Archive for September 2013

Of art and tennis   Leave a comment

Posted by vp19 on 2013.09.23 at 08:28
Current mood: impressedimpressed

carole lombard made for each other 63c lyle wheeler

During her decade-and-a-half as a film industry professional, Carole Lombard worked with an array of legends, including some whose names are unfamiliar with casual fans. Take, for instance, this image from “Made For Each Other,” where Carole is pictured with a man named Lyle Wheeler, the film’s art director.

lyle wheeler 00a

Lombard had previously worked with Wheeler, a Selznick employee since 1936, on “Nothing Sacred.” (His skill in applying the new three-strip Technicolor dye made him ideal for Selznick.) He went on to work on “Gone With The Wind,” for which he created the sets and set up the famed burning of Atlanta scene. Wheeler would be among the array of Academy Award winners for “GWTW”; he would go on to win four more Oscars over the next two decades (for “Anna And The King Of Siam,” its musical remake “The King And I,” “The Robe” and “The Diary Of Anne Frank”), and received nominations another 24 times.

Wheeler had his share of input on design, but so did Selznick, as this 1939 memo to both Wheeler and “Rebecca” director Alfred Hitchcock made evident:

rebecca lyle wheeler memo 00

Wheeler moved to 20th Century-Fox after the end of the Selznick studio, and his output was prodigious — “Laura” (a set for which is seen below), “Leave Her To Heaven,” “All About Eve,” “The Snows Of Kilimanjaro,” “Love Me Tender,” “The Girl Can’t Help It” and many more. (In fact, Wheeler did art design for both the 1953 film “How To Marry A Millionaire” and its 1957-58 syndicated TV version starring a young Barbara Eden.)

laura set 00

Unfortunately, Wheeler — whose last film work came in 1971’s “Bless The Beasts & Children,” some 11 years after his previous credit, Marilyn Monroe’s next-to-last film, “Let’s Make Love” — was financially troubled in later years. He sold his house in 1982, put his Oscars in storage, and didn’t have the funds to cover the rent. The awards, hidden in boxes, were sold, but Wheeler regained possession of one of them before his death at age 84 in January 1990.

The Lombard-Wheeler photo (not vintage) measures 8″ x 10″. Bids begin at $6.99, with bids closing at 3:55 a.m. (Eastern) Thursday. To make a bid on this rare pic or simply learn more, go to

The same seller also has available this striking image of the tennis-playing Carole:

carole lombard tennis 10b

Its initial bid also is $6.99, although for this one, bids conclude at 3:15 a.m. Thursday. This would make an ideal gift for anyone who loves Lombard, tennis or both; get more information or make a bid by visiting

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Posted September 23, 2013 by vp19 in Uncategorized

Let’s (blog)roll   Leave a comment

Posted by vp19 on 2013.09.22 at 05:43
Current mood: ecstaticecstatic

carole lombard swing high, swing low 45b carl mydans life

We’re on the set of Paramount’s “Swing High, Swing Low,” watching (from left) cinematographer Ted Tetzlaff, director Mitchell Leisen and stars Carole Lombard and Fred MacMurray prepare a scene. Barring the invention of a time machine, we can’t zap ourselves back to late 1936 or early ’37 to watch them in action…but for those of us who love classic film, we can do the next best thing and immerse ourselves in the era.

We now have a new way to learn more about the golden age of Hollywood — it’s called the Ultimate Movie Blogroll. It states, “Our goal is to be the web’s largest list of amateur movie blogs! No blogathons. No awards. No comments. Just the ultimate in movie blogrolls.”

I was preparing to nominate “Carole & Co.”, when I discovered to my delight it already was there. In fact, as of this writing, I counted 92 blogs — many of them old friends, others I had never been aware of before. (Quite a few have or will participate in this weekend’s “Breaking News: Journalism In Classic Film Blogathon.”)

The Ultimate Movie Blogroll should make a fine one-stop reference when you want to see what’s going on in the classic film blogosphere; I look forward to using it regularly. The site is at, where you can learn the requirements for getting your blog included. Carole looks forward to seeing you there.

carole lombard swing high, swing low 82a

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Posted September 22, 2013 by vp19 in Uncategorized

Journalism in Classic Film Blogathon: Carole’s in the news (‘Nothing Sacred,’ and more)   Leave a comment

Posted by vp19 on 2013.09.21 at 15:28
Current mood: accomplishedaccomplished

carole lombard nothing sacred 18c

Chances are that when you juxtapose the name “Carole Lombard” with the phrase “newspaper film,” this is what comes to mind — “Nothing Sacred,” the classic 1937 Technicolor comedy about a journalistic scoop that turns out to be a hoax, and how all parties concerned try to cover up the matter.

There, Lombard was the subject of said hoax, but in this entry, part of the “Breaking News: Journalism in Classic Film Blogathon” sponsored by Comet Over Hollywood ( and Lindsay’s Movie Musings (…

…we’ll also examine a little-known film where Carole portrayed a reporter. More on that later. (May I also say that as a longtime journalist — having covered everything from sports and business to local news, working as a reporter, and editor and also on the copy desk — I’m delighted to be part of this blogathon.)

New York Morning Star reporter Wally Cook (Fredric March) is the victim of a fake story that leads to his demotion to the obituary section…

…when he gets word of a woman dying of radium poisoning in a small Vermont town. He goes up to investigate, though he gets little help from tactiurn townsfolk such as this spinster (played by the great character actress Margaret Hamilton, two years before she gained cinematic immortality for a very different type of film):

Cook finally meets Hazel Flagg (Lombard), who really isn’t suffering from radium poisoning but is persuaded by her family doctor (Charles Winninger) to pretend that she is so that Hazel and the doctor can go on a New York trip sponsored by the Star. Hazel’s story draws sympathy from New Yorkers and she becomes the toast of the town…but when she is discovered to be in ideal health, what do Hazel and Wally (who happen to be falling in love), not to mention the Star, do next? You’ll have to watch the film — which is in public domain, although a first-class Blu-ray version was issued last year — to find out.

carole lombard nothing sacred herald 04

“Nothing Sacred” is perhaps most famous for its fight scene, where Wally tries to wear Hazel out to make her look ill before a panel of renowned doctors arrive to examine her. Lombard, a real-life boxing fan who in her youth received lessons from champion Benny Leonard, got some more training on set from another champ, Maxie Rosenbloom, who had a small part in the film as a comic thug.

Acerbic newspaperman-turned-screenwriter Ben Hecht (who wrote the screenplay for Lombard’s pivotal film, “Twentieth Century”) worked on the script; it’s very good, and quite funny, but the semi-racist vitriol (the story that demoted Wally concerns a charitable potentate who’s discovered to merely be a Harlem bootblack) slightly lessens its appeal to modern audiences.

Over the years, quite a few classic-era actresses played newspaperwomen, from Loretta Young (“Platinum Blonde”) to Jean Arthur (“Mr. Deeds Goes To Town”; her role nearly went to Lombard) to Rosalind Russell (“His Girl Friday,” another film Carole missed on). But before any of these were made, Lombard portrayed a reporter in the relatively obscure 1929 Pathe movie “Big News”:

carole lombard big news 07b front
carole lombard big news 14c

As the photos imply, Lombard — playing the journalist wife of newspaperman Robert Armstrong — has relatively little to do in the movie aside from being attractive. It’s Armstrong’s vehicle, and he’s quite good at it as a reporter who falls prey to alcoholism and is accused of a murder he didn’t commit.

carole lombard big news motion picture news 090729a
carole lombard big news motion picture news 090729b

“Big News” was directed by Gregory La Cava, who seven years later would direct one of Lombard’s signature films, “My Man Godfrey.” This is nowhere as good a movie, but by 1929’s static standards, it’s more than adequate, and is probably the best of her three Pathe features.

But wait — there’s also one more instance of Lombard playing a reporter, and on this occasion she genuinely treads into Torchy Blane territory. However, you can’t see her in action (unless you have a fertile imagination) because in this case, she’s on radio!

While Lombard is probably best known broadcast-wise for her several appearances on “Lux Radio Theater,” she also made the rounds of several other programs, including a half-hour series called “Silver Theater.” This episode, “Murder Unlimited,” aired on March 9, 1941, as Carole plays a newspaperwoman who uncovers a ring of killers and finds a way to save the day. You can hear it at

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Posted September 21, 2013 by vp19 in Uncategorized

Get in the ‘Picture (Play’)   Leave a comment

Posted by vp19 on 2013.09.20 at 09:08
Current mood: curiouscurious

carole lombard picture play june 1932a blue heaven 01b

Last year, we ran an entry about the June 1932 issue of Picture Play, which featured not only the above image of Carole Lombard, but an interview with her as well (

carole lombard picture play june 1932 blue heaven 00a
carole lombard picture play june 1932 blue heaven 02a
carole lombard picture play june 1932a blue heaven 03

That issue is now on sale at eBay…but before we fill you in on the particulars, how about some more from June of ’32?

Carole, revealing so much glimpse of stocking you nearly see her garter, is in a one-page promotion of her latest movie, “Sinners In The Sun”:

carole lombard picture play june 1932a sinners in the sun

She’s also seen in a Max Factor ad for blondes, although the company elsewhere provides equal time for brunettes via petite Sidney Fox…

carole lombard picture play june 1932a adpicture play june 1932bc

…although Fox gets the cover as well:

picture play june 1932b cover

One of the letters, from a “Jeanne” in Beverly Hills, praised Tallulah Bankhead’s acting and wondered why Paramount didn’t promote her more, comparing Bankhead to Lombard, whom she referred to as “hopeless” (at that time, Carole might well have agreed with her):

picture play june 1932bb

But Paramount indeed was promoting Tallulah, as this full-page ad shows:

picture play june 1932aa

A southern belle who was getting the push from Paramount was Miriam Hopkins, and Picture Play noted her ascent:

picture play june 1932ca
picture play june 1932da
picture play june 1932ea
picture play june 1932fa

Note there was a place in New York where you could order stills of stars or scenes from recent movies, long before Movie Star News and other outfits appeared. And speaking of stills, here in sepia are Karen Morley…

picture play june 1932ga

…and as always seems to be the case in these magazines, Loretta Young:

picture play june 1932ha

You can buy this magazine (pages 59 and 60 are missing) for $14.99; if interested, visit

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Posted September 20, 2013 by vp19 in Uncategorized

Studio snapshots, ’20s style   Leave a comment

Posted by vp19 on 2013.09.19 at 09:19
Current mood: nostalgicnostalgic

carole lombard fox 00c

A 16-year-old Carole Lombard, a newly-signed starlet with Fox, must have felt she had achieved a dream when she posed for this portrait in 1925. But much had passed since her “debut” four years earlier when, as Jane Peters, she’d had a small part in “A Perfect Crime”:

carole lombard a perfect crime 01b

The girl’s infatuation with movies only amplified in ensuing years — and as a Los Angeles resident, she fortunately was right in the midst of it. First at Virgil Junior High, then at Fairfax High School, Jane began planning and dreaming of future cinematic glory.

She probably read many of the era’s fan magazines, among them Motion Picture –– which from November 1923 through August 1924 ran a series of profiles of the various studios in what was collectively called “Hollywood.” These weren’t detailed descriptions of each place; instead, the series, written by a Sally Steele, was called “Vignettes Of The Studios.” She used her typewriter to paint word impressions of the distinctly different atmosphere around each place…places Jane Peters would frequent during 1924 as she sought work in the industry.

We’ve run photos of these studios during this period (; now, let’s get a contemporary account of these magic factories, sites most readers of Motion Picture –– far removed from Los Angeles — considered a far-off land.

We’ll start in the November 1923 issue with the Lasky studio (later more popularly known as Paramount, but before its relocation to Melrose Avenue):

motion picture vignettes of the studios 01a lasky november 1923

December 1923 takes us to the Ince studio on Washington Boulevard in Culver City…a venue the future Lombard would know well from working at Pathe in the late 1920s and Selznick International in the late 1930s:

motion picture vignettes of the studios 02aa ince december 1923
motion picture vignettes of the studios 02bb ince december 1923

As 1923 transitioned into 1924, the January issue profiled the Metro studio, which before the new year was out would merge with two other studios and pull up stakes:

motion picture vignettes of the studios 03a metro january 1924

February would find Steele in the Hollywood hills, visiting Universal:

motion picture vignettes of the studios 04a universal february 1924

The aforementioned Metro’s eventual destination was profiled in March — the Goldwyn studios in Culver City (although by now Samuel Goldwyn had nothing to do with the operation), the initial home of Ince and Triangle. Oh, and some guy named Louis B. Mayer would link his production company with Metro and Goldwyn before the year ended:

motion picture vignettes of the studios 05a goldwyn march 1924

Next up in April, Charlie Chaplin’s studio (though it didn’t look like one). Not long after this ran, 15-year-old Jane Peters came here and was interviewed by Chaplin for his leading lady role in “The Gold Rush”; she didn’t get the part, and legend has it he deemed her “too pretty” (

motion picture vignettes of the studios 06a chaplin april 1924

In May, Steele examined the Pickford-Fairbanks studio, where Jane unsuccessfully sought employment in 1924. The property was later owned by Samuel Goldwyn and leased to United Artists, and it was here that Lombard worked on what would be her final film, “To Be Or Not To Be”:

motion picture vignettes of the studios 07aa pickford-fairbanks may 1924
motion picture vignettes of the studios 07ba pickford-fairbanks may 1924

Carole’s first sustained studio home would be Fox, and Steele describes it in the June issue as a factory of sorts, with relatively little cinematic romance:

motion picture vignettes of the studios 08aa fox june 1924
motion picture vignettes of the studios 08ba fox june 1924

In July, Steele looked at Vitagraph, a studio that had seen better times. Jane Peters was hired by Vitagraph that summer and nothing much came of it…although it did persuade her to change her name, and she chose “Carol” in honor of a school friend (the “e,” and the “Lombard,” would arrive shortly thereafter):

motion picture vignettes of the studios 09a vitagraph july 1924

The series ended in August with Mack Sennett’s beloved comedy lot in Edendale. Lombard would later spend some time here, although most of her Sennett activity would come after Mack moved his outfit north to Studio City:

motion picture vignettes of the studios 10aa mack sennett august 1924
motion picture vignettes of the studios 10ba mack sennett august 1924

What’s interesting, in retrospect, are what studios weren’t profiled, studios that would play key roles in both the industry and Lombard’s work in it. There’s no mention of Columbia, then a Poverty Row outfit. Warners, which in a few years would shake up filmdom with its pioneering work in sound — first for music, then the spoken word — isn’t here; neither is Pathe, whose alliance with Sennett would aid Carole as she emerged from two-reelers. And in 1923 and ’24, “radio” was something you listened to (most likely on a crystal set) and wasn’t in the movie business…neither were Keith’s or Orpheum.

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Posted September 19, 2013 by vp19 in Uncategorized

‘Photoplay,’ April 1935: Blonde appeal   Leave a comment

Posted by vp19 on 2013.09.18 at 19:24
Current mood: contemplativecontemplative

carole lombard p1202-1051c

Ah, the power of blonde, a power Carole Lombard knew well. By 1935, it may have been waning in some corners — about this time, Central Casting reported that no more than a half-dozen platinum blondes were on its roster, and the princess of platinum, Jean Harlow, was in the process of mutating into something called a “brownette” (but still beautiful) — so Carole was holding the banner for blondes, as this page from the April 1935 Photoplay made clear:

carole lombard photoplay april 1935 larger

Oh, and the “I” is from Carolyn Van Wyck as part of “Photoplay’s Hollywood Beauty Shop.”

The magazine had some nice things to say about Lombard’s look. As for her latest movie, well…

carole lombard photoplay april 1935ba

A close-up on “Rumba”…ouch:

carole lombard photoplay april 1935bb

Carole’s mentioned in the “Hollywood, My Hollywood” piece, but most of it belongs to Bill and Bing, as in W.C. Fields and Harry Lillis Crosby, discussing the curious practice of tourists watching film stars eat:

carole lombard photoplay april 1935ca
carole lombard photoplay april 1935da
carole lombard photoplay april 1935ea
carole lombard photoplay april 1935fa
carole lombard photoplay april 1935ga

The cover star that month was Lilian Harvey, painted by Georgia Warren:

photoplay april 1935 cover large

That issue featured several pages of letters, but we’ll focus on this page for its theme of the treatment of the South (and southern accents) in movies, notably in “Imitation Of Life”:

photoplay april 1935aa

Cal York’s column discussed director Frank Capra, screenwriter Robert Riskin and their often-acrimonious relationship with Columbia honcho Harry Cohn:

photoplay april 1935ba
photoplay april 1935ca

You can buy this magazine, which is listed in good condition, for $19.99. Find out more at

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Posted September 18, 2013 by vp19 in Uncategorized

‘Silver Screen,’ April 1934: That funny divorce   Leave a comment

Posted by vp19 on 2013.09.17 at 07:56
Current mood: weirdweird

carole lombard william powell gloria swanson michael farmer 101333a shrine auditorium opera lawrence tibbett emperor jones

So what if Carole Lombard and William Powell no longer were married? It didn’t keep them from socializing together, as on this night, Oct. 13, 1933 at the Shrine Auditorium, when they accompanied Gloria Swanson and her husband, Michael Farmer to hear Lawrence Tibbett sing — less than two months after Carole had legally called it quits in Carson City, Nev.

Public appearances such as this threw Hollywood’s social whirl into a tizzy. Just what was going on here? Were Powell and Lombard having second thoughts about their split, and might this lead to another try at wedded bliss? Elizabeth Wilson, who was as close to Carole as any member of the fan magazine community, decided to find out — and the results are in the April 1934 issue of Silver Screen, an article entitled “That Funny Divorce”:

carole lombard silver screen april 1934a
carole lombard silver screen april 1934b
carole lombard silver screen april 1934c

In no uncertain terms, Wilson says Powell and Lombard aren’t getting back together as a couple, nor are they doing all this as a publicity stunt. Rather, they found the humor they cherished in their relationship worked best when they were friends. (Remember, at this stage in their careers, neither Bill nor Carole were identified as comic actors. That would change within a few months with “The Thin Man” for him and “Twentieth Century” for her, paving the way for their mutual comedic triumph in “My Man Godfrey” two years hence.)

The April ’34 Silver Screen has a few other stories on contemporary actresses, including one who was put on its cover, Constance Bennett:

silver screen april 1934 constance bennett

Inside, Connie talked a bit about the movie industry, noting it a place where women and men had equality (well, at least if you were a film star):

silver screen april 1934aa
silver screen april 1934b

There’s a nice piece on someone who would figure in the lives of both Powell and Lombard over the next few years — Jean Harlow — discussing about how nice it is for her to finally be recognized as an actress, and not merely a symbol of s-e-x:

silver screen april 1934c
silver screen april 1934d
silver screen april 1934e

Carole would work with Una Merkel in 1937’s “True Confession,” but by early 1934, Merkel already was noted for her comedic gifts, as this article explains:

silver screen april 1934f
silver screen april 1934g

Finally, let’s look at Lombard’s Paramount pal, Claudette Colbert. This portrait points out she recently was at Columbia to work with another loanout, MGM’s Clark Gable…

silver screen april 1934h

…and the movie they worked on at Gower Gulch got good — no, great — reviews from Silver Screen:

silver screen april 1934j

Claudette even appears in a Lux ad…but note that in the body copy, she’s being promoted for the upcoming “Cleopatra,” a Paramount product (relatively few loanout pictures were given this sort of recognition):

silver screen april 1934i

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Posted September 17, 2013 by vp19 in Uncategorized