted a roll in the hay with Carole?
Since it’s Valentine’s Day, let’s close with one of the great love songs of the rock era, “Dedicated To The One I Love.” The Mamas and Papas’ 1966 version, you say? Nope. The original version by the Shirelles? No, not that 1961 pop hit — and it wasn’t the original. That came in 1958 and was a significant R&B hit, but only reached #81 on the pop charts. It’s by a group from North Carolina called the “5” Royales, who had numerous R&B successes, but their sound was too gospel-like and down-home to register with white audiences of the time. Their best-known record is “Think,” which was later reworked by James Brown, but I think you’ll enjoy this “Dedicated” (co-written by the group’s fine lead guitarist, Lowman Pauling). In fact, you’ll note this was released on 78 rpm, in the waning days of that format, along with the by-then more familiar 45 rpm recording. This is dedicated to all you lovers out there…
Posted by vp19 on 2011.02.14 at 11:38
Current mood: loved
Carole Lombard may not have been as obsessed with jewelry as some other actresses of her day, but she certainly understood its importance as an accessory for milady’s wardrobe. She proves it in this color photo which was part of a 1940 advertisement for 1847 Rogers Bros. cutlery. (The company sponsored the CBS radio series “Silver Theater,” where Carole appeared several times.)
Another actress aided by jewelry was Lombard’s friend, Jean Harlow; one of the places she made it evident was in the 1936 comedy “Libeled Lady.” While Jean’s character, Gladys, isn’t particularly well off (not compared to Myrna Loy’s heiress character, at least, although Gladys does have a maid), she evidently recognizes and appreciates its value, as this still from the film makes clear:
To further illustrate, a close-up of Harlow with Spencer Tracy; note the brooch on Jean’s dress (as well as the radio and other decor from MGM’s crack set design staff):
That brooch was on display this past weekend at a memorabilia show in Burbank, Calif., and thanks to the people at the wonderful Jean Harlow Yahoo! group (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/jeanharlow/), here’s a color photo of that splendid accessory. Double-click on it to see it at several times larger than life-size; at that gargantuan scale, you can appreciate its delicate beauty:
I am not sure whether this was personally owned by Harlow or was part of MGM’s accessories department. I do know its current owners aren’t selling it, but merely exhibited it over the weekend.
To close this entry, a natural for today: the Rodgers and Hart standard, “My Funny Valentine.” I was looking for Elvis Costello’s stunning acoustic version, with no luck, but I think you’ll like this one. It’s the luminous Michelle Pfeiffer, from “The Fabulous Baker Boys” (with Beau and Jeff Bridges), featuring assorted clips from that fine film. A happy Valentine’s Day to all.
Sweetheart on ‘Parade’
Posted by vp19 on 2011.02.13 at 00:51
Current mood: excited
Autumn 1940 is approaching, and chances are when thoughts turn to Carole Lombard, they more often than not are in the context of her husband Clark Gable, only a few months removed from his triumph as Rhett Butler in “Gone With The Wind.” Some of it was because of the films Lombard had been making since the start of 1939, quality dramas in which she performed pretty well but not the Carole that had caught the fancy of the public — the beloved madcap of 1934 (“Twentieth Century”) through ’37 (“Nothing Sacred,” “True Confession”). Part of it was Lombard herself; now in her early thirties, she was temporarily subjugating herself to Gable, eying her future as a mother before re-establishing herself one way or another.
In the midst of this, a magazine called Movie Stars Parade hit the newsstands with its autumn 1940 issue:
The cover featured Gable and his three co-stars in MGM’s “Boom Town” — Claudette Colbert (her first teaming with Clark since “It Happened One Night”), longtime Gable pal Spencer Tracy, and European import Hedy Lamarr (who won the respect of a skeptical Lombard by making no amorous advances towards Clark).
Inside were profiles of some of the day’s current stars, including Lombard. Here, through the fine site DearMrGable.com, is what readers saw as temperatures, and leaves, began to fall:
A few nice shots, and a splendid lead: “Zestful is the word for this lithe and vital lady who has, and conveys, such abounding joie de vivre.” There are several errors, mind you; the caption of the picture of her with William Powell states they married in 1929, when it actually came two years later. As was often the case elsewhere, Lombard’s birth year was moved a year ahead to 1909, and in the ever-uncertain argument over Carole’s height, she’s shown here on the short side at 5-foot-2.
No matter — the name page, a stunningly beautiful sepia portrait, more than makes up for it:
While no photo credit is listed, there’s more than a 50-50 chance this was taken by Ernest Bachrach, RKO’s longtime photographer. (Lombard was in the midst of her contract with the studio.)
All in all, a reminder to the public that Carole Lombard was more than Mrs. Clark Gable.
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With Eddie, Oakie, plus the new, improved Gingery dog
Posted by vp19 on 2011.02.12 at 01:12
Current mood: thankful
Just as a classic era movie star relies on portrait photographers to give her that special look (as Carole Lombard did here with George Hurrell in this 1933 Paramount still, p1202-602), so does a blogger rely on friends to give entries extra kick. Two people in particular have done so much to make “Carole & Co.” the success that it is, and I salute both of them in today’s entry.
Tally Hauser helps upgrade many Lombard pics I come across, erasing watermarks (never to promote or produce counterfeit copies, mind you, strictly to show photos as historical documents). She sent me this image the other day; I’m not sure of the condition she came across it in, but it’s definitely something worth seeing — because it shows Carole alongside someone I figured she knew, but had never seen her pictured with:
Yep — in between Clark Gable and Carole is none other than the great Edward G. Robinson. And while I don’t know if Clark idolized him to the same extent he did Spencer Tracy, he probably deemed it a professional injustice that Robinson not only never won an Academy Award, but was never even nominated. From “Little Caesar” to his final film, “Soylent Green,” Robinson provided many a memorable performance. Like his Warners stablemates James Cagney and Humphrey Bogart, Robinson initially gained fame playing gangsters, but showed he had far more stuff than that. (For proof, watch his work as an insurance officer in the great Billy Wilder film noir “Double Indemnity.”) Off-screen, Robinson was a man of taste and intellect, among the most respected men in the film community.
Also in the photo is Jack Oakie, who made several films with Carole, most notably “From Hell To Heaven.” The remaining two folks I don’t recognize, but I’m hoping someone here does.
The other person I’m honoring in this entry is Carole Sampeck of The Lombard Archive, who has provided all sorts of assistance over the years and sent me a fun photo the other day. Unfortunately, her scanner wasn’t working properly, and the image wasn’t all it should have been. She just bought a new scanner, resent the photo, and I think this time you’ll get a bit more out of it. So once again, here’s Carole Lombard, Ginger Rogers and a charming Chihuahua protected from the chill via more than what nature provided:
I additionally sharpened it a bit to improve the background. You can make out the dog a lot better, as well as see the coats worn by Lombard, Rogers and the Chihuahua.
Oh, and regarding the dog…I asked for more information at the fine blog “Gingerology” (http://jwhueyblog.blogspot.com/), a great source for all things Rogers, and here’s what the administrator had to say about it:
Now THAT is a pic I haven’t seen before! Ginger with a chihuahua garbed in a fur? Priceless! Carole and Ginger must have been pretty good buds… nice to know that! As to the ‘identity’ of Ginger’s critter, well, heck…she mentions quite a few in her bio, but I don’t remember a chihuahua specifically mentioned… I’m pretty sure the little dog in ‘Shall We Dance’ was really hers — whatever breed that was… Thanks for the pic, VP!!!
Well, thanks really should go to Carole Sampeck, for both providing the photo and improving on our original transmission. And it is nice to know Carole and Ginger were pretty good buddies — though I would still like to learn if they ever faced each other in tennis. (While I don’t believe Rogers had any ties to world-class players such as Lombard had with Alice Marble, I hear she was pretty good with a racquet…and from her dancing prowess, Ginger was certainly athletic.)
Finally, a note for those of you with Turner Classic Movies in the U.S. Today, TCM is honoring that memorable year of 1939 by showing all 10 films that were nominated for best picture: Here’s the schedule (all times Eastern):
8:15 a.m. – “Dark Victory”
10 a.m. – “Of Mice And Men”
noon – “Ninotchka”
2 p.m. – “Wuthering Heights”
4 p.m. – “Stagecoach”
5:45 p.m. – “Mr. Smith Goes To Washington”
8 p.m. – “The Wizard Of Oz”
10 p.m. – “Gone With The Wind”
2 a.m. – “Goodbye, Mr. Chips”
4 a.m. – “Love Affair”
Pretty potent lineup, doncha think?
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Watch like an Egyptian (yeah, yeah, yeah)
Posted by vp19 on 2011.02.11 at 01:40
Current mood: giddy
…and no, we’re not referring to the tumult taking place in that north African land, riveting happenings if you’re following it via the BBC or CNN.
No, this deals with a place a teenage Carole Lombard was probably familiar with when this Fox publicity portrait was taken in 1925. It’s the Egyptian Theater on Hollywood Boulevard:
That’s how the Egyptian courtyard was decorated in 1924, two years after it opened, for Douglas Fairbanks’ swashbuckling epic “The Thief Of Bagdad.” I have to believe that the movie-struck Lombard saw a number of films there during the 1920s; it was the first major theater in the rapidly growing Hollywood section of the city, not far from where she and her family lived on North Wilton Place. No longer was downtown the only place for movie fans to see their favorites on screen, in splendor.
For all we know, Lombard might have been part of the crowd below attending the premiere of King Vidor’s “The Big Parade” (made by MGM, not Fox) in 1925. (At least one Lombard film, “True Confession,” premiered at the Egyptian.)
In 1927, impresario Sid Grauman, whose palatial decor for the Egyptian thrilled audiences, opened another theater on the other side of Hollywood Boulevard. The Chinese stole the thunder from its sibling, thanks in part to that little stars-in-cement ritual, but the Egyptian is still a stunner. Now operated by American Cinematheque, this famed venue shows a wide variety of films, enveloping its guests with nearly 90 years of cinematic history.
And if you’re in the Los Angeles area this weekend, it would be well worth a visit.
First, this Saturday at 10:30 a.m., take a docent-led tour of the place, getting a behind-the-scenes feel for this landmark. As the theater’s website notes, “See what it would have been like to be in a Grauman stage show with a visit to the dressing rooms and singers’ boxes.” (I note that one of the Egyptian’s stage performers was a teenage Myrna Loy.) “Check out our state-of-the-art projection booth and more! Discover the painstaking restoration work and the marriage of modern technology with a landmark of Hollywood history. … You will see the old dressing rooms, the singer’s boxes and the projection booth (not normally included on our tours).”
The tour lasts 60 minutes, and is followed by “Forever Hollywood,” a 55-minute film produced by the American Cinematheque that “celebrates a century of movie-making history and the eternal allure of Hollywood glamour. The unique story of Hollywood, the bountiful farming suburb, turned movie capital of the world, is told through interviews with some of today’s best known stars and filmmakers.”
It’s $5 for just the tour, $10 for the tour and movie.
But if you’ll be in Hollywood tonight, the Egyptian will host some welcome rock ‘n’ roll history at 7:30 and 11 p.m. — a restored version of the Beatles’ first concert in the U.S., which took place 47 years ago today at the Washington Coliseum, a fairly decrepit minor-league hockey arena several blocks north of Union Station. (The building still stands as a storage facility.)
The Beatles made a side trip to D.C. (where their first Capitol release, “I Want To Hold Your Hand,” had received its first U.S. airplay on WWDC in December 1963) in between gigs on “The Ed Sullivan Show” from New York. More than 8,000 people jammed the arena for the event, which was filmed. A month later, it was aired via closed-circuit to theaters across the country:
The closed-circuit telecast added concert footage from two other hot acts in early 1964, the Beach Boys and Lesley Gore. (Neither was on the bill at the Coliseum; that night’s supporting acts included Tommy Roe — who had toured with the Beatles in Britain the year before — the Chiffons and the Righteous Brothers.) While the Coliseum concert has been available from a number of sources, this marks the first presentation of the closed-circuit show, including the Lesley Gore/Beach Boys material, since March of ’64, and its visual and aural quality are reportedly first-rate.
If you were too young to experience Beatlemania (I was eight, and remember it well!), here’s your chance to see what it was all about, and what made 1964 such a vibrant year in music history. (And here’s something I find hard to believe: More time has elapsed between that concert and today than between that Lombard portrait above and the show date. How time flies.) Here are some fascinating recollections of that historic night in Washington: http://blog.washingtonpost.com/clicktrack/2010/12/paul_mccartney_al_gore_tommy_roe_and_more_recall_beatles.html
Tickets for the film are $11; for more information, go to http://www.americancinemathequecalendar.com/egyptian_theatre_events.
I think you’ll enjoy the affectionate late ’70s parody, the Rutles. Here’s their “Hold My Hand,” which humorously captures the feel of “All My Loving,” “I Want To Hold Your Hand” and other songs from this era:
A French ‘Maid of Athens’
Posted by vp19 on 2011.02.10 at 01:29
Current mood: artistic
Perhaps some of you are salivating over the subject line, believing you are shortly going to see an image of Carole Lombard in a French maid outfit. (If you are indeed salivating, please don’t do it over your keyboard.) Sorry to disappoint you, but that’s not what today’s entry is all about, as a check of the punctuation above would tell you. (As far as I know, Carole never visited Athens, Ohio; Athens, Ga.; Athens, W.Va. or any other Athens in the U.S. And she certainly never journeyed to Athens, Greece.)
But there is a Grecian tie-in to the entry. It’s no secret that through her many photographic portraits, particularly those she made at Paramount. Lombard often presented an ethereal, larger-than-life beauty (witness above) that evoked a mythical Greek goddess. (Of course, with her blonde hair, fair skin and features, Carole hardly looked Greek, so perhaps it should better be said she evoked the image of how Americans and northern Europeans envisioned a Greek goddess.) In early 1932, with the Olympics soon to take place in Los Angeles, Lombard posed for a series of photos evoking the Greek/Olympian ideal:
As it so happened, a novel came out that summer called “Maid Of Athens” (also the title of a noted Lord Byron poem from 1810), and the publisher used the image of a Paramount actress on the dust jacket. Guess which one they chose?
“Maid Of Athens,” by French Strother. Get the subject line now?
I thought I had that photo in my collection, but it wasn’t listed under a Paramount p1202 number. However, my hunch proved correct, as I found it elsewhere:
The photo, taken from a magazine, was credited to Otto Dyar, but that’s all I know about it. If it indeed has a p1202 number — meaning it was issued as an official Paramount publicity portrait — it’s probably in the high 260s or 270s.
So, what about the book?
It was recently put up for auction at eBay, but nobody bid on it, although bidding began at $9.99. However, it has re-listed at http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=260735283647, with bidding ending at 10:37 p.m. (Eastern) next Wednesday. Here’s how the seller describes the book:
Interesting to see the term “Duse” used here, referring to the famed stage actress Eleanora Duse; several years later, when Lombard gained renown for her comedic work, she would be described as “the Duse of daffy comedy.” Beyond the description, I know nothing about the book aside from that the New York Times reviewed it that August and it apparently was never adapted into a film (perhaps Paramount, then in severe shape financially, secured movie rights in return for allowing Doubleday, the publisher, to use Lombard’s picture). Did Carole get any extra money for her image being used? Probably not, but let’s hope she at least received a copy of the book.
As it turns out, the author — who probably had nothing to do with the dust jacket — is of interest, because he was a well-known writer and journalist of the time; this was his only novel.
French Strother (shown above in 1929) was born in Missouri in 1883. In the early 1900s, he began writing for the monthly Doubleday magazine World’s Work, covering a variety of topics. (You can read his report on the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco — which includes a good account on how technology had changed society over the past decade — at http://www.shaughey.com/images/PPIE/Worldworks_july1915.pdf.) His best known work is probably “Fighting Germany’s Spies,” a series of World’s Work articles during 1918 that were later compiled into a book. (It was reissued several years ago, to the delight of World War I scholars.)
In 1924, he spent a week with President Coolidge in a story for the magazine. Five years later, he accepted a job with Coolidge’s successor, Herbert Hoover, writing speeches and handling other White House tasks. He resigned in 1931, wrote “Maid Of Athens,” then returned to Hoover’s staff in 1932 to assist the re-election campaign (which, as any student of American history knows, didn’t do very well). Strother attended Franklin D. Roosevelt’s inauguration on March 4, 1933, caught pneumonia, and died nine days later.
It is sort of unusual to see Carole Lombard on the cover of a book she had no other connection to, but these things happen…and continued for several decades. In fact, I thought this had happened to one of Lombard’s most passionate (and famous) fans during the 1950s…
…but, as it turned out, at least Julie Newmar was said to have provided “analytical notes,” in addition to her cover pose, for the album “How To Make Love To A Blonde.” (However, if you’re a record collector and acquire the album, Newmar wants you to know this: “No, I didn’t write those insipid words that were said on the back jacket. At least the cover was decent.”)
In Fort Wayne, they’ll apparently have no…
Posted by vp19 on 2011.02.09 at 00:49
Current mood: amused
From what I know about Carole Lombard’s sense of humor, somewhere she’s laughing heartily over the following story I’m about to tell. It deals with her hometown of Fort Wayne, Ind., and a government center the city is building.
The public has been asked to name the building through an online poll, and so far the clear leader is a man who served as mayor for about 16 years, winning four terms before his death in 1954. While I don’t claim to be an expert on Fort Wayne politics, he apparently had no tinge of scandal about him.
So, what’s the controversy about? Well, his name happens to be Harry W. Baals. Now, say that without the middle initial.
Therein lies the problem, and why the building probably won’t have his name on it.
“We realize that while Harry Baals was a respected mayor, not everyone outside of Fort Wayne will know that,” deputy mayor Beth Malloy said Tuesday in a statement to the Associated Press. “We wanted to pick something that would reflect our pride in our community beyond the boundaries of Fort Wayne.”
So what does this have to do with Lombard, you may ask? More than you think.
On New Year’s Day 1938, a plaque was put up at the home on 704 Rockhill Street where Lombard was born Jane Alice Peters on Oct. 6, 1908. While Carole never saw the plaque at the house, she did view it (the plaque was publicity garnered by the wily Russell Birdwell to promote “Nothing Sacred”) before it headed east:
With Lombard is director Mervyn LeRoy, who was beginning work on Carole’s next film, “Fools For Scandal.” Guess who was Fort Wayne’s mayor at the time, and presided over the ceremony that Jan. 1? That’s right, Harry W. Baals. In fact, his name is on the plaque, third line from the bottom:
Alas, history has not recorded Lombard’s reaction upon seeing the name.
I’ve seen the plaque, and heretofore thought the mayor’s name was pronounced “bahls,” similar to Baal, a god worshiped in Old Testament times. Perhaps Lombard thought that, too. But no, he pronounced it “balls”; later generations altered it to “bales.”
His great-nephew, Jim Baals, is understandably upset over the likely slight. “Harry served four terms and was a wonderful mayor. I don’t know what the problem is,” he told the AP. “I understand people are going to poke fun at it. That’s OK. I’ve lived with that name for 51 years now, and I’ve gotten through it. I think everybody else can, too.”
I have no idea whether the mayor ever met Lombard. Her lone trip to Fort Wayne after childhood came in June 1930, and Baals didn’t become mayor until 1934. He was mayor in January 1942, so he may have traveled to Indianapolis to meet a hometown heroine at the war bond rally. And it’s possible he met Carole if he ever visited southern California, where many Hoosier natives relocated.
No matter what happens, Baals has already been honored by Fort Wayne, as a street was named after him. However, Harry Baals Drive was later renamed H. Baals Drive due to the double entendre. (This begs the question — why couldn’t the building be named the H.W. Baals Center, honoring the man without pandering to the Bart Simpson/Beavis & Butthead crowd?)
But, thanks to the Lombard plaque, at least one place in Fort Wayne will always have…
They’ve got an awful lot of film fans in Brazil
Posted by vp19 on 2011.02.08 at 01:32
Current mood: thirsty
If coffee isn’t actually in Carole Lombard’s cup for this photo shoot, she’s probably pretending that it is, which sort of leads us into today’s entry.
Had Lombard lived throughout World War II, there’s a good chance one of her duties aside from selling bonds might have been to help the U.S. government’s “good neighbor” program with Latin America. While relatively little actual fighting was taking place in that part of the globe, the nations in Central and South America were keys to the Allied cause, and American officials were doing all they could to keep those countries aligned.
Movies were an important part of that cause. Just as was true elsewhere in the world, American films — and their stars — were extremely popular with Latin American audiences, as we’ve shown over the years with samples of Lombard on covers of their magazines. Well, now there’s a way to learn more about how Carole and other Hollywood notables were treated in one major South American country…Brazil.
Brazil had two major film magazines during the classic Hollywood era: Cinearte (1926-1942) and A Scena Muda (1921-1955). Thanks to a contribution from oil giant Petrobras, the contents of these magazines has been digitized and placed online. The magazines have been called “documents of unquestionable historical value, essential to the recovery of the memory of national cinema, and exhibition of film criticism in Brazil.”
You can electronically flip through these magazines, consult them through the internet or search your content matters relating to the beginnings of cinema in Brazil. (And while Brazilian cinema has a long and healthy tradition of its own, much of the content deals with the U.S. part of the industry.)
Keep in mind that these are Portuguese-language publications, so it may be difficult for many of us who aren’t from Brazil to understand them. According to William M. Drew, who alerted me to this treasure trove, “Many of these articles were translated from articles in American publications, although there are also a fair amount of articles and interviews with the stars conducted by representatives of the Brazilian magazine.” (In other words, there was a significant foreign element to the Hollywood press corps long before the Golden Globes were established.) To check it out, go to http://www.bjksdigital.museusegall.org.br/projeto.htm.
Here are some samples of Lombard-related coverage. First, from Cinearte of May 1934, about the time “Twentieth Century” was being released in the U.S., but Brazilians wouldn’t see that for another few months; their most recent Lombard product was “We’re Not Dressing.”
Fast forward to Cinearte of August 1936, when Carole and castmate Alison Skipworth greet the wife of the Brazilian president on the set of “The Princess Comes Across” (I’m pretty certain that’s what it says!) as part of a feature showing Brazilians visiting the film capital:
In the January 1938 issue of Cinearte, you can find two things relating to Lombard. First, this brief, which apparently has something to do with Carole, Clark Gable and his wife Ria…
…then, this picture on the set of “True Confession”:
That May, Cinearte ran letters from several Paramount stars, including Carole and Claudette Colbert:
And no, we haven’t forgotten A Scena Muda. Here’s a column mentioning Carole in its issue of March 28, 1939 (a rather important day in Lombard lore):
We mentioned coffee at the start of the entry, so why not close with “The Coffee Song” (from which today’s subject header is derived)? Here’s Frank Sinatra’s 1946 version for Columbia, one of the many hits he had in that era. (Frank would cut a new version in the early sixties, and later in the decade would make several albums with Brazilian music legend Antonio Carlos Jobim.)
Two from the ’20s
Posted by vp19 on 2011.02.07 at 02:10
Current mood: curious
The 1920s, the decade in which she began in films, remain the great untapped area of Carole Lombard research. Of course, the biggest gap is that none of the movies she made before her 1926 automobile accident are known to have survived; if merely one of them resurfaced somewhere, it would be a major find.
Failing that, though, the online archiving of newspapers has become a boon for researchers, as we’re able to discover all sorts of heretofore unknown tidbits about Lombard’s life and early career. Two such articles follow.
First, let’s visit Dubuque, the picturesque northeastern Iowa town just across the Mississippi River from Wisconsin and Illinois…but we’re going back to Sept. 30, 1925 to do it. Turns out one of the local theaters is playing this new Fox film called “Marriage In Transit,” and there’s a brief about it in the city’s paper, the Dubuque Telegraph-Herald:
It looks to be something from the Fox publicity department, and it puts yet another dent in the long-held story that when a teenage Jane Alice Peters took a pseudonym for her movie career, she was known as “Carol” Lombard until about 1930, when a misspelled name on a poster led her to adopt the extra “e.” But she was referred to as “Carole” in a pair of Los Angeles Times stories earlier in 1925 (http://community.livejournal.com/carole_and_co/197042.html). Indeed, misspelling honors here go to someone in the galleys, who left out the first “e” in September (not to mention a few commas) directly above the story. (You can also see a few radio listings to the left of the story; in those days, people in Dubuque who owned one of those amazing devices could hear stations from everywhere in the continental U.S., including both coasts. Of course, back then radio was in its infancy, with only a handful of AM stations.)
Lombard’s comments about “busy Palm Beach widows getting fiances so mislaid” might presage things Carole would say a decade or so later, assuming this is something she actually said and not concocted by a studio publicist. It’s hard to gauge what kind of personality Lombard was like in her pre-accident days; she would later refer to her earliest film work as “terrible.” Here, she also admits a hasty marriage wouldn’t be something she’d do in real life, probably because at the time this made the Telegraph-Herald, Lombard was less than a week away from reaching the ripe old age of…17.
Now let’s jump ahead a little more than 3 1/4 years — specifically to Jan. 20, 1929 — and some 2,000 miles westward, to Los Angeles. We pick up the Times that morning and see this story, without a byline, in the entertainment section:
This article is a mite confusing. It says Carol (this is from the relatively brief period when Lombard eschewed the “e” in her first name) is appearing in “Craig’s Wife” at the Hillstreet in downtown Los Angeles; actually, the film she was in at the time was “Ned McCobb’s Daughter,” which also starred Irene Rich.
Actually, several other things are of interest here, not the least of which concerns itself with “Dynamite,” the Cecil B. De Mille film for which she briefly had the female lead but wound up reduced to little more than an extra, wearing the number three in this publicity still (http://community.livejournal.com/carole_and_co/11206.html):
Years later, when Lombard made her first appearance on the “Lux Radio Theater” series De Mille hosted, they briefly mentioned that he had dismissed her from the original starring role. But, as it turns out, that wasn’t Lombard’s initial encounter with the director. Here’s the story, taken from the second half of the article:
As Lombard is noted to have signed with Fox at age 15, this article apparently accepts the shibboleth that she was born in 1909, not the actual 1908. This would thus mean that she had tried to get work with De Mille in late 1922 or early ’23, while still a student at Virgil Junior High School.
Some of her thoughts on “vamps” are worth noting. “Time was when a vamp was as apparent in her methods as a saxophone player,” she quipped, but added that talking pictures provided such characters with more subtlety and texture — a revamped vamp, as it were. “But now that we’ve learned to talk, we can all be different. We can say it with wisecracks or roses, and the Canadian Mounties have nothing on us when it comes to getting our man.”
My thanks to William M. Drew, whose work on the initial years of motion picture history on the West Coast has proven invaluable (http://william-m-drew.webs.com/), for providing me with this article.
Incidentally, you may have noted we’ve once again changed the header photo. The one running this week was taken by Warners esteemed staff photographer Madison Lacy in early 1938.
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A pair of blonde legends (ay Chihuahua!)
Posted by vp19 on 2011.02.06 at 01:47
Current mood: amused
Every now and then, I find a Carole Lombard photo I forgot I had in my online collection. (I know that’s the case because the image hasn’t been resized, and the border is still there.) Once such uncovered treasure is found, I copy and upgrade it, then present it to you.
An example is above — a Paramount portrait from 1936, p1202-1344. I don’t know who took it, nor do I have a snipe available that could explain what this was promoting (it’s probably “The Princess Comes Across,” her lone film at the studio in ’36, though if it came out late in the year it might be to give advance notice for “Swing High, Swing Low”). Whatever, it’s quite stunning…and in the size I initially found it in, a scale roughly twice as big as an 8 1/2″ x 11″ glossy, it was pretty obvious that Lombard wasn’t wearing a bra at that session.
Some more treasure just came my way, compliments of Carole Sampeck and The Lombard Archive. It’s new to me, and likely you too, as it shows Carole next to a blonde icon whose centenary we’re celebrating this year.
Before you get your hopes up too high…no, it’s not the long-sought pic of Lombard and Jean Harlow. (If Carole Sampeck had such a photo, she might be able to retire from the proceeds of that image alone.) Neither is it a photo of Lombard and her RKO buddy Lucille Ball (who in her earlier years was a blonde, though I think her hair shade had darkened by the time she met Carole), which also would be quite valuable.
No, this image shows Lombard with someone she’s been seen with before; in fact, we ran that photo just the other day. We’re referring to Ginger Rogers (speaking of RKO), and while this second image of Carole and Ginger is not in the greatest of condition, it is fun to look at. Without further ado, Misses Lombard and Rogers…and friend:
Can’t quite make out the “friend”? Here’s a closer look:
Hope my computer work clarified the image, but just in case you’re still having trouble with it, said “friend” is a Chihuahua. And as Carole Sampeck remarked when she sent the picture, “Lest anyone think Paris Hilton started that whole Little-Dog-As-Accessory thing, here you go!” (If Ginger is reading this somewhere, kindly do not throw thunderbolts toward Ms. Sampeck for comparing you to Paris Hilton. She lives just east of Dallas, not far from Fort Worth where you grew up, and the Metroplex has suffered enough awful weather this week.)
Carole Sampeck later commented, “If you look closely, you will see that Ginger’s Chihuahua has its own fur coat! You can see its front paws protruding from the little furry sleeves. This is too funny. Wonder what the fittings were like?” We can only guess — and speaking of guessing, I have no idea what the little canine’s name was. I checked a few Ginger Rogers blogs, and none of them listed a name; in fact, none of them apparently had anything about pets she may have owned over the years. Perhaps such information was in Ginger’s autobiography, which I have yet to read (though I’m increasingly becoming a fan of hers). Some Internet searching did turn up that more than a few Chihuahuas are named for Ginger Rogers…perhaps because of the breed’s frequent gingery color?
I wish I could provide more information about this photo, such as when and where it may have been taken, but Ms. Sampeck didn’t know; she said Lombard “had it tucked away among her things for some reason. Jeannie [Jean Garceau, personal secretary for Lombard and Clark Gable] did not know anything about its backstory, though.” Lombard, ardent pet lover that she was, probably couldn’t resist the image of a dog with a fur coat (and not its fur!).
For all the many Ginger fans who are seeing this entry, a lovely picture of her sans dog:
And for all the dog lovers, a photo of Ms. Sampeck’s best friend, the remarkable Bailey (isn’t she adorable?):
To the glory of Va(-)Va(-)Voom!
Posted by vp19 on 2011.02.05 at 01:11
Current mood: excited
The term “pin-up” is rarely applied to Carole Lombard, though the picture above makes it clear that, in terms of sex appeal, she had what it took for the task. Then again, pin-ups came to the fore during World War II, and Lombard left us only 40 days after Pearl Harbor.
Even if Carole had lived, it’s rather doubtful she would have been a candidate. She was approaching her mid-thirties, focusing on having a baby with Clark Gable while also continuing her career. The actresses most associated with the wartime pin-up phenomenon — Betty Grable, Rita Hayworth and Jane Russell — were at least eight years younger than Lombard. And while Carole had no objections to showing off her legs in dresses or casual wear, she had stopped posing in swimsuits about the time she turned 30.
(Incidentally, does anyone know the p1202 number for the photo above? It’s impossible to read in the lower right-hand corner.)
These four portraits are part of a fine book I picked up not long ago called “Va-Va-Voom! Classic Hollywood Pin-Ups,” by Chris Chang.
The book, which uses photos from the esteemed John Kobal collection, looks at Hollywood glamour photography dating back to silent days, with pictures ranging from the sublime to the ridiculous (e.g., “holiday” art for Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas). It also looks at the phenomenon from a feminist perspective, and features a foreword by Mamie Van Doren, whose first direct exposure to Hollywood glamour may have come as a 10-year-old girl, when she saw Lombard and Gable arrive at the Sioux Falls airport for a hunting trip in October 1941.
“Va-Va-Voom!” should not be confused with a book with an almost identical name (which has Mamie on its cover)…
This “Va Va Voom!” (no hyphens) — written by Steve Sullivan — is also a worthwhile book, though it generally limits itself to post-World War II bombshells, not all of whom were Hollywood actresses. Its turf includes the likes of Bettie Page, June Wilkinson, Tempest Storm and Betty Brosmer.
One of the actresses featured in the Sullivan book has been profiled here at “Carole & Co.” (http://community.livejournal.com/carole_and_co/188038.html). We are referring to that still stunningly statuesque Lombard fan, Julie Newmar:
Julie, at 77 a beautiful woman in so many ways (for proof, visit http://julienewmar.com/ and http://www.JulieNewmarWrites.com),
has often cited Lombard and Hayworth as her idols; in fact, she has said that were her life story to be filmed, she would want Carole to play her. (Hey, if you can alter the space-time continuum to allow that to happen, you can also magically make Lombard at least half a foot taller and somewhat more voluptuous in order to portray Newmar!) Oh, and a memo to Anne Hathaway: study Julie’s work as Catwoman on the “Batman” TV series — forget the campy elements and focus on how Newmar approached her signature role — to get an idea how the character should be played (taking nothing away from Michelle Pfeiffer, who did a fine job as well).
Newmar, no stranger to pin-ups herself, will be one of the guests tonight at the opening reception for an exhibition, “Poster Peepshow: The Art Of The Pin Up,” at the Nucleus Art Gallery in Alhambra, Calif. Art from both vintage and contemporary artists will be on display (the show will run through Feb. 28). The reception is from 7 to 11 p.m., and while admission is free, it is limited to age 18 and up (ID required). If you’re in southern California, by all means go to see some fascinating artwork and meet an engaging lady. (And if you do see Julie, tell her the folks at “Carole & Co.” wish her well.) For more on the event, visit http://www.gallerynucleus.com/gallery/exhibition/263.
Looking back: February 1932
Posted by vp19 on 2011.02.04 at 02:14
Current mood: thoughtful
Our second installment of Carole Lombard items via Google News comes from a month when theaters around the U.S. were showing her latest film, Paramount’s “No One Man” (that’s Ricardo Cortez with Carole above). There are a few things of note here, and we’ll begin with something (almost certainly syndicated) from the Calgary Herald of Feb. 6, where Lombard insists the stories of those wild Hollywood parties don’t apply in the sound era:
Staying in Canada, we turn to the Ottawa Citizen of Feb. 16. It turns out Lombard is having a problem that’s apparently endemic to blondes (double-click to view it at full size):
We learn her favorite colors (at least in early 1932) were “chartreuse, bottle green, and pale, dusty blue.” (Also note that near the end of the story, she uses the Canadian spelling of “practice,” though I’m going to guess that was put in by a Canadian copy editor, not Carole.)
The next day, this ran in Florida, specifically the Sarasota Herald Tribune:
There’s no byline, but some of the prose — the frequent references to Paramount, adjectives such as “meteoric” and a description of “No One Man” as “perhaps the plum of her historic career” — indicate this is likely a Paramount news release. But one sentence is indeed true: “Being a sensible young lady, Miss Lombard has not allowed success to turn her head.”
Finally, Grace Kingsley interviews Carole in the Los Angeles Times of Feb. 14; Lombard and William Powell were among the guests at a home-christening party for actor Neil Hamilton and his wife. (Hamilton, a noted leading man of the ’20s and early ’30s who worked with D.W. Griffith and would appear in 1932’s “What Price Hollywood?” with Constance Bennett, resurfaced in the mid-sixties as Commissioner Gordon on the “Batman” TV series.) Carole talked of William Powell Jr., whom Lombard occasionally saw when her husband had visitation rights:
“Carole Lombard told us how clever William Powell’s little son is. She is probably well equipped to small boys as she was brought up with two older brothers, and told about ‘borrowing’ cigarettes for them from her mother’s drawing-room table and of making and smoking cornsilk cigarettes in order to keep in good favor with them, so they’d let her ‘tag.'”
Powell’s son would commit suicide in late 1968; he was only 43.
Ginger and Jean: Centenaries in ‘Silver’
Posted by vp19 on 2011.02.03 at 01:23
Current mood: nostalgic
2011 marks centennials for two of Carole Lombard’s acting contemporaries — Ginger Rogers, with whom she is pictured, and Jean Harlow, who was a close friend. Both provided immeasurable contributions to the classic Hollywood we know and love.
And if you live in or near the Washington, D.C. area, good news. Just as it did for Lombard in 2009 (http://community.livejournal.com/carole_and_co/179517.html), the American Film Institute’s Silver Theatre and Cultural Center in Silver Spring, Md. is celebrating the legacies of both actresses.
To be honest, the AFI’s “Jean Harlow Centennial Celebration” isn’t much, only two films, running from Saturday, March 5 to Tuesday, March 8. (Turner Classic Movies will be showing plenty of Harlow during the month.) But the two AFI selections are good ones, well worth experiencing on the big screen — “Platinum Blonde” (1931) with Loretta Young and the ill-fated Robert Williams, and the always welcome “Libeled Lady” (1936), where Jean delivers the laughs with William Powell, Spencer Tracy and Myrna Loy.
“Furious fun and racy romance,” indeed.
For showtimes and more information on the Harlow films, go to http://www.afi.com/silver/new/nowplaying/2011/v8i1/harlow.aspx.
The Rogers package, “Backwards and in High Heels: Ginger Rogers Centennial Retrospective,” is far more elaborate, featuring 22 films, beginning Friday and continuing through April 7. Most of February is devoted to Ginger’s movies with Fred Astaire, kicking off with “Flying Down To Rio” (1933), where the two are in support to Gene Raymond and Dolores Del Rio; their first starring vehicle, “The Gay Divorcee” (1934), follows.
If you’d like a good old-fashioned double feature, you’ll have two chances to do it: on Feb. 27 and 28, as the Silver shows “Star Of Midnight” (1935, with Powell) and “Rafter Romance” (1933, with Preston Foster), and on March 6 and 7, with the 1933 Warners pre-Code musicals “42nd Street” and “Gold Diggers Of 1933″ (the latter featuring Ginger’s mouth gradually magnified in a gargantuan close-up, while she sings “We’re In The Money” in pig Latin!).
By mid-March, Rogers’ later films appear on the schedule, including her Oscar-winning performance in “Kitty Foyle” (1940); two fun films from 1942, “Roxie Hart” (William Wellman’s take on the “Chicago” story) and “The Major And The Minor” (Billy Wilder’s directing debut), and Howard Hawks’ hilarious “Monkey Business” (1952). For specific showtimes and other info, visit http://www.afi.com/silver/new/nowplaying/2011/v8i1/rogers.aspx.
I’ve been to the Silver; it’s a charming venue, blending its original Art Deco charm (it opened in 1938) with state-of-the-art facilities and comfort. Plus, it’s a short walk from the Silver Spring station on Metrorail’s Red line. Jean and Ginger await your visit.
Street talk with Lombard and Loy
Posted by vp19 on 2011.02.02 at 01:40
Current mood: curious
As a result of our more than 1,450 entries over more than 43 months (and, at last count, a record 246 members!), “Carole & Co.” has received a special privilege: Every now and then, we receive transcripts of conversations Carole Lombard has with some of her filmland buddies up in Hollywood heaven. Here are a few Carole had in recent weeks with another fine actress and charming lady, Myrna Loy.
Morning, Jan. 17, 2011. Carole Lombard is sitting at a desk in front of a computer, turned away from it, when Myrna Loy walks in.
Loy: Got your message to come by and see you. What’s this all about?
Lombard: I merely wanted to congratulate you on your latest honor.
Lombard: (Smiles.) Myrna, my friend, you’ve got a street named after you.
(Myrna makes a face at Carole.)
Loy: Not the folks in Helena again! I mean, having the performing arts center named for me was sufficient.
Lombard: No, that’s not where.
Loy: Not New York City? Okay, so I spent my final years there on the East Side, but there were a lot of celebrities who lived in that neighborhood. Why single me out?
Lombard: (Shakes her head.) Nope, not New York — and not Los Angeles or any of the studios, either.
Loy: Well, then, where is it?
Lombard: It’s in, of all places...Beaumont, Texas! (She presses a key on the board, and the screen saver disappears, replaced by the image below.)
Loy: Beaumont, Texas? I’m pretty sure I’ve never been there — or should I say, never was there — in my life!
Lombard: Well, this was in their hometown newspaper this morning, and the writer couldn’t figure it out, either. I was hoping you had the answer.
Loy: I suppose someone, somewhere, was a fan of mine.
Lombard: Could be, but shouldn’t the neighborhood also have streets named for other stars, like Bill Powell? “Powell and Loy” is a natural intersection.
Loy: (Smiles.) Guess so. Well, I’ve got to be going.
Lombard: Take care. (She watches Loy turns around and leave.)
Late afternoon, Jan. 17, 2011. Loy is walking when Lombard, holding a laptop, comes out of nowhere and stands in front of her.
Lombard: Good news! The great Myrna Loy Drive mystery is solved!
Loy: Okay, so who named it after me?
Lombard: Well, as it turns out, it wasn’t named after you. Well, not directly.
Loy: (Puzzled.) Just what are you talking about?
Lombard: This! (She opens up the laptop, flips on a switch and the image below comes onto the screen.)
Lombard: Meet Myrna Loy Chambers, Beaumont High School class of 1954.
Loy: So why is the street named after her? Not that I’m jealous, just curious.
Lombard: Turns out her dad was the developer of the subdivision. His name was Loyd D. Chambers. That’s L-O-Y-D, with one “L.”
Loy: But “Loy” a middle name? A bit unusual.
Lombard: Hey, remember, in that part of the country, girls are often named “something Sue” or “something Lee.” In that context, Loy fits. (Pauses.) Don’t know too much about her, but she evidently was a good student — a check of the ‘Net showed that two years later, she was listed in the University of Texas yearbook.
Loy: If she graduated in ’54, chances are she was born in 1936 or ’37.
Lombard: About the time you were queen of Hollywood! (Carole performs a mock curtsy.)
Loy: You’re not taking that seriously, are you?
Lombard: (Laughs.) Only if I had won!
Loy: Well, if that girl had been born five years earlier, the only way she would have been named after me would have been if she was of Chinese descent. Some folks actually thought I was Asian!
Lombard: See you around. Perhaps you can join Clark and I to watch some tennis.
Loy: Not a bad idea — I’ll get back to you on that one.
Conjecture casting Clark and Carole
Posted by vp19 on 2011.02.01 at 00:59
Current mood: thoughtful
Today marks the 110th anniversary of Clark Gable’s birth, and the photo above is a publicity pic from his one film with eventual wife Carole Lombard, “No Man Of Her Own” from Paramount in late 1932. At the time, there was nothing going on between them (though that would change slightly more than three years later).
“No Man Of His Own” isn’t an entirely satisfying movie, particularly after the breeziness of its first half devolves into the moralistic melodrama of the second. But it has its moments, so in honor of Mr. Gable’s 110th, a clip from the film. Oh, and even you non-Gable fans will want to watch this, because the first minute or so of it features Lombard in lingerie (hooray!), a still of which is shown below as she hurriedly puts on pajamas:
Clark and Carole did have some nice on-screen chemistry, and it’s unfortunate that the only other motion picture footage we see them in are either home movies or newsreels. They apparently had no inherent aversion to working together again, but for whatever reason, MGM was cool on signing Lombard for a film (the only one she made there was “The Gay Bride” in 1934, a relatively unremarkable mob comedy).
The story goes that Carole did find a property she thought would be good for her and Clark, only to discover the rights already belonged to Katharine Hepburn…a little film she and Spencer Tracy would make called “Woman Of The Year.”
Here, though, we can imagine, create alternate cinematic universes. So let’s do that with Gable and Lombard — cast them in a movie that would be suitable for their respective talents. It might involve replacing Clark’s leading lady with Lombard, or Carole’s leading man with Gable…or a film that neither made (such as from the aforementioned Tracy-Hepburn matchups). Heck, since we’re fantasizing, if you want to magically transfer Clark and Carole to a film made after their deaths, even one in comparatively modern times, be my guest.
I’ll start with a movie they might have improved, and that’s to take nothing away from the stars who actually made it. I’m referring to 1941’s “The Bride Came C.O.D.,” starring James Cagney and Bette Davis (http://community.livejournal.com/carole_and_co/75449.html).
While Lombard — who was 32 when this film came out — might have been seen as a bit old to have played another heiress, her experience with comedy and younger, less weighty public persona than Davis would have made her ideal in this role. And Gable, like Cagney, had good comic chops and was no stranger to portraying a pilot. Could Clark and Carole have overcome Warners’ traditional ineptness with screwball? Maybe not, but it would’ve been nice to see them try.
What other Clark and Carole pairings could you imagine? Toss some our way. Meanwhile, happy anniversary to Mr. Gable.
Miss Lombard and Mr. Winchell, part 2
Posted by vp19 on 2011.01.31 at 02:34
Current mood: cynical
I only know of one photograph of Carole Lombard with Walter Winchell, but as the man himself might have said, it’s a beaut.
It gives a glimpse of a bizarro universe where Lombard and Winchell are entwined in romance, while Clark Gable — no stranger to roles as a newspaperman — readies to take notes. (This was taken at a costume party thrown by William Randolph Hearst; we know because there’s another photo showing Carole in her cowgirl outfit, at a table with Hearst himself. And Winchell was a Hearst employee, working for his New York Daily Mirror.)
We previously noted that Lombard served as a guest columnist for Winchell on two occasions. We ran the first one yesterday; here’s the second. Unlike the initial outing, written in the form of a letter to the columnist, this time Lombard actually deigned to write a column — about its usual author. Logrolling of a sort? Sure, but it makes for fun reading just the same.
(Editor’s Note: Walter Winchell is on vacation during the month of August. He will have a guest columnist replace him each day. The Winchell column will be back as usual Sept. 1.)
Things I Never Knew ’Til Now About Walter Winchell
By CAROLE LOMBARD
A Hollywood star often wearies of facing the camera and imagines it might be fun to turn the camera on the cameraman. So, after years of reading what newspapermen have to say, I’ve nursed the ambition to write about them. Walter Winchell is on vacation, so here’s my long-awaited opportunity to turn the pencil on the writer.
* * *
But before I tell you any Things I Never Knew ’Til Now About Walter, I’d like first to say something I knew all along –- that in a country where we tend to worship prizefight champions, golf champions, tennis, swimming, racing and baseball champions, the most worthwhile title of them all belongs to W.W., the champion of Americanism. I think that when future historians come to estimate his importance in the scheme of American life, they will point not to his title as the Father of the Gossip Column, not to his contributions to the American “slanguage,” but to his persistent activities as Public Patriot No. 1. For that, Mr. W., orchids to you from me. And now that I’ve dispensed with the posies, I’ll get down to the prose.
* * *
As a member of the glamor racket, I think the definition of glamor Walter published tops them all. “Glamor,” he wrote, “is when the wrapping on the package is more attractive than its contents.” I wonder whether Walter realized when he wrote those words that he himself has glamor.
* * *
At 35, Walter announced that he would retire when he reached 40, instead of retiring he made his first motion picture, titled -– significantly or not –- “Wake Up and Live.” He was 43 on April 7 and still going strong, very much awake and very much alive … He is lithe, blithe and slender.
His hair has been whitening for years and now adds distinction to his appearance. His eyes, which to me are his most memorable features, are electric blue. He is a good listener, as evidenced by the reams of news he gleans. He is a good talker as will be vouched for by any who ever heard him -– including myself. When he feels that his own conversation is more interesting than that of his companions he unleashes a rapid-fire patter of ideas and anecdotes. His greeting, invariably, is “What’s new?” And you’ll notice that the first and last letters of the query makes W.W.!
I don’t know who first said “It’s smart to be thrifty,” but I do know Walter is both. Not only did he coin the expression “Annuities Keep Headliners From Being Breadliners,” but he practices what he preaches, too…During the first World War he served in the Navy, where his job was, of all things, carrying confidential messages! (More than one wag remarked: “From gob to gab in one generation.”) … Hurt pride was responsible for his starting the gossip column –- acknowledged to be the most drastic innovation in modern journalism. He gave the city editor of the Graphic the first-hand tip-off on the Frank Tinney-Imogene Wilson reconciliation. Lack of proof induced the editor to reject it. One week later the news made the front page -– of another newspaper. That was the last straw -– the one that almost broke Walter’s back. Then and there he decided to capitalize on the gossip he heard around town, and thus he started his famous pillar of prattle –- which was eventually to be the outlet for my reportorial ambitions. (How am I doing? Without a director, too!)
* * *
Unlike the majority of movie stars, who adopt fictitious names, Walter actually is a Winchell -– although it used to be spelled with one “l” until it was accidentally set up with the second “l” on a theater marquee … His reputation for scoring scoops covers everything from fifth columns to films. He wrote that “Made For Each Other” would be a box-office success before I had even seen the picture!
* * *
Walter can afford the best, but prefers wearing old shoes because he finds them more comfortable … And speaking of shoes, I think the cutest description of my legs was Walter’s, who gave a typewriter picture of them by describing them this way, !! (If I had legs like this (), I wouldn’t earn much pin-money.) … While one of my pet pleasures is to prepare an elegant dinner, from hors d’oeuvres to dessert, I don’t think I’d serve it to Walter. He eats sparingly and rapidly, and he’s food finicky. Not a chef in New York but gets special instructions from the boss when Walter orders. Yet with such opportunities to become a gourmet, his tastes are simple to the point of naivete. When he was in Hollywood last, he had the town’s swankiest restaurant in despair with his order for “basted eggs.” “But there is no such dish,” the maitre d’hotel protested. “Don’t tell me,” said Walter, “my mother basted them for years!” He meant shirred eggs!
* * *
Like Charlie Chaplin, William Powell and Babe Ruth, Walter is left-handed … He generally awakens at 5 p.m. (he retires at 10 a.m.) and a little later has “breakfast” while Mrs. Winchell and their two children, Walda and Walter Jr., have dinner … On his desk he uses a pair of baby shoes as paperweights. They are the first shoes ever worn by his unmarried son, age 5 … I shall never forget the first time I met Walter. I was seated at a premiere on the coast with Clark Gable, just before the lights went down, and I almost swallowed my gum when Clark said, “Meet Walter Winchell.” Just to be cute, with all the feminine sweetness I could command I turned to Walter and said, “You don’t like many people -– do you like me?” … “I’m crazy about you,” he replied, “but don’t be too sure of me!”
* Lombard notes Winchell’s “Americanism.” Walter had been a longtime supporter of Franklin D. Roosevelt, someone Carole also admired, and was among the first U.S. journalists to warn of the Nazis and the threat they represented. (Following World War II, he drifted to the right, engaging in feuds with black star Josephine Baker, liberal New York broadcaster Barry Gray and the New York Post, a liberal tabloid in its pre-Rupert Murdoch days.)
* Winchell appeared in several films, including two with bandleader Ben Bernie, with whom he had a noted feud, albeit an apolitical one along the lines of Jack Benny and Fred Allen. (Winchell had a more intense feud with New York Daily News columnist Ed Sullivan — yes, the man who later had a long-running variety show on CBS. They eventually made up.)
* I had no idea what Lombard was referring to when she mentioned “the Frank Tinney-Imogene Wilson reconciliation.” An Internet check revealed it was a scandal in 1924 where Tinney, a leading stage comedian of the time who often performed in blackface, was shown to be physically abusive to Wilson, a renowned Ziegfeld Follies dancer who was not his wife. Their reconciliation was short-lived; Wilson was fired from the Follies, moved to Germany and became a film actress, then returned to the U.S., where she had a brief movie career under the name Mary Nolan. Later, she became addicted to heroin and at age 42 died in Hollywood in late 1948.
* I have yet to come across Winchell’s “!!” reference to Lombard’s legs (might it have come as his response to the loving cup engraved with “To Carole Lombard, who gave publicity legs upon which to stand -– Russell Birdwell”?).
* Carole notes that night owl Winchell “has ‘breakfast’ while Mrs. Winchell and their two children, Walda and Walter Jr., have dinner.” As it turned out, you could have put quotation marks around “Mrs. Winchell,” too. Lombard likely didn’t know it, but Winchell never officially married his second wife, something he never made public because he didn’t want the public to know his daughter Walda was illegitimate. Winchell had numerous affairs over the years, including several with film actresses.
Winchell generally gave Carole good ink, but what may have been the last thing his column said about her during her lifetime might have given her reason to pause. It was on Oct. 12, 1941, and under the alter ego “Memos of a Girl Friday,” Winchell wrote:
“When coasters last week reported that Gable was going hunting without Carole Lombard because she was ill — his studio phoned me to tell you it was untrue. That’s why I told you they were together hunting in Watertown, S.D., happier than ever, etc. … Well, today, from what I call an excellent source, comes word that Carole will soon file. Carole is supposed to have so written pals.”
“Soon file” was Winchell argot for “soon seeking a divorce.” If any Lombard “pals” had written word of it from her, they certainly didn’t let on, either at the time or after her death.
Like others in the press, Winchell continued lionizing Lombard posthumously; in fact, in his column of Nov. 8, 1942, he wrote: “Warning to that Broadway night club: No free ads here until it removes from the lobby display — that likeness of Carole Lombard — posing in a dated ‘cheesecake.'” He believed it wasn’t tasteful to be shown less than 10 months after her death, while World War II was going on.
Winchell continued his power after the war, but his influence began to wane in the 1950s, especially since he never quite managed to conquer television. He was somewhat satirized in the 1957 Burt Lancaster drama “Sweet Smell Of Success,” but by then he was largely in the past tense — probably the reason he was hired to narrate episodes of “The Untouchables,” the TV series starring former Lombard cohort Robert Stack as Eliot Ness.
Winchell’s home base, the New York Daily Mirror, folded in October 1963; Hearst moved him to its Journal-American, which expired some 2 1/2 years later. With fewer and fewer papers carrying his column, Winchell shut it down in February 1969, dying three years later. I’m not sure if Manhattan has a memorial to him, but he does have a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Incidentally, hope you enjoy my new header photo; it’s from Lombard’s 1933 potboiler, “White Woman.” We will attempt to change the photo each week.
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Miss Lombard and Mr. Winchell, part 1
Posted by vp19 on 2011.01.30 at 17:27
Current mood: amused
Few in filmdom better cultivated the press than Carole Lombard; she knew how to publicize her exploits in such a way that it was simultaneously significant and entertaining. That helped Carole immensely in her dealings with Louella Parsons, Hedda Hopper, Jimmie Fidler and others in the Hollywood press corps — but she also had plenty of success with writers who weren’t based in the movie capital.
One of them was no stranger to Hollywood, but was predominantly identified with New York; in fact, his column usually featured “On Broadway” in its title. Moreover, his influence extended far beyond the entertainment world, frequently venturing into politics, and he became one of the first multimedia stars, gaining high ratings on radio. It’s difficult to overstate just how big a force he was in the 1930s and ’40s.
We are referring to Walter Winchell.
Winchell had been a vaudeville performer in the 1910s, moving into journalism in the early 1920s — first with a trade paper, the Vaudeville News, then with eccentric publisher Bernarr MacFadden’s foray into tabloid journalism, the New York Graphic. In June 1929, he left the struggling Graphic for Hearst’s tabloid New York Daily Mirror, adding a radio show the following year. At his peak, his column was carried in more than 2,000 newspapers. Here’s a sample of Winchell’s breezy journalism, circa 1940 (double-click to see it at full size):
How often did Winchell write about Lombard? It’s difficult to gauge from a 2011 perspective. Most of the larger papers that carried his column were in the Hearst chain, are now defunct and are difficult to track down on microfilm. But I have found a few samples, two of them coming in one column — from the Hearst-owned Rochester (N.Y.) Evening Journal of June 29, 1936, while Winchell was out on the Coast:
First, Winchell discusses feminine film beauty, listing his tops in 10 different categories (oh, and apologies for typos that probably prompted a few snickers around Rochester that day — he’s referring to Gail Patrick and Kay Francis):
(A loud cheer for the Lombard legs!)
Next, an anecdote about being out with Lombard and Clark Gable — and a reminder that even 75 years ago, people often acted boorishly around celebrities:
Incidentally, Hearst would close the Journal in 1937 when he began having financial difficulties.
Flash forward to August 1938, not long after Carole had spent a week handling publicity for Selznick International Pictures. Just as Johnny Carson used to do on the Tonight show, Winchell would employ other celebrities as guest columnists while he was vacationing. Lombard got the honors on Aug. 2 (probably through Selznick International publicist Russell Birdwell), and wrote her column in the form of a “letter” to Walter. I couldn’t track down an original copy of it, but thankfully Carla Valderrama’s site, carolelombard.org, ran it a few years back — so here it is:
I tried to get you on the telephone the other day, but they told me you were on a 30-day vacation. Pretty soft! You see, I went into the press agenting business for a week, and I had a lot to tell you.
Before you make any cracks -– it wasn’t a gag. I took a desk, four telephones and two secretaries in Selznick International’s news bureau. The doors were open wide for six days. Any and all movie writers, radio gossipers, reporters and columnists -– you too –- were welcome to enter and hear the news.
You would have loved to have been here, Walter, when I called in Gene Fowler to be my rewrite man, and he interviewed John Hay (Jock) Whitney and David O. Selznick. Here’s how it went, according to Gene’s report:
Gene: Mr. Whitney, meet Mr. Selznick. He is president in charge of production.
Whitney: This is news to me. I thought he was part of the Roosevelt spending program.
Gene: How long will the partnership last?
Whitney: Forever. You see we are producing “Gone With The Wind.”
Gene: I hear that you have changed your racing colors since entering the movie business.
Whitney: Yes? To what?
Gene: Black and blue!
When I called you, Walter, I wanted to toss a couple of stories in your direction.
One was about plans to have the first transatlantic air clipper drop a wreath over the spot where the S.S. Titanic sank in 1912. The flowers would bear the legend, “To Those Who Showed The Way To Safety On The High Seas.” It is a dignified and newsworthy idea. Furthermore, Selznick is going to make a picture called “Titanic.”
Called the Duke of Windsor, Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt, H.G. Wells, Maude Adams, George Bernard Shaw and a few others on another idea — a round-the-world telephone poll on what noted people think on the casting of Norma Shearer and Clark Gable in “Gone With The Wind.” I couldn’t get a single answer. I defy even you to get past the Duke’s third secretary. As for the others, they weren’t in.
Governor Frank M. Merriam of California, I found out, is giving earnest consideration to “career insurance” for Hollywood stars. Nine extras, former stars themselves, who recently worked together on “The Young At Heart,” petitioned the governor for a law forcing present stars to save 10 per cent of their salaries for the future. The idea aroused widespread favorable comment.
By the time my week was over, Walter, I had handled 70 news stories, including one or two, I must admit, on my next picture, “Made For Each Other.” On the final day, they threw a party for me, and sent me out of the office with a three-foot gold loving cup, inscribed, “To Carole Lombard, who gave publicity legs upon which to stand -– Russell Birdwell.” The man Birdwell is Selznick’s nominal publicity and advertising head.
For stars who feel ego creeping up on them, I recommend a week’s trick in a studio news bureau. They’ll find that city editors don’t swoon at the sight or sound of so-called Hollywood names.
Time to sign off now. Here’s one you can have with no credits attached:
Did you hear about the producer who ordered a certain makeup man fired? The man, he said, made a star’s wig look too phony.
Well, the fellow told to execute the order slipped the bad news to the makeup man.
“But why?” said the man. “That was no wig. It was the star’s natural hair.”
“In that case,” said the lieutenant bouncer, “you’re canned anyway. Do you think I can tell the chief he was mistaken?”
Oh, that wacky, wonderful Lombard.
However, that wasn’t the only time Carole pinch-hit for Winchell. See another example in tomorrow’s entry — along with a famed photo of them together.
Something else that’s got it ‘Made’
Posted by vp19 on 2011.01.29 at 00:54
Current mood: excited
Let’s again use Carole Lombard’s 1939 film “Made For Each Other” as the basis for today’s entry. Here are publicity stills promoting the movie — first, Lombard with James Stewart; second, Carole, with baby in tow, meeting Charles Coburn.
However, the focus of this entry is on another still, one that doesn’t show Carole in character as newlywed Jane Mason, but a “glamour” shot. Back in those days, such pictures could be used on a newspaper’s movie page or in the “women’s” section; these images enabled the studio to build up the star and current fashion at the same time.
This stunning photo unfortunately lacks a snipe, so we don’t know who designed the outfit or other cogent information. The snipe was likely removed when used for one reason or another, but we can still learn a few things from the back:
This was used by the Hearst-owned King Features Syndicate, arriving in its New York office library on Nov. 14, 1938.
The photo is an original 8″ x 10″ in very good condition; there are some minor creases in the edges and corners. The owner is selling it for $225, and it will be available through 5:16 a.m. (Eastern) on Feb. 15. (For what it’s worth, the seller mistakenly believes “Made For Each Other” is a Paramount picture, when it was actually from Selznick International.)
If you’re interested in buying this attractive portrait, go to http://cgi.ebay.com/Orig-1930s-CAROLE-LOMBARD-Stunning-GLAMOR-Portrait-/270693440157?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_2&hash=item3f06961a9d.
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‘Made For Each Other,’ just a bit differently
Posted by vp19 on 2011.01.28 at 01:32
Current mood: curious
This photo of Carole Lombard was taken in her dressing room while she worked on Selznick International’s “Made For Each Other,” It was an important transitional film for Lombard, as she temporarily bid adieu to her throne as “queen of the screwballs,” something the snipe on the back seemed to indicate:
“REFLECTION — Carole Lombard as a serious-minded bride in Selznick International’s ‘Made For Each Other,’ in which she is starred with James Stewart in a domestic drama of young married love, her first straight role since she reigned as the queen of ‘screwball’ comedy in the screen era just closed. Picture also presents Charles Coburn and Lucile Watson, directed by John Cromwell.”
Selznick publicity genius Russell Birdwell was giving the screwball genre a premature burial, however; several good films were still on the horizon, including one made by Carole roughly two years hence (“Mr. & Mrs. Smith”).
Here are two posters from “Made For Each Other,” using an identical picture, but with several notable differences. First…
…a film that bills Carole ahead of Stewart (and don’t you like that safety pin “attachment”?). Now, a poster that uses the same artwork, but changes things around a bit:
Here, Stewart is top-billed, Lombard second and Coburn is added. So what gives?
Look at the smaller print and you may have a hint. The first photo correctly lists the screenplay as being by Jo Swerling, the second by “Joe” Swerling. A check of my “Made For Each Other” online inventory shows the same misspelling for this lobby card:
Underneath “Joe” is the line “Released thru Film Classics.” We know that in 1943, this firm acquired reissuing rights to several Selznick International films, including “Nothing Sacred” and “Made For Each Other.” By this time, Lombard was dead, Stewart an Air Force pilot and Coburn was not only working, but would win a best supporting actor Academy Award for “The More The Merrier.” So it would make sense that Film Classics would want to play up Coburn’s involvement. (As with its spelling, its rendering of the Lombard-Stewart photo is also demonstrably inferior to the earlier version.)
No matter which of these posters you may prefer, you can obtain 11″ x 17″ reproductions on eBay. Nine copies of each poster are available as of this writing; you can buy one straight up for $6.99 or make a bid. This will last through 12:09 a.m. (Eastern) on Feb. 8, so you have some time.
For the first, the original from Selznick International, go to http://cgi.ebay.com/Made-Each-Other-POSTER-Movie-11×17-Carole-Lombard-/180610429725?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item2a0d38731d. As for the second poster, the one that lists Coburn, visit http://cgi.ebay.com/Made-Each-Other-POSTER-Movie-11×14-Carole-Lombard-/170588520146?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item27b7de3ed2.
The snipe completes the story
Posted by vp19 on 2011.01.27 at 00:28
Current mood: productive
Perhaps a picture does
say a thousand words, as that old saying goes…but when it comes to photos from classic Hollywood, a snipe clarifies the pictorial language. Two Carole Lombard images give proof.
Take this one, for example — a shot of Carole playing tennis from 1935. It’s p1202-1178 (we think; that last digit might be a “3”). What is Paramount trying to promote? With just the photo, we can hazard a few guesses, but thankfully this has a snipe attached to the back:
And here’s what it says:
“NOT A BALLET DANCER — but one of Hollywood’s best women tennis players is beautiful Carole Lombard, soon to appear in Paramount’s ‘Hands Across The Table.’ This spirited action picture shows the blonde star during a heated moment of the game.”
The image appears more posed than “heated” to me — if Lombard were 26 years old today, I sense her tennis style would be a bit more aggressive — but no matter. We learn this was used by the studio to promote “Hands Across The Table,” something we might have surmised from the 1935 date, but this confirms things. (But the snipe is accurate; she’s not a ballet dancer.)
Another example is a fairly familiar still from one of Carole’s more notable films, “Nothing Sacred”:
Most longtime Lombard collectors have probably seen that image, of Carole’s Hazel Flagg alongside the fine character actor Charles Winninger. What more is there to learn about it? Here’s what the snipe says:
“RHUMBA TIME — Carole Lombard and Charles Winninger break into a rhumba at the conclusion of a gay whirl around New York, in which Fredric March led the way. The picture, ‘Nothing Sacred,’ co-starring Miss Lombard and March, and directed by William A. Wellman, has New York for its background and is made in technicolor.”
Of course, “Rumba,” without the “h,” was the other Lombard film of 1935. (And were Lombard and Winninger to take “a gay whirl around New York” today, chances are the itinerary would be far different!) But this snipe, composed by Selznick International publicity whiz Russell Birdwell, does its job by promoting the film, its stars and director.
Both of these images are original photographs, and both can be yours through eBay, although the deadline on their sale is just after noon (Eastern) on Friday. The tennis photo is available for $35, at http://cgi.ebay.com/Orig-1935-Pub-Photo-CAROLE-LOMBARD-playing-tennis-/200559527790?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item2eb247876e, while the “Nothing Sacred” image sells for $30 and is at http://cgi.ebay.com/Orig-Carole-LOMBARD-Charles-WINNINGER-NOTHING-SACRED-/200559525932?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item2eb247802c.
A Depressing situation
Posted by vp19 on 2011.01.26 at 01:47
Current mood: depressed
When looking back at classic Hollywood, it’s so easy to get caught up in the glamour that we often forget show business is as much “business” as “show,” if not more so. Mesmerized by Carole Lombard’s beauty and wardrobe, we overlook the work that went into her craft.
At roughly the same time Carole posed for the top portrait, she was working on her latest film, “Sinners In The Sun.” It’s the spring of 1932, not the best of times for the industry, and it’s likely that Lombard and everyone else on the production knew it.
The crash of October 1929 initially affected only those holding stocks; much of the country went on as it always had, and the movies, buoyed by the novelty of sound, did record business in 1930. However, converting theaters to talking pictures was expensive, and when the bottom fell out of the economy in 1931, unemployment soared and movie attendance declined. Despite a number of artistic triumphs in 1932 — a pretty good year where film quality was concerned — things didn’t get better.
In early May, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences convened some 400 of its members to discuss conditions, and what the industry should do about it. The fine blog “Hollywood Heyday,” which has been examining 1932 for some time now through newspaper and magazine articles, described what the meeting was like (http://hollywoodheyday.blogspot.com/2011/01/may-4-1932.html).
Said Sidney R. Kent, new president of Fox Film Corporation:
“The industry is in a very serious condition. The next few months in my opinion will be the most critical months the industry has ever faced. Grosses are going down and we haven’t yet been able to cut expenses enough. We have got to strike a balance, on the work of executives as well as of stars and directors. The industry must get down to brass tacks.”
Some outsiders probably expressed skepticism — after all, one of the reasons the Academy was initially founded was to give management unity in case its hired hands, whether technicians, actors, directors or writers, tried to form those dreaded unions — but even the doubters could see where Kent was coming from. He continued:
“In my opinion, a three- to five-year struggle lies ahead of the industry. I too would like to see a complete recovery by August 1, but I am not sure that would be best, for it is important that the industry come back right rather than it come back in three months with a half-cure.”
Kent blamed over-expansion in prosperous years for the business’ present difficulties, as well as problems arising from the introduction of sound into films such as limitation of the market.
M.A. Lightman of Memphis, head of the Motion Picture Theater Owners of America, said the industry had too many theaters, too many seats, and that some houses needed to close.
Warners mogul Jack Warner, shown with Al Jolson during headier times a few years before, “told of his own company’s being overburdened with theaters, and declares the acceptance of salary cuts essential to the survival of the industry,” according to an Associated Press account of the meeting.
But were studios listening? Maybe, maybe not. At about the same time the convocation took place, Paramount announced its forthcoming schedule of releases for 1932-33.
Some 45 features were on the docket, including several originally promoted with Carole in the cast: “Pick-Up”…
…and “The Glass Key”…
Other announced features she would be associated with or rumored to be doing, but never made, included “The Girl Without A Room,” “Hot Saturday” and “The Big Broadcast.” And that doesn’t include a partially-shot segment, which was never completed, of the multi-director movie “If I Had A Million.” (One film listed she did was “No Bed Of Her Own,” later retitled “No Man Of Her Own” — and she got the part only because Miriam Hopkins dropped out over not being top-billed.)
Universal, which unlike Paramount owned no theaters, announced its schedule at about the same time, and had only 26 films planned. To some extent, Paramount’s size and large roster of players worked against it, but so did its status as a director-oriented studio where top-down management was relatively weak. It’s no wonder the studio was soon forced to reorganize.
Yes, times were bad, in Hollywood and elsewhere. In fact, one actress who had quit Paramount — and the industry — not long before went to New York to seek secretarial work, but found no takers although she had office experience. So she decided to return west, a fortuitous move on her part. The actress? Jean Arthur.
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Serving up a Lubitsch five-course Friday
Posted by vp19 on 2011.01.25 at 01:40
Current mood: amused
Carole Lombard had known Ernst Lubitsch for about a decade before she finally had the opportunity to act in a film he directed. In 1931, Lombard lobbied hard to get the role given to the more experienced Miriam Hopkins in “The Smiling Lieutenant.” In 1935, Lubitsch briefly served as Paramount’s head of production — the only occasion in classic Hollywood history where a major studio gave a director that kind of authority — and while he didn’t direct any of Carole’s films, he had a lot to do with them during his brief tenure in that position (notably “Hands Across The Table”). For the rest of her tenure at Paramount, she was treated like the top-tier star she was, and Lubitsch’s guidance played a key role.
Lombard finally made a film for Lubitsch, what would be her last, “To Be Or Not To Be” (Lubitsch is shown on the set with co-star Jack Benny). It would be the victim of bad timing; the U.S. had entered World War II as production was nearing an end, and Lombard died shortly before the film’s release. Consequently, many people — not even some staunch Lubitsch fans — were in the mood to see this film when it came out.
As time went on, history vindicated Lubitsch, and “To Be Or Not To Be” has justly been recognized as a brilliant dark comedy. Friday marks the anniversary of his birth, and Turner Classic Movies in the U.S. is commemorating it with five fine examples of “the Lubitsch touch.” Here’s the schedule (all times Eastern):
* 10:30 a.m. – “The Shop Around The Corner” (1940). For many years, this workplace comedy of manners set in a Budapest store went relatively unappreciated, but now it’s being recognized as the masterpiece it is; there’s not one false note throughout the picture. An excellent cast, headed by Frank Morgan (perhaps his finest performance), James Stewart and Margaret Sullavan. (There’s a non-Lubitsch Stewart-Sullavan pairing at 9 a.m., 1938’s “The Shopworn Angel.”)
* 12:30 p.m. – “To Be Or Not To Be” (1942).
* 2:30 p.m. – “Ninotchka” (1939). Greta Garbo shows off her comedic chops (and how about that hat!) as a Soviet official sent to Paris, only to fall under its decadent spell. Had William Powell not fallen ill, he would have played the male lead, but instead that went to Melvyn Douglas.
* 4:30 p.m. – “The Merry Widow” (1934). Lubitsch made several memorable musical comedies at Paramount with Maurice Chevalier and/or Jeanette MacDonald. Here all three reunite at MGM for some frothy fun, aided by Una Merkel and Edward Everett Horton.
* 6:30 p.m. – “Trouble In Paradise” (1932). An elegant heist story, as jewel thieves (Herbert Marshall and Miriam Hopkins) plan to rob Kay Francis, only to have love get in the way. Many view this as Lubitsch’s finest achievement.
To get you in the mood for Friday, and to show “the Lubitsch touch” at work, watch this exchange between Lombard and Robert Stack — who’d known Carole since he was a boy — from “To Be Or Not To Be.” If double entendres can be deemed elegant, they certainly are here:
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Carole gets animated
Posted by vp19 on 2011.01.24 at 11:53
Current mood: nostalgic
No, not in that sense, though the event we’re referring to occurred while “Nothing Sacred” (and “True Confession”) were in theaters, briefly making Carole Lombard the hottest actress in the film industry. It’s Dec. 21, 1937, and Lombard and Clark Gable are among movie VIP’s attending the world premiere of a landmark film — and what appeared to be a monumental gamble. The movie?
Walt Disney’s “Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs.”
These days, with a new animated feature in theaters seemingly every week, it’s difficult to comprehend the risk Disney was taking with this endeavor. While the public had made Mickey Mouse, introduced less than a decade before, a global icon and Disney’s “Silly Symphonies” were also major hits, the jury was out on whether people would go for an animated film of feature length. The mere cost of such a project seemed daunting.
But Disney persevered, getting significant financial backing from the Bank of America among other investors. (One of them was General Foods, which made a million-dollar deal in 1934 to market Mickey Mouse and other Disney characters on boxes of Post Toasties; the feature cost $1.5 million to make.) A few days before Christmas 1937, Walt unveiled “Snow White” to the world at the Carthay Circle theater in Los Angeles.
Here’s how the RKO-Pathe newsreel covered it; while Gable and Lombard aren’t shown arriving, you will see Marlene Dietrich with Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Shirley Temple, Preston Foster and Louella Parsons:
(Incidentally, this event marked the first time Disney characters had appeared in costume.)
Other notables on hand included Charlie Chaplin with Paulette Goddard, George Burns and Gracie Allen, Cary Grant, Gail Patrick, Jack Benny, John Barrymore, Norma Shearer and Judy Garland. Despite a chilly evening, more than 30,000 showed up to watch the stars arrive.
Among those who didn’t have tickets? Adrianna Caselotti and Harry Stockwell, who voiced Snow White and the Prince. But just as their cartoon alter egos would have appreciated, this story had a happy ending, as Caselotti later explained:
“When we got to the door, the girl said, ‘May I have your tickets, please?’ I said, ‘Tickets? We don’t have any tickets —- I’m Snow White and this is Prince Charming!’ She said, ‘I don’t care who you are, you don’t get in unless you’ve got tickets!’ So, we sneaked in when she wasn’t looking and we went upstairs to one side of the balcony and I stood there watching myself on the screen and all those movie stars clapping for me. Boy! Did I get a thrill out of that!”
Caselotti may have been thrilled, but others involved with the project were nervous. While “Snow White” had drawn a good reaction two weeks earlier at a sneak preview in Pomona, how would Hollywood bigwigs react? Animator Ward Kimball took in the action — and guess who was seated in front of him?
“We didn’t know how it would go over. Walt was on pins and needles. We sat down. Movie stars were sitting in seats. Betty and I sat behind Clark Gable and Carole Lombard.”
And their reaction to the film?
“Clark Gable and Carole Lombard were sitting close, and when Snow White was poisoned, stretched out on that slab, they started blowing their noses. I could hear it — crying — that was the big surprise. We worried about the serious stuff, and whether they would feel for this girl, and when they did, I knew it was in the bag. …
“It’s hard to believe but the people in the audience were really blowing their noses. I heard all this noise and I said, ‘Betty, let’s run out and watch them come out in the lobby.’ They came out and they were rummaging around putting on dark glasses so no one would know they had been crying and their eyes were all red. They were wiping their eyes. It was a very moving experience. We knew it was a winner then.”
Layout artist Ken O’Connor said the audience not only loved the story, but appreciated the artistry that went into telling it:
“The audience was wildly enthusiastic. They even applauded the background and layouts when no animation was on the screen. I was sitting near John Barrymore when the shot of the Queen’s castle above the mist came on with the Queen poling across the marsh in a little boat. He was bouncing up and down in his seat he was so excited. Barrymore was an artist as well as an actor, and he knew the kind of work that went into something like that.”
When the lights came back on, Walt addressed the audience from the stage in understandable triumph: “I always dreamed that one day I would attend a gala premiere in Hollywood of one of my cartoons. Tonight you’ve made it come true. You make me feel like one of you.”
Even before the film had begun, the public had been buying advance sale tickets for performances at the Carthay Circle. Now the demand was huge. “Snow White” played at the theater for four months, with a Spanish-language version, “Blanca Nieves y los Siete Enanos,” shown there on Sundays beginning in February. By the time the first release ended, it had grossed $8.5 million, a record that would be topped two years later by Gable’s “Gone With The Wind,” which made its Hollywood premiere at the Carthay Circle.
The theater, shown during the premiere of another 1937 film, “The Life Of Emile Zola,” played a major part in Disney lore. Not only did “Snow White” premiere there, but it was also the first theater to carry a Disney “Silly Symphony,” in 1929, when most distributors were skeptical whether Walt could produce product beyond Mickey Mouse. So while the actual L.A. Carthay Circle closed in 1968 and was subsequently razed, it lives again 3,000 miles to the east, in Orlando, Fla., as part of the Disney Hollywood studio complex, and inside you can see photos of that historic night in December of ’37:
Incidentally, if you’re a “Snow White” buff, you’ll want to visit “Filmic Light: A Snow White Archive” (http://filmic-light.blogspot.com/), a site featuring virtually everything related to this epochal movie.
P.S. Hope you like the new look of “Carole & Co.”, as I changed the color scheme and put up a new header photo.
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‘Clang-clang-clang went the trolley…’
Posted by vp19 on 2011.01.23 at 01:54
Current mood: enthralled
Since “Carole & Co.” was created more than 43 months ago, we’ve uncovered all sorts of Carole Lombard memorabilia. Today’s entry examines one of the more unusual items, and it has to do with this:
These are riders boarding a streetcar in St. Louis during the 1940s (specifically, Oct. 15, 1944), and chances are many of them possessed something called the “Shopper-Theater Weekly Pass” issued by the St. Louis Public Service Co., the city’s transit agency. For 75 cents, one could ride all bus and streetcar routes that week from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. to 3 a.m. weekdays and throughout the day on Sunday. (In 1948, the pass price was increased to $1.)
I’m guessing downtown merchants and theater owners created the program with transit operators, as it boosted business for everyone involved. From the types of general shopping ads on the passes (no particular store was mentioned), it was a promotion geared to women — and one guesses a few of those shown above used them.
From the movie buff’s perspective, these passes are valuable memorabilia because each advertised a film coming to a downtown house (again, no particular theater was mentioned, just the movie and an accompanying photo). As it turns out, 35 of these vintage passes are being auctioned as a package at eBay, and the oldest of them is for…
…”To Be Or Not To Be,” Carole’s last picture (with a still from it shown at the top of this entry). This pass was for the week of March 22 to 28, 1942, slightly more than two months after Lombard’s death. It also reminds riders to “select your Easter apparel now.”
The collection advertises 34 different films (for some reason, there are two different cards for William Powell’s “The Senator Was Indiscreet”), and here they are:
Films advertised include “The Miracle Of Morgan’s Creek,” “Red River,” “Mrs. Miniver” and “Reap The Wild Wind”; and just in case you didn’t notice, “Meet Me In St. Louis” is not in the collection. (One presumes that if those were ever issued, they were quickly hoarded.) I have no idea whether similar promotions were done in other cities, nor do I know when this campaign began and ended. (The latest pass shown here is from January 1949, for “The Snake Pit.”)
Each pass measures 2.5″ x 4″, about the scale of the pass with Lombard’s image shown earlier, and all are in normal used condition. As of this writing, one bid, for $49.99 (more than the original cost of all the passes combined), has been made, with bidding closing at 3:39 p.m. (Eastern) on Tuesday. To place a bid, or learn more, go to http://cgi.ebay.com/35-MOVIE-BUS-PASSES-1940S-JOHN-GARFIELD-CAROLE-LOMBARD-/380309185103?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item588c31a24f.
As was the case in other cities, the streetcars in St. Louis were gradually converted to bus lines. Here’s one shown still running in July 1958, eight years before the entire system became buses. However, streetcars are making a comeback. Last July, federal funding was approved for a seven-mile line, with construction scheduled to start later this year and the line operating before the end of 2012. It will be called the Loop Trolley, and you just know that when it starts running, somebody on board is going to sing this Judy Garland classic:
A famed recipe to keep you chili
Posted by vp19 on 2011.01.22 at 09:55
Current mood: hungry
Earlier this week, we discussed the ties between Carole Lombard and Alfred Hitchcock, who’s shown with her and Robert Montgomery on the set of “Mr. & Mrs. Smith.” And it’s appropriate this is from a scene at a restaurant, because that’s the angle of today’s entry.
According to Robby Cress in his fine blog “Dear Old Hollywood” (http://dearoldhollywood.blogspot.com/), when Hitchcock arrived in Hollywood in 1939, Lombard and Clark Gable took him to dinner at Chasen’s on Beverly Boulevard, a restaurant less than three years old at the time but already a favorite of the film community. Hitch and his wife became regulars at the restaurant, usually on Thursdays. While I’m hardly surprised to discover that Lombard had dined at Chasen’s, this was the first definite link I’d seen.
Chasen’s, founded by ex-vaudevillian Dave Chasen — a good friend of director Frank Capra — had a star-studded (and loyal) clientele, ranging from George Burns and Gracie Allen to Ronald Reagan (the future president proposed to Nancy Davis at a Chasen’s booth) and James Stewart. However, as time went on, it became increasingly less trendy, and it closed in April 1995. Here’s the interior of the place as it looked in June 1987:
Chasen’s menu had many favorites, but it was perhaps most renowned for its chili; its adherents were legion. In fact, while in Rome filming “Cleopatra” in 1962, Elizabeth Taylor spent $100 to have it shipped to her (encased in dry ice). I have no idea whether Lombard ever had Chasen’s chili, but while the restaurant may be long gone, the recipe lives on, and you can replicate this famous dish in your own home.
1/2 pound dried pinto beans
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes in juice
1 large green bell pepper, chopped
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 cups onions, coarsely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 cup parsley, chopped
1/2 cup butter
2 pounds beef chuck, coarsely chopped
1 pound pork shoulder, coarsely chopped
1/3 cup Gebhardt’s chili powder
1 tablespoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons Farmer Brothers ground cumin
1. Rinse the beans, picking out debris. Place beans in a Dutch oven with water to cover. Boil for two minutes. Remove from heat. Cover and let stand one hour. Drain off liquid.
2. Rinse beans again. Add enough fresh water to cover beans. Bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for one hour or until tender.
3. Stir in tomatoes and their juice. Simmer five minutes. In a large skillet saute bell pepper in oil for five minutes. Add onion and cook until tender, stirring frequently. Stir in the garlic and parsley. Add mixture to bean mixture. Using the same skillet, melt the butter and saute beef and pork chuck until browned. Drain. Add to bean mixture along with the chili powder, salt, pepper and cumin.
4. Bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for one hour. Uncover and cook 30 minutes more or to desired consistency. Chili shouldn’t be too thick — it should be somewhat liquid but not runny like soup. Skim off excess fat and serve.
Makes 10 cups, or six main dish servings.
It’s delectable just looking at it, a dish that could really warm you up. One wonders if Carole brought some by for Clark on that cool June evening in ’38 when he was filming “Too Hot To Handle.” (If so, I hope there was some left over for Myrna Loy and the others on hand.)
Springtime at the ‘Rocky’
Posted by vp19 on 2011.01.21 at 01:11
Current mood: cold
It’s an uncharacteristically chilly June night in southern California in 1938, and Carole Lombard pays a visit to Clark Gable on the set of his MGM picture, the ironically named “Too Hot To Handle.” (The weird curl atop Lombard’s head predicts “There’s Something About Mary” some 60 years later; could this photo be why some compare Cameron Diaz to Carole?)
Nine months later, temperatures cold more than 1,000 miles to the east, in Denver, Colo. — though it’s expected to get above freezing on this March 30, 1939 — but the many fans of Clark and Carole have something to warm themselves up with: They’ve finally married!
The report comes from the Rocky Mountain News, a Scripps-Howard newspaper (the chain’s trademark lighthouse is in the upper left-hand corner) which had a long and legendary rivalry with the Denver Post. For decades, the News and Post went at it, and as late as the 1990s, both papers had good circulation and were selling plenty of advertising. But the Post gradually gained the upper hand, and the “Rocky,” as locals nicknamed it, published its final edition in late February 2009 — two months shy of its 150th anniversary.
Here’s a greyscale closeup of the Gable-Lombard story, though the copy is difficult to read:
This 16-page newspaper, in good condition, can be yours, whether you’re seeking a keepsake of Lombard or Gable, a famed newspaper now defunct, or both. It measures 16″ x 23″, and bids start at $9.99. No bids have been made as of this writing, and bids close soon — 7:23 p.m. (Eastern) tonight.
Think you’re interested? Then go to http://cgi.ebay.com/0212230S-HOLLYWOOD-CAROLE-LOMBARD-CLARK-GABLE-WED-1939-/290523197010?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item43a4882e52.
Oh, and to those people in Denver: Just wait a few hours. Given that city’s notoriously variable weather, you may have a heat wave before April Fool’s Day. (But you knew that.)
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Posted by vp19 on 2011.01.20 at 01:05
Current mood: impressed
Incredible picture, isn’t it? It’s part of a group scene from a party in February 1936, and it shows Carole Lombard with good friend Marion Davies and Douglas Fairbanks…senior at top, junior below him. Now that’s a dynasty — and speaking of such, today marks a major anniversary for another American dynasty; it was 50 years ago today that John F. Kennedy took the oath of office as president of the United States.
So what do the two events have in common? Marion Davies, that’s what. She’s somewhere on the stand, fairly close to the new president, though to be honest I can’t specifically pinpoint her. (She is reportedly behind the Kennedy family.) She was there as a guest of JFK’s father, Joseph P. Kennedy, a longtime friend from his days as a filmland mogul. Marion had also contributed money, and time, to John’s campaign, letting him and his entourage stay at her Beverly Hills home while the Democratic convention was being held in Los Angeles in July 1960.
(Imagine if something similar happened in today’s environment of highly-charged talk radio and cable TV — a presidential candidate getting help from, and then paying tribute to, a woman who had been a longtime mistress. We would never hear the end of it, regardless of which party or ideology was involved.)
Davies was relatively apolitical compared to some other Hollywood notables who aided the Kennedy campaign. (Myrna Loy, a longtime Democratic activist, made appearances on behalf of JFK, and it is said her visit to Syracuse, N.Y., my hometown at the time, helped put that city in the Kennedy camp.) But, as said, Marion felt obliged to help a family friend.
Davies also used her considerable wealth in other ways; in October 1960, a children’s medical wing at UCLA was opened and named for her after she donated $1.5 million. With extensive real estate holdings and a good business sense, Davies was worth about $20 million in 1960.
Marion could still be charming, but she was now in her sixties and it had been close to a decade after William Randolph Hearst, the man she dearly loved but could never marry, had died at age 88. Alcoholism had taken its toll on her. This is one of the last photos ever taken of Davies, in 1959 with her husband, Horace Brown:
The Kennedy inauguration was essentially a public last hurrah for Davies. She was suffering from cancer of the jaw that would result in some disfigurement, and not long after returning from the east, she broke her leg. She was hospitalized much of the summer of 1961, took a turn for the worse and died in Los Angeles on Sept. 22.
To commemorate this historic anniversary, here is Kennedy’s complete inaugural address, just as Davies witnessed it close to the new president. It remains stirring oratory, and if all you’ve ever heard from it is the phrase “ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country,” I think you will more fully comprehend this speech, and how Kennedy inspired millions. Embedding of the address — from the JFK library — has been disabled by request, but you can see and hear it at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PEC1C4p0k3E.
On this day 69 years ago Carole Lombard Gable and her mother Elizabeth K. Peters were laid to rest in the Great Mausoleum of Forest Lawn, in Glendale, California much as she had requested. The entombment was preceded by a brief invitation only funeral service in Forest Lawn’s Church of the Recessional.
One of the invitations to the funeral service.
The Church of the Recessional in Forest Lawn, Glendale.
Recently I read the archive of the Los Angeles Times for a description of this event. There were 46 invited guests who attended the funeral service that was held shortly after both Carole’s and her mother’s remains were returned from Las Vegas by train with Clark Gable accompanying them.
The invitees included amongst others: Clark Gable’s father; Carole’s two brothers, Frederich and Stewart; Madalynne Fields Lang, Carole longtime friend and former secretary, (her husband, Walter Lange served as a pall bearer); Dixie Pantages Karlson, Carole’s lifetime friend and her husband, director Phil Karlson; William Powell, Lombard’s first husband and his wife, “Mousie”; Spencer Tracy and his wife Louise Treadwell Tracy; Jean Garceau, Carole’s last and then Gable’s secretary and actress Myna Loy. Lewis B. Mayer, Eddie Mannix and Howard Strickling represented MGM.
Clark Gable entered the chapel quitely through a private family entrance. He sat with his father and an MGM official, unseen by the other attendees in a family alcove, “inconsolable and unapproachable”.
The private family entrance to the Church of the Recessional.
Among Carole’s pall bearers were Walter Lang, the film director and husband of Madalynne Fields, and Zeppo Marx, the comedian/actor, agent and longtime friend of Carole. Both Walter Lang and Zeppo Marx along with Stewart Peters, Carole’s brother, had served as pall bearers seven and a half years earlier at the funeral of Russ Columbo. Carole’s casket was also covered with a pall of white gardenias, with orchids added.
Zeppo Marx, Walter Lang and Stewart Peters serving as pall bearers for Russ Columbo. Russ’ coffin is covered by a pall of gardenias, a gift from Carole. The pall bearers also wear them.
After the brief service in the Church of the Recessional which consisted of two readings of psalms and a work of poetry, Carole and her mother’s remains were tranported the short distance to the Sanctuary of Trust in the Great Mausoleum where they were entombed side by side. (A carefully folded white dress had been placed inside Carole’s coffin before it was sealed.)
The main entrance to the Great Mausoleum.
Almost nineteen years later, Clark Gable was buried alongside of Carole and her mother. And twenty three years after that Kathleen (Kay) Gable, Clark’s fifth wife and widow, was buried discretely in the same alcove, one row beneath and three positions to the left of her late husband.
Elizabeth Peters and her daughter, Carole, in Chicago, one week earlier on January 14, 1942.
Rarities not ‘To Be’ forgotten
Posted by vp19 on 2011.01.19 at 01:28
Current mood: melancholy
Above is a fairly common still from “To Be Or Not To Be,” Carole Lombard’s final film. Two considerably rarer images from the movie, both originals, have just been put up for sale at eBay. Both measure 8″ x 10″ and are sepia-toned.
First, we see Lombard’s character, Maria Tura, looking at Professor Siletsky:
Next, a far more upset Maria being taken captive by the Nazis:
These photos are being sold together for $100; I do not know whether they were issued before Lombard’s death. If interested, go to http://cgi.ebay.com/NOT-42-CAROLE-LOMBARD-2-ORIGINAL-STILLS-/160518873339?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item255faba0fb.
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Two, new, to view
Posted by vp19 on 2011.01.18 at 00:31
Current mood: curious
The merry-go-round of Carole Lombard items at eBay has been a largely unexciting carousel of late, at least from my perspective. Sure, there are plenty of items — nearly 1,700 as of last count — but many of them are things I’ve viewed before, didn’t sell on previous go-rounds and have been brought back by the sellers for another try.
However, I did see a pair of Lombard images that I didn’t recognize, and so I thought I’d share them with you. Because of watermarks in the lower right-hand corner, the p1202 numbers are obscured, preventing me from supplying them to you. But from Carole’s appearance, I’m guessing these were made between 1934 and 1937, her final few years at Paramount.
Both of these images are 8″ x10″, and each are being sold for $9.95. First up:
It appears Lombard is holding a cigarette between the fingers of her left hand, and the angle of her pose sets off her eyes. You can learn more about this pic — or buy it — by going to http://cgi.ebay.com/CAROLE-LOMBARD-8X10-PHOTO-4622-/270531576039?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item3efcf040e7.
The next shot is also cross-legged, but somewhat more sober, featuring a contemplative Carole:
Just what is on her mind? I couldn’t venture to guess an answer, but if you want to buy it and figure it out, visit http://cgi.ebay.com/CAROLE-LOMBARD-8X10-PHOTO-4612-/270531576089?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item3efcf04119.
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CMBA Hitchcock Blogathon: ‘Mr. & Mrs. Smith’
Posted by vp19 on 2011.01.17 at 00:26
Current mood: accomplished
For many years, “Mr. & Mrs. Smith” was a cinematic orphan of sorts. It was snubbed by the Alfred Hitchcock community (“It wasn’t true Hitch; after all, it was a comedy!”) and only grudgingly accepted by Carole Lombard fans, often for the opposite reason (“It’s an OK movie –- disregard who directed it”).
Hitchcock himself didn’t help much with his responses the few times he was asked about the film, saying little other than that he had done it as a favor to Lombard, who’s shown above directing him in his customary cameo. (And that may be true; Hitch’s first American home was the St. Cloud Road residence that Carole rented to him following her marriage to Clark Gable.) And in 2005, memories of the movie were further muddled when Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie did an unrelated film of the same name -– though it was an adaptation of a novel by that title.
In recent years, the 1941 “Mr. & Mrs. Smith” has undergone a re-evaluation. To be sure, it’s still an anomaly in the Hitchcock canon, and will likely always be seen as such, but it’s moved up a bit in the Lombard hierarchy -– maybe not alongside her “big four” of “Twentieth Century,” “My Man Godfrey,” “Nothing Sacred” and “To Be Or Not To Be,” but as part of a highly-regarded second tier with “Hands Across The Table,” “Virtue” and “Vigil In The Night” (the last of these a heavy drama more respected than loved). And while romantic comedy may not have been Hitch’s forte, he did have a sense of humor about his work, and that adds to the “Smith” allure, which is probably why Lombard wanted him to direct.
Two other factors have worked against “Mr. & Mrs. Smith.” The first is its theme — the marital squabbles of a Manhattan couple, leading to their separation and their comical attempts at one-upsmanship. Sounds a lot like “The Awful Truth,” doesn’t it? (“Truth” was frequently adapted for radio, including a 1940 version starring Lombard and Robert Young.) While “Mr. & Mrs. Smith” doesn’t quite hit the heights of the film “The Awful Truth,” and it actually takes the concept in a slightly different direction, Norman Krasna’s script is nonetheless appealing, if dated in many ways. (More on that later.)
Many believe the male lead is a second drawback to “Smith,” in that he’s not Cary Grant (whom Lombard, as de facto producer, sought but couldn’t get), who had starred in “Truth” with Irene Dunne. Fate would thus deny film buffs a chance to see the king and queen of the screwball comedy co-starring in that genre. We instead get Robert Montgomery, who might not have had Cary’s charisma but was an accomplished actor and fine farceur in his own right. (However, his personality is at times overpowered by Lombard’s, something that probably wouldn’t have happened with Grant in that role.)
It’s important to remember that when this film was made in late 1940 (then released in early 1941), Hitchcock wasn’t yet Hitchcock in the eyes of U.S. moviegoers. Yes, he had achieved American success with “Rebecca” and “Foreign Correspondent,” and his British films had gained him some earlier stateside renown, but he hadn’t yet become a “brand name.” No, the big angle for “Mr. & Mrs. Smith” was Carole’s return to comedy after several dramatic roles that, while generally well-received by critics, did tepidly at the box office.
And Hitchcock photographs Lombard lovingly. Her initial scene, where she peeks out from under a blanket, is sublime, and that elegant sex appeal lasts throughout the movie. Whether it was Hitchcock’s direction or simply returning to the genre she was most comfortable in, she seems liberated from her previous serious self.
Hitchcock also provides a bit of a chilling undercurrent, as if he were saying to the audience, “Were there no Production Code, just imagine where I’d take these characters.” For example, take the Ferris wheel scene, where Carole’s character Ann and her (ex-)husband David’s best friend -– among those trying to woo her now that her marriage to David technically never took place -– ride, only to be stopped at the top when the power goes out…and it starts raining. The way it’s handled, you can almost sense Hitch’s macabre glee.
Hitchcock also adds a tone of despair, rare for the romantic comedy, when Ann and David, hoping to rekindle the flame, return to the Italian restaurant where their courtship began. The place has fallen on hard times; no one dines there any more aside from a few cats, and a multi-ethnic crew of urchins stares at the couple as if to wonder, “What are you two doing here?”
Perhaps the most jarring scene in “Mr. & Mrs. Smith,” at least from a 2011 perspective, comes when Ann -– who now lives on her own after throwing David out of the apartment they had called home -– gets a job in a department store, only to have David come in and tell store officials she is his wife. Ann is then fired, as the manager explains that it is store policy “not to employ married women.” That, of course, would be illegal today (and likely lead to boycotts of that store), but with the economy not entirely up to full speed in 1940 and unemployment still a problem for many families, two-paycheck households were frowned upon. (Some 70 years later, many two-paycheck households can barely make ends meet!)
Carole Lombard’s premature death has led to many “what-ifs,” and one of them deals with Hitch. Might she have joined the ranks of the “Hitchcock blondes,” assuming she technically wasn’t one already? (Many place a Ford Frick-style asterisk beside her name because she was in a comedy.) It’s easy to look at Hitch’s later films, note the female lead and then substitute Carole (though it only goes so far, since by the 1950s she would have been too old to have played roles that went to Grace Kelly, Kim Novak or Eva Marie Saint), but it’s also simplistic.
Had Hitchcock wanted Lombard for a project, he likely would have found a property that best suited her -– and that might have been something he never actually filmed. (Some claim Carole wasn’t “icy” enough to have been a prototypical Hitchcock blonde. But as was the case with Lombard and Columbia mogul Harry Cohn, her give-and-take — the ability to challenge a man on his own terms –- won Hitch’s admiration.)
It’s entirely possible Hitchcock and Lombard might have collaborated in a different manner. Several stars began producing films after World War II, and with her keen interest in the business side of the industry, there’s a very good chance Carole would have gone in that direction –- and not only for films she would have appeared in. Perhaps she would have sought Hitch to make a film or two for her production company.
Interesting things to ponder while watching -– and belatedly appreciating -– “Mr. & Mrs. Smith.”
Note: The other Hitchcock blogathon reviews are in; find them at http://clamba.blogspot.com/. Films reviewed are:
“The Birds” -– Classic Film & TV Café
“Dial M for Murder” -– True Classics: The ABCs of Film
“The Lady Vanishes” -– MacGuffin Movies
“Lifeboat” -– Classicfilmboy’s Movie Paradise
“The Man Who Knew Too Much” (1956) -– Reel Revival
“Marnie” -– My Love of Old Hollywood
“North By Northwest” -– Bette’s Classic Movie Blog
“Notorious” -– Twenty Four Frames
“The Pleasure Garden” -– Thrilling Days of Yesteryear
“Rear Window” -– Java’s Journey
“Rebecca” -– ClassicBecky’s Film and Literary Review
“Rope” –- Kevin’s Movie Corner
“Shadow of a Doubt” -– Great Entertainers Media Archive
“The 39 Steps” -– Garbo Laughs
Three classic Hitchcock killers -– The Lady Eve’s Reel Life
“Torn Curtain” — Via Margutta 51
“The Trouble with Harry” -– Bit Part Actors
“Vertigo” -– Noir and Chick Flicks
“The Wrong Man” -– The Movie Projector
Posted by vp19 on 2011.01.16 at 00:50
Current mood: sad
Above are photos of Carole Lombard. first, shown alongside her mother, Elizabeth Peters, second, with her second husband, Clark Gable. Attractive images, though the reprint quality admittedly isn’t the best — but had it not been for tragedy, these might never have come to light.
For these pictures ran in newspapers on Jan. 17, 1942, the day after the airplane carrying Lombard, her mother, and Army pilots crashed into a mountain in Nevada:
Of course, hundreds of newspapers ran the sad news; the loss of servicemen only 40 days after Pearl Harbor would have been a big story, whether or not there had been a celebrity on board. But Carole’s presence — especially returning from the first World War II bond rally — added poignancy. The U.S. was now in wartime, and this news hit home hard.
At “Carole & Co.”, I’ve rarely dwelt on the crash, what led to it and such, for the simple reason — one I’ve frequently stated — that this community exists not to focus on how Lombard died, but examine, and celebrate, how she lived. That was why she was both a successful actress and a beloved personality both inside and outside the entertainment industry. I previously haven’t run newspaper accounts of her death, and the only reason I’ve included these are because these photos shows how two communities whom Carole had graced remembered her.
The first, from the Chicago Sun, founded the year before by Marshall Field III of department store fame, is of Lombard and her mother in Chicago only a few days before the crash, as Carole received her instructions for the Indianapolis bond event from Treasury Department officials. (Her mother went to her hometown of Fort Wayne, saw friends, then met up with her daughter in Indianapolis.) The Sun would merge with another Chicago paper later in the decade to form the Chicago Sun-Times, now a tabloid best known as Roger Ebert’s home base.
The second photo is from the end of 1940, when Lombard and Gable went to Johns Hopkins Hospital; the public was told it was so Clark could have work done on a sore shoulder, and that may have been done, but the actual reason the Gables were there wasn’t disclosed for many years — it was to determine why the couple was unable to conceive. This was from the files of the Baltimore News-Post, a Hearst afternoon daily that lasted until it merged with Hearst’s morning Baltimore American in 1964. The successor, the News-American, expired in May 1986.
It was 69 years ago today. We remember, and mourn, all those lost.
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Set sail with a ‘Princess’
Posted by vp19 on 2011.01.15 at 00:10
Current mood: chipper
This spring marks the 75th anniversary of one of Carole Lombard’s more charming, if not entirely satisfying, films at Paramount, “The Princess Comes Across.” It was her second movie co-starring Fred MacMurray, and while Carole delights as a faux Swedish princess making a transatlantic boat trip to America with hopes of movie fame (her character in reality is a showgirl from Brooklyn), “Princess” then veers into a murder mystery that doesn’t quite mesh with the tone of the rest of the film.
Nevertheless, it’s generally fun, and a rare photo from the film (not the image above) is now on sale at eBay. Here it is:
I believe that’s George Barbier, cast as the ship’s captain, alongside Lombard (and isn’t that smile seductive, especially with the hat hiding part of her right eye?).
The photo is a sepia original measuring 8″ x 10″ (which includes a white border I have eliminated to highlight the image). It’s in fair condition, with slight tears, creases and other defects. Still, that smile of Carole’s more than compensates.
It’s being sold for $25, and will be available through about 4 p.m. (Eastern) on Wednesday. If you are interested, go to http://cgi.ebay.com/1936-Carole-Lombard-Princess-Comes-Across-340c-/400131066308?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item5d29ab89c4.
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In downtown LA tonight, feast on organ-ic ‘Oat’
Posted by vp19 on 2011.01.14 at 00:54
Current mood: nostalgic
Imagine how much easier life would be for biographers and researchers if we could go back in time for a moment and place an invisible GPS or tracking device on our subject, one whose signal could only be picked up many years in the future. It would erase mere conjecture on when and where they were during their lifetime.
Above is Jane Alice Peters, the eventual Carole Lombard, as a girl of about 10 helping the Allied effort on the home front during World War I. What were the places this actress-to-be visited during her youth, venues that likely shaped her future? We don’t have the exact answers, but chances are that Jane, her two older brothers and mother went to see live theater and film productions after their move to Los Angeles in 1914 (just as they had in Fort Wayne, Ind.). And chances are that much of that time was in the downtown theater district; outlying areas such as Hollywood were only beginning to develop as business and entertainment destinations.
In all honesty, the downtown theater district, centered on Broadway, wasn’t all that old itself, as several major venues were built in the 1910s and others were built during the ’20s (http://community.livejournal.com/carole_and_co/71388.html). One of them opened in February 1926, about the time Jane Alice Peters had adopted the pseudonym Carole Lombard and had just been sidelined from the movie business following an automobile accident.
This theater, the Orpheum, wasn’t initially a movie house, but was a venue for vaudeville, then still a major attraction. But the rise of radio and talking pictures doomed that genre and by 1930, the Orpheum was showing movies (which it did through 2000), though it continued with stage shows (one of them, in 1933, featured a young Judy Garland). And two years after its opening, management installed a large Wurlitzer pipe organ.
And tonight, that organ lives again as the Orpheum — which was restored in 2003 to its vintage splendor — hosts a silent movie. It’s not just any silent, either, but one feared lost until a copy of it was found in the Czech Republic several years ago, then restored by the Academy Film Archive. It was shown in San Francisco in July 2008 (http://community.livejournal.com/carole_and_co/118984.html), and now Los Angeles gets to see it again. It’s Colleen Moore’s romantic comedy, “Her Wild Oat”:
Moore — whose appeal as a comic actress in the mid-1920s was topped only by Clara Bow — portrays a lunch wagon owner who tries to crash resort society, with hilarious results. One of the bit players is a 14-year-old named Loretta Young (she’s second from left, with Moore at right):
Noted organist Bob Salisbury will provide accompaniment for the film, which will start at 8 p.m. The Orpheum is at 842 South Broadway; tickets are $18 in advance, $20 at the door. This screening is a part of the Los Angeles Organ Theatre Society’s Wurlitzer Weekend (in conjunction with the Broadway Initiative of the Los Angeles Conservancy), with other events slated over the weekend. To learn more, go to http://www.latos.org/ww2011_event.html. If you’re in southern California, or will be there tonight, I can’t think of a more (Moore?) wonderful way to spend a Friday evening.
Posted by vp19 on 2011.01.13 at 01:00
Current mood: grateful
A question for you: How many people have you had contact with in one form or another (met in person, wrote, talked on the phone with, etc.) who knew Carole Lombard? (Yes, this is sort of the Kevin Bacon “degrees of separation” parlor game.)
I can think of probably five, which sounds like a lot after all these years and may well be a good total for someone outside the movie industry. (Someone like Peter Bogdanovich, who’s not only a director but a writer and film historian, must have met dozens, if not hundreds.)
In 1969, I and my family met Jack Benny while we were at a hotel in Niagara Falls, N.Y.; he was performing in the area. In 1990, I wrote a fan letter to Myrna Loy, who autographed and returned the photo I sent her. I once talked on the phone with Alice Faye while doing some movie research (not about Lombard), and while I’ve never seen a photo of her and Carole, I can’t imagine their paths didn’t cross at one time or another.
I met Garson Kanin, who of course directed Lombard in “They Knew What They Wanted” and described her so vividly in his book “Hollywood”; he signed a paperback copy of it for me at the short-lived Biograph revival house on West 57th Street in New York, at which time I told him I was jealous of anyone who knew Carole. (I still am.)
And there was one other person who knew Lombard whom I met, shook hands with and received his autograph:
He’s Douglas Fairbanks Jr., whom I met in 1995 at Film Forum in New York, when it was showing a retrospective of his father’s films and he personally introduced them one night (if I recall correctly, they were a few of his dad’s comedies of the teens, before his career veered towards swashbuckling adventure). After the films, I met him — he looked every bit as distinguished as you recall him from those wool commercials he made in the ’80s and ’90s — shook his hand, and he autographed my Film Forum schedule program (which I still have today).
Being the son of an icon — much less sharing his name — couldn’t have been easy, but Doug Jr. had a fine career in his own right, carving out his own identity as an actor, a writer and raconteur. In his first autobiography, he mentioned knowing Lombard in the 1920s (the second book was about his exploits during World War II). That I was aware of, but according to a noted Hollywood columnist, his ties to Carole could have run far deeper.
The other day, I mentioned that a thread at a Turner Classic Movies message board is examining Hollywood’s halcyon year of 1939, day by day, through the Minneapolis Tribune. That newspaper, although not part of the Hearst chain, did carry its popular film columnist, Louella Parsons, and on Jan. 12, here’s what she had to say:
Louella opens her column by saying:
“Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., will have to tear himself away from his favorite charmer, Zorina, and return from New York to Hollywood. Young Doug, you see, has big business in two of our important movies. Not only has he been chosen to play opposite Carole Lombard in ‘Memory Of Love’ at RKO, but he has a later date with Paramount studios for the role of Lancelot in ‘Knights Of The Round Table.’ I reckon the older Doug will get a kick out of his son donning doublet and hose in the King Arthur epic, for it’s the very type of swashbuckling role that Fairbanks senior likes best…”
(Parsons’ column also noted that Luise Rainer had signed to do a New York stage play, fulfilling a longtime goal. Jan. 12, 1939 was her 29th birthday, and yesterday she celebrated her 101st. Hope you caught her interview with Robert Osborne last night, which was done at the inaugural TCM Classic Film Festival last April.)
So Doug Jr. was set to be a Lombard leading man…but what was this “Memory Of Love” Louella was writing about? Well, this trade ad from later in 1939 provides an answer:
It’s mentioned in the fine print as the novel adapted for this film, “The Kind Men Marry”...what?
Actually, the co-stars shown with Lombard give it away. Carole, Cary Grant and Kay Francis were the leads in Lombard’s first film for RKO, “In Name Only.” As recently as two years earlier, Grant and Fairbanks Jr. may have been viewed at the same commercial level, but hits such as “Topper,” “The Awful Truth” and “Holiday” had since elevated Grant to higher ground.
Initially, this drama was seen as yet another Grant teaming with Katharine Hepburn, but poor box office for their previous film (“Bringing Up Baby”!) led RKO to make Lombard the leading lady. (She, in turn, successfully lobbied to make her friend Francis, then struggling at Warners, the third part of this romantic triangle. Today is the anniversary of Francis’ birth, and TCM in the U.S. is showing 10 of her films during the day, although “In Name Only” isn’t among them.)
As for “Knights Of The Round Table,” Paramount apparently shelved it; a film by that title wasn’t made until 1953 at MGM, starring Robert Taylor as Lancelot, Ava Gardner as Guinevere and Mel Ferrer as King Arthur. That was probably a disappointment to Anglophile Doug Jr., but far sadder news occurred later in 1939, when Doug Sr. passed on.
I should add that this list almost had a sixth member; unfortunately, I never got the chance to talk with Robert Stack when he appeared on a New York radio call-in show in 1986.
Posted by vp19 on 2011.01.13 at 22:55
Current mood: creative
Here’s news about something that will take place here Monday: That day’s entry will focus on Alfred Hitchcock, part of a Hitchcock blogathon scheduled for that day by the Classic Movie Blog Association. At last check, 19 different blogs are participating (up from 18), and each will file an entry centered around a specific film from Hitch. (As this is a Carole Lombard-centered site, you can probably guess which movie I chose.) Once all of them are in, I intend to update the entry, providing links to and information about the other ones posted.
It’s all part of what should be a splendid tribute by CMBA’s members to a filmmaker who developed his own idiosyncratic style during more than half a century of work, a man whose uncanny self-marketing parlayed himself into more of a “brand name” than any other director in history. (But few complained — more often than not, his movies’ figurative steak justified the sizzle.)
For more about the blogathon, go to http://clamba.blogspot.com.
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Colorful memories of the city she loved
Posted by vp19 on 2011.01.12 at 09:10
Current mood: nostalgic
It was 69 years ago this morning that Carole Lombard unknowingly left the city she loved for the last time, boarding an eastbound train from Los Angeles Union Station for Chicago. There, she would get instructions from the Treasury Department before going to Indianapolis, capital of her home state of Indiana, for a war bond rally. (As fate would have it, the name of the train she took was Union Pacific’s “City of Los Angeles.”)
To commemorate this anniversary, we thought we’d provide some images of Los Angeles as it existed during Carole’s lifetime...in color, just as she would have viewed them with her own eyes. (Many of these photographs were taken using Kodachrome color film, a process that recently breathed its last when the final rolls were developed at the remaining lab handling the format.) Unlike many of her star brethren, she had grown up in the city (arriving with her mother and brothers in the fall of 1914, not long after turning six), and so for Lombard Los Angeles was more than merely a movie factory town, though she certainly loved the business.
First, some shots we’ve run before, of Hollywood Boulevard from April 1931, screen grabs from a tourist’s film in two-strip Technicolor:
Note the sign at the far left of the second photo with the reference to “KFWB”; that radio station, founded by Warners as the call letters would indicate, naturally had offices at the building that housed one of its theaters.
The remaining images really don’t have anything to do with the movie side of Los Angeles, but provide a feel for the city before World War II. First, from 1938, LA’s new Chinatown at night; the old district nearby had been razed in order to build the new Union Station, which would open the following May:
We next travel to June 1940, and two photographs of Elysian Park, then as now a place where Angelenos savor nature. The tree is a jacaranda, the automobile a Lincoln Zephyr. (These are part of a large online collection of vintage color photos at Indiana University.)
Next, also from the IU archives and taken in June 1940, a photo of a riot of colorful pink geraniums on Sunset Boulevard in Santa Monica:
Now it’s a year later, in 1941, and we see the bustle of West Los Angeles (top) and Westwood Village, areas Carole had some familiarity with:
Finally, photos that were taken some years later, but certainly evoke the past. First, a rare color image of the interior of the entrance to the old Los Angeles subway line, taken in June 1955, days before the trains stopped serving the Subway Terminal Building for good, replaced by buses. (And they called it progress.) See it and weep:
The tunnel to downtown, constructed with such fanfare in 1925, would carry passengers for not even three decades; by the time of its demise, several lines, including the one that ran along Hollywood Boulevard (from which those 1931 images were likely taken), had been converted to buses, and the last train line serving the station went to Glendale and Burbank. (Some other lines had their downtown terminus at the Pacific Electric building a few blocks away, with their service finally ending in April 1961.) One of those last trains from the Subway Terminal Building is shown below:
We’ll close by noting the passing of singer Margaret Whiting at age 86. Whiting, whose father Richard was a noted composer (among his works were songs for Lombard’s first film at Paramount, 1930’s “Safety In Numbers”), was among the first stars for the Capitol label (Johnny Mercer, one of its founders, had collaborated with her father). Here’s Margaret’s best-known recording, “Moonlight In Vermont,” done with Billy Butterfield’s orchestra in 1944:
Teen bride in ‘Transit’
Posted by vp19 on 2011.01.11 at 00:41
Current mood: impressed
In late 1928 or early 1929, Carol Lombard — then about 20 — posed in bridal wear for Pathe. Perhaps the studio had an eye on wedding sections in newspapers, and believed this picture could win some attention for their starlet.
But dressing up in such an outfit was nothing new for Lombard; she had done it several years earlier, when she was all of 16.
No, not in real life — we’re talking about the movies…specifically, her second film before the cameras, and her first as Carol Lombard (as we’ve stated beforehand, the “e” in her first name didn’t arrive for good until 1930). It was a movie for Fox called “Marriage In Transit,” and while it’s lost (as are seemingly all of Carole’s films prior to her 1926 automobile accident), an artifact from it is now being auctioned.
We’re referring to this lobby card, which measures 11″ x 14″ (double-click on it, and you can see it at roughly its actual size):
As we noted, when this film was made in early 1925, Lombard was 16 years old and had yet to reach the halfway point of her brief life. So what is someone of her tender age doing playing a bride? Well, her character was likely a few years older, and since it was found younger women photographed well for the cameras, they were often cast as more mature types.
The look on Lombard’s face conveys considerable seriousness, in her mind likely befitting someone preparing to walk down the aisle. (Also note the statue behind her, which appears to be anatomically correct.) It’s possible one or both of the little bridesmaids in the picture are still with us, though they would be in their early 90s. As to where this was taken, it was probably the Fox lot.
This is from Heritage Auction Galleries, which lists the item under “comedy” (hey, that’s what Lombard was known for, right?). Actually, accounts of the plot list it as a melodrama, a vehicle for Edmund Lowe; he plays dual characters, and Carol marries the good guy, a secret agent out to expose the bad guy she thought she was marrying. (The lobby card shown below, with Lombard’s character marrying Lowe’s, is not being auctioned.)
In the April 11, 1925 Motion Picture News, reviewer Lawrence Reid said Lombard “displays good poise and considerable charm.” Truth be told, she was a bit in over her head, and Fox quickly relegated her to western programmers, where she could develop her skills in a less demanding environment.
The card being auctioned has some minor stains and wear from age (it’s nearly 86 years old!), but is nonetheless attractive, in fine-plus condition. It’s a rarity from the dawn of Lombard’s career.
As of this writing, there are three bids on this lobby card, topping at $24. Bidding continues through 11 p.m. (Eastern) Sunday. If you’re interested in this item, visit http://movieposters.ha.com/common/view_item.php?Sale_No=511013&Lot_No=53278.
Finding Carole’s memorabilia in Norma’s Jeans
Posted by vp19 on 2011.01.10 at 01:39
Current mood: envious
How would you like to own something Carole Lombard not only possessed, but probably used? You’ve got four chances to do so, thanks to an auction of a noted memorabilia collection on eBay.
The items — all of them engraved in one form or another — are from the estate of Richard Lee Wilson, a man from the Maryland suburbs of Washington, D.C., who for many years ran a mail-order memorabilia store called Norma’s Jeans (for his favorite film star, Marilyn Monroe) up to his death in March 2009. According to Carole Sampeck of The Lombard Archive, “Richard Wilson was always very particular on sources, provenance and authenticity. I suspect that any buyer would be safe with these wonderful goodies.”
More than 80 items from his collection are now being auctioned, with the most expensive being a cigarette card Elvis Presley gave Natalie Wood (bidding starts at $1,249) and an engraved, 14-karat gold watch with jewels that belonged to Jean Harlow (opening bid: $999). Barring bidding that goes into the stratosphere, the Lombard-related items won’t set you back anywhere near that much…but they won’t come cheaply, either.
Take, for example, this item — an engraved watch pin, measuring roughly 2 1/2″. Can’t make out the engraving? Here’s an enlarged image of the watch (which isn’t running, BTW); look vertically down the center of the funnel and you can see “CAROLE”:
Bidding opens at $225; you can find out more at http://cgi.ebay.com/Carole-Lombard-Engraved-Watch-Pin-/180608464313?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item2a0d1a75b9.
The next item is a bit more affordable, with bids starting at a mere $140. This ties into Saturday’s entry, featuring a 1933 Max Factor ad; here are a pair of make-up jars that belonged to Lombard (you can see the “C” script monogram on both jars, particularly the one on the right):
Each is 1 1/4″ high and 2 1/4″ in diameter. They can be seen at http://cgi.ebay.com/Carole-Lombards-Two-Make-up-Jars-w-Engraved-Metal-Tops-/310285305915?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item483e72083b.
Bids for both of the above close at 9 p.m. (Eastern) next Sunday.
The other two items are from the Lombard-Clark Gable marriage. Imagine having a set of four silver coasters that belonged to the Encino power couple (with the “G & L” initials in the middle of each exquisitely designed coaster):
If you want to do more than merely imagine, be prepared to shell out at least $349 (or about $88 per coaster), in which case you may want to reserve them for champagne and such. Go to http://cgi.ebay.com/Clark-Gable-Carole-Lombard-4-Engraved-Silver-Coasters-/180609777703?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item2a0d2e8027 to learn more. Bids close at 11:05 p.m. (Eastern) on Jan. 17.
The cheapest of the quartet of items, at least by minimum bid, is for those of you into hard liquor (or relatively inexpensive Hollywood celebrity collectibles). It’s an engraved bourbon label, with a silver finish and measuring less than an inch and a half long:
Bids for this start at $125, and bids finish at 9:05 p.m. (Eastern) Jan. 18. Details are at http://cgi.ebay.com/Clark-Gable-Carole-Lombard-Engraved-BOURBON-Label-/180610330556?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item2a0d36efbc.
To view the entire collection of Norma’s Jeans goodies — including an engraved watch William Randolph Hearst gave Marion Davies, cigarette cases belonging to everyone from Clara Bow and Lucille Ball to John Wayne and Marlon Brando, and flasks owned by Frank Sinatra and Walter Winchell — go to http://stores.ebay.com/Second-Story-Books-and-Collectibles/_i.html?rt=nc&_sid=6828083&_trksid=p4634.c0.m14.l1513&_pgn=1.
A classic Culver City capture
Posted by vp19 on 2011.01.09 at 08:19
Current mood: accomplished
Many movie buffs probably recognize the rooster on Carole Lombard’s sweater, but just in case you don’t, it stands for Pathe Films, the studio Lombard worked for in the late 1920s (when her first name in movies was actually “Carol”). Pathe was located in Culver City, headquartered in the same building where Lombard would star in a pair of Selznick International films nearly a decade later:
That building remains on Washington Boulevard, and it still fronts an active film and TV studio.
Several other studios called Culver City home. The building that housed Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer for many years is probably the best known site (although both it and the Pathe studio site were originally built by silent film pioneer Thomas Ince), but a third also existed, and like the other two was on Washington Boulevard:
This was the home of Hal Roach Studios, whose employees included the beloved comedy team of Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy. (The studio operated through 1960, and was torn down three years later.) Laurel and Hardy’s work will be spotlighted from 8 p.m. (Eastern) Tuesday through 8 p.m. Wednesday on Turner Classic Movies in the U.S. as part of its January salute to the Roach studios…and through incredible work from one of their many devoted fans, we can get an idea of what Culver City was like in the late 1920s (when Roach used its streets to film scenes for many of Stan and Ollie’s silent shorts).
Piet Schreuders, a Dutch pop culture historian, painstakingly researched Culver City maps of the time to recreate the streets of its downtown during that era. The video below, from a 1999 Dutch documentary (most of the segment is in English), shows how he did it and part of the finished result:
Brief clips are shown from a 1929 Laurel and Hardy silent, “Angora Love” (a quarter-century before Ed Wood, though this has nothing to do with sweaters!), where we see a goat follow Stan and Ollie down a street as well as Schreuders’ computer-generated model of the location. Really remarkable.
You can learn more about Culver City in this era, how Roach and his technicians made a one-block area seem much larger, and the work to capture these images, at http://www.donbrockway.com/The%20Shortest%20Main%20Street%20in%20the%20World.pdf. Until a time machine that can actually take us there is developed, this is the best way to experience Culver City in the 1920s.
Carole scores a rouge…
Posted by vp19 on 2011.01.08 at 00:36
Current mood: enthralled
…and she’s not playing Canadian football.
No, this is the rouge of the cosmetic variety, and Carole Lombard was among three Paramount stars featured in a Max Factor ad in the November 1933 issue of Photoplay. At the time, Factor’s ad slogan — one that continued for several years — was “SOCIETY MAKE-UP…Face Powder, Rouge, Lipstick in COLOR HARMONY.”
In this ad, Claudette Colbert represented powder, Adrienne Ames lipstick and Lombard rouge. Here’s the copy for the Lombard segment:
“ROUGE…A rouge in color to harmonize with your powder and complexion colorings. Creamy-smooth, as fine as finest skin texture, it blends and clings just as you would want it to. The color harmony shade for Carole Lombard…blonde hair, light skin and blue eyes is Max Factor’s Blondeen Rouge. And, Max Factor’s Rachelle Powder and Max Factor’s Super-Indelible Vermilion Lipstick complete her color harmony make-up.”
For comparison’s sake, the ad stated the Factor products Colbert used were Olive Powder, Raspberry Rouge and Super-Indelible Lipstick in Crimson; while Ames employed Brunette Powder, Carmine Rouge and Super-Indelible Lipstick in Carmine. (Does Max Factor still manufacture these particular shades?)
The lipstick and powder sold for a dollar at most stores nationwide, while the list price for the rouge was 50 cents. A color harmony make-up chart was also available by mail; the sender listed the appropriate complexion, eyes and other information.
The ad also noted the actresses’ latest films — Lombard was in “White Woman,” Colbert “Torch Singer” (a pretty good pre-Code work) and Ames “A Bedtime Story.”
You can buy this ad for $3 through eBay; it will be on sale through 7:30 p.m. (Eastern) tonight. If interested, go to http://cgi.ebay.com/VINTAGE-MAX-FACTOR-AD-CAROLE-LOMBARD-ADRIENNE-AMES-LOOK-/160526021706?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item256018b44a.
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Another ‘what might have been’
Posted by vp19 on 2011.01.07 at 15:30
Current mood: contemplative
When I ran items relating to Carole Lombard in January 1932 that I found at Google News earlier this week, I inadvertently left one out, perhaps because it’s a brief with no accompanying illustration. It concerns something that ultimately never happened, but is fascinating to ponder, and is from the Spokane Daily Chronicle of Jan. 30, 1932:
That MGM was interested in Lombard at this stage of her career itself carries intrigue — this presumably happened after the “Taxi!” fiasco, where Carole declined a loanout to Warners, only to have Loretta Young take the female lead opposite James Cagney — but look at the property Metro was considering for Lombard: “Red-Headed Woman,” which, as we all know, turned out to be the breakthrough for another flashy blonde whose hair took a crimson hue for the film…
…Carole’s eventual friend, Jean Harlow. (At this juncture, they may have been acquaintances, but likely little more.)
What might “Red-Headed Woman” have done for Lombard? Would this have tapped her inherent comedic skills some two years before “Twentieth Century”? It’s doubtful it would have led to her moving to MGM, inasmuch as she was under a long-term contract with Paramount, but it might have set her apart from the large pack of Paramount starlets and put her on more equal footing with the likes of Claudette Colbert and Miriam Hopkins.
Could Carole have pulled off playing the gold-digging Lil the way Harlow did? Hard to say. While Lombard had already gained internal notice in the film colony for her ability to recognize good scripts, it hadn’t yet translated into good performances. Then again, the programmers Paramount gave her weren’t written by the likes of Anita Loos, so perhaps that would have elicited something heretofore unseen.
Now the question: Why didn’t Lombard get the part? Hard to tell from this piece of industry gossip, probably from some syndicate or wire service (if the Chronicle somehow had its own Hollywood writer, his or her byline would have been attached). Jan. 30 was about the time Harlow — up till now cast for her looks rather than acting ability — proved her talent with a nice supporting turn in the gangster film “The Beast Of The City.” That was made at MGM, as executive (and eventual Harlow husband) Paul Bern persuaded the studio to sign her to a contract. Once that was done, it likely sealed the deal.
There was another name in that Paramount-to-MGM item: Phillips Holmes, who the report said was going to appear in “The Wet Parade”:
Holmes, born to an acting family in 1907, spent several years attending elite U.S. and European institutions, including a year at Princeton (where he was a member of the university’s Triangle Club theater group). He was coming off a solid year in 1931, including roles in “The Criminal Code,” “An American Tragedy” (an adaptation of Theodore Drieser’s novel, playing a role reprised by Montgomery Clift in “A Place In The Sun” two decades later) and Ernst Lubitsch’s World War I drama, “The Man I Killed” (aka “Broken Lullaby”).
Holmes never worked with Lombard, though he had been slated to be her leading man in “The Beachcombers,” the film that was briefly shelved because of Carole’s illness and then finally made as “Sinners In The Sun.” By that time, Holmes had signed with MGM, not making much of an impact there, and his career began to diminish. By the late 1930s, he was focusing on stage work, including “The Petrified Forest” and “The Philadelphia Story.”
There is another, more tragic link between Lombard and Holmes. He would join the Royal Canadian Air Force in late 1941 (his mother was of Canadian descent). Holmes attended the Air Ground School in Winnipeg and graduated; on Aug. 12, 1942 — nearly seven months after Lombard’s death — he and several of his classmates were being transferred to Ottawa when their plane collided with another over Ontario, killing all aboard.
(The 1931 film version of “An American Tragedy,” directed by Josef von Sternberg, led to a crucial court case on adaptation rights. For this story, written by Richard Schickel, go to http://www.dgaquarterly.org/BACKISSUES/Summer2010/FeaturesJosefvonSternberg.aspx.)
A freaking great site
Posted by vp19 on 2011.01.06 at 01:23
Current mood: accomplished
When it comes to Carole Lombard on the World Wide Web, I like to think I’m a pretty good authority. But on Wednesday, I discovered a remarkable site for any Lombard fan…and it’s been up for four months without my knowing of it.
It’s from rapidly growing Tumblr, and I love its URL: http://carolefreakinglombard.tumblr.com/. That’s right, carolefreakinglombard — a salute to both her awesomeness (OK, so that’s not an adjective I frequently use to describe her, but it’s nonetheless true!) and a nod to her often inventive invective. (Truth be told, the “profane angel” angle does Carole a disservice, giving the impression her vocabulary was limited to that of a stevedore. Not the case at all — she was a bright woman who could intelligently converse on a variety of topics. At the same time, if people she was with were comfortably exchanging blue banter, she could hold her own with any of them.)
Getting back to this site; it presently comprises some 70 “pages,” which on Tumblr equates to about 700 images. A handful are duplicated throughout the site, uploaded by several different contributors, but among the many others are things I’ve never seen before. For example, take the photo at the top, Paramount p1202-216, which I’m guessing comes from late 1931 or early ’32. Carole had beautiful eyes, and this portrait shows them off about as well as any I’ve seen.
Or how about this shot, taken from “Made For Each Other,” showing Lombard with Louise Beavers:
There aren’t very many stills showing Carole with black actors, and here she’s with one of the best (although, alas, the stereotypical roles Beavers received often prevented her from showing her full ability on screen).
One of the nice ideas here is something called “The Many Faces Of” — eight images of Lombard from a particular film. Eight of Carole’s movies have received such an honor, and here they are (double-click to view them at their full, glorious size):
As stated, this site gets the “Carole & Co.” seal of approval (remember to feed it fish daily!), and I think any Lombard fan worth his or her salt should make it a regular cyberspace destination. With all the images, you can feel as close to Carole as director Garson Kanin did here:
Kudos to the contributors at carolefreakinglombard.tumblr.com — though I won’t say it’s for “a job well done,” because it’s not anywhere close to being “done.” I fully expect we’ll see hundreds more lovely Lombard images put up for our viewing pleasure in the future.
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Looking back: January 1932
Posted by vp19 on 2011.01.05 at 01:10
Current mood: surprised
Today, we’re inaugurating a new feature at “Carole & Co.”, one we intend to run each month that I think will delight Carole Lombard fans. It’s through a resource that’s fairly new to me — the “news” section at google.com. Through it, you can access newspapers from past and present regarding all sorts of subjects.
Some of the papers charge a fee, such as the Tribune Co. properties (the Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, Baltimore Sun and Hartford Courant) or the New York Times. But thankfully, many other papers involved in the project are free.
We’re going to use this to examine Carole Lombard, and while much of what you’ll see may not be very significant, it is fun to find. We will look at newspaper items dealing with Lombard each month, beginning in January 1932. (That should give us 10 years’ worth of material, assuming this blog can last through December 2020!)
The image above isn’t from Google News; it’s from the Jan. 30, 1932 Motion Picture Herald -- an ad from Paramount promoting Carole’s upcoming release, “No One Man”…just to get you in the mood.
The first item ran 79 years ago today (Jan. 5) in the upstate New York paper, the Schenectady Gazette:
Under the headline “Striking Creation,” this syndicated item shows Lombard “in a frock that glitters,” red and silver on a black background. It’s simple yet elegant, and as this photo indicates, Carole looked splendid in it.
“Elegant” and “splendid” probably aren’t the proper adjectives for the outfit Milwaukee Journal readers found Lombard in on Jan. 9, 1932:
No, she’s not in training to be a bubble dancer, nor is she wearing a bunch of tiny balloons. Here’s what it’s all about, according to the caption:
All Balled Up In New Style
Pajamas are yesterday’s mode; the bathing jacket is today’s — and Carole Lombard, screen star, introduces this startling new fashion in a forthcoming production. The jacket for beach wear comprises many yards of white jersey trimmed with innumerable balls of white yarn.
Well, “startling” is accurate, and so is “balled up”…if it’s a euphemism for a somewhat, uh, stronger term. Just how did Carole keep a straight face while modeling this? (And it’s probably safe to say this unorthodox style was not a favorite on beaches throughout the summer of 1932.)
Check back next month for a variety of Lombard items, circa February 1932. Hey, you may find another early thirties version of “what not to wear.”
Posted by vp19 on 2011.01.04 at 01:28
Current mood: contemplative
If you liked last week’s Lombard-palooza — an array of rare images of Carole Lombard being sold on eBay (hope you bought some) — you will love
what’s going on this time. Especially if you’re a fan of both Carole and William Powell.
Her first husband joins her on all these images; the picture quality isn’t the best on some of these (though, thanks to Tally, they’re in passable shape), but they are all of interest. The photos are available for $14.99 each (and in much better condition than you see here), and the sale ends a few minutes before noon (Eastern) on Friday. Up to five copies of each are available.
Without further ado, the first batch, starting off with a pair of photos taken at the racetrack, although from separate occasions, as their outfits indicate:
The first photo can be found at http://cgi.ebay.com/WILLIAM-POWELL-CAROLE-LOMBARD-CANDID-RACETRACK-PHOTO-/200552713359?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item2eb1df8c8f. The second, reportedly taken by a fan at the Agua Caliente track in Mexico, is at http://cgi.ebay.com/WILLIAM-POWELL-CAROLE-LOMBARD-CANDID-FAN-PHOTO-/200552713211?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item2eb1df8bfb.
Here are Bill and Carole at a premiere (and the Warners sign behind them may indicate it was taken after Powell signed with that studio in 1932):
For more on this photo, visit http://cgi.ebay.com/WILLIAM-POWELL-CAROLE-LOMBARD-ARRIVE-PREMIERE-PHOTO-/190477810795?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item2c595cbc6b.
This is a literally sparkling image of the couple having champagne (since Prohibition wasn’t repealed until after their divorce, was this taken in Mexico?):
It’s at http://cgi.ebay.com/WILLIAM-POWELL-CAROLE-LOMBARD-CHAMPAGNE-CANDID-PHOTO-/200552713387?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item2eb1df8cab.
Finally, a photo taken at the Club New Yorker in 1932, a club that actually was in the basement of the Christie Hotel on Hollywood Boulevard (the building that’s now Scientology headquarters):
According to the seller, one of the other persons here is a female impersonator named Jean Malin, though as the club emcee, he may not have been dressed in drag at the time. Malin, who got his start with Texas Guinan in New York, was one of the stars of the “pansy craze” of the speakeasy era. Less than a year after this photo was taken, Malin, 25, would drown in an auto accident after completing a performance at a club in Venice, Calif.; two passengers, including actress Patsy Kelly, survived.
This photo is at http://cgi.ebay.com/WILLIAM-POWELL-CAROLE-LOMBARD-JEAN-MALIN-CANDID-PHOTO-/200552713459?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item2eb1df8cf3.
Posted by vp19 on 2011.01.04 at 09:29
Current mood: amused
Here are five more pictures of Carole Lombard with her first husband, William Powell — images now being sold at eBay for $14.99 each through just before noon (Eastern) Friday. As with the first batch, the quality here isn’t all that good (the actual items being sold are professionally done), and I thank Tally for her work making them at least passable.
First, a charming image of Carole giving Bill a kiss:
To buy this picture or learn more, go to http://cgi.ebay.com/WILLIAM-POWELL-CAROLE-LOMBARD-KISSING-PHOTO-/190477810929?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item2c595cbcf1.
Next, a pair of stills from “Man Of The World,” the initial film Powell and Lombard made together:
The first photo, with them facing each other, is at http://cgi.ebay.com/WILLIAM-POWELL-CAROLE-LOMBARD-MAN-WORLD-PHOTO-/200552713529?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item2eb1df8d39; the second is at http://cgi.ebay.com/WILLIAM-POWELL-CAROLE-LOMBARD-GLAMOUR-PHOTO-/190477810896?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item2c595cbcd0.
Finally, two more from that 1890s costume party:
The first image, where they are standing, is at http://cgi.ebay.com/WILLIAM-POWELL-CAROLE-LOMBARD-GAY-90S-COSTUME-PHOTO-2-/190477810879?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item2c595cbcbf. The second, where they are sitting, is at http://cgi.ebay.com/WILLIAM-POWELL-CAROLE-LOMBARD-GAY-90S-COSTUME-PHOTO-1-/190477810850?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item2c595cbca2. (The two others in these photos were not identified, but if you know who they are, please respond.)
Posted by vp19 on 2011.01.04 at 10:53
Current mood: loved
Now, time for the final five photos in our display of Carole Lombard/William Powell pictures now on sale at eBay ($14.99 each) through just before noon (Eastern) on Friday. As with the other images, Tally has brought them up to snuff, but the actual photos are 8″ x 10″, recently made in a lab, and are of top quality.
First, two photos from 1938, when Powell, recovering from a long illness, teamed with his ex-wife in a “Lux Radio Theater” adaptation of their hit “My Man Godfrey”:
Find the first photo at http://cgi.ebay.com/WILLIAM-POWELL-LOOKS-LOVINGLY-CAROLE-LOMBARD-CBS-PIC-/200552714594?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item2eb1df9162. The second, with Lombard laughing, is at http://cgi.ebay.com/WILLIAM-POWELL-CAROLE-LOMBARD-LAUGH-CBS-RADIO-PHOTO-/200552713498?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item2eb1df8d1a.
Next, back to 1931, as Bill and Carole meet the press while returning from their honeymoon in Hawaii:
To learn more on this one, visit http://cgi.ebay.com/WILLIAM-POWELL-CAROLE-LOMBARD-SHIP-HAWAII-PHOTO-/190477811001?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item2c595cbd39.
Finally, a pair of romantic pics:
The photo of them embracing is at http://cgi.ebay.com/WILLIAM-POWELL-CAROLE-LOMBARD-ROMANTIC-CANDID-PHOTO-/190477811010?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item2c595cbd42; the one of them gazing is at http://cgi.ebay.com/WILLIAM-POWELL-CAROLE-LOMBARD-LOOKING-EACH-OTHER-PIC-/200552713513?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item2eb1df8d29.
What’s dogging Carole and Clark?
Posted by vp19 on 2011.01.03 at 09:39
Current mood: nostalgic
To outsiders, ranch life in Encino may have seemed idyllic for Carole Lombard and Clark Gable, but they knew better. There were all sorts of mundane tasks that had to be done — washing the dog, for instance:
This is from the Sunday color supplement of the Los Angeles Examiner (a Hearst paper) on Dec. 3, 1939. It’s a cute image of Clark and Carole cleaning a canine, but from comparing its colors to that of the photo at the top, it’s likely an enhanced black-and-white photo.
The six-page section, entitled “March Of Events, Screen And Drama,” measures 16″ x 22″. It can be yours, but you don’t have much time; bidding closes at 5:12 p.m. (Eastern) today. Bids open at $9.99, and no bids have been made as of this writing. To learn more, go to http://cgi.ebay.com/201214C-HOLLYWOOD-CLARK-GABLE-CAROLE-LOMBARD-1939-/290516463417?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item43a4216f39.
Oh, and speaking of 1939…that fabulous year will be reviewed day by day at one of the message boards at Turner Classic Movies, with columns, movie listings and other items taken from the Minneapolis Tribune. For example, here’s Sheilah Graham’s column, where we learn that on New Year’s Day, Clark and Carole were seen at the Rose Bowl game where Southern Cal beat Duke:
Louella Parsons predicts Robert Taylor and Barbara Stanwyck are the likeliest film colony couple to get hitched in 1939. The good news for Louella: They did. The bad news: They did nearly seven weeks after Clark and Carole performed the feat.
And finally, a partial check of some of the films playing around Minneapolis as 1939 began:
Find the thread at http://forums.tcm.com/jive/tcm/thread.jspa?threadID=157427&tstart=0. It’s something you’ll want to check back on throughout the year.
TCM’s Roach clips will get you high this month
Posted by vp19 on 2011.01.02 at 09:04
Current mood: giddy
That’s a teenaged Carol(e) Lombard sprinting with cosmetics in the 1928 Mack Sennett two-reeler “Run, Girl, Run.” This month, Turner Classic Movies in the U.S. will be showing films from the other impresario of early comedy, Hal Roach, whose studio released a prodigious array of product for more than four and a half decades.
Lombard never worked for Roach, who often is lumped together with Sennett, which isn’t fair to either man. Sennett’s peak came during the 1910s and early ’20s; by the time Lombard joined his troupe of bathing beauties in 1927, his studio had seen better days. In contrast, Roach was coming into his own, and when talkies arrived at the end of the decade, he embraced the new technology far more than Sennett did. Moreover, while Sennett’s work was almost entirely in comedy shorts, Roach produced a number of features and non-comedies, and even did some television work in the 1950s.
TCM is running plenty of Roach material — four 24-hour blocks, from 8 p.m. (Eastern) Tuesdays through 8 p.m. Wednesdays. If this excites you (and it should!), thank Thelma Todd, the “ice cream blonde” shown above with Zasu Pitts. The “Summer Under The Stars” salute to Todd on Aug. 30, which included numerous short subjects where she was teamed with Pitts or Patsy Kelly, was an overwhelming success for the channel. (To our Canadian friends, you are again out of luck, as TCM will air substitute programming. Apparently no one knows who controls the rights to most of Roach’s catalog in Canada.)
Jan. 4 and 5 is dedicated to the “Our Gang” shorts. (Roach sold the franchise to MGM in 1938, but retained rights to the earlier films; when the television age arrived, he repackaged them under the name “The Little Rascals.”) TCM is running more than 50 of these movies (all of them premieres for the channel), and while the schedule is just too voluminous to run here, note that from 8 p.m. to 4:45 a.m., films from the 1930s will be shown, while the rest of the schedule focuses on 1920s product, most of them silent and with an earlier cast of kids.
Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy, arguably the most beloved of comedy teams, are probably the performers most identified with Roach. TCM salutes the boys on Jan. 11 and 12 with 40 shorts, nearly half of them premiering on the channel, and three of their lesser-known features (“Pardon Us,” “Pack Up Your Troubles” and “The Bohemian Girl”), airing at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday. Among the shorts, check out “Brats” at 11 a.m. Wednesday, where Stan and Ollie play both themselves and their offspring (through oversized sets).
In 1955-56, Roach’s studio produced a TV version of the old radio anthology “Screen Directors Playhouse” for NBC. Ten of the 35 episodes are to be broadcast Jan. 18 and 19, including John Wayne’s first television appearance (it was also the TV directing debut for John Ford); Wayne plays a sportswriter in the baseball drama “Rookie Of The Year” (8:30 p.m.) and the cast includes his son Patrick as a hot-shot pitcher. Another highlight: “The Silent Partner” (9:30 p.m.), featuring Buster Keaton as a washed-up comic watching the Academy Awards on TV at a nearby restaurant and seeing his former director given a lifetime achievement award.
After these episodes, TCM shows 19 hours worth of assorted comedy shorts, including work from Todd and Charley Chase.
The last block, Jan. 25 and 26, focuses on the features from Roach’s studios, and Chase is a supporting player in the first offering, Laurel and Hardy’s classic “Sons Of The Desert” (8 p.m. Wednesday). Most of the films are comedies, but the schedule also includes the 1939 adventure “Captain Fury” (11:30 a.m. Wednesday), which Roach himself directed.
Constance Bennett fans will have three chances to catch Connie: first, the original “Topper” (10:30 p.m. Tuesday); the sequel, “Topper Takes A Trip,” where she’s shown above with Roland Young (10 a.m. Wednesday); and the ersatz “My Man Godfrey” comedy, “Merrily We Live” (5:45 a.m. Wednesday).
All in all, a wondrous batch of films, made or produced by a man who reached age 100 and was active in Hollywood until the end. Thank you, Hal Roach. (Here he is, at right, with Sennett and another legendary filmmaker, Frank Capra.)
For your New Year’s resolution
Posted by vp19 on 2011.01.01 at 11:11
Current mood: curious
We’ve made it to 2011 — the first year of the century that doesn’t feature multiple zeroes — and I wish you the best as we embark on another calendar year of “Carole & Co.”
Of course, with a new year invariably comes resolutions (most of which we fail to keep, human nature being what it is). Among the most common of those resolutions is to lose weight…and for those of you aiming to do just that, we may have some inspiration.
Did you know Carole Lombard was once a fat little girl? No kidding — that’s what the May 10, 1936 Des Moines Register said:
Well, we know she had a few extra pounds (and curves) during her days at Mack Sennett, pounds she took off through a training and diet regimen with noted Hollywood masseuse Sylvia (http://community.livejournal.com/carole_and_co/110803.html). But fat? Did someone mistake Lombard for her Sennett stablemate, Madalynne Fields? (And photos from Carole’s childhood as Jane Alice Peters certainly show no signs of obesity.)
Yet that’s what the Register headline read; there is also a subhead, “Now an Air Line Chooses Her Streamlined Figure as a Model by Which to Select Its Pretty Air Stewardesses.”
Unfortunately, the body copy from the photo is too small to read, so I can’t tell you more about it, such as what airline used her figure as a model. (And for those who thought the first flight attendants were hired for their medical and safety skills, this may indicate things were changing, eventually culminating in the “coffee, tea or me” mindset of the 1960s.)
But the page is nice, particularly that large photo of Carole in a swimsuit, right? Uh, no. While you would think that mentioning Lombard in the headline would indicate that she’d have the dominant picture, but from (barely) making out the caption, its subject is one Grace Bradley, a fellow Paramount player nearly five years younger than Carole. Here she is in a teddy, decorating a Christmas tree:
Bradley gave up her career in a few years to marry former Lombard co-star William Boyd, “Hopalong Cassidy” of western fame. She had been his widow for 38 years when she died this past Sept. 21, her 97th birthday.
This page is being auctioned at eBay, with bids starting at $9.99 (no bids have been entered as of this writing). Bidding ends at 6:50 p.m. (Eastern) on Wednesday. To learn more, go to http://cgi.ebay.com/221211C-HOLLYWOOD-ACTRESS-CAROLE-LOMBARD-DIET-1936-/390276093494?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item5ade449636. (And if you get it, please let us know what the copy reads!)