Archive for May 2014

Memorial Day thoughts   Leave a comment

Posted by vp19 on 2014.05.26 at 07:53
Current mood: contemplativecontemplative

carole lombard 011342 salt lake city 00d
carole lombard 011342a salt lake city

These photos show Carole Lombard with servicemen at the Salt Lake City train station on Jan. 13, 1942, during a stopover while she was en route from Los Angeles to Chicago to be debriefed on her upcoming war bond rally in Indianapolis. From the background of these images, they look to have been taken alongside a train, perhaps the City of Los Angeles that Lombard was riding; these soldiers and sailors may have been on board, too.

We know that before the week was done Carole would be lost to history, among the first war-related casualties of World War II. However, we don’t know the fates of the three men she’s pictured with. It’s possible one may be with us today, though that diminishes every year as time elapses. Another may have passed on a few decades ago, able to witness — and aid — an Allied victory. And at least one of them may not have come back.

It is in honor of those who made that ultimate sacrifice that we hold Memorial Day observances each year. Many of us, through no intentional reason, lose sight of that as we celebrate the unofficial start of summer.

So while you’re in the midst of your holiday festivities — cookouts, ballgames, travel, whatever — take some time to remember the real reason for this holiday and think about those who served and paid the price.


Posted May 26, 2014 by vp19 in Uncategorized

Looking back: May 1934   Leave a comment

Posted by vp19 on 2014.05.25 at 12:48
Current mood: curiouscurious

carole lombard twentieth century 055b

May 1934 would be one of the most pivotal months in the life of Carole Lombard…and all it took was a ride with John Barrymore aboard the “Twentieth Century.” Columbia opened the film in wide release that month, and while it wasn’t anywhere as big a hit as the studio had hoped (particularly following its unexpected smash with “It Happened That Night”), it did sufficient business — especially in metropolitan areas such as New York, which was familiar with the Broadway play it derived from. That familiarity can be seen in capsule reviews of the film from Manhattan papers in the May 9 Hollywood Reporter:

carole lombard twentieth century 050934 hollywood reporter reviews

What also began to change was public perception of Carole, from a clotheshorse with indifferent acting skills into a dynamo in front of the camera. And while that perceived change wouldn’t reach full fruition for another year and a half, reviews made it evident. Let’s cross the East River into Brooklyn and see how that borough’s paper, the Eagle (where my grandfather was a reporter) reviewed “Twentieth Century”:

carole lombard 050434 brooklyn eagle

Barrymore’s tour de force understandably drew the lion’s share of the attention (oh, and speaking of “Drew” and of “Barrymore,” I’m happy to report that “Twentieth Century” will be part of this season’s roster on Turner Classic Movies’ “The Essentials”), but reviewers noted Carole matched him stride for stride, such as this one from the May 5 Syracuse Herald:

carole lombard 050534a syracuse heraldcarole lombard 050534b syracuse herald

In its review, the May 28 Bakersfield Californian first said of her, “Miss Lombard is bewitchingly pretty,” but then addressed her real magic — “and this is the first time she has really registered as an actress”:

carole lombard 052834 bakersfield californian

And a syndicated column, “Screen Life In Hollywood,” which ran in the May 4 Scranton Republican, had similarly nice comments:

carole lombard 050434 scranton republican

carole lombard twentieth century 036a unretouched proof front

The May 13 Brooklyn Eagle even ran a piece (I’m guessing it was a Columbia handout) explaining how the “Twentieth Century” passenger rail set was constructed:

carole lombard 051334a brooklyn eagle

Of course, that wasn’t the only Lombard movie making the rounds of theaters. “We’re Not Dressing,” from her home studio of Paramount, was still running — and publicity stills from both films were at the top of the aforementioned Eagle page:

carole lombard 051334 brooklyn eagle

The Kossuth County Advance of Iowa, whose reviewer was diffident about Carole’s performance in “Bolero” (, felt likewise about her in its May 10 review of “We’re Not Dressing,” calling her “beautiful at times, rather ordinary at others”:

carole lombard 051034 kossuth county advance

The college crowd, or at least that at New York’s Barnard College, was similarly unimpressed. The reviewer in the May 1 Barnard Bulletin deemed Lombard “not particularly convincing,” though it liked the film’s goofy fun:

carole lombard 050134 barnard bulletin

A week later, the Bulletin approves of “Twentieth Century,” although Carole is mentioned only peripherally:

carole lombard 050834 barnard bulletin

In Texas, this pic promoted “We’re Not Dressing” in the May 6 Waco Tribune-Herald:

carole lombard 050634 waco tribune-herald

Lists of stars (most beautiful, best dressed, etc.) were a favorite topic of newspapers back in the day, and impresario Earl Carroll got into the act twice during May. In the May 3 Lowell (Mass.) Sun, he chose his 11 most beautiful women in the movies…and yes, Carole made the cut. (It’s in the upper right-hand corner, next to a story about Jean Harlow the author.)

carole lombard 050334 lowell sun

But that wasn’t enough for Carroll. In the May 14 Indiana (Pa.) Gazette, he did himself one better by choosing 16 beauties, again including Lombard:

carole lombard 051434 indiana gazette

His selections met a wide variety of fates; Dorothy Dell died in an automobile accident in June and never made it out of her teens, while Gloria Stuart lived to see her centennial (and publicly celebrate it in Hollywood) before her passing in 2010.

Yet another list ran in the May 23 Sheboygan (Wis.) Press column “That’s That”:

carole lombard 052334 sheboygan presscarole lombard 052334a sheboygan press

This was about the time that the U.S. established diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union for the first time since the 1917 revolution.

Here’s a segment of a Walter Winchell column that ran in the May 12 Reading (Pa.) Times:

carole lombard 051234 reading timescarole lombard 051234a reading times

What’s interesting here is that Walter must have changed his mind about Lombard’s legs, because in a later column he complimented Carole regarding them ( With summer on the horizon, those Lombard legs were seen in a still for swimsuits, as she suggested blondes wear black swimwear while at the pool or beach. This is from the May 8 North Adams (Mass.) Transcript:

carole lombard 050834 north adams transcript

Another pic — no to swimsuit, yes to sombrero — ran in the May 29 Massillon Independent in Ohio:

carole lombard 052934 massillon independent

And speaking of “You Belong To Me,” had she made that film, those Lombard locks might have seen a different shade, according to the May 11 Oakland Tribune:

carole lombard 051134a oakland tribune

And five days later in the Fresno Bee, Louella Parsons’ syndicated column said Carole would be back at Columbia for another movie, under the working (but thankfully only temporary) title “Orchids And Onions.” (It became “Lady By Choice.”)

carole lombard 051634a fresno bee

Finally, here’s a weird one from the May 15 Salt Lake Tribune –– the Orpheum Theater was seeking “a girl for special work who looks like Carole Lombard”:

carole lombard 051534 salt lake tribune

I have no idea if they found one, or what they did with her if one indeed was found, but it probably was meant in conjunction with this, if the ad from May 20 is indicative:

carole lombard 052034 salt lake tribune

Posted May 25, 2014 by vp19 in Uncategorized

Photos simply ‘Made For Each Other’   Leave a comment

Posted by vp19 on 2014.05.24 at 15:03
Current mood: impressedimpressed

carole lombard made for each other 68a

“Made For Each Other,” uneven though it may be, remains a popular Carole Lombard title, probably because it was her only on-screen pairing with James Stewart. (They teamed up several times on radio.) Fans of that film now have more memorabilia to pursue, because eight vintage stills from the movie — a majority of which are rarities, such as the one above — are up for auction at eBay.

Without further ado, here are the other seven:

carole lombard made for each other 65a
carole lombard made for each other 66a
carole lombard made for each other 67a
carole lombard made for each other 69a
carole lombard made for each other 70a
carole lombard made for each other 71a
carole lombard made for each other 72a

All are single-weight glossy originals, each measuring roughly 8″ x 10″, and in very good to fine condition with no marking or copy on the back.

The minimum bid for each photo is $24.50; as of this writing, none of them have received a bid. The auction closes between 6:43 and 7:02 p.m. (Eastern) on Friday.

These are rare goodies for any fan of “Made For Each Other,” or of Lombard or Stewart. You can take a look at all eight photos by visiting

Posted May 24, 2014 by vp19 in Uncategorized

An early look, in linen   Leave a comment

Posted by vp19 on 2014.05.23 at 08:28
Current mood: artisticartistic

carole lombard p1202-41c eugene robert richee front

Some Carole Lombard portraits can be deceptive in their appearance; take the one above, for example. At first glance, it looks to be from about 1933, even possibly 1934. Then you look at the Paramount p1202 number in the lower right-hand corner, and you’re thrown for a loop.

carole lombard p1202-41 eugene robert richee inset

P1202-41? That would mean it was from sometime in late 1930, probably after Carole returned from making “Fast And Loose” at Paramount’s Astoria studios in Queens, N.Y. According to the seller, “By the number of the still at the bottom, I know that this shoot was attributed to the famous photographer Eugene [Robert] Richee.”

If this seller has a complete list of photographers of Lombard’s p1202 pics, I’d love to get my hands on it, but I’m guessing it is indeed Richee’s work. He’d been at Paramount since 1921, and his most famous subjects of 1920s stills included Clara Bow and Louise Brooks, including this iconic shot of the latter:

In the ’30s, he became identified with portraits of both Lombard and Marlene Dietrich.

For an idea of how different p1202-41 appeared at the time, look at its immediate predecessor, p1202-40, in contrast — an image that has 1930 all over it:

carole lombard p1202-40b

P1202-41 is a linen-backed double weight measuring 9.75″ x 7.75″, with no marks of any kind on the back. The seller says it’s in “Overall nice condition with a small indented dot, some scratching to the image, and some creasing to the corners.” Nevertheless, it’s gorgeous.

Interested in this vintage portrait? You can buy it for $39.99. Go to

Posted May 23, 2014 by vp19 in Uncategorized

Shown reading a photoplay…but it’s not in a ‘Photoplay’   Leave a comment

Posted by vp19 on 2014.05.22 at 01:11
Current mood: weirdweird

carole lombard 2557b front

Here’s one of Carole Lombard’s more studious photo stills, as she’s shown perusing a script. Which one? Since the back of the picture is available, we can venture an answer:

carole lombard 2557a back

It’s from the library of Photoplay magazine, and since the stamp date is from early 1937 (Jan. 19, then Feb. 15), it’s pretty certain Carole’s examining the script of her latest film, “Swing High, Swing Low.” There’s also another marking: “April — Study In Scripts.” A check of the Media History Digital Library revealed the April 1937 issue was available, so let’s see how Photoplay used the picture.

Well, it turns out that issue didn’t feature anything called “Study In Scripts” — but there was a two-page spread called “Lining Up Their Lines.” And there indeed is a photo of Carole from “Swing High, Swing Low,” but not only is she in it, but so are co-star Fred MacMurray and director Mitchell Leisen:

carole lombard photoplay april 1937aa
carole lombard photoplay april 1937ba
carole lombard photoplay april 1937ab

The photo that didn’t make the cut is now up for auction at eBay; it’s an 8″ x 10″ glossy single-weight, and according to the seller, its condition is “Very good with some edge wear and a repaired tear.” As of this writing, five bids have been made, the highest for $31, and bidding ends at 8:48 p.m. (Eastern) Sunday. You can get in on the action by visiting

Before we leave the April ’37 Photoplay, there’s something else from that issue that fascinates. It’s a history of the fabled Cocoanut Grove at the Hotel Ambassador, both of which now are lost to legend…and as many of us know, the teenage Carole Lombard of the mid-1920s was a regular participant in its dance contests. This not only tells us more about her days there, but features an image of the young Lombard I’ve never seen before:

carole lombard photoplay april 1937ca
carole lombard photoplay april 1937da
carole lombard photoplay april 1937ea
carole lombard photoplay april 1937fa
carole lombard photoplay april 1937ga
carole lombard photoplay april 1937ha

I never realized there had been a feud between Bing Crosby and Cocoanut Grove management (you learn something new every day!). As is our wont, let’s focus on the Lombard stuff:

carole lombard photoplay april 1937db
carole lombard photoplay april 1937eb

Since photos of Carole from her time at Fox show her with dark hair, the story about the Westmores turning her blonde has some credence. And from what we know about Lombard and Crawford, is anyone really surprised that Joan was reluctant to laugh at her past?

Posted May 22, 2014 by vp19 in Uncategorized

Next month, board the Metro   Leave a comment

Posted by vp19 on 2014.05.21 at 08:55
Current mood: nostalgicnostalgic

carole lombard the gay bride 06a jack conway chester morris

Not “Metro” as in Metrorail (which people do in my former home grounds of Washington and my future home of Los Angeles), but as in Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, arguably the best known of classic Hollywood studios (it turns 90 this year), and one Carole Lombard was fairly familiar with.

The blog Silver Scenes ( will host a blogathon late next month dedicated to the classic era of the lion’s lair…

mgm blogathon banner 01amgm blogathon banner 00a

(I couldn’t decide which of Carole’s husbands to choose as a banner, so I’m using both.)

MGM is a studio with a fascinating history, with both boosters (“more stars than there are in heaven,” unparalleled production values, Irving Thalberg’s work as an executive) and detractors (too much emphasis on producers rather than directors or writers, the often stultifying influence of Louis B. Mayer, particularly after Thalberg’s death).

Obviously, my entry will take a Lombard angle…so which of her MGM films should I feature? Fortunately, history makes that choice easy, for believe it or not, she made only one at that famed Culver City complex — “The Gay Bride” in the latter part of 1934. (In the photo above, Carole is between director Jack Conway, left, and co-star Chester Morris.)

But she had far more of a presence at MGM than that one relatively obscure movie, thanks in large part to her relationship with Clark Gable. Here they are at the 1939 studio picnic:

carole lombard clark gable 1939 mgm picnic 00a

There are other things that tie Lombard to MGM…but what are they? You’ll have to wait until late June to find out. Learn more about the blogathon at

Posted May 21, 2014 by vp19 in Uncategorized

She’s back ‘Under The Stars’ (and so, at last, is Bill!)   Leave a comment

Posted by vp19 on 2014.05.20 at 19:24
Current mood: excitedexcited

carole lombard to be or not to be 56b

We’ve known for some time that “To Be Or Not To Be,” Carole Lombard’s final film, was scheduled to air Aug. 10 as part of Turner Classic Movies’ “Essentials Jr.” — but since August also is the time for TCM’s beloved month-long extravaganza, “Summer Under The Stars,” this led to conjecture…which star was going to have 24 hours of his or her movies airing that day?

Would it be Jack Benny, who made quite a few films during his career, though his genius was best channeled on radio and, to a lesser extent, television? No.

Would it be Robert Stack, who rose from juvenile status to become a reliable leading man during the 1940s and ’50s before finding lasting fame as Eliot Ness on TV? No.

And no, it’s not any of the fine character actors who populated this Ernst Lubitsch classic.

It’s Carole, who for the third time is receiving SUTS honors (she was part of the lineup in both 2006 and 2011). Here’s the lineup that day, which I presume is in chronological order, from 6 a.m. (Eastern)/3 a.m. (Pacific):

“Virtue” (1932)
“No More Orchids” (1932)
“In Name Only” (1939)
“Lady By Choice” (1934)
“Twentieth Century” (1934)
“The Gay Bride” (1934)
“Made For Each Other” (1939)
“Mr. & Mrs. Smith” (1941)
“To Be Or Not To Be” (1942)
“True Confession” (1937)
“Nothing Sacred” (1937)
“Vigil In The Night” (1940)
“Fools For Scandal” (1938)

There are 13 films on this year’s schedule, compared to 15 in 2011; additions are “Made For Each Other” and “True Confession” (which either is a TCM premiere or hasn’t aired on the channel in quite some time), while subtractions are “The Racketeer” (no great loss), “Brief Moment” (an okay film, nothing special), “Hands Across The Table” (increasingly regarded as one of Lombard’s best movies) and…”My Man Godfrey.” (It was the “Essentials Jr.” selection on Aug. 28, 2011.)

While it’s always good to see 24 hours of Lombard, one wishes some of her lesser-known Paramount programmers could get an airing, films such as “It Pays To Advertise,” “Up Pops The Devil,” “No One Man,” “Sinners In The Sun,” “From Hell To Heaven,” “Bolero” or “Rumba.” Some may not be worth seeing, but you can make a similar argument for “The Racketeer” or “Fools For Scandal.” Either TCM can’t secure rights from Universal (which owns most pre-1948 Paramount product), the films aren’t yet in fully restored condition, or both. (And I haven’t even brought up “I Take This Woman,” which may have been rescued from extinction but hasn’t received anywhere near the exposure a pairing of Carole and fellow legend Gary Cooper deserves.)

What makes this all the more intriguing is that the day before Carole is celebrated, her first husband finally will get the “SUTS” treatment:

william powell 007a

Why did it take TCM until the 12th SUTS to honor William Powell, one of the channel’s most popular stars? Well, Powell was born on July 29, 1892, and I’m guessing that it gave him a birthday salute at least a few times over the years. Here’s what TCM will be showing Aug. 9:

“Road To Singapore” (1931)
“Jewel Robbery” (1932)
“Lawyer Man” (1932)
“Double Harness” (1933)
“Manhattan Melodrama” (1934)
“Libeled Lady” (1936)
“Double Wedding” (1937)
“I Love You Again” (1940)
“Love Crazy” (1941)
“The Thin Man” (1934)
“After The Thin Man” (1936)
“Crossroads” (1942)
“Mister Roberts” (1955)
“The Girl Who Had Everything” (1953)
“High Pressure” (1932)

No “Godfrey” there, either (or his two other films with Lombard, “Man Of The World” and “Ladies’ Man”). And I’d have loved to put the wonderfully romantic “One Way Passage” somewhere. But seven straight movies with Myrna Loy, including “The Thin Man” (which I’m guessing will be “The Essentials” selection)? Who can complain about that? (Oh, and get up early for “Jewel Robbery,” where you’ll see Bill engage in drug humor, pre-Code style.)

Now that you know Powell and Lombard will be part of SUTS, let’s give you the whole lineup for August:

1. Jane Fonda
2. David Niven
3. Walter Pidgeon
4. Judy Garland
5. Barbara Stanwyck
6. Paul Muni
7. James Stewart
8. Jeanne Moreau
9. William Powell
10. Carole Lombard
11. Marlon Brando
12. Alexis Smith
13. Cary Grant
14. Charlie Chaplin
15. Faye Dunaway
16. Herbert Marshall
17. John Hodiak
18. Claudette Colbert
19. Paul Newman
20. Thelma Ritter
21. Lee Tracy
22. Audrey Hepburn
23. Ernest Borgnine
24. Gladys George
25. Dick Powell
26. Sophia Loren
27. Edmond O’Brien
28. Arlene Dahl
29. Joseph Cotten
30. Betty Grable
31. Alan Ladd

Your typical SUTS blend — old reliables (Garland, Stanwyck, Stewart, Grant, Colbert), a silent-era favorite (Chaplin) and some overlooked stars (Alexis Smith, John Hodiak, Thelma Ritter, Gladys George, Edmond O’Brien, Arlene Dahl). And the TCM programmers must have a sense of humor, because on Aug. 21-22, we get back-to-back days of Tracy and Hepburn…only it’s Lee Tracy (his SUTS debut) and Audrey Hepburn.

tcm summer under the stars 00a

It should be plenty of fun, and soon we’ll get the channel’s SUTS theme for this year and its promotional push. Stay tuned.

Posted May 20, 2014 by vp19 in Uncategorized