Looking back: January 1934   Leave a comment

Posted by vp19 on 2014.01.29 at 00:00
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carole lombard george raft 01 leroy prinz

Carole Lombard was close to finishing “Bolero” when 1933 concluded (she and George Raft here get instructions from Paramount choreographer Leroy Prinz), little knowing come midnight on New Year’s Eve that 1934 would be the most tumultuous year of her life to date, filled with both the heights of professional glory and the depths of personal tragedy.

She apparently had New Year’s Eve dinner at Elizabeth Stack’s house (I believe that was Robert Stack’s mother), where she looked stunning according to Louella Parsons in her Hearst column, which ran Jan. 1 in the San Antonio Light:

carole lombard 010134a san antonio light

While “Bolero” was about ready to wrap up, several other Lombard films were making the rounds of the hinterlands — such as “From Hell To Heaven” from early 1933, only now playing the Ideal Theater in Corsicana, Texas, according to that town’s Daily Sun:

carole lombard 010334 corsicana daily sun

Casting was volatile throughout the industry at the start of 1934, and on the 6th, the Reno Evening Gazette reported Carole would be the female lead in “The Man Who Broke His Heart”:

carole lombard 010634 reno evening gazette

The following day, the Zanesville (Ohio) Times-Signal identified another cast member:

carole lombard 010734 zanesville times-signal

But she never appeared in that film, nor would that be its finished title. We learned of Lombard’s replacement (Carole apparently had been set to replace Mae Clarke, who got an MGM assignment) in the Jan. 10 Hagerstown (Md.) Daily Mail...

carole lombard 011034b hagerstown daily mail

…and “The Man Who Broke His Heart” would wind up as “Wharf Angel.” That “newcomer,” Dorothy Dell, would be one of the tragedies of 1934, dying in a car accident that summer at age 19.

Loanouts were becoming commonplace as 1934 began, and Carole was readying for one at Columbia, where she had already made three films, or so wrote theMansfield (Ohio) News-Journal on Jan. 3. (Of course, “Night Bus” — that Capra movie with Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert — was about to be renamed “It Happened One Night,” en route to making Hollywood history.

carole lombard 010334a mansfield news-journal

But what would that Lombard movie be? The Jan. 10 edition of Hagerstown’s other paper, the Morning Herald, said it would be something called “Sonata”…

carole lombard 011034 hagerstown herald-mail

…but that day’s Syracuse Herald begged to differ, saying Carole was one of two candidates to play opposite John Barrymore in “Twentieth Century”:

carole lombard 011034 syracuse herald

Louella provided the answer in the Jan. 12 San Antonio Light, and aside from a title change for “Sonata” (it was renamed “Sisters Under The Skin” and released that April), she was on target (and wouldn’t you have loved to have attended that Screen Actors Guild ball?):

carole lombard 011234 san antonio light

The timing of these assignments paid off — much to Lombard’s delight, as the Mansfield paper reported on Jan. 13:

carole lombard 011334 mansfield news-journal

And indeed it would be “just about the best break in pictures that Carole has had.”

What about that Katya Sergava, her supposed rival for the part? Sergava, a native of Russia born in 1910, was a one-time ballerina who appeared in a handful of ’30s films, and in 1943 appeared in the dream ballet sequence in the original Broadway run of “Oklahoma!” Sergava remained in New York, occasionally acted on TV shows based there, and died in November 2005. (Two years earlier, an erroneous obituary ran in the Daily Telegraph of London, and the New York Timescopied it without researching — much to the delight of the rival New York Post.)

Winning the female lead for “Twentieth Century” undoubtedly was the biggest Lombard news for January 1934, but there were a few other items of note to accompany this Max Factor ad from the Jan. 29 Lowell (Mass.) Sun:

carole lombard 012934 lowell sun

During that month, Paramount fashion maven Travis Banton traveled to New York and apparently held a press conference; it resulted in at least two stories where Carole was mentioned, first in the Jan. 21 Oakland Tribune...

carole lombard 012134a oakland tribune

…while a slightly different story ran in the Jan. 30 Helena (Mont.) Daily Independent:

carole lombard 013034 helena daily independent

That same day, the Hammond Times in Indiana ran a piece where the eyes have it — six pairs, in fact, including Lombard’s, in a feature on eyebrows:

carole lombard 013034 hammond times

I’m guessing this was a Paramount news release, since all six actresses listed were under contract there.

Lombard’s laugh was lauded, along with that of a few other stars, in the Jan. 28 Zanesville paper:

carole lombard 012834b zanesville times-signal

Here’s an odd one, from the Jan. 21 Burlington (N.C.) Daily Times News. The item connects Lombard with a fellow Paramount star whom she’s rarely associated with — in fact, I’ve never read of any tie-in between them at all:

carole lombard 012134a burlington daily times news

Perhaps Carole was thankful to Mae West for keeping Paramount afloat during the darkest days of the Depression. (Save for Marlene Dietrich, West rarely socialized with her fellow actresses at the studio.)

Maybe Mae never came by Lombard’s dressing room, but plenty of others did, according to this item from the Jan. 29 Edwardsville (Ill.) Intelligencer:

carole lombard 012934 edwardsville intelligencer

In early ’34, Carole was socially seen with Raft, Russ Columbo (according to Parsons in the Jan. 10 San Antonio Light)…

carole lombard 011034 san antonio light

…and was even occasionally squired by her ex, William Powell — or at least that’s what was written in the Jan. 26 Lawrence Journal World by Richard Doan, a former University of Kansas student residing in the film capital:

carole lombard 012634a lawrence journal world

Apparently Doan didn’t make much of an impact in Hollywood, as he has no listing in the Internet Movie Database.

Finally, remember a few years ago, when we ran a 1933 ad which used this pose of Lombard:

carole lombard 060833a oakland tribune

Well, Walter Winchell’s column (here from the Jan. 31 Wisconsin State Journal of Madison) reported Carole had some regrets about agreeing to appear in that ad, and said she no longer would endorse products:

carole lombard 013134 wisconsin state journal

How long did that policy last? Not very; this ran Feb. 21 in the Baltimore Sun:

carole lombard lux ad 022134a baltimore sun

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Posted January 29, 2014 by vp19 in Uncategorized

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