Archive for February 2013

That ‘society deb’ was right under our noses   Leave a comment

Posted by vp19 on 2013.02.28 at 01:28
Current mood: embarrassedembarrassed

carole lombard 1931 fan magazine page larger

Ever search for something and eventually find it was within your grasp all along? That’s what’s happened here.

The other day, I wrote an entry about finding the conclusion of a story entitled “Is Carole Lombard Really A Society Deb?” There were no tell-tale signs to show what magazine it was from, although I guessed from some of the film references in the close of an adjacent Greta Garbo article that the piece ran in late 1931.

Well, I was close — the issue in question turned out to be from January 1932. But the magazine, which I couldn’t discern, was one that I had access to for some time without realizing it...Motion Picture, from which we’ve recently run several Lombard-related articles.

So without further ado (to spare further embarrassment), here is the entirety of “Is Carole Lombard Really A Society Deb?”

carole lombard motion picture jan 1932 society deb 00a
carole lombard motion picture jan 1932 society deb 01a
carole lombard motion picture jan 1932 society deb 02a

This is a rather unusual article (its author, Elisabeth Goldbeck, wrote at least two other Lombard-related pieces for fan magazines of the early ’30s) in that it makes some statements that don’t make sense or at least defy logic.

jean harlow 1930a badminton huntington hotel pasadena

For one thing, she claims that Jean Harlow, shown in 1930 playing badminton at the Huntington Hotel in Pasadena (and if that doesn’t connote “society,” I don’t know what does), was part of the first wave of society types to crash the film industry, and that Lombard was part of the second — even though Carole had been in movies for several years before Jean ever appeared in front of a movie camera.

For another, Goldbeck states that Lombard attended the exclusive Marlborough School (“the most fashionable on the Pacific Coast”). Not likely — most of Carole’s education came from public schools, and this institution has never been associated with her. (Yet one more reason that while fan magazines can be informative, much of what they write must be taken with several grains of salt.)

Even sillier is Goldbeck’s claim that at age 18, Lombard was preparing for her “debut.” Carole turned 18 on Oct. 6, 1926, when she still was recuperating from an automobile accident that caused significant damage to her face (and that meant doom for any film actress). Lombard’s brief period as a Fox starlet in 1925 is ignored.

Carole heads the article as the group’s most recognizable name, but most of it discusses Adrienne Ames and others from “smart set” backgrounds who decided to give acting a try. (Ames, a Paramount stablemate of Carole’s, grew up in the middle class in Texas, but married into New York wealth.)

Lombard may have had a family background that had “society” written all over it, but she gained fame for playing heiresses (as in “No More Orchids,” below) rather than being one.

carole lombard no more orchids 06c walter connolly lyle talbot

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Posted February 28, 2013 by vp19 in Uncategorized

‘Dressing’ in St. Louis   Leave a comment

Posted by vp19 on 2013.02.27 at 02:07
Current mood: nostalgicnostalgic

carole lombard we're not dressing 06a

Throughout the spring and early summer of 1934, theater audiences flocked to see Carole Lombard and Bing Crosby in “We’re Not Dressing” — though one guesses more came to hear Bing sing the likes of “May I” and “Love Thy Neighbor” than to watch Carole play the haughty heiress who Crosby (lovingly) cuts down to size in this musical spin on “The Admirable Crichton.”

Now, movie memorabilia buffs can purchase a souvenir related to this film, and others of the time, in a brochure distributed by the Florissant, the largest neighborhood house in St. Louis:

carole lombard we're not dressing st. louis 00b

We note that “We’re Not Dressing” played the Florissant from Thursday, June 21 to Saturday, June 23, backed with the Frank Buck travelogue “Wild Cargo” and a Paramount newsreel. What played earlier in the week? We turn to the other side to find out:

carole lombard we're not dressing st. louis 01a

Nothing particularly well-remembered nearly 80 years later, although I never knew Gloria Stuart made a film with Lee Tracy (whose career was in eclipse following an alleged incident while in Mexico shooting “Viva Villa” the previous November).

Easily accessible by streetcar, the Florissant seated slightly more than 1,000, nearly half in the balcony. (One guesses in those days, the balcony was for black customers, as St. Louis was then largely segregated.) The theater also promoted itself over legendary radio station KMOX.

What did it look like? The only photo I can find showed it during a rather inconvenient moment, after a water main break in late 1931:

florissant theater st. louis 1931

Wheeler and Woolsey’s “Peach-O-Reno” was on the marquee.

The Florissant was renamed the Tower in 1946 (it was near a water tower) and tried to attract teen audiences in the 1960s with a battle of the bands on Friday night. But suburbanization spelled doom for “nabes” such as this, and it closed in June 1969. The building was demolished three years later, then served as a site for a Jack-In-The-Box and a Dairy Queen until they too were razed. At last report, the lot is now vacant.

Aside from mounting remnants near the edges of the “We’re Not Dressing” ad, the brochure is in good condition. If you have a relative who’s from St. Louis, he or she might enjoy this souvenir of how the city used to be.

Bidding begins at $9.99, with bids closing at 10:57 a.m. (Eastern) next Tuesday. Interested? Then go to

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Posted February 27, 2013 by vp19 in Uncategorized

Motion Picture, December 1931: Why she married Bill Powell   Leave a comment

Posted by vp19 on 2013.02.26 at 00:54
Current mood: curiouscurious

carole lombard william powell 10a elmer fryer 1931

The “she” being Carole Lombard, of course, shown with her new husband in a photo taken by Elmer Fryer of Warners (where Powell had just landed after some time at Paramount). Gladys Hall, who over the years would write several notable accounts of Lombard for fan magazines, discussed the new couple — still in the throes of romance a few months after their wedding — in the December 1931 issue of Motion Picture.

carole lombard motion picture december 1931 why i married bill powell 01a
carole lombard motion picture december 1931 why i married bill powell 02a

Hall describes how and why Lombard fell for Powell. She had been a fan of his on-screen work before they met, and once they did, Carole was swept off her feet by his intelligence. And his debonair treatment of her was a marked contrast to the type of men she had to put up with in her first few years of the industry…men whose actions led to Lombard developing her famed blue tongue as a defense mechanism. (Incidentally, Hall refers to Carole as having gray eyes, then later compares them to sapphires Powell gave her as a wedding present.)

Lombard goes on to say that Powell’s conscientiousness makes her “divinely happy. I didn’t know there could be such happiness as I am having now. I’ll never forget it, not one instant of it, so long as I live on this earth.” Famous last words, as it turned out — but after a few months of marriage, don’t most spouses have this cockeyed optimism?

Finally, you must see the full-page photograph that ran opposite the lead page of this story…featuring Powell in a rather atypical setting:

carole lombard motion picture december 1931 why i married bill powell 00a

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Posted February 26, 2013 by vp19 in Uncategorized

Motion Picture, June 1933: A precarious time for Hollywood   Leave a comment

Posted by vp19 on 2013.02.25 at 00:41
Current mood: uncomfortableuncomfortable

carole lombard supernatural 17a

At the time Carole Lombard and Randolph Scott were taking part in the psychic hokum called “Supernatural,” plenty was happening on the Paramount lot — and beyond. However, you’d never guess it from this picture:

carole lombard motion picture june 1933 quiz 00 closeup

Carole’s near the center of the group; if you have trouble spotting her, here she is:

carole lombard motion picture june 1933 quiz 00 inset

What’s the context, you ask? Well, the photo ran in the June 1933 issue of Motion Picture magazine as part of this page:

carole lombard motion picture june 1933 quiz 00a

So who’s with Lombard, and what is this photo all about? We’ll supply you that solution separately, then give you the rest of the answer page:

carole lombard motion picture june 1933 quiz 01a closeup
carole lombard motion picture june 1933 quiz 01a

Yes, the spring of 1933 wasn’t the happiest of times for the film industry, what with pay cuts, studios in bankruptcy and the like. Even a bank holiday affected Hollywood in those days before credit cards and ATMs, as another story in that issue explains:

carole lombard motion picture june 1933 bank holiday 00a
carole lombard motion picture june 1933 bank holiday 01a
carole lombard motion picture june 1933 bank holiday 02a

“Joan Blondell had some cash in the old feminine national bank,” at a branch where many a man probably wished he had an account.

Lombard was in the story, too:

carole lombard motion picture june 1933 bank holiday 01a closeup
carole lombard motion picture june 1933 bank holiday 00a closeup

I’m guessing that’s the magazine’s rendering of Lombard scrip and not an actual photograph of it.

The other day, we ran an entry on a fan magazine story with an ending, but where the beginning had yet to be found. We have a similar situation here, in an article entitled “These Stars Changed Their Faces — And So Can You!” The lead of the item apparently concerns Carole’s recent change in the appearance of her eyebrows…but alas, we are missing the first page of the story (it was nearly completely ripped from the bound copy). As a result, here’s where it starts:

carole lombard motion picture june 1933 changed looks 01a
carole lombard motion picture june 1933 changed looks 02a
carole lombard motion picture june 1933 changed looks 03a

To “the Satanic line”…one of the few devilish things about Carole.

Part of another page, on Hollywood fashions, was also removed, but I believe all the Lombard-related material remains intact:

carole lombard motion picture june 1933 fashion tips 02a
carole lombard motion picture june 1933 fashion tips 03a

Finally, Carole’s featured in a Max Factor ad, along with several others from the Paramount stable:

carole lombard motion picture june 1933 max factor ad 00a

We’ll have more from this issue in the near future.

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Posted February 25, 2013 by vp19 in Uncategorized

Everyday she writes the book   Leave a comment

Posted by vp19 on 2013.02.24 at 18:25
Current mood: optimisticoptimistic

carole lombard screen book april 1936 ab

Carole Lombard served as “guest editor” of the April 1936 issue of Screen Book, getting a supportive telegram from friend and former guest editor Ginger Rogers. Lombard even supplied a guest column, giving supportive (but frank) advice to prospective actors and actresses:

carole lombard screen book april 1936 ba

Nearly 80 years after she wrote and edited for the magazine Screen Book, Lombard herself will be the subject of a biography. Yes, more than a few bios have been written about Carole…but this one promises to be the best yet for a number of reasons. It’s the first to be written in the wake of the growth of vintage media on the Internet, providing far greater access to material from the classic Hollywood era than was previously available to writers. Moreover, the author’s track record is a good one. Among her works is one of the very best volumes ever written on Marilyn Monroe, one that tosses aside the cliches and examines the development of Monroe as human being:

marilyn monroe private and undisclosed 01amichelle morgan 01a

We’ve known Michelle Morgan was in the process of working on a Lombard bio for some time, so when we wanted an update on the project, this is what she emailed us from England:

“Last March I finally got the green light to write my Carole Lombard book, after five years of working on it on-and-off. However, just two days later, I got an urgent request from my Marilyn publisher, to write a huge book about Hollywood scandals — 170,000 words before February 2013. It was a really big task, as you can imagine, so I had to put down the Carole project and work on Scandals, which I did until last month when I finally finished.

“Since then I have been slowly but surely gearing up to do the Carole book, which I am now well and truly into. I am working my way through heaps of newspaper articles, interviews, documents and much more, as well as sourcing papers and documents that will be very helpful in the months to come. I have contacted various family members; have found the papers of one of her agents; and am happily digging away to uncover stories about her childhood as well as her later life.

“Today I have decided on a title which I really like. It is…’Carole Lombard: Swing High, Swing Low.’ What do you think? I thought it was a good title because obviously it is the title of one of her films, but also her life did swing high and then low, so it’s quite fitting. The cover photo is a secret for now, but let’s just say I have two that I am definitely planning to use — one for the front and one for the back. One of the photos is black and white and the other colour, so I’m just trying to work out now which one should be on the front and which one on the back. I’m really happy with the two photos and I hope readers will be too.

“The book is on target to be finished by the end of the year, and will hopefully be out to buy in early summer 2014, published by BearManor Media. This is later than I originally thought, but maybe I will get it done quicker, in which case it will be out slightly earlier. I will let you know in due course.

“At the moment, I am planning to use quite a lot of photographs and I have been very lucky in that regard so far. However, I am always looking for more, so if anyone has any photographs in their collection that they wouldn’t mind scanning for me (high resolution please) then I’d love to hear from them. My email address is and if anyone has any magazine articles, interviews, documents, letters or anything else that could be helpful, please, please get in touch. I will source and acknowledge anyone who is able to help me.”

By “high resolution,” she means at least 300 dpi. If you can help her out, by all means do so.

I should also note that later, she emailed me saying she was having second thoughts about the title…for a reason those of us on the other side of “the pond” wouldn’t immediately get. It turns out that the song “Swing High, Swing Low” is the anthem of the British national rugby team, along the lines of “You’ll Never Walk Alone” for Liverpool’s famed soccer club. But no matter what it turns out to be titled, it promises to be worthwhile reading.

Meanwhile, Michelle is emulating her subject, though thankfully she has more modern technology at her disposal than Lombard did when she sat down to write…

carole lombard typing 00b

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Posted February 24, 2013 by vp19 in Uncategorized

Seeking the start of a ‘society deb’   Leave a comment

Posted by vp19 on 2013.02.23 at 21:30
Current mood: frustratedfrustrated

carole lombard fox 00acarole lombard 020425a los angeles times

On Feb. 4, 1925, Carole Lombard, the former Jane Alice Peters, made one of her earliest print appearances in the Los Angeles Times, in a story entitled “Society Girl Goes Into Silent Drama.” (One presumes in those pre-talkie days, “silent” was used as a synonym for “movies,” to contrast it with the stage.) “Another lovely society girl has succumbed to the lure of the movies,” it began, labeling her mother, Elizabeth Peters, as a “society leader.”

Lombard’s “society” ties came to mind when I found a fan magazine article — or, should I say, part of a fan magazine article — in cyberspace. That in itself is nothing new, as we’ve come across several instances of incomplete fan mag stories over the years. What makes this a bit different is that in other cases, we have the beginning, but not the end; here, it’s just the opposite. See what I mean:

carole lombard society deb 02

To be fair, there’s really not much about Carole in that segment, as one presumes she was discussed more thoroughly at the beginning of the piece and the wider theme is actresses with “society” backgrounds. It would be wonderful if we could find the first part of this article…but alas, the name of the magazine or its publishing date is not noted. Fortunately, there’s a jump of another article immediately above it that can provide some clues:

carole lombard society deb 03

That story, about Greta Garbo’s overlooked sense of humor, mentions “Susan Lenox: Her Fall And Rise” as her latest film. That Garbo-Clark Gable pairing was released in October 1931, so this likely ran in the latter months of that year. What magazine ran it, however, for now is a mystery. (We do know it isn’t Picture Play, which at the time referred to Lombard as “Carol” — no “e.”)

If anyone has any idea what magazine ran it, or better yet, has a copy of the earlier segment, please let us know (and forward it to us). We’d like to see how Lombard’s society roots were played up at the time.

Speaking of “society,” whenever I hear the word in that context, I invariably think of the following song, which Bobby Darin took from a now-obscure Broadway musical, “Tenderloin,” turning a song of social protest into a Sinatra-style swinger…without trivializing its impact. It’s “Artificial Flowers,” one of his many hits from the early ’60s, and listen to Darin’s disdain when he refers to “society” near the end of the song. One of my favorites from an artist who, like Elvis Costello is our time, covered all sorts of musical terrain and was never truly appreciated because of it.

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Posted February 23, 2013 by vp19 in Uncategorized

Want to get the ‘Low-Down’ on Lombard? You can   Leave a comment

Posted by vp19 on 2013.02.22 at 00:59
Current mood: thoughtfulthoughtful

carole lombard p1202-858

That’s Carole Lombard in Paramount p1202-858, from the latter part of 1934, and thanks to Tally Haugen for her work on that photo. Also, keep Tally in your thoughts today, as she’s undergoing a bilateral mastectomy to rid herself of four invasive cancer cells.

Now onto today’s topic, in which Carole’s on the cover of a magazine I heretofore had never heard of:

carole lombard hollywood low-down february 1938a

It’s the February 1938 issue of Hollywood Low-Down, published by the Fan Club Federation. I couldn’t find out much about the publication, aside that it probably began sometime in 1933 and ceased publishing in 1941. A check of cyberspace revealed these covers, but alas, no traces of copy inside:

hollywood low-down 061535ahollywood low-down may 1936a
hollywood low-down june 1936ahollywood low-down june 1937a

The magazine is about 12″ high and in good condition, though there is partial tearing to the cover. All the pages are intact, according to the seller.

Bids begin at $12.95, with bidding scheduled to end at 9:55 p.m. (Eastern) on Thursday. You can find out more by visiting

And does Lombard’s presence on the cover of a publication sponsored by the Fan Club Federation mean she had a fan club of her own? About a year ago, we wondered if that was the case ( Perhaps this issue can provide an answer.

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Posted February 22, 2013 by vp19 in Uncategorized