Motion Picture, May 1929: A Teddy-Made Actress   Leave a comment

Posted by vp19 on 2012.12.18 at 00:01

Current mood: optimisticoptimistic

carole lombard william e. thomas 09b

It’s spring 1929, and we encounter a Carole Lombard in transition (so much so that she’s now “Carol” Lombard, minus the “e”). Her work as part of Mack Sennett’s gag troupe is in the past tense, as she moves from mirth to drama in this new terrain called talking pictures. Lombard’s beginning to move up in the movie world, so much so that not only is she a full-time player at Pathe, but she’s been loaned to Cecil B. De Mille, who just signed at MGM, for a key role in his latest epic. Heady times for a 20-year-old whose film career seemed uncertain at the start of 1927.

The optimism surrounding Lombard was obvious from the coverage she received in Motion Picture about this time. We’ve previously noted the items in this entry (, but now thanks to much of the magazine’s archive becoming available online, we can run these features more completely.

The May 1929 issue ran a story on Lombard’s shift from leggy laugh-getter to dramatic prospect in “A Teddy-Made Actress” (a teddy was a garment worn under the shorter dresses which came into fashion in the 1920s).

carole lombard motion picture may 1929 a teddy-made actress 00a
carole lombard motion picture may 1929 a teddy-made actress 01a
carole lombard motion picture may 1929 a teddy-made actress 02a
carole lombard motion picture may 1929 a teddy-made actress 03a

We learn some intriguing things in this article, written by Cedric Belfrage:

* Lombard was initially awed by De Mille, but gradually became more comfortable with him. “He’s going to be great to work for,” she said. Little did she know that days after shooting on “Dynamite” began, it became apparent to the director that she simply wasn’t ready for the role, and she was released from the production.

* She apparently wasn’t happy with her work in the 1928 Pathe part-talkie “Show Folks,” which Belfrage called “one of the most notably miscast pictures of the year.”

* One day, Lombard went over to the Pathe soundstage where Erich von Stroheim’s “Queen Kelly” was being shot (could this have marked the start of her friendship with Gloria Swanson?), and von Stroheim, who had no idea who she was, “offered to give me a few days’ work as an East African tart.”

* Her Alaskan Malamute was named Basco — and standing on his hind legs, he was nearly as tall as Lombard. (Also note the canine “talkie” pun in the caption.)

A nice snapshot of Lombard as she turned the corner from comedy to drama, not knowing that by year’s end, she would be out of a job at Pathe through no fault of her own.

Motion Picture ran some other Lombard-related stuff that spring. In March, the magazine noted she was leaving comedy for drama in a one-page spread. Unfortunately, a head shot of Carol was clipped out of the bound copy — but we do have a smaller version of the page, combined with the bottom half of the larger version:

carole lombard motion picture march 1929 largest
carole lombard motion picture march 1929 larger bottom

The April issue showed Lombard in a seductive William E. Thomas pose as part of a two-page gossip column:

carole lombard motion picture april 1929a large
carole lombard motion picture april 1929b large

Finally, I’ve been told that many of you haven’t been able to access the LiveJournal “Carole & Co.” for more than a month. I’m trying to solve that problem, but in the meantime, tell your friends they can read the site (and catch up on past entries) by going to our backup location,

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Posted December 18, 2012 by vp19 in Uncategorized

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