Archive for November 2013

Redeveloping a landmark on the Square   Leave a comment

Posted by vp19 on 2013.11.30 at 00:30
Current mood: satisfiedsatisfied

carole lombard 1940 cbs largest

In the final few years of her brief life, Carole Lombard frequently appeared on network radio, which by that time had firmly settled in as part of the Hollywood scene. In 1938, the industry’s two leading companies opened spectacular studios, as much dream factories as those of their cinematic brethren. On Sunset and Vine stood NBC…

nbc radio hollywood 1950s large

…while a few blocks west, at Sunset and Gower, stood rival CBS’ complex, known as Columbia Square:

columbia square 01a

By the time television came of age in the 1950s, NBC tried to operate TV studios at its site, but found it needed more room and established a TV center at Burbank; the Hollywood building became unnecessary to NBC’s thinking and was razed in 1964 for bank building far less architecturally inspiring. Fortunately, Columbia Square is receiving a happier fate.

Let’s show you what Columbia Square looked like the night it opened, April 30, 1938:

columbia square opening 043038a

It was a splendid site, a beauty of International Modernism designed by William Lescaze and costing $2 million, then a record for a broadcast facility.

Here’s a diagram of the building, state-of-the-art for the late ’30s:

columbia square diagram 00a

That large stage, called “Studio A,” was the building’s showcase, and many programs originated there, such as this to promote the film “Alexander’s Ragtime Band,” released in August 1938, not long after it opened:

columbia square 03a

While “Lux Radio Theater” broadcast from its own theater for most of its Hollywood heyday, two other series Lombard appeared on multiple times — the “Screen Guild” show and “The Silver Theater” — were done at Studio A. When Carole took the stage to act, here’s what she would have looked out on (adding about 1,000 spectators, of course):

columbia square studio a 00a

The photo of Lombard at the top may well have been taken at Studio A. Here’s some shots of the studio in action, with a crowd — first, for Gene Autry’s long-running radio show:

columbia square studio a gene autry 00a

Next, a performance of Glenn Miller’s orchestra:

columbia square glenn miller 00a

Many of radio legend Norman Corwin’s literate specials were produced at Columbia Square, such as “We Hold These Truths,” a program commemorating the 150th anniversary of the signing of the Bill of Rights, in December 1941 and “On A Note Of Triumph” after V-E Day in May 1945.

CBS chairman William Paley’s famed “talent raid” from NBC in 1949 brought several of its stars a few blocks west on Sunset, notably radio’s top-rated comedian, Jack Benny. From right, Jack, wife Mary Livingstone, George Burns and Gracie Allen stand outside Columbia Square for an event in 1952 (we presume the buses were rerouted):

columbia square 1952a george burns gracie allen jack benny mary linvingstone

Other famed series were based at Columbia Square, including the greatest of westerns, “Gunsmoke” (although it was transcribed and not performed before a live audience). Here are William Conrad, radio’s Marshal Dillon, and company going through a rehearsal:

columbia square gunsmoke rehearsal 00a

Radio was changing in the 1950s, as its stars found new life in television. (Lucille Ball, whose radio series “My Favorite Husband” was performed there, did her “I Love Lucy” pilot at Columbia Square, although the show would be filmed elsewhere.) With television production moving to different sites, CBS converted several of its large network studios into recording venues. Radio and TV production took a more localized approach, as longtime radio tenant KNX was accompanied by CBS’ Channel 2, whose news studios originated there.

But all good things must come to an end, and so it was for Columbia Square…at least where broadcasting was concerned. In August 2005, KNX ended 67 years there and joined its fellow CBS Los Angeles stations at studios on the Miracle Mile. Some 20 months later, the two CBS TV stations, KCBS and KCAL, pulled up stakes and headed to Studio City.

A trip to the building lobby in 2012 revealed faded memories:

columbia square lobby 2012a

The good news is that in 2009, the Los Angeles Cultural Heritage Commission and the City Council designated Columbia Square a historic cultural monument. And the site is beginning to be redeveloped into a combination office/retail/residential complex that will take shape over the next few years. Note a few of the renderings, and the modernistic feel of the site remains (although the legendary Studio A probably will be divided into offices);

columbia square development 00a
columbia square development 01a

The “CBS” lettering has been removed from the facade, but once work is done, some evening you’ll be able to stand in front of the building and imagine past glories:

columbia square 00a

Learn more at this fabulous Facebook site, “CBS Columbia Square Alumni”:

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Posted November 30, 2013 by vp19 in Uncategorized

Lux presents Bollywood   Leave a comment

Posted by vp19 on 2013.11.29 at 13:13
Current mood: nostalgicnostalgic

carole lombard lux ad 01a

Carole Lombard appeared in this Lux ad in 1934, continuing a company tradition of having actresses hawk its soap in magazines, newspapers and radio (that year, it began to sponsor the “Lux Radio Theater,” initially in New York, but shifting to Hollywood in 1936, where it became one of the top-rated network programs).

Lux soap has been discontinued in the U.S. for some years now (its corporate owner, Unilever, has shifted its focus in the women’s toilet soap market to Dove), but elsewhere it remains a potent brand, and reportedly is the world’s top-selling soap despite its absence in America.

The Lux tie-in with film stars continues in some countries, notably India, where the emphasis on glamour and beauty is reminiscent of classic Hollywood of the ’30s and ’40s. In fact, one of India’s top stars has just filmed a Lux commercial that will start airing on Indian TV this Sunday. Her name is Deepika Padukone, 27, statuesque by Indian standards at 5-foot-9. Her look conjures a South Asian version of a young Julia Roberts:

deepika padukone 00

She made the commercial with a frequent co-star, Imran Khan (he’s married to someone else — his childhood sweetheart, in fact — so don’t think these two are an item):

deepika padukone imran khan 00

Those of you still interested in Lux’s array of products, which go well beyond soap, may want to check out, though I’m not sure if any of these items are available in America. (It should be noted that some who have purchased current Lux said via import complain it’s formulated differently from the Lux soap they earlier used.)

lux soap 00a

To give you an idea how Lux advertises today, here’s an Indian commercial from earlier this year starring another Bollywood celeb, Katrina Kaif:

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Posted November 29, 2013 by vp19 in Uncategorized

Taking time off on Turkey Day   Leave a comment

Posted by vp19 on 2013.11.28 at 01:14
Current mood: thankfulthankful

carole lombard clark gable turkey 00e

Today is Thanksgiving here in the U.S., and I wish to give thanks to all of you who have kept “Carole & Co.” going for nearly 6 1/2 years. To show my thanks, here’s a photo of Carole Lombard, Clark Gable and turkey, probably taken at the MGM commissary.

Obviously, some people have to work on this day: our public servants, such as police and fire officials; those who work for newspapers or broadcasting stations; and employees of restaurants who traditionally serve Thanksgiving dinner or those at convenience stores regularly open 24 hours. Unfortunately, this year they are being joined by employees of many national chains that heretofore have been closed on this special day, and tens of thousands of people throughout America — of whom a substantial percentage are making minimal wages — are unable to spend the entire day with their families simply to enable some shoppers to get an early jump on “Black Friday.” To those of you in that situation, my sympathies, with hope that corporations will come to their senses and think of their workers first in future years.

Now that my little editorial is over, I’ll leave you with this bit of classic radio — Jack Benny’s Thanksgiving program, as broadcast by NBC on Nov. 23, 1941. Yes, this was produced while Benny was still filming “To Be Or Not To Be” (Lombard is mentioned, the film’s title isn’t), and there are some other Hollywood references. The premise is Jack hosting Thanksgiving dinner with some of his cast members and their wives…including the wife of bandleader Phil Harris, Alice Faye (by decade’s end, they would have their own popular radio series). A word of warning: There is some uncomfortable ethnic humor as Dennis Day uses cork on his face to impersonate (in the listener’s imagination) Rochester’s brother (who was unable to attend) as a second servant. If you can get past that, this is a genuinely funny episode. Oh, and good news for you turkeys out there — Jack is serving duck.

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Posted November 28, 2013 by vp19 in Uncategorized

Ships passing in the Pathe night   1 comment

Posted by vp19 on 2013.11.27 at 20:53
Current mood: enthralledenthralled

carole lombard pathe cl-225aconstance bennett 1929aa

They would be two of Hollywood’s most glamorous blondes, actresses whose beauty and fashion sense would come to define chic. And for a brief while, both were employed by the same studio. We’re referring to Carole Lombard and Constance Bennett, of course, short-term stablemates at Pathe. In fact, here’s a rare ad featuring both on one page, from Motion Picture News of July 6, 1929:

carole lombard motion picture news 070629ba

In all honesty, neither was getting the biggest Pathe push. This was the second of a two-page ad from that studio; check out who made the first:

carole lombard motion picture news 070629aa

William Boyd was Lombard’s leading man in her first all-talkie, “High Voltage,” and much later would gain fame for playing Hopalong Cassidy. Ina Claire isn’t well remembered today, but had starred on Broadway for much of the ’20s and was deemed the epitome of sophistication.

Soon, Bennett — briefly a star in the mid-1920s before marrying and moving to Paris for a few years — would get a career boost…and from Pathe’s perspective, why not? She was part of theatrical royalty, one of the three daughters of acclaimed actor Richard Bennett. (Youngest sister Joan had made her film debut in the 1928 Pathe film “Power,” where both she and Lombard had small parts.) Connie was perceived as such a sure thing that she apparently was given some power over the roster, and supposedly by the fall of ’29, she’d persuaded studio officials to terminate the contracts of fellow blondes Lombard and Diane Ellis (a supporting player).

Both Lombard and Ellis would land at Paramount by the spring of 1930, although Ellis became ill while honeymooning in India that December and died there.

This issue of Motion Picture News also has some reporting on Pathe’s plans for the upcoming production year:

carole lombard motion picture news 070629ca

Specifically, here’s what the trade paper wrote about its planned features:

carole lombard motion picture news 070629cb
carole lombard motion picture news 070629db

Lombard indeed appeared with Robert Armstrong in “Big News” and “The Racketeer,” but what of this film called “Parachute”? The Internet Movie Database lists no movie from that year by that title (Warners made a 1932 film called “Parachute Jumper” which apparently is unrelated), and it’s not part of the entries for Armstrong or director Tay Garnett.

The summer of ’29 found the film industry in flux, as this editorial in that July 6 issue makes clear:

motion picture news 070629ha

While that two-page ad was all Pathe had to offer in that issue, a new rival — flush with cash and ambition — made its presence known in preceding pages. The newly-formed Radio or RKO studio, which ultimately would assimilate Pathe, provided Motion Picture News with 48 exquisite pages…

motion picture news 070629aa

…including many with dazzling full-color art. No wonder its symbol was a titan:

motion picture news 070629ba

We’ll show you a few of these, if only to delight in the ability of the Media History Digital Library to render these long-ago pages in their original color. First, three pages promoting “Rio Rita,” a musical with some two-strip Technicolor sequences that turned out to be RKO’s first major hit:

motion picture news 070629bb
motion picture news 070629bc

Here’s RKO hyping Rudy Vallee, who in his own egotistical way was the Kanye West of his day. (Perhaps Kanye ultimately will redeem himself as a comedic character actor; we can always hope.)

motion picture news 070629ca

Technically, the first RKO film was this musical called “Street Girl,” starring Betty Compson:

motion picture news 070629da

This Ben Hecht story was projected to be filmed early in 1930, but it was shelved until spring 1934, when Warners acquired the rights and made it with Warren William, Mary Astor and Ginger Rogers:

motion picture news 070629ea

Here are some other ads publicizing upcoming productions:

motion picture news 070629cb
motion picture news 070629db

The star of these Mickey McGuire two-reelers is still with us, and still working…it’s Mickey Rooney, of course:

motion picture news 070629eb

And since the transition to talkies wasn’t yet complete, a company named “Radio” also released silent versions of many of its pics for exhibitors who had yet to install sound:

motion picture news 070629fa

And speaking of sound, in between RKO’s 48 pages and Pathe’s two was this ad promoting a book to aid people in the industry about this momentous change:

motion picture news 070629ga

“Looks interesting,” you’re thinking, “but it’s probably long out of print.” Well, not really. The book, “Sound Motion Pictures,” has been digitized and is available online at

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Posted November 27, 2013 by vp19 in Uncategorized

‘Orchids’ to ‘Nowhere’   1 comment

Posted by vp19 on 2013.11.26 at 07:27
Current mood: energeticenergetic

carole lombard no more orchids 34a

Carole Lombard, as heiress Anne Holt, stands on a chair with cocktail in hand addressing the throng in a still from “No More Orchids” (1932), her second film for Columbia. It’s an 8″ x 10″ original currently on sale at eBay for $23.95, or you can make an offer, in which case bidding will end at 3 a.m. (Eastern) Dec. 26. You can get more information by visiting

The same seller has three vintage pics from the 1928 Mack Sennett comedy “The Girl From Nowhere,” but Lombard is only visible in one (she’s standing near a railing wearing a dark dress and light coat):

carole lombard the girl from nowhere 07a

The same sale conditions apply for this item, although the deadline is seven minutes earlier than the one above. If this piques your curiosity, then go to

The two non-Lombard pics from “Nowhere” can be viewed at

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Posted November 26, 2013 by vp19 in Uncategorized

Carole and Cary…real dolls in an unreal story   Leave a comment

Posted by vp19 on 2013.11.25 at 08:19
Current mood: artisticartistic

carole lombard in name only 28 large

Carole Lombard and Cary Grant are shown in the only film in which they co-starred, the 1939 romantic drama “In Name Only.” Yet, an item has popped up on eBay that enables one to imagine an alternate universe, one where they’re the leads in another movie — perhaps the screwball comedy we so wish they had made together had fate not intervened. Ladies and gentlemen, I introduce to you…”Honeymoon In Paris”:

carole lombard cary grant honeymoon in paris 01a

Yes, this “story” involves Carole and Cary paper dolls, shown below:

carole lombard cary grant honeymoon in paris 01b

They have outfits for their romantic adventure, from the ocean liner…

carole lombard cary grant honeymoon in paris 02a

…to sightseeing and shopping in the fabled French capital…

carole lombard cary grant honeymoon in paris 03a

…Maxim’s and the opera…

carole lombard cary grant honeymoon in paris 03b

…even an appearance at the Beaux-Arts Ball:

carole lombard cary grant honeymoon in paris 04a

Nice settings; now all we need is a plot to go with it. Then again, that’s not the intent of creating paper dolls.

This rare item was created for a 1998 paper doll convention, whose theme was Paris:

carole lombard cary grant honeymoon in paris 05a

Like other stars, Lombard has long been a paper doll favorite (

The booklet, kept by an avid collector, is said to be in near-mint condition and measures 12″ x 9″. Bidding begins at $15, and closes at 9:20 p.m. (Eastern) Sunday. Interested, or curious? Then go to

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Posted November 25, 2013 by vp19 in Uncategorized

Looking back: November 1933   Leave a comment

Posted by vp19 on 2013.11.24 at 12:06
Current mood: productiveproductive

carole lombard 1816a

Some of you may recall a monthly feature at this site called “Looking Back,” which compiled several Carole Lombard-related news items (culled from newspapers and daily trade journals) from a particular month. It began in January 2011, looking back at Carole in January 1932, then continued month-by-month through an October 2012 review of October 1933.

But in November 2012 (specifically a year and a week ago today), I tore a ligament in my right knee and was away from my computer for several weeks. For that and other reasons, I chose to put “Looking Back” on the shelf. Now that we’re back in November, I’ve decided to revive the feature…now reviewing 80 years to the month rather than 79 (it’s a more appropriate number, to boot).

Career-wise, the big news for Lombard that month was the release of her latest film, “White Woman,” an ad for which is seen in the Nov. 23, 1933 Altoona (Pa.)Mirror:

carole lombard 112333a altoona mirror

Earlier in the month, it had premiered in Los Angeles, and according to the Nov. 15 Motion Picture Daily, it was doing middling business. (In contrast, look to the numbers being posted for Mae West’s latest vehicle, “I’m No Angel,” despite being in its third week with substantially higher ticket prices.)

carole lombard motion picture daily 111533b

Three days later, it was reviewed in two of the New York-based trades –– Motion Picture Daily...

carole lombard motion picture daily 111833b

…and Film Daily:

carole lombard film daily 111833b

Several of Lombard’s earlier films still were making the rounds, such as “Supernatural,” shown in the Syracuse Herald on Nov. 19 (look in the lower-left and upper-righthand corners):

carole lombard 111933 syracuse herald

On Nov. 15, the Paris (Texas) News ran an ad for “The Eagle And The Hawk” — also note the “colored balcony,” a reminder of what black audiences had to endure in the days of segregation:

carole lombard 111533 paris texas news

Nationally, the big story was the repeal of Prohibition, the 18th Amendment, which began in January 1920. Congress proposed its repeal via passing the 21st Amendment in February 1933, shortly before Franklin Delano Roosevelt — a supporter of repeal — assumed the presidency. Beginning in April, state ratifying conventions (not state legislatures) passed the amendment; this was done by Congress to circumvent the still-potent temperance lobby, and remains the only constitutional amendment enacted in this manner.

At the start of November, 29 of the required 36 states (with Alaska and Hawaii later added as states, the number now would be 37) had passed repeal, and four more would do so by month’s end. (Ratification was completed Dec. 5.) California had voted by referendum in late June to support repeal, and empower the legislature to regulate the sale by retail stores if and when “federal prohibition becomes inoperative.” By mid-November, it was deemed inoperative, and the sale of regulated alcoholic beverages became legal.

Hollywood, as you might guess, was almost unanimously in favor of repeal, and was delighted it no longer had to head to Mexico to drink legally. John Barleycorn’s triumph was noted by syndicated columnist Dan Thomas in the Nov. 21 Burlington (N.C.) Daily Times News:

carole lombard 112133a burlington daily times news

Carole and ex-husband William Powell celebrated at the Beverly-Wilshire Gold Room:

carole lombard 112133b burlington daily times news

Late in the month, United Press writer Vincent Mahoney provided some alcoholic recipes from film industry notables, which ran in the Nov. 29 Twin Falls (Idaho)Evening Times:

carole lombard 112933 twin falls evening times

Carole contributed a concoction, called “Golden Fizz”:

carole lombard 112933a twin falls evening times

Yet another Lombard recipe.

Memories of the Lindbergh kidnapping in March 1932 resonated with the American public for a while, so naturally there was some reluctance from the film industry to use child abduction as a plot point for movies. By the fall of 1933, that apparently was changing, according to the San Antonio Express of Nov. 5:

carole lombard 110533 san antonio express

But Lombard, in such a film? Not so fast. This is from the Nov. 19 Oakland Tribune...

German import Dorothea Wieck would end up with the role.

Carole, when not recuperating from illness, was wrapped up in her new house (was this the one in Beverly Hills or her better-known residence on Hollywood Boulevard?). So was the decorator, former film star William Haines, according to Hearst columnist Louella Parsons in the Nov. 26 San Antonio Light:

carole lombard 112633 san antonio light

Readers of the Nov. 9 Hagerstown (Md.) Morning Herald also got a house update…although given the curious layout, it may have taken them a few extra seconds to get from point A to point B:

carole lombard 110933 hagerstown morning herald

Now to fashion, and Lombard was featured in a few pictorials that month, such as this from the Nov. 27 Massillon (Ohio) Evening Independent:

carole lombard 112733a massillon evening independent

The following day, this feature — showing two Lombards flanking Dorothy Mackaill — ran in the Stevens Point (Wis.) Daily Journal:

carole lombard 112833 stevens point daily journal

Then this, from the Nov. 29 Middletown (N.Y.) Times Herald and the same writer of the Stevens Point piece:

carole lombard 112933a middletown times herald

Finally, this odd mix of stories from one town — Sandusky, Ohio, on the shores of Lake Erie, about halfway between Toledo and Cleveland. Carole was to make an appearance there…and so, for that matter, would Kay Francis, Clara Bow, Jean Harlow, Myrna Loy and Joan Crawford. Well, sort of. This story from the Nov. 5Sandusky Register explains things:

carole lombard 110533 sandusky register

The “rival” Sandusky Star-Journal (both were owned by the same company) provided an update Nov. 7, the day of the event…

carole lombard 110738 sandusky star-journal

…as well as a report on the proceedings the following day:

carole lombard 110833 sandusky star-journal

We hope Mable enjoyed portraying Carole Lombard…and wish we had photos or more detailed descriptions of the event. (Just how would Lombard have been portrayed in November 1933, roughly half a year before “Twentieth Century” would change the public’s perception of her?) Also, try to imagine something similar happening today, when movies are more about franchises and CGI effects than about stars.

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Posted November 24, 2013 by vp19 in Uncategorized

Carole and a ‘Comet,’ or Lombard as Valley girl   Leave a comment

Posted by vp19 on 2013.11.23 at 15:05
Current mood: surprisedsurprised

carole lombard clark gable chickens 081339b front

It’s August 1939, and Carole Lombard — married to Clark Gable since late March — is enjoying farm life on the ranch the couple owns in Encino, part of the San Fernando Valley. Today’s entry concerns the Valley, but a drastically different version of it in the distant future, after their ranch had been transformed into homes in a subdivision called “Clark Gable Estates,” and most of the area surrounding it had turned into suburbia, yet still within Los Angeles city limits.

This entry’s subject is a beloved cult film from the ’80s which partly takes place in the Valley…an area which by then had become a sort of comic relief, thanks in part to a hit by Frank Zappa and his daughter Moon Unit (fer sure, fer sure). The movie is 1984’s “Night Of The Comet,” issued several days ago in a deluxe Blu-ray/DVD version:

night of the comet blu-ray dvd 00a

So what’s the Lombard connection, you say? See the character at right? She’s a cheerleader from the Valley who, along with her older sister, appear to be the only survivors after a comet passes by Earth:

kelli maroney night of the comet 01b

She’s portrayed by Kelli Maroney (“Fast Times At Ridgemont High”), who says in an interview that’s among the set’s extras that before shooting began, director Thom Eberhardt asked her to watch “My Man Godfrey” to watch the interaction between Carole’s character and that of her older sister, played by Gail Patrick. (Catherine Mary Stewart, who portrayed the big sis, was also asked to watch it.)

carole lombard my man godfrey 029b

In other words, imagine Irene Bullock as a Valley girl in a post-apocalyptic world. Now that’s a concept.

Despite the subject matter and a subplot involving zombies, “Night Of The Comet” is good-hearted, low-budget fun; its many fans have sought a first-class videodisc release for some time. Looks like it’s worth checking out. Incidentally, here’s what Maroney looks like today — she continues working, and last year appeared in the TV movie “Gila!”:

kelli maroney 2013a

Learn more about the film at

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Posted November 23, 2013 by vp19 in Uncategorized

Free ‘Virtue’ in D.C. tonight!   Leave a comment

Posted by vp19 on 2013.11.22 at 00:40
Current mood: uncomfortableuncomfortable

carole lombard virtue 24b
carole lombard virtue title card larger

What’s that subject line about — another sex or cocaine scandal on Capitol Hill? No, thankfully. The 1932 Carole Lombard film “Virtue,” one of her best pre-Code performances, is being shown in Washington tonight…and you don’t have to pay a cent to see it. The film is the second in a series of pre-Code gems called “Tough Dames in Satin Slips,” and it’s showing at 7 p.m. at Abraham Lincoln Hall at the Hill Center, 921 Pennsylvania Avenue SE (two blocks east of the Eastern Market station on Metrorail’s Blue and Orange lines).

The series began last week with arguably the definitive pre-Coder, Barbara Stanwyck’s “Baby Face.” It’s taking next Friday off for the Thanksgiving holiday, but will return Dec. 6 with “Heat Lightning” (with superb performances from Aline MacMahon and Ann Dvorak) and Dec. 13 with the film that put James Cagney on the map, “The Public Enemy” (the tough dames are Jean Harlow and Mae Clarke — watch out for that grapefruit).

But wait, there’s more! Each film will have a discussion led by Nell Minow of the “Movie Mom” blog ( and writer Margaret Talbot, whose superb book about her father, Lyle Talbot…

lyle talbot the entertainer margaret talbotlyle talbot 1930s
lyle talbot the entertainer cover large

…has recently been issued in softcover ( Her father, who worked with Lombard (in “No More Orchids,” not “Virtue”) has a supporting role in “Heat Lightning.”

This promises to be a fun, informative evening, so if you’re in the D.C. area tonight, take it in (and later tell us all about it). But while the event is free, apparently registration is required; as of this writing, 38 openings remain. To register, go to

So go…but keep your eyes open for a tough dame’s reflection in the mirror. She may be a woman of “Virtue.”

carole lombard virtue 26b

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Posted November 22, 2013 by vp19 in Uncategorized

50 years ago tomorrow…   Leave a comment

Posted by vp19 on 2013.11.21 at 00:09
Current mood: sadsad

carole lombard high voltage 06d

That’s Carole (or, as she was properly known at the time, Carol) Lombard in a still from “High Voltage,” her first all-talking feature, from 1929. We’re running it because it’s a Pathe film, made when the studio was being run by Joseph P. Kennedy, father of a man who’s frequently been featured in the news lately…

…John F. Kennedy, 35th president of the United States. As most of you know, Friday marks the 50th anniversary of Kennedy’s assassination in Dallas (also on a Friday), and regardless of what you think of Kennedy as a president, it safely can be said it was an event that forever changed the tone of American society.

Turner Classic Movies looks back at the Kennedy presidency by airing several documentaries from the era (all times Eastern):

* 8 p.m. — “Primary” (1960). This examines the 1960 Democratic primary in Wisconsin, which along with West Virginia would be pivotal states for Kennedy’s drive to the nomination. Directed by Robert Drew, this featured camera work from Albert Maysles and editing from D.A. Pennebaker, both of whom would be important figures in the next generation of documentaries.

* 9:15 p.m. — “Adventures On The New Frontier” (1961). Apparently this was part of ABC-TV’s “Close-Up” series and first aired in late March of ’61, barely two months into JFK’s presidency. Beyond that, I know nothing other than that given ABC’s distant third-place status at the time, few people saw it.

* 10:30 p.m. — “Crisis: Behind A Presidential Commitment” (1963). More cinema verite from Drew, as he examines the administration’s battle to enroll two black students at the University of Alabama, in the only state that had not integrated its public university system. (It should be noted that university officials already had approved the students’ admission, and it was Gov. George Wallace who sought to block them.) Several teams of filmmakers document actions on both sides, and the tension is genuine. The finished film premiered a month before Kennedy’s assassination.

* 11:45 p.m. — “Faces Of November” (1964). This short from Drew is the first of two post-assassination documentaries TCM is airing, and includes footage of Kennedy’s burial at Arlington National Cemetery.

* midnight — “Four Days In November” (1964). In contrast, this film, produced by David L. Wolper and done in conjunction with United Press International, runs more than two hours and covers a weekend any American of age at the time still remembers. Some may disagree with its endorsement of the Warren Commission’s lone gunman theory, but it’s nonetheless powerful filmmaking.

WBAP radio has been running a series on how the events of Nov. 22, 1963 and subsequent days affected the Dallas-Fort Worth area; it can be found at Also note that on Friday, beginning at 8 a.m. (Eastern), WBAP will rebroadcast minute-by-minute coverage as heard on the station on Nov. 22, 1963, playing back in real time. If you live outside its broadcast signal (820 AM), you can hear it at

We know Lombard met Franklin D. Roosevelt at the White House on Dec. 29, 1940 (, and it’s entirely possible she met future president Ronald Reagan during his first few years at Warners. But did she ever meet John F. Kennedy? At the time his father ran Pathe, the son had not yet reached his teens and probably never visited the West Coast (especially since Joseph P. was in the midst of an affair with Gloria Swanson). However, one novelist has imagined that Carole and JFK did meet…but no, not for a romantic dalliance.

a fine and dangerous season 01

Keith Raffel’s “A Fine And Dangerous Season” is historical fiction dealing with the 1962 Cuban missile crisis, but his protagonist, businessman Nate Michaels — who’s been called to use his expertise to help defuse the threat of Soviet warheads in Cuba — was friends with Kennedy at Stanford in 1940, and has some flashbacks in the story. At this time, Gable and Lombard are in northern California (why, I’m not certain), and Michaels not only shakes Clark’s huge hand, but introduces Kennedy to Carole:

“Oh, the ambassador’s son,” she said. She didn’t seem too impressed, but then look at who she was married to.

I don’t know if Raffel was aware of the connection between Lombard and JFK’s father; if he was, his fictional Carole might have made a completely different reference.

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Posted November 21, 2013 by vp19 in Uncategorized