Carole & Co. entries, March 2011   Leave a comment

Lombard big, and Lombard little

Posted by [info]vp19 on 2011.03.31 at 00:38
Current mood: curiouscurious

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 linenbacked 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

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.

“Nice find!”

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

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What an elegant Pathe to take

Posted by [info]vp19 on 2011.03.31 at 10:06
Current mood: hopefulhopeful

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

Just something to excite you as we count the hours (about three) to the start of baseball season.

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On the road to a ‘Vigil’

Posted by [info]vp19 on 2011.03.30 at 02:11
Current mood: energeticenergetic

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…
Carole: Yep.

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:

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‘Made For’ ‘High Voltage,’ baby

Posted by [info]vp19 on 2011.03.30 at 21:07
Current mood: busybusy

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

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

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Years since ‘I do’? 72

Posted by [info]vp19 on 2011.03.29 at 00:59
Current mood: lovedloved

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, 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”:

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Near Neighbors

Posted by [info]cinemafan2 on 2011.03.29 at 22:53

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.

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The eyes have it (do they ever!)

Posted by [info]vp19 on 2011.03.28 at 00:11
Current mood: cheerfulcheerful

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

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

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×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!

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Much stuff to add to the Tally

Posted by [info]vp19 on 2011.03.27 at 01:32
Current mood: happyhappy

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

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.

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‘No One Man,’ and more than one clipping

Posted by [info]vp19 on 2011.03.27 at 18:31
Current mood: nostalgicnostalgic

“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

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 to learn more.

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Russian for this pic of Кароль Ломбард?

Posted by [info]vp19 on 2011.03.26 at 02:13
Current mood: confusedconfused

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 ( 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

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:

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Sunday fun in Brooklyn, and a new neighbor in Glendale

Posted by [info]vp19 on 2011.03.25 at 02:56
Current mood: peacefulpeaceful

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

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 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: And I’ll leave you with this, my favorite picture of her, proof that Elizabeth was indeed one cool cat:

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Back home in Indiana

Posted by [info]vp19 on 2011.03.24 at 02:48
Current mood: impressedimpressed

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.

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Out of surgery and into dancing

Posted by [info]vp19 on 2011.03.23 at 10:23
Current mood: thankfulthankful

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.

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In May we’re gonna blog like it’s 1939

Posted by [info]vp19 on 2011.03.22 at 01:24
Current mood: excitedexcited

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.

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Carole in early ‘Times,’ part 4

Posted by [info]vp19 on 2011.03.21 at 02:05
Current mood: ecstaticecstatic

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.

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Carole in early ‘Times,’ part 3

Posted by [info]vp19 on 2011.03.20 at 01:11
Current mood: frustratedfrustrated

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.

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The ties that bind …

Posted by [info]cinemafan2 on 2011.03.20 at 20:25

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”.


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Carole in early ‘Times,’ part 2

Posted by [info]vp19 on 2011.03.19 at 01:40
Current mood: curiouscurious

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:

To wit:

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

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Carole in early ‘Times,’ part 1

Posted by [info]vp19 on 2011.03.18 at 01:11
Current mood: nostalgicnostalgic

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 (

“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.

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She was nobody’s Baby

Posted by [info]vp19 on 2011.03.17 at 02:31
Current mood: frustratedfrustrated

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:

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A cottage still for sale (and rent)

Posted by [info]vp19 on 2011.03.16 at 10:52
Current mood: nostalgicnostalgic

Last October, we noted that Carole Lombard’s legendary home at 7953 Hollywood Boulevard was available for sale or rent ( 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 and

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.

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Getting the message out

Posted by [info]vp19 on 2011.03.15 at 01:51
Current mood: contemplativecontemplative

“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 and


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 Next, with bids starting at $29.99 each, are the 1937 telegram ( and the one from 1942 ( The lowest opening bid, $24.99, is for the 1939 Santa Claus wire ( 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…

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79 years ago: Hi, (Olympic) bob!

Posted by [info]vp19 on 2011.03.14 at 00:12
Current mood: artisticartistic

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

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.

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Some photos from friends

Posted by [info]vp19 on 2011.03.13 at 01:23
Current mood: thankfulthankful

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 (

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 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 ( 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).

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carole lombard color 00

A last-minute reminder…

Posted by [info]vp19 on 2011.03.13 at 09:31
Current mood: amusedamused

…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!”).

Lombard, living large

Posted by [info]vp19 on 2011.03.12 at 02:34
Current mood: mischievousmischievous

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

Oh, and someone should tell Carole to stop smoking. Doesn’t she know it will stunt her growth?

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That’s a lotta ‘White Woman’

Posted by [info]vp19 on 2011.03.11 at 03:07
Current mood: enviousenvious

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 lifesize), 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

It’s La Cava’s birthday, with the gifts from TCM

Posted by [info]vp19 on 2011.03.10 at 01:40
Current mood: accomplishedaccomplished

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 (, 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:

The last hurdle is cleared

Posted by [info]vp19 on 2011.03.09 at 01:47
Current mood: nostalgicnostalgic

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, “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!” ( 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.)

Thinking about George Hurrell, part 2: The gentlemen

Posted by [info]vp19 on 2011.03.08 at 01:07
Current mood: artisticartistic

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 and cast your ballot before 10 p.m. (Eastern).

Thinking about George Hurrell, part 1: The ladies

Posted by [info]vp19 on 2011.03.07 at 14:38
Current mood: mellowmellow

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 and

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 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.

Carole needs your help today

Posted by [info]vp19 on 2011.03.07 at 01:08
Current mood: determineddetermined

That second go-round for Carole Lombard in the finals of the silents/1930s division of the “All Good Things” actresses tournament ( 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.

For #1500, lots of Lombard in ‘No Man’s’ land

Posted by [info]vp19 on 2011.03.06 at 01:48
Current mood: hothot

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 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.

carole lombard color 00

A queen deposed, but work is not yet Dunne

Posted by [info]vp19 on 2011.03.06 at 02:40
Current mood: bouncybouncy

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 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.

carole lombard

This just in: Vote again!

Posted by [info]vp19 on 2011.03.06 at 17:33
Current mood: frustratedfrustrated

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 ( 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.”

Jean Harlow Blogathon: Completing a Harlow hat trick

Posted by [info]vp19 on 2011.03.05 at 02:22
Current mood: impressedimpressed

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,,0,6813494.story) and, of course, the blogosphere, most notably the Kitty Packard Pictorial (, 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

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):

March 8
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.

March 15
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.

March 22
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

March 29
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 (, 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:

carole lombard 06

Calling out the Lombard legion

Posted by [info]vp19 on 2011.03.05 at 02:51
Current mood: tiredtired

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 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).

Lombard vs. Loy: Let’s get ready to rumble

Posted by [info]vp19 on 2011.03.04 at 00:41
Current mood: optimisticoptimistic

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 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 ( 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.)

carole lombard color 00

Couldn’t you use a little more Sun?

Posted by [info]vp19 on 2011.03.04 at 02:10
Current mood: sympatheticsympathetic

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

Jean Harlow Blogathon: A happy hundredth

Posted by [info]vp19 on 2011.03.03 at 00:56
Current mood: happyhappy

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 (

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”:

carole lombard 04

Second round: So far, so good

Posted by [info]vp19 on 2011.03.03 at 01:40
Current mood: hopefulhopeful

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, where the blog is also honoring Lombard as its classic movie goddess of the month. (That in itself is a reason to visit.)

Looking back: March 1932

Posted by [info]vp19 on 2011.03.02 at 02:35
Current mood: curiouscurious

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

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.

carole lombard color 00

For Carole you came through, now on to round 2

Posted by [info]vp19 on 2011.03.02 at 08:50
Current mood: giddygiddy

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 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

The madness begins: Vote for Carole

Posted by [info]vp19 on 2011.03.01 at 01:40
Current mood: thoughtfulthoughtful

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, 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

Some observations:

* 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 ((

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 (; 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.


Posted December 30, 2011 by vp19 in Uncategorized

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