Archive for December 2013

Closing out with Clark and Carole   Leave a comment

Posted by vp19 on 2013.12.31 at 09:09
Current mood: contentcontent

carole lombard clark gable 1936a polar palace 01 front

As I write this, some of you (notably in New Zealand) have already welcomed 2014. Our way of wishing a happy new year for all is to show an array of rarely-seen images of Carole Lombard and Clark Gable, part of a collection of about 60 Lombard pics (most with Gable) that are on sale for prices ranging from $18 to $125. Here are a few, kicking off with that photo above, showing Clark and Carole at the Polar Palace in Hollywood in the spring of 1936 to watch an ice show starring Sonja Henie.

Another place the couple enjoyed visiting about that time was Gilmore Stadium, used for football in the fall but earlier in the year a venue for midget auto racing:

carole lombard clark gable 1936a midget auto races 00 front

Fast forward to January 1937, when they attended an event honoring Adolph Zukor, the Paramount patriarch:

carole lombard clark gable 1937a adolph zukor event front

That October, the pair went to the Los Angeles Tennis Club to see Carole’s protege Alice Marble battle her chief adversary of the time, Helen Jacobs:

carole lombard clark gable 1937a alice marble helen jacobs 00 front

There are several images from 1938, such as this charming pic taken at the Barnes Circus, where a young boy tags along seeking their autographs (from the ebullient look on Gable’s face, I bet he got them):

carole lombard clark gable 1938a barnes circus front

From July, Clark and Carole are shown descending the stairs while attending a preview:

carole lombard clark gable 1938a premiere front

That December, the pair — who hadn’t been seen together in public for a few months as legal and marital affairs were in high gear — went to the premiere of “Men With Wings”:

carole lombard clark gable 1938a men with wings 00 front

Everything was resolved by the start of 1939, and that summer the now-married couple were pictured at their Encino ranch:

carole lombard clark gable 1939a ranch 00 front

The Gables celebrated their first anniversary that March with a cake at Clark’s MGM dressing room:

carole lombard clark gable 1940a first anniversary 00 front

And on Dec. 23, 1941, Clark and Carole were pictured with Jack Benny at the Beverly Wilshire, perhaps for a cast party for “To Be Or Not To Be”:

carole lombard clark gable 1941a jack benny beverly wilshire 00 front

You can see all these photos — most of which have a snipe on the back with further information — at

Speaking of Benny, let’s celebrate the new year with Jack by showing the Dec. 31, 1961 episode of “The Jack Benny Program.” It’s fascinating to see how Benny made the transition from radio to television; the humor isn’t quite as surreal, and Jack’s 1961 self was a bit more textured and relaxed than he was in earlier years — but the important thing is that he’s still funny, with that impeccable comedic timing. Enjoy, and best wishes for a happy 2014.

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Posted December 31, 2013 by vp19 in Uncategorized

A star turn coming up in January   Leave a comment

Posted by vp19 on 2013.12.30 at 01:32
Current mood: productiveproductive

carole lombard p1202-85c

One of the benefits I’ve received after administering this site for several years is that Carole Lombard has forwarded me transcripts of conversations she’s had with other stars in that magical world known as Hollywood heaven. I’ve been able to share discussions Carole has had with Myrna Loy ( and Constance Bennett ( Now Lombard has conversed with another cinema legend, and we’re proud to provide it to you, because it’s with none other than Carole’s old Cocoanut Grove dance contest adversary…Joan Crawford:

joan crawford 009c

Carole Lombard: Hey there, hotcha gal!
Joan Crawford: Well, if it isn’t my chief rival from ’25. What brings you to this neck of the hereafter?
Lombard: You’re probably aware of this news, but just in case you aren’t…
Crawford: If it’s involving you-know-who down on earth, don’t bother — I’m doing a fine job on my own haunting that ungrateful–
Lombard (shakes her head): No, it has nothing to do with that…or, should I say, her. You’ll like hearing this.
Crawford: What?
Lombard: You’re Turner Classic Movies’ Star of the Month in the U.S. in January. Congratulations!

joan crawford tcm star of the month january 2014

Crawford: You know, that’s the third time I’ve gained that honor — TCM did likewise in August 1998 and August 2002.
Lombard: Thanks to Summer Under the Stars, that’ll never happen again. Anyway, you’ll be honored each Thursday throughout January, and it’s fortunate there are five Thursdays that month, because 62 of your movies will be shown!
Crawford: I did make a lot of films, didn’t I?
Lombard: In fact, a few of those airings will continue well into Friday. The schedule is more or less chronological, and starts Jan. 2. Hey, narrator, got that night’s schedule?
Narrator: Sure do, Carole. Here it is, not just for the 2nd but Jan. 3 too, with all times Eastern:

January 2, Thursday
* 8 p.m. — 
The Unknown (1927)
* 9 p.m. — Our Dancing Daughters (1928)

joan crawford our modern maidens 00a

* 10:30 p.m. –– Our Modern Maidens (1929)
* midnight — Our Blushing Brides (1930)
* 1:45 a.m. — Lady of the Night (1924)
* 3 a.m. — The Boob (1926)
* 4:15 a.m. — Spring Fever (1927)
* 5:45 a.m. — Across to Singapore (1928)

January 3, Friday
* 7:15 a.m. — 
West Point (1928)
* 9 a.m. — The Hollywood Revue (1929)
* 11 a.m. — Untamed (1929)

joan crawford montana moon 00a

* 12:30 p.m. — Montana Moon (1930)
* 2 p.m. — Paid (1930)
* 3:30 p.m. — Dance, Fools, Dance (1931)
* 5 p.m. — Laughing Sinners (1931)
* 6:15 p.m. — Possessed (1931)

Lombard: You’re more or less silent on Thursday, but begin to talk on Friday.
Crawford: And I had big hits while you were still making two-reelers for Sennett.
Lombard (grimaces): We’re not in a dance contest, dear. Quit strutting your stuff. Tell us about the following week, narrator.
Narrator: This time, the focus is on Joan in the early and mid-’30s:

January 9, Thursday
* 8 p.m. —
 Grand Hotel (1932)

joan crawford rain 01

* 10 p.m. — Rain (1932)
* 11:45 p.m. — Dancing Lady (1933)
* 1:30 a.m. — Forsaking All Others (1934)
* 3 a.m. — This Modern Age (1931)
* 4:30 a.m. — Today We Live (1933)

January 10, Friday
* 6:30 am — 
Chained (1934)
* 8 a.m. — Sadie McKee (1934)
* 9:45 a.m. — I Live My Life (1935)
* 11:30 a.m. — No More Ladies (1935)
* 1 p.m. — The Gorgeous Hussy (1936)

joan crawford love on the run 01

* 3 p.m. — Love On the Run (1936)
* 4:30 p.m. — The Bride Wore Red (1937)
* 6:15 p.m. — The Last of Mrs. Cheyney (1937)

Crawford: Still no “Letty Lynton,” I see. When I left, it was in legal limbo, and apparently that still hasn’t been resolved.
Lombard: But “Rain” — or should we call it “Desperately Seeking Sadie Thompson” — is on the schedule! The minute Madonna gets up here, I’m certain she’ll tell you what a fashion inspiration you were.
Crawford: Score one for Carole. But on the 10th, I get to co-star with both of your husbands!
Narrator: On to the following week, closing out Joan’s work in the ’30s and showing what she did in the first half of the forties:

January 16, Thursday
* 8 p.m. — 
The Women (1939)
* 10:30 p.m. — When Ladies Meet (1941)
* 12:30 a.m. — A Woman’s Face (1941)

joan crawford they all kissed the bride 00a

* 2:30 a.m. — They All Kissed the Bride (1942)
* 4:15 a.m. — Mannequin (1937)

January 17, Friday
* 6 a.m. —
The Shining Hour (1938)
* 7:30 a.m. — The Ice Follies of 1939 (1939)
* 9:15 a.m. — Strange Cargo (1940)
* 11:15 a.m. — Susan and God (1940)
* 1:30 p.m. — Reunion in France (1942)

joan crawford above suspicion 00

* 3:30 p.m. — Above Suspicion (1943)
* 5:15 p.m. — Hollywood Canteen (1944)

Lombard: I want to thank you once again for filling in for me on “They All Kissed The Bride” — and even better, donating your salary to the Red Cross.
Crawford: Donating the money was easy. Trying to replace you was hard, especially since I admit comedy isn’t really my strong suit. But I guess I did okay.
Lombard: How’d you like working with Fred MacMurray?
Crawford: What a professional…I can see why you liked him so much. Glad he’s finally being appreciated for the terrific actor he was.
Narrator: Next up is Joan’s postwar work, continuing into much of the fifties:

January 23, Thursday
* 8 p.m. — 
Mildred Pierce (1945)

joan crawford humoresque 00

* 10 p.m. — Humoresque (1946)
* 12:15 a.m. — Flamingo Road (1949)
* 2 a.m. — The Damned Don’t Cry (1950)
* 3:45 a.m. — Possessed (1947)
* 5:45 a.m. — It’s a Great Feeling (1949)

January 24, Friday
* 7:15 a.m. —
 Harriet Craig (1950)
* 9 a.m. — Goodbye, My Fancy (1951)
* 11 a.m. — This Woman Is Dangerous (1952)

joan crawford torch song 00a

* 12:45 p.m. — Torch Song (1953)
* 2:30 p.m. — Queen Bee (1955)
* 4:15 p.m. — Autumn Leaves (1956)
* 6:15 p.m. — The Story of Esther Costello (1957)

Lombard: Glad to see you win an Oscar for “Mildred Pierce.” Sorry I never was able to try my hand at film noir.
Crawford: Good source material from James M. Cain. Our good friend Barbara Stanwyck should have won the year before for his “Double Indemnity.”
Lombard: On the other hand, there’s “Torch Song.” While your legs were superb, the story was silly, and blackface? What were you thinking?
Crawford: A little thing called camp, Carole. It may explain why, even though we both hired Billy Haines as an interior decorator, I’m a gay icon and you aren’t. By the way, why is there no “Johnny Guitar” on the schedule?
Narrator: Let’s close this out with the final films of Joan’s career on the 30th and 31st.

January 30, Thursday
* 8 p.m. — 
The Best of Everything (1959)

joan crawford whatever happened to baby jane 00

* 10:15 p.m. — What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962)
* 12:45 a.m. — Della (1964)
* 2 a.m. — Trog (1970)
* 3:45 a.m. — The Karate Killers (1967)
* 5:30 a.m. — The Caretakers (1963)

January 31, Friday
* 7:30 a.m. –
– Berserk! (1967)

Lombard: The other day, I was discussing movies with Myrna Loy, and she told me that she refused all those Grand Guignol roles that you and Bette and Olivia de Havilland took in the sixties.
Crawford: Well, I too count Myrna as a friend — funny that we have a lot of mutual friends like Loy and Stany, but we ourselves aren’t all that close — but if you wanted to keep working then, those are the roles you did. I mean, that didn’t interest her, and I guess Claudette and Marlene felt the same way, but Bette and I wanted work.
Lombard: And the feud between you two?
Crawford: Oh, we were rivals, all right, going back to when I arrived at Warners. But compared to what I had with Norma Shearer — or what she had with Miriam Hopkins — it was a church picnic.
Lombard: You can be sure I’ll be watching all month, and I’ll try to get Clark and Bill to watch, too.
Crawford: Very good. As my way of saying thanks (snaps fingers, and a Pepsi-Cola bottle materializes in her hand), a complimentary Pepsi on me. As the jingle you probably remember went, “Twelve full ounces, that’s a lot!” (She hands the bottle to Carole.) 
Lombard (smiles): Thanks! Say, how about meeting me at the afterworld Grove in an hour for another dance contest? We can rematerialize as our teen selves and really have a go at it with the Charleston.
Crawford: You’re on — see you then. Oh, just one more thing.
Lombard: What’s that?
Crawford: How did you make the cover of that new George Hurrell book when he always said I was his muse?

joan crawford hurrell 1933a

Anyone who views Joan through the “Mommie Dearest” prism isn’t doing her justice. She was an actress who worked hard at her craft, was genuinely liked by most in the film community, and probably enjoyed stardom more than any of her contemporaries. TCM has a pair of articles about this side of Crawford: First, a profile of the actress is at, while Robert Osborne remembers her at

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Posted December 30, 2013 by vp19 in Uncategorized

Three stars at the club   Leave a comment

Posted by vp19 on 2013.12.29 at 12:57
Current mood: determineddetermined

carole lombard eric blore paul lukas 00a

I’ve had this image of Carole Lombard with Eric Blore and Paul Lukas in my online collection for several years, but didn’t know much more about it. Now I do, as a vintage photo of this trio (albeit in a slightly different pose) has surfaced on eBay.

carole lombard eric blore paul lukas 01b front

The bad news is obvious: This photo is not in the best of shape. The good news is, we learn much more about this image from the information on the back:

carole lombard eric blore paul lukas 01a back

It was taken at the Racquet Club in Palm Springs (and judging from Carole’s outfit, she either was getting ready to play some tennis or had just finished a game), and the photographer was a certain J.B. Scott for Dell Publishing Co.’s “Modern Magazines” (most likely Modern Screen or possibly Modern Romances). It’s marked as being from November 1935, which may have been when it was received at the office, not necessarily the month it was published. (Since neither Modern Screennor Modern Romances currently have an online presence, we can’t answer the question.) Lukas, of course, co-starred with Carole in “No One Man,” while Blore was a longtime comic character actor best known for supporting roles in several Fred Astaire-Ginger Rogers movies.

Finally, this was part of the collection of the late Susan Marie Rice, a longtime Lombard collector who lived in Glendale, Calif., not far from Carole’s resting place at Forest Lawn, and someone I met during my first trip to southern California in June 1989.

The photo measures 4″ x 5″, and the seller notes: “I recently acquired an injured feral cat & a very expensive vet bill that needs to be paid off!” So you can help with the care of an ailing animal by acquiring this picture. You either can bid on it, starting at $74.99 — bidding closes at 1:31 a.m. (Eastern) Friday — or purchasing it outright for $99.99. Find out all the information by visiting

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Posted December 29, 2013 by vp19 in Uncategorized

Looking back: December 1933   Leave a comment

Posted by vp19 on 2013.12.28 at 19:08
Current mood: nostalgicnostalgic

carole lombard white woman 00a

As one might guess, the biggest news concerning Carole Lombard in December 1933 was her latest release, “White Woman,” the potboiler with Charles Laughton set in the Malayan jungle. Paramount played up the exotic angle in its advertising, such as this from the Dec. 3 Uniontown (Pa.) Daily News-Standard...

carole lombard 120333b uniontown daily news-standard

…or this from the Dec. 16 Burlington (N.C.) Daily Times-News:

carole lombard 121633ba burlington daily times-news

Many smaller newspapers of the time carried pre-written, obviously approving reviews from studio pressbooks (and since the Newspaper Archive primarily consists of smaller papers, that’s where most of these items are from), but a few papers ran independently written reviews, albeit rarely bylined. These aren’t at the level of James Agee, Pauline Kael or Roger Ebert, but they occasionally make some cogent points.

My birthplace of Syracuse, N.Y., has a strong history of film reviewing, and much of that is attributable to the old Syracuse Herald. In 1927, it began an organization called the Herald Cinema Critics Club (or Tri-C) that won acclaim throughout the industry for getting fans involved in intelligent movie criticism. Jack Harrower, who wrote under the pseudonym “Phil M. Daly” for Film Daily (get it?) saluted the society on its fifth birthday on Feb. 7, 1932, calling it “the Pioneer among fan organizations…voicing their opinions intelligently, constructively, sympathetically…embracing college professors and business men and women and high school students…who love the cinema…realize its possibilities…and are earnestly endeavoring to advance its critical standards.” (I would love to learn more about this organization; perhaps I’ll contact Syracuse University or the Onondaga County Public Library to see if they can track down more information.)

Anyway, here’s what the Herald’s anonymous critic wrote about “White Woman” on Dec. 2:

carole lombard 120233 syracuse herald

Three days later, Mississippi’s Biloxi Daily Herald chipped in its opinion — although it was found on the editorial page, of all places:

carole lombard 120533a biloxi daily herald

On Dec. 21, the Wisconsin State Journal in Madison had this to say:

carole lombard 122133aa wisconsin state journal
carole lombard 122133ba wisconsin state journal

Meanwhile, Lombard was working on her next movie, “Bolero,” and I’m guessing George Raft really was giving her a workout, if this report from the Dec. 5 Reno Evening Gazette is indicative:

carole lombard 120533 reno evening gazette

Move a bit west, to that day’s Oakland Tribune, and we learn a “Bolero” cast member walked off the set:

carole lombard 120533 oakland tribune

Sally Rand’s frustration was understandable; she had worked in silent pictures and in fact was a WAMPAS baby star in 1926 (an honor Lombard never received, although she probably would have gained it in 1930, when the award was canceled because of the ailing economy). Things soon were resolved, and Rand returned to the production.

And what about Carole’s next movie? Louella Parsons announced what it would be in her syndicated column, shown from the Dec. 19 Hearst-owned San Antonio Light:

carole lombard 121933a san antonio light
carole lombard 121933c san antonio light

Three days later, Film Daily ran more or less the same news — and note that while “White Woman” was reviewed in Biloxi, it was banned in another part of the Bible Belt:

carole lombard film daily 122233a
carole lombard film daily 122233b

(Elsewhere on that page, we learned that “Night Bus” — for which Lombard had declined a loanout to Columbia in order to make “Bolero,” for which Paramount had big plans — had been renamed “It Happened One Night.” But, as we all know, a change in title probably won’t mean anything.)

As things turned out, of course, “The Man Who Broke His Heart” was one of those productions Carole never appeared in; heck, the Internet Movie Database doesn’t list a film by that title.

And in the final few days of 1933, look what was playing at the Olympic Theater in Steubenville, Ohio, according to that city’s Herald-Star on Dec. 20:

carole lombard 122033 steubenville herald-star

Perhaps Robert Armstrong’s starring in that year’s blockbuster “King Kong” had something to do with its re-emergence (as if he were the reason for that film’s runaway success). Whatever, by late 1933 even the best movies from 1929, and “The Racketeer” clearly wasn’t one of them, must have seemed static and creaky. (As for “Worldly Goods” — assuming it’s not referring to a similarly titled silent from 1924 — it’s a drama starring James Kirkwood and Merna Kennedy, was produced by the obscure Trem Carr Pictures, and is deemed a lost film.)

One of the more interesting things Lombard was involved in during December concerned the recently ended Prohibition, joined by other cinema legends. Back to the Syracuse Herald, this time from Dec. 8:

carole lombard 120833 syracuse herald

That brief in the third column brings us back to the real world…and what sadly was to come.

More information on the cocktail contest was found in the next day’s Oakland Tribune:

carole lombard 120933aa oakland tribune
carole lombard 120933ba oakland tribune
carole lombard 120933ca oakland tribune

How did Lombard and Dietrich fare, not to mention W.C. Fields? And who won the contest? Here, we hit a dead end. If anyone’s near Carmel, please check the library or historical society and find out. (Oh, and say hi to Doris Day and Clint Eastwood for me.)

Three years before Lombard’s life was changed at a Mayfair party, she attended an earlier one — squired by Raft — and drew some attention. Here’s part of Parsons’ column from the Dec. 6 San Antonio Light...

carole lombard 120633a san antonio light

…Harrison Carroll’s “Behind The Scenes In Hollywood,” from the Dec. 7 Tyrone (Pa.) Daily Herald...

carole lombard 120733a tyrone daily herald

…and Gwynn’s “Hot From Hollywood” in the Dec. 8 Hagerstown (Md.) Morning Herald:

carole lombard 120833a hagerstown morning herald

(Note that Russ Columbo attended, but was accompanied by Mary Brian, the actress who replaced a balking Lombard for “Hot To Handle” earlier in the year.)

Carole was listed among the best-dressed stars in the Dec. 26 Hammond (Ind.) Times:

carole lombard 122633a hammond times

Want some visual proof? Here she is, in the Dec. 1 Middletown (N.Y.) Times Herald...

carole lombard 120133c middletown times herald
carole lombard 120133a middletown times-herald

…and the Dec. 28 Beatrice (Neb.) Daily Sun:

carole lombard 122833 beatrice daily sun

Lombard made the Dec. 17 Sandusky (Ohio) Register, but this almost certainly is Paramount-produced material since all the names in the column hail from that studio:

carole lombard 121733 sandusky register

This item, from the Dec. 26 Edwardsville (Ill.) Intelligencer, probably originated at Paramount, too:

carole lombard 122633 edwardsville intelligencer

And here’s Louella again, this time from the Dec. 30 San Antonio Light, letting us know what Carole got for Christmas:

carole lombard 123033 san antonio light

How many people do you know who received a car as a gift from the spouse they divorced that year?

The Newspaper Archive is a wonderful resource, but for those of us doing classic Hollywood research it has one serious drawback — the almost-complete absence of Los Angeles or Hollywood dailies. It does have material from a few local weeklies, however, such as the Van Nuys News, which ran this item on Christmas Day:

carole lombard 122533a van nuys news

I think this was when Carole was still in Beverly Hills, as she didn’t move into her Hollywood Boulevard house until the following spring. Adjacent to the item was this ad from Pacific Electric, suggesting people use its services to visit Pasadena on New Year’s Day:

carole lombard 122533ba van nuys news

(That’s right — Columbia was playing in the Rose Bowl. And perhaps a young New Yorker named Vin Scully listened to the game that day, little realizing he would become a Los Angeles radio legend, by way of Fordham University and Brooklyn, and serve as Tournament of Roses grand marshal 80 years later.)

But as for Lombard, she would begin 1934 — which would be a pivotal year for her — with an “open house.” The lowdown on how Hollywood would welcome the new year was found in the Dec. 31 Jefferson City (Mo.) News and Tribune:

carole lombard 123133a jefferson city news and tribune

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Posted December 28, 2013 by vp19 in Uncategorized

In a ‘Weekly’ array of stars   Leave a comment

Posted by vp19 on 2013.12.27 at 17:41
Current mood: exanimateexanimate

carole lombard film weekly 061331aa

Film Weekly, a British movie magazine, ran Carole Lombard as its cover subject on June 13, 1931. Nearly a year later, it used her again, apparently from the same photo session:

carole lombard film weekly stars of the month june 1932aa

Interesting to see “Ladies’ Man” cited — I don’t have a date it premiered in the UK, but it opened in Portugal in May 1932, about a year after it did in the States.

But this portrait didn’t run in the main magazine, but rather a supplemental periodic publication called “Stars Of The Month.” Carole’s page faced one for Karen Morley, who just had a key supporting role in “Arsene Lupin”:

carole lombard film weekly stars of the month june 1932c

I learned about this publication from Paul Petro, who picked up this magazine a few years back and recently posted it at the “Pre-Code Hollywood (1929-34): Sin on Celluloid” Facebook group site. It accompanied the June 3, 1932 Film Weekly and featured Miriam Hopkins on the cover:

film weekly stars of the month june 1932 cover large

Now, the rest of the issue…

film weekly stars of the month june 1932ab
film weekly stars of the month june 1932ba
film weekly stars of the month june 1932ca
film weekly stars of the month june 1932db
film weekly stars of the month june 1932ea
film weekly stars of the month june 1932ga

…and an ad on the back:

film weekly stars of the month june 1932hb

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Posted December 27, 2013 by vp19 in Uncategorized

A colorful thing we nearly missed   Leave a comment


Posted by vp19 on 2013.12.26 at 09:08 
Current mood: accomplishedaccomplished

carole lombard photoplay april 1936a color large

In October 2011, we ran the above portrait of Carole Lombard by James Doolittle — among the first true color photos of her — from the April 1936 issue ofPhotoplay to help kick off a three-part series the magazine ran on designer Travis Banton, who came up with that outfit ( 

But before 1936 was out, Photoplay readers got to see Lombard, Banton and Doolittle collaborate again, this time in the December issue:

carole lombard photoplay december 1936a

Why haven’t we run it before? There’s a good reason. While the Media History Digital Library has done a splendid job digitizing Photoplay and several other near-complete runs of other film magazines during the classic era, there still are a few gaps in the coverage — and this is one of them. Unfortunately, the July to December 1936 run of Photoplay is missing, about the time Carole’s career kicked into high gear with “My Man Godfrey” that fall.

The good news is that you can buy this image on eBay…not the issue, just the image. The seller says it’s in “fine original condition,” adding it “comes in Archival Safe Rigid Plastic Protector with 24 point acid free backing board ready to display.”

Interested in this rarity? It’ll cost you $23.95. Find out more by going to

We’ll close with some vocalese — what’s that, you say? Wikipedia defines it as “a style or musical genre of jazz singing wherein words are sung to melodies that were originally part of an all-instrumental composition or improvisation.” And its best-known practitioners, ranking with the Boswell sisters as the greatest of jazz vocal groups, were the combo of Dave Lambert, Jon Hendricks and Annie Ross. (The niece of Ella Logan, she appeared in a late ’30s Little Rascals short as a child, performing “Loch Lomond.”)

In 1957, Lambert, Hendricks & Ross recorded a milestone album for ABC-Paramount, “Sing A Song Of Basie,” where 10 Count Basie classics were reworked to fit their style, and it became a huge hit with hipsters of the time and remains among the most important jazz albums ever made. The following, “Everyday I Have The Blues,” should have an asterisk of sorts with it, as it already was a well-known vocal (by Joe Williams, B.B. King and others), but the trio added some improvisation (and overdubbed their voices several times) to make it their own. Dig!

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Posted December 26, 2013 by vp19 in Uncategorized

A merry Christmas from the Gables   Leave a comment

Posted by vp19 on 2013.12.25 at 01:44
Current mood: mellowmellow

carole lombard clark gable 109d

Perhaps somewhere there is a photo of Carole Lombard and Clark Gable in Christmas gear, but if one exists, I’ve never seen it. (Carole probably retired her elf outfit the day she left Pathe, and the mind figuratively chuckles over the concept of her husband in a Santa suit.) So we’ll settle for this stylish, if non-holiday image and let each of them wish you the merriest — in their own handwriting, no less. This comes from the superb site, your home for all things Clark:

carole lombard clark gable christmas 00a
carole lombard clark gable christmas 01a

The couple showed their Christmas generosity in December 1941 when they bought a suite of bedroom furniture for Jean Garceau, their personal secretary, and her husband, Russ. Items included a pair of twin beds, a night stand, a wash stand, and a lamp constructed from one of Lombard’s pink Staffordshire teapots. But that wasn’t all — Carole woodburned a plaque and presented it to the Garceaus:

carole lombard christmas plaque garceau 1941a

You’d really have to be perceptive to note that Lombard added a tiny “ie” to Clark’s name.

Now, some holiday music — specifically something I heard played this season at two different supermarket chains. It’s a Christmas song from the man who wrote “The Christmas Song”…Mel Torme, who here sings the traditional favorite “Good King Wenceslas.” It turns out to be a wise choice for a jazz interpretation, as its lyrics and theme are sufficiently secular to prevent it from seeming sacrilegious. The version I heard in the grocery stores was done in the studio, but what we have here is from a 1992 concert in Milwaukee shown on PBS. You’ll see the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra in the background, but this is just Mel and his trio. If you’re only familiar with Torme from his ties to sitcoms (“Night Court’s” Harry Anderson was a major fan, and who can forget Mel’s turn on a “Seinfeld” episode?), you’re missing out on one of jazz’s most innovative and talented musicians. Like Rosemary Clooney, Torme gained full creative control late in his career, putting out the music he wanted to make — including a 1994 album celebrating Bing Crosby’s songs from his Paramount movies, among them “May I?” from “We’re Not Dressing.” (Entertainment Weekly called it “a lush stunner of an album.”) Give this a listen — I think you’ll like it — and as Mel himself wrote, although it’s been said many times, many ways, merry Christmas to you.

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Posted December 25, 2013 by vp19 in Uncategorized

Of autographs and travel plans   Leave a comment

Posted by vp19 on 2013.12.24 at 08:47
Current mood: jubilantjubilant

carole lombard autograph 56b

Whether as part of a photo or signed separately, autographs of Carole Lombard are among collectors of her memorabilia’s most sought-after items. But anyone prepared to shell out big money to get one (and the signature of a celebrity who’s been gone for more than 70 years will require as such) had better make certain that it’s the real deal.

Two Lombard autographs currently on the market, and to help verify their veracity I’ve enlisted the services of Carole Sampeck of The Lombard Archive, who’s probably forgotten more about her autographs than I’ll ever know. First of all, this one:

carole lombard autograph 87a

Here are details from the seller:

“Signed album page, 4.5 x 4 inch, mounted for fine display with a photograph, shows Carole Lombard in a beautiful portrait (altogether 12 x 16.5 inch), signed and inscribed in blue fountain pen, signed by another person verso and glue marks beneath the signature — in fine condition.”

carole lombard autograph 87b

Sampeck’s view? Skeptical.

“First one I’m not thrilled about for a couple of reasons: the ‘To’ doesn’t look right for her. Next, the first name is about 1940-style, but the last name is the way she was signing around 1935.

“I’d give that one a pass without an impeccably clean provenance.”

The same seller also has this for sale:

carole lombard autograph 88a

“Signed album page, 3.5 x 4.25 inch, 1936, mounted for fine display with a photograph, shows Carole Lombard in a beautiful portrait (altogether 12 x 16.5 inch), signed, inscribed and dated (covered by the passepartout) in green ink ‘For – Mrs Elizabeth Thyka – Sincerely – Carole Lombard – 1936,’ a vertical bend at the left border — otherwise in very fine condition.”

carole lombard autograph 88b

Sampeck has this to say:

“The second I’m much more comfortable with, by miles!”

I am, too, and not only because Carole used her preferred green ink.

Each photo has a sale price of $577.49. For the first, go to; for the second, visit

We have one more Lombard item to examine — Paramount photo p1202-1092 from June 1935, as Carole shows off her travel style:

carole lombard p1202-1092c front
carole lombard p1202-1092b back

This vintage photo measures 8″ x 10″, comes from William Randolph Hearst’s International News Service, and was property of another Hearst-owned firm, King Features Syndicate.

You can buy it for $87.50 — half off its regular price — or you can make an offer, but the sale ends today. Learn more at

It’s become a semi-tradition here each holiday season to run the greatest Christmas song of the rock era — Darlene Love’s “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home),” which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year as part of the landmark Phil Spector Christmas album. And for more than half that time, Love has performed the song on David Letterman’s show, first on NBC, then on CBS. We’ve run it from a variety of years…but to celebrate the milestone, here’s her most recent version performed earlier this month, now a bit slower in tempo (then again, aren’t we all?), but as usual beautifully sung by Love and performed by Paul Shaffer’s superb band of musicians. Letterman says at its close it “gets better and better,” which I think all of us would agree. Merry Christmas!

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Posted December 24, 2013 by vp19 in Uncategorized

‘Swing High, Swing Low’ across the pond   Leave a comment

Posted by vp19 on 2013.12.23 at 02:31
Current mood: accomplishedaccomplished

carole lombard swing high, swing low 37d adolph zukor mitchel

“Swing High, Swing Low,” Carole Lombard’s third of four films made with Fred MacMurray, isn’t particularly well-remembered today (perhaps because it’s both lapsed into the public domain and no complete 35mm print has survived), but it was Paramount’s biggest moneymaker for all of 1937. That was a professional advancement for director Mitchell Leisen (second from right) and good financial news for Paramount patriarch Adolph Zukor (right).

I’ve recently received a wonderful artifact from that film — its 12-page British pressbook, and I thought I’d share its contents with you:

carole lombard swing high, swing low uk pressbook 00
carole lombard swing high, swing low uk pressbook 01
carole lombard swing high, swing low uk pressbook 02
carole lombard swing high, swing low uk pressbook 03

That last page has a few items that should be isolated and enlarged:

carole lombard swing high, swing low uk pressbook 03a
carole lombard swing high, swing low uk pressbook 03b
carole lombard swing high, swing low uk pressbook 03c

The ties between Lombard and Lamour were genuine; when Carole left Paramount at the close of 1937, she made certain Dorothy inherited her dressing room on the lot.

carole lombard swing high, swing low uk pressbook 04

On that page, Carole talks a bit about her recent change in personality:

carole lombard swing high, swing low uk pressbook 04a

Now we enter into exploitation, English-style:

carole lombard swing high, swing low uk pressbook 05
carole lombard swing high, swing low uk pressbook 06

And, of course, don’t forget the advertising:

carole lombard swing high, swing low uk pressbook 07
carole lombard swing high, swing low uk pressbook 08
carole lombard swing high, swing low uk pressbook 09
carole lombard swing high, swing low uk pressbook 10

That 40″ x 60″ enlargement probably would rank as one of the most expensive items of Lombard film memorabilia…

carole lombard swing high, swing low uk pressbook 09a

…and that 27″ X 41″ item would be worth a few hundred pounds, too:

carole lombard swing high, swing low uk pressbook 10a

Then there are always the posters:

carole lombard swing high, swing low uk pressbook 11

All this was designed to make “Swing High, Swing Low” as popular with British moviegoers as it was on the other side of “the pond.”

Lamour is so identified with wearing sarongs or being Bob Hope and Bing Crosby’s romantic foil in the “Road” movies that her own vocal talents often are overlooked, but here’s a delightful version of “Panamania,” which she performed in “Swing High, Swing Low.” This is from a overseas 78 rpm release, so there’s a little surface noise, but it doesn’t detract from the recording.

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Posted December 23, 2013 by vp19 in Uncategorized

‘Silver Screen,’ August 1934: Protecting those precious curves   Leave a comment

Posted by vp19 on 2013.12.22 at 17:58
Current mood: energeticenergetic

carole lombard p1202-607c eugene robert richee

Her one-time nickname “Carole of the curves” may have been more applicable to the late 1920s, but although Carole Lombard’s body had streamlined from shapely to sleek, it still awed many — especially in a skin-tight gown such as seen above. It was crucial for her and other stars of the day to retain such splendid figures, magnified to giant size at big-city cinema palaces…and a movie magazine sought to explain just how they did it.

Silver Screen of August 1934, featuring Kay Francis (by John Rolston Clarke) on the cover…

silver screen august 1934 cover

…featured “Those Precious Curves,” by Elizabeth Wilson, inside:

carole lombard silver screen august 1934aa
carole lombard silver screen august 1934ba
carole lombard silver screen august 1934c
carole lombard silver screen august 1934d

Despite being featured in two photos, there’s relatively little on Lombard in this story. In fact, you can read all of it in one paragraph:

carole lombard silver screen august 1934da

I’m not certain whether seeing the words “circus contracts” made Carole chuckle or cringe in reference to her prior problems with weight, but Wilson does a nice turn of phrase with the pun “coco cola.” And I’ve always associated the line “laziest gal in town” with Marlene Dietrich.

That’s about it for a Lombard presence in this issue, but there are some other things here that warrant attention. For example, cover girl Francis (a good friend of Carole’s dating back to the days both were at Paramount) addresses a number of rumors about her in an article written by Jimmie — oops, make that James –– Fidler:

silver screen august 1934a
silver screen august 1934b

A thoughtful entry from Francis (now I’m going to have to check on White Sox rosters of the early to mid-’30s to guess which player was romantically linked with her!), and I’m confident, judging from its tone, that it emanates from her own pen (or typewriter). Of course, based upon Kay’s diaries — which have been the basis for at least one biography in recent years — there may have been rumors about her that no fan magazine of the time would touch.

Francis was among the tallest of ’30s actresses, measuring between 5’7″ and 5’9″; that’s fairly well-known. But one of her contemporaries, Loretta Young, was nearly as tall (family members say 5’7″, while the Internet Movie Database lists her at 5’6″) — though few think of her that way. Perhaps it was because, according to relatives, she didn’t reach her full adult stature until age 21 (which means she literally grew up on screen before the public’s eyes). Here, at about the time she finished growing, is a story on the ethereal actress called “Sparkling Loretta”:

silver screen august 1934c
silver screen august 1934d
silver screen august 1934e
silver screen august 1934f

And “little sister” Georgiana mentioned above? She wound up not so little, topping out at about six feet and emphasizing modeling rather than acting until marrying Ricardo Montalban.

In a recent entry regarding a Silver Screen issue, I saw a reference to an “Ernest Lubitsch” and assumed it merely was a copy editor’s mistake, but I now guess I was wrong. Instead, it appears “Ernest” was this magazine’s equivalent of Picture Play’s incessant description of Lombard as “Carol” as late as the start of 1937 (it’s even part of the headline, although “Ernst” pops in to open a later paragraph). Forget the affectation and read the story, where the acclaimed director tries to define what makes a star a star:

silver screen august 1934g
silver screen august 1934h
silver screen august 1934i

The issue has some lovely fashion shots, too. Here’s Myrna Loy modeling for a Clarence Sinclair Bull portrait:

silver screen august 1934n

And George Hurrell works his photographic magic on one of his favorite subjects, Joan Crawford:

silver screen august 1934o

Like several films at about the time the Code was tightened in mid-1934, “Sacred And Profane Love” had its title changed to the safer “Chained.”

Finally, let’s look at a few of the ads in this issue. Lux popped up frequently in fan mags, and here, the spokeswoman for the soap is none other than the lovely Joan Blondell:

silver screen august 1934j

Paramount pulled out all the stops for “The Scarlet Empress,” the latest Dietrich vehicle, going so far as to shell out a few bucks for spot color (scarlet, of course):

silver screen august 1934l

And Darryl F. Zanuck’s 20th Century studio, a year away from consolidating with Fox, publicized “Bulldog Drummond Strikes Back,” with Ronald Colman and Loretta, a frequent Zanuck leading lady:

silver screen august 1934m

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Posted December 22, 2013 by vp19 in Uncategorized