Carole & Co. entries, April 2011   Leave a comment

Birthday Ball: A blogathon for Lucy’s centenary

Posted by [info]vp19 on 2011.04.30 at 00:01
Current mood: contentcontent

Given that April hasn’t even ended yet, we’ve been talking a lot about August lately. The other day, we reported (with pleasure) that American TV audiences will see Carole Lombard on Aug. 28 as part of Turner Classic Movies’ 2011 “Summer Under The Stars.” Twenty-two days earlier, Lucille Ball will receive similar honors…on the 100th anniversary of her birth, no less. (Three Augusts ago, TCM did likewise for Fred MacMurray’s centenary.)

Ball is understandably revered as a television icon, arguably that medium’s equivalent of Charlie Chaplin. (Would that make Milton Berle, whose TV fame came a few years before Lucy’s, the Max Linder of television?) But just as Chaplin initially gained renown in the English music hall and on the stage, Ball honed her skills in film — some comedies, some musicals, even a few film noirs such as “The Dark Corner.”

Lucy will not only be honored by TCM on her centenary, but by the blogosphere as well. The site “True Classics: The ABCs of Modern Film” ( has announced a blogathon for that day, called the “Loving Lucy Blogathon,” and I’m delighted to say I’ve volunteered my services:

Ball is a worthy subject for a Lombard-related blog. Lucy got to know Carole in the mid-1930s, and they became good friends, especially after Lombard signed with RKO (the studio Ball and husband Desi Arnaz would eventually acquire for their Desilu production company) in 1939. (Ironically, as is the case with Jean Harlow, I have never come across a photo of Lucy and Carole together.) We’ll discuss the ties between Lombard and Lucy in our entry that day, but you’ll have to wait until Aug. 6 to find out our angle.

For now, a few more photos of the pre-TV Lucille Ball (who, believe it or not, was a few months past her 40th birthday when “I Love Lucy” premiered):

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Two rare Sennett photos, as well as two others

Posted by [info]vp19 on 2011.04.29 at 01:13
Current mood: nostalgicnostalgic

Carole Lombard’s tenure at Mack Sennett raced by in less than two years, but she learned a lot about comedy during her time there. And while the image above, from “Run, Girl, Run,” one of her best-known Sennett two-reelers, is relatively common, there are some photos from that period you don’t come across very often.

Two of them, both original 8″ x 10″ stills, are being auctioned at eBay — but if you want them, you better hurry, as bidding is slated to end today.

First, Lombard from the 1928 film “The Bicycle Flirt”:

Lombard defines ’28 chic in her cloche hat and trim dress. Two bids have been made on this photo as of this writing, with the high bid at $13.15. Bids close at 4 p.m. (Eastern) today, so if you want to get in on it, don’t dally — ride your figurative bicycle over to

“The Bicycle Flirt” is one of the better known Lombard-era Sennetts. The same can’t be said for the 1927 entry, “Gold Digger Of Weepah,” from which this still originates:

Lombard was an uncredited extra on this Billy Bevan vehicle; that’s her standing just below the “fortune teller” sign. Three bids have been made at the time of writing, topping off at $16.49, and bidding ends at 3:32 p.m. (Eastern) today. If you’d like to go prospecting after this picture, visit

The seller of both of the above stills has a few more of Lombard available, of which two are of special interest. First, this 7 1/2″ x 9 1/2″ of Carole, from 1931’s “Man Of The World”:

As I write this, one bid, for $9.99, has been made; bids close at 6:23 p.m. (Eastern). To try your luck, go to

Move ahead a year to 1932’s “No More Orchids,” and this 8″ x 10″ shot of Lombard with Lyle Talbot:

The slight tears may explain why no one has bid on this yet (bids open at $9.99). Bids will conclude at 3:49 p.m. (Eastern). To place a bid or learn more, check out

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A place to catch up on Connie

Posted by [info]vp19 on 2011.04.28 at 01:59
Current mood: curiouscurious

Both were sleek blondes with good legs, style icons whose chic fashion sense made a success of virtually anything they wore. Each was a fine actress, adept at witty comedy and talented at drama. One was among the biggest stars of the early 1930s, while the other fully came into her own in the second half of the decade (each was, for a time, the highest-paid actress in the industry). And their careers intersected on several occasions.

Thanks to this site and others, you know a lot about Carole Lombard. Now, there’s a place dedicated to the other star we’re referring to…Constance Bennett.

It’s, which refers to itself as “the first and only website, dedicated to the lovely Constance Bennett.” It’s admittedly a work in progress, but what it’s accumulated so far is substantial.

For example, did you know that Connie once made a movie with Joan Crawford? Above are Bennett, Crawford and Sally O’Neill in the 1925 silent “Sally, Irene And Mary.” (And no, Sally isn’t “Sally” — that’s Connie. Joan is “Irene” and O’Neill is “Mary.”)

Many of Bennett’s films are profiled with plot descriptions, contemporary reviews, lobby cards, posters and more. Fascinating stuff. (Her radio and television work is also noted, and the site owner also plans to review Connie’s stage work, which she did a lot of during the 1950s. A biography of Bennett is also on the horizon.)

And photos? My count showed 730 pics of Connie — most of which I’d never seen before — from her youth to her final film, “Madame X,” which she completed just before her death at age 60 on July 24, 1965. Bennett underwent a facelift for the film, her first in a dozen years, and more than held her own against star Lana Turner. Here’s Bennett on the set with director David Lowell Rich:

There is also information on books and magazines that feature Constance, including both stories and covers, such as this from Photoplay of March 1931:

Bennett wasn’t always the easiest person to work with — she had more than her share of feuds, and many of the stories about her aren’t all that flattering. But she was certainly among the great beauties of the Golden Age of Hollywood, and several of her films (“What Price Hollywood?”, “Bed Of Roses,” “Topper”) are among the most satisfying of the 1930s. This is a splendid place to learn more about her.

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For 24 hours this August, Carole’s star will shine

Posted by [info]vp19 on 2011.04.27 at 06:25
Current mood: happyhappy

What will Aug. 28, 2011 have in common with Aug. 17, 2006? A concentrated mega-dose of Carole Lombard while enjoying summer, that’s what.

Turner Classic Movies’ August U.S. schedule has been released, and for the second time since its “Summer Under The Stars” concept began in 2003, Lombard is being honored with a 24-hour marathon. Moreover, because Aug. 28 is a Sunday, many people can have company with Carole all day long. (It also means we’ll hear about Lombard from both Ben Mankiewicz, in the afternoon, and Robert Osborne, in prime time.)

Here’s the schedule (all times Eastern):

6 a.m. — “Brief Moment” (1933)
7:15 a.m. — “No More Orchids” (1932)
8:30 a.m. — “The Gay Bride” (1934)
10 a.m. — “Fools For Scandal” (1938)
11:30 a.m. — “Lady By Choice” (1934)
1 p.m. — “Virtue” (1932)
2:30 p.m. — “In Name Only” (1939)
4:30 p.m. — “Twentieth Century” (1934)
6:15 p.m. — “To Be Or Not To Be” (1942)
8 p.m. — “My Man Godfrey” (1936)
10 p.m. — “Hands Across The Table” (1935)
11:30 p.m. — “Nothing Sacred” (1937)
1 a.m. — “Mr. & Mrs. Smith” (1941)
3 a.m. — “Vigil In The Night” (1940)
4:45 a.m. — “The Racketeer” (1929)

If there’s a disappointment, it’s a comparatively minor one — that no TCM channel premieres are among its 15-film scheduled fare. It would have been nice to see a few of her more obscure Paramount vehicles, such as “Bolero,” “Rumba” or “No One Man,” in lieu of mediocrities such as “Fools For Scandal” or “The Racketeer” that TCM has shown several times before. Nevertheless, it’s plenty of Lombard, and it’s good to see “Hands Across The Table” (shown in a still above), arguably the best film Carole ever made at Paramount but one that receives comparatively little attention, get a prime-time airing. (One also hopes that TCM will follow what it did during the 2006 SUTS and show the rare European ending to “Vigil In The Night,” in which the characters react to Great Britain going to war with Germany in September 1939.)

As for the rest of the SUTS schedule, here it is, and it features some surprises:

1. Marlon Brando
2. Paulette Goddard
3. Bette Davis
4. Ronald Colman
5. John Garfield
6. Lucille Ball
7. Ralph Bellamy
8. Orson Welles
9. Ann Dvorak
10. Shirley MacLaine
11. Ben Johnson
12. Claudette Colbert
13. James Stewart
14. Charles Laughton
15. Lon Chaney
16. Joanne Woodward
17. Humphrey Bogart
18. Jean Gabin
19. Debbie Reynolds
20. Montgomery Clift
21. Cary Grant
22. Joan Crawford
23. Conrad Veidt
24. Joan Blondell
25. Burt Lancaster
26. Peter Lawford
27. Linda Darnell
28. Carole Lombard
29. Anne Francis
30. Howard Keel
31. Marlene Dietrich

Several of the “usual suspects” for SUTS — Davis, Stewart, Grant, Crawford (“What, no Katharine Hepburn this year?” he said sarcastically) — but many on this year’s roster either have never been SUTS selections or, like Lombard, haven’t received the honor in some time. Pre-Code devotees will be delighted to see days devoted to Dvorak and Blondell, while Gabin and Veidt may well be this year’s equivalent to what Thelma Todd was in 2010…stars unfamiliar to casual fans, but actors who played a key role in cinematic history. (As part of Veidt’s schedule, TCM is showing the classic 1919 German expressionist film “The Cabinet Of Dr. Caligari.”) Fans of silents will thrill to the great Lon Chaney (several Ronald Colman silents will be shown on his day). And it’s wonderful to see Ralph Bellamy get his own day, highlighted not only as the perennially unlucky second lead but for his splendid turn as Franklin D. Roosevelt in “Sunrise At Campobello.” (Dietrich’s day, closing out SUTS, features four of her films with Josef von Sternberg, as well as “Rancho Notorious” and “A Foreign Affair.”) For the month’s schedule, go to

In coming weeks, TCM will unveil its artwork to accompany the 2011 SUTS campaign, and if tradition is indicative, it will be distinctive. (Oh, and if you’re going to the second annual TCM Classic Film Festival in Hollywood, which runs tomorrow through Sunday, make sure to thank channel officials for including Carole on this year’s SUTS roster.)

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A few more from Tally

Posted by [info]vp19 on 2011.04.26 at 00:13
Current mood: enthralledenthralled

Carole Lombard is described as “exquisite” in the above photo, which looks to be from 1933 or ’34. And we have several more images of Carole, courtesy of Tally Haugen and the big box of Lombard memorabilia she recently received.

First, “Carole Lombard presents” a pair of creations from Paramount design guru Travis Banton, who made sure Lombard’s loan-out to Universal for 1936’s “Love Before Breakfast” was sufficiently glamorous:

Next, two poses from 1932 and ’33; the one on the left is another Banton work, while the one of the right looks to be an ad for Doraldina cosmetics:

More of the same — Banton and Doraldina — but this time the ad is from ’32 and the Banton gown is from ’33, specifically for Columbia’s “Brief Moment”:

And one more Banton work:

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’39 CMBA blogathon schedule ‘Made’

Posted by [info]vp19 on 2011.04.25 at 08:00
Current mood: pleasedpleased

That pic of Carole Lombard, James Stewart and baby — not to mention the subject header — should give you an idea of what I’ll be doing in a few weeks for the Classic Movies Blog Assocation’s latest blogathon, on the films of 1939:

Of course, having to do the entry from a Lombard perspective didn’t provide me with much of a choice, as Carole made but two films in ’39 — this one and “In Name Only.” I promise to come up with some interesting angles for the entry, which is scheduled to run May 16, three weeks from today. In fact, here’s the entire schedule (and the URLs for the member sites handling them), just to give you an idea of what to expect:

Sunday, May 15
It’s A Wonderful World
The Women
The Wizard of Oz
Another Thin Man
The Cat and the Canary
Charlie Chan at Treasure Island
Dark Victory
Destry Rides Again
Dodge City
Five Came Back
Gone With the Wind
On Your Toes

Monday, May 16
The Gorilla
Q Planes
Gulliver’s Travels
Hunchback of Notre Dame
Idiot’s Delight
Golden Boy
The Light That Failed
Love Affair
The Starmaker
Only Angels Have Wings

Tuesday, May 17
The Lone Wolf Spy Hunt
Ice Follies of 1939
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
Never Say Die
Of Mice and Men
The Old Maid
Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex
The Rules of the Game
The Rains Came
We Are Not Alone
The Whole Family Works
Wuthering Heights
Watching A Year –- All the Films Of 1939

It should be a lot of fun reviewing this year, arguably the apex of classic Hollywood. And more than a few of the films to be profiled go beyond “the usual suspects” from that halcyon year (“The Lone Wolf Spy Hunt”? “We Are Not Alone”? “The Starmaker”?). All in all, this promises to be a slightly different approach to cinema ’39.

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Happy Easter, from all at the farm

Posted by [info]vp19 on 2011.04.24 at 07:19
Current mood: jubilantjubilant

Best wishes on this Easter Sunday, with hope you are sharing the joy of the season with friends and family. That photo above, of Carole Lombard in a classy gown, is one of the items recently sent my way from friend Tally Haugen and her new collection of Carole clippings. The next three show Lombard and husband Clark Gable at their 14-acre Encino ranch, or farm, or however you wish to describe it. All come from late 1939 or early 1940, as “Gone With The Wind” was hitting theaters and Lombard’s drama “Vigil In The Night” was nearing release.

Gable is referenced in this 1932 clipping which cites Lombard’s return to Paramount for “No Man Of Her Own” after repeated disputes with the studio. It ends, “Playing his heroine is not exactly a setback to any career and Carol has had some pretty tepid pictures to combat.”

And to accompany the farm motif of this entry, check out this week’s new header, showing Carole (in pajamas) and her horses from 1937.

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Marlene: Isn’t she ironic, doncha think?

Posted by [info]vp19 on 2011.04.23 at 05:43
Current mood: enthralledenthralled

Carole Lombard and Marlene Dietrich, shown with Cary Grant and Richard Barthelmess at Carole’s famed party at the Venice pier in June 1935, were studiomates at Paramount for several years. While they were hardly at each other’s throats, the relationship was occasionally rocky.

In the Dietrich biography by her daughter, Maria Riva, she described Lombard as one of Dietrich’s “pet hates.” It apparently stemmed from a time in the early 1930s where Carole — still seeking a distinctive “look” — briefly tried to appear as an Americanized version of Marlene. Compare Dietrich and Lombard in these Paramount portraits from 1931:

One can understand why Marlene was briefly peeved…and we emphasize briefly. Apparently later in the decade, the bisexual Dietrich erroneously believed she could recruit Carole into her army of bed partners ( And since Marlene always valued potential conquests for both body and soul, there must have been something about Lombard that she liked.

When Paramount imported Dietrich from Germany in 1930, it aimed to make her its answer to MGM icon Greta Garbo, failing to realize Marlene was an entirely different animal. Whereas Garbo immersed herself in her characters, transmitting her subtle passion to the film audience, Dietrich had a detached air about her; in fact, at the time, some viewed her as a Garbo with humor. (It wouldn’t be until “Ninotchka” in 1939 that “Garbo” and “humor” would be synonymous.)

In his excellent book on pre-Code female roles, “Complicated Women,” Mick LaSalle says this about Marlene: “She doesn’t take herself seriously. She doesn’t take her movies seriously. She is smarter than everyone in her films, and her attitude assumes that the audience is smart enough to be in on the joke — even if there is no joke.”

On the surface, that sounds like Groucho Marx breaking the fourth wall to the audience. But Dietrich’s detachment is altogether different. As LaSalle further writes, “Watching Dietrich today it’s no wonder that she lost most of her audience in the irony-impaired thirties. It’s also no wonder why her contribution came to be sometimes overestimated in the irony-drenched second half of the twentieth century.”

So you could argue Marlene not only paved the way for Madonna (and Lady Gaga, who’s more or less Madonna 2.0), but Alanis Morrisette as well.

Dietrich may be an enigma who zealously guarded her image, but once you get beyond that there’s much to admire about her. She was a talented singer who won wows for her musical performances from the 1950s to the ’70s, stood up to Hitler and Nazism from the start, then performed for and gave comfort to Allied troops during World War II.

I bring this all up because I’ve recently discovered a wonderful site about Dietrich,, with numerous entries on Marlene, her life and times. It’s described this way:

“Almost two decades after her death, Marlene Dietrich survives as an archetypal celebrity in pop culture and academia. Through this blog, my co-bloggers and I report on what we consider the most fascinating online tidbits related to Dietrich. Since news is slow, I’d like to expand postings to include a wider array of topics that are nowadays associated with Dietrich. In that case, some things less will do!” If you’re a Dietrich devotee — and most fans of classic Hollywood fit that description — by all means, go check it out.

We’ll close with another pic from that ’35 party; this one features Lombard and Dietrich with Lili Damita and husband Errol Flynn.

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‘Cover’-ing Carole

Posted by [info]vp19 on 2011.04.22 at 07:54
Current mood: excitedexcited

When Carole Lombard wasn’t busy reading scripts, she probably spent some time reading movie fan magazines. Not that she necessarily trusted everything she read in them (she was too much an industry insider for that), but to get an idea of how the public perceived her and other film personalities.

Magazines were an integral part of the classic Hollywood experience, and they are part of a site dedicated to what it calls “the Golden Age of American Illustration.” It’s, which features more than 11,000 covers and ads from all sorts of magazines. The site currently has more than 800 covers from vintage movie (and radio and TV) mags, and as you might guess, Carole is well represented. For example, here’s Lombard pictured by the renowned Zoe Mozert on the cover of the June 1936 Romantic Movie Stories:

Carole and Cary Grant, then in theaters with “In Name Only,” are shown on the October 1939 Movie Story:

Earl Christy renders Lombard in Photoplay’s famous “Blondes Plus Curves Mean War” issue of June 1934:

Another from Photoplay –– the famed artist James Montgomery Flagg draws Carole for the November 1936 cover:

Lombard shows off her shoulders in this sexy pose from the November 1937 Screen Guide:

All in all, a fascinating site, one worth checking out for any fan of vintage publications. It is also seeking notable covers and ads to add to the collection, so contact them at if you have any to contribute.

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Myrna fans roll a seven

Posted by [info]vp19 on 2011.04.21 at 07:19
Current mood: happyhappy

Carole Lombard’s friend Myrna Loy is the topic of today’s entry, because DVD collectors will have much more of Myrna to watch in upcoming months — seven films, in fact.

Heading the list is a film that’s been largely unseen for nearly 70 years because of rights issues, one of MGM’s all-star extravaganzas:

“Night Flight,” a 1933 film with Loy, Clark Gable, Helen Hayes, Robert Montgomery and both John and Lionel Barrymore. It will be shown in public for the first time since 1942 at the TCM Classic Film Festival later this month, and the DVD will be made public June 7.

“Night Flight,” set in South America and dealing with fliers who transport mail and other items across the continent, is based on a novel by Antoine de Saint-Exupery of “Little Prince” fame. Loy plays the wife of a Brazilian pilot portrayed by William Gargan (who seven years later would gain an Academy Award best supporting actor nomination for the Lombard film “They Knew What They Wanted”). David O. Selznick produced this movie, and the concept of flying vaccine to aid a sick child, seen in his 1939 Lombard drama “Made For Each Other,” gets its first tryout here.

Six other films from Loy are being released through the Warner Archive collection. Two are 1929 Warners talkies, showing Myrna in her “exotic” phase — as a gypsy in “The Squall,” which also features Loretta Young (only 16 at the time) and Zasu Pitts, and as a Mexican temptress in “The Great Divide,” co-starring Dorothy Mackaill and Ian Keith. Three are from MGM: “New Morals For Old” (1932), with Robert Young; “The Prizefighter And The Lady” (1933), with Walter Huston and heavyweight champions Max Baer Sr. and Primo Carnera; and “Third Finger, Left Hand” (1940), co-starring Melvyn Douglas, where Loy portrays a publishing executive (the type of role more closely associated with her Metro “rival” at the time, Rosalind Russell). Finally, Warners gets hold of a 1946 Universal comedy-drama, “So Goes My Love” with Don Ameche.

There’s a LiveJournal site, myrnadaily, whose slogan is “Daily Myrna Loy Goodness.” (Unfortunately, it has been dormant for more than a year.) But thanks to DVD, you can experience plenty of that goodness this spring and into summer.


Looking back: April 1932

Posted by [info]vp19 on 2011.04.20 at 09:16
Current mood: annoyedannoyed

It’s time for the latest in our looks back at Carole Lombard in the newspapers, and this entry examines her in print in April 1932.

We’ve shown this photo of Carole Lombard in a swimsuit before, but never knew its colors (although in a hand-painted Australian poster, it was shown as gold and brown). Well, thanks to the St. Petersburg Times of April 10, 1932, we’ve finally learned its actual colors:

“There’s color in women’s sport wear this spring — whether it’s for swimming, lounging on the beach, motoring, traveling or just general wear. Carole Lombard of the films wears a distinctly 1932 bathing suit. It’s one of the popular ribbed models, and the top part is white with the trunks and designs in bright blue.”

Carole looks hale and hearty in that photo and this one, but it wasn’t a particularly healthy month for her, as the San Jose News reported on April 27 with this AP item:

“Seriously ill for the past two weeks as the result of a nervous breakdown, Carole Lombard, screen actress and wife of William Powell, actor, was reported out of danger today. Announcement that she had passed the crisis in her illness was the first word given the public she had been ill.”

Apparently, assignments given by her home studio didn’t enhance her state of being — or so syndicated columnist Mollie Merrick reported in The Day of New London, Conn. on April 16, following a report of a dispute between Paramount and Josef von Sternberg:

“Just to add more trouble to the Paramount situation, it is rumored that Carole Lombard has asserted herself about her next picture, ‘Hot Saturday,’ saying that she doesn’t like it and won’t appear in it.

“Perhaps this story is somewhat exaggerated, as it doesn’t seem a wise thing for one so newly prompted to big parts to say.

“Especially when her studio has done so much toward building up her popularity. Anyway, now that the Dietrich-von Sternberg argument has been brought to a head, we’ll see about Carole Lombard.”

In this case, when Lombard put her lovely foot down, she got what she wanted. When “Hot Saturday” came to theaters, the leads were:

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Items up for bidding (or for sale)

Posted by [info]vp19 on 2011.04.19 at 08:44
Current mood: impressedimpressed

It’s been a few days since I visited eBay to check for Carole Lombard-related items (at last check, there were more than 1,600), and here are a few new ones available.

We begin with the photo above, showing Carole sitting on a fence. I’m guessing it to be from around 1937, and may well come from the same session where Lombard, in the same khakis she has on, is shown standing outside a door (the pose used several decades later by the Gap chain to sell khakis). Unfortunately, if there was a p1202 number for this portrait, it’s been cropped out.

This measures 8″ x 10″, and five copies are available at $9.95 each. If interested, go to×10-B-W-PHOTO-VERY-SEXY-GLAMOUR-/350456771047?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item5198d9f1e7.

Next up, a fairly rare portrait of Carole with Gary Cooper from 1931’s “I Take This Woman”:

It too measures 8″ x 10″; unlike the other, this is an original, not a reproduction, and is being auctioned. One bid has already been made, for $9.99, and bids will be taken through 9:32 p.m. (Eastern) on Sunday. To learn more, visit

Finally, here’s Carole on the cover of a fan magazine — but it’s not a movie mag:

It’s Radio Mirror, from April 1939, and notice how Lombard is described as a “new radio queen,” though her reign didn’t last very long. Evidently, this story was commissioned at the time she began on the NBC series “The Circle”; by the time this hit print, she had left the show, and the series itself didn’t last much longer. Also note how the magazine plays up her ties to Clark Gable, though I’m guessing this issue hit newsstands before the two were wed in late March. There are some other film-related stories here, as subjects included Tyrone Power, Burns and Allen and others.

No bids have yet been made on this item; bidding opens at $12 and will end next Sunday at 12:44 p.m. (Eastern). You can find out more at

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Briefly a Ward of Rocky and Bullwinkle

Posted by [info]vp19 on 2011.04.18 at 09:37
Current mood: curiouscurious

Carole Lombard’s Mack Sennett shorts are now in public domain (which makes one wonder why no one has put them together into a DVD package), but one of the previous owners of the Sennett catalog — someone who kept the items in circulation — may surprise you. It was Jay Ward, the eccentric (and beloved) animation pioneer.

While Ward was popularly perceived as the creator of “Crusader Rabbit” and later “Rocky And Bullwinkle,” he actually handled the business aspects; the characters were created by veteran animator Alex Anderson, Ward’s college friend from the University of California. The Ward-Anderson team also worked for Quaker Oats in establishing such characters as Cap’n Crunch.

Ward corraled some of Hollywood’s top talent for his productions; William Conrad narrated the “Rocky” cartoons (at about the same time he was wrapping up his memorable work as Marshal Dillon on the classic “Gunsmoke” radio show), and the likes of Edward Everett Horton and Hans Conried did voice work on the program. Like “The Simpsons” two decades later, clever writing made it a series both adults and children loved. Here’s Jay with the voices of Rocky and Bullwinkle, June Foray (who still works regularly) and Bill Scott:

Ward also loved silent films; some of you may recall his non-animated series “Fractured Flickers,” which used clips of old silents for comedic effect. In the early sixties, Ward and Raymond Rohauer obtained the rights to 150 Laurel and Hardy films, then acquired rights to much of D.W. Griffith’s catalogue. In 1964, they obtained rights to some 200 of Sennett’s movies — which likely included at least some of those featuring Lombard in the late 1920s — for about $100,000. (Sennett, once a millionaire, had died in 1960 with relatively little to his name.)

I’m not sure what Ward did with these properties before his death in 1989. As for Anderson, who sued the Ward estate in 1996 over creation of the characters (it was settled out of court), he died last October at age 90.

This week’s header shows Carole relaxing on a hammock, one apparently created from a carpet.

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One woman, two acts, one legend

Posted by [info]vp19 on 2011.04.17 at 06:36
Current mood: pleasedpleased

Carole Lombard’s triumphant, yet ultimately ill-fated war bond trip was the subject of a one-woman play, “Lombard,” written by veteran screenwriter/playwright/publicist/Hollywood historian Michael B. Druxman.

“Lombard” — part of a series of one-person plays Druxman has written about Hollywood legends — has been performed a number of times, and has been well received. Now the script has been published in book form, 74 pages.

The play is set as Carole “awaits word in an Indianapolis hotel room to see if she’s been successful in securing plane reservations for a flight back to Los Angeles. She’s anxious to get home, because she suspects that her husband, Clark Gable, is cheating on her.

“Drawing liberally upon her legendary sailor’s vocabulary, Ms. Lombard talks about her tragic affair with singer Russ Columbo, ex-husband William Powell, as well as George Raft, Gary Cooper, Joseph P. Kennedy and, of course, David O. Selznick and her ill-fated attempt to secure the role of Scarlett O’Hara in ‘Gone With The Wind.'”

As the audience knows what fate has planned for her, the subject might seem sad. But “Lombard” is “not a depressing play of approaching doom. It is a warm, funny story of a woman — the highest paid film actress of her day — who was a ‘fighter,’ both in her career and personal life.”

It’s hoped the book’s publication will lead to more productions of the play; at the very least, reading about Carole’s life may inspire other actresses. To purchase “Lombard,” which sells for $7.50, go to

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A cottage for lease

Posted by [info]vp19 on 2011.04.16 at 07:55
Current mood: confusedconfused

If you were dreaming of living in Carole Lombard’s one-time house on Hollywood Boulevard, prepare to wait at least another two years. The Los Angeles Times reported earlier this month that the fabled residence Carole called home from 1934 to 1936 and the site of several of her most famous parties, has been leased:

“A house in the Sunset Strip area that actress Carole Lombard lived in during the 1930s came on the market in March for sale at $1,595,000 or for lease at $6,500 a month. It already has been leased out for two years.

“The French Regency-style home is set behind gates. It has an art studio, a music-media room, four bedrooms and three bathrooms in nearly 3,000 square feet of living space with original fixtures. A spiral staircase off the master suite leads to a loft. The separate guesthouse includes a kitchenette.

“Lombard, who died in 1942 at 33, was married to leading men William Powell and Clark Gable. She is listed among the American Film Institute’s top screen legends.

“The property last changed hands in 1994 for $420,000, according to public records.”

Look on the bright side: You get two more years to try to win the lottery that will give you sufficient funds to move into the place.

One more thing: “Carole & Co.” now has a new URL, It’s a bit easier to remember than the old listing.

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Some odds and ends

Posted by [info]vp19 on 2011.04.15 at 09:51
Current mood: hopefulhopeful

Here are a few more selections from what Tally Haugen calls “the box” — the huge collection of Carole Lombard clippings she recently received (with more stuff on the way for us).

First, a pair of portraits — one in character, one that isn’t — from the time of “They Knew What They Wanted” in the fall of 1940:

Next, some items related to the film “Made For Each Other,” with a few Max Factor ads from the mid-1930s mixed in:

Finally, a 1935 ad for Lux soap — must avoid that “Cosmetic Skin,” you know:

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No jump into the ‘Fire’

Posted by [info]vp19 on 2011.04.14 at 10:06
Current mood: sympatheticsympathetic

Carole Lombard was both leggy and alluring playing a showgirl in “Swing High, Swing Low.” And a few years later, she had a chance to show off those glamorous gams again in a similar costume, but turned it down.

We bring it up because that film will be shown at 8 p.m. (Eastern) Saturday as part of Turner Classic Movies’ “Essentials” series. It’s “Ball Of Fire,” from late 1941, and the actress who wound up as showgirl Sugarpuss O’Shea? None other than Barbara Stanwyck, who had some great gams of her own:

Actually, Lombard was not the first choice for the role in this Samuel Goldwyn film, directed by Howard Hawks with a script by Billy Wilder and Charles Brackett and starring Gary Cooper (who was under a personal contract for Goldwyn) as a linguistics professor who meets a slang-knowledgeable showgirl and becomes entangled with mobsters. The lead was initially offered to Ginger Rogers, who had won an best actress Academy Award the year before for “Kitty Foyle.” Rogers apparently believed that this type of role was a step back for her, the ground she had trod as “Anytime Annie” in “42nd Street” back in her Warners days. So she said no.

Why did Lombard decline? Hard to say. Perhaps the story, or character, simply didn’t click with her. Nearing the age of 33 in the summer of 1941, when this script would have come her way, Carole may have felt a bit too old for the part (though she was nearly 15 months younger than Stanwyck). It was also an aggressively urban role, more hard-edged and working-class than anything Lombard had played in some years (and, as it turned out, made to order for the Brooklyn-born Barbara).

But there has also been conjecture that “Ball Of Fire” could have been “Ball Of Fire” — as in Lucille Ball. She was tested for the role (as was Betty Field); some say Lombard suggested her for the part. Whatever, Lucy wasn’t hired, possibly because Goldwyn wanted a female lead of similar starpower to Cooper. (Jean Arthur, who Hawks reportedly didn’t want, was also a supposed candidate, although she wouldn’t appear to have had the requisite overt sex appeal for such a part.) Stanwyck was recommended by Cooper, who had just worked with her in “Meet John Doe,” and she quickly accepted.

Considering its urban milieu and that Hawks is directing it, “Ball Of Fire” moves at a surprisingly languid pace; this is no “Twentieth Century.” Nevertheless, it’s a charmingly funny film, and if you only know Stanwyck from “The Big Valley” onward, you’ll be amazed over how sexy she can be. To borrow a line from the film, “yum-yum.” (You are also ordered to watch “Baby Face,” “Night Nurse” and “Double Indemnity” — the last of which was directed by Wilder — ASAP.) It also capped off a stunning year for Stanwyck, who that year had not only made “Meet John Doe” with Cooper but two fine films with Henry Fonda — the classic “The Lady Eve,” a Preston Sturges creation, and the overlooked “You Belong To Me.”

The supporting cast in “Ball Of Fire” is also wonderful, including Dana Andrews and Dan Duryea as the mobsters, and Oscar Homolka and Richard Haydn among the fellow professors helping Cooper with his dictionary project.

“Ball Of Fire,” the last film Wilder would write before beginning his fabled directing career, was shown for a week in Los Angeles at the tail end of 1941 to qualify for the Academy Awards; Stanwyck was nominated, but lost to Joan Fontaine for “Suspicion.” Its New York premiere came in the same mid-January week of Lombard’s war bond rally and ensuing death in a plane crash.

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A partial lesson in being modern

Posted by [info]vp19 on 2011.04.13 at 09:50
Current mood: hopefulhopeful

It may be three-quarters of a century after her heyday, but Carole Lombard’s appeal continues, largely thanks to qualities that transcend her time. Here’s an example, and it comes from the August 1935 issue of Motion Picture, featuring Lombard’s friend (and fellow Oct. 6 birthday girl) Janet Gaynor on the cover:

Inside is a Lombard article by William F. French, “Be Modern Or Be A Wallflower”:

Carole has some intriguing comments, several of which can be adapted into a 2011 mindset. (Human nature doesn’t change very much, after all.) Here’s what it says (up to a point), courtesy of Carla Valderrama’s unfortunately dormant site,


The girl of today, says the ultra-popular Carole, must have a variety of interests and keep up with the times. She must be modern enough to stay ahead of the parade instead of lagging behind — a forgotten wallflower


We WERE talking about what it takes to put a girl up where every girl wants to be, when Carole Lombard — fresh, healthy and confident, after two weeks rest in the mountains — aired her outlook on it all.

“No,” she replied, “I don’t think luck has much to do with a girl amounting to anything worth while. I think it’s more a matter of alertness, of being wide-awake and alive. These days a girl has to be modern or else be a wallflower. The year 1935 hasn’t time to stop and pay its respects to the old-fashioned girl who is sitting quietly in the corner. Instead of waiting to be asked, a girl has to get out in front of the parade, where she’ll be seen. The time is past when a girl can attract attention being a passive verb, so to speak. She must be active, and in time with the times. She must be modern.”

“Modern girls don’t have to get noisy and boisterous and cheap to get into things. They don’t have to be fast to live fast. A hundred sensible, constructive, progressive interests are open to them. They no longer have to clamp the lid on their energy until it explodes into unhealthy channels. The up-to-date girl has a variety of interests. She rides, she drives, she plays bridge, she reads, she follows the latest plays, she studies, she goes in for sports with a zest. She doesn’t putter. She doesn’t do things half-way. She does things with a will, never half-heartedly. Norma Shearer is an excellent example of being modern. There is nothing half-hearted about her, with her determination to progress and her score of interests. Joan Crawford is modern, knowing what she wants and going after it. Katherine Hepburn, with her independence of spirit, is ultra-modern.”

“Determination, independence, health, intelligence, zest, alertness and a variety of interests. Mix well and season with a happy sense of humor, and you have what it takes to be modern. But don’t forget that seasoning. It is the thing that makes all the others possible. And you must learn to stick with a thing until you whip it. These days a girl simply must go in for sports, both for health and for popularity. Men expect girls to swim with them, ride with them, play tennis with them and even, perhaps, go fishing or hunting with them.”

“I GO IN for athletics and sports as intensively as I do for work. When I took up tennis I had an instructor and, even now, though I’m rather good at it, I still coach. I’m taking up flying because I think it’s part of a present-day education, and because I think we will all be flying before long.”

“I can’t afford not to keep up with new things. And neither can any other girl, whether she is in society or in a bargain basement. She can find time and means to keep in step with the times. She simply must learn to dance well, to swim, to play golf and bridge. There are ways to accomplish this if she has the will. And if she hasn’t the will, and isn’t willing to pay the price and effort, she will never get the things her heart just aches for and longs for.”

“Don’t believe, girls, that you don’t have to do the things the movie stars do in order to get what you want. You do have to. Because life demands the same of you as it does of them. When you hear what a casting office asks of a girl, don’t marvel. That office asks: ‘Can you swim, can you dance, can you drive, can you play tennis, can you wear a gown attractively, do you know how to walk, can you make yourself interesting?’ Your employer and your friends may not be asking you those questions quite so bluntly. But they are finding the answers to them in their own way. And if you fall short you’ll get as little as little notice from them as the unprepared movie applicant gets at the casting office.”

“In the past fifteen years, women have gone a long way, and have claimed a lot of privileges, for which all women must pay. The progressive ones have crowded so far ahead that the ones who lag at all, are left behind and forgotten. We, as women, asked to be included in men’s sports, interests, activities and even in their political problems. We got our wish. And to live up to it, we must be modern. Perhaps it is unfortunate that all girls must keep up with the pace set by the most successful ones. But I, personally, don’t think so. Instead, I think it is forcing them all into broader, happier, more useful lives.”

“TODAY, the girl in the Iowa village, or the Pennsylvania hamlet, must keep up-to-date on styles and on manners, because the movies are constantly showing her friends how she ought to act, how she ought to look and what she ought to be able to do. She can’t hide from progress, no matter where she goes. The small city judges the girls on its local beach by the same standards as the world judges the stars at Malibu. And it has a right to do so. Don’t say that you haven’t a chance. Two out of every three stars in Hollywood didn’t have a chance either — once. They worked in department stores, restaurants, and even factories. They were home girls, chorus girls and starving extra girls. But they were modern, and made their ‘break’.”

“Being modern doesn’t mean going in for fads, wearing ultra-modern or spectacular clothes, or doing strange things. The girl of today has too many interests, too much to do, to waste her time that way. She centers on efficiency. She must! But she keeps up with the latest in everything. She reads the newest and best books even if she doesn’t like…”

Doesn’t like what? And what else does Lombard have to say? Inquiring minds want to know. And the good news is, you can complete this fan magazine cliffhanger.

This issue is being sold at eBay for $19.99. It’s complete, although the seller calls its condition “Acceptable: A book with obvious wear. May have some damage to the cover but integrity still intact. … Possible writing in margins, possible underlining and highlighting of text, but no missing pages or anything that would compromise the legibility or understanding of the text.”

What else is in the issue? Articles about Carole’s Paramount stablemate Sylvia Sidney…

…and old Cocoanut Grove dance rival Joan Crawford…

…as well as Fred Astaire, Gary Cooper, Ann Dvorak, Basil Rathbone, Ginger Rogers and more.

To buy it, go to And if you do, please forward the rest of the Lombard article to us. There are a lot of ladies out here who don’t want to be wallflowers.

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Accentuating what you’ve got

Posted by [info]vp19 on 2011.04.12 at 08:52
Current mood: contemplativecontemplative

There was a time in the late 1920s when Carole Lombard, working in Mack Sennett’s bathing-beauty comedies, had gained a few extra pounds at his behest (thanks to bananas) and was thus known as “Carole of the curves.” Not that she was exceptionally voluptuous by any means, but she was somewhat shapelier (the better to fill out a swimsuit) than the more recognizable Lombard from the mid- and late 1930s.

By the start of the 1930s, the curvy Carole had shed those extra pounds at Pathe’s behest and her body had become sleek and lithe. But by learning the photographic tricks of the trade — and working with some of the most talented portrait takers in the business — she had gained the ability to make herself seem buxom, even if she was actually no bigger than a “B” cup.

A case in point, pardon the pun:

That’s Paramount p1202-396, from late 1932 or sometime in ’33. Not sure who the photographer is (I’m guessing Otto Dyar), but the expert lighting, not to mention her stance, plays up her bosom — and while it may not transform Lombard into an early version of Marie Wilson, it does make her look more curvaceous than usual.

This is the type of photo that one eBay seller would typically characterize as “busty”…and while this item is available at eBay, it’s not from that seller. It’s 8″ x 10″, and is described this way: “The photo is in good condition with minor edge, corner and surface wear. There is also pinholes in the corners and along the side borders with 2 pinholes in the image that do not penetrate through the photo. The photo overall shows very well and these issues do not detract from this gorgeous and rare image.”

It’s being sold for $95. If interested, go to

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Welcome to the working week

Posted by [info]vp19 on 2011.04.11 at 08:36
Current mood: workingworking

For many of you, Monday means the start of another work week. (My schedule is a bit different, as I have Sundays and Mondays off; my “Monday” is your “Tuesday.”) To provide some inspiration while you toil in the office, some photos (and relatively rare ones) from Carole Lombard’s week-long sojourn in July 1938 handling publicity at Selznick International Pictures, more or less giving a break to its usual PR maven, the talented Russell Birdwell (shown above). It was good publicity for her, too.

Here’s Lombard doing all sorts of odds and ends. A lot different from acting, isn’t it, Carole?

Two more photos, including one showing Lombard with noted writer Gene Fowler, a close friend of one-time Carole co-star John Barrymore:

Both pages look to be from the same publication (probably from the fall of ’38), but I don’t know what magazine it is.

However, it should be noted in fairness that Carole worked both sides of the publicity game. In early 1936, she served as guest editor for Screen Book magazine, following in the footsteps of Ginger Rogers:

All these are from Tally Haugen’s newly-acquired collection of Lombard memorabilia, and I again give thanks to her for letting me share these with you.

This week’s header shows Carole looking over her shoulder from about 1933 or ’34.

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Down on the farm

Posted by [info]vp19 on 2011.04.10 at 08:35
Current mood: productiveproductive

That picture of Carole Lombard with her beloved Palomino pony, Pico (Paramount p1202-1553) puts me in the mood for a few more photos of Lombard living the farmer’s life. Or should that be farmer’s wife, since these pics are from the Encino ranch she shared with husband Clark Gable.

This one is from the November 1939 issue of Motion Picture:

Next, a few assorted photos of Clark, Carole and livestock. Not sure what magazine this is from, but the reference to Lombard’s appendectomy leads one to believe that this was from the fall of 1939. And “Not Too Narrow, Not Too Deep”? That was the initial title of the Gable film later known as “Boom Town.” (Also love that line, “Like all wives, Carole knows how to get her hubby’s goat.”)

Both of this clippings are from Tally Haugen’s recently inherited collection of Lombard memorabilia.

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He learned what Breen wanted

Posted by [info]vp19 on 2011.04.09 at 08:56
Current mood: mellowmellow

Carole Lombard may have looked nervous while viewing the dailies for “They Knew What They Wanted” with director Garson Kanin and co-star Charles Laughton, but she wasn’t the only one who was tied up in knots over the film. Just getting it to that point was a challenge, as the producer vouched in print.

Erich Pommer was one of the most respected people in international film, producing some of the best German movies of the Weimar era — “The Cabinet Of Dr. Caligari,” “The Last Laugh,” “Metropolis” and “The Blue Angel,” among others. After the Nazis came to power, he left Germany, working for Fox, Alexander Korda and others (including two films with Laughton). In 1939, he signed a deal to produce films for RKO and decided to adapt Sidney Howard’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play, “They Knew What They Wanted.” What happened next was the subject of a story in a New York newspaper:

(This is from Tally Haugen’s recently-acquired treasure trove of Lombard memorabilia. Unfortunately, the item is incomplete, and I’m not sure what newspaper it’s from.)

“For the finished script came back from the Hays office with a sad letter and eight pages of objections.” Pommer knew he would have a difficult time with Joseph Breen, and was aware the play had been on the banned list. So Pommer decided to make an adversary his ally.

“First (Breen told) me his objections. Then he’d suggest a way to get around them. And it was he who suggested an ending. We hadn’t been able to find an ending. Joe Breen found one for us.”

For all the inveighing we’ve made against Breen at “Carole & Co.”, it must be said the guy liked movies. In fact, for a time in the 1940s, he left his position as industry censor and became an executive at RKO.

How did Carole get involved in the project?

“They wanted Carole Lombard for the waitress part, but they were sure she would never accept. A little scared they sent her the completed script. Next day arrived a hundred-word telegram thanking them for the chance to play the finest role she had ever had. Miss Lombard, it seems, is eager to prove she is not just a glamor girl nor yet just a comedienne. Her part does not compare in size to Laughton’s but the star accepted it and played it just as it was written and directed without one plea for more lines or closeups. Again Erich Pommer is grateful. It is, he says, a beautiful performance, and one with almost no comedy.”

Interesting that Lombard still had the “comedienne” tag after having appeared in the drama-tinged “Made For Each Other,” the romantic drama “In Name Only,” and the nearly somber “Vigil In The Night.”

“They Knew What They Wanted” received approving reviews for the most part, but if Pommer and RKO expected blockbuster business, they were disappointed. And if Lombard signed onto the film hoping it might be Academy Award material, she was disappointed, too; the only Oscar nomination it received went to William Gargan for best supporting actor.

As for Pommer, he suffered a heart attack in 1941, recovered, and returned to Germany in 1946. There, he helped rebuild the German film industry, but he never regained his earlier glory. Pommer, who had gained American citizenship in 1944, returned to California and died in 1966.

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Does Debbie have Carole? The answer is yes

Posted by [info]vp19 on 2011.04.08 at 08:43
Current mood: pleasedpleased

We recently wondered whether Carole Lombard had any items included in the forthcoming part 1 of the auction of memorabilia from the collection of Debbie Reynolds.

The answer came last evening: “We do indeed.”

It’s a “Beige floor length gown with ornately pleated back panel and belt scarf, accented with embroidery wire, sequins, jet beads and seed pearls at neckline, on sleeves and tips of scarf and train. Sleeves on gown have been altered. Designed by Travis Banton.”

Okay, so what film was it used in?

“No Man Of Her Own,” Lombard’s lone film with Clark Gable, for Paramount in late 1932. Certainly something any fan of Carole’s can savor — and probably something that will go for a few thousand dollars (at least).

For more on the auction, go to And if this gown is a bit beyond your reach, don’t fret; there will likely be Lombard-related items among the 20,000 still photographs and several thousand movie posters scheduled to be in part 2 of the auction this December.

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Loves to ‘Rumba,’ needs work

Posted by [info]vp19 on 2011.04.07 at 07:59
Current mood: optimisticoptimistic

Almost sounds like a classified ad from a professional dancer circa 1935, doesn’t it? Actually, it applies to the item above, a rare window card from Carole Lombard’s Paramount film “Rumba” with George Raft, released in ’35. This is a design I’ve never seen before, and the seller admits it’s not in the best of shape…but adds that it can be restored:

“This ORIGINAL WINDOW CARD POSTER has a great need to be restored to its original grandness….but it is presentable in its current state. This ORIGINAL WINDOW CARD POSTER has been trimmed at the top blank theater talker space area down to the image line and now measures a full 13 1/2 x 17 inches and is in fair to good condition. The back of the card has been dot glued to a backing board and can easily be removed when restored. The colors are faded but are still recognizable. The top half of the card is red and the bottom half is yellow with the title ‘Rumba’ being red and black outlined. Lombard’s gown is a silver number with the inset head shots against a blue background…Lombard’s gown is green. There are some stains and a bit of surface paperloss to the white border areas. With all this going on I can tell you there are a number of lobby cards out there and there will be a JUMBO WINDOW CARD up for auction in a few months…..which has none of the wonderful graphics this piece has….but there are no accounts of this poster coming to market. This is a BEAUTIFUL WINDOW CARD!….don’t miss your chance to have a really outstanding piece of motion picture history. With a little TLC this poster will be a looker! I will list this piece just once more….then it’s off to either the restorer or the auction house.”

If you have sufficient TLC, and the talent to match (or the knowhow to find a capable restorer), this might be worth picking up. Of course, you’ll also need sufficient money to buy it — bidding starts at $359.99 (it just came on the market), and bids close at 7:47 p.m. (Eastern) next Wednesday. If you’re a serious memorabilia collector or a restorer, or simply want to learn more, visit

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From Debbie, to auction

Posted by [info]vp19 on 2011.04.06 at 11:24
Current mood: excitedexcited

Carole Lombard and other Hollywood stars are the subject of a huge array of memorabilia. And some of the most sought-after of such items are to be auctioned in June, from the collection of one of filmdom’s most beloved stars:

It’s Debbie Reynolds (who turned 79 last Friday — a belated happy birthday!), shown in her 1950s days of MGM stardom. For many years, Debbie has collected memorabilia, including many costumes, with hopes of establishing a museum dedicated to classic Hollywood. Her dream never quite caught on, so Reynolds has decided to auction her collection through the Profiles in History firm. Perhaps you saw her publicize it in February on the Oprah Winfrey Show.

Well, the specifics have just been announced, and it’s big. The collection has more than 20,000 original photographs, several thousand original posters and more than 3,500 costumes. About 700 of those costumes will be auctioned in part one of the sale, on June 18; the rest of the collection will be auctioned in December.

What sort of items are available? Well, here’s a taste, direct from the site:

There’s even Elizabeth Taylor’s jockey costume from “National Velvet,” long before she became Debbie’s romantic rival (and eventual friend).

A 1925 painting from the Marion Davies estate and some other non-costume items will also be auctioned in June. No word on whether the Reynolds collection includes any Lombard costumes, but I’m certain Carole’s represented among the photographs, and possibly the posters as well.

To learn more about the collection, and to pre-order a catalog, go to

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A Pathe star, on fox

Posted by [info]vp19 on 2011.04.05 at 08:34
Current mood: relievedrelieved

Didn’t know that Carole Lombard appeared in a fur advertisement, did you? (And as was the case with smoking, sensibilities in those days weren’t similar to what they are now; had Lombard grown up a generation or two later, given her fondness for animals, she might have had a substantially different view of wearing fur.)

It’s a highlight of a recent batch of items Tally Haugen e-mailed me from a treasure trove of Lombard clippings and such. It’s from Feb. 24, 1929 and presumably ran in a Los Angeles newspaper:

“Colburn’s Exclusive Fur Shop on South Flower Street, realize the necessity of light furs even in the summer-time for Southern California. Fox skins in all the new flattering shades will be worn for sports and afternoon costumes, and a long white fox scarf or two skins will take the place of summer wraps in many instances for evening. Carol Lombard, Pathe featured player, poses here in a coat created by Colburn, of grey Russian caracul bordered with platinum fox skin.”

Whether this photo was taken expressly for the ad or derived from a Pathe publicity photo, I do not know; in my far from complete listing of Pathe portraits, I didn’t see it. As for summertime furs, perhaps Los Angeles had cooler summers in the days before smog and widespread urban build-up.

I initially couldn’t see the entire ad copy because it’s covered by one of three photos in the next grouping:

At the top is Carole with Charles Laughton, in a promotional photo for “White Woman” in late 1933. Below are two photos from 1940 briefs, one to promote “They Knew What They Wanted” and the other from year’s end, when Lombard and husband Clark Gable were at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore.

Speaking of Carole and Clark, earlier in 1940 they were missing in Mexico, and it was big news:

Note that one of those in the MGM searching party was Otto Winkler, whose fate would be tied to Lombard’s less than two years later.

The other item shows Carole with her first husband, William Powell, in a publicity photo from 1936 for “My Man Godfrey.”

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A pair of pics you’ve likely never seen

Posted by [info]vp19 on 2011.04.04 at 02:14
Current mood: cheerfulcheerful

Ah, Carole Lombard being charmingly chic as only she can, even if it’s in the midst of sand dumped onto the portrait studio floor to create an ersatz beach. For the record, it’s Paramount p1202-282, but what’s it about? Fortunately, we have a snipe on the back, which not only informs us what film this is promoting (guess!) and why she’s wearing what she’s wearing:

It’s a vintage Lombard photo that has recently been put up for auction. And here’s another one that will probably be new to you:

It’s Carole with William Powell, taken on Powell’s Warners turf, and while I’m guessing from the January 1934 date on the back that it was taken following their divorce the previous August, it can’t be completely confirmed. We do know that Powell wasn’t long for Warners, jumping to MGM in early 1934, where he would meet Myrna Loy, and two years later have arguably the best calendar year for any actor during the classic era.

The “Sinners In The Sun” photo is the more valuable of the two, with the minimum bid going for $99.99 (no bids have been placed as of this writing); bids close at 9:05 p.m. (Eastern) next Sunday. The photo measures 7.5″ x 9.5″, and to bid or get more info, visit

Bids on the Powell pic, which is also 7.5″ x 9.5″, begin at $24.99 (no bids as of yet) and will be taken through 9:08 p.m. (Eastern) next Sunday. Go to for more information.

And this week’s header is from Lombard’s first Paramount film, “Safety In Numbers,” where she apparently hoped a pair of shiny silk stockings would help her get a leg up at the studio…and they evidently did.

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All sorts of happy stuff

Posted by [info]vp19 on 2011.04.03 at 12:34
Current mood: happyhappy

To borrow a line from the Harold Arlen song, forget your troubles and just get happy. If you’re in the Northern Hemisphere, spring is here; if you’re in North America, baseball season has begun; and if you’re a Carole Lombard fan, I have some more long-lost treasures, courtesy of Tally Haugen and her new batch of Lombard goodies. Seeing these made me happy, and they should have a similar effect on you.

In fact, we’ll kick things off with an item entitled “Found — A Happy Star”:

About the only things that could make me happier about this article would be finding it in its entirety, and discovering when and where it was published (I’m guessing it to be from 1932 or ’33). A Google search under “found a happy star” yielded no success (though I did get the locations of several “Happy Star” Chinese restaurants!), and looking under the name of the “as told to” writer, Dorothy Wooldridge, proved similarly unfruitful — but I did come up with this photo of her:

It’s from 1926, on the set of Warners’ “Across The Pacific,” and the “native” girl alongside Wooldridge is none other than a young (and fabulous-looking) Myrna Loy.

Here’s another “happy” story; in fact, it concerns “Two Happy People,” namely Lombard and Clark Gable. Its author is James Street, who may well be the James H. Street whose story “Letter To The Editor” was the genesis for Lombard’s hit “Nothing Sacred,” and it’s from Movie And Radio Guide of May 11, 1940:

Is the title, “Two Happy People,” a take-off on the name of a current hit of the time, “Two Sleepy People”? An intriguing piece, and alas, another incomplete one.

We’ll stay with Clark and Carole, and in fact get a pictorial of life on the ranch in “At Home With The Gables.” Ida Zeitlin wrote this for Picture Play in August 1940, and again, it’s incomplete:

We’ll close by wishing a happy 89th birthday to a legend of both music and movies, the great Doris Day. Here’s my favorite record of hers, a 1947 version of the old ballad “Pretty Baby.” This is the only sample of the song on YouTube, taken from a 78 rpm recording (it can be found on many of Day’s CD greatest hits compilations, in far better sound quality). Love the arrangement by George Siravo, and Doris sings this beautifully and sensually — as close to a sexy lullaby as you’re going to get.

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Here comes the bride…to be

Posted by [info]vp19 on 2011.04.02 at 01:24
Current mood: jubilantjubilant

Earlier this week, we noted the anniversary of Carole Lombard’s marriage to Clark Gable. This entry’s topic concerns Carole’s first marriage, to another Hollywood legend…William Powell.

While Lombard and Powell had been a social pair for several months, by June 1931 talk that their teaming could take the ultimate step soared to new heights. And that month, the couple decided to do just that — only to find the press had caught wind of their plans.

Acme Newspictures commemorated it with this photo:

Was Carole allowing the papers to see the gown she’d wed William in? Uh, not quite. Here’s the bad of the photo, followed by a closeup of the snipe, shown in greyscale for clarity:

“Miss Lombard, who is seen above in an appropriate costume…” (Also love the reference to Powell as “the suave racketeer of the talkies.”) And isn’t it interesting that Lombard listed her “real” name as “Carole Jane Peters”? The “Carole” was played up for recognition, while the “Alice” in her birth name was shunted down the rabbit hole. (At least she listed her genuine age, not shaving off a year as was often done.)

Okay, so when was the shot of this “costume” taken? Well, since there’s no p1202 number or other Paramount identification, it looks to be from a bit earlier — Pathe, perhaps, since it issued several photos of Lombard in bridal wear. But in my search of Lombard Pathe pics or those from its top photographer, William E. Thomas, I find nothing comparable.

It’s an attractive, demure portrait, nonetheless. And it’s being auctioned at eBay.

The photo measures 6″ x 8″, is considered in good condition, and bids begin at $49.99 (no bids have been made as of this writing). Bidding closes at 8:17 p.m. (Eastern) next Friday. If you wish to place a bid, or just want to learn more about the photo, visit

Oh, and on June 26, 1931, four days after this was issued, Carole and Bill tied the knot, then celebrated with Lombard’s brothers, Frederick and Stuart Peters:

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No April fool: Only ‘Fragments’ are left

Posted by [info]vp19 on 2011.04.01 at 01:14
Current mood: frustratedfrustrated

Carole Lombard’s screen debut in 1921’s “A Perfect Crime,” when she was still Jane Alice Peters and all of 12 years old, has long been lost to history. Sadly, most movies from that era have shared a similar fate; according to film historian and Turner Classic Movies host Robert Osborne, up to four-fifths of films issued before 1930 have either disappeared or are damaged beyond repair.

Pretty chilling.

Sunday at 8 p.m. (Eastern), TCM in the U.S. will present a tantalizing glimpse at what’s disappeared in a two-hour special called “Fragments.” It contains clips of films that only survive piecemeal, taunting reminders of what we’ve lost. The special is produced by Flicker Alley, and features material from the Academy Film Archive, the UCLA Film & Television Archive and the Library of Congress Packard Campus for Audio Visual Conservation. (It’s similar to a presentation that was given at last year’s TCM Classic Film Festival.)

What makes “Fragments” all the more frustrating is that among the celluloid victims on display here are several of the most notable names of pre-1930 cinema, including director John Ford and actors such as Emil Jannings, Douglas Fairbanks Sr., Lon Chaney Sr., Theda Bara…and Clara Bow.

For much of the late 1920s, Bow was the biggest female star in Hollywood, a meal ticket for Paramount — and yet, several of her hits are either lost or survive in bits and pieces. Among the latter is “Red Hair,” and Sunday you’ll see the only known color footage of Clara, in two-strip Technicolor. Bow’s biggest contemporary “flapper” rival, Colleen Moore at First National, suffered similarly; in fact, when she died in 1988, she had outlived the last known copy of her breakthrough hit, “Flaming Youth.” Both were victims of an industry philosophy that viewed its work as generally ephemeral, with little or no emphasis placed on preserving product.

Even an Academy Award wasn’t enough to preserve a film; “Fragments” contains the only remaining footage of Jannings’ Oscar-winning performance in “The Way Of All Flesh.” (Jannings also won for “The Last Command,” which survives intact.)

Bara’s legendary 1917 portrayal of Cleopatra, long before Claudette Colbert or Elizabeth Taylor tried their hand at playing the legendary Egyptian queen, survives in a mere few seconds of film, and you’ll see it Sunday.

But fragmentary film isn’t solely a silent concern. Quite a few early talkies, including several embryonic musicals, survive only in segments, including the 1929 “Gold Diggers Of Broadway,” entirely shot in early Technicolor but now diminished to a few fragments:

Diana Serra Cary, best known as “Baby Peggy” and one of the few surviving performers from silent times, will be interviewed to complement a fragment from her 1923 film “Darling Of New York.”

The good news is that every now and then, films previously deemed completely or partially lost are found in places from New Zealand to Russia. So there’s always hope. In the meantime, the battle remains to preserve the film we already have before it falls victim to the ravages of age and time. (Among the films that have been restored at UCLA are “Nothing Sacred” and several of Lombard’s comedy vehicles for Mack Sennett.)

At 10 p.m., TCM’s historical evening continues with “Unseen Cinema: Early American Avant Garde Film 1894-1941,” featuring 16 experimental works by early filmmakers. It includes a 1941 production of “Peer Gynt,” featuring a 17-year-old from suburban Chicago named Charlton Heston; or how about future famed character actor Edward Everett Horton in the 1925 “Beggar On Horseback”? There are also pioneer dance and ballet segments dating back to the 1890s.

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Posted December 31, 2011 by vp19 in Uncategorized

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