Posted by vp19 on 2012.08.01 at 00:01
Current mood: sympathetic
The portraits of Carole Lombard (seen above in Paramount p1202-1070) and other stars of classic Hollywood proved so popular that New York photographer Irving Klaw made a discovery at the movie bookstore he owned.
“He noticed that kids were tearing out the pictures of the movie stars, so he decided to sell their pictures rather than the books,” said Ira Kramer, Klaw’s nephew. So in 1939, Klaw did something largely unheard of at the time — he contacted the New York offices of the Hollywood studios and arranged to obtain original publicity prints, negatives…any surplus they had.
And Movie Star News was born. It died in July at age 73, as Kramer decided to close up shop, a victim of changing technology. “Today, if you want a picture of a star you can go on the computer and download it,” he commented. “So what do you need me for?”
Over the years, it developed a devoted clientele of fans, from New York schoolgirls wanting pics of their favorites to servicemen seeking the latest pinup (the store did a considerable mail-order business). Not only did Klaw sell photos of film stars, but of risque models, notably a lady he regularly photographed named Bettie Page. The store even sold its own catalogs, featuring cover girls such as Vera-Ellen and Marilyn Monroe:
The store had several locations in the Chelsea section of Manhattan, most recently on West 18th Street:
I visited the store several times, and purchased a few Lombard portraits, none of them originals. The atmosphere was lively, the employees knowledgeable.
But there is a happy ending, or will be, for memorabilia collectors. Entertainment Collectibles of Las Vegas has purchased its entire inventory of film stills, negatives and posters — nearly 3 million items in all — for a multi-million dollar price. Early next year, the collection gradually will be sold off by Guernsey’s auction house.
Guernsey’s president Arlan Ettinger (shown above) said he plans to group photos of each of the 5,000 film stars in their own lots — and one would think Lombard would be included. How many photos of her might there be in the Movie Star News collection? Hard to say. For comparison’s sake, Ettinger said there are 680 originals of Betty Grable, and about 750 from the early career of Monroe, Grable’s “How To Marry A Millionaire” co-star.
According to Entertainment Collectibles co-owner Stuart Scheinman, there are 1,000 photos of Gary Cooper and 400 of Bette Davis. He added, “This could literally take five to 10 years to go through it all.” So one would think Carole’s items run at least into triple digits.
For more on the demise of this famed store and what will happen to its equally famous collection, visit http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/movie-star-news-pin-up-collection-auctioned-famed-store-closes-article-1.1125052#ixzz22GFl5a1w and http://www.wtop.com/541/2969007/NYC-movie-pin-up-collection-slated-for-auction. (And you can still buy online from the store, at http://www.moviestarnews.com/; search for Lombard and you will find some photos and replica posters available for purchase.)
If you don’t see entries at “Carole & Co.” over the next few days, please don’t panic; I’m taking another vacation and expect to return by the weekend. In the meantime, either peruse our archive of more than 2,000 entries or, better yet, contribute something yourself pertaining to Lombard, her life and times, and people she knew and worked with.