Carole, Clark and ‘Stardust’: A novel idea   Leave a comment

Posted by vp19 on 2014.12.10 at 09:27

Current mood: pleasedpleased

Carole Lombard’s vivacity, beauty and talent have made her a natural for novelists to use as a character when writing tales of classic Hollywood. From “Moviola” by her one-time director Garson Kanin ( to appearing in the baseball fantasy “All The Stars Came Out That Night” (, Lombard has lived on in the world of fiction. And two months from now, she’ll be back at bookstores, along with Clark Gable (above, at the “Gone With The Wind” premiere in Atlanta), in…

Here’s the premise, from publisher Doubleday’s publicity:

When Julie Crawford leaves Fort Wayne, Indiana for Hollywood, she never imagines she’ll cross paths with Carole Lombard, the dazzling actress from Julie’s provincial Midwestern hometown. Although the young woman has dreams of becoming a screenwriter, the only job Julie’s able to find is one in the studio publicity office of the notoriously demanding producer David O. Selznick -— who is busy burning through directors, writers and money as he begins filming “Gone with the Wind.”

Although tensions run high on the set, Julie finds she can step onto the back lot, take in the smell of smoky gunpowder and the soft rustle of hoop skirts, and feel the magical world ofGone with the Wind come to life. Julie’s access to real-life magic comes when Carole Lombard hires her as an assistant and invites her into the glamorous world Carole shares with Clark Gable -— who is about to move into movie history as the dashing Rhett Butler.

Carole Lombard, happily profane and uninhibited, makes no secret of her relationship with Gable, which poses something of a problem for the studio as Gable is technically still married -— and the last thing the film needs is more negative publicity. Julie is there to fend off the overly curious reporters, hoping to prevent details about the affair from slipping out. But she can barely keep up with her blonde employer, let alone control what comes out of Carole’s mouth, and — as their friendship grows — soon finds she doesn’t want to. Carole, both wise and funny, becomes Julie’s model for breaking free of the past.

In the ever-widening scope of this story, Julie is given a front-row seat to not one but two of the greatest love affairs of all time: the undeniable on-screen chemistry between Scarlett and Rhett, and off-screen, the deepening love between Carole and Clark. Yet beneath the shiny façade, things in Hollywood are never quite what they seem, and Julie must learn to balance career aspirations and her own budding romance with outsized personalities and the overheated drama on set.

A tantalizing premise, that — although the angle about “negative publicity” from the Clark and Carole relationship is a bit overblown. While the public was aware of Gable’s marital status, it overwhelmingly approved the pairing of him with Lombard; she was not perceived as a “home-wrecker” (think the Elizabeth Taylor/Eddie Fisher/Debbie Reynolds triangle). And Carole, whose sense regarding publicity made her aware of the delicate situation, rarely spoke about it in public.

The author is Kate Alcott, who’s written several other well-regarded historical novels (“The Dressmaker,” “The Daring Ladies Of Lowell”). Alcott is a pseudonym for Washington-based journalist Patricia O’Brien, widow of Frank Mankiewicz (whose noted cinematic family ties continue through his son, TCM’s Ben Mankiewicz). Here’s a photo of her, along with the originally-planned cover of “A Touch Of Stardust”:

I think Doubleday made a wise choice in changing covers, as the newer one more vividly encapsulates Lombard’s personality (even if it was taken in 1934, well before her romance with Gable and even before few beyond Margaret Mitchell were aware of “GWTW”).

“A Touch Of Stardust” will be released Feb. 17, although it’s already received good advance reviews from the likes of Booklist, Library Journal and Kirkus Review. It also will be available on audio CD and through other outlets. To learn more, or pre-order via, visit


Posted December 10, 2014 by vp19 in Uncategorized

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