Archive for January 2014

Having a heat wave? So what — LA’s on ice!   Leave a comment

Posted by vp19 on 2014.01.24 at 00:59
Current mood: excitedexcited

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A question: If Carole Lombard were alive today, would she be a sports fan? (By “alive,” I mean being around in 2014 at roughly the same age she was in her prime, in other words born sometime during the 1980s. The Lombard born in 1908 would be 105 today, and even her incredible energy probably would have waned by now. Heck, she might have forgiven 104-year-old Luise Rainer for beating her out for the best actress Oscar in 1936.)

I ask the sports fan question because it leads to another one: Did Lombard ever see a hockey game? We know she loved baseball, boxing and college football, played sandlot ball in her youth, took part in basketball, track and volleyball in school, and as an adult regularly swam and played tennis (and perhaps golf to a lesser extent). But hockey (the ice variety)? The jury is out. Some say Carole was returning from a hockey game with her beau when she was in the auto accident that led to surgery and Fox canceling her contract; others claim the event was basketball. The answer is as unclear as the precise date of the accident.

But let’s assume our hypothetical, modern-day Lombard was a sports fan in her beloved Los Angeles. (In today’s entertainment landscape, if this Carole were an actress, she might be on a sitcom instead of in films, given how relatively few good movie roles there are for women. But that’s another topic for another time.) There’s a good chance that she would be at a baseball stadium tomorrow night — but if she were of sufficient celebrity stature today, instead of throwing out the first ball, as above, she might drop the first puck.

That’s because Dodger Stadium is about to host one of the most unusual events in its 52-year history…an NHL game. As Jack Paar would have said, I kid you not. Saturday, the Los Angeles Kings will take on their arch-rivals, the Anaheim Ducks, as outdoor hockey makes its way to southern California. Center ice is roughly at the spot occupied by second base from April to September (and, if the Dodgers’ mega-budget comes through, perhaps this October as well).

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Wait, you say. Hasn’t it been a very warm — heck, hot –– January in Los Angeles? How could an endeavor such as this actually take place without it becoming an aesthetic embarrassment? The answer, of course, lies in technology.

Advanced refrigeration techniques — not to mention an insulated, heat-reflecting Mylar blanket that covers the rink during the day — make it possibly to play hockey at Chavez Ravine…especially since the game will be played at night (face-off is slated for 7:15 p.m. PT), and by then the temperature in the stadium should be about 60 degrees. Not frigid for the fans, as it’s roughly the same temp as most indoor NHL rinks, but cold enough to make the ice surface stand up. With help from a Zamboni between periods, of course. Here’s how Dodger Stadium, hockey-style, looks at night:

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You can watch time-lapse photography of the rink installation at

Both teams will work out on the rink today, a day after the first leg of their home-and-home series at the Honda Center in Anaheim. (That game was won by the Ducks, 2-1.) It should be a good contest, not only because of the rivalry but since they are two of the NHL’s stronger teams. Anaheim leads the Pacific Division, and its 81 points are most in the league. Los Angeles is third in the division and is arguably the NHL’s best defensive team.

Hockey in southern California hasn’t always had this high a profile. Over the years, L.A. had teams in some western minor leagues, but didn’t get a taste of the NHL until the Kings were formed as part of the 1967-68 six-team expansion that doubled the league’s size. And for most of their first two decades, few outside a devoted core partook of Los Angeles hockey. But that all changed in 1988.

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That August, the Kings acquired Wayne Gretzky from the Edmonton Oilers, whom he had led to four Stanley Cups. Suddenly, Los Angeles hockey had star power, and the area responded. While the Gretzky-era Kings never won the Cup, he made them a hot ticket…and over in Anaheim, the Walt Disney Company responded by getting an expansion franchise in the early ’90s and naming them the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim, after a popular Disney hockey movie. (The “Mighty” later was dropped when the franchise was sold and de-Disneyfied.)

Both franchises gradually have built solid followings, and each has claimed pro hockey’s highest honor. The Ducks won the Cup in 2007, while the Kings finally won theirs in 2012. And our latter-day Lombard probably would have remembered both local triumphs.

Saturday’s game will also feature some uniquely L.A. touches, as KISS will perform and beach volleyball will be set up near the left-field bleachers. Those of you in the U.S. can see the Kings and Ducks on the NBC Sports Network at 9:30 p.m. (Eastern).

By the way, the home of the East Coast’s wealthiest MLB franchise — New York’s Yankee Stadium — is to be the site of two outdoor games within the next few days, as the New York Rangers battle each of their metropolitan rivals. On Sunday, the New Jersey Devils invade the Bronx, while on Wednesday, the latest installment of the Rangers-New York Islanders battle takes place.

Outdoor hockey continues to be popular. Next year’s NHL Winter Classic will take place in Washington, probably at Nationals Park. And I’m certain my friend Carole Sampeck of The Lombard Archive would be thrilled to see her Dallas Stars play an outdoor game at the Cotton Bowl or Rangers Ballpark someday.

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Posted January 24, 2014 by vp19 in Uncategorized

Time to engage in some ‘Shadoplay’   Leave a comment

Posted by vp19 on 2014.01.23 at 00:57
Current mood: nostalgicnostalgic

carole lombard shadoplay september 1934 cover large

Shadoplay, the budget subsidiary to the far more successful Photoplay, wasn’t too much longer for this world when Carole Lombard and Gary Cooper graced the cover of its September 1934 issue. The magazine ended its run the following year, having made little impact either editorially or on the newsstand.

This issue currently is available on eBay, and the seller not only provided prospective buyers with the cover, but a glimpse of what was inside. See that headline at the bottom of the cover — “Hollywood’s Happiest Woman”? Well, it doesn’t refer to Lombard, but to another popular blonde beauty, hard-working Warners mainstay Joan Blondell:

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On the other hand, there was a sad story on teenage Paramount starlet Dorothy Dell, who had died in an auto accident in June. (Lombard replaced her as the female lead in “Now And Forever,” with Cooper and Shirley Temple.)

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There’s plenty of other intriguing material in this issue, from a portrait of Madge Evans to ads from Max Factor (with Jean Harlow) and Lux (with Dorothy Jordan) to studio ads hyping “Chained,” “Dames” and “Imitation Of Life”:

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Oh, you say you’ve never heard of that Harlow film “Born To Be Kissed”? That’s because MGM changed the title to “The Girl From Missouri” after the Production Code was more strictly enforced in mid-1934.

The seller writes the issue “is in really good condition. no tears or major wear. All pages are in good condition with very little discoloration.”

Bids begin at $40 for this magazine. with bidding scheduled to end at 6:38 p.m. (Eastern) Saturday. Think you’d like to add this to your collection? You can bid, or find out more, by going to

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Posted January 23, 2014 by vp19 in Uncategorized

Hurrell returns to Laguna, thanks to his biographer   Leave a comment

Posted by vp19 on 2014.01.22 at 18:54
Current mood: artisticartistic

carole lombard george hurrell 09b front

The man who took that portrait of Carole Lombard was George Hurrell, whose iconic photography continues influencing style more than eight decades after he began working with Hollywood legends. And if you’re in southern California, tomorrow night in Laguna Beach you can meet his biographer, learn more about Hurrell and purchase an autographed copy of that universally-acclaimed biography, “George Hurrell’s Hollywood: Glamour Portraits 1925-1992”:

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(It’s a hefty tome, holding hundreds of Hurrell portraits.)

Mark A. Vieira will appear at the Laguna Art Museum at 7 p.m. Thursday; admission is free, but reservations are required (find out the particulars at Last year, the museum hosted a Hurrell exhibit…

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…which was appropriate since the photographer lived for much of the 1920s in the fabled art colony.

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Vieira will sign copies of his book and give a talk on Hurrell’s life and career. The photographer rose to prominence in the 1930s, taking portraits of Lombard, Joan Crawford…

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…Myrna Loy…

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…Marion Davies…

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…Loretta Young…

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…and so many more.

But as Hollywood styles changed and glamour was de-emphasized, Hurrell faded from prominence after World War II, retreating to commercial photography, only to be rediscovered in the 1970s — while he not only was still around to enjoy it, but could capitalize on it through portraits of latter-day stars such as Farrah Fawcett…

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…and Paul McCartney…

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…before Hurrell’s death in 1992.

Vieira knows of what he writes, since he worked with the master for many of those later years:

george hurrell mark a vieira 00a

This event should be worth a visit for anyone interested in classic Hollywood glamour photography — which, given the nature of this site, probably includes most of you.

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Posted January 22, 2014 by vp19 in Uncategorized

‘Film Pictorial’ annual, 1937: Learning a secret of loveliness   Leave a comment

Posted by vp19 on 2014.01.21 at 07:47
Current mood: mellowmellow

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We fast-forward our look at Carole Lombard in annuals from the British magazine Film Pictorial to 1937, by which time she’d progressed to full-fledged worldwide stardom. But she remained a symbol of Hollywood at its most fashionable and as such was a sought-after style authority. More samples of that follow, thanks again to Ewa Szymańska.

First, she was cited among seven stars with tips to tell (including Claudette Colbert, Marlene Dietrich, Myrna Loy and Ginger Rogers) in “Screen Beauties Unveil the Secrets of Loveliness”:

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What secret was Carole to unveil? Clothes, specifically smart ones, befitting Lombard’s status as one of the best-dressed women on the screen. She gives some common-sense advice, then backs it up with some visual samples of her cinematic wardrobe:

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I’m guessing someone at either Film Pictorial or Paramount’s British office wrote the copy in Carole’s “voice.” Though Lombard had worked with plenty of Britons and probably was aware of at least a few idiosyncrasies of UK speech, I can’t imagine she would have come up with the phrase “A plain black evening gown is worth pounds to your wardrobe”; after all, “pounds” (in the weighty sense) would be among the last things she would want to add to her sleek appearance.

Whatever, I’m certain many English roses looked over the copy and learned from Lombard.

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Posted January 21, 2014 by vp19 in Uncategorized

‘Film Pictorial’ annual, 1935: Glorify yourself!   Leave a comment

Posted by vp19 on 2014.01.20 at 08:55
Current mood: gratefulgrateful

carole lombard film pictorial 022732a uk

Carole Lombard looked rather glorious decorating the pages of Film Pictorial in its Feb. 27, 1932 issue (even if she was wrongly identified as having a real name of “Carol June Peters”), so it should be no surprise that the British publication used her as an example when it ran a segment called “‘Glorifying’ Secrets from the Stars” in its annual some three years later. And we have the feature — or at least the first two pages, which include Carole — courtesy of Ewa Szymańska:

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The portion we have also features tips from Kay Francis, Anna Sten, Jean Harlow and Frances Dee, pretty good company to be in. Here’s Carole’s contribution:

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Much of what she says remains good advice nearly 80 years later. (And she illustrated tips on hair in yesterday’s entry.)

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Posted January 20, 2014 by vp19 in Uncategorized

‘Film Pictorial’ annual, 1935: Who’s the fairest hair of all?   Leave a comment

Posted by vp19 on 2014.01.19 at 17:40
Current mood: artisticartistic

carole lombard p1202-459bCarole Lombard wasn’t always blonde throughout her two decades or so on film, but it’s the hair shade most associated with her. And how she styled those blonde locks became the subject of a feature that ran in the 1935 annual of the British magazine Film Pictorial, part of a series we’ll be running the next few days.

I thank Ewa Szymańska of Poland for forwarding me these UK Lombard scans, and think you’ll find them every bit as delightful as I did.

The ’35 annual ran a two-page spread on Hollywood hair. The first page largely concentrated on dark-haired damsels, typified by Dolores Del Rio…

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…but the focus of the facing page was on the fair-haired flock, represented by Lombard. Blondes could examine how Carole tailored her hair for five specific situations:

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I’m certain many of you are fans of animation; some here who are senior citizens may have first seen cartoons on the big screen, while younger folks probably were first exposed to such work on TV, either after school or on Saturday morning. (In my youth, I became an avid fan of the Fleischer Popeye cartoons of the 1930s, with their clever storylines and brilliant black and white artwork.) The best theatrical cartoons appealed to people of all ages, and much of that spirit was revived in the 1990s through Warners animation. For several years, the studio created characters and cartoons that compared favorably to Warners golden age stars such as Bugs Bunny, Porky Pig, Daffy Duck et al. My favorite Warners characters of the ’90s were the Animaniacs — the siblings Yakko, Wakko and Dot Warner, whose home was the Warners water tower in Burbank; they caused all sorts of mayhem whenever they escaped. The episodes were chock full of in-jokes, puns and brilliant writing that made them beloved by both adults and children. Here’s a perfect example of what “Animaniacs” was all about — a witty film noir parody called “This Pun For Hire,” where the Warners play ’40s detectives on a shadowy case. Film buffs will delight in the inside jokes and double entendres.

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Posted January 19, 2014 by vp19 in Uncategorized

‘Picture Play,’ April 1938: ‘Fools’ on the set   Leave a comment

Posted by vp19 on 2014.01.18 at 16:32
Current mood: nostalgicnostalgic

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Carole Lombard had a pretty good batting average where her films was concerned, but if she didn’t strike out on “Fools For Scandal,” she managed no more than a weak infield popup. She looked gorgeous, but had absolutely no chemistry with leading man Fernand Gravet, was saddled with a meandering script, and discovered to her dismay that Warners, the studio making the film, had no feel whatsoever for screwball comedy. Put them all together, and even an array of talented supporting actors couldn’t come to Carole’s rescue.

The moviegoing public wouldn’t see the disappointing finished product until mid-to-late April, but in that month’s issue of Picture Play, it got to see Lombard and company cavort on set…

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…and read about the behind-the-scenes action as part of a studio roundup:

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I apologize for the archaic, patronizing racial reference in the description of “Jezebel,’ but such were attitudes on those matters more than 75 years ago.

Here’s the part of the column dealing with “Fools For Scandal”:

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I had never read anything about the relationship between Lombard and Marie Wilson, and I’m pleased to learn it was a good one despite the relative mediocrity of this picture. Wilson would reach full stardom following World War II through the series “My Friend Irma” — where she played the scatterbrained blonde of the title — on radio, television and the movies. This issue showed Marie in an uncharacteristic glamour shot, not long before her breakthrough film role in “Boy Meets Girl”:

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Carole also was featured as part of a story by Edwin Schallert (longtime Los Angeles Times entertainment writer, and veteran actor William Schallert’s father) about star salaries. According to this article, at this stage of her career Lombard was making about $10,000 a week, roughly the same as Clark Gable, the star she was romancing. (Her money came in handy, as she paid for most of the Encino ranch they would move into after their marriage the following year, as Clark had to use most of his funds to pay for his divorce from Ria Langham.)

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Oh, and from the “you can’t please everyone” department, a letter from “Helen,” a sales clerk at a Los Angeles store whose vitriol cuts many a star down to size — and after reading this, Lombard must have felt a few feet smaller:

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If it was any solace to Carole (who was deemed “ratty looking” and “she isn’t a marvelous person at all”), she wasn’t the only target. Katharine Hepburn: “very unpleasant to wait on.” Joan Blondell: “looks like she always needed to wash her neck.” Constance Bennett: “I’d rather see the devil himself coming into the store than Miss Bennett.” Perhaps this was a generational thing, because Helen praised Marion Davies and noted she had seen her in the Ziegfeld Follies…which had last occurred two decades earlier.

The cover subject that month was Ginger Rogers, making a mere $5,000 per week, according to Schallert — but cinematically at least, Ginger had a better 1938 than Carole:

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And inside was a portrait of Myrna Loy, whose pittance of a $3,500 weekly salary was dwarfed by both Rogers and Lombard:

myrna loy picture play april 1938a

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Posted January 18, 2014 by vp19 in Uncategorized