Archive for April 2014

‘Fools’ in linen   Leave a comment

Posted by vp19 on 2014.04.30 at 08:56
Current mood: artisticartistic

carole lombard fools for scandal 24aCarole Lombard may have been shown laughing on the set of “Fools For Scandal,” but it’s safe to say she wasn’t doing much of it when the reviews and box-office reports came in. Arguably the hottest actress in the industry at the start of 1938, her lone film for Warners proved both an aesthetic and commercial disappointment, and it probably led Lombard to eschew screen comedy for nearly three years.

That really doesn’t concern memorabilia collectors more than 75 years after the movie’s release, and six, count ’em, six, vintage lobby cards — all with a linen finish — are at auction at eBay.

None will come cheaply; the lowest-priced card has an opening bid of a mere $169.99…

carole lombard fools for scandal lobby card 05a

…while at the other end of the spectrum, bidding on these two begins at $249.99:

carole lombard fools for scandal lobby card 03a
carole lombard fools for scandal lobby card 06a

The other three all have a starting bid of $229.99:

carole lombard fools for scandal lobby card 01a
carole lombard fools for scandal lobby card 02a
carole lombard fools for scandal lobby card 04a

All are in at least very good condition, aside from some darkening apparently indicative of Warners linen-backed lobby cards of the era. Bidding on all six ends between 10:16 and 10:48 p.m. (Eastern) on Tuesday. To see all six or learn more, visit

To close today’s entry, a salute to fools…”Fools In Love,” that is. One of the highlights from Joe Jackson’s first album, “Look Sharp!” (it should have been his follow-up single to “Is She Really Going Out With Him?”), here’s Joe and his band performing it from March 1980 at the fabled Rockpalast in Cologne, West Germany:

Posted April 30, 2014 by vp19 in Uncategorized

Looking back: April 1934   Leave a comment

Posted by vp19 on 2014.04.29 at 09:29
Current mood: contemplativecontemplative

carole lombard 042734 altoona tribune

“We’re Not Dressing” was the latest Carole Lombard film sweeping the country in April 1934, though that promotional photo above clearly is not a scene from the movie, no matter what the April 27 Altoona Mirror would have you think. (That befuddled image of Bing Crosby, holding the neck of a guitar Lombard obviously isn’t playing, calls to mind his priestly roles of a decade later.)

That day, the Syracuse Herald ran an ad for the film, playing at the Paramount Theater downtown:

carole lombard 042734a syracuse herald

(“Bing introduces new love songs and a new love-making technique!” Even in the pre-Code era, audiences didn’t expect too much. Actually, if I could travel back in time some 80 years, I’d probably head over to the Acme to see the long-lost “Convention City,” a pre-Code holy grail.)

Also on that page was this Lombard anecdote:

carole lombard 042734 syracuse herald

(Back in the silent day, she’d been a leading lady for Buck Jones’ quickie westerns, not those of Tom Mix.)

Actually, much of Carole’s time that month was spent in radio studios, not those of motion pictures, though all three of her appearances were movie-related. (Transcontinental radio hookups were relatively rare in 1934 because line costs were prohibitive; that would change soon, and Hollywood exploded into a broadcast center.) On April 2, she was on CBS with Crosby, a show broadcast at 8:30 p.m. over WJAS in Pittsburgh and listed in that day’s Uniontown News Standard:

carole lombard 040234 uniontown evening standard

The following Sunday, she appeared on NBC, including its powerful New York flagship WEAF, alongside John Barrymore (more on that later). It was noted as a highlight of the broadcast day in the April 8 Brooklyn Eagle (a newspaper where my grandfather once was a reporter):

carole lombard 040834 brooklyn eagle

Carole was so in a hurry to work with Barrymore that she ran afoul of the law, according to the April 9 Ogden (Utah) Standard-Examiner:

carole lombard 040934 ogden standard-examinercarole lombard 040934a ogden standard-examiner

And on April 25, she was heard on another CBS hookup, this time with vaunted gossip doyenne Louella Parsons. The show’s sponsor, a foundations company, ran ads across the country similar to this one that ran in the April 24 Oakland Tribune:

carole lombard 042434 oakland tribune

We have no recording or transcript of the broadcast (it may well have been scripted, as often was the case for interview programs at that time), but Louella may well have asked Lombard about her vacation…if she indeed had taken one. According to Parsons’ Hearst column that ran in the April 9 non-HearstFresno Bee, Carole was about to embark on one:

carole lombard 040934 fresno beecarole lombard 040934a fresno bee

(Marion Davies as a mulatto? Must have been shooting “Operator 13.” And Louella certainly wasn’t going to skip coverage of her boss’s honey.)

As usual, there was lots of newspaper talk about upcoming Lombard film projects. One of them was noted by Parsons herself in the April 4 Reading (Pa.)Times:

carole lombard 040434 reading timescarole lombard 040434a reading times

The following day, the Syracuse Herald’s film writer explained the situation in a bit more detail:

carole lombard 040534 syracuse herald

Paramount WAMPAS “baby stars” vs. Fox “screen debutantes”? With Alice Faye and Claire Trevor, it appears Fox had the better bunch. This may explain why this was the final year for the “baby star” concept; there was no “kiss and make up” where WAMPAS was concerned.

And while Lombard was to report to Paramount for wardrobe fittings for the film, according to the April 8 Lincoln Star...

carole lombard 040834 lincoln star

…there ultimately would be no “Kiss And Make Up” in her future, as we learned on April 22 in the Zanesville (Ohio) Signal:

carole lombard 042234 zanesville signal

Or “Deep Night,” either.

carole lombard 041634 huntingdon daily news

Lombard and Russ Columbo were a hot item in April 1934, as this pic from the April 16 Huntingdon (Pa.) Daily News indicates, and in fact they were witness to a fire earlier that month…or what was left of one, as Parsons reported in the April 3 Reading Times:

carole lombard 040334 reading timescarole lombard 040334a reading times

The Ice Palace was at the corner of Vermont and Melrose. A new ice facility, the Polar Palace, was built in Hollywood and it too was destroyed by fire in May 1963.

Some other Carole odds and ends from the month. She was part of two movie comic panel columns, first in the April 2 Rhinelander (Wis.) Daily News (where we discover her good friend Kay Francis — known for portraying fast women — had been, like Lombard, a track star in her youth):

carole lombard 040234 rhindelander daily news

The next ran April 9 in the Lincoln Evening Journal, when we learn about Lombard’s backside getting a literally icy reception:

carole lombard 040934 lincoln evening journal

The April 9 Lowell Sun listed Lombard among the best-dressed actresses in Hollywood, but a survey of filmland designers gave top honors to Norma Shearer:

carole lombard 040934 lowell sun

We mentioned “We’re Not Dressing” at the top of this entry. Carole, who had already gained a reputation in the industry for knowing scripts, helped suggest some dialogue changes, the Syracuse Herald reported on April 29:

carole lombard 042934 syracuse herald

Nevertheless, the film was coolly received on April 30 by the reviewer for the Wisconsin State Journal in Madison:

carole lombard 043034a wisconsin state journalcarole lombard 043034b wisconsin state journal

“…one of the most inexpressive blondes of the screen today”? Ouch!

Carole likely would have been happier seeing this review of her newest film, “Twentieth Century,” that ran in the April 27 Emporia Gazette in Kansas (the newspaper whose longtime editor was the esteemed journalist William Allen White). But since this was a syndicated piece from Robbin Coons, Lombard probably did see it…and so did readers if they weren’t distracted by the ad for “scanties”:

carole lombard 042734 emporia gazette

“Twentieth Century” signaled the Lombard of the future — and most of the world would glimpse that future beginning in May.

Posted April 29, 2014 by vp19 in Uncategorized

A display of British ‘Virtue’   Leave a comment

Posted by vp19 on 2014.04.28 at 20:06
Current mood: pleasedpleased

carole lombard virtue 02c

“Virtue,” one of several Carole Lombard films whose reputations have risen in recent years, is crossing the Atlantic next month to be part of a special retrospective by the British Film Institute.

The BFI is holding a 21-film festival, “Hollywood Babylon: Early Talkies Before the Censor,” during May, and “Virtue” is included, part of a twin-bill with Miriam Hopkins’ raunchy “The Story Of Temple Drake” (an adaptation of William Faulkner’s “Sanctuary”). Of “Virtue,” the BFI writes that “Lombard was famous as a radiant comedienne [when this film was released in 1932, she was best known for her beauty, not for any particular form of acting], but with a smart and snappy script — by Frank Capra-collaborator [and Lombard romancer] Robert Riskin — ‘Virtue’ reveals her as a fine dramatic actress.” (Both the movie and Carole’s performance received generally positive reviews at the time it came out, but it caused no immediate change in her career.)

Here’s the complete brochure detailing this retrospective; as you see, Lombard and “Virtue” are in good company:

carole lombard bfi hollywood babylon 00
carole lombard bfi hollywood babylon 01
carole lombard bfi hollywood babylon 02
carole lombard bfi hollywood babylon 03
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Some appropriate double-bills (“Jewel Robbery” and “Trouble In Paradise”; “Night Nurse” and “Baby Face”; “Employees’ Entrance” and “Taxi!”). If you’re a classic film fan who’ll be in London during May, this event is a must-see. Get more information at

Posted April 28, 2014 by vp19 in Uncategorized

‘Screen Play,’ February 1935: Now we know everything   Leave a comment

Posted by vp19 on 2014.04.27 at 21:21
Current mood: jubilantjubilant

carole lombard screen play february 1935a cover

Slightly more than four years ago, we ran an entry about the February 1935 issue of Screen Play, featuring the story, “What Carole Lombard Knows About Men”…or at least most of it ( Like a cliffhanger, we were kept in suspense, because we had the first two pages of the article, and it featured at least three. Moreover, Screen Play is not one of the classic-era fan magazines that the Media History Digital Library has digitized and posted online.

But, as veteran radio newscaster Gabriel Heatter used to say, there’s good news tonight. I have purchased the February 1935 Screen Play, and now we’ll know all of what Carole was talking about — and in larger and easier-to-read print, too. So here it is, finally in its entirety:

carole lombard screen play february 1935ba
carole lombard screen play february 1935ca
carole lombard screen play february 1935db

I sense the author, Sonia Lee, discussed the topic with Lombard, and then Carole — either by herself or with the help of business friend Madalynne Fields or someone in Paramount’s publicity office — composed a response (because with its long comments, it certainly doesn’t read like an actual one-to-one interview). Nevertheless, it’s attributed to Lombard, and I’m certain she stood by what it said; by 1930s standards, she was very much a feminist.

There was more of Carole in that issue, such as two blurbs in the gossip column “Hollywood Reporter” (no relation to the trade paper of the same name), written by western editor J. Eugene Chrisman:

carole lombard screen play february 1935eb
carole lombard screen play february 1935fb

That latter story (if it actually happened) sounds like typical impulsive Lombard.

Editor Roscoe Fawcett of the publishing family added his two cents in “The Editor’s Opinion”:

carole lombard screen play february 1935ga

Here’s his Lombard-related segment:

carole lombard screen play february 1935gb

Rudy Vallee was smart to include Ann Dvorak on that list, because she was his leading lady in his upcoming movie, “Sweet Music,” released in late February.

Lombard’s lone film for MGM, “The Gay Bride,” still was making the rounds of theaters, and was among the features that had previously been reviewed in Screen Play:

carole lombard screen play february 1935ha
carole lombard screen play february 1935hb

The other story mentioned on the cover, about Claudette Colbert, is shown here in full:

screen play february 1935a
screen play february 1935b
screen play february 1935c

One of the copy editors made a goof on the first page; Claudette’s forthcoming film was “The Gilded Lily,” not “The Gilded Lady.”

Finally, a few ads for studio releases. As usual, MGM gets prime position (and spot color) to promote “Sequoia,” which it hoped would make a star of Jean Parker. She would have some success, but never quite ascend to the top tier:

screen play february 1935d

An actress who certainly did ascend co-stars with Paul Muni in Warners’ “Bordertown.” (I believe I’ve read that at one time, Lombard was considered for the Davis role.)

screen play february 1935e

The fast-rising Shirley Temple already was a meal ticket for Fox before its merger with Darryl F. Zanuck’s Twentieth Century Pictures, as this ad for “Bright Eyes” shows:

screen play february 1935f

And since this issue hit newsstands in early January, what better time to suggest riding Greyhound to escape old man winter? (This is from the inside back cover.)

screen play february 1935g

Posted April 27, 2014 by vp19 in Uncategorized

A spokeswoman for ‘Silver’   Leave a comment

Posted by vp19 on 2014.04.26 at 23:45
Current mood: creativecreative

carole lombard 1940 cbs largest

By 1940, Carole Lombard had become extremely comfortable in radio, regularly appearing on network programs to augment her considerable movie income. And that spring, Carole — twice a bride — became associated with a company whose items had become a popular wedding gift…1847 Rogers Bros., which billed itself as “America’s Foremost Silverplate.”

carole lombard 1847 rogers bros. ad 02a

That ad ran in Life magazine in May 1940, part of a campaign by the firm to promote its new summer radio program, a successor to “Silver Theater,” which Lombard had appeared on several times (including the season’s final two episodes, as this log notes):

carole lombard silver theater log 1940

The company made Carole its centerpiece for this campaign, including a stunning image of her on the brochure’s cover:

carole lombard silver theater promotion 00a

Inside, it promoted Lombard and other star spokespersons for 1847 Rogers Bros. (including Ginger Rogers, who probably wasn’t related to any of the brothers):

carole lombard silver theater promotion 04a

And look at the way it describes her — “clever as well as lovely”:

carole lombard silver theater promotion 06

The company suggested marketing ideas for merchants…

carole lombard silver theater promotion 01a
carole lombard silver theater promotion 03a

…and noted it would air on many high-powered CBS stations, including the likes of WJR in Detroit, KMOX in St. Louis and WHAS in Louisville:

carole lombard silver theater promotion 07

(Note that only stations in the Eastern and Central time zones were listed. Was the program carried in the Rockies and on the West Coast?)

This Lombard rarity is both beautiful and big (13″ x 18″); the seller says it’s in very good condition aside from a horizontal crease (it had been mailed to a store in East Liverpool, Ohio). The opening bid is $12, and the auction is set to end at 1:09 p.m. (Eastern) Friday. Interested in making it yours? Then go to to find out more.

Posted April 26, 2014 by vp19 in Uncategorized

An abridged ‘Diary’   Leave a comment

Posted by vp19 on 2014.04.25 at 23:19
Current mood: artisticartistic

carole lombard my man godfrey 059a

“My Man Godfrey,” perhaps Carole Lombard’s greatest comedic performance, was a huge hit for Universal in the fall of 1936 — and one of the reasons for its success was some clever marketing from the studio. Among its gimmicks was a 3″ x 4″, 12-page booklet called “Diary Of A Debutante (mostly concerning her butler),” providing the inner thoughts of Carole’s character, socialite Irene Bullock, regarding William Powell’s character, Godfrey (

The front and back covers and two inside pages were borrowed for a herald promoting the movie, and it’s now available at eBay:

carole lombard my man godfrey herald 04a front
carole lombard my man godfrey herald 04a back

It measures 4″ x 6″ and is in good condition. Bids begin at $9, and the auction ends at 1:23 p.m. (Eastern) next Friday. Interested? Then go to

And what about the full “diary”? It’s still available, too. At one time the seller was asking $3,500 for this rarity; the opening bid on this item since has been whittled to $500. Learn more about it

Posted April 25, 2014 by vp19 in Uncategorized

A voyage to ‘Screenland,’ 1930   Leave a comment

Posted by vp19 on 2014.04.24 at 22:57
Current mood: nostalgicnostalgic

carole lombard screenland january 1930aa

We noted the other day that the fan magazine Screenland has been added to the online collection of the Media History Digital Library ( We examined Carole Lombard’s presence in the magazine’s issues of the 1920s; this time, we’ll see how Screenland portrayed her during 1930, beginning with the portrait above from the January issue.

“Blondes are still preferred on the Pathe lot,” read the caption, “and Carol Lombard — note the particularly stunning coiffure — is one of them.” This probably was designed in November and hit newsstands in early December…by which time Pathe’s preferred blonde may have been the newly-signed Constance Bennett, with Lombard and her pal Diane Ellis as ex-employees.

Also in that issue was an interview with someone Carol (she wouldn’t officially restore the “e” in her first name until late in 1930) knew quite well — fitness and nutrition guru Sylvia (last name Ulbeck), who helped keep the stars in shape.

carole lombard screenland january 1930ba
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carole lombard screenland january 1930ea
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A charming story, with some insight into several of her more notable subjects. Here’s what Sylvia had to say about Lombard and Marion Davies:

carole lombard screenland january 1930eb

In the article, Sylvia says she’s only 4-foot-10, which would main if this measure of Lombard elsewhere in the issue was accurate (and it probably isn’t), the trainer nearly was a head shorter than her:

carole lombard screenland january 1930fb

A year was shaven off Lombard’s actual age, as per custom at the time.

The other story of note ran in the July issue, and is one of the few detailed descriptions of one of Lombard’s least-viewed films:

carole lombard screenland july 1930aa
carole lombard screenland july 1930ba
carole lombard screenland july 1930ca
carole lombard screenland july 1930da
carole lombard screenland july 1930bb

This at least would have been Lombard’s second experience with location shooting (the first probably was when she went to the Sierra Nevada range for “High Voltage” the year before).

So how did it turn out? According to a review in Screenland in August, meh (or its 1930 equivalent):

carole lombard screenland august 1930aa

The following month, “Safety In Numbers” received a slightly better review…

carole lombard screenland september 1930aa

…after Paramount had advertised the film in June:

carole lombard screenland june 1930aa
carole lombard screenland june 1930ab

Before we leave, an interesting bonus from the August issue — one of the first stories about Ginger Rogers in any fan magazine. And look who wrote it!

ginger rogers screenland august 1930aa
ginger rogers screenland august 1930ba

Posted April 24, 2014 by vp19 in Uncategorized

Marital wars, Italian style   Leave a comment

Posted by vp19 on 2014.04.23 at 23:24
Current mood: artisticartistic

carole lombard mr. & mrs. smith 86a

“Mr. & Mrs. Smith,” Carole Lombard’s penultimate film and the last released during her lifetime, was a comeback of sorts for Carole, whose recent forays into drama won some applause from critics but relatively little from the public. Under Alfred Hitchcock’s direction and being lovingly photographed, she had fine chemistry with co-star Robert Montgomery, and the battles between the Smiths made it a worldwide hit. (As a result of World War II, while North America and some European countries such as Sweden saw “Mr. & Mrs. Smith” in 1941, for Lombard fans elsewhere, it would become a posthumous release.)

One of those nations might have been Italy, which fought with the Axis for much of the war and may have restricted access to Hollywood product. But eventually Carole’s Italian admirers saw the film, which in that nation was titled…

carole lombard mr. & mrs. smith italian poster 00a

…”Il signore e la signora Smith.”

That was one of the posters for the film in Italy. Here’s another:

carole lombard mr. & mrs. smith italian poster 01b

Each poster, measuring 13″ x 17″ and apparently in excellent condition, are on sale at eBay. The top poster ( goes for $280, while the lower one ( sells for $211.40.

Posted April 23, 2014 by vp19 in Uncategorized

The Great Villain Blogathon: C. Aubrey Smith, ‘No More Orchids’   Leave a comment

Posted by vp19 on 2014.04.22 at 01:12
Current mood: nostalgicnostalgic

carole lombard no more orchids 30c
great villain blogathon 00a

Once Carole Lombard received a seven-year contract from Paramount in 1930, her days cast as villainous roles were more or less over. Not that Lombard had ever played an out-and-out “boo-hiss” type — she was probably too pretty for such parts — but in films such as Pathe’s “Show Folks” (1928) and Fox’s “The Arizona Kid” (1930), she portrayed persons who were mildly antagonistic.

It would be left for others to carry the villain banner against Carole, and while several performed it with aplomb (Gail Patrick in “My Man Godfrey,” Sig Rumann in “To Be Or Not To Be”) perhaps the greatest of Lombard antagonists was a veteran British character actor who was the unofficial head of the UK Hollywood corps. His name? C. Aubrey Smith. We’ll shortly examine his colorful life, but first, let’s profile his role, as Jerome Cedric, shown above with Lombard in “No More Orchids”:

Jerome is the wealthy grandfather of Carole’s character, Anne Holt, and he also controls the pursestrings of her banker father Bill Holt, played by Walter Connolly. Jerome’s obsessed with titles and prestige, and is forcing Anne to marry into royalty to keep Bill’s bank afloat. Trouble is, Anne is in love with white-collar, but poor, Tony Gage (Lyle Talbot).

Smith’s character is downright nasty when it comes to getting what he wants — and if Anne doesn’t marry royalty, her father’s bank will be kaput (there was no Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation in 1932). We won’t spoil the ending for you, but Jerome is thwarted, though it takes tragedy to do it.

c. aubrey smith 00

The 6-foot-4 Smith, born in 1863 (the “C.” stood for Charles), was a talented actor on both stage and screen…but he also was known as an outstanding cricketer, even representing England in a test match (that’s the highest level of international play) against South Africa. Smith maintained his enthusiasm for cricket after moving to America and even taught and coached the sport at UCLA with fellow Brit emigre Boris Karloff. Want proof? Here’s a page from the 1934 yearbook:

1934 ucla yearbook c. aubrey smith boris karloff 00a

Smith’s turn as a villain in “No More Orchids” (his only film with Lombard) was atypical for him; he tended to play British stiff-upper-lip types, either as leads or in supporting roles. You can find him in some of the 1930s’ best-known films — “Tarzan The Ape Man,” “Love Me Tonight,” “The Barbarian,” “Bombshell,” “Queen Christina,” “The Scarlet Empress,” the Claudette Colbert “Cleopatra,” “The Lives Of A Bengal Lancer,” “The Gilded Lily,” “China Seas,” “The Crusades,” “Romeo And Juliet,” “The Prisoner Of Zenda” (he had played in its stage premiere in 1895) and “Another Thin Man.” One of his other movies was 1931’s “The Bachelor Father” with Marion Davies:

marion davies the bachelor father c. aubrey smith 00a

Smith kept working into the 1940s, with credits such as “Rebecca,” “Waterloo Bridge,” the Spencer Tracy “Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde,” “Madame Curie” and Ernst Lubitsch’s “Cluny Brown.” He received the Order of the British Empire in 1938 and was knighted in 1944 for fostering British-American unity. He died in December 1948 — roughly six decades after he was wrongly pronounced dead after catching pneumonia while digging for gold in South Africa — and his last screen appearance was posthumous, in the 1949 version of “Little Women.”

Posted April 22, 2014 by vp19 in Uncategorized

Photos, ‘Now And Forever’   Leave a comment

Posted by vp19 on 2014.04.21 at 18:41
Current mood: cheerfulcheerful

carole lombard now and forever 25a

Above are Carole Lombard, Gary Cooper and Shirley Temple in one of two promotional photos from their 1934 Paramount film “Now And Forever.” It’s being auctioned at eBay, as is this photo of Shirley performing in front of a bunch of kids:

carole lombard now and forever 26b

That may or may not be Lombard in a rocking chair at right; that certainly isn’t Cooper standing behind her. Both are original photos — as the seller notes, “First photo has pinholes in the border, both have light wear.”

The opening bid for the pair is $9.99, with the auction scheduled to end at 6:01 p.m. (Eastern) on Sunday. Interested? Go to

Posted April 21, 2014 by vp19 in Uncategorized