Carole & Co. entries, December 2010   1 comment

Should auld acquaintance be forgot…

Posted by [info]vp19 on 2010.12.31 at 00:59
Current mood: jubilantjubilant

It’s hard to believe that within a matter of hours, 2010 will be in the past tense and we will have advanced to the year 2011. To honor the occasion, the photo above, showing Carole Lombard and James Stewart’s characters preparing to ring in their new year (1939) in “Made For Each Other.”

For me, this has been a year where much has happened — a job-related move, surgery to improve my eyesight, and other challenges. I’ve come through it okay, and this blog is among the reasons why.

“Carole & Co.”, now more than 3 1/2 years old, has been a labor of love from the outset: love for Carole Lombard as an actress and as a person, love for the classic Hollywood she inhabited, love for a special era in entertainment. Yes, we too often view the past through rose-colored glasses, glossing over the trials and tribulations people faced then; that’s what nostalgia is all about. At the same time, we can appreciate what Lombard and others created, artistry that transcends time, work “beyond category,” as Duke Ellington so elegantly put it.

At last count, “Carole & Co.” has 186 members, and this is its 1,422nd entry (most, but not all, from me). Researching Lombard’s life and times — and, to repeat a slogan of mine just one more time, blending a historian’s perspective with a fan’s enthusiasm — has been a joy; I have learned so much about Carole and the people she knew and worked with. And I’m so glad to have made friends with so many people in the blogosphere and classic Hollywood community.

My vow for 2011 is to “keep on keepin’ on,” continuing to bring you more about Carole and her contemporaries. Perhaps we collectively will uncover a “holy grail” or two, such as a film she made as a teen at Fox before her automobile accident. (It would also be fitting if a photo of Lombard and Jean Harlow together is discovered during the platinum blonde’s centenary year!)

I wish you joy and prosperity during the upcoming year; your interaction is always appreciated, and if you can spread the word about “Carole & Co.” to your classic film friends, I will be forever in your debt. (It would be a thrill to reach the 200-member level!)

If you’re not going out tonight (and if you are, please drive safely and soberly — we want you around for 2011!), a reminder that you can hear some great big band music, both from vintage-era recordings and the fine stylings of Barbara Rosene and her New Yorkers (live from the Omni Shoreham in Washington, D.C.), from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m. (Eastern) over WAMU-FM, 88.5 in the metro area and at online. It will almost be like those New Year’s Eve broadcasts of yore.

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Lombard-palooza, part 3

Posted by [info]vp19 on 2010.12.30 at 02:43
Current mood: gratefulgrateful

Now, the final group of photos of Carole Lombard being sold at eBay until shortly after noon (Eastern) today. All of them feature Carole with others, with three featuring her first husband and two other images relating to one of her movies. (And all can be bought for $14.99 each.)

But first, a portrait of Lombard with the woman she was closest to in her life…her mother:

This charming photo of Carole and Elizabeth Peters is at

Here’s Lombard in a group shot of the Selznick film “Made For Each Other,” with co-star James Stewart to her left and director John Cromwell to her right:

Find it at

There was one cast member not in the group shot for both child labor laws and because it likely was bedtime. We’re referring to Bonnie Belle Barber, who plays the newborn. “Mother” Carole does some character bonding in this delightful shot:

Oh baby, is that cute — and you can learn more about it at

Now for a trio with William Powell. First up, Bill and Carole dancing at the Cocoanut Grove in 1933; this may have been one of their post-divorce outings that led some to incorrectly assume they would remarry:

Next, Powell and Lombard at the Ambassador Hotel (site of the Cocoanut Grove) with Mary Carlisle (who will turn 99 Feb. 3) and James Gleason:

The last Lombard-Powell pic finds them at a costume party (with Carole wearing that 1890s outfit we saw her in early last month). We’re not sure who the other woman is, but the man without the mustache is Clive Brook, British leading man whose films included “Shanghai Express” and “Cavalcade.”

The Cocoanut Grove photo is at, the Ambassador Hotel pic at and the costume party shot is at

Two more photos remain. First, Carole and Una Merkel take a break during work on “True Confession,” on location at Lake Arrowhead:

Find Carole and Una at

The Lombard-palooza ends at the El Mirador in Palm Springs, where Carole is seen with Paul Lukas, whom she worked with in “No One Man,” and a fine comedic character actor she never collaborated with, Eric Blore:

And this image is available at

Once more, my kudos to Tally for her wonderful work on these photos.

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Lombard-palooza, part 2

Posted by [info]vp19 on 2010.12.30 at 00:56
Current mood: amusedamused

Enjoyed that last batch of Carole Lombard pics now up for sale at eBay for $14.99 each? Well, here are some more — but just remember, they’ll only be around until a few minutes after noon (Eastern), so hurry.

First up, a lovably laughing Lombard, likely taken during that week in the summer of 1938 when she handled publicity for Selznick International:

If you’d like that as part of your Carole collection, go to

From the ridiculous to the sublime…Lombard in a fetching white hat:

Check it out at

For these next two, Carole is clad in gowns. First, she’s next to a pillar:

You’ll find it at

Here, Lombard graces the head of a huge marble bust (lucky bust!):

This one is at

Carole shows off an attractive beaded gown:

To learn more, go to

Several showgirl portraits of Carole are extant from “Swing High, Swing Low,” but this one arguably shows off those Lombard legs to their best advantage:

This image is at

We’ll close this batch with Carole and Clark Gable out for a ride when this candid pic was taken. They look a bit bemused, but then again the concept of paparazzi was still more than two decades in the future…

If you’d like to go along for the ride, head over to

Again, thanks to Tally for her yeoman work.

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Lombard-palooza, part 1

Posted by [info]vp19 on 2010.12.29 at 23:38
Current mood: accomplishedaccomplished

A lot of rare Carole Lombard photos are being sold in a batch at eBay — so many, in fact, that it will take more than one entry to show them all (and that’s on top of the entries earlier this week). The sale will end shortly after the noon hour (Eastern) tomorrow, so if you want ’em, make your claim.

Each of these are 8″ x 10″, sell for $14.99 each, and the seller has multiple copies available. Ready? Here goes:

Several images of Carole shooting an arrow have emerged over the years, but I’m not sure I’ve seen these two before:

For the first, go to The second can be found at

Over the years, I’ve seen a number of photos of Lombard at a microphone, but this CBS image looks to be a new one:

This image of network radio and Hollywood star power joining forces is at

We’ve noted that in January 1935, Carole journeyed to Cuba, stopping in Miami on the way. Here’s the first photo I’ve seen from that trip — Lombard at the Biltmore Country Club in Miami:

This is at

Here’s an image taken by a fan at Sardi’s (I presume this is the restaurant in Hollywood, not the one in New York):

Want it? Go to

Next up, another candid from a fan, but this one was shot at a race track — and it looks as if her horse finished out of the running:

This is available at

Here’s one more horse-related image, with Lombard looking as if she’s ready to ride (this may have been taken for the film “I Take This Woman,” which has some equestrian scenes):

If you wish to add it to your collection, visit

This batch concludes with Lombard and Clark Gable, at a silver jubilee party for Paramount mogul Adolph Zukor in 1937; it must have been early in the year, since Clark’s got his “Parnell” sideburns on (and Carole is no doubt thinking of yet another way to rib him about this ill-suited role!):

This pic is at

Many thanks to Tally for her work on these images.

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70 years ago today…Carole and Clark in the capital

Posted by [info]vp19 on 2010.12.29 at 01:35
Current mood: nostalgicnostalgic

Imagine if Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie paid a visit to Washington, D.C., not only seeing the many sights of the nation’s capital but having an audience with the president of the United States. People magazine, Us Weekly and other celebrity magazines would have a field day; the public would be swamped with photos, and the White House would pull out all the stops to publicize the meeting.

But 70 years ago today, much the same thing happened, and it received comparatively little attention.

That’s right — on Dec. 29, 1940, Clark Gable and Carole Lombard arrived in Washington. They saw most of the things everyday tourists did — the Capitol, the Washington Monument, Mount Vernon — and some off-limits to said tourists, such as being in an audience of 20 in the White House when President Franklin D. Roosevelt gave one of his “fireside chats” that night, specifically his famed “arsenal of democracy” speech where the U.S. pledged its support of Britain ( The two actors reportedly had a half-hour conversation with FDR after the speech.

However, try as I might, I have yet to come across a photo of the Gables with Roosevelt; in fact, I’ve never found any photos of Clark and Carole’s D.C. sojourn online. (One of the Washington papers — I’m not sure whether it was the Post or the Star –– did photograph Gable and Lombard while they were being interviewed in their hotel room. However, it’s never ventured outside of the microfilm copy of that day’s paper.) The photo above was taken in Los Angeles; you can make out the “SAN VINCENTE BLVD.” in the background.

So while we don’t have any photos of the couple in D.C., we can tell you that while in town, they stayed at one of its most famous hotels, the Shoreham.

Now known as the Omni Shoreham, the hotel — close to Rock Creek Park and the National Zoo — opened for business on Oct. 30, 1930. The ambitious plan that night was to have red-hot radio and recording star Rudy Vallee arrive by airplane.

Unfortunately, inclement weather delayed Vallee’s arrival for several hours, and while he and his Connecticut Yankees did perform, it was for all of 15 minutes. (Also on the bill was Lina Basquette, a noted Ziegfeld Follies performer who had acted with Lombard in the 1928 Pathe film “Show Folks.”)

Many inaugural balls were held at the Shoreham, beginning with one for Roosevelt in 1933. The hotel’s Blue Room has hosted many top-flight entertainers, including Benny Goodman, Peggy Lee, Tony Bennett, Aretha Franklin and Judy Garland. (In 1965, Liza Minnelli made her first public appearance at the Blue Room.) But unquestionably, the performer most identified with the Blue Room is none of these.

Mark Russell, whose satiric political specials were PBS favorites for many years, called the Shoreham his home for two decades, using his gentle — but pointed — wit to poke fun at the American scene.

More than a few members of Congress have resided at the Shoreham. It was also where the Beatles lodged in February 1964, when they gave their initial U.S. concert at the Washington Coliseum.

I’ve spent some time discussing this hotel because on Friday, one of our favorite acts will be performing there. Jazz vocalist Barbara Rosene, who does wonders with the Great American Songbook in general, and ’20s and ’30s compositions in particular, will ring in the new year with her talented musicians, the New Yorkers. The event — “A Hot Jazz New Year’s Eve Live With Rob Bamberger” — is a sellout, but you’ll still able to enjoy much of it because part of the show will be carried over WAMU-FM ( from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m. (Eastern). Rosene, previously profiled here (, is a Lombard fan (her favorite film is “Hands Across The Table”), and she was delighted to learn that Carole and Clark stayed at the Shoreham 70 years ago.

Here’s Rosene performing “It Had To Be You” at New York’s Iridium Jazz Club; you can find more about her, and purchase her CDs, at

Oh, and as it turns out, we do have one Washington-related photograph of Clark and Carole, though it was taken just across the Potomac River in Virginia. It’s on Jan. 6, 1941, as the couple prepares to head home to California. They had spent another day sightseeing in D.C. after several days at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore (ostensibly to check on Gable’s nagging shoulder injury, but actually to discover why the couple couldn’t conceive). Lombard, who said she planned to return to the capital, never got the chance.

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March, to more pics of Louella

Posted by [info]vp19 on 2010.12.28 at 00:39
Current mood: chipperchipper

Today, four more relatively rare Carole Lombard images — two featuring a notable co-star, and two with a powerful Hollywood columnist.

All measure 8″ x 10″, sell for $14.99 (all have multiple copies available) and the sale on all ends shortly after noon (Eastern) on Thursday.

First, Lombard with Fredric March outside the Brown Derby:

We know these were taken as they were leaving the restaurant, but beyond that I have no information. The first one is at, the second at

Yesterday, we saw a photo of Lombard with co-star Fred MacMurray and Hearst columnist Louella Parsons. Here they are again, joined by actress Cecil Cunningham and director Mitchell Leisen:

I’m guessing this was taken at Louella’s CBS radio show — and it looks as if all four of her guests are singing! If you want this 8″ x 10″ photo, or simply want to learn more, visit

In this one, Lombard and Louella are joined by George Raft, Dick Powell and an unidentified man:

This is also from a radio broadcast, and it’s the first time I’ve seen Carole in a photo with Dick Powell; she would not live to see him alter his image from song-and-dance man to cool film noir star. Want to own it? Go to

Again, thanks to Tally for her work on these photos.

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Riskin these pictures? You be the Judge

Posted by [info]vp19 on 2010.12.27 at 07:14
Current mood: cheerfulcheerful

Two rare photos of Carole Lombard with her second husband, and two others picturing her with the man who might have had that honor, are among images being offered through eBay. All the following measure 8″ x 10″ and are being sold for $14.99, with selling ending shortly after noon (Eastern) on Thursday. (As of this writing, at least four copies of each are available.)

That’s Carole with Clark Gable, and according to the seller, “this is not a professional studio photograph but taken by a fan at an event.” Judging from what Clark and Carole are wearing, I had guessed this event was the Atlanta premiere of “Gone With The Wind” in December 1939, but others say it was the Greek War Relief event of January 1941. And if a fan actually took this — some are skeptical a non-professional could have come so close to Clark and Carole — he or she did a nice job with this pic.

Here’s another casual image of the Gables:

This was supposedly taken at a sporting event, but I’m not sure which one.

For the first photo, go to For the second, visit

But as stated earlier, Lombard might well have had a different second husband — and one who also won an Academy Award for work on “It Happened One Night.” We’re referring to noted screenwriter Robert Riskin:

Not sure where the first pic was taken, but the second was shot outside the Trocadero (and dig the high heels Carole is wearing!). As stated earlier, the couple might have married if Riskin had been more enthusiastic about having children (which he eventually did with later wife Fay Wray).

Find the first photo at, the second at

We have two more Lombard images to show you. First, Carole with frequent co-star Fred MacMurray as they curry favor with Hearst Hollywood columnist Louella Parsons:

It’s hard to figure out what Fred is holding (incidentally, kudos to Tally for her work on these photos), but it appears to be sheet music — which would make sense, since MacMurray was a musician before turning to acting. Might this be to promote “Swing High, Swing Low”?

To learn more about the photo, go to

Finally, Lombard back at the Trocadero, but this time she’s inside the fabled West Hollywood nightclub, posing with another 1930s actress:

That’s Arline Judge, who had supporting roles in a variety of films, but was better known for her love life. She would marry eight times, as often as the more celebrated Lana Turner; in fact, they shared a husband, Henry J. “Bob” Topping. (Judge was also married to his equally wealthy and better-known brother, Dan Topping.) Arline’s first marriage was to Lombard director Wesley Ruggles, and it lasted nearly six years before their divorce in 1937.

This photo is available at

(It’s been noted Carole also wore this dress in a photo where she’s seen with Gable, Cary Grant and Ricardo Cortez, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it was taken at the Troc.)

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And they’re off! (Horsing around at Santa Anita)

Posted by [info]vp19 on 2010.12.26 at 01:19
Current mood: nostalgicnostalgic

Nearing their first wedding anniversary, Carole Lombard and Clark Gable enjoy a day at the track on March 2, 1940. Here’s how the Associated Press caption that day explained it:

“LOS ANGELES, March 2 — CHEERING HOME THE WINNER — Clark Gable and his wife, Carole Lombard, were among hundreds of film folk who watched Seabiscuit establish himself as the all-time high money winner in turf history by capturing the $100,000 added Santa Anita Handicap, world’s richest horse race, today.”

Tens of thousands of everyday southern Californians joined the Hollywood high rollers in watching West Coast favorite Seabiscuit continue his dominance of the sport.

Carole and Clark were no stranger to racetracks, regularly playing the horses even during their previous marriages. In fact, here’s a photo from Santa Anita in 1940 (don’t know whether it was taken on the same date as the Gable-Lombard picture) showing Lombard’s ex, William Powell, and his new wife, Diana Lewis:

Another Santa Anita habitue was Janet Gaynor:

Why are we focusing on Santa Anita? Because today, the famed thoroughbred track in Arcadia, Calif., opens its gates, 76 years and a day after it began hosting races. (It went dark for two seasons during World War II.) It’s a southern California landmark, both for the great races — and horses — that it’s hosted, and for its marvelous aesthetics that makes it among the jewels of the sport:

It should come as no surprise that a number of films and television series have been shot at Santa Anita, including the Marx Brothers’ “A Day At The Races,” Bob Hope’s “The Lemon Drop Kid” and “A Star Is Born” (not the Gaynor version, but Judy Garland’s). More recently, Santa Anita has been regularly used in the HBO series “Luck,” starring Dustin Hoffman.

To honor its film and TV heritage, Santa Anita is giving away a commemorative 2011 wall calendar with images from these productions with paid admission today (it’s $5 — and with luck, you might make it up at the parimutuel window). Even if you don’t wager, it’s a fun place to visit, with the San Gabriel Mountains serving as a dramatic backdrop.

The gates open at 10 a.m. (Pacific), with the initial race at noon; if you live in the Los Angeles area, it’s worth a trip. For more about today’s promotion, including a home video of a visit someone made last February (the track has a wall of pictures showing its ties to classic Hollywood), go to The official track site is at

Good luck — and cash ’em, don’t trash ’em.

Oh, and to get you in the mood for a day at the races, here’s the famed “Fugue For Tinhorns” from the 1955 film “Guys And Dolls.” I got the horse right here…

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A Christmas Carole (and company)

Posted by [info]vp19 on 2010.12.25 at 00:43
Current mood: happyhappy

“And so this is Christmas,” to borrow a line from John Lennon, and I hope for this holiday — whether or not you observe it — that you are safe and secure, with loved ones close by. To spread some Christmas cheer, we have a few holiday pictures involving Carole Lombard and several of her Hollywood contemporaries.

First, a Lombard Christmas photo that isn’t reprinted all that often, perhaps because it isn’t humorous…but it is lovely:

Next, a woodburned plaque Carole made to accompany a gift of bedroom furniture she and Clark Gable gave personal secretary Jean Garceau and her husband Russ:

Also note, in closeup, the “Clarkie” Lombard put on the plaque:

Now to one of Carole’s former loves and two of her film friends. First, here’s a photo of ex-husband William Powell and his flame at the time, Lombard’s pal Jean Harlow:

The photo comes from either 1935 or 1936; I’m guessing it to be the former. And can anyone identify the people with Powell and Harlow? I’m sensing most, if not all, are fellow MGM employees. (I briefly believed the woman at far right might be Joan Crawford, but I doubt it since she was one of the few people at MGM who didn’t like Harlow.)

And speaking of Jean, some more news about the upcoming “Harlow In Hollywood” book that we mentioned two weeks ago (

The special pre-order offer we noted earlier — not only can you save 30 percent off the $50 list price, but authors Mark A. Vieira and Darrell Rooney will personalize your copies — will now be available through Dec. 31 from the publisher, Angel City Press. To find out more, go to

Finally, a photo that isn’t expressly about Christmas…but it does show a young Myrna Loy with a reindeer fresh from the Russian steppes. (And just what is that item Myrna is feeding him?)

This looks to be from the late 1920s, when Loy was a Warners starlet. Silly, but charming.

A merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night — but before we go, how about one more song of the season? This may be the holiday song most associated with Frank Sinatra, since he recorded it a number of times, “The Christmas Waltz.” He did it twice for Capitol; I believe this is the 1957 version, from his album “A Jolly Christmas.” And as the song says, may your New Year’s dreams come true.

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ombard & classic Hollywood

carole lombard christmas 01

Swing high, swing higher, swing highest

Posted by [info]vp19 on 2010.12.24 at 01:03
Current mood: artisticartistic

Here are some Carole Lombard items you won’t be able to give in time for Christmas (BTW, do you like the holiday-themed avatar?), but if the Lombard fan on your list is especially fond of “Swing High, Swing Low,” he or she won’t mind if they’re a bit tardy. For these are a trio of original 8″ x 10″ photographs from the film, Paramount’s biggest moneymaker for all of 1937; two of them even have the snipes on the back (explaining why this seller begins bids on each of them at $125, and possibly also why none have received a bid as of this writing).

Above is the photo that lacks a snipe, but it’s a lovely image just the same, with Carole pensively portraying singer Maggie King. It will be available until 1:33 a.m. (Eastern) Christmas morning, about the time some of you on the East Coast may be spying on Santa. Find it at×10-Photo-CAROLE-LOMBARD-Swing-High-Swing-Low-/250746015147?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item3a61a08dab. (Please note this seller will only ship to U.S. addresses.)

Next, a familiar, leggy Lombard pose, with the snipe below:

It reads, “SPANGLES FOR CAROLE! La Lombard appears as a nightclub singer in Paramount’s ‘Swing High, Swing Low,’ thrilling ‘ups and downs’ love story in which she is seen with Fred MacMurray. Carole sings several numbers as a part of her glamorous role opposite MacMurray. They are seen together for the third time.”

Bids on this close three minutes later than the first photo. Learn more at×10-Photo-CAROLE-LOMBARD-Swing-High-Swing-Low-/250746015685?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item3a61a08fc5.

And here’s the third pic, with MacMurray joining her:

The seller lists this as a George Hurrell portrait, which it well may be; by that time, he was freelancing and not under contract to any particular studio, and Paramount may have sought his services for what it saw as a top-of-the-line feature. Here’s the snipe:

“TENDERLY ROMANTIC — there are a lot of sad moments in the lives of Carole Lombard, cabaret singer, and Fred MacMurray, ex-soldier who is a genius on the trumpet, in Paramount’s ‘Swing High, Swing Low.’ But there are a lot of laughs, too, as they find the key to romance and then throw it away. They’re together for the third time in this production.”

Bids on this close at 1:40 a.m. (Eastern) Christmas morn. To bid, or get more information, check out×10-Photo-CAROLE-LOMBARD-FRED-MacMURRAY-Hurrell-/320633765255?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item4aa742fd87.

To close this entry, a song of the season — the 2009 version of a tradition on David Letterman’s show, Darlene Love’s wonderful “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home).” And in case you haven’t heard the news, Love will be among the latest class of inductees into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame, an honor well deserved. Enjoy, and merry Christmas.

Rumors, rumors

Posted by [info]vp19 on 2010.12.23 at 01:11
Current mood: confusedconfused

It’s a few days before Christmas, 1940 — Dec. 20, to be exact. And that morning, at a certain home in Encino, Calif., one wishes we could have seen the reaction of its two occupants to this Jimmie Fidler item kicking off his syndicated column, which ran locally in the Los Angeles Times:

For those of you not wishing to double-click, this particular item reads:

“The sort of rumors I hate to hear are coming out Lombard-Gable way, with an important decision due to be made soon by Carole…”

What kind of decision, hundreds of thousands of movie fans probably wondered? Carole Lombard and Clark Gable were arguably the number-one couple in town (apologies to Barbara Stanwyck and Robert Taylor, Vivien Leigh and Laurence Olivier, and a few other duos), and the phrase “rumors I hate to hear” likely led to all sorts of conjecture.

Was their marriage, now nearing 21 months, on the rocks? (Perhaps Lombard’s decision, some thought, was to do what she had done with her marriage to William Powell more than seven years earlier — end it.) Or was Carole, who paradoxically had occasional health problems despite her athleticism, feeling under the weather once more? Whatever, Fidler made it appear Lombard’s mood more reflected the icy photo below than the cheerful one above:

Dec. 20 was a Friday, and it’s entirely possible that if either Carole or Clark ventured outside the Encino ranch that day, someone may have asked them about what Fidler wrote; they probably responded with a “no comment” or something to that effect. (One doubts that close friends of the couple would have asked such a question in the first place.)

As we now know, less than a week after this appeared, on Dec. 26, Lombard and Gable boarded an eastbound train in Pasadena…

…changed trains in Chicago…

…and wound up in Washington. There they saw the usual tourist attractions of the nation’s capital — the Washington Monument, the Capitol, Mount Vernon in nearby Virginia — but they also met President Franklin D. Roosevelt and watched him deliver one of his more notable “fireside chats” (specifically his “arsenal of democracy” speech). They would come back to D.C. in about a week after spending several days in Baltimore at Johns Hopkins Hospital:

Publicly, it was to examine Clark’s injured shoulder, but many years later it was discovered the real purpose of the trip was to discover why the couple had been unable to conceive.

Did Fidler know this? I can’t imagine the Gables would have disclosed such private information to anybody, much less a Hollywood columnist. On the other hand, this may have been a story Carole concocted to throw the public a curve before the trip east; by now, both she and Clark knew how the publicity game was played. If it was the latter case, the ruse worked.

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Three from the early ’30s

Posted by [info]vp19 on 2010.12.22 at 08:19
Current mood: indescribableindescribable

Here are a triumvirate of Carole Lombard items from the early 1930s, her initial years at Paramount, being auctioned at eBay.

First, this image from 1930, p1202-76:

It’s an original photo, a lovely pose of Lombard in a gown. There is a significant tear on the left side, but other than that, it’s in very good condition.

This item is being auctioned with a starting bid of $24.99, but hurry; bidding closes at 7:43 p.m. (Eastern) tonight. To find out more, go to

In 1930, Lombard began her Paramount tenure with a supporting role in the Charles “Buddy” Rogers vehicle “Safety In Numbers.” A glass slide promoting the film is now available:

There’s a crack in the slide and assorted smudges (including one near Lombard’s eye), but otherwise it’s in decent shape for its 80-year-old age.

You can buy the slide straight up for $9.59 (marked down from $11.99), or make an offer. The sale closes at 1:49 p.m. (Eastern) Thursday, and for those who collect Lombard slides, this would be a rare addition. Learn more at

Finally, Carole (by now with “e” in her first name) and car:

It’s Paramount p1202-322, probably taken on the studio lot. (The seller believes the photo to be from 1935, but the number on the photo — and her hairstyle — indicates it’s probably from about 1932.) I believe it’s a reproduction, not an original, but we know it’s an 8″ x 10″ glossy.

Bidding opens at $6.99 (no bids have been made as of this writing), with bids closing at 2:30 p.m. (Eastern) Thursday. Check it out at


Carole, Marlene and…

Posted by [info]vp19 on 2010.12.21 at 08:43
Current mood: impressedimpressed


Two of the three ladies in this photo are 1930s icons, Paramount stars and symbols of glamour. (Thanks to Tally for her work on this picture.) But just who is that in between Carole Lombard and Marlene Dietrich?

The answer: Someone you may have heard of, but don’t recognize. She was well-known on the Hollywood party circuit (this photo was taken at Dietrich’s Beverly Hills house in 1935), though she wasn’t in the movies herself. But her son certainly was…

That shot of Clifton Webb is from the trailer for the 1944 Twentieth Century-Fox film “Laura,” where he plays acerbic writer Waldo Lydecker (gaining the first of his two Academy Award nominations). Webb was renowned for his devotion to his mother, Maybelle Webb; while that devotion may have been genuine (she battled tirelessly with producers and directors to boost Clifton’s career), it’s possible that some of that devotion was designed as a deflection against his status as a gay man.

Maybelle Webb remained a Hollywood party fixture into the late 1950s, and died in 1960 at age 91. Friend Noel Coward said of her son, “It must be tough to be orphaned at seventy-one.” Webb somehow managed, dying in 1966.

This 11″ x 14″ photo is being auctioned at eBay, with bids beginning at $24.88 (none have been made as of this writing); bidding closes at 6:09 p.m. (Eastern) Wednesday. To find out more, go to

Here’s another photo Tally worked on:

We don’t know who’s with Carole, but we do know where (and when) the picture was taken. It was taken in 1933, on the set of “White Woman.” I’m guessing the guests with Lombard are from India or someplace in south Asia, examining a film set in southeast Asia.

This photo is also being auctioned at eBay. One bid, for $19.99, has already been made as of this writing. You don’t have much time to get involved, since bidding closes at 1:58 p.m. (Eastern) today — but if you’re interested in this original 8″ x 10″ doubleweight photo, go to×10-Photo-/400181021508?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item5d2ca5cb44.

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Lombard, Loy, etc. — fabulous!

Posted by [info]vp19 on 2010.12.20 at 00:30
Current mood: satisfiedsatisfied

“My story is much too sad to be told,
But practically ev’rything leaves me totally cold
The only exception I know is the case
When I’m out on a quiet spree
Fighting vainly the old ennui
And I suddenly turn and see
Your fabulous face…”
— “I Get A Kick Out Of You,” Cole Porter

That last line (notably in Frank Sinatra’s 1953 version of the standard) invariably conjures up thoughts of this book, among the first books I purchased after I developed an interest in Carole Lombard:

It’s called “More Fabulous Faces,” and it was written by Larry Carr in 1979 as a followup to his successful “Four Fabulous Faces,” which had been issued nine years earlier:

That first book examined Joan Crawford, Marlene Dietrich, Greta Garbo and Gloria Swanson; in the sequel, Lombard gets similar treatment, along with Bette Davis, Dolores Del Rio, Katharine Hepburn and Myrna Loy. (When the books were issued, Carole was the only one of the nine stars no longer living.)

Each profile features dozens of photos of the actress (the Lombard segment has 154 pics of her), along with detailed discussions of how her look evolved over the years. (Carr interviewed Loy, and her thoughts are particularly illuminating.)

As one reviewer to wrote in 2005:

I’ve always felt Davis and Hepburn may have been included for their still being household names and good selling points for the book, though they certainly deserve to be in here, Carr is clearly not as enthusiastic about them as the other ladies and Davis particularly gets a bit of criticism that is sound but seems a little inappropriate given the way he praises Del Rio, Loy, and Lombard to the skies.

Since Lombard and Loy are my two all-time favorite actresses, I’m not complaining.

Now, you can get “More Fabulous Faces,” as it’s available at eBay. Bids start at $8.99 (none have been made as of this writing), and bidding closes at 8:16 p.m. (Eastern) Wednesday. The 265-page book is considered to be in very good condition. To bid, or learn more, go to

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The roles she never took

Posted by [info]vp19 on 2010.12.19 at 06:28
Current mood: curiouscurious

All of us have roads not taken, directions we decided not to follow. The same is certainly true for actors, and a site I’ve just discovered, “Crawley’s Casting Calls” (, leads us on the roles actors — for one reason or another — didn’t play.

Tony Crawley, who has written several film books, has compiled a list of film and TV roles not played by more than 4,000 actors…and yes, Carole Lombard is one of them. He lists 25 movies Lombard didn’t take part in for one reason or another, everything from “The Gold Rush” to the movie she had planned to do at the time of her death, “They All Kissed The Bride.”

And while 25 is a pretty good number considering her relatively brief life, it pales in comparison to some other actors. According to Crawley, Marlon Brando was part of 128 projects he ultimately never made, followed by 110 for Jack Nicholson and 102 for Cary Grant. Tops among actresses is Bette Davis, with 57; Elizabeth Taylor, 53; and Julie Christie, 52.

The Lombard list contains several projects you normally don’t associate with her, such as:

* “A Bill Of Divorcement” (1932). While Katharine Hepburn’s screen test for her film debut supposedly didn’t thrill either producer David O. Selznick or director George Cukor (ironic, since Hepburn would wind up making 10 films with him), Carole’s test was apparently even worse.

* “Peter Ibbetson” (1935). Had Sidney Franklin directed this film, Lombard would have played Gary Cooper’s lover…but Henry Hathaway went behind the camera instead and selected Ann Harding for the part.

* “Exclusive” (1937). Carole would have played a newspaper reporter, with Fred MacMurray a scribe for a rival daily. She turned it down (whether she was dissatisfied with the script or didn’t want to team up once more with MacMurray is uncertain), and Frances Farmer got the part.

* “You And Me” (1938). This film, written by Norman Krasna, was to have co-starred Carole and George Raft — and he was to have directed as well, which neither Raft nor Lombard wanted. The film was ultimately directed by Fritz Lang at the behest of Sylvia Sidney, who at the time was the mistress of Paramount mogul B.P. Schulberg.

* “Bringing Up Baby” (1938). Reportedly Howard Hawks wanted Carole, whom he’d worked with in “Twentieth Century,” to play flighty heiress Susan Vance, but things couldn’t be worked out so he settled for Hepburn instead. (Imagine an alternate movie universe where Lombard is in “Bringing Up Baby” and Kate has Carole’s part in “In Name Only,” made in 1939.)

Some of these stories may be hearsay, and there are a few errors that undermine the reader’s confidence (Crawley writes that Lombard’s fatal plane crash took off from Texas, and that she was 34 at the time of her death). One story in particular lends itself to controversy; it deals with the film “The Greeks Had A Word For Them” (1932).

That’s Madge Evans, Joan Blondell and Ina Claire as the three gold-diggers in this Samuel Goldwyn adaptation of the Broadway comedy “The Greeks Had A Word For It” (the title was altered because the original was on the Hays Office list of banned titles). According to Crawley, Carole was initially envisioned in the part Blondell wound up with:

“Producer Samuel Goldwyn gave the role to Ina Claire, but shopped around for a dizzier blonde. Warned off Jean Harlow, he borrowed Paramount’s Profane Angel — too sick to continue after two weeks. Enter: Blondell. ‘Nobody believed she was sick,’ says Claire, sick, herself, at being relegated to a smaller role. ‘I think she knew it was a lousy movie and just wanted out.’ Other rumours insisted Carole was away aborting a baby by William Powell, Harlow’s final lover.”

A “lousy movie”? While hardly a classic, “The Greeks Had A Word For Them” is generally considered a decent pre-Code comedy. (When the film was aired on TV, its title was further bowdlerized into “The Three Broadway Girls.”) But what’s especially intriguing from a Lombard perspective are the intimations that she had an abortion…something no biographer of her has alleged.

It’s known that several years later, Powell impregnated Harlow, who had an abortion; of course, they were not married. (It’s also been claimed that Harlow’s mother forced Jean to abort, and that Powell was unaware of the pregnancy.) And at about that time, Lombard declined marrying screenwriter Robert Riskin because she wanted children and he didn’t.

“The Greeks Had A Word For Them” was released in February 1932, less than eight months after Powell and Lombard had married. This leads to all sorts of conjecture, especially since it’s known that studios in that era often used the cover of “illness” to allow — or coerce — their actresses to have abortions.

That Lombard and Powell remained close following their 1933 divorce leads one to believe that either an abortion never happened or she may have become pregnant prior to their marriage. (It also might have explained her inability to become pregnant during her marriage to Clark Gable; a poorly-performed abortion left Jane Russell unable to have children, to her lifelong regret.)

The list of Lombard films she didn’t appear in can be found at (A similar list for Miriam Hopkins has 14 movies, four of which Carole ultimately starred in.) Take the comments with a grain of salt, but conjecture is always fascinating.

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Honoring Jean’s birthday…just not on her birthday

Posted by [info]vp19 on 2010.12.18 at 07:19
Current mood: nostalgicnostalgic

It’s been said timing is everything, and for proof, witness how Turner Classic Movies is honoring the centenaries of two of Hollywood’s blonde goddesses. On Oct. 6, 2008 — 100 years to the day Carole Lombard was born — TCM in the U.S. ran several of her movies. Come March 3, 2011 — the 100th anniversary of Jean Harlow’s birth — TCM isn’t showing anything starring Harlow.

It’s just Jean’s luck that March 3 closes out TCM’s annual “31 Days Of Oscar,” showing films that were either nominated for or won Academy Awards. The “31 days” theme made sense when the ceremonies were held in March, but now, more often than not they take place in February, and perhaps “28 Days Of Oscar” just doesn’t have the same ring to it. (Memo to Harlow: In your next life, choose a better birth date.)

But if this seems as if TCM were neglecting Jean, far from it. The original blonde bombshell, whose look even Lombard briefly tried to emulate (albeit not in the platinum sense), will be TCM’s Star of the Month in March, just as Harlow’s good friend Carole was in October 2008. And the schedule of Jean’s films has just been released; they will air Tuesdays, from March 8 to 29.

People who consider Harlow merely a Marilyn Monroe prototype (an inaccurate perception; Monroe was emotionally more of a blonde Clara Bow, as both had hard-scrabble backgrounds compared to the comfortably middle-class Jean) will get a better idea of what Harlow was about from these 19 films. Curiously, “Hell’s Angels” — the film that put her on the map — isn’t in the package, and neither are early rarities such as “Iron Man” and “Goldie.” But what TCM is showing more than compensates.

March 8
* 8 p.m. —
Red-Headed Woman (1932). The film that convinced people Harlow could act; a pre-Code classic. With Chester Morris and Una Merkel.
* 9:30 p.m. — Three Wise Girls (1932). Perhaps the rarest of the Harlow films to be shown, this unites Jean with Mae Clarke and Marie Prevost as gold-diggers. (Sounds like a lower-tier version of “The Greeks Had A Word For Them,” a film for which Harlow and Lombard were once announced as cast members.)
* 10:45 p.m. — Riffraff (1936). Jean with Spencer Tracy as young marrieds in the fishing business.
* 12:30 a.m. — Suzy (1936). World War I intrigue with Cary Grant, who didn’t really become a top-rank star until after Harlow’s death in mid-1937, and Franchot Tone.

March 15
* 8 p.m. —
The Public Enemy (1931). This is really a James Cagney film, with Harlow as window dressing (and little more), but it’s a gangster gem, and features the famed grapefruit scene with Clarke.
* 9:30 p.m. — Bombshell (1933). Jean gently sends up Clara Bow, with whom she’d worked in 1929’s “The Saturday Night Kid,” in this Hollywood satire, with Lee Tracy and Frank Morgan.

* 11:15 p.m. — Libeled Lady (1936). Pure MGM star power (Harlow! Myrna Loy! William Powell! Spencer Tracy!) is on display in this splendid newspaper comedy. Harlow does a fine comedic turn here, and enjoy Powell’s fishing scene.
* 1 a.m. — Reckless (1935). Harlow’s other film with Powell (Tone’s in it, too) is a backstage drama, including Rosalind Russell in one of her early roles.
* 2:45 a.m. — Personal Property (1937). Jean’s next to last film, a comedy co-starring Robert Taylor in which the bailiff charged with disposing of a financially strapped widow’s estate pretends to be her butler.

March 22
* 8 p.m. —
Wife vs. Secretary (1936). This night’s schedule is devoted to Harlow’s films with Clark Gable (they had incredible on-screen sexual chemistry, but off-screen they were close pals, never lovers). This opener adds Myrna Loy as well, along with a young James Stewart as Harlow’s boyfriend.
* 9:45 p.m. — Red Dust (1932). Clark and Jean light up the screen with this steamy pre-Code offering set in Indochina, directed by Victor Fleming and co-starring Mary Astor.
* 11:15 p.m. — Hold Your Man (1933). Harlow’s a hard-boiled babe, Gable’s a con man; they wear down each other’s rough edges. This film also reflects racial attitudes of the time — to learn more, go to
* 1 a.m. — China Seas (1935). This film tries to emulate the steam of “Red Dust,” albeit in a defanged post-Code manner; Jean plays a character nicknamed “China Doll.” Russell and Wallace Beery round out the cast.
* 2:30 a.m. — The Secret Six (1931). When this gangster tale was made, Jean was still essentially eye candy and Clark a rough-hewn sort. Beery is the lead in this story of a secret society.
* 4 a.m. — Saratoga (1937). Harlow’s final film (she died midway through production, and Mary Dees doubled for her in much of the footage). Also featuring Lionel Barrymore.

March 29
* 8 p.m. —
Dinner At Eight (1933). This was MGM’s 1933 equivalent of “Grand Hotel,” its all-star production of the previous year. It wasn’t as big an award-winner, but is nonetheless plenty of fun, with Beery, John Barrymore and Marie Dressler (watch for her closing repartee with Harlow). Directed by George Cukor.
* 10 p.m. — The Girl From Missouri (1934). Once the Production Code was enforced in mid-1934, MGM tried to preserve Harlow’s appeal; this was its first attempt. With Tone and Lionel Barrymore.

* 11:30 p.m. — Platinum Blonde (1931). Jean’s the title character in this early Frank Capra film — she’s all of 20 here, but older than Loretta Young, a mere 18. Robert Williams steals the movie as a reporter; had he not died shortly after this hit theaters, he might have rivaled Gable and Cagney among the top male stars of the early ’30s.
* 1:15 a.m. — The Beast Of The City (1932). An important transitional film for Harlow, who heretofore had shown sex appeal and little more. She holds her own in this gangster drama starring Walter Huston, and it helped secure her an MGM contract.

All in all, a nice way to remember one of filmdom’s most beloved ladies, a sweet sex symbol with a sense of humor.

‘…a bittersweet image’

Posted by [info]vp19 on 2010.12.17 at 00:19
Current mood: contemplativecontemplative

We know that in the mid-1930s, Carole Lombard took some flying lessons and posed for several publicity photos near a plane ( — images that cause a twinge of unease today, knowing her fate. One more such photo has since emerged:

It’s p1202-1171, issued in early 1936. We also have the snipe, shown on the reverse:

As the seller of this photo notes, it’s “a joyous and sexy, but bittersweet image since this radiant star would die in a plane crash.”

The photo is 8″ x 10″, with slight creasing. Two bids have already been made, the highest at $13.49, and bidding will end at 4:10 p.m. (Eastern) Sunday. If you are interested in owning this rare image, go to

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Yule cheer for this ‘new’ Christmas Carol(e)

Posted by [info]vp19 on 2010.12.16 at 00:57
Current mood: jubilantjubilant

Greetings from central Virginia, where we are currently experiencing the season’s second snowfall — and we’re expecting a few inches when all is said and done. Come January and February, such precipitation will seem annoying…but for now, it’s sort of thrilling, because it helps one get in the Christmas mood. (Ironic, that, since it likely wasn’t snowing when and where the event Christmas celebrates occurred.)

Anyway, in honor of the season, a previously unseen holiday photo with Carole Lombard, from the Ace Photos site featured here earlier this month (

I’m almost certain this was taken during the late 1920s, either for Pathe or for Mack Sennett. In other Christmas photos of the time Lombard wore the Santa suit, but here some other starlet has the honors. (If anyone can identify either of the two women with Carole, it would be greatly appreciated.) There’s a number in the upper left-hand corner, which I believe reads “1927”; if that indicates when it was taken, this is almost certainly a Sennett photo, as Lombard didn’t begin working with Pathe until 1928.

Whatever, it’s a charming image, one I’d never seen before. Here’s wishing you and yours a splendid holiday.

Hollywood examines its tragedies, 1936

Posted by [info]vp19 on 2010.12.15 at 02:49
Current mood: melancholymelancholy

As was noted in Sunday’s entry at “Carole & Co.” (, today marks the 80th anniversary of the death of Carole Lombard’s close friend Diane Ellis, who worked with her at Pathe in the late 1920s, then rejoined her at Paramount the following year. Ellis, who had married in October 1930 after completing “Laughter” with Nancy Carroll, took a world tour on her honeymoon, fell ill in India and died in Madras.

That, and other tragedies involving friends of hers, led Lombard to believe she was some sort of jinx, adding an undercurrent of melancholy to her otherwise joyous personality — a part of her psyche that only amplified after Russ Columbo died in a freak accident on Labor Day weekend 1934.

This week also marks the 75th anniversary of the mysterious, still-unsolved death of Thelma Todd, popular star of many Hal Roach short comedies. The Los Angeles Times’ fine blog “The Daily Mirror” has reprinted many Times articles about the incident over the past few days (, and one of them holds particular fascination from our perspective.

It comes from the Times Sunday magazine of Jan. 19, 1936, barely a month after Todd’s death and only weeks after 1920s star John Gilbert had died of a heart attack. It led many film fans to wonder whether tragedy and the industry were inherent partners. In “Does Tragedy Haunt Hollywood?”, writer Gerald R. Burtnett said no, that such sudden deaths only received such scrutiny because of the victims’ fame:

(To read the article at full size, go to and

Burtnett examines an array of mysterious or sudden film-related deaths that had occurred over the past 14 years, beginning with the still-unsolved murder of director William Desmond Taylor. (Faulty copy editing inadvertently omitted his full name on first reference.) Ellis, a comparatively minor player who had only made a handful of films, isn’t mentioned, but other notables are — Mabel Normand, Rudolph Valentino, Paul Bern, Lilyan Tashman, Will Rogers.

Some observations:

* Not only is Columbo’s death noted, so is the ruse used by family and friends to prevent his ailing mother from knowing he had passed on. It’s amazing this news was made public, and in today’s society of instant mass communication, such an endeavor would be impossible to try.

* Lew Cody, who died unexpectedly in the summer of 1934, had ties to two others who left too soon. He had been married to Normand, who died in February 1930, and his final film, “Shoot The Works,” was also the swan song for Dorothy Dell, who died the same month in an auto accident at age 19. (Lombard would replace Dell as the female lead in “Now And Forever.”)

* Burtnett repeats the canard about Gilbert’s high-pitched voice giving him trouble in talkies; actually, his downfall was tied more to the public’s changing styles and tastes than his voice, which was at the very least adequate and suited to his personality. Either Burtnett didn’t know, or didn’t want to relate, MGM mogul Louis B. Mayer’s vendetta against Gilbert.

Whatever, it’s fascinating to see how Hollywood viewed itself in early 1936. One can imagine it being read that Sunday by Lombard and good friend Jean Harlow…and both would be added to this tragic list within six years.

Incidentally, Ellis’ final film, “Laughter,” can be found online at YouTube. Here’s part one of eight:


See Yanks and Bucs, thanks to Bing

Posted by [info]vp19 on 2010.12.14 at 02:44
Current mood: thankfulthankful

Carole Lombard made only one film with Bing Crosby, “We’re Not Dressing,” but she was an avid fan of his music and liked him a great deal. Both also enjoyed sports, including horse racing and baseball.

So if Lombard the baseball fan were around today, she would likely be thrilled that thanks to Crosby, a broadcast of one of the greatest games ever played, once thought lost, has been preserved…and the public can now see it.

In the 1940s, Crosby became part-owner of the Pittsburgh Pirates. (He’s shown chatting with Bucs coach and Hall of Fame shortstop Honus Wagner before a game at Forbes Field.) But when the long-suffering Pirates — whose last pennant had come in 1927, not long after Bing had begun recording — finally reached the promised land of the World Series in 1960, Crosby, fearing himself a jinx, decided to vacation in Europe. However, when it reached a seventh game, he hired a company to record it by kinescope, on 16mm film.

Bing presumably watched it when he got back, as the Pirates won the title by beating the Yankees 10-9 on what we would now call a walk-off homer by Bill Mazeroski, a second baseman better known for his defensive wizardry.

Crosby stored the five film reels with other tapes and films of his work in his wine cellar…but no one was aware they existed until last December, when Robert Bader, vice president of Bing Crosby Entertainment, came across them and discovered they were in pristine condition.

The MLB Network will air the game in its entirety at 8 p.m. (Eastern) on Wednesday. To accompany the telecast, host Bob Costas will interview some of the surviving players from both teams along with actor (and avid Pirate fan) Michael Keaton. (The game will later be available on DVD.) At 7:30, the channel will air “Bing And Baseball,” a look back on Crosby’s ownership of the Pirates and his interest in baseball.

The game, shown on NBC more than 50 years ago, is a fascinating artifact. It was played at Forbes Field, one of the landmark ballparks of yore, and broadcast by the Yankees’ Mel Allen and the Pirates’ Bob Prince, two of the greats in the booth. Managing was New York’s Casey Stengel and Pittsburgh’s Danny Murtaugh.

And the players? The Yanks featured Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris (in the first of his two MVP seasons, the year before he hit 61 homers), Bobby Richardson (who would be named the Series MVP, the only time it has gone to a player on a losing team), Yogi Berra and Elston Howard. The Pirates had Roberto Clemente (then a star, but not fully appreciated until another World Series 11 years later), Dick Groat and Hal Smith, whose three-run homer in the eighth had put Pittsburgh ahead until the Yanks rallied to tie in the ninth. (New York lost the Series despite outscoring the Pirates 55-27.)

It also marked the end of an era of sorts. Stengel was fired after the Series by the Yankees, whose management feared he was getting too old. Before October ended, baseball — whose major leagues had been at 16 teams since 1901 — decided to expand, if only to derail Branch Rickey’s proposed Continental League. After some initial uncertainty (interleague play was even brought up as a possibility!), it was decided the American League would expand to 10 teams in 1961, with the National League doing likewise in 1962. Stengel would resurface with the NL’s expansion Mets, who temporarily moved into the Polo Grounds, the upper Manhattan stadium the Giants had vacated to move to San Francisco.

This unique photo shows University of Pittsburgh students cheering on the Pirates from the university’s famed “cathedral of learning” near the Pitt campus. After Forbes Field was torn down, the university built a library on the site…preserving the left-field wall Mazeroski’s homer sailed over.

It should make for fun watching Wednesday night, especially for Pirates fans (their team hasn’t had a winning season since 1992, the longest such drought in MLB history). And we owe it all to the foresight of Bing Crosby.

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Carole and Ginger had nothing to ‘Hyde’

Posted by [info]vp19 on 2010.12.13 at 03:45
Current mood: scaredscared

They were two of Hollywood’s beauties of the 1930s, and for a while both were stablemates at RKO. But if a note from a column in 1940 is true, both Carole Lombard and Ginger Rogers had an opportunity to star in a film genre far removed from comedies or musicals…opposite one of the great leading men in film history.

Here’s syndicated columnist Jimmie Fidler, as seen in the Los Angeles Times of Dec. 11, 1940:

The item in question is at the top of the fourth paragraph:

“Both Carole Lombard and Ginger Rogers have turned down the fem lead in ‘Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,’ in which M.G.M. will star Spencer Tracy…” (Also note Fidler’s comment about Lombard later in the column.)

Interesting, because Lombard was at Paramount in 1932, the previous time “Jekyll & Hyde” was filmed (with Fredric March as the title characters), but as far as I know she was not considered for Ivy, the female prostitute in that version. (It went to Miriam Hopkins, shown below with March.)

I’ll leave it to the several fine Ginger Rogers blogs to discuss why she didn’t take the part, but from Lombard’s perspective, she may have believed:
1) It was too minor, and “reactive,” a role;
2) She wanted no part of the horror genre after the 1933 fiasco that was “Supernatural”;
3) If she was going to work at husband Clark Gable’s studio, she wanted an “A”-level vehicle of her own. (Why this never happened remains a mystery; maybe Louis B. Mayer believed Carole didn’t fit MGM’s middle American image, or perhaps he was reluctant to give Gable added power at the studio by hiring his wife.); and
4) Lombard, now past 30, deemed herself too old for the part. (Ivy was transformed from a prostitute to a barmaid to placate Joseph Breen.)

The film might have worked with Lombard in the role, and it would have been great to see Carole sharing a screen with Tracy. But, as we all know, the part was ultimately played by the young Swedish import, Ingrid Bergman, shown below with Tracy and Lana Turner as the fiancée. (Some reports state that the original casting for the MGM film was Turner as Ivy and Bergman as the fiancée, but Bergman persuaded her co-star that swapping roles would allow them both to show their range.)

The film was released in September 1941 and became a substantial hit.

But while Lombard may have rejected the film, she couldn’t completely escape from it. In March 1941, Gable’s good friend Tracy appeared at Clark and Carole’s second anniversary party on the MGM lot…in Hyde make-up.

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Doggin’ around for ‘High Voltage’

Posted by [info]vp19 on 2010.12.12 at 08:08
Current mood: melancholymelancholy

We haven’t checked the eBay roster of Carole Lombard items for several days, so let’s see some of the new goodies that are available.

Carole’s fondness for animals was well known, and in this Paramount publicity still she proves it by giving a dachshund a treat. (Given that breed’s build, it must really be hungry to stand up like that!) I’m not sure whether this is Commissioner, Lombard’s beloved dachshund; it’s p1202-616, meaning this was likely taken about 1933 or ’34, and I have no idea whether Commissioner was around then.

Anyway, this is an 8″ x 10″ doubleweight photo, not an original but printed from the original negative, according to the seller. Bids begin at $14.95; as of this writing, no one has bid on it yet, and bidding closes at 9:21 p.m. (Eastern) tonight. Interested? Go to

Next are a pair of stills from Lombard’s first all-talking film, 1929’s “High Voltage.” They are from the estate of a New Jersey theater owner (the seller hails from Bergen County, just across the Hudson from New York City), and both are stunning:

What also makes these photos special is the presence of Lombard’s good friend, Diane Ellis (the top photo in particular is as good an image as I’ve ever seen of her). Both actresses were released from Pathe’s roster before the end of 1929, likely because both were blondes who too closely resembled new signee Constance Bennett. Both ended up at Paramount, with Ellis providing spark to the 1930 Nancy Carroll film “Laughter.”

That October, Ellis married wealthy New Yorker Stephen Caldwell Millett Jr. in Paris, and they traveled the world on their honeymoon. While in India in early December, Ellis contracted a disease and died on Dec. 15 — 80 years ago Wednesday, five days before she would have turned 21.

The photos, 8″ x 10″ originals, are being sold as a pair for $8.98 — and surprisingly, as of this writing, no bids have been made. Bidding will close at 9:13 p.m. (Eastern) Monday. If you want to get in on the action, visit

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Hooray…’Harlow In Hollywood’ is on the horizon

Posted by [info]vp19 on 2010.12.11 at 08:06
Current mood: happyhappy

Each were icons of their era, one for her comedic style, the other as a sex symbol (although both could also excel in the other’s perceived domain). They shared friendships and romances with some of entertainment’s most renowned men. Both endured personal tragedies, and sadly, neither would live to one-third of a century.

And both were close friends, with generous, loving personalities that made them among the most beloved figures in Hollywood.

March 3 will mark the centenary of Carole Lombard’s pal Jean Harlow. We’ve previously noted that a book on Jean by Mark A. Vieira and Darrell Rooney will be issued on that date; now, we can tell you more about it. The book’s official title is “Harlow In Hollywood: The Blonde Bombshell in the Glamour Capital, 1928-1937,” and here’s the cover:

Really captures Jean’s spirit, doesn’t it? (Incidentally, according to Rooney, the title and Harlow’s silhouette will be embossed with a slight sheen.)

The book will measure 9″ x 12″, with 280 photographs (many of them previously unseen publicly) throughout its 240 pages. It’s to be published by Angel City Press, and beginning Tuesday, you can pre-order the book at a 30 percent discount from its $50 price, and get it autographed. Go to!/group.php?gid=112797408763424&v=wall, and according to Rooney, a link will be up in a few days (the discount will last through Dec. 23).

But wait, there’s more! To tie into the book’s release and Harlow’s centenary, the Max Factor Museum will hold a Harlow exhibit beginning March 3 and continuing through Labor Day weekend. (Factor helped Harlow refine her look — though it may not be indicative from the picture below — and in 1935, when he opened his headquarters which is now the museum, Jean christened the “Blonde Room.”)

The exhibit will include the Packard Jean owned and drove, along with the first-ever public viewing of the famed 1932 mural Paul Bern gave Jean as a wedding present (

Incidentally, the book will have a color photo of the mural. (A book signing is also planned at the Club View Drive house Harlow called home.)

All in all, a great way to celebrate the centennial of the birth of one of filmdom’s most iconic ladies. Now if we could only find that holy grail — a photo of Harlow and Lombard together…

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Carole, Thelma and roads not taken

Posted by [info]vp19 on 2010.12.10 at 09:01
Current mood: contemplativecontemplative

Carole Lombard and Thelma Todd were both beautiful blondes blessed with wonderful comedic ability, and accidents caused both of them to leave us much too soon. And while their career paths rarely crossed during their too-brief lifetimes, it’s certainly possible to envision circumstances where one might have followed in the other’s path. We’ve previously discussed how things might have been if Todd had went in Lombard’s direction; now, let’s flip things the other way.

That’s Lombard during her days at Mack Sennett, when she was part of their “bathing beauties” troupe appearing in many two-reelers. She learned a lot about comedic timing during her tenure there, but truth be told, Sennett had seen better days; his influence was waning even before sound had come on the scene.

In contrast, Sennett’s principal rival in the short comedy field, Hal Roach, was going strong thanks to the likes of Laurel & Hardy, Charley Chase and others. Todd appeared in both acts’ films, and soon was starring in a series of her own.

Had Sennett been as well off as Roach, might he have tried to do with Lombard what Roach did with Todd? It’s known that Mack respected Carole’s skills, beauty and commercial potential, and with sufficient resources (and vision), he might have designed a series for her. That wouldn’t have ensured Lombard would have accepted such a deal, though she was certainly fond of Sennett.

Or imagine Lombard, not Todd, portraying the “Margaret Dumont with sex appeal” role in “Monkey Business” or “Horse Feathers.” Heck, Paramount might have saved some money, since in 1931 and ’32, it already had Carole under contract. Of course, at that time, Lombard was not deemed a comedic actress by the studio (despite her earlier work with Sennett); heck, it could be argued Paramount didn’t deem her anything yet.

We bring this up because we are approaching the 75th anniversary of the still-unsolved death of Todd, and the “Daily Mirror” blog of the Los Angeles Times is looking back on the tragic incident and the newspaper’s ensuing coverage. It’s worth checking out for any Todd fan (she will be among the artists spotlighted in Turner Classic Movies’ January tribute to Roach). To see the Times Todd series, go to

It’s a wonderful museum; help keep it going

Posted by [info]vp19 on 2010.12.09 at 07:24
Current mood: hopefulhopeful

Had Carole Lombard lived longer, it’s a good bet she would have made more than one film with James Stewart. They teamed up for a few radio productions — and ironically, while each appeared on a “Lux Radio Theater” adaptation of “Made For Each Other,” neither was with each other — and while “Made For Each Other,” the movie, certainly has its flaws, they aren’t because of Lombard, Stewart, or their mutual chemistry. Lombard genuinely liked Stewart…and vice versa.

Stewart is arguably the quintessential American actor; he could excel in virtually any genre, and while he usually played heroic characters, he invariably gave them complexity, making them all the more human. (It’s ironic that about the only top actress of his time he never made a film with was Barbara Stanwyck, his equal in versatility.) While several actors, including Lombard, had traded part or all of their salary for back-end profits on a film, Stewart (joining forces with MCA’s Lew Wasserman) popularized the practice for good with the 1950 western “Winchester 73.”

And Stewart was as genuine off the movie set as he was on it. During World War II, he enlisted in the Army Air Corps, flying a number of combat missions and achieving the rank of colonel. (He remained in the Air Force Reserve after the war, retiring as a brigadier general.) He married, raised a family and became one of the movie colony’s most respected citizens. Many of you may recall his visits to “The Tonight Show,” including reading poetry he wrote about his dog. When Stewart died in July 1997 at age 89, he was mourned by not only film fans, but America.

Now, Stewart needs our help — not the man himself, but the museum honoring him in his hometown of Indiana, Pa. (It’s across the street from the hardware store his father owned.) As is the case for many museums these days, the struggling economy is hitting the Jimmy Stewart Museum hard. Charter bookings have declined, attendance is off and state funding has been cut.

It’s been said the museum needs a miracle a la George Bailey in Stewart’s most famous film, “It’s A Wonderful Life,” and through cash, you can be Clarence. Go to to learn more; the address is The Jimmy Stewart Museum, 835 Philadelphia St., Indiana, PA 15701.

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I see dead…celebrities (again)

Posted by [info]vp19 on 2010.12.08 at 08:12
Current mood: uncomfortableuncomfortable

Among the many regrets classic film fans have is that Carole Lombard and Cary Grant, shown above in the 1939 drama “In Name Only,” never starred in a comedy together. But that might soon change…well, sort of.

The British tabloid The Sun reported Monday that veteran movie director/producer George Lucas — in the words of British friend Mel Smith — “has been buying up the film rights to dead actors in the hope of using computer trickery to put them all together, so you’d have Orson Welles and Barbara Stanwyck alongside today’s stars.” (As might be expected, the Sun used neither Welles nor Stanwyck to illustrate the story, but Marilyn Monroe.)

It should be noted that Lucas has since denied he is acquiring the rights to deceased actors — although many of their images, such as those of Fred Astaire and John Wayne, have been used in commercials — and dead celebs are still marketable commodities. (Moreover, the Sun, a newspaper that runs topless photos of women each day, has never been noted as a paragon of journalistic integrity.)

However, as CGI technology continues to advance, reviving dead stars in new films appears inevitable. (Not that it’s such a new concept; Lombard was among the notables seen alongside Woody Allen as “chameleon” Leonard Zelig in the 1983 mockumentary “Zelig.”)

Part of me would be excited to see “new” Lombard product, but there would also be trepidation. I would have to be assured that the writers, directors and producers behind such a project would use the image of her and other actors no longer with us with intelligence and care. I’d feel a lot more confident if someone such as Peter Bogdanovich — who has knowledge of, and respect for, classic Hollywood — were involved than if it came “from the director of (insert latest frat-boy comedy here).” If only we could similarly resurrect directors such as Ernst Lubitsch and Howard Hawks, or writers such as Ben Hecht or Billy Wilder.

What would your ground rules be for the use of dead actors in films? Let’s have your input. Meanwhile, despite its potential pitfalls, the concept is tantalizing…imagine a movie in your mind co-starring Lombard and (husband) Clark Gable.


Pearl Harbor and Hollywood

Posted by [info]vp19 on 2010.12.07 at 09:10
Current mood: sadsad

It was 69 years ago today that “a day that will live in infamy” — as President Franklin D. Roosevelt so described it the following day — took place at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, a move that finally fully thrust the U.S. into World War II. Today, we’ll try to provide a snapshot of what life was like for Carole Lombard, and the Hollywood community, just before and after that tragic event.

Lombard was in the process of making “To Be Or Not To Be” as November 1941 turned into December. The press was invited to the set to watch Ernst Lubitsch and company at work, as the director labeled Jack Benny and Lombard’s characters “the Lunt and Fontanne of the Polish theatre.”

(It should be noted that while Carole’s previous film, “Mr. & Mrs. Smith,” had more or less concluded its domestic run, it was making the rounds in what was left of the overseas market. At this time, it was playing in New Zealand theaters, listed as “Recommended by the Censor for Adults”; ad copy also reminded New Zealanders, “Careless talk costs lives — don’t talk!” Also, a Palm Beach, Fla., theater was showing a reissue of “Made For Each Other” with James Stewart.)

In mid-November, Lombard denied three rumors when interviewed by Hearst’s Louella Parsons: She and husband Clark Gable were not adopting twin boys; ill health would force her retirement from films; and she preferred hunting to acting.

One marketing advantage “To Be Or Not To Be” seemingly had was the presence of Benny, radio’s top-rated star, who himself may not have been a top-flight movie attraction but whose popular show could promote the film. In fact, the Schenectady (N.Y.) Gazette of Dec. 6 reported in its radio column that on Sunday night, “Jack Benny and gang will entertain from the stage of the movie set where he is making a new picture,” and it was thought Carole might drop in as a guest star. If she had planned to do so, the events of that Sunday possibly made her beg off and decide to reschedule. Had Lombard lived, she probably would have appeared on Benny’s show on Jan. 25 or in February; instead, Benny canceled his program on Jan. 18 out of respect for her, and the air time was used for patriotic songs.

Elsewhere in Hollywood just after Dec. 7, it was announced that several films late in production or in post-production — “Canal Zone,” “To The Shores Of Tripoli” and the musical “I’ll Take Manila” — would be altered to reflect changing conditions. (That wasn’t a completely uncommon practice; Warners updated “Confessions Of A Nazi Spy” in the months after its initial release in May 1939 to reflect changes in Europe.) Several Japanese houseboys in the homes of several stars were arrested by the FBI, as was Michio Ito, a technical adviser on several films.

That was the world Hollywood was thrust in just after Pearl Harbor.

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Variations on a theme

Posted by [info]vp19 on 2010.12.06 at 07:49
Current mood: happyhappy

There are many nice things about the Carole Lombard photo gallery (as of this writing, 728 images strong) at profiled in yesterday’s entry. One of them is that often some of the pictures taken at a particular session are shown together, perhaps the intent of the person who posted them. Seeing them together gives a slightly different perspective on Lombard.

For example, take these two pics of Carole with a sombrero:

Or these two from 1930, among her first portraits at Paramount:

Here’s a trio of Lombard with her Palomino pony, Pico:

Or these two, taken in Travis Banton’s studio at Paramount:

And finally, this threesome from Pathe days in the late 1920s (these are apparently original photos, as they show their age):

All are on the same or adjoining pages.

I’ve become a fan of this site, and I think other Lombard fans would appreciate it, too.

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Playing an Ace

Posted by [info]vp19 on 2010.12.05 at 08:04
Current mood: enthralledenthralled

The adage goes that you learn something new every day. What I’ve learned today, courtesy of my friend Tally, is about a website with all sorts of photos — including more than 700 of Carole Lombard.

It’s, and the portrait you see above, Paramount p1202-1420 (or is that 1426?), is taken from the site. Here are a few others, just to whet your photographic appetite:

That last one looks to be a screengrab from “Virtue”; I doubt Columbia Pictures issued it as a publicity still, but I could be wrong. The Ace site also categorizes photos by individual film, though the above pic isn’t there. At the “Made For Each Other” gallery, I found this screengrab of Carole:

And this color image, almost certainly a screengrab, is at the “Nothing Sacred” gallery:

To go directly to Carole’s gallery, visit Relax and view the pictures, as Lombard likely would have done had laptops been around in 1934.

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In sun and snow

Posted by [info]vp19 on 2010.12.04 at 07:51
Current mood: coldcold

With much of the eastern U.S. scheduled to get snow today or tomorrow, it seems like a good idea to run this favorite portrait of Carole Lombard in a swimsuit, if only to warm you up a little…

It’s an 8″ x 10″ (most likely a reprint), and was taken about 1934 or ’35; love that look on her face, not to mention those magnificent legs. You can buy it for $4.99 by going to×10-92-/360308053756?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item53e40896fc.

And for those of you who enjoy snow, how about bidding on this “wintry” pic of Carole before you go out to the ski lodge? She’s watching Gene Raymond and Robert Montgomery go at it (most likely in fake snow on the RKO lot) in this original publicity still from “Mr. & Mrs. Smith”?

It’s 8″ x 10″, in very good condition, and will be available through 7:42 p.m. (Eastern) on Sunday. Bids begin at $9.99, and as of this writing no bids have been made. For more information, go to

Stay warm.

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A different ‘Screwball’ pitch

Posted by [info]vp19 on 2010.12.03 at 07:40
Current mood: gigglygiggly

As we watch Carole Lombard typing away, let’s examine a book — one entitled “Screwball.”

No, not that one, which we’ve often discussed here. This is the “Screwball” I’m referring to, which also has Carole on the cover:

This particular “Screwball” deals with the film genre Lombard was most associated with; it was written by Ed Sikov in 1989, with a forward by noted film critic Molly Haskell. At 10″ x 10″ — roughly the size of an early long-playing record jacket — it’s sort of a coffee-table volume, and in fact there are plenty of pictures throughout its 240 pages.

Sikov examines the rise and fall of the genre, and tries to define what is (and isn’t) screwball. (His definition of screwball includes “Topper,” though he doesn’t feel the same way about its two sequels.) Lombard is frequently mentioned throughout the book; Sikov writes at length about “Twentieth Century,” “My Man Godfrey,” “Nothing Sacred” and “Mr. & Mrs. Smith” (a film he admired before many other critics did).

The book contains lists of writers, directors, cinematographers and a selected filmography, movies Sikov rates from one to three stars. The four Lombard films mentioned above all received three stars, as did “Hands Across The Table,” while “The Princess Comes Across” and “True Confession” each received two stars. (William Powell and Myrna Loy fans may argue with his giving “Libeled Lady” only two stars, the same as the lackluster “Double Wedding” and the superior “I Love You Again,” although Sikov does give three stars to the hilarious “Love Crazy.”)

Sikov’s “Screwball” is currently out of print, although copies can be found at and eBay. It’s worth tracking down.

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‘No One’ or ‘No More’? The choice is yours

Posted by [info]vp19 on 2010.12.02 at 07:59
Current mood: impressedimpressed

In 1932, Carole Lombard made, or released, three films that began with the word “No.” The world is most familiar with the last of these, “No Man Of Her Own,” but a pair of lobby cards from the first two are now available on eBay. (It should be noted that all of these are reproductions, measuring 11″ x 14″; 10 copies of each are available, and all are being sold for $9.99 each.)

First, “No One Man,” from Paramount:

For the first, visit
For the second, go to

Then, “No More Orchids,” Carole’s second film at Columbia:

The first is at The second can be found at

Nice reproductions — “no” doubt about it.

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A ‘Pursuit’ that never materialized

Posted by [info]vp19 on 2010.12.01 at 08:57
Current mood: happyhappy

Add another to the list of films Carole Lombard might have appeared in, but didn’t.

In November 1933, Los Angeles Times writer Edwin Schallert (you’re probably familiar with his son, William, one of the great character actors who’s now in his late 80s and still works regularly) reported in his column:

“…Paramount will probably have an eye to Carole Lombard as a possible lead for ‘Pursuit Of Happiness,’ which is something new altogether in pictures. It is laid in the revolutionary days, and has to do with the ancient custom of ‘bundling,’ the meaning of which I will have to let you guess at, unless you happen to know. It was a premarital custom of the time.”

Methinks Mr. Schallert dropped a hint about “bundling” by the phrase “laid in the revolutionary days.”

Sounds like it might have been an intriguing comedic vehicle for Lombard, especially since she was rarely seen in period garb. (Whether her modern personality could have fit into such a film is another question entirely.)

Well, as we all know, Carole never made a film by that title, or of that subject; whether it was her decision or Paramount’s is unknown. But it was made into a movie, with Joan Bennett (shown below, playing a character named Prudence Kirkland!) and Francis Lederer (as a Hessian soldier gone AWOL) as the leads, with Charles Ruggles and Mary Boland in supporting roles.

“The Pursuit Of Happiness” was directed by Alexander Hall, who directed the Lombard film “Sinners In The Sun” (and also directed “They All Kissed The Bride,” the movie Carole would have appeared in had she not died in 1942).

That’s the good news (along with that a nitrate copy of the film exists in the UCLA film and television archive). The bad news? Paramount released the film on Sept. 28, 1934, which means it was issued after the Production Code was imposed in mid-year, and thus probably lost plenty of its sexual tension and bite. Under pre-Code guidelines, who knows what this might have been like?

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Posted December 27, 2011 by vp19 in Uncategorized

One response to “Carole & Co. entries, December 2010

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  1. Reblogged this on Crawfordgold's Blog.

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