Posted by vp19 on 2014.10.05 at 12:48
Current mood: nostalgic
“Lady By Choice,” co-starring May Robson and Walter Connolly, was Carole Lombard’s latest film in the fall of 1934, when that December’s issue of Screenland hit the newsstands. It included a somewhat freewheeling interview with Carole, taken that September while she was visiting New York:
Some thoughts on the article:
* I certainly could understand Paramount publicity wanting to protect Lombard from having to speak on Russ Columbo’s passing. From what I gather, this probably was her first visit to New York since making “Fast And Loose” at Paramount’s Astoria studio some four years earlier, and one doubts anyone in the eastern publicity office had more a cursory contact with Carole in the time since.
* I’m a bit skeptical of Lombard’s claim that she had invited Columbo’s ailing mother to the Lake Arrowhead cabin the weekend of his bizarre fatal accident. It’s possible that Lombard was referring to her own mother and that writer Laura Benham, in reviewing her notes to reconstruct Carole’s conversation, made a mix-up.
* Lombard’s comments about her post-divorce relationship with William Powell ring true — especially her statement that women Powell date resent her. Since Bill and Carole had socialized several times following their breakup, the others Bill was seeing understandably were concerned about this unorthodox status of his.
* Carole often expressed a desire to retire from acting after “the short period allotted to any of us at the top,” but in 1934 did she have any concrete idea when that “short period” would end? And was she already mulling other film-related endeavors, such as producing?
* As often is the case with stories regarding Lombard’s early life and career, several errors are made. Carole briefly attended Fairfax High School in Los Angeles, not Hollywood High, and Benham places her automobile accident after she worked for Mack Sennett, not before. Finally, Pathe was the one place where the “e” in Lombard’s first name was never used.
* A particularly nice part of the piece was Carole’s contemplative thoughts on Lilyan Tashman, a now largely-forgotten actress best known for her fashion sense who had died at age 37 in March 1934. (However, Tashman’s tumultuous personal life was a far cry from the relatively strait-laced Lombard.)
* Carole was confident that a post-divorce Powell could take care of himself — and that same issue of Screenland includes an interview with Bill, whose career had soared in 1934 thanks to the MGM hits “Manhattan Melodrama” and “The Thin Man”:
Writer Ben Maddox compliments Carole on influencing Bill’s tastes in post-divorce dates (one of whom was Jean Harlow). However, Maddox declines to name the studio that put Powell in “a series of mediocre pictures” (it was Warners, and in retrospect, most of those movies don’t seem so mediocre). The rest of the piece is typical Powell, revealing little that was new aside from some comments of his on Bill Jr., who would commit suicide at age 43 in 1968.
This December 1934 issue of Screenland is up for auction at eBay, although the seller admits it’s in fair condition and is missing the cover, among other things. That cover — obtained through the Media History Digital Library — was of an actress who was a major boon to Powell’s success in 1934…
…Myrna Loy, of course. And that stunning Charles Gates Sheldon portrait of Loy was the grand prize in a “cover girl” competition:
So, what would your eight words have been?
Screenland editor Delight Evans (like Lombard, a Fort Wayne native) used the pages of her magazine to conduct some audience research…
…while criticizing Ann Harding for her sudden reluctance to talk to the press:
That issue showed Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers demonstrating dance steps:
Films advertised in that issue include Greta Garbo’s “The Painted Veil”…
…Universal’s “Night Life Of The Gods” (from a Thorne Smith novel)…
…and Warners’ “Flirtation Walk,” starring Dick Powell and my mother’s favorite actress during her youth, Ruby Keeler:
Bidding opens at $19.99; the auction closes at 12:33 p.m. (Eastern) Wednesday. To bid or learn more, visit http://www.ebay.com/itm/SCREENLAND-DECEMBER-1934-ANNA-MAY-WONG-NORMA-SHEARER-CAROLE-LOMBARD/201183397194?_trksid=p2045573.c100033.m2042&_trkparms=aid%3D111001%26algo%3DREC.SEED%26ao%3D1%26asc%3D26261%26meid%3Dae6e0c2a18d24d928a30fcb55f854ba7%26pid%3D100033%26prg%3D10942%26rk%3D1%26rkt%3D4%26sd%3D201183397194.