Carole & Co. entries, October 2011   Leave a comment

He once was Carole Lombard. Huh?

Posted by [info]vp19 on 2011.10.31 at 01:11
Current mood: weirdweird

With today being Halloween — a holiday Carole Lombard is honoring above — it seemed appropriate to run this, arguably one of the most offbeat entries that’s ever appeared at “Carole & Co.” I may have some skepticism about this story, but I’ll leave the final judgment on its validity to each reader. If you don’t believe it, don’t mock its source but merely look upon it as a sort of supernatural Halloween tale. Fair enough?

The concept of past lives lends itself to easy Shirley MacLaine jokes (and to her credit, much of the time the wonderful Shirley can joke about it herself). If it really is the case, who knows who we used to be (although it sure seems that we used to be someone famous or notable a disproportionate amount of the time). Last year, we did an entry on actress Emma Roberts (Julia is her aunt), who said a psychic had told her she was Carole reincarnated (

This is about a man named Matt Burns, who writes and directs films and videos and earlier this year wrote his first novel. According to him, metaphysical research has revealed he has lived 32 past lives, in various parts of the world and just about all of them lives of non-celebrity.

There is one exception, however.

Burns had a sense that one of his earlier lives had been in California, so through a practice called “dowsing,” which involves a pendulum and some “yes” or “no” questions, he asked whether he had been in Hollywood and got “a very strong yes.”

“Then I asked whether I was an actor. Yes. And whether I was in silent pictures. A weak ‘yes’. And whether I was in ‘talkies’ (i.e. movies with sound and dialogue). A much stronger ‘yes’. And whether I was famous. Yes.

“At this point, my mind raced with possibilities. I went through a few names like John Barrymore, Charlie Chaplin and even Ed Wood. But I got ‘no’s’ in response to all of them. Plus, I didn’t really feel that I was any of these people, anyway (though it would have been cool if I was). I searched my mind for more names, but after a few seconds it hit me that maybe I wasn’t even a male actor. It occurred to me that I may have been an actress. After all, it’s not unusual for a male to have had a past life at some point as a female.”

According to Burns, the dowsing indicated he had been an actress, had been famous and died young, but not via drugs, so Marilyn Monroe was out. So the next actress who came to mind was…

“Was I Carole Lombard in my past life?” I asked the pendulum.

Yes. A very strong YES.

“Holy s—.”

I think all of us would have had a similar reaction.

While Burns works in the entertainment industry, he’s hardly a classic movie buff. As he puts it,

“Now, I should just say right now that I hardly knew anything about Lombard until her name came up from the dowsing. I was never drawn to her in any way, nor was I fan of her work. And I never had seen one single movie that she was in. To tell you the truth, I wasn’t even sure Lombard was an actress. I knew she was at least a socialite who was — at one time — married to Clark Gable. I knew she had died in a tragic plane crash as well. But I really didn’t know anything other than that. I would have never (and I mean NEVER) suspected that I was Carole Lombard in my past life, not in a million friggin’ years! So it was incredibly strange to have her name pop into my head. I mean, it’s not like — on a subconscious level — I WANTED to be Lombard and this is why her name came up. I would have much rather preferred discovering I was Charlie Chaplin, or maybe Humphrey Bogart or any other MAN (yes, MAN!)”

Seeking confirmation — or at least clarification — Burns went to a medium, who told him, before he cited any Lombard connection, “When I look at you there’s two people coming through very strongly: Howard Hughes and Jack Parsons [an aviator who was Hughes’ assistant].” Of course, Hughes and Lombard apparently had a brief, passionate relationship in the late 1920s, and Carole may well have lost her virginity to him.

There’s much more to the Burns story, including some rather unsavory things that may have happened during Lombard’s life that she supposedly kept to herself. I really don’t feel comfortable discussing them here, but if you want to see his whole story — which includes audio clips of several of his psychic meetings — go to

It was 73 years ago today — Oct. 31, 1938 — that Lombard made her second appearance on the CBS series “Lux Radio Theater.” This time, instead of adapting an earlier triumph of hers (“My Man Godfrey”), Carole acted on someone else’s turf…specifically, Bette Davis, playing the lead in an adaptation of Bette’s 1937 film, “That Certain Woman.” The cast also includes Basil Rathbone and Jeffrey Lynn, and it’s fascinating to hear Lombard attempt a role she didn’t do on screen. You can listen to it at

This week’s header shows Lombard and George Raft in the first of their two dance movies, “Bolero” from early 1934.

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From the sellers of the ‘Godfrey’ press book…

Posted by [info]vp19 on 2011.10.30 at 07:19
Current mood: amusedamused

…that we wrote an entry on Thursday (, another pressbook from a famed Lombard movie:

It’s her lone Technicolor feature, “Nothing Sacred.” However, the “for sale” price on this one (you can also make an offer) is a mere $100, compared to $400 for the “Godfrey” pressbook. What gives?

The likely reason is that something was clipped from this item, but even if it was complete it might be deemed less valuable. Why?

Well, the girl drawn on the cover of the pressbook hardly looks like Lombard (as her photo with co-star Fredric March below it makes evident), and Monty Woolley’s name is misspelled. (Sig Ruman, who appeared in several of Carole’s films, was born with the last name “Rumann” and for a time used that version before dropping the second “n.”) But another reason for its relative lack of value is that it’s for the re-release of “Nothing Sacred” through the firm Film Classics, Inc. It had bought the rights to several Selznick International pictures in 1943, as David O. Selznick sold off many of his assets to liquidate the company and satisfy the Internal Revenue Service. (Cinecolor later bought the firm, remastered the film with its process and eliminated all Technicolor references. Eventually, it wound up in the public domain.)

So Lombard was gone by the time this was issued, but it appears Film Classics simply re-used much of the original 1937 pressbook:

Note the terribly racist reference to Troy Brown, the black actor who portrays the sham potentate: “Newest of the colored motion picture ‘finds’ is Troy Brown, 310 pounds of darky.”

Exploitation suggestions also seem to be directly lifted from the ’37 book:

Lombard’s passing rendered some of these gimmicks in poor taste, and one doubts few, if any, were used by exhibitors for the re-issue.

Here are two other views of the pressbook, both including the cut-out section:

The book measures 18″ x 12″, and the seller describes it as having “modest wear to the corners and covers…the front cover has tiny insect damage/holes…the rear cover has an ad. cut from it…there is an old moisture mark to the upper left-hand corner and spine edge, This is throughout although light…horizontal crease…ALL as pictured…else very nice.”

If you’re a collector of classic film or Carole pressbooks, this would certainly be of interest to you. The sale is slated to end at 10:24 p.m. (Eastern) on Tuesday, Nov. 8. To learn more about it (perhaps to coincide with Halloween, the film’s title is erroneously listed as “Nothing Scared“), go to

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Blonde on blonde on blonde on blonde on blonde…

Posted by [info]vp19 on 2011.10.29 at 00:00
Current mood: excitedexcited

Carole Lombard’s first Photoplay cover, for the June 1934 issue, illustrated by Earl Christy, has as its lone accompaniment (aside from the ubiquitous National Recovery Administration eagle) the memorable phrase “Blondes Plus Curves Mean War,” leading one to believe Carole was one of the “combatants.” Not so, alas.

“It’s a war of sex appeal,” the magazine says, “of styles of making love and tricks of personality — a war of lovely women!” I read the article on microfilm some years ago — this volume of Photoplay isn’t available online yet — and recall the “warriors” were all European, with Marlene Dietrich beating out Greta Garbo and Anna Sten (yes, Anna Sten).

There is something to be said for the power of blonde, something in those golden tresses that makes those actresses in them seem larger than life. And on Mondays and Wednesdays next month, Turner Classic Movies in the U.S. is honoring 18 ladies with those lovely light locks in something it calls the “Battle Of The Blondes.”

The title conjures up one of those “battle royales” from pro wrestling (just who among them will bring a folding chair into the ring?), but thankfully it’s a salute, not a competition. Each gets two films of hers shown, and yes, Lombard is among the honorees.

Carole’s night is Nov. 16, and ironically one of the movies scheduled features her hair in a reddish-blond tint. But that’s okay, because it happens to be the restored version of her 1937 classic “Nothing Sacred,” shown in its full, glorious Technicolor:

TCM host Robert Osborne, who isn’t returning to the air until Dec. 1 but is still writing for the channel while on vacation, notes that “Nothing Sacred” is “a film which until now has only been available to us in a grainy, seriously flawed print.” This new print is likely the one Kino Video will be using for its new home video (DVD and Blu-ray) version of the film set for sale in December (

“Nothing Sacred” will air at 8 p.m. (Eastern), followed by “To Be Or Not To Be” (where Carole is genuinely blonde), at 9:30. Two Mae West pre-Codes, “She Done Him Wrong” and “I’m No Angel,” will follow.

Above are nine of the 18 blondes honored. Here’s the complete lineup, beginning next Wednesday:

* Nov. 2 — Marilyn Monroe and Jayne Mansfield
* Nov. 7 — Veronica Lake and Lana Turner
* Nov. 9 — Judy Holliday and Jean Harlow
* Nov. 14 — Marlene Dietrich and Ursula Andress
* Nov. 16 — Carole Lombard and Mae West
* Nov. 21 — Janet Leigh and Brigitte Bardot
* Nov. 23 — Betty Grable and Doris Day
* Nov. 28 — Julie Christie and Diana Dors
* Nov. 30 — Grace Kelly and Kim Novak

An interesting mix, featuring some blondes who never had sustained American success (Dors) or had relatively few starring vehicles (Andress). And because most of Grable’s peak years were at Twentieth Century-Fox, TCM rarely shows her films. The two it is showing here, both TCM premieres, are “Down Argentine Way” (1940) and “Sweet Rosie O’Grady” (1943), and in both Betty shows the unpretentious likability that made her such a favorite in the forties.

As Osborne writes, “Interestingly, the tough part of planning this salute to movie blondes wasn’t figuring out which ladies to feature but facing the fact that so many of the great blonde bombshells of the movies weren’t really blondes at all.” He cites Lana Turner as an example, a real-life brunette who didn’t fully turn blonde until the early ’40s. Ah, to the power of peroxide.

Here’s the promo TCM is running for the “battle”:

Is it true blondes have more fun, as the 1960s commercial asked? It certainly seemed that way on screen.

We’ll close with a fascinating artifact which has nothing to do with blondes. TCM showed the Hollywood tale “Inside Daisy Clover” Friday morning, and while it wasn’t much of a film — it had absolutely no feel for the look of the 1930s, the period in which the movie was set — it contained one splendid song, “You’re Gonna Hear From Me.” Frank Sinatra recorded what is arguably the definitive version for one of his Reprise albums, and in the movie Jackie Ward dubbed most of Natalie Wood’s singing aside from four early lines, but Wood’s vocals have been put on a 2 CD-set of Andre Previn’s movie music and someone has been able to match most of Natalie’s singing with what she did on screen (her vocals and Jackie’s are each identified). This editing endeavor took a lot of work, but it was worth it. (Also note the fleeting image of Lombard as a “star” during the fictional studio’s promotional film for Daisy Clover; it’s there at about the 5:32 mark.)

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Carole’s got yet another admirer

Posted by [info]vp19 on 2011.10.28 at 15:23
Current mood: cheerfulcheerful

Over the years, more than a few show business performers have cited Carole Lombard as an influence, including Julie Newmar and Teri Garr. Now, add one more talented star to the list.

Christine Ebersole has won a Tony Award (like Newmar), has regularly appeared on TV, and her films have included “Tootsie” (alongside Garr) and “Amadeus.” She’s also renowned as an interpreter of standards and Broadway classics, from Rodgers & Hart to Noel Coward to Stephen Sondheim.

She told the Los Angeles Times that Lombard was her “biggest influence,” adding, “I loved her childlike mischievousness — that, I identified with. She had a complete honesty about her performance. I was drawn to ‘Twentieth Century.’ I identify her with the sophistication and the acting of that era. I felt like I had lived then.”

If you’re in southern California this weekend, Ebersole will take part in “Stephen Sondheim: In Conversation,” with Sondheim and Brian Stokes Mitchell at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts, Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall, 615 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa, (714) 556-2746. 8 p.m. Saturday. Go to to learn more.

Note: Weekend snows in the east prevented Sondheim from making it to Costa Mesa, but as they say in showbiz, the show must go on. Here’s how it did:

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Another ‘Godfrey’ publicity artifact

Posted by [info]vp19 on 2011.10.27 at 00:49
Current mood: thoughtfulthoughtful

Our entry two days ago featured a trade publication ad for “My Man Godfrey,” the Carole Lombard-William Powell comedy that hit movie screens in the fall of 1936. We now have another item that shows how Universal promoted this release, which turned out to be a big hit for the reorganized studio (by this time, Carl Laemmle had decided to sell Universal; he would die three years later):

It’s a pressbook, measuring a whopping 26″ x 13″, and full of all sorts of things to sell the movie, such as press release “stories” that could be placed in newspapers (just fill in the name of the theater and the date “Godfrey” opens). For example, see part of a piece with a Lombard “byline” (one doubts she actually wrote it) discussing her character, dizzy but good-intentioned socialite Irene Bullock:

The entire page, full of stories to plant to willing papers, looks like this:

Other pages are loaded with ideas, many of them offbeat or even gimmicky, to publicize the film:

One wonders how many theaters held a “Lombard Day For Lombard Blondes,” held a “butlers’ ball” or staged a scavenger hunt. However, we do know some of these “showmanship stunts” were actually used (

Here are some other pages from the scrapbook:

All in all, a pretty astounding package, one in reasonably good shape considering it’s a little more than 75 years old. The seller deems it in “very good” condition, adding, “the book has been folded…there is a very slight squish to the lower edge…there is a tear to the lower spine and upper edge…the covers have some light marks/rubbing…else very nice.”

Something this rare won’t come cheap; you can buy it straight up for $400 or make an offer. The seller states, “we may or may not be able to accept your offer…If it is close, we might counter your offer…If we do so, we will state that it is our BEST price and we CANNOT go lower than that.” Just so you know. Also, while the seller is based in Kansas City, Kansas, international shipping is available.

The sale is set to close at 9:50 p.m. (Eastern) a week from Saturday (Nov. 5). If this is of interest to you, learn more at

“Godfrey” was such a popular film that Universal reissued it in June 1939, and the Paramount in downtown Los Angeles ran it as part of a double bill with, of all movies, “The Old Dark House.” By then, however, the film’s reputation sold itself.

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There May yet be an Academy museum

Posted by [info]vp19 on 2011.10.26 at 11:21
Current mood: optimisticoptimistic

The closest Carole Lombard ever came to working in a department store was this scene from “Mr. & Mrs. Smith.” But in the not too distant future, Lombard and others from filmdom’s Golden Age “may” be honored in a building that once housed a fabled department store.

It’s the old May Co. building on Wilshire Boulevard and Fairfax Avenue, in the “Miracle Mile” segment of Los Angeles. The store opened in 1939, and while we have no record whether Carole shopped in or entered it (as we know she did with Bullocks Wilshire not far away), she almost certainly drove past it a number of times and was likely enthralled with its Streamline Moderne design.

The store closed some years ago, and the building was acquired by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art to complement its other sites along the block. For years, it didn’t know what to do it.

Meanwhile, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences had announced plans to build a museum in Hollywood, on land it had acquired ( Had everything gone as planned, it would have opened sometime in 2012. But that little thing called the economic downturn raised its ugly head, and AMPAS couldn’t raise the money it needed to build the museum.

Mix one empty building with one unbuilt one, and…voila. As Los Angeles Times architectural critic Christopher Hawthorne wrote on Oct. 12:

“At least from a bottom-line perspective, it’s easy to see the thinking behind the decision by (LACMA director Michael) Govan and his board to hand over the old May Co. building at Wilshire Boulevard and Fairfax Avenue, which it acquired in 1994 and renamed LACMA West, to the academy for its long-planned movie museum. In a single stroke, Govan has freed LACMA from the cost of renovating the building for its own use and guaranteed a steady stream of lease revenue and new visitors.

“When you consider that a Metro subway line will be coming to Wilshire and Fairfax by the end of the decade, the plan looks even smarter. With a major transit stop and a movie museum at its front door, it’s not hard to imagine the museum’s annual attendance leaping well past the 2010 figure of just more than 900,000.

“The architectural implications of the decision are more complicated. LACMA had been working with the Culver City firm SPF Architects to renovate the May Co. building, adding galleries and offices, and there were plans for a pair of installations by the artist James Turrell on its rooftop. The academy, for its part, had hired the French architect Christian de Portzamparc to work on preliminary designs for a planned museum in Hollywood.

“At this point, it’s unclear who will design the new movie museum inside the May Co. building and how it will look — to say nothing of its relationship with the rest of LACMA. What is clear is that the museum campus is now settling into three distinct — and architecturally very different — sections.

“On the western edge will be the film museum, with 300,000 square feet of galleries inside the 1939 May Co. building, a landmark of Streamline Moderne architecture by Albert C. Martin. LACMA has ceded control of these interiors to the academy, which means the museum will probably look something like recent projects by David Rockwell, who designed the Kodak Theatre, where the Oscars are handed out each year, and the last two stage sets for the ceremony.”

From an AMPAS perspective, losing a Hollywood location is more than compensated for by its convenience on one of L.A.’s major thoroughfares, and in a landmark building to boot. Tentative plans are to open the museum sometime in 2013. It’s unfortunate AMPAS and Debbie Reynolds couldn’t come to an agreement to place some of her huge inventory of items in the museum before they were put up for auction (part two is set for later this year), but once it opens, it should be a popular tourist attraction.

For history on attempts to create a film museum, efforts that have been going on for more than eight decades, visit

Oh, and just to set the record straight: While Mary Livingstone (born Sadie Marks), wife of Jack Benny and part of his famed radio troupe, was indeed a lingerie salesgirl for the May Co., it was at its downtown flagship. By the time the Wilshire store opened, Mary was a noted radio performer.

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‘Herald’-ing ‘Godfrey’

Posted by [info]vp19 on 2011.10.25 at 21:47
Current mood: amusedamused

You remember me, right? Well, I’m back with entries for “Carole & Co.”, and we’re going to start with one concerning arguably Carole Lombard’s most famous film, “My Man Godfrey.” This pertains to advertising for the film in the Sept. 5, 1936 issue of the trade paper, “Motion Picture Herald”:

The cover is nondescript; the ad for “Godfrey” inside isn’t:

Nicely done by Universal, but it’s not the only notable film advertised in that issue. Take a look at this promotion for this Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers gem:

Plenty of raves for this film (the blurbs are on separate pages, they don’t carry over to the other), though the Hollywood Reporter’s comment — “Means another golden shower for all box-offices” — probably provoked a ribald giggle or two.

Several other films advertised include “Stage Struck,” with Dick Powell, Joan Blondell and Warren William; “Girls’ Dormitory” with Ruth Chatterton and new find Simone Simon; “The Magnificent Brute” with Victor McLaglen; and “Craig’s Wife” with Rosalind Russell and John Boles.

This issue, 90 pages in good condition, can be yours through eBay. Bids begin at $5 (none have been received yet), and bids close at 2:56 p.m. (Eastern) next Thursday, Nov. 3. You can learn more at

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A pretty portrait and a high (and low) slide

Posted by [info]vp19 on 2011.10.22 at 00:18
Current mood: relaxedrelaxed

Here’s a fairly rare, but lovely, Carole Lombard Paramount portrait, p1202-594, probably from about 1933. Not sure who took it — maybe Eugene Robert Richee, possibly Otto Dyar — but it captures Carole at her most captivating. It’s up for auction at eBay; I’m assuming it’s not original, since the seller says nothing about that. It measures 8″ x 10″, and bids begin at $7.49, with bidding closing at 12:26 p.m. (Eastern) next Friday. You can find out more by going to

We’ve periodically noted the existence of glass slides for Lombard movies, promotional items theaters would use for coming attractions. (These slides served the same function as trailers.) A slide for her 1937 film “Swing High, Swing Low” is currently being auctioned:

This is the second “Swing High, Swing Low” slide we’ve seen — we know it’s different because whereas the first was blank at the bottom, this one has the wording “SAT DOUBLE FEATURE.” (If only we knew the theater, or what the other film on the bill was.) It’s from the same firm as the other slide for this movie — Consolidated Film Industries, Inc., of Fort Lee, N.J., the town that briefly served as film’s capital before everything went west.

Bidding begins at $9.99 (no bids have been made as of this writing), with bids closing at 10:29 p.m. (Eastern) next Thursday. If you’re among the growing number of people collecting vintage movie glass slides and interested in acquiring this, visit

I’m going to be away for a few days, as I’m taking the train to visit my mother (she turns 91 on Tuesday!). Thought I’d leave you with one of my favorite train songs — Bob Dylan’s “Tonight I’ll Be Staying Here With You,” one of the highlights from his acclaimed “Nashville Skyline” album. This was released as a single in the fall of 1969 and was a moderate hit. Dylan here stakes his claim as one of the guiding lights of Americana music, and I think you’ll love it as much as I do.

See you in a few days, and if you’d like to contribute an entry to “Carole & Co.”, by all means do so. This site isn’t meant to be a one-way street.

The latest header shows Lombard in the second of her three Pathe talkie features from 1929, “Big News.” She’s being held by Robert Armstrong, who would co-star with her later in the year in “The Racketeer.” (Incidentally, “Big News” was directed by Gregory La Cava some seven years before he would reunite with Carole for what might be his best-known film, “My Man Godfrey.”)

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Clark Gable and Judy Lewis ….

Posted by [info]cinemafan2 on 2011.10.22 at 14:23

In 1960 shortly before he died, Clark Gable signed his last will and testament.  In it he pointedly disavowed any living children.  Thus he disowned and disinherited his only living child, a daughter named Judy that he fathered with Loretta Young in 1935.  (Subsequently, a son, John Clark Gable, was born to his widow Kay Gable five months after Gable’s death.)

Loretta Young and her daughter fathered by Clark Gable, Judy Lewis in the 1940’s.
Judy’s half-brother, Christopher Lewis, told her that Tom Lewis, once asked Clark Gable  if he was Judy’s biological father. Gable denied it, saying that he would love to have a child and adding, “Do you think I would let anyone else bringing up my only child?”. But he did. Tom Lewis was bringing up his only child.

Clark Gable was among those invited by Loretta Young to Judy Lewis’ wedding in June of 1958 just as he had been invited to her high school graduation as few years earlier. He declined both invitations and didn’t send a gift. And Gable, who once told an interviewer that his one real regret in life was that he never had any children, completely ignored the granddaughter that Judy soon bore.  (Ironically, Gable died on her first birthday.)

Judy Lewis only knew Clark Gable through his films. “Call of the Wild” and “Gone With the Wind” were two of her favorites. Enthralled by his megastar image, for years she blamed her mother for her estrangement from him. Loretta Young’s response was published posthumously in an authorized biography, Forever Young.  Loretta acknowledged Clark Gable was Judy’s father but stated that his estrangement from her was beyond her control. She said that Gable simply never showed any interest in Judy. He never contributed a dime to the bank account Young set up for her nor did he accept any of her invitations to events in her life.

 Perhaps in search of the father she never knew, Judy became a close friend of Cammie King Conlon, who played Bonnie Blue Butler, the daughter of Clark Gable’s character Rhett Butler in Gone with the Wind.  (At the time  they met and became friends Conlon was unaware that Judy was Gable’s daughter.)

Judy describes lovingly in her book Uncommon Knowledge a chance meeting Clark Gable at her parents home while he was filming Key to the City with her mother.   In her memory Gable acts much as Rhett Butler might.  He is kind and inquisitive about her.  Loretta Young however states clearly in her authorized biography that no such meeting ever took place.  See Forever Young, Page 265.

Judy has since acknowledged that her vision of her father may not be realistic. “I’ve tried to make my peace with the past, and I’m now happy to think of Gable in my own idealised way. I’ve purposefully made that choice, because I never was given the chance to know him and ask: ‘Where were you?’ ”  As to the Gone With The Wind scene where Gable plays affectionately with his fictional daughter, Lewis is quoted that “I like to think that he was thinking of me when he was playing those scenes”.  But she added that “perhaps the famous ‘Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn’ was a truer reflection of his feelings towards me”.

A recent photo of John Clark Gable. John Clark Gable steadfastly refuses to acknowledge Judy Lewis as his half sister to this day.

Judy Lewis’ 2001 interview with Larry King:

KING: “… John Clark Gable, the son of Clark Gable from another marriage, gave us a statement in which he said:
“My father said he had no other children and my father’s word is good enough for me.” “
J. LEWIS: Good for him.
KING: So, his father’s word is good enough for him, and your mother’s word is good enough for you, one of you is wrong. Do you know John Clark Gable?
J. LEWIS: Yes, we met. We met twice.
KING: What was that like?
J. LEWIS: The first time I met him was at a film of “Gone With The Wind,” and I knew who he was. But he didn’t know who I was. And the second time we met, we had dinner, and I gave him the book. And that was it. I have never heard from him since.

Judy Lewis and Loretta Young, the mother who was there for her all along, if not always in the way that Judy wished her to be, circa 1980.

A more recent photo of Judy Lewis.
Judy Lewis died of lymphoma on Friday, November 25, 2011 at the age of 76.


Ever enchanting at eBay

Posted by [info]vp19 on 2011.10.21 at 01:02
Current mood: rejuvenatedrejuvenated

It’s been a few days since we examined eBay for new items of Carole Lombard memorabilia, and look at what just came up — an exquisite portrait of Carole from the early 1930s. While there is no snipe on the back, there is a stamp with this information:

This “incredible photograph of the ever enchanting Carole Lombard,” as the seller describes it, was taken by Paramount’s ace house photographer, Eugene Robert Richee. The seller believes this original 8″ x 10″ silver gelatin portrait was taken in 1930 — and it well may be, but if it is it’s from late in the year; Lombard didn’t adopt “Carole,” with an “e,” as her first name for good until that fall, after “Fast And Loose” was in theaters. There’s no p1202 number either, which makes it difficult to pin down a precise date.

The photo is in pretty good shape for something that’s more than eight decades old. There’s slight discoloration and minor denting, but not much more. The starting bid is $99 (none has yet been made as of this writing), with bidding closing at 12:24 a.m. (Eastern) on Wednesday. If this interests you, go to to bid or find out more.

Another original 8″ x 10″ early ’30s portrait, this one p1202-155, is also available:

Bidding here starts somewhat higher ($194.95) and ends somewhat sooner — 11:15 p.m. (Eastern) on Tuesday. You can check it out at

The same seller has this exquisite 8″ x 10″, p1202-205, showing Lombard at her blondest:

The starting bid price for this? A whopping $344.95, with bids closing at 10:30 p.m. (Eastern) on Tuesday. If Carole’s blonde beauty mesmerizes you to the point where you must own this portrait, click on

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You(Tube) can now see all of ‘Hollywood’

Posted by [info]vp19 on 2011.10.20 at 00:12
Current mood: pleasedpleased

Carole Lombard, shown first in a lobby card for her first role as a female lead in Fox’s 1925 “Marriage In Transit” and then as a supporting player in the 1928 Pathe feature “Show Folks,” was at best a peripheral figure in silent cinema. Even if the automobile accident that put her career on hold for more than a year had never happened, she hadn’t yet gained the experience and acting gifts that made her a significant star in the ’30s. A pretty face, yes, but there were plenty of ingenues in the industry in the middle and late 1920s.

We’re saying this because the topic of today’s entry is about a documentary lasting nearly 13 hours where I’m almost certain Lombard’s name is not mentioned once. But it’s worth watching for so many reasons, not the least of which is to understand how Jane Alice Peters became a movie fan and discover what the business was like when she finally got the chance to partake of it.

We are referring to Kevin Brownlow and David Gill’s acclaimed 1980 British series, “Hollywood.”

While rights issues have prevented “Hollywood” from securing a DVD release (it is available on VHS, for the few who still use that format), there is good news for those who want to view it. While parts of the series have been on YouTube for quite some time, in recent days all 13 segments have been put up (or have a link to where it can be seen). It’s an invaluable resource for silent film fans, and it’s required viewing for anyone with an interest in film history

We’re going to provide links to all 13 episodes, illustrated with the cover of that volume’s VHS box. (Thanks to the site for providing access.)

* “The Pioneers” – The evolution of film from penny arcade curiosity to art form, from what was considered the first plot driven film,” The Great Train Robbery,” through to “The Birth of a Nation,” films showing the power of the medium. Early Technicolor footage, along with other color technologies, are also featured. Interviews include Lillian Gish, Jackie Coogan and King Vidor.

* “In the Beginning” – Hollywood is transformed from a peaceful village with dusty streets and lemon groves to the birthplace of the industry in California. Silent film transcends international boundaries to become a worldwide phenomenon. Interviews include Henry King, Agnes de Mille and Lillian Gish.

* “Single Beds and Double Standards” – Fast success in Hollywood brings a cavalier party lifestyle, which led to shocking scandals such as Roscoe ‘Fatty’ Arbuckle’s trial and subsequent acquittal for manslaughter. To tone down the image of Hollywood and curtail films with footage unsuitable to all audiences, Will H. Hays is appointed and introduces Hollywood’s self regulated Production Code, which would be enforced well into the 1960s, while filmmakers still found creative ways to present ‘adult’ situations. Interviews include King Vidor and Gloria Swanson.

* “Hollywood Goes To War” – The outbreak of World War I provides Hollywood with a successful source for plots and profits. Peacetime curtails the release of war movies, until the release of King Vidor’s” The Big Parade” in 1925. “Wings” (1927) earns the first Academy Award for Best Picture. As movies transition to sound, Universal releases Lewis Milestone’s “All Quiet on the Western Front,” showing the German side of the conflict, becoming a powerful statement of war by the generation that fought it. Interviews include Douglas Fairbanks Jr., King Vidor and Lillian Gish.

* “Hazard of the Game” – Silent films are often remembered for slapstick gags and dangerous stunts. Stuntmen took anonymous credit for very little pay and could not reveal their involvement. Stuntmen Yakima Canutt, Harvey Parry, Bob Rose and Paul Malvern tell hair-raising and humorous stories, and reveal the secrets behind many famous stunts.

* “Swanson and Valentino” – Two of the great romantic legends of the silent screen are profiled. Rudolph Valentino’s on-screen persona is remarkably different from his real personal life, as recounted by his brother, Albert, and Gloria Swanson recalls her meteoric rise – and fall – with remarkable candor. (Note that this was issued many years before the only film they made together, 1922’s “Beyond The Rocks,” was rediscovered.)

* “The Autocrats” – Two of Hollywood’s greatest directors, Cecil B. DeMille and Erich von Stroheim. One worked with the Hollywood system, the other against it. DeMille’s pictures, lavish in detail and cost, made his studio a fortune, while Von Stroheim’s similar ways, albeit to excess in footage and expense, resulted in films that were often either excessively cut by the studios or never released, leading to his being fired on several occasions. Interviews include Agnes DeMille, Gloria Swanson and Henry King.

* “Comedy – A Serious Business” – Hollywood learned very early how to make people laugh. Comedy was king, and battling for the throne were stars like Harold Lloyd, Buster Keaton, Harry Langdon and Charlie Chaplin. In a purely visual medium, their comedy was a work of genius. Interviews include Hal Roach Sr., Jackie Coogan, Buster Keaton and Harold Lloyd.

* “Out West” – The “Old West” was still in existence in the silent days. Old cowboys and outlaws re-lived their youth, and got paid for doing it, by working in films. The “western craze” really begins with stars like William “Buffalo Bill” Cody and Tom Mix. Interviews include Yakima Canutt, Colonel Tim McCoy, Harvey Parry and John Wayne.

* “The Man With the Megaphone” – Silent film directors were flamboyant pioneers, making up their technique as they went along. Filming “indoor” sets on open outdoor lots and combating the elements, communicating with actors in spite of overwhelming distraction and deafening noise, directors (male and female) fashion great films out of chaos and confusion. Interviews include Bessie Love, Janet Gaynor and King Vidor. (Note that for some reason, YouTube still will not allow this episode to be put up. However, a visit to the following link,, will provide instructions on how to view the episode.)

* “Trick of the Light” – Skilled cameramen had the ability to turn an actress into a screen goddess, and were valuable assets to studios and stars. With the aid of art directors, they achieved some of the most amazing and dangerous sequences captured on film, pioneering photography effects used through the remainder of the 20th century. Interviews include William Wyler, Lillian Gish and Colleen Moore, who explains at the outset that for an actress, a cameraman was more important than the director.

* “Star Treatment” – Producers discovered the effect of “star power” on their box office bottom line. Creating Hollywood stars becomes its own industry, resulting in the Hollywood Star System, from which came Clara Bow, Lillian Gish, and John Gilbert, successor to Rudolph Valentino as “The Great Lover.” But as easily as they made them, studios could break them. Interviews include Charles “Buddy” Rogers, Louise Brooks and King Vidor.

* “End of an Era” – Silent films had universal appeal, simply by replacing intertitles and dialogue cards for the foreign markets. Sound film was experimented with in many forms since the 1890s, but did not become commercially successful until The Jazz Singer in 1927. Hollywood movie making was transformed and ultimately shattered, taking the careers of many silent film stars, directors and producers with it, victims of the emerging technology. Interviews include Lillian Gish, Mary Astor, Janet Gaynor, George Cukor and Frank Capra Sr.

Wonderful stuff — and while we wish this groundbreaking production was available on DVD, at least it’s here for public viewing. It transports you to those halcyon days, as if you were just up Sunset Boulevard from the Warner Brothers studio, shown at left in 1925.

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Searching for the Holy Grail ….

Posted by [info]cinemafan2 on 2011.10.19 at 21:17
Current mood: cheerfulcheerful

Finding a photo of Jean Harlow and Carole Lombard together has been termed by Vince as finding a Holy Grail.

Well I found one of Jean Harlow and the Clark Gables together with Clark in his robe and slippers.  Both women are attending him.

And it was taken by the publicity department of MGM.  Judging by Harlow’s outfit and Clark being at home with Ria, it looks to be about 1934 or 1935.  Gable seems to be recovering from an illness.  Clark had a good relationship with Harlow without apparently ever being sexually intimate with her.   They had great  on screen chemistry.  Carole Lombard said Clark Gable referred to Jean as ‘one of the guys.’ So she was very different from her on screen presence.

Perhaps not quite the Holy Grail but the photo does have its own unique charm and interest.

Designing man, part 3: Travis Banton, Photoplay, June 1936

Posted by [info]vp19 on 2011.10.19 at 00:55
Current mood: accomplishedaccomplished

To paraphrase old-time radio announcers, “…And now, the exciting conclusion of ‘Trials And Triumphs Of A Hollywood Dress Designer,’ starring Travis Banton.” And also, finally, Carole Lombard (shown above in chic black from the May 1936 issue of Photoplay).

The last of this three-part series comes from the June ’36 issue. Banton has already reminisced about the stars he worked with in the silent and early talkie era; now comes the segment most readers were waiting for — stories about stars of the day and what their fittings were like.

So what did Banton say about Lombard? If you know anything about their relationship, you’d expect it to be highly complimentary, and you would be right. Specifically, here are his comments, beginning with comments on a fashion show he put on in June 1933:

It’s tantalizing to ponder Lombard’s steps as she strolled over to Banton and the wardrobe building; unfortunately, I have no map of the Paramount studio during the 1930s. Here’s how it looked in 2009 (keep in mind that the left quarter or so of the lot belonged to RKO in the ’30s — Desilu sold it to Paramount several decades later):

If the wardrobe building (now named for Edith Head, Banton’s one-time protege) was at the same location then, it’s just a matter of finding where Lombard’s suite resided (if it’s still there at all). If anyone knows where to track down a vintage Paramount studio map, please let me know.

Here’s a closeup of the first gown Banton designed for Lombard…the rest is fashion history:

Banton also discusses Claudette Colbert, Marlene Dietrich (whom he was with at the time of the March 10, 1933 earthquake while Lombard was working on “Supernatural”), and even Mae West. He says he first met West with trepidation because his uncle, Joab Banton, was the New York district attorney who prosecuted and jailed West in 1926 over her risque play “Sex.” To his relief, she said he was only doing his duty and harbored no ill feelings towards the family.

While much of this series has to be taken with the proverbial grain of salt through the Paramount publicity machine, it does provide insight into many of the ups and downs of being a studio fashion designer, one of the people who kept Lombard, and others, ethereal and dazzling.

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Designing man, part 2: Travis Banton, Photoplay, May 1936

Posted by [info]vp19 on 2011.10.18 at 00:23
Current mood: curiouscurious

A white chiffon gown and a salmon pink negligee are modeled by Carole Lombard in the May 1936 issue of Photoplay. Both outfits were designed by Travis Banton, subject of a three-part series in the magazine, “Trials And Triumphs Of A Hollywood Dress Designer.” Yesterday, we examined Banton’s arrival at Paramount and the starters he knew in his early Hollywood years. Today — from that May ’36 issue — we go to the late 1920s and the designer’s reflections on actresses he’d worked with. Some were easy, some were difficult, some were simply volatile.

Nancy Carroll may have looked cherubic on screen, but off-screen, she was anything but — a fashion headache. In contrast, while Clara Bow meant well, her boundless energy (not to mention a colossal Great Dane she would take to fittings) more often than not presented a challenge. Fortunately, Bebe Daniels — good-natured, if often injury-prone — and the now-forgotten Evelyn Brent more than compensated with their ease as fashion subjects. This installment also examines how Banton worked with two of the industry’s most fashion-famed actresses, the late Lilyan Tashman and Kay Francis.

Where’s Lombard, you ask? She’s being saved for the concluding part three, alongside Claudette Colbert, Marlene Dietrich and even Mae West.

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Designing man, part 1: Travis Banton, Photoplay, April 1936

Posted by [info]vp19 on 2011.10.17 at 08:58
Current mood: nostalgicnostalgic

This lovely image of Carole Lombard, taken by James Doolittle, is among the first true color photographs ever issued of her; it’s from the April 1936 issue of Photoplay...and perhaps not coincidentally, its designer happened to be featured in the magazine that month, the first of an illuminating three-part series.

We are referring to Travis Banton, one of the great fashion designers of classic Hollywood. While his fame in later decades was eclipsed by the likes of Edith Head (who began as his assistant at Paramount), Irene and Adrian, Banton was well-known by moviegoers of the 1930s for the outfits he created for Paramount’s stable of star actresses — Lombard, Marlene Dietrich, Claudette Colbert, Mae West and many others.

Over the next three days, we will run that entire Photoplay series, showing you the pages just as they ran. Here’s the first segment, describing Banton’s early years at Paramount, including skirmishes with Leatrice Joy, Florence Vidor, Greta Nissen and other 1920s notables.

Photoplay writer Julie Lang Hunt became a friend of Banton, admitting at the start of this series that this was something she’d wanted to write about for more than a decade. Over the next few days, I think you’ll agree the wait was worth it.

Oh, and many thanks to the Media History Digital Library from presenting these Photoplay pages in both wondrous condition and, where applicable, in their original dazzling color.

This week’s header shows Lombard in “Hands Across The Table,” a film that showed some of Banton’s more workmanlike (but no less chic) costumes.

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Holidays on the horizon

Posted by [info]vp19 on 2011.10.16 at 00:54
Current mood: relaxedrelaxed

Every fall, it seems I forget I have this Carole Lombard picture in my collection — but not this year. In order to help you with your classic Hollywood Halloween celebrations, I offer you this pic, complete with carved-out pumpkin and mask. (I’m guessing it was from her Pathe period, though it well could be very early at Paramount.) Truth be told, Lombard doesn’t look all that enthused with being there — unusual for her — as if she’s thinking to herself, “Okay, let’s get this over with; this is so obvious.” (Carole, it could have been worse…the studio could have had you wear a short black outfit with dark tights and put you aboard a broom. At least this isn’t anywhere as cheesy.)

And speaking of holidays, with Christmas not that far away (expect one of your local radio stations to temporarily shift to a holiday music format sometime next month, before Thanksgiving), a pair of seasonal Lombard pics are available at eBay. Both are professional reproductions, not original pics, and multiple copies of each can be bought.

The first photo was likely taken at Paramount, perhaps in 1930; the second is definitely from her Mack Sennett period, probably 1927. Each are being sold for $3.55 apiece in American currency (the seller is from the UK, and the price there is 2.25 pounds). For the first pic, go to×8-PHOTO-5-/120793715121?pt=UK_Collectables_Photographs_MJ&hash=item1c1fddd1b1, and for the second, visit×8-PHOTO-PRINT-/120793725152?pt=UK_Collectables_Photographs_MJ&hash=item1c1fddf8e0.

And happy holiday(s)!

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Get set for Jean’s set (at last!)

Posted by [info]vp19 on 2011.10.15 at 01:23
Current mood: excitedexcited

Hard to believe it’s been more than 5 1/2 years since Universal Home Video released the “Carole Lombard Glamour Collection,” a set of six films — none of which were all that well known to casual movie buffs at the time. (Universal gave Marlene Dietrich and Mae West similar treatment.) The Lombard collection helped spur interest in her career beyond the “big four” of “Twentieth Century,” “My Man Godfrey,” “Nothing Sacred” and “To Be Or Not To Be.”

For years, the coterie of fans for Carole’s good friend Jean Harlow waited — and pleaded — for similar treatment, and deservedly so. Yes, more than a few of her movies have received DVD release, and a few years back four of them were put together in a box set from Warner Home Video and Turner Classic Movies.

Nice, but Harlow’s army understandably wanted more. A box set with some films that haven’t yet made it to DVD, with a few extras for good measure. Something this year, too, coinciding with the centenary of the platinum blonde icon.

And come Oct. 25, that’s just what they’re going to get.

Meet the “Jean Harlow 100th Anniversary Collection,” featuring seven Harlow films all new to DVD — “Bombshell” (1933), “The Girl From Missouri” (1934), “Reckless” (1935), “Riffraff” (1936), “Suzy” (1936), “Personal Property” (1937) and “Saratoga” (1937). Moreover, the first three have been remastered (and will be available individually for $20). Those seven in themselves would make a delightful box set, but as the pitchman says, wait — there’s more:

* Six of the films feature trailers, including newly discovered ones for “Bombshell,” “The Girl From Missouri” and “Personal Property.”

* Pre-recording sessions from “Reckless” at MGM, including Harlow’s unused vocals. (Lombard never fancied herself as much of a singer, but Jean — who admitted that carrying a tune was not one of her strong points — supposedly made Carole sound like Connie Boswell by comparison.)

* Harlow on the radio — her lone appearance on “Lux Radio Theater” (“Madame Sans-Gene” with Robert Taylor) and two “air trailers” from MGM’s syndicated “Leo Is On The Air.”

* Seven 5″ x 7″ studio portraits of Jean from the MGM archives.

Sounds great, right? Makes you want to rush over to your favorite consumer electronics or video chain on Oct. 25 and buy one off the shelves (just as I purchased my Lombard “Glamour Collection” from a Best Buy on April 4, 2006, the day it became available to the public). Well, considering how the DVD market has changed, you may not want to bother.

This is the inaugural box set from Warner Archives, the online sales division of Warner Home Video; heretofore, its issues have been minimal on extras and such. Will the Harlow box eventually become available through retail outlets? Possibly, but since relatively few stores have shelf space for classic video these days, it’s often deemed more trouble than it’s worth.

You can pre-order the Harlow collection for $49.95 through Warner Archives at,default,pd.html?cgid=&src=GGLHMOD&gclid=CKeSmKP06asCFcTe4AodE31TNw. (For now, it only ships to U.S. addresses.)

There are still a few Harlow films that have yet to see the light of day on DVD, notably “The Beast Of The City” and “Red Dust” as well as several of her pre-MGM movies. Regarding “Red Dust,” Lou Lumenick of the New York Post said he was told by Warners officials, “Unfortunately the film elements for that film were in such need of extensive work that it just couldn’t be achieved in time to release this set in honor of Harlow’s 100th year. The hope is to accomplish that sometime in the near future.”

That gives fans of Jean and Clark Gable something to wish for, and buying the Harlow set will encourage, and with hope hasten, its restoration and release. As a fan wrote at the Harlow Yahoo! group, “I do think if you can afford it, buy it and show support, not only for Jean Harlow, but also for more old films.”


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Some things from eBay

Posted by [info]vp19 on 2011.10.14 at 00:54
Current mood: curiouscurious

The recent Carole Lombard blogathon, and a few other things, have prevented us from examining Lombard goodies now available via eBay, so we’ll look at a few today — starting with this vintage picture taken of Carole by Tom Kelley, a noted photographer who came into his own in the 1940s and is best known for his images of Marilyn Monroe (including the famous 1949 “calendar” nudes).

This is a vintage original 11″ x 14″; It has some wear and minor scratches, and is listed in fair condition. If you want it, you’ll pay a pretty penny — 19,999 of them, in fact ($199.99). Think you want to buy it? Then go to×14-PHOTO-Tom-Kelley-BA11-/400249479219?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item5d30ba6033.

Next up, ski-clad Carole and Robert Montgomery, from the final scene of “Mr. & Mrs. Smith.” It’s a modern print, not an original, but if you’re a fan of that movie (and many are), you likely won’t care. The image measures 8.5″ x 11″, and can be bought for $7.99. Interested? Then go to

Finally, Lombard from “They Knew What They Wanted”:

That’s William Gargan with her, in a production still I’d never seen before (but with that unique RKO publicity office typewriter, with its unusual “e” and capital “A” standing for a small “a”). This is an original, 6.75″ square, and you can buy it for $39.99 at

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Looking back: October 1932

Posted by [info]vp19 on 2011.10.13 at 01:30
Current mood: stressedstressed

James Cagney, shown here with Carole Lombard and Bing Crosby, figures prominently in the Lombard saga of October 1932 — again for a loanout Carole didn’t want to make.

The year before, Lombard declined to go to Warners to co-star in “Taxi!” with Cagney — Loretta Young eventually got the part — because she deemed being loaned out was a demotion of sorts, a decision she later regretted ((

Did Carole have something personal against Cagney? From what I know of each, I’d tend to doubt it. No, this time she simply didn’t like what she was being offered — and for such impudence, Paramount suspended her: Here’s what the Reading (Pa.) Eagle ran on Oct. 18:

A day later. Paramount made a 180-degree turn and took Lombard’s side, according to the St. Petersburg (Fla.) Independent:

Even a board of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences took her side, as Film Daily reported on Oct. 20:

And the Oct. 22, 1932 Milwaukee Sentinel not only wrapped up the whole contretemps, but showed who was replacing her on the other side of a Dorothy Lee photo:

Oh, and note that Miriam Hopkins was still projected as Clark Gable’s leading lady for “No Man Of Her Own”…we all know how that turned out.

The film for which Mary Brian filled Lombard’s role was eventually retitled “Hard To Handle,” for my money one of Cagney’s best comedies, with plenty of in-jokes (, and here are Cagney and Brian:

Perhaps the Lombard of a few years later, more assured of her skills in comedy, would have taken the assignment.

One thing Carole learned from the “Taxi!” fiasco was not to automatically reject loanouts. In fact, before October was over, her first loanout — “Virtue,” for Columbia — was beginning to make the rounds of screens. Film Daily reviewed in on Oct. 26, and for the most part liked it:

That same day, Film Daily ran this blurb:

I know next to nothing about “Billion Dollar Scandal,” other than it was a drama that came out in early January 1933, and that Constance Cummings ended up with the female lead opposite Pathe-era Lombard co-star Robert Armstrong (who’d be in a slightly more memorable film a few months later called “King Kong”). The supporting cast included Olga Baclanova and the always reliable Frank Morgan.

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Something Blu(-ray)…actually, ‘Nothing (Sacred)’

Posted by [info]vp19 on 2011.10.12 at 01:00
Current mood: optimisticoptimistic

If Carole Lombard knew what had happened over the years to “Nothing Sacred,” one of her favorite films (and top performances), she probably would want to slug somebody. This David O. Selznick production was released in three-strip Technicolor (the first comedy feature to receive such treatment), but when Selznick sold the rights to this and several other films of his in 1943, they were remastered in the cheaper, less vivid Cinecolor. Later, black and white prints were made for early television showings, and “Nothing Sacred” eventually lapsed into public domain. The film has long been available on video and DVD, but the quality of the prints matched its cheap price, ranging from passable at best to appalling at worst.

But that soon may be changing — and in time for Christmas, too.

This “tenderest, toughest love story ever told” is getting the Blu-ray treatment from Kino Video on Dec. 20. Advance orders are being taken at several sites, including Classic Flix ( According to publicity, “This is the only version of the of the original film authorized for release from the estate of David O. Selznick ”

That may be good news; it may be bad news. For you see, in 1998 Disney restored the film for its European markets, and when that print was shown publicly, it was hailed for bringing its original, brilliant 1937 color back. (Learn more about the painstaking work required to restore “Nothing Sacred,” including a then-new digital technique for one of the reels, at Until its release, no one is certain whether this was the print that was used.

But there is reason for optimism. In a thread about the release at Home Theater Forum (, it’s been noted all recent Kino issues have been of high quality, including “The Battleship Potemkin,” “Metropolis” and several Buster Keaton films.

So keep your fingers crossed that this issue (which apparently will also come in a conventional DVD version) will be something worth smiling about.

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Carole plays the publicist

Posted by [info]vp19 on 2011.10.11 at 01:01
Current mood: amusedamused

Over the years, we’ve run several entries regarding that week in July 1938 when Carole Lombard became the publicist for Selznick International Pictures, about a year after making “Nothing Sacred” at that studio and before she was to begin work on “Made For Each Other.” There’s been a story Lombard gave the Hollywood Reporter about her experiences (, as well as some fan magazine photos of her publicity tenure printed in a fan magazine and scanned my way by Tally Haugen more than six months ago ( from that huge box of Lombard clippings she obtained earlier this year.

We can thank Tally for the new material in today’s entry — “‘Scoop’ Lombard’s One Wild Week,” from the November 1938 Movie Mirror, at the time a sibling of Photoplay. That month’s issue featured Jeanette MacDonald on the cover:

This was written by Kirtley Baskette, a few months before he would get in hot water with Lombard and much of the screenland studio establishment with his controversial Photoplay article, “Hollywood’s Unmarried Husbands And Wives” ( A few clicks will enable you to see each page at full size:

Alas, we’re left hanging because the story jumps to page 71, and it’s either not in the box or Tally hasn’t found it. If any of you have the magazine or win it at auction, please do readers a favor and send it our way. (An earlier comment from someone who was anonymous said Baskette was their father. If that person still reads “Carole & Co.”, perhaps they can furnish the story’s conclusion.)

We learn that Lombard pulled a .45 revolver from her desk and fired four blanks into the air, as well as that Carole had a foot pedal siren and pressed a button to unleash a fire gong. (It’s unfortunate that Lombard and Leslie Nielsen, a noted prankster in his own right, never met.) It’s amazing to see this dynamo at work, and apparently not as a lark; while she had fun doing it, she took the job seriously.

Sunday marked the third marriage of pop legend Paul McCartney, and to salute Sir Paul and his American bride, how about the classic Beatles love song “Things We Said Today,” one of McCartney’s best? (I love the melody, the chord changes, the bridge; I think you will too.) This was the flip side of the single “A Hard Day’s Night” in the UK, but in America it was relegated to a slot on the Beatles’ third Capitol album “Something New,” and thus received comparatively little airplay stateside. Here it is, remastered in 2009 in all its brilliance:

By the way, we’ve added one more entry to the blogathon list that ran Monday — it’s from “Comet Over Hollywood,” and discusses the outdoor self Lombard developed while married to Clark Gable (

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‘Carole-tennial(+3)!’ blogathon: A wrap-up

Posted by [info]vp19 on 2011.10.10 at 05:43
Current mood: happyhappy

“Carole-tennial(+3)!”, the first Carole Lombard blogathon, has come to a close, and applause is warranted to all of you who participated — including those whose entries came on the final day:

* John at “Pretty Sinister Books” details perhaps Lombard’s most atypical film, her 1933 foray into the occult, “Supernatural,” which he labels “an unusual blend of science fiction, ghost story and crime film”:

* In the blog “Awakenings, Inspirations And Illuminations,” fellow LiveJournal user sunny limoncello looks into Carole’s sometimes overlooked work on radio:

* “The Girl With The White Parasol” takes a look at Lombard’s 1936 genre-blender, “The Princess Comes Across”:

* And some blog called “Carole & Co.” stopped by with something on the absurd concept of Carole and James Stewart getting married (yeah, right):

In conclusion, here are all the earlier entries, complete with links:

* “In The Mood” examines Carole’s portrayal of Irene Bullock in “My Man Godfrey”:

* Rianna, blogmeister of “Frankly My Dear,” tells her five favorite things about Lombard:

* Craig at “Blame Mame” gives the “411” on Carole:

* “A Person In The Dark” reviews “Twentieth Century,” specifically how Carole supplied the spice to complement the (very delicious) ham provided by John Barrymore:

* The blog “A Mythical Monkey Writes About The Movies” looks at Lombard’s silent-era career, or what’s left of it to look at:

* “Defiant Success” saw “My Man Godfrey” for the first time, and liked what it saw:

* “Godfrey” is also the topic of Jacqueline Lynch’s fine “Another Old Movie Blog,” and features several rare stills from the film:

* Page at “My Love For Old Hollywood” discusses her love of Lombard:

* Dawn at the lively “Noir And Chick Flicks” tells us her favorite Lombard films:

* Monty at “All Good Things” celebrates Lombard’s birthday with some comments and some pictures:

* “The Hollywood Revue” reviews “In Name Only”:

* The site “Garbo Laughs” has a charming 12-photo “glam spam” of Lombard:

* “An Elegant Obsession” examines Lombard as a fashion icon:

* “True Classics” looks at “Virtue,” perhaps Lombard’s best performance before “Twentieth Century”:

* John Greco’s fine “Twenty-Four Frames” dispels a fw myths about “Mr. & Mrs. Smith”:

* A nice tribute, complete with some clips, from the blog “Fredrik On Film”:

* Ivan G. Shreve Jr. of the phenomenal site “Thrilling Days Of Yesterday” does a splendid examination of “Virtue,” the Lombard movie that comes closest to what we’ve come to expect from pre-Code:

* “Laura’s Miscellaneous Musings” fills us in on a mansion in Redlands, Calif., known as Kimberly Crest that Jane Alice Peters (a relative of the Kimberly family) visited several times in her youth, with photographic proof:

* Meredith at “Forever Classics” does an entry on “No Man Of Her Own,” the lone film Lombard made with future second husband Clark Gable:

* One of the most famous lines of “Twentieth Century” came when Lombard’s Lily Garland (nee Mildred Plotka) says, in a rare moment of candor, “We’re not people, we’re lithographs.” It’s no wonder, then that “Lithographs” is the title of an entry about this pivotal film in Carole’s career from “Shadowplay,” which describes itself as “the willfully eccentric film blog”:

* Kevyn Knox at “The Most Beautiful Fraud In The World” (a role Lombard played in several of her films!) has some random thoughts on Carole:

* The Lady Eve’s blog “Reel Life” provides some thoughtful insights into the creation of “To Be Or Not To Be,” Lombard’s classic film finale:

* And in at the wire is an entry from “Comet Over Hollywood,” describing the outdoorsy Carole: (A few days before the blogathon began, the author experimented with a Lombard hairstyle from the early ’30s. See how it looks on her at

We have a total of 27 entries, and thanks to everyone for participating. It was a thrill. Now to take a break; overseeing a blogathon is exhausting.

This week’s header shows Lombard and Robert Montgomery on the set of “Mr. & Mrs. Smith,” looking over something (the script? scrapbook pictures?).

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‘Carole-tennial(+3)!’ blogathon: After day 3

Posted by [info]vp19 on 2011.10.09 at 02:02
Current mood: refreshedrefreshed

We are in the homestretch of “Carole-tennial(+3)!”, the four-day blogathon honoring the 103rd anniversary of Carole Lombard’s birth this past Thursday. Several more entries were presented to us Saturday, and here’s the lowdown:

* Ivan G. Shreve Jr. of the phenomenal site “Thrilling Days Of Yesterday” (his blogroll is in itself worth the price of admission) does a splendid examination of the Lombard movie that comes closest to what we’ve come to expect from pre-Code — “Virtue,” for Columbia in 1932. Some nice screengrabs from the film, too:

* “Laura’s Miscellaneous Musings,” another dynamic, comprehensive site, fills us in on a mansion in Redlands, Calif., known as Kimberly Crest that Jane Alice Peters (a relative of the Kimberly family) visited several times in her youth. What’s more, Laura has photographic proof of this little-known facet of her childhood:

* Meredith at “Forever Classics” does an entry on “No Man Of Her Own,” the lone film Lombard made with future second husband Clark Gable:

* One of the most famous lines of “Twentieth Century” came when Lombard’s Lily Garland (nee Mildred Plotka) says, in a rare moment of candor, “We’re not people, we’re lithographs.” It’s no wonder, then that “Lithographs” is the title of an entry about this pivotal film in Carole’s career from “Shadowplay,” which describes itself as “the willfully eccentric film blog”:

* Kevyn Knox at “The Most Beautiful Fraud In The World” (a role Lombard played in several of her films!) has some random thoughts on Carole:

* Finally, the Lady Eve’s blog “Reel Life” provides some thoughtful insights into the creation of “To Be Or Not To Be,” Lombard’s classic film finale:

We now have 22 entries, and have been promised at least one more for Sunday. There’s still time for you to get involved (and I hope you will — every one of these entries has been done with love for Lombard and the movies she made). Just let me know what you’ve done (and provide a link, of course) so I can announce it to the world in our concluding entry.

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carole lombard color 00

‘Carole-tennial(+3)!’: In this universe, they’re made for each other

Posted by [info]vp19 on 2011.10.09 at 11:05
Current mood: mischievousmischievous

Over the past few days, I’ve felt a bit hypocritical regarding “Carole-tennial(+3)”, the Carole Lombard blogathon I’ve sponsored and hosted. Why? Because while we’ve received more than 20 entries so far (and hope to get several more), my own contributions have been limited to compiling what other people have written. Overseeing the blogathon is important in and of itself, but what good is hosting a party if you’re not going to provide a gift for it?

Thankfully, Tally Haugen and her colossal box of Carole clippings have come to the rescue.

More than four years ago, “Carole & Co.” did an entry about an “imaginary story” in the February 1939 issue of Movie Mirror that detailed Lombard’s “marriage” to James Stewart, co-star of her latest movie, “Made For Each Other” (

At the time, the concept — and the cover — was amusing, but that’s all we had to work with. But whomever organized the box Tally acquired had cut out the story; now, more than 72 years later, Lombard and Stewart fans can immerse themselves in this weird alternate universe. (Double-click to see it at full size.)

Before entering the story, from the (very) fertile imagination of Ida Zeitlin, the editor offers this caveat:

“Carole Lombard and Jimmy Stewart are not married. They are not engaged. They are not in love with each other. For all we know to the contrary, they’ve never gone so far as the corner drugstore together for an ice cream soda. This story is purely imaginary, written in a spirit of lightheartedness, with prejudice to none, with good will to all, for the entertainment of our readers and — we hope — of Miss Lombard and Mr. Stewart as well. So we draw our imaginary curtain.”

Whew; some readers not quite in touch with reality might construe this tale as fact. Or imagine the lawsuit that could develop if Clark Gable, Lombard’s soon husband-to-be, were accidentally bumped on the head, lost part of his memory, read this piece and proceeded to give Stewart a severe beating for robbing him of his girl…

Anyway, the story (featuring Carole’s longtime buddy Fieldsie and her husband, director Walter Lang in supporting roles), is charming. Lombard — whose speech style Zeitlin captures beautifully — tells her ersatz hubby, “You know you’re just as crazy as I am, Jimmy, only quieter about it.”

The story apparently ends in a zoo, where animal lover Carole is certain a tiger is asking the couple to adopt it. (Perhaps it knows that Stewart is a Princeton grad, and thus would have an inherent fondness for tigers.) The tale possibly goes on to another page; it ends on a complete paragraph, so we don’t know one way or the other.

I’ve never heard about any reaction to this “what if” from either Carole or James, but I’m guessing both were amused by the very concept. They had good acting chemistry, as “Made For Each Other” and several radio performances made clear, but good domestic chemistry is something else altogether.

‘Carole-tennial(+3)!’ blogathon: After day 2

Posted by [info]vp19 on 2011.10.08 at 01:11
Current mood: pleasedpleased

The second day of “Carole-tennial(+3)!”, the first Carole Lombard blogathon, had not as many entries as on Thursday’s opening day (and the 103rd anniversary of Lombard’s birth). but we do have a few more to announce:

* The site “Garbo Laughs” has a charming 12-photo “glam spam” of Lombard: Moreover, the entry is described this way: “This is an official entry in Carole & Co.’s Carole-tennial(+3) Blogathon, celebrating what would have been Carole Lombard’s 103rd birthday (October 6th). This prestigious event, hosted by the premiere Carole Lombard blog, runs from October 6th (yesterday) through October 9th (Sunday). Come check out a plethora of quality entries dedicated to the Queen of Screwball Comedy, and maybe even contribute one yourself!” If a blog could blush, this one would.

* “An Elegant Obsession,” which describes me as “lovely” (huh?), examines Lombard as a fashion icon — which she certainly was, even though she’s been quoted as saying, “I want to live, not pose!” Well, Carole’s lithe figure and sense of style turned posing into living, as any photographer who did a photo shoot with her would have vouched. Find the entry at

* “True Classics” looks at “Virtue,” perhaps Lombard’s best performance before “Twentieth Century”:

* John Greco’s fine “Twenty-Four Frames” looks at “Mr. & Mrs. Smith” and dispels a few myths about this Hitchcock stab at a screwball comedy:

* Finally, an “honorary” entry to something I just came across — a nice tribute, complete with some clips, from the blog “Fredrik On Film”:

This brings the total of entries (including the last one above) to 16, and as stated in yesterday’s entry, I may have missed some along the way. If that’s the case, or you want to contribute a last-minute entry over the weekend (the blogathon’s final day is Sunday), go for it. Again, thanks to everyone who has entered, or will enter.

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‘Carole-tennial(+3)!’ blogathon: After day 1

Posted by [info]vp19 on 2011.10.07 at 01:05
Current mood: touchedtouched

We’ve just concluded the first day of the Carole Lombard blogathon, and despite some problems with LiveJournal (of all days for it to happen!), we’ve been notified of several entries. Here’s what we know of so far:

* “In The Mood” examines Carole’s portrayal of Irene Bullock in “My Man Godfrey”: (P.S. Congratulations to “In The Mood” for becoming the latest member of the LAMB flock.)

* Rianna, blogmeister of “Frankly My Dear,” explains her five favorite things about Lombard:

* Craig at “Blame Mame” gives the “411” on Carole:

* “A Person In The Dark” reviews “Twentieth Century,” specifically how Carole provided the spice to complement the (very delicious) ham provided by John Barrymore:

* The blog “A Mythical Monkey Writes About The Movies,” which has a special interest in the silent era, looks at Lombard’s pre-sound career, or what’s left of it to look at:

* “Defiant Success” saw “My Man Godfrey” for the first time, and liked what it saw:

* “Godfrey” is also the topic of Jacqueline Lynch’s fine “Another Old Movie Blog,” and features several rare stills from the film:

* Page at “My Love For Old Hollywood” discusses her love of Lombard:

* Dawn at the lively “Noir And Chick Flicks” tells us her favorite Lombard films:

* Monty at “All Good Things” celebrates Lombard’s birthday with some comments and some pictures:

* Technically, “The Hollywood Revue’s” review of “In Name Only” is a day 2 entry since it came after midnight (Eastern). So what? Take a look:

That’s 11 entries I know of; if I missed any, or you have new ones, respond at this entry.

To those who have contributed, thank you so much; to those who will contribute over the next few days, I await your entries; to those who want to join in at the last minute, the more the merrier. Don’t be a wallflower.

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A 103rd special: Choose Carole’s top photographer

Posted by [info]vp19 on 2011.10.06 at 08:28
Current mood: happyhappy

Today marks the 103rd anniversary of Carole Lombard’s birth, and also the beginning of the four-day “Carole-tennial(+3)!” blogathon that will run through Sunday. I thought I’d try something a bit different to commemorate the occasion, with hopes you’ll get involved.

The photo above is a candid, taken of Carole in 1935 by a fan visiting Los Angeles. The photographer’s identity has been lost to time, but many noted practitioners of the picture-taking craft have tried their hand at creating still images of Lombard. Who was the best? Let’s find out.

We’ve chosen 10 of the era’s notable Hollywood portrait photographers, selected three Carole images from each, and ask you to choose your favorite. One important ground rule: Your decision here is based solely on photos they’ve taken of Lombard (not just the ones shown here, but others as well), not of anyone else.

With that out of the way, here are the candidates, in alphabetical order.

Ernest A. Bachrach:

Clarence Sinclair Bull:

Robert Coburn:

Otto Dyar:

Edwin Bower Hesser:

George Hurrell:

Eugene Robert Richee:

William E. Thomas:

William Walling:

Scotty Welbourne:

A happy 103rd to Carole Lombard, and thanks to all of you who keep her memory shining bright.

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Brother, can you spare $150 million?

Posted by [info]vp19 on 2011.10.05 at 01:47
Current mood: nostalgicnostalgic

Because if you can, I may be able to purchase the very site where Carole Lombard is shown with the toddler playing her son in “Made For Each Other.”

We’re referring to the historic Culver Studios on Washington Boulevard in Culver City, whose owners the past seven years have decided to sell the property. (One of the owners involved in the 2004 purchase was Lehman Brothers — remember them? — which may explain why it’s up for sale.)

Lombard spent plenty of time at the Culver Studios over the years, when it had different names. In the late 1920s, it was the home of Pathe Pictures, where Carole worked on silents, part-talkies and finally full talkies such as “Big News”:

Some years later, a full-fledged star, she went back to the place for “Nothing Sacred” (below) and “Made For Each Other”:

By then, the place was known as Selznick International Studios, and many mistook its distinctive front for Tara (much of “Gone With The Wind” was filmed at Culver). Actually, it was designed by founder Thomas Ince as a replica of George Washington’s famed Mount Vernon; here it is in 1920, two years after its opening:

After Ince’s sudden death in 1924, Cecil B. De Mille took over the site, selling it to Joseph P. Kennedy’s Pathe films in 1928. Pathe was soon assimilated into RKO, which used Culver as its prime site for several years before moving most of its operations to Hollywood, near Paramount. Later owners included Howard Hughes, Desilu Productions and TV executive Grant Tinker. Much of “Citizen Kane” was shot at Culver, as it enabled Orson Welles some autonomy from RKO honchos in Hollywood.

For more about this fabled studio, which remains home to plenty of film and TV work, go to And who knows — perhaps Carole’s spirit is somewhere on the lot, either acting or helping out with publicity, as she did for one memorable week in 1938:

The story on the sale, and a slide show, is at

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Carole 4, Janet 3

Posted by [info]vp19 on 2011.10.04 at 00:07
Current mood: cheerfulcheerful

Carole Lombard was known for her generosity, so chances are she wouldn’t mind sharing birthday honors with Janet Gaynor during the day Thursday on Turner Classic Movies in the U.S. (They apparently knew and liked each other, and in Lombard’s noted 1938 Hollywood Reporter article about spending a week as a publicist for Selznick International Pictures, she compliments Gaynor.) Four of Carole’s films are scheduled, followed by three of Janet’s. Here’s the schedule for each (all times Eastern):

* 7:30 a.m. — “Swing High, Swing Low” (1937). This is the only film of the four not to be shown on TCM for Lombard’s “Summer Under The Stars” marathon on Aug. 28, not because it isn’t a good film — it’s not quite a classic, but a lot of fun, directed by Mitchell Leisen (also an Oct. 6 baby) — but because it simply doesn’t look very good. No complete 35mm print of the film survives, so segments of it are taken from Leisen’s own 16mm print ( You get to hear Carole sing without dubbing in this movie, Paramount’s top money-maker for all of ’37.

* 9 a.m. — “In Name Only” (1939). Carole teams with Cary Grant (their only co-starring performance) and Kay Francis in this love triangle, child star Peggy Ann Garner’s film debut.

* 11 a.m. — “Mr. & Mrs. Smith” (1941). Some view this as a poor man’s “The Awful Truth”: others wonder why Alfred Hitchcock directed this romantic comedy (as a favor to Carole, whom he liked). But it’s gradually become appreciated as a charming late-period screwball, with Lombard looking as alluring as ever as the wife of Robert Montgomery who suddenly isn’t his wife anymore.

* 1 p.m. — “To Be Or Not To Be” (1942). Carole’s final performance is a solid one, teaming up with Jack Benny in this Ernst Lubitsch sendup of the Nazis after their invasion of Poland. One of the best black comedies ever made.

Then, its Gaynor’s turn:

* 2:45 p.m. — “Three Loves Has Nancy” (1938). This has two things in common with “Mr. & Mrs. Smith” — Montgomery as the male lead (along with Franchot Tone) and a Norman Krasna script. It’s a cute romantic comedy, as southern belle Janet causes all sorts of havoc in the big city for writer Bob.

* 4 p.m. — “A Star Is Born” (1937). This early Technicolor Hollywood tale is usually overshadowed by the Judy Garland version from 1954, but is a solid film in its own right, with Janet’s star rising and Fredric March’s star falling. Lombard’s name is mentioned in the movie, right after Jean Harlow’s.

* 6 p.m. — “Small Town Girl” (1936). Like “A Star Is Born,” this was directed by William Wellman, but its plot sounds somewhat similar to the Lombard film “Brief Moment,” as titular character Gaynor marries a drunken playboy (Robert Taylor) and tries to keep him sober. The supporting cast includes Andy Devine, Lewis Stone and a young James Stewart.

It’s a splendid way to honor the birthdays of a pair of Hollywood’s acting legends.

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One more banned by Breen

Posted by [info]vp19 on 2011.10.03 at 01:23
Current mood: hornyhorny

In December 2007, “Carole & Co.” did an entry about what might well be the sexiest publicity still Carole Lombard ever did (, made with John Barrymore for Columbia’s “Twentieth Century.” For those of you who don’t remember it, it looked like this:

It didn’t receive much attention at the time, despite all that Lombard leg (and a hint of nipple, if you look closely), because it was suppressed by the Motion Picture Advertising Advisory Council, headed by Joseph Breen.

As it turns out, that sexy image has a sibling, taken at the same session:

Even better, on the back, there’s a snipe…

…and a stamp, testifying to its banning by Breen in March 1934, a little more than three months before the strict Production Code enforcement he championed for the industry went into effect:

This 8″ x 10″ rarity is being auctioned at eBay; the opening bid is $99.99 and bidding ends at 9:25 p.m. (Eastern) next Sunday. If you’d like to check this out for yourself and perhaps make a bid, go to

This week’s header commemorates Carole’s upcoming 103rd birth anniversary with a cake for her and second husband Clark Gable. (OK, so this was actually taken at the MGM commissary for their wedding anniversary, if you want to be technical.)

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Carole and Clark, horsing around

Posted by [info]vp19 on 2011.10.02 at 16:30
Current mood: relaxedrelaxed

It’s been said mutual interests bolster a relationship, and one of the many things that bonded Carole Lombard and Clark Gable was their fondness for horses. Over the years, we’ve run a number of equine-related photos of Lombard and Gable, and here are two more (both up for auction at eBay):

It’s Feb. 26, 1938, and Clark and Carole are at Santa Anita in Arcadia to watch the Santa Anita Derby, an important race on the West Coast thoroughbred schedule. The race was won by Stagehand, trained by the legendary Earl Sande; a week later, Stagehand defeated Seabiscuit in the Santa Anita Handicap to become the only horse to win both major races in the same year.

Gable and Lombard were semi-regulars at Santa Anita; in 1940, they watched the 7-year-old Seabiscuit win the Handicap. But their interest in horses went beyond the racetrack. For proof, here they are in June 1938, at a horse show in the San Fernando Valley, and the snipe indicates some of their filmland cohorts were there, too:

This was likely taken the same day as a pic we’ve run before, because their outfits are identical:

As stated earlier, the pictures with snipes — testimony to their original status — are being auctioned. Bids on each begin at $19.99, bidding closes Saturday, just after 6:15 p.m. (Eastern) on Saturday. For the Santa Anita photo, go to; for the horse show pic, see

All this equine talk brought a song back to my mind, because its lyrics contain the phrase “just sit and play the horses.” It’s “Easy Street” by Julie London, one of the highlights from her first album, “Julie Is Her Name” in December 1955 (featuring the hit single “Cry Me A River”). Two of the great jazz session men — Barney Kessel on guitar, Ray Leatherwood on bass — provide an intimate background that wonderfully complemented London’s voice. Great stuff.

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Carole-tennial(+3) nears — here’s the procedure

Posted by [info]vp19 on 2011.10.01 at 00:44
Current mood: optimisticoptimistic

October is finally here, which this year means not only is the 103rd anniversary of Carole Lombard’s birth on the horizon (Oct. 6, as many of you probably know), but so is “Carole-tennial(+3)!”, the first-ever Lombard blogathon, scheduled to run from Oct. 6 to 9. (We did this so participants who are pressed for time during the week can sit down and compose an entry over the weekend.)

Here’s how we’ll do it: Once you have an entry done and up on your board, respond at this entry, please give the title and a brief summary of what it’s all about, and most importantly, provide a link. If you’d promised an entry for a particular day and have to change for some reason, no problem. Each day during the blogathon, I’ll summarize what’s been received.

If earlier pledges to enter hold up, we should have close to two dozen entries on Lombard, her life and times. I’m looking forward to it, and so I’m sure are you.

And so, somewhere, is Carole, even though she may be reluctant to publicly admit it…


The top photo was taken by Preston Duncan to promote Lombard’s final Pathe film, “The Racketeer.” Some 82 years later, we’re using it to promote “Carole-tennial(+3)!”

If you’d like to learn more, go to and

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Posted January 5, 2012 by vp19 in Uncategorized

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