Archive for February 2015

Lombard vintage glamour, and saluting a man who lived long and prospered   1 comment

Posted by vp19 on 2015.02.27 at 19:24

Current mood: contemplativecontemplative

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That’s Walter Byron alongside Carole Lombard in a publicity still from the 1932 Paramount film “Sinners in the Sun.” It’s one of seven vintage photos of Carole, all 8″ x 10″ gelatin-silver glossies, being offered in two groups. Other pics in this batch, all in fine to very fine condition, are this of Carole and Cary Grant from “In Name Only”…

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…as well as this pic pairing Lombard with Lillian Harmer from “No Man of Her Own”:

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The three are selling for $169; get more information at

The other batch has four photos, all from the pre-Code era (if you include 1929, and this pic from “Big News,” in that category):

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In chronological order, next is Carole admonishing Joyce Compton with her eyes, as Norman Foster looks on, in “Up Pops the Devil”…

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…Lombard with Fredric March in “The Eagle and the Hawk”…

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…and finally, Carole preparing to dance with George Raft in “Bolero”:

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This quartet of images, the same quality as the earlier pics, sells for $195. Learn more by visiting

Today, the world is mourning the passing of the man who played one of television’s most iconic characters, as Leonard Nimoy, best known as Spock on the original “Star Trek” series, left us at age 83. Not long after learning the news, I wrote this as a Facebook response: “50 years ago, Leonard Nimoy had no idea he soon would become iconic. It wasn’t easy on him at first — no actor wishes to be typecast — but he continued working, and eventually embraced Spock and what he, and the series, meant to people.” [One of those people was President Obama, who sent out a salute today, one I’m certain many Republicans might even agree with.] “Leonard also directed movies (I had forgotten he was at the helm of “Three Men and a Baby” until someone pointed it out this morning) and starred or hosted several other TV series. Sorry I never was able to meet him; from all accounts, he was the ultimate professional. Thank you, sir.”

Nimoy has been beamed up to the hereafter, leaving behind a legacy he never would have dreamed of in 1965, when he was best known as a reliable character actor…and he truly lived long (alas, not long enough) and prospered. My condolences to his family and millions of fans. Here he is with Zachary Quinto, who inherited the Spock role in the J.J. Abrams series of “Star Trek” films:

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Posted February 27, 2015 by vp19 in Uncategorized

Putting a plaque where it rightly belongs   Leave a comment

Posted by vp19 on 2015.02.26 at 19:40

Current mood: happyhappy

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The site where Carole Lombard honed her comedy chops while making “The Bicycle Flirt” and other shorts for Mack Sennett — following in the footsteps of numerous legends — today received its accurate recognition in film history, more than sixty years after a mistake regarding the proper location of the site.

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And here are pics of today’s event commemorating the revamped marker, including folks in period gear (the lady second from right in the top pic is Karie Bible of Hollywood Forever Cemetery):

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That’s Stan Taffel speaking; he was among those getting this project going.

The plaque is (and was) on Glendale Road in the Edendale district of Los Angeles. The top part was presented to Sennett in 1954, when he was honored on the “This Is Your Life” television series, and he was told it was to be part of an obelisk commemorating the site of his studio for the 1910s and much of the 1920s. There was just one problem…it was put on the site of the Selig studio lot up the street. (Film history research wasn’t much in those days, folks.) I have no idea whether Sennett actually visited the site before his death in 1960.

Anyway, the elements contributed to the deterioration of the obelisk — and the plaque. (According to Bob Birchard, one of today’s speakers, the plaque could easily have been removed, such was the flimsiness of the original.) Thankfully, it wasn’t: Taffel put together this montage on the history of the obelisk and plaque::

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Now the plaque, as well as a recent one commemorating the studio’s history, are where they should be — 1712 Glendale Boulevard. The studio is long gone, of course, and the site now hosts a Public Storage. Give the company credit for recognizing the history and enabling the city and Hollywood Heritage to get this done after seven years of work.

Oh, and the site isn’t completely long gone. One of the buildings Sennett used is still up, converted into storage facilities. If you go up to the third (top) floor, you can see some of the studio ceiling, including space for pulleys and other technical necessities:

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I rent space from a Public Storage — but I use the one on Sixth Street, not far from where I live. Had I known of the historical sense of this site, I’d have stored my things there (and perhaps could have psychically contacted Carole’s spirit).

Finally, I couldn’t resist having my photo taken with the plaque. It’s wonderful to see a mistake righted.

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Posted February 26, 2015 by vp19 in Uncategorized

Some 16mm home movies. Some special 16mm home movies…   Leave a comment

Posted by vp19 on 2015.02.25 at 17:15

Current mood: productiveproductive

carole lombard hunting trip 01a

…as in Clark Gable and Carole Lombard home movies. You’ve probably seen some of these images before on documentaries about the couple, or perhaps as extras on DVDs starring one or the other. But now, the personal home movies of the Gable household — featuring highlights of his marriage to Carole, as well to his two subsequent wives — are up for auction.

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This collection of film includes the original, uncut, no-fade Kodachrome movies of Gable and Lombard on one of their hunting trips with select friends. It also contains premiere footage from “Gone With The Wind” and newsreel footage not used but prepared for Gable’s archive. Note the films will not be broken up.

Here’s the list of the footage being offered:

1. Hunting Trip – Lombard, Gable + family – 9 Minutes
(0:00 to 9:20)
2. Lady Sylvia Ashley honeymoon – 6 Minutes
(9:20 to 15:20)
3. 1949 Guaymas deep sea fishing trip – 4 minutes
(15:20 to19:30)
4. Kay Spreckels Home Movies including John Clark Gable ceremony at school and family members “Doing the twist” – 40 minutes, 30 seconds
(19:30 to 1:00)
5. Skiing Footage (reversed) 1 Minute
(1:00 to 1:01:40)
6. Sound – Gone with the Wind premiere – Hotel Georgian Terrace – Mayor Presiding | Star Arrivals at Airport; Focus on Gable and Lombard, Leigh, Olivier, Selznick, De Havilland et al – 8 minutes
(1:01:40 to 1:09:00)
7. Gable Newsreel – GWTW stars of the movie touring Atlanta
(1:09:00 to 1:19:00).
8. Sound and Commentary – Gable receiving his military diploma and wings – 30 seconds
(1:18:00 to 1:19:00)
9. Sound and Commentary – Newsreel of Lady Sylvia Ashley and Gable just before they leave for their honeymoon – 4 Minutes
(1:19:00 to 1:23:00)
10. 1957 Academy Awards – Gable presenting on stage with Doris Day and Bob Hope – 4 Minutes
(1:23 to 1:27)

As you can tell, there’s quite a bit of Lombard and “Gone With the Wind” stuff here. (Aside from the top image, which was taken by me today upon seeing some of this footage — there was some glare that I cropped out — all of the images above are from the reels.)

These films have been handled with the utmost care, as the image below confirms…

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…and anyone seeking to purchase these should be a serious private collector, preferably familiar with 16mm film.

The minimum bid is $800, and the auction is scheduled to close at 10:37 p.m. (Eastern) Saturday. If you’re truly interested in these films and can do them justice, find out more by visiting

Posted February 25, 2015 by vp19 in Uncategorized

For Lombard and Barrymore, what a ride   Leave a comment

Posted by vp19 on 2015.02.24 at 22:20

Current mood: cynicalcynical

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The (figurative) train ride “Twentieth Century” wasn’t an altogether new experience for John Barrymore; he long had been accustomed to getting good reviews (even if some weren’t quite as universal as what he received here). But for Carole Lombard, used to being considered little more than a clotheshorse on screen, the reviews she received were unlike anything she’d ever experienced, and for her, it was pretty heady.

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Columbia, sensing it had another comedy blockbuster on its hands following the unexpected success of “It Happened One Night,” pulled out all the stops for this one:

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In the end, Columbia learned it couldn’t quite duplicate the achievement of “It Happened One Night,” as stories of Broadway really didn’t resonate in the heartland (although “Twentieth Century” was quite popular in urban markets).

Posted February 25, 2015 by vp19 in Uncategorized

More demure than ‘sexy,’ but nonetheless beautiful   Leave a comment

Posted by vp19 on 2015.02.23 at 21:34

Current mood: creativecreative

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I’m not certain whether I’ve run this photo of Carole Lombard before — I have a feeling I have, though at this stage of the day I really have no desire to check. All I know is that this pic probably is from between 1932 and 1934 (I’m pretty certain the “C” in the lower right-hand corner stands for Columbia, and the thick, shiny stockings Carole is wearing are typical of her hosiery at that time), and it’s rather stunning.

The photo is from the original negative, although the print is a new one. The seller adds it’s 8″ x 10″ and in “excellent condition … with one light crease in the upper left corner. The photograph is fiber-based paper and shows some light age toning.”

It’s being sold, not auctioned, for $19.95; if unsold, the sale will continue through 6:13 p.m. (Eastern) next Monday. Bid or learn more by visiting

Posted February 24, 2015 by vp19 in Uncategorized

‘Nothing Sacred,’ including Bruins and Trojans   Leave a comment

Posted by vp19 on 2015.02.22 at 22:20

Current mood: nostalgicnostalgic

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No, Carole Lombard isn’t ruminating about the just-concluded Academy Awards (perhaps it’s the rain pelting Los Angeles at the moment this is written, but my normally-clear signals to Hollywood heaven can’t discern her thoughts on who won and lost). It’s a shot from “Nothing Sacred,” and that’s the subject of this entry.

The Technicolor comedy feature opened in Los Angeles on Dec. 1, 1937 — we know from this ad, promoting its premiere at Grauman’s Chinese on Hollywood Boulevard and at Loew’s State downtown:

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In what LA newspaper did this run? In this case, none of them. It came from, of all things, a football program.

Dec. 1 was a Wednesday, and three days later, Southern California and UCLA battled each other at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. This flyer was tucked inside the program, which went unopened until recently.

carole lombard nothing sacred flyer 01b

The flyer measures 6″ x 10″, and according to the seller “is in beautiful, unused condition with light toning due to its age and is single-weight paper,” adding the “flyer has never been displayed and would look amazing if it were framed.”

It’s the flyer –– not the program — which is up for auction, with an opening bid of $135.95. The auction is scheduled to end at 6:20 p.m. (Eastern) Saturday. If interested, visit

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As for the game — only the fourth between the crosstown rivals (UCLA wasn’t founded until 1919) — SC jumped to a 19-0 lead, but UCLA rallied for two fourth-quarter touchdowns behind Kenny Washington (carrying the ball above), the Bruins’ first black football star, several years before Jackie Robinson. However, the Trojans halted a late drive and secured a 19-13 victory.

Posted February 23, 2015 by vp19 in Uncategorized

In Hollywood on Oscars eve   Leave a comment

Posted by vp19 on 2015.02.21 at 23:48

Current mood: happyhappy

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We’re less than 24 hours away from this year’s Academy Awards — and they’re a long way removed from the ceremonies Carole Lombard attended. For one thing, the event’s predominant media coverage will come from television, not radio, print or newsreels. For another, they’ve been stationed in one spot for about a dozen years now…the Dolby (neeKodak) Theater, part of the huge Hollywood-Highland complex.

Since this is the first Oscars I’ve witnessed as a Los Angeles resident, I made my way to Hollywood Boulevard today, getting off at the Hollywood/Highland station. (The stop will be closed all day Sunday.) As soon as I made my way outside, here’s what I saw…

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..a huge version of Oscar, as well as two billboards for the event. Yes indeed, this is Hollywood’s (figurative) high holy day.

Hollywood Boulevard between Highland and Orange has been shut down for a week to set things up for both the press and for those stars who’ll walk along the red carpet…

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As the overcast morning continued, I kept playing tourist by photographing the Walk of Fame stars — including this one, of course:

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But other stars were snapped as well, such as Roger Ebert (I’m still ticked off the fine bio-documentary “Life Itself” did not receive an Oscar nomination)…

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…as well as another fine writer and an upstate New York hero of mine, Rod Serling:

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Across the street at Grauman’s Chinese, I photographed the footprints of William Powell and Myrna Loy…

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…Doris Day and Joan Crawford (not a team, just concrete neighbors)…

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…Joan Blondell…

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…Marion Davies…

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…Jean Harlow…

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…and Constance Talmadge, who with sister Norma helped start the tradition:

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It should be a wide-open Academy Awards, though I must confess I have no real rooting interest this year (unlike a few years back, when I was pulling for “The Artist”). All I know is that I’m currently learning the ropes of screenwriting, and one of these years I hope to give an acceptance speech for winning Best Original Screenplay. Keep your fingers crossed.

maryland women's basketball big ten champs 2014-2015

Meanwhile, I’m delighted to deliver this news: The University of Maryland women’s basketball team are the 2014-2015 Big Ten champions in their initial season in the conference…and they didn’t even have to play Saturday to clinch the crown. That’s because Ohio State knocked off second-place Iowa, the only member with a chance of even tying the Terrapins. (How remote were the Hawkeyes’ chances? Maryland still has three games to play.) The Terps, ranked fifth nationally, are currently 15-0 in the B1G, bidding to become the first team to go 18-0 in conference play since Ohio State did it 30 years ago.

Posted February 22, 2015 by vp19 in Uncategorized

A picture palace, UK style   Leave a comment

Posted by vp19 on 2015.02.20 at 20:02

Current mood: nostalgicnostalgic

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It’s mid-August 1933, and Carole Lombard stands on the steps of the courthouse in Carson City, Nev., as she gets a divorce from William Powell. And as Hollywood columnists attempted to figure out whom her next husband might be, little did they — or she, for that matter — know the answer could be found “across the pond” in one of Great Britain’s most illustrious film venues.

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Yes, some 2 1/2 years before they became “an item,” Lombard and Clark Gable were heating up the Stoll Picture Theatre in London…a venue that required plenty of heat (well, maybe not in August), as it seated 2,440 and by 1933 already had a great history to it.

The Stoll opened in November 1911 as the London Opera House, a project of American theater impresario Oscar Hammerstein, who wanted his own version of the fabled Royal Opera House:

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The interior was equally gorgeous:

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Hammerstein’s intentions were good, but he didn’t have the connections or resources to compete with home-grown rivals and closed it in June after undergoing substantial financial losses. A French group took it over in December with similar lack of success, and in 1916 Oswald Stoll gained control and made it a cinema house — just at the time movie attendance was beginning to boom. It remained a popular venue during the 1920s and for much of the 1930s, showing at least one other Lombard film, the classic “My Man Godfrey”:

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Wartime posed problems for the Stoll, and it stopped showing movies in September 1940. It reopened the following year as a live theater, including a nearly two-year run of “Kismet” with Alfred Drake in 1955:

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However, the Stoll closed for good on Aug. 4, 1957, as Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh starred in Shakespeare’s “Titus Andronicus.” A development company had bought the property, razing the building in 1958 and putting up an office building in its place. For many British theater and architecural buffs, the loss of the Stoll was one of the West End’s great tragedies.

Now that you know about the Stoll and its history, would you be interested in the program that featured “No Man Of Her Own”? An Oct. 6 baby is on its cover — though it isn’t Carole, but Janet Gaynor:

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And here’s the back page:

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The program measures 8.5″ x 5.5″ and according to the seller is in good condition, with some “very light ageing.” Bidding begins at $9.99, with the auction set to close at 7:10 p.m. (Eastern) next Thursday. For additional information or to place a bid, visit

Posted February 20, 2015 by vp19 in Uncategorized

Carole, avec les Quebecois   Leave a comment

Posted by vp19 on 2015.02.19 at 23:38

Current mood: energeticenergetic

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Carole Lombard’s character, film star Kay Winters, was said to have worn this outfit in Paris in the otherwise lackluster “Fools For Scandal,” but during the 33-plus years on earth, the real-life Lombard never visited a largely French-speaking area. She may have gone hunting with Clark Gable in western Canada, but she never came to largely Francophone Quebec.

However, that doesn’t mean the Quebecois didn’t care about Carole. Proof can be seen in the Sept. 10, 1936 issue of Le Courrier du Cinema...

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…a portrait and the closing part of a piece on her new film “My Man Godfrey.”

Elsewhere in that issue was a cover with up-and-coming Warners actress Marie Wilson…

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…an interview with Boris Karloff during a recent visit to Montreal, and photos of Olivia de Havilland and Errol Flynn.

The pages themselves are in fine shape, though there are no staples to hold them and other minor imperfections.

Bidding opens at $7.99, with the auction closing at 5:11 p.m. (Eastern) next Wednesday. To bid or find out more, visit (Oh, and while you’re in Montreal, could you please mail me a few cans of Habitant yellow pea soup, a Quebec favorite? Haven’t had it in years.)

Posted February 20, 2015 by vp19 in Uncategorized

Clark and Carole’s story is now in podcast form   Leave a comment

Posted by vp19 on 2015.02.18 at 17:40

Current mood: contemplativecontemplative

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The romance-turned-tragedy between Hollywood icons Carole Lombard and Clark Gable has been told through books (including the new novel “A Touch of Stardust”), movies and other media. Now the story is available as a podcast.

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Slightly more than a month ago — specifically on Jan. 13, near the 73rd anniversary of Lombard’s death — writer and film historian Karina Longworth created “Star Wars Episode II: Carole Lombard & Clark Gable,” a 41-minute podcast for American Public Media. (The term “star wars” here has nothing to do with George Lucas, the Force or what have you; it’s merely a reference to Hollywood stars during World War II. The first ep dealt with Bette Davis and the Hollywood Canteen.) The “YMRT” refers to “You Must Remember This,” the title of her podcast.

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Listening to Longworth’s take on the lives of Lombard and Gable, enhanced with music and a few audio clips, is quite a moving experience. There are a few minor errors, to be sure. Carole’s birth name was Jane Alice Peters, not Alice Jane, and the film she was to have made with John Barrymore at the time of her teenage auto accident was titled “Tempest,” not “The Tempest”; the property was unrelated to the Shakespeare play. (Oh, and “No Man Of Her Own,” the only film Clark and Carole co-starred in but made before either was interested in the other, is ignored.) But it provides a pretty good feel for Lombard’s life and career — from her post-accident work for Mack Sennett, to her meandering status at Paramount, to her breakthrough with Barrymore in “Twentieth Century,” and from then the relationship that in many ways has defined her legacy (although her cinematic talent, proto-feminism and perpetual modernity has more recently come to the forefront).

According to Longworth, her main sources for the podcast included “Fireball,” Robert Matzen’s authoritative book on the airplane crash, and one-time Lombard director Garson Kanin’s memoir “Hollywood,” whose chapter on Carole is particularly vivid. She added, “And I didn’t realize until after I finished the episode that there was a biopic about the pair made in 1976, starring James Brolin and Jill Clayburgh. You can watch it on Amazon Instant Video; I can’t tell you whether or not you should.” (Based upon my experience with the movie, I wouldn’t watch it until you first read and an interview with its oft-criticized screenwriter at

Find the podcast at

Posted February 18, 2015 by vp19 in Uncategorized